Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Mighty Bars

Okay, I officially suck at blogging.  It's been close to two years since I last did a blog post. I'm in desperate need of a blog redo, it looks pretty bad right now so don't judge.

Since my last post, I've gotten pregnant, given birth to a cute little girl, and been taking care of her during the day while I also work part-time from home. Needless to say, I've been BUSY. And a lot has changed, but I can fill you in later. Plus, I'll admit, I'm a bit lazy. Blogging is a lot of work!  

Anyways, I finally got around to trying out a new recipe, which I haven't done in, I dunno, well over a year. Honestly, the last thing I want to do at night these days is cook. I'm so exhausted at the end of the day that I'd rather order take out or pop some frozen ravioli in a pot and call it dinner. Apparently this is what life as a mother is like. Unless you're super mom and can do it all, which I am not.

So I came up with this recipe last weekend while baby girl was taking a nap. I had tried Cafe Gratitude's Mighty Bars at a friend's event in Orange County and I fell in LOVE. I wanted to make my own version at home that didn't cost an arm and a leg, because let's be honest, children not only steal all you're energy, but they steal all your money too. And I'm broke these days. Here's my version of these bars. You guys, they are SO GOOD.

They might not have exactly the same ingredients as the real thing, but who cares, right? They're delicious, and good for you. A perfect pick-me-up in the afternoon or as a post-workout snack. I made half of them as bars, and half of them as delicious little chocolate covered balls with sea salt on top. You can do either or both. And feel free to change up the ingredients and throw in what you want.

1/2 cup dates, pitted and soaked in hot water for 15 minutes
1/2 cup goji berries, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes
2 tablespoons almond butter
1 tablespoon ground flax
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pepitas
1/2 cup hazelnuts

Throw all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until it starts to come together. You can test it out by squeezing a small ball in your hands, it should hold together a bit and not fall apart. Place in a 8 x 8 baking sheet lined with parchment paper and smooth it out as evenly as possible. Melt the dark chocolate bar and poor on top, topping with a bit of sea salt if you wish. Trust me, you wish. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes or the freezer for 15, or until the chocolate is set. Cut as you wish and store in the fridge!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Rosemary Olive Oil Crackers (GF)

I started making these crackers after coming across this recipe for vegan gluten-free crackers. So many crackers in stores nowadays are full of enriched flour and ingredients that I can't pronounce, so I wanted to make my own. I like knowing what I'm putting into my body.

 I adapted this recipe according to what I had at home. They're a huge hit here, I make them every week or two and keep them in an airtight container.

Feel free to get creative with them. You can sprinkle garlic granules or onion powder for extra flavor. Personally, I like the rosemary-olive oil combination best.


1 1/4 cup gf oat flour
3 tablespoons ground chia seeds (measured after grinding)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
1/4 cup filtered water

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

In a bowl combine all the ingredients. Mix well and let sit for a minute or two. It will appear to be too wet but as it sits the ground chia seeds will start to absorb the liquid. Remove from bowl and knead until it forms a nice dough.

Split the dough in two even rounds and roll each one out between to pieces of parchment paper. You want the dough to be very thin, like a cracker, but not so thin that it would rip. Cut the dough into any shape you want, I've done squares, rectangles, diamonds, and circles (with a small biscuit cutter). Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet making sure to leave about a centimeter of space between each one. You may have to bake in two rounds if you can't fit them all on one sheet.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly golden, making sure to check half way through. Sprinkle with sea salt once you remove from the oven and enjoy!

Copycat Levain Cookies

I went to New York last summer and stopped by Levain Bakery after a friend told me I had to try their cookies.

Since then, I've been completely obsessed with trying to recreate the recipe at home. I tried a ton of recipes, read a ton of blogs/forums/discussions regarding the potential 'secret ingredients' in these delicious cookies. I tried letting the dough rest 36 hours, I tried adding cornstarch to the dough, I tried all different baking temperatures, and I even tried adding powdered sugar instead of granulated sugar. I could never quite get the recipe right, somethings was always off.

Until now.

I think I have discovered a way to recreate the Levain Bakery chocolate chip cookie at home. It came to me out of no where after I was reading a forum about the bakery. Someone mentioned that they thought Levain Bakery used super hot bread baking ovens to get their cookies to crisp up so perfectly. So I thought to myself, okay, I'll try to mimic the ovens by preheating a baking sheet in the oven and throwing some ice cubes on it after putting the cookies in the oven.

I had attempted this cookie recipe several times and given the batches to my husband to take to work. His coworkers would always ask him when I was going to make my "scone cookies" again. I didn't think anything of it at first-maybe it's their shape?

Then it hit me. Why am I not making these using a scone baking technique?! I mean, it makes perfect sense. The Levain cookies are buttery and fluffy, yet perfectly crisp on the outside. Unlike any cookie I've ever had before… EXACTLY. So I decided to cut in the butter rather than beat it until it's fluffy, like all the other chocolate chip cookie recipes out there.

BINGO. This created the fluffy cookie texture that I wanted. Also, after much trial and error, I decided on a combination of bread flour and cake flour for the cookies, rather than all-purpose flour. Combined with under-baking and the high oven temp/ice cubes, I was able to create the BEST copycat cookie recipe (I think) so far. Give it a try and be sure to tell me what you think.

 Personally, I don't add walnuts to the cookies because I don't like walnuts, but feel free to add them.

