Sweet Cranberry Wine Sauce – gluten free + vegan

Ingredients:

1 bag cranberries (12-16 ounces)
1 750ml bottle of sweet wine (*See note*)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
pinch salt

Directions:

In a medium stock pot add your sugar. Turn your burner onto medium high. Wash your cranberries well under warm running water, shake most the water off. Add your cranberries to the pot and stir well to mix with the sugar. After about 60 seconds of stirring, lift your pot off the burner and away from the flame and slowly add some of your wine. Adding only a little at a time will help prevent boil over, when working with alcohol this is important as a boil over could produce flame (never good!). Once you get enough in the pan to coat the bottom of the pan with at-least a 1/4 inch or about a centimeter, you can return the pan to the stove and add the remaining wine. Save that wine bottle though as its a great way to serve your sauce that’ll have your guests wondering!

Bring to a boil while stirring. You want to stir your sauce mixture until all the sugar is dissolved and you no longer feel the sugar at the bottom of the pot.

Once the sauce is boiling, turn the heat down to a simmer or just a little higher. You will want to reduce your sauce down depending on how thick you want your final product. If you want something closer to a jelly or jam, reduce it down by half. If you want something more like a slightly thickened sauce, 1/3 – 1/4 will do just fine. (I reduced by 1/4) Just make a mental note where the sauce started, so you know when you get there. Let it cook uncovered until your desired thickness, make sure to stir every 2-5 minutes just in case, other than that it doesn’t require much effort.

After your sauce is your desired consistency, use an immersion blender or transfer tinto a blender continer. Blend on high until the sauce is a very fine puree, you can optionally strain the sauce if you want.

As this sauce cools down it will thicken up a good bit due to the pectin in the cranberries, so keep this in mind while making it. If kept in a tight fitting glass container this sauce will keep up to 2 – 3 weeks. (photo was taken after sauce was 2 weeks old!)

*NOTE* Make sure you ONLY use a wine you would drink plain. Cooking this wine concentrates the flavor, so if you don’t like the wine to start with, this won’t make it better. I suggest a sweet white wine like a moscato d’asti or a riesling. A sweet red like a rose wine would also go amazingly with this.

CAUTION: If you’re making this for someone who is gluten intolerant or a vegan. Please make sure that the wine you’re using is gluten free and contains no animal products. Most wines are finished with isinglass, this is a concentrated substance from the bladder of fish. Some wines are made with wheat and wheat like products. When it doubt call the producer of this wine or choose a different brand.

How to make: Vanilla Extract

 

How to make: Vanilla Extract
 
Have you ever wondered how they make vanilla extract, or been curious why they can taste so different from brand to brand? Well some brand actually use chemicals in the processing of their extracts, leading you ingesting poisons you would rather not have, but I have a solution for you! Just make you own like I do. Now that might sound confusing and borderline scary, but once you try this I promise you'll never buy the junky overpriced stuff in the store.
Author:
Serves: 2 cups
Ingredients
  • 10 long sized (6-7") vanilla beans (see notes)
  • 14-15 ounces clear and unflavored vodka
  • 16 ounce GLASS container , amber works best
  • scissors
Instructions
  1. If your beans are older you can snap them, otherwise, use your scissors and cut 10 beans into ½ inch - 1 inch pieces and put them inside a glass container that's at-least 16 ounces and has a tight fitting lid. Pour in 14 - 15 ounces of a clear unflavored vodka. I just use the cheapest vodka at the store, but if you want you can use the more expensive stuff. The important part is to not get flavored vodka or a mix vodka, this will ruin the final flavor and is a waste of good vanilla beans.
  2. After you add the vodka, put on the cap and shake gently to help the process along. You will notice that it will already turn a slightly browner color and you might see little black specs, this is normal and is what will make your homemade extract 100 times better than store-bought in the end. Put your extract in a darker place, away from direct sunlight. An amber bottle will help with this, but since they're hard to find, storing away from sunlight works best. For the first week, try to shake it once a day, I find this helps give the best results.
  3. Minimum time for soaking is 2 weeks, this will give a weaker flavor, but still comparable to something in the store. One month is best for a full flavored extract that is slightly stronger than double strength at the store.
  4. At this point you can strain out the vanilla pods in a coarse mesh strainer (you want the seeds to fall through) or you can leave them in there. After about 2 months time, the extract will not get any stronger. At this stage you will have something super flavorful that makes this more than worth your while. As seen in the video it bests VERY dark and wonderful. The smell is something that cannot be described and the taste is nothing like vanilla from a bottle in the super market.
Notes
Some of you might be saying to yourself that making homemade vanilla extract would cost a small fortune, and you very well could be right. If you go to buy vanilla pods in the store they're usually 2 pods for 10 dollars USD, however, I have been using vanilla beans purchased off the Internet for years now with no issues. I purchase mine on eBay from a VERY well known and respected seller,CLICK HERE, please note that I am NOT being paid to advertise these people, I just like their products. I use grade B or extract grade vanilla, planifolia aka Madagascar bourbon beans. You can use grade a but it does not yield any better results, I have tried it. You can also use Tahitian vanilla but they do tend to be more expensive. I always suggest buying a pound of beans, this saves you a lot of money on shipping and the final product. After shipping it only costs about 31 dollars and will last you many years. Over time they dry out and are only good for extract, but I am on 3 years and the beans still produce an amazing flavored extract. Store vanilla in a tight fitting container, like a quart sized wide mouth mason jar away from direct sunlight. If your vanilla gets white mold of them , obviously throw them away or compost them.
 

