The Tiniest Flower (& The Sweetest Beet 2.0)

I’ve been wanting to sit down and write this post for a long time. The only hurdle was that I simply didn’t know where to begin. I’ve had an amazing summer of introspection and have been so excited to translate that into a new chapter of my blog, but I just couldn’t find the right way to do it. I want The Sweetest Beet to become a space where I share my discovery of self care and love, the new recipes that I’ve been obsessing over, and all of the inspirational people that I’ve been following, reading about and listening to along the way. It’s not an easy path, not for me, and not for anyone. But what makes it one hundred times easier, and actually enjoyable, is when we can all just talk about these things out in the open (and, worst case, we make some killer avocado brownies along the way).

So I was looking for something to kickstart this post and then my little cactus flower bloomed. Soft and yellow and open, perched upon a rather sad branch of one of my small potted cactus plants. I’d been monitoring the bud for about six weeks and had kind of given up on it actually blooming. I figured it would probably just hang for a while longer and then fall off at some point. But last Friday, after coming home from spin class, there it was, the bud had burst open to reveal a fresh and buttery flower. I’m still not completely sure what happened inside me (I’m really not a crier at all) but I just started crying. Again, not a crier (did I say that yet?), but it clicked with me, that highly anticipated and very unlikely blooming, just at the right moment to represent all of the learning and growth that I have worked on through this summer. So, to that bright little bloom, hanging so low on its branch that it nearly grazes the window sill, thank you for your motivation, you have no idea what an impact you had on me.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve found a new feeling of peace and happiness with myself, something that has never come easily to me. The decisions that I now make and the motivators behind how I live my life are now fueled by love. The fear that once took its place is receding. I’m finally starting to treat my body and mind like I would that of a close friend or family member. After all, when your friend’s feeling down, you don’t confirm her negativity or laugh as she tries on her (possibly) too tight jeans. Of course not. Instead, you rebalance her with that song you both know all the words to and find those high waisted pants that make her feel (and look) like a rockstar.

With all that said, I’m so excited to begin sharing again on this platform, even more honestly than I have before. I’m endlessly inspired by and grateful for close friends, family, and bloggers throughout the country who have shared their wellness journeys with me, and I can't wait to add my little piece! In the meantime, I’m also super into Instagram stories lately, so chances are there’s a matcha or some sort of grain bowl documented there at any given moment. 

Thank you for reading and listening, it means so so much to me to share this. You guys are all rockstars, talk to you soon. xx

Springy Things

Hello my loves! And happy spring! We made it, can you believe it? We’ve found that fabulous sweet spot of weather that can only be summed up by one word: joy (hi rach). “How’s your week going”, “Oh, pretty good, I’m warm, I’m thriving, feeling joy”— in case you’re wondering what 99% of my conversations have looked like in the past 7 days.

Normally with this kind of post I’d say something like, hey, it’s been a while, life is crazy, blah, blah, blah… But that’s kinda tired. So! I’m trying something new today, and I’m just gonna jump right in instead of apologizing because life’s too short and I have exciting things to talk about and share and because your life is busy too and you don’t need to hear me whine. Okay. Let’s go. I did a post like this a little bit ago and kinda had a lot of fun with it, so we’re just gonna talk about some cool things that I'm into right now, some food, some not, some big, some small, let’s just see where this takes us.

First, because if you follow me on social media it was kinda obvious a few weeks ago (shoutout to the seven insta posts in four days, I’m annoyed at myself, too) I went to Hong Kong!! And you might think, hmm, for only four days? That seems a tad aggressive? And to that, I’d say: yes, it absolutely is. Not sure if there exists a more aggressive time line for one to go to Asia (aka: as far as humanly possible one could get from New York). But! I did it, and it was amazing. 

As part of an international business class at NYU Stern, all juniors are sent abroad to a location of their choosing (Hong Kong, Lisbon or Santiago). This trip is one of those infamous things sold to you from the minute you step first on campus for your first tour. And, let me tell you, even after two 27 hour days of travel, it lived up to all of the hype.

