Sweet potato pie and separation anxiety

mmm, PIE!

Ohhh my goodness. It is amazing how fast the end of the year is going… how is it already April 17th?! Thesis presentation a week from today? Oh yeeesh. BUT. My advisor approved my final draft, hooray! Which means… I’M FINISHED WITH THE THESIS BEAST! Well, at least finished with the text… minor formatting and image addition notwithstanding. 62 pages of text? Goodness. Up till now, I’d never written that much in my life! And graduation in less than a month?! Almost time to be a real person! Imagine that. Cue ridiculous upheaval, ready… go! At least I’m ready to be finished with school bizz, but definitely not ready to give up the Nerdaerie (Kira and I have been having separation anxiety!). I am excited to move onto something different though :) Onward! Second star to the right, and straight on ’till morning (Since I occasionally resemble Peter Pan, I thought this was appropriate)! I’ll just keep on truckin’ with those diamonds on the soles of my shoes.

BUT. Besides all of that business, time to focus on the present! I’m determined to enjoy my last thesis-free weeks. Staff appreciation dinner at my sorority meant an excuse to bake… so pie happened! I’m a little bored with cakes and cookies, so this was a welcome change. AND it’s healthy. Mostly. Sweet potatoes for Vitamin A and beta carotene, plus coconut for healthy fats. Not to mention cinnamon for stable blood sugar, and nutmeg and ginger for digestive support!

I can tell when I get busy, as blog posts become few and far between. My dinners of late have been economical and rather uninspiring. BUT, lucky for you, I’ve got major baking-itch. So expect to see some new and interesting things coming your way soon. I’m also aware that pantries soon should be emptied, which means I’ll be trying to use up random baking supplies. Oh drat, extra baked goods? What a bummer!

yum.

Sweet Potato-Coconut Pie with Gingersnap Crust

Make one 9″ pie. Only slightly adapted from Whole Foods, here. This pie is delicious and simple, made with stuff I seem to always have around. Besides, it’s an excellent source of Vitamin A and beta carotene from the sweet potatoes, as well as good-fat medium chain fatty acids from the coconut.

crust!

For the crust:

  • 1.25 c crushed gingersnap cookies (I used Anna’s Swedish Ginger thins, as they were easier than fatty gingersnaps to pulverize in the food processor)
  • 1/3 c shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) butter (mine happened to be salted), melted
gingers! hehe.

For the pie!

  • 2 mega sweet potatoes
  • 3/4 c light coconut milk
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
//

Preheat the oven to 350.

Pulverize the gingersnaps by the method of your choice. I used my food processor, but I’m sure a rolling pin and a plastic bag would be just as satisfying, if you’re feeling the need to vent. Combine melted butter, gingersnap crumbs, and coconut, and stir until combined. Press this into your pie dish, evenly across the bottom and up the sides. Bake the shell for 15 minutes.

While the shell is baking, deal with the rest. Now, for the sweet potatoes: on account of laziness time constraints, I microwaved the sweet potatoes instead of roasting them. If you microwave them, poke them a few times with a fork, and stick them in for about 7-8 minutes. They should be soft to the touch when they’re done. If roasting (which I’m sure is also delicious), poke them with a fork and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 for 50 minutes. Let both methods cool before peeling the skin off and scooping out the nice orange interior.

Using a food processor (or a blender, as I did, since my food processor is teeny), puree the sweet potato flesh until smooth. Add in coconut milk, brown sugar, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and blitz until incorporated.

Pour the filling into the prebaked shell, and bake for 50 minutes, or until set in the center (no jiggly!). Mine was perfectly done at 50 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack, and serve or chill. (Btw, side note: this pie cuts very easily, even when slightly warm, extra bonus!).

Yum yum yum. Enjoy your antioxidants!

a convoy of Star Destroyers?

Sixty page thesis beast deserves cookies!

Because, you know, I reeeally like to store things in jars.

I apologize for the blogging delinquency! Between thesising and graduation looming in five weeks (how did THAT happen?!) I’ve been just a little busy… But I’ve been very productive in the thesis realm lately (which is good, since my presentation is two weeks from Tuesday—eeeeep! I’m starting to see Neo-Gothic architecture everyyyywhere, including in movies… and think in architectural terms. This has got to stop!), which needed to happen a little bit more than blogging. But now that my SIXTY PAGE beast of a thesis is edited in entirety, I’m down to just the conclusion! Hooooray, now I have time for some blogging catch up!

