Category Archives: Desserts

Easy Baked Blueberry Lemon Doughnuts

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Everyone’s been feeling a little off lately. The USA seems upside down, we’re all biting our nails to see what pops up next on the news.

We say, what the world needs now is DOUGHNUTS. I means, seriously, why not? Nothing like some baked comfort to put a smile back on your face, at least for a few minutes. This recipe is easily made gluten-free and/or nut free, and has no added salt or oil. If you omit the glaze, I’d argue it’s borderline “not-bad-for-you” as doughnuts go. And because we all need things to happen fast, we used Bisquick as the base, so you can pick any kind of Bisquick (regular, heart-smart or gluten-free) at your local supermarket. Don’t have a doughnut pan? No biggie, make these in a muffin tin. The recipe is flexible, so if you don’t have blueberries, use chopped strawberries, blackberries, raisins or dried cranberries. They’re all tasty!

Go ahead, indulge in some doughnuts. We all need a delicious reason to smile right now.

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Easy Baked Blueberry Lemon Doughnuts

2 cups Bisquick (any kind, we used gluten free)

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. ground cardamom

pinch ground nutmeg

1 1/2 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk

1/3 cup maple syrup

2 tsp. vanilla

zest of one lemon

1/3 cup fresh blueberries

 

Glaze (optional)

1 cup powdered sugar

2 Tbs. lemon juice

1 Tbs. unsweetened non-dairymilk

 

Preheat oven to 425. In large bowl, combine all dry ingredients: Bisquick, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and nutmeg. Stir and make a well in the middle. Add all wet ingredients, non-dairy milk, maple syrup, vanilla and lemon zest. Stir until smooth and fluid. Fold in fresh blueberries.

Spray a 12-doughnut mold (or muffin pan) with non-stick spray. Divide batter evenly and bake 16 to 18 minutes, until doughnuts are puffy and baked through. Allow to cool in molds for 20 minutes before flipping out onto a cooling rack.

If using glaze ~ When doughnuts are cooled to room temperature, combine glaze ingredients, powdered sugar, non-dairy milk and lemon juice in a small bowl with a whisk. Pour glaze evenly over doughnuts and serve immediately. Store in fridge, if you have any left!

 

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Pumpkin Pie (or why I married my husband)

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Every family has their own holiday traditions. Some traditions are very specific, others are broadly accepted and personalized by everyone. Pumpkin pie is one of the latter for sure. Everyone has a memory of pumpkin pie, right?

Nathaniel’s family, most of whom are in Tennessee, have this wonderful tradition of pies. His grandmother gave him pumpkin pie and home made crust recipes when he was in high school.  It became the dish everyone asked him to bring for the holidays. His secret to heavily requested pumpkin pie: using fresh pumpkin.  There was a 3-acre pumpkin patch on his  family’s farm, so he started using fresh pumpkin.  Not the canned stuff you buy at the grocery. But real, fresh pumpkin.

I think this is one of the reasons I married Nathaniel. His off-the-hook pumpkin pie. No joke! A million years ago, he walked into the college photo lab carrying a homemade pumpkin pie he baked himself. Schwing! And I mean seriously homemade ~ the crust was hand-rolled; the pumpkin was grown at home and baked to the perfect sweetness. Nathaniel’s pies are the real deal. Until you have a real homemade pie with non-canned pumpkin, you just haven’t lived a full life.

As I type this, Nathaniel is in the kitchen right now toiling over his annual batch of Thanksgiving pumpkin pies. In addition to the ones he makes for us, he now has to make several for my grandmother. She adores his pies. She starts asking for them in August, except she calls them “punkin.”

So for the first time ever, here is Nathaniel’s pumpkin pie recipe. It is not difficult, but it is time-consuming. And worth every second! Makes two pie fillings. Recipe is gluten-free and there are gluten-free pie crust recipes listed below.

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Nathaniel’s Pumpkin Pie

4 cups fresh cooked pumpkin**(see notes below on cooking pumpkin)

9 tsp. Egg Replacer in 3 Tbs. warm water (we used Ener-G – equivilent of 8 eggs)

1 cup sugar (we use Florida Crystals)

1 pint vegan vanilla creamer (soy, almond, coconut)

2 Tbs. arrowroot starch

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
pinch ground cloves
pinch ground nutmeg

2 pre-baked vegan pie crusts (**suggestions below)

Mix egg replacer and warm water. Combine pumpkin, sugar and non-dairy creamer in a large bowl. Add all dry ingredients and mixed egg replacer. Mix together in a blender, with a mixer or by hand, and pour into pie crusts. Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees. Turn oven to 350 and bake for an additional 30-35 minutes, until crust is golden brown. Sprinkle cinnamon on top and chill before serving!  It sets up best if you chill 8 hours or overnight.

