Monday, March 24, 2014

Homemade Sugar-Free Almond Butter Chocolate Fudge

I am totally addicted to these!!!  I have a carob bark recipe and I found some similar recipes to this chocolate.  I sort of combined them all and tweaked them a bit to be this...

Almond Butter Chocolate Fudge/Cups
  •  1/2 Cup coconut oil (melted but not hot)
  • 1/2 Cup raw cocoa powder (cacao or carob powder will work as well, make sure the ingredient label states no sugar!)
  •  1/2 Cup almond butter (or nut butter of your choosing, I used my own homemade almond butter, click here for the recipe)
  • 1/4 Cup honey or Stevia to taste (I like it best with local honey)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (no sugar or corn syrup added)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Heat coconut oil until melted, but not hot, on low heat, and mix well with the almond butter.
Remove from heat and add the cocoa powder, honey, vanilla and salt, mix well to combine. The batter should be more of a liquid than a solid. 
Line muffin tin with cupcake liners.  Add the almond butter mixture and fill each cup about ¼ - ½ inch full.  You should have about a dozen.  You do not need to spray the liners, I had no trouble get them out when I did not spray them.
Stick tray into freezer for about 10-15 minutes.  Remove from freezer, unwrap and enjoy!

~These can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for a more of a solid chocolate or in the refrigerator for more of a fudgy type of bar.

I think when I made them with the carob powder that I burnt the carob a little bit and that's why it got a little gritty.  But I thought they were still ever so tasty with the carob powder!
I made another batch with Stevia instead of honey and the carob powder and they looked more like the picture at the top with the cocoa powder, so that's why I think I may have slightly burned the carob powder.  I actually just read that it is possible to burn carob powder.

I'd have to say I like them best with honey and not Stevia.  And either carob or cocoa powder.  I have not had cacao powder yet.  One website I was at said cocoa and cacao were the same and another said they weren't.  In making cocoa the beans are roasted and in making cacao the beans are not roasted.  Apparently in the roasting process you loose some nutrients.  I don't have cacao powder but I'm interested in trying it.

I don't normally consider things sugar free if they use honey, so I should say it's refined sugar free.  But if you use Stevia then it is sugar free.

If you love your candy bought at the store you may not be a huge fan of these, they are not your typical chocolate peanut butter cup.  I was sugar free for awhile when I was on the Candida Diet then after 6 months of being totally strict I sort of allowed myself some treats now and then.  I don't eat near as much sugar or candy as I did before I did the Candida Diet.  I do try to not eat sugar but I love chocolate and peanut butter.  And these are an amazing substitute for me!  It made my day that I've found these!  I will gladly eat these over store bought chemical filled chocolate!  But that's not to say that I will always be good and never eat the store bought chocolate again, because I know there will be times that I will.  But when the sweet tooth hits I'm so happy to have these!  I think they taste great and I really like them, maybe a little too much!  In my opinion they are way healthier then the chocolate you buy in the store!
My 2 year old daughter also loves these!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Homemade Granola/Energy No Bake Bars

Granola bars!
I found this amazing recipe on Pinterest!  I copied and pasted it into Word, printed it and saved it, but I must have never pinned it.  I went back to move it into my "Pins I've made and tried" folder and I couldn't find.  So I feel bad not given credit where credit is due!  However I have tweaked it a little.  
My husband likes to say I'm always taking good recipes and trying to make them healthier, which I do try to do.  I've followed this basic recipe and tried several different ways to cut out the brown sugar, so I will try and explain all the different ways I've done it and then you can decide which way you want to make it.
I LOVE these!!!!!  I eat so many of them!!!!!!  They are great for a quick breakfast, snack or pick me up!  And I've read granola bars are great for some energy before a work out!  You can't beat homemade!  No preservatives or any of that garbage! 

  • 1/2 C honey (I use local honey)
  • 1/2 C brown sugar (read notes below to substitute this)
  • 1/2 cup nut butter (I used my homemade almond butter)
  • 2 C quick oats (I have also used rolled oats)
  • 2 cups rice cereal (I use crushed up brown rice cakes but rice crispies work too!)
  • 1/4 C flax seed meal
  • 1 C total mix-ins – such as raisins, craisins, chocolate chips, sliced almonds, etc. (I like to use golden raisins, dark chocolate chips and sliced almonds and usually add more then 1 cup.)
In saucepan mix honey and brown sugar over medium heat until sugar dissolved, stirring a few times.
Remove from heat and quickly mix in nut butter.  Let cool a bit.
Meanwhile, mix oats, cereal and flax seed in large bowl together.
Pour dry ingredients into honey and nut butter mixture and mix well. 
Add chosen mix-ins.
Press mixture into a 9x13 pan sprayed with cooking spray or lined with wax paper or parchment paper.  Make sure to really press hard or they will fall apart!
Let it cool and firm up (I put mine in the fridge for about an hour).
Then cut into desired size of bars and store in air-tight container in fridge. (If you house is warm, they kind of droop and fall apart, but still taste fine.)
 To make it Refined Sugar Free...
(Please note that sometimes when you make it without the brown sugar they aren't as firm.)

