sunday muffins…. gluten free and vegan lemon poppyseed…

sunday muffins…. gluten free and vegan lemon poppyseed…

i am happy to report that with the exception of not having any muffin tin liners left at home this recipe went off without a hitch! and, as an added bonus- just as i was contemplating prepping for the muffins one of my best buddies here in istanbul sent me a giant bag of lemons! it was fate.

i woke up early to bake these for our breakfast and it was so worth it.  nearly sugar free, the lemony taste with the poppyseeds was just perfect and i savored my muffin with a fantastic cup of morning coffee.

it was early enough that i was moving a bit slowly, but i would say these muffins could be ready in one-hour tops. have your ingredients ready and a hot oven waiting, and you will be set.

ingredients

  • zest of 2 lemons
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flax seed with 6 tbsp water- mix and set aside)
  • ½ cup nut mylk
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil-softened
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tbsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds

instructions

  • preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius. (400f)
  • line muffin tin with muffin liners or grease with coconut oil and sprinkle with almond flour
  • mix together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, poppy seeds and lemon zest
  • in a separate bowl mix flax eggs, lemon juice, coconut oil and nut mylk
  • combine wet and dry ingredients and spoon into muffin tin
  • cook for 20-25 minutes (mine were perfect at 22 minutes) and cool on baking rack
  • serve warm with a good cup of coffee… enjoy!!!

sunday muffins…. gluten free very berry

another lockdown weekend; another funny muffin story! 

yesterday i was absolutely exhausted. i had bitten off too many weekend projects, had too many meals to cook and way too many things to tidy and by the time our muffin baking rolled around i had really had it with the idea of being in the kitchen.  

my beautiful children came to the rescue! alegra loves all things cooking related anyway so she was ready to help and alara has been studying like a crazy person for her upcoming in-person exams.  we still don’t know if these exams will actually happen but, rightfully so, she really wants to be prepared.  give or take a few days, when she goes back mid-week, she will have not hand any in person learning for exactly 12 months. (the other two did have the opportunity to go to “real” school in the fall so alara holds our family record for number of days of online school.) 

i had planned to make some very berry muffins- one of my favorites- but i had not planned well enough to actually make sure we had all the ingredients we might need. oops.

we did seem to have an inordinate amount of coconut flour, so that is what we used. the end result was good, although very coconutty! if you do decide to recreate our coconutty berry muffins just be prepared to use a bit more almond milk as coconut flour tends to soak up liquid more than other gluten free flours.

ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups gluten free flour (in hindsight i recommend using an almond flour and oat combo)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • ¾ cup nut mylk (or more if using coconut flour)
  • 1 flax egg (or regular if not vegan)
  • 8 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mixed frozen berries
  • ¾ cup brown sugar 

instructions:

  • preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius (375 f)
  • prepare muffin tin with liners
  • combine berries and sugar and mix gently- set aside
  • mix flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger together.
  • in a separate bowl combine nut mylk, flax egg and melted coconut oil
  • make a well in dry ingredients and pour wet ingredients in
  • mix until just combined; adding more nut mylk if necessary- batter should be moist and may have some small lumps
  • add berry mixture and mix gently
  • spoon batter into muffin tins – cook for 20-25 minutes until toothpick comes out clean and tops are browned
  • cool slightly on cooling rack and serve warm for a perfect breakfast treat!  

**recipe loosely adapted from ina garten’s barefoot contessa cookbook**

sunday muffins- gluten-free double chocolate mini muffins!

nothing beats a little bit of chocolate and these mini muffins really just hit the spot!

last weekend we were away and fortunate enough to get to spend sunday morning on the beach.  our short vacation was much needed and we all returned feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. the thought of travelling internationally during the pandemic had us all on edge but everything went better than we anticipated and being able to spend most of our time outdoors helped to assuage our fears of being around strangers for the first time in months.

we visited a hotel in dubai where we had stayed before; but quite some time ago- our last visit there was in 2013-and we found many pleasant changes upon our arrival… more restaurants to visit, a whole new wing of the hotel, and tons of gluten-free options. full gluten-free menus are now easily available in all the dining areas and asking for gluten-free bread was not met with looks of uncertainty! at breakfast i was even offered a whole basket of gluten-free pastries- first time that has ever happened!

the mini muffins were my favorite and they are the inspiration behind this week’s sunday muffins. i’m not sure which recipe the hotel used but here is one with shredded zucchini that we love in our house- not vegan but thoroughly gluten-free and delicious too!

ingredients:

  • 1 cup zucchini- shredded 
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ cup almond milk
  • 3 cups almond flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • 1 large handful dark and milk chocolate- roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup gluten-free flour
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup coconut oil- melted

instructions: 

  • preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius
  • line mini muffin pan with muffin liners
  • combine dry ingredients in a large bowl
  • combine eggs, almond milk, coconut oil and vanilla extract in another bowl- mixing well
  • pour wet ingredients into dry and mix until combined
  • add in shredded zucchini and chocolate chips
  • use a small spoon to fill muffin cups
  • bake for 10-15 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of muffins comes out clean

*** if making regular sized muffins please increase cook time to 20-25 minutes***

a new routine- sunday muffins!

join us as we embark on a new routine- sunday muffins!

as a virgo through and through i am a very big fan of routines.  

knowing what is coming up centers me. it helps me to keep some of the more anxious thoughts and “what ifs” at bay. not only do i love living the routine, but i also adore planning the routine.  i have all sorts of notebooks- one for daily to-dos; one for our weekly meals; one for recipes; one for bigger, long term plans- and tons of lists! books to be read; articles to check out; yoga classes to take; things to buy; things to give away… all listed nicely and neatly.

as much as i love a routine life, over the years i have learned (sometimes the hard way) to let go and go with the flow (sort of).  juggling the needs, wants and schedules of three kids; living in the beautiful chaos of istanbul; being connected to other people socially and professionally- all these have been known to cause glitches from time to time! 

and of course, this year we are living through the biggest glitch of all! not in a million years would i have ever thought we would be on month 10 of staying home, at home learning, curfew and weekend lockdowns.  i really somehow thought this would be a couple months long blip in an otherwise normal year.

the first couple of months were better; alegra and i had a really great whiteboard, and we had a schedule for every day- it was great! i knew what was coming, everyone at home knew the plan.  it was as “normal” as one could have hoped for.

but these days, as covid wears on and on, i am finding it hard to even consider creating a routine.  i had hoped new years would inspire me but here i am halfway into the month and still a bit lost.

so, as i baked these muffins for sunday morning breakfast, i realized these might just be the perfect way to start a new routine! 

i’ve had food projects before; you can find a whole year of vegetable fritters (mucver, in turkish) here … and a year of gluten free kid-friendly treats here 

and so, it seems 2021 will be the year of muffins! the muffins will always be gluten-free; though not always vegan nor sugar free (sometimes we need a little treat too, guys!) i hope that you enjoy this new routine as much as i do 🙂

gluten-free vegan blueberry muffins

ingredients:

  • 2 vegan flax eggs (mix 2 tablespoons ground flax seed with 6 tablespoons water and set aside to thicken)
  • 2/3 cup vegan buttermilk (mix nut mylk with 2 teaspoons vinegar and set aside)
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • ½ cup gluten free oats
  • ¾ cup gluten free flour mix **
  • 2/3 cup coconut sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cup blueberries (can be fresh or frozen)

instructions:

  • preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius
  • line muffin pan with liner cups
  • combine flours, oats, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and mix well
  • add flax egg, buttermilk, melted coconut oil and vanilla extract and mix until just combined
  • fold in blueberries carefully – 
    • batter should be thick at this point, if not add 1-2 tablespoons almond flour
  • spoon batter into prepared muffin pan 
  • bake for about 30 minutes until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean
  • cool on rack for at least 10 minutes
  • serve warm with a cup of tea or coffee! 

** recently, i have been using organik bahce’s gluten free flour mix here in turkey**

alara and alegra’s ooey gooey joyful brownies

if you live in istanbul you are hopefully enjoying this snow day as much as we are!!! the city is quiet and beautiful and watching the snowflakes fall is actually meditative in its own way. 

the snow brought us a LOT of joy- we made a snowman, had snowball fights, made snow angels, drank hot chocolate and of course, baked brownies- yum!

our brownie baking actually happened on saturday, while we were waiting rather (im)patiently for the snow to start.  we knew we would want dessert that night so alara and alegra figured out a way to use up a batch of caramel we had made mid-week for apple dipping.  

the result some of the most indulgent joyful caramel brownies i have ever tasted!  

they humored me and made them gluten free but feel free to use regular flour if you prefer; and don’t worry if you have left over caramel sauce, it is just as delicious on its own and perfect for dipping fruit or making ice cream sundaes 🙂

easy caramel sauce:

ingredients:

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 12 tablespoons butter- cut up into small pieces
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt flakes

instructions:

  • have all ingredients at room temperature 
  • heat sugar over medium high heat in bottom of a large saucepan-whisking continuously
  • once sugar is melted add butter and stir until melted
  • remove pan from heat and slowly add cream
  • whisk until cream is completely absorbed and caramel is smooth
  • add sea salt flakes and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes
  • store in a glass jar in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks

gluten free caramel brownies:

ingredients:

  • ½ cup dark chocolate- chopped into pieces
  • ½ cup milk chocolate- chopped into pieces
  • 1 cup butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup gluten free flour
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup salted caramel sauce

instructions:

  • preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius (375f)
  • line a baking dish with parchment paper and set aside
  • in a large pot melt butter and chocolate together- allow to cool slightly
  • add in eggs, sugar and vanilla extract- mix well
  • sift gluten free flour on top and mix in until just combined
  • pour brownie batter into prepared dish and spread evenly
  • place large spoonfuls of caramel sauce on top of batter and use a knife to swirl into the batter
  • bake for 20-25 minutes for fudgy brownies; 30-35 minutes for more cakelike ones
  • the caramel will bubble, and the batter will seem to be shaky but don’t worry! once the brownies cool down the mixture will harden, and you will be able to cut and serve 
  • serve warm with ice cream if desired 

first dessert of the new year… apple crumble!

tonight was fish night at our house- at least once a week we try to have a fish dinner; we always have potatoes next to our fish and we always have some type of dessert too.

there is a saying in turkish that goes sort of along the lines of “after fish, sweets should be eaten”- and we take it pretty seriously- so as i ordered the fish this morning, i also ordered a yummy chocolate cake. but soon after i discovered a huge surplus of apples lurking in the pantry!!!

and so apple crumble was in the works 🙂

this is a super simple, gluten free and vegan recipe that was loved by all the carnivores and herbivores alike in our house… (and don’t worry; the chocolate cake won’t go to waste- plenty of chocolate lovers live here too!)

ingredients:

apple filling:

mix together-

1.5 kilos apples- peeled, cored and chopped into small pieces

5 teaspoons lemon juice

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

pinch of salt

2 tablespoons cornstarch

crumble topping:

mix together-

¾ cup brown sugar

½ cup almond flour

¾ cup gluten free oats

pinch of salt

1/3 cup melted coconut oil

instructions:

preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius

mix apple filling and crumble topping in separate bowls

spread apple filling evenly into an oven proof baking dish

spread crumble topping on top of apple filling in an even layer

bake for 50-60 minutes until top is browned and filling in bubbly

serve warm (and with vanilla ice cream or sorbet as desired)

beautiful boat bundt cake…

this week was the bayram, or eid, here in turkey, and we were lucky enough to manage to come to the south of turkey for a short escape from the city.

the weather has been typical late spring weather for this area. Hot midday and cool and crisp at night. we did some hiking, some swimming, a lot of reading and relaxing, and a whole bunch of cooking.

one of our favorite recipes to make on vacation is a very light, gluten free almond cake. (we also made a not at all light chocolate cake- not gluten free so not for me- and a banana bread that was a full flop- we combined two recipes and it did NOT work out at all!)

but this lemon cake is delicious. we served it warm out of the oven and it was gone within the hour. i was secretly hoping for a little slice for breakfast, but no dice.

it is so simple that i don’t know why we have never made it at home. but you know, some things just taste better in some places. so, this is our beautiful boat bundt cake… enjoy!

ingredients-

  • 4 organic eggs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup fresh almond milk
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 lemond rind
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds (alegra says to try chia seeds if you don’t have poppy)
  • 2 cups almond flour (we added a couple more tablespoons to make the dough more doughy)

instructions-

  • preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius
  • grease bundt pan with olive oil
  • mix eggs, sugar, almond milk, and olive oil with hand blender
  • add baking powder, vanilla extract
  • mix in almond flour slowly until you reach a doughy consistency
  • fold in poppy seeds and lemon rind
  • pour into bundt pan and place in over
  • bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean
  • allow to cool for 5-10 minutes
  • invert on serving dish and serve warm with a glass of turkish tea 🙂

a special thanks to birdal abi for sharing this recipe with us!!

cinnamon bun heaven…

we are having a crazy day here at our house!

we have yet another LONG weekend lockdown (this time four full days); there is a mini-heat wave happening; supposed to be a pesticide spray happening in our neighborhood (so all our windows are closed and we are boiling); we spent 30 minutes chasing the chickens around to get them cooped up before the spraying started (it still hasn’t!); and the electricity just went out.  everything already felt a little surreal when we woke up this morning but now all this is just really a bit extra.

so, our usual saturday live cooking session has been postponed. but we didn’t want to leave you all hanging on a saturday!

