cooking

Baking Dairy-Free Brownies… Good, Bleh, and Eh

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Image above is from Pixabay.

When I was experimenting with avoiding dairy in my cooking, I tried a brownie recipe. It called for coconut oil instead of a typical dairy ingredient.

The first time, it tasted good—irresistible. I would eat them often. My family disliked them. But I enjoyed them.

The second time, they had a crumbly texture and tasted like they were burnt. I had to throw them away.

The third time, they tasted a tiny bit better. That was it. My family begged me to give up on that recipe.

Oh well. I guess if I want to experiment with dairy-free desserts again, I’ll look for another recipe. Sometimes recipes don’t always result the way you want them to nor do they necessarily end up the same ways each time you use it.

 

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Something Oily This Way Comes… In Baking

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Have you ever noticed that baking with butter differs in your dessert’s texture than baking with oil? I don’t just mean boxed mixes, but baking from scratch.

Yup, I noticed it and a website confirmed it. Oil does make your desserts moister. Butter is good, too, at times, such as when baking cookies (depending on the recipe, especially if you’re trying to bake healthier stuff) and making buttercream icing. Butter is also good at flavoring certain sweets, like yellow cake when mixed in.

However, you usually don’t have to melt oil (unless it’s solid, like coconut oil) or heat it up. When cooking or baking with butter and having to add eggs, you have to use extra care. Melted butter has to be cooled to lukewarm before you add the eggs. Otherwise, you’ll end up with scrambled eggs in your dessert (this has happened to my mom and even me when I cooked vanilla pudding from scratch) and will probably want to throw it away.

Of course, everybody has different preferences. Some people are happy with just using butter. Others will enjoy using oil in their baking, regardless of reason.

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Chocolate Cupcakes: Delicious (Yet Dry) Without Dairy

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This picture was taken from the public domain image site, Pixabay. However, it does look similar to the dairy-free chocolate cupcakes I once made (but hadn’t photographed).

I substituted almond or coconut milk for dairy. I also used oil in place of butter. All other ingredients were the same (flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, etc.).

While the cupcakes came out a bit dry, they still tasted good, especially with a dairy-free chocolate frosting. That icing called for coconut oil, dairy-free chocolate, sugar, and vanilla extract. It also tasted delicious, although it ended up being produced in large quantities. I probably should’ve reduced the recipe in half.

Nevertheless, it’s a recipe that I would love to use again. I made it because of lactose and dairy issues earlier this year. I’m mildly lactose intolerant, but can still handle dairy now.

You can still enjoy it, no matter what. To make the cupcakes more moist, try using more liquid, such as oil. Bake it at a lower temperature and check often. One trick I was taught was to set the timer for a few minutes and check. This can prevent overcooking, thus dry desserts, which not many people like. You may differ, however. No one is right or wrong with their dessert textures or preferences.

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Pasta and Pepper Vodka Sauce… Pretty Delicious?

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Once again, there is no tomato in this sauce due to my tomato allergy. It’s with bell peppers. Other times, this sauce tasted good. However, today, not so much.

I don’t know what it was. Perhaps, it was because I couldn’t find the heavy cream until after I used a little bit of whole milk and coconut milk. Maybe that was a mistake. Luckily the cream didn’t expire. Still. The texture was too creamy like heavy cream, not like vodka or alfredo sauce.

The pasta is brown rice pasta. No gluten, wheat, or anything else but water and brown rice. It’s actually pretty good–at least if you love brown rice. The pasta was no issue for me.

The taste ended up okay. I had to add more salt, but I may have ended up with too much. Perhaps, next time, I will follow a built-in recipe. I have been cooking for half my life and some dishes I can prepare easily without a recipe. But lately, for some reason, everything I cooked, not counting simple dishes like scrambled eggs, went wrong.

I used two peppers for this. I decided not to make too much, otherwise it sits around and no one consumes it after a while. Everyone else is my family can eat tomatoes. I used to be able to have tomatoes until last year, when I suddenly developed the allergy.

