Friday, October 24, 2014

Teal Pumpkin Project Trunk or Treat!

Easy DIY Apple Cider

Original Post: 10/27/11

Are you hosting some Halloween, Thanksgiving, or even Christmas gatherings and want to serve hot apple cider on the cheap? One gallon of apple cider can run about $5 and the spices to pour in are about another $5 per gallon.

I learned from looking up the Starbuck's Caramel Apple Cider recipe that Starbuck's uses this little trick:

Apple JUICE + Cinnamon Syrup = Good Apple Cider

And purchasing Cinnamon Syrup would have blown my frugal mission as well so I made my own.

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup water
Stir together the white sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small saucepan. Stir in vanilla extract and water. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring often. Continue to boil and stir until mixture thickens to syrup consistency. Remove from heat. Use about 1/4 cup of cinnamon syrup to 64 ounces of apple juice to get an apple cider flavor.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Easy Dairy-Free Caramel Popcorn Balls

Original Post:  10-30-13

As with me and any holiday, I tend to kick it in gear....oh....24 hours in advance.  Hence, today's experiment for caramel popcorn.  :)  I hope you still have time to make these for Halloween tomorrow, if you choose.  Actually, they are pretty quick to make.  So let's get started!

For an allergy-safe Halloween this year, we decided to try something new.  I organized a progressive fire pit dinner on our block.  One house will have hot dog roasting, one house will have smores, and our house will have hot "cheater" apple cider and popcorn.  I planned to just make bags of our yummy coconut oil popcorn, but like I about the 24-hour mark before a holiday....I get crazy in the kitchen.  Maybe I like the pressure of last-minute.  Who knows.  It's just the way I roll.  

So instead of settling for plain popcorn, I started playing around with a caramel sauce to coat the popcorn in.  Once I tossed the popcorn in the sauce, and after a few minutes of cooling, I realized the consistency was perfect for popcorn balls.  I don't know if popcorn balls are traditionally CARAMEL flavor, but let's just pretend, ok?  I killed two birds with one stone, caramel AND balls, why not?!  

What I love about these is that there is no corn syrup.  Yay, because I used all mine up on the caramel apples this week.  ;)  When I replace mine, I'm going to start buying it organic.

If you don't want to mess with making balls, you can just leave the popcorn loose, tossed in the caramel sauce and enjoy it that way.  

I love using our stove top popcorn recipe for this because if you do it correctly, including the 30 seconds off the heat, most all of the kernels will pop.  And that's good when you are making popcorn balls...less chance of biting into an allusive kernel!  

Anytime I can make a caramel treat with no corn syrup and without a candy thermometer, I consider that a "win"!  As for the taste, I found the remnants of popcorn and caramel completely irresistible as I crashed my low-carb diet for the day.  Darn!  


Makes about 12 baseball sized popcorn balls.

1/3 Cup Popcorn Kernels
3 Tbs Coconut Oil

1/3 Cup Brown Sugar
1/3 Cup Honey
1/2 tsp. Vanilla
Sea Salt 

Mix brown sugar and honey in a small sauce pan.  Heat over medium heat.  

While caramel mixture is heating, make a batch of our Coconut Oil Stove Top Popcorn.  

When caramel mixture is heated and mixed, take off heat and add vanilla.  

When popcorn is done popping, take off heat.  

Pour caramel mixture over popcorn and toss until all popcorn is coated.  Be sure to get all the caramel at the bottom of the pot.  

Sprinkle sea salt over caramel popcorn, tossing and salting it all.  

If not making popcorn balls, let cool enough to eat.  

If making balls, let cool enough for you to handle for making balls.  Work rather quickly as you make the popcorn balls as the balls stick better when the caramel is hot/warm. The popcorn will not stick as well after it's cooled.  

I stored each ball in a fold close baggie once cooled all the way and then put all the baggies of popcorn balls in an airtight container....ready for the neighbors tomorrow.  

Friday, October 17, 2014

Dairy-Free Iced Chocolate Coconut Milk

My nine-year-old, with the milk allergy, is such a bean pole.  He plays soccer, and it's when he's on the field that we notice how thin he really is (especially compared to the other kids).  Jeff is always telling me to fatten him up.

One good fat is coconut milk.  I'm talking canned coconut milk, full fat.

