Monthly Archives: January 2012

One-Bowl Chocolate Agave Cake with Agave Whipped Cream

Have you ever just been in the mood for a piece of cake? And you look around the kitchen in search for a delectable dessert only to come up empty-handed? This happened to me a few weeks ago, but fortunately it was the weekend and I had a spare hour. So I searched the internet and found a recipe for a one-bowl chocolate cake. The name sounded promising, for fewer bowls used would equal fewer bowls to clean up later on. The recipe also showed promise because the ingredients were all things that I normally have in my cupboards. I halved the recipe to just make one round pan instead of a more complicated layer cake, swapped the flour for the whole wheat version, and used agave instead of sugar. While the cake baked I searched the internet for a frosting. Whipped cream sounded good to me, especially because it only required three ingredients.
It turns out that I did have a cake in my kitchen. All of the ingredients were there, it just took a little bit of creativity and some mixing to make the cake a reality. Within an hour SensitiveHusband and I were able to enjoy this great dessert.

One Bowl Chocolate Cake
Ingredients:
2/3 cup agave nectar
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup boiling water

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour one nine-inch round pan.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the agave nectar, egg, milk, oil and vanilla. Mix for 2 minutes on medium speed of mixer. Stir in the boiling water last. Pour into the prepared pan.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Whipped Cream Topping
Ingredients:
1 cup heavy cream
1/8 cup agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preparation:
Whip cream until almost stiff. Add agave and vanilla; beat until cream holds peaks. Spread over top of cooled chocolate cake or another dessert. Top the whipped cream with grain-sweetened chocolate chips if desired.

I am sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Food Trip Friday, Cybele Pascal Allergen-Free Cuisine and Sweet as Sugar Cookies.

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The VegFest and Recipe Request

Greetings! Back in November I interviewed the founder of Wholesome Creations and mentioned that she was also organizing a healthy living festival. Well, the details are out and I want to share them with you! The Connecticut Vegetarian and Healthy Living Festival is taking place at the Connecticut Convention Center from April 28-29, 2012. It will bring together people who want to live a healthy lifestyle with exhibitors and professionals who can help them achieve their goals. Whether you live in the area or not, there are ways in which you can participate. Below are a few ideas:

1. Save the Date! The festival will be held at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford from April 28-29, 2012. There is no entrance fee (wow!) except for a non-perishable vegan/vegetarian food item to donate to food banks and shelters. What a wonderful way to encourage event attendance and help those who rely on the generosity of others for their meals. You can stay up-to-date on the details of the event by visiting the web site, ctvegfest.org, following @ctvegfest on twitter, and joining the CT VegFest group on Facebook.

2. Participate! The CTVegFest is looking for people who are willing to volunteer – a little bit or a lot – to help make this event a success. Fill out the volunteer form on the web site to explore your options, or join the meeting on February 8, 6pm, at the Holiday Inn Express on Brainard Road in Hartford.

3. Share Recipes that are Great! A vegan (no animal-derived ingredients used) cookbook is being produced as a fundraiser for the festival, and we have been asked for our favorite recipes to be included. You can submit your dish online – I just shared a recipe for Golden Raisin and Apple Stuffing.

The CTVegFest is shaping up to be a great event. As more information becomes available I’ll share it, and I hope to see you there!

You Will Make These Popovers Over and Over

Popovers, light and hollow rolls made from an egg batter, are a yeast-free, sugar-free treat. Popovers are an American recipe that are thought to have descended from English batter puddings and Yorkshire puddings, although the origin is a bit uncertain. Puddings in medieval times were not like today’s custard-like desserts, but rather were meat-based.

According to Food Timeline, “17th century English puddings were either savory (meat-based) or sweet (flour, nuts & sugar) and were typically boiled in special pudding bags.” In the 1840s, as Americans found that they did not need to boil traditional puddings to feed their families because there was enough of a food supply, Alfred Bird introduced custard powder as an alternative to thickeners made from eggs. “It wasn’t long before Americans began using custard powder and other cornstarch derivatives as thickeners for custard-type desserts. This proved quite useful for overlander (conestoga wagon) cooks who did not have ready access to a reliable supply of fresh eggs.”

However, Chef James Beard claimed that the American popover was not derived from the English Yorkshire pudding – so it’s up to you to decide the popover’s origin; perhaps you can create a new recipe and make it your own classic.

Thanks, Bree, for making these delicious popovers for our dinner celebration!

One word of caution from the cook – a popover tin will provide the best results; using a muffin tin may cause disappointment to you and others at your dinner table.

Popovers (Adapted from Martha Stewart): Makes 12
2 1/2 c milk
2 1/2 c all purpose flour
Pinch salt
6 whole lg eggs
2 lg egg yolks
1/4 c very soft butter

Heat oven 425 degrees. Whisk milk, flour, salt until just incorporated. Will be lumpy.

Beat in eggs and yolks one at a time, until just incorporated. Do not over mix. Will be lumpy.

Brush inside of popover tins with generous amount of butter. Divide batter evenly among tins. Bake 20 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350; bake until puffed and golden brown, 15-20 minutes more. Serve immediately.

I am sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Food Trip Friday and Cybele Pascal Allergen-Free Cuisine.

