Citrus Sweeties

It’s February in Wisconsin – the month when we all start longing for signs of spring, and the month which so capriciously teases us with sunny days and snowy nights. Well, if I can’t have spring, at least I can make light and spring-like cookies, right?

I’ve used this base recipe to make snickerdoodles, but my son’s new-found love of oranges inspired me to add some citrus zest and skip the cinnamon sugar. And then the kid’s dad said, “you know, these would be really good with lemon.” They’re right. And, I think they’d work with grapefruit or lime, too. But, I haven’t tried those yet.

Citrus Sweeties - Lemon Style

Citrus Sweeties – Lemon Style

Citrus Sweeties

2 T. (28 g) soy-free Earth Balance
1/3 cup granulated sugar *
1 egg
1/4 t. vanilla
1/2 t. citrus zest
1/4 t. cream of tartar
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 cup packed (128 g.) almond flour

Preheat oven to 350°. Cream the Earth Balance and sugar together. Beat in the egg, vanilla and citrus zest. Add the rest of the ingredients. Scoop by tablespoons onto parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake for 12-14 minutes. The cookies don’t brown a lot, but should flatten some and crack. Cool completely. Optionally, drizzle with some icing made from citrus zest, citrus fruit, fresh-squeezed fruit juice, and powdered sugar.

* I’ve used both coconut palm sugar and organic cane sugar. The coconut palm sugar is a little more overpowering of the citrus flavor and results in a darker cookie. Xylitol might also work, but I haven’t tried it.


Posted in cookies, desserts, grain-free, nuts | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Passing a Plate of Chocolate Coconut Goodness

Let’s talk unsweetened chocolate. Growing up, my mom always had an orange box of Baker’s unsweetened chocolate in the cupboard. It was a crucial ingredient in brownies, cakes, my annual birthday chocolate torte, and my dad’s annual birthday whipped frosting. (I really must make that for you soon.)

But, I rarely see it used in recipes today. Why is that? I really don’t know. I think I’m going to singlehandedly bring it back. Why not? I can either buy expensive, allergy-friendly chocolate, or I can buy cheap dairy-free chocolate that has soy lecithin yuck)  in it, or I can buy unsweetened chocolate and completely control how much sugar gets added. Score!

You see, when I make cookies for other folks, like these I made today, I always use more sugar than if I were baking them for myself. I’m used to bitter chocolate. Other folks generally prefer a bit more sweet.

Today’s cookies are part of the Pass The Plate chain started by BeBetsy. It’s a fundraiser supported by KitchenAid. Each time a blogger makes cookies, blogs it, and passes the cookies and the plate along to another blogger, KitchenAid donates $5 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure®. I got the plate from the creative and fun Johnna, of In Johnna’s Kitchen. She made some totally awesome Sweet Potato Chocolate Chunk cookies. Tough act to follow, but I’m willing to try.

Cook For the Cure Plate

Cook For the Cure Plate

My cookies are going to Jen at So Simple Gluten Free with Jen. You may recognize Jen from her work with the Gluten and Allergen Free Expo, or her So Simple Gluten Free Recipes app. Jen is one busy and talented lady! I hope she enjoys my cookies, and I hope you enjoy the recipe.

Chocolate Coconut Clusters - Cook for the Cure

Chocolate Coconut Clusters – Cook for the Cure

Flourless Chocolate Coconut Clusters

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup (64 g) almond butter
1/3 cup to 1 cup sugar or palm sugar *
1/4 cup (56 g) coconut oil
1 t. vanilla
1/4 t. salt
2 eggs
1 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 350°. In a heat-proof bowl, melt the chocolate over a water bath, stirring frequently. When fully melted, remove from heat. With an electric mixer, beat in the almond butter and sugar. Add the coconut oil in chunks, and beat until coconut oil melts into the dough. Add vanilla and salt. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time. The dough will come together and look like frosting. Beat for 2 minutes after the second egg is added. Stir or beat in the coconut.

Using a cookie scoop, drop mounds of dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 12 minutes. Do not over-bake! Cookies will still be soft. Allow to cool for 10 minutes on the cookie sheets, and then slide the parchment off the cookie sheets and allow to cool completely before moving. The cookies will firm as they cool.

