Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Valentines Conversation Hearts

Here is another special holiday recipe. Just like candy corn at Halloween growing up conversation hearts were Valentines Day. These hearts are vegan if you use the agar and agave, unlike the store bought ones which contain gelatin and by using natural food dyes and organic flavorings they are chemical free! They also taste so much better then the chalky hearts you find at the store.

Candy Hearts
2 tbs agar flakes or 2 tsp agar powder*
3/4 cup water
2 tsp agave or honey
9 cups powdered sugar
Flavor extracts*
Food Colors
Extra Powdered Sugar

Heat water, agar, and honey in a pan over low heat till agar is dissolved. Be sure to watch closely and stir constantly add extra water 2-3 tbs at a time if needed. Be sure to stir the mixture close to constantly you do not want it to burn. Beat together the agar mixture and 1 cup powdered sugar in a stand mixer. Add another cup of sugar mix until incorporated. Continue adding sugar 1 cup at a time mixing well after each addition and periodically scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl. Continue to add sugar until a stiff dough forms you may not need all of the 9 cups of sugar before the stiff dough forms but you should use most of it. If the dough stiffens up too soon you may need to add up to 1/4 cup more water in order to incorporate more sugar into the dough.

Dust a work surface with sugar. Place the dough on the work surface and knead dough until satiny and not sticky anymore. Divide the dough and add colors and flavors. About ⅛ -¼ tsp flavoring and 4-5 drops of color for each section of dough. Knead in the color until evenly distributed, this takes quite a bit of work since the dough is very stiff. I knead, roll, and rub the dough until the color is even. If the dough feels very dry dip your fingertips in water and place a few drops at a time on the dough. It will get sticky very easily if it gets too sticky add more powdered sugar.

Dust the work surface with more sugar and roll out to desired thickness between ¼ -1 inch. For smaller hearts the dough should be rolled thick for bigger hearts roll the dough thinner. Cut out desired shapes and place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Cover with a towel and let dry for at least 24 hrs.I like the flip my hearts about halfway though drying time to evenly dry out both sides.If you can wait even longer they get more crunchy each day. I think they were completely dry all the way through by day 4 but then there was only a few left by then!

Messages can be written on the hearts with a little bit of food coloring and a toothpick. Be sure to wait until the hearts are completely dry before writing on them or else the dye will run.

*Flavors we used in our hearts

If you would rather use gelatin replace the agar with 2 tsp gelatin, decrease the water to 1/2 cup and increase the sugar to 11 cups.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bean Soup

I love recipes that I can make over and over again a million different ways. This is one of those recipes I can make every week and make it different every time. Choosing different beans or combinations of beans makes a big difference in this soup. I use any veggies I have on hand and decide on spices as I am mixing things together.

Bean Soup
3 cups veggie broth
2 cups water
1 cup dried beans
4 cups chopped veggies
2 bay leafs
2-4 tsp spices

Rinse and sort through the beans. Soak beans in water for 12-24 hours. Rinse beans and place in water. Wash and cut up the veggies. In a crock pot place the veggies, veggie broth, spices, and beans. Cook in crock pot on high for 4-5 hours till the beans are soft but not falling apart. Cook for another hour and puree all or part of the soup for a thicker soup. French Bread or biscuits are a wonderful side with this soup.

Leftovers can be frozen and reheated in the oven or on the stove top.


Veggies We like
Bell Pepper 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Soaked Granola

Granola is so very versatile and can be very healthy. Unfortunately most store bought granola is full of sugar. Finding a reasonably priced organic granola that does not list sugar as one of the top ingredients is next to impossible. Plus we have been trying to eat more traditional soaked and sprouted grains and a soaked granola is not available. My solution of course was to make my own. We love it around here especially with homemade yogurt. The best part of this recipe is that you can mix it up however you like change the grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, even the amount of sweetener to your taste. We use an organic 5 grain rolled cereal I buy in the bulk bins instead of oats in all of my recipes but regular old fashion rolled oats will work great.

Soaked Granola
4 cups oats
¼ cup chopped seeds
½ cup chopped nuts
¾ cup buttermilk or kefir
1 ½ cups water
⅓ cup coconut oil
¼ cup butter
¼ cup maple syrup, honey, or combination
½ tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup shredded coconut
1 ½ cups dried fruit

Mix together the oats, nuts, seeds, buttermilk, and water. Cover and let soak in a warm place for 12-24 hours. 
Heat the oil, butter, sweeteners, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla until melted and well mixed. Mix the oat mixture and the butter mixtures together. Then spread out the mixture in a large baking sheet. The oats need to heat slowly and be turned often over a long period of time. Bake the granola at 250º turning the mixture at least once every hour for 2-4 hrs. Remove the granola from oven when the it reaches your desired crispiness. Cool completely then mix in the dried fruit and store in an airtight container.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Soaked Pancakes

My kids love pancakes! They can be topped with any number of things but maple syrup is their favorite.
We have started soaking our pancakes along with all our other breakfast grains, it is incredibly easy to soak your grains. Two of the biggest pluses to soaking grains is that you can use all whole wheat flour and you get part of the mixing work done the night before making morning prep easier.

Soaked Pancakes
2 cups wheat flour
2 cups buttermilk
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 egg beaten
4 tbs applesauce
1 cup milk

Mix together the flour and buttermilk. Cover and let soak for 12 to 24 hours in a warm place, inside the oven is my favorite place. If it is cold in the house I turn just the oven light on which keeps the oven just the right temperature.  
Combine the egg, applesauce, salt, and baking soda in a separate bowl. Add the egg mixture to the soaked mixture stir together until well mixed. If needed add milk 1-2 tbs at a time until you reach the desired consistency. Mix in any add ins* you would like.
Place a small amount on butter or coconut oil on a warm skillet. Pour 1 tbs to ¼ cup batter, depending on how big you want your pancakes, on to the hot, lightly greased skillet. Cook 2-3 min on each side. Adding more butter/oil as needed between batches. 
Serve immediately or keep warm in oven set at 200º. Serve with

Any leftovers can be stacked in a freezer container separated by wax paper and frozen for later.
Warm up frozen pancakes in a toaster oven or oven set at 350º for 5 min.
*Add In Ideas
1 cup fresh or frozen berries
½ cup chocolate chips
½ cup finely chopped nuts

Some of our favorite pancake toppings include
Homemade fruit syrups
Whip cream
Cream Cheese