Thursday, April 10, 2014

Fluffy Vegan Whole Wheat Blueberry Cake

This vegan cake is light, fluffy and totally delicious. It's not too sweet and has a subtile nuttiness from the whole wheat flour too. Soooo, it's basically a diet cake, well not really, but that's what I keep telling myself (must stop baking!). 

Besides all that, it's a wonderful way to finish off a rich meal, or to start your day along with a steamy cup of tea, or to jam into your mouth while you're nursing because you are starving all of the time (my modus operandi). 

Hope you enjoy it!

Fluffy Vegan Whole Wheat Blueberry Cake
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2  teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/3 cups almond or other non dairy milk
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons good quality vanilla extract
zest and juice of one lemon
1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries (add at the very end)

Place the rack in the center of your oven. Preheat it to 350. Grease and flour an 8 inch spring form or 8x3 inch cake pan. 

Combine the dry ingredients, granulated sugar and lemon zest with a whisk and set aside.

Combine the wet ingredients, stirring well.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry stirring until just combined. Gently fold in the blueberries and scrape the batter into your prepared pan. If you are using a springform pan, set it on a backing sheet.

Bake for 40-50 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before removing to a rack to finish cooling. Dust with confectioners sugar and serve with coffee or tea. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Red Cabbage Slaw with Cloves and Dried Cranberries

This slaw is a unique and satisfying alternative to a plain old dinner salad and it comes together in a flash. It's very hearty and healthy and it can be made a few days in advance, so it's great to bring to a potluck. What more could you ask for?! 

*I also love this slaw with cumin and pepitas, so I included them in the recipe below.

For the slaw...
1 small red cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup raw pepitas (optional)

For the dressing...
3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Chop the veggies and toss them together in a large bowl. Mix up the vinaigrette and taste for seasoning. Add it to the veggies and toss everything together. If serving immediately, taste and adjust the spices and salt as needed. If you're making this in advance (up to three days ahead works great) taste and adjust the seasoning again just before serving.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Pillowy Chocolate Chip Cookies with Vanilla Pudding Mix

This recipe is from the blog Chew Out Loud. I halved it and still got about 45 delicious little cookies (using about a tablespoon of dough per cookie). 

I wanted to try this recipe because it calls for vanilla pudding mix. I've seen a bunch of similar recipes and was intrigued as to how that would effect the dough/cookies. The bloggers at Chew Out Loud describe these as soft, chewy and not at all cakey. Mine where definitely very soft but I did find them to be just a tad cakey and not really chewy at all. I could also feel the texture of the vanilla pudding mix in the baked cookies, which was not at all unpleasant but slightly sandy. I like these cookies a lot although they aren't my favorite. I would be very interested to hear how they come out for you.

Pillowy Chocolate Chip Cookies with Vanilla Pudding Mix

From the blog, Chew Out Loud
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened 
3/4 cup light brown sugar, loosely packed
1 (3.4 oz) package instant vanilla pudding (I used Jell-O brand)
2 large organic eggs
1/2 Tablespoon real vanilla extract
2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips 
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts, optional but recommended (I didn't add any but wish I had)

Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside. 

In a stand mixer or large bowl with a hand mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy (let it go for 4-5 minutes). Then add in the pudding mix, then the eggs and vanilla.

Add in the dry ingredients and mix on low briefly until just combined. 

Pulse in the chips and chopped walnuts. 

Cover the bowl and chill the dough for 30 minutes to an hour.

Once you're ready to start shaping your cookies, preheat your oven to 350F. 

Scoop out about a tablespoon of dough per cookie, rolling each up between your palms then flattening slightly. I got about 45 cookies total, which, besides the small batch I baked right away, I froze flat on a cookie sheet then transferred to a baggie in the freezer for later baking. 

Place the cookies an inch apart on a cookie sheet and bake, one sheet at a time, for 7-8 minutes. Allow the cookies to set up for a few minutes on the pan before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Alice Medrich's Best Cocoa Brownies from Food52

Alice Medrich's "Best Cocoa Brownies" are definitely some of the best I've ever made or tasted. They're also really easy AND much cheaper to make than recipes that require melting chopped chocolate bars. I suppose that's why the folks at Food52 called them "genius". 

