The Festivities Begin

Cora LOVES Hello Kitty. And so, we’re going to have a Hello Kitty birthday party on Saturday! More on that later…However, we’ve already started some of the festivities and preparations. At preschool each child gets to be helper on the school day closest to their birthday. That just happens to be today for Cora! And, they get to bring the snack, which of course is always a more special snack than usual. I thought it would be fun to make Hello Kitty cookies for her to take as the snack, and the rest will be taken to her party on Saturday. I will say that I understand now why one pays so much for decorated cookies. Very time-consuming. I have done a lot of cakes, but these were my first cookies I did more than slap some icing and sprinkles on. In fact, Cora said, “Mom! Can I put the sprinkles on?” She was so perplexed we were not going to be doing sprinkles! HA! In any case, I got most of the decorating done before Cora was home from school but left the eyes and nose for her to help. We had a good time, and she was so excited by the outcome. I have to say, for my first cookie-decorating attempt I was pretty proud, too! Oh…and it took me a couple hours to do 25…I think I have 34 left to do for the party. I may resort to sprinkles…

Make sure you have a very lovely assistant!

Make sure you have a very lovely assistant!

They came out a bit puffier than I was expecting...oh, and these are just good ol' sugar cookies.

They came out a bit puffier than I was expecting…oh, and these are just good ol’ sugar cookies.

I made a thick glaze and shmeared that on each cookie for the trademark white Hello Kitty. It was smooth and hardened pretty a quickly, which is what I wanted.

I made a thick glaze and shmeared that on each cookie for the trademark white Hello Kitty. It was smooth and hardened pretty  quickly, which is what I wanted.

I bought black gel icing and used that to out line the head, the bow (which consisted of 2 big circles and a small one in the middle) and the whiskers. This is what took so long. When I do the rest of the cookies I'm going to cut the tube so the opening isn't so big.

I bought black gel icing and used that to outline the head, the bow (which consisted of 2 big circles and a small one in the middle) and the whiskers. This is what took so long. When I do the rest of the cookies I’m going to cut the tube so the opening isn’t so big.

Then I made pink frosting and used a large star tip for the big circles of the bow and a smaller star tip for the middle.

Then I made pink frosting and used a large star tip for the big circles of the bow and a smaller star tip for the middle.

My LOVELY assistant then put a chocolate chip for each eye and a Lemon Head for the nose. I put a dot of the glaze down first to act as glue.

My LOVELY assistant then put a chocolate chip for each eye and a Lemon Head for the nose. I put a dot of the glaze down first to act as glue.

The finished product! I know the Lemon Head is a bit big and round, but it works well, is the right color of yellow and according to Cora tastes GREAT!

The finished product! I know the Lemon Head is a bit big and round, but it works well, is the right color of yellow and according to Cora tastes GREAT!

Advertisements

Grain Free Sandwich Bread

Update 1-26-14: I made this again, only this time omitting the applesauce. I found it to be so much better! Not nearly as sweet, moist or fruit-bread like. That’s how I’ll make it from now on, I do believe! I might also try it w/out the agave (I used honey) next time and see. 

I found another grain-free sandwich bread recipe and thought I’d try it. Eh. It was OK. Sandwich bread? No, I would not say it’s sandwich bread. It’s a bit sweet and very much the texture of banana or pumpkin bread. It was yummy toasted, and I could see making it into French toast, but I don’t think I would put salami or roast beef and cheese between 2 slices of it. However, it was a decent bread, didn’t take long to make and was rather simple so I figure, make it yourself, and you be the judge! How’s that for advertising? I don’t remember where I found the recipe so I can’t link it to the original spot…My added comments are in italics

IMG_4992

Sandwich Bread (term “sandwich” used loosely!):

2 c. almond flour

2 Tbsp. coconut flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

5 eggs

1 Tbsp. agave (I used maple syrup, honey would be good too, and I think plain ol’ sugar would be fine!)

1/4 c. coconut oil

1/4 c. applesauce (I’m thinking next time I may cut this amount in 1/2 or just omit all together. I think it’s what made the bread too sweet and heavy)

1/2 tsp. salt.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Whisk dry ingredients together in medium bowl.

3. Put eggs, agave, and applesauce in small bowl and whisk together.

4. Add wet ingredients to the dry and mix to form dough (more like a batter).

5. Pour in greased loaf pan and bake for 35 min.

6. Cool in pan.

A Little More Tweaking

I mentioned last week that we would be attempting to have a menu made up for our meals all week–breakfast, lunch and supper. I made up a whole menu, pulled all the recipes (mostly from the cookbook Against All Grain) and did the grocery shopping. We did pretty well! Honestly, we did better than I thought we would–I know, what confidence! We have gotten in the habit of going out WAY too much. I mean, really, it’s such a bad habit, and it’s one we’re trying to break. We did MUCH better with eating out. I think most of our meals were a hit, at least with David and I, and I was encouraged to keep it up for this week too!

