Posted by: karascrumbs | April 8, 2012

Flavor twist on fig bars

When I last wrote about making fig bars, I said I was going to try different flavors eventually.  So recently I decided to do just that.  I love dried apricots and really thought that apricot bars sounded good.  So I used the same recipe and just substituted the filling.  First I made the crust.  Then I pureed apricots with a little bit of water in a food processor.  I didn’t add the vanilla to the puree like the recipe calls for.  For some reason I didn’t think the vanilla would be as good with the apricots and I certainly didn’t want it to overpower it.  I rolled out the dough and spread the filling on top, folded the dough in half and baked it.  I felt that the fig bars could have used more filling so I pureed a whole bag of dried apricots and used about three fourths of the puree-I wanted there to be a lot of filling.   I am in love with these apricot bars.  I think I might even like them more than the fig bars.   I am enjoying them cold out of the refrigerator.  A) they keep longer refrigerated and B) almond flour products tend to get a little gummy if left at room temperature, but not so when you refrigerate them.  With the success of this recipe, I know I’ll be trying other flavor fillings as well.

Apricot puree.

     

Man, a rough week and now I have a super busy weekend and week ahead.  I am currently taking a break from writing a 5 page research paper for one of my classes.  Then I also have to write a journal for my skills class and study for two exams.  So I should probably get back to homework now.  But I wanted to share this recipe and I really wanted to share the following pictures that I finally remembered and took this week:

My baker pose!

My chef pose!

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Posted by: karascrumbs | April 8, 2012

Strawberries!

It’s strawberry season!!  One of my favorite times of year.  I absolutely love strawberries.  And in honor of strawberry season, Thursday is National Strawberry Shortcake Day.

Just kidding.   Not that Strawberry Shortcake.  You know the kind I mean:  soft crumbly biscuit topped with ripe juicy strawberries, and if you can have it, a swirl of whipped cream topping.  I’ll be making myself some strawberry shortcake for dessert on Thursday and in case you want to make some for yourself, I thought I would share this recipe for biscuits.  They make a wonderful base for strawberry shortcake.

Coconut Flour Biscuits
3/4 cup coconut flour
2 tsp. vanilla powder/extract
3/4 tsp. baking soda
2 T. coconut oil (melted)
1 cup + 2 T. water
3 T. flax meal
1/16 tsp. vanilla stevia

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix flax meal with water and set aside to thicken.
Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Stir in the wet ingredients.
Make drop biscuits on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake for 20-25 min.
Makes 6 scones
Allow to cool fully on sheet before moving.  They are very crumbly, but will firm up.

While these do make a wonderful strawberry shortcake, they are also deliciously enjoyed by themself.  I would store them in the refrigerator for best keeping, but I think they taste best at room temp or slightly warmed in the microwave.  They freeze well also.

So here’s to National Stawberry Shortcake Day!!!   I plated two versions.  I prefer option two (you get more strawberries 🙂 ).  This was such a nice cool crisp refreshing snack for a hot summer day.  I’m definitely looking forward to having another one on Thursday.

         

Enjoy!!

And by the way…..I do love the Strawberry Shortcake character; always have, always will.

Posted by: karascrumbs | April 8, 2012

Happy Easter (part 2)

It felt great to get in the kitchen and bake yesterday after a stressful week.   I made myself some pumpkin pie for my Easter dessert.  Actually, I decided to make it into bars instead of a regular pie.  Not sure why, it just appealed better to me that way.  It tastes just the same and is super yummy.  I added a small drizzle of coconut butter and two toasted pecans. Yum!

The pumpkin pie bar I enjoyed for dessert today while the rest of my family had s'more ice cream pie.

I love my mom.  There are so many reasons why I love my mom.  Her sense of humor is just one of those reasons.  Since I can’t eat all of the chocolate and candy, she has to come up with something else to fill my Easter basket with.  So I got four little items and one big item………

Yep, a fire extinguisher…….in my Easter basket.  I sat and read the directions right away so that if I ever have to use it (and let’s pray that I don’t) I will know how to.  Our oven is clean right now and I will make sure it stays that way; but I guess now I’m ready for the worse.  Thanks Mom!

So what did you get in your Easter basket??  I bet nothing as exciting as me!
Happy Easter!

Posted by: karascrumbs | April 7, 2012

Happy Easter!!

