Chocolate Covered Katie Gingerbread Banana Bread

Ok, so the title is a mouthful… but hey, I’m just trying to give you all the information 😆

I thought I’d show this Gingerbread Banana Bread from CCK off a little, because it turned out to be pretty delicious! I’m not really surprised though, because I’ve made Katie’s regular fat-free banana bread before as well, and that is definitely the best basic banana bread (alliteration? Yes indeed, I’m a scholar 😂) I’ve ever had.

IMGP3497

I felt good about making this recipe just 2 days after Christmas, because in fact it is pretty healthy. It contains Bob’s Gluten Free 1-to-1 baking flour instead of wheat flour (not that I’m against wheat, but all we had was AP white flour), a conservative amount of maple syrup, molasses, lots of ginger, coconut oil, and tons of banana. I used very ripe bananas, which contributed to the sweetness to the point that I didn’t need to add the optional sugar.

IMGP3383

I’m pretty happy with the texture of the bread. It’s a little tiny bit on the gummy side – nothing too bad at all though, and I’d personally prefer that over crumbly. Overall, it’s soft and cake-y, yet satisfying. I feel like, when I use Bob’s 1-to-1 mix, the texture always comes out as very melt-in-your-mouth, rather than chewy. It’s never bad, but sometimes I prefer the heartiness of wheat flour. Do you have any preferred GF baking mixes? I haven’t experimented too much, though I have fallen in love with almond flour!

Also, the flavor here is great. Total gingerbread, just with the addition of bananas! It’s mildly sweet, and I think that’s just right. No need for the optional sugar listed in the recipe if your bananas are ripe enough.

IMGP3494

By the way, I’m still on Christmas break for another week! That means we get to take a little family trip to Dallas, TX for a few days. I’ve never even been into Texas before, but now that we live in Oklahoma (which I hear is basically north Texas!) it’s time to explore the state. I’m really excited about this trip. Some of my favorite bloggers/social media presences (“presences”? Yes, we are going to that level of formality today) are from Texas or live there currently. For example, Katie from CCK and the McKnights from Cute Girls Hairstyles. I’m sure we’ll go to some vegan restaurants while we are there, so I’ll definitely post about it.

I hope you all have a great week! I’d have said “y’all”, but to be honest I’m not quite there yet. #michigander

 

Christmas Day in Photos

I hope you all had a beautiful Christmas Day. Ours was really nice; we opened presents together in the morning, which was so fun and full of so many laughs!! And then we spent the day playing with our different presents, hanging out together, and cooking dinner. Since my mom and I are the only vegans in the family, my dad cooked Maine lobster tails for the rest of our family. Mom made this awesome vegan potato and turnip mash, and I made little hand pies filled with wild rice, mushrooms, chickpeas, and vegetables. It was probably our most gourmet meal yet 😉

The moment my brother Elliot opened up the camera and lens, he started taking pictures. This was one of the first ones, featuring Bianca and my mom at our dining room table.

IMGP0021

This of course continued as we all started to get dressed, which is impossible to do without holding the dog a little!

IMGP0078

Dad and I had some snuggle time as well.

IMGP0418

Then, Elliot and Bianca headed outside for a little photo shoot.

I’m now realizing that most of these photos are of Bianca. Oops… actually nope, no regrets. She’s that great.

IMGP0335

Ooh, look, it’s a photo I took myself!! This was just my view on the dining room table as I took photos of the scrapbooks for yesterday’s post and generally messed around with the camera.

IMGP1193

I also made some macarons with the new sifter that Mom gave me (thank you mummy!) so I took a picture of the cookies as they dried out before baking.

IMGP1200

A little later, it was time to cook and eat dinner. These are the vegan hand pies that I made, adapted from the spring hand pie recipe in the My New Roots cookbook.

piessmaller

These plates have lobster, wild rice stir fry, lobster and vegetables, and hand pies.

dadplates

A family photo or two was taken.

family

And at the end of the evening, Bianca was paid for the modeling efforts she exerted all day.

biancaeating

Almost all of these photos were taken by Elliot, my older brother. He’s pretty excited about the new camera! And that was pretty much our Christmas Day. I hope you enjoyed all the photos.