I toured traditional gardens filled with gorgeous architecture, did tai chi and kung fu with the cutest father-daughter duo and gazed upon the extremely vertical cityscape (the apartment buildings defy gravity and physics in an impressively daring manner). And that was just day one. For the rest of my days, I attended a horse race under the lights, got stranded in the city center (yay chips for dinner!), toured and played in the amazing Ocean Park (adults taking a day to hang at a theme park should 1000% be a thing) and made the most of jet lag by staying out most hours of the night. I think I ~maybe~ slept a cumulative 20 hours within the week, but who needs sleep amirite?? Ok, well, the answer is me. Absolutely me.

And you might think, well, aren’t you kinda obsessed with food? What about eating? Two words. Dim. Sum. Oof, guys. If living off of steamed buns was a thing, I’d be first in line. Some faves from the week were red bean dumplings (wowowowow), pork soup dumplings (I finally tried them!) and egg puffs/waffles (a Hong Kong specialty that I’m kinda having withdrawals from) filled with purple sweet potato, red bean and matcha. Basically, it was a week of the dreamiest carbs and the most delicious red bean in any form that I could get my hands on. Not too shabby.

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To wrap up, Hong Kong was amazing and I’m so unbelievably grateful to have had the opportunity to enjoy such a beautiful city with some of the most amazing people (hi friends, wouldn’t have made it through without you). 

Next, let’s talk fitness/boxing/my new obsession. Fitness and I have had an interesting journey. Without going too far into it, for much of my life, working out has felt more like a trap, one that I had to endure to feel OK with myself, or to justify eating that extra handful of Wheat Thins. And, similar to my vegan journey (here), I started to trick myself into thinking that I liked it, that working out intensely for an hour and half, six times a week, was something that I liked doing. And I was exhausted mentally, even more than physically. As I’ve broken away from this mindset, it’s left room for me to explore what I ~actually~ enjoy and it has been liberating. And, as of a few weeks ago, extremely successful because I have fallen in love with boxing. 

Being a broke college student, I’d, forgotten how much I love a good workout class. I’d also always wanted to box, but just never got myself to an actual class. I’ve now tried three gyms and don’t find it acceptable for a weekend to pass if there’s not an hour of boxing somewhere in the mix. First, it’s an unreal workout. I’ve never sweat more in my life (tmi? probably but hey). For a visual, after taking a class yesterday morning, I am now extremely horizontal typing this in my bed, every muscle in my arms reminding me of the uppercuts of 24 hours ago. It’s real, guys. Second, and possibly what I love most, is the mental aspect. The release of focusing so intensely on a workout and yea, getting to hit something, is unbelievable. You think of nothing but nailing the combos and finishing the endless amount of burpees for 60 whole minutes and it’s freeing, something I’d never found in other workout settings. And, I mean, punching something is also kinda fun... 

So far I’ve tried Work Train Fight, Shadowbox and Rumble (absolutely my fav) and have a long list to try. They all have great first time rates so take an hour, punch a bag and sweat a little (OK, maybe a ~lot~). It’s unbelievably worth it. Promise.

One more shift: clothing. Spring is here which means new super white Stans (city winter did not treat my old ones that kindly), a few button-downs and the star of the show: Levi’s Wedgie Jeans. Though the name invokes the opposite reaction, these jeans are amazing and impossibly comfy (peep the jeans in my HK pic). And this is coming from someone who is aggressively pro-legging. But these jeans… They’re a game changer. Super high rise to highlight your cutie waist, they tuck the slightly soft bits (we all have ‘em) and have a slightly cropped length (aka generously cropped for those of us with a high ratio of limb to torso) that's funky and fun, because that’s what all clothes should be?? The distress on the cuff is cool and edgy paired with the toughness of the thick denim and sturdy button closures. And, because this is the real winner, the pockets are REAL pockets. Not sure when or why the whole let’s-never-give-women-pockets thing started, but wow I am over it. Levi’s rights this tragic injustice and gives you four, real, grown up person pockets. So go and get yourself a pair and feel magically hipper, I promise.

