Homemade Magic Shell Recipe

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If I had to choose only one dessert to eat for the rest of my life there is no doubt what it would be….ice cream…homemade ice cream to be specific.  Growing up we made homemade ice cream every now and then but when I married my husband I quickly learned how very much his family Loves  their homemade ice cream!  Homemade ice cream is by far the dessert of choice in his family, especially now that we have all discovered this counter top ice cream maker.  You will find at least one frozen bowl in the freezer of each of  his family members.  Tonight I discovered that not only can you make homemade ice cream without all the chemicals and junk but you can make homemade chocolate magic shell without all the chemical and junk….and it’s super easy!   (Can you hear the angels singing?)

I found this recipe over at The Coconut Mama.  As soon as I saw the title of this blog I knew I was in the right place.. you know this girls loves her coconut oil!  So here it is easy, peasy!

Homemade Magic Shell

1/2 cup coconut oil ( I prefer Tropical Traditions)

1/2 cup  cocoa powder (I get mine here)

1/4 cup raw honey (or maple syrup)

1 T. vanilla

1 pinch sea salt ( I used REAL Salt)

Mix coconut oil, honey and cocoa powder over low heat until melted. (It looks a little grainy in the picture below but it is not at all.)

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Add vanilla and salt and stir.

Serve over ice cream or your desert of choice.

Left overs can be refrigerated and then rewarmed to serve.

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This stuff is Amazing Good!  I am already thinking it may show up along side my homemade caramel sauce in a few ice cream sundae gift baskets.

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Cooking with Goat Milk – Healthy Chocolate Pudding

Project Cooking with Goat Milk continues with……Healthy Chocolate Pudding.

My family loves chocolate pudding but let’s face it as easy as it is to make, boxed instant pudding is full of crap.  Sorry, but it is. I found this recipe from Food Renegade and decided to give it a try…. with goat milk of course.

Homemade Healthy (ish) Chocolate Pudding

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 c. honey
  • 4 tbsp. arrowroot powder (I used cornstarch)
  • 2 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 2 c. milk  ( I used Goat milk)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. butter

Directions:

In a glass measuring cup, mix cocoa, cornstarch and milk until smooth. In a saucepan combine the honey and milk mixture and stir over medium heat.

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Cook until thickened stirring constantly.

Once thickened, remove from heat, stir in vanilla and butter until smooth.

Pour into serving dishes and place in refrigerator to cool.

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The good: This recipe has a nice smooth chocolaty texture that the family loved… and it didn’t taste like goat.

The not so good: The pudding didn’t thicken up as well as I would have liked.

Project Cooking with Goat Milk Score 2 (we love goat milk)-1(not so much)

******Update*******

Since posting this recipe I have made several other recipes using goat milk.  As much as I would Love to tell you that they were wonderful and that I cant wait to convert my family over to drinking goat milk… that really isn’t the case. Unfortunately none of us fell in love with goat milk….at best, its okay.  For now we are just going to be drinking cows milk purchased from the store.  We have been looking for a local farmer that we can source raw milk from via herd share. (This is the only option for legally acquiring raw milk in Ohio) The other option of course is to purchase a family dairy cow, and as lovely as that sounds…..Im just not convinced Im ready to go that route.

 

Cooking with Goat Milk – Homemade Yogurt

My second endeavor in cooking with goat milk was making homemade yogurt. It was actually amazingly simple. I normally eat plain Greek yogurt with honey or fruit.  The kids prefer a thinner yogurt with fruit.  They also love smoothies made with yogurt. Most of the recipes note that the yogurt will be a thinner yogurt than what you would typically find in a store unless you thicken it with gelatin or powdered milk, but this one didn’t use  either and ended up being plenty thick.

The recipe that I used was from Money Saving Mom.

Homemade Yogurt

Ingredients:

½ gallon whole milk (I used goat milk)

½ c. plain unflavored yogurt (to be used as the starter)

Directions:

Pour ½ gallon of milk in Crockpot and cook on low 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Turn Crockpot off and leave set for 3 hours.

Mix ½ cup yogurt starter in a bowl with some of your warm milk until smooth.  Add back into Crockpot and stir well.  Wrap Crockpot in a beach towel to help regulate how quickly the yogurt cools down.  (Yes, this part is important.) Leave yogurt develop for 8-12 hours or overnight.

