Homemade | Freezer Waffles

We’re not much of a prepped foods family, but one thing I’ve picked up from time to time is gluten-free freezer waffles. As time marched on, Nolan developed an addiction. Honestly, who can blame the kid? Those things are awesome. Quick, convenient, carby and sweet with that maple syrup goodness on top…nom nom nom. But when the experiment started I knew they had to go. Besides, even when they’re on sale, they’re $2.50 per box! After finding the pancake recipe I was bolstered into trying it in the waffle iron.

After the pancake post, this is probably pretty straightforward. I use either the same recipe as I use for pancakes or this recipe, make a big ol batch, wait for them to cool, wrap them with parchment in between, and pop them in the freezer to wait for when we need them/want them/must have them right this minute.

Now, a couple notes about either of those versions:
1) I don’t have a hardcore blender like the one recommended for the Live Simply waffle recipe and nearly burnt out my blender the first time I tried to make the entire recipe in mine. So until I can save up enough to get myself something bigger and better, I blend the oats and milk and stuff really well, leave it to soak, and later combine the other ingredients in a large bowl then whisk in the mixture from the blender. Just mash the banana really well and this works out just fine.
2) GREASE YOUR WAFFLE IRON! Super well! I use softened butter spread on the iron with a silicone basting brush. Easy to use, easy to clean up, and totally effective.
3) Things turn out better if you cook the waffles for more time rather than less.
4) They do not turn out crispy at first, and don’t crisp up quite as much as store-bought versions when toasted, at least in our experience.
5) If you don’t wrap them with parchment/something else in between, they WILL stick together and be an absolute bear to pull apart. Just trust me, you don’t want to travel that road. I did it for you. Accept that gift.

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Homemade | Granola

About a year and a half ago I showed up to meet my darling new friend for a walk. We knew each other by sight and had spoken a few times before, but we really became friends when I was in labor with Nolan. I went into our midwife’s office, she was there for an appointment (due about a month after me) and recognised me, and wrote me a sweet Facebook message wishing us well with the labor and new little one. Before I knew it, I had another best friend! This girl has blessed me immeasurably over the past couple of years, and I’m so thankful for the gift she’s been.

On this particular morning, when we met for a walk, she sweetly shoved a half-full gallon-size baggie of something in my hand. She’s a giver, just little stuff, all the time, and always super thoughtful and generous. It was her granola, and it was one of the very first gifts she ever gave me.

Guys, of all the gifts that keep on giving, this is seriously a biggie. One handful out of that bag and I was completely hooked on the lightly sweet, nutty GREATNESS I was noshing. I boldly asked for the recipe, sure it was a deep family secret but willing to risk the ask anyway. Just like she does with everything else, she generously, selflessly gave me the recipe. It’s gained a permanent place in my weekly cooking/prep day because when we run out, it’s really bad news.

She’s always downplaying her “domestic skills” and seriously every time she does I want to take her by the shoulders, look her straight in the eye, and say, “Your granola changed my life. Hush.”

Also great when taking dinner to new mamas, along with a quart of yogurt and some fruit!

This, my dear readers (all three of you), is Andrea Springer’s granola recipe, shared with her permission.

Preheat oven to 300F. Prepare two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Put four cups of rolled oats in a big ol’ bowl.

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Add 1 cup each slivered or sliced almonds, chopped pecans, and chopped walnuts, ½ c. unsweetened coconut flakes (or more…you know…if you mismeasure or something…), and ¼ c. flax or chia seeds.

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Mix well.

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Add 1 t. salt and 1 ½ t. cinnamon. Again, mix well.

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Combine following ingredients: ½ c. coconut oil, ½ c. maple syrup, 1 t. vanilla.

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Add liquids to dry mixture, and mix thoroughly.

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Divide oats mixture evenly between the two prepared cookie sheets, spreading as evenly as possible.

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Bake 20 minutes, then rotate the pans and bake another 20 minutes until toasty and maybe a little golden, if that’s your jam. After you remove the granola from the oven add ½ c. raisins. (I condensed pans in the midst of other cooking, so this is both pans on one sheet.)

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Cool completely, then store. I like to store it in jars  🙂  How cute is that?

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Go. Make granola. Be happy and live a fruitful life.

