Flourless Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake

chocolatestrawberryshortcake

We celebrated a birthday this weekend! Bear is turning two. He had a Jake and the Neverland Pirates Party (he calls it Yo-Ho-Ho). I kept the decorations simple with some Jake party stuff, streamers, and balloons (we kept them up high since balloons can be an issue with corn allergies). I used these figures to top the cake.

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We made homemade vanilla ice cream (delicious) and a Flourless Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake to eat. The cake, that’s why I’m here. It was delicious. It was also completely grain free. It was not sugar free though. We celebrate birthdays with sugar, it’s a special treat that I think is okay. I don’t think I should make sugar so taboo that my kids grow up without knowing how to eat it in moderation. So I try to teach them what is healthy, to love healthy foods, and eat sweets in moderation. The cake tasted extremely decadent but compared to the 2.5 cups of sugar in many birthday cakes and the up to 8 cups of powdered sugar often used to ice a two layer cake, it did have a more moderate amount of sugar. About 1.5 cups total (estimate because I’m using chocolate chips and even when I’ve used homemade I didn’t measure the sugar just tasted when adding). So do you want the recipe?

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Ingredients:

Cake:

6oz melted chocolate chips (I’ve used homemade when making with cocoa butter before)

1 cup butter

1.25 cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

6 eggs

1 cup cocoa powder

Whipped Topping:

2 cups cream (or heavy cream)

2 tablespoons powdered sugar (can lower this amount)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Up to 2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced.

 

Directions:

Cake:

Grease (butter or palm shortening is what I use) a spring form pan and line bottom with parchment paper, also grease parchment paper.

Preheat oven to 375.

Melt chocolate chips and 1 cup of butter in a small pot over med-low heat.

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Stir often until completely melted and mixed well.

Pour into a bowl.

Add sugar and vanilla and mix well.

Add 1 egg at a time, whisking well after each addition

Sift (important!) cocoa powder into bowl and stir until just mixed (note: if you don’t have a sifter, measure cocoa powder into a small bowl and using a small whisk, whisk away all the little clumps until it’s lite and has no clumps left before adding).

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Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes and then remove the spring form sides, invert onto a plate. Remove the bottom of the pan and gently peel off the parchment paper.

Let cool completely and then place in refrigerator for at least an hour before topping.

Whipped Topping

Place bowl and whisk or whisk attachment for a mixer in the freezer or five minutes. Then pour cream (be sure it is kept in the fridge until the last minutes, cold makes this process go much faster) into a large bowl. Whip either by hand or using a mixer (mixer is significantly faster and you might want to trade off with someone if doing it by hand but I have done it both ways) until it gets thick, but prior to it forming peaks. Add sugar (feel free to use less or skip completely) and vanilla. Whip until stiff peaks form. Be  sure not to over whip or you will end up with a butter/buttermilk mixture.

Spread on the top and sides of the cake thickly. Place sliced strawberries into topping. I did them around the sides and edges in order to leave room for my Jake figures. If I weren’t using any figures I would have continued in a circular pattern to the middle with them though!

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10 Way To Eat More Broth

Broth and stock (they can mean slightly different things – I’ll just be calling it broth for the most part) are pretty big in the real food world. This is for good reason. Broth is full of nutrients and is very healing to the gut. The gelatin in broth helps to aid digestion and heal the digestive system. It reduces joint pain and inflammation due to the chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine  contained in it. The amino acids in it have general anti-inflammatory properties. Calcium and magnesium, among other nutrients, promote healthy bones, hair,nails, and skin. Due to the digestive aids in the broth these nutrients are more easily absorbed as well. (Sources 1, 2, 3).  Making broth at home is very easy (I’ll share my lazy crock pot method at the end) and saves a lot of money — not to mention that many of the ones on the market have added MSG and other chemicals.

broth

Now the question is left as to how do we eat it? What’s the best way to get lots of broth into our diet?

1. Soup, this is obvious and easy! This Chicken noodle soup is one of our favorite ways.

2. Drink it! Add some salt and drink it up. I recommend chicken, make it a stock with meat still on the bones, and it will taste much better.

3. Gravy. Add carrots and potatoes to the broth and boil them until tender. Use a stick blender and blend them until smooth. Continue to cook down until a nice thick gravy is made.

4. Cook rice in it. The rice will soak up the broth while cooking.

5. Cook veggies in it. Making veggies more nutritious is always a good thing.

6. Use it, along with a fat, in the bottom of your pan when sauteing meats and veggies.

7. Use for cooking pastas. Much of this will go down the drain so I use water from not as strong a batch for this (3rd batch for chicken, 4th for beef generally).

