Gluten Free Carrot Cake

I have a hard time with this whole gluten-free movement that’s been happening the past few years.  I get that some people have genuine intolerances, but for the most part I’m a non-believer.  When someone tells me they don’t eat gluten, I roll my eyes.  Yes. I am that person.  I am a jerk.

Karma is a thing.  Let me tell you why…

You might have noticed that I fell off the face of the Earth a while (err 2 weeks).  Really it’s because I’ve been having major stomach issues and the last thing I want to do is cook and eat food.  Don’t worry.  This isn’t a blog post to tell you that I suddenly am going gluten-free.  No no.  But this post is about exploring new ways of eating, because I’ve come to the realization that having stomach issues sucks.  Right now, I would eat (or not eat) anything to make the discomfort go away.

Because now I understand how much it sucks, I have a little more sympathy for those with food sensitivities.  I have no idea if I have food sensitivities.  I’m currently trying to figure out what the heck is causing my stomach to implode on me.  I’m starting by avoiding dairy for a while.  Jury is still out.  We’ll see.

But in the meantime, let me tell you about my first experience with a gluten-free cake.

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Isn’t it beautiful?  By the looks of it, you wouldn’t even know it’s gluten-free, but it is.  And it came about because my good friend Allison (check our her blog Sweet Potato Bites) has a lot of food allergies.  I wanted to make a cake that would fit her allergy needs for a surprise birthday gathering.  Her husband sent me a list of Allison-approved cake recipes.  After a few days of back and forth, we decided he would make a gluten free cake and I would make a cake that everyone else could have.  Nice compromise for guests not into the gluten-free thing. So I went ahead and made a chocolate cake with raspberry whipped cream filling and frosting.  

But after that night, I still had a curiosity for how a gluten-free taste would be like.  I’ve never really eaten one, other than flourless chocolate cake.   So I went with it and made a cake anyway, because there’s never a wrong time to make a cake. I used a recipe for Carrot Cake from Elana’s Pantry, because having never made a gluten free cake, I couldn’t really wing it on my first try.  

But that said, I made a few adjustments to make 1 smaller (6-inch) cake.  Here’s my attempt:

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Gluten Free Carrot Cake

adapted from Elana’s Pantry

1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of mace
2 eggs + 1 egg white
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp canola oil
1 1/2 cups grated carrot
1/2 cup whipping cream
2-3 tbsp maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 325F.  Grease and line 2 (6-inch) cake pans with parchment paper

I used my vitamix to chop up the carrots instead of grating, but you can grate them if you’d like .  Then I throw all the ingredients into the blender and blended until combine.  It’s really that easy.  Pour batter into 2 prepared cake pans.

Bake about 20 mins or until a toothpick comes out clean.  While your cake is baking, make your frosting.  It’s easy.  Whip the cream.  Once the cream starts forming peaks, stream in maple syrup.  Taste it.  If you want it sweeter, add more maple syrup.  If it’s too sweet, oops!  (JK, add a bit at a time, and try to get your desired sweetness.  I didn’t want mine too sweet I only added about 2 tbsp).

Allow to cool completely.  Then lather with maple whipped cream and serve.  Store leftovers in the fridge.

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Confession: I actually think it tastes better cold.

2nd Confession: I meant to take Allison a piece of this cake but Jesse dug into.  Fail.  But really I can’t complain if he liked it.  That means it was tasty.

 

Overall: I thought this was tasty.

Does it taste like cake? Not really.

Does it have the texture of a cake? Not really.

Is it worth trying? Absolutely.

 

While I don’t have any food allergies or sensitivities that I know of, the point of all this is that I will stop being a hater, because stomach issues suck.

Are you a fan of gluten-free foods?  

Healthier Pancake Toppings and Options

With my series of overindulgent posts as of recent, I feel the need to balance out the calories and cholesterol with something a little bit healthier: Pancakes.

