Shannon Fennell's Blog

My life, cooking, make-up, travel, the joy of home ownership and the occasional rant!


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Chocolate Pecan Cupcakes! Oh yes I did!

It has been a while since I posted a recipe.  I do have a couple to share but will start with the cupcakes I made today!

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As always… a recipe caught my eye, but I changed it a lot.  Added, removed, increased, etc. until it bears no resemblance to the original version.

The recipe that I saw was for a cake with walnuts… I hate walnuts.  Also, didn’t want a cake, cupcakes keep and store easier in the freezer.  I also don’t use powdered sugar substitutes.

Up until last week I wasn’t using ANY sugar substitutes at all, but I discovered that saccharine is available in the pill form here.  My granny used to use it and as kids we would try it… never had an aftertaste for me.  So… I bought a bottle of Hermesetas tablets.  The only thing I’ve used it in so far has been ice cream I made last week (I will post about that later!) and this recipe.

I just dissolve a few tablets in about 1/8 tsp of boiling water and add to the recipe for a touch of sweetness. Each pill is equal to a teaspoon of sugar.  I am not adding the amount called for in the recipes as I don’t need it to be really sweet, but felt the ice cream could use a some, and then this recipe was an experiment to see if it would work.  It did.

So here is the recipe I came up with today for Chocolate Pecan Cupcakes.

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Chocolate Pecan Cupcakes – LCHF, Gluten Free, Sugar Free

Makes 6 large cupcakes (or one 8″ cake if you prefer.)

Pre-heat oven to 350F.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup cream cheese

1/4 cup coconut oil

3 eggs

4 saccharine tablets dissolved in 1/8 tsp of boiling water (you can substitute whatever sweetener you want and increase to make this more of a regular sweetness level.)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 cup almond flour

1 tbsp coconut flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup cream

1/4 cup of chopped pecans (or any kind of nut you like) – completely optional BTW.

Topping: Lindt 85% Cocoa Chocolate bar – 6 pieces.

Instructions:

  1. Line a muffin tin with paper liners (or grease an 8″ cake pan in your preferred manner.)
  2. Measure all the dry ingredients together and stir, except for the nuts.
  3. Cream the coconut oil (I did not melt it first) and the cream cheese with an electric mixer, add the eggs one at a time, add the vanilla, and dissolved saccharine, and continue mixing on high.
  4. Add the dry ingredients and the cream about a third at a time, alternating between additions.  If the batter is too thick add a little more cream.  It should be thick but pourable like regular cake batter.
  5. Add the nuts and mix until combined.
  6. Divided batter between the six cupcake liners.
  7. Bake at 350F on the centre rack for 20-25 minutes.  They are done when a toothpick comes out clean. Ovens vary so it might take a few minutes more or less.
  8. Take them out of the oven and immediately place a piece of the Lindt chocolate on top of each cupcake, when it has melted spread it around.
  9. Let cool completely.

I like to freeze them once cool and eat them frozen!

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I am very pleased with how these turned out!  Ate one and the rest are in the freezer. Tomorrow I am making more ice cream and intend to have cake and ice cream!  Who said you have to give up treats when you are a diabetic who follows LCHF/HP??? Not this girl!

 

 


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It is June… again

What happened to May? I don’t remember it happening. Time flies by so fast and it gets faster and faster as it goes by.

Remember when you were a kid and waiting three whole sleeps seemed like years and years? There will come a time when you really wish time would move that slowly again.

I’m sitting at home right now waiting for my eyes to clear (nice thing about computers is you can set the zoom to 200%.) Had injections in both this morning – they were leaking again.

I had originally been scheduled for an injection in my left eye for June 12 and lasers in my right on June 9.  I woke up Tuesday morning last week and had no focus ability in my right eye.  I had been at the eye doctor’s on the prior Thursday and everything was fine, by Tuesday had sprung a very bad leak.  So they bumped up my injection to the next available date, for both eyes.  No lasers now.

I asked the doctor about the prognosis – I was wondering if I needed to make long-term contingency plans for having minimal sight left or blindness at some point.  He assured me that as long as I am controlling my diabetes and blood pressure that eventually the treatments will eliminate the constant leaks and that in 80% of patients the injections stop and the sight is improved.  Just hope I am not one of the other 20%.

 

So, since I am keeping things under control everything should eventually stabilize.

It has been a nice Spring so far – warm and periodic rain.  Which means mowing the lawn every five to seven days.  Which is a pain.

