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!

Mini Homemade Strawberry Poptarts

 I don’t know about you, but for me, childhood screams poptarts. Those shortcrust filled pastries that at the time seemed filled with delicious jams and topped with insane amounts of icing. There’s no way they could have ever been good for you, but bless my mom’s heart, she still bought it for us EVERY time that my two sisters and I would ask for them when at the grocery store. I swear, my mom has THE biggest heart in the whole wide world. I’m sure everyone thinks that their mom is the best, but I’m pretty sure that my mom is the best. As a child, she would spend hours upon hours everyday in the library reading to me as my older sister when to kindergarten the street over. My dad was gone a lot for my childhood, so she effectively raised three rambunctious children on her own, amazing, right?


Even now, she still never fails to love the three of us with all her heart – like, she’s coming to New York with me to help me find an apartment and get settled in before grad school AFTER spending 2.5 months in Taiwan accompanying my sister as she teaches English in a remote Taiwanese village!!! Anyway, these poptarts are officially dedicated to her. But not the store-bought, come in an aluminum package, warm up in the microwave type.  More like the melt-in-your-mouth, crammed too full of berries, and topped with just the right amount of royal icing kind.


Speaking of moving to New York, I have put off finishing this post 2,752 times because I’ve been so busy packing and saying goodbye to all my friends.  Never in my mind did I imagine how hard it would be to say goodbye to everyone that I love.  I mean yes, I will be back to visit, but it’s crazy that in less than two days, I’ll be in the Big Apple and all my friends will be back at home.  WAAHHHH I’m tearing up just thinking about it now. Before I start getting really sappy, I’m just going to continue with this poptart recipe. They’re perfect, they really are….BUT, maybe you should make them just to be sure 🙂

PRO TIP: If you have plastic wrap, the easiest way to roll the dough out is to sandwich the dough between two large pieces of plastic wrap and roll out the dough on top of the plastic wrap.  That way it doesn’t stick to the counter, the rolling pin and is easy to remove!

 MINI STRAWBERRY POPTARTS | Makes 16-18 depending on size
INGREDIENTS
for crust

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 cup strawberry jam or preserves
  • 1 egg + 2 tbsp water for egg wash

for icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt – mix well.
  2. Add in butter cubes and using hands or pastry cutter, work the butter into the flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse sand.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together egg and milk.
  4. Create a small well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour egg and milk mixture into well. 
  5. Gently fold the liquid into the dry ingredients until a shaggy dough forms.  Knead the dough a couple of times until dough is smooth.
  6. Refrigerate dough until firm (~ 1 hour).
  7. Preheat oven to 350 (F).
  8. Flour surface and roll dough to 1/8″ thick rectangle (see note above for easy way to do this!).
  9. Cut dough into 2×4″ rectangles making sure that you end up with an even number of rectangles so each will have a top and bottom piece.
  10. Place about 2 teaspoons of strawberry jelly on half the dough pieces. 
  11. Place a dough piece on top of the rectangle already filled with jam and seal edges by using a fork to press down along the edge.
  12. Place in freezer for 15 minutes to help keep the poptarts from losing their shape in the oven. Just before placing in oven, brush tops of poptarts with egg wash to give it a nice golden color. 
  13. Bake poptarts for 15-20 minutes and cool completely before icing.
  14. Mix powdered sugar and milk together until a smooth icing is formed. Spoon your desired amount of icing over each poptart and wait until icing solidifies before storing in an air-tight container.

Enjoy!

Mushroom and Spinach Quiche

 Flaky buttery crust, creamy and eggy filling, it can only be a quiche. To be honest, I really love quiche, it can basically be customized depending on your mood and the custard that forms from milk and eggs cooking is just heavenly.  I’m mostly given up on eating dairy when I can cause I’m lactose intolerant, but quiche is one of those things that I haven’t been able to let go.


This recipe has been in use since my high school days of helping my mom host brunch parties, and believe it or not, it can be customized to be completely dairy-free.  Hooray!! Yes, I’ll admit that it’s not as good without the buttery crust, but heck, the quiche filling is still as creamy and glorious when made with soy milk or almond milk…just make sure it’s unsweetened and unflavored…trust me, vanilla flavored quiche is just NOT good.
I would not try and tweak the egg to liquid ratio – I’ve tested so many ratios and found that 1 egg to 1/2 cup of liquid produces the best results. With this ratio, the egg proteins hold just the right amount of liquid and you get a really creamy and soft, but not liquid-y custard.


You can make the quiche in either a sloped pie pan or a straight-edged cake pan, really it doesn’t matter! If you want to be fancy, traditional quiches were made with straight-edged pans, but I always find that the crust tends to shrink away from the edges while the sloped-edges of the pie pan holds the crust in place better. It really is up to personal preference though!
This recipe calls for spinach and mushroom, but you can fill it with anything you want: peppers, bacon pieces, cheese, the list goes on and on. With vegetables that exude a lot of liquid, just make sure to cook most of that liquid out first. I made this quiche for my food science lab friends and if it means anything, it was gone in less than 10 minutes. The most important thing is to make sure you chill the crust so that the gluten proteins have time to relax and you don’t end up with a tough and doughy crust. Other than that, it really is a fool-proof recipe! Seriously, give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.

