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Pear Maple Spice Cake (vegan)

22 Jun

Well, fortunately and unfortunately, work has gotten busier in the past month or so…. I state it as both a positive and negative because I’m torn. I really love working, and I love my job – it’s so much fun and I’m so lucky to have a job I enjoy! But I also really enjoy my free time because that means I can do tons of stuff: go on adventures, climbing trips, long beautiful trail runs during the day, and BAKE to my hearts content!!  Needless to say, work has indeed picked up speed, which leaves less time for baking and creating new recipes.  Lately, I find myself using past recipes I’ve posted when I bake for friends (be it birthdays, potlucks, etc) .. which is ok, though, since it means I can re-test the recipe and make fun changes!  Which, as you can probably guess, is exactly what I did here.  :)

I love, LOVE my vegan chocolate cake recipe. I’ve made it on multiple occasions, and it’s always a hit.  I had just baked one, in fact, and less than a week later needed to whip up another cake for another friends birthday.  One of the things that’s great about that recipe is that it’s QUICK. No fuss. I can literally have it in the oven in less than 10 minutes, and it only takes another 20-30 to cook.  Granted, yes, I have some practice.. but it really is a quick recipe.

I decided to transform my staple vegan chocolate cake recipe into a maple spice cake.  I thought this would be a nice “outfit” for the cake… just take out the chocolate and add maple and spices! yum! right?  Yep. Right.

The cake, once again, got rave reviews. Fluffy, moist, amazing.

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup (a little more if you like it on the sweeter side)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 or 2 tsp cinnamon (depending how cinnamony you like your cake!)
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/3 cup grapeseed oil (olive oil works too)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp apple vinegar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 medium pear, diced (dice into about 1/4″ cubes.  I used a bosc pear, other varieties would be fine too)
Frosting (optional):
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • +/- 1 tsp maple syrup (stir together until smooth, add more sugar or syrup accordingly to attain the right consistency)

Process:

    1. Heat oven to 375 F
    2. Sift together all dry ingredients (sifting is important).
    3. In a separate bowl, combine the maple syrup, oil and other wet ingredients. Blend until well combined.
    4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry mix and stir well until smooth. Add the diced pear and gently mix in.
    5. Pour into a greased cake pan (I like to use a 9″ springform bundt cake pan, but a simple 8″x8″ pan works fine too), and bake for about 30 minutes, or until done. Check often after 20 minutes by inserting a knife and seeing if it comes out clean. Clean means done! Don’t overcook it or it will become dry.
    6. Serve while it’s warm with ice cream, or let cool and drizzle with frosting.
    7. Enjoy!

Makes one cake, serves about 10-12

Simple Vegan Pie Crust

24 May

I recently discovered this pie crust, and I immediately added it to my crust repertoire.  Seriously, yum.

It’s super simple, quick, healthy and delicious… what more could you want? I can imagine using this crust for a variety of pies – chocolate, apple, pecan, pumpkin…. mmmmmm…. I can’t wait till pumpkin pie season rolls around again… but who am I kidding, pumpkin pie is an ANY season pie! I bet you’re wondering what type of pie I used this crust for? Well, I haven’t posted that post yet… but I will :) I will say this – it included chocolate!

This crust does have an underlying coconut taste/aroma, since it uses coconut oil.. so if you aren’t a fan of coconut or don’t want that flavor, I don’t recommend you use this recipe.  But I can’t really think of a pie that wouldn’t go with this crust (unless it’s a savory pie…).  The coco powder is optional, and I’ll leave that decision up to you, since it’ll probably depend on what pie you’re making if you add it or not.  Obviously, your crust will be a little lighter in color than what’s pictured here if you don’t include the coco.

I imagine it would work just fine with a gluten free flour… if you try it, please report back!

