Acorn Squash with Sweet Sage “Butter”

Posted by on October 24, 2009 | 19 Comments

I have been so impressed with how well our herb plant not only survived the move, but also how much it is thriving, even in this cooler climate. Must be all of the great sun it is getting in our very bright new (to us) kitchen.

Alisa's herb garden

I have found good use for the basil and parsley with some regularity, but until yesterday, I hadn’t found a good recipe for the sage. My husband is okay with sage in light moderation, but I have to use caution, lest he be overwhelmed (I am an herb- and spice-aholic). So it took me some time to be inspired by a sage-including recipe that we would both enjoy.

Acorn Squash with a Sweet Sage Butter

This one definitely fit the bill, and it also gave me another opportunity to test out the new Earth Balance soy-free margarine (all natural – none of those nasty trans fats!). If dairy works in your household, butter can of course be utilized, but all of you dairy-freers and vegans out there will be happy to know that the Earth Balance was excellent as a “browned butter.”

Though I typically roast squash for that caramelization effect, I must admit that this cooking method worked fabulously. It was almost like a steaming technique that locked in the natural flavor. Try it!

Acorn Squash with Sweet Sage “Butter”

Recipe adapted from Recipezaar. This recipe is Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, Refined Sugar-Free, and optionally Vegan.

  • 1 Acorn Squash (medium-sized), cut in half lenthwise and seeded
  • 2 Tablespoons Dairy-Free Margarine (I used Earth Balance soy-free, but you could also sub in coconut oil and a pinch of salt)
  • 1 Tablespoon Honey (agave nectar, brown sugar, or maple syrup should also go nicely)
  • 1 to 1-1/2 Teaspoons Fresh Sage, minced

Preheat your oven to350°F.

Place the prepared squash cut side down on a baking sheet or in a bakng dish. Bake for 45 minutes, or until tender. Keep in mind, if you leave it cut side down after removing it from the oven, it will continue to soften and cook a bit.

While the squash is baking, place the margarine in a small saucepan over medium-low to medium heat. Stir (not constantly, but with regularity) and cook until it just begins to brown, but do not let it burn (took about 10 minutes for me – You can also see these more detailed instructions for browning butter)

Remove the margarine from the heat and stir in the honey (or other sweetener) and sage. Allow the flavors to sit and meld while your squash cools for a few.

Cut each squash half into quarters (this is how I like to serve it), and evenly spoon the sweet sage butter into the squash sections and serve.

Note: I like to make cuts in the middle of each squash section, allowing the butter to seep in. You can also smash it in for some tasty mashed squash.

Another Note: I served this for lunch with simple baked chicken breasts. Slopping up any honey-sage-butter that had drizzled onto my plate with the chicken was really yummy too.

Yields 2 squashy servings

Acorn Squash with a Sweet Sage Butter

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Smoked Salmon Crustless Quiche, sort of

Posted by on September 27, 2009 | 19 Comments

Since my last Dutch Baby venture was such a dee-licious success, I set out to create a savory version the other day. But, I couldn’t stop with that one challenge alone. Oh no, silly me decided to go for the gusto and make it grain-free too! Luckily it worked out okay, but I used ground almonds, and was surprised at how bready the first trial turned out. It was good, but somehow the texture didn’t really go with the flavor. So in round two, I switched to cashews, using half the amount, and a star was born!

Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free Smoked Salmon Quiche

However, this new concoction wasn’t really a Dutch Baby anymore. Determined to find a name, I went online to read about the various types of egg dishes (yes, I do waste too much time on completely useless activities once in a while). The most comparable dish I could find was a quiche, but since this recipe contains no cheese, cream, or dairy of any kind, it seemed like a bit of a stretch. I mean, a healthy quiche?

I have never really had a quiche, so I turned to my husband for his taste-testing expertise. He said, “It’s kind of like a quiche, but different. It’s good though!” And thus, this name was born …

 

Smoked Salmon Crustless (Sort of) Quiche

This recipe is Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, and Soy-Free. I got a gread deal on wild smoked salmon ($1.50 for 4 ounces per package!), which is why I opted to use it in this dish. Feel free to use fresh salmon if you prefer.

