Sunday, September 14, 2014

Gluten-free fudgy mint brownies and a giveaway


This is the week I celebrate my friend Nicole at Prevention RD. In my previous post, I baked one-bowl basic blondies for her virtual baby shower to welcome Baby Shea. Nicole has just published her second cookbook that is titled Prevention RD's Cooking and Baking with Almond Flour, which is great for those who are gluten-free or know people who are gluten-free.

Nicole's cookbook includes chapters on breakfasts, sides, starters, entrees, quick breads/muffins and desserts. Naturally, I skipped ahead to the dessert chapter, but the other chapters had some wonderful-looking recipes as well. The one thing that caught my eye were her fudgy mint brownies.

Instead of using flour, Nicole replaces it with almond flour. She also replaced butter with coconut oil and honey to help bind the brownies together (and give it a nice sweet and subtle coconut flavor). The brownies were good and had a slightly grittier texture than regular brownies, so if that isn't your cup of tea, you can always sift your almond meal/flour to remove larger chunks of almonds. The mint flavor was good, and I would recommend increasing the amount if you are a mint fiend like me. All in all, I enjoyed these brownies and would serve these to a gluten-free friend. In fact, one of the skating moms (who is gluten-free) tried one and said that she loved me. Ha!

And finally, onto the giveaway! One lucky winner will receive a copy of Nicole's cookbook, Prevention RD's Cooking and Baking with Almond Flour. All you have to do is enter via the Rafflecopter widget below. Please be patient, as sometimes it is slow to load. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway  

Gluten-free fudgy mint brownies
  • 1 and 1/4 cups almond flour (I used Trader Joe's almond meal)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon mint extract
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Generously grease (and/or line) an 8"x8" baking pan. I used a silicone pan and did not grease or line it.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the almond flour, cocoa powder and salt.  Set aside.

In a separate medium-sized bowl, mix together the egg, coconut oil and honey until well incorporated. Add in the mint extract and mix well.

Pour the egg mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Gently fold in the chocolate chips using a rubber spatula.

Transfer the batter into your prepared baking pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

Bake in your preheated oven for 25-30 minutes.

Allow the pan to cool completely, then place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before cutting and serving.

Brownies are best served cold and should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and will keep for several days.

Yield: About 16 brownies

Source: Prevention RD's Cooking and Baking with Almond Flour, by Nicole Morrissey

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Skating Fridays

Angel

Yesterday was an emotional day. I attended a surprise baby shower for a coworker after lunch. We celebrated her and her husband and the upcoming birth of their first child. There was much laughter, smiles and joy.

Not long after the shower was over, I received a message from my best skating friend that her mother-in-law had unexpectedly passed away that morning. Needless to say, I was in shock. I don't know many details, but I wanted to support my friend as best as I could. I had the pleasure of meeting Deb on many occasions, and she had the ability to always make me laugh. She was full of life, and her infectious personality was something that I admired.

I had already planned on skating my (new) dramatic program after class last night, but this performance was very special. I told my friend that I would dedicate it to her mother-in-law, whom I hoped would be watching. This was the debut of my program, and it was a heartfelt performance despite not skating my best. Although I skated alone, I didn't feel alone because I could feel the love and energy surrounding me as I took the ice.

I finished and gave my friend a big hug as tears filled both of our eyes. It was a performance that I will never forget, and I will smile when I skate it again because I know that there is a new angel watching me from above.

Thank you for all the laughter you brought me, Deb. You will be missed.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

One-bowl basic blondies

Just last week, my 4-year old started pre-K. How did that happen? Since when did my sweet little girl turn into a person? It doesn't seem that long ago when she was just a cute, toothless baby. Sigh. Sometimes I miss my tiny, cuddly baby.

Imagine my joy when I found out that my friend Nicole at Prevention RD was expecting a baby girl of her own! She and her husband have already named their daughter Shea, who is expected to arrive in a few short weeks. Our sweet friend Kim at Feed Me, Seymour wanted to host an online baby shower for Shea and asked if I would contribute something for Shea and the mother-to-be.

I wasn't quite sure what to make, so I turned to Addie to ask her what Mommy should bake that day. She said that she wanted brownies, but then she altered her answer to say she wanted white brownies. I'm telling you - my daughter certainly knows her sweets. It's been a while since I've made blondies so this was a perfect choice. I asked Addie what kind of chips I should add in, and after I told her the options, she chose butterscotch.

