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Bringing Home the Bakin'

bake my cake and eat it, too

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Fall is undoubtedly my favorite season.  Typically, each fall brings visions of beautifully colored leaves, cool, crisp air, and the delightful smells of caramel apples and pumpkin spice everything.  This fall, however, I was also awaiting what seemed to be the biggest decision of my life, so far — would I be accepted to Teach for America?  Much stress ensued, and anyone in my “inner circle” knows that baking has always been my stress relief — so one thoughtful friend brought over the ingredients to make these healthfully indulgent fall treats (Thanks Julie!). I’m proud to share that I was accepted (!!!) and was lucky enough to celebrate with these delicious pumpkin cinnamon rolls.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls (Vegan and Lower Calorie) – Modern Mom

Yields: 6 pumpkin cinnamon rolls

Ingredients:

Dough:

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. vegan butter spread, room temperature, plus more for greasing pan
  • ¼ cup Almond milk
  • ½ tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup + 2 Tbsp. pumpkin puree

Filling:

  • 1 Tbsp. vegan butter spread, melted
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice

Frosting:

  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. vegan butter spread, room temperature
  • Seeds from 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 ½ tsp. almond milk, plus more if needed to reach desired consistency

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Line a cake pan with parchment paper, grease paper and pan with vegan butter spread to prevent sticking.

In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, blend vegan butter spread, pumpkin puree, almond milk and vinegar until smooth.

Add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl, half at a time; gently mix until combined being careful not to over mix the dough.

On a generously floured surface (flour the rolling pin too!) roll the dough into a rectangle ¼ inch thick. Cut the edges of the dough with a pastry cutter or knife into fairly straight lines. The approximate size of the rectangle should be 8 inches wide, by 14 inches long, and ¼ inch thickness.

In a small bowl mix together the brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice.

In another small bowl, melt 1 Tbsp. of vegan butter spread, and brush evenly over the top of the dough.

Sprinkle the sugar spice mixture over the dough, leaving a ½ inch border along all sides of the dough.

Starting on a smaller side of the rectangle, the 8 inch side; gently roll the dough into a log. Cut into 6 equal size pieces.

Place cinnamon rolls into the greased cake pan.

Bake for approximately 16 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the vanilla bean frosting. Mix together the powdered sugar and earth balance.

Cut a vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Use a knife to scrap out the seeds of each half, placing the seeds into the mixing bowl. Add 1 tsp. of almond milk and mix until seeds are evenly distributed throughout the frosting. Add ½ tsp. at a time of almond milk until you reach the desired consistency. I like the frosting on the thick side so I only did that one time.

When the pumpkin cinnamon rolls are done baking, spread the frosting evenly over the tops of each roll, and serve.

*Tip: Reheating cinnamon rolls for leftovers takes about 10 seconds in the microwave.

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With classes starting on Tuesday, and the Jewish New Year following shortly afterward, I couldn’t think of a more relevant ingredient to include in my baking this weekend than the apple.  This apple cake was so delicious — sweet in the best of ways and homey in every sense of the word!

Mom’s Apple Cake — Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients: 

  • 6 apples, Mom uses McIntosh apples
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 3/4 cups flour, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tube pan. Peel, core and chop apples into chunks. Toss with cinnamon and sugar and set aside.
  2. Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, sugar and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ones, then add eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.
  3. Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Spread half of apples over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean.

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This past week has been filled with celebrations for my family.  My younger sister went to Prom and graduated from high school, and my older sister celebrated her birthday.  With these celebrations came lots of fun, family time, and most importantly… food.  To get “back on track” after everyone’s diets were derailed, I decided to prepare a guilt-free dessert to satisfy any sweet tooth in a healthy way.  These personal-sized raw coconut cream pies are every bit as delicious as the “real deal” but left us feeling nourished and satisfied!  Although the recipe says to defrost the pies, we all enjoyed them most when eaten frozen — they taste almost like ice cream sandwiches!

