Thursday, April 23, 2015

Chocolate Berry Tart

I am day 2 into my 30th year and I can say I do feel older. In a good way. My hubby took me out for a night out on my birthday and we visited some of our favorite places downtown. I thought on how many of these places consisted of college aged kids and the scene was one that I craved in my 20's. So full of excitement and life. And now as I have stepped into this new chapter of 30, these scenes seem to make me tired :) And, I'm already tired with having so much less sleep per night and busy with small children needs all day. So the night out was super fab, but also a great reminder of where my heart is now. It is in a new stage of life of being totally wrapped up at home with my sweet little family. Busy from dawn to dusk and finding rest and peace at home, in my jammies, on the couch with a slice of this chocolate goodness.
Sharing the treat with my hubby and talking about all the silliness of the day. I swear I never would have thought this to be true for me one day when I was in my early 20's. You could find me at the coolest local coffee shop talking about all the cool books and adventures till midnight. Now that seems a few chapters back. I am so enjoying the new found joy of being a home-body and mommy. This stage has been the biggest adventure yet, with the biggest challenges and darkest and lightest moments of life.
Thus far that is. As you age you can see more of the big picture and you are not in such a rush.
That is the beauty and joy of celebrating another birthday. You get to reminisce and talked about where you have been and get excited for where you are going. So much can happen in a year and yet it can seem like just a day as you look back. This must be the gift and curse of growing older.
Now, to this lovely and tempting tart I have been teasing you with.  I have made this recipe a few times now and decided I better make it again and try to perfect it for my birthday. This year I decided against a traditional cake and went with this decadent tart that does not disappoint.
The recipe idea originated from a mixed collaboration of the Nourishing Gourmet's Dark Chocolate Tart mixed with also special trips to PF Changs for their flourless chocolate dome and also a local favorite Marie Catrib's famous chocolate pudding. So this is my version of a mix of all of the above. A creamy, smooth, chocolatey treat that will melt in your mouth. It may get messy, but thats ok, it will taste amazing no matter what!
 Plus it is a very easy to make , with simple ingredients, and it doesn't hurt that it is gorgeous.
Chocolate Berry Tart Recipe
{VEGAN + gluten, dairy, egg, soy, nut, and refined-sugar free} 

1/2 cup of ground gluten-free oat flour (or you can sub almond flour if you can tolerate)
1/4 cup of tapioca flour
1/2 cup of rolled gluten-free oats
1/2 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut
dash of sea salt
3 TB of pure maple syrup
1/2 cup of soft organic extra virgin coconut oil

Mix the above in a small bowl and then sprinkle into the bottom of a 9 inch non-stick spring form pan. Press the crust dough on the bottom of the pan and then bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes. Let cool completely before you pour the chocolate in. 

Chocolate Mouse
20 ounces of Enjoy life Chocolate Chunks (2-10 ounce bags, or about 4 cups) 
2 cans coconut cream, about 1 3/4 cups of pure coconut cream
5-10 drops of Young Living Citrus Fresh essential oil (or use 1/4 ts. of pure orange flavoring)
dash of sea salt
optional additions:
a splash of pure vanilla or maple syrup for taste

To get the best coconut cream, refrigerate 2 cans of organic full-fat coconut milk and then open the cans and scrape out the cream only. Discard or save the coconut water for a smoothie or other recipe. Then in a small saucepan pour the coconut cream and all of the chocolate into the pan. On low heat stir until t is all melted and creamy. Then add the citrus oil drops.  Turn off the heat and whisk well together and let sit until it stiffens just a bit. Then pour into the cooled spring form crust pan and put pan on a plate in the fridge to completely cool and stiffen. You can also put in the freezer to quicken this process, but try not to serve straight from freezer because the crust will be hard to cut if frozen. Add the berry sauce before serving with fresh berries.

Berry Sauce + Fresh Berries
1/4 cup of each fresh berry, blackberry, raspberry, and strawberry
2-3 TB of pure raw honey
1 ts. of arrowroot or tapioca starch

In a small sauce pan add the fresh berries and honey and squish the berries and honey together until you get a jam-like sauce. You can use a small strainer if you want to omit the berry seeds and just have a sauce. Or I have also quickly blended the berry sauce to grind of the seeds a bit more before serving as well. Serve with fresh berries and sauce, or decorate the very cold chocolate tart with the cooled sauce and let sit in fridge for another hour if you would like to serve cold all together.
That's it! Pretty simple and seriously delish! It is a new favorite around here and its better to share at home with friends or also in my case in jammies, on the couch, with my hubby rather than out at a restaurant way past my bedtime. You get a bedtime again, when you are 30, right? I hope so! I feel like I have earned it after a crazy decade of my 20's.
May you enjoy life and find beauty in all it's pain and joys. 
To another year of life...!
You are loved dear ones!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Hot Cross Buns

