Chocolate Chip-Pumpkin Blondies

I’m trying to pace my posts these days. After all, it won’t be long (I hope) before I actually join the 9-5 workforce, when testing 4-5 recipes a day is no longer a luxury. Then, I’ll wish I’d saved up some recipes to avoid the last-minute scramble for a post after a weeks-long hiatus.

All that said, these blondies were too good not to share right away. Like, today. Like, hours after I made them an devoured 3. I’ll justify my haste by reminding you all that pumpkin is at its peak of abundance right now. Come the new year, you’ll be circling the neighborhood grocery stores, desperately pulling away cans of sweet potato and butternut squash puree, hoping there’s a last, lingering can of pumpkin tucked away back there. I know that feeling all too well, which is why I’m taking full advantage of the overflowing shelves of pumpkin these days and want you to do so as well before it’s too late.

The best part about these blondies (ok, maybe second best — taste probably takes the #1 spot) is that they are pretty simple to make. I tried to stay away from too many ingredients, so I only used one type of flour in this recipe and no gums or starches. The pumpkin and yacon hold everything together very nicely. You can store these in the refrigerator for a few days, but I feel obligated to tell you (after all my previous hype) that they are really, really good slightly warm.

Pumpkin Blondies:

These blondies are chewy and moist. To make them a bit cakier, bake in an 8″ rather than a 9″ pan. I made my own sugar-free chocolate chips (I provied the recipe below as well), but you can feel free to use whichever chocolate chips you prefer in recipes, or you can chop up your favorite chocolate bar and use that. This recipe is a good option if you’re on a low-glycemic or anti-candida diet. But if you’re not, feel free to play around with other sweeteners, as yacon and stevia can be somewhat pricey (though the stevia, at least, will last you a long time). If using a different brand of stevia than NuNaturals, make sure to start with less and experiment with adding more to taste in the batter — I’ve found other brands in such high amounts overly bitter for my tastes.

1 1/2 cups brown rice flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup yacon syrup (you can experiment with agave, maple syrup or molasses here as well)

2 teaspoons NuNaturals vanilla liquid stevia (if you only have NuNaturals plain liquid stevia, add 1 tablespoon vanilla extract to the batter)

1/2 cup melted Earth Balance Buttery Spread

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

homemade chocolate chip/chunks (recipe below)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325.

2. In a small bowl, whish together flour, baking powder and salt.

3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together buttery spread, stevia and yacon until smooth. Slowly add dry ingredients and beat slowly until incorporated. Beat in applesauce and pumpkin until everything is just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

4. Turn out batter in a pre-greased 9×9″ or 8×8″ baking dish. Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until center bounces back slightly when pressed (will feel less done than a traditional cake — this is O.K.). Let cool about 15-20 minutes before slicing.

Homemade Sugar-free Chocolate Chips:

1/3 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon NuNaturals liquid vanilla stevia

Directions:

1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat until heated through, about 1-2 minutes. Add chocolate and stevia and whisk until shiney and smooth. Pour into a deep baking dish or parchment-lined container (the less shallow, the better — you don’t want the chocolate to spread too thin), cover and freeze for about 1/2 hours, or until completely hardened. Chop into pieces immediately before using.

Share

Cran-Apple Cornbread

Balance. I think it’s something we all strive for in our diets, though doing so can require constant work and attention. It’s not always easy to monitor our sugar intake while diversifying the color of our vegetables, or the types of protein we’re eating. After cutting animal products from my diet earlier this year, I’ve sometimes found myself over-doing it on the tofu, or eating too many grains. It’s not that a gluten-free, vegan diet is necessarily difficult for me, it’s just that it’s easy to fall victim to the allure of continuity and convenience. To me, being healthy means putting in the extra effort to diversify, to remain flexible. To be balanced. 