I also made mine half the size of the real Levain cookies, but you can do whatever you want. The recipe below calls for the normal size, but feel free to make them half that size and cut the baking time down to about 10 minutes


 2 cups cake flour
1 1/4 cups bread flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 sticks COLD unsalted butter, cubed
2 eggs (cold)
1 tsp vanilla
1- 1 1/2 cups good quality chocolate chips
3/4 cup toasted walnuts (optional)

 In a bowl whisk together eggs and vanilla and set aside. In a separate bowl sift together first 7 ingredients (dry ingredients). Cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles crumbles. Pour in the egg mixture and mix until just incorporated. Carefully add in chocolate chips and incorporate. Do not over mix, you want them to be rough and scone-like.

Put the dough in the fridge while preheating the oven.

Set oven at 425 degrees and place a baking pan on the bottom rack to heat up (for the ice cubes). When the oven has reached 425 degrees, remove the dough from the refrigerator and scoop the dough into baseball sized mounds. (Yes, I said baseball sized. If you have never had these cookies, they are MASSIVE). You want it to look rough, not smooth like a ball.

Place the dough mounds on a greased baking sheet and slightly push down. Place on the center rack of the oven. Add 3 ice cubes to the empty baking pan in the oven and close the oven door immediately. This creates steam to give the cookies that wonderful crispy outer layer.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, depending on your oven, and watch closely. Ideally you want them to have a light golden color, but also appear to be under baked.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Weekly Menu

I decided to start posting my dinner menus for each week. I usually write each meal down on our chalkboard and let my husband choose which one he wants for dinner. It leaves room for about as much spontaneity as possible with meal planning. Here's our menu from last week!
I feel that it's important to have a good mixture of meals. Some vegetarian, some vegan, some paleo, and some that are just flat out fattening and indulgent. We love to have 'app night' about once every two weeks. If it weren't for the fact that I'm trying to stay away from cheese, I would have it every night. Cheese is my weakness. Along with fries… and burgers… and bread…

Peanut Butter-Banana Green Smoothie

This smoothie is so incredibly easy and so delicious. The peanut butter flavor over powers all of the veggie flavor, and it's super creamy and sweet from the bananas and dates. I love to have this smoothie for breakfast, or even as a post-workout meal. It holds you over for hours.

I use an organic, non-GMO powered peanut butter because it's lower in fat and calories spoonful for spoonful than regular peanut butter, but you can use any type of nut butter you like. The great thing about this smoothie is that it's super versatile, you can throw in pretty much any veggies you like, given that the flavor is not too over-powering. Some great add-in's are kale, spinach, avocado, zucchini, or any mild tasting vegetable or fruit. However, using banana is key in this recipe as it allows for the smoothie to be creamy.

Ingredients: 1 serving

1 chopped frozen banana
1 date (optional)
1 cup almond milk
1 cup spinach
1/2 cup chopped zucchini
1 tablespoon peanut butter powder (or regular peanut butter)
sweetener to taste (stevia, honey, maple syrup, agave, etc)

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend on high until smooth and creamy.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Cauliflower Crust Pizza Revisited

I posted a cauliflower crust pizza recipe last year, but since then I'm come to perfect my recipe. With the addition of coconut flour instead of almond flour, I've discovered that the pizza gets much more sturdy after baking. I also added some mozzarella cheese in with the cauliflower 'dough' to help hold it together and give it a bit more crunch. This one definitely holds up, no silverware needed!
Give it a try!

Due to the fact that my husband gets home so late from work, I only have horrible lighting to work with. Hopefully I'll be able to take better photos soon!

Ingredients: Serves 2 people (you can easily double the recipe if you'd like)

1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon coconut flour
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder (or 1 clove of minced garlic)
1/8 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon psyllium seed husks (will work without it)
1 egg

In a steaming pot steam the cauliflower florets until soft and set aside to cool.

In a bowl mash or rice the cauliflower florets until they resemble white rice. Place the riced cauliflower in a mesh cloth or rag and squeeze excess water out over a bowl or into your kitchen sink. You really want to squeeze the crap out of it and get as much water out as possible, thus allowing your crust to get nice and crispy. 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Return riced cauliflower to a bowl, it should resemble a dry puree or dough. Add in all the remaining ingredients, mixing and kneading well until completely combined. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (that has been sprayed with cooking spray or oil) mold the cauliflower dough into a rectangular shape. I find the rectangle shape allows the dough to crisp up the best, but you can also do two round personal pizza's instead.

Bake pizza for 20-25 minutes or until it just starts to brown on the top. Remove from oven and carefully add pizza toppings of choice. I did kale and mozzarella with truffle oil for me and pepperoni for my husband. Bake for another 10 minutes or so.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Zucchini Waffles - Gluten Free

I came up with this recipe when I had some extra zucchini lying around, and I wanted to somehow sneak it into my husband's breakfast. He hates eggs/omelettes, so I had to do something sweet, but zucchini bread takes over an hour to make. So I came up with this zucchini waffles recipe and Brett LOVED them. They're full of good-for-you ingredients and you can't even taste the zucchini. Perfect for picky eaters.

Ingredients:  makes 2-4 waffles

3/4 cup gluten free oat flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1 tsp psyllium seed husks
2 packets stevia
1 tbsp olive oil (or coconut oil)
1 egg (can sub chia or flax egg)
3/4 cup almond milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup grated zucchini

Blend wet ingredients in blender, then pour into a bowl. Fold in dry ingredients. If batter is too dry, add hour almond milk as needed. Pour batter into waffle iron as directed. Serve with pure maple syrup, fruit, or nut butter or choice.

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