Tag Archives: dessert

Fresh strawberry muffins. (And how I keep my strawberries fresher longer.)

Dairy-free | Soy-free | Nut-free

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It’s strawberry season again! At least in Florida. Right here in our own county we have some of the nation’s biggest and best strawberries–the epitome of delicious local produce. So last year we started a family tradition of going strawberry picking at one of the many u-pick farms nearby. Last year we thought we did pretty well with 11 quarts; this year, after only an hour and a half, we ended up with 25 quarts! (Including the quart that my youngest filled with her strawberry tops once she realized that she could eat the strawberries she was picking…)

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It took over an hour and a half to wash and cut all of those strawberries! So of course after all that effort I wanted to keep them fresh as long as possible! Here’s how I did it: I filled the big bowl of my divided sink with a few inches of water and added a couple drops of Thieves essential oil (a blend of spice oils with proven antimicrobial properties–the story goes that during the Black Plague, spice traders realized that the spices with which they were in constant contact protected them from the disease, so they used their immunity to loot the homes of Plague victims, hence the name Thieves) to disinfect the berries; I also added several drops of Lemon essential oil, an antioxidant, to keep the berries from going bad as quickly. Then I dumped in a box, which was probably 8 quarts’ worth. After each box I drained the sink and started again with the water, oils, and berries.

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These oils are therapeutic-grade, so they’re very potent; a little bit goes a very long way! Because I didn’t need to use much, there was no weird lingering taste on my delicious berries, and the ones I didn’t freeze stayed as fresh as the Friday I cut them for the entire weekend–because that’s all it took to eat them.

Now I’ve got over a dozen quarts of fresh-frozen berries to find delicious things to make with! I’ll definitely be making fruit leather, popsicles, ice cream, and smoothies, but I wanted to try something new this year. These muffins are perfect for a spring morning. They complement and retain the sweetness-with-a-touch-of-tart of the strawberries. They use refined sugar, so they’re not clean, but I did use whole-wheat pastry flour to make them a little bit healthier and more filling while keeping them light. And they’re dairy-, soy- and nut-free!

By starting the oven at a high temperature and then reducing it, you get a great puffy crown on the muffins that leaves them very light and delicious. This recipe makes about 18 regular-sized muffins, or I did a dozen regular and another dozen mini muffins.

***Note: Canola oil is easier in this recipe, but as I had run out, I used coconut, and it lent a delightful depth of flavor to the muffins and left my whole house smelling incredible. However, unless your strawberries AND eggs are completely room-temperature, you’ll have a solid lumpy mass on your hands; I had to warm the oil/strawberry/egg mixture in my microwave at half power for several 30-second interval to get everything the correct consistency again.

Fresh Strawberry Muffins:

Original recipe here

  • 3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups canola oil or melted and cooled coconut oil (see Note above)
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh (or frozen from fresh–not storebought in a bag frozen–and thawed) strawberries, sliced and slightly mashed
  1. Preheat oven to 425 and lightly grease the wells of your muffin tins with soy-free cooking spray.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine eggs, oil, and strawberries, mashing with a fork if desired to get smaller strawberry pieces.
  4. Add liquid ingredients to flour mixture and stir until combined. Do not overmix.
  5. Spoon 1/4-cupfuls (for standard muffins) or 1/8-cupfuls (for mini muffins)–a triggered ice cream scoop works great–into the wells of your muffin tin.
  6. Bake at 425 for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake another 15-19 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

 

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Clean(er) flourless brownies with fudge frosting.

Gluten-free | Mostly clean eating | Soy-free | Nut-free | Egg-free | Dairy-free option | Vegan option

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If you’re looking for a healthier treat (maybe for Valentine’s Day?) that still tastes just as rich as sinful, these might just be it. They’re moist and fudgy (especially with the fudge frosting!), without all the butter, flour and (most of the) refined sugar (depending on which brand of yogurt you use; more on that later).

