It’s cruel, how an awful cold makes you crave homemade comfort food and drink but leaves you no energy to step foot in the kitchen. This take on a hot toddy requires very little effort, beyond shuffling and snuffling to the Keurig machine. (A tea pot can be used instead, if you have instant apple cider.)

Put a vanilla chai tea bag in your favorite cup. Brew an apple cider pod into your cup on the demitasse (4 oz) setting. Remove the pod and run another demitasse of just hot water.  You can add a little rum for medicinal purposes.

Tea and sympathy, easy as catching a cold.

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Apple Cider Chai

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While most of the country is enjoying the last days of summer, fall has blown into Southeast Alaska with buckets of rain and wind. After a damp afternoon, what you need is something comforting with a bit of spice.

Ingredients

3 sticks of unsalted butter
1 cup loosely packed brown sugar
2 cups sugar
4 large brown eggs
3/4 tbs vanilla
1 29oz can of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
4 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tbs pumpkin pie spice
1 block of cream cheese
2 tbs butter
1/4 cup milk or half and half
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 tbs orange zest
maple syrup to taste

How I Made It

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Prepare 10 mini-loaf pans by rubbing them with coconut oil, or line 12 jumbo muffin tins with double liners.

Cream the butter and sugars together in a standing mixer until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing them each in before adding the next. Mix in the pumpkin in large spoonsful (don’t just dump it in).  It will look mottled but that’s okay.  Add the vanilla.

Turn the mixer down to a low speed and add the dry mixture in small batches.  Combine the ingredients until you have a thick smooth batter.

Spoon the batter into the loaf pans/muffin tins. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a cake tester comes away clean.  Let the loaves/muffins cool completely.

Combine the cream cheese, milk, and orange zest in a standing mixer fitted with a whisk. Add the confectioner’s sugar in small batches so it doesn’t POOF and make a mess.  Add a little maple syrup for flavor. This is icing, not frosting so it will go on soft and a little drippy, but stays where you put it.

How They Turned Out

The perfect falltime treat, great for breakfast or dessert. They turned out moist with a good crumb. The maple orange icing is a lovely combination with the spicy pumpkin cake.

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It’s National Doughnut Day!!  Woo hoo!!  To celebrate, I made these healthy apple cinnamon mini donuts.  They are whole wheat and sugar free (unless you glaze them).

Ingredients

1 apple, peeled and diced
1 tbs cinnamon
1 tbs plus 1/2 cup Pyure organic stevia blend
2 tbs butter, melted and cooled
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup organic unfiltered apple juice
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
coconut oil for greasing the doughnut pan

How I Made Them

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare the mini doughnut pan by greasing it with coconut oil.

Combine the diced apple with cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of the stevia in a small bowl, stirring to coat all the apple pieces, and set it aside. In a large bowl, mix the flour, 1/2 cup of stevia, baking powder, nutmeg, and ginger (a fork works best). Add the apple juice, egg, and melted butter and mix until thoroughly combined.  Fold in the apple mixture.  You’ll have a thick, slightly sticky batter.

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Fill the mini doughnut pan with the batter.  Bake the doughnuts for 18 minutes or until a cake tester comes away clean.

How They Turned Out

Yummy and guilt free!  They aren’t super sweet like the usual doughnut, but are still very tasty. You can serve them warm, or wait a bit and glaze them (in which case they aren’t sugar free anymore).

Mini donut after (2)

 

When life gives you a big bag of lemons from Costco, you make lemon cake before they all spoil.

Ingredients

6 lemons, zested and juiced
6 eggs
1 cup vanilla greek yogurt
1 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cups unbleached flour
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter
8 ounces cream cheese
lemon extract
3 cups confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup Dickinson’s Lemon Curd

How I Made It

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare cake pans by rubbing with solid coconut oil (like you would with butter) and/or line the muffin tins with paper liners.

This recipe makes four 8 inch layer cakes or 3 dozen cupcakes or a combination of both.

Sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and soda, salt) together in a large bowl. Combine the eggs, oil, and lemon juice in the bowl of a standing mixer. Use a whisk and do this by hand — if you use the mixer it’s very sloshy and messy.

Put the bowl in the mixer, with the paddle attachment.  Add the flour mixture in batches, alternating with the yogurt, mixing at medium-low speed. Once combined, you can turn up the speed to add a little air to the batter so it’s less dense. Just be careful not to overwork the batter.

Fill the cake pans/muffin tins three quarters full.  Bake for 25 minutes or until a cake tester comes away clean but for a few crumbs.  Let the cakes cool completely.

