Wednesday, October 24, 2012

No-Bake Coconut-Oat-Chocolate-Peanut Butter Bites

Okay, so I didn't know what to call these. I basically just listed all the ingredients. They are similar to those no-bake energy bites that are viral on pinterest, but they don't have flax seed or chocolate chips and they do have cocoa powder.

I attempt to make food with only the ingredients I keep stocked in the house, so I usually end up adjusting recipes after comparing two or three similar ones. I had no idea how much cocoa powder would make it chocolatey enough without overdoing it, so I compared ratios of sweetness, dry ingredients, and cocoa powder to No-bake chocolate coconut macaroons at Red and Honey. I was originally going for macaroons, but then I wanted some peanut butter and oats as well.

These are awesome and Noah had fun licking a little peanut butter and honey in the process. He excitedly said the honey was "Good!".

No-Bake Coconut-Oat-Chocolate-Peanut Butter Bites

1 cup dry oats
3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut*
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup peanut butter*
1/3 cup raw honey*
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix the first three ingredients in medium bowl. Add the last three ingredients and mash them together against the side of the bowl. Start mashing the dry ingredients into the wet goop. Use your hands at any point and just keep squeezing it all together like play dough. Squeeze and form that lumpy play dough into balls and store in air tight container. Yields this many:

That's it! Super easy and yummy! I prefer to soak grains, but this was one of those things that just had to happen.

*Notes on ingredients:
I haven't been able to find unsweetened shredded coconut in regular supermarkets around here. I have found it in natural food stores, but I ended up buying mine in bulk online for my granola recipe. My peanut butter was unsalted organic arrowhead mills - nothing but organic dry roasted peanuts. If you use conventional PB, your bites might be slightly sweeter than mine because they add sweetener to many brands. It also might have a great salty sweet combo if you don't buy unsalted. I used raw honey which is really thick like peanut butter, so if you use liquid/filtered and pasteurized honey, you might need extra dry ingredients, or you might want to hold back some honey to see if it needs it all.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Our favorite soaps - Apple Valley Natural Soap

I wanted to do this post today because Apple Valley Natural Soap is having a giveaway. They want to get to 2000 likes on facebook and are going to giveaway 3 of their new shampoo bars: Italian Garden, White China Silk, Jajoba Silk Conditioning. Here is the blog post with the giveaway:

They didn't ask me to do a review, and I don't get extra entries into the giveaway by doing this, but I really like their product and I've had people ask me about what we use. Some people know we make a lot of things from scratch and were wondering if we make our soap from scratch too. We won't make soap because we LOVE these bars and honesty don't want to go through the work of learning to make soap like this. These bars are beautiful and work great.

Apple Valley Natural Soap is a Christian family who started making their own soap to help some of their kids that had skin issues. From there it developed into a family business. You can read more about them on their About page, but here is a quote: 
"We do not give credit to "nature" and praise to "mother earth" ...beautiful and treasured things that the Creator created...rather than giving honor and thanks to the Creator Himself. Our desire is to honor the Ultimate Source...the Creator God who lovingly designed all these wonderful, natural oils and botanicals specifically for the use of mankind. His love and mercy toward the human race is truly an amazing thing. HE "naturally" deserves the credit, the thanks, and the glory!"

If you are interested in why we switched to shampoo bars, read on. :-)

The way the soap comes out of the padded envelope. Looks so nice! And a free sample.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

(Yogurt) Biscuits from a homemade mix

We have a new favorite "side" for dinners: biscuits! I have two little ebooks that I purchased last year that have recipes for mixes you can use or give away as gifts. I've been using the cornbread mix for a while and decided I wanted buttermilk biscuits the other day. I adjusted it a little for what I have:

(adapted from recipes in Little Cottage Mama's Wholesome Mixes and Holiday Mixes and Gifts in a Jar)

Mix the following ingredients together and store in an air tight container until ready to use:

8 C fresh ground soft white winter wheat flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
8 tsp sugar (or leave this out)
8 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt

per batch:
2 rounded cups mix
1/3 C coconut oil (or butter)
2/3 cup or less of yogurt water (or buttermilk or milk+vinegar mix)

When ready for biscuits, preheat the oven to 450. Put 2 rounded cups mix and 1/3 C coconut oil in food processor and process until you have little crumbles. Dump that and 2/3 cup yogurt water into another bowl and mix just until combined. Put a handful of flour on the table, knead the dough a little and add flour until it doesn't stick to everything (lol). Then pat it down flat to a 3/4 inch thickness and cut with anything round like a tumbler cup (or free form like I did with Noah). Place on greased cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. Makes about 10.