Baked Cornish Game Hens: A Fun Dinner Option

I like serving Cornish game hens when I am looking for something festive that does not require roasting an entire chicken or turkey. They don’t take too long to prepare and are really tasty, therefore good for celebration meals as well as any dinner. Cornish game hens have a lot of nutrients and are good sources of some B vitamins, phosphorous, zinc and riboflavin, among others.

SensitiveHusband and I prepared these on New Year’s Eve, diverging from the original recipe by reducing the butter and swapping the onion with a carrot. We also used thyme instead of oregano. Serve with any of your favorite starch and vegetable – we had couscous and roasted brussels sprouts.

Ingredients:
2 Cornish game hens
1/3 cup melted butter, divided
1/2 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
12 button mushrooms, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Preparation:
–Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
–In a small bowl combine 1/4 cup melted butter, celery, carrot, mushrooms, garlic, basil, thyme and parsley.
–Season hens inside and out with salt and pepper to taste, then stuff with equal amounts butter/vegetable mixture. Place stuffed birds in a 9×13 inch baking dish, breast side up. Drizzle with 1/4 cup melted butter and sprinkle with parsley.
–Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 1 1/2 hours. Remove cover and brown at 500 degrees F.

I am sharing my recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free and Food Trip Friday.

Spinach Gratin and Green Beans Almondine

And now…the remaining recipes from our holiday menu! These two dishes are great to bring to others’ houses. I know this first-hand because these vegetables were brought to our house and they worked so well with the rest of the meal. They are easy to prepare too!

The first is Spinach Gratin, which my sister-in-law brought. It is from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Parties cookbook.  She made a change to accommodate my food sensitivities (replacing the onions with garlic) and tweaked the recipe further for a little boost in nutrition (using whole wheat flour, lighter cream, and less salt). The ingredients and preparation follow.
 
1/2 stick unsalted butter
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup light cream
2 cups milk
5 10-ounce boxes of frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
 
Preheat oven to 425.  Melt butter over medium heat – add garlic.  Add flour and nutmeg and stir for 2 minutes. Next add cream and milk – cook until thickened. After squeezing away liquid from defrosted spinach, add to pan.  Put in 1/2 parmesan cheese in the mix, and season with salt and pepper.
 
Put entire mixture into a baking dish, and add 1/2 cup parmesan and 1/2 cup Gruyere to top. Bake for 20 minutes. Delicious!

My mother-in-law also brought this dish of Green Beans Almondine. I just love green beans – especially in this classic dish. They make fabulous leftovers too. Here is the recipe:

1 lb green beans
2 tablespoons slivered almonds
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Cook green beans by either steaming or covered in a small amount of boiling salted water until crisp-tender. Drain. Cook almonds in butter over low heat, stirring occasionally, until golden. Remove from heat and add juice. Pour over beans.

Enjoy these great recipes; and here is to happy holiday meals together.

Aim sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free and Food Trip Friday.

Whoopie! It’s the New Year! Fill 2012 with Agave-Sweetened Whoopie Pies!

Happy New Year to you!
May every great new day
Bring you sweet surprises–
A happiness buffet.

Happy New Year to you,
And when the new year’s done,
May the next year be even better,
Full of pleasure, joy and fun.

By Joanna Fuchs

I always get nostalgic at this time of year, thinking about the moments that made the biggest impressions on me during the past year along with hopes for the future. The turn of the calendar marks one year that I have been yeast and sugar free. It’s quite an accomplishment for me, who always used to crave a chocolate candy at 3pm and loaded up on more sugar than I ever realized. With the help of my family, friends, coworkers, acquaintances, cookbook authors, blog readers and authors, and so many others, I am learning how to keep my foods and life sweet while staying cane sugar free. And for that – I thank all of you!

And whoopie for 2012! It’s time to celebrate with some agave-sweetened whoopie pies! Have you ever tasted a fresh, homemade whoopie pie? Just picture two chocolate discs, cookie sized, with a layer of sweet vanilla buttercream frosting in the middle. Yum! I first acquired a hankering for whoopie pies when I went out to eat with two friends and one ordered them for dessert. I looked at her delicious dessert and thought, “I bet I could make that.” So I found a recipe and went to work altering it – I used whole wheat flour, eliminated the Crisco and substituted with plain yogurt and butter, and used agave nectar instead of sugar. The results were phenomenal. I hope that you enjoy this recipe and that your new year is filled with sweetness.

For Cake:
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 cup milk
2/3 cup agave nectar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tbsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Blend the first five ingredients together. Then add the remaining ingredients to complete the batter. Drop by the tablespoonful onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8 minutes at 375 degrees or until a toothpick comes out clean.

For Filling:
1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup agave nectar
1 tbsp  flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup warm milk

Beat with a mixer for approximately 5 minutes until a fluffy, frosting-like filling emerges.

Assembly:
Once the cakes are cool, match each with its closest in size. Spread some filling on the flat side of one, then place the second on top. Repeat with remaining cakes.

I am sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Food Trip Friday, Cybele Pascal Allergen-Free Cuisine, Sweet as Sugar Cookies, This Chick Cooks and Something Swanky.