Super, Organic, Awesome-Pants Festive Icing!
December 22, 2011 at 6:00 am
I know what you are thinking. That is some headline.
But I had to choose something that showed my excitement at discovering the BEST recipe ever for colorful and festive natural decorating icing.
Until now, I have been at a loss when it comes to cool icing for holiday cookies. The only products out there have trans fat or artificial colors … it’s an organic nightmare.
But recently, I tried the simplest recipe ever — just three ingredients. Ready?
And guess what?! We have bright green trees, pink snowmen, and all sorts of other fun cookies. The icing tastes great and “dries,” so the cookies can be stored and shared.
I start with two cups of sugar and add a few tablespoons of cream. I keep adding cream until it gets thin enough that all the sugar is incorporated, and it is easily spreadable. I then separate small amounts into small bowls and add coloring according to package directions to make lots of beautiful colors!
Bulk Roasting Veggies
December 15, 2011 at 6:00 am
I am the worst vegetarian.
I have been at this for 20 years, and I am still discovering all these things I could have done along the way to make veggie-eating easier.
Like roasting vegetables. A lot of vegetables.
I should have totally done that in the past.
BUT, I am doing it now. To go along with my bulk grains and slow-cooker beans, (don’t forget to add kombu!)I have started making huge batches of roasted veggies once a week.
It is SO easy. I make a batch on Sunday to go with our meal, and there is plenty left over for lunches the next few days. Roasted veggies are also great on salads (think potatoes and asparagus) and in soups.
My favorite veggies to roast are mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, peppers, potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, broccoli and asparagus. But pretty much ANY veggie is great when it gets all carmelized and delicious in a hot oven.
I cut any veggies we have into bite-size pieces and toss them with olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs like thyme, basil, rosemary or oregano. Then I cook them for 35 to 34 minutes in a 475-degree oven.
They are great over brown rice, and delicious heated up for the next few days!
Celebrating a Cranberry Thanksgiving
November 22, 2011 at 6:00 am
It’s Cranberry Bread Day! It’s Cranberry Bread Day!!
You saw it on your calendar, right? Heard about it on the radio?
Uh-oh. Starting to think that Cranberry Bread Day may be an Anderson Family tradition only …
But it is so fun, and has become so much a part of what makes us look forward to Thanksgiving that I hope you will join us in celebrating!
Our cranberry bread tradition began many years ago, before Ellery was even born, when Owen and I read the book Cranberry Thanksgiving. It is such a sweet story about a grandmother guarding her famous cranberry bread recipe, but the deeper message is that you really can’t judge people based on how they appear, or even if they smell like lavender.
(This book always reminds of my grandparents who often sought out a person who was alone for Thanksgiving and asked them to be part of our family celebration. In college, they often told me to bring friends home who could not travel all the way back to their own hometowns to celebrate. My grandfather always said that we were so lucky to have so much, and to have each other, and it was our duty to share that. So reading this book gives me a chance to tell my kids that story too!)
In the back of the book is a recipe for Grandmother’s Famous Cranberry Bread, and that first year, we tried it. We got lots of recipe requests at Thanksgiving, and the following year, made it again with a few changes.
We keep experimenting based on allergy restrictions and what we think tastes good (fewer raisins, then no raisins, then adding pecans, for instance).
And what we have come up with is our family’s own recipe based on the book, but also a fun family tradition that really is one of my very favorite parts of the year.
Our Cranberry Bread
(based on the recipe from Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin, and pictured here in their muffin form)
2 cups white spelt flour (unbleached flour is fine too!)
1 cup evaporated cane juice crystals or sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup light olive oil
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp grated orange peel
3/4 orange juice
2 1/2 cups cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Mix dry ingredients (including cane juice crystals or sugar) in a large bowl and set aside. Mix wet ingredients in small bowl. Add wet to dry and mix until just combined. Fold in cranberries and pecans, if using. Spoon into greased loaf pan, cake pan or muffin tin. Cook at 350 degrees for 22 minutes for muffins, 35-40 minutes in a cake pan and 55 minutes to an hour in a bread pan. The bread/muffins is done when a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Note: In the spring we substitute rhubarb for the cranberries! Rhubarb and orange is so yummy together too!
Happy Cranberry Bread Day today!
Do you have a special Thanksgiving tradition? Please tell us in the comments below!
Mix It Up: Cranberry Hazelnutty Granola
November 18, 2011 at 6:00 am
We made a big batch of granola this week for cereal and snacking. It is a seasonal twist on one of our favorite recipes, and features cranberries and hazelnuts.
