Tag Archives: Recipe

Curried Pumpkin-Cauliflower Soup

 

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That’s right. Another pumpkin recipe. But it’s only September, and with our first real cold front coming through tomorrow, I believe it’s high time for soup to hit the household menu.

Soups are perhaps my favorite cool-weather food to prepare. They’re incredibly simple, and they’re a fantastic way to consume a variety of vegetables without having to force another forkful of cold, bitter greens into your mouth. Pumpkin, in particular, as well as plenty of other winter squashes, bring a particular savory sweetness to this soup that plays against the tingly warmth of the curry spices. The coconut milk and  cauliflower, being a common ingredients in Indian fare, tie the flavors all together with velvety richness.

 

Curried Pumpkin-Cauliflower Soup
{paleo, gluten free, vegan-optional}

2 tbsp ghee, butter, or coconut oil
1 large onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated (about a thumb-sized knob)
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp salt
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
4 cups cauliflower florets
1-14 oz can pumpkin puree (about 2 cups)
1-14 oz can full-fat coconut milk (about 2 cups)

In a large saucepan, melt the ghee, butter, or coconut oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until mostly translucent. Add the garlic, ginger, garam masala, cumin, coriander and salt, and stir for a minute or two until highly fragrant.

Add the stock, cauliflower, and pumpkin puree. Bring to a boil, then lower to a steady simmer, and cook until cauliflower is soft and easily pierced with a fork.

Remove from heat, add the coconut milk. Puree the soup using an immersion blender, or by (carefully!) blending in batches in either a blender or a food processor.

 

Soft Molasses Spice Cookies

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One of the great things about cooking and baking is that there is a limitless combination of ingredients I can use to create something delicious. I particular enjoy trying out new ingredients and using them in simple applications. My most recently ventures haven’t been yet posted on this blog. I’m not sure yet if I’m ready to share chili made with beef heart and enchiladas made with chicken liver!

In time, perhaps, but for now, I will share with you these cookies, made with a lovely grain from Ethiopia that does not oft get attention, except in certain gluten free circles. The grain is called teff, and its most authentic use is in the Ethiopian fermented flatbread called injera. It’s a very small grain, and it seems to melt into the items it is baked in. The silky flour has a mysterious, dark flavor that pairs perfectly with molasses and spice, which inspired this lightly-sweetened, warm holiday cookie.

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Soft Molasses Spice Cookies, Gluten Free
Adapted from Primal Palate
Makes about 15 cookies

1 cup (105 g) blanched almond meal/flour
3/4 cup  (95g) teff flour
1/4 cup (25 g) arrowroot flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
2 tbsp maple syrup 
1 tsp vanilla
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine all the dry ingredients, except for powdered sugar.

In a mixing bowl, combine all the wet ingredients and mix until smooth. Then add in the dry ingredients and mix until well combined. The dough will seems a bit like a soft taffy.

Pour some powdered sugar into a small bowl. Roll some dough into a 1/2 oz ball and toss in powdered sugar, covering the entire ball. Dust off excess powdered sugar and place on a greased or lined cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, leaving at least an inch of space between each cookie.

Bake 15 minutes.

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This post is in contribution to the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats, hosted by Meal Planning Magic. Check out all these other great blogs!

Making Friends out of Former Enemies

 

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Have you ever hated a certain food only to find you like it later? That’s been my case with things like mushrooms, raw tomatoes, and red wine.

I really feel that in order to say you don’t like something, you must try it in a variety of different preparations and flavor combinations before making a judgment. This has led me to conclusions that I just don’t like raw broccoli, but I loved it steamed, roasted or grilled! I love fresh mushrooms sauteed in butter, but not served out of a can. I like cucumber in gazpacho, but not chopped up in a salad or in tabbouleh. Or celery diced fine and stewed slowly in soup or dressing, but never, ever served raw!

Which leads me to this recipe I found in my most recent issue of Z-Life (a magazine I receive as a member of the Zumba Instructor Network).

