If there is one thing that I wish that I could always have as a treat every night, it would have to be some form of homemade candy. Who doesn’t love homemade candy? If you have ever had some homemade caramel, or candy bars, you will know exactly what I am talking about. Even the occasional store bought caramel popcorn can satisfy that craving, but really nothing is better then the happiness of eating fresh made, or more like fresh melted candy.
I remember my favorite candy shop in Santa Rosa, as a child was “Peter Rabbits” its out of business now, but its an experience every child remembers if they went there. Even my husband went there as a child and remembers how amazing it was, you could watch them make everything right in front of you and it certainly inspired an inner candy maker in me.
Who wouldn’t want to make their own candy? I have succeeded in conquering how to make some iconic sweet things like from scratch lemon meringue pie and even homemade apple pie, I even was taught once on how to make the best Kettle Corn homemade on the stove. But to be your own candy maker, now that would be amazing to me. To never have to buy a store bought candy, would be a dream come true; Seeing as we all love it and the organic candy is really expensive anyways.
So my goal lately has been to make my kitchen homemade sweet-candy central. I learned how to make my own gummies, and I even learned how to make my own caramel. The family loves my caramel. I am really proud to actually say that through my brief caramel endeavors that I have learned some vital temperatures by heart and know how to read a candy thermometer and a laser thermometer.
But my newest candy goal is the candy bar and ball area. I thought that last night I could succeed in making a peanut butter truffle like ball, but really its just a really good filling recipe for like the best homemade peanut butter bar or ball that you could make.
Unfortunately I did not measure and did not even try, so everything is a rough estimate on measuring. So do not worry if you use less or more of anything, to each its own on flavor, its just an idea that I just so happened to make from scratch and then consume.
Here is how I made the balls. I first reserved a handful of whole peanuts. I had a bag of whole unsalted from the food bank and it was the inspiration for this. I then started to puree some more about a cup of more peanuts when it was chopped really fine, I reserved that in a bowl set aside then I made homemade peanut butter with the rest of the peanuts. This is my third batch in a week or two so I am fairly happy with my recipe and execution of the way that I make it in my high speed blender.
After making the peanut butter I combined it with the following, the leftover pureed peanuts, the whole peanuts, a lot of powdered sugar and some melted butter. I combined it with an electric mixer and it crumbled well. I then made balls out of them and chilled them in the fridge overnight.
We cannot stop eating them balls. They are like sweet peanut butter my husband said. I just wish I had some chocolate to melt and dip them into and make peanut butter chocolate balls, maybe even top the chocolate with something. I am happy with the results only thing it needs is more.
I will post up the pictures of them as soon as I can. Although they are sugary, from the confectioners sugar, I love them, I think they taste like a Baby Ruth candy bar, without the nougat part. Once again I conquered making something without having an oven, no bake peanut’s 3 ways truffles were a success.
The other day I tried a new gluten free flour. I have not had the funds or the energy to search and pay for the gluten free flour mixes of our day right now, so I wait for them to come into the local food bank that I go to and I test them for free. If I ever had the money to buy gluten free flours I have tested most now and I am glad to say that I know which ones that I like and which ones that I do not like. I am not endorsed (yet) by any of these products, but I wanted to share my experience with baking with them.
I have personally recently tried coconut flour and now have tried banana flour and honestly I think that I like the consistency and taste of the banana flour better. I am honestly not a big fan of the taste of coconut, but I hear that its the cheapest gluten free flour to work with, so I have tried it.
I have made 4 recipes with the coconut flour and tried some that are on the internet and even some that I have made up myself. I can disguise the taste of the coconut flour with heavy vanilla flavor and even with some chocolate, but the overall taste of the flour is still in the aftertaste. And when cooking with the coconut flour it apparently ‘eats fat’ while it bakes, so it needed a whole hell of a lot of eggs to make anything properly moist and mixed right. So there is another reason why I did not like the coconut flour. However my mother enjoys coconut flour kind of cupcake and I made them for her the other day since she cannot eat gluten. But to each its own, I think she would like the banana flour also.
I enjoyed the banana flour better because it doesn’t have a very strong taste, or aftertaste. I made chocolate cake with an Australian recipe for paleo cake with it and I added a few ingredients. Here is the recipe I used and the link for the original will be posted afterwards. I added some sweeteners and converted some things into cups and figured out which degree to bake at, as the recipe listed in C. Also the recipe says cake, but the picture on the website made cupcakes instead, so I did the same. But I will still call it a cake also. here is the recipe I adapted it from.
140 grams of oil (5/8 of a cup) I used a kitchen scale to get the grams.
mix all the ingredients into 1 bowl well. Spoon into cake pan or cupcake tins and bake at 350 for 40 minutes.
Here are some pictures of the cupcakes that I made and the flour that I used. I am very happy with this flour and whenever I can afford more I would purchase this kind over coconut flour. I am not a celiac, I just love cooking new things for my son.