Happy Easter everyone!

Well, it’s been one long and bad week for me, but I won’t go into details.  I’m quite thankful the week is over and I now have two days to rest before another school week.  It was a busy two weeks of baking for me; however, none of the baking was for myself 😦  I made lots of Easter cookies for friends and a party.  I know everyone enjoyed the cookies.

Some of the cookies I made for Easter.

Easter nests and PB cup cookies.

Lazy Ladylocks.

 

I had my first day of cooking at school this week.  We diced onions, concassed tomatoes, roasted and sliced peppers, made garlic paste, sliced mushrooms, minced and cleaned parsley, and chiffonaded basil.  Then we toasted pine nuts.  We then sweated all of the vegs in a pan with oil and made a sauce.  My teacher made pasta and everyone else made their dinner by mixing the sauce with the pasta and topping it with the nuts and herbs.  I gave mine to another boy in class and apparently it was quite good.  We have to take pictures of everything we make and then create a journal entry with it, so I guess I’ll share my photo.  Soon I’ll be posting a picture of me in my chef uniform!

pasta (week 1 skills class)

 

I’ve been craving pumpkin pie lately.  So hopefully later today I’ll get to baking one so that tomorrow I can have dessert while the rest of my family has their dessert.  I know pumpkin isn’t very Easter-y, but it’s what sounds good to me right now, so why not make one.
I hope you all have a wonderful day tomorrow and remember the true reason we are celebrating this holiday.

 

PS: A special happy birthday to my brother today! Love you bro 🙂

Posted by: karascrumbs | March 28, 2012

Vanilla Lavender Scones

Since I have the week off from classes, I am doing quite a bit of baking to stock my freezer for when I have classes and don’t have time to bake.  So the first thing I made this week was a new recipe for scones.  I thought lavender scones sounded really good and would be different from the other breakfast items I already had.  They seem light and spring-ish to me; perfect for the warmer spring season.

I did not create the recipe that I used, however, I did change a few things.  When I make them the next time, I think I’ll change a few more things.  First, here is the recipe as I made it.

Vanilla Lavender Scones
adapted from this recipe
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 1/2 tsp. dried lavender
1 T. vanilla powder/extract
1 flax egg (or real egg)
2 T. coconut oil (melted)
1/2 cup water
1/16 tsp. stevia powder

Preheat oven to 380 degrees.  In a small bowl make flax egg and set aside to thicken.
In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients.
Add the coconut oil and water and mix well.  Lastly, add the flax egg and stir to combine.
Remove the dough from the bowl and form into a large disk about 1 in. thick. on a cookie tray lined with parchment paper.
Slice the disk into 8 scones.
*Alternately you can make drop scones.
Bake the scones for 20-25 min.
Let the scones fully cool on the tray before you move them.  They are fragile while they are hot.
Enjoy with lavender tea. 🙂

       

The changes I will make next time:
-make lavender tea and use that as the water for a stronger lavender flavor
-use less vanilla powder; only 1/2 T.
-use all almond flour.  the coconut flour was too overpowering and (although good) not what I wanted.
-make drop scones! (so much easier, and hold together better)

For some reason I was really craving a scone made in traditional scone shape: a large round disk cut into triangles.  After making these scones this way, next time I will make drop scones.  They fully satisfied my shape craving, but drop scones are easier and I think they hold together better.  Also, they are easier to individually wrap for transport.  And they’ll taste the same in either shape.  I really do enjoy the taste of these scones.  The lavender and coconut is a nice mix and vanilla makes everything better.  They are a perfect breakfast treat and now I want to go to class so I have an excuse to eat another one!

Now if I only I can remember to make lavender tea when I take one to class for breakfast.  🙂

Posted by: karascrumbs | March 24, 2012

Cinnamon Bars

It sure is nice to have a clean oven and not have to worry about it catching on fire anymore.  Since my oven is back up and running, I was able to bake something yesterday.

Yesterday was my last day of class for this quarter.  I had a final exam and then got let out early.  So I had lots of time to come home and bake something (or two things for that matter).

