Beverages, Food

Mama Chia {Copycat Recipe}

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Finally. I have finally concocted a cheaper version of the Raspberry Passion Mama Chia beverage my daughter and I love so much.

It was much easier than I expected it would be. I’m not sure why I kept putting it off.

I began by looking at the ingredients list.

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Already I had decided to use pomegranate juice. Odd that that isn’t one of the ingredients listed. Pomegranate juice to me tastes like a combination of juices…like a raspberry/grape/cranberry combo maybe?…so I was confident that this would work.

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Raw honey, soaked chia seeds, pomegranate juice and lime juice.

First I prepped the chia seeds. I took about 1 ¼ cups of dry seeds and poured them into a mason jar along with about 30 or so ounces of water.

I actually miscalculated the amount of water I would need initially. I filled my glass bottle (see pictures below) 3/4 full with chia seeds, then added water.

That is not the way to do it.

Chia seeds absorb a lot of water. Like 3 times as much as the actual seeds. 

So after that sat in the fridge for awhile I was ready to throw it all together.

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One teaspoon of honey was just right, once I figured out how to stir it up (stir with a metal skewer then shake vigorously).

A bit of lime juice added to the pomegranate juice added another element to the flavor that made it pitch-perfect, and just like the Mama Chia beverage I remembered.

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Rachel’s Copycat Mama Chia Recipe

Makes about 10oz (1 serving).

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup soaked chia seeds*
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon lime juice

Directions:

  1. Combine ingredients in liquid measuring cup.
  2. Pour into desired container.

*To make about 25oz/3c. of soaked chia seeds, I put about 1 ¼ cups dry chia seeds into a quart (32oz) mason jar. I filled the jar with water, shook up the jar and let it sit in the fridge about 24 hours.

Cost:

For 10oz of this Mama Chia brand drink from Aldi, it was $2.29. My version was only $1.28 for the same amount.

Granted, my recipe doesn’t have the same exact ingredients. But the taste is very similar and still delicious.

Enjoy!

~Rachel

Food, Lunch/Simple Meal

Yummy Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free BLT

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Check it out. I made a blt the other day. No dairy. No gluten. It was super yummy.

I planted Goldie tomatoes (huge and yellow) this year and they are just starting to ripen. I was trying to decide what to do with them, although in the back if my mind I was wanting a blt. And I remembered that I like to eat my garbanzo bean burgers in between two slices of tomatoes instead of with bread.

Perhaps a tomato bread blt? And instead of mayo…guacamole. Just avocado, lime juice and seasonings. That’s it. Tomato, guacamole, bacon, lettuce.

Definitely not fat-free. But some fat is good for you. And who can argue with bacon? Ok maybe vegans. I couldn’t be a vegan/vegetarian. Sorry. I love meat.

Anyways. Onward.

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One tomato,
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sliced
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and topped with guacamole.
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Bacon,
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more guacamole, lettuce
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and topped with another tomato slice.
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Side view. Photo isn’t the best quality but here you can see the layers.

There’s really no particular recipe here. I cooked up some diced bacon (a little over 1/4 lb). I cut up an avocado, mashed it (I use a ziplock bag) and added a bit more fresh lime juice than usual..since I didn’t add mayo. Then salt, garlic powder and onion powder to taste. I usually buy romaine lettuce whole but Aldi was out. I got some bagged Caesar salad instead.

