Welcome! I'm so glad you're here! A few links to get you started: Food Bloggers of the World, Unite! - How I Bake - Refresh & Rethink. Then, learn a little more about me & my bakery adventures & scroll through the Recipe Index or monthly favorites above.
Questions? Comments? I love them! Leave a comment or send me an email.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year in Review


2011 has been quite a year. I became a barista, went to Hawaii, got a "real" job in the tech industry, acclimatized to a new city, got married, updated this blog, opened an Amazon shop, bought a new camera, threw a second party to celebrate the marriage, went on a honeymoon, moved to a new house, completed a 5K, and hosted Christmas for eight. oh yeah, and made cupcakes, admitted to using boxes occasionally, celebrated birthdays, canned, baked my way through 20 lbs of peaches, learned how to roast beets and make ice cream, had all sorts of pumpkin hijinks, and generally went through a lot of flour.

2012 is shaping up to be pretty eventful as well. Mr Official Taster has accepted a new job that's moving us to the San Francisco Bay Area. He starts on Tuesday, and we'll both be down there in a couple weeks. As an unabashed nester, moving is not how I want to start the year. Unfortunately, I'll also be moving away from two of my favorite people in the world.

In my head, I know this is the right choice- we're moving to a wonderful city, for a good and stable job, and closer to family (well, some of them. we have a lot). But the rest of me is less than thrilled with the decision. I worry about finding a place we love, find a job I at least like and will pay some bills, being lonely, getting lost, and finding a good dog park.


So thank you, dear readers, for providing a (usually) silent constant and pushing me to take on seemingly insurmountable tasks (see paragraph 1). Posting may be slim in early 2012, but I will try to both keep my chin up and provide you with some deliciousness.

Best wishes to you and yours for a wonderful 2012!

Our fabulous photographer, Riz, is a former colleague of Mr Official Taster and I can not say enough good things about him (and his wife! she helped too). See more of his work here.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Sugared Cranberries - vegan & gluten free




Happy Friday! I hope you are surviving the week in relative good cheer. My parents arrive for a week-long visit tonight, and Mr Official Taster's side arrives tomorrow. We'll be feeding eight people for the Christmas holiday (we're having these for breakfast). I think it'll be fun!


If you are one of the people still scrounging around for gift ideas, here are a few gift worthy sweets and welcome additions to any party:
Peanut Butter Dog Treats (for your furry friend)
Freezer Burritos (especially for new parents or any other caretaker)


These cranberries are perfect for holiday gatherings. Not only are they vegan and gluten free, but they are free of just about everything, including fat. They also have a nice, refreshing "pop"when you bite into them, and aren't as sweet as almost everything else this time of year. The other handy thing about them is how little attention you can pay to them (mine actually soaked almost two days) and they stay good for a bit.

I think this will be my last post for several days (or a week). Best wishes to you and yours!

Sugared Cranberries
adapted from MyRecipes

2 C granulated sugar *
2 C water
2 C fresh cranberries**
3/4 C superfine sugar***

Combine granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan over low or medium heat. Stir mixture until sugar dissolves and water is steaming. Remove from heat. (Do not boil or the cranberries may pop when added.) Add in cranberries. Here you can either pour mixture into a bowl or simply leave it in the pot. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Drain cranberries in a colander over a bowl (don't shake off excess liquid, as it helps the sugar adhere), reserving sugar water, if desired (I didn't know what to do with mine, so if you have ideas, please share!). Place some superfine sugar in a small zip top plastic bag. Add the cranberries, maybe 10 at a time, and shake them to coat with sugar. Spread sugared cranberries in a single layer on a baking sheet (no need to grease or line sheet). Let stand at room temperature 1 hour or until dry.

Store in an airtight container in a cool place for up to a week.

*I used superfine sugar here because, well, I had it,
**I used the what I had leftover from making these cookies, which was about 1/2 a bag. If you froze them, like I did, allow them to defrost before using them in this recipe.
***My there are a lot of stars for so short an ingredient list. Superfine sugar is available in the grocery store, and it usually hiding among the other sugars in what looks like a milk carton. I don't honestly know exactly how much I used, since I just dumped some in my plastic bag and added a little more when I was running out. But it wasn't very much

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Peanut Butter Dog Treats - vegan & gluten free



For the last two years, Mr Official Taster and I have told everyone who has mentioned the word "puppy" to never, ever get one. ever. never ever. Last month, we found out that our experience was not typical, so we're rethinking our advice.


