I’ve Been Thinking.

This week was super busy, and I was not the best at managing my time. I spent a lot of the time I was driving around thinking about what to do with this blog. I didn’t realize it was Friday until I was thinking (on Friday) about what I would write about this week. Then I thought, “oh, today is Friday. Oops.” I had a party to get ready for, so by the time I figured out I needed to post I had a bunch of food prep to do, so I couldn’t get around to it.

Anyway, I really enjoy writing this blog and sharing recipes with you all, so I’m going to continue doing that. I had an idea for new content, though, and I’d like your input on whether or not it’s something you’d like to see: I was thinking of doing something similar to “Pintertests” where I test out recipes I find various places. I think it will be a lot of fun, but I’d also like for you guys to share recipes you’ve been meaning to try, or would like to see someone else try before you buy ingredients to make it. I would include a link to the original recipe, any modifications I made and an honest review.

My plan is to add this to the original Friday post, so the test runs would publish on another day of the week, maybe Wednesday.

Is this something you’d be interested in?

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Millions of Peaches…

Millions of peaches, peaches for me
Millions of peaches, peaches for free

Look out!
-The Presidents of the United States of America

My parents brought a huge box of Palisade peaches with them when they visited for Hamling’s birthday. Last year I just split a box because I didn’t think we could go through a full box ourselves. Well, I was surprised when I went to finally make a cobbler and there were only 3 peaches left: we had eaten them all! So this year I decided to get a full box and freeze some for later use.

20160830_135930There are several ways to freeze peaches. You can freeze them in water, juice, syrup or dry. I opted for dry packing because I wanted to be able to use them in smoothies (if I ever actually made a smoothie). I packed them in two different ways: I put the peach slices straight into the bag and froze them, and I put the slices on a sheet, froze them and then placed them in a bag. Either way works, but I like the second method because the peaches stay fairly separated in the bag so you can take out two or three slices if that’s all you want.

Here’s how to freeze peaches using the dry pack method:

  1. Juice a lemon into 1 cup of water.
  2. Slice peaches, dropping the slices into the lemon water.
  3. Remove the peach slices from the lemon water and place in a small freezer bag (for portioning convenience) or onto a tray that will fit into your freezer.
  4. If using the tray, freeze until the slices are completely frozen -about 2 hours- then remove from the freezer, run some hot water over the bottom of the dish the slices were on to loosen them and scrape them off. Put the frozen slices into a small freezer bag.
  5. To remove the air from the bags follow the directions in the video below.

I didn’t peel my peaches because I’m lazy, and I don’t mind peach skin. If you’d rather peel them, just add a step before slicing.

Happy freezing!

Gluten Free Peach Cobbler.

20160911_201718It’s peach season (sort of, it’s kind of the end of the season now) so we’ve got a lot of peaches. That means a lot of peach cobbler (and lots of frozen peaches). I’ve been experimenting with different recipes to get the perfect peach cobbler and I think I’ve done it. It’s perfectly bread-y, and just the right amount of sweet. This is one of those recipes that, if you didn’t say anything, no one would know it was gluten free. It’s also easy to make this vegan and, though I can’t personally vouch for this, I bet it’s equally delicious because coconut oil is amazing.

The first cobbler I made didn’t have enough cobbler base. It called for a 3 qt (I think) dish, so I looked on the bottom of my 9×13 pyrex and confirmed it was the proper size. I think what the recipe actually wanted me to use was something smaller with a higher lip. Anyway, what I ended up with was a cobbler that was good. It was reminiscent of the “graham” crackers I make sometimes in flavor, but it was just too thin.

20160911_201612The second cobbler was all oat flour and it was the perfect thickness in the 9×13 pan, but it called for a whopping 4 teaspoons of baking powder. When I was mixing everything together I thought, wow that is A LOT of baking powder! But gluten free cooking can be weird sometimes so i figured I’d just follow the recipe and see how it turned out. Well, it definitely had too much baking powder. You could taste the baking powder. Not good.

