Sunday, December 30, 2012

Organic "Junk Food"

Just cause it's organic does not make it clean. Just cause it's organic, does not mean I want to put it in my body. Case in point:

Eat This, Not That   Check this out!! So Kraft Organic is not so great.

I bought a box or Nature's Promise Organic and Annie's Mac n Cheese to do some comparisons, before I read the above article. 

Just reminder to everyone that we cannot trust the gotta read the ingredient lists!


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The 12 Treats of Christmas Song

"On the twelfth day of Christmas, the treats lovingly baked by me...

Rachel's fudgy wreath
snowman & reindeer
s'more cookies
savory Chex Mix
peanut butter kisses
yummy yule log
time to reflect & remember
chhhhooooocccooolate cake!!

homemade marshamallows
meringue cookies
popcorn cake
banana bread size mini!! 

LOL Merry Christmas everyone!!!  Kathy

Monday, December 24, 2012

The 12 Treats of Christmas - 12th

"On the twelveth day of Christmas, the treat lovingly baked by me...

Rachel's Fabulous 5-minute Fudge Wreath!" all I can say about this. YUM.

Rachel Ray's Fabulous 5-Minute Fudge Wreath 

I won't bother with the how to on this one, as Rachel Ray has a video showing exactly what and how to do it, if you click on the link.  Only changes I made: low-fat condensed milk, craisins instead of raisins, and pecans instead of walnuts.  Pretty much because that is what I had in the house. 

I am not a fan of candied cherries, so I used some of those mini M&Ms I had purchased for another recipe.  Whalla! My fudge wreath!

Happy eating!! Kathy

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The 12 Treats of Christmas - 11th

"On the eleventh day of Christmas, the treat lovingly baked by me...

snowmen and reindeer!"

What is Christmas without some sugar cookies? Last year my kids decided that they were not interested in rolling out dough, cutting out shapes with cookie cutters, then decorating afterwards.  My husband and I ended up doing all the work.  So this year I found some fun cookies to make that still kept it seasonal but did not require all the work.

My sugar cookie recipe of course is not clean, but as we established earlier I'm trying my best to make clean and tradition work together, and a little every now and then does not hurt.  My way, :).

I have a Cookie Book from Betty Crocker dated 1975 that I get most of my recipes from. The peanut butter cookie recipe that did not clean up well came from this cook book too.  I am going to make this recipe as written, cause I want to make sure these come out well.

Mary's Sugar Cookies
Source: Betty Crocker's Cookie Book 

1 1/2 c sifted confectioners sugar
1 c softened butter
1 egg (I used 2 egg whites)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond flavoring
2 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tarter

Mix sugar & butter, blend in flavorings.  Mix dry ingredients together then blend into sugar/butter mixture.

Refrigerate for 2-3 hours.  By hand, roll balls of dough and flatten to make circles  For the reindeer, I squished in the sides to make a face shape.  Bake at 375.  The recipe says 7-8  minutes, but time will depend on the size & thickness of your cookies.  Once the cookies are baked & cooled, decorate. 

I made a drippy icing with confectioners sugar, bit of vanilla, a some milk to thin.  I usually use 1 c sifted confectioners sugar, 1/4 tsp vanilla, and 2 tablespoons milk.  Adjust milk to the consistency you want.  For chocolate, add 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder. 

For the reindeer I used red peanut M&Ms for the nose, broken pretzels for the antlers, & candy eyes that I found.  I have seen on the internet people used chocolate chips or brown M&Ms for eyes as well.  Here they are drying on the tray, sorry they don't look pretty!

For the snowmen, I took a large marshmallow (I am saving the ones I made for hot cocoa) and some icing. I did not buy this icing for these cookies, all are leftovers from my pre-clean days.  I hate wasting money, so I don't want to throw away anything I paid for!

Happy Eating!  Kathy

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The 12 Treats of Christmas - 10th

"On the tenth day of Christmas, the treat lovingly baked by me...

s'more cookes!"

Yes, making "some more" cookies!  But these are SMORE cookies!

Whipped up a batch of home made marshmallows.
      (Marshmallow post)
      (this time I used Alton Brown's marshamallow recipe)
Bought a box of graham crackers (or you can make your own, see this recipe here:  Serious Eats Gluten-Free Graham Crackers)
Bought a bag of chocolate chips (you choose your favorite)

Inspiration for this recipe came from Christi at Tip Junkie. I cleaned it up a bit and took it off the stick.  You can find her original recipe here: S'mores Pops

So here we go!!

I pre-prepped the graham crackers before making the marshmallows. Got everything ready cause I knew the marshmallow would be sticky.  I wanted to have the pans ready for both the s'mores and to make more marshmallows (cause we already ate up the first batch.)  While the  marshmallows were mixing, I melted the chocolate, and put a dollop of it on one side of the graham cracker. Spread the marshmallow on the other half, put the sandwich together...and yum!!

