Death by Chocolate

This past weekend we celebrated D’s and his mom’s birthday.  Celebrations started on Friday and ended on Sunday, visiting with all sides of the family.  I think he had a nice time.  I asked him what he wanted to do and we did it.  When I asked him what he wanted to do on his actual birthday, he told me he wanted me to make Italian Beef (simple) and maybe a dessert or something that Mini Me could also have.  After all, we don’t need a crazy 3 year old to be going on a jealous rage that she can’t eat cake when we are enjoying it.  So, Thursday night came, and Mini Me and I started making a cake.  She absolutely LOVES to help me in the kitchen.  Loves to help measure things, mix things, and just be with me.  I am flattered by it.  And because I was making a Vegan/Allergy Friendly cake, she got to taste every ingredient along the way.  I may have, too.

She's a great helper!

We first made the cake.  While it was baking, we moved onto the mousse, and then the ganache.  Once the cake was cooled completely, I spread the mousse between the two layers of cake, and added a thick layer to just the top of the cake. I let that set overnight in the fridge (in this awesome Wilton Cake Caddy) while the ganache also set.  Before the birthday boy got home from work, I spread the ganache evenly on the top of the cake and the sides with a large icing spatula (like this one), and put it back in the fridge until it was time to serve.  Please remember, if you do make this cake, that it needs to be refrigerated for the mousse and the ganache.  Don’t worry, it won’t dry the cake out, I PROMISE!

Let me tell you… This cake is ABSOLUTELY amazing, and you would have NO idea that it was vegan.  None.  I wanted to eat the whole thing.  I likely had too much of it over the weekend… Just sayin’.  I might as well own up to my indulgence.  It was totally worth it, though!

Kate’s Triple Chocolate Cake

100% Vegan!

Vegan Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour (all-purpose)
  • 6 Tbsp. cocoa (unsweetened)
  • 1 cup Truvia Baking Blend (or 2 Cups Sugar)
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. white vinegar
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 cups water

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Prepare cake pans (I used these 8″ round aluminum cake pans from Wilton, and the Wilton Bake Even Strips which help the cake be more consistently level as it bakes)
  3. Mix all dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl
  4. Make “wells” for vinegar, vanilla, and coconut oil and pour each into a “well” (one should be big enough to hold coconut oil)
  5. Pour water over the top
  6. Mix with hand mixer until smooth
  7. Divide batter evenly into prepare cake pans
  8. Bake on center rack for 32-38 minutes, testing with a toothpick to be sure cake is done
  9. Remove and let cool on cooling racks for 5 minutes before removing cakes from pans to cool completely

Dark Chocolate Avocado Mousse

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe Haas avocados
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 6 Tbsp. cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 3 Tbsp. almond or cashew milk (I used chocolate cashew milk)

Directions:

  1. Put all ingredients into a blender (I used my single serving Ninja cup) or food processor and blend until smooth.

(Seriously, its that easy!)

Vegan Salted Milk Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag dairy free chocolate chips (I like Enjoy Life or Chocolate Dream)
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 2 tsp sea salt

Directions:

  1. With a double boiler or a sauce pot with water topped with a glass mixing bowl, melt and combine all ingredients together until smooth.  I whisked along the way with a small whisk to be sure that it was completely smooth.
  2. Let set for at least 3 hours in the fridge before using as an icing.

(This also makes a great dip for fruit while warm!)

Enjoy this super fudgey cake!  It is my favorite cake I’ve actually ever had – saying a lot considering where I work!

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Make-do Allergy-Free Banana Bread

Woke up this morning to a bright sunny day.  What a great day!  I’ll get some errands done and enjoy some sunshine.  Then I really woke up.  The temperature is dangerously cold here in Chicago, yet again.  High of 10 degrees, although we will be lucky if it hits that.  I decided that we are not going anywhere!  Last week I declared it to be a make-do week, only picking up essentials that we were out of.  That make-do week is going to continue thru this week.  I do need to spend a few dollars and pick up some essentials (sea salt, pan spray, flour, one kind of protein/meat, and of course spinach) to be able to make it thru the week.  We have been clearing out the fridge and freezer, though.  It has allowed me to be more creative!  For instance, this morning I mixed some leftover couscous into a few eggs and made a yummy omelette with chopped chicken and cheese.  Healthy carbs, and lots of protein!  Just wish I had more spinach to add in there, as well…

Because it is make-do week, and I have half a freezer full of bananas (they get brown, I toss them in the freezer for baking or smoothies) I decided to make Mini Me some banana bread.  I adapted this recipe from SimplyRecipes.com.  When I say adapted, I had to sub most of the ingredients because of allergies, nutrition, or I didn’t have what they called for.  I guess you could say, it is highly adapted.

Allergy-Free Banana Bread

Vegan Banana Bread

Ingredients

Ingredients

3 very ripe bananas, peeled
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
¼ cup truvia baking blend
1 gelatin egg (see directions here)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
½ cup wheat flour
½ cup cup oat flour

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°, and either line a medium loaf pan with parchment or spray with baking spray.

In a mixing bowl, mash the ripe bananas with a fork until smooth. Stir the applesauce into the mashed bananas.