The backstory: we got Roomba about two and a half years ago. She was a super adorable (is there any other kind?) 8 week-old puppy. The shelter thought she was a black lab, and while that is clearly not the case, it's probly better that she's smaller than lab-sized. It is good she was (and still is) adorable. She threw up all the time and peed on the couch all the time. The couch thing was not because I didn't take her out every hour and potty train her (I was uber unemployed. I had time.). It turns out she has a small incontinence problem that (thankfully) is easily managed with a daily pill, and is most likely due to being spayed too young. Since we'd never had a puppy before, we assumed it was normal for her to throw up on a regular basis. What? Human babies throw up all the time, don't they?


Fast forward to November. After several vet visits and many tests, our vet decided that the throwing up must be due to an allergy, and wheat was her first guess. Well, it was spot on. Dr. Marie, you are our new favorite. Roomba has not thrown up since before Thanksgiving. I'm positive that's a record.


Turns out that not only is our puppy trendy, it's not that uncommon among dogs. So, in case you are looking for a treat for your favorite four-legged friend this holiday season, this is what I'm bribing Buddy and Roomba with this week.


Peanut Butter Dog Treats - vegan & gluten free
adapted from Whisk Kid

1/2 C natural peanut butter
2 Tbsp peanut or canola oil*
1 C water
3 C gluten free flour**
Chopped peanuts, optional

In a large bowl, mix together the peanut butter, oil and water until smooth. Add the flour and stir with a large spoon, spatula or your hands until the dough comes together. Form the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or overnight.

Line a few baking sheets with parchment paper. On a floured surface, with a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to a thickness of approximately 1/4 inch. Cut out as many cookies as possible and transfer them to the cookie sheet. Press in chopped peanuts, if desired. Re-roll remaining dough, cut out cookies, and repeat until you've used it all. If the dough starts to get too sticky to work with, put it back in the fridge for 10 minutes or so.

Preheat oven to 350F. Refrigerate cookie sheets with cookies while your oven warms up. This will help them keep their shape. Bake them for 15-20 minutes, or until firm and set. Remove from oven and allow to cool a few minutes on the baking sheets before transferring them to wire racks to finish cooling. Once cooled, store in an airtight container.

* I used peanut oil because I had some on hand, and also because I figured it would taste more delicious and help overcome the gluten free flour flavor.

**I used some of Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour. You can also use all purpose or whole wheat. I think something like rice flour would also work, though I haven't tried it.

Sugar Cookies - vegan


I think this one might be learning the word "cookie" too. That does not bode well for having conversations the rest of the week. "What kind of, er, baked dough are you making now?" or "I need to take the thingies out of the oven, but then we should take them out for a promenade." (They know "walk," too. It's sometimes inconvenient) 


This is a great base recipe. You can dress it up like this or this or extra fancy like this, cover with frosting and sprinkles, or simply eat right out of the oven. I don't think Santa (or Mrs. Clause) is too picky about how they look, and, personally, I think they go pretty well with almond milk.

Sugar Cookies - vegan
adapted from The Joy of Vegan Baking

1/2 C vegan butter
3/4 C sugar
1 1/2 tsp Ener-G Egg replacer (equal to 1 egg)
2 Tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 C flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg replacer, water, and vanilla and beat for at least another minute. Mix in the flour and baking powder. The dough will probably be somewhat crumbly, but will hold together if you press it together with your fingers. If necessary, add an additional 1-2 Tbsp water.

Divide the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least one hour, or overnight.

When you're ready to make the cookies, remove one dough package from the fridge, and while it warms slightly, line your cookie sheets with parchment paper. On a floured surface, with a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to a thickness of approximately 1/4 inch. Cut out as many cookies as possible and transfer them to the cookie sheet. Re-roll remaining dough, cut out cookies, and repeat until you've used it all. If the dough starts to get too sticky to work with, put it back in the fridge for 10 minutes or so.

Preheat oven to 350F. Refrigerate cookie sheets with cookies while your oven warms up. This will help them keep their shape. Bake them for 10-15 minutes, depending how crunchy you like them. Remove from oven and allow to cool a few minutes on the baking sheets before transferring them to wire racks to finish cooling.

