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Ooey, Gooey, S’more Cookies: summertime in a bite

Summer is for nights around campfires making s’mores. But with the hot weather and crazy winds, fire bans have been in full force. Problem: want a s’more but can’t make a fire. Time to get creative. Solution: make a cookie. Bam.

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Plus the little bro had a birthday. Summer birthdays go hand-in-hand with s’mores. And by pure coincidence, it’s national s’mores day. A much easier way to partake in the celebration verses making a fire and roasting a marshmallow.

These guys aren’t as low in sugar as other recipes on here. The marshmallows add extra sweetness and aren’t made with the healthiest ingredients. But hey, the baby in the fam only has a birthday once a year. Solid reason for a cheat day. And you can always use vegan marshmallows, they are gelatin free and melt less. Double win.

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Tips:

  • Don’t add extra graham crackers. While it might seem tempting to add extra crunch, it actually makes the cookies dry and it is more difficult to wrap the dough around the marshmallows. Trust me, I learned from thinking I was clever.
  • CHILL THE DOUGH! The cooler the dough is, the easier it is to work with and the puffier the cookies will be.
  • You need more mini marshmallows than you think. Squeeze them together to make one big blob or use jumbo marshmallows and cut in half. I only had mini ones in the cupboards.
  • Make your own gluten-free graham crackers. It will be healthier than buying store-bought ones and it’s pretty easy. Confession time: these guys use store-bought graham crackers because I was pressed for time.

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What you need:

2½ cups all-purpose gluten-free flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup soy-free earth balance butter, softened
½ cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons honey
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup dairy free chocolate chips
¾ cup hand-crushed gluten-free graham crackers, NOT fine crumbs
Lots of mini marshmallows, 5-8 per cookie. Learn from my mistake.

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What to do:

In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt, soda, and baking powder. Set aside.

Cream the butter for a minute or two, then pour in the sugar and mix until light and fluffy. Mix in the honey, and then beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix in vanilla.

Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Fold in the chocolate chips, and then gently fold in the graham cracker pieces.

Refrigerate the dough for AT LEAST an hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Scoop 1/2 tablespoon of dough, roll into a ball, flatten, and set down on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Set the marshmallows right in the middle. Top with another 1/2 tablespoon of flattened dough and press together. Repeat with remaining dough.

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Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the sides are golden. Let sit on the cookie sheet for a couple of minutes, and then transfer to a cooling rack.

Best eaten while warm but delicious whenever.

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Spicy Asian Pork Lettuce Wraps: when creativity isn’t flowing

Whenever I don’t know what to make for dinner, this is my go-to. It’s super simple and quick. Plus I usually already have all of the ingredients in my house minus the ground pork. Start to finish we are looking at about 30 minutes, you’re welcome.

Packed with flavor, it has just the right amount of spice, zing, and punch. Huge crowd pleaser. If lettuce wraps don’t seem quite filling enough for dinner, make some rice and put the pork mixture over it. A more substantial option.

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Let’s get after it.

What you need:

1 1/2 pound ground pork
2 red bell pepper, finely diced 20170805_113733-e1501955688252.jpg

3 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons minced peeled ginger
2 tablespoons Thai sweet chili sauce, this guy is gluten-free
1 teaspoon sriracha sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (make sure it’s GLUTEN-FREE)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon salt, or more, to taste
4 scallions, thinly sliced
24 Boston lettuce leaves

Add-ins: One 8-ounce can whole water chestnuts, drained and diced, 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro. Add with scallions.

What to do:

In a medium bowl, combine the ground pork with the bell pepper, garlic, ginger, chili sauce, sriracha, fish sauce and sesame oil. Side note: the longer you marinate it, the more flavor the pork holds. Somedays I wait a few hours, others none.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the pork mixture and stir-fry, breaking it up, until it is cooked through and starting to brown, about 8 minutes.

Stir in scallions and remove from the heat. Spoon mixture into lettuce cups. Enjoy!

