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baking

Around this time last week, James and I hit the road from the tip of the Mitt back to Brooklyn.  We had been in Northern Michigan for two weeks and unfortunately our vacation had come to an end.  We had a great time hanging out with family and friends but I think Sofie was the one who had the most fun!  We stayed at James’ parents house on Crooked Lake and Sofie had her first real taste of the water.  Living up to the Labrador reputation, she absolutely LOVED the water.  There were 4 other dogs of all sizes and ages at the house at one point – even a 6 month old German Shorthaired Pointer who bonded with Sofie right off the bat.  They became instant friends!

sb-north-mich-01

Taken when we first arrived, Sofie instantly took to the water!

sb-north-mich-02Perfect day on Crooked Lake

sb-north-mich-03Max the Schnoodle & Nellie the Wheaten Terrier wait for their turn on the jet ski

sb-north-mich-04Camo the German Shorthaired Pointer & Sof… You wouldn’t know it but they became best buds!

sb-north-mich-05Izzo the Goldendoodle & Sof playing tug-o-war

sb-north-mich-06James wearing his bday present from Sofie

sb-north-mich-07I just love the tall trees that inhabit Northern Michigan

sb-north-mich-08Sun setting out on Crooked Lake

sb-north-mich-09Snow crab on our last night in Northern Michigan – SO GOOD!!

sb-north-mich-10Strawberry-rhubarb pie – DELICIOUS!

This is the 4th year in a row that James and I have vacationed in Michigan over the 4th of July.  It has become a tradition that we absolutely love!

A while back, I made a cross-stitch piece of Crooked Lake, where we stay every summer.  James’ parents loved the piece and at James’ suggestion, I made another piece that will be a part of the Crooked Lake Yacht Club auction next week Friday, the 26th.  I’m very excited about it!

sb-stitches-crooked-lake

James & I finally had the chance to join our neighborhood CSA this summer.  The morning of June 16th was the first day we were to pick up our first round of vegetables, fruits, eggs and flowers.  That morning, James woke me promptly at 9am.  “It’s time to start waking up!” he told me softly.  “We have to go pick up our CSA!”

“Ok, give me a few minutes,” I replied with my eyes closed, too heavy to open.  I was not quite ready to wake up.

A few minutes passed and James attempted waking me up again.  I opened my eyes to him bright-eyed and smiling.  He was as excited as a little kid on Christmas morning – minus the giddy screaming and jumping on the bed.

We enjoyed the morning walk to McCarren Park where we were to pick up our veggie/fruit/egg/flower share and returned home with two large bags filled with fresh produce.  We had to clean out the fridge to make room for all the wonderful goodies!

greenpoint wiliamsburg csaWe’re now almost three months into our bi-weekly CSA pickup.  It has become a Saturday morning ritual.  Though the excitement of waking up early on a Saturday morning has worn off, we definitely have come up with a routine that consists of setting our alarms, getting all our bags ready and taking the walk over to the pickup area at the park.

We scoured the internet for fun and interesting recipes to make with our yummy produce.  Some were amazing and others… well… not so much.  Below are some of our favorites:

For weeks before my birthday I scoured the internet trying to find a cake recipe that I could eat.  Carrot cake, yellow cake, spice cake, banana cake, coconut cake, blah blah blah.  They all sounded quite yummy but none of them stayed with me.  Really, the only thing my mouth watered for was the chocolate cake that James’ mom makes for his birthday.

And then one day it hit me… Why not take that chocolate cake and turn it into carob cake?  I was a little wary about the idea at first but decided to give carob another shot. The last (and only) time I had utilized carob as a chocolate replacement was in a cookie recipe.   I used carob chips instead of chocolate chips and the end result were cookies that were quite messy and had a raisin-y flavor.  It wasn’t my favorite (or tastiest) baking experiment but — needless to say — all the cookies ended up being eaten!

I turned this recipe into cupcakes instead of one massive cake mostly because ‘carob cake’ doesn’t sound nearly as enticing as ‘carob cupcakes’ now does it?  Not to mention they come in convenient single-size portions!  (Though if you’re anything like me, the single-size portion idea — or one portion at all — is thrown right out the window with baked goods.)  I iced the tops with whipped coconut cream and threw in some maple syrup and vanilla for a little bit of flavor and then sprinkled the tops with unsweetened shredded coconut.  They turned out to be a huge hit!  I’m definitely happy I decided to give carob another chance.

I must say that most people wouldn’t know the difference if they weren’t told of it but I have a feeling James will be paying more attention to the cake the next time his birthday comes around!

carob cupcakes gerbera daisies cup of coffee

Carob Cupcakes

  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/3 cup carob powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup boiling water

Combine maple syrup, oil and egg.  Mix in flour, carob, soda and vanilla.  Add boiling water and stir until combined.  Divide batter equally into cupcake tins.  Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 12-17 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.  Let cool on wire rack and ice!

