Buttercream frosting

Buttercream frosting has been my go-to for years. Why? Because its super simple, super yummy and basically goes well with any type of baked good. I would drink buttercream frosting if I could and when I was younger…I did.

What You Will Need:

Large Bowl or Mixer Device
A Whisk
3 cups confectioners’ sugar (sifted)
1 cup butter
¼ teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
~3 tablespoons milk or heavy cream (I used milk)

What You Will Do:

1) Melt butter (or you can beat the butter with the paddle attachment of a mixer on medium speed for a few minutes to soften—I didn’t have a mixer with me, so I melted the butter).
2) Mix ingredients into large mixing bowl.
3) Beat (by hand or with mixer) mixture until thoroughly combined or until your liking.

See? SO easy, SO simple, and SO (relatively) cheap!
Frost your favorite cake with it or drizzle the frosting over some berries and enjoy!!

Xx

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Brownie Recipe

The great thing about Cup4Cup flour is that they provide recipes on each packaged good. So, all I had to do was follow the instructions on the back in order to make light, cakey and delicious brownies. However, it should be noted that I only used half of the brownie mix bag instead of the whole bag (which is what the baking instructions say to do) for one batch because I wanted to make 2 batches of brownies (one for brownies, and one for a Brownie Cake Stack). So, chances are, that your brownies will end up being slightly thicker than mine were.

The Recipe (from Cup4Cup):
1 bag of Cup4Cup Brownie Mix
2 eggs
2 tablespoons water
½ cup melted butter or coconut oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (optional)

Note: ½ cup of butter = 1 stick of melted butter

What You Will Do:
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Mix all wet ingredients into a large mixing bowl until thoroughly combined (use a whisk).
3) Add brownie packet into bowl. Mix until completely combined (use a whisk).
4) Pour batter into a lightly oiled baking pan.
5) Cook for 30-40 minutes.
6) After completely baked, let cool for 15 minutes.
Note: Rub a piece of butter over your baking pan to oil it.

Pro Tip: To test if your brownies are thoroughly cooked, stick a toothpick into the center of the pan. If the toothpick goes in and out of the batter smoothly and cleanly, your brownies are cooked. If the toothpick gets covered in brownie batter or gets stuck in the mixture, then the brownies needs to be cooked for longer.

I decided to get crafty after I poured the brownie mixture into a baking pan by putting marshmallows on one third of the brownie mix, and caramels on another third. I left the marshmallows on top of the brownie to bake for a melty marshmallow cover, but I pushed the caramels into the batter so that they would melt into the chocolate while baking. Then, when the brownie batter was cooling after baking, I sprinkled sea salt on the section with the caramel. I made sea salt & caramel brownies, s’mores brownies, and original brownies. For serving, I drizzled some buttercream frosting on top of the original brownies to give them an extra kick of sweetness. And boom! All done. Serve with your favorite in-season fruit or some ice cream and enjoy!

Xx

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Cup4Cup

For those of us with gluten intolerance or sensitivity, eating baked goods can be tricky. We either have to stay away from delicious treats, or we have to venture into the land of gluten free baking mixes. Both options aren’t ideal. Staying away from sweet temptations like brownies and cupcakes is very difficult, and most gluten free baking mixes end up tasting more like cardboard than candy. But, with Cup4Cup’s flour and mixes, your baking troubles are no more!

While Cup4Cup was developed at French Laundry, the product itself was created solely by former Research and Development Chef, Lena Kwak. With the support and mentorship of Chef Thomas Keller, she brought the idea and product to mass market and the other French Laundry Chefs served as taste-testers throughout the entire development process. Baked goods come out soft, moist, and light; not stale, cardboardy, and dense. Fried foods cook to a crunchy and juicy breaded perfection. You would never know that any sweet treat or sizzling starter was missing gluten when using Cup4Cup’s flour and baking mixes.

The great thing about Cup4Cup is that they provide recipes on the back of each packaged good. So, all you have to do is follow the instructions on the back of the bag, and you get wonderful results. Brownies, cookies, cakes and even pizza crusts can be made in a snap. The website (http://www.cup4cup.com/) also has a recipe section that is frequently updated with new tips and tricks. Your kitchen will love you because baking with Cup4Cup is super easy and fast. And, your tummy will love you because you can finally eat foods that taste like gluten without all the icky side effects. Now you can literally have your cake and eat it too!

