White-Chocolate and Strawberry Summer Cookies

Although the start of the school year and the fall is 100% my favorite time of the year, I was instantly sad when I realized that there was only a month left of summer vacation. This means only a month left until no more beach volleyball, no more days of simply relaxing, and most of all no more lemony, fruity, or bright-tasting recipes :(. Upon realizing how close the end of the summer was (September 22) I realized that I wanted to take full advantage of this beautiful time of the year. I’m traveling to Scandinavia for two weeks with my family and cannot wait to spent my days hiking and exploring a part of the world that seems so mysterious. We are going to go into viking ships, bike around Copenhagen, hike to a beautiful view of Oslo, go kayaking in Bergen etc. We leave in 2 days and I am becoming INSANELY excited!!! Although it is cooler in Scandinavia than in New York, I know that the two weeks there are going to be the most memorable and (luckily) long (only 7ish hours of darkness a day!) days of my life.

I decided that for the next 6 days and the 2 weeks following our trip, that I am also going to take advantage of summer at home. I plan on having picnics in Central Parks, sitting on my family’s secret rock that juts out over the hudson river to watch the sunset, playing volleyball on the nearby courts, visiting the MOMA, going on walks with friends etc. Most of all, I plan on cooking and baking the summery-ist (yes I make up my own words) recipes of the year. Starting off with the best cookies that Ive ever made doesn’t seem like a bad place to start :)!!!

These summer cookies are the most unique and mouth watering cookies that have ever come out of my oven. You wouldn’t expect cream cheese, white chocolate, and strawberry to go well, but, honestly, they couldn’t have gone better together. ENJOY!

INGREDIANTS

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup unsalted butter-softened

4 oz cream cheese-softened

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup chopped fresh strawberries

2 tablespoon lemon juice

1-2 tablespoon flour

5 oz white chocolate-chopped

sanding sugar

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and line pans with parchment paper.
  2. Pour fresh lemon juice over chopped strawberries, drain them after a few minutes.
  3. Whisk together 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, salt and baking powder and set aside.
  4. Beat butter with sugar and cream cheese until it’s light and fluffy.
  5. Add egg and vanilla and mix well.
  6. Gradually add flour mixture and mix until it’s well combined.
  7. Stir in chopped white chocolate.
  8. Sprinkle strawberries with 1-2 tablespoon flour, toss them until all strawberries are coated with thin layer of flour and then stir them really gently in the batter.
  9. Drop heaping tablespoon of batter onto pan leaving an inch space between.
  10. Set the cookies in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes before baking.
  11. Sprinkle the cookies with sanding sugar if you want, but do not overdo it because they are sweet enough.
  12. Bake for 13-15 minutes( until the edges become golden brown).
  13. Let them cool a few minutes in the pan than transfer them to a wire racks to cool completely.

Love,

Ally

Vegan Summer Corn Soup

Living in such a large and skyscraper-orientated city, I have begun to slowly develop a distorted definition of what it means to be in nature. When I lived in California, being in genuine nature would consist of hiking up to field on a hill, surrounded by bugs and trees, where the closest thing to the rest of the modern world was the cell tower a few hills away. Now, my view of “being in nature” consists of running through the concrete-laden, streetlight-lit riverside park. Here, beautiful buildings tower over you, obstructing the sun from your eyes.
So, I spent the last two weeks in Baltimore at Johns Hopkins, taking a class on laboratory studies (fun fact: we chose a plant from a garden and extracted its DNA and did some more complicated stuff and then sent it in for sequencing— also relates to nature 🙂  ).
After the class ended, I was able to spend a couple of days at a childhood friend’s aunt and uncle’s house in Baltimore. My friend, who lives in California, was spending the summer working in Baltimore at Johns Hopkins hospital and lived with her aunt and uncle. Going to this house completely altered my distorted view of what it meant to live naturally. We spent a couple days canoeing around their mini-lake, going on jogs in their backyard, which also happened to be the woods, and cooking meals with veggies picked directly from their garden. We made a delicious casserole with potatoes and basil that we had picked 30 minutes before cooking. The dish was not only incredible but was the freshest-tasting dish that I had eaten since I moved to New York City.
When I got home I decided that I wanted to try to cook more plant-based and natural recipes. While I can’t build a garden on my roof, I can cook using ingredients that were grown in soil. I found this plant-based recipe soon after getting back and quickly got cooking.
Like the casserole, this dish tasted so fresh and didn’t taste anything close to artificial or creamy. When taking a bite of this dish, it was evident that no ingredient in this dish was created directly from a factory. So delicious and so fresh. ENJOY!
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INGREDIENTS:

