Treats

Raw Cherry Tart With My Favorite Little Helper

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I write, erase, rewrite, and try again.  Few words seem to adequately express my emotions this week.  Emotions that called for three, yes three of these beautiful summer tarts.   Peaches, plums and cherries laid on top of coconut whipped cream with a date nut crust.  When I find mindful treats, that don’t taste mindful, I indulge like there’s no tomorrow.  This tart has been comfort for the weary, motivation for the impatient.  Me, that is.  This week has been the most challenging, yet rewarding week since becoming a Mama.  I know I am not saying anything new, but now that I am in the thick of it, I feel the need to just admit it.  Motherhood is really hard work, full of really hard stuff.   It’s also full of  riches.  When Octave apologizes with the sweetest, most sincere, “sorry,” tells me “love you,” and begs to “help cook,” every time we enter the kitchen, my heart melts like molasses, spreading deep, and wide, reaching the most sacred space inside these bones.  This heart that once weighed tired and true, falls easy like a hem, holding our memories carefully above the floor.

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I have anticipated our kitchen adventures since I knew she was in my belly.  I have anticipated a little helper by my side.  Now those days are here and I want to let go, dive in and savor every last mess, because let me tell you, toddler baking is not for the time keepers, uptight or tidy.  It is most certainly not for the restless Mama I was slowly starting to become.  It is for the dreamers, the feelers, the curious and most patient.  If I allow, invite and devour this whole,  baking with my babe will help shape me into the Mama I desire to be.  It’s these  quiet, messy moments, with cherry stained fingers and cream smeared floors that give the most life, and inspire honest reflection.  In spite of my insecurities and doubts, making this tart, with my favorite new helper has got me thinking, maybe I was meant to be a Mama after all.  Maybe I do have what it takes.

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I will unabashedly share that we eat it all up, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, because we will only live once, and because those treat seeking eyes are too endearing not to.DSC_0375

Summer Cherry Tart

Recipe adapted from Sprouted Kitchen.

Crust

1 cup lightly toasted almonds

1 cup lightly toasted pecans

10 pitted dates

2 tsp. coconut oil

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

Splash of water, or as necessary

Filling

Can of Coconut Milk, refrigerated for at least 12 hours

2-3 Tbsp. powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Topping

1 1/2 lb. cherries pitted, or other favorite seasonal fruit

In a small pan, lightly toast pecans and almonds and let cool.  Add nuts in the food processor, along with pitted dates, salt, cinnamon, and coconut oil.  Pulse for about 30 seconds or until ingredients start coming together.  To test, take a piece of crust and pinch it between your fingers.  It should hold together well.  If not, add a splash of water until it does.  Scoop crust out into a 9″ pie pan or springform pan if you have one.  Place the crust in your pan, making it smooth and even.  Set aside.

Refrigerating the coconut milk helps to separate the fat from the liquid.  To make the whipped cream you are only going to use the solid part, so you can save the liquid for smoothies or rice, etc.  The Thai Kitchen brand does the best at separating, so choose this brand when possible.  It really does make a huge difference.  Scoop out solid coconut cream and place in a deep bowl.  Beat with a hand mixer for 10-15 seconds.  Add powered sugar and vanilla and mix on high for 1-2 minutes, but not longer or it will start to separate and loose the consistency of whipped cream.  Smooth the whipped cream  evenly on top of the crust and set in the fridge while you prepare the fruit.

Wash, slice and pit cherries.  Arrange cherries on top of whipped cream and place in the fridge for 1-2 hours before serving.  You can also place it in the freezer and remove 30 minutes before you want to eat.  If will defrost quickly and tastes great when slightly frozen as well.

Maple Pecan Cookies & A Traveling Babe

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Christopher is going back to Oklahoma City for the rest of his ATC training, so Octave and I will be sweeping the west coast these next 6 weeks.  It is going to be really rough to be apart that long but thankfully we have a lot of really fun things, with our most favorite people planned.  We are starting in Seattle to visit Nana, heading to LA for a long-awaited sisterhood reunion, and ending in Portland for more time with friends and family, and a dear friend’s wedding.

