It's not just the people in our life who deserve a sweet reminder of how much we care for them - sometimes our pets need a treat, too! And, just like I try to be as conscious as possible about what I'm putting into my body, I try to be just as aware of what my pup eats (though he's been known to slurp down things like rocks and grime that I do not approve of, of course). These biscuits treats are a super quick, super healthy, and easy to make in a pinch. They can also be easily adjusted to be crunchier or chewier depending on your pet's preference and chewing needs.
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 eggs, or equivalent egg replacer (recommended: apple sauce)
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
~1/4 cup water
That's it! There are endless ways to amp up this recipe, too. You could add oats or even blueberries to give it a little more texture or fruitiness. Finn, however, isn't terribly picky, and this is my go-to staple for a fresh every day treat.
This weekend is the Summer Solstice - the official start of summer and the day of the year with the most sunlight. It's a perfect time for camping and other outdoor activities, and a day that has long been heralded as a time of celebration for cultures around the world - including my own Irish heritage. Here in Alaska, we get close to 24 hours of sunlight this time of year, and though I'm looking forward to darker days (when I don't have to wear a sleep mask!) I also look forward to solstice every year and some of the amazing observances held around the world to welcome summer.
One of my bucket list items is to witness the midsummer sun rise behind the ancient stones of Stonehenge. Unfortunately, while the site is closed this year, for the first time ever audiences worldwide can watch the sun set on June 20 and rise on June 21 via streaming service! The live event will be held on Facebook from June 20 at 9:26pm BST until June 21 at 4:52am BST. The steams are about 30 minutes each and will be able to be accessed afterward as well. More info here.
One of my Swedish friends introduced Scandinavian celebrations of the Summer Solstice to me, which include everything from dancing and merrymaking to wreath-making, strawberry cake, and more. Luckily, no matter where you are in the world this weekend, you can celebrate the Solstice Scandi-style online here.
If you're looking for a little something to get you in the solstice mood, I recommend you check out Damh the Bard (pronounced Dave the Bard). Damh is a self-described "modern-day Bard" who expresses his spirituality and love of folk tradition through music, storytelling, and poetry. "Noon of the Solstice" is one of his creations, and a perfect seasonal tune to celebrate the natural world blooming around us.
If you're interested in learning about other Solstice celebrations around the world, or fun ways to welcome in the summer at home, check out this excellent resource here.
There are a few things we can count on every spring. Days get longer and grow warmer, flowers return and speckle the landscape with color, and new life springs up everywhere. After all, humans aren't the only creatures romances blooms for this time of year!
June marks the height of "kitten season," when large litters of kittens are born after mating season at the first of the year. Many end up abandoned or in shelters, looking for their furever homes. This year marks the 45th Annual Adopt-A-Cat month, initiated by the American Humane Society, which looks to foster awareness for cat and kitten adoption. Besides donating, volunteering, and - of course - adopting, one of the things kitty lovers can do to celebrate Adopt-A-Cat month is to share our stories of all the joy, curiosity, and happiness our feline companies bring to our lives. Today, I'd like to share a little more about our favorite kitty, Ferrous.
Ferrous is also a special needs kitty. He has a small facial deformity and bad asthma. Still, Ferrous doesn't let these things stop him from living his best kitten life! He's a rather adventurous guy, and loves watching the world pass by from his copilot position on road trips. He's traveled the country with us - from his birthplace in Texas, up to New Jersey, on a few vacations down to the beaches in North Carolina, and all the way to Alaska on our last cross-country move. When he's not sneezing, shredding paper, or battling his worst enemy (the dog) Ferrous enjoys
birthday, Ferrous is getting a little less interested in making new friends and a bit paunchier around the middle, but he still remains the kooky, curious, sneezy baby we brought home all those years ago.
So, that's my story about my favorite shelter kitty! You can tell yours here.
Every year my son requests one specific dessert for his birthday: banana pudding trifle. I totally get why. My mother used to make this air, summertime desert when I was growing up, and it was one of my favorites, too. It's light, fruity, and cool, and there are so many ways to mix up the core ingredients that the dessert itself can be made in dozens of variations depending on the palate of who will be enjoying it!