The recipe says to put in freezer for a bit, but mine is so stuffed with my holiday meal I just stuck the tray in the fridge while I cleaned up.  The melted chocolate had got a bit hard, so I microwaved it a bit.  Some I sprinkled with mini Christmas M&Ms, for the kids of course. Not for me. :) Once a year artificial coloring can't hurt too much, right??

Yumm!! Happy Eating!  Kathy

Friday, December 21, 2012

The 12 Treats of Christmas - 9th

"On the ninth day of Christmas, the treat lovingly baked by me...

a savory Chex Mix!"

Not every treat has to be sweet, does it? A treat can be savory too!  A tradition in my home was to make Chex Mix on the holidays.  Now a days that is not so special, since you can buy it already done for you in a bag.  But...we all know that those bags are not clean.  There are so many varieties of Chex Mix too.  The more stuff you put in it, the less clean it gets.

One of the BEST things about making Chex Mix is that you can make it as clean as you want by choosing what you put in it.  YOU choose whether the pretzels are clean or not. YOU choose the peanuts, and most importantly, YOU choose which cereal goes in.

The recipe card left to me basically puts in a box each of Corn, Rice and Wheat Chex.  It adds a bag of pretzels, a box of plain Cheerios, and a box of Cheeze-Its. For that much dry, it says 2 sticks of melted butter mixed with 2 tablespoons of worchestire sauce, some garlic and onion powders to taste, and some seasoned salt.

I looked up what is in seasoned salt and there is a lot! But it is easy to make, according to this recipe: Seasoned Salt

In an effort to stay true to my mom's recipe, here is mine:

This is pre-baked. Busy evening coming up, and I know I won't have time to get a picture when it comes out of the oven.  250 degrees, about an hour or so, stirring every 15-20 minutes.

Here is a link to the Official Chex Mix site:  Original Chex Mix Recipe

You'll notice it's not the same as mine.  Quite honestly, if you look at the recipe ingredients, this is not original. The bagel chips give it away. There were NO pre-packaged bagel chips in the 1970s when my mom made this recipe. But you see the spices are the same as mine. At the top of the page, you'll see where you can scroll thru other Chex Mix ideas.

Happy Eating!! Kathy

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The 12 Treats of Christmas - 8th

"On the eighth day of Christmas, the treat lovingly baked by me...

peanut butter Kiss cookies!"

I used my old stand by recipe, substituted my clean versions of the ingredients, and was disappointed. Here they are anyway, one with a Kiss on top and one without (since I know the Kisses are not clean I wanted some for just me.)  The cookies came out too dry; they cracked too much when putting the Kiss on top.  Even the ones I did not put the Kisses on were dry. I know I did not overbake them, as the middles were still a bit uncooked.  Even the dough was dry & crumbly before baking.  But they taste okay. For next year I will research a better clean peanut butter recipe.  I won't post the one I used here since it was not so awesome.

But I will give you a picture!! 

Happy Eating! Kathy

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The 12 Treats of Christmas - 7th

"On the seventh day of Christmas, the treat lovingly baked by me...

a yummy yule log!"

 We have wanted to order one of these for years!  So this year I got a bit..ummmm...brave and tried to make one. Came out pretty cute.  And pretty clean too!!

Using the King Arthur Flour moist chocolate cake recipe from Day 5, and the whipped cream recipe I talked about for Thanksgiving, a buche de noel was born!!

I was going to stop here and just lightly dust with confectioners sugar to look like a light snow had fallen, but a friend of mine talked me into adding a chocolate layer on top. Hard to do cleanly, but I found something on the internet I was able to adapt.

And whalla!!  What do you think? I was going to make it look pretty, make little mushrooms from the marshmallows I made the other day, maybe paint some leaves with the chocolate, but my kids dug into it as soon as the chocolate was hard. I was lucky I got this picture!

The chocolate coating is made from chocolate chips (use whatever brand is clean enough for you) and oil (again, which ever type you feel is clean, as there is so little the taste is not important.) 1 cup chocolate chips, melted in microwave, stir then stir in 1.5 tablespoons oil.  Spread over the top, let cool.  Give you a slight crunchy coating, kind of like a Yodel. :)

Enjoy!! Kathy

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The 12 Treats of Christmas - 6th

For this sixth day of Christmas I would like to stop and reflect on the tragedy in Newtown, CT.  Instead of a treat today, I will be taking the extra time to hug my children.  This horrible, horrible thing should not have to happen to any parent.

As the memorial services continue, and these little angels are laid to rest, my thoughts and prayers are with their families today.



Monday, December 17, 2012

The 12 Treats of Christmas - 5th

"On the fifth day of Christmas, the treat lovingly baked by me...

chooooooclate cake!"