*Note: I have used as little as 1/3 cup palm sugar + 10 drops of stevia. If you use the smaller amount of sugar, your cookies will be less chewy and they won’t spread. The larger amount of sugar makes for a cookie with chewy edges and softer interior. If you use palm sugar, it’s helpful to give it a quick whiz in a coffee grinder after measuring.

Posted in Blogger Community, chocolate, coconut, cookies, desserts, grain-free, nuts | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

SRC: Pumpkin French Toast Bake

It’s Secret Recipe Club time again. Actually, it’s my last time. I made the tough decision to quit doing Secret Recipe Club. 2013 is a year of letting go of obligations and being as true to myself as possible. And, while I have enjoyed Secret Recipe Club, it feels like the right time to walk away.

This month I was assigned Angels Homestead - a lovely blog that goes way beyond just recipes – to cleaning tips (if only she could teach my child) and ideas to save money (something I can always get behind) and menu planning (something at which I completely fail). And, in a true bit of irony, Angels Homestead is owned and operated by April – the founder of Secret Recipe Club. I guess there’s nothing like going out with a bang, eh?

I gave the kiddo several options, and let him choose this month’s recipe. Monkey French Toast was high on his list. But, he eventually settled on Pumpkin Pie French Toast Bake. I made only the slightest of changes, subbing in gluten-free bread, almond milk, and palm sugar.

Gluten-free, dairy-free pumpkin french toast bake

Gluten-free, dairy-free pumpkin french toast bake

I think the gluten-free bread soaked up the liquid a little more than regular bread might have, as the end result was a wee bit dry. But, the flavor was much-loved by the kiddo.

Thanks to April, for her wealth of recipes and for starting Secret Recipe Club. Best wishes for the future!

Check out all of Group D’s Secret Recipe Club reveal recipes:

Posted in Blogger Community, breakfast, pumpkin | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Quick Bite: Sweet Potato Basil Soup

Some recipes I spend a lot of time on. Some recipes I throw together with whatever sounds good at the moment (or whatever is about to go bad in the fridge). Sometimes, that second kind of recipe yields a winner. And, when the kiddo says, “You have to make this again!” I know it’s time to write down what I did, snap a quick photo, and post it to the blog – even if it’s just so I can make it again another day. Those recipes? Those I’m calling Quick Bites.

So, here’s the first of what I hope to be many Quick Bite recipes. Beware – approximations and “to taste” are the standard with these. But, perhaps they’ll whet your appetite and inspire you to make your own quick bite meals.

Tonight’s offering owes everything to 2 organic sweet potatoes threatening to sprout on the kitchen counter, and a raging desire for anything that tastes light and fresh in the midst of this cold, dark winter.

Sweet Potato Basil Soup - topped with steamed broccoli and GF French Bread

Sweet Potato Basil Soup – topped with steamed broccoli and GF French Bread

Sweet Potato and Basil Soup

1 T. (eyeball it) olive oil
1 small yellow or sweet onion, diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 medium-small sweet potatoes, diced
3 cups water
salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 t. salt, a few good grinds of fresh pepper)
basil (I have frozen summer basil, which means it’s been blanched and chopped and in that form it amounted to about 2 T. Fresh from the package I’d say 1/4 chopped. Again – to taste.)
juice of 1 lime

In a 2 quart sauce pan, heat the olive oil over low-medium heat. Add the onions and cook slowly until caramelized – about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and toss for 30 seconds. Add the water, sweet potatoes and salt and pepper. Turn the heat up to high and cook until the sweet potatoes are falling apart tender. Remove from heat and blend with an immersion blender. Stir in the basil and lime. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

I served this topped with some steamed broccoli, and a slice (or three) of The Daily Dietribe’s soon-to-be-published gluten-free, vegan French bread. She sent the recipe to me today for some testing. And, oh boy, you are going to want to make this. You can see the heel of the loaf in the picture above, and here’s a shot of the loaf itself. Is that gorgeous, or what? (Not the photography – the bread. Ignore that big ol’ shadow, k?)