so, here is a fantastic recipe for cinnamon buns that we first made last summer on vacation… it is relatively easy, just be sure to plan for some time to allow the dough to rise 🙂

ingredients-

            for the rolls-

  • 2 cups milk
  • 6 tablespoons butter + some for greasing your pan
  • 1 package instant yeast- mix with small amount of warm water allow to sit 10 minutes
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups gluten free flour (regular flour works too if you’d prefer)

            for the filling-

  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon

for the glaze (completely optional)-

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk

instructions-

  • preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius
  • grease a baking dish with butter
  • melt 6 tablespoons butter and mix in milk
  • add in yeast, sugar, salt and vanilla extract, mix well and allow to rest for 2 minutes
  • slowly combine flour and wet ingredients – mixing well between each addition
  • add flour until dough if formed- you might need a little more or less that 4 full cups
  • knead the dough slightly then form into a ball
  • cover with a dish towel and allow to rise for 1 hour
  • meanwhile mix brown sugar and cinnamon together and allow ¼ cup butter to soften
  • after an hour, sprinkle a clean work surface with flour and roll out dough
  • dough should be about 1.5 centimeters thick- cut edges so dough is straight
  • spread soft butter all over your dough and then sprinkle on the cinnamon mixture
  • roll the dough into one large roll and then slice into 2-centimeter-wide rolls
  • place in baking dish with each roll touching each other
  • bake in oven for about 20-25 minutes- check to make sure they are baked through
  • make glaze by mixing powdered sugar and milk- mix well
  • pour over warm buns
  • serve immediately with a cup of tea and enjoy!

this recipe was adapted from “she likes food”

sole simplified…

our latest fish at home meal was another great success!!

…and we managed to use up some of the freezer food to boot!

sole meuniere has always been one of erim’s all-time favorite dishes to order. the girls like it too; i mean really, what’s not to like- delicious fish and a ton of butter 🙂

but cooking a traditional sole meuniere at home has always felt a little daunting, a little decadent.

so, i started digging around to find a version that might be even just a little bit lighter; both in terms of process and product. this simplified oven version turned out to be perfect. it was also a huge relief to be prepping the fish for the oven since i also realized that i didn’t have a skillet large enough to hold the whole fish- so the classical stovetop version would have literally been impossible.

you only need a few basic ingredients and the cooking time is short too.  we also made a lovely green salad, some roasted new potatoes, and some fresh grilled baby zucchinis for a simple, satisfying spring dinner…

ingredients-

  • 2 dover sole fillets (feeds 2-4 people depending on age and size)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 lemon, sliced into thin rounds

instructions-

  • preheat oven to 180 degress celsius
  • line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper
  • place clean fillets onto baking sheet
  • season with salt and pepper to taste
  • sprinkle chopped parsley and small pats of butter on top of fish
  • place 2-3 lemon slices on top of each fillet
  • squeeze juice of any remaining lemon slices onto fish
  • bake for 10-12 minutes- fish should be light and flaky
  • transfer to serving dish and serve immediately
our grilled baby zucchinis…

this recipe was adapted from andrea beaman’s life is delicious

craving caramel…

as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and our recent self-isolation we have discovered that pretty much everyone in our house (with the exception of erim) absolutely ADORES popcorn!

we started out making it once or twice a week on movie nights as a treat.  at that time we were using a neat air popper i purchased a couple of years ago.  then we perfected making it with olive oil and sea salt on the stovetop- delicious. this caused our popcorn consumption to skyrocket and become a daily thing.

i frequently added copious amounts of ground curry, cumin and turmeric to my share; which i have to tell all you spice lovers, is a wonderful way to eat popcorn.

and then this week, as part of our “enjoy what we have challenge” we decided to attempt caramel popcorn. i have to admit i really thought this was going to be a major flop… i was WRONG!!

this recipe is super simple, it didn’t take us too much longer than our usual popcorn time, and we even ended up with a little leftover caramel for dipping apple slices the next afternoon.

so if you, like us, are craving caramel… we highly recommend this popcorn. but i will warn you, it is truly addictive!

ingredients-

a big bowl of air popped popcorn (made from about 1 cup unpopped kernels)

1 cup unsalted butter

2 cups brown sugar

2/3 cups heavy cream

instructions-

preheat oven to 150 degrees celsius

line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper

pop popcorn and spread on baking sheet in an even layer

in a medium saucepan melt butter over medium heat

add brown sugar and cream- whisking constantly until all ingredients are combined

bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes- stirring continually

remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes

pour over popcorn and mix well

place in oven for 10 minutes or longer depending on how crunchy you like your popcorn

remove from oven, mix well and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes

good movie, glass of wine… sit down and enjoy while fresh!