Hot Chocolate Mix

I am an ardent hater of shoes and socks.  From as early in Spring as possible, until as late in Fall as possible I eschew socks and shoes as much as possible.  Obviously society demands that I wear shoes sometimes, but not socks – not if I don’t have to!  In winter, while others are wearing slippers AND socks inside the house, I have bare feet.  Socks are a last resort on a very cold day.

Given that, you can imagine that it came as a huge surprise to me when, the other night, I was sitting in the living room and my feet were cold.  I mean, come on!  It’s only September.  (I think my feet were just in shock from a sudden swing in temperature.  They are fine now. Ha, ha.)  However, cold feet put me in mind of the weather to come, and the blizzards that will rage outside my window.  Thinking of snow put me in my of hot chocolate, and how sad it is that I can’t have it.  But wait!  Or could I…..?

After a couple of tries I came up with this simple blend that was quite good.  I wanted to do something that I could make up in “bulk” – I could be like all the people without eating issues who just pull a can out of their cupboard and spoon some out.

The picture you will see of the hot chocolate is not really for the hot chocolate, because we all know what that looks like.  It will be featuring some beautiful new mugs I just got for my birthday (which was on Tuesday – let me know if you need to know where to send my gift – ha, ha).  I love them!

Three ingredients.  Too simple to pass up:

3/4 sugar (I used organic)

1/2 cup cocoa powder (read label to check for allergens)

1/2 cup chopped chocolate

(I used Camino – allergen free.  You can either do unsweetened or sweetened, depending on your sweetness preference level)

That’s it!  Stir around with a fork until combined.

To make hot chocolate:

Put one cup of non dairy milk in a mug. Microwave for one minute.  Take out, and add two tbsp. of the hot chocolate mixture.  Stir it around.  Put it back in the microwave for another 45-60 seconds, depending on the strength of your microwave, and on how hot you like your beverages.

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*Optionally – top with a plop of Marshmellow Fluff.  Yum.  If you have some on hand, grate a little Candy Cane Topper on top.  If you don’t have any on hand, you can get it here:http://www.mysteepedtea.com/KT100786/shop/PRODUCTDETAIL.aspx?prod=13051

Enjoy!  And may the weather that makes us all want hot chocolate be months and months away.

 

  • Late breaking news flash!  Hubby likes the one with unsweetened chopped chocolate better, in a blind taste test.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Squares

So, I lied.  When I started doing recipes for the blog, I told myself that even when one didn’t turn out well, I would post about it anyway, because that would “keep it real”.  Yeah….not so much.  🙂  I tried making an apple cake with lemon sauce to post, in keeping with apples and fall and things like that.  So much was wrong with it.  Oh my.  First off, the cake didn’t bake properly and was just a gummy mess.  Secondly, the flavour was dastardly.  Thirdly, the sauce was disgusting.   I was going off a recipe in a book, and changing it so that I could eat it, so obviously something went wrong.  However, the sauce was made as the recipe asked – no substitutions needed – and it was gross.  And lastly, the combo of the apple cake and lemon sauce was not good.  Not good at all.

Here is a picture of it before it baked:

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And after:

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I refuse to acknowledge the gross sauce by including a picture of it.

In the wake of that disaster, I needed to prove to myself that I actually can make things that taste good in the kitchen.  And I ask you, what tastes better than peanut butter and chocolate?  Nothing.  In this case, Sunbutter, but almost the same.  There is a recipe I used to make when the kids were growing up called “Original Sin Bars”, and they taste like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.  As luck would have it, I had everything in the house I needed to make them, and after consoling myself by licking the spoon and bowl, I now have my kitchen confidence back!

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1 cup Sunbutter

1 cup graham wafer crumbs (I use Kinnikinnick)

2 cups powdered sugar (I didn’t have any, so I pulverized some white sugar in my Blend Tec until it became powdered sugar)

Melt Sunbutter and butter/marg. in a bowl in the microwave.  Stir until smooth.  Blend in the crumbs and sugar until thoroughly combined.  Pat (and by pat, I mean press hard)  into an ungreased 8 x 8 pan.

Glaze:

1 cup chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life chocolate chunks)

1/4 cup butter or margarine

Melt together, stir, and spread over the squares.

