Cinnamon Hot Cocoa with Bourbon

Hot Cocoa 2It’s March and I still long for Spring. The polar vortex dipped us down into freezing conditions yet again and though the next season is around the corner, it feels like it’s a lifetime away. One week it warmed up enough for me to wear one layer of clothes instead of three. I was actually happy with the laundry that week. I’m back to wearing layers and Chaz teasing me for wearing three pairs of socks.

Really, I just want to be able to go for a walk without all the layers and without my exposed skin freezing. Is that too much for me to ask? It is? Then what’s a tropical gal to do in these conditions? Make hot cocoa!

I’ve made it all winter and last week I decided to get a little creative with it because I knew the freeze was coming again. Everyone seemed enamored with it on social media, so I made it again to share the recipe.

Note that you can make this with real milk or with dairy-free milk. If you use full-fat coconut milk, I would recommend a bit more cinnamon if you don’t want the coconut taste. If you don’t keep raw cacao powder in your pantry, but you have dutch processed cocoa powder, you can use that instead. Also, the quality of your bourbon does matter in drinks. Cheaper bourbons tend to be more like fire rather than smooth like quality bourbon. We keep Wild Turkey and Basil Hayden in our bar. Four Roses and Woodford Reserve would be other bourbons I would recommend. I know other friends who would recommend Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, and Evan Williams. Given a choice, I prefer Basil Hayden. Yes, living in Kentucky for thirteen years turned me into a bourbon snob.

Cinnamon Hot Cocoa with Bourbon (serves 1)

1 1/2 – 2 cups milk or dairy-free milk

2 tablespoons raw local honey (or other sweetener of choice)

1 tablespoon raw cacao powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (or more if you like it heavy on the cinnamon)

1 teaspoon maca root powder (optional)

1 ounce good quality bourbon (I used Basil Hayden)

In a small saucepan, whisk together milk, honey, cacao powder, cinnamon, and maca root powder over medium low heat. Do not bring it to a boil. You want it to warm up enough that you can see the steam coming up from the hot cocoa. Once you see it (you might have to run the whisk through again to do so), add in the bourbon and whisk one last time. Pour into a mug. Garnish with marshmallows and more cinnamon if desired.




Hot Ginger Apricot Sauce

Hot Ginger Apricot SauceI attempted the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol. A tension headache started in the middle of Day 1 and continued into Day 2 until I caved and had some coffee. I figured in the grand scheme, if I was going off the rails to help kill a headache, better with caffeine than ibuprofen. The headache was gone within minutes. If only my former migraines were so kind. I had this headache about a month before. It lasted for days. Even the chiropractor and acupuncture didn’t have a lasting effect on it, just a few hours of relief. It wasn’t until I broke down and had a Cherry Coke that it went away nearly a week after it started.

So this headache niggled. It went away that night but it taunted me all week. “I’m still here,” it snickered. Saturday it decided to throw a party while getting my hair done. We were supposed to be driving down for our niece’s first birthday party and having a headache was not an option. I picked up some coffee on my way home only to find the party was canceled, but my headache was leaving. Or so I thought. It’s still playing games with me.

I decided that there seems to be something going on putting stress on my body that is causing these headaches. Trying to do a special diet not required was only adding to the stress on my body. I would prefer not to have another adrenal crash, thankyouverymuch. No more Autoimmune Paleo protocol for now. I am trying to limit the foods that are eliminated on the AIP, except for coffee. Okay, maybe one cup a day is limiting for some people, but that’s normal for me. Too much and I get too jittery. I can’t be jittery. Too much to do that keeps getting put off because I lack the energy.

Today was supposed to be a post on my travels. Yes, I have several more posts to do. My pictures had another idea. So, I’m pulling something out I did after the Spicy Plum Sauce. I was so in love with the Spicy Plum Sauce I wanted to see what else I could do before going on the AIP because chili flakes are not allowed. This time I used my favorite, ginger, and apricots that were in my weekly produce delivery. If you made the Spicy Plum Sauce, it is similar, just some different ingredients. You can use this as a dipping sauce for Raw Summer Rolls, homemade chicken fingers, or a topping for pork chops or tenderloin. I loved it as a dipping sauce and a topping for pork.

