Banana Nectarine Bread (GF)

nectarine banana bread First off, I want to apologize for such a poor quality photo – office lighting doesn’t make anything look particularly great. This yummy recipe suitable for breakfast or as a dessert was pulled from Vegetarian Times Magazine. I was super happy to stumble upon this recipe since Sprouts had a sale on nectarines for $.48/lb – I couldn’t pass up that deal. Plus, it’s summer! Nectarines are delicious by themselves or in an icy pitcher of Sangria. Okay, I need to remember it’s only Wednesday – not even close to it being appropriate to jump into weekend mode.

To be quite honest, my baking skills are sub-par and I did not expect this to come out as well as it did. The whole loaf was gone within 2 days. I also feel the need to point out that I was not the only person who inhaled this within that time – I had a little help. :)

Banana Nectarine Bread (GF)
Recipe makes 1 loaf or 8 slices

the ingredients:

  • 1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 large banana, mashed
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 3 large nectarines, peeled and pitted, 2 cut into ½-inch dice, 1 cut into 8 wedges each

the method:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 1-qt. loaf pan with cooking spray.

2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Beat egg in separate bowl, then whisk in milk, followed by bananas and melted butter. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture until just combined. Fold in diced nectarines.

3. Pour batter into the loaf pan. Arrange nectarine wedges in row, smooth side up, down center of each loaf. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Chocolate Frosted Cupcakes with Raspberries (GF)

cupcakeI’m not really a “sweets” person. I’ve always considered myself to be more of a “salt tooth” but when you throw raspberries into the mix, I’m game. I made these just to see what gluten-free cupcakes taste like. Man, am I glad I took a stab at this recipe – they are absolutely delicious!

Chocolate Frosted Cupcakes with Raspberries (GF)

The ingredients:

For cupcakes:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1½ cups gluten-free all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Raspberries to garnish

For the frosting:

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3-1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar

The method:

For the cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard muffin tin with paper cupcake liners
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixer, preferably fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy – about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl and whisk. Combine milk and vanilla in a separate bowl.
  4. With the mixer on low, add half the flour mixture to the butter, then the milk mixture and finally the rest of the flour.
  5. Divide the batter into the prepared muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes or until they feel springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool 5 minutes in the pan then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling. While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting.

For the frosting:

  1. In a large saucepan, combine the coconut oil, butter, and chocolate chips. Melt over low heat until smooth, stirring frequently, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat and beat in the cocoa powder and salt.Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the heavy cream, sour cream, and vanilla; whisk to combine.
  4. Alternately add the powdered sugar and cream mixture to the melted chocolate mixture, beating well after each addition.
  5. Spread frosting on cooled cupcakes and top with raspberries.

My Favorite Weekday Breakfast (GF)

morning glory muffin

Morning Glory Muffins (GF)

The ingredients

  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup evaporated cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup natural brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/2 cup potato starch
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • 1/2 cup seedless raisins
  • 1/4 cup toasted coconut flakes
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 tart red apple, unpeeled, cored, and finely chopped

The method

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Put oil, cane sugar, brown sugar, vanilla and eggs into a large bowl and whisk by hand for about 1 minute to incorporate air into the mixture. Set aside.
  3. Put flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, baking soda, cinnamon, xanthan gum, and salt into a second large bowl and stir well. Add flour mixture, carrots, zucchini, walnuts, raisins, coconut, orange zest, and apples to the reserved sugar mixture and stir well to form a batter. Scoop batter into 12 paper-lined muffin tins and bake until cooked through, about 25 minutes.

green smoothie

Green Goddess Smoothie

The ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup organic apple juice
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 cup kale leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped strawberries
  • 1/4 cup frozen mango
  • 1/4 cup frozen pineapple

The method:

  1. Combine ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pop in a straw and enjoy!

Whole-Grain Artisan Loaf

Sometimes, the best way to spend a weekend is by doing absolutely nothing. Okay, so maybe we did go to the Diamondbacks and Giants game but the other two days were pleasantly lazy – especially Sunday. One of my favorite and most relaxing things to do is to make bread. There really is nothing better than that fresh bread smell blanketing every room and that first bite into crusty goodness J.

