Friday, December 31, 2010
New Year Thoughts and Bacon Lovers Treats...
Today has started off really well and I have a lot to get done, but when I sit down tonight it is going to feel good! The illustrator and I walked today. It was cold, but it felt incredible! We haven't been on a morning walk in months and even though it was 39 degrees out, the fresh air was just what I needed. Thank you to my in-laws for my new tennis shoes!  They put a new bounce in my step and make my feet feel like I am walking on air!

Everyone in the blog world is talking about the new year...all I can say is I am ready for a new beginning. We are looking for some simplifications in life and being more self sufficient. This year is going to be about  really getting to where we want to be ultimately. We were young when we got married, young when we had kids and while we are still young, we have started to really talk about our ultimate goals in life. You know the question about "where you see yourself in 5 years", well we have asked that of ourselves. We will see what this year brings, but I think there will be a lot of change for our group!

As far as food goes, we have changed a lot around here and I am loving it! We have all learned to accept the hands we were dealt with food allergies/intolerances. We have also learned to love some new things along the way. The boys are eating crazy things like beans and vegetables...I know crazy! I want to garden this year. The illustrator and I have talked about eating more seasonally too. This year is going to be spent learning about our environment and using it to our advantage!

Now, food! This was actually something I made when we had a get together with friends before Christmas. The pictures are horrible since there was no light, but I wanted to share anyway in case you are looking for some quick tasty snacks for get togethers  later today or tomorrow. The time kind of slipped by me these past couple of weeks and when Jessica posted something on bacon grease yesterday and it reminded me of the Candied Bacon Popcorn I made.

Of all the food that was made that day, this was the one thing that got the most attention.  I used my quickie caramel popcorn recipe with the addition of bacon grease for the caramel and bacon bits mixed in. While this is not something I would encourage you to eat everyday, I think it was a fun twist for a fun occasion! You could also use vegan bacon, but I sadly can't have that.

Candied Bacon Popcorn

10 cups air popped popcorn
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 TBSP bacon grease (or Smart Balance Light)
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup crumbled cooked bacon

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil sprayed with cooking spray.

In a small pot over medium heat, add sugars, syrup, bacon grease and salt stirring occasionally until it comes to a boil. Allow to boil for 2 minutes without stirring. When the sugar mixture is done boiling, add the crumbled bacon and pour the caramel mixture evenly over the popcorn and stir to coat. Pour the popcorn mixture in the prepared pan and lay in a single layer. Bake for 15 minutes. 

Another bacon creation the illustrator made was Bacon Deviled Eggs. His mixture had a little mayo, chopped egg yolks, stone ground mustard, sauteed onions, crumbled bacon, garlic powder, salt and pepper. The man loves his bacon!

Are you a bacon lover or not? Even vegan you like the flavor?

Any thoughts on the new year?

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 11:39 AM   21 comments
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Peanuts...Get Your Fresh Roasted Peanuts!
Schedule? I don't even know what a schedule is anymore. I have gotten up the past couple of days to work out, which is so much better for me than later in the day, but I still can't seem to get things done like I want to. Why do we have to sleep? I know I could get so much more done if only I did not have to sleep!

Since I took a little time off from working out when I was gone for Christmas, I decided to change things up a little and focus on different workouts for this week. I LOVE Core Fusion and I really wanted to do some relaxing muscle toning. I have done that the past 3 days and I am sore in places I didn't even know I used. For those of you out there that don't want to do a lot of weights (or can't) I highly recommend Core Fusion. It is the perfect combination of strength training and stretching. 

I haven't been cooking feasts here lately since we are really just going with the flow, but I knew I had to start doing something with those peanuts my grandmother sent me. The house smelled incredible yesterday with all the roasting and boiling of peanuts. I remember my grandfather boiling peanuts in a cauldron in his field when I was growing up. I cooked mine on the stove, but imagined I was in the field running around with my cousin and sister shooting BB guns and acting like crazy kids. Those were the days...

Really there was no recipe here. I took a lot of peanuts, covered them in water, added sea salt and boiled them for about 4 hours. YUM! Just like grandaddy!

Next up was roasting! Ok, so I over cooked them. Oops, but I plan to fix that by making chocolate peanut butter!

I figure that will only add to the roasted goodness. They aren't horribly over cooked, just enough to need a little sugar added to them. I roasted them for about 30 minutes, but really they only needed about 20. So, next time, I will do 350 degrees for 20 minutes. I will let you know how the chocolate peanut butter turns out. 

I am hoping to get my pictures from Tony soon from Christmas. I got a ton of kitchen gadgets from my mother-in-law and I am ready to put them in action. She even gave me an old school doughnut maker! I can't tell you the last time I had a doughnut...I can't wait! Do you have a favorite doughnut? I am an old fashioned kind of gal. I love a cake doughnut with a hint of nutmeg...ok, time to make the doughnuts!