This was a tiny bit more writing than I intended, I hope I kept you along for the ride. I know recipes aren’t really my thing at the moment, they might come back, but right now I really want to use The Sweetest Beet as just a fun, creative, random, joyful space because that’s kind of the whole point. So thanks for entertaining me with this (and letting me rant about pockets and use the word cozy more than is probably appropriate). You guys rock. Not going to promise that another post will be coming soon, but another post will be coming, just might take me a little while… Until then, may your travels be safe, your shoulders be toned and your clothes full of pockets. You deserve it. xx

Cozy Hazelnut Scones

With the risk of sound liking a broken record: it's fall. It’s finally upon us, the official season of everything cinnamon-spiked, orangey red tinted and quite simply, infinitely ~cozy~. Too-big sweaters that protect you from the crisp breeze, steaming mugs of something delicious that seep warmth into your fingertips and boots that remind you of the season with the friendly crunch of leaves. 

The underlying greatness of this season? Coziness: an appreciated but seriously under acknowledged commodity that’s gonna get take center stage today. It all starts from the writing of this post. As I type, tucked in the corner of a dimly lit coffee shop, soft Norah Jones notes accompany my keyboard clicks, a fuzzy sweater’s too-long sleeves just cover my palms and a steaming latte begs me to take a quick writing break for a sip. Don’t mean to brag, but I’m pretty good at this whole coziness thing. 

Anyway, now that I’ve set the tone (perhaps a bit aggressively?? Sorry loves, bear with me) I have a recipe that embodies this mindset. Soft and crumbly pastry? Check. Toasty Hazelnuts? Check. Coziness? Heck yes. 

These scones also happen to be vegan, so bonus for animal-free pastry-lovers out there. I gotchu. This recipe is, like most recipes on my site, ridiculously simple to take from start to finish. These just require that bit of temperature awareness (chilled fat) to make sure that they achieve maximum crumbly-deliciousness. 

Toasty and golden, they can be served warm on their own. Or, you can upgrade and make a lovely little glaze out of powdered sugar and a splash of strong coffee and drizzle away. These are best served straight from the oven or reheated later with maybe a dollop of ice cream?? (idk, just guessing on that one) 

So, here’s to warm scones, here’s to fall and here’s to coziness. 

 

Toasty Hazelnut Espresso Scones (recipe adapted from here)

 

0.5 cup unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice)

0.75 cup strong brewed coffee (hazelnut, if you’re feelin’ extra fancy)

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 0.33 cup Earth Balance sticks (or butter if not vegan)

3 tablespoons sugar

1.25 cups whole wheat flour

0.75 cup all purpose flour

2 tablespoons baking powder

0.25 teaspoon salt

1 cup finely ground hazelnuts

0.5 teaspoon ground nutmeg

0.5 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted

 

Optional coffee glaze: 

Powdered sugar

Strongly brewed coffee

 

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside. 

2. Combine almond milk, apple cider vinegar, coffee and vanilla extract. Set aside. 

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together Earth Balance and sugar. Set aside in the fridge.

4. In another bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder and salt. Mix in ground hazelnuts and nutmeg. 

5. Working quickly, add Earth Balance mixture and combine with hands until mixture JUST resembles coarse crumbs. The less you handle the dough, the cooler it stays and the less the gluten will form, resulting in a flakier and more delicate pastry.

6. Add coffee mixture and mix until just combined. Fold in toasted hazelnuts. Dough should be dry and a bit clumpy.

7. Portion dough into quarter cup amounts and place on prepared baking sheet. Press down slightly. Sprinkle with a bit more sugar, if you'd like.

8. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until golden brown around the bottom and the top is firm.

9. While they bake, make glaze by combining enough powdered sugar and coffee so that it's drippy, but thick enough that it doesn't just flood the scones.

10. Let cool slightly before removing from baking sheet. Serve warm, or let cool a bit more and drizzle glaze on top.

 

Have a scone, crunch ~all~ the leaves and let’s raise a hot mug of cider to the beginning of fall.

(And also follow on insta and facebook in case ya want more food in your life)

xx

Some Happy Things

Hellooo! Happy September and beginning to fall. A warm welcome to a month that I hope brings lots of cinnamon flavored things, cozy sweaters and over-the-knee boots and a joyful goodbye to shorts (I hate them without real reason, but unless you’re soft shorts? Get out) and this weather that makes sitting in a sauna sound cool and refreshing. For me, it’s been a summer of transition, a summer of new things, full of many highs and some lows. But now, as everything settles, I’m beginning to see a calm autumn ahead of me.

