Category Archives: Dessert

Cranberry Allspice Scones

Cranberry Allspice Scones
The Recipe Redux – October, 2014: Spooky Spices

So, this month’s Recipe Redux challenge was to come face to face with a “spooky spice” – create a dish with a spice that seemed scary to use. A scary spice? What spooked me most about this project was to NOT find a spice that I felt fear from working with (I did want to compete in this challenge after all!) Being a certifiable spice-aholic, often I am found concocting different spice blends, and utilizing even the most obscure spices to me seems exciting, not scary.

 

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Just in time for fall…

Could no spice fit this challenge? To decide for sure, I opened my cabinet and, one by one, began thinking up dishes each spice could play a starring role in. Soon visions of cinnamon-stick skewered chicken k-bobs, cubes of pink-peppercorn-crusted venison, and filets of cumin-dusted whitefish were dancing in my head. So many meaty thoughts had me soon feeling in need of a detox so, with turmeric up next, it soon found star status in an anti-inflammatory raw veggie smoothie.

 

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Perfect with tomorrow’s breakfast…

Down the rows I went, grabbing bottles and daydreaming dishes, yet not once did my spine sense a shiver.  And just when I thought no spice would suffice, I grabbed…

Allspice.

Well, well, well… here’s one that made me stop and think… actually I do use allspice often- in fact, just last month it appeared in my Autumn Pie Spice Blend for my Oven-Dried Apple Chips recipe. But it always played a small, supporting role, never the star spice. As I thought  to myself, “yikes, what the heck DO you make with allspice?” I realized, I had found me a winner!

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tasty goodness in every bite!

Eventually I decided on scones for allspice’s first crack at kitchen stardom. With such rich earthiness I felt it would pair great with fall fruits and veggies. Cranberries, orange, pumpkin and apple were chosen, and all played well with our featured seasoning. The buckwheat, amaranth and potato flours complemented nicely too. (If you can’t find amaranth flour, you could substitute with millet or sorghum flours, but trust me it’s worth the search to find it!)

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Cranberry Allspice Scones

When trying this recipe out in your own kitchen, if using unsweetened cranberries I recommend sweetening them yourself: place the dried cranberries in a small bowl, then add enough orange juice to cover berries and soak them for a few hours in the refrigerator before preparing the scones. Drain the orange juice from the cranberries before using them in this recipe. If left unsweetened, they may make the scones too tart.

The turbinado sugar on top gives a nice bonus crunch and touch of sweet. If you do not have Turbinado, you could sub with regular or brown sugar instead, but larger granules do look, and taste, the best.

Of course, most important to remember when preparing these scones: the cinnamon is optional. 😉

INGREDIENTS

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Cranberry Allspice Scones

1/2 cup Buckwheat flour
1/2 cup Amaranth flour
1/2 cup Potato starch
1 tablespoon Baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Xanthan gum
1 1/4 teaspoons Allspice, ground
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon Salt
1/3 cup Brown sugar
2 tablespoons Olive oil
1/2 cup Apple sauce, unsweetened
1 large Egg
1/2 cup Pumpkin, mashed
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 cup Cranberries, dried, fruit-sweetened
1/2 tablespoon Turbinado sugar

PREPARATION
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, mix together the buckwheat, amaranth and potato starch flours, baking powder, Xanthan gum, allspice, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together sugar, oil and apple sauce until light. Add egg and beet smooth. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in orange zest.

Add flour mix to liquids and stir until everything is moistened. Fold in cranberries.

Scoop mixture into lightly greased muffin or scone pans. Don’t try to smooth out the batter perfectly in the pan because the more uneven and lumpy it is, the more tasty, crunchier parts you will have to your baked scones. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until muffins spring back when touched in the middle. About twenty minutes into baking (5 minutes before baking is done), sprinkle a little Turbinado sugar on top of each scone.

Set scones on rack to cool. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Makes 12 scones.

 


Oven-Dried Apple Chips

Oven-Dried Apple Chips
The Recipe Redux – September, 2014: Get Your Dehydrator On

Ever gone apple picking, then afterwards wondered what to do with that delicious basket full of goodies

collected? Consider dehydrating some of your fruity sweets into crispy treats. If dehydrated properly, your dried apple chips could keep well into the next season.