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That’s not a joke.  I totally think pancakes can be healthy.  You just have to know how to do them. As a kid, I hated pancakes.  I always thought they tasted funny.  Then something magical happened, I tried IHOP’s pancakes and I loved them.   That’s when I realized what I hated was Bisquick pancakes.  That’s all my mom ever made.  Sorry mom, but bisquick is just gross. When I discovered my love of pancakes, I wanted to eat them all the time.   While we all know pancakes aren’t always the healthiest breakfast, there are ways to lighted up your pancakes and especially the toppings so they’re still fun and delicious but won’t undo your workout. Here are a few ways to keep your pancakes a little on the healthier side so you can enjoy them guilt-free. peachpureepancakes2text

Choose a Better Pancake Base

Pancakes can basically be a carb fest (nothing wrong with that), but if you’re looking to balance your meal, adding protein powder is a great start.  I’m a big fan of protein pancakes because the extra protein helps keep you full.

Some of my favorites are:

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Vanilla Coconut Protein Pancakes
Pumpkin Protein Pancakes
Banana Protein Pancakes

The fun part of protein pancakes is you can play with different flours and protein powders and find a mix that you love.

If making your own pancakes from scratch isn’t your thing or you’re really not looking to add some extra protein, there are some pancake mixes that are pretty natural and overall healthy.  I love Kodiak Cakes, because they’re super easy to make (just add water) and the ingredients are all natural.

You could also go the Paleo Pancake route.  It’s not exactly a pancake but still pretty darn tasty.

Lighten Up Your Toppings

When I was younger, I ate the regular old pancake syrup you get at the grocery store.  Nowadays, I try to stick with toppings that don’t have any chemicals or artificial sweeteners.  Straight up maple syrup is a little too intense for me, so generally I like to mix it up to create different types of syrups and sauces and toppings.

My latest obsession is fruit purees mixed with maple syrup.

I like to puree some fresh peaches and mixed it with maple syrup… about 2 tbsp peach puree + 1 tbsp of maple syrup for one person.  You can also just puree the fruit and skip the maple syrup.  I tried that with banana (simmered them in water first, but raw works) and it was awesome:

pancakesbananasyrupMy other favorite combo is plain greek yogurt with maple syrup.

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But in general, fruit is a great topping.  It helps bulk up the volume without adding as many calories as eating extra pancakes.  Berries are always a great addition…

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But you can also get creative, like topping your pancakes with persimmon!

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 Portion Control

I love a big stack of pancakes.  Mostly because it looks pretty, but also because it’s fun to eat.  But eating 4 or 5 full sized pancakes is a lot.  So what I do is I made them smaller!  That way I feel like I’m eating a lot but really I’m not.

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I generally use a tbsp measurer to prepare my pancakes.  Each pancake is composed of 2 tbsp of batter, instead of about 1/4 cup (4 tbsp) which is normal.

In the photo above, the banana slices show how the pancakes are actually pretty small.  Despite the fact that the portion size is smaller, I still feel like I’m getting a good amount of pancakes.

 

I’m all for eating a full stack of pancakes with butter and maple syrup every once a while.  But on a normal day basis, I like to keep it a bit lighter.  Pancakes can still be enjoyed if you’re trying to stay healthy.  It’s just about making sure you make the right choices.

What’s your favorite way to slim down your pancakes?

Breakfast Sliders

One of my favorite things to do is  recreate things I tried in restaurants.  A few weeks ago, I met up with a friend for brunch in Long Beach.  We shared an appetizer and an entree and sipped bellinis.  For our appetizers,  we shared some breakfast sliders.

After one bite, I was in love.  I mean… biscuits, eggs, bacon, sausage gravy.

Everything you want in breakfast in one delicious bite.  I knew I had to recreate them, and so I did.

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Breakfast Sliders

1 Recipe for Crazy Good Biscuits
1/2 lb breakfast sausage
1/3 cup flour 3 cups milk (I used low fat)
garlic salt
12 slices of bacon
8 eggs (I used Eggland’s Best)

First make your sausage gravy.  Crumble and cook your breakfast sausage in a large skillet or pot.  Make sure you buy the kind in the tube, not the links.  Once the sausage is almost cooked through, add flour and toss.  Cook a few minutes.  Stream in milk, slowly, stirring constantly to break up lumps.  Add garlic salt to taste. Remember the breakfast sausage is pretty salty on its own so you won’t need too much.  Set aside, leave on simmer to keep warm.

Next make your biscuits and cook your bacon until crispy and set aside.

The last step is to cook the egg.  Scramble the eggs in a bowl.  Pour eggs into a greased, heated skillet.  Cover and allow to cook a few minutes until almost cooked through.  You’re basically making a big egg pancake that you can slice and fold. Once the eggs have almost set, flip over and cook another few seconds.  Remove from heat and slice in half, then slice each half into 1 1/2 – 2 inch thick strips.  You should have 10-12 pieces.