One of my favorite breakfast treats used to be the cinnamon chip scone from Panera Bread.  However, I sadly can no longer eat them.  But I have been craving one for a few weeks now.  I tried to make a similar version about two weeks ago and they weren’t that good, so I didn’t post them.  But then I saw a recipe for cinnamon bars and although they sounded much different, I thought I would try the recipe before I winged it again on my own.  Let me start by saying that not everything I make is perfect.  Baking is a science and sometimes a recipe takes some experimentation to turn it into something good.  They aren’t the best thing I have made, but I still wanted to post them.  So I made these bars yesterday and at first I was highly disappointed.  I ate one cold after it was set and the texture was just horrible.  I tried heating it in the microwave and that made it worse.  It was really gummy.  Imagine a cake that was only baked for half the called for time; it’s somewhat cooked, but the inside is still gooey and gummy.  It doesn’t make for a good texture or taste.  But before throwing them away, I decided I didn’t have much to lose by baking them.  I didn’t think they could get much worse, but if baking didn’t help, then I would pitch them.  So I put them in the oven for 35min. and then tried one.  They were much better!  They almost tasted like a cinnamon scone.  I tried the baked version both room temperature and heated in the microwave and definitely preferred it heated in the microwave.  After this long process was all said and done, I ended up with a cinnamon scone-like bar.

Cinnamon Bars
original recipe came from www.sunfood.com
1/2 cup each almonds and walnuts, soaked
1 cup chia powder (you could prob. sub your favorite flour)
2 dates
1 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup coconut oil
3 T. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. vanilla powder
water (possibly)

You can soak the nuts together for about 6 hours.  Then drain the water.
Add the nuts, dates, and coconut to a food processor and process until all is well crumbled.
Add the remaining dry ingredients and process until well mixed.
While processor is running, drizzle in coconut oil and process until a ball of dough forms.  You may need a little water depending on what type of flour you use.  I ended up adding about 3 T. water
Press the dough into an 8×8 pan.
Now you have two options:  you can refrigerate them until set and try them raw.  Or you can bake them in a 350 degree oven for 30-35min.  I think mine took 35min. because they were cold from the refrigerator.  Room temp. bars might take less time.
*I highly recommend you bake them.
Makes 9-12 bars

 

Will I make these again, probably not.  But they’re not too bad of a (baked) cinnamon bar as long as you aren’t expecting a real scone.  I’m not sure they will suffice as a breakfast bar on the days I go to class since I much preferred them warm, but I could have one for an evening treat.  I’ll soon be trying again to make a real cinnamon scone.

Posted by: karascrumbs | March 17, 2012

A science experiment and lesson learned

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!!

I have had a rather productive day.  However, not everything has been good productivity.  I did a few things this morning, did some homework, did some laundry, and after lunch had planned to bake something.  So I had some lunch and started to preheat the oven.  I walked away to gather my ingredients and supplies, came back to the oven to check the temperature on the oven, and noticed something out of the corner of my eye.  I looked down and through the oven door saw a fire!  My oven was on fire!!  I immediately turned off the oven and called my mom and asked if I should call 911.  She said to try the little extinguisher that was next to the oven.  I grabbed it, read the directions (not a good thing-it caused a delay that could have been worse), but was unable to make it work.  Luckily in that time lapse and by leaving the door closed the fire extinguished itself and I did not have to call 911.  I was very relieved.  So I called my mom back and said the fire put itself out.  I let the oven cool for a while and then spent about an hour cleaning it with my mom.  It looks really nice now and hopefully I should have no more fires.  I have no idea what caught on fire because anytime I make something that might make a mess, I put a tray beneath it to catch anything that might drip.  And from now on I will try to keep the oven cleaner and hopefully prevent any more fires.  So neadless to say, I didn’t get anything baked today.  I’m going to give the oven a day to air out and then try it again tomorrow.  I have had enough excitement for the day; I think maybe I’ll study and prepare for my final this coming week.

That’s right……it’s finals time.  I can’t believe I have been in classes for seven weeks already.  Time has flown by.  I have enjoyed two of my three classes, but am thankful my freshman studies class will be over on Tuesday.  I have to give a powerpoint presentation on Tuesday and turn in a paper.  The class is only pass/fail and I don’t get credit for it, so I can’t say I put a ton of effort into it.  Unfortunately it’s one of those classes that every student has to take.  Then on Thursday I have to give a demonstration speech with another classmate on how to make cake pops.  I’m not a fan of group projects and just hope that this one goes well.  And on Friday I have a final exam for my other class.  Luckily it is all multiple choice, so I’m not worried.  I am looking forward to next quarter because I will have my first kitchen class.  It’s a basic skills class so we won’t really be baking anything, but I’ll still be in the kitchen and get to wear my uniform.