My word of advice: be careful experimenting with other ingredients if you can’t find something. Had I not possessed any heavy cream or had it expired, I would have just gone to the grocery store. If you are able to leave your home and either drive, walk, or use public transportation, it’s best to go to the supermarket and turn your stove or oven off.

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Healthy and “Happy” Chocolate Chip Cookies

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If only my cookies ended up as good as the ones above, taken from Pixabay, a public-domain image website. Obviously, I don’t know how these taste. However, I wanted to share my experience on a recipe where I substituted for healthier ingredients, but, unfortunately, failed.

Although substituting works most of the time, sometimes it sadly doesn’t. I found some chocolate-chip cookie recipes that claimed they would be gooey and chewy. I tried experimenting with using oat flour instead of all-purpose and coconut sugar and monk fruit sweetener instead of brown and white sugar. I used one recipe and failed. I tried another recipe and the same experience ended up a bummer.

I learned that for some recipes, substituting may not necessarily work. I had to throw away not only the cookies but also some muffins I baked, where I swapped out certain ingredients for healthier alternatives. The flavors were banana and maple pecan.

I haven’t tossed baked creations since I was 14 or 15. I started cooking and baking at age 12 and am now 24. Rarely did I have to throw anything out since 15.

Regardless of what I’ve said in previous posts, sometimes, if you want a healthier version of a food you enjoy, you just need to find a recipe designated for it. For instance, if you want to use whole wheat flour instead of white, search for a recipe that deliberately calls for whole wheat flour.

Learning the hard way occasionally happens if life, no matter the situation. However, you can learn from that. We all learn from our mistakes. That is how we grow, change, and mature.

 

 

 

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Can You Believe… Dairy-Free Scones are Delicious?

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Although the picture above does not feature scones I’ve made (they’re from a public-domain image site called Pixabay), they look similar enough to the last scones I’ve baked… which had no dairy—at all.

While having some issues with dairy a few months ago, I experimented with dairy-free recipes. I substituted vegan butter for the regular kind and almond milk for the regular one. They came out great. You wouldn’t have been able to tell that they had no dairy.

Even though I’ve said this a lot in my other posts, substituting is always an option if you have dietary restrictions, want to make something healthier, or anything.

I’ve spread jam and vegan butter on the dairy-free scones. And you know? It tasted delicious, just like a scone with dairy.

You can go online and search for dairy-free scones. Try a recipe and see what you think. I hope you enjoy whatever you bake.

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Good Times with Gluten-Free Cooking

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After discovering something about what white flour was doing to my body, I decided to try some gluten-free cooking. I’m not allergic or intolerant to gluten. I still cook with whole wheat and oat flour.

However, I found the gluten-free meals to be easier on my body. I cooked a gluten-free mac and cheese from scratch, as well as almond-meal blueberry muffins and meat and vegetables. It actually spiked my creativity.

Some things didn’t come out the way I wanted, though. For example, I made some gluten-free dinner rolls with almond meal. Unfortunately, they tasted bitter. Maybe the recipe wasn’t that good or something.

That is why I was told to check recipe websites and see if there are reviews. Sometimes, recipes are not tested. This is where you have to show care and caution.

When I started cooking at 12, for the next few years or so, I would constantly have to throw my cooked creations away. Many of us probably had to do that.

Anyway, regardless of what you are cooking, it’s a good idea to see the recipe’s reviews. I usually try out recipes that are at least 4 stars.

I am still looking out for more gluten-free recipes, as well as those with whole wheat, oat, or any other kind of non-white flour.

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Tomato-Free Marinara Sauce? Yes, it’s Possible

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Bell peppers, carrots, spices, herbs. These are the ingredients to make the (not quite) perfect tomato-free marinara sauce.

Why not quite, you may ask? Unfortunately, the taste can only go up to similar. It’s not even almost alike with tomato sauce.

