September 17, 2011

Coconut Chai Cupcakes

My life has changed a lot since I last posted in August.  Most notably, I moved to Greenpoint, Brooklyn! Anyone who's ever moved knows that the process will likely take over your life for at least a month.  First it was apartment hunting and viewing, then packing and driving and moving and sweating.  Now it's furniture shopping and cleaning and organizing. 

chai infused coconut milk. mm mmm
I've only been in my apartment for about two weeks and things are slowly coming together.  My walls are freshly painted, my clothes are hung in the closet, I have a bed, a dresser, and an organized shoe collection (!).  I've been cooking a lot (of course), but my meals have been much simpler and much less photogenic.  If you can believe it, I haven't baked a thing yet! I just haven't had the time or energy, but I'm hoping to change that very soon.

For now, I'll leave you with the last thing I baked before I moved out: Coconut Chai Cupcakes for my friend Ashley's birthday.  I used the Chai Cake recipe from Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes, but modified it by using light coconut milk instead of whole milk, Celestial Seasonings' Sweet Coconut Thai tea for steeping, and changing the spice mixture up a bit.

The cupcakes came out beautifully.  They tasted like fall and had a tender crumb, a light sweetness, and a pleasant spice.  I made my own frosting using coconut oil, coconut flour, a bit of light coconut milk, agave nectar and powdered sugar.  It came out pretty well (and was my first time using coconut oil and flour for frosting), but was nothing to write home about.  The cake is definitely worth it though and just right for this time of year.

I'll leave you with a link to the recipe in case you don't have a copy of Sky High: http://tendercrumb.blogspot.com/2009/04/chai-cake-w-honey-ginger-cream-tcs.html

August 14, 2011

Gluten-Free Banana Bread Pancakes with Quick Stone Fruit Compote

Don't mind the computer in the background, focus on the pancakes
Over the past few weeks I've had a few recipe flops. I'll go into the kitchen with every intention, and expectation, to come out with something blog-worthy, but to no avail. Saturday morning I went into the kitchen with no expectations. I was in the mood to experiment, and didn't look at a single recipe beforehand. Lo and behold something amazing emerged.

Theses pancakes are not only super simple, healthy, and tasty, they're also gluten-free. Woah. They're thick, fluffy, not mushy, and absolutely perfect for topping with coconut oil, maple syrup, almond butter, or this quick stone fruit compote.

I can't wait until next weekend when I have the morning leisure time to make them again, or maybe I'll just have to have pancakes for dinner one night this week.  Worse things have happened.

Gluten-Free Banana Bread Pancakes
Serves 1

Ingredients
1 small ripe banana, or 2/3 large banana
1 egg
1 tablespoon buckwheat flour
1 tablespoon coconut flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

coconut oil for cooking

Preparation
In a medium bowl, mash the banana with a fork until smooth. Beat in the egg. Sift in the buckwheat flour, coconut flour, and baking powder. Mix until combined.

Heat coconut oil in a non-stick skillet (this is important, I used my non-non-stick griddle and while my pancakes turned out fine, flipping was very difficult). Once hot, pour the batter into desired size pancakes. Cook for 3-4 minutes per side (they're ready to flip when air bubbles begin to form and burst).

Quick Stone Fruit Compote
Ingredients

1 peach or nectarine, chopped
1 plum, chopped
1 tablespoon water
3 whole cloves
3 cardamom pods, cracked
1-2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preparation
Add all ingredients to a small saucepan and cook until fruit has softened and water has dissolved into a syrup.

July 10, 2011

Hemp Chia Pudding

For the past couple of weeks, I've had a new breakfast obsession.  No, it's not oatmeal or even green smoothies.  It's chia pudding and it's the perfect summer breakfast.  Let me count the ways: 1) it's served chilled or at room temperature so there's no need to turn on the oven or stove, 2) it's completely portable (I've been enjoying it on the train to work), 3) it fills me up and holds me over 'til lunch without weighing heavily on my stomach, 4) it's easily customizable, 5) it's delicious! Oh, and it's also 100% raw, vegan, and completely nutritious.  What's not to love?

When I first started making chia pudding, I used a very basic 'recipe,' if you could even call it that-- it was just almond milk, vanilla extract, and chia seeds.  I enjoyed the simplicity, but after awhile, I got a little bored.  Enter dates and hemp seeds.  I love the flavor of both, though I hear some people are turned off by the "earthy/ grassy" flavor of hemp, it's never been a deal-breaker for me.  With just a little extra time an effort, these two ingredients really amp up both the flavor and nutritional profile of your basic chia pudding.

I topped this morning's bowl with banana, wild blueberries, raw cacao nibs, and almond butter.  Other great topping options are unsweetened shredded coconut, homemade granola, and whatever fresh or dried fruit you have on hand.

And by the way, if you're wondering what's so great about chia seeds (or hemp seeds) nutritionally, here's a quick run down: brands differ, but 2 tablespoons of chia seeds have about 6- 8 grams of fiber and 3- 4 grams of protein.  They're also a good source of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.  Hemp seeds also contain Omegas and are a good source of iron, potassium, magnesium and protein, with 2 tablespoons containing 8 grams of protein and all 8 essential amino acids (making them a complete protein).  But now, onto the recipe...

