3 Ingredient Roasted Butternut Squash

Fall is finally here which means back to school as well as lots of opportunities for fall baking. I’ve been settling into apartment life for the past month and now that classes have started again, it’s hard to find time to actually cook wholesome meals. Thankfully I had yesterday morning free to do a little meal prep, including roasting some squash from my grandpa’s garden. It makes a perfect side with pretty much anything. This recipe is extremely simple and easy too (only three ingredients), so it’s perfect for this busy time of year. Enjoy!

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Ingredients:

1 Butternut squash

2 Tbs. butter

2 Tbs. brown sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Cut squash into halves vertically and scoop out seeds to discard. Place the squash skin side down in a glass baking dish.
  3. Make three slices in each half of the squash, being sure not to cut all the way through. (See above photos.) This will allow the butter and brown sugar to flavor more of the squash.
  4. Spread the butter evenly on both halves and sprinkle with brown sugar.
  5. Bake skin side up for approximately 30 minutes or until the squash is soft a fork can be inserted easily.
  6. Squash can be eaten as is or scooped out of the skins and mashed. Enjoy!

 

Mocha Chocolate Chip Scones

I’m not sure what took me so long, but just a few months ago I discovered that coffee is actually really good! Back in first and second grade, my school had Friday cooking classes. Well one fateful week, the recipe was coffee milkshakes. All it took was one sip and I didn’t touch coffee for ten years! Yeah, it was that bitter.

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As it turns out though, I wasn’t actually scarred for life. One day, during my second semester of college, I thought I’d give it a try again just to see what I thought. Yes, I was in need of a caffeine source, but that honestly wasn’t the only reason. Besides, there’s only so much sleep coffee can replace anyway.

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I decided to only try it black because I didn’t want to get hooked on any sugary drinks. To my surprise, though it was bitter, I kind of liked it! And ever since then I’ve been drinking coffee…and baking with it. Because let’s be honest, what goes better with a warm cup of coffee than a mocha chocolate chip scone?

Makes 16 scones

Scone

Ingredients

Scones

1 Tbs. ground flax seed

3 Tbs. hot water

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup cocoa

1 Tbs. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/3 cup cold butter

1/4 cup half and half

1/4 cup coffee reduction sauce

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Glaze

Powdered sugar

Cocoa

Half and half

Coffee syrup

Directions:

  1. Make the coffee syrup according to the linked recipe and set aside.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk the flax and hot water to make an egg substitute. Set aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or with a silicone baking mat.
  4. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Cut in the butter and begin combining the ingredients using a pastry blender. Then, use your hands to make sure all the butter is evenly distributed and there are no large pieces left.
  6. Add the half and half, coffee syrup, and vanilla to the flax mixture and give it a whisk.
  7. Pour the liquid ingredients into the large bowl and stir until the ingredients come together. Again, you may have to use your hands to knead the dough since scones are by nature a little dry.
  8. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  9. Turn out the dough on a lightly floured surface and divide it into two pieces. Form each piece into a circle about two inches thick.
  10. Cut each circle into eight triangular scones.
  11. Place all 16 scones on the baking sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean when they are done (with the exception of some melted chocolate chip).
  12. While they are cooling, whisk together the ingredients for the glaze. I don’t have an exact recipe for it, so it can be adjusted based on your taste preferences. I recommend using roughly 1 to 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and 2 Tbs. cocoa (more or less depending on how much chocolate flavor you want). Then add half and half and coffee syrup until the glaze comes together. The consistency shouldn’t be liquid, but it should be thin enough to drizzle over the scones. If you want a mild coffee flavor, use more half and half and if you prefer a stronger flavor, use more coffee syrup.
  13. Drizzle the scones with glaze using a fork , whisk, or piping bag. Enjoy!

Coffee Infused Cake with Mocha Frosting

Hi everyone! Today’s recipe is the latest rendition of crazy cake (also known as depression cake). Crazy cake is super simple and has no eggs, milk, or butter, making it vegan. However, I made a traditional style buttercream frosting, but the whole cake is still egg-free and it’s also possible to use a vegan frosting if need be.

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What makes this crazy cake different than most, is the coffee infusion and mocha frosting! First, I made a coffee syrup with a recipe from The Spruce Eats . Then I mixed some into the cake batter, giving it a mild essence of coffee. But where the flavor is especially evident is in the frosting! It really takes the cake to the next level and is a pleasant surprise to anyone expecting just plain chocolate!

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Ingredients

Cake

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

3 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. vinegar

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 cup water

1/4 cup coffee syrup

 

Frosting

Powdered sugar

Unsweetened cocoa

Butter

Coffee syrup

Half and half

 

Directions

Start by making the simple coffee syrup. The recipe is very simple, only requiring coffee and sugar. The recipe is linked above.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease either an 8×8 baking dish or two round 6 inch cake pans. Any regular cooking spray will work as will this cake release recipe from The Barefoot Baker.

In a large bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Then add the wet ingredients without mixing them separately first. Stir until a smooth batter is achieved.

