Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Farmer's Market White Peach Bread

My second favorite month of the year is, hands-down, May. May is when the weather is still cool, peonies (I adore them) and sweet peas bloom, and when delectable stone fruit make their appearance at the local farmer's markets. You can't get much more beautiful than a rainy day, the look and smell of peonies, and the taste of a farm-fresh peach. Life is good!

The white peaches I bought Sunday at the market are so heavenly sweet, three of them were lucky to make it into this Farmer's Market Peach Bread. My husband will be disappointed to see them gone, but hopefully this peach bread will make up for it.

Naturally sweet, but not too sugary, this bread has become one of my favorites. It's just delicious, and a great way to use up your over ripened bananas (without making just another banana bread.) It's so simple, there's a good chance you already have all the ingredients in your fridge and cupboards.


Sweet Peas

White Peaches

Farmer's Market White Peach Bread
Makes two 8x4" loafs

1/2 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
Zest from a lemon
Juice from 1/2 the lemon
1 Tbsp vanilla paste (real extract is okay)
3- 4 ripe bananas, mashed (about 2 cups)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 white peaches, peeled and chopped (about 1 heaping cup)
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Grease and flour two 8x4" loaf pans
- In a small bowl, mash bananas with a fork and set aside
- In a large bowl, whisk together canola oil, eggs, brown sugar, almond milk, lemon zest, lemon juice, bananas, and vanilla paste until combined
- Add flours, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and whisk just until combined (don't over-mix it)
- Carefully fold in chopped peaches and pecans with a spoon
- Pour batter into two 8x4" loaf pans. The batter will only come up about 1/2 way in the pans
- Bake for 40- 45 minutes until a toothpick pushed into the middle of the loaves comes out clean
- Let the loaves cool for 10 minutes, then remove them from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack

Dairy-free recipe!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Chocolate Chip and Cold Brew Cookies

When I was a kid I wasn't allowed to drink coffee, but I was allowed to dunk my plain cake donuts into my parent's cups. To this day, I remember that magic combination of sweet buttery cake and bitter black coffee. Even better yet was dunking a chocolate iced cake donut, but as you could imagine, that didn't make the parents happy.

I'm blazing a path today. My Google and Pinterest searching didn't come up with one single recipe  using Trader Joe's Cold Brew in a baking recipe. I wanted to read a few for reference- makes me a little leery to add more liquid than usual to a cookie recipe. How do you balance it? Would they spread out too much and be runny? Well, after an hour of fruitless searching, I decided to just get in the kitchen and figure it out for myself. Happy National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day everyone!

This cookie recipe is going to seem a little wacky. Take a look at the measurements of the ingredients, and you'll see what I mean. However, these coffee chip cookies are absolutely GLORIOUS. My detailed notes and mad scientist mindset this morning are your gain. I wouldn't change a single thing. So good!

Cold Brew (sometimes called Toddy or cold press) coffee is a product I discovered when I discovered blended coffee drinks at my local coffee shop. It's the fantastic result of steeping coffee grounds in cold water for a long time (usually at least 12 hours or even overnight.) It's absolutely delicious in iced coffee or shakes (I use it in my protein drink every morning with almond milk.) You can imagine my delight when I saw Trader Joe's was offering it already prepared and ready to use. YES, and thank you!

These cookies are the perfect combination of crunchy on the outside, and soft and gooey in the middle. The coffee flavor comes through loud and clear, but without being overwhelming or bitter-tasting. Somehow that magic cold brew just plain elevates the flavors in this cookie. Chocolate chips taste chocolatier, buttery cookie tastes even more buttery. You get the picture... Bessie help me, I've eaten one and need to give the rest away before I eat them all.

Recipe Tip:
- These cookies spread a bit, so I used a medium-sized cookie scoop and placed 9 cookies on each sheet.

Chocolate Chip and Cold Brew Cookies
Makes 2 dozen cookies

1 stick + 2 Tbsp Earth Balance (or unsalted butter)
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (pure extract is okay)
1 large egg
3 Tbsp Trader Joe's Cold Brew coffee
1 cup + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans (macadamia nuts would be awesome too)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Line a few cookie sheets with parchment paper, set aside
- Cream together the EB (or butter), brown sugar, and sugar until fluffy- about 3 minutes
- Scrape down the bowl
- Add the vanilla paste, egg, and coffee and mix to combine
- Scrape down the bowl
- Add in the flour, baking soda, and salt until combined
- With a large spoon, add in the nuts and chocolate chips
- Using a medium-sized cookie scoop, scoop out 9 cookies per cookie sheet
- Bake for 9-10 minutes until they start to brown around the edges
- Cool completely on a wire rack

Dairy-free recipe if you use EB!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies

How many of you are in the vanilla camp? My hand is raised too. Way up high.