Hemp Chia Pudding
Serves 2- 3

Ingredients
1 3/4 cups unsweetened almond milk
2 medjool dates, pitted
2- 3 tablespoons raw, shelled hemp seeds
2- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
pinch sea salt
1/3 cup raw chia seeds

Preparation
In a food processor or blender, add all ingredients except the chia seeds and blend until smooth (or as smooth as you can get it in whatever device you're using).  Pour the milk mixture into a large bowl (use the same vessel that you're going to store it in) and mix in the chia seeds, making sure they stay separate and do not clump.  Let the mixture sit for about 10- 15 minutes and stir again, breaking up any clumps with a fork, if they've formed.  At this time, you may either transfer the mixture to the refrigerator to set up, or leave it at room temperature and move it to the fridge in another half hour or so. 

The pudding will last in the fridge for at least a week.  Add more almond milk as needed if mixture becomes too thick.  Enjoy chilled or at room temperature with whatever toppings you like!

June 19, 2011

My Go-To Granola

As I've mentioned before, I make granola often, but often, it goes undocumented.  I like to play around with different ingredeints and flavors depending on the season, but that doesn't mean I don't play favorites.  This is the recipe I keep coming back to; it's my standby.

I think I like this particular combination so much because it's filled with some of my favorite things: almonds, coconut, buckwheat, pumpkin seeds, and usually, maple syrup.   It's also extra crunchy, which I love, thanks to the buckwheat groats.  For this batch, I decided to experiment with a new sweetener I found on sale at Whole Foods: Coconut nectar.

Coconut nectar is a low-glycemic (GI of 35) sweetener that contains 17 amino acids and has a nearly neutral pH.   It's derived from the sap of coconut blossoms and the brand I purchased, Coconut Secret, is also 100% Raw, Vegan, and Gluten-Free. Needless to say, I was excited to try it, especially because I love natural coconut flavor.  Unfortunately, once I got home, I realized that "Coconut Nectar does not have a coconutty flavor." Bummer.

For those of you who are curious, if I had to compare the flavor of coconut nectar to anything it would probably be barley malt syrup or perhaps dark agave nectar.  It has a deep, not quite caramely flavor that I didn't particularly take to.  My verdict is that while the nectar is a worthy product, I definitely prefer the flavor of maple syrup.  So I'll be sticking with the deliciously reliable grade b maple syrup for my usual granola, but I'm still going to play around with other uses for the remainder of my coconut nectar.  As for this granola, recently I've been enjoying it mixed in a bowl with chopped apples and raisins and topped with almond milk.  Breakfast or snack perfection.

Go-To Granola
Ingredients

2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup raw buckwheat groats
1/2 cup raw almonds, chopped
1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds
2 1/2 tablespoons grade b maple syrup, coconut nectar, or other liquid sweetener
2 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon ground chia or ground flaxseed (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of sea salt

Preparation
Preheat your oven to 325 F.  Mix the first four ingredeints together in a large bowl.  In a small bowl (use the same one you melted the coconut oil in), whisk the last 5 ingredeints together and let sit for a few minutes to thicken if using ground chia/ flax.

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry until evenly coated.  Spread mixture onto a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20- 25 minutes, stirring every 10- 15 minutes, until golden.  Let cool and store in a sealed container.

June 12, 2011

Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies

To some of you, the combination of the words chickpea and blondie might make you shudder.  Trust me, I know how you feel.  When I first saw the "dessert hummus" recipes floating around the blog world, I cringed at the thought.  Sweet hummus?  It seemed so very wrong.  Soon enough though, my curiosity got the best of me and I tried my hand at some "cookie dough dip"-- more or less a blended mixture of chickpeas, nut butter, vanilla extract, maple syrup, and chocolate chips.  I didn't LOVE it, but really, it wasn't bad.  If I didn't have all these prior associations with hummus being a strictly savory Middle Eastern spread, I may have liked it even more.

Before the dessert hummus trend kicked in, Heidi from 101Cookbooks featured a recipe for Black Bean Brownies.  Initially, I was skeptical (though most of her recipes don't disappoint), but after this recent foray into the world of chickpea blondies, black bean brownies are definitely on my "must-bake" list.

To be honest, I didn't have high expectations going in to this recipe but I was pleasantly surprised with the results-- chickpea blondies are pretty good! And for all of you who are wondering: they don't taste like beans! Aside from being a fun kitchen experiment, they're are also great for those who are vegan and/or gluten-free.  I have to say, they might be some of the wholiest treats around.

Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies
If you don't have the two kinds of sweetener called for, I think these would work with 1/2 cup of either sucanat/ brown sugar or liquid sweetener. Also, feel free to add up to 3/4 cup sugar if you'd like them sweeter.  Next time I make these, I'll probably use a smaller pan because I like my blondies/ brownies to be thicker.

Adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie and Have Cake, Will Travel

1 1/2 cups chickpeas (1 can, drained and rinsed)
3 tablespoons sucanat or brown sugar
3 tablespoons agave nectar or maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
2 tablespoons coconut milk or almond milk
1/4 cup nut butter [I used 2 tbsps roasted almond butter and 2 tbsps roasted cashew]
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate

Preparation
Preheat your oven to 350 F.  Blend all ingredients (except chocolate) in a food processor until very smooth. Mix in chocolate, and spread evenly into a greased 8×8 pan.

Bake for about 22 minutes.  Blondies should be just starting to crack at the middles and turn golden at the edges.  You want them to look a little undercooked when you take them out, because if over-baking will result in a dry, crumbly texture.

Once fully cooled, cut into 16 squares and serve.

May 29, 2011

Really Good Bran Muffins with Prune Jam

It's hard to believe that before I went to college, breakfast used to be my least favorite meal. (Dinner was my favorite, specifically if it consisted of spaghetti bolognese.)  It's not that breakfast in college was so stellar, but when I moved off campus junior year, I started cooking for myself much more.  I also started reading food blogs and, soon, a whole new world of breakfast possibilities existed.

One thing I love to eat for breakfast is muffins.  I love muffins with coffee; I love them toasted with a smear of butter or coconut oil, and I even love them crumbled over yogurt or oatmeal (muffin-top oats, literally).  They're also one of my favorite things to bake.  (I've got tons of recipes here on the blog).

I think my most beloved (really trying not to say favorite again...) muffin would have to be the bran muffin, and that's not at all due to it's guise of healthfulness.  Don't get me wrong, some bran muffins are actually healthy (these, for example, are pretty virtuous), but most bakery varieties are LOADED with sugar to make up for the "blandness" of the bran.  Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I love the hearty texture and deep yet subtle wheat-y sweetness of a good bran muffin; when done right, they're really the bomb.

This particular bran muffins recipe is definitely done right.  It's from Good to the Grain, which I previously reviewed.  If you remember in my review, I was sadly unable to provide recipes from the book, but this time, I did some internet sleuthing and found the reprinted recipe online in The Washington Post.  So this time, you're in luck!  Enjoy these muffins lightly toasted, with smear of good quality salted butter and some of the remaining prune jam-- you'll have yourself the makings of a "favorite" breakfast, trust me.

Bran Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

When the batter is ready, fill alternate wells in the muffin tin so each muffin has room to spread out and bake evenly. When greasing the pans, make sure you grease outside the rim of each muffin well so the muffin top does not stick. [As usual, I didn't see this notation til it was too late so my muffins came out less-than-rounded on top-- doesn't take away from their deliciousness though!]
Adapted from Good to the Grain, reprinted via The Washington Post

Ingredients
For the jam*:
3 large oranges
1 1/2 cups pitted prunes

For the muffins:
1 1/2 cups wheat bran
2 cups buttermilk or almond milk with a squeeze of lemon
1/2 cup whole spelt flour
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
2 tablespoons muscavado or dark brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 tablespoons molasses
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 large egg

Preparation

Finely grate the zest of 1 orange to yield 1 tablespoon; reserve. Squeeze enough juice from the oranges through a sieve (to catch the pulp) to yield 1 cup.

Combine the juice and prunes in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring just to a boil, then cover and turn off the heat. Let sit for about 30 minutes, then use an immersion blender or food processor to puree the mixture until thick and smooth. The yield will be about 1 cup; 1/2 cup will be used for this recipe. Reserve the rest for another use.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use a litte butter to grease 12 alternating muffin wells in the muffin pan or pans (see headnote).

Measure the wheat bran into a medium bowl. Warm the buttermilk or almond milk in a small saucepan over the lowest possible heat setting; it will separate if overheated. Pour the milk over the bran, stirring to combine.

In a large bowl, sift together the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon adding any bits of grain or sugar that remain in the sifter.

Whisk together the molasses, melted butter, egg, the 1/2 cup of prune puree and the orange zest in another bowl, making sure the egg is well incorporated. Add the mixture to the milk-bran mixture, stirring, then add the resulting mixture to the flour mixture and mix well to form a batter.
Use an ice cream scoop to portion the batter evenly among the 12 prepared muffin wells. The batter should be slightly mounded. Bake for 30 to 34 minutes, rotating the pan(s) halfway through, until the muffin bottoms have darkened (twist a muffin out to check) and the tops spring back to the touch.

Place the muffin pan(s) on top of the stove and gently twist out the muffins, letting them cool on their sides halfway out of their individual wells; that will help keep them from becoming soggy.

These muffins are best eaten when fully cooled. If baked in the evening for the next morning, cool completely, then cover with a clean dish towel.

*Only half of the prune puree is used in this recipe. The remaining puree can be refrigerated or frozen and used for a jam or for another batch of muffins. The muffins can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

May 21, 2011

Dilly Lentil Potato Salad

Today is a perfect day, at least in terms of weather.  It's about 68/70 F, sunny, just a little bit breezy, and not too humid; it's just right.  Days like this don't come around too often so I try to enjoy them as much as possible when they do. 

After yoga this morning, I went back and forth in my head about what I should do to make the most of this beautiful weather, but I was over-thinking it.  Mid-way through getting ready to force myself out the door and do something, I thought to myself, "All I really want is sit outside, read, update my blog, and make/ eat something delicious.  So here I am, in my backyard, soaking in the all too infrequent bright weather and eating the perfect potato salad.

