Incredible Dairy Free Caramel Sauce!

Well, I must say there are times I’m pretty happy with the results of my experimentation, and this is one!

To start with:
My husband and I have had a wee bit of life changes since my last post. My oldest daughter wrote and produced her first EP album (check her music out: Here), moved to Denver and became an interior designer. My youngest graduated college, fledged the nest and is now working in the computer coding field.
Both are totally ‘rockin’ adulting.
In July hubby and I celebrated our 30th anniversary with a 12 day trip cruise along the Alaska inner passage. We lived in a teeny tiny space w/ 1 suitcase of clothing for 12 days. It was a bit of a revelation for me that I could happily live in a small space with so little, for an extended period of time. (Don’t judge me if you are already a minimalist, I have lived in our home for 20 yrs!)

Liberating actually.

With a fresh mental frame of reference, returning back home to a beast of a house and yard, I had the itch for change, and a desire to have the freedom to pick up and GO! Also, hubster has been bearing the brunt of a horrific commute from our little sleepy suburb into the city. While that commute has increasingly become unbearable for him, I won’t lie, I was terrified of change. However, the wonderful house I enjoyed raising my daughters in and entertaining many friend with now felt like a giant burden of maintenance and work.
With that mental ‘shift’, I proceeded to spend the next 3 months purging and prepping the house for sale. Fortunately my husband travels often, because it was a whirlwind and I was a crazed woman on a mission.
In the process I discovered WOW! We have accumulated a whole lot of CRAP in 20 years!

We had a buyer straight away with a request for a (less than) 30 day closing. We agreed and made arrangements to put the bulk of our stuff in storage and move into an apartment until we could decided what we wanted to do.

So Now:
Here I am. In an apartment. It’s just me, hubby, and our two furry kids.

It is a teeny tiny space, so I have very little to clean and maintain, best of all…no yard! With so much time freed up, I have the the luxury to reacquaint myself with the things I used to love, but became yet another chore: cooking and baking.
Our unit has a tiny but efficient kitchen with a gas stove. The layout is the perfect cooking triangle and with a step stool always at hand to reach the very high cupboards, I’m learning to make use of the most basic of equipment and tools to craft meals.

Hubby took off this weekend for a boys outing, so I invited my daughter to come and have a sleepover.
We went to the local apple orchard and got fresh baking and eating apples. We stopped at the store to get ingredients for a GF/DF Pizza as well as to make an apple crisp. While we were waiting for the crisp to bake and the pizza dough to rise, I made her a ‘snack’ of honey crisp apple slices and yes….a dairy free caramel sauce!

I was skeptical that I could make it work, but wow! I was so pleased! It was really, really, REALLY good!
I’ve always loved Nigella Lawsons Sticky Toffee Sauce from a decade ago. Its super easy and hard to mess up, but it is made with butter and cream.  I used her recipe as a platform to springboard off of for my DF caramel sauce.
I’ve raved about the Miyokos Vegan Butter in previous posts, but let me tell ya, if you can tolerate cashews its’ a real game changer! It is a worthy substitute for the butter. Dairy cream was replaced by coconut cream and no, I don’t mean the stuff from a carton. I mean the firm layer of solidified coconut that comes from a can of coconut cream. (Do not use the liquid at the bottom, nor stir it together, only use the solid ‘cream’.)
My daughter in the photo is dipping while it was still warm. It thickened up properly after it sat for a good hour.

Give it a whirl and let me know what you think. I think I’ve struck gold on this one, and I will be using it on homemade GF/DF cinnamon rolls, ice ‘cream’, and in our caramel apple cider in the future.

Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Sauce

3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp white sugar
1/2 c Lyles Golden Syrup (there is no substituting this, but it is now easy to find)
2 tbsp Miyokos Vegan Butter
1/2 C coconut cream (the solids from the can, not the liquid, see notes in post above)
splash of vanilla

Melt the sugar, syrup and ‘butter’ in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring it to a boil and let it bubble for 3-5 min. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn.
Add the cream and vanilla, remove from heat and stir until combined.
It will thicken as it cools.

Leave a comment below and let me know what you think!
(And don’t forget to check out my daughters music – Here!)


Domestic Goddess Cooking Tip – Turkey Stock-Recipe Included (2019 Updates!)

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Are you making Thanksgiving for a crowd, want a turkey stock that makes enough for your stuffing (see Netties Stuffing) and a boat load of gravy?

Domestic Goddess Tip of the Day: Clip the tips off the wings, leaving the drummie and meaty finger.

You can also add saved up chicken necks or chicken wings to your stock to ‘Oomph’ up the flavor. I always cook the Neck, Gizzards and Heart in the stock, (But do NOT add the Liver. Cook your liver separate in a small skillet with a little butter, then dice it up and add back to the gravy, along with the neck meat, diced heart and gizzard. Cooking the liver in the stock can impart a bitter taste. Trust me, it’s quite delicious and a great way to get the fam to eat organ meats)
The flavor that resides in the poultry fat is water soluble. So, by adding the fatty wings, you pull out the flavor and can then skim & throw away the fat.

