Paleo Orange Cranberry Relish

Paleo Orange Cranberry Relish from www.nearlycrafty.com

Last week, I mentioned that my  husband is a stickler for tradition when it comes to the Thanksgiving feast. Every year we have the exact same meal – no exceptions. Turkey, stuffing, gravy, creamed spinach, sweet potato apple bake, stuffed prunes, orange cranberry relish, apple pie, and pumpkin pie. In the 17 years I have known him, the only change up has been in the method the turkey is cooked. His family takes the tradition seriously.

Years ago, their family orange cranberry relish included a premade orange cranberry jelly that they would combine with other ingredients to get the final result. Ocean Spray had the audacity to stop producing that premade jelly and the family was forced to come up with their own recipe to replace it. This year we did an early Thanksgiving dinner while my inlaws were in town and I was on my second annual 8 week paleo challenge when it happened. Not wanting to cheat on my challenge, but not wanting to miss out on all the tradition I was forced to remake the already remade recipe so that it did not contain any refined sugar.

If you are looking for a delicious side dish for your feast this week, this paleo orange cranberry relish might just fill the bill!

Ingredients

For Cranberry Orange Relish

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • dash of salt
  • 1/2 tsp pectin
  • 1 tbs orange peel zest
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries – chopped in food processor

Paleo Orange Cranberry Relish from www.nearlycrafty.com

For Raspberry Cranberry Gelatin Mold

  • 2 tsp gelatin (I used Knox because it was in the pantry, but for true paleoness go with an unflavored beef gelatin.)
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 2 cups fresh raspberries (frozen works too)

How To

1. Let’s make some relish! Combine water, honey, salt, and pectin in a small pot and bring to a boil over medium heat.

2. Add chopped cranberries and orange zest and cook over medium for 2 more minutes, until the cranberries are softened. Do not cook the cranberries down until they are totally dissolved.

Paleo Orange Cranberry Relish from www.nearlycrafty.com

3. Remove the relish from the heat and let it cool completely.

4. Onto the gelatin mold. Combine gelatin and boiling water and stir until the gelatin is totally dissolved.

5. Put 2 cups of raspberries in a bowl and smush them up with your hands. Get in there. Smush.

Paleo Orange Cranberry Relish from www.nearlycrafty.com

6. Add water/gelatin mix and raspberries to the pot of cooled relish. Stir to combine.

7. Pour the gelatin into a mold. This can be as simple as a bowl or as fancy as a formal mold. It tastes wonderful no matter what the dish is!

Paleo Orange Cranberry Relish from www.nearlycrafty.com

8. Place gelatin in the refrigerator until set, at least 4 hours.

9. When you are ready to serve the gelatin mold, either serve it straight out of the dish (because sometimes you get to hungry to do anything but that) or dip the mold in a larger dish of hot water for a few seconds and invert it onto a serving plate.

Paleo Orange Cranberry Relish from www.nearlycrafty.com

Caramel Apple Pie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Caramel Apple Pie Ice Cream Sandwiches from www.nearlycrafty.com

I’d like to clarify something right from the start in this post: Caramel Apple Pie Ice Cream Sandwiches are mother-loving amazing. Like, “Am I weeping with joy as I chew?” kind of amazing. I’m not going to write a bunch of fluff about these bad boys. That wastes valuable eating time.

Ingredients

For the Filling

  • 5 apples – peeled, cored, and chopped into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 3+ tbs of cinnamon
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1.75 qt of vanilla ice cream (This is the size of one 1/2 gallon tub. It also leaves extra filling depending on your cookie size, so if you can only find 1.5 qt tubs that will be totally fine.)

For the Caramel Cookies

  • 3/4 c soft butter
  • 3/4 c brown sugar
  • 1/2 c white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 c all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 12 oz of soft caramel candies. I used one and a half bags of Lancaster soft caramels.

How To

1. In a medium bowl, mix apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla until apples are coated.

2. Over medium heat, melt butter in medium skillet.

3. Pour apple mixture into skillet and cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes. Apples should be softened, but not total mush.