I was the kid who chose vanilla ice cream over any other flavor, and got ribbed for it. Was I crazy? Didn't I know chocolate was the best? If I was feeling especially adventurous, I'd order French Vanilla (it used to sound and seem so exotic)... maybe even a little caramel sauce on top. Vanilla anything made me (and still does make me) one happy camper.

I still love vanilla. Love may be an understatement. My husband says my adoration for vanilla paste (and lemons) borders on slight obsession. Okay, I'll give him that one.. and keep on eating my vanilla almond milk ice cream.

These Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies were born out of the idea of taking what a vanilla cake tastes like, and putting it into cookie form. So vanilla-y (I'm claiming that as an acceptable word), it's pretty much vanilla in your face. In a very good way. My secret ingredient is a hint of cardamom. Cardamom adds a little pop of brightness that leaves you wondering, hmm.. what is that? Also in a very good way.

Recipe Tips:
- You're going to have to break out the good stuff for this recipe- use your real vanilla extract. Or even better yet, your vanilla bean paste, or scrape out a vanilla bean or two  if you have them on hand.
- These cookies do not spread. If you like a thicker, doughy cookie leave them in a ball on the cookie sheets. If you like a thinner cookie with crispier edges, use a flat-bottomed glass to gently press down each cookie before you bake them.

Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies
Makes 3 dozen cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) Earth Balance
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste
1 large egg
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground cardamom

1/4 cup sugar for rolling cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Line a few cookie sheets with parchment paper, set aside
- Cream together sugar and EB (or butter) until fluffy, about 4 minutes
- Add in vanilla paste and egg, mix until combined
- Add in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cardamom, mix until combined
- Place the extra 1/4 cup sugar in a shallow bowl
- Roll the cookie dough into 2" balls, and roll them in the sugar until completely coated
- Take a flat-bottomed glass and gently press down each cookie (these cookies do not spread during baking)
-Bake cookies for 9-11 minutes, until edges start to brown
- Cool cookies completely on wire racks

Dairy-free recipe!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Dairy-Free Cherry and Almond Buttermilk Bundt Cake

It's safe to say I'm jumping into creating fresh spring fruit recipes head-first. I told myself I wouldn't waste any of the delicious cherries I bought last week at the farmer's market, and I've been true to my word. The last 2 cups worth went into this absolutely DELICIOUS DF Cherry and Almond Buttermilk Bundt Cake. Nope, you didn't miss the memo. There is no DF buttermilk, I'm showing you below how to make your own with almond milk and some vinegar. I like my cooking tricks.

This cake is nice and soft in texture. It kind of reminds me of a really moist coffee cake that also happens to not be greasy. No greasy fingers after eating this one- you know how I feel about that.

The fresh, tart and sweet cherries are a nice pop of flavor, and the lemon juice and zest add a great zing. I made a lemon glaze to top one of the cakes, and just sprinkled powdered sugar on the second cake. Both were equally yummy. I can't pick a winner- it's like picking your favorite child..

Recipe Tips:
- To make this cake not dairy-free, just substitute 2 sticks unsalted regular dairy butter for the EB (and increase the kosher salt to 1/2 tsp), and use 1 cup buttermilk (omit the vinegar) in place of the almond milk and vinegar combination.
- This cake was delicious on it's own, so I just dusted powdered sugar on top. You can also make a glaze by whisking 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla, and juice from 1/2 a lemon in a little bowl. Drizzle over cooled cake. Be sure to put parchment or was paper under the cake when you glaze it. You can then just roll up the paper and toss- less cleanup.