As a trifle, this airy summer desert is made in layers of sponge, pudding, and fruit, topped with whip cream. I make the cake and the pudding from scratch, but of course that's up to you! One of my favorite "additions" is an extra layer of pineapple and some roasted coconut shreds on top, but even at it's most basic, this is a yummy dessert destined to please!
Note: If you do decide to make your pudding from scratch, please be mindful of egg replacers in this recipe. Puddings need a lot of binding, so things like applesauce and bananas aren't great substitutions here. Because a pudding needs things to be rather gelatinous, I usually use flax seed, but this is a great resource for egg substitutions in baking that may be helpful :)
2 1/4 cup all-purpose or 1-1 gluten-free baking flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups turbinado sugar
1/2 cup vegan butter
1/2 teaspoons unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup dairy-free milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup all-purpose or 1-1 gluten-free baking flour
3/4 cup turbinado sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups dairy-free milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons ground flax seeds
~9 tablespoons water
About 12 ounces of fresh strawberries, sliced
About 3 large bananas, sliced
1-2 containers of dairy-free whipped cream, for topping
About 10 ounces shredded pineapple (optional)
Roasted coconut shreds or almonds for topping (optional)
Now that you have all your layers prepared, it's time to stack them! Starting with your cake, poke some holes in the sponge with a fork and layer your strawberries (this helps the juices seep through and infuse the cake!). Next, spoon the pudding over the strawberries, then add bananas. Finish with whip cream :)
If you're adding in pineapples, I usually add them after the strawberries as I find that's the most potent flavor.
June is here, and summer has come.
Most etymologies claim the month of June is named after the Roman goddess, Juno, wife of Jupiter and goddess of marriage. Perhaps this is why June is regarded as such a great time for weddings and other celebrations of love? Or, it could be because June is the midpoint of the year, heralding the summer solstice and the longest day of sunlight. Either way, it's safe to say that June is typically a bright spot of the year, a month most often - and more than any other - associated with light, love, and warmth.
This year, though, things have been...different. Rather than having time to blossom over spring, we've instead been seemingly stuck in the dark chill of winter as the world struggles to overcome months of new devastation and decades of injustice. Summer may be here, but for so many, days are still very bleak.
There is hope. Just like summer comes after winter, there is always a bright spot at the end of a long darkness. And, just like the dandelions that crop up this time of year, hearts are resilient. It may not feel like it now, but we still have time to bloom.
I do not want to ignore the terrible tragedies and horrific events that have shaped our world in 2020. There is a huge amount of work that needs to be done to heal our world and make it a safer, equitable, and inclusive place for all. To right past wrongs and carve out a better future. To remember- or perhaps truly discover - how to love one another. But, instead of focusing on the things we've lost, on the hate and ignorance and cruelty that we have witnessed, I want to focus on the positive.
Things are changing. Voices are being heard. People are coming together, opening their hearts, and standing alongside each other in a movement toward what so many have wished and waited for so long: Change. Acceptance. Peace.
The world is a dark place. Be a bright spot. Be a dandelion, with deep roots, resilient spirit, and unstoppable beauty. Lift each other up, open your heart, and be a voice for hope and for change.
This morning I woke up to the sound of something stirring in the kitchen - literally. To stay close while social distancing, my son and his neighborhood friends have enacted a weekly potluck-style picnic out in the meadow behind our community. Each neighbor brings something to share with the group, whether homemade or store bought. They pile the food in a center buffet and eat, chat, and play games of catch with the neighborhood dogs and each other. After each picnic, my son and dog come home happy, full, and exhausted. Win, win!
My son, who insists he's "inherited a baking knack" is the group's resident baker. Today he made his favorite chewy oatmeal cookies for the picnic, and I was inspired to share the recipe with you!
1 cup soy butter, softened
1 cup turbinado sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened apple sauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups instant oats
1/4 cup raisins or walnuts (optional)
That's it! Easy peasy, super yummy, and a perfect treat for your next neighborhood picnic.
If I'm being honest, #DISNEYMAGICMOMENTS are one of my favorite thing about self-quarantine. These "daily bit(s) of pixie dust" sprinkle a little bit of magic, from park recipes to glimpses inside Disney Parks and Disney Cruise Line (easily one of my top favorite things ever), to bedtime stories read by Mickey, inspiring, encouraging, and uplifting these dark days with that special brand of Disney Magic.
