Monday, October 19, 2015

Paleo Pumpkin Spice Marshmallows w/ REAL Pumpkin


I'm SO excited to share this recipe with you!  Like many others, I'm slightly obsessed with all things Pumpkin in the Autumn.  Since I adore making fluffy, magical marshmallows using only real food ingredients that are actually good for you, of course I had to create a Pumpkin version.  It wasn't enough to just add pumpkin pie spice.  These have REAL Pumpkin puree, grassfed gelatin, raw, unfiltered honey and organic maple syrup.  They are light and fluffy and they taste like pumpkin pie.  (Hello instant Pumpkin Spice coffee!).  They will last for weeks in an airtight container in the fridge.  You can see some of the process photos here and an amazing Strawberry version here.  Happy Fall Y'all!!!

Equipment essentials...


-Stand Mixer w/ Whisk Attachment
-Candy Thermometer

Ingredients

  • 1/2 C Pumpkin Puree (canned or fresh...NOT Pumpkin Pie Filling)
  • 4 tbsp (1/4 C) Gelatin (grass-fed is best for health reasons)
  • 3/4 C Cold Water
  • 1/2 C Honey (raw, unfiltered, local if possible)
  • 2 C Maple (pure, organic)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp Maple extract
  • 1/4 C Water (room temp is fine)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • *optional* 1/4 tsp Cardamom (so YUM, like Pumpkin Chai but, children may not like it).
  • Soy-free Shortening (for greasing pan(s)
  • Apx. 6 Tb.Sp. Arrowroot -or- Tapioca Flour for dusting

Directions

  1. First coat a 13 x 9 pan or (2) 8x8 pans with Organic soy-free shortening and coat with a light dusting of arrowroot or tapioca powder.  (I prefer arrowroot but, either will work fine).  Set this aside.
  2. Bloom your gelatin, 3/4 c Cold Water & Pumpkin Puree in the mixing bowl on a stand mixer.  I like to give it a quick whisking to prevent any clumps from forming.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk the 1/4 C of water, with the honey, maple, and vanilla in a pot and turn heat to med/high.
  4. Insert your candy thermometer (this is a MUST) and wait for the temperature to reach the softball stage (apx. 240 degrees).  I like to whisk the mixture as it gets close to 240 to ensure the temperature is even throughout the pot. *NOTE: Every time I have made mallows, I noticed it gets up to 220 fairly fast and then it hangs out there for what might feel like forever before finally climbing to 240.  So don't fret or increase the heat, it WILL get to 240.*
  5. Once it reaches 240, immediately remove from the heat, turn your mixer on low (allow the gelatin to break up a bit) and slowly pour the mixture into the mixing bowl with the bloomed pumpkin gelatin.
  6. Next, turn the mixer all the way up.  "Aerating".   *If you don't have a splash-guard, hold a towel around the mixer to prevent it from splashing it all over the walls until the mixture thickens to the point of not splashing out.
  7. You will see a beautiful pale peach colored fluff start to form w/in 5-7 min.  When peaks just start to form, add your spices.
  8. Your fluff is done when it forms stiff peaks.(about 10-15 min.)
  9. Scoop your fluff into your prepared pan(s) and smooth out corner to corner.   Cover and let cure for at least 8 hours.  (This Pumpkin version needs a longer curing time).  If I'm making mallows for an occasion, I like to make it the night before and then they can sit all night.
  10. Lightly coat your knife with some shortening and cut your mallows into cubes.  No need to be precise about this.  (There is a charm to the look of rustic, homemade marshmallows.)
  11. Put mallow cubes into a large ziplock bag (I do half at a time to make it easier) and toss with a small amount (2 Tb.Sp.) of arrowroot or tapioca flour.  (You can use organic cornstarch too but, then it wont be Paleo).
  12. ENJOY!  (Just try not to eat them all in one sitting because this recipe makes around 90 mallows.)  ;)