We leave for Seattle first thing in the morning, and while we have flown many times together in Octave’s 17 months of life, this is the first since she has become an incredibly active, walking toddler.  I’ve been given advice to pack lots of snacks, a new toy, and even to give her Benadryl to help her sleep.  I thought it had to be a joke, but apparently a lot of people do it.  I am in no place to make a judgement, we all have to do what gets us through.  However, I will stick to snacks, a doodle pad, and pull out these delicious maple pecan cookies, in case of a meltdown.  Maybe bribing my daughter with cookies is no different, but for some reason it sits a little better with me:)  Octave loves cookies more than anything, and asks for them daily!  Luckily, she thinks lara bars and goji berry bites are “cookies” too.   However, there is a special light in her eyes when she is eating a proper cookie with butter and sugar, straight out of the oven.  These are made with pecan flour, spelt flour, coconut palm sugar and maple syrup, making them a little more friendly to your body, without sacrificing any taste.  Seriously, they are delicious!  We may have a 6 am flight tomorrow morning, but I am prepared to pull these babies out at the first sight of a meltdown.  Or heck, we will eat them regardless,  because coffee and pecans go great together and I hardly ever need an excuse to eat a really good cookie.

See you soon Nana…

Maple Pecan Cookies

Makes 2 dozen cookies

1 cup raw pecans for flour+ more for topping

1 1/4 cup spelt flour

1/2 cup coconut palm sugar

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. baking soda

A few shakes of cinnamon

1 stick cold unsalted butter

1/4 cup maple syrup

Directions

Grind pecans in a food processor.   You want to make sure they are ground fine enough to be considered flour but not so fine that a paste starts to form.  Add in spelt flour, coconut palm sugar, salt, baking soda and cinnamon, and pulse a few more times.  Cut  the chilled butter into small pieces and place in the food processor.  Pulse a few more times.  Add in maple syrup and blend until everything is combined.  Dough should be fairly sticky.  Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon, scoop out dough and place evenly on a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place a whole pecan on top and repeat until finished with dough.  Pre heat oven to 350 and place your baking sheet(s) in the freezer while your oven is heating.  When ready, bake cookies for 10-12 minutes.  After removing from the oven, immediately give the baking sheet a few good taps on your counter.  This will help them settle and create lines in your cookies.  Let cool completely.  Try not to eat them all at once.  Or in my case, before we even make it to the airport.

P.S. I shared a recipe over at A Denver Home Companion yesterday.  Check out these tasty pops and Emily’s awesome blog!

Our Loyal Chocolate Chip

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"Just one more Mama?"

“Just one more Mama?”

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She didn’t like my answer.

It has taken me 27 years of life, 3 years of marriage, and 1 bambino, to realize that I am a cookie person.  My parents have video footage of me at two, relentlessly begging for “cookie.”   It was one of my first words.  Growing up I always asked my mom if we could bake cookies from scratch.  From scratch, was kind of a foreign concept in my household, and apparently even at a young age I had an infatuation with the idea.  Now years later, I bake cookies for my family almost weekly.  I lay awake at night dreaming up cookie combinations like, chocolate and cayenne, rose and honey, ginger and lemon, and so on.  It seems so obvious that I am a cookie person, I have just overlooked this detail.  Maybe cookies are so foundational, and such an obvious favorite, that they go unspoken of.  They are comforting and loyal, both of which are endearing qualities, and yet as classic as they are, our preferences are as diverse as we are.  Some prefer soft, chewy, sweet, salty, crispy, with nuts, or without nuts, and this is only the beginning of such preferences.

I’ve been so consumed with trying new cookies, that I have forgotten about the most classic and loyal cookie of all…chocolate chip.  Smitten Kitchen’s recipe was always my go-to, and while I absolutely love it, I have not been convinced it was the one.  I recently read this tutorial about perfecting the chocolate chip.  Then soon after I saw this post on one of my favorite blogs, and I was inspired to find a recipe that we could confidently call our favorite.  While I thrive off of trying new things, the whole point of this blog is to have a collection of our favorite family recipes, original, borrowed or adapted.  I want to give Octave a book of our memories that surround food.  I want to document and share recipes that are enjoyed so often,  I can remember them by heart.   I want a classic cookie that can be passed down generations. I want something constant that won’t change and evolve, like we do.  While change is fresh and fun and always welcome in my life, I often find myself craving tradition and stability.  In this season it seems this new cookie recipe may just be everything I have wanted.  I will look no further, this is our chocolate chip cookie!

