Monday, January 26, 2015

Chocolate Cupcakes (vegan)

Last summer I made a chocolate-avocado cake out of sheer curiousity. I wanted to see what it would taste like, and was intrigued that it had no eggs. It turned out great.



Now I find myself baking cupcakes for Bobble's 4th birthday, and using this recipe again. There is a child in Bobble's class that has a dairy allergy. What better way to include everyone than by making something everyone will enjoy?

Again, I found myself lacking (enough) caster sugar, so I used our immersion blender to blend up what we had to be super fine. Other than that, the recipe was a breeze! The recipe is very simple, and the results are delicious.

Of course, I had to try the batter since it is safe (no raw egg).... not what I expected. The cupcakes/cake with this recipe tastes simply like chocolate. Delicious. Raw batter, however, tastes just like avocado. How curious! Especially confusing since the chocolate-avocado pudding is uncooked and tasted great. Huh.

We decided to add a squirt of (natural) cherry syrup to the frosting as we mixed. This is the same sort of syrup you'd find for coffee drinks. We debated between the cherry or the mint, but since we had coconut cream frosting we thought the cherry would go better. It was delicious.

Chocolate-avocado cupcakes

  • 3c flour
  • 6T unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2t salt
  • 2t baking powder (we used sodium-free baking powder)
  • 2t baking soda
  • 1/4c canola oil
  • 1/2c mashed avocado (~1 whole avocado)
  • 2c water
  • 2T white vinegar
  • 2t vanilla extract
  • 2c caster sugar
Preheat oven to 375F.

Sift together flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.

Whisk together the avocado, oil, water, white vinegar, and vanilla. Add in sugar, whisking until combined.

Add in dry ingredients, whisking until smooth.



Portion batter into lined cupcake pan. (Should make 24-30 regular sized cupcakes.)



Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.



Arrange on a wire baking rack to cool. Allow to completely cool before frosting.




Coconut Cream Frosting
  • 1 can coconut cream
  • 3T powdered sugar (+/- to taste)
  • 2T cocoa powder (if you want chocolate frosting, otherwise, just omit)
Whisk all ingredients together until fluffy. 

Allow frosting to chill before using (this allows it to firm up).



Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own. Frosting recipe is a Thoughts of Fluff original recipe. Cupcake recipe was an adaptation from a cake recipe found here. Conversions to Fahrenheit and U.S. measurements made by Thoughts of Fluff. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thursday Tip: Baby's legs and baby carriers

Babywearing is a great way to keep your little ones close while you do things and go places, but what about when the weather isn't so warm? Those little legs can get exposed to cold weather when being worn!


Project Pomona pants are a great option, as you can unroll the cuff a bit to cover the exposed leg while carrying your baby.


Don't have PP pants and need a solution now? Baby legs under the pants (but over the socks) will keep your little one covered.


I also will put leg warmers on Bobble if he insists on wearing pants with holes in the knees during chilly weather. It helps keep his skin from being exposed to the elements, lets him wear the pants he simply must wear for some reason (toddlers, eh?), and you can even coordinate the leg warmer(s) to match an outfit. He had stars on the last pair he wore with holy jeans.

Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Lamb Kofte

We love to eat all sorts of foods here, and the kids enjoy the variety of flavours. When we found some lamb on sale at the local grocery, we went in search of a new recipe. We've used lamb before, but we wanted something different.



I came across this recipe for lamb kofte, and we decided to give it a go. It's basically Turkish meatballs, and was to be served on a flatbread.

We tweaked the recipe a bit due to availability of ingredients and Bobble's dietary needs (low sodium).

Lamb Kofte

Yogurt sauce:

    • 1c greek yogurt
    • 2T tahini
    • 3T fresh lemon juice
    Köfte:

    • 1.5# ground lamb
    • 2T dried mint
    • 1T dried minced onion
    • 4 minced garlic cloves
    • 3T paprika
    • 1T ground cumin
    • 1/2t sea salt
    • 1t ground black pepper
    • 1/4t cayenne pepper
    -----------------------------------------------------
    • Flatbread or Na'an
    • 2T olive oil
    • 2 onions cut into 1/4" to 1/3" slices


    Yogurt Sauce:

    Combine all ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate until needed.

    Kofte:

    1) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

    2) Mix together lamb and spices (up to the dashed line in ingredient list) in a large bowl. Roll into 1 1/2" meatballs and arrange on lined baking sheet.


    3) Preheat oven to 300F. Tear a piece of foil about the size of a cookie sheet and set on counter next to stove. Heat large skillet (medium-high) and add flat bread or naan to pan, one at a time, cooking until browned (~2min per side). Set bread on foil and continue until all are heated. Wrap in the foil and place in oven to keep warm.

    4) Add 1T of oil and onions to same skillet and sautee over medium-high heat until golden brown (~8min).

    5) Place cooked onions on one side of a large baking dish (like a casserole dish), and place in oven to keep warm.

    6) Add 1T of oil to same skillet (same heat) and sautee half of the meat balls until they are cooked through (~7min). Place cooked meatballs in other half of baking dish in oven to keep warm, and repeat with remaining uncooked meatballs (adding oil if skillet dries out).