Beet and Apple Salad.

First, I will share with you my first former enemy.

Beets.

Omg.

I have tried so many times to love beets. But every time it just tastes like I’m eating dirt. Red beets, golden beets, roasted, pickled (ew), doesn’t matter. Dirt.

But every time I prepare them I find I sort of like them even more. I can’t say that I love them, but they have found a place in my life. I will continue to prepare them in different ways and find, every time, that I like them a little more. This recipe is one of those that makes me like beets even more. Perhaps one day I’ll be a beet-a-holic?! That will be the day I make borscht.

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Beet and Apple Salad with Creamy Ginger Vinaigrette
Adapted from Z-Life
Serves 2-4

3 small beets (I used golden)
Oregano
1 apple (I used fuji. Ignore the fact that there are two apples in the pic. Unless you want more apple—then go for it!)
1/4 cup shelled pistachios
Creamy Ginger Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

 

First, peel the beets. I used a paring knife, and because I used golden beet instead of red, I didn’t look like a murder victim from CSI. But if red suits you, go for it.

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Then, slice the beets into half-moon slices. Wrap up in parchment paper (I used this method) with a sprinkle of oregano and roast for 20-30 minutes or until tender (I just shove a toothpick through the parchment and gauge the texture from there).

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Very quickly dump the beets into a bowl of water and ice and leave there for about 30 seconds. Some people call this “shocking” and it’s typically used to halt cooking and preventing green things from turning brown. I did it because I wanted my beets chilled when I mixed them with the apples. If you want warm beets with cool apples, omit this “shocking” step (hurr hurr).

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Slice apple into thin half-moon-ish slices. I use this manner of slicing.

Mix beets with apples. Then gently mix in the pistachios and the dressing. Serve and enjoy!

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This brings us to the second previously-hated item.

Mustard.

I have for many years proclaimed my disdain for mustard. My friends and I even have a year-long joke currently running where they will hide small packets of mustard in our house after we made the proclamation last year that we “are not a mustard family.” My disfavor came from the awful stench of mustard and the radioactive yellow shade of the French’s style I was exposed to growing up. However, to be frank, I’d never actually eaten it. But lately as I was reading over the ingredients on the bottle of my favorite store-bought dressing (Brianna’s Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette), I realized that what made this dressing “creamy” and gave it a certain depth of flavor that couldn’t be found in regular oil + vinegar concoctions was the mustard. After doing much soul-searching, I bought a small bottle of Grey Poupon and vowed to start with baby steps. And that first baby step, this dressing, is a major success!

Creamy Ginger Vinaigrette

1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp ground ginger (I used World Market brand, which amazingly tastes exactly like a real root of ginger! Not many powdered varieties capture that sweet-spicy-citrusy taste)
salt + pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small jar or bowl and whisk well.

 

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Are there any foods you hated growing up that you now love?

Chai Cupcakes

I consider cooking and baking to be something of an art. Naturally, I am often asked why I got an art degree and what am I doing with it now (or why I’m “not using my degree”). I tell them exactly what happened. In my second-to-last semester of college I essentially discovered my love of cooking and baking. I found it to be a creative outlet in a very practical form (and I am a very practical person. Win-win!). What am I doing with my degree now?

I write, design, and photograph for this blog, for one.

I also experiment with things like… gluten free chai cupcakes.

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Part of being an artist involves being resourceful. Know what is available to you and turn what you have into something beautiful. A sculptor may not have access to the finest marble, but he may have clay, an old cookie jar, and some branches. Instead of bemoaning how he can’t use marble, the artist will turn what he has into something that, in the end, perfectly fits the ingredients of which it is made. One who views the sculpture would never know that what is displayed before them was anything other than the artist’s perfect, initial intention.

But that is never the case, is it? I started off drawing and painting in photorealism. What I created had to look EXACTLY like the original. But one thing that school, and time, taught me is that sometimes it is better to loosen the grip and allow the creative flow to take over. Now when I create, I don’t have exacting expectations of how my project will turn out. I instead take an idea, set it in motion, and see where it leads me.