Tucked in my cozy apartment, with the first rain in what feels like 10 years dripping down my window, I can’t help but feel highly optimistic and excited for the coming months. In this mindset, I’d like to share a few things that have been making me feel extra happy lately. Some new discoveries, and some old, that I feel deserve to be shared. So, keeping in the theme of trying new things on my blog, let’s get to the list. 

First, I’ve been re-exploring the world of Harry Potter. Beginning from the first page of the first book, I’m working my way through (probably) the most incredible book series written. As someone who grew up with these books, I cruised through them at the ages of 11, 12, 13…. loving the story, but for sure missing pieces that my now 20-year-old self is captivated by. The characters are seriously funny, the dialogue witty and the storyline so immensely intricate (with no inconsistencies may I point out) that it makes you wonder how one woman could simply put pen to paper and create it. Once I finish a book? Straight to the movie. And yes, I am that viewer talking the entire time, noting differences from book to movie (I’m super fun). 

Next, I got a new planner, guys, and it’s really, really pretty. It's linked if ya want to check it out. It has monthly, weekly, daily, the whole deal. Plus, it has easy to access tabs that bring you to each month. It also comes with options for cute illustrated covers, basically the OCD dream.

Sriracha. Yes, I know I’m about 50 years late to this party, but it’s a really fun and delicious party and I’m formally sending you an invite now in case you were late to the game like I was. I’ve had a history of being quite the wimp when it comes to spicy foods but, like training myself to like bananas and avocados (still a work in progress, guac is the only suitable form currently), I’m working on the spicy stuff, Sriracha as the gateway. Saying that I put it on everything would be quite the understatement. I find that it’s perfect on rice and veggies bowls with a dash of VT maple syrup and a bit of tamari. Delicious. 

Madewell culottes: making me feel 10 times classier with each wear. I swear, there’s something about these pants, maybe it’s the flowy-ness (a word that definitely needs to be a thing) or the fact that it’s not black like every other item of clothing I wear, but putting these on is a guaranteed self esteem boost. Comfy, professional and they hit you in all the right places. I’ve found that they look especially polished with a pair of heels and a black crop top (I told you all my clothes were black). 

Two words: chickpea blondies. Two more words: Pure Genius. Yup. Not a typo. Made with 40% chickpeas, Pure Genius is cranking out some of the most delicious vegan and gluten free treats I’ve tried. Another perk? They’re not overly sweet like some vegan treats are. They make both brownies and blondies, and both are delicious but I will say I'm partial to the blondies (those chocolate chunks tho).

BBG workouts! Ok, this isn’t super new, I technically got the workouts a year ago, but this is the first time that I’m really ~doing~ it. I haven’t been following the 3-workouts-a-week schedule, but doing it when I can, mostly about 4 times a week. The workouts are HARD. No one who’s done them will argue that I promise. But they’re quick and my god are they effective. Kayla Itsines, the creator of the program (and I’m pretty sure, some kind of fitness goddess), documents the incredible before and after shots from other women in the BBG community on her Instagram along with inspirational quotes and lots of shots of her cute puppies. I’d also recommend taking a glance at her food guides. Like the workouts, they’re very straight forward and easy to follow, allowing you to eat your fav foods all in a balance, not restricting aggressively or glorifying starving yourself to reach your fitness goals.

So, there you have it, a few little highlights that I wanted to share that are adding smiles to my life right now. With that, here’s to a new season, a new semester and a new month. I’ve got a good feeling about this one.

A Few Food Thoughts

Hi friends. Hope everyone’s summer’s have been filled with ~all~ the blended drinks, a few dashes of sand and just enough tan (who are we kidding, sunburn) to prove that you didn't spend your whole summer in an office. 

It’s been a while since I posted again *sigh* and I really didn't mean for it to happen. Life’s been crazy. I've been adjusting from the abroad life (Florence, you will be forever missed, carbs just don't seem right without you), soaking in some Vermont summer, settling into a job at the amazing Tasting Table and dealing with plenty of apartment drama (working toilets are seriously underrated) and excitement scattered throughout.