4. Remove apple mixture from skillet and return to mixing bowl to cool.

5. Move on to the cookies. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

6. Unwrap your caramels and cut each candy into quarters. If you are using another kind of caramel candy, cut them into to 1/4 inch pieces.

Caramel Apple Pie Ice Cream Sandwiches from www.nearlycrafty.com

7. In a mixer, cream the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.

8. Add egg and vanilla. Mix until just blended in.

9. Mix in flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt until just combined.

10. Mix in caramels until they are distributed fairly evenly throughout the batter.

11. Make balls of dough that are about 1.5 inches in diameter and put them on a parchment lined baking sheet. The size does not matter as much as the uniformity. You want each ball of dough to be as close to the same size as possible and contain generally the same amount of caramels.

12.  Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes until they are just barely turning golden.

13. Remove the cookies and let them cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before moving them to a cooling rack to cool entirely.

Caramel Apple Pie Ice Cream Sandwiches from www.nearlycrafty.com

14. Once your cookies have cooled, it is time to assemble the ice cream sandwiches. If it is hot out, you want all your supplies ready to go because the ice cream melts quickly in this portion.

15 Put the entire container of ice cream and the apple filling mixture into a the mixer bowl.

16 Mix on low just until the ingredients are combined. The ice cream might get a little melty here, so don’t freak out but work fast.

Caramel Apple Pie Ice Cream Sandwiches from www.nearlycrafty.com

17 Scoop the filling mix onto the flat side of one cookie. You want a nice sized mound, around 1-2 inches high. If you put on too much it will smoosh out the sides too much.

18. Put another cookie on top of the ice cream, flat side down.

19. Smoosh (I don’t know why Julia Child didn’t use that word more in cooking. I seem to do a lot of it.) the ice cream sandwich together slightly.

20. You might need to drag a spoon or spatula around the sides of the sandwich to keep the filling in between the cookies.

21. Place the ice cream sandwich on a parchment lined baking sheet.

22. Repeat steps until all the sandwiches are made.

23. Put the baking sheet in the freezer for about an hour to allow the sandwiches to set.

24. Feast.

Caramel Apple Pie Ice Cream Sandwiches from www.nearlycrafty.com

Near Misses

  • That recipe seems so nice and easy, right? Here is what really happened. I made the batter with the kids (well, with Bubba because Sis didn’t feel like cooking and my “food sounded disgusting”) and then preheated the oven. But the oven did not feel like cooperating in that plan. It decided to break instead. The batter was made and I was starting a clean eating commitment the very next day, so if these bad boys didn’t get done asap I wasn’t going to get to try one. Luckily, my very generous neighbor let me use her oven (on a 90 degree day) so there I was, baking in her kitchen and making all sorts of a mess. It worked and I got to sample one of these sandwiches before I said “later” to sugar, but it wasn’t my most Martha Stewarty moment.
  • When you take the cookies out of the oven and put them on a wire rack to cool, be careful. Melted caramel is basically just hot lava in food form. The caramel will be melty and drippy and messy. I would put a paper towel under the rack to catch any caramel drips that fall.
  • It is hard to say how many ice cream sandwiches this makes because your cookie size can vary so much. I made 13 sandwiches and had a lot of filling left over. I don’t think you could get a full double batch of sandwiches out of the leftover filling, but you could at least make 5-6 more sandwiches. If you try this let me know how it goes!!!

 

Double Berry Flag Cake

Double Berry Flag Cake from www.nearlycrafty.com

With the Fourth of July just around the corner I wanted to share this double berry flag cake with you guys. It isn’t a craft, but it is freakin’ yummy. Yummy trumps crafty 99.9% of the time.

You might have noticed from prior posts that I am a big fan of Smitten Kitchen. I totally trust her recipes, especially her desserts. I think every single birthday cake I have made used her cakes as the base. When I was searching for a berry cake recipe, I went to SK and found this triple berry buttermilk bundt cake. I adapted her recipe in that I changed how some items were mixed and what type of pan was used to create a flag pattern.

