Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Hummingbird Mini Cupcakes

Again, thinking of Brek's school breakfast. I saw the hummingbird cake while flipping through the American's Test Kitchen cookbook.

The ingredients for this cake included pineapple and banana. Good timing because I just found a can of clean pineapple chunks last week. Since I had a ripen banana, I went ahead and tested the hummingbird cake recipe.

Instead of baking a big cake or cupcakes, I decided to go with the mini cupcakes. Hummingbirds have visited my family's flower garden all the time, especially during Spring. I just thought it is fitting to have mini size cake that named after these tiny birds. The only nuts I had at the time of baking this cake was almonds and cashew. I thought almonds would have better crunch than cashew, so I chose almonds. I also added ground cinnamon for the aromatic.

The verdict? The cake didn't rise very much but was super moist. My kids didn't say anything about the pineapple, which was surprising because they didn't really like to eat fresh pineapple. I wonder if the pineapples were in such small bits that they couldn't tell what they were eating. Camden had one complaint. He didn't like the almonds. Well, they were pretty crunchy for mini cupcakes. Brek had no complaints, and he had three mini ones for his school's breakfast the next day.

Hummingbird Mini Cupcakes
adapted from American's Test Kitchen's humming bird cake
makes 24 mini cupcakes

1 large egg
3/4 cup (5.5 oz) sugar
1/4 cup (2 oz) safflower oil
1/4 cup (2 oz) pineapple, roughly chopped
1/4 cup (2-2.5 oz) banana, mashed
1 cup (4 oz) all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2-3 Tablespoons raw almonds, roughly chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F degree. Line the mini cupcake pan with cupcake liners or spray the pan with vegetable oil.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar, and oil until creamy.
  3. Mix in the pineapple and banana.
  4. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and ground cinnamon.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture.
  6. Mix until just combine.
  7. Using an extra small scooper, divide the batter into the prepared pan.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven until the toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 15 minutes.
  9. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes then transfer to the cooling rack to cool completely. Enjoy them while they are warm or at a room temperature. Keep them in an air tight container at a room temperature for up to 3 days.
Allergy Info: These mini hummingbird cupcakes are free from or can be made without dairy, corn, legumes (soy), and fish. When looking for canned fruits, avoid the ones with added citric acid which is mainly used to preserve the fruit's coloring. For this recipe, I used the Dole brand, but I'm not sure if it is corn free. It is the only brand in the market that is without citric acid or other preservatives. Frozen pineapples are also good alternative. However, most of the frozen fruits may be dusted with corn starch. Be sure to call the companies to inquire about their products and packaging practices.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Quinoa Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies (gluten free)

You probably notice the trend in my food blog that I've inspired and adapted a lot of recipes from William Sonoma's cookbooks. I've found that modifying their recipes have been very successful. All of their recipes have measurements in ounces. Super helpful as I prefer to use my kitchen scale to measure everything.

I've been spending a lot more time this month in the kitchen, baking and coming up with something sweeter for my kids. The reason? Well, Camden's been having stuffy nose (on and off since last summer). I had my doubts that the culprit of his stuffy nose was environmental allergy. I tried deep cleaning the whole house, placed a dust mite mattress cover, and ran an air filter system. Nothing was working. After he had a bloody nose, I decided that it was time for the food elimination diet.

Since the beginning of May, I told Camden that he had to be mindful with what he was eating. No soy (my suspicious). I allowed him to have very little dairy. We've been corn light since he was a baby. So the only thing we had to avoid corn was not eating out. Honestly, avoiding soy is the same as avoiding corn. Unavoidable... unless we are living in a bubble of our own home. And that is exactly what I've been doing when it comes to foods, making them from scratch in my own kitchen.

I started to look for new recipes to test and keep my boys' taste buds excited. So far, I baked applesauce cake, angel food cake, cream filled cookies, and many other sweets, including gummy fruit snacks. My boys had no complaints. They even suggested what I could bake next. I luv that because it makes my life easier to know their cravings.