The Dirty Hippie reminds me to tell you all that it’s also good with crushed & toasted almonds on top or the coconut whipped “cream.” Or to mix things up, add a handful of chocolate chips into the batter before baking. If you can’t find pumpkins to bake, you can also use butternut squash or sweet potatoes in the same ratios for this recipe.

**How to Cook Fresh Pumpkin: For two pies, you will need 3 sugar pumpkins or a large baking pumpkin, such as a cinderella or cheese pumpkin. Scoop out the innards of the pumpkin and slice flesh into palm size chunks. Place flesh side down in baking dish half full of water. Bake in the oven for 60 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool, then peel off the skin or scrape out flesh with a spoon. You are ready to make pie or you can freeze the pumpkin and use it later! We use freezer bags with 4 cups each. Leftover cooked pumpkin is great in soups, curries and smoothies. Oh – and don’t forget to save and roast your pumpkin seeds! They’re a great source of protein, fiber, calcium and magnesium.

**Vegan Pie Crust: Baking a crust before the pie is called blind baking. You can use a pre-made crust from the grocery store for this recipe. (Be sure to check the ingredient list for lard.) You can also make a homemade crust. Here are links to some vegan pie crust recipes. Choose any one you like and be sure to blind bake it before you start the pies! We use 2 cups of GF flour, $ Tbs. Earth Balance and enough ice water to moisten, a few teaspoons. Our dough is a little crumbly because it’s gluten free.

Minimalist Baker

Savvy Vegetarian

Oh  Ladycakes

Gluten Free Girl

The Blender Girl

 

Almond Orange Cookies

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Easter and springtime are almost upon us. Actually, the spring equinox just passed, and Easter is in four days! And usually, this time of year, we  post a treat for the holiday – typically some sort of candy we’ve tried to make-over with less junk in it.

How about cookies instead? Doesn’t everyone love a cookie? These cookies are easy to make and have bright, sunny-day flavor. They are also gluten-free and will make a fine addition to any spring brunch buffet or afternoon teatime over the holiday weekend. (Let’s be real – we’d eat these anytime!)

almondcookie_lrAlmond Orange Cookies

1 1/2 almond meal flour

2 Tbs. arrowroot starch

1/2 cup vanilla almond milk

1/4 cup sugar

2 Tbs. canola oil

1 tsp. orange extract (or use vanilla extract)

zest of one orange

1/8 cup sliced almonds, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350. Line two cookies sheets with parchment paper or silcone baking mats.

Mix dry ingredients, almond meal and arrowroot in a large bowl. In a second bowl, combine wet ingredients, almond milk, sugar, canola oil, orange extract and orange zest. Whip wet ingredients together, then pour into dry ingredients. Stir together until well combined and smooth. Be sure no lumps of almond meal remain.

Drop  by tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets, leaving room for cookies to spread slightly. Top each cookie with a pinch of sliced almonds.

Bake at 350 for 12 minutes until set up and lightly browned at edges. Allow to cool on baking sheet for 10 more minutes before moving to a cooling rack. Makes about 20 cookies.

Baked: Tiramisu Gingerbread Sandwich Cookies

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When I was  a college student at NYU in the early nineties, tiramisu was all the rage. Funny thing, I believe plenty of folks are still raging over the traditional Italian treat. It’s usually a casserole-ish dessert made with ladyfinger cookies, coffee, mascarpone cheese and chocolate with some kind of liquor for accent. Different sources site different booze as the “traditional” variety- rum, amaretto or marsala wine. Really though, wouldn’t any one of them be delicious?

Over the years, we’ve had various vegan tiramisu desserts, all of which were wonderful. But it’s usually a messy dish and not portable, especially for sharing at the holidays. So we decided to give it a new spin. Why not a cookie sandwich?  And why not with a little holiday flavor? Our version uses a chocolate gingerbread cookie and has a vegan cream cheese filling, with coffee and amaretto extracts. So you’re getting all the usual tiramisu yum, but it’s easier to hold in your hand. Um… it might be a little itsy bit messy, though we suspect you will welcome the chance to lick your fingers!