This recipes makes a big pan-full of nutty, flavorful granola. I use my friend Rachel’s trick of cooking it in a Pyrex pan to keep the granola from burning. We had plenty to eat right away, and plenty to freeze for when holiday guests are here for breakfast.
adapted from Feeding the Whole Family’s Maple Butter Nut Granola recipe
3 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon almond butter (or any nut butter will do!)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine oats, seeds, hazelnuts, cinnamon and salt in a big bowl and mix well.
In a small pot over medium heat, melt coconut oil, syrup and peanut butter.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry bowl and mix well. Pour into a large, glass Pyrex pan and spread flat.
Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring frequently to avoid burning.
Remove from oven and cool. Add cranberries and stir well. Store in glass jars.
Halloween is Hallo-Over
November 8, 2011 at 6:00 am
I’m kind of over the Halloween candy. What about you?
I really do try to be a good sport about these things, but the problem with having so much candy in the house is that we eat it, because it is here. When it eventually runs out, or more often we forget about it, it stops being a problem.
But toward the end of last week, I started feeling a little over the candy. Instead of dumping treats in the trash, we started leaning toward other sweet things.
When the kids asked for a treat (or I felt like one myself) I tried offering up something slightly healthier but still sweet, like granola, muffins or homemade cookies.
How about a few of these:
Instead of a few of these:
I also made up a big batch of rice pudding using agave, which doesn’t cause a blood sugar spike the way candy does.
Our favorite recipe uses arborio rice, which makes the pudding extra smooth and creamy.
1 cup arborio rice
2 cups water
1 tsp light olive oil
a pinch of sea salt
3 cups almond milk
1 tsp vanilla
6 to 8 tbsp agave
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
In a medium pot, bring 2 cups of water plus olive oil and salt to a boil. Add rice and cook, stirring frequently. In a separate large pot over medium heat, warm milk, vanilla, agave and spices. When rice is cooked, add to warm milk mixture and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook until pudding thickens. Chill and serve.
How are you handling the week after Halloween at your house?
Good Old Fashioned Chicken Stock
November 4, 2011 at 6:00 am
It was more than a year ago now that a very vegetarian girl asked a couple of Traditional Foods loving friends how the heck to make chicken stock.
The process had never really interested me before, because as a long-time vegetarian, I very rarely had a chicken carcass lying around.
But then because of some food allergies and restrictions, our diet changed pretty drastically, and we started having chickens appear in the kitchen. Still a vegetarian myself, I somehow felt better about using the whole bird.
And so, I began making chicken stock from scratch a couple of times a month.
Do you make stock? Are you wondering why anyone would bother?
It turns out that the stuff is pretty darn healthy, if you are carnivorous. A lot of those old wives’ tales about chicken soup helping with healing really might have some scientific merit.
And around my house, three out of the four of us really like it. It is a great base for soup, of course, and can come in handy for sauces and risotto too.
What I learned from those Traditional Food friends is the important step is adding a tablespoon of vinegar to draw out the minerals from the bone (I know — this from a girl who has shunned eggs and dairy in the past). Also, the gelatin you see floating to the top really is the good stuff, so go ahead and share that with all involved.
An optional step is roasting the carcass. I don’t, but I do enlist the help of little chicken pickers like one friend suggested in order to get all the meat off the bones.
I am still adjusting to our new diet, which seems to be ever evolving anyway. But if I am going to buy chicken, I want it humanely raised, antibiotic-free and organically fed. I also want to use every bit of it.
Homemade Chicken Stock
Chicken carcass, picked clean (roasted or not)
Fresh filtered water
1/2 of a large onion
3 carrots, washed but not peeled
2 celery stalks
a large bunch of parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp distilled white vinegar
In a large pot, add all ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 4 hours or as long as you can. Drain and transfer to jars. We do freeze ours for later use, or refrigerate it if we are going to make soup the next day.
Pumpkin Seeds Three Ways
October 25, 2011 at 6:00 am
One of our favorite Halloween traditions here is to carve pumpkins and then roast the seeds.
It’s a yearly celebration that began even before our children were born, way back before we knew that pumpkin seeds are a really healthy treat.
They are packed with magnesium and have a hearty dose of zinc too. And they are just really fun and festive to make.
Each year, we try to come up with some new and different ways to serve our seeds.
We begin with this basic recipe, and then add various seasonings to the bowl to coat the seeds.
