A good day for donuts

gluten free vegan donuts

My ultimate zen is a Songza playlist of the “sunshine indie” variety and a mid-morning baking session, which is also when the natural light is best for capturing photographs along the way.

Luckily, I never face a shortage of baked goods I want to try for the first or fortieth time. Ever since I tried Babycakes’ unbelievable gluten-free, soy-free, vegan donuts in New York, I have had a major craving. And is it just me or is there an unusually high number of donut recipes floating around Pinterest lately?

So this Saturday I took a short, relaxing break from what is shaping up to be a jam-packed January to try out this recipe I found from Bubble Girl Bakes.

The perfect playlist blasted, the sunlight hit just right and these guys turned out delicious. It’s been a good day.

gingerbread cake donut holes - gf vegan

Here’s her recipe, with my notes in parentheses.

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons flaxseed, finely ground
½ cup warm water
¼ cup light extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup maple syrup (All I had on hand was the corn syrup variety…)
¼ cup molasses (I happened to have some gingerbread flavored syrup I used in its place)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup + 2 tablespoons bg bakes gluten free all-purpose flour mix (I used a store-bought GF flour mix)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon baking soda

1. Whisk the flaxseed and water well; let sit for minimum of 5 minutes.
2. Mix all liquids including flaxseed mixture on high.
3. Sift dry ingredients in until just combined, each in order of how listed above.
4. Pour into a greased donut pan, roll on a pan for donut holes, whatever! I put the gingerbread ones in a cupcake pan I had, then finally had the bright idea to put the chocolate batter into an icing piping bag to shape into the traditional donut shape on a pan.
5. Bake at 375 F for ten minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
6. Enjoy!

chocolate donuts - gf and vegan

I also tried her chocolate donut recipe, which was good (although the gingerbread ones win my vote). It was actually my first flaxseed baking experience, and I have to say, it went well! The donuts came out moist and not crumbly at all, which can sometimes be a problem with gluten-free baking.

Next up, jelly donuts!

Advertisements

Next up, 2014

cheers banner

live life quote

Last year I decided on themes from 2012 and set ones for 2013, and it turned out to be one of my favorite posts. From time to time, I would look back to see how I was doing at my resolutions or if, most likely as I feared, I had forgotten about them entirely. I’m probably way too proud to say I really did accomplish last year’s goals, so I decided I would do the same style this year.

2013 was the year of…

Creativity. I made great strides as a budding amateur photographer and even won the Innovator Award at my agency’s annual peer-voted awards ceremony for the most creative strategies, ideas and campaigns (and tights, due to my daily variation of colors and patterns).

Relationships. Last year I was excited to announce the return of one of my best friends (now roommate). This year I had another lifelong friend move to the DFW area and managed to make some pretty huge strides in my romantic relationship. November 2012 I was sure I was on the brink of a break-up, yet somehow we grew together in a way I didn’t see coming, leading up to our engagement November 2013. Crazy! No offense meant to the rest of you guys, but I’m pretty sure I’ve locked down the most caring, intelligent, witty, handsome guy out there.

Travel. My real goal, if you haven’t caught on yet, is to make every year the year of travel. In 2013 I visited El Paso, Washington D.C., Austin, Chicago, Wisconsin, Tulsa, New York (twice!), Istanbul and Atlanta. What a great year!

Health. After battling what appears to be food allergies in the form of super swollen eyes and lips, I finally have the uncomfortable issues and itchiness under semi-control. I reached a pretty low place when my physical issues were leaving me ugly and sleep deprived, but I have been so blessed with a loving boyfriend, compassionate boss, tireless parents, understanding friends and the BEST DOCTOR EVER (aka Dr. Crawford). I also got to experiment with new recipes and restaurants in line with my new gluten, dairy, soy, egg, nut, bean – free diet.

2014 will focus on…

Engaging. Recently I realized that my natural inclinations to keep my head down in the grocery store and zone out to the tune of my to do list at work are just not what’s important. Life is not at all about me, and I want the way I live to reflect that. Some ways I plan on doing that include smiling more, asking questions, complimenting others, inviting people to coffee and lunches (heck, actually taking lunches) and dedicating one night a week to catching up on message replies, texts, maybe even a “hey, how’s life” phone call or snail mail note. I’ve let far too many close friendships grow distant and opportunities to connect with strangers fall by the wayside. No more.

