Sunday, March 1, 2015

Easy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Another recipe that I can say we have made lots and lots of times here in Fiji is these CC Cookies.  While chocolate chips are not really available here, we have been blessed by people who have sent them to us! This recipe is about half the amount of a normal CC cookie recipe at home, which is why I like it.  It doesn't make a ton, so we don't get tempted to eat more than we should!  Here it is...

CC COOKIES
2/3 c Butter softened
3/4 c Raw Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
1 egg
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 c choc chips

Mix butter, sugar, egg and vanilla either by hand or with a mixer.  Add flour and mix well. Add CC and Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes,  Makes 12-14 cookies.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Super Easy Breakfast Egg Bake

So it's been a tremendously long time since I've posted anything, but I sure haven't quit finding new and yummy things to eat! Being in Fiji these last 8 months I have had to improvise and make a lot from scratch, but I have found some really good recipes while being here that are super easy and fun to make.  Here's one of our favorites:

EGG BAKE
1 14oz pkg sausage, browned and drained-OR-6 smoky links, cut into small pieces
12 eggs
2 T chopped onion
3 cups milk
8 oz shredded cheese
8 slices bread, cut into pieces
salt and pepper

Grease a 9x13 pan and put cut bread pieces in first, then sausage over that.  Mix eggs and milk together and pour over bread and sausage.  Top with shredded cheese and bake uncovered for 45 minutes or so till golden on top.
Serves 12

Tastes great with a cup of coffee and fresh fruit :)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Homemade Ketchup

I was tired of looking at every ketchup label and spending so much money on natural versions so I found this recipe and it's super easy and yummy!! I recommends making a double batch if you go through a lot of it, which we do. Use a larger pot to cook this in as it tends to splatter a bit.


  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup honey (or agave)
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat; whisk until smooth. Allow to cool before refilling an old ketchup bottle or just use a mason jar. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Pumpkin Cookies

This is from the Food Network magazine, and it's a new favorite over here!!  This recipe is super easy and very yummy.  Enjoy them plain or topped with homemade cream cheese frosting!

Pumpkin Cookies

Beat 6 TBLS softened butter (or coconut oil) with
1 1/3 cups sugar with a mixer until fluffy.
Beat in 1 cup pumpkin,
1 egg, and
1 tsp vanilla.
Whisk 2 cups flour,
1 tsp baking soda, and
1 tsp cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice, and
1/2 tsp salt.
Stir into pumpkin mixture.
Drop by tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheet.  Bake at 400* for 12 minutes and cool.
*Optional* Mix 1/2 cup powdered sugar with 1 TBLS milk and spread on the cookies.

Cream Cheese Frosting

4 ounces butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Directions
In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar a cup at a time until smooth and creamy. Beat in the vanilla extract.



Monday, November 11, 2013

Raw Vegan Pumpkin Pie

With the holidays approaching, this is something worth trying!!  I made it and LOVED IT!  It's so amazingly nutritious you won't even feel guilty for eating it :)  There are 2 variations I found that sound super yummy.  I tried the first one, but haven't yet tried the second one.  Here are the links...

http://www.sweetlyraw.com/2012/11/raw-pumpkin-pie.html

http://www.thisrawsomeveganlife.com/2012/11/raw-pumpkin-pie.html#.UoDaqnAXND8

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Quinoa Bread

This recipe is from the Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day...a cookbook I highly recommend!!

This makes enough dough for at least four 1-pound loaves.  The recipe is easily doubled or halved.

3 cups white (or regular) whole wheat flour
3 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour (must be UNBLEACHED)
1 cup whole grain quinoa, uncooked
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast, or 2 packets (bulk yeast is much, much cheaper!!)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
3 3/4 cups lukewarm water

1. Mixing and storing dough:  Whisk together the flours, quinoa, yeast, salt and gluten in a 5 quart bowl (I use my Kitchen Aid).

2. Add water and mix without kneading, using a spoon, a 14 cup food processor with dough attachment, or a heavy duty stand mixer (with paddle).

3. Cover (not airtight), and allow the dough to rest at room temperature until it rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.