One of my new favorite snacks is a slice of homemade wheat bread, toasted with a dollop of ricotta and a smear of agave nectar/apple butter. YUM.

Other than running errands and pretending to watch football with the boy, this is what my Sunday amounted to.  Recipe below:

Whole-Grain Artisan Loaf:

The Ingredients:

  • 5 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp (2 packets) granulated yeast
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 4 cups lukewarm water

The Method:

1. Use dry-ingredient measuring cups (avoid 2 cup measures, which compress the flour) to gently scoop up flour, then sweep the top level with a knife or spatula. Whisk together the flours, yeast, salt and vital wheat gluten in a 5-quart bowl, or, preferably, in a resealable, lidded (not airtight) plastic food container or food-grade bucket. Lidded (or even vented) plastic buckets designed for dough storage are readily available.

2. Heat the water to slightly warmer than body temperature (about 100 degrees Fahrenheit). Add to the dry ingredients and mix without kneading, using a spoon, food processor (with dough attachment), or heavy-duty stand mixer (with paddle). You may need to get your hands wet to get the flour to incorporate if you’re not using a machine. Don’t knead! It isn’t necessary.

You’re finished when everything is uniformly moist, without dry patches. This step is done in a matter of minutes, and yields a wet dough that remains loose enough to conform to the shape of its container.

3. Cover with a lid (not airtight) or cover loosely with plastic wrap. Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse (or at least flatten on top), which will take about 2 hours. Longer rising times — even overnight — will not change the result. Fully refrigerated wet dough is less sticky and is easier to work with than dough at room temperature. So, the first time you try our method, it’s best to refrigerate the dough overnight (or at least 3 hours) before shaping a loaf.

After it’s been refrigerated, the dough will seem to have shrunk back upon itself. It will never rise again in the bucket, which is normal for our dough. Whatever you do, do not punch down this dough! With our method, you’re trying to retain as much gas in the dough as possible, and punching it down knocks gas out and will make your loaves denser.

On Baking Day

4. First, prepare a pizza peel by sprinkling it liberally with cornmeal (or lining it with parchment paper or a silicone mat) to prevent your loaf from sticking to it when you slide it into the oven. Dust the surface of your refrigerated dough with flour. Pull up and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece of dough, using a serrated knife or kitchen shears. Hold the mass of dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed so it won’t stick to your hands. Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating a quarter-turn as you go to form a ball. Most of the dusting flour will fall off; it’s not intended to be incorporated into the dough. The bottom of the ball may appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but it will flatten out during resting and baking. The correctly shaped final product will be smooth and cohesive. The entire process should take no more than 20 to 40 seconds. If you work the dough longer than this, it may make your loaf too dense.

5. Stretch the ball gently to elongate it, and taper the ends by rolling them between your palms and pinching them.

6. Allow the loaf to rest — covered loosely with plastic wrap — on the pizza peel for 90 minutes (40 minutes if you’re using fresh, unrefrigerated dough).

Alternatively, you can allow the loaf to rest on a silicone mat or greased cookie sheet. Depending on the age of the dough, you may not see much rise during this period. More rising will occur during baking.

7. Thirty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450 degrees, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray for holding water on any other rack that won’t interfere with the rising bread.

8. Just before baking, use a pastry brush to paint the top of the loaf with a little water. Sprinkle with the seed and nut mixture. Slash the loaf with quarter-inch-deep parallel cuts across the top, using a serrated bread knife.

9. After a 30-minute preheat, you’re ready to bake. With a quick forward jerking motion of the wrist, slide the loaf off the pizza peel and onto the preheated baking stone. If you used parchment paper instead of cornmeal, it will slide onto the stone with the loaf. If you used a silicone mat or cookie sheet, just place it on the stone. Quickly but carefully pour about a cup of hot water into the broiler tray and close the door to trap the steam. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is richly browned and firm to the touch (smaller or larger loaves will require adjustments in resting and baking time).

If you used parchment paper, a silicone mat, or a cookie sheet under the loaf, carefully remove it and bake the loaf directly on the stone or an oven rack when the loaf is about two-thirds of the way through baking.When you remove the loaf from the oven, it may audibly crackle, or “sing,” when initially exposed to room-temperature air. Allow the bread to cool completely, preferably on a wire cooling rack. The perfect crust may initially soften, but will firm up again when cooled.

