Trail Time

Scenic drives and nature hikes. I don’t think there’s a better season for those things than autumn.trail1

Fall officially began on September 23 this year and over the past two weeks the weather has been absolutely glorious in my neck of the woods.

As part of our schooling, we aim to go on an outdoor adventure once a week. It’s a right in the schedule book. But because it’s been so beautiful lately, we’ve gotten in a few more walks than normal – and I’m L.O.V.I.N.G. it!

A hearty hike will often lead to a hearty appetite, and I found a recipe for “Trail Mix Cookies” in my mother’s recipe box. They’re scrumptious and are a perfect way to end a walk in the woods.

If you need a new cookie recipe, maybe you could give this one a try. And if you need a new outlook on life, maybe you could try a scenic drive or a nature hike. There’s nothing quite like enjoying God’s creation to give a person a fresh outlook on life!

 

Trail Mix Cookies

1 c. sunflower seed butter

1 c. sweetened coconut flakes

½ c. semi-sweet chocolate chips*

½ c. dried cranberries

½ c. dates, chopped

¼ c. brown sugar

¼ c. sunflower seedstrail2

¼ c. maple syrup

1 large egg

½ t. vanilla

½ t. baking soda

¼ t. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well (using a stand mixer).

Drop by generous tablespoon full on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

Bake 12-14 minutes or until set but still soft.

Cool on the cookie sheet.

Store leftovers in a covered container.

Can be frozen.

 

*Warning: Most chocolate chips contain soy and some contain dairy. Read your labels.trail

However, if you use Enjoy Life brand chocolate chips you’ll have made a cookie that is

gluten, dairy, corn and soy free! And your food-allergy friends will LOVE you!

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Beat the Winter Blues…. Make Smores Indoors!

Gotten a case of the winter blues yet? By the middle of February in the mid-west, the majority of us have had a severe case of it! We’ve had snow here since before Thanksgiving and frankly I think it’s been quite long enough! Today, I’m dreaming of shorts and t-shirts, campfires and bike rides! And since I can’t speed up the seasonal-clock, I’m planning to stay in where it’s warm and simply pretend it’s summer!

How about making some Smores? smoresTo make them, you’ve got to have marshmallows and for a family with food issues, that can be a challenge! After a few years of trying different corn-free  marshmallow recipes, I came across this gem from www.freeeatsfood.com and I’ve never looked back!  It’s my all-time favorite! Here it is… because won’t Smores be absolutely lovely tonight?

Corn-Free Marshmallows (also egg, dairy, gluten and soy-free!)

(A.K.A. Fluffy Delicious Pillows of Sweetness!)

½ c cold water

3 envelopes of gelatin (1 envelope = 2 ½ t.)

marshmallows

½ c cold water

2 c. sugar

½ c. light agave syrup (or honey – but we prefer agave)

¼ t. salt

2 t. vanilla extract

2/3 c. corn-free *powdered sugar, divided (for sprinkling in the pan and on top of the marshmallows)

  • Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray. Then coat pan with 1/3 c. powdered sugar. Set aside.
  • Fit the bowl of a standing mixer with the whisk attachment (the mixing takes a long time!). Add the first ½ c. cold water and the gelatin. Set aside while proceeding to the next step (allowing the gelatin to soak for at least 10 minutes).
  • In a medium sized saucepan, heat the second ½ c. water, granulated sugar, agave syrup and salt over medium heat. Stir a bit and when the mixture just begins to simmer, cover for 3-5 minutes. The steam that is created by putting the lid on will help wash away sugar crystals that may be clinging to the insides of the pan.
  • Remove the lid, and attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Let the mixture gently boil until it reaches a temperature of 240 degrees (F). This takes me about 8-10 minutes, but will vary. The temperature is the most important part, not the time!
  • When the mixture reaches 240 degrees, remove from heat and turn your mixer (with the standing gelatin) on low speed. While the mixer is running, carefully pour the hot syrup between the sides of the bowl and the moving whisk attachment. Don’t pour the syrup onto the moving whisk!
  • Once you’ve added all the sugar syrup, gradually increase the speed to High and mix for 10-12 minutes or until the outside of the mixing bowl feels just a bit warm (this is important, since improperly cooled marshmallows can get wet and sticky later!). Towards the end, add the vanilla extract. Throughout the mixing, the mixture will change from a clear, shiny mess into a beautiful fluffy, bright-white cloud. Just be patient and keep the mixer at high speed!
  • Using an oiled spatula, scrape the marshmallow mixture into a pile in your prepared pan. It’s a gooey-mess but it’s fun! Sprinkle the remaining powdered sugar on the top and use your hands to press and spread the marshmallow into the pan as evenly as possible.
  • Allow them to sit out, uncovered, for 4 hours or overnight (especially if planning to roast them).
  • Cut the marshmallows with an oiled pizza wheel or kitchen scissors. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 weeks.

*(Even powdered sugar has corn in it! To make your own powdered sugar: use a food processor to grind 1 c. cane sugar with 1 T. potato starch. Keep pulsing until the sugar becomes fine and powdery.)

**For rice-krispy treats: make half the recipe… and after whipping for 10-12 minutes, add 1 T melted palm or coconut oil and a pinch of salt, then whip again. Remove from mixer and stir in 7 cups of GF rice krispies and pat into greased 9×13 pan. (powdered sugar not needed!)

A tip from me: Check your ingredient list AND equipment list before beginning! You MUST have a candy thermometer. And you MUST have a mixer on a stand. Hand held mixers may hold up but your wrist won’t! And the thermometer makes it so much easier than the old candy-drip-test. We did make the marshmallow cream for rice krispy treats without a thermometer once (only because we’d started the recipe before we realized we’d left it at Grandma’s and I refused to throw out all those precious ingredients!) but boy was it a mess…and we were just plain lucky that we actually salvaged the batch enough to eat it!

Thanks again to www.freeeatsfood.com for this scrumptious recipe! We think these marshmallows are so much better than anything from the store! They are truly delicious!

(Psst. Before leaving,  you’ve GOT to listen to this Veggie Tales song! My kids l.o.v.e. it! If you like it too, go ahead and listen Smore!)

Graham cracker, graham cracker, chocolate bar…. Sittin’ round the campfire under the stars… We’re roastin’ marshmallows, marshmallows, sticky and sweet!  Put ‘em all together and you’ve got a treat!