Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Birthday Blog and a Giveaway!

About three months or so ago, I told you that I would be hosting a giveaway. Well, the time has finally come! So in honor of my blog's second anniversary (two years ago in December) I shall host, along with some help, my first giveaway! I have been generously given any item of my choice up to a certain monetary value to giveaway from CSNstores.com. Have you heard of them? They carry items ranging from cookware, to china, home bar furniture, camping gear, health and fitness, and office supplies! While I was browsing their website(s) I couldn't help but notice all of the barstools they carry, which would have been great since my parents just redid the kitchen! CSN Stores is quite a large company (think Amazon sized) with several websites including allbarstools.com, cookware.com (my favorite), householdappliances.com (also my favorite), adirondack-furniture-direct.com/ (have you tried one of these chars? so comfy!), bookcases.com (very helpful as a college student) and fitnessequipmentandmore.com, where as the names of the sites suggest, you can find almost anything you need!

Only one person will can win this giveaway. It's too bad I can't giveaway something to everyone :(! But whatever happens, you will want to participate in this giveaway. I encourage you to enter. Who knows? It might just be that one elusive giveaway that you are destined to win! (At least I always feel that way :) Keep reading to hear about more...

Some of you are cooks or bakers or both, real foodies or college students. But regardless of your current status, everyone needs a:

wicked sharp paring knife

Le Cruset fry pan

a beautiful breakfast bowl


a miniature food processor

(Click the links to see the pictures!)

These are the giveaway items. You will not in all four, rather, the winner will win the item of their choosing!

Here's how to enter:

1) Comment saying which item you would chose if you won.

2) Post a link about this giveaway on your blog, link bag to my blog and also link back to CSNstores.com. Leave a comment saying that you've done so.

3) Update your status on Facebook with a link to my blog giveaway. Leave a comment saying that you've done so.

4) Email five friends about the giveaway, including the link to my blog. Leave a comment saying that you've done so.

5) If you have a Twitter feed, tweet about the giveaway! Leave a comment saying that you've done so.

6) Comment about how you found out about this giveaway - this could be as simple as "I already follow your blog and noticed it," or "I found your blog through a friend when she told me about the giveaway," or "I found you on Google," etc.

7) Have you tried one of my recipes? Did you like it? Did you do anything differently? Leave a comment on the original post and tell me. Leave a comment saying that you've done so.

8) Have a question you've been wanting to ask me? Never got around to doing it before? Well, now's your chance! Shoot me an email (you can find the address under my contacts page) and ask me your question! Please know that your question could possibly be will later be posted on a FAQ page that I am working on. I strongly value your input as readers! Leave a comment saying that you've done so.

9) Answer the question: What am I going to do with my chosen item if I won and why? Leave a comment answering the question.

The giveaway will close 3 weeks from today, which is January 11th. After that time, the winner will be chosen at random. Entries can be submitted up till the evening of January 10th. The winner will be announced on January 11th. And you will have your new culinary "toy" on your doorstep to play with in the first month of the New Year!

Unfortunately, this giveaway is only open to US residents - your address must be in the USA.

If you can do all methods of entry, then all the power to you :) That just means more times that your name is added into the hat. Each number counts as one entry, so doing all 9 options means you've entered the giveaway 9 times! I understand that number 4 is based off the honor system, and so I urge you to have integrity when you say that you've done this option (and all options!)

Any questions? Email me! I'd love to hear from you, but until then, good luck everyone! I hope this will be as fun for you as it has been for me!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Grain-free Cranberry Orange Muffins.

I have to admit that I've always been kind of afraid of cranberries. As long as I can remember the only thing I've ever known about cranberries has been in the form of sugar-overload canned cranberry sauce and equally sweet cran-raspberry juice we used to drink as kids. Only now that I am older did I learn that cranberrries are actually a real thing, and there is such thing as cranberry sauce NOT from a can. Through doing lots of reading, I learned that cranberries are a nutritional powerhouse, full of wicked strong anti-oxidants, but they are very tart. Since they are tart, food companies load all forms of cranberries with sugar (try buying plain cranberries, it's nearly impossible). But around Thanksgiving and Christmas, you can find these berries in their raw natural state in the local grocery stores. 

