Happy Food pt. 3

Finally a third installment in our “Happy Food” series! You can find the previous two posts here and here. This time around I want to share one of hubby’s fave recipes for low-carb “bread”, Almond Butter Bread. I say “bread” loosely because generally we joke around calling it almond-not-a-bread. It’s close to the texture of actual bread, without having any flour in it. You can slice it, toast it, use it for sandwiches, dip it in egg yolks, and spread your favourite jam on it. Close enough to bread for someone who eats a low-carb diet and seriously misses bread. I’ve grown to quite like it, even though I still eat real bread on occasion. Not sold yet? Let me cut you a slice and slather it with some tasty homemade apple butter.

Almond Butter Bread

Almond Butter Bread

500 ml smooth organic almond butter (we buy ours at Community Natural, but it’s also available at general grocery stores)

6 large eggs (or 5 extra large eggs)

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

3/4 cup warm water

 

Making Almond Butter Bread

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Butter small loaf pan, 8″ x 4″ (be quite generous with your butter so the bread will pop out easily)
  3. Place almond butter in bowl & mix well until almond butter is smooth
  4. Add baking powder & salt and mix well again
  5. Add eggs and hand whip with a fork until, you guess it, mixed well
  6. Add warm water and mix until nice & smooth
  7. Pour batter into loaf pan (it will be quite full, but don’t worry)
  8. Bake for 50 minutes
  9. Remove from loaf pan and cool on rack
  10. Slice and enjoy!

We’ve tried adding tasty bits like raisins and nuts to the batter before baking. It’s yummy, but they do tend to settle to the bottom of the bread. Maybe you could drop some raisins in part way through the baking process? Haven’t experimented with that too much. If you’re looking to toast it, keep in mind that it burns a little more quickly than normal bread, so turn down the heat on your toaster a bit. Also, the bread is a touch bland, but that’s why it works so well with whatever you decide to spread on it!

This week, I think I’m going to venture into actual bread making. We picked up some lovely Red Fife flour from Country Thyme Farm. Confession: I’ve never actually made bread before. Working with yeast makes me nervous. It’s why we don’t have homemade cinnamon buns in the house, no matter how much I love the smell of fresh baked bread. Hoping to change that in the coming weeks. Wish me luck! Even if I pull off “real” bread, I’ll still be making this tasty Almond Butter Bread for hubby & myself to nibble on.

Our Week (so far)

A fairly regular, if not weekly, post to share photos of random moments in our lives. No particular rhyme or reason to them, just things we’ve done, or small bits of our lives I’ve finally taken notice of. Thanks for popping by and taking a peek into our week, so far:

Last weekend we popped down to Aggie Days. Guess who LOVED watching the horses?!
Last weekend we popped down to Aggie Days. Guess who LOVED watching the horses?!
And guess who LOVED petting the goats?! Our own farm days can't come soon enough for this little man.
And guess who LOVED petting the goats?! Our own farm days can’t come soon enough for this little man.
A little treasure we found in the backyard left from last summer. Those darn wasps do make beautiful nests (pictured here on one of Sam's paintings).
A little treasure we found in the backyard left from last summer. Those darn wasps do make beautiful nests (pictured here on one of Sam’s paintings).
It's all about dump trucks and dinosaurs with this guy, even in the bathtub. Such a boy!
It’s all about dump trucks and dinosaurs with this guy, even in the bathtub. Such a boy!
Who doesn't love licking buttercream icing off of the beaters?! Mama's helper making Easter cupcakes.
Who doesn’t love licking buttercream icing off of the beaters?! Mama’s helper making Easter cupcakes.
Special treats to end this busy week, margaritas and cupcakes. No complaints here (except for a pesky cold, but hopefully it got chased away by the tequila).
Special treats to end this busy week, margaritas and cupcakes. No complaints here (except for a pesky cold, but hopefully it got chased away by the tequila).

Hope you’re all enjoying a lovely Easter weekend! He IS risen! Let us rejoice!

Our Week (so far)

Evenings spent hand stitching piles of these lovely lace flowers (destined to be accents in some new products)
Evenings spent hand stitching piles of these lovely lace flowers (destined to be accents in some new products)
His and hers coconut crack bar treats. One batch with agave syrup (for her) and one batch with peanut butter (for him). Both with loads of coconut flakes & coconut oil. All sorts of yummy!
His and hers coconut crack bar treats. One batch with agave syrup (for her) and one batch for peanut butter (for him). Both with loads of coconut flakes & coconut oil. All sorts of yummy!
Homemade biscuits (made with coconut oil instead of shortening) and some tasty bacon jam (not homemade).
Homemade biscuits (made with coconut oil instead of shortening) and some tasty bacon jam (not homemade).
Be still my heart. Our little man making his first button art project.
Be still my heart. Our little man making his first button art project.
Sam's completed button artwork, perfect on the mantel. One proud mama.
Sam’s completed button artwork, perfect on the mantel. One proud mama.