My apple tree bloomed on ALL branches this year for the first time!  Each branch is a different variety.  It is called a 5-in-1 and all varieties are hardy to the climate up here. It is a dwarf stock so will stay small.  I pruned it quite well last Fall to keep it easy to reach.

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And lots of blossoms too. I did not see a single bee on it though, thankfully it was crawling with ants (and ladybugs) so they will have pollinated it. Should get lots of apples this year if the weather cooperates.

Plantings in the front are doing well too. I decided to cull out the Prairie Mallow as some of were massive and choking out other plants.  As I wanted to give the Hollyhocks a chance to colonize the west bed in front of the house I killed all but two of the Prairie Mallows. Yes, I am a horrible person.  But I let the Prairie Mallow keep the back corner of the backyard.

The perennials I planted last year (got from friends around town) are doing great!  Both clumps of day lilies started blooming this week, and two of the other things are growing well – still haven’t found out what they are called though.  My clematis plants are growing about a foot a day.

This was taken a week ago – the petunias are twice this size at least now. And I’ve been harvesting the herbs already; it is so nice to have a fresh herb omelette for breakfast!

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This is the final weekend of the last show of the season at Grande Prairie Live Theatre. It is the “family show” so the weekends are three matinees – two on Saturday and one on Sunday, and a Friday night show. “Robin Hood and the Heroes of Sherwood Forest” is the show.

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Next weekend I will be face painting in Dawson Creek, and Summer season will officially be kicking into full gear. I was ordering supplies last night to restock the essentials. When I have a crew of 10 working we go through a lot of rainbow cakes!

 

 


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Cake… Chocolate Cake… I’m in Heaven

I am sitting here trying NOT to have a third piece of my happy accident of a chocolate cake.

It actually started out as a recipe for Brownies – I saw a recipe for Almond Butter Brownies that was described as Paleo and I had the main ingredients so figured I’d throw it together as there was nothing really on television I was interested in.

Of course I left out the maple syrup that was in the original recipe (I don’t use any sweeteners) and then misread and used baking powder instead of baking soda, also added marscarpone cheese to add some level of sweetness.  I was also a bit short on the almond butter  so figured the cheese would compensate for that.

O.M.G.  I did not make brownies… I made a moist, tender, fluffy DELICIOUS chocolate cake!  When the toothpick came out clean I took it out – it had risen quite a bit more than I expected but I anticipated it would fall as it cooled.  It didn’t.

When I cut a piece to try, the texture was perfectly cake like, not brownie like at all. It was so good!  The marscarpone and the almond butter had a sweetness and the added 70% chocolate chips also added some.

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LCHF Gluten Free Almond Butter & Marscarpone Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:

1 cup Almond Butter

1/3 cup Marscarpone Cheese

2 tbsp Coconut Oil

1/2 cup Whipping Cream (33% fat)

3 eggs

1 tsp Vanilla

1/2 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

2 tsp Baking Powder

1/8 tsp Salt

1/2 cup Chopped Pecans or other nuts (optional)

1/2 cup 70% Cocoa Chocolate Chips (or higher if you find them) (optional)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375F
  2. In a mixing bowl combine the Almond Butter, Marscarpone Cheese, Coconut Oil and blend them together till they are smooth.
  3. Then add the Whipping Cream, Eggs and Vanilla and mix well with an electric hand mixer.
  4. Sift the Cocoa Powder, Baking Powder and Salt together, then add a bit at a time to the wet ingredients mixing well before adding more.
  5. Continue to mix, increasing to the highest speed on the mixer for a minute or so – ensure there are no lumps in the batter.
  6. Stir in the Pecans and Chocolate Chips by hand.
  7. Spray an 8×8″ baking pan with non-stick spray and dust with a teaspoon of coconut flour, shake the flour around to coat the pan and then knock the excess out.
  8. Scoop the batter into the pan and spread out evenly.
  9. Put on the centre rack of the oven for approximately 15 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the centre, if it comes out clean it is done.
  10. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before eating.

I didn’t top it with anything but I’m sure a drizzle of melted chocolate and/or whipped cream would be awesome.

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p.s. It is great for breakfast too!


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Pancakes!

While I would have to say I miss potatoes the most, I get the occasional craving for pancakes.  We used to have them every Sunday for breakfast and sometimes for dinner.

I tried three or four different LCHF/Paleo/Keto recipes for pancakes and was NOT happy with any of them.  They had to be teensy cause they wouldn’t flip, fell apart, were greasy because of the amount of fat that had to be in the pan to stop them from sticking, the mouth texture was unpleasant, etc.  I ended up throwing all those attempts out.

