Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Time to Monkey Around!

I will always, and I mean always, remember Christmas with my mom and being a little girl helping her roll balls of dough through some amazingly fragrant cinnamon and sugar mix. Then you got to plop them into a waiting bunt cake pan and sprinkle in some brightly colors candied cherries and wait for it to bake. When it came out, we could barely wait and would sometimes singe our little fingers in eager anticipation of popping the ooey-gooey goodness into our mouths.

Well, thanks to the no dairy lifestyle change, that good old recipe looked to be going right out the Christmas tradition window. Bummed? You betcha!

This year though, I pulled myself up by the bootstraps, looked over the old tried and true recipe, and altered it here and there to make it something I could actually eat again. Now, I am happy to say, it's game on for the good old Monkey Bread recipe. What I am sharing with you is my dairy free recipe with some adjustments that make it far easier for my body to digest and enjoy at the same time. Sorry, but the family recipe is staying under wraps ;)

Have fun with this!!  My oldest and I certainly did. Amazing how much faster these things are to create with some extra little hands wanting to get in on the fun.

What You're Going to Need

1 large glass bowl, 1 large mixing bowl, a clean tea towel, 2 large shallow bowls, a few small bowls, a glass bowl with lid with a 2+ cup capacity, a hand mixer, large spatula, small sauce pan, bunt cake pan, measuring cups, cookie sheet lined with foil, clean counter or flat surface for kneading, cooling rack, and large dish.


2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup very warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/3 cup coconut oil, refined. Unrefined may add a coconut flavor to end result.
1 can coconut milk. Do not sub in with a lite coconut milk. I used the Thai brand. It comes out to 1.5 cups.
1/2 cup (or what is needed to add to coconut milk)  rice or almond milk, make sure it is an unsweeted and unflavored variety.
1tsbp apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1tbsp ground flax seed mixed with 3 tbsp tepid water (Make sure to mix in a small bowl a few minutes before adding into the rest of the ingredients)
7 to 7 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Sugar Mix
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon.
7 dashes of  ground nutmeg     
8 dashes of ground cloves
1/2 cup candied or dried dates chopped
1/2 cup dried cherries

1/2 cup raisins, brown or golden will work either way


1.Prep your milk by mixing the coconut milk with the almond or rice and the tbsp of apple cider vinegar. Wisk together in a glass bowl, cover with a lid and allow to meld together in the fridge for about an hour. This is replacing buttermilk in the old fashioned recipe so you want that tangy thickness this will become.
2. In a very large bowl, mix yeast, water and sugar; let stand about 5 minutes. I find that metal bowls work really well for a yeast prep and highly recommend you use one if you have it.

3. In a small saucepan melt coconut oil over low heat; add milk mix until it is warmed (105 to 110 degrees F). Make sure to not go hotter or you will kill off the yeast when it comes time to combine, or add onto your wait time in between steps.

4. Add to yeast mixture along with salt, baking soda, ground flax seed mix and 3 cups of the flour.  Mix smooth and then beat for 2 minutes. Get ready to use your hands for the next step. 

5. Work in with your hands 3 1/2- 4 cups of the remaining flour to make a soft dough that comes away from the sides of the bowl Start with 3 and add a half cup as you go.  Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface (use some of the remaining flour) and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, kneading in just enough of the remaining flour to make a smooth, fairly soft, pliable dough.  

I feel the need, the need to knead....

6. Put dough into a coconut oil greased large bowl and turn once to bring greased side up.  

Cover bowl with a damp hot tea towel and let dough rise in a warm place (about 70 to 75 degrees F) for just about 1/2 hours, or until dough is double in size.  (Yeah, it kinda tripled on me so keep an eye on this!)

Punch down dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead about 2 minutes then place back into its bowl to keep it contained and within easy reach. 

7. In a wide shallow bowl, mix sugar, and spices together, then in another wide and shallow bowl have the melted coconut oil ready.

I also had my fruits in separate smaller bowls so we could sort of assembly line the process. Worked out so nicely!

 dried cherries

candied dates


8. Butter a 10 inch, 18 cup capacity tube pan.  

I have a pretty fluted bunt pan but the tradition smooth sides works just as well!