  • 2 Ounces Cashews (can sub almonds)
  • 1 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk or Unsweetened Coconut Milk Beverage
  • 4 Medium Eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon Tahini
  • 4 Teaspoons Nutritional Yeast (optional)*
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Dried Dill or a scant Tablespoon Fresh Dill
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 4 Ounces Smoked Salmon, flaked or diced (depending on the type you use)
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Oil (your choice) or Dairy-Free Margarine

Preheat your oven to 425ºF

Grind the cashews in a spice grinder for about 30 seconds, or until they turn into a powder.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the cashews, milk alternative, eggs, tahini, nutritional yeast, dill, onion powder, and salt. Stir in the smoked salmon.

Place the oil or margarine in a 9″ pie plate, or divide it between four ramekins. Place the dish(es) in the oven to warm up for a few minutes. Remove and make sure the oil/margarine nicely coats the bottom of the dish.

Give the egg mixture another quick whisk, and pour it into your prepared dish(es). Bake for about 25 minutes, or untili the egg dish is nice and puffed, and just beginning to brown. It will deflate upon removal from the oven, so if you want a picture, be quick!

*You can use more or less nutritional yeast based on your tastes, or omit it altogether. I wasn’t really going for “cheesy” which is why I didn’t use a bunch, but rather a well-rounded and slightly bold/hearty flavor.

Yields 2 hearty servings or 4 servings with a big salad

Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free Smoked Salmon Quiche

Healthy Dutch Babies topped with a Chunky Blueberry-Maple Sauce

Posted by on September 2, 2009 | 28 Comments

Earlier this year, I discovered the Dutch Baby; a thick, eggy oven pancake that is sometimes referred to as a German pancake. Though it had been months and months since my first enjoyable and successful endeavor, I got a huge craving for these babies this morning!

Of course, I didn’t want to make the same recipe that I made the first time, so I did a little research and came up with a second variation that was, dare I say, positively delicious!

Most of the Dutch Baby recipes I spied were made with white sugar, white flour, and an unnecessary amount of butter. If I ate that way for breakfast, I would fall flat on my face by 9am. I reduced the butter significantly, and in fact changed it to coconut oil, I subbed the flour with rolled oats (ground in 30 seconds into a flour), and used maple syrup as my choice of sweetener in moderation. Trust me, there was no sacrafice. This is a wonderful brunch-worthy recipe that you can actually feel good about eating. Plus, with the changes, the recipe is dairy-free, soy-free, and wheat-free (optionally gluten-free)!

blueberrydutchbaby

Yesterday I promised something with blueberries … so I decided to pair our breakfast with a quick and chunky blueberry maple sauce. But these ultra-thick pancakes are very versatile. I have suggested a few different topping ideas in the recipe, but feel free to go crazy and experiment with your own pairings.

Oh, I have one last note, on the eggs. Until I discovered organic eggs, I literally (literally)  couldn’t stomach eggs. No idea why, but my husband even noticed the quality difference. I know what you are thinking, organic eggs, I thought you were frugal?! Take a look around for medium organic eggs. They are quite a bit cheaper than the large ones, and we still tend to use the same amount of eggs no matter what size I buy. Hence why this recipe uses medium eggs. You can sub 3 to 4 large eggs if you wish, depending on how eggy you want it.

I really want to make a savory and grain-free version of Dutch Babies, but the flavor ideas just aren’t coming to me as of yet. Most savory versions use cheese, but I know some fresh herbs and vegetables can stand alone, if only I can think of a good combination. I welcome suggestions! In the meantime, enjoy …

Healthy Wheat-Free / Dairy-Free Dutch Babies

This recipe is Vegetarian, Dairy-Free, Wheat-Free, Soy-Free, Nut-Free, Low Sugar, Relatively Low in Fat, and optionally Gluten-Free (seek out some of those certified gluten-free oats)

  • 1 Cup Rolled Oats (can sub 1 cup of your flour of choice)
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Salt 
  • 1 Cup Regular or Unsweetened Milk Alternative (I used unsweetened coconut milk beverage from Turtle Mountain – it was on sale! Rice, Almond, or Hemp Milk should also work well)
  • 1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup, Honey, or Agave Nectar (I used pure maple syrup)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 4 Medium Eggs, brought to room temperature if you have time
  • ½ Tablespoon Coconut Oil or Dairy-Free Margarine (I used coconut oil)

Preheat your oven to 425ºF

Place half of the oats in a spice / coffee grinder and whiz for about 30 seconds, or until the oats turn into a flour. Repeat with the remaining oats. I believe this can also be done in a food processor, but it is so quick, easy, and clean in a cheap little spice grinder ($15 at the grocery store!), why bother.

Sift the oat flour and salt into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Whisk in the milk alternative, sweetener, and vanilla, stirring until everything is well combined.

