April 30, 2011

DB Bacon Cups

The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at http://thedaringkitchen.com!
We took this week off of school and lazed around so much that I put off making this recipe until after it was supposed to be posted.  Alex loved the bacon cups and I can see myself making them again for him.  Wrapping the bacon so that it doesn't shrink and leave big holes is tricky and you do have to watch them to make sure they don't overcrisp.   I filled my cup with my own maple syrup sweetened mashed sweet potatoes instead of trying to make a dairy-free mousse.  Penny loved the mash.

-Our host this month is Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz.  See her blog for all the recipes.
-The bacon cup recipe was inspired by not martha and 59kilos.
-Visit the Daring Kitchen to see all the creative edible containers and vote for your favorite.

April 22, 2011

Lemon-Dilly Cashew "Sour Cream" Dip

I've been experimenting with cashew sour cream since Christmas.  It started with a few holiday batches of french onion dip.  This was trouble with a capital T and as you know T rhymes with P and the french onion dip was best enjoyed with Potato chips.  In the new year, I experimented with milkless ranch dressing but none of the recipes I tried wowed me or met with Alex's approval.  I gave up for awhile but then picked up the soaked cashews again in honor of this month's Spice Rack Challenge, dill.  Here is dill in a tasty dip made with cashew "sour cream".

*Note the Easter Egg radishes in the top photo, they are from my 9 Bean Rows CSA box from this week.

Lemon-Dilly Cashew "Sour Cream" Dip
Makes about 2 cups

1/2 cup raw cashews + water for soaking
2/3 cup cold water
juice from 1 lemon
2 teaspoons dried dill weed
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon granulated onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

-Cover your cashews in water and soak on the counter for a few hours, then change the water and soak in the refrigerator overnight.
-Drain the cashews and add to a blender with all the other ingredients.
-Blend until perfectly smooth and creamy.  Adjust seasonings to your taste, adding more lemon or salt and pepper as desired.
-Serve with fresh vegetables or crackers.  Also works well as a salad dressing, thin as needed.

Add some grated and drained cucumber along with a small clove of garlic and a little olive oil for a tzatziki style sauce.  This cucumber version is very good on salmon burgers.

And now for the obligatory kid pictures..
Penny being cute talking to her giraffe

Both kids being cute
Alex being a lunatic
I am SO looking forward to next week's Easter vacation!

April 10, 2011

Spring in the air and gluten-free pizza in the oven

The pizza pictured above is my very first attempt at a gluten-free/dairy-free pizza and it was damn good.  I used the recipe for Gluten-Free Crusty Boule dough from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  With help from the directions in the book I kept my crust thin, patting it out with floured hands instead of rolling and baked it at 500 degrees F for about 10 minutes.  But as good as that pizza was the time spent outside today was even better.

A few hours in the afternoon, bracketed by thunderstorms in the morning and early evening, the weather was perfect--just enough sun and as warm as a midsummer day.

It began innocently enough.
We thought it would be fun to let Penny try out her walking feet in the grass.
She is still unsure about walking on uneven ground and completely refuses to walk in shoes.
Alex wanted to make a hose river but his sister didn't think it was a good idea.
Her fears were validated when he put mud on her foot.
Things looked considerably better after Abbie showed up.
And all was forgiven once the mud was wiped off.
We left Alex to his imagination.
There were mumblings about the mighty Mississippi.
And we did some daydreaming of our own in the garden. 
I don't know what Penny is thinking but I'm picturing pumpkins and lots of kale.
Karmal came with us to the garden.
But Perfect stayed to watch the river.
We tracked down the ducks, who seemed a little skittish.
They finally settled down in the white pine forest in our valley.
Penny and I relaxed under the pine boughs on the soft fallen needles.
The weedy equisetum growing there kept Penny entertained.
And Fritz acted as our guard dog.
It's a good thing we had him because look what came after us!
We had nothing to fear, except getting dirty, it was only Alex.
Thunder and a chill in the air chased us indoors where we told a sleepy Nelson all about our adventure.
And then we had some leftover pizza.

April 4, 2011

Easter Ideas

Since we are all still fighting off our latest cold I declared today Easter craft day. I also consolidated some of my Easter treat plans.  This year I think an assortment of filled eggs might be fun to attempt and I plan on trying to use less or unrefined sweeteners.  Here are some more ideas I want to keep track of:

Egg Coloring
With Penny just born, I did eggs the easy way last year and used a kit for my Easter egg colors.  I want to try some new food dyes this year.  Green has been especially elusive but I have a new idea up my sleeve to try that came about because Alex has been studying pond water microorganisms. Here are my previous eggs dyed with food, the links have the ingredients I used for the dyes but no instructions.  I just play mad scientist cooking up potions until I get colors I like. 
from 2009
and 2008
Chocolate Bunnies
There are almost too many choices in this year's Go Dairy Free's Chocolate Bunny Roundup. We've purchased bunnies from both Chocolate Emporium and Premium Chocolatiers.  Alex loves Emporium's white chocolate and the truffle eggs from Premium but really didn't like the bunnies from either.  I'd be happy with a Grocer's Daughter bunny, which is a local company, but Alex isn't a big fan of their dark chocolate. No Whey! Chocolates looks like a promising new choice, with dairy-free milk, dark AND white bunnies!  Or maybe Sjaaks, who make the awesome mint windmill chocolates.

