Cherry Almond Gluten Free Cookies

GF cookie 6January is a HARD month for me and I think for many people. The holiday cheer is gone. The guilt about holiday weight gain sets in. The weather leaves a little something to be desired. You DON’T want to leave bed and go to work, because bed is sooooooo nice and cozy and inviting. These are my thoughts. I want it to be February already.GFCookies2This is what happens when I walk into the kitchen to experiment. Feel free to sub the dried fruit or mixture of nuts to your liking, but I would stick with the measurements I have used. These are pretty healthy, chewy and surprised me when they came out of the oven. The first time I actually left them raw and they definitely work as a raw bar, BUT when  you bake them and they come out of the oven warm, they feel so much more indulgent and satisfying, trust me.GFCookies5Hope everyone has a good weekend. I plan to have a restorative weekend filled with lots of relaxation, yoga, cooking and reading. Happy Friday!GFCookies

Cherry Almond Gluten Free Cookies: makes 18 cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup raw almonds

1 cup raw almonds

½ cup raw cashews

½ cup raw or toasted macadamia nuts

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground ginger

3 tbs coconut oil, divided

1/4 cup golden raisins, divided

½ cup dried cherries, soaked in warm water for 2 minutes, patted dry and divided

¼ cup cacao nibs

1/3 cup shredded coconut

3 tbs honey

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Process almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, cinnamon, ginger, 2 tbs of the coconut oil, ¼ cup of the cherries (patted dry), 2 tbs of the golden raisins in a food processor for about 1 minute. You want the nuts and the overall mixture to remain a little chunky, so I leave my food processor in the middle of the thin to thick scale. If you don’t have that on yours, stop every 20 seconds to see what the texture looks like. It should break down nicely, but should not be smooth. Scrape down the sides and process for another 30 seconds.

3. Add the last tablespoon of coconut oil, the other ¼ cup of cherries, ¼ cup of cacao nibs, the shredded coconut, 2 tbs of golden raisins and honey. Process until the mixture begins to clump together. It is done when you can press the mixture firmly and it sticks together.

4. I used an ice cream scooper (3/4oz) to scoop out these cookies. Fill the scoop and press down firmly. Gently release the mixture onto the parchment paper. I prefer not to press them firmly because I like the way they look when they aren’t perfect. I put 9 cookies per baking sheet.

5. Bake for 10 minutes. Let them cool down slightly and then enjoy!


Asian Pear Bowl w/ honey and hazelnuts

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetHere is my truth. The truth is that when I think about my blog, I think it is this wonderful reflection of the way I eat, beautifully documented, several photos to show off each angle of the dish with lots of natural light bursting through the window and effortlessly making my food look Pinterest-worthy. But real life is more complicated. The winter is hard. The days are short. I work full time and take iPhone snapshots of what I make in the kitchen while at work. I try to carve out time on the weekends to make, create, photograph, write and document. But I also value spending time with Daniel and my friends, getting OUT of the kitchen and LIVING. It takes hours upon hours to pull off a perfect food post. And food blogging has become crazy popular with tons of people dedicating their time to make an awesome food blog. Congrats to you if this describes you. I am still trying to figure out the balance for myself. Right now I know that I want this space to be more reflective of the way I eat day to day (even if that means some iPhone snapshots, not totally styled pictures), my experiments in the kitchen at work and home, the lessons I have learned and continue to learn, and what currently inspires me.

So cheers to 2015 and I hope you want to celebrate good food and learn a lot with me in the new year!

Asian Pear Bowl w/ honey and hazelnuts: serves 1

Ingredients:

1 cup greek yogurt + 2 tbs milk of your choice (optional. But I like to thin out greek yogurt just a little)

2 tsp honey

1 ripe asian pear, chopped (discard the core)

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tbs hazelnuts, chopped

1/4 cup rolled oats

Directions:

1. Mix the yogurt and milk in a small bowl until creamy. Mix in 1 tsp honey.

2. In a medium bowl (you are going to eat out of this), Layer the chopped pear on the bottom, then spoon the yogurt over the pear.