Perhaps more difficult to maintain than a healthy gluten-free, vegan diet has been my adherence to the Anti-Candida Diet. For those fortunate enough to not know about Candida overgrowth, you can read about it here. For those familiar with candida, its manifestations and its treatment, you know that treating an overgrowth can be a painstakingly long process requiring patience, perserverance, and even a little faith. One problem I’ve had with following the Anti-Candida Diet is that it’s so damn strict. No fruit (except lemon and lime). No grains. No sugar. No alcohol. No mushrooms. Nothing fermented. No caffeine. In addition to that, the diet can also be confusing. Depending on who you listen to, fruits are O.K. in moderation (wait, I though they weren’t?), whole grains are O.K., low glycemic sweeteners are O.K. sometimes. Are we following this?

Perhaps in part due to the confusion, in part due to sheer rebellion, I’ve been a less-than-stellar pupil of the Anti-Candida Diet. I’ve continued to drink coffee. I haven’t given up all fruits. I eat carbs. I drink wine on occassion. I spent a good year sweetening everything with agave (true, it’s preferable to sugar for these purposes, but it’s not necessarily ideal). While my diet has changed for the better since my blood results, it’s still far from perfect. Still, every time I try to commit 100% to the diet, I can’t help but think that by pressuring myself to be perfect, I’m sort of setting myself up for failure.

Balance. It’s the only way I think I can maintain a long-term adherence to this diet. I’m just trying to do the best I can. If I eat a carb-laden lunch, I’ll enjoy a light salad for dinner. If I eat something agave sweetened, I’ll limit my fruit intake for the day. And if I decide to make something with fruit these days, I try to make stevia my sweetener of choice (a good choice for anti-candida purposes). I’m taking this thing one day at a time, trying to make my health a priority (law school didn’t exactly make the latter very easy).

Trying to put my approach toward balance into practice, I developed this cornbread while craving something carby but not too sweet. It’s stevia-sweetened, speckled with lower glycemic green apples and fruit-sweetened dried cranberries. I found this combination unique and surprising, while the overall flavor was still reminiscent of a traditional cornbread. Best of all, it is easy, easy, easy to make this. One bowl. One skillet. No electric mixers. No gums or starches.

Any candida suffers out there want to share their successes, opinions or approach? I can only assume I’m not the only one who has struggled to be perfect, while falling short of that ideal.

Cran-Apple Cornbread:

1 1/4 cups Bob’s Red Mill Corn Flour (not cornmeal)

3/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill Brown Rice Flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoons sea salt

1/4 cup grapeseed oil

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 1/2 cups light coconut milk (shaken)

2 droppers (about 1/2 teaspoon) NuNaturals Liquid Vanilla Stevia

1 cup green apple, peeled and diced

1/3 cup fruit-sweetened dried cranberry

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder and salt. Add oil, coconut milk, applesauce and stevia and whisk until smooth. Fold in apples and cranberries until evenly distributed through batter.

3. Pour batter into pre-greased 9″ skillet. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until cake is firm to the touch and golden brown on top. Let cool on a wire rack for 25-30 minutes before slicing.

Share

Red Breakfast Quinoa

While health magazines and nutrition gurus will tell you that fiber-rich breakfasts like oatmeal are the key to keeping us full until lunchtime, it’s a rare circumstance with anybreakfast that I last beyond 10 a.m. without feeling lightheaded and woozy, needing a snack. It’s true that my low blood sugar plays an unwelcome role in this phenomenon. Gennaro can attest to this. He’s long been accustomed to the wrath of Beth without her snacks, and has since initiated a campaign to get me to carry them in my purse at all times, lest “Mama Beast” (an extension of the “Mama B” nickname I acquired when I became a mama to Woodley) rears her ugly head.

So while breakfast may, in fact,  be the most important meal of the day, it’s especially a priority for me. It sets the tone for the rest of my day. If I fail to remember Gennaro’s words of warning and find myself trapped — in a doctor’s office, a classroom — without snacks and between meals, a really good breakfast is all the reinforcement I have to back me up. Thus began my self-initiated challenge to find the breakfast that fills me up the longest before my next meal. For awhile, these breakfasts were savory, as fruit tends to spike my blood sugar in the morning, only catalyzing the inevitable late-morning crash (on that note, scrambled tofu with broccoli, tamari and brown rice was a great, make-ahead-and-heat-up option). But I soon longed for the idea of breakfast. I needed something breakfasty to go with my morning cup of coffee (also probably not a great help with the crash thing…but I’m working on that). Fried rice wasn’t doing it for me anymore.