Now assemble your sliders. Slice the biscuits in half.  On the bottom half, lay some sausage gravy, then take an egg strip and fold in half and place on top of sausage gravy, lay on some bacon and top off with top of biscuit.  Repeat until all your sliders are ready.  This recipe will make about 10-12 sliders.

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These coincided with the fact that Eggland’s Best send me some egg coupons to throw a Brinner Party.  These were the perfect appetizer.

So if you’re having a Brinner party or if you just want to have an awesome breakfast-inspired treat, this is it.

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ALSO, this is my entry for the Eggland’s Best “Your Best Recipe” contest.  Cross your fingers for me, then submit your own recipe!

Here are the contest details:

2014 Eggland’s Best “Your Best Recipe” Recipe Contest:

  • Visit the Eggland’s Best website to learn about their 2014 Eggland’s Best “Your Best Recipe” Contest
  • Eggland’s Best will be accepting original recipes through their website until July 31st
  • One Grand Prize Winner will receive a $10,000 cash prize and a year supply of EB eggs
  • Category winners will receive a cash prize of $1,000 and a six-month supply of EB eggs

Pretty awesome, right?  Who doesn’t want to win eggs and money?

Speaking of which, one more day to enter the Eggland’s Best giveaway to win some Eggland’s Best Eggs and a $25 Visa gift card!  Click here to enter!

 

What’s your favorite brunch/brinner appetizer??

Blueberry Lemon Thyme Pie in a Bourbon Crust

Before this week, I hadn’t made a pie in a really long time.  I had almost forgotten how fun it is to make a pie.

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There’s something really special about making a pie.  I think it has to do with all the steps.  It’s a process, but almost always, it’s worth it.

With this pie, it’s totally worth it. I can honestly say, I thoroughly enjoy making pies.  I love making the dough and using my fingers to break up the butter.  I love rolling out the dough to fit the pie pan.   I should also tell you that I’m a little bit in love with the crust.  I decided bourbon was a good idea, so I used bourbon instead of water.  Then I decided thyme goes great with blueberries and lemon. So why not?  I won’t lie, the thyme gives the pie a really earthy flavor.  I’m not sure it will be to everyone’s liking.  If you aren’t into earthiness, omit the thyme and you will have one rockin’ pie.

The only part of pie-making that I’m not crazy about is chopping fruit.  With this pie, this is a non-issue. pieingredients

This is pretty much the pie for those who don’t like to chop things.  There’s really zero chopping involved.  Just rinse your blueberries, grate your lemon and pluck some thyme off the stem, then throw it all together with some sugar and flour.  It all is pretty simple. blueberrylemonpie2

Of course with any pie, you can always get fancy.  Lattice tops are always fancy.  I tried to get even fancier by using a spoon to crimp the edge.  Oh and the little heart adds a nice touch, right?  All sorts of cute! blueberrylemonpie3

  I’m a fan.  If you’re in the mood for a fancy pants pie that is comforting and earthy (is earthy a bad thing?), this is the jam:

Blueberry Lemon Thyme Pie in a Bourbon Crust

For Crust:

350g all purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks butter, cold
1/4 cup bourbon

For Filling:

1.5lbs fresh blueberries (5 cups)
3/4-1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp fresh thyme  

First make your crust.  Mix together dry ingredients.  Cut your butter into cubes, using your fingers work into your flour mixture until you get coarse crumbs.  Add bourbon and work into a ball.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.  Resting is a critical part of pie dough  making.  If your pie dough is shrinking, it’s because it hasn’t rested enough. So let it chill in the fridge a few hours. Pour yourself a glass of bourbon while you wait.

When you’re ready to make your pie, make your filling.  In a bowl, combine all ingredients Roll out the crust, half for the bottom and half for the top.  Place one half in the bottom of the pan.  Fill with fruit filling.  Then make a lattice top (or just roll it out and cut a few slits in the top), crimp as desired.

 If you want some cool pie crimping ideas, check this out. Put your pie in the freezer while you preheat your oven to 350F.  Once heated, bake for about an hour or until the blueberries are bubbling all around. Allow to cool completely and serve. eatingblueberrypie

Blueberry pie always looks like a mess when served.  But that’s part of the fun of pies.  Unlike layer cakes, pie aren’t perfect.  They’re messy and chunky, but overall pretty great.