Using time intentionally. This looks like lining up podcasts for my daily commutes to hear from Ben Stewart, the Bible app, TED talks or Italian lessons. This also looks like using my nights and weekends to pursue others and my interests, rather than pick up dinner at Whole Foods only to waste away on Netflix (no matter how good Sherlock, Parks & Rec and White Collar are). For instance, I have been promised a trip to Italy once I become fluent. Motivation, secured. I came across this quote the other day by H. Jackson Brown Jr.:

Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.

Rediscovering reading. When I was younger I read multiple books a week. Now, the same length book takes me at least a month. This year I want to read more, in turn increasing my appetite for even more books. Reading also has the side effects of inspiring creative juices and providing much needed rest, both of which I can always stand more of. I also really, really want to start a book club. I’ve been talking about this for at least a year, and enough is enough. If you’re in the Dallas area and love books and brunch, you should probably think about joining. More info coming soon as I figure out just what this looks like, but I’m très‎ excited.

Traveling. Up next is a road trip to Marfa, a leisurely beachfront long weekend in Maine, Austin for SXSW (and most likely my bachelorette party), another trip (or two, or three) to New York City and of course, our honeymoon. Right now, Italy’s Amalfi coast and Naples or Spain’s islands and Barcelona are in the lead.

That’s it! I could go on and on when it comes to goals and to do lists, but hopefully these themes give you a good idea of where I’ve been, where I’m at and where I’m going.

What have you got planned for 2014?

Keeping up with the times

time time is now quoteWhile some blogging days I like to just sit down and see what comes out, I can’t deny the fact that ultimately, I’m a planner at heart. So all week long I’ve planned to rant reflect about how absurdly fast this past month disappeared and look ahead to the current one. It’s a testament to just how fast last month really did go by in that I didn’t even realize until just now that my to do list has read all week: “Saturday: July Beginning blog post.”

…Yeah.

Given my apparent obliviousness to the entire month of July, I decided to explore this phenomenon a little further, which a Brain Pickings article deems ‘mind time.’ Titled Why time slows down when we’re afraid, speeds up as we age, and gets warped on vacation, the article presents some interesting theories for our perception and memory of time.

When I was eight, for example, I remember long summer and weekend days spent building houses in the woods behind my best friend’s house, scavenging for cool sticks and empty bottles to ‘decorate’ our houses, being quite sure we were the very first to discover a creek there, feeling so dangerous for secretly swimming in it…and yes, this PG definition of ‘dangerous’ did persist throughout much of my life to probably my parents’ relief, but that’s a different blog post.

The article points out that the reason days seemed so long when I was eight is because at that point, that year was a whopping 1/8 of my entire life. Now my years make up comparatively less and less of my entire life, making them feel shorter and faster with every passing day, month and year.

For me, all this does is emphasize how important it really is to be making the most of every moment I can…and it’s probably a little hard to be practicing living in the present if I don’t even know when that is. August is bringing plenty of notable things my way, too:

My first pizza in four months. My homemade (ish) attempt at a gluten-free, vegan pizza to be exact.

A housewarming party! I love hosting all my favorite people under one roof, so in addition to being a great incentive to finish all our DIY projects and stock our bar cart, enjoying the place with friends and family will be the final touch to really making our house a home.

New ‘neighbors’. The aforementioned best friend and I have maintained a long distance friendship since I was nine years old. She just accepted a job in the DFW area, though, so we will finally get to see what spending time together is like minus the plane ticket or multiple hour car ride.

What are you looking forward to this month?

UPDATE: I just read Lydia’s post about August’s surprising arrival…after publishing my own. Somebody needs to tell this time to slow down! Who’s with me?

Word of the day: cozy

pug in the rain cozy stylish blankets cozy sweater allergy free gluten free vegan blondie recipe friends and teaThe combination of rain and Monday equals late starts, lethal traffic and even later arrivals. Add the mountain of catch-up-from-vacation work I still have in front of me with a dash of lethargy from too much fun and food (obviously I lead quite the deprived life), and you have a recipe for seemingly insurmountable odds and the kind of insufferable self-pity that can only be had by someone (me) who really doesn’t actually have a whole lot to complain about in the grand scheme of things.

But some days, I think it’s okay to acknowledge when the world feels like it’s winning more than usual and you just need a piece or five of chocolate already.

I promise Chicago pictures are on their way…In the meantime, I’m going with a favorite mood-boosting tactic of mine – visualizing my perfect day right now a la the images above. How would you like to be spending your Monday?

