Homemade Pumpkin Coffee Spice and Paleo Pumpkin Muffins

Do you enjoy pumpkin spice coffees but don’t want all the chemicals and corn syrup? You don’t have to miss out on this favorite seasonal treat; consider making your own spice blend!

I started this kick by accident two years ago when I was grinding a special spice blend for my Pfeffernusse Shortbread Cookies  in my coffee grinder and forgot to clean it out. Next time I made coffee it had this wonderful spice that brought me right back to Yuletide in Norway. So I started making more and putting a pinch in my coffee in the morning all winter long.

Just this morning I was lamenting the fact that I can no longer enjoy Pumpkin Spice coffee drinks when I go out (I have been lamenting this seasonally for years now), since the syrups are full of corn syrup and other artificial flavors. I love Autumn, I love pumpkins and I love pumpkin spice everything this time of year! So I decided to make my own spice blend!

I have been enjoying Teecino as an alternative to coffee, it is an herbal coffee comprised mostly of ground roasted roots, like chicory and dandelion and nuts as well as dates and carob. The one I get is called Dandelion Vanilla Nut and it is 100% gluten free (unlike some of their other flavors). This lends itself nicely to the spice blend that I created, making a delicious, warm and seasonal beverage!

Of course no gourmet coffee experience is the same without a nice delicious treat to go along side, so here is also another recipe from Practical Paleo for Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Cranberries! The perfect healthy Autumnal treat!

Pumpkin Coffee Spice Blend:

INGREDIENTS:

2 tsp whole cloves
2 allspice berries
½ star anise
2 tsp cardamom
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon

METHOD: Place all ingredients in a coffee grinder and pulse until ground. Don’t worry about cleaning out the grinder!  Makes about 6 servings, use about ¼ tsp of spice blend per cup of coffee. Place spice mixture in the coffee filter with your coffee grounds for brewing.

Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins adapted from Practical Paleo

INGREDIENTS:

3 eggs
¼ cup canned pumpkin
¼ cup butter or coconut oil melted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 TBS pure maple syrup
1/3 cup coconut flour
Pinch of salt
¼ tsp baking soda
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
¼ cup fresh cranberries

METHOD:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix all ingredients (except cranberries) in a large mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer. Then gently fold in the cranberries. Scoop evenly into a muffin pan (line pan or use a silicon muffin pan). Bake for 35-40 minutes. Serves 6.

Versatile Smoothie Recipe

This recipe is kitty approved!

I have been posting a lot recently on my Facebook Page about my post workout Pumpkin Smoothies and those posts have created quite a buzz! I am a huge pumpkin freak and I enjoy it all year long – seems like a lot of you are too! I don’t know what I enjoy better, my workouts or these smoothies afterwards- the best of both worlds! This smoothie is great way to get in some extra grain-free carbohydrates, fat and protein post workout.

That said, many times when I post a specific recipe, I get a lot of great comments like: “can I substitute Y ingredient for X ingredient?” or “I wish I could make that, but I don’t consume X ingredient” or “I wish I could make this but I don’t know where to get X ingredient” or simply “I don’t like X ingredient”. You get the gist…so although I will post my awesome pumpkin smoothie with options and add ins, I will also give you ideas for entirely different smoothie recipes. This is mix and match folks! :)

This is your smoothie recipe – easy to tailor to your tastes and needs. I give some suggestions, but feel free to improvise. Like chocolate? Add a TBS or two of fair trade cocoa powder (no sugar added). Don’t do sugar? Try stevia, or fruit sweetened smoothies – dried dates are great for this. Want to make it a greenie? Add a handful of spinach or kale. The possibilities are endless!

Here are some of my recent combinations:

raw milk, pumpkin, 1/2 banana, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and a little stevia
raw milk, egg, pumpkin puree, almond butter, cinnamon and molasses
coconut milk, avocado, cocoa powder, cinnamon, maple
kefir, soaked almonds, dried dates/figs, frozen berries, vanilla extract

This smoothie recipe is so versatile you can enjoy it for breakfast, a snack, dessert or part of any meal when you need an extra boost.