 

I’m really interested to try more herbs in pies.  I’m thinking maybe strawberry basil might be a good combo.

Any other ideas?  How do you feel about pies? Fan? Not so much?

Lemon Ricotta Cake

I feel like Allison and I have been talking about lemon far too much lately. We’re obsessed ladies.

So I finally broke down and made a lemon cake.  I’m continually on the search for a lemon cake, and this is finally THE ONE.

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It’s amazing. Simple. Moist. Light. Delicious. I really couldn’t ask for more.  This is my new go-to lemon cake recipe.  Because let’s be honest, we all need a few go-to cake recipes.  My go to Chocolate Cake recipe is the Hershey’s chocolate cake.  My go to Banana Cake recipe is my Little Banana Cake. This recipe will make 1 (9-inch) round cake.  So if you were looking to do a lemon layer cake, I would suggest doubling (or even tripling if you’re doing a 3 layer cake) then spreading each layer with lemon curd and frosting with a simple whipped cream icing or a cream cheese frosting. Those would be delightful.  Don’t be surprised if you see the cake I just described on Foodologie soon. LemonRicottaCake4

Lemon Ricotta Cake

For Cake:

1/2 cup Canola Oil
3/4 cup Sugar
2 Lemons, zested
2 eggs
1/2 cup Ricotta
1 cup Flour
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt

For Glaze:

2 tbsp Butter
1/2 cup sugar
Juice of 1 Lemon

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease and flour a 9 inch round baking pan and line with parchment paper.

In a mixer, combine oil, sugar and lemon zest.  Beat until well combined.  Beat in one egg at a time.  Beating each a few minutes until fluffy.  Beat in ricotta and juice of one lemon (reserve the other lemon for the glaze).  Add flour, baking powder and salt.  Beat until combined.  Pour batter into prepared baking pan.  Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

Allow to cool.

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Make glaze by heating butter, sugar and lemon juice in a sauce pan.  Stir until sugar is dissolved.  Allow to cool a bit.  Then turn cake over onto serving dish.  Pour glaze over cake.  Garnish with lemon slices, slice and serve. LemonRicottaCake2

I’m biased because I love lemon, but this was seriously good.  Perfect for a simple afternoon treat with tea, but also good for a simple dessert for your summer dinner party.

Do you love lemon desserts? What’s your favorite?

I love lemon tarts, like this one.  But this lemon cake is giving lemon tarts a run for their money.

Beef Empanadas

I’m starting to worry that I’m going to be on an empanada kick.  I had never made empanadas but I’ve eaten my fair share of empanadas in my day.  In Guatemala, there aren’t too many empanadas.  They exist, but I’m not sure I’ve eaten them.  We’re more tortilla folks, but Argentina… that’s the land of empanadas.  After my freshman year of college, I went to Argentina for 2 months and volunteered at a school and wandered around Buenos Aires.

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Oh hey, I drink mate from a gourd sometimes…

It was an experience I’d never trade.  I learned how to be on my own. I learned to love red wine.  I learned to love cities.  And I ate a ton of empanadas.

My favorite are the spinach and cheese kind, but the traditional kind are beef ones.  Because on top of being the land of empanadas, Argentina is also the land of beef.  So I decided to give it a try.

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The pastry part of these tastes different that the traditional Argentinean kind, but it was still pretty darn tasty.  I think they traditionally use lard, which is why mine taste different.  Also I added bouillion to try to mask some of the butteriness.  Next time, I’ll definitely try lard.  But I’m definitely happy with these creations. beefempanadas3

Beef Empanadas

For Dough:

3 cups flour
1 1/2 sticks butter (12 tbsp), cold
1/2 tsp chicken bouillion
1 egg
4-5 tbsp water

 

For Filling:

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 tbsp paprika
1/2 tbsp cumin
1/4 cup sliced green olives
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 egg (for brushing)

 

In a bowl, combine flour and butter.  Using your fingers, break up the butter until it turns to coarse crumbs.  Add egg and incorporate.  Add water and form into a ball.  Knead a few times til it all comes together.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate while you make the filling or until ready to use.