I have been dreaming of these buns for years.
And, I finally got some fire in my buns {pun intended} to make them before Easter this year. 
I love it when you can enjoy a holiday recipe just like the best of 'em and not have to feel like you are an inconvenience for not being able to eat "anything" Which we all know is not true. We can actually eat so many things. But then on special occasions or in special circumstances it seems like all the hope of eating gluten-free gets thrown out the window. You loose heart and you feel jipped. I am here to tell you that is normal. It's part of the process of dealing with the loss of eating differently. "Not-eating-gluten" is so much more than "not-eating-gluten". It changes how you think. It is something to grieve as a loss and then find new ways to live and carry on. 
It could even be tied into Easter. Thinking about the life with gluten, dying, and being put to rest. And going gluten-free as a new way to live and sort of resurrection of life of sorts. 
Find ways to make eating gluten-free more normal. You make the dessert or the dish to pass at the party that you can also enjoy. This will not single you out and may even surprise your family and friends. I know this is not easy. But take baby steps and make a recipe you make again and again, so it is tried and true and will not disappoint. Doing this is a brave endeavor and shouldn't be seen as a small task. My hope for you is that you can carry on through this and be able to see some hope in the process.

Hot Cross Buns Recipe
{gluten, dairy, soy, nut, egg and refined sugar-free}

1/2 cup of non-dairy milk of choice (I usually use coconut or hemp)
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup of coconut sugar

Put the above in a small saucepan and warm until an almost boil. Ready to mix with the rest of the wet ingredients.

1/2 cup of currants, soaked in 1/2 cup of boiling water with 1-2 drops of orange essential oil ( I use Young Living brand to ensure edible safeness)

Put the above ingredients in a small glass bowl or Pyrex and let the currents soak for a while, or even over night to plump out and get soft.

2 TB of psyllium husk powder

Then, in a large mixing bowl, add the above psyllium and the boiling milk sugar mixture with the following wet ingredients. 

2 TB of fresh orange or other citrus juice
2 TB of olive oil
2 TB of honey
1 TB of apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup of apple butter or sauce
1 ts. of pure vanilla

Once all of the wet ingredients are mixed well with each other, add the soaked currents. Drain excess water before dumping. Then add the following dry ingredients and fold well until you get a soft and fluffy dough.

1 cup of GF oat flour
1 cup of white rice flour
1/2 cup of tapioca flour + more for kneading and dusting
2 ts. of baking powder
1 ts. of sea salt
1 ts. of baking soda
1 ts. of ground nutmeg
1 ts. of ground cinnamon

Roll out dough on a cutting board. Cut the dough into 12 parts and roll each piece between your hands to make a bun like roll.  Use an additional 1/4-1/2 cup of tapioca flour for rolling and dusting if the dough is too wet or soft.

Place all 12 buns on a parchment layered baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. Then whisk up the following ingredients and brush or spoon over the top of the buns and bake for another 5 minutes.

2-3 TB of raw honey with 1 TB of water whisked well 

Then pull from oven and let cool for a least and hour before adding the cross frosting.

Frosting Ingredients:
1/4 cup of non-dairy cream cheese (I use Daiya brand)
1 TB of palm oil shortening butter flavor (can omit, but used to help keep it together)
1-2 TB of maple syrup or honey

Mix the frosting up in a small bowl and then spoon into a frosting bag or a ziplock bag works too. Cut the corner tip just a smidgen and then you can use to squirt out the lines above the buns. Go one direction first over all the buns, and then switch and cross over your first lines finishing in the other direction. 

You will come out with these gorgeous, sweet and moist buns. Perfect for Easter Sunday morning brunch or even dinner. They are too tempting to wait till then, so I snuck a bite or two. These buns and a special sweet treat. Covered in sweet honey and finger licking.

This hot cross bun recipe isn't anything miraculous but I do hope you find hope this season of new life and to look for the new ways that a resurrection is blooming in your daily life.

Much love and light to you this Holy week and Easter Sunday.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Chocolate Cake Two Ways

What do you prefer? Sheet cake or cupcakes? Both are moist and delicious in their own special way. Both are delectably gluten-free and made with some of the best ingredients I can gather. Both will leave you oooing and ahhhhing and wanting more. You can eat them, dear gluten-free friend, and these recipes are just for you!
My wonderful mom is the mastermind behind the following chocolate sheet cake recipe. She and I go back and forth with sharing ideas with recipes and this one she has made again and again without fail. I caught on and have been making a version of this cake of my own. She has even made this recipe into other versions of pumpkin and banana cakes. I guess you now know where I get my creativity and determination at making good gluten-free baked goods. I truly believe there is something healing in making gluten-free baked goods for the gluten-free soul. It reminds you that you CAN eat something yummy and have not LOST it all when it comes to treats and desserts.