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 2:25 PM   19 comments
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Tennessee Christmas
(The top photo is Christmas morning and the bottom two are the next day. The top and bottom photos are the view off my in-laws front deck! I am not sure you could ask for more?)

It feels like forever since I have written anything here. I miss it so much. This is definitely a place where I share so much of myself. I think taking some time away really makes you realize how important things are! We were in Tennessee at my in-law's house. They do not have wireless internet and cell phone service is spotty, but we did not care at all. We just enjoyed being with family in such an incredible setting. It's funny, I have lived in Atlanta most of my life, but I feel like my home is in Tennessee (specifically their place). This was one of the most enjoyable Christmases I have ever had!

I did not cook while I was there and my mother-in-law always sets me up with tons of salads, apples, oatmeal and pumpkin so I was set! We were completely taken care of like we were kids again. My mother-in-law even made gluten free mac and cheese and brownies for the illustrator. Like I we were kids again.

I will share more of our Christmas once I get pictures from the illustrator. My computer was a little upset with me for the amount of pictures I had saved on it, so I have been dumping a ton of stuff onto an external hard drive. I just wanted to say hi!


posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 8:19 PM   16 comments
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Happy Holidays
As I get older, Christmas has completely changed for me. Now that I have kids, I live through their excitement and the memories of what Christmas used to feel like to me. I am going to spend some relaxing times with my family and enjoy just being with them for the next few days. I am so thankful for the friendship of each and every one of you! This time of year is so crazy and I don't know that I will have much time, if any, to post until next Monday. So, I wanted to go ahead and say that I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas (or if you don't celebrate, some rest and relaxation).

I will definitely be back Monday with some fun stuff!

(I know this is not a Christmas photo, but it is my favorite family photo...thanks Nayoung!)

Merry Christmas to all!


posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 7:58 AM   25 comments
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
10 Pounds Of Peanuts!
So my boys all went chasing after the moon last night only to see a cloudy sky. They loved the adventure even if they couldn't see the eclipse. I was sadly awake for that hour. So, I slept in simply because I could. I think we could all use a little extra rest right now, so I just went with it. I hate working out later in the day though because I feel like the day is wasted even though I have already gotten things accomplished. I still need to work out though. It is crappy outside and that is sucking my motivation away!  I have to set times to work out when I start it later in the specific times. I will be working out at 2:00. Typing it makes it more I have to do it!

So, my grandmother sent me 10 lbs of raw peanuts for Christmas. Now I need ideas! I think I am going to make some "crack nuts" with peanuts instead of pecans. I am definitely going to make peanut butter...any other ideas?

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 1:51 PM   21 comments
Monday, December 20, 2010
Lazy Day...
I feel like it has been forever since I posted on here. I almost don't even know where to begin. Last week was crazy with school stuff for the boys. We had a chorus concert, a drama play, a band concert, a holiday party at school, icy roads that delayed school 2 hours, resumes going out everywhere (I am still looking for work), work for our company...yeah, the time flew by. We also had a few people over on Saturday for a holiday game night. It was so nice to have friends over since we are home all the time, we kind of miss out on the festivities of the season. Unfortunately...Max (9) is sick. Whatever he has, hit him all of a sudden on Saturday morning. This made it really hard for me to really enjoy the fun stuff going on in the house that evening because we had him quarantined upstairs and he felt so left out. So, I was upstairs with him a lot.

Yesterday was a complete day of rest for all of us. I don't know when the last time we did that was? We literally sat on the couch, the four of us, and watched Christmas movies the entire day. I did not cook anything. It felt amazing to just hang out with my family and not deal with anything! We ate leftovers from the past couple of days and tons of citrus fruit from our box of fruit. I don't know if I should be impressed or frightened by the amount of citrus we have consumed this past week. Hopefully this well guard the rest of us from the funk that Max has! Knock on wood!

Oh, I did have a tasty snack yesterday that is worth mentioning! I wanted something to dip my apple in, so I mixed together some Vanilla Epic Protein powder, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, a little water and a little stevia. 

The addition of the protein powder made the pumpkin creamy and thick. The subtle vanilla undertones worked perfectly with the pumpkin.

I love finding different ways to use protein powders since I don't do the smoothie thing. I will definitely be making more in the way of protein puddings for snacks. This was full of flavor and a perfect afternoon snack.

Review written for Go Dairy Free.

