Old-Fashioned Pumpkin Donuts

Old Fashioned Pumpkin Donuts You know that super simple, super quick “donut” recipe that’s been going around for a while? The one where you open a can of biscuits, poke a hole in the middle, then fry it up and call it a donut?

Well, this is kind of like that. Except we don’t do canned biscuits around here, so the biscuit dough is fresh from scratch. (SO easy!) Oh  yes, and it’s flavored with pumpkin and pumpkin spices so it’s perfect for fall weather. 

Think you like the sound of that? (I know I do!) Then head on over to Baking Whole Grains to get the recipe for my Old-Fashioned Pumpkin Donuts

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Honey Fondant: The Healthiest Easy Fondant Recipe You’ll Find Anywhere

I love making fun birthday cakes for The Boys – I actually really look forward to it from one birthday to the next! The problem is trying to balance cost, nutrition, and simplicity – those three things don’t always meet together and play nicely when it comes to cakes and decorative frostings! Fondant, in particular, seems to be a matter of expense, difficulty, and chemical-laden ingredients, yet it can turn out some of the cutest and most gorgeously decorated cakes.

However, for my Certain Little Someone’s fifth – yes, fifth! – birthday cake, I happened upon an amazing recipe for fondant that contained absolutely no chemical or processed ingredients. What’s more, all the ingredients were something I had in my cupboard already, and it was just as easy – or seemed to be – as any other fondant recipe out there.

A Healthy Fondant Recipe that’s Easy?

Here’s how I stumbled across this gem of a recipe:

  • My Certain Little Someone wanted Mario cupcakes for his birthday (which he later switched to Angry Birds). When I was browsing Pinterest for ideas, most of the ones he liked involved fondant, which I had never used before.
  • I took a gander at the ingredient list on the label of store-bought fondant. My eyebrows rose so high they practically rocketed off my forehead, and I hastily put the container back on the shelf and said, “No way!”. 
  • I found a healthy-ish recipe for marshmallow fondant, but when I priced the ingredients…. well, once again my eyebrows got a little too high and I reluctantly admitted that was not do-able. Those “healthy” marshmallows cost $4 a bag, and you need two for the recipe! Not to mention the cost of the healthier sugar/powdered sugar.
  • I started researching alternative fondant recipes – my goodness, there are a lot of different ways to make fondant! Who knew? Not me, that’s for sure. There was the original true recipe for fondant, which involved candy thermometers and boiling sugar water, which I decided against (way too complicated, plus I don’t have a candy thermometer). There were also a lot of recipes that called for strange ingredients I don’t keep on hand and didn’t really want to invest in anyway.
  • Then there were a whole variety of powdered-sugar based recipes, most of which involved corn syrup. I wondered if honey could replace the corn syrup (because that’s what I usually sub when corn syrup is called for in a recipe and it usually works well), but I didn’t want to risk it because I didn’t have the time to deal with it. I searched specifically for “honey fondant” wondering if someone else had tried it and if it worked.
  • Well, whaddya know?! I found a whole bunch of recipes for something that beekeepers feed their bees during the winter (no, thank you, I don’t have any bees) instead of more fondant frosting recipes… but there was ONE little precious gem of a recipe buried in all of that honey-bee stuff: Honey Fondant

I made it pretty much as written, except that I had to add significantly more powdered sugar than I was expecting. Like, I mean, significantly, she says with significance. I honestly don’t know how much powdered sugar ended up in this batch of fondant, but let me tell you it is way more than I have ever put in any one recipe any other time in my life.

So I decided that when it comes to fondant, your choice pretty much boils down to this: 

chemicals

or

sugar. 

Lots and lots  of sugar.

I’m glad I want with the sugar option because at least it’s something your body recognizes and knows what to do with. The chemicals are just scary, frankly – at least sugar is a known danger!

I haven’t made any other kind of fondant so I have nothing with which to compare it, but this seemed to be just as simple as any of the other recipes out there, and definitely simpler than the boiling sugar version. As long as you understand you might have to use a metric ton of powdered sugar, you’ll be OK.