I can’t wait to use this crust for more pies! :D

 

Ingredients:

makes one 9″ pie crust

  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup coconut oil (in solid state)
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder (optional)
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 5-6 tbsp cold water

Process:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F.
  2. Mix the flour, cocoa powder, and sugar together.  Add the coconut oil and slowly combine with your fingers. (NOTE: make sure the coconut oil is in it’s solid state, the consistency of butter… place in refrigerator before adding to the flour mixture if it’s too soft).
  3. Keep mixing with your hands until it becomes a little crumbly and thoroughly combined. Then add the cold water one tbsp at a time, until it turns into dough.
  4. Place the ball of dough in the refrigerator for 20-30 mins.
  5. Remove from refrigerator and using a rolling pin, roll it into ¼ inch thickness (you might have to repair cracks as you go, just smash them together and keep rolling). Place in pie tin/plate and use your hands to even the crust out and shape the edges how you want.
  6. Use a fork to poke holes in the crust (see picture).  Bake the crust for 8-10 minutes. Let it cool completely before adding whatever your ingredients might be. :)

 

Mini Quinoa Breakfast Muffins (vegan, gluten free)

11 Apr

Easter brunch has become an annual tradition in our family.  It’s awesome, for many reasons.  Mainly, because my family is the coolest family around and because I get to COOK and BAKE up a frenzy! yippee!!!  Honestly, it’s like Thanksgiving’s half birthday to me…. in brunch form.  This year we had a couple friends join us too, and the weather cooperated so we could gather outside to eat.. mmmmm…. love the morning sun.  I got up at 6:30, had my coffee, and started cooking for our 10am brunch.  On the menu were many tasty things including a M’hanncha (Moroccan Snake Cake – I’ll post the recipe for this one soon!), a wild mushroom and leek frittata with a rutabaga parsnip crust; a sundried tomato, spinach, and queso fresco frittata; breakfast potatoes; fruit salad, and mini quinoa muffins.  I always use the excuse of holiday gatherings or food get togethers to try out new recipe ideas… some people call this ballsy or brave, but I just consider it creative and adventurous! I guess I’m pretty confident that my recipes won’t totally fail… but often there’s room for improvement.  ;)

Anyways, for this post I’m going to tell you about these quinoa muffins that I made for brunch.  BITE SIZE quinoa muffins.  Now, I have to warn you… if you are a batter taster… beware.  I could literally eat this batter for breakfast. SO tasty! Actually, really really healthy too, so you really could eat it for breakfast! hmmm….   well either way, if you don’t eat all the batter first, they also make really good muffins.  Super healthy little tidbits, packed with protein! The quinoa taste definitely shines through but the rice milk dulls down its “earthy/nutty” flavor just the right amount to balance these muffins without having to add too much sugar.   Feel free to play around with add-ins… I added mixed dried fruit and walnuts, but just plain raisins or dried apples would be really nice, or whatever else you fancy!  :)

Ingredients:
makes about 30 mini muffins
  • 1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 cup quinoa (measure dry, will be more when cooked)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup mixed dried fruit (or just your favorite dried fruit or raisins)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unflavored rice milk (coconut, soy or almond would work too, but I like the rice flavor in these)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp coconut butter (softened)
  • 2 flax “eggs” – 2 tbsp flaxseed meal + 6 tbsp water (egg replacer)

Process:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Cook 1 cup quinoa in 2 cups water, set aside when all water is absorbed and it’s done cooking.
  3. Mix together flaxseed meal and water, set aside  and mix occasionally (it will become somewhat gelatinous)
  4. In a medium bowl, mix together oats, baking powder, spices, and salt.  Stir in the walnuts and dried fruit.
  5. In a separate bowl, mix together brown sugar, rice milk, vanilla and softened coconut butter.  Stir in the flax “eggs”. Blend until well combined.
  6. Add dry ingredients to wet, and mix until well combined.
  7. Lightly grease a mini muffin tin, and spoon ingredients into prepared tin. (I had to do several batches)
  8. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until each muffin has set (should feel slightly spongy, but bounce back).  Remove from oven and enjoy!!

Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Walnut Chocolate Cookies

30 Mar
My friend and I had planned a 5 day rock climbing trip to the Owens River Gorge in Bishop, CA. We were originally going to make our way up to Smith Rock, in Oregon, but the weather defeated us.  Smith Rock will have to wait for another time… sigh.  Owens is our staple sport climbing area, so we weren’t too upset about the change of plans… I mean, you can’t beat it… incredible basalt rock, tremendous variety and amount of climbing, a BEAUTIFUL setting.. and all within just a scenic 6 hour drive.  Love.

A shot from the drive on the other side of the Sierras…. love the colors.