Whisk in the eggs one at a time until incorporated.

Put the coconut oil or margarine in a 9″ pie plate, cast iron pan, or similarly sized baking dish, and place it in the oven for a few minutes, or until the oil / margarine is melted and the pan is good and heated.

Removed the dish (with a pot holder!) and swirl the oil / margarine around a bit to coat. Pour in the egg batter, pop it in the oven, and leave it be for 25 minutes.

The batter will climb up, swelling a bit like a souffle (it is really fun to watch). When you take it out of the oven, it will deflate …

dutchbabyfresh

While this may seem less desirable than a puffy souffle, the crater actually makes for a wonderful bowl to hold delicious fillings or syrup! You can fill it with my Sinful Cinnamon Apple Saute; a bounty of seasonal, chopped fresh fruit and/or berries; a dusting of powdered sugar and served with pure maple syrup; your favorite jam; or try my Chunky Blueberry-Maple Sauce (recipe below) …

blueberry dutch baby filled

Since I feared we might eat the entire dish in one sitting, I only made 1/2 batch of the blueberry sauce. If you want to fill the crater, the full recipe should do it. But, it was a good thing I held off, because for my husband and I, this was just a 2 serving recipe …

The dutch baby is gone!

Yields 2 to 4 pancakey, eggilicious servings

Chunky Blueberry Maple Cinnamon Sauce

I find that the sweetness of this sauce does vary depending on how ripe your blueberries are. You may want to start with less maple syrup and sweeten to taste, and of course, you can always add more than 1/4 cup of maple syrup if it isn’t sweet enough for you too! Honey and agave are less expensive (and slightly sweeter) options that you can substitute if desired.

  • 2 Cups Fresh or Frozen (not thawed) Blueberries
  • 1/4 Cup Pure Maple Syrup, more or less as needed (can sub honey or agave nectar)
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract (optional)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon (I love cinnamon, I use 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 1 Teaspoon Cornstarch

Add the blueberries, maple, lemon juice, vanilla, and cinnamon to a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, and allow it to simmer for a few minutes. Sprinkle in the cornstarch, whisking to combine (I didn’t have any clumping problems with this method), and continue to simmer for a few minutes more to thicken.

Yields about 4 sweet and fruity servings

blueberrydutchbabysmaller

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I submitted this recipe to A Gluten Free Holiday: Breakfast & Brunch Recipes at Ginger Lemon Girl.

Sweet Freedom: Fluffy Fruited Whole-Grain Pancakes

Posted by on July 23, 2009 | 12 Comments

When I asked my husband how the pancakes were, he said “Great! Can’t you tell?” As he handed me an empty plate just 5 minutes after I handed him a full one.

Could he tell that they were made with whole spelt flour? Nope. Did he detect anything missing from the lack of refined sugars? Not a chance. Did he notice the added dose of protein? He’s a man, it was surely welcomed if anything. But the texture, surely it wasn’t quite right without eggs? Slightly different perhaps, but fluffy and uber cake-like … just the way he likes them.

sweetfeedomfluffyfruitedpancakes

The recipe I used is from Ricki Heller’s new cookbook, Sweet Freedom, and I cannot tell you how much I love her pancake recipes! They are actually made with whole spelt flour and use everyday pantry ingredients. In fact, all of the recipes in Sweet Freedom are wheat-free (many are also gluten-free), vegan (dairy-free and egg-free), and free from refined sugars.

Though I have enjoyed her Carob and Date Pancakes (they were the inspiration for the Pillowy Whole-Grain Pancakes in my book, Go Dairy Free!), these Fruited Pancakes were perfect for using seasonal summer produce. Okay, I lamed out and used diced bananas. What can I say, we were in a banana mood. But, you can use any fresh seasonal fruit you like. Blueberries, diced peaches, pitted cherries … just toss them in.

Yes, pancakes are no longer banished to the land of weekend indulgences. These babies are nutritious, and positively delicious …

Fluffy Fruited Spelt Pancakes

Adapted from Sweet Freedom, by Ricki Heller

Alisa’s Notes: These pancakes are very light in sweetness, perfect for dousing with maple syrup. You can increase the sweetness a bit by using a regular vanilla milk alternative if you desire. I went with an unsweetened one.

This recipe is Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Wheat-Free (but not Gluten-Free), Soy-Free, Nut-Free, Whole-Grain, and Free from Refined Sugars.

