Peanut Butter Banana Scones

PB Banana Scones

This past weekend, we celebrated my grandmother’s eightieth birthday. She technically doesn’t reach that milestone until August 31st, but there was a party and cake and speeches, so in my mind she’s already eighty and that’s that.

This is the grandmother I’m named after. It’s a long story, one I won’t get into here, but our real name involves a tongue twisting collection of Greek syllables and I couldn’t be prouder that I get to share it with her. This is the grandmother that taught me how to bake koulourakia. The one that watched The Price is Right with me whenever I came by at 11am. That taught me how to play poker. This is the grandmother that asks me anytime I make a dessert, even if it’s apple pie, “Does this have tofu in it?”

This grandmother raised one headstrong girl and three rowdy boys, one of whom grew up to be my father. She’s kind and sassy, caring and wild. I don’t call her nearly enough, and I don’t tell her thank you when I have the chance. And so, even though it’s not quite time yet, I’ll go ahead and say it.

Happy Birthday Yiayia. Love, your FGC ;)

PB Banana Scones

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Peanut Butter Banana Scones

1 and 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour

1/4 unbleached all purpose flour

1/3 cup cane sugar

1/2 tsp sea salt

2 tsp baking powder

2 Tbs coconut oil, melted

3 Tbs peanut butter

1/2 cup peanuts

1 banana, cut into chunks

3/4 cup almond milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

To top: a few teaspoons almond milk, some cane sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375F. In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add the coconut oil and peanut butter and cut into the flour using a pastry cutter, two knives, or a fork. Once they have been incorporated, place the bowl in the freezer for 15 minutes.

After the mix has been frozen, fold in the peanuts and banana. Create a well in the center of the mix and add the milk and vanilla. Carefully combine the dough by gently folding it with a spoon. Mix just until combined; there may still be a few traces of flour, which is okay.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and pat into a circle that is about 2-inches thick. Brush with almond milk and sprinkle some cane sugar on top. Cut into 8 triangles and place them on a baking sheet. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until golden.

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Lemon Oat Biscuits

Lemon Oat Biscuits

Is there such a thing as summer time? And is it twice as fast as normal time? Because I swear it was just June… and now it’s time to go back to school?! What kind of madness is this?

(Yes, I do write paragraphs comprised of only questions)

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While it’s true that things will stay hot and humid down here for a good long while, it still feels like summer ends whenever that back to school bell starts ringing. And boy is that day closing in like a thousand pound freight train.

I’m not ready to start reading books again!

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And now onto the cookies… hearty oats are ground down to a fine flour. To that we add some cane sugar, leavening, salt, AND LEMON ZEST. Notice the all caps here. Do not skip that lemon zest friends! It’s the key ingredient that takes these cookies from relatively pleasant to OMG-what-is-that-delicious-flavor??? You only need a little, but boy does it do a bang up job.

Once the wet ingredients are added, we roll out the dough into a big ole log and slice up a batch of cookies. Place them in the oven for a bit, and suddenly you’re all set for snack time, tea time, and beyond.

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Lemon Oat Biscuits

Makes about 14 cookies

adapted slightly from My New Roots

Ingredients:

3 cups rolled oats
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
zest of 1 large organic lemon
½ cup cane sugar
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
3 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Place oats in a food processor and pulse until a rough flour is achieved. Add the the salt, baking powder, lemon zest, and sugar and pulse until combined. In a separate bowl or measuring cup, mix together the applesauce, coconut oil, and vanilla extract, then add to the food processor. Pulse again until a dough is created.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll into log. Slice into rounds about 1/4 inch thick and place onto a baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned.

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Creamy Chocolate Chia Ice Cream (Vegan)

Chia Ice Cream

I’m back in the good old USA!!!

First things first: I am terribly sorry to have completely abandoned this space for the past couple of weeks. Things got crazy with traveling and working and lack of internet problems. But it’s all good now, and regular posts will officially be starting back up again.

I also would love to do a post soon about my work in Bulgaria. It was a really inspiring and amazing time, and my favorite part was seeing how so many different people could connect through the simple process of food and bread making. But then again, we all knew that baking was about more than just cookies, right?

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Okay, but now this ice cream. This ice cream. It comes from the incredible mind of Izy over at Top With Cinnamon (if you don’t follow this blog, go check it out RIGHT NOW) and it is mind blowing. But seriously. Because it is ice cream made out of chia seeds!!!!

So we all know that traditional ice cream is basically made by churning some form of custard. But with this recipe, we’re instead churning chocolate chia pudding to create a thick, creamy, chocolatey frozen explosion. And now that I’m back in the humid streets of Charleston, such a treat could not be more welcome.