How To

1. Do what Deb on Smitten Kitchen tells you with respect to all the basic ingredients. I used 3 cups of strawberries and 1 cup of blueberries and did NOT mix them together. Put the strawberries in one bowl and the blueberries in another.

Double Berry Flag Cake from www.nearlycrafty.com

2. When it comes to the final mixing step where you fold the berries into the batter – stop. Scoop about 1/4 of your batter out and put it into the bowl with the blueberries. Now go ahead and dump the strawberries in with the remaining batter and fold.

Double Berry Flag Cake from www.nearlycrafty.com

3. In a buttered 9×13 inch pan, dump the strawberry batter into the right side of the pan. Spread it out until it covers the area where the stripes are on the flag. This batter is so thick it will not run at all.

Double Berry Flag Cake from www.nearlycrafty.com

4. Dump the blueberries and reserved batter into your mixing bowl and fold together.

5. Pour the blueberry batter into the remaining open portion of the pan, where the stars are on the flag.

Double Berry Flag Cake from www.nearlycrafty.com

6. Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out dry.

Double Berry Flag Cake from www.nearlycrafty.com

7. Make the frosting and let the cake cool.

8. Put the frosting in a ziplock bag and cut off a small bit of the corner, creating a pastry bag.

9. Draw some stars and stripes on your cake.

Double Berry Flag Cake from www.nearlycrafty.com

10. Feast.

Near Misses

I actually put my frosting in a little accordion bottle we have. I didn’t want to lie to you and tell you I did this with a ziplock bag. But the ziplock works just as well for a project like this. Honestly, you could probably get the same look just drizzling the frosting over the cake with a spoon.

I did not wait for the cake to cool, so my frosting ran more than I would have liked. I just wiped off any that ran with a paper towel. But don’t do that. Wait.

Candy Cane Hot Chocolate Sticks

hotchocolatesticks

Anyone else have a pile of candy canes left over from the holidays? Anyone else have to argue with a toddler every day about why they aren’t breakfast even through they taste like toothpaste? Anyone else have too much Sally Struthers implanted guilt in their head to ever throw away perfectly good food? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

I may or may not have all of the above. That means I needed to come up with a fast way to use as many candy canes as possible, so I made candy cane hot chocolate sticks. This uses up all your candy canes (and it doesn’t really matter how few/many you have) and makes some yummy treats that are easily giftable. Yes, that means they might be out of your house without you having to consume them all! Win-win.

Ingredients

  •  3 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 14.5 oz can of condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup crushed candy canes. I crushed 24 candy canes in our immersion blender bowl, but you can use a food processor or blender. 24 candy canes makes about 1.5 cups of crushed candy canes. They should be really finely ground so they melt in the hot milk and you don’t have a bunch of chunks floating around. If you don’t have a food processor or blender, put them in a ziplock bag and beat them with a pan or rolling pin and make a chunky version. Chunky candy cane hot chocolate is better than no hot chocolate at all.

ground candy cane

  • 10 standard size marshmallows
  • Mini muffin tin
  • Popsicle sticks/wooden spoons/lollipop sticks

How To

1. Heat chocolate chips, condensed milk, coconut milk, and vanilla in a sauce pan over medium-low heat, stirring until chocolate is melted. You can also heat this stuff in the microwave, but I find it more trouble than it is worth.

2. Cut or tear each marshmallow into 4 to 6 pieces and place a piece in each muffin tin.

marshmallow

3. Spoon melted chocolate mixture on top of the marshmallows, filling each tin 1/2 way.

1/2 chocolate

4. Sprinkle crushed candy cane on top of chocolate.

canes

5. Spoon more chocolate mixture on top of the candy canes, filling each tin to the top.

filled tin

6. Insert sticks/spoons into the center of each tin.

sticks in tin

7. Move tin to refrigerator and let harden. I let might sit overnight, but 3 hours will work.

8. When the chocolate mixture has firmed up, take them out of the tin. If you used a silicone pan, you will be able to just turn them out. If you used a metal pan, the easiest way to remove them is to fill a baking sheet with really hot water and set the tin in it for about 30 seconds. This will loosen the chocolate up enough so that you can slide them out of the molds.