SO! Now I can share the tasties I’ve made recently with you. I promise I’ve still been eating (relatively) interesting things lately. Ish. Dinner needs work. But when I get off work and then thesis for a few hours, dinner gets last priority… steamed veggies + protein of choice + quinoa/polenta/oats is usually what happens… delicious, to be sure, but really, I’m getting bored. BUT! In two weeks, I will be DONE WITH THESIS! And therefore have much more free time for the important things (you know, like new active wear Pilates, eating, and cooking).

So. Enough of that… moving ON!

Happy Easter, by the way :) I ate the ears off my dark chocolate bunny, mmm. I’m not sure how to tackle the rest of it, as it’s solid, and I feel kind of mean if I try to stab it with any sharp implements…. Is biting more humane?! Yeesh. Chocolate bunny dilemma.

So besides neo-gothic skyscraper architecture and moral dilemmas regarding humane consumption of chocolate bunnies, I’ve been baking! I promised myself I would share other things besides healthy cookies, but oops. Cookies happened again, and they’re good! Besides, I liked the pictures. So you get cookies again, and THEN I promise something different. Promise! These cookies are lightly sweet and cakey, perfect for breakfast or a snack. The ingredient list is very forgiving, so feel free to substitute with whatever you have on hand.

jars make superior storage devices.

Banana-Yogurt Breakfast Cookies

I made these with Christine (workout and baking buddies! what a great combo, cookies + pilates), and I think we got about 20 smallish cookies. They could easily be made bigger if you want more breakfast-sized cookies. We adapted them from The Hot Plate, here!

Acquire:

  • 1/2 c plain lowfat yogurt
  • 3/4 c mashed ripe bananas (about 2 bananas)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp turbinado sugar (or honey, if you have it)
  • 1.25 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 c rolled oats
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • judicious handful of pepitas
  • sprinkling of chocolate chippies (We had minis, yayyy!)
oh no! it's escaping the jar. time to EAT IT.

Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease cookie sheet(s). In a medium mixing bowl, combine yogurt, mashed banana, olive oil, egg, vanilla, and sugar. Stir to combine. In another bowl, combine dry ingredients: flour, oats, flaxseed, cinnamon, baking powder and soda, salt, and pepitas/chocolate chips. Add wet into dry, and stir to combine. Drop by the heaping spoonful (or two, if you want massive cookies) onto your prepared cookie sheets, and bake for 10 minutes! Easy peasy cookies to appease your snacking gremlins.

mm.

Lunch of Champions

Lunch of champions.

Guinness brownies.

Need I say more?

Nah, not really. Except that I’m going to,  because these aren’t your average chocolate-stout cake/brownie… oh no. Within these babies lurks a whopping dose of antioxidants and dietary fiber like no one’s business. Which is probably why Vaccuum Vati (for whom these were made in the first place, as he luuurvs Guinness and chocolate) ate two for lunch. With the remainder of the Guinness. Lunch of champions, most definitely. You know why? Because these brownies are made with whole wheat flour and black beans! Yeeeahh. Black beans provide an unbeatable protein-fiber combo, which supports digestive health, blood sugar regulation, and cardiovascular health. Beans, beans they’re good for your heart…! Ha. Besides that, beans AND cocoa powder have tons of antioxidants and phyto-nutrients, which translates to the prevention of several cancer types, as well as a myriad of other health bonuses. YAYAY for beans! Especially when they’re disguised as dessert.

I for one LOVE beans straight out of the can (though definitely not with crumbled up power-bar thrown in there, like my chiropractor… oh Rob, what are we going to do with you?!), but these brownies are another beast entirely. They totally grew on me: straight out of the pan, I wasn’t a super fan, but after they cooled off, I found myself going back multiple times to “trim” the uneven pieces and swipe little crumbs that fell off when I was photographing. Definitely worth it. For lack of instant coffee powder, I used finely ground espresso, which might account for the stronger coffee flavor, but it pairs well with the Guinness and chocolate. And these probably have the BEST consistency of any black bean brownies I’ve tried: perfectly gooey in the center with slightly chewy edges. Deeelicious. Not super sweet, but just perfect (and this is coming from Vati, who swears by death-by-dessert sweets). A win all around, especially since you can fool your brain into thinking you’re eating a fully-fatted dessert ;) Besides all that, these are cholesterol-friendly, with no eggs, butter, or oil.

mmm.

