Category Archives: Baked Goods

Quick-Fix Chocolate Almond Cake

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Recipe Redux, March, 2016: 7 or less ingredient recipe

Some days, you just really need that quick-fix of chocolate, but you don’t want all that extra sugar. This Quick-Fix Chocolate Almond Cake recipe is sure to please, and even when you are in a real hurry.  It takes only 6 ingredients to prepare, and cooks in less than 2 minutes in your microwave. Since it makes only 2 servings, you are not stuck wondering what to do a bunch of leftover cake pieces once your craving has been satiated. Sweetened with ripe banana and apple sauce, and not with processed sugar, you will feel good about what you are eating too.

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Dessert for two in under 10 minutes!

You could make this whole recipe in one mug (all the rage these days). The up side to mugging it is you can mix and “bake” all in the same container. The down side to that method is that you will be tempted to eat it all yourself! (remember this recipe feeds two people).

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May prepare a bit quicker, but it’s so much harder to share a cake from one mug

Instead, I recommend using 2 silicone muffin cups for cooking. This way each serving size is obvious. Do lightly spray cups with olive oil before adding the batter so the cakes remove easily after baking.

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Silicone muffin cups: perfect for personal-sized cake making.

The riper the banana, the sweeter the cake. I recommend using a banana that is very ripe for this recipe. Also, make sure to serve this cake alongside fresh fruit like berries. The tartness of raspberries pairs especially nicely with the chocolate.

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Fun for Two

To make your own easy sauce: add 1 cup fresh berries to a blender with a little squeeze of fresh lime juice and a tablespoon of honey or maple syrup.

Quick-Fix Chocolate Almond Cake

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Quick-Fix Chocolate Almond Cake

INGREDIENTS
1/4 cup Almond flour
2 tablespoons Cocoa powder
1 medium Banana, ripe, mashed
3 tablespoons Apple sauce
2 teaspoons Coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon Vanilla extract

PREPARATION
In a medium bowl, add the almond flour and cocoa powder and stir to mix. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine.

Lightly spray to silicone muffin cups with olive oil. Divide batter between the two cups. Microwave cakes together for 1 minute and 45 seconds on high heat. Allow cakes to rest 1-2 minutes before gently removing them from cups.

Serve with fresh berries, mint and/or berry sauce.

Makes 2 servings.
Serving size 1 cake.
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Orange Cranberry Bread

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Recipe Redux – November, 2015: Creative Quick Breads

It’s no surprise that quick breads are very popular around the holidays. They are easy to prepare and can be made days in advance of the big meal. With so much to do for any holiday feast, any dish done ahead of time is most welcome.

From a healthy standpoint, the downside to quick breads is that often these recipes are loaded with processed sugars. I decided for my challenge I would instead sweeten my bread with fruit and fruit juice. With date, orange, apple and cranberry in every bite, one could easily rename this fruit bread! But trust me, this tastes nothing like any holiday fruit bread most are accustomed to having.

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Fresh from the oven

My recipe here is a redux of one I discovered online in Epicurious for Orange Nut Bread, and which first appeared in Bon Appetit in January, 1998. My newer, Recipe Redux version is gluten-free and includes whole grain flours. The butter is replaced with olive oil and apple sauce, the white sugar with dates, and the orange juice concentrate with fresh squeezed juice. Fresh cranberries were used to add tartness. I also added some vanilla extract for nice contrast to the tart cranberries.

Because this bread is sweetened entirely with fruit, the end result is less sweet than typical quick breads. It also holds its shape nicely during slicing and eating, making it a great candidate for use with open-faced sandwiches. Top a slice with leftover turkey and other holiday fixings. Yum!

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Perfect alongside any holiday meal

Tip: When combining the liquid with the dry ingredients, do not worry about stirring your batter too much. Since there is no gluten, you can not cause your bread to turn out tough by over-mixing.

While I did not use nuts, they could also work nicely in this recipe. If desired, stir in a 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts or almonds when you also add in the fresh cranberries to the batter.

