Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Refined sugar free, nut free - Chewy Raisin Snack Cookies

I am always on the search for a healthy snack option that isn't a store bought granola bar.  I have made a few granola bars recently, but haven't had a lot of success making ones without refined sugar in them.  I came across this recipe on the "Deliciously Ella" blog that my good friend told me about.

There were a few things that I really liked about this recipe:

1)  No refined sugar
2)  No gluten
3)  No dairy
4)  No nuts, which mean pretty low in fat content then
5)  Shredded apples in a cookie?  Say what?

I gave it a try and was pleasantly surprised.  The texture is very different then normal cookies, but the flavor makes up for it.  These are a healthy nut free snack that I will definitely be making again!

Chewy Raisin Snack Cookies
Adapted and converted from Deliciously Ella blog

2 1/4 cups old fashioned oats
4 ripe bananas
3 TBS Honey
1 1/2 cups raisins
3 medium apples (I used pink ladies)
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grate the apples (no need to peel them) and place them in a small bowl.  Drain the excess liquid from the grated apples using a sieve. (fyi, drain the liquid into a bowl so you can drink some really delicious freshly squeezed apple juice - this step of straining is super important or the cookies will be too wet and fall apart) Then in another bowl mash the bananas. Then mix the grated apples and bananas with all the remaining ingredients in a bowl.  Line a baking tray with parchment paper.  Scoop a heaped tablespoon of the mix and pat it lightly into flat cookies shape on the tray, do this until all the mixture has been used.  Batter will be slightly loose so you may have to squish the batter together.  If you don't want to bake them all at once, you can scoop some onto a parchment lined pan and stick them into the freezer.  Once frozen you can throw them in a freezer bag until ready to bake. Should yield 30 cookies.

Bake the cookies for about 20 minutes until they turn golden brown, at this point take them out the oven and let them cool slightly.  If the raisins look like they are burning then they are most definitely done!  You can store them in an airtight container on the counter or in the refrigerator. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Thai Chicken with Peanut Dressing

Today's Gospel reading is one of my favorites!  Whenever I am stressed and overwhelmed by the world and all the horrible news it is such a good reminder to just hand it all over to God and He will give you rest and peace.  

Can you imagine if there was a building where everyone could just go and throw away all of their worries, their pains, their hurts and their burdens?  Then leave 100% refreshed and rejuvenated!  First of all, logistically it would have to be a ridiculously huge building.  Second of all, the line would be out the door always!  

Imagine if you had the golden ticket and didn't have to wait in the lines or make your way through the crowds to get to this place of refreshment and rest.  No matter the time or day - you had 100% access to this place where you could just lay all your burdens down?

News flash!  You have the golden ticket!  I have the golden ticket!  We all have the golden ticket!  We all have 100% no restriction access to give our burdens to Jesus whenever we want!  The question is, are you using your golden ticket?

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

And then there was chicken, and it was good. : )

When I lived in California I discovered Thai food!  I grew up eating Chinese food and didn't even realize I had options when it came to Asian cuisine...I know, how narrow minded of me. : )  Thai food is so much fresher and healthier tasting then traditional Chinese dishes.  Thai food uses a lot of sauteing instead of deep frying like the Chinese dishes I used to eat.  Thai food also tends to be a bit more spicy instead of sweet, and just all around cleaner flavors and more veggies!.  I am a fan.  I wanted to make some chicken lettuce wraps and was searching for an easy marinade that didn't require a huge laundry list of Asian ingredients that I didn't have.  I found it!  I was very please with how simple this was and how delicious it tasted.  I don't know if this is "technically" "Thai" chicken, but I am going to go ahead and call it that. : )

Thai Chicken Marinade

1/4 cup soy sauce
4 tsp. sesame oil
2 Tbs. honey
3 slices fresh ginger
2 cloves chopped garlic
4 pounded out chicken breasts or 6 chicken thighs*

Place all ingredients into a Ziploc bag*, seal, and shake/massage the marinade into the chicken.  Place in refrigerator and marinade for at least 6 hours and up to 24 hours.  Remove from refrigerator and grill, bake, or pan saute.  Serve with rice, rice noodles, lettuce wraps, tortilla wraps, etc and peanut sauce!

