Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Cranberry Lemon Scones ~ A Grain & Gluten-Free Recipe

The aroma of coffee brewing and breakfast baking is such a welcoming "hello" in the morning.  Scones are my hero because from start to finish, they reach the table in less than thirty minutes.  I tossed in a few white chocolate chips to make it an extra special treat.  Trader Joe's offers them this time of year and I usually stock up before Christmas is over and their supply runs out.  If you decide to opt out of them, drizzling a bit of honey over the scones is yummy since there is no sugar in the recipe.  Almond flour is naturally sweet so there's no need to add any other sweetener.  This recipe makes six large, Starbucks-sized scones.  You could easily make two disks and cut each up in sixths to make twelve mini scones (see pictures below).  This is definitely in the running for the coveted Christmas breakfast dish along with Easy, Cheese Ham & Potato Strata.

GF Cranberry Lemon Scones
Prep time: 10 minutes, bake time: 15-18 minutes, yields 6 scones
  • 2 cups blanched almond flour
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter or coconut oil
  • 2 eggs
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • juice from 1/2 of the same lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup white chocolate chips (optional)
  • raw honey to drizzle over baked scones
  1. Preheat oven to 350º.
  2. Mix together flour, powder, soda, and salt.
  3. While the mixer is mixing, cut in butter, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, until dough is crumbly.  If you're using coconut oil, you can dump the whole amount in at once and mix until crumbly.
  4. Whisk together eggs and juice, then stir in cranberries and lemon zest.  Pour into dough and mix thoroughly. 
  5. Shape dough into a disk, about 1 inch thick.  Cut 6 pieces like cutting a pie.  Place pieces on baking sheet and bake 15-18 minutes or until hints of brown are around the edges.  Drizzle raw honey over scones just before serving.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Easy Mini Chocolate Cloud Cakes ~ A Naturally Gluten/Grain-Free Recipe

With a cake rich in flavor and light as a cloud in texture, it brings satisfaction without feeling like there's a lump of dough in your stomach.  These little cakes are gorgeous in presentation and delightful to sink your spoon into.  My pitiful camera doesn't do them justice.  Someday, maybe someday, I'll get a big girl one.  In the meantime, I plan on making these for the next dinner party as both children and grown-ups delight in these flourless, mini cloud cakes.

Ramekins are a favorite around here.  They are the perfect-sized bowl to hold soups and porridges for little children.  I use them as my ice cream bowl to keep from polishing of way more than I should.  If you decide to make these in muffin tins, I highly recommend using parchment paper (see collection of how-to pictures below) instead of cupcake liners because these cakes puff up quite a lot while baking.

No-Flour Mini Chocolate Cloud Cakes
Prep time: 20 minutes, bake time, 20 minutes, makes 18 mini cakes

For the cake:
For the topping:
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  1. Get eggs out of fridge and set on counter to un-chill.  Preheat oven to 350º.  Line muffin tins with parchment paper or lightly butter ramekin pots.
  2. In saucepan, melt chocolate chips and butter over medium/low heat.  Set side.
  3. Separate 4 eggs and let whites fall into mixing bowl.  Put yolks in a different bowl along with 2 whole eggs and set aside.  Whip egg whites until stiff.  Slowly add 1/2 cup sugar as you continue to whip the whites until incorporated.  Scoop whites out into a bowl and set aside.  Now pour the other egg mixture (with the yolks) in the mixer and whip on high for about a minute.  Slowly pour in other half cup of sugar, then chocolate mixture into egg yolk mixture while whisking on medium speed until fully incorporated.
  4. Very gently fold in the egg whites, at about one half of it at a time, until all folded in.  Scrape into  ramekin pots or lined cupcake tins, 2/3 full.  Smooth tops.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top doesn't wobble.  Don't over-bake!
  5. While cakes bake, wash mixing bowl and put it in the freezer to chill (this helps the whipped cream set up).   Cool cakes on rack.  Don't worry!  They will fall.   When cakes are cool and you're ready to serve, put whipping cream in chilled mixer and whip until peeks form.  Slowly pour syrup and vanilla into the cream as you finish whipping.  Once cakes are cool, plop a dollop of whipped cream on top of each cake and sprinkle cocoa powder on top.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Weekly Menu Plan #54

Coming back to routine after a week of festivities is a bittersweet thing.  Relaxing with loved ones more than usual is always hard to say goodbye to.  Christmas is just around the corner though, so we'll be back to snuggling under cozy blankets by the fire with hot cocoa again before we know it.  I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving!