A few ingredient notes:

  • The original recipe called for margarine – I would have used butter except that my Certain Little Someone is allergic to it. I considered using palm shortening but I wasn’t sure if that was a good sub or not (probably would be fine), so I opted to stick with the original recipe and use my Certain Little Someone’s “butter”, which is actually a coconut-based all-natural butter-like spread. I think either butter or palm shortening or some other similar margarine would work. Just don’t use the nasty chemical margarine.
  • The next time I make this, I’ll probably try starting with less liquid, maybe even half as much as is indicated here.
  • I made my own powdered sugar by processing raw sugar in my Vitamix. I wanted it to be pretty fine, or I would have gone with powdered sucanat or even coconut sugar. Either of those would probably work, but with the quantity used, it would get expensive fast.
  • The original recipe called for 800g of powdered sugar, which is just under 2 lbs. I’d definitely consider that a starting point! You’ll probably use more like 4 pounds, maybe even more, unless you adjust the liquid (if you do adjust the liquid, let me know how that goes!).

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Allergen-Free S’Mores Stars

This post originally appeared on my food allergy blog in 2011.  S'Mores Stars

These babies are a lot of work, but totally worth it for a spectacular Fourth of July celebration! Everything is made from scratch, except the chocolate, which is just melted chocolate chips. If you want to make these, plan on making the marshmallows first (giving them adequate time to set), then the graham cracker stars, and then assembling them.

I found the marshmallow recipe on Food.com, and made it pretty much as it described. I like that it’s also corn-free, which I think is healthier, and also great for those with corn allergies/sensitivities.

Corn-Free Marshmallows

Ingredients

  • 2 TBSP gelatin
  • 1 cup cold water, divided
  • 2 cups sugar (I used raw)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • powdered sugar or colored blue sugar
  1. Pour 1/2 cup water in a small bowl, and sprinkle with gelatin. Set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, stir together sugar and remaining 1/2 cup water. Cook over medium heat until dissolved, stirring constantly. When sugar is dissolved, add gelatin and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to keep it from sticking to the bottom. Remove from the heat, and pour into the bowl of a stand mixer; allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. Stir in salt and vanilla, then beat on high speed with the whisk attachment until fluffy and doubled in volume, about 10 minutes or so.
  4. Sprinkle sifted powdered sugar over the bottom of a 9×13 pan and pour marshmallow mixer into it, smoothing the top. Allow to set until you can touch the surface with your finger and it doesn’t stick.
  5. Using a greased spatula to help release it from the pan, turn marshmallow onto a surface sprinkled with either more sifted powdered sugar or colored blue (or red) sugar. Cut out stars with a metal star-shaped cookie cutter, dipping it into a bowl of hot water in between each cut. Roll each star in your sugar of choice until all surfaces are covered.

 

Blue S'Mores Stars For the graham cracker stars, I simply used my allergen-free graham cracker recipe and rolled and cut it into star shapes instead of squares. If you don’t need an allergen-free recipe, try this graham cracker recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

 

Allergen-Free Graham Crackers

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups sorghum flour mix
  • 1/2 cup turbinado (raw) sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 7 TBSP coconut oil
  • 3 TBSP cold water
  • 3 TBSP honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Whisk together dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add coconut oil and blend with pastry blender until mixture is crumbly.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and stir until dough can be manipulated into a soft ball, adding cold water 1 TBSP at a time if necessary.
  3. Cover dough and refrigerate one hour.
  4. Roll out half of the dough into a large rectangle between two plastic zippered bags (Rip the bags down the sides to form long sheets of plastic. This is sturdier than wax paper or plastic wrap). Leave it pretty thick, around 1/4″ or so. Peel off the top bag, and use a star-shaped cookie cutter to cut out stars. Continue until dough is gone.
  5. Place the stars on lightly greased cooking sheets and bake in a 325F oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the pan to cool on a wire rack.

 

S'Mores Stars Chocolate

1/2 cup safe chocolate chips

Melt the chocolate chips at in the microwave at 50% or 60% power, stirring every 15 or 20 seconds. Use immediately.

To Assemble:

Use a knife to spread a small amount (about 1 tsp or less) onto the surface of a graham cracker star. Immediately top with a marshmallow. Leave as is, or spread chocolate on another graham cracker star and place it on top of the marshmallow to form a complete sandwich. Allow to cool until the chocolate is set.