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Tiramisu Gingerbread Sandwich Cookies

Dry ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

2 1/2 tsp. ground ginger

2 tsp. cinnamon

pinch ground cloves

pinch ground allpsice

pinch ground nutmeg

pinch salt

 

Wet ingredients:

1/3 cup non-dairy milk (we used soy milk)

1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

1 Tbs. ground flax meal

2 Tbs. warm water

1/3 cup molasses

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. instant coffee powder

1/2 cup vegan margarine, softened to room temperature (we use Earth Balance)

 

Filling:

4-oz.  vegan cream cheese, softened to room temperature (1/2 of a container, we used Toffuti)

3 Tbs. vegan shortening (we used Spectrum)

2 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp. arrowroot starch powder

1/3 tsp. coffee extract

1/3 tsp. amaretto extract

 

Decoration/Optional:

melted chocolate, chocolate covered espresso beans, as desired

 

Preheat oven to 350. Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper or reusable silcone baking mats; set aside.

In a small dish, stir together non-dairy milk and apple cider vinegar. Set aside to curdle into “vegan buttermilk.”  In a large mixing bowl, stir together flax seed meal with warm water; set aside to congeal as this will be the binder.

Sift together dry ingredients in a second bowl.

In mixing bowl with flax seed and water, add molasses, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, instant coffee powder, softened vegan margarine and curdled milk/vinegar. Whip together with electric beaters until smooth. Add dry ingredients and combine until just mixed; do not overwork or cookies will become tough.

Form into 1 -tablespoon scoops on prepared cookie sheets. Bake at 350 for ten minutes; allow to cool for 15 minutes on cookie sheet before transferring to a cooling rack. Makes about 40 cookies.

Before filling the cookie sandwiches, cool the cookies completely.

To prepare filling, whip together room temperature vegan cream cheese and shortening with an electric mixer or stand mixer until fluffy. Add powdered sugar and mix on low, so it doesn’t poof all over your kitchen. When powdered sugar is moistened, turn power to medium or high, and combine thoroughly. Finally add arrowroot powder, coffee extract and amaretto extract. Whip filling until all ingredients are smooth and incorporated.

To assemble cookies as in the photo, dip 20 cookie bottoms in melted chocolate and allow to cookie. Top the other 20 cookies with a dollop of filling. Nestle a chocolate-dipped cookie onto the filling, chocolate-side down. Drizzle the top with more melted chocolate in any pattern desired and place a chocolate-covered espresso bean into warm drizzle.

Allow all chocolate to set/cool before serving. Store in fridge – if you have any left long enough!

Need a shortcut? Skip all the melted chocolate and just smear filling between too cookies. It’s still tasty, just not as pretty. Or chocolatey!

Cook’s Notes: Don’t know how to melt chocolate? We use a double boiler method. Basically, we place a glass bowl on a saucepan filled with water. Place of low heat and add chocolate to the glass bowl. The chocolate should never touch the water or steam – it will seize and you’ll have to start over again. Stir frequently until chocolate is smooth and velvety.  This also works in the microwave, using just a glass dish. Microwave on low power a minute at a time, stirring between each heating until smooth.

Wondering why we used coffee and amaretto extracts? In a test, we found that the extracts had more concentrated flavor for the filling. Adding more liquid with real coffee and amaretto made the filling too runny. Feel free to experiment, though!

Sweet Summer Squash Bread

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It’s that time of year… summer squash is plentiful and you’re looking at a pile of it right now, trying to figure out what to do with all those little yellow cuties. We recently ended up with a bunch of summer squash from our friend Alicia, who only has one squash plant in her yard. And yet, she had more squash than she could handle!

We took some home and came up with Sweet Summer Squash Bread. You can say it’s sweet because summer is sweet or because the bread is sweetened. Or both! Basically, we remade a zucchini bread recipe to be more, well, blonde. Just like our friend Alicia, who is also blonde!

Enjoy the bread and hope you find lots of fun ways to use up your summer squash – you know, besides all those endless stir-fries!

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Sweet Summer Squash Bread

1 cup grated summer squash

1/2 cup applesauce

3/4  cup sugar

3/4 cup non-dairy milk (we use unsweetened almond milk)

1 lemon, zested

1 tsp. vanilla

1  cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp.  baking powder

1/2 tsp, baking soda

pinch salt (optional)

pinch cinnamon

1/2 cup golden raisins (optional)

 

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a loaf pan with non-stick spray and sit aside.

In a large bowl, combine applesauce, sugar, non-dairy milk, lemon zest and vanilla. Sift in all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Fold in grated summer squash and golden raisins.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake 45 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cook’s Notes: Want to try this another way? Add a pinch of ginger or nutmeg instead. Or instead of golden raisins, go with chopped almonds, dried cranberries or walnuts. Some summer squash has tougher skin;  you may want to peel it if that’s the case. The same goes for larger summer squash with big seeds. If your squash is seedy, so to speak, scrape the seeds before grating.