The Classic Chocolate Chip

Makes 2 Dozen

Blend together…

1 cup unsalted butter(room temperature)

1 cup+2 tbsp. cane sugar

1 egg(room temperature)

1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract

Mix together…

2 cups+3 tbsp. spelt flour

1 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. baking soda

Add in…

1 heaping cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine wet and dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Add in chocolate chips and mix until combined.  Using a cookie scoop or a tablespoon, scoop out dough and evenly place on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 9-11 minutes, rotating pan half way through.

A few helpful tips… 

*Use the highest quality, most local ingredients you can find and afford.  My favorites are, Bob’s Red Mill flour, Wholesome brand sugar, Simply Organic Vanilla, Organic butter from grass-fed cows, and the most local eggs you can find.  The quality of ingredients really does make a difference, even when baked in chocolate chip cookies.

*Pulling the cookies out slightly underdone, and letting them cool completely, gives you the best of both worlds, slightly crispy on the edges and slightly chewy in the middle.

*As soon and you pull the cookies out of the oven, give the baking sheet a few taps on the counter.  This helps them set and gives them the attractive lines, I am always striving to achieve

Boozy Bourbon Peach Pops

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Many summers ago I found myself in Italy with one of my favorite humans, Jill Laub.  So much joy fills my bones when I think about our train rides and carafe’s of vino by the beach.  I will spare the ridiculous details of me ripping an enormous hole in the rear of my swimsuit while sun bathing on a rock.  Because quickly after, I wore a towel around my waist, ate seafood by the sea and washed it all down with white wine.  I didn’t mind much after that.

Before our Italian summer adventure, we became friends in New York.  I was new to the city, and in dire need of a friend.  The moment I saw Jill in dance class, I wanted to know her.  I spent months thinking she didn’t like me, until she invited me to a night of poetry, wine, and “just bad dancing” impressions at her place.  I woke up on her futon, to find the Napoleon Dynamite DVD menu on repeat.  I walked back home, with that intro theme song ingrained in my head, smitten with my new cool, creative, down to earth, no bs, friend.  More great memories were made but then seasons changed and I left for Portland.  A few years later, she left for LA.

As I made these bourbon peach pops, memories of Jill came flooding back to me.  I don’t ever remember having bourbon and  peaches in New York or Italy, let alone with Jill, but her presence was stained all over this recipe.  Maybe it’s the 50’s vintage polka dot suit I wore that summer in Italy, which in some odd way, makes me think of bourbon.  Or maybe it’s a foreshadowing of memories that will be made in our near future.  I am anticipating seeing her so very soon and I am thinking about how much has changed since we last met up.  We used to dream about the “one days” and now those “one days,”are our todays.  Jill used to paint a picture of what motherhood would look like for me.  We would laugh long and hard about how I might look or act in certain situations surrounding parenthood.  Whenever I feel like the misfit, hippie, Mama, I remember Jill’s impression of me and I am filled with a humble confidence.  She reminds me that I am not supposed to fit, I am supposed to just be me.

So, while I have no idea if Jill even likes bourbon, I am eating these pops and thinking about all of the things I love about her.  Her confidence and loyalty, as well as her ability to make a million and one things she is passionate about, all come together, all at the same time, and extremely well, are just a few things I admire.  The girl is talented.  I picture what it would look like if we were together right now.  Surely we would split the batch, perform some killer jazz walks and probably start writing poems about sunflowers, while in our hoodies and underwear.  Maybe that sounds weird.  Or maybe that’s just what old dance friends do. Either way, these boozy pops will knock your socks off! A must eat treat for this summer. Seriously.

Boozy Bourbon Peach Pops

6 popsicle molds

1 1/2 lbs. ripe yellow peaches (5-6 small peaches)

1 1/4 cup whole fat plain yogurt

1/3 cup raw local honey

1/3 cup bourbon whisky

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Peel peaches and place in a food processor or blender.  Add yogurt, honey, bourbon and vanilla, and blend until smooth.  Pour into popsicle molds and freeze for 4 hours or until frozen.  When you’re ready to eat, run warm water over the pops and gently pull.