4. The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold.  Refrigerate it in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 10 days.  The flavor will be best if you wait for at least 24 hours of refrigeration.

5.  On baking day, dust the surface of the dough with flour and cut off a 1 pound piece (large grapefruit size).  Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.

6.  Elongate the ball into a narrow oval.  Allow the loaf toe rest on a pizza peel prepared with cornmeal or lined with parchment paper for 90 minutes (40 minutes if you're using fresh unrefrigerated dough).  Alternatively, you can rest the loaf on a silicone mat or a greased cookie sheet without using a pizza peel.  (I use a piece of parchment paper dusted with flour).

7.  Thirty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 450*, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack.  Place an empty metal broiler tray on any other rack that won't interfere with the rising bread.

8.  Just before baking, use a pastry brush to paint the top with water.  Slash the loaf with 1/4-inch-deep parallel cuts, using a serrated bread knife.

9.  Slide the loaf directly onto the hot stone (or place the silicone mat or cookie sheet on top of the stone if you used one).  Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray and quickly close the oven door.  Bake for about 30 minutes, until richly browned and firm.  If you sued paper, silicone, or cookie sheet, carefully remove it and bake loaf directly on the stone or over rack two-thirds of the way through baking.  Smaller or larger loaves will require adjustments to resting and baking times.

10.  Allow the bread to cool on a rack before slicing or eating.

Now, I have recently discovered an easier way to do the baking.  I now use a Pampered Chef Deep Covered Baker or you could use a cast iron Dutch Oven and skip the whole broiler tray/water step.  When I turn the oven on to preheat, I put the Baker in, too.  Then I dump the bread on the Parchment paper right into the baker.  I bake for 30 minutes covered and 15 minutes uncovered.  Works fabulously!!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

SUPER EASY TOMATO SAUCE

This recipe is from my mom, who found it in a catalog years ago.  This makes a wonderful tomato sauce base for making your own Speghetti Sauce, Pizza Sauce, use in Chili, Tomato Soup, etc.

1. Wash tomatoes (any variety you have) and de-stem, cut off bad parts, etc.(if using large tomatoes, cut into smaller pieces)
2. Fill a roaster or cast iron dutch oven as full as possible, then cover with lid
3. Put in oven at 350 degrees for 4 hours, covered
4. Remove pan from oven and dump tomatoes into another pan, removing some of the extra water on top
5. Puree tomatoes in a blender and pour back into the roaster
6. Put back in the oven for another 4 hours UNCOVERED
7. Carefully pour sauce into jars, ADD 1tsp Seasoning Salt to each jar and Can as usual

No peeling necessary!

Friday, August 3, 2012

AVOCADO CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

Ok, I know you're thinking that this combination sounds funny, but we're not talking about Guacamole Chocolate Mousse, people...Avocados have very little flavor at all, which makes them the perfect base!  This recipe can't get much easier, and I could seriously eat the whole thing myself, it's soooo delish!  Here it is:

2 VERY ripe Avocados
1/2 cup cocoa or dark cocoa
1/2 cup honey or Agave nectar (I used honey)
2 T virgin coconut oil (optional but very yummy)
a couple TBLS of vanilla Almond Milk (optional)

Mix together in a food processor, chill for a little bit, and ENJOY!  Also yummy topped with whipped cream:)

Thanks to my brother in law, Mark Ritchie, for sharing this with me!!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

IT'S SMOOTHIE TIME!!

So we are making smoothies everyday around here!  Here are some of our super easy favorites.

BANANA CHOCOLATE (Brenna's favorite!)
1/2-3/4c crushed ice
1/2c Homemade Yogurt
1 banana
Homemade Chocolate Syrup (as much as you want)
a little water (if it's too thick for the blender)

ORANGE CREAMSICLE (Wesley's favorite!)
1/2-3/4c crushed ice
1/2c Homemade Yogurt
1/2c Orange Juice

STRAWBERRY CREAMSICLE (Cayla's favorite!)
1/2-3/4c crushed ice
1/2c Homemade Yogurt
handful of strawberries
a little water