Raw Coconut Cream Pie with Dark Chocolate Crust

Prep time: 10 Minutes
Yield: Makes 12 Personal Size Pies

Crust Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup Raw Cashews or Macadamia Nuts
  • 1/2 Cup Shredded Plain Coconut
  • 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 2 Tbsp Agave
  • 2 Tbsp Cocoa
  • Dash of Salt

Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 Cup Coconut Cream (*Refrigerate a can of coconut milk for 24-48 hours and skim thick, white milk from the top, leaving remaining oil at bottom of can)
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Oil
  • 3-4 Tbsp Agave
  • 1 Banana
  • 1/4 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Directions:

  1. Place crust ingredients in your food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Spray a muffin tin with a healthy, non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Evenly press dough down into muffin tin.
  4. Place in the freezer.
  5. Place all filling ingredients in a separate food processor bowl (or washed bowl) and blend until smooth.
  6. Remove crust from freezer.
  7. Evenly top crust with coconut cream filling.
  8. Place in the freezer and let set for 2-3 hours.
  9. Remove from freezer and let thaw for 10-15 minutes before serving (depending on the texture you choose).
  10. Feel free to top these with coconut whipped cream and/or shredded coconut.

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This variation of tabbouleh incorporates complete proteins quinoa and farro, so it is not only a perfect summer side dish, but also this tabbouleh can serve as a satisfying meal for vegans and vegetarians.  I served my salad over a few romaine leaves for some added crunch!

ML Tabbouleh — Cafe ML (Bloomfield Hills, MI)

Ingredients for tabbouleh:

  • ½ cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup farro
  • 1 English cucumber, small diced
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, small diced
  • ¼ cup Spanish onion, small diced
  • ¼ cup flat leaf parsley; rinsed and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons minced chives

Directions for tabbouleh:

Bring quinoa, pinch of salt, and 1 cup to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes until quinoa is tender. Remove from heat and let covered quinoa rest for 5 minutes; fluff with fork and cool on baking tray. In a medium saucepan, cover farro with water. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes until farro is tender. Cool on baking tray.

Ingredients for lemon vinaigrette:

  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoons minced shallot

Directions for lemon vinaigrette:

For the vinaigrette, place shallot, garlic, champagne vinegar, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Season vinaigrette with salt and fresh cracked black pepper. In a large bowl, combine the cool farro, quinoa, cucumber, tomato, onion, flat leaf parsley, and chive. Mix well. Season with salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Dress the salad with lemon vinaigrette to taste.

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Although it isn’t the prettiest cake I’ve ever made, this raw chocolate ginger frosted cake is really something to celebrate.  It is so healthy (high in protein, fiber, omega-3s, vitamins, and minerals) yet it doesn’t sacrifice any flavor.   I’d highly recommend this cake to any chocolate lover looking to satisfy their sweet tooth with a healthier alternative to the more traditional chocolate cake.

Raw Chocolate Ginger Frosted Cake:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almonds
  • ¾ cup walnuts
  • ¼ cup raw cacao powder
  • ¼ tsp high quality sea salt
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 3 Tbsp coconut nectar (can replace with maple syrup… NOT agave)
  • 5 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Grind the almonds, walnuts, and cacao in a food processor until it resembles bread crumbs. Add the sea salt, ginger, coconut nectar, dates and vanilla and mix again until you achieve a smooth texture. Press the mixture into a 9 x 5 inch rectangular glass baking dish.

Chocolate frosting:

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup avocado flesh
  • 3 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 2 Tbsp raw cacao powder
  • ¼ cup coconut nectar (can substitute with maple syrup… NOT agave)

Directions:

For the frosting, put all the ingredients for frosting in the food processor, or vitamix, and blend together.

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It’s no secret that everyone has taken to “hating on” Gwyneth Paltrow lately.  Whether they are  secretly jealous of Gwyneth’s vastly successful career as both an actress and budding chef/cookbook author, envious of her slender frame and glowing complexion, or are genuinely offended by various statements made by Paltrow, the sentiment is the same: they don’t like her.