As always, it’s important to have snacks and treats on these climbing trips!  I usually like to bake something that will be delicious and healthy, yet energizing…. and vegan is a nice option because they usually stay good longer.  So this time, a variation on the staple oatmeal raisin cookie!  Yummmm.  Of course I added walnuts and chocolate because they are both powerhouse ingredients.  Coconut milk and olive oil keep these tasty morsels moist and chewy.  I must say, these little guys might be my favorite “healthy” cookie yet… and are by far my favorite that I’ve made in a long while!  They are seriously amazing, slightly crispy edges with a chewy center, and packed with flavor.  They are a must try recipe!  As I write about these cookies, we have just come off the first climbing day of our trip (which was filled with amazing climbing, as usual) and these cookies definitely came in handy…. now I only wish I made more….

Ingredients:
makes about 24 cookies (approx. 2″ diameter)
  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 2 cups oats
  • 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp coconut milk (you could use almond or soy if you don’t have coconut)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • optional – sprinkle of salt on top of each cookie

Process:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Put walnuts into a food processor and process until just lightly ground, some will become powdery, but there should be small chunks (no bigger than the size of your pinky nail).
  3. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, 1 cupoats (save the other cup for later), cinnamon, and brown sugar.
  4. Add the walnuts, raisins and chocolate chips to the dry mixture and mix together.
  5. In a small bowl add the olive oil, maple syrup, coconut milk, and vanilla, and mix until well combined.
  6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix thoroughly.
  7. Mix in the remaining 1 cup of oats by stirring or use your hands.
  8. Gather a small ball of dough (somewhere between the size of a ping pong ball and golf ball), and then flatten with your hands. Dip your hands in water to help keep them from sticking.
  9. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet.
  10. Bake for about 10 minutes.
  11. Remove from oven let cool and enjoy!

 

Piña Colada Scones (vegan, gluten free)

27 Mar

We’ve had quite a few rainy days here in the Bay Area lately, which makes me want to do two things: go on muddy trail runs up in the hills, and bake. I love running in the mud… it’s so soft and squishy.. and best of all, you get super dirty! Frolicking through puddles is my forte. And boy, do I frolic. It’s probably a good thing that not many other people like running in those conditions, because I’m pretty sure I look like a crazy person.  I’m cool with that, though.  Weeeeeeee!! Mud!!!

As for baking, what’s more awesome to come home to than a scone?  I LOVE scones..  they might be my favorite baked good.  Or at least right up there at the top of my favorites.  I don’t like my scones cakey or fluffy… totally the wrong texture for a scone, in my opinion.  I like them rustic and hardy, crumbly but not dry.  And as crucial an ingredient as butter normall is in scones, I prefer (as usual) to bake them without it.  They can still be super tasty without butter, trust me! Butter gives you more of a flakey cakey scone, anyways… so scones without butter are more my texture style.  Plus, I want to be able to eat one with my coffee before breakfast and not feel guilty about it.  This time, I wanted to bake something with coconut, I was craving that tropical taste… Then I remembered I have coconut flour, too!  Super coconutty!  I was trying to decide what to add to these coconut scones.. the first thing that occurred to me was pineapple… I even posted a “poll” to see what my friends thought I should add. The end result though, was pineapple.  Long story short.. these scones evolved in my mind to be vegan and gluten free!  Healthy, delicious, and a great texture. I bring you, Piña Colada Scones!!

Ingredients:

makes about 12 scones

  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1 cup gluten free oat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 1 tbsp orange juice
  • 5 tbsp agave nectar (or maple syrup)
  • 1 cup diced fresh pineapple

glaze:

  • 4 tbsp confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 tsp maple syrup or agave
  • 1 tbsp fresh pineapple juice

Process:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together coconut flour, gluten free oat flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix in poppy seeds and chia seeds.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, combine coconut milk and coconut oil (heat the coconut oil slightly so it’s not solid). Add vanilla extract, agave, orange zest and juice, and pineapple.  Combine gently but thoroughly.
  4. Slowly add the liquid mixture into the flour mixture, and stir until the dough comes together (you might want to use your hands). If the dough is super sticky, add a tiny bit of coconut flour at a time until the dough becomes less sticky.
  5. Form the dough into a ball, then flatten the ball of dough on a cutting board or baking pan with your palms until it is about an inch thick. Use a sharp knife to cut the round into 12 equal pieces.
  6. If you cut them on a cutting board, transfer the scone slices to a lightly greased cookie sheet about an inch apart. Bake for about 15 minutes, until they start to turn slightly golden, and feel firm but still have a slight bounce back to them.
  7. Remove from oven, let cool, and enjoy!!