8.  Use it in place of the water in savory breads. 

9. Add it to stir fry recipes. 

10. Replace wines in savory dish recipes with broth. 

 

How to Make Broth

From a chicken:

1st Batch:

Note: I normally use the back from here for this batch, but a whole chicken, chicken legs, etc. work just as well.

Cover with water, add salt, and boil in a large stock pot until chicken is falling apart (may also cook overnight in a crock pot on low). Separate meat and use for casseroles, soups, etc. Save bones to make a 2nd batch of broth. Save  this stock. It’s pretty plain at this point but easy to cook with and use in recipes. If you are going to drink it you may want to boil a bit longer with some veggies (you can use peels and ends that you might otherwise throw away here as well) and add salt and pepper for taste.

2nd Batch

Note: If you save your bones from other meals (I often save chicken legs/thighs in my freezer from a couple of meals) you can just start at this point.

Place bones in a crock pot, add 1 tablespoon of vinegar, some salt, and cover with water. Let sit for up to 30 minutes before turning on, the vinegar helps pull the nutrients from the bones during this time. Cook for 24 ours. Drain out the broth and save to use as listed above.

3rd Batch:

Replace the bones in the crockpot, add more vinegar and salt, the cover with water. Cook for another 24 hours. This batch is usually weaker so I use it for cooking pasta since much of this will go down the drain.

From Beef Bones:

1st Batch:

Place bones in a crock pot, add 1 tablespoon of vinegar, salt, and cover with water. Let sit for up to 30 minutes before turning on. Cook for 24 ours. Drain out the broth and save to use as listed above.

Repeat for 4-5 batches. The last batches will not have as much gelatin but it is good for using in things like pasta, where much of it goes down the drain so I don’t want to use “good” broth.

With beef I often have a layer of white fat on top of the gelled (or sometimes liquid in later batches) broth once it has cooled. I normally take this off and use it for cooking rather than melt into the broth when using it. I told you homemade broth was a great way to save money — you even get fat for cooking!

Feel free to refrigerate bones in between batches if you can’t start the next one yet.

I store in mason jars — fridge when using quickly, freezer for longer storage.

Baking Mix Biscuits

I have a few different biscuit recipes. All of which I love on different occasions. These are my quick biscuits. I reach for them when the kids are staging a revolt because it’s time to eat and I need something fast. I reach for them when I need a meal to take to the park (yes, my kids have eaten peanut butter and jam biscuits or lunch). They are easy. I can make them half asleep in the mornings. If you already have the baking mix made you literally only need to pull it and the milk out. I would say not much clean-up but we currently have grape jam for our biscuits and with a nearly 2 and 3.5-year-old there is a lot of clean-up.

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Ingredients:

2 and 1/4 cups homemade baking mix

2/3 cup milk

Method:

Measure the baking mix into a bowl, let sit to unthaw for a couple minutes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare a baking pan  (parchment paper, grease it, or pick something non-stick like stoneware). Now add the milk to the bowl and stir until well mixed. If you’re looking for perfect looking biscuits you can roll out about 3/4 inch thick on a floured surface and use a biscuit cutter. Usually I just grab about 1/4 cup of dough in my hand and roll it into a ball and the flatten it to a bout 3/4-1 inch thick. Cook for 8-12 minutes until just starting to brown a little (check the bottoms, some pans the bottom browns faster).

biscuits1

Food Allergies: Emergency Food Stash

This is one of those allergy posts. I said I’d discuss allergies and here it is. With kids who can’t eat out due to corn allergies (where’s the corn?) I have to plan ahead more than most people perhaps. While so many “preppers” are concerned about an emergency food stash in case of a catastrophic event, I’m more worried about having something for if a kid breaks their arm and we spend several hours in an emergency room or urgent care. We can’t just have Grandma bring us Chick-fil-a. This is probably far more likely (especially knowing my 2-year-old who already has had an urgent care trip). To address this I’ve come up with three things.

emergency food1

 

Stock the Freezer

My goal is to keep meals in the freezer. I had quite a few meals in their during my pregnancy but that’s a pretty depleted stash now though. Over the next month I want to stock my freezer. My method is pretty simple: double freezer-friendly recipes and freeze them. I particular want to freeze the meals that have a short amount of time from freezer-to-the-table. Canning meals would also be a great idea and would cover power outages but isn’t one I’m up to quite yet.

Emergency Food Bag

This is a bag that I’ll keep in the freezer with some non-messy, filling, snack type foods. This is the bag I can grab (or ask someone to grab) if we’re heading out unexpectedly for no idea how long (urgent care visits). I plan to keep homemade sausage balls, sliced carrots, gummies, and some butter buttons (fat is very filling) in it. These will be put separately in small ziploc and then placed in one large one and kept easily accessible in the deep freezer. Since I will be keeping in the deep freezer it should be okay for six months and then I’ll pull it out and trade in new snacks.