2-3 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 large white onion, chopped (about 1 cup)

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 small red potatoes quartered (peeling, optional)

Sea salt and ground black pepper

3 ears corn (or 1.5 cans), kernels sliced off

2 cups low sodium veggie broth

2 cups unsweetened plain almond milk

2-3 green onions, chopped

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, saute olive oil, onion, and garlic and for 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add potato to the pan, season with a little salt and pepper, and cover to steam for 4-5 minutes.
  3. After steaming, add most of the corn, reserving a few tablespoons for garnish, and stir.
  4. Add broth and almond milk, cover, and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to low.
  5. Cook until the potatoes are soft and slide off of a knife when pierced – about 5 minutes.
  6. Add 3/4 of the soup to a blender and blend until creamy and smooth.
  7. Transfer soup back to the saucepan and bring back to a simmer. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Cook for at least 10 minutes to let thicken. The longer it simmers, the more flavorful it will be.
  8. To serve, top with chopped green onion, remaining fresh (or lightly sauteed) corn, and black pepper. Add a sprinkle of paprika for color.

Love,

Ally

 

Recipe from the minimalist baker (my favorite!!)

Gluten-Free Coconut Chia Macaroons

Sorry for the long absence, I decided to take a short break from this blog for the last few months because of my busy schedule. My volleyball practices ended a few weeks ago and, because I used to always cook for my team, I have a variety of recipes waiting to be posted!!! Since practices and tournaments are over and a class that I was taking at John Jay College has ended, I should have a little bit more time to post. Hopefully after finals and the project based assessments/PBAs (my public schools opts out of standardized testing and instead tests knowledge through difficult essays, projects and presentations) I will be able to resume my weekly postings!!

I recently saved up to buy lighting equipment and I am hoping to slowly improve the quality of my foodography over the next months. I’m looking forward to “revamping” my website this summer! Much more to come!!!

I decided to repost these macaroons with a new and improved recipe and photos. This recipe is extremely simple, perfect for a snack on a cool spring day, and absolutely delicious. A lot of sweet desserts can often have an artificial and non-natural taste to them. I love how these macaroons lacks all of those qualities and always seem to taste natural and delicious. Definitely a healthier (and gluten free) alternative to cookies!!

ENJOY!

 

 

 

INGREDIANTS:

1/2 cup softened butter

1 cup sugar

4 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3/4 cup sifted coconut flour (Specifically Trader joe’s)

2 cups Shredded Sweetened Coconut

1 tablespoon of Chia Seeds

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Lightly grease a baking sheet
  2. Lightly blend the butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla together. Stir in the coconut flour, shredded coconut and the chia seeds.
  3. The mixture shouldn’t be wet, like a batter. If the mixture is not dry, add additional flour.
  4. Drop tablespoon sized scoops (using a tablespoon or a cookie scoop) onto the baking sheet. The macaroons don’t expand, so don’t worry about placing them close together.
  5. Bake for 12-15 Minutes or until golden brown. The coconut flakes protruding from the macaroons will be significantly darker (see image above). Immediately transfer to a cooling rack and let sit until cool.

Love,

Ally!!

S’more Bars

Oddly enough, when asking my volleyball team for ideas about what to bake, the first thing mentioned was “S’more Cookies”. Not being a lover of marshmallows and never having had a s’more cookie or brownie, I immediatly dismissed the idea in my mind. On the way home from practice, in a cab with a couple girls on my team, I look up recipes for S’mores cookies. Nothing too interesting came up, but the pictures I saw look sooooo good. So I decided that I would make up a recipe for S’mores cookies on my own. After a little deliberation, I decided that S’mores brownies would probably work better. I looked up a recipe for S’mores bars and came across a recipe that looked delicious. I loosely followed this recipe, adding and subtracting a bunch of ingredients I brought these bars on Sunday and my team LOVED them. My coach ever said that he was willing to buy me the ingredients if I would make them for him again. Its like a campfire, smokey, chocolatey s’more, but even tastier. These are definitely my new go-to bar recipe. Enjoy!