So yes, I had an unintentional experiment today that confirmed a lesson I learned many years ago in science class:  if you prevent oxygen from reaching a fire, the fire will eventually put itself out.

Note to self: having a fire extinguisher sounds like a good idea, but you should know how to use it and be sure that it is going to work.  Reading directions while a fire is burning in front of you is not a good thing, serious damage could occur.  And not being able to pull the safety is just as bad.  So maybe I should invest in a new extinguisher; ours is really old and I can’t work it.  I pray I never have to use one though.

Was your St. Patty’s Day as exciting as mine?

Posted by: karascrumbs | March 7, 2012

Trail Mix in a jar

I’ve made pecan butter twice now and recently decided to make a batch of walnut butter to try something different.  I prefer the taste of walnuts to pecans, but when made into a butter, I preferred the pecans to the walnuts.  Interesting.  Then, I don’t know what sparked my mind, but I thought combining apricots with the walnut butter sounded like a good idea.  So I put some apricots into the food processor and pulsed them in with the walnut butter.  It was a good dip to eat by the spoon, but I also made some plain crackers to put it on.

Then that idea sparked another idea.  Why can’t I stir other things into a nut butter and make a whole concoction out of it?  And thus my trail mix in a jar was born.  I briefly considered what was typically in a trail mix: nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and sometimes chocolate(but not for me).  So I took a jar of roasted almond butter that I had and divided it in half.  I originally divided it in half because I didn’t think I wanted to make an entire jar’s worth.  Then once I started adding ingredients, my mind was going in two different directions.  So I was glad to have two half jars to work with.  In both halves I stirred pecan chips, shredded coconut, and flax seeds.  Into one jar I stirred chopped apricots and toasted pumpkin seeds and into the other jar I stirred chopped dates and a pinch of cinnamon.  At first I thought the pumpkin seeds would be a weird addition, but I tried just a few first and realized that they were quite yummy with the apricots.  I’ve been enjoying this by the spoonful, however, it also tastes good with some crackers.  It’s a great afternoon pick-me-up snack full of protein and just a hint of sweetness from the fruit.  It’s kind of like a meal in a jar.  My favorite is the apricot-pumpkin seed mix; however, the pinch of cinnamon was a great addition.  Cinnamon and almond butter go great together and so do cinnamon and dates.

I don’t know if I can really call this a recipe because I didn’t measure anything.  I just kept adding and stirring until it was what I liked.  So choose your ingredients and pour away.  A helpful hint: it is easier to stir the almond butter and mix in the ingredients if you microwave the almond butter for 45-60 sec. first.

Trail Mix in a Jar
almond butter
chopped nuts
shredded coconut
flax seeds
toasted pumpkin seeds
apricots, chopped
dates, chopped
cinnamon (optional: I used about 1/2 tsp. for 8oz/1 cup of butter)

Heat the almond butter in the microwave; but not too long, it can burn.  Stir in ingredients, one at a time, until you have your desired mix.  Enjoy!!  Try not to eat it all at once. 🙂

Apricot-Pumpkin Seed-Almond

Cinnamon-Date-Almond

I know, they look the same, but honestly, they are different.  And both so delicious!!

I also toasted up some of the fresh coconut that I have.  I put cinnamon on some pieces and left some pieces plain.  I preferred the pieces with cinnamon.  If you can’t tell, I looooooove cinnamon.  I put it on anything and everything.  It makes everything taste just a little bit better.

Posted by: karascrumbs | March 2, 2012

I’m nuts for coconut!!

I love coconut.  I love shredded coconut in baked goods or trail mix, coconut oil on veggies and in baked goods, coconut butter by the spoonful or in baked goods or with nuts or other items, and I like to use coconut flour to bake with.  However, I have never had fresh coconut; until yesterday that is.

You see, I was grocery shopping last week and saw a young Thai coconut and decided to buy one.  I didn’t know how to open it or what to do with it, but I wanted to try it.  So with the help of my dad last night, we got the coconut open and the meat scraped out.  I haven’t decided what I want to do with the meat yet.  So far I have just been enjoying it plain.  I want to try toasting some in the oven, but I haven’t had the time.  I had class all day today and yesterday.  So maybe tomorrow, if I still have some meat left, I’ll try toasting some.  Today I added some of the meat to a dish of fresh berries and it was a yummy snack.  It is quite salty and I find that it tastes better with something else to cut the salt.  However, my dad preferred it plain.  I read that using it for a smoothie is good, but I’m not sure that I want to use it all to make a smoothie.