And that’s it. This sandwhich tastes like summer and really hits the spot. Fresh tomatoes from the garden make this so good 🙂

~~~

Cost:

This sandwich cost me $2.78. Not bad! Decreasing the meat and using produce from the garden keeps it cheap. I’ll use a bit less bacon next time haha.

Enjoy!

~Rachel

Food, Snacks

Homemade {Crockpot} Coconut Yogurt

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Last Tuesday and Wednesday I finally did something about my yogurt conundrum. I’ve been wanting some good non-dairy yogurt that isn’t saturated with sugar like the storebought kind.

I’ve been putting it off because I thought it would be hard to make my own. I was wrong. It totally wasn’t hard. Long process, yes. But not hard.

Why coconut yogurt? Some of you may know I can’t have a lot of dairy products. Currently everything is out except butter and cheese and just a few other things…like my beloved frozen custard that I would probably die without.

Anyway. The process began when I saw my local natural food store had this yogurt starter for sale. It was $10 for a pack of 4 probiotic starter packets. Oy. I went back and forth about buying it.

Finally I did because I figured once I made some yogurt I could use part of that as a starter and hopefully never have to buy more starters.

For the recipe, I used this one from Dawn @smallfootprintfamily and got an idea of a time frame for the crockpot from this post by Trisha @funkyfoodallergies.

From start to finish, this took about 16 hours. That seems absurd, but let me break it down. It heated up from 4-7pm. From 7-11pm it cooled down. I added the stuff and then it fermented overnight from 11pm-9amish. Very little hands on time.

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Ingredients I used: 1 yogurt starter culture packet, 33.8 oz 100% coconut milk, 2 envalopes knox unflavored gelatin. Not pictured: 1 TBS honey.
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By 7pm, the coconut milk had reached 180°.

And yes, that is a meat thermometer.

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By 11pm, it had cooled to about 95°. This was taken after I had mixed in the gelatin and honey.
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Bedtime for the yogurt…wrapped up in 3 layers of towels. Let it sit overnight.
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This was the jello-like consistency after it was transferred from the crock pot to the fridge for several hours.
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Emptied it all into a bowl in the sink.

In retrospect, I believe I added a bit too much gelatin. I calculated that I would need 1.75 packages to make a quart of yogurt. But I got distracted while pouring it in because I was talking with my husband. I’m thinking this was the reason it turned out so thick.

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Whipped it up to a smooth consistency.
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I tried some plain before I put it in the fridge again. Was planning on sharing it with L…thus the baby spoon.
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The whipped texture after the second time in the fridge.
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Vanilla and strawberries make it yummy.

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But does it taste good? Is the price worth it?

To me, the answer is yes and yes. The flavor and texture is something to get used to. As directed, I used full fat coconut milk. It was hard to get used to the unsweetened plain flavor, but with the addition of vanilla and frozen strawberries..yes. Very good.

And the price?

I calculated I made about 35 oz. (After it was whisked to a fluffy texture.) The price came out to $7.71. That’s 22¢ per oz and 88¢ for 4 oz. The last time I bought coconut yogurt at Wal-Mart, it was $1.58 for a 4 oz container. And that stuff was sugared to the moon and back. And rather on the thin side to boot. Currently none of the stores in my area carry any cartons larger than 4 oz so I can make no comparison there.

So yes, pretty easy to make. Tastes good with flavorings added and cheaper than storebought. There is a bit of investment initially, but I think its worth it. Per batch the price is right. I’m calling this one a triple win 🙂

~Rachel

Food, Main Meal

Crockpot Calico Beans

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Growing up, there weren’t many family cookouts that felt complete without my Mom’s broccoli cauliflower salad or her calico beans. Just thinking about them brings me back to my Grandma’s house. All of my senses are enveloped and anchored when I enter Grandma’s kitchen.

Memories, comfort and love have always surrounded me there. We all loved seeing Grandma (still do!) but we especially appreciated all the food she and everyone else made for us.

After I was married, I made the transition to cooking a lot more. I had to find my niche. See what recipes work for my family. And even now, its a process.

I’ve recently learned that I can make calico beans in my crock pot. I found an awesome recipe by The Crockin’ Girls that I adapted a bit. It tastes different than my Mom’s recipe. She uses more beans and cooks hers in the oven. It’s thicker that way and richer in flavor. Soooo good!

So yeah it does taste different. But still yummy 🙂 My husband wolfed down his when I first tried the recipe. I said, “I didn’t know you liked calico beans so much!” To which he replied, “It’s the sauce babe. It’s so good!” Suffice to say, he stuffed himself. And L loved it too. She didn’t eat a lot but this is the only way I can get her to eat beans.

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Bacon.