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Veggie Green Thai Curry: when your brother decides to stop eating meat (gluten, dairy, nut, soy, meat free).

I LOVE curry! All kinds. I usually opt for a combination of dry spices like ginger, turmeric, and chili peppers because it’s what I have in the cupboards. More of an Indian style curry. But it wasn’t satisfying my craving, so I decided to buy curry paste. More of a Thai style curry. Spoiler alert: definitely worth it. What’s the differences between curries you’re wondering, check this out.

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There are a ton of curry paste options out there. Depending on where you live, you may have 10 to choose from or 2 like me. But guess what? You can always make your own. Mind blown. One day I’ll get there, but for now Thai Kitchen works for me.

Alright, time for a quick lesson. While I was living in Colombia, my roommates and I would switch out making dinner for each other, less cooking and family meals. Win-win. For one of my turns, I decided to make curry and trying to respect the fact that one of my roommates hated spicy food I chose the least spicy paste, green. Or so I thought. Turns out green curry is the spiciest…oops. Backwards right? One very unhappy roommate later, now we know. Spice level increase: yellow, red, green.

Good news, for this recipe you can choose whichever one you want to use. All will work! I love spice, so I chose green, but pick your poison. And if you’re a real spice lover like me, the green paste is not even that spicy, so add some serrano or jalapeño peppers to your mix to spice it up.

You can pretty much choose what ever veggies, meat, and starches you want: why I love curry. The options are endless. Of course, certain choices are more traditional than others, but who’s to tell you no? Not me. Have at it.

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This recipe is easy to make up at home and healthier than takeout. It is also vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free for everyone to enjoy.

What you need:

1 cup jasmine rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium white or yellow onion, chopped
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger (about a 1-inch nub of ginger)
4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
3-4 slices serrano pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, cubed
1 yellow, orange or green bell pepper, cubed
15 baby carrots, cut lengthwise x2
1 poblano peppers, cubed
1 small yellow squash, cut into rounds and then quartered
1 small zucchini, cut into rounds and then quartered
1 small head broccoli, chopped
10 mushrooms, largely chopped
1 4oz jar Thai green curry paste
1 can (14 ounces) regular coconut milk*
3 medium potatoes, cubed and boiled**

Garnishes/sides: handful of chopped fresh basil or cilantro, optional red pepper flakes, optional sriracha or chili garlic sauce

*Use FULL FAT, otherwise it’ll be watery and gross
**Switch out for your choice of meat. Cook it prior to adding.

What to do:

To cook the rice, read the instructions, come on y’all. But for you lazy peeps: 1 to 1.5 rice to water ratio. Place in a pan, throw in some salt if you so please, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes (alright here is where you should really look at the bag, no actually, different rices cook for different times). Remove from heat, let the rice rest for 5 minutes or longer, until you’re ready to serve. Just before serving, season the rice to taste with salt and fluff it with a fork.

To make the curry, warm a large pan with deep sides over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add the oil. Add the onion and a sprinkle of salt and cook, stirring often, until the onion has softened and is turning translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, and serranos and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds, while stirring continuously.

Add the all veggies except mushrooms. Cook until the bell peppers are fork-tender, 3 to 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add the curry paste and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes.

Add mushrooms and stir. Then add the coconut milk and stir to combine. Mix in potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the veggies have softened to your liking, about 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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Remove the pan from the heat . Add salt to taste. If the curry needs a little more punch, add ½ teaspoon more tamari. For more acidity, add ½ teaspoon more rice vinegar.

Pour curry over rice and enjoy! If you’d so please, garnish with chopped cilantro and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. For more spice, add sriracha or chili garlic sauce.

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Almond Thumbprint Cookies with Raspberry Jam: sometimes you have to go paleo (no grains, no dairy, no refined sugar)

So it looks like I’m having a bit of nostalgia for winter. Whipped up these guys and then realized they are typically a holiday treat too. Ooops. But come on, I mean how can you shut down an almond and raspberry combo? And putting them on an apple plate makes them more summery, yeah?