INGREDIENTS: per smoothie (@ 16 oz)

Base liquid: 1 cup liquid – Kefir, Raw Milk, Coconut Milk are good choices
Thickener: 1 banana – I also like using instead 1/2 avocado
Nuts: 3 TBS almond butter – you can use any other nut butter or a handful of soaked nuts – I usually use almonds – click here to understand about the benefits of soaking nuts
Sweetener: 1 TBS 100% pure maple syrup, honey or molasses or 1/8 – ¼ tsp or one or two dried dates (optional)
Optional add ins: ¼ cup of pumpkin puree, 1/4 yogurt, 1/4 berries, 2 TBS cocoa powder, kale or spinach, dash of cinnamon, 1 shot of espresso or ¼ cup of coffee, 1 TBS coconut oil, raw pastured raised chicken egg (do not use conventional eggs from the grocery store), vanilla extract, powdered ginger, nutmeg, etc.
Ice

METHOD:
Place all the liquids in your blender first. Then add the fruit, butters, oils and nuts and then the cinnamon. Process on medium speed until well mixed, then start adding ice, a handful at a time, gradually, until the smoothie is at your desired consistency. I usually turn up the speed to high during the ice process. Pour and enjoy!

Mother’s Day Brunch

 

(mom and me)

 

I know I am a little late with this. Mother’s Day has come and gone for this year. But I have had some things on my mind. For the past month or so, when it comes to blogging, I have been standing on my soapbox, discussing issues related to food, that are close to my heart – body image, omnivorism, homesteading, food sovereignty… But I am back to recipes now, and even though I made this for Mom on Mother’s day, this would be a great menu for any Sunday brunch and why not have one this weekend?

Baked Homegrown Eggs with Local Mushrooms, Goat Cheese and White Truffle Oil
Local Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
Local Maple Sausage Patties
Grain-free Coffee Cake
Homemade Yogurt and Berries with Maple
Fresh Brewed Coffee with Local Cream
Pear Bellini

I was blessed this Mother’s Day to have my mom in my company. See, she lives in Florida, and with us in Vermont, it isn’t easy to get together to celebrate all the special days in the year. But this year she decided to come to visit us for Mother’s Day and I wanted it to be special and memorable. I searched all around for a local place doing the typical nice Mother’s Day Brunch buffet, but was disappointed with the offerings. I was lamenting this on facebook, and someone suggested I make brunch myself, and that is exactly what I ended up doing. It ended up being great!

 

(Grain-Free Coffee Cake from The Spunky Coconut)

I recently purchased a copy of The Spunky Coconut Grain-Free Baked Goods and Desserts: Gluten Free, Casein Free, and Often Egg FreeHealthy Diet Cooking Books) and I was really excited to try some baked goods. Kelly, the author, and The Spunky Coconut herself, uses a lot of white beans in the base of her baked goodies. Since I like to cook as grain free as possible, this really intrigued me. It has literally been YEARS, since I had a coffee cake, but I used to love them, so I decided to try Kelly’s grain free version. The cake was delicious and power-packed with nutrients– between the beans, the eggs and the nuts, it is full of good for you goodness, but not at the expense of flavor or texture – one of the biggest issues I have had with gluten-free baking. The only thing I would change about the recipe is to cut the amount of nuts. It was a bit too crunchy, where we would have preferred cakey.

 

(Baked Homegrown Eggs with Local Mushrooms, Goat Cheese and White Truffle Oil)

The other main dish I prepared was a baked egg dish with eggs from our sweet hens, chanterelle and local oyster mushrooms, fresh chives from the garden and local goat cheese, all drizzled with the last of the white truffle oil we got in Italy, while with Roberto’s mom. It seemed a fitting way to honor her in the meal, even if she couldn’t be with us to share it.

We also had roasted potatoes, maple sausage from Applecheek Farm delicious locally roasted brewed coffee from Barista’s Beans, and homemade yogurt with local blueberries and currants (both harvested last year and frozen for winter eating), drizzled with local maple syrup and to top it all off, pear bellini (sparkling wine/champagne and pear nectar).