INGREDIENTS

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Orange Cranberry Bread

3/4 cup Dates, pitted
3/4 cup Orange juice, fresh squeezed
1/2 cup Apple sauce, unsweetened
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 large Eggs
1/4 cup Olive oil
3/4 cup Tapioca flour
1/2 cup Buckwheat flour
1/2 cup Sorghum flour
1 tablespoon Baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 tablespoon Orange peel, grated
3/4 cup Cranberries, fresh

PREPARATION
In a small bowl, soak dates in orange juice for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Add soaked dates and orange juice to food processor and blend for about a minute, or until dates are pulverized. Continue processing and add in the apple sauce and vanilla extract, then add in eggs one at a time, and lastly slowly add in olive oil.  Stop processing.

In a large bowl mix together the tapioca, buckwheat and sorghum flours, baking powder, Xanthan gum and salt. Mix the liquid ingredients into the dry 1/4 at a time. Stir the orange peel and fresh cranberries into the batter.

Lightly spray a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2″ loaf pan with olive oil. Pour batter into pan.

Bake loaf about 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove bread from oven and cool 5 minutes in pan. Remove bread from pan onto cooling rack. Cool bread completely. Slice bread for serving.

Store bread at room temperature wrapped in plastic.
Bread will hold at room temperature for 2 days.

Makes about 16 slices.
serving size 1 slice

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A delicious slice ready for toppings


Pear Chocolate Chip Pie with Almond Buckwheat Crust

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Recipe Redux – June, 2015: Pie Love

Break out your sweet tooth, because it’s about to get indulged… and without all the saturated fat that usually also comes along with pie-eating.

 

Here, fresh dates, olive oil and almonds take the place of the butter and lard usually stuffed into a pie crust. So your heart will be as happy as your taste buds. This crust recipe also calls buckwheat flour. Now, don’t let the name fool you – buckwheat does sound like it has wheat, but they are not even related. It is gluten-free, whole grain goodness (OK, technically buckwheat’s a seed, but it’s so nutrient dense and versatile I keep it in the grain category for posterity), and it’s totally delicious, especially when combined with pear. Use any leftover buckwheat flour to make crepes.

Delicious Almond Buckwheat crust awaiting filling
Delicious Almond Buckwheat crust awaiting filling
fresh, juicy d'Anjou pears
fresh and  juicy d’Anjou pears

Normally I reserve pears for tarts and apples for pies. I won’t make that mistake again! This pear pie was so devine; to call eating it “love” is absolutely appropriate. I used d’Anjou pears, but other varieties could work too.

To lightly toast the sliced almonds, pour almonds into a medium fry pan over medium heat. Cook for about 2 minutes, tossing almonds often. Cool before using.

Do note that several ingredients will be used in both the pie filling and crust.

Tip #1: Before you fold the chocolate into the pears, do make sure to cool the filling well enough so that the chips keep their shape and don’t melt away on you. The separate tastes of the little chocolate bits on your tongue, along with the luscious pear, plus the dark, decadent almond crust- wow, total mouth party!

Tip #2: Use 1 or 2 pears that are real ripe; the rest firm. The ripe ones will break down extra during the pan cooking process and give you a thick, delicious syrup. Don’t use too many really ripe pears or you will only have syrup! If you do make it super syrupy, use extra arrowroot to thicken it up. Likewise, if you use all under-ripe pears and get little syrup with cooking, then cut your arrowroot by half.

Got to have nothing but love for a slice of pie that’s healthy enough to call Breakfast food.