Pinch off walnut sized pieces of dough and form into balls.  Roll each ball into the melted oil and then in the sugar-cinnamon mixture.   Arrange a single layer of balls in the bottom of the tube pan. Sprinkle the fruits around the top of this layer.  

Add another layer of dough balls and again sprinkle the dried fruits over this layer.  Pan will be slightly over half full.  Cover and let rise until pan is full (about 30 to 40 minutes).  

Heat oven to 350 .  Place on a foil lined cookie sheet to catch any potential spill over. Bake 45 min-1 hour until golden brown.    
9. Turn bread onto a cooling rack and if it seems very pale, return to pan and bake 15 minutes longer (If top seems brown enough, cover loosely with foil).  Turn out bread onto a rack and cool at least 15 minutes. Transfer to your large dish of choice to display and serve.  Serve warm, letting each person pull off pieces of the bread.

Om, nom, nom to the full extent! 

Hint: If you over baked it and it got dry, you can remedy this with a sugar water spray like what some bakers do to cakes. Just do a little bit at a time though!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Swirly, Whirly, and Fun DIY Ornaments

Family Craft: Paint Swirl Ornaments

If anyone is bopping around on Pinterest, you are sure to come across variations of this particular 
project. Good news is, it actually works! We first did these about 4 years ago and they are still going strong. Working on the first round definitely helped me figure out a few things to make the experience a little better.

1.First of all, save money and just get the plastic ones you can find in a craft shop. Makes it much easier with handling, especially if you have little hands helping.

2.Get a few empty water bottles ready for the drying process. First use a scissor to vent the upper portion of the water bottle to create air flow, and then pour in some rice at the bottom to help pull out moisture from the paint since rice is a natural desiccant.

3. The metallic acrylic paint really does give the best results, especially when hung in the tree. The lights help show off the flecks in the paint.

4. Make sure to have painters tape on hand to cover the opening of the ornament. This will also keep paint from going everywhere when a little helper gets very excited!

How to do it-

Choose about 2-4 colors you want to have swirled in the ornament. Too many colors will start to create a muddied look. I tend to err on 3 for mine.

Carefully add about a teaspoon worth of each color into the ornament and then cover the opening w the masking tape.

For best results, first roll the ornament around to get the paints to work their way up to the opening. Then just tap and shake to spread the paint out. If you need to add more color, do so a few drops at a time.

When the ornament is as covered as you would like, take off the painters tape, turn upside down and place on the opening of the ornament into the opening of the empty water bottles. Allow a good few days to really make sure the paint dries fully before recapping the ornament.

You can tie a pretty ribbon into the hanging loop or use a pipe cleaner. Really those options are endless. Just make sure to store them safely away in cardboard box with some breathing room. Plastic boxes can actually get the paint running if there is any presence of moisture.

So that's it! Have fun and enjoy :) 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Addictive Dip that's Good for You and Full of Flavor!

Again, this is one of my recipes shared on my newsletter back in June, but with all the holiday parties coming up, I thought it would be a great one to revive and put here. It's another dairy and egg free recipe but everyone kept going back for more regardless of diet restrictions!

The first step of this recipe is actually for my go to mayo alternative. It is an awesome sandwich spread and is best when nice and fresh. The second step is what changes it over into a very savory dip. If you have no issues with eggs, then you are free to skip the first part and just move along to the second to keep it dairy free. I suggest making it a few hours before the big event for best results.

