Monday, July 28, 2014

Rain-y Day Food

I love to be in the kitchen when it's raining out. Chopping veggies with the window open so I can hear the rain... it's just so comforting. And this dish was the perfect cozy weather food. It's filling, colorful, warm, and quick to put together with ingredients you may already have in your pantry and fridge. This skillet meal IS BRIMMING with veggies, but I evened that out with some turkey bacon and pure maple syrup. I had to, I couldn't help myself.
Look at that satisfying pile of veg!

This is easily made with substituted veggies, anything you have on hand or like.
And next time I might try a savory version with a balsamic vinegar or reduction instead of the maple syrup, and toss in some spices. Spices was something I over looked this time around, I was thinking about it afterward and a pinch of nutmeg would have complemented the dish well.

Maple Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts

Yeild: 3-4 servings
1 lb. brussels sprouts, quartered
1 large sweet potato, diced
6 strips (turkey) bacon or about 2/3 cup meat/substitute of choice (it would be great with beans for a vegan version)
1 large onion, diced
2 T maple syrup
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook the turkey bacon and set aside. Allow to cool while the rest of the ingredients are cooking. When cool, chop into pieces.
(If you are making a vegan version, cook any meat substitute...even the beans! And set aside.)
2. Carmalize the onions in the bacon drippings that are left in the pan (for a vegan version use any oil you like, olive or even coconut would be only need enough so the onions can caramalize and don't stick to the pan)
3. Add the chopped sweet potato.
4. When the sweet potato is still somewhat firm (does al dente only apply to pasta?) add the quartered brussels sprouts. Allow this to cook for a few minutes until tender.
5. Add the bacon or whatever you previously cooked back into the mix.
6. Drizzle the maple syrup over the cooked veggies. Stir, flip, mix the whatever you have to to get that maple-y goodness distributed.
Salt and pepper to taste.


Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Banana Cake Challenge

My Mom's makes an excellent Banana Cake, that I and everyone else, LOVES. But I recently decided to try my hand at making one and see how it measured up. Could I make a banana cake equally as tasty, or dare I even imagine better?!?
So the only logical way to figure out how my cake compared to Mom's is to have a Banana Cake Challenge. Yah-huh.

And what a delicious challenge it was (I mean, how bad can bananas, sugar, and butter be?).

Mom's Best Banana Cake

My Banana Cake
Yeild: 8x8-inch cake

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt (I used non fat), or sour cream
1 1/2 t vanilla extract 
2 tablespoons butter, softened*
2 large bananas, mashed
1 egg (I used a flax egg substitute)
1 cup favorite GF flour mix (This time I used 1/2 cup sorghum and 1/2 cup arrowroot, but next time I'm going to use a mix of 2/3 cup ground oatmeal and 1/3 cup sorghum, just because I like the chewier texture of oats)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Butter and sugar the sides of and 8x8 inch baking dish.
Combine the sugar, yogurt, vanilla and butter (*coconut oil would *probably* work just fine for a vegan version, of course you could use a vegan butter substitute). Mash the banana and combine with the egg. Combine the banana and yogurt mixture.
Combine the flours, baking soda, and salt. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is golden brown (If you are using a glass dish, the baking time might be closer to 25-30 minutes). Allow to cool before frosting.
Pre-frosting of my banana cake

Remember how in the last post that I mentioned no pictures were taken of my Mom's Banana Cake, well...there was this one, and only this one. After this picture was taken, both slices were promptly eaten.

I topped mine of with an atrocious amount of the Fluffiest Frosting (You should only make a half batch of this for an 8x8 cake... otherwise you WILL have A LOT of fluffy frosting on your hands that you must do something continue to put on a cake in absurd quantities. Refer to pictures, oye.)

The Verdict:

Drumroll Please!
Mom's Best Banana Cake stands on the first place cake stand! Kuddos Mom, you deserve it!
Did I really think I could out bake THE Best Banana Cake? It's not called the Best Banana Cake for nothing.

I did decided however, that the cake I constructed would be good for those days when you are by yourself and in need of banana cake, because it takes less effort and fewer ingredients to throw together. And it makes an 8x8 cake instead of a 9x13, so that just makes it more of an individual size, right? ;)

What is one irreplaceable recipe that you have?

Cheers,     Suzy

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Mom's Banana Cake

When I think of birthdays, one of the first thoughts that come to mind is of banana cake. My mom used to make banana cake with cream cheese frosting for birthdays when I was a kid, and because of that I have a special sweet spot for mom's homemade banana cake. It wasn't until years later that I learned she liked making banana cakes for our birthdays because she used to eat Sara Lee's banana cake for birthdays when she was a kid, and was trying to recreate the cake! She tried several before baking up this one, and it is SO GOOD! It's cake at it's finest in my opinion, perfectly cake-y and scrumptious. I'm sure the Sara Lee cake is wonderful, but in my opinion Mom's is better because her version is gluten free, just for me! :) Ha!

This all being said, I can NOT believe I didn't take a picture of the final product! It was eaten too quickly to get a good one in, and in all honesty I was busy trying to make a banana cake of my own (check out the next post!). It was made in the morning before company, and polished off right after lunch. G. O. N. E. All done. But, the next chance I get, there will be so many pictures up of this cake, it will be overwhelming.

I've never had the Sara Lee Cake, nor will I get that chance because for starters it's no longer made and it was of course made with wheat; but with Mom's cake I'm not missing out on anything. According to her and other relatives however, it's pretty close to the original beloved Sara Lee Cake.

Mom's Best Banana Cake - Gluten Free
1/2 vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs, separated
1 cup or 3 medium mashed bananas
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup milk + 1 t lemon juice)*
3/4 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup potato starch
3/4 cup tapioca
3/4 t xanthan gum
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1 t salt

Cream Cheese Frosting

Preheat the oven 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare a 9x13 " pan (or for a layered cake, 2 9" round pans) with cooking spray and a little granulated sugar.
*If you are using the buttermilk substitute, mix any milk of your choice with the lemon juice now.
Cream together the shortening and sugar. Mix in the egg yolks, then mashed banana and buttermilk.
Combine the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Now add this flour mixture to the banana mixture and combine until there aren't any more lumps.
Separately, in a new bowl, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.
Carefully fold the whipped egg whites into the banana batter until completely incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan(s) and bake for about 30 minutes until the cake(s) are golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let the cake(s) cool in the pan before removing or topping with cream cheese frosting.

Here's one for the tips and trick's category, instead of flouring the greased cake pan so the cake doesn't stick, on special occasions like this I will sprinkle granulated sugar around the edges. The thin coating of sugar will crystallize a bit when baking and form a little crust around each and every slice of cake, making it just that much more special.

 Like This!

I was also pretty proud of the egg whites that were whipped into perfect little peaks. I think I'm finally getting it down, the trick is to just not quit....they'll get there.

I said this cake was delectable and gluten free, neither one of those things make it health food. Though I like to focus this blog around healthy AND gluten free eats, I also recognize not everyone is a fan of chia seeds and mashed chickpeas in their food like me. This being said, I am a proponent of the "everything in moderation" campaign; and especially when baking for company, using sugar and (as much as it pains me,) vegetable shortening is okay once in awhile.

But be on the lookout, I have quite a few super healthy recipes coming up! Most of them probably contain either chia seeds or chickpeas...if we are lucky, maybe even both! :D

What is your favorite birthday dessert?