Category Archives: food gifts

Chocolate Marbled Banana Bread

Nearly everyone I know loves banana bread.  And chocolate.  And who isn’t fascinated by a marbled baked-good?!  When I saw this recipe on the PPK (Post-Punk Kitchen) the other day, I actually started wishing my bananas would hurry up and get over-ripe.  Which for me, is when the spots start to appear.   My beautiful slightly green bananas granted my wish and soon became spotted and then became delicious work of (vegan!) baked art.

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Grab those over-ripe bananas and a few other ingredients and create your own edible art.

ingredients

  • 1 cup mashed very ripe banana  (about 3 bananas)
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 TBSP canola oil
  • 1/3 cup almond milk (or your preferred non-dairy milk)
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 6 TBSP boiling water, divided

Preheat oven to 350F and lightly oil a 4×8″ loaf pan.  Put water on to boil.

Peel and mash bananas.  Measure before placing in a mixing bowl.

mash and measure the bananas

Add milk, sugar, oil and vanilla.  Mix until well combined.

add vanilla sugar milk oil

Add flour, salt and baking soda.  Mix until JUST combined.  If you still see a bi of flour, that’s ok.  Be careful to not over-mix.

add dry

mix til moistened

Measure and scoop out one cup of this mixture and transfer to another bowl.

remove 1 cup

In a small bowl, dissolve the cocoa powder with 3 TBSP boiling water.  Stir vigorously with a fork until smooth.

dissolve cocoa

Add the dissolved chocolate into the one cup of banana mixture.  Mix until completely smooth and combined.

add cocoa to 1 cup mix

Add 3 TBSP boiling water to the original plain banana mixture.  Mix until mostly smooth.

add boiling water to plain mix

Scoop alternate “1/2 cupfuls” into the oiled loaf pan.  I used a large “spoonula” to mix each batter and just used those to scoop out each mixture.  Have fun and place the two different batters into the pan in a random fashion.  The randomness will help you make the groovy swirls!  Here are my layers as they built up.

layer 1

layer 2

layer 3

layer 4

layer 5

When all the batter is in the pan, use a butter knife or wooden skewer to swirl through the batter in a circular motion for about 10 seconds.

swirl

Bake 55-65 minutes.  Check for doneness by inserting a skewer or butter knife into the center of the loaf.  It’s done when a few moist crumbs cling to the skewer.  Cool in the pan on a rack until you can handle the pan without an oven mitt, then turn the loaf out to cool completely.

bake and cool

Now comes the oooooooo-ahhhhhhh part:  Cut 1/2 inch slices and watch the ever-changing, swirled banana bread art present itself.

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No need for a spread–moist and flavorful on its own.  Freshly cooled, this bread has a nicely crisp crust; after storage, it softens.

I went to the store today looking for bananas past their prime.  Alas, none to be had.  I bought the least ripe ones which are now in a paper bag on the counter.  Can’t wait to make another one of these beautiful and yummy breads!  I highly recommend you make one for yourself and keep the recipe in mind for the next potluck or food-gifting occasion.  Perfect!

The PPK is my go-to site for fabulous vegan recipes.  The recipes are easy to follow and written with just the perfect amount of humorous snark.  Isa Chandra is not your Mom’s Betty Crocker.  Click on over and see for yourself!

 

 

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Filed under breakfast, comfort food, dairy-free, dessert, food gifts, Potluck, recipe, snack, vegan, Vegetarian

A Sweet Valentine’s Day Collection, Part 2

Here’s last year’s Valentines Post with new vegan options to make for your sweetie!

Remember making valentines in grade school?   Hearts made from doilies, pink and red construction paper, stickers, some Elmer’s glue and a bit of glitter.  Valentines are still fun to make–the paper kind and the chocolate, or decadent ice cream kind!  I’ve gathered up a yummy collection of recipes from Somethin’ Yummy for you to make for your valentines, including yourself.  ❤

Vegan Valentine Truffle-O-Rama

Serve these yummy vegan truffles frozen!

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Vegan Chocolate Mousse Pie

Rich and silky.  A house favorite!

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Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

Chocolate-y and spicy.  A lovely tender and yummy vegan cupcake for your sweetie.

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Vegan Triple Chocolate Cupcakes

Almost brownie-like, let a few mini chocolate chips melt on top instead of frosting!

