Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Sugar Cut Out Cookies


These are the cookies I made last night with my kids. I adjusted the ingredients because my daughter cannot have seeds, as well as eggs, and I wanted to just make the sugar portion from coconut sugar and maple syrup and not stevia. I like stevia occasionally, but to be honest, more recently I don't like to use it as much and if I do like to mix it with one or more sweeteners to help balance the flavors, but also because it is also more processed that raw or more natural sweeteners like pure honey, maple syrup and even coconut palm sugar. So these are just a simple ingredient sugar cookie that doesn't need any gums to help it stick and they turn out almost perfect crispy and chewy and soft and crunchy. So no need to get all crazy with these.... keep it simple and let the kids have fun!


Sugar Cut Out Cookies
{vegan and egg, seed, nut and soy-free}
1 3/4 cup of finely ground certified GF oat flour
* I grind rolled oats in a high powered blender to make my own flour*
1 cup of rice flour (I used white rice here)
1/2 tapioca flour or starch
1 cup of coconut palm sugar
1 ts. of baking powder
1/2 ts. sea salt
1/2 ts. of baking soda
1/4 cup of maple syrup
8 TB (around 2/3 cup) of soft or melted coconut oil
6 TB (around 1/2 cup) of unsweetened applesauce
1 TB of apple cider vinegar
1 TB of pure vanilla

In a large mixing bowl, mix together your dry ingredients first...then add the oil, applesauce and vanilla and maple syrup. Mix well with a fork or to be honest, your hands and fingers do the job best. Knead the lump of cookie dough in your hands for a few minutes until you get a perfectly mixed ball of cookie dough. If your dough is a touch sticky, then sprinkle some more rice flour to stiffen it right up. Then, stick the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes to stiffen up and ready for rolling out.

Roll out the ball of dough on a floured parchment paper. Try and keep the thickness around 1/2 inch and roll out as evenly as possible. Then start cutting with your favorite shapes. Put the cookies in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15-18 minutes. I like my cookies a bit crispier, so I stay around 18 minutes baking time, but if you want softer cookies then stay around 15 minutes.  This recipe should make about 2 dozen cookies but really depends on the size of your cutters and how big and small you want your cookies to be. Then let cookies completely cool before frosting...


Then, if you want to frost them here is a good base for a soft frosting that can be easily made into a color with cocoa powder, beet powder, spiraling, or get creative with your other food based colors. Use a powder to keep the consistency worthy of frosting. Also there are some really nice plant based food dyes out there too if you look at your health store. 

Dairy-Free Frosting
1/2 cup of Spectrum Organic Palm Oil Shortening
1/2-2/3 cup of organic corn-free powdered sugar (I like Wholesome brand)
1/4 cup of pure honey
1 ts. of pure vanilla
1/4 cup
 of very soft coconut oil

1 TB of coconut milk beverage or creamer
dash of sea salt
1-2 TB of cocoa powder, or beet powder, or spiralina green powder to make a colorful and flavorful frosting without the use of dye or fake chemicals

Use a kitchen aid mixer on high or a hand-held mixer to whip up this frosting to get out the lumps and get a creamy finished product. Then put in fridge for a few minutes to stiffen so that you can easily frost with a knife or even if you decide to use a bag to design some cute decor. The above pictures are of using beet powder as the addition and crushed up organic candy canes as the extra topping.

I hope you are finding ways to enjoy yourself in the kitchen this Christmas season. Keep it simple and let the kids have fun- thats my motto this year- and well maybe that should last longer than through just December.

Happy baking friends, and much love and light to you.

Much love,
Stephanie

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Christmas Cookie Cut Out Hoopla!!!

I have a few favorite cookie cutout recipes around here on the blog. And about this time every year they all get resurrected! I even looked one up myself tonight as I was whipping up a bowl of batter for my kids to play with with all the christmas cookie cutters. My favorite is the coconut palm sugar recipe. But tonight I made it with some other altercations so that my 2 year old with many allergies could eat and play with the batter as well. I will try and post that recipe tomorrow in the day light. But tonight I wanted to get into the Christmas cookie spirit and make a post with some of the best all in one place. Happy cookie baking, friends!

Coconut Sugar Cut Out Cookies pictured above


Coconut Cut Out Shortbread Cookies

Stevia Sweetened Gingerbread Cut Out Cookies

Stevia Sweetened Sugar Cookie Cut Out Cookies

Here is another post with lots of favorite *other* christmas cookie recipes!

Happy baking, friends!

Much love and light to you this advent season!

Mini Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

It's true- I have made many {many!} chocolate cupcakes in my gluten-free baking days. Most all of them have been made with eggs or even sometimes with the substitution of flax or chia gel. Yes, most of them have turned out pretty good and I think there are 3-4 recipes of said cupcakes already on this blog. And here I am, again, posting.. one... more...cupcake recipe.
This recipe is an example of my evolution of where I am with my current gluten-free baking life. And my evolution comes solely from my sweet daughter having both egg and seed allergies. So, I attempted the unthinkable.... gluten-free baking without eggs, dairy, nuts, seeds, gums, soy, and corn. But I like to pretend to be somewhat normal and not proclaim on the roof tops how these cupcakes are different. I would like you to try them, gluten-free and gluten-friends alike. These cupcakes are just as darn good as any other regular cupcake you will try and I like making them in the mini-size best because we all know you are going to want more than one. Seriously, this recipe I have made more than two dozen times this fall and holiday season for birthday, holiday and school parties. It is a keeper that you will want to have in your back pocket. I can actually say that you should disregard any other my previous cupcake recipes. This one is it!

I promise!