  • I used all honey, so replace the 1/2 Cup brown sugar with honey, making it 1 Cup honey.  I just warmed the honey a little, do not boil it, then stirred in the almond butter.  
  • I also used chopped dates boiled in water and mushed up in place of the brown sugar.  I'm sorry I didn't really measure it when I did.  It's about 1 cup chopped dates and 1/2 cup water.  In a saucepan simmer the dates in the water for about 5 minutes and mash it up with a fork or a potato masher.  Then I added the honey and nut butter.

To make it all Sugar Free...
I just used all dates, mushed up in water, no honey.  I've read that honey still spikes your blood sugar, but then someone told me it's in a good way... so I don't know.  All I know is when I did the Candida diet I wasn't allowed honey, only Stevia.  So about 2 cups dates simmered in 1/2-1 cup water for about 5-7 minutes and then you mash it with a potato masher or a fork.  Then stir in he nut butter.

I have some unsweetened coconut flakes that I also throw in, just about 1/4 cup maybe a little more.  You don't really taste or see it and it's supposed to be good for you.

I've also made my homemade chocolate or carob almond butter cups (click here for the recipe), chopped them up and put them in.  The carob I think can be a tad bitter so put in here with all the sweetness of the honey it is so yummy!!!!!  I have a carob bark recipe that is very similar to the almond butter chocolate/fudge recipe, the main difference is adding the almond butter.  Which I don't find to make too much of a difference.

I've given the recipe to some friends and they have also really liked these!  Try them!  They are very quick to make, healthier then the bought ones and I think so much tastier then the store bought ones!!!!!!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Chicken Money Saving Tip

When chicken breast is on sale I buy a lot of it.  I will cube it and spread it out on a greased cookie sheet and then freeze it over night.  Then I put it in a gallon freezer bag.  This way I can just pour what I need into my pan, crock pot, casserole dish or whatever I need cubed raw chicken for, which seems to be a lot of things.  It's a nice time saver and it saves money when you buy it on sale.

Please note in the picture below there isn't much chicken on the pan, I normally put more on.  However in the case below I had bought a big pack and cooked some of it that night for dinner so what was left I cubed and threw it on a greased cookie sheet to freeze.

I love not having to wait to thaw my frozen chicken breast, then cutting it up to use it.  This works so well straight from the freezer, with it being already cut up it cooks quick and by freezing it on a pan it doesn't all clump together when you put it in the freezer bag, making it nice to get just the portion you want.

I will also boil some chicken, shred it and then spread that out on a pan, freeze it and then place it in a gallon freezer bag.  For the shredded chicken I don't normally spray the pan.  But for the raw cubed chicken I've found that it needs to be sprayed.

The pre-cooked shredded chicken I use for my salad and I have some recipes that call for pre-cooked chicken.  Or I can shorten some cooking time in some recipes by already having the chicken cooked. 

It's real nice for my salads, I just put some in a small microwave safe bowl, put a lid on it and zap it in the microwave for about 40 seconds and throw it on my salad.

And you can trim the fat off the chicken breast, leave it whole and place it on a greased cookie sheet and freeze it that way.  If chicken breasts aren't on sale I normally just buy the forzen chicken breasts from BJ's.  However unless I'm grilling it, I usually cut it up to cook it, so I don't just trim it and freeze it whole.

