Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Dark Chocolate Covered Cherries (Vegan, Gluten Free)

Don't worry. Your eyes are not playing a trick on you. This really is a new blog post. The first one in almost two weeks. The worst part is I tried to be super organized; I made and photographed a bunch of recipes ahead of time so all I had to do was edit and post (which surprisingly is many times what takes the longest). 

But then life happened, I picked up extra shifts at work (working 17 hours in a 24 hour block of time at one point) and then headed down to Austin for five days to hang out with this guy. Sorry no pictures to share this time. This trip was much more laid back, but still so much fun! We got to chill out in the studio while our friends The Baker Family recorded some music, had dinner with our friends Andy and Julie and their two fun little kids, made more black bean burgers, I even watched two zombie movies in honor of Sam's birthday. And you know what? I didn't hate them!

You know what else I really didn't hate?

These Dark Chocolate Covered Cherries. Smooth segue, right? But seriously, I'm glad I only made a dozen because I could have just kept eating an endless supply. They're just sooo good! Way better than that boxed chocolate covered cherry crap (say that 5 times fast!). And they're so simple to make, yet pretty enough to impress your friends with.

Dark Chocolate Covered Cherries
  • 12 Cherries (preferably organic)
  • 1/3 Cup Non-Dairy Dark Chocolate Chips
  • 1 Teaspoon Coconut Oil
Set some wax paper or silpat on a plate or cookie sheet next to the stove. Using a double broiler (or a heat safe bowl over a pot of water), heat the chocolate and coconut oil on low heat. Be sure to continually stir so that it doesn't burn. Once the chocolate is completely melted and smooth looking, dip and roll the cherries into the chocolate one at a time. Place onto wax paper and repeat with the rest of the cherries. Once all the cherries have been dipped in chocolate, move them to the refrigerator to set (about 30 minutes). Once the chocolate has hardened, serve and enjoy. Or just hoard them all. I'll leave that up to you.

-To make these cherries extra tasty, before the chocolate has hardened, gently roll them in shredded coconut, crushed almonds, cacao nibs or powder or whatever you fancy.
-You will have some chocolate left over. Feel free to use it to drizzle a little extra chocolate on the cherries once they've hardened to give plain ones a little more pizzazz or just spread it on wax paper and refrigerate to make a chocolate bar. There's never a reason to throw away perfectly good chocolate.

Which do you prefer? Chocolate covered cherries or strawberries?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Coconut Vanilla Mango Granola (Vegan)

I don't have a car. I can't remember if I've shared that fun fact on the blog before, but now you know. I sold my little hatchback just over a year ago now. Nine days out of ten I don't miss it. It's definitely cheaper not having to worry about paying for gas or car insurance or general maintenance. And I definitely live my life much differently now. 

I love how on Saturday mornings I walk the three and a half miles to the farmer's market to buy local produce, knowing that I'm leaving a minimal carbon footprint. I love my mile walk to and from work each day. I love how walking everywhere forcing me to slow down. It forces me to stop and smell the roses and notice things I never would have noticed before. I think it's good for the soul to go for a long walk with no ipod blasting your ear drums. I think it's good to give yourself time with well, yourself, to just listen to the thoughts bouncing around in your head. We don't do enough of that these days.

I was inspired to make this granola yesterday when I walked to our local natural food store, Mountain Mama's. In their bulk section they had some Vanilla Macaroon granola that looked and sounded delicious. I decided to make my own version and add some fruit to it. So I began searching the store for tasty ingredients. About an hour later I was cursing myself for getting so inspired to buy what ended up being twenty pounds of ingredients (for other recipes, too). Let me tell ya, walking three miles back from the store both up and downhill with twenty pounds on your back is a great workout. My legs are still a little sore. 

This granola features two different type of oats: old fashioned and barley flakes. It also has ground flax seed, sliced almonds and giant shreds of coconut creating a wonderfully hearty breakfast. Enjoy it with almond milk or use it to top your next smoothie bowl.

Coconut Vanilla Mango Granola
  • 2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Agave Nectar
  • Seeds from 1 Vanilla Bean 
  • 1 Cup Old Fashioned Oats
  • 1 Cup Barley Flakes
  • 1/2 Cup Sliced Almonds
  • 3 Tablespoons Ground Flax Seed
  • 1/2 Cup Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
  • 1/4 Cup Unsweetened Dried Mango, Finely Chopped
Makes approximately 4 cups.
Preheat oven to 275 degrees. In a large bowl, combine coconut oil, agave and vanilla. Add in the rest of the ingredients, mixing until it's fully coated by the oil mixture. Spread the granola onto a cookie sheet in a thin layer. Place in the oven and bake for approximately one hour, stirring occasionally. Once the granola looks evenly toasted, remove from oven and allow to cool. It will get crunchier as it cools. Consume once it has cooled and store any extra in a mason jar at room temperature. As always, be sure to enjoy.