Our Week (so far)

It’s been ages since I tried a regular photo post! A year and a half, in fact… oh my. My “One Moment” photo/keywording posts were replaced by the weekly Four Fab Finds posts. I love sharing the awesome shops & items that I come across on Etsy, but lately I’ve started missing the weekly photo post. Time to try something new, just in time for spring (which might actually be arriving in Calgary this weekend). This desire to take & share more photos again has even prompted me use Instagram. You can find me on there as bubblegumsassy. So here goes, a fairly regular, if not weekly, post to share photos of random moments in our lives. No particular rhyme or reason to them, just things we’ve done, or small bits of our lives I’ve finally taken notice of. Thanks for popping by and taking a peek into our week, so far:

Loving the colourful cover (and the great articles) in the latest issue of Taproot
Loving the colourful cover (and the great articles) in the latest issue of Taproot
Realized that I received my BFA a decade ago. Wow! Here's where my current painting skills are at, making new artwork for Sam's room. He calls it the "Zoo Painting".
Realized that I received my BFA a decade ago. Wow! Here’s where my current painting skills are at, making new artwork for Sam’s room. He calls it the “Zoo Painting”.
Sam is discovering all sorts of neat books on our shelves. Here he is enjoying one of our contemporary art illustration books.
Sam is discovering all sorts of neat books on our shelves. Here he is enjoying one of our contemporary art illustration books.
When you've got a sick toddler on your hands, nothing makes you ALL feel better than freshly baked cookies. This time around it was peanut butter cookies with dark chocolate chips. Yummy in my tummy!
When you’ve got a sick toddler on your hands, nothing makes you ALL feel better than freshly baked cookies. This time around it was peanut butter cookies with dark chocolate chips. Yummy in my tummy!
When you get tired of waiting for spring to arrive, you make pretty flower garden collages using old seed catalogues. Sam is getting good with a glue stick. That opens a door to a whole lot of new crafting time!
When you get tired of waiting for spring to arrive, you make pretty flower garden collages using old seed catalogues. Sam is getting good with a glue stick. That opens a door to a whole lot of new crafting time!

Hope you are all enjoying the weekend, so far! Wishing you much sunshine, thawing gardens, & puddles for splashing (and perhaps a nice long nap too)!

Happy Food pt. 2

It’s been a little long in coming, but finally put together the second installation of my Happy Food series. You can find Part 1 here. Keeping with my intention of changing some of our food habits, I finally decided to get on board with my hubby and cut out all vegetable & canola oils (including shortening). I wasn’t using them all that much really, mostly in my baking. We already frequently use olive oil, butter, or bacon grease to cook with. We decided to start using coconut oil for some things. The switch wasn’t as difficult as I had built it up to be. In my mind, it was going to be a real pain in the butt and mean sacrificing some of my fave recipes (many passed down from my family) and having to find new ones to use.

This has not been the case. I found some helpful, easy tips online about substituting coconut oil for vegetable/canola oil & shortening. I also embraced the fact that things might not turn out “right” the first time. Armed with that attitude and determined to commit to the switch, I dove in. I started substituting coconut oil in my baking in the fall, and so far, there hasn’t really been a fail recipe. So today, I want to share some of the tasty things Sammy & I have been eating (hubby is low-carb, so he skips most of these treats… being low-carb is quite a big eating habit change, one that I’m not mentally or emotionally capable of committing to, yet).

First off, you might ask, why coconut oil? It’s not locally grown or made and travels large distances to get onto my pantry shelf. This is one of those instances where healthy outweighs buying local, that is, until we have our own dairy cow & can make enough butter to keep our household happy without breaking the bank. For hubby, who believes in low-carb eating, the fat in coconut oil is not something to be scared of, but embraced. You can find plenty of info and ugly videos on just how disgusting vegetable & canola oil is. With the limited time we have on this earth, I’d much rather put yummy organic coconut oil in my body than that stuff! Don’t get me wrong, we LOVE butter at our house and have been trying to purchase butter from pasture-raised, grass-fed dairy. Simply put, it’s expensive, especially in the quantities we already use. The good quality milk to make the butter is pricey too. Again, I dream of days when we have buckets of milk from our own dairy cow to make yummy, healthy butter.

So let’s check out some of the tasty treats.

We’ve made yummy pancakes, waffles, even Sammy’s birthday cake. Some of these were done with a box mix for dry ingredients (hey, I didn’t say we were perfect). Homemade biscuits are great with that touch of coconut taste. And we’ve made lots & lots of muffins! Coconut oil in muffins has been a delightful discovery. Try it! Another wonderful recipe find has been Coconut Crack Bars. They’re a super snack at our house now, that even Sam loves! I even figured out a low-carb version for hubby (skip the agave syrup & salt, increase the coconut oil, melt some of the coconut oil beforehand and add some lime juice). And who can forget THE best gingerbread cookies I’ve ever made!?! Yep, for Christmas this year, I stuck to my commitment to avoid shortening and made my mom’s gingerbread cookie recipe with coconut oil. Best batch I’ve ever made! Seriously. That officially ended my fear of substituting coconut oil into my fave recipes.