My family and closest friends know that I am absolutely obsessed with chocolate and basically anything that contains it.  Unfortunately for me, I am restricted from chocolate of any kind on the Candida diet.  I was devastated at first but it turns out after a couple weeks of being chocolate-free, the cravings had subsided.   <Insert random story here>  Around Halloween I had a bag of chocolates in the office – for my co-workers, I swear!  On occasion, I would stick my head in the bag and get a big whiff of the chocolate emanating from all the little wrapped packages.  Weird?  Yes.  But a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do in times of crisis!

Anywhoo…

A few days ago I started craving the chocolate pie my mother used to make for my family and I (but mostly for me) during the holidays.  It was always the first dessert to disappear in our household.  I would often find myself going to the refrigerator for the very last slice only to realize that one of my older brothers had already eaten it for breakfast.

the pancake girl ghirardelli dark chocolate chopped

Chocolate Cream Pie (from Mrs. Fields’ I Love Chocolate! Cookbook)

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

1. In a large saucepan combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, cream and milk.  Mix dry ingredients with whisk before adding to liquid.  Bring to simmer over medium heat stirring constantly to dissolve sugar – about 12 minutes.  Remove from heat.

2. In a small bowl, beat the yolks and eggs.  Whisk 1/4 cup of cream into eggs to warm them.  Transfer eggs into cream.  Cook over medium heat stirring constantly, until it is of pudding texture – about 6 minutes.  DO NOT BOIL!  Remove from heat and add chocolate.  Stir until chocolate is all melted.  Add vanilla.  Spread custard onto pie and cover pie with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 4 hours.

About 6 months ago some friends took James & I to a restaurant in Brooklyn called Brooklyn Star for dinner.  It was some pretty tasty and interesting southern comfort food — most notably the fried pig tails (yes… bones and all) and cornbread with bacon and jalapeño.  The cornbread ended up being the talk of the meal.  It was fantastic.  So fantastic that I took the taste home with me and came up with my own rendition!

Below you’ll find my interpretation for a gluten-free, savory, spicy and slightly sweet corn muffin.  They go well with chili, sloppy joes and your upcoming Thanksgiving dinner!

corn muffins with bacon and serrano peppers

Brooklyn’s Star Muffins

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon xantham gum
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup rice milk
  • 5 slices of bacon, cooked (4 slices chopped, 1 slice chopped fine for topping)
  • 2 small serrano peppers chopped fine with seeds! (if you’d like a slighly less spicy muffin, try the seeds from one pepper or replace use jalapeño peppers instead)
  • 1/4 cup corn chopped fine (for topping)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray muffin tins with cooking spray.*

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.  Add bacon, peppers and seeds to dry ingredients and mix until bacon and peppers are coated with flour mixture.  Mix maple syrup, eggs, canola oil and rice milk in small bowl.  Add liquid to dry mixture and fold ingredients together until just combined – lumps are OK!

Pour batter into muffin tins.  Sprinkle tops with chopped corn and bacon bits.  Bake for 12-15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.  ENJOY!

*You can also bake the cornbread in a skillet (see below) this is how it is served at Brooklyn Star.

cornbread with bacon and serrano peppers in a skillet

As most of you know, the weeks of October are prime time for apple picking.  Seeing that I’m not allowed to eat apples on my diet, we decided to skip our annual trip to the apple orchard.  Insert crying sad face here.

The past couple of weeks I’ve read plenty of Facebook posts about friends going apple picking which have lead to some serious cravings for apple crisp.  Like stupid insane cravings…  Like I would kill someone for a piece with vanilla ice cream… YUM.  Ok, so I wouldn’t really kill someone but you get the point.

Below you’ll find an extremely easy recipe for apple crisp (and a really fun photo by James Farrell from our 2010 apple picking adventure in Maine).  Enjoy the wonderful smells that emanate from your stove and fill your house.  You won’t be disappointed, I promise.

Best-Ever Apple Crisp (from the Anita Quasquicentennial Cookbook)

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 4 cups sliced apples (I usually leave the skins on mine but that’s entirely up to you!)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 nutmeg

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Work the sugars, flour and butter together with a pastry blender until crumbly.  Place sliced apples in a greased, shallow 9×9 inch baking dish.  Pour water and lemon juice over apples and sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg.  Spread crumb mixture over the top.  Bake, uncovered for 50 to 60 minutes or until crust is crisply browned.  Serve warm with ice cream.