Vegan Banana Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache

Round two for Easter desserts included these healthy and delicious banana cupcakes which I found courtesy of one of my favorite blogs. And rather than using the frosting, I opted for a glossy ganache. The downside was my ganache didn’t have the consistency and gloss I was going for. However, using the garnishes helped with this!

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Ingredients
- 3 ripe bananas, mashed
- 2 c flour
- 1/4 c canola oil
- 1 c white sugar
- 1 c almond milk
- 1 Tbls baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp apple cider

1. In one bowl, use a hand mixer to blend the oil, milk, vanilla and apple cider
2. In a separate bowl, mash the bananas and sugar
3. Add the sugary mashed bananas to the oil mixture, use the hand mixer to get everything extra smooth
4. And in a third bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry. Yields about 18 cupcakes

Chocolate Ganache
- 1/3 c almond milk
- 1/3 c semisweet chocolate chips
- 2 Tbls maple syrup

1. Bring almond milk to a boil, add the chips and syrup, stir until smooth
2. Remove from heat and let sit for several minutes, until thick and glossy
3. Dip the cupcakes into the ganache, top with desired treats. I used dried bananas and walnuts

Easter Banana Cake

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I was invited to join my friend and her family this Easter and I offered to provide the dessert. I had two recipes in mind, one being this two-layer banana cake with penuche frosting. I modified it slightly to incorporate my friend’s maple syrup, which we spent hours cooking down the previous day.

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The toughest part with this cake was waiting several hours before tasting it. I typically prefer testing recipes before sharing them with a large group of people, but I rolled the baking dice and odds were in my favor. It was a hit!

Ingredients

- 1 c sugar
- 1/2 c maple syrup
- 1/2 c butter, room temperature
- 2 eggs, separated
- 2 bananas, mashed
- 1/2 c buttermilk
- 1 2/3 c white flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- chopped walnuts and dehydrated banana for garnish

1. Heat the oven to 350F
2. In a mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Next, add the following ingredients one at a time until they’re incorporated: maple syrup, egg yolks, bananas, and buttermilk
3. In a separate bowl, whisk the dry ingredients. Add to the wet mixture
4. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, and fold into the batter
5. Spray an 8″ or 9″ cake pan with cooking spray. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean

Penuche Frosting

- 1/2 c butter
- 1/4 c milk
- 1 c light brown sugar
- 2 c powdered sugar

1. Melt the butter and brown sugar in a pan for 2 minutes, stir continuously
2. Add the milk and bring to a boil. Continue stirring. Remove from heat and let cool until lukewarm
3. In a mixer, slowly add powdered sugar to the butter/sugar mixture
4. This batch of frosting just covered the cake. Using garnish helped for spots that weren’t as thick as I’d have liked

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Cocoa Cinnamon Almonds and Spicy Maple Glazed Almonds

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I swear I must have been a squirrel in my former life. I am absolutely in love with nuts! They are a great way to acquire a protein fix, get a boost of energy, or dress up meals like salads and smoothies.

Today I went for a rich and dark cocoa dusted almond with notes of cinnamon and a sweet and spicy almond with sweetness from local maple syrup. While I enjoyed the rich cocoa dusted almonds, the spicy maple glazed were my favored batch. Definitely give these recipes a try!

Cocoa Cinnamon Almonds

- 1 c raw almonds
- 2 tsp honey
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 2 Tbls cocoa
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- pinch of salt

1. Roast almonds in oven at 350F for about 10 minutes
2. Transfer to a small pan, add honey and vanilla until coated
3. In a ziplock back, add cocoa, cinnamon and salt, shake until they’re well combined. Next, add the almonds. Shake, again, and let cool on a sheet pan

Spicy Maple Glazed Almonds
- 2 1/2 c raw almonds
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp maple extract
- 1 Tbls maple syrup
- 1/4 c sugar
- 1 tsp cayenne
- 1/2-1 tsp sea salt

