Sherry’s No-Bake Cookies

Another winner recipe from my sweet mentor friend Sherry!
I have made these SEVERAL times and they are always a big hit.  Very yummy, very healthy!

NO-BAKE COOKIES
1/2 cup coconut oil
2/3 cup carob powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp chicory (or coffee substitute that has barley/corn malt in it)
1 cup honey (or substitute maple syrup/ agave/ honey combo)
1 cup palm sugar (can substitute with honey/ maple syrup/ agave)
1 cup water
1-2 Tbsp brown rice flour
1 1/3 cup nut butter (almond, peanut)
2 tsp vanilla
4 cups rolled oats
1 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup flax seeds (if desired)

-In a large pan mix the coconut oil, salt, carob powder, chicory and heat until the oil is melted and starting to get thick.
-Add the honey, palm sugar, water and brown rice flour.
-Bring to a boil and cook until it comes to the soft ball stage (see below), stirring constantly.
-Take off the burner, add the vanilla and the nut butter, mix well.
-Add the oats and coconut, mix well, then add the flax seeds. You want add the flax seeds last so that they don’t get cooked.
-Drop with a cookie scoop or spoon on to cookie sheets, plates or wax paper. Let cool, then eat.

Sherry’s Notes: In place of the water and brown rice flour you can use a milk substitute like rice milk, almond milk etc.

There are lots of variations of this recipe. Have fun playing with it!

How to tell when something is at the soft ball stage without a candy thermometer:  Have a bowl on hand with cold water in it. As the mixture boils down drop a little into the bowl and see it holds together and if you can pick it up. I usually add the nut butters when the honey and palm sugar are just barely able to be picked up.

2014 Goals

Oh me, oh my.  Just have baby #5 and watch your goals slide to the back burner!  It’s totally okay though, babies are way more important!  Here are my results on my 2014 goals (posting a little early so I can clear my head to start thinking about 2015 goals)…

Mothering/ Marriage/ Homemaking:
Make a Proverbs list.  We got half-way through this, which has been great though!

One handwritten note per month to someone in family (husband, child).  Done each month!

Two read-a-loud chapter books per month with older children.  We completed 24 this year!

Bible with children- Read at mealtimes, Continue to add new memory verses, Read Bible story book and role play.  We’re working through Proverbs.  We’re still adding new Bible memory verses often.  And we finished  101 Favorite Stories from the Bible.  So we hit this goal!

Do at least 25 Children’s Crafts/ Activities with my children.  My children really like doing crafts so I want to make sure I do this for them.  We have done 54 crafts this year!  Some were super easy though.  We might have a couple more before the year is over.

Every Saturday, have a planning session for each day of next week.  Done.

Personal Growth:
Read 1/2 the Bible- I actually finished the entire KJV Bible this year, my fourth time to read completely through it!  Amazing!!  God is absolutely amazing!

Read 24 books- I’ve read 52 books so far this year and am nearing the end of 3 more!  So 55 most likely!  This is huge, I’m so excited about this one!  I’ve learned and grown so much because of the books I’ve read!  (But before you think I’m super-woman, 20 of these have been e-books, which are shorter than regular paperback books).  :-)

Record 1,000 Gifts- things I’m thankful for.  I’ve recorded 1,820 things I’m thankful for so far this year!

Try to live more minimalist and keep clutter to a minimum by getting rid of 7 things per week.  I stopped counting but I did do pretty good with this.  Just made a large thrift store drop-off the other day.  My hubby would say though that I need to work on this one some more. 

Ministry:
Pray genuinely for the needs of others at a set time each week (10 minutes, morning time).  I’ve got a prayer wall with lots of people’s names and needs from around the world up on the wall going up our stairs!  Yes, kept up on this for the most part.  So neat that my children’s eyes are being opened to needs all around the world.  And oh my, do you get icommittopray.com emails?  Oh my heart, such huge needs for prayer for persecuted Christians around the world.  I recommend signing up and praying for those that are being beaten, burned, displaced, and murdered for the name of Christ.  Even now, in our day and age.  It’s horrific.  And the least I can do is pray.

Pass out gospel tracts at least twice per month.  Finally more in the habit of this!  I keep some handy and the children each leave some throughout stores when we go out!

Pray for the entire world using online calendarDid this!

Health:
Do 3 months no sugar.  I’m still allowed to have my natural sweeteners- honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, and coconut sugar.  I use no other sweeteners.  Done in Jan/ Feb/ March.

Do a separate 3 months with only 1 sugar insult per week- Did this for April/ May/ June.

15 salads per month- I’ve hit this goal every single month, and them some!  Yah!!  This was such an awesome goal, I’m so glad I did it!!  I now crave my salads and want them more than 15 times per month!

Briskly walk on treadmill (or outside) at least 4 times each week for at least 49 weeks of the year, at least 30 minutes each session.  October and November were my not-so-good months.  I only exercised 7 times in October and 12 times in November.  But with a newborn, I just didn’t make time for it.  I did hit this goal all other months though and am on track to hit this goal in December.

