Food

Cuppa Chocolate Mint & Nettle Tea

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I started to blog about french toast today. And while french toast is all very well and good, I wasn’t into it. At the moment I was sipping a cup of chocolate mint and nettle tea. Bing bing! Yes. Yes I will blog about that.

I love tea. Even in the summer. I usually drink it warm or iced in the warmer months though.

A favorite lately is combining a 50/50 ratio of dried chocolate mint and nettle.

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Nettle (L) and mint leaves.

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My nettle I purchased in a 1 lb package through iherb. There was a ton. Like 3+ quart jars. I bought it 2 years ago and there’s still lots.

Nettle is awesome because of the nutrients it has. Lots of calcium, magnesium and iron.

It’s really good for joint health, fatigue, seasonal allergies and menstrual cramps among other things (the list is long).

The leaves are safe to use once dried. It will not sting your insides 🙂

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Stinging nettle. Source: pixabay

Mint is also good for many things, although most people are familiar with its ability to soothe the stomach and nix bad breath. I’ve been reading Rosalee de la Forêt’s book Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients into Foods and Remedies That Heal and learned that peppermint not only soothes and refreshes but it gives you energy too. So its no suprise that it makes a nice pairing with nettle.

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Chocolate mint in my garden. If it wasn’t in a bucket it would be all over the place!
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Tea steeping in a quart jar, my favorite mug and my chocolate mint stash.
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Yummy cuppa tea.

Is saying “cuppa tea” just a British thing? I really like the phrase 🙂

How about you? What is your favorite tea (or beverage in general)? I would love to know! I’m always looking for new teas and beverages to try.

~Rachel

Desserts, Food

Accidental Hot Fudge

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A few days ago I accidentally made hot fudge. Want to know how? It goes like this…

My son J demanded wanted no bake cookies. I thought that was a good idea because I love them too.

Out came the recipe and I began making them. Butter, sugar, cocoa…oh and almond milk. But then it looked strangely soupy. Oh no I added 1 cup of almond milk instead of 1/2 cup. I didn’t want it to go to waste so…

I added double the amount of butter, sugar and cocoa. Let it boil for 1 minute as usual. Then poured it into a glass measuring cup. It was about 2 cups so I poured out half back in the pan and made the cookies like normal.

Except now I realise that I had a double recipe’s worth of milk and varying degrees of the others. The butter, sugar and cocoa were at the same level but the peanut butter and oats were still at the half-batch amount.

No wonder they looked like pancakes. Oh well. They still tasted fine.

What to do with the rest of the liquid? Well it certainly looked like chocolate syrup. I wondered what would happen when I froze it.

So I poured it into a cake pan and popped it in the freezer. I forgot about it until the next day when I brought home a pint of frozen custard.

When I pulled off the plastic wrap from the cake pan, the chocolate sauce had all the appearance of “hot” fudge.

I put it on my frozen custard and it was divine. A bit heavy on the butter but totally delicious.

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Accidental Hot Fudge

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup butter (can sub non-dairy butter)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (or other dairy or non-dairy milk)
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a small saucepan as the butter melts. Boil for 1 minute.
  2. Pour into a metal cakepan to cool. Cover with plastic wrap (press it to the surface of the syrup) and freeze overnight.
  3. Spoon or drizzle hot or cold over your favorite dairy or non-dairy ice cream/frozen yogurt/custard 😊

Cost:

$1.24. Yeah. Cheap. If I divided the chocolate sauce and my pint of chocolate frozen custard into 4 servings it would only be $1.31 a serving. Even for 1 cup servings it would be $2.62. That’s about a dollar cheaper than the ones I order ready made.

Yay for frugal wins!

~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