I Love crochet! There- I’ve said it. Oh, you already guessed? Maybe you did not know this then…what I love more than discovering cool new-to-me patterns is when I find them for free. And boy! I’m loving finding so many free patterns on the web. Now if I could just find a source for free yarn. (grin)
The basketweave stitch yields a very simple but interesting textural stitch. I made this infinity scarf in a soft variegated yarn. It is wide enough to use as a cowl and head covering for the really cold days.
This stitch pattern was found on Daisy Farm Crafts. Their web site is another one that has a ton of cool free crochet patterns and projects. If you need video tutorials for any of the patterns, well my gosh! They have a ton of those too on the Daisy Farm Crafts YouTube channel.
The last time that Les and I hiked around Watson Lake was in early summer. It was an oasis of water, granite boulders, varied flowers, foliage and beautiful views. If you are looking to escape the summer heat in our high desert, this is one cool place to be. Now, however, it is winter, but still a lovely day hike.
After a few days of being COLD, so cold that our little bit of snow was not even melting, we decided to bundle up and get out of the house for a short hike. The day was bright and sunny, but 32 degrees when we started out. I know that many of you across the country are laughing at my description, but to me, anything below 35 is COLD.
As is normal Prescott attire, most of the other hikers were in regular jeans and tees or sweat shirts. LOL, Not me!
We started out on the Peavine Trail which is a wide rocky trail and then veered off to the left to catch the Lakeshore Trail. On the Lakeshore, there is plenty of variety in the terrain. It is rated as a moderate hike, but you can suddenly find yourself traversing some slightly steep or narrow paths over granite boulders. We like to leave the path here and there to scramble over the boulders. This is especially so in warmer weather when we want a nice bit of shade in which to eat our lunch.
Located just 4 miles from Prescott, this beautiful lake is not only surrounded by several hiking trails, it also offers many other fun activities including fishing, boating, kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing, and camping. The camp grounds includes restrooms with showers, picnic areas, and parking. The camp ground is only available during the summer months. There is a $3.00 parking fee for hiking and day use of the park. If you would like to camp, it’s $15.00 per night.
If you ever get to this area, check out Watson Lake. There are several other lovely lakes in our area. This seems to surprise a lot of people. What? Lakes in Arizona? Yes, and it snows too?
Out side of art and crafts and music, Les and I LOVE books! Except for the bathrooms, we have at least one bookshelf in every room of the house. One of our all-time favorite places to score great books is our library. I don’t know if every state has a “Friends of the Library” store, but it will be worth your time to check it out.
The lesson here? Check out your local “Friends of the Library” store. I truly hope that your city has at least one.
Looking through cooking magazines, I run across lots of delicious looking recipes. I then try to make them Keto friendly. This holiday season, I wanted to try making really good fudge, but all of the smoothest looking recipes call for sweetened condensed milk. I looked it up online and, sure enough, you can order it. But, the ingredients looked so easy that I thought that I would give making it a try. Success!
The most important thing to remember is that you must be prepared to stand at the stove and stir for the entire time that it takes for the mixture to condense. In this case, about fifteen minutes. The larger batch that you make, the longer it will take to reduce.
This recipe will yield about 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
– 1-1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
– 2 tbsp unsalted butter or Ghee
– 1/3 cup Swerve confectioners sugar
1. In a medium saucepan, add all ingredients
2. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring often to prevent scorching
3. Lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring continuously.
Store in an airtight container if not using immediately. It will harden up a little in the fridge. You can microwave it to bring any remaining milk back to liquid or use the slightly hardened mixture to make frosting or fat bombs. It’s delicious.
Full of healthy fats, this soup is perfect for a Keto diet. It can also be easily adjusted for vegans or meat eaters. Just cook the soup as the recipe directs for vegans. If you are a meat eater, add whatever you like such as chicken or fish. I like the soup with chunks of baked Alaskan wild caught cod as you will see in the last photo.
This is one instance that I miss rice in my diet because the curry soup is excellent ladled over it. If you are not on Keto, try adding chick peas to the pot. They are also delicious in curry spiced dishes.
1 head cauliflower, cut into bite sized pieces
2 cans (13 oz) full fat coconut milk
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 cup water
3 ripe tomatoes, chopped into small pieces
4 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
1 small onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded and diced into small pieces
4 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp liquid Stevia (or sweetener of your choice- this just mellows the spice flavors a little)
1. In a soup pot, add water, chopped onions and cauliflower. Bring to a boil, stirring to make sure that the cauliflower does not burn
2. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5-6 minutes just to begin to soften the cauliflower and onions
3. Add all ingredients except the dried spices. Stir to combine
4. In a small bowl, mix the dried spices together. Sprinkle over the soup and continue to stir to combine. Return to a boil.
