The Adventure Begins

We’ve been quiet here, I’m guessing no one is still following along but I needed a spot to document this wonderful and wild journey.

We’ve been pondering (a) where we should take Ben to see and experience things and (b) how to afford it. 🙂 He wants to see the Tardis in England, he’s a huge Dr. Who fan but alas, passports alone for a family are size will cost over $1000. (I still hope to make that happen someday!) It’s also tricky in that with my work I’m pretty much on call all the time – I have to plan vacations literally 9 to 10 months in advance and I’ve got babies on the schedule for next spring and summer already. I can’t just drop everything and go on a trip, but I don’t have more than week off call for months into 2014.

Stateside Ben’s big wish was to see Harry Potter world in Florida. (He also wants to see California, a waterfall, a mountain, snow, I should write up his whole list.) I did some preliminary research and saw tickets for the park would run our family about $1,000, it’s a 16+ hour drive (I am NOT that ambitious) and plane tickets were about $400 each (times 8!) Plus hotel, food, etc, etc. I felt so sad to tell him but I just didn’t see any way we could financially pull that off anytime soon. He said that’s okay – he would be happy with going to visit Legoland or Going Bonkers here in town. 🙂 He’s such a sweet kid… and he had no concept of the money involved, so we’ll be sure to get him to Legoland at some point, too!

We were running Kit to an eye exam and when we came home there was a letter on our door step. I wasn’t expecting anything so I opened it and read the letter – several times, because I couldn’t believe what I was reading and was in complete shock. I think I worried Kit when he saw me crying and saw the FedEx overnight package and wondered what bad news the letter held! Continue reading “The Adventure Begins”

Muffin Recipe

This makes 2 dozen muffins or 2 loaves of bread (or half/half) so the amounts look like a lot and that’s why. We don’t split it but I’m sure you could. 1 cup of oil per 2 dozen muffins is one of the lower fat options we’ve found.

Freezer Muffins/Bread
3 c flour (can do some wheat, add wheat germ, etc)
1 t salt
1 T cinnamon (or pumpkin spice of doing apple or pumpkin)
1/2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda

Mix in large bowl. In another bowl combine:
2 eggs OR 2 T ground flax & 1/2 cup water, mixed
1 c oil (can do half apple sauce)
2 c sugar (We do 1 1/2 cups but could do less. Also could try half sugar/half honey?)
2 c “mix” (see below)
1 T vanilla (or half vanilla, half almond, half orange extract, etc)
1 c nuts (optional)
1/2 cup oats (optional addition, may need more moisture if you add oats)

Mix wet and dry, bake as 2 loaves at 325 degrees for 1 hour or bake as 2 dozen muffins at 375 for 15 minutes.

“Mix” can be:
apples (diced or grated) or applesauce
carrots grated
orange or lemon juice (1/2 cup)
pumpkin (I do 1 cup pumpkin & 1 cup applesauce)
raisins or craisins (I do only 1 cup)
zucchini grated

You get the idea. 🙂

Wrap muffins in sets of two or loaf in plastic wrap then in foil, stores well in freezer. Defrost in fridge. Makes great easy breakfasts or fast snacks. Can also be used for mini-muffins. If you are very careful about not over mixing the batter you can divide it in half after you combine the wet & dry and stir in two different additions. Half with lemon & coconut, half with banana. But again, be gentle so you don’t mix too much. These freeze so well that we often do a huge batch of pumpkin then a huge batch of banana. Also fun is to make a little streusel topping for them – mix a bit of flour, brown sugar, dash of cinnamon and then grate in some cold butter. Mix up, sprinkle on top. Yummy! 🙂

Every combination we do of these turns out a bit different with moisture, rise, etc. It’s a big experiment but always yummy. If you are planning to freeze them then you may want to do full oil – the applesauce/oil ones are drier and seem to not freeze and defrost as well.

White Cupcakes (Vegan)

This made a dozen full size and a dozen mini size cupcakes for me.

Update – these are dangerously yummy. I ate five and I’m not kidding and they weren’t the baby size ones.

1 TB apple cider vinegar
1 ½ scant cups plain soymilk (or rice milk or water or powdered milk)
2 1/8 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 1/8 cups sugar
½ cup oil
1 ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. coconut extract (I just did 2 t vanilla or 1 t vanilla and 1 t almond)

Preheat the oven to 350º. Spray 22 muffin cups with nonstick spray or line with paper cupcake liners, set aside.

Place the apple cider vinegar in the bottom of a liquid measuring cup and fill the cup with soymilk to equal 1 ½ cups. Stir well and set aside (the mixture will curdle). I did 1 cup rice milk & 1/2 c water, it did not curdle but oh, well.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another mixing bowl whisk together the soymilk mixture, canola oil, vanilla, and coconut extract. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and beat until smooth using a hand-held mixer, stopping once to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Fill each muffin cup half full. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean.

Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then remove cupcakes from the pan and place on a wire rack. Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting.

One of our favorite variations with these is 1 t vanilla and 1 t peppermint oil, then stir in some crushed candy canes. They’re amazing!

Vegan Cookies Revised

I’ve been playing around with this recipe and this is my favorite version thus far. It’s vegan but can be made with an egg if you prefer (just leave out the water & flaxseed in that case.) Until our backyard hens start producing we just default to vegan. So, recipe:

1 heaping tablespoon ground flaxseed combined with
1/2 c water (Mix these first, they’ll form an egg like consistency)

Then add in:

3/4 c brown sugar
3/4 c white sugar
3/4 c canola oil
1 t vanilla
1 t salt

Mix well, then stir in:

2 c flour (I did 1 white, 1 wheat)
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 1/2 to 2 c quick oats
1 c diced nuts (or not)
1 c chocolate chips (or craisins, etc)

Optional – M&Ms, crisp rice cereal for crunch, coconut, etc.

Scoop onto well greased cookie sheet or use a silicone mat, and bake at 350 degrees around 10 minutes. Let cool a minute then transfer to cooling rack. These can be baked as small scoops or use 1/4 cup measuring for giant cookies.

Each batch of these turns out different depending on what I add for mix ins, which can obviously thicken them up more like cake cookies or make them thin and flat and chewy. I prefer the flat, chewy, slightly underdone. Since these are egg free they are safe to bake a short time and leave gooey. Or just eat the dough, which is also yummy!

We use ground light flax we buy in a bulk bag from Sams (or Costco has a jar of it, and some local grocers.) You can also buy flaxseed whole and grind it yourself, I’ve just been too lazy to price it out and try that method. We used flaxseed instead of egg in everything because of our egg allergy boy – pancakes, waffles, cookies, muffins, coffeecakes. We use baking powder instead of egg in our cornbread. For desserts like lemon bars we use silken tofu, for lemon curd or key lime pie we use cornstarch instead of egg. The only thing we’ve not been able to figure out is creme brulee – it’s pretty egg dependent. 😀