Get Your Gluten Free Baked Goods!

My kids’ school hold a big fundraiser each year for the school garden.  This year was no exception.  We all had a great time enjoying old fashioned games (bobbing for apples, scavenger hunts), arts and crafts (sewing potpourri sachets, creating art from recycled materials), a pie eating contest, raffle and bake off.   In addition there’s a large bake sale.  This alone raises over $1,000.  I was asked this year to make gluten free desserts for the sale.  I took the challenge especially since I had recently done some gluten free baking while reviewing the book, Quinoa Cuisine (see review) and I had just received another helpful cookbook entitled 150 Best Gluten Free Muffin Recipes by Camilla Saulsbury.

I was baking and testing recipe for weeks.  Not only did I test the recipes as written usuing my own mix of flours, but I also decided to try Bob’s Red Mill gluten free all pupose baking flour.  They make a great variety of gf offerings for baking.  Herein lies all the expense and trouble when people think about gluten free baking.  If you don’t have to eat gluten free it is more expensive to properly stock your pantry.  For instance the Bob’s Red Mill was $8 for a 2 pound bag.  However it was even costlier for me to buy the quinoa, teff and rice flours and mix them myself.  Plus there is the worry if you’re buying the flours bulk that can may be contaiminated by a gluten product.

I narrowed down my two favorites and baked multiple batches for the big day.

From the 150 Best Gluten Free Muffin Recipes cookbook I made Double Chocolate Banana Muffins and Cinnamon Sugar Muffins.  The double chocolate were a huge hit.  The banana gave them the right amount of moisture and the chocolate, well there was both whole and cocoa (what’s not to like?).  My son liked the Cinnamon Sugar however my daughter and her friend did not.  I think it was a texture issue, as gluten free baked goods are denser and the flour is a bit heartier tasting.  This book has helpful information about gluten and alternative ingredients.  Each recipe also has tips to make it casein-free (which can be a connection for some with other health issues).

My other choice was the Lemon Glazed Pound Cake from Quinoa Cuisine.  I made the pound cake as directed with the quinoa flour, but made it again with the Bob’s Red  Mill GF Flour and everyone preferred that one.  I would make this any occassion – for gluten free needs or not.  It was very tangy and had a good dense pound cake consistency.  We enjoyed it at home with a bit of vanilla bean ice cream on top during our taste testing.

Once I made all the muffins and pound cake for the bake sale, I decided to wrap each individually so someone who needed to stay away from wheat wouldn’t have to worry about cross contamination from the rest of the baked goods at the sale.  My daughter and I cut and wrapped each piece of pound cake and individual muffin and then tucked them in baskets with ingredient cards on top.  They looked great.  However when I went over the baked goods table during the event I realized the gluten free items weren’t selling.  The moms said not as many were requesting gluten free items, plus maybe it was too hard to see the items in the wrappers.  I quickly unwrapped them and luckily they sold.  That was an error on my part.  A child who’s checking out the baked good options needs to see it and want it, for mom to buy it.  Most don’t care if it’s gluten free or not.  I went a little overboard with my food safety.  Next time unwrap most and wrap only a few for those with celieac and gluten issues.

I took those items that didn’t sell home with me.  Yes, I could’ve given them away but not with all the time and money that went into them.  (Selfish mommy, I know).  I froze them and served them to my son’s baseball team a few days later.  It saved me some time and they loved them.

 

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What Color is Your Smoothie? – Book Review and Recipe

The weather is warming up and now is a good time to get out the blender.  I make a variety of different smoothie combinations.  At least I thought I knew a lot, until I received “What Color is Your Smoothie: From Red Berry Round-up to Super Smart Purple Tart” by Britt Allen Brandon.  This book makes smoothies out of a huge variety of ingredients and flavors.  There are over 300 smoothies in this book to take advantage of every vegetable, fruit, herb and spice in all the colors in the rainbow.

 

I made a few of the fruit combinations of smoothies (especially liked the Blueberry Blast), which tasted great.  However I much prefer to add frozen ingrdients instead of ice to make them cold, for a creamier texture (without potential cold lumps).  It is fun to choose the smoothie based upon the color.  Besides fun, the book also explains the benefits of each color and what vitamins and nutients are at work in each smoothie combination.

