Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving meal ideas

Check out for Thanksgiving ideas. Sometime I'm going to try out their pumpkin-coconut pie, or make my own variation. Sounds good to me!

For my Thanksgiving meal, I plan to make it nice and basic- Turkey, just rubbed with spices from home and baked. The gravy for the turkey I will make with dairy for those of us who can have, because my girls just haven't been interested in gravy anyway, even when I make it so they can have it. They'd rather just have season-all, or soy sauce or barbecue or ketchup. : ) In addition to turkey, I'll fix mashed potatoes, with either oil and salt added or maybe a bit of coconut cream. Green beans. A baked sweet potato for the girls(baked in the microwave - I like simple baked sweet potatoes much better than sweet potatoes with marshmallows and brown sugar). I'm doing an experiment to see if it's worth having stuffing this year- my husband and daughters aren't stuffing fans anyway, just me). I have crumbs from a gluten-free bread I made and didn't like very well, and I'm soaking just a few crumbs in some seasoned meat juice from cooking chicken thighs. I'll try a couple bites and see how flavors mesh. I have a chocolate coconut pie recipe on this blog, which I'll make again this year. I might try making some oat-rice rolls from my favorite yeast bread recipe. I think I'll either have fresh apple slices or a simple juice mixed from concentrate. Wouldn't cranberry-raspberry go well with the meal? So that's my Thanksgiving meal! And maybe one pumpkin-coconut pie as well. I really like simplicity. Especially so I can enjoy more time with my family. And have less stress so I can feel more grateful for my family and my other blessings!

Now I'm reading through the list, and it doesn't sound so simple if I do all of it! : ) Hmmm...
I know there are a lot of things I can do ahead of time. And I really don't need to mess with the stuffing, or the rolls, or the pumpkin pie if I don't think it's worth the stress and time away from my family...(my husband and kids aren't pumpkin pie fans anyway, and chocolate really can suit everyone just fine- the pumpkin pie is more for me if I make it). And who says you need stuffing and rolls in a meal where you already have potatoes and sweet potatoes? Talk about duplication of complex carbs! : ) I do want the meal to be special in some way, though.

Homemade Popsicles

We enjoy having homemade popsicles stocked in our freezer. I don't care to buy popsicles from the store. At home, I can decide what goes in. When I have bought even popsicles that were whole fruit and all natural at the store, there was still more sugar than I care for. Besides, it can be much more cost effective to make popsicles at home, and more convenient if you've found a way of keeping your own freezer and pantry stocked with produce and food you payed a good price for. OK, even if you didn't get a sale price for your fruit, you still will probably come ahead over the cost of purchased whole fruit popsicles. (The water, sugar, food coloring ones of course are cheaper).

We enjoy popsicles made from fruit. Keeping popsicles in stock has been quite convenient- if we make smoothies often, I just fill up the popsicle molds with leftovers. Sometimes I may only have two popsicles worth, but that's okay, next smoothie I may have a couple more popsicles-worth. Then we get to choose between two or three flavors when we get out the popsicles.

Popsicle ideas:

-smoothie leftovers
-make smoothie solely for purpose of making popsicles
(I make it a little stronger than I would for a smoothie-more fruit or juice conc to water)
-mix juice from concentrate, and have it a bit stronger than you would for drinking
-freeze homemade pudding(we make coconut pudding)

Creating smoothies

Smoothies are something very adaptable to your own ideas and whatever you have on hand. I don't follow recipes when I make a smoothie, I just look at what I have in my freezer, think of what type of smoothie might go well with the meal(or what smoothie sounds good if it's a snack), and throw things together. I like to ask my 4 yr old if she'd like to help. She enjoys thinking of what to put in. I have listened to her ideas, and helped her with amounts, and she's made a couple of really good smoothies! Yes, one time there was something that I didn't think would go and I mentioned this to her, and she was fine with that. It's fun to see she likes to create in the kitchen.

Here is a smoothie she helped make that I really, really liked. Amounts are estimated.

Apple raspberry juice concentrate(1/2 cup)
water(add to desired consistency and taste)* maybe try 1/2 cup
Peaches, frozen(3/4 cup)
Blueberries, frozen(1/2 cup)
Pineapple(1/2 cup fresh)
You could add pineapple juice if you don't have fresh pineapple
sugar(1/8-1/4 cup)

When I make smoothies, I blend proportions together that look good, then look at consistency and taste test the smoothie. I then know whether to add more water, or more of a certain fruit, etc.

If you make a large batch of smoothie, you may get to freeze leftovers into popsicle molds. Sometimes we have just enough for two or three popsicles, but if we've been enjoying smoothies often, we have two or three kinds of popsicles to choose from when we get out our popsicle mold.