With that said, I realized that I baked oatmeal cookies many times. They weren't a big hit because my kids didn't care for the oats and the nuts. I changed it up just a little bit by replacing the all-purpose flour with the quinoa flour. I omitted the nuts and the raisins and replaced them with dried cranberries. What did my kids think? They ate them for an afternoon snack and more for nighttime snack. Brek also had them for his school's breakfast. Just luv it when my something sweeter gone bye-bye into their tummies within a day or so.

Quinoa Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies
inspired by William Sonoma Collection: Cookies
makes 20 cookies

1 large egg
1/4 cup (2 oz) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (1.7 oz) light brown sugar
1/4 cup (2 oz) palm shortening or coconut oil
1/4 cup (2 oz) quinoa flour
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup (2.2 oz) old fashion rolled oats
1/2 cup (2 oz) dried cranberries
  1. Line a baking sheet pan with a parchment paper or a nonstick mat. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar, and palm shortening. Set aside. NOTE: Because this batter is really thick, I use a hand mixer at a low speed instead of a hand whisk.
  3. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, rolled oats, and dried cranberries.
  4. Add the flour mixture into the egg mixture.
  5. Mix until combine.
  6. Using a small scooper, scoop 10 cookie dough onto the prepared baking pan.
  7. Freeze the cookie dough for 30 minutes.
  8. Preheat the oven to 350F degree.
  9. Bake the cookies in the preheated oven until golden brown, about 13-15 minutes.
  10. Let cool on the baking pan for at least 5 minutes then transfer them to the cooling rack to cool completely.
  11. Bake the rest of the cookies or freeze them for future baking. When ready to bake, there is no need to thaw the cookie dough. Bake as directed. The baked cookies can be kept in an air tight container at a room temperature for up to 3 days.
NOTE: These cookies have no gluten, so they are really soft. Handle them with care.

TIP: For a chocolate kick, drizzle melted chocolate over the cookies once they are cooled.

Allergy Info: These quinoa oatmeal cranberry cookies are free from or can be made without dairy, corn, legumes (soy), wheat, nuts, and fish. Be sure to use gluten free rolled oats.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Honey Muffins (a.k.a. honey bread)

Lately, I was stumped on what to bake for Brek's school breakfast. I wanted to try something different, so I started to look through the William Sonoma's Cooking at Home cookbook. This book is HUUUUGE, with a lot of recipes info at my finger tips. The only thing this book doesn't have is the traditional William Sonoma's beautiful photographs of the foods. I bought it anyway because I thought of it as an encyclopedia of recipes and how-to tips.

When I looked up bread, muffins, and cupcake sections in the cookbook, I came across the honey bread recipe. After scanning through the ingredients (not bad) and the directions (easy), I decided to bake the honey bread. Since I was baking it for Brek's school breakfast, I baked them in the muffin pan for an easy grab-n-go breakfast.

While I was measuring the honey on my kitchen scale, I was thinking to myself, "Man, that's a lot of honey. Wonder if it's too sweet?" I decided to omit the sugar asked for in the original recipe. Good thing I did because the muffins came out perfectly sweet with a strong honey aromatic. My kids loved the honey muffins so much that they actually ate the whole batch. All twelve muffins disappeared within three days. Brek even asked me if I could bake these honey muffins for his breakfast again. Luv it when I found a great go-to breakfast recipe.

Honey Muffins (or honey bread)
adapted from Cooking at Home honey bread
makes 12 regular size muffins

1 egg yolk
1/2 cup (4 oz) coconut milk
1/2 cup (6 oz) honey
1/8 c (1 oz) palm shortening or coconut oil
1 1/4 cup (6.25 oz) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup (1 oz) ground almond
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F degree. Grease the muffin pan with vegetable oil or line it with muffin liners.
  2. In a big bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, milk, honey, shortening until creamy.
  3. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and ground almond.
  4. Whisk the flour mixture into the egg mixture until just combine.
  5. Using a large scooper, divide the batter evenly onto the prepared pan.
  6. Bake the muffins in a preheated oven for 18-20 minutes.
  7. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes then move them to the cooling rack. Enjoy them warm or at room temperature.
See!!! I told you this is a really easy recipe. For the leftover egg white, makes meringues for easy something sweeter.

