Cardamom Ginger Snaps

My house smells so good right now. I am really craving the fall and winter festivities. The pumpkins, the warmth of spices, curling up on the couch in blankets…cookies…

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Alright back to reality…or at least toss out the idea of afternoon naps. Sigh.

I had a craving for some ginger snaps today…random,  I know. I think its my subconscious reacting to my poorly digested Mexican food from yesterday.  Ginger snaps are one of those things I think you either love or you hate. So if you’re on the hater side, you prob want to skip this recipe. Unless you think you might be cured from your hating by trying my awesome recipe. I claim no cures…

On the other hand, these cookies make a lovely home freshener. Pungent ginger smell mixed with cinnamon and a pop of that super fresh cardamom smell…ahh…it’s good for the dreary day. And the uneasy stomach if you happened to eat something you probably should not have.

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Before I proceed with the recipe…I should go ahead and address that look on your face…the “Holy dude what the hay is cardamom?” look. It’s ok, I promise it’s not that scary. And I promise to refrain from all bad jokes regarding moms or cards or anything like that. If you know this amazing spice and its super powers…proceed to the recipe. For the rest of you…

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Cardamom is a spice that comes from a plant in the ginger family. (No wonder it tastes so good in these cookies!) The variety I use comes in a small green pod. The seeds inside the pod are what we use for cooking. It’s often used in middle eastern dishes. It’s a very different flavor than you may have experienced before…almost like a spicey, citrus, floraly flavor. It’ truly unique. You gotta try it! There are a couple different types of cardamom, but the kind I use is called green cardamom. It’s not that hard to find in stores, although I think you would have best of luck finding it Indian food stores or in stores like Whole Foods in the bulk section. I recommend that you only buy it in the whole pod form. They sell ground cardamom, but this is one of those spices that you loose a TON of flavor after its been ground. Soo, it means more work for you but its worth it. So how do you work with these strange little things? First off, each pod has about 6-8 seeds in it. The easiest way to get these seeds out is to gently smash the pod with the side of a chef knife. Then use your fingers to break it open and dump out the seeds! You will then need to crush the seeds a bit as you probably don’t want to bite an entire seed…they are strong tasting! I use a mortar and pestle. You could use a coffee grinder, or even just the blunt end of a butter knife in a cup or bowl that won’t break from you hitting it with metal! Make sense? Just crush the seeds however you can…they aren’t that hard!

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Cardamom Ginger Snaps

Ingredients

  • 2 cups + 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 cardamom pods worth of seeds. About a 1/2 tsp crushed cardamom seeds. (See note above)
  • 12 tablespoons butter at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 teaspoons grated fresh ginger (I find that the microplane does an excellent job!)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup organic molasses
  • For coating: 1/4 cup sugar + 1/2 tsp powdered ginger mixed

Directions

  1. In a small bowl combine flour, baking soda, and spices.
  2. With a hand mixer, cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl.
  3. Add egg, fresh ginger, vanilla extract & molasses and mix.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix. You may need to use a spatula at this point! Dough should be thick!
  5. Scooping a spoonful at a time, roll the dough in your hands to make a ball.
  6. Drop the ball in the sugar coating mixture and roll around until coated.
  7. Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 mins. 12 min will yield a softer cookie, if you like crunchy traditional “snap” cookie bake longer…maybe even closer to 16 min.
  9. Let cookies cool slightly before transferring to a cooling rack.

While I was sitting here working on typing up this post earlier, Elyse decided to sneak into the kitchen, get a chair and start chowing down on these. I was obviously too focused. I eventually caught her…this is her running away with a handful of cookies laughing her head off. Oh children…

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Miracle Pops

Okay, so maybe they are not miraculous. That’s a pretty strong word. Maybe they are just blow-your-mind-cool. Popsicles…that don’t melt. Yah, you heard me. Have you heard about them before? I have seen them a few times on Pinterest and I thought I would bring it up again. Just so that I can personally attest to their awesomeness.

