Apple Spice Cake with an Adventure in Apple Flour

So I have not blogged anything in a really long time. I have a surface pro tablet and broke my keyboard and have not been blogging since. But since breaking my keyboard I have become more fluent with my on screen keyboard typing..its very awkward and odd but I am trying to get used to it. I am trying to stay ergonomic with it, and not finger type, but its still really slow and not effective.

But I am going to blog for the sake of blogging anyways. Just to be fresh, just to let you know what my favorite holiday recipe is so far. Because its so versatile and yummy. I have so far tried it with a few variables and yesterday even gluten free, and it still worked out fine.

The original recipe is a food network sponsored ‘giada’ recipe, here is the link for it.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/spiced-apple-walnut-cake-with-cream-cheese-icing-recipe.html

I was sitting at home bored one day, and turned the food network on and it was Giada’s holiday special for thanksgiving; I had to watch it for the cake she showed in the previews, looked and sounded divine.

Apple spice walnut cake, I mean just the first 2 adjectives got me. I love spicing my apples and I always seem to have a ungodly amount of them so, I knew upon hearing its title, that I had to see it made and see how easy it was to execute.

I had to wait a minute for the cake part of the show, but finally she was making the cake. She was chopping some apples from the transition from commercial and had a good bowl full of them, when she added the wet ingredients one by one. Maple syrup, eggs, oil, wait I have all these things, like all the time too. It was getting me excited. She put the ‘wet’ bowl aside and made a ‘dry’ bowl of flour, baking soda, baking powder and a nice splash of my favorite spices; cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. The pure simpleness of this recipe and the fact that it did not use butter, got me hooked.

Then she grabbed the wet bowl and ‘Gradually’ added the dry mix into it. If there is two things you really learn the definition of while baking its “gradually” and “patience.” If you add your dry too fast you can get lumps. I have learned the term gradually whilst baking many things; meringue, you cannot add the sugar too fast or you can deflate the peaks of the egg whites.

Anyways seeing her create the cake so easily, in only 2 bowls with just a wooden spoon to mix, well that made me try making it later that day.

I made that cake so fast and so easy, even subbing a few things; like not having a bundt pan for one, but for 2, I only had generic maple not organic. I mean maple flavored corn syrup, so instead of the called for 1 ½ cups I used less than a cup of maple syrup, just for the flavor. I also did not have walnuts, so my recipe was without them. Also I almost forgot, I subbed some applesauce for oil, I hate using a lot of oil.

The first time that I made the cake I used all fuji apples. Everyone loved the cake so much that I was more then impressed. I prematurely cut into one cake and iced each slice with swirls and then iced the other one with one large swirl.

Here is a picture of the first attempt. It made two rounds which I iced with buttercream icing homemade.

my creations
my creations
glamour shot by my husband
glamour shot by my husband

Upon trying this loverly creation of mines, I realized that apples were not the only fruit that melded well with this spice mix, so the next attempt at this recipe for cake I used zuchinni and raisins instead of apples and walnuts. That one, was an even better hit I believe and I had way more taste testers who all loved it a lot.

Here is the best picture of the zuchinni version of this cake.

zuchinni version
zuchinni version

Also yesterday, I made the most inventive version of this cake recipe that I have tried thus far, and the picture will not do it justice, so I must indulge. I made this cake recipe gluten free. I had some oatmeal on hand from the food bank and some dehydrated granny smith apples.

Don’t ask me how but my first and foremost thought getting dehydrated apples is making them into apple flour. I know I am a little crazy. But I have been researching flavoring baked goods with fruit powder and finally I had the opportunity to make some. I have been looking for some cheap freeze dried fruit to do this with food stamps, but running into this bag of dried apple chips at the food bank was the next best thing.

