Thursday, March 27, 2014

Paleo Pancakes - The Fail

WELCOME to another Pinterest fail... :)

I tried another new recipe yesterday. As I'm on my path to healthy eating (cutting out a significant amount of soy, sugar, dairy and wheat), I find myself wanting to cheat, like, all the time. Seriously. I always want something that I can't have. So, I generally do cheat. I don't mind - being more careful and aware is better than not being careful or aware at all. If you attempt to cut everything out cold turkey, you may just fail. Or maybe that's just me. Either way, because I know this about myself, I allow myself to cheat on occasion. But, because I'm trying really *really* hard not to cheat, I'm looking for alternatives to some staples that I used to make. One staple being pancakes. Normally my husband makes them, and they are AMAZING! I, recently, have been making them for my son with sweet potatoes in them and he's been really enjoying them. But, because the  pancake mix has soy and wheat, I'm not necessarily supposed to have it. So, I decided to do a search for a paleo pancake recipe. And I found several. Though, I warn you, the results weren't that great and you may just want to skip the rest of this post. Seriously, some of the pictures are graphic and unappetizing. But, if you are interested - you may carry on. :)

Photo from Pinterest
The first recipe I tried was here. I followed the recipe precisely, except that I added in sweet potatoes and cinnamon because it was such a big success with the other pancakes I had been making. Maybe that's where I went wrong?

It's all looking good thus far and it smelled good too! And, just in case you were wondering, almond flour can be a bit pricey, but they now offer a ginormous bag at Costco, so that's good to know!

After all the ingredients were mixed together and my pan had been oiled with coconut oil, I put in my first pancake.

Uh oh, do you see how dark the bottom looks? That didn't take long. Do you see how soft the top looks? was that soft. And...flip!

I felt like I was maneuvering an incredibly difficult magic trick (obviously I've done very little magic in my life) and had little success. Here is a fuzzy image of what it looked like when the first one was done. Burnt side down.

I then tried one more, just to see if I could get different results. The batter was supposed to bubble, like normal pancakes would, so this was the closest it got to bubbling.

4 or 5 non-popping bubbles. Seems like this one may be a bit better!

Nope. And no pictures to prove it. I wasn't interested in another picture of this disaster.

So, I thought to myself, there was another recipe I had seen that I'd like to try. To see that recipe, go here.

Now, I can't fault this recipe at all. I may have to try it without the previous recipe already being involved. But, I used a few of the ingredients from thespunkycoconut's recipe and tried again. looked even less appetizing.

However, I still finished it up - after I scrambled it like scrambled eggs and made for an uber nasty looking batch of...tortured pancakes. (Shield your eyes now if you are eating as you read's gonna be ugly...)

Yeah...not so great. However, it tasted a little bit better than the first batch. And, by golly, I ate it. Well, some of it anyway. I made my son eat a few bites too...although he kept begging me to stop making him eat it. Just kidding. It had syrup, so he was fine. But, really, neither of us liked it that much. I may try the second recipe again, but the first one was certainly a flop and I wasn't able to redeem it, despite my efforts. There you have it. My Pinterest fail for the day. Hopefully the month. And now, I'm gonna take another cheat and have some *real* pancakes. *wink*

Friday, March 21, 2014

Paleo Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes & Frosting

On my quest to figure out a healthy diet, I have run into a giant hurdle for me: sweets. I may be semi-addicted to sweets. No joke. I love sweets. Homemade desserts, especially, but just sweets in general. It doesn't matter what kind. Unless it has nuts, then I can easily avoid it.

Anyway, I discovered this fantastic, fairly healthy (dare I say actually healthy) recipe for dessert. Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes.

Photo from Pinterest
If you check out the link above, you will find a bazillion amazing recipes. I have tried a handful of them and have yet to be disappointed. Oh-so good.

Anyway, a lot of times, when you are eating more natural foods, you have to buy all kinds of fancy ingredients. Thankfully, this recipe did not call for anything too fancy schmancy (except coconut oil and almond flour).

As I mixed up my ingredients, I got more and more excited to eat the delectable cupcakes.

I didn't have any fresh strawberries, so I just took out a bag of frozen strawberries, defrosted them in the microwave and cut them up.

