Thursday, December 8, 2016

Homemade Instant Cocoa and Marshmallows

Yes, it is the simple things in life that make the day seem kinder and more gentle sometimes. Like your favorite cozy blanket or book of poems in your favorite chair or "spot". A candle lit kitchen and the smell of bread coming from the oven. These simple joys that offer a sense of what real life is made up of. It's not really about the "job", the "money", and all the "drama" :) It's the simple things that make up the parts of life that you share with those you love so enjoyable. Like hot cocoa and marshmallows on a snowy winter day, am-i-right?!?
Here in Michigan it's cold this time of year, and it is only going to get colder and more grey for the next 3-4 months. And just today, a fresh new world of white greeted us because it has been snowing hard since breakfast. So basically the best day to have some homemade cocoa and marshmallows, and I was planning on this recipe post before I even knew the snow was coming ;)
Knowing you have a warm beverage treat at your finger tips really helps with the desire to keep carrying on...carrying on. Hot cocoa and marshmallows are essential tools for surviving winter if you ask me. I may just be a little obsessed though. And if you are a friend of mine on instagram, then you already know my love affair with hot beverages ;)
This combo is also a great gift. Whether you package it up in cute-sy jars and ribbons. Or whether you have it as an option for guests as they come in and warm themselves and share in holiday cheer. There's hot cocoa and marshmallows, and then there is... HOMEMADE cocoa and marshmallows. So, stop thinking about wanting to try these and make them already. Your life will never be the same.
Homemade Marshmallow Recipe
In a large mixing bowl, add the following ingredients and let the gelatin "bloom" and sit at the bottom on the bowl. You may need to whisk in the gelatin and water so that there are no clumps.
3 TB Great Lakes Gelatin (or the Knox gelatin brand works too)
2/3 cup of pure water

*sidenote* if you want to invest in buying the GMO-free gelatin I mentioned above. Here is a $10 off coupon for new shoppers of Vitacost and buy yourself some to get started*  If you want to read more about the health benefits with adding gelatin to your diet, read more here. 


In a medium saucepan, add the following ingredients on medium to high heat:
3/4 cup of pure honey
1/2 cup of maple syrup
1/2 cup of water
pinch of sea salt

1/2 cup of tapioca flour

For best results, buy yourself a candy thermometer so that you can tell when the honey syrup mixture reaches a scalding 245 degrees, or the "soft ball" stage to candy making. This process is long and can take around 15 minutes on medium heat. You do this until the mix is somewhat foamy. I have made this recipe a dozen times without a candy thermometer and just waited until it got to the foamy soft ball stage, but to have the best results- get a thermometer and get it to exactly 242-245 degrees. This could take anywhere from 10-12 minutes on the medium/high heat. When you reach this stage/temp it is time to mix the burning sweet mixture into the gelatin mixture in the big mixing bowl. 

You will need to hand whisk the two mixtures together until mostly dissolved and it is amber brown color. Then, slowly use a hand held mixer and mix on slow until even more foamy, then raise the speed when it gets thicker to medium and then HIGH. You will start to notice the color changing to white-ish and thickening up. You may want to lick at this point. It is super yummy marshmallow fluff. Then when the marshmallow is stiff you pour the mixture into 9x13 pyrex pan dish that is first covered with parchment paper and then use 1/4 cup of tapioca flour to evenly cover the parchment. Then pour marshmallow fluff in the pan, spread evenly and try to make without too many lines. Then sprinkle another 1/4 cup of tapioca flour over the top- this does not get spread it- just sprinkle it over and then when it is time to spread after 4 hours you can. You have to let it sit alone for at least 4 hours and it stiffens right up. Then pull out the parchment from the pan, spread the tapioca all over and use a non-teeth knife and cut squares of marshmallow. Use the excess tapioca flour to help dust and keep each square less sticky. I stored my marshmallows in a quart/2qt ball jar on the counter for up to a week without problems. Let them sit out on the counter next to a jar of the following mix...
A few weeks back, my dear friend Tina (here is her blog post on the same recipe) and I decided to give this simple blend a whirl instead of buying our favorite store bought brand for a Holistic Health Retreat we were cooking for. (If you are a local friend looking for more info on this retreat that me and Tina are apart of...go here).  This mix was able to serve more people and lasted wonderfully on the counter. So it is a simple win-win for the winter months.