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Plus I was bringing them to a yoga teaching session and you can’t just bring any old dessert to these kinds of meetings. Yogis are all healthy and stuff, right? So these guys are PALEO (i.e. no grains, no refined sugar, no dairy). But do you worry your lil ol’ mind, they are still delicious. Don’t believe me, give them a shot.

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They are soft and chewy and pretty darn healthy. What are you waiting for, get baking.

What you need:

2 cups blanched almond flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly*
1 large egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons almond extract
1/3 cup raspberry jam or jam of choice

*Unrefined coconut oil gives these guys a coconut taste. If that is not your cup of tea, you can use refined coconut oil or soy-free Earth Balance butter (1 to 1 ratio), but then they are not really Paleo anymore, read here and here.

What to do:

In a bowl, stir together the almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder and salt.

In another bowl, stir together the coconut oil, egg, maple syrup, and almond extract.

Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and stir just until combined. The dough will feel quite wet. Let sit for 10 minutes so that the coconut flour can absorb the liquid.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 °F and line a cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper.

Roll the dough into 1″ balls and place 2″ apart on the prepared cookie sheet.

Using your thumb or the back of a 1/2 teaspoon (works like a gem) to make an indentation about 3/4 of the way down into each cookie. You may want to re-form the edges a little to make them prettier.

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Fill each indentation with 1/2 teaspoon of jam. Be sure not to overfill them.

Bake for 8 minutes or until the cookies have barely started browning on the bottom.

Let the cookies, which will be very soft, cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Eat up. Or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

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Gluten-free chewy ginger molasses cookies: sometimes weather trumps seasons

Alright I know I have the wrong time of the year. Molasses cookies are for the holidays, winter time, snowy, cold weather. WELP, it’s the end of July, rainy, grey, and freezing, so pretty much the same but worse. It’s eerie, damp, and depressing out, a slight reminder of the east-coast (sorry I’m not sorry). As always, gross weather calls for baking but with the feel of today, a lil ol’ comfort is needed too.

Confession time: I love ginger cookies. What is there not to love? I typically start making them mid-October and stop mid-April. Gotta extend that holiday season as much as possible, right? So might as well include the end of July into the mix.

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Let’s talk molasses. Molasses has an acidic sweetness that plays oh-so-nicely with “winter” spices like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Oh, and ginger too. Molasses is typically made from sugar cane or sugar beet juice that is boiled down to a syrup. SO it’s pretty much sugar with an awesome flavor, meaning you don’t have to add much more granulated sugar to the recipe.

Usulphured vs. Sulphured Molasses? Sulphured molasses has been treated with sulphur dioxide as a preservative, which normally gives it a strong pronounced chemical flavor (yuck!) and is less sweet, so most commercial molasses is unsulphured.

Dark vs. light? Light molasses is the sweetest and mildest in flavor and is the one most used in baking, with exceptions like this guy. Dark molasses is thicker, less sweet, darker, and stronger in flavor. AND it gives gingerbread cookies their distinct color and flavor.

For this recipe, use unsulphured, dark molasses: my go-to.

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The cold weather can put a damper on softening the butter. Cold outside. Cold inside. Lose, lose. But don’t worry there’s a trick, isn’t there always? If you have an extra warm spot in your house, put the butter there. Otherwise, turn your oven to warm and throw it in there for a few minutes. Watch it like a HAWK! We want softened butter, not melted. Plus, if it melts everywhere, you’ll end up cleaning your oven instead of baking these soft, chewy, delicious cookies and no one wants that.

Why softened the butter? If it is too hard, or too melty, the creaming process doesn’t work its magic and you end up with a flatter cookies. Still tasty, but flatter. Hence, for the butter to cream well with the sugar, it truly needs to be softened to room temperature.