So I did what any good mom would do and saved 4 snack bags of apple chips for the boy…then I pulsed the rest. I made about a cup of very fine and sour tasting pure granny smith apple flour, I was very pleased with myself. Then I figured I would stay gluten free and pulse some oats for some oat flour as a base and bake with the apple flour as a flavor and a binder. I added the usual apple cake ingredients but used the gluten free apple and oat flour and even chopped up a whole bunch of mini golden delicious apples from the food bank as well. Actually I added too much apple this time, and I cut the oil by using ½ a cup of applesauce. The cake still comes out very moist.

Here is a picture of that attempt. Very moist, very interesting medley of flavors, you can taste the spice blend, you can taste the granny smith, you can taste a hint of maple, and certainly you get a mouthful of apple chunks.

apple flour cake
apple flour cake

Conclusion is I love this apple cake recipe and I will be making fruit powder aka dried fruit flour again asap!!

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9/22/15 Vanilla Ice Cream Cups

Happy Birthday Boho Dad! ❤ ❤

Today I made Ice Cream cups. The other day I was thinking of making them and now that most of the berry curd-meringue treats are eaten, I decided to make another dessert for the family. That and its my husbands birthday tomorrow, so I wanted to have something special to snack on anyways.

I had the idea from a recipe from the Pioneer Woman’s show, she made cookies and cream cups in the freezer easy to eat for her boys before she took her girls on a college trip. It was such a great idea; to have already made, ready to eat ice cream cups. I decided to make my own version with what I had.

I did not have Oreo cookies, or anything like them. But I did have leftover pulsed animal crackers from the other day when I made curd bars. So I used that with some melted butter and a bit of shortening and I crumbled in the fat with a pastry cutter. It was a good consistency then I put it into cupcake liners into a cupcake pan. It filled up about 2/3 of each cup. Then here was the fun part.

I took a round ice cream scooper, an old fashioned one, as a presser to mold my cups. I pressed the crumble into the foil liners and made walls with the round edges of the scooper in each one. I thought I did pretty well, and I had some really smooth looking cups here. I wish I would have taken pictures of this step.

Then I froze the cups until they were set. Then I took the giant vanilla ice cream bucket we got from schwans out and I used the nice round ice cream scooper to put a scoop into each cup. Then I smoothed the ice cream down with a bit of finesse and pressure from the scooper and made each top smooth. I made sure to try and make the ice cream touch all sides of the cups in this step.

I also had defrosted and slightly heated up some raspberry and blackberries from my schwans frozen bag of them and then I scooped 2 berries unto each cup and some leftover berry juice. Then I froze them until they set again.

Here are some pictures of how they turned out.

ice cream cups in molds
ice cream cups in molds
topped with berrys
topped with berrys

Aviary Photo_130874464224515040

Protein Granola Bars

I think I may have a bar obsession. I think that having protein, natural fruit sugars and even veggies in a hand held granola- breakfast bar is just about the most convenient food for me. Being constantly busy taking care of my family ie husband, dog and 5 year old, keeps me looking for the most healthy convenient food I can get my hands on. And if it packs a punch of protein, well that’s all the better. That means whatever sugar is infused into it will not only be paired with a healthy carb like most bars are, I get some protein to go with it. Here’s to some long lasting energy!

I swear that before I moved to the lost coast, I tried a whole lot of bars from whole foods and my local health food markets. I’ve taste tested quite a few that I developed a little bit of a spoiled taste for them. But selfishly Getting Lara bars and chocolate veggie bars everyday for a snack at jr college, was a big dent on the food stamps and that’s family food money.

Once I moved to Fort Bragg, CA, I stopped buying convenient food. Not that I couldn’t afford it, its just that I couldn’t even dare be selfish with the food stamps and buy single packaged food that only I liked. So, I started buying the ingredients that I saw inside the granola bars and breakfast bars that I enjoyed. Gluten free flour, dried fruit,honey,almond butter, bananas, dates…even my favorite dried cereals.. this is where the fun began.

I started doing research on making homemade granola bars. Who would have thought that simply brown sugar, peanut butter and cereal would be an amazing granola bar.