(2019 Update) Over the past couple of years, I have increasingly seen my meat departments carry packages of necks, wings and gizzards BEFORE the holiday! It’s so totally awesome! Now, I head out to the grocery a week in advance (you can freeze the stock, so you could make it a month in advance if you can find the meats)
For this batch I now use 3 quarts water, add 2 necks, 2-4 wings, back bone (if included), and the gizzards (not liver). Using the added meats really increases the collagen and richness of the stock, I highly recommend to ‘go big’ and make a full stock pot of stock, then you have stock for your dressing, gravy and soup the next day.
Then again, you may want just enough for the big meal itself. Its a flexible recipe, add a bit more or less of the herbs depending on your tastes. I now add a couple palm fulls of herbs de provence and strain the stock after cooking, squeezing as much goodness out of those bones.

Here is my ‘go-to’ flexible recipe for Turkey Stock:
3 quarts of water
3-4 large Carrots, rough chopped
3-4 Stalks of Celery, rough chopped
1 Large (or 2 medium) Onions, rough chopped
1/2 a bunch of Parsley (the stocks of parsley are a great way to pinch a penny and use something people usually throw-away)
2-3 sprigs of Fresh Sage (or 1 tbsp dried)
2-3 sprigs of Fresh Thyme (or 1 tbsp dried)
Turkey Neck, heart, giblets and wing tips or whole wings, don’t forget the tail is good to clip and use in your stock also.
whole peppercorns

Let it simmer, lid off for at least an hour, maybe 2. I usually end up with about 8 cups of stock. If you do this the day before (like I do) while your turkey is brining overnight, strain and store overnight in the fridge.

(2019 Update) I make this now about 5 days in advance. When cold, the fat will rise to the top and is easy to peel off. This stock makes a gravy your family and friends will rave about…so make sure you make a big batch!

Rarely does anyone eat the the wing, while the cartilage and fat add a lot of flavor. So try this little trick of mine!

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Got Turkey? Brine it!

This next spring will be the big 2-5 celebrating hubby’s and my wedded bliss, which means I have been making Thanksgiving for going on 25 years, give or take a year or two away from home. That means, I have tried many brands of turkey and tried many variations of preparation. After some ok, mediocre, or pretty good variations, I have settled on the trick of brining my bird every year, which results in a perfectly seasoned, very tender, juicy and flavorful turkey. I also think I’ve perfected the cooking method, but we’ll leave that for another day.
(see How to Cook a Turkey)

First of all, do not use a pre-seasoned turkey like Butterball or Jennie-O. Those have already been injected with a solution to yield moist & seasoned turkeys. I have done the injection method from scratch, but I find it hit or miss.
I prefer not to ingest some of the additives, and I also like to control what goes in to my food. Brining allows me that control.

For this recipe, I use an all-natural, hormone-free, free range organic turkey, but just natural is perfectly fine. I like to try and support local farmers, so I find stores that carry fresh turkeys grown locally. Most people steer away from natural, free-range turkeys because they can be dry and tough. This method will ensure a tender, moist bird you can be proud to put on the table. An added benefit is the highly seasoned, flavorFULL gravy that results.
(Note: Do not add salt to your gravy until you have tasted it. The drippings will be naturally salty from the brine, so be sure to taste test and season the gravy. I have never had to add salt to my gravy since I started brining.)

Let’s begin.

First of all, pull together your brining solution. I saw this trick on an episode of Alton Browns “Good Eats” and it honestly is the best Thanksgiving tip ever. Use a construction cooler. You know, the orange kind you can buy at the hardware store? I bought mine a few years back and use it every year, sanitizing it after each use. (bleach, soap and hot water) I just mix the brine up directly in the bottom of the cooler and plop the turkey in:

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That is one happy turkey!
Then follow that with a 7 pound bag of ice. I use bagged ice because it’s easier and I know that the ice is pure and clean tasting, not having any off odors or tastes that love to settle in home ice makers.

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Finally, put the lid on tight, and stuff in an out of the way corner. I do this the day before Thanksgiving, usually late afternoon, early evening. The next morning, I pull the turkey out, rinse it off, pat it dry and let it stand covered for an hour before rubbing with herbed butter and baking. You can also use the handy-dandy pour spout and drain the water out directly into your sink! Your bird will sit in the brine for 8-12 hours, so back into your cooking time, allowing for some time for the bird to dry and come to room temp. The largest bird I’ve done this way was 20 pounds. Anything bigger and it won’t fit in the cooler.

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Seriously, how easy is that? This method frees up your refrigerator, which is usually full to the brim anyway, and yields a truly yummy turkey and incredible drippings. Give it a try, and tell me how it went!

Honey Turkey Brine

1 gallon Very Hot Water
1 pound Kosher Salt
2 quarts Vegetable Broth
1 pound Honey
1 7-lb bag of ice
1/2 package Fresh Sage, roughly torn (you can use 1 tbsp of dried added to the hot water)
1/2 bunch of Fresh Parsley, roughly torn (do not use dried)
2-3 tbsp Herbs de Provence, added to the hot water to release the flavors.

Combine the hot water (and if using – dried herbs) and salt in the construction cooler. Stir until the salt dissolves. Pour in the vegetable broth and honey. Add half the ice and give a stir.

ALLOW TO COOL!

Place turkey, breast up – feet up – in the cooler. I submerge the bird as best as possible to get the brine in the cavity. Dump the last of the ice over the top. cover and let brine for 8-12 hours.

*Note: You can use a vegetable boullion also like Better than Boullion. The additional salt will not be a problem.