December 17, 2013

Art Journal III

Being creative always brightens my day.  Sometimes when I am having a bad day or a bad week I start feeling the need to so crafts.  Sometimes I want to bring out all my craft supplies and spend hours making things, other days I need something light and easy.  During this crafting session I just pulled out my water colors and started putting colors and designs wherever I felt. This time I started in the center and worked my way out, painting whatever I felt and was inspired to create.

I began my painting with a star in the center.  This star was inspired by the sun/star decoration from the movie Tangled.  Its my favorite movie.  I am not the best artist so it came out a little odd, but painting relieved the stress I was feeling.

December 11, 2013

Long Walks at Christmas Time

Tonight I went on a long walk.  It was one of those walks that I needed to clear my head.  Sometimes my brain just ruminates on the same topic over and over again for hours and I end up obsessing and working myself up over things I can't control.  This is an ongoing problem that makes me unable to relax and move forward.  To help combat this circular thinking today I went on a long walk around my neighborhood. 

The scenery was amazing.  I couldn't help but look up at the setting sun and be amazed at the shadows it made on the mountains.  Not only was the scenery gorgeous, but the christmas decorations put a smile on my face.

In my neighborhood people go a little crazy with christmas decorations - but in a good way.  I do love christmas lights, but this year I feel so much more in the holiday spirit coming home from work everyday and seeing these gorgeous light displays.  Obviously since I took my walk while the sun was setting I wasn't able to take pictures of all the houses with there lights on, but don't worry, those pictures will be coming soon. There were so many cute decorations, so here are a few I hope make you smile. 

Typical AZ Chirstmas "Snowman"

December 6, 2013

Quick and Easy Oat Snack on My Day Off

It's my second day off work, and I am feeling well rested and ready to do some baking.  So I have had this recipe on my 'to do' list for months now.  And its super easy, I am not sure why it took me so long to get up and make the dang thing.  There is a lot of sugar in these, and at some point I may try to rework these, but for now I am sticking to a tried and true recipe.

I found the recipe on Happy Hour Projects.  And these are called English Flapjacks.  They are an easy oatmeal snack, not super healthy, but very tasty.  The original recipe said that it makes about 14 small cakes, but I did not want to take out two cupcake tins so I pushed all the mix into 12 cakes.  You can even make them in large muffin tins which would make less little cakes, but would give you a bigger snack.

The Recipe:
3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup butter substitute
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tbs golden corn syrup

How to:
Melt brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup in a small pot.
When the sugar is completely dissolved add in rolled oats. 
In a greased cupcake tin, portion out oat mixture into each tin.
Bake 18 minutes at 350 degrees.

The Result:
These are really good.  I like them because they are super quick to put together, and in no time at all I can have a fiber-ous snack that I can eat all week!  For all the sugar they have in them they are not as sweet as I expected.  They just have a touch of sweetness which makes them tasty.  Next time I think I will try to make them more like a granola bar by adding nuts and maybe dried fruit to it.  I think the addition of vanilla to the recipe would be really good too.  

You can find the recipe here.

December 1, 2013

Awesome Chocolate Protein Cookies

Guess what the secret ingredient is?  Black Beans.  That's right, black beans.

So I have tried cooking with black beans before, I tried to make brownies, which had a bit of a mixed result.  So I was a bit weary of the recipe.  But I decided to give  it a try.

The Recipe:
1 cup black beans
2 tbs coconut oil
2 tbs nut butter
3-4 tbs milk (substitute)
1/4 cup sucanat
1/4 cup agave nectar
4 tbs cacao powder
1 tbs cinnamon
1tbs gluten free flour
1 tsp baking powder
1tsp salt

I made my own beans but soaking them, the boiling them for a few hours.  I did not add any seasoning to my black beans either, so I think that is why my cookies came out so good.

How to:
In a food processor (or blender) blend together black beans, oil, milk, and nut butter until smooth.
Next add all other ingredients and blend until well combined.  The original author of this recipe says the batter should be similar to a thick mousse.
Dollop batter onto grease cooking sheet (or one lined with parchment paper or foil).  The recipe makes about 9 cookies the size of your palm, more if you go for smaller cookies.  You may also need to use your spoon to form cookies into round shapes.
As an afterthought I added some dark chocolate chunks to the tops of my cookies before baking.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
Immediately remove from oven, and let cool.

The Results:
Oh, wow!!!! Best black bean cookie ever!  I was very excited about this recipe because it tastes like a cookie made with flour.

I may have used even more soy milk than I wrote down.  In my blender it was too thick to process, so I needed much more milk to smooth it out.  But they came out soooo good.  You have no idea.  I am so happy to have this recipe!

You can find the original recipe here.  I changed a few little things.

After eating the ten cookies the recipe produced I immediately made more.  I tried replacing the 1 tbs of GF flour with ground flax seed, and it did not produce the same quality of cookie.  The cookie hardly holds itself together.  I am not completely sure why this is, maybe my dough had a little more milk in the second batch, but if that is not the reason it is because I used flax seeds.  So dont use flax to replace the flour.