One can makes two different treats that we enjoy.

The solid part makes a nice dairy-free whipped cream or chocolate mousse.  With natural sweeteners and not too much, these are quite healthy treats!

Then with the liquid, watery part that is left over from taking the thick fat off the top...we make smoothies or iced drinks.  Strawberry is a fun fruit to blend with the coconut milk.  But we are biggest fans of anything chocolate.

So today we will share our easy chocolate coconut milk recipe.

Canned Coconut Milk (liquid part)
2-3 Ice Cubes
2 Tb Cocoa
1-2 Tb Honey (or sweetener of your choice)
Splash of Dairy-Free Milk (to thin out to your preference)

Blend first four ingredients.  Add milk to desired texture.

The measurements here may vary based on how much liquid coconut milk you get from your can.  You never know how much fat and liquid you will get from a can so do note that this recipe is flexible to your preferences on taste and texture.  ;)

This is so easy, though, that the kids can make it.  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Dairy-Free Halloween

Repost from 10-31-11

Tonight is Halloween. And I think I have a great and fun plan for the boys. I just received a comment from a mom dreading tonight so I thought I would post now to encourage you.

Since the boys now have great friends in our new neighborhood, we are having an Open House type thing where friends and parents can stop in for some homemade, allergy-safe treats. I have a feeling Miles will enjoy seeing his friends more than getting candy.

We will trick-or-treat in the neighborhood for just an hour or so. I've already told Miles (and Graham) that they won't get to have much of the candy because of Miles's milk allergy. Instead, they can purchase a toy at the store this week. I can already predict that $10 sets of Legos will make them sufficiently happy about trading in their candy.

In the last bit of the evening, we will drive out to Grandma's and cousins' houses where family has allergy safe treats awaiting. At first we weren't sure about this extra leg of the evening, but it's a way for Miles to trick-or-treat for something edible that he can enjoy. :)

I also have on hand some Enjoy Life chocolate bars, Smarties, Skittles, and Starbursts to hold Miles over these first few hours. Oh, and Glee Gum, we love that stuff! :)

So here are some ideas from our allergy-safe Open House tonight:

Dairy-Free veggie & burger soup in the crockpot to make my life easy. Any parents will be welcome to have a bowl. I will make finger PBJ sandwiches for the kids. If you can't do peanut butter, I've never had an allergy-free friend turn down Sunbutter!

Dairy-free soup crackers:

Dairy-free chips especially for the kids, to go with their PBJ's. I will also have out apple slices, but haven't cut them yet. ;)

Easy Apple Cider that I posted about recently. We'll have a pot of hot apple juice going probably more for the parents. I may let the parents add caramel syrup (NOT dairy-free) and whip cream (NOT dairy-free) because it tastes just like Starbucks Caramel Apple Ciders. I trust the few parents won't contaminate anything with their special drinks. The kids can add cinnamon syrup to cold apple juice. At least that's what my own boys prefer.

I am making my mmmmm so good dairy-free pan smores. Nobody will ever guess these are dairy-free!

And the moms especially enjoy these Weight Watcher inspired cookies. They are dairy-free with mini Enjoy Life chocolate chips. I mixed 15 oz pumpkin, 1 box Duncan Hines spice cake powder, 1 cup of water, and chocolate chips. That's it!

So not to be a totally lame Trick-Or-Treat stop, I put together very small treat bags for the kids to take with them. Yes, there are chocolate candy bars that Miles can't have. So they are closed up in cellophane, and I will give them out as the kids are leaving. Miles knows these aren't safe, and he is fine with me giving them out to his buddies.

I picked up these cups at the dollar store, 4/$1, to write the kids' names on to take home too. I always like a useful, non-food idea!

I think that's about it. I hope I'm not too late in giving you some ideas. Other things we have enjoyed doing on Halloween night (after about an hour of trick-or-treating and then confiscating the candy) are:

Watch a friendly show
Carve pumpkins
Paint pumpkins
Roast pumpkin seeds
Make apple cups & drink cider
Make popcorn
Make caramel and dip apples
Make apple crisp

You may enjoy a former post I wrote with even more ideas. Have a safe and fun night, friends!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Dairy Free Chicken or Turkey Noodle Soup

Original Post:  12-16-10

This is actually a picture of Turkey Soup.  And um...I didn't put noodles in this serving.  Ooops!