But why? Why do I want a popsicle that doesn’t melt? That sounds gross! Let me introduce you to my 2 year old. Elyse. She likes to procrastinate take her time eating. Like A LOT of time. She will pick at something for HOURS if I let her (which I usually don’t). She’s the kind of girl who can savor the candy bar. Unlike some of us who scarf it down so quickly we want another one because we already forgot how good it tasted 10 seconds ago. Yah, that’s me. Elyse might actually be able to take leftovers home from a restaurant and have them for lunch the following day. I on the other hand, will probably eat them before going to bed. (Nasty midnight snack habit here.) So that my friends, is why these non-melting popsicles are awesome. My babe can take her sweet time eating them and I don’t have to worry about sweet stickiness covering the walls, chairs, furniture, and carpets in my house. Not that it entirely matters, I think I would still choose strawberry popsicle smeared on the wall over some of the things that get smeared on the wall. Why do kids feel it necessary to rub their boogers on the wall anyways? Sorry, TMI. I do clean them, I promise.

So we whipped up a batch of these the other day and put them in our super cute Ikea (leeerrrvv that place) popsicle dealy-bobs. Ok so it’s actually called an Ice Pop Maker, and sadly you cannot buy them online. Boo, I need more. Ikea trip anyone?!

Now, word to the wise. The wise being the parents in this case. My kids will eat just about anything if it is in the form of a popsicle. Something about it’s cold cute shape with cute little handle. I mean, we’ve made liver pops before, green bean pops, dirty sock pops. Tee hee, I just laughed at myself. Ok, not really, thats gross. But they do seem to eat pretty much whatever I make in the shape of a popsicle. They really enjoy a “Hulk Pop” with banana, spinach or kale, and some yogurt. Like a frozen green smoothie. It’s actually pretty good. These un-meltable popsicles have a bit of a strange texture…to me that is…to the kids, they thought it was some kind of magical thing and didn’t mind the texture one bit. So my wise word is, that if you are only making these for yourself…you might want to move onto greener pastures as these seem to fit the younger crowd palate more appropriately. But now I have intrigued you….

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Miracle Un-Meltable Popsicles

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen berries (we used strawberries, but seriously you can use anything you want)
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1/4 cup yogurt, milk kefir, or plain milk
  • 1 cup boiling water or 100% juice
  • 1 tablespoon grass-fed gelatin
  • Honey to sweeten to taste (we don’t need it in ours!)
  • Any extras your heart desires (kale? Spinach? Pepperoni?)

Directions

Place fruit, yogurt, honey and extras in a blender (we use the Vitamix). In a glass measuring cup mix 1 cup of boiling water or juice with the gelatin. Stir to dissolve the gelatin. Pour this mixture into the blender. Blend everything together until smooth. Pour into popsicle molds. Place in the freezer and freeze for a few hours. Any extra mixture can be put into a bowl and placed in the fridge. It will turn into smoothie jello.

Easy as pie and the variations are endless. Mix it up! Try new things! Just be sure to dissolve your gelatin in some hot liquid otherwise it will be a big clumpy mess. And we don’t like clumpy pops right? And by the way…this Gelatin is super healthy for you. I’d love for you to read up on why gelatin is so healthy for you. I recommend using a high quality gelatin that comes from animals (yes, it does come from animals) that are treated respectfully and given a diet that is both beneficial for them and for us. Unfortunately, the commercial gelatins you will find at the supermarkets are feed-lot animals, and so they are not going to provide you with the healthy properties that a good gelatin delivers. Mk? Ps- Don’t be afraid of the price, a little goes a long way!

Give it a whirl! And let me know if you happen to live by Ikea and want to send me some more of these cool popsicle dealy-bobs. 😉

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Coconut Flour Peppermint Brownies

Coconut flour scares me. I’ve tried many recipes and they have all failed miserably. Not to mention Coconut flour is expensive. Or at least it WAS…until my beloved Costco started selling it by the 4 pound bag. SCORE! I was determined as usual not to give up. We’ve tried a few things here and there that were ok, but I’m gonna be honest, cooking with any alternative flour is an experience for your palate. We have to let go of the expectation that it’s going to taste the same. Alright? Oranges taste like oranges not apples. Wheat tastes like wheat. Coconut flour tastes like…well, coconut flour. (Ps-It doesn’t really taste like coconut, it’s pretty bland on its own so its versatile).

