Fondant (that isn’t death by sugar).

20160827_135127When I asked Hamling what kind of party he wanted for his birthday this year he said he wanted an airplane party. While we were scrolling through the internet trying to pick out a cake he’d like to have he saw one that was made with fondant. I’ve never made fondant before, and I had only heard people say it was gross. Not only that, but any kind of frosting that takes as much powdered sugar as fondant gives me an unpleasant tickling feeling at the back of my throat just thinking about it. I wanted to make a fondant that was not as sweet, but still functioned fairly well. Impossible, right?

Challenge accepted.

I ended up with something that was still pretty sweet, but I was afraid to use any more starch than I already had. As far as frosting goes, this was pretty good, and it was very workable. Maybe I’ll practice my fondant smoothing skills next time I make it.


  • Servings: 1 cake
  • Difficulty: medium
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1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (agar agar if making a vegan cake)
1/8 cup cold water
1/4 cup organic corn syrup
1 Tablespoon shortening or butter
1 1/2 cups tapioca starch
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

  1. Combine gelatin and water and let sit until thick. Place it on a double boiler to melt.
  2. Add the syrup and mix well. Add shortening or butter and mix until just melted. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Cool mixture until lukewarm.
  3. Put 1 cup of starch and 1 cup of powdered sugar into a bowl. Make a well in the center and pour the liquid gelatin mixture into the well. Stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Add the remaining starch and stir.
  4. Generously dust a flat surface with powdered sugar and pour out the sticky mess in your bowl onto the sugar. Knead in the remaining powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until the fondant no longer sticks to your fingers.
  5. Roll out between two sheets of plastic wrap, brushing the top of the fondant with oil to prevent sticking.
  6. Apply to cake.


  • If you want colored fondant and you’re using liquid coloring, add the color of your choice to the liquid before you mix it into the starch/sugar.
  • If your cake is going to be sitting out for a little bit, brush the entire surface with oil to keep the fondant from drying out and cracking.
  • This will store for up to a month in the fridge. If you find it’s dry when you take it out to use it, knead in some more oil.

Dairy Free Creamy Pesto Dressing.


First, congratulations to Bianca who won the Lilla Rose giveaway! Super excited for you!


How do you take a flattering picture of salad dressing??

Ok, that being said, I love The Old Spaghetti Factory. My favorite dish to get is the potpourri which is a mix of red sauce, clam sauce, and mizithra cheese with browned butter. I can’t have it right now because I’m avoiding dairy, but I can dream about it.

Anyway, they have a really tasty house-made “ranch” called the creamy pesto. Again, I can’t have it because it has milk in it, but I found a recipe online for duplicating it and decided to try making it dairy free. It was a success! This dressing is really, really delicious. You can use any dairy free milk of your choice (though I would suggest avoiding soy milk, particularly if you have trouble with your thyroid) and it turns out great!

Dairy Free Creamy Pesto

  • Servings: 2 1/2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 cup prepared mayonnaise
1 cup dairy free milk
3 Tablespoons potato starch
1 1/2 Tablespoons dried basil
1 Tablespoon rice vinegar (or other mild vinegar)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

  1. Combine everything, whisking well to fully incorporate mayonnaise.
  2. Refrigerate for 1 hour to allow flavors to combine.


  • To make this nightshade free use arrowroot starch.
  • If making the mayonnaise in the link, use raw apple cider vinegar instead of whey for a completely dairy free mayonnaise.
  • You can make this vegan by using vegan mayonnaise

What is your favorite salad dressing recipe?

Paleo Carrot Cake.

084The first thing you need for this recipe is homemade almond milk. Specifically the almond meal left from making the milk. To make the almond milk, soak 2 cups of almonds overnight. Strain and rinse the almonds then put them into a blender, one cup at a time with 2 cups of warm water. Blend for at least 1 minute. Strain through a muslin cloth. Dry the pulp for 12 hours in a warm oven. Once dry, run the pulp through a food processor until it is the consistency of flour. This should give you enough to make the cake.

When you use the leftover almond meal form making almond milk you get the bonus of having soaked almond flour. This will give you a better flavor and more nutrients.

This cake is worth the extra effort, but you could also use regular almond meal or flour.

There are no eggs in this, so if you switch the sweetener it would be vegan.

Paleo Carrot Cake

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: medium
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1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup shredded coconut
3 flax eggs
1/4 cup coconut butter
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 325° F. Oil an 8×8 cake pan.
  2. Combine the ingredients for the flax eggs and allow to sit.
  3. Combine dry ingredients.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the flax eggs and combine well.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Fold in the carrots.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool in the pan.