I only slightly altered Alice's recipe and simplified the directions just a bit by having you make the entire batter in the saucepan you use to melt the butter in. The sprinkling of flaky sea salt suggested by Food 52 is a must. So good!


Alice Medrich's Best Cocoa Brownies from Food52
10 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 scant cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder (Dutch-process is also fine to use here)
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs (right out of the fridge)
1/2 cup all purpose flour 
2/3 cups toasted chopped walnuts and/or pecans (optional)
flaky sea salt for sprinkling on top of the batter before baking, optional

Preheat your oven to 325.  

Toast your chopped nuts, if using, for 8-12 minutes until fragrant. 

Line an 8 inch square pan with parchment or foil, greasing any exposed parts of the pan.

Heat the butter in a medium sauce pan over low heat until its just about melted. Remove the pan from the heat to finish melting. Add the additional ingredients to the melted butter in the order above, stirring well after each addition to combine them. 

When you add the flour, stir it until combined, then give it an additional 40 vigorous stirs. Add the toasted chopped nuts and pour the batter into your prepared pan. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out just barely clean (you want to under-bake these just a tad). Cool in the pan on a rack. Enjoy!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Oatmeal Date and Toasted Pecan Muffins / Can dates help reduce the need for interventions during labor?

These muffins are tasty, moist, fluffy AND not too sweet. They're also loaded with whole grains, nuts and good-for-you dried fruit there! 

Is it obvious that I am completely out-of-control with the carbs and sweets right now? Ack! At least it's not another cookie recipe!

I initially made these in an attempt to eat more dates. I heard about a study that found that eating dates (6-7/day during the last 4 weeks of pregnancy) can reduce the need for inductions/augmentations of labor. The study findings are preliminary at best, but since I highly doubted that dates could be harmful, I figured it was worth a try. 

I'm not sure if cooking the dates effects their benefits (I don't believe the study states whether dried of fresh dates are better either, so that's another question) but I don't really like dates on their own (just too sweet), so I hoped these muffins might count toward that 6-7 dates per day total. 

As to whether or not they helped, well, I had a super long "prodromal" labor (4 days...yikes!) but no interventions, augmentations or drugs were needed, so my answer Honestly, I didn't eat enough dates to make any judgements either way (I just don't like dates very much) but these are some dang good muffins so bake them up anyhow!

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Oatmeal Date and Toasted Pecan Muffins 
Slightly adapted from Wanna Come With who adapted it from Brown Eyed Baker
Yield: 2 dozen muffins 
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 cups cultured buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cups rolled oats
1 cup steel cut oats (Feel free to use rolled oats only. I ran out so I decided to use steel cut to supplement)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon iodized sea salt (table salt)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup pecans (or any nut), toasted and roughly chopped
1 cup dates, roughly chopped 

Preheat your oven to 400°F.  

Grease the tops of two muffin tins and line with muffin cups.

Toast 2 cups of chopped pecans for about 5-8 minutes until fragrant. Set aside to cool.

Measure the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into a large mixing bowl and whisk well to combine. Add the oats and brown sugar and use your fingers to break up any sugar clumps and distribute the ingredients throughout. 

Finally, add in the roughly chopped toasted pecans and dates. Use you fingers again to toss the dates and pecans in the flour, breaking up any clumps that stick together.  

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, then add the cultured buttermilk, vanilla and melted but slightly cooled butter. Whisk to combine.

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir until just combined. Be careful not to over-mix!

Spoon the batter into your prepared muffin tins and bake for about 15 minutes until they just pass the toothpick test. 

Allow the muffins to set-up in their tins for a few minutes before transferring them to the rack to finish cooling. 

These are awesome warm and at room temperature. They're good for just about a week (freeze them otherwise). After a few days, they really benefit from a few seconds in the microwave or oven to revive them before serving. 

Note: Fill your cups fuller than this (right to the top) for a perfectly puffed muffin top.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Slightly Less Sweet, Slightly More Whole Grain Smitten Kitchen Crackly Banana Bread

I was introduced to this recipe for Crackly Banana Bread by Smitten Kitchen right after our daughter Freya was born (back on January 11th). It was the very first goodie we received from our very first postpartum visitor (Thanks, Dhruvi), and we ate the whole loaf within hours receiving it. Since then, i've made the recipe with slight variations about four times. I would have made it more often than that, but I kept on eating the whole loaf myself, so I had to exercise some restraint.

