Monday, February 28, 2011

My little buddy

I just couldn't resist sharing this picture with you all. This is Lia. She's my little five-year-old fellow JVK, whom I absolutely adore!

My mom and I were at Albert (our local grocery store) and ran into Lauren (Lia's mom) and the kids. It was such a pleasant surprise for both her and me! I love small-town life.

The crazy part is that I'm the older friend now. I remember, what seems like not that long ago, when interns or any Americans came to Czech for camps or missions trips, I was just in awe of them. I felt so special when they would talk to me. I was pretty shy when I was little, so when someone came to me, it meant so much to me. I'm so happy that today I can be that person to someone else. How strange, yet wonderful. 

Times have, and constantly are, changing. 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Change up your breakfast!

We all know... Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But do you treat it that way?

I love breakfast. You've probably heard me say that before. It's the first meal of the day, it gets me started in the mornings, and I can have whatever I want. But sometimes I get in "ruts", where I get bored of my morning meal. This is the reason why I'm always searching for new, fast, filling and healthy breakfast recipes.

When I first made millet, to be honest, I didn't like it. It was crunchy, did not taste like a breakfast food, and was a funny texture. Turns out, I had cooked it wrong! The key to cooking millet is enough liquid, and keeping it under the lid to cook (without stirring, like with rice). I didn't give up on millet, even after my first attempt. I was committed to finding a good recipe, because millet is such a good substitute for oatmeal (most oats are contaminated by gluten, so we have to import gluten-free oats) and we can buy it here in our local grocery store!

After trying a few different recipes, I finally found one that satisfied. I've almost got it down by heart now, and it's super easy! I make it first thing when I get up and drink tea as I wait for it to be done. Mmmm..wonderful!

So give it a chance...perk up your morning with this hot milllet porridge.

 Millet porridge

By Jenny Sanders on

Prep Time: 5 min
Total Time: 30 mins 
Servings: 1-2 - depending on how much you eat in the mornings! :)  

    • 1/3 cup millet
    • 3/4 cup water
    • 1/2 cup skim milk or 1/2 cup soymilk- or any other milk you have on hand! 
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 pinch salt
    • 2 tablespoons raisins ( or more, to taste) -I use cranberries here
    • maple syrup or honey or other artificial sweetener, to taste, fruit to top (optional)


  1. Measure out millet and rinse thoroughly in a fine mesh sieve - this takes off the outer bitter coating on the millet, making it taste better and be healthier for you! 
  2. In a small saucepan, combine millet, water, milk, cinnamon, vanilla, salt and raisins.
  3. Bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes without stirring. Keep an eye on it. It might be done earlier
  5. If the liquid is not completely absorbed, cook for 3-5 minutes longer, partially covered.
  6. Remove from heat.
  7. Drizzle with maple syrup or honey (optional: top with some fresh fruit).
  8. Serve.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

In the moment

 I walked into the living room casually, holding a glass of water, in the middle of saying something to my mom, when I saw this:

Oh Lily, you just made my evening! Maybe this is what dogs do when we're not paying attention.

 I hope this made you smile. It sure made me!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cake pops

If you've never heard of cake pops before, you're in for a real treat. They are so much fun and are easier than you think to make.

The first person to introduce cake pops to the blog world was Bakerella . And rather than explain what cake pops are, I'll let Bakerella do the job!

Yep, it's that simple. 

It does get a little tougher however, when you have to make them gluten-free. But thanks to Elana over at , I can now successfully make my own beautiful cake pops.

 Yesterday we had the Ellenwoods over and Hayley and I made cake pops. Let me just say that they were a blast to make! Definitely something that's more fun to do with somebody else. We made them Valentine's Day themed, though honestly, I don't think they'll last 'til Monday. They're so tasty!

Cake pops

1 Chocolate Cake, from The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook, page 84 (view the PDF)
(½ cup raspberry fruit spread (optional) -but for a more simple tasting recipe and easier to make, omit spread
1 cup dark chocolate chips 73% cacao - or other baking chocolate
1 package sprinkles