If you are new to the gluten-free baking world. My only advice is to "NOT GIVE UP!" It is not an easy transition. In fact it kind be somewhat traumatic. Or in the least it is a reminder of your health issues and what you have lost. I know. I've been there. But I have also been here where I am now, 9 years later. It gets easier. I promise. A good place to start is experimenting. If you find one or two good recipes that you and your family like then stick with those and don't try to go overboard. Keep it simple. This cake recipe is one of those recipes for me. It is a go-to, learn-it-well, and make-again-and-again recipe.  Thanks Mom for the recipe and well, for life :)

Mom's Chocolate Cake Recipe
1 1/2 cups of gluten-free flour blend (Mom uses NAMASTE perfect flour blend, but I have also used 1/2 cup of each rice flour, sorghum flour, and a tapioca or potato starch flour too.) Mixing your own flour omits the xanthan gum, and to be honest it is one of preference. If you dislike the "gummy-ness" of some gluten-free baked goods, then I would advise to mix your own GF flour blend without. But the Namaste flour mix is a good one for this cake because it is quite simple (and can be found at Costco!)

1/2 cup of cocoa powder
1 cup of coconut palm sugar
2 teaspoons of baking powder (I use HAIN brand so there is no corn product in it)
1 ts. of sea salt
1 ts. of baking soda

1 cup of baking oil (warmed coconut oil or grapeseed or light olive oil)
1 3/4 unsweetened applesauce (homemade or store bought both work)
1 TB of pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup of pure maple syrup
4 room temperature fresh eggs

In a large large mixing bowl, whisk eggs, then add the rest of the wet ingredients and slowly add the mixed dry ingredients until all is mixed well with no lumps. Then pour cake batter into a well coconut-oil greased 9x13 baking dish. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Make sure the cake is done by testing the middles of the cake with a toothpick. Let cool for a few hours before frosting.
Second way to make cake is by cupcakes of course! A fun and cute way to get everyone a slice without using a knife. This recipe was a conversion of a regular gluten recipe that turned out wonderfully and recently had the honor of making them for a baby shower.

This recipe would be easier to convert the real eggs for chia-seed gel "eggs" instead. The above sheet cake recipe is pretty dependent on the eggs for a good cake. But cupcakes are a little easier to switch to a vegan cake version. So I would suggest that if you are looking for a vegan chocolate cake recipe to so with cupcakes first few times around before you get better with baking without eggs and gluten.
This recipe is a little more complicated with a few different mixing bowls, but that is the nature of GF baking sometimes... like a science lab, except you can lick the spoon :)

Chocolate Cupcakes
1 cup of cocoa powder
1 3/4 cup of GF flour blend (Namaste blend works here too) But I like to mix 3/4 cup of rice flour, 3/4 cup of sweet sorghum flour and 1/4-1/3 cup of tapioca (or potato) starch flour.
1 ts. of baking soda
2 ts. of baking powder
1 ts. of sea salt

2 cups of coconut palm sugar
1/2 cup of melted Enjoy Life chocolate chips with 1/4 cup of coconut cream from the can
1 cup of coconut milk beverage mixed with 1 TB of apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup of melted coconut oil
2 TB of pure vanilla
4 fresh eggs (or grind chia seeds and mix 4 TB ground chia seeds with 1 cup of water and let sit for a few minutes to make a gel)

So first, you will mix all of the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, set aside. Then put the chocolate chips and coconut cream in a small saucepan and melt until a chocolate sauce has formed. Then in a separate mixing bowl, let the coconut milk beverage and apple cider vinegar mix together and make a buttermilk mixture. Lastly, if you are attempting a vegan cupcake, then mix the finely ground chia seeds with water and let that sit as well for a few minutes to make a chia-gel. Then you are ready to pour in all together. First mix the sugar and the rest of the wet ingredients together... then add the flour mixture slowly. You should end up with a frothy and creamy cake batter to pour into cupcake papers. Fill cupcake tins 3/4 way full. This recipe makes 18 cupcakes and then bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 22-25 minutes. Cool for at least an hour before frosting. 