March 29, 2016

About equal amounts nectarine puree and * strawberries, (2 cups each?), 1 cup coconut dream beverage, maybe 1/2 cup pineapple juice, and raspberry jam- maybe 2 T. **

*from freezer with orange juice concentrate(and sugar I think) added, partially thawed in microwave for blending

**Rather than adding strawberries and raspberry jam separate, I actually used strawberry sauce I made for pancakes and had leftover. When making the sauce I had blended 4 cups frozen strawberries, 1 cup water, and added about 1/4 cup raspberry jam to add some flavor. Then maybe 1/4 cup more sugar? Dont' remember. I probably used about half of that portion in the smoothie. Use leftover pinapple juice from last opened can. We really like this one! One of our favorites. And my daughter that doesn't like strawberries or raspberries really enjoyed it.  I love utilizing successfully leftover food to make something we really like!

April 1, 2016

Another smoothie we really liked! Another favorite.

1 cup coconut dream beverage, nectarine puree.* strawberries from freezer, mango slices from freezer. 1/4 cup sugar.

*Froze with added orange juice concentrate to prevent from browning, and added sugar to taste. I prepared the strawberries from fresh, ripe- sliced and froze. I think 2 snack baggies, not full, maybe 2/3 cup. Mangos fresh, ripe, froze what didn't want to eat then in snack baggy. About 3/4 of snack baggy- about 1/3 cup? Nectarine puree, maybe 2 cups.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Oat Tortillas that roll well!

I had posted a couple years ago a recipe for oat tortillas. I like the flavor and simplicity of them. However, at the time, I couldn't get them to be flexible enough to roll very well, if it at all. I searched for other tortilla recipes. When I began baking with millet, I came upon a blog which gave instructions for making millet or sorghum tortillas. There are pictures of each step, and- best of all- a tip is given that warm water is important in having pliable, easy to work with dough! See the post "Millet- another great gluten free option" under the "Whole Grains" label.

The recipe I had used for oat tortillas called for cold water. When I decided to use warm water in the oat tortilla recipe, it made a big difference! It's exciting now for me to be practicing making these tortillas. I'm getting good, pliable tortillas that can be rolled up! It's so neat that all I need is oat flour, warm water, and salt! Check out my post "Oat Tortillas." One more trick is to make sure the dough balls are moist enough. To be moist enough, you may think you have too much water at first, until dough is thoroughly kneaded. Then it is a nice consistency, and not overly sticky. Covering the balls with a moist towel as they wait to be rolled and cooked.

My girls like these with non-dairy spread and honey. I enjoy them this way also, and I use them for tacos or wraps.

Lentil-Rice soup and homemade broths

This lentil soup is savory! My 4 yr. old exclaimed, "I love the broth!" She ate all of the soup really well- lentils, rice, carrots, and broth. My 3 yr old took out the celery : ) but ate the rest.

Like I mentioned in my "Many Beans Soup," I don't use recipes when I cook bean soup, so something may be different each time. Even the broth base I use depends on what I have on hand and if there's something I want to use up in the fridge or freezer.

Here's a diversion from the lentil soup about homemade broths:

I often save liquid from meats and from steaming vegetables. If I think I have a use for it in the next couple days, I keep it in the fridge. Sometimes I just freeze it. These liquids can be frozen in freezer containers or in ice cube trays and then freezer bags. Sometimes I end up dumping it out- if it's been in the fridge and I haven't used it. It's nice, to me, though, to use vegetable water whenever possible, because there are good water-soluable vitamins in the liquid that I don't want to miss out on.

As far as vegetable water goes, you can use it instead of regular water whenever you need to cook something with water. Potato water is especially helpful in making non-dairy gravy or sauces- it has more flavor dimension than regular water. You can make a good meat stock or vegetable stock that's flavorful for soups, sauces, or gravies. Basically you just boil a meat bone, with some meat left on it, with various herbs/seasonings, for several hours. The vegetable stock I remember you can brown the vegetables for more flavor, then I think you boil them in water. You can look up recipes for stock if you're interested. Right now I like conveniently keeping the meat juices and vegetable water that I have just from my everyday cooking, and using them.

Now to the savory Lentil-Rice soup:

Broth- this time I used hamburger broth from the fridge- about 1 cup, and also about 1/4 cup chicken broth. I add these liquids in a measuring cup, then added water up to the 4 cup line.

I had recently cooked big batches of hamburger meat to put in the freezer. I had seasoned the hamburger with salt, onion, garlic, and pepper. I poured off the juices and fats into a glass jar. When cooled a bit, I set it in the fridge. When all the way cooled, the juices and fats separated. When I wanted broth for my soup, I just scraped off the fat and threw that away. I had about 1 cup of flavorful liquid left. The chicken broth was simply juice poured off from cooking chicken thighs or drumsticks with season-all. The fat had separated from the liquid so I could scrape off the fat and discard. I think I left just a bit of fat- I didn't scrape it off thoroughly- for a bit of flavor.

salt- about 1 tsp.
lentils- about 1/2 cup.
celery, chopped
bay leaves- 2 medium
pepper to taste

Simmer until tender. Then add rice that has already been cooked.

