Baked Vanilla Almond Donuts

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I woke up this morning with a new number….28. Wow. A whole year has passed in the blink of an eye. I can’t even believe how great 27 was to me. Some extremely wonderful things happened; I got married to the man of my dreams, gained an amazing family, traveled to some incredible places, worked harder than I knew possible, and  started this little project of mine that I like to call Honeyed Home. I have to say it was the best year of my life. I am so grateful and so utterly humbled for the amazing people in it. I don’t know how I got so lucky. For this birthday, I realized I am no longer one that needs anything extravagant or over-the-top; just some good food, close friends, and you could maybe throw in a day off with nice weather.  No program or schedule to follow, just the simplicity in knowing you have some good people surrounding you in your life. When you have no plans or expectations for a birthday it usually turns out for the best.

This is my new M.O. for future birthdays except for one thing; I will expect donuts. I think that I decided on a baked, health-ified, sprinkled donut as my own birthday breakfast because if there is one day a year I am going to really indulge, it’s going to be on my birthday. I don’t know what the rest of the day will hold, but at least I am certain about this one thing: donuts for breakfast. I once was “made fun of” for calling dibs on the old-fashioned buttermilk donut at a work meeting. I remember the moment when a co-worker said “No one calls dibs on old-fashioned’s”. Little did they know, there is a secret that lies within these perfect fried confectionaries. Buttermilk donuts have this impeccable glaze that creates an outer-layer that holds up unbelievably when dipping in hot coffee. This is not true for the old fashioned’s counterparts; like the crumb donut. Old fashioned’s are still my favorite and I totally had them in mind when I wanted to make my own at home. These donuts are baked, not fried, and this eliminated half of the calories. They are warmly spiced and sweetened naturally with honey instead of it’s refined white doppelgänger that normally inhabit these breakfast treats. I topped these donuts with a vanilla bean glaze to give it that extra gourmet touch and to recreate a little nostalgia in my old-time favorite. I do realize that vanilla beans are expensive but you just shouldn’t skip this fancy ingredient. Those little black flecks all throughout the glaze give it a special distinctive touch that affirms the “home-made-ness”. An important characteristic when cooking for your family, friends or even just for yourself; on your birthday.

This year I learned the significance in going all out to take care of yourself first and foremost; ultimately you are the one who can make yourself happy and I am sharing that with you in the form of a donut. I hope you enjoy and thank you for listening and giving Honeyed Home a chance at this new endeavor. Oh, and Happy Birthday to me!

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Baked Vanilla Almond Donuts 

Makes 6 Donuts 
Prep time: 5 minutes, Bake time: 10 minutes 
Inspired by: The Faux Martha's Vanilla Bean Donuts 

DONUTS:

1/2 cup almond meal

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp baking powder, aluminum free

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 large brown organic egg

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/3 cup unsweetened organic vanilla almond milk

2 TBSP clover honey

3 TBSP coconut oil, melted at room temp

GLAZE: 

1 TBSP organic half and  half

1/4 vanilla bean pod

1/2 cup+ organic powdered sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350º. Spray a 6-welled donut pan with coconut oil. Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a small bowl whisk the egg, add the milk, vanilla, honey and coconut oil and whisk to combine. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold together with as few strokes as possible (careful not to mix too much or donuts become too dense). Using a large spoon, divide the batter evenly into each of the wells (making sure to wipe the center clean so that a neat hole is formed). Bake the donuts for 10 minutes and then remove and let cool on a baking rack for 20 minutes.

2. While donuts are cooling make the glaze. Mix the half and half with the seeds of the vanilla bean in a medium bowl. Add the powdered sugar and whisk to combine; adding more powdered sugar if you like a thicker glaze. Once the donuts are cooled dunk each one into the glaze and then place back onto the baking rack to set for another 15 minutes (option to dust with sprinkles after dunking). You are always free to double the glaze recipe and dunk each donut for a second time to really ensure the thickness of the glaze. Best enjoyed immediately or store at room temperature in an air-tight container for a couple of days.

