Monday, January 30, 2012

Caleb's favorite

Any time I ask Caleb what he would like me to bake, he without fail always says something like this:
"Something with chocolate...What about that chocolate coffee biscotti?"
I have to say, Elana worked her magic with this double chocolate mocha biscotti recipe. It is absolutely delicious. And it's Caleb's favorite thing that I bake. Especially when he can have a latte along with it.

I would highly recommend making some of this as soon as possible! It's healthy, low in carbs, and feels special. 

To find the recipe, go here.

 Don't forget that you can make your own almond flour! Just grind some blanched almonds in your food processor or coffee grinder...voila! Almond flour! If you can't find arrowroot powder, try subbing corn starch and see if that works. I've read in the comments that they have successfully made this recipe with corn starch.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Oatmeal raisin cookies

I love new cookbooks. And I think I could say I love them even more when the whole book is filled with desserts and baked goods!

One of my new favorite cookbooks is called The Ultimate Gluten-Free Cookie Book (By Roben Ryberg). Doesn't that name even sound wonderful- a whole cookbook filled with cookie recipes?!

So here's a delicious recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies- whether you make these gluten-free or not, I can guarantee they'll be good! They were super satisfying, and the pumpkin pie spice gave them a nice warm, comforting flavor.

(All credit goes to Roben Ryberg for her original recipe- you should buy her book!)

Makes about 30 cookies

1/3 cup oil, 65 grams
1/3-1/2 cup brown sugar, (100 grams if not using stevia)
1 cup brown rice flour + 1/2 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour (or another type of flour), 185 grams*
1/2 cup rolled oats, pulsed in a coffee grinder to make smaller pieces, 50 grams
1/2 cup raisins/cranberries, 80 grams
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon stevia (or more if desired)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon guar gum/xantham gum
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2-1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
3 tablespoons water

Glaze (optional):
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon softened butter
2 teaspoon milk

1. Preheat the over to 350F. Line a cookie sheet with baking/parchment paper.
2. In a medium-size bowl, combine the oil and sugar. Add the flour and mix. Add the rest of the ingredients and beat well. Be sure to get it as smooth as possible!
4. Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes, until they are golden. Let cool (or else they fall apart in your hands while you eat them warm!)
5. If making the glaze, combine the ingredients to form a smooth paste. Drizzle it over the tops of warm cookies.

(*I mixed the two, because I don't like 100% rice cookies...I feel like the taste is just a tad bit off)

Claire's notes:
- I always try and reduce sugar amounts in my baking, so that's why I added the stevia. It's just my personal preference, but I thought I'd add it in, in case you wanted to make it exactly like I did.
- If making this with normal all-purpose flour, omit the guar gum, and combination of g-free flours, and maybe reduce the oil just by a tiny bit. I don't actually know though...I don't use normal flour these days anymore! Let me know if you make this with normal flour, and tell me how they turn out!

Sit down for a cup of warm milk with honey, a nice fire (or a big cozy blanket), and one of these cookies, and it could just be the best part of your day.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Books to cherish

This Christmas, Tyler cleaned out his room.

It's not completely empty, but most of his "stuff" is gone. He's getting married soon, and won't be using his old room again once he comes back! It's a little weird, but exciting too.

The night before he left, he gathered some items that he thought some of us would like to keep. I had said goodbye to him that night, so didn't see what he had reserved for me. I woke up the next morning, and outside my door sat a pile of neatly stacked books from my brother.

Now, you have to know something about Tyler. He loves his books. He loves any book, but he treasures his own even more. He was always slightly hesitant to lend his hardback copies in particular, in case someone bent the pages (dog-earing is not acceptable!), or spilled something, or left the book somewhere.

So a stack of books from Tyler to me doesn't just mean he needed a place to store them. He entrusted those books to me. And now I can handle them with much care, just like he did. I promise I won't leave them open on the floor, or eat chocolate while reading (teehee), or let Kaylee sit on my lap while I read. I'll try to be just as nice to these books as Tyler was. They're used to a high standard that I'll need to live up to!

Most of the books he left me are ones that he knows I've read and liked. The others are ones that he thinks I would enjoy. Either way, these books are precious to me, which is why they deserve a special spot right on my windowsill. I want to remember Tyler and the way he cherishes stories and art, and be inspired by the creativity stored inside each one of these books.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cake truffles

Do you remember when I posted about cake pops last year? Well, they were really tasty, but also quite difficult to put on a stick. Seems simple enough in theory, I know, but it's much harder when you're actually doing it! So this year, for Caleb's birthday, I made cake truffles.

Ahhh...extra chocolate. That's the best.
Pretty much, it's the same idea as cake pops, just without the stick. I used a gluten-free yellow cake mix (*gasp!*) from the States, because I needed to work quickly. The cake actually tasted really good when I baked it! I would highly recommend Betty Crocker gluten-free mixes.

