Sunday, November 23, 2014

Banana Nut Muffins

All desserts are a yes in my book. My roommate however prefers baked breakfast goods, muffins in particular. Some how it took me nearly 4 years to figure this out, but now that this is an established fact, muffins make regular appearances in our breakfast rotation. One of her favorites is banana nut muffins. Once they are baked, they are devoured. She will start eating them as soon as they are out of the oven and snack on them until they are gone.

I like to make a full dozen regular sized and a full dozen mini, to satisfy your appetite for breakfast or just a small snack. I've made several loaves of banana bread and finally mixed together a few elements from my favorite recipes to develop these muffins.

Banana Nut Muffins

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Yields 18 regular muffins

  • 2 cups oat flour (gluten free)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened, or apple sauce
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbs triple sec or liquor of your choice
  • 4-5 ripe bananas, broken in to 2 inch sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup nuts of choice (optional), I love walnuts or pecans in this recipe

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F, and line a cupcake tin (either full-sized or mini) with liners. 
  2. Combine the four, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a bowl and set aside. 
  3. In a food processor (or you can use a mixer, it just takes a bit more time) process the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed. With the machine running, add the liquor and vanilla extract through the feed tube. 
  4. Add the eggs and pulse to combine. Do not overly process the eggs or your muffins will be dense and tough. Add the bananas and process until combined and liquified. 
  5. Scraped down the bowl and sprinkle the flour mixture over the banana mixture. Pulse until combined. Add in the nuts and pulse once or twice to combine. 
  6. Fill prepared tins 2/3 to 3/4 full. If using a full sized tin bake for 27-30 minutes. If using a miniature tin, bake for 15-17 minutes. The muffins will be done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, but the muffins are still glossy, not dry in appearance.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Halupki (Stuffed Cabbage)

Stuffed cabbage is a traditional Slovak food. It is always a Fall/Winter staple in my family. You can use just about anything for a filling. I either opt for beef and rice or vegetables and rice depending on my intended audience. You can prepare it in the oven or in a crockpot, and it is delicious no matter how it is prepared.

Halupki (Stuffed Cabbage)


Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: varies
Total Time: varies


Serves 4-8


Meat Filling:
  • 1 head of cabbage, 4-10 large outer leaves washed, and rib removed
  • 1 cup rice, cooked (any kind will do)
  • 1 lb beef
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
Vegetable Filling:
  • 1 head of cabbage, 4-10 large outer leaves washed, and rib removed
  • 1 cup rice, cooked (any kind will do)
  • 3 cups of any combination of chopped vegetables
    • zucchini
    • mushrooms
    • bell peppers
    • carrots
    • etc.
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
Tomato Sauce:
  • 2 14 oz. cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 14 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 16 oz. jar roasted red peppers
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • salt and pepper to taste

  1. Boil a stockpot of salted water. Submerge the prepared cabbage leaves in the water and boil until they are bright green and fold easily, 5-8 minutes.
  2. Remove the cabbage leaves with tongs and set them aside to cool.
  3. Combine the rice, seasonings, and meat or vegetable filling in a large bowl. Scoop 1/2 to 2/3 cup filling into the inside of a cabbage leaf. Tuck the bottom of the leaf up and over the filling. Fold the sides of the leaf over the filling, then continue to roll the bottom of the leaf up to the top. Set the rolled cabbage leaf, seam side down, in either a glass Pyrex dish (if you are baking them) or in a crockpot. Repeat with the remaining leaves. If you have any leftover filling, you can add it to the tomato sauce.  
  4. In a food processor or blender, combine the diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, peppers, garlic cloves, and salt and pepper and process until smooth.
  5. Pour the sauce over the rolled cabbage leaves. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 375 F for 2 hours or cook in the crockpot on low for 8 hours or high for 6.

The Best Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut butter is just one of those foods for me. I can go months without any of it, and then suddenly I need to eat an entire jar to feel satisfied. I don't know what makes it so addictive, but I love it! I was in one of my massive peanut butter consumption phases when my coworker mentioned how much she wanted peanut butter cookies. Why hadn't I thought of that!? Yum! So I got to work.