CAFE MOCHA SMOOTHIE (My favorite!)
1/2c crushed ice
1c Homemade Yogurt
1-2t instant coffee
Homemade Chocolate Syrup to taste
*optional 1/2 Banana or a few Strawberries

GRAPE JUICE SMOOTHIE
1/2-3/4c crushed ice
1/2c grape juice
1/2c yogurt



Tuesday, May 8, 2012

EASY ITALIAN DRESSING

A while ago I purchased a Pampered Chef "Measure, Mix and Pour" salad dressing container with 4 different dressing recipes on the sides.  I hadn't used it yet, so about a month or so ago I got it out and made the Italian Dressing recipe and my family LOVES it!  I thought I would pass it on to you all.  Many Italian Dressings have high fructose corn syrup in them, so this way is much better for you.

Pampered Chef Italian Dressing
1/2c Vinegar (distilled white, white wine, apple cider, balsamic...my kids favor distilled white)
1c Oil (I use olive oil)
1T sugar (or honey)
2 pressed garlic cloves
1/2t Dried Oregano
1/4t Dried Basil
--(or 1t Italian Seasoning instead of oregano and basil)
1/4t Onion Powder
1/4t Salt

That's it!  There are 3 other dressings on there that I haven't tried yet, but when I do, I'll let you know how they turn out!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

NO BAKE ENERGY BALLS

Oh my goodness!  My sweet sister in law told me about these, and I found the recipe online and made them yesterday.  They are almost gone already and I made a double batch!!  Everyone in my family LOVES these.  Wesley took them as the main dish for his lunch today, and as soon as he got home, asked for more!  These are about as healthy as you can get and still taste amazing.  I'm going to make up a triple batch this time and put some in the freezer.

No Bake Energy Balls
1 cup oats
½-3/4 cup peanut butter ( I used all natural with no sugar)
⅓ cup honey
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (you can substitute any dry ingredients for this, wheat bran or germ, oat bran)
½ cup ground flaxseed
1 tsp vanilla (i used my homemade)
½ cup mini chocolate chips (I chopped up a bar of 85% dark chocolate from Aldi)
1/4 cup nut/seed add in's...I used chopped almonds and pecans

In a medium sized bowl mix together all of the ingredients until well combined. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Roll into small balls (I used my Pampered Chef small scoop for better portion control). Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week (yeah, like they are going to last that long!!!).

Saturday, March 17, 2012

LIQUID DISH SOAP

UPDATED RECIPE

Ingredients:
-1 tablespoon Shredded Bar Soap (castile bar soap, ivory, etc)
-1 tablespoon of white vinegar
-1 tablespoon of Arm&Hammer’s Super Washing Soda
-1/8 teaspoon of tea tree oil (optional)
-1 ½ cup of super hot water

Directions:.
1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl, then add the water.  Be sure to mix/whisk well until bar soap is melted
2. Allow Mixture to cool on the counter for 8 hours, stirring occasionally.
2. Store in any dish soap dispensing bottle and use as you would the commercial brands.
Note: You may choose to naturally increase the anti-bacterial qualities of the soap by adding 1/4 tsp. of lavender or eucalyptus essential oils.

The switch to making your own household cleaning products may seem overwhelming at first, but once you establish a routine it will become second nature. From the following items, 100% of my basic cleaning needs are met:
  • Borax
  • Baking Soda
  • Super Washing Soda
  • White Vinegar
  • Castile Soap

DAILY SHOWER SPRAY

I love that I haven't had to actually "clean" my shower since I started using this!!  It's wonderful:)

Daily Shower Spray


1/2C Hydrogen Peroxide
1/2C Rubbing Alcohol
1/4 tsp (6-8 drops) Dish Soap
2 tsp Jet Dry
1 1/2C Water

Mix together and spray daily.  Don’t mix up more than this at a time-the Hydrogen Peroxide will dissipate over time.  *anything labeled “grease cutting” works best.  I like Dawn or Seventh Generation.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

MAYONNAISE

This was super easy using a food processor, or I'm sure a blender or mixer would work.