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Boom.  So easy, so delicious.  Chill them to set before slicing.

The Onion Ring Experiment

I am really not trying to usurp my mom’s glory by posting about 12 hours before her…I promise mom! 🙂 I managed to have a little ‘me time’ today – my hubby was downstairs, my three (almost four) year-old was playing Lego in his room, and my (almost) one year-old was napping. Bliss.

I had some time, a couple of onions leftover from my Crockpot meals, and an itch to try something new!
(Ps. I was not feeling entirely all that ‘healthy’ today… 🙂 )

I knew that onion rings had to be an extremely easy thing to make, but it was just one of those things that I had never tried! I found an easy recipe, mixed it up a bit and voila – Steeped Tea inspired Onion Rings using our Garlic Chili cheeseball spice!

Step 1 – (In a perfect world) Heat the oil in a deep-fryer to 365 degrees F
(In my world) Heat olive oil in a frying pan on the stove on medium heat

Step 2 – Take 2 Medium (what I had) or 1 Large Onion. Cut both ends off and remove skin. Cut the whole onion into about 1/4 inch strips. Then, take each strip and separate out the rings.

Step 3 – Mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1 1/2 tsp salt. Add 2 tsp Garlic Chili cheeseball mix for some kick!

Step 4 – Coat your rings in the flour mixture and then set aside.
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Step 5 – Add 2 eggs and 1 1/2 cups milk to the remaining flour mixture.
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Step 6 – Coat the rings in the mixture, making sure they are evenly coated on all sides. Place rings on a wire rack to let the excess drip off. (Place tinfoil under the wire rack for easier clean-up)
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Step 7 – (In that perfect world) Deep fry the rings for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown.
(In my world) Experiment with time and temperature and let cook until golden brown. 🙂 At first, my oil was too hot, so they cooked too quick and the onion wasn’t perfectly cooked inside. Then, of course, I let the oil lower in temperature too much, so they had to sit for a little too long in the pan. Finally, I got everything working beautifully!
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Step 8 – Remove to a paper towel to drain. Season with a touch of Hawaiian Chipolte or SalTea topper and serve.

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Voila!

Totally easy, totally delicious……..just maybe don’t eat them everyday!

The Crockpot Freezer Meals: Take 1

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I love my crockpot so much. ❤

If you haven’t mastered the “art” of crockpot cooking, you really need to bring this delightful appliance into your home and give it a whirl. Crockpots can take a mishmash of ingredients, let them bask in each other’s glory for hours, and at the end of your day, you have a delicious meal!

Once you have a few ‘staples’ under your belt, I think you will find that you can easily look in  your fridge or at the grocery store and come up with your own ideas or recipes that could work!

Crockpot freezer meals take this to the next step. Now, you are not only making easy, amazing dinners, but you are making like 20 meals in 3 hours and you are set for weeks and weeks of meal prep. For me, I like to use maybe 1 or 2 crockpot freezer meals a week. Depending on the recipe, you may have leftovers or not, but at the very least, you are guaranteed to have your “big meal” for the day prepared. We all know that at least one meal in a week is a “whatever you can find in the fridge” meal, and other times, it’s just something simple like soup & sandwiches, pasta, pizza or breakfast for supper.

My first experience with this ‘batch cooking’ idea was right before we had our daughter (2nd child). I was having a c-section, already had an almost three-year-old and I just knew I would need some help. I compiled some recipes that looked like they would work, had a MASSIVE Costco shopping trip with my son, mom and grandma, and then they came over the next day to help me get about 18 meals prepared.

We LOVED having meals in the freezer ready to take out, throw in the crockpot and eat! Most recipes don’t need anything extra, and the ones that do, it’s often just pasta or rice that you can make up really quick before dinner.

A year later (oops, life passes by so quickly!), I decided to make up 20 more freezer meals, and plan to do this more regularly in the coming months. I kept some of the old recipes, added a few new ones, and then gave a Steeped Tea twist to all the meals.

My inspiration for the freezer meals this time around is my hubby’s new shift….3 a.m. until 11 a.m. OUCH. The change in his hours meant a change in our whole schedule, including eating! We now aim to have our “big family meal” at lunch, because often he will be in bed before the kids, so supper has become our smaller meal (which I hear is better for you anyway).