SPINACH & MUSHROOM QUICHE | Makes 8-10 slices
INGREDIENTS


for filling

  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms – sliced
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk/cream (any type works, the lower the fat content, the less creamy, soy or almond milk works too! Just make sure it’s unsweetened)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

for crust

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup unsalted COLD butter – in 1/2″ cubes
  • 3-5 tbsp cold water

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a medium skillet, cook mushrooms on high heat until golden brown.  Salt and pepper to taste then remove from pan.  Cook spinach until wilted on medium heat.  Salt and pepper to taste as well. Set mushrooms and spinach mixture aside.
  2. In a separate large bowl or liquid measuring cup, combine eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Whisk together until well combined.
  3. In a food processor, combine flour, salt, baking powder and butter.  Pulse until butter is in small pea-sized pieces.  Then, with food processor running, drizzle in water a tablespoon at a time until a dough ball forms.  Pat dough into a flat circle to make rolling out the dough easier and refrigerate until firm (~1hr).***If using hands, cut cold butter into flour until mixture resembles fine sand.  Then add water a tablespoon at a time until mixture forms dough.  DO NOT OVERWORK DOUGH.
  4. Preheat oven to 425 (F).
  5. Once dough is firm , roll out into circular crust about 1/8in thick and 12-14 inches depending on size of your pan. Place crust over pan and crimp edges to form a raised crust.
  6. Spread mushroom and spinach mixture evenly on top of crust before pouring egg mixture on top (make sure to whisk again before mixing to make sure salt and pepper is evenly distributed).
  7. Bake quiche at 425 (F) for 10 minutes to prevent crust from getting soggy before reducing temperature down to 350 (F) and baking an additional 15-20 minutes until quiche is set.  Quiche will be done when it wobbles ever so slightly when shaken gently.
  8. Cool before slicing. Quiche will stay fresh up to 2 days in the fridge.

Enjoy!

Healthy Double Chocolate Banana Bread

 Double chocolate banana bread:
Yesterday was July 4th, and today I’m wishing that it was the weekend again. Not just because I spent the weekend soaking in the sun, baking up the storm, and eating as much food as humanly possible, but also because there is a lovely construction crew outside of my window.  They start promptly at 7am every day, and the construction workers are NEVER late. Seriously…like not even 7:02 am…please give me those extra 120 seconds of sleep. All that aside, I’ve seriously got some weekday blues.


I don’t know about you, but when I’m feeling down, or when things suck, I can always find comfort in chocolate and some mindful meditation. But, I don’t always want to eat an entire bar (or two) of chocolate myself, and some times, I want to wallow in pity while still eating healthy.  This is the genius creation that I came up with, vegetarian, low in sugar, high in chocolate, and packed with lots of fruit – I give you double chocolate banana bread! It’s super chocolatey without being overwhelmingly sweet, and just a hint of banana comes through.  It’s basically the best way to show Monday (or any day) who’s the boss. You will be the envy of everyone at the office, eating your double chocolate banana bread, sipping your tea/coffee and basically kicking ass. You got this.


DOUBLE CHOCOLATE BANANA BREAD | Makes 8-10 servings
INGREDIENTS

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup ripe bananas mashed (~ 2 bananas)
  • 3/4 cup neutral tasting vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s special dark)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 (F) and grease a 9x5x3 inch bread pan
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, sugar, oil and bananas. Whisk everything together until creamy.
  3. Add baking soda and salt to wet mixture and incorporate thoroughly.
  4. Add in cocoa powder, chocolate chips, and flour and mix in until there are no more streaks of flour in the mixture
  5. Pour mixture into bread pan and sprinkle top with more chocolate chips if desired.
  6. Bake for about 60 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Run a knife around the edges of the bread pan so the loaf will come out clean when it’s cool.
  7. Bread will keep for 5 days in an air tight container or up to a week in the fridge.  Baked bread can also be sliced and frozen. Simply pull slices out a couple hours in advance and you’ll have a nice chocolatey treat waiting for you 🙂

Enjoy!

Julia Child’s Banana Bread

 Have you ever felt so sad, that it seemed like your heart gained an additional 100lbs and your stomach dropped to the bottom of the ocean, deep, deep down, unable to be saved? I received this kind of news the other day, heart-wrenchingly painful, and almost too much to stomach. But I realized that the point of hearing this news, was to help lighten the burden, so one person wouldn’t have to carry it all. After all, 10 people carrying one burden is so much easier than just one person carrying it all.


So, instead of running away from this news, I gave thanks for being surrounded by wonderful people in life and the chance to help make things right. Still, we can’t help but still feel sad and at some points, helpless. At times like these, I always find myself drawn back inside the kitchen, as if I could use the heat and warmth of the oven to ward away the bad news. Baking is an escape, yet at the same time, an activity that helps me think, process and reflect on the news that I have heard and figure out the best actions to take.


Today, it felt like the only person that I could turn to was Julia Child and her delicious banana bread (with just a couple modifications!). For me, banana bread has always been the perfect balance between elegant and homey. Bananas are not used as a typical baking ingredient, making them a little bit fancy, but a dash of vanilla and a handful (okay, maybe two or three handfuls) of chocolate turn it into one of the best comfort desserts in my opinion. There’s nothing better than sinking your teeth into fresh and fragrant banana bread, and discovering molten pockets of luscious chocolate. Today I made this, for Julia Child, for the people that I love, and for me. A small piece of comfort in an entirely shaky and unknown world.


MOLTEN CHOCOLATE BANANA BREAD | modified from bon appetit
INGREDIENTS

  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large, I find mashing them with a fork on a plate is easiest)
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chunks (not chips!)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350° and oil a 9x5x3″ loaf pan
  2. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, add chocolate chunks and make sure individual chocolate pieces are coated in flour (this will ensure they don’t sink to the bottom of the loaf pan while baking)
  3. Whisk eggs, sugar, bananas, vanilla and oil in a large bowl until smooth
  4. Add dry ingredients to banana mixture and stir just until combined
  5. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top
  6. Bake for 60-70 min or until a toothpick/fork/skewer inserted into center of loaf comes out clean (be careful not to overbake, or bread will be dry!)

Let cool (if you can!)
Enjoy