I reviewed several recipes for peanut butter cookies. I checked the ingredients and was amazed at how much sugar went in to them. I was not a fan. In addition, several of the cookies looked dry and crumbly. Although I enjoy a cookie with a good crumb, these looked brittle, hardly what I wanted for my cookies. I tried several recipes including your basic sugar, egg, peanut butter, cookies, but I didn't care for them. They were overly sweet and not very dynamic. I finally came across a gluten free cookie that was incredible, It did not have the height I was looking for, but the outside was crisp, the inside was chewy, they could bend without breaking into a million little crumbs and they were addictive. Best of all, they were not laden with 2 cups of sugar! Could this be real? It certainly was.

So as not to put too much stock in my own opinion, I made sure to have others try the various cookies I had baked. My roommate, my coworkers, my workout buddies...they all agreed that these were the best cookies hands down.

I used Chelsea's Messy Apron's recipe. I didn't even make any changes, it was that good! So I have re-blogged it, if you will. Thank you Chelsea for this delicious gem!

The Best Gluten -Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 7 minutes
Total Time: 17 minutes

  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 4 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter chips + chocolate chips, or nuts, heath bits, etc.
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a medium sized bowl stir together the peanut butter, honey, and brown sugar. Do NOT warm up the peanut butter or the honey.
  3. Add in the oats, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and vanilla extract. Stir well.
  4. In a separate bowl lightly beat the egg and then add it to the mixture.
  5. Stir in desired add-ins.
  6. The mixture will be thick and hard to stir. Continue stirring until combined and then use a cookie scoop to scoop out the dough. Press the dough very tightly in the cookie scoop to form the balls. Without a cookie scoop these tend to crumble.
  7. If not using a cookie scoop you will have to work with the dough a little bit more by squeezing it into a ball.
  8. Form the small balls onto a cookie sheet and bake for 5-7 minutes.
  9. Watch the cookies closely and remove when the bottom barely starts to brown even if they don't look completely done (they cook more as they cool). I burned a few cookies by not watching them - they look underdone and 30-60 seconds later they are burned! (TIP: I also found cooking smaller batches - like 6 on a tray worked the best)
  10. Remove and allow to cool completely.


Vegan Chocolate Silk Pie Bites

My roommate has a chocolate silk pie recipe that has literally been passed down for generations and it is unreal, but it also unfortunately has dairy in it. I attempted to make a suitable substitute (can't quite call it a replacement) by combining nuts and chocolate. It was a simple enough idea, but the final result was more like a truffle bite than a chocolate pie. They are rich and incredibly decadent, but they sure are good.

Vegan Chocolate Silk Pie Bites

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

  • 12 oz vegan chocolate chips, melted
  • 2 cups cashews, soaked in hot water
  1. Line a mini muffin tin with liners. In a food processor, process the cashews until they form a thick cream. With the machine running, add the melted chocolate chips. Scrape down the bowl and process until combined. Scoop small amounts into each of the prepared cupcake liners. Allow the bites to set in the fridge or freezer for at least 30 minutes. They can be eaten frozen, although they are great at room temperature as well. Store any leftovers in the freezer.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Almond Cardamom Waffles

Still in pursuit of delicious and different breakfast options, I was toying with a few different breakfast ideas when I came across a recipe for Perfect Vanilla Waffles. Although they looked delicious, I didn't have a few of the ingredients on improvised. I also felt that I had been overloaded by cinnamon, being October and all, so I picked another route to follow and combined almond and cardamom. Yum! 

Almond Cardamom Waffles

I put chocolate chips in mine. Yummy chocolate middle!

