almond joyful Christmas cookies (no bake, paleo-friendly)

untitled (1 of 1)-28

It’s that time of year when it’s so  easy to be naughty. Cookies. Pies. Cakes. Candy. It’s everywhere. Sweet samples at the store. Santa shaped cookies with royal red icing at the coffee shop screaming to be eaten. We’re barely two weeks into the holiday season and, if you’re like us, starting to feel a little sausagey in our favorite jeans.

But we’re not willing to throw in the cards and see how many pounds we can gain before Christmas, just in time to resolve to lose weight in the new year.

So we challenged ourselves to create something tasty, nourishing and full of goodness.  Sweet enough that we can still indulge in the fun treats, but feel good about it while doing so.

untitled (1 of 1)-26

untitled (1 of 1)-25

We landed on a no-bake paleo-friendly Almond Joy-like cookie ball that had the kids begging for more.  And as we’ve said before, if the kids like it… we know it’s good.

Almond Joyful Christmas Cookies

INGREDIENTS:

For the coconut balls:

  • 3 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 6-7 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup grade B maple syrup
  • 3 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds

For the chocolate sauce:

  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate (60 percent cacao)
  • 1/4 cup grade B maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • Pinch sea salt

To make coconut balls, combine all ingredients (except chopped almonds) in a food processor and pulse till combined.  If your coconut oil is solid this will take more than a few pulses (maybe 10 or 15).  Shape teaspoon-size bits of the mixture into balls, and roll them in the finely chopped almonds.  Put the almond crusted coconut balls in the fridge while you make the chocolate sauce.

For the chocolate sauce, combine all the ingredients in a double boiler and stir continuously until everything melts together and is luxuriously chocolatey.

We used a teaspoon to spoon chocolate over half of the coconut balls and then sprinkle with a little more of the chopped almonds.

One thing to note … this makes just a little too much chocolate sauce for two dozen cookies, but we like this sauce on ice cream … and at least one of the four children in our households would like to guzzle it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. 🙂

Makes about 2 dozen 1 to 1 1/2-inch balls

untitled (1 of 1)-24

untitled (1 of 1)-27

 

We are linked up:
Domestic Superhero

leftover rosemary cornbread bread pudding

Cornbread is good.

And my husband’s brother’s ex-wife’s recipe for cornbread is awesome  (especially when made with wholesome real ingredients).

cornbread

But with just two adults and two kids in our house, one batch of cornbread is a lot of cornbread.  So we always have leftovers.  Which is also good. Because who doesn’t love sneaking cornbread in the middle of the night?  Or pretending a big piece of warm cornbread slathered with pastured butter is a good breakfast.

But when the late-night snacking is done, and breakfast wears off and there’s still third of a pan of cornbread left.

And honestly, I could just munch on the leftovers.  It wouldn’t make me sad.  But if you’re tired of cornbread (like some of the folks in our house) and you’re hankering for a new taste explosion or last minute you need to bring dessert to a friend’s house and all you have is leftover cornbread … THIS is the ticket.

Here’s what we do with leftover cornbread …

Coconut Maple Rosemary Cornbread Pudding

INGREDIENTS:

  • Leftover Cornbread (we had 1/2 of a 9×13 pan leftover after a chili dinner)
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup grade B maple syrup
  • ¼ t sea salt
  • 1 can whole organic coconut milk
  • 1 cup whole milk or half and half
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh rosemary – chopped fine or ground
  • ½ stick pastured butter

DIRECTIONS:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a pan on the stove melt butter, but keep a careful eye on it as you don’t want it to brown.

In a bowl whisk together the eggs, coconut milk, milk, maple syrup, sea salt and fresh rosemary.

Crumble leftover cornbread and mix in with the whisked together ingredients. Pour the melted butter in to a 9×11-baking dish, making sure it covers bottom. Pour the cornbread mixture into the baking dish. Spread evenly. The butter will seep up the sides, no worries.

Bake for 45 minutes or until an inserted toothpick or knife comes out clean.