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 11:30 AM   18 comments
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Cookie/Apple Dumpling Cookies
Today is going to be a busy one and it has already started off on the wrong foot! I worked out, turned on the news for a second to see the weather and sure enough, the roads are icy here...ya gotta love Atlanta! This would not normally matter, but I have a meeting today and I scheduled it specifically around the kids school schedule since they have so much going on these days with testing and extra activities. Well, they did not cancel school, they delayed it two hours. So, now I need to shower and figure out how to get things back on track. I am chugging my coffee and then it is GET MOVING time!

I do want to share my little treat with you from the other day though. Ever since I started playing around with rice flour making dough balls (which my versions taste like little doughnuts), I can't stop thinking about the possibilities. These did not really turn out like I thought they would, but I am completely happy with what I came up with. I will call these little babies Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Cookies (the illustrator says he would call them Apple Dumpling Cookies, just so he gets his two cents worth in). 

Since gluten free baking is a little different, I thought I would show you what the dough looks like. I am an extremely visual person (hence my love of blogs!) 

I made my little cookies and flattened them out.

Then I put some cinnamon applesauce on top...

and swirled it in.

The illustrator had the brilliant idea to put sliced apples on we tried a few.

I liked the apples on top, they added a great roasted flavor with the cinnamon topping.

All baked up ready for the perfect topping!

Everything is better with a little powder sugar icing!

These are perfect for making the dough the day before and then popping in the oven in the morning. 

Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Cookies/Apple Dumpling Cookies
(makes 10)

1 cup white rice flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)
1/2 cup brown rice Flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp cinnamon
2 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP dark brown sugar
1 TBSP flax meal mixed with 3 TBSP hot water (or 1 egg)
10 drops vanilla stevia (or 2 TBSP sugar)
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
3 TBSP almond milk
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

Apple Cinnamon Topping

2 TBSP unsweetened applesauce
1/2 tsp cinnamon
5 drops vanilla stevia (or 1 TBSP sugar)


1/2 cup powder sugar

Combine the white rice flour through the dark brown sugar together in a mixing bowl. Next add the flax egg through the applesauce and mix until combined. Place the cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet and flatten mounds slightly. In a separate bowl, combine the topping ingredients. Put a little topping on each cookie. Using a tooth pick swirl the topping on the cookie (now is when you can add a thinly sliced piece of apple on top). Bake at 350 degrees for 14 minutes. Allow to cool. For the glaze, mix together the powder sugar with a little water (1 tsp at a time to get the consistency you like). Glaze the cooled cookies.

**If you make a gluten version, I would suggest cutting back on the flour 1/2 cup at a time to get the consistency right on the dough. I think rice flour is really good though and I really like the texture it gives these.

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 8:05 AM   22 comments
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Early Bird Special

Tonight was an early bird special night. Ironically, as I suggested this meal, I felt like I was 60 years old. We had to get ready and eat early since Max (9) had is school play tonight. You all know I love breakfast for dinner! So, when we got our Christmas citrus fruit from my parents (a tradition they passed down from my grandparents - Thanks Mom and Dad) we all dug into it immediately!

Max asked if I would cut the grapefruit in half and cut out the wedges. I never do this with citrus fruit (I peel it or supreme it), so it was a novelty for him. It took me right back to being a kid, eating breakfast at my grandparents house in Florida.

This was the perfect fuel to get us to the school for the fantastic performance we saw tonight. Fresh grapefruit, an over easy egg and waffles. These waffles were ridiculously easy...fluffy on the inside and crunchy on the outside!

Easy Waffles

1/2 cup white wheat flour
1/2 cup quick oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup water or milk of your choice

Mix the dry and then pour in the milk. Stir just until combined and cook according to your waffle iron.

Does your family have a traditional gift they give to you? My parents started this one last year after my grandfather passed away to keep his tradition alive. I love this kind of stuff. Food is such a big part of who I am and I have such a romance with it. SSHHH don't tell Tony! I like getting these kinds of gifts. They have meaning and they are darn tasty.  Although, I think the boys would be more into the bacon of the month club, but don't tell them about that one please.

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 7:55 PM   11 comments
Monday, December 13, 2010
Holiday Weekend...
Our tree is finally up! 

We have already found a (20 lb) cat sitting on the top...

I am guessing due to this creature being on it!

We decided to not put glass balls on the tree this year since the cats are completely fascinated with the ornaments.

 I am thinking since Santa has been molested a few times already, this was a good call.

Our tree has always been more of an outdoor them.  The pine cone garland and red berries are my favorite part of the tree...

and I love this little guy that Jay painted this year!

We had a great weekend with the boys. We enjoyed a lot of holiday movies (apparently Die Hard is considered a Christmas movie...if you send Tony and Max out for festive movies), warm fires...

and apple cinnamon cookies.

Do you have a favorite Christmas (holiday) movie that you have to watch every year? Mine is White Christmas and I watched it yesterday while folding laundry. It definitely made the task more enjoyable!