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This recipe is pretty darn simple (no egg tempering required, thankyouverymuch) but, like most ice creams, it requires a bit of planning ahead to account for all of the chilling and churning and freezing required. So no instant chocolate craving satisfaction, unfortunately ;)

It’s good to be back!

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Creamy Chocolate Chia Ice Cream

adapted ever so slightly from Top With Cinnamon

Ingredients:

3 cups almond milk

6 tablespoons cocoa powder

6 tablespoons agave nectar OR maple syrup

1/2 cup chia seeds

1/2 cup chocolate chips/chunks, melted

6 dates, pitted

Directions:

Combine the milk, cocoa powder, agave/maple syrup, and chia seeds in a bowl. Whisk in the melted chocolate (if your chocolate is still hot, add some of the milk mixture to the chocolate to bring it to the same temperature without seizing, then add the chocolate mixture to the rest of the milk). Add the dates, then let chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours to thicken.

Once the chia pudding has thickened, blitz it in a food processor until completely smooth. After it has been pureed, strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve to remove any remaining chia seed bits. Return to the fridge to chill until ready to churn. Then freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.

Once the ice cream has been churned, spread it into a shallow pan, cover with plastic wrap, and leave in the freezer for a few hours until it has reached your desired consistency.

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How to Make Cauliflower Fried Rice

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Dude… where have you been all my life? Because I feel very cheated to have had to wait nineteen years before making this amazing kitchen hack. Because it’s cauliflower… transformed into rice. Heck yeah, let’s do this!

Like me, you may have seen mentions of cauliflower rice or read enthusiastic testimonials to its awesomeness, and like me, you may have just ignored all the hype and figured it couldn’t be that great. If that’s the case, then, like me, you may have been very, very wrong.

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Let’s clear one thing up first: you do not need to be on the paleo diet to enjoy this dish. I don’t think I could live without sushi, so I’m not about to give up rice in my diet. Instead, this is just a super cool and crazy sneaky way to get more veggies in your belly. Because that’s always a win, right?

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For whatever weirdly bizarre reason, I avoided trying cauliflower rice in part because I thought it would be hard and/or complicated to make, and when I’m hungry, I want the distance and effort between me and delicious food to be as minimal as possible. Well boy was I wrong, because all this dish took was a few pulses in the food processor to turn the cauliflower into rice like pieces, and then a few minutes of sauteing on the stove to soften it and give it flavor. And that’s it.

Trust me, give this cauliflower rice a try… and then go eat a boatload of sushi. It’s balance, yo.

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How to Make Cauliflower Fried Rice

*This recipe doesn’t include amounts because basically the only ingredient is cauliflower, so use as much as you need*

Ingredients:

Cauliflower

Toasted sesame oil

Soy sauce

optional: sesame seeds

Directions:

Place cauliflower in the bowl of a food processor, then pulse in about 3 second intervals until the cauliflower has broken down and has a course, rice-like texture.

In a wok, frying pan, or skillet, heat up some sesame oil over medium heat. Add the cauliflower and fry over the heat for a few minutes, until softened. Add some soy sauce to taste (careful not to add too much!) and sesame seeds if using and continue to cook a few more minutes.

Serve with veggies, scrambled eggs, any other mix-ins, or just plain on its own!

 

 

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Black Bean Brownie Bites

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Sometimes I get crazy lady brain. My mind whirs and bends and flips and flops and generally doesn’t know which way’s up and which way’s down. It’s an affliction I seem to be experiencing a lot more often in these past few weeks. Part of the reason for this is that my brain seems to react to the onslaught of Bulgarian it’s experiencing with French. French! It turns my brain into a mumble jumble mush of incomprehensible tri-lingual sentences.

The other part I attribute to the lack of chocolate. Because chocolate is definitely important for proper brain function, obviously.

You see, one thing that is really not ideal about Bulgaria is that there’s no chocolate. Of course, there are candy bars for sale and things like that, but as far as chocolatey desserts go… nada. And after meticulously hunting around the grocery store, I couldn’t find even a scrap of cocoa (although, considering the fact that I can’t understand any of the labels, it might have actually been there the whole time).

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So needless to say, I could totally go for one of these brownies right about now. Dark, chocolatey, and fudgy, they’re the perfect little bite sized treats for when a sweet craving hits.

We’ve been down this road before… black beans in brownies. It’s a thing. Get used to it. And the best part is that it takes a whir in the food processor, and you’re done. No melting chocolate or softening butter or tempering to be found. Just some in your face chocolate. Oh yeah.