Special Equipment:
30 paper lollipop sticks - I had to use little wooden sticks called "spejle" in Czech, because I can't just run out to a craft store and get lollipop sticks!
2-4 Styrofoam blocks- I didn't have these either, so I improvised with a cardboard box and stuck them in the top lid so that they stuck into the box... it wasn't perfect, but it was good enough!
  1. Bake Chocolate Cake as directed on page 84 of The Gluten Free Almond Flour Cookbook
  2. Cool cake completely
  3. Once cooled, crumble cake into a big bowl, making sure there are no large pieces
  4. Mix raspberry fruit spread into crumbled cake, use back of a large metal spoon to combine
  5. Mixture will be moist enough to roll into 1 ½ 1-inch balls and still hold a round shape
  6. After rolling, put on a parchment lined plate and place in freezer for 25 minutes (if you make without fruit spread) at least an hour if you make it with the fruit spread.
  7. Melt dark chocolate in a very small pot, over very low heat
  8. One at a time, dip about ½ inch of the tip of a lollipop stick into melted chocolate
  9. Insert the lollipop stick straight into a cake ball, no more than halfway through
  10. Holding stick with cake ball attached, dip entire cake ball into melted chocolate, until covered
  11. Make sure chocolate coating meets at base of lollipop stick; this helps secure cake ball to stick
  12. Twirl any excess chocolate coating off the cake pop so it is evenly coated
  13. Apply sprinkles (if desired)
  14. Place cake pop into the Styrofoam block
  15. Complete with remaining cake pops and allow set completely
  16. Serve your gluten free Cake Pops!
(You can store these gluten free cake pops in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days)
Makes 30 Gluten Free Cake Pops

Claire's notes: I know it looks like a lot of instructions, but just watch the video a few times, and you'll get it. It's not that complicated! 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Claire Friendly Pudding

Most of you know (or you read my pages at the top of my blog) that I'm lactose-intolerant. A lot of the time, I don't mind it very much, but there are some things that I really do miss. 

Things like cheese, milky ice-cream, or yogurt aren't replaceable. Yes, I've tried soy yogurts and soy ice-cream, but I didn't like those at all. I've found many milk replacements that I really like (almond, lactose-free, rice...), so that's not a problem. I was never a fan of milk chocolate, and dark chocolate is still there for me to indulge in (if it doesn't have milk fat in it!! Always check!). 

There is one thing that I never thought I'd be able to have again (without some serious stomach pain): pudding.

There is something comforting about mixing up a good-ol' Jello mix of vanilla or chocolate pudding and eating it with some sliced up bananas. It used to be a favorite dessert of mine, even though we didn't make it that often since we imported Jello pudding from the States. 

Today, however, I found something that, in my opinion, is even better than Jello pudding. Plus, it's homemade. And (relatively) healthy. What more could you ask for? It's also chocolate, which in my book is always a bonus. 

I'm sure you're all anxious to know, what is in this recipe? How can you make pudding without cream, milk or...even tofu? Here's how:

Ingredients (4 servings) - I only made half of this recipe, and it was enough for 3 of us! It's so rich, so you don't need a lot of it to satisfy!
  • 2 cups avocado (about 2 medium avocados)
  • 1 cup of cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • banana slices for garnish
Optional: To make it a bit lighter (as in milk chocolate pudding), add about 2-3 tablespoons of milk (almond, coconut, or other kind), or to taste, and blend well. - I used some lactose-free milk I had on hand 


  1. Add all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and whirl until it is creamy and fully blended. Scrape the sides to get all the cocoa powder in the pudding.
  2. Chill for 30 minutes and then eat! 
Don't be scared of using the avocado. You can't taste it at all. Seriously, this pudding is amazing. So tasty. So rich. So creamy. So satisfying. And best of all: no dairy

(This recipe is courtesy of - here's the original recipe)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Beautiful mornings continue

Every morning of my Spring break so far has been absolutely breathtaking. God has treated me with the pleasure of clear blue skies, crisp cool air and quiet mornings. It's been so relaxing and refreshing.

I just can't keep all of this beauty to myself. Take a morning stroll with me. 

The little airport tower

And then, the sun came up...

Almost home

So although today was a little bit frosty and cold, it was still a treat to go out and walk. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Unnoticed Beauty

I found this run-down house and fell in love with it...

I was so shocked that by the road where we have driven so many times, I found this treasure. Forgotten. Beautiful.

Don't you wonder what the story is behind this multicolored window...

House with  the red door. 

A man's work- our men's work!


The search for life

This is Pablo. Or, that's his nickname really. He runs back and forth in his yard and barks at anyone passing. It's so funny. We all think he's pretty charming too. Not to mention feisty!

A journey somewhere. 

Do you see Rupert? He's our neighbor's dog. He's quite the roamer...just taking a morning stroll all on his own! He was pretty shy though and didn't want his picture taken. 

Trickle of a stream
These are all from my walk yesterday morning. I wish you all could've experienced it for real, but I hope these pictures do some justice to the beauty that I saw. All glory goes to God for these pictures. It's His Creation!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Don't wait

There are some things that we wait, and wait, and wait to do, until the perfect occasion presents itself. Most of the time, that perfect day never comes, or we just don't see it. I know this, because it is exactly what I do. I like to plan things out, make them perfect, be decided on one thing. But life isn't all about plans.

Don't wait.

Be a little spontaneous.

Those times where you do something fun, just for the sake of doing it, are some of the best memories.

 I'm more saying this to myself than to anyone else. I struggle with the details. I also delight in the details. Today, I found something that let me appreciate the details, but not get caught up in them. It was refreshing. It calmed my spirit. It gave me peace. So you tell that kind of spontaneity worth it, even though it could be risky?