And then … if you’re a food blogger … you should take beautiful pictures of the finished delicious rosemary scented deliciousness … on a delicate plate … topped with a dollop of whipped coconut cream

Or … maybe you should just include cute photos of your kid getting lick-attacked by Hitcher because you forgot to take the pictures and now there’s none left and you were scheduled to post this recipe today and there’s no leftover cornbread to make it again.

I guess I have to go with B.

Happy Tuesday,

Jeanne

We’re linked up at:

Delicious Obsessions

pinecone crafting for the craftless

Someone accused flattered me once and called me “crafty.”

She apparently was looking into my heart, and not at the evidence.

But I try, gosh darnit. I try.

We’ve been at my Mom’s in the Coachella Valley this past week and I’ve been looking for fun things to do with the kids during the 90 degree days that won’t leave my cold-loving Montana brood bored and stuck in air conditioning for too long. (The pool’s been off-limits this week as they clean it, turn the heat on and prep it for the “high season,” which in the desert is end of October through March).

We’ve had bubble blowing contests.

Races around the trees in the field behind the house.

We’ve gone sidewalk chalk crazy on the patio.

Had ballon tosses.

But our favorite thing to do is go on nature walks to the duck pond just a stone’s throw from Grammy’s backyard … our best adventure to date.

br />
20131016-071345.jpg

(Although today we head to the Living Desert Zoo and are hoping to see the zookeepers feed giraffes so … it may not stay in the lead for long).

On one of those walks, the kids “discovered” pinecones different from the ones at home. These are full and round and open. They are just gorgeous. (The ones at home are gorgeous, too. But they stay pretty closed with our cool cool nights.) Our quest undoubtedly became a game and a race to see who could pick up the most pinecones. Although we piled them into one pile, so no one was the winner. 🙂

But what to do with a stroller full of pinecones?

Why … make Christmas ornaments, of course.

I mean, Costco is already selling ribbon, O’Mamas is already doing a toy giveaway, it only makes sense to make ornaments in October, doesn’t it?

So after a run to the local pharmacy to get glitter and glue, here’s what’s left of our beautiful pinecones.

20131016-070857.jpg

20131016-072120.jpg

20131016-072338.jpg

Yeah …

We’re not as crafty as we dream.

But it was fun.

And after two days we’re still finding glitter in our hair.

xo,
Jeanne

31 things: Mama’s from Texas

20131002-190428.jpg

I’m back on board with The Nester’s 31 Day Challenge. I missed yesterday, and there’s a good chance I’ll miss many more. I’m alright with that, though!

Today, the third of October, we had our first big snow. I can honesty say that this is the first year I haven’t dreaded it.

What I want my boys to know is:  Mama is from Texas. My idea of outdoor recreation used to be floating in the river with a cold drink in hand. Once in high school we got ONE inch of snow, and school was cancelled for 3 days.

I laugh at that now when I pass the elementary school down the road, and the kids are having recess in snow boots and ski gloves. Soon enough my boys will be doing the same thing, and they’ll never know any different.

This whole cold weather and snow thing is in their blood.

photo 1

True story… my oldest got bundled up and headed outside as soon as he could today and kept saying “I’m just so, so, so happy Mom!”. The kid LOVES the cold weather. In fact, the only time he ever complains about the temp is in the summer when it is “so hot” at a whopping 80 degrees. When we head to Texas to see family… forget it… the kid hardly wants to step outside.

It’s true my boys have changed me. Because they love the snow, it feels like I love the snow.

We’ve taken the plunge and made sure they have good snow gear, and that had made a world of difference. It softens the blow that I only have to buy the things once and then they will be passed down to my 2 year old.

Jeanne always says (not sure who she heard it from) there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear. I must say I’m beginning to agree (unless of course it’s negative 20… Then you’ll find me curled under a warm blanket with hot tea by the fire).

Until tomorrow,
Abby

untitled (1 of 1)-22

148157_845863974947_6531710_n
untitled (1 of 1)-20
untitled (1 of 1)-21

gently used ergo baby carrier GIVEAWAY!

GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED!  Thanks for playing!! 

And CONGRATULATIONS for winning …

Lindsey Miller!!

Maybe you saw the link we posted from Northern Mum on Saturday about why front-facing baby carriers may not be a great idea …

wpid-oxford-20120214-00027

Which got me thinking … I have this great Ergo Standard Baby Carrier.

41tD6dK6fTL._SY355_ I love this carrier.

From the moment our little guy was big enough to fit, we were freed up to go just about anywhere.

IMG_7305

I should have more pictures of these experiences but I can’t find any … seriously.  He started out on my chest with an infant insert, moved out of the insert and stayed face-forward, then got big enough that he liked life better on my back.  It was a full 20 months of awesome.

And I’m so thankful for the Ergo.  For real.

Because  this was me and our little girl (before I knew better) …

DSC01314(I love this picture because I love the adventures that little girl and I went on and I love those memories … but now I cringe when I see it … knowing now what I wish I knew then.)

So now that the little guy is too big for the Ergo, I realize that it’s still got a TON of life left in it … and if you’ve been using a front-facing carrier (or know someone who is) and want to make the switch.  Maybe this is for you … and a chance to give it a try for FREE!

So we’re giving away our well-loved Ergo (sorry no infant insert … I was reminded that I already gave it away).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

GIVEAWAY WILL CLOSE FRIDAY OCTOBER 4th at midnight.

WINNER ANNOUNCED SATURDAY IN OUR WEEKLY ROUND-UP!

This is NOT a sponsored post.  We just love the Ergo and want it to go to someone who needs/wants it.  Winner will be chosen at random on Friday night and announced Saturday.  Ergo will be shipped USPS standard mail.

how to naturally get rid of ear infections… fast!

photo-29This week my entire family came down with a minor cold that left us functional, but groggy, for a few days.

I made chicken soup with bone broth twice, we doubled up on probiotics, the boys and I drank a bit more kombucha than normal and the grown-ups helped ourselves to oregano oil. These things are our go-to’s when we get sick, and always help us knock things out pretty quickly.

It seemed we were on the mend until Tuesday night when my 2 year old hardly slept a wink. The poor guy ended up in bed with us, and tossed and turned, seeming so uncomfortable, all night.

It wasn’t until the next morning when we were all a bit more human awake that I realized my boy had a major ear ache.

I will say, life is so much easier once your kids can communicate. When I asked what hurt he would say “ear owe-ee” in the most pitiful voice ever. Super sad? Yes. Super helpful? Yes.

In general, we deal with most ailments and sicknesses at home with natural remedies within a few days. It’s a rare occasion for us to head to the doctor, but I’m so thankful to have a wonderful pediatric naturopath here in town who sees us when we need him.

I was tempted to call him, but decided to administer some garlic oil in his ears first. He was in a lot of pain, so wasn’t up for laying on his side for a solid 30 seconds so I could put in the drops.

My garlic oil didn’t smell very potent, so I headed to the co-op in hopes of finding something a bit stronger. Thankfully, I came across this Mullein Garlic Oil, which I will from here on out refer to as Magic Juice.

300

I got home, and my husband helped me hold our son down (it was a bit dramatic), and I placed 2 drops in the ear. We kept him on his side for 30 seconds for it get down his ear canal.

Within 5 minutes he was crashed out on me for a solid hour.

When he woke up, he was fever free and showing zero signs of an ear infection.

No pain, no tears, no tugging on his ears…. see what I mean when I say Magic Juice?

So while I could try my hand again at some homemade garlic oil, I’m happy to invest the $10 dollars in something that worked to quickly effectively.  Considering my kids haven’t had many ear infections in the past, this bottle will last us well over a year.

Here are a few links from our Amazon store of natural (affordable) supplements we use often to ward off sickness.  We keep these things stocked in our cupboards, and consider them a great investment… way cheaper than several doctors visits.

I hope you find this helpful, and know that I was blown away with how fast this Mullein Garlic Oil worked.

