Peanut Butter Miso Cookies

Folks – it is a CRAZY world out there! I’ve been struggling to make sense of my own thoughts and emotions during this tumultuous time. COVID-19, such a short little name with a monumental impact. I saw it creep slowly throughout the world, talking with my family in Taiwan as they watched their country struggle to get the virus under control. It seemed as if we were safe for awhile, but now, even in my state of Minnesota, there are over a hundred cases (and that’s only the confirmed ones!).

I guess I say this not to add to the chaos, but as a gentle reminder that the best thing that we can be doing is to stay home. Trust me, as a twenty-five year old who loves to explore, that’s the last thing I want to be doing either, but staying home WILL save lives. It’ll help keep your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and even your pets (!!) safe. Why, you ask? Well, diseases can only be transmitted if there are people to transmit it to. When contagious people stay home and don’t have anyone to spread it to, then we help prevent the spread of the disease. The scary thing about this is that you can totally be contagious and not know it… so bottom line- STAY HOME PLEASE!

And while I’m on this little public health rant (sorry, I can’t help it, in my other life, I work at the Department of Health!), can I just throw in a small plug for baking? It is absolutely wonderful for getting your mind off things just for a small while, and I find it helps with my anxiety. My favorite thing to bake right now is peanut butter miso cookies.

If you did a double take, don’t worry, most people are totally caught off guard by the combination! But if you love salty-sweet desserts, this one is totally for you. And if you don’t, well, give them a try anyway, you might be surprised! My only suggestion for this recipe is to let them sit overnight. Something magical happens in the refrigerator and the flavors blend so seamlessly after sitting for awhile. That being said, I’ve also baked them right after making the dough and they were terrific as well.

Bake well, stay well, and take care ❤

Peanut Butter Miso Cookies | Makes about a dozen

difficulty level – easy

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted or at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar*
  • 1/3 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/8 cup (a.k.a. 2 tbsp) red miso paste (you can usually purchase at an Asian grocery store)
  • 1/4 cup chunky peanut butter (this is super important for texture! If you only have smooth pb, it wil work, but the texture will be off)
  • 1 extra large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

*If you want a chewier peanut butter cookie, add in 1 full cup of brown sugar.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 (F).
  2. Combine coconut oil, light brown sugar, white sugar, miso paste, peanut butter, egg and vanilla in a bowl. Mix well with a whisk.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, and baking powder.
  4. Add dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix until just combined. It is important not to over mix, otherwise the cookie will be tough. I like to use a spatula for this part.
  5. Roll into walnut sized balls (think a little smaller than a golf ball)
  6. Bake at 350 (F) for 10-12 mins or until edges are just starting to brown.
  7. Cool on a cookie rack, or eat while hot!
  8. Cookie dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days, and will keep for a couple months in the freezer (I like to roll the dough into individual balls and then freeze. When you’re ready to bake, no need to defrost, just bake them a little bit longer.)

Enjoy!

Bibimbap or not?

A story of rice bowls

The time was late – far past my bedtime, yet I was huddled under the covers watching food video after food video. A caption caught my eye — bibimbap. I clicked. I found myself watching a video of a man making bibimbap. Maybe it was the potatoes that set me off, maybe it was the lack of respect for a culture’s food, but I found myself reeling as fried potatoes were substituted for rice, cheese was mixed in and the typical egg was traded for a handful of salad greens, producing what he deemed, “an authentically delicious bibimbap”. This wasn’t the bibimbap I was familiar with — in fact, did it even count? I wasn’t sure.

Over the next few days, the question of authenticity teased me. Having grown up in an American town where the only Chinese restaurant was run by a White couple, I struggled with this idea of authenticity and fusion. Mostly:

  • What makes a food authentic, and is authentic food necessary for an authentic experience?
  • Does authentic food need to be cooked by a person of that specific culture?
  • And if not, who qualifies to cook the food of a culture that isn’t American?
  • What is fusion food?

No, I don’t have the answers (I do have thoughts, which I’ll explore in later posts) — and I really don’t think anyone has the “right answer”. These questions are meant to create a conversation around an action that we all have to do to survive (eat) and what we’re choosing to put in our mouths.

This may be an unpopular opinion, but I can’t help admitting that the sudden rise in popularity of Asian food leaves me disgruntled and with a sour taste in my mouth. Not because I don’t love not having to bring only a PB&J sandwich to lunch or that there are finally more Asian restaurants in my area than I have fingers and toes, but because it all feels like a fad. A fad of chasing “Instagrammable” bubble teas, or Snapchatting the making of hand-pulled noodles. And on the chef’s end, jumping on to the train of Gochujang this, or ube that, because those ingredients are the ones that are hip, even when the ingredients don’t necessarily belong. Am I afraid that one day America will wake up and we’ll be obsolete? Maybe a little bit, but I’m more afraid that this increased interest with Asian cuisine isn’t accompanied by the same increased interest in the people and culture of that cuisine.

