Simple Side Dish | Sriracha Honey Glazed Carrots

6 Dec

carrots

Since my Sriracha roasted brussels sprouts post was so popular, here is another really simple side dish recipe. How simple you ask? You are just three ingredients closer to tasty town. Y-E-S!

Sriracha Honey Glazed Carrots
serves 2

Ingredients

 1 lb organic whole carrots (cleaned, peeled and cut into circles)

1 TBS cold pressed olive oil

1 TBS Sriracha (hot chili garlic sauce) 

1 TBS local raw honey

salt and pepper to taste

Steps
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2. Lightly coat a baking sheet with nonstick spray or olive oil
3. Place the prepped carrots in a medium bowl
4. Combine olive oil and Sriracha, pour over carrots, stir to combine, make sure they are coated evenly.
5. Place coated carrots on to the prepared baking sheet in a single layer.
6. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
7. Bake 20 – 30 minutes depending on the roast level you desire. Stir carrots half way through to ensure even browning.
8. Remove from oven, while the carrots are still hot place in a bowl and coat with the raw honey.

Notes
1. Sriracha is a sweet hot chili garlic sauce, 1 TBS will give you a slight heat factor, feel free to increase the Sriracha in this recipe to increase the heat!
2. Serve each portion in a vintage bowl. The bowl in the picture is not vintage, but it is cute and made by Marimekko.

Makin’ Pies | A Thanksgiving Recap

4 Dec

“It’s not far I can walk down the block to Table Talk
Close my eyes make the pies all day
Plastic cap on my hair I used to mind now I don’t care
I used to mind now I don’t care ’cause I’m great” – Patty Griffin

Me and my grandparents circa 1982. I think.

Me and my grandparents circa 1982. I think.

When I was little my grandfather used to tell me this story of one of the first jobs he had as a kid. He would go into local stores and look for mold on all of the Table Talk pies that they were selling. His job was to take a little pocket knife and scrape the mold off of the bottom crust and place the pie back on the shelf. It was the depression and totally indicative of the times and the spirit of that era.

Why all this talk about pies and making pies.. well I made several different versions of pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving and wanted to share some recipes, links and love. Kate thinks I am crazy, and often calls me a baking renegade. Thanksgiving week was no different. I decided to make four pies this year, one to keep and the rest to give away. They were all pumpkin based, one traditional, a vegan option, and even a gluten-free paleo friendly option! Now you get the picture. For real.

twopies

The traditional pumpkin pies were for my family and for the staff that volunteered to work Thanksgiving morning at Bloc, one of the cafes I manage. This had a buttermilk and butter crust and Kate’s Dad’s pumpkin pie filling recipe. The results… amazing! The crust was evenly browned and crisp and never got soggy even after chilling in the fridge overnight!

The crust recipe is from Joy the Baker’s blog and it is her Dad’s Perfect Pie Crust recipe.
Here’s the link: Dad’s Sweet Potato Pie

I don’t want to share Denny’s exact pumpkin pie filling recipe here, so I have found a similar vintage pumpkin pie recipe that will do the trick.
Carnation’s Famous Pumpkin Pie from 1959 (hint: leave out the cloves in the recipe)
Notes:
– I made the crust in the food processor and it still came out amazing
– I didn’t have buttermilk on hand, so I made my own with 1/3 c whole milk and 1/3 tsp cider vinegar
– I had extra pie crust & filling since I used recyclable pie tins for my lucky pie recipients, so I made a mini pie for Kate & I 🙂

extrafilling

Next up…Vegan Mini Pies, delivered swiftly to the folks that volunteered to work at Diesel on Thanksgiving morning! The crust is made from coconut oil, not shortening and is soy free. It remained very light in color, but yielded a very sturdy, yet flaky crust. I found this recipe on a blog that is amazing and super cute, Loves and Lemons, it was the complete recipe, the author provided.