Cheers to not wasting winter being sick indoors!

-Abby

 

 

the kindergarten quandary

untitled (1 of 1)-30

Abby here, confessing that I’ve gone back and forth as to whether or not write about this.

Part of me feels like this should be an easier decision, and I need not rely on other peoples opinions and experiences. But the other part of me feels like I’m running in circles, and I’m hoping maybe some of you have really wrestled with the same issue…

So here’s where I’m at: I’ve got a wonderful 4 year old son who will be starting kindergarten next year.

For the last 2 or 3 years, I’ve been pretty amped up about homeschooling. This really wasn’t something up for debate. I was excited about it. I researched, looked into the local co-op, read blogs and books, and asked a million questions.

Now here we are, with just one short year before kindergarten, and I feel stumped. I’ve felt less and less adequate to homeschool the closer we get to kindergarten, yet a huge part of me still longs to do so. I love the idea of it, I’m just not sure about the reality of it.

As for most parents, the three obvious options here are homeschool, private school and public school.

Private school wasn’t something we considered until our church began meeting a wonderful private school here in town. Getting to know the school and some of the students and teachers has definetely warmed me up more to this idea. There are just so many factors…. a few being the price, that fact that it takes a classical education approach and then also the rumors that there is very little emphasis on play for the students. One advantage to this private school is their kindergarten program is a 1/2 day, which I think could be a good transition into school for my boy.

Then there is the cute little public school down the street, that every person I’ve met in Bozeman who knows anything about the school district here says I am CRAZY to not send my child there. There is usually only one class per grade, and I have heard nothing but amazing things about the place. To top it off, my son just started a neighborhood soccer team, and every single boy on his team will be in the kindergarden class next year. Many of the parents have older children already in school, and they think the world of that place.

But then I’m back to square one in that in a perfect world I really do think I’d like to homeschool… I think.

So… I guess this is just a brain dump, but I would love and appreciate any advice. Surely I am not the only one who has struggled with this….

yellowstone

“It is an incalculable added pleasure to any one’s sum of happiness if he or she grows to know, even slightly and imperfectly, how to read and enjoy the wonder-book of nature.” – T. Roosevelt

With that idea in mind … to teach our kids to read and enjoy the wonder-book of nature … we went on a great adventure last week.

A 250 mile road trip to Yellowstone National Park.

Two moms.

Four kids (which means four car seats.)

A rented Suburban.

Way too many snacks (because with four kids, there never seem to be enough snacks).

And more than a little enthusiasm for 13 hours on the road!

 

 

untitled (1 of 1)-29

untitled (1 of 1)-31

untitled (1 of 1)-30

untitled (1 of 1)-32

“The Park is just a howling wilderness of three thousand square miles, full of all imaginable freaks of a fiery nature.” – R. Kipling

untitled (1 of 1)-36

untitled (1 of 1)-35

untitled (1 of 1)-34

DSCN3296

untitled (1 of 1)-33

untitled (1 of 1)-25

It’s also a good place to find a bench and relax.

untitled (1 of 1)-45
untitled (1 of 1)-44
untitled (1 of 1)-38
untitled (1 of 1)-43
untitled (1 of 1)-48

untitled (1 of 1)-51

Note the lovely glare?  It’s true … just because the dude is carrying a really fancy camera, there’s no guarantee he knows how to take a picture 🙂

untitled (1 of 1)-28

untitled (1 of 1)-52
Somehow … 13 hours, 250 miles, 35 bathroom stops, snack stops, nature walks, rock climbs and races …. we are all still friends and reminded just how lucky we are to live so close to this amazing gift.
Happy Monday!

sunny sourdough crackers

My kids love crackers.

All kinds of crackers.  Rice crackers.  Cheddar crackers.  Graham crackers.  Water crackers.  Sweet or savory.  They just love crackers.

But they especially adore Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies.  Every time we are in the store, they ask for these dang bunnies.

And they’re fine.

They’re actually pretty wholesome.

They’re organic.

There’s no artificial flavor or color.

