Seasonal, Uncategorized, winter blahs

Keeping the Wintertime Blahs Away and a Springtime Lemon Scone Recipe (GF and Low-Carb) yes

 

Post by Nancy Gordon

Forgive me for complaining, but winter seems to last forever,and I get tired of the overcast skies. I know I shouldn’t complain, especially since I am a Southerner. Ive heard how harsh the winters are in the North.  I am glad to live where I do for that reason.   But are you feeling this way too?    I am over always being cold and going out into the frosty air.  My once cute sweaters and boots that looked so inviting way back in the Fall, now look tired, boring and dull. But instead of wallowing in self-pity I have decided to do a few simple things to change up my routine and scenery.  I’ve written down a few of the things I do to keep my wintertime blahs away. 

Below I share them with you.  

*For starters, fresh flowers are a must. Nothing says springtime like flowers.  They brighten any room.   Aldis had half a dozen lovely roses for just 3.99.  I bought a some pretty white and pink ones.  I stuck them in a vintage blue mason jar, set it on my kitchen table, and every time I look at them, I smile. 

*I also keep Christmas lights up until day light savings time.  Yes, I have a nice long strand of white lights strung in my bay window.   We eat breakfast and dinner when its dark outside, this bring cheeriness to our breakfast nook.

*I’ve discovered it’s a good time of year to look for house plants at your local hardware store.  I found tropical plants on sale there for only five dollars!  I bought a cool spider plant and a tall cane tree.  The greenery is just what these empty spaces in my home needed.  Tropical plants are easy to care for as they don’t require a lot of watering.  They like dry soil and bright light, so I have mine near windows and they seem to be doing just fine. And they remind me of warm, island days!

*I wear pink.  It reminds me of spring flowers such as pink hyacinths and peonies.  Get out of your everyday black.  Maybe pink isn’t your color of choice, but it’s one of my favorite colors.   I wear lots of it, especially this time of year.  And I’m so glad it’s a popular color this year.  I bought a really warm, pink chenille sweater back in December and have worn it so many times.  It never fails to make me happy.  What’s your favorite pastel color?  Baby blue or pale green, there are so many choices out there. Buy one and wear it on those dreary cold days and it will be sure to make you happy.

*This is the time of year for short day trips, such as a visit to the nearby art museum.  There you can bask in the Impressionist paintings of lakes, blue skies and green trees.  The still life paintings of flowers and the landscapes of oceans and fields remind us that warmer days are coming. We are fortunate to have the coast nearby.   My husband and I were recently invited to go to the beach and to stay with friends.  While the weather was still cold and overcast, it was the beach.  There’s something about walking on sand and listening to the ocean that soothes the soul.

*Bake something citrusy and light.  I love lemon scones with crème fraiche or lemony chicken breasts.  If you don’t enjoy baking buy a nice loaf of homemade bread and a jar of marmalade.  Feast on that goodness and think warm thoughts.

*My daughter and I are going to sign up for a yoga class.  Classes are a great way to keep fit in the wintertime, if you don’t like to brave the cold outdoors.  Or maybe you do, then bundle up and try a new hiking trail.  Once I get moving, even I start to warm up and it’s fun to look for signs of spring.  Maybe some bushes are beginning to bud in late February, at least they are in the mid-south.

There are so many other things you can do to brighten your day and your outlook in the midst of these short days and bare trees.  I know for some people seasonal blues is a more serious issue and I’m not trying to trivialize it.  Hopefully theses ideas will foster even more ways to bring springtime inside your home.

And the good news is that Spring always comes.  Solomon, a very wise King in the Bible, once said, “See, the winter is past;the rains are over and gone.  Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come; the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance” (Song of Songs 2:11-13a).

I look forward to those days of new life when the earth awakens from its long nap.  The daffodils and forsythia will bloom and brighten my yard with their sunny yellow blossoms.  And I can pack away the sweaters and boots until the chill in the air forces me to bring them out again.  But today I will patiently wait for springtime.

Here is my lemon scone recipe.