What's your favorite granola flavor?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Zucchini Banana Nut Muffins (Vegan)

I'm just gonna go ahead and warn you now; there will be many-a-squash recipe on the blog in the next few weeks. Squash season is in full swing which means three for a dollar at the Farmer's Market on Saturday. How could I not come home with three squash (squashes?) every week?

These muffins came out better than expected and as crazy as it may sound I think they taste better with time. The room temperature one I ate for breakfast this morning was even tastier than when they first came out of the oven a couple days ago. Go figure. These muffins are made with no added oil, no white sugar, no white flour, no eggs and no butter. They are made with fruit, veggies, nuts, whole wheat flour, almond milk and chia seeds.

Zucchini Banana Nut Muffins
Lightly adapted from this recipe.
  • 1 3/4 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 Chia Seeds
  • 1 Lose Cup of Vegan Brown Sugar (approximately 2/3 cup packed)
  • 2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 Cup Grated Zucchini
  • 2 Overripe Bananas, Mashed
  • 1 Cup Almond Milk
  • 1 Tablespoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 3/4 Cup Chopped Pecans (or Walnuts)
Makes 12 muffins.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If you're not using muffins liners, lightly grease muffin tin. 
Combine flour, chia seeds, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. In another medium or large size bowl, grate the zucchini and mash the bananas. Mix in the almond milk and then the pecans. Add the dry mix to the wet mix, do not over mix. Spoon or pour the batter into the muffin tins. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the muffins feel firm, with little give with pressed down lightly. Allow to cool before consuming. Enjoy them plain or however you like. I like mine topped with peanut butter. 

What's your favorite summer squash? 
What's your favorite way to enjoy it?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Broiled Ginger Grapefruit (Vegan, Gluten Free, Grain Free)

Hey all! I hope you had a fantastic weekend! Mine was pretty busy between getting caught up on schoolwork, going to the farmer's market, going up to Denver for more school stuff, working and then a little more school. Get the idea? Fortunately, I love what I'm learning so it's not so bad. Plus, my weekend was kicked off by a pretty fun surprise. 

Thursday night I was working the closing shift with my coworker Lisa. These two guys came in, one with an accent I couldn't quite place, the other with no accent. The accented man ordered his tea a very specific way, the other man said that sounded good and he'd have the same. So after giving them a hard time on their ridiculous specifications (they seemed like they could take it) we hand them their English breakfast teas with the tea bag in first, hot water poured over the top and a side of whole milk. The men thank us for the tea and the no-accent man tells us that the two of them are playing a show tonight and that we should stop by after work. After getting more details from them, Lisa and I decided, what the heck, why not? It was folk music which I love at a bar on my way home anyway. 

What I was not expecting was for the two guys to be so excited and grateful that we came to their show to comp our covers and to actually spend time talking to us while the other was playing (they were two separate solo acts) and not in a creepy-I-wanna-get-with-you-way, just a genuine appreciation. I also was not expecting them to be really good! It was a great night! It's been far too long since I've seen live music. If you want to check them out here are their websites: Delaney Davidson and Possessed by Paul James. It's times like these I wish I had a fancy phone like everyone else so I could have taken pictures. Oh well. Moving on. To grapefruit.

Yesterday morning was cold and rainy so I wanted something warm for breakfast as opposed to my usual smoothie, but I didn't want something heavy like oatmeal or pancakes. Then I remembered I had bought a grapefruit the day before! Molly first introduced me to broiled grapefruit back before we were roommates. I thought the idea sounded interesting (grapefruit was never my thing unless it was loaded with sugar which just sort of defeated the purpose in my opinion), but I figured she was making it so I'd give it a try. It was absolutely delicious! The key is to top it with a little bit of a sweetener before sticking it in the oven. The heat releases all the juices and the sweetener mixes in making it taste wonderful! So the next time you feel like being a little fancy at breakfast or you're hosting a brunch give broiled grapefruit a try. I think you just might like it!

