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Posts Tagged ‘cranberries’

I usually get random baking ideas right before I go to bed, or at about 2:07 am when I wake up because of our extraordinarily loud neighbors and can’t go back to sleep.

Lately I’ve been on this sweet potato kick for some reason. I use it in a vegan cheese sauce recipe quite often. The other day I made sweet potato gnocchi – sucks up A LOT more flour than normal potatoes, just a word of caution. And then of course you have sweet potato fries, which are really good with some toasted coconut.

Well I had a hankerin – I’m from the south, I can say that – for waffles the other day. I actually just wanted to bake something I think as I caught the never-ending cold going around PDX and had been out of commission for over a week. Anyway… Typically I use some old bananas in my waffles, but sometimes you just don’t feel like a naner. So, as usual, right as we’re going to bed my mind starts whirling with ideas, and what could be better than sweet potato waffles? With brandy soaked cranberries of course. And some walnuts. I know, I know… Genius!

Some friendly advice, PAM is your friend here. I was fresh out of non-stick cooking spray. These little buggers did NOT want to come out of the waffle iron. I had to pry them out with a fork, while demolishing them simultaneously. The ones in the picture were the only ones I could salvage. So, if you’re out of PAM, or SUE or BOB or whatever you call it, butter the damn thing. And maybe use some flour (gf) too.

Sweet Potaffles (vegan & gluten-free)

  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • brandy
  • 1 medium sweet potato (the orange kind, otherwise known as yams)
  • 1/4 cup walnuts

Put the cranberries in a small bowl and pour just enough brandy to cover them. Let them soak for at least 30 minutes.

Peel the sweet potato and chop it into small pieces, the smaller the pieces the quicker it’ll cook. Toss them in a pan, cover with water and boil until soft – about 15 minutes.

Roughly chop the walnuts.

  • 1 & 1/2 cups soy milk (or other dairy-free milk)
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Whisk the milk and vinegar together and set aside to curdle.

  • 1/4 cup white rice flour
  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup millet flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/4 cup potato starch
  • 1 T ground flaxseed
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum*
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger

Blend your dry ingredients together.

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegan margarine, melted (I used Smart Balance light)
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 tsp maple extract
  • 1/2 tsp molasses

This is where you should start heating up your waffle iron.

The sweet potato should be done by now as well. Drain the water and toss it in a large mixing bowl. Mash it well with a fork or use an immersion blender to puree. I recommend the latter. Add all the wet ingredients, including the milk mixture, and mix it well until thoroughly blended – I used a hand blender. Add in the dry ingredients and mix well. Fold in the walnuts and cranberries, including the brandy.

Pour the batter into your PAM sprayed waffle iron and wait impatiently until the little light goes out again. Remove. Cover with maple syrup. Enjoy.

These were probably the best waffles I’ve made in a very long time. Nice and crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside. My husband gave me this weird look when I told him I was making sweet potato waffles, but he changed his mind after taking a bite. They were quite tasty, and he had no idea they were gluten-free until I told him.

*On the xanthan gum, I just became privy to the fact that some of this stuff is made from whey, so if you’re a strict vegan be sure to check on that. I think you can use guar gum instead, but I’ve never used it so I have no advice there.

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Lately we’ve gotten into the habit of always having a little something sweet after a meal. I can blame part of it on the fact that I’m in culinary school – you need to do your own research right? I blame the other part of it on the fact that school is only 3 hours a day right now and I can’t find a job. Boredom = baked goods. So the other day after lunch, Gary turns and looks at the empty cookie jar and sort of gives off this sad little whimper. I smile. Then about an hour later I’m in the kitchen, baking.

Being that we’ve had so much sweet stuff lately I didn’t want to pour a whole bunch of sugar and fat into something else that I was inevitably going to be snacking on for the next few days. I guess I didn’t mind pouring a whole bunch of chocolate chips in it though (but it’s chocolate, really, who has he ever hurt?). Anyway, the vision of a cute little oatmeal cookie started dancing around in my head. Nothing says healthy like oats! Plus cranberries. And almonds. And chocolate chips, of course.

These were good, and dare I say wholesome. They were just sweet enough to satisfy the sugar fix but not too sweet to make you feel like you were eating junk food. There’s hardly any oil in them either and I bet you could probably take all the oil out and you wouldn’t really miss it, or even substitute applesauce. Applesauce tends to make cookies cakey so I don’t use it too often, but these had a nice chewy texture so it probably wouldn’t have been too bad. You could even make them gluten-free by using a gluten-free flour mixture like this one and certified GF oats. Cherries instead of cranberries would have also been good. Maybe with some dark chocolate.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies with Cranberries and Almonds

yields about 12 cookies
  • 1/3 C whole wheat pastry flour, or GF flour mixture
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • Pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon
  • About 1 C quick cooking oats
  • 1/4 C dairy free milk
  • 2 T agave
  • 2 T granulated sugar (or more agave)
  • 2 1/2 T brown sugar
  • 1 T ground flax seed
  • 1 T canola oil (preferably organic)
  • 3/4 t vanilla extract
  • About 1/2 C chocolate chips, cranberries and almonds

Preheat your oven to 350.

Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and spices. In a mixing bowl, combine the milk, agave, sugars, flax, oil and extract and mix well. Add the dry ingredients, oats, choco chips, cranberries and almonds. Mix until everything is uniformly moistened. Drop spoonfuls of batter onto a silpat lined (or parchment) cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the edges start to brown. Let them cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

I tend to over-bake my cookies but these I took out before I thought they were totally done, which means they were just right. I don’t think they’ll be as good if they are too crunchy so don’t make them spend too much time in the oven.

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I’m back!!  Well, I’ve been back for awhile I just, um, haven’t gotten around to writing on this thing yet.  You know, you think that after you get the whole wedding thing done, get the family and friends out of town, and fly off to your honeymoon you can just relax… Wrong!  Once you get back to real life you remember all those things you’ve been putting off for the last month or two.  And then you have to write all those thank you notes and start culinary school.  Well, the latter is probably specific to me, but it still takes up a lot of your time.

A few days after we returned from our honeymoon in Dublin I started Oregon Culinary Institute in SW Portland.  I had thought that I was going to get to go right into the kitchen and start baking some tasty cakes, but they switched things around and didn’t tell me.  So, I don’t get to bake anything until like July, but the upside is I’m learning a lot about wine right now and that’s always very interesting.

Since I don’t get to use the handy dandy KitchenAid stand mixers at school, I’m finding reasons – making up excuses – to use one at home (that I was fortunate enough to receive as a wedding gift).  Things work a little bit different in a stand mixer though… so I’m glad I get to practice before using them at school for a grade.

Anyway, I had this random idea pop into my head the other day about a cupcake.  I’d actually thought about it before but hadn’t ever gotten around to doing anything with it.  This time I happened to have one lonely parsnip sitting in my fridge.  Now don’t be skeptical.  They actually turned out pretty good.  I even made cream cheese frosting from scratch, including the powdered sugar because I ran out (oops).  And!!! they are fairly healthy, for a cupcake anyway.  There’s no oil in it.  The only straight fat actually comes from the butter in the frosting.  They are still very moist however, I don’t think you’ll miss the oil.

So, without further ado, meet…

The Parsnip

The prep work:

  • Chop up a medium size parsnip, toss it in a pan and cover with water.  I added some cinnamon to the mix – it may or may not have made a difference.
  • Boil until soft, about 10 minutes.
  • Drain the water and puree with an immersion blender (or blender or by hand if you must).
  • Scoop out 1/3 cup and set aside
  • Add a little salt to the rest and munch on it (pretty tasty).
  • While these are boiling, toast some pecans in a 350 degree oven.  I used a little soy milk and agave instead of butter.  They only take about 10 minutes so be careful and don’t burn them like I did.  Lightly salt them once they are done and chop them up into fairly small pieces.
  • Also, if mixing in dried cranberries, soak them in a liquor (I used vanilla vodka) for at least 30 minutes – I soaked them over night.  Drain before adding to cupcake batter.

For the cupcake:

  • In a small bowl whisk together:
    • 3/4 C soy milk
    • 1 t apple cider vinegar
  • Sift the dry ingredients together:
    • 1/2 C wheat flour
    • 3/4 C unbleached AP flour
    • 2 T corn starch
    • 1 t baking powder
    • 1/2 t baking soda
    • 1/2 t salt
    • 1/4 t nutmeg
    • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • In a large mixing bowl combine:
    • milk mixture
    • 1/3 C vanilla soy yogurt
    • 1/3 C parsnip puree
    • 3/8 C agave
    • 3/8 C raw sugar
    • 2 & 1/4 t vanilla extract
  • Mix the wet ingredients well and then add the dry ingredients.  Be careful not to over mix!
  • Fold in the cranberries (if using – I’m not sure they were necessary).
  • Scoop batter into a lined muffin pan.
  • Sprinkle the pecans and a little sugar on top of each future cupcake.
  • Bake at 350 for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the toothpick comes out clean of course.

Geez this post is getting long!  I’ve forgotten how long it takes to write these things out…

Now, for the Cream Cheese Frosting.

  • Cream together 1/3 C vegan cream cheese* and 1/4 C vegan stick margarine.
  • Mix in 1 t vanilla extract and 2 – 3 C of powdered sugar.
  • Add a little soy milk if it seems to thick.
  • Pipe or spoon onto cooled cupcakes.

*A note on the cream cheese.  Typically I use the non-hydrogenated Tofutti suff, but I really HATE buying it since it is so processed.  So I attempted to make my own this time.  It turned out better than my previous attempts but it still needs some finessing, and perhaps a little thickening.  Here’s what I did:

Vegan Cream Cheese

  • Half block Mori-Nu extra firm tofu, pressed
  • 1/4 C whole cashews, ground
  • 1/2 – 1 T nutritional yeast (large flake)
  • 1/2 – 1 T lemon juice
  • 1/2 – 1 T agave
  • Scant 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t soy sauce
  • 2 T arrowroot starch

Add everything to a blender or small food processor and process until smooth – I actually used my immersion blender again (I love that thing). Refrigerate for a few hours to help it set.

You probably don’t need salt and soy sauce, but my brain skipped yesterday and I inadvertently put both in there.  It tasted ok though so whatever!  This was way better than what I’ve tried before, but it still needs to be thicker.  All the “1/2 – 1 T” measures up there are because I don’t remember exactly how much I put in, so experiment.  If you have a cream cheese recipe, please share it!!

Alrighty, I’m tired of typing. =)  Happy Sunday!!

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