I tried it many different ways and came to find that brown sugar is way too dense of a sugar to be working with.10575320_567413930037463_3123956352662254093_o 10628888_611317425647113_6284684981733403910_o 10697163_594644247314431_5571454421522645772_o

I tried working with honey and maple syrup instead. Those are interesting with a nut butter, and dried cereal and even fresh fruit.

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After a while my taste buds could detect the high amounts of sugar in the granola bars and it was making me sick, I missed the veggie bars and fruit bars. The natural sugar in the dried fruit was a perfect energy kick for the middle of my day and working and taking care of business. Making sugary syrupy granola bars at home are great if I am trying to replace the Quaker Oats sugary granola bars they sell in the store in the kids section, but not for my house.. we don’t eat those things.

So I stopped making them. I started to realize that it wasn’t that I was missing anything in my bars.. it was I was putting too much.. so I stopped adding sugar or syrup. And I started using only exclusively fruit and nuts. Granted Lara bars are easy to make if you have a high speed blender or food processor and they are plenty of copycat Lara bar recipes out there.. I found a ton here.

http://wellnessmama.com/1047/energy-bars/

http://www.creativesimplelife.com/simple-homemade-larabars/

http://leitesculinaria.com/88638/recipes-homemade-larabars.html

http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2012/07/01/recipe-homemade-larabars-4-ways-including-nut-free/

The biggest thing that I had trouble with in those various recipes was weather or not to add water to your dried fruit paste before you make it into a bar.. the wetter your dried fruit, the wetter the bar, and I hate having to freeze a granola bar, or even keep it wrapped up and cold.. I just want a fruity yummy veggie bar.. that you can hold in your hand without it falling apart and it chewy and sweet without sugar..

cereal oatless bars
cereal oatless bars
too sticky
too sticky
too wet
too wet

I found the answer to my prayers here,.. it wasn’t a recipe its a formula. And the formula works.

http://www.nomeatathlete.com/homemade-energy-bar-recipe/

http://www.nomeatathlete.com/homemade-granola-bars/

It turned out the answer to the bar I am looking for is called a protein bar and people make them before they go to work out, with protein powders and even kelp powder to add minerals and vitamins. I realized what I wanted was definitely not a granola bar, its a protein packed breakfast-workout bar that is basically a meal replacement, when you really need it. I found some recipes that even have hidden protein like white beans and almond butter…

I started to make more protein bars that resembled blonde brownies but tasted like veggie bars.. here are some examples..

cocoa fruit bars
cocoa fruit bars
banana bars
banana bars
pumpkin bars
pumpkin bars

Conclusion:

I think that the best way to make protein bars now are without syrup, or sugar and using fruit sweeteners such as banana and dates and raisins and other dried fruit. Brown sugar is for sure a cop out when it comes to trying to make a granola bar,…not the most healthy choice but it works well. If your willing to learn the formula for protein work out bars and tweak it yourself.. you will thank me in the long run.

Because you never know when your too busy to cook, and or are going to be hungry while your out. And no one wants to even think about the option of fast food for convenience anymore, so make your own replacement meal bar and formulate your favorite kind for on the run.

cocoa cereal bar with coffee
cocoa cereal bar with coffee
oat bar with apple butter spread
oat bar with apple butter spread
oat-banana bar frosted with cranberrys and walnuts
oat-banana bar frosted with cranberrys and walnuts

I have also found some interesting baked oat bars and or cakes that qualify my criteria..and I will try and keep these recipe list updated as I go.. please feel free to comment with more recipe links if you have some similar..

