Friday, April 22, 2011

An Easter Treat with an Allergy-Friendly Mock Oreo Cookie

I love that when I put my mind to something, I do it.  We missed oreo cookies, who doesn't love them?  Cookies and cream ice cream, oreo's and milk for a snack; they are great!  Since my daughter's diagnosis in July, we haven't had them.  Don't get me wrong, they are not the healthiest treat in the world; but they are a treat and a great one for this Easter weekend.  So, I'm sharing my recipe with all of you.  Happy Easter!
Allergy-Friendly Chocolate Sandwich Cookies:
Chocolate Cookies
3/4 cup softened butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips (melted)
2 eggs
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/4 cup rice flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
To mixer with paddle attachment; combine butter and sugar until smooth.  Sift dry ingredients and slowly add to sugar mixture on low speed.  Add eggs one at a time making sure to fully combine each into batter.  Last, slowly add melted chocolate and mix until combined.  I use two spoons to make batter into rounded shape; place on greased cookie sheet to 325 degree pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes.  Cookies will puff up, then flatten out.  Place cookies on cooling racks pretty quick to prevent them from sticking to cookie sheet.  Makes about 60 cookies.
1 1/2 tbs unflavored gelatin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tbs light corn syrup
1/2 tsp homemade vanilla extract or 1 tsp of store-bought
1 8oz package softened cream cheese.
To clean mixer bowl with whisk attachment; place 1/4 water and unflavored gelatin.  Do not mix!  Leave for 5 minutes to soften.  To saucepan add 1/2 cup water, sugar, and corn syrup, Do not stir!  Add salt and cream of tartar to gelatin mixture and whisk on med-high for 3 minutes until fluffy.  When sugar mixture reaches 250 degrees it will be a light tan color.  Slowly add sugar mixture to mixer on a high speed and continue to mix for 5 minutes until fluffy.  Add vanilla extract and continue to mix until mixture cools and will be white and fluffy.  Fold in softened cream cheese and allow filling to rest for at least 30 minutes to thicken.  Make Sandwiches!
Just a note: I usually do this on two separate nights; cookies first, then filling.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Watch Out Food Allergies, There's a New Food Revolution in Town!

There is a new food revolution among us.  The facts are; sustainability, organics, and food allergy friendly foods go hand-in-hand.  Studies have shown the more sustainably gathered the food is, the healthier it is.  Most say that the reason food allergies have gone so rampant among society is due to the means most foods have been processed.  Injected with hormones, sprayed with pesticides, and processed with preservatives; sounds good, huh?  People are starting to realize that their health starts with them, and it’s a wonderful thing.  As a mother, it is my number one job to take care of my children; a huge part of that is making sure they are making the right choices.  When I became a mother 10 years ago, I made the choice of a healthier lifestyle for our family.  I learned how to make baby food and only bought organic produce and juices.  After our second child, I realized I wanted to do more for our family in the way of being sustainable.  I started my first garden and learned how to can and freeze vegetables and fruit.  For the most part, my family and friends teased me by calling me Martha Stewart and our farm Little House on the Prairie.  I took these as compliments.  Now this food revolution is spreading throughout our families and neighborhoods and spilling over into school systems.  Farmer’s Markets are springing up all over America; along with channels devoted to cooking fresh with what’s in season.  Beautiful cookbooks and blogs abound with phenomenal recipes.  Food allergies beware!  With all of this great, fresh, sustainable food growing around us, you don’t stand a chance!
Here’s what’s in season now!
Kale Chips

2 large bunches of kale (cleaned)
Olive oil
Sea salt to taste
Remove kale from stems and tear into chip-size pieces. Toss with olive oil and spread onto baking sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt and place in pre-heated 200 degree oven for 45 minutes.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sustainability: A Homegrown Lifestyle