Heat a skillet with olive oil.  Add onion and cook for a few minutes until onions are tender.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add beef and cook until browned.  Add paprika, cumin, olives and hard boiled eggs.  Stir to combine.  Set aside.

Now it’s time to assemble the empanadas. Pre-heat oven to 400F.

Roll out dough as thin as you can (1/4 cm if you can).  Using a circle cutter or a bowl, cut out circles.  The size of the circles will determine the size of your empanadas.  I used a bowl about 3 inches in diameter.

Place some of the meat filling in the center of each circle.  Fold in half and pinch edges together.  Flute edges (folded over) and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Repeat until all dough is used up.

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Mix one egg with a tbsp of water. Brush empanadas with egg mixture and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden.  The bake time will vary depending on the size of your empanadas.  Start checking them after 15 minutes. Serve warm and enjoy with a glass of wine. beefempanadas5

I have so many ideas for empanadas.  Like I said, I fear this might be the start of a new trend for me.  I already bought some ricotta to make some ricotta, kale and leek empanadas.  Doesn’t that sound amazing?

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In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy these leftovers (because they stay good for a few days in the fridge) and brainstorm future empanada-making.

 

Are you a fan of empanadas?  What kind do you like? 

The Best Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

I pretty much always wish I had a reason to make a cake.  The more I think about it, it’s one of the reasons I love weddings, because I think wedding cakes are amazing.  Tonight I had a conversation with some ladies about wedding media.  Wedding sites, blogs, shows magazines are all geared at woman.  The wedding is portrayed as entirely about the woman, which to me seems a little unfair, given that the woman is only one half of the equation.

But in the conversation, one of the things I pointed out is that part of my fascination with wedding media is the aesthetic.  I think weddings are beautiful.  I think cakes are beautiful.  That’s probably why I love food blogs too, because I think the photography is pretty.

Most of the time when I see a beautiful cake my first thought is I want to make that, then second, I want to eat that.  For me, making cakes is fun.  I love making them look beautiful, but I also love making them taste good.

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Because really, isn’t a layer cake just one of the prettiest things out there?

While I always want to make cakes, there isn’t always an occasion to make a cake.  I originally made this cake for a birthday/going away party for friends.  But it was so popular and pretty that I wanted to make it again and photograph it.  

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.  I think it just means I appreciate aesthetics. So if you want to make a cake for a special ocassion or no reason at all other than to please yourself… please do! ChocolatePBCake3

And as a bonus, it’s amazingly delicious and the perfect 6-inch cake.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

For Cake (adapted from Hershey’s Chocolate Cake):

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp flour
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 cup milk (I used almond milk)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup boiling water

For Filling:

2 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
7 oz sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup whipping cream

For Frosting:

2 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 big pinch of cream of tartar*
1 pinch of salt

For Chocolate Ganache:

3 oz bitter sweet chocolate chips
1/4 heavy cream
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Make Cake.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease and line with parchment paper 2 (6-inch) cake pans, set aside.  In a stand mixer bowl, combine all dry ingredients.  Add eggs, oil, milk and vanilla.  Beat together.   Add boiling water and beat until combined.  Pour batter evenly between both 6-inch cake pans.  Bake 25-30 minutes (this might vary based on your oven so start checking for readiness after 20 minutes, especially if using a convection oven) or until cooked through (i.e. do the toothpick test: insert toothpick, once it comes out clean, it’s ready).

Allow to cool completely.

In the meantime, make the filling.  Beat together cream cheese, condensed milk and peanut butter.  In a separate bowl, whip heavy cream into firm peaks.  Fold whipped cream into peanut butter mixture, refrigerate until ready to use.

Next make your frosting.

Place a glass bowl over a sauce pan that has about 1 inch of water in it, make sure the water is not touching the bottom of the bowl (aka build a double boiler).  Add egg whites, sugar, vanilla extract, cream of tartar and salt.  Mix together.  Heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves and the egg whites are warm when you touch them.

Transfer egg white mixture to a stand mixer and attach whisk attachment.  Stir on low and turn up the speed every 15 seconds or so until it’s on high speed.  Beat 5-7 minutes or until glossy, stiff peaks form.

Now assemble the cake.  Level your layers and slice in half, so you have 4 layers (you’ll notice in my photo I only had 3 layers, you can accidentally drop one on the floor and have 3 layers as well… that’s allowed, but not advised).  Place your first layer on your cake circle or cake dish of choice. Lay some filling on top of the first layer and spread evenly, press on second layer, it’s ok if it overflows a bit.  Repeat until all layers are complete.