If you're familiar with my blog, you've probably noticed that most of my savory recipes are not exactly, well... exact.  I don't measure much when I cook, and sometimes I don't even measure when I bake (I know, the horror).  So here's my rough recipe for a fresh take on potato salad.  I hope you'll be able to find a perfectly weather-ed day to enjoy it.

Dilly Lentil Potato Salad
Inspired by Heidi Swanson's Mostly Not Potato Salad

Ingredients
new potatoes, fingerling potatoes or a mix
1 1/2 cups cooked lentils (any kind but red)
cucumber, chopped
grape tomatoes, halved
scallions, chopped
fresh dill

Dressing
equal parts whole grain mustard
and white or red wine vinegar
olive oil
sea salt
a teeny bit of agave nectar or honey

Preparation
Boil a pot of salted water.  Clean the potatoes and halve or quarter them so they are as close to uniform sizes as possible. When the water boils add the potatoes and cook until tender but not falling apart. Drain and set aside. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing.

In a large bowl add the potatoes, lentils, chopped cucumber, and tomatoes.  Season liberally with fresh dill. Pour the dressing over top and lightly toss.  top with scallions and serve room temperature or chilled.

P.s.- This is wonderful to pack for lunches during the week, especially if you work in an office that lacks a microwave and toaster (I'm not naming names).

May 14, 2011

Orange Creamsicle Cake

This is a cake for spring.  It's also a cake for Moms.  It's light, sophisticated, and both unique and simple at the same time.  Although chocolate cake is my drug of choice, it just doesn't fit the bill for a sunny day in early May; this does.

Just so you know, this recipe is for a two layer cake but I decided to kill two birds with one stone this weekend and make two one layer cakes.  I brought one layer, spiced up (literally) with crystalized ginger inside and out, to a potluck dinner party in celebration of my friend's cookbook last Saturday.  And I kept the other ginger-free layer to enjoy with my Mom and sister on Mother's day.

While people at the potluck may not have been waiting in line to dig their forks into "Orange Cake," once they tried it, I think they were hooked.  I've decided to call this an "Orange Creamsicle Cake" because somehow 'creamsicle' makes the whole thing sound so much more appealing.  Yup, it's all in the name.

Orange Creamsicle Cake
Adapted from How Sweet It Is

Ingredients
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/4 cups cake flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
~5 large oranges, zested and juiced
3/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup orange zest

Vanilla Cream Buttercream
Ingredients
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
6 oz neufchatel cheese or cream cheese
contents of 1 vanilla bean
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons cashew butter, raw or roasted (optional)
enough powdered sugar to reach desired consistency/ sweetness

Shredded coconut (I recommend a mix of sweetened and unsweetened)

Preparation
Cake
Preheat over to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 8-inch cake pans.  Zest and juice the oranges.  Sift flour, salt and baking power in a medium bowl and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, then add vanilla. After the mixture has come together, add in half the of the dry ingredients and mix. Stir in the orange juice and then the rest of the dry ingredients. Lastly, fold in the orange zest.

Pour batter into prepared cake pans. Bake for 18- 25 minutes, or until tested inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.

Frosting
Cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add contents of vanilla bean contents, extract, and cashew butter if using.  Add in powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until you reach desired consistency/ sweetness. Frost cake and then cover with coconut.  Decorate as desired.

May 2, 2011

Three Bean Salad with Rosemary Dressing

Spring is springing, or at least it's supposed to be, and that means more fresh produce, lighter meals, and sunshine.  As much as New York weather may want me to fight it, I'm beginning to warm up to idea of springtime salads.

This salad was inspired by one I spotted on the menu at Le Verdure, the vegetable centric restaurant in the Flatiron Italian food mecca known as Eataly.  On a beautiful day about two weeks back, I walked over to Eataly after work and enjoyed a relaxing solo meal at the bar of Le Verdure.  I saw this salad on the menu but ultimately ended up choosing two hefty slices of bruschetta-- one with mushrooms and braised kale, and the other with oven roasted cherry tomatoes and fresh ricotta cheese.  Both were delicious but I left wondering if I should have gotten the salad, as it continued to linger in my mind.

The next day, I decided to recreate my own vision of 'the salad that got away' at home; this is what I came up with.

Three Bean Salad with Rosemary Dressing
No measurements here as I don't find them necessary when making salads.  Use ingredients to your liking.
Ingredients
 
Haricot verts
Wax beans
Garbanzo beans
Cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
Kalamata olives, halved
Butter lettuce, romaine, or a mix

Dressing
Rosemary olive oil, or chopped fresh rosemary and olive oil
White wine vinegar
fine grain sea salt
black pepper

Preparation
Blanch the haricot verts and wax beans. (Fill a large bowl with fresh water and ice cubes, place in the sink.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, pour in the beans and boil for a minute or less. Pour into a collander to drain hot water and then quickly submerge beans into the ice water bath to stop cooking).  Cut into halves or thirds and pour into a large bowl.  Add the garbanzo beans, tomatoes, olives, and butter lettuce.  Whisk dressing ingredients in a bowl and pour over salad.  Lightly toss with hands and serve.  Season with salt, pepper, or extra rosemary as needed. Or top with Rosemary Crackers, if you've got any!