Sustainability is a word used to describe a way of life for many people, including ourselves.  My husband and I live next door to his parents, and when I say next door I mean in the country with an area of woods between our houses.  Up the road are my father-in-law’s cousin and her family, and on the back side of the farm are my husband’s grandmother, two aunts, and their families.  Those are just who is in immediate proximity.  His cousins, aunts, and uncles live all around us within a few miles; and most of us chose a sustainable way of life.  It was the way the older generations survived; by their own means.  It is not how I grew up, and it was not my husband’s first or second choice as to how he thought we would be living.  It all started with me wanting a garden.  I didn’t grow up around gardens, but always wanted one.  After our second child was born, my father-in-law and husband tilled up a spot in our backyard and I started my first garden.  I bought books on gardening and eventually about canning and freezing.  I was a self-made woman who was providing healthy, home grown food for my family.  I loved it!  As the years have passed our gardens have grown to a large vegetable garden, a smaller herb garden, a flourishing fruit orchard, 40 chickens, 8 ducks, 60 guineas, 7 Nubian dairy goats, two horses, a miniature donkey, two dogs, and a cat named fluffy.  It keeps us busy with feed bills, maintenance, and little adventures along the way.  We now provide ourselves with seasonal vegetables, fresh fruit and herbs, farm fresh eggs, and raw dairy milk on a daily basis.  The men enjoy hunting for deer, rabbits, squirrel, and turkey.  They are not trophy hunters and only kill what we eat.  I have the joy of making fresh rosemary chicken sausage or sage duck sausages.  We have large freezers to store meat and some fruits and veggies.  We had an ice storm in 2009 and were without power for 9 days; it reminded me how much I loved canning those veggies and fruit jams.  There is a new food movement among us along with urban gardening and a growth in hobby farms.  More and more people are appreciating the freshness and hard work of taking care of themselves and their families the same way their ancestors did.  They say history repeats itself.  Perhaps this is our new path as history is coming full circle.  With surging gas prices, unemployment, and larger grocery bills; sustainability is fast becoming a way of survival for some.  I have the pleasure of being a leader for the state of Kentucky in the B Kind 2 Earth challenge.  Ask yourselves this, what are you doing in the means of sustainability?

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Farm-Life Update with a Cheesecake Bites Recipe

It has been a very busy couple of weeks on the farm.  I have really gotten into cooking again; making cheesecake bites, corn dogs, cracker stix.  All wheat, soy, peanut, and tree nut free!  My daughter’s teacher has been on top of things with information regarding classroom treats, allowing me to be on top of it as well.  It has been great!  There’s not any stress when you know what’s expected.  I have found a new pizza crust mix that I am in love with thanks to our local health food store, it’s called Chebe.  I also bought the cinnamon roll mix and am looking forward to trying my hand at maple bacon cinnamon rolls with a little sweet and savory.  Sounds yummy just thinking about it.  My cheesecake bites came out wonderfully, they currently have a home in a giant freezer bag to allow us to keep and enjoy them for as long as possible.  We have had a lot of fun with themed dinners around our house.  The other day we had a diner-themed dinner with homemade corn dogs, cheese fries, and milkshakes.  It definitely wasn’t the healthiest meal in the world, but so what!  We had a blast eating and playing a mean game of go fish!  I have been milking my Nubian, Heidi, for a week now.  There’s nothing better to me than making cheese, yogurt, butter, and ice cream from farm-fresh, sustainable ingredients.  With the additions of my herb garden, orchard, and vegetable garden the flavors are limitless.  Two roosters from our farm are currently being prepared to use as sausage for our family; they are super flavorful with some of our rosemary in my garden.  I know a farm lifestyle can be overwhelming to some.  For us, it’s a lifestyle choice to provide for our family as sustainably and organic as possible.  We have seen dramatic changes in our daughter and her health.  When we initially began as a treatment for her autism, we saw results.  Since expanding our changes to limit her food allergies as well, our family has never been healthier.  I may be “jinxing” this as I say it, but we haven’t dealt with ear infections, strep throat, or the flu like others have.  The only health challenges we have had is sinus and allergy problems as the weather changes from one extreme to the next.  Which, living in Kentucky, happens on a daily basis at times.  Below I have listed our cheesecake bites recipe.

Cheesecake Bites

1 recipe for vanilla bean cheesecake without the crust.
Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips

Prepare cheesecake batter and spoon into mini-muffin tin; filling ¾ way full.  Place muffin tin in water bath and cook at 300 degrees for 20 minutes.  Turn oven off, do not open door.  Allow cakes to reduce heat slowly.  Remove from oven and sit on counter to cool to room temperature.  When room temperature, use butter knife to remove cakes onto platter.  Once all the cheesecakes have been made; place platter in refrigerator to allow to cool.  They will be easier to dip in chocolate if firmer.  Melt Enjoy Life chocolate chips in double boiler on stove top, dip cakes in chocolate and place on wax paper until cooled. 

These make a great treat.  Time consuming to make but worth it.  I fix on a rainy day and place in freezer bag until ready.