tin in water

9. Heat up a cup of milk and stir in your candy cane hot chocolate stick! And yes, I do drink my hot chocolate out of a well used George Michael mug. Ain’t no shame in that.

chocolate in cup

Near Misses

Here is how this whole project really went down. First, I tried using a silicone loaf pan as my mold. I made a batch with too little chocolate. They basically worked and tasted great, they just weren’t thick enough to fully cover and adhere to the wooden spoon. I had to stick the spoons in the chocolate spoon side up to make it work. Nothing says classy gift like one you can spot as flawed from across the room. I’m lucky I have a group of friends who are cool with getting my Near Misses as long as they taste good. Here is a shot of the too little chocolate version:

candy cane hot chocolate stick

The second batch I made in the silicone loaf pan – holy hell. I tried to do it while Bubba was napping and Sis and the husband were at a birthday party. I think I had stage fright or something with all that freedom. I melted 20 oz of chocolate and spread it across the bottom of the pan. Perfect. Sprinkled the candy cane on top. Perfect. Then the nightmare began. I thought I could melt more chocolate quickly. As it was heating up I realized I forgot to add the coconut milk. So, I let the chocolate melt and then added the coconut milk. It totally seized up and turned into some weird crumbly fudgy mess. And it wouldn’t remelt at all. It was done and I was out of chocolate. I had to emergency text the husband to bring home more chocolate. In the meantime, the chocolate in the pan was hardening. I couldn’t just let it all go to waste, so I stuck the wooden spoons in the two layers I had in the pan. When the husband got home I made a new batch of chocolate mix and spread it around the spoons using a small spatula. After it hardened, it came out of the pan with no trouble, but when I tried to cut it into individual portions it totally fell apart.

The third batch resulted in the recipe above and it was SO much easier in the individual pans. I thought I was doomed because my tin wasn’t silicone and I actually almost ordered a silicone ice cube tray, but I am glad I tried what I had on hand first!

 

 

 

Pretzel Buckeyes

Pretzel Buckeyes

When you are born and raised in Ohio, there are a few facts known to you that the rest of the country isn’t always aware of.  Fact One: Good people bleed scarlet and grey. Fact Two: Rivers can burn. Fact Three: Buckeyes come in two forms – poisonous nut AND delicious candy.

This post is all about the latter half of Fact Three. Every holiday season, true Ohioans buy powdered sugar in bags that can only be delivered by forklift and make insane amounts of buckeye candy. Peanut butter, powdered sugar, and chocolate. What could be wrong about that? Nothing. That is the answer. There is nothing wrong with the magic that is a buckeye candy.

Every Ohioan swears by the recipe their family has been using since the dawn of man…or at least since the dawn of peanut butter. A few years ago I ventured away from everyone’s grandma’s recipe and started using this Smitten Kitchen recipe. Cream cheese AND graham cracker crumbs in a buckeye? It was a risk, but I haven’t lived in Ohio in over a decade so I figured I could try something new and not be ostracized by the entire state. And let me tell you…cream cheese and graham cracker crumbs make for an even better buckeye candy.

This year, I decided to make my own modifications to the Smitten Kitchen recipe. I took out the graham cracker crumbs and added crushed pretzels. Holy hell these pretzel buckeyes are the best buckeyes ever. And that is coming from someone who had their first one pureed and fed to me through a bottle. I have YEARS of buckeye eating experience to back up my statement. So make these. Now. And then eat them. Immediately.

Ingredients (modified from Smitten Kitchen) – makes around 100 buckeyes depending on size.

