baking…for relief

This morning started off as any usual Saturday morning for me.  I was up around 6:00 a.m. and wishing that for once I could have slept in a little later.  After years of working and having the two boy I can’t seem to sleep past this time unless I am out and awake extremely late.  Even then I often find myself only sleeping until about 8:00!

I was soon to discover that this would not be my usual Saturday morning.  I received a phone call shortly after pouring my morning cup of coffee.  It was my mom calling to let me know that my uncle had just passed away :(

I wasn’t very close to my uncle, I am not very close with a large portion of my family.  I am not sure why that is, but as far back as I can remember with the exception of a few aunts we have never spent a lot of time with family.  Still it saddens me to see my momma go through the lose of a sibling.

The news this morning was bittersweet.  I know that sounds crazy so let me explain.  My uncle was diagnosed with diverticulitis about 15-16 months ago.  He had a terrible attack which required the removal of his colon and part of his intestines.  Until this attack no one had any idea he even had the disease.  During his surgery he suffered a massive stroke which required a transfer to a bigger more equipped hospital.  It was such a scary time but he pulled through. 

We were all under the assumption that he would be okay.  Several months after the stroke it was discovered that he had cancer.  My uncle has suffered for a year with this very ugly, aggressive disease.  He was literally covered with it – liver, pancreas, lungs, stomach, kidneys, etc.  He has fought a hard battle.  So you see when I say bittersweet it is bitter because of the loss, but sweet because we know that he is now in Heaven and no longer suffering.

Of course with such terrible news this morning I needed something to keep me busy.  I knew what the answer would be immediately.  I wanted to cook & bake.  So cook & bake I did.  I have several recipes to share with you today, and it has helped me so much this morning to work on the recipes to share for the blog.  I hope that you try them and enjoy them as much as we have.

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Almond Griddle Cakes (adapted from Clean Eating Mag)

  • 1/4 cup freshly ground almonds
  • 1/4 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 2 egg whites
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together almonds, baking powder, and cinnamon.  Add the maple syrup, and whisk the egg whites a little before adding them to the mixture.  
  2. Heat your griddle or pan and spray with non-stick spray (you may use a drizzle of oil as well).  Spoon out the batter on the griddle.  Cook for a few minutes until brown and you see bubbles.  Carefully flip the cake over and cook until the other side is browned.  Remove and place on a plate to keep warm until you finish cooking the cakes.

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These cakes were a nice change from my usual Saturday pancakes.  I topped mine with some sliced peaches (heat in microwave for 90 seconds), cinnamon, and maple syrup.  Of course they will go perfectly with any topping.

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The first picture is Kohl’s pancake – he insisted on taking the picture himself – which lead to Noah insisting that he take one of his pancake as well (chocolate chip) :)

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Lemon Squares

These are not your typical lemon squares.  My father loves for me to make him a Lemon Ice Box pie.  This recipe was inspired by that pie!  I wanted to make lemon squares, but I wanted to challenge myself.  Let’s try and make them vegan :)

Graham Cracker Crust

  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  • 1/8 c organic turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1 T oil
  • 2 T molasses
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1/4 c + 1 T almond milk
  1. Pre heat the oven to 350.  Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl until mixed.  You should be able to form a ball. 
  2. Prepare a pan by lining with parchment paper with the sides overlapping on each end.  This will help with easy removal/slicing.  With damp hands take the ball of dough and mash it out evenly covering the bottom of an eight by eight square pan.  Using a fork, poke holes throughout the crust.  Bake in the oven for 12-14 minutes.  12 minutes for a more doughy crust – 14 for a more crisp crust. 