Andi’s Granola

Ingredients:

  • 4 c. rolled oats
  • 1 c. sliced or slivered almonds
  • 1 c. chopped pecans
  • 1 c. chopped walnuts
  • ½ c. unsweetened coconut flakes
  • ¼ c. flax or chia seeds (or a combination)
  • 1 ½ t. ground cinnamon
  • 1 t. salt
  • ½ c. coconut oil, in liquid form
  • ½ c. maple syrup
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • ½ c. raisins

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300F. Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Combine oats, nuts, coconut, seeds, cinnamon, and salt in a large mixing bowl, mixing well.
  3. Combine oil, syrup, and vanilla, and add to oats mixture. Mix well.
  4. Divide mixture between the two prepared baking sheets, and spread evenly. Bake for 20 minutes, then rotate the pans and bake another 20 minutes, or until as toasty as desired.
  5. Remove from oven and scatter raisins across warm granola. Cool completely, and store in airtight containers.

Homemade | Chicken Broth / No Waste | Veg Scraps

Chicken broth is a staple. I use it at least four times a week for different recipes, and I’m shamelessly guilty of drinking a mug of it for lunch from time to time. But at somewhere between $1.99 and $2.99/quart, that can add up.

This is a fantastic way to cut down on waste and get as much for your money as you can. Pretty much all I use in our broth is scraps: a picked-clean chicken carcass, vegetable ends/peels/pieces that I’ve collected while cooking through the week, and some seasonings.

With the growing popularity of bone broth, there are plenty of recipes and differing instructions out there. One thing you should know: you can’t really mess this up. Add whatever spices/flavorings you want or have on hand. Cook it for six hours or two days. As long as you actually get some bones in there and turn on the pot, the rest of the process is incredibly forgiving.

Having a cache of fresh chicken broth that I can dip into throughout the week is so nice! The numerous health benefits, the awesome taste, and the free price tag make it a no-brainer for us.

Do you make bone broth? What’s your favourite spice combination to add? Do you add salt? Share below!

No Waste | Almond Pulp

So now you’ve tried making your own almond milk, you got your almonds at Costco or Trader Joe’s so your price breaks about even with the store-bought brands, and your LIFE HAS BEEN CHANGED.

But you’re making an awful lot of waste with that almond pulp that’s left over because you’re not into drinking something that feels like tasteless dirt in your mouth. That’s fair, really it is. But in this Homemade/No Waste experiment, we’re not throwing stuff out until it’s worthless and has zero other uses, right?

Here, dear friends, you have a surprising number of options, and they’re all super duper health conscious and crunchy. You do have to make a series of decisions though…so if you’re no good with that, gear yourself up. Here we go.

OPTION 1: Use the “wet” almond pulp right after making almond milk, or store in an airtight container for up to three days until you’re ready to use it. After three days, it’ll store well in the freezer for up to three months.

Uses: 1) Use in smoothies the same way you would use almond or peanut butter for protein.
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2) Add into oatmeal or yogurt, the same way you might use ground flax or chia seeds, for some added fat and protein.

3) Make these crackers. I added more salt (partly because I have an addiction), and caution you to either not roll them too thinly or to keep a close eye on them during that second toasting so they don’t get that slightly burnt flavor that’s all-too-easy to bake into them. They do have a dry texture, so try them alongside some cheese or soup.

4) Make almond pulp hummus to eat with your crackers  🙂

5) Make these brownies.

6) Make these macaroons.

These are just the ones I’ve tried. Google has many more ideas!

OPTION 2: Set your oven to 200, spread the almond pulp onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, and toast, tossing occasionally, for about three hours or until dry. Cool completely. If clumpy or otherwise deemed necessary, pulse in food processor until…not clumpy.

Uses: Anything you’d use almond meal or flour for, because that’s what you just made! (If you typically purchase ready-made almond meal or flour, this counts as a Homemade concept as well.)
1) Sub for ¼ to ½ the wheat flour in baked goods recipes.
2) Mix with cold butter and some brown sugar, sprinkle over fresh fruit, and bake at 375 for about 30 minutes or until bubbly. Yummy fruit crisp!
3) Make THESE biscuits.

Any great uses for almond pulp in your kitchen? Do share!

