Saturday, November 21, 2015

Haley's Banana Nut Muffins

My daughter Haley has a lot of food intolerances. She can't have gluten, processed sugars, dairy, and a few more. I have a couple of sweets recipes I've created just for her and have posted in the past- Raw Chocolate, Nuts, and Medjool Bars, and Flourless Vegan Mini Chocolate Cakes, but wanted to come up with a new recipe this year for her Birthday Box.

When both of my daughters were young, I started making a homemade Birthday Banner for them depicting what they had been into for that year- dolphins, monkeys, Harry Potter are a few I can remember. I'd work on the banners for days, then sneak into their rooms the night before their birthday and tape it to their wall with some balloons. It became a tradition, and I even sent a banner off to my oldest daughter her first year of college. Birthday Banners evolved into Birthday Boxes after that first college year. They were easier to ship, and I could fill them with goodies and favorite things. I always look forward to planning and putting together the boxes, and I know the girls love receiving them. It's a tradition I intent to continue forever.

Homemade S'mores Kit
Baking Kit Birthday Box
Bling Birthday Box
My tinkering in the kitchen this morning resulted in a delicious flourless and raw honey sweetened banana nut muffin. Surprisingly moist and soft, this muffin packs a lot of banana flavor. These muffins aren't greasy and are just-enough sweet. I would eat these for breakfast!

Recipe Tips:
- Since there is no flour in this recipe, the batter will be runnier than a regular muffin batter
- Fill up your muffin cups 2/3 full as the batter rises a bit- puffs up
- You can use any no-salt nut butter in this recipe

Haley's Banana Nut Muffins
Makes one dozen mini-muffins
Gluten, dairy, and processed sugar free

1 cup no-salt natural almond butter (I used Trader Joe's)
3 medium sized ripe bananas
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp raw local honey
1 tsp vanilla paste (or pure vanilla extract)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 cup chopped raw pecans (or any nut you'd like to use)
1/4 cup Enjoy Life dark, dairy-free chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Add all ingredients except the nuts and chocolate chips in a food processor or blender
- Blend until all ingredients are combined and the mixture resembles a runny batter
- Stir in the pecans
- Line a cookie sheet with small muffin cups, or spray a small muffin tin with coconut oil
- With a regular sized cookie scoop, fill the cups or tins 2/3 full with batter
- Top each of the muffins with a handful of chocolate chips
- Bake for 13-15 minutes, until the muffins puff up and brown on top, and a toothpick pushed into the middle comes out clean
- Cool completely on a wire rack

Dairy and Gluten Free!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Salted Caramel Drizzle

This month's Leftover's Club theme was Halloween, and I didn't need a better excuse to come up with another pumpkin recipe. I adore pumpkin anything, and in the past have made pumpkin cookies, bread, cake, and pie, but never pumpkin cinnamon rolls. Who doesn't like cinnamon rolls?

These easier (one rise of the dough instead of two) cinnamon rolls are most difficult to make the first time around, but you'll find yourself making them again and again. It usually takes a few hours to make homemade rolls, but you'll find yourself eating a warm roll in just about an hour and a half's time with this recipe.

I started out with a basic cinnamon roll dough. The usual suspects went in- salted butter, whole wheat and regular flours, sugar, etc. I added some orange zest (because I just can't help myself) for some zing. The filling is a combo of pumpkin puree, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and vanilla paste. Trader Joe's had some interesting looking spiced pumpkin seeds, so I threw them in too. Drizzle them with salted caramel while still warm.. words are not adequate. These are delicious!
Crunchy on the outside, soft in the center, and full of pumpkin flavor. I promise these rolls will impress, and be a hit at your house as well!

I was matched up with two bloggers this month- Elizabeth from Food Ramblings, and Kate from Feed Me Seymour. I've been matched up with both of these talented girls before, and boy can they bake! Check out their blogs for some great recipes!

If you have a food blog, and would like to join The Leftover's Club, please check them out and fill out an application. I've enjoyed my participation in the club, and always look forward to sending and receiving treats. Maybe I'll see you next month!