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Last tidbit, for me, there is a difference between gingersnaps and chewy ginger molasses cookies. I’m sure there are people out there who will say you can make a chewy gingersnap, but come on, “snap” is in the name. If your gingersnaps don’t snap, you’ve done something wrong. So if you’re looking for a hard, crunchy ginger cookie, you are in the wrong spot. But now that you’ve read so far you might as well continue and give these guys a shot.

P.S. you have to let the dough chill for AT LEAST 30 minutes, if not more. But really, what else are you gonna do on a rainy, cold day? If the dough is not completely chilled will be soft and difficult to form into balls AND the cookies will flatten out significantly while baking. Patience my friend,  so worth it.

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 What you need:

1 ½ cups earth balance butter, softened to room temperature (I use soy-free, from a box*)
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup molasses
2 eggs
4 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour (my go-to)
4 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt

*Box earth balance butter, or spread as they call it, softens quicker! You can use the sticks if you prefer, you’ll just be waiting longer.

What to do:

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, beat together butter and sugar on medium speed for 2 minutes until light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl if need be. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, and then molasses. Beat on medium-low speed until each is combined. Gradually add in the dry ingredient mixture and beat until combined.

Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on top of the dough to completely cover it: we want to prevent air from getting in. Refrigerate dough for 30-60 minutes, until it is completely chilled. Read why in my P.S. above if you skipped over it.

Pre-heat oven to 375°F.

Roll the dough into small balls, about 1-inch in diameter. Fill a small bowl with sugar, and roll each ball in the sugar until it is completely coated. Place on cookie sheet at least 1 inch apart, then bake for about 8-10 minutes, until the cookies begin to slightly crack on top.

Remove from the oven and let cool for a minute or two. They will probably crack more while cooling. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely or eat warm.

Eat right away, duh, or store in a sealed container for up to 1 week.

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Chinese Fried Rice: cheaper and healthier than take-out and probably just as fast.

We all know you love fried rice, who doesn’t? I could eat it all day. When I visited my roommate in Hong Kong we had it at least twice a day, can you blame me? But, who eats it besides when you’re out? Not me. And I’ve always struggled to recreate a delicious recipe at home, until this guy.

Disclaimer: there are steps to making this fried rice. It’s not as simple as tossing everything into a pan, but so worth it. Oh and you need already cooked rice that is COOLED! Plus pre-cooked meat. Hint: leftovers work great.

I love this recipe because it doesn’t have a ton of butter, has no added sugar, and is not drenched in soy sauce. Plus you don’t even need a wok. If you have one, go ahead and use it, but it’s not necessary. As always add any extra veggies you’d like or combine meats. Mix it up, get creative. Can’t really go wrong.

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What you need:

1 cup finely chopped onion
2 eggs, lightly beaten (or more if you like)
3 drops gluten-free soy sauce*screenshot_20170726-122305.png
3 drops sesame oil
3/4 lbs cooked pork or chicken, chopped
1⁄2 cup finely chopped carrot
1⁄2 cup frozen peas, thawed
4 cups cold cooked rice
4 green onions, chopped
2 cups bean sprouts
3 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce (add more if you like)

*Want soy free?! Use coconut aminos!! Plus some salt. Add a little, taste, repeat til you get the right combo. Coconut aminos do not have as much sodium as soy sauce so you gotta add some more.

What to do:

Heat 1 tbsp oil in large pan**. Add chopped onions and stir-fry until onions turn a nice brown color about 8-10 minutes.

While the onions are cooking, mix eggs with 3 drops of soy and 3 drops of sesame oil. Set aside.

Remove onions and allow the pan to cool slightly.

Add 1/2 tablespoon oil to pan, swirling to coat surfaces. Add egg mixture; working quickly, swirl egg until egg sets against the pan. When the egg puffs, flip it over and cook other side briefly. Remove from the pan and chop into small pieces.

Heat 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil in the pan and add selected meat with carrots, peas, and cooked onion. Stir-fry for 2 minutes.

