Sep 26

sunken grape cupcakes

Pssst! Hey you. Yeah, that’s right, you.

Let’s grab some grapes and plop them into cake batter and cook it up real good without thinking twice about it, or wondering if we should be using chocolate chips instead, or having to get up, put pants on and walk outside to buy a whole new batch of grapes because we absentmindedly ate the first batch while switching back and forth between writing out this recipe and watching a video of a cat and a baby gibbon being cute together.

The gibbon’s hands! They’re so much cuter than my own hands!

But can she use her hands to make Sunken Grape Cupcakes?

Oh right, yeah, she probably can.

 

Sunken Grape Cupcakes
Recipe adapted from Culinate Kitchen
Makes 12 cupcakes
Printable recipe

Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup vegan butter substitute (I used Earth Balance), softened
  • 3/4 cup vegan refined sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup red seedless grapes, halved
  • 1/2 cup vegan confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon almond milk
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

In a medium bowl, mix together the vegan butter and refined sugar on low-medium speed.

 

Add in the applesauce, lemon zest and vanilla extract.

 

Mix until fully combined.

 

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and baking soda.

 

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing on low-medium speed until all ingredients are combined.

 

Stir in the lemon juice.

 

Spoon the batter into a cupcake tin.

 

Gently press 2-3 grape halves into each cupcake.

 

Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning once during baking.

 

Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before adding the glaze.

 

To make the glaze, stir together the powdered sugar and almond milk.

 

Drizzle the glaze over the tops of the cupcakes.

 

Sep 19

dried apple stack cake with molasses cream cheese frosting

This cake takes 24 hours to make.

Wait! Come back!

It’s not as terrible as it seems. Hear me out.

Most of those 24 hours are spent patiently waiting for the cake to work some cake magic while you watch football or knit a sweater or try to stretch out on the couch with your laptop for 5 seconds before this is all you can see up in your face

The most difficult part is the waiting. But it’s so worth it.

First, you’ll make seven little cakes. If you have a normal size oven and not a Brooklyn apartment oven, you can probably do this about 20 minutes faster than I did.

There will be a moment when you think you’ve screwed it all up because the little cake babies that you’ve made are kind of hard. You’ll get upset. You’ll question your mad baking skillz. Then you’ll scroll on down and read the part where I say that’s okay and that we want the cakes to be strangely hard. Then you’ll perk up and go back to humming that stupid song that just will not go away no matter where you turn. “I feel like I am just too close to love you…”

You’ll pour some water and dried apples in a pot and you’ll cook them up. Then you’ll spread the apples between each layer of cake. You’ll cover the sweet mountain of dessert and go about your business until the following day, when you’ll uncover your masterpiece, pour some molasses-filled frosting over top of the entire thing and then take a bow to the thunder of applause coming from your grateful, loyal admirers.

Unless they’re too busy trying on your flip flops, in which case you’ll have to settle for patting your own self on the back.

Go ahead. You deserve it.

Dried Apple Stack Cake with Molasses Cream Cheese Frosting
Cake recipe adapted from Project Foodie
Serves approximately 16
Printable recipe

Since we’re dealing with a true monster of deliciousness here, I’ve separated the ingredients into three categories.

Cake ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup plain almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more to prepare the cake pans
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup vegan butter substitute, softened, plus more to prepare the cake pans (I used Earth Balance)
  • 2 1/2 cups vegan brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce OR maple cinnamon applesauce for an extra bit of flavor
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Apple filling ingredients:

  • 1 pound dried apples (I used Trader Joe’s New Zealand Sweet Apple Rings)
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 cups vegan brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Pinch of sea salt

Frosting ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup vegan cream cheese substitute, softened (I used Tofutti)
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter substitute, softened (I used Earth Balance)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 3 cups vegan confectioners’ sugar

Cake directions:
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Prepare 7 nine-inch round cake pans by coating them with a thin layer of vegan butter and a sprinkle of flour. You can also substitute disposable pie tins for cake pans.
Pour the almond milk and vinegar into a small cup or bowl and set aside.


In a large bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, sea salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.


In a separate bowl, mix together the vegan butter and brown sugar on low-medium speed.


Add in the applesauce and vanilla extract, and continue to mix.

Stir in the “buttermilk” (vinegar and almond milk).


Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing on low-medium speed until fully combined. The batter will be thick, so switch to stirring it all together with a spoon if your mixer is having a hard time.
Divide the batter evenly among all 7 cake pans, using just under a cup of batter for each pan.
Use your hands to spread out the batter so that it’s evenly distributed.


Bake the cakes for 6-8 minutes each, or until a golden crust begins to form. Remove the cakes from the oven the second they start to look done. When in doubt, take them out and test with a toothpick. If the toothpick can be inserted and removed cleanly, it’s done. The cakes will be a little stiff. This is okay and, although it might seem odd, this is what we’re going for.


