Monthly Archives: October 2013

Chocolate Swirl Cookies

Chocolate Swirl Cookies were a happy accident (just like the original chocolate chip cookies). I happened to use melted butter as my oil that particular time, and I was in a hurry.  Well, my chocolate chip cookies didn’t turn out quite as planned, so when I went to the party that evening, I came with one batch of chocolate chip cookies and one batch of chocolate swirl cookies. The funny thing was, there were several people who liked my chocolate swirl cookies even more than my chocolate chip cookies!

The most important thing is that these cookies taste awesome. They’re also one of my go- to treats to bring to parties, because almost everyone can eat them. Gluten-free, paleo, dairy-free, vegan, on the specific carbohydrage diet – all these people can enjoy the cookies. The the people out there with a severe nut allergy, well, I’m sorry. Nothing will work for everyone.

Ingredients:

Here are the ingredients

Here are the ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups finely ground almond flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup or raw honey
  • 1/2 cup minus about half a tablespoon of oil (I typically use avocado oil)
  • 1 tablepoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix your almond flour, baking soda and sea salt. Set aside.

Almond flour, baking soda & salt

Almond flour, baking soda & salt

In a smaller bowl, or a measuring cup, mix your oil, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. I like to just use my 2-cup measuring cup, because that’s one less dish to wash afterwards. To make life a little easier, the oil will stay on top of the syrup, so you can take out your half tablespoon after they’re together. I’ve honestly never measured out the half tablespoon precisely; I eyeball it and they’ve come out perfectly. If you just use 1/2 cup even of the oil, the cookies will still be fine. I just find them a touch too oily for my taste.

Heat the oil, maple syrup & vanilla

Heat the oil, maple syrup & vanilla

The trick to making chocolate swirl cookies is that your oil and syrup mixture has to be hot when it gets mixed with the dry ingredients. I put the measuring cup in the microwave and heat for 10-20 seconds at a time until it’s hot. Measure our your chocolate chips and have them ready while the wet ingredients are heating up.

Pour your heated wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and quickly stir a bit. You can add the chocolate chips before the dough is completely formed. Add the chocolate chips and continue stirring. Shortly, you will see that the chocolate chips are starting to melt. Continue stirring until the ingredients are well combined and the dough seems swirly enough to you. It’s okay if there are still some chunks of chocolate that are not completely melted.

Mix in the dark chocolate chips

Mix in the dark chocolate chips

The chocolate melts as you stir, making swirls

The chocolate melts as you stir, making swirls

Using a tablespoon measure, scoop out some dough, form a ball in your hands, and press onto the parchment lined cookie sheets. Bake for about 13 minutes.

Notes: If you used honey instead of maple syrup as your sweetener, you may have to adjust the baking time down a little bit. If you undercook these by just a little, they’ll still taste great. Especially when they’re still warm out of the oven, you won’t even realize they’re undercooked. However, if you’re eating them later, you’ll fine that they’re too soft. Using my oven, baking them for 12 minutes was definitely not enough, but 13 minutes worked out perfectly. So if you’re not sure if they’re done or not, I would err on the side of giving them an extra minute.

Now, here’s the hardest part, in our household. Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheets. You can start eating them while they’re still warm.

Press the dough onto the cookie sheet

Press the dough onto the cookie sheet

Enjoy!

Fresh out of the oven!

Fresh out of the oven!

Enjoy!

Enjoy!

May I just say how hard it is to get a good picture of someone eating? Even with a subject as willing and photogenic as this one! (Granted, I’m a little biased about my Sweet Bee, but still.)  Here are some outtakes: IMG_2169IMG_2171IMG_2172IMG_2173

Spicy Pumpkin Cake

Having made pumpkin bars, I needed something else to do with pumpkin purée so it didn’t go to waste. I’m only up for one experiment at a time, so I made this tried and true pumpkin cake. It looks like a pumpkin bread, in a loaf pan, but it tastes like a cake. 🙂 I can’t claim too much credit for this one, as it is largely based off a recipe I found over at ComfyBelly. I just made a few tweaks here and there to make it more to my liking (such as doubling the amount of the spices).