 Make sure you  sing that line properly!! Feel like I am stretching this song a bit, but it's all in fun, right?

My most favorite flour, King Arthur, has a very yummy chocolate cake recipe on the back of it's box. You can find it here: Moist Chocolate Cake

I use the King Arthur Cake Flour and organic white sugar for this recipe. I have a mini cupcake pan with tree shaped holes, so we made some trees, a round cake, and saved some to make the base for tomorrow's treat; the yule log!  My kids are not big on frosting, so we eat the cake as is.

Come back to tomorrow to see how that turned out.   Happy Eating!! Kathy

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The 12 Treats of Christmas - 4th

"On the fourth day of Christmas, the treat lovingly baked by me...

home made marshmallows!"

OMG this was so much fun!! And for those of you who do not eat sugar, well. just move onto Day 5. Cause this was ALL sugar!! My mixer took a beating, would have been better with a KitchenAid, but my friend who makes them who DOES have one says it puts a strain on hers too when it gets to about 10 mins of mixing.

What you need:

1/3 cup cold water
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
large bowl
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/4 cup cold water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
confectioners sugar
colored sugar (optional)

Step 1: pour the 1/3 c cold water into large bowl. Sprinkle gelatin on top and set aside.

Step 2: in a medium saucepan on stove, combine white sugar, 1/4 c water, corn syrup & salt.  Over medium heat, stir until dissolved.  Stop stirring and heat the mixture until it boils; maintain slow boil until mixture reaches 240 deg on candy thermometer. Looks like this when done:

Step 3: carefully pour hot mixture over gelatin then beat with an electric mixer on high speed for 10-12 minutes. Looks like pic 1 first, then will turn to pic 2 when done.

Be careful this does not happen. Sigh.

Step 3: Blend in the vanilla extract.

Step 4: Prepare your pan. My recipe says to lightly coat with cooking oil. My friend's recipe says to coat with oil then dust with a mixture of confectioners sugar and cornstarch. My recipe wants one side kindof sticky, so you can dip that end in colored sugar once they are done. I won't do artificial colors on  my house, so that option was not okay for me.  I lightly oiled the pan, then when I was done just lightly dusted the other side with confectioners sugar.  Getting the  mixture INTO the pan is difficult, I will NOT lie to you.  My recipe was NO HELP WHATSOEVER in this; my friend's recipe said to lightly oil the spatuala.  Wish I had know that, would have helped. So I suggest you do.  You can see by the pic on the left that it is really sticky.

Step 5: Spread into pan, and let dry.  My recipe says 12 hours...friends, 4 hours. You be the judge.  Next time I will lightly coat the top with confectioners sugar so they have that extra layer of protection from sticking once cut.

Final step: Lightly oiled or wet hands will help you get them out of the pan. Flip them onto cutting board lightly dusted with confectioners sugar.  I cut them in all sorts of  shapes and sizes.  My kids loved them!!  I think they were just excited to see a marshmallow again, it's been a REALLY long time!! Those top two circles? They were cut using the top of our cocoa cups...perfect for the cocoa we had to have once the marshmallows were done.  These stayed sooo creamy in our cocoa; and were still there once we got to the bottom of the cup, unlike the store bought marshmallows.

Lot of work, and clean up, but lot of fun and enjoyment. May make again this winter season.  What's up next tomorrow?  I'll give you a hint...chocolate. :)  Happy Eating!! Kathy

Edit: found this and thought I'd share...alternative ways of making marshmallows using liquid agave or honey. marshmallows

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The 12 Treats of Christmas - 3rd

 "On the third day of Christmas, the treat lovingly baked by me...

was 3 ingredient meringue cookies!"

This recipe was brought to me by my son, courtesy of his French teacher.  They were having a party and the teacher asked for parent volunteers to make some traditional French foods.  My kids are programmed to volunteer me for anything baked.  This recipe came out so yummy he asked me to make them again for Christmas.  Perfect recipe for the season, as they look like little white piles of snow.

You will need:
4 egg whites 
1 cup white sugar 
       (I know, not clean but some recipes you just HAVE to use the white stuff, so I used the organic I keep in the house for just that.)
1/4 tsp cream of tarter


Beat the egg whites until stiff; make sure you keep ALL the yolk out, as it will ruin the consistency and hence ruin the cookie.

Mix together the cream of tarter and the sugar in small bowl; SLOWLY add the sugar mix to the egg whites.  The recipe says 1 tablespoon at a time. Well, to me this seemed like it would take forever so I dumped it in 1/3 at a time. Big mistake, and had to start over. The next batch I followed the instructions and perfect they came!!  

The recipe says to brush the cookie sheet with oil & lightly flour, I used parchment paper and it worked good.  When the cookies were done, I could slide them off the baking stone and let cool on the paper. They come off the paper so easily when cool!  I tried to use a scoop to put the dough on the paper, but it kept getting stuck, so I just used a tablespoon and my clean finger. Easy!!

