State Fair

State Fair
State Fair Ribbons

Friday, September 16, 2011

Simple vegan cupcakes-you can lick the bowl!

When I first wanted to bake for someone who was on the low iodine diet, I searched the net for vegan recipes knowing I could use non iodized salt in anything out there.
Immature female Eastern Bluebird at my "vegan restaurant"
I came across this Allrecipes Vegan Cupcake.  I adapted the recipe to suit my tastes, what lived in my pantry, and my temporary diet restriction.   Packaged nut "milks" include sea salt.  So I made my own cashew nut "milk" adapted from here.
One of the good things about vegan batter is you can lick the bowl and utensils with no worries.  If your cupcakes are under done, they are still okay to eat! This recipe makes a moist, delicious cupcake. The flavor reminds me of a breakfast food for some reason.  You can frost them or eat them plain.  I usually drizzle them with a delicious lemon glaze recipe I found on Cookie Madness.  Anna used it on her pumpkin molasses loaves.   This time because I'm on a low iodine diet and I can't have dairy (and I was lazy!), they remained naked.  
 The "flashy" picture

Here is my adapted recipe:
1 tablespoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (I used lemon juice)
1 1/2 cups cashew milk or other nut milk
2 cups all-purpose flour (I use 1 cup AP and one cup whole wheat pastry)
3/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon orange extract (I've only used one half so far, but I think they could use more)

Preheat oven to 350°.  This recipe makes approximately 18 cupcakes so you will need two greased 12 cup muffin pans or you can use 18 liners.

Female Ruby Throat Hummingbird at my "vegan restaurant"
Put the one tablespoon of lemon juice into a 2 cup measuring cup. Fill with nut milk to make one and a half cups. Let stand until curdled or about 10 minutes. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  In a separate bowl whisk together the nut milk lemon mixture, oil, and extract.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just blended. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups filling at least two thirds of the cup.

Bake in the preheated oven until the top springs back when lightly pressed-15 to 20 minutes. (I baked mine for 17 minutes in an oven set at 345° because my oven runs a little hot)  Cool in the pan on wire rack.
Frost with your favorite frosting or icing-I like the lemon icing because it complements the orange extract in the cupcakes.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Croutons, or what you make when life gives you bad bread brain.

I am temporarily on a low iodine diet. That means I can't have any dairy products, soy products, fish or sea salt products, or anything packaged with red dye or added salt.  I should be losing lots of weight since that list includes just about everything! The problem is  peanut butter, olive oil, unsalted nuts, Jennies Coconut Macaroons, and other vegan goodies!   I haven't attempted making bread in about eight or nine years, but if I want to eat bread, I need to make bread. I went out to the trusty Internet to look for no-knead (I have bad arms) vegan bread recipes.   I was hit in the face with hundreds of no knead recipes!  I settled on an excellent recipe from Baking Bites.  It was a flavorful, easy recipe that I didn't follow correctly :(
I thought whole wheat pastry flour could easily be substituted for whole wheat flour.  (You bread makers are probably laughing and shaking your fingers at me right now!)  I made a tasty bread, but it crumbled a bit when cut... not enough gluten in pastry flour to hold the bread together.
Lesson learned. But I made lemonade out of my lemon! I made the best croutons I've ever had (other than those fabulous homemade croutons at Ruby Tuesday's)!
Did you know they taste fantastic floating in tomato or chicken soup??...just throw them in right before you eat it.

Vegan whole wheat croutons

Here is the recipe as loosely as possible adapted from the Food Network:
Preheat oven to 400°
Line a cookie sheet with foil

You will need:
1 loaf whole wheat bread cubed (I like using fresher bread...then you get crispy on the outside and still a little chewy on the inside)
1/3-1/2 cup olive oil (I used 1/2 cup extra-virgin because I was out of  regular olive oil)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Pour the bread cubes into a large bowl. Set-aside. Blend the next four ingredients until incorporated, approximately 10 or 15 seconds. (Or if you want an aerobic workout you can shake it up in a watertight container for a few minutes.)  You might want to taste the oil to make sure it has enough seasonings before you drizzle.
Drizzle the mixture over the bread cubes and then gently stir to make sure they are coated.  Pour them onto a foil lined pan, spread them out, and bake for approximately 15-18 minutes or until they begin to brown.
Most importantly: Resist the urge to eat them all right out of the oven!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Chocolate sauce and one more State Fair pic

I made a chocolate sauce last week that I thought came out pretty tasty!  The basic recipe came from Allrecipes-you might want to try this recipe first to decide whether or not you think it is too bitter.  I had to add to it because the final product was too bitter for me.   I LOVED the sauce with my modifications. (One including cheap milk chocolate flavored melting wafers. Somehow my mom found these wafers for $.99 at the grocery store or at Walgreens. I reluctantly took them from her-she was so excited at the bargain. I looked at them and said to myself: cheap chocolate flavored cr-p.  However, when I tasted them, I fell in love.... and I am not a milk chocolate fan!)
When barely warmed, this sauce is delicious on ice cream and did not seize up.   Here is what the sauce looks like (YUM).

My brother posing with the MN legendary State Fair Food:

Here is the modified recipe for 1/2 the amount of chocolate sauce (it goes a long way):
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup baking cocoa (I used Hershey's unsweetened)
  • 1.5 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup reduced fat milk
  • 1.5 tablespoons strong brewed coffee (I use decaffeinated)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons salted butter
**1/8 cup milk chocolate fondue candy wafers ( these cut down on the bitterness)

In a small saucepan combine brown sugar, cocoa, and cornstarch. Whisk together until well combined.   Stir milk and coffee together and then stir into dry ingredients until well combined.  Cook on medium heat stirring constantly until mixture boils and then continue to stir for 1 to 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.   Add butter, vanilla, and milk chocolate candy wafers.  Stir until smooth.  Refrigerate leftovers if you have any!  This was so easy even I could do it!    

**  You can purchase the cheap, chocolate flavored, NOT crappy melting wafers online here: Make n Mold melting wafers.