They’re made with cheese from milk from cows that aren’t treated with growth hormones.

And it’s totally easy to pick up a box from the store and not stress about it.

So I don’t feel terrible giving them Cheddar Bunnies.

But every time we get a box of Cheddar Bunnies, it’s another box and foil lining that end up in the landfill.

So as we strive to live a bit more sustainably and responsibly and all that, I get a little bit bummed out every time one of those boxes makes it into the trash.

Plus, we’ve got this sourdough start staring at me from its perch on the back of our stove.

And I’ll be honest … since the Cowboy is out of town these days on a job, I’ve been remiss in my sourdough duties.  Sure, we make sourdough pancakes or waffles once or twice a week..  I made English Muffins once.  And I feed it every other day to keep it going.  But mostly it’s just sitting there because there’s no one in the house making bread.

And that stinks.

So I started making crackers.

Sourdough crackers.

Sunny sourdough crackers.

IMG_1343

And the kiddos don’t seem to mind that we haven’t bought Bunnies since we started making our own.

A big upside:  they are super simple to make.  Just a few ingredients that are probably already in your pantry, a food processor fitted with a pastry blade, some parchment, a rolling pin and a cookie sheet.  And one batch equals roughly the same yield as a box of Cheddar Bunnies, so one batch a week and we’re good to go.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup sourdough start (check out this post to learn how to make your own start … or if you live in the Bozeman area, email me and I’ll share some of ours)
  • 1/3 cup melted pasture butter
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon aluminum free baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Combine the sourdough start and melted butter in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a pastry blade.  Add all purpose flour and let the food processor run until it forms a ball of dough.

Knead the ball until it’s smooth (which only takes a few kneads) and put it into a non-reactive bowl (glass or stainless steel or enamel) and cover with a clean cloth.  Set in a warm spot in your kitchen for at least 8-12 hours.  NOTE:  It’s okay to leave it longer, but know that the longer you leave the dough to rest the more “sour” the crackers.)

When you’re ready to make the crackers, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Gently break apart your dough ball and add the baking powder, salt, onion and garlic powder and knead to incorporate the dry ingredients into your dough.

Divide the ball into halves or thirds and on a piece of parchment paper big enough for your cookie sheet roll the dough as thin as you can make it (like … 1/8 of an inch thin … really really thin).  The thinner the dough, the crispier the crackers.  And don’t worry, they puff up a little when they bake.

At this point, you can either cut the dough into small squares with a sharp knife … or … if you are like me and trying to replace the cuteness of a cheddar bunny  for two toddlers, you can use a very small cookie cutter in whatever shape strikes your fancy.  (We have a set of 1-inch to 1.5-inch butterflies, sun and flowers that I use).

IMG_1340

Give the crackers a bit of space between each one … just so the edges crisp up a bit.  Sprinkle with a little sea salt and some pepper.   (I gently press the crackers with my hands to get that last bit of salt and pepper “set” onto the cracker.)

Bake for 10 minutes.

Check the crackers and if they’re not crisp yet, let them bake for another minute or two.  They firm up a bit more on the cooling rack (cooling takes all of 3 minutes), but if they aren’t mostly crisp out of the oven they won’t really ever be crisp crisp.  And nobody likes a limp cracker.

IMG_1345

Store in an airtight container after cooled completely.

These taste just like pepper water crackers and our kids LOVE them.  I’ve also added some grated cheese into the dough on occasion to make them more cheddar-bunny-like (I’ll share that recipe at another time … I’ve just never taken photos.  And for the cheesy crackers, we use the butterfly shapes!)

Makes about a quart of crackers.

NOTE:  Want to change the flavor and make ’em more grown-up like?  Instead of salt and pepper before baking, try a bit of Herbs de Provence and a bit of sea salt.  Or Taco Seasoning.  Maybe eliminate the salt and add your favorite Cajun spice mix.  The options are endless!

And that’s one less box in the trash heap!

xo,

Jeanne

We’re linked up:

Kelly the Kitchen Kop
The Nourishing Gourmet