In The Pantry — Coconut Flour

I made a recent visit to Wegmans to refill the (seemingly millions) of Pop containers I have with all sorts of whole grains and flours.  When my shopping reminder for Coconut Flour came up I figured I should find some way to use up what I had.  I love coconut.  Not that I’m hoping for this, but if I ever get stuck on a desert island, I’ll be ok as long as there are a few coconut trees around.  I checked the package information and it said you can substitute Coconut Flour for up to 1/3 of the flour in any recipe. So, morning muffins seemed like a perfect place to test it out.

To my surprise, the muffins didn’t taste overwhelmingly of coconut, but they had a great light texture.  They also didn’t brown up as much as muffins usually do, so I had to check on them with the cake tester (toothpick) to see that there was a crumb clinging to it before I took it out.

 

Blueberry-Orange Muffins (Makes 12 muffins)

Blueberry Muffins

 

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour or whole grain pastry flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 beaten eggs
1/2 cup light flavored oil (safflower, grapeseed, etc)
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon finely shredded orange peel (NOTE: Wait until the liquid ingredients are mixed and grate the orange peel over the liquid ingredients)
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

 

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Add paper liners to a 12 cup muffin pan or spray the cups with an oil spray.
2. Stir together flour, coconut flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl. Make a well in the center of flour mixture.
3. Whisk eggs until fluffy.  (The volume will increase and there will be fine bubbles on top.)  Slowly pour in the oil while whisking the eggs again.  Add milk while continuing to whisk.  Grate the orange peel over the liquid ingredients to try and capture any extra orange oil.
4. Pour liquid ingredients into the well you made in the flour mixture.  Fold the dry ingredients over onto the liquid ingredients.  Stir just until moistened (batter will be lumpy). Fold in blueberries.
5. Use a large cookie scoop to get the  batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each almost full. If desired, sprinkle tops with coarse sugar.
6. Bake in preheated oven 20 minutes.
7. Cool in muffin cups on wire rack 5 minutes.
8. Remove from muffin cups.

Homemade Granola kind of morning

I’m on a granola kick now. This of course goes back to my yogurt making. I’ve stretched the yogurt making time from 12 hours to 15 so now its tart. Which I love, but it screams for granola. I considered buying some in the store. But the kid was sleeping, Hubs was running the Broad Street Run and so I rummaged.

Granola

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Preheat oven to 250F

In a large bowl:
3 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup sweetened coconut or shredded unsweetened
3 Tablespoons Maca Powder
1 cup raw hazelnuts
3/4 tsp salt

In another bowl/measuring cup:
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 cup honey

In a separate bowl:
1 cup roasted & salted pistachios
1/2 cup tart cherries
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

Add oil & honey mixture to oat mixture. Mix with your hands. Spread out on a sheet pan. And put in the oven.

Set a timer to go off every 15 minutes. You will need to turn the mixture so it bakes evenly.

Let it bake for an hour and a half. As soon as its done, take it out of the oven and pour the contents of the remaining bowl on top of the hot oats and turn with a spatula to mix it all together while its still warm.

Let cool completely on the sheet pan. Use spatula to loosen from the sheet pan (this is crumbly granola not bars) Store in an airtight container.

Serve with tart Greek-style yogurt & fruit.

Nuts for Biscotti….

Well, it seems my parents are hooked on biscotti again and this time it’s mine.  (Yeah!)  Ok, I’m hooked too…  So, now I’m on a kick to try out as many different kinds of biscotti as I can.  Since I once had a rather unusual breakfast obsession with Nutella on toast at one time in the past, it seemed logical (to me) that whenever I think of hazelnuts, I think of chocolate and coffee.  I should say that I like my biscotti big so I can just grab one and go, so if you prefer smaller biscotti, just make two logs instead of one.