Homemade Cocoa Mix Recipe 
{dairy and gluten-free, VEGAN}
2 cups of coconut palm sugar
1/2 -3/4 cup raw cacao powder
1/2-1 ts. sea salt
optional addition of cinnamon or cardamon or other favorite spice combo

In a Vitamix (or other high powered blender), mix and blend and grind up the above ingredients until its all mixed up. Dump in a jar with lid and let it sit on counter ready to mix 2 TB for every 12 ounces of HOT water. 

My version of the BEST cup of hot cocoa will involve the dry mix (1-2 TB) with 10 ounces of boiling water, then 2 TB of cold coconut milk beverage to add in the mixing process, and then top with a few marshmallows and it doesn't get better!
It's the simple things, friends! These recipes can be found all over Pinterest and the internet if you go searching for them, but I still wanted to post "my versions" together and share what I have done because they have become a staple these past few weeks and have had many friends ask for the recipes. Also, as you can see from the pictures with my cinnamon rolls, another great addition to the cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning. I hope you invest in making these simple recipes and letting them sit on your counter for the Christmas season. They really are a gift- to yourself- to your friends and family coming over- and to the kids coming and going in and out through the snow. 

Much love as always, and stay warm xoxo

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Cinnamon Rolls

I have been making these cinnamon rolls for a few years now and realized I didn't really share the details with you. How rude of me :) Seems like it was about time with Christmas morning right around the corner. So here my best take on the traditional magical treat of the cinnamon roll.
When our little family grew and we had little ones, we started the Christmas morning tradition of making cinnamon rolls or monkey bread for breakfast. Honestly the kids are more interested in all the presents (and why not ;) but eventually their stomachs remind them about breakfast. And they are super easy to make ahead and warm up if that works better for you. It's also a great treat for my husband and I to eat cinnamon rolls, sip coffee or cocoa and just soak in the magic of Christmas morning with little ones. 
Cinnamon Roll Recipe
{gluten, dairy, egg, yeast, soy, nut and seed-free}

3 TB of psyllium husk powder
1 1/2 cup of coconut milk beverage (I use So Delicious unsweetened)
1/2 cup of water
1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
1 TB of blackstrap molasses
1 TB of pure honey
2 TB of olive oil

Whisk all the above ingredients together very well in a large mixing bowl. It will turn into a pudding-like substance. Then you can add the dry ingredients...

1 3/4 cups of certified GF oat flour *I grind my own from GF rolled oats*
1 1/4 cup of white rice flour
1/4 cup of tapioca flour
1/4 cup of potato starch
1 TB of baking powder
1 ts of baking soda
1 ts. of sea salt

*1/4-3/4 cup of extra flour (oat or rice/tapioca or a mix) for rolling out and kneading if need be

After you add in all the dry ingredients you will roll together, knead together and start to form a log or bad and you may need to extra flour (oat, rice, tapioca) in the kneading or rolling out process if your dough is extra sticky. So form a lump or log and start to roll out a flat dough piece on parchment paper. You want to roll out a 12x15-18 inch dough rectangle. Let it sit while you mix up the filling...
Cinnamon Spice Filling
1 cup of coconut palm sugar
5 TB of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice blend
2/3-3/4 cup of coconut oil

In a small mixing bowl, or you can save a bowl and mix it up in your dough bowl. Mix up the above ingredients until it becomes a wet sandy mixture that you can evenly spread over the whole rolled-out dough piece. You can leave 1-2 inches without the filling at the end closest to your body. Then, at the end farthest from your body start to pinch the first few inches of the dough pieces into a roll. You want to evenly roll the whole 15 inches of dough into a roll towards you. There is a lot of technique here, but basically you want to stretch-then roll-stretch-then roll, and you will eventually get a TIGHT roll of dough swirled with cinnamon filling. Pinch the endings of dough on each side and at the end of the dough roll. This will help the dough stick together. Then take a bread knife and cut 1 inch cuts along the roll and separate each inched roll and place it on a parchment papered baking sheet. A 15x18 baking sheet works best, or 2 12x9 baking sheets would work too. Spread out 1/2 inch apart so they bake together but they will expand a little. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes until bubbling and golden brown. The coconut oil sugar will and may be really melty and bubbling- so be careful because it could easily burn you if you touch it, but then let the rolls sit for 15 minutes and the oil will soak back into the rolls and make a very moist and chewy consistency that is great! 

