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!

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.

Sparkling Raspberries

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I’ve been doing a ton of fermenting lately and have been blessed with an abundance of yummy fruits and veggies from both our garden patch and the gardens of friends. I really love raspberries and have been enjoying them in coconut cream, raw dairy cream and drizzled with honey. I found myself in need of an interesting and quick dessert for a barbeque at my parent’s house over the weekend so I decided to do a quick ferment on a batch of the red beauties. The result was a sparkling, tangy berry topping that paired perfectly with vanilla ice cream. It’s funny how the simplest of foods can make such an impact. The dessert was simple, beautiful, flavorful and had the benefits of being rich in probiotic goodness.  (This post can be found at Party Wave Wednesday and Real Food Wednesday) You can also find me on Facebook!

Ingredients:

2 pints raspberries
½ tsp. whey

Prep:

Soak the berries in a 3:1 ratio of water to vinegar. This will clean the berries and keep them from molding. Rinse the berries and allow them to dry then transfer them to a jar. Lightly smash the berries until there is a good amount of liquid then mix in your whey. Put a lid on the jar and let it sit on your counter in a warm spot for 24-72 hours. Your berries are ready when the jar gives a good hiss and a pop when you open it. You can give them a taste to be sure the flavor is tart enough. Transfer to the fridge for storage. You can use this sauce for pancakes, angel food cake, ice cream, pretty much anything you can think of. I think I’m going to try a scoop of this mixed into honey sweetened lemonade. Let me know if you give this a try and how you like it. ~Carmen

Green Tomato & Garlic Spread

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This recipe was born out of both experiment and necessity. I had almost a half-gallon of raw milk that had gone sour and wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. I decided to go ahead and utilize it for making whey as I was running very low. The cool thing about whey is the soured cream cheese that is produced as a byproduct. Since it is my general policy not to let anything go to waste I wanted to use the cream cheese in some way however, soured cream cheese from raw milk is, well, sour. Not generally appetizing alone, it does make a good base for a strong flavored spread. I had been experimenting with fermenting green tomatoes and fresh garlic, so I thought that the flavor would be strong enough to work with the cream cheese. This spread is pungent, flavorful and perfect on grain free crackers or gluten free crostini.
This recipe involves three parts – the method for making soured cream cheese, the method for making fermented green tomatoes and the actual spread itself. Generally I would put these into three different posts, and I may do that eventually but for the sake of getting the recipe out to you all I will just quickly go over how it’s done.

Fermented Green Tomatoes

What you need: green tomatoes, garlic cloves, salt and a jar

Method: for an 8oz jar, chop as many green tomatoes that will fit into the jar loosely packed. Smash and chip 3 fresh garlic cloves and add them to your jar. Add a ¼ tsp. of sea salt and mash the contents into the jar until there is liquid. Put a lid on the jar and let it sit on your countertop for 24 to 72 hours depending on the warmth of your kitchen. In these summer months, my ferments are ready in about 24 to 36 hours. Your jar should make a nice pop when you open it and the tomatoes will be softer but still have a crunch similar to pickles. They are now ready for your spread (or for eating straight out of the jar).

Soured Cream Cheese

What you need: Raw milk (soured or not), 2 jars, cheese cloth or nut milk bag

Method: Pour your milk into wide mouth jars and set them on your counter for 24 to 72 hours until they clabber. Clabbering occurs as the whey separates from the solids. You can tell when your milk is clabbered when it looks like yogurt is floating on the top. Line your clean jar with the cheese cloth or nut milk bag and pour the clabbered milk in. Hang the cloth over the jar to allow all of the whey to drip out, leaving you with cream cheese. The whey can be stored up to 6 months in the fridge and is perfect for fermenting veggies and making cultured sodas. Chill your cream cheese overnight so it’s nice and firm.

And now….the easy part!

Mix your soured cream cheese, ¼ tsp. sea salt, ½ tsp. cracked pepper, ½ cup of fermented green tomatoes and a smashed and chopped clove of fresh garlic until well incorporated. Put the mixture back into the fridge to chill. That’s it! This recipe is well worth the work, and received rave reviews from family members that still think my food is “weird”. Give it a try and let me know what you think, I’m sure there are many variations that would be super yummy! ~Carmen

(This post can be found on the following blog link-ups:  Party Wave Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Gluten Free Fridays, Aloha Friday, Food On Fridays, Weekend Whatever, Simple Lives Thursday, and No Rules Weekend)  You can also find me on Facebook!

Home Made, Healthy, Tasty Au Jus “Concentrate”

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I loved French dip sandwiches when I was growing up.  We always had them when my mom would make a roast as leftovers the next day.  Once I was out of my own and I began to cook meals for myself, I used the au jus mix from the store, the kind in the little packets.  These days, more concerned about healthy eating and armed with better information, I appreciate the value of home-made foods.  At the beginning of 2013 I began to really commit to avoiding packaged foods and condiments.

Au jus is great thickened with arrowroot and used as a gravy, it’s also superb for French dip sandwiches or poured over white rice and it is super simple to make.  I have tried in the past to make my own au jus but I couldn’t get the desired liquid amounts from just one roast, and to add water at the beginning made it too diluted.  Here is the secret to great, rich, and flavorful au jus: roasted bone broth or “stock”.  It adds depth to the flavor and gives volume without a watered down taste.  Here are some simple directions to get perfect au jus from your roast every time.

What you need:

2 lb roast

½ cup Course sea salt

½ c. roasted bone broth (find my recipe here)

Black Pepper

2 tbsp ghee (find my recipe here)

4 – 6 tbsp Coconut Aminos

Slow Cooker

Prep:

In a large bowl, coat the roast in coconut aminos and let it sit for 20 minutes or so.  Remove your roast from the marinade and pour the remaining coconut aminos into your crock pot.  Next, coat your roast in sea salt and add a generous amount of black pepper.  Heat the ghee in a frying pan and sear the roast on all sides, this is important to make a moist and tender roast.  Now, add your roast to the crock pot along with the bone broth and cook on low heat for 6 hours.  Cook time will vary greatly depending on your slow cooker so be sure to make adjustments as needed.

Once your roast is done, transfer it to a plate for serving and pour the liquid from the crockpot through a strainer into a mason jar.  You now have flavorful au jus for those next day left overs or a perfect gravy base for potatoes and such. This will be very concentrated so at this point I would recommend a ratio of au jus concentrate to water at a 2:1 ratio.   Enjoy! ~Carmen

(This post can be seen on the following blog link-ups: Party Wave Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday , The Weekend Whatever) And you can also find me on Facebook!