I learned some awesome things about banana flour also, its a resistant starch. Therefore it breaks down slower in your body, making you seem fuller longer. Its a great way to fill you up if your trying to diet or you need a great mid-day pick me up snack. Now that I learned about this kind of starch I will be adding it to my protein bars as well.
Sometimes the best thing to wake up to is Sunshine. Today I woke up to a very overcast day. I couldn’t stand it. So I decided to make my own sunshine. Sunshine muffins that is. Because ever since the first person made this kind of awesome muffins, they knew they wanted to wake up to them ever since. You can find versions of these kinds of muffins all over the internet. From names of Morning Glory and others and some even just plain ol’ carrot muffins.
But these muffins are unique. They have the perfect muffin base of all the breakfast muffins we love, oatmeal and brown sugar, and even some butter. They even have some healthy natural additions such as chopped dates, zante currants and raisins. And the best part of all, Raw carrots. I know that may sound crazy, raw carrots in a muffin, but bare with me.
Most breakfast sunshine muffins use carrots but need to have the use of a food processor. If you know me from Facebook, you would know that I broke mine, mere weeks after getting it as a present from my grandma for Christmas 2014, it sucks. But it hasn’t stopped me from making anything that requires one, in fact I do quite fine without one. Sorry NeeNee. I loved it too much..lol
Anyways I invented a few ways of getting around not having one. First off having a high speed blender that is glass works for a whole lot of things, but not in this case. I guess I could have pulverized the carrots in the blender but better minds prevailed. I had my son use the hard cheese grater to grate them. When grating fresh carrots you produce a stringy pulp that is perfect for muffins. Viola, by the help of 5 year old chef Elijah we had our ½ cup of fresh raw carrots and started making muffins.
I assembled the ingredients. I figured out a way to always know if I am adding everything. I put out all my jars and as soon as the ingredients are added I put the jars away, or on the floor. That way I know if I forget anything if its still sitting on the counter. I almost forgot milk this way but more on that in a sec. I put out the flour and the brown sugar, the salt and the baking powder. I put out the vanilla and poured some dried fruit into a bowl. I added 1 box of raisins, some zante currants, 2 handfuls of chopped dates.
I poured the last of my jar of oatmeal into a large bowl (about ½ a cup even though the original recipe called for 1 cup,) and started on the dry stuff. I had Elijah help me the whole way, this is a very kid friendly recipe. I have him help easier by assembling everything ready for him to pour into the bowls for me. So I had him pour the flour a half a cup at a time. Then the brown sugar. Then the salt, and baking powder. We mixed it all up and decided we wanted to add some spices to it.
He turned to me and said,
“ Spices make everything better.”
And I agree. He’s learning so fast.
So we added some nutmeg and some cinnamon to spice things up a bit. Elijah started singing,–
“Take a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, mixed with a little bit of this and a little bit of that…”
Ahh the cooking song.. we made it up cooking together, years ago, based off an old rap song… yea we are weird, but at least we are weird together.
Anyways, we then melted some butter. Actually, this is when he grated the carrots for me, while I was melting butter. I took a few pictures of him grating. To get a better shot I put the milk on the floor. By the time the butter was melted he was done grating and we had mostly everything ready. I cracked an egg into the cooled melted butter bowl and mixed well.
I had Elijah add everything into the dry bowl, the bowl of dried fruit, the wet egg and butter and the carrots and I started to mix with the electric mixer.. it was really dry. Oh yea the milk, I remembered I put the milk on the floor, and forgot to add a cup. So I grabbed the almond milk off the floor and added a cup, then the batter was perfect!
I had Eli line the baking tin with unbleached natural baking cups. I love them, they don’t leak bleach or dye into my baking. We spooned the batter into them about 2/3 full. Baked at 350 until a toothpick inserted comes out clean about 25 min for each batch.
They came out so good and sweet from the brown sugar and butter mixed in. And even better are full of grated carrot in every bite and yummy dried fruit.
Even without Mr. Sun out, we are enjoying the sunshine today with our Sunshine muffins. Here is the recipe and such. Sorry for all the commentary, I love baking with my son.
Carrot Date Muffins aka Sunshine muffins
Baking equipment you will need:
Bowls to mix
Electric mixer (hand held is fine)
1 cup oats
1 cup flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 of a teaspoon nutmeg
¼ of a teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup grated raw carrots
½ cup dried fruit
I use raisins, dates and currants.
1/3 cup butter melted and cooled
1 cup almond milk
½ teaspoon vanilla
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Line your baking tin with cupcake liners.
Mix dry well, mix wet well.
Mix wet with dry ingredients.
Add additions to your wet and dry mix, mix well.
Spoon into cupcake liners 2/3 full.
Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Let cool on cooling rack for 5 minutes.
Enjoy your sunshine muffins. Made about 10 for us!