  • 1-3/4 to 2 Cups Plain or Vanilla Milk Alternative of Choice ( I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • 2 Tablespoons Ground Flaxseed
  • 2 Teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Grapeseed, Sunflower or Other Mild Tasting Oil (original recipe uses 3; your call, I was cutting the fat a bit, but more oil means more fluff!)
  • 1 Tablespoon Agave Nectar or Maple Syrup
  • 1-3/4 Cups Whole Spelt Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons Unflavored Protein Powder (rice or soy are ideal) or Soy Flour or Chickpea Flour, sifted
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg or 1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 Cup Berries or Chopped Fruit (I used banana)

Measure 1-3/4 cups of the milk alternative into a measuring cup and add the flaxseeds, vinegar, oil, and agave, stirring well. Set aside while measuring remaining ingredients, or for at least 2 minutes.

In a large bowl, sift the flour, protein powder, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, and spice (if using). Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and mix just to blend (there should still be a few lumps here and there).  If the batter is too thick, gently fold in another 1/4 cup of milk alternative (I needed too since I was only using 2 T of oil). Gently fold in the fruit.  

Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat (spray the pan with olive oil spray if desired). Using an ice-cream scoop or measuring cup, measure out about 3 to 4 tablespoons (or 1/4 cup) of batter for each pancake and spread slightly in the pan.  

Cook each pancake about 3-4 minutes per side, until golden brown and puffed up.  Serve immediately. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers for later use (may be defrosted in the toaster). 

Yields 15 to 20 pancakes (Ricki says 10 to 12, but I am not coordinated enough to make pancakes quite that big)

sweetfeedomfluffyfruitedpancakes2

Homemade Turkey Breakfast Sausage – Quick & Lean

Posted by on May 14, 2009 | 33 Comments

One of the biggest challenges with our new fitness regimen has been getting in enough lean protein. I think I mentioned before that it includes a diet plan which is very lean, and starts out low in carbs, higher in protein (gradually tapering off to a very sustainable and carb-rich diet for energy). Since we don’t consume dairy or soy, this means protein powders, eggs, fish, and meat.

I must confess, I am not a big egg fan, and I have never been a big meat consumer either … even dabbling in vegan cooking regularly. However, I have found some ways to sneak in some of that lean protein in an enjoyable way. One of them is breakfast sausage! Of course, pork would be a wee bit too fatty, so we opted for a nice, homemade turkey sausage. 

Extra-Lean Turkey Breakfast Sausage Patties

I went ultra-lean on this sausage, but for a juicier end product I have included recipes for “leaner” and “lean” turkey sausage. All are low-carb (obviously!) but lean will have the best texture while maintainig some virtue, and ultra-lean will suit super low-fat dieters.

Turkey Breakfast Sausage (Lean to Ultra-Lean)

Starting with the Spices … Combine all of the following spices, either leaving them whole, giving them a five or six pulses together in your spice grinder (my preferred method), or whizzing them to a powder in your spice grinder.

  • 1/2 to 3/4 Teaspoon Salt (I like 3/4 – but it will still be good with 1/2)
  • 1 Teaspoon Fennel Seed
  • 1 Teaspoon Sage
  • 1 Teaspoon Thyme
  • 1 Teaspoon Pepper, White and/or Black (I use a mix of white and black freshly ground peppercorns)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
  • Generous Pinch of Crushed Red Pepper

Choose your meat …mix your spices into 1 lb of Ground Turkey, choosing ONE of the folllowing …

  • Lean – Use 1 lb of 93% Fat-Free Ground Turkey (best for egg-free)
  • Leaner – Use 1 lb of 97% Fat-Free Ground Turkey
  • Ultra-Lean – Use 1 lb of 99% Fat-Free Ground White Turkey Meat

Let it Rest … If time permits, cover and chill for at least an hour (preferably overnight) to allow the flavors to meld. If you are in a hurry, skip this step and move ahead to the next one.

Add Some Moisture … Combine ONE of the following egg options into the meat to add a little moisture into that turkey meat …

  • Lean – Use 1 Large Egg (optional)
  • Leaner – Use 1 Large Egg or 1 to 2 Large Egg Whites
  • Ultra-Lean – Use 2 Large Egg Whites (about 6T pasteurized egg white)
  • Time to Cook … Spray a skillet with cooking spray (or use 1 teaspoon of oil) and heat it over medium heat. Scoop the ground turkey (it will be very moist if you added egg, I use an ice cream scoop) into your skillet and flatten it with the back of a spatula. Cover and allow the patties to cook for 3 minutes. Flip, cover again, and allow them to cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until the turkey is cooked through. Don’t cook them too long, as the meat will dry out, but make sure there is no pink left in the middle. And serve.

