A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to go to Artisanal LA, a gathering of local artisan food makers. A lot of the companies that caught my eye were focused around cozy, home-y themes, like baked goods (duh) and jams, but with a unique twist. One of the cookies we bought from District Cookie is peanut butter milk chocolate cinnamon. We got a sriracha peach jam from m. greenwood (their chipotle strawberry was also delicious!).
I loved all the unique flavor combos and came back inspired to put my own twist on traditional classics, so that’s something I’ll be working on in the coming weeks!
In the meantime, I’m loving acorn and butternut squash. I love the texture and slightly sweet taste of both.
I came up with this quick recipe for dinner one night using what I had on hand.
This would be a great Thanksgiving side dish! It’s vegetarian, vegan, AND gluten-free. The trifecta!
The balsamic-maple marinade would also be delicious on butternut squash or sweet potatoes.
1. Skip the pomegranate seeds and use toasted almonds or walnuts instead.
2. Serve with some greens (kale, arugula, spinach) for more vitamins.
3. The skin is edible, but you can remove it if you’re not into the texture.
What’s everyone up to this weekend? I feel like it’s the calm before the storm. The last weekend before the “official” holiday season begins. I’m planning a pretty decadent cake to bring to Thanksgiving dinner, so I’ll be working on ironing all the details out for that, as well as working on November’s Daring Bakers Challenge!
- 1 acorn squash
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted (or olive oil)
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon agave maple syrup (or maple syrup or pancake syrup)
- 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Soften the squash by microwaving for 2 minutes. This will make it easier to cut.
Cut the squash in half vertically. Scoop out the seeds. Slice into 1 inch pieces.
Whisk the coconut oil, balsamic vinegar, and maple syrup. Season with salt and pepper.
Put the squash in a casserole dish. Drizzle the liquid on top and toss to coat. The squash should be in a single layer.
Roast for 20 - 25 minutes until squash is soft. Serve over quinoa, rice, kale, spinach or just on its own. Top with pomegranate seeds and extra balsamic if you'd like.
I’ve been following some really cool bikini competitors on Instagram, like @jazzythings and @dallassrae. They’ve really motivated me to start playing around with different ingredients, like nut flours, nut butters, nut milks, and protein powder.
These girls are on really strict diets during competition prep, so the point here is to be able to satisfy a craving with a more nutrient dense, clean version. Check out these waffles and pumpkin cookies!
After seeing things like this in my feed, I just couldn’t handle it anymore. I’d planned to order some coconut sugar, among other things from VitaCost, which has all sorts of amazing products way cheaper than brick & mortar stores.
Coconut sugar has about the same calories as regular granulated white sugar, but it also has iron, zinc, potassium, and antioxidants. It’s also a low glycemic food, meaning it doesn’t spike your blood sugar as much as white sugar does. It’s not a miracle food, afterall, it is sugar, but it’s a slightly better option.
WELL, I walked into Trader Joe’s and scoped out the case of new items, as usual, and to my surprise they’ve started selling organic coconut sugar for only $3.99! I snatched that up quickly, and after the cashier chatting me up about what I planned to do with my coconut sugar, I began my little experiment.
I remembered seeing a recipe on Averie Cooks for cookies using coconut oil, so I used that as my base. I amped it up with the addition of cinnamon sugar for a snickerdoodle-like effect.
The appearance of the cookies is a little misleading — since they’re brown, I immediately think chocolate or gingerbread, but it’s actually the brown color of the coconut sugar that’s shining through here.
The cookies don’t really taste like coconut. The coconut sugar actually has a little bit of a molasses flavor. The cookies are soft and chewy, but not as soft as a “soft-baked” cookie. Those aren’t my thing.
This recipe uses mostly oat flour. Oat flour is just old fashioned oatmeal milled (aka ground) into a fine powder, about the consistency of normal all-purpose flour. I used both oat flour and all-purpose flour because I was afraid the oat flour might have a strange texture and I wanted to balance it out. These cookies turned out absolutely excellent, and if you’d like to use all oat flour to make the cookies gluten-free, I think you’d still get a really great result.
I’ve found that coconut oil is very interesting. It has a very low melting point, generally considered to be around 75 degrees, which happens to be around the average “room temperature” homes are kept at. I didn’t know this at first, so it was strange to open my pantry and see its form varying from liquid to solid.
The key to using coconut oil as a replacement for butter in cookies is to make sure it’s about the same softness as room temperature butter.
These Snickerdoodle White Chocolate Cookies came out so incredibly delicious. I was absolutely shocked. Because we all know the “better for you” versions of baked goods are usually: A. loaded with preservatives and chemicals and/or B. not the most tasty. I love this recipe so much that I can’t wait to use it as a base for other flavor combinations.
1. Skip the all-purpose flour and use all oat flour to make gluten-free cookies.
2. Replace the egg with your favorite vegan egg substitute to make vegan cookies.
3. Want a traditional cookie? Use room temperature unsalted butter in place of the coconut oil, granulated sugar in place of the coconut sugar, and solely all-purpose flour. All measurements remain the same.