A couple of weeks back I was thinking about pancakes, again, and had an epiphany.  What if I BAKED them?  They should dry out and not need flipping… and  I could come up with my own recipe.

So I sat and wrote out a recipe from scratch, using what I have learned from trial and error, and personal preference.

The first time I didn’t photograph it as it was a test run but they were great!  But just a tad on the dry side.  This morning I made them again – adding an additional ingredient and a little more of another and they are perfect!  Light, fluffy, the texture of “normal” pancakes.  I would put money on people not being able to tell they aren’t “normal” pancakes actually.

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Here’s my recipe.

LCHF/Gluten Free Baked Pancakes

Preheat oven to 400F

2 ounces of butter

4 ounces of cream cheese

4 large eggs

1 cup almond flour

2 tablespoons of coconut flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

2 tablespoons of water

  1. Mix dry ingredients together in a small bowl.
  2. In another bowl, using an electric hand mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese until fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating at medium speed until well incorporated.
  4. While the mixer is running add the dry ingredients a bit at a time until all combined.
  5. Add the water and beat on high speed for about a minute.  If the mix appears to be too stiff add a bit more water – it should look like normal pancake batter at this stage.
  6. Let the batter rest for about five minutes – at this point it will thicken up a bit which is fine.
  7. While the batter is resting, cover a large baking sheet with baking parchment.
  8. Scoop out batter with a spoon/cup, etc. onto the cookie sheet and spread out to your desired size.  I made mine (this time) about 6 inches across like regular pancakes!
  9. Place on the centre rack in a pre-heated 400F oven for 10 minutes.
  10. Remove from oven and serve with your desired toppings.

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This recipe made five pancakes. They did spread a bit when baked and ran into each other, so the edges had to be cut, but that is easily fixed next time!  And… first time I used parchment, this time I didn’t… USE THE PARCHMENT PAPER!  Or silicone pad, etc.

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I drench my pancakes in butter.

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I like mine with peanut butter or cheese – I couldn’t finish though.  I did eat the left over stack later for lunch, and the remaining two are in the fridge for tomorrow.

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These keep in the fridge and you can freeze and reheat in the toaster for a quick breakfast too.  Or even use for a sandwich or pizza crust, etc.


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Aw Nuts!

Sometimes I just want a bowl of cereal…

But as I no longer eat grain of any description that means Vanilla Almond Crunch or Mini-Wheats are out of the question.

I saw some recipes for homemade grain free “granola” but there were a lot of ingredients I wasn’t going to bother with like coconut, hemp and chia seeds, flax seeds, coconut oil, etc.

I have nothing against coconut – I am just not on the coconut oil bandwagon.

And I wasn’t going to process it in a food processor either.

But in reading the various recipes I decided I would invent my own mix.  I have to say it is bloody fantastic!  Crunchy, nutty, satisfying and with cream you really think you are eating a bowl of “cereal.”

When my sister was here looking after me after my surgery she ate a bowl of it everyday and asked for the recipe.

The amounts are approximate, basically adjust to suit your tastes – use your favourite nuts and seeds, increase/decrease the spices, use other spices, etc.  If I buy the nuts in bags, I just toss in the whole bag.

This makes quite a big batch of 4 cups and keeps in the cupboard in a sealed container.

Cinnamon Ginger Nut “Cereal”

Preheat oven to 350F.

1 1/2 cups sliced almonds

1 cup chopped macadamia nuts

1 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds

2 tsp melted butter

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

  1. Put all the nuts in a mixing bowl.
  2. Melt the butter and add to the nuts, stirring very well to coat all the nuts.
  3. Add the vanilla to the nuts and stir well, making sure that the nuts are all evenly coated.
  4. Add the cinnamon and ginger and stir really well, making sure that everything looks evenly distributed.
  5. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper and dump the nut mixture onto it. Spread out evenly on the sheet – ideally the nuts should be in a single layer with gaps.
  6. Bake at 350F for 5 minutes – then check and stir the nuts.  Return to oven as necessary to have the nuts starting to turn golden brown – you can really start to smell them toasting at this point.  Keep a close eye on them as it is a very fine line between well toasted and burnt!  It will depend on your oven how long it will take to get them where you want them.  Taste one to check!
  7. Once the nuts are as toasted as you prefer, remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet.
  8. Once the nuts are cool, place in an airtight container to store.
  9. Eat as is, or add cream or milk of your preference.

