Category Archives: Sweet
I just wanted to give you guys all a quick post to let you know that I’m still here and unfortunately … still pregnant. That’s right, our little girl has opted for a late checkout at Hotel Uterus – apparently it’s quite cozy int there. So I haven’t had too much time to blog lately as I have been getting all the last minute “to-do’s” checked off my list. With that being said, I had to share a quick little recipe that really satisfied my sweet tooth today. Who doesn’t love a good peppermint patty? I was craving something festive and peppermint always seems to do the trick. I hope you guys all have a wonderful holiday and I promise I will be back … hopefully holding baby in my arms rather than my belly.
Makes approximately 2 Dozen Patties
2¼ Cups of Confectioner’s Sugar
2 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter, softened
2 teaspoons of Organic Food-Grade Peppermint Oil
2 Tablespoons of Heavy Whipping Cream
12 ounces of Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
In a large mixing bowl combine the confectioner’s sugar, butter, peppermint oil and heavy whipping cream. Using a paddle attachment beat the ingredients until a nice dough forms. Once the dough is completely formed it should be able to handle it without it sticking to your fingers or hands.
Give your work surface a light dusting of confectioner’s sugar and roll the dough out. Using a circular cookie cutter, mine was about 1-inch diameter, cut out round discs. Place these discs on a plate or tray and place them in the freezer. You want to make sure the dough is completely chilled; about an hour.
Melt the chocolate chips using a double boiler, stirring constantly to avoid burning. (Although nothing says “Happy Holidays” like the smell of burnt chocolate!) Using a candy fork, dip each disc into the chocolate and tap alongside the bowl to let the excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.
Set each dipped peppermint patty onto a piece of parchment paper and let them sit at room temperature until they have completely hardened and nice shell has formed. You should store your peppermint patties in an airtight container, but I recommend sharing them with friends and family.
Halloween just doesn’t seem like much fun when you’re 8 months pregnant; which is why if you look around my house you’ll notice a lack in festive decorations. I guess with a baby due in December my mind wants to rush past all these upcoming holidays and get straight to her due date. But typical me, at the very last minute the festive spirit kicked in and I decided to throw together a costume and some Halloween goodies.
We attend our family friend’s almost every year for their annual Halloween Open House and I wasn’t about to show up empty handed. If you haven’t heard – my pregnancy craving almost the entire pregnancy has been apples. I literally cannot eat enough of them and luckily they are so ridiculous in season that they practically grow on trees – wait, ugh. (A little Halloween trickery for you…)
I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around what I wanted to make, but I knew it had to include apples and it had to be a last minute thing. I’m sure you are wondering why I went with caramels … every recipe, blog and website I read regarding caramels started off the same way “no need to fear candy making – it’s a lot easier than you think!” I’m sorry but there’s another Halloween trick right there. Candy making is not easy. The problem is you never know if you did it right until the very end, once the candy has hardened – if it does at all; and it’s usually a gooey mess whether you get it right or not. I don’t want to scare you out of attempting candy making (another little Halloween humor), it’s really not that bad. The trick is timing, exact measurements and a good candy thermometer. I highly recommend giving it a go, and just know that if you figure out the trick it’s definitely worth the treat. Happy Halloween!
Apple Cider Caramels
Slightly Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
Makes about 40 Caramels
4 Cups of Organic Apple Cider
½ teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon
2 teaspoons of Fluer de Sel
½ Cup of Unsalted Butter, cubed
1 Cup of Granulated Sugar
½ Cup of Brown Sugar, packed
⅓ Cup of Organic Heavy Whipping Cream
In a medium saucepan over a high flame, bring the apple cider to a boil. While stirring occasionally, let the cider reduce until it’s the consistency of syrup and about ⅓ cup in volume. This usually takes about 45 minutes, be patient, the last few minutes are when it really begins to thicken.
While the cider is reducing, line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper making sure to leave an overhang for easy removing. Combine the fleur del sel and the cinnamon in a small prep bowl and set aside. I also like to have the sugars and heavy cream premeasured and ready to go, with candy making time is of the essence.
Once the cider has finished reducing, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and heavy cream. Once the butter has completely melted and the sugars have completely dissolved, clip a candy thermometer to the pan and return it to a medium to high flame. Let the candy boil, undisturbed, until the thermometer reads 252°F. Keep a close eye on this, it only takes about 5 minutes and this is the most crucial stage of candy making.
Once the thermometer reads 252°F, immediately remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cinnamon and salt mixture. Make sure the mixture has completely dissolved or you will end up with salty patches in your caramel.