Broiled Ginger Grapefruit
  • 1 Grapefruit, halved
  • 1 Inch Fresh Ginger, grated
  • 2 Tablespoons Honey, Pure Maple Syrup, or Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Cream
  • 1/4 Cup Pecans, chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Dried Apricots, chopped
Serves 2.
Set your oven to broil. While it's preheating, slice the grapefruit down the middle and taking a small pairing knife, cut around the edge of the segments and then in between them (this will make eating the grapefruit much easier later and more juices will be released). Drizzle one tablespoon of honey on each grapefruit half. Grate the ginger and sprinkle it evenly between the two halves. Place the grapefruit on a silpat or wax paper in a pan with edges (juice will leak, and you don't want it to end up on the bottom of your oven). Put the grapefruit in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, until the grapefruit turns barely golden brown on the edges. While the grapefruit is baking, chop your pecans and apricots. When the grapefruit comes out, allow it to cool for a couple minutes before touching it. Then move each grapefruit to a bowl and top with a dollop of coconut cream and a sprinkle of pecans and apricots. Serve with a spoon and enjoy!

-Feel free to get creative with your toppings. My other favorite way to broiled grapefruit is with brown sugar, cinnamon and dried cranberries. 
-If you don't like or have coconut cream feel free to use your favorite yogurt instead.

Grapefruit tends to be one of those polarizing foods. How do you feel about it? 
What's your favorite way to eat it? 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Fudgy Nut Butter Brownies (Vegan, Gluten Free)

My parents have been in town visiting for the past week. This was their first time out west and I think they really enjoyed themselves. It's always fun to see something new and the terrain and landscape in Colorado is just a bit different from Rhode Island. They enjoyed the mountain views, the break from humidity and how cheaply and easily you can attend baseball games. Monday we drove to the top of Pike's Peak which had breath-taking view after breath-taking view.

While my parents were here I took advantage of having two new taste-testers around and was able to try out a few new recipes on them. A stir-fry with peanut sauce, a mexican squash quinoa salad and this brownie recipe. I also wanted to make a strawberry blackberry crisp, but in all honestly was feeling too lazy to chop and grate the ingredients so I went with the brownies instead (I plan on sharing the crisp recipe later this week!) These brownies were made vegan for me, gluten-free for my mom and delicious for my dad...and well, all of us. They received two thumbs up.

I not only wanted to make delicious vegan, gluten-free brownies, I wanted to make brownies with some actual nutritional value, that weren't full of sugar and junk. So instead of processed chocolate powder, we're going to give ourselves some antioxidents, iron and magnesium and use raw cacao. Instead of white flour, we're going to use a little coconut flour to give these brownies some fiber. Instead of eggs, we're going to use  flax seeds rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Rather than oil, we'll use our favorite nut butter to add some protein. Do I have you convinced to try these yet? 

Fudgy Nut Butter Brownies
Adapted from this recipe.
  • 1 Flax Egg (1 TB ground flax seeds mixed with 3 TB warm water)
  • 3 Tablespoons Coconut Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Raw Cacao Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 Cup Nut Butter (I used peanut butter)
  • 1/2 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk (or other nondairy milk)
  • 1 Tablespoon Pure Vanilla Extract
Makes one 6 inch pan.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, make the flax egg and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine coconut flour, cacao, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix in the brown sugar and nut butter. Using a whisk or fork, whisk the flax eggs until they are an even consistency, add the vanilla extract and whisk again until combined. Add the vanilla flax mixture to the rest of the ingredients. Lastly, add the almond milk and stir until everything is combined without over mixing. Pour batter in a greased 6 inch pan (I used coconut oil as grease) and place in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted and cleanly removed. Allow to cool approximately 10 minutes before serving. Dress it up how you like or eat it plain. Either way, enjoy!

Options & Sidenotes:
-Mix in or sprinkle on top before baking, 1/4 Cup Vegan Chocolate Chips and/ or Chopped Nuts
-Next time, I will definitely try this with Almond Butter for a richer chocolate flavor
-I used a no-stir peanut butter, sometimes the nut butters that need to be stirred are too oily for baking
-I baked my brownies in a 6x8 inch glass Pyrex dish, I recommend using a 6 inch pan so they come out thicker, however an 8 inch pan might be okay
-The original recipe calls for Pure Maple Syrup, which I did not have on hand, but feel free to try using it if you were looking for a less processed sugar
-To make the brownies more decadent sprinkle with Cacao Powder before serving

How was your holiday weekend?
What tasty food did you eat?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Mojito Ice Cream (Vegan, Gluten Free)

After my not-so-summery post yesterday, I decided to share a recipe for something a little more in season. So I began thinking about what I enjoy eating in the summer. Mint chocolate chip ice cream is one of the first things I thought of. Making something with mint sounded like a good idea since my mint plant is growing out of control, but I wanted to do something a little different. What else do I enjoy? Mojitios! Can we make mojitio ice cream? I didn't know, but there was only one way to find out. The answer, by the way, is yes, yes you can.

