Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Gluten Free Blueberry Pancakes

Pancakes are among my favorite ways to start off my weekends.  There's really nothing much better than quickly mixing up a bowl of pancake batter, ladling it onto a hot griddle, and watching it transform into a fluffy and tasty breakfast treat. I've become a bit of a pancake snob in recent years, thanks to my sister, who's without a doubt a bigger pancake obsessed person than I am.  Pancakes from a box are a big no-no.  In my opinion, there's no reason to ever make pancakes from a box, given that they're completely effortless to make from scratch (and they also taste way, way better).  Seriously, I have yet to taste a Bisquick pancake that's as fluffy and tangy as my favorite homemade buttermilk pancakes. 

And then my mom went gluten-free, and suddenly, I was in a predicament.  My mom usually isn't much of a big breakfast person, as she tends to be happy with just coffee and toast, but she does love pancakes.  Blueberry pancakes, especially.  I couldn't very well make my own homemade pancakes to enjoy on the weekend to have my mom watch on without any pancakes on her plate (because what kind of person denies their mother of buttermilk pancakes, right?), so I had to figure out how to make the perfect batch of gluten free pancakes that could hold their own next to my traditional favorites.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Strawberry Grapefruit and Pomegranate Smoothie

I've reached the point where I just can't wait for winter to end. I know there's still a long way to go until spring arrives, and I'm not asking for warmer weather necessarily. I just want a little more sunshine in my life and some vibrant flavors to accompany it. I've got the wintertime blues, and they're hitting me hard.

My blues were only made worse by the fact that I had a horrible cold during my three-day weekend. Instead of relaxing and having fun in my extra day off, I spent my time buried in tissues and counting down the minutes until I could breathe through my nose again. Talk about timing! I felt that my body needed something fresh in its system in order to feel a little better, and there was no better way to do so than with a healing smoothie. I blended up a fruity concoction and while it didn't cure my cold, it definitely made me feel a whole lot better for a few minutes. It was just what I needed.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Gluten Free Chocolate Chunk Cookies

If I had to eliminate gluten from my diet, I think I would miss my mom’s famous chocolate cake the most out of everything.  It’s intensely chocolatey and is brushed with amaretto for three days before serving, and it’s easily one of my favorite desserts of all time. Second on my list would be these brown butter chocolate chip cookies. They’re everything a chocolate chip cookie should be: crisp around the edges, thick and chewy in the center, loaded with chocolate chips, and rough and craggy on top.  While one of those cookies should be enough to satisfy me, they’re so good that I can never help but break off small pieces of cookie whenever I walk past the kitchen, and the next thing I know, I’ve ended up eating something around three entire cookies by myself…or more. They’re dangerously delicious. 

I wanted to make a gluten-free chocolate chip cookie that exactly matched my favorite traditional cookies.  They had to be thick and chewy and deliciously crisp along the outside- I was not going to compromise on any of those requirements. While browsing through recipes I was disappointed by most of the photos I saw.  The recipes may have been just fine, but none had that old-fashioned bakery look that I think is essential to a really good chocolate chip cookies. It was frustrating, but after a little more Google-ing, I found Alton Brown’s recipe.  The photo for his cookies was the closest in matching the perfect cookie vision I had in my head, so I figured this would be the best way to go. 

Friday, January 16, 2015


If I had the chance to bottle up a scent and keep it in my pocket to smell whenever I need a little mood boost, I would hands down pick the smell of freshly baked bread.  There would be no hesitation or thinking twice, or internal contemplation; there is nothing better than the smell of a beautiful loaf of bread that’s just been taken out of the oven.  The only thing that can possibly come even close to that is the smell of bread as it bakes, but it’s not close enough.  I just love opening a hot oven and getting an enormous whiff of that delicious smell all at once.  Eating this freshly baked bread while it’s still warm with a slather of butter would have to be my favorite taste.  As much as I love cake and cookies, there is no comparison to freshly baked bread.  In a nutshell, I’m pretty much obsessed. 