You can top this with a slice of Kerrygold butter and some honey for an extra amazing treat!

GF Flour Tortillas.

IMG_0853Hubby loves Mexican food. When we were planning our wedding he wanted to have a burrito bar for food. I was worried about getting sauce on my dress, so we opted to do a burrito bar for the rehearsal dinner. My super awesome friend made the burrito bar amazing, and my sister-in-law might have as well. Things are kind of fuzzy that far back. I do remember that they both made the wedding food amazing, but I can’t remember the rehearsal dinner.

Anyway, I make tortillas. A lot. I do corn mostly, because they’re easier and they’re naturally gluten free, but I had wondered for a while if I could make flour tortillas. As with anything gluten free, it has its challenges. Here are some tips for gluten free flour tortilla making:

Use a cast iron skillet (or comal). I was using a T-fal griddle pan for a while, but the cast iron does much, much better.

Do grease the skillet. If you have a seasoned skillet it’s not as important, but it helps a lot. I recommend lard for this. Only use enough to get a thin layer and re-coat every 2 or 3 tortillas. If you’re vegan, palm shortening would be a good substitute.

Use lard. I have used palm shortening before and, while it works, it just isn’t as good. If you’re vegan, palm shortening is a great option. If not, invest in some lard, you won’t regret it.

Warm water. Most flour tortilla recipes call for cold water. While cold water works, it adds more prep time because you have to cut the fat in really well before you add the water. Using warm water melts the fat a little, helping it distribute evenly through the dough which makes the cooked tortilla better.

Medium heat, short cook time. If you want flexible tortillas don’t cook them for longer than 1 minute and 30 seconds. If you overcook them, they’ll break when bent.

Do not skip the xanthan gum. Seriously. Do. Not. I was out once and I thought I’d just sub in some almond flour for the rice flour because almond flour is good for texture in gluten free stuff like pizza crust. Wrong. My tortillas just broke apart. The xanthan gum is for texture and structure, it is not optional.

Use a tortilla press. Press your dough first and then roll it out with a rolling pin. This way you get a more even looking tortilla.

Cover the cooked tortillas. They will dry out quickly otherwise.

Flour Tortillas (GF)

  • Servings: 4 (2 tortillas per person)
  • Difficulty: medium
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1 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
Generous 1/2 cup tapioca starch
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lard
3/4 cup warm water

  1. Combine dry ingredients. Add lard and work into the flour a little. Add in the warm water and stir with a wooden spoon.
  2. Once the dough begins to come together a little start squeezing it together with your hands. Do this until the dough feels like play-doh and mostly holds together. It’s ok if a chunk falls off every now and then, the important part is that it holds it’s shape when squeezed. This should take about 5 minutes.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for 20 minutes.
  4. Preheat the skillet.
  5. Pinch off about 2 tablespoons of dough, roll into a ball and squish in a tortilla press between two pieces of plastic wrap. Move it to the counter and roll it thin while it’s still in the plastic wrap.
  6. Grease the skillet.
  7. Peel the top piece of plastic wrap off and lay it back on the tortilla press for the next tortilla. Flip the rolled dough onto your hand and gently peel the second piece off, draping on the top part of the tortilla press to be used for the next tortilla.
  8. Cook the tortilla for 1 minute, flip and cook for 30 seconds more. Remove and place on a plate, covering it with a towel.
  9. Repeat until finished.
  10. Enjoy.

Why did the Chicken Cross the Road?

Lately I’ve had money on my mind, specifically our grocery budget. It seems like I’m spending a lot more than usual while buying the same amount of food. I haven’t changed the items I’m buying (no different brands or anything) and it doesn’t seem like we have more food than usual every week. I can’t figure out what’s going on. It could be a general increase in the price of food that I haven’t noticed, but I’m not sure that that would account for the amount my spending has increased.

Anyway, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking of ways to stretch our meat, specifically chicken as it’s the cheapest meat I buy. I’ve got it so that one chicken gives us 3 meals minimum in addition to broth.