This recipe can make 24 mini rolls or about 18 larger rolls. It just depends on how long you roll out your cinnamon log and how large you slice off the rolls from the log. If you have ever made homemade cinnamon rolls before you can use all the same techniques here with this recipe, but this dough is free of yeast, so no rising time, and free of the pesky allergens. They turn out fabulous though!
You can frost with a simple powdered sugar/coconut milk icing if you desire. Me and my kids just like topping it with regular or dairy-free butter or cream cheese. Or even just a swipe of honey butter, honey, or jam. So you don't really need the icing, but if you want that more traditional feel, then by all means. 
This recipe is gold I tell you!!!

Merry Christmas and happy planning for a special and meaningful-magical Christmas morning. 

Much love and light, friends  xoxo

Monday, December 5, 2016

Chocolate Cream Pie

A chocolate cream pie for a Monday morning. All seems right to post this recipe and pictures on such a day. Christmas is less than 3 weeks away and the season is in full swing with parties, tree lightings, and gift wrapping. I forget how fast this season comes every year, and then when it is here I want it to slow down so we can actually enjoy it. I always have the goal to be done with the busy shopping work by the first week in December, but then I always seem to keep going and stay busy. BLAH! This year I hope to get the busy-ness done by this week, and then spend more time baking cookies with my kids, and enjoying the company of loved ones. It may be just a dream though...kinda like this pie....

This pie was a part of the lineup for Thanksgiving this year. And I remember thinking this pie was maybe more liked by myself than all the other desserts. It was just a floating thought until I tried the pumpkin pie again :) But still, this pie impressed me with how creamy and fluffy it was. And of course I sunk my favorite ingredient in it....dates. Yes, dates again to the rescue. Maybe I should be thinking of a name change for this recipe blog...."Dates are the Hope for Healing ;)???" Well, it may just be a phase, but I cannot deny my love for dates in baked goods in who they offer so much wonderfulness with sweetness and texture. Yet another irresistible date-infused dessert recipe for you...

Chocolate Cream Pie Recipe
{gluten, dairy, soy, nut, seed, egg- free and vegan}

Crust Recipe:
3/4 cup oat flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup potato flour
1/2 ts. sea salt
2 TB of palm oil shortening
2 TB of room temperature coconut oil
2 TB maple syrup
2 ts. apple cider vinegar
1 ts. of water

In a medium bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together first, then add in the oil and shortening and make it a sandy mix, and then add in the syrup, water and vinegar and mix it well together. It may be a sticky dough but it will start to form a dough ball and you can knead it and let it sit for it to all meld together well. Then toss into a pie pan and press it into all the sides of the pan, or you can roll it out to size of a 9 inch pan, and put it into the pan and cut accordingly. Its a pretty easy recipe to do either way. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes until lightly golden and slightly firm. Let it completely cool before putting the chocolate filling in and refrigerating.

Chocolate Cream Filling:
1/2 cup of dairy-free chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life brand)
1 can of full-fat coconut milk, just the cream, save/discard the water
1 cup of coconut milk beverage (I use So Delicious)
1/2 cup of date puree (1/2 cup of boiling water poured over 1/2 cup pitted dates and blended)
1/3 cup of softened organic coconut oil
1/3 cup of cacao powder
1/4 cup of maple syrup/or pure honey
1/4 cup of coconut palm sugar
1/2 ts. of sea salt
2 TB of tapioca flour
juice from 1/2 of lime

