It’s 80 degrees with 80 percent humidity at this very moment. So naturally I’ve got the oven on full speed ahead with a series of baking projects to keep me from losing my mind. Oh, and naturally those baking projects happen to be pumpkin things because I’m not patient enough to wait for Fall. Naturally.
Side note…we’re moving into the new house Friday! I’m both excited to get everything settled and terrified that I’m going to get crushed with all our stuff as soon as I crack open the Pod…
This recipe is one that a friend gave me last year after the semester had started getting out of hand and all we could think of to make ourselves feel better was to have massive amounts of baked goods within arms reach. It was nothing short of a miracle that I was able to sub Bob’s Red Mill gluten free AP flour in one for one without a kitchen disaster (that seems to happen to me a lot)— my friend liked it even more than the wheat flour version since the garbanzo bean flour in Bob’s mix made for a little bit of a crust on the outside and a super moist interior. I’ve made this at least a dozen times and have made a couple tweaks based on preference and, seriously, y’all, it’s warm, comforting, fragrant perfection.
What with being unemployed and all and not exactly having a place to live until August 1, hubs and I are spending a few weeks with my parents. The older we all get, I’m starting to have more and more respect for how my folks have handled life after the last kid left home 8 years ago. Dad has been 100% retired for most of it and has steadily accumulated projects and community stuff to stay busy whenever he isn’t out on the motorcycle. Motorcycle rallies–the kind with checkpoints and landmarks to find within a 24-72 hour time limit over some region of the country–are pretty much his purpose in life. Mom still works as a nurse but has managed to keep the 3, 12-hour shifts a week for over a decade. I can only hope I’ll be so lucky. She’s been a gardener her whole life but when kids came along and life got busy we didn’t have much besides the flower beds and a few vegetable patches, but the garden beds have multiplied in the last few years to include everything from cucumbers and squashes, corn, beans, herbs, winter veggies, and, to my surprise when I came home last week, collards and kale (“everyone at work was talking about how much they love this stuff called ‘kale’ so I went and got a pack of seeds…). With my dad as a handy helper (he does the garden building and vegetable eating part) and a really commendable renewed devotion to personal health on their part, we can always count on fresh produce at home. So, obviously that brings me to today’s recipe. With the exception of the yogurt, everything here has been freshly grown and that’s pretty darn cool if you ask me.
Since summer is, you know, hot and all, I’ve been doing a *lot* of salads and cold veggies with dinner instead of the typical warm side dishes. Saves time, that’s for sure–one of my husband’s favorite things to toss on a plate next to the main event is a sliced heirloom tomato with salt and a drizzle of melted butter (speaking of which, grilled tomato and butter sandwiches are the bomb and I could probably eat them every day forever).
I got a little…fancy…with last night’s salad, as you can see. The dill was calling my name, I couldn’t resist. I’ve got fantasies of doing this again with some smoked salmon later this week. Please tell me I’m not the only one who’s dying just thinking about it….?
We finally got all our stuff out of the Baltimore house yesterday—one thing I realized I miss from the Army was the fact that whenever you had to move, some moving company would just magically show up and four hours later, all your stuff was gone. Whether it would make it to where you needed to go was another story but considering we aren’t even taking possession of the new place for a month, I’m not thinking that far ahead. Either way. Moving yourself is awful. Righteously awful.
Fun fact…there is a Law of the Unviverse that states that no matter how hard you try, you will never—NEVER—fit all of your household goods inside your POD, despite more trips to Goodwill than I care to count and a pile of trash bags in the back alley I’m pretty sure could shield the place from a nuclear war. So, that was my weekend.
I know baking is probably the last thing anyone wants to do in the middle of the summer, except it’s the first thing I want to do every second of every day of the year so I’m posting this anyway. Y’all know I’ve been on my Vegan kick lately and I recently extended said Vegan kick into the realm of baked goods. I did try to make a Paleo/Vegan bread a while back (I’m still racking my brain for a way to make that happen) but for now I’m settling for this lovely creation.
