Friday, February 24, 2012

brown butter blondies (with molasses swirl)

Do you ever meet people who don't like chocolate? (They exist!) It's a bewildering experience. When someone tells me they're not "into" chocolate, I feel a potent mixture of sadness, anger, and fear. The statement "I'm not really a chocolate person" ranks somewhere alongside "not really a puppy person," or "not really a Christmas person."

What a sad life, to not be into chocolate, puppies, Christmas, raindrops on roses, or whiskers on kittens. Here's my contribution to these sad souls: blondies. At least they have blondies.

Blondies are akin to brownies, but they are brown-sugar based instead of chocolate-based. These particular blondies get their flavor from toasty brown butter, almond extract, and a pretty swirl of molasses. The molasses adds a deeper, more complex flavor to a very sweet blondie. These blondies are a little chewy in texture--great served with milk or tea!


1/2 cup butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp almond extract
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 cup molasses (optional but delicious)

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease & flour an 8x8 pan.

2. In a small saucepan, brown the butter. Allow to cool slightly.

3. Whisk together the sugar and butter (it's okay if it's still warm) in a mixing bowl. Add the egg and almond extract. Whisk to combine.

4. Add the baking mix and salt. Mix until smooth. Spread evenly in the pan.

5. Drop small dots of the molasses into the batter. Using a knife or skewer, swirl the molasses in pretty patterns.

6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the edges are set and golden-brown. As per usual in gluten-free baking, the center may still be soft. Worry not--the blondies will firm-up as they cool. Allow to cool before cutting. These will keep for several days if stored in the refrigerator.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

sweet potato wedges with parmesan

Hi, remember me? I'm still alive.

I realize that I've been absent for months and I have very little to say for myself. I've been killin' it at school. I got a promotion at work. And let's not forget I have this little guy to deal with now.

Rest assured, I've still been cooking. I normally just devour it before I have a chance to take a lovely photo.

So, here's my "Hello Again" gift to you.

I make this small batch just-for-me.

1 sweet potatoes, sliced into wedges
1/8 cup olive oil
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425. Toss all the ingredients together and spread on a baking sheet (use parchment paper for easy clean-up.)

Bake 20 minutes, then flip the potatoes over. Bake for another 10 minutes, or until soft in the middle and crispy on the outside. Toss potatoes with the parmesan just before serving.

Monday, July 25, 2011

lemon meringue pie (gluten free)

This pie made me feel like a rock-star. I made a crust by intuition. I tempered eggs. And then, I piled a meringue on top. All of this, by the way, happened simultaneously, and in a 105 degree kitchen. It was Iron-Chef-esque. I'm not kidding.

I was in need of some fancy baking, since I've been pretty absent from the food blogging world lately. Texas is experiencing the hottest, driest summer in the history of the Earth. (Every summer I say this, and every summer it seems true.) I've been hiding out between the hours of 10am and 8pm, surviving on frozen waffles, peanut butter, and iced tea.

Then I saw the new issue of Bon Appetit, with that towering meringue pie on the cover. I thought about that soulful experience, making pie from scratch. Citrus custard and browned meringue. Graham cracker crust. My thoughts were fairly one-tracked from there.

If you're in the market for some leisurely pie making, this is a two-person job. But if you're feeling more like this guy, go ahead and tackle the project yourself. It'll make you feel cool.

Adapted from Alton Brown

2 cups gluten-free graham cracker crumbs*
1/3 cup melted butter
2 1/2 tbs sugar

4 egg yolks (save egg whites for the meringue)
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup lemon juice
1 tbs lemon zest
3 tbs butter

4 egg whites
pinch of cream of tarter
3 tbs sugar

Preheat oven to 350.
Combine the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter and sugar. Using hands, press into the bottom and sides of a pie plate. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Set aside to cool.

Raise the oven temperature to 375.
Separate egg yolks into a large, heat-proof bowl and whisk until smooth.
Combine cornstarch, water, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Whisk to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Allow to boil for 1 minute (keep stirring.) The mixture will start to thicken into a custard-like consistency.

Take the mixture off the heat and add a little of it to the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Gradually add more of the cornstarch mixture, still stirring. Do this until you've added at least half of the cornstarch mixture.
When you've added half of the cornstarch mixture to the egg yolks, return the egg yolk mixture to the saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for one more minute. Remove from heat, and add in the lemon juice, zest, and butter. Add the mixture into the pie crust.

Quickly, make the meringue. With an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar to soft peaks (1-2 minutes.) Gradually add in the sugar, until the egg whites have reached stiff peaks (about 1 more minute.) Spread the meringue over the top of the pie, while the custard is still hot.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the meringue is browned. Let cool completely before cutting (at least an hour.)

* For the graham cracker crumbs: I used kinnikinnick crackers and ground them in a food processor.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

brown butter chocolate chip cookies (gluten free)

Okay, okay, this is my third recipe in a row utilizing chocolate chips. But I feel a little like this guy right now, so don't judge me.