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

  • 1 cup almond milk, lukewarm
  • 2 tsp honey or agave
  • 2 tsp rapid rise yeast
  • 1 cup gluten free flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbs tapioca starch
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tbs almond extract
  • 2 tbs oil

  1. Dissolve the honey or sweetener in the lukewarm milk. Sprinkle the yeast over the top of the mixture and set aside for at least 10 minutes. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, starch, salt and cardamom. Add the almond extract and oil and whisk until the dough forms small granules. 
  3. Pour in the milk mixture and mix until just combined. Once everything has been mixed, set the batter aside for at least 20-30 minutes.
  4. Once your waffle iron is ready, spray it with cooking spray and pour on the batter. Cook until your waffles are a deep golden brown. Feel free to mix up the spices or add mini chocolate chips, nuts or dried fruit!

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Best Mediterranean Potato Salad of All Time

Moment of truth, I do not care for mayonnaise. It is not a favorite condiment of mine. That being said I also don't care for casseroles. Many of them taste fine, it's more the mystery of what they contain that deters me from digging in. They vary in density, consistency, and many other features, making them all in all far too variable for me to enjoy. I feel so much better for having gotten that off my chest. Now we can move forward.

For the longest time, I did not eat potato, egg, or chicken salad, because of their casserole-like qualities and the copious amounts of mayonnaise often used in their preparation. However, I now eat potato salad, and it is vegan, it is healthy, and it is mayonnaise free!

This potato salad is mustard-based, seasoned with fresh mint, parsley, salt and freshly-ground black pepper. It has a great consistency, and all of the ingredients are clearly identifiable.

Mediterranean Potato Salad

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

  • 4-5 medium red-skinned potatoes, rinsed, drained and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 cup green beans, cut into 2 inch long pieces and steamed until crisp and bright green*
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 2 tbs sliced marinated olives, I use kalamata
  • 1 tbs capers, rinsed and chopped 
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbs whole grain mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

  1. Boil water in a large heavy bottom stock pot over medium-high heat. Once the water is boiling, add your potatoes. Boil them until they are easily pierced by a knife, but are still firm, 10-15 minutes. Drain your potatoes in a colander and let them cool while you prepare the dressing. Do not run cold water over them to expedite this process. 
  2. While your potatoes are cooking, combine the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl and set aside. 
  3. Return the potatoes to the pot or to a serving dish. Add the green beans, chickpeas, parsley, mint, olives, and capers and toss to combine. Drizzle the oil and vinegar dressing over the contents of the bowl and toss until everything is lightly coated with dressing. You can serve this salad warm or chilled. 
If you like your green beans to be very crisp, then you can cut them and place them in the bottom of the colander. When you drain your potatoes, pour the hot water over the green beans. Once the potatoes have cooled slightly, return the green beans and the potatoes to the pot and proceed with the recipe. 

Adapted from Williams Sonoma

Fail Proof Kale Chips

I have read a lot of horror stories starring burned kale chips as the main villain. In an attempt to remedy this situation (and finish off a half a bunch of kale), I got to work in my kitchen.

My roommate had opened the fridge door, only to exclaim, "we still have a lot of kale left over. You should make kale chips." Sometimes, she can be so convincing, and with a suggestion like that, I couldn't find any reason not to. I had read of several different methods using the oven, but several methods had resulted in burnt chips. I tried a slightly different method, and I was very pleased with the results.

Fail Proof Kale Chips


Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour and 10 minutes

  • 1/2 bunch of kale, rinsed, dried, and cut in to 2 inch pieces
  • 2-3 tbs olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, or any of your favorite seasonings
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 F and line a baking sheet or two with parchment paper. After preparing your kale, toss it in a large bowl with the olive oil and sprinkle it with the seasonings of your choice, making sure that the kale is evenly coated. 
  2. Spread out your kale pieces so that they are not overlapping each other. You may need multiple baking sheets. Place your pan in the oven, and turn the oven off. Leave the pan in the oven for 20 minutes. 
  3. If you dried your kale very well, then your chips may be done after the 20 minutes, however, if they do not hold their shape just yet, then leave the pan in the oven and let your oven preheat to 425 F once more. Once the oven has preheated, turn the oven off again and leave the chips in for another 10 to 20 minutes, checking periodically to ensure that they don't burn.