Update:  I went ahead and bought No Whey! bunnies and they look great.  We also tried out some Sjaak's vegan almond butter bunnies because they were available at our local co-op but Alex had a reaction to them.  It's not their fault, they do state "shared equipment".  We had hoped for the best but it didn't work out.

For this year's Hrudka (Slovak egg cheese) I'm going to try using rice milk so that Penny can give it a try. 
My hrudka is featured with eleven other savory Easter recipes from around the world, maybe you'll get some ideas from there. Easter bread will be the big challenge but I think I might just skip it and hope no one, by which I mean Alex, notices.  I would like to make some dairy-free Bagna Cauda to enjoy with some spring vegetables.  It would have been perfect with the baby radishes we got last week in our 9 Bean Rows share. I just gotta stock up on anchoives.

Candy Basket Fillings
I've been collected recipes to try something different for filled candy eggs.  I've made the egg-free fake Cadbury eggs from Speedbump Kitchen but would like to try a less refined sugar version this year.  This recipe for Healthy Homemade Creme Eggs sounds promising but I'm not sure I want to use the stevia or xylitol.  I thought maybe I could fill them with some maple-sweetened Marshmallow Fluff instead.  If there is time I'd like to try either Homemade Maple Marshmallows or Honey Marshmallows as Peeps.

Today we used these Easter Egg Printables to make the eggs for our paper egg tree pictured at the top.  I printed them on cardstock, we painted them and then I made the tree from a grocery bag. I also made some faux cherry blossom branches, which are sorta like these from Martha Stewart.  I used crepe streamer for the paper because I think it looks nicer and is easier to work with.  I also pruned autumn olive branches instead of cherry or apple because I wanted them tall and straight to fill up space on my mantle.  Of course this tortures me somewhat because they now look botanically inaccurate.  John would find that funny. 
*More Easter Ideas from two years ago

April 1, 2011

Airy Oat Waffles (gluten-free, soaked oats)

We managed to survive last week's rehash of winter (Mother Nature, did we really need another 8 inches of snow?) only to have the whole family struck with a new case of the gloppy nose and cough syndrome.  I clearly tempted the fates by thinking that we were done with that garbage.   So I have two kids who haven't really been interested in food other than the extra-garlic fortified chicken broth I've been foisting on them.

But, I had already soaked some oats and had to do something with them.  Thinking they wouldn't be eaten, I chose to make waffles which would be easier to freeze and reheat in the toaster.  I adapted a pancake recipe but my freezer saw no action because they were devoured as fast as I could make them.  The lone waffle pictured above was all that was left.

This may have been because they were really that good--light and airy and perfectly crispy on the outside, or it might be due to the fact that I served them with my latest batch of homemade maple syrup.  After losing a huge batch of syrup because I was busy doing schoolwork with Alex (there was smoke, a scorched pan and some tears) I have been much more attentive to my syrup and have made 2 quarts without crystals.  I think that calls for some more celebratory waffles!

Update: I changed the amount of water because I added a little more and liked the result better because they still cooked up great but the batter was easier to blend.  Orginal amount of water was 1 cup.

Airy Oat Waffles
Based on the recipe for Soaked, Flour-Free Oatmeal Pancakes from Nourishing Days
Makes about 4 (8 inch square) Belgian waffles

1 1/2 cup rolled oats*
1 1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon sweetener of your choice (I used coconut sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder*
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
oil for waffle iron
*gluten-free versions as needed for your situation

-Add the water and vinegar to your oats and soak at least overnight on the counter.
-Separate your egg whites into a clean mixing bowl.   Set aside for now.
-Place the egg yolks, the oats with their soaking liquid and all the other ingredients (except the egg whites) into a blender jar.  Blend until smooth.
-Whip your egg whites to firm peaks, not super stiff or they won't mix as easily.  Fold one third of the whipped whites into your oat mixture and then gently fold the remaining whites.
-Cook according to your waffle iron's instructions (*see my iron at the end of this post.)   Coat the iron with oil before each addition of batter, coconut oil spray works well or brush on melted coconut oil with a pastry brush.
-Serve with a small pat of coconut oil and maple syrup or fruit and whipped coconut cream.

One of my smaller batches of successful syrup, see my previous practice batches at Maple Tapping '11
The sick kids took a bath.  I hadn't planned on letting Penny in but she insisted and Alex was a good sport.
Of course he did stick Lego minifigs in her hair
And he can be such a goof with his crazy expressions!
I'm adding this to Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten-Free. This month's host is another Maggie who blogs at She Let Them Eat Cake, the theme is Springtime Brunches and I think these waffles would be perfect.
*Notes on waffle irons: I really like the control of a stovetop waffle iron.  They take up way less storage space and can get hotter than most electric models but they do have a learning curve.  The NordicWare model is the one I own but I really want to get the Rome's Cast Iron one to try.