INGREDIENTS

pear filling, awaiting its chocolate
pear filling, awaiting its chocolate

1/2 cup Dates, pitted, quartered
1/4 cup Water, to be divided
1 cup Almonds, sliced, blanched, lightly toasted
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon Buckwheat flour, to be divided
1/4 teaspoon Salt, to be divided
2 tablespoons Olive oil, to be divided
1/3 cup Brown Sugar
2 tablespoons Lemon juice
1 teaspoon Cinnamon, ground
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg, fresh grated
3 pounds Pears, fresh, rinsed
2 tablespoons Arrowroot powder
1/2 cup Chocolate chips*

PREPARATION
In a small bowl add the dates and water. Let dates soak 15 minutes. Do not throw away soak water!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Into a food processor add the soaked dates, almond slices, 1/2 cup of the buckwheat and 1/8 teaspoon of the salt. As you pulse-mix the ingredients together, slowly drizzle in 2 tablespoons worth of the reserved date soak water and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.  Mix until you have a moist, nut-speckled thick “paste”. Press the crust into the bottom and sides of an 8-inch pie pan, making sure to evenly distribute. Set shell aside.

In a large bowl, add the brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, 1/8 tablespoon of the salt and the remaining date soak water and stir to combine. Peel and core pears, then slice to about 1/8-inch thick, tossing the pear slices into the sugar syrup as you go to keep the fruit from browning.

In a large pan add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add pears and cook while stirring, about 5-7 minutes, or until pears are tender. Remove from heat; into the pears stir in the remaining tablespoon of buckwheat flour.

In a small bowl, add the arrowroot. Add a few tablespoons of pear syrup to the arrowroot and stir until the arrowroot is fully dissolved and there are no lumps or clumps. Pour the arrowroot mixture to the cooked pear slices and stir well to combine and thicken.

Allow the pear slices to cool down. Fold the chocolate chips into the pear slices then pour filling into pie crust.

Bake for an hour. Cool pie on a bake rack. Before it has cooled, gently run a butter knife between the crust and the pie pan edge once (helps keep crust from sticking as it cools). Once cooled, slice into pie wedges and serve.

*Allergy note: Double check that your chocolate chips are dairy-free and gluten free before using, if needed.

Makes 8-10 servings.

Pear Chocolate Chip Pie with Almond Buckwheat Crust
Pear Chocolate Chip Pie with Almond Buckwheat Crust



Cranberry Allspice Scones

Cranberry Allspice Scones
The Recipe Redux – October, 2014: Spooky Spices

So, this month’s Recipe Redux challenge was to come face to face with a “spooky spice” – create a dish with a spice that seemed scary to use. A scary spice? What spooked me most about this project was to NOT find a spice that I felt fear from working with (I did want to compete in this challenge after all!) Being a certifiable spice-aholic, often I am found concocting different spice blends, and utilizing even the most obscure spices to me seems exciting, not scary.

 

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Just in time for fall…

Could no spice fit this challenge? To decide for sure, I opened my cabinet and, one by one, began thinking up dishes each spice could play a starring role in. Soon visions of cinnamon-stick skewered chicken k-bobs, cubes of pink-peppercorn-crusted venison, and filets of cumin-dusted whitefish were dancing in my head. So many meaty thoughts had me soon feeling in need of a detox so, with turmeric up next, it soon found star status in an anti-inflammatory raw veggie smoothie.

 

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Perfect with tomorrow’s breakfast…

Down the rows I went, grabbing bottles and daydreaming dishes, yet not once did my spine sense a shiver.  And just when I thought no spice would suffice, I grabbed…

Allspice.

Well, well, well… here’s one that made me stop and think… actually I do use allspice often- in fact, just last month it appeared in my Autumn Pie Spice Blend for my Oven-Dried Apple Chips recipe. But it always played a small, supporting role, never the star spice. As I thought  to myself, “yikes, what the heck DO you make with allspice?” I realized, I had found me a winner!

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tasty goodness in every bite!

Eventually I decided on scones for allspice’s first crack at kitchen stardom. With such rich earthiness I felt it would pair great with fall fruits and veggies. Cranberries, orange, pumpkin and apple were chosen, and all played well with our featured seasoning. The buckwheat, amaranth and potato flours complemented nicely too. (If you can’t find amaranth flour, you could substitute with millet or sorghum flours, but trust me it’s worth the search to find it!)

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Cranberry Allspice Scones

When trying this recipe out in your own kitchen, if using unsweetened cranberries I recommend sweetening them yourself: place the dried cranberries in a small bowl, then add enough orange juice to cover berries and soak them for a few hours in the refrigerator before preparing the scones. Drain the orange juice from the cranberries before using them in this recipe. If left unsweetened, they may make the scones too tart.