3. Sprinkle the cinnamon, hazelnuts and oats over the yogurt and then drizzle with the remaining 1 tsp of honey.

4. Then make a cup of tea or coffee and enjoy!


Making Edible Gifts

popover2I love making edible gifts for the holidays. So much so that I partnered with Popover to make a post all about my gifting style and what sort of treats I like to make and give during the holidays. Also, I recently discovered a heat embosser that made these pretty stamps (pictured above) all shiny and gold and full of life! You will get addicted and you will start crafting for no reason. But trust me, it’s a good thing and people will welcome it. Head on over to Popover to see more photos and get links to some of my favorite recipes! Happy Holidays!popover6


Easy Chocolate Peppermint & Marshmallow Bark

peppermintbark6It’s that time of year, so I’m just rolling with it. Yes, I’m still eating my fruits and vegetables, but in the dessert department, I have kind of thrown caution to the wind. Because I don’t feel like depriving myself during this fun, jolly time of year. I’m not a huge fan of white chocolate, so my peppermint bark is just solid chocolate. There are only 3 ingredients and it comes together in no time. I highly recommend it for a holiday party or just to nibble at home in your pajamas. peppermintbark1peppermintbark2peppermintbark3There is something so satisfying about melting chocolate and swirling it around. And the peppermint candies and marshmallows make it feel so festive! peppermintbark4peppermintbark5You can box this up all pretty, put some ribbon on it, maybe a bow, and call it a day. Boom. Hope you enjoy! Have a great weekend!

Chocolate Peppermint & Marshmallow Bark

Ingredients:

12 oz semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

20 round peppermint candies

1 cup mini marshmallows

Directions:

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Crush the peppermint candies any way you would like. I chopped mine with a sharp knife. Set aside.

3. Put chocolate chips in a large microwave-safe bowl. Heat for 30 seconds at a time and stir in between. I did 3 rounds of 30 seconds. Stir until the chocolate chips are melted and then smooth out onto the parchment paper in a thin layer.

4. Sprinkle marshmallows and crushed peppermint candy on top of melted chocolate. Place in freezer for 30 minutes. Remove from freezer, break apart by hand and enjoy!

 


In the Test Kitchen: Challah

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetWhen I was in college my best friend Jenny and I would look forward to the days when fresh challah was being sold on campus. We would each buy one and devour them throughout the day, often resulting in stomach aches, but wonderful nonetheless. I fell in love with this new bread that I had never had before. But I also thought I would never be able to replicate it in my own kitchen. I was so intimidated by it. The braiding, potential fillings (chocolate, fruit etc.) and that whole yeast thing I had yet to conquer. Honestly, I am quite jealous of people who grow up knowing these types of recipes like the back of their hand because their grandma or mother taught them from a young age. So many fears to conquer in one recipe: yeast, double rise and braiding.Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 presetI am on a mission to teach myself more, to push myself more and be more patient in the kitchen. Thus, we have notes on my testing different challah recipes and what I have learned so far.

Lessons Learned

1. Be Patient. Wait for the yeast to activate properly (when it gets foamy on top when activated with warm water). If you don’t see it bubbling or foaming, try again and check that your yeast is in date.

2. Start with a simple braid. I did many simple braids of challah before I moved onto a 6 or 8 strand one.

3. Trust the amount of time you need to knead. At first, I didn’t do it for the full time and my challah wasn’t as light and airy as it could have been. The next time around, the texture was SO much better after I adhered to the correct knead time.

4. If your “ropes” or strands of challah shorten or shrink after rolling them out, let them rest a little bit longer before you continue.

5. Check the center of your challah, especially on a big braided beauty (like pictured above) because it might brown quickly and look done, but the center will still be doughy. If it gets too brown before the challah is done baking, place a piece of tinfoil over the bread and continue to bake.

6. Don’t skip the egg wash before baking. This is what gives it the beautiful color!

The pictures of the challah above come from Smitten Kitchen’s recipe on Fig, Olive Oil and Sea Salt Challah that can be found here. Just prepare yourself that it will disappear within minutes!