 

Adventures in Quinoa

gluten-free, dairy-free, mostly sugar-free apple crisp dessert recipe

Somehow my busy weekend managed to feel slow-paced, which brought some much needed de-stressing to stop my lungs from attempting to squeeze my sternum right out of my body (…too graphic?). After some sunny, windows-down drives listening to my 90’s Pop Pandora station and admiring the buildings through downtown Dallas, I settled in for another one of my favorite stress-busting activities – baking. I put in a DVD from The OC: Season 1 and got to work.

While apple crisp is commonly a fall dessert, the lemons in this recipe make this a refreshing dish. Plus the fact that it’s gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free (okay, so there’s maybe just a tiny bit of optional honey) make it a light treat that also happens to be relatively healthy.

healthy, vegan apple crisp dessert

Ingredients

  • 2 granny smith apples
  • 2 small lemons
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of honey
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free flour (Ex: Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour)
  • Cinnamon, nutmeg and salt
  • Oil spray

Quinoa

Combine rinsed quinoa with the water, vanilla, honey, one squeezed lemon juice, its lemon zest, olive oil and a dash or two of cinnamon. Bring to boil, cover and reduce to simmer. After 15-20 minutes, test-fluff the quinoa. If it’s still a little wet / clumpy, just recover, turn to low and let sit until dry. When ready, turn off stove and leave covered.

healthy dessert recipe

Prep

Very lightly coat pan with oil spray. Peel apples (I only partially peeled mine to get a little mixed texture from the apple skin). Thinly slice apples – the thinner, the easier they’ll cook through. Fill the pan halfway.

Dust with a handful of flour then with nutmeg and cinnamon to taste. Squeeze a little of the second lemon and sprinkle a pinch of salt over the apples.

Mix cooked quinoa with flour then sprinkle the mixture evenly until all apples are covered. Spray one light coat of oil over the top.

Bake

350 degrees until top is crispy and edges are starting to brown (25-35 minutes).

healthy apple crisp recipe

Enjoy!

Tax-free treats

gluten dairy free turnover recipe

Doing your own taxes is an adulthood rite of passage all must face at some point or another…unless you happen to be one of those girls whose dad does it for you until you get married, at which point your husband does it for you.

I am not one of those girls.

Entering the “Adults who do their own taxes” club is particularly celebratory because of how deeply I dread it each year. Last year I was supposed to do my own taxes, only to practically cause my phone water damage from tearfully calling my dad until he took pity on me. But this year, I vowed to confront my fear of taxes like the independent, most-of-the-time intelligent woman I am…after months of procrastination of course.

I can’t really explain my somewhat irrational fear of taxes, but it probably has something to do with the shaming from seeing my total made versus the total in my bank account, the fact that I literally don’t understand a word of IRS-speak, the frustration from not understanding, the feeling of stupidity that follows for getting so terribly lost in those forms and the pressure of sending it off to the government, who I hear could really make my life hell if I screw it up. It’s all an awful lot for a perfectionist to take.

Despite my best efforts, some tears and multiple phone calls to my boyfriend, bank and TurboTax later, I finally filed my own taxes. Now let’s just hope I did them correctly?

It’s enough to make a girl stress eat, but my allergy elimination diet (ONE more week!) has me avoiding a lot of my typical edible solutions. Fruit is pretty much my only allowed source of sweetness, so I adapted my favorite low-fat pie crust recipe to make fruit turnovers. This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free / vegan and added sugar free, so eat, eat eat away!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cup Gluten-Free Flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill Mix)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 3 tablespoons non-dairy milk (I used flax milk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Fruit of your choice (I used peaches, strawberries and blackberries)

Directions:

gluten dairy free turnover recipe

  • Slice your desired fruit up into small bits.
  • Mix the dry ingredients in a medium – large bowl.

gluten dairy free turnover recipe

  • Mix the wet ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix well – It should look just like pie crust dough now, so if it’s still crumbly add equal parts milk (for crisp flakiness) and oil (for soft, anti-crumbliness) until it is malleable and crumble-free.

gluten dairy free turnover recipe

  • Roll out the dough and use a small bowl to cut the bottom of the turnover out. Sometimes this dough is hard to maneuver, so I rolled mine very thin straight on the cooking pan sheet.
  • Place your fruits of choice in the center of the dough circles on the pan.

gluten dairy free turnover recipe

  • Peel the remaining dough off the pan and roll out on your counter to cut the turnover tops out with a slightly larger bowl. The tops will probably need to be rolled thicker than the bottoms and picked up with a spatula so they don’t rip.
  • Seal with a fork pressed around the edges, then cook at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes. You may want to bake them for an additional 5 minutes at 425 or 450 for extra crispness (I did). 

gluten dairy free turnover recipe

Enjoy your basically healthy treats and cheers to ten months of no taxes!

