Monday, January 27, 2014

cakey vegan brownies.

     I am not vegan. And, for love of eggs and cheese and ice cream, have little to no interest in being so. However, this treat woos me in ways I'd ne'er have expected. A new friend of mine, Melissa, introduced me to these brownies a couple weeks back and I was instantly enamored. Cakey brownies have not once had my appreciation, as I much prefer an absurdly dense, bordering truffle-rich brownie. This combo, however, the coffee + milk + cocoa + more chocolate on top (yes.) makes it happen. I can't resist. I will remark that a couple friends said they'd just as soon call it a cake. Well, you can be the judge; Although, as I think on it, the debate might be resolved by baking these in a larger pan lending to a stronger resemblance to traditional brownies. (Feel free to give it a whirl, but cut the bake time back a few minutes, to be safe.) Whatever the case, these are addictingly tasty, simple to bake (if you don't accidentally double the baking soda on your first try…story for another time.), rich enough to satisfy even my lofty chocolatey demands, and fabulous for a crowd. You can't lose. I recommend savoring with coffee and/or the ice cream of your delight (my present obsession: Talenti Gelato. aghh…). 

enjoy!


modified from Rebar Modern Food cookbook
serves 12

ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup coffee
3/4 cup almond milk 
(soy or cow's milk is fine, as well)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped, optional
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease a 9x9" pan and line with parchment paper.
2. In large bowl, sift flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda and powder, and salt.
3. In separate medium bowl, combine coffee, milk, and oil. 
4. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir with spatula until just combined, adding walnuts at the end. Pour batter into prepared pan and sprinkle chocolate chips on on top. 
5. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean from the center. Cool on rack and enjoy!







Sunday, September 29, 2013

tzatziki.



   Every Sunday night I meet with a sweet group of friends from church and we eat and share together. Each week our cuisine changes; This week was "Greek" week which means tzatziki. I love, love this sauce. It's a yogurt-based, tangy, fresh, herby, healthy accompaniment, particularly to chicken and salads. I almost bought the pre-prepared Trader Joe's version but ended up making my own and am so glad I did. It's super yummy and so easy.

   Tonight we had grilled chicken/bell peppers/onions with rice, tomatoes, lettuce, and hummus in pita wraps, topped with healthy dollops of tzatziki. Ugh, it's wonderful. I have leftovers I'll probably put on a Greek salad to serve as the dressing. It's versatile, light, and refreshing. Give it a try!

serves a dozen+
borrowed from greekfood.about.com

ingredients:
3 T olive oil
1 T vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced finely
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup sour cream
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and diced
1-2 tsp. chopped fresh dill, to taste

directions:
1. In medium bowl, whisk yogurt and sour cream. 
2. Add olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and mix until well-combined.
3. Stir in cucumber and chopped dill. 
4. Ideally, let sit overnight in refrigerator to allow flavors to set. (Or, serve immediately and enjoy just as well. We did tonight.)



Thursday, August 08, 2013

easy, yummy, vegan banana bread.


Hello!!! I've been gone for so, so very long! This poor blog gets no attention from me. And, admittedly, will probably remain slighted, but I do want to post this tasty recipe for a particular friend Julie who is requesting it (and others who most certainly should have this in their repertoire of easy, healthy, and delicious).

This recipe is a conglomeration of several over the years, with numerous personal tweaks. It's been long enough and altered enough that I have no idea where the "original" even came from. My hope was for this bread to end up dairy-free and lower in sugar than most banana breads, while still moist and satisfying. It finally meets the mark! Track down some spotted bananas and enjoy. :)

Of note, my favorite variation is to mix in mini chocolate chips and toasted walnuts--The best. Personal opinion.

(I also apologize that the provided photo gives you almost zero indication of what this bread looks like. Come to think of it, this one was back in my archive and might not even be the same loaf…Hm. Let's just go with it.)

yields one loaf

ingredients:
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup brown sugar*
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 T almond milk
2 T applesauce
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 bananas, overripe and mashed well
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
a few shakes of ground cinnamon, optional
turbinado sugar to top, optional but recommended

directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Cut parchment paper to fit across wide ends of 8" loaf pan. Grease over paper and along all sides.
3. In large bowl, combine oil, sugar, nectar, vanilla, milk, and applesauce. Blend well.
4. Add flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Stir until just combined. 
5. Stir in bananas and mix-ins. 
6. Fill prepared pan, sprinkle generously with turbinado sugar and bake for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean in center of bread. 