Egg and Dairy Free Mayo
Ingredients: 1 cup coconut oil, 2 tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tsp lemon juice (or 1/2 tsp for less of a tang), 1 tbsp ground flax seed, dash of sea salt.
All ingredients need to be at room temp for the best emulsification and only use a stick blender for this. Do not use beaters or a blender/food processor since it will not give the right consistency, beaters end up lumpy and blender/food processors will just mangle the texture entirely.
In large bowl add in all the ingredients then mix w. stick blender. Stop once mixture looks like mayonnaise and the coconut oil is no longer lumpy. Do not over blend and when adding to other recipes fold it in gently. Store in an air tight container in the fridge if you are not going to use all the mayo. Keep in mind though, this will become more like butter in texture since the coconut oil hardens in cooler temps. It still has a great flavor and works well as the outside spread for toasted/grilled sandwiches or panini.
French Onion Dip
1/2 cup Egg and Dairy Free Mayo
1 can chilled coconut milk- cannot be the light kind, you want the thick white cream that is at the top of the can. Thai and Golden Star unsweetened varieties works best. It must also be chilled to get best consistency. You will not need the remaining clear viscous liquid, if there is any, in the can.
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 cup minced Vidalia onion
1 tsp powder beef bullion (must be beef not chicken)
1/2 tsp garlic powder- not garlic salt!
3 dashes of black pepper
1. In large bowl, beat just the cream part of the coconut milk. Do not use the remaining clear viscous liquid usually found under the cream. Beat at medium speed until light and fluffy and about double its original size.
2. Add in all the seasonings except minced onions and mayo, and blend well. Then w. a spatula gently fold in the minced onions and mayo. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Before serving allow to get closer to room temp and whip it up again with a fork for a few strokes. 

Dairy and Egg Free Turkey Meatballs

I originally shared this recipe in my November 2014 newsletter but wanted to share it here as well.

Probably one of the biggest bummers was when I had to cut out red meat from my diet. Yeah, I can cheat and have some here and there, but being able to chow down on my mom's incredible meatballs are pretty much a thing of the past. But, perseverance and some meatball making know how helped me create this super yummy recipe. Don't let the applesauce throw you since it's a big help for keeping these bites of goodness moist and tender. The first time I made them up and included them in my homemade sauce, I felt like I was finally getting a great pasta and meatball dinner again. 


1 large vidalia onion
8 large cloves of garlic
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp sea salt
1 chicken bullion cube
1 box Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs
⅓ cup ground flaxseed
⅓ cup water added to flaxseed
1 stalk celery
3 lbs turkey
⅓ cup applesauce


Preheat oven to 350

In food processor chop down onion, garlic and celery until fine in texture. Dump into a large bowl. In a small bowl combine chicken bouillon cube crumbled down, flaxseed and water. Allow to sit until it thickens. Add turkey, then panko crumbs, then applesauce and finally the flaxseed mix. Using hands mix together really well. Form 2” balls and place in 13”x 9” baking dish. Bake covered w. foil for about an hour, uncover and bake for another 15-20 minutes until nicely browned. You can then serve these as is, or add them into your sauce for another rich level of flavor. 

Why am I here? Better yet, why are you?

I will fully admit, I have a few blogs floating out there on the "interweb" but they have all found themselves in the proverbial back burner of life. I realized that they were all too focused on one aspect of life, and after awhile, there wasn't as much to say or that I wanted to keep sharing, so I lost interest.

Which brings me to this blog. All my previous blogs were created during nascent points of life and naturally came to a stopping point, where as this one is created from a need to give me a better avenue to share the varied things that I go through, create, find and want to share. I initially was doing this with a monthly newsletter for my crochet business, but I found myself wanting a better way to branch out to reach more people than just those on my mailing list. After a few months of trying to figure out what to do, I realized I needed to go back to the world of blogging.  So here I am.

Now you know why I'm here, but what go you here with me? Maybe, you're also a mom. Or maybe you are also a small business owner or create handmade items. It's possible you are a total foodie out for a new recipe. Or, perhaps you were trying to find a new way to freshen up a part of your beauty routine. There's also a very good chance you are dealing with some dietary restriction like me. Whatever the common link is, welcome.

I plan on sharing many various things from new recipes I created that work for my diet restrictions, to shops that create beautiful items that just have to be featured. Throw in some book reviews, beauty tips, and fun craft ideas for your family, and other random little bits, and you have the direction for my newest blog.  So bear with me! I am relearning lots of stuff and hoping to turn this into what I hope it can be!

Thanks for joining me and I hope you keep coming back!