It probably won’t surprise you to hear that one of my favorite things to do is spoil the people in my life with baked goods. There is seriously nothing I love more than baking for my friends and family – especially when they come to visit! Breakfast is usually the meal I go all out on, because it’s pretty hard to top waking up to a freshly baked treat. Pancakes and biscuits are always a good option, but when I want to go allllll out and really pamper my guests……I make coffee cake. And this gluten-free Chocolate Pecan Coffee Cake just happens to be my new favorite.
It’s hard to believe that fall is upon us and that next week will be October already. I don’t know about you guys, but I feel like we barely had a summer this year! The last few weeks of summer in particular felt like a blur to me, especially with all the studying for my nutrition courses. And while I always have a tough time letting go of summer, there are a few things I absolutely love about the fall. The first is that it’s the start of football season! Which means I get to geek out and obsess waaaaay too much over my fantasy football teams and get to watch my beloved Broncos play on a weekly basis (which might not necessarily be a good thing based on the past couple seasons). The second thing I love most about fall is that it’s a season filled with warm, cozy desserts. Think cinnamon spiked coffee cakes, hot apple fritters, and, if you’re like me, basically anything with Italian plums like these gluten-free/vegan Italian Plum Streusel Bars.
I’ve always said that one of my favorite parts about making cookies is getting to eat the cookie dough. I don’t know why, but sometimes cookie dough seems more alluring than the actual cookies. Maybe it’s because I know I’m not supposed to eat a lot of it or that it’s slightly controversial……or could it be that cookie dough is the bad boy of cookies and that just makes it sexier and more appealing?? Like we know we shouldn’t love it and there’s a slight danger in it, but no matter how hard we try – we just can’t seem to stay away.
Is it just me or has summer flown by this year?? I feel like it just started and now it’s already mid-August! Which means there’s a lot of hiking, camping, and hanging outside that I need to cram into the next month or so. It also means there’s only so much more time to take advantage of all the summer berries and fruit! I’ve found the best way to do this is to put berries on everrrryyyything……oatmeal, toast, ice cream, cookies and especially this Pistachio Cake that just also happens to be naturally sweetened and gluten-free.
As most of my friends and family will tell you, I’m so not a morning person. Mornings and I don’t get along very well. Like it takes me a good hour to be a functioning human being after waking up. Which is kind of weird because I LOVE breakfast. You would think that the excitement of getting to eat a crispy waffle or big stack of pancakes would make me become more of a morning person……but not so much. I mean it helps and definitely makes mornings better, but it still hasn’t converted me to a full-blown morning loving person.
Whenever people ask me how I come up with recipe ideas, I always tell them “Oh, I get inspired by a lot things like vintage cookbooks or what’s in season or a new dessert trend I’ve seen.” But if I’m being honest…..most of my ideas come to me because it’s something I really, really, really want to eat. Like something I’m seriously craving and need to develop a recipe for ASAP so I can eat as much of it as I want. And that’s exactly how the idea for these Healthier Peanut Butter Buckeyes came about.
Well, I wasn’t kidding when I said I’ve been getting lots of requests for gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan recipes. This is another one that came at the request of a friend. She asked if I could make something for her son’s birthday……the only kicker was that it had to be both gluten-free and vegan. And since I believe every kid (and really every adult) should have an awesome dessert on their birthday – I immediately accepted the challenge.
For the past couple months, I’ve been playing around with making healthier treats. This came about for a lot of reasons. One is that I’ve been getting a lot of requests from friends to develop gluten-free and vegan recipes. And since I consider myself an equal opportunity baker – I’m happy to oblige. But, if I’m being honest, the biggest reason I’ve been doing this is because this style of baking is new to me and I’ve never been one to turn down a challenge. At first, I thought it might be a pain developing recipes without dairy and gluten…….and don’t get me wrong – it’s definitely not the easiest thing in the world. But what I didn’t expect was how much fun it would be.
Those of you who follow me on Instagram know that I’ve been on a mission to create the world’s greatest banana bread. It all started a few weeks ago when the husband came home from work and ever so innocently told me someone brought in the best banana bread ever. I smiled and replied, “Ohhh, really?? That’s cool.” But what I was really thinking was, “Are you freaking kidding me?! I’ll show you the best banana bread ever.” It was totally like that episode of Friends when Monica tells Chandler her new co-worker is the funniest guy ever. And, much like Chandler, I let a completely innocuous statement send me into a tailspin. Because baking is MY thing and there was no way I was going to let some other person (who I’m sure is perfectly lovely and most likely not as insanely competitive as me) steal my thunder. And thus began my quest to create the greatest banana bread that has ever existed ever.
Well guys, I finally did it……I’ve got a quick, easy recipe for you with ingredients you most likely already have in your kitchen! Funny thing is this recipe was actually a little tougher for me to develop than I thought it would be. Limiting the ingredients and techniques I could use proved to be quite the challenge. With every round and tweak I made the cookie still tasted flat to me. Usually, I would brown the butter or add in something like non-fat dried milk powder or whole wheat pastry flour to give the cookie some more depth. Buuuuuut I promised this recipe would be crazy, super easy so I restrained myself and ended up discovering a secret ingredient that I might not have thought of before.