By the way, frying some veggies (like kale & chard) and meats (like beef) in coconut can add a nice change in flavor. I sometimes put just a dab of it on cooked veggies before we serve them (so yummy on carrots). There’s a lot you can do with coconut oil!

Here’s our fave muffin recipe for you to try:

Banana Chocolate Chip Coconut Muffins

Banana chocolate chip muffins by Bubblegum Sass

Ingredients
• 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 egg
• 1/2 cup coconut oil (or a touch more for even more moistness)
• 1/2 cup plain or vanilla greek yogurt
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 cup mashed ripe bananas
• 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or more if you want)
• 1/2 cup finely shredded coconut (optional)

Directions
1. In a medium size bowl, combine egg, yogurt, and vanilla. Microwave for 20 seconds & let sit.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. Measure out your coconut oil & melt it.
4. Add the melted coconut oil to the bowl of other wet ingredients. Mix well with a whisk.
5. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.
6. Fold in bananas and chocolate chips and optional shredded coconut.
7. Fill parchment paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full.
8. Bake at 350 degrees F for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
9. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to wire racks.

Tips For Baking With Coconut Oil

  • To substitute coconut oil for vegetable oil, simply use the amount of oil called for in the recipe & then melt it. It’s a straight 1-1 substitution amount.
  • To substitute coconut oil for shortening, reduce the amount of oil used by about 25% (for example, if the recipe calls for 1 cup of shortening, use 3/4 cups of coconut oil).
  • To melt my coconut oil for baking recipes, I usually pop it into the microwave for 15 sec. The “experts” on coconut oil recommend a double boiler. If you use a microwave, just be very careful not to over heat. Coconut oil melts easily.
  • Coconut oil has a lower smoke-point than vegetable oil, so keep that in mind if you’re frying it.
  • The  most helpful thing to keep in mind, if you’re adding melted coconut to other wet ingredients in a recipe (like eggs & milk), make sure those ingredients are not straight-out-of-the-fridge cold. Start your baking by mixing together the cold wet ingredients, microwave them for 20 sec & let them sit while you organize everything else. This will ensure that when you add the melted coconut oil to the wet ingredients, the oil won’t start to cool & re-solidify right away. The first recipe I tried, I didn’t heed this advice & the dough never was a great consistency for mixing thoroughly.

Hope you enjoy experimenting with coconut oil! I’ll try to post some of the other recipes we use, like our homemade biscuits and gingerbread cookies, later this month.

Sweetheart Treats

Valentine treats by Bubblegum Sass

Last month, I hosted a little get together for friends. There was lots of sweet treats and pretty decorations in pink & purple. Simple doilies, fresh carnations, and cute handmade details.

Cupcake liner bowls by Bubblegum Sass

Instead of trying to make my own little chocolates, I picked up some tasty Bernard Callebaut chocolates. I turned pretty paper cupcake liners inside-out to make little bowls for them.

Cinnamon heart shortbread cookies by Bubblegum Sass

These tasty Cinnamon Heart Shortbread cookies were a hit with my tummy and I’ll be sure to make them again next year for Valentine’s Day. You can find the recipe for these here. The recipe calls for cinnamon extract, which isn’t something I typically keep with my baking supplies. I found something suitable at Micheal’s. Start by adding a tiny amount, and continue to add more bit by bit until you achieve the flavor you like.

Doily Bowls by Bubblegum Sass

To make some cute little bowls for the cinnamon heart candies, I just folded small circular paper doilies and taped the corners with washi tape (similar idea as these bowls made from paper plates).

Chocolate dipped waffer cookies by Bubblegum Sass

These cookies were a super hit! I think I’ll have to make more of them soon, the very next time I have an excuse to serve super sweet sugar bombs! They’re really simple to make too. Sammy and I did these together (sort of). I dipped the wafer cookies in the melted white chocolate and Sam did some of the sprinkles (although mainly he waited for them to dry so he could get a bite or two). Find the recipe here.

Melted crayon hearts by Bubblegum Sass

And lastly, a little bit of festive decorating. These pretty hearts are made from crayons melted between wax paper. Two lessons learned while making these: First, make the crayon shavings small & don’t over do it. They turn out much better if you don’t use too many shavings. Second, keep the temperature on the iron low and press the wax paper between old tea towels (or t-shirts), otherwise you’ll end up with a very messy iron.

Have fun with all your baking and crafting, whatever the reason or season!