I noticed a few things last week with having this menu. A) I had to really be on the ball with thinking ahead to make sure meat was thawed, and dishes were done in plenty of time. B) I found I was in the kitchen even more than I usually am. C) I found it very overwhelming trying so many new recipes! This week, I’ve added a couple new recipes but am doing things I’ve done many times before. I think David might be a little relieved too, because I’m guessing (though he would never say, or complain) he was getting tired of something new and different every single meal!

I think once we do this for a good month I’ll get into a better rhythm, and it won’t feel like I’m in the kitchen all the time. I would highly encourage you making up a weekly menu. If doing a whole week of 3 meals is too overwhelming, just start with the meal you have the most trouble getting on the table. I would say for most of us that is supper. I always find it easier when I have a plan. When you get in a good routine with that 1 meal a day add another one, and so on. I do believe it helped our grocery bill, and it certainly helped our eating out “budget.” It’s always cheaper to eat at home, and with small kids, way less stressful! My goal is to do 2 wks of menu, then 3 and eventually 4 weeks/a whole month.

What’s something new you’re doing to help your household run more smoothly?

Homemade Sausage Patties

Since changing the way we eat we have increased our consumption of bacon and sausage. And, yes, we’re losing weight! Not gaining it! Anyway, have you ever read the ingredients on pre-made sausage patties in the grocery store? Unless you’re going to pay an arm and leg at a store like Whole Foods Market or Trader Joe’s, you’re going to have a hard time finding sausage that doesn’t have ingredients in it that is NOT meat and seasonings. I was so excited to find this recipe for homemade sausage! And, let me tell you, IT IS SO GOOD!!!! I’m not a huge sausage fan. I eat it, but it’s not something I crave, or anything. However, this stuff? SO GOOD! So much flavor! I had to share the recipe with you! On a side note, the one thing I will change next time is not adding as much onion to the mix. Other than that–YUM! I have linked the title to the blog I got the recipe from! I added my own notes in italics.

Make Ahead Homemade Sausage Patties:

2 lbs. ground pork, at room temperature

1.25 lbs. ground turkey, at room temperature

1/4 c pureed, or finely chopped, onion (puree in food processor)

2 tsp. finely minced fresh parsley, or dried if you don’t have fresh

2 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. ground sage

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

1 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. dried basil

1 tsp. dried oregano

2 tsp. pure maple syrup, optional (I left this out)

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, optional (I left this out)

1. Combine all the seasonings and mix until well blended.

 

IMG_4996

 

2. Add in ground meat, syrup and onion, using your hands to combine thoroughly. If cooking right away, shape into patties and cook over med-high heat on heavy skillet or griddle sprayed lightly with oil (I encourage you to lightly grease your skillet/griddle). Cook until nice and brown and no longer pink in the middle, a few minutes on each side.

 

 

IMG_4997

3. To shape patties you can either use your hands (which is what I did) or…take some meat and place between 2 layers of plastic wrap. With a  rolling pin roll out meat to desired thickness. Remove top layer of plastic wrap. Take a round cookie cutter, or top of a drinking glass, and press down to cut out nice, round sausage patties. Transfer to hot griddle, or baking sheet to be frozen. To save room in freezer, put parchment paper down, fill with patties, layer with another sheet of parchment, patties, etc. until all meat is made into patties. I was able to get 3 doz patties made.

IMG_5000

4. Oh! And make sure you have a REALLY cute assistant! This is the most important part of the whole process!

IMG_4994

Grain Free Brownies

My friend, N, made some brownies for me last week when our families and another family were all together. She knows I love chocolate and also knows I can’t have grain, and I so appreciated her doing this for me! To top it all off the brownies were DELICIOUS! So, I understand I have been eating non-grain things for over 2 years now and may not be the best judge anymore if something is good or not if it is lacking grain. However, let me tell you that my husband and my friend’s husband BOTH loved them! They are moist, fudgy and full of brownie goodness! I wanted to share the recipe with you. I have shared my zucchini brownies before, but these are much better! So, without further ado, here is the recipe. I’ve linked the title to the original blog the recipe came from!

IMG_4984

DECADENT FUDGY BROWNIES

Ingredients:

3/4 cup blanched almond flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/3 cup chocolate chips (plus extra for sprinkling on top)

1/4 cup unsweetened cacao powder

3 large eggs

3/4 cup rapadura (or coconut sugar) (I used pure maple syrup. You could also just use honey or plain ol’ sugar if you wanted!)