I normally buy and freeze enough to have until the next time Chicken breasts is on sale again.  I don't get the paper with the sale ads, I just always walk past the chicken breasts and look to see if they are on sale when I go grocery shopping, which is at least once a week for milk and veggies.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Monster Pillow for Tooth Fairy or Just of Fun

My one son has lost 3 baby teeth so far and I think 1 made it under his pillow.  He seems to think it's a bad thing to loose his teeth.  We bought and read books to him about loosing teeth and talked to him about it and he has an older brother who's lost teeth and gotten money for it.  So I don't understand why he threw his latest lost tooth in the trash and didn't even tell us he had lost it.  It wasn't until my husband noticed and asked when he had lost it.  I didn't know either but I had remembered him throwing something away at breakfast the other morning saying "eeewww, something hard." When we asked him when he lost his tooth he burst into tears saying it was at breakfast the other morning.  We told him it's not a bad thing and he could leave a note for the tooth fairy, but he didn't want to do that either.  
So I was thinking maybe he's afraid of the tooth fairy coming in his room and going under his pillow.  And I thought I'd make him a special pillow he could put his lost tooth in and he can set it next to his bed, on his bed or next to his door if he wanted.   Whatever the reason for him not being excited about loosing teeth and throwing them away... hopefully a cute monster pillow will help!
I looked on Pinterest and wasn't 100% in love with any of them, so I drew up my own.  I had some 16" pillow forms in the attic I got out and thought I would use one of them.  I also just used some fabric I already had.  I used felt for the eyes and teeth and that minky stuff (I think that's what people call it) for the horns and the back.
For the teeth I left one side open for a pocket to put a tooth and where the Tooth Fairy can leave the money.
I like multi functional things.  If the pillow was just for teeth then soon he'll be done with it.  I wanted it to also be for other stuff and get more use out if.  So for the mouth I put a zipper and I overlapped the bottom fabric to cover the teeth so it would be softer if the face part is laid against.  I sewed another fabric to the top piece to create a big pocket, the size of the pillow.  You can put books or whatever you'd like in there.
I scanned in my drawing and then touched it up a bit.  When I would do my own quilts, I drew up those as well, colored them in and wrote measurements.  I guess I'm a bit of a nerd, I have to draw out my plans or use ones with measurements and stuff already.  But it seems I often change plans of someones else's too.  In junior high I took a mechanical drawing class and I loved it!  I felt like I was back in that class drawing the teeth, going over 1.5" and up 5"...  LOL!  It was fun, maybe that's why I drew out a lot of my own quilt designs too, I enjoy it.  Anyway here is my drawing after I touched it up in Photoshop...
 I also made a pattern for the eyes, teeth and horns.  Hopefully you can right click it, save it to your computer and then print it out.  You cannot print it with a border if you want it as big as I did mine.  The patterns go right to the edge of the paper.  For the horns I used the teeth pattern, but put about a 1/2" border around it.  Using your cutting ruler and mat, put the half inch line of your ruler on the edge of your pattern and cut.  Hmmm... sorry maybe I should have taken a picture of that.

What you'll need... 

You will need two 17" squares one for the back piece (I use that soft minky stuff) and one for the piece you'll put under the top to make the big pocket. So you could just use a fat quarter for these pieces.

For the face you'll need to cut 17"x 12.5"

For the mouth piece you'll need to cut 17" x 7" (I cut it 17" x 7.5" and ended up trimming 1/2" off, always better to be safe then sorry.)

For the face and mouth pieces you could also use fat quarters, or buy 1/2 yard cuts of fabric, depending on the direction of the pattern and how you want the direction of the pattern to go.

I had the felt on hand, but if you're going out to buy it you can just buy 1/4 of a yard, the biggest piece is 6" in diameter.  Or you could use the felt sheets.  Don't forget you will need to cut 2 of each on the pattern.  Then another set of the triangles for the horns, but I did not use felt for the horns.
You don't have to use felt, I chose it because it didn't fray.  But because I had the cheap felt, it pilled up after my son threw the pillow all around and played with it.  I'm going to try the premium felt for the next one and see if that's better.  You can use any fabric you want.  If you don't want it to fray and don't want to use felt, you can use that minky stuff or fleece too.

A 16" pillow form.

You will need 2 zippers, a regular zipper for the mouth, I had to buy an 18" one.  And a zipper for the pillow itself.  I used an 12-14" invisible zipper.  You can hand sew the pillow shut if you choose, but I find it easier to sew in a zipper.  Also you can take it off for cleaning and repairs to the pillow.

And you will need all the basic sewing stuff... machine, pins, thread, etc.

Now how to make the Monster Pillow...

So first step... Cut those pieces from the fabric for your pillow as I mentioned above.

Then cut out your pattern pieces, I did mine on card stock so I can use them several times.  I have 3 kids, so I figured I'd be making at least 3 of these.
Fold your felt in half so you can cut the 2 pieces you'll need at once.  Pin your pattern piece to it and cut out your eyes and teeth.