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Ground beef.

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Vinegar, lima beans, brown sugar, pork and beans, organic ketchup and onions.
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Add all ingredients to crock pot.
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Mix.
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Yummy leftover calico beans I had cold for supper yesterday.

 


 

Crockpot Calico Beans

Makes 8+ servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 lb bacon
  • 1 can lima beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 cans pork and beans
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 Tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 pinch s & p

Directions:

  1. Dice bacon & cook till barely done. Add to crock pot.
  2. Drain bacon grease & cook ground beef. (Optional: cook the onions with the beef.)
  3. Drain fat and add beef to crock pot. Add remaining ingredients.
  4. Cook on low 1 hour, high 3+ hours. **Edit: I realize now it makes more sense to cook for 4+ hours on high, if you are not cooking the onions with the ground beef.

Note: If you cook the beef and onion together, you can cook the calico beans for 4 hours on low. This method would bring the flavor up a notch. I seem to forget every time but either way it works out!

Cost:

I calculated that it cost me $9.26 to make this recipe. But it makes a lot. Like 2 quarts. So (8) 1 cup servings at $1.15 each. 

Enjoy!

~Rachel

Recipe adapted from “Calico Beans”, by The Crockin’ Girls.

Desserts, Food

Double Decker Fudge Brownie Cake (Dairy Free!)

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I made this cake recently and oh my it was good. My son J recently turned 4 and I wanted to make him something special. He does not like cake. I’m just getting him into ice cream too. But he loves brownies.

And because there were some guests in attendence that cannot tolerate dairy, I decided to make this cake 100% dairy free. 

I found a fudgy brownie recipe that I wanted to try. It called for butter and I decided I wanted to sub unsweetened applesauce.

Which led me to this article. Combining these tips with a modified version of the cookbook recipe led me to the delicious finished product.

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We all agreed. It was good.

It is wonderfully dense and moist. The flavor is awesome, even without butter or dairy. The substitution of applesauce for butter can make it less moist though, so its important not to overcook.

I made a triple batch but one of the 3 layers ended up becoming a bit singed. I used 9″ round cake pans, so my layers were on the thinner side. If (or rather when) I make it again, I would keep the recipe as is and use 2 pans.

My oven I set to 375°. All ovens are different though. Mine tends to run on the cool side.


Double Decker Fudge Brownie Cake

Note: this recipe is for a triple batch.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon natural (no sugar added) applesauce
  • 1 2/3 cups cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla (optional)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • (2) 16oz jars of non-dairy frosting. I used Pillsbury Creamy Supreme Vanilla frosting.

Directions:

  1. Heat oil and cocoa in a small saucepan. Mix thoroughly and cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare (2) 8″ round cake pans by lining them with greased foil. I used coconut oil to grease my foiled pans.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk applesauce and eggs. Then whisk in cooled cocoa mixture.
  4. Mix dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.
  5. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Mix.
  6. Divide batter evenly between pans.
  7. Bake just shy of 30 minutes. Mine were done by the 27 minute mark.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool before frosting.

To frost:

  1. Place cake #1 upside down on a plate. Frost, heaping frosting towards the outer edge.
  2. Place cake #2 right side up on frosting. Frost as desired. I frosted the top, but left the sides bare.

Note: If cake #1 is uneven on top, use a bread knife to slice off a thin layer to even it out. This ensures that your cake will bear no resemblance to the Leaning Tower of Pisa!

Enjoy!

~Rachel

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, 15th Edition

Food, Main Meal

Delicious Beef & Root Vegetable Soup

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This is a simple supper recipe that I cooked up on Thursday. It turned out surprisingly well. Such is not always the case with my food “experiments”.

And yes, it is hot outside lately. Eat the soup slightly warm with a cold side dish and you have it made. It works.

My family might as well be hobbits. We don’t have hairy feet but we do like to eat a lot. The little ones more so. And we crave simple flavorful food.

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I love simple. I love easy. Sometimes I don’t want to share any recipes ’cause I’m like, “Nah. That’s too easy. Not interesting”. But seriously. This one is surprisingly flavorful and good. I say that because the only seasoning is salt and pepper, yet it tastes like there is more.

We all loved it, except for J, who tends to be a trifle finicky. At least he loves raw carrots. (Suprises me greatly.)

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Work with what you’ve got. I had potatoes, carrots and onions so I used those. Any root veggies typically blend well. Ground turkey is a good sub for ground beef as well. Use what you’ve got. You might be suprised at how well it turns out.