Easy Paleo Marshmallows


I have previously posted about my love for making homemade marshmallows.  It's magic I tell ya!  The first time I ever made homemade mallows was Easter 2014 and I was hooked.  That batch was only sweetened with honey which, most of us loved but, a few people were not 100% sold on the strong honey flavor.  So, I created this recipe using a 50/50 blend of honey and maple which really cuts down on that distinct honey flavor but, still keeps them refined sugar free and so far, everyone who has tried this recipe loves them.  When I posted my Paleo Strawberry Burst Mallow recipe, I mentioned that omitting the strawberries would give you plain mallows but, I figured, it actually needed a post of it's very own.  These not only taste great but, they are filled with goodness.  Grassfed gelatin, pure, organic maple syrup & raw, local honey.  Go compare that to your common mallow found in the store

These will last for weeks if stored in an airtight container in the fridge (We are going on just over 2 weeks with the ones in our fridge and they are still, light, fluffy and full of flavor.)  They are great alone or in a cup of cocoa or, in my case, a cup of coffee.  (I usually do just 2 but, 3 looked prettier for the picture.  haha!).  When we roasted them over the fire, they did melt pretty fast but, the kids still loved making S'mores with them.

I was intimidated the first time I tried making mallows but, then I realized how much fun it was to make them.  And if you love all things Autumn and PUMPKIN then, just wait until you try my new Paleo Pumpkin Spice Mallows with REAL Pumpkin!

To get started, you just need some equipment essentials on hand first...

-Stand Mixer with Whisk Attachment  (from my research, hand mixers generally wont work because the motor is not strong enough and will generally burn out).
-Candy Thermometer (this is a MUST)
-5 qt. Pot (the mixture tends to boil over in a smaller pot)

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp (1/4 C) Gelatin (grass-fed is best for health reasons)
  • 1 C Honey (raw, unfiltered, local if possible)
  • 1 C Maple (pure, organic)
  • 1 tsp.Vanilla
  • 1 C cold water
  • 1/2 C water (room temp is fine)
  • Soy-free Shortening (for greasing pan(s)
  • Apx. 6 Tb.Sp. Arrowroot or Tapioca Flour for dusting

Directions

  1. First coat a 13 x 9 pan or 2 8x8 pans with Organic soy-free shortening and coat with a light dusting of arrowroot or tapioca powder.  (I prefer arrowroot but, either will work fine).  Set this aside.
  2. Bloom your gelatin & 1 C cold water in the mixing bowl on a stand mixer.  I like to give it a quick whisking to prevent any clumps from forming.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk the 1/2 C of water, with the honey, maple, and vanilla in a pot and turn heat to med/high.
  4. Insert your candy thermometer (this is a MUST) and wait for the temperature to reach the softball stage (apx. 240 degrees).  I like to whisk the mixture as it gets close to 240 to ensure the temperature is even throughout the pot. *NOTE: Every time I have made mallows, I noticed it gets up to 220 fairly fast and then it hangs out there for what might feel like forever before finally climbing to 240.  So don't fret or increase the heat, it WILL get to 240.*
  5. Once it reaches 240, immediately remove from the heat, turn your mixer on low (allow the gelatin to break up a bit) and slowly pour the mixture into the mixing bowl with the bloomed gelatin.
  6. Next, turn the mixer all the way up.  "Aerating".   *If you don't have a splash-guard, hold a towel around the mixer to prevent it from splashing it all over the walls until the mixture thickens to the point of not splashing out.
  7. You will see a beautiful white fluff start to form w/in 5-7 min.  And it will be thick and fluffy anywhere from 10-15 min.
  8. Your fluff is done when it forms stiff peaks.
  9. Scoop your fluff into your prepared pan(s) and smooth out corner to corner.   Cover and let cure for at least 6 hours.  If I'm making mallows for an occasion, I like to make it the night before and then they can sit all night.
  10. Lightly coat your knife with some shortening and cut your mallows into cubes.  No need to be precise about this.  (There is a charm to the look of rustic, homemade marshmallows.)
  11. Put mallow cubes into a large ziplock bag (I do half at a time to make it easier) and toss with a small amount (2 Tb.Sp.) of arrowroot or tapioca flour.  (You can use organic cornstarch too but, then it wont be Paleo).
  12. ENJOY!  (Just try not to eat them all in one sitting because this recipe makes around 90 mallows.)  ;)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

