Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Grain-Free Almond Cookies


Michael and I are mostly grain-free, for a number of reasons - but that doesn't mean we don't like the occasional treat. So, I wanted to work out a simple recipe for grain-free cookies. I kept these simple, to get a feel for how it might work as a base for variations, and I think it does fine.

Unlike regular cookie dough, this seems to need to be 'squished' together to form balls, and the finished result is more crumbly - I think that is simply an aspect of working with nut flours that have no elasticity from gluten.  Other than that, though, they were very tasty and I think could easily be jazzed up with some dark chocolate chips, chopped nuts, raisins, a bit of cocoa added, or whatever one might like.  
Depressing the middle instead of using a fork to flatten would also turn these into a good thumbprint cookie to be filled with jam or lemon curd or the like.

The best part - as long as you're ok with the sugar from the honey, this is simply good for you food - nuts and coconut oil! So you can enjoy without worry.

Here's the recipe - see how many ways  you might jump off from here:

Grain-Free Almond Cookies
(makes 18 cookies)

2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp Celtic sea salt
4 Tblsp coconut oil
8 Tblsp raw honey (or maple syrup, or other liquid sweetener)
2 tsp vanilla extract

Melt the coconut oil if it's solid, and combine with the honey and vanilla in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix together the almond flour, baking soda, and sea salt, breaking up any clumps (I use a large whisk to do this).  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix thoroughly to combine.  It may still feel 'crumbly' rather than come together - try to squish a small ball together and if it doesn't hold, you may need to add just a little more coconut oil and honey to the mix.

Shape into small balls, about the size of a walnut, and place on a cookie sheet that's been covered with a sheet of parchment paper.  These cookies do not spread, so use a fork, your finger, or the bottom of a glass to flatten them.

Bake at 325F for about 8 minutes, until slightly browned. 


Monday, May 20, 2013

Review: Velata

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Reviewer ~  Jackie Snider

Velata. I think its safe to say most people had heard of this company. However, the question is, have you tried it? Until about two weeks ago, I hadn’t. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Review: Harris Design Concepts

Reviewer: Jackie Snider
My journey with Harris Design Concepts was a personal one. The service they were providing for the review was a custom-made logo design. Anyone with a business knows that a logo is one of the most important marketing pieces. It can literally make or break your business.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

How to Make Ghee in the Slow Cooker

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The other day, I made Ghee - a clarified butter popular in India, in which the milk solids have been taken out. The remaining oil is shelf-stable and has a high smoke point, and  it tastes incredible on vegetables or for dipping bread into.

I'd love to feel all impressive about this bit of DIY, but this was seriously one of the easiest things I've ever done - and I'll be doing it regularly now.

Here's all there is to it:

Get some good butter from a grass-fed source (Kerrygold Irish Butter is good - I used butter from our local dairy).  Put it into your slow cooker and turn it on LOW without a lid (we want to melt this slowly, not sizzle it).

Now leave it alone - no stirring, no fiddling with it - for about 8 hours.  You'll see a white foam on the top, and this will either eventually fall to the bottom and brown, or it won't - it'll stay on the top and start to brown.  Since it could go either way, don't use that as your sole marker for whether or not it's done - instead, as you get down to the last hour, be on the alert to the ghee itself starting to darken - you want to try to stop it before then.

This is how mine looked after about 2 hours - and  then I got busy with other things (ehem *cross stitch* ehem) and forgot to take a picture of it in the pot at the end.  A lot more of the white milk solids came to the top, and some of it fell to the bottom and browned. Most stayed on top and got crispy, with browning around the edge of the pot.

So what you do at this point is use a slotted spoon or small strainer and scoop up those milk solids.  Set them into a bowl or something because, if you're able to eat dairy, you are going to make an  insanely delicious snack of them in a minute (they taste like hot, fresh, butter cookies!).  Cook's privilege, baby - no sharing!

Lastly, I strained the ghee through a filter into jars - my pound of butter game me a cup and a half of ghee.  It is supposed to last a good long time on the counter without becoming rancid (as long as all the milk solids are gone), but there's no way this will be around long enough to find out how long a good long time is.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Review: Thrive Life

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Reviewer: Jackie Snider

I have to be honest, this is the most excited I had been to conduct a review. I was absolutely ecstatic to receive my items from Thrive Life. This is a company that I had never even heard of before. As soon as I was presented with the option, I knew I wanted it. From what I could see it was freeze dried fruits and vegetables. After contacting Julie Buckner, and she gave me more info about what they carry, I was blown away! Thrive Life is so much more than that!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Red Lentil Curry with Sweet Potatoes and Spinach

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I wanted something a little spicy for May Day dinner - a fiery dish for a spicy day!  I also wanted to be able to use what I had on hand - this dish is a recipe I've used before and it's a sort of hodgepodge of a few different recipes, along with a healthy dash of 'use what I have on hand'.

The only change I'd suggest is using fresh chopped tomatoes and a couple fresh chiles, jalepeno or habanero as you like, instead of the Rotel, just to keep it all fresh.  That said, the Rotel worked just fine!  Be sure to use red lentils, not the regular brown lentils - the brown lentils take a lot longer to cook, and never melt into the rich creaminess of red lentils.

Michael's comment: Ok, this is a keeper - make this a whole lot!

Red Lentil Curry with Sweet Potatoes and Spinach

coconut oil or olive oil, for cooking
1 onion, chopped
1 can Rotel with Habaneros
1 tsp. Garam masala
2 tsp. curry powder (I used Penzey's Vindaloo curry powder)
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. Turmeric
1 tsp ground ginger
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1 medium dark-fleshed sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
1 cup dry red lentils
1 14 oz. (398 mL) can coconut milk
2 cup water
A big handful of baby spinach leaves

 In a large, heavy skillet, heat a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat. Saute the onion for about 5 minutes, then add the Rotel, ginger, garlic, garam masala, curry powder, cumin, turmeric and salt. Cook for a few more minutes.  Add basil leaves, and stir until they wilt.

 Stir in the sweet potato, lentils, coconut milk and water; bring to a simmer, then cover, turn the heat down to medium-low and cook for about 20-30 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and the lentils are creamy and soft. 

 Uncover and tear in the spinach; stir, return the lid and cook for another minute or two, just until the spinach wilts. Serve immediately, over  rice. Serves 4-6.

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