But I do make noodles on the side for the boys to add.  Some of their favorites are alphabet noodles or macaroni noodles.

I've tried some fancy, thick hearty chicken noodle soups, but tonight I went back to the basics and the whole family jumped in.

The very best way to make a yummy chicken or turkey soup is to make your own broth!  That's half the goodness right there!  We roast a big bird, eat it hot off the bones, and then use the carcass for broth and the leftover meat for things like...SOUP!

We are really good at buying a whole chicken each week.  But for the first time, this Thanksgiving season, I stocked up on a few turkeys to do the same process with....bake, eat, broth, leftovers.

Tonight I made Turkey Noodle Soup!  And again, once I had the broth in place and the leftover turkey, it was really just a matter of heating it all up with a few simple spices.  When I don't thicken with flour or cornstarch, leftovers are killer too!

2 cups broth
1-2 cups leftover chicken or turkey
1 large carrot diced
1 celery stalk diced
1/4 cup onion diced
salt to taste
pepper to taste
dash of thyme
dash of basil
dash of rosemary

red pepper flakes (optional)
noodles of choice (optional)

Serves 4

Is it ok if I just say I throw all of the ingredients into a pot (except noodles) and cook until the veggies are tender?  If you want the flavors to meld well, let it simmer for about at least an hour.  Feel free to use the crock pot, too.

Always add noodles at the end.  Cook them separately and add to the soup as you serve it...otherwise they will get smooshy cooking in the soup.

Jeff wants me to note that adding hot pepper flakes is his favorite way to eat this soup.  ;)

Do you have a more scientific chicken noodle soup recipe or do you just throw it together like me?  :)

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Allergy-Free Halloween Candy

Sample Logo

Our friends at Natural Candy Store have some fantastic allergy-free Halloween candies to offer this year!  Check out some of the goodies below and head over to place your order right away.  The deadline is approaching!  

All candies from Natural Candy Store are free of artificial flavors, artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and hydrogenated oils.  What a great company to give us all these candies in one easy place!

Dairy-free chocolate.  Vanilla bean lollipops.  Maple syrup candies.  Fruit juice gummies.    

Completely awesome!

If Starbursts, Skittles, and Mambas are getting old at your house, Natural Candy Store's offerings definitely add some new choices!  These are some of my favorite milk-free items:

Absolutely NO artificial colors or dyes, NO artificial flavors, NO artificial sweeteners, NO preservatives, NO hydrogenated oil

Friday, October 3, 2014

Dairy-Free & Egg-Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Original Post:  10-31-10

These are a wonderful allergy-friendly treat that everyone will enjoy!  :)  They are a fall favorite around here.  I have tweaked the recipe a few times to get it a little healthier.  I hope you don't mind.

The last time I made these I did a whole can of pumpkin instead of just one cup, ooooops!  Remember, one can can make TWO batches.  ;)

Again, in this recipe, I tried to lessen and healthify the sweeteners.  So I opted for 1/4 cup maple syrup...I would love to do more but I'm stingy with my maple syrup.  For the other part of the sweetener, I did 1/4 cup sugar or brown sugar would work.  Anywhere from 1/2 to 3/4 cup total sweetener will work, depending on the degree of your sweet tooth.  :)  We are happy with the 1/2 cup total sweetener.  Next time I may do 1/4 cup syrup, 1/8 sugar, and 1/8 cup stevia.


Makes 12 Muffins

Oven 350 degrees.

3/4 cup white four
3/4 cup wheat flour
1/4 - 1/2 cup sugar and/or stevia
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice mix
1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup Silk almond milk original 
1/4 cup liquid coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup pumpkin puree (I have used sweet potato puree)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 - 1 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips 

Combine together the flour, sugar/stevia, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and salt.

In a separate bowl, combine the maple syrup, milk, vegetable oil, pumpkin puree, and vanilla extract until smooth.

Add the dry ingredients to the large bowl with the wet ingredients. Mix together until combined.

Fold in the chocolate chips.

Sprinkle tops with raw sugar before baking.

Spoon the batter into the muffin pan and bake for about 20 minutes, or until they spring back to the touch.

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