Quick and Easy Allergy-Friendly Chocolate Frosting

We have lots of birthdays in the fall. So, I’ve been working to develop a frosting that works for our allergies as well as those of our friends so that we can all enjoy the same dessert. I think I’ve landed on a keeper.

It has very simple ingredients, and comes out smooth and creamy. And unless you are allergic to chocolate, it should work for almost any allergy except for corn, because it does require powdered sugar. I’d prefer to substitute another sweetener, but haven’t come up with an option that adds sweet and bulk at the same time.

Ingredients: Cocoa powder, oil (I use light olive oil), water, pinch of salt, 1/8 tsp vanilla, powdered sugar.

Now, you’ll note that I didn’t give measurements on lots of the ingredients because it all depends on the yield you need. So, here are some ratios, and sequences to follow. This is a good recipe for just eyeing it, and when it looks right, stop.

  • To determine your approximate measurements, decide about how much icing you want to end up with. If you want a yield of 2 cups of icing/frosting, then start with 1/2 cup of cocoa powder and estimate that you will add about 1 cup of sugar.
  • Note: I do not recommend using dark chocolate cocoa powder. It’s too strong and requires too much sugar to balance out the bitterness.
  • Start by mixing the cocoa powder and oil. This is essential to mix these first.
  • Use half the amount of oil as you use cocoa powder.
  • Use twice the amount of sweetener as you do cocoa powder.
  • Add water in very small amounts (as small as 1/2 tsp at a time), alternating with adding the powdered sugar, until you get the consistency you want.
  • If you need to add more bulk, but your icing is sweet enough, add a little cornstarch.
  • Add the salt and vanilla at the end. Just a bit of both. Not much.
  • Mix by hand with a wire whisk for best results.

This icing is rich, and chocolatey, and delicious.

Creativity in your Kitchen

As a general rule, I like to solve problems in life. And as a general rule, these are the only times that I would consider myself to be creative. I get to practice this a lot in my kitchen figuring out recipes and food substitutions for my food sensitive kid. So, in my life, creativity only expresses itself out of some need.

Yesterday, I was forced to be creative in my kitchen for lunch and dinner because 1) I forgot my what my original meal plan was. And 2) Neither backup plans worked either.

Now, this is where most people would pull out a box of Mac & Cheese and call it good. That’s great if you have an easy option like that. But, about the only things I can buy pre-packaged for our food sensitivities are flour tortillas and graham crackers. That doesn’t make for much of a dinner.

So, I had to use what was on hand and make it ready within about 30 minutes. What I came up with is below. Not my best cooking ever, but it was hot, healthy, and homemade, and I’m proud of that. How do you show your creativity in the kitchen?

This was lunch. Flour tortillas, crisped in the oven to be quesadillas, lentils cooked and smashed to substitute for refried beans, leftover Jalepeno lime chicken from the the fridge, topped with homemade herbed ricotta, seasoned toasted pumpkin seeds, my homegrown herb garlic dehydrated cherry tomatoes, and some fresh chopped Jalepenos. It was actually tasty.

See below: Dinner consisted of turning the innards from our carved pumpkin into pumpkin bisque courtesy of our Instant Pot, cooked sausages from the freezer, and cabbage sautés with onion. It made for a good fall combo.

Have you come up with any creative meals lately?

Join the Breadmaking Class EVER!

If my latest posts on homemaking, baking bread, and sprouting grains has peaked your interest and you want to be able to make beautiful loaves like for your family each week, you should consider learning from the best.

I took the breadmaking course from Homesteading Family 10 months ago, and making fresh whole wheat, spelt, or sprouted grain breads is totally doable. Carolyn Thomas is a great teacher. She’s a wonderful lady and homeschool mom. I figured if she could make bread for her family, so could I. And so can you! If you want to give it a try, use this link which gives you a special discount, and helps their family and mine (affiliate link). Joining the class will also give you access to an exclusive Facebook group which is a great place to post questions about problems you are having, or show off your successes. Happy bread making!

https://www.schooloftraditionalskills.com/a/19048/YBfWojoA

Homemaking Club

This past Friday a group of friends gathered at my home for the first meeting of our homemaking club. This same group of women and their daughters plan to meet monthly and use our collective knowledge to teach each other new skills. I forgot to get a picture of the people. We were all so cute in our aprons. But here’s a picture of some of our tools, dough rising, and final product. It was a great morning, and I can’t wait for the next one.