Guinness Black Bean Brownies

I made a half batch, since these are mostly for Vati, but it still made a large-ish batch. I’ll give the half size measurements here, for an 9 by 9 square cake pan. Recipe with thanks from Farm Girl Gourmet, here!

Procure:

  • 7.5 oz black beans (1/2 a can), drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 c sugar*
  • 1/2 + 1/8 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp finely ground espresso (or instant coffee, if you have it)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 c stout beer (I used Guinness, what else?!)
  • 1/2ish c chocolate chippies

*More sugar than I would normal use in a recipe, but it’s necessary to balance the Guinness and the coffee flavor, and these still aren’t too sweet. If you want a sweeter brownie, feel free to add sugar to taste.

You'd never guess there were beans in these, would you?

Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease a 9 by 9 cake pan (If you double it, use a 9 by 13).

Drain and rinse the black beans, and then put half of them back into the can. Fill it with fresh water, just to the top of the beans. Toss all this into a blender or small food processor, and puree. Set aside in a smallish bowl.

In a larger bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, coffee/espresso, salt, and baking powder. In the smaller bowl, combine bean puree, vanilla, and beer. Toss this into the dry ingredients along with the chocolate chippies, and stir until just combined (try not to over stir). Pour batter into the prepared pan, and bake for somewhere between 20 and 25 minutes. I took mine out at 24, and they were perfectly gooey (but I don’t like SUPER gooey brownies, so bake according to preference: 20 for goop, 24 for gooey with chewy edges. Whatever you do, pleeeease DO NOT overbake them. There is nothing worse than dry brownies! Ew.) I recommend letting these cool completely before eating: the flavors develop and become just that much better :)

hello there, up close and personal brownie...

Workout. Get pumped! Eat. Love. Repeat as necessary!

semi-leaning tower of quinoa bars!

Happy first day of spring to you too, Salem. Thanks for the nice weather SNOW. What?! Like, actual snow this time too. About three inches of fluff on my car this morning… what is this?! Thankfully today was Workout Wednesday (ie the only reason I go to campus is to work out), or else I might have skipped class, hehe. (As Kira pointed out, at least I have my priorities straight. Miss a workout with Christine? NEVER! ha. But hey! Justified, as pilates/fitness instructor is my career of choice) Besides, I had to go give Christine her quinoa-banana bars. Yes. I am the kind of person who bakes treats for her fitness instructor. We have the same workout addiction after all: Must…work… out! And buy new active wear! Healthy snacks in exchange for a Pilates-Core body butt kicking? I think it’s a fair trade ;)

So now I’m nicely sore and contemplating going back out into the wet for work. And wet indeed it is now… we’re getting semi-frozen rain-ish-slush-gross now, because, well, why not? I have holes in my uggs, that’s why not. My heels got suspiciously damp when I was wearing them this morning… seriously, I had all these grand plans to take my winter-wear home over spring break to leave it, so that  I had less to take home in May. Fat chance. Watch, I’ll leave it all here and it’s be sunny and glorious the rest of April. Hmm. Maybe this is logical… maybe I should take it home?! Oh weather gods, how you love to mess with us here in Salem. I like snow, don’t get me wrong, but only when I can ski on it, pleaseandthankyou.

there's a rogue one!

Anywayyyy. Today I have bars for you! Healthy snack-type bars, like a cross between banana bread and a granola bar. They’re packed with all kinds of goodness: whole grains, peanut butter (YAY!), quinoa, flaxseed, bananaaaaas, and cardamom. Mmm. Can’t go wrong with the banana-cardamom combo, it’s fab. These bars also happen to be vegan, just for funzies! They’re perfect with a little (more) nut butter swiped on top (uh-oh, I can see the bottom of my peanut butter jar, mayday mayday!) and extra bananas :)

oh hey, up close!

