Gluten-Free Low-Carb Pumpkin Cookies. And Muffins. And Bars.

That’s right, I’ve made this recipe three times, in three different formats. Each time just tweaking the spice mixture until it was to my satisfaction. Just different cooking times in different cooking vessels.

(Here’s the cookie version from today.)

1 15-oz can of pumpkin puree (pure pumpkin, please — none of that “pie filling” stuff)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1/4 cup sweetener*
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp allspice
1 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup almond flour

* Normally I use Splenda. This time I used about 3/4 xylitol and 1/4 Splenda. I’m moving over to xylitol for sweetening things, since it would appear that Splenda is even worse for you than originally thought. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol, but less gastrointestinally upsetting than most.

My coconut flour and almond flour are both from Bob’s Red Mill. Love that stuff.

Mix everything together, then either make 20 2-inch cookies, 12 muffins (please use paper muffin cups), or put it in a parchment paper-lined loaf pan for a flat, cuttable loaf (not so much a bread as brownie-like bars).

Bake at 350° for 20 minutes (cookies), 30-35 minutes (muffins), or 60-70 minutes (loaf).

For the cookies, nutritionally:

(per cookie, batch of 20 cookies)
60 calories
4.5g fat
4.25g carbohydrate
– 2g dietary fiber
1.5g protein

This is a recipe that’s forgiving to overcooking — the pumpkin keeps everything moist even if you go a little too long in the oven. I like to put everything in the fridge when done; something about that pumpkin flavor feels like it should be served cold, to me. Plus, moist can be an understatement — even though they’re fully cooked, all of these can have an almost custardy, puddinglike consistency. Refrigeration firms them up a bit.

I also shoved some white chocolate chips into a few of the cookies. They add a nice contrast, but it’s upping the carb count.

Sweet, Succulent Fall TV (Part the 1st)

We’re digging into the fall TV season with both hands. So many excellent returning shows! So many new possibilities! Sadly, due to conflicting work schedules, we haven’t been able to tackle as much as we’d like. The TiVo is getting quite full. But here’s what I’ve been able to watch so far:

Survivor: Looks good so far, though we’ve only watched one episode. I don’t know about Ozzy returning, since he wasn’t one of my favorites. Apparently the rest of the viewers disagree; they love him to pieces. Also, I wish Russell’s nephew had made up a “Hantz is a common last name” lie about his tattoos, instead of always wearing his shirt. Because I’d be totally suspicious of his weird cover-up obsession, but I’d likely buy a not-related-to-Russell lie.

America’s Next Top Model: It’s all-stars, although a few of them I don’t really remember. Also, some of them are over 30. And appear to have worse skin than I. Still, they put a boatload of drama queens in the same house, so it’s kind of a hoot. If only they wouldn’t use their stupid shorthand names for things. (Ty-overs instead of makeovers, guys!)

Archer: Only 3 episodes, and we’re already down 2. Then we’ll have to wait until 2012 for the rest. And the show remains the best animated thing (and one of the few half-hours I watch) on TV. Sick, twisted, and hilarious.

Castle: The first episode back got weepy and moody and maudlin, but with last night’s episode we’re back into much of the fun dynamic that I love. Hopefully they’ll shelve the Beckett’s mom storyline for a half-season or so, and let us wallow in the witty banter and flirting.

The Biggest Loser: Oh, how I wish they would shorten the episodes. But an interesting cast so far (although I’m ho-hum about the new trainers). And they totally got rid of the right person in the first elimination. Second episode is on tonight, so it’s not too late to dig in.

New Girl: (Apparently it’s not THE New Girl, at least according to TiVo.) An interesting premise, and good chemistry between the cast so far. I’m just weirdly put out by the fact that the geeky, awkward girl is also gorgeous. You’d think she wouldn’t have that perfectly coiffed hair, for instance. It just doesn’t quite seem to jibe with every other geeky, awkward girl I’ve ever been or known. At any rate, it’s only a half-hour, so it’s like a Jell-O show.

X Factor: I’m only picking up one of these a week, because whenever else it’s on, it’s behind two other programs on the priority list. So far, it’s like American Idol — easy to fast-forward through, with a few snippets of good. Also, I’ve learned that I don’t care for singing groups. Hmm.