Can you guess what the class topic was? Bread making! We plan to cover topics like fermenting, sewing, sprouting grains, gardening, herbs, needlework, etc. Do you know how to knit or crochet? Garden? Make your own herbal remedies? Sew? Get some friends together who either have the same interests, or want to learn. It’s a great time of fellowship, and a good way to pass along some lost skills to the next generation.

Sprouting Grains

Sprouted and ready to store in the freezer.

I’ve been sprouting spelt for the last 9 months to grind to make our bread each week. I was so intimidated by the idea when I started. And I really couldn’t find any reliable information or consistent techniques online. But, now that I have it figured out….. it’s so easy! There’s really nothing to it. Once you have it worked into your routine, you can easily sprout a batch ahead, and always benefit from the additional nutrition that sprouting makes accessible to your body in your breads and baked goods.

Easy Steps to Sprouting Grain:

(These steps work with any grain.)

  1. Soak your grain in a large bowl overnight, or for about 10-12 hours.
  2. Drain into a mesh colander and rinse.
  3. Return the drained grain to the bowl, cover with a damp tea towel.
  4. Rinse every 6-12 hours, depending on how fast it dries out until you see little tails at the tips of each seed.
  5. Spread on your dehydrator and dehydrate 110-120 degrees (I usually do 115) until the grain is hard and cannot be indented when pressed upon by the end of your fingernail.
  6. Store in sealed mason jars in the freezer if you don’t plan to grind your grain within 2 days.

That’s it! Give it a try. Sprouted grain makes a softer flour, is easier to grind than unsprouted, and I think makes lighter baked goods.

Unsprouted spelt berries.

Cover with water and soak for 12 hours.

 

Sprouted. See the tiny tails on the tip of each seed?

IMG_0214

Before dehydrating.

IMG_0215

After dehydrating.

Dehydrated and ready to go in the grain mill.

In the mill. About to become flour.

Compare: Left – after dehydrating, Right – before dehydrating.

The Benefits of Baking Day

I have a page in the “Kitchen” on my blog called “Baking Day.” In it I wax poetic thinking of Ma Ingalls and my great-grandmother, Maggie, working in their kitchens. I imagine them in their vintage aprons, leaning over their wooden kitchen tables, kneading their bread. They have flour dust on their faces from swiping back the wisps of hair from their faces that have fallen down.

Not many people have a baking day anymore. Each day is much the same as another, running from one errand or activity to another. But, for the last 2 years or so, Saturday has become my baking day. I often will go grocery shopping in the morning, and spend the rest of the day cooking. It’s exhausting but rewarding. Sometimes it’s hectic. Especially when we have another activity that day that cuts into my baking time. But, I’m learning to guard my time on Saturdays as much as possible. That time in the kitchen is valuable to me. And it can be quite pleasant. If the kids are outside, I can sing, listen to music, listen to a podcast, or just get lost in my own thoughts. The kitchen is a good place for that. I’m finding that between technology, daily appointments, and the responsibility of teaching and caring for the kids (all of which have their place in life), I don’t have enough of that quiet time in my head.

Baking day helps me be well prepared for my week. On a typical baking day, I produce a lot of breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and sometimes dinner prep that help me survive Monday through Friday when I just don’t have the time to devote to the kitchen. Below are some photos of what I typically make. Would a baking day make your life easier? I’m finding that I really do need mine.

Sprouted Spelt Bread

Banana chocolate chip muffins.

Snacks for the week.

Sprouted spelt waffles for breakfast.

Granola for hubby’s breakfast.

Elderberry herbal syrup.

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

This was dinner tonight. Give it a try.

Start with enough sweet potatoes for the size of your family. I did one per person and had leftovers as they were large and not everyone ate a whole one.

Wash the sweet potatoes and prick all around with a fork.

Bake at 400 for 1-1.5 hours depending on the size of your potatoes.

While they bake, assemble your filling.