Breakfast:  Porridge & Eggs
Lunch:  Turkey Sandwiches, Carrot Sticks, Hummus, Persimmons
Snack:  Cranberry Sauce Smoothies
Dinner:  Warming Butternut Squash Soup (using 2 delicata squashes) & Salad

Lunch:  Nut Butter & Berry Wraps, Apple & Raw Cheese Slices, Crispy Almonds

Lunch:  Ham & Cheese Sandwiches, Pear Slices, Apple Chips, Crispy Pecans 

To do: make cookie dough bitesthaw chicken stock for Saturday
Breakfast:  GF Chocolate-Glazed Pumpkin Muffins (double batch)
Lunch:  Leftover muffins, Raw Cheese & Apple Slices, Hummus & Carrot Slices
Dinner:  GF Spaghetti with Minced Swiss Chard mixed in

To do: soak navy beans for tomorrow night
Breakfast:  Eggs & Pastured Bacon
Lunch:  Persimmons, Cookie Dough Bites, Raw Cheese Wrapped in Lunch Meat
Dinner:  Quesorritos

Lunch:  Irish Nachos

Breakfast:  Leftover GF Chocolate-Glazed Pumpkin Muffins
Lunch:  Leftovers
Dinner:  Leftovers
(Sunday is my day off)

I'm sharing this at Meal Plan Monday, Fight Back Friday.

Friday, November 23, 2012

A New Christmas eBook!

Is your fridge filled with Thanksgiving leftovers?  At least we know what to do with it all, right?  If you are like me, what little Black Friday shopping happens is done online (in jammies, while nibbling a turkey wrap and a slice of leftover pie).  While you're here at the computer, take a gander at this new ebook I had the privilege of being a part of.  With 53 pages full of delicious, real food recipes for holiday gatherings, families around the world can start enjoying nourishing, holiday traditions that they look forward to each year.

Guess what?  I will be giving a copy away next week, so stay tuned!  But if you just can't wait that long, you can be the first to snag a copy today for 50% off when you use the code FESTIVE50.  That code is good for today only.   Just look at the table of contents:

I mean, yum, right?  

Whether you are out with the deal-finders, decorating your home, or just relaxing after a day of thanks, I hope this day is filled with joy and happiness.  Welcome, Christmastime!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Turkey Reuben Sandwich ~ A Recipe

Twas the day before Thanksgiving and all through the house, 
there was hustling and bustling with no time to grouse.
The turkey was thawing, taking up the whole fridge,
leaving room for nothing else, not even a smidge.

The children were leaping and dancing for joy,
no school to be found, using toy after toy.
I in my apron, sprinkling nutmeg and clove,
to fix all the fixins, dirtying up the clean stove.

It's true.  That is an original poem.  It's a gift.  I don't talk about it much.  Ahem...

Thanksgiving is tomorrow!  I adore this holiday.  Food, family, and fankfulness.  My three favorite f's.  I know we are all busy today and Friday is not even on the radar just yet, but consider this quick, tasty dish to nourish your Black-Friday-crazed selves.  It's delish.  We love it.  The end.  Oh and the recipe?  It's over at Modern Alternative Kitchen today, along with some other ideas for your turkey leftovers.

Happy Thanksgiving to all, and to all a good day!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Easy, Cheesy, Gluten-Free Ham & Potato Strata Recipe

Whether you are cooking for a brunch, preparing a special holiday breakfast, or baking ahead to prepare quick options for a week's worth of healthy breakfasts (or even lunches or dinners), this dish brings smiles to faces and satisfaction to stomachs.  If you want to serve it for breakfast but don't want to get up at the crack of dawn, simply construct this dish up to 24 hours ahead of time, cover, and store in the fridge.  When you're ready to bake, uncover it, put it in a cold oven, set it to 350º, and bake for one hour instead of 40 minutes.