MAYO Recipe
1 T Dijon mustard (optional)
1 T rice wine vinegar or lemon juice
1 egg
1/2 C Canola Oil
1/2 C Olive Oil (I did all olive oil)
salt and pepper to taste

Using your blender, processor or hand mixer, mix well the first 3 ingredients with 1 Tbls of oil.  VERY SLOWLY (I used the oil reservoir on my food processor)  add the rest of the oil till well blended.  Add seasonings to taste and refrigerate.  It should last about a week or so, they say. I've had mine longer than that and it's still fine.

That's it!  It's so much healthier to make it yourself, as you can pronounce all the ingredients!

Friday, February 10, 2012

PURE VANILLA EXTRACT

Here is a great recipe site for Homemade Vanilla...there are pictures and everything:) She says you can use it as early as 3 weeks, but I would suggest the longer you wait the better.  One vanilla site said it reaches peak flavor at 2 years!!

http://www.diynatural.com/homemade-vanilla-extract/

One website said 10-14 beans per 750ml vodka.  So it's up to you.  The more the merrier:)

For vanilla beans, visit
 http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000CPZSC8?ie=UTF8&tag=thethrmam-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B000CPZSC8 .

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

CHOCOLATE SYRUP

This is soooo yummy and with only a few ingredients, it's much better for you than store bought!  And tastes WAY better!

Recipe for homemade chocolate syrup (with optional recipe at the end)

All you’ll need to make your own are these five basic ingredients:
  • 1 cup sugar (I use organic cane sugar)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa (packed)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla (my homemade recipe)
  • 1/8 tsp salt (I use sea salt)
  • Add 1/4t baking soda while cooling
Don’t be afraid to adjust these amounts to your liking!
1. Pour water into a saucepan and stir in cocoa (until dissolved) over medium heat.  Add sugar and continue stirring.  BE VERY CAREFUL to continually stir and watch the mixture as it heats because it can easily boil over if you turn away even for a few seconds (it happened to Betsy once!)
2. Once mixture is boiling reduce heat to medium-low, continue stirring, and set timer for 4 minutes (the longer you cook the thicker it gets.)
3. Once your timer goes off remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract and salt and let cool.
4. Add 1/4 tsp baking soda while it's cooling (This prevents sugars from crystallizing if the syrup is going to be stored in the fridge for more than a few weeks. It will foam a bit at first, but returns to normal during refrigeration.) 

As the chocolate syrup cools it will thicken more, so if it is already thick enough then bottle it, seal it, and stick it in the fridge.  You can store the syrup in a mason jar, an old store bought chocolate syrup container, or any other creative container you can think of.

This recipe will yield approximately 10 ounces of syrup depending on how long you reduce the mixture over the heat.

Recipe using Maple Syrup
  • 1 cup PURE maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 3/4 c cocoa
  • 2 T vanilla
Warm syrup and water in a saucepan over medium heat till simmering.  Whisk in cocoa for about 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat and add vanilla.  Stir well and pour into a jar and refrigerate!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

CARAMEL DIP

My mom taught me this when I was growing up.  It's super easy, though you have to be home for 4 hours to do it!  But all it requires is a big pot of boiling water and a can of Sweetened Condensed Milk!  I recommend trying if for only 3 hours.  I think it's consistency is better.

http://www.thecookinginn.com/tcirecipes/canmilkb.html


Sunday, January 29, 2012

COCONUT OIL DEODORANT

I both applied it using an old deodorant container and also by putting it in a small container and apply with my fingers. I am very excited!  I have struggled with anything natural working for me, so I was a bit skeptical.  I have tried many, many different kinds over the years and wanted so badly to get away from anything with Aluminum in it (which all Antiperspirants have in them), but just couldn't stand how I would stink!   I do have some wetness sometimes, but NO ODOR with it!  I followed the directions exactly, and I'm happy to report that it was a success.  It does make a lot, so feel free to half the recipe as best you can. You can play around with the Soda/Corn starch amounts to see what fits your body best.  I tend to add one more tablespoon of Soda than Corn starch. For more sensitive skin, use Arrowroot Powder in place of Corn Starch, and use less Soda.