    Yields 4 servings (about 8 2-ounce patties)

    Ultra-Lean Turkey Breakfast Sausage Patties

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    The Guilt-Free Banana Bread Recipe You Have All Been Waiting For …

    Posted by on May 11, 2009 | 72 Comments

    Okay, maybe not ALL of  you, but ever since I posted about the Breakfast-Worthy Banana Bread from my book, Go Dairy Free, I have been flooded with requests for the recipe. It is in the book (along with tons of dairy-free living info and many other awesome recipes, if I do say so myself), which can be ordered on Amazon for an insanely good price … but enough with the sales pitches … I am more than happy to share that recipe with you here!

    But first, a little background on the recipe …

    An important part of going dairy-free for me was turning to home-baked bread. At the time, every last loaf at my local grocer contained milk in some form (milk powder, cheese, whey, caseinate, etc.). Even when a couple specialty vegan/dairy-free brands appeared, they were way too costly to warrant regular purchase.

    While I learned to enjoy pounding on dough for a good homemade yeast bread once in a while (excellent stress reliever), I don’t always have time or the patience for the process. So I set out to create a quick bread that was nutritious enough to use for my morning toast. With that in mind, this bread is completely sugar-free, using just the bananas for a hint of sweetness. I find it perfect as a base for nut butter, jam, or honey, each of which adds their own dose of flavor, wouldn’t you agree Ricki? [Ricki has a new cookbook out called Sweet Freedom – desserts without wheat, dairy, eggs, and refined sugar – so I consider her the ultimate expert on sugar-free baked goodies]

    If you want a little of the sweet stuff, feel free to add around 1/4 cup of your favorite sugar (honey, brown sugar, maple syrup, evaporated cane juice, sugar straight up, etc.) to the recipe. But, if you want a loaf of sugar-loaded, dessert banana bread, I suggest you look elsewhere.

    Healthy foodies who know how to savor the flavor … read on, and fire up that oven!

    Mini Sugar-Free, Spelt Banana Bread Loaf

    Unsweetened Breakfast-Worthy Banana Bread
    Recipe from “Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living” by Alisa Fleming (yours truly!)

    This Recipe is Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Soy-Free, Sugar-Free and Optional Nut-Free

    “Going out on a limb, I created a banana bread recipe that is completely void of added sugar of any kind, relying solely on the extra-ripe bananas for their natural sweetness. What resulted was a mildly sweet loaf of bread that my entire family adores. It is perfect for breakfast, and won’t leave you face down on your keyboard by 10am. Feel free to make this bread the night before, allowing the banana flavor to infuse and giving the bread time to take on some moisture. If you do prefer a bit of a sweeter loaf, add a bit of sweetener with the wet ingredients.” – [Yes, I just quoted myself]

    1/2 Cup Unsweetened Milk Alternative of Choice
    2 Tablespoons Ground Flaxseed
    2 Cups Whole Grain Spelt Flour or Whole Wheat Flour
    1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
    1/2 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
    1-1/2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
    1/4 Teaspoon Salt
    1/4 Cup Grapeseed or Coconut Oil
    1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
    3 to 4 Medium-Sized, Very (Very) Ripe Bananas, Mashed (about 1-1/2 to 2 cups mashed)*
    1/2 Cup Nuts, Dried Fruit, or Other Add-ins (optional)

    Preheat your oven to 350ºF (175ºC) and grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan. In a large mixing bowl combine the milk alternative and flaxseed and set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Returning to your mixing bowl, blend in the oil, vanilla, and bananas until well mixed. Stir in the dry ingredients by hand, being careful not to over-mix; a few lumps are okay. Gently fold in the nuts, fruit, or any other add-ins, if using. Spread the batter into your prepared loaf pan, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top is browned and resilient to the touch. Allow the bread to cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes before removing it to a wire rack to cool completely.

    Mini-Loaf Option: The loaf pictured above is actually a mini-loaf. This recipe will make four mini loaves, baked at 350º for about 22 to 25 minutes. I topped the loaves with some sliced almonds just before popping them in the oven and subbed the vanilla extract with 3/4 teaspoon almond extract for a slightly almond vibe.

    * I prefer to use a full 2 cups of banana for the deepest flavor and a very moist bread, but using 1/2 cup less will allow the bread to rise a bit more.