During my elimination diet several months ago, I did my fair share of whining about my restrictive diet. But eventually I realized that it was far healthier (and tastier) to see this “obstacle” as more of a challenge. I began learning the complexity of gluten-free baking. I’d already become well-seasoned in conventional, low-calorie, and vegan baking, and I decided to use my diet change as an excuse to broaden my culinary horizons, if you will. A new frontier. I picked up my whisk and began to play.

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Very quickly I noticed how tricky gluten free baking could be. I also learned how overly-complicated many gluten-free recipes are. In my quest toward “real food” eating, how could I justify ingredients such as gums and pure starches making permanent residence in my baking pantry? I understand their place, and I have them sitting in my pantry right now, but these ingredients are not cheap, nutritious, or very easily accessible. But for some reason, every gluten free recipe I found seemed to rely on them. Since “gluten-free” is a big part of my current diet vocabulary, it can be understood why I would have such ingredients on hand. And they do come in handy! But then I had a realization. What about those who wish to bake for their gluten free friends and family? Is it fair to expect them to spend $50 on a cart-load of gluten free flours, starches, and gums just to have on hand when their gluten-free guest visits? How can I make gluten free baked goods simple, effective, accessible, and delicious? How can I relieve the anxiety surrounding gluten free baking? How can I make gluten free baking as fun and seemingly effortless as conventional baking?

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Well, I’m not there yet. There is still much to learn, and I’m by no means an expert. But I’m experimenting and discovering along the way what happens when you mix two or three colors, or ingredients, together.

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Chai Cupcakes
Adapted from Alton Brown’s Chiffon Cupcakes

I spent many an hour trying out recipes, adjusting ingredients, baking disasters, eating rogue unfrosted cakes, researching baking science, running out of ingredients, running to the store for more ingredients, trying, failing, trailing, flying (what?), and eventually…success on the fifth attempt. Through it all I found that yes, it is possible to get a moist, delicate yet structured, cupcake, sans gluten, gums, pure starches, or other strange texturizers. But it’s also not necessarily fool-proof or forgiving. After my third try, I finally secured my ideal pastry flour ratio (2:2:1 sorghum/brown rice/flaxseed) and decided that a recipe with whipped egg whites folded in for structure would be ideal.

I made it my personal mission not to give you cupcakes that were good for being gluten free. I didn’t want to show you cupcakes that were too dense, too gummy, too crusty, too cratered, too loose, etc. etc. and try to cover up the mess with frosting and say, “oh well. they’re gluten free.” No. Gluten or no gluten. These are some dang good cupcakes.

  • 5 1/4 ounces gluten free whole grain pastry flour*
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp chai spice mix **
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 6 ounces brown sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

*Gluten Free Pastry Flour—It’s a 2/2/1 ratio of sorghum flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill Sweet White Sorghum Flour)/brown rice flour (Arrowhead Mills)/ground flaxseed (Arrowhead Mills, ground at home), measured by weight.

**6 parts cinnamon, 6 parts cardamom, 2 parts ginger, 1 part cloves, 1 part nutmeg

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, salt, and chai spice mix.

Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the egg yolks together with 5 ounces of the flour for several minutes until creamy and smooth. Then add the water, coconut oil, and vanilla. Mix until well blended. Then slowly add the flour mixture, beating well as you add in the dry ingredients.

In a separate bowl (this is where having both a stand mixer and a hand mixer come in handy), whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar into a frenzy. When foamy, add the last 1 oz of brown sugar and mix until firm peaks form.

Gently fold the egg white foam into the rest of the batter in three parts, being careful not to overmix and destroy the air bubbles in the egg white foam.

Portion out into muffins tins, filling most the way full (since most the structure comes from the egg white foam, they really won’t rise much). Or you could use greased mugs! Your choice.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

For frosting, I tried several different options.