This is also a wonderful recipe to use up holiday leftovers.  Layer mashed potatoes one half inch thick in place of the boiled, sliced potatoes.  If you have leftover ham, simply use up to two cups, chopped, in the recipe.

Easy, Cheesy Potato Strata
Prep time: 20 minutes, Bake time: 40 minutes, serves 8-10
  • 6 potatoes (peeled if using russet)
  • 4 tablespoons butter or ghee
  • 1 cup cheddar, grated
  • 1 cup gruyere, grated
  • 1 onion
  • 8 ounces ham
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 cup creme fraiche
  • 1 tablespoon butter or ghee
  • Celtic sea salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350º.  Peel potatoes if using russet.  Slice into fourths.  Place in large pot, fill with water just enough to cover potatoes.  Bring to a boil and boil for about 10 minutes or until potatoes are soft but still firm enough to slice.  
  2. While potatoes boil, put butter in 9x13-inch pan and place in oven.  Mix cheeses together, beat eggs and creme fraiche together, and grate onion.  When potatoes are done, drain, then slice each piece in half.  Pull pan from the oven and lay half of the potatoes in a single layer at the bottom of pan.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Set aside.
  3. In the same pot you just boiled potatoes in, melt 1 tablespoon butter or ghee and add onions.  Saute at medium/high heat until tender, about 3 minutes.  While the onions saute, chop ham.  Turn off heat and stir ham in with onions. Layer all the ham/onion mixture over the potatoes in the pan.  Sprinkle half the cheese mixture over the ham/onions.  Layer the rest of the potatoes over ham, sprinkle with more salt and pepper, then cover with the rest of the cheese.  Pour egg mixture over dish.
  4. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown.  Serve hot, room temperature, or cold, depending on your druthers.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Weekly Menu Plan #53 ~ Thanksgiving Week!

Very naughty no-bake chocolate peanut butter pie (I used GF pretzels)
Happy Thanksgiving!  This holiday is way up there on the "Days I Adore" list.  We focus on thankfulness, loved ones, and food.  These are a few of my favorite things!  This week is especially special because my parents are coming up for a visit.  Then we are all making the trek to my in-laws on Thanksgiving day.  We plan to spend "Black Friday" in the forest, looking to tag the perfect Christmas tree for our little Christmas Cabin.  Then...  out come the Christmas decorations!  This week is a most happy one, indeed.  What are your plans?

To do: thaw ground meat for Wednesday, make crackers
Breakfast: GF Chocolate-Drizzled Pumpkin Muffins (double batch)
Lunch:  Leftover Soup from Last Week & Grilled Cheese on GF Bread

To do: soak beans for tomorrow
Breakfast: GF German Pancakes
Lunch:  Quesorritos & Pear Slices
Dinner:  MM Sandwich (sans bread, over salad instead)

Wednesday: Thanksgiving prep!
To do: make cranberry saucepumpkin pie pecan pie, & no-bake chocolate PB pie (with GF pretzels) 
Breakfast: Chocolate-Glazed Pumpkin Muffins (leftover from Monday)
Lunch:  out to lunch with my parents!

Thursday:  Happy Thanksgiving!
To do: make GF version of green bean casserolecream corn casserole (using GF mix)
Breakfast:  GF Scones (recipe coming soon)
Lunch:  Packed lunches for the road:  Carrots, Celery, Cheese, Raisins, GF Crackers
Dinner:  Potluck Thanksgiving Feast

Friday: in the woods, hunting for a Christmas tree!
Lunch:  traditional stop at Cinnamon Bear Cafe after getting the tree
Dinner:  Shepherd's Pie

Saturday: decorate for Christmas!
Lunch:  Turkey Sandwiches 
Dinner:  Turkey Reuben Sandwiches (recipe coming Wednesday!)

Breakfast: Stuffing Cakes
Lunch:  Leftovers
Dinner:  Leftovers
(Sunday is my day off)

I'm sharing this at Monday Mania, Real Food Wednesday.