 

I eat oatmeal everyday for brekfast so we had to try the oatmeal shake before school one morning.  It was tasty but interesting, as the texture was a bit gritty.  Perhaps pulverizing the oatmeal first would’ve yielded a smoother texture.  For me I like oatmeal hot and soothing.  However my son thought it was good and would like it for breakfast on a hot day.  Good thinking!  Check it out below…

 

Review

Pros: lots of variety and combinations. Great inspirational ideas and recipes.  Easy arrangement by color: yellow, orange, red, violet, etc.  Good produce information.

Cons: I was expecting a book that has “color” in the title to have some colorful photos inside. Would like to see less use of ice and more of frozen fruits for creamier texture.  Some combinations while I’m sure healthy don;t always sound appealing (Mushroom Cauliflower?)

Maple-Cinnamon Oatmeal (page 88)

When a steaming hot bowl of oatmeal doesn’t do the trick, maybe the exact opposite is exactly wat you need.  Cool, creamy, and sweet this smoothie takes the deliscious flavors of rolled oats, aromatic cinnamon and sweet maple syrup and combines them in an out of the world oatmeal concoction that will take the place of hot oatmeal in anyone’s heart!

Yields 2 cups

1 banana peeled

1/2 cup rolled oats

1 teaspoon organic pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup vanilla almond milk

1 cup ice

In a blender combine the banana, oats, syrup, cinnamon and almond milk with 1/2 cup ice and blend until thoroughly blended.

While blending add remaining ice until desired consistency is achieved.

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Quinoa Cuisine – Book Review and Chocolate Zucchini Bread Recipe

My family is not new to eating quinoa, however I had no idea how diverse it really is.  We use it in pilafs, salads and frittata crusts.  But quinoa is a healthy ingredient not only in it’s whole stage, but as flakes and flours and with various colors and properties.  I received the Quinoa book by Jessica Harlan and Kelley Sparwasser.  Reading the introduction there is lots to learn.  For instance quinoa is not a grain, it’s actually in the goosefoot family related to beets, spinach, and chard.  Nutritionists refer to quinoa as a “pseudograin”, like buckwheat and amarynth because it has a similar nutritional profile to true gains and prepared in similar ways.

 

My family wanted to try the baked goods from the book, so I bought quinoa flakes and flour for my pantry (actually needs to be refrigerated ounce opened).  The first thing we made was the Rich Chocolate Zucchini Bread (see recipe below).  The quinoa flour is more grassy smelling and tasting, so it makes sense to pair the baked items with maybe more sugar or spice or chocolate than you’d (actually I’d) usually use.  I went with the recipe and was glad I didn’t cut back on any chocolate chips, after tasting the dough – which is not as yummy as other zucchini breads I’ve made with all purpose or wheat flours.  However once baked this was delicious and satisfied everyone’s palate.  (While combining these ingredients in photo, I wasn’t so sure).  This is also glutten free, so a great recipe to have on hand for potlucks or occassions where gluten free baking may be needed.  Unfortunately I cut the bread when it was still warm (yes, I was impatient) and it crumbled.  I wrapped the slices in plastic to hold their shape better and store, which worked well.

Next we made the Ginger Biscotti.  These too were delicious and wheat free too.  However I cheated and used half wheat flour and half quinoa.  Both because I wanted to try it (they suggest if not baking for a wheat free audience) and because I didn’t want to go to the store for more quinoa flour.  These are heavy on the ginger, so be prepared.  My son loves candied ginger and thuse these were a big hit as he shared them on a playdate.  They get very hard – a true biscotti.  So are best enjoyed dipped in coffee, tea or milk.  These are great for packaging and gift giving (prettier than my bread above) as they travel well.

Book Review

Overall:  I like this book and feel like it is a valuable resource for adding this healthy ingredient to more dishes for my family.  I look forward to trying some of the savory options such as the Tabouleh Salad, Bacon Wraped Dates, and Thai Summer Rolls.

Pros: I enjoyed learning about quinoa and all the various uses.  Also great to know for wheat and gluten free recipes for potlucks and gatherings.   Easy to identify icons for gluten free, vegetarian, vegan, freezes well, healthy choice, etc (yes, if you have my books I’m a sucker for icons).

Cons:  Wish there were photos.  Some recipes have more sugars and fats than I’d like to overcompensate for bitter quinoa flake or flours.  Some quinoa products may be more expensive and harder to find than traditional grains.