** this recipe is actually a recipe for graham crackers that you would roll out until 1/8 inch flat and then cut in squares and bake.  I decided to take a short cut and bake in the pan the bars were going to be prepared in.  You can always make the crackers and follow the usual recipe, which states that you crumble up the graham crackers, mix with earth balance, and then mash into the bottom of the pan**

Lemon Curd Filling

  • 1 + 1/4 c almond milk
  • 1/2 c organic turbinado sugar
  • 2 T corn starch
  • 2 lemons – juiced
  • 1/2 c silken tofu
  • zest of one lemon
  1. Combine the milk and sugar in a sauce pan over medium heat.  Whisk to dissolve the sugar while slowly bringing the mixture to a boil.  Right before boiling spoon out 3 T of the milk and mix with the corn starch.  Once corn starch in dissolved pour it into the milk mixture and boil until thickened.  This is you “condensed” milk.  Remove from heat and set aside. 
  2. In a blender blend the silken tofu until smooth and creamy.  Add the lemon zest and lemon juice to the tofu and mix well.  Whisk the tofu mixture into the milk mixture.  Continue to whisk until all ingredients are incorporated.  Pour the mixture over the cooled crust and let it sit on the counter for about 20 minutes.  Place in the refrigerator and chill for at least three hours.

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The crust rocks!!

Okay so now I have to tell you a little story.  Earlier in the day the boys and I made a trip to our local Books-A-Million so I could browse a book I have my eye on before purchasing it.  While I am sprawled on the floor in the cooking isle with several books around me, Kohl comes over with a cupcake book and a request!  He informed me that I must go home and bake the “cherry cupcakes”.  He love Maraschino cherries.  Of course the recipe was for a black forest cupcake.  It took much persuasion to get him to place the book back on the shelf. 

Well wouldn’t you know that as soon as I came home and started browsing through some of the blogs I read daily, I came across Mama Pea’s newest blog….Black Forest Brownies!  My prayers have been answered without the purchase of a 20$ cupcake book :)

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So we made Mama Pea’s black forest brownie – cupcake style!  Thank you Mama Pea! 

You can get the recipe here.  I did however use my recipe for the icing and topped it with his favorite – cherries :)

Cream Cheese” Icing

  • 1/2 cup yogurt cheese
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 t vanilla

Mix all ingredients together until smooth and use as icing.

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Kohl was really excited to see these little gems sitting on the table.  Oops, one cherry short – guess I’ll have to eat that one!

All of the baking was relaxing and helped keep me calm, but I can’t live on lemon squares and brownie cupcakes all day (even if you really would want to), I had to give some consideration to dinner.  I wanted something simple, but also wanted a new recipe since I am in the “experiment in the kitchen” mode.  So my dinner was inspired by a recipe in one of my favorite magazines :)

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Polenta Pie (adapted from Clean Eating Mag)

Crust

  • 1 cup coarse cornmeal or polenta
    • (not de-germinated)
  • 1/2 t sea salt
  • 1/2 t dried sage
  • 1+1/2 t Italian seasoning
  • 1 T cajun seasoning

Filling

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 6 c spinach
  • 1 c cooked lentils
  1. Rub spring-form pan with a small amount of oil and set aside.  Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Bring 3 cups water to a boil.  add cornmeal and salt, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 25 minutes or utnil cornmeal is soft and creamy.  add more water if necessary.  remove from heat and stir in dried herbs.
  3. In a large skillet on medium heat sauté onion in oil until it just begins to turn translucent.  gently fold in spinach and cook for another 2 minutes, stir in the lentils and remove from heat.
  4. add half of the cornmeal to spring-form pan, using a spatula to smooth it across the bottom. Spoon the filling onto cormeal and to with the remaining layer of cornmeal.  Bake for 30-40 minutes or until top begins to turn golden brown.  Remove and let cool for at least 5 minutes.
  5. Unlock sides of pan, portion and serve as you would a pie.

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I accompanied my lovely meal with a nice roasted sweet potato.  It was delish!

So there you have it, all of the things that kept me busy today!  Now I think I will go enjoy a hot bath, a nice glass of vino (I deserve it), and try to lose myself in a book. 

What are some of the things you do when you feel the need to keep yourself busy?  Do you have any hobbies such as cooking/baking that you use for stress relief?

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Filed under baking, Breakfast, DINNER, Fruit, Uncategorized

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