Ingredients

1cup butter, softened

3cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1cups flour

3cup graham cracker crumbs

1 teaspoon baking powder

1teaspoon salt

16 oz milk chocolate chocolate chips (of 4 large hershey bars)

3 cups miniature marshmallows

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350ºF. Grease an 8 inch square baking pan.
  2. Beat butter and sugar together until well blended in a large bowl. Add egg and vanilla; beat well.
  3. In another bowl stir together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, and salt. Add to butter mixture, beating until blended.
  4. Press half the dough into the prepared pan. Bake 15 minutes.
  5. Spread the chocolate chips over the baked layer. Sprinkle with marshmallows. Scatter remaining dough over the marshmallows, forming a top layer.
  6. Bake 10- 15 minutes or until just lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting.

Love,

Ally

 

 

http://www.food.com/recipe/smores-bars-169114#activity-feed

Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallow

So it seems like the cooking-debate of the year is the difference between sweet potatoes and yams. Is this dish called Sweet Potatoes and Marshmallow or Yams and Marshmallow? According to my husband, Google, the yams you see in Grocery stores are usually not TRUE yams, which are native to Asia and Africa and are found in international markets or abroad. The yams in grocery stores are simply a firmer form of the regular sweet potato, with extremely subtle differences in the flavors. Interesting, right?

I’m not exactly sure what to say about this dish except for that it was by far the best dish of the Thanksgiving holiday. Everyone at my Thanksgiving meal got second helpings of the dish and at one point told me how delicious it was. I know many people are impartial to the idea of marshmallows over sweet potatoes, but this dish was absolutely incredible. While it is very sweet, every single ingredient works to perfectly combine the flavors of the central ingrediants.

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INGREDIENTS

4 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams), peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces

2/3 cup packed golden brown sugar

5 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Pinch of ground ginger

3 cups miniature marshmallows

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Arrange potatoes in 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Combine sugar, butter, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and ginger in heavy small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.
  2. Pour over potatoes; toss to coat. Cover dish tightly with foil.
  3. Bake potatoes 50 minutes. Uncover; bake until potatoes are tender and syrup thickens slightly, basting occasionally, about 20 minutes.
  4. Increase oven temperature to 500°F. Top potatoes with marshmallows and nuts. Return to oven; bake until marshmallows begin to melt and nuts begin to brown. (about 3 minutes).

Love,

Ally

My 16th, Gluten-Free Vanilla Birthday Cake!!

So, October 25th was my 16th birthday and I decided that this year that I didn’t want to go out of my way to celebrate. I had a bat-mitzvah a few years ago, and I think that was big enough of a party. But, I did end up having a really really unique day. I had a volleyball game at my school (which we won of course) and afterwards my dad brought doughnuts from down the street. My team and I all sat around and hung out for a little while. I was able to get my massive amounts of homework done ahead of time, so I just had a fun, relaxing night.

After the volleyball game, my dad and I took the train to 84th and Amsterdam, where we ate at an incredible restaurant called Jacob’s Pickles. We ordered fried artichokes as a starter and they were amazing. I decided to order a warm and perfectly seasoned salmon salad for dinner, while my dad ate a chicken sandwich. Obviously, being a big foodie, I couldn’t have been happier to try such perfectly cooked and savory foods.

On the way home from the resturant, we stopped at the Ben and Jerry’s across from our apartment on 103rd and Broadway to buy my beloved ice cream cake, but soon realized that all the cakes ‘may contain nuts’. So we walked up to 107th and bought a java chip and dulce de leche cake that made my love for ice cream cakes only grow. After eating cake and opening presents, I ended my day by watching an episode of House MD.

🙂

The following weekend, on the 29th, my family threw a little party with some family friends, and I couldn’t wait to make my halloween themed birthday cake. I decided that I wanted to try just making a simple white cake with a sweet and flavorful lemon, cream cheese, buttercream frosting. The cake turned out perfect, both internally, eternally and flavorfully. I hope you enjoy!!!

**I added a bunch of sprinkles into the batter before putting the batter onto the prepared pans. It comes out really cute and I would definitely reccomend it for a fun cake.

INGREDIENTS

2 cups  all purpose gluten free flour blend

1 teaspoon xanthan gum (unless your blend already contains it)

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

4 egg whites + 1 whole egg , at room temperature

1 1/3 cups (10 2/3 fluid ounces) buttermilk, at room temperature

*To halve the recipe, use 3 egg whites (75 g) in place of the 4 egg whites and 1 whole egg.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease 2 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each with a round of parchment paper (trace the perimeter of the cake pan on the parchment, then cut out the circle). Set the pans aside.