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Easy Chocolate Truffles.

Your valentines will love the rich, melty chocolate and the cute, cute toppings!

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Red Velvet Cupcakes, Poppers and Trifles

Such a classic flavor and the perfect color for Valentine’s Day!

cupcakes poppers trifles

Chocolate Shortbread Cookies (Gluten-free version, with instructions to adjust for regular flour.)

These melt-in-your-mouth cookies have a wee bit of pepper in the batter.  OMG, so, so yummy!

perched on coffee cup

Flourless Chocolate Cake

This rich, dense cake is simple to make and quite the “Ta-Da” dessert.

pwdered sugar

Decadent Dark Chocolate Tart with Gingersnap Crust

Chocolate bliss spiced up with ginger.

chocolate tart

Sweetheart Chocolate Waffles

A perfect Valentine’s Day breakfast, and super yum with ice cream in a Sweetheart Sundae!

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Chocolate-Covered Salted Caramels

A bit of effort, but so, so worth it!

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Carol’s Frozen Mango, Raspberry and Vanilla Mosaic

A superbly yummy treat if chocolate just isn’t your Valentine’s Day desire.  Drizzled in raspberry liqueur for extra valentine-y-ness!

carols mosaic

Still not finding something to your liking?  Type dessert or cookie or cake in the search window for more sweet ideas!  Have a yummy Valentine’s Day!  Be my Valentine?!

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Filed under comfort food, dessert, food gifts, Holiday foods, recipe

Vegan Valentine Truffle-O-Rama

Truffles.  THE decadent candy.  Butter and sugar and flavors coming together in the perfect proportions to create a melt-in-your-mouth sinful candy experience.  But I’m vegan, I whined.  Will I need to turn my back on my dietary preferences and REALLY sin?  turns out, no!  Just in time for Valentines Day, a vegan truffle appeared in my Facebook feed, compliments of VegNews Magazine and the Healthy. Happy. Life. blog at lunchbox.com.  Cake Batter Truffles.  Who doesn’t love cake batter?!  A quick pantry check revealed everything I needed to make these exquisite little yummies.

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The original recipe said it made 9 truffles.  Seemed hardly worth the effort, and I was worried it wouldn’t be enough to process properly, so I doubled the recipe.  Then I decided that chocolate and espresso might make this even more of a party; why not make half of them mocha?!

ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 5 Tbsp liquid sweetener (I used agave)
  • 4 Tbsp non-dairy milk, warmed
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • a couple pinches of pink salt
  • sprinkles of your choice–1 tsp to fold into half, the rest to coat the truffles
  • 2 TBSP cocoa powder (optional–amount is enough to flavor half of this truffle batch)
  • 2 tsp espresso powder (optional–amount is enough to flavor half of this truffle batch)

Start by soaking your cashews in enough water to cover them by an inch.  At least a few hours, overnight is best.

When cashews have soaked, melt the coconut oil over low heat.

melt coconut oil

Combine cashews, coconut oil, agave, non-dairy milk, vanilla, and salt in a food processor.

everything in the processor

Process until silky smooth.

process until smooth

If making two flavors, divide into two seal-able containers that will fit into your freezer.

divide into containers

Fold in 1 tsp sprinkles in one container, fold in cocoa and espresso powder into the other.

sprinkles in one choc and espresso in the other

Most of the sprinkles melted into my cake batter-flavored half.  The resulting pink hue was not a problem as I wanted them for Valentines anyway.  Freeze until firm enough to form into balls, but not too stiff.  I found the mocha truffle half firmed up quicker and was much easier to work with.

stir to combine

When firm, work quickly to scoop the truffle mixes and form into balls.  (The heat of your hands will melt them a bit.)  Quickly roll in sprinkles and place in an oiled pan.  This pan will need to fit into your freezer as well.

scoop and roll in sprinkles

scoop choc and roll in sprinkles

Once again, freeze until firm.  The cake batter ones slumped a bit; not affecting their yumminess at all.  😉

birthday cake truffles

chocolate espresso truffles

Serve frozen.  Pack into cute little Valentine tins with mini-muffin liners if you choose.  I shop the after-Valentines sale for these sorts of things and stash them away for the following year.