When my brother and I were young, my dad had breakfast duty. This was nice for me, not only for the fact that my dad was a surprisingly decent breakfast-maker, but also because he was sport enough to play “talking Cinderella”  many mornings (for those curious, “talking Cinderella” was a modified version of  Cinderella, in which I was Cinderella and my dad — lucky him — got to be one of the evil stepsisters. The only difference was that we talked it all out, so as not to keep my dad from his breakfast duties). One of the most memorable items in the breakfast rotation was cream of wheat, especially once we discovered the chocolate stuff. Probably loaded with artificial flavors and tons of sweetener (this likely before my mom caught wind of what was on the label), my brother and I were too young to care and too mesmerized with the process of its creation that we seldom wanted anything else.  That, and the fact that we were — gasp! — actually allowed chocolate at breakfast.

For some reason this breakfast quinoa reminds me of cream of wheat. Maybe it’s the solid-absorbs-liquid parallel that so captivated me many years ago. Maybe it’s the creamy, sometimes grainy texture of the cream of wheat that I’m reminded of now. So, yes, there’s the nostalgia element here (I’m getting a lot of that lately, huh?). But — BONUS! — this breakfast quinoa meets my personal requirements for a balanced breakfast: fiber, nutrients, protein and more protein (almond butter and quinoa being two great protein sources). I’ve officially declared this my go-to for fending off Mama Beast days.

Breakfast Quinoa:

The recipe below is for single-serving portions. Simply adjust — double, triple, whatever — according to servings needed. I like this with just a dash of cinnamon, but it would be great with some dried fruit or fresh banana as well. You could definitely substitute regular quinoa for the red, but I prefer red here for its subtle nuttiness and crunchier texture.

1/3 cup dry red quinoa, rinsed well

2/3 cup water

1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (regular will work as well)

1 tablespoon creamy roasted almond butter

12-15 drops NuNaturals liquid vanilla stevia

a dash of cinnamon

Directions:

1. Add quinoa and water to a small pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Boil until quinoa has absorbed all of the liquid (keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn).

2. When quinoa has absorbed the liquid, add almond milk and bring to a simmer. Simmer until about half of the milk has been absorbed. Remove from heat and stir in almond butter until distributed throughout. Add stevia and adjust sweetness according to taste. Sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon and serve.

Share

Apple Cake

Having been born and raised in Michigan, and having lived there for 22 years, I’m well aware that there are plenty of reasons to love The Great Lake State. Still, every time I find myself saying “what? You never went to an apple orchard when you were a kid?!?!” to any of my east or west coast pals, I can’t help but move “apple orchards in the fall” to the top of my list of reasons to love my home state (as a side note, I usually get a similar reaction from people when I tell them I’ve never been to Disneyland. Or world.). As some of my midwestern readers might attest (and those New Yorkers who aren’t too cosmopolitan to leave the city every once-in-awhile), a day at the apple orchard, especially in the company of family and friends, is a pretty cool experience.

The Versical family take on this fall tradition usually involved a goal. After all, the Hungarian in my mother was not content to waste a day frolicking amongst the apple trees and sipping hot cider. We had quotas, people. Bushels to fill, winter supplies to stock up on (the same went for blueberry and raspberry picking, but we’ll stick with the orchard theme for the sake of staying concise). Inherently, sauces, pies, and baked apples were a mainstay in our household at least through the remainder of the fall, if not through the remainder of the year.

As I write this, I’m becoming a bit nostaligic remembering this part of my childhood. It’s traditions like these that we don’t really appreciate until they’re no longer a tradition but a memory. And my mom’s apple pie is yet another thing I wish I’d appreciated more when it was a mainstay, rather than a rarity (pies post-alleries have been a bit more elusive).