Homemade | Almond Milk

In an effort to heal some health stuff that I’ve had going on, I’ve dropped dairy like a bad habit. Okay, that’s not true at all. But I’ve cut back on anything that’s not cultured (at our house we really believe in the goodness that is some great bacteria, so yogurt and kefir are welcome anytime! Also, butter. Because butter. But usually grass-fed, and I’m on a quest to make my own). I got more into almond milk a couple years after Nolan was born and I was trying to help my spitty boy. We’ve had it in the fridge off-and-on since then, and I’ve really come to enjoy it.

There are plenty of links and recipes out there that explain how to make almond milk, so I’m sure it’s hardly news that it’s a possibility. Part of the beauty of making things at home is how much less expensively you can usually do it yourself. As far as cost goes, the cheapest I can get half a gallon of almond milk for is $3.69. Now, nuts are expensive. At the cheapest I’ve found almonds, half a gallon comes out to $3.74. Paying $0.05 more and doing all the legwork yourself may not be worth it to everyone, but the fresh, super creamy taste of homemade almond milk, as well as the lack of filler ingredients makes it so worth it to me! And seriously, making two batches of almond milk (to come out to half a gallon) takes about ten minutes of time. It’s easy and quick.

I really like the recipe for almond milk found here. It’s an adorable blog with a knowledgeable author, tons of fun to comb through! I alter the recipe a bit by not adding vanilla (usually) and occasionally taking her suggestion to sweeten it with maple syrup rather than dates. And I usually forget the salt at the beginning…whoops!

Also, I’ve found regular raw almonds, rather than blanched, to be far more cost-effective than purchasing blanched. And I’ve found peeling the almonds once they’re soaked to actually be a lot of fun! I pinch/squeeze the narrow end and pop the almond out of the skin fat-side-first. Like a baby out of his mama.

Too far?

I purchased an inexpensive nut bag, but wasn’t impressed with the pulp that was left in the bottom of my bowl or mug after using that batch of milk. It was like drinking flavourless dirt. So I resorted to using a dish cloth, and was much happier with the result. If you just use a tea towel or something equally smooth, the pulp should rinse off easily (my primary concern with using a towel). My mom more recently gave me another nut bag that’s fabulous! We use this one. Recommendation: don’t super cheap-out on the nut bag. The good ones don’t cost that much more and you’ll actually use it.

Now that I’m not drinking milk at all, I’m using almond milk on my granola, in smoothies, and in my near-daily chai tea fixes, and I’m never going back to store-bought after the goodness that developed in my kitchen while making that recipe!

Stay tuned for ideas on what to do with the almond pulp/meal that you’re left with after making the milk!

Homemade | Pancake Mix

Last year I was tired of Kyle getting up and running off to work on the house before we’d even gotten a chance to see him after the long week, so I instituted a new family tradition: Saturday Morning Breakfasts. But we’re not morning people…how in the world was I going to pull myself out of bed and make breakfast every Saturday morning?

Insert: stubbornness and pancakes. Everyone loves pancakes. Pancakes are enticing. Pancakes are yummy. Pancakes know no age, like eggs benedict or some such goodness. Pancakes are a crowd-pleaser. Pancakes are easy to double in case of company. Pancakes are available at breakfast joints if we’re ever out of town and want to keep up the tradition. Pancakes are easily portable and can be made over a campfire if needed. Pancakes can be customized/altered to fit the season. Pancakes!

Pancakes also require measuring and mixing, probably pre-tea.

Insert: pancake mix.

Now, just as a note this is not my modus operandi. My mom is Tammy Circeo. I don’t buy/use mixes. But there was a gluten-free mix that came highly recommended, and then I just started trying different [read: cheaper] ones. We settled on one that we like best, and that was that, despite the twinge of shame I felt as I pulled it out each week.

Then my Homemade experiment started. One of the most obvious offenders is my pancake mix. How was I going to replace it? Gluten-free baking is hard, man!

After my first forays into gluten-free baking when I was diagnosed with a wheat allergy/gluten sensitivity at age eighteen, I’ve been gun shy. After nine months of not baking at all (which was a bfd for me), I got up the courage to try. Try I did, I tried and tried. I was optimistic and full of hope, things were tasting better and better to me as I went along, but the reviews from others were not quite as enthusiastic or hopeful as mine. The texture was different and foreign, the taste was off and didn’t make anybody want seconds, and I grew discouraged until finding that I could tolerate spelt flour quite well as long as I didn’t eat my weight in baked goods everyday (which, let’s be honest, is probably not advisable anyway). Spelt is a low-gluten grain, but for my day-to-day, it was a perfect solution. Those early days in my mom’s kitchen did not go well.