Valentine your truffles

 

ready to pack in tins

 

 

Valentines

Use the tin’s lid to trace a heart-shape onto parchment paper.  Cut out inside your pencil line for a clean heart that will fit perfectly over the truffles, inside the lid.

parchment paper

Continue packing and then place tins and all back into your freezer to wait until Valentines Day.

packing another tinpacked and reaady for the freezer

Who wouldn’t want a cute little tin of vegan truffle-love for Valentines?!

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The cake batter truffles have a coconut-y flavor to them that would marry well with lots of other flavors besides mocha.  Let your imagination loose and think about what flavor YOUR sweetie might enjoy, and truffle on!  Get all creative with sprinkles as well–cocoa powder is classic for chocolate truffles, but what about toffee bits or chopped nuts or powdered sugar, or ….. ?!

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Filed under dairy-free, dessert, food gifts, Gluten-free, Holiday foods, recipe, vegan, Vegetarian

Celine’s Krumkake

A krumkake is a traditional Norwegian Christmas cookie cooked on a special griddle and then rolled into a cone shape.  They are beautiful, delicate, crisp and lightly seasoned with cardamom.  You can fill them with whipped cream or custard or whatever sounds yummy to you, but my Mom never did, so I don’t either.  As much as my sister and I loved these, It might be that Mom didn’t fill them because they were gone before she had a chance!  Mom made piles of krumkaker (the plural of krumkake) every Christmas along with other Scandiavian yummies like lefse, kringla, rosettes, and aebelskivers.  She had a little sign in her kitchen the stated “Tis a blessing to be Norwegian;” a sentiment I must agree with, especially whenever there are treats like these around!

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To get started, you’ll need a krumkake iron and cone form.  I don’t remember where I got my original iron that sits on a stove burner, but I bought my electric one at a local kitchen store.  Both can be found online, and having used both, I’m preferring the electric iron.

2 kinds of irons

Then, gather up a few things for a simple batter and you’re ready to go!

ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 TBSP corn starch
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom

Lightly beat the eggs,

beat eggs

and then add sugar, starch, flour, vanilla and cardamom.  Stir to combine.

mix eggs sugar starch flour cardamom and vanilla

Then add the melted, cooled butter.  (The butter should still be liquid, just not so hot as to cook the eggs!)

add butter

Stir to a smooth batter.

mix til smooth batter

Heat iron according to the manufacturer’s directions, and spray lightly with spray oil.

spray iron with oil

Place 1 TBSP of batter near the center of the heated iron for a 4-inch krumkake, or 2 TBSP for a 6-inch krumkake.  This recipe will make 1 1/2 dozen 6-inch or 3 dozen 4-inch krumkaker.  I used a 1 TBSP cookie scoop to place my batter on the iron.

2 TBSP for a 6 inch krumkake

Close the lid and press lightly to distribute the batter.  One of the coolest things about the electric iron is that you don’t have to turn it over while cooking like you do with the stove-top iron.  Love it!

close and press to distrubute batter

Check after a minute to see if the krumkake is the shade of brown you like–I like mine fairly light.  See how this krumkake has gotten outside the patterned section of the iron?  Too much batter.  I used a wee bit less better for the next ones and ended up with prettier cookies, but they’re yummy no matter what!

cook til desired brownness

When ready, remove from the iron using a fork or small spatula, and place on a paper towel.  Immediately position the cone form like this:

place form on hot krumkake

Quickly roll the krumkake around the form while it is still hot.  This gets easier as you go.  I messed up the first one because I let it get too cool while I took pictures–it cracked as I rolled it.  My son was more than happy to “take care of” my ugly krumkake.  😉

roll to a cone

Gently press the form over the seam to help set the cone shape.  I leave the form sitting in the cone as I add more batter to the iron.  Then remove the form!  Look at the pretty cookie you just made!

remove form

Stack them up on a plate or platter to cool and become crisp.  This platter was a gift from my Mom from her favorite Scandinavian gift shop, Vanberia.

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I think they’re pretty stacked on top of each other like this.

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The iron makes a beautiful almost tapestry-like pattern in each cookie.  So pretty!  My cousin’s husband sculpted the Santa that has been keeping my krumkaker company, and the cute little towel was in a tub marked “Norwegian Tree”  that I brought home from Mom’s house.