Starting from scratch

fresh vegetables - quinoa saladcooking quinoaquinoa salad recipe  

My on-again, off-again relationship with my kitchen has been going steady for years, but my new gluten, dairy, and heck, everything free diet has forced me to spend much more quality time with my pots and pans as of late. 

I mean, I’ve always like the idea of cooking. But it just takes so long, ingredients can get a little pricey when you’re just cooking for one and it seems like an awful lot of effort to start from scratch after fighting traffic home from a long day at work. I knew if this month-long commitment for a healthier me was going to be successful, I was going to need a plan.

For the first week or so, I spent an afternoon making a huge bowl of white rice and grilling chicken kebabs with different seasonings so I could easily grab a perfectly-portioned meal whenever I was hungry or frantically trying to get out the door for work. Some vegetables helped liven up the rice every day, and I treated myself to the most adorable sectioned container to pack everything in. Luckily, my three years of work at an Asian restaurant also prepared me to not only eat, but enjoy rice for meals on end.

But nobody can eat rice 24/7, so this week I’m venturing into all the possibilities of quinoa. My experience with this grain can be summed up by the embarrassing fact I was walking around pronouncing it “Kwin-oh-uh” for far too long than I care to admit…My mind was blown to learn this is the exact same food as that grain everyone pronounces “Keen-whah”. Who knew?! Well, probably you did, but there you go.

I cooked this quinoa substituting half the water with chicken stock, then added basil, cucumbers, grape halves and a little olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Quinoa cooks just like rice, and I can’t stress enough to make sure you don’t add too much liquid. My first batch of quinoa came out a little lot on the wet side, which is not nearly as appetizing as the dryer, store-bought quinoa I’ve had before. I’d also advise drizzling the olive oil on top just before serving/eating, rather then mixing it in advance. Not only does this keep the salad from getting too moist, but it looks nice on the plate, too!

Making the Most of a Rainy Day

weekend outfitcompany cafe gluten free french toast stickscompany cafe greenville dallasproject rebrief

Can we all just agree that today was the shortest Saturday ever? I can’t believe the day’s nearly over. It’s been grey and misty in Dallas today, the kind of day where you just have no choice but to pull up the covers and and sleep in. Of course, one of the side affects of turning into an adult is now “sleeping in” only gets to me to about 9:30 a.m. tops.

I fought off a near-debilitating combination of laziness and boredom to find some comfy clothes and brave the Texas ‘cold’ for a working brunch. Now cozied back up in my apartment, I may be making a trip downstairs soon for some prosecco to keep me company for a night in with Project Re:Brief, a documentary pictured above about how a couple advertising professionals revisited their most iconic ads from the sixties to create engaging digital campaigns for today’s world. I might even go really crazy and throw in some Netflix. Look out, Dallas…

Today also solidified my previous suspicions that Company Cafe is my favorite brunch restaurant in Dallas. At some point I’ll have to branch out and try out the rest of the menu, but so far their pancakes, brisket tacos, breakfast tacos, gravy and as of today, french toast sticks are all amazing. And it’s all natural and gluten-free! Not just gluten-free, but great tasting and gluten-free, which is easier said than done. My post allergy-diagnosed diet is having me live wheat-less for a little while, so this is particularly good news for my carb-starved soul. Don’t worry, I’m no food critic and I know it, so you don’t have to fear some elaborate, overly descriptive story a la Yelp-style is going to ensue. Just know it’s amazing, and you should go. Plus, you’re supporting local farms and food suppliers, many dedicated to great social causes like Impact Foods, a gluten-free granola company that donates food packs to children for every bad of granola sold. Food that tastes good, makes you feel good and does good…how can you say no to that? (Plus, all their servers at both locations have always been nice, helpful and down to earth. Okay, okay…I’ll try to stop raving now.)

P.S. Lucia was amazing. I’ve fully bought into the hard-to-grab reservation process and high price tag after last night’s meal. Go there, too.