1. Roast almonds on a sheet pan at 350F for 10 minutes
2. In a pot, add oil, extract and syrup. Add almonds, stir until coated
3. Combine sugar, cayenne and salt into a tupperware/pyrex container or something with a lid
3. Transfer almonds into sugar mixture, shake until all almonds are coated. Let cool on a sheet pan

A Night in the Life of a Caterer

I’ve been working at a local natural foods store in town and we often cater events such as conferences and weddings. Last weekend we catered a dinner for a Wellness Retreat at the nearby hotel. The menu consisted of a spring salad
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sous vide chicken (sorry, not veg)
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and chocolate avocado mousse
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I was in charge of the latter, the dessert. I have attended many conferences and weddings in my day, and I knew the staff behind the scenes put forth a lot of work, but I never realized just how much work went into preparing and executing such an event takes.
In the end, it was truly a remarkable experience. I worked a 60 hour work week and tested over 10 varieties of mousse before settling on this one. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Ingredients
- 1 can coconut milk
- 10 cardamom pods, crushed
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 avocadoes
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 c cocoa powder
- 1-2 tsp grand marnier
- juice and zest from 1 blood orange
- 4 Tbls agave
- 1 Tbls maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp salt

1. Simmer coconut milk with cardamom and cinnamon for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, strain spices, reserve 1/3 c
2. Blend 1/3 c coconut spiced milk mixture with remaning ingredients. Chill overnight. Garnish with mint and candied blood orange

Raw Chocolate Cashew Tarts

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Sinful. Delectable. Delicious. Addictive. These four words will likely come to mind when you taste this simple, 5-ingredient, raw dessert. I tried these at room temperature, refrigerated and frozen and I must say they are best frozen. However, feel free to play around with them. I also made these into smaller servings by using a cupcake and mini-cupcake pan. The mini sizes make for perfectly portioned treats. I highly recommend you sharing these at potlucks or get-togethers. Although, you may need to double the recipe size. Below makes 2 tart sized/6 cupcake sized/12 mini-cupcake sized desserts.

Sweet eating!

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1/2 c raw cashews
  • 1/2 c raisins or dates

Filling

  • 1/2 c raw cashews (soaked for 4-6 hours)
  • 1/4 c water
  • 3 Tbls cocoa powder
  • 3 Tbls agave
  • pinch salt
  1. In a food processor, pulse crust ingredients until the form a crumbly consistency. Press into greased pan of choice
  2. Next, blend the filling ingredients
  3. Add filling to the crust. Freeze for an hour or until firm

 

 

(recipe courtesy of the amazing, Raw on $10)

Butterscotch Coconut Crunch Cookies

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It’s not every day I use butterscotch in my baking. For one, it’s not vegan. And two, I find it way too sweet for my liking. However, my dad is quite fond of the flavor and when I saw this recipe, I thought I’d be the delightful daughter that I am and whip him up a batch. The cookies turned out really well. I modified it slightly and you can certainly tweak it to your liking. Feel free to sub the egg for a flax egg (1 tbls ground flax+3 tbls water) and/or chocolate or carob chips to make the dessert vegan friendly.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 C canola oil
  • 1/2 C light brown sugar
  • 1/4 C granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 C flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 C unsweetened coconut
  • 3/4 C crushed chowmein noodles
  • 1 C butterscotch chips
  • pinches of sea salt to top cookies with

Directions

1. Mix the canola oil through vanilla in a large bowl. Beat until everything is well combined

2. Sift together the baking soda and flour. Add the dry to the wet. Fold in the coconut, noodles and chips

3. Using a teaspoon, spoon batter onto a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake in a 350F preheated oven for about 12 minutes

Raw Cinnamon Roll Bites

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I have had a hankering for a good cinnamon roll lately. However, I am always disappointed after eating one. All of those empty carbs, fat, and sugar makes me feel a bit blah afterwards.

So, I put my innovation hat on and came up with this idea for a raw cinnamon roll bite. It seriously satisfied my craving in one bite…okay maybe in two or three bites…One thing is for sure, I didn’t feel like junk afterwards.