Pour the caramel into the baking pan and let it sit to firm up, at least 2 hours.
Once the caramel is firm, use the parchment overhangs to lift it out and transfer it to a clean sheet of wax paper. Using a greased pizza cutter, slice the caramels into 1-inch by ½-inch pieces. (Just guestimate.) Individually wrap each caramel into a 4-inch square of wax paper and twist each side close.
Let the caramels sit in their wrappers for a little bit before enjoying. After being handled with all the cutting and wrapping they begin to soften but letting them sit will harden them up a bit more. Enjoy!
*I created these little festive treat bags with extra kraft goodie bags I had laying around. I purchased them on Etsy (found here), simply created a template with “Boo!”, “Aah!” and “Eek!” and ran them through my printer. Also, pop on over to my Etsy shop, Bee Paperie, where I’m in the process of adding some great festive items such as these!
I have been caught in this weird limbo of changing seasons. Kids are going back to school, the seasonal décor has hit the shelves in the hobby shops, apples and squash are making their way to my local farmer’s markets – but it’s still hot out. I have been wanting to whip out my emersion blender and sweaters for some good old fashion fall-doings but this weather just will not allow it.
There is something so cozy about Autumn and with me being 5 ½ months pregnant I tend to gravitate towards comfort. I have been racking my brain trying to come up with a “Sumtumn” recipe (that’s my hybrid word for that weird limbo phase between Summer and Autumn) and I knew I wanted to include Rooibos tea.
Before I got pregnant I was an avid tea drinker, like I honestly had, err – have an addiction. But I have had to back off the black tea (which is the best) and ever since then I have been on the hunt for an herbal tea replacement. After 5 months of floral notes and no luck – I finally stumbled upon Rooibos.
I did a little research and found out this tea is not only delicious but extremely beneficial – especially to pregnant and nursing women. How did I get so lucky? The health benefits rival that of Green Tea, some even say surpass it.
I have had Earl Grey Banana bread in the past and loved it, so in order to fill a couple of current voids in my heart; one being my loss of Earl Grey tea and the other patiently awaiting Autumn, I came up with a mish-mosh of Red Rooibos tea, Gala Apples, and a bit of spice to hit upon those Autumn notes. I cannot get enough of this bread – warmed, sliced with a small pad of butter more than satisfies this pregnant gal’s desires. Now if only the weather would cooperate.
Red Rooibos + Gala Apple Bread
Makes 2 – 9 x 5-inch Loaves of Bread
Adapted from Southern Food
2 ⅔ Cups of Unbleached White Flour
2 Tablespoons of Organic Red Rooibos Tea Leaves, loose (or about 4 teabags)
1 ½ teaspoons of Baking Soda
1 teaspoon of Kosher Salt
2 teaspoons of Cinnamon, ground
1 Vanilla Bean, caviar removed
2 Cups of Granulated Sugar
1 Cup of Vegetable Oil
4 Organic Eggs, beaten
2 Large Organic Gala Apples, peeled, cored and coarsely diced
⅓ Cup of Unbleached White Flour
2 Tablespoons of Granulated Sugar
2 Tablespoons of Brown Sugar
½ teaspoon of Cinnamon, ground
3 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
In a mixing bowl combine the Unbleached White Flour, Rooibos Teal Leaves, Baking Soda, Salt, Cinnamon, and Vanilla Bean Caviar – mix thoroughly. Set aside.
In a stand mixer add the Granulated Sugar and Vegetable Oil and mix. Slowly beat in the eggs one at a time. Remove from stand mixer and fold in the Gala Apples. Add the dry ingredients and continue to mix by hand.
Grease your loaf pans, line with wax paper followed by greasing the wax paper. Evenly pour the batter into the two loaf pans and give them a good hit on the counter top to release any bubbles that might have formed.
Bake the loaves for about 20 minutes. While the loaves are baking, combine the All-Purpose Flour, Granulated Sugar, Brown Sugar, Cinnamon and Butter in a food processor. Pulse until the butter has been evenly cut – the mixture should be pretty chunky and the consistency of wet sand. Pull out the bread after 20 minutes and sprinkle the topping on each loaf. Continue to bake for another 35-40 minutes or until your “toothpick test” comes out clean.
Allow the loaves to cool for about 10-15 minutes before removing from their tins and transferring to a cooling rack before enjoying.
Meet Casey Couchois; she is a fun-loving fellow foodie and a dear friend of mine. I was able to spend a few hours with her in her kitchen and not only did we cook up something that our taste buds fancied, we made something that our bodies would thank us for as well. Casey is a clean eater and takes prides in the fact that she is able to empower her body through these delicious clean recipes.