Ever since taking my son on his first trip to Walt Disney World in 2012, Disney has become a big part of my life. We typically visit the park and enjoy a cruise every year, and we've come to have a special place in our hearts for many-things Disney. One of those special places, is churros.
This simple, very straightforward recipe can be made from ingredients you probably already have on hand. And, it's a quickie: we did ours in 30 minutes! The full recipe can be found online here. Adapting this recipe to be vegan-appropriate is super easy: just use soy butter, and 1.5 bananas (or 3 tablespoons of unsweetened applesauce) in lieu of eggs.
Of course, no churro feast is complete without a chocolate dipping sauce, and I made mine vegan and keto - just to offset some of the sugary carb goodness of the churros!
1 cup full-fat canned coconut
8oz semi-sweet chocolate
Super quick and very easy. Enjoy!
Ginger and molasses aren't flavors one typically associates with spring, but with all the gloom in the world right now, I really needed the warm notes of the holiday season to bring some comfort into my life...and my jar of molasses had sprung a leak, so I really needed to get that out of the fridge!
These are a holiday staple in my house, and every time we make them we experiment with a new component to play around with fun ways to dress up these traditional ginger molasses cookies with a little extra razzle dazzle! Our most recent favorite was this white chocolate and lemon creamy candy center and it is absolutely lovely!
1 1/2 cups unsalted soy butter, softened
1 cup sugar (1 1/4 cup if you're feeling extra sweet)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup unsulphured molasses
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
4 1/2 cups flour, sifted
4 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
12 ounces of white chocolate candy melts (finding dairy-free versions of these are super tricky but not impossible - these are my favorite)
1-2 tablespoon soy butter, chilled
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
Every time we go to Starbucks - which, admittedly, is a fair amount - there's one thing my son love to grab from the pastry case: banana bread. It's always been a household favorite, and was a staple in my house growing up, mostly because I like to eat bananas fairly green and once they developed any sugar spots whatsoever they were turned into either my great-grandmother's banana pudding, or banana bread.
Over the years I've struggled to come up with the perfect banana bread recipe, and friends, I think I've found it! We call this the Starbucks Copycat Banana Bread recipe, because it's the one that's come closest to meeting my son's demands for his pastry-of-choice at Starbucks but has been altered to meet our dietary requirements. This is my vegan version, but can be easily modified for any preference. We even make this gluten-free sometimes, too, and I'll leave those notes as well!
Ingredients (with substitutions)
2 cups whole wheat flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg replacer, or 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/8 cup sugar (we use Turbinado or sometimes coconut sugar for a slightly "darker taste"
1/2 cup vegetable oil (avocado is preferable, but coconut works great, too!)
2 tablespoons buttermilk*
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 very-ripe medium-large bananas, mashed
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (plus extra for topping)
* Making vegan buttermilk is super easy. In a mixing cup, add one tablespoon of lemon juice, then fill to the 1-cup line with soy milk. You'll be left with extra, but here are some fun ways to make use of your leftovers!
For gluten-free, replace 2 cups flour with 2 cups one-to-one gluten-free flour
For dairy version, simply use regular buttermilk and one egg instead of replacement
This is a recipe we make All The Time in my house and has become a family favorite. I hope you enjoy it, too!
Recently, the Internet has been going wild over Dalgona coffee, a sort-of instant coffee whip that went viral in this TikTok video. I'm more of a tea drinker than a coffee girl, but considering everyone (really, everyone) has been asking if I indulged in some Dalgona goodness, I decided to give it a try.
I made a few adjustments to keep it low-carb and dairy free - and added a little spice of my own - but let me tell you: it's amazing.
The recipe is very simple, and can be made for a hot coffee or an iced version. Any milk product will do for the base. Here is a great blog, with a quick vid and some cute Instagram posts if you want to check it out further!
2 tablespoons instant coffee
2 tablespoons sweetener (I used monkfruit)
2 tablespoons hot water
1 teaspoon cinnamon (totally optional, but incredible)
8 oz hot, warm, or cold milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)