http://www.nutritionistinthekitch.com/2013/09/21/vegan-pumpkin-pie-energy-bars-gluten-free-protein-addition-optional/

http://thefitchen.com/2014/02/26/no-bake-gluten-free-and-vegan-proteinbars/

http://www.runningwithspoons.com/2014/01/07/soft-and-chewy-protein-granola-bars/

http://www.healthfulpursuit.com/2012/07/oil-free-carrot-cake-proteinbars/

http://cleaneatingchelsey.com/2011/10/11/chewy-pumpkin-spice-granolabars/

http://ohsheglows.com/2014/01/08/soft-chewy-sugar-free-baked-granolabars/

http://www.sugarfreemom.com/recipes/no-bake-chewy-cocoa-granolabars-refined-sugar-gluten-nut-free/

http://minimalistbaker.com/super-seedy-granolabars/

http://www.lovefoodeat.com/beet-date-and-fig-cake-bars-veg

http://noshingwiththenolands.com/playground-granolabars-sundaysupper/

Crock Pot Beef Stew- Recipe

Crock Pot Beef Stew

1 lb beef stew meat

1 onion diced small

2 carrots chopped small

½ stalk celery chopped

½ stalk celery diced

3-4 small potatoes (red work well) chopped

Garlic (optional)

Paprika

Salt

Pepper

Corn starch

Water

Tomato Paste ½ cup

  • First prep and set aside carrots and potatoes
  • Place diced onion with diced celery with small amount of butter and 2 tbs water into crock pot on high put lid on. if using garlic put it in here, diced well, or as powder or minced is very good, but only 1 table spoon or so. 11062821_668077603304428_8576596098755609455_o
  • While onions-celery are caramelizing, take beef stew meat and thoroughly coat with paprika corn starch salt and pepper to desired taste,..first do the salt and pepper then sprinkle paprika then coat with corn starch.
  • When the onions are done cooking and have soaked up all the water. Place meat into crock pot and add remaining chopped veggies on top, place water over top until it is covered and add tomato paste after it cooks for about 4 hrs on high.. cook stew until meat is tender when tested.

here are some different pictures of beef stew I have made.

cauliflower should only be added in small amounts
cauliflower should only be added in small amounts
larger pieces of meat will have to cook longer
larger pieces of meat will have to cook longer
excellent over rice
excellent over rice

Date Paste and Sugar

Date-Prune-Raisin Paste

If you didn’t already know, refined sugars are not that good for you. Even consuming syrups like maple, agave or simple sweeteners can take a toll when your trying to go sugar free. Most vegans rely on fruit sweeteners to keep things sweet and I am going to share my baking experience with dried fruit paste as a filling and a sweetener.

You can make your own date paste by blending dates up in a blender or food processor and adding things such as water or milk a dash of salt and maybe some vanilla or lemon juice to make it to your taste. I personally like to make my date paste stretched by also adding raisins, cut up prunes and prune juice instead of water or milk. Some people cook the dates down, like a dried fruit compote, or simply just jar it up after blending it. Date paste can last up to 3 weeks in the fridge.

Here are some great recipes for date paste; http://www.veggiesdontbite.com/2014/02/01/date-paste-goodbye-refined-sugar/

http://thehealthyfoodie.com/date-paste/

Dates raisins and prunes are excellent for bowels and elimination. We use our date paste at least once a week in cooking to ensure elimination for everyone in the family. We like to change up our recipes for how we use it and I like to have a jar in the fridge always.

If you don’t have sugar and or don’t want to use sugar in baking, you can eliminate the wet parts of the paste and grind up dried dates until you have a sugar like consistency and you can replace regular white sugar or even brown sugar with date sugar instead.

Here is how you can make date sugar:

http://www.thekitchenwhisperer.net/tag/make-your-own-date-sugar/

Date paste can also be used for cake and cookie making, when you go to cream the butter and sugar for batter replace sugar with date paste and or date sugar and whip up like you would regularly

Here are some examples of my different date-prune bars and how we have creatively used date paste.

prune date filled cookies
prune date filled cookies
date paste pinwheels
date paste pinwheels
applesauce date oat bars
applesauce date oat bars

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Crock Pot Fun

Slow cooker- Crock Pot favorites to try

My family loves slow cooked food. When I start prepping a meal and its in the crock pot cooking by 11 am, then you know its going to be a great dinner. Here are a few of my favorites to share..

recipe here:

Mom’s Organic Eating and Cooking tips #1

Food incorporated the movie, is the awakening moment that my family went organic and changed our eating habits for the better. Most of these tips I have developed over 4 years of trying to eat clean and teach my son to do so also. I hope they help you on your journey to eating more healthy, and having more organically sponsored fun in the kitchen.