It seems as if America has snatched up Asian food and left the people behind, left their stories, their hardships and their culture. And that breaks my heart. I really do believe that understanding the stories and history of a culture is key in accepting and understanding communities different than our own. So, let’s learn about the history of mooncakes and the legend and lore surrounding the Mid-Autumn Festival. Let’s understand why many Asian dishes are braised and stewed instead of fried (or why the fried dishes are so prized). Let’s take a moment to talk to our friends about the history or story behind a dish. I promise you what you learn, will only make your meal richer.

And speaking of meal, let’s get to the star of the show – bibimbap. We’re making it today because it was the meal that sparked this conversation. And while I may not be Korean, it has come to be one of my favorite foods. Bibimbap wasn’t always called bibimbap, but it’s been around for thousands of years. The Royal family would often dine on bibimbap for lunch or dinner, and it wasn’t until much later that it transitioned to more of a humble everyday dish. I find that bibimbap, literally meaning “to mix” + “rice” reminds me of home, in a way that only a bowl of rice can do.

*What you choose to mix into your bibimbap can vary. I’ve followed a more traditional list of vegetables and proteins to mix in, but if you’re more familiar with Korean cuisine or have allergies, by all means, substitute away!

BIBIMBAP | Makes 2 bowls

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups rice (white, brown or purple is all fine)
  • 1 cup julienne carrots
  • 1 cup julienne zucchini
  • 2 cups spinach or Asian leafy greens
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 cup julienne burdock root
  • 1 block of firm/medium firm tofu – cubed into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • White sesame seeds (for sprinkling)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Soy sauce (to taste)
  • Sesame oil (to taste)
  • Gochujang (to taste)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Over medium heat, saute carrots until soft to bite. Season with salt and sesame oil to taste.
  2. Over high heat, repeat process sauteing zucchini, spinach and mushrooms individually until tender. Season each vegetable with salt and sesame oil to taste.
  3. Heat frying pan until very hot. Once pan is hot, saute burdock root for 1-2 minutes, then pour in 1/4 cup of water and place lid of saucepan on to steam burdock roots. Once water has evaporated, test burdock root for tenderness. If it is not soft enough, repeat the steaming process. If it is tender enough for your liking, season with soy sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  4. In a frying pan, heat up 2 tbsp of oil until the pan is very hot. Add tofu and pan-fry until sides are golden. Season with salt and sesame oil to taste.
  5. In a fry pan, cook 2 eggs sunny-side up (I prefer my eggs fully cooked, in which case I was just cook eggs over-hard).
  6. Divide rice evenly into two bowls. Arrange vegetables and tofu on top of rice. Place one egg on each bibimbap bowl.
  7. At this point, you may add as much or as little gochujang as you prefer. I often top my bibimbap with an additional drizzle of sesame oil or soy sauce.

Enjoy!

Mango Almond Chiffon Cake

When I moved back to Minnesota, one of the things that I was dreading most was it long, long, long and COLD, COLD, COLD winters. I’m not sure how to articulate to you just how cold -30 Fahrenheit feels like, but maybe the best way to describe it would be to confess that I wore two pairs of pants, a long-sleeve, a sweatshirt and a vest, plus fuzzy socks — indoors (yep.).

But, you know, I am back, and for the most part, thrilled to be close to my family, literally down the street from some of my friends, and happily employed. Even though I’ve lived in Minnesota for the majority of my life, the transition back from New York hasn’t been easy. It’s sometimes a little lonely to look out the window and not see a single soul, and can we talk about how I’m pretty sure I forgot how to drive, period. Learning to get back on the road again when I’ve always been an anxious driver has definitely been a challenge. For now, I’m taking it slow and counting driving safely to my local Trader Joe’s a win.

One of the things that I have forgotten about Minnesota (and leaves me breathless every time), are the beautiful fall colors. The swirling leaves of red, pink, orange, gold and yellow surrounded by pockets of green are for me, one of the best parts of fall and best parts of living in Minnesota. The golden-y hue of fall color is what inspired this Almond Mango Chiffon Cake. What is chiffon cake you ask? Well, it’s probably the lightest, fluffiest cake you’ll ever taste and it’s got nothing but eggs helping it rise. In my recipe, there’s a slight hint of almond, and a fruity aftertaste. Basically, fall and summer all in one.

I like to make them in 6 oversized muffin tins, but there’s nothing stopping you from turning this into an 8″ or 9″ cake either. In fact, there’s definitely nothing stopping you from making this cake and a cream cheese frosting or whipped cream topping to finish it off. The best part of this cake is that it’s dairy-free and good for breakfast, dessert or a snack.