I initially tried this recipe for chai buttercream, but I honestly found it too heavy and cloyingly sweet for such a subtle cupcake.

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Personally, I found that I preferred a simple whipped cream adornment with just a sprinkle of leftover chai spice on top. It seems to harken more the idea of a chai latte, don’t you think?

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I hope you enjoyed this week’s installment of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies & Sweets. See you again next week!

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Orange-Cranberry Scones, Gluten-Free!

Welcome to this week’s edition of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies & Sweets!

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I started this week with an idea of making a cranberry-pear tart. Which I attempted. And while it was good, it wasn’t… finished. But then I woke up yesterday morning no longer inspired by a tart. Instead, I wanted to make muffins! No. Muffins are too breakfast-y. Scones? Yes! Scones! Yes, they are a breakfast food, but they also double as a sweet treat, especially drizzled in sweet vanilla icing! In fact, you can serve these for Christmas morning for your extended family, AND make some for a Christmas potluck!

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I love the combination of cranberry and orange. Sweet, tart, citrusy, fresh, and fruity. Perfect for the holidays!

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Gluten Free Orange-Cranberry Scones
Adapted from All Recipes

400 grams (roughly four cups) gluten-free flour mixture of your choice (I use a 2:2:1—by weight—ratio of GF oats, brown rice, and flaxseed flours)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, chilled and diced
1 cup fresh cranberries, roughly chopped
1 grated zest of one orange
1/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup orange juice
1 egg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

In a large bowl combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg and salt with a whisk. Using a fork or pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour mixture until you achieve a fine meal throughout. Stir in the chopped cranberries and orange zest.

In a separate, small bowl, mix together the half-and-half, orange jusice, and egg until well mixed.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until well combined.

Dollop the batter into to two circular mounds on a greased sheet pan. Using a wet knife, “cut” the batter into wedges.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and firm.

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Serve with orange juice or a nice steaming mug of coffee! Smile

Aztec Brownies

Living in Texas, Christmas often makes me think of…Mexican food. Yep. Not ham. Not green bean casserole. Not sweet potato pie. Mexican food.

Growing up it was not unusual to go to a Christmas party and be served tamales. I know many people who opt for a Mexican feast on Christmas day, rather than ham, dressing, and all the fixin’s. And no, these people are not of hispanic descent!

It’s a regional thing. Mexican cuisine is a major contributor to the overall Texan culture. And this love of comforting Southwestern cuisine is what led me to Kakawa, an artisan chocolate house, this past August in Santa Fe. And while I was there I tasted and was entranced by the “Aztec Brownie,” which is a gluten free variety that included spices, chilies, and a combination of authentic Mesoamerican flours. I thought the combination of whole food ingredients they used was very creative and inspired me to make a variety of mine own!

Well let me tell you, there is something of a trick to making something really good with a just a few quality ingredients. Technique is key. And technique is the reason I’m posting this week’s 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies & Sweets edition so late. I kept failing on this! Then I realized it was my technique that was all wrong. So several trials, tribulations, and trips to the grocery store later, I finally have a really amazing recipe for you all.

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What you get from this recipe is a dense, fudge-like, rich brownie that isn’t too ridiculously sweet, but leaves you with a lingering tickle of chile and spice on your tongue. No, it is not “hot” and it is gentle on even sensitive palettes. The combination of spice and heat work very well mixed with this deep chocolate. Just try it!

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Aztec Brownie
Inspired by Kakawa

Makes 8-12 brownies

4 ounces butter
8 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
8 ounces agave nectar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 ounces almond milk
1.5 ounces almond meal/flour *
1 ounce blue corn meal
1/2 ounce quinoa flour **
1/2 ounce millet flour ***
1/2 ounce amaranth flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground ancho chile powder ****
1/2 tsp ground arbol chile powder
4 tbsp cocoa nibs, divided (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

In a double-broiler (or a glass bowl sitting on top of a pot of simmering water), melt butter over medium heat. Once melted (don’t rush this), add the chocolate pieces and stir until just melted. Do NOT turn up the heat. Allow it to take as much time as it needs. Once melted, take the chocolate off the heat and add in the agave nectar, eggs, vanilla, and almond milk.