April 24, 2011

Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Cream Cheese Glaze

Easter breakfast

Pre-roll

Neater than expected

Post-rise

Up close and personal

Ready

Go!

Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Cream Cheese Glaze
I put a range for amounts of sweetener in the because it depends how decadent and dessert-like you want these rolls to be.  Also, the above picture of the filling shows the addition of unsweetened coconut flakes but I've omitted them from the recipe below because I couldn't taste them. 
Adapted from Healthy Food for Living

Ingredients
Dough:
1 cup almond milk, warmed
2 tablespoons full fat coconut milk
2 1/4 teaspoons (or one .25 oz packet) active dry yeast
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 heaping cup grated carrots (2 large carrots will give you about 1 1/2 cups-- use about 1 cup for the dough and save the remaining 1/2 cup for the filling)
1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup unbleached bread flour (plus up to 1/4 cup for kneading and rolling)
1 tablespoon baking powder
2- 6 tablespoons sugar, depending on desired sweetness
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt

Filling:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/3- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup raisins

Glaze:
1/3 cup neufchatel (1/3-less-fat) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1- 2 tablespoons almond milk
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preparation
Dough:
Lightly grease a 9-inch round cake pan. Set aside.

Scatter yeast over warmed milk and allow to activate for about 10-15 minutes, or until frothy. Meanwhile, whisk together both kinds of flour, baking powder, sugar, spices, and salt in a large bowl. When yeast and milk mixture is bubbly, stir in the melted butter and grated carrots. Add wet ingredients into the dry and mix just until incorporated.

Transfer dough onto a clean lightly floured surface and knead until soft and smooth, adding enough extra flour (up to 1/4 cup) to keep dough from sticking, about 2 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes.

Filling:
Lightly flour work surface again and roll dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness, about a 12-inch x 9-inch rectangle.  Mix the maple syrup and half the melted butter together in a small dish and then brush the mixture onto the surface of your dough.  Next, evenly sprinkle on the remaining 1/2 cup of grated carrots and the brown sugar, followed by the walnuts and raisins.

Starting at one end, tightly roll the dough jelly roll-style, making sure the filling doesn’t come out at the sides. Gently pinch seam closed. Cut the roll into 8 even pieces and place in prepared pan.  If you are making the rolls ahead of time, cover the pan and place in the refrigerator overnight.  If you are planning on baking the rolls today, preheat the oven to 350 F.  Cover the pan with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Remove the towel and brush the remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter over the tops of the rolls.  Bake rolls at 350°degrees for about 20- 25 minutes, or until lightly golden on top.

Glaze:
While cinnamon rolls are baking, prepare the cream cheese glaze. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk all glaze ingredients together until smooth.

Remove rolls from the oven and transfer to a wire rack. The easiest way to do this is to run a knife around the outside of the rolls, place a large plate over top, and invert the cake pan so that the rolls fall out into the plate. Place the rack on top of the rolls and invert the plate so that the rolls are right side up on the rack. Drizzle with glaze and serve warm.

    April 20, 2011

    Vegan Almond Butter Cookies

    We're all familiar with peanut butter cookies, but have you ever tried using a different nut butter in these classic cookies?  It seems like peanut butter gets all the love when it comes to baking.  While I can't argue about its deliciousness, some people (i.e. me) have difficulty digesting peanuts because they are a mucus forming food. (Yes, I did just use my food blog to direct you to an article entitled, "More About Mucus than You Ever Wanted to Know."  I'm really sorry about that.)  Mucus aside (ok, I'll stop now), there are also a high number of people with severe peanut allergies so, oxymoronic as it may be, I decided to make a peanut-free peanut butter cookie.

    The recipe for these Almond Butter Cookies is so quick and simple.  While I was quite pleased with the results, I do have a confession to make: I think I enjoyed the dough more than the actual baked cookie.  That's the wonderful, and wonderfully dangerous, thing about vegan cookies-- raw dough is definitely not off-limits.

    Indecisive as usual I made two versions of these cookies.  Half plain, topped with sprinkles for some added pizzaz, and half chocolate chip.  As I'm sure you've guessed, the chocolate chip were better.

    Vegan Almond Butter Cookies
    Heidi notes to look for a nut butter that is well combined, and not super-oily (extra slick) looking - to avoid problems with the cookie batter.  If you aren't in the mood for chocolate chips, I think some chopped almonds, cinnamon, or raisins could be nice additions.  Also, I reduced the amount of sweetener in this recipe from 1 cup down to 2/3 cup.  If you're looking for a sweeter cookie, use the original amount.
    Adapted from 101Cookbooks

    Ingredients
    2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, spelt flour, or unbleached all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
    1 cup almond butter, smooth or chunky [I used Trader Joe's Creamy Roasted Almond Butter]
    2/3 cup grade B maple syrup
    1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (subtract about a tablespoon if you feel your nut butter is very oily)
    1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    chopped dark chocolate (optional)
    Preparation
    Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Place racks in the top third of the oven.