So here is my version, “Spicy Pumpkin Cake”

Ingredients

Here are the assembled ingredients

Here are the assembled ingredients

  • 1 cup of pumpkin purée (fresh or canned)
  • 1 cup of maple syrup (or honey)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • optional: up to 1/2 cup of raisins, walnuts, or add-ins of your choice

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Grease your bread pan lightly with a little coconut oil or butter. Line the bottom of the bread pan with parchment paper.

Combine all the ingredients in the order listed into a large bowl and mix well, until thoroughly blended. Pour into the bread pan and use a spatula to spread it out and smooth out the top, if necessary.

Bake for about 60 minutes, until the outside is a very dark brown, and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

This little loaf cake doesn’t last too long at my house. I think I have mostly myself to blame for that…

Following is the illustrated guide. 😉 It helps to have a trusty assistant, like Sweet Bee, so you can take pictures.

All the wet ingredients together in a bowl

All the wet ingredients together in a bowl

Mix them togetherMix them together.[/caption]

Have a trusty assistant to stir for you, while you take pics.

Have a trusty assistant to stir for you, while you take pics.

Add in your flour, baking powder and baking soda

Add in your flour, baking powder and baking soda

We used raisins, at Sweet Bee's request. Stir in your add-ins last, if you're using them.

We used raisins, at Sweet Bee’s request. Stir in your add-ins last, if you’re using them.

Pour it into the bread pan and smooth it out.

Pour it into the bread pan and smooth it out.

How it looks coming out of the oven

How it looks coming out of the oven

Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

Pumpkin Bars 1.0

This was an experiment I did today. I had made some pumpkin cookies using almond butter recently, and I liked the flavor, but they just didn’t do it for me. The texture wasn’t right for a cookie. So I decided to see if I could alter the recipe to turn them into bars. This recipe is not intended to make a super sweet dessert. Skip the chocolate chips, and use dried cranberries or raisins, and I think you’ll have a nice, healthy breakfast bar. The chocolate chips just make it a little more decadent and turn it into a dessert.

It’s a couple days later, so I’ve had some time to ruminate about the bars, and eat several servings to confirm my opinion. 🙂 They’re delicious enough that I don’t see the need to make any changes to the recipe at this point. Besides myself, I’ve had four other taste testers, and everyone seems to like them.

Ingredients:

The ingredients

The ingredients

  • 1 cup creamy almond butter
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup (or you could use honey)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Either 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips or 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F and grease an 8 x 8 inch baking dish.

Combine all the ingredients except for chocolate chips in a medium bowl, mixing until a smooth thick batter is formed. Stir in the chocolate chips last.

Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Here are the wet ingredients: almond butter, pumpkin pure, egg

Here are the wet ingredients: almond butter, pumpkin pure, egg

The verdict: The texture is great, nice and moist. We like them – Sweet Bee asked for a second one. If you feel like giving them a try, please let me know what you think, and what changes you made, if any.

Mixed up with maple syrup

Mixed up with maple syrup

and some spices and baking soda

and some spices and baking soda

Some chocolate chips to appease the sweet tooth.
Some chocolate chips to appease the sweet tooth.

Put into 8x8 pan and spread around evenly

Put into 8×8 pan and spread around evenly

Finished baking

Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

Baking Powder

If you’re truly grain free, baking powder presents a bit of a problem. I haven’t yet found a commercial baking powder that doesn’t have corn starch in it. Now, maybe you’re eating a grain free diet, and you don’t care about the teeny tiny amount of corn starch in baking powder, when you’re using only a teaspoon of it in your entire recipe. If you do worry about that amount of grain, you might need to know how to make your own baking powder.