1.Buy ingredients not food: If it comes out of a box, bag or is packaged already, somebody’s already processed your food. To buy more ingredients that you put into a produce or meat package yourself or watch a butcher do so, your eliminating that “processing” part of your food. Try to buy fresh grass fed organic pasture raised-rotated meat and eggs that is harvested locally. You are eating fresher then if your buying a prepackaged frozen meat from Tyson. Purchase local fruits and veggies from markets and get your grains and powders local and organic in the bulk section.
2.Buy Bulk: Grains, dried fruit, flours, sugars, cereals, and nuts are awesome purchased in bulk. Most stores have seasonal or monthly bulk sales so catch some things on sale. Fill at home with bulk products, like oatmeal, pastas, rice, flours and other such things like bulk tea ingredients and spices. Tea’s and spices and rubs should be packaged in bulk then put into small jars at home. I keep my jars filled with pantry items and my tea box is always full as well as my spice jars. I buy my rice in a 20 lb bag and all my sugars and flours in 4 lbs bags or larger. Specialty items like almonds, almond flour, goji berry are expensive most of the time, so if you catch them on sale stock up.
3.Stock your pantry:Having Jars of flours, sugars, oatmeal, pasta’s and dry beans and lentils ensures you cook your own food More often and actually learn how to cook better by working with more pantry items, we learn more how to cook fresh. Having fresh rice with beans is a meal and if you always have them handy you will not need to stock up on canned goods as much.
4.Plan your meals: I have a little formula for having balanced meals in my house. We stock the freezer in the beginning of the month and it really helps for less “what to do for dinner” stress. We always have our bulk pantry stocked so that’s protein and carbs down between pantry rice, noodles or potatoes and meat. I base my meals on what meat we choose for the night and then pair a carb with it then from advice from the USDA.gov my plate website, I fill the other half of our plates with vegetables and fruit. Every meal half our plate should be fruit and veggies. But in order not to break the bank while shopping for fresh produce, you should move on to #5.
5.Get to know your local farmers:Find a Local farm that offers a CSA or discounted veggies at the end of the farmers market. I used to get a basket of fruit and veggies donated each week from the farmers and sometimes even bartered for goods. When you get to know your local farmers, you can also ask them questions about how to cook their produce and get great cooking advice. I have discovered a great many recipes for odd fruits and veggies from farmers at the market. Which brings me to #6.
6.Try new things: sauteed salsify with garlic, stuffed squash blossoms, tomatillo salsa, burdock tea, watermelon radish salad, sorrel and eggs, kale and sunflower seed pesto. Be open to trying new produce and recipes, I discovered from being open at the market that I absolutely love the taste of fresh stinging nettle and lemon balm tea… who knew? I never did, until I discovered being more open to new things at the farmers market.
7. Have fun and get creative: Just because you cannot find a printed recipe for it, doesn’t mean that its a bad idea. I have tried some crazy ideas and end up loving the process of learning what not to do, as well as some things that worked fine. I couldn’t find a recipe for stuffed heirloom tomatoes but I have stuffed them with everything, and I have never even seen a stuffed beet in a cookbook, but I stuffed it with potatoes au gratin. Some ideas have been the best thing I have ever done and experimented with and half the fun of learning is getting it wrong. I never thought that I would invent recipes But after long and strenuous fun and experimentation I invented peanut butter and jelly pop tarts and they are a huge success. So do yourself a favor, and have fun and get creative.
8.Find a specialty: Don’t try to perfect the whole menu at once. Try one skill at a time and perfect it before you try another thing. Start with something simple, like dicing potatoes or onions well, then move on to more harder things like perfecting the over easy egg or caramelizing onions. I personally just got pie crust skill perfected and I have had over easy eggs for a while, but I take it easy on myself and learn one thing at time.