*I'll try omitting this bit the next go around to see if it's still as tasty without. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

almond cream cheese pound cake with berry coulis.

     I had never made a pound cake before. Something about the name and ingredients, I knew I'd be sunk the second it came out of the oven. I try not to set myself up for failure too often. I've learned that even with the most honest intention of purchasing M&M's strictly for use in someone else's cookies, be they in my cabinet, I will eat them in a matter of days. This is a learned truth. In the same way, I make every effort to bake the less healthy menu items for occasions when they can be quickly shared with others. In the case of this pound cake, this is a very, very good thing. It's ridiculous, friends. I would challenge you not to really register the nutritional value in your mind. Assume ignorance for a few hours and just bake it. You will only regret it if you eat half the cake (debatable, still). I made this one for a cloth diaper themed baby shower I co-hosted for my dear friend Stephanie. The shower was sweet and simple and so yummy. We made several desserts (a couple more of which I plan to share with you soon) and came across some cute decor ideas I'll include photos of below. 
     I borrowed this recipe from the ever-reliable author of Smitten Kitchen who adapted it from a traditional recipe she found. The cake is impossibly satisfying by itself, though also pretty unreal topped with a drizzle of berry sauce (aka, coulis. use any berry for this!). A friend of mine made the statement that it's pretty much like a cake with icing already in every bite. I'd agree, in that it needs nothing to improve it (though i still can't resist the coulis)! 
     Note: The first time I made this I served it just hours after baking (and actually omitted the coulis and mixed chocolate chips in instead. recommended, as well). The second time, I let it cool completely, wrapped it in saran and refrigerated it until the next day. I thought it was slightly less moist that second time, though probably an indecipherable difference to anyone else. So, bake ahead as needed and just wrap and refrigerate as mentioned. Additionally, the coulis is also a perfect accompaniment to pancakes, waffles, ice cream, what-have-you. It's an easy topping that can also be prepared ahead and refrigerated.


Almond Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Berry Coulis
borrowed from Smitten Kitchen
yields 1 bundt cake

ingredients:
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
1 package (8 ounces) Philadelphia brand cream cheese, room temp
3 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs, room temp
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
(variations: add 1 cup white or dark chocolate chips while mixing flour in. OR stir in the zest of a lemon or orange. OR carefully stir in whole raspberries or diced strawberries.)

directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325F. Butter and flour a 12-cup bundt pan (or butter a 10-inch tube pan and line the bottom with parchment paper)

2. Beat room temperature butter and cream cheese in large bowl on medium speed until smooth. Add sugar and beat for at least 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each one and scraping sides of the bowl down as needed. Mix in extracts, then add flour and salt and beat just until incorporated. 

3. Pour batter into prepared ban, smooth top with spatula, and tap on counter a few times to release air pockets. Bake until cake is golden brown and toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 75 minutes. 

4. Set pan on cake rake to cool for 20 minutes, then turn cake out onto rack and let cool completely. Serve at room temperature.

Strawberry Coulis

2 cups (~12 oz) hulled, quartered strawberries (or other berry) 
(I used frozen this time, let thaw almost entirely, and only added a few splashes of water instead of the 1/4 c listed below.)
1/4 cup water
several tablespoons of sugar (optional, really. add to desired sweetness)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Combine strawberries, water, sugar, lemon juice in blender. Puree until smooth then press through fine mesh strainer to remove seeds. Cover and refrigerate until use. Drizzle atop individual cake slices before serving, or use on pancakes, waffles, etc.


{banana pudding in baby food jars} 


 {the lady of the evening! unfortunately the only photo i got w/her included} 



Congratulations, again, to Steph, Shaka, and Emma Ruth on the coming of another sweet girl. She's loved so much already. And thanks, Steph, for loving pound cake so I had a reason to make this one. :)

 
 

 


Friday, July 27, 2012

impeccable, "one-bowl" chocolate chip cookies.