I am a big fan of food dehydrators, and personally own two of my own. Unfortunately, with my recent move into the Big Apple came a drastic reduction in living space. This forced my dehydrators to their current sad fate of spending their days in a storage unit instead of in my kitchen. For developing this recipe I worked with what I had, and used the oven set at a low temperature. If you are less limited in kitchen space as I, then you could make these apple slices in a regular dehydrator as well. Do make sure to extend dehydrating time if using a lower temperature.

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Oven-Dried Apple Slices

This recipe calls for Autumn Pie Spice Blend, and I have included the recipe for it. You could also substitute with a premixed Apple or Pumpkin Pie spice blend. When you prepare the Autumn Pie spice blend, the recipe will make more than what is needed for this Oven-Dried Apple Slices recipe. Make sure to save the leftover spice for use in other fall fruit dishes, including baked apples, apple or pumpkin pie, or fruit crumbles.

While I only used Granny Smith Apples, you can use most any type of apple for this chip recipe. By instead using an assortment, you will get to enjoy a greater variety of flavor when it becomes time to indulge in your dried creations.

Sweet-tart Oven-Dried Granny Smith Apple Slices
INGREDIENTS
4 medium Apples
1.5 tablespoons Lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Autumn Pie spice blend*  (see below for recipe)

PREPARATION
Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Using a Mandolin slicer, slice apples to 1/8 of an inch thickness. As apples are sliced, add to large bowl and brush with lemon juice to keep them from browning. Carefully remove seed pieces from apple slices. Add spice to bowl and toss well to lightly coat apples.

Lay apple slices on sheet trays covered with parchment. Bake apples for two hours, or until slices are crispy. Make sure to flip slices over half-way through baking.

Store dried apples slices in an air-tight container.

Makes about 50 – 60 slices.

*To make the Autumn Pie spice blend: mix 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon with 1/4 teaspoon each of ground ginger, nutmeg and allspice.

 

Almond Cakes “to go” with Quinoa & Cranberry

Almond Cakes “to go” with Quinoa and Cranberry
The Recipe Redux – August, 2014: Bars and Bites for Brown Bags

For many families, the end of August also marks the return of school. Trying to come up with healthy options that are easy to transport, and which the kids will enjoy, can often feel like a daunting task.

These Almond “to-go” Cakes will make for a tasty, healthy addition to any brown bag. Kids love them because they are shaped like cookies, yet are moist and delicious like a cake. Moms love them because they are loaded with whole grains (buckwheat, quinoa and oats). These also make for a wonderful, healthful breakfast treat. I used tri-colored quinoa when I baked these, but any color quinoa will work fine in this recipe.

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Your whole family will enjoy these palm-sized treats!

For extra fun, let the kids make their own designs on top of the cakes with the almonds just before baking. Over lunch they can show off their art work to their friends.

Many recipes for cakes and cookies often call for a stick or more of regular butter. This version replaces butter with mashed pumpkin and olive oil, which really cuts back the total saturated fat.

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Almond cakes to-go with Quinoa and Cranberry: serve with fruit for a perfect snack!

For delicious recipe variations: fold in 1/2 cup of shredded coconut or 3/4 cup chocolate chips into the mix just before shaping cookies. Dried cherries also taste great in place of the cranberries.

Happy Healthy Baking!

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Almond Cakes “to-go” with Quinoa and Cranberry

INGREDIENTS
2/3 cup Almond flour
1/2 cup Tapioca flour
1/3 cup Buckwheat flour
1 teaspoon Baking powder
1 teaspoon Baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Xanthan gum
3/4 cup Pumpkin, mashed
1/3 cup Brown sugar
1/3 cup Maple syrup
2 large Eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon Almond extract
1/4 cup Olive oil
1 cup Quinoa, cooked
1 cup Oats, old fashioned, gluten-free
1 cup Cranberries, dried, fruit-sweetened
1/4 cup Almonds, sliced

PREPARATION
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

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Almond “to-go” cake batter prepped and ready for the oven

In a medium bowl whisk together the flours, baking powder and soda, salt and Xanthan gum.

In a large bowl using an electric mixer on low, whisk together pumpkin, sugar, maple syrup, eggs, and extracts until mixture is light and frothy. Slowly drizzle in olive oil while mixing. Beat in flour mixture 1/2 cup at a time. With a spatula, stir in cooked quinoa, oats, and cranberries. Using a 2 tablespoon scoop, spoon portions onto parchment-lined cookie sheet. Gently press slice almonds into tops of cookies.