Mix in the baking soda and salt. Stir in the Truvia, gelatin egg, and vanilla extract. Mix in the oat and all purpose flours.

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Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes (check at 50 minutes) at 350°, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

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Remove from oven and cool completely on a rack. Remove the banana bread from the pan. Slice and serve. (A bread knife helps to make slices that aren’t crumbly.)

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If you want to double the recipe like I did, you can bake in a fluted tube pan for an 1hr 10 min

Not only does this recipe come out very tasty, it is also reasonably healthy!!  Very low sugar, lots of fruits.  One loaf makes 10-11 servings, one fluted shaped cake makes 20-22 servings.

Nutritional information (22 servings):  89 cal/0g fat/19g carbs/3g protein

Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

Come on let’s go and play…  Don’t judge… I’m a mom of a three year old.  I know that movie word by word, gesture for gesture, note for note.  Sigh.  weather reportIt is pretty fitting for the weekend we are having here in Chicago.  It started snowing last night (rain into snow), and we woke up to about 6 inches of snow on the ground at 6:30 this morning.  As of this moment (1pm) we have about a foot of snow, and its still coming down.  Winds are expected to pick up later today and blizzard conditions will be beginning.  Guess we aren’t going anywhere for the Super Bowl.

I had planned on getting up and getting some lifting done down in my ladycave (roar – home gym), but decided to make my workout more fun.  My workout today consisted of shoveling the long sidewalk in the front of the house, along with about half the driveway, and the piles the plows left on the end of the driveway (of course they came around RIGHT as I was finishing the driveway so I had to do it twice…).  Doesn’t sound like a lot, but 10″ heavy snow… Woo – workout!!!  Wore my HRM to track my burn (more so because I was curious than concerned)… 521 calories burned in 74 minutes.  I’ll take it for round 1.  I got some playtime in there, too.  Meanwhile, D and Mini Me built the biggest snowman on the block, and with the donation from a sweet little girl down the block, we were able to give him a face and a tophat.  So sweet.

Who wouldn't sunbathe in this weather?  Note:  Chair is resting on top of the snow...

Biggest snowman on the block!!       Yeah!!!  Snow!!!

As disappointed as I am that we won’t be going anywhere tonight for the Super Bowl (gotta keep the family safe), it won’t stop me from preparing a snack or two for the big game!  During my brief stint with the Whole30, I was able to refocus some of my unhealthy eating habits, and make conscious decisions to snack smarter when I feel I “need” or just want a nibble of a snack.  I have been eying baked coconut chips for a few years now, and decided to order  a giant bag of coconut flakes from Amazon (found here), and planned on making good use of them.  I am a total sucker for the sweet and salty flavor combinations, so wanted to really nail that down.  And I did!  Total winner, and a super filling snack!

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Sweet and Salty Cinnamon Coconut Chips

Ingredients

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  • 3 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1.5T coconut oil, melted
  • 2.5T honey
  • 2.5t cinnamon
  • 2.5t sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Put coconut flakes in medium sized bowl. IMG_8064
  3. Whisk together melted coconut oil and honey; pour over coconut flakes.IMG_8063
  4. Pour cinnamon and sea salt over flakes and stir to combine all ingredients.          IMG_8061
  5. Pour flakes on a (preferably parchment lined) cookie sheet.  I love my gigantic cookie sheet – it’s sized for the shelf of my oven (found here).  IMG_8060
  6. Put flakes in the oven and STAY CLOSE!  Flakes will be done in about 6 minutes, and will continue to crisp when they are out of the oven.  I made the mistake of putting them in a little too long (don’t worry, I altered the timing here for you)… Whoops.

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Once cooled, enjoy!!!

What a Whirlwind!

Wow…. This week has been a whirlwind!

Monday I was dress shopping with my mom and Mini Me for my brother’s wedding.  Luck for both of them!  They will look great!  Not so much luck for me…. I just couldn’t find anything that jumped out at me.  Luckily, I still have time.  Looking forward to seeing my older brother marry the woman of his dreams!!

Tuesday it was back to work… But just for a few hours… Got the call to pick up Mini.  Pink eye… Poor girl had a swollen face like no other.

Wednesday it was back to work again (thanks D for staying home with her)…. SWAMPED!!

And today… I has a case of the feels.  Sigh.  I’m sure at some point everyone just feels down for no reason.  I’ve been in a funk lately.  The only thing I can attribute it to is lack of sun.  Time to start taking my Vitamin D again!

The one thing that I have been able to do this week, mainly because it is soooo simple to do, is make bread.  With Mini’s allergies, finding store-bought baked goods is always a bit difficult… And to be honest… I would SOOO much rather feed her and D something I make myself with whole and natural ingredients.  Enter Honey Wheat Bread.

Seriously, this recipe is beyond easy, nutritious, and delicious!

I slightly modified this recipe I found on allrecipes.com.

Honey Wheat Bread (for bread machine)

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Ingredients:

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  • 1 1/8 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cups bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (melted or solid, either way works!)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Directions:

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Add ingredients according to the manufacturer’s directions to your bread machine. Use the wheat bread cycle and light color setting.

Let cool slightly and enjoy immediately, or cool completely and slice into pieces for sandwiches or toast.  Yum!