Again, I made the crust in the food processor, no kneading or hand cutting in the fat for me! The only change I made was that I used canned coconut milk instead of almond milk in the filling, because it is what I had on hand.
Mini Vegan Pumpkin Pies

veganmini

Lastly, a recipe I had been wanting to try out since the first Fall leaf hit the pavement. Paleo Pumpkin Cashew Cheesecake from Paleo Fondue. One word Y-U-M! Kate isn’t even a fan of cheesecake and she loved this recipe. In typical Jess fashion I did make a substitution. I thought the unsweetened coconut crust that she used in her recipe was too “healthy” for my liking at the time, so I made my own crust recipe up:

Gluten Free Ginger Snap Crust
makes enough for a 9″ spring form pan

3/4  package of Mi-Del Gluten Free Ginger Snaps
1 TBS melted virgin coconut oil
pinch of all natural sea salt

1) Pulse ginger snaps and salt in a food processor until evenly sized crumbs are created, graham cracker cust

2) Once ginger snaps are processed, add the coconut oil and pulse until crumbs look evenly coated with oil and wet

3) Coat the bottom of your spring form pan with the crumbs and evenly press the layer, ensuring that the mixture goes about 1 inch up the sides of the pan

4) Place pan on a baking sheet and bake crust in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 mins, check frequently you don’t want your crust to burn. You are just baking the crust enough to set it.

5) Cool crust completely then refrigerate while you make the cheesecake filling.

pumpcheesecake

Notes:
– In the photo above I made coconut whipped cream, using chilled canned full fat coconut milk and powdered sugar.

There you have it, our Thanksgiving recapped in pie recipes. You should try all of them, but if that is too overwhelming, just take my advice and bake at least one of the recipes above. It will be worth it.

 

 

Got Bananas? | Two New Recipes That Are B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

1 Dec

We’ve gotten into this habit of buying bananas and forgetting about them until they are just on the brink of almost too ripe. Ugh. While I like them riper than I did in my childhood days, there’s a point where they are just to sweet for eating plain & are perfect for adding to oatmeal or topping a piece of toast with almond or peanut butter. This past summer, they couldn’t get overripe fast enough–I loved peeling, breaking them into quarters or thirds and tossing in a ziplock bag in the freezer for morning smoothies. YUM! But now I feel as though they stack up in the fridge, almost black, waiting for us to take the time to transform them into some delicious baked good.

I usually love going back to old favorites but I was in the mood for something new so I broke in Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking: From my home to yours” book that I got Jess for her birthday (oops!) and baked her Cocoa-Nana Bread–perfect for bringing into work. I also wanted something a little healthier that I knew we could safely keep around the house for us to enjoy. Enter iambaker‘s Chocolate Chip Banana Bars. Oh hi!

Needless to say, it was a perfect banana filled Sunday of baking.

First, the decadent-it’s-okay-to-eat-chocolate-for-breakfast recipe.

the lighting in our kitchen makes the bread look reddish but it was actually very very dark brown

the lighting in our kitchen makes the bread look reddish but it was actually very very dark brown

Cocoa-Nana Bread from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From my home to yours

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (we use sea salt)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar (we use raw sugar)
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup buttermilk (tip: if you don’t have buttermilk on hand, just add 1 tsp of vinegar to 1 cup of milk, stir & let sit for a few minutes)
1/2 cup store-bought chocolate chips

Steps
1. 
Center a rack in the oven & preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F). Butter a 9×5 inch loaf pan and place it on an insulated baking sheet–or on two regular baking sheets stacked one on top of the other. (This extra insulation will keep the bottom of the bread from over baking.)

Maker’s notes: And it did! This incredible tip transforms the way I’ll bake other quick breads from now on. There is nothing more frustrating than taking your labor of love out of the oven with either a raw center or burned outside just so the bread could bake all the way through. I used 2 baking sheets stacked & it worked perfectly.

2. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt & baking soda.

3. Working with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (I just used a hand mixer because I didn’t feel like dragging out the KitchenAid), in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed for about a minute until softened.

4. Add the sugars and beat for another 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute after each addition. At this point, the batter may look a little curdled–it’s okay.

5. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the mashed bananas.

6. Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing only until they disappear into the batter.

7. Still on low speed, add the buttermilk, mixing until it is incorporated.

8. Stir in the chocolate chips and scrape the batter into the pan.

9. Bake for 30 minutes. Cover the bread loosely with a foil tent to keep the top from getting too dark, and continue to bake for another 40-45 minutes (total baking time = between 70-75 minutes), or until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
Maker’s notes: Covering the bread with a foil tent is another really amazing tip that will change the way I bake future quick breads! The top came out perfectly and not overdone in the least bit.

10. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for at least 20 minutes before running a knife around the edges of the bread and unmolding it. Invert and cool to room temperature right-side-up.

11. Store wrapped in plastic at room temperature and the bread will stay fresh for about 2 days. Tightly wrapped, it will keep up to 2 months in the freezer.