 

(Farmchic Tablescape)

It was an elegant (for us!) and casual brunch all at once and we had a lot of good laughs and enjoyable conversation all together. We had flowers on the table and fresh linens, which is about as fancy as we get here on the homestead!

Grain-Free Coffee Cake from The Spunky Coconut

Set oven to 325 F

Add to food processor:
2 cups of room temperature cooked beans – navy or great Northern.
6 eggs
¾ tsp vanilla liquid stevia *
1 tsp vanilla extract*
1/3 cup honey*
*I didn’t have the liquid stevia, so instead I just used a little extra honey with the vanilla extract
Puree well

Add:
¼ cup coconut oil, liquefied
1/3 cup coconut flour
½ tsp sea salt
¾ cup baking soda
1 ½ tsp baking powder
Puree well, pour batter into a greased 9×13 pan

Crumble Topping:
Puree:
3 cups walnuts (I used soaked almonds, since I am allergic to walnuts, and next time I think I will use @2 cups instead)
2 TBS ghee or coconut oil
½ cup coconut sugar
1 TBS cinnamon
Spread the crumble over the top of the batter. Using a fork or knife, really swirl the topping into the batter, and pat the topping down. Bake for about 25 minutes. Great hot, or cold from the refrigerator, store in the fridge.

Baked Homegrown Eggs with Local Mushrooms, Goat Cheese and White Truffle Oil

INGREDIENTS:
2 large fresh oyster mushrooms
A palm full of reconstituted dried chanterelle mushrooms
2 TBS butter
2 TBS fresh chives
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
5 large fresh eggs
¼ cup crumbled goat cheese
Salt & pepper
1 TBS white truffle oil

METHOD:
Preheat oven to 350 F. In a medium sized cast iron skillet sauté the mushrooms with the butter. Add one TBS of the chives. Sprinkle grated parmesan cheese on the bottom of a silicon round cake pan. Scramble eggs in a separate bowl with salt and pepper, add the sautéed mushrooms and chives to the eggs and then pour into the cake pan and sprinkle with crumbled goat cheese. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until the egg is cooked and drizzle with the truffle oil.

Decadent Chocolate Cake and Goat Milk Ice Cream

chocolate-cake_ready-to-eat

How good does that sound? Unfortunately I did not serve these items together, but I wish I had! They would have been perfect together. I have been meaning to post the cake recipe for over a month now. I made it for my cousin Michelle’s birthday. She is a well known chocoholic, and so I knew I wanted to make a super chocolate birthday cake for her to celebrate! Sweets for the sweet!

The recipe was based on one from Peanut Butter and Julie’s Blog (thanks Julie!).

chocolate-cake_making-the-cake

The recipe calls for melting chocolate in hot strong coffee! What a revelation! This was a perfect way to really up the ante and flavor profile of the cake. I used nothing below 75% cacao chocolate and I substituted extra virgin coconut oil and blood orange salt to add to the underlying flavor as well . I made a 9-inch round cake and layered the cake with leftover cream cheese icing that I had frozen when I made too much for the wedding cake and then topped it with crushed hazelnuts. It was totally a success! I am not much of a chocolate lover, but I really loved this cake. I reduced the amount of sugar from 3 CUPS to 3/4′s of a cup – resulting in a deep chocolate flavor without an overly sweet taste.

tamarind-ice-cream-in-cup

As for the ice cream, I mentioned in my last post that I have switched over almost exclusively to goats milk. My friend Judy at No Fear Entertaining told me a long time ago that she had made an awesome chocolate pudding using goats milk, so it inspired me to try goats milk in my desserts. Normally when making ice cream, I don’t put eggs in the base as a shortcut and time saver. But this time I decided I really wanted a creamy custard, so I used both goats milk and cream, as well as eggs. I added a bit of crushed cardamom pods while the vanilla bean was steeping in the milk/cream. It added a really rice flavor and I think enhanced the vanilla flavor of the ice cream. The consistency was good, but it was very rich. I think next time, I will skip the cream and just go with the eggs and goats milk.