Today’s post is going to be a little different. A little like the announcement I posted last fall (thanks for listening to my rambles, you guys are the true mvps), I want to share a little change in The Sweetest Beet. As my life has grown and changed so much in the past 8 months, so has the vision for my blog and my relationship with food. Studying abroad, Florence taught me to love food in a way I never knew possible. I enjoyed and savored every bite, never thinking about what it was doing to my thighs or how this was going to cost me 30 minutes extra on the treadmill the next day. I purely tasted and immersed myself in every meal and dish that I tried. And the freedom I found from this was ~incredible~. Was this diet sustainable? Nope. No matter what these studies say that red wine is like an hour in the gym (still very skeptical btw…) I’m pretty sure no one would recommend a glass (or two, or three) with nearly every meal. Not quite what the doctor ordered. But Florence taught me something invaluable and I’ll always be grateful.

Now, is the shift. I’m getting my diet and health back in a much more wholesome way. I never want to go back to the obsessively healthy, bakes-but-never-eats girl that I was one short year ago. Nor, do I want to be the one who tasted everything that she came upon (and kinda forgot that spinach was a thing) throughout her travels. Today, I want to find that happy medium. I want to explore good food, possibly indulge in a milkshake larger than my head (I'm looking at you Black Tap) and also brave the lines to buy groceries at Trader Joes and cook all the sweet potatoes and tofu. For this reason, The Sweetest Beet is now going to be a more accurate description of my day to day food adventures. Living in New York, this can mean a scrounged together meal at home or, it can mean diving into a gorgeous bowl of ramen from a restaurant down the street (shoutout to shiitake noodles at Momofuku). Basically, I want to erase the boundaries and remove the labels from The Sweetest Beet, just like I have in my own eating and my own life. I can’t wait to share, more openly, where my life is headed, and I hope you enjoy!

In case you’re intrigued by this (and I kinda hope you are) follow me on insta or subscribe to stay up to date on my food adventures. Baking will still happen (come on, how could I give up on that one??), but with it will be recipes from the more savory side and some (OK, lots of) treats that I find throughout the city.

And, since I have no recipe today, I couldn't leave you with nothing… My current favorite food find in New York? Dim sum at The Golden Unicorn (or probably anywhere in Chinatown). I know, I know, I’m a little late to this party, but its f*%#ing amazing. And, if you’re new to this too? Just think unlimited dumplings. Oh, and cute steamed buns that look like pigs. I rest my case. 

You guys are the best. 

xx

Vegan Lemon Blueberry Muffins

Ahh, New York summer. 

That welcome wall of humidity, the sprinkle of leaky air conditioners and hot wind storms of trash: beautiful. Though New York is the best city in the world (I’m only a tiny bit biased) we all need a break from this weather sometimes. 

Where do I find my retreat? On a breezy beach in the Hamptons maybe? Nope. Poolside, literally, anywhere? Not quite. How about a hot kitchen where the oven is always on full blast? Mm, perfect. 

Though there might be a few (or fifty) better ways to escape the heat, nothing else will result in the in a lemon blueberry muffin that is ~pretty~ delicious, and my new go-to snack and breakfast.

The lemon flavor is just enough zing-y (let’s make this a word) and tart, balancing nicely with a soft crumb and sweet, juicy blueberries. If you want, a little sprinkled lemon sugar on top adds another layer of loveliness. 

Bonus? They’re mostly whole wheat, low sugar and happen to be vegan. So, you’re allowed to have two, or maybe even three… When they’re warm from the oven, they’re pretty hard to resist. Even if New York’s classic million-degrees-plus-humidity weather is pressing in on every window in your house. 

So, pour your self some iced tea, or perhaps a chilled glass of rosé, because we have some baking to do.

 

Vegan Lemon Blueberry Muffins (adapted from here)

Makes 1 dozen

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup all purpose flour

2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds

teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

0.25 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar, divided

1 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted 

0.33 cup unsweetened almond milk

2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, divided 

1 cup fresh blueberries (or thawed frozen blueberries, well drained)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 

2. Whisk together flours, flaxseeds, powder, soda and 0.25 cup sugar. 

3. In a separate bowl, combine applesauce, oil, almond milk, lemon juice and 1 tablespoon lemon zest. 

4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add wet mixture. Stir until just combined, batter should be stiff. Gently stir in blueberries. 