It’s seriously delicious, not to mention versatile. Dudes, I made French Toast and sandwiches and toast with butter and jam and PBJ andandand they all held up. The pain with GF baked goods of any kind is that they can really be dry and crumbly, and doubly so when you have to eliminate eggs and dairy from the mix. I don’t know what it is about this specific combo of ingredients but it works beautifully. I had to experiment a little—it took me one miserable failure and two not-so-miserable-but-still-imperfect attempts to figure out the magic behind it and here is what I found/the ONE change I made…
When she says mix the ingredients until “just combined,” seriously, yo…do NOT overmix. Mix up all your dry ingredients REALLY well before you add the wet stud and mix by hand slowly and carefully until it comes together. Overmixing will produce a nasty sinkhole.
Only let it rise 30 minutes. I know it says 30-45 but too long and a) it might overflow and/or b) it’ll sink whilst baking.
I added a tablespoon of psyllium husk powder. I swear by this stuff.
Does not freeze well. I unthawed a loaf I had frozen fresh and it turned to sand.
Let the loaf cool either upside down or on its side. I know some folks think this is an Old Wive’s Tale, but it makes me feel better. So there.
I have been doing a lot of Vegan meals lately, haven’t I?
The way I see it, making at least one meal a day is 100% plant-based is a phenomenal way to get an array of veggies and nutrients in my diet. I’ve ranted about it before, but the one thing anyone or any “diet” can agree on is that we could all use more veggies. Over the years, what I would consider to be “My Paleo” has certainly changed–I’m kind’ve over the whole eat-nothing-but-giant-hunks-of-meat-all-day-every-day. Nowadays it’s more like a 25/75 split between animals and plants. I eat my eggs with greens and grilled veggies…my steaks with tons of salad and sweet potatoes…and even have the occasional meal that’s purely plant-based (my mornings lately have begun with fruit, kale, and coconut milk “ice cream” topped with Paleo Krunch). “My Paleo” now is a lot more balanced and I’ve noticed such a huge difference in how I look and feel. This past year I lost 15 pounds and just feel…better.
I really do agree with a lot of the thoughts behind Veganism–namely that processed “foods” are, well, crap, and that we’re missing out on so many of the valuable nutrients in plants. I’m also sympathetic to the moral arguments…I’m not against eating animals, since humans need a lot of nutrients from the muscles and organs of others and have evolved to consume them, but I am against eating factory farmed animals subjected to inhumane conditions both because it’s unhealthy for them and unhealthy animals make unhealthy meat and because, frankly, it’s just cruel.
I’ve slowly become the people from Portlandia who insist that their chickens need to be happy and have little chicken friends to lend a shoulder when they feel sad.
ANYWAY, let’s talk about last night’s dinner. As far as I’m concerned, plantains are always a good idea…I’d think of this as almost a deconstructed mofongo. I added the collards as almost an afterthought and am SO glad I did. They really do add a nice bitterness to balance the sweet of the plantains and coconut oil and make everything just a little more vibrant. As a main dish, it’s perfect over cauli rice but I’d bet that it would be great with a root vegetable mash, big baked potato, or even as a side.
Having gone to college in southern New York, I became absolutely infatuated with the bazillions of Greek diners we frequented any chance we got. Pancakes the size of my face…the ginormous pastry display…gobs of butter on EVERYTHING…
And, of course, the Greek food. I was on a moussaka kick at one point–even made MDA’s primal version–but my favorite has always been the delightfully crispy and cheesy spanakopita. Spabakopita…which also happens to be the most Paleo-unfriendly dishes around thanks to the phyllo (which is the best part, duh!) and cheesy goodness.
Having nothing but time on my hands this summer, I finally cracked it. I’ve been obsessed with Cappello’s pasta for a long time, and even more so now that the ingredient list changed to make them 100% Paleo (no more potato starch). While not exactly the flaky crispity crusty phyllo, the lasagna noodles make a perfectly delicious substitute for the shell. Making this baby dairy-free was no problem at all, especially since I’ve been experimenting so much lately with cheese alternatives.
The result was beyond even my expectations. Even my husband–who rolls his eyes every time I tell him we’re having a meatless meal–went back for seconds!
The cauliflower mixture–before mixed with the spinach and all the rest of the ingredients–stands very well on its own as a topping or base for other recipes. I’d like to say it tastes a little like feta cheese…but faux feta or not, it’s great. I’ll probably post the recipe for just that piece in the next couple days.