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Instructions

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Very lightly grease an 8×8-inch baking dish with coconut oil. In a small bowl, mix together the almond flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

2. Cut the butter into chunks. Then, place the butter chunks into a small saucepan and melt over medium heat. Add 1/3 cup of chocolate chips and the cocoa powder. Stir until the chocolate chips begin to soften. Then, remove from heat and continue stirring until the chocolate chips are completely melted and the mixture is well combined. Set aside to cool.

3. In a large bowl, add the eggs, rapadura and vanilla. Whisk together until well combined. Then, slowly whisk in the cooled chocolate-butter mixture, using a rubber spatula to get all of the chocolate mixture out of the saucepan.

4. Next, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet while whisking vigorously. Continue whisking until no lumps remain. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle 1/4 cup of chocolate chips evenly across the top of the batter. Then, use a spreader to gently press the chocolate chips into the batter and smooth out the top. (Doing this, instead of mixing the chocolate chips directly into the batter, keeps them from sinking to the bottom of the pan.)

5. Bake for approximately 26-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely in the baking dish before slicing and serving. For an extra special treat, top with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream. YUM! (Recipe inspired by The Wannabe Chef.)

One Collllllllld Birthday!

My 36th birthday was on Monday! Yes, I was born 4 years and 1 day after my parent’s anniversary! Makes it easy to remember how long they’ve been married…anyway! We didn’t have a whole lot planned, and I suppose it’s a good thing because we had to cancel what little we did have planned due to the extremely cold temperatures we experienced! Nonetheless, we managed to have a good day, and my husband and kids made me feel loved and special. I started my day by rolling over in bed to see Cora running at me, arms opened wide saying, “Happy Birthday Mommy!!!!!” And then we cuddled while David was in the shower. So. Sweet. I love this child so much. She has a heart of gold, and I love how excited she gets to celebrate birthdays even when they’re not hers. We decided to brave the cold and went out for lunch as a family. We figured it was only going to get colder, and David wanted to do something! We had a nice lunch, and in the hour we were in the restaurant the temps fell dramatically. Cora and I made brownies and hot chocolate and well, it was just a great day. I knew things wouldn’t go exactly how I had thought they would, and so I asked the Lord to help me have joy, no matter what. And, I did! I took great joy in the simple pleasure of making brownies with Cora, having lunch with David and the kids and then sharing the brownies after supper with everyone. The Lord has blessed me greatly and I want to live in such a way that others see that! Here are a few pix I took to document the day!

Makin' brownies in pink camo! Recipe to come tomorrow...

Makin’ brownies in pink camo! Recipe to come tomorrow…

The tea light candle is the only candle we could find! :)

The tea light candle is the only candle we could find! 🙂

T-R-O-U-B-L-E!

T-R-O-U-B-L-E!

IMG_4977 IMG_4978 IMG_4988

Chocolate Chip Cookies

So, it’s been over 2 years since I’ve had a chocolate chip cookie. I’m not a huge cookie person, but I do enjoy chocolate chip, probably because of the chocolate! In my attempts to find good recipes to use that I can eat (meaning no grain in them and little to no dairy) I came across this recipe. It’s from a lady, Danielle Walker, who has a blog called “Against All Grain.” I have tried a few of her recipes and they have all been really good! These cookies are no exception! I will say this: the flavor is great! You can really taste the chocolate! The texture is a bit different. They are more spongy. However, don’t let that keep you from trying out the recipe. They are worth it. And, as I’m learning with grain-free recipes, the quantity is small–you only get about 12 cookies. I suppose if you made them really small you’d get more but that wouldn’t be much fun, huh? Here’s the recipe! The title is a link to the original.

IMG_4494

Real-Deal Chocolate Chip Cookies 

1/4 cup palm shortening or grass-fed butter (I used butter)

1/4 cup coconut palm sugar (I used regular ol’ sugar)

2 Tbsp. honey

1 large egg, room temperature

2 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour

2 Tbsp coconut flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup dark chocolate pieces

1/4 cup enjoy life chocolate chips (I used 1/2 a cup of semi sweet chips)

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a food processor, cream the palm shortening, coconut sugar, honey, egg and vanilla for about 15 seconds until smooth and fluffy.

3. Add the almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda and sea salt, and mix again until combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if needed in order to incorporate all of the flour. Pulse once or twice more.

4. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand.

5. Place golf-ball sized balls of dough on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or a SilPat. (this is very important as they WILL stick otherwise! I used parchment paper.) Using another sheet of parchment on top of the dough, flatten them slightly with the palm of your hand or a spatula. The cookies don’t spread much so create the size and thickness you want prior to baking them.

6. Bake for 9-12 minutes, until slightly golden around the edges.