Friday, November 16, 2012

How To Use Every Scrap of Thanksgiving Leftovers

Thanksgiving leftovers?  I know, it's not even Thursday yet, but if I don't have a game plan ready, those leftovers are overwhelming and stuffing them back in the fridge for later can feel pointless.  What am I going to do with it all, anyway?  Using what's left of the annual feast can really save a lot of money.  Besides, it would be a shame to let all that hard work  it took to prepare those dishes go to waste.  Here are ways to actually enjoy what's left:

Let's start with the big one.  There's so much more that can be done besides turkey tetrazzini.
  • Stop!  Don't even throw the carcass out!  Use it to make nourishing stock.  Here is a recipe for chicken stock.  Turkey stock can be made the same way.  You'll enjoy soup for days.
  • Sandwiches & wraps.  My favorite way to whip up a Black Friday lunch is to spread some cream cheese over a tortilla or two pieces of bread (or even leftover rolls!), stack some turkey on there, and spoon some cranberry sauce on top.  Roll up the wrap or put that sandwich together.  Yummers.
  • Get out your favorite chicken soup recipe and use turkey instead.  What a warming thing to slurp after hanging those Christmas lights up outside.  Freeze any leftovers to pull out on a crazy December night.  No need for take-out!
  • Are you just tired of turkey?  Freeze it in one-pound portions to take out for later.  I like to use it in quesadillas, nachos, over a bed or rice with cheese sprinkled on top, or even in a salad.
  • Stay tuned!  Later this week I have a spacial dish to share with you.  It's a delicious home for your turkey.  You will love it.
photo credit
Mashed Potatoes
  • Enjoy some potato pancakes the following morning.  This recipe shows you how.  I use coconut flour or arrowroot powder instead of wheat flour and Ghee instead of vegetable oil.
  • Use it in this nourishing potato soup recipe on place of potatoes.  Use 2-3 cups mashed potatoes.
  • Of course, there's always shepherd's pie.  Use leftover turkey meat instead of ground meat and you get double points!  Use fresh mushrooms or omit altogether.  Use arrowroot powder instead of wheat flour.  Omit bullion.  You're good to go.
photo credit
Cranberry Sauce
photo credit
Sweet Potato (Yam) Casserole
  • The same concept can be used as cranberry sauce!  Use it in place of pumpkin puree for any pumpkin recipe (scones, bread, pancakes...).  The nutty top from the casserole gives it an extra yum factor.
  • Use 1 cup of it instead of persimmons in this smoothie recipe.  Trust me.  It's good.
  • Bonus!  You can also make sweet potato cake with it using an apple cake recipe.  Just use 1 cup sweet potato casserole instead of apples.  It works!
photo credit
Green Bean Casserole
  • Here we go, folks.  A triple-point dish.  You know that shepherd's pie recipe mentioned above in the mashed potato section?  Eliminate the milk and arrowroot powder altogether and simple mix leftover turkey with 3 cups leftover green bean casserole and you've got yourself a dinner!
  • Saute 5 cloves garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes in 1 tablespoon olive oil just for a minute.  Then add 1-3 cups green bean casserole to the garlic, stir, and heat through.  Serve over a bed of rice or rice noodles and sprinkle parmesan cheese and freshly-ground pepper on top.
photo credit
  • Beat an egg or two, add stuffing (about 1 cup per person), and mix well.  Melt butter or ghee in a skillet, shape the mixture into little cakes and fry like pancakes.  Spoon leftover cranberry sauce on top of cooked stuffing cakes.
  • Mix 2 cups stuffing, 1 beaten egg, 1 cup chopped leafy greens, and 1 cup grated cheese.  Form into 1-inch balls and bake at 350º for 10-15 minutes or until firm.  Use like meatballs.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are ready.  Bring on the leftovers.  We know how to use 'em.  Let's to this thing.

I'm sharing this at Monday Mania, Real Food Wednesday.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Gluten-Free, Grain-Free Chocolate-Drizzled Pumpkin Muffins ~ A Recipe

Muffins are my favorite go-to for this time of year.  It's cold enough to bake, they're quick to make, they are a yummy breakfast and are also great for snacks and with lunches, and they freeze well.  Since we make a double batch of them each week, I need to change up the ingredients a bit so they don't all end up being almost identical.  Adding a little chocolate drizzle definitely makes them feel like a special treat.  If you'd prefer to opt out of the drizzle, no big dizzle.  They're still the bomb-schnizzle.  Yo.