Now, I will say that these are not something I would make when I’m having a spur-of-the-moment chocolate craving because they require a lot more planning and time than my one-bowl delicious brownies, but when you’ve got a chocolate craving AND you’re trying to work around dietary restrictions, the little bit of extra work makes it worth it. Plus I don’t feel like a total blob after eating a couple of these–and it’s much easier to stop at one or two with these than with my usual go-to recipe because they’re so much richer. So wins all around!

As for the brand of yogurt, this is important: You need to find a vanilla Greek yogurt that’s pretty thick. I like Oikos Triple Zero, but wound up using an organic variety that happened to have refined sugar in it instead of the stevia because I wanted a truer flavor; either way, you usually need two of the small cups to make this recipe. If you’re going dairy-free, you can try a coconut yogurt, but your ordinarily-very-thick batter will be thinner, which may affect baking time, so keep an eye on it. Borderline underdone is better than the alternative. If you do try the coconut yogurt, please let me know how it goes! I just couldn’t do coconut yogurt when I was dairy-free: not enough protein to warrant the expense and all the sugars. But when that’s what you’ve got to work with, I totally get it, and I would love nothing more than for these to work for you!

Cleaner Flourless Brownies

Adapted from here

  • 1 1/2 cups Enjoy Life semisweet mini chocolate chips, or similar, divided
  • 3 fl oz (1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp) melted virgin coconut oil (measure after melting)
  • 1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt or coconut yogurt (see note above about brand)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cups oat flour (blend or process regular oats in a blender or food processor until fine)
  • Fudge Frosting (below)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a square baking dish–8×8 or 9×9–with parchment, then lightly spray with soy-free cooking spray.
  2. Place melted coconut oil and 1 cup of the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until chips are melted. (Should take only 2 or 3 rounds in the microwave.)
  3. Pour melted chocolate into a medium mixing bowl and add yogurt; mix well. Stir in vanilla, salt, and baking soda.
  4. Stir in oat flour until incorporated, then fold in remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips.
  5. Spread mixture (it will be quite thick) evenly in prepared pan, then bake 28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean.
  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely in pan, then frost with Fudge Frosting (below).
  7. Frosted brownies will keep on the counter in a sealed container up to a week.

Fudge Frosting

Adapted from the more time-intensive version I made here

  • 1/2 bag Enjoy Life semisweet mini chocolate chips
  • 2-4 Tbsp coconut cream,* or similar amount of yogurt used above, or combination

*Coconut cream: refrigerate a can of coconut milk several hours, until it separates. Remove the can very carefully, without shaking it, and open it without disturbing the cream. Carefully spoon the cream from the top of the can, reserving the coconut water at the bottom for later use in a smoothie or something.

  1. Place chips and coconut cream or yogurt in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Heat while stirring constantly, until melted and incorporated.
  2. Add more cream or yogurt until the mixture reaches a smooth, medium consistency. You want it to be not too thin but still spreadable. I started with a couple tablespoons of coconut cream because that’s all I had, then added yogurt a tablespoon at a time.
  3. Pour into a bowl and chill in the refrigerator a few minutes until just set, then remove, stir, and spread evenly over the cooled brownies.
  4. Allow to set–may take up to an hour–and then cut brownies into 16 squares and enjoy!

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Chocolate Frozen Custard.

Gluten-free | Nut-free

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Today is National Chocolate Ice Cream Day! Last week was National Donut Day… I tend to wonder who it is that makes these arbitrary holidays, but regardless, if it means tasty food I’m all about it.

I found this recipe on Serious Eats awhile back and pinned it for a special occasion; I think this counts, right? I love frozen custard–you know, the soft, melt-in-your-mouth creaminess that you can find at Shake Shack, Culver’s, and the like. I never understood why it was so much more expensive than normal ice cream… until I read the ingredient list. Those egg yolks! But I tell you: they make it. We’ve made quite a bit of ice cream in our little Cuisinart over the years, and this is the one homemade ice cream that doesn’t turn to a block of ice in the freezer if we don’t eat it all in one sitting. (Which, trust me, you won’t; it’s rich, even for a self-professed chocoholic and ice cream aficionado like me!)

My oldest says this tasted like “brownie ice cream.” Yep.