These cookies are cray-cray good. I used this recipe from Joy the Baker. To make them gluten free, I substituted the flour, salt, and baking soda for an equal amount of Pamela's baking mix. They were crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. They were melty and nutty from the browned butter. I just loved them. They were just what I needed today.

For the record, I liked them better than these guys. Okay. Link-fest over. Eat some cookies, and feel better.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

gluten free banana bread (with chocolate chips)

Is there much more I can say about banana bread?

This is what I want today: for a hired baker to come to my apartment. I'd like them to bake banana bread 24 hours a day. I love the way it makes my apartment smell like heaven. It's a nice alternative to the second-hand cigarette stench my neighbor sends through the air vent.

(Dear neighbor: please read this and bake banana bread instead of smoking. Love Amanda.)

How could he say no? Look at that brown banana crust. Put down the cancer wand, my friend. Take a pinch of crust.

Adapted from Book of Yum

1 cup rice flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup buckwheat or oat flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups smashed bananas
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 9x5 loaf pan.
2. In a large bowl, sift together the first six ingredients.
3. In a separate bowl, thoroughly combine the next 5 ingredients.*
4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients into the well and fold until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
5. Pour into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

* I use an immersion blender for this step. Works like a dream!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

cherry chocolate chip cookies

My words aren't really coming today. I think I've spent all my language power on essays. Many, many essays. On boring things, like comparing validity and reliability of available research on interventions for... Actually, can we not talk about this?

I admit, I'm a little on edge this month. School is crazy, life is crazy, and work is (you guessed it!) crazy. April seems to be the month of unpredictability. I'm not complaining--I thank the good Lord every day I can wake up and live my blessedly easy life. It's just, sometimes life doesn't go like we want it to. It rarely does.

I make plans, and I cling to them. I know this about myself. Sometimes I wish the universe would recognize how gorgeous and well-thought-out my plans are. It hasn't yet.

And until it does, I'm learning to let go of my plans. I know the future has things in store for me that are vastly different from what I imagined for myself. I'm on the "we'll see" plan right now. It's working alright.

Making cookies is my coping mechanism. I bake them, eat a few, and give the rest away.
These cookies are spreading, delicate, chewy little darlings. They'll make you and your friends smile. And they negate disappointment...true story!

Recipe very closely adapted from Ginger Lemon Girl.

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup gluten free oat flour
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup dark chocolate chunks
1 cup dried tart cherries

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. With an electric beater, cream the butter and sugars together until fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla and beat until smooth.

3. Sift in the flours, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. When combined, stir in the chocolate chunks and cherries.

4. Drop by the tablespoon onto the baking sheet. (Don't make them too big, or they will spread too much. Also, leave a few inches between cookies to prevent "blobbing.") Bake for 7-9 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. The center won't look cooked yet, but it will set as the cookies cool.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

gluten free lemon cornbread cake

Can I just tell you how much I appreciate spring break? No school! No work! No grown-up obligations! I've been hanging out at my parents' house in my itty-bitty hometown. My parents have been cooking me dinner, and they do all the dishes. They're beautiful people.

When I was in high school, I couldn't wait to leave my hometown. I had known all the same people since kindergarten. College, I imagined, was a place where I would meet exotic, exciting people and do exotic, exciting things.

To a certain extent, that was true. But here's what I didn't anticipate... In college, you work like hell, and you get tired as hell. Most of the time, you're way too busy to party. Sometimes you start to feel like you're not a kid anymore. Other times, you feel ill-equipped and very childish.

So yes, it's good to be home for a little while. It's funny how perspective changes with time.

Now, what does all of this have to do with cake? Nothing really. But cake goes well with everything, even self-reflection.

This cake is a hybrid between this Gluten Free Mommy cornbread and this delectable Joy the Baker recipe. It is tender, crumbly, moist, and homey. The lemon makes it tangy and scrumptious. The icing is simple and adds an extra citrus kick.


1 cup rice flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
5 tbs butter
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 400. In large bowl, combine the first 5 dry ingredients.

On a stove, heat a 9-inch cast iron skillet. Melt the butter and allow it to cook until browned, about 2 minutes. Pour the butter into a small bowl to cool. (It's okay if you don't get all the butter out of the pan--about 1 tbs should remain in the skillet for lubrication.)

When the butter is somewhat cooled, add the eggs, milk, lemon juice/zest, and vanilla to it. Thoroughly combine, and add mixture to the dry ingredients. Stir to combine.

Pour the batter into the hot cast-iron skillet (you should hear a sizzle--this is the crust forming.) Immediately and carefully place the skillet into the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the edges are lightly brown & pull away from the sides of the pan.

Allow to cool, then poke the cake several times with a fork, making little holes for the lemon icing to seep into. Add the lemon icing when cooled.


1 lemon
About 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/8 tsp salt

Juice and zest the lemon into a small bowl. Add the salt, then sift in 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Stir until smooth and thick. If needed, sift in the rest of the sugar. If it gets too thick, just add more lemon juice or water.