 

 

Double Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

Double Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

2-2/3 cups flour
1/3 cups cocoa powder
2-1/4 tsp  baking powder
3/4 salt
1 Tbsp espresso powder
3 eggs
1-1/3 cup (9 oz) organic cane sugar
3/4 c safflower oil
1 tbsp vanilla
1-1/2 c hazelnuts
3/4 c dark chocolate chips

 

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Roast hazelnuts for 15 minutes or until fragrant.  After 8 minutes, shake pan to rotate hazelnuts.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder & salt.
  • Add vanilla to the oil.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar on medium for three minutes until pale and thick.
  • Beat in vanilla & oil mixture on low speed.
  • Using a wooden spoon, add the flour mixture.
  • Add the hazelnuts and chocolate chips.
  • Using a spatula, transfer dough (which should be quite sticky) to the parchment paper lined baking sheet. Shape into one long log (will be about the length of the baking sheet & 6 inches wide).
  • Wet fingertips and gently smooth the top of the logs.
  • Bake the logs for 25 minutes.  They should be crisp and golden on the outside.  They will still be soft on the inside.
  • Line another baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Cut the logs into 1-inch wide pieces.  Use a serrated steak knife if possible.  Cut slowly and wipe the knife off between cuts to ensure clean cuts each time.
  • Using a long icing knife or long spatula, lift the pieces to the new baking sheet.  Lay the cut pieces on their side.  Space them evenly about 1/2-inch or more apart.
  • Bake in the oven for 22 minutes or until they are crisp and brown on the outside.
  • Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for 20 minutes or until cool to the touch.
  • Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  As the cookies cool they will become crisper.
  • Store in an airtight container.

The Gift That Money Can’t Buy

What do you get the people with everything?  The one thing they can’t find.  For my parents, that is (oddly enough…) biscotti.  They used to get cherry-pistachio biscotti at a spot near my house.  It was amazing and for a while I was hooked on it too.  It wasn’t as crisp as most biscotti so you didn’t need to dip it in coffee/tea in order to take a bite.  As a complete coffee addict, I need every drop of coffee.  When you dip biscotti in coffee, crumbs pool in the bottom of the cup.  I will not be robbed of my last sip, so I refuse to dip my biscotti.  So, as luck would have it, the spot stopped making the “biteable” biscotti and reverted to the standard biscotti that required dipping.  I kept going back to the spot over and over hoping I would find the biscotti but they never went back to the old formula.  So…. I figured I’d do what I do best and try and figure out a way to make it myself. My mother tested the biscotti and has deemed them as good if not better than the original.  Although, as I said, she is my mother so you may need to take this approval with a grain of salt….lol.

 

Cherry Pistachio Biscotti

 Cherry-Pistachio Biscotti 

3 cups (15 oz) flour
2-1/4 tsp  baking powder
3/4 salt
3 eggs
1-1/3 cup (9 oz) organic cane sugar
3/4 c safflower oil
2 tsp orange zest (zest of 2 medium oranges)
1 tbsp vanilla
1-1/2 c pistachios, roasted & salted
3/4 c dried tart cherries

 

  • Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Sift flour, baking powder & salt.
  • Zest orange into the oil.  Add vanilla.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar on medium for three minutes until pale and thick.
  • Beat in orange zest, vanilla & oil mixture on low speed.
  • Using a wooden spoon, add the flour mixture.
  • Add the pistachios and cherries.
  • Using a spatula, transfer dough (which should be quite sticky) to the parchment paper lined baking sheet. Shape into one long log (will be about the length of the baking sheet & 6 inches wide).
  • Wet fingertips and gently smooth the top of the logs.
  • Bake the logs for 25 minutes.  They should be crisp and golden on the outside.  They will still be soft on the inside.
  • Line another baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Cut the logs into 1-inch wide pieces.  Use a serrated steak knife if possible.  Cut slowly and wipe the knife off between cuts to ensure clean cuts each time.
  • Using a long icing knife or long spatula, lift the pieces to the new baking sheet.  Lay the cut pieces on their side.  Space them evenly about 1/2-inch or more apart.
  • Bake in the oven for 22 minutes or until they are crisp and brown on the outside.
  • Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for 20 minutes or until cool to the touch.
  • Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  As the cookies cool they will become crisper.
  • Store in an airtight container.

 

 

 

Hot & Fresh Out The Oven

I have a weekly schedule to make sure I bake. Every week I make chocolate chip w/ nut cookies, sourdough bread and muffins. (The Hubs & Kid may be spoiled.) Baking helps keep me (relatively) sane and relaxed. Since I have an odd version of a sweet tooth (I like sweets that aren’t too sweet), I am also picky about my sweets. And since I also like to pretend that my sweets can be healthy, I load them up with whole grains, coconut oil and sugar alternatives. I can’t get used to the taste of any of the stevia or other branded sugar alternatives so it’s usually honey/maple syrup/golden syrup.