Here is the link...
http://survivingthestores.com/homemade-coconut-oil-deodorant.html

So if you ever experience mild irritation, try some of these suggestions. 
http://www.mothering.com/community/t/1248042/irritation-from-homemade-deodorant
**If you have especially sensitive skin, increase the amount of cornstarch to 6T and decrease the baking soda to 2T.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Amazing KEFIR

I no longer make milk kefir, but always have water kefir or grape juice kefir ready to drink.  I have to say that Grape Juice Kefir (1/4c grains with 1qt Grape Juice left out for 24-48hrs and fermented for a week or 2 in the fridge) is my absolute favorite and I drink it everyday!  But the grains don't last more than a few times before they die, so I always keep a supply of grains ready to go.  When you have extra grains, you can add them to smoothies, eat them, share or sell them, dehydrate them or try some of the other kefir recipe flavors that are very yummy!

WATER KEFIR
-1/3C sugar (organic cane or raw is best, though Sucanat is highly recommended, but has a strong flavor)
-1Qt jar of hard water (dissolve sugar in about half of it before you add the grains and rest of the water)
-1/4C water Kefir grains
-Cover with a coffee filter or paper towel for 2-5 days (I usually do 3 at the most) and leave on the counter
-Strain out the grains with fine mesh strainer and put the kefir (liquid) in an air tight jar in the fridge
-Then repeat with your new grains

IMPORTANT: Kefir grains need minerals to continually produce, so if you use cane/raw sugar, after 3 or so batches, make a batch using Sucanat to really feed the grains well.  You can either drink the kefir or dump it if it's too strong a flavor for you.

Letting the strained Kefir sit covered air tight in the fridge for a couple more days usually makes it more carbonated!

***NOTE*** Reverse Osmosis water will kill your grains!! I found the following online, and was confirmed by my sister, who used RO water and her grains died!

"Reverse osmosis water has in most of our observations led to eventual kefir grain death even. It just
doesn't contain enough of the various and vital minerals found in normal tap, spring or mineral
water. It is what we like to call 'processed' or 'refined' water, basically an empty water devoid of its
normal nutrients and properties, much like white sugar is compared to whole cane sugar. It's an
unbalanced and empty nutrient."


RESTING/STORING KEFIR GRAINS
Now storing Kefir over a longer period of time is not so easy… Kefir (either milk of water) can be very demanding, even stored in a fridge you will not get very long before your grains die. The method of storage that you use will entirely depend upon how long you are likely to be away. 
The first method is for leaving for up to 7 days:
  1. Place the grains (water or Milk) in a glass jar with the usual amount of liquid that you would ferment.
  2. Store the jar (sealed) in the fridge for up to 7 days
  3. Strain the kefir (the drink produced is drinkable)
Basically this method puts the grains into a semi-dormant state and slows down the metabalism of the organism. HOWEVER, when you return to brewing as normal at room temperature you will find that the first few brews will take approximately 24 hours longer as it takes the grains a few days to wake/warm up again. 

If you are going away for more than 7 days but have someone who can “babysit” your kefir (while water the plants or feeding the cats) then follow the directions for above but after straining the grains and restarting the batch pop the glass jar back in the fridge and leave for a further 7 days. This method can be used for up to 2/3 months HOWEVER…
resting kefir grains for this long will have a negative affect on the grains and the microflora in them. THERE IS A CHANCE THAT YOUR GRAINS MAY BECOME DAMAGED BEYOND REPAIR so it is best to have a back up set of grains in the freezer (just in case!). When you return to room temperature brewing again it will take your grains quite some time to get themselves back to optimum brewing (up to 10 brews) and as above the brews that you perform during this time will take longer to complete.The longer the grains were kept dormant the longer it will take for them to recover I personally wouldn’t recommend storing grains with this method this long and think that if you need to rest your grains for longer than say 5 or 6 weeks the freezing method works best.

If you do not have someone who can look after your grains then you can rest them for by increasing the volume of liquid by about 30% for every week that your grains are being left however this method is really only any good if you are leaving your grains for 2 weeks (ie your summer holiday) and not much longer than that. Also this method works best with milk kefir, water kefir can be a bit more choosy and therefore it can be a bit hit and miss.
Please be aware that the same applies with regards to resuming your brew at room temperature no matter which method you use.