So the third (and fourth) cobbler(s) I made were a mix of the two recipes. This recipe is a winner. I took two photos of it, but I couldn’t pick which I liked best so I included both of them because I think they both show the texture of the cobbler accurately.

Gluten Free Peach Cobbler

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
1 stick of unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
3/4 cup sucanat
1 cup flour blend
1 cup oat flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk (any kind, I used almond milk)
6 cups peaches

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°.
  2. Slice the peaches into a bowl. Peeling is optional.
  3. Mix batter together and pour into a greased 9×13 baking dish and spread to the edges using a spatula. The batter will start rising right after it’s mixed, this is normal, don’t worry!
  4. Pour in peaches, making sure they cover the entire surface of the batter and bake for 35-40 minutes until the cobbler is light brown.
  5. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
  6. Serve with heavy cream, ice cream, dairy free ice cream, or dairy free milk.

Salad Anatomy 101.

20160831_195731 I know it’s sort of late in the season to be writing about salads, but we’ve been eating a ton of them lately in an effort to be budget friendly. So I thought I’d share some tips for making a salad worth being a main course.

Mix greens.
I buy a head each of organic red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce, and romaine. I take them home, rinse them off, chop them up, and mix them well in a large bowl. This usually lasts me for a week and a half or more, depending on hubby’s work schedule. But, how do you keep your lettuce from browning? you ask. Storing chopped lettuce in a mason jar with a standard canning lid set (not a plastic lid) and a paper towel on the bottom really works. The lettuce will stay fresh for as long as 2 weeks.

I don’t recommend adding spinach greens to your salad raw because of their high oxalate content which prevents absorption of calcium. Beet greens are a bit problematic as well. If you have a yard that you don’t treat with chemicals, you can grab some dandelion greens for your salad. I wouldn’t recommend buying them: they cost almost $3 for a small bunch where I am, and that seems like a ridiculous price to pay for something that grows everywhere. Just be sure to pick leaves from plants that haven’t bolted yet (started growing a flower) so you’re greens aren’t overly bitter.

20160903_124044Multiple sources of protein.
I try to have meat of some form on my salads if I’m making one for dinner. I’ll put less meat or no meat at all on lunchtime salads because I usually want a lighter meal for lunch.
Other than meat I like to add different kinds of sprouted beans. You can use whatever kind of beans you like; they don’t necessarily need to be sprouted. I sprout mine for better nutrient absorption, and I like the way they taste, but it’s totally optional. A bonus with using cooked and cooled beans is that you get some resistant starch with your salad, which helps your digestion.
Soaked and dried nuts are also a great addition to salads because they add a delightful crunch.

Something raw other than the greens.
Think sliced tomatoes, shredded carrots, avocados, etc. If you’re struggling with thyroid issues, avoid eating raw cruciferous veggies.

Fermented veggies or pickled veggies.
I like to top my salads with some purple cabbage cortido, because it’s delicious (even though I hate sauerkraut) and crunchy. It also adds a delightful tang to your salad. If I don’t have any on hand I like to chop up some pickles, pickled okra is good as well, or artichoke hearts. Olives are also delicious.

Sprouted seeds.
I love putting sprouted and dried sunflower seeds on top of my salad. This is something I picked up from my awesome mother-in-law. She makes incredible salads.

Dressing.
I find that sometimes I don’t even need dressing if I’ve put enough stuff on the salad, but my go-to dressing recipe is below (this is a good dressing if you’re fighting a candida overgrowth):

Lemon Salad Dressing

  • Servings: 2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup filtered water
1 cup olive oil
1 tsp ground mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

  1. Combine all ingredients in a jar. Shake well. Serve.

Really, the possibilities are endless. These are just some suggestions based on things that I have found to take a salad from good to great.

What do you usually put on your salads?

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.

Fondant

  • Servings: 1 cake
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print
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.

