Dairy free brownies

12 08 2013

I am on a dairy and soy free diet because Santiago has milk allergies, this has put me on the fast lane to weight loss, but also on a tight spot for indulging. Since we cook most everything from scratch it has been not too hard to come up with ways to replace dairy, but the lack of milk in my baked goods has made them somewhat dry and not as rich and unctuous, not so satisfying. That is until I decided I wanted brownies for my husband’s birthday, and since I do not have a lot of time or patience lately, I decided for a very simple recipe. My recipe uses coconut oil, whole wheat and, as usual, less sugar than regular recipes.

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You will need:
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/3 cup whole wheat flour

Preheat oven to 325°. Line an 8×8″ baking dish with foil. Coat foil with nonstick spray.
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Whisk coconut oil, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium bowl to combine. Whisk in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition. Add flour and stir until combined. Scrape batter into prepared pan; smooth top.
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Bake until top begins to crack and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 25-30 minutes.
These were very thick and chocolatey. If you use whole wheat flour you will get a drier end product than your usual brownie, so if you want it more fudgey bake for a little less time.
We loved them! I baked two sets to share, but never got to! Ignacio just devoured them in no time!
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Halloween Pumpkin Muffins

25 10 2012

Ignacio is teething (again!), this time is molars, which are more painful than any other teeth. This makes feeding time a problem. Doctors say that teething does not affect appetite, and they might be right, but the discomfort in his mouth makes him not want to eat, so then he is hungry, he becomes crabby, does not want to go to sleep, etc. To short circuit this cycle, I try to find ways of tempting him to eat, these include softer foods and sweets. But hey, I am of those moms that don’t want to just give anything sweet to the baby and load him with sugar, I try my best to offer nutritive options and put fruits and vegetables in my baked goods. This is how I cam up with these Halloween Pumpkin Muffins (plus my husband got me a set of lovely cupcake liners and I really wanted to use them!)

Ingredients:

These pumpkin muffins look so festive in the Halloween liners!

2 cups oats

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 c brown sugar

1 c pumpkin puree

1/4 c molasses

1 egg

1 c milk

1/2 c vegetable oil

Spices (suggested: cinnamon, ground cloves, ginger, all spice, coriander)

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Preheat the oven at 400F. Mix all the dry ingredients. Mix the wet ingredients and incorporate the dry ingredients mixing well. You will have a thick mixture. Remember that all flours are different and have different absorption, so play with the moisture you want by adding more milk. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out clean.

I like these muffins. They are mildly sweet, which I like, and thick in consistence. I wanted them to be loaded with nutrition, so I used a thicker lumpier batter, and I used whole wheat flour and oats, feel free to substitute for all white if you want. Also, as a decorative accent I garnished the tops with oats and brown sugar before putting in the oven.
I got 21 muffins out of this, I wanted to share with some friends, so I made a specially large batch. Remember, if you do like me, that I put the second batch in after the first one was out of the oven, your batter will be denser.

I hope you enjoy them!!





Avocado cake: two recipes that you will love!

22 10 2012

I know, everybody goes “Avocado cake!!?” And I don’t blame you, we relate avocados with Mexican food, as if it was the only way of using them. Growing up we ate them with mayonnaise or salsa golf (whatever the name for it is in US) and later, when I moved out, because I don’t really like mayonnaise I would just eat them plain or with salt and olive oil, make salads of different types, or mush them for guacamole. But I remember my dad always telling me that his dad used to eat them with sugar… and why not? If you think of it, avocado flavor can be defined as “buttery” but it is not definitely salty nor sweet. So I have been wanting to try it for a while, and since the awesome Bryan Street Market a few blocks from home has avocado sales regularly this time of the year, I thought I’d take advantage and buy a few avocados to try to make a cake.

What was my surprise to see that there are many options to make an avocado cake! So I just made one avocado pound like cake, and one chocolate avocado cake.

Chocolate Avocado cake with tropical avocado frosting.

The chocolate cake I got straight from Joy the Baker, it’s a vegan recipe, and that was a plus, because I’ve always wanted to know how vegans get the cake to work without eggs or anything animal. I followed the recipe as is, except that I reduced the sugar to half (only using one cup) because I figured that the frosting was going to make up for a lot of the sweetness. For the frosting I made my own recipe as follows:

Avocado frosting:

1 mashed avocado

2 cups confectionery sugar

3 teaspoons coconut milk

1 teaspoon orange blossom extract

The cake came out fluffy and moist, very palatable and the avocado flavor is very subtle, it is a light cake that does not feel heavy at all. The frosting has a very interesting flavor that I find complements the cake very well. My husband, who is very much not vegan or vegetarian, really liked this cake, as well as my toddler who does not like avocado. It’s a hit for sure!

The second recipe is also from Joy the Baker, though I modified it to my less rich taste. You can see the original recipe here. At home we like things less sweet than average and I use less butter than most, plus we really like whole grains and use white flour just for fluff. My recipe for one cake (not two) is as follows:

Avocado pound cake:

1.5 c whole wheat flour

Avocado pound cake. Very interesting texture indeed!