Clearly, Pinterest wasn’t a thing in the early 90′s, but my mom was a huge clipper of recipes from magazines, newspapers, boxes, etc. Even now, there’s still an enormous pile of clippings in the living room at their house I *love* sifting through every time I come over.
A few months back, I came across a page out of Food and Wine magazine for a marbled pound cake–this was actually one of the first things I baked all by myself and I was kind of obsessed. Cake for breakfast, people.
Clearly I needed to make this happen again. I mean, if it’s finally warm enough to have coffee on the patio in the morning, I really need something sweet to dunk.
I took a little hiatus from the Internet for the Lenten season, which is at least part of the reason my last post was forever ago…except school has me pretty much clawing at water so the break from not only social media but, well, everything online was amazing for my study habits. Suddenly I realized where all that time went when I was all like, “OMG I have no TIME to study!”
I haven’t been cooking much, either. It’s terrible. 90% of my food consumption since February has come out of a crockpot. I could make some fancy posts about it all…but it was pretty much either beef or pork. Like, whatever giant hunk of meat I saw first at the store. Tossed it right in there and pressed the go button. Boom. Week of meals right there.
BUT! I finally got around to some baking for Easter brunch. Yay, muffins! Nothing crazy, but as always, a little experimentation with some oldies turned into something glorious. I made my first batch last week and this one is definitely a winner. It’s the first time I’ve used psyllium husk in baking but it really does give a much more gluten-y texture without giving me the bubble guts like a lot of gums out there. If you don’t have it, it’s totally skip-able, but it really does add a little oomf. Feel free to add nuts or chocolate chips or whatever, too…I guess I’m just boring.
Ok, this one may be a little cliche. We’ve long since passed the point where people figured out how to make their own Larabars…got it.
But (according to my husband, at least) these are the best he’s had, homemade or no. As a guy who, working construction, subsists on a diet of trail mix, larabars, and Justin’s nut butter packs…I think I’ll take that as a compliment.
Soooo if you could just stop whatever it is you’re doing right this minute and get your oven ready for a little Valentine’s love, that’d be great.
I had a snow day yesterday (and another one today, in fact) thanks to Snowmageddon. Seriously, I grew up just an hour west of here and we have *never* had a winter like this. I mean, sure, every couple of years we’d get a big snowstorm…but it was A snowstorm…not A BAZILLION snow storms. We’d get single digit temperatures…but not single digit temperatures for days on end. Whatever. Anyway. Snow day.
I had a few comments on my avocado brownies expressing some…concern…that they didn’t come out as good as they should have. I’ve been blogging long enough to realize that this is just going to happen from time to time, and I do take a genuine interest in failed attempts at my recipes, or just things people don’t like about them that I can address with stuff I make down the road. As far as the brownies are concerned, some folks didn’t like the texture (which many others claim to love, so not sure what to do there), thought they weren’t sweet enough (to which I say just add more honey or use pre-sweetened baking chocolate), or…and I guess this was just one but it stuck with me…that the taste of eggs came through a little too much. So, that was a noodle scratcher. Thankfully I had a whole day to waste…and it only took a couple of tries to get a brownie that is not only egg-free, but that is probably the most dense, fudgey, rich chocolaty thing I’ve ever made. Score.
As far as substitutions go, I use sunflower seed butter when I want that “peanutty” flavor, but any kind of nut butter will do. For a more neutral flavor, I love cashew butter…it’s great for a smooth, almost yellow cake-like taste. For a nut and seed free option, coconut manna is great–I’ve used it in past brownie recipes and it provides a subtle coconut flavor that gives a little extra sweetness without any more sugar. Also, if you don’t have/don’t want to use avocados, one ripe banana will do the job.
For those of you who may be skeptical, I admit collards don’t have the best reputation. I mean, generally they come out straight up *boiled*…goopy, bland, and just plain nasty. These are not like that. Sauteeing them with all this simple goodness not only lets the flavor permeate and keep the texture right where it should be, but actually keeps too many of the oh-so-lovely nutrients in these deep green leaves from leaching out and getting thrown away. Whoever thought it was ok to boil leafy greens…ew. Just ew.