Mango Almond Chiffon Cake (adapted from Epicurious) | Makes 6-8 slices (depending on how you cut)

Ingredients

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped dried mango slices
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cold water mixed with 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp granulated white sugar (plus more for sprinkling)
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 cup cake flour*

*If you don’t have cake flour, you can always make your own using all-purpose flour and cornstarch, potato starch or tapioca starch. Just measure out a cup of all-purpose flour, remove 2 tablespoons of flour and add in 2 tablespoons of your starch.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350(F) and line either cake tin or muffin tin with parchment paper.
  2. Combine honey water and chopped mango slices – let soak to re-hydrate the dried mango.
  3. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine egg whites and salt. Using a electric mixer, start on the lowest speed, beating for a minute on each speed until you have reached medium speed. Then, gradually add in 1/4 cup sugar and continue mixing. Once sugar has been fully added, beat on high speed until you get peaks that just barely hold their shape (not stiff, but not soft either).
  4. In a separate large bowl, combine your egg yolks and remaining sugar (1/4 cup + 2 tbsp). Using an electric mixer, beat until mixture turns fluffy and pale yellow.
  5. With the electric mixer on medium speed, gradually pour olive oil into the egg yolk mixture and mix until incorporated thoroughly.
  6. Then mix in honey water+mangoes and almond extract.
  7. Sift cake flour into egg yolk mixture (the sifting is crucial! this will make sure your cake isn’t dense), and combine using a wooden spoon (not electric mixer).
  8. Fold whipped egg whites into egg yolk mixture in three batches, make sure to using a folding motion so you don’t deflate the egg whites.
  9. Pour mixture into prepped muffin tins or cake tin. Sprinkle top with sugar.
  10. Place into oven and bake for 25 (if using muffin tins) or 45 minutes (if using cake tins), until golden and toothpick comes out clean.
  11. Enjoy!

Fluffy and Moist Dairy-Free Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Scones

Not going to lie, I’ve been on a Great British Baking binge – not the new show without Mary Berry, but like the old reruns with the original gang.  There is just something so absolutely stress-relieving and home-y about watching home bakers bake their hearts out.  I guess I should mention that I’ve been on a little bit of a baking kick lately as well, oops. I’m typing this as I have a banana bread going in the oven (I’m going to blame my overripe bananas) and a frozen loaf of zucchini bread in my fridge (I couldn’t let those go bad either, right?). 


Anyways, maybe you can guess, but I’m stressed.  It’s job hunting season and I swear there isn’t anything worse than pouring your heart into a cover letter and resume only to hear a big fat no.  Seriously, if anyone has any job hunting tips, please let me know!  I think that the transition from school to being a working full-time adult is always a little bit different.  Not only do you have loans, but the added stress of having to look for a job that pays a living wage and also the prospect of having to relocate and start making new friends kind of makes the whole deal a little bit of a downer.  Don’t get me wrong, I am suuupppperrr excited to be done with school (goodbye homework!), but transitions are hard, and I’m just acknowledging that.  


I guess for me, when things get hard, I always tend to gravitate towards ideas and things that remind me of home or warmth/hugs.  This was definitely the inspiration behind these cinnamon chocolate scones.  I happen to love the combination of cinnamon and chocolate.  Cinnamon provides warmth, while the melt-y pools of chocolate add lots of richness.  I definitely don’t recommend skipping out on the chocolate, especially since the chocolate I’m using here is dark chocolate and dairy-free (practically healthy!).  While I’m lecturing on what else not to leave out, I’ll take the time to mention, don’t leave out the cinnamon butter spread on top either! OMG it’s legitimately the most delicious thing ever.  Once its baked, it turns into this crackly, cinnamon-y, crunchy topping.  SO GOOD.  Growing up, my sisters and I always tried to make scones every weekend, so these goodies definitely hold a lot of nostalgia for me. 


Hey, if you’re having a hard week or day (and I’m sending hugs to you if you are) take some time for yourself tonight, or maybe this weekend and make these scones.  Or if cinnamon/chocolate isn’t your thing, check out these blueberry and cream ones, or raspberry white chocolate scones.  Hopefully the warmth and home-y-ness will remind you of good memories and the fact that good times are coming. And hey, I know for a fact that good times are coming, because who doesn’t love summer?

DAIRY-FREE CINNAMON CHOCOLATE SCONES | Makes 8 scones

INGREDIENTS

for the scones

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt (omit if your dairy-free butter is salted)
  • 6 tbsp dairy-free butter – chilled in the fridge before using
  • 3/4 cup chopped dark chocolate
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup coconut cream
  • 1 egg