So, when I made this cake and wafts of sweet, apple-scented air floated from the oven, I was overcome with something much more than hunger. A montage of orchard memories filled my head. Images of my mom hovering over the oven poking apples as they bubbled away, filled with cinnamon and sugar and raisins. Then I thought of Halloweens carving pumpkins with my dad in the garage, Thanksgiving day parades in downtown Detroit.

Perhaps it’s the recent marriage that has me wondering things like whether I’ll be able to create such great fall memories for my kids. Having married the biggest Michigan football fan in, well, history (I would say I’m exaggerating, but I really, really don’t think I am), I’m sure our memories will be a bit more football-heavy. But I do hope there are orchards. Pumpkin patches and pumpkin carving in the garage. Jumping in a huge pile of freshly raked leaves (incidentally, my dad sent me the above cartoon clipping a few years back, and I can’t help but think of it now). Finally, I hope I’ll do half the justice to apples as my mom did with her baking.

This apple cake is just a start, but a good one. I’m always happy to have out-of-town visitors so I can really test-run some of my baked goods. Not that I didn’t already really like this cake. It’s just that a second opinion is always nice. So when an out-of-town guest — fittingly, a childhood family friend — seemed to enjoy it as much as my allergy-restricted self, I deemed it safe for sharing. Of course, this cake will work just fine with regular apples from the market, but will be all the more memorable with apples hand-picked during a day at the orchard with family. Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Apple Cake:

This recipe makes 1 9″ cake. It’s awesome served warm with a scoop of vegan vanilla ice cream.

1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill Brown Rice Flour

1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour/Meal (Trader Joe’s almond meal will work, too, but yields a slightly more dry cake — still good!)

1/4 cup tapioca starch/flour (they’re the same thing)

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 cup Earth Balance Buttery Spread, melted, plus more for greasing pan

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 teaspoon NuNaturals Vanilla Liquid Stevia

1/4 cup water

1 medium apple (I used honeycrisp), peeled and sliced very thin

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flours, xanthan gum, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and ginger. In a separate bowl, mix melted buttery spread with liquid stevia. Stir in to dry mixture. Add applesauce and water and stir until smooth. Batter should be a little bit thicker than a regular cake batter.

3. Arrange apple slices around the bottom of a pre-greased 9″ cake pan or pie pan until covered. Pour in batter and spread evenly over apples, all the way out to the edge of the pan. Use fingers to pat down and smooth out the top. Bake cake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for about 20 minutes before turing out onto a plate.

Share

Gluten-Free Chocolate Beet Cake

The. Bar. Is. Over. I don’t care if I don’t pass; I never, EVER want to take that thing again. That’s all.

On a bright note, everything after taking the bar exam seems relatively easier. I was delayed at Laguardia for 9 hours on Sunday before flying to Michigan. But I relaxed in that tiny, little Delta terminal as if it were Bora Bora, with not a care in the world (um, OK…I may be exaggerating a bit here. I did start to get a little cranky around hour 5). If it doesn’t involve sitting on a hard chair for 7 hours spewing out what’s remembered of the 165,000 laws once crammed through your brain, I’m a happy camper — even if that means a happy camper camping out at an airport filled with unhappy campers and crappy airport food.

But the best part of being done is that I can finally cook again!!!!! Toward the last hour of the exam, ideas started swirling in my head of all the different recipes I wanted to try. Raw oatmeal cookies. Baba Ganoush. Dandelion Pesto. Focus Beth, you still have 15 questions to go! That’s how much I’d been missing my tiny, little New York kitchen. My version of a therapists’ couch.

Now that I’m back living with my parents for a few weeks before the wedding (to start, rather than finish, my involvement in the planning process) my options are limited to what they have in the fridge, since I don’t have a car here. Two beautiful, cooked beets later, I came up with this moist, delicious and rather healthy cake. So no, I haven’t gotten to the raw oatmeal cookies or the Dandelion pesto (I did make a really nice eggplant dip last night that I’d love to post soon), but I was pleasantly surprised with this yummy cake.