*If you don't want to use a plastic Ziploc you can also mix the marinade ingredients together in a bowl then pour over the chicken in a small pan and stir every couple of hours.

* I used boneless skinless thighs, but I am sure the marinade would work with bone in/skin on as well - personal preference!

Peanut Dressing
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup natural creamy peanut butter*
1 TBS. crunchy peanut butter
3 TBS Soy Sauce
2 TBS Rice Wine Vinegar
2 TBS Olive Oil
1 TBS Sesame Oil
2 tsp. chopped garlic
1 TBS minced fresh ginger
1 tsp. crushed red pepper

Blend all ingredients in food processor or blender until combined and yummy!
* I used the peanut butter that is freshly ground at the grocery store, no added ingredients - just straight up ground peanuts - it is so good.  If you only have creamy or crunchy it doesn't matter - just use what you have!

You can use this sauce as a dip, a salad dressing, a wrap sauce/drizzle, or just eat it with a spoon - so scrumptious!  It is pretty thick, so if you like a thinner sauce add a little bit of water or coconut milk.

Here it is chopped up on romaine lettuce, purple cabbage, green onions, chopped carrots and cucumbers, peanuts, and the peanut dressing.   So delicious!

Give your burdens to God, feel refreshed and renewed!
Make this chicken and peanut sauce and nourish the people you love!

Eat your heart out,


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Almond Milk Crepes with Coconut Milk and Honey Caramel Sauce...no dairy or refined sugar!

Ever since we returned from Paris I have been dreaming of making crepes.  Then I remembered I had a crepe maker from my college days...some friends gave it to me and I totally forgot I had it until now!  

While we were in Paris we had a caramel and sea salt crepe so I wanted to attempt to make it without milk and without sugar.  Figured there were recipes for such things online...and I figured right!  The caramel was the real surprise here, so sweet and delicious!  Maybe even a little too sweet.  Next time I make these I think I will saute some fresh apples to give it a little more earthiness and texture, and maybe cut down on the sweetness of the caramel a little.  

Almond Milk Crepes
originally found here
1 cup almond milk
3 eggs
1¼ cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
¼ cup water
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients into blender and blend until smooth
Transfer mixture into bowl and let rest on counter for one hour. (I skipped this step and they turned out fine)
Heat skillet on medium-high heat. Spray with oil (I used Coconut Oil Spray). With a ladle, swirl 2-3 tablespoons of batter onto skillet while tilting the pan in a circular motion, allowing batter to cover the surface evenly. Cook for 20-30 seconds on first side, flip crepe over and continue to cook for 10-20 seconds more until crepe is light golden. Turn crepe out onto a clean surface. Repeat with the rest of the batter.

Coconut Milk and Honey Caramel Sauce
Originally found here, this is the adapted version.

1 can full fat coconut milk (about 1 1/2 cups) 
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoons ghee, I used butter (but you can probably use coconut oil too)
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

In a medium heavy bottomed sauce pan, combine all ingredients and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Mix until combined and butter is melted.

Continue to lightly boil undisturbed, anywhere from 20-30 minutes (sometimes more depending on how much you are making) or until it reaches a nice golden amber color and about 245-250 degrees on a candy thermometer*.

Toward the end of cooking, stir often to keep any of caramel from burning on the bottom of the pan, but also to incorporate the small amount that is burning into the caramel. This gives it that lovely burnt sugar flavor and color that we associate with caramel.

Cooking times vary significantly depending on the width and thickness of your pot, stove, heat and batch size. Just roll with the nature of candy making. Color and smell is the key. 