The verdict
Tasty! The loaf is really pretty–it baked nice & high with impressive cracks. The flavors were more developed the next day. It’s definitely chocolatey but you can still taste the banana. I’d love to try making a bread pudding with it because I think it would be super yummy dusted with powered sugar and topped with homemade whipped cream for dessert.

Next…the healthier sweet treat that would be a fun recipe for the kids to help make.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bars (Paleo) by iambaker

I followed iambaker’s recipe exactly so I’m not going to repost the recipe here but rather link to it here. Her photos are perfectly mouth watering! Check it out.

The verdict
I like her philosophy & skepticism (about Paleo “baking”) and was encouraged to try these due to the fact that she is a baker who typically uses all of the traditional  ingredients like flour, eggs, butter, etc. We liked these a lot. They were best right after baking–warm or at room temp–but I was hesitant to store them on the counter because they aren’t baked for very long & are quite dense/moist. So I cut them in the pan & stored them in the refrigerator. I let them come to room temp before enjoying (or warmed them in the toaster oven/microwave). When I make them again, I might use almond flour to add a little extra texture.

Making Breakfast Easy | Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

23 Nov

Clearly I’m obsessed with pumpkin. I’ve fallen head over heels for the flavors of Fall. Last night my friend Dillan (Instagram handle: dillandigi) posted a photo of an overnight pumpkin oatmeal he was prepping for the morning. This was the inspiration for the recipe that I’m posting here today.

A few weeks ago, when Kate was traveling in Texas for work, I made myself pumpkin oatmeal in the slow cooker. It had good flavor, but it made a ton and the edges got kind of well done. So last night, I was looking online for overnight refrigerated oatmeal recipes, but decided that I might not like the texture, or that they might not be to my liking once heated up (since I didn’t want cold oatmeal this morning). Of course, typical me, I decided to wing a pumpkin oatmeal recipe this morning, inspired by this Choco-Banana-Chia Oatmeal recipe that Dillan posted on his blog in September (it’s especially tasty)!

pumpkinoats

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

makes 1 serving

Ingredients

1/2 c Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Rolled Oats
1 c boiling water
1 TBS 100% pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
1/2 TBS chia seeds
1 tsp organic virgin coconut oil
2 tsp pure maple syrup
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 pinch all natural sea salt (fine)
1 TBS organic dried cranberries

1) Add boiling water to the oatmeal and stir. I like my oatmeal a little on the thicker side, so I also microwave the oats and boiling water for 25 seconds, then stir.

2) Add pumpkin, chia seeds, coconut oil, pumpkin pie spice and stir.

3) Top with maple syrup, a pinch of salt and dried cranberries.

4) Enjoy!

Notes:
– Be sure to keep a close eye on your oatmeal in the microwave, if left unsupervised it can overflow & leave a mess.
– If you like your oatmeal unsweetened, omit the maple syrup–or for a less sweet option, reduce the syrup to 1 tsp.
– Feel free to use oats that are not gluten-free, the recipe would work just as well.
– Other delicious toppings would include: sprouted almonds, toasted pecans, or whipped cream.

Another great advantage of this recipe is that it is really healthy and costs almost nothing to make. All of the ingredients included in this recipe were items we had in our pantry–can’t get much better than that! 🙂

Gettin’ Old is Rough | DIY Easy Entry Litter Box

19 Nov

We have a 17.5 year old cat. His name is Sitar, and he is the most beautiful cat I have ever seen. I had originally gotten him when he was 4 yeas old from a coworker of mine who was moving back to the west coast and couldn’t take him on the plane with him.

Sitar is a Maine Coon/Siamese mix and apparently his original owner had chosen him out of a litter, he was the most Siamese looking kitten of the bunch and fit in the palm of his hand. He grew to 27lbs at his heaviest!

Fast forward four years, I’m living at my parents’ house and Sitar has become my new roommate. My aunt calls him a lion cub, and he wins over my dad’s heart.

from 2009 one of my favorite Sitar photos

from 2009 one of my favorite Sitar photos

I know he doesn’t get much screen time on the blog these days. He spends most of his time sleeping in a dog bed at the end of our bed, settled into an oldie routine, he knows his meal schedule, and is sure to remind us whenever he can! He isn’t as limber as he once was, he seems stiffer as the years get on. So I decided to research an easier entry litter box for him, so he could just step inside instead of having to hop in and out.

My research did not yield many results for plain easy large covered litter boxes. I found one at Target, by Boots and Barkley, that was large and covered and had a lower opening it retailed for $23.99. I did read a bunch of posts
online, about making your own out of a Sterilite or Rubbermaid container with a lid. So I decided to try it.