Motherhood, A Reason To Celebrate!

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Motherhood has a way of making the mundane extraordinary. A way of giving deep meaning to a cluttered floor, a messy face and a sink full of dishes, because joy filled the living room, nutrients filled a belly, and a Mama gave her heart.  These are signs of life, and our life is made of memories. Our memories overflow into stories and our stories last generations.  Our stories are all we really have and so I am a trying communicator, an eager storyteller.  With a bold red and an even bolder laugh I share my heart through my memories, stories and recipes.  For my family and friends I let it open wide.  For complete strangers I do just the same.  But there is a unique enthusiasm when I daydream of Octave years from now, learning who I was and who I am through this medium.  It is with that thought that I throw caution to the wind and share myself from the inside out rather than the outside in.  I make sure not to forget the nooks and crannies, the spaces in between the good stuff.  The unassuming, quirky and less flattering parts are always far more intriguing.  I let this heart open wide to Octave, because she holds half of it.  She will always be the first one who made me a mother.  I soak this in and thank her with endless kisses, baby bowls of goodness and creative movement retreats in our living room.  This weekend I just want to rest and reflect.  I want to slackline in the park and cut fresh tulips from the only beautiful patch surrounding our nest.  I want to eat my very first loaf of homemade sourdough. I want to bake a mini pie and eat it too! Every. last .bite.  But most of all, I want to hold my lady all day long and thank her for being my most precious gift, even on the most challenging of days. Happy Mothers Day to all the amazing Mama’s out there.  Especially my two!

Apple Berry Pie

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Inspired by and adapted from Oh Lady Cakes.

(Serves 2 or 1 who LOVES sweets!)

Crust

1 cup unbleached pastry flour

6 tbsp. cold butter

¾ tsp. cane sugar

Pinch of sea salt

7-8 tbsp. ice water

1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

Filling

1 apple, peeled and cut in cubes

¼ cup berries of choice

2 tbsp. raw sugar

Pinch of salt

¼ tsp. cinnamon

Pinch of nutmeg and cloves

1 tsp. flour

Splash of fresh squeezed lemon

I used a 6 inch cast iron pan however, there is enough to dough to play with a size pan ranging from 4 inches(making two small personal pies) or 8 inches.  I had a little dough left over and I even prefer a thick crust:)

Combine flour and salt in a medium size bowl.  Cut cold butter into small cubes and using two forks or a pastry blender, blend butter into flour.  Sometimes I have to use my fingers.  Flour should resemble small pebbles.  Slowly add in ice water a few tablespoons at a time to get the desired consistency.  Splash a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in the dough to give it a nice flaky texture once baked.  Form dough into two small disks and wrap in plastic and keep in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Combine all the filling ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Preheat your oven to 350.  On a well floured surface roll out dough an inch wider than your pan size. You want to be able to have a little extra room to pinch the dough and make sure you have a high enough crust.  Place dough in a well oiled pan.  Using your thumb and index finger with your less dominant hand and the thumb of your dominant hand, pinch dough between those fingers to scallop the dough.  Pour filling inside.  Roll out second half of dough, cut into heart shapes and place on top of filling.  Of course you could roll out dough to make a traditional pie crust as well,  but how much fun are the hearts?!  Sprinkle pie with a little sugar and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool and serve with your favorite vanilla ice cream!

An Unbirthday, Birthday Cake For Octave!

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Your blueberry stained hands pressed firmly into the oven door.  Your curious eyes, my expanding heart, our baking cake rested sweetly in time.  It was neither too fast, or too slow, it was just honest.  You learned a new word that you passionately repeated until you had me giggling, in awe, in wonder, in love…

Cake!! My little lady; today I baked you a cake!  No birthday, no party, no reason.  Sometimes special things don’t feel as special on traditionally special days.  So, today on a Wednesday, I celebrated you in a way I have always longed to.