10. Store the remaining dough in your container in the refrigerator and use it over the next couple of weeks. You’ll find that even one day’s storage im¬proves the flavor and texture of your bread. The dough ferments and takes on sourdough characteristics. When your bucket is empty, don’t wash it! Mix another batch in the same container. The aged dough stuck to the sides will give you a head start on sourdough flavor. To take it even further, incorporate up to 2 cups of your old dough.

 

No-Rise Pizza Dough

Back from the madness of an overwhelmingly unproductive 3-day weekend, last night’s dinner wasn’t too creative. I have, however, adapted a new mantra so I can keep tabs on myself and posting: No Excuses. Blog like a champion.

So I made my favorite kind of pizza, my Smoked Mozzarella , Radicchio and Onion Jam pizza. I posted about this pizza before – you can see the recipe here. Since I’ve been a bad blogger, the last thing I wanted to do was repeat a recipe – which I promise I’m not going to do here.

Have you ever craved pizza but didn’t want to settle on generic delivery? Have you ever craved pizza so much that you were even willing to drive to the grocery store only to realize you have no gas? Okay, maybe some of those scenarios haven’t happened to everyone; what I’m trying to get across here is that I have a recipe for thin pizza crust WITHOUT RISING TIME.

Yep, you heard me… NO RISING TIME. That’s like, instant fresh pizza – and literally dinner in MINUTES. And I’ve decided to share it with my beautiful blogging community so everyone can have fresh pizza whenever they want.

No excuses. Eat pizza like a champion.

The Ingredients: 

Makes 2 pizzas

  • 3/4 cups (6 ounces) of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of active-dry yeast (if using instant yeast, you don’t need to dissolve it during the first step)
  • 2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt

The Method: 

  1. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, heat the water until it feels barely lukewarm when you test it with your finger (if the water is so hot that you can’t leave your finger in it, wait for it to cool down). Add the yeast to the water and use a fork or whisk to stir it into the water. Set this aside for a few minutes and allow the yeast to dissolve. It’s ok if the yeast doesn’t bubble, but it should be entirely dissolved and the mixture should look like thin miso soup.
  2. Measure out the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the salt and use your hand or a whisk to combine.
  3. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the water-yeast mixture. Use your fingers or a wooden spoon to combine everything together.
  4. When it comes together into a cohesive ball, turn it out onto the counter along with any extra flour in the bowl that hasn’t yet gotten worked in.
  5. Knead the dough until all the flour is incorporated and the dough is smooth and elastic to the touch–about five minutes.The dough should still feel moist and slightly tacky. If it’s sticking to your hands and counter-top like bubble gum, work in more flour one tablespoon at a time until it’s smooth and silky.
  6. Use a bench scraper to divide the dough in two.
  7. Shaping the Dough:
  8. Tear off two pieces of parchment paper roughly 12-inches wide. Work one piece of the dough in your hands and form it into a large disk. Lay the disk of dough on the parchment paper.
  9. Working from the middle of the dough outwards, use the heel of your hand to gently press the dough outward until it’s about 1/4 of an inch thick or less. You can also use a rolling pin for this part. We like to make free form pies, but if you’d like a circular pie, you can trace a large circle on the back of the parchment to use as a guide.
  10. Repeat with the second piece of dough.
  11. Note: The dough will stick to the parchment paper, making it easier for you to roll out. You’ll bake the pizza right on the parchment paper. As it cooks, the dough will release from the parchment, and you can slide the paper out before serving.

Then just decorate the pizzas with whatever you want. I prefer to broil the pizzas which only takes about 5 minutes each… Seriously, if you decide to broil them, check on them every minute. It only takes 30 seconds for something to go from perfectly broiled to a charred brick. Bon appetit!

Broccoli Gruyere Pasta Bake

 

I decided to forgo the gym yesterday – the weather was just so rainy that it just felt better snuggled up on the couch next to my pup Eleanor and watching the SVU Marathon that is on constant record.  I know what you’re thinking… I live in AZ – the desert – how much rain could you possibly get? Well, it wasn’t so much the rain that prevented me from journeying to LA Fitness, it was the intense dust storm and powerful winds that prevented me from even opening my front door. Basically, the weather held me hostage, which I was okay with.