The company provides classic gluten free flour alternatives as well as a whole wheat flour substitute with baking mixes designed for brownies, vanilla cake, pancakes, waffles and pizza crusts. All products are non-GMO and can be found on online retail platforms like Amazon, Fresh Direct and Cooking.com as well as brick-and-mortar locations of Williams Sonoma, Sur La Table, Walgreens and others nationwide.

To prove this marvelous cooking invention works like we say it does, we made RECIPES using Cup4Cup’s original flour blend and brownie mix. Prepare to be amazed.

Click here to read more! 

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Brownie Cake

Brownie Cake Stack is my favorite dessert. I made it by mistake a couple years ago when my brownies turned out looking like sad little crackers instead of thick, chocoholic treats. So whether you’re making this recipe on purpose, or your mixture didn’t rise like you hoped it would, brownie cake is an easy remedy to any problem.

The Brownie Recipe:

½ bag Cup4Cup Brownie Mix
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
¼ cup melted butter or coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
Note: ¼ cup of butter = ½ stick of melted butter

What You Will Do:
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Mix all wet ingredients into a large mixing bowl until thoroughly combined (use a whisk).
3) Add brownie packet into bowl. Mix until completely combined.
4) Pour batter into a lightly oiled baking pan.
5) Cook for 15-20 minutes.
6) After completely baked, let cool for 15 minutes.

The Frosting Recipe (I used buttercream frosting):
3 cups confectioners’ sugar (sifted)
1 cup butter
¼ teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
~3 tablespoons milk or heavy cream (I used milk)

What You Will Do:
1) Melt butter (or you can beat the butter with the paddle attachment of a mixer on medium speed for a few minutes to soften—I didn’t have a mixer with me, so I melted the butter).
2) Mix ingredients into large mixing bowl.
3) Beat (by hand or with mixer) mixture until thoroughly combined or until your liking.

After the brownie cools, cut the brownie mixture into squares. Frost each brownie piece with frosting, then layer each piece on top of one another building a little stack of brownie. Stack ~4-5 pieces of brownie depending on thickness of brownie and personal preference for cake height. Top with sprinkles and serve.

Enjoy!!

Xx

 

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LA Vegan Smart Brunch

LA Vegan Smart Brunch – Sunday July 12th, 2015

Tucked away in downtown LA’s budding art’s district are a bunch of graffiti-laden buildings housing co-ops, lofts and restaurants. A couple days ago, The Container Yard, one of these warehouse buildings, opened up its doors to host a Vegan brunch for guests to educate themselves on a healthy and vegan lifestyle (and to try out some goodies while at it!) The event was hosted by Miami’s @BADASSVEGAN (trainer/health pro, John Lewis) and @VEGANFOODSHARE who also hosted a similar brunch in Miami earlier this year.

The indoor/outdoor space displayed great art and photographs, had graffiti artists working outside, a DJ and plenty of beverages to keep us cool under the hot LA sun. Along with the hosts mentioned above, the event was sponsored by VeganSmart, a gluten, soy and dairy free protein powder, that comes in a variety of different flavors such as vanilla, strawberry and chocolate. Guests were able to taste the various flavors in delicious protein shake samples. My favorite snack was definitely the ice cream, which was just as creamy and flavorful as any regular dairy ice cream. The best part of all was that the above-mentioned treats were gluten-free as well!

See below for more images of the event!

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Modern Oats

When it comes to breakfast, I’m always looking for new ways to put a spin on my meal, whether it’s on my omelet, yogurt, cereal, or oatmeal. In comes Modern Oats—an all-natural, non-GMO oatmeal that comes in six high fiber and protein rich flavors. No longer do I have to spend that extra time in the kitchen as Modern Oats’ unique and different flavor combinations create a fun and flavorful dining experience!

All of Modern Oats’ products are certified gluten-free, sodium-free and cholesterol-free, and are produced in 100% gluten-free facilities as to ensure no cross-contamination. Better yet, they use whole grain rolled oats, which adds a great solid texture with each bite. You know you’re getting the real deal here versus the many store-bought oats that are often highly processed with several added sugars. There really is no need for any artificial flavoring in Modern Oats—all their ingredients are 100% fully-ripened, freshly frozen fruit, and healthy nuts that give each of their products a delicious flavor! Modern Oats currently has 6 superfood flavors: Apple Walnut, 5 Berry, Goji Blueberry, Mango Blackberry, Chocolate Cherry, and Nuts + Seeds. My personal favorite is the 5-Berry with blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries, California almonds and pecans! It’s the perfect balance of sweet and tart, and I love the extra-added crunch of the nuts! While Modern Oats is gourmet oats at their finest, they doesn’t take a trained chef to make. Just add hot water, wait three minutes, stir and enjoy!