In a medium saucepan, pour in the above ingredients and use a whisk to soften and melt all the ingredients together well. Do not let it boil or get too hot, just let it get warm and whisk together. Pull off the heat and let it sit for a few minutes and then pour it into the cooled pie crust and let it sit for a few minutes and then you can transfer the pie into a safe and flat spot in the fridge and let it sit overnight or for 6-8 hours for it to stiffen well. 
Then, after refrigerating for 6-8 hours it will be ready for serving. I like cutting into it and removing one slice so that the rest of the slices are easier to fork out. It is so good by itself, but if you are looking for a great dairy-free alternative to pure dairy fresh whipped cream-this Coconut Whip from So Delicious is fabulous and made from better ingredients and brings back all cool-whip-feelings from younger years. You can spread out the coconut whip on top of the whole pie and then sprinkle some chocolate chips or grated chocolate from a chocolate bar. It will look just as good as any restaurant pie and your guests will be surprised it is allergy-free. 

I hope you try this simple but wonderful pie out and add it to the holiday menu!

Much love to you! And much hope and peace to you as you enter and sit in this advent season.


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Cranberry Orange Oat Muffins

Friends- It's another Tuesday muffin recipe, a day late ;) Better late than never. This flavor and scent of orange has been uplifting my spirits that past week or so. I like imagining the groves they come from in sunny California. Grateful for their vibrant color and love they share with us Michigander's this time of year!
What a gorgeous November we've had though... so much sunshine, and beautiful fall days. This morning I sat in my kitchen with these gorgeous muffins coming from the oven, sunshine shining super bright through the door and a dear friend to join me in sharing it all. I don't think I could ask for a better Wednesday morning. I may sound overly positive- but the truth is, it has been a hard month of change and sadness. But as this season of advent has come, I am reminded of hope. Hope is what keeps us going and carrying us onward. In life, in our country, in our churches and communities, in our kitchens. 
So this recipe is very similar to my Cranberry Orange Cake, but wanted to make it in muffin form to and adjust the measurements if needed. It turned out fabulous and *almost* like them more since they are so easy to plate, pack and share if need be. The texture is just right and the scents just make you want to cozy up and snuggle next to the Christmas tree.
The cranberries are local Michigan berries though. I guess you could use dried in this recipe, but with local cranberries in season it sure is a delight to soften them up and add them to baked treats. They add so much color, fresh tart flavor and beauty to baked goods. You know me, my obsessive love for local berries and fruit ;) I'll try to keep my love under wraps and get to the ingredients... Happy baking, friends!

Cranberry Orange Oat Muffins
{gluten, dairy, egg, nut and seed-free}{vegan}

1 cup of rolled certified GF oats
1 1/4 cup of ground certified GF oat flour
2/3 cup of rice flour
1/3 cup of coconut flour
1/3 tapioca flour
1/3 cup of potato starch
1 ts. of baking soda
1 ts. sea salt
2 ts. baking powder (I use Hain brand for no-corn)
2 ts. of pumpkin pie spice blend (ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg)
2/3 cup of coconut suagr
2/3 cup of melted coconut oil
1/3 cup of maple syrup
1/4 cup of applesauce
1/3 cup of date puree
1/2 cup of coconut milk beverage
1 TB of apple cider vinegar
I organic orange: for 1/3-1/2 cup of fresh squeezed orange juice and the fresh zest (2 TB's worth)

optional extras: food grade orange essential oil 4-6 drops or 1/2 ts. orange oil flavoring

2 cups (1 pint) of fresh cranberries cooked down to 1 1/2 cups. Put 2 cups of fresh cranberries in a saucepan with 1/4 or so of water. Let the cranberries start to heat and pop open, do not let them get too hot or turn into sauce, just heat them long enough to get soft and reduce to 1 1/2 cups worth.

First grind your GF flours and mix well with all the other dry ingredients. Then mix in the wet ingredients, and lastly the warmed oil. Mix well and you will start to see the orange juice and baking powder do it's work and make the batter poof up a bit. Fold down and then mix in the fresh cranberries, but making sure to not over mix and break open the berries.

Pour in a coconut-oil-lined muffin baking pan or with parchment liners. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden and firm. Let cool before serving. This recipe will make 12 large muffins or 24 small mini muffins. 
Happy baking and much love (and hope) to you...xoxo