To Frost:
In a small bowl, stir together some confectioners sugar and non-dairy milk, water, or juice. Start with a very small amount of liquid and gradually increase until you reach your desired consistency. Use a piping bag or a ziplock bag with a corner cut off to decorate as you please. If you just want to slather on as much frosting as possible, might as well just use a spoon.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Gingerbread Cookies - vegan


I haven't been feeling terribly Christmas-y this year. I'm not sure why. Part of it may be that I'm not working any sort of retail or restaurant job this year, which has often been the case. Part of it may be that in the Pacific Northwest it doesn't really snow. Part of it may be that Mr Official Taster's and my life is somewhat complicated and in upheaval at the moment (more on that later).

Whatever the case may be, today it finally began to dawn on me that Christmas is on Sunday. And that we will be hosting six additional people for the holiday. And that we haven't done much, with the exception of finding gifts, to prepare for those people. Menu? vague. Cleaning? er, not yet. Figuring out how we're going to fit all of them? inconclusive.


But gingerbread men always taste and smell like Christmas. I think they may be Mr Official Taster's favorite cookie - unless it's snickerdoodles - and he would eat them every week of the year. If only I would make them every week of the year.


Parents and sisters: I can't wait to see you! There may or may not be any of these guys left. Odds are pretty low. Maybe you can make this poor guy feel better. He gets excited every time the work "cookie" gets mentioned, which, this week, is kind of a lot.

Gingerbread Cookies - vegan
adapted from The Joy of Vegan Baking

1/2 C vegan butter, room temperature
3/4 C sugar
1 1/2 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer (equal to 1 egg)
2/3 C molasses
3 C flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg replacer and molasses and beat for another minute or so. Add the flour, salt, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Beat until you have a smooth dough. You may need to add up to 4 tablespoons of water to get the right consistency.

Divide the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least one hour, or overnight.

When you're ready to make the cookies, remove one dough package from the fridge, and while it warms slightly, line your cookie sheets with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to a thickness of approximately 1/4 inch. Cut out as many cookies as possible and transfer them to the cookie sheet. Re-roll remaining dough, cut out cookies, and repeat until you've used it all. If the dough starts to get too sticky to work with, put it back in the fridge for 10 minutes or so.

Preheat oven to 350F. Refrigerate cookie sheets with cookies while your oven warms up. This will help them keep their shape. Bake them for 10-15 minutes, depending how crunchy you like your gingerbread. Remove from oven and allow to cool a few minutes on the baking sheets before transferring them to wire racks to finish cooling.

To Frost:
In a small bowl, stir together some confectioners sugar and non-dairy milk, water, or juice. Start with a very small amount of liquid and gradually increase until you reach your desired consistency. Use a piping bag or a ziplock bag with a corner cut off to decorate as you please. If you just want to slather on as much frosting as possible, might as well just use a spoon.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Gingerbread Ice Cream - egg free & gluten free


My car was in the shop today, which meant I was stuck at home. the week of Christmas. This meant lots of baking occurred (our house smells awesome). I'm hoping to have a week's worth of fun inspiration for you lovely folks, partly because I've been quiet lately, and partly because, well, 'tis the season.


We got a (purple) ice cream maker as a wedding present, so I was really excited to try making some for the first time. Looking around online and in various cookbooks, it sounded daunting, but it turned out to be relatively simple. The worst part was that it was pretty unsatisfying to make since I can't eat it. But Official Taster was very happy with it! Luckily, I still had some brownies hanging around to satiate my sweet tooth.


Gingerbread Ice Cream - egg free

2 C milk*
2 Tbsp molasses
1/2 C brown sugar, divided
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
pinch of salt
2 Tbsp cornstarch**
1 C cream
gingerbread cookie dough (optional)***

Add the milk, molasses, 1/4 C brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt to a small saucepan. Heat, whisking occasionally, on medium until steam rises from the milk. (It will take 3-5ish minutes) Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch and a couple tablespoons of the cold cream in a small bowl. You want to whisk away as many of the lumps as possible.


Whisk the cornstarch mixture into the heated milk concoction, along with the remaining 1/4 C brown sugar. Heat, stirring constantly, until thick. This mixture is ready when it thickly coats the back of a spoon and a line drawn across with your finger remains intact. This should take 3-5 minutes. If you think there are lumps, strain the mixture before proceeding.