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Black Bean Brownie Bites

adapted from Minimalist Baker

Makes 12 brownie bites

Ingredients:

1 flax egg (1 Tbsp. flax + 3 Tbsp. water)

1/2 of a 15.5 oz. can black beans, rinsed

1 Tbs. coconut oil

pinch of salt

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 cup cane sugar

3/4 tsp. baking powder

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F and grease a 12 count mini-muffin pan. Blend all of the ingredients in a food processor until completely smooth, which should take a few minutes. Scrape down the sides as needed. Spoon batter into the muffin holes, then smooth the top with the back of a spoon or your finger.

Bake for 16-17 minutes, then let cool in the pan a few minutes before removing. They may seem undercooked at first, but they will firm up more in the pan.

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Cream Cheese Cookies + A Snack Attack

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I have eyes. I know that these aren’t the most attractive cookies. If brought to a party, they would probably be the last to go. But my goodness, if these aren’t the tastiest little things.

They’re slightly tangy from the cream cheese and greek yogurt, with the perfect amount of sweetness from the cane sugar. I highly recommend using cane or turbinado sugar, because it adds a whole other dimension and  depth of flavor than plain old refined white sugar does.

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Also… they’re super easy to make! No chilling or rolling required, and, although it  calls for it in the recipe, you really don’t need an electric mixer either if you’re handy with a whisk and have a few minutes. But what I like most about these cookies is that they’re unexpected. The flavor is totally different and surprising, and a cookie (or three or four) make for an excellent afternoon snack.

Speaking of… right before I left the country in June, I received a shipment from Yumvelope  to review (all thoughts and opinions are obviously my own…duh). The way the service works is you sign up, and once a month Yumvelope sends you a package of artisanal food products for snacking. It’s a great way to find awesome new products, and it makes for some very tasty eating. So what exactly was in my box?

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Lot’s of tasty goodies, that’s what! Here’s a quick rundown:

* A package of organically grown roasted and salted pistachios- Anyone who knows me knows that I love any and all nuts, but pistachios (especially when in the form of ice cream) are a personal fave. So I was super pumped  to tear open this package and was not disappointed. The fact that they were environmentally conscious was just another added bonus.

* Two Fig Bars (one lemon, one strawberry)-  They’re Fig Newtons, just healthier and fancier! And much tastier, too, in my humble opinion

An apple quinoa breakfast cookie- Yep, you read that right! A super healthy cookie you can eat for breakfast, this would also still work as a more virtuous tasty sweet treat. Plus it’s a great way to fool people into eating quinoa.

Some oatmeal raisin cookies cube things- Okay, yes, weird description, but it’s all I could think of. I’m not a huge oatmeal raisin fan, but my sister thought these were pretty darn tasty!

Fancy schmancy aloe vera juice- I really liked this stuff; it was fruity and flavorful, and there were little bits of aloe vera pulp still in it, which made things fun. (Sidenote: I had never heard  of this drink before, but then I found it in a random shop here in Bulgaria. It was as good as I had remembered!)

* Maple pecan granola- Ummm, yum. But seriously, how could you go wrong with a description like that?

Overall, I was pretty darn impressed with the array of offerings  provided by my Yumvelope box, and I got to try things I never would have found oherwise. Plus, it’s super fun to open up a box and discover which delicious things you get to eat this month!

With love and snacks from a house full of bread -Rossi

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Cream Cheese Cookies

Makes about 10 cookies

Ingredients:

4 Tablespoons cream cheese

3 Tablespoons fat free greek yogurt

5 Tablespoons cane sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup white whole wheat flour

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a stand mixer or medium bowk, beat the cream cheese, greek yogurt, sugar, and salt until fluffy. Reduce speed to low and gradually add the flour until just combined. The dough should be somewhat sticky. Drop by tablespoons onto prepared baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes, until slightly browned.

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Simple Strawberry Jam

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First of all, before we get to the crazy simple and crazy good fruit jam, I just want to say that I am still in Bulgaria, living, working, and baking in the Bread House in Gabrovo. This place is incredible, and each day brings new challenges and new projects to work on. And bread. Lots and lots of bread. I might never leave ;)

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And now on to the darling of this post. This jam, my friends, has been deemed better than chocolate. By none other than my chocolate obsessed thirteen year old sister, in fact. If that isn’t indicative of how good this stuff is, then I don’t know what else to tell you.

Let’s talk about how this jam doesn’t require any pectin. Or canning for that matter, because I’m too terrified/lazy to bother with hot water baths and special temperatures and the chance that I might do it wrong and waste a boatload of strawberries to spoiling (But if you know how to can and want to do it here, by all means go for it. I have mad respect).