Ever since I developed my tomato allergy last year, my pasta consumption went down. Even now, I barely eat pasta. I can still have pesto, alfredo, garlic and oil, and other tomato-free sauces. But not being able to eat tomato makes pasta-eating less enjoyable.

In fact, this is hard to enjoy on pasta of any kind. Spaghetti, tortellini, penne—you name it. It is good to enjoy on pizza. But that’s a different post.

Anyway, the ingredients for the recipe are as followed:

 

2-3 Bell peppers

½ – 3/4 Pureed cooked carrots

A T of Olive oil

1 T Sugar

A dash of Salt

Grated Pepper

A dash of Minced garlic or garlic powder

A dash of Minced onions or onion powder

About a T of Basil

About a T of Oregano

A pinch of Thyme

About a T of Parsley

A pinch of Rosemary

A ½ t of Red wine vinegar

 

You cut up and broil the red peppers for about ten minutes. The outside should blacken. Then you secure the peppers in brown paper bags for about ten minutes as well. After that, you peel and puree them in the blender.

In the meantime, you can steam, boil, or microwave the carrots. You want them to be as soft as possible. I would recommend using frozen ones as those soften more quickly. Once they are as soft as you like, blend them in with the bell pepper puree.

Heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add the pepper and carrot puree. Then add the spices and herbs as needed, as well as the tiny amount of vinegar. You don’t want to overdo it, otherwise, the vinegar gets strong and the taste is practically impossible to remove.

Taste as you add your spices. If you need to adjust, do so. To add flavor, increase the spice or herb. To remove flavor, add a little bit (not too much) olive oil or blend more peppers and carrots.

Pour over pasta, pizza, whatever you’d like. The texture will be close to a tomato. That’s something good about this.

Regardless of why you are not eating tomatoes, this recipe can benefit you. Those who like tomatoes or can eat them with no problem can also try this recipe.

Tomatoes might not be a common food allergy, like nuts, gluten, or dairy. But people can be allergic or intolerant to any kind of food. It’s good to vary your ingredients. You may make someone’s day amazing.

 

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A Pepper Pizza Post

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Believe it or not, this pizza’s sauce has no tomato. That’s because I’m allergic to tomatoes. It’s got pureed bell peppers and carrots as well as all the spices and herbs for traditional marinara sauce.

The sauce tastes similar, but not alike. It was never that good on pasta. However, it tastes pretty good on pizza, like this one.

I miss being able to enjoy regular pizza (my tomato allergy developed last year). The only pizza I can enjoy from public is white pizza. I used to enjoy pizza from Costco, Red Baron, and other places. I always preferred the ones with more sauce and thicker crust than the traditional NY pizza.

Sadly those days are gone. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to eat classic pizza ever again. It really sticks.

I went to a social event where the host ordered pizza, and I couldn’t have it. So I brought my own dinner.

I’m glad I tried this. Now I can enjoy homemade pizza either on premade crust or dough I make from scratch.

There’s always something you can figure out if you can’t enjoy a certain food. Substituting can be fun. It may not be the same, but similar is good enough.

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Spectacular Spiral Cookies

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It’s chocolate and vanilla dough rolled together. When you slice it, you should get spirals. Of course, not all the cookies will have perfect spirals, or even anything resembling a swirl. As you can see in the picture, there are no cookies with whirls. This was just a portion of a picture from my college graduation party.

I find them irresistible. When I choose to bake them, I make a lot and I eat many. My family doesn’t really enjoy them. But I love them.  

These are not very well-known cookies. I discovered these in a cooking class from high school. But they are super-delicious. You can go online and find a recipe to make them. You can choose from hard or soft-baked.

Be aware, though, that these are not instant from mixing ingredients to going straight into the oven. You need to refrigerate the vanilla and chocolate doughs separately for at least two hours. Otherwise, you may not receive satisfying results.

The wait is worth it, though. Many love the best of both chocolate and vanilla.