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My yogurt turned out luscious, thick and creamy. I poured half of the yogurt into a colander lined with cheesecloth to let in drain a little more and it came out beautifully.

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Unfortunately, there was only one problem; it still tastes like goat milk….not good.  This recipe is so simple I can’t image why I have never made my own yogurt before.  I am looking forward to trying this recipe again with cow’s milk because I am certain that it will be fantastic!

Score for project Cooking with Goats Milk  1 (we love goat milk)-1(not so much)

Homemade Grape-Nut Cereal Recipe

While the Handyman and I were away for a few days, the children stayed with my mom, where they discovered her homemade Grape-Nuts.  All three fell in love with it and insisted they must eat a bowl for breakfast every morning. Since it has been such a hit at our house, I thought I’d share the recipe with you.

Homemade Grape-Nut Cereal

Ingredients:

2 c. old fashioned oats

2 c. whole wheat flour

2 c. white flour

2 c. cornmeal

1 c. brown sugar or Sucanat

2 c. buttermilk

1 c. molasses

2 tsp. baking soda

Mix dry ingredients in large bowl.  Mix buttermilk and molasses, then combine with dry ingredients.

ImagePress into a greased baking pan.  I use a large 11 X 15 lasagna pan.

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Bake at 300* for 1 hour.  Remove from oven. (This is when you break off a chunk of hot steamy goodness and enjoy it with a cold glass of milk!  This is also a good time to have something else ready to pop in the oven and cook.  It takes a lot of energy to heat an oven up, so why not make good use of our resources and get some other baking done while we wait for our cereal to cool.)

Cool for one hour.  Break “cake” into chunks.  Depending how fine you want your cereal you can crumble by hand or chop in the food processor.  Spread cereal out on a large baking sheet (or two).  Bake at 300*, stirring every 10 minutes until crunchy.  (I bake mine about 30 minutes; they will get crunchier as they dry.)  Spread cereal out to cool.  I usually bake late at night so I just throw a thin towel over them and leave them dry over night.  If you like your cereal finer yet, you can put in back through the food processor.

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This cereal is good in a bowl with milk (as my children will tell you) or sprinkled on homemade yogurt.  We have also found that if you process it very fine in your food processor you can substitute it in recipes that call for graham cracker crumbs such as for the crust of a cheesecake.

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Cooking with Goat Milk – Homemade Ricotta Cheese Recipe

I have been anxious to get my hands on some goat milk to help me decide if we want to try milking our  3 Nubian does when they kid this fall.  At this point I’m leaning toward foregoing milking and letting the does raise their kids on their own, or doing a once per day milking. However, I should say that I don’t have a great deal of experience with goat milk. A few months ago I bought some goat cheese from out local food co-op.  It did not go over well with the family.  Then I got a jar of fresh goat milk from our neighbor….much better. This week I was lucky enough to be the recipient of 4 gallons of goat milk, so this weekend I have had lots fun making different recipes for the family to try.  I have made a few different kinds of cheese, yogurt, healthy pudding and a healthy hot chocolate recipe. I figure if all else fails, I have a little Nubian bottle baby who will be more than happy to make quick work of any extra milk.

The first thing I made was…

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Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Ingredients

  2 quarts whole milk ( I used goat milk)

  1 cup heavy cream

  1/2 teaspoon salt (I used cheese salt from Hoegger Supply Co.)

  4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions:

Bring milk, cream, and salt to a rolling boil in a 6-quart heavy pot over low to medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.

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Add lemon juice, reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring constantly, until the mixture curdles. This should happen fairly quickly.

Pour the mixture into a colander lined with a high quality, fine weave cheese cloth. (This is different than cheese cloth you find the local discount store, mine comes from Hoegger Supply Company) Let the curds drain 1 hour.

ImageRemove cheese from colander, you can mix in additional salt or herbs if desired.  Cover and store ricotta cheese in refrigerator for up to a week. I understand it can also be frozen although I haven’t tried it.

Whey (the liquid that drains out of the curds) can be used in a variety of ways. I will be feeding it to our pigs.

This recipe should yield about 2 cups of ricotta cheese.  I am planning to use it to make lasagna this week.

I like this ricotta cheese recipe because it is easy to follow, doesn’t require any special equipment and of course turns out delicious!

