Okay, so this summer has been really bizarre so far. It hasn't really felt at all like summer yet! We'll get a couple of summer-ish days, then Mother Nature is all like, "Just kidding!" It's almost July and I'm still wearing pants. I've worn shorts maybe twice so far. Yesterday, I wore pants AND a sweatshirt. Today actually has turned out to be a pretty nice summery day. It started out all not-summery, but now it's finally sunshiney and warm out. And I'm wearing shorts. Finally.
Anywho, the point of this post isn't to complain about the weather! The point is to share with you this lovely key lime pie that is the epitome of summer. Key lime pie just shouts summer. Whenever I eat key lime pie, if I close my eyes, I swear I'm sitting on a deck overlooking the ocean in Florida. Key lime pie is my dad's favorite dessert ever. When my brother and I were little, our family always took a road trip down to Georgia every spring vacation to visit our aunt and uncle. Usually we would continue down to Florida. And whenever we ate out at any restaurants in Georgia or Florida, my dad would ALWAYS get the key lime pie for dessert.
For Father's Day, I decided I would make my dad an authentic Southern key lime pie. And it came out pretty darn good, if I do say so myself. The meringue has some lime zest in it, so this pie is extra-limey. And extra delicious. When trying to figure out the perfect Southern key lime pie recipe, I pulled out my "Savannah Classic Desserts" recipe book. And bingo -- there was Uncle Bubba's Key Lime Pie. Perfect! (Uncle Bubba is Paula Deen's brother -- so you know it's very Southern and filled with butter).
This recipe is pretty easy to make. I'd say the hardest part is zesting those limes (zesting takes foreverrrrr). But, I mean, zesting really isn't that hard I guess. Plus, limes give off the most wonderful, fragrant smell when you zest them. So. Good. The effort is worth it.
By this point, I'm sure you're like, "Okay, let's get onto the recipe already!" Okay, okay -- without further ado, here it is!
UNCLE BUBBA'S KEY LIME PIE
5 tablespoons butter, melted (I used EarthBalance since neither my dad or I can tolerate a lot of butter -- I know, not very Southern)
2 cups gluten-free graham cracker crumbs (the recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs and 1/2 cup of slivered almonds. I left 'em out since my dad isn't a fan of nuts, but I bet almonds would be tasty)
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk (I used non-fat -- I know, I know -- again, not very Southern. Shhhh.)
1/2 cup Key lime juice
2 teaspoons grated lime zest
2 large eggs, separated
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup of sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
To make the crust: Combine the graham crackers and melted butter (or Earth Balance, in my case) in a food processor. Put the mixture into an 8-inch pie pan and pat along the sides and bottom to form an even crust. Bake for around 5 minutes, until crust is set. Let cool.
To make the filling: Combine the condensed milk, lime juice, and 1 teaspoon of the zest in a medium bowl. Beat in the egg yolks until smooth. Pour the filling into the crust.
To make the meringue: Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the sugar and remaining 1 teaspoon of lime zest until the mixture is stiff. Spoon the meringue over the filling and spread it around. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the meringue is golden brown.
Let cool before serving and then be transported to somewhere tropical!
Well, I've got a case of the Monday blahs. It all started with health insurance. Dealing with health insurance is never a great way to start off the day, especially a Monday. And, dealing with the totally incompetent, utterly useless health insurance policy marketplace of the state in which I currently reside is just a really, really, really bad way to start off the day. It's been like, okay, you're approved. Congratulations! You have health insurance (only after a totally frustrating and confusing few days of trying to figure out the whole enrollment process). Oh no, wait, now you need to re-enroll. Okay, you're re-enrolled, but, wait -- we're canceling your health insurance because you're not a US citizen. Oh, you are a US citizen. Okay, you're enrolled again. Oh, wait, we need your proof of income again.
*bangs head against wall*
Seriously?! This should not be this difficult, yet somehow it is.
And it's a gray, icky day out, so totally not helping out the case of the Monday blahs.
BUT, I have the new summer issue of BHG's Do It Yourself magazine and these delicious cookie bars. Oh man, these cookie bars are SO. GOOD. And so easy to make! I love cookies, but sometimes I'm lazy and I don't feel like spooning individual balls of dough onto a baking sheet. Enter the cookie bar. Just dump the batter into a baking dish, spread it out, and VOILA! Cookie bars. They're a genius idea. Plus, with cookie bars, you can cut yourself any size you'd like. You want a small piece? Sure, no problem. Personally, I like to cut as big a piece as what seems decent. Colossal cookies -- that's my thing.
I can't eat peanuts, hence the sunbutter, but feel free to swap out the sunbutter for peanut butter if you like. They'll still be delicious. There is something magical about the combination of chocolate and nuts. Or, chocolate, nuts and sunflower seeds in this case. The cookie itself is nice and dense, spiked with a combination of semi-sweet chocolate chips and dark chocolate pieces. And the cashews add a nice crunch and an added nutty flavor. A like a lot of different textures going on in my cookies. When I was younger, I hated nuts in my cookies, or any baked good for that matter. Brownies with walnuts?? No way. Pecans in my chocolate chip cookies?? An atrocity. But now, I can't get enough of them. I put them in oatmeal, in brownies, in quick breads, and yes -- in cookie bars. If you're not a fan of nuts, you can leave them out and these bars will still be tasty. But, seriously, the cashews are amazing in these cookie bars.