Prime Suspect: I wish I’d see the original. In this, an over-the-top stereotype of a hard-nosed bitch battles against some over-the-top stereotype boys-club chauvinists in their police workplace. I mean, really — it’s as realistic as the constant assaults that happen for laughs in Glee. Most of those guys would have been taken to HR way before it got as bad as they portray. Still, I’ll give it a try and hope they soften everyone up just a little. Also, I kept looking at the chief and thinking, That guy’s like an older, bloated Aidan Quinn-type. It would appear that Aidan Quinn has REALLY let himself go.

Unforgettable: Wasn’t on my to-try list, but I dropped Ringer at the last minute because I heard it was terrible. And I’m glad I added this season pass — another police procedural, but with an interesting twist and a much more likeable cast than Prime Suspect. Definitely worth continuing.

Fringe: OH, how I’ve missed you! Welcome home, weirdness. Can’t wait to see where they go with Peter (or as Scott called him, Tyler Durden) and with new agent Lincoln Lee. Whatever they do, wherever they go, I’m on board for the ride.

The Amazing Race: Another welcome old friend. I’m glad they got the Emmy back; this truly is one of the best reality shows on TV. I had to remember to set it to record an additional hour afterward; here on the east coast, sometimes the football games go long beforehand.

We still have a number of items waiting on the TiVo: the return of Body of Proof, as well as the first episodes of Person of Interest, Pan-Am, and Terra Nova.

Also coming up in October: House returns! As does Bravo’s quirky Work of Art. New to Bravo is Mad Fashion, featuring former Project Runway contestant (and all-around fascinating person) Chris March. We’re also going to try out Around the World in 80 Ways, co-hosted by Boston Rob Mariano. And later in the month, the fairy tale/fantasy doubleheader of Grimm and Once Upon a Time.

Impending Lemons?

I had a horrible dream last night, in which some unknown evil person broke off all the branches of my little lemon trees. Although I guess as far as bad dreams go, that’s pretty tame. Nevertheless, this morning I went out to make sure my little friends were all right.

Trouble the cat accompanied me out onto the balcony, as always. She loves it out there, even though she’s the one who’s afraid of most people. On the flip side, Commie the social butterfly is terrified of the deck. He’ll stick his head out the door and sniff the great outdoors, but he won’t come out.

Anyhoo, the Meyer lemon looks great here. And hark, what’s that?!

One of my little buds has gone full blossom! And it smells fantastic. It would appear that not all flowers become fruits; in fact, relatively few do. But a girl can always hope.

Meanwhile, the Eureka lemon tree looks lovely, but not a bud so far. It would appear that Eureka is the lemon most commonly sold in grocery stores, while Meyer has a thinner skin and is slightly sweeter (possibly a cross between a lemon and an orange).

On a competely different topic, we partook of Taco Tuesday at the new Tijuana Flats nearby. As opposed to the one we used to live near, I really liked the mural painted on the wall.

Zombies and pirates and skeletons. It was fairly awesome.

And the tacos were great, too.

This Hair Grows Fast (But Not Fast Enough!)

The growing out of the pixie cut continues. I’m at a stage now where I don’t mind it some days, and others it drives me crazy with ugliness.

Back on August 1, I posted pictures of the pixie. I’ve taken pictures in between, but what with the move and such, I’ve been remiss in posting things. So here’s the progress:

August 28: The hair really started coming in over the ears. But still a long way to go. Keeping the back short!

September 8: It’s kind of a … mom-flip. Thing. sometimes tolerable, other times not so much.

September 18, trying to get the craziest possible eyes in this shot. Just trimmed the back again. I’m using the 1/4″ clipper on the very bottom, and trimming the rest with shears. I don’t want it to look mulletty at all, since that’s the kiss of death for the whole project. So I’m keeping the back trimmed as the top and sides catch up.

For the record, I don’t use conditioner on my hair. That’s why it’s so voluminous. I have tons of hair, but it’s almost baby-fine. When I use conditioner, it lays flat and limp and lifeless. But without, it has some texture.

Also, in heartbreaking news: after many years of good service, my hair-cutting shears broke today. Fortunately, I have a second-string backup pair. But my little favorites are headed off to the salon in the sky.