Homemade Baking Powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 grams) baking soda,
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar 
  • 1/4 teaspoon of starch, such as potato or tapioca starch 

Since homemade baking powder immediately releases its carbon dioxide gas when it is added and then moistened by the batter, it is important to bake the batter right away.

This recipe for baking powder comes from JoyofBaking.com, except that I changed the corn starch to a grain free starch. Thank you, JoyofBaking.com!

Quick & Easy Chili

Okay, so if you’ve read my introduction, or even just looked at the name of my blog, chili is probably not what you were expecting for the first real food entry. Consider it a practice entry . . . I needed some practice getting pictures of my food as I cook, writing about my cooking, and all that stuff. And I could write my entries for some yummy baked goodies, but I wouldn’t have any pictures to post yet. If you’re looking for the baked goodies, don’t worry, I have plans for some of those coming up too. (Think cookies, gingery pumpkin bread, and brownies.)

As much as I like baking, I still have to cook regular old dinners. Since I work full time, I like quick and easy. This chili is a nice one-pot meal, with protein, carbs, and veggies all right there; no need for a side dish. The thing that makes chili easy is that all the amounts listed are approximate. Don’t have exactly 16 oz. of the beans? That’s okay, as long as it’s kind of close. A little short on tomatoes? Throw in a little extra salsa to make up for it. This recipe is nothing fancy, but it’s a good hearty meal and requires very little prep time.

Assembled ingredients for quick & easy chili

Assembled ingredients for quick & easy chili

Quick & Easy Chili

  • 1 lb ground meat (I’ve used bison and turkey with good results)
  • 1/2 of a medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 16 oz pinto beans (drained & rinsed)
  • 16 oz kidney beans (drained & rinsed)
  • 28 oz chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 a red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 a jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • a little olive oil, for sauteing
Browning the meat, with garlic and onion

Browning the meat, with garlic and onion

In a large pot, over medium heat, saute your onion and garlic until the onion starts to get soft. Break apart your ground meat and put it in the pan to brown.

While the meat is browning, dice & mince your peppers, and drain and rinse your beans.

Add beans, tomatoes, peppers, chili powder, cumin and salsa. Cook until hot, and then let simmer for as long as you feel like, to let flavors mingle.

Pot of Quick & Easy Chili

Pot of Quick & Easy Chili

Here’s the finished product. If you don’t have much time to let it sit, it’s still good – but you’ll have even better leftovers. 🙂 If you like, top with shredded cheese or sour cream.

*A note on the ingredients: I hate BPA. I use Eden Organics because their can linings are BPA-free. My tomatoes are in a box, instead of the more typical can, for the same reason. Canned tomatoes have some of the highest concentration of BPA in them, because the acid in tomatoes leeches the BPA out of the can lining. If you can get tomatoes in a BPA-free box, as shown above, or in a glass jar, then you don’t have the bPA. Of course, you could also use fresh tomatoes and chop them all up yourself, but this recipe is supposed to be quick and easy!

Greetings & Introduction

Hi! Thanks for reading my first-ever blog post. This is where I’ll share my baking (and sometimes other food related) experiments, successes – and maybe some failures, recipes and pictures.

I always liked to bake. When I was a kid, I was always baking cookies, or experimenting with baking something. Then I grew up, fell in love and got married to a man with celiac disease. I stopped baking for awhile, and resorted to gluten free mixes when I wanted to make something. We had a child, my Sweet Bee, and she’s gluten free too. Then my husband made another switch – he stopped eating grains altogether. I really missed my baking, and plus I wanted my Bee to enjoy some of the goodies I’d always loved, especially when it was holiday time or birthday time. Then I discovered almond flour, coconut flour, and a book by Elana Amsterdam , and I was baking again! (If you’re looking for grain free recipes, check out her site, Elana’s Pantry.) Now I’m back to playing in the kitchen, making brownies, cookies, and all sorts of goodies.