This has been my go-to blondie recipe, and I've made it several times but haven't blogged about it until now. It's a one-bowl recipe, so you don't need to melt anything over the stove or cream anything with a mixer. The batter comes together very easily and quickly, and you can customize it with your favorite add-ins. It's a great base recipe that can be adapted to fit your tastes.

Congratulations, Nicole, on the upcoming birth of baby Shea. I hope your daughter enjoys cooking and baking with you, and I am so excited for you and your husband to become parents. Be sure to head over to Kim's blog to see what everyone else has made for this fun virtual baby shower.

One-bowl basic blondies
  • 6-7 TBSP butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1-2 to 1 cup add-ins, such as chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, chopped nuts, M&Ms, toffee pieces
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Generously grease a standard 8"x8" square baking pan and set aside. I used a silicone pan and did not grease.

In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter in the microwave. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Add in the brown sugar and mix well until the batter is smooth and free of lumps.

Add in the egg and vanilla and mix until smooth. Then add the salt, flour and baking powder until no flour streaks remain. Gently fold in whatever add-ins you want to use.

Transfer the batter to your prepared baking pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle additional toppings on, if desired.

Bake in your preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the bars to cool completely before cutting and serving.

Bars should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator. They will keep for up to a week.

Yield: One 8"x8" pan, about 16 blondies

Source: Bakingblonde

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Sunday, September 7, 2014

One pot fudgy brownies

Are you tired of dirtying several bowls and pans when you bake?  I am. It aggravates me when recipes require 2-3 bowls, 5 spatulas and countless dirty dishes. Then the drying dishware clutters my counters and drives me bonkers. Fewer dishes and an uncluttered kitchen counter = Happy Eva!

I've already shared my favorite brownies with you, which happens to be a one pot recipe. Here is another one that I came across in case you don't want to chop up chocolate and dirty up a knife.

I doubled this recipe and baked these brownies for one of my husband's work meetings. He brought 20 of these to his meeting and said that people ate them like hawks. Those who did not receive a brownie were visibly upset. He had a meeting with the same group the next day, and many asked if he had brought another baked good to share. Nope, sorry folks.

I did save a brownie for myself, and while they were a solid brownie, they still don't compare to the salted fudge brownies that I have fallen in love with. But, because they are a one pot recipe and don't require me to chop chocolate, I'll probably make it again. Just note that the 40 minutes baking time was too much for my preference - the tops felt too dry and overdone, but the middles were still slightly fudgy. If you are fudgy brownie fan, I recommend cutting down on the bake time.

One pot fudgy brownies
  • 1 and 1/2 sticks butter (12 TBSP)
  • 1 and 3/4 sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Generously grease or line a standard 8"x8" or 9"x9" square baking pan and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.

Once the butter has fully melted, take the saucepan off the heat and stir in the sugar, vanilla and salt. Mix well.

Add the eggs one at a time and mix well until the eggs are fully incorporated.

Then add the cocoa powder and flour and mix until no streaks remain.  Transfer the batter to your prepared baking pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

Bake in your preheated 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes up with moist crumbs. Do not overbake these. I baked mine for 40 minutes and they seemed too dry, so I would recommend checking after 30-35 minutes.

Allow the brownies to cool completely before cutting and serving. If desired, you can include several add-ins to jazz these up (nuts, caramel, dried cherries, etc.). Store the brownies in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator. They will keep for several days. Brownies can also be frozen and thawed.

Yield: One 8"x8" pan; about 12-16 brownies

Source: Rachael Ray Magazine, May 2014 issue

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Friday, September 5, 2014

Skating Fridays

Like Mother, Like Daughter?

I can't even begin to tell you how many people at the rink have asked when Addie is going to skate.  And oh, wouldn't it be great if she was just like Mommy? My answer is these questions is always the same: "I'll take her to the rink when she asks me."

I don't want to be that parent who forces their child to participate in an activity that she has no interest in. She does not have to follow in my footsteps.

Yes, Addie pretends to skate around at home, and yes, she likes to watch Meryl (Davis) and Charlie (White) on YouTube. But she hasn't asked me to enroll her in lessons. At least not yet.

