Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Clean Eating Chocolate Cookie Cake recipe

I have another chocolate chip cookie recipe on here, but I've been wanting to make some revisions to it....and I have confirmation class tonight so it was the perfect time to create a new clean eating recipe. I always bring my girls a treat (Sometimes it's pop corn, sometimes it's mandarin oranges, and some times it's a homemade treat!) and I've been talking about chocolate chip cookies for a while.

leaf and acorn shapes for Fall

My favorite kind of chocolate chip cookies are cut out of cookie cakes because they are all middle pieces! Here, I've cleaned up a cookie cake recipe for you but it could easily just be cookies if you plop them down by the tablespoon instead of patting out into a rectangle

Clean Eating Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

1 stick of butter, softened
1/4 c ground flax (best to grind fresh, I use a coffee grinder)
1/4 c molasses
1/3 c agave nectar
a little under 1/2 c honey
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
splash of vanilla
2.5 cups of white whole wheat flour (I started with 2 cups and then added more in as needed to stiffen dough a bit)
1/2 c oat flour (grind rolled oats using coffee grinder or processor, or buy already ground at store)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
about half a bag of dark chocolate chips (I used 60% from Ghirardelli)

Using stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter and flax until really smooth. Add sweeteners and mix super well. Like creamy smooth! Add egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Beat again until combined. Mix the dry ingredients together and then dump carefully into the wet mixture. Mix on low speed until incorporated. I turned it on high for a few seconds to really get it mixed well. Stir in chocolate chips.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat, pat out the cookie dough into a rectangle or desired shape, keeping it about 3/8" thick throughout the whole shape. Bake for about 20 minutes until center is done. Cut with cookie cutters if desired, after cooled.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Clean Eating Pumpkin Dairy-Free Ice Cream Squares - Paleo recipe

A few months ago I made an awesome paleo chocolate chip cheesecake recipe and thus entered into my fascination with soaked cashews. Have you ever used soaked cashews? If not, you are missing out!

They basically can become a dairy base for a variety of desserts or cheese like dips...and it's clean and paleo!

Recently I wanted to make a pumpkin cheesecake using the soaked cashew method, but was pressed for time so it resulted in an ice-cream like dessert that I cut into squares. I personally would (and did) eat the 'batter' without waiting for it to freeze, but if you want the ice cream like feel, leave it in the freezer for a while.

Pumpkin "Ice Cream" Bars

.5 lb cashews, soaked for 8 hours, drained
1/2 - 3/4 c honey, depending on preferred sweetness
1/2 coconut oil, or grassfed butter if you are okay with that (which I totally am)
a few shakes of salt
a drizzle of vanilla
3/4 c pumpkin puree (from roasted pie pumpkin preferred)
1/4 - 1/3 c water to reach consistency

Place cashews in food processor and process until smooth, add remaining ingredients and process until combined well, using the water to help the batter reach a soft serve consistency. Spread into a 9x13 pan lined with parchment paper, or a 9x9 dish for thicker bars. Place into freezer for several hours until frozen--Enjoy!

So far I have eaten them which some dark chocolate, gluten free chocolate cookies (Happy Family Best Friends), and all alone. My husband thinks peanut butter would go awesome with them and I think caramel would. Options are endless :-)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

What is Grace? From a 3 year old perspective

My sweet husband taught G to say the "Hail Mary" prayer a few weeks ago and she's been perfecting it every night since. This past week she has been following up the prayer with a question about some word within the prayer. A few nights ago she asked me what sinner means, last night she asked me what holy means, and then tonight she asked me, "what is grace?"

Stop. My. Heart. or SMH for those abbreviation loving readers. She is so thoughtful, smart, and inquisitive.

My answers have been age appropriate but also as close to literal meaning as possible. I've told her that everyone is a sinner. That we all do bad things sometimes, and that if we aren't being good, that's sin. She's used it in hilarious context since. I told her that holy is the opposite of sinner. That people in Heaven are holy, and that if you are really good and be nice to other people then that is holy.
But tonight when she asked me about grace, it was so hard. How would you describe grace to a 3.5 year old??

The definition is "simple elegance or refinement of movement" or "the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings" or "to do honor or credit to by one's presence"

There's really no way to break that down on a kid level easily. So I gave it my best shot. And stuck to the Christian definition.

I said that grace is when God helps people be holy, or good. It is when people are full of good feelings and thoughts and they do good things for other people. She seemed happy with that but then followed up with, "where does grace come from?" So I said it comes from God and it's inside people. So then she asked how it gets there. {I wanted to tell her that we get it at Communion and at church, but I didn't want her to worry that since can't have grace since she doesn't get communion yet--so I left Communion out of it.} I just said we get it at church, when we go to church and sing songs and say prayers. Then God puts grace in our bellies. I said that it goes in our bellies like magic from God and then it goes up into our brains and helps us do good things for others. So then she asked how God does magic.... (I mean.... I don't know okay! LOL) I said that God can do anything and he is so awesome that everything comes from God and he can really do all kinds of cool things, even cooler magic than Abbie Cadabbie (from Sesame Street....).

She wasn't convinced. She asked several more times how God gets grace in our bellies. And I tried a few different word combinations to explain it. Then she absolutely floored me and said the following.
G: "I think that maybe God puts grace in our bellies when we go to communion and the big people up there give us stuff and we get grace from God in our bellies like that."

I KID YOU NOT. This amazing three year old just gave you the most basic description of the beauty of Jesus/God in the Eucharist. All by herself.