The worst part is getting the coconut open.  It is extremely difficult.  First there is a hard outer bark that needs to be shaved away to get down to the hard inner shell.  Then the top of the shell needs to be pried open.  Thankfully my dad is strong and was able to get the coconut open.  Inside was about a cup of water and a cup of meat.  I was a little surprised by how little meat there was.  While I’m glad I have had fresh coconut and experienced opening one, I think I will stick with the other forms of coconut.  They are easier to get and use and taste just as great, if not better.  Here are a few pictures of the process.

                 

A quick update: I received a call from my allergist today and got the results of all of my testing.  I found out that not only am I allergic to pineapple, but I am also allergic to summer squash.  I am quite disappointed to learn that I am allergic to summer squash.  It is one of my favorite vegetables and I just made meat loaf this week with it in it.  But really, summer squash?  It’s mostly water, I can’t believe I’m allergic to it.  I was not surprised that those were the only two foods to come back positive though.  The rest of my problems are just intolerances.  So I’ll slightly adjust my diet and see if anything changes.  This week I have not been feeling great and could really use some ‘good days’.  I just keep on hoping and praying.

Posted by: karascrumbs | February 24, 2012

Fig Bars

I said I was going to bake something on Wednesday, and I did.  I finally had time to bake!  Classes have been great, but I’m now a little more busy and don’t have as much free time.  I do like that, however, it means it leaves me with less time to bake and create.

I finally got around to making the fig bars that I have wanted to make for quite some time now.  Fig Newtons used to be one of my favorite store bought cookies.  I never liked the flavored ones, like strawberry, but I absolutely loved the original variety.  I took the individual packs with two cookies in my lunch for years.  When I ate them at home I frequently added a small smear of peanut butter and that made them all the better.  After all, what doesn’t go good with peanut butter?  So when I found this recipe to make homemade fig bars, I knew I had to try it.

Reading through the instructions I realized that making them identical to the original Fig Newtons was going to be quite a bit of work.  I didn’t really care how they looked, I just wanted them to taste good.  So I condensed the steps a little.  (I’m not a huge fan of rolling out dough.)

The taste of these bars is not quite like the original version.  The crust is not quite as soft and chewy.  I think that might be a hard thing to achieve, though, with solely using almond flour.  Next time I might try adding some coconut flour because it is lighter.  The fig filling tastes good, but I think next time I will make more so it is thicker.

Fig Newtons
Adapted from the recipe in the Gluten Free Almond Flour Cookbook by Elana Amsterdam.  Also on her website; click here.

Filling
1 cup dried figs, chopped
1/2 cup water or lemon juice (I used water)
1 T. vanilla (I used 1 1/2 T. of powder )

Crust
2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/16 tsp. vanilla stevia (or could use 1 T. vanilla and plain stevia)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water

To prepare the filling: Place figs in a food processor and process until a thick paste forms.  With processor running, add water and vanilla and process until smooth.  Set the filling aside.

To prepare the crust:  In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, and stevia.  Add in the liquid ingredients and stir until a dough forms.  Refrigerate the dough for an hour or freeze for half an hour.

When dough is well chilled, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Divide the dough into two parts.  Leave one part out and return the other to the refrigerator to keep cold.  Roll one part out between two sheets of parchment paper to be a rectangle a 1/4 in. thick.  Spread the fig filling on top.  Roll out the other piece of dough to be the same size and shape.  Place it on top of the dough with the fig filling and mend the seams all the way around.  Place the prepared dough on parchment paper on a cookie sheet.  Bake for 10-15 min.  Allow to cool before slicing.  Enjoy!

Here are some step by step photos:

      

I highly recommend storing these bars in the refrigerator.  However, they are much better enjoyed warmed in the microwave.  I did try adding some almond butter to these, but in the end, I actually preferred them plain.  I was a bit surprised.  So finally I have my fig bars and I am glad I made them.  I look forward to making them again and adapting some other things.  I think sometime I might even play around with different fillings, apricot sounds like it would taste good.

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