After it was all mixed, I was ready to bake them up. If you haven't seen this tip before, I'll tell you again - I use my cookie scoop to scoop my cupcake batter for greater ease. As you can see, the recipe made 18 full size cupcakes for me. Because I put in two cupcake pans, I had to cook the cupcakes a little longer, but that was no big deal.

They came out looking a tad darker than I thought they should, but I think they were right on, because they tasted practically perfect (if you ask me).

Once the cupcakes came out of the oven, I worked on the frosting. Again, this process was really simple and took hardly anytime. The biggest problem I had was having my frosting set and not be all liquified because of adding the strawberry puree. I'd recommend being really sure that the stiff peaks have formed for your frosting before calling it good.

After all was said and done, I frosted my cupcakes and called it good. My cousin and her fiancee came over for the evening and between my family and the two of them, we had two cupcakes left. There was no real guilt in eating them either, because they really were pretty healthy. 

The leftovers were eaten the next day, however I did store them in the fridge so they'd stay good. They were still very good - a little bit more moist, but still very good. These were light, fluffy, delectable and definitely satisfying to my sweet tooth. 

There you have it, easy, tasty and not horribly bad for you! You should give it a try for yourself sometime. :) 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Storing Celery

This post has been a long time coming. Really. I tried this test probably 6 months ago, but then forgot to check it out later - or compare it with a different method to see if it actually worked. I finally got around to trying it again and I'm quite pleased I did!

Did you know that if you wrap celery in tin foil it will last longer? True story. I found this out through a test. To read more about long-term produce storage, check out this link.

Here's how I tested this theory. I took two healthy, ripe heads of celery. I wrapped one as I traditionally would - in a paper towel, and I wrapped the other one in tin foil.

I put them in my fridge and used them as needed. After just one week, the celery in the paper towel had wilted and was limp, while the celery in the tin foil was still strong and tight.

I'd say this test was a definitely success. So, in the future, I will continue to wrap my celery in tin foil. This was definitely a handy trick that I'm glad I learned! I hope it helped you too.

Celery that was in a paper towel
Celery that was in tin foil

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Soy-Free Soy Sauce

Life with a newborn is always interesting - learning their likes and dislikes, getting into new sleep habits (or lack of sleep at all), enjoying the smiles you get and hurting when the crying doesn't stop. One of the things I've discovered about our newborn is that she has a very sensitive tummy and a very low tolerance for discomfort. Because of this, I've given up dairy, cut down on my sugar intake and have gone soy free (mostly). On this adventure of discovering what I can eat in order to not upset my sensitive girl's tummy, I have been scrolling through Pinterest quite frequently. Soy is in far more than I ever would've expected, and my husband loves stir fry, so not using soy sauce presented a bit of a frustration. However, thanks, yet again, to the amazingness that is Pinterest, I found a soy-free soy sauce recipe!

Photo from Pinterest

One of the things I discovered on my quest to be soy free is that one of the ingredients in this recipe calls for bouillon, and a lot of bouillons also have soy - so watch out for that if you are trying to avoid soy as well.

The only bouillon I had that did not have soy in it was cubed chicken bouillon and it worked wonderfully. The recipe in the blog posted above does not give you exact measurements, so I'll give you the run down of what I used:

3 tablespoons of vinegar and guesstimated about 3 cubes of chicken bouillon
1.5 tablespoons of molasses (and started singing the theme song to Splash Mountain).
1.5 cups of water

This recipe was made very quickly and I was able to marinate my meat for a while before making dinner for the evening.

The only recommendation I'd have about this is to set some of the sauce to the side (to add to the dish later, if you wanted). Once it is marinated in the raw meat juices, you really probably shouldn't use it in the stir fry...just to be safe.

This tasted fantastic and it was so easy. My husband and I both give it a thumbs up. So, there you have it, if you are going soy-free and you still like your stir fry, here's a good alternative.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Goo Bags

I've been posting a lot about food recently. Which, I suppose, makes sense because I *love* food. I am a foodie. I like trying new, not-too-exotic foods, I like making new things and I'm trying to be a little more daring, so food has been my go-to Pinterest tests.

However, I did a different test the other day with my son...and it was mostly a hit. Goo bags.

Photo from Pinterest
First of all, it was simple to make and didn't take too long. Basically, just follow the directions in the blog above. I didn't change anything. She even gives you pictures of what the consistency should look like and I took a picture too - but decided you didn't need mine, since hers is already there.