You ready to set 2015 goals???  I’m excited to do so but am also prepared to lower the bar since I have five children now!

Easy Christmas Gift Idea!

Want to wash your hands with something that’s not harsh and leaves your hands moisturized instead of dry?!  Got 5 minutes to make it homemade?!  Then this is for you!

Sea Salt Scrub:

–Mix 1/2 cup Sea Salt with
–1/4 cup Olive Oil (or oil of your choice), and
–15 drops Essential Oil of your choice

Stir, put in a nice jar, enjoy for handwashing or give away as gifts!

Notes:
–Some essential oils are strong and don’t need as many drops (cinnamon is one I figured out).
–Other essential oils aren’t as strong and you could add more (lemon, tangerine, orange).
–If you want to make a Lavender Vanilla Scrub, use 1 tsp of vanilla along with 15 drops of lavender essential oil.  This is a great flavor to make!
–I also really like lemon tangerine!
–If you want to still have ‘soap’ in your handwash, you can mix in some liquid soap also!

If you want the printable that I used on these jars, just email me and I’ll send them your way for free!  Thanks to my hubby for designing them!
DSCN7183DSCN7182DSCN7185DSCN7191A friend of mine made them as end-of-year teacher gifts, so pretty!…
WP_20140510_001(1)And she made them again this Christmas, aren’t these so pretty?!…
Candice's Button Jars

Two-Ingredient Payday Bars

These are yummy!  Two ingredients make a delicious “Payday” bar replica!

Check out the recipe and beautiful step-by-step pictures here!

Ingredients
  1. 4 cups Lightly Salted Peanuts, divided*
  2. 1 1/2 cups Dried, Whole, Pitted Dates**
  3. 2 Tablespoons Water
Instructions
  1. In a food processor blend 1 cup of peanuts until they are very fine and start to clump together.
  2. Add the dates and water and blend until you get a fairly smooth paste. You will have to stop several times and scrape down the sides.
  3. Lay out 1 1/2 cups of peanuts on a baking sheet lined with a piece of parchment paper. Don’t try this without parchment.
  4. Spoon the date mixture onto the peanuts as evenly as possible without disturbing the peanuts underneath.
  5. Press the remaining peanuts into the top of the mixture flattening it as you go. Use an additional piece of parchment to completely flatten. You can utilize a cutting board to help flatten the mixture.
  6. Refrigerate for at least an hour before cutting into candy bar sized pieces.
Notes
  1. *Substitutions: If you can’t find lightly salted peanuts you can use regular salted peanuts. OR, use unsalted peanuts in the filling and salted peanuts on the outside if you’re worried about them being too salty.
  2. **I find my dates in the dried fruits and nuts near the produce section of my grocery store. I would advise you to avoid using “chopped” dates in this recipe as they often have a different texture. Dried “Medjool” dates are considered the King of Dates. They are usually a bit more expensive but they have the proper texture too.
By Micheline Krise

The Miracle of Baking Soda

I knew baking soda made a great household cleaner.  But recently, my hubby has been having fun (yes, you read that right, HE has been having FUN) using baking soda to remove what we thought were irremovable stains.  He said I HAD to post about it on this blog.  When my man wants a recipe or natural living thingy posted, he gets it, because rarely does he say that!

Here’s what he’s been cleaning lately (I have a newborn, thus the reason for all this man cleaning):

-White stovetop-  I thought our stovetop had scratches on it, not stains.  Since those “scratches” never wiped clean, I figured they were there to stay.  Wrong!  He agitated them with baking soda and a wet rag.  “Scratches” are GONE!  Wowzers!

-White Kitchen Bowls-  I had some bowls that had some rim stains on the bottom of them.  They never come clean in regular dish washing so I figured the stains were there to stay also.  Nope, baking soda, water, and a rag got them white again!

-Counter Tops-  Oh my, I was shocked by this one.  We have those cheap formica countertops.  They were pretty stained.  I was thinking it was time to get new countertops.  Nope, baking soda got ALL the stains out, super impressive!

Moral of the story:  Don’t buy expensive toxic chemicals at the grocery store to clean your home, just whip out the baking soda! 

Baking Powder

I’ve been making my own baking powder for years.  I got the recipe from “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon.

Conventional baking powder contains aluminum, a known neurotoxin.  So unless you’re buying aluminum-free baking powder, this would be an easy health change for you!

Baking Powder
1 Tbsp Baking Soda
2 Tbsp Cream of Tartar
2 Tbsp Arrowroot Powder

Simply mix all three ingredients and store in airtight jar.  I make a large jar-full that lasts me a while.

If you need to use baking powder right away in a recipe, you can omit the arrowroot and just do 1 part Baking Soda with 2 parts Cream of Tartar.

Baked Beans

These taste similar to canned baked beans.  Every time I make a batch, they are GONE in no time.  A great way to get your children to eat some pintos!

Baked Beans
2-3 Cups Pinto Beans or some sort of White Beans
3 Tbsp Coconut Sugar (adjust to taste if desired)
2 Tbsp Blackstrap Molasses
1/2- 1 tsp Mustard
1 Onion
2 Tbsp Ketchup
Salt to taste
Little bit of water if needed

1- Dice up your onion into tiny pieces (you can even just run the onion through a food processor).