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Here are some more Santas– hand carved, painted and accessorized by a friend of my Mom’s–Mr Barnett.  My sister and I went to school with his daughters.   Mr. Barnett carved a different Santa each year; Mom bought one for herself every year and sometimes bought them for my sister and me.  I love the different faces, beard details and little details of the clothing and accessories.

santas1

santas2

I usually have them above my kitchen cabinets, to keep them a bit more cat-safe, but brought them down to take their pictures.  Just love them.  What are your favorite Christmas decorations?

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Filed under comfort food, dessert, food gifts, Food memories, Holiday foods, Norwegian Foods, recipe

Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

What makes a Christmas cookie a Christmas cookie?  I posed this question on Facebook last week after making these yummy little stunners.

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The answers were:  whatever is tradition–that is, what your family always bakes, shape and decoration, type of cookie–such as a sugar cookie or ginger cookie.  I’d say these Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies qualify!  The original recipe is from the December 2009 Food and Wine Magazine.  If you haven’t tried the combination of ginger and chocolate, it’s time!  It’s a ginger cookie taken to the next level.  With hot chocolate, with coffee, with a dessert wine….oh my.

If you bake, most likely you have everything you need:

ingredients

  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 TBSP ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 TBSP baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 TBSP softened, unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup solid vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled

In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients:  flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

whisk dry ingredients

Beat butter and shortening together until smooth in another bowl.

cream butter and shortening

Cream in the brown sugar until light and fluffy–about 2-3 minutes.

cream butter shortening and sugar

Add egg and beat until combined.

add egg

Beat in molasses,

add molasses

and then melted chocolate until smooth.

add chocolate

blend til smooth

Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, beating in between each addition.

add dry

Divide the dough into 3 equal parts.

divide into 3

Form each third into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

form disks wrap and refrigerate

Preheat oven to 350F and prepare baking sheets with silpats or parchment paper.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out a disk to a thickness of 1/4 inch.  Use desired cutters to cut dough into shapes and transfer to baking sheets.  Dust cutters lightly with flour in between cookies to help the cookies release from the cutters.  I find that using cutters of different sizes allows for more efficient use of the dough and less re-rolling.

roll and cut

Gather the scraps together and continue to cut cookies.

gather scraps and re roll

Bake cookies for about 7 minutes, rotating pans halfway through unless you have a convection oven.  Let cookies cool on the pans for 5 minutes and transfer to racks to finish cooling.

bake 7 min

When cool, it’s time to decorate!  Be as fancy as you want to be.  I decided on using white and blue frosting tubes fitted with decorating tips and blue and white sanding sugars–they have a larger crystal than regular sugar, making my snowflakes more snowflake-y, in my opinion.  🙂  I frost each cookie first,

decorate with frosting

And then dip in sugar while the frosting is still wet.  Different colors come from different combos of sugar and frosting.

dip in sugar

Pretty soon you have a whole flurry of delicious and beautiful snowflakes!

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While one batch was baking, I thought it would be fun to see if I could make one of the smaller flakes perch on a cocoa mug.  Through a bit of trial and error and having to eat my mistakes…I ended up with this method:

I used a popsicle stick to press a mark into a raw cookie, just over halfway up the cookie, trying to leave equal amounts of cookie on each side of the mark.

mark with stick

mark shows

Then, I used a sharp paring knife to cut out the notch and carefully transferred the perching cookies to a baking sheet and baked and decorated the same as the regular cookies.

cut out notch

So fun!  A cute little cookie that parks nicely on your mug in between sips and can be dunked as you go!

perch notch

perch on cocoa

This recipe makes about 5 dozen cookies if you vary sizes.  My largest cutter was about 3 inches, the medium 2 inches and the tiny ones are about 1 inch.

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The recipe also makes an excellent sandwich cookie.  The filling recipe I’ve used is:  1 stick unsalted, softened butter, 8 oz mascarpone, softened, 3 cups powdered sugar, and 1 tsp vanilla.  Yum!

They are just fine all by themselves, though.  Aren’t they pretty?!

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The smell of chocolate gingerbread baking filled my house with Christmas!  It really put me in the mood to start decorating, so I got out the boxes and boxes of Christmas decorations, trees and ornaments.  Here’s one of my favorite ornaments from when I was little.

ornament

Do you have ornaments from your childhood?  I still need to bake a few more traditional cookies and make a Buche de Noel, but the house is decorated and cozy, and presents are wrapped.  I feel like I’m ready enough for Christmas.  I hope you have a merry holiday season where you are.