Pour the batter in the cake pans, ensuring even distribution if using two pans. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool. When they are, a square cake can remain in the pan and be frosted. For a round, layer cake, I highly recommend removing them from the pans, wrapping, and freezing them before attempting to frost and decorate. (I will cover this in more depth in an upcoming cake frosting tutorial.)

While the cake is cooling, making the frosting. There aren’t amounts of each ingredient specified, because just like pie crust, I never use an actual recipe. To give an idea, a layer cake will need roughly four cups of sugar and anywhere from a stick to a stick and half of butter. Then add half and half and coffee syrup, mixing with electric beaters until it just comes together. With a round cake, having a thick frosting is key, but consistency is less crucial with a square cake. A good test is to dip a finger into the frosting. If nothing, sticks it is too dry and if it feels very wet and sticky, it needs more sugar. If the consistency is just right, a little should stick, but it should feel thick.

I apologize for the ambiguity in the frosting recipe. I’m a firm a believer that the best method is to guess and add a little of this and that until it’s right. If you ever have questions though, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below! Enjoy!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hi everyone! It’s finally spring, but remember way back around Christmastime when I shared a recipe for  Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake? Instead of a standard graham cracker crust, I always like to use cookie crumbles, so I wanted to share my favorite recipe. If you’re looking for the perfect cheesecake crust material or just want a batch of warm, hearty cookies, this is just the recipe! (Also check back next weekend for new Easter cheesecake! 🐣)

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This original recipe that I adapted always caused the cookies to spread very thin and as a result, they were pretty brittle. I changed two things so they hold they’re shape and are more chewy than crisp. The first is that instead of using granulated white sugar, I substituted powdered sugar. I also chill the dough for 30 minutes prior to baking. Feel free to keep the dough in the refrigerator longer for convenience’ sake, but it won’t make anymore of a difference after the initial half hour.

Ingredients

2 sticks butter, softened

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 cup boiling water

1 tsp. baking soda

2 cups rolled oats

1 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions

  1. In a deep bowl, cream the butter, sugars, and vanilla.
  2. Add the flour and salt and mix until combined.
  3. Dissolve the baking soda in boiling water and add to the mixture.
  4. Fold in the oats and chocolate chips
  5. Chill the dough for 30 minutes to reduce spread. It can stay in the refrigerator for longer, but doing so won’t have any extra effect.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  7. Role the dough in to balls about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter and place on the baking sheets.
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until slightly golden on top.

Notes

  • Substitute raisins for all or half of the chocolate chips to make a delicious batch of oatmeal raisin cookies.
  • Whatever cookies you can’t eat within a few days can be stored in the freezer for a few months.

Roots 2017

Happy New Year, everyone! I usually don’t get into the festivities very much, but 2017 was a very exciting year for me personally and was also the first complete year for Roots. I first launched the site last September, so 2016 just the beginning as I wrote a few posts and got 60 views, nine visitors, and three likes. However, Roots really took off this past year and now has over 1,000 views and over 400 visitors! I know that doesn’t seem like a lot to established bloggers, but for the first year, I see it as a major improvement and accomplishment.

That being said, I couldn’t have done any of this without all of you! Thank you to all of my readers and followers for your continued support. I am very grateful to have gotten to know this amazing blogging community that I never even knew existed before I started.

More specifically, I want to give a shout-out to a couple of bloggers. First, a huge thank you to Author S at Ink Spatters Brought to Life for nominating me for several blogging awards! It has been quite an honor and has really helped me network with other bloggers. (I highly recommend you check out her blog too!)

Another gigantic thank you goes out to my super awesome sister Lauren at LuBerry Pie! (whose blog you should also visit 🙂 ) I wouldn’t have started blogging in the first place if it wasn’t for her. She has also been very helpful when it comes to social media. (I must admit it’s not my forte…for instance I just got an Instagram a couple of weeks ago.) Okay, so I might be a little behind the times, but Lauren keeps me up to date. She also helps with outreach, takes great food pictures, and even edits posts. Where would I be without her?!

As 2018 is about to begin, I can’t help but think about where I want Roots to be by next New Year’s Eve. Right now, my goals may seem far fetched, but with some hard work, dedication, and support, we can totally make it happen. Right now, I have 80 wonderful followers. A year from now, I hope to have over 1,000. It won’t be easy, but I know it’s possible. After all, yesterday I only had 63 followers! In order to make this goal a reality though, I need to get into a regular routine for posts. It’s easy to get caught up in school that I don’t have much time to be developing recipes or taking pictures. I’ll do my best to get a lot done while I’m on break, so when classes start again, I can still keep up.

Thank you again to all of my readers and followers at Roots! Like I said, I wouldn’t be where I am today without you. I have some big visions of where I want Roots to be a year from now, so I’m excited to see what 2018 brings. Here’s to year two of Roots! Thanks everyone! Cheers!

–Rachel Alexandra

Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad

Believe it or not, it’s suddenly the middle of August which means Labor Day is only a few weeks away! As cookouts are planned and gatherings are arranged, it’s nearly time to start thinking about what to make for clean, healthy, crowd pleasing side dish. This Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad is fresh and summery, but incorporates some fall flavors as well, making it ideal for the last barbecue of the summer.