Dairy-Free Cherry and Almond Buttermilk Bundt Cake
Makes one large or two small bundt cakes

2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 sticks (1 cup) Earth Balance butter
 * If baking with dairy- (use UNSALTED butter, and increase the kosher salt in the recipe to 1/2 tsp)
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
Zest from 1 large lemon
Juice from 1/2 the lemon
1 1/2 tsp vanilla paste (or extract is fine)
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (you can use regular buttermilk, but omit the vinegar)
1 Tbsp white vinegar
2 cups fresh cherries, pitted and chopped
1 cup powdered sugar for dusting over cakes

If you want a glaze- see recipe tips:
1 1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

If you want to make a tangy glaze to spoon over the top of the cooled cake, add 1 1/2 cup sifter powdered sugar in a bowl, 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, 1/4 tsp vanilla extract and stir until combined and a pouring consistency. You can use a little water to thin it out, or add more powdered sugar if it's to tart. Use a spoon to pour the glaze over the cake and let it drizzle down the sides.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

- In a small bowl, combine the almond milk and white vinegar (it will curdle a bit- this is ok), set aside
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, cardamom, baking powder, baking soda, and kosher salt- set aside
- In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together for about 3 minutes
- Add in the eggs, vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice, and mix another couple of minutes
- Alternate adding in the almond milk and flour mixture in 3 batches, mixing well after each addition
- Carefully fold in the cherries with a spatula
- Pour the batter into a prepared large bundt cake pan (or divide batter between two small prepared bundt cake pans)
- Bake for 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Start checking the cake(s) after 40 minutes, and every 5 minutes after until fully baked
- Let the cakes cool for about 10 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to completely cool
- Once cool, dust the powdered sugar directly over the cake(s), and serve

Dairy-free recipe!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Dark Chocolate and Fresh Cherry Cookies

A lot of my cooking and baking inspiration comes from my weekly Sunday trip to my local farmer's market. We are spoiled here in southern California, and can pretty much get any produce and fruit any time of the year. I honestly never put much thought into what was seasonal. Since starting this blog, I have figured out that fruits and vegetables that are IN SEASON are a whole lot more delicious than their off-season counterparts. There is no comparison in flavor between an off-season grape from Chile, and one in-season from central California. 

This last trip's bounty included some of the sweetest and juiciest strawberries, nectarines, and cherries I've ever eaten. I've been bound and determined to eat/use/bake/freeze them all this week, and have no waste. My favorite vendor said peaches will be coming in the next couple of weeks, and I already have plans for them.

As with most of my recipes, this dark chocolate and fresh cherry cookie came about from experimenting. A lot of times, I'll take a recipe I've already tried, and tweak it with new ingredients. I used the base of my Whole Shebang cookie recipe and changed it a bit to incorporate some 63% cocao chips I had in my pantry, along with some cocoa and fresh cherries I bought at the market.

My husband is not a big chocolate dessert fan, and he usually passes on brownies or chocolate cookies. Unless they also involve some home-made ice cream. Then he has a huge bowl of ice cream with a little side of chocolate whatever. Well, imagine my surprise when he ate 6 of these gems in one sitting. He said they're awesome, and that's a vote of confidence!

This month for The Leftover's Club, I was paired up with Kathia Zamora of basicndelicious. I was very happy to ship something off locally here in California, and knew because of the quick shipping I could incorporate some fresh fruit in my offering.

If you have a food blog, and would like to join this fun food exchange group, check out The Leftover's Club, and sign up. How much fun is it to be matched up with another dedicated food blogger, and send and receive a home-baked goodie? See you next month :)

Dark Chocolate and Fresh Cherry Cookies
Makes 40 cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter or Earth Balance, softened
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp Rodelle vanilla paste (pure extract is fine)
2 cups + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips (I used 63% Guittard chips), melted and slightly cooled
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup shredded coconut (I used sweetened)
1 1/4 cups fresh cherries, pitted and chopped
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (not melted)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Line a few baking sheets with parchment paper
- In a glass bowl, microwave the 3/4 cup dark chips for a minute, then 30 seconds at a time, until melted. Set aside to cool
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter (or EB) and brown sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes
- Add eggs, vanilla, and melted chocolate and mix to combine
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then add the flour, baking soda, and salt and mix to combine
- Stir in the shredded coconut, chopped fresh cherries, and semi-sweet chocolate chips with a big spoon
- Use a medium-sized cookie scoop and place 12 cookies per baking sheet
- Press down lightly with the palm of your hands (cookies don't spread), if desired
- Bake 10-11 minutes (my batches took 10 minutes)
- Cool cookies on wire racks

Dairy free recipe if you use the Earth Balance sticks in place of butter

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Asian Peanut Slaw

Great recipes stand the test of time, and I find some of my best recipe ideas from old issues of cooking magazines. Cooking Light and Southern Living are two of my favorites. I can find them at my local public library for .25 cents a copy in their used book section. Best bargain ever.