I am, I can, I Ought, I will FREE Printables



A while back ago I shared a post about our schoolroom and then pinned different parts of the post on Pinterest.  One of my most highly re-pinned posts has been the I am, I can, I, ought, I will signs (despite the poor photo quality) and I have even received a few requests on my blog for a printable.  So, here they are!  I pray these bless your family.  Come back and share pictures of how you use them in your home.


 Get the Chalkboard signs HERE

Get the quotes with scripture HERE
A couple of notes:  I originally just printed them out on extra heavy card stock and taped them to the wall.  That worked just perfect really.  I used yellow because, yellow makes me happy.  :)  And they were up there for over a year until we moved.  With our recent move, I want to get them back on our walls but, this time, I'm planing to make them into something more permanent so that if we ever move again, I can easily take them with me and re-hang them.  Once I get that project done, I'll update the photo here and possibly a link with a tutorial.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Combining Five in a Row & Charlotte Mason (2 FREE Planner Downloads)


I have a rather long story about how I felt God leading me toward using Five in a Row in our homeschool this coming year and that's for another day and another time.  But, in the meantime, I wanted to get my new planner up on the blog for sharing since a few people have been waiting for it.   This planner is a product of different elements that I gleaned from several different planners I have seen as well as my own Charlotte Mason specific planner from last year, in order to create something completely custom for my family. A combination of Charlotte Mason, Before Five in a Row and Five in a Row. (I'm also including a version for those who only do FIAR that omits the B4FIAR specific items...this version would also work well with BYFIAR).  

The first page is my favorite.  A place for you to list out a brief battle plan (things you hope to see accomplished this week) and a "fighter verse" (a verse you will cling to and meditate on throughout your week), a place for planing or keeping record of Hospitality & Outreach opportunities (Includes Missions and Service Projects), a place to record a prayer focus for the week to use during your Morning/Daily Basket Prayer Time.  A place to make note of memorable moments and achievements throughout the week and my most favorite, a place to record evidences of God's grace, provision, faithfulness etc.

 The next page is your Pre-planing spot, a place to quickly glance at your Bible/Character focus (a general overview of Biblical examples and Character Qualities within the book you are rowing and if you wish, the memory verse of the week), Artist/Composer focus (more on that below), a place to record general notes, additional activities not listed in the FIAR manual (some families don't like adding anything extra and some families love it), a place to record Invitation to Play and Sensory Bin ideas. (So many fun ideas on Pinterest! Optional but, something I personally want to do).  There is also a place to list supplies you will need, library books to place on hold (you will want to do this 1-2 weeks in advanced, especially with seasonal books), field trip ideas, the letter of the week and spelling and/or vocabulary words.  In our homeschool, we use copywork (and eventually prepared dictation) for spelling and grammar so, I don't give my child lists of words to memorize and then test her on them and we don't do vocabulary memorization so, you may wonder, how do I plan to use this little box...  I plan to make a list of words that I know are new to my daughter to work them into her copywork (spelling) and also work them into other readings (vocabulary through context) or any word she struggled with during a reading lesson.  But, in your homeschool, you may prefer giving lists of words to memorize for spelling or vocabulary.  So, it's up to you how you choose to us that box. 

