Grain Free Cocoa Cut-Out Cookies

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Well friends, it’s getting closer to Halloween and in our house there is tons of excitement over treats, costumes and decorating. My little guy wanted to make some cut-out cookies with some awesome cookie cutters that we found on a clearance last year. I have been wanting to make a chocolate cookie and experiment with dates as a sweetener. These cookies were easy to make and pretty healthy compared to other recipes. Best part of all, they have been officially dubbed “yummy” by the picky preschooler! I hope you give these a try and enjoy them as much as we have. ~Carmen

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Ingredients:

1 c. coconut flour

1/3 c. baking cocoa

¼ c. coconut oil

¼ c. softened butter

2 tbsp. chia seeds + 6tbsp. water

1 c. medjool dates – pitted + 1 c. HOT water  (this would be about 8 to 10 large dates)

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. vanilla bean paste (extract will do just fine)

¼ tsp. sea salt (I just eyeball it and add 2 pinches)

Prep:

First, soak your chia seeds in warm water for about ten minutes while you are prepping other ingredients, they should be the consistency of a thick gel.  Next, puree your dates and water until smooth.  Then add your coconut oil, butter, vanilla bean paste and soaked chia seeds.  Blend well.

In a separate bowl, sift coconut flour and cocoa to make a fine flour.  Add your baking powder and salt.  Mix well.

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Now blend your dry ingredients with the wet mixture.  You can do this by hand but a food processor or stand mixer will make work a bit shorter.  The dough is going to look like brown Play-Doh, this is good.  Now, roll the dough into a ball and refrigerate it for at least an hour.  I like to cheat and throw it in the freezer for 20 minutes but I’m incredibly inpatient.

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Once your dough is chilled, pre-heat your oven to 350, and place the dough ball between two sheets of parchment paper lightly greased with coconut oil.  Roll the dough to 1/8-1/4” depending on how thin or crispy you want them.  I recommend going thicker if you will be adding the glaze.  Use your cookie cutters to cut out shapes, or if you want a square graham-cracker style cookie just cut it with a knife (these are great with coffee or used for s’mores).

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Bake for about 10-12 minutes.  NOTE!  All ovens are not created equal!  I highly recommend checking how fast these are baking at the 5 minute mark and adjust accordingly.  If you want soft cookies, take them out early and let them sit on the hot pan.  It’s sort of a trial and error sort of deal.

Allow the cookies to cool completely before frosting them with your favorite glaze or frosting. I used melted milk chocolate on the bats and powdered sugar on the skulls.

This post is part of the following blog link-ups:  Party Wave Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, and as always if you like these posts feel free to like my Facebook page!

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Getting The Most From Your Real Food Investment – Chicken

 

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When you make a significant investment in nourishing, real foods it is important to get the most our of your investment.  Here are just a few ways I get the most bang for my poultry dollars!

Buy whole chickens.  You can do so much with a whole chicken!  Here are a few ways I utilize mine:

1)  Meal 1: Roasted chicken breast, sauteed vegis over rice

2) Meal 2: Chicken Fajitas in corn tortillas

3) Leftovers:  Stew the entire carcass for 10 hours in the slow cooker.  Strain the broth and freeze the leftover stewed carcass!

4) Use fresh chicken broth to make a creamy soup: 2 cups broth, 1 cup heavy cream, 1 tbsp curry, 1/4 cup chives ( Add any leftover meat).

5) Use previously stewed/frozen carcass to make a remouillage. Cooked longer (24 hours) it can be just as tasty as the first batch!

