Thursday, December 13, 2012

Banana Cake SO Good, You Can Skip the Frosting (Gluten & Dairy Free)



5 over ripe banana's sat in my fruit bowl & I only needed 1 for my smoothie. So what's a girl to do? Make banana cake of course! (I guess I could have made bread but, I was in the mood for cake).

And given my current diet restrictions, it had to be gluten, dairy & soy free.  The fact that this is also egg free, thus making it vegan, well, that's just an added bonus.  Recently, while in conversation with someone regarding my current diet limitations, they mistakenly assumed that everything made w/out gluten, dairy, soy etc. must taste like cardboard. Well, let me tell you folks, this cake is the furthest thing from any cardboard! It's so, amazingly moist and full of flavor that frosting really isn't necessary at all. In fact, frosting would probably take away from the amazing flavor of the cake. And if I had not told you, you would have never known it lacked gluten or dairy. I added a dollop of coconut whipped cream to make the picture pretty but, truth be told, this cake is amazing all by it's self. ( Although, a nice cup of coffee or hot tea on the side is a nice complement.)

So, let's get started...

Your going to need a 9 x 13 baking dish (I used glass & I did not even pre-grease it).
Next, your going to want to preheat your oven to 350°F
Now grab 2 large & 1 small mixing bowls and gather the following...

Ingredients:

DRY

1 C Brown Rice Flour
1/2 C Almond Flour
1/4 C Tapioca Starch
1 tsp. Xanthan Gum
2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. rounded, Ground Cinnamon

WET

1 C Blond Coconut Sugar
3/4 C Coconut Sugar* (does not say dark, but, darker than the blond)
1 & 1/2 Tblsp. Molasses*
1/2 C Earth Balance Buttery Spread (soy free), softened
3 Tbl. Sp. Golden Flaxseed Meal**
6 Tbl. Sp. HOT (almost boiling) Water**
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
4 Large, Overripe, Mashed Bananas
1 Tbl. Sp. Raw, Apple Cider Vinegar
2/3 C So Delicious Coconut CREAMER (the plain, unsweetened, unflavored version...red carton)

What to Do:

First things first, your going to make your egg replacement in the small mixing bowl by **mixing the flaxseed meal with the hot water.  Place in fridge to cool & gel.

Molasses Prior to Mixing
All Mixed Up
-Next your going to make some Brown (coconut) Sugar in one of the large bowls by *mixing the 3/4 C of coconut sugar with both, the 1 & 1/2 Tblsp. of molasses.  Mix it well until the molasses is fully incorporated into the sugar.  A fork does just fine for this step.


-Now in the other large bowl, whisk together ALL of the dry ingredients

-Next, add the blond coconut sugar to the brown sugar you made, then add the flaxseed meal (it does not need to be fully chilled), Earth Balance, vanilla, and bananas.

 
-Beat on low, gradually increasing speed until bananas are fully mashed and well blended.

-Add the apple cider vinegar & coconut creamer and beat on medium until everything is really well blended.



-Next, fold half of the dry ingredients into the wet with a spatula and then use the mixer to beat on low speed until well blended.  (If you don't fold the flour mixture in first, you will have flour flying everywhere!)

-repeat with the 2nd half of the dry ingredients.




Now, your ready to pour this into your baking dish.  Doesn't that look delicious already?  Now, let it bake for 45-50 minutes.  Just wait until you smell it wafting through the air as it bakes.  Heaven!!!


Once it's done, take it out of the oven and allow it to cool for at least 10 minutes before enjoying a slice of this delicious moistness.  I personally, LOVE warm cake fresh from the oven.  Please note, as you can see in the picture, the cracks in the cake are completely normal so don't fret over it.  If you can't bare the thought of serving a cake with cracks in it, well, then you should just frost it.  But, really, it tastes amazing all on it's own and once your guests taste it, I'm pretty confidant that no one will be looking at the cracks in the cake.


 The End... Enjoy!!! :)


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pumpkin Mac & "Cheese" (Dairy & Gluten Free)



Finding a truly dairy free AND soy free cheese alternative that actually melts & tastes like real cheese (AND would be able to fool Miss M into thinking it was the real deal) was NOT easy. But, where there is a will, there is a way. Enter: Daiya Cheddar Style & Mozzarella Style Shreds. This is the closest thing to the real deal that I have ever found.

I have made mac & "cheese" with this product before and it was tasty but, could not fool Miss M.  As I browsed my fall pin board on Pinterest one day, I came across a recipe I pinned quite sometime ago for Pumpkin Mac n' Cheese. I just love savory pumpkin dishes! Of course, this recipe called for all kinds of dairy so, instead, I just made my own recipe using the Daiya shreds and added pumpkin. It was a risk since I was pretty much just winging it. End result: The pumpkin made the "cheese" sauce seem even richer & creamier. I loved it, Mr. A loved it & even Miss M loved it. (Finally!  A dairy & gluten free mac & cheese that passes the most rigorous test).  So, overall it was a success...a very filling success at that. And just look at that gooey "cheesy" goodness in the picture!  (I really need to get better at my food photography but, this was done on a whim).

The ONLY major drawback is the cost of the shreds... at over $5 per bag, this will be a rare treat. (Though, I did get 3 different meals that fed the whole family with leftovers, out of 2 bags). So, in the grand scheme of things, not too terrible.  A great way to make this meal stretch even further is to add some tuna & peas (don't be put off by the fact that this dish has pumpkin...just omit the nutmeg garnish).  It's one of Miss M's favorite meals.  (I halve the mack & cheese & use 1 can white albacore tuna and 1 steam fresh bag of frozen peas and I save the other half of the mac & cheese for another meal.).

So, lets get started. You will need:

1 package (12-16 oz) gluten free pasta of your choice (I love Tinkyada Brown Rice Elbows, Shells or Spirals)

2 Tbl. Sp. Earth Balance Buttery Spread (I use the soy free version).

1/2 C Daiya Mozzarella style shreds

1 C Daiya Cheddar style shreds

1/2 C unsweetened almond milk

1/2 C canned pumpkin

Salt, Pepper & Garlic Salt (optional) to taste.

Ground Nutmeg for garnish (optional but, will bring out the pumpkin flavor)

Directions:

1.) Prepare the pasta according to the directions. *The best method for Al Dente texture:  Follow the energy saving directions on the package but, check texture after 8-10 min rather than 15.

2.) Drain and rinse the pasta and set aside.

3.) Use the same pot to make your cheese sauce.  Over Medium heat, add the Earth Balance, both Daiya shreds, the almond milk & pumpkin all at once.

4.)  Stir briskly and continuously until the shreds have completely melted.  Just look at that creamy goodness after only 3 minutes...



5.)  Remove from the heat and gently fold in the pasta until well coated.

6.)  Season to taste, garnish with nutmeg if desired & enjoy!

Another shot from a different night...