5. To make lemon sugar: In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon sugar and 2 teaspoons lemon zest. Mix together thoroughly with your fingers, allowing the oils to be released from the zest into the sugar.

6. Divide batter into greased, or lined, muffin pan. Top with a sprinkling of lemon sugar. Bake for 20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean with just a few moist crumbs. 

7. Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

If you try the recipe, let me know! Tag me on Instagram, share on Facebook or find me on Pinterest. Let's stay cool and get baking.

xx

Vegan Raspberry Pop Tarts

Ok. Obvious statement of the day: pop tarts are kinda ridiculously delicious. 

Fudgey fillings, crumbly cake and nearly-too-sweet icing? Sign me up. To attempt to improve upon this staple pastry seems a bit unnecessary, but bear with me because it’s way worth it. 

Not only are these vegan, whole wheat and loaded with fresh berries (and some Nutella, come on) they are insanely good. Like, forget-about-the-boxed-kind good. Trust me. 

The dough? Comes together in one second. The filling? Smash up some berries and fruit. Roll, cut, fill and bake. It’s that simple. 

And in no time, your hands are full of warm, flaky, tart and sweet poptarts. 

If you want to get a little creative, chopped cinnamon apples (cooked a few minutes before), a spot of Nutella or straight up cinnamon sugar would also be amazing filling options. A drizzle of glaze would also put them over the edge. 

Let’s do this.

 

Vegan Raspberry Pop Tarts (adapted from here)

Makes about 7

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

pinch of salt

0.66 cup cold Earth Balance (or butter, if not vegan)

2-4 tablespoons ice cold water

1 teaspoon real vanilla extract

1 heaping cup frozen raspberries (or other fruit)

1 tablespoon real maple syrup

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

2. In a small bowl, whisk together flours and salt. 

3. Add dry ingredients to the bowl of a food processor along with the cold Earth Balance. Pulse until mixture resembles wet sand.

4. Add vanilla and water, using only enough so that the dough just comes together. Form dough into a flat round and chill while you make the compote filling. 

5. For the compote: combine raspberries and maple syrup in a small pot over the stove. Bring to a boil before reducing heat, smashing berries with the back of a spoon as they cook. Let berries boil down for about 5 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been cooked off. 

6. Once chilled, roll out dough on a lightly floured counter to about .25 inch thick. With a pizza cutter, cut pastry dough into 14 equal rectangle and place onto the lined baking sheet. On half of the rectangles, scoop about 1 tablespoon of fruit filling. If you run out, chocolate peanut butter is amazing as a filling as well. 

7. With a bit of water, run finger around the edge of the filled half, before topping with another piece of pastry. Press sides gently with your fingers and seal with a fork. With a toothpick, poke a few holes in the top of each. 

8. Bake for 22-25 minutes, until golden brown around the edges. The pop tarts are lovely warm and on their own, or cooled with a simple glaze. 

Baked Carrot Cake Doughnuts with Toasted Coconut

Guys. We did it.

We made it through another winter and spring is finally here. We struggled through the ice, snow and too freezing cars too early in the morning. Personally? I think that deserves a bit of an award. Will some donuts work? 

In a celebration of warmer weather, I have a deceivingly wholesome recipe.

These donuts bring together so many of the favorites: fresh carrots, toasty coconut and warm cinnamon. The batter is impossibly easy so there are no excuses.

Warm from the oven? Unreal. But, topped with sweet cinnamon glaze and toasted coconut they somehow become impossibly rustic and fancy. If you want to elevate these even more, some finely chopped pineapple would also be delicious.

So, let’s bury the winter coats in the back of the closet, break out the donut pans and fill them with ~all~ the carrot cake. 

 

Carrot Cake Donuts (adapted from here)

Makes 8 doughnuts

0.33 cup + 1 teaspoon unsweetened almond milk

1 teaspoon vinegar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and browned

0.5 cup whole wheat flour

0.5 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

0.75 teaspoon ground cinnamon

0.75 teaspoon ground ginger

0.25 teaspoon sea salt

0.25 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated

0.125 teaspoon ground cloves

3 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons real maple syrup (or honey)

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

0.5 cup grated carrots, packed (about 2 medium carrots)

0.25 cup finely chopped walnuts (optional)

For the glaze: 

1 cup powdered sugar

A few splashes of almond milk

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Toasted coconut flakes

 

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

2. Combine almond milk and vinegar. Set aside to curdle. 

3. Melt butter until browned and set aside to cool slightly. 

4. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, spices and salt. Set aside. 