Bake to-go cakes for 15-20 minutes, or until cookies spring back to the touch. Place cakes on cookie rack to cool.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

 

 

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Lavender-Almond Pudding

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Recipe Redux – June, 2014: Foods in Bloom

How nice to have summer upon us once again! The new season blooms with new life. With so many beautiful, fresh flowers everywhere, they inspire their usage in cuisine.

One of my favorite blooms to play with in the kitchen is lavender. The scent is wonderful, and it can add a great depth to many dishes, both sweet and savory. The trick : do not add to much of this fragrant floral, or your dish may turn out tasting soapy.

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Lovely, Fragrant Lavender

Instead of the usual whole milk, I substituted with almond milk in this pudding, which lightens up both the fat and calories for this dessert, plus the nuttiness makes for a lovely complement to the lavender. Fragrant vanilla enhances the flavor profile even more.
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When shopping for almond milk, I suggest reading the ingredients label to make sure your product does not contains phosphorous additives. While phosphorous is a necessary nutrient, we do get plenty naturally in our foods and do not generally need supplementation. Too much phosphorous intake can be lead to bad news for our bone health, and can also spell out trouble for anyone with kidney issues.

To check for phosphorous additives, look for any ingredient with “phos” in the name (examples: calcium phosphate, orthophosphoric acid, trisodium diphospate). Fortunately, there are still companies that produce almond milk without phosphorous additives (although other types of alternative milks, including hemp and oat, can be harder to find without this troublesome ingredient added).

Serve pudding with an almond tuile cookie to add some crunch.

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Lavender Almond Pudding

INGREDIENTS
4 tablespoons Corn starch
2 1/4 cups Almond milk*
1/3 cup Sugar
1/4 tsp Salt (I used Himalayan Pink salt)
1/2 tablespoon Vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon Lavender

PREPARATION

Add the cornstarch to a medium saucepan with 2 tablespoons of the almond milk, and stir until the cornstarch is dissolved and there are no clumps. Add the sugar, salt and lavender to pan and stir over medium high heat. Slowly pour in the remainder of the almond milk while stirring. Bring to a boil and gently boil for one minute while stirring constantly. Take pudding off heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour into small ramekins and chill.

Serve chilled.

Makes 6-8 servings.

*Note: If preparing gluten-free, make sure your almond milk has no added gluten.

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Dessert Time!

 

 


Peachy Dream “Ice Cream” with Blackberry Sauce

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Recipe Redux – September, 2013: No-Cook Desserts

Take a walk through any grocery store, and it is easy to see that one of America’s favorite desserts is ice cream.

Whether served in a bowl or cup, between “sandwich” cookies or alongside cake, creamy, sweet ice cream is savored by the young and old alike. Unfortunately, with all the sugar and fat, ice cream is not a healthy dish. If only there was a way to enjoy a deliciously creamy, frozen treat that was also good for you too…

Enter the Yonanas Machine. A friend told me about this device recently and I decided to pick one up and test it out for myself. This machine allows you to turn frozen bananas and other fruit into ice cream! Ok, technically it is not ice cream at all since it is dairy-free (great news for anyone lactose-intolerant), but the end result is just as creamy and delicious as the full-fat version. Simply feed cut bananas and other pieces of frozen fruit into the machine by dropping them into the tube and pushing it down with the damper, and the machine  works its magic and churns the fruit into a frozen delight.

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Peachy Dream “Ice Cream” with easy Blackberry Sauce

At $50, the machine is reasonably priced. It does take a little bit of muscling to push the fruit down the tube (but my peaches and bananas were super frozen, so that did make the task tougher.) Online I did find a Yonanas deluxe model also available for double the price, but I have yet to test it out in the kitchen.

My simple, no-cook recipe here uses frozen peaches and banana. I also added a little vanilla to enhance the peach flavor and give more of that ice cream taste. The blackberry sauce is super easy to make and tastes great with the sweet “ice cream.”

I recommend every family pick up one of these machines. Go to the store with the kids, so you can pick out fruits together for freezing. Or you can buy bags of fruit already cut and frozen. When everyone is in the mood for a frozen treat, custom pick which fruits are included in your creations. How fun is that?!?