Last night, I decided to wake up early the next morning to go for a walk, before the sun even came up. Mornings are my favorite, though most of the time I forget that. I'm very influenced by my surroundings, and let's just family aren't really morning people! They don't mind mornings or anything, they just would rather sleep in than wake up early if possible.

Today, when my alarm went off at 7 AM, I wondered if I was really going to do it. I looked out my window and saw a clear blue-pink sky. It was now or never.

I would like to say this now...mornings are the best. Nobody was around. No cars, no hikers. All I could hear were the streams bubbling alongside my path, the occasional dog barking, and the wind in the trees. Glorious.

 There's a song that was playing in my mind as I walked in the silence. The lyrics go like this:

For You and You alone
Awake my soul, awake my soul and sing
For the world You love
Your will be done, let Your will be done in me.

I approached my house at the end of my walk just as a sun beam shot across the mountain and shone on all the mountains across the valley. I stopped right in my tracks. It was breathtaking. I stood on our patio, and watched as the beam got bigger and bigger, until it shone across the whole top of Lysa Hora.

It felt like witnessing the world waking up.
The song by Chris Tomlin continues:

Like the rising sun that shines
From the darkness comes a light
I hear Your voice and this is my

Perfect. There is no other way to describe the glory of God that shines like the morning light. Just then, the sun came up over the mountain. It was blinding. Instantly, the world was warmer and the new day had really begun. 

So don't wait to do something you really enjoy, or want to do. It can give you a new perspective on the day. But let God be in the middle of whatever you do. His presence changes everything. 

Oh, and don't forget to take in His Creation. It really is beautiful. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Almost done

All week I've been cooking, cleaning and baking, while Mom's been gone. Tomorrow, that time comes to a close. I've enjoyed the challenge, but I'm ready to get back to just helping in the kitchen. It's a lot harder than I thought to actually plan, shop for and cook dinner on time! 

Two of my favorite things to make (not to mention to eat!) were Grilled Chicken Stuffed With Basil And Tomato, and Sweet Potato Ginger Spoon Bread (not served together). Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of the spoon bread, so the one used on the website where I got the recipe will have to do. 

Grilled Chicken Stuffed With Basil And Tomato

Serves 4.
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 6 ounces each)
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • For the Stuffing
  • 12 fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 2 beefsteak tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  1. Butterfly chicken breasts: Put halves on a cutting board, smooth sides down, with the pointed ends facing you. Starting on one long side, cut breasts almost in half horizontally (stop about 1/2 inch before reaching the opposite side). Open cut breasts like a book. Sprinkle each piece all over with 1/8 teaspoon salt; season with pepper. Transfer to a plate, and coat both sides with garlic and oil. Let stand 30 minutes.
  2. Heat a grill or grill pan until medium-hot. Place 3 basil leaves on the bottom half of each opened chicken breast; top each with 2 slices tomato. Fold over other half of chicken breast, and secure with two toothpicks or short skewers.
  3. Grill chicken breasts, turning once, until golden brown on both sides and no longer pink in the center, about 15 minutes. Place on a clean serving platter; garnish with basil. If desired, remove toothpicks or skewers before serving.
Note from the website:
Before grilling, soak the toothpicks or skewers in water for 30 minutes to prevent them from burning. Butterflying the chicken -- splitting each piece in half and fanning it open like a book -- creates two layers. They make tasty "sandwiches" with tomato and basil.

Claire's Tip: Pre-roast your tomatoes in the oven for an even more flavorful meal! How-to can be found here. I served the chicken over gluten-free brown rice and millet noodles. Delicious!

(Credit for this recipe goes to

Sweet Potato Ginger Spoon Bread
Serves 8.
Butter, for baking dish
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal, plus more for pan
2 small sweet potatoes (12 ounces), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups low-fat milk (1%) - I used lactose-free milk, or you could use almond milk
2 large eggs, separated, plus 2 large egg whites
2 tablespoons light-brown sugar
1 tablespoon unsulfured molasses- I used black treacle- the British version of molasses
1 tablespoon grated, peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 2-quart baking dish and dust with cornmeal. Steam sweet potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and mash until very smooth; let cool slightly.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring milk to a simmer. Whisk in cornmeal in a thin stream. Cook, whisking constantly until just thickened, 1 to 3 minutes; remove from heat and let cool slightly.
3. In a large bowl, stir together mashed potatoes, cornmeal mixture, egg yolks, sugar, molasses, ginger, and salt. Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Stir in half of egg whites into cornmeal mixture. Very gently fold in remaining egg whites.
4. Spoon mixture into prepared baking dish, place on a baking sheet and bake until puffed and set, 35 to 40 minutes.

(Credit goes to for picture and recipe)