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Cookies!

I’ve been missing cookies quite a bit lately – it being the season and all.  And my sister is providing a play-by-play of her baking which makes me miss them even more.

Just something about the crisp crunch with a cup of tea, ya know?

I check out recipes all the time for low carb cookies – they invariably contain sugar substitutes, which I don’t use.

A recipe for “gluten free” cookies showed up the other day – which looked like something that I could alter.

I adjusted things to suit myself and I am so happy!  They turned out really well – like shortbread.  I’m really hoping they stay the texture they are and don’t soften up.  I have to stop eating them for the day though – as I added 70% chocolate chips to them and don’t want to go over on that!

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Pecan Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Cookies

1 cup butter (8 oz.)

1/2 cup cream cheese (4 oz.)

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla (or any flavour extract you like, almond, etc. – next time I am going to use lemon zest!)

2 cups almond flour (16 oz.)

1/2 cup coconut flour (4 oz)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chopped pecans (4 oz)

1/2 cup 70% dark chocolate (or higher if you can find them) chips (4 oz)

Cream the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla, then the eggs one at a time.  Continue beating to incorporate each before adding the next.

Add in the combined dry ingredients a cup at a time, beating well between additions.

The dough will be pretty sticky.  Lay out some plastic wrap and dump the dough onto it, shape into a roll, wrap and refrigerate for 4-6 hours (overnight is good.)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Cut the roll into slices a little less than 1/2 inch thick – thinner tended to break-up due to the nuts and chocolate chips.  Lay on a parchment lined baking sheet.  They won’t spread so you can fill it up pretty tight!  If any break or crumble just press the dough together to shape it.

Bake for 10-12 minutes – the edges should just be turning brown.

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Let them cool on the sheet, then move to a container, or eat them.  They stay together to hold in your hand but crumble when you bite into them!

Next time I am leaving out the chocolate as I really like the ones that ended up with only nuts in them.  Then I can eat more of them without worrying about spiking my blood sugar levels!

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The new me, to-date

Had my monthly weigh and measure at the gym on Friday.  And we took some “after” photos… well, it isn’t after really, as I am still doing everything I have been so let’s call them “progress” photos!

This shows me in 2002 around the time I was told I was pre-diabetic – I had already lost a bit of weight at the time of the time of the photo; middle was in October 2005 and my weight was documented at 274.6 lbs; and third is Friday at 173 lbs.

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We figure I probably maxed out around 375 when I was at my largest… but no weight records exist… but compare the above to this photo taken in 2000, shortly after I arrived in Grande Prairie:

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That means I’ve managed to lose about 200 lbs. since moving up here almost 17 years ago.

Initially it was just a change in lifestyle – no more lattes or second breakfasts on the way to work, packing a lunch as going out to buy it wasn’t convenient, jobs with some physical activity involved.  Then, a more conscious effort to control my health by cutting out excess sugar, etc. The loss of the first 100 was not a specific diet, just a collection of changes that resulted in the loss over a period of about five years.

Over the next ten years my weight would fluctuate depending on my activity level, which was directly tied to the jobs I had.  Working graveyard shift on my feet netted a drop of about 30 lbs over a couple of months.  Working in retail also caused weight loss and better fitness levels.

Stress would change my eating habits too, causing weight changes.  After Neil died I dropped some, and both times mom was in the hospital I lost quite a bit.

Then since December 2015 when I completely changed my way of eating to Low Carb High Fat to control my diabetes I have lost another 62 lbs. (so far!)

The weight loss has slowed considerably now, which is what I was expecting to happen. I’m now only dropping a couple of pounds a month, rather than the 10 I was losing to start with.  With the slower drop I am noticing that some of the loose skin is tightening up a bit and my muscle mass is increasing with going to the gym regularly.

In my photo from Friday I am wearing my size 12 yoga pants and a medium top!  That’s pretty exciting for me.  I get teased at the gym as I tend to wear oversized (XL men’s sweat pants and 3XL t-shirts!) to workout in, but I have them so I am wearing them until they are ready for the garbage or won’t stay up!  I only wear the skinny clothes for measuring days and photo ops!

My regular wardrobe is all new – all old items have been donated, recycled or thrown out. I still need to get a new heavy winter coat for -40C.  What I have now are not rated for that, but I wanted to wait until I needed it to make sure I got a nice fitting one. I used to always wear men’s winter gear – this year I am getting women’s!