Peanut Butter-Banana Quinoa Bars

Recipe only slightly adapted from here! Makes… 8 ish? I made it in a pie dish, and cut rectangles out of the center. Wedges would have been good too.

  • 2/3 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 c chunky peanut butter
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1/3 c cooked quinoa*
  • 1/4 c wheat germ
  • 1.5 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 3 tbsp turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 c milk bev (soymilk for me)
  • sprinkling of dark chocolate chippies!
barsssss

*I cooked 1/3 c dry quinoa in 2/3 c water, yielding enough for the bars + dinner leftovers :)

Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease a dish of choice. I made mine in a 9″ pie dish, since a square 9″ seemed too big.

In a smallish bowl, whisk together flour, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, and baking powder. In a largeish bowl, mash up the banana with a fork, and then vigorously stir in peanut butter until combined. (Added bonus: bicep workout!) Add in quinoa, wheat germ, flaxseed, sugar, vinegar, and soymilk, and stir to combine. Toss flour mixture and chocolate chips into the wet ingredients, and mix together until combined. Spatula-ize the batter into your prepared pan (Yes, spatula is a verb now), and bake for just about 30 minutes. A tester should come out clean when done.

Workout, feel pumped, eat, love! Repeat as necessary.

this may or may not be how my peanut butter disappears so fast...

Definitely Leprechauns.

a scone-clover! hehe.

Sláinte! Happy Saint Patrick’s Day :)

So. I had taken a fab set of pictures for today’s post (with natural light, even! Thanks, Oregon, for cooperating) yesterday, and they were all nicely stored on my camera, ready to be uploaded. This morning, when I uploaded them, I swear I put them into my blog photos folder. I know I did. So…

Where are they?! Nowhere to be found, is the answer I’m looking for. Maybe in pot of gold at the end of a rainbow? I suspect leprechaun involvement in this (definitely not user error. DEFINITELY leprechauns). Probably because I didn’t make a leprechaun trap last night… those sneaky little buggers! I better rustle up some green to put on… currently I’m not wearing any (that’s visible, anyway! ha.). I’ve always loved St. Patrick’s day! And yes, I am for-reals Irish (not just 1/365th), which is probably why I’m being targeted by those feisty little green men.

Blurry, but I still like it...

Anyway, after much grumbling, I took another set of photos (sadly not as good as the last ones), so you can vicariously enjoy the soda bread scones Kira and I made to celebrate! They turned out beautifully—the shape almost reminds me of a four leafed clover. Scoring the top of soda bread lets the fairies out (and promotes even baking, but that’s less fun), so I kept to this tradition and scored my scones into triangles… we now have a sprite-free apartment! To me, these scones don’t taste like traditional soda bread, but they are definitely delicious. And not at all bad for you, since they’re made with soda and yogurt rather than eggs and butter. Mmm… and, I have to say, they’re excellent with lemon curd (what isn’t?!)!

yum yum yum

Irish Soda Bread Scones

Very slightly adapted from Eat Drink Love, here! Makes 8 scones.

  • 3 c whole wheat pastry flour (We used half pastry, half whole wheat bread flour)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (optional but sooo good)
  • 1.5 c low-fat plain yogurt (Kira and I usually keep this instead of buttermilk, but buttermilk works here too)
  • 1/3 c chocolate chippies
  • 1 tbsp turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 425, and line a baking sheet with wax or parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. Make a well in the center, and add yogurt and chocolate chips (or other add-ins of choice). Stir to combine: the dough will look shaggy when its close to incorporated. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead into a circle (ish). Place onto prepared baking sheet, and slice into 8 scones (a knife works fine for this). Brush the tops with buttermilk (if using), and sprinkle turbinado sugar onto them for crunch factor :) Bake for 20 minutes, until the tops are golden! Eat. Preferably warm, with lemon curd. Mmm. Maybe share with a leprechaun, if one happens by…

Star Destroyer, anyone??

Eye-level with a cookie is the best place to be!

mmm, chocolate cooookies!