A Note on Artist/Composer Study:  This is where some Charlotte Mason comes in because Artist/Composer study is a big part of any CM homeschool but, there is more than one approach to doing it.  FIAR is Unit Study based where as Charlotte Mason is not.  To do it more inline with FIAR, then take the unit study approach.  Glean from the book you are rowing (geographical location, time period, music instrument or style mentioned, artistic style used in illustration etc.) to choose your artist and composer.  If  you are wanting to do it more inline with Charlotte Mason Methods then you may just want to focus on 3 Artists and Composers per year (1 of each per trimester) as suggested at Simply Charlotte Mason.  Either way, the goal is just exposing them to the artists/composers, laying out the feast if you will.  You're not looking for fact or date memorization here.  Just sweet, simple exposure.  This video of Sonya from Simply Charlotte Mason explaining picture study is a wonderful resource.  I highly encourage you to watch it to see how simple it is.  Reading picture books on the artist is optional.  And here is where you can learn how simple Composer study can be.
 This is how these 2 pages should open up in your planner...


 Next up is the planing grid.  On the first page I have included a place to track Trimester to Date (TTD) and Year to Date (YTD) attendance since that's a requirement in my state.  There is a space for Daily Basket (also known as Morning Basket).  Then there are the various subjects (some covered through FIAR and others are not like Reading/Phonics, Math, Foreign Language etc).  I personally use the subject planning grid more as a place to record what we did as opposed to planing out every little thing I want to do.  This is what works best for us since no day ever seems to go exactly as I planned. I learned from experience that I don't like erasing and re-writing my plans every. single. day. Haha! But, you may prefer planning out your entire week and checking off as you go along.  The 2nd page includes a place at the top to keep track of your child's independent reading ventures as well as a place to keep track of field trips, recipes, handicrafts etc.  I have also included a row for Saturday and Sunday since learning never really ends.  If you do something/anything educational over the weekend, record it so it counts towards your attendance fulfillment.

A view of the pages in the planner...

I tried to set the PDF's up to make printing as easy as possible but, be sure to read through the Printing notes in the cover letter and omit the cover letter from your print job. I pray that this planner will be a blessing for every family who chooses to download it.  Happy Rowing!

Free Downloads:

If you are using BOTH Before Five in a Row AND Five in a Row click HERE

If you are just using Five in a Row and/or Beyond Five in a Row click HERE

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Simply Perfect Guacamole & Creamy Avocado Citrus Dressing - Two Recipes Out of One



I'm sure there are a million different guacamole recipes out there but, I generally always stick with my super easy and simple recipe because my entire family loves it... even the kiddos.  The guacamole is so quick and easy to make and one batch never seems to be enough for this family of 4.  It's simple, fresh and has a nice zip to it.  It's so simple in fact, that I never really thought it worth of sharing on the blog.  But then, my dressing was born...

I'm always trying to come up with super simple, tasty dressings out of what I have on hand since I stopped purchasing dressing off the shelves over 2 years ago.  It just seemed that, no matter how "healthy", "natural" or Organic a dressing was, it always had at least one (if not more) ingredient that I would rather do without. So one day, after whipping up some fresh guac and a salad I was racking my brain for what type of dressing I wanted, I opened to fridge to see a bottle of OJ staring at me.  And that's how the Creamy Citrus Avocado Dressing was born.  This dressing is one of my favorites!  It's quick, simple and it will keep well in the fridge for 5-7 days.  Just shake well before using.  It's fresh, slightly tangy and creamy.  And it's vegan & paleo friendly all at the same time.  (Carnivores and Herbivores unite!)  It will work wonderfully on a variety of salad and/or veggie combinations.  My toddler actually loves zucchini and yellow squash diced up and tossed with a bit of this dressing. (SCORE!)


 

Simply Perfect Guacamole

  • 2 large room temp Avocados (make sure they are soft and ripe)
  • Juice from 1 large lime (or 2 small)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed (3-4 if you want a little more heat)
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Mash everything together really well with a fork and enjoy!  
(See, told you it was super simple...but, sometimes simple is SO refreshing).  Reserve 1/2 C of this for the dressing recipe below.