 

**Linking to Nomday Monday

Our First Azure Standard delivery

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Yesterday the Azure Standard delivery truck rolled into Northern Ohio for the first time and we were lucky enough to be there to pick up our first order.
I am pleased to report that we are more than satisfied with the process and the products. Although they arrived in the middle of a horrible thunderstorm, everyone made quick work of getting the truck unloaded.
I have heard nothing but wonderful things about Azure, but this being our first order I placed a modest sized order just to see how it went. I am pleased to report that what was to be frozen ( 10# of cranberries) were indeed frozen, what was to be cold ( Organic Valley French vanilla half and half) was indeed cold. … My coffee cup is still singing with joy from this new find btw….my cocoa was strong and flavorful and my oats, coconut, sucanat and Mighty Tasty cereal are dry and in good shape. I am looking forward to putting in a larger order next month including produce.
Grocery shopping for me is primarily a monthly event, and my preference is still to buy local as much as possible. I can see that ordering from Azure, especially in bulk, is one more tool I can use to purchase high quality healthy food for my family at a reasonable price. Now what to do with 25# of rolled oats since all my Tupperware is currently in use??? Guess I need to order those gamma lids after all!

Homemade Strawberry Yogurt Fruit Leather

One of the biggest challenges I have with keeping my family on a “real” food diet is snack time. We eat a ton of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as cheese for snack time but sometimes we all really want something sweet. I came across a recipe for strawberry yogurt fruit leather at Honey Sweetened and was inspired to drag out the dehydrator and make some healthy snacks. I altered the recipe a little bit but used the same general idea.

Healthy Homemade Strawbery Yogurt Fruit Leather

2 – 12 oz bags of frozen strawberries

2 cups plain yogurt

1/4 cup honey

Thaw strawberries and drain excess liquid.

Add strawberries, yogurt and honey to food processor or blender.

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Pulse until smooth.

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Pour mixture on to dehydrator sheets or plastic wrap covered trays.

I poured mine in strips about 3 inches wide making them a little thicker along the edges since the outside edge will dry quicker.

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Dry at 95 degrees. Mine took about 18 hours to dry.

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Once they were done I rolled the fruit leather in plastic wrap.

The kids LOVED these and I love that they are good for them.

Home Organization – Freezer Inventory

I received an email from my aunt yesterday letting me know that our pig was ready and was headed to the butcher.  When I went down stairs to look in our deep freeze I knew I was in trouble.  We have 2 have large freezers in our basement and there was definitely not room for ½ a hog or the 14 whole chickens I have stashed in a freezer at the home farm that I need to get moved over here. 

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Luckily for me, the Handyman decided that since it was so cold outside that he would forgo his outside projects in favor of helping me unload, defrost and reorganize our freezers.  Yeah!  If you have ever emptied a deep freeze, you know it’s a lot of work!

We purchase our meat farm direct and we usually purchase a side of beef and a side of pork at a time.  Our chicken comes from a local Amish farmer.  When the chickens are ready, we purchase in bulk. This fall we purchased 24 whole chickens.  We freeze a couple hundred quarts of fruits and vegetables every summer and fall.  In addition, last year I started doing the majority of our grocery shopping once a month, so for us the freezers are an integral part of our food storage. Unfortunately what I have learned is it that if I don’t keep track of what is in my freezers, things get really scary in there.  Not only is it frustrating because I can’t find what I want and I end up wasting time looking for it but food ends up staying in the freezer too long and gets freezer burnt and needs to be discarded.  When this happens I am not being a good steward of my time or resources.

One way to keep track of what is in the freezer is a freezer inventory sheet. There are dozens of freezer inventory sheets available online that you can print and keep by your freezer or in your home management notebook. What I would really like is to find an app I can use.  There are several out there but,  so far no luck finding one I really like.  Does anyone have any suggestions? For now I am using this printable form from Faithful Provisions.   It very simple and allows me the flexibility I need.

I ended up hauling up several loads of food to cook today.  I processed some of last year’s tomatoes into marinara sauce, roasted a few chickens, started a few pots of stock and made a batch of brownies  from a mix I made awhile back. It was a busy day in the kitchen but it was nice and toasty warm and it sure smelled good!

If your freezer is in need of attention here are a few tips.

*Unload everything from your freezer, defrost if necessary before putting anything back in.

*Store like items together, meats, vegetables, freezer meals…..