Many Beans Soup

I don't follow recipes for making bean soup, I may do something differently each time. I wanted to record the particular method and ingredients I used a particular time, because the soup extra good and simple to make. The first night I served it, my 4 yr. old daughter ate almost the amount I as an adult would eat! The girls continued to eat it 3 more times during the week. Pretty good for beans, I think! It's great when they eat healthy foods well!

Variety of beans- ie baby lima, black, kidney, pinto, great northern, lima.
-Quicksoak, or soak overnight, according to package directions.
Cook in crockpot or stove-
-beans, and water according to package directions
-broth(mine was from the freezer some chicken drumstick broth and previous bean soup broth)
-bacon, snipped and browned
-salt to taste
-garlic and onion to taste. For me, I added some light shakes of garlic and onion powder at the end of cooking. The girls would notice if I added chopped or minced onion, and I don't have garlic cloves on hand.

I like to serve oat/rice/flax bread("Really Good Yeastbread" post) with this meal. Then something crunchy like carrot sticks or apple slices.

Bean soup is a really versatile thing. Choose a meat if desired, to help flavor- like a ham hock or bacon or even hamburger. I hear if you brown your meat first, you get more flavor (I wouldn't brown the ham hock or any bone). You can add vegetables such as carrots and celery and onions if your kids like them. You could add boullion but don't need to if you have enough flavor from other things. The beans boiling with a ham bone get flavorful- see recipes for this- I've only done it on the stove, I think the flavor would come out more than in a crockpot.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies, a great variation

From my previous Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies post, here's another variation. My daughters and I love this one. These cookies turned out to be my favorite chocolate chip cookies I've made for the girls. I'm not sure on the exact amounts I added, but here are the concepts and estimations:

-instead of banana, use flaxseed meal/water. I think I used about 1 1/2 T. flaxseed meal and 1/3 cup warm water. Whisk the flax and water together and let sit 5-10 min. to "gel."
-add corn syrup- I used about 2 T.
-add xanthan gum- 1/4 tsp(I think I'll try this variation without next time to see what happens)
-add shredded coconut if desired. I think our cookies had about 1/3 cup. My 3 yr. old actually just put some in without measuring : )
-let cookies cool about 5-10 min. until they feel firm enough to move to rack.

When I made these cookies this time, first I just followed the previous post recipe, except I used my all-purpose baking mix and instead of banana, flaxseed meal. The cookie "dough" was quite crumbly, as it's mostly oats. I thought of adding more flour, but decided to add some corn syrup. Still needed something more to help hold it together. So I added more flaxseed meal and water. The consistency was then a really nice truly oatmeal cookie consistency. When baked, these cookies actually held together quite well, after letting them firm up a bit before moving them to a rack. And they are so delicious still warm from the oven! My daughter was wanting one after another. And she ate the whole cookie, rather than just picking out the chocolate chips! : ) Ok, she did try this after her third or fourth cookie, when she really had had more than enough : )

When these cookies are completely cool, they lose some flavor. Reheating in the microwave for 5-10 seconds brings back the flavor. If you eat them right out of the microwave, though, they are prone to fall apart.

Because I didn't record exact amounts this time, I'll try the recipe again before actually posting it as a recipe. But I've put down the concepts, and you can try it out! As you bake more and more, you can learn what the consistency of the dough should optimally look like and then make tweaks if you want improvement. Keep a notebook or writing tablet in your kitchen and record what changes you make, and what results you get. You might find it fun to "experiment" and learn. It's so rewarding when I make something that the girls and I really enjoy! Allergies then feel more like a blessing than a bother, with the opportunity to continually learn and strive to eat enjoyable, wholesome foods. And remember, if you have something you consider a "flop," find a different use for it! The success of converting a "flop" into something useful and good is also invigorating!

By the way, it helps for attitude not to consider something a flop if it merely isn't a "perfect" product. If my muffins turn out flat on the the top and thus didn't rise as well as I'd hoped, but they're moist and delicious, they still will be enjoyed! You can work at having the additional feature of more rise to your muffin, but meanwhile, you still have something good to eat! I personally wouldn't consider this a flop. Examples of things I do consider to be made into something else: yeast bread that has too strong of a flavor and just isn't very good to eat for flavor or texture- crumble and put into meat loaf. Cookies that have fallen apart to crumbles- crumble finely and store as cookie crumb mix for dessert use(including sprinkling on ice cream). The more you learn to enjoy whatever you bake, even if you have to be creative, the less nervous you will be to experiment and learn!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Chocolate-Swirled Banana Bars

Currently our favorite bar recipe, this is adapted from "Black-Bottom Banana Bars" from the "Taste of Home" magazine. The bars have a really nice moist cake consistency. I like to show the original recipe, so I(and you) can be flexible in adapting it in various ways, depending on what I want to try for or what I want to use from my "pantry" on that particular day(For example, I may sometime want to use shortening instead of oil to see what difference there is in texture, or use gelatin instead of flaxseed meal to replace the egg).