Once again, the weather gods are totally bonkers. I think they just like to mess with tiny humans for sport. Like, I’m sure they find it hilarious when I go trudging through some nasty weather after class, only to walk into my apartment and have it become immediately sunny. The roof is steaming, haha! Snow? Again? Is this really necessary?? And yesterday it was so incredibly windy, I thought if I wore a hat large enough I might lift off the ground like the Flying Nun (except not a nun. More like a flying Pilates-enthusiast in my yoga pants). Gusts up to 50 miles an hour?! Ridiculous. This weather is even more insane than usual, even by Salem standards. Sheesh.

So what do I do? Make cookies! Natch. When the weather gets icky, baking is always a good strategy. Especially when it leaves you with excellent snacking cookies, healthy AND delicious. Come to the Dark Side. I have cookies! Ha. I was getting irritated by the lack of snacks I had around, so these happened. Besides, I need more things to put lemon curd and biscoff spread on, in order to convey them to my mouth so I don’t feel silly eating them out of the jars. Not that I really let that stop me. But life is more fun with a cookie, obviously.

These have all kinds of healthy benefits! Full of fiber and cholesterol-friendly :) (as in, NO cholesterol, and only healthy fats + plant-based saturated fats, which are okay for those watching cholesterol!) They clock in around about 200 calories, making them a great pre (or post. or both) workout snack. The chia seed has made a cookie comeback, after several weeks (gasp!) of disuse… and we already know all about chia’s crazy antioxidant capacities. These cookies also feature healthy coconut and olive oil fats, as well as unsweetened cocoa powder for more antioxidants! Besides all that, apparently cardamom has great nutritional benefits too! I didn’t know this, but it helps digestion, contains lots of vitamins, minerals, and essential oils, and is another source of antioxidants! Those sneaky free radicals don’t stand a chance.

This recipe supposedly made 28 cookies. Psh. I made 11. Mine are perfectly sized ;) I don’t stint when it comes to cookies, especially when they’re good for me!

eye-level with a cookie. (the best place to be)

Chocolate Chia Cookies

Adapted from Vanilla and Spice, here! These cookies are really tasty: a little like gingerbread, as Kira pointed out. We both really liked the cardamom flavor in them, and they’re soft but chewy on the inside. Mmm. Makes somewhere around 11 or 12 2-3″ cookies.

  • 1.5 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cardamom (seems like a lot, but it’s not overwhelming)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c plus 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 c chia seeds
  • 1/4 c light coconut milk (any milk bev you have on hand I’m sure is fine, I wanted to use up some leftover coconut milk. I am SO GLAD I did)
  • 1/4 c unsweetened applesauce
  • 1.5 tbsp vanilla extract (yes, that is tablespoons)
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1/3 c chocolate chippies
I like to play with my food!

Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease a cookie sheet.

In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, cardamom, salt, cocoa powder, and chia seeds. In a smaller bowl, whisk together milk bev, applesauce, and vanilla. Add wet into dry, add oil, and then stir to combine. I found I needed to add a few tablespoons of water to make the dough come together. Fold in chocolate chips as you combine wet and dry.

Form into little balls and place on the cookie sheet—I kind of shaped mine and flattened the tops a bit. This dough is really easy to work with, extra bonus! Bake for 12-13 minutes, or until the tops feel firm when lightly touched. Mine were done at 12!

Apparently it’s decided to be sunny this afternoon… I’ll guess I’ll just have to eat my cookies and enjoy it :)

see? there I go again. Cookie towers are more fun than blocks. You get to eat the pieces that fall off!

My kitchen smells like sunshine!

Lemon-tastic day!

Saturday was a good day indeed… life handed me Meyer lemons! Or rather, Trader Joe’s handed me lemons. Or at least put them where I would see them and then pay for them, and THEN they were handed to me.

And then. They were mine. Citrusy goodness, miney mine mine. (And Kira’s. Sharing is caring!)