1/4 c white flour

1/4 c corn meal

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

4 tbsp butter

0.75 c sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 c milk

1 ripe mashed avocado

Preheat the oven at 350F.

Mix the dry ingredients, except the sugar.

Cream the butter and sugar, add the mashed avocado and mix until uniform. Add one egg at a time, mixing well. Incorporate the dry ingredients. The mixture will be lumpy.

Bake at 350F for 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out dry.

My thoughts on this cake: It is good and sweet as it is, I really like the unctuous feel of the avocado and how it contrasts with the rough texture of the whole wheat flour and the crunch of the corn meal. You do feel the avocado flavor but it is very different from eating it fresh, and my baby (who does not like avocado, remember?) kept asking for more. The cake disappeared faster than what I expected! In retrospect I would probably eliminate all the butter, the avocado itself is oily enough, and I think I would enjoy it better with some vegetable oil instead, for a lighter cake.

OK, here you have the recipes you asked me for with so much interest! I hope you can make them at home and have fun with them! Surprise your friends and family and enjoy them! And you know, if you do try them, let me know, I always like to know what results other people get!





Celebrating a new citizen.

1 10 2012

One of our friends from Germany got her American citizenship last week, and to honor her we wanted to have her over to dinner. Obtaining your US citizenship is harder than what most people think (“You are a citizen now, right? You married and American!” “You’ve been living here for such a long time, you must be a citizen!”), and it is the only way you can vote, which is what she wanted most. Because it is such a lengthy, time consuming and expensive process, I wanted to make a special dinner for her, and I decided on roast and potatoes, black bread and All American cupcakes (I just made that up).

For the roast I simply marinated the meat with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and thyme. For the potatoes I marinated them with olive oil, salt, thyme and curry. Then cooked everything in the oven.

For the bread I followed this recipe by 101 cookbooks, which is really good and very recommendable. It is time consuming and quite involved, but it is totally worth it. I was not quite sure about the carrots, but the truth is that you do not feel the flavor (with the bread being so flavorful!) and they keep the moisture of the bread for days. The cocoa and the coffee make it very interesting, and I find that the flavors are more intense as the days go by, not that it lasts very long, it is so good that we just attack it!

Black bread.

Now, the cupcakes.

I started by staining the paper cups to get them more festive, I did not have time to go to the store to get special ones, so I only had white paper cups. I had seen this cute idea in Little Wren’s blog so I decided to try it. It is quite a simple method, just dilute some food coloring in water and then let dry. I went for blue and red rims.

Coloring cupcake cups

While the cups were drying I prepared my cupcakes. I found an easy recipe and modified it to our less sugary taste. I halved the sugar and the butter, compensating with apple sauce here it goes:

2 3/4 c all purpose white flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 c butter, softened

1 c sugar

1/2 c applesauce

4 eggs

1 c milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

Red food coloring

Blue food coloring

Cream cheese

Red and blue sprinkles

Cream the butter and sugar, add the eggs and applesauce, milk, vanilla extract and mix thoroughly. Then add the rest of the dry ingredients. Once you have the batter unified, separate in three portions (I chose to have less red, but that is up to you) and add the food coloring.

Preheat the oven. Line your cupcake tray with the paper cups you prepared earlier and add one layer of blue batter, one layer of white batter and one layer of red batter, up to 3/4 of the cup.  Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes. Once they are cold, cover the surface with cream cheese and sprinkle with your decoration. Keep in air tight container until it is time to serve.

All American cupcakes.

The applesauce adds sweetness and moisture making the lessening of sugar and butter viable. They were moist and fluffy, and the yield was about 16 cupcakes. They look really pretty, but in retrospect I should probably have held on the vanilla extract to keep the white whiter. I didn’t use any of my usual whole grains because I wanted them to be white, and that made them a little blander than what I am used to, but everybody loved them and the look was a win. I also think I would use a larger red layer and only red rimmed cups, since the blue color from the batter shows really well through the cup paper.

Have you ever made colored cupcakes? How did they come up? Do you have any nice recipe to share?





Superfood snacks: review and giveaway

6 01 2012

I am so spoiled… Blogging about one of the things I feel passionate about is wonderful for many reasons: I enjoy doing this, I get to communicate my ideas, I get to know like-minded people, and I get to receive great products to review! Sometimes I am lucky enough that I get to review them and have a giveaway to share the goodness with other people, how awesome is that!?

Sunrise in Hanamaulu beach, near to Lihu'e, where Superfood Snacks is based.

One of the products I got to review over the holidays was Brazilian Chocolate Ecstasy energy nuggets by Superfood Snacks.

The Company:

Superfood Snacks is a company from Kawai’i, Hawai’i, which is like paradise on Earth, in case you didn’t know. Superfood snacks are no regular snacks, they are made with high quality raw super foods that are fairly traded, meant to give you energy! Kawai’i is a great place for adventure tourism, and this influences the spirit of the company, these nuggets are meant to load you with energy so you can keep going and enjoying the great outdoors (I wish I would have known of them when I went on my honeymoon!).