I'm always on the look-out for side dish ideas. I especially like cold ones that can be made ahead of time, and also hold up for a couple of days of leftovers.

This Asian Peanut Slaw was adapted from a recipe in a Southern Living from 2008. I changed it a bit, adding more vinegar, less wasabi paste, and subbing out cole slaw mix for broccoli slaw. I first served it with Roasted Turkey Dip sandwiches, and then packed it with some added chicken breast for Rich's lunch the next day. Oh, I also added the last bit of it to the top of my Spicy Sloppy Joe a couple of days later.

Mission accomplished.

Recipe Tip:
- I knew I'd be eating this salad for a few days, so I added half of the peanuts to half of the slaw for the first night. If you put all the nuts in at once, they tend to soften as the salad sits in the fridge.
- I used salted, roasted peanuts. If you choose to use unsalted ones, add 1/2 tsp kosher salt to the recipe.

Asian Peanut Slaw
Serves 6

1 16oz bag of broccoli slaw
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped green onions
3 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp sesame oil
2 1/2 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp granulated sugar
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 1/4 tsp wasabi paste (add more if you like it spicy)
1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1 cup roasted, salted peanuts (if using unsalted nuts, add 1/2 tsp kosher salt to the recipe)

- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cilantro, green onions, apple cider vinegar, sesame oil, mayonnaise, sugar, ginger, wasabi paste, and black pepper
- Stir in the broccoli slaw
- Add the peanuts just before serving

This recipe can be made ahead of time, and stored in the fridge (covered) for up to a few days

Dairy-free recipe!

Strawberry and Banana Bread

It's no surprise that I've been on a quick bread kick lately. You think? LOL- I tend to do that. You may have also noticed my muffin kick a little while back. But seriously, who doesn't like a warm piece of homemade quick bread with a cup of coffee in the morning? It disappears so quickly around here.

I can also tell you that once I figure out a good "base" recipe, I tweak it and turn it into other recipes. Most of my muffin recipes are essentially the same base, but with different flavor combinations. The same goes with quick bread. The Not Your Average Banana Bread recipe I posted a little while back was the foundation for this tasty Strawberry and Banana Bread. Add a delicious layer of chopped fresh strawberries, cinnamon, and sugar and it is one beautiful and delicious loaf of bread. You'll have to take my word for it- it disappeared so fast, I wasn't able to take a picture of a slice.

Recipe Tip:
- Strawberries have a lot of moisture in them. The chopped strawberries in the batter, along with the slices on top of the bread mean you'll need to bake this bread loaf a little longer. Stop baking when the toothpick mainly comes out clean. There will always be a bit of wet on the pick because of the strawberry layer.

Strawberry and Banana Bread
Makes one regular-sized loaf

1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 tsp white vinegar
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
4 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp vanilla paste (extract is okay)
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup diced fresh strawberries
1 tbsp white sugar (coconut sugar is good too)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used TJ's sliced honey almonds), optional

Preheat oven to 325 degrees
- In a small bowl, combine the almond milk and vinegar. Set aside for a few minutes while you make the batter (you are making your own almond milk buttermilk)
- In another small bowl, combine the 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1 Tbsp white sugar, set aside
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, canola oil, and almond milk mixture until combined and smooth
- Add in the mashed bananas, vanilla, and brown sugar and mix until combined
- Add in the all-purpose flour, wheat flour, 1 tsp cinnamon, baking soda, and salt until combined
- Pour half of the batter into a greased and floured loaf pan
- Top the batter with the chopped strawberries, and top the strawberries with the cinnamon/sugar mixture
- Pour the remaining batter on top of the strawberries and smooth the top to cover all of the strawberry pieces
- Sprinkle the chopped nuts over the loaf, and lay the slices of strawberry down the middle
- Bake for 50- 60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out mostly clean. See recipe tip regarding this- my loaf took the whole 60 minutes to bake
- Cool loaf on a wire rack

Dairy-free recipe!