5. To the slightly cooled butter, mix in sugar, maple syrup, egg and vanilla until completely combined. Add almond milk mixture. 

6. Add wet mixture, walnuts (if using) and grated carrots to the flour mixture. Mix until just combined, careful not to over mix. 

7. Transfer batter to a pastry bag with a large round tip and pipe into lightly greased doughnut pan. The wells should be about 0.66 full. 

8. Bake for about 8 minutes, until tops are golden around the edges, pull away from the donut pan and spring back when pressed lightly. Let cool for a minute or two in the pan before transferring to a wire rack. 

9. For the glaze: Combine powdered sugar, almond milk and cinnamon and whisk until no lumps remain and the consistency is how you prefer it. Pour glaze into a bowl, shallow enough do dip doughnuts into.

10. Once the doughnuts are completely cooled, dip doughnuts into the glaze, making sure it reaches about halfway down the sides. I double-glazed my doughnuts, dipping them a second time once the first coat had completely set. I then pressed the tops of the doughnuts into toasted coconut flakes.   

Croissants

So. I did a thing. Hint: lots of butter, flour and waiting were involved.

I’m not gonna sugar coat this one. These are very time consuming. They require exact timing, measurement and technique. But, more importantly, are so insanely worth it that I recommend you skim right to the recipe and get started (OK, maybe finish reading this, but see how much I want you to make these??)

The croissants begin in a luxurious place: the dough is warm, soft and milky. Rich and creamy butter is folded in, starting the lamination process. Lamination is the fancy term for the creation of those crazy flaky layers that every croissant-lover (I’m gonna guess every single person) knows and craves.

This is where patience is required, patience that will pay off greatly, not to worry. Fold after fold, you continue to create the marbled and laminated dough which must be chilled in between. 

Once the dough is finished, it gets rolled into an immense rectangle (make sure you have the entire counter free) and divided into skinny triangles. I made most of mine plain, but stuffed a little semi-sweet chocolate into a few because, um, why not??

When these bake. O my god. The smell? Straight up butter, warm dough and something else magic?? I don’t know, maybe I was a little delusional after spending 24 hours folding and waiting for these to come out, but the aroma of these croissants blew me away.

I’m going to lie and say that I had some self restraint and didn’t burn my fingers and mouth eating one right out of the oven. It’s cool. You should do the same, it’s that worth it. 

Fresh from the oven, there’s really nothing better. The outside has become golden brown, crispy and so flaky that you’ll soon be covered in buttery crumbs. The inside is soft, warm and stretchy in the best possible way. When you’re cutting and rolling the croissants, it feels like you’ve made an impossible amount. But when they’re warm out of the oven? That thought quickly changes as the baking sheets become emptier and emptier. 

So, next time you're looking for a serious baking project with huge payoff? Whip out some flour and some butter and embark on a croissant adventure. 

Croissants (recipe from here)

Makes about 22 croissants

1.5 cups warm whole milk (about 105 degrees F)

0.25 cup packed brown sugar

1 tablespoons + 0.5 teaspoon active dry yeast

3.75  – 4.5  cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon salt

1.5 cups (3 sticks) cold, unsalted butter

1 egg, beaten for brushing

1. To make dough: Combine milk, sugar and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Let sit until foamy, about 5 to 10 minutes. Once foamy, add 3.75 cups flour and salt and begin mixing with dough  hook, on low speed. Mix until the dough is soft and has come together, about 7 minutes. Transfer the dough to a well floured counter and knead for about 2 to 3 more minutes, until dough is silky and smooth. Form into a rectangle, about 1.5 inches thick, wrap in plastic and let chill in the fridge for 1 hour.

2. After the dough has chilled, make the butter block. Place the three sticks of butter next to each other with the sides touching. Pound them down with a rolling pin, you can also use your hands to keep the rectangular shape. Place between two pieces of plastic wrap, or parchment paper, and continue to roll out until the butter rectangle is 8 x 5 inches. Wrap in plastic and let chill in the fridge. 