I tried to make this one as low in fat as possible. But I figured a little coconut oil never hurt anyone. This one’s also sweetened only with stevia. It’s actually on the not-so-sweet side, almost like a muffin sweetness-wise but with the texture of a fudgy chocolate cake. For those with sweeter sweet tooths, please feel free to add a few (maybe about 5) more drops of stevia. On that note, I’m adamant about using NuNaturals Vanilla Stevia. It has a wonderful flavor and never gives off that dreaded, bitter taste. You could certainly make a nice frosting for this one, but I think it’s perfect with a scoop of Purely Decadent Vanilla Ice Cream. Pure Heaven — and that’s not just my post-bar bliss talking.

Chocolate Beet Cake:

2 medium-sized beets, boiled and peeled, chopped

1/2 cup water

1 cup applesauce

1/2 cup light coconut milk (shaken)

1/4 cup coconut oil, liquified

1 teaspoon plus 5 drops NuNaturals liquid vanilla stevia (plus another 5-10 drops for a sweeter cake)

1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Garbanzo-Fava Bean Flour

1/2 cup potato starch (not flour!)

1/2 cup good quality cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon celtic sea salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325.

2. In a blender or food processor, puree beets with water until smooth, like the texture of a really thin applesauce. Measure out 1 cup of the beet mixture and add to a mixing bowl. Whisk in the applesauce, coconut milk, coconut oil and liquid stevia. Set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining (dry) ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until everything is just incorporated.

4. Grease a 9 x 1 1/2″ round cake pan with a little coconut oil. Pour in batter and spread until smooth on top. Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for about 15 minutes before slicing.

Share

Sugar-free, Vegan Chocolate Mousse

When one imagines the many ways they might spend a rare, few hours of free time — catching up on trashy reality T.V., perhaps; exploring a new neighborhood; sitting at a coffee shop while people-watching and reading the paper — I suspect spending an hour-and-a-half at the DMV in midtown Manhattan is not one of the things that first comes to mind. Nevertheless, that is precisely where I found myself this morning, looking to exchange my expired Michigan license for what has turned out to be quite the elusive New York card. First, it was the realization that New York requires — no exceptions — a valid, original social security card. I couldn’t find mine (thankfully, it’s since been recovered. Phew!) Then it was the quite demoralizing rejection when I finally reached the front of the line this morning, where I was informed that that I need a letter from Michigan confirming the date my first license was issued, since Michigan doesn’t have a date of issue on the actual license. Ugh. Fighting back tears (yes, real tears — I take my free time very seriously these days) I sighed and walked out with my head down, both frustrated and defeated.

While it was only a minor hurdle in an otherwise good day (I found out that my grandpa — Opa — was free to go home from the hospital today. Yay!) it was nevertheless enough to make me want to run to the nearest ice cream shop (in my case, the nearest vegan ice cream shop) and pig out. That’s what us girls do when we’re stressed, right? (To be fair, I suppose there are guys who do so, too, though I know Gennaro would reach for a beer rather than an ice cream in such situations. Then again — to be fair — I suppose there are girls who would go for the beer, too. But me? I’m all about the pity party ice cream).

Then I heard Jillian’s voice in my head again (see: crushed lentil soup post). I could feel her shaking her head at me as I was en route to Stogo (the aforementioned vegan ice cream shop). You finally get to see what your ab muscles look like and you’re going to throw it all away because of a botched trip to the DMV? I could hear her talking me out of it (not only am I near-crying in public places now, I’m also having internal dialogues with a trainer I’ve never met. Yep, in case you were wondering, studying for the bar really will make you crazy). But ohhhh, how wonderful a big scoop of chocolate ice cream sounded — how could such a wonderful indulgence not melt all my troubles away?

After a few more minutes of crazed internal dialogue, I made a compromise by deciding to tackle an at-home mousse — a sensible solution, don’t you think? Perhaps I’m not going crazy after all…

Chocolate? yes. A little (healthy) fat? Yes. But sugar and carbs were not invited to this party. My newfound friend, NuNaturals vanilla liquid stevia is the star of this show. And, since I’ve been craving cherries for some reason lately, I topped it off with a few fresh slices (and a few toasted almonds, just ’cause). It’s all very “Cherry Garcia” — without the wrath of your personal trainer (or not-personal celebrity trainer you’ve never met), that is.