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Chocolate Frozen Custard

Original recipe here — recipe below doubles it because I promise you’ll want more!

  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup light (clear) corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, corn syrup, and cocoa until well incorporated. Carefully whisk in cream and milk until well blended.
  2. Heat on medium-low (but closer to medium) several minutes, whisking frequently, until 170 degrees–or until thickened enough that a custard forms on a spoon when you dip it in and a finger swiped across the back of the spoon leaves a clean line. (It sounds weird, but I bet it’ll make sense when you do it.)
  3.  Stir in salt and vanilla.
  4. Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a freezer-safe airtight container, and chill in the refrigerator several hours, until very cold–40 degrees or so.
  5. Churn in your ice cream maker according to your appliance’s directions.
  6. Return to your freezer-safe container and either serve immediately or freeze about 1 hour to firm up a bit.
  7. It tastes best within a couple hours of being made.
  8. Optional: if you want to make a “concrete,” finely chop toppings like M&Ms, Oreos, brownies, etc., freeze until hard, and then add to the ice cream maker during the last 2 minutes of churning. Enjoy it right away!

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Paleo Blueberry Scones.

Paleo | Vegan option | Gluten-free | Dairy-free | Clean eating

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I have always loved scones. Something about the bite being firmer than a muffin but still moist, and so flavorful.

Because of the time we spent in London exactly a year ago now, when a Teacher Appreciation Week breakfast was proposed with an English tea theme, I jumped at the chance to spearhead it! I ordered scones, English muffins, and bread from our Publix bakery; my mom sent homemade jam and marmalade; I displayed all the British children’s books I’ve amassed over the years (a LOT of books); and we had toasters and teas for the teachers to help themselves to. But I knew some teachers (my daughter’s included–yes, I’m biased) can’t have traditional bread or scones because of allergies and intolerances, so I sought out an allergy-friendly scone recipe for them.

I found it. Oh boy, did I find it! They were SO good, and they were gone SO fast. With our new farm-fresh blueberries, I just had to make them again! The texture is a little less dense than normal scones, but no less delicious: not too sweet, and so flavorful.

Paleo Blueberry Scones

Original recipe here

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour or macadamia flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs (for vegan, use 2 flax eggs)
  • 3 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk, room temp
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • 3/4 cup blueberries
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
  3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the liquid ingredients.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry. The mixture should be slightly crumbly but stay in one mass. If your mixture is too dry, add a couple more drops of coconut milk.
  5. Gently fold in blueberries.
  6. On a wax paper-lined cutting board, form the dough mass into your favorite scone shape. I form it into a square about 3/4-inch thick all around, then use a large chef knife or offset spatula to cut it into 6 rectangles. Halve each of those into a triangle and you’ll end up with a dozen triangles about 3-4 inches to a side.
  7. Carefully use the knife or spatula to lift each scone onto your baking sheet, spacing a couple inches apart.
  8. Bake 16 minutes or until just golden.
  9. Let cool completely before enjoying!

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Paleo Chocolate Mug Cake.

Paleo | Clean eating | Dairy-free | Soy-free | Gluten-free | Nut-free

Sorry I’ve been kind of absentee lately… We’ve been starting to update our house, so instead of writing blog posts I’ve been pinning faucet designs and pricing granite.

In related news, here’s something for those nights where you feel like there isn’t enough chocolate in your whole house to possibly undo the doozy of a day you just had.

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It’s quick and easy to whip up, and gives you the rich, chocolaty, fluffy cake you need to decompress (and yes, it totally has a real cake texture, unlike most other microwave mug cakes I’ve tried, and somehow does it being gluten-free!) without the ill effects of a sugar binge.

And tonight I added a few drops of peppermint essential oil, and got myself a warm, gooey, Thin Mint cake! Keep this idea in mind for National Mint Chocolate Day on Friday!