Creamy Avocado Citrus Dressing

Ingredients:

  • Apx. 1/2 C Orange Juice (I like the medium or high pulp versions)
  • Apx. 1/2 C prepared Simply Perfect Guacamole (recipe above)
  • Generous sprinkle of salt
  • Apx. 1/2 tsp of Kirkland Signature Organic No-Salt Seasoning (optional, found at Costco but, if you can get it...I highly recommend it)
OR
  • Apx. 1/4 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper  (if you can't get the Organic No-Salt Seasoning)

Directions:

  1. Start with Apx. 1/4 C of Orange Juice into the blender and add apx. 1/2 C of the prepared guacamole.  
  2. Add the seasonings and blend on high to emulsify.  
  3. It will be very thick so drizzle in apx. 1/4 C more of OJ (you may need a bit more...you want it to be thick and creamy yet, easily pourable).
  4. Enjoy!!!

That's all there is to it!  I hope you enjoy the recipes.  Come back and let me know if you try it out.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Paleo Sweet Potato & Apricot Hummus - Bean, Dairy & Gluten Free


It started with my little nursling, my son, who has suffered tummy issues from day one.  I was craving hummus but, I knew that chickpeas and probably even lentils would not sit will with him so, I set out to make a bean free hummus that still included protein.  And this is what I came up with.  I have served this at many gatherings and everyone seems to love it. I have no idea why it has taken me SO insanely long to post this recipe when I created it about 2 years ago.  I'm such a lazy blogger.  Which is why I have no real followers.  Ha!  I'm okay with that.  Really though, most of the time I'm just super busy and it has nothing to do with laziness.  ;)  Roasting the peppers and soaking the apricots certainly takes time but, trust me on this one...you don't want to leave the topping off.  It really makes the hummus amazing.  This hummus is smooth, creamy and flavorful and rather than just using corn chips or crackers, it goes great with celery, carrot sticks and even apple slices.  And if your not a fan of curry, I urge you to give this a whirl anyways because it's very subtle and I had a friend who was not a fan of anything curry yet, they LOVED this hummus.  I hope you give this recipe a try and let me know what you think.

Sweet Potato Apricot Hummus w/ Roasted Red Pepper Topping

Ingredients for the Sweet Potato Apricot Hummus

  • 20 Dried Apricots (soaked) *see directions, 10 reserved for topping mixture*
  • 3 Large Sweet Potatoes (peeled, cubed and steamed)
  • 1/2 C Almond Butter (creamy)
  • 1/4 C Lemon Juice
  • 1 Large Clove of Garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Curry
  • 1/8 C Olive or Avocado Oil

Directions for Hummus

  1. Cover 20 dried apricots with very hot water (I use my Keurig) until water is just above apricots.  Let these soak at least 20 min, you can work on everything else including roasting your peppers in the meantime. *10 of these will be used in the topping mixture and some, possibly all of the liquid will be used in the hummus*
  2. Peel, chop and steam your sweet potatoes and add to your food processor.
  3. Add the almond butter, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, curry, oil and 10 soaked apricots (liquid reserved) to the food processor.
  4. Puree and slowly pour in the apricot liquid until mixture is thick and smooth.  (Sometimes I only use half but, if my potatoes are very large, I will generally use all of the liquid.)
  5. Place in a serving dish making a slight indent in the center for the topping.  (I like to separate this into 2 serving dishes for more even distribution of the topping.)
  6. If topping is not done yet, start chilling in the fridge.