From the moment I knew you were in my belly, I dreamed of baking you a cake as I labored and welcomed you into this world.  To say your birth did not go as planned would be an understatement.  I didn’t get the chance to labor with you on my own and at home.  I didn’t get the chance to bake your cake between contractions while your Dad captured those special moments.  I had daydreams of moments that never happened.  I had daydreams of the liberating story I would tell you year after year on your Birthday.  I had daydreams of this special cake that would start with your labor and continue through your adult life.  As silly as it sounds, I mourned not getting the chance to bake you a cake.  I tried again when you were days old, only failing miserably from exhaustion and an unscrewed jar of sprinkles.  As your first Birthday grew closer, I searched the perfect recipe for months.  I was finally going to bake you that Birthday cake.  I learned the hard way that sugar and flour are in cakes for a reason.  My ambition for a “healthy,” cake got the best of me.  I even tried twice.  I cried unnecessary tears as if the fate of your birthday cake symbolized the course of your life.

Today your Birthday cake mishaps were redeemed.  With no expectations, no pressure and no reason, I baked you a cake.  Not a Birthday cake, just a cake.  A cake that says, I am so madly in love with you, I think my heart is going to explode.  A cake that erases  all the past disappointments because it was all worth that moment when your blueberry stained hands, five dimples and repetitive kisses left me to fall in love with you all over again.  We waited and watched your cake bake.  All 45 minutes, we sat and watched and read books before the oven.  You have learned to wait patiently in front of our oven because you know what comes next.

Today I learned that cake just tastes better when you eat it for no reason at all.  Baking the cake becomes the special occasion, and through that, reasons to celebrate soon follow.  Today I baked a cake and I celebrated you.  On the 24th of April you had your very first Unbirthday, Birthday cake.  A lemon basil cake with cream cheese frosting, because I adore lemons and I love basil but most of all I love and adore you.  I now realize, it really can be this simple.

Lemon Basil Cake

Slightly adapted from Ally’s Kitchen

 1 1/2 cup rice flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 1/2 sticks + 1 tbsp. salted butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

3 eggs

1/2 cup greek yogurt

1 cup basil leaves

Zest from 1 lemon

4 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. lemon extract

Cream Cheese Frosting

6 ounces cream cheese

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tbsp. butter

1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 325.  Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat well.  Add lemon juice, zest and extracts and beat for a few more minutes.  Add flour and baking powder and beat until combined.  Lastly add in yogurt with chopped basil leaves and fold together.  In 2 well oiled, 4 inch cast iron pans evenly pour batter between the two. (You can also use a 9 inch pan if you don’t want a layer cake. Or, make cupcakes! You will just have to adjust the baking time.) Bake for 45-55 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool completely.  Beat together cream cheese, and butter, adding in powdered sugar and vanilla last.  Store in fridge while cakes cool.  Frost, garnish, eat and love!

Lemon & Honey Shortbread Ice Cream Sandwiches

Just when I thought warmer weather was here to stay, this happened…

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It doesn’t seem to add up but I prefer ice cream in cold weather.  Of course, I eat ice cream in the summer too, but I have to eat it all too quickly for fear it will melt.  Melted ice cream stresses me out,  just the way spilled coffee and being late does.  Ice cream in the snow just makes sense to me, and so I made these today.  These cookies are not a traditional shortbread but are a little more health conscious and just as tasty, if not more, in my opinion.  Coconut sugar and honey replaced cane sugar,  spelt flour and whole wheat replaced the white flour and coconut oil was added to substitute some of the butter. They are crumbly, buttery and I promise, absolutely delicious!  Add in some of your favorite vanilla ice cream and you will taste perfection.

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Honey & Lemon Shortbread

(Makes about 12 sandwiches)