In a separate, medium sized bowl, combine the flours, cinnamon, allspice, and chile powders together and mix thoroughly.

Pour the dry ingredients into the bowl of wet ingredients and stir well. Fold in half the cocoa nibs.

Pour the batter into a baking pan (11×7 or 10×10 may work best). Sprinkle the remaining cocoa nibs on top of the batter and lightly press them in. Bake for about 20-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

Allow to cool completely. Then cut into 2-inch square servings.

Tastes amazing served with cold homemade almond milk. Smile

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* I like to make my own almond milk, and I repurpose the leftover grounds into almond meal/flour by dehydrating them in the oven for several hours at the lowest temp possible with the oven door ajar and quickly grinding them finer in a coffee grinder. Worked like a charm in this recipe!

** I grind quinoa in my coffee grinder, as I cannot find quinoa flour within an hour of my house. Plus, it’s cheaper.

*** You may use any combination of flours you have on hand, as long as you substitute one-for-one BY WEIGHT. The original Kakawa recipe contained mesquite flour, which I do not own, so I omitted it and used more of a different flour. I ground my quinoa, millet, and amaranth in my coffee grinder I dedicate exclusively to spices, grains, and chilies.

**** I’m sure somewhere you can find distinct “ancho chile powder,” but I actually buy dry ancho chilies, roast them a few minutes in a hot oven, pour out the seeds, and grind them in my coffee grinder. Same for arbol chilies. And for the love of all that is holy, do NOT use “chili powder!” That stuff has onions, garlic, and mystery ingredients in there that you do not want in your brownies!

Also, check out the other great recipes for this week’s blog hop!

Nutella Cookies!

Sorry this is a day late for my weekly Thursday editions of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies & Sweets, but I was sick with the plague on Wednesday and Thursday, but today I am better and I have a real treat for you!

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This recipe takes the flourless peanut butter cookie to a whole new level! These are flourless Nutella cookies! And they are so simple to make!

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Toss all the ingredients in a bowl…

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…stir well…

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Portion out onto a cookie sheet and smoosh with a fork al la peanut butter cookie.

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And bake!

Allow to cool and enjoy!

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I also love that because they are flourless, they are naturally gluten-free! My tummy thanks me tremendously! Smile

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Flourless Nutella Cookies
Recipe from St Petersburg Times

1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread, like Nutella (you could use Justin’s brand of chocolate hazelnut butter, but it probably wouldn’t be as sweet)
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (I’ve used “peanut butter spread” types like Peter Pan. OMG. Stay away unless you want fail cookies that taste totally off!)
1 heaping tablespoon natural cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir well. Then portion out dough into 1 tbsp-size balls and place on a cookie sheet. Mash lightly with the prongs of a fork in a criss-cross fashion. Bake for about 10-12 minutes. Don’t overbake! You want them to still be soft when you take them out, because they will set outside the oven.

Allow to cool/set.

Enjoy!

Makes about two dozen cookies

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12 Weeks of Christmas Treats: Gingerbread Truffles

This recipe requires a little somethin’ special.

So turn on some Christmas music (October, Schmocktober).

Put on a frilly apron (heels optional).

Pour yourself a glass of wine? tea? coffee? cider? any choice beverage.

Pretend it’s cold outside. (It’s 80 degrees here)

And light the fire (or a candle) if it really is!

This recipe, while remarkable and completely delicious in its own right, loves a little ambiance.

And while Christmas may still be a little more than two months away, you can consider this practice for a low-stress, high-love holiday season.

Friends, we’re making gingerbread cookie dough truffles.