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, softened
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup coconut sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup oat flour
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup white chocolate chips
- 1/2 tablespoon coconut sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
In a mixer, cream the coconut oil, egg, sugar, and vanilla for about 4 minutes.
Slowly mix in the flours, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Fold in the white chocolate chips.
Use a scant 1/4 cup of dough to form 14 balls, flattening slightly.
Place them on a plate in a single layer and allow to chill in the freezer for about an hour, until they're firm but not hard. If you freeze them longer and they get stuck to the plate, just heat them in the microwave in 5-10 second intervals until you're able to scoop them off.
When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with oil (keeping with the theme, I used coconut).
Combine the remaining cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Roll or press the cookies into the cinnamon sugar so that it sticks.
Place the cookies about 2 inches apart, as they're going to spread a bit.
Bake for 5-7 minutes, until the tops are just set. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then move to a cooling rack to finish. But don't let them cool too much because they're EXCELLENT when warm. And when briefly heated up after they've cooled.
Adapted from Averie Cooks
This past weekend was so exciting!
I started running this year and was barely able to do 1 mile without stopping. I need to have a goal in mind, so I began using the C25k App (Free Couch to 5k app) as a way to motivate myself. Each week there was a different routine, but although the end goal was to be able to run 3.1 miles without stopping, I wasn’t necessarily training to do an official 5k.
Once I’d achieved my goal, I set my sights higher, on a 10k, and on an evening that seemed magical, I ran more than a 10k, weeks ahead of my training.
At this point, I figured I could probably sign up for a 5k race and not embarrass myself by being a slow and tired mess while my friends zoomed past me.
I decided to do the Inaugural Hard Rock Cafe 5k Run — very close to where I live, easy course along the Walk of Fame, music-oriented, cute medal.
I hadn’t really set a goal for my performance at the race. Really, when it comes down to it, signing up and participating is already a goal accomplished for me personally. I have to pay $40 for the opportunity to run down Hollywood Blvd? Shouldn’t someone be paying ME $40 to get up at 5:30am on a Saturday and run 3 miles? I voluntarily signed up to do this? WHO AM I??
Saturday was the race and I’d decided I’d like to set a personal record (PR) for my fastest 5k. So I would need to beat 27 minutes 55 seconds.
My boyfriend and I lined up near the beginning of the finish line with the other runners that would be competitively running the race.
I’m competitive by nature, but when it comes to athletics, I have very low confidence. I was always picked last and teased about my lack of coordination and slowness. Another reason why this race was a huge deal for me! Not to mention why I joined the rowing team in college, it’s pretty hard for clumsy limbs to flail around when your feet are locked into shoes and your hands are tightly gripping an oar.
This weekend I was running with my boyfriend and I already knew when it came down to it I would be running the course on my own — he’s faster than me, and I knew in order to finish the race strong, i would need to keep a slow and steady pace so I wouldn’t outdo myself in the first mile or so.
When the gun went off, we stayed together briefly, but I knew the pace was much too fast for me, so I began to slow and fall behind him. My Nike app was saying I was running at a pace of an 8:05 mile, my usual is around 9:00.
In my practice runs, I’d only been doing 2.5 – 2.75 miles. I set my goal up incorrectly in my Nike App, so when it began cheering me on saying I was almost at my goal, I was really still another 3/4 of a mile away from the finish. My boyfriend was a few lengths ahead of me.
I was tired. I started lifting weights 2 weeks prior to the race which was a bad idea because now my calves were throbbing, when I’d normally be okay. But my app said I was running almost 45 seconds faster per mile than I was used to, so I allowed myself to do something I normally associate with failure: I stopped and walked a few seconds.
And then again.
My confidence was slipping fast, even though I had plenty of wiggle room to still be able to beat my PR.
I looked around me and saw a boy, maybe 10 years old, with his father, whizzing by me. In front of me was a large man, just chugging away. There were a few other girls near me, about my same age and build, a bit shorter.
I kind of snapped out of it and thought “What am I doing!? I’ve got this! I’ve been running 3.1 miles for months, I can’t stop now.”
The rest of the race I kept pace with two girls near me. I kept thinking, “They’re struggling too. This is not a cakewalk for them. We’re in this together.”
When I finally crossed the finish line, I quickly fidgeted with my phone inside my armband to end the timer on my run and gleaming back at me was my time: 25:48.
25 minutes and 48 seconds.
I’d beat my previous record by over 2 minutes.
I’d even beat my fastest mile (7:57) and fastest 1k (4:57).
Three records broken.
Even though I walked.
Even though I thought I was “failing.”
I left that race with a smile on my face, a cute medal, and the feeling that I did something athletic for the first time and actually nailed it.
Afterwards, I also found out that I placed 28th out of 206 girls in my division. I can’t believe it.
So to all boys and girls throughout elementary, middle, and high school that didn’t want me on their team, who are now overweight and lazy: take that.
I don’t have any plans at the moment to do another 5k or graduate on to a 10k, but I definitely want to. It’s been really difficult getting up early in the morning for a run or going after work since it’s dark out. I think I’m going to take it easy a bit and do some workouts at my boyfriend’s gym throughout the holidays and reassess when the new year comes.