 Anyway, as the binder for the cake, I used a delicious caramel frosting recipe for half of the cake truffles (included below), and raspberry jam for the other half. Both versions were tasty, but the caramel frosting was definitely fancier.

For the directions on how to make the cake pops, just follow steps 1-7 from this recipe, and then use a fork to dip the truffles into the chocolate, or candy coating. It'll be messy any way you do it, so just enjoy getting your fingers all chocolatey. You can call it an excuse to lick your fingers. (Just be sure to wash them before dipping more truffles!)
I just melt my chocolate in the's the easiest way!
So shiny and chocolatey, but not perfectly round like Bakerella's cake pops- she's the best!!
I wish I had a picture of the insides of the truffles, but I was preparing them so fast that I didn't get a chance to have a photo-shoot with these little beauties.  I do have two more hidden in the freezer for a rainy day (maybe today??), so if you are really curious, maybe, just maybe, I could snap a picture of the cake inside. But I'm sure you can use your imagination a little and just picture the yummy goodness!


Caramel frosting

1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
6 tbsp unsalted butter or margarine
1/3 cup any type of milk (cow's, rice, soy...)
1 pinch salt
1 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted 
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar,  butter, milk, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium and boil 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; cool completely. 

Stir in confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth and thick enough to spread on cupcakes.

*Update: I got a picture of the truffles before we ate the last ones!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Happy Birthday Caleb!

Today is Caleb's 19th birthday! I'm so grateful to have him as my brother. It's sad to think that this is probably the last birthday he'll spend at home for a while. *Sigh* Well, I'm happy to be celebrating with him this year!

Never a dull moment with Caleb, that's for sure! We have always had lots of fun together.

Happy Birthday Caleb!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Almost finished for now

I haven't disappeared. I have gone into a sort of cave though: A studying cave. Or at least it feels like that.

It's been a crazy busy time with finals and the finishing up of my first semester of 12th grade. These past two weeks I've been running nonstop. But it's coming to an end soon! Our "grade books" close next Wednesday... I can make it until then. I can. I will.

Until then, I'm trying to take in the little encouraging things along the way... through Instagram, as it's the easiest and fastest way to capture moments!

This mug is special, because Tyler works at Joe's Coffee Shop at Moody. He gave me this mug. But it's even more special because it is from the first line of official Joe's mugs! It makes me think of Tyler every time I drink tea out of it. 

And one more thing! It's Caleb's 19th birthday tomorrow!! Happy birthday 1 hour early Caleb!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

God is good

I can't say those words enough these days.

God is good. 

This season of holidays was especially meaningful to me. And I know it was all a gift from God. These moments were some God's gifts to me this Christmas:

Tyler and Lara came to visit for the first time together.

 I experienced life with an "almost" sister for the first time.

We got to see my dad speak at the midnight service on Christmas Eve in Havirov, the city I lived in until I was 6.

We had a peaceful, joyful Christmas together.

My Patty grandparents came to visit us (they're in their 80's, but that doesn't stop them from traveling!!).

We started off the New Year with our dear friends, the Ellenwoods.

School started up again...normal life continues, but our God is the same...

Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow.

God is good. 

And I praise Him for that.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

New Golden Arches

Last month, the closest McDonald's was about 40 minutes away.

Now we have our very own Golden Arches in Frydek Mistek, which is only 12 minutes away!
And just have to comment on that monster front of McD's??? Curious what it's doing there. 

For most of you Americans, McD's is probably just another fast food restaurant. It may not be the first one you choose (it wouldn't be my favorite if I lived in the States!). But here, we have limited choices for fast food chains.

Pretty much, in our area of Czech, we have KFC, McD's, some Asian fast food, and for some reason, lots of kebab stands. So a new McDonald's is a pretty big deal for us! And plus it has a fancy McCafe too... yep, I said fancy.

Most of the McDonald's restaurants in Czech have lately been remodeled. They are actually really nice places to be! It's kind of comforting to get a little taste of America every now an then.

My Mom has a particular fondness of McDonald's (not because the food is always the greatest, but you know, there is a charm to it now and then). Mainly, she has fun memories from a time in her life about it on her blog!

Internet issues

I can't believe I actually can post right now. For the past couple of weeks we've been experiencing problems with our internet. This past week, it went off completely. Every once in a while we get a sudden burst of it, and it comes back on. Why is it having problems? We're not exactly sure.

Until it is stable, we'll see how much I can post.

Internet is one of those things that you never really realize you use a lot, until you lose it. So I'd like to thank the internet for a couple of things...maybe that'll get me on its good side again, and it'll decide to go off strike. Please internet, could you cooperate?

Here's what I like about you, Internet:
- You are always willing to help me with school work
- You are the quickest mailman ever
- You're always on top of the latest news
- You keep me connected with people I can't see face-to-face
- You are the biggest cookbook
- You give me inspiration for decorating, baking, writing, art...
- You're USUALLY reliable

Anyway, hoping to get one more post out before the internet goes back out. I feel like this is happening every day: