Thursday, August 5, 2010

Save the Dough!

Goodness...it's been a while since I have posted anything. Life has sure been keeping us busy. I can't figure out for the life of me how others do it...being a Mom, selling on Etsy AND keeping up w/ their blogs on a daily basis....there just isn't enough time in the day for me.

Anwyays, I just wanted to post a quick tip for everyone who has ever tossed their kids play-dough because it got left out to long. I thought if it one day and it has worked wonderfully every single time I have done it...even on partially crunchy play-dough.

Simply wet a paper towel and squeeze out until just damp (You don't want it dripping wet). Wrap around your play-dough and place back in it's container (or any air tight container) and let sit for 1-2 weeks. Your play-dough will be like new! This works better than adding water directly to the dough because it evenly absorbs the moisture it needs instead of breaking down and getting clumpy.

So go ahead and save the dough! :)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Organic Strawberry Bread

So, many years ago DH & I were at some event where we had this delicious Strawberry Bread. The woman who brought it was kind enough to write down the recipe for me. So, I took it home, tucked it in my recipe box, never to look at it again until just recently, when I decided to organize my random collection of recipes into a binder. The woman who gave me the recipe actually wrote the date (11-8-2003) on the bottom of the page, so I have been hanging onto this recipe for nearly 7 years!!!

But, I have grown to be a much healthier eater since then so I made some very healthy modifications to the recipe after seeing how much sugar & eggs were in the recipe. I came up with, what I believe to be a delicious, guilt-free treat. This will make 2 loaves so it's great for parties or sharing...take one to your neighbor, friend or Moms Group. :)

Organic Strawberry Bread
(* = Organic)

Ingredients:
1 1/2 C Whole Wheat Flour*
1 1/2 C Unbleached Flour*
3 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 1/4 C Oil* Veg/Safflower/EVOO/Grapeseed/Almond etc (Coconut NOT recommended)
3 Eggs*
2 packs (10 oz.) Frozen Strawberries* THAWED
1/2 C Agave Nectar* (I used light amber)
1/2 C Honey (I used local Orange Blossom)
1 C unsweetend Applesauce*

Directions:
(Pre-heat to 350)
-Combine Dry in a Med/large bowl
-In a separate bowl, mix (hand or stand mixer) on med. speed until an almost pureed consistency.
-Combine the rest of the wet ingredients w/ the strawberries
-Gently fold into dry mixture until just moistened through. (Do NOT over-mix)
-Lightly grease 2 loaf pans
-Bake for 70 Min.

The smell wafting through the air will tempt you to try a hot steamy slice right out of the oven. However, be aware that while it will taste amazing, the texture (immediatly out of the oven) will seem almost soggy....so, let it cool completly for the best tasting experience. It should have a slightly dense yet, oh so moist texture. And no one but you will ever know this had whole wheat flour and that it has a low glycemic index. :)

Hope you enjoy this one as much as I do!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dark Cherry Mocha Cake

Inspired by Starbuck's limited edition Dark Cherry Mocha Coffee, I created this cake for my friend Shannon's Birthday. She is a coffee fanatic like myself & this was, by far one of our most favorite flavors to date. (So sad that it's limited edition!!!).

It starts with my Chocolate Covered Cherry filling nestled between two layers of Dark Cherry Mocha Cake & adorned with Mocha Butter Cream frosting, homemade whipped cream & fresh cherries. Are you drooling yet? Then you better get baking. :)

(The * means I used Organic...but, you don't have to.)

Dark Cherry Mocha Cake

For the Dark Cherry Mocha Cake:

Preheat: 350
Prep: 15 min
Bake: 30 - 35 min.

Ingredients:
-3 C. Flour*
-2/3 C. Hersheys Dark Cocoa Powder
-1 tsp. Salt
-2 tsp. Baking Soda
-2 Jars (10 oz. each) of Smuckers Simply Fruit Black Cherry Preserves (or any other brand of Black Cherry as long as there is no added sugar/sweeteners)
-4 Tblsp. Red Wine Pomegranate Vinegar
-2 C. Water
-4 Tblsp. Instant Coffee (mixed w/ 2 Tblsp. hot water)
-1 C. Vegetable Oil
4 tsp. Vanilla Extract*

Directions:
-Mix Dry in 1 Bowl.
-Mix Wet in another, first whisking the vinegar in w/ the preserves to break down lumpiness & then slowly whisking in the water, oil & vanilla.
-Combine wet & dry ingredients together (will appear very soupy but, fret not...it should!) & let set for about 5 min.
-Transfer mixture to two greased 10 x 10 cake pans.
-Bake for 30-35 min, checking the center w/ a toothpick.
-Let cool completely at room temperature.


For the Chocolate Covered Cherry Filling
:

Prep: 5 min.

Ingredients:
-2 Bags Frozen Cherries (thawed)*
-1 Box (5.9 oz.) Jell-O Instant Chocolate Pudding

Directions:
-Mix thawed cherries at low speed until it looks mostly liquefied.
-Add pudding packed and gently fold in w/ a spatula, then continue mixing on low speed. (Folding it first will prevent a cloud of chocolate pudding dust from flying into your face).
-Set aside in fridge until ready to use.

For the Mocha Butter Cream Frosting:
This can be made up to 2 weeks in advanced (stored in an airtight container) but will need to be brought to room temp and re-whipped prior to use.

Prep: 10 min.
Whip: 25 min.

Ingredients:
-1/2 C. Solid Vegetable Shortening
-1/2 C. (1 stick) Butter, Softened*
-1 Square (1 oz.) Unsweetened Chocolate, Melted
-2 Tblsp. Instant Coffee (mixed w/ 1 Tblsp. hot water)
-1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
-4 C. Confectioners Sugar
-2 Tblsp. Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk (or soy, rice, cows milk etc.)

Directions:
-Cream shortening & butter w/ an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
-Add melted chocolate, instant coffee (don't forget to mix w/ hot water first), & vanilla.
-Mix well.
-Gradually add in powdered sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed; scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. TIP: I find it easier & less messy to first fold each cup of sugar w/ a spatula prior to beating on med. speed.
-When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry.
-Add Almond Milk (or "dairy" form of choice).
-Beat at medium speed until light and fluffy (about 25 min.)
-Keep covered w/ a damp cloth until ready to use.

For the Homemade Whipped Cream
Creamy & Dreamy w/ Just a Hint of Sweetness...this recipe will leave you with leftovers...but is that really a bad thing? :)
**Save this step for the very end...when your ready to put it on the cake.**

Prep: 10 min.

Ingredients:
-1 Container (16 oz.) Heavy Whipping Cream (Chilled....the colder the better)*
-2 Tblsp. Unbleached Granulated Sugar*
Directions:
-TIP: Place beaters & bowl (if glass or metal) in the freezer for 10 min. prior to making whipped cream. Also, if your kitchen is warm due to the baking cake, whip your cream in a cooler area of the house. This is because when cream is chilled & whipped at lower temperatures, fat globules stick together to support the foam (tiny air bubbles) created by whipping. Therefore, beating cream at a cooler temperature will produce the largest amount of volume.
-Whip cream on high (or the setting that says whip or aerate) until it just starts to thicken.
-Slowly sprinkle in sugar while still whipping.
-Continue to whip until cream forms stiff peaks (but do not over whip).
-Use immediately.

For the Fresh Cherry Topping:


Ingredients:
Apx. 15 Cherries pitted and halved
Apx. 10 Cherries, stems attached (groups of 2 if possible).

Directions:
Pit & halve 15 Cherries, laying the interior side down on a paper-towel folded in half...let them sit for at least 10 min to ensure excess juices drain out.