So I busted out my emergency bottle of red wine and indulged in this pasta dish:

 

Broccoli Gruyere Pasta Bake

The ingredients:

  • 1 lb penne or any pasta
  • 1 red onion , roughly chopped
  • 1 lb head broccoli , stalks chopped and florets halved
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 1 tsp French or German mustard
  • 1 cup pot half fat crème fraîche
  • 1/2 c grated mature Gruyère or cheddar
  • small handful parsley leaves, chopped
  • 4 tbsp fresh white breadcrumbs (or put 1 slice crustless white bread through a food processor)
  • 1/2 tsp dried mixed herbs or thyme
  • Parmesan, optional

The method:

  1. Boil the pasta, onion and broccoli stalks in plenty of lightly salted boiling water for about 7 mins, then add the florets and cook for another 3 mins. Reserve about 1 1/2 cup of the water, then drain the pasta and vegetables.
  2. Return the reserved water to the pan and dissolve the stock cube, whisk in the mustard and crème fraîche, then season to taste. Bring to the boil. Stir in the drained pasta, vegetables and half the cheese, mixing until melted. Stir in the parsley.
  3. Heat the broiler for 3 mins. Tip the pasta and vegetables into a shallow, ovenproof dish. Mix together the remaining cheese, breadcrumbs and herbs, then scatter on top.
  4. Broil for 3-5 minutes, turning if it starts to brown. Keep watching so the top doesn’t start to burn or the cheese will toughen. Remove and leave to stand for 5 mins before serving.

Mustard Crusted Tofu

I do enjoy a lazy Sunday- make that lazy weekend. It’s true, this morning’s alarm clock brutally awoke me from a weekend of sheer nothing-ness only to catapult me back to the typical 9 to 5 (I actually work 8 to 5, but let’s not be that specific) lifestyle. Now on to the fun stuff: the food.

Nick was in Tucson all weekend visiting some friends and playing golf – so I had the weekend all to myself. I spent the weekend lunching with the family (I’ll be posting about my favorite veggie burger later this week), going to the gym like an all-star and finally – cooking! Well to be honest, the only time I went all out in the kitchen was after Nick got back. What can I say?  I rule at being a girlfriend.

I had been waiting to try this Mustard Crusted Tofu recipe for quite some time – something about the crunch and that lovely Dijon flavor just sounded fabulous. I had also stumbled upon the same exact recipe for salmon, so I figured it was worth a shot for the two of us. Nick loves salmon… which makes sense since he is a hungry bear boyfriend.

Any who, whether you make the tofu or the salmon, it’s a very simple and versatile dish – I don’t think there is side dish out there that would pair with this nicely. I just made my usual sautéed greens and some Lemon-Herb Rice (check back later in the week for this recipe). Bon appetit!

Mustard Crusted Tofu:

The Ingredients:

  • 1 14-ounce package extra firm tofu
  • 5 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  •  panko bread crumbs
  • 4 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

The Method:

  1. Wrap the block of tofu in a clean towel, place the tofu in a colander and place the colander in the sink. Place a plate, heavy can or other weight over the towel-covered tofu and leave the weight to press the tofu for 30 minutes. Refer to my Tofu tutorial if needed.
  2. Remove the tofu from the towel. Cut the tofu crosswise into 4 slices and then cut each slice diagonally so you have 8 triangles. Set aside.
  3. Put the broiler on. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray.
  4. Place the Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar and honey into a food processor. Process until smooth. Pour the Dijon mixture into a shallow plate or baking dish.
  5. Place the bread crumbs, panko, salt and pepper together on a separate plate.
  6. Dip each pressed tofu slice (or salmon) into the mustard mixture, coating well on both sides. Then place the tofu in the bread crumbs, taking care to make sure the tofu is well coated. Place on the baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes per side, or until the tofu is crispy and golden on both sides.*

*It just so happened that the salmon and the tofu needed to cook for the same amount of time. Gotta love that!