On occasion, she'll ask to go skating on a weekend, and I'll take her to public skating, but beyond that, she hasn't requested lessons. Every once in a while I will ask her what sport she wants to learn, and figure skating has not come up. Am I disappointed? No. If she develops a genuine interest for the sport, she will let me know. Trust me, she is an opinionated girl and tells me if and when she likes something.

I don't expect my daughter to take up my favorite sport, but if and when she does, I'll be ready.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Peach zucchini bread

We got a ton of peaches and yellow zucchini in a recent CSA delivery. As usual, I wasn't quite sure what to do with these. I finally decided to make a peach and zucchini bread so we had something good to eat for breakfast and as a snack.

Surprisingly, I could not taste the peaches in this bread. If you make this, I recommend cutting some of your peaches into chunks and folding them into the batter so you get a distinct peach flavor. I also should have baked it for a little bit longer because my bread was a bit soggy (you can combat this by squeezing all the liquid out of your shredded zucchini). The flavors of the spices came out nicely, as I could taste the ginger, cinnamon and cloves. They reminded me of a pumpkin spice bread or sweet potato bread.

All in all, this bread was just OK. I am glad I tried it, but I am not sure that I will be making it again. The next time I have zucchini, I'm definitely going to make these eggless Nutella stuffed chocolate chunk muffins. Those were a huge hit in my house, and it was a fantastic way to get Addie to eat her vegetables at home.

Peach zucchini bread
  • 1¼ cup flour  
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg and or cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½ to ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup pureed fresh peaches
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cup zucchini, grated (about 2 medium zucchini)
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a standard 9"x5" loaf pan and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg/cloves, ginger, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, peaches and vanilla. Gently fold in the dry ingredients until no streaks remain. Add the grated zucchini and mix until just combined (do not over mix).

Transfer the batter to your prepared loaf pan and bake in your preheated oven for 45 minute or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow the bread to cool completely before slicing and serving. Bread should be stored in an airtight container and will keep for several days.

Yield: One 9"x5" loaf (about 10-12 slices)

Source: Teacher by Day Chef by Night; originally adapted from Muffin Bites

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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Bakery-style chocolate chip muffins

Wow, I sure make a lot of muffins around here. Maybe I should rename the blog to Eva Bakes Muffins. My family and I enjoy eating muffins for breakfasts and snacks so it's only fitting that I bake many different varieties for us to try.

Addie asked me to bake her favorite blueberry lemon muffins, but I told her that I'd try to find another recipe to make instead. Chocolate chips are one of her favorite ingredients, so I set out to make a chocolate chip muffin for us. Many of the recipes I found called for unhealthy ingredients, so I skipped over those. Then I found these, which seemed a bit lighter than most of the other recipes I found online.

The chocolate chip muffins were wonderful. They were dense, slightly sweet, and full of chocolate chips. Almost like a chocolate chip cake in muffin form. I gave some to my best friend and ended up baking a second batch just for us. Yes, that is 2 dozen muffins in 2 days. Addie ate these like a champ and probably ended up with just as much chocolate on her face than in her stomach. I didn't add any extra chocolate chips on the tops of the second batch of muffins, and she called me out on it. "Mommy, why aren't there chips on top?" Oooh, busted.

Bakery-style chocolate chip muffins
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (250 grams or 8.8 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2/3 cup (135 grams or 4.8 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips or chunks, plus extra for decoration
  • Raw or turbinado sugar, optional
Directions
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.

Generously grease a standard muffin pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the egg, milk, applesauce and vanilla.

Pour the egg mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. You should have a few streaks of flour in the bowl. Gently toss in the chocolate chips. Do not over mix your batter.

Evenly distribute the batter into your muffin tin. The batter should come almost all the way to the top. If desired, you can add extra chocolate chips or raw/turbinado sugar to the tops for prettier muffin.

Bake in your preheated oven for 3 minutes. Then turn the oven down to 375 degrees F and bake for another 12-17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (I baked mine for 20.)

Muffins should be stored in an airtight container and stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator and will keep for several days. They can also be frozen and thawed.

Yield: 12 muffins

Source: Ever so slightly adapted from Pretty. Simple. Sweet.

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