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So. Brownies. Yes, that’s why we are here right? I just feel obligated to fill up the page with words before posting a recipe and a (less than professional) photo. I really want to invest in a better camera someday (sorry iPhone). Okay, I am not going to lie to you…because that would not be very nice…but while these brownies taste great…they taste healthy. Come on, you know what I mean. I mean, they ARE healthy. Like you-can-eat-a-whole-pan healthy. BUT, they don’t taste like the (no names mentioned but starts with a “G” and ends with “delli”) boxed ones. Leave those hopes at the door. Instead, opt for this yummy, gluten free, refined sugar free, high fat brownies. If you cringed at the last part, you need to go read my article on fat ok? One last word- I have added a some peppermint flavor in the form of a high quality Essential oil. I use Young Living oils as they are safe for eating, please be mindful that not just any peppermint oil will do. If you don’t have that oil, feel free to use peppermint extract or leave it out. 🙂 Mk? Let’s go.

Coconut Flour Peppermint Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tablespoons Coconut Flour
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup or honey (or 1/2 and 1/2 of both)
  • 5 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 drops Young Living Peppermint Essential Oil (if doubling stick to 3 drops)

Instructions:

It’s really easy. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Put all of the ingredients in a bowl and stir to incorporate everything. Pour in a small pan (I used a glass bread pan). Cook for 30 minutes. Let cool in pan for as long as you can, ideally like 30 mins…otherwise it kinda falls apart. If you want to double the recipe, use an 8×8 pan. Triple it for a bigger pan. They are pretty rich and dense so a little goes a long way.

There ya go.

Now, don’t all run to Costco at the same time for this amazing deal on coconut flour.

P.S- If you need some Peppermint oil, give me a holler, I can hook you up. 🙂

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Babies, Duckies, Puppies & Yummies

Is it terrible that I am sitting here eating coconut macaroons, dreaming of ducklings and puppies? I should be like washing and folding baby clothes or something…I think my nesting instincts are more interested in researching and preparing for ducks then they are interested in washing yet another baby worth of clothes. Somehow, that doesn’t spark my fancy right now. I keep telling Alex I need to get the crib set up and he just sighs and laughs at me because we both know how well the crib worked for our other kids. Read: It Didn’t. About 2 days of no sleeping them babies are nestled right up with us in the big ol King bed and we all sleep peacefully. I have heard my fair share of negativity regarding this choice. Anyways. This is not a post about co-sleeping. This is a post about…hmmm, well…not sure really…macaroons? Mmmm… I am slightly addicted to them. That is probably an understatement. Hang on…lemme go get another one.

Ok back.

So, I got my first “To Read in 2014” (see this post for more) book in this week.

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I know, I am officially a homesteading geek. I dream of lush gardens, fresh apples, country air, spring weather, bare feet, and ducks. Yes…I have actually dreamt about ducks. As part of my 2014 goals, I would really really  like to get some ducklings. Why you ask? Why not chickens? Lemme give you the 5 second low-down.

  • Ducks are cuter. (Ok so that’s not the best reason but…)
  • Ducks lay eggs as much as chickens (or better!)
  • Ducks are much much more resistant to extreme weather (tolerate very cold and very hot without much needed help). Unlike chickens who need pampering…
  • Ducks are much more resistant to diseases and parasites and have less overall health issues
  • Duck eggs are hello good. Like for real, if you have never had a duck egg…well. Get one. I’ll give you your first one free once I’m in abundance.
  • Ducks are excellent foragers and LOVE to eat all sorts of bugs that chickens sometimes overlook…like Fire Ants. I sorta feel bad for them, but I sure could use some help in that department. Ducks also eat lots of hard-shelled insects that chickens sometimes overlook. I can take all the help I can get for that.
  • Did I mention they are cute? Ok…stop me now…

Houdini

Sorry if that took you more than 5 seconds to read.

Problem is…we have so much to do before lil Mr. comes. Not to mention that money is a bit tight around here with everything that needs to get saved up for and prepped. Car seats and vehicle maintenance are eating away at my duck fund. Not that there was ever a duck fund, but I like to think there is…Sigh. And in the back of my mind I think I might be slightly crazy even entertaining the idea of getting baby ducks that will need a lot of attention right after a new baby is born. But that’s at the very back of my mind and my super woman “I-can-do-everything” mind is winning out. Naw, in all seriousness…I just want to walk out my door and collect some eggs for breakfast.

Moving on.