The recipe below is my fully-loaded and doubled version of this amazing  recipe. Mine has less sugar, more whole grains (per Deb's suggestion), and extra goodies like nuts and dried fruit too. I also doubled the recipe because it's just so good, one loaf is simply never enough.

Deb Perelman's original recipe is fabulous and lends itself well to adjustments (a wonderful quality to find in a recipe). In the future, I might try adding toasted coconut ribbons and swapping in honey for the maple syrup. If you make this recipe with adjustments, let me know what you did and how it comes out for ya!

Fully-Loaded/Doubled Version of Smitten Kitchen's Crackly Banana Bread
6 large very ripe bananas
2 large eggs
2/3 cup virgin coconut oil or olive oil
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 cup diced dried dates, optional
1 cup chopped toasted nuts (I used walnuts and pecans), optional
2/3 cup chocolate chips, optional
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup uncooked millet

Preheat your oven to 350. Butter two 9x5 loaf pans. 

Mash the bananas, then add all the other ingredients to them in the order above, stirring after each addition to combine them as you do. 

Bake for 40-50 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the loaves in the pans on a rack. Wrap tightly in foil and or plastic wrap, once cooled, to keep them fresh. They last about a week and freeze very well too.

Here's our sleepy little 6 week old gal. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Dorie Greenspan's "World Peace Cookies" because, why not?!

These are insanely rich and chocolatey cookies. They're a perfect mix between chocolate chocolate chip and chocolate shortbread and the fancy salt MAKES them absolutely divine. 

Dorie Greenspan renamed these little wonders "World Peace Cookies" (she had formerly called them Sablés Korova in homage to their creator, French Chef Pierre Hermé's) because after tasting them her neighbor declared that they could bring peace to the earth. Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen hilariously disagrees. She finds these cookies so addictive that they bring out a highly selfish and decidedly non-peaceful side of her personality. Ala Gollum....My precious!

I think they're outstanding. World peace inducing, I dunno, but they are definitely worth making and you will have to work hard to resist eating them all in a night. I highly recommend adding a tiny pinch of fleur de sel or other flaky salt to the top of each cookie before baking to push their flavor over-the-edge.

"World Peace Cookies"
From Paris Sweets by Dorie Greenspan via Smitten Kitchen
Yield: About 3 dozen
1 stick plus 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed lightly
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel /or 1/4 teaspoon of any flaky salt, plus additional for sprinkling
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli) 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped /or 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips of any kind

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder and baking soda and set aside.

Using a stand mixer or large bowl with a hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until they become very light and fluffy. You'll want to work them for 5-7 minutes and get in as much air as possible as this makes for a much more tender cookie. 

Add the fleur de sel and vanilla and pulse quickly until just combined. Add in the sifted dry ingredients and combine on very low speed so they don't fly out of the mixing bowl. Throw a dish towel over the bowl to catch the "dust" if need be. Add the chips and pulse for just a few seconds more. We want to be sure not to overwork the dough here.

Ugly photo, sorry, but I wanted to show you the crumbliness level. I had already started to bring it together when I shot this, so it was even crumblier when I first turned it out of the mixing bowl.

Turn the crumbly dough out onto plastic wrap, parchment, or wax paper and bring it together into a square. Divide that square in two and roll two logs about 1 1/2 inch wide by about 11 inches long. These cookies are rich, so the small size is nice, but you can certainly make them larger. Just keep an eye on them while they're baking and add/reduce time as needed. 


Refrigerate the logs for at least 3 hours or up to 3 days. This dough will also freeze well for several months and you can cut the cookies directly from the frozen log and bake them right out of the freezer. 

When you're ready to bake these off, preheat your oven to 325 F. Cut the cookies to about 1/2 inch thickness and place them on parchment lined cookie sheets about 1/2 inch apart. If they crumble, which mine did in a big way, just patch/pinch them back together again. I also used my palm to flatten each cookie a bit.

Bake one sheet at a time for 10-12 minutes (I did 10). Remove from the oven and set the pan on a rack. After about 10 minutes, transfer the cookies to the rack to finish cooling. 

These are great warm and even yummier, and more shortbread-like, at room temperature.