Posts Tagged ‘baking


Freeing ourselves…

I updated this post to fix a few important errors on August 7, 2012. Please not that the “coconut butter” listed in the cashew butter coconut sorbet was changed to coconut milk, and the corn breading recipe changed from 1 cup to a 1/2 cup of water. I’m really hoping this didn’t cause a problem for anyone before it was fixed.

…of gluten, that is.

We decided to ditch gluten a while back to see if it would help clear up some health issues troubling some of our troops. I’m happy to report that living without gluten is not as hard as it may seem, and that it has helped us some as well. While it’s not always difficult to eat gluten free, it has it’s challenges. In an effort to get a better grasp of getting all the gluten out of all our diets, I decided to join a small group of people I know online in a 5 day challenge. I also turned up the pressure a bit for myself and tried to cut out refined sugar as well; I’ve done this before, so it should have been a pretty easy task. Uh, yeah, not so much. I’m still working on it. In the mean time, here’s a few recipes, adaptations and meal ideas for those of you who are eating gluten free.

Cashew Butter Coconut Sorbet

  • 1 can coconut milk, slightly warmed
  • 1/4 cashew butter (or your favorite nut butter)
  • 1/4 honey
  • pinch of sea salt

Blend all ingredients in a blender until just combined and freeze according to the directions for your ice cream freezer. We ate this topped with a small handful of chocolate chunks. The recipe is small, making only 3 or 4 small servings; double it for larger parties or left overs.

Carrot Muffin Adaptation

You’ll find my carrot muffin recipe here. This adaptation will mix and bake just like the original; there are just a few simple changes in the ingredients. You’ll need to substitute 1 1/4 cups of corn flour for the whole wheat flour, double the crushed pineapple from 8 ounces drained to 16 ounces drained, and add an egg for a total of 3 eggs.

Frozen Chocolate Covered Bananas

  • 4 bananas
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 coconut oil
  • crushed nuts, GF pretzels or other crushed or small toppers (optional, of course)

Peel and slice each banana in half; push a popsicle stick into the cut end and place on a sheet tray that will fit in your freezer. Freeze these until frozen through; best done a few hours or more before you’d like to serve them. When you are about ready to serve them, melt chocolate and coconut oil together and pour into a tall glass or my favorite, a 2 cup pyrex measuring cup. Work with one banana at a time; dip it in the melted chocolate, tipping the container to be certain you get chocolate all the way up the side. Then roll it in the topping and let sit until the chocolate is firm before serving. (Obviously, this recipe isn’t refined sugar free. It’s a treat around here, but a great one for the end of a HOT summer day!)

If that’s not enough snacks and treats for you, check out my last post for a chocolate coconut sorbet recipe that you can make into hot cocoa this winter. Or you can try a GF version of our homemade granola bars by using GF oats and substituting your favorite GF flour blend or grinding 2/3 of a cup of GF oats for the whole wheat flour.

Snacks are where we struggle most around here. That may not be true for you and yours, and you may be struggling more with meal ideas. There are simple ways to eat around breads and pastas if you are willing to think “outside the bun” and be a little creative. Some things we have tried and love:

  • corn tortillas – we love to eat tacos and fajitas at our house. I make our corn tortillas using masa we buy at the store, a tortilla press and the directions on the package of masa. If you don’t have a press, I recommend buying one for these; they just don’t hand roll well at all.
  • Salads. If you are grain free, put your taco filling or fajitas on a bed of greens, top with salsa and sliced avocado or guacamole. Or turn your sandwich into a salad by putting what you’d normally put between bread on greens instead.
  • GF pasta is available in many varieties. We like the quinoa pastas the best, but if you are going grain free altogether, try putting your favorite pasta sauce over roasted eggplant. Quarter smaller eggplants and slice larger ones into 1/2 inch discs, toss with a generous amount of olive oil, season with sea salt and bake at 350 for 45 minutes to an hour until the eggplant is soft all the way through.
  • Wrap your sandwich in lettuce instead of bread. You can even order sandwiches this way at some restaurants.
  • Don’t discount just eating things bun-less. We’ve eaten burgers topped with homemade GF onion rings, grated cheese (for those of us who can have it) and BBQ sauce with a side of sweet potato oven fries.
  • Fry things up anyway, just use corn flour. I’ve breaded everything from onions to chicken in corn flour. We’ve made our chicken fried chicken just the same as we always have directly subbing corn flour. Our onion rings go in a batter of 1 cup corn flour, salt to taste, seasoning of choice, and 1 egg mixed into 1/2 cup water. Stir to combine, dip onions and fry. I am certain this would work for other veggies; I’ve done zucchini this way as well.
  • Put things on baked potatoes. We love to take left over pulled pork, shredded beef, or other things that might go on a bun and put them on simple baked potatoes.
  • Make soup. I’ve made everything from a southwestern black bean and kale soup with purple rice in it to a roasted tomato bruchetta with cilantro. Honestly, if you have an idea for soup, try doing an online search, you will likely find a recipe. I’ll post soup recipes later.

Hopefully this is enough to keep those of you in need of ideas going a little while longer while you change your habits. Happy eating!