  • 2 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 1.5 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup crushed pretzels – I pulsed them in the food processor until they looked like this:buckeye pretzels
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 10 tbs butter – melted and cooled
  • 16 ounces of dark chocolate chips
  • 2 tbs shortening
  • toothpicks or wooden skewers

How To

1. Beat cream cheese and peanut butter in an electric mixer until well mixed and creamy.

2. Add sugar and butter and mix until combined. (Start slow so you don’t shoot sugar all over the kitchen.)

3. Add the pretzels and mix until combined.

buckeye batter

4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

5. Make balls out of your peanut butter filling and place them on the parchment. They should be about the size of a quarter, but you aren’t cooking them or anything, so it doesn’t really matter.

undipped buckeye

6. Put the baking sheet in the refrigerator while you make the chocolate.

7. Melt your chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave.

8. Add shortening and stir in until it is all melted.

buckeye dip

9. Take the peanut butter balls out of the refrigerator.

10. Poke one ball with the toothpick and dip it in the chocolate until all but a dime sized circle on the top is covered.

dip buckeye

11. Put the ball back on the lined baking sheet.

12. Smush the toothpick hole closed with your fingers.

smush buckeye

13. Repeat the dipping process with each ball.

14. When all the candies have been dipped, put the baking sheets back in the refrigerator and let them chill until the chocolate is hardened.

dipped buckeyes

15. Store these in the refrigerator. Will keep for the 7 seconds it takes you to eat them all.

Near Misses

  • When you poke the peanut butter ball with the toothpick, be sure not to pierce through the bottom of the ball. If you do, the tip of the toothpick gets chocolate on it and it messes up the top of the final buckeye.
  • Make sure your fingers are clear of chocolate when you pinch the toothpick hole closed. Chocolaty fingerprinted buckeyes are the sign of a non-Ohioan and no one will want to eat your candies.
  • Yes, shortening is gross. We all know that. But, for real, it makes the dipping process and final product SO much better. Use it.
  • You will have extra chocolate left over. Not tons, but some. Enough to reheat, mix in some walnuts (for health), and eat off of graham crackers. Just sayin’.
  • Accidentally drop at least 4 in the chocolate while dipping them so you can spoon them out, call them failures, and eat them off the spoon.

Orange and Honey Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

honeyorangepumpkinseeds

After Halloween, I took the pumpkin seeds from our Jack-O-Lantern guts and made a snack so wonderful that I almost cried. And then died. And then cried again. I roasted the seeds, mixed them with honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, dried orange peel, and salt and baked the mixture until it was like a brittle. If you can imagine eating what Christmas smells like, that was it.

Of course, I totally eyeballed all the ingredients so when I went to recreate the magic it was no where close to as good. I spent the next week making batch after batch of orange and honey roasted pumpkin seeds, trying to figure out the original combination.  After much testing (and much snacking), I ended up with the recipe below.

Ingredients

pumpkin seed ingredients

  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 2.5 tbs honey
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp orange peel
  • 1/2 tsp salt

How To

1.Preheat over to 270 degrees. 270 seems like a bizarre number, but our oven is legally insane and that is the lowest it will go. Don’t ask.

2. Spread pumpkin seeds out on parchment (or silpat) lined baking sheet.

raw pumpkin seeds

3. Roast for 30-40 minutes, stirring the seeds up halfway through. This time frame is so wide because on days it is really wet out, it takes longer. It’s a Seattle thing. We have to cook around the weather.

4. Once the seeds are crispy and lightly browned, remove from oven and let cool.

5. Place the seeds in a bowl and add all the remaining ingredients.

6. Stir together.

stir seeds

7. Spread the mixture back on the same lined baking sheet. It is sticky so spread it out as best you can. Some clumps are fine.

spread seeds

8. Bake for 20 more minutes at the same temperature, stirring once in the middle. The honey will have softened more at the halfway point so that is a good time to spread out any of the big clumps that were uncooperative the first time.

9. Remove from oven and let cool.

10. Eat them until you make yourself sick. Or maybe this step is just for me.

Near Misses

  • If you increase the honey to 3 tbs, you will get a result that is much more candy like. Very delicious. It would be perfect to bag up and give to the neighbors as a gift.
  • If you decrease the honey to 2 tbs, you will get a very snackable treat. It would be great to set out for all the guests that stop by during the holidays. Not too imposing, but yummy.