So here, we have 5 different uses for one bird at the same price as a package of pre-cut chicken breasts.  How do you stretch your food budget? ~Carmen

 

 

Pumpkin Muffins with Maple Buttercream

1275844_544680435602585_1719051208_oThis post has been long overdue.  I have been obsessing over perfecting a recipe for low-carb, grain-free pizza crust and now that I think I’ve got it I can focus on getting my posts up!  These pumpkin muffins were inspired by the all things pumpkin across the interwebs as of late.  They are moist and very reminiscent of pie, they even got the picky hubby seal of approval.  These puppies are grain free, and taste perfectly fine without the (delicious) maple buttercream.  Let me know what you think! ~Carmen

Pumpkin Muffins

1 cup coconut flour

1 cup canned pumpkin

4 large eggs

3 tbsp butter

1/4 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tbsp. vanilla

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Prep:

Line your muffin tin,  you don’t absolutely need tin liners but it makes for easy clean-up muffin removal.  Preheat your oven to 350.

Put everything into a food processor and blend until smooth.  This batter should be the consistency of a thick cake mix.  If you don’t have a food processor, a mixer and a bowl will do just fine, just be sure to incorporate your coconut flour, flax and baking soda before mixing into the wet ingredients.

Bake for approximately 50 minutes.  Your oven may be hotter or cooler so the time can vary.  The muffins are done when a toothpick comes out clean, but be sure not to overcook.  The best thing to do is remove the pan from the oven and let the muffins cool in-pan to be sure that the centers are cooked.

Maple Buttercream

1 stick of butter

1 cup confectioners sugar

4 tbsp. maple syrup

Add all to your food processor or a bowl and mix until fluffy.  If you want a thicker frosting you may want to tinker with the confectioners sugar a bit.

This post can be found on the following blog carnivals: Party Wave Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday,    If you like my posts feel free to show the like love on my Facebook page!

Cilantro & Lime Rice

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Today I’m sharing by mom’s secret to adding some zest to plain white rice.  Cilantro and lime go so well together and rice picks up the flavor nicely.  This is a great side for a Mexican cuisine and balances out the heavy tomato flavors of recipes for enchiladas and fajitas.  It doesn’t take any more time, and can turn a very basic staple into a pot-luck worthy dish.  On a side note, save those lime rinds to make citrus infused vinegar for a non-toxic household cleaner.  I hope you enjoy this dish as much as my family does!

Ingredients:

Rice – 4 cup cooked yield (I use Organic Basmati)

2 limes

Cilantro – a nice handful is fine

Sea Salt

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Prep:  Prepare your rice according to the directions, using sea salt rather than regular table salt really brings out the flavor of the dish.  Roll your limes firmly with the palm of your hand to get the juices going then slice into quarters.  Finely chop a handful (roughly a  ¼ cup) of cilantro.   Toss the limes and cilantro into the rice, after it is mixed well you will want to remove the limes (if they are left in too long, the rice can take on the bitter flavor of the rind).  Serve immediately.

If you like my recipes, please share them with your friends and follow me on Facebook! This post can be found on the following blog carnivals: Party Wave Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday,

Savory Stuffed Peppers

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These yummy stuffed peppers are a great way to add some variety to your meal plan without a bunch of extra work.  I love these because you can literally throw everything into the food processor, stuff the peppers, toss ‘em into a crock pot and forget them until dinner time.  The recipe that I made utilizes a pound of ground beef, and there is plenty to stuff 6 or 7 peppers.  My crock holds 5, and for a family of three that gives us dinner and a left over lunch for the hubby.  I did have some extra meat mixture left over; stay tuned to see what I did with that. I hope you enjoy this simple, flavorful recipe.  Feel free to make it your own and share how it turns out.  ~Carmen

Tools:

Food Processor or large bowl and knife for chopping

Ingredients:

½ cup basmati rice

6 oz. tomato paste

1 lb. ground beef

2 tsp. chili pepper

1 tsp. maple syrup

3 garlic cloves

¼ large white onions

1 egg

5 – 7 red peppers

1 tsp. sea salt

**All of these ingredients are uncooked, the rice will cook in the meat juices**

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Prep:

If you are using a food processor, toss the garlic cloves and onion in first to chop finely.  Next add your egg, tomato paste, maple syrup.  Lastly you mix in your ground beef and rice. If you are using a bowl and knife, finely chop your garlic and onion, whisk your egg and add it to the mixture.  Stir in tomato paste and maple syrup then add your rice and ground beef.  This step works well with your hands.