DIY easy entry litterbox (L)

DIY easy entry litterbox (L)

Materials

1 18 Gallon Sterilite Storage Bin with Lid (available at Target for $5.49)

1 box cutter or sharp scissors

1 ruler

1 Sharpie Marker

Directions

1) Measure the height of the opening of the current litter box that your senior cat is using. Sitar’s litter box opening was 8″ from the ground. I knew I wanted it to be lower, but he needed to have a little bit of a wall so he wouldn’t have an accident and pee outside of the box, so I made the opening 4″ from the floor.

2) The actual shape and design of the Sterilite container is perfect to use as the opening of the litter box. I just measured 4″ from the floor and then traces the rest of the shape of the plastic front. As seen in the photo above it mimicked the shape of his original litter box opening.

3) Using a box cutter, I cut the straight line of the bottom of the opening first, then continued to cut the rest of the opening outline.

4) Fill the new easy entry litter box with the brand of litter that your elderly cat currently uses. It should be filled about 2-3″ deep. Cover the box with the lid and place it where the old litter box was living.

Notes:
– Sitar is on day four of using his new box, and everything seems great.
– Sitar uses World’s Best Cat Litter with no scent, and it seems to work best for him, since he is probably like having two cats anyway.
– He definitely has an easier time getting into this one, he just steps in and does his business.
– Our friends Casey & Dave modified the litter box that their cat, Wee Wee, was using by cutting the opening down to the floor and that worked for her. That is an alternative to buying a container, if your cat tends to not go to the bathroom right at the front of the box.

sitar our dusty old man

sitar our dusty old man

Sitar loves Halo Spot’s Stew canned food, My Little Lion cat treats, and messing with his two Boston Terrier brothers. He has also been known to enjoy the occasional piece of Sara Lee Turkey Breast and adventures in the great outdoors our tiny back deck. His favorite time of year is Christmas, mainly because it is when we get a real tree and he loves to drink the fresh water for the tree. It’s when the outdoors come in for the holidays 🙂

Fallin’ for Pumpkin | Vegan Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Buttercream

17 Nov

“Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address. On the other hand, this not knowing has its charms.” – You’ve Got Mail


There are many things that I love about Fall. It holds a certain sense of nostalgia for me, a kind of love affair and anticipation of all the things that I love. New England in the Fall all that I have ever known. Memories of being a hooded little version of myself jumping in piles of leaves and making Simon the scarecrow with my Gram. Pumpkin carving, trick or treating, celebrating all of the wonderful Fall birthdays in my family, and favorite Fall foods like acorn squash, pumpkin everything, and apple pies.

As an adult, I have my own traditions built on the life that Kate and I share together. The Halloween costumes remain as well as recipes riddled with pumpkin and fall flavors. The following recipe is one that I made for the annual Diesel Halloween party, it could be made with dairy and it would be just as tasty, as always I like a baking challenge and also try to bake things that all the guests at the party can enjoy!

Vegan Pumpkin Bliss

Vegan Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Buttercream

adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

Makes 24 cupcakes

Ingredients

2 c 100% pure canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
2/3 c canola oil
2 c organic vegan sugar
1/2 c organic vanilla soy milk
1/2 tsp Bragg’s organic and raw cider vinegar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 c all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur Flour)
 1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp all natural fine sea salt

Maple Buttercream

adapted from Wilton’s Classic Buttercream Icing

Yield: generous frosting for 24 cupcakes

Ingredients

1 c Spectrum Non-hydrogenated Vegetable Shortening
1 c Earth Balance Buttery Sticks (softened)
2 tsp vanilla extract
8 c confectioners’ sugar (sifted)
4 TBS organic vanilla soy milk
4 TBS organic maple syrup
pinch of all natural fine sea salt

Cupcake Directions

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two muffin pans with cupcake wrappers.

2) In a small bowl combine the soy milk and cider vinegar and let stand for 5 minutes. This will make vegan buttermilk.

3) In a large bowl stir together the pumpkin, canola oil, sugar, vegan buttermilk, and vanilla. Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Stir together with a fork, don’t use a mixer it will make the batter gummy.

4) Once combined fill the liners two-thirds full. Bake for 22 to 24 minutes. Rotate cupcake trays at approximately 14 minutes into the total baking time to ensure even baking.

5) Remove cupcakes from pans and transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before frosting.

Frosting Directions

1) In large bowl, cream shortening and Earth Balance with electric mixer. Add vanilla.

2) Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry.