The turbinado sugar on top gives a nice bonus crunch and touch of sweet. If you do not have Turbinado, you could sub with regular or brown sugar instead, but larger granules do look, and taste, the best.

Of course, most important to remember when preparing these scones: the cinnamon is optional. 😉

INGREDIENTS

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Cranberry Allspice Scones

1/2 cup Buckwheat flour
1/2 cup Amaranth flour
1/2 cup Potato starch
1 tablespoon Baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Xanthan gum
1 1/4 teaspoons Allspice, ground
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon Salt
1/3 cup Brown sugar
2 tablespoons Olive oil
1/2 cup Apple sauce, unsweetened
1 large Egg
1/2 cup Pumpkin, mashed
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 cup Cranberries, dried, fruit-sweetened
1/2 tablespoon Turbinado sugar

PREPARATION
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, mix together the buckwheat, amaranth and potato starch flours, baking powder, Xanthan gum, allspice, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together sugar, oil and apple sauce until light. Add egg and beet smooth. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in orange zest.

Add flour mix to liquids and stir until everything is moistened. Fold in cranberries.

Scoop mixture into lightly greased muffin or scone pans. Don’t try to smooth out the batter perfectly in the pan because the more uneven and lumpy it is, the more tasty, crunchier parts you will have to your baked scones. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until muffins spring back when touched in the middle. About twenty minutes into baking (5 minutes before baking is done), sprinkle a little Turbinado sugar on top of each scone.

Set scones on rack to cool. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Makes 12 scones.

 


Almond Cakes “to go” with Quinoa & Cranberry

Almond Cakes “to go” with Quinoa and Cranberry
The Recipe Redux – August, 2014: Bars and Bites for Brown Bags

For many families, the end of August also marks the return of school. Trying to come up with healthy options that are easy to transport, and which the kids will enjoy, can often feel like a daunting task.

These Almond “to-go” Cakes will make for a tasty, healthy addition to any brown bag. Kids love them because they are shaped like cookies, yet are moist and delicious like a cake. Moms love them because they are loaded with whole grains (buckwheat, quinoa and oats). These also make for a wonderful, healthful breakfast treat. I used tri-colored quinoa when I baked these, but any color quinoa will work fine in this recipe.

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Your whole family will enjoy these palm-sized treats!

For extra fun, let the kids make their own designs on top of the cakes with the almonds just before baking. Over lunch they can show off their art work to their friends.

Many recipes for cakes and cookies often call for a stick or more of regular butter. This version replaces butter with mashed pumpkin and olive oil, which really cuts back the total saturated fat.

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Almond cakes to-go with Quinoa and Cranberry: serve with fruit for a perfect snack!

For delicious recipe variations: fold in 1/2 cup of shredded coconut or 3/4 cup chocolate chips into the mix just before shaping cookies. Dried cherries also taste great in place of the cranberries.

Happy Healthy Baking!

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Almond Cakes “to-go” with Quinoa and Cranberry

INGREDIENTS
2/3 cup Almond flour
1/2 cup Tapioca flour
1/3 cup Buckwheat flour
1 teaspoon Baking powder
1 teaspoon Baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Xanthan gum
3/4 cup Pumpkin, mashed
1/3 cup Brown sugar
1/3 cup Maple syrup
2 large Eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon Almond extract
1/4 cup Olive oil
1 cup Quinoa, cooked
1 cup Oats, old fashioned, gluten-free
1 cup Cranberries, dried, fruit-sweetened
1/4 cup Almonds, sliced

PREPARATION
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

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Almond “to-go” cake batter prepped and ready for the oven

In a medium bowl whisk together the flours, baking powder and soda, salt and Xanthan gum.

