Raised from Scratch

growing up outside the box: alternatives to processed food and television

Sweet ‘n Spicy! January 2, 2014

chili coconut cup

chili powder coconut cinnamon

almond-butter cup

Two takes on chocolate cups here: almond butter and spicy chili coconut. Both are fabulous and it’s fun to make multiple types. Variety is always appreciated in this house. I’m sometimes guilty of making small desserts because they’re easy to pop into my mouth before a-certain-someone-whose-chocolate-intake-should-be-limited walks into the kitchen and demands one as well. I try to be sneaky, but it rarely works (trying to sneak food is like trying to sneak a quickie – kids ALWAYS know and will ALWAYS interrupt no matter how preoccupied they seemed beforehand). Anyways, my “limiting” little Ella’s chocolate is often simply drawing the line at no chocolate right before bed. It’s easier to justify frequent indulgences when you only buy good seriously dark chocolate, or make it yourself. This is one of the easiest desserts I’ve ever made. EVER. TRY IT!! Make enough to share, and remember that extra spicy chocolate is far less likely to be gobbled up by a child. (Heh, guess I am still a little sneaky.)

Almond Butter Chocolate Cups

Makes about 15 mini cups

¼ cup coconut oil (liquid) – warm over low heat if your oil is cool and solid

¼ cup cocoa powder or raw cacao powder – sifted!

3-4 T. pure maple syrup

Unsweetened almond butter

Whisk together in small bowl until smooth.

Fill about 1/3rd of the mini candy papers with the warm chocolate. Place in freezer 5 minutes, until chocolate is set. Place a small amount of almond butter (¼ – ½ teaspoon) on cooled chocolate, and cover with additional warm chocolate. Return to freezer 10 minutes or until chocolate is set. Best stored in the freezer.

DONE! Welcome to chocolate nirvana.

Taste buds craving a kick like mine? Try this…

Spicy Chili Chocolate

Mix coconut oil, cocoa powder and maple syrup as instructed above. Forget the almond butter and instead add ¼ t. high quality chili powder and a generous dash of ground cinnamon to your warm chocolate before filling your mini candy papers. Sprinkle a tiny amount of the chili powder and unsweetened desiccated coconut (optional) before freezing if you like the look of it, or want to make it easy to identify which chocolate you’re about to eat, because I definitely recommend getting creative with this recipe and adding whatever spices excite you.

Thanks to This Rawsome Vegan Life for posting amazing desserts such as the Give Me Chocolate Almond Butter Cups which inspired this post. This site rocks so check it out if you’re looking for more healthy inspiration!

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Easy Peasy Clay Ornaments December 21, 2012

food dye coloring before drying

heart clay ornament

assorted homemade clay ornaments

We’ve been making these ornaments for weeks now – all from one batch of clay. Apparently the clay mixture will stay malleable so long as it is refrigerated. I haven’t tested this to the full extent and don’t know at what point you’d have to throw it out, but we’ve had some clay for over two weeks that we can still pull out of the refrigerator any time we feel like making an ornament or two. It definitely makes a good project to keep on hand for kids over the holiday break, and it’s one in which even toddlers can participate.

To color these ornaments I experimented with food dye (which I never use in food) and tempera paint. The food dye was fun to work with and use as a watercolor paint, but the colors fade a lot after the clay dries, so ultimately I recommend using real paints in place of, or in addition to food dye. Glitter glue worked quite nicely to jazz up some of the plain ornaments, and we got creative using wires, string and beads to make hangers.

multicolored paint swirl ornament

cooking christmas clay ornaments 1

To make clay, combine in a medium saucepan:

2 cups baking soda (1 box)

1 cup cornstarch

1  1/2 cups water

 

  • Stir frequently with a wooden spoon while cooking over medium heat about 10 minutes, then stir constantly another 5 minutes until dough is too thick to stir with a spoon. Remove from heat.
  • Once cool enough to touch, knead dough by hand until smooth, about 3-5 minutes. If you want dyed clay, add food coloring while kneading. Keep wrapped in plastic until ready to use. Store any clay intended for future use tightly wrapped in the refrigerator.

cooking christmas clay ornaments 2

flourless clay after kneading

Above: What clay should look like after kneading

Below: Ella mixes green food coloring into her clay

making green flourless clay

  • To cut ornaments: gather cookie cutters, a rolling pin, some extra cornstarch to dust cutting surface, something to poke a hole in your ornament (toothpick or chopstick work well), and a cookie sheet to place ornaments to dry. You can roll your clay directly on the plastic wrap you kept it moist in, or a cutting board works well.
  • Generously dust work surface with cornstarch. Roll out clay to desired thickness (no thinner than 1/4 inch and I’d recommend erring on the thick side because we broke a few of ours), cut with cookie cutters, re-roll extra clay and repeat as many times as necessary. Use cornstarch to keep cookie cutters and rolling pin from sticking to the clay. After forming ornaments, poke a hole in each before allowing to dry.
  • Ornaments will take between 1 and 2 days to fully dry if left at room temperature! Or you can bake them at 250 F for about 1 hour. 