Delicious Beef & Root Vegetable Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 large white baking potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled, halved and sliced.
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes (I use Massel 7’s brand)
  • s & p

Directions:

  1. Boil potatoes (cover with at least 2″ of water).
  2. Add the carrots.
  3. Cook the ground beef with the onion until the onion has softened (slightly translucent). While cooking, season with s & p.
  4. Add beef bouillon cubes to soup pot. Dissolve, then add meat mixture.
  5. Let cook 5-10 minutes, or till reduced and tender to your liking.

 

Happy cooking with the po-ta-toes!

~Rachel

Food, Snacks

Muffins For Your Munchies

**Note: this post is originally from August 2014. One of my first posts. Hanging out in my drafts folder for some reason. We still love these muffins!

Hello Readers,

So, in my last blog, I made a promise to include more pictures in blog #2. This blog will indeed have lots of pictures. 🙂

However, due to the fact that me & mine are currently in the process of moving…this blog will draw on pictures taken several months ago. Still good, right? Hoping to save myself a wee bit of sanity.

This week’s recipe will be from Erin Chase’s The $5 Dinner Mom recipe book, that I shared with you last week.

Have I mentioned how much I love this book?? 🙂 I do. Her recipes are so healthy and blessedly easy. One of my go-to snack recipes from her book is for Fruit or Veggie Muffins. It can be found on the $5 Dinners site.

Here is my mise en place (somewhat) of all the ingredients you will need for your recipe, minus 2.

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I took this today, and was out of sweet potatoes and canola oil.

I’m not going to include a photo of the dry ingredients mixed together, but I will pause and say a word about one of them…cinnamon.

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I grate my cinnamon by hand. Sounds tedious, I know. But I’ve been doing this for 2 years! The grater I bought from Amazon. I originally bought it just for nutmeg, to use in my peanut butter cookie recipe (more on that later). Then I happened to have some cinnamon sticks on hand and decided to use it to grate cinnamon, too.

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I bought this jar of cinnamon sticks about a year and a half ago, and I have used roughly 2/3 of it, in that time.

It takes about 2-3 minutes for me to grate the 1 tsp. of cinnamon called for in this recipe. I really like my cinnamon better this way. That, and well, its just cheaper. And honestly, the taste is just a lot better, in my opinion.

In this particular post, I will be using mashed sweet potatoes as my fruit/veggie of choice. You can use different single (or combinations of) fruits or veggies, but this is my favorite option, so far.

I begin by cooking the sweet potato. I typically cook 2, to be on the safe side. One large one would work well, too. I preheat the oven to 395°, wash and scrub the s. potatoes, prick them all over with a paring knife, put them in a baking pan with about a 1/2″ of water, cover with foil, and pop them in the oven for 1 hour.

If the sweet potato(s) are really big, they may need more time. You can test them for doneness with a knife.

I don’t let them cool much since I’m usually in a hurry. (Just being honest.) Also, if you keep the oven on, you don’t have to wait while it preheats again for the muffins! I peel them, put them on a plate and slice and mash them with a fork. Measure off 1 cup, and you’re good!

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I put the sugar, oil, eggs and mashed s.p. in a bowl. Mix that and then add the dry ingredients.

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I believe that in this particular recipe, I used PAM cooking spray to grease the muffin tins. But I’ve since been using this coconut oil to grease my pans:

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I’m no coconut oil expert, but I’ve heard it has a lot of wonderful health benefits. Yes, I know, using it at high heat ruins the health benefits. But I still like it a lot better than PAM or Crisco for greasing pans. Also, when I made homemade popcorn last night, I used coconut oil in place of canola oil and noticed a distinct difference.

I find I can only get 10 muffins max out of this recipe, even though it says 12. Especially because the sweet potato makes the batter so dense that it really doesn’t rise very much.

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They go in the 395° oven (my oven is on the cool side) for 15 minutes.

We (myself and my son) entertained ourselves by taking pictures for most of the waiting time. Here are a few of the better ones:

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And when the muffins are done, they will look like this:

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As you can see, we ate 2 already because they were that delicious.

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Sweet potato is, by far, my favorite out of the fruit or veggie options. May try more in the future, but this tops apple, zucchini, banana, and apple-banana. The sweet potato adds so much moisture and sweetness. Makes it taste so good with all that natural sugar 🙂

In May, when I made this my ds wasn’t too into muffins. But he is now! I love making this recipe because it is just such a wonderful snack food. Low in sugar, high in fiber, easy to eat on the go. Freezes very nicely too.

For 10 muffins this recipe cost me: $2.00, about 20¢ per muffin. There you go! Hope you enjoyed my Muffin Munchies blog post, complete with lots of pictures!

~Rachel