Once your mixture is prepared, cut the tops off of your peppers making sure that you cut off as little as possible.  I like to pull off the stems and keep the tops for “lids”, it just makes the dish look prettier I think.  Now you can stuff your peppers about ¾ full.  Leaving room at the top is important so that the rice can expand.

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Add your peppers to the crock pot along with a few tablespoons of water or beef bone broth if you have some on hand.  This will keep the peppers from sticking to your crock.  Set your crockpot on low if you want it to cook slower in about 7 hours or on high for 4 hours.  This dish is great with a side of sliced pineapple.

This post is linked to the following blog carnivals: Party Wave Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday,

2 Step Applesauce

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Last weekend while my family and I were enjoying time at the lake, my mom discovered an apple tree on the property that we have been spending weekends on.  There were literally tons of ripe apples on the tree and of course that made us super excited.  We shook the tree, gathered apples and set out to make applesauce.  Since we weren’t prepared for making applesauce, we didn’t have any spices or sugar on hand but we did have some local peach preserves sweetened with grape juice so that served as our sweetener.  The results were excellent, and quite honestly the apples were so sweet already that the sauce was just fine unsweetened as well.  This post is dedicated to our apple find, and to easy peasy applesauce.  Enjoy! ~Carmen

Prep:

Wash your apples and slice thinly.  Don’t be afraid to leave the skin on, it adds some texture and the skins are a powerhouse of nutrients.  Add to a pan with a pinch of salt (not necessary if you don’t have it on hand).

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As the apples cook, they will begin to get soft and turn to sauce.  Gently stir and break up the mixture (I like mine chunky).  Give it a taste test and once the texture is to your preference, you are done.  At this point you can mix in whatever spices or sweetener you have on hand.  Voila!  Homemade applesauce in about 30 minutes.

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Chicken No-Pasta Salad

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Prior to my learning about eating healthier and ditching gluten for a more primal style diet. One of my absolute favorite dishes was pasta salad. My go-to in a pinch was, brace yourself, Suddenly Salad. I loved both the Italian and the Bacon & Ranch variety. Yup, I would throw in some canned chicken and chow down.  These days I know better than to even walk down the “dinner” isle at the grocery store because there is just nothing there to eat.

We spent our last weekend glamping at a lake in Eastern Washington and I was really missing some of the faves that I used to bring along. I made a mental note to myself to try and find some healthy alternatives.  Fast forward to today: As I was pondering what to make for dinner tonight I had a lightbulb moment while staring at some rather boring leftover roasted chicken breasts In my fridge.  Further exploration of my refrigerator and pantry yeilded enough ingredients for me to try to recreate a healthy version of my long forgotten fave. I did, and I am so glad. The result is a creamy, savory and satisfying chicken salad that is perfect for making in large batches for a quick lunch or potluck. Let me know if you try it, I certainly hope you enjoy!

Tools:

Food processor (not totally necessary but makes the job easier), large spoon, bowl

Ingredients:

4 chicken breast, cooked and shredded (this is where the food processor is nice)

6 strips cooked crisp bacon

2 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced in halves

1/4 large onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups cold peas

1cup finely shredded mozzarella (optional)

2 cups mayo ( I make my own, but if have regular store bought that’s fine)

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp black pepper

Prep:

First shred or dice your chicken.  Alternatively you can use a food processor and this makes the process much easier.  In a large bowl add peas, onion, garlic, cheese and bacon. Mix to combine. Next, fold in the chopped chicken, mayo and tomatoes. You want the tomatoes last so they don’t get too beat up. Add your salt and pepper to taste. Presto! Done! Simple, easy and delicious. Enjoy! ~Carmen

This post is part of the following blog carnivals: Party Wave Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Weekend Whatever, Guten Free Fridays, Food On Friday, )  You can also find me on Facebook.