So far, one of the things on my mind for next year is that I’d really like to get more serious about eating “clean.” It’s kind of the basis of what this blog started out as in 2009, before I’d heard it described as “clean eating.” Although it’s debated over whether agave is clean, this recipe is pretty clean.
This Cranberry Apple Sweet Potato Hash is pulling in all different types of fall flavors: cranberries, nuts (almonds), sweet potatoes, apples, and maple. Is it sweet or savory? Well, both.
I remember a few years ago when I had a personal trainer to lose all the pounds I packed in during a month-long trip to Europe. I was on a super crazy strict diet. Once you cut most refined sugars out of your diet, real dessert becomes crazily sweet.
If you’re restricting sugar, this recipe will be a dessert you can eat without feeling like you’ve cheated.
If you’re not watching your sugar, throw some whipped cream and cinnamon on here and you’ve got yourself a dessert.
Want to make this work as a side dish with dinner? Serve it alongside pork chops, or perhaps on top of some quinoa or greens.
It’s sweet in a gentle way.
This is a quick recipe (I made it, ate it, and cleaned up my mess, all during my hour lunch break, with time to spare) and uses inexpensive ingredients.
- 1/2 cup apple cider
- 8 ounces sweet potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped
- 1 apple
- 3/4 cup shredded red cabbage
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or maple agave syrup blend
- 2 tablespoons sliced almonds
Warm the cider in a skillet over medium heat. Add the sweet potatoes and cover. Sautee for 4 - 5 minutes. If you don't have a lid for your pan, a baking sheet placed on top works great!
Add the cranberries, apple, and cabbage, cook for 2 minutes. Add the syrup, stir to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Top with the sliced almonds.
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Hannah of Rise and Shine was our October 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she challenged us to bake our own double crusted savory pot pies. Using any from-scratch crust and filling we choose, we were allowed to get completely creative with our recipe, showing off the savory flavors and fillings from our own home or region.
Chicken pot pie is a delicious meal, but it’s typically so heavy. I’m trying to really pick and choose what I indulge in as we approach the holiday season, but I didn’t want to skip out in this month’s challenge.
A top and bottom crust were required in the challenge — normally I’d only do a top crust to lighten this up, but I stuck to the rules. If I was going to indulge in a traditional crust with a lot of butter and flour, I decided to make it super tasty by adding a combination of fresh and dried herbs.
The requirements for the filling were just that it needed to have a gravy. I used this as my opportunity to cut calories. Instead of the usual butter, milk, and flour used to make gravy, I used puréed cauliflower and broth. I decided to keep it vegetarian and filled out the rest of the dish with veggies.
This recipe is a really fun project. The dough is supposed to rest in the freezer for an hour, but while that’s going on you can make the sauce and filling. For the veggies in the filling (kale, carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, broccoli, onion) I was using what I had on hand, but feel free to add some protein (chicken or black beans would be great) and whatever veggies you have on hand.
- 3 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening
- 3/4 cup (6 ounces) cold unsalted butter
- 1 cup cold water
- About 1 lb cauliflower, roughly chopped
- 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 sprig whole fresh rosemary
- 1 1/2 cups diced potatoes (I used gold potatoes)
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped carrots
- 1 cup mushrooms, roughly sliced
- 3/4 cup small bite-sized broccoli florets
- 1/2 small yellow onion
- 2 cups chopped kale, stems removed
Add flour, sugar, salt, finely chopped rosemary, thyme, and black pepper to a large bowl. Stir to combine.
Add the shortening and quickly grate the butter over the bowl. You want the shortening and butter to stay as cold as possible. Cut the butter and shortening into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender, wire whisk, or fork, until the dough is pea-sized crumbles.
Pour in the cold water and gather the dough into a ball. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead about 10 times.
Divide the dough in half, form each into a ball and flatten into a disc. Cover the two discs, separately, in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Boil cauliflower until you can easily pierce it with a fork. Drain cauliflower and place in a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth, then blend in the broth.
Put the cauliflower puree in a saucepan. Add the sprig of rosemary and heat on low while preparing remaning ingredients.
Place the potatoes and carrots in a saucepan. Cover with cold water, about an inch past the vegetables. Boil until tender. Drain.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Remove the cauliflower puree from the heat and put it in a large bowl. Add the potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, onion, and kale. Stir to coat. Set aside.
On a floured surface, roll out one of the discs of dough to about 1/4 inch thick. It should be about 15 inches in diameter to properly fit a 9-inch pie pan.
Sprinkle the dough with flour. Fold the disc in half, then into quarters. Transfer to the pie pan, pointed end facing towards the center of the pan. Unfold the dough.
Spoon the filling into the pie crust.
Follow the instructions above for the second piece of dough. Place it on top of the filled crust. Pinch the edges together to seal, or crimp with a fork.
Bake for 45 - 50 minutes, until the top crust is becoming golden brown. If using a glass pie pan, look at the bottom of the pie to check the color there as well. If it's browning too quickly, cover it with foil. If the edges are browning, but not the middle, just cover the edges with foil.
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