At which point I was confronted with a dilemma. What to do with these rare gorgeous lemon specimens?! Since Meyer lemons have such a ridiculously short season, I wanted to do something with them that would stick around for awhile. But what?! Soooo many options. Thus it happened that while I was dutifully thesising this morning (which, by the way, is 54 pages and winding down, hooray!) that some devious part of my brain escaped to Meyer lemon land to ponder the myriad possibilities of four lemons and a relaxed Sunday at home. At which point it apparently decided that lemon curd was the way to go! Mmmm, good work, brain. (Though I must remember to chastise it for skipping out on me, and leaving me to thesis with only partial brain cells. Psh. If I have to concentrate, EVERY cell up there has to be involved, it’s only fair)

glowing lemon curd :)

So after I finished up writing for today, lemon curd happened. And oh man, am I glad it did… there was not a drop spilled that wasn’t immediately swiped up and eaten. And the food processor that was very thoroughly “cleaned”… and the spoons…. and the spatulas… Well. You get the idea. I’ve loved lemon curd since I went to high tea with my lovely Mutti, and we found ways to put it on everything! Now all I need is some clotted cream and scones… hmm.. next weekend’s project?!

BUT. Surprise, surprise! Lemon curd only used TWO of my lemons. Which meant that I had an unexpected bonus of TWO MORE! So I made Sunday muffins… with lemons! (and chia seeds, natch) I’m sure they’ll be fab with the lemon curd. And then, when I was done with these, I realized that I still have one lemon left! Wow. This is even better than dead banana surplus… What to do?? Something to ponder in the next few days :)

mmm, sunshine in food form!

Meyer Lemon Curd

Curd. Such a *ahem* LOVELY word. Like, move one letter and it spells crud. But hey, don’t knock it till you try it: this is good enough to eat with a spoon. Oh wait, I already did that… Your turn!

From the Pastry Affair, here! I got… half a peanut butter jar’s worth?! Sorry for the inexact measurements… I would guess between one cup and 1.5 cups.

  • 1/2 c sugar (I used turbinado, which is why my lemon curd isn’t bright yellow)
  • zest of 2 Meyer lemons
  • 1/2 c Meyer lemon juice (I used the juice of the 2 I zested)
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tbsp butter (Mine was salted), softened and cut into chunks
spoons are a perfectly acceptable vehicle for lemon curd

In the bowl of a double boiler, combine sugar and lemon zest, and rub it together with your fingers until combined and smelling tasty. Whisk in lemon juice and eggs.

Over medium-high heat, whisk constantly as the curd cooks. (Think of it as your arm workout for today). It will begin to thicken: cook it until you see whisk-tracks, and then remove from the heat and let cool briefly. This took me probably about 15 minutes.

Scrape the curd into a food processor or blender (Strain first, if you want to eliminate zest pieces—I don’t mind the zest, and I don’t have a strainer… so I skipped this), and blend until smooth. Once smooth, add in butter chunks, a few at a time, blending after each addition, until all of it is fully incorporated.

Let chill in the refrigerator before using. Keep it in an airtight container (I use jars for EVERYTHING). Eat with anything, or just off a spoon!

muffins 'n curd

Meyer Lemon, Cardamom and Chia Muffins

I made 6, as per usual: double if you want a normal sized batch! This makes 6 huuuuge muffins. They’re not very sweet, which I like for snack muffins, but I’m sure the lemon curd would add just the right amount of sweetness :) Those who prefer sweeter muffins, make sure your bananas are super ripe, or else add a few tbsp of honey or brown sugar. *Update 3/14: These need lots of work—Kira and I aren’t super fans, we’ve decided. They need more flavor and more moistness… but that’s a project for another day! Adapted from Bright Eyed Baker, here!

  • 1.5 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 c meyer lemon juice
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c yogurt (I used plain, lowfat)
  • judicious sprinkle of chocolate chippies and frozen huckleberries (or frozen berry of choice, blueberry would be good too)
the muffins are so BIG!

Preheat the oven to 375, and grease yo’ muffin tin.

In a largeish bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and soda, salt, cardamom, and chia seeds. In a smaller bowl, mash bananas, and then vigorously whisk in (your second arm workout for today: your biceps can thank me later) egg, vanilla, lemon juice, and yogurt until thoroughly combined. Add wet ingredients to dry, and fold in chocolate chippies and huckleberries.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Mine went for 15 and came out perfectly.

Mmm. Enjoy your lemon-tastic day! My kitchen smells like sunshine now :) (And I have the added bonus of having sunshine in a jar in my fridge for later consumption, wheee!!)

like sunshine in a jar :)

Asteroids do not concern me, Admiral. I want those cookies, not excuses.

Come to the Dark Side... I have cookies!

