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Pink Sunrise Breakfast Smoothie

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I’ve never been one to apologize for being absent over here on the blog. Life happens and sometimes blogging has to wait a bit. But I somehow can’t believe it’s been six weeks or so since I last shared a recipe. That seems like forever in blog years! To give you a quick update (just in case you missed me), I started a full-time job working with the Simple Green Smoothies team. I’ve worked with SGS for several years on a freelance basis, but now I’m officially one of the team. My days are filled with green smoothies from sunup to sundown. I’m taking photos, editing, and learning how to shoot and edit video. It’s just been a great first month on the job. So it’s kind of funny that my first recipe of 2015 is a smoothie recipe. But I can’t help it. I’m addicted to my Vitamix and I’m addicted to smoothies!

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I feel like I’m a pro at green smoothies at this point. I’ve been making them for years and years. I love them. I drink them on a daily basis. But I’ve also been wanting to delve more into using other veggies in smoothies – just to keep things interesting. I also have a hard time getting my son to drink green smoothies, even though they taste sweet and delicious. It’s a color thing. But he will drink pretty pink and purple smoothies, so I’m trying out adding other things to make his smoothies healthier without him catching on. I hate “hiding” veggies in my kids’ food, but this kid has a major aversion to anything healthy, so I do what I can. Sitting on top of him and prying his mouth open wasn’t an option. Ha! On a more serious note, he has issues related to ASD that make it hard for him to be an adventurous eater like the rest of us in the family. But he’s been really brave this past year and I think we’re making some progress. Smoothies have definitely helped with that. So I’m going to keep going!

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Root veggies are great for smoothies. They blend pretty well in a high-speed blender and they are sweet. Beets have a bit of an earthy flavor, but adding citrus and berries helps mask it a bit for picky children. I like the flavor of beets, and often crave it, so it’s not a bad thing as far as I’m concerned. Beets help your liver do its job detoxing your body, plus the gorgeous color can’t be “beet!” (Sorry.) Then there are all those vitamins, minerals, fiber, and natural sweetness. Such a good thing to eat on a daily basis. And carrots, of course, are good for healthy eyes just like Grandma said, and healthy skin. There is a ton of Vitamin C in this smoothie too. That’s great for the wintertime when we all need a little extra boost to the immune system.

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Gluten-Free Pecan Cranberry Sweet Rolls with White Chocolate Glaze

gluten free pecan cranberry sweet rolls
Christmas is almost here! I’ve been so busy this year finishing up projects before the end of the year, I haven’t been baking nearly as much as I would like to. That’s what next week is for! But just in time for Christmas morning, I’ve got a really good recipe for Pecan Cranberry Sweet Rolls with White Chocolate Glaze that I developed in partnership with Red Star Yeast. (I’ve loved working with them again this year!) I think I kind of blew all the other sweet rolls I’ve made out of the water in one fail swoop with this recipe. It’s that good.

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When I started out to develop this recipe, I was going to go in a completely different route. I’d been wanting to come up with a yeasted cranberry bread recipe that I could slice, toast, and eat with a smattering of butter. But then I thought back to the Gluten-Free Cinnamon Rolls I made last year and remembered how much we love them, and how long it’s been since I made them. And then I thought, What I’m really craving is cranberry sweet rolls with pecans…and white chocolate. So, I decided to go that route because I’m itching for something new to serve for Christmas morning breakfast. Though if I’m honest, we’ll probably eat cold cereal first thing, then I’ll get around to making these for brunch instead. (My family sort of expects that from me.) The kids and Dad play with the new toys, and I head into the kitchen to bake. I suppose that’s our Christmas tradition, and we all love it.

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I tried a few different approaches when it came to the filling and finally settled on a pecan frangipane. Frangipane is typically made with almonds and sometimes pecans. It consists of ground nuts, butter, eggs, and sugar. Occasionally cornstarch and/or flour is added. We really love frangipane in any shape or form, and I felt like this was definitely the right filling for these rolls! I also settled on using dried cranberries. A fresh or cooked cranberry compote would have been lovely here, but I like the texture of dried fruit in sweet rolls. I also didn’t want these to be too messy to roll up. The dough is super soft and fragile, which makes them utterly delightful to eat, but a bit challenging to work with if the filling is too runny. (As I found out the hard way!)

red star yeast
As I said, the dough is very soft. I left it that way on purpose because I feel like sweet rolls need to have a tender crumb. Because these rolls are gluten-free, the texture is somewhere between a yeasted cake and a biscuit. To keep them soft after baking, the dough needs to be very soft. It has a little more butter than I typically use for the amount of gluten-free flour, but it adds a richness to the dough – almost like brioche.  (more…)

Gluten-Free Pistachio Fig Pinwheel Cookies

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Have I got a good recipe for you today! Remember the Peach Curd Bars I made in the fall? Pamela’s Products asked if I would like to develop another recipe especially for the holidays using their Gluten-Free Sugar Cookie Mix. I’ve been wanting to try making pinwheel cookies for ages. Confession: I kind of hate rolling out cookie dough. It’s time consuming and messy. (We won’t talk about the perfectionist in me that rears her ugly head when I get the kids involved. Ahem.) So I thought I would experiment with the Pamela’s sugar cookie mix using some of our favorite holiday flavors.

gluten free pistachio fig pinwheel cookies

The mix lists cassava flour as one of the ingredients. Cassava is also known as tapioca. The cassava flour is different than tapioca starch, which is another ingredient in the mix too. This is fascinating to me because we use cassava flour a lot in other capacities in our Brasilian cooking. I think it’s the cassava that sets this mix apart from other recipes I’ve made and GF sugar cookies I’ve sampled that were made from mixes. The baked cookies have the characteristic sweet flavor, but the texture is phenomenal. I don’t like soft sugar cookies, sadly. They are too doughy for me. I prefer cookies more like sables – a sandy, crisp texture that melts in your mouth. These cookies definitely have that texture going on. And the promise of no cracking held up. This sugar cookie dough is a dream to work with. I didn’t believe the claim that it didn’t crack. I really didn’t. Gluten-free cookie dough is finicky on a good day. This dough rolls out perfectly. No cracks – love it!

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