Between these cookie bars and this summer's DIY magazine, my Monday blahs will surely be banished!
SUNBUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP CASHEW COOKIE BARS
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 35 minutes Yield: 1 8x8 pan
1 cup gluten free all purpose flour (I love Bob's Red Mill)
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chocolate chips (I used a combination of Enjoy Life's semi-sweet and dark chocolate)
1/2 cup raw cashews
6 tablespoons soy-free Earth Balance spread (or butter, if tolerated)
1/2 cup sunflower seed butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 8x8 pan with Earth Balance spread or shortening (I like to use Spectrum's Natural's Organic All Vegetable Shortening).
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the GF flour, xanthan gum, salt, and baking powder. Add in the chocolate chips and cashews.
In a large bowl, cream the Earth Balance and sunbutter together until smooth. Beat in the sugars. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla.
Fold the dry ingredient mixture into the wet ingredients until everything is well combined.
Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for around 35 minutes. Prepare for ultimate deliciousness.
All right, Mother Nature. Can we please get back to spring? Pretty, pretty please? With a cherry on top? The weather this weekend was so gorgeous and beautiful and fantastical. Like what end of April is SUPPOSED to be. I feel like we've totally earned a warm and lovely spring with the winter that we had (I love how I say "we." I wasn't even here for the worst of winter -- I was off in Madrid enjoying blue skies and warm sunshine. But, shhhh.) ANYWAY. We're back to like the beginning of March now with the raw wind and rain and it's so not cool, Mother Nature. Not cool at all.
Anyway, I digress. Onto the bigger and better things -- this cranberry coconut bread!!
Okay, so this bread might not be the prettiest looking bread ever, but oh man. It is DELICIOUS. I would have photographed more slices, but by the time I got around to photographing the bread, I may or may not have already eaten like the entire loaf. This bread all started with a purchase-on-a-whim from the grocery store. Langer's had a cranberry coconut juice, which I had never seen before and sounded quite intriguing, so into the cart it went. Unfortunately, actually drinking the juice was not as intriguing. It was, well, kind of odd. So, I needed to figure out what to do with an entire bottle of cranberry coconut juice. I love baking quick breads and thought about orange juice bread. Why not just swap out the orange juice for the cranberry coconut juice? Throw in some cranberries that were sitting in the freezer, add some shredded coconut, and bam! The cranberry coconut bread was born. The tangy-ness of the cranberries pairs so super well with the sweet flavor of the coconut. It's a little tropical from the coconut and a little New England-y from the cranberries. And the juice helps prevent the bread from getting too dry. SO GOOD. I think I need to make some more, like, right now.
PS - You want to know what is the most amazing baking tool for gluten free baking?? This bread loaf pan from King Arthur Flour made specifically for gluten free baking. It's taller and narrower than your standard loaf pan which is super helpful for gluten free baking. I use it ALL. THE. TIME. I discovered this little gem when I visited my mom's cousin last fall. She works at King Arthur Flour, so naturally we had to stop in and do a little shopping. While we were ooh-ing and ahh-ing over King Arthur's abundance of baking pans, she pointed out this bread loaf pan. Genius. AND I got to use her discount. Score!
Now, onto the recipe!
CRANBERRY COCONUT BREAD
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 50 - 60 minutes Yield: 1 9x4-inch loaf
1 large egg
3/4 cup cranberry coconut juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose gluten free flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons cold Earth Balance spread, cut into pieces
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup of shredded coconut, plus more for sprinkling on top
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9x4-inch loaf pan (or 9x5 works just fine) with shortening (I like to use Spectrum's Natural's Organic All Vegetable Shortening).
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, xanthan gum, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the Earth Balance to the dry mixture, blending the ingredients together with your fingers until the Earth Balance is well incorporated.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg with the cranberry coconut juice and vanilla extract.
Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and then stir in the cranberries and shredded coconut. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and sprinkle the top with extra shredded coconut.
Bake the bread for 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Let the bread cool for 10 minutes, then dig in and enjoy!
I started watching a few episodes of the new show Something Borrowed, Something New on TLC, and I have to say, I'm a little disappointed with the re-worked wedding dresses. I really like the idea behind the show and was super excited to see the old wedding dresses updated and revamped. Ever since reading Meg Cabot's Queen of Babble series a couple of years ago, I've been obsessed with the idea of reworking old wedding dresses. I think it would be so much fun and so cool to do! I just wish I knew how to sew. That would help.
Anyhow. I don't know if my expectations are just way too super high -- I mean, I really know nothing about restoring and working on wedding dresses -- but I haven't been all that taken with Kelly's re-worked and re-imagined wedding dresses. They're pretty, but they just sort fall a little short for me. I think one of the problems is that some of the dresses just don't have enough structure, and they end up looking a little nightgown-ish. I'll still watch it though -- I'm holding out hope that one of these reworked wedding dresses will be ah-mazing and blow the new one out of the water!
