Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins - Grain Free

So this was one of my first ventures into grain free baking.  There is definitely a learning curve because batters are "wetter" and I just have no comfort level for what it "should" look like. And they can be a little more work because there is usually a second flour to balance the almond flour and additional baking soda to help with the rise.

Even though I have had some epic baking failures, the successes make it worth the effort.  And one of the big surprises for me is that I have not missed the sugar.  I am a bit amazed at what a good job the honey does to sweeten the recipes I have tried, yet I cannot tell that the sweetener is honey - the flavor does not overpower but blends with the ingredients.  I am eager to learn more, bake more, and have a lot more successes to share!  This one is a keeper!

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

adapted from The Nourishing Home

2 c. blanched almond flour
2 1/2 t. poppy seeds
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. sea salt (I used Real Salt)
3 T. fresh lemon juice
2 T. lemon zest
3 t. whole coconut milk
1/4 c. raw honey (I use clover or wildflower)
1 t. almond extract
1 T. coconut flour
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 315 (that is not a typo - 315 is the temperature she uses for many of her recipes and since I am definitely learning, I am not about to change it...yet!) Line 8 of the muffins cups with parchment liners.  I use the "If You Care" large baking cups.  I love them - they don't stick to any kind of baked goods. They are wonderful.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix the almond flour, poppy seeds, baking soda and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, add the lemon juice, lemon zest, coconut milk, honey, almond extract, and coconut flour. Whisk until well blended.  Add the two eggs and whisk again until mixed well.

Add the almond flour mixture to the wet mixture and gently whisk, just until combined.  Do not overmix. Fill the 8 lined muffin cups evenly with the batter.

Bake for 22-25 minutes, until a toothpick in the center comes clean and the muffin edges are lightly browned.  Cool in the pan for about 3 minutes and then finish cooling on a wire rack or serve immediately. They are delicious warm.

The muffins are a little smaller and the texture is different, but there is still
a nice crumb and the flavor was wonderful.  ENJOY!

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Happy Easter Cards!

It was fun this past week to make a variety of Eater cards for grandchildren and friends.  I relied heavily on the designs from Miss Kate's Cuttables because they are great for "children" of all ages.

First up - cards for the granddaughters...

The designs are Fancy Easter Eggs from Miss Kate's Cuttables The solid card stock is PaperTemptress Mica that was run through an polka dot embossing folder.  Then I added sparkle pen to the dots in a diagonal pattern (in both cards)  I framed the sides of the cards with washi tape which was really fun.  I don't use it enough and it gives such a finished look.

You can see the sparkled dots a little better in the side by side.
And the adhesive pearls on the flowers added a nice little touch.

Then there is Carter - this was his first "real" Easter where he could actually have fun looking for eggs!

This card has a lot of dimension - I love that bunny face and added whiskers just because!  I love all of the bright spring colors.  The polka dot "o" egg (that makes up "Hoppy")
has dots colored over with a sparkle pen.

Not the traditional Easter basket, but he loves cars and trucks, so it was perfect. It was filled with bubble tubes, sidewalk chalk, an Easter book, a "sock bunny" and a few plastic eggs with little Rice Krispie treats inside!

My neighbors have a grandson who is 6 months younger than Carter, and they asked if I would make an Easter card for him.  Of course I was happy to do that!

These designs are from Miss Kate's Cuttables.  I added the "Happy 2nd" greeting and then used Glossy Accents  on the eyes to make them shine and Crackle Accents on the eggs to make the shells shiny and a little cracked!  This was fun and made in the early hours of Easter morning!

I had to include a photo of the carrot tops, cut with the regular blade and share the detail of
these pieces as it still blows me away when the machine can so easily produce such intricate cuts.

And I wanted to make a special card for my neighbors who are so good to me in so many ways.  This was incredibly difficult to photograph since the foil is so reflective, but I tried to get many angles to give you an idea. In person, it is really beautiful.  I plan to do a lot more foiling - the results are just too stunning not to do more of it!

The "Joyful Lilies" on the cross were printed on PT Neenah card stock
on a laser printer. (you need the toner for foil to adhere when it is laminated.)

This is gold spectre foil so it appears holographic as it catches the light. 
The sentiment is from Verve Stamps and was embossed with gold powder.

You can really see the colors in this photo.  It was stunning.

Tried to catch just the gold, but it almost doesn't look foiled in this picture.

I hope everyone had a happy and BLESSED Easter........

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Lost and Found... my Mojo!

For the past month I have really been struggling to come up with ideas for cards.  There was absolutely nothing that inspired or excited me.  So I did a total purge of my craft room that took a couple of weeks and emptied one entire unit of drawers and shelves that covered an entire wall!  It felt so good to let go of  "stuff" and that led to "new hones" for many of the remaining supplies.  Clearing space was a good start, but I was still feeling a bit lost when it came to being creative. 

So... I just took a stamp I had never used, stamped it on a piece of cardstock and started coloring.  I pushed myself to stick with it and slowly I found I was actually enjoying it. (More on that next month!)  I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but I didn't give up. While trying to come up with the next step, I found a stash of leftovers that were never used in projects, but were just waiting to be used!. And that was apparently what I needed to jump start my card making process.  I was beginning to feel the joy that comes with having an idea and making it come to life.  Yippee!

Unfortunately, this void in my creativity made me over a month late in crafting a birthday card for a friend. So I decided a friendship card would be more appropriate all things considered.  I had saved the negative image from a flower card that I made 3 - yes THREE years ago - so I pulled that from my new-found stash, and brought it to life!  I am so happy with how it turned out.  The original image was from a floral image I found online.  I kept it simple with glitter and just added ribbon and pearls to embellish it. 

Using two shades of glitter was something I had not tried before, but it was easier than expected. 
I worked slowly with little embossing powder spoons to control where it fell. 
I wanted the colors to flow into each other gradually.
Trying to capture the shine of the glitter is tricky, but it was so pretty in person.

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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Changes Are Coming....

In the past, I have been fairly open about different health challenges I have experienced, and things I have tried to help along the way.  I have been doing a lot of reading lately about grain free diets and their benefit. Going gluten free never made a difference for me, but perhaps this "cleaner eating" way of life will. I am have decided to make a concerted effort to stop eating all grain and see if it changes any of the pain and discomfort I have been feeling. No harm can come of this and I have

I have thought about this before but didn't want to lose my "ability" to bake.  I love baking and thought I was going to have to give that up completely, but I was SO wrong..  There are cookbook resources and recipes all over the internet that teach the ins and outs of baking "grain free".  It isn't always easy, it doesn't taste quite the same, and it takes a lot of practice, but I am up to the challenge.  I have made a couple of things already with almond flour and because of the higher than usual quantity of eggs required, the food came out a little gooey and egg-like.I am learning that there are things I can do to make the structure better so I plan to make recipes that not only look tempting, but taste delicious.  I am convinced I can come up with good alternatives. And other than baking, going grain free is not going to be that difficult.  I have been buying grass fed meats and organic range free chicken for years.  I buy pastured eggs and raw cheese as much as possible. And fresh veggies and fruits have always been part of my diet - especially this time of year as the variety of fruit becomes plentiful here.

I am not sure I can do the cauliflower pizza crust or cauli sandwich thins which seem to be the rage now.  But I am a cauliflower convert when it comes to cauli-rice and faux mashed potatoes.  The cauliflower takes on the flavoring of what it is mixed with and it's really yummy!  There are other ways to make healthier "bread" alternatives that fit into the grain free plan, so I have a lot of fun cooking ahead of me!

So those are the changes in my kitchen! I am eager and more than a little excited to share this grain free journey. Stay tuned!

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