Fast forward seven years, and more recently I’ve been trying to cut down on my gluten intake (similarly to how I’ve cut down on dairy) for health reasons. Gotta get my body healed up! Truth be told, it’s less that I’ve been trying to cut down on gluten and more just hoping that it’d magically disappear from my kitchen and my life with little to no effort from me. Which is not really a thing. So I grew my courage again and have looked for some better recipes than were available in the beginning of my GF experimenting days.

Insert: Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free. I’ve had this book for quite a while now (had picked it up years ago in a moment of severe weakness, desperately enticed by the looks-good-enough-to-eat cover), but hadn’t tried anything from it until last Christmas when I decided that I needed to take gluten-free cookies to a party (Why? Why do I do these things?). Both varieties I made were a hit!

Then it was on to the biscuits. If I couldn’t make a decent gluten-free biscuit, life was going to be much much more difficult and discouraging in general. But when I made them, my husband didn’t even know they were gluten-free. Boom…aced biscuits.

Then the pancakes. Guys. She calls them Sunday Morning Pancakes in the book, and she’s Texan, so she knows that giving something a name like that has meaning. It’s not taken lightly. These pancakes aren’t supposed to be just any old pancakes, they are SUNDAY MORNING PANCAKES. The girl means business.

We had doubts. We were skeptical. Anything with almond anything makes me wonder.

One bite and all doubts flew away. These things were really really good. All it took was one gluten-free recipe and we could change how we did Saturday mornings.

Now that I’ve got it all built up, I’ve got to say that out of respect for the author, I’m not going to post the recipe. I know I know, I’m so sorry. But writing a cookbook is hard, and it just wouldn’t be okay for me to put a recipe out there that she hasn’t yet. So go buy the cookbook. It’s worth it for the pancakes and the biscuits alone!

Usually I have a price breakdown on here for y’all, to prove to/remind myself later of how much I’m saving by putting in just a little extra work and time. This time I have less of that, but I can say that for fifteen extra minutes a month, knowing that we’re not eating powdered milk is nice.

Here’s my set up.

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I will say, I alter her recipe just a smidge by doubling the baking powder. Kyle grew up with pancakes quite literally made from a muffin recipe, so he likes them fluffy. He actually would prefer if each one would look more like a top hat, but I tell him that if he wants muffins I’ll make him muffins. These are pancakes.

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Saturday mornings all I have to do is toss the mix in a bowl with two eggs, a cup of buttermilk, and two tablespoons of melted butter. “Mix mix mix,” Nolan says  🙂

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Et voila. Petit déjeuner pour trois.

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Thanks for reading this novel of a post. Congratulations for making it to the bottom! Do you have a great gluten-free pancake recipe? Or maybe it’s not gluten-free but it’s killer? Do share!

Homemade | Yogurt

I can’t say enough good things about yogurt. It’s creamy and yummy and tangy and versatile, and the bacteria is so good for your belly and helps to keep so many things in check, and the healthy fat in whole-fat yogurt is excellent for like a zillion things. Fill your body with that and you won’t even want the cookies! Okay, that’s a lie. But you’ll probably want them a little bit less.

With such a love for yogurt, you can bet we’ve always had plenty at our house. Always plain, organic, whole-milk yogurt. I stopped caring whether it was Greek style or not. But even stripped down to the bare bones of it all, that creamy, tangy goodness is $5/quart! I winced every time I put it in my cart.

But then Christmas came, and oh my friends, you should have seen my face when I opened that box from my mom and there she was…

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This little beauty has revolutionised my kitchen AND my grocery shopping. That sounds so dramatic, but I’m not even kidding. I make over a quart of yogurt for $1.45. Again: not even kidding.

This is my process. It’s literally all I do to save $3.50/week. Which is $182/year. Guys, I can DO SOMETHING with $182/year.

First, heat the milk.

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Different instructions will give you different temperatures to heat the milk to. All the ones I found said at least 180. I followed the instructions that came with the yogurt maker SUPER STEADFASTLY the first time I made it (Guys, I got up in the middle of the night in order to turn off the yogurt maker and put the yogurt in the fridge. That right there…that’s dedication.) and it turned out a bit too runny. Runny’s fine. Too runny is not fine. The next time I made it, I lost track of the milk while it was heating and it got a little foamy and was pulling up the sides of the pot (so…basically…it was boiling…), and my yogurt turned out so much better. So now I don’t check the temperature while it’s heating, I just wait till it’s kinda foamy, then turn off the heat and let it cool down to 95 degrees.