Christmas Scrapbooks

Crafting stuff is SO fun, especially when it’s Christmas-related!! So, of course, I like to make a few gifts. Last year, I made my dad a clay model of the horse that he liked to ride, and made one for myself, too. I think they turned out really nicely, and the paint job is my favorite part.

IMGP1300.JPG

IMGP1311.JPG

By the way, I used the same cookie cutter for these as I did for a lot of the gingerbread cookies that I made a few days ago (check them out on Instagram @thekalestorm 🙂 ). We’ve really gotten a lot of mileage out of those cutters. I don’t even know how old they are! And there are a couple whose intended identities are…. ambiguous. For example, the sleigh/elf’s boot/snow boot/pi minus one leg, and the Michigan mitten/glove/bird!

Anyway, though, for this year’s handmade Christmas presents, I made my parents each a mini scrapbook documenting a few moments of 2015. I didn’t even know I was going to do that project until last weekend, so it was an intense few days of scrapbooking, but it was SO fun and totally worth it, especially when I saw how much my mom and dad loved them. Here are a few photos!

 

Those photos were taken by our new camera!! This was a family Christmas present, to us and from us. It’s a k3 Pentax, and is probably the fanciest piece of technology I’ve ever used, aside from my computer. I’m so excited to be able to put better photos on TKS!

I think that tomorrow I’ll post a Christmas recap, with a bunch of photos from the new camera. But for now, here’s a little preview of the World’s Most Documented Dog 😀

IMGP0335

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Hey guys! How were your weekends? I don’t even know what’s going on with me right now to be honest. I’m trying to step up my Instagram game (I’m getting up 1 post per day if you want to check it out!) and also plan for 2 blog posts per week (Mondays and Fridays 🙂 yay for consistency!). Also, you know, Christmas is coming, and I’m planning a few presents for my family. All in all, it’s Christmas break, and I feel so busy. It’s mostly a fun kind of busy, though. Oh, and I’m getting together a Christmas cookie decorating party this week, so you might see a few photos! Exciting stuff, man.

Anyway- I made us some more soup! This is based on Minimalist Baker’s Curried Butternut Squash Soup. It’s essentially butternut squash, spices/seasonings, onions and garlic, and liquid, all blended up into creamy oblivion. I used Thai Kitchen Green Curry Paste, which I love because of its many layers of flavor and hint of spiciness. I also topped it off with some plain curry powder, maple syrup, and nutritional yeast for a little more savoriness.

This recipe makes a pretty small batch of soup – I’d say it only would serve four people – so go ahead and double it if you wish. It’s also highly adjustable, so if your butternut squash is absolutely gigantic, add extra liquid to thin it out, and if your squash is very small, decrease the water a little. And, if you decide the soup is too thin, just let it simmer uncovered for 15-30 minutes, checking occasionally, until the texture is where you want it.

IMG_2866.jpg

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

adapted from Minimalist Baker‘s Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:

1 onion

1/2 or 1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 tablespoon curry paste (I used Thai Kitchen Green Curry Paste)

a couple of dashes of curry powder

a couple of dashes of cinnamon

2 tablespoons maple syrup

salt to taste

pepper to taste

1 small butternut squash

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

2 cups of water

a generous pour of coconut milk *

Process:

Dice the onion, and peel and dice the butternut squash. Heat up a large soup pot over medium heat (not hot enough to make the oil smoke, but fairly hot) and add the coconut oil. When the coconut oil is hot, add the onion and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, add the butternut squash, the curry paste, the cinnamon, and a dash of salt and pepper. Stir well, cover, and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the water, coconut milk, and maple syrup. Cover, bring to a boil, and then lower the heat to medium-low and allow to simmer covered for 15 minutes. Then, use a blender (I used an immersion blender) to blend until completely smooth. Add the nutritional yeast, and then add salt and curry powder to taste. Finally, if the soup is too thin for your preference, allow to simmer uncovered for 15-30 minutes.