This year’s winners were:
- Pumpkin Spice Pumpkin Seeds, flavored with pumpkin pie spice blend and a little evaporated cane juice in place of the salt.
- Taco Seeds, coated with cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper and salt
- Garden Seeds (Owen’s very own creation) seasoned with garlic and celery salts plus oregano and parsley.
All were yummy and fun, and disappeared faster than a ghost at sunrise!
Do you have a favorite way to flavor your pumpkin seeds?
Apple Pie with a Homemade Coconut Oil Crust
October 18, 2011 at 6:00 am
Last year at this time, we were busy cooking up a lot of fall treats minus dairy and wheat.
But I couldn’t quite figure out how to make a dairy-free, healthy crust.
This year, I gave substituting coconut oil a try, and it worked really well. I also used coconut oil inside the pie where the butter is supposed to be!
This pie baked up perfectly. The crust was light and flaky, and definitely worth making again. The crust is a little harder to roll out, but putting it into two pieces of parchment paper made it easier.
Dairy-Free, Wheat-Free Apple Pie
2 1/2 cups white spelt flour
4 tsp evaporated cane juice
1/4 tsp sea salt
12 tablespoons of coconut oil
1 large egg
In the bowl of a food processor, mix flour, evaporated cane juice and salt. Pulse a few times. Add in coconut oil and pulse to combine, about 10 times. Add the egg and pulse a few more times. Add two tablespoons of cold water and continue to pulse until dough holds together when pinched. You may need to add another tablespoon or two of cold water, but the dough should remain fairly dry and not turn into a ball.
Fold dough into a disk and wrap in parchment paper. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
2 tbsp lemon juice
about 3 pounds apples (we used 6 large Jonamacs), peeled, cored and sliced
2/3 cup evaporated cance juice
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
cinnamon and sugar for sprinkling
Roll out half the dough between pieces of parchment paper and place in pie pan. In a bowl, toss apples with lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour apple mixture into pie crust. Dot with coconut oil. Roll out second pie crust and cover pie. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar (we used Vanilla Sugar). Make a small hole to vent.
Bake at 425 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes. If top crust start to brown, cover it with a piece of aluminum foil.
Friday Tea: Apple Bread
October 14, 2011 at 6:00 am
And so, we wrap up the little loaves in aluminum foil and pack them in our basket and we hit the road.
It’s a mobile tea time. Because this week we are sharing it with friends and family. We visit the library, and the friends we don’t see much, and we drop off apple bread and a little good cheer.
It’s becoming a tradition now. Every year. It’s becoming one of my very favorite things.
Adapted from New Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant
1 cup light olive oil
1/2 cup applesauce
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups whole spelt flour
1 cup white spelt flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cardamom
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla
3 tablespoons almond milk
3 cups chopped apples
1 cup chopped walnuts
We double and even triple this recipe and it works great. This bread also freezes really well (for later distribution).
We like to make this in mini loaf pans, although round cake pans work really well when we are making it to keep.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use coconut or olive oil to grease pans and sprinkle with sesame seeds to coat.
In a very large bowl, combine oil and brown sugar and mix well. Add apple sauce, eggs, vanilla and almond milk and combine well.
In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients including flours, baking soda, baking powder and spice. Add dry ingredient mix to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Add chopped apples and nuts and stir in.
Fill cake pans 2/3 of the way full.
Cook small cake pans for 20 to 25 minutes or until bread is cooked through. Cook in round cake pans for up to 35 minutes or until knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
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Fall Flavor: Two Cool-Morning Autumn Smoothies
October 7, 2011 at 6:00 am
Is it just me, or do traditional frozen smoothies loose their flair a little when the weather gets cooler?
I just don’t feel like an icy-cold breakfast to start my day this time of year.
But these two fall smoothies are delicious for breakfast or an afternoon snack. And neither is very cold — in fact they feature warming spices — so they are just right on a blustery autumn day.
The secret added bonus of these smoothies is a small piece of fresh ginger in each recipe. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-viral. You can store fresh ginger in the freezer and just chop off a small piece when you need it. Peel it using the side of a spoon.
Apple Pie Alamode in a Glass Smoothie
1/2 cup milk (we use almond milk)
2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 tablespoon agave or honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 small piece ginger
1 small splash of vanilla
Pumpkin Spice Smoothie
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup milk or milk alternative (we use almond milk)
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses (or honey is fine too)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 small piece ginger
a small shake of ground cloves
Blend these smoothies up and serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon. Fall doesn’t have to be so cold after all!