vegan chocolate mint milkshake.

I have a treat for us today! As you may know, I’m not a sweets person. Give me chips over cake any day of the week. There are exceptions. Growing up, before I learned of my dairy allergy, I LOVED milkshakes. I have fond memories of my younger brother and I making milkshakes in my mom’s house with her blender that was from 1972. Vanilla low-fat ice cream (hey, it was the 90s), skim milk, chocolate syrup… YUM. I’ve always been a super thick milkshake girl.

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The other day, I caught the milkshake craving. Since regular milk and ice cream haven’t graced my lips in over a decade, but I suddenly remembered that I had a vegan “ice cream” hanging out in my freezer from about a month ago when my friend brought it over. Any vegan and/or non-dairy frozen “ice cream” dessert will work for this, but the brand I used is here. I find that it has the best consistency; soy or coconut-based is fine. I used a 2:1 ratio of the frozen treat and cashew milk, a splash of vanilla extract, and a few springs of fresh mint, and gave it a whirl. The fresh mint is essential, as it provides such freshness. Don’t like mint? Try almond extract and a scoop of almond butter, or even peanut butter!

Even though non-dairy ice cream can be icy/not as lusciously creamy as traditional ice cream, adding in the nut milk yields an incredibly thick, creamy shake. Good news? One 8 ounce glass is under 200 calories! Now THAT is a dessert I can totally get behind.

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vegan chocolate mint shake.
a ‘PTL’ original. 

ingredients
1 pint of coconut or soy-based chocolate ice “cream”/frozen dessert
1 cup unsweetened cashew milk (or non-dairy milk of your choice)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3-5 fresh mint leaves, plus 4 for garnish

directions
Add all ingredients except for reserved mint leaves to a high speed blender. Blend, starting on medium speed, increasing to high. Blend for 1 minute, adding up to 1/4 cup additional cashew milk if needed/desired.

Divide between four glasses. Garnish each with a mint leaf. Serve immediately.

 

 

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meyer lemon poppyseed loaf.

I’ve been ALL about meyer lemons this winter. Normally quite expensive, I’ve been finding bags of them for $2 at Trader Joe’s. So affordable, that they’ve currently replaced regular lemons in my morning warm water and lemon juice routine! I’m sure that’ll stop once they fall back out of season, but I’ve been relishing their sweet, bright, charming flavor as much as I can. One way I’ve done that is use them in this spin on lemon poppyseed bread.

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If you’ve never had meyer lemons, well, you’re in for a real treat! They are a cross between regular lemons and mandarin, and have a lovely, bright yet sweet lemon flavor. If you cannot find them, you can certainly just use regular lemons, and maybe swap up some of the lemon zest and juice for orange. That would be divine!

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As with most quick breads, this is definitely better the next day. To store, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and then foil. Enjoy a slice with your coffee or tea!

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meyer lemon poppyseed loaf.
slightly adapted from NY Times Cooking. 

ingredients
1 cup coconut palm sugar
3 tablespoons zest; two-three meyer lemons
1/2 cup buttermilk (can sub in 2% yogurt)
3 tablespoons fresh meyer lemon juice
3 eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon poppyseed
2/3 cup grapeseed oil

directions
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 8-inch loaf pan.

In a bowl, combine lemon zest and sugar and rub with your fingers until it looks like wet sand. Whisk in buttermilk, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, vanilla and eggs. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk dry ingredients into the batter, then whisk in oil and poppy seeds.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean, about 45-1 hour, checking after 45 minutes. If top begins to brown too quickly, tent with foil. Let cool in pan until warm to the touch, then turn out onto a baking rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Turn cake right side up, and let cool completely before slicing.

Best when served 1-2 days after making.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible** 

zucchini lemon cookies.

Two dessert recipes in a row! I’m not sure what has gotten into me, but I kinda like it. Granted, desserts tend to be a touch more time consuming then putting together a salad or pizza, but I assure you this cookie recipe is easy, can be done without an electric mixer, and comes together in under 30 minutes, prep and baking time included!

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These are cake like in texture — a soft and buttery base and a pillowy texture. They reminded me of a yeast free British tea cake. The addition of lemon zest and juice make them undeniably bright and fresh with a slight vegetal undertone of the zucchini. These are great for your garden’s surplus of this super versatile vegetable! Serve with a latte or tea for an afternoon snack, or even breakfast. I won’t tell!

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zucchini lemon cookies.
adapted from Food52 cookbook.