0415171705a.jpgPreheat the oven to 425°F. Wash, peel, and cube the sweet potato and toss it with some olive oil. You can also add salt and pepper to taste if you wish. To make cleanup easier, put a sheet of parchment paper down on a baking sheet before spreading the sweet potato on it. Make sure there is only one layer of potato cubes so that it roasts evenly. After about 15 minutes, they should be slightly golden and tender, but not mushy.

Meanwhile, put the quinoa and broth in a pot or saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and let the quinoa simmer for roughly 10-15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. When it is done, it will be soft and fluffy and the germ ring of the grain will be visible.

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Since we’re waiting on the sweet potato and quinoa, now is a great time to start prepping the other ingredients. Chop the basil, cilantro, and scallions and set aside. Wash and juice the lemon as well.

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In a small bowl, add the minced garlic, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, olive oil, and lemon juice and give in a good whisk.

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When the sweet potato and quinoa are ready, put both in a large bowl. Add the cranberries, herbs, and onions and mix in the dressing. Salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy warm or cold–it’s delicious either way!

 

Ingredients

Salad

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup tricolor quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2 cup reduced sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup sliced scallions
  • 2 Tbs. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Dressing

  • 1/2 tsp freshly minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 Tbs garlic infused olive oil
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Wash, peel, and cube the sweet potato and toss it with some olive oil. You can also add salt and pepper to taste if you wish.
  3. To make cleanup easier, put a sheet of parchment paper down on a baking sheet before spreading the sweet potato on it. Make sure there is only one layer of potato cubes so that it roasts evenly. After about 15 minutes, they should be slightly golden and tender, but not mushy.
  4. Meanwhile, put the quinoa and broth in a pot or saucepan.
  5. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and let the quinoa simmer for roughly 10-15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. When it is done, it will be soft and fluffy and the germ ring of the grain will be visible.
  6. Chop the basil, cilantro, and scallions and set aside. Wash and juice the lemon as well.
  7. In a small bowl, add the garlic, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, olive oil, and lemon juice and give it a good whisk.
  8. In a large bowl, combine the quinoa, sweet potato, cranberries, onions, and herbs and  mix in the dressing. Salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Serve warm or cold. Enjoy!

Lemon Raspberry Scones

It’s finally berry season! The strawberries are fading out, but raspberries, blueberries, and black raspberries are still growing strong. Instead of eating all the berries straight off the bush, I decided I could set aside one cup of raspberries to make some amazing scones!

0701170946cPreheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking matIf using the buttermilk substitute, combine the skim milk and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside. If you’re using regular buttermilk, you don’t need to do anything with it at this time.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, flax, salt, and zest if using.Cut in the butter and mix it in using a pastry blender or by hand. If your butter happens to be frozen, try using a cheese grater instead of cutting it.

0701170954c.jpgWhisk the buttermilk, applesauce, honey, and lemon extract in a medium sized bowl.

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Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until the dough has come together, but do not over mix. If the dough is still very sticky, add some more flour. Gently fold in the raspberries.

0701171012b Turn out half of the dough onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a circle, roughly six inches in diameter. Using a butter knife, cut the circle into eight portions. Place each scone on the baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

0701171013 Bake for about 15 minutes or until the scones turn slightly golden. Test them with a toothpick when you suspect they are ready. Then place them on a cooling rack.

0701171148bWhile the scones are cooling, prepare the glaze. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, honey, milk, lemon extract, and zest (if using). Add more sugar until the glaze reaches the desired consistency. I prefer having it a little thicker so that it doesn’t soak into the scones. When the they are cool, drizzle the glaze over the top with a fork. Enjoy!

Ingredients

For the scones:

  • 3 Tbs buttermilk  or 3 Tbs skim milk + 1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (plus extra for kneading)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbs baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground flax seed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 7 Tbs cold butter
  • 3/4 cup applesauce
  • 3 Tbs raw honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon (optional)

For the glaze:

  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar (plus some extra for thickening as needed)
  • 1 Tbs raw honey
  • 1 Tbs skim milk
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. If using the buttermilk substitute, combine the skim milk and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, flax, salt, and zest if using.
  4. Cut in the butter and mix it in using a pastry blender or by hand. If your butter happens to be frozen, try using a cheese grater instead of cutting it.
  5. Combine the buttermilk, applesauce, honey, and lemon extract in a medium sized bowl.
  6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until the dough has come together. Do not over mix. If the dough is still very sticky, add some more flour.
  7. Gently fold in the raspberries.
  8.  Turn out half of the dough onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a circle, roughly six inches in diameter.
  9. Using a butter knife, cut the circle into eight portions. Place each scone on the baking sheet.
  10. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
  11. Bake for about 15 minutes or until they turn slightly golden. Test them with a toothpick when you suspect they are ready. Then place them on a cooling rack.
  12. While the scones are cooling, prepare the glaze.
  13. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, honey, milk, lemon extract, and zest (if using).
  14. Add more sugar until the glaze reaches the desired consistency. I prefer having it a little thicker so that it doesn’t soak into the scones.
  15. When the scones are cool, drizzle the glaze over the top with a fork. Enjoy!

Makes 16 scones