Next sew your mouth zipper to the bottom of the face, follow the directions that come with the zipper.  I had my fabric hanging off the zipper edge a little bit, about 1/8".
 Then I folded and ironed the edge under (don't make your iron too hot!  I had mine all the way up and melted my zipper a little), then I sewed the edge down to the zipper to prevent fraying.  You can zig-zag the end if you wish, for me this was easy and looks nice.
After I folded in down and sewed it to prevent fraying.
 Then I folded it over (open) and top stitched it down to the zipper.
 Here's the top stitch...
Remember I said I melted the zipper with the iron, see how it bows a little?  That's from melting it, but it still works.

Get your teeth pieces, pin them down and sew then on 2 sides to leave a pocket.  I made sure mine cover the green, so they sort of connected to the teeth of the zipper, but don't get too close so you can still open and close the zipper.

I decided to sew a little on the side where the pocket would be, I thought it would make it a little sturdier or something.  I sewed down 1.5" from the top and up an inch from the bottom.  I marked where I wanted to stop with my Mark-B-Gone pen, I love it!  You just get your mark wet and it disappears.  Don't forget to back stitch when you stop and start. 

Next pin and sew on your eye pieces.  You can sew them all together first if you'd like, but I didn't, I sewed each one on to the face, starting with the biggest circle.  I wanted my stitch to sort of be hidden, I'm not great at sewing circles, so I used a matching thread for each eye piece.

Almost done and looking good!

Next take your mouth piece fabric and iron a 1" fold at the top.  Line the fold up with the zipper as in the picture below...

Open up the mouth piece of fabric and line it up with the green to make sure the sides will be straight.    
Pin the zipper down, basically it will be like when you sewed the face piece to the zipper, you will have about 1/8" of an inch hanging over the edge of the zipper.  So I guess you really don't have to line up the fold, it just will be lined up anyway.
Since my zipper was bigger then the fabric this part was easy... open the zipper so the pull is out of the way and sew the fabric to the zipper.

With the face (green) piece I folded the edge under and sewed it down to prevent frayed or I said you could zig-zag stitch it.  You can do that here.  I did not, because I left the salvage end there knowing it won't be seen and it won't fray.

Then fold the edge where you previously ironed in a fold and top stitch it down.  This part may be tricky because you can't see the zipper, but you can use the left side as your guide on your sewing machine, so pay attention to where the left side (the fold) hits on your machine and use that for you guide.

Now your face is all sewn together.  Get your pocket piece, the 17" square... put both face (right side) up, with the face of the monster on top, line them up and sew them together, sew with just under a 1/2" seam allowance.  Sew all the way around, all 4 edges.
After I had lined mine up was when I trimmed the extra 1/2" off my mouth (the blue), remember I had cut it big knowing I may trim some off.  The zipper adds a of bit of length to your face.  It's always better to trim your edges when done then not have enough.
Look... you have a cute little pocket!  Almost done!  So exciting!!!

Make your horns... cut your horns out, sew 2 sides together with right sides facing, turn inside out, stuff, sew end shut.

I put mine 4 inches from the edges.  Turn them down, opposite of how they will look when done, line them up with the edge of the face and sew them down.  I go over them a couple of times to secure them good, knowing they will be pulled on and stuff.

Next get your zipper for the pillow and sew it on following the instructions it came with.  Or skip this step if you are hand sewing it shut.

After your zipper is sewn on, with right sides facing sew the remainder of the pillow together with a 1/2" seam, make sure to leave your zipper most of the way opened so you have a hole to turn our pillow right side out.  Again I went over where the horns are a few times, make sure your horns are tucked in when you sew the pillow together.
Clip your corners and zig-zag stitch all the way around to prevent fraying, especially if you put a zipper in which means it will opened.

Turn your pillow right side out, insert pillow form and zipper it shut... Ta-Da!!!  All done!!!  
So easy and cute!!!!

Happy sewing!!!

Here is the girl version I made for my daughter...
 I bought the premium felt for hers and it seems to not be pilling up like the cheaper felt did.  I also used the minky stuff for the colored part of the eyes and added a little yarn hair.

She Loves it!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Teacher's Valentine

This year for Valentine's Day we made the teachers some Rolo pretzels with M&M's on top (the recipe is all over Pinterest and on the back of the Rolo bag, just use M&M's in stead of the nut) and I made a sign that said "I Rolo-ver with excitement because you're my teacher!"
I put them in some re-usable containers.  Then after they are all eaten the teachers can use the container for whatever they want.