2- Sautee onion in some Coconut Oil.  Add the coconut sugar, molasses, mustard, and ketchup.  Stir well, this is your “sauce.”

3- Add the beans and salt to taste.  Let simmer for 10 minutes on low heat or until heated through.  Adjust sweetener or salt if needed.

Really Messy, Really Sloppy Black Bean Burgers

If you like to eat perfectly polite with a fork, don’t make these.

If you’re having company over, don’t make these.

If it’s just you and the children, go on ahead!  They are almost as messy and hard to eat as sloppy joe’s.  But, the flavor is THERE.  I’ve made these over and over and over again over the past several years.

I will say, hubby likes them a little different than me, but I think these are perfect.  (I’ll list his variation at the end).

Sloppy Black Bean Burgers:
-About 3 1/2 Cups Cooked Black Beans
-1 Green Bell Pepper
-1/2 of an Onion
-2-3 Cloves of Garlic
-2 tsp Cumin (I actually probably add more than this because I really like to cook with Cumin).
-About 1/2 Cup Oats
-Sea Salt
-Toppings/ Condiments:  Mustard, Cashew Mayo Spread, Pickles, Tomato

1- Partially blend (or use a hand mixer) the cooked and drained black beans.

2- In a food processor, puree the bell pepper, onion, and garlic cloves together.  Blend them till truly a puree.
DSCN7753

3- Add the onion mixture to the beans in a large bowl.  Season with salt and cumin and add in the oats.  Mix well.

4- If you’re not making dinner at the last minute like me, you could put your mixture in the fridge to get cold for 30-60 minutes so they’ll form nicer patties.  Or not.  :-)

5- Pre-heat a frying pan on medium-low heat and coat with coconut oil.  Cook burgers.  Continue to add coconut oil as needed to prevent sticking.

6- Serve with all your favorite toppings, my favorites are listed above and they are the best.  :-)

Okay so here are my tips since I’ve made these several times:
-I don’t know if you have a really great pickle brand that you like, but I don’t eat these without my Bubbie’s pickles.  If you try these burgers without Bubbie’s pickles, you do so at your own risk.  :-)

-You could try adding an egg to help them hold together better.  I don’t, and they are very sloppy, did I mention that already?!

-You could possibly add bread crumbs to the mixture to help them stay together better??  I don’t.

-I use a warm tortilla cut to bun size for my bun.  I like these with a “tortilla bun” better than a regular hamburger bun.

-My husband likes to add ketchup and chili powder and extra salt to the mixture before cooking.  Then more ketchup after.  Or barbecue sauce.  He also uses a regular hamburger bun.
DSCN7755

Sherry’s Cinnamon Cookies

We’ve been enjoying batches of these simple cookies lately.  They are basic and not fancy, but a great little treat for little hands.  They freeze great too so you can pull out of the freezer whenever needed!  The recipe came from my health mentor Sherry, so you know they’ll be healthy!  :-)

Cinnamon Cookies

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 cups spelt flour (or whatever kind you choose)
1 1/2 Tbsp Egg Replacer
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/3+ milk (rice milk, almond milk, coconut milk, whichever kind you choose)

-Mix well the oil, honey, and vanilla
-Add the flour, Egg Replacer, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon mix well
-Add rice drink until dough is soft. You may need to add more or less depending on humidity or whatever.
-Drop on to oiled cookie sheets a couple of inches apart or so. They shouldn’t spread too much.
-Bake at 350 F for 10 minutes or until the edges are firm and slightly brown.  Watch closely so they do not start to get too brown towards the end.

Notes: You can use one egg in place of the egg replacer and probably be able to skip the rice milk at the end.

Black Bean Soup

I snagged another recipe from the super-resourceful Money Saving Mom, surprise, surprise.  A really yummy black bean soup!  I made it once last week and once this week, a total of 4 pots full!  I quadrupled the recipe both times.  Yup, it’s good.  :-)

Black Bean Soup

  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 3 ribs celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder (I used a little less as this can make it kind of spicy)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin (I used extra, mmm, cumin!)
  • 6 cups veggie broth (MSM used chicken broth)
  • 6 cups cooked and drained black beans (or 4 15-oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed)
  • Salt and pepper

I put all of these ingredients into my super handy pressure cooker and call it a day!  Once up to pressure, I cook for about 13 minutes.  (What?!  You don’t own a pressure cooker?  You are missing out!)  :-)

Or you can do it MSM’s way…
Saute onion, garlic, pepper, carrots, and celery in oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally and cook until softened. Add chili powder and cumin and saute for a few more minutes.

Stir in broth and beans and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Remove a few cups of the soup and puree in a blender. Stir pureed soup back into the soup, season with salt and pepper, and simmer for about 5 more minutes.  (I didn’t puree mine and we really liked it that way, I’m all about the shortcuts come dinnertime hour).

Serves 6.