 

 

 

Low Carb Gluten Free Lemon Scones

1 cup blanched almond flour

¼ cup coconut flour

3 TB granular sweetener, I use Pyure

½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp Himalayan salt

2 TB melted coconut oil

1 egg

1/4 cup almond milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp fresh lemon zest

2 TB fresh lemon juice

Glaze

1 TB melted refined coconut oil

1 TB granulated sweetener, I used Pyure

2 TB fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 and line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In one bowl, combine dry ingredients together, almond flour through salt.

In a small bowl, whisk together coconut oil, almond milk, vanilla, egg, lemon zest and lemon juice.

Fold the wet mixture into the dry until a dough forms.  

Place dough on lined baking sheet and form a circle about 1 inch thick.  Cut into 8 wedges and move apart about 1 inch.  Bake for about 18- 20 minutes until golden brown.  Scones firm up as they cool.  Do not overcook.

To prepare the glaze combine all ingredients in a blender and puree.  Let scones cool before drizzling the glaze on them.

 

 

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Family Life, Motherhood, soup, wintertime, Uncategorized

Instant Pot Harvest Italian Soup

GSD

In the fall and winter when I ask my family for ideas for dinner I usually get back, how about soup? Nothing is as cozy as a steaming bowl of soup at the table on a cold winter night but I don’t always have time. Soup in my opinion takes a little effort. When all the ingredients are sautéed before liquid is added and when it has time to slowly simmer, I find that brings out the best flavor.

I used to make a lot of soup in the crock pot but I would often get this strange metallic taste. Sometimes the taste wasn’t there if the onions, veggies and garlic were cooked well before being added to the liquid but who has time for that when you’ve just thought of throwing something together before going off to work in the morning?

And at night when I’m trying to navigate homework, baths, babies crawling under my feet and trying to get into the cat food dish, I don’t have time to deal with fry pans and simmering something for an hour.

So my Instant Pot has been so wonderful for this busy working mom. Only one pot to clean and while I still add each ingredient to the sauté feature it only cooks for about 30 minutes. But it tastes like it’s been simmering for hours.

GSD

This is my husband’s favorite. It’s like Italian wedding soup without pasta and the variations are endless. As long as you have a base of mild (or hot if you live on the edge) Italian sausage, white beans, rosemary, onions and garlic with tomato and greens, you can add from there. I like peppers and mushrooms. Sometimes kale sometimes spinach. Red wine or maybe a splash of really good balsamic vinegar. It tastes different each time I make it.

I’m not a big recipe follower and I hope if you make this and if you like it, you’ll do it again a different way, adding what you think might taste good. That’s the fun of cooking.

Of course if you don’t have an instant pot this can be made on the stove or the crock pot. You’ll still sauté everything but simmer on the stove for about one hour. In the crock pot it can cook for 4-6 hours on low. I don’t recommend cooking it on high as rapid boiling will break down the beans and greens too much. 
Here goes.

GSD

Harvest Italian Soup

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 pound ground Italian sausage (I like the sweet variety)
  • 4-5 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 -14 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cups shredded kale or spinach
  • 1- 14 ounce can white beans, drained
  • 3-4 drops hot sauce (optional)
  • Fresh grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:

Pre-heat Instant Pot on the Sauté setting. When it says Hot, add olive oil and diced onion, with a light dusting of salt. Sauté until starting to sweat or becoming translucent. Add celery and green pepper and sauté for about 5 minutes. At this point you can walk away to pretend like you know enough about math to help your daughter with her homework.

Add mushrooms and sauté until they start to lose a little water. Add garlic and rosemary and stir just until you can smell the garlic. Don’t let it get any color. Don’t leave the area.

Add sausage to the vegetables and another light dusting of salt and brown the meat. When nicely browned, pour in the red wine and deglaze pan. Be sure to scrape any of the browned meat off the bottom of the Instant Pot so it doesn’t burn during cooking. This can take about a minute.

Add chicken broth, tomato sauce, tomato paste, white beans, kale and a generous amount of pepper. Add more chicken broth if the soup needs to be thinned out. Stir well. Set Instant Pot to high pressure and set timer for 25 minutes. You can now give the baby a bath and wrangle him into his PJ’s. When done, let the steam out and stir in hot sauce (optional).

Season soup to taste with salt and pepper if needed. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with fresh parmesan cheese and serve. Can serve with crusty bread. Also great the next day.

GSD

-Claire