Okay. These macaroons. Well, I guess they're not really macaroons, technically, since there are no eggs in them. But they kind of are. They're sort of like oatmeal cookies, but soft. And spherical. With coconut and raspberries. And they're super delicious. I just love the combination of coconut and raspberry -- it's so tropical and spring-y, which is just what we need right now. Sigh.
Let me tell you, I went through a lot of trial and error and recipes before I got to these macaroons. After making these, I swore I would never make macaroons again. But, now I kind of want to make them again.
And I really kind of want to attempt traditional macaroons again. With Easter coming up, I'm feeling all macaroon-y.
Initially, I used frozen raspberries with making these macaroons. Did. Not. Work. I highly recommend using fresh raspberries if you can. The results are oh so much better. No matter how much I rinsed and dried off the thawed raspberries, they continually just turned to mush in the dough, creating a weird purple-y macaroon that didn't look at all appetizing. And that spread out all over the baking sheet. No good.
Use fresh raspberries.
I know they're expensive, but they'll make an amazing macaroon. Trust me.
Raspberry Oat Coconut Macaroons
gluten free, vegan
adapted from Healthy Food for Living
1 cup of coconut butter
1 cup of shredded unsweetened coconut
1 cup of gluten free old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 ounces fresh raspberries
Preheat oven to 300 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the coconut butter and all of the ingredients, minus the raspberries, in a bowl. Once the ingredients are well combined, gently fold in the raspberries. Mash the raspberries slightly while folding them into the "dough," but don't fully mush them in. Using a small spoon (I used a melon baller, which worked great!, scoop out the dough onto the parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the bottoms of the macaroons are slightly browned and toasted looking. The macaroons will be really soft, but don't worry! Take them out of the oven and let them sit for about 30 minutes -- they'll firm up. Placing the macaroons in the refrigerator will also help firm them up.
While you're enjoying your macaroons, close your eyes pretend that you're sitting in a lovely park and that it's sunny and 70 degrees. Ah, perfection.
First post of the year! Woo! 2013 -- here we are! Has anyone made any good new year's resolutions? I can't even remember the last time I did. I do remember back in elementary school, we had to write down a list of resolutions. I can't remember any of them. And I probably never actually did any of them either. I'm just so not good at making and keeping resolutions. Maybe one year I resolved to floss my teeth on a regular basis. I still don't floss my teeth on a regular basis. I'll floss my teeth for like a week, and then I'll decide to skip a day, and then it's all downhill from there. Maybe that should be my new year's resolution. I know a couple of years I've also resolved to exercise more. Pffftt. Exercise. And now here I am, posting a decadent dessert after all sorts of holiday feasting. Yup. Exercise? What. Naahhh. What you need is chocolate. You just can't go without chocolate. Plus, cocoa powder is good for you! Really. Promise. PLUS the raspberry also adds an extra boost of nutrition -- right? Raspberries are full of vitamin C and high in polyphenol antioxidants. See? Healthy. We'll just ignore all the sugar that goes into it.
Actually, I did make this flourless chocolate cake and raspberry sauce for our Christmas dinner dessert (along with a gluten-free vegan gingerbread cake -- you'll be seeing that soon!) And since my uncle is diabetic, this dessert is sugar free! (Well, sort of.) I used a mixture of stevia and agave nectar in the raspberry sauce, and stevia replaced the granulated sugar in the cake. This is just getting healthier by the second!
Flourless Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Sauce
gluten free, soy free, sugar free
4 oz of Enjoy Life semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup of Earth Balance Soy Free spread
3/4 cup stevia (you might want to use less, perhaps 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
16 oz raspberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup stevia
1/4 agave nectar (any kind)
1/4 cup water
For the cake: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter an 8 inch cake pan (I used a spring form pan, which I think may have been a 9 inch. This resulted in a very thin, almost torte-like cake. You can certainly do this, just take the cake out of the oven sooner. You can also certainly use a regular cake pan as well. That is all. Now back to the recipe.) In a double boiler, or, like I did, a glass bowl set on a saucepan with simmering water, melt the chocolate and the Earth Spread, stirring together. Once it's all melted and and smooth, remove from the stovetop and whisk in the stevia. (You can definitely use regular sugar if you want. I would actually use less stevia next time. I simply subbed in the stevia for the sugar 1:1. However, I felt that the taste of the stevia was a little overpowering, and I think I would probably use 1/2 cup or even 1/3 cup next time. Okay, back to the recipe again!) Whisk in the eggs. Sift the cocoa powder over the mixture and whisk that in as well. Pour the batter into the pan and place it in the middle of the oven for about 25 minutes, or until there is a thin crust on top of the cake. (If you're using a 9 inch pan or spring form pan, you may want to check the cake around 15 - 20 minutes into baking.)
For the raspberry sauce: Combine the raspberries, stevia, agave nectar, and water in a saucepan. Mix it all around and bring the saucepan to a simmer, continuing to stir. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until the sauce has reduced down a bit. Let cool, and then drizzle over flourless chocolate cake and dig in! This sauce would also be awesome on ice cream or lemon cake. Or pancakes! Or waffles! Mmmm!