    You can serve these however you wish. The original recipe shows them on a flatbread, dressed with the sauteed onions, yogurt sauce, and muhammara. I didn't include the muhammara in this post, though you can find it in the original recipe. I cannot tell you my thoughts on it since we could not find pomegranate syrup, and hubby tried to make it with what he thought was a clever substitute. He thought we had some cranberry pomegranate juice and figured that would be close enough to make his own syrup with. First, I think that sounds gross, and isn't what the recipe called for. Second.... it was cranberry grape juice, not pomegranate. He didn't read the label.I think that the muhammara my hubby made was gross, but it also was made all sorts of wrong. I don't know what it would have been like if it had been made as the recipe called, but I'm not a fan of sweet things with savoury things anyway, and pomegranate syrup sounds sweet to me.

    The kids loved the meal, and so did hubby. I loved it without his attempt at muhammara, and ate it without that. Hubby originally served the flat bread cut into pieces to dip in sauce, but then realized it's much better all held within the flatbread. We didn't use naan, but we both agreed it would have been fabulous on naan.

    Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own.

    Saturday, January 17, 2015

    Hip Baby Wrap

    One thing I love about babywearing is how it allows me to stay connected to my children, even when out and about. It could be absolute chaos all around, but my child can be safely snuggled up to me, and I don't have to worry about something happening to them.

    Hip Baby Wraps are a nice, light-weight cotton and available in many colours. I was sent a wrap in the colour scheme "Ocean" for review. It didn't have a size listed, but it was the same length as my size 6 wraps. It was even nice and pretty hanging to dry!


    Hip Baby Wraps can help you provide that closeness and peace of mind. In fact, if you're an eco-conscious person, they can give you peace of mind on more than just the closeness of your child as they use non-toxic, eco-friendly dye on their lovely 100%, locally-sourced cotton wraps. Better yet, these wraps are hand made in India, and fairly traded. 

    Braided up
    This wrap was very different than other wraps I've had, as this wrap is much lighter. I'm used to the heavier, thicker cotton wraps, or the hemp and cotton blend. Wrapping with this was a bit shocking at first because of how light it was!


    Squiggle wasn't the most cooperative that day, but I was at a local babywearing meeting, so I was able to borrow other adorable baby models for you (with permission to share,of course!) :

    Lovely little one helping me model a FWCC
    (In case you were wondering, it was really cold in there when we first arrived, so I wanted my arms covered!)
    I didn't just borrow babies for pictures, though... I shared the wrap and borrowed mamas, too!


    I really liked how light this wrap was, and think it would be a fabulous summer wrap. Obviously it works any time of the year, but I feel like this would definitely have the upper hand compared to some of the thicker wraps when it gets hot and sticky outside! Check out their store to see all their colours available!

    Hip Baby Wraps were also generous enough to offer a wrap for one of my readers. Giveaway is open to the US only.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff was sent the above product in exchange for a review. This did not influence my opinion of the product in anyway, and the review was not required to be positive. All opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own. Thoughts of Fluff is not responsible for prize fulfillment.

    Friday, January 16, 2015

    Cloth is Cool Giveaway Hop: Project Pomona

    clothiscool2

    Welcome to the first annual Cloth is Cool giveaway hop! Cloth is growing in popularity because of money savings, environmental benefits and just plain enjoyment (it's fun to pick from all the styles, prints and colors).

    Check out the list below for all the cloth diaper giveaways you can enter during this hop. Your hosts, the Zephyr Hill Blog and Cloth Diaper Addicts, and all the participating bloggers and retailers, wish you a successful and enjoyable year of cloth diapering in 2015!

    The grand prize giveaway, open to both US and Canadian residents, features a package containing several different styles to try out: One lucky winner will receive:
    • Best Bottoms "Flurry" Cover and 3 Inserts (choose your size)
    • bumGenius Limited Edition Elemental AIO Diaper
    • Planet Wise Wet/Dry Bag
    • Imagine One-Size Diaper Cover
    • Imagine SmartFit Prefolds, 6-Pack (choose your size)
    • Imagine Indigo Pocket Diaper
    The Cloth is Cool giveaway hop runs from January 16th to January 26th. Good luck!



    Project Pomona is sponsoring my giveaway here on Thoughts of Fluff. I was sent a pair of the Eco Fit Jeans with the Jewel Accent Cuff to try on on Squiggle, and are they ever gorgeous! I was sent a size 3, for my 18 month old chunkster. Squiggle is growing into her chub, and has only gained 3 lbs in the last 11 months, placing her at 26.5lbs. She was sooooo round! I really wish I had some jeans like these back then!



    Project Pomona jeans don't just fit better over cloth diapers, they fit better in general. With a row of snaps at the waist and the ability to fold the cuff of the jeans as much or as little as desired, these jeans will grow with your baby as they chunk up or thin out.

    The cuff completely unfolded - you can't really see where the cuff is sewn if you aren't super close!
    The fit of these pants was fabulous. Squiggle was wearing them over an AppleCheeks diaper stuffed with their 2-layer bamboo insert. There was room for a bigger diaper, easily. I loved the quality of the pants, and the jeweled cuff is simply adorable. The colours in the cuff are plentiful enough that it will match any outfit, too.