Add rice, green onions, and bean sprouts, tossing to mix well. Stir-fry for 3 minutes.

Add 3 tablespoons of gluten-free soy sauce and chopped egg to rice mixture and fold in; stir-fry for 1 minute more. Eat it up.

Add additional soy sauce, if desired.

**If you have a wok, please lend it to me so that I can “forget” to return it 🙂 But really, feel free to use it instead!

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Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread: every veggie deserves a fair chance

When I first heard of zucchini bread, there was nothing I could think of that sounded worse. A vegetable in a quick bread? No thank you, I’ll take a pass. It wasn’t until a few years down the road that I was tricked into trying it. Alright, fine, I probably wasn’t tricked into it, but I tried it. Turns out, it’s DELICIOUS! Why had I not tried it earlier? Good ol’ stubbornness, I guess. So let’s be open-minded.

Plus the zucchini helps make the bread extra moist and it melts right into thebread so it doesn’t even taste like a mushy vegetable!

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Tips:

  • Don’t peel the zucchini – I know, it’s tempting to remove the skin, but don’t.
  • Grate the zucchini – it’s still there but not visible, how we all want it.
  • Don’t use gigantic zucchini – the wicked big ones tend to be drier: i.e. they won’t produce the moist, tender loaf you want
  • Don’t over mix the ingredients – since it is a quick bread, it doesn’t need time to rise. There is no yeast.
  • Makes ONE loaf.

And then you realize you can add chocolate, yes please. Sign me up. If you’re just arriving to the game, I’m addicted to chocolate and coffee. So this guys has coffee grounds, coffee, and chocolate chips. Come on, who doesn’t want a valid excuse to eat chocolate for breakfast.

What you need:

1/3 dark chocolate chips, dairy-free
1 1/2 cups all purpose gluten free flour
1/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups grated fresh zucchini
2 eggs
6 tablespoons canola oil (vegetable oil works too)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup  cool coffee (dairy-free milk works too, but make it as chocolatey)
1/2 cup plain coconut yogurt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, dairy-free, of course

What to do:

Preheat your oven to 325°F. Grease and line a standard 9-inch x 5-inch loaf pan and set it aside.

Melt the dark chocolate in a small microwave-safe bowl, in 30-second bursts at 60% power, stirring in between, until smooth. Set the chocolate aside to cool briefly.

In a large bowl, place flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and granulated sugar, and whisk to combine. Add 1 1/2 cups of the grated zucchini to the dry ingredients and mix to combine, breaking up any clumps of grated zucchini.

In a blender or food processor, place the remaining 1/2 cup grated zucchini, eggs, oil and vanilla, and blend or process until smooth. Add the melted chocolate, and blend once more to combine.

Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl and mix to combine. Add the coffee and yogurt, mix. The batter will be thick.

Add the chocolate chips and stir until they are evenly distributed throughout. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top with a wet spatula. Sprinkle a few, or a lot of, extra chocolate chips on top and press down gently to help them stick.

 

Place the pan in the center of the oven, and bake, rotating once, for about 55-60 minutes. It’s done when a toothpick comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes in the pan before transferring a wire rack to cool completely.

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Almond Lemon Vanilla Cupcakes: cuz who doesn’t want to eat dessert on the go

A day late, but not a dollar short. Jumping on the good ol’ fourth of July bandwagon. This would have been helpful before the 4th, I know, but hey, better late than never right? Plus now you have an excuse to keep eating sweets.

Given that most people in my extended family are not huge dessert fans, this year’s game plan was to make something plain yet flavorsome, light yet decadent, pretty yet not pure sugar.

And since it’s the 4th, you gotta use lemon and berries to get red, white, and blue (kinda). Plus berries are easy decorations with no extra effort, winning. I’ve been loving the lemon, almond combo lately so here it is again. And there are TWO frosting options–I know frosting, yuck, but it’s not overly sweet and it’s pretty. Give it a shot.