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Honey Almond Granola Bars

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I don’t know if this is true for you, but it seems that May is one of the biggest birthday months. Not only does this month include my own birthday but that of my sister’s, my grandmother’s, two co-workers, and several close friends. I guess August (9 months before May) is a month for romance! Last week I celebrated the birthday of one of my closest friends, whom is also my “spuddy”. A little term coined to describe my spin-class-buddy. We frequent spin class about four times a week together and we celebrated her birthday after one of our classes. A couple of her “spuddies” and myself decorated her spin bike with balloons, played her favorite songs, and brought treats for everyone to delight themselves in. What is better than sweating out 500+ calories with close friends and then sharing in food and a few cold beverages afterwards? I decided that for this party I would make granola bars. We needed a post-workout treat that wouldn’t put us back; we just hustled so hard and didn’t need to ruin all that with some sugary, processed, store-bought junk food. The granola bars were perfect; sweet, salty, filling, and had just the right amount of nourishment we craved. These bars are so simple to make and require only one large bowl, one pot, and one pan. Easy-peasy. The ingredients are simple yet carry so much wholesomeness. One of my favorite things about making granola bars is the versatility; combine flavors that you love, use whatever it is you have on-hand, and get creative. Just remember that the important part is to combine the right ratio of dry to wet ingredients to achieve the perfect combination of gooeyness and crunchiness.

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Honey Almond Granola Bars {Vegan, Gluten Free, Paleo}

Makes about 12 granola bars
Prep time: 5 minutes, Bake time: 30 minutes 
Inspired by Smitten Kitchen's Granola Bars 

2 cups gluten-free rolled oats

1 cup slivered almonds, chopped

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 cup mixed dried berries (I used a combination of golden raisins, cranberries, cherries, and blueberries)

1 cup brown rice crisp cereal

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 cup almond butter or creamy peanut putter

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup clover honey (or agave nectar if Vegan)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 300º and grease a 8″x12″ baking dish with coconut oil spray. In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients; rolled oats, coconut, almonds, berries, cereal, spice & salt. In a quart saucepan heat all the wet ingredients over low-medium heat to a smooth liquid consistency, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and pour over the dry ingredients. Using a large spatula mix well and then pour into prepared baking dish. Press firmly with the back of the spatula to achieve a flat surface. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until light golden brown. Let sit at room temperature for a couple of hours before cutting into bars using a serrated knife. Store in an air-tight container for up to a week or pack into neat little parchment packages and share with your friends!

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Wild Smoked Salmon & Avocado Canapés

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Today was one of the best days I have had in a while. My dear-sweet husband and I had the day off together (which rarely happens) and decided to take our breakfast outside. It was a gorgeous May day that intended for us to share a splendid a morning. We packed our snacks and headed to the local park to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine and the cool breeze. I packed us breakfast, snacks, and a little sparkling rosé. We picked the perfect tree to sit under, laid out a giant colorful blanket, and relaxed together for a couple of hours. I could have stayed in that morning forever. Everything was perfect. We talked with each other shared our future plans and even took a tiny cat nap while the sun beamed down on us. If every meal could be as perfect as that I would die the happiest woman.

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My most favorite breakfast is one that is light yet filling. I like a good balance of protein and fiber to keep me going throughout the day. Honestly, I think this is because I rarely get breaks at work. I try to eat something satiable before the workday to keep me going in case I don’t get another chance for the next 6 to 7 hours. This might not really be considered a recipe all-in-all, just an idea of what I like to eat pretty much on daily basis. I made two versions here, one that is a single serving that I nibble on in the mornings and another if you happen to be entertaining; canapé style. Canapés are a fancy word for finger-foods or small bites. These little single-serving toasts are so pretty and super fun to make. I like to use a European style bread for these and top with my favorite accouterments; avocado, hard-boiled egg crumbles, sliced shallot, whole-grain mustard, wild Nova Scotia salmon (also referred to as salmon lox), and dill all which give incredible flavor. Please feel free to use whatever you have on hand though; any herb or even a creme-fraiche base instead of the avocado. The hard-boiled egg crumbles add a bit more protein and you can find the perfect hard-boiled egg recipe here.

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Wild Smoked Salmon & Avocado Canapés

Makes 8 small round canapés

4 pieces of European style sliced bread (rye or pumpernickel work great too)

2 hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped into small crumbles

1 TBSP of whole-grain mustard, divided

1-2 avocados, scored into small pieces

1 package of wild smoked salmon

1 shallot, thinly sliced

Salt & Pepper, to taste

8 small sprigs of fresh dill, as garnish

1. Preheat conventional oven to 375º. Using a small drinking glass, shot glass, or 1″ biscuit cutter, cut out small rounds from the bread. Arrange the rounds on a baking sheet and bake for about 7-10 minutes or until toasted in a conventional oven, toaster, or toaster oven. Spread each toast with about a 1/2 teaspoon of whole-grain mustard.

