Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Too much?

Too much cookie dough at 10:38 pm. Too many excuses for not baking. Too many months without blogging? Too much?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Goodbye Summer, Hello Pie

I know summer isn't technically over yet, as there are still 18 days until the autumnal equinox, but Labor Day definitely seems to socially and culturally recognize the changing of the seasons. This past Labor Day weekend in Colorado was simply BEAUTIFUL. Last week's cooler breezes led to a drop in temperature, registering city highs more than 10 degrees below the constant 85 pluses entered in the record books every day for the past two months, and it almost reached freezing in the mountains (woo hoo!). I had grand hiking plans scheduled for this weekend and last, but thanks to a pesky summer cold, I stayed home and took respite in my city, my neighborhood, and cozy abode just before a very busy fall begins.

Crisp and quiet mornings, no longer humming with swamp cooler and fan vibrations, led to early morning phone conversations with Mama while still under my covers. Plentiful sunshine inspired yard work and a sense of ownership, even if I'm just a longer term renter. Time to actually relax and not rush, rush, rush anywhere allowed for walks to coffee, sidewalk chats with strangers, leisurely shopping, homemade cookies, friends in the park, and more than a few movies, that all resulted in a return to whole health and a deep appreciation for each and every thing that makes Colorado my home. It's been 9 years now. Wow.

One of the most welcome additions to The Spectacular Summer of 2011 was "Family Dinner." A friend of mine invited me to join her group of weekly, home cooked, family style meals. Before I got sick, I got to host. We had two extra guests to our usual group of five and feasted on a fresh green salad, chicken kabobs, mushroom and asparagus risotto, and wayyyyyy too much wine :) What did we have for dessert you ask? We had pie. Delicious, fresh and easy, strawberry pie.

Jenni's Shortbread Crust & Strawberry Pie
Makes 1, 9 inch pie

3 TBS sugar
1 tsp salt
4 TBS unsalted butter
1 large egg yolk (freeze your white in a glass jar and save it for later!)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
large pie plate
small bowl
2 TBS cornstarch
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1 (3 oz) package strawberry jello
1 quart fresh organic strawberries (why organic? this is why)
small sauce pan
silicone spatula

1. Make you crust first!
2. Turn on oven to 375
3. Add sugar and salt to your small bowl and mix briefly with a fork
4. Add butter and mix with fork until it's evenly incorporated
5. Add egg and vanilla and mix with fork again until you have a shortbread crumble that looks like this:
6. Press this crumble into your pie plate, starting in the middle and working your way up the sides until it looks like this:

7. Cook in oven for 10 minutes
8. Rotate dish and cook for 10 more minutes OR until the crust just starts to brown

9. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack
10. Now make the filling!
11. Add cornstarch and water to a sauce pan on a stove
12. Turn burner on to medium heat
13. Mix with a fork until no more clumps of starch remain and the water is uniformly cloudy
14. Add sugar and stir until boiling
15. Remove from heat and add jello

16. Mix until no more clumps remain and your pan is full of red, transparent goo
17. Set aside and let cool to room temperature
18. Rinse your strawberries, remove their tops, and cut in half

19. Place strawberries in the crust and arrange, evenly spaced and (if you like) cut side down (the pretty way)
20. Pour the red goo mixture over the strawberries slowly, letting it settle throughout the dish and not come over the edge of your crust
21. Chill for at least 4 hours
22. Serve with whipped cream!

Make a strawberry pie now before the last fresh harvests of the summer. Berry season ends soon. Then Autumn, you may come. I am rested and ready for you!

Next up is lots of weekend work, a big birthday bash, and most importantly, S N O W.

Thank you summer for so much fun. Thank you Labor Day for some much needed rest. Thank you Colorado for being my beloved home. Thank you Earth for your delicious bounty!

Okay. I'm done now. Peace out :)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Vegan Frontier

Welp, I finally have a night off and am seated comfortably on the floor of my bedroom, between my bed and wall. This is the spot in my house where my cell phone works best, fresh breezes carrying the scent of grass and shrubs and backyard blooms float in, and blog posts are typed.