Cool completely (1-2 hours in the fridge or you can speed things up by sticking it in the freezer instead), then stir in the remaining cream. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

*Obviously, with all this dairy, this ice cream is for Official Taster. I have it from lots of good authorities that any combination of milk/cream or non-dairy milk should work just as well. I haven't tried yet, since this was actually my first experiment with our new ice cream maker (thanks, M! we need a phone date!)

**Cornstarch is a substitute here for 6 egg yolks. If you have a problem with eggs or just don't want to include them, cornstarch works really, really well.

***I added somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 C of cookie dough pieces (recipes here and here) towards the end of the ice cream makers work, because that's what the machine's instructions said to do. I have no idea if you can add things like chocolate chips at the beginning or not. But I suspect that adding them in the last 5 minutes or so ensures they are well mixed in and don't just sink to the bottom.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies - dairy free


Yep, more pumpkin. It's like the fall version of peach week. But longer. I think this might be it, though. After all, it's Christmas this week, which is less pumpkin-y and more cookie-y, gingerbread-y, and cranberry-y. And, yes, those are the technical terms.


My plan this week is to post several recipes that might help you out for holiday gatherings. Let me know if you have any requests, and I'll try to work them in.


These brownies are somewhat complicated and create more dishes to wash than I usually like, but they were worth it. As brownies go, they are more on the cakey end of the spectrum than the fudgey end, but I like the combination of flavors (see? see?) and the pumpkin makes them nice and moist. They also look really impressive, so there's that.

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies - dairy free
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

cooking spray
8 Tbsp (1 stick) vegan butter
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used Ghirardelli)
1 1/2 C sugar
4 large eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 C flour*
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 C solid-pack pumpkin**
1/4 C vegetable oil
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 C chopped hazelnuts or other nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Coat an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray.

Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (like you did for these brownies). Stir occasionally until smooth.

Beat together eggs, sugar, and vanilla until fluffy and well combined. Add flour and baking powder and mix in.

Pour half the batter (2 cups-ish) into a second bowl, add the chocolate mixture, and stir until combined. If you find that it is super thick, add a few spoonfuls of the plain batter in and mix well. It should be a pourable consistency.

Add the pumpkin, oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg to the first bowl and mix until combined.

Pour about half the chocolate mixture into the prepared pan and smooth so it's basically level. Add about half the pumpkin mixture on top of that and smooth. Repeat once more, so you end up with four layers (chocolate - pumpkin - chocolate - pumpkin). Work quickly so the batters don't set.

Use a small spatula or table knife to swirl the batters until you think they look pretty and delicious. Make sure you get all the way to the bottom. If you like nuts, sprinkle them on the very top.

Bake until set, about 45-55 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack before attempting to slice and eat. 

*I did half all-purpose flour and half white whole wheat. Official Taster has not noticed.

**You can use either canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie mix) or some homemade pumpkin puree. Yes, I still have some left so you may see yet another pumpkin recipe soon.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pumpkin Muffins - vegan


December is all about food. Whether you are making cookies for an exchange or stew to stay warm or cake for a holiday party, the focus is on eating. It's probably related to wanting to hibernate. Sometimes it's somewhat complicated, so this recipe is a nice balance. 



You need one mixing bowl and just a whisk or a mixing spoon- no mixer required, so clean up is super easy and the results are delicious. I whipped these up on Saturday morning, and I wasn't even all the way awake. I hope you find them just as easy. 


Pumpkin Muffins - vegan
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 C pureed pumpkin*
1/3 C vegetable oil
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp pumpkin-pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 C plus 1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 C flour**
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F and line a muffin tin with liners. In a small bowl, stir together cinnamon and 1 Tbsp sugar.

Whisk together the pumpkin, oil, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and 1 1/4 C sugar in a large bowl. Add in the vinegar and flour and whisk until just combined.

Spoon batter into muffin cups. They should be about 3/4 full. Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar mixture on top. Bake on center rack for 25-30 minutes. Muffins will be puffed and slightly golden, and a cake tester inserted into the middle will come out clean.

Remove from oven and cool for about 5 minutes. Remove muffins from pan and allow to finish cooling on a rack.

*I used more of my baked pumpkin but you can also use a can
**I don't have any all purpose left because I made challah this weekend, so I used white whole wheat and they came out great.

Monday, December 5, 2011

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