In a large bowl using an electric mixer on low, whisk together pumpkin, sugar, maple syrup, eggs, and extracts until mixture is light and frothy. Slowly drizzle in olive oil while mixing. Beat in flour mixture 1/2 cup at a time. With a spatula, stir in cooked quinoa, oats, and cranberries. Using a 2 tablespoon scoop, spoon portions onto parchment-lined cookie sheet. Gently press slice almonds into tops of cookies.

Bake to-go cakes for 15-20 minutes, or until cookies spring back to the touch. Place cakes on cookie rack to cool.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

 

 

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Concord Grape Oat Squares

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This was an extra fun post to put together, as it brought me out of the kitchen and over to visit one of my local farms, Nature’s Farm in Dover, NH, where  I personally collected some amazing grapes fresh off the vine. If you ever get the opportunity, do make the time and effort to pick your own grapes from a local farmer. The smell alone from being surrounded by all of the divine fruit was so amazing! These were happily growing off vines intertwined with a crab apple tree.

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Beautiful, Ripe Concord Grape Vines intertwined with Crab Apple Tree at Nature’s Farm in Dover, NH

This Concord Grape Oat Squares recipe is a healthier adaptation of a recipe originally developed by one of my Professors from Johnson & Wales University. Chef Dean Lavornia’s Raspberry Oat Crumble Bars are admittedly tasty, but they also call for two sticks of butter per one pan of squares- a recipe with a definite need of a healthy Redux if I ever saw one! Without all the butter, my version admittedly won’t crumble quite like the original, but they are still quite tasty squares and are far friendlier to both your heart and waistline. You could have some as a dessert, for a snack, or even with breakfast.

Concord Grape Squares -fresh out of the oven

Olive oil, apple sauce and maple syrup are replacing the butter and brown sugar usually found in a recipe of this type. Instead of buying processed, sugary preserves, I used homemade grape “quick-jam,” with chia seeds as the quick-thickener. Yes, you could substitute store jam here, but trust me, it’s worth breaking out the blender to make your own quick-jam yourself instead. Tip: you may want to double the jam portion of this recipe and keep the extra as a delicious morning treat with your toast. You can throw berries in with the grapes too.

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Plump, Hand-Picked Concord Grapes

INGREDIENTS
for the Quick-Jam:
1.5 cups Concord grapes, seeded
4 teaspoons Chia seeds
1 tablespoon Water, warm
2 tablespoons Honey

for the dough:
1/2 cup Oat flour*
1/2 cup Sorghum flour
1/4 cup Buckwheat flour
1/2 teaspoon Xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 cup Maple syrup
1/3 cup Olive oil
1 cup Apple sauce
1 large Egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla extract, pure
1 cup Old fashioned rolled oats*
1/3 cup Walnuts, shelled, chopped

PREPARATION

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 8×8 baking dish then line it with parchment paper. Make sure parchment is long enough so that at least two ends can overhang the dish rim. Lightly spray parchment with olive oil.

To make the jam: In a high-powered blender add jam ingredients. (Include honey if the grapes need some sweetening, but if substituting the Concord grapes with a sweeter variety, cut the amount of honey by at least half). Process until a jam consistency, about a minute. Set aside.

To make the dough: In a large bowl combine the oat, sorghum and buckwheat flours along with the xanthan gum, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and mix together. Add the apple sauce, olive oil, egg and vanilla and mix well. Fold in the rolled oats and chopped walnuts.

To assemble: Divide the dough in half. Pour half the dough into the baking dish lined with parchment, evenly covering the bottom of the dish. Spread the grape jam evenly over the layer of dough. Top the jam layer with the remaining dough by taking small, thin dollops of dough and gently spreading them over the jam (top layer won’t really cover perfectly, and that’s OK; it will still taste great!)

Bake until golden and cooked through, about 40 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes then carefully lift pastry out of pan using the parchment. Slice into a dozen squares. Enjoy!

*Note: If preparing this gluten-free, make sure to use certified gluten-free oats.

Makes a dozen servings

Serving size: 1 square

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Special thanks out to Brian “Nature” Stern for welcoming us onto his farm and for supplying us, as well as our local restaurants, with some amazing produce!



 

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A Little Slice of Heaven!