Saturday, January 18, 2014

NRHEG Star Eagle: A Christmas Story of Love and Hope

We've been featured again!  I graduated from NRHEG, so this is the "hometown" paper, the NRHEG Star Eagle. :)  They did a fantastic job with this article - while I was immensely pleased to be featured in our local town paper & magazine, they did get a lot of the details incorrect so this has been a chance to get it out there, with the "right" story!

Please click to read:
Featured in the 2013 Christmas Edition of the 
NRHEG Star Eagle:
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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Nightshade free pepperoni!

Yes, that's right.  I searched online for a nightshade free pepperoni recipe and came up with nothing truly nightshade free.  I did, however, find several recipes for vegan "pepperoni" made with beets (and nightshades).  So today's experiment:  Nightshade FREE pepperoni!!

I modified the existing recipes to not only be nightshade free, but to my own taste:

1/2 a large beet, quartered and sliced thin

1/2 c. water
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp garlic granules
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

grind together, either in a coffee grinder, or a mortar & pestle:
1/2 tsp dehydrated onion flakes
1/2 tsp mustard seed
1/2 tsp fennel seed
1/4 tsp sage leaves (dried)

Layer beets in a baking dish.  Stir sauce ingredients together, and pour over beets, stir to coat.  Spread the beet slices out, but no need to be single layer.  Bake at 325F for 20  min, and flip the beets.  Bake an additional 10 - 15 minutes, then stir, and repeat until beet slices are soft and edges begin to curl, with most of the liquid absorbed.

I had my doubts that this would taste like pepperoni, but I was wrong!  Okay, it's not exactly like pepperoni, but it is pretty close! And delicious!!

1/23/14 Editing to add: I tried them on a nightshade free paleo pizza.  They were very tasty on pizza,but the pepperoni flavor wasn't strong enough; it was more like eating a veggie pizza.  Next up I tried marinating hamburger in the recipe above  - but while that amount of fennel is perfect for beets, it overpowers the meat.  Good thing I like fennel!  3rd attempt was the same recipe, only doubling all the spices/herbs except the fennel, which was cut to about 1/8 tsp, and using venison burger.  THAT was excellent!! Not perfectly pepperoni-like, but close!

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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Paleo Chocolate Covered Cherries

With the holidays just past, paleo desserts have been on my mind.  I miss chocolate covered cherries, but don't dare eat the commercial ones. Processed sugars make my joints hurt something awful!  I modified a traditional recipe but have not really figured out precise measurements yet for the paleo version - just did my typical "throw stuff together". 

Original version: 60 maraschino cherries, 3 Tbsp of butter, 3 Tbsp of light corn syrup, 2c of powdered sugar, and 1 lb dipping chocolate.

My version: a package of frozen dark sweet cherries (approx. 30 cherries), and what I'm guessing amounted to 1/4 c (unrefined) coconut oil, 1/4 c maple syrup, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1/2 c arrowroot powder, 1/4 tsp xanthan gum, and a 10 oz package of Enjoy Life Chocolate Mega Chunks.  I'm pretty good at eyeballing measurements. :)

I melted the coconut oil with the maple syrup and vanilla extract, then added a little arrowroot powder not only to thicken, but to give that slightly powdery texture that powdered sugar would give.  It blended up nicely and I thought about putting it in the fridge to cool so it would be easier to apply to the cherries . . . but I am impatient.  So I added xanthan gum.  Now, I did not mean to use that much xanthan gum - the bag spilled.  It gelled the mixture a little more (okay, a lot more) than I wanted!  I will note that some of the coconut oil, I estimate about 1 Tbsp, refused to mix in no matter how much I stirred.  Actually it wasn't a bad thing that the mixture gelled that much - it was fairly easy to apply it to the cherries, which were still frozen. With the coldness of the cherries, the coconut oil hardened back up quickly and the mixture stayed on the cherries nicely.  Then I melted the chocolate and dipped the coated cherries, and placed them in mini-muffin paper cups.  The chocolate began to cool and the frozen cherries began to melt, so while the first half of the finished batch looked great, the second half was not particularly appetizing-looking!

If I had been thinking, I would have used either a double boiler or a heating pad to keep the chocolate all melty, and kept the coated cherries in the freezer or at least on cold packs to keep them frozen for easy dipping. But at least they tasted great!  They were even better the second day.

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