Long Time No Blog!

I see I’ve been remiss on blogging lately. But I’ve had a really good reason: we moved.

Yes, we just moved back in January. But here’s the thing — in mid-July, we got new neighbors downstairs. Those new neighbors had a loud party with massively bass-heavy music on their very first night. They then proceeded to play music that would make our walls and floor vibrate on a regular basis, often after midnight. The apartment complex encouraged us to call the police, which we did. Repeatedly. The apartment office sent them a series of letters, each more strongly-worded than the first, but the music continued. We were also treated to the occasional screaming fight — the one at 4am merited a call to 911, not the non-emergency number we’d used for the noise complaints.

The apartment complex is in the process of evicting these neighbors. But they warned us that the eviction process is a long one, and it might take months to work its way through the legal system. Seems like in an eviction, the people being evicted have more rights than anyone else involved. And as soon as that process started, the music was turned up to 11 on a nightly basis.

We asked about moving to another apartment, because we like the location, we like the apartments, and we like the management company. They had a “carriage house” apartment available and gave it to us at our current rent, even though it rents for a higher rate. The carriage house units sit above a garage, with no third floor above, and no shared walls with any other units. They also waived the transfer fees and deposit, and gave us a generous two weeks to move everything. So yes, it was a pain to pack up and move, but we’re now in a place with no neighbors above, below, or to the sides. It’s SO MUCH more quiet.

This new apartment has a very similar floor plan to the old one, but it’s not exactly the same. I have a little less kitchen space, but it’ll still be great. The carpets are new, and not the off-white of the old place — these are a really nice brown, kind of in a Commie-ish color pallette:

We got cat food in a color scheme that matches the carpets. That, combined with using our Bissell Little Green cleaner, is keeping our floors free of barf stains so far.

As you can see, we’re also getting more sunlight than before. The windows and deck of this unit face west, as opposed to the north-facing unit before. Since we get some hours of sunlight on the deck, I’ve acquired some new plants.

In the box planter, I have a jalapeno plant and a strawberry plant. I’ve grown peppers successfully before (in Seattle even), and that baby is already starting to put out some flowers. The strawberry is an experiment, since the only other time I’ve tried strawberries, Trouble ate all the leaves immediately and the plant died. This one is well out of her reach.

I also got the plant I’ve always wanted: LEMON!

In fact, I got two lemon trees. The far one is a Meyer lemon, which was the obvious choice. It’s a dwarf variety of lemon tree, well suited to growing in pots. The nearer one is a Eureka lemon, also a dwarf variety. Not only is it a much sexier plant (the Meyer lemon tree is a twisty, awkward thing), but apparently having more than one variety of lemon tree makes both produce more fruit.

After a little more than a week, the Meyer is already starting to bud. I’m guessing I’ll have blossoms in another week or so. I totally don’t expect to get actual lemons this season, but you never know.

We’re mostly settled in to the new place — only a few more things to hang on the walls, a couple of boxes left to unpack, and some light rearranging. My desk is now close to the couch in a way that makes it easy to get onto, which means I sometimes have company at the computer:

Commie’s eye is doing great, by the way. It’s occasionally a little winky and full of tears, but most days it’s delightfully normal.

We’re sleeping like the dead, which is awesome. This is the kind of apartment we could stay in for years. And hopefully that’s the case, because I don’t want to go through moving again for a long, long time.

Gluten-Free Banana Bread / Muffins

We had a discussion about banana bread at work the other day. Mainly it centered on the concept that you can replace the eggs in a banana bread recipe with applesauce. My point was that you’re taking the ONE ingredient in the whole thing that isn’t sugar, and replacing it with more sugar. Bleah.

But since then, I was jonesing for banana bread. So this is what I came up with.

2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 stick butter (1/4 cup), softened
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup almond flour
1/3 cup Splenda
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs

Mix the bejeezus out of it all, then put it into cupcake papers. This made 8 muffins; you could double the recipe for either 16 muffins or a loaf. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes (muffins) or 1 hour (loaf) or until a toothpick comes out clean.

These came out great. I described them to Scott as “like so much Aperture Science cake — delicious and moist.”