I call it Hot Ginger Apricot Sauce not because you have to use it while it is temperature hit, but because it is a tad spicy between the chili flakes and the amount of ginger I use.

Hot Ginger Apricot Sauce

6 apricots, stone removed, rough chopped

1/4 yellow onion, sliced

1/4 cup raw local honey or other sweetener (or omit)

2 tablespoons ginger root, minced

1/2 teaspoon chili flakes

Add all ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer for twenty minutes on low. Remove from heat. Use an immersion blender to puree until smooth in the saucepan. If you do not have an immersion blender, use a regular blender or food processor. Set aside and let cool if using as a dipping sauce. Store leftovers in an airtight container/mason jar in the refrigerator.

This post is linked to Whole Food Fridays at Allergy-Free Alaska and Wellness Weekend at Ricki Heller.

Meyer Lemon Lavender Bars (grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free)

It really is grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free!

It really is grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free!

This post is a year in the making.  I am so happy to finally have the recipe to share with you.  Toiling with this is one of those things that you really can only do one change at a time to know exactly what isn’t right in the final product.  Last week when I wasthisclosetoit, I had too much agar agar in it and it was more thick gelatin-like than gooey thick like a lemon bar should be.  It was good, but not great.  Yesterday, I ate a second piece right after the first piece.  The last few days have been rough, so hitting jackpot was a big bright spot for me.  Good things can always happen when you let them.

My first trials with this was to make it egg-free before I was even egg-free.  Then I decided to go back to using eggs and for some reason I was still having problems.  Now that I’m egg-free and Meyer Lemons are abundant in stores, I decided it was time to go back to the first trials.  I use agar agar because it will keep things clear and with most foods when trying to get it to thicken, you don’t need to cook it.  Bonus, it has a nice protein content.

The crust is a press in crust, but you need to use pie weights or dried beans when baking it.  Someone forgot to do it this time around.  *looks around whistling*  You also want to bake it completely because once you add the filling it doesn’t go back in the oven.  Also, my final product is fairly tart since I’m using raw local honey.  You can use palm sugar, but the filling will be a darker amber.  If you still use white sugar, you could use that, too.  Just make sure you taste the filling before adding the agar agar to make sure the filling is at your sweetness level.

This calls for some waiting.  The filling starts to thicken as it cools and it can take an hour or more for it to get thick enough to add the lavender. It will set quicker once it’s in the pan.  Also, I dusted the top with homemade powdered sugar.  The filling sucked it up really fast, but it did give balance to the tartness.

Meyer Lemon Lavender Bars – 9 servings

1 1/2 cups almond flour (I use Honeyville)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup palm shortening (I use Spectrum)

1-2 Tablespoons chilled filtered water

Juice of 6 Meyer Lemons (should yield 2/3 – 3/4 cup), pulp and seeds strained out

1 cup filtered water

1/2 cup raw local honey or palm sugar

1 Tablespoon agar agar powder

1 teaspoon lavender

2 Tablespoons palm sugar

1/2 teaspoon arrowroot.

Preheat oven to 350.  You can grease an 8×8 pan, but I didn’t and nothing stuck to it.  I use a glass pan.  In a medium bowl whisk together almond flour and salt.  Cut in palm shortening with a pastry blender or two knifes until you have coarse crumbs.  Add in a tablespoon of water and stir together.  Add more water a little at a time if it is not forming a big ball of dough.  It will look almost like regular pastry dough, but will feel stickier.  Dump the dough out into your pan and press firmly into the bottom, spreading it out as evenly as possible.  Cover with parchment and weigh it down with pie weights or dried beans.  Bake for 30 minutes and set aside to cool.  Combine Meyer lemon juice, water, and honey or sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a boil while whisking together well.  Whisk in agar agar powder well.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Check every 15 minutes or so and whisk.  Once it starts to thicken enough to suspend the lavender, whisk in the lavender.  Pour into the pan and let it finish setting.  Before serving dust with powdered sugar or unrefined powdered sugar.  To make the unrefined powdered sugar add palm sugar and arrowroot starch to a coffee/spice grinder and grind until the sugar is a fine powder.

This post is linked to Wellness Weekends at Diet, Dessert, and Dogs; at Slightly Indulgent Tuesday at Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free; and Gluten-Free Wednesdays at The Gluten-Free Homemaker.