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To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter (both at room temperature) together until smooth.  Add all the lemon zest plus a few drops of the lemon extract. Beat in the confectioner’s sugar in batches, remembering to turn down the speed of the mixer so you don’t have a giant POOF of sugar.  Continue until you have lots of smooth, fluffy frosting.

To assemble the cake, put one layer upside down on a cake plate. Spread the lemon curd over the top.  It helps if you work the lemon curd with a spatula in a bowl before spreading it on the cake.  Put the second layer on top, right side up.  Using a frosting spatula or other thin, flexible knife, frost the cake.  Decorate with something festive (I used Mike and Ikes). Because of the lemon zest, this frosting is not great in a piping bag (the zest gets stuck in the decorator tip).

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How It Turned Out

I was nervous about the olive oil (I mean, it goes with lemons but does it go with cake?). And the yogurt was because I had no sour cream. Even so. . .

This would win the Great British Bake Off!  The cake is the perfect consistency, neither too dense nor too light.  The taste is a lovely burst of lemon without being too sour or too citrusy.  And I love how the zest shows through in the frosting.

 

 

 

 

Getting old is not for sissy. Thankfully, I’m no sissy even when it means learning to avoid foods that cause inflammation, like refined carbohydrates and sugar. Sugar — sweet, sweet sugar — is apparently bad for my knees.

So began the adventure to transform my lovely, yummy way of eating into something that is kinder to my joints. I’d already given up artificial sweetener, and substituting Stevia seems to be  acceptable to my tongue. Giving up wheat and corn is less acceptable, but doable. Until you’ve had your 26th scrambled egg muffin for breakfast and you would do almost anything for a waffle.

So this morning, I decided to give coconut flour a try.  I bought it a while ago but just didn’t believe it would be good for baking. Turns out it works.

Ingredients

4 mashed ripe bananas
3 cage free brown eggs
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup organic, no sugar added peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 tbs cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips

How I Made Them

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin (12) with paper liners. Use 2 if the liners are thin — these are oily muffins.

Combine the mashed bananas, eggs, vanilla, and melted (and cooled) butter. Then, mix in the peanut butter until it’s all thoroughly blended. Add the dry ingredients and stir until it’s all blended, then fold in the chocolate chips.

Spoon the muffin batter into the muffin tins, filling each about 3/4 full.  Bake for 15-18 minutes or until a cake tester comes away clean.

How They Turned Out

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These muffins are not homemade cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing, but they’re good enough with coffee on the way out the door. Just 9g of sugar (compared to the usual muffin’s 30+ grams of sugar), so they won’t anger my knees.

This year’s holiday dessert features the spectacular Egg Nog Poundcake I discovered last year. It’s easy peasy to make and looks gorgeous.

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All you need is one Egg Nog Poundcake (sans cranberries), 3 cups of cherry pie filling, and homemade whipped cream. You can add a little egg nog or nutmeg to your whipped cream, if you want.  Cut up the pound cake into cubes.  Alternate the layers of cake, cherries, and whipped cream in pretty glasses (for individual servings) or a trifle dish (for a buffet centerpiece). You can make it ahead and leave it, covered with saran wrap, in the refrigerator until you are ready for dessert. Just leave the last dollop of whipped cream for right before you serve them. FANCY!!

These are the perfect autumn sweet, great alone or with coffee or a little vanilla ice cream.

Ingredients

2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup whole rolled oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup organic pumpkin pie filling or 1 cup pumpkin puree plus 1 tbs pumpkin pie spice
1 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup light or medium brown sugar
1 egg
1 tbs vanilla
1 cup (or more) dark chocolate chunks

How I Made Them

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line your cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Cream the butter and sugars together in the standing mixer.  While that goes, combine the flour, oats, and baking soda.  If you’re using plain pumpkin puree, mix the pumpkin pie spice into the dry ingredients.

When the butter and sugars are all mixed together, add the egg and vanilla.  Once those are combined, add the dry ingredients and pumpkin, alternating between the two.  When that’s all combined, remove the bowl of cookie batter from the mixer.  Fold the chocolate chunks in with a spatula.  Do not try and do this with the mixer — it will bend your beater.

Drop spoons of the cookie batter onto the prepared cookie sheets (you can make small, medium, or large cookies).  Bake the cookies for 12-13 minutes. Remove the cookies to a wire rack or counter top to cool.

How They Turned Out

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These are soft, cakey and super yummy — especially for breakfast.