They’re not low-carb (How could they be, with bananas?) but they’re moderate carb:

Per muffin (8)
calories: 150
fat: 10g
carb: 13g
– fiber: 4g
protein: 4g

Now I’m trying to come up with other fruit/vegetable matter that could be a good muffin base, since these had the squishy moistness that’s missing in so many gluten-free baked goods. Scott suggested avocado, which … hmm. Seems a bit weird. Certainly canned pumpkin with some pumpkin pie spice might work. What other lower-carb fruits or veggies could be made into muffin or loaf form?

Fall 2011 TV!

I was recently reminded that the fall TV shows are a-comin’ soon. (Thanks, Christian!) Summer is all well and good with tasty morsels like Warehouse 13 and Project Runway, but in a few weeks the TiVo is going to be much, much more full. So here’s what I’ll be watching (and not watching).

Monday

House – Yeah, it’s totally formulaic. Ill person, four or five misdiagnoses, sudden epiphany, resolution. I’m still not sick of the formula, and it’s probably because Hugh Laurie is just so damned good. This season, Lisa Edelstein is on the way out, and a couple of new faces (including Odette Annable from the charming Breaking In, which we’ll totally be watching when it returns midseason) are joining the crew. (October 3)

Castle – If you don’t find Nathan Fillion charming, there may be something wrong with you. I’d advise seeing a doctor for that. Last season ended with a great cliffhanger — I know Beckett isn’t going to die, but I get to puzzle and wonder about how things will fall out with an injury, a new boss, and certain confessions. Wheeee! (September 19)

Terra Nova – Okay, so because the world is trashed, some colonists go 85 million years back in time to settle on prehistoric Earth. With dinosaurs and stuff. Say no more, sign me up. I’m just hoping I can suspend my disbelief regarding the time-travel paradox, because we haven’t found any 85-million-year-old human skeletons alongside the dinosaurs. I also hope it’s not too super-serious like Falling Skies was. (September 26)

Tuesday

The Biggest Loser – I’m not ashamed of my love for reality. Even though we only started watching this show in its 7th season, we’ve watched them all since. It’ll be weird without Jillian getting all up in the contestants’ heads. I usually disagree strongly with the nutritional aspects, but overall it’s compelling reality TV. I also wish the episodes were only an hour, but what can you do. (September 20)

Ringer – I just don’t know about this one, so I’ll give it a shot. I didn’t watch Buffy, so for me, Sarah Michelle Gellar is still Erika Kane’s daugher on All My Children. The concept is interesting, and the divinely-eyelashed Nestor Carbonell co-stars. (September 13)

New Girl – I’m so torn on this. It’s a half-hour sitcom, which I rarely watch. And I’m not all that big on Zooey Deschanel (not her fault — she was just so miscast in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy). But the promos intrigue me, so I’ll tuck it in on the side. It’ll be like TV Jell-O. (September 20)

Body of Proof – I actually didn’t expect this show to get picked up. I guess it did better than we thought. Dana Delaney’s character got a little more human throughout the first short season, which was good — she was pretty unlikeable at the start. We’ll keep it recording, but it’s probably not going to be at the top of the to-watch list. (September 20)

Wednesday

Survivor – I don’t think I’ve missed an episode of this show. Like, ever. Call it a guilty pleasure if you will. They’re continuing with last season’s trends: Redemption Island, and two returning players. Also, Russell Hantz’s nephew is playing. Will he keep that under his hipster hat? (September 14)

The X Factor – What do you think — will it suck? Will it rock? I love the idea of allowing contestants over 28. And it looks like the judges will do some mentoring (like The Voice) instead of just offering meaningless nattering (like American Idol). I’ve also missed Simon’s acid tongue. (September 21)

America’s Next Top Model – I completely missed last season, because the show was on at the same time as two other programs. But this season (or “cycle”) is all-stars, and so must not be missed. The prizes have been tweaked, and now include the potential to become a correspondent for Extra. Which is smart, because some of these chicks are 30 years old by now. (September 14)

Thursday

Grey’s Anatomy – I think I’m really watching this show out of habit by this point. They’ve jumped so many sharks, it could be a SeaWorld show. The music is always good, though. And I always enjoy McSteamy. (September 22)

