Biscuits and New Beginnings

 

While washing the breakfast dishes the other morning, I noticed the most beautiful white flowers blooming on the trees outside of our kitchen window. Such a tiny yet cheerful greeting from Mother Nature! It reminded me that the cooler temperatures and gray skies of Winter have been replaced with warm sunny afternoons of Spring, and how this year in particular I am so thankful for a new season.

At the beginning of this year I was diagnosed with food allergies to eggs and dairy, and it has certainly been a learning curve trying to navigate this new normal. We eat healthy as it is and I ate little dairy to begin with, however our family has had to look at food – especially baking – with a more creative lens. Believe it or not readers, from almond milk and coconut oil to vegan butter, there are so many fabulous non-dairy alternatives – how fortunate we are to live during a time when we have access to such things! Instead of viewing this as a negative (and believe me, there have been some challenging days), I’ve strived to view this as an opportunity to eat clean and learn about an entirely new way of cooking. And guess what? I’m feeling better than ever and eating healthier than ever!

Cooking as you know has always been a cornerstone to my life, as some of my earliest memories take me back to the kitchen’s of my childhood – cooking with my mom, grandmother and godmother. Now as an I adult I love to cook for my family, and my boys love to cook with me which is so fun. They have been such troopers about trying new recipes, like blueberry muffins made with coconut yogurt and our new favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe made with vegan chocolate chips. Most recently we made biscuits to enjoy along provencal vegetable soup, and what a treat they were! Flaky and buttery as only a biscuit can be, we topped each with a pat of butter (vegan of course!) and drizzle of golden honey and it was pure heaven. The recipe is from the Sweet Laurel Bakery cookbook, which is filled with the most fabulous dairy-free, grain-free, and refined sugar-free recipes, it’s my absolutely favorite. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we have, and here’s to clean and healthy eating!

Biscuits

Ingredients 

2 tablespoons coconut butter, cubed
2 tablespoons coconut oil, solid
2 1/2 cups almond flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
3/4 cup coconut yogurt, store-bought or homemade
1 large egg, beaten (we omitted the egg due to my allergy)

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the coconut butter and coconut oil in a small bowl and chill in the freezer for about 5 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the chilled coconut butter and coconut oil and cut in using a pastry blender, until a meal forms. It will look like wet sand, and the fats should be pea-sized. Stir in the coconut yogurt. Loosely form the dough into a ball and place on a sheet of parchment paper. Cover the dough with a second sheet of parchment paper and press into a 3/4-inch-thick rectangle. Fold the dough over itself in three sections, like you would a letter. Again pat down the dough until it’s 3/4-inch thick, and repeat this entire process two more times. This creates the fluffy layers that will puff and add lift as the biscuits bake. Press out the folded dough so it’s 1-inch thick, and cut out biscuits with a 3-inch round cookie cutter or biscuit cutter. Place the rounds on the prepared baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the top of each biscuit with the beaten egg. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until puffed up and golden. Allow to cool or serve warm.

 

Fourth of July Flag Cake & Outfit Ideas

 

Happy Monday all! With July 4th just two days away, I wanted to post one of my favorite and festive desserts in honor of the holiday, as well as a couple of cute outfit ideas for watching the fireworks.

I can’t say enough fabulous things about this cake courtesy of chef and hostess extraordinaire, Ina Garten. The bejeweled berry design is such a show stopper and the combination of the airy cake, creamy icing and fresh berries is absolutely delicious. Ina has done it yet again! You could easily make and decorate this dessert the day before and serve it on the 4th, or make it for any summer party. I actually baked this cake a couple of weeks ago for some close friends, and both the kids and adults enjoyed every last bite. Yum!

As for Independence Day attire, because it’s always fun to dress in patriotic colors on this special day, I love this dress and these sandals for casual look, as well as these jeans and this top would be darling for evening. This bathing suit would be cute for the 4th too, especially paired with some fun sunglasses and denim shorts.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy 4th of July!

 

Flag Cake 

For the Cake

9 Tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 1/2 Cups sugar
3 Eggs, room temperature
1/2 Cup sour cream, room temperature
3/4 Teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
3 Tablespoons corn starch
1/2 Teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 Teaspoon baking soda

For the Icing

16 Tablespoons (8 oz./two sticks) butter, room temperature
1 1/2 Cups (24 oz.) cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 Teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 Cups confectioners sugar

For the Decorating

1 Pint blueberries
2 Pints raspberries

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a rectangular cake pan.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high-speed, until light and fluffy. Lower the speed to medium, and add the eggs, one at a time. Next, add then add the sour cream and vanilla. Be sure to scrape down the sides  of the bowl and stir the batter until smooth.

Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda in a bowl. Turn the mixer to low-speed, and add the flour mixture to  until just combined. Try not to over mix! Pour the batter into the buttered pan, and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake the cake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool the cake to room temperature.

For the icing, mix until smooth the butter, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

Spread three-fourths of the icing on the top of the cooled sheet cake. Fill the upper left corner with blueberries (to resemble a flag). Place 2 rows of raspberries across the top of the cake like a red stripe, and put the remaining icing in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip (or you can make your own pastry bag by using a large ziplock bag and cutting the tip) and pipe two rows of white stripes below the raspberries. Alternate rows of raspberries and icing until the flag is finished.

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Spring Table Settings To Recreate

Today I took the boys for a walk in our neighborhood, and from the 70 degree temps to the blue skies and sunshine, to the light breeze, we were enveloped in spring and loving every minute. G snacked on peanut butter crackers and soaked up the scenery while C fell asleep in the stroller, and I enjoyed the serene sound all parents appreciate – peace and quiet! 🙂

Something about the spring/summer inspires me to start entertaining again – perhaps its the ease of grilling a fabulous dinner and having friends over to swim, or it might even be the lovely daylight savings – and this year is no exception. Thanks to our two sweet boys, our version of entertaining has become much more low-key, and honestly I love it. Being a California girl, I’m inherently quite casual, and while I adore dressing up or go to a fancy party, I’m happiest in a casual atmosphere. I even dress casual – athleisure when I’m chasing after the boys on a daily basis, or jeans and blouse or casual dress (most likely blue and white!) if I want to dress up a little – done and done!

I’m looking forward to hosting friends soon, and of course it has me thinking about table settings and decor. Any guess what the color scheme will be? Likely blue and white! My go-to setting recently has been these gold placemats and blue and white napkins, and I’d love to find some neat votives to add to our collection. These napkins are on my wish list too. As for cuisine for upcoming spring and summer entertaining, I can’t wait to make this peach and raspberry crisp served with barbecued chicken, grilled corn and salad.

To help inspire you and any entertaining you have up your sleeve, here are a few colorful and crisp table settings that could  be recreated. I especially love the second image – the vibrant red and purple flowers mixed with the casual blue and white checkered cloth creates a simple and stylish look perfect for warm weather entertaining. You could easily recreate this by using a similar table cloth, white napkins, and fresh flowers in your favorite vase – voila and cheers to spring entertaining!

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