After whipping up a delicious batch of paleo pancakes I sat down with her and asked her a few questions regarding her upcoming blog and clean eating in general.
What is clean eating and what does it mean to you?
Clean eating to me, means that I try to eat things that are minimally processed and free of preservatives and chemicals. I try to eliminate pre-packaged, frozen and fast food from my diet. This includes salad dressings! I always check the backs of labels and if there are more than three ingredients that look artificial or I can’t pronounce, I pass on it! Clean eating contributes to an overall internal “alkaline” environment, which means diseases and obesity are not allowed to thrive. Your body is a temple and you should treat it that way.
What are your “clean” pantry staples?
My absolute favorite food in the world is lemons! I have a lemon tree in my back yard and they are beyond juicy. While lemons initially have an acidic bite, they actually are incredibly alkaline once they enter your body. I pretty much squeeze lemon on everything I’m eating or drinking. The possibilities are endless!
I also keep organic, steel cut oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, almond milk, bananas, avocado, sprouted seeds and nuts, cinnamon, broccoli, Celtic sea salt, cayenne pepper and cage-free eggs on hand. With these items, you can pretty much make anything.
What’s your best tip for anyone who is beginning to eat clean?
Start slow! Small changes make a BIG difference. You can’t (and won’t) successfully overhaul your diet overnight, so start with manageable changes. I always suggest cutting out croutons and oily salad dressings to start- instead, make your own using lemon, apple cider vinegar, sea salt and olive oil. I also would suggest cutting out soda and replacing with sparkling water, then eventually alkaline or lemon water. Once your body and taste buds adjust to a new way of eating, you’ll be inclined to make more changes. Also, read blogs and find recipes that you like for inspiration! What I like, you may not, so it’s best to stay true to your own interests and tastes.
Life can be a bit chaotic, how do you make time to eat clean?
To me, it’s so important to stay on top of it, because I notice a HUGE difference in how I look and feel if I fall off the wagon. I cook things in big batches and have leftovers for lunch. I also stay prepared and bring snacks with me if I know I’m going to be out and about. But, I also don’t beat myself up if I have a bad meal. You can’t be perfect all the time!
So really, no junk food?
I have learned to make substitutes for things that I love, but again … no one is perfect and how boring would life be if you were all the time? I try and follow the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time, I fill up on veggies, whole grains and lean protein and 20% of the time, I let myself be bad. The funny thing is…once you begin a clean diet and see the remarkable changes you will inevitably notice, the motivation to eat poorly dissipates. The stomach aches and fatigue over a cheeseburger just isn’t worth it anymore. But, I’m such a sucker for Girl Scout cookies and whiskey, so I pick my calories and meals to be bad, accordingly.
Can you give us all a little insight to what your blog is/will be?
It’s still in its fledgling stages, but I wanted to start a blog that approaches clean eating from a scientific perspective. I was a pre-med student in college and have recently returned to this field. I have taken numerous nutrition, biology, immunology and chemistry classes, so I really understand how nutrition affects our bodies. Plus, in grad school, public policy and health policy were a big topic in many of my classes. I’ve become quite familiar with how foods are labeled (and why they are misleading) and the link to our national obesity epidemic. I want to explain not just the how of clean eating, but the why. It will definitely be read-able for non-scientific backgrounds, rest assured! Besides recipes, I will talk about minerals, vitamins and other health topics I see fit. I have so many ideas swirling! I can’t wait to share with everyone. The blog is still being worked on but you can follow me on twitter in the interim: @caseycouchois
Besides cooking, what do you like to do for fun?
Living in So Cal affords me so many things to do outdoors; I love hiking, riding my bike, snowboarding in the winter and going to the beach during warmer months. I love traveling, hanging with my friends, working out, exploring new restaurants, going to concerts, decorating our new house and restoring a 1975 Ford Highboy with my boyfriend. I’m also a die-hard USC Trojan football fan, so I’m looking forward to my first season as a ticket holder this fall.
Although her blog is still currently in it’s beginning stages check her out on Twitter (@caseycouchois) and I’ll make sure to post a link to her blog once it’s up and running. Now, on to those pancakes…
Yields about 3 Pancakes, depending on size.
1 Very Ripe Organic Banana
2 Organic, Cage-Free Eggs
½ Tablespoon of Organic Chia Seeds
1 teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon
¼ Cup of Raw Almonds, chopped
1 Tablespoon of Coconut Oil
Sea Salt, for taste
Vanilla Agave Syrup
Note: If you double the recipe, it’s best to use 2 ½ bananas.