Notes:

  • 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!

20160824_175740

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
  • Print
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.

Notes:

  • 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?

Lilla Rose Giveaway!

I’ve been trying for a really long time to grow my hair out. I could never get it to grow longer than my shoulder blades, no matter how long I went before cutting it. Eventually I resigned myself to that length of hair and went on with my life.

Well, now my hair is down to the middle of my back! I don’t know if it’s because of my diet change, or maybe I’ve just always had latent thyroid issues and when I resolved them my hair started to grow longer. Maybe it was being pregnant a second time. Whatever the reason, I am pretty stoked!

Except I’m realizing that I have no idea how to style longer hair, or take care of really long curly hair. It’s definitely an adventure. Part of my problem is that I’m lazy: the reason I don’t wear makeup every day is it’s too much effort. I’d rather not spend a bunch of time every day in front of a mirror, so styles that require tons of bobby pins or a curling iron are a no-go.

Cue Lilla Rose.

I had heard of Lilla Rose from a good friend of mine when she hosted a party with Katrina. I didn’t pay attention then, because I didn’t think I needed any new hair stuff. It turns out I was wrong, but I wouldn’t figure that out for another two years (I think, I’m bad at keeping track of time) when the bee flexi popped up in my Facebook news feed:

I fell in love with it (because, dangly things!) so I ordered one from Katrina. Now I’m wondering why it took me so long! The style in the picture took me less than 5 minutes and it held all day long. These clips are really pretty and super comfortable, which is a plus because now that my hair is longer my bun claw isn’t so nice to my head.

I got really excited and when I get really excited about things that make my life easier I want to share them with everyone (hence this blog). So, to share this awesome thing with you Katrina has made a giveaway! This giveaway is only open to ladies who haven’t worked with another stylist before (we don’t want to poach anyone’s clients!) and it’s sponsored by the awesome Independent Stylist Katrina Burbank! As an added bonus, there is a sale happening until Saturday night on select Lilla Rose hair candies so you can save some money while you get your goodies!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Experiments Brought to you by the Interwebs. Part I.

This week I’m visiting my parents in the Grand Valley, so I’m writing a different sort of post.

I tried a couple of things this week, one of which is a life hack, the other a recipe. The recipe is for a homemade stain remover. I’ve been using it for more than a week now, actually, more like two months or so. I have to say, I’m super impressed. I found this recipe on Mommypotamus‘ blog.

This stain remover takes out baby poop, ya’ll. Just spray and wash, no scrubbing necessary. If you have a set stain (a onesie that has been previously washed but still has that orange-yellow spot on it) just keep spraying and washing and eventually the set stain will fade – about 3 or 4 more washes. We had a paper diaper breach the other day and I happened to be doing laundry anyway, so I just sprayed the poop spot and tossed the onesie into the machine. It came completely out!

20160811_213942Unfortunately I don’t have a before and after picture for you, but I do have a picture of my skirt. You can see the lighter spots on it. Those are where I sprayed the stain remover. My skirt was so dirty that I’ve been having to spray a little more each time I wash it to get all the residual dirt off of it. I would never have noticed except I got oil on the skirt so I sprayed the oil spots. This stain remover took out the oil spots and the residual dirt. At first I thought that the color of the skirt had been slightly bleached, but I compared the lighter section to the yoke of the skirt and they were the same color; my skirt was just that dirty.

I have been putting this stain remover all over our clothes and I have not had any problems with colorfastness, but do always test. Just in case.

The second thing I tried this week was ripening avocados in the oven. I had read that if you need to ripen avocados quickly you can do so by wrapping them in tin foil and popping them in a 200° oven for about 10 minutes.

This does not work.

The avocados stayed in the oven for at least 20 minutes and they are still rock hard. Three days later. I’m a bit bummed with this one; I was really hoping it would work. I guess I’ll have to stick with the old paper bag and bananas trick…

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
  • Print
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
  • Print
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.