Monday, March 23, 2015

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Can you believe I've never made peanut butter cookies before now? Or maybe I have but it's been so long I can't remember. Either way, I think they're one of those cookies I just haven't craved most of my adult baking life. Lately, though, I've had a hankering for them. So when I came upon this recipe and realized it doesn't use any flour (making it gluten free), I had to try them!

Peanut butter + chocolate = happiness. And I am very happy I made these delicious cookies. Whip up a batch today. They come together in no time! Let me know if you try them, okay?


Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup each granulated sugar 
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:
1. Place oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven, and preheat to 350 degrees F. 


2. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Using a heaping tablespoon (I used a small ice cream scoop that is a bit more than a tablespoon), divide dough into 24 portions (I ended up with 20). Roll each one into a smooth ball. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Using a fork, press on dough balls in two directions to form a crosshatch pattern. I dipped the fork into a small amount of granulated sugar each time to prevent sticking.

3. Bake cookies until puffed and lightly golden, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cookies cool on sheets. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.     From Everyday Food


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Window Coverings for the Mudroom

Our mudroom project has been on hold for several weeks now. My husband had surgery on his right hand two weeks ago, and prior to that the weather wasn't conducive to painting (too cold to open up the house). But that's okay. I'm a very patient person. After all, we've been living in our bungalow for almost 17 years. What's another couple of months?

Meanwhile, I've been thinking about natural woven shades for the mudroom window and door. I turned to Smith + Noble, a company whose catalog I've been receiving for years, and requested several free samples. Here are shots of the various samples I ordered.

Bhura / Earth
Bhura / Natural
Matara / Earth
Shikoku / Flax
Shikoku / Black
Lhasa / Cocoa

Do you have a preference? We do. After lots of consideration, my husband and I have narrowed down our choices to the last two shown above, Shikoku Black and Lhasa Cocoa. I am leaning toward Lhasa Cocoa. I like its uneven texture and color, and I think the warm undertones will go well with the furniture we'll probably be purchasing for the mudroom. Which one would you choose? Has anyone had experience ordering from Smith + Noble?

Monday, March 9, 2015

Royal Rose Lavender-Lemon Simple Syrup


I just discovered Royal Rose Simple Syrup at our local wine store. The colorful packaging first caught my eye, then I was intrigued by the interesting flavor combinations. On the bottle are suggested uses, including cocktails, drizzling over ice cream, stirring it into tea or making your own soda by mixing with plain seltzer. It would also be delicious mixed into butter cream frosting on vanilla cupcakes!

Made in Maine by hand in small batches, Royal Rose syrups come in flavors such as rose (obviously), cardamom-clove, ginger-lime, saffron, three chiles and jasmine, to name a few. Their website shows 11 different flavors. Only a few were offered at our wine shop. I chose the lavender-lemon, but my husband -- he doesn't care for lavender in food or drink -- would have preferred the raspberry, or orange-vanilla (the latter of which our store doesn't carry). 

The story behind how the company came to be in interesting. You can read about it here. Their passion for making a quality product is evident. As stated on their website: "We hand-make every ounce of our syrup in small batches, using only whole ingredients, 100% organic and fair-trade sugar, and filtered water." Chemical preservatives, added colors and artificial flavors are never used, which is important to me. 

On the lavender-lemon syrup bottle is a recipe for a drink called a Lavender Royale. It calls for 1/4 oz. syrup to be added to sparkling white wine. While at the wine store, I bought a bottle of Conde de Caralt Blanc de Blancs cava for this very purpose. The hint of lavender and lemon with the sparkling wine is a lovely combination! I'll admit, I added a little extra syrup, making it closer to 1/2 oz. It's delicious. Cheers!  



This is not a sponsored post.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Maple-Walnut Crumb Cake





This past Sunday was a bone-chilling, grey, rainy day. Perfect weather for baking! The more I experiment with Cup 4 Cup gluten-free flour, the more I think I prefer baked goods made with it. This crumb cake is exceptional. Moist, loaded with flavor, excellent texture. What more can you ask for!

Maple-Walnut Crumb Cake (gluten-free) 

Streusel ingredients:
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup gluten-free flour
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter cut into small pieces

 

Cake ingredients:
2 cups 
gluten-free flour (I used Cup 4 Cup brand which includes xanthan gum)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup maple syrup (I used Grade B, which is darker and richer tasting)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
7 tablespoons milk (I used skim milk, but whole milk is called for)

 

Directions:
1) Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9" square baking pan with butter or nonstick cooking spray.
2) To make the streusel, whisk brown sugar and flour well in a small bowl, then stir in walnuts. Using your fingers, work in the pieces of butter until evenly combined and mixture starts to come together. Set aside.
3) Make the batter: in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt until combined. Set aside.
4) In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and dark brown sugar on medium until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down sides of bowl. Stir in maple syrup and vanilla.
5) Alternately add the flour mixture and milk to the butter mixture, starting and ending with the flour mixture, stirring between each addition until blended.
6) Spoon half the batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle half the streusel mixture over the batter. Top with remaining batter and spread until smooth.* Crumble the remaining streusel over the top.
7) Bake until golden brown until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes (mine baked for 45 min.). Let the cake cool about 10 minutes before serving, or let cool to room temperature.

* Note: I found the batter was very sticky. I'm not sure if this is typical, or if I overmixed the batter, but I had a hard time spreading it on the bottom of the pan and had to use my fingers. The same was true of the remaining batter that goes over the streusel filling. To prevent it from mixing together, I dolloped the batter in clumps and used my fingers to "spread" it. In the oven, however, the cake filled in beautifully and the final product was perfect.



Monday, March 2, 2015

My Favorite Gluten-free Breakfast Products

Since eliminating gluten from my diet almost a year ago, I've had fun experimenting with different gluten-free products. I thought I'd share some of my favorites with you. Regardless whether you need to avoid gluten for health reasons or not, you might enjoy giving a few of these products a try.

Breakfast Cereal:
Erewhon Quinoa & Chia organic cereal is super healthy with very little sugar -- less than 1 gram! I'm sure that for most people the taste could take some getting used to. But I've grown to really like it. Plus, with 6 grams of protein, it holds me over until lunchtime. I like to add a little Erewhon Cocoa Crispy Rice cereal to the Quinoa & Chia to give it some sweetness and variation in texture. Erewhon's Buckwheat & Hemp is also very good, gluten free and has 6 grams of protein, though it has 6 grams of sugar too, but that is still on the low side compared to most cereals.


Bread:
Hands down my favorite gluten-free bread is Glutino brand. I've tried the seeded, mutigrain and cinnamon raisin, shown below, and they are all delicious and as close to "real" bread as I've had so far. I'm very happy to have found this bread. Very happy. I haven't tried Glutino's English muffins yet, but they might be next on the list. I love an English muffin with orange marmalade for breakfast!

This is not a sponsored post.
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