cutting ornaments

cut ornaments left to dry

Above: poking holes in ornaments left to dry on cookie sheet
Below: Ella uses food coloring to “paint” her ornaments before allowing them to dry (color will fade after drying)

painting with food dye

painting with tempera

Above: Ella uses tempera paints for dried snowflakes

assorted clay ornaments heart stamps

Above and below: what painting with food coloring looks like while clay is still damp

Ella's ornaments dyed with food coloring

yellow and red circle ornaments snowflake cutouts

glitter glue ornaments

Above: ornaments were decorated with silver glitter glue after allowing painted ornaments to dry completely

2012 snowflake ornament on tree

Above and below: stamps can be used to imprint ornaments while clay is still damp. I wrapped green ribbon around an empty ribbon spool and used crafting wire to hang this ornament.

2012 snowflake ornament

Below: assorted ornaments with wire hangers and decorative beads

line of snowflake ornaments

 

Original inspiration for clay ornaments from: Busy Bee Kids Crafts

 

Gettin’ Crafty For Christmas! December 4, 2012

SONY DSC

button snowflake ornament

It can be hard to find crafts that are truly appropriate for a toddler’s attention span. I tend to plan too much and end up helping more than I anticipated, but this ornament is not overly ambitious, and it was recently tested on 4 toddlers while I hosted a Christmas crafts and cocoa playdate. I do wish I hadn’t been so wrapped up with hosting that I neglected to take pictures of the kids’ snowflake creations because they were simply beautiful, with globs of glitter glue, colorful pom-poms, sparkly gold and silver stars, bells and assorted buttons. Here I just have two ornaments to show you, mine and Ella’s, though we might make more before Christmas arrives because this craft project is so easy and so much fun.

dating ornaments with stamps

I hope to someday have a tree full of homemade and memory filled ornaments adorning our tree, so dating them seemed appropriate. Our set of little alphabet and number stamps have come in so handy this past year – from making birthday cards, practicing the alphabet, and making impressions on clay to now dating our lovely popsicle snowflakes.

homemade popsicle snowflake ornaments on tree

Step 1: Glue 3 popsicle sticks, painted or plain, into snowflake design (I used a glue-gun but craft/tacky glue should work too).

Step 2: Use craft/tacky glue to attach buttons, pom-poms, confetti, beads, bells, etc. If you want to hang the ornament from a button, leave the holes of one button exposed at one end of your snowflake.

Step 3: After allowing time for the glue to dry, tie a colorful string to your button, or glue wire or ribbon to make a hanger.

 

Mesquite Poppy Seed Cookies (Gluten-free) November 26, 2012

Do you have “secret” ingredients in your pantry? Flavors that test taste buds’ expertise and signal the brain to taste again, and again, and again to decipher the flavor? For you adventurous cookie lovers out there, I’m sharing one with you today.

Mesquite powder, explained by Essential Living Foods, where I purchase mine:

“Mesquite is a nourishing, gluten-free flour with a mild, molasses-and-caramel flavor that blends well into everything from smoothies to baking recipes. Mesquite is a hearty tree that survives in the driest climates and is traditionally thought to bring strength to those who consume it. Its powerful, nutrient dense seeds supply protein, fiber and minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc plus the amino acid lysine. With a low-glycemic index of 25, this ancient superfood is perfect for adding sweetness without spiking blood sugar.”

The molasses-caramel flavor description is pretty darn accurate, though I also explain it as a light malted cocoa sometimes. It’s unique for sure. These are sturdy cookies, great for holiday tins or any other occasion where you need a cookie that can survive long trips with the postal service. When it comes to mesquite powder a little goes a long way and the flavor is enhanced after baking, so if you taste the cookie dough and wonder if one tablespoon will be enough, believe me, it’s perfect, and the flavor will come through once they bake, inevitably provoking a “What IS that flavor?” response from tasters.