For those who don’t know… or didn’t guess… I’m a nerd! But those of you who know me I’m sure are aware of this…I can’t imagine what clued you in. Can’t be the Star Wars cookie cutters or the perpetual references to Star Trek, nahhh. Must be the large Spock standup I have at home? Ah yes. Clearly that’s it. I fully embrace my nerdness, which is why all of you like to hang out with me… I make you giggle! (And most likely I feed you)

Anyway. Yesterday I was trolling through my piles upon piles of recipes to make… and THEN I remembered that I have wanted to make animal crackers for eons. Because I LOVE animal crackers. I was totally a Barnum’s kid, until one day I ate them and realized they weren’t as good as I remembered them. At that point, I switched over to more natural cookie/crackers to get my fix. But as I was munching through my Barbara’s animal cookies last night, I suddenly was seized by the desire to make my own! Why buy them when I could make them with things I already had on hand?

And so. I had a baketastic Friday and made animal cookies. Except there was one small fly in the ointment… I don’t, in fact, own animal cookie cutters. Oops. Hmm. What to do?!

Oh but wait.

I have something oh, so, SO much better.

Do you sense a disturbance in the Force?

Yes.

I do.

Wait for it…

Disregard the mixed messages... Yes, that is a Star Trek shuttlecraft. I thought it went nicely with the nerdy theme.

I own Star Wars cookie cutters! That’s right. I warned you. Nerdspiration, right there: healthy animal cookies shaped like Star Wars characters?! It doesn’t get much better than that. Kira and I dubbed them Force Cookies. Because… you know, strong in the Force, those who eat them are! (This might perhaps be attributed to the whole grains and flax, but hey, the Force is more fun). Besides, it’s really fun to nibble off Yoda’s ears first, like I always liked to eat the legs that broke off into the bottom of the box. Oh wait. I still do. I have to fight my cat for the bits though, since he likes them too (he’s sort of like a mini-Chewbacca… always thinking with his stomach! But so am I, so who am I to judge)… The Force is strong with these cookies ;)

heeheehee.

Whole Wheat-Flax Force Cookies

If you have animal cookie shapes, that’s fab too… I just needed an excuse to use my Star Wars cookie cutters. Anything on the small side is fine! I’d like to experiment and see if I can’t make a peanut butter version to add a little protein… watch this space for further developments! These cookies are lightly sweet and perfect when you want a bit of sweet but not full on dessert. They make great snacks (especially with Biscoff spread, ahem.. what isn’t?!). I got 22 cookies. Slightly adapted from The Cilantropist, here!

  • 1.25 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 c ground flaxseed (I like Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp Earth Balance (or butter, your call)
  • 1/3 c sugar (I used turbinado)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Darth Vader looks like he's about to inhale a flax seed...

Combine flour, flaxseed, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a mediumish bowl and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until combined. Add in egg and vanilla, and continue mixing. Add in the dry ingredients, hopefully in 2 additions (keep the mixer on low). Once the flour is just incorporated, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and form into a flat disk. Stick into a plastic baggie (or wrap in plastic wrap, if you have it), and toss into the fridge to chill for about 2 hours or overnight. I left mine just about 2 hours.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (or wax paper, which is what I used).

the Galileo is having a bit of a fly 'round my kitchen...

Once chilled, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface. I found that mine didn’t crack too much, and was fine with a little flour dusted on top (and on me, naturally… how is it that flour never seems to stay where I put it?!). Roll out to about 1/8 inch thick. Go nuts with your cookie cutters, rinse, repeat, until you’ve used all your dough. Since the dough is rather delicate, I found that using a pastry scraper (or other flat metal surface) to transfer the cookies to the cookie sheet was effective. Pastry scrapers are great since they have a nice sharp edge. Transfer all cookies to the prepped cookie sheet, and chill again in the fridge for half an hour.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350. Bake the cookies for about 7 minutes, until lightly browned and puffyish (bake them longer, if you want crunchy cookies—I took mine out at 7 and they’re a bit softer and chewier: perfect!). Let cool a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Remember, the Force will be with you… always (as long as you eat my cookies) :)

Asteroids do not concern me, Admiral. I want those cookies and not excuses!

 

Potassium deficiency ain’t got nothin’ on us!

cookie cantilevering

Wait.

STOP THE PRESSES!