 

Rich Chocolate Zucchini Bread

You’d never know that this dense, fudgy bread is (sort of) healthy! It was inspired by a favorite recipe from Cooking Light magazine that I make every year in the late summer when zucchini are bountiful. But luckily, you don’t have to limit this bread to a summertime treat, since most supermarkets stock zucchini year-round.—JH

Serves 8 to 10 (Makes 1 Loaf)

Freezes Well, Gluten-Free, Healthy Choice, Vegetarian

 

⅔ cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons canola oil

3 large eggs

1 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 cups quinoa flour

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1½ teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

1½ cups shredded zucchini (about 1 medium zucchini)

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (6 ounces)

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with butter, shortening, or cooking spray. Place the brown sugar, canola oil, and eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat at low speed until well combined. Add the applesauce and mix on low speed until combined.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the quinoa flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add to the mixer bowl and beat, beginning at the lowest speed and gradually increasing speed, until the ingredients are smooth and well combined. Using a spoon or a rubber spatula, fold in the zucchini and the chocolate chips.

3. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the bread comes out with only a few crumbs clinging to it, about 1 hour. Let cool completely in the baking pan on a wire rack before removing and slicing.

 

Packaging Tips: To give it a professional look, bake this bread in a disposable paper baker (look for them in kitchenware or baking supply stores or online, such as at www.kingarthurflour.com). Or wrap it tightly in foodsafe cellophane or plastic wrap and tie with a ribbon. For a chocolate-lover’s gift, package the bread with a few packets of hot chocolate mix.

 

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Cake Ladies Cookbook Review and Applesauce Spice Recipe

So my oven as you know has had a few issues lately (like ruening off in the middle of my whoopie pies).  But a few days later a repairman came to fix it.  Probably is when he came, it turned on no problem.  Isn’t that always the case?  He probably thought I was crazy.  So he left and we discussed a new part that I may need to be sure it doesn’t happen again.  As soon as he left, since the oven was working I got out Cake Ladies, Celebrating a Southern Tradition by Jodi Rhoden.  I had been reading the stories of these lovely southern women (chefs, cooks, moms, grandmas, etc) who loved to make cakes as part of their heritage.

 

We were heading to friends for a large playdate so I thought I’d make and bring the Applesauce Spice Cake from Lois Mims in Pine Apple, Alabama.  Lois’ story is about using her intuition to cook and not measuring or writing things down.  Luckily she estimated for this recipe to share in the book.  And luckily my oven remained working through the baking.

Review

Pros:  Fun stories of real women living in the south and the importance of their baking to their family, community and history.  Lovely, inspiring pictures.   A cake for everyone and every occassion – even vegan cupcakes.

Cons: Each recipe is by a diffrent lady, thus some are not as consistent or exact (heaping teaspoons etc).  Not surprinsigly, many are time consuming recipes.

Applesauce Spice Cake

1 cup vegetable oil

4 large eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

2 cups self rising sugar divided

1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon

1 heaping teaspoon clove

1 cup applesauce

1 cup whole shelled walnuts, coarsely chopped*

Glaze

3 tablespoons milk

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar*

 

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350F.

Spray two 9 inch round cake pans with cooking spray and set aside.

Mix the Batter

Combine the oil, eggs, and sugars in a stand mixer.  Beat until light and fluffy and fully creamed.  Add 1 cup of the flour, and spices and beat until just combined.  Add applesauce and combine.  Then remaining flour.  Combine.  Add walnuts and fold in with a spatula.  Beat until just combined.

Bake the Cake

Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans.  Place pans in oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean and the sides of the cake pull away from the sides of the pan.  Remove from oven and cool in pans on a rack for 5 minutes before inverting onto racks to cool completely.

Make the Glaze

In a separate bowl combine the milk and the powdered sugar.  Mix with a fork or whisk until no lumps of powdered sugar remain.

Assemble the Cake

When the layers are cool, place the first layer on a plate.  Drizzle 1/4 cup of the glaze overt the first layer to cover the surface.  Allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides a little.  Place the next layer on top of the first and repeat with remianing glaze.  Applesauce spice cake can be kept at room temperature covered for up to one week.

*Lois Kitchen Wisdom

“Way back yonder we didn’t have no mixer.  When my mama used to fix the cake we had to beat it 300 strokes every time.”