Bake the cookies at 300 for 10 minutes, lower heat to 250 and bake for 25 minutes more.   They came out a little browner than you can see in the picture.  They do not spread at all, so you can put them as close together as you want.

So yummy!!!  Come back tomorrow for day 4!  Kathy

Friday, December 14, 2012

The 12 Treats of Christmas - 2nd

"On the second day of Christmas, the treat lovingly baked by me...

2 batches of popcorn cake!"

OMG there is NOTHING clean about this recipe. But it is a tradition in  my husband's family, handed down to me by his aunt, so make them I will.  We eat soooooo good, that this treat is okay once a year. And yes, I do make it only once a year.  

This recipe is one of those that you have to control yourself when eating. I can easily eat the whole batch in one sitting. Easily. Thank goodness I only make it once a year.

You need: 
1 10.5 oz bag mini marshmallows 
1 c vanilla chips
6 T butter
12 c air popped popcorn (what for small kernels)
1 c salted peanuts
1 tsp vanilla extract
red & green gumdrops, sliced into small pieces

Melt the butter in large saucepan. Add vanilla chips, stir till melted. Add in marshmallows, stir till melted. Quickly stir in vanilla and peanuts, then remove from heat.  Mix in popcorn (make sure you have removed all kernels and hard pieces) quickly; like a rice krispie treat the marshmallow mixture can get cool fast. 

Spread into buttered baking dish; 13 x 9 or slightly larger.  Using lightly greased wax paper, lightly press mixture down into pan.  Lightly press the gumdrops around the top of the popcorn cake, randomly or in patterns.  Let cool, then enjoy!!  

Also makes a pretty gift. Line cookie tin with wax paper, press warm mix into any shaped pan to make more festive, then give it away in the tin or wrapped in a fun way.

Enjoy!! Come back tomorrow for day 3...Kathy

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The 12 Treats of Christmas - 1st

"On the first day of Christmas, the treat lovingly baked by me...

was banana bread, size mini!"

It does not look mini here, but it is!! This yummy banana bread recipe comes from Elise at Simply Recipes.  So easy, one bowl, no mixer.  Delicious every time!!  I use King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour and Turbinado sugar, which gives the banana bread an extra touch of flavor.  Super!!!

Banana Bread Recipe

The pan is a four-loaf mini loaf stoneware pan by Pampered Chef.  The recipe above makes all four mini loaves.  You can find it here: Pampered Chef Mini Loaf Pan

The beauty of these mini loaves? You can eat a whole one and not feel guilty, as a whole mini-loaf is 1/4 of  a normal banana bread. They are also perfect gift sized - wrap up in something pretty!!  The loaves freeze well too, so you can make in advance.  You need to adjust baking time from the recipe, don't forget!

Come back tomorrow to see the 2nd Treat of Christmas!  Kathy

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Making recipes "clean" - quick substitutions

Just wanted to quickly share this post with you all:

The Gracious Pantry put together a list on how to quickly make substitutions in a recipe to make it clean.

Enjoy!!  Kathy

Monday, December 3, 2012


Finding a good bread is really hard!!!

Lisa at 100 Days of Read Food has a wonderful post about buying bread; you can find it here: What-should-be-in-your-sandwich-bread

I am currently buying Stroehmann's simply 100% whole wheat:

Here is a side panel with the ingredients:

whole wheat flour, water, sugar, wheat gluten, yeast, cultured wheat flour, soybean oil, sea salt, grain vinegar, soy flour.

Good...but not great. I can do better!!!  I can do BEST by buying a bread machine and making my own.  Was hoping to get one for Christmas, but looks like our favorite college football teams will BOTH be playing bowl games in Orlando this year, 4 days apart from each other. Trying to figure out how to do that while I am still looking for a part-time job.  But I digress! How can I do BETTER? Let's see. This bread has, according to the packaging,

no artificial preservatives, colors or flavors (that's good)
no high-fructose corn syrup (that's good)
baked with "natural" ingredients (hmmm...questionable phrasing)
cultured wheat flour (acceptable) I did some research on this one and it's okay, made from whole wheat
        flour, distilled vinegar and water.  A quick google search will answer questions easily.
soybean oil (not the best oil choice)
sugar; I would like to know what kind of sugar it is. (not good)

I really wish I had a Whole Foods near by...but alas the closest of is at least a 30 minute drive.  I do have a Wegemans, which is supposed to carry a good "healthy" section about 20 minutes away.  One of these days I am going to make the trek over, when I have time to kill.  It's like visiting a mall for the first time; you need time to browse and figure out where all the good stores are!

Lisa's bread, from the link above, does not have a bakery near me.  Closest is over an hour away.  I'd love to hear comments about what breads you all eat!!