Allow each cake to cool for at least five minutes before removing it from the pan. Use a spoon to loosen the edges from the pan and then turn the pan over to remove the cake. If the cake breaks, don’t worry. You’re going to cover it all up anyway, so just piece it back together during the layering stage.

While the cakes are cooling, make the apple filling.

Apple filling directions:
Place the dried applies in a food processor and chop them into bits. You can also use a knife for this step, coarsely chopping the apples into bite-size pieces.


Pour the water into a large saucepan and bring to a boil.

As soon as the water begins to boil, add the apples and reduce the heat to medium.

Cook uncovered for 20-30 minutes, stirring frequently, until the water has been absorbed.

Add in the brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and sea salt.


Continue to cook for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

Place one cake layer on a cake board, pan, cake stand, etc and spread 3/4 cup of the hot apple filling over the cake.
Place another cake layer on top, and continue until all of the cakes have been used.


Spread the remaining apple filling on top of the cake.


Cover and wrap the cake with plastic wrap, or use a cover if you have one, and let the cake sit for 24 hours.


When you’re ready to serve the cake, make the frosting by mixing together the vegan cream cheese, vegan butter, vanilla extract, molasses and confectioners’ sugar until fully combined.


Pour the frosting over top of the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides.

As you dig in, you’ll notice that all of those stiff cake layers have transformed overnight and are now soft.

So worth it.

Sep 13

maple cinnamon applesauce

I never really thought of myself as someone who makes her own applesauce. I’ve made a condiment or two in the past, but applesauce just seemed so daunting. I mean you have all these apples and you want me to like mash them up or something? What?

There’s actually no mashing involved. Okay maybe a little at the end, but it’s really more like mushing than mashing.

Kitteh mush mash

I started thinking about how much applesauce I use. Almost every single time I make a cake, I’m using applesauce as the egg substitute. And with the fall season peeking its head around the corner, it would be nice to have some specially flavored applesauce to spice up fall cakes, breads and muffins. Think maple…think cinnamon…think about sharing some of it with me…

I say this recipe is adapted from Eating Well but really, I didn’t change much. I just increased the water and cinnamon, and chose Honey Crisp apples instead of Golden Delicious.

Just peel some apples and throw them in a pot for a bit. That’s pretty much it. You’ll be shoveling spoonful after spoonful of applesauce in your mouth faster than you can say “who’s going to win Big Brother this year? Oh, you don’t watch Big Brother? Why are we friends?”

 

Maple Cinnamon Applesauce
Recipe adapted from Eating Well
Makes 3-4 cups of applesauce
Printable recipe

Ingredients:

  • 6 McIntosh apples, peeled and sliced into 1″ pieces
  • 2 Honey Crisp apples, peeled and sliced into 1″ pieces
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

 

To make the applesauce, start by placing the sliced apples and the water in a large saucepan and bringing it all to a boil.

As soon as the water begins to boil, reduce to a slow simmer and cover the saucepan.

Allow the apples to simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so.

You’ll know they’re done when all of the apples have turned into a soft clumps.


Remove from the heat and stir in the cinnamon and maple syrup.


Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.


If you are freezing the applesauce, Eating Well recommends using it within 6 months.

Sep 12

wednesday notes

Yo ho ho, mateys! I just wanted to reach out into the interwebs to tell you that my friend-4-life Tiffany published a beautiful post today titled “Musings on Gratitude” and I recommend it to everyone. It’s inspiring and it reminds me just how lucky I am.

Also I’m here to wish my Moose a Happy Anniversary!

Today is our third anniversary and as a gift to my husband, I made my aunt Pam’s incredible peanut butter pie recipe and shoved it into little mini cupcake holders. Then, in an attempt to be cute, I wrote “Happy Hat Trickiversary!” on them because a hat trick in hockey is when you score three goals. It’s been three years. Three goals. Get it?

Well, my plan kind of flopped because I had a hard time lining up all of the little pies to spell “trickiversary” so when I gave him a photo of the pies (I wanted to give him the photo first so he’d jump up and down and say, “thank you now please give me those pies!”), there he stood, slowly mumbling, “Happy Hat Tricki…Trickiver…sary?” I had to explain it to him and even after I did, he still seemed a little confused. And then he thought that the gift was the PHOTO and that I had actually made them and ate them without him. He was all like, “Thanks for this photo!” Dude. Come on! I mean I know I eat a lot of desserts but am I really that much of a sweets monster that I would only give him an image of some awesome pies that I made and ate all by myself?

He said that the pies tasted amazing so at least that went well.

Sep 07

coffee date pancakes with chocolate date butter

You guys. How cute is this cookbook?Over 1,200 kids from across the US submitted recipes for The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge Cookbook contest and the winners were chosen via a taste test with a bunch of fancy pants adult judges, including White House Assistant Chef Sam Kass. There were 54 winners from ages 8-12, one representing each state, three territories and Washington DC, and the cookbook is organized by location. It’s so awesomely cute!