Next, frost with a generous layer of frosting.

Place in the fridge while you make your ganache.  Place chocolate chips in a bowl and set aside.  In a small sauce pan, heat heavy cream and vanilla stirring constantly until it comes to a light boil.  Pour cream over chocolate chips.  Let sit for a minute, then stir until smooth.  Pour over cake and smooth the top with an offset spatula.  Allow to cool completely, then slice and serve.

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I had hopes and dreams of making a beautiful vide to go along with this blog post, but I’m still working on perfect my video making skills… but in case you’re curious… here’s my first attempt:

 

Not the prettiest video, but I’ll take it for a first try!  We can’t expect to make gorgeous creations the first time around, and I’m cool with that.

 

So tell me, are you a fan of layer cakes, weddings and pretty things?  Are you overloaded with wedding stuff? Don’t even see it?  Is a cake just a cake for you?  

 

Molasses Ginger Apricot Cookies and The Coast-to-Coast Cookie Swap

One of the best things about having a blog is making new friends.  There are the kind you meet in real life, that also happen to live down the road from you.  But then there are the online ones.  You have crazy obsession with cookies, doughnuts and the best combination of flavors for that new sandwich you want to try.

I mean who else is going to understand that it’s REALLY important that you try adding herbs to your lemon cookies?  Or how you absolutely NEED to recreate that recipe you tried at some restaurant you went to last weekend?

These things are important. And other food blogger friends can truly appreciate that.  Because sometimes I need to send cookies to people, I teamed up with some bloggers for our very first The Coast-to-Coast Cookie Swap.

Since I was sending cookies to bloggers, I knew they had to be good.  Because of that, I tried to recreate my favorite cookie

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We made cookies and sent them to each other.  It was pretty great!

Who Participated:

Allison from Sweet Potato Bites (aka my crossfit/running buddy) with her Loaded Oatmeal Cookies

Natalie from In Natalie’s Shoes with her Amazing Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Coco from Urban Chick’s Foodie Ventures with her Peach Cobbler Cookies <— LOVED

Jazzy with her Lemon Blueberry Cookies (Link to come!)

 

My contribution to the bunch:

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Molasses-Ginger Apricot Cookies

1 stick of butter + 2 tbsp (10 tbsp total)
1 cup sugar (plus extra for rolling)
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 1/4 cup flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp mace
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup turbinado sugar (for rolling)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cream together butter and 1 cup sugar using a stand or hand mixer.  Beat in molasses and egg until fluffy.  In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and spices.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.  Just before ingredients are combine, fold in apricot pieces.

Form dough into 1 inch balls and roll in turbinado sugar (note: you can use any sugar, but turbinado sugar is thicker so it looks pretty!).  Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Bake 8-10 minutes.  Allow to cool  and serve!  Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Clearly, I’m a big fan of ginger and molasses year round, not just for Fall/Winter.

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All the cookies were delicious!  It was cool to see what the other ladies chose to make, and also to make new friends.  And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love getting packages?

Thanks to Jazzy, Natalie, Coco and Allison for participating in the Coast to Coast Cookie Swap!  I can’t wait to do it again!

 

If you were making cookies for your favorite bloggers, what kind would you make?

Banana Cupcakes with Chocolate Hazelnut Buttercream Frosting

I’ve been a little bit out of control with my sugar intake this week.  But that’s totally ok.  Monday will start a new week and we’ll be good to go with some more clean eating.  But before that, let’s talk cupcakes.

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A few weeks ago, Nocciolata sent me some samples of their tasty chocolate hazelnut spread to try. It’s seriously amazing and is certified organic, which cool! I really like that this has actual recognizable ingredients in it. Now, you might remember that I loooooove chocolate hazelnut spread (aka I went crazy with Nutella when I lived in Rome and gained 15lbs, no joke) and my favorite combo by far is chocolate/hazelnut + banana.

So with these samples sitting in my house, I tested out a few recipes for chocolate hazelnut frosting.  I failed 3 times and finally went back to the basics: buttercream.  Buttercream is delicious and always pleasing.  And I knew that the frosting I created would go perfectly with banana cupcakes.  So that brings us to these guys:

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Lately, the world has gotten ridiculous on the cupcake frosting front (myself included), but sometimes you just want to have a cupcake that looks homemade.  You know, like spread with a knife.  No fancy piping bags necessary.