(Note: I substituted peacans since I didn’t have walnuts.   Also I sifted the powdered sugar for the glaze to be sure it was smooth)

 

 

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Make the Bread, Buy the Butter – Book Review

Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What you Should and Shouldn’t Cook From Scratch by Jennifer Reese is a clever book in that is weighs making something from scratch vs. buying premade.  Jennifer was out of work and decided to try to make things (including raising chicken for eggs and goats for cheese) she might otherwise purchase to see if it really is better and cheaper to make from scrath.

 

All her kitchen experiments are told with recipes and break down’s for making vs. buying each item or dish.  Price is weighed heavily.  However she also weighs in difficulty or mess for making, which is fun and honest.  And what kinds of unhealthy ingredients you will find in premade.  She also figures in animal welfare and sustainability.

 

Of course cost doesn’t figure in your time, however many recipes can be made in the time it would take you to go to a store and buy it (guacamole anyone?).  And if you already have the ingredients (like I did with her Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins) and a bit of time, why not take pride in making it yourself?

Review:

Pros – good recipes for many everyday food items/ingredients. Fun stories about the lengths the author went to make items from scratch.  Like that each chapter takes on a theme and context for the experiment/recipe – breads, restaurant foods, dinner, cheese, Thanksgiving, etc.

Cons – some things she suggests may not always be easier to make and store (homemade vanilla and mayonaise anyone?) and a few are time consuming.  Some of the foods weren’t too appealing to me.  I wouldn’t make or buy canadian bacon, beef jerky or maraschino cherries.

 

Speaking of book reviews, I made the pumpkin chocolate chip muffins for my kids’ book fair this week.  They were a hit and appreciated by students, volunteers and teachers alike.  I was glad I made them from scratch, at home.  I made a few different recipes.  About 72 baked goods in all.  If I had bought these at a bakery or grocery store such as Whole Foods, at an average of $2 a piece, I would have spent $144.  Making them I probably spent less than $20 on ingredients.  I was surprised, and happy to see this book on the book fair cookbook table, next to mine.

 

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Peas and Thank You – New Family Meatless Cookbook Review and Give Away

Sarah Matheny, author of the popular blog, Peas and Thank You has written a new cookbook, Peas and Thank You: Simple Meatless Meals the Whole Family Will Love, after changing her family’s diet to one without meat products.  She has an easy and witty style about her writing and this book is peppered with food photos as well as her little “peas” (aka girls) enjoying her recipes.  This book has stories, tips and recipes from a mainstream family that takes on a not-so mainstream diet.

 

This book is a good one for those looking to make a diet switch and eat less animal products, as well as someone just looking for new meatless ideas.  I know I am.  Sarah has recipes from morning to night.  There are fruit smoothies for breakfast, sandwiches and salads (Hugh Jass Salad is just for mom) for lunch and hot meals (curry, jambalaya) for dinner.  Plus a few retooled desserts without the use of dairy (carrot cupakes).

 

My family made the homestyle chocolate chips cookies with sea salt, the thai veggie burgers and the homestyle spaghetti sauce.  While the cookies were good, I did notice they were missing something…butter.  But good to have a vegan recipe for such a popular treat.  Also the veggie burgers were good, but needed some sauce to lend moisture.  Luckily Sarah has a versatile almond ginger recipes that did the trick for me.  The spaghetti sauce was rich and easy (see below).  We used it on pasta as well as sauce for homemade pizza.

Review

Pros: good variety of meatless dishes, some simple and quick, fun writing style, good photos, nutritional info on each recipe, pea points on each recipe give helpful hints

Cons: some dishes require special ingredients (tempeh, non dairy cream cheese) that may be hard for some to find, some recipes are time consuming and need many ingredients

Give Away!

If you would like a chance to win a copy of Sarah’s new cookbook, Peas and Thank You, please send a comment on this post, with the name of your family’s favorite meatless recipe.  One winner will be chosen at random on Thurs. November 10, 2011 and notified via email.

 

Homestyle Spaghetti Sauce, pg. 142 from Peas and Thank You

It’s almost as easy as opening a jar, both with the added joy, if you wish, of letting it simmer for hours, rubbing garlic behind your ears, smearing a few splatters on your apron and bringing your thumb and teo fingers together to emphasize, “Now attsa some tasty sauce!”  You’d be right.

2 14.5 ounce cans organic diced tomatoes

1 6 ounce can tomato paste

1/3 cup onion, diced

1/2 cup fresh basil

2 teaspoons oregano

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a high speed blender ot food porcessor and blend until smooth.  Pour sauce into a large saucepan and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occassionally.