Daily Dietribe's Gluten-Free Vegan French Bread

Daily Dietribe’s Gluten-Free Vegan French Bread

Want more great healthy recipes? Check out Wellness Weekends. You can also find more recipes with 5 ingredients (the olive oil, salt & pepper, and water don’t count) or less and 5 ingredient Mondays.

Posted in basil, grain-free, main dish, Quick Bites, soup, sweet potato, vegan | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

How “Natural” Is Your Peanut Butter?

Growing up, there were always 2 jars of peanut butter in the cupboard – one small jar of Skippy creamy, and one giant jar of Jif crunchy. I was a Jif girl. It wasn’t because I liked crunchy better than creamy. Actually, I preferred creamy. But, Jif was sweeter than Skippy, at least back in the day, and I had the most massive crush on all things sweet. These days, both Jif and Skippy sport 3 grams of sugar per serving. They also both contain hydrogenated vegetable oils, and Jif has the added bonus of mono and diglycerides. Yum!

When I first started eating a more natural diet, I discovered that peanut butter really only needs  2 ingredients – peanuts and salt. Now, I’m no longer tied to a brand. I’m tied to an ingredient list. Peanuts and salt – whether it’s ground fresh by me at the food cooperative or bought in a jar, my go-to peanut butter is nothing but peanuts and salt.

Except when it isn’t.

You see, there are one or two traditional family recipes that still tug at my apron strings that simply must be made with a Jif-like peanut butter. And, thankfully, now you can get Jif-like peanut butter with a less scary ingredient list – typically, peanuts, palm oil, sugar, and salt. Okay, still not spectacular. But, better than the chemical nastiness.

After the holiday baking this year, I had some of the “nearly natural” peanut butter left, so I decided to do a little experiment and bake the same recipe twice – once with each kind of peanut butter. My theory was that most of my baked good recipes work with either, but that the natural PB might result in a looser dough and more spreading.

I was a little surprised by the results. For the most part, the differences were not huge. The natural peanut butter cookie is darker in color, has a more pronounced peanut flavor. But, what really surprised me was that it spread less. The “nearly natural” cookie was a little sweeter due to the added sugar. But, not radically so.

In a head-to-head comparison, the kiddo picks the nearly natural cookies. But, I swear it’s because they look bigger. Seriously.

I’ll be sticking with the natural peanut butter most of the time. How about you?

Top spoon and cookie are a natural peanut butter. Bottom spoon and cookie are a nearly natural peanut butter.

Top spoon and cookie are a natural peanut butter. Bottom spoon and cookie are a nearly natural peanut butter.

Grain-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/4 cup (56 g) coconut oil, softened
1/2 cup (128 g) peanut butter
1/3 cup palm sugar
1 t. psyllium powder + 3 T. hot water (mix and let sit for a minute)
1 t. vanilla
2 T. almond milk
1 packed cup (128 g) almond flour
1/2 cup (56 g) tapioca starch
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°. In a medium bowl, beat the coconut oil and peanut butter until fluffy. Beat in the sugar. Add the psyllium mix, the vanilla and the almond milk and beat well. Beat in the flour, starch, baking soda and salt. The dough will be greasy and crumbly. Keep beating until it starts to come together. Stir in the chocolate chips. Scoop spoonfuls onto parchment lined baking sheets, and flatten with the palm of your hand. Bake for 12-14 minutes.

Posted in chocolate, cookies, grain-free, nightshade-free, peanut butter, vegan | 3 Comments

Sweet Potato & Swiss Chard Sauté

Lest everyone think that I live on things like Sugar Crunch Coffee Cake, and lest anyone fear that I will no longer be posting healthy vegan food, today’s offering is both vegan and healthy. In fact, it will fit into most of your New Year’s resolution restrictive diets, cleanses, resets, and what-have-you’s.

I just think it’s yummy.

A local Tex-Mex place combines sweet potatoes and swiss chard and Mexican spices and serves it as a taco filling. And the kiddo actually eats it. So, this is our at home version. We switch out the seasonings on a fairly regular basis. Feel free to season and spice in whatever way you want.