What I’ve never been obsessed with, however, is actually making bread myself.  The main reason for this, I think, is that there’s no room for spontaneity with bread making.  You can’t really just decide to make a loaf a bread right now the way you can with a batch of cookies or a simple cake.  Breads take time and careful planning, and sticking to the correct proofing/rising schedule is essential in ensuring that a bread comes out the way it’s supposed to.  Rushing through any of the steps could lead to a bread that’s less than it should be, and it’s one of my biggest problems.  I’m not the best at planning things to bake in advance, as I typically like to let whatever is in my kitchen and whatever I’m craving at the moment guide me in making my decisions.  I hope to change this this year and really learn more about bread.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Easy Chocolate Skillet Cake

It's only the second week of January, my third blog post of the year, and I'm already posting about chocolate cake.  I guess I got bored of the healthy eating already?  I mean, I haven't really. I just got bored of a life without cake and chocolate.  Seriously, I think a week is about all I can handle without indulging in some of my favorite sweets.  I try not to think of this as a bad thing.  

After my first week in the new year, I had a craving for cake.  Just cake.  Any cake would have probably made me happy, but you know me, I'm a simple kind of girl who will take a slice of plain cake over just about anything. Really. Any flavor, with any kind of mix-ins, baked, in a loaf pan or a round pan or a square pan, as long as it's a slice of plain, moist cake with a dusting of powdered sugar, I'm good to go. I wasn't really shocked at all when I found myself thinking of cake...and more cake...and more cake. I needed it!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Apple Bran Muffins

I'm not going to rant about the weather.  I'm not going to rant about the weather. I'm not going to rant about the weather...too much.  It's cold cold cold in New York right now, the kind of cold that hits you hard and burns your face and freezes your legs in the time it takes to walk from your front door to your car. It's rough. It's brutal.  It's actually....not that bad?  I bought a heavy parka (heavier than anyone in NYC needs, anyway) at the tail end of last winter and only got to use it a few times before the weather warmed up.  When I saw how low the temperatures were going to get this week, I displayed the typical outward reaction of "UGH, NO," but secretly, I was very excited about getting the chance to wear my parka all week long.  It's the puffiest, least-fashionable piece of clothing I own, but also the warmest.  It's the only thing getting me through this week's bitter cold, but as crazy as it sounds, I actually like the cold (a little).  I mean, you can't feel cozy unless it's cold outside, right?  

Baking is one of my favorite things to do when it gets cold outside.  It can easily take all day (if I'm feeling ambitious), and warms up the house at the same time. Cozying up to something that's been freshly baked and has perfumed the entire house is my idea of a morning, afternoon, and day well spent.  Last weekend, my baked good of choice to cozy on up inside was a bran muffin.  I absolutely love bran muffins. Don't know why, but they've always been one of my favorites, even as a little kid.  Now I love them for their wholesome quality, depth of flavor, and wonderful texture.  I like them when they're not too sweet and have just a hint of fruit.  These apple bran muffins are my perfect bran muffins.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Honey and Peanut Butter Oatmeal

It's time to jump on the resolution bandwagon, and while I usually don't particularly go crazy with wanting to detox or get my butt in the gym, this year is a bit different.  Christmas cookies are my biggest weakness, and this past holiday season, I ate more than ever.  I just couldn't stop myself from eating cookie after cookie, and I'm feeling it now, for once.  We don't need to go into anymore detail than that, but it's safe to say that I'm ready to get back in my usual routine.  It's time to get back to work, back to eating square, healthy meals, and back in the gym, with the occasional treat every now and then, for the sake of my own sanity.  As ready as I am to kick this cleansing period into high gear, let's not kid ourselves.  I still have a love for all things made with butter, sugar, and chocolate, so I'm sure those less healthy indulgences will be making a comeback soon...but for now, I'll do what I can.  Healthy breakfasts are as good a place as any to start. 

I love a good bowl of oatmeal in the morning for breakfast.  Comforting and delicious, easy to prepare and full of possibilities, oatmeal is one of my go-to's whenever I want a breakfast I can feel good about eating.  One of my favorite oatmeal mix-ins is peanut butter, because a spoonful melts right into a bowl of hot oats, so you get a ton of flavor in every bite.  In college, PB+J oatmeal was in my regular breakfast rotation, and I always looked forward to making myself a bowl in the morning.  Lately though, I've really been enjoying oatmeal with peanut butter and honey.  A piece of whole wheat toast with peanut butter and a drizzle of honey is my typical pre-workout snack, because it gives me just the energy spike I need to ensure that I perform at my best, so swapping raspberry jelly for honey in my oatmeal makes perfect sense.  Honey, peanut butter and oats are the perfect combination of ingredients to wake me up and get me ready to start my day, everyday. 

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