    Yields 10 to 12 servings

    Sinful Cinnamon-Apple Sauté (Breakfast or Dessert?)

    Posted by on April 22, 2009 | 25 Comments

    Actually, this little dish isn’t sinful at all, but that title just sounds so good doesn’t it? Well, this saute does produce tender, juicy apples with a wonderfully rich, sweet, and cinnamon-y syrup, rendering it indulgent enough for a healthy dessert.

    Cinnamon Apple Saute

    However, I had it for breakfast. I ate it on its own as a part of my multi-course Sunday grazing. But, this simple recipe (just 10 minutes!) is incredibly flexible when it comes to serving options. You can:

    • Serve the apples with your favorite yogurt (mine being this one), stirring a bit of the resultant cinnamon apple syrup into the yogurt if desired.
    • Top waffles with the apples and resultant cinnamon-apple syrup.
    • Spread nut butter on a bagel, toast, or rice cakes, and top with slices of cinnamon apples (one of my faves).
    • Serve over rice or other grain (I don’t know why I just thought of this one, but it really sounds good).
    • Sprinkle the apples with ground flaxseed or your favorite granola (homemade if you can!).
    • Top the apples with a scoop of ice cream (this one and this one being my picks), drizzling some of the resultant syrup over top of everything for a sundae flare. Oh what the heck, sprinkle on some granola too!
    • You say you’ve finished the apples, but have a little bit of leftover syrup? Use it to sweeten your favorite tea! Problem solved.

    Okay, now that you are brimming with ideas, lets get to the kitchen …

     

    Simply Scrumptious Cinnamon-Apple Sauté
    Recipe adapted from the October 2007 issue of Natural Health Magazine

    This recipe is Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, optionally Vegan, and optionally Soy-Free

    • 2 Medium Apples (around 3/4 to 1 lb), sliced 1/4-inch thick (no need to peel!)
    • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice (fresh squeezed if you have it)
    • 1-1/2 Teaspoons Oil or Margarine (I used coconut oil)
    • 1 Tablespoon Honey or Maple Syrup (I used honey, but I think maple syrup may be even better)
    • 1/4 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
    • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
    • 1/8 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
    • Generous Pinch of Salt (especially if using oil rather than margarine)

    In a medium sized bowl, toss the apple slices with the lemon juice and briefly set aside.

    In a large skillet, melt heat the oil or margarine over medium heat. Add the honey or maple syrup and the vanilla extract, giving everything a quick stir. Add the apples, and stir to coat them with the sweet sauce. Sprinkle on the cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and once again, stir to ensure the apples are evenly coated.

    Cover, and allow the apples to cook for 3 to 5 minutes (or until desired tenderness) checking in to stir once or twice.

    They are ready! Enjoy them as is, or see the beginning of this post for some serving options.

    Cinnamon Pears Option: Use 2 medium pears instead of the apples. Pears are generally softer than apples, so you will only need 2 to 3 minutes of cooking time once covered.

    Yields 2 Yummy Servings of Apples

    Cinnamon Apple Saute

     

    My Earth Day Note: One of my Earth Day resolutions is to try to eat more seasonally. While I was sure that apples were a fall fruit, it seems the crops are brimming right now. I purchase organic apples, since they are a top “pesticide crop.” An abundance of northwest apples (as local as it gets for this area) allowed me to purchase a bag of these beauties (Fuji I believe) for less than a dollar a pound.

    Overnight Double-the-Cinnamon Rolls

    Posted by on April 4, 2009 | 31 Comments

    Thank you all for your great simple food ideas! I have already started enjoying some. Feel free to add in your favorites if you haven’t already.

    So, last week my husband bought a small tray of cinnamon buns from the grocery store … that I couldn’t eat. No, he wasn’t being mean. In fact, since I was sick and I usually prepare him some breakfast in the morning (otherwise he will forget and get grumpy), he was being thoughtful (thoughtful I said, not healthy) by getting an easy  breakfast treat for himself. But darn it, those looked good. I wanted some … but they were riddled with dairy [if you are new, quick update: I was born with  a milk allergy that I did not outgrow, and thus live dairy-free – in fact, I wrote the book on it].

    Well, my cold finally showed signs of letting up yesterday. Though still a bit sniffly and with the occasional coughing fit, the spring in my step returned, the dizziness subsided, and my taste buds came roaring back … and they were still craving those darn cinnamon buns.