Kira and I had… wait for it… TWO DEAD BANANAS in the apartment this morning.

This might seem unimpressive, or rather unextraordinary, under normal people’s circumstances, but let me explain. It is ridiculously hard to keep us in bananas. Here’s the deal: we shop for foodstuffs on Sundays… and buy upwards of TEN BANANAS. For two people. And they usually last us until about Saturday… with no dead bananas leftover for baking purposes. Which is sad, as baked banana things are suuuuper tasty. But seriously. The amount of bananas consumed in the Nerdaerie is astounding. Potassium deficiency ain’t got nothin on us!

So. Since I discovered this bonanza of potassium-rich goodness sitting in our adorable hanging fruit basket, I decided that cookies needed to happen! Natch. Besides, cookies are more fun than thesising on a Saturday morning. (Even when the bunnies are helping out on the thesising front, cookies still win by a long shot…besides, then when I actually do buckle down and work, I have cookies to put in my thesis cup! ha.)

the bunnies are helping me thesis!

These cookies are, like a lot of my cookies, good for you! I love having snacky-type cookies around, so I feel like I’m getting nutritional benefits out of my dessert. Enter the banana cookie! Bananas: excellent source of potassium, fiber, and prebiotics for calcium absorption. Raw almond butter: mufas! (monounsaturated fatty acids: healthy fats), and cholesterol-lowering properties. Oats: whole grains! Cinnamon: helps control blood sugar spikes. Coconut: all kinds of good things, including good fats. PLUS, these cookies have no added sugar, are vegan (with vegan chocolate), and are friendly for those of my peeps dealing with genetically high cholesterol (which really doesn’t seem fair).  These cookies have no cholesterol, so feel free to indulge :)

And besides all that goodness, these cookies are fab. Soft, and like Kira said, almost like a macaroon. Tasty, just like a Saturday morning should be! I may have start buying an extra bunch of bananas, just to let them spottify on me for baking purposes… too bad Kira and I would have to hide them from each other to keep them around longer than a few days!

natural light, look at that!

Banana, Almond Butter and Oat Cookies

Adapted from A Full Measure of Happiness, here! I got 14 cookies. Of course, I put a Hayley-type spin on these…I’ll give you one guess. Yep. CHIA SEEDS! How did you know?!

Rustle up:

  • 2 dead bananas (mine were spotty brown)
  • 1/2 c nut butter (I used crunchy raw almond butter for these)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • very scant 1/4 c canola oil
  • 1 heaping spoonful of unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 c rolled oats
  • 1/3 c shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • scant 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon (I think I would add more next time)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/3 c chocolate chips
mmm, oaties.

Preheat the oven to 350! Line a baking sheet with wax or parchment paper.

In a largeish bowl, mash up your banana, and then mix in nut butter, vanilla, and oil until thoroughly combined. In a smaller bowl, stir together oats, coconut, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and chia seeds. Mix dry into wet, and stir in chocolate chips (these are some low-maintenance cookies). Drop by the spoonful onto your cookie sheet: I crammed all of them onto one, since they don’t spread, and was able to fit 14. Bake for 12-14 minutes (I took mine out at 14ish), until lightly browned on the edges.

Eat. Feel virtuous :)

bunniesss! hehe.

Chocolate cake pairs wonderfully well with cello sonatas.

So proud!!

Okay so…

I know that generally speaking, you’re not really supposed to brag about how fabulous your cooking is. But that’s too bad, because I’m going to break that rule. Just for right now…

side view :)

Because I am SO PROUD of this cake! I made it for Ian’s Senior Recital on the cello (which was also beyond fantastic, congratulations, Ian! And thanks for playing Beethoven’s cello sonata in A, it’s my favorite :), and I just had to share it with you. Because it’s sort of like my child. That’s how proud I am! Besides, everyone deserves a little horn-tooting of their own every so often. I’ve actually already posted the recipe on this blog, but this version is like a classier cousin of the one I made before. If you want the recipe, it’s here! This is still one of my favorite cakes: malted chocolate cake, with malted buttercream! The stenciled patterns are done with malt powder. The pictures speak for themselves :)

Congratulations, Ian! You were BOMB.
mmm, frostingggg!
three layers of goodness.