Stock The Car

I’m going to also keep some snacks in the car. These need to be snacks that can handle very hot temperatures in the car and stay good long term. I think nuts and dried fruit are both good for these conditions. 

I think this plan should work. Last time I grabbed half a block of cheese for our urgent care trip and was thankful my husband had a pocket knife to slice it with. If you or your child has food allergies do you keep an emergency food stash? 

Shared at Allergy Free WednesdayReal Food Wednesday, and Fight Back Friday.

Sausage Cheese Balls

sausageballs no bisquick

I love these for a quick lunch served with some fruit or to take with us somewhere. With the quick mix made ahead of time there is very little work — even when I make the sausage homemade (I’ll be sharing that recipe next month on Modern Alternative Mama). I’m starting to plan for an emergency food bag in the freezer and I believe I’ll put some of these into it as well.

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Ingredients:

2.5 cups Homemade Baking Mix**

1lb breakfast sausage (not cooked)

8 oz cheddar cheese

sausageballs2

Method:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Put ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Roll into 1 inch balls by first squeezing so the stick together and then rolling in between your hands. Place on a cookie sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. It makes 3-4 dozen.

 

**If you don’t have quick mix you can substitute 2.25 cups flour, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 tspn baking powder.

 

I shared this on the Homestead Barn Hop and Fat Tuesday.

Homemade Baking Mix

Here’s where I introduce you to my little homemade Bisquick mix. I was pretty desperate for something easier when I was pregnant. I was exhausted and feeding two little corn allergic kids (aka absolutely nothing store-bought or out to eat ever) and needed something easy. I had never cooked with Bisquick pre-real food/corn allergies so I had no idea how convenient this could be, but it is convenient to be able to pull out of your freezer any time. So whether you are used to the convenience of Bisquick and need a replacement to ease into real foods or you have never used Bisquick a day in your life I highly recommend giving this a try!

QuickMix1

I’ll be sharing some recipes over the next couple of weeks using this, but in general you should be able to use it in your “bisquick” recipe.

Adapted from Heavenly Homemakers.

10 Cup Whole Wheat Flour (I use a white wheat)

1/8 cup baking soda

1/4 cup cream of tartar

2 tspn salt

1 cup butter (softened)*

1 cup palm shortening*

**You can use all palm shortening or all butter or sub coconut oil for this.

Mix all the dry ingredients well (it’s 10 cups of flour so it requires heavy mixing). Add in butter and palm shortening and mix in well. You don’t want any pieces larger than a pea size, like when making biscuits. It should be nice and crumbly. Store in a gallon ziploc bag in the freezer and pull out as needed.

I’ll share a sausage ball recipe using this on Friday!

 

Shared at Real Food Wednesday and We Are That Family

What To Do With a Whole Chicken

Whole Chickens are amazingly cost-saving by the pound. I try to buy 3-4 at one time, cut them up (actually my husband does this task for me), and then freeze by meals. We get boneless breasts, thighs, legs, wings, and the carcass.This is a great way to save money. If you are buying organic or pastured chickens they can be very expensive. Just an example of our meals (feeding 2 adults and 2 kids): when I buy 3 whole chicken we get 6 boneless breasts (2 meals), 6 thighs/legs (2 meals), 6 wings (1 meal), and 3 carcasses (3 meals) for a total of 8 meals. If I had just spent this money on thighs (the cheaper cut) I would have only gotten 5 meals at the price I pay, and they would have been skimpier on meat than most of the meals here. You can always stretch this further as well — I have used just one breast to make a delicious stir fry before.

Whole chicken1

For us we like the breasts for chicken parmesan, fried chicken, roasting, stir fry, chicken fried rice, and so on. Boneless breasts are some of the easiest cuts to use. I would be paying 2/3s the cost of a whole chicken for the 2 boneless breasts we cut from it alone.

We also get two chicken thighs/legs. We leave them together. These are also a pretty easy cut. Spicy Honey Glazed Chicken is our recent favorite.

I collect the wings into a bag until we have enough wings for a meal. I’ve been trying out some new recipes for them. Frying with a homemade spicy BBQ sauce is delicious though!

And then the carcass is perfect for making chicken noodle soup or a chicken rice casserole that I’ll be sharing soon. Or you can just make some broth. We use it to cook all our rice and pasta to help add nutrients to it.

Here are a couple helpful videos on cutting up a whole chicken since I think that is the normal drawback people have to buying a whole chicken versus cuts of chicken. I know it was mine personally. I could only do so much with a whole chicken (roast, boil, crock pot). Now I can do anything with it.

Bone-in Breasts

Boneless Breasts

 

Keeper of the Home has a great blog about this as well, which is where I found the videos and idea originally.

 

I shared this post in the Homestead Barn Hop and at Fat Tuesday.

