Simple Roasted Carrots

Maybe it’s the bright sunshine of the past few weeks, but it’s safe to say I’m having a bit of a color moment. I think I should institute a new rule whereby I only cook/eat/photograph colorful foods. Sound good?

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It’s a bit ironic that some of the most vibrant hued fruits and vegetables come about during the dark and grey winter. Although in Richmond, our winter has been far from dark and grey. I’m typing this while sitting on my deck and sipping some decaf mango green tea in short sleeves. In January. It’s a bit crazy. I don’t know where winter has gone, but I think I can live without it if it stays like this. I’ll take the spring weather and brightly colored veggies, like these carrots, any day.

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These simple roasted rainbow carrots are beautifully jewel toned and intensely sweet. They don’t need much to be phenomenal – just a bit of acid, some thyme, salt, pepper, and a kiss of honey. The key to making great roasted carrots of any color is to keep them al dente. No one over the age of 5 likes mushy carrots, so please don’t roast them to death. Now, get outside and enjoy this amazing weather – I know I will.

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Roasted Carrots
Yield varies depending on number of carrots

1 bunch of carrots (rainbow or regular), peeled
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
½ Tbsp. olive oil
½ tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. honey
salt + pepper

1. Preheat your oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Peel carrots and trim leafy tops. Place on a baking sheet slightly spaced apart.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients and lightly drizzle over the carrots.
4. Give the carrots another pinch of salt and fresh black pepper.
5. Roast for 15-20 minutes, depending on size of carrots, until easily pierced with a fork but still firm.

Sugared Cranberries

I love Thanksgiving – in fact I love it so much that as a kid, I would have my mom make me Thanksgiving dinner for my birthday….in July. My absolute favorite part of the whole meal? Her cranberry sauce. I always have my mom make an extra batch just so I can eat it with a spoon. Or with chocolate. Yeah, try that.

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Thanksgiving is usually the one and only time of year when people cook with cranberries. After Thanksgiving, these little red gems get pushed aside by peppermint, chocolate, molasses, and spice and other seasonal Christmas treats. Well, I’m here to say that cranberries most certainly deserve to be used more than once this year and that they can hang with their choco-peppermint and gingerbread rivals.

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This year, I made it my mission to cook with cranberries during the holiday season. I bought three bags of them while they were on sale a few weeks and they have been sitting in my freezer ever since. I was stumped on what exactly to do with them besides pop them in champagne or top my oatmeal with them. I thought about putting them in a bread, or making cookies with them, or perhaps even just making a good compote but then, I thought about sparkly sugared cranberries.

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Although I’ve seen sugared cranberries, I’ve never made them. After making them to top a cheesecake, I can say that I will be making these all.the.time. They are the most addictive, gorgeous little sweet-tart gems that are perfect for topping cakes and also great on their own. They’re slightly tart but sweet, crunchy but juicy, and so freaking pretty. My love of cranberries has now extended far past Thanksgiving and my mom’s amazing cranberry sauce. Who knew that all cranberries needed to be the quintessential holiday treat was to put on a sparkly party dress?

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Sugared Cranberries
slightly adapted from 101 cookbooks
*Be sure to start this a day ahead.

2 cups cranberries
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
larger granulated sugar for coating + regular sugar

1.Rinse your cranberries and dry them. Place them in a large glass bowl.
2.Make your simple syrup by combining water and sugar in a saucepot and heating over medium-low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture is clear. Don’t let it boil or simmer. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
3. Once your simple syrup has cooled, pour syrup over the cranberries in bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight.
4. After your cranberries have soaked, remove them in very small batches and toss them with larger grained sugar until coated. Be mindful not to get the sugar too wet or it gets a bit clumpy. Tip: I used a paper bag filled with sugar to coat the cranberries.
5. Set cranberries on a parchment lined baking sheet to dry for a few hours.
6. Toss again with regular sugar and set on parchment lined baking sheet to dry for another hour.
7. Top your dessert or place in a pretty bowl. Try not to eat all of them but I won’t tell if you do.

Gluten-free Sweet Potato Rosemary Biscuits

I promise that sometime soon I will start posting regularly again.  I had every intention of cooking up some delicious Thanksgiving-themed things this weekend but then this happened on Friday:

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I’m sporting the season’s hottest accessory – the boot.  Unfortunately, I have a stress fracture in my left foot (my navicular bone to be exact).  I have to admit -I kind of saw this coming.  My ankle/foot/leg had been feeling off for the past month or so but I thought my runner’s knee was just acting up again and causing me to strain other parts of my leg. Long story short – I went in to my doctor on Friday, had a bone scan and CT and am now the (not so) proud owner of a boot for at least six weeks, and crutches for at least the next week. I’m slowly getting reacquainted with the gym to bike, swim, and strength train so that I can keep my sanity and indulge in some Thanksgiving goodies.  So far, I have been able to keep up with my workout routine and most everyday things haven’t been a struggle.   I only use the crutches part-time however, the boot is on almost 24/7 except to shower, swim, and sleep.  It makes things a bit difficult since it’s quite heavy, awkward, and just generally irritating.  Suffice it to say, by the end of the workday I’m generally exhausted and my mind is pretty spent.

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These past few days have taken a lot out of me both physically and mentally but I was determined to bake something this evening.  I went back and forth on what to make: vegan pumpkin mousse? Sweet potato casserole with meringue? Potato and leek gratin? All of these ideas required an extra trip to the store that I just didn’t have in me. After taking stock of what I had on hand, I finally decided to try my hand at some sweet potato biscuits.  I needed simple, fast, comforting, and delicious and these biscuits are exactly that.