1 ½ cup spelt flour

¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour

½ tsp sea salt

½ tsp baking powder

½ cup unsalted butter

½ cup coconut oil

¼ cup raw honey

1/3 cup coconut sugar

Zest from 1 lemon

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. lemon extract

Turbinado sugar & a pinch of sea salt for garnish

Vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 325.  Mix flour, salt and baking together in a bowl and set aside.  Blend butter, coconut oil, and honey together. Add coconut sugar, lemon juice and zest and vanilla and almond extracts.  Mix the wet ingredients into the dry with hand mixer until dough comes together.  Try not to over mix.  Form two discs of dough, place in plastic wrap and store in fridge for an hour.  Once dough is chilled, remove from fridge and place on a lightly floured surface.  Roll out dough ½ inch thick and cut into desired shapes.  Hearts and Squirrels were made here:) Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes. Let cool completely.  Using a tbsp. scoop out your favorite vanilla ice cream and place between two cookies.  Hubs and I disagree on the best vanilla.  He claims Breyers Vanilla Bean to be the best, while I won’t go for anything other than Haagen Dazs.  Unless we are in Portland and we have access to beautifully handmade ice cream like Salt & Straw, we will agree to disagree.  In any case, any vanilla ice cream will do here.  Squeeze all that yumminess together and savor every last bite!  Store sandwiches in air tight container in the freezer.

Lemon Mango Poppy Seed Pound Cake

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Before Chris and I were married I lived with two great gals in NE Portland.  We called our house the ELK lodge because that is what all our initials spelled.  I have great memories in this house.  It was the first time in my life I felt like I lived a normal life and I loved it.  I woke up, walked to coffee, drank it in house to savor it, walked home, wrote on my type writer, watered my tiny garden, taught dance in the evenings, came home to two awesome ladies, and finished with some wine as we shared our days.  It was simple but it was rich.

Our house sat equal distance between whole foods and new seasons with about a 15 minute walk to each.  In the summer I would walk to whole foods, no phone, no purse, some days no keys, just cash or card, to buy a champagne mango.  Just one.  I would do this every morning while the air was still cool.  I would come home, make a mango smoothie and drink it on the stairs of our front porch.  I could have easily bought 7 mangos so I had enough for the week, but I didn’t.  Buying just one thing, going home and enjoying it felt simple and rewarding.  This only lasted a few weeks because I grew tired of these mango’s and then soon after the sun went away.  I have not used them since, so when I saw them at our grocery store I had to get them.   They really are unique and very different from other mangos, almost creamy, if that is even possible for a fruit.  The desire to make a pound cake seemed a little out of the blue for what I usually make, but I saw a recipe for a ginger pound cake on a design blog I like to read.  I woke up the next morning wanting to make one but using what we already had and of course adapting it like I love to do.  These mangos came to mind and poppy seeds have been a staple in our spices while I have been tinkering around trying to create a new salad dressing.  And lemon, is just always good.  This cake is moist and flavorful and best of all reminiscent, leaving be unable to eat just one slice.

Lemon Mango Poppy-Seed Pound Cake

1 cup flour

½ cup whole wheat pastry flour

2 tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. sea salt

¼ cup poppy seeds

3 eggs separated

1 cup sugar

¼ cup butter

¼ heaping cup coconut oil

2 champagne mangos

½ cup whole milk yogurt

1 lemon(zest and juice)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

½ tsp. lemon extract

Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar

3-4 tbsp. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350. Melt butter and coconut oil. Set aside and cool.  Meanwhile, separate eggs, putting the whites in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment. You can also use a hand mixer.  On medium speed whisk until white and frothy.  This took about 6-8 minutes.  Add sugar and whisk together for another 3-5 minutes.  While whites are whisking, peel and slice mangos and place in food processor with yogurt, lemon juice and zest. Blend until smooth.  Add egg yolks, butter and coconut oil, lemon and vanilla extract.   Pulse a few times until everything comes together.  Pour into large bowl.  In another bowl add flour, salt, baking powder and poppy seeds.  Set aside.  Add egg whites to liquids by using a spatula and folding them in.  Once combined, add in the flour mixture and fold until combined.  Oil a 9×5 loaf pan with butter or coconut oil and pour in batter. Bake for 45-50 minutes.  Let cool completely (about an hour,) remove from pan and pour glaze on top.

Vegan + Grain Free Nutella Cookie Sandwiches

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These are perfection.  Just perfection.  Especially on a snowy Sunday where all I want to do is cuddle up and watch movies.  These cookies will not disappoint.  I promise.

Vegan + Grain Free Nutella Cookie Sandwiches

Inspired + adapted from My New Roots

Make your own Nutella here.  (Before adding in chocolate reserve 4 tbsp. of plain hazelnut butter.)