    The only thing I wished was different about these pants was that the adorable little pockets were real. Obviously, that doesn't matter much for Squiggle... she doesn't even know how to use a pocket! Anything put into the front "pockets" would fall straight down the pant leg and out the bottom as the material is just overlapping and not actually sewn here. The back pockets are just sewn completely down all the way around.


    Squiggle was very hard to photograph in these because she kept running around. I had to take her shirt off to show the pants, otherwise you wouldn't have seen the cute little snaps at the top. Her shirts rested almost down to the sewn line just above the rear pockets.

     
    (Man is it hard to get her to hold still these days!)

    Project Pomona has more than just these adorable accent-cuffed denim, though. You can get jeans without accents on the cuffs, corduroy jeans, skinny-ish fit, stretch fit, shorts, onesies, tees... they really have a lot to choose from! Head on over to their page to see what all they have!

    Project Pomona didn't just want to send me a pair for review, though.... they want to send YOU a pair, too! One lucky winner will get a pair of Pomonas in their choice. Giveaway is open to US/CAN.


    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff was sent this product in exchange for a review. This did not influence my opinion of the product in any way, and all opinions are honest and my own. My opinions may differ from those of your own. Thoughts of Fluff is not responsible for shipment of prizes.

    Thursday, January 15, 2015

    Thursday Tips: Baby carriers & cars

    If you are a babywearer, odds are you like to leave a carrier in the car. It's pretty handy having a few carriers you can just leave in the car so you always have something on hand, but it can also be damaging to your carrier if you have something with plastic on it (like a SSC).



    If you live in an area that experiences temperature extremes, you might want to reconsider leaving a SSC in your car. The extreme heat and extreme cold can really wear on the plastic buckles, and you could weaken them, lessening their life. Worse case scenario, it could break while you're wearing it.

    I live in an area that experiences all four seasons, so I tend to leave my SSCs in my car in spring and autumn, bringing them inside during summer and winter. This isn't too much of a hassle for me since I already bring in my diaper bag during winter/summer to avoid ruining my diapers, freezing my wipe solution spray bottle, or melting my little one's diaper cream/stick.

    If you have a a mei tai, woven wrap, or a ring sling with metal rings, I'd recommend leaving these in your car over a ssc. Not only will the temperatures not matter, but in cold weather the wrap or ring sling can serve as blankets for your little ones (just unthread the ringsling).

    Vanamo wrap - Kide Tuli - as a blanket

    Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own. 

    Monday, January 12, 2015

    Broccoli Cheese Soup (from scratch)

    Broccoli cheese soup has always been one of my favourite dishes, but I had never tried to make it until the recently. I had been searching for a good recipe, and finally found one close to what I wanted. A few alterations later and voila! Broccoli cheese soup!


    The majority of the time spent on this dish is the prep time. If you prep your veggies before hand, this is a super easy meal.

    This meal is not one I would consider to be "low sodium", but it is low enough to where Bobble could still eat it without worry of nearing his daily allowance. It is definitely low sodium compared to store-bought broccoli cheese soup (campbells has 1,640mg sodium in one cup, but the can is 1.25 cups, so that can has 2,050mg of sodium) or restaurant soup (AppleBees has 1,490 mg of sodium in one cup)!

    All sodium content will vary depending on the brand and amount of ingredients used, but the two main sodium-laden ingredients would be chicken broth/stock that is store bought, and the cheddar cheese. Noah Brothers makes an organic chicken broth (low sodium) that is 140mg per cup, though I'd recommend just making your own with leftover chicken bones and not adding any salt.

    Assuming you used store-bought broth/stock, the recipe will be approximately 3,035mg sodium for the entire dish. Assuming you eat this as the meal itself, without any other dishes, you should be able to feed 6 people from this recipe.

    This dish comes out to about 500 mg of sodium per person if you feed 6. Again, this can vary. Please check your labels if sodium is a concern for you!

    I also want to add that the whole family enjoyed the meal. Not only did the kids happily eat it, but hubby actually said this was the best broccoli cheese soup he'd ever had. He then instructed me to write down exactly what I did so I don't lose the recipe. Now if only everything I made evoked that sort of response!

    Broccoli Cheese Soup
    adapted from this recipe from Yammie's Noshery

    Ingredients:
  • 1/2 stick of butter (1/4 cup)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 heads of broccoli
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • Pepper to taste

  • Directions:

    1. On medium heat, cook the butter, garlic, and onion until they become tender.
    2. Add milk, heavy cream, and chicken stock.
    3. Mix the flour with a little bit of chicken stock (or water) until there are no clumps, and add in to the mixture on the stove.
    4. Add in nutmeg and bay leaves. Continue cooking over medium-low heat until mixture thickens 
    5. Add carrots and broccoli to the mixture and allow to simmer until tender. 
    6. Remove bay leaves from pot and add in cheese, stirring until fully incorporated.
    7. Add pepper to taste.
    Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own.