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ingredients
2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of coarse sea salt
1/2 cup of unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 cup of shredded/grated zucchini

directions
Preheat oven to 350 degree. Line a baking sheet with parchment or aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and whisk. Add the zucchini and lemon zest and juice until well combined. Add the flour mixture in thirds, mixing until just combined. Do not over mix or over beat if using an electric mixer.

Spoon rounded tablespoons on to the baking sheet. Bake for 16-18 minutes. Let cool for 1-2 minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a cooling rack.

Keep in an airtight container. Makes 24 cookies.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible** 

chocolate almond yogurt loaf cake.

I was in the rare mood to bake recently, and since I’m trying to eat healthy, I decided to make this as a gift. You see, my aunt recently passed away unexpectedly, so I thought I would make something to take over to my grandparents. Food is such a comfort to many of us, and since I know my grandparents (my grandmother in particular) are dessert people, I thought this was the perfect opportunity. Hello, chocolate almond cake.

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Although it is 2016, I STILL bake with all manual tools; i.e., no fancy mixer for this girl! Give me a bowl, a spatula, and my arms, and I’m good to go! A mixer would probably make my life easier, but because I don’t do a whole lot of baking, I just can’t justify. Yet.

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If you’ve been a reader of mine for a while or have perused the (admittedly skimpy) desserts sections, you’ll know how much I love a pound-inspired cake. I say pound-inspired because I rarely if ever cook a true pound cake. That would be a super special indulgence! This cake is rich and have an unexpected flavor boost from the addition of the almond extract. If you don’t like or can’t eat almonds, simply swap out for vanilla or a flavoring extract of your choice! Peppermint, raspberry… let your imagine run wild! You could even add in nuts to the batter of this cake if you wanted, I just decided to keep it simple this time. Serve with an espresso and a good book. Delectable!

chocolate almond yogurt loaf cake.
adapted from epicurious.com. 

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ingredients
1 3/4 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened dutch processed cocoa powder
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cup coconut palm sugar (white is also fine)
1 cup plain 2% greek style yogurt
1/3 cup brewed coffee, cold or at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 eggs
1/3 cup blanched, sliced almonds – optional

directions
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Spray pan with non-stick cooking spray, then dust with cocoa powder, shaking to remove excess.

Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a bowl. Whisk yogurt with coffee and almond extract in another bowl and set aside. Beat butter with sugar in a large bowl using a whisk (or an electric mixer at medium speed) until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, whisking or beating after each addition. Add half of flour mixture. Add yogurt mixture, then remaining flour mixture, mixing until just combined. Batter will be very thick.

Transfer batter to pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 50-55 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 15 minutes, then turn out onto rack to cool completely.

Makes one loaf. Serves 6.

**Please use all organic ingredients wherever possible** 

my favorite banana bread.

There are about a zillion banana bread recipes out there in the blogosphere. And even more stowed away in homemade recipe books, on index cards, or haphazardly written down from memory in an effort to recreate your great-grandmother’s recipe. I’ve tried just about all of them, and have finally settled on my favorite version of this beloved bread. It’s incredibly simple, and I *always* have all the ingredients on hand whenever I’m faced with a surplus of bananas, and allow a few to turn almost overripe in preparation to make this delicious bread.

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No shame, I can polish off an entire loaf all by myself in just a few days. It’s just so good! The best part about breads like this (and especially banana bread) is that the flavors meld together and intensify over a few days post-baking. I can barely make it to day 3, but I encourage you to do so! You’ll thank me.

This is delicious to take to a friend, or invite one over and share it with some coffee or tea. There is a reason banana bread is such a classic. Enjoy!

banana bread.
adapted from Williams Sonoma. 

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ingredients

1 2/3 cups all purpose, unbleached white flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 very ripe bananas, peeled
2/3 cup coconut palm sugar
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

directions

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda.

In a large bowl, smash the bananas with a fork. Add the sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla and beat with the wooden spoon until well blended.

Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture and stir just until blended.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly with the wooden spoon. Put the pan in the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out with just a few crumbs clinging to it, about 45 -50 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes, and then transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let cool for at least 30 minutes.

To store, wrap tightly in cling wrap and then wrap again in foil. Keeps for about a week. Makes one loaf.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible** 

 

flourless chocolate cookies with peanut butter chips.

The holiday season would not be complete without everyone’s favorite dessert: cookies. Cookie swaps, cookie trays at gatherings… Christmas time seems to be the de facto holiday for cookies. And for good reason! There are tons and tons of cookie recipes out there in the blogosphere, but I’d like to add just one more… a gluten free cookie, no less! My mom is coming to visit next week for the holidays, and since she has Celiac disease, I’m always on the lookout for GF versions of her favorite foods.