Something familiar, comforting and tasty (like chocolate hazelnut spread).  Let’s concentrate on flavor, not on looks, because that’s really what this spread is all about: Great Taste.

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Banana Cupcakes with Chocolate Hazelnut Buttercream Frosting

For Cupcakes:
1 cup + 1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp corn starch
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1/2 cup sugar, heaping
1 egg
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp whole milk
1/2 tsp vinegar
1 tsp vanilla

Frosting:
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup chocolate hazelnut spread
3-4 cups powdered sugar

Make cupcakes.  Pre-heat oven to 350F.  In a bowl combine flour, corn starch, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.  Using a mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes).  Add egg and beat for another minute. Add mashed bananas and beat for another minute.  Add remaining wet ingredients then start to add dry ingredients.  Beat until combined.

Fill lined cupcake pan with 1/4 cup of batter each (or until each cupcake slot is about 3/4 the way full).  Bake 15-18 minutes or until golden and cooked through.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool completely. This recipe will yield about 13-14 cupcakes.

Next make the frosting.  Beat together butter and chocolate hazelnut spread.  Gradually add powered sugar until it gets a thick spreadable consistency.  If it’s too thick, thin out with a bit of milk.  Spread frosting on cupcakes.  Top with sprinkles if you like, then serve!  (P.S. You can totally add more Chocolate Hazelnut spread to this frosting have it be even more flavorful, you just might have to adjust the powdered sugar amount.  I would have added more but I ran out of samples with my many fails).

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I’m definitely a fan of the chocolate-hazelnut + banana combo!  What’s your favorite thing to combine with chocolate-hazelnut spread? 

Thanks to Nocciolata for the samples!  Be sure to check them out.

Delicious Snickerdoodles

A few weeks ago, I realized I eat salads pretty much every day for lunch and for a minute that depressed me.  When you work in an office full of people who buy delicious smelling take-out everyday, eating a salad with some sort of protein, olive oil and lemon daily gets a bit depressing.  Really it’s all a question of comparison.

But then I remember all the reasons I eat salads: health, tastiness, cost-effectiveness and of course, vanity– salads keep me in shape.

But that got me thinking: if I were a “naturally thin” person would I eat out all the time? Would I still go to crossfit?

I posed this question to my friend and her response was “But you love salads! You ate them every single day in school.”

Umm yeah, no.  I’ve deluded myself (and led others) to believe that I love salad.  I like salads just fine, but I don’t love salad.  I love cookies. And pie.

But I make myself eat salad.  Because being an adult means doing things you don’t love in the name of health.  I don’t think that’s a bad thing.  So I eat a ton of vegetables and I go to crossfit.  I genuinely enjoy crossfit but I also genuinely enjoy my bed at 5:20am when my alarm goes off.

Vegetables and exercise are important.  But let’s also remember that women cannot live on vegetables alone (although I know many try).  Sometimes we just need a dang cookie.  So I have one for you today.

This isn’t my recipe, but it’s a recipe that is awesome so I have to share it with you. If you’re looking for an awesome snickerdoodle recipe, look no further.  I’ve got you covered.

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Delicious Snickerdoodles

adapted from All Recipes

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable shortening, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

Pre-heat oven to 400F. Cream together butter, shortening and 3/4 cup sugar.  Beat until fluffy.   Add egg and vanilla and beat another minute.  Add flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt and beat until just combined.  

On a plate, combine 2 tbsp sugar with cinnamon.  Roll dough into walnut sized balls and roll into cinnamon/sugar mixture. Repeat until you get 24 dough balls delicioussnickerdoodles2

Lay dough balls on a parchment paper lined baking sheet a few inches apart.  Bake 8-10 minutes.  Remove from baking sheets and allow to cool.  Serve and enjoy!  This will make about 2 dozen cookies.

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Remember that vegetables are healthy eats are super important in life, but there’s also room for cookies.  So don’t forget to have one of those occasionally too.

What’s your favorite kind of cookie?  I recently discovered this Molasses cookie with Apricot Chunks from Blackmarket Bakery that I’m in looooove with. I must try to recreate it soon.