Serves: 2-3 very comfortably; double for a crowd (or for a really bad day)

Vegan Chocolate Mousse:

1 12-oz. package Mori-nu extra firm silken tofu at room temperature*

1/4 cup coconut oil, liquified

1/4 cup good cocoa powder, unsweetened

1/2 teaspoon NuNaturals liquid vanilla stevia**

Directions:

1. Over a double boiler, heat coconut oil, cocoa powder and liquid stevia until warmed through and shiny.

2. Add mixture to a blender with silken tofu and blend until smooth.

3. Pour mixture into a bowl, cover, and let set in refrigerator for at least an hour, the longer the better. Serve alone or topped with your favorite fruit, nut or other healthy treat.

* It’s important you use this brand because — as far as I know — it’s the only brand that’s packaged so that the tofu is safe to be out at room temperature. It’s equally important that you use room temperature — rather than cold — tofu because otherwise the coconnut oil will harden before it’s blended into the mousse, which is never a good thing, unless you want chocolate chip mousse.

** Use NuNaturals. My mom reported the dreaded “stevia bitterness” after using a different brand.

Share

Vanilla Frozen Yogurt

The next few months are going to be an exercise in simplicity and restraint. Simplicity because I don’t have time to make elaborate — even borderline complicated or time-consuming — meals. Restraint because creating new dishes and spending time in the kitchen is my passion.

I had heard that studying for the bar exam would be like a full-time job. Somehow I thought I would be able to post as often as I’ve been posting — even cook almost as often — on the side. I’m beginning to think I was wrong. So, I’m going to try to show a bit of restraint in the coming months. I’m really trying to make this my first and last bar exam. Therefore, for the next few months, less recipe-creating and more quick, easy and healthy recipes to get me through the summer. This is one of those recipes.

This two-ingredient frozen yogurt recipe is vegan, gluten-free and sugar-free. It’s a wonderful, healthy and filling summer dessert, with probiotics, fiber, protein and Omega-3s. At first I was a bit hesitant to post a recipe for yogurt that calls for two things: 1) yogurt and 2) sweetener. Can we say duh? But then again, some of my favorite “recipes” are not recipes at all but rather ideas I never thought of: the idea of strawberries stuffed with peanut butter that I found on this site, or Mario Batali’s “asparagus a la plancha,” which is really just asparagus rubbed in olive oil, cooked over a skillet and lightly salted. Next time you’re craving something slightly sweet and healthy, try this quick and simple yogurt topped with fresh, summer berries.

Frozen Yogurt:

1 24-oz. container unsweetened, plain Wildwood Probiotic Soyogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla-flavored liquid stevia

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, stir together yogurt and stevia until incorporated.

2. Turn yogurt mixture out into ice cream machine and turn on machine.

Share

Rhubarb Cobbler

Please forgive yet another week’s lapse in posting. I was struck — rather swiftly, actually, so the word is appropriate — with a fierce case of food poisoning. Or the flu. Or food poisoning. Or the flu. Well, I still haven’t been able to figure out what it was, and I guess I’ll never know. But the point is my kitchen got a nice break from me for the week, as I only passed through a few times a day to refill my cup of ice chips. And by passed, I mean stumbled. Yep, I was pretty much a zombie; a scary sight, indeed. But now that my appetite’s (just about) back and better than ever, I’m starting up where I left off last week. I’m experimenting with rhubarb recipes.

As a side note — and as someone who does not like waste — I must say it was quite disheartening discarding the rotting food I had bought during the beginning of last week — food that was left to waste away in the fridge, as I was wasting away in bed. Of course, I could have instructed Gennaro on how to prepare my intended meals for himself only, but that would have required energy, of which I had none.