I love her. I love how beautiful her mind and heart are. Thank you Jesus for giving me this most amazing gift. God is so amazing and I just know he has been leading her little heart through this prayer and learning what all of the words mean in it.

And the coolest thing is that she started asking those questions all on her own because she wants to understand the words she has been taught. I know Mary is up in Heaven totally smiling and clearing a place for this sweet girl in heaven. She will move mountains some day. But for today.....she's a totally typical 3.5 year old that had a meltdown because she didn't want to leave her best friends house.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Clean Eating; Cauliflower Sweet Potato Butternut Squash Soup recipe

Earlier this year I got an immersion blender. It was actually free thanks to the-now-defunct-EcoBonus program. I collected points from buying things like Annie's Homegrown (now sold to General Mills), King Arthur Flour, and Seventh Generation. I redeemed them for a green kitchen aid stick blender. I mostly wanted it for a carrot soup recipe I haven't even made yet. It gets used a few times a month, so given the free cost....totally worth it!

I have most recently used it to make my latest soup recipe. I have created so many recipes over the past few months of non-blogging, but I've been to distracted by life to actually type them out. Lucky for you, I'm trying this re-branded blog and thus....here is my perfect fall soup recipe! And you guys....The name says it all.

Cauliflower Sweet Potato Butternut Squash Soup

1/2 onion, chopped
2-4 garlic cloves, depending on your love for garlic
1 medium butternut squash
1 large sweet potato or yam
1 good size head of cauliflower (a bag of frozen florets will work too)
 (organic is preferred for all above, not just because of chemicals and GMOs, but the taste is just better, but do what you can)
4 cups of clean chicken broth or stock (I make mine from crock pot roasted chickens, but if you must buy it, get a clean boxed kind)
2 cups of grassfed cream (you can also use full fat coconut milk for paleo approved but I think grassfed cream is close enough paleo)
2 cups of water (more or less to reach desired consistency)
salt and pepper to taste
a bit of cayenne if you want (I used several sprinkles and my kids didn't think anything of it)

First, wash and roast the sweet potato and butternut squash. I do this by cutting the potato in half and the squash in quarters lengthwise (scoop out seeds). I rub them with a little bit of olive oil and put them face down on a foil lined pan. Bake at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes or until fork tender. When they are done, start the broth boiling and add the onion, garlic, and cauliflower. While that boils, remove the skin from potato and squash. Once the cauliflower is nearing fork tender, add the squash and potato. Puree with immersion blender. (You can let it cool and use a stand blender if there's no immersion blender, but it's really not ideal since it's hot and probably too much for most blenders) Add cream and puree again to incorporate. Season to taste. Add water to loosen because at this point it's probably pretty thick. I added about 2.5 cups to make mine as soupy as we like it (and it was on the perfect side of rich and creamy).

I served mine with a bit of shredded parm on top and a grilled ham and cheese on the side.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Baby Shower - Flurry Theme

My sweet momma friend is expecting her second girl and I offered to throw her a baby shower. Most people call a second shower a 'sprinkle' but since she is due in the winter, and I am always trying to personalize things... I called it a flurry! I used helpful pinterest pins to piece together her cream and purple snow themed shower.

For the games we created a name for the baby and taped it to a straw to identify our cup. My friend then got to give the names superlatives like 'most likely' or 'most creative.' It's a fun way to know whose cup is whose :-)
We also played a word game, trying to make words out of the mom and dad and last names. The winner got a 'first snow day' candle.

We had lemon berry sparklers to drink as a mocktail using limonata, a bit of la croix cran-berry sparkling water, organic blueberry cranberry juice.

We had a salad bar with mixed greens, sugared pecans, dried cranberries, carrots, cucumbers, raspberries, pears, bell peppers, Gorgonzola cheese, Parmesan cheese, hard boiled eggs, and the dressing was Ina Garten's vinaigrette.

I also made the ham and cheese Hawaiian slider bake (I used provolone).
My friend brought a fruit salad :-)

I made double chocolate cupcakes with butter cream frosting. The cake and filling is here and the frosting I used is here.

For the guest book, guests wrote a little message on a strip of card stock and curled it up to fit into a clear ornament that I personalized with a paint marker.

For the centerpiece I used a super cute sequined hydrangea in a tall unique vase with a snowy tree trunk candle.

Favors were crochet ornaments. Also seen above is a book I got for her new baby! Sense and Sensibility (classics for babies).

Simple decor was a burlap wreath I made for my friend and tissue paper pinwheels with snowflake centers. I also displayed part of her gifts on purple rick rack and utilized a 'let it snow' sign I had.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Outer space with kids

My kids, mostly the 3.5 year old, have been super interested in planets, moon, stars, etc for a while now and recently we checked out a pretty awesome, though dated, book from the library.
It really helped her learn the planets better and we even did one of the projects out of it teach just how far apart things are on a visible scale.
It is -- http://www.amazon.com/Planets-System-Lets-Read-Find-Out-Science/dp/006445178X
The planets in our solar system by Branley

There are tons of kid solar system books out there and I just encourage you to start young with kids and science! Never too early to teach the scientific thought process and help them learn more about the world around them.

The first photo is of G's project (saturns rings are drawn on it rather than around, fyi) and the second is the awesome moon from our leaf walk yesterday around 5 pm

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

new name

maybe you noticed that I let lettersfrommomma.com expire?
Sad day, right?

Meh... I was never posting anyways! I guess it makes things harder to find now though, whoops.

I'm wanting to shift things over to more baking and parties and eating clean and life stuff anyways.

So I'm thinking Clean Kaylene :-)

I'll keep you posted.