They are passionate about the environment too, and it could not be otherwise coming from the Garden Island, they are pioneers in using raw chocolate and also in generating a 100% recycled, colorful printed package that is biodegradable and compostable in about 180 days!  But wait, there’s more! Their printing methods are also super environmentally friendly!  And did I mention that 1% of their sales is destined to environmental projects? I am so impressed with them for trying so hard to do the right thing!

Can you see the colors of the sunrise in the biodegradable packaging?

My impressions:

I got a pack of Brazilian Chocolate Ecstasy. These packs bring six morsels, at 110 cal per two morsels. They are made of raw cocoa (dried in the sun, the original way!) and have agave nectar, mangoes and other tropical fruits, Brazil and other nuts, sea salt, cinnamon and vanilla powder among other awesome ingredients full of antioxidants.

These are chewy and soft, pleasantly moist and not too sweet, which is refreshing. The slightly acidic flavor reminded me of the berries and mangoes contained in the nuggets, and the small but distinctive pieces of fruit and nuts gave the morsels a nice crunch. I really liked the nice and balanced aftertaste.

My dad and my husband really liked them too! Which is great, since sometimes men and women differ in their taste for all organic, raw food 🙂 also, they are in opposite sides of the work out spectrum, my husband being a fit guy who loves to run and lift weights and my dad being happier sitting in the sofa with a good novel and a coffee. My dad only wishes that the morsels were smaller, but I didn’t mind the size,  just bit through them instead of popping them in my mouth being whole.

Brazilian Chocolate Ecstasy. Yumm!!

The giveaway:

Superfood Snacks and I want to share the goodness! And they will send two (2) bags of Brazilian Chocolate Ecstasy to a lucky winner! So, if you are a raw food lover, a vegan, or just someone who would love to try these unique snacks, head over to Facebook and enter the Rafflecopter!

Waimea Canyon. Kawai'i has everything you can dream of for the adventurous type.

... and also chickens.





Celebrating March: Mardi Gras Meringues, or perhaps St. Patrick’s, and Easter too!

8 03 2011

Each year, my husband’s coworkers throw a Mardi Gras potluck. Since I am a like satellite of his working break room, passing by a couple of times a week for lunch, I usually contribute to the foodism. This year I decided to make meringues, and since it is a Mardi Gras thing I threw in some colors to fit the occasion.

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For the meringue You will need:

2 egg whites at room temperature

Mardi Gras Meringue (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus

 

 

1/2 cup sugar

pinch of salt

pinch of tartar cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

food coloring.

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For the filling:

Whipped cream and dulce de leche (similar to a caramel spread, but better!)

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Separate the egg whites and let them sit for some minutes until they reach room temperature. Start whisking with a fork and once they get foamy you can pass to the electric mixer. Add the salt and tartar cream and keep beating. Once the whites start to mount add the sugar slowly, if you do not wait until the whites are mounting they will become creamy but never stiff enough. Add the vanilla extract and beat until the whites form firm peaks.

Separate the whites in three equal parts, placing them in three different bowls. Add food coloring to each of them. You will need yellow, green (blue+yellow) and purple (blue+red). Mix until well integrated.

Place aluminium foil on a cookie sheet with the shiny side up. With a desert spoon scoop a spoonful of colored whites and place them on the aluminium foil. Bake at 200F (90C very low oven) for 2 hours. Turn the oven off and let them cool in the oven one hour. You can prop the door open with a wooden spoon.

Once they are dry and cool you can take two pieces and paste them together with whipped cream or dulce de leche. Place in an air tight container and enjoy!

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Looking at the photo, they look more like an Easter/Spring celebration thing, but egg whites tend to turn everything to pastels and I was afraid of adding too much coloring and starting to feel the flavor of it.

You can modify the colors to have a St. Patrick’s desert (green meringue and gold cream), spring or Easter (add also blues and pinks), or anything you fancy!





Recipes: Pumpkin muffins

24 11 2010

Just in time for Thanksgiving! You want to impress your family? Then bring them these easy to make, delicious yet healthy muffins! They are really good for you with oatmeal and pumpkin in them and they are very, very tasty.

stock provided by rammkitty-stock

You will need:

-1 cup of oatmeal

-1 cup multipurpose flour

-1/2 teaspoon salt

-1 teaspoon baking soda

– spices: cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, whatever you fancy.

-1/2 cup sugar

-1/4 cup vegetable oil

-2 eggs

-3/4 cup milk

-1 cup pumpkin

I make my own pumpkin, but I guess you can use canned pumpkin just fine. If you are going all for scratch, cut your pumpkin in medium size pieces and take the guts out, put them in the microwave for 30 minutes or in the oven for one hour. Once the pumpkin is tender let it cool down and pass the flesh through a strainer with a spoon or use a blender. This will make the puree really smooth.

Mix all your dry ingredients and then add the wet ingredients to that mix. Grease a muffin pan and bake at 400 F for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

If you feel like, toast the seeds and add them to the top of the muffins before baking. Another good option is to throw in 1/4 cup of chocolate chips, they go wonderfully together!