I made this cobbler tonight for my family (my parents and grandparents are in town for my graduation). Actually, I prepared and baked it earlier today and tested some of it myself (not wanting to make my family members guinea pigs yet again). I thought it was delicious, and I’m not always easy to please with desserts. It was crispy on top and the filling was nice and sweet and flavorful. Plus, the cardamom really goes nicely with it. I was so pleased with the final result that I couldn’t wait to serve it to my family. But being that by the time we were done with dinner and getting home, it was getting a bit late for certain members of our constituency to be eating dessert. So I did something stupid. I heated the oven to 300 and stuck the cobbler in there to heat up, trying to speed up the process. When I went to check it again about 15 minutes later, it was dry and, it seemed, overcooked (as I had not undercooked it the first time around). Despite my assurances that “it was soooo good when I tried it earlier,” I feared every one’s endorsement of my new dish would be less-than-enthusiastic. Still, I received generally good remarks and thumbs-up. I guess, in the end, I figured an overcooked and dry version of the cobbler being still pretty tasty would mean the cobbler-at-its-full potential was worthy of a full posting.

Cobbler Filling:

5 cups rhubarb, chopped (about a pound, give or take a few stalks)

2 teaspoons NuNaturals vanilla liquid stevia (use 1 1/2 teaspoons if you like a more tart filling)

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

2 tablespoons potato starch

Cobbler Topping:

3/4 cup sorghum flour

1/2 cup potato starch

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/3 cup Spectrum Organic Shortening

1/2 cup light coconut milk

1/4 teaspoon NuNaturals vanilla stevia

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. In a large bowl, toss rhubarb, stevia, cardamom and potato starch until combined. Turn out into 2-qt. baking dish and set aside.

3. In another medium-large bowl, whish together flour, potato starch, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, salt and cardamom. Add shortening and, using fingers, break up into flour mixture. In a small bowl, whisk together coconut milk and stevia and add mixture to contents of larger bowl. Stir to combine. When topping comes together, drop in equally sized pieces, a few inches apart, over the filling.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, until filling is bubbly and topping is golden-brown.

Share

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Well, I’ve had my ice cream machine for a few months now and the novelty has yet to wear off. I’ve been making ice cream so much that I get antsy waiting for the bowl to re-freeze between batches. I’ve learned — and this info might be of use to others with a Cuisinart machine — that it takes over 24 hours for my bowl to freeze completely (even though the instructions say about 4-12 hours). That’s a whole day without making ice cream, which is quite the test to my patience (but probably for the best).

I know my posting has been a bit spotty lately. Trust me, I’ve been cooking, I just haven’t had much time to share my recipes. The transition from law school to the real world and wedding planning have taken on toll on my free time, which usually consists of posting here. But fear not, I have a lot of recipes in the arsenal that are waiting to be shared.

My blog posts also suffered a bit of a setback due to a broken computer. Not a broken computer as in low memory, slow performance, a damaged hard drive, or any of that. I mean, I literally opened it up one day and the screen just collapsed and parts started falling out. It had had enough, I guess. May I just add that it is not cheap to be technologically “with it” these days? A few months ago the screen on my phone shattered. A few hundred dollars later, I had a new phone and a new, more expensive plan. Same with the computer. I’m pretty sure they design these things to have a short shelf life. There must be some pre-programmed directions telling our electronic devices to break down after a certain period of time so that we have to go out and spend more money. Oh, well.

I’ve been on a mint kick lately. I just LOVE fresh mint. I’ve been putting it in my smoothies with frozen strawberries, Chocolate Greens Superfood Powder, soy or almond milk and a few drops of vanilla stevia. It’s so delicious — and a great energy boost! But the mint really makes it special. I’ve also been putting fresh mint into my salads. Stay tuned for a tabbouleh recipe with fresh mint this weekend or early next week. This mint chocolate chip ice cream recipe is made with agave, but the chocolate chips are actually made with the NuNaturals vanilla stevia in order to reduce some of the overall sugar. I’m usually try not to mix sweeteners in recipes (just one less ingredient to have to worry about), but here, I think the agave improves the texture and creaminess of the ice cream, and the stevia adds a nice hardness to the chocolate. I took a tip from Ricki Heller over at Diet, Dessert and Dogs and added some carob powder to the recipe to cut some of the bitterness of the stevia. You can always experiment with other sweeteners if you’d like.