for the cinnamon spread

  • 2 tbsp dairy-free butter at room temperature
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp sugar 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375 (F).
  2. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, ground cinnamon and salt together in a large bowl.
  3. Add in dairy-free butter and using hands a knife/pastry cutter incorporate butter into dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse sand (butter should be pea-sized).
  4. Add in chocolate pieces making sure to coat each chocolate piece in flour (this will make sure they don’t sink to the bottom of the scone batter during baking)
  5. In a separate bowl or liquid measuring cup, combine coconut cream, vanilla extract and egg, mixing thoroughly.
  6. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour three-fourths of wet ingredients into the well.
  7. Using spatula, fold wet and dry ingredients together.  Continue adding in remaining wet ingredients until a shaggy dough forms.  uDO NOT overwork dough.
  8. Place dough on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and pat into an 8″ circle.
  9. In a small bowl, mix room temperature butter, sugar and cinnamon until a paste forms.
  10. Spread the cinnamon butter paste on top of the scone, making sure to cover the whole circle (see picture above)
  11. Cut circle into 8 pieces to help scones rise more easily in oven.
  12. Bake for 25 minutes or until edges are just starting to turn golden brown and the tips of the scones feel firm to the touch.

Enjoy!!

Vegan Peanut Butter Apple Crumble Bites

 I can’t even begin to express how ridiculously excited about this recipe I am! First of all, it comes together SO easily (I would know, because I made this on a whim), but also, one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to stop letting food go to waste.  I never try to waste food on purpose, but sometimes you just let the bag of spinach sit too long in your fridge, or forget about the bunch of sweet potatoes you bought cause they’re sitting in the cabinet…(yikes) and I always just feel so bad when I end up having to toss the food.  I know that I won’t be perfect with this resolution because sometimes things just happen, but I’m hoping that if I put my mind to it, I can change my lifestyle and the way I make purchases going forward. 


Coming back from my last grocery run, I realized that I had accidentally bought new apples when I already had some old ones, and then putting away my snacks, I noticed some slightly stale peanut butter cookies sitting in the bag of my pantry (you see what I mean when I say I need to change the way I make purchases? I’m always forgetting what I already have :p ).  I didn’t want to break my resolution 3 weeks into the new year, so I got creative.  My aunt and uncle happen to be a fan of vegan foods even though they’re not vegans themselves, so I figured that I could whip up a dessert from these things to bring over to them.  


Turns out, apples, peanut butter and cinnamon crumble make for a bomb flavor combination.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since as I kid, I always had Ritz crackers with peanut butter and apple slices.  Let’s just say biting into these sweet and salty cuties straight from the oven brought me intense waves of nostalgia haha.  The one (and might I add, only) bad thing about these bits is that they definitely do get soggy if you decide to store them overnight.  Because of this, I’ve only made this recipe to make one batch (a full muffin tin), and would not recommend doubling the recipe unless you know you’re going to have a big crowd. 


In other news, my last first day of school (of the second semester) officially started Tuesday! Can’t believe that I’m hitting 18 years of being in school…man I feel old.  I’m sure it’ll be surreal once everything comes to an end, but for now, I’m going to concentrate on enjoying my classes and making as many memories as I can make in Big Apple.  And maybe making more of these lil’ apple bites!

VEGAN PEANUT BUTTER APPLE CRUMBLE BITES | Makes 12 bites

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 peanut butter cookies (the sweet kind, like Nutterbutters)
  • 2 medium sized apples – cored and sliced into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 tsp granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon + 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (for the struesel)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 tbsp of vegan butter
  • 12 Muffin tin liners

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350(F).
  2. Line a regular sized muffin tin with liners.
  3. Crush peanut butter cookies until a fine crumble is formed. I will usually just do this in a plastic bag and use a rolling pin to crush cookies.
  4. Divide crushed cookies evenly between the 12 muffin liners.  Pack the crumbs firmly into the bottom of the liners.  The bottom of a 1/4 cup works super well to pack down the crumbs.
  5. In a separate bowl, toss the cubed apples, granulated white sugar and 1/2 tsp of cinnamon together.  Let the apples sit while you make the streusel topping.
  6. In another separate bowl, mix brown sugar, flour and 1/2 tsp cinnamon together.  Then cut vegan butter in with either a pastry cutter or two butter knives until a crumble forms.  It is SUPER important to keep the butter cold, cold, cold! If it starts to look soft/melty, just stick the bowl into the fridge for 5 or so minutes.
  7. Divide apples evenly between the 12 liners and place on top of cookie crumble base.
  8. Top with streusel.  Don’t be afraid to be generous!
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes until streusel topping is golden. 
  10. Bites should be consumed immediately and not stored overnight for best texture (taste won’t be affected).

Enjoy!

Easy Palmier

 You’ve got guests coming over in an hour, you just got home and there’s no time to waste.  What do you do?
a) run around in circles and panic (perfectly acceptable answer, I do it all the time) b) check the freezer for some leftover cookie dough (highly encouraged to have frozen cookie dough at all times) c) decide to not make anything and hope tea will just do it d) scrounge up that puff pastry sitting in the corner of your freezer


Let’s be real, all answers are acceptable in this case and I’ve probably done them all one time or another, buuuuuttt if you happen to have frozen puff pastry on hand and are in a time crunch, this is your answer! Legitimately 20 minutes start to finish (in a pinch) and breathtakingly beautiful in addition to being absolutely delicious, your dad, mom, sisters, cousins, friends, or in-laws will think you’re a baking genius.