So, when Wednesday (muffin day) came around again and the banana pile was still pretty high, it looked like banana muffins were the way to go. The kid takes these muffins to school for breakfast and I have a fear of causing someone’s child to have an allergic reaction to nuts. So, feel free to use nuts instead of the dried cherries. Actually, any kind of dried fruit should work well in this. Oh and BTW: these fill the muffin cups right to the top.

Banana-Oatmeal Muffins
(Makes 12 muffins)

1 cup old fashioned rolled oats, ground fine in blender OR 1 cup oat flour
1 cup flour
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup coconut oil, room temperature
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 eggs, beaten lightly
1 cup ripe mashed banana
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350F.

Add muffin liners to a 12-muffin pan.

In a medium size bowl, whisk to blend oat flour, flour, dried cherries, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, ginger and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together coconut oil, honey, maple syrup, eggs, banana and vanilla. Stir in sour cream.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients gently. Try not to over-mix.

Spoon mixture into muffin pan.

Bake for 25-30 mins or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.

Cool in muffin pan on a cooling rack for 5 minutes.

Remove muffins from pan. Cool muffins on cooling rack until ready to eat.

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Freezer Waffles

I’ve been buying frozen waffles for The Kid for months when I had time to shop and coupons to cover them.  They were organic and multi-grain, etc. etc. so needless to say they weren’t particularly inexpensive.  This week, I finished the last box of waffles.  I was talking to the Bestie and she said she just makes waffles and freezes them for my goddaughter and I was inspired to give it a try.  I tried a mix and didn’t really like it so I’ve been putting off looking for a new one.  Due to time restraints, I’ve been shopping mostly in bulk online.  (Subscribe & Save is my version of a personal shopper.)  Unfortunately, bulk shopping makes trying out recipes easier than trying out mixes.

Of course, today, I also realized that I needed to feed my multi-grain sourdough starter (I’ll discuss this adventure later).  Which means I had to take out a cup of sourdough starter.  I still have bread from last week’s feeding. So, since I have a completely sappy inability to throw out any of the sourdough, I had to figure out something to do with it.  What can I say… I’ve become attached to my sourdough starter.  If I feed something/someone on a regular basis I tend to get attached.  I knew the risks when I ordered the sourdough starter… so this is not a surprise for me or anyone who knows me.

 

Buttermilk Sourdough Waffles
(makes 4 Belgian Waffles)

Buttermilk Sourdough Waffles

1 cup sourdough starter
1 cup warm water
1/2 cup dried buttermilk powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup coconut oil
4 eggs (separate the egg whites from the egg yolks)
1-1/2  cups flour
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

 

NOTE: If you have an 8-cup glass measuring cup this is the ideal “medium size bowl” so you can see if something is really doubled.

In a medium size bowl, add the starter, warm water, buttermilk powder, salt, sugar and coconut oil.  Whisk to blend.  Whisk in the flour.  Whisk the egg yolks then add to the flour mixture.  Leave the flour mixture to sit until it doubles in volume.  This may take an hour depending on how warm it is in the kitchen.  (Check on it earlier if it’s warm and check on it later if it’s cool in the kitchen).  Leave the egg whites covered on the counter until they reach room temperature.

When the dough is doubled, preheat the waffle iron.

Beat the egg whites until you get stiff peaks. (Turn the beaters upside down.  If the point stands up, It’s ready.  If it falls limply to the side, keep on beating).  Add the vanilla and about a third of the egg whites to the dough using a whisk.  When the egg whites and vanilla are incorporated, add the remaining egg whites to the dough.  You want to add the egg whites without deflating them.  So, use the whisk to fold the egg whites into the dough slowly.

Every waffle iron differs so you’ll need to check the instructions on your waffle iron to determine how to make your waffles.

If serving, hold the finished waffles in a 200F oven until you are ready to go to the table.

If freezing, let waffles cool on a cooling rack then store in plastic bags freezer.  Toast from frozen when ready to serve.