Being an avid foodie, I was quick to purchase her new cookbook, It’s All Good, even despite the common criticisms.  Gwyneth Paltrow promises to make you “Look Good and Feel Great” by following her “delicious” and “easy” recipes that grace the pages of her New York Times Best-Selling book.  Anything that promises even a shred of her physique is enough for me!  Needless to say, I’ve been working my way through this cookbook and I could not be more impressed… everything I have made so far has been delicious, healthy, and surprisingly easy.  This combination of Lee’s Chopped Vietnamese Salad and Salmon with Lee’s Sriracha + Lime was perfect for a summer evening.  So, for all the haters, try out this new cookbook and I guarantee you’ll be biting your tongue…

Lee’s Chopped Vietnamese Salad – Gwyneth Paltrow, It’s All Good

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 large bok choy leaves, rough bottoms discarded, stems cut on the bias into 1/4-inch pieces, and leaves shredded
  • 4 big leaves napa cabbage, shredded
  • 1 bunch of watercress (discard thick stems), roughly chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • leaves from about 8 sprigs each of basil, mint, and cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 small cucumber, thinly sliced on the bias
  • 1 red thai chili (or more… or less), thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup roasted, salted peanuts or cashews, roughly chopped
  • vietnamese dressing

Directions:

Toss the bok choy, cabbage, watercress, carrot, herbs, cucumber, chili, and 1/4 cup of the nuts together with enough dressing to coat.  Serve sprinkled with the remaining nuts.

Vietnamese Dressing – Gwyneth Paltrow, It’s All Good

Makes about 3/4 cup

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons raw honey or xylitol
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced red onion or shallot

Directions:

Mix everything together.  Keeps well in a jar in the fridge for up to a week.

Salmon with Lee’s Sriracha + Lime – Gwyneth Paltrow, It’s All Good

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • zest of 1/2 lime
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Lee’s Sriracha (I used store-bought, and it was still delicious!)
  • 1 tablespoon good-quality maple syrup
  • coarse sea salt
  • 1 1/4 pounds salmon filet, skin discarded
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pickled ginger (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Whisk together the lime zest and juice, Lee’s Sriracha, and maple syrup alone with a pinch of salt.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, place the salmon on top, and pour the mixture over it.  Roast until the salmon is done to your liking — I like it when it’s just cooked through and begins to flake, about 15 minutes, depending on the thickness.  Serve sprinkled with cilantro (and ginger, if using).

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This dish was beautiful.  Its perfectly browned exterior looked fantastic on the table, alongside my Mom’s homemade stuffing, and my Grandma’s plump turkey. Unfortunately, this dish did not provide much more than eye candy to my family’s Thanksgiving dinner.  Being a fennel AND parmesan cheese obsessive, I had such high hopes for this dish.  Upon taking the first bite, though, all I could taste was salt, and I’m pretty sure my family felt the same way; although they were too kind to tell me of my culinary mishap, I could tell by the sad looking remainders on each and every plate that their tastebuds concurred.

I’m so grateful that my mom later remade this dish and had better results, re-instilling my faith in Ina Garten. My mom made some significant changes, though, but was VERY happy with the results.  To improve the dish, she did not salt the fennel, she did not use cheese in the crumb mixture, she added artichoke hearts, and she replaced the panko crumbs with homemade seasoned italian breadcrumbs. Also, to insure that the bread crumbs were as crisp as panko crumbs can be, she placed the dish under the broiler for the last few minutes of cooking.

If anyone else tries this recipe, please let me know how it turns out!

Fennel Gratin – Ina Garten, Foolproof

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium fennel bulbs
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup panko (Japanese bread flakes)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove the stalks from each fennel bulb and discard.
  2. Cut the bulbs in half lengthwise through the core. Remove most (but not all) of the core by cutting a V-shaped wedge, leaving the wedges intact. Cut each piece into 2, 3 or 4 wedges, depending on the size of the bulb.
  3. Arrange the wedges, cut side up, in a gratin dish just large enough to hold them snugly in a single layer.
  4. Pour the chicken stock and wine over the fennel, then sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of salt and 3/4 teaspoon of pepper. Dot with the diced butter.
  5. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the fennel is tender.
  6. Remove from the oven and raise the oven temperature for 425 degrees.
  7. Meanwhile, make the topping. Combine the melted butter, panko, Parmesan, parsley, zest, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Sprinkle evenly on top and return to the oven.
  8. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, until the topping has browned. Serve hot or warm.

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