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 1:06 PM   23 comments
Friday, December 10, 2010
Burned Popcorn And A Toad In The Hole!
Honestly, this week has been crazy. I can't believe it is Friday night.  I could really use one more day. I feel like everything is a blur. The boys both had concerts, extra practices, testing, parties and homework. We decorated the tree (I will post pictures soon since my grandmother has asked to see them), I have popped enough popcorn to feed a small village or my family and the entire 7th grade (Jay requested it for the 7th grade holiday party), I have burned a quadruple batch of said popcorn, work has been done, writing has been done, pictures have taken forever to upload, some Christmas shopping has been done and (some) laundry has been washed (yes, it is still waiting to be folded). 

I decided to make meals easy since things were so crazy. I also like to have a little fun with it since stress can be high for the boys on crazy days.

I introduced Jay to a "toad in the hole" this week. Max has been doing this for a while now, but Jay has just discovered his love of running eggs and toast.

(Have you ever done this...others call it an egg in a basket, a birds nest...what do you call it? The British refer to sausage baked in yorkshire pudding as A Toad In The Hole. Whatever you call is yummy!)

He thought this was a perfect way to enjoy it and I have to agree with him.

So, I burned a quadruple batch of caramel popcorn. That kind of stuff happens to me every time I try to do something faster. If you look closely, you will see it. I was about to throw it in the trash when I realized...

half of it was like brittle.  I accidentally made popcorn brittle!  Don't ask me how or to repeat it, but look at that perfectly bruleed candy!

I am glad it wasn't a total loss, but I was pretty mad when I realized it was burning. My guess is that since it was more sugar in the pot, it needed to cook a little longer so it would thicken and stick to the popcorn instead of run to the bottom of the pan. Oh well, it was fine in the end, but frustrating since I was on limited time last night. 

While I am confessing, I just burned some sweet potato fries in the microwave that I was trying to heat up from the other night. Tony has just told me that one more thing burns and I am banned from the kitchen. My guess is that will last until he is looking for sausage balls for movie night tomorrow with the boys!

I am hoping to find some time to organize myself this weekend. What is every one else doing!

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 7:16 PM   13 comments
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Quick Caramel Popcorn!

Ok, so I lied, I did not get my tree up. Yeah, well my kids were mad too. We just ran out of time and so to make it up to them, I promised to make them caramel popcorn. Well, when I realized it was already after 7pm, I knew I had to come up with a quick way to make caramel popcorn (my recipe takes an hour to bake) since I had already been a huge letdown when I ran out of time to decorate the tree. 

I remembered that I saw a quickie popcorn recipe in Cooking Light, so I looked it up to see if I could make it work for the kids.  Well, it worked a little too well!  I have made this recipe 3 times in the past two days! I like that this is not sickening sweet or too chewy. Since we are decorating the tree tonight, I am making another larger batch for festive snacking.

Quick Caramel Popcorn
(adapted from Cooking Light)

8 cups air popped popcorn
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 TBSP maple syrup
1 TBSP Smart Balance Light
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil sprayed with cooking spray.

In a small pot over medium heat, add sugar, syrup, Smart Balance and salt stirring occasionally until it comes to a boil. Allow to boil for 2 minutes without stirring. When the sugar mixture is done boiling, pour it evenly over the popcorn and stir to coat. Pour the popcorn mixture in the prepared pan and lay in a single layer. Bake for 15 minutes. Allow to cool (if you can).

Last night was really busy since we went to Max's chorus concert. I love the sound of children singing. It is just so darn sweet. Since we were running around like crazy people, it was a quick dinner. The boys had chili cheese hash browns. If I had some Daiya, I would have done the same.

However, Caitlin posted her hummus sandwich yesterday and I immediately started craving it. That is the down side to blogging about food or the make the call. 

Sometimes you see things and you HAVE to HAVE them! Luckily, I had everything it took to make a huge egg white hummus waffle sandwich!

Can you tell I loved it!  

I am entering the popcorn in the Gluten Free Homemakers Wednesday Carnival.

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 2:25 PM   19 comments
Monday, December 6, 2010
Chili and Muffins
This weekend was crazy busy with running around. We had such a great time hanging out with our friends. When we finally got home last night, we made a fire and sat down to watch ELF and then immediately passed out.

Now, I am off to make some chili (I wish I had some in the freezer), do a quick cleaning of the house and then trash the house with Christmas decorations. I am so ready to decorate!

I am also pulling some mini cornbread muffins out of the freezer to go with it. I love the ease of freezer foods!

Have you decorated for the holidays yet? What is your favorite freezer friendly meal?

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 5:06 PM   19 comments

Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen
Home: Atlanta, GA, United States
About Me: Lactose Challenged
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