Breakfast of Champions (…who like spices)

I have not been able to prove it yet, but I am sure there is a little man pushing fast-forward on all the clocks around me. Sometimes I just don’t know where the time goes. So, lately most of the cooking I’ve been doing is the multi-tasking variety. The food kind of cooks itself while I do everything else and when I come back, I push a button (of sorts) and it’s all done. That’s how I got to this morning’s breakfast. Thanks to The Bestie, I fell in love with horchata recently. She has been a huge fan for years, but for some (completely ridiculous reason) I refused to try it. Then I made it and after one sip, I was done for. Completely, utterly in love! Which led me to another thought… I could “horchata” any grain not just rice.

This was the winter that wasn’t which I suspect is going to be good and bad. Plants are going to get a head start and look awesome, but allergies are going to be monster, so I’ve been putting local honey in something for everyone in the house on almost a daily basis. Even though I’m excited for all the seasonal spring foods my usual winter craving of oatmeal has suffered. There is something about winter that makes me crave oatmeal, but I just can’t eat it when it’s warm outside. Maybe it’s a mental block, but I just can’t. I used to do a lot of baking so the oatmeal could go into oatmeal-raisin cookies during the summer. Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on how you spin the coin), The Kid doesn’t like sweets so I haven’t baked in what feels like forever.

 

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Then last night, I figured I’d try something out…. Cinnamon-Cherry Oatmeal Horchata…. sounds reasonable… I can make a cookie without making a cookie… So, I filled the blender with

1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups water
1 tablespoon local honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup tart dried cherries

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and let it sit overnight. Then this morning, I just pureed, poured over ice and ran out the house. I took a sip in the driveway just as I was about to hit reverse and… Hold the Phone! This is GOOD. I actually paused to take another sip. The plan was to drink it at my desk, but before I got to work it was all gone.  I blame the traffic lights. Alas, I will endeavor to try again tomorrow. Oh the possibilities… I think I’m adding about an ounce of raw cashews tomorrow.

I also grabbed a Ginger-Vanilla Yogurt with Apple Pie Spice on the way out too. I have developed a bit of a yogurt obsession and I think I’m going to have to make a page dedicated to my yogurt experiments. There was a Bananas-Foster Coconut Yogurt trial that was surprisingly good. So I know I’ll need to remember that one for the future. But back to the yogurt at hand. I have tons of preserves and jams that I picked up when I was making cookies, but have been

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sadly ignored lately. Now that I’m making yogurt, this seems like the best opportunity to use them all up and make more room in the pantry since I want to start trying to make my own preserves with whatever fruits look good this summer. When I saw the container of ginger preserves in the cupboard, I instantly thought of a Ginger-Apple Pie. So, I figured I’d run with it. I spooned 1 heaping tablespoon ginger preserves in each of the yogurt maker’s 7 glass containers, heated up 1 quart of whole milk to 180F, and left it to cool down on the stove until it was under 100F (okay, yes, I’ll admit that I forgot about it on the back of the stove for a bit), then I mixed in 1 packet of freeze dried yogurt starter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon apple pie spice. Then left it for 11 hours until the machine beeped. I added 1 tablespoon local honey to each of the yogurt maker’s 7 glass containers, sealed them all up and refrigerated until cold.

I’ve been eating this Ginger-Vanilla Yogurt with Apple Pie Spice for the past few days and it is phenomenal. Ok… I should start by saying that I love ginger. LOVE!! I have no idea where I got the ginger preserves that I used, but now I’m determined to figure out how to make ginger preserves. I must make this again!

 

Iced Coffee… The Next Level

I am a complete coffee addict.  I can function without coffee, but I shouldn’t.  I managed to avoid coffee at all costs when I was pregnant, but now I’m free to return to my glorious addiction.  This love does cause some problems in the summer though.  Hot brewed coffee is best when it’s hot, but during a heat wave it’s just not a good idea.  I heard about cold brewed iced coffee and read a comment from someone who asks places that sell Iced Coffee how they brew it before ordering it.  He said if it’s not cold brewed, he just has the hot coffee.  It seemed a bit ridiculous, but when there’s someone passionate about something, it’ s at least worth checking out.  I figured a Saturday would be the best time to try it out since if it wasn’t good, I’d still have time to make a cup of hot coffee or start over with hot coffee and then add ice.  These sort of tests are not appropriate for weekdays when I need to rush off to work.