Lower Fat Vegan Banana Nut Bread

Lower Fat Vegan Banana Nut Bread
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 24 slices (2 loaves)
Ingredients
  • 5 medium bananas, very ripe (Should be almost all brown and squishy)
  • 1 cup unpacked brown sugar (dark is better but light will work)
  • ½ cup regular sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ tablespoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoon ground flax + 8 tablespoons HOT water (mix well and let set 5 minutes)
  • ¼ cup grape-seed oil (you can use olive oil if you prefer)
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (the real stuff only please)
  • ¼ cup nondairy milk mixed with 1 teaspoon white or rice wine vinegar ***(see note)
  • 2½ cups wheat flour (you may need more or less)
  • slightly less than 1 cup nuts, chopped **(see note)
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl add your ground flax seeds and HOT water (I cannot stress how important HOT water is), stir well so there are no lumps and let set aside for about 5 minutes. Also preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 Celsius or gas mark 4).
  2. In a large bowl, combine your bananas, sugar, vanilla, salt, applesauce, baking soda, oil, and nondairy milk. Using your hands (which I did) or a potato masher; mash until the lumps are less than 1 centimeter (1/4 inch) or til desired smoothness. I like to leave tiny lumps so you get bites of banana, but this is up to you.
  3. Check your flax "eggs", if they are snotty in texture and thick; they are ready to go in the bowl. If they are not, let set another couple minutes, then add to large bowl.
  4. Mix in your flax eggs well. Now start to mix in your flour ½ cup at a time using the folding method. I suggest using a flexible spatula for this. Circle your bowl to scrap the sides down, and cut through the middle until your flour disappears and there are no huge pockets of flour in the mixture. Repeat this for 2 cups total of flour. Now look at your mixture, is it thick, kinda snotty and holds together well? If the answer is yes, then stop. If you think it needs a little more then add the remaining ½ cup of flour. If for some reason your bananas were huge and its still too moist, add ½ more flour. There really is no reason to use more than 3 cups. Once your batter looks ready, fold in slightly less than 1 cup of nuts, your choice; make sure they are evenly distributed.
  5. Get two regular sized loaf pans and spray generously with oil or grease well. Failure to do this will result in a bread you can't pry from the pan with a crowbar, you were warned.
  6. Divide the mixture evenly between the two pans and lightly tap on the counter to remove air pockets. Bake at 350 for about 60 - 75 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the middle of the loaf should come out almost clean (like 90%) if you wait for it to be completely clean, the bread will be crumbly and dry. Good with milk, not so much on it's own. Mine took 65 minutes.
  7. At this point you can store them at room temperature (cool completely before putting in a container) or freeze them. My grandma used to wrap her breads in aluminum foil, then plastic wrap. Don't forget to date them. I wouldn't keep them in the freezer more than 3 months for best results. Thaw at room temperature completely before serving.
Notes
* A word on flax seeds. If you are baking for someone with an allergy you can use regular whole large sized eggs. Egg replacement powder isn't that great of an option here and extra bananas will not work either. Sorry =(


** A word on choosing nuts. I used pecans, which is all I had left. Traditional banana nut bread is made with walnuts, however you can mix and match to your taste. Try a combination of both or go for something different all together. You could also use sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds if someone is your family has a tree nut allergy. Better safe than sorry!