Vegan steamy sweet potato and Swiss chard

Vegan steamy sweet potato and Swiss chard

Sweet Potato & Swiss Chard Sauté

2 T. coconut oil
1/2 small yellow onion, minced
1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 t. seasoning blend (I used Penzey’s Sandwich Sprinkle)
1 bunch Swiss chard, cut off the stalk, cleaned, and roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat, melt the coconut oil and sauté the onion until slightly soft. Add the sweet potato and seasonings and continue to cook until sweet potato is tender and some pieces are browned. (By this time the onion will be brown and crispy. Yum!) Add the Swiss Chard and toss over heat just until Swiss chard is wilted.

Serves 1 very hungry momma as a main dish, or 2 as a side dish.

Want to find more allergy-friendly recipes? Check out Allergy Free Wednesdays and Wellness Weekends.

Posted in grain-free, nightshade-free, nut-free, side dish, sweet potato, vegan | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Sugar Crunch Coffee Cake (grain-free)

I’ve had this recipe figured out for months. I’ve made it for family, for friends, and for my 1st annual Halloween Zombrunch (with a bloody cherry sauce drizzle). Everyone that’s tried it has loved it, including my gluten-eating friends.

But, I haven’t posted it to the blog yet.

Why not? Because it has refined sugar and eggs in it. And, that’s against “the rules.” I hate rules. They’re sucking all the fun out of blogging.

So, here’s the new blogging rule – there are no rules. That doesn’t mean you’re going to start seeing gluten and dairy and soy stuff here. Those are things I just don’t eat. No rules there. I just don’t even consider those things “foods” anymore. But, eggs, sugar (and other high glycemic sweeteners), chicken, turkey, yeast, fake Daiya cheese, even neon-colored sprinkles (egads!) – those all appear in my kitchen and on my plate from time to time.  And, now, if they’re yummy enough, they’re also going to appear on my blog from time to time.

Please don’t complain. The food police make me so sad.

The upside is that if blogging becomes fun again, you just might see more recipes.

It’s a trade-off.

Oh, and I LOVE a good challenge. So, if there’s a certain thing you really want to see, feel free to let me know. A friend just planted the seed in my head for a nightshade-free chili. Challenging, yes, but also could be very fun and delicious.

Got a challenge for me?

Sugar Crunch Coffee Cake (grain-free)

Sugar Crunch Coffee Cake (grain-free)

Sugar Crunch Coffee Cake

This is an adaptation of a recipe from my grandmother’s old church cookbook. It has a lot of ingredients and dirties multiple bowls and it’s worth it anyway. I’ve tried it with coconut sugar, but I didn’t like it as much. Feel free to use your favorite granulated sweetener and let me know how it works.

Yeast Mixture
2.5 t. dried quick-acting yeast
1/2 cup warm water
2 t. sugar

Wet Ingredients for Cake
1/2 cup (96 g) palm shortening
1/2 cup (112 g) Earth Balance Soy Free
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup almond milk
1 t. vanilla
1/8 t. almond extract
1 t. psyllium powder

Dry Ingredients for Cake
2.5 cups (300 g) blanched almond flour
1/2 cup (72 g) tapioca starch
1/2 cup (56 g) sifted coconut flour
4 t. baking powder

Sugar Crunch Topping
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 T. (7 g) sifted coconut flour
1 rounded t. cinnamon
1.5 T. (21 g) Earth Balance Soy Free
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I like pecans best)

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9 x 13 baking pan.

Mix yeast mixture ingredients together and set aside to proof.

In a large bowl, beat the shortening and Earth Balance together until creamy. Beat in the sugar. Add the eggs and beat until light and fluffy. Mix together the almond milk, extracts, and psyllium powder. Add to other ingredients and beat. Don’t worry if it separates. It will be fine.

In a small bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.

Add half the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Beat until smooth. Add half the yeast mixture. Beat until smooth. Repeat with the remaining dry and yeast mixtures. Be sure to scrape the bowl occasionally. The end result should be smooth and fluffy.

Scrape dough into prepared pan and spread evenly.

In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, coconut flour, cinnamon and Earth Balance for the sugar crunch topping. When fully mixed, stir in the chopped nuts. Sprinkle mixture over the dough in the pan.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until top is golden brown and a knife inserted comes out clean. Cool before cutting.

Posted in breakfast, cinnamon, desserts, grain-free, nightshade-free, nuts | Tagged | 29 Comments