INGREDIENTS
1/3 cup Blackberries

Make delicious frozen treats for the whole family with a Yonanas Machine

1 small Lime wedge
1 medium Banana, peeled, quartered, frozen
1 cup Peaches, peeled, sliced, frozen
1/4 teaspoon Vanilla extract, pure
PREPARATION

Place the blackberries in a blender. Squeeze the lime wedge so its juice squirts over the blackberries, and then discard the wedge. Blend the blackberries until a sauce consistency, about 30 seconds.

Feed the banana and peaches into the running Yonanas machine, alternating between the banana quarters and peach slices so the flavors blend better. Drizzle the vanilla extract over the fruit in the tube. Feed the fruit into the machine by pushing onto the damper. Make sure to use even pressure when pushing on the damper.

Serve the Peachy Dream “Ice Cream” with a healthy drizzle of Blackberry Sauce.

Makes 2 servings.

Concord Grape Oat Squares

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This was an extra fun post to put together, as it brought me out of the kitchen and over to visit one of my local farms, Nature’s Farm in Dover, NH, where  I personally collected some amazing grapes fresh off the vine. If you ever get the opportunity, do make the time and effort to pick your own grapes from a local farmer. The smell alone from being surrounded by all of the divine fruit was so amazing! These were happily growing off vines intertwined with a crab apple tree.

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Beautiful, Ripe Concord Grape Vines intertwined with Crab Apple Tree at Nature’s Farm in Dover, NH

This Concord Grape Oat Squares recipe is a healthier adaptation of a recipe originally developed by one of my Professors from Johnson & Wales University. Chef Dean Lavornia’s Raspberry Oat Crumble Bars are admittedly tasty, but they also call for two sticks of butter per one pan of squares- a recipe with a definite need of a healthy Redux if I ever saw one! Without all the butter, my version admittedly won’t crumble quite like the original, but they are still quite tasty squares and are far friendlier to both your heart and waistline. You could have some as a dessert, for a snack, or even with breakfast.

Concord Grape Squares -fresh out of the oven

Olive oil, apple sauce and maple syrup are replacing the butter and brown sugar usually found in a recipe of this type. Instead of buying processed, sugary preserves, I used homemade grape “quick-jam,” with chia seeds as the quick-thickener. Yes, you could substitute store jam here, but trust me, it’s worth breaking out the blender to make your own quick-jam yourself instead. Tip: you may want to double the jam portion of this recipe and keep the extra as a delicious morning treat with your toast. You can throw berries in with the grapes too.

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Plump, Hand-Picked Concord Grapes

INGREDIENTS
for the Quick-Jam:
1.5 cups Concord grapes, seeded
4 teaspoons Chia seeds
1 tablespoon Water, warm
2 tablespoons Honey

for the dough:
1/2 cup Oat flour*
1/2 cup Sorghum flour
1/4 cup Buckwheat flour
1/2 teaspoon Xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 cup Maple syrup
1/3 cup Olive oil
1 cup Apple sauce
1 large Egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla extract, pure
1 cup Old fashioned rolled oats*
1/3 cup Walnuts, shelled, chopped

PREPARATION

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 8×8 baking dish then line it with parchment paper. Make sure parchment is long enough so that at least two ends can overhang the dish rim. Lightly spray parchment with olive oil.

To make the jam: In a high-powered blender add jam ingredients. (Include honey if the grapes need some sweetening, but if substituting the Concord grapes with a sweeter variety, cut the amount of honey by at least half). Process until a jam consistency, about a minute. Set aside.

To make the dough: In a large bowl combine the oat, sorghum and buckwheat flours along with the xanthan gum, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and mix together. Add the apple sauce, olive oil, egg and vanilla and mix well. Fold in the rolled oats and chopped walnuts.

To assemble: Divide the dough in half. Pour half the dough into the baking dish lined with parchment, evenly covering the bottom of the dish. Spread the grape jam evenly over the layer of dough. Top the jam layer with the remaining dough by taking small, thin dollops of dough and gently spreading them over the jam (top layer won’t really cover perfectly, and that’s OK; it will still taste great!)

Bake until golden and cooked through, about 40 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes then carefully lift pastry out of pan using the parchment. Slice into a dozen squares. Enjoy!

*Note: If preparing this gluten-free, make sure to use certified gluten-free oats.

Makes a dozen servings

Serving size: 1 square

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Special thanks out to Brian “Nature” Stern for welcoming us onto his farm and for supplying us, as well as our local restaurants, with some amazing produce!



 

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A Little Slice of Heaven!