*Check package expiration dates before your put items back in. You can find FDA guidelines for safe freezer storage here.  If it is questionable…throw it away.  Yes, I know I hate to waste things too but go ahead…throw it away already!

*Check package condition. Is the packaging in good shape? If the package has been damaged, throw the item away or repackage it if it can be salvaged.  Package items in flat containers or lay bags flat in the freezer.  The bags will stack more easily and the contents will thaw more quickly when you need them.

*Use freezer bags or freezer containers to extend the life of the product.  Remove as much air as possible from the package before sealing.

* Label, label, label.  Label each package with a Sharpie including the contents and the date. You can find some really cute printable labels.  Here are some really cute labels from Oh My Veggies.

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* Keep your inventory log handy to enter items as you put them back in and as you take them out.

Taking the time to take care of your freezer can save you so much time, frustration and money in the long run.  Its definately worth the effort.

 

Linking back to Housewife How-Tos.

Gluten Free Chicken and Rice soup with mushrooms

Today I wanted  to share with you one of the recipes I made last week at the beginning of my adventure in sugar free living

Gluten Free Chicken and Rice soup with mushrooms

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  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 Crockpot roasted chicken or  2 cups chopped chicken
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 package mushrooms
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

Begin cooking brown rice with 2 cups of chicken stock.  (Brown rice can take 40-50 minutes to cook)

If using a Crockpot roasted chicken, remove chicken from Crockpot, debone chicken and strain chicken broth.  (You can return the chicken bones to the Crockpot to make a batch a chicken stock)

Clean and slice mushrooms.  Saute mushrooms in a large skillet with butter and minced garlic.  Add 2 cups of chicken stock, onion, celery, carrots and peas.  Cook on medium until cooked through.  

Transfer contents of skillet to a large pot.  Add additional 2 cups chicken stock, chicken, salt, pepper, seasoning and cooked brown rice.  Cook until heated through.

Adventures in Sugar free living

Early this year I decided that one of the ways I wanted to improve my overall health was to reduce the amount of sugar I eat.  I know that for me the best way to stay away from any particular vice is cold turkey.  So, 2 weeks ago I removed nearly all sugar from my diet.

For the first week I consumed zero refined sugars and very little natural sugar including no fruit, dairy, or high sugar vegetables.  I have to tell you that first week was Not pretty. I didn’t realize the extent to which I would actually experience sugar “withdrawal.” My symptoms included headaches, stomach upset, and extreme fatigue.  The sugar cravings were actually mostly gone after the first 2 or 3 days.  I elected to avoid any sugar substitutes, natural or otherwise.  Kate from Modern Alternative Mom had also suggested adding fats to my diet to help curb the sugar cravings and I think that also really helped.  By day 6 I was beginning to feel a little better and I was definitely enjoying watching the number go down each day on the scale.  During the first week I also didn’t drink coffee but instead drank lots of water with lemon and herbal tea. One of my favorite new foods that I discovered during week 1 was Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Mighty Tasty Hot Cereal. Yummy!

Beginning on day 8 I began adding fruit and dairy back in starting with a morning smoothie.  Our local Aldi store began offering an organic line and I able to pick up 32 oz containers of organic yogurt for $2.99 and 12 oz packages of frozen organic whole strawberries for $2.39. Score!! Needless to say I stocked up.  If you have an Aldi near you, you might want to check it out.  I am really enjoying the new Simply Nature products.  Week two was much easier and I’m feeling so much better.  I added a bit of maple syrup to my morning hot cereal and some honey to my tea.  Unsweetened coffee really isn’t cutting it for me so I’m looking for some alternatives for making homemade creamer that is naturally sweetened.

I am very pleased with how the last 2 weeks have gone.  I haven’t been craving sugar and haven’t had a problem passing it up.  However, last night on day 14 I decided to have a small serving of ice cream with the family.  First let me say that it was Breyers ice cream, so not organic, but definitely much more natural than many other brands, no artificial flavors or colors but indeed full of sugar.  My body was not happy; it was not pleasant.  One of my concerns is how I can balance eating a low sugar diet, and still be able to occasionally enjoy a “normal” treat or dessert without feeling awful later. I’m not sure yet how to make that work.  Until I figure it out I will definitely be avoiding all refined sugars.

Over the next week I’ll share some of the new recipes I’ve tried over the past two weeks including GF Chicken and Rice soup with mushrooms, GF sweet potato pancakes, enchillada soup and a few others.