I love to eat my oatmeal snuggled up in bed, however, Modern Oats’ recyclable 2.6 ounce cup also provides the ultimate convenience for a lengthy weekend road trip or simply to take on the go before a long work day.

Go online to check out where you can buy Modern Oats near you, or even order their oatmeal online! PS. Modern Oats even dishes out recipes on their site that you can make using their oatmeal—Blueberry Procakes or Modern Oats Parfait anyone?

 

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The Konery

The Konery is the maker of my favorite gluten-free ice cream cones! The cones are infused with gourmet ingredients, and hand rolled in their facility in Brooklyn. There are five different flavors: french vanilla, cinnamon brown sugar, toasted coconut, chocolate hazelnut, and birthday cake. They come in original and miniature sized, and they are a great way to make ice cream taste even better. The cones taste amazing on their own; you can crunch them up and use them as a topping for other desserts or simply eat them as is. My favorite flavor is toasted coconut; it tastes especially amazing with rum raisin ice cream. The cones can be purchased online and can also be found at some of our favorite restaurants such as DF Mavens and at Smorgasburg in Brooklyn!

Where to buy: http://www.thekonery.com/ 

Gluten free and vegan ice cream at DF Mavens

Gluten free and vegan ice cream

 

Justin’s

I must confess…  I can’t keep a full jar of peanut or almond butter in my house because it won’t stay full for very long once I get my hands on it! I was ecstatic when I found Justin’s single serving squeeze-packs are perfectly portioned and packaged individually. I like to pair them with an apple or put some in my oatmeal in the morning! Their slow-digesting protein and healthy fats make them the perfect snack to tide me over until my next meal.

For those of you who have a little more self-control, Justin’s also comes in 16 oz. jars. My personal favorite for an everyday snack is the honey almond butter, which is a little sweeter than their classic variety, but with only two more grams of sugar per serving. Other flavors include maple and vanilla almond butter, classic and honey peanut butter, and chocolate hazelnut butter, which tastes like Nutella, but is healthier! Justin’s makes peanut butter cups, too, for those of you looking for a sweet treat, and it comes in white, milk, and dark chocolate. The peanut butter cups are the perfect sweet treat that won’t weigh you down!

While Justin’s does have some sweet, desert-like options, all of their products are made with wholesome ingredients that you feel good about eating. Plus, all the nut butters and peanut butter cups are gluten free! So next time you feel that afternoon slump coming on, try one of Justin’s squeeze packs or a peanut butter cup and you’ll be ready to take on the rest of the day without any more energy crashes!

 

Where to buy: justins.com

ginnybakes

When it comes to gluten-free sweets, I’m your girl. I’ve tried just about every brand of GF dessert, and from the best gluten-free chocolate chip cookie to the best gluten-free doughnut, I have a favorite brand for each. Recently, I was introduced to ginnybakes, a nutritious organic, gluten-free, non-gmo line of baked goods. One bite had me sold!

I relate to ginnybakes’ brand and concept in many ways. Their philosophy is to “nourish your mind and body” and create nutritious, yet delicious, gluten-free goodies. All treats are made in a dedicated gluten free facility too! “Gluten-free” is more than a diet; it’s a way of living. Ginny’s passion for nutrition and healthy balanced living comes across in her baked goods. All ginnybakes products are handmade and all ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified organisms or ionizing radiation. I used to say you should avoid eating anything that comes out of a package, but this is one packaged good that is fresh and healthy– I HIGHLY recommend it.

The brand comes in many forms ranging from baking mixes and cookies, to crumbles and bars. I’m a huge fan of their cookies, with chocolate chip oatmeal, chocolate chip, and cranberry pistachio being my favorites. The cookies also come in several other flavors including butter crisp and sweet cinnamon. I’m typically a chocaholic, but the cranberry pistachio is addicting!!  For the calorie counters, the cookies are only 50 calories! And if you’re always on the go, ginnybakes cookies are sold in snack-bags! The ginnyminis are just over 100 calories, and they are the perfect, satiating snack while you’re out and about.

Lastly, ginnybakes also makes vegan cookies, and all ginnybakes products are kosher too! If you haven’t checked out ginnybakes yet, you are truly missing out. Click here to learn more… and buy, of course! 