Don’t believe me? Give them a try, I’m serious! The key to perfect palmiers is to keep your puff pastry cold, which if you’re short on time, is actually better for you because then you won’t accidentally let it sit for too long on the counter.  If this happens, don’t panic, just pop it back into the freezer for a couple minutes until the butter solidifies again and you can be on your merry way.


I know a lot of other palmier recipes tend to be heavier on the sugar, this one uses just a third of what normal recipes call for, and I actually find that it gives a better bake, caramelizes faster and leaves the palmiers just flaky enough but not rock hard.  On the plus side, it’s less sugar, which means you can eat more 😀


I’m feeling pretty good at the moment because I’ve blogged two recipes after blogging NONE for the past 5 months, so yeah, I’m going to say that today has been a success.  I hope that all of you have been having a wonderful day.  The sun peeked out today for the first time in what seems like forever, so I’m pretty ecstatic about that.  I can’t believe that the week is half over, hang in there, the weekend is near! Much love and even more palmiers to everyone! 

EASY PALMIERS | Makes about 2 dozen palmiers depending on how you slice

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 sheet of puff pastry (thawed)
  • 1/2 cup of granulated white sugar

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 425 (F)
  2. Roll out puff pastry until it lays flat
  3. Sprinkle the 1/2 cup of sugar evenly over the entire rectangle
  4. Using a rolling pin, roll out the puff pastry, pressing just hard enough for the sugar to stick into the puff pastry.  You’ll want to roll the puff pastry out about an additional 1-2 inches on each side
  5. To make the palmier shape, start from one end of the puff pastry and roll until it reaches the middle.  Then roll the other end of the puff pastry until that reaches the middle.  It should look like two rolled circles right next to each other.
  6. At this stage, if you have time, I would refrigerate for about 30 minutes before cutting and baking.  If you don’t, throw it into the freezer for 5 minutes and then slice into 1/2″ pieces.
  7. Bake for about 5 minutes on the first side, the puff pastry should start to puff and turn a light golden brown.  Take palmiers out of oven and flip over.  Bake for an additional 2-3 minutes or until top of the flipped side is a golden brown.
  8. Cool before serving for crunchy flaky layers.
  9. Palmiers will keep for 3-4 days in an air tight container.

Enjoy!

Dairy-free Purple Sweet Potato Pie

 I used to think that I was a cake person, but after this pie, I think I’ve been converted.  Pie allows you to bring in so many different textures that I think that cake just doesn’t allow for (not saying that cake isn’t amazing, cuz TRUST ME, it soooooo is). BUT in one bite of pie, you get flaky, buttery crust, smooth creamy filling, and crunchy sweet topping – it really doesn’t get much better than that!  I guess I should also preface by admitting that a huge part of why I didn’t used to like pie is because I’m lactose intolerant and pie just doesn’t taste as good without butter.  I pretty much believed that butter-less pie was not worth eating until this past Thanksgiving rolled around.  With my grandpa working on controlling his blood sugar level, and pretty much my whole family is lactose intolerant, dessert options had to be 1) low in sugar and 2) dairy-free.  This pie delivers both.  Not only are sweet potatoes naturally sweet, they are also perfect because the sugars in sweet potatoes digest slowly and won’t spike up your blood sugar.  


Turns out, with the right substitutions, you can make just as delicious a pie crust and filling without dairy.  For my pie crust, I use coconut oil, the filtered kind, so you can barely taste/can’t taste the coconut flavor at all.  It’s honestly pretty amazing.  Just make sure to pay extra attention when you’re buying you’re coconut oil to pick up the filtered kind, otherwise your crust will definitely taste of coconut (unless of course, you like coconut, then have at it).  The key to making sure you get a flaky crust is to keep the coconut oil cold.  Since it’s hard to scoop when its cold, I will usually pre-measure it out and then stick the amount into the fridge for maybe 10 minutes.  You can assemble the rest of the ingredients while you wait.  The same goes with the pie filling, I use coconut cream and it creates the most luscious and creamy filling – you won’t even remember that heavy cream wasn’t used.  The real secret though? Straining your pie filling ensures that all the lumps are broken up and your custard will end up smoother than silk. 


Now, I’m not a fan of walnuts, BUT, as it turns out, when they are candied, they become the perfect complement for a creamy filling.  Of course, you can choose to leave the nuts out, but they just provide the perfect crunch, so I would recommend simply substituting for a nut that you do like.  Seeds would probably work too! It’s just nice to have a trio of different textures 🙂
I’m getting hungry just thinking about this pie while I write!  Might have to do some night time baking….