Notes:

* you may of course leave out the coconut milk if you want it to be lower in fat. Just replace with water or vegetable stock.

* I like to serve this with a drizzle of coconut milk on top. My dad would tell you to use some Louisiana hot sauce, too!

IMG_2865.jpg

Minimalist Baker PB & J Muffins

I really like Minimalist Baker – it’s such a fun space, with those beautiful photographs and creative recipes! I’m always interested to try Dana’s creations, and that’s how I found this recipe for Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins.

IMG_2834

These muffins are vegan and gluten free, and can be refined sugar free as well. They are very soft, rich, and moist, and in my opinion, they are almost more like cupcakes than muffins!

This is a one-bowl recipe, which is always appreciated, and doesn’t generate too many dishes. It also uses pretty standard ingredients, like almond flour, gluten free flour blend (I used Bob’s 1:1 Baking Flour, which is recommended in the recipe), rolled oats, and maple syrup.

I think that the flavor of the muffins, while good, would benefit from a bit more salt to bring out the peanut butter in the batter. Also, some chopped peanuts would be great to make the actual muffin itself a little more interesting. All the same, though, the muffins taste pretty darn good.

I’d recommend that you add a little extra flour if your batter seems too wet. I didn’t, even though my batter was wetter than the description given in the recipe, and I think my muffins turned out just a little too soft because of it. Just a word of caution!

I made a mistake with this recipe: I didn’t swirl the peanut butter and jelly into the tops of the unbaked muffins before baking. I think that would have helped keep the jelly on top/inside the muffins, instead of sliding off while baking, and would have prevented the middle of the muffins from sinking (which they did, but not too badly. Again, more flour likely would have solved that problem!).

IMG_2838.jpg

Overall, I’d definitely recommend this recipe for some fun and dessert-y (is that a word?) muffins. Just make sure to swirl your peanut butter and jelly, and pay attention to the thickness of your batter! 😁

Slice ‘n’ Bake Pecan Cookies

Hey guys! I have a really fun recipe to share with you today. How do chocolate-covered slice ‘n’ bake pecan cookies sound??

IMG_2787

Have you ever made slice ‘n’ bakes before? I hadn’t, but when I saw this post by Sally’s Baking Addiction, I knew I had to try it! However, Sally’s Baking Addiction isn’t a vegan blog at all. So, I used her recipe as a base and tweaked a few things, such as:

  1. Replacing the chicken’s egg with a flax egg
  2. Replacing the dairy butter with Earth Balance
  3. Replacing the hazelnuts with pecans

The pecans are toasted before making the cookie dough, which makes them so flavorful. I chopped mine medium-size before putting them in the oven. IMG_2764.JPG

Then, when I added the pecan pieces to the cookie dough, my Kitchen Aid mixer broke them up even more, so that in the end, you have pretty small pieces of pecan in the cookies.

When first mixed up, the dough is just like your average cookie dough. It’s sticky and soft and almost oily (and super yummy. Obviously). But, once I rolled up the two logs of dough in some plastic wrap and let it chill for four hours, it was perfectly manageable. It makes sense that the original recipe says chilling is mandatory!

IMG_2781

Then, I just sliced the cookie logs so that they were a size that made sense to me. I ended up with 30 fairly small cookies.

Slice ‘n’ Bake Pecan Cookies

adapted from Toasted Hazelnut Slice ‘n’ Bake Cookies with Milk Chocolate by Sally’s Baking Addiction

Ingredients:

3/4 cup Earth Balance, cold

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 flax egg (1 tablespoon flax meal, 3 tablespoons warm water)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup roughly chopped pecans, divided

1 cup chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate, if that’s what you have)

Process:

In an oven preheated to 300º F, toast the chopped pecans for 10 minutes. Mix together the flax meal and warm water for the flax egg and let stand for 5 minutes, or until thickened. Meanwhile, beat the Earth Balance for 1 minute in a Kitchen Aid mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or until completely smooth and creamy. Add the brown sugar and beat until fluffy and light, with no chunks of sugar or Earth Balance. Add the thickened flax egg and the vanilla extract and beat until incorporated.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and cinnamon. Then, add the dry ingredients in small increments to the Earth Balance mixture. Finally, add 3/4 cup of the toasted pecan chunks to the dough, reserving the last 1/4 cup of pecan chunks for later.