I used to roast whole chickens and then use the leftover meat for salads or stir fries. That’s much less economical than butchering the chicken and using the parts separately. This is how I do it:

I cut the breasts out and use them for a crock pot meal like Santa Fe Chicken. This gives me three meals out of just the breasts in comparison to one if I just bake them and serve with veggies. I can then cut the thighs off with the drumsticks and make Filipino Chicken (which I will share a recipe for soon) for two meals, or make a different crock pot meal. This week I’m trying out a new recipe for chicken curry I found in a magazine. That should give me at least two more meals. You can then roast what’s left for crispy wings which make a good lunch served with a salad or rice or what-have-you.

That’s a total of 6 meals from one chicken, 7 if you get one with giblets because you can make a liver and onions dish for lunch (if you can stomach it). That doesn’t even include all of the meals you can make with the broth from the bones.

So that’s my chicken routine. I had to get really comfortable with cutting raw chicken. I used to hate it, but I made myself be okay with it on account of the money I was saving. My city-girl discomfort is not worth breaking the grocery budget.

Here is a helpful video:

How do you stretch your groceries?

Day Late and a Dollar Short.

The last two days have been packed with things and I didn’t realize I hadn’t written until my head hit the pillow last night. If it had been earlier than 11 I might have gotten back up to post, but I figured I’d just write in the morning instead.

One day I’ll get organized. Maybe.

Anyway, I wanted to share my favorite crock pot meal. I found the original recipe on a website called “skinny” something, or at least it had some iteration of “low fat” in the name. I’m not a fan of low fat stuff, but the recipe seemed decent. So I changed it around a bit and came up with something super delicious (with plenty of good fat).


I need a new camera…

This makes enough for our family of 3.5 (one of us isn’t eating food yet) to eat at least 4 meals. I haven’t tried freezing it yet because it’s so good I actually look forward to eating it for lunch or a second dinner.

Tip to make this even easier:
If you’re cooking something that calls for a partial onion, dice the remaining onion and store in a tupperware in your fridge while you’re cooking. This way you can just dump the onion into the pot when you’re ready to start the crock pot.

Santa Fe Chicken

  • Servings: 8-12
  • Difficulty: easy
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2 chicken breasts
1 medium onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper (any color), diced
28 oz diced tomatoes
16 oz black beans (drained)
4 oz diced green chilies
1.5 cups bone broth
1 cup frozen corn
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1.5 teaspoons cumin
dash cayenne
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (for garnish)
1-2 avocadoes

  1. Combine everything but the cilantro and avocado in your crock pot. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-6.
  2. 30 minutes before serving, shred the chicken.
  3. Serve over white rice.

Two Pot Beef Shepherd’s Pie!

IMG_0915Shepherd’s pie is a staple at our house. It’s hearty, it’s easy to cook, and it’s delicious, so I make it often. Not to mention the amount of leftovers we get out of it. This dish is a great way to stretch that expensive grass-fed ground beef.

I also take this to friends who are in need of a meal. I’ll pick up one of those disposable barbecue pans and bake it in there. If you’re going to do that, just cook everything in a large pan and transfer to the disposable pan for baking before adding the frozen veggies.

Beef Shepherd's Pie

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
1 lb grass-fed ground beef
4-6 medium carrots, diced
1/2 large red onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup green beans
1/2 cup broth

6 large potatoes
1/2 – 1 cup broth
1/4 – 1/2 cup butter
salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a 3 qt cast iron dutch oven melt your cooking fat over medium heat. When it starts to shimmer add the onions. Cook until the onions are slightly translucent and add the carrots. Cook for 1 minute before adding the beef. Cook until all of the beef is brown, about 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in a large pot. Cut the potatoes (and peel them if you like). When the water is at a rolling boil add the potatoes, reduce heat to medium-high and set a timer for 20 minutes.
  3. Right after adding the potatoes pour broth into the dutch oven with the meat. Add the garlic and fresh green beans (if using frozen green beans, do not add them now). Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer while the potatoes boil.
  4. Preheat the oven to 420°F when your timer is at 10 minutes.
  5. When the timer goes off strain the potatoes. Let them cool for a second in the strainer while you add your frozen veggies to the dutch oven.
  6. Return the potatoes to the pot with butter and broth starting with the lowest measurement. Mash, adding butter or broth as needed for a creamy, spreadable consistency. If you need this to bee 100% dairy free you can use lard or olive oil instead.
  7. Spread the potatoes over the shepherd’s pie mixture in the dutch oven. Start at the edges and work in.
  8. Pop the dutch oven in the oven once it’s preheated and bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes, or until the peaks of the potatoes start to brown.
  9. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving.

If you’re avoiding nightshades you can try mashed cauliflower, parsnip or sweet potato instead of regular potatoes.