3. While butter chills, roll out dough. Transfer chilled dough to a lightly floured counter and roll into a 16 x 10 rectangle. Make sure that the corners remain square, stretching with your hands if necessary. Next, take out the butter slab and place in the middle of the dough. Wrap dough around butter like a letter, one third directly on top of the butter, and the other third on top of that. Turn the dough so the short end faces you and begin to roll again (this is where the laminating magic begins). Roll into a 10 x 15 inch rectangle, rolling to the ends but not over them. Fold again like a letter, folding the thirds on top of each other into the middle of the dough. Again, stretch so that the corners are square. This should form a 10 x 5 inch rectangle. Wrap in plastic and let chill in the fridge for 1 hour.

4. Repeat the above step 3 more times, a total of FOUR folds. Make sure to let the dough chill for 1 hour in between each fold, this is very important and will create the dreamy and flaky layers. After the final fold, wrap tightly in plastic and chill for 8 to 12 hours (I let mine go over night and baked them in the morning).

5. Once dough is completely chilled, roll out on a lightly floured counter into a 20 x 32 inch rectangle. Yes, that is giant. Yes, it is necessary. Yes, you can do it. Once rolled, using a pizza cutter, slice dough down the middle, creating two rectangles that are 10 x 32 inches. With each of the strips, cut tall triangles. You should get about 11 out of each strip. On the short side of each triangle cut a 2 inch slit. This is where you will begin to roll them, pulling the two "legs" towards each other as you go. If you want chocolate croissants, add about 0.5 an ounce of dark chocolate right above the slit and roll as usual. Once rolled, I attached the two "legs" to get a nice rounded shape in my croissants. Some detach during baking, but it does help give them more shape. Once all have been rolled, place on lined baking sheets about 2 to 3 inches between each. Let proof in a warm place, under a clean dish towel, for about 1 hour. 

6. As croissants proof, preheat oven to 450 degrees F. When croissants are fully proofed, brush with egg and bake for 12 to 13 minutes, or until golden brown on the outside. 

7. Enjoy fresh, it's kind of a life changing experience. 

 

Vegan Irish Soda Bread

So, somehow we’re already a quarter of the way through 2016. I’m not really sure how it happened? 

But what does that mean, it means that St. Patrick’s Day is here. I’ve never been a huge fan of the holiday, celebrating was never a big deal for me. But I always knew that was the day, the day you wore a green shirt and got a free ice cream cone at Stewart’s and the day where suddenly everything in the store needed to be a sickeningly bright green. 

It’s also the day where eating slice after slice of Irish soda bread is 100% OK. And I’m all about that. 

Because the original tends to be loaded with butter, margarine and milk, I have a lighter vegan version, made with heartier whole wheat flours. 

So, this St. Patrick’s day, protect yourself from the abundance of green food dye and make a cozy loaf, filled with fresh orange and sweet raisins. This loaf is best served only slightly cooled, sliced with a spread of fresh berry jam or butter. 

Vegan Irish Soda Bread (adapted from here)

Makes one loaf

0.75 cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened non-dairy milk

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon flax seeds, ground

1.5 tablespoons water

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1.5 tablespoons sugar

0.5 teaspoon baking soda

0.75 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons cold Earth Balance (or butter, if not vegan)

0.75 teaspoon orange zest

0.5 cup raisins (or dried currants)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
  2. In a small bowl, combine milk and apple cider vinegar. Set aside. 
  3. In another small bowl, whisk together flax meal and water with a fork. Set aside. 
  4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk flours, sugar, soda and salt. Cut in Earth balance, or butter, with your fingers.
  5. Whisk together milk and flax mixtures. Stir in orange zest and add to the flour. Stir until completely incorporated. 
  6. Toss raisins, or currants, with a small bit of flour and then add to the dough. The mixture will be very wet. 
  7. Transfer the dough to a well-floured counter and lightly knead into a round loaf. 
  8. Move to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and score the top with an “x”. 
  9. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until well browned and sounds hollow when tapped. Let cool for 20 minutes before cutting (you can do it).