At first, I was gung-ho for this lunch idea and came up with some great meals, like….
A Taco Bar!
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Or Breakfast for supper….err lunch?
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We also had one day where I had made homemade bread and then used it to make grilled cheese to go along with our soup. YEAH, that was awesome.

And then…I sort of fell back into the old routine. It’s hard to wake up, get enthused about all the many things that your 3-year-old wants to show you, chase your (so close to) 1-year-old around, clean up the always happening house tornado, work from home, AND get a big meal on the table for noon. It’s hard enough some days to do all that and be ready for a 5 p.m. meal.

So, I welcomed back the crockpot freezer meals!

I will give you the recipes for a few of them now, and save the rest for another day. (This blog is long enough already!) I should also say – the inspiration for these recipes have come from all over. Some are adapted meals that we have always used, others are recipes I have found online and then tweaked over time, etc. For this batch cooking, though, I went through every recipe and replaced some of the spices/ingredients with Steeped Tea products to give it that extra twist.

Also, I ALWAYS make two of each recipe – you are already doing all the work for one, it only takes a couple extra minutes to do the second one. Most of these recipes are really quite standard, so it’s not likely you won’t like them (or you will be able to tell right away from the ingredients that you won’t).

Recipe #1 – 
Lemon Garlic Chicken

2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp Green Tea rub
2 tbsp. lemon juice
3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Throw everything in a ziplock freezer bag and label it.
When you want to eat it, just empty it into your crockpot for 6-8 hours on low.
Serve with rice or quinoa.

(Note: This one is an adapted recipe and my first time using it. I am not 100% sure that it has enough liquid in it, so I will be monitoring it when it comes time to cook it.)

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Recipe #2  –
Chicken Teriyaki

3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
5oz teriyaki sauce
½ tbsp. Smoky Tea-aki rub (okay, I didn’t actually measure it, but that’s about how much I used)
16 oz bag of frozen stir fry vegetables

Seriously, how easy is that?!
Throw everything into a freezer ziplock bag and label it. Always be sure to squish the air out (carefully!) before you seal and freeze.
When you are ready to eat it, put it in the crockpot for 6-8 hours on low.
Serve with rice.

Recipe #3 –
Honey Sesame Chicken

3-4 boneless skinless chicken breast
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup honey
2 tbsp. sesame seeds
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp. sesame oil
SalTea Topper – add as much as you like!

Throw everything into a freezer ziplock bag and label it. With recipes like this one with a ‘sauce,’ I always squish the bag around to make sure the chicken is coated and everything is mixed well.
When you are ready to eat it, put it in the crockpot for 4-6hours on low.
Serve with rice.

**This recipe introduces you to one of my very favourite seasonings – the SalTea topper! I use this exclusively to replace salt in my meals. It is a combination of salt, black tea and onion flakes and has a nice smoky taste to it. If a recipe calls for salt and pepper, again, I often just use this in its place. It’s a grinder, so it really helps you limit the salt content for yourself and the kids, and it lasts for a long time, which is even better!
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These were my first 6 meals – I did these in about 45 minutes after coming home from Costco and another grocery store feeling VERY tired but determined to get some done before a team outing at Social Art KW!.

7 more recipes to come, stay tuned!

 

The Summer Cold

It’s the dog days of summer.  In Southern Ontario, this year, that means it is hot – like, REALLY hot – and so humid.  Oh, so humid.  My naturally curly hair looks, most days, like a squirrel’s nest.  The only hairdo I can handle is a pony tail.  This year the dog days of summer brought with them seasonal allergies and a fantastically horrific head cold.  Combining those two things meant I had no energy, aching bones, and a head which didn’t efficiently take in much oxygen most of the time.  The energy I could muster up was used to float on a blow-up ring in my mother’s pool.

When the cold was at its highest point, and my energy at its lowest, I had previously committed to going down to Burlington for a dozen cupcakes to be eaten at a family birthday party.  So hubby and I loaded ourselves into the car and as we approached Burlington, he saw a sign for “Canada’s Biggest Ribfest“.  Fellow multi-allergy sufferers – you all know there wasn’t going to be anything there for me to eat, right?  As we got closer he said, “Oh – can you smell that???”  No, actually, I could not.  That was the extent of this cold.  However, being a good wife, I told him that of course we should walk down to the Ribfest, and of course he should get a rib dinner, and please tell me how good it tastes.  Here I am, wishing I could have some too:

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The cost to my husband was buying me a Raspberry Square at Kelly’s Bake Shoppe.  He happily obliged.