Yesterday was my first day home, which of course involved a trip to the farm, the grocery store and the natural food store with my mom. It was such fun :) To say that I like the grocery store is a bit of an understatement! As I was walking through the produce section, I spotted some organic cranberries. So I took a risk, bought them, and brought them home. My main motivation for the purchase was my dad, who is currently under the weather with a bit of a cold. He's been busy and his immune system is tired, so it caught him. What better to help him fight the icky germs than to make him a superfood muffin and brew him a cup homemade immune boosting tea? (Which I made myself at the health food store :D) So I set to work on these muffins.

Dark chocolate chips, plain, and sugar crystals!

Grain-free Cranberry Orange Muffins.

    3/4 cup  coconut flour – sifted
    1/2 cup  blanched almond flour – sifted
    1/2 tsp  celtic sea salt
    1/2 tsp  baking soda
    1/2 one  large (7”) organic vanilla bean pod seeds
    1/4 tsp  cloves
    1/2 cup  maple syrup (grade B is best for flavor)
    1/2 cup  organic coconut oil – melted
    2  real eggs
    1 cup  soured raw cow’s milk - buttermilk would work too
    juice  of one clementine orange
    zest  of one clementine orange
    1 cup  ground walnuts
    1 cup  organic fresh cranberries

To make your muffins:
  1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees convection. Place muffin papers in muffin tins.
  2) Combine milk, vanilla bean seeds, orange juice and zest in a large bowl. Mix well to make sure the vanilla seeds are distributed, and pour in cranberries.
  3) In another bowl, combine coconut flour, almond flour, salt, cloves and baking soda, making sure there are no lumps.
  5) In a small sauce pan, combine coconut oil and maple syrup. Gently heat until coconut oil melts. To not let mixture get very hot.
  6) In a small bowl, crack the eggs and whisk until bright yellow.
  7) Whisk eggs and coconut oil mixture into the large bowl with the dry ingredients. Pour in milk, and lastly, add the cranberries and walnuts. Mix until just combined.
  9) Scoop batter into standard muffin sized tins with a 1/3 cup measure.
 10) Sprinkle the tops with dark unsweetened chocolate chips or large sugar crystals, if desired.
 11) Bake for about 30-35 minutes (mine took exactly 33) and remove when a test inserted in the middle comes out clean, the tops are set and golden brown. 
  12) Let cool in the muffin tins for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. This lets the bottoms of the muffins firm up and not become soggy. Enjoy!

Dark chocolate chips

These are a great dessert or breakfast option. My family and I each had one after our dinner last night. They are not overly sweet, which I like. The liquids, eggs and coconut flour makes this muffin super moist and not the least bit dry. And the combination of immune boosting coconut oil, cranberries, nourishing eggs and mineral rich maple syrup pack a nutrition punch against these foreign invaders...

A bacteriophase (form of virus), infecting a cell!
Photo credit: USC
This is a human rhinovirus - the cause
of the common cold! Photo credit: Virusworld

I couldn't resist showing some science pictures. ;) 

Merry Christmas! 
^ It's after finals and I am finally beginning to believe that it's Christmas time. I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and enjoyed the time with family, friends and good food. Many of you mentioned how happy you were for all the Thanksgiving ideas I shared. I'm so glad that I helped! Since I heard such a great response from my Thanksgiving post, I will definitely be compiling a Christmas recipe post. I hope to do this soon so you readers will be able to plan ahead! My Thanksgiving was great, and I only have ONE picture to show for it. I enjoyed the day and wasn't taking pictures. I do wish I had taken more, but it was nice to spend the day relaxing (and cooking). N's family was so nice to host me again, since I have too far to fly home.

Also, for all of you who would like to know, I survived finals. Survived is the word to describe it because that's just what happened. Since I am a human biology major, I have alot of work to do. I am not complaining. I love it. That being said, it is very hard to study for tests for three science classes as well as a Theology class, as well as complete other miscellaneous homework that has to be done. I believe that I did alright on all my finals, which is definitely a praise.. but I won't know what my grades are like until January! I don't like the suspense!! Overall, I've had a very emotional week, and I can easily say my limbic system is exhausted. I still feel joyful, blessed and happy to be home. We don't even have snow yet! :( Cross your fingers for a white Christmas!!

See the muffin? = Yummy topping!

It's so nice to be back! Enjoy making these muffins! They also make a GREAT breakfast topping