2. Cut the avocados in half and remove the pit. Score the avocados into small chunks while they are in the skins (I find this much easier than peeling first and then chopping). Using a spoon remove the scored chunks onto a plate. Place a small amount of avocado on each toast, ensuring there is enough for each one. Sprinkle each avocado toast with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Add a few small slices of shallot and hard-boiled egg crumbles to each one. Top with a thin slice of wild smoked salmon and a sprig of dill. Feel free to add a bit more pepper or even red-pepper flakes if you want a bit of heat

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Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs

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You know that lunch item your parents made you so often as a kid that you just couldn’t even fathom eating… ever again? I don’t know about you but I grew up on egg salad sandwiches. My mom frequently made them for my sister and I and eventually I just couldn’t take it anymore. Don’t get me wrong, her recipe for these sandwiches is bar-none and ridiculously flavorful. I just might be burned out on them…for life. I do on the other hand love a good hard-boiled egg as protein packed low calorie snack. Now, I eat them with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of sea salt and black pepper; super filling and simply delicious. I remember the first time I tried making hard-boiled eggs shortly after moving out of my parents house around the age of 21. I thought what an easy task this would be, although I was shocked to find out that I just couldn’t get it right. Either the eggs were under done and the yolks uncooked or over done and grey in color. I finally called my mom, and begged for her advice. She taught me the simplicity in it and I haven’t forgotten since. You might already know how to do this, and your probably good at it, but if there’s anyone out there like my 21 year-old self, this trick might help you… Happy boiling!

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Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs {4}

4 large brown organic eggs

water

ice

1. Place the 4 eggs in the bottom of a quart saucepan. Cover the eggs with cold water making sure that they are entirely submerged. Bring to a rolling a boil and then immediately cover and turn off heat. Set the timer for 10 minutes and let them sit, covered. Meanwhile, make an ice bath in a large bowl. Once the 10 minutes is up, transfer the eggs to the ice bath and let sit for up to an hour or two before peeling or storing in the fridge for up to a week.

*Tip: It is easiest to peel eggs that are older. Try to wait a week after buying eggs before hard-boiling them.  Also, the longer they sit in the ice bath after boiling ensures easier peeling.

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Edamame & White Bean Tapenade

“Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.” -M. F. K. Fisher

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If there’s one way I could pick to eat a meal it would probably be on toast, crostini style, as a small plate. I love things in mini form and enjoyed with a group of friends. For me, small frequent meals are my favorite and I love any excuse to cook for a group in this same way. If I could have my friends/family over every night for a well planned out cocktails and tapas menu I would, honestly. This is why I truly adore food and cooking. I love the camaraderie surrouned by it and the innate feeling we all acquire within to feed each other as we talk and indulge in conversation. I believe that this is why we all, humans across the globe, share a common need to provide each other with a meal. Food is always the central focus when entertaining and that is because we only share our comestibles with the people who we genuinely love. Giving our own rations is the ultimate showcase of adoration and affection. That in a sense, is why I have such a passion for all of this. Food is the one thing that can bring us all together, all cultures, all sexes, all religions alike. We all have to eat, and we all understand that to provide a meal for your neighbor is the absolute form of kindness. So in my advice, I recommend that you invite your closest friends and comrades over for some bevies and a home-cooked spread. Extend the love and show them you care.

Tapenade refers to a common hors d’oeuvre served in France. It usually applies to a appetizer served on toasts with capers, olives, anchovies, and olive oil. I wanted to play up the provencal flavors and add a bit of fresh herbs, lemon, and hearty legumes. These crostinis would be incredible with a cheese or charcuterie plate and some crisp white wine on a picnic at the beach on a sunny weekend day. Or, perhaps just as a mid-day snack like I did. I recommend that you make this a day in advance to let the flavors develop.

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Edamame & White Bean Tapenade {Vegan}

makes about 18 crostinis
(prep time: 10 minutes, cook time: 5 minutes)
 

1 fresh baguette, sliced into 18 pieces

1 15 oz can organic great northern white beans, drained & rinsed

1/2 cup fresh edamame, shelled

1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped

1/4 cup capers

2 green onions, green & white parts chopped

2 TBSP fresh mint, finely chopped

2 TBSP fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, finely chopped

1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

1/2-1 tsp red pepper flakes (depending on your spice level)

1 tsp sea salt (or more to taste)

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper (or more to taste)

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1. Preheat your conventional oven or toaster oven to 375º. Slice the fresh baguette and add a drizzle of olive oil to each slice. Toast for about 5 minutes or until crunchy and slightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside.

2. In a large bowl combine all of the remaining ingredients and toss well to combine. Add a spoonful to each toast and serve immediatley. The edamame and white bean tapenade can be made up to two days in advance and stored in an air-tight container in the fridge. My advice: enjoy with a cold crisp sauvignon blanc and with a group of your favorite people.

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