Recipes below the cut…

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Food Candy Fame!

My Kitty is Famous! :)

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I sent her picture in to my good friend Lisa’s blog, Lisabeeen, where she features a Coffee Critter of the day.

Moo was today’s Coffee Critter and she was featured on the front page of FoodCandy!

Check it out!

Happy New Year everyone…and a Happy (belated) Birthday…to me!

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Every year, right around the holidays, I turn a year older (don’t I look so much older and wiser here snapping this poor green bean?!). Since most of my family has migrated to Florida over the past 10 years, we now make a point to celebrate birthdays together. Since my birthday is in December, right around the holidays, I usually save my family party for a time when most of my relatives are here – from Florida and from out of state. So in between Christmas and New Years and MOVING, we put this shindig on – nothing is getting in the way of a party with good food. So this year we celebrated my birthday on January 1st – New Year’s Day. Per tradition, the birthday person, (in this case, me) gets to choose the menu. The weather has turned a bit cold here in The Sunshine State and so I was after more hearty fare.

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I chose an Armenian Vegetable Stew, called Kharn Panchareghen, out of one of my favorite cookbooks called Secrets of Cooking: Armenian/Lebanese/Persian which is an Armenian, Lebanese and Persian cookbook, written by the sister of one of my mom’s friends. The stew was delicious. I added some Kalamata olives, dried prunes and about a ¼ TBS of ground cinnamon to the original recipe. I also opted for canned plum tomatoes as opposed to fresh, as tomatoes are out of season right now and not very flavorful. It was rich in flavor and the secret touches of sweetness really intrigued the palate. We served the stew with Rice Pilaf, Naan bread and Greek Salad.

Then there was the question of the cake. Now this next picture looks kinda weird, but don’t be scared…there is a story, rest assured.

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I am not normally a chocolate person, usually opting for spice cake or carrot cake on my birthday, but I saw Giada make chocolate espresso brownies recently. I LOVE espresso. My mom had given me a bundt cake pan shaped like a giant octopus (I know I am weird, I love octopi) and so a plan for chocolate chip espresso bundt cake with an espresso glaze came to life. My mom wanted to decorate the cake all in waves and pretty icing, but since I am not partial to icing, I requested just a glaze. Hence a pretty much unadorned Octopus cake. But it was good. :)

Now for the recipe:
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Daring Baker’s Challenge: Yule Log

Happy Yule Everyone!

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Yule is a celebration of the Winter Solstice. It marks the longest night of the year and celebrates the re-birth of the sun and longer days to come after the darkness of winter. Christmas was transplanted onto winter solstice some 1,600 years ago, centuries before the English language emerged from its Germanic roots. The tradition of burning a Yule log is to celebrate light itself and the lightening of the days thereafter. Personal faults, mistakes and bad choices are burned in the flame so everyone’s New Year can start with a clean slate. You never burn the entire log, you save a piece for next year to start the next Yule Log. Traditionally on the eve of the Winter Solstice, at midnight, you turn off all your lights or candle lights and everyone takes a moment to sit in the dark and reflect on the darkness, then at 12:01 everyone lights their own candles, turns on all the lights and gives thanks to the sun and its life sustaining power.
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Holiday Treats From Faraway Places

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I recieved this lovely little package from my friend Cris at From Our Home To Yours. Cris blogs from Brazil and she knows how much I love coffee, so one day she told me that she’d send me some coffee from Brazil someday. Well it arrived here the day before my birthday! Which was perfect! Not only did it include the delicious coffee, but also a beautiful kitchen towel that her mom made and a beautiful ornament made by the Native people of Brazil. This little gift was so thoughtful and really touched my heart!

Not only do Cris and I share the love of food, but we are also both former AFSers. We were both exchange students through the same program years ago. She went to Maryland, in the US (My home state) and I went to Norway. The internet sure can be a small world!

Feliz Natal to you Cris and all your family! Thank you for being so sweet.