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Tips:
  • Remember that ice cream scoop–fills the cupcakes to a perfect height.
  • Makes 24 cupcakes, if you only want 12, cut the recipe in half. No crazy numbers, you’re welcome.
  • Make the raspberry and/or blueberry puree while the cupcakes are cooking-they need to cool COMPLETELY! * (note below, check it out)
  • Put a paper towel under the cupcakes before decorating.

What you need:

3 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup earth balance soy-free butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 teaspoons almond extract
1 cup unsweetened almond-coconut milk blend
1 cup plain coconut yogurt
zest of 3 medium lemons (p.s. you’ll use the juice for the frosting!)

What to do:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.

In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a stand-alone mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add lemon zest and mix.

Add eggs one at a time, mix until combined after each addition. Add the almond and vanilla extract and mix until smooth.

Add one-third of the flour mixture and mix on medium-low speed until just combined then add the milk and mix until combined. Scrap off the paddle attachment: the lemon zest likes to cling to it. Mix it in. Add another third of the flour mixture and mix until combined then add the yogurt and mix until combined. Add the last of the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Do not over-mix!

Ice cream scoop batter into cupcake liners. Bake for 18 – 20 minutes.

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Check for doneness: press down gently on top of a cupcake, if it pops back up, they’re done!

Pull them out, let them cool for just a minute and then remove from the pan to fully cool on baking rack or counter.

Frosting time!

Totally optional: make one, or both, or none. If you’re trying to choose which one, make the raspberry one. Both are good, but it’s just that much better.

Raspberry version:

What you need:

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1 1/4 cups frozen raspberries (I think fresh would also work just fine)
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/2 cup earth balance soy-free butter, VERY soft
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups confectioners sugar (more if needed)
1/4 cup fresh raspberries, for decorating (optional)

What to do:

Combine the raspberries and lemon juice in a small saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium heat. Once simmering, stir the mixture occasionally, breaking up the berries with a wooden spoon, until the raspberries have become soft enough to mash effortlessly. It will look like raspberry jam. Once the mixture can coat a spoon remove from heat. Allow mixture to cool completely before using.*

In a stand alone mixer, beat butter on medium-high until completely smooth; about 2 minutes. Add in half to two-thirds of the raspberry puree and beat until completely combined; about 1 minute. Mixture will probably look weird at this point, that’s okay. Add in the confectioners sugar, half a cup at a time, on low-speed. Once all of the sugar has been added, add the salt, then beat on high-speed for a full 2 minutes. Put in the fridge for at least 5-10 minutes to harden.

Blueberry version:

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What you need:

Same ingredients, except: 1 and 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, if using frozen don’t thaw.

What to do:

Same instructions, except: stir constantly and gently smashing the blueberries smooth, until thickened into a deep, dark blueberry reduction, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Place a fine-mesh strainer over a small bowl and push the puree though, leaving any skin/large chunks behind. Allow mixture to cool completely before using.*

*Make sure your puree is completely cool before adding it to the butter. If it is even a little warm it will throw off the consistency of the frosting, leaving you with a gloppy, grainy mess. No thank you. Hint: cool it in the fridge OR make it ahead of time and stored, covered, in the fridge.

Frost cupcakes as desired! Drizzle the extra puree on top, yum! Add berries, done deal.

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Naked Chocolate Fudge Cake: sometimes you gotta give in

I was never a fan of cake, even in elementary school. It might be that I don’t like frosting (I know, it’s the best part). But the texture and sweetness are not my cup of tea. For me, birthday parties consisted of watching everyone else indulge in cake and get covered head-to-toe in bright, dyed frosting. At least my parents had less laundry to do.

But as I got older, and wiser, I was introduced to rich, bold, fudgey, chocolate cake. And I learned that you don’t have to frost a cake. Say hello to the naked cake! Because cakes are perfect the way they are and shouldn’t feel the pressure to cover themselves up with frosting.

For anyone that knows me, they know I have a few additions: coffee, chocolate, red wine. And guess what? This guy has the first two and is delicious when accompanied by the third. Triple win.