5. Reduce heat and simmer for another 25 minutes or until the cauliflower is fork soft.
6. Ladle into a bowl and serve hot.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The soup can also be frozen. I freeze my meals in quart baggies and laid flat for easy storage. That way, it is easy to remove one or two servings for lunch or dinner.
Apples are another no-no on the Keto diet. So how am I supposed to make my apple fritters? How about my cranberry chutney? I love cranberry chutney with diced apples and chopped dried apricots, but both fruits are a Keto no-no. As in NO!
Well, I haven’t figured out an alternative to the dried apricots, but the chayote squash is a success on the apple replacement. I had read about using chayote in Keto “apple” pies so I had to try it out. Score! You would never know that you were eating squash in the “apple pie” filling if no one clued you in.
When you cut into chayote it looks like it has the texture of a cross between apples and pears. It is firm like apples and when you eat it raw, it has a very, very mild squash taste. This is what makes the squash perfect for soaking up the taste of whatever you spice the dish with. In this case, I used McCormick’s apple pie spice. To the mixture I also added brown sugar flavor extract. That worked out perfectly in place of regular brown sugar.
2 large chayote squash, (I chopped the squash into small pieces so that I could use some of it in my cranberry chutney also)
1/3 cup Xylitol sweetener (or sweetener of your choice)
1 cup water
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp brown sugar flavor extract
1 tbsp cream of tartar
2 tsp apple pie spice
2 tbsp ghee or butter
1/2 tsp salt
1. Add all ingredients except the chayote and butter to a medium sized sauce pan. Whisk to combine.
2. Add the squash and butter and bring to a boil over high heat. Continue boiling and stirring for about ten minutes.
3. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Cook until the squash comes to your desired consistency for apple pie filling. My chayote pieces were fairly small so this step took an additional 30 minutes of simmering.
4. Taste and add sweetener or pie spice if you like.
You can use the faked apple compote over or in whatever you like. Try it over cakes, cottage cheese, yogurt or your keto ice cream. Whirl it into your Keto smoothies for an additional flavor layer to the shakes.
Microwaved mug cakes? I never thought that they sounded very good, but maybe it was time for a try. I needed a little cake so that I could demonstrate how great the Chayote “apple pie filling” was when spooned over cake. Well, guess what? The super easy mug cakes are awesome! The texture is kind of like a cross between a coffee cake and a sponge cake. And the taste is whatever you make it. In this case, I made a vanilla flavored cake.
2 tbsp heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp coconut flower
1 tsp liquid Stevia or sweetener of your choice
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten
cooking spray to coat the inside of the mug or ramekin (I used coconut oil spray)
1. Into a small bowl, stir all ingredients to combine.
2. Pour into a greased mug cup or ramekin.
3. Microwave for 90 seconds. Let cool before you tip the cake out of the cup or ramekin.
For years, my cranberry chutney has been a sweet and tangy mix made with whole cranberries, diced apples and dried apricots. Now that I’m on Keto, I wondered what the heck I could use instead of the apples and apricots. Let me tell you, chayote squash fit the bill. Chayote is a very mild flavored squash that looks like Granny Smith apples when you slice or dice it.
Instead of apricots I also added a cup of frozen 3 berry mix (blueberries, raspberries and blackberries) to the chutney just for a little added flavor and visual texture.
1 (12 oz) pkg cranberries
1 large chayote, diced with the skin left on
1 cup frozen 3 berry mix (blueberries, raspberries and blackberries)
i cup water
3/4 cup Lakanto Monk Fruit classic granulated (or sweetener of your choice)
3/4 cup Lakanto Monk Fruit Brown (or sweetener of your choice)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground dry mustard
3 tbsp cider vinegar
1. In a saucepan, boil the water and sweeteners, stirring until no granules remain.
2. Whisk in the dried spices.
3. Add the diced chayote and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer to cook the chayote for15 minutes to soften it up.
4. Add the cranberries and bring back to a slow boil. Stir the mixture occasionally, cooking until the cranberries are popping and the chutney is reducing in liquid – about another 10 minutes.
5. Add the frozen mixed berries and return to a boil. Stir and cook for another 5 minutes or so until the chutney has a texture that you like.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.
This chutney is excellent over buttered toast too. Additionally, it can be spooned over cottage cheese, yogurt, mousse, whatever you can dream up. Oh! And all of the ingredients are healthy so whirl some up into your smoothies as well.