3) Add soy milk and maple syrup, then beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Remember to taste the frosting as you are adding the maple syrup, keep adding by the TBS until you achieve your desired taste. If the frosting appears to thick, add more soy milk, but be cautious   and add a little at a time in order to not thin it out too much.

4) Once you have reached the desired consistency, then add a pinch of sea salt and beat just to incorporate. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.

These cupcakes were a big hit at the party. Kate said that the cake was the best pumpkin cake I’ve ever made, they were super moist and flavorful. You would never know they were vegan. Also, when dreaming up the frosting flavor, Kate doubted my decision to try a maple frosting, remarking that it might not be a flavor combo that appeals to the masses. She voted for a cinnamon buttercream, but I went with my gut and it was amazing.

Notes:
– This recipe could be made non-vegan by substituting butter in for Earth Balance and whole milk for the soy milk.
– An easy way to frost cupcakes is to fill a plastic Ziploc bag with frosting and cut one bottom corner of the bag off. Twist close the top opening of the bag and squeeze some frosting back into the bowl to remove any air pockets. Then start from the center of your cupcake and with even pressure move in a spiral until you fill the cupcake to the edge. Don’t worry if you mess up, just scrape the frosting back into the frosting bowl using a butter knife.

All About Fall | Gluten Free Buttermilk Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

19 Oct

My friend Potter, recently went for breakfast a the Neighborhood Restaurant. This is a local family owned breakfast joint located in Union Square, right down the street from Bloc 11 Cafe, where he and I both work. Potter and I share a love for all things pumpkin and he was going on and on about these pumpkin pancakes he had there, my mouth was watering just listening to him….

Bloc 11 courtyard

Bloc 11 Cafe courtyard: Scarecrows need coffee too!

Of course, this lead me to an inner baking challenge, something I set myself up for on the regular,ha! I was determined to come up with delicious gluten free and/or on the healthier side pumpkin pancakes. King Arthur Flour’s gluten free pancake mix was on sale at Shaw’s, so I used this as the base for my pancake recipe. In another effort to ensure a successful gluten free recipe I researched online, but had no luck. I even posted an outcry to my foodie friends on Facebook, which yielded no recipe results… my determination grew.
In true Jess fashion, as Kate would call it.. I just made my own recipe up, ad-libbed and hoped for the best. And as luck would have it, they came out perfectly! Success.

#yum

#yum

Guten Free Buttermilk Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

Makes 8 – 4″ round pancakes

Ingredients

1 1/3 cup King Arthur Flour gluten free pancake mix
1 cup organic or local whole milk (I used High Lawn Farm from Lee, MA)
1 tsp Bragg’s organic and raw cider vinegar
1 large organic egg
3 TBS 100% pure canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1/2 TBS organic virgin coconut oil (melted)
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1) Measure out the milk and add the cider vinegar to it, making your own buttermilk. Let sit for 3 – 5 minutes.

2) Whisk together the egg, pumpkin, buttermilk mixture, and coconut oil.

3) Whisk in the pancake mix and pumpkin pie spice.

4) Allow the batter to sit for 10 minutes to thicken.

5) Preheat a griddle or large flat grill pan. I used our gas stove and set the burner on 6.

6) Grease pan with a square of organic butter.

7) Scoop the batter by the 1/4 cupful or I used a #16 dough/portion scoop onto the lightly greased pan.

8) Cook for 1 – 2 minutes, until bubbles form on the tops of the pancakes and the bottoms are golden brown.

9) Flip and cook for 1 – 2 minutes on the other side. Serve hot, with organic butter and organic warm pure maple syrup.

These pancakes came out amazing, and you can’t even tell they are gluten free! There is a slight pumpkin undertone with just the right amount of spice to add to the flavor, but not mask the pumpkin. I would make these again in a heartbeat. The recipe made 8 full sized pancakes and a tiny silver dollar sized pancake, the perfect size to split between Stevie and Ollie and they gobbled it right up 🙂

Notes:
– This recipe could be made dairy free by substituting the milk for coconut, soy, or almond milk and replacing the butter with Earth Balance
– A great side, as pictured above is Applegate Farms Organic Sunday Bacon. (I cooked it in the oven on 400 for 15-18 mins on a parchment lined baking sheet*) *Oven baked bacon credit goes to our friends Laurie & Gabe 🙂
– Substitution suggestions for toppings: Maple Cream, Pumpkin Butter, or Baked Spiced Apples.

Cutest Pumpkins Ever!

Cutest Pumpkins Ever!

Happy Fall!

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