I looked all over and found tons of iced coffee making systems.  They ranged in price, but in the end, I chose to do it without the added expense of a “system” and just went with a glass pitcher and some stretch-tite.  I don’t have a coffee maker for my hot coffee (I just use a simple manual drip funnel and a filter), so it seemed silly to buy a whole system for the iced coffee since I was just testing it out.  So, on a Thursday morning while I was setting up my hot coffee, I started the Iced Coffee Test Run:

 

Cold Brewed Coffee

1 Big Pitcher
3 mounding 1/4 cup scoops Coarse Ground coffee
1 generous quart water.

 

The general recommendation I found was to brew the coffee for 12-48 hours (depending on how strong you want it) and it was extremely important to get coarse ground coffee.  Most places that sell coffee beans have a grinder with a coarse setting so that was simple enough.  The other option was to take beans and grind them in a coffee grinder for a short period of time so it was ground, but the store machine was easier.  So, Friday morning, I made my hot coffee and went to sit in my air conditioned work building.

Then, it was Saturday morning (48 hours later)!  Time to test Cold Brewed Iced Coffee!!!…. I made some for the hubs too since I need an impartial (non-addict’s) opinion.  I strained the coffee with the same filter and manual drip funnel I use for my hot coffee.  Then filled up our cups with ice, poured iced coffee in, and added the half & half.  The hubs likes sugar in his coffee (I disagree completely but I try not to judge) so I added some agave syrup to his. …And we tried it.  It was magical!!!  There was all the coffee flavor, plus some other amazing layer of flavor that is usually covered up by the bitterness that I love in hot coffee.  It was so good, I haven’t been able to even consider going back to my usual coffee spot and getting their iced coffee because I know it won’t have all that extra flavor.

 

So now, I’m a well-rounded coffee addict (The Hubs says snob, but we’ll just ignore that).  Hot brewed for winter (or air conditioning) and cold brewed for summer.  Although since I’m a firm believer in hot coffee staying super hot, doing the cold brewed on a workday does save me a ton of time since I can just make it ahead of time and pour it straight out of the fridge.  And I save 30 seconds from heating up the cream in the microwave.  Cold cream is not meant for hot coffee.  It’s just not.  But it is fantastic in cold brewed iced coffee!!

Cereal Envy

I make steel cut oats cereal for myself pretty much every morning.  I was eating my cereal this morning and realized I need to draw a line in the sand on this one.  Every couple days, I make food for the kid and package it up in 4 ounce jelly jars.  Back Story: I searched high and low for food containers for the kid and the jelly jars were FAR less expensive than the other glass baby food containers I found on the market.   At any given time, I can have up to 20 containers on rotation with food since he goes through 4-5 containers a day and I couldn’t fathom paying $10 and up for one container so I ended up with the standard jelly jars with the plastic freezer covers and when he’s done with them, I can force myself to figure out how to make jelly.  Back to the cereal envy: I make cereal as one of the kid’s 4 meals a day.  Somehow, my cereal needs serious help with dried cranberries and honey and a pinch of salt and milk to make it taste palatable.  The kid’s cereal on the other hand has two basic ingredients and still tastes better than mine.  I think I’m going to have to start making his cereal for myself.

His cereal is just any grain I have in the cupboards (I’ve done: oats, millet, barley, buckwheat, quinoa flour, amaranth  & brown rice) ground fine in the blender (I’ll go into my VitaMix obsession another time) and any mix of fresh cookable fruit (apples, bananas, nectarines, peaches, pears, mango, etc.) or frozen blueberries.  I just put 1 cup of water and about 2 cups of chopped (skinless) fruit on the stove on medium to start boiling.  Then, when it is at a boil, I whisk the fruit and water in the pan while sprinkling in the cereal so there aren’t any clumps.  I cover it, turn off the burner underneath the pan and leave it to cook through.  I usually start doing other stuff and just get back to it when I remember it, so that probably takes about 10-15 minutes.  When it looks done, I get out the potato masher and mash all the fruit so the pieces are small enough for the kid and if I need to stretch it a little, I’ll add coconut milk.  If I add too much coconut milk, I just stir it until the liquid evaporates and the whole thing tightens up a bit.  I package them up into his little jars and toss them in the fridge.  His cereal tastes amazing, so I have been known to stand at the stove cleaning out any remainder from the pot.

Why have I been adding all the stuff to mine all this time?