Here's the recipe with my adaptations:

1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
(Taste of Home recipe calls for butter or margarine, softened)
1 cup sugar
1 egg, substitute ie: 1/4 cup applesauce, or 1 T. flaxseed meal w/ warm water to equal 1/3 cup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas
(about 3 medium)
1-1/2 cups flour(I use my homemade all-purpose baking mix)*
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt(opt I don't use this)
1/4 cup baking cocoa

Cream oil and sugar. Then mix in egg substitute and vanilla. Next the bananas. Combine dry ingredients together(except for cocoa), then add to creamed mixture. Pour half of batter into greased 13" x 9"x 2." pan. * Mix the cocoa into the remaining batter, then spoon on top and swirl.* Bake at 350 degrees for 25 min. or until bars test done.

*See post Homemade Baking Mixes
1/3 part oat flour
1/3 part brown rice flour
1/3 part bean and starch:
2/3 of this is starch- half cornstarch and half tapioca starch, or half potato starch
1/3 of this is bean flour- lentil, white bean, or garbanzo

*spray with canola oil(Misto sprayer) or pan spray you can have, or rub around oil with fingers. You can dust lightly with cornstarch or your flour mix in addition.

*technically, you could probably swirl the bars better if the chocolate layer went down first, it's heavier. I don't bother when it's mostly about the flavor for me rather than fine looks : )

Monday, November 1, 2010

Honey Hot Fudge Sauce has a good fudge sauce recipe that I use. If you visit their site, then enter "Honey Hot Fudge Sauce" in an advanced search, it should come up. This is really yummy on coconut ice cream! I make it ahead of time and have it in the fridge, not sure how long it really is supposed to last. We've used it before it has tasted spoiled. You can have it extra thick if you like to eat it like soft fudge. : )

Latest variation of coconut ice cream

My most recent version of coconut ice cream:

Freeze coconut cream ahead of time in ice cube trays. This is not cream of coconut, it is coconut cream. Mine I freeze in small cubes and always keep it on hand in a quart-sized bag in the freezer. Then I'm able to have any small amount to add to smoothies, even gravies or sauces for depth. And I'm always prepared to make ice cream at short notice.

Use a 1:1 ratio of coconut cream frozen and water frozen. I use about 1 cup coconut cream cubes and about 1 cup ice cubes. Add these to a powerful blender(I use a VitaMix).* Add some liquid- just enough for your blender to handle the frozen cubes. Try 1/8 cup of coconut milk, rice milk, or water. Or fruit juice. Whatever you have on hand that sounds good : ) Add 1 tsp. vanilla, and try 1/4 cup sugar. Blend until ice chunks are gone. Taste and adjust sugar if desired. Serve immediately, in small dishes, as it melts quickly. Whatever isn't served, freeze immediately in a small container. This can be set out ahead of time or gently thawed in the microwave the next time.
I like the flavor of this ice cream. Actually, often I like this better than regular dairy ice cream. I am happy with it, and of course my girls are. The one thing that would be nice to improve is to have an ice cream that doesn't melt so quickly. However, right now my girls are content turning their melted ice cream into chocolate milk(I often have dairy free chocolate fudge on hand that I've made, or they have added Hershey's syrup when I have that).

*If you do not have a powerful blender, you can use water instead of ice. You could even just combine coconut cream, water, sugar, and vanilla, and then freeze in a container 3-4 hours or until slightly firm. Then stir, or whisk with a fork to break up ice crystals. Refreeze, and repeat process if you desire even smoother ice cream. As far as smoothness goes, I've seen recipes where you heat ingredients on the stove until sugar is dissolved. Then you freeze as mentioned above. I would guess that dissolving the sugar helps the ice cream to be more smooth.

If you're searching to try other recipes or learn more about homemade dairy-free ice cream, Living Without has had some ice cream recipes- you could see what is available online. "The Ice Dream Cookbook" by Rachel Albert-Matesz is something you could look for as well- check your library. I haven't seen it myself, but have seen an ice cream recipe or two at Living Without that was adapted from this cookbook.

April 2016

Use Silk coconut milk. Freeze in ice cube trays. Use boxed or canned coconut cream as bit of liquid needed to add to the frozen cubes. Sugar will depend on if Silk is unsweetened or sweetened...