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When I was a kid, one of my favorite cookies was the chocolate batter cookie with the peanut butter chips. Mmmmm. I could tear through a dozen of those no problem. I think it still comes in the mix that my mom used to use, but these are even easier and are relatively healthy to boot!

I tried this recipe with both crunchy style peanut butter and smooth and although both are edible, I definitely recommend the smooth; it results in a more moist cookie. I used natural style PB, but just make sure to stir in any excess oil before measuring out if any has gathered on top of your jar. I tend to like Wegmans organic, and very little oil ever accumulates on the top so I didn’t need to stir mine before using. Be careful not to over bake these – if they look a little underdone when they come out of the oven, that’s ok. They’ll firm up as they cool. I happened to like these even more in the subsequent days after baking – the texture was less crumbly somehow.

I hope you try these out – they’re great for an option for anyone avoiding gluten and they keep ridiculously well, about a week in an airtight container. And who doesn’t LOVE chocolate and peanut butter?? Happy Holidays, friends!

GF chocolate cookies with peanut butter chips.
barely adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

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ingredients

1 cup natural style peanut butter
1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup raw, unsweetened cacao powder (I like this one)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup peanut butter chips
1 large egg

directions

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg. Add the peanut butter, brown sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder and vanilla. Mix everything together until smooth. Add in peanut butter chips and gently fold in.

Scoop the dough into 1.5 tablespoon-sized balls onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Gently press the dough balls with the back of a spoon to slightly flatten. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and then transfer to wired cooling rack. Once cool, store in airtight container for up to one week.

**Please use all organic ingredients wherever possible**

carrot pound cake with olive oil + cider.

I’ve said it before, but I’m not one for desserts. I like a good sweet bread, maybe a slice of pie here and there, but that’s pretty much it. You’ll rarely if ever see me joining in on the office birthday cake or ice cream. Just not my thing. However, I love pound cake. It’s like this delicious cross between bread and a cake, and can be made with just about anything. They are also pretty hard to screw up, if you use the classic ratio of 1:1:1 (eggs, flour, butter). As tempting as that classic recipe is, I still want to fit into my clothes, so lucky for me there are tons of recipes out there that lighten up the pound cake. This particular recipe turns carrot cake on its head and make it a pound/loaf cake. Carrot cake reminds me of my mom; there is bakery here in town, Cheesy Eddie’s that makes the most fantastically decadent carrot cake EVER. She used to buy me a small, personal sized one for holidays – a little heart shaped cake for my birthday or for Valentine’s Day. That cake is so moist, perfectly spiced, not too sweet, and that tangy cream cheese frosting… I am salivating just thinking about it! Of course I can go there whenever I’d like, but my waistline and purse would hate me for it.

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Enter this alternative. This recipe enticed me because it’s devoid of the ‘extras’ that many people put in their carrot cakes: raisins, walnuts, pineapple (in carrot cake?? shudder.) and the like. I like carrots and spices, thank you very much. I was also intrigued because this cake replaces the butter or neutral cooking oil with olive oil and uses only brown sugar. Of course, I have so much apple cider in my house (I really went wild with the fall/apple activities this year!) that any recipe with ‘cider’ is going to capture my attention.

This recipe is courtesy of Deb over at Smitten Kitchen. Her recipe archives are ridiculous, both in their thoroughness and their organization. She had a link to it one of her recent recipes, and it sounded so good, I just knew I had to make it. Thankfully, I was NOT disappointed. It is chock full of carrots and the combination of cider, cinnamon and olive oil provide a slightly sweet and moist cake. I upped the amount of cinnamon the second time I made it and the change is reflected in the recipe below. This is definitely a dessert that is best enjoyed the day after baking; it allows the flavors time to meld and intensify. I like it plain, but toasted with butter and honey? FORGET ABOUT IT.

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carrot pound cake with olive oil + cider.
barely adapted from smitten kitchen. 

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ingredients

2 1/3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups grated carrots
2 eggs
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup cloudy apple cider
1 teaspoon pure vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a loaf pan with non stick cooking spray or olive oil. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir together until well blended.

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs with olive oil, cider, brown sugar and vanilla. Stir in grated carrots. Slowly incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mixing together until just combined and no flour bits remain.

Pour into loaf pan and bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake. Let rest in the pan for 20 minutes after baking. Remove from pan, and cool on a cooling rack until room temperature. Wrap in foil and keep in a plastic bag. Will keep for a few days, freezes well.

Serve plain or with honey and butter.

Notes: This bakes for about 60-70 minutes, so I like to make it on the lower rack in my oven to prevent too much browning on the top.