Homemade Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

We’ve tried a lot of pizza dough recipes over the last few years. We love pizza and it’s been a personal challenge to make it perfect. I’ll share our pizza sauce recipe this summer when we have tomatoes again for the sauce. I’m now working (and so far failing) at making some homemade pepperoni for it. We’ll eventually perfect pizza completely. Currently we’ve perfected pizza dough though. And it freezes well. It requires some “think ahead” time but it helps develop the flavor so much more. I recommend a rise of 8-12 hours. A little more is okay, 8 is pretty much the minimum though. Also, a scale is better for this recipe, but I’ll include cups in case as long as you promise to be aware that the water might need a little adjustment. A cup of flour can vary between 4-6 ounces (113-170grams) in weight per Michael Ruhlman ‘s amazing book, I find my white whole wheat is closer to 6 ounces, but have went with the average of 5 ounces for my conversion.

Note: I’ve adapted this from this recipe on Smitten Kitchen (also check out her pizza making tips), I’ve adjusted it for whole wheat flour, the cups measurement are quite different but by weight it is the same. It does not adjust as well to a shorter rise time though.

pizza3

 

 

Ingredients:

375 grams flour (roughly 2.5 cups)

1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cup warm water (start with 1 cup and up to 1.5 cups water if measuring cups of flour versus weight)

Method:

Mix all the ingredients together well, knead a little bit. Yes, that simple. No proofing yeast or anything. It won’t be a smooth, perfect ball. That’s okay. It will be wet as well. Place in a bowl, cover and let sit for 8-12 hours.

pizza dough

 

When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 475 degrees, if using a stone and parchment paper place the stone in the oven to preheat. Cover the counter top in flour and roll the ball of dough in the flour. The easiest way then is to cut a piece of parchement paper the size of your pan (I prefer a stone but it is not necessary). Then using flour covered hands and flour the ball of dough gentle stretch until fits nicely on the parchment paper. Curl the edges up a little.

Then add your sauce, cheese, and toppings. Pop in the oven at 475 degrees until cheese is bubbly. Usually less than ten minutes.

If you want to freeze the pizza: Make into 2-3 smaller crusts that will fit into a ziploc freezer bag. Put the pizzas in the freezer with the sauce, cheese, and toppings on it on top of the parchment paper (and placed on a pan to keep it steady). Let it freeze for a minimum of four hours and then wrap in foil and pop in a ziploc bag. When ready to cook let sit at room temperature while the oven preheats to 475 degrees. Place on a pan and cook until cheese is bubbly, about 12 minutes.

Coconut Butter Cookies

coconut butter cookies

These are a quick, easy, and yummy treat. They are also gluten/grain free and sweetened with only honey. You can likely make these dairy free with coconut oil or palm shortening but I haven’t tried yet. Coconut flour is also full of protein to balance the sugar from the honey. This lowers the glycemic index in these cookies. These cookies take about 20 minutes from start to finish, a great last minute snack or dessert when you forgot one – especially for those who have to take their own food everywhere due to allergies.

Ingredients:

7 tbls Coconut flour

2 tbls honey

1/2 tspn vanilla extract

4 tbls butter

1/8 tspn salt

Method:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a pan (non-stick, parchment paper, or greased). cocobut1 Place all ingredients in food processor and process until smoothed.

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Scoop generous 2 teaspoons and form into a ball and then gently flatten. You can flatten using a fork for a prettier effect.

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Bake for  8-12 minutes until they start to turn golden brown. Let sit and cool completely on pan before moving or they will fall apart.

Should make about 8-10 cookies.

cocobut4

Homemade Granola

I loved this recipe when I first had my son in December. Oatmeal is extremely helpful with your milk supply if you are nursing — I could eat it earlier in the day and have more milk by that afternoon. It’s also a very easy to grab snack when you’re busy with a new baby. I love to mix it with some plain yogurt.
As a note: I can't make this safe for my kids allergies, I don't have the ingredients, but it's a nice mommy snack.

granola3

Ingredients:

1 tbls light brown sugar

1 tbls cinnamon

1 tspn salt

1/4 cup honey

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup coconut oil

1 tspn vanilla extract

3 cups oats

1 cup shredded coconut

1 cup chopped nuts (optional – I prefer pecans)

1 cup dried fruit (optional)

Granola

Method:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix first 7 ingredients together (liquids and sweeteners). Then add oats, coconut, and nuts (if using). Mix thoroughly together. Pour onto a large baking sheet. Bake for up to 35 minutes, stirring and checking on it every 7 minutes. After baking allow mixture to cool somewhat. Stir it up (may need a bit of breaking up), then add in dried fruit if using and store in an airtight container.

granola2

Do you have a favorite postpartum snack?