PLUS, it only uses one bowl. Less dishes for you!

Decadence, fudge, goo, and chocolate. My stomach is grumbling. So here we go.

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What you need:

1 cup sugar
1¾ cups gluten-free flour blend (if you don’t use this one, make sure it’s a light blend) *
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (check out food for thought)
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 eggs
1 cup almond, coconut blend milk (or dairy-free milk substitute of your choice)
½ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup hot coffee (YESSS! Intensifies the chocolate flavor 🙂 )
1 cup chocolate chips (never optional, let’s be honest)

*1 teaspoon xanthan gum (if your blend does NOT have it)

What to do:

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease two 8-inch cake pans with earth balance butter and dust with GF flour. Set aside. No really, do this first! It’ll be a pain later if you don’t. Trust me. Been there.

Combine the sugar, flour, xanthan (if using), cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk to combine. Add the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat until smooth.

Carefully whisk in the hot coffee. The batter will be runny at first, keep mixing, and then it’ll become thick and scrumptious looking, kinda like mousse. Let it cool for about a minute, then mix in the chocolate chips. Add them too soon and they will melt from the hot coffee: common sense people, come on.

Evenly distribute the cake batter between the two prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes. Trick time: press down on the cake, if it bounces back up it’s done! *please don’t burn yourself, k thanks*

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Let it cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to finish cooling completely.

AND for you frosting lovers:

Here you go. You’re welcome.

What you need:

½ cup earth balance soy-free butter, melted and cooled slightly
⅔ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
⅓ cup almond, coconut blend milk (or dairy-free milk substitute of your choice)
1 teaspoon gluten-free pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt

What to do:

Whisk the melted butter into the cocoa powder until thoroughly combined. Alternate adding the sugar with the milk while beating until the frosting is smooth and glossy and a spreadable consistency. If the frosting seems too thick, add a splash of additional milk. If it seems too thin, add additional powdered sugar. Beat in the vanilla extract and salt.

Frost the cooled cakes as desired. OR NOT AT ALL!

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Brookie: one is better than none, but both is better than one

Cookies AND Brownies…Yes PLEASE!

Why decide when you can have both?

So much of life is choosing between A and B: East coast or West coast, Mexico or Costa Rica, Broccoli or Cauliflower, you get my point. But why choose between brownies and cookies?

Last summer, my sister and I lived together. One night we were in an “argument” about whether to make brownies or cookies, really rough problems I tell you #firstworldproblems. It wasn’t until about 30 minutes into our arguing that she said, let’s make both. BOTH?! What an absurd idea….or was it.

So we get the chocolate chip cookie brownie, or the brownie cookie, or the brookie, or the cooknie. Or whatever other way you can think of combining the two. Regardless of the name, it’s delicious. Instead of making both separately as originally anticipated, the two came together.

What you need:

Your favorite cookie recipe or this guy:

Don’t worry I saved you the trouble and halved the best chocolate chip cookie recipe for you:

1/2 cup earth balance butter, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup gluten-free flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Find directions here.

Tips:

  • Keep the cookie dough in the fridge while you work on the brownies.
  • Who said it had to be chocolate chip cookies….choose your favorite kind. Switch it up.
Your favorite brownie recipe or this guy:

Brownies:
1⁄2 cup earth balance butter, melted
1⁄2 cup unsweetened cocoa
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup gluten-free flour
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1 cup of chocolate chips

Find directions here.

What to do:

Make the cookie dough, put it in the fridge. Make the brownie mixture.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8×8 square pan. Pour brownie batter into a 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish (I prefer 8×8: thicker=gooier=yummier). Scatter the pieces of cookie dough randomly over the top of the brownie batter.

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Bake for 30-35 minutes (35-40 minutes for glass dish). Remove from oven and cool for at least 10 minutes.

Food for thought: Natural vs. dutch-processed cocoa. Check it out. No, seriously.