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Healthy Frozen Treats {Raising Healthy Families}

Welcome Back to the Raising Healthy Family Series! In this final installment,
Kelly at The Nourishing Home is sharing a healthy way to beat the heat of summer without compromising good nutrition.

Making your own homemade ice pops and frozen treats is so easy and it’s fun too! And best of all, you’ll feel good knowing that your
family is enjoying a healthy boost of wholesome nutrients in each and every yummy bite!

So be sure to join Kelly at The Nourishing Home as she helps us celebrate summer
with some delicious and nutritious real food frozen treats certain to bring a smile to your kids faces, while keeping the ice cream man at bay!

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Super Fast and Simple Football Cake

I think it’s kinda funny that I am writing a Super Bowl post, because I have absolutely no interest in the Super Bowl. Not even this year, when the local team actually has a shot at the big game. The honest to goodness truth is that I could care less about football. 

In fact, this cake has nothing to do with the Super Bowl. I actually made it for Tiger Cub’s second birthday a couple weeks ago, and am just now getting around to posting it, but I figured that was pretty good timing with the Super Bowl only a few weeks away. Around here, football fever is reaching an all-time high as the local fans get their hopes up, so it seems very fitting all around.

If, like me, the Super Bowl is not your thing, then perhaps you could find another use for this fun and simple cake. Maybe a child’s birthday? Father’s day? Little boy baby shower? Whatever the case, football is a fun theme and a super easy cake to make. 

Trust me. I don’t do hard cakes. This is pretty much as easy as they come.

The Cake

My standard birthday cake recipe hitherto has been one variation or another of the Wacky Cake because it doesn’t require eggs or butter. Up until recently, The Boys were allergic to those things, so I avoided them. My favorite version is the Mocha Wacky Cake - just double the baking time for this cake. If you prefer not to have a mocha flavor, just use water instead of the coffee.

But really, you can use whatever chocolate cake recipe you want. The more important thing is how you bake it.

To make the football shape:

  • Bake your cake recipe in 2 round pans.
  • When the cakes are removed from the pans and completely cooled, cut a 1″ wide strip out of the middle of each layer so that you have 4 half circles.
  • Slide two half circles together until they meet to form the bottom layer.
  • Frost the bottom layer liberally, then top with the remaining two half circles.
  • Voila! You have just made a football-shaped cake!

Told ya it was easy.

The Frosting

The frosting is also easy because you do not have to fool with food coloring. Because, as Matthew McConaughey said so eloquently in The Wedding Planner, “Chocolate’s already brown.”  Simply add a tablespoon of cocoa powder to the frosting recipe found here (or use your own favorite chocolate frosting) after you reserve about 1/4 cup of frosting for the laces. 

Cover the cake in a thin layer of frosting to seal in the crumbs. Allow it to set until it’s firm to the touch. Then fill a decorator’s bag with your frosting, fitted with a star tip. If you’ve never piped stars before, here’s a video I found that illustrates the process:

Pipe stars to cover the top of the cake. If you’re not into stars (although I think they give a nice professional finished look to the cake), just swirl the frosting on with a knife. You can frost the sides, too, if you want. I only didn’t because I was running out of time, but next time I probably would.

Once the football is covered with chocolate frosting, take the reserved plain frosting and place it in a decorator’s bag with the round tip. Pipe the lacing onto the top of the football. 

The Cake Balls

Now you know I can’t bear for any food to go to waste. Remember those strips of cake cut out of the middle of the circles?  There was no way I was going to throw away that deliciousness. Nope! I turned it into cake balls.

You can do the same: all you need is a little bit extra frosting and some chocolate chips to melt. Here’s the process.

  • Simply crumble the strips of cake into a bowl, then stir in frosting until you have a mixture that can be formed into balls. (You should get about a dozen.)
  • Place the balls on a cookie sheet and freeze until firm.
  • Melt 1 cup of chocolate chips with 1 TBSP of palm shortening (or other oil) over low heat until smooth.
  • Dip the frozen balls into the melted chocolate and then place on a sheet of wax paper to set.

If I’d had time, I would have experimented with piping helmet details onto the balls with white chocolate or frosting to turn them into little mini football helmets, but I ran out of time. If you give that a try, let me know! And take a picture so I can see. I think it would be super cute!