Mesquite Poppy Seed Cookies (Gluten-free)

Makes 36 cookies

4 oz unsalted butter, room temperature

2/3 cup pure maple syrup

1 t. vanilla extract

2 egg yolks

¾ t. xanthan gum

1 T. mesquite powder

1 t. baking powder

2 T. + 1 t. poppy seeds

2 cups oat flour

½ cup sorghum flour

For chocolate centers:

2-3 oz dark chocolate (such as Scharffen Berger or Baker’s)

In a large bowl, use a hand mixer at medium speed to cream the butter, then add the maple syrup and mix 2-3 minutes. Add vanilla and egg yolks, mix on low speed until combined, scraping sides and bottom of bowl.

In a small bowl combine all dry ingredients. Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition.

Chill dough for 30 minutes, then preheat oven to 350°F. Using a small cookie scoop or spoon, form cookies and place on ungreased cookie sheet 1 ½” apart. Cookies should be about 2 teaspoons in size.  Lightly coat your hands with a small amount of oat flour and gently roll each mound of dough in your hands to form a smooth ball.

Use the handle of a wooden spoon, coated with oat flour to avoid sticking, to make an indentation in the cookie dough before baking to later fill with chocolate. The indentation should be as deep as you can make it without pushing through the bottom of the cookie.

Bake at 350°F for 9 minutes, remove from oven and poke the center of the dough again (dough rises a bit during baking and you want to have enough space for chocolate). Return to oven and bake additional 2-4 minutes. Move cookies to cooling rack and allow them to cool completely before filling with chocolate.

To fill cookies: in a small heavy-bottomed pot, melt chopped chocolate over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a spatula, just until melted. Immediately remove from heat, pour or spoon chocolate into the center of each cookie. If you have extra chocolate it is great drizzled across the top as well.

Cool before storing in an air-tight container. Will keep at least one week at room temperature.

Originally inspired by “Brown Sugar Sandwich Cookies” at 101 Cookbooks

 

Cinnamon-Orange Cranberry Sauce with Medjool Dates (no refined sugar!) November 8, 2012

Pictured on Gluten-free Cinnamon Amaranth Biscuits

This probably isn’t the cranberry sauce of your childhood. If you’re looking for a traditional American cranberry sauce with lots of sugar to cover the tangy bite of fresh cranberries, this is not the recipe for your holiday meal. This recipe is designed to excite your taste-buds and challenge your concept of what a cranberry sauce should taste like. And while it doesn’t contain any refined sugar, the cinnamon, dates and brown rice syrup ensure it is still delightfully sweet. Thanks to aged balsamic vinegar, fresh orange juice, and medjool dates, I can honestly say I’ve never tasted a cranberry sauce with so many tiers of flavors. If you give it a try I suggest you have some biscuits waiting so you can start devouring this amazing sauce right away. Let it chill in the refrigerator overnight and it’s practically like jam. It’s incredible with a sharp white cheddar cheese. If ever there was a reason to stock up on fresh cranberries, this is it.

 Cinnamon-Orange Cranberry Sauce with Medjool Dates

cooks in 30 minutes

For approximately 2 cups sauce:

12 oz fresh or frozen cranberries (1 bag, rinsed in cold water if frozen)

¼ cup + 2 T. water

½ cup + 2 T. brown rice syrup

1 strip orange zest (use a peeler for one long strip)

½ cup fresh orange juice

½ T. aged balsamic vinegar (I used a 12 year barrel aged vinegar from Spicewood Food Company)

1 cinnamon stick

½ cup medjool dates, pitted, chopped (4 large dates)

1/8 t. ground cinnamon

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine water, brown rice syrup, orange zest, orange juice, vinegar and cinnamon stick. Over medium heat, cook 3 minutes. Add ½ of the cranberries and half of the dates; cook 7 minutes, or until cranberries begin to pop, stirring occasionally. Add remaining cranberries and dates and cook additional 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Using a slotted spoon, remove cranberries from the pot and place aside in a small bowl. Return pot with cooking liquid to the heat so it can reduce and thicken, adding ground cinnamon and making sure the cinnamon stick is still in the liquid (orange zest should be removed). Simmer over medium heat 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Return cranberries to the sauce, stir and allow to cool to room temperature. The sauce will thicken further as it cools. Can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for 3 days.

For approximately 4 cups sauce:

24 oz fresh or frozen cranberries (2 bags, rinsed in cold water if frozen)

¾ cup water

1 ¼ cup brown rice syrup

2 strips orange zest (use a peeler for one long strip)

1 cup fresh orange juice

1 T. aged balsamic vinegar (I used a 12 year barrel aged vinegar from Spicewood Food Company)

1 cinnamon stick

1 cup medjool dates, pitted, chopped (8 large dates)

¼ t. ground cinnamon

Inspired by a recipe from Gourmet magazine entitled Cranberry Sauce with Dates and Orange