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I first made “cookie dough bites” about a year ago. My original recipes were basically a traditional cookie dough recipe with a few changes to make them safe to eat raw and then refrigerated until firm. This wasn’t a problem until I made a chocolate chip variety and they got really soft sitting in the warm dining room at a Christmas party. And shuffling them back and forth from the fridge to keep the right texture was far too much of a hassle.

So I changed up my recipe! Instead of depending on butter to be the stabilizer, I used dates!

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I played around with the food processor until I found the combination of ingredients I liked.

And drizzled them with sweet icing!

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Unlike the butter-based varieties, these stay at the same relative texture at room temperature. Sure, they do firm in the fridge, but they do not become the rocks that the butter kind did, nor do they become sloppy and droopy in a warm room. And this is a major plus, because who wants to babysit the dough balls and the fridge during a party? No one!

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Another plus for these is that despite being drizzled in icing, these are not cloyingly sweet like the original cookie dough recipe. I think they have the right balance of spice, sweet, crunch, and chew without leaving you with a toothache. Smile

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Enjoy!

Gingerbread Cookie Dough Truffles

Makes 20 truffles

12 pitted dates
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup ground flax meal
1 tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 cup turbinado sugar (or other coarse sugar)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 tbsp blackstrap molasses
1 tsp vanilla

Grind the oats as best you can in a food processor, blender, or coffee grinder and pour it into a separate bowl. Set aside.
In a food processor, pulse the pecans until you get a coarse meal, but be careful not to blend is so much that it turns into pecan butter. That’s another show! Winking smile Add the pecan meal to the bowl with the oat flour.

In the food processor, chop the dates as finely as possible. Then add the oats, flax, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, sugar, and salt and process until well-incorporated. It will look pretty dry.

Add the molasses and vanilla and process again until well mixed. The mixture should be a little sticky but not wet. If you squeeze a bit of “dough” in your grip, it should stick together without leaving a molasses-y streak all over your palm.

Using a disher or a spoon, roll the mixture into 1/2-ounce balls and line on parchment paper. Can be enjoyed at room temperature or chilled! Or drizzled in icing!!

Simple Icing

1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp milk-type drink of your preference (I used unsweetened plain coconut milk)
2 cups sifted powdered sugar

Mix the vanilla and “milk” until well combined. Gradually mix in the sifted powdered sugar until smooth. This will take time. And don’t forget to sift or you’ll get clumps that look like curdled milk. Yum.

Check out the other awesome recipes for this week’s blog hop!


What is your favorite flavor of cookie?

Apple Inspirations

Do you ever feel too inspired?

For the past several weeks I’ve found myself exponentially more inspired every day. To read. To paint. To cook. To write. To dance. To decorate. To travel. To love… To sleep.

I find my synapses firing so rapidly that I can’t really sit and formulate any particular thought. My thoughts are a runaway stream of consciousness.

So forgive me if my writing seems disjointed or rudimentary.

But I do manage to find some success in the madness.

One of my inspirations has been this tart.

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It was meant to harken the images of New England in the fall. Apple, pecans, maple, and oats… Colonial style inns, headless horsemen, and ghost stories…

Perfect for October, right?

I also wanted something that I could eat for breakfast and feel good about. Nothing too sweet.  But perfectly satisfying. I want to wake up, eat a piece with a cup of tea and feel like it’s a special morning. Every day.

Or at least until the tart is gone.

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I first tried this recipe simply. Just the apples and brie with the sweetness and warmth from the maple syrup and spices. But I felt like it was missing another dimension.

So I tossed in some rosemary…

and it became perfect.

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Apple-Brie Tart with Oatmeal-Pecan Crust
Feeds 4-6

For the filling
2 medium-large apples
2 oz brie (I used goat brie)
2 tbsp real maple syrup (grade B if you can find it!)
1/8 tsp each ground clove and fresh grated nutmeg
2 tsp finely chopped rosemary

For the crust
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup butter, diced small, and chilled very cold
1/2 cup oat flour (I pre-measured a 1/2 cup of oats and ground them in my old coffee grinder)
1/4 cup pecans
1 tbsp sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tart pan.