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Salted Caramel Drizzle
Makes 9 cinnamon rolls

3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk (I used non-fat)
Zest from one orange
6 Tbsp (almost 1 stick) salted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4-5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 little package quick rise dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

4 Tbsp salted butter, softened

1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup Trader Joe's spiced pumpin seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp vanilla paste
Juice from 1/2 an orange

Drizzle Topping:
Trader Joe's Fleur de Sel Caramel

Alternative Cinnamon Glaze Topping:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp (add more a little bit at a time if you need to) almond milk or milk

-Combine all in a small bowl until it's a glaze consistency. Pour over warm cinnamon rolls.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

For Dough:
- Make sure the eggs are at room temperature. I take them out of the fridge a good half-hour before I'm going to start. If you don't have time, you can also put them in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes until they're room temperature
- In a microwave safe bowl, heat the water, milk, and 6 Tbsp butter for 1 minute. The butter will not melt all the way
- In a separate bowl, stir together granulated sugar, 1 cup of the all-purpose flour, the yeast, the 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, and the baking powder
- In a mixer's bowl fixed with a regular mixing attachment, pour the dry ingredients into the bowl
- Add the eggs and the warmed liquid mixture and mix until combined, about 1 minute
- Switch to a hook mixing attachment, and add in 3 more cups of all-purpose flour at first. If the dough is too sticky, add up to another cup of flour. You want to see it pliable, but not sticky
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface (I put parchment on my counter, then put flour on top of the parchment paper)
- Knead dough with hands for a few minutes to activate the yeast

- Roll the dough out to about an 18x13" rectangle
- Spread the softened 4 Tbsp salted butter evenly on the dough
- Spread out the pumpkin filling mixture evenly on top of the butter
- Starting at one end, carefully roll the dough into a long log
- Cut 9 even pieces from the log
- Place the pieces upright (where you can see the swirl) a couple of inches apart (it will rise/expand) in a buttered baking pan (I usually use a 9x13x2" glass pan)
- Place a clean cloth over the top of the pan and let it sit somewhere warm for about an hour, until the rolls about double in size. If you have a proofing feature on your oven, the proofing will take about 1/2 hour
- Bake rolls for 25-28 minutes until they start to brown on the outside, and are cooked through
- Place pan on wire rack to cool
- While the rolls are still warm, drizzle the tops with the salted caramel sauce.

For a dairy-free option:
- Substitute Earth Balance for all butter
- Substitute almond milk for the milk

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Pumpkin Spiced Cookie Butter and Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies

I spied pumpkin spiced cookie butter, and spiced pumpkin seeds at my local Trader Joe's this week, and picked them up thinking I could bake something tasty with them. There is pumpkin EVERYTHING available these days, but these two products I hadn't seen before.

I started with my Speculoos Cookie Butter Cookie recipe (one of my all-time favorites), and tweaked it a bit. This pumpkin butter is a little sweeter and chunkier than the Speculoos butter, so I reduced the amount of brown sugar in this new recipe. I swapped out the spiced pumpkin seeds for the honeyed almonds, and added some dark mini chocolate chips just for the heck of it. I've never been a big fan of pumpkin and chocolate together (or orange and chocolate for that matter), but the dark chocolate adds a nice richness to this sweet cookie.

These are one of the easiest recipes I have on the blog. Get all of your ingredients ready before you start, and you'll have warm cookies ready to eat in under a half-hour. These gems are crunchy on the outside, and really buttery and soft on the inside. They're the perfect combination of sweet and spicy, and epitomize fall. I dunked my just out of the oven cookie into a big cold glass of almond milk, and was in pure Heaven!

Pumpkin Spiced Cookie Butter and Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 2 dozen cookies

1 cup Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spiced Cookie Butter
3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 a stick) Earth Balance (or butter)
1 large egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats (not instant oats)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup Trader Joe's Spiced Pumpkin Seeds
1/4 cup Enjoy Life mini chips (or other dark chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- In a mixer, cream together the pumpkin cookie butter, brown sugar, and Earth Balance (or butter) until smooth, a few minutes
- Add in the Egg and mix to combine
- Add in the flour, rolled oats, and baking soda and mix just until combined
- Stir in the pumpkin seeds and chocolate chips with a big spoon
- Using a medium-sized cookie scoop, scoop a dozen cookies each on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper
- With the palm of your hand or the bottom of a flat glass, gently press down the cookie balls
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies start to brown around the edges and are cooked through
- Cool cookies on a wire rack

This recipe cannot be completely dairy-free as written as the pumpkin cookie butter contains a little bit of dairy.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Mocha Frosted Blondies

I have been on a chocolate chip cookie kick lately. I get into food moods, and experiment, and create until I move onto something else. Last month it was slow cooker recipes, next month who knows?

There's something about a good blondie. It's basically a thicker ooey and gooey chocolate chip cookie in a bar form. Crunchy on the edges, soft and melty in the middle. Delicious by itself, or even better warmed up and topped with a scoop (or two) of ice cream. I'm here to tell you, it's equally as delicious frosted. Like a cake. That you can eat with your hands. You can thank you me now.