    In a medium mixing bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. in a separate larger bowl combine the almond butter, maple syrup, olive oil, and vanilla. Stir until combined. Pour the flour mixture over the almond butter mixture and stir until barely combined - still a bit dusty looking. Let sit for five minutes, give one more quick stir, just a stroke or two.

    Now drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking sheets and press down lightly. Bake for 10, maybe 11 minutes - but don't over bake or they will be dry. Let cool five minutes and transfer to a cooling rack.

    Make 2 - 3 dozen cookies.

    April 16, 2011

    Baked's Malt Ball Cake

    My dear blog,
    I'm so sorry I've been neglecting you.  Here's something sweet to make up for it.  I hope you like it.

    I cook and bake a lot of things that don't make it onto the blog.  They're usually things that don't turn out quite the way I'd planned (dry muffins), or things I don't see as "blog-worthy" (throw-it-in-a-pan dinners), but then there are those things that I mean to post, but they just end up getting lost under all the stuff of life.  Such was the case with this gorgeous cake I made for my sister's birthday back in October.

    Malt balls are one of her favorite candies and Baked's recipes are always stand-out, so I knew this cake would be a winner.  I didn't make any changes to the original recipe (for once!) and it turned out perfectly.  With fluffy, malty layers and silky smooth milk chocolate frosting, this cake definitely ranks high on the sweetness scale, but I'll let the pictures do the talking:

    Why yes, that is malted milk ball gelato in the background-- unfortunately, it wasn't as good as the cake.
    The recipe is printed in full in Food & Wine magazine so I'm going to be a little lazy here and just give you the link.  This could actually be a really great cake for Easter decorated with those egg shaped malted milk balls instead of the regular ones; maybe that's why I waited six months to post it...

    March 30, 2011

    Espresso Cardamom Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Last Thursday was one of my nearest and dearest friends' birthdays; you know what that means, right? I had to bake something; it's a given.

    When I think of my friend Francesca, I think of cardamom coffee.  She was the first person to introduce me to the idea of making flavored coffee at home.  It's such a fantastically simple concept, yet it had never crossed my mind.  All you do is put a bit of whatever whole spice you'd like (in her case, it's cracked cardamom pods) into your french press with some coffee grounds and brew as usual.  D'oh!  But this post isn't about coffee, it's about cookies.  Espresso Cardamom Chocolate Chip Cookies.

    Since cardamom coffee makes me think of Francesca and cookies are easy to transport (I'm all about practicality here), I decided to make a cardamom coffee flavored cookie.  I had a hunch that dark chocolate would be a perfect complement to the flavors of coffee and cardamom, so I decided to add chocolate covered espresso beans to the cookies and kill two birds with one stone (as I said, I'm all about practicality).

    I used the classic Tate's chocolate chip cookie recipe as a base because I've never heard of anyone who doesn't like Tate's cookies [Note: if you exist, I'd advise you not to show yourself as you will surely be shunned-- mostly in New York and the Hamptons though.]  I'd never tried this recipe before but it worked wonderfully.  The cookies came out with Tates' trademark crispness and rich tan color.  As for the taste, my friend absolutely loved them but, in the interest of full disclosure, they were a little heavy on the cardamom for my taste.  I have a feeling I'll be making a plain chocolate chip version in the near future... 

    Espresso Cardamom Chocolate Chip Cookies
    If I were to make these a second time I think I'd add in a teaspoon or so of instant espresso or coffee powder.
    Adapted from Tate's Bake Shop via GOOP (thanks Gwyneth!)

    1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon ground cardamom (I used a mortar and pestle to grind Decorticated Caradamom, if using pre-ground, you may want to add slightly more)
    1/2 cup (1 stick) lightly salted butter, at room temperature
    1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
    1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, firmly packed
    1/2 teaspoon water
    1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    1 large egg, beaten
    2/3 cup dark chocolate covered espresso beans, chopped
    2 tablespoons raw cacao nibs (optional)

    Preparation
    Preheat the oven to 350ยบ.

    Whisk the flour, soda, salt and cardamom together in a bowl. In another large bowl, mix the butter with a wooden spoon to lighten it a bit and then mix in the sugars. Add the water, vanilla and eggs to the butter mixture. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined and then fold in the chocolate covered espresso beans and cacao nibs, if using.

    Using two soup spoons, drop the cookies 2" apart onto two nonstick or greased cookie sheets. Bake for eight minutes if you want them soft in the middle, twelve if you want the trademark crispiness.  Rotate the sheets after four minutes (I didn't find this necessary). Remove the cookies to a wire rack to cool, and repeat the process with the rest of the batter.

    Makes about 24 cookies

    March 24, 2011

    Organic Nectars Raw Agave Gelato

    I usually don't spend too much time talking about products on this blog because, as you can probably tell from my fig newtons, marshmallows, and English muffins, I'm a big fan of home-making it (new term, go with it).  Even though I'm always tempted by new and delicious looking products at the grocery store, I try my best to stay away from too much packaged food.  Making things at home is usually cheaper, healthier, and more enjoyable, making it a win-win-win.  Still, there are always certain specialty products that I have to make an exception for and this gelato is one of them.