Sometimes you just need a little sunshine in your life. =) ❤
I wanted to make something sweet for Elijah and I. Since we are really low on regular White sugar, I decided to not use much at all and figure out how to naturally sweeten without much sugar. I know how to do that very well normally. Today I used grated steamed carrot and beets. I made about a ½ a cup grated “Pulp”. I added a teaspoon of brown sugar to help it be sweet and mixed it well in a bowl. I added about 2 tablespoon white sugar, for the whole batch we only used 3 tablespoons sugar. I added about 1/3 of a cup of shortening and 2 small eggs. ( I am sure any size eggs will work.) that was my wet mix. I made a dry mix of white flour some spices and baking soda and a dash of cream of tartar. I also added some organic Zante currents I had into the mix. I mixed the wet with the dry and spooned into baking tins and bleach free baking cups.
Here are a few pics of the muffins.
1 ½ cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ a teaspoon cream of tartar
dash of cinnamon and nutmeg to taste
1/3 cup shortening
3 tablespoons sugar
½ cup pulp
¼ cup currants
(for pulp, you can use just about anything, pumpkin, applesauce and other fruits would work, I think.)
You can definitely use the leftover “pulp” after juicing for this recipe.
Mix your dry mix together well, mix your wet mix together well. Add wet to dry and mix well. Spoon unto muffin cups, lined or oiled and bake at 350 until toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 15-18 min.
I frosted them with some leftover butter cream frosting, and topped with more currants. They are like a healthy carrot-beet cake. Yummy!
I think I may have a bar obsession. I think that having protein, natural fruit sugars and even veggies in a hand held granola- breakfast bar is just about the most convenient food for me. Being constantly busy taking care of my family ie husband, dog and 5 year old, keeps me looking for the most healthy convenient food I can get my hands on. And if it packs a punch of protein, well that’s all the better. That means whatever sugar is infused into it will not only be paired with a healthy carb like most bars are, I get some protein to go with it. Here’s to some long lasting energy!
I swear that before I moved to the lost coast, I tried a whole lot of bars from whole foods and my local health food markets. I’ve taste tested quite a few that I developed a little bit of a spoiled taste for them. But selfishly Getting Lara bars and chocolate veggie bars everyday for a snack at jr college, was a big dent on the food stamps and that’s family food money.
Once I moved to Fort Bragg, CA, I stopped buying convenient food. Not that I couldn’t afford it, its just that I couldn’t even dare be selfish with the food stamps and buy single packaged food that only I liked. So, I started buying the ingredients that I saw inside the granola bars and breakfast bars that I enjoyed. Gluten free flour, dried fruit,honey,almond butter, bananas, dates…even my favorite dried cereals.. this is where the fun began.
I started doing research on making homemade granola bars. Who would have thought that simply brown sugar, peanut butter and cereal would be an amazing granola bar.
I tried it many different ways and came to find that brown sugar is way too dense of a sugar to be working with.
I tried working with honey and maple syrup instead. Those are interesting with a nut butter, and dried cereal and even fresh fruit.
After a while my taste buds could detect the high amounts of sugar in the granola bars and it was making me sick, I missed the veggie bars and fruit bars. The natural sugar in the dried fruit was a perfect energy kick for the middle of my day and working and taking care of business. Making sugary syrupy granola bars at home are great if I am trying to replace the Quaker Oats sugary granola bars they sell in the store in the kids section, but not for my house.. we don’t eat those things.
So I stopped making them. I started to realize that it wasn’t that I was missing anything in my bars.. it was I was putting too much.. so I stopped adding sugar or syrup. And I started using only exclusively fruit and nuts. Granted Lara bars are easy to make if you have a high speed blender or food processor and they are plenty of copycat Lara bar recipes out there.. I found a ton here.
The biggest thing that I had trouble with in those various recipes was weather or not to add water to your dried fruit paste before you make it into a bar.. the wetter your dried fruit, the wetter the bar, and I hate having to freeze a granola bar, or even keep it wrapped up and cold.. I just want a fruity yummy veggie bar.. that you can hold in your hand without it falling apart and it chewy and sweet without sugar..
I found the answer to my prayers here,.. it wasn’t a recipe its a formula. And the formula works.
It turned out the answer to the bar I am looking for is called a protein bar and people make them before they go to work out, with protein powders and even kelp powder to add minerals and vitamins. I realized what I wanted was definitely not a granola bar, its a protein packed breakfast-workout bar that is basically a meal replacement, when you really need it. I found some recipes that even have hidden protein like white beans and almond butter…
I started to make more protein bars that resembled blonde brownies but tasted like veggie bars.. here are some examples..
I think that the best way to make protein bars now are without syrup, or sugar and using fruit sweeteners such as banana and dates and raisins and other dried fruit. Brown sugar is for sure a cop out when it comes to trying to make a granola bar,…not the most healthy choice but it works well. If your willing to learn the formula for protein work out bars and tweak it yourself.. you will thank me in the long run.
Because you never know when your too busy to cook, and or are going to be hungry while your out. And no one wants to even think about the option of fast food for convenience anymore, so make your own replacement meal bar and formulate your favorite kind for on the run.
I have also found some interesting baked oat bars and or cakes that qualify my criteria..and I will try and keep these recipe list updated as I go.. please feel free to comment with more recipe links if you have some similar..