I put the goo into separate bags, which was a bit of a messy challenge...and then added the food coloring.

Three things I noticed:
1) I used one gallon sized bags and 3 sandwich bags. The gallon bag held together better, but there wasn't enough for many colors, unless the bag was far from full. So, in the future I would probably double the batch of goo.

2) As I kinda said above, use gallon bags. They don't break open as easily. We ended up with blue goo all over the place because my son thought it'd be fun to throw it around a bit. And it was. Until the bag broke open. Then we both may have cried. Ok, that's an exaggeration, he just held me as I cried.

3) I put in lots of drops of food coloring, but my colors were not as vibrant as hellobee's were...except for the blue. I've discovered that the fluorescent food coloring has a much more vibrant color when mixed than the others.

Lastly, this was actually fun for both me and my son to play with. It didn't hold his interest for too long, but that was ok, because he came back to it later and played with it again. I had it out for a few days and it continually brought him back.

Anyway, there you have it. Another idea for sensory play with your kiddos. And now, back to my foodies... :)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sally's Meatloaf

A staple at our house is meatloaf. Which is funny, because growing up, I didn't care for meatloaf. Mainly because of the name. Meatloaf. It just sounds...gross. A loaf of meat? No thanks. However, now that I am an adult, I realize that a loaf of meat may be what it is, but combined with other good food (and only a slice at a time of that loaf), it's really pretty tasty.

My husband's stepmom used to make an incredibly tasty meatloaf. My husband loved it and asked me multiple times to get the recipe from her. Thankfully, I did, and I have to agree - it is quite tasty, and very simple to make also.

Here is all you need:
1 egg
1 pound of hamburger
1 box of stuffing mix
Tomato Sauce (I use 2 cans, divided)

I generally double this amount and make one for the freezer to use at a later date as well.

1) Preheat your oven to 325 degrees
2) Spray your loaf pan with pam - I use olive oil pam.
3) Mix all of the ingredients together (about 1.5 cans of the tomato sauce) - no matter the order.

I find it's easiest to just take off my rings and use my hands. It seems to work far better than trying to stir it up any other way.

4) After it's all mixed together, press it into the loaf pan

5) Pour remaining tomato sauce on top of meatloaf - or you could put ketchup on the top.

6) Place in the oven, uncovered for 1 hour.

Pictures do not do it justice. It actually is very tasty. My husband likes to make meatloaf sandwiches with the leftover. I generally make mashed potatoes and veggies to go with this dish. I love how quick and easy it is to make this, the thing that takes a while is the actual baking time, but otherwise, this is really pretty fast. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my husband and I do. :)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Homemade Chicken Stock

The other day, I posted about slow cooker baked chicken - and today I'm gonna post about what to do with the carcass and other stuff in the slow cooker after you've taken the chicken apart. I, recently, discovered that you can use more of the chicken than just the meat. I'm sure most of you already knew that, but I never really *thought* about how chicken broth was made. Now I know! To see how to make your own chicken stock, check out this blog.

Photo from Pinterest
Since I had already made my chicken in the slow cooker - making the stock in the slow cooker was genius and I was so excited to do it! I cut up all the ingredients, put it in the slow cooker and let it go to work. By the way, just so you don't make the same mistake I did, you can use the leftover parts of the veggies that you wouldn't normally use for this. You will be straining them anyway, so have at it. It does say this in the blog, but I didn't read far enough down for that, so I'll just tell you again. :)

After all the ingredients are in the crockpot, you can let it set all night and most (if not all) of the next day. But be forewarned: your house will smell delightfully like dinner which is non-existent, so have a plan for dinner or you will have a hungry mob on your hands. This was the only chicken stock recipe I found that didn't require a timer. So simple! I like simple.

I used mostly pint jars and one quart jar (says the novice canner...I think that's what I used). I wrote on the lids of the jars since those can't be reused anyway, and I filled the jars and let them set just a bit longer. You don't want to put them into the freezer hot because they will burst.

My quart jar did not fair well in the freezer. Within hours, the jar had cracked and a mess was made. I think I may have filled the jar a bit too full, and the liquid still may have been too hot. My pint jars are still doing just fine though. In the future, I plan to stick with the pint jars.

There you have it - easy-peasy. This is fantastic and healthier than any store-bought chicken broth and so so so easy. I'd recommend this method any day.