Finally, I hope you all are enjoying the new site design. I tried to keep the general feel the same while making the interface a bit more user-friendly. I’m still working on some things (I am definitely not a coding aficionado, by any means) but I’m hoping you’re liking the look in the meantime.

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream:

1 13.5-oz. can light coconut milk

2 teaspoons potato starch

1/3 cup agave nectar

1/4 cup fresh mint, minced, tightly packed

Chocolate Chips:

1/4 cup coconut oil, liquified

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tablespoons unsweetened carob powder

1/2 teaspoon vanilla stevia

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, whish together coconut milk, agave and potato starch until starch is dissolved into mixture. Add in mint. Pour mixture into ice cream machine and turn on.

2. Meawhile, whisk together all ingredients for the chocolate chips until smooth. Set aside.

3. After ice cream has had about 10-15 minutes in the machine — or until the mixture has begun to freeze — slowly drizzle in the chocolate mixture. The coconut oil will harden the chocolate as it hits the cold ice cream, so it should break up into tiny little chips as it goes in. You may want to test with a small amount first just to make sure ice cream is cold enough.

4. After you’ve added the chocolate, continue to run machine until ice cream comes together to desired consistency. Serve.

Share

Strawberry Scones

As hard as this may be to believe, there was a point in my life when my sweet tooth was virtually non-existent. Sure, I’d enjoy the occassional tiramisu at an Italian restaurant, or ice cream on a hot summer day. But generally, I didn’t enjoy sweets. I was one of those savory-over-sweet at brunch people; I’d prefer to eat more for dinner and not save room for dessert. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that I probably went months at a time without eating anything sweet.

Then a funny thing happened. I was diagnosed with food allergies. Suddenly, every time I saw a chocolate chip cookie, I wanted it. Every ice cream cone taunted me, each piece of cake at a wedding. Let me tell you something: nothing kicks a sweet tooth in gear like thinking you’ll never be able to eat anything sweet again. I was desperate to re-create everything I couldn’t eat, and developed my newfound sweet tooth in the process.

Despite liking things a bit sweeter these days, I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for the not-too-sweet, biscuit-like scone —  the perfect end to a meal for sweet tooths and non-sweet-tooths alike. I love just about any kind of scone, but drop scones are an easy, almost foolproof, quick baked good. These scones are also quite healthy. They’re made with whole grains, and sweetened with just stevia. I’m loving NuNaturals liquid vanilla stevia for baking. When I wanted to start baking more with stevia, I bought a bunch of different varieties and have been trying them all to see what I like (since I haven’t always been the biggest liquid stevia fan). I think this brand is definitely a good bet if you’re looking for nice flavor and less bitterness than you might expect from a liquid stevia. It may seem a bit on the pricey side (and it is, compared to many refined sugars), but remember that since it’s vanilla flavored, you won’t have to worry about paying for pricey vanilla extract. And since a little goes a long way (only 1/2 teaspoon for these scones), it will last you for several recipes.

I decided to make these today to celebrate the start of strawberry season, and to celebrate my last day of law school. Ever. Which means, today was my last day of school. Ever (I’m not counting Bar review classes here, of course…because that would just be no fun).  So here’s to the beginning of a season, and the end of an era.

Strawberry Drop Scones:

Yield: 8-10 scones

1 cup sorghum flour

1/2 cup potato starch

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1/3 cup Spectrum organic shortening

1/2 cup plus 2-3 tablespoons light coconut milk, shaken, plus more for brushing

2 tablespoons agave nectar

1 dropper NuNaturals liquid vanilla stevia (plus more to taste)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk flour, potato starch, xanthan gum, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add shortening and crumble into dry ingredients with hand. Add coconut milk, stevia and lemon zest and stir with a spoon until everything comes together. If batter is dry, add additional tablespoons of coconut milk one by one until it comes together. Fold in strawberries.

3. Drop scones by 1/4 cup measurements onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Lightly brush tops with coconut milk. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until golden.

Share