Apple Carrot Cake with Lemon Maple Frosting

apple carrot cake YUM

I’m not much of a baker, certainly not in the “traditional sense”.  It’s just not a skill I have acquired.  It’s my belief that there is a lot of restraint required to be a good baker.   There are rules and they must be adhered to… There is a lot of measuring required, Oh, and precision… which doesn’t allow for that last minute handful of WHATEVER that I just can’t help but throw in!  Baking…Just, not me.  Then there’s Paleo baking… strange as it may seem, Paleo baking is a bit more forgiving.  I’ve experimented quite a bit and while some things are better than others, everything has been good.  I still don’t bake very often, but I do like to make treats for Hubs now and then.  As with everything I make this cake is not super sweet, if you are looking for something sweeter, increase the honey and/or maple syrup, or substitute a really ripe banana for part of the grated carrots.  There is a LOT of protein in this cake, so it’s easy to justify having cake for breakfast once in awhile!

Apple Carrot Cake

1 cup almond flour

1/4 cup coconut flour

1/2 cup arrowroot flour

1/2 cup tapioca flour

1 teaspoon sea salt

1.5 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground clove

1/4 teaspoon allspice

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

10 eggs, room temperature

1 Tablespoon honey

1/2 cup maple syrup

3/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1 Tablespoon vanilla

2 cups finely grated carrots (5-6 carrots)

zest of one orange

1 cup grated apples (about 2 apples, peeled)

1 cup pecan or walnut pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium mixing bowl combine the first 12 ingredients and stir to combine.

In a large mixing bowl combing the eggs, honey, maple syrup, oil and vanilla and stir to combine.  Add the dry ingredients into the wet and stir.  Add the carrots, zest, apples and pecans and mix well.

Oil a bundt pan with a little melted coconut oil, pour in the batter and bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes.

While your cake is baking and your kitchen is starting to smell like magic… mix up the frosting.

Lemon Maple Frosting

1/3 cup coconut oil, melted

1/3 cup coconut mana, melted

zest and juice of 1 lemon (plus more zest to garnish)

2 Tablespoons of maple syrup

Mix everything together and set aside, allow to come to room temperature before icing the cake.

You can check this cake with the “toothpick” method after 40 minutes, it should come out clean when the cake is ready.   Allow the cake to cool completely before icing.

Paleo Bacon Date Jam, That’s Right…

While I truly enjoy most things Paleo, and Hubs seems to as well (with the exception of Brussels Sprouts, the man protests like a 2 year old when presented with them… really, it’s remarkable) what I do sometimes find myself missing is the variety of handy “condiments and dressings” from my pre-paleo days.   So, over the past few weeks I’ve been putting several of these through a Paleo transformation, so stay tuned for some of those.  During this process I discovered something that  I didn’t even realize was missing from my life… bacon jam…Oh, bacon jam, where have you been all of my life?

 

bacon jam 1bacon jam 2bacon jam 3bacon jam 4

Now, this recipe does use coffee, which, some might argue is un-paleo.  If you don’t want to use coffee, don’t use coffee, use herbal tea, or water instead, there’s plenty of flavor in this recipe without the coffee. In this case I chose to use coffee considering this is just a condiment and we will only be consuming small amounts at a time.

8 ingredients + maybe an hour total, prep and cook time = amazing flavor

2, 12 ounce packages of center cut bacon, cut in 1/2 inch strips

1 large yellow onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, smashed and minced

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup molasses

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup dried dates, chopped

3/4 cup brewed coffee, or tea if you prefer

In a large skillet cook the bacon over medium heat.  After about 5 minutes the bacon will release a lot of liquid, push the bacon aside and use a paper towel to remove the liquid, we don’t want to “boil” the bacon in this liquid.  Continue to cook, stirring as needed, until the bacon is just starting to get crispy around the edges, about 20 minutes total.

Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside.  Add the onion and garlic to the bacon grease (be prepared, this is going to smell amazing) and cook for a few minutes then add the rest of the ingredients.  Bring to a simmer and cook until the onions and dates are soft and the sauce has reduced to about half.  Add the bacon back to the pan, stir it all together and allow to bubble for a few minutes, it should be dark and rich and amazing.  This last step is optional, to make it more “jam-like” allow to cool then add it to a good processor and pulse a few times.  We actually enjoy it both ways, really, what’s not to love?

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

New work studio

New year, new work!  I just completed these yesterday, New Year’s Eve 2013.

This is my new favorite, and it’s crazy easy.

sweet potato tomatillo bisque YUM

1 Tablespoon of coconut oil

1 yellow onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, smashed

1.5 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

1 lb. tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed and quartered

1 4 ounce can green chilis (you can adjust the heat here, Hubs prefers mild, so mild it is!)

32 ounce carton of chicken broth

1 cup canned coconut milk

In a heavy soup pot, we are going to make sort of a Paleo sofrito. Sauté the onion, peppers, tomatillos and garlic in the coconut oil for a few minutes before adding the sweet potatoes.  Continue to sauté for a few minutes longer mixing everything together.  Stir in the broth and cover, bring up to a simmer and allow to simmer, covered, until veggies are tender.  Remove from heat and stir in the coconut milk.  Using an immersion blender carefully puree until smooth.

(Not the prettiest photo, that was literally lunch in the studio about 2 minutes after the photo!)

Almost Guilty Paleo Pumpkin Fudge

fudge YUM

Eleanor Roosevelt said “Happiness is not a goal, it is a by-product” and I agree. Be it a by-product of hard work, persistence, charity or giving back to community; I’m certain fudge probably wasn’t on her mind when she said that, but I can’t deny that for my Hubs, happiness was the by-product of some darn good fudge. We are on day 15 of a strict PALEO diet, hubby and I, and things are going very well. While I do not have a sweet tooth, dear Hubs does so I wanted to make him a sweet “treat” to reward him for his discipline.

There are a lot of interesting & yummy paleo “fudge” recipes out there. I played around with several, adjusted and experimented, added and omitted, until I found the “texture” that was most appealing to me and Hubs, my trusty taste tester. While Hubs did not love the addition of chia seeds, I did. I think if I had added nuts to the chia seed batch he probably wouldn’t have known they were in there.

Almost Guilty Pumpkin Fudge
¾ cup cacao (or cocoa) powder
½ cup coconut oil, melted
1 T chia seeds (optional, I personally like them, but hubby does not in this particular application)
1 T unflavored gelatin (you can omit this, but the texture will be different)
2 T maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Small pinch of sea salt
1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree (the ingredient list should have one ingredient, pumpkin)
¼ cup dates or prunes, chopped
¼ cup toasted pecans (optional)

Add ingredients in the order listed stirring between each. Spread the fudge on a small baking sheet lined with parchment paper and refrigerate. When set cut into small squares with a sharp knife.

As the dust settles…

Life is good, and busy.
It’s been so long since I’ve posted, I don’t even know where to begin!
Cooper is doing very well; he just delights us every day. We couldn’t have asked for a better transition to his new school (which happened almost 7 months ago, where does the time go?!). He’s talking much more, we’ve recently had another “two steps forward and holding” – especially in expressive language, and we are thrilled and so incredibly thankful for that. We still have “rough times” – don’t get me wrong, but I think a lot of it is “growing pains” and we are all just getting used to all the changes.
This spring we tried baseball “buddy ball” where we had some truly fantastic “buddies” who did their best to get him interested and make baseball fun for him, but, sadly, he has absolutely no interest in baseball; we gave up. And since he loves water, we also tried “adaptive aquatics” – he still loves the water, he simply had no interest in their “agenda”; so, again, we gave up. These things are supposed to be fun, and it was pretty much the opposite for him (and certainly no fun for mom and dad either!) So, those sort of went down on the books as “failures” but, no worries, we have had successes too!
A few weeks ago we had our first successful birthday party! The birthday boy was a classmate of Cooper’s (there are only 4 other kids in his class). When we got the invitation I was dreading the RSVP, we wanted to go but pretty much knew it would end (after 5 minutes) the same way all the other birthday parties we’ve attempted have ended, badly and loudly. Because, in the past, I knew those parents really well it wasn’t that big of a deal, but we didn’t really know this family…so I debated until the RSVP deadline and finally emailed our “regrets” and just told her the truth, just put it all out there. Within a few minutes the phone rang and it was the mom of this child basically saying that it would be very low key and if we wanted to try etc. So, we tried! And he did SO well! Their extended family was there and most of the kids from his class. She was right, it was very laid back and everyone “understood” – & Coop shocked us again! We were so proud of him. He even wore a shirt with buttons!! (and we didn’t hear “ALL DONE BUTTONS!” even once!). And maybe the funniest thing… he didn’t want to leave! No, probably the funniest thing was when I sat down in a lawn chair and it broke, slowly… in that slap stick comedy sort of way where my knees sort of eventually ended up under my chin…
Last weekend I did a show (Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival – my first show since Kentuck ’09!) and Grant had Coop all to himself for the weekend. The show was great, delightful neighbors, wonderful volunteers, beautiful weather, great patrons, and even though I knew they were perfectly fine without me, I still missed “my boys” a little. Grant had made “big plans” for the two of them, I admit I was a little unsure upon hearing these plans, but really, I knew that good or bad, if anyone could handle Coop and these “big plans” it was Grant. He had planned to take Coop on the metro to the national zoo… Periodically Saturday morning I would get texts saying things like “we made it to the metro station and parked, so far so good” and then finally an hour or so later “we are at the zoo having a snack!” Cooper loved it, the metro maybe more than the zoo, and he calls the metro “the macro” – we both think it’s too funny to correct at this point. On Sunday they surprised me at the show. Grant has tried that half a dozen times in the past and it never goes well, so this was another first! Coop was really happy to see me and he wanted “mama go in the car, go home” but seemed to understand that I had to stay and work. No tears, no issues, a real victory!
On Monday, sunburned, bruised and exhausted from the weekend, I started the move into my new studio at the Lorton Workhouse. I’m probably 95% moved and 75% settled; hopefully by Monday I will be able to actually start working! The other artists in my “house” (cell block?) have all been really great, and very helpful, so I think it’s going to be a good fit for me. We are required to work a certain number of hours in our studios each week, and even though I’m used to working about twice the required amount, these are “public hours”, so that’ll be good to keep me from being a complete (studio) hermit!

I’ve been trying to find an art program for kiddos like Coop (like the VSA) but so far I haven’t found anything tailored specifically toward the needs of these kids, so, who knows, maybe I’ll start one. It’s sort of been on my mind a lot lately, obviously it’s never far from my heart. We will see what comes of it!

Daybreak

Last ThursdayCooper got off the bus and wrapped his sweet little arms around me in the biggest “I’m home mom!” hug ever. That was a first, he usually sort of rushes past me and starts asking for cookies or Elmo paint, whatever is on his mind. Later that day we attended “daybreak” which was held at a local artists’ co-op downtown where the kids (with the help of the daybreak volunteers and a Liberty town arts potter) were to build a bird’s nest out of clay.

I was looking forward to spending the hour exploring the work of the artists there, but when we got there Cooper didn’t want me to leave! He has NEVER been clingy, and it wasn’t “sad and crying” clingy, it was more “mama sit” [let’s hang out] clingy. So, I stayed and had the daybreak experience with him! The volunteer who was working with him was great, it was really neat to see. I think I learned a few things by watching them together, which brings me to my point. Check this out, www.refresheverything.com/umwautismclinicplaylab. These folks organize daybreak (among many other things). It’s super easy to sign up and “vote” – you can vote for 10 non-profits each day, look for ones in your area or close to your heart, but save one of your ten votes for this 🙂 These folks are doing great things here (and would really put the 25K grant to good use).