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Anyway, all that to say – I did not do a new recipe this week.  I did, however try some things I’ve done before, and will pass those on to you.  First off – a friend sent me a link for Elderberry Syrup, which is supposed to boost your immune system.  Clearly I started taking it too late.  However, I made it, and it’s in the fridge.  I’m taking some every day, so hopefully it will help for the future.  You can find the recipe by Wellness Mama here: http://wellnessmama.com/1888/elderberry-syrup/

 

I also tried a Chocolate Cherry loaf from The Gluten Free Gourmet Bakes Bread, by Betty Hagman.  The only substitution I had to make was chia eggs for the two eggs she calls for, and it was quite good.  Moist, held together well, and tasted good.  She says to use 3/4 cup to one cup of chocolate chips – when in doubt, go for more chocolate, I say!  🙂  Here is the link for her book: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/the-gluten-free-gourmet-bakes/9780805060782-item.html

(or you could see if your local library has it!)

The last thing I did was homemade pizza, using a recipe from Donna Washburn’s book, seen here

: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/complete-gluten-free-cookbook-150/9780778801580-item.html?ikwid=donna+Washburn&ikwsec=Home&ikwidx=1

Most of her recipes are really good.  I have three of her books, and haven’t been disappointed yet.

 

So there you go.  That is probably more information about me and my cold that you ever hoped to read, but I hope some valuable information for you to use as well.  On a positive note, our heat wave is scheduled to break in a couple of days, and my cold is on its way out!

 

Apple Crisp

It’s time for me to face it.  Fall is coming.  Even though, here in Southern Ontario, we are mired in a blazing heat wave combined with brutal humidity (ask my frizzy hair about that!), it’s September and Fall is coming.  I love Fall – I really do.  It might be my favourite season – beautiful colour on changing leaves, crisp air, gorgeous blue skies, and fall produce.  The one thing I hate about Fall is that is directly precedes by least favourite season…..Winter.  Shhhh…..let’s not talk about that.

One thing that I really do love about Fall is that it is apple season.  We have been going to the same orchard to pick apples since my oldest (who is almost 32!) was a little guy.  Now we go with the grandchildren.  What a great thing it is to pass on traditions from generation to generation.  Pictured below:  my baby.  🙂

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It seems that everyone has their own favourite recipe for Apple Crisp, and I’m certainly no different.  It came out of a book I got when we got married called “The Bride’s Book of Ideas“.  Flipping through this book now – oh my, it’s so dated.  Sections include:  Sing as you Work (because it will make your days smoother, sweeter, and happier), Unexpected Guests (how not to be flustered if people show up), and Setting the Table (including tips such as – leave 18″ between place settings, silverware should be one inch from the edge of the table, and the water glass should be at the point of the knife.   Sorry to all my guests over the years that did not receive this kind of service.  Ha, ha).  I couldn’t believe it – but doing a search for it, I found it’s still available, and still looks the same!  Click on the title above to see it.

However, there are some recipes in this book that are tried and true, and this is one of them.  I’ve tried others, but I always come back to this one.  It’s not low in sugar, and this should /could be adjusted based on the apples you’re using.  And of course, I have had to make my own adjustments to make it allergen free.  My grandson and I shared some of this apple crisp just the other day, and he declared it delicious.

 

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white rice flour

1/4 cup sweet sorghum flour

1/2 tsp. xanthan gum

1/4 cup butter or margarine

4 cups apples, sliced

1/4 cup water

1 tsp. cinnamon

 

Work sugars, flours, xanthan and butter together until crumbly.  I use a fork for this.  Prepare apples and place into a greased, shallow pan.  I use an 8” casserole.  Pour water over apples, and sprinkle with cinnamon.  I usually don’t measure the cinnamon – just sprinkle some on there.  Spread the crumb mixture over the apples and bake uncovered for 50 minutes or until apples are tender at 350*.

Boom.  Done.  So easy – so good.