-Chia Gel-

2 Tbsp. Chia seeds+2 Tbsp. honey+ 4 Tbsp. water.  Stir well and let sit for 15 minutes to form gel.

-Wet ingredients-

4 Tbsp. melted coconut oil+ 4 Tbsp. hazelnut butter+ 1/2 cup coconut sugar+ 1 Tbsp. Vanilla.  Mix well.

-Dry Ingredients-

2 cups rolled oats ground in food processor+1/4 tsp. sea salt+ 1 tsp. baking soda. Mix together.

Pre-heat oven to 350. Combine Chia gel into wet ingredients and mix together.  Pour over dry ingredients and fold until sticky dough forms.  On a baking sheet with parchment paper roll out  level, tbsp. size balls of dough.  Using a drinking glass flatten dough into round disks.  Bake for 8-10 minutes and let cool completely.  I did this in two batches.  Once cookies are cool, spread Nutella on one side of cookie and place another cookie on top.  Eat them, love them and share them with your friends.  And little people too!

Homemade Nutella

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Our adorable friend and taste tester, Everett.

Our favorite four year old friend and taste tester, Everett.

When I was a senior in high school I created my own study abroad program.  Meaning, I convinced my school counselor and teachers to let me take off the first half of the school year and study in Italy.  The credits didn’t transfer, but I didn’t mind, I just wanted the experience.  Since I was past my junior year, the typical year to study abroad, I had to get creative.  I saved up money for the school by working at a coffee shop early in the mornings and my parents said they would match whatever I made.  I ended up in Florence in September of 2003 studying Italian and Art History and learning about Icelandic, Swedish and Israeli culture in the evenings from my three new friends I met at school.  I lived with an orange haired woman named Guisy and a Japanese boy named Hayato, both of whom didn’t speak English.  Well Guisy randomly knew “sugar,” and proudly asked me each morning if I wanted some in my espresso.  The answer was always the same; I think she just liked saying it.  We lived on the top floor of a charming flat in the very center of town and my bedroom window looked directly at the Duomo. I am not embellishing here.  It was seriously right in front of my eyes, even while I laid in bed!  The view made up for Guisy’s hyperactive dog “Rrrrooott,” and the fact that she accidently threw away my passport while cleaning up my room. It was a very eventful few months to say the least.  The bottomless jars of nutella in her kitchen almost made up for the missing passport, constant barking and bizarre overcooked dinners every night.  She was Italian; she just didn’t cook like one.   Every morning for breakfast and truthfully, every snack in the afternoon consisted of espresso and ciabatta with Nutella. The smell of both takes me straight to bliss.   To this day I can still smell stale cigarette smoke, hear beautiful rolling r’s and see the  charming allies I often got lost in.  When I smell or taste nutella, I think of independence and self-discovery.  I see a fearless, adventurous version of myself that I don’t get to see as often these days.  It is still there though, and when I made this Nutella, it all came flooding back.  Whether you and this spread have memories that run deep or if you have yet to experience it, I promise it will change your life.  Or if nothing else, make you really really happy!

Nutella

(Makes a little over 1 cup)

2 cups raw hazelnuts

1 bar of milk chocolate (I used 33%) Vegans use 3.5 ounces Vegan Chips

3 tbsp. powdered sugar

2 tbsp. cocoa powder

¾ tsp. sea salt

½ tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 375.  Put hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake for 13- 15 minutes.  Let cool completely.  Put hazelnuts inside a kitchen towel and rub together for a few minutes until all the skins fall off.  There may still be a few left on, you just want the majority to be removed.  In a food processor or high powered blender, like a vita-mix, blend hazelnuts until it forms a paste and is very smooth.  This took me about 5 minutes, but might take a little longer depending on the power of your processor.  (Make sure to take a good long smell as the hazelnuts are blending, it is absolutely divine!) Melt 1 bar of chocolate in a pan, this takes just 2-3 minutes.  Once the hazelnuts are as smooth as you can get them add in melted chocolate, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, salt and vanilla. Blend a few more minutes until silky and smooth.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge up to 10 days.  Enjoy on toast, apples, bananas, or just by the spoonful!