  2. Into a medium-size bowl, sift the flour, xanthan gum, cornstarch, baking soda and baking powder. Add the salt, and whisk to combine well. Set dry ingredients aside.

  3.  In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for at least 3 minutes, stopping at least once to scrape the entire mixture off the sides and bottom of the bowl. The mixture should be very light and fluffy.

  4. Separately, whisk together the egg whites, egg and buttermilk in a small bowl.

  5. Alternate adding the the dry ingredients with the buttermilk and egg mixture in 4 different parts, starting and ending with the dry. The batter may appear curdled at times.

  6. Once all of the ingredients have been added, scrape the sides of the bowl and beat for another minute on medium speed to ensure that everything is combined. Then turn over the batter a few times by hand. It should be very thickly pourable and relatively smooth.

  7. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared baking pans and smooth each into an even layer with an offset spatula. To remove air bubbles, bang each pan on the counter a few times.

  8. Place the baking pans in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes rotate the pans, and continue to bake until the cakes are lightly golden brown all over, and have began to pull away from the sides. This will be around another 10 minutes, baking for a total of about 30.

  9. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for 15 minutes before turning out upside down onto a wire rack (and removing the parchment paper liners). Cool completely before frosting and serving.
  10. Here is the lemon, cream cheese buttercream frosting recipe. I will post my modified version at another time.(http://allrecipes.com/recipe/7556/lemon-cream-cheese-frosting/)

Love,

Ally

Lemon Cupcakes with Blackberry Frosting

                   Taking a small step away from fall-themed baking, I decided ago to try making this cupcake recipe that I have seen on allrecipes for sooooo long. It was on my to-bake list all summer long, but I just never got around to making it before fall began. Last week, we had a ton of extra lemons laying around, and was in the mood to make a unique recipe. These lemon and blackberry cupcakes seemed to fit my needs perfectly.

                I was planning on selling the cupcakes at a bake sale that my volleyball team was holding on Thursday, but unfortunately Wednesday was Yom Kippur. The only thing harder than fasting, is fasting while baking. I decided to see if I could push through it, and bake anyway. Although it was really difficult, I finished the cupcakes without having taken a single bite!  After I broke the fast, and tried a cupcake, I decided that it was definitely worth it. Somehow the subtle sweetness of the blackberry blends perfectly with the lemon cupcake. The people at the bake sale were going on about the cupcakes, they were sold in minutes. I would 1000% recommend this recipe for anyone who wants a unique cupcake that everyone will love. Enjoy!

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Ingredients

1 cup white sugar

1/2 cup butter

2 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup low-fat milk

1 lemon, juice and zest

1 cup butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup seedless blackberry jam

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
  3. Cream sugar and 1/2 cup butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and mix 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract into mixture with the second egg.
  4. Beat in flour and baking powder until thoroughly combined; beat in milk, lemon juice, and lemon zest to make a smooth batter.
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven until cupcake edges are slightly golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool cupcakes completely.
  7. Beat 1 cup butter with 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and salt until smooth and creamy. Beat in confectioners’ sugar, 1 cup at a time, to make a creamy frosting. Beat in blackberry jam. Spread frosting on cooled cupcakes.

Love,

Ally

 

(http://allrecipes.com/recipe/220884/lemon-cupcake-with-blackberry-buttercream/)

Lemon Cookies with Lemon Icing

There is much to say about these except for they are the best tasting things that I probably have ever made. The smell alone is so satisfying and I can’t begin to describe how they taste. I gave me brother a cookie and he immediately asked me about 10 times for a second and later third one. The lemon flavor is unimaginable and I would recommend making this 100000 times over. If you are sick of baking the typical chocolate chip, sugar or snickerdoodle cookie, this is the perfect new recipe for you to try. Also an amazing way to impress your family and friends with your baking skills over the summer. ENJOY!

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INGREDIENTS

1 cup butter, softened

1½ cups sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 Tablespoon Lemon zest

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking powder

2¼ cups flour

Lemon Glaze

1½ cup powdered sugar

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

1 Tablespoon lemon zest

1 Tablespoon milk

¼ teaspoon vanilla

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together.
  3. Add lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla and mix until well blended.
  4. Add salt, baking powder and flour and mix until well incorporated.
  5. Roll cookies into 1 inch balls and place on greased cookie sheet. Space cookie dough balls about 2 inches apart from each other.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes or until lightly golden on the edges of cookies.
  7. Combine glaze ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth glaze is formed. Drizzle as much as desired over slightly warmed cookies and let finish cooling completely before eating.