How to survive being a Mom

If there is one thing I wish I had when my son was born is a book on how to be a good mother, learning as I go I wanted to share some tips I have learned to keep my sanity, hope they help, its quite a learning experience being a mom. =)
1. Prepare coffee the night before: their is no better satisfaction after whatever life brings you with a child then having fresh hot coffee when they wake you up at 6 am. So have your percolator, machine or French press ready because the moment you wake up, its go-juice time. Same goes for tea or Yerba mate if you roll that way, get it ready. And if you have a machine on a timer that makes it ready for you in the am, I envy you.
2. Your shower is your sanctuary: The moment that curtain closes, you better start meditating because is the quietest moments of your day.( that is if you get to shower alone.) Put the shower fan on and your at a spa far away at the beach in another country, drowning out the sounds of your home. Don’t let the mommy anxiety get to you, we all know that dad and child could potentially burn the house down and make a colossal mess for you to clean whilst your meditating in the shower, but most Likely they are not and all is well and you are fine to relax, so do it.
3. Do your dishes: Ain’t nothing like waking up to a clean kitchen, if all you do is take your garbage out and do your dishes before bed every night, you will thank me. And it will feel better each time you wake up and have to start cooking while your half asleep waiting for coffee to brew, because your kitchen is clean.
4. Plan, Plan, Plan,: the more you prepare the better you’ll be. Preparing a outing bag for a child really helps even after they graduate from diapers, my son takes at least 1 toy and book everywhere to stay entertained. Planning food is essential with children, plan they will snack, so buy snacks for the month. Planning your meals and dividing bulk packages of meat is essential for feeding a growing child and a great way not to go crazy. Being a mom is 80% planning and 20 % having fun while doing it.
5. Save for the future: Save $ by cutting coupons, find store coupons and manufacture coupons and save even more. Shop seasonal sales and even subscribe to sale emails online, you can save a lot of money. Shop the discounted day old section at stores and bakeries and more importantly you can save $ by buying bulk and buying ingredients not food. Save all your recyclables, egg cartons, milk jugs and toilet paper rolls all come in handy when you have a child.
6.Get creative: You cannot be a great mom without using a whole lot of creativity and imagination. How to convince a 4 yr old to clean his room? Get creative. How to occupy him while you have guests over? Get creative. Got a whole lot of veggies to cook? Get creative. Rainy day everyone’s sick and nothing to do? Get creative. Activity books and kids game books really help to get things started.
7.Have a dream desk: the biggest thing us mothers tend to do is get lost in our families and always self sacrificing for our families happiness, security or comfort. A dream desk is where you shelter your individuality, for me its my art desk, for others I could just be a nook in the house, where your inner creative child to be safe and grow to be a stronger woman. Without the “safe” place we cannot grow and be stronger for our families and be a better MoM. Nurture your self, keep your individuality safe and be confident in asserting your amazing uniqueness. Your dream desk should help to give you that confidence.
8.Know your role: I don’t mean to sound so old school But as a mother we should have responsibilities to our family and shouldn’t break them to try and be more ourselves. Their is a fine line between being a confident role model mother and being a confident single childless woman. We need to have respect for ourselves. For people to respect us, we need to respect ourselves. Dancing all night in clubs is given up when your a mother, you have a ‘role’ and you should want respect, you made another human and are raising it to be a respectful one, right?! Respect thyself, so know your role.
9.Never stop dancing: I know what I said in the last one. Dancing in clubs is unacceptable, But blasting music all day for 5 years and dancing with your toddler around the house before they go to school is perfectly fine, in fact its encouraged. Don’t smother your own happiness, dance with your children.
10.Keep your romance alive: Last but not least, love your man. If you have one. They gave your children and do what you can to keep things brewing in between diaper changes. I know its hard But seeing a happy mommy and daddy is better then the opposite.
Oh and prepare to get dirty, your in for one messy bumpy ride.. have fun.