 

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S’well

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It’s hard to believe just how many water bottles we go through every day. An estimated 50 billion plastic bottles are dumped into landfills each year—and that’s just in the U.S. alone! I’ve always tried to be mindful of the ecosystem, carrying and refilling my own water bottles, and that’s why when I discovered S’well, I absolutely fell in love with their mission of trying to rid the world of plastic bottles.

All of S’well’s reusable bottles are made of non-leaching and non-toxic 18/8 stainless steel to keep drinks cold for 24 hours and hot for 12. They’re also beautifully designed with earth friendly paints. Not only do S’well bottles look great but they also do good as well; they’re a charitable community member and proud partner of organizations like American Forests, which is dedicated to protecting and restoring the environment. For every bottle sold, American Forests will plant a tree! S’well is also a proud supporter of the U.S. fund for UNICEF, donating $100,000 to help provide clean water to children in need. It’s truly humbling to be able to drink out of such an elegantly crafted bottle while also knowing that you’re giving back to the shared environment.

As someone who’s constantly on the run, S’well keeps my water cold throughout the whole day! It’s perfect to put your favorite gluten-free beverage in—whether you need cold water for a yoga session or tea through your long workday, it really fits all purposes!

S’well is currently sold in 35 countries worldwide, and you can order your bottle online now! The bottles come in sizes of 9 oz, 17 oz, or 25 oz, and there are nine different design collections you can choose from: Color Block, Love, Shimmer, Satin, Exotic, Wood, Glitter, Textile, and Stone. Check out the site to see the limited edition bottles too, such as the breakfast themed bottle sporting an egg on the front!

It’s nice to see a business so passionate in making a difference and working towards bettering our environment and communities around the world each day. I’m glad to be able to take part in their mission by sporting their awesome bottles. With S’well, I can surely say that I won’t be using plastic bottles anytime in the near future!

Gochujang Korean Chili Sauce

Gochujang Korean Chili Sauce is the next generation of the traditional fermented hot chili paste! Made by Chung Jung One, Gochujang Korean Chili Sauce gives a unique spin to the traditional Korean kitchen pantry staple sauce, preserving the umami flavor from fermentation while adding a touch of sea salt and cane sugar to give a sweet, tart and rich, not to mention spicy, flavor to any recipe! The best part is that Gochujang is completely gluten free, contains no fat, and is vegan. Also, a one-teaspoon serving of the sauce only contains 10 calories and 120 mg of sodium!

I love just how versatile Gochujang is; now I can get creative with my meals! The Gochujang site suggests using it as a meat marinade, adding it to stews or soups, or simply using it as a hot condiment. They also list several recipes such as Gochujang pork rice bowl, hot wings, hummus, or cheeseburger with Gochujang chili sauce. I decided to keep it simple, cooking up a tofu, mushroom, spinach and egg scramble, and topping it off with the savory sauce. The Gochujang brought my dish to a whole other level, delivering a fresh, pungent and spicy kick to my taste buds with just the right amount of sweetness for the perfect balance of flavors!

I can only imagine all the other dishes I have yet to try making with Gochujang—on a hot dog in lieu of ketchup, as a tangy glaze for spicy pork ribs, or maybe even attempting Chef Edward Lee’s more upscale recipe of Gluten-Free Grilled Rib-Eye Steak with Gochujang Butter! Oh, and I definitely have to give a go in making the 2015 James Beard Finalist’s Gluten-Free Gochujang Gazpacho, especially as the summer days are getting hotter. The possibilities are endless!

Gochujang now comes ready to use in a 7.5-oz bottle and is available at select retailers including Wegman’s, Central Market, and Lucky’s Supermarket, as well as online.

Where To Buy: www.gochujangsauce.com

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Rickaroons

Rickaroons are an organic, gluten and soy free, paleo friendly, coconut macaroon. They come in four different flavors, mint to be, chocolate blondie, megaroon, and mocha. Our favorite, and the original Rickaroon flavor, is the chocolate blondie made with coconut, almond butter, and chocolate chips. It truly tastes like a chunk of cookie dough– be careful it’s SO addicting! Megaroon is the superfood version of the chocolate blondie flavor, and it contains chia seeds and cacao. Rickaroons are great on their own and also taste amazing in yogurt or on oatmeal. They can be purchased online in the link below!

Where to buy: http://www.rickaroons.com/buy