 

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Green Market Baking Cookbook Review with Honey Sweetened Whipped Cream

I received a lovely cookbook entitled Green Market Baking Book: 100 Delicious Recipes for Natural Sweet and Savory Treats and can’t stop looking at the illustrations.  While some may miss real photos or mouth watering desserts I like that this is different with beautiful illustrations of fruits, vegetables and herbs that are part of the recipes.  This book by Laura C. Martin highlights local, seasonal and healthful ingredients as an alternative to refined sugars and artificial sweeteners that are in most baking cookbooks.

I would buy this book for one single stand-out recipe – Honey Strawberry Shortcakes with Honey Sweetened Whipped Cream (photo below).  Actually just the whipped cream would suffice.  Yes, it is so simple, but is so fresh and can dress up anything from a shortcake or anglefood cake to a simple bowl of fresh berries.

Review

Pros: lovely illustrations, good introduction chapter about substitutions, ingredients and stocking a baking pantry. Variety of both sweet and savory recipes.

Cons: pictures of actual creations (didn’t bother me, but might others), organization by season (not my favorite new trend, and not really for a baking book).

Honey Sweetened Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup mild flavored honey, such as orange blossom or wildflower

Make sure bowl and attachments of mixer are very cold. Pour the cream into the bowl and whip until soft peaks form.

Turn off the mixer and remove bowl.  Carefully pour honey into cream and hand whisk into the cream.  Return the bowl to the mixer and finish whipping the cream to desired consistency.

Note: If you pour honey into the mixing bowl while mixer is running the whisk blade will fling strings of honey around the bowl without getting it into the cream.

 

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It’s Father’s Day…Go Grill the Crap Out of Something

I saw the message above on a greeting card and think it’s very funny.  I don’t believe it’s an accident that Father’s Day is at the begining of summer and dad’s are ready to cook and eat outside.  I guess it’s like getting back to nature and feeling like you’re living off the land and providing food for the tribe.  Or maybe it’s just to get out of the house and away from the kitchen where most of the usual action (good and bad) happens.

Whether your dad is a BBQ guy or not, celebrate everything he does (or did) for you and your family.  I sure miss mine.  I’ll make sure my husband feels appreciated and loved by our kids and even let him watch some golf (before he grills our dinner).

Happy Father’s Day Dad’s, Grandad’s, and Husband’s!

Speaking of grilling, I received a copy of the new Cookouts Veggie Style, 225 Backyard Favorites – Full of Flavor, Free of Meat., by Jolinda Hackett.  This has some great inspiration for using the grill without the meat.  Note this is a vegetarian cookbook and not vegan (although there are many recipes) as there are many dishes with cheese (grilled Haloumi – yum).  Putting on a steak is always good and easy, but what if you want to grill something lighter?  Or you have a few vegetarians for dinner guest?  Or your daughter doesn’t want to eat meat today? (yes, that’s speaking personally).   We discovered putting tofu slices on the grill with our steak suits her just fine (and the rest of the family too sometimes).  See recipe below.

Review

Pros – Lots of great sounding recipes, with simple instructions for a variety of tastes and flavors.  A few mouthwatering photos.  Good grill basic intro.

Cons – Serving sizes and yields seems very large on some recipes (4 people eat an entire head of cabbage for slaw? 1/2 cup of butter for 4 ears of corn!).

 

Easy Herb-Marinated Tofu

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 package, firm or extra firm tofu, sliced

salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together juice, oil and garlic until emulsified, then add in basil and rosemary.  Marinate tofu for at least 20 minutes or up to overnight – the longer the better.

Remove the tofu from the marinade and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Place on a well greased grill over medium heat for 5 – 6 minutes on each side.