This dairy-free mocha frosting is so versatile. And delicious. I mean like from a large spoon straight to mouth worthy. I know, I tried it. Soft and fluffy and not too sweet, it's a perfect frosting. A little chocolatey, buttery, and with a coffee kapow. It would taste amazing on brownies too, or even a nice chocolate cake.

Mocha Frosted Blondies
Makes an 8x8x2 pan- about 9 slices

1 stick (1/2 cup) Earth Balance (or unsalted butter)
3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste
1 large egg
1 cup + 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup dark chocolate chips (I like to use Guittard- they're non-dairy)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Line a 9x9 glass baking dish with parchment paper, set aside
- In a mixing bowl, cream together EB, brown sugar, and vanilla- about 3-4 minutes
- Add egg and mix another 2 or so minutes
- Add in the flour, salt, and baking soda until combined
- Add in the walnuts and chocolate chips until combined
- Spread the dough evenly into the 9x9 dish
- Bake for about 25 minutes, until a toothpick pushed into the middle comes out clean
- Remove the blondie holding the parchment paper, and cool completely on a wire rack

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) Earth Balance (or unsalted butter), softened
3 Tbsp cold brew coffee (I use Trader Joe's)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup powdered sugar
Pinch kosher salt
Handful of dairy-free mini chocolate chips (I like Enjoy Life)

- After the blondie has cooled, spread with the top evenly with the frosting
- Sprinkle frosting with mini chocolate chips

 I keep my blondie in the fridge until ready to cut and serve

Dairy free recipe if you use EB and dairy free chocolate chips

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've lived in Southern California almost all of my life. That's a few years. We've had some hot summers, but I don't remember a hotter or more humid week like this past one. Hot and miserable weather, along with no air conditioning in our house, means my baking gets put on hold. And I get antsy. So when my husband begged me to make him some cookies, he didn't have to beg too hard. Turn the oven vent/fan on high, open the back kitchen door, and I was in (temporary) cookie business.

My all-time favorite cookie is peanut butter. I may be a little biased, but my peanut butter cookie recipe rocks. My husband's favorite is oatmeal chocolate chip. I'll be honest, I don't make them often because they're not my favorite. But they're his.. and he begged.. so here we are in the oatmeal chocolate chip cookie business.

I think the reason OCC cookies aren't a favorite of mine is because they're usually kind of dry, and kind of bland. Usually a sweet I can pass on. Well, I'm here to say this OCC recipe has changed my opinion. I played with my old recipe a bit and just used brown sugar, took out a bit of of the flour, and upped the vanilla. WOW! Crispy on the outside, and so buttery and caramel-tasting on the inside. I ate three, then wrapped up and put away the plate so I wouldn't eat more. I don't waste my calories lightly, so that's a raving endorsement right there.

I actually had no intention of posting this cookie adventure, but these OCC cookies turned out so darned tasty, I had to share. Sometimes it's not how simple a recipe is, but how getting the recipe ingredients just right that makes the recipe a keeper. This one is definitely a keeper, and will be a go-to time and time again!

Make a batch, and let me know what you think.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 3 dozen cookies

2 sticks (1 cup) Earth Balance (or unsalted butter)
1 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla paste
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats (not instant), I use Trader Joe's GF oats
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside
- In a mixing bowl, beat together the EB (or butter) and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes
- Add in the vanilla and eggs until combined, another 2 minutes
- Add in the flour, oats, baking soda, and salt just until combined
- Add in the chopped nuts and chocolate chips (I just let the mixer do the work, I don't mind the little chocolate bits)
- Using a medium-sized cookie scoop, scoop out a dozen cookie dough balls per lined sheet
- Bake for 10-11 minutes until the cookies have started browning around the edges, and are baked through
- Cool completely (if they make it that long) on wired cooling racks

Dairy-free recipe if you use Earth Balance

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Zucchinis are kind of magical. Have someone in your family insist they don't like vegetables, give them a slice of zucchini cake. Have copious quantities of them growing in your garden (let's face it- zucchini is the tomato of vegetables.. they grow prolifically, and without much effort) and don't know what to do with them? Make a zucchini cake. Everyone likes zucchini cake. It's magic like that. Promise.

This cake is moist enough on it's own, but I love to "poke" my cakes with lemony glaze. You know me and lemons. I have to put them in everything. Poke the top of the cake all over with a fork while it's still warm, and pour the lemony glaze over the whole thing. It seeps into the cake and makes it tangy and even more moist. Another magic trick.

Recipe Tips:
- This cake is actually pretty healthy as far as sweets go. It tastes great on it's own, but extra special with cream cheese frosting. I use the 1/3 fat cream cheese- swear you can't taste the difference :)
- This cake is so easy, you just need a large bowl and a whisk.
- I like my cakes not-too-sweet and a little dense. If you want it fluffier, use 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour instead of the all-purpose/wheat flour combo below.

Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes a 9x13x2 cake

1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup (one small pre-pack cup) unsweetened applesauce
3 large eggs
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla paste
Zest from 1 lime (or lemon, or orange- whatever you have)
Juice from 1/2 the lime, lemon, or orange
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 cups shredded zucchini (1-2 zucchini), pressed with a couple of paper towels to get the excessive moisture out.
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes

Poke Glaze:
- Juice from 1 lime, lemon, or orange
- 3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar (if you don't like as much tang, use 1 cup powdered sugar)

1 brick 1/3 reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
2- 2 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar (start with 2 cups, and adjust to taste)
1 tsp vanilla paste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Spray a 9x13x2 glass pan with cooking spray (I like to use coconut oil spray)
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, canola oil, applesauce, vanilla paste, citrus zest, and citrus juice until combines and a little frothy
- Whisk in the brown sugar until combined
-Whisk in the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves until combined
- Stir in the nuts, coconut, and shredded zucchini
- Pour batter into the pan, and bake it for 30-35 minutes (mine took 35 minutes) until a toothpick pressed into the center of the cake comes out clean.
-While the cake is warm- in a small bowl whisk together the poke glaze- the citrus juice and 3/4 cups sifted powdered sugar
- Poke the cake all over with a fork, and pour the glaze evenly over the top of the cake
- When the cake is completely cooled- beat the cream cheese, butter, 2 cups sifted powdered sugar, and vanilla paste with a mixer until smooth
- Spread frosting evenly over the cake
- Keep this cake refrigerated until ready to serve

Dairy-free recipe if you do not frost the cake with the cream cheese frosting. The cake is really delicious baked with just the poke glaze :)

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Peeanuuut, Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies

What screams back to school more than peanut butter and jelly? If you were like me growing up, you've had your fair share of PB and J sandwiches packed away in your trusty lunch box. The cool Brady Bunch box with the tic-tac-toe board of pictures on the front. Or maybe you had my personal favorite- The Bionic Woman. She was, and still is a badass. The box stayed nice for the first couple of weeks until it showed wear from your bowling it across the playground With the intention of it landing back up against the classroom wall so you didn't have to miss another second of the rest of your lunch recess, or until you dropped your thermos and shattered the glass inside. I know, I know, I'm showing my age. Fun times.

I was given the task of coming up with a back to school themed baked good this month for The Leftover's Club. I thought what better way to celebrate back to school than with some peanut butter and jelly cookies? I would've preferred those in my lunchbox to a sandwich any day.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies in a snap-lid sandwich container with fun pencils and gum balls.
I was paired up this month with Shaina from Take a Bite out of Boca. Take a look at her blog- she's got so many great recipes including the one for Chocolate Zucchini Bread she sent me. No dairy, yet so delicious and moist. It was gone in a day!

These peanut butter and jelly cookies start off with my base peanut butter cookie dough. No way I would even consider messing with it- it's my favorite cookie on my blog. I then made little wells in the dough balls and filled it with a high quality strawberry jam. The result was a crunchy on the outside, soft in the middle best peanut butter cookie you'll ever have, with a surprise tart and sweet bite of strawberry jam. These cookies are delicious. So delicious, I had to hide them from my husband. In our spare bedroom, in a secret cubby. He would've eaten them all!

If you have a food blog, and would like to join The Leftover's Club, please check them out here and fill out an application. I've been participating for almost a year now, and it's something I look forward to each month. How fun is it to be paired up with a fellow food blogger, and exchange goodies? Check out all this month's exchange recipes at the bottom of the post, and see you next month!

Peeanuuut, Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies
Makes 4 dozen cookies

1/2 of a 16 oz jar of peanut butter (I swear that Jif is the best for flavor)
2 (1 cup) sticks Earth Balance or unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla paste
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup high quality jam (I used a homemade strawberry one, but Hero and Bonne Maman are good)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- In a mixer, cream together peanut butter and EB or butter until smooth, about 2 minutes
- Add in granulated and brown sugars, eggs, and vanilla paste and mix well to combine, another 2 minutes
- Add in flour and baking soda and mix just until combined
- Scoop by medium sized cookie scoop until parchment lined cookie sheets, a dozen to a sheet
- Using a wooden dowel or the bottom of a wooden spoon, carefully press an indentation about 1" round into each cookie
- Fill the indentation with a little jam (until it's filled even with the cookie)
- Bake cookies for 10-11 minutes, until the edge of the cookie just starts to brown
- Cool cookies on a wire rack

Dairy free recipe if you use EB!