This is the way we prefer it, but you can substitute many of the ingredients as I've noted above. Since I make my own yogurt (plain yogurt), the cool thing about using yogurt water instead of the milk+vinegar mixture is that I only use a couple tablespoons worth of yogurt, which translates to only a couple tablespoons of raw milk. It saves money because I would use a lot of milk if I made the milk+vinegar mix every time I wanted cornbread or biscuits. (and I'll mention again that making your own yogurt saves money too! It costs us $1.50 for a quart of raw milk - which makes a quart of yogurt - instead of $3.50 for a quart of plain stoneyfield yogurt!)

I had Noah help me make the biscuits the other day to go with lunch - but mostly because I thought he would have fun. Last week we had biscuits with a few chicken meals and then had biscuits with homemade gravy for lunch - so yummy!

adding his contribution to the middle

I love this stone that was a wedding gift from my Grammie. I only started using it a month ago.

showing me his messy hands

spreading flour

Eating his creation

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Favorite things - blueberries, crockpot meals and dishwashers

I figure as long as I feel like posting, I might as well. I've had a long lists of things to do for the past two days, and today seems to be a little more relaxed. I was excited to take our yogurt out of the oven yesterday morning, and to see new canned items going on the shelves. I'm realizing that I'm going to hit mid winter and morn over the lack of canned tomatoes, and frozen blueberries. I made a smoothy with blueberries, bananas and yogurt and realized that there just weren't enough blueberries - and those are expensive when you buy them from a store. Oh well, I'm thankful for what we managed to freeze.

Our house has been a lot more peaceful and productive in the past couple weeks. Part of that is because I felt a marked increase in energy and motivation. I had a rough recovery from Isaac's birth and I lost a lot of strength and stamina (mostly from low iron due to blood loss). Well, maybe a week after I notice I had more energy, our refrigerator defrosted for the second time and wouldn't cool off for several days - not a big deal, just meant a change in routine. My parents insisted that the landlords should purchase the refrigerator (even though we thought we were going to buy it - thanks Mom and Dad), and my husband decided we could purchase a dishwasher too! I was having a hard time standing to do the dishes after Isaac was born and I wasn't even generating as many dishes as I would in the near future. Well, standing is pretty easy now (yay!) but now my maid helps me get the dishes done. Dishwashers are such a nice tool! And probably my favorite tool because it can motivate me to do more in all areas of the kitchen, not just one.



Now, I don't hesitate too much when I want to make more food stuff! The only thing keeping me from experimenting with more bread recipes is that that I had to order more red wheat berries.

I've also been loving the crock pot and dutch oven. I don't know why I didn't think I could layer an entire meal before (other than soups and stews), but I was missing out. I've made crock pot chicken and sweet potatoes with peaches on top a couple times now with chicken breasts and a whole chicken and we love it. One time we made it in a cast iron dutch oven on the grill and the next time I put it in our crock pot. If we don't have to have dinner on the table at a certain time, I like the "cook it till it's done" method since I switch things up quite often. We even used frozen peaches from my Dad's trees for the chicken and sweet potato recipe.

Well, there was a lot more that went on in the past couple weeks with organizing my parents basement (we keep a few things in there), cleaning out the brown shed down back so that our things fit better (looks great!) and considering a miniature cow (I joke... but not really). Isaac is letting me know it is almost Noah's nap time and Noah is not liking my correction that books do not qualify as paper he can color on. Ug. Well, I'm going to go help my cute kids.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Random update while I can tomato sauce and listen to Bob the Builder

So, I'm sitting here while my brown "tomato sauce" is in a water bath canning, and I figured I'd write my post. Yeah, before we go any further, it's brown. If you want to tell me it is no longer safe, just leave a comment. I'm thinking I more likely made tomato paste and browned it. I did some trusty old google searches and found that browning tomato past before you use it (store bought) is pretty common, and I think my method (crock pot) allowed it to turn brown instead of keeping that fresh red color. It is probably too thick too. Yadda yadda.

While I'm typing, Noah is watching his favorite show - Bob the Builder. He even has a "Fix It Shop" thanks to Granny and Papa. He discovered the radio by climbing on the fix it table and pressing buttons. That was actually kind of a nice surprise since I had forgotten about the built in speakers. I found a classical station and sounded all fancy when I answered the phone that day.

blurry, but I wanted to show it. It is well used!
And here is the big boy!

Isaac is cuddling with a sweet blanket/stuffy from Ms. Nancy. I can't believe he is already so social. I usually get lots of smiles and conversation out of him right before nap time. He really is turning into a cuddle bug. I've been having to cuddle up to him on the bed to get him to fall asleep. And he loves to be held. I think the cuddly stuffy from Ms. Nancy will be helpful. When I put it up to his cheek this morning, he smiled and started falling asleep.

he loves it!

yup, at nap time.

he has even bigger smiles, but I missed them.
Well, Bob the builder is over, and I need to take the tomato paste/sauce out of the water. I'll leave other updates for another time. Now onto laundry - or something like that.



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