So there you have it… a super simple football cake for the Super Bowl, or your next birthday party. Fun and easy – I love it!

How do you feel about the Super Bowl?

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A Simple Christmas Tip #23 – Make No-Bake Cookies

If you want more information, click here or on the graphic itself to take you to a full-length post on the topic. Click here to see all the posts in this series.

Come back tomorrow for another quick tip to help you simplify your Christmas by focusing less on spending and more on celebrating.

Buy Healthy Snacks to Go eBook Recipes Online

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A Simple Christmas Tip #15 – Don’t Make Too Many Cookies

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A Simple Christmas Tip #13 – Keep Cookie Dough in the Freezer


If you want more information, click here or on the graphic itself to take you to a full-length post on the topic. Click here to see all the posts in this series.

Come back tomorrow for another quick tip to help you simplify your Christmas by focusing less on spending and more on celebrating.

Smart Sweets

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The Easiest Allergen-Free Birthday Cake Ever!

easy allergen-free birthday cake

Can you believe that my Certain Little Someone (who is getting woefully Bigger and Bigger each day, and is not so Little anymore) requested to have the same birthday cake at his fourth birthday party that he had for his second birthday party? Apparently, it made a big impression on him! Or maybe the spectacular fail of his third birthday cake made an even deeper impression (*snort*). In any case, I obliged and made him a replica of his second birthday cake decorations, but I did update the actual recipe a bit. 

Since his second birthday, I have been blessed to discover the wonders of spelt, and I knew that I just had to make his birthday cake out of spelt flour. Finally, a yummy-tasting, staying-together, not-so-crumbly cake that everyone – including the birthday boy – could enjoy. Yes! 

I am happy to be over at Baking Whole Grains today, sharing my super easy and almost-healthy allergen-free birthday cake recipe.

Find other interesting and informative posts at: Tip Me Tuesday, Trivium Tuesday, Mom’s Library, Titus 2sday, Teach me Tuesday, Hip Homeschool Hop, Titus 2 Tuesday, Delicious Dishes, Open Call Tuesday, Tiny Tip Tuesday, Healthy 2Day Wednesday, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, Works for me Wednesday, Women Living Well Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Whole Foods Wednesday, Allergen-Free Wednesday, Encourage One AnotherLife in BloomThought-Provoking ThursdaySimple Lives Thursday, Homemaking Link-UpTastetastic ThursdayKeep it Real ThursdayFrugal Thursday RewindHomeschooling on the CheapFellowship FridayFight Back FridayFeast in Fellowship FridayFrugal FridayI’m Lovin’ ItWeekend Bloggy ReadingSnacktime SaturdayShow & Share SaturdayWeekend WhateverMotivation MondayMom’s Monday MingleHomestead Barn HopThe Bulletin BoardBetter Mom MondaysNatural Living MondayTip Me TuesdayTrivium TuesdayMom’s LibraryTitus 2sdayTeach me TuesdayHip Homeschool HopTitus 2 TuesdayDelicious DishesOpen Call TuesdayTiny Tip Tuesday,

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A Sweet Treat for You – Whole Wheat Skillet Blondies

I honestly haven’t really been indulging my sweet tooth much lately, but that doesn’t mean I won’t share a treat or two with you, my friend. This particular one I made for a gathering a week or two ago, so I shared it with lots of other people and only had a tiny little piece myself.

Thank goodness, too, because it was quite delicious, and I’m pretty sure I would have eaten the whole pan if left to my own devices.

Moral of the story: sweet stuff is for sharing. If you’re going to make it, you’d better share it. 

So I’m sharing it with you today over at the Grain Mill Wagon. See ya there!

This post was made possible by WonderMill and the Grain Mill Challenge.

Sharing at  Titus 2sdayTeach Me Tuesday, Domestically Divine TuesdayTraditional TuesdayWomen Living Well Wednesday, Works for me WednesdayFrugal Days Sustainable Ways,Homemaking LinkUpWhole Foods WednesdayEncourage One AnotherThe Mommy Club, Simple Lives Thursday, Your Green ResourceFight Back FridayFriday Favorites

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