    So, what do you do on a Friday night? Well, I bake cinnamon buns … half way. You see, all of those recipes that require you to make cinnamon buns from scratch in the morning seem ridiculous. I am hungry in the morning! I don’t want to wait for dough prep and two whole rising times before I can sink my teeth into those babies. No, a little forethought is in order.

    Vegan Overnight Double-the-Cinnamon Buns

    As luck would have it, I was out of eggs. So these cinnamon rolls are vegan (dairy-free, egg-free), but don’t let that fool you, they are incredibly tender and delicious. You won’t know the difference between these and those fluffy store-bought cinnamon rolls. In fact, my husband swore that these were much better. As verified by the quantity he ate before I could even take a picture …

    Vegan Overnight Double-the-Cinnamon Buns

    Plus, I suppose these could even be called “pantry cinnamon rolls” for their use of basic everyday ingredients that require no refrigeration … how cool is that?! Did I mention I found another way to use up overripe bananas?

    Overnight Double-the-Cinnamon Rolls

    (Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free, can be Soy-Free) – Inspired by a recipe on Don’t Eat Off the Sidewalk

    Dough:

    • 1 Package Active Dry Yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoons)
    • 1/2 Cup Almond Milk (or other milk alternative), heated to lukewarm
    • 3 Cups Bread Flour or All-Purpose Flour, plus more as needed
    • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
    • 1 Teaspoon Salt
    • 3/4 Cup Mashed Ripe Banana*
    • 1/4 Cup Coconut Oil or Margarine, melted (I used coconut oil; can sub other oil if needed)
    • 1 Tablespoon White Sugar or Evaporated Cane Juice

    Filling:

    • 1/2 Cup Firmly Packed Brown Sugar
    • 2 Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
    • 3 Tablespoons Margarine or Coconut Oil (I used margarine)

    Glaze:

    • 3/4 Cup Sifted Powdered Sugar
    • 1/4 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
    • Water as needed (1 to 2 Tablespoons)
    • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Maple Syrup (optional)
    • Margarine or Coconut Oil (optional)

    In a large mixing bowl, combine the yeast and the warm milk alternative, and let it rest for 5 minutes. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, and salt, and set aside. Returning to the yeast, mix in the banana, melted oil or margarine (I used coconut oil), and sugar. Add half of the flour mixture to your mixing bowl and stir to combine. Slowly mix in the rest of the flour until a nice dough forms.

    Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead it for 10 minutes or so, adding more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed to keep it from sticking to your hands. You should end up with a fairly soft dough that is just slightly sticky. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover and allow it to rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes, or until it has doubled in size. Tip: I actually mix the dough by hand in a round pyrex baking dish with a glass lid. When done making the dough, the bowl is still lightly floured/greased (I cheat and even knead the dough in the bowl), and I just pop the lid on and set it aside to rise.

    Punch the dough down; cover and let rest for 5 minutes. While that is resting, combine the filling ingredients. If using chilled margarine, you should end up with coarse crumbles. If you are like me and use softened margarine, you will get big soft globs of sugar. Oil or shortening should work okay, but I do like margarine for the filling.

    Roll the dough into a 12 x 10-inch rectangle on a floured surface. Sprinkle with brown sugar mixture (it won’t fully cover, just evenly spread it out in small pieces as much as possible). Roll up the rectangle tightly, from the long side, pinch the seam to seal, dabbing it with a bit of water if needed. Cut the roll into 12 even slices. Place the slices in a greased 9-inch square or round baking pan**, cut sides down. Give them a little bit of space, as they will rise. Cover with plastic wrap, and pop them in the fridge to rise overnight.

    In the morning, pull the cinnamon rolls from the fridge and place them on top of the stove while you preheat the oven to 375ºF. Bake them for 20-25 minutes, or until they are a light golden brown (I like them on the less browned side).

    Let those piping hot cinnamon buns cool while you whisk together the glaze. Really all you need to do is whisk the powdered sugar with the vanilla extract and start with just a tablespoon of hot water, adding more only as needed. I also added some pure maple syrup, which I thought mellowed out the powdered sugar and added nice flavor, and I also added about a teaspoon or so of coconut oil to help round it out. Do what you like best, taste-testing as you go of course!

    Serve up the cinnamon buns and drizzle with as much glaze as you like, or for less of a sugar rush, enjoy them as is.

    Yields 12 cinnamony buns

    Notes / Options:

    * No Banana? – Like the recipe from Don’t Eat of the Sidewalk, you can use pumpkin puree or sweet potato puree in equal amounts to substitute for the banana. Heck, you may even be able to use applesauce … or some dairy-free yogurt!