And I love to share, so now here you go!
Mini Chocolate Cupcake Recipe 
{egg, seed, nut, soy, dairy and corn free}
3/4 cup of finely ground GF oat flour
(I make my flour by grinding 1 cup of GF oats in high powered blender)
1/2 cup of white rice flour
1/4 cup of tapioca flour
1/2 cup of baking cocoa
1 cup of coconut palm sugar (I like Wholesome brand)
1 1/2 ts. of corn-free baking powder (I like Hain brand)
1 ts. baking soda
1 ts. of sea salt

1/2 cup of coconut milk beverage (I always use So Delicious brand)
mixed with 1 TB of apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup of melted coconut oil
1/4 cup of pure maple syrup
1/4 cup of pure applesauce
1 TB of pure vanilla

First, mix all of the dry ingredients in one large bowl, then in a measuring cup or glass mix the coconut milk beverage with the apple cider vinegar and let it curdle for a few minutes. Then add that and all the rest of the wet ingredients to the mixing bowl mix well and the mix may even get stiff as the coconut oil cools down. It may also look more like a brownie batter. Use an oiled TB spoon to spoon the batter into the mini cupcake tins in the pan. Or use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to measure a regular cupcake. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-22 minutes until stiff and no more gooey center. 

Let the cupcakes cool well and then frost with this little treasure frosting below...

Dairy-Free Frosting
1/2 cup of Spectrum Organic Palm Oil Shortening
1/2 cup of organic corn-free powdered sugar (I like Wholesome brand)
1/4 cup of pure honey
1 ts. of pure vanilla
1/4 cup of very soft coconut oil
1 TB of coconut milk beverage or creamer
dash of sea salt
1-2 TB of cocoa powder, or beet powder, or spiralina green powder to make a colorful and flavorful frosting without the use of dye or fake chemicals

In the photos of the cupcakes I added the cocoa powder and made a light chocolate flavor frosting.
I topped the frosting with dye-free sprinkles


Sunday, May 31, 2015

Israeli Salad


Ahh, spring...fresh garden greens...plants...and flowers everywhere! A happy happy time of year :)

This past weekend I enjoyed a fun visit to my local farmer's market. All visits end with a healthy dose of happiness just soaking in all the fresh vegetables, flowers, fruits and such. This last visit my daughter caught eye of a baby honey bear and it was just too cute to pass up. So yeah, I had a two year old dipping her adorable fingers into a honey bottle and loving every second.
Here is some of my pickings. I actually bought almost double of all of the above because let's be honest this will only last till the end of the weekend. Especially after making this lovely simple salad. Fresh, simple, cheap and fabulous all summer long. Not to mention all the vitamins and nutrients... 
The cucumbers, tomatoes and parsley all came from one of my favorite farms at the market. If you are local, check out Real Food Farms at Fulton Market in Grand Rapids. They have the best, I mean the best cucumbers ever! They grow in greenhouses and the cucumbers and tomatoes that you can buy now instead of in August are so mouth-watering-amazing this time of year. The crunch and sweetness are seriously unexplainable wonderfulness.
This salad is so simple that it doesn't really need a recipe. Mainly the few needed ingredients and just making sure you have a great balance of cucumbers and tomatoes. It takes a little bit of chopping, but that's most of the fun so don't be stressed. Set up your chopping station and enjoy the colors, smells and wonderfulness of fresh local food!
This time as I was chopping I couldn't help reminiscing on my life 10 years ago this week. My husband and I were packing up our lives and heading to the other side of the globe. We moved to Jerusalem, Israel of all places and this salad only brings back intense memories. Everywhere we went we ate this salad, along with loads of fresh hummus and pita. After a few weeks, we finally learned our way around the markets and bought all of the below ingredients in bulk and made salad all-the-day-long. It was so delicious I can honestly say I never tired of such meals of hummus, pita (pre-GF- days :), salad and sometimes schwarma or falafel. The foods of the Jerusalem have a special place in my heart thats' for sure.
This salad is all about balance. You can basically make it without a recipe (or shrink or double) if you put in equal parts of the cucumber and tomatoes, the parsley and onion, and the lemon and olive oil. It can be as simple as you want it, or add other herbs, garlic, or spice if you want. It is surprising though how wonderful a few simple ingredients and the simple dressing can make an amazing combo.
Some dear friends, invited us for dinner and they served this amazing chicken dish.  This salad is the perfect pair for this dish. And I will tell you that I will be most likely be making this once, if not more, a week this summer while the fresh ingredients are bountiful. Recipes like this make it easy to be gluten-free, and even lots of allergens-free. It is great for kids and big gatherings too. I love and hoard recipes like this!
So, I'm not telling you to run to your nearest farmer's market, but maybe you should start thinking about planning to make it to your market and make this recipe in the next few weeks. Seriously, it's the least you can do to add some loving and happiness to your life.
Israeli Salad Recipe
3 large cucumbers, sliced and quartered
1 pound of cherry tomatoes or 3 large tomatoes, quartered or diced (or a mix of both or whatever tomatoes you got- key to make all pieces around the same size)
1 small onion finely diced (about 2/3 cup)
1 large handful of fresh finely chopped parsley (2/3 cup)
1/2 cup of quality olive oil
1/2 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
pinch or two of sea salt
pinch or two of cracked black pepper

Chop all of the ingredients and mix well in a large bowl, chill in the fridge for a little bit to let flavors meld together. Serve with hummus, greens, rice, chicken, schwarma, falafel, chickpea flatbread and the list could go on and on. 
See what I mean about simple. Why am I even posting this?! Well to get to you excited as I am about real food and fresh recipes! This is what got me started on the path to eating and enjoying fresh local foods that are naturally gluten-free and great for you.

I hope you enjoy (again and again) and much love and life to you!