I’m currently on winter break still, and I’m blissfully savoring the days I have left.  I’m still at work most days, but it’s just so nice to come home and not have a million pounds of homework to do.  Instead, I get a chance to cook, watch some netflix and catch up on my blogging.  The simple life pleasures are the best.  So here we go, pie recipe coming at you!

DAIRY-FREE PURPLE SWEET POTATO PIE | Makes one 4.5in x13.5in pie

INGREDIENTSfor the crust

  • 1/2 cup filtered coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp ice cold water

for the filling

  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • heaping 1/2 cup purple sweet potato mashed
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs

for the candied nut topping

  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/3 cup walnut pieces

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 425 (F)
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flours, baking powder and salt. Mix well.
  3. Add in coconut oil and use either a pastry cutter or a fork to break the oil into pea sized pieces.  DO NOT use your hands, this will melt the coconut oil!
  4. Once the oil pieces are thoroughly mixed into the flour, add in ice cold water, 1 tbsp at a time until a dough ball forms.  Try to add in as little water as possible, as adding too much water will encourage the formation of gluten which results in a tough pie crust.
  5. Form into a rectangle, wrap in saran wrap and chill in fridge for 30 minutes.
  6. While the crust is chilling, combine sweet potato, brown sugar, eggs, coconut cream, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice in a bowl and whisk until blended.
  7. Using a fine mesh sieve, strain the filling mixture into a clean bowl to ensure a smooth filling.
  8. Once dough has chilled, roll out to 1/4 inch in thickness and press into tart pan.  Place parchment paper on top of pie crust and fill with baking beans (I just use rice).
  9. Blind bake the crust for 15 minutes at 425 (F).
  10. Take out crust, carefully remove baking beans and pour in filling (at this point, I usually place the pie pan on a baking sheet for easier maneuvering).
  11. Lower oven heat to 325 (F).
  12. Bake pie for 20-25 minutes until filling is just set. Let chill.
  13. While pie is chilling, melt 1/4 cup white sugar in a small sauce pan until it caramelizes (you are looking for a dark amber color).  When it reaches this color, throw in walnut pieces and mix thoroughly.  Pour out candied nuts onto waxed or parchment paper and let cool.
  14. When you are ready to serve the pie, break candied walnut pieces over pie.
  15. Pie keeps up to 3 days in the fridge (and tastes amazing straight from the fridge as well!).  Be sure to store candied walnuts separately, as the moisture from the pie will liquify the sugar.

Enjoy!

Flaky Apple Hand Pies

 Happy 2019! 2018 brought a whirlwind of changes – new moves, new jobs, new friends, in fact, it’s almost overwhelming to think of them all!  It’s simultaneously been the hardest year, but the happiest year.  Isn’t it funny that life can be like that sometimes (and it seems, almost all the time?). I hope that for you, 2019 brings all the happiness that was in 2018, and only keeps getting better 😊


On the topic of better, I’ve been aspiring to be better about staying home and cooking with what I have, instead of falling prey to the wonderful app that is Grubhub.  Don’t get me wrong, I love cooking and being in the kitchen, but after 8 hours of school and a seemingly endless pile of homework, the thought of even sautéing some veggies makes my head spin.  So, creating the simplest and fastest recipes are always at the forefront of my mind when I’m creating something new.


The recipe is actually from awhile back, but I’m finally getting to blogging about it now (talk about being behind! Haha, I’m just a year late).  Anyway, one of my bestest friends from my work came over to my itty bitty apartment this past Thanksgiving to make some apple hand pies.  We had originally set out to make cherry almond croissants, but upon realizing the both of us had no tools and barely any ingredients, we had to quickly change plans.  She brought some honeycrisp apples (shoutout to Minnesota for creating them!), and I supplied the puff pastry, voila! We had all the ingredients necessary for apple hand pies.  It’s that easy, I promise!  And it will bring smiles to anyone you serve them to, cause really, who can resist some pipping hot, cinnamony sugar and buttery pastries? 


So let’s ring in 2019 with some flaky apple hand pies, maybe a glass of champagne, and if you’re me, some R&R with my faithful buddy, netflix (lol).  Back to reality though, I’ve been thinking a lot about resolutions, and I really only have two this year, okay, maybe three, but the first is the most important.  I want to be kinder to others, because you can always be kinder and you never, ever know another stranger’s full story.  So often I find myself quickly jumping to conclusions and judging others harshly before I even take a moment to put myself in their shoes.  What are the other two? You’ll just have to stay tuned to find out.  In the mean time, grab some apples, some puff pastry and sit down with a hand pie (or two). 