Chocolate Frosting
1/2 cup of pure local honey
1/2 cup of cocoa powder

You can also sub the shortening for grass-fed butter or your favorite vegan butter. You can easily double or half this recipe if needed. I have made this recipe a few times with vegan butter and it works fine, but if you use the shortening then you have a version that is more stiff and easier to use for transporting cakes if need be. I used this frosting recipe on both of the above cake recipes. Perfect every time. ENJOY!

Much love to you and may you find hope in the kitchen. xo

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Homemade Rustic Marshmallows

One thing that I have LOVED over the last year is Great Lakes Unflavored Gelatin. It is pure protein, and this brand makes it GMO free and is naturally gluten-free as well. It is a perfect supplement ingredient to help with healing from any digestive ailment, especially leaky gut symptoms, and also it is a ton of fun to have in the kitchen with children because what kid doesn't love jello or gummies. You can google the benefits yourself, but a link to get you started on learning more about gelatin is here by Wellness Momma.  You can also look up dozens of recipes and uses on Pinterest. I pin new ones all the time!

I have made gummies for my kids probably once a week over the last year. You can google or pinterest search hundreds of recipes. My favorites have been morphed into a simple one of my own. I use 3 TB of gelatin for every cup of fruit juice. I usually sweeten with maple syrup and use an organic all fruit juice. I split the juice in half and mix half of it with the gelatin and the other half in a saucepan on the stove with maple syrup until boiling. Mix the boiling juice with the gelatin juice and mix and whisk well to get all the lumps out and then pour into molds or pyrex pan while warm. I use a quart pyrex measuring cup to usually do this with less mess and dishes. Then refrigerate until hard or until all eaten :) My kids devour these. Our favorite juices are apple, cherry and cranberry.

But the newest way that I have been enjoying gelatin has been through homemade marshmallows. So yummy and brings back all kinds of childhood nostalgia of hot cocoa and marshmallows. Or really just eating marshmallows from the bag. I had a thing for the fluffy white stuff. This version is SO much better though. Made from wholesome ingredients and no corn yuck or high fructose corn syrup. It is a healthy way to have a treat and even had some nutrients to your life.
First time I made these I followed this homemade recipe by the Urban Poser.  But since then have kinda found a way that I like making them on my own. It's so easy you just need to try it out. I do not have a candy thermometer. I need to get one of those. But I still made these in the mean time. Here is my recipe that I have been playing with...

Homemade Marshmallow Recipe
3/4 cup of pure honey
1/4 cup of pure maple syrup
1/2 cup of pure water
sprinkle of sea salt
splash of vanilla

1/2 cup of pure water
2 1/2 TB of unsweetened gelatin

I used the above amounts but did first try to follow the Urban Poser's detailed instructions. I would suggest you do the same and then once you get your marshmallow groove on then you can kinda swing it however you like. It's pretty simple once you try it a few times. You'll be an addict like me in no time.

Some of my notes:
First I put the honey, maple syrup, 1/2 cup of water and splash of vanilla and salt in a sauce pan and start cooking. This process is long and can take around 15 minutes on medium heat. You do this until the mix is somewhat foamy and if you want more precise temperatures and instructions check out the recipe above. While doing this I have the gelatin blossoming with the other 1/2 cup of water. Then mixed the gelatin mixture into the BURNING hot honey water mixture (it is amber brown color) and slowly use a hand held mixer and mix on slow until even more foamy, then raise the speed when it gets thicker to medium and then HIGH. You will start to notice the color changing to white-ish and thickening up. You may want to lick at this point. It is super yummy marshmallow fluff. Then when the marshmallow is stiff you pour the mixture into a pre-oiled and I use tapioca flour dusted pan with parchment as well. I used tapioca flour instead of arrowroot starch. Then you have to let it sit alone for at least 4 hours and it stiffens right up. Then use a non-teeth knife and cut squares of marshmallow, using tapioca flour to help dust and keep less sticky. I stored my marshmallows in a quart ball jar on the counter for up to a week without problems. But really we eat them all in a few days, who am I kidding, haha ;)

I make my favorite homemade hot cocoa , (or make a dry mix to make an easy hot cocoa) and top with a handful of these amazing marshmallows. It makes a picture perfect delicacy every time!

I mentioned in my last post about adding these homemade marshmallows to the plate of a chocolate fondue dipping plate. These are amazing dipped in some chocolate sauce and a fun addition because friends will think these odd looking cubes may be bread, or maybe cheese, but no it's a fluffy marshmallow surprise. These treats are amazing in just about every way.

I hope you try this out VERY soon if you are in a cold and snowy climate like me. It is one of the best ways to stay happy this winter :) That and staying warm and cozy with your loved ones.

Much love to you xoxo