The ginormous dinner rut, and what to do about it.

easy pizza!

Okay, so I’m on a roll. Now that I’m not thesising, I have to come up with SOME way to entertain myself, right?! Heaven forbid I should be bored between now and graduation. Psssh..

Anyyywayyy. Like I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve been in a dinner rut the size of the Grand Canyon. BUT. I’m slowly starting to scale the walls towards more variety! Huzzah! I mean, I do love my steamed veggie-protein-grain combo, but hey, let’s face it… that gets just a wee bit old after awhile. At least, I like to eat this combo in a variety of forms, say like a quinoa bowl, savory oats, or a quesadilla. All delicious, to be sure. But I was… bored. And still (until yesterday) thesising. Which meant that dinner kind of got the short end of the stick. I did, however, stumble upon a fast and tasty quesadilla alternative in my quest for variety… tortilla pizza! Genius idea, you’ll see. It’s like… insta pizza. Especially if you like the super thin crust variety.

That being said, today’s post isn’t really a recipe, per se, but is rather more of a suggestion. This recipe is great since it’s infinitely adaptable… all you really need is protein of some form, veggies, and whatever else you want… cheese is nice, of course. I plan to keep experimenting with topping variations, since this has become my new favorite quickie dinner!

/

Tortilla Pizza!

Dreamed up by my hungry thesis-brain. Serves one!

  • Tortilla of choice
  • veggie variety
  • protein? If you want it… chicken is good, and so is sausage.
  • grated cheese of some form, however much depending on personal preference.
up close and personal

Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly de-stickify a cookie sheet (I used a light smear of coconut oil). Place your tortilla of choice on the prepped cookie sheet, and bake for 10 minutes. While the oven is heating/tortilla is baking, prep your toppings. For mine, I tend to steam a variety of veggies: usually mushrooms, bell peppers, and spinach, and use some form of animal protein, either chicken or chicken sausage. Cheese is up to you—I’ve used both cheddar and toscano, and both have been delicious.Top the pre-baked tortilla with toppings of choice, and bake for another 2 minutes, ish, until the cheese is melty and delicious. Slice and eat immediately while it’s gooey and warm. Mmmm.

The pizza in the photos was a combo of steamed veggies, Trader Joe’s chicken-apple sausage, and Syrah-soaked Toscano cheese. It was unbelievably delicious, which is what prompted me to share this. Before eating, I tossed on some cucumber for extra crunch.

Another fabby combo was steamed mushrooms, bell peppers, and spinach, Tillamook sharp cheddar, and chicken tossed with cinnamon and curry powder. That one was uglier though, so it didn’t get to star in the pictures… I fully intend on making a black bean version of this at some point in the very near future.

Yum yum yum :) Easy and delicious. And quick. Added bonus!

//

Now what?!

Nuts for coconut?

I can’t even believe I’m going to type these words…

Wait for it…

I FINISHED MY THESIS! For realzies. 92 pages? Check. Bound and printed? Check. Coherent (and relatively humorous) presentation? Check. Wait. NAILED. (Despite feeling I was going to go into cardiac arrest for the first few sentences, ha). I feel a thousand pounds lighter! [and mildly exhausted… this may be on account of running on adrenaline for the last 24 hours] Or maybe that’s just the removal of the pile of books that is now off my living room floor and back to the library…? It’s like my child. I sort of want to frame it, and keep it up on the wall forever and ever.

So…

I love the way citrus looks.

Now what?! So much free time, what to do, what to do?! Oh wait. That’s right. Bake more! And alternatively get more creative with dinner. Because I’m stuck in a dinner rut the size of the Grand Canyon. Except not tonight. Because tonight is a fancy-schmancy department dinner! YAY! Celebration time. And time to do all the fun senior-type things at the end of the semester (which is rapidly approaching, sheesh. Sloooowww for the cone zone, please). Which means that I have an excuse to bake a ton… in order to mitigate the amount of food to be carted back down to California when Kira and I move out, of course. You have to admit, this a is a perfectly valid excuse. Not that I really ever need an excuse to bake.

Except today. I was celebrating :)

mmm.

Coconut-Banana Bread with Lime Glaze

Mega thanks to Christine for showing me this (and for several ingredient donations)! It’s adapted from Cooking Light. I made 1/2 the batch and ended up with 2 mini-loaves, though putting it all in one loaf pan would be fine as well (just increase the bake time). I reduced the sugar quite a bit, as sweetened coconut is already pretty sweet. This bread comes together quickly and is DELICIOUS. Just sweet enough, with a pronounced coconut flavor… mmm. It’s also decently not so bad for you, considering it comes from Cooking Light. Win all around :)

look at all that toasty coconut

Acquire:

  • 1 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • very heaping 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 c Earth Balance (or butter)
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4ish cup mashed ripe bananas (the riper the better, obvs) (about 1.5 bananas)
  • 1/8 c plain, lowfat yogurt
  • 2 tbsp rum (don’t leave this out, it’s YUMMY!)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • heaping 1/4 c shredded sweetened coconut + 1 tbsp (mine was probably closer to 1/3 c… I loooove coconut)
  • optional: chocolate chipppies! (But really… why would you leave these out?!)
  • 1/4 c powdered sugar
  • juice of one lime
/

Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease your loaf pans of choice. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. In a larger bowl, combine Earth Balance and sugar with a hand mixer until fluffy. Beat in the egg until well combined. Add in banana, yogurt, rum, and vanilla, and beat to combine. With the mixer on low speed, add in flour until just combined. Stir in 1/3 c coconut and chocolate chippies, if using. Pour batter into the prepared pans, and top with remaining tbsp of coconut. Bake for about 30 minutes for the mini loaves, until a tester comes out clean. (Or about an hour for a larger loaf).

While the bread is cooling/baking, combine powdered sugar and lime juice, and whisk until smooth. When the bread is cool, drizzle the glaze over the top of individual slices, or poke holes in the bread and drizzle over the whole loaf… up to you!

Mmmm… post thesis and post workout zen :)

creative storage, heheh...

Baking > Stress Butterflies

mmm, antioxidants!

I warned you about the baking itch, did I not? Or wait. Let’s be real: the stress baking prior to my thesis presentation on Tuesday! Butterflies, I will defeat you with copious amounts of baked goods! So there. Baked goods and lots of yoga. Stress ain’t got nothin’ on downward dog. (Or this is what I will tell myself, ha)

So, since I had a spare afternoon yesterday relatively unexpectedly, I made a tart! Because what else am I supposed to do with that time? That’s right, I thought you’d agree that a tart is clearly the superior option.

This tart was/is delicious! I’m so pleased with myself since I winged bits of it, and threw a bunch of elements together into a credible whole. YAY! Love when that happens. The flavors all work really well together, and it’s even semi-healthy! Or at least not bad for you… I’m sure I can come up with some nutritional benefits: coconut is always good; the crust is vegan; blueberries contain LOTS of antioxidants, and cardamom has some spice-type benefit, I’m sure. And it gave me another excuse to use my tart pan, and that awkward half bag of frozen blueberries in the freezer.

AND I baked it whilst wearing one my pearl necklaces. Which made me feel lots like Julia. Especially when my tart turned out fabby! Don’t forget, you’re all alone in the kitchen! Bonnnnnn Apetit!

crust! I always have fun with my tart pan...

Blueberry Tart with Coconut-Cardamom Pastry Cream and Almond Crust

Makes one 9″ tart. I used a really basic crust recipe, and adapted the pastry cream from Delicious Shots, here! Assembly is really easy, and the chilling times are probably the longest part of this recipe. Fresh blueberries