FLAKY APPLE HAND PIES | Makes 8-10 hand pies 

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 honeycrisp apples (or any other baking apple) – cored and diced into small pieces 
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp butter – melted 
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 sheet puff pastry (I get mine from Trader Joes) 
  • 1 beaten egg (for egg wash) 
  • 1 tbsp milk*
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar*

DIRECTIONS 

  1. Preheat oven to 400 (F)
  2. In a medium size mixing bowl, mix together diced apples, white sugar, melted butter and cinnamon.  Combine together and set aside. 
  3. Take thawed puff pastry and cut sheet into 8-10 rectangles, depending on how big you want your hand pies to be (remember, your hand pies will be half the size you cut your rectangles into, because you’ll be folding them in half to seal in the apple). 
  4. Take each piece of puff pastry and spoon in about 1-2 tablespoons of apple into the middle of the puff pastry. Make sure to leave out the juices that have pooled to the bottom of the bowl with the apples, this will make your hand pie extremely soggy. 
  5. Brush edges of the puff pastry with the beaten egg and seal together.  
  6. Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (you’ll want the parchment paper since the apples tend to leak their juices a little bit, it makes clean up easier). 
  7. Bake for 10-15 minutes.  Remove once the top is golden brown and puff pastry has puffed!
  8. Once cooled, create an icing by combining milk and powdered sugar together.  Drizzle over hand pies for just the slightest hint of sweetness to complement the apples.  
  9. Hand pies will stay fresh for just a couple of days.  To extend their shelf life, simply freeze and reheat in the toaster! 

Enjoy! 

Healthier Cherry, Almond and Cashew Bark

Let’s talk about two dreaded words “eating healthy”.  If you’re like any normal person, you probably cringe at the word and it sorta terrifies you (at least, it did for me!).  I think society these days has made the concept of eating healthy so much more difficult and confusing with changes in dietary recommendations every couple years and new research on diabetes, heart disease and other chronic disease always coming out.  It’s hard to keep up with all of it!
A couple ways to make it easier to eat healthy is to remember these recommendations:

  • keep it simple – try to stay away from foods with a lot of ingredients and especially those that you don’t recognize.
  • keep it fresh – fresh foods, are always better than processed food! Fresh foods are lower in sodium, sugar, and free of preservatives.
  • homemade is best – when you eat out, or buy already packaged foods, you can’t control the ingredients that go in there.  By making things yourself at home, you can control the salt, sugar, and contact with other ingredients that aren’t good for you.

Now, I agree, homemade is not always the easiest, and sometimes you have to pick your battles. For me, if I’ve worked a 12 hour work day and the only thing I’m craving is Chinese takeout, I just go for it. But if I’m home on a Saturday and find free time on my hands, I love to meal prep and bulk make snacks.  Eating healthy is all about finding what works for you, whether it is home cooking everyday, or just starting a weekend meal prep that’ll last you a couple days. 


One of my favorite snacks to make is this dark chocolate, cherry, almond, and cashew bark.  It was born out of wanting a more even distribution of chocolate whenever I ate trail mix.  I hated having a handful of just dried fruit, or too many almond or just not enough chocolate.  This recipe is made with only 4 squares of chocolate (think like half a Hershey’s chocolate bar) and will last you the whole week! I grew up with people always telling me that chocolate was terrible for you and would give you acne and so on and so forth.  The truth is, it all depends on the type of chocolate! Dark chocolate is actually really good for you (in moderation, as everything is, haha), the key is just to choose a brand that is low in sugar. The cherries, or any dried fruit in general help give the bark some natural sweetness and are a good source of fiber; make sure to only buy dry fruit that hasn’t been sweetened (it will usually say if there’s been extra sugar added on the packing, so keep a look out for it!).  I know cherries and almonds are the classic combination, but I love the addition of cashews.  They’re heart healthy and help give a creaminess to the bark that makes it that much more delicious. I am addicted to the salty-sweet combination, so the final finishing touch to this bark is just a sprinkle of sea salt on top.  If you’re sensitive to salt, need to avoid it, or just don’t like salty snacks, leave it out!


This bark is perfect in every way.  It keeps well, it’s healthy for you with no refined sugars, and is pretty much as minimally processed as foods get.  It also takes only 20 minutes and is legitimately 3 steps. I’ve included photos to help guide you, I find that it’s always less daunting to try out a new recipe when you’ve got photos to compare your product to at every step!


First thing, gather up your nuts and dried fruit and roughly chop them.  I cut the cherries into quarters and the nuts in half.  You can go as large or as small as you want, but I find that these sized pieces are best to make sure you get at least a good amount of cherries, almonds and cashews in one bite.

 Then, melt your chocolate in the microwave and sprinkle your nuts on top.  It’s going to be a pretty densely packed bark, just because I’m trying to keep the chocolate at a minimum and make the majority of the bark nuts and dried fruit. Don’t forget that last sprinkle of sea salt!

Then, just pop in the fridge for 15 minutes.  When the chocolate has solidified, break into large pieces and you’re ready to devour. Seriously, it’s that simple!