Paleo Chocolate Mug Cake

Original recipe here

  • 2 Tbsp. coconut flour
  • 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa or cacao
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut or almond milk (unsweetened)
  • 2 Tbsp. melted coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • optional: 2-3 drops peppermint essential oil
  • up to 2 Tbsp. dairy-free mini chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life)
  1. Spray the inside of a mug with soy-free cooking spray (I use PAM for Grilling).
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.
  3. Add wet ingredients and mix until very well combined. It might turn rather thick as the coconut oil re-congeals in contact with the cold ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Pour into mug. Microwave on high for 2 minutes 30 seconds, but start checking it at around 2 minutes. As soon as it stops expanding, it’s done. In my book, a little under-done is way better than overdone.
  5. Allow to cool a few minutes before enjoying, perhaps with a dollop of So Delicious CocoWhip and a few more mini chocolate chips!

We’re part of Tater Tots and Jello’s Link Party Palooza!

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Clean Carrot Cake Cookies (with or without nuts).

Clean eating | Dairy-free | Soy-free | Gluten-free option | Nut-free option

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These babies are poised to usurp the title of “favorite clean snack” from my Maple Pumpkin Oat Muffins for me–or at least tie. My advice right off the bat is to freeze 3/4 of the batch right away. Or you WILL eat all of them. Speaking from experience.

The flavors mix perfectly in these to match my favorite carrot cake recipe–minus the cream cheese frosting, which my husband did not hesitate to remind me after his first bite–but was missing one thing. No, not raisins or pineapple. I never understood why people would put raisins or pineapple in their carrot cake. If it was meant to have those things in it it would be called carrot-raisin-pineapple cake. But I digress.

Walnuts!

So I added some. And my daughters told me in no uncertain terms to never ever do that again. So I think next time I’ll just add them to half of the cookies.

I’ve given you a double batch of the original recipe so that you have a bunch to keep in the freezer for lunches. They’ll still go way quicker than you expect!

Clean Carrot Cake Cookies

Adapted from here

  • 2 cups instant oats, spooned and leveled
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour or your favorite gluten-free flour mix, spooned and leveled
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup (4 Tbsp.) coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup maple syrup, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups grated carrots (about 4 small)
  • optional: 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or add 1/4 cup to the last half of the dough if not everyone likes nuts)
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
  2. In a smaller bowl, whisk together coconut oil, eggs, and vanilla. Whisk in the maple syrup until incorporated.
  3. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry, stirring until just incorporated. Fold in the carrots, and if desired, the walnuts.
  4. Cover with waxed paper or plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for an hour.
  5. Preheat your oven to 325 and line a baking sheet with parchment.
  6. Use a 2-Tbsp. dough scoop to drop rounded scoops onto the prepared sheet. Flatten slightly with the palm of your hand. Bake 12 minutes or until edges are golden and middles are set. Cool on the baking sheet several minutes before moving to a wire cooling rack.

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Wacky Cake: No eggs, milk, butter, or bowl needed.

Dairy-free | Soy-free | Egg-free | Gluten-free option | Nut-free

It’s my birthday week, so I thought I would share a birthday cake recipe!

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I found out my baby was MSPI three weeks before my 30th birthday. I was so dejected at the prospect of not being able to have cake on my birthday. But just a week later, this recipe started making the rounds on social media. It has been a lifesaver for me. It won’t win any awards for Most Delicious Cake In The History Of Ever, but when you don’t have another option, it tastes like the best thing on Earth.

It’s called Wacky Cake, or Crazy Cake, or Depression Cake–because lore says it was popular during the Great Depression, when eggs and butter were scarce, and because you actually make depressions in the dry ingredients to add the liquid ones. It rises thanks to the exothermic reaction between vinegar and baking soda and makes a great experiment with your kids. This is a great option for people who can’t have eggs or dairy–and I’ve read that it works well with gluten-free flours as well.

There are a few ways to make it. All of the different options are listed at another blog, but here are the ones I’ve tried and tweaked: Chocolate, Vanilla, and single-serving Mug Cake versions of both. I’ll tell you right now the chocolate is definitely the better tasting, but for those who prefer it, the vanilla option is there. That’s what we did for my MSPI baby’s first birthday, because she hadn’t had chocolate yet. For her birthday party a few days later, I used the chocolate mug cake recipe to make an extra-small batch of cupcakes so that she could have her own dairy-free cupcake while everyone else ate carrot cake.