My printer was running out of ink, but I thought it looked neat so I just left it go.

I had the boys each sign the one for their teacher.

Here are the signs I made if you'd like to use them...

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Lego Cake and Brownies

Jayden wanted a green Lego cake.  I had seen this on Pinterest as well, along with the Lego brownies.  The Lego brownies only had icing on the top, but Dave wanted to coat the whole thing so it looked like Lego blocks.  I have a pan that makes a few square brownies that we used for the Lego brownies.  Then we cut them once to make the 1x3 and 2x3 blocks.  Whenever I cut brownies they get a huge mess!  So I figured using the pan that makes little squares and making one cut would be  a lot less messy.  I didn't want cut marks on the Lego cake stand so we put the brownies on that.  Oh, if you can't tell, we used M&M's on the brownies.  
And for the cake, I made a 9x13, cut off the rounded ends, maybe an inch from each end.  Then cut that piece in half and stacked it.  And for the top round pieces we used double stuffed Oreos.

Jayden wanted us to put some of his Lego guys on top of his cake so I grabbed a few and Dave put them on.  He sort of made the Lego guy's hold the candle's.
He was a happy boy with his cake!  He knew we were making a green Lego, but we didn't let him see it until it was time to blow out the candles.  Happy Birthday Jayden!!!!

Lego Cake Stand

I saw this Lego cake stand on Pinterest and Dave agreed to make it.  I thought Jayden would love it.
I had also bought a box of 600 Lego pieces at Walmart at Christmas time for $15.  I was there getting other things and just happen to see it.  JJ loves to make his own creations and I always wanted to buy a box of just bricks with a few windows, doors and wheels.  When I got home I looked on Amazon to see how much it cost and the same thing was $30 on Amazon.  I'm glad I happened to see it at Walmart and that I picked it up!  It's really cute.  Not only does it have all these Lego bricks, wheels and stuff, but it came with a book of instructions to build lots of different things!  You can build a a really cute shark, pirate ship, canon and I can't remember the rest.   Jayden loves it!
Here is the the cake stand Dave made and a couple action shots of him making it...

The picture on the left is the top view and on the right is the bottom view.

Special Birthday School Lunch

Jayden always packs a lunch so this worked out great, I saw this on Pinterest.  The night before his birthday I wrapped everything in his lunch!  I even put more things in then normal just so I'd have more stuff to wrap!  Dave and I also both wrote a special birthday note for his lunch box.  

After school I asked him about it and he said he just kept it closed.  He was said he was afraid others would keep asking him to see it and also he didn't want others to say "no fair."  He only showed a couple of his good friends.  And he didn't even open everything!!  When he came home his trash for what he did open was still in his lunch box (not normal) and half of it was still wrapped!  I guess he didn't want to throw away the wrapping paper of what he did open because he was afraid others would see it.  LOL!  He's so funny!  But I do believe he liked it and it made him feel a little special!

Anyway, it was fun to do and I'm glad he liked it, even if he didn't show everybody.  He's a cute kid!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Almond Oat Bran Sugar Free and Gluten Free Cookies

Almond Oat Bran Cookies

I found this recipe online over a year ago and when you're eating sugar free, it's not too bad!  It's one of the best sugar free and gluten free cookies I've tried!  I think they can be a tad bit dry, so I like them fresh, like within a couple hours of being made or frozen.  I let them thaw a few minutes then eat them when they are partially frozen.


1 Cup oat bran flour
1 Cup brown rice flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 Cup almond butter (my homemade recipe, click here for it)
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract (make sure there's no added sugar of any kind, like corn syrup)
4 full droppers of Stevia or adjust sweetness to taste
3/4 Cup unsweetened coconut milk

Optional Garnish

  • 1/4 Cup Almond Flour
  • a few pinches of sea salt
  • a sprinkle of Stevia powder

Preheat oven to 350 with the rack in the middle.  Prepare cookie sheet with parchment paper.  In a medium bowl mix together dry ingredients.  In another bowl mix together wet ingredients.  Combine wet and dry ingredients to form a batter.  Taste the batter and add more sweeter if desired (no egg, so okay to eat.)  Make cookie shapes with about 1 1/2 Tablespoons of batter per cookie.  Flatten with your hands and press almond meal into the tops.  Sprinkle on some salt.  Bake cookies for about 10-12 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown.  Let the cookies cool for a few minutes and then transfer to cooling racks.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...