Breakfast Treat.

I was always intimidated by crepes. I thought they would be really finicky, or otherwise difficult to make. It turns out I was wrong, they’re actually not that difficult.

I was also intimidated by the thought of cooking crepes in a cast iron skillet. Again, I was wrong: the crepes didn’t stick at all. I did use a little bit of coconut oil, but not every time, just after every two or three crepes.IMG_0871

I have to say, I waited too long to try making crepes. They are so good! I’m really glad I found this recipe in the Natural Grocers paper they give out at the checkout. I did modify it because I’m not a fan of protein powder.

I know this is said a lot, but just in case you’re not sure: buckwheat is gluten free.

Buckwheat Blueberry Crepes

  • Servings: 6 (12 crepes)
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

1 cup buckwheat flour
1 tablespoon sucanat
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (or other dairy free milk)
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup melted coconut oil, plus additional for skillet

  1. Combine dry ingredients.
  2. Combine wet ingredients.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
  4. Warm a small amount of oil in a 10″ cast iron skillet on medium-low heat. Add about 1/3 cup of crepe batter, tilting skillet so that the bottom is evenly coated. Cook until the crepe releases from the pan, about 1 minute. Flip and cook an additional 30 seconds.
  5. Place the crepe onto a plate while making another.
  6. Fill the crepes with desired fillings.

Blueberry “Sauce”
Enough to fill and top 3 crepes

1 small bag frozen blueberries

  1. Place frozen blueberries in a small pan and heat on medium heat until the liquid begins to bubble. Turn heat to low and let sit while cooking crepes.

Custard Filling
Makes enough to fill 12 crepes

3 egg yolks
3 cups non dairy milk of choice (or a mix of two milks)
1/4 cup sucanat
1/3 cup nonGMO cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp vanilla

  1. Place a glass storage container into a bath of ice water. Do not submerge, the idea is to have the glass be cold when the custard is poured in.
  2. Mix egg yolks and milk.
  3. Mix sugar, starch and salt in a medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in the milk mixture to make a smooth paste, then mix in the remaining milk mixture.
  4. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and comes to a boil, 20-25 minutes. Boil and stir for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  5. Pour into the glass storage container, stirring occasionally. Stir in vanilla. Put the lid onto the container and place in the fridge and chill for at least 1 hour.

Note: I make the custard the night before to make things a bit easier.

Super Awesome Secret #1!


You should know something: nut butters are amazingly easy to make.

All you need is a food processor and some nuts. You can get fancy by adding sweeteners or different kinds of oil, but most nuts turn into nut butter of their own accord when they’ve been ground finely enough. This goes for coconut as well.

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the jars of coconut butter, or coconut cream you can buy in the store, but they’re pretty pricey most of the time. It’s much more economical to buy unsweetened shredded coconut and process it yourself. One pound will get you about a pint of coconut butter.

Here’s what you do:
Pour the shredded coconut into a food processor. Process until smooth.


You’re welcome.

Chocolate Mousse.

IMG_0858I used to hate avocados. There. I said it. I feel like avocados are a strange food to dislike. Then again, my aunt doesn’t like chocolate, so I guess I’m not the only weirdo. Anyway, I don’t know what happened exactly, but after I had Hamling I loved avocados (and onions for some reason). I finally understood how my parents could just eat them with a spoon.

Now, after Hamlette, I cannot have enough avocado in my life. If there is something that has avocado in it or on it, I am far more likely to eat it than anything else put in front of me.

I also can’t get enough chocolate. Chocolate is the most amazing thing, it makes me happy to eat. Particularly truffles. AlterEco makes the best dark chocolate truffles I have ever had (from a store).

So here’s a recipe that is pretty much the best. But wait, avocados and chocolate? How could that possibly be good?

Oh, trust me, it is so good!IMG_0859

This also makes an excellent frosting or cake filling. This is the best paleo, vegan chocolate frosting you will ever make. On top of that, you pretty much can’t mess it up. It’s too easy to mess up. Which is great news for me because I fail at frosting on a regular basis.

Paleo, Vegan Chocolate Mousse

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy peasy
  • Print
2 ripe avocados
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Place avocados, cocoa powder, maple syrup and vanilla in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth.
  2. Taste. If it isn’t sweet enough, add more syrup, or a spoonful of honey.

Store for up to 3 days in the fridge. If you make this ahead the vanilla will bloom as it sits in the fridge and it will be extra delicious.