In a food processor, combine the oats, butter, oat flour, pecans, and sugar. Process until you have a fine meal that will hold together if you squeeze a bit in your hand.

Press the “dough” into the tart pan. Try to cover as much of the bottom and sides of the pan as possible.

Prick the dough with a fork and bake the crust for 12-15 minutes. This is called blind-baking, since there is no filling in it right now.

Meanwhile, slice the apples using a mandolin slicer, a food processor with a slicing blade, or fantastic hand-eye coordination with a knife. You want each piece as thin and evenly-cut as possible.

In a separate small bowl or saucer, combine maple syrup, clove, and nutmeg. Dip each apple slice into the syrup and drain off any excess. Place each apple slice in the crust in an even layer covering the bottom of the crust. Repeat with 1-2 more rows, or however many apple slices you have left.

Cut the brie into small chunks, preferably also evenly cut widths. Lay over top of the apple. Sprinkle with rosemary.

Bake until crust is golden, apples are crinkled, and cheese is melted.

Serve alongside coffee, raspberry tea, or apple cider. Winking smile

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What are your plans for this fall? Any fun recipes or activities?

On an unrelated note, who’s going to FoodBuzz?! I may or may not be. If I can figure out lodging arrangements, I have a pretty good chance of being there!

11 Weeks Left: Get your swirl on!

It’s Thursday again! That means it is time for another installment of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies & Sweets!

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This week, I moved away from the cookies and made something extra special.

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The idea for this came out of a happy mistake. Last January I was baking and selling cupcakes for a fundraiser, and one of my flavors was red velvet. Well, one day I was testing a red velvet recipe and I accidentally used baking powder instead of baking soda. The result was an dense, fudgy, red velvet brownie.

I never served those to the public. I’m not sure they ever left our kitchen. They were swallowed practically whole with its equal weight in cream cheese frosting. But they have never been made since.

But just the other day I asked Edgar what his favorite dessert I ever made was.

“Those red velvet cupcakes you messed up on.”

Er. What.

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I resolved not to purposely repeat my mishap in hopes of more brownie-ish goodness. Instead, I was inspired to try something new with this week’s treat!

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies!

Most the recipes I found for this varied very little between them, but I took the advice of several different commenters on the original recipe I tweaked it to my liking. I also used spelt flour because I can’t leave well enough alone.

The best part is swirling!

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Well, not really. The best part is eating. Fresh out of the oven, these feel lighter than air in the mouth, but if you let them completely chill in the fridge, they become rich, fudgy, and the red velvet flavor really comes through!

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Enjoy!

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies
Adapted from Sonny Anderson

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp red food coloring (Um. I ran out and didn’t have enough to really get a rich red. But it still worked. Used as much as you want!)
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar (you use white distilled or apple cider vinegar if you wanted)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup spelt flour (or whole wheat pastry flour, or all-purpose flour)
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×9 inch baking pan.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once melted, pour in a separate, medium-sized mixing bowl. Add sugar, vanilla, cocoa powder, salt, food coloring, and vinegar, stirring after each addition. In a separate, small bowl, beat the eggs with a fork lightly. Then mix the eggs into the batter. Mix well.

Gently fold in the flour. Do not overmix.

Pour batter into baking pan, but try to reserve about 1/4 cup of the batter for later.

In a mixer, blend the cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla until smooth. Pour into the pan on top of the red velvet layer and smooth.

Take the reserved batter and dollop on top of the cream cheese layer. It doesn’t have to look pretty.

Take a knife and hold it vertically, point-down into the batter and swirl. Have fun with it! But don’t go nuts or the top will look more pink than marbled. Less is more!

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until brownie and cream cheese are firm and edges start to lightly brown.

Let cool completely before cutting.

In fact, let chill completely before eating. Your patience will be rewarded. Winking smile

In the meantime, check out the other great recipes for this week’s episode of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies & Sweets!

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