Allergy Info: These honey muffins are free from or can be made without dairy, corn, legumes (soy), and fish. If you are allergic to nuts, omit the ground almond. Use vegetable oil instead of palm shortening or coconut oil. Remember that not all honey are created equal. Try to find local honey from wild flower fed bees.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Brownies + Cookies = Brookies

I was thinking of what I'd luv to have for something sweeter. I couldn't decide between chocolate and coffee. Many times on the cooking shows, I've often heard chefs said that adding coffee into the chocolate batter really brings out the chocolate flavor. That gets me thinking... what can I bake that would have the combination of my favorite ingredients: coffee and chocolate.

Brownies and cookies are pretty basic something sweeter that I luv to bake. They are super easy and have a long shelf life. Two years ago, I saw a dessert photograph of a brownie with chocolate chip cookie in the center, a brookster, at the William Sonoma's website. I was inspired by the idea of having both brownie and cookie in one bite. Using my own recipe, I created a version of this dessert and called it a brookie. They turned out perfect. I could taste the difference between the brownie and the cookie.

It's been awhile since I last baked the brookies. I decided to bake some for our afternoon's snack. At the same time, I kinda forgot what brookster looked like. After searching for a photograph of the brookster, I found out that it was originated from the bakery in Brooklyn called Baked. I watched the owners of Baked on Unique Sweets all the time. Their bakery was featured in one of the episode too. Their sweet treats are really unique and inspiring.

For my brookies, I added instant granulated coffee to the brownie batter. This is optional. Both batters were adapted from William Sonoma's recipes. You can use your own brownie and/or chocolate chip cookie batter. Either way, there will be plenty leftover from the chocolate chip cookie batter which can easily freeze up for a later baking day.

inspired by Baked's brookster
makes about 8 brookies and 10 chocolate chip cookies

Brownie batter
1/2 cup (3 oz) chocolate chips
1/4 cup (2 oz) coconut oil or palm shortening
1 teaspoon granulated instant coffee
2 large eggs
1 cup (7 oz) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (3 oz) all-purpose flour

Chocolate chip cookie batter
1 large egg
1/4 cup (2 oz) coconut oil or palm shortening
1/3 cup (3 oz) firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup (2 oz) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup (7 oz) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup chocolate chips, chocolate chunks, or combination of both
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F degree. Spray the 12 cavity muffin pan (round brookies) or 12 cavity brownie pan (square brookies). Set aside.
  2. Place the chocolate chips in a medium microwavable bowl.
  3. Microwave the chocolate chips on High at 15 seconds interval until melted.
  4. Whisk in the coconut oil, eggs, and sugar until creamy.
  5. Mix in the flour just combine. Set aside.
  6. In large bowl, whisk together the egg, coconut oil, sugar, and vanilla extract until creamy.
  7. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder.
  8. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix until combine.
  9. Fold in the chocolate chips and/or chunks.
  10. Using a large scoop, scoop the brownie batter into the prepared pan.
  11. Measure out the chocolate chip cookie batter by using the medium scoop.
  12. Roll the cookie dough into a ball.
  13. Place the dough into the center of the brownie batter.
  14. Repeat step 10-13 until all the cookie dough are placed into the brownie batter.
  15. Bake the brookies in the preheated oven until the tooth pick inserted into the brownie comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. NOTE: Don't over baked or brownies will be dry.
  16. Let the brookies cool in the pan for five minutes.
  17. Using the small frosting spatula, remove the brownies to the cooling rack. Enjoy them while they are still warm or wait until they come to a room temperature. Keep them in the air tight container for up to 5 days.
Allergy Info: These brookies are free from or can be made without dairy, corn, legumes (soy), nuts (not coconut), and fish.