7/27/2015

adventures in colorado

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Everyone needs a day off, right? Well, in this particular case, it was seven days in which I took a day off from just about everything, including blogging. In fact, I'm pretty sure the only time I flipped open my laptop during that week was to double-check directions or catch another episode of Parenthood on Netflix while resting my weary muscles. (All. The tears. How am I so far behind?!). And while this brief technological hiatus wasn't exactly planned (and lots of photographic evidence below to prove it wasn't a 100% fast), it felt pretty spectacular. 

Two things I did not walk away from for the week were fresh mountain air and amazing food, because there's no shortage of either in the Centennial State. That's right, brushing up on my state nicknames. And while the Garden State and I will be parting ways soon, very soon, and there's still lots of great recipes to share in the coming weeks with some native New Jersey summer fruits and veggies, here's a sneak peek at the next place we're going to call home. 

New recipe posts starting up again next week!





















7/13/2015

vegan banana swirl bread

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If you don't hate bananas (you don't, right?), then there's a good chance that whenever you've brought home a bunch, you've ended up with a few that didn't make it. We've all been there. But the thing is, if you don't hate bananas (because you have some right now, remember?), then you would also know that even if those dark brown/black bananas are no longer good for eating (um, maybe), they're the perfect recipe-starter for a number of tasty baked goods. Including this marbled banana bread, a small upgrade on a classic.


The first half of the upgrade is the addition of cocoa powder, hence the swirl. And as any good banana lover knows, chocolate and bananas are best friends forever. The other half of what makes this recipe awesome is that it's a vegan quick bread that lacks nothing in flavor or texture. Really. Grab some of those overripe bananas you were thinking about throwing away (gasp) and try this out.

For this recipe, you'll need:

1 cup very well-mashed banana (this will take about two or three, depending on size)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup almond milk (or any non-dairy milk that you like)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tablespoons (very) hot water


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together your banana purée, sugar, oil, milk and vanilla. Whisk together until smooth. In the same bowl, add in your flours, baking soda and salt. Fold together until just incorporated.


Scoop out about 1 cups worth of your batter into a smaller bowl. In a glass measuring cup (or some other small heat-proof container), whisk together your cocoa powder and 3 tablespoons of your (very) hot water until smooth. Whisk into your separated batter until your batter looks deliciously chocolate-y.

In your larger bowl with the rest of your batter, whisk in the other 3 tablespoons of (very) hot water until smooth.


Lightly grease an 8"x4" loaf pan. Scoop in 1/2 cup increments of each batter until all of your batters are in the pan. Use a butter knife and swirl it through your batter in a circular direction for just a few seconds---you don't want to mix everything together completely, but it also doesn't have to be perfect. You'll probably know when to stop mixing just by eyeballing it.


Transfer to the oven for 55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. It's still going to be a little sticky when it's hot, but as long as the toothpick isn't wet or batter-y, it should be perfect once it cools.

Inspired by Post Punk Kitchen.

Looking for some other ways to use up those brown bananas?

7/06/2015

vegan sour cherry handpies

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I don't have tons of experience with pies. Wait, correction: with making pies. The first time I made a pie (pumpkin, actually) was when I was a film student in Los Angeles and I was attending a Thanksgiving potluck for everyone who couldn't afford to go home for the holiday weekend. Turns out there are a lot of miles between California and New Jersey. It (the pie, and the day, actually) came out great, which left me feeling pleasantly surprised. I actually ate a fair amount of pumpkin pie while residing in the Sunshine State, which doesn't really make a whole lot of seasonal sense. There's even photographic evidence.


Anyway, even though I've had a few successes since then, this is my first venture into the handpie division of pies. I thought, what could be better than fresh sour cherry pie? Surely you know that the cardinal rule of making anything better is to cute-ify it by making it miniature.

Of course, let's just take a second to note the hazards of a first-time handpie making: making sure those edges are S-E-A-L-E-D is the ticket to 1. Not losing your filling, thus 2. Not losing your flavor and 3. Keeping them cute. Because that was the whole point, right?


For this recipe you'll need:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup Earth Balance, cubed and chilled (any other vegan butter brand will work)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar

1/4-1/2 cups ice water

3 cups fresh sour cherries, stemmed and pitted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon organic corn starch
1 teaspoon cinnamon, optional



Prep two baking sheets with silpat mats or parchment paper and set aside. 

In a large bowl, add your cherries, sugar, corn starch and cinnamon, if using. Mix together until your fruit is evenly coated. Truth? It's easiest (and most fun) to do this with your hands. 

In the bowl of a food processor, add your flour, salt and sugar. Pulse together until evenly mixed, about ten pulses. Add your vegan butter and pulse 10-20 times or until your butter has form pea-sized or smaller crumbs. Add your ice water in tablespoon increments and continue to pulse until your dough is sticky but not wet. (Test: pinch together a piece between your fingers. If it molds to the shape of the pinch, it's ready. If it crumbles, you need more water.)



Separate your dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least thirty minutes (an hour is better, if you can hold out).

After your dough has chilled, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Roll out your dough as you would for a regular pie crust. Use a round cookie or biscuit cutter (I used a small bowl, actually, that's about 5 inches across--whatever you have on hand will work!) to cut out individual tops and bottoms for each handpie. You should have enough dough to make 6 to 9, depending on the size you choose.


Add a small scoopful of pie filling to each bottom and quickly cover with an additional piece of pie crust. Pinch the edges together and seal with a fork. Use a small knife to cut a slit in the top to allow steam to escape. Repeat until you have enough pies to fit on one prepared pan. You can top these guys with a sprinkle of cinnamon or sugar if you want. Transfer to the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating halfway through. What you're looking for is a slightly golden crust that stays firm when you tap the edges.


These little guys are fun. I admit I had a little trouble keeping the filling in place for the first round, so some of them were a little more, err, sour, than what you'd normally expect from a sour cherry pie. Confusing, I know, but that's what happens when some of the sugary filling escapes. But they were still tasty and could fit in your pocket, if you wanted to wait (why, you weirdo) and if you have a thing for messy pockets. To each their own.


If you're not ready to stop at handpies: