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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Tofu Pineaple stir fry

22 01 2013

I am the kind of cook that opens the fridge and sees “what’s there to be used” instead of carefully planning my meals. And this is what happens when I have some left overs that need to be used (aka: for some strange reason the pineapple was getting sad in the back of the fridge!):

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Firm, organic tofu, deliciously golden in sesame oil!

You will need:

1 block Tofu

1 medium onion

4 large sprigs celery

2 medium carrots

1 pint mushrooms

1 red bell pepper

2 cups diced pineapple

Sesame oil

French tarragon

Thyme

.

Preparation:

Cut your veggies in medium sized slices.

Cut the tofu in medium sized rectangles and fry until golden in a pan with sesame oil.

In another pan fry the vegetables, starting with the onions, finishing with the mushrooms. Once you have your veggies tender but not mushy, add the tofu, pineapple and spices. Mix well and cook together for five minutes so the flavors integrate.

Serve with rice.

I like fusion cooking, mixing spices that are not traditionally found in Asian cuisine can give a surprising flare to a stir fry. This recipe came out so good that  even my husband, who does not really like tofu, praised it. It makes for a delicious treat and the pineapple goes wonderfully well with tarragon and thyme!

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Add unexpected spices as tarragon and thyme to enhance the flavor of pineapple!





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)

.

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!





Recipes: Okra Minestrone

13 08 2012

I went to the East Liberty farmer’s market to show my dad how many stands they have and the variety, and in the Blue Bird Organic Farm stand they had okra! My husband is from Louisiana, so I could not go home without some! Half of it I fried, which was delicious! And the other half I used to make a minestrone soup. The secret of this soup is the okra, it will give it a unique flavor, bur you have to make sure to denature all the slime. Let me pass you the recipe:

Okra- half a pint. Sliced thinly

Carrot- one medium

Celery- four stalks

Onion- one medium

Zucchini- one medium

Cooked red beans- two cups

Penne whole wheat pasta- Two cups dried

Chicken or vegetable broth- one cube

Spices- salt, pepper, two bay leaves, oregano, thyme, curry

Water.

Garlic- optional

.

First cook the beans in just water, or use a can of sugar free unsalted beans. Slice your vegetables, and reserve.

In a large pot add some olive oil and saute the onions and garlic, add the carrots and celery and let them cook until slightly tender. Add three cups of water and let it come to a boil, add the broth cube. Then add the okra and zucchini. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. The okra will release a lot of gooey slime and you will have to cook for a long time, about one hour, for it to break down. Once the soup stops looking sticky and gooey add the spices, then add two more cups of water up to six cups, add dry noodles and let them cook in the tasty broth you’ve just made. Two minutes before your pasta is done add the beans so the warm up.

Serves six.

Voila! You have a unique and delicious minestrone! Serve hot and enjoy!

Okra minestrone.





Being an artist in the kitchen: Vitreaux potato chips

14 02 2011

As you might have already gathered from this blog, I absolutely love to cook. And browsing the internet the other day I found this very attractive recipe. I decided to prepare it for my hubby for V day but it didn’t work out. In the first place I had a really hard time getting those super thin slices, I did slice my fingers too! And then the potatoes got burnt when I followed their directions… so of course I had to modify the recipe and make it my own 🙂

Ingredients:

– 2 Potatoes (I used red skin, but you can use whatever you rather to bake)

Vitreaux potato chips. Good looking and delicious!

– Herb leafs or sprigs (anything you’d like, I used rosemary and sage because that is what I had)

– Olive oil

– Salt

– Oil spray

Preparation:

Slice the potatoes super thin with a sharp knife. Two to three millimeters would be ideal, but slice them as thin as you can. Press the juices out with a paper towel and let sit for 5 minutes.

Place aluminium foil on a baking pan or cookie sheet, leaving half of it out of the tray, and spray oil on it. Then place the potato slices on the foil.

“Paint” the potatoes with olive oil and place a leaf or sprig of any herb you choose on top of it, then plaint again, covering the leaf too. Sprinkle salt on top.

Fold the foil covering the slices and place another cooking tray or cookie sheet on top, add some weight, you can use a baking bowl.

Place in the oven at 400F for 15 minutes. Retire from the oven and carefully remove the foil. If any slice is still soft and white-ish place in the oven for 5 more minutes until golden and crispy.

Prop your potatoes on a plate, you will need something to keep the potatoes up so you can display your pretty art! You could use rice grains, coffee beans, large salt crystals, anything that tickles your fancy!

I hope you enjoyed this beautiful yet simple recipe! Flavor wise, my favourite so far is rosemary, which is yours?





Adventures in the kitchen: Barley stir fry

10 02 2011

My husband knows that I am a very adventurous gal (in the kitchen!) and since he is awesome he brought home a bag of barley for us to try. Barley is amazingly healthy for you! It’s great against cholesterol, has a lot of fiber, iron, calcium and selenium! I had never eaten barley so I did not know much what to do with it. First thing I did was to just boil it as per instructions in the package and try it as it was, plain, just boiled, to have an idea of the flavor I was going to be working with. If I had to give you an idea (and I will be unfair to the real flavor) it tastes like a mix between rice and oatmeal, with strong nutty underflavors. So once I had tried it, I knew what I wanted to do with it.

 

Barley stir fry:

2 cups Boiled barley

Barley stock by tasastock.deviantart.com

1 medium onion

1 carrot

1 cup cooked corn kernels

2 cups cooked broccoli florets

2 cups cooked cut green beans

2 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp rice vinegar

spices: salt, pepper, ground ginger, curry, saffron, ground coriander

In a pot boil the barley for one hour before hand. Use plenty of water and keep in mind that barley expands to about 4 times it’s dry size. You might want to determine how soft you like it. I, myself, like an ‘al dente’ consistency, but my husband likes his starches soft, so I cooked for about one hour and left it cool down in its own water so it would soak up more water and become mushier.

Once the barley is done chop your vegetables and keep them at hand.

In a deep pot warm up two tablespoons of sesame oil and blanch your onions, add the carrot and cook until tender, add the rest of the vegetables and mix them well. Add some more sesame oil if it is too dry and you would like a stronger flavor.

Add the rice vinegar and the spices, mix and let the flavors blend together.

Lastly, add the boiled barley, mix thoroughly, add some more salt if needed.

Once your barley is warm, food is ready!

 

This is a delicious dish, very healthy and veggies lovers friendly. The saffron adds a unique touch to a mainly Asian flavored dish. Try it and let me know what you think!