I will warn you, these are ridiculously addicting.

Ingredients

- 1 c raw cashews, soaked for 2-3 hours
- 1 1/4 c pitted medjool dates*
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon

1. Blend everything together in a food processor. Roll into balls. Freeze for an hour or refrigerate for 3 hours to help the bites firm up. (*note, you can soak your dates in hot water before blending, this will help break them down. I left them unsoaked, which made blending a little trickier, but I like to see the chunks in the bites…your call)

Raw Bruschetta Crackers

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Well, I did it, I made my first ‘raw’ cracker. It was quite the experience. I pulled out my dusty dehydrator and prayed to the raw gods that this trial didn’t blow up in my face…literally. See, I have this weird concern that my dehydrator will somehow go on the fritz while I’m sleeping and burn my house down. I know, cuckoo. Seriously though, who leaves an appliance on for 8 hours?!

Okay, so aside from my irrational cooking concerns, the raw gods were on my side. The crackers weren’t a total fail, but have room for improvement. I may have slightly overcooked them as they turned out a bit fragile and crumbly. However, the flavor and texture are spot on.

Here is how you go about making a raw cracker…

Ingredients

- 1 1/2 c raw almonds (soaked for at least 4 hours beforehand)
- 1/4 c ground flax + 3/8 c water
- 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 4 halves of sun-dried tomato, finely chopped
- salt if you want it

1. Drain almonds and pulse in a processor until you get a grainy consistency
2. Mix all ingredients together. Spread flat on a dehydrator sheet and heat at 145F for 45 minutes
3. Remove and cut into desired shapes. Return to dehydrator, change temp to 105F and heat for 4 hours. Depending on the desired firmness, let sit in the dehydrator longer if you’d like. I let mine sit overnight at the lowest setting, 95F. Not sure I would recommend that. Play around with this part!

Everything Cookies

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I’m reuniting with a friend that I met in South Africa this weekend and cannot wait! To make the day extra special, I made some awesome “everything cookies.” I call them everything because, well, it has a bit of everything in them; somewhat resemblant an everything bagel. They turned out a little crispy and crunchy, which is normally not my style of cookie (I’m a firm believer that all cookies should be soft and chewy), yet I love the complexity of each bite. You never know what you’ll get, maybe a piece of pretzel or perhaps a bite of granola… Forget all of those boring, generic cookies. Have fun and get creative with these everything cookies!

Ingredients

- 1 1/2 c flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 sticks softened butter (I used Earth Balance)
- 1 c sugar
- 1/2 c packed brown sugar
- 1 flax egg (1 Tbls flax + 3 Tbls water)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 c chocolate chips
- 1/2 c crushed pretzels
- 1/2 c pecans
- 1 c granola (highly recommend this one)

1. Whisk together the dry ingredients, set aside
2. Cream butter and sugars. Once they are well mixed, add the flax egg and vanila. Stir for a minute or two then slowly add the dry mixture.
3. After the flour has been added, fold in the remaining ingredients. Use a small ice cream scooper to measure out cookies. Roll into balls and place an inch or two apart. Freeze for about 20 minutes (or, if you live in a frozen tundra such as myself, let them sit outside for 10-15 minutes)
4. Preheat oven to 375F and bake for about 13 minutes
5. I made about 32 cookies with this recipe!

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Thai Cucumber Salad

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The flavors of this cucumber salad are amazing. And the best part? It is light and healthy! You simply need a few ingredients that are listed below and your cucumber salad will be ready in just a couple of minutes.

Ingredients

- 2 cucumbers, peeled, sliced
- 2 roasted red peppers, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tbls tamari
- 2 Tbls vegan fish sauce
- 1 Tbls lime juice
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- 1/4 c cilantro, chopped
- 1/4 c cashews
- 1/4 c green onion, chopped

1. Slice cucumbers and dice peppers, set aside
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, tamari, fish sauce, lime juice and cayenne. Add to sliced cucumbers. Top with cilantro, cashews and green onion