Prime Suspect – Never saw the original BBC show, but I’ve heard that it’s kick-ass. How can it not be, with Helen Mirren. I’ve heard good things about the US version, which is a surprising change from how things usually go when we transport shows in from across the pond. (September 22)

Person of Interest – A show from Bad Robot starring Michael Emerson. That’s all I need to know to rush to the TiVo. Sounds like kind of a Minority Report-esque predictive crime drama. Oh, and apparently the pilot tested so well, CBS bounced CSI from the time slot it held for 10 years to make room. (September 22)

Archer – If you’re not watching this show, DO IT. NOW. The best animated show on TV, and one of the few half-hours I watch. It’s the perfect mix of brilliant, funny, and shocking. Three episodes will air in September, with the rest of the season following in 2012. (September 15)

Friday

Fringe – An awesome show where awesome stuff happens. Last season ended with a doozy of a cliffhanger, and I have NO IDEA how things are going to play out. But I can’t wait to see. (September 23)

Grimm – A cop drama that takes place in an alternate universe where Grimm’s-inspired characters exist. Extra bonus: Pacific Northwest location. My hopes are X-Files meets Eureka. My guess is, by the time this starts airing, we’ll have a spot cleared out for it due to a September show not catching our interest. (October 21)

Saturday

Um … yeah. Nothing. Which is usually the case. Looks like the networks are airing mostly football and repeats.

Sunday

Once Upon a Time – Somewhere in Maine, there’s apparently a town that’s a crossover point between the real world and the fairy tale world. Disney has given their blessing to use their versions of the classic fairy tale characters, and Damon Lindelof is a producer. So this could be great. It could also be a big horrible mixup of weird. (October 23)

The Amazing Race – We’re up to season 19 already?! That’s incredible. This is the best reality show on TV, and I’m nowhere near tired of it yet. Contestants this time around include former Survivor winners Ethan and Jenna, who are dating in real life. So maybe this season there will be at least one “dating couple” who I can stand. (September 25)

Pan Am – No, I haven’t seen Mad Men. So this would be my first ’60s period drama. We’ll see how long it lasts on our recording schedule — reviews so far have been very mixed. (September 25)

Not Watching

Dancing with the Stars – this show has been going downhill for me for the last few seasons, and this time I just don’t have the gumption to watch it. There’s really nobody I’m interested in watching, although if I had to throw my support behind anyone, it’d be either Carson Kressley or Chaz Bono. At least it’ll save 3 hours of TiVo space every week. (September 19)

Charlie’s Angels – I’m sure this will be a perfectly fine reboot. But the producers have gone on the record saying they refuse to do anything “campy or retro”. Where’s the fun in that? Seems like this was MADE for camp. (September 22)

Revenge – A woman moves to the Hamptons and gets … REVENGE! This looks way too serious for me. And a bit too much of the fancy-schmancy rich and famous beautiful people. (September 21)

The Playboy Club – Unlike several “family” organizations, I don’t have a problem with the content. It just doesn’t look that interesting to me. I’ll stick with Pan Am as my period-drama attempt. (September 19)

Unforgettable – A former cop with a medical condition that makes her remember everything joins her ex-boyfriend’s homicide unit to solve crimes. I have a couple of other crimey cop shows, and this sounds like it’s going to be seriously heavy. (September 20)

The Secret Circle – Teenage girl goes to small-town Washington, discovers mysterious magical heritage. Yes, it’s witches instead of vampires, but it still seems a little too Twilight for me. (September 15)

Hart of Dixie – A New York doctor moves to small-town Alabama to work. And her last name is Hart! Nothing about this one speaks to me. (September 26)

H8R – I hadn’t even heard of this show until I looked at the fall schedule. Apparently celebrities get to confront mundanes who “hate” them, to try and convince the haters that the celebrites really aren’t all that bad. This sounds like the worst possible kind of reality show. (September 14)

A Gifted Man – Self-absorbed surgeon becomes a better man when visited by his dead wife’s ghost. Never heard of this one either. Looks heavier than dark matter. (September 23)

Thoughts? Opinions? What will you be watching? What will you definitely NOT be watching?