*** A word on nondairy milk. In this recipe I used a homemade brown rice milk that was just rice and water with some vanilla, however you may use any type of nondairy milk. Be careful if choosing a strong flavored milk like mung bean or hemp milk. These will alter the flavor of the end dish. Also, coconut milk should be avoided unless you want coconut banana bread. (that does sound good though! 😉
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 slice Calories: 154 Fat: 5 Saturated fat: 1 Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 26 Sugar: 14 Sodium: 105 Fiber: 3 Protein: 2 Cholesterol: 0
 

Vegan Hot Chocolate (Carob)

So today I went to my local cupcake bakery and they had handmade marshmallows so you know I HAD to buy one. They were so freaking awesome, but who just eats marshmallows by themselves? I know I don’t! So I had to make me some hot chocolate (I used carob though) that was equally as tasty as my marshmallow. This recipe makes 1 serving, its about 200 calories (more or less depending on which ingredients you use. Plain nondairy milk will be less). Its naturally gluten free and vegan depending on the ingredients. Of course, you can use regular milk, and cocoa powder. Its just up to you. Feel free to double or triple this recipe!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa or carob powder
1 1/2 tablespoons (or more or less) sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 cup nondairy milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
small pinch salt
Marshmallows (optional)

Directions:

In a saucepan on medium heat add your cocoa powder (or carob), sugar, water, vanilla, and salt. Mix with a whisk until combined and it just starts to bubble. Add in your milk and mix well. Heat until just before boiling and transfer into a glass. Top with optional marshmallows and enjoy!

Alternative prep #1: This can be made in a microwave. Heat up your milk on high (700 watts) in bursts of 30 seconds until hot. Milk in rest of your ingredients and stir until combined. Reheat if necessary, and serve hot. Enjoy!

Alternative prep#2: This can be made in a blender, which will prevent any clumps of powder. You will need to warm up the milk and the water in a suacepan or use a microwave on high (700 watts) using 30 second bursts of heat, stirring after each burst until hot. Add liquid into blender first, then rest of the ingredients, blend on high until combined. This method works best for doubling or tripling this recipe. Enjoy!

PLEASE TAKE NOTE: If you are making this and/or cooking for someone with gluten allergies or celiacs disease. Make sure to purchase ingredients that are certified gluten free, and clean your utensils very well. Better safe than sorry.

Gluten Free Red Velvet Cupcakes – Vegan/Low Fat/ Low Calorie

 

Even though they look brown (which they are, but only because I won’t use food dye) these are indeed red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting- (CLICK HERE for recipe). These are amazing to take to office parties or any event where people might have varied diets. These cupcakes are safe for those with gluten allergies or celiacs disease, vegetarians and vegans, (if  using carob) safe for those allergic to chocolate, low fat, and low calorie (compared to most cupcakes)! Whoa! Not many recipes I know of are so socially friendly, so make a batch and take them to your next office party, but you better save a few at home, you might not get any!

Ingredients:
DRY:
2 1/2 cup all purpose Gluten Free Flour – Click Here for my recipe or use any store brought brand
1 – 2 cups sugar (use more if you want it sweeter, I use 1 cup)
4 1/2 teaspoons egg replacement powder – Click HERE for my recipe or any store bought brand works
3 tablespoons roasted carob powder or cocoa powder (I used carob)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons guar gum

WET:
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup oil
1 cup banana puree (about 2 large bananas) (if you don’t like banana flavor, use applesauce or 1 extra cup oil if you don’t mind the fat calories)
1 cup nondairy milk + 1 tablespoon vinegar – Mix and let set 5 minutes
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoon vinegar
2 tablespoons red food coloring / beet juice or water (If you don’t want artificial colors, just add 2 tablespoons water instead, that’s what I did)
2 – 4* tablespoons water (depending on the flour you use, you might need more, start with 2 tablespoons)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
In a large bowl, mix all of your dry ingredients together, if needed sift them to prevent lumps. Set aside.
In a smaller bowl or a blender (which I did), blend all your wet ingredients. A blender works best to prevent clumps of banana/applesauce. Blend until smooth and reserve until ready to bake cupcakes.

It is important to not mix your dry and wet ingredients together until just before you fill the muffin tins, so get them out and line with paper cups or liberally spray with nonstick spray (make sure its gluten free). When your oven is preheated and you’re all ready, Mix the wet into the dry until the lumps are gone. Fill muffin tin to desired levels: full makes about 14 cupcakes with big muffin tops, 3/4 makes 16-18 with just a little top, 1/2 way makes 20-24 cupcakes with no top.

Bake in the middle rack for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. If you’re going to frost them let cool completely first or frosting will run. For our frosting recipe please click HERE.

PLEASE TAKE NOTE: If you are making this and cooking for someone with gluten allergies or celiacs disease. Make sure to purchase ingredients that are certified gluten free, and clean your utensils very well. Better safe than sorry.

Prep time: about 5 minutes Cook time: Approx 20-25 minutes
Allergies: banana*(optional) , food dye*(optional)
This recipe is safe for those on a gluten free diet, vegan diet, low fat diet, low calorie diet, and if used, chocolate free diet. This is a great recipe to bring to a party, safe for almost everyone!

(Nutritional information assumes you’re using low fat dairy cream cheese and banana instead of oil, variations in recipe will affect calories:)