Grain-Free, Chocolate-Drizzled Pumpkin Muffins
Prep time: 10 min, bake time: 20 min, makes 2 dozen muffins

For the batter:
For the drizzle:
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350º.  Grease or line 18 muffin tins.  Put all batter ingredients in blender and blend on high for 45-60 seconds.  You might need to use the agitator to make sure everything mixes well.  Pour batter into muffin tins about 2/3 the way up.  Bake for 18-20 minutes or until not jiggly. 
  2. As the muffins cool, mix chocolate chips and coconut oil in a saucepan over medium heat until melted.  Use a spoon to drizzle chocolate over warm muffins.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

How to Make Apple Chips ~ A Recipe

By way of friends with trees and really good finds on organic, local apples, we ended up with a bushel and a half of Granny Smith's this year.  Boy, were we thankful and excited!  Then we realized just how much effort it takes to preserve 65 pounds of apples.  We made several batches of late harvest crisp, apple pies, and slow cooker spiced applesauce, but we still had twenty pounds of apples on our hands.

By the way?  Processing 65 pounds of apples wouldn't have been possible without our shiny new toy: what the children call The Amazing Apple Machine.

Before I go on about how amazing this apple machine is, I really wished we had invested in the kind with the clamp base and not the suction one.  The suction looses it's grip fairly easily which is especially frustrating for little helpers.  It didn't deter them too much, though.

This amazing apple machine peels, cores, and slices an apple in five seconds flat.  How have I lived without one for so long?  I might have been able to campaign for prop 37 with all that extra time.  Then it would have passed and the world would have been a better place, but because I wasted all that time peeling, chopping, and coring without an amazing machine, GMOs are still not going to be labeled and it's all my fault.  Wait.  What?  Sorry.  Getting back to apples now.  I really am going to show you how to make those chips.  Readysetgo.

We were able to process ten pounds of apples at a time.  It filled the 9-tray dehydrator (don't worry, you can make these in the oven too.  We'll get to that soon) and a 1-gallon glass jar where they were stored once they were done.

Apple Chips
Prep time: 30 minutes, bake/dehydrate time: about 8-12 hours, fills a 1-gallon jar
  • 10 pounds apples (Granny Smiths work well)
  • juice from 3 lemons
  1. Pour 1/3 of the lemon juice in a large bowl.
  2. Peel, core, and slice apples, one at a time, and cut in half (see below).  Honestly, to get the slices thin enough, you need an apple peeler/corer/slicer.  I mean, you can slice them manually if your knife is sharp and your apples are firm, but it will take you forever.  The slices need to be about 1/4 inch thin.
  3. Gently stir the apple slices around in the bowl to coat with lemon juice after each apple has been processed.  The juice keeps the apples from turning brown.  When you are half way through your bag of apples, pour another 1/3 portion of the lemon juice over the slices and gently toss.  When all apples have been sliced, sprinkle the last of the lemon juice over the apples.
  4. Lay the apples out on your dehydrator trays or on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  Be sure they are in a single layer (see below).  If using a dehydrator, set to 105º and dehydrate apples for 8-12 hours, or until they are the consistency you like them (we like ours a little bend-ble but all the way dry).  If using an oven, set it at the lowest possible temperature and bake about 12-18 hours.  Store in a sealed container in a cool, dry place like the pantry.  They will stay good for at least one year (but in my house they last about one week).

And just what to we do with all those peels and cores?  Let's just say our hens love apple day.  Of course, if you don't have chickens, the scraps make great compost.

Taking chicken scraps down to "the ladies"

Monday, November 12, 2012

40 Natural, Tasteful Gift Ideas

Tis the season to think of others!  It is truly satisfying to give a well-received gift that won't end up at the landfills in a month.  A compilation of handmade gift ideas is soon to come, but here is a list of personally-recommended boughten gifts either cherished in our home or on our wish lists:

Stocking Stuffers:
For the Kitchen (some items could be put together in a beautiful gift basket):
For the Children:
Big Gifts That Will Make Healthier, Higher Quality, Food & Save Time & Money:
What would you add to the list?  

I'm sharing this at Monday Mania, Simple Lives ThursdayPennywise Platter, Real Food Wednesday.


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