A Challenging Fall

I’ve been absent from my blog for two months but it hasn’t been absent from my mind.  At Halloween I wanted to share the idea I saw online of having food-free options in your treat bowl. Before Thanksgiving I wanted to share the dairy free menu I made for Colin.  But I was a bit overwhelmed and I didn’t make it to the computer.  Since my last post, I’ve had the most challenging weeks in my life since Colin was little and we were in the throes of colic, elimination diets and finding him diagnosis.

In the last two months we had two deaths in our family and some concerning medical issues arise in an immediate family member.   Stressors like this have their way of spiraling outward, throwing our family off of center and affecting other parts of our life.  I often felt like I was failing as a mother and captain of the ship, but some good people in my life helped me to see that it was the rough waters and not my lack of steering that were causing these other problems and to give it some time.  They were right and things are improving all around.   Our hearts are healing and doctors say the scary medical stuff has been ruled out, that the medical issues will be manageable.  I pray that we are on the other side of this rough patch and that we can fall into the easy peace of normal day-to-day routines again after the holidays.

So onto the holidays.  I wanted to share two of my favorite cookie recipes I am making again this year that are dairy and soy free.  Hopefully they will bring you or someone in your life joy this season!

1.  Puffy Sugared Cookies – I make them in holiday colors and let the kids do the colored sugar.  A great family activity!

2.  Pecan Cookies – my husband’s favorite dairy free cookie I make.  I often make a half batch of these since it makes quite a few! I find I like to use a variety of butter substitutes so I don’t taste just one in my cookie but if you can’t find these ones, try Spectrum shortening or a variation of things you can find/can eat!

 

Pecan Cookies

adapted from original on AllRecipes

Ingredients

1/2 cup Earth Balance Soy Free Spread

1/2 cup Earth Balance Coconut Spread

1 cup canola oil

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup confectioners sugar, sifted

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups chopped pecans

1/2 cup white sugar for decorating

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Cream together the Soy Free Spread, Coconut Spread, oil, 1/2 cup white sugar, brown sugar and confectioner’s sugar until smooth.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Stir in the vanilla.  Combine the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt. Stir dry ingredients into the creamed mixture.  Mix in the pecans.  Roll dough into 1 inch balls and roll ball into remaining 1/2 cup white sugar. Place cookies 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.  Flatten dough balls slightly with your finger.   Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges are golden.

 

From our family to yours- Have a Happy New Year!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies – Dairy/Soy/Wheat Free

photo

It is hard for me to resist these little beauties.  Really hard.  They are so so good I have to put them out of sight or else I find an excuse to grab another one.  It seems I can have a little bit of dairy free chocolate in my diet, just a little, so I have to practice some major self-control when I go into the kitchen.  When I eat these cookies I don’t find myself thinking about what they are missing (butter) like I do with a lot of non-dairy sweets.  I do find myself delighted that something so delicious is so healthy, for a dessert item.  Although they are not a health food, these cookies aren’t full of fat, processed sugar or white flour.

And I’m not the only one who likes them.  These cookies even passed the “Non-Dieter” test.  I pulled out my Tupperware container full of these cookies at our Mothers Day BBQ.  The cookies were a hit and I got several requests for the recipe.  That says a lot people!  It is hard to pull off a good butter-free-chocolate-chip-cookie-like food but this one does it.

I found the basic recipe for this cookie when looking through a collection of Paleo diet recipes.  If you haven’t heard of the Paleo diet, it is also known as the caveman diet.  I’ve just recently learned of it and from what I understand, people on this diet try to eat as a caveman would, eating fruits, vegetables, meats and avoiding processed sugar, all grains, dairy and soy.  Almond flour is used in place of regular white flour in baked goods.  I’m not trying to follow a Paleo diet, just happen to almost be on it anyway with the food limitations we have, but finding a large collection of new dairy/soy free recipes has been great.

While perusing some Paleo recipes, I found a recipe for almond butter cookies in an article on “How to Have a Paleo Cheat Day.”  (There are a few other good looking recipes I haven’t tried yet.)  I didn’t have almond butter but I had some natural peanut butter and so I made them as Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies.   So if you can’t use peanut butter,  try using  almond butter.

PS- Usually I’m a batter person.  I taste batters to check the flavors and I like the batters for cookies/cake more than the end result.  This was the total opposite.  I really didn’t like the batter at all.  While the first batch cooked I was betting I would have to throw the whole experiment away.  So glad I didn’t!!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

2 cups Almond Flour

1/2 cup peanut butter – I used a natural peanut butter that was a bit chunky or use almond butter if you don’t do peanuts

2 eggs

1/4 cup honey

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 tsp salt – If your peanut butter has no salt in it I would bump this up to 3/4 tsp.

2 cups Enjoy Life brand chocolate chips or other dairy/soy free chocolate chips

Directions

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.  Scoop out tablespoons of dough and roll into balls.  Place on a cookie sheet and bake 8-12 min at 375 degrees F.

Puffy Sugared Cookies

It was really tough this summer to get to the computer.  Now that Hannah is back in preschool, I have a little more time to get pictures off of my camera and get back to my recipe blogging.  My “free” mornings aren’t all that free since I’m chasing Colin around, but when he naps I can get a few minutes of work done.

The recipe I’m sharing today is the go-to cookie in my house when I want to make a cookie I can eat. I probably make these once a month since everyone in the house likes them.  They are dairy and soy free without needing any expensive butter substitutes.  The recipe is Betty Crocker’s Stir-and-Drop Sugar Cookies.  I’ve named my post “Puffy Sugared Cookies” to give you an idea of the texture of these cookies.  Although Betty Crocker calls them sugar cookies, they aren’t the dense flat ones you put frosting on.  When I make them they come out lighter, puffy and rounded on top.  The cookie itself isnt’ very sweet, it’s the sugar pressed into the top that really makes the cookie. (So don’t skip that step!)

I’ve used regular granulated sugar to decorate the cookies, coloring it first with a drop of food coloring (see below), and I’ve also used sanding sugar, which is a slightly coarser sugar.   In the picture above the yellow cookie is has regular sugar on it and the pink cookie has the decorating sugar.  Although both tasted great, I prefer the look and crunch of the coarser sugar.

Puffy Sugared Cookies

Ingredients

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2/3 cup neutral tasting oil, like canola oil

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

2 cups all-purpose flour

Additional sugar for tops of cookies- I like coarse sugar- the colored types meant for decorating

Directions

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar and oil.  Then add the baking powder, vanilla, salt, eggs, and flour, mixing between each addition.  The batter will be runny/gooey compared to most cookie batters.

Drop teaspoons of batter onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  I find a disher is very helpful.

Pour the sanding sugar/colored sugar you want to use onto a small plate.  Press a glass very lightly onto a cookie to grease the bottom of the glass, then press into the colored sugar.  Place the glass on the cookie again to deposit the sugar on the top of the cookie.  You don’t need to flatten the cookie, you are just pressing enough to sugar the top.  If the sugar is not sticking to the glass, try wetting the bottom of the glass very slightly with water.  Repeat the sugaring process for all of the cookies.  Bake the cookies 8-10 minutes and enjoy!

* To make your own colored sugar, place a few tablespoons of granulated sugar in a small bowl.  Add one drop of food coloring.  Stir with a spoon.  At first the coloring will ball up and it will look like it won’t combine but keep stirring and mashing the food coloring with the back of the spoon. In a few minutes you will have uniformly colored sugar.