    I saw it for the first time in the Bowery Whole Foods (where I hang out in my spare time...) and it immediately caught my attention.  I contemplated buying it, but the fact that it was $8.99 and that I don't live anywhere near the Bowery Whole Foods brought out my better judgment.  Fast forward to a few days later at my local Whole Foods and a pleasantly surprising incident in the freezer aisle: Organic Nectars Gelato, Cherry Chocolate, on sale-- I'm pretty sure you can guess what happened next.

    I was afraid of having yet another lackluster dairy-free "ice-cream" experience (i.e. soy dream and rice dream-- anyone tried almond dream yet??) but as soon as I opened the carton-- approximately 5 seconds after I got back from the store-- and saw the fudge-y swirls and large chunks of real cherries, I knew this was going to be a hit.  People, this gelato is really good.  Taste-wise, it's creamy, smooth, and flavorful; health-wise, it's made from cashew milk, sweetened with agave nectar and all organic, raw, vegan, gluten and soy-free.  I think it's my favorite dairy-free frozen treat I've tried to date.  So far, I've only tried the Cherry Chocolate flavor, but it also comes in Chocolate, Chocolate Hazelnut, Mint Chocolate, Pistachio, and Vanilla

    I'm not being compensated by this company in any way but I wanted to do this post because if any of you had seen this in the supermarket and weren't sure if it was worth the price tag, I wanted to let you know that, I think, it's a really tasty product.  I wish it were cheaper, but I think I can rationalize the occasional carton.  I'm looking to track down Mint Chocolate and Pistachio next.  Let me know if any of you try, or have tried, some of the other flavors.  I'd love to hear what you think!

    March 17, 2011

    Vegan Mushroom and Farro Risotto

    A lot of the time, when I start out with a vegan recipe, I'll end up adding a little cheese, or a bit of butter, or maybe even an egg because let's face it, I'm no vegan.  This time, however, I didn't feel the need for any of the above; it's just right as is.

    I rarely make risotto, even though I enjoy it, because it can be time consuming, fairly rich, and not that nutritious.  This risotto is different though.  Made with nutty whole grain farro (I was only able to find the semi-pearled variety) instead of arborio rice, olive oil instead of butter, almond milk instead of cream, and no cheese to speak of, this risotto is actually pretty healthy.  Plus it's full of mushrooms, which I guess it's time for me to admit I like...

    So if you're in the mood for something creamy and comforting (that can still pass as being good for you) on one of these last few chilly nights, give this risotto a try.  I love it just the way it is, but I won't be mad if you feel the need to stir in some mascrapone at the end.  I've still got a soft spot for the traditional version too.

    Vegan Mushroom and Farro Risotto
    Adapted liberally from OhSheGlows
    Serves 4, recipe easily halved

    Ingredients
    1 sweet onion, finely diced
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    1/2 teaspoon dried basil
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    16- 24 ounces mushrooms, sliced
    1 cup semi-pearled farro
    1 cup unsweetened almond milk
    1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
    1 tablespoon white miso, mixed with 1 tablespoon water
    ~ 1 1/2 cups water or vegetable broth
    1/4- 1/2 teaspoon salt to taste

    Preparation
    Rinse and drain the farro in a strainer.  Heat the olive oil in a medium sized pot and add in the onion, basil, oregano, and a dash of salt.  Saute until onion is just translucent.  Add the garlic and mushrooms and continue to saute until mushrooms have cooked down. 

    Add the farro and stir until coated.  Add the almond milk, nutritional yeast, miso, and salt. Stir together and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat.  Lower the heat and continue boiling, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed.  Then, add 1/2 cup water or vegetable broth, and bring the mixture to a boil again, stirring occasionally.  Repeat process, adding liquid 1/2 cup at a time, until farro is tender and most or all of the water/ vegetable broth has been used (about 45 minutes).

    The mixture should be creamy, but not soupy, and the farro will be chewy and not mushy. Serve immediately.

    March 8, 2011

    "Raw" Rosemary Crackers (Quackers)

    It's obvious, I love food. Food that's baked, or roasted, or sauteed, or boiled-- food that's COOKED. But I'd be lying if I said there wasn't something seductive about raw food; it's kind of sexy, is it not? Maybe it's because it's pure and unadulterated and a little bit mysterious; it could also be because a lot of people who eat raw food are pretty sexy.  I'm not sure what the exact allure is but I do know that when it's done right, raw food tastes pretty darn good.

    My friend and I tried Pure Food and Wine for the first time this weekend and while I did like it, I might actually like their takeaway cafe, One Lucky Duck, better.  Here's why: amazing salads, smoothies, and juices in a casual atmosphere.  Eating a giant salad and drinking a fresh juice (or smoothie) just makes you feel good.  Eating a raw mallowmar probably makes you feel good too, but I still have my $6.  So what do you do when you're beginning to crave $15 salads with expensive raw toppings?  Well, you do your best to replicate them for a fraction of the price.