THAT’S THE TEMPERATURE YOU NEED TO PAY ATTENTION TO! PAY ATTENTION TO THAT TEMPERATURE!

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It should be 95 degrees. Seriously.

And it might look like this.

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Don’t worry, totally normal. Just toss that part, no big.

Then add a 6-oz. container of plain store-bought yogurt and mix it in really well. Once you have yogurt that you’ve already made, you can add a container of those instead of store-bought yogurt. Which is awesome.

Now pour it into your lovely little yogurt containers that are cute as can be.

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Try to divide it up as evenly as possible, and don’t sweat it too much if you spill some.

Transfer them carefully to your yogurt maker, put on the lid, and turn on the yogurt maker.

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Yes, so that last part: do not forget to turn on your yogurt maker. It keeps the temperature of your jars just right so the little bit of yogurt you mixed into the PERFECTLY TEMPERATURED milk can turn into a lot of yogurt for you to gobble up. And try not to move or jostle the yogurt maker while it’s culturing. Culturing’s a delicate art. Respect the art.

According to the instructions that came with my yogurt maker, my whole milk yogurt should be in the maker for eight hours. I left it longer one time because we were away from the house, and I actually liked the consistency better. So now I leave it in there for roughly nine hours or so. All that to say, you can’t really mess this part up as long as you let it sit long enough. There’s a big window between “long enough” and “too long.”

When your yogurt is done to your liking, turn off the machine, put the dandy little lids on the jars, and put them in the fridge for at least three hours. They’ll firm up a bit more and be all tasty when you go to eat them. It’ll look something like this. Sometimes mine looks a little more watery on top…don’t pour that out. It’s whey and it’s good for you.IMG_5559

 

When you’re ready to eat the goods, I recommend mixing in some peach jam or compote, and maybe some granola. Or just mix in leftover peach crisp.

I’m on a peach kick, okay? And they were all organic and home-canned last summer, so stop judging my need for peaches in February…leave me alone, man…

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So we just established that this process takes a while. The milk has to heat, then cool, then go in a cooker for at least eight hours. That’s a minimum of a nine hour job.

So here’s my tip. Start it first thing in the morning. Your yogurt will be ready around dinnertime and you can pop it in the fridge while you’re already doing other dinner clean up, and it’ll be ready for the next morning.

Don’t do what I did the first time and start making yogurt at 4pm. Unless you’re regularly up at 2am, it’s less fun that way.

So go get yourself a yogurt maker, or dust yours off, and make. this. happen.

2016: Homemade/No Waste

Being pregnant the second time around has opened my eyes to how much I’ve learned in the past couple of years about renovations, health and wellness, cooking, and you know, life. I’m only 25, so I guess I should be aware of how much I have to learn and that two years is a decent chunk of my life.

Something that’s been on my mind as a matter of curiosity has been where our food specifically comes from and how we can be as aware as possible of that. Learning some of that is obvious, like with produce. Last year we were part of a six-month long local produce CSA that only offers things grown within a two-hour drive of our home, and it was so wonderful! We ate a bunch of stuff we otherwise wouldn’t have, and it was delicious. We’ll be part of the vegetable CSA again this year, but were kinda overloaded with fruit so we’ll wait on that part until the kids are big enough to help out more on the eating front.

But what about other things? We cook from scratch a LOT at our house, but what about the little convenience things I buy for us? I’m curious. So I’m going to take as many of those convenience foods I buy and find out how to make them at home, and in the process I hope to learn more about where my raw ingredients come from. At the same time, I hope to learn how much of the food waste I make can be turned into something else, and turn my kitchen into a waste-as-little-as-possible zone.

If you’ve visited my blog more than once, you know I’m a terrible blogger. So inconsistent. I’m awful. But as a rough goal, I’d like to figure out something new once a week, so I’ll likely be posting on this topic about that frequently (mostly as a way to keep track of it myself in the future), at least until the baby comes in May. Or until we move. Or until something else comes in between me and the blog. Which will probably come next Tuesday or something, and likely in the form of an overflowing laundry basket. But until then, I’ll document what I’m learning on here each Wednesday. Wish me luck, and thanks for following!