Turning 6 in Narnia

The biggest Schmitzlet turned 6 recently. His birthday was welcomed with all of our traditions, including a mama made birthday shirt and the wearing of his birthday crown. The celebration also included a Narnia themed party; at his request we donned pajamas and ate breakfast for dinner in Narnia. We converted the house with a simple painting hung on the inside of our storm door to look like a wardrobe door (This was probably the least effective of our decorations, but the boys helped with the painting and their inclusion was much more important than the end result.) and a simple hanging rod holding coats on hangers just inside the door. The coats gave way to Christmas trees, fabric “snow” on the floor, and a lamp post. The boys also helped me make a banner with stenciled lions, and I crafted Cair Paravel, based on the illustration in the original book, out of cake.

We created another butterfly net similar to the one he gave his brother for him, and I also made him an apron and chef hat. Our friends and family stitched up some handmade love for him as well. He was thrilled to get a dinosaur tail just like one the middle boy received for his birthday in May, and one of his aunts made him the worlds most adorable stuffed lion. The boys have spent much time playing a game they call “whack with dinosaur tails”, and the lion was instantly adopted as his nighttime companion.

Party goers were invited to make a crown and given a naturally hand dyed play scarf as a favor. They dined on scrambled eggs with toppings like grated cheese, avocado, and salsa, bacon, homemade carrot muffins and fruit; each item specially selected by the birthday boy.

The big guy’s 6th birthday was magical. I really enjoyed getting ready for a party in Narnia, and I hope I get to do it again sometime in the future! For now, I want my 6 year old to know that he is even more magical. He is intense, creative, dramatic, persistent and vibrant, and he challenges me to be the best parent I possible can each and every day. It is truly an adventure to live with this boy; his imagination is bigger than our home. It is not possible to keep up with him these days, and I resign myself to the sidelines much of the time, left to watch him explore, discover, create and learn. I am amazed every day as I observe him encounter this world, and I pray, pray, pray for him without ceasing.


Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

I feel like we are constantly searching for snacks around here; we need things that are HEALTHY pretty much all the time. Most of the time we eat fruit, nuts, raw veggies, cheese, and other truly whole foods snacks. We do, though, also LOVE to bake around here, and sometimes snack can be extra yummy (face it, fruit, nuts and veggies ARE yummy) and healthy at the same time.

In an effort to create a snackable baked item that met our many criteria, I spent months trying out granola bar recipes. In the end, we came up with one that is a hit with everyone we know except hubby. The boys recently took them to play at a friend’s house, and we came home with two requests for the recipe. I based our recipe on this one from Smitten Kitchen, but it is unique enough to be our own.

We do take the 8 ounce package of pecans and literally pulverize them with a meat tenderizer to make them both easier for the tiniest kids to eat and next to impossible to pick out; we can’t have them picking out the protein, now can we?

Granola Bars

  • 3 1/3 C rolled oats
  • 2/3 C whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1/2 t SEA salt (use twice that if it’s table)
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 8 oz. pecan pieces
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Mix above together.

  • 12 T fat (today was 8 coconut oil and 4 canola; I have used all coconut before (YUM!) and butter would be good too)
  • 3/4 C honey (or maple syrup)
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 2 T water

Mix wet, stir into dry. I like to use my stand mixer. Press into a greased 9 by 13 casserole and bake at 350 for about 30 to 35 minutes until golden on the edges and a bit golden on the top. Cut while slightly warm, but wait until they are cool to serve. Serve too soon and they fall apart.

You can also completely alter the recipe by changing the add ins; instead of pecan and chocolate chips, try 2 to 3 cups of any combination of nuts, dried fruit, and/or flaked coconut. I have used raisins in the past; the boys didn’t like them as much. Gee, go figure. And I felt like the raisins burnt slightly where they touched the pan, but cinnamon raisin was yummy. We have made chocolate chip and cashew recently; those were a hit too!


Another 1!

A certain baby boy turned 1 this past Christmas around here. We celebrated his big day a couple of weeks later with a small party of family, and we gave him some fun handmade gifts he’s really enjoyed. He also got his birthday crown and birthday shirt, but his mama didn’t get a decent picture of him in his shirt.

On Christmas afternoon we gave him some tree blocks we’d made for him. His older brothers both helped me sand these, and they have become a popular item for building around here.

Decorations for his shin dig were simple; I made him a name bunting to later hang in his room that we hung for his party.

We also spread the table with a simple piece of fabric, some leaf fleece place mats that doubled as our party favor, and a lion cake that he loved destroying the top of.

At his party he received a quilt I made for him. I started on this when I was just a few weeks pregnant with him, and I am thrilled with how it turned out. It is made entirely from hand dyed fabrics from my stash.

At one, this little determined guy of ours was walking and using about 10 words. He is a happy, content, persistent little boy who continues to surprise us with how quickly he is doing things. He looks up to his big brothers and wants so badly to be a part of everything going on around here. We are blessed to have him, and have all eaten up every day of his first year (and nearly 2 more months…).


Carrot Muffins

We are constantly looking for new snacks around here. I was surprised earlier this week when the boys requested to make carrot muffins for a snack. I adapted a carrot cake recipe for these muffins, but they are so moist and sweet you could frost them and call them cupcakes or double this recipe to make a layer cake. The best part about them is there’s not a single grain of refined sugar!

Carrot Muffins

  •  1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups finely grated carrot
  • 8 oz. can of crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1/2 cup oil (coconut was delish!)
  • 2 eggs

Line or oil 12 muffin cups. Stir together dry ingredients; then add the wet ingredients and mix thoroughly with a mixer. Spoon about 1/4 cup batter into each muffin cup. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. Try not to eat 4 as soon as they cool enough. Really.

These didn’t even last long enough around here for hubby to get to try them, and the boys were begging for more.