HEALTHIER CHERRY, ALMOND, CASHEW BARK | Makes 3-4 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup roasted almonds
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup pitted dried cherries (no added sugar)
  • 4 oz dark chocolate (I look for the one with the lowest amount of sugar)
  • A pinch of sea salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. Roughly chop up almond, cashews, and cherries. They should be chopped into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Heat dark chocolate in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time and taking out before all the chocolate is melted.  Let the residual heat of the already melted chocolate melt the remaining chocolate.  This will ensure a smooth and luscious chocolate texture.
  3. Pour melted chocolate on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper.  Spread the chocolate out as thin as you can get it (I picked up the sheet pan and tilted it side to side to help the chocolate spread, it’s the easiest way!). It should be spread out very thin (almost paper-thin).
  4. Sprinkle chopped nuts and cherries over the melted dark chocolate and then press the nuts and fruit into the chocolate.  This will make sure everything stays inside the melted chocolate and doesn’t fall out when you try and eat it. It should be pretty densely packed! Sprinkle with sea salt.
  5. Pop into the fridge for 15-20 minutes until bark is solidified. 
  6. Once bark is solidified, break into large pieces and you’re ready to eat!
  7. Store bark in an airtight container in the fridge and it will pretty much keep indefinitely.

*Recipe can be doubled, tripled or quadrupled to meet your needs.

Enjoy!

Dairy-free Blueberry and Cream Scones

 I think scones are one of the funnest baked goods to make. When I first started out making scones, they were rock-hard, dry and as tough as nails.  Instead of getting discouraged, my inability to make a perfect scone challenged me to create a recipe that is essentially fail proof AND dairy-free.  Scones are one of those desserts where butter is pretty much a mandatory component for it to even be called a scone. I pretty much thought so as well until a craving for scones hit SO bad, it didn’t go away for weeks.  I’m usually one of those people with enough will-power to keep cravings that might kill my digestive system at bay since I’m lactose intolerant, but nope, this one just wouldn’t go away!


I’m not going to pretend that this recipe is healthier just because it doesn’t contain butter, but I can definitely promise you that it is extremely low-sugar (only 1 tablespoon!) and 100% dairy-free while still delicious and moist.  If dairy-free scones aren’t your thing, and you want the real deal, try out my raspberry almond and white chocolate scones, instead! Alright, if you’re still on board, here we go. 


Since coconut oil is similar to butter in terms of its consistency (solid at room-temperature), I figured that it would be a good substitute to use for scones.  However, as I quickly found out, coconut oil melts far more easily then butter and super quick at any temperatures over normal room temperature making for a gooey mess.  The key to successful scones in this case, is to keep your coconut oil cold (I ensure this by place measured out coconut oil in the fridge for 10-15 minutes before using) and keep your measuring bowl cool as well (if possible!).


I love scones because they’re super customizable.  Hate blueberries? Use raspberries! Don’t have white chocolate on hand? Use dark chocolate, chop up nuts, or just leave it out altogether! Super easy, right? As long as you don’t mess with the dry ingredient to wet ingredient ratio, the add-ins are pretty much up to you.  One thing that I will note, is that, all fruits that you want to incorporate into this recipe should be frozen fruit!  Frozen fruit maintains its shape, doesn’t make the scone too soggy when baked, and honestly helps keep the coconut oil cool when you’re mixing, ha!


While you can make your scones any shape you want, I would recommend patting the mixture into a large round circle and cutting into 8 triangles, much like you would a cake (cutting before baking the scones ensures that the scones are allowed to rise and get super fluffy!).  This is much faster than individually portioning out scone mounds, and makes sure that the scones themselves are virtually identical triangles after baking. When you bake them as a large circle, it also helps keep the scone moist inside and not dry out too quickly. If you prefer scones that are more crust than fluff, then maybe individually portioning out scones might be what you want to go with.


I don’t know about you, but I’m savoring up the last few weeks of summer like nobody’s business. These berry-licious scones are best eaten with tea and under the summer-y blue sky.  I’m getting hungry just thinking about them! Let’s get to it!

DAIRY-FREE BLUEBERRY AND CREAM SCONES | Makes 8 scones

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar + 1 tsp more for sprinkling
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 6 tbsp coconut oil – chilled in the fridge before using
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup coconut cream + 2 tbsp more for brushing
  • 1 egg

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375 (F).
  2. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl.
  3. Add in coconut oil and using hands a fork incorporate coconut oil into dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse sand.
  4. Add in frozen blueberries taking care to separate any blueberries in frozen chunks.
  5. In a separate bowl or liquid measuring cup, combine coconut cream, vanilla extract and egg, mixing thoroughly.
  6. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour wet ingredients into the well.
  7. Using spatula, fold wet and dry ingredients together until a wet, shaggy dough forms.  DO NOT overwork dough.
  8. Place dough on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and pat into an 8″ circle.
  9. Brush top with coconut cream and sprinkle with sugar. Then cut circle into 8 pieces to help scones rise more easily in oven.
  10. Bake for 25 minutes or until edges are just starting to turn golden brown and the tips of the scones feel firm to the touch.

Enjoy!