Assembly of the Cake:

-Make sure cakes are cooled completely. (I like to cool them on a wire rack for efficiency).
-Place first cake onto a cake-plate (or platform of your choice)...you will not want to transfer the cake once it's decorated.
-Pipe Mocha Butter Cream around the top edge of 1 layer of cake. (this will prevent the filling from seeping out when the cake is fully frosted).
-Spread the filling evenly w/in the frosting 'wall'. (You will probably have some left overs...save it for up to 2 weeks & use in cupcakes, croissant rolls etc.)
-Place next cake on top.
-For a subtle geometric shape, cut the 4 corners of the cake off.
-Scoop remainder of Mocha Butter Cream into a large mound in the center of the cake.
-Begin spreading out in all directions and down the sides of the cake.
-TIP: Create a smooth appearance by gently rubbing wax paper over the surface of the frosting and gently lifting off.
-TIP: Clean up your cake-plate or platform by dipping a paper towel in a small amount of vinegar and wiping away excess frosting off the plate/platform. (Vinegar is an excellent grease cutter and the smell will not linger once dry).
-Place whipped cream into a piping bag w/ Wilton # 30 Star Tip. Pipe stars along the bottom edge of the cake & then swirl a med. sized pillow in the top center of the cake & then follow w/ smaller swirled pillows all along the top of the cake.
-Place 2 cherries w/ stems in the top center and at the 4 corners of the cake.
-Place the halved cherries (inside facing down) on each small pillow of cream.
-Keep cake chilled until ready to serve.



This cake goes excellent w/ Breyers Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream. And if your not baking for a special occasions and want a guild free treat, try making just the cake (which is vegan and very low in sugar) and serving warm w/ low fat frozen yogurt or Warm up some frozen cherries w/ a touch of Agave Nectar and pour over the cake. Guilt free heaven!!!




 ***Feel free to make this for anyone you choose but, please give credit where credit is due for the recipe as I would do the same for you.***

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Summer is Here! Cool Down w/ this Easy to Make Tasty Treat

Nothing says summer like frozen, sticky bars of high fructose corn syrup drenched in artificial flavors & colors right? NOT!

If you have a couple of Popsicle molds on hand (Target has some cute ones in the $1 section right now...gotta LOVE Target!) then, making your own ice-pops are not only fun, but so much better for you & the kiddos too. You can be as simple or creative as your heart desires. Here are a few suggestions & my ultimate favorite creation thus far...

*Tip: You will find that placing pop-mold into wram water will help loosen your pop & keep the stick in tact...creamier versions will need to thaw a little longer.

Most simple: Fill molds w/ 100% Fruit Juice. (Fruit & Veggie blends like Apple & Eve's Fruitables are also great!) Freeze until solid & enjoy! You will be amazed at how satisfying this simple, treat really is.

Smooth Move: If you happen to be blending up a smoothie for yourself, make a little extra and pour into the molds. I like blending frozen berries, organic yogurt, a banana & unsweet Almond Milk as a smoothie...simple, delicious & no added sugars!

Creamy & Dreamy: You won't believe how guilt free this Chocolate-Banana pop is. This is by far my most favorite pop to date. Mix 1 container of Stonyfield Farms Organic NF Yogurt in Chocolate Underground & 1 container of Stonyfield Farms YoBaby Banana yogurt together....pour into pop molds, freeze and enjoy every last lick sans the guilt!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Organic Whole Wheat & Apple Oat Bran Muffins

I just created this recipe today and I was beyond pleased with the results. Not only are these moist & tasty but, they are good for you too! Guiltless Little Pleasures!



Organic Whole Wheat & Apple Oat Bran Muffins

Ingredients (* = Organic) :

1 1/4 C Oat Flour*
1/2 C Whole Wheat Flour*
1/4 C All Purpose Flour*
1/4 C Wheat Germ (If you have Organic on hand I'd use it...I didn't so, no astrix)
1/4 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Salt
1 Beaten Egg*
3/4 C Unsweetened Applesauce
1/2 C Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
1/4 C Agave Nectar*
1 Tbl.sp. Veg. Oil
1/2 tsp. Apple Pie Spice
1/4 C Dry Rolled Oats for Garnish (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease a standard 12-cup muffin pan.
  3. Mix DRY ingredients in a Med. Bowl
  4. Mix WET ingredients in a separate Med. Bowl
  5. GENTLY Fold WET ingredients into DRY until just moistened. (Do NOT overmix or stir fast, as this will cause a denser, tougher muffin).
  6. Fill Muffin cups 3/4 full.
  7. Sprinkle Dry Oats on top of batter.
  8. Bake for 16 Min.
  9. Let cool & enjoy every guilt free bite!
***Feel free to make these for anyone you choose but, please give credit where credit is due for the recipe as I would do the same for you.***