(Make etxra for left overs.  Grilled tofu is great for salads, sandwiches and pasta dishes)

 

tofu in marinade
Tofu on grill - oops I forgot to slice first

 

 

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Meatless Meal Ideas with Part Time Vegan Cookbook Review

Part Time Vegan…Aren’t We All?  There’s a new cookbook I received called The Part Time Vegan: 201 Yummy Recipes That Put the Fun in Flexitarian by Cherise Grifoni.   Some people get so freaked out about veganism.  There’s always someone who thinks vegans are hippies or just unhealthy/picky
eaters.  Sure they can be.  But like this cookbook title infers:  we’re all part time vegans at different time of the day.  Did you eat an apple with peanut butter for a snack?  That was vegan.  Ever had grilled vegetables with balsamic and olive oil dressing?  That was a vegan meal.  So really whether we adopt an entire vegan diet or not, at some point you’re likely to eat a vegan meal or two.  Thus this book is for everyone.  Whether you’re looking for more meatless Monday dinner ideas,  cooking for a vegan guest or simply looking for more healthy ideas, The Part Time Vegan has tasty recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and desserts.

 

My family made a few things as soon as I received this cookbook.  One night it was a total vegan meal with Cashew Cream of Asparagus Soup, Orange and Raisin Curried Couscous and Vegan Pigs in a Blanket.  O.K the soup wasn’t a family favorite.  But mostly due to the texture – which was too crunchy.  I must admit too, the color isn’t very appetizing (see below)  Next time I would process the cashews to a powder for a less grainy consistency.  But the flavor was good.  Everyone loved the couscous.  I think the orange juice really made it and I will certainly make that again.  And finally with the Vegan Pigs in a Blanket, my kids discovered vegan dogs.  I had never tried these.  My kids aren’t huge hot dog eaters and they know that hot dogs are usually made with cheap, random parts (yes, I tell the truth) and thus a bit scary.  But I didn’t have anything bad to say about these and my kids thought they tasted like “regular” hot dogs.  Who knew?
The favorite recipe was the Blueberry Muffins that I brought to my son’s baseball game to share for “snack”.  These were a huge hit.  The kids loved them.  Parents were surprised when I told them they were vegan and I was asked for the recipe a few times.  Although they do have more sugar than I would normally put in a muffin, so just because it’s vegan doesn’t mean low sugar and fat.

asparagus soup
Vegan Dog Blanket
Blueberry Muffins

Review

Pros: Lots of creative and tasty recipes.  Easy to follow recipes.  Good opening chapter about veganism and some of the less familiar ingredients.

Cons:  Pictures would be nice, as would nutritional info.
Heavy on sugar for some baked goods.

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Review from Southern Living’s Big Book of Cupcakes

Who can tell?  What sets them apart?  Is it the paper wrapper?  No, sometimes muffins have papers.  Is is the flavor?  No they can both be sweet or savory.  Is it the texture?  No, both can be light and fluffy or dense.  Is it the ingredients?  Nope, pretty standard to have butter, sugar, eggs, flour, etc.  I think it comes down to frosting.

Many a time I’ve put a muffin in a paper cup and called it a cupcake when my kids were smaller.  But now they ask “where’s the frosting?”  I can still get away with making a healthy muffin (bran, fruit etc) in a cupcake paper and putting a bit of “frosting” such as cream cheese or plain fresh whipped cream.  However…a new  cookbook arrived at my house for review: Southern Living’s Big Book of Cupcakes by Jan Moon.  And things will change. 

My kids have poured over it page by page looking at beautiful cupcakes.  When I get a new cookbook, I start marking pages of recipes that look interesting and may try.  My kids have marked more than half the book and it won’t even close now.  I’m in trouble….

My mother-in-law is visiting and we happen to be celebrating her birthday, so it’s time to try the new cookbook.  After much deliberation, my mother-in-law chooses Lemon Ice Box.  Not only do these have a lovely whipped cream frosting, but also a filling.  I’ve never ventured into filled cupcakes.  Now we’re ruined.  This is definitely not a muffin.

bring on the filling
whipped cream frosting

The cupcakes took a bit of time, which was fine for another rainy weekend day.  My kids enjoyed helping the licking the beaters.  Funny thing was that I forgot the shortening.  I don’t ever buy shortening, so I guess I just glanced over when I read the instructions.  I didn’t even realize I fogot until I put the cupcakes in the oven.  Oops.  It didn’t matter.  The cupcakes were great – moist and fluffy and tasty.  It made me question why the recipe had it to begin with. Hmmm….

You’ll be reading more about this book and cupcakes from me soon, I’m sure.

My Review

Pros – there are many…appealing photos, yummy recipes, innovative ingredients and flavors (did I mention maple bacon?)  Really a bible for cupcake followers.

Cons – not many so far.  Although like many baking and cake books, there are some hard to find decorations (which if course you can substitute).  I question the use of shortening and butter.

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