Roasted Garlic Dressing + Lentil Salad

garlic dressingJust to prove that I actually do eat salads at work in between the buttery scones and chocolate….

Most of the time I just put olive oil and balsamic vinegar on my salads and call it a day. But I also see the benefit in making different salad dressings and not getting bored. This week I had a lot of leftover garlic, so I wanted to use it up before it went bad. I was also craving a healthy, crunchy and filling salad that day. garlic dressing2

Roasted Garlic Dressing + Lentil Salad

Ingredients:

For the dressing:

2 whole heads of garlic, tops cut off to expose each clove

1/2 cup + a few teaspoons of olive oil, separated

salt & pepper

juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup water

2 Tbs of apple cider vinegar

For the salad:

2 cups cooked lentils (I like to cheat and buy cooked lentils at Trader Joe’s)

1 1/2 cups raw broccoli florets, chopped

1 cup raw shredded carrots

1/3 cup roasted garlic dressing + more depending on how heavily dressed you like it

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle a teaspoon of olive oil over the cut tops of the garlic and rub it into each clove, keeping the whole head intact. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper on top and wrap each head in a piece of tinfoil, completely covering it. Place them on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, until tender. Allow to cool and pull out each clove with a fork or knife and set aside. Discard all the garlic skins.

2. In a blender put the water, 1/2 cup of olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, pinch of salt and pepper, apple cider vinegar and all of the garlic cloves. Blend until creamy. About 30 seconds- 1 minute. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

3. If you want to make the salad, toss the lentils, broccoli and carrots in a large bowl with the dressing. I like to eat this salad as is or over a bed of mixed greens with a side of grilled bread :).


Dirty Chai Latte Scones

Scones1Scones2I woke up Saturday morning and felt like I just had to bake something. But it wasn’t the type of thing where I wanted to look through cookbooks, go to the grocery store to get exactly what I needed, then return home and start baking. I just wanted to do something right away. So I went to the kitchen, opened my cabinets and realized I had spices, espresso, flour, sugar and milk. Immediately, I thought of the flavors of one of my favorite drinks, the Dirty Chai Latte. Scones3Scones4Scones5If you have never had this drink before, you are missing out! It is a Chai Tea Latte with a shot or two of espresso and it is amazinnggggggggg. So I suggest you do two things: go get a Dirty Chai Latte AND make these Dirty Chai Scones to go with it. Trust me, it is a perfect weekend plan and these scones make an excellent weekday breakfast. Scones6Scones9Scones10

Dirty Chai Scones: makes 8 big scones 

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour (you can sub 1 cup of AP flour for whole wheat flour if you desire)

1/3 cup cane sugar

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp of cinnamon

1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cubed

1 cup milk (I have used both 2% dairy milk and almond milk, both work great)

Filling:

1/2 stick butter, melted

1/2 cup cane sugar

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground cardamom

1/4 tsp nutmeg

dash of allspice

2 tsp ground instant espresso

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl mix the flour, cane sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until the butter resembles the size of peas (I use my hands to break the butter into the flour).

2. Next add the milk slowly and mix with a fork until the dough comes together. Pour the mixture onto a lightly floured work surface and knead a few times until the dough completely comes together. Flour your work surface again and flour the top of your dough. Roll out the dough to a 16 by 10 rectangle. If you are having trouble with the dough being sticky, sprinkle a little more flour on top and bottom.

3. In a small bowl mix the melted butter, cane sugar, spices and espresso. It will be a little bit chunky. Spread this mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a 1 inch border at the far end of your dough. You are going to be rolling the larger side of the dough. Tightly roll your dough towards the border and press firmly down on the border to seal the edges. Cut into two inch pieces, which should give you 8 pieces.

4. Place the scone pieces on the baking sheet, flatten out a bit with a gentle push from your fingers and sprinkle the top with a little cane sugar. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the tops are lightly golden brown. Let cool on a wire wrack on the baking sheet. Enjoy warm. Scones keep refrigerated for a few days in the fridge and are good if they are reheated in the microwave for 30-45 seconds.