In a medium sized bowl, mash the banana(s) to a smooth texture. Add the eggs and whisk thoroughly until the “batter” is fully combined. Roughly chopped the almonds and add them to batter; followed by the chia seeds, cinnamon and sea salt.
Heat a pan over a medium flame and grease with the coconut oil. Ladle the batter into the pan and cook for approximately 60 seconds per side; or until they are golden brown.
Serve the pancakes drizzled with the vanilla agave syrup and garnish with berries.
Brown Butter Toffee
Adapted from my dear friend, Suzie.
1 Sleeve of Saltine™ Crackers
1 Cup of Organic Brown Sugar
1 Cup of Organic Unsalted Butter
2 Cups of Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 Cup of Heath™ Toffee Bits
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Using a cookie sheet, line the pan with tin foil and lay out the Saltine™ crackers to completely cover the bottom of the pan and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar and butter and bring to a boil; stir constantly to avoid burning the sugar. Once the sugar has begun to rapidly boil remove from heat and pour evenly over the crackers. Use a spatula if necessary to help evenly coat the crackers.
Bake the crackers in the oven for about 6 minutes or until the caramel begins to bubble. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips over the crackers. Once the chocolate chips start to melt, about 2 minutes, use a spatula to evenly cover the crackers.
Sprinkle the Heath™ toffee bits over the chocolate and refrigerate for about an hour. Remove the toffee from the refrigerator and break into pieces to enjoy.
I was in the mood for a little taste of autumn last weekend, and after a little convincing, my fiancé and I trekked up north to an apple orchard. Surrounded by the endless rows of apple trees, home made apple pie, apple cider, candied apples, apple chips and other miscellaneous apple products I could not help be feel inspired.
After a few hours of gawking and apple picking we headed home with a couple bushels of fresh apples and a million ideas buzzing around in my head. Growing up I loved caramel apples, and still do, and by the time we got home I could almost smell the sweet sugar beginning to caramelize.
I decided to do a play on caramel apples. I have seen, and tasted, the sour apple caramel lollipops but thought the taste of red crisp apples against the caramel was a bit more seasonal and ultimately the way to go. I hope you enjoy these sweet little suckers as much as I do; the sweet, salty and tart combination is not only nostalgic, but utterly delicious.
//Caramel Apple Lollies//
Make approximately 1 Dozen Lollies
Adapted from Joy of Baking
1 ½ Cups of Heavy Whipping Cream
1 Cup of White Sugar
1 Cup of Brown Sugar
2 Teaspoons of Sea Salt
½ Vanilla Bean
Using a medium sized sauce pan, combine the heavy whipping cream, white sugar, brown sugar and sea salt and bring a boil. Constantly stir the mixture with a wooden spoon to prevent the sugar from burning. Place a candy thermometer in the sauce pan and watch until the temperature reached 245ºF. Immediately remove the sauce pan from the heat and scrap in the beans of ½ a vanilla pod. Pour the caramel into a parchment paper lined baking sheet and allow it to cool while you prepare the lollies.
Adapted from Home Made Simple
1 Cup Granulated White Sugar
½ Cup Light Corn Syrup
¼ Cup of Water
½ Teaspoon of Apple Flavoring Oil
A Few Drops of Red Food Coloring
In a medium sauce pan, combine the granulated sugar, corn syrup and hot water. Over a medium flame, stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until the sugar has completely dissolved. While waiting for the temperature of the sugar to rise, place the lollipop sticks in the lollipop mold, having it ready for the sugar.
Place a candy thermometer in the sauce pan and bring the sugar to a boil leaving the mixture undisturbed. Once the sugar has reached 300ºF, the hard crack stage, immediately remove the sauce pan from the heat. Once the bubbling has slightly subsided and working very quickly, stir in the apple oil and red food coloring. Carefully pour the sugar into the lollipop molds and let them cool. Be careful not to add too much, as the molds can quickly overfill.
Once the lollipops have completely cooled remove them from the mold and place them on parchment paper. Remove the caramel from the baking sheet, it should be solidified but not rock hard, and place in a piping bag. Place the piping bag in the microwave for about 45 seconds or until it is back to a liquid form.
Cut the tip off of the piping bag allowing a small hole. Carefully and quickly, pipe the caramel over the lollipops. Try not to worry too much what it looks like, the messier the better. Once the caramel has hardened keep them in an airtight container until you are ready to enjoy them.
Caramel Apple Lollies from Kimber Hills on Vimeo
*Just a quick note to give a very special thank you to Ally, who did a beautiful job creating the visual recipe for these! Thank you!
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