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They aren’t flaky layer biscuits.  No, these biscuits are dense yet light little savory muffins that just begged to be slathered with warm honey and butter.   The recipe is simple and doesn’t require many ingredients.  You will need some gluten-free flour mix . I used this mix that I am loving for all things baking at the moment:

300g brown rice flour, finely ground + 200g almond flour + 200g oat flour from gluten-free oats + 300g potato starch. Combine, shake to incorporate, voila – all purpose flour mix.

You can also use the original flours in this recipe.  Don’t forget your flax seed either!  It’s important because it helps give the biscuits a nice texture that is reminiscent of their gluten-filled cousins.  This recipe makes six medium sized biscuit muffins so I highly recommend doubling it to make either six very large biscuits (increase your baking time by 5 minutes) or a dozen biscuits to share. Bake up a batch or three because these biscuits are definitely Thanksgiving worthy.

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Gluten-free Sweet Potato Rosemary Biscuits

Adapted from: Gluten-free Goddess (see this recipe for other flours and a vegan version)

Yields: 6 medium muffins

 

170g gluten-free flour mix *see above

1 Tbsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. sea salt

½ tsp. fresh ground pepper

1 scant tsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped

½ tsp. ground flax seed meal + 1 tsp. hot water, mixed into slurry

1 cup fresh sweet potato puree**

2 Tbsp. honey (or maple syrup)

3 Tbsp. butter, room temperature

1 egg

 

**Note:  I simply microwaved a large sweet potato, let it cool, scooped out the flesh, and let it whirl around in my stand mixer until smooth. You can use canned if you like but fresh is best.

 

1. Preheat your oven to 375F and lightly grease your muffin tin.

2. Make your flax slurry and set it aside.

3. In a medium bowl, mix together your flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and pepper until well combined and aerated.

4. Mix together your wet ingredients (sweet potato, egg, honey, butter) in a stand mixer (or another large bowl) until smooth.

5. Add in flour mixture, rosemary, and flax slurry and mix until combined and smooth.  The dough will be very sticky.

6. Scoop dough into muffin tins and fill just about half way.  Fill up further if you want larger biscuits.

7. Bake for 15-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remember, if you make your biscuits larger, increase your cooking time a bit.

8. Serve warm with honey and butter.

Vegan Sweet Maple Baked Beans

The first week of marriage has come and gone and I have to say – it’s pretty awesome. Nothing feels that different – we already lived together – but we are experiencing a time where the journey of our lives is really coming to fruition.  There are some exciting things happening in our future and being married only makes us more excited for these changes.  While we have definitely been experiencing newlywed bliss, this week has also brought us back to reality.  There was laundry to be done (I swear it doesn’t end), many generous gifts to be unwrapped and put away in our small apartment, bills to be paid, and schedules to coordinate. It’s been a busy week, to say the least.

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Between putting gifts away, organizing the wedding gear that we brought home, and actually taking a day or two to fully relax, we haven’t done much cooking or entertaining.  After the hectic week back to reality, we had a fun and relaxing weekend that involved celebrating our one week of marriage and also celebrating my mom and stepdad’s 7th anniversary.  On Sunday, we took my family out to an amazing brunch at a restaurant that is quickly becoming our favorite, The Roosevelt.  This restaurant deserves a full-scale write up but let’s just say that any place that roasts apples in bacon fat and allows you to order a side of foie gras with brunch is a little like heaven.  After our ultra indulgent brunch, we parted ways to do some errands and then we had my family over for a cozy late-night fall dinner to break in our new grill (Thank you Ann! You can’t imagine how excited Brad is about it!).

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We decided on a very simple and easy menu of grilled hot dogs (with g-free buns that Brad found!), grilled asparagus, fresh g-free apple crisp, and homemade baked beans.  I volunteered to make the baked beans even though I have never made baked beans in my life.  My only goals for these baked beans were that they be: a.) edible – you know, just a mildly important thing; b.) sweet – I like baked beans that are maple kissed; and c.) meat free – after brunch, the thought of bacon actually hurt my arteries a bit.  Oh yeah, did I mention they needed to be ready in 3 hours?   After researching a few recipes, I got to work and made some of the most satisfying baked beans I have ever had.

It was a dead simple and easy process to turn those little boring white beans into something truly delicious. Then again, maple syrup makes everything (even brussel sprouts) delicious. Even Brad, with his undying love for all things pork and bacon, said they were best baked beans he has ever eaten.  I don’t think he’s lying seeing as how the leftovers are nearly gone today.

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These baked beans are vegan, sweet, and have a lovely hearty texture that makes them perfect for crisp evenings or football filled Sundays.  They make a great side dish for fall grilling and would be wonderful with this gluten-free cornbread.   Their a bit healthier than traditional baked beans however, if you like bacon, adding in some smoked bacon would be delicious. I recommend making the full batch because they will go quickly and before you know it, your husband will be asking you to make more.

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Vegan Sweet Maple Baked Beans

Yields: 6 servings (ish)

Adapted from: Oh She Glows

 3 cans white beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups water

1 medium onion, small dice

2 Tbsp canola oil

4 Tbsp. blackstrap molasses

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

3 Tbsp. pure maple syrup

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1 tsp. garlic powder

salt + pepper to taste

1. Heat canola oil in a large heavy bottomed pot over medium heat.  Once hot, add onions and saute until translucent.

2. Add garlic remaining ingredients (minus salt and pepper) and stir to combine.

3. Cover pot. Cook over low heat for 3 hours or until your desired consistency is reached. Stir frequently to keep from burning. You want the heat to be low enough for a very slow simmer.

4. Add salt and pepper and serve!