This vegan ice cream gets it's creaminess from coconut milk and it's refreshing flavors from fresh mint and lime. Add some rum to make it authentic, some agave for sweetness and you've got yourself a new favorite summer dessert. The best part? No ice cream maker needed.

Mojito Ice Cream
  • 2 Cans of Full Fat Coconut Milk (I find Thai Kitchen works best)
  • Zest and Juice of 1 Lime
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of Rum (I used Captain Morgan)
  • Heaping 1/4 Cup of Fresh Mint Leaves, Minced
  • Agave to Taste (I used about 2 Tablespoons)
Makes 2-4 Servings.
Place cans of coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight to allow the cream to rise to the top. The next day, open the cans and scoop out the cream (be sure to not shake the cans or you'll lose all the cream again) and place it in a bowl. Add the rum, lime zest, juice, agave and minced mint leaves. Whisk all the ingredients together until fully incorporated. Pour the mixture into a bowl with a lid or storage container, place in the freezer. Stir it every 30-45 until fully frozen. When ready to eat it, allow it to sit out for a minute before scooping so it can regain it's creaminess. Eat and enjoy!

-You can mix all the ingredients in a food processor, just know the ice cream will take on a slight green color. 
-You can leave out the rum if you so desire, but it does help keep the ice cream soft.
-Feel free to mix in raspberries or other favorite fruits that you enjoy with your mojito.

What's your favorite summer treat?

Monday, July 1, 2013

Whole Wheat Rosemary Bread (Vegan)

Happy Monday Everyone! 
It seems like it's been forever since I've posted an actual recipe, but today I've got a good one for you! I realize the idea of baking bread is not that enticing in the summer, especially as we begin the hottest months of the year (July, how did you sneak up on us so fast?), but this past weekend has been rainy and cool in Colorado. And if there is one thing I have learned in the three months of living here it is never complain about the rain. In a state constantly threatened by wildfires, you learn to love and appreciate every single drop of moisture. So after work yesterday I embraced the rain by baking a delicious loaf of whole bread made with fresh rosemary from my herb garden. To say my house smelled absolutely heavenly last night is the understatement of the year. 

This recipe comes together really easily, even if you have never baked bread before go ahead and give this one a try and impress your friends and family. It's so delicious I had to stop myself from eating more for breakfast (I decided to go with a smoothie bowl instead) because I knew I'd want some with dinner. I should just call this recipe the Disappearing Loaf. Come winter I think this recipe would be fantastic to make bread bowls with for soup... I'll have to keep that in mind.

Whole Wheat Rosemary Bread
Adapted from A Hint of Honey
  • 1 Cup Warm Water
  • 1 Packet of Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon Pure Cane Sugar (I actually used brown sugar, honey or pure maple syrup would also work)
  • 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Rosemary, chopped
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Fresh Garlic, minced
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Fresh Ground Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil + more for greasing the bowl
  • 1 1/2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2/3 Cup All Purpose Flour + more for kneading

Makes 1 Loaf.
Start by combining the water, yeast and sugar in a large bowl, set aside for 10 minutes to allow it to proof. Mix in the salt, rosemary, garlic, pepper and oil. Mix in the whole wheat flour and then the all purpose flour. Stir until it is too thick to and then begin kneading either on a clean, floured surface or right in the bowl, adding flour as needed so the dough isn't sticky. Knead for about 5 minutes or until smooth.

Using olive oil, lightly grease the inside of the bowl, place the dough back in, cover with a clean dish cloth and allow to rise for about an hour or until doubled in size. Punch the dough down, form into a loaf and place on a silpat or parchment paper. Allow to rise for another 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven (and pizza stone if you have one) to 400 degrees. If desired, you can brush the top of the bread with a thin layer of olive oil and sprinkle on some more rosemary. Transfer the bread with the silpat or parchment paper onto the pizza stone (or cookie sheet if you don't have one). Bake approximately 25-30 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.

Allow to cool for about 5-10 minutes. Then slice into your freshly baked homemade bread, relax as the aroma wafts through your home and take your first bite of this delicious bread. Try not to eat it all.

What's your favorite kind of homemade bread?