We recently traveled out of town for my grandmothers funeral, which was bittersweet, but we got to visit family that we hadn’t seen in years! Spent lots of time laughing and recalling memories of “Nanny”. While we were there we stayed with my uncle who had a big ol loving goldendoodle dog. We I fell in love and felt that I desperately needed one too. So, that’s where my puppy dreaming started…I really am just wishfully thinking that one will show up at a rescue near us and we can adopt since the whole tight wallet issue will most likely prevent a new dog for a while. Stop! I know what you are thinking. “Erica you need a smack upside yo head…you cannot possibly handle baby ducks, baby boys, and puppies this year.” Meh. I can dream! And if one showed up at my door, for heavens sake I would take it in. (If anyone wanted to just gift me a doodle puppy I wouldn’t resist!) Alright, alright.

Finally, I know all this posts about baby-ish things is probably making you feel a bit tired. How about I give you that recipe for the macaroons? Will you let me have a duckie and a puppy if I make you some cookies??

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Mmm…coconut yumminess….

Slightly Addictive Coconut Macaroons

Barely adapted from this recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup sugar, use organic if ya got it!
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 egg whites

Method:

Dump all ingredients into a bowl and mix until sticky. Use your hands to form small (or large if you’re into that) balls. (Don’t laugh out loud at that sentence.) Place on greased cookie sheet or parchment lined sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 2o mins. The last min or so I pop the broiler on just to give them a little more toasty look. I eat them strait off the cookie sheet. I suppose if you are the patient-type person, you could wait until they cool and dip in chocolate and then wait until they cool again. But that’s way too much waiting for me.

Alright. That’s enough for one night. Leave me a comment and lemme know what you think…I feel loved.

Chewy Delicious Cookies

Every now and then…wait…more like once a week…I get a craving for some cookies. Alex stumbled upon this recipe and the first time we made it we just looked at each other with wide eyes like “oh cookie where have you been all my life?” Ya’ll know I am not much of a cookbook girl, more of a blog-pinterest-make it up myself, kind of girl-so had he not tried these I probably never would have tried the recipe myself. Thank God for husbands who like to follow recipes. Rebel girl here. Anyways. After we made the cookies a few times we have tweaked a few things to make them match up more with our real foodie lifestyle, ya know. Good stuff.

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Now. I will warn you, these are highly, highly, HIGHLY addictive. I have been known to eat 4-5 in one sitting. I a humbly admitting this to you so that you don’t have to feel bad if you do the same. We’re paddling the same boat. No guilt. Tell yourself how much better these are for you than chemical laden alternatives that line the shelf of the stores. And we all know that most people can down a 1/2 dozen oreos in no time. *(Ps-that was not a hatin on Oreos sentence, I am just sayin…)

The other fun thing about these cookies is that they are entirely customizable. If you are a plain jane like me, I like just chocolate chips. Alex likes what we consider “trail mix” cookies with dried fruit, nuts and chocolate. Both entirely good. So add what you want, possibilities are endless for your “add-ins”. If you really want to be a rebel add some additional spices, such as nutmeg. Mmm. Just no oregano or anything like that, k?

Alright enough fluff. Here’s the recipe.

Chewy Delicious Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup sprouted flour (or combination of whole wheat and All-Purpose flour)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled *(If you use a cup or less of add-ins you can reduce butter to 4T).
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses (don’t skip this!)
  • 1/2 cup to 11/2 cups Add-Ins (such as chocolate chips, nuts, coconut, dried fruit, etc.)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Whisk oats, flour, salt, cinnamon and baking soda together in a bowl.

2. In large bowl whisk melted butter, egg, vanilla and sugar together until combined.

3. Stir the oat mixture into this wet mix. Then fold in the add-ins.

4. Take approx 1 Tablespoon of dough and with slightly wet hands, roll into a ball and place on cookie sheet.

6. Bake on middle rack in preheated oven for 13-16 minutes (usually closer to the 16 min mark). You want the edges to look set but the middle to look a little underdone. Over baking these will lead to a brittle cookie [bad]. If you slightly under bake them they will turn out chewy and delicious [good]. Let the cookies cool on the pan for 5-10 mins before moving to a cooling rack. Don’t try to peel them off right away they will break!

7. Store in an airtight container.

Note: I have gotten word from a friend, Hi Cara!, that these freeze well. I’ve never tried freezing as they hardly make it to the next day. One time I suggested to Alex that we freeze some and he just looked at me. You know, the look, the…”Are you kidding me?” look. So yeah. Maybe if I made a double batch but that’s just dangerous. Lol.

Hope you enjoy!

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-Erica