    ** Pan Size – I actually didn’t have any 9 x 9 pans, so I used an 8-inch cake pan, fit nine cinnamon rolls in it (giving them each a wee bit of room to expand) and popped the other three, cut sides down in three muffin tins. The ones in the muffin tins cooked up just a few minutes faster. Feel free to wedge these babies into whatever size pans you have available. Give them just a bit of room, but not too much; you want them to rise, but also to be smooshed together once they rise and bake for that tender, pull-apart affect.

    Vegan Overnight Double-the Cinnamon Buns

    “Buttermilk” Banana Pancakes Made with Love

    Posted by on February 15, 2009 | 26 Comments

    Oddly enough, my husband and I had our very first date on Valentine’s Day.  I know, I know, not the best day for a first date, but it worked out well I would say. Yet, because we are frugal, we never go out on the actual day of to celebrate. There are no 2-for-1’s and you have to battle the crowds for reservations … simply not our style.

    My sweet husband had already given me a beautiful Valentine’s gift earlier in the week (he can never wait!), but I still wanted to make something nice for him on this special day … 

    Well, it was a nice attempt anyway. You see, while I can come up with ideas that work out well and customize recipes nicely, my execution is often very, very poor.  I am super-slow in the kitchen, and lack some of those basic skills … like the ability to flip pancakes.  Yep, they turn out like mutants.  Sure, they taste good, but pretty they are not.

    After attempting to make several “normal-sized” pancakes, I finally realized that dollar-sized were the only way to go for my bumbling spatula skills.  That is when my wonderful husband entered. I pointed at one, and said, “See, that one looks kind of like a heart!” He reciprocated, “An internal one maybe!” After we both had a good chuckle, he took the helm, and some nice little pancakes resulted …

    Wheaty Banana Buttermilk Pancakes

    That work he did as a teenage burger flipper definitely left him with some solid life skills. Though I must say, that every meal seems to turn out better when we make it together. We make a great team.

    So, with a belly full of these pancakes we headed out for a hike in the desert hills to enjoy the sunshine and the first day of our 14th year together.

    “Buttermilk” Banana Pancakes

    Vegetarian, Vegan / Egg-Free (optional), Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Peanut-Free, Tree Nut-Free

    This recipe was inspired by one that I saw on Recipezaar. While I love banana flavor, I am not big on pancakes with too much bananal; it is a textural thing.  So I just used 1 large banana, which equated to 1/2 cup of mashed banana.  Feel free to use more if you prefer, they should still turn out nicely.

    • 1 3/4 Cups Original or Unsweetened Milk Alternative (I used almond)
    • 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar or Lemon Juice
    • 2 Cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (can use all-purpose, a combo of all-purpose and regular wheat flour, or experiment with your flours of choice)
    • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
    • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
    • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
    • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
    • 1 Large or Jumbo Egg (see note below for egg-free)
    • 2 Tablespoons Oil (I used grapeseed)
    • 3-4 Tablespoons Honey or Agave Nectar
    • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
    • 1/2 to 1 Cup Mashed Ripe Banana (1 to 2 large)

    In a large bowl, combine the milk alternative and vinegar or lemon juice, and set it aside for just a minute.

    In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set that aside.

    Returning to the milk alternative, whisk in the egg, oil, honey or agave, vanilla, and banana. Add the dry ingredients and stir until just everything is combined, but do not overmix.  A few lumps are okay (especially since you are likely to have some banana lumps!).

    Heat a small amount of oil (maybe a teaspoon) in a large skillet over medium-low to medium heat (my stove can get a little too toasty on medium). Pour about 1/4 cup of batter (or 2 Tablespoons for those little dollars) onto the skillet for each pancake.

    Cook until the bubbles break on top of the pancakes (check to ensure they don’t brown too much though), flip, and cook for another minute or two, or until lightly browned on both sides. Serve with maple syrup, berries, nut butter, or other topping of choice. Since I was cooking, I completely filled up on munching them plain as I was going!

    Flash freeze any leftovers and toast them up for a quick pastry breakfast anyday!

    Vegan / Egg-Free Option: Warning, I have not tried this, but am fairly confident it will work.  If you want to omit the egg, either use more banana (aka the whole cup) or up the milk alternative to 2 cups, and add a wee bit more baking powder (perhaps round it out to a full 2 teaspoons).

    Yields about 2.5 to 3 dozen dollar pancakes

     

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