    Laziness caused me to take this photo on my phone, but it's not much worse than it would be on my camera...
    The salad I've enjoyed (only twice) from One Lucky Duck is called the S&M salad; sexy, right?  This salad is made up of fresh greens, avocado, hemp seed, dulse, rosemary crackers, and a light dressing.  I already have the majority of these ingredients (minus the dulse, but who really needs that anyway?) in my pantry/ refrigerator, so lets be honest here, what really sets this salad apart is the rosemary crackers.  Those crackers are just SO GOOD.  And they're totally raw.

    I did some sleuthing (i.e. read the label on a small bag of the crackers that costs $13.50) to find out exactly what these little pellets of deliciousness were made of, so here goes: almonds, flaxseed, nutritional yeast, rosemary and sea salt.  That's it!  I could totally make these at home.  So what if I don't have a dehydrator... I'm not trying to be 100% RAW I'm just trying to make some yummy crackers, which is exactly what I did.

    Rosemary Crackers
    Despite the fact that I didn't dehydrate these crackers, the result tasted preeeetttty close to the original.  Mine weren't as thick, so next time I won't spread them out as thinly, but otherwise, they were a great replica.  I may play around with the ratios a bit (more nutritional yeast, perhaps?), so definitely let me know if you do!
    Adapted from The Happy Raw Kitchen

    Ingredients
    1 cup raw almonds, soaked for at least 8 hours, rinsed and drained [I peeled mine after soaking but I think it was unnecessary; next time I probably won't]
    heaping 1/4 cup ground flaxseed meal
    3/4 cup warm water
    1/4 cup nutritional yeast
    1 tablespoon dried rosemary
    ~1/2 teaspoon sea salt

    Preparation
    Preheat the oven to 250 F.  Whisk the ground flaxseed and warm water and let sit until an egg-like consistency develops (about 3 minutes).

    In food processor fitted with an "S" blade, process almonds until coarsely ground.  Add nutritional yeast, rosemary, and salt, and process until combined. Pour in the flax"egg" mixture and process until combined.  Adjust seasonings as desired.

    Pour the mixture onto a lined baking sheet and spread out into a thin layer.  Bake for about 4 hours, or until crackers are firm, flipping about halfway through.  The drying time depends on the thickness of crackers. [It was getting late and I was getting impatient so I baked mine at 250 F for about 2 1/2 hours and then finished them at 300 F for about 30 mins.  The small amount of time at 300 F was fine and they didn't take on a toasted flavor at all]

    Let cool and use your hands to break the sheet(s) into free-form crackers.  Store in glass jars for several weeks.  Enjoy on salads and with dips and spreads!

    February 28, 2011

    Millet Muffins

    I have a confession to make: I don't like quinoa.  That's right, I don't like the grain (that's actually a seed) that people who eat healthy are supposed to like.  Sure it has protein and sustained the Inca's or whatever, but I'm just not that into it.  As much as I enjoy healthy food, if it doesn't taste good then you probably won't find me eating it.  So what's with all this talk about quinoa? Well, millet is another one of those "ancient grains," the principal difference for me being that it tastes great.

    If you've never tried millet, you really should!  It has a mild flavor and can be cooked to have the consistency of polenta or that of, gulp, quinoa, depending on how much liquid is used.  One of my favorite things about millet is that when you add it (raw) to breads or, in this case, muffins, it lends a nice bit of crunch-- and I love a good crunch.  Have you ever had a 5/ 9/ 12 grain bread with tiny pale yellow balls in it? If so, those little balls are most likely millet and they're kind of like natural sprinkles.

    So now that your a little bit more familiar with millet, let me tell you about these muffins because they're pretty perfect.  The recipe comes from Heidi Swanson of 101Cookbooks, who, in honor of her new cookbook Super Natural Everyday, generously released a six recipe sampler showcasing a handful of recipes from the book.

    I downloaded the sampler right away and was immediately smitten with these millet muffins.  I made them this morning and they lived up to my every expectation (this is a rare occurrence).  They come together quickly and easily, and are full of wholesome ingredeints. They're simple, not too sweet, and very versatile (see: blueberries).  They have golden crusted tops and moist middles, and they're full of crunchy millet sprinkles. I could think of nothing better on this rainy morning.

    Millet Muffins
    From Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Everyday

    Ingredients
    2 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
    1/3 cup raw millet
    1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
    1 cup plain yogurt [I used Fage 0% Greek]
    2 large eggs, lightly beaten
    1/2 cup barely melted unsalted butter
    1/2 cup honey
    Grated zest and 2 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon

    3/4 cup blueberries (optional)

    Preparation
    Preheat the oven to 400 F with a rack in the top third of the oven. Butter a standard 12 (I made 16) cup muffin tin or line with paper liners. [I suggest buttering! I lined my 4 extras and, well, butter is better]

    Whisk the flour, millet, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, eggs, butter, honey, and lemon zest and juice until smooth. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until the flour is just incorporated.

    Divide the batter among the muffin cups, spooning a heaping 1/4 cup batter into each one, filling it a bit below the rim.  If you'd like to make half blueberry, as I did, then after you've filled half the muffins cups with plain batter, gently fold in the blueberries into the remaining half of the batter and fill the rest of the muffin cups.

    Bake for about 15 minutes (mine took a minute or two longer), until the muffin tops are browned and just barely beginning to crack. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, the turn the muffins out of the pan to cool completely on a wire rack.