And do you know what else is cute? First Lady Michelle Obama invited all of the winning kid chefs and their parents to the White House a couple of weeks ago for a Kids State Dinner where they all munched on their own healthy creations and got to meet President Obama. Let’s take a moment and imagine ourselves at 8 years old, sitting at a table and eating a recipe we invented while the President tells us how wonderful we are. You could go back to school for the fall and be like oh, you went to summer camp? Well I went to the White House and watched our President chow down on my quinoa wrap! It doesn’t matter which way you lean politically. Getting kids excited not only about eating healthy, but creating their own meals, is awesome.

image of super cute cuteness from Epicurious.com

Want to put a smile on your face? Click here for the photo slideshow showing the kids being interviewed by reporters and doing other super cute things that I’d be pumped to do now at age *insert sneezing sound to muffle my age*

image of the pretty plating from Epicurious.com

Oh oh oh! And the cutest part of all? It’s free for everyone to download and use for eternity.

Let’s Move on to panckes! Haha – get it? Let’s Move? Anyway…

These pancakes are so delicious. I don’t know why I never thought to put dates in pancakes before, since I love them so very much. When I was little I’d watch my mom eat dates and think about how totally disgusting they were and that they must taste like cockroaches. But they don’t. I promise. They taste like chewy candy from Mother Nature. And when you put them in pancakes with coffee and then stir them into some vegan butter with cocoa powder…I mean…I don’t know…I just can’t imagine my life without them now.

Coffee Date Pancakes with Chocolate Date Butter
Pancake recipe adapted from A Cozy Kitchen
Makes 7-8 small pancakes
Butter recipe makes 6-8 servings
Printable recipe

Pancake Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vegan refined sugar
  • 1/2 banana, mashed
  • 1 cup vanilla coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon ground coffee
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • 1-3 tablespoons vegan butter (for the skillet)
  • maple syrup for serving (optional)

Chocolate Date Butter ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup vegan butter substitute (I used Earth Balance)
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped dates

 

To make the butter, place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until combined.

Spoon onto plastic wrap and roll the butter into the shape of a tube.

Refrigerate to harden, at least 30 minutes.

To make the pancakes, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, stir together the mashed banana, coconut milk and ground coffee.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir.

Separate the dates with your fingers and drop them in the batter, being careful not to drop them as one giant wad of date bits.

Fold in the chopped dates.

Heat your griddle or cast iron skillet (I used a skillet on low-medium heat) and drop in a tablespoon of vegan butter. Use a 1/4 measuring cup to scoop the batter and drop it onto the griddle/skillet.

Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. When the batter begins to bubble, flip the pancakes. If the pancakes bubble sooner than 2 minutes, turn down the heat.

Remove the Chocolate Date Butter from the refrigerator and unwrap it. Slice the butter and drop a dollop or two on top of the pancakes.

Dig right in or top with maple syrup for an extra bit of awesomeness.


Sep 03

tomato cucumber couscous salad

Moose and I spent this last unofficial weekend of summer with family in Erie, PA.

There were ferris wheels

and french fries.

There were cool breezes and warm sand.

I’ll hold off on wishing summer an official goodbye since we’re still looking at temperatures in the 80s all this week for NYC.

And honestly, as much as I love breathing in crisp night air and eating pumpkin pie with every meal, I can never get enough summer tomatoes, so I’m all about making this summer last just a little bit longer.

My coworker gifted me a couple of beautiful cucumbers recently and I wasted no time adding one of them to this couscous dish (while munching on the other the way Bugs Bunny would devour a carrot).

Let’s slice some tomatoes, share some couscous and cross our fingers that when fall finally does roll around, it brings with it a full NHL season without a lockout. I mean, football is great and all, but I want my hockey!

 

Tomato Cucumber Couscous Salad
Recipe adapted from Food Network Kitchens
Serves 2-3
Printable recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • juice from 1/2 of a lemon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 3/4 cup dry couscous
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 large strip of lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 1 scallion, chopped

In a medium bowl, toss together the cherry tomatoes, cucumber, lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of sea salt. You can peel the cucumber if you prefer, but I left the peel on mine.

Set aside.

Separate the mint and parsley leaves from the stems. Peel one large strip of lemon zest from the lemon that you used for juice.

Pour the dry couscous in a bowl and set aside.

In a small pot, bring the water, mint and parsley stems, lemon zest, olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt and the cayenne to a boil.

As soon as the water begins to boil, remove from the heat and pour over the couscous.

Cover the couscous and let sit for 5 minutes.

Uncover the couscous and remove the stems and lemon zest.

Fluff the couscous with a fork and stir in the mint and parsley leaves and the chopped scallion.

Stir in the tomato mixture and serve immediately.