Filling: ground turkey, chopped onion, garlic, celery, cabbage, red bell pepper, salt, pepper, seasoned salt, sage, oregano, olive oil, flour, and water.

Brown the turkey meat. When cooked through, add a little olive oil to your pan and sauté the onion, celery, garlic, cabbage and red bell pepper. Now add the salt and pepper to taste, a sprinkle of seasoned salt, and the oregano and fresh sage. I used about 1 tbls. of fresh sage but you could use about 1 tsp of ground as well.

Next, a couple of tablespoons of flour into your meat mix and stir until the flour has absorbed. Then add about 2-3 cups of water. The addition of the flour and water will create a sauce which will keep the ground turkey from becoming too dry. Turn off the heat once the sauce has thickened.

When you’re sweet potatoes are soft when squeezed, remove them from the oven and place on a cookie sheet and slice open. Butter and lightly smash the insides. Then top with the meat mix. I sprinkled buttered homemade crumbled bread on the top. Return to the oven on 400 for about 15 minutes until the bread topping is toasty. Sprinkle with feta cheese crumbles to serve.

Fun with Ferments – 3 new ferments in my kitchen

I had fun with ferments in my kitchen today. Two old favorites – Beets with clove and cardamom, and Jalepeno, Garlic and Onion Relish. And new to me, making my own Apple Cider Vinegar using apple scraps. You can read the fermenting instructions by visiting Maggie’s Cellar. I find ferments to be so fascinating. I hope you try it.

Dehydrating Tomatoes

I decided to take the advice of my friend Carolyn Thomas at Homesteading Family and dehydrate some of my end of the season tomatoes. It was fun and easy.

We’re still getting the last of the ripe tomatoes off our cherry tomato plants. Since this is about the only vegetable that I seem to be able to grow prolifically, sometimes we don’t eat them up fast enough. Enter my dehydrator.

I simply sliced them in half, and seasoned them with a bit of salt, pepper, granulated garlic, oregano, and savory. You could use any seasonings you like.

Lay them out on the dehydrator tray and dehydrate at a temp below 150 degrees until they are crisp.

If you have a few that are past the point of saving, then squirt out the seeds into a bowl, cover with water for a day or two to loosen all the gel, and then lay out on a paper plate to dry for the next year’s growing season.

Fall Flowers – 2019

A gallery of my fall blooms from this year.

A volunteer chrysanthemum by my mailbox. Isn’t it beautiful?

Sedum Autumn Joy

Purple Dome Aster

Chrysanthemum Daisy Rose – a very reliable bloomer.

Aster Bluebird

Aster Purple Dome again.

Red Impatiens in the pot, Coreopsis Moonbeam, Coreposis Zagreb, and Purple Dome Aster all still blooming away.

Another volunteer chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum Daisy Rose again.

Echinacea Cheyenne Spirit sending up some late fall blooms.

Chrysanthemum Whippoorwill

Chrysanthemum Grandchild

Daisy Rose in all her brilliance.

The volunteer chrysanthemum all opened up and exploding with blooms.

Fresh Bread Out of the Oven

I’ve been honing my bread making skills this last year. Follow my bread making journey by reading the latest on the Baking Day page.

Just can’t beat freshly baked sprouted spelt bread and raspberry jam.

Chocolate Raspberry Breakfast Quinoa – Make Ahead Instant Pot Meal

img_9968

 

I’ve been making good use of quinoa for breakfast in the Instant Pot lately. This is the latest and the easiest so far.

It is true that “necessity is the mother of invention.” The only reason that I came up with this recipe is because I was going to make the Pumpkin Spice Breakfast Quinoa, but I was out of pumpkin so I had to come up with another flavor.

This ended up being ridiculously simple.

Chocolate Raspberry Breakfast Quinoa: 

2 cups quinoa, rinsed
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbls butter (or coconut oil if you can use that)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup raspberry jam (or really any favorite jam flavor)
3 1/2 cups water

Cook in the Instant Pot on high pressure for 1 minute with natural pressure release. You can also use the Delay Start feature and set this up the night before to come on and be warm and ready when you wake up in the morning.

Serve warm sprinkled with sliced almonds, chocolate chunks and a dash of cream.