I know, I know, I've talked about them several times now but the wait is finally over - vegan cupcakes are here! After 3 batches, a slew of solicited advice, and these new ingredients in my reserves,

they are ready for you! Keep these recipes handy for granolas, animal lovers, and anyone who can't eat dairy.

Jenni's White Vegan Cupcakes
Makes 18, can double or triple.

1 TBS apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 c almond milk
2 c unbleached all purpose flour
1 c white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c coconut oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
2 c or larger glass measuring cup
small bowl
medium bowl
silicone spatula
a small sauce pan, only if your coconut oil is solid
3 6-cup or 2 12-cup muffin pans
wire cooling racks

1. Line 18 mufin cups with paper liners and set aside (I used these - excellent quality!)
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
*If your coconut oil is still solid in its jar, scoop into saucepan and heat on low, constantly stirring until liquefied*
3. Add the vinegar and almond milk to a glass measuring cup, and set aside until curdled (about 5 minutes)
4. In medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
5. In small bowl, whisk together coconut oil, vanilla and almond extracts.
6. Add the vinegar milk mixture to the small bowl and whisk again.
7. Pour liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir JUST until combined with no dry lumps
8. Spoon batter into the lined muffin cups (a quarter cup measure works just about perfect for me!)
9. Bake for 18 minutes or before any browing occurs
10. Remove from oven and cool pan on wire racks completely
11. Remove cupcakes from pan and frost!
12. Use my frosting recipe below :)

Jenni's Fluffy Vegan Citrus Frosting
Makes enough to frost 18 cupcakes with a tip. If you will just use a knife, cut recipe in half.

1 orange
1 lemon
1 lime
1 c Earth Balance Buttery Sticks room temperature or slightly melted
6 c-ish powdered sugar (more if it's hot or your citrus is extra zesty!)
2/3 c almond milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
a citrus zester or the smallest side of a cheese grater (this is the BEST to zest!)
large bowl
silicone spatula
standing or hand held mixer

1. Wash your citrus well to remove all of the commercially applied wax
2. Zest your cirtus and set aside. Don't know how to zest? Learn here.
3. In large bowl, beat buttery sticks on high speed for 10 seconds
4. Add 2 c sugar and mix on low for 10 seconds, scraping down the side of the bowl as you go
5. Increase mixer speed to high and continue incorporating sugar until smooth
6. Add 1/3 c milk and mix for 10 seconds
7. Repeat steps 3 and 4
8. Add the vanilla
9. Repeat step 4
10. Add the citrus zest and mix on high for a last 30-60 seconds until evenly incorporated
11. Frost your cupcakes!
12. Serve to wedding guests ;)

P.S. For plain 'ole vanilla frosting simply leave out the zest. The frosting will actually set up a bit better and look more like this:

Strawberry pie will is next but now it's time to switch from yoga clothes to pj's, settle into bed with my book, and let the crickets and cicadas send me off to sleep. G'night!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I Have the Most Awesome Friends

Really. I do. I often times feel like the most fortunate person in the world. And I don't just have one or two. I have a lot. And they are all awesome. I never seem to be able to find enough words or occasions to tell them all how much I love them and how much they mean to me. So I hope some of you read this:

I love you and I wouldn't be complete without you. You are my family and I feel so lucky to know and share this wonderful life with you :)

I have a new VEGAN recipe to post but I'm feeling overly sentimental today, so that will have to wait...

These are some of my friends.
They often times taste my baked creations first. Thank you Acorns for your tummies and taste buds!

Now check out these two.
They got married last weekend. My vegan cupcakes were perfected and presented at their welcome bbq (no, not the ones in these pictures). Aww, aren't they cute?
I think the key to having awesome friends is to only surround yourself with relationships that truly matter. Those based on shared values, shared respect, and shared fun. I think this pair works because they are best friends.
Ha! Obvious, no?

Now go call a friend you haven't talked to in a while. Or make a new one. It will make your day. Promise ;)