 

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Filed under comfort food, dessert, food gifts, Holiday foods, recipe

Barb’s Pesto

My neighbor Barb is one of the reasons I’m vegan.  She and her family have been low-fat vegan for a while and finally convinced Michael and I to give it a try.  We did, we’re more healthy, we love it!  Low-fat vegan cooking is a whole new beastie, when you’re used to olive oil and cheese and eggs.  Barb is my go-to girl when I have questions like, “but how do you saute?”  I love basil and make pesto every summer to preserve that lovely summery flavor all winter.  But pesto has cheese.  And oil.  So, I went to Barb with a “but how do you…” question and of course, she had the answer.  So yummy, so fresh.  And an added bonus–no nuts!  Barb’s allergic to tree nuts, so naturally, she makes her pesto without them.  How could it be yummy without oil and cheese and nuts?!  See for yourself:

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Here’s what you’ll need:

ingredients

  • 8-12 cloves of garlic, depending on the size and how much you like garlic, minced
  • juice of 2 limes (2/3 cup)
  • juice of 1 lemon (1/2 cup)
  • garlic salt to taste, or just regular salt–again, depends on your garlic tolerances  🙂
  • 1 bag (16 oz) frozen corn, thawed
  • black pepper to taste
  • enough fresh basil to fill your processor

Place everything in the bowl of a food processor with the chopping blade in place.

all in the processor

Process until smooth, scraping down sides as needed.

process til smooth

To freeze for later, place 1/2 cup pesto into containers–I use snack size ziplocs and then place them into a labelled freezer bag.

package to freeze

Or, enjoy right away:  on pasta, with crackers, with veggies, on a yummy garden-fresh tomato….

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What do you like to eat pesto with?

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Filed under Canning and preserving, dairy-free, dinner, food gifts, Garden produce, lunch, recipe, salad, side dish, Vegetarian

Lizette’s Dilly Beans

Late August and September are when my garden is most productive.  Tomatoes, squash, peppers, and LOTS of beans.  They need picked twice a week!  Definitely more than I can keep up with, so what to do?  Make my friend Lizette’s Hot and Spicy Dilly Beans, of course! Just as easy as regular cucumber-based dill pickles, but even more yummy.  

let cool and label

Head out to the garden or farmer’s market and grab some dill, garlic, jalapenos and green beans.  Mine are purple, an heirloom variety called Royal Burgundy.  They turn green when cooked, unfortunately.  Although, these pickles retained some of the purple color in the brine!  I’ll give you the brine proportions (make more as needed) and what you’ll put into each jar.  It’s easy to adjust as you go.

ingredients

  • 5 cups vinegar
  • 5 cups water
  • 1/2 cup pickling salt
  • peeled whole garlic cloves
  • fresh heads of dill
  • jalapeno peppers
  • fresh green beans

Sterilize jars, rings and lids; make your best guess at how many you’ll need.  I try to over-estimate so I don’t have to stop mid-process to get more ready.

Get your brine going (vinegar, water and pickling salt) at the same time you start water boiling in your canner.

prepare brine and canner

Wash and snap the stem ends off the beans.

snap beans

Peel garlic and wash and cut jalapenos in half length-wise.  Remove seeds and veins if you want your beans less spicy.

cut jalapenos

Place a head of dill and a clove or two of garlic at the bottom of the jar.

dill and garlic on jar

Fill the rest with beans, and then squeeze in a jalapeno half.

beans and jalapeno in jar

Add boiling brine, leaving 1/2 inch head space.  Use a knife to help any air bubbles come to the surface, and add more brine to keep the 1/2 inch head space if needed.

add brine

Wipe the rim and adjust the lid.  Process 10 minutes in boiling water. 

process

Remove jars and let cool.  Label each jar with the date.   If any refused to seal, re-water bath them, or keep them in the fridge.

let cool and label

Let your Dilly Beans sit for a day or two for full crispy-spicy-dilly yumminess.  Save a jar for midwinter and enjoy the taste of summer.  Perfect for your holiday relish trays!

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Filed under Canning and preserving, food gifts, Garden produce, Holiday foods, recipe, side dish, snack, Vegetarian