Monday, October 17, 2011

Coconut Butter - vegan & gluten free

Sometimes, just one ingredient can yield delicious results. I have this post labeled as "vegan & gluten free," but, in fact, it's free of everything - and every allergen - besides coconut. for real. The hardest part? Finding unsweetened coconut. I found plenty of sweetened coconut on the regular grocer's shelves, but this definitely needs unsweetened, which I found at Whole Foods. For some reason, the magic doesn't work on sweetened coconut.

1) Straight out of the bag and 2) briefly processed

I first saw this recipe for coconut butter on shutterbean, and then seeing it on Heather Eats Almond Butter strengthened my resolve. It really is as easy as it sounds, even with help. The result? yummyness. It's going to Mom, so she'll have to leave a review as well. I think this has great potential as a Christmas present...

three more stages along the way
Coconut Butter - vegan, corn free, peanut free, soy free & gluten free
flaked or shredded unsweetened coconut (I used about 6 oz, or 3-4 cups at a time)
dash of salt (optional)
splash (about 1/2 tsp) vanilla or almond extract (optional)

Process in your food processor for 15-ish minutes, or until the coconut has turned smooth and liquidy. Note that it's not going to be perfect; there will still be some grittiness. Scrape the sides down periodically to make sure you incorporate all the coconut. Add salt and agave or an extract to taste and pulse to mix.

The second time I made it, I added the salt and vanilla at the beginning, and I think it's easier that way. But I think for your first time, you should add any additional flavors at the end as well. That way you can taste what you made before deciding what you need.

Eat. Maybe on these? or these? or this? or simply on your finger toast.

see? it really does work!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

How to Peel a Head of Garlic in Under 10 Seconds

I could hardly believe it when I saw that headline either. But over at Saveur, Executive Food Editor Todd Coleman does magic. This may not be super useful for peeling one or two cloves for your evening pasta-for-two, but for making big batches of things? yes, please!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Short & Sweets on Amazon

You may have checked out the Contact tab when I did the big reveal a few weeks ago. And while you were there, you may have noticed the nifty graphic and link to my Amazon store - Make your own Sweet Life.  It contains both items I have and love as well as items I want or think are somehow fabulous.

When you purchase something thru my store, I get a small commission. If you start in my store and find other products you then purchase thru links within Amazon, those commissions will also be included in my account. I'm not going to make millions with this, and that's ok. But I wanted to be able to share with you some of my favorite things as well as maybe buy a stick or two of vegan butter.

I'm really telling you about all this in the interest of full disclosure. I think it's important.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread - dairy free

Last week my brain was a little explod-y with details. For some reason there seemed to be a lot more to keep track of than usual. Mr Official Taster is, shall we say....not know for his attention to details, so there are always some extra things I need to remember and/or remember to remind him about. In addition, we have some big events coming up in October which require lots of logistical details to be taken care of. And for some reason, there are more details to juggle at work lately, too. 

Needless to say, by the end of the week I was ready to crash, and I did (I slept 12+ hours Friday night. delightful.) However, I also dedicated some time to baking, knowing that it would help me stop being distracted by the details and instead force me to focus on the task at hand. Making this chocolate chip pumpkin bread was not hard or time-consuming, but it took just enough concentration that I was able to forget about dates and times and menus and pen colors for a much-needed afternoon break. 

I hope you found some time to decompress this weekend, too! And more details+photos later on these "events" in October. promise.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread - dairy free
2 C flour
1 1/2 C whole wheat flour*
3 C sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
2 tsp cinnamon
4 eggs
1 C vegetable oil
2/3 C water
1 30-oz can pumpkin**
1 1/2 C high quality semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli)
1 C nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour 2 large loaf pans***.

Mix together all dry ingredients except the chocolate chips and nuts together in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, beat eggs, and then combine well with oil, water and pumpkin. Add the liquid mixture to the dry mixture and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, if using.

Divide dough evenly between loaf pans. Bake for 80-90 minutes (yes, really. it's a very wet dough) or until a cake tester/skewer/sharp knife come out clean. Cool completely before taking out of the pans an slicing.

*Of course, you can use only regular flour if you'd like, or a different combination of all-purpose, whole wheat and/or white whole wheat. Just make sure it all adds up to 3 1/2 C flour.

**this is the large size can that you can find on grocery shelves this time of year. The small can is 15 oz, which is handy if you decide to go halvsies with this recipe.

***or 4 medium or 8 mini loaf pans. Cook times will vary with the sizes. I'm guessing that the medium or mini loaves will take 30-45 minutes, but I'm not certain since I don't have those sizes to play with. If you do, let us know, will you?

Since this recipe makes lots of bread, you'll be glad to know that it freezes well. Wrap each loaf you want to freeze tightly. Or you could just make half the recipe.
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