Scoop out the cookie dough onto a floured surface. If the dough seems too sticky, you may add a bit more flour. I added about 1/4 cup. Divide in half, and tightly roll into two logs of cookie dough. Mine were about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap each log in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. They will seem really soft and sticky until the end of the refrigeration period, and then they will suddenly firm up and become much more manageable.

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Unwrap one log of cookie dough and slice into 15 or so cookies. Bake for 16 minutes, or until the edges are very lightly browned. Take the tray out of the oven, allow to cool for five minutes, then place the cookies on a cooling rack. Repeat the process with the other log of cookie dough. You also may bake all of the cookie slices from both logs at once if you have two cookie sheets that fit in your oven at the same time.

Once all of the cookies are cool, melt the chocolate chips on the stove or in the microwave. I melted mine in the microwave by putting them in for 20 seconds, then stirring, then 20 more seconds, then stirring again, and so on until they were completely melted and smooth. Dip one end of each cookie in the chocolate – I think generally about 1/3 or 1/4 of each cookie getting dipped in the chocolate is good. Place the dipped cookies on a sheet of parchment paper to allow the chocolate to set, and use the last 1/4 cup of toasted pecan pieces to press into the melted chocolate on each cookie. Allow the chocolate to set for a few hours, and then they are ready to eat! All uneaten cookies should be stored in a airtight container.

IMG_2794.jpg

Vegan and GF Snickerdoodles

You know you are a baker through-and-through when you get up at 6:15 AM on a Saturday morning in order to bake cookies!

IMG_2600.JPG

I’ve been vegan for a year and a half, and yet, it has taken me until this very day to make vegan snickerdoodles! I’m so glad I finally did, because these cookies are awesome. I used this recipe by Oh She Glows.

These cookies use a base of oat flour, almond flour, and sorghum flour. However, I replaced the small amount of sorghum flour with brown rice flour (you can only have so many flours in the house at one time… #bakerproblems). Instead of Earth Balance, the cookies call for virgin coconut oil, and the sugar is just some basic cane sugar. It’s a pretty simple recipe, really, and, in my opinion, is a much healthier choice than many other holiday cookies. After all, they have rice, almond, and oat flours instead of AP; a conservative amount of sugar; unrefined coconut oil  instead of Earth Balance; and even a little flax meal.

The texture is great! They have almost-crunchy edges, with chewy middles and a nice coating of cinnamon sugar on the outside. And the flavor is awesome – all sorts of cinnamon-y, sugar-y, maybe a little oat-y flavors going on. You can tell they are made of something other than AP white flour, but in a good way; you can just taste a little more complexity than in your average cookies.

IMG_2597.JPG

 

I found that my cookie dough was just a little too soft, meaning that the baked cookies spread out a little too much for my liking. I think that was 100% my error though, and a touch more flour would have fixed that problem right up! And the cookies are delicious, whether or not they are a little too thin. I’m not that picky.

 

 

IMG_2584.JPG
You can see here that the balls of cookie dough had already started to flatten and lose their ball shape before baking.

My favorite thing about this recipe is its simplicity. It’s a no-mixer recipe, with only 13 ingredients total. Basically, you stir your dry ingredients together; you stir your wet ingredients together; you combine the dry and wet ingredients; stir together a little cinnamon and sugar; and roll up your cookie dough balls. Super easy! 🙂

I’d definitely recommend this recipe for your holiday baking. It’s easy, delicious, even a little bit healthy (!), and won’t give you a headache. Sounds good to me.