Remove from heat and allow to cool 10-15 minutes.  Makes about 1 cup.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

White Chocolate Fudge Brownies and Forgiveness

The first reading today was the story of Joseph and his brothers.  For those of you who don't know the story, here is the super short version:

Joseph had a bunch of brothers, like 11.  He was highly favored by their father and he gave Joseph a pretty coat with lots of colors.  The other brothers were jealous and mad about this, and about other things too...they had some deep seeded issues they didn't want to talk about. : )  One day Joseph went to fetch his brothers from a field they were working in, as he got closer the angry brothers decided they wanted to kill him.  After some rough grunts and manly debates they decided to throw him into a deep pit that just so happened to be nearby...how convenient for them! : )  After some more grunts, arm wrestling, and paper/rock/scissors battles they decided to sell him to some passerby people instead of killing him.  Then they took the infamous coat of many colors and splatted it with animal blood, took it to their father and told him his golden son was dead.  (sounds like a strange episode of CSI to me)  Joseph was really blessed at this point and became buddies with the Pharaoh, I mean he spent some time in the clink for a few years on and off, but at the end of the day he ended up sitting pretty with some authority and title that was important.  Come to find out there was a famine and his evil brothers came to ask for grain...turns out they had to meet with Joseph to get the grains...who they didn't recognize!  Ha, what are the odds?  After a very dramatic, head turning, and shocking revelation of the truth Joseph straight up forgave his brothers for their crime against him.  Just like that!

Can you imagine forgiving your brothers, friends, or strangers for wanting to kill you and then selling you off into slavery?  Wow?  That kind of betrayal is intense.  Or take for instance the shootings in Charleston, SC...many of the families of the victims have spoken of forgiving Roof for his horrible crimes against their loved ones.  Wow, that is powerful stuff!  I know I personally have a hard time with forgiving people...especially my family members and friends.  It is so difficult to mentally make that step and letting go.  Sometimes letting go of something seems like it is a sign of weakness, like you are giving up power over that person, but in reality it is so freeing and makes you stronger!  How crazy is that?  I know when I am hurt by someone, or I am arguing or fighting with them I don't want to give them the satisfaction of "winning" the battle against me...how ironic it is that when you forgive someone you are the one who wins!  Not that it is about winning, but to me everything has some degree of competition to it.  Haha : )

I recently received an email from the "Prepare and Enrich" marriage prep program.  We used them while we were engaged and they send us emails every once in a while for tips to a healthy marriage.  This was a list they included on practical advice for how to give and receive forgiveness

Steps for Seeking Forgiveness
  1. Admit what you did was wrong or hurtful.
  2. Try to empathize with the pain you have caused.
  3. Take responsibility for your actions.
  4. Assure the person that you will not do it again.
  5. Apologize genuinely and ask for forgiveness.
  6. Forgive yourself. 
Steps for Granting Forgiveness
  1. Acknowledge and give yourself permission to feel pain, anger, or disrespect.
  2. Set clear and specific limits and expectations for the future.
  3. Give up your right to “get even,” but insist on being treated better in the future.
  4. Let go of blame, resentment, and negativity toward the person.
  5. Communicate your act of forgiveness.
  6. Work toward reconciliation (when/if safe).

I don't know about you, but I think I need to print this list out and tape it to my forehead and all the mirrors in my house. : )

I also think another step should be added to the list for "steps to seek forgiveness".  

Step 7.  Make the offended party brownies. : )

My husband will be eating so many brownies. : )

I needed a quick dessert for a Young Adult ministry meeting we were having at my house last night and these guys ended up being the perfect thing!  The key to a chewy brownie is to not over bake them!  When in doubt take them out! : )  These are also great because they don't call for baking chocolate, just cocoa powder, but boy oh boy are they fudge-y good!

White Chocolate Fudge Brownies

10 TBS unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup + 2 TBS unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup white chocolate chips*

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease and line an 8" or 9" square baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Melt the butter, sugar, cocoa powder, salt together over medium heat in a saucepan.  Stir until butter is melted.  Batter will be gritty, fear not.  Remove from heat and allow to cool a few minutes.

Stir in the vanilla.  Add the eggs one at a time stirring quickly so the eggs don't scramble.  Add the flour.  Do not over mix!  Gently fold in the white chocolate chips - if the batter is too hot at this point the chips will just melt and the brownies won't be as yummy...which is why it is important to let it cool a bit before adding the eggs.  Pour into pan and smooth out evenly.

Bake 20-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out relatively clean.  Keep an eye on them after 20 minutes checking every 2 minutes until perfectly cooked.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before cutting.  

* you can also use peanut butter chips or chocolate chips here if that is what you have on hand

 Listen to this song.  Make these brownies.  Go ask someone for forgiveness.

Eat your heart out,