I’ve also got the recipes for chocolate fudge frosting and vanilla “butter”cream frosting. So this will be a long post, but hopefully a useful one!

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Chocolate Wacky Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. white vinegar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 5 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 cup water
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease an 8-inch square or round pan.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in prepared pan (for round cake pan, mix all ingredients in a bowl and then pour the batter into the pan). Make 3 depressions in the flour mixture with your thumb. Pour the vinegar in one, the vanilla in another, and the oil in the third (it will overflow). Pour the water over all of it. Mix until completely incorporated.
  3. Bake 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Original recipe here

2-ingredient Chocolate Fudge Frosting 

Note: This is easy, but requires at least a day of advance planning.

  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 bag Enjoy Life semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
  1. Chill the can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight. Remove carefully from the fridge–DO NOT SHAKE–and carefully open. Spoon out the cream that has separated to the top into a saucepan. (You do not need the liquid “coconut water” underneath; save it to use in a smoothie later!)
  2. Add the chocolate chips to the saucepan. Melt them together over low heat, stirring frequently.
  3. Pour the melted chocolate into a mixer bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 2-3 hours or overnight. (Usually I refrigerate overnight, then leave it on the counter for the morning to soften a little.)
  4. Whip it with a hand mixer or the whisk attachment on your stand mixer until smooth and creamy. It will be a thick, ganache-like consistency. Thin with nondairy milk if desired, but really, you don’t need to. Add a pinch of sea salt if it floats your boat.
  5. Resist the urge to just eat the whole batch with a spoon, and frost your cake as desired.

Original recipe here

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Vanilla Wacky Cake 

  • 1 1/2 cups + 3 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. white vinegar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 5 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 cup water
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease an 8-inch square or round pan.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in prepared pan (for round cake pan, mix all ingredients in a bowl and then pour the batter into the pan). Make 3 depressions in the flour mixture with your thumb. Pour the vinegar in one, the vanilla in another, and the oil in the third (it will overflow). Pour the water over all of it. Mix until completely incorporated.
  3. Bake 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Original recipe here

Vanilla “Butter”cream Frosting

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) Earth Balance soy-free buttery stick, room temp
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • almond milk for thinning (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp. meringue powder (optional)
  • food coloring (optional)
  1. Using the paddle attachment on your stand mixer, cream the Earth Balance until smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl, then add about half of the powdered sugar, mixing until incorporated.
  2. Add vanilla. Mix in remaining powdered sugar gradually, pausing to whip the frosting mixture at high speed before adding more sugar, until the frosting looks thick enough. Whip at least a minute more and adjust powdered sugar or almond milk amounts as desired. Add meringue powder if you want your frosting to hold its shape during decorating.
  3. Dye with food coloring if desired.

Quick Single-Serving Microwave Mug Cake – Chocolate or Vanilla

  • 5 Tbsp. flour
  • 4 1/2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. cocoa powder (for vanilla, add an additional 2 tsp. flour instead)
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • dash salt
  • 1/2 tsp. white vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tsp. canola oil
  • 4 1/2 Tbsp. water
  1. Grease the inside of a large ceramic mug. Combine dry ingredients inside, mixing well with a fork.
  2. Use your index finger to make 3 depressions in the flour mixture. Pour vinegar in one, vanilla in the second, and oil in the third (it will overflow). Pour water over all. Mix with fork until very well incorporated.
  3. Place in microwave and cook, uncovered, on high 1 1/2 – 2 minutes–it will vary depending on your microwave. Don’t overcook! Remember there are no eggs, so a little underdone is ok–even delicious!
  4. Top with dairy-free chocolate chips, So Delicious CocoWhip, or whatever you like! Eat warm.
  5. FOR SMALL BATCH OF CUPCAKES: This recipe will fill about 3 cupcake liners. Fill remaining wells of your tin with water, then bake at 350 for 12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. You’ll have to watch them carefully.

Original recipe here

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