Rustic Banana Bread (vegan)

21 Mar

Today, I had a sudden craving for banana bread. I am a strong believer in feeding cravings and not ignoring them… so… I made my way to the kitchen and made myself some banana bread! As I organized my baking canvas and began assembling the typical baking ingredients, I paused…. I thought, “no… I want to do this with as few base ingredients as possible.” … so I put away the sugar, egg, vanilla…  and began mashing the bananas.  Seriously simple is no joke for this bread… I had it in the oven in less than 5 minutes. And in 30, I was satisfying my craving!!  Vegan, sugar free, oil free, and perfectly moist… this bread is a-mazing.

 

Ingredients:

Makes one loaf

  • 2 medium bananas (preferably overripe)
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 1 flax “egg” (1 tbsp flaxseed meal + 3 tbsp water)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • scant 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Process:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Mix together your flax “egg” and set aside.
  3. Mash bananas and applesauce together (should amount to about 1 cup combined).
  4. Mix together all dry ingredients plus walnuts and raisins.  Add flax “egg” and mashed banana/applesauce, mix until well combined, pour into prepared lightly greased loaf pan and sprinkle lightly with oats, sesame seeds, or sunflower seeds for looks (totally optional).  Bake for about 30 minutes (or until knife inserted comes out clean), let cool slightly before cutting – Enjoy!!!

 

Baked Oatmeal (vegan & gluten free)

20 Mar
Whenever I say the words “baked oatmeal”, peoples faces seem to turn to a look of curiosity.  This always surprised me… I mean, what’s weird about oatmeal that’s been baked? Maybe it’s just such a common “cooked” breakfast food, that when you replace the word “cooked” with “baked”, it evokes the eyebrow raise.  I have to say though, one of my favorite parts of baking is just that… getting the eyebrow raise out of people :)  That must mean you’ve created something new or interesting! Or, people think it sounds utterly disgusting… pish posh.  Whatever people might think, baked oatmeal is a keeper.  I’ve made it multiple times in multiple ways with multiple ingredients – this one is, so far, my favorite.  With lasting hints of coconut mixed with the familiar flavor of banana and the soft crunch of walnuts, you might find yourself whipping this simple recipe together more often than you imagine.  It’s so simple.  Also, its versatility is another great factor!  Whether it’s for a brunch gathering, a typical morning breakfast, or breakfast-on-the-go for you folk who just like to grab ‘n go… it’ll be a winner!
I like this simple variation quite a bit, but by all means, feel free to experiment and throw in your favorite oatmeal additions!! The whole coconut milk in this recipe is what makes it super delectable in my opinion, so I wouldn’t recommend replacing it with light coconut milk… but of course you can if you want… I’m sure it’ll still be tasty :)  After all, it’s oatmeal, baked!!!
Ingredients:
makes about 16, if using a standard size muffin tin
  • 2 cups gluten free rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup whole coconut milk (not light, go for the full fat, it’s good-for-you fat!)
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp coconut butter (softened)
  • 1 flax “egg” – 1 tbsp flaxseed meal + 3 tbsp water (egg replacer)
  • 1 or 2 ripe bananas, chopped into about 1/2″ pieces
  • honey to drizzle over the top after baked (optional)

Process:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Mix together flaxseed meal and water, set aside  and mix occasionally (it will become somewhat gelatinous)
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together oats, baking powder, spices, and salt.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together brown sugar, coconut milk (shake the can well before opening!), almond milk, vanilla and softened coconut butter.  Stir in the flax “egg”. Blend until well combined.
  5. Add dry ingredients to wet, and mix until well combined.  Gently stir in the “mix-ins” – bananas, walnuts, and raisins.
  6. Lightly grease a muffin tin, and spoon ingredients into prepared tin.
  7. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until each muffin has set (should feel slightly spongy, but bounce back).  Remove from oven, drizzle with honey if desired, and enjoy!!