Ingredients for Roasted Red Pepper Topping

  • 2 Sweet Red Bell Peppers, roasted, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 10 Soaked Apricots (see directions above), finely diced
  • 1/2 C Sunflower Seeds
  • 1/2 C Hemp Seeds or finely chopped pine nuts
  • Apx. 1/4-1/2 C Olive or Avocado Oil

Directions for Topping

  1. Roast, peel and finely dice your peppers.  I learned how to roast peppers here.  You may want to make extras while your at it because they are SO good!
  2. Add all ingredients, except oil to a bowl and mix well
  3. First add 1/4 of the oil and a little more if needed.  You want the topping moist but, not drowned in oil.
  4. Spoon into a nice looking circle in the center of the hummus.
  5. Chill completed hummus with topping in the fridge for at least 4 hours.  I like to make it the night before events.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Paleo Strawberry Burst Marshmallows - Red-Dye Free


I love making marshmallows!  There is something about watching that hot bubbling liquid transform to a thick white fluff right before my eyes.  (Or in the case of Paleo mallows, a thick off-white fluff).  They really are not that hard to make and they taste 1000x better than the store-bough variety.  Not to mention, you can rest easy knowing the ingredients you are using are also much healthier.  (But, not so healthy to count as a meal or eat ALL. DAY. LONG.).  ;)  This recipe is for Strawberry Burst (so named because they literally burst with strawberry flavor) however, you can omit the berries and just have plain mallows (though your peaks won't get quite as stiff, it will still set into mallows).  I want to try this out with other freeze dried fruit like blueberries, bananas etc.  If you try it before me, leave a note here and let me know.  Please forgive my photos.  I will update as soon as I'm able with better photos.  I was just excited about this recipe and wanted to post it sooner than later.  So, let's get on with the recipe shall we?

Paleo Strawberry Burst Marshmallows

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp (1/4 C) Gelatin (grass-fed is best for health reasons)
  • 1 C Honey (raw, unfiltered, local if possible)
  • 1 C Maple (pure, organic)
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla
  • 1 C cold water
  • 1/2 C water (room temp is fine)
  • 2 OZ. Freeze-dried strawberries (crushed in a food processor)
  • Soy-free, Organic Shortening for greasing pans
  • Apx. 6 Tb.Sp. arrowroot or tapioca flour for dusting

Directions

  1. First coat an 9 x 13 pan or 2 8x8 pans with shortening and coat with a light dusting of arrowroot or tapioca flour.  Set this aside.
  2. Bloom your gelatin & 1 C cold water in the mixing bowl on a stand mixer.  I like to give it a quick whisking to prevent any clumps from forming.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk the 1/2 C of water, with the honey, maple, and vanilla in a pot and turn heat to med/high.
  4. Insert your candy thermometer (this is a MUST) and wait for the temperature to reach the softball stage (apx. 240 degrees).  I like to whisk the mixture as it gets close to 240 to ensure the temperature is even throughout the pot.
  5. Once it reaches 240, immediately remove from the heat, turn your mixer on low (allow the gelatin to break up a bit) and slowly pour the mixture into the mixing bowl with the bloomed gelatin.
  6. Next, turn the mixer all the way up.  "Aerating".   *If you don't have a splash-guard, hold a towel around the mixer to prevent it from splashing it all over the walls until the mixture thickens to the point of not splashing out.
  7. You will see a beautiful white fluff start to form w/in 5-7 min.
  8. It will be thick and fluffy anywhere from 10-15 min.  This is the time that you want to add the ground strawberry powder until it's mixed really well.  You should have a beautiful, pastel pink color.  Go ahead and take a taste...it's SO good and BURSTING with strawberry flavor.  :)  (unless your keeping them plain of course). 
  9. Once it forms stiff peaks, scoop your fluff into your prepared pan/container and smooth out corner to corner.   Cover and let cure for at least 6 hours.  If I'm making mallows for an occasion, I like to make it the night before and then they can sit all night.
  10. Lightly coat your knife with some shortening and cut your mallows into about 1 inch cubes
  11. Put cubes into a large ziplock (I do half at a time to make it easier) and toss with a small amount of arrowroot or tapioca flour.
  12. ENJOY!