What this does require is some time at the stove. And wooden-spooned-stir every now and again. And that’s about it.

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For some reason, I love making jam at night, in a lit up kitchen, with a ball game on the tv and nothing but my thoughts and the heavenly scent of cooking fruit in the air. It’s a stir-and-think kind of situation. And the end result is strawberry jam. So there.

P.S. If the price of fresh strawberries at the grocery store has the chance of inducing  nightmares (or you know you’ll eat them all before it comes time to make jam), head for the frozen section. Once they’re all cooked and mashed, nobody will be able to tell the difference.

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Strawberry Jam

4 cups mashed strawberries, washed and hulled

1/4 cups turbinado sugar

a few pinches salt

zest of one lemon

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Directions:

Combine ingredients in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook until thick and jammy, about 40 minutes, maybe more, being sure to stir occasionally so that it doesn’t burn. Remove pan from heat. Let then jam cool, then transfer it to a can and keep in the refrigerator for up to a week (if you know how to can and would like to do so, you can do that here too).

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Strawberries and Cream Pavlova

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Pavlova has been on my “To Bake” list for a while. Not that there’s an actual list. More like a random collection of hastily notated goods that vary from my Pinterest page to a word document on my computer to a list on my phone to a page in my notebook with handwriting so bad I can barely even read it.

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To be honest I’m not sure if pavlova was actually on any of those lists, but it’s definitely been floating in the back of my mind since at least last summer. First of all, there’s the name. “Pav-lo-va” A collection of airy syllables that instantly sound exotic and that come from the name of a famous Australian ballerina. Like, what?!

Then there’s the fact that I will give any excuse to whip eggs whites into a creamy, dreamy cloud of meringue. Maybe it’s because I haven’t had access to electric beaters all last year at college, or maybe it’s because it blows my mind every single time how some egg whites, a pinch of cream of tartar, and a dose of sugar can transform into something so incredible. It’s like real life magic in the kitchen.

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Regardless of the attraction, I had some pretty high expectations for pavlova. Super high, in fact. And wouldn’t you know it, the real thing was even better than I could have imagined. Probably one of the best things to have come out of my kitchen.

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There are essentially three components of this dessert: crunchy, chewy meringue on the bottom, light and airy whipped cream in the middle, and sweet, juicy strawberries on top. When they’re all combine into one bite, it becomes the perfect blend of flavors and textures, the sweetness of the meringue calmed by the cool cream, the berries brightening everything up… it’s the quintessential summer dessert, light and airy and made for eating outside.

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Strawberries and Cream Pavlova

Makes about six individual meringues (more or less depending on how big you want your meringues to be)

For the meringue:

4 egg whites, at room temperature

1 cup cane or turbinado sugar, ground in food processor until fine

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon cream of tarter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the strawberry topping:

2 cups strawberries, washed, hulled, and quartered

1/4 cup water

1/2 Tablespoon cornstarch

pinch sea salt

1 Tablespoon cane sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the whipped cream:

1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

scant 1 Tablespoon powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup fat free plain greek yogurt

*Alternately, you can just use coconut whipped cream instead*

Directions:

First, make the meringues. Preheat oven to 200F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (this is important so that the meringue don’t stick). In a small bowl, mix the sugar and cornstarch until evenly combined. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium until thick, frothy, and white, a few minutes. Increase speed to high and gradually add the sugar and cornstarch mix, one spoonful at a time. Continue to beat until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla and cream of tarter, then continue to beat on high until stiff peaks have formed.

Spoon the meringue onto the parchment lined baking sheet into circles about 4 inches wide, making a slight depression in the center to hold the cream and strawberries (if you want to get fancy you can also pipe the circles, but I liked the rustic look). Bake for one hour, then turn off the oven, leave the oven door slightly open, and let cool until the meringues are completely firm and dry.

While the meringues are baking, start the strawberry topping. Combine strawberries, water, cornstarch, salt, sugar, and vanilla in a medium saucepan, and cook over medium heat until the strawberries start to break down and the mixture becomes thick, approximately ten minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Let cool to room temperature before serving.

Just before serving, make the whipped cream. In the chilled bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream until it begins the thicken, a few minutes. Add the vanilla and powdered sugar, and continue to beat until soft peaks form. Add the yogurt and whip a bit more, until thick and light.

To assemble, spoon some whipped cream into the depression of the meringues and top with a spoonful of strawberries; serve immediately. The different elements can be made ahead of time and put together just before serving.

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