         I should be sleeping. I worked last night and work tonight and, for whatever reason, am up at what would be 2:30am for a normal working person, writing about cookies. Naturally. I took these to work last night, a second try with them as the first batch left a tiny something to be desired. My standing favorite recipe includes a bit of milk, so I thought I'd see what, if any, difference that might make to these. Who knows if this is the deal-breaker or not, but just a tablespoon added to this recipe seemed to moisten the batch up noticeably! And with a sprinkle more salt, they earned themselves a blog post. These are impeccably tasty and super easy, to boot: one bowl and a few spins of a mixer and they're ready to bake. I added dark chocolate M&M's to this batch out of a desperate need to get them out of my reach in the cabinet, but you can stick with chocolate chips alone if you prefer. I do realize it's upwards of 100 degrees outside, but I promise these are absolutely worth a few more seconds of heat. Or, at least, worth adding to your list to try in a couple months. Let me know what you think!

Okay, now back to bed. Hopefully.

Impeccable, "One-Bowl" Chocolate Chip Cookies
yields 2 dozen or so
modified from Anna Olson

ingredients: 
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temp.
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, room temp.
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons corn starch
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon milk
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips/M&Ms

directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Cream butter and sugars with blender until well incorporated. 
2. Add egg and vanilla and mix until combined.
3. Add flour, corn starch, baking soda, salt, mixing minimally with mixer to combine, then scraping the sides and bottom of bowl with spatula to stir in remaining dry bits, adding milk with a few stirs, and then chocolate chips at the end. 
4. Bake on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet for 7-9 minutes (8 in my oven), or until the edges are barely, almost indistinguishably light brown (this is key! they won't look done!). Remove and let cool on sheet for 5 minutes, then on rack completely. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

pineapple-peach salsa…and storms.




    I made this tonight. Dark clouds and storms are coming in and it surely feels that way right now. In the way that so many sad things seem to be swelling up and blocking out the light. I found out today that a friend's father met an untimely, terrible death this morning. And, also, that a friend's marriage is in danger. And these are but two of so many, many heavy sorrows of now. My heart feels weighty, mind busy, appetite slim. And my troubles that yesterday felt insurmountable and great are not even in the picture. Every once in a while things hit home. Today I feel the burden of life's woes and death's threat and immediately call to mind Sunday morning's powerful and familiar lyrics: It is well with my soul. This song was written by a man shortly after his family was killed. Even so, he cried, it is well with my soul. My pastor spoke of death and its sting that won't spare a single one of us. He spoke of the reality that every loved one we know will be taken from us. This is our reality. And how utterly dark this feels, hopeless...until we see that with Christ the curse of death no longer has power. And, so, we go on. I read a beautiful book this year called Ten Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. In it, she speaks poignantly of just this, writing as if in God's words to us, 

    "You may suffer loss but in Me is anything ever lost, really? Isn't everything that belongs to Christ also yours? Loved ones lost still belong to Him--then aren't they still yours? Do I not own the cattle on a thousand hills; everything? Aren't then all provisions, in Christ also yours? If you haven't lost Christ, child, nothing is ever lost. Remember, 'through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God' [Acts 14:22], and in 'sharing in [my Son's] sufferings, becoming like him in his death' you come 'to know Christ and the power of His resurrection" [Phillipians 3:10]. 

    Beautiful, hard, but, I believe, true words. Although in a place of suffering little eases pain, I imagine this might be the only bit of hope to find: that everything that is ours belongs first to God and, so, us with Him, it may always be ours, as well. And that in our sufferings we taste a bit of His death, and, so, understand a bit more of the glorious power of his resurrection over it. All this is mind boggling and overwhelming, but beckons deep to the soul. Tonight will be so sad for the family of my friend who lost her father. And will, again, be painfully empty for a friend living under the same roof of a spouse who feels miles away. But, on their behalf, I have to repeat, repeat…It is well. It is well with my soul...For Christ has regarded my helpless estate and has shed his own blood for my soul...Oh Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight, the clouds be rolled back as a scroll. The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend. Even so, it is well with my soul. 

    I realize I've never really bared myself on this wee food blog. I decided early on it wasn't a place for the spilling of my deepest heart secrets and woes. But tonight felt different and this seemed right. I'm thankful today for life and breath and glimpses of joy and color amidst sorrow. And that there is the promise of blue skies after this storm, however long it may last.


serves a small crowd (8-ish)

ingredients:
2 peaches, peeled and diced
 1 tomato, diced
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1/2 pineapple, diced
handful of cilantro, chopped
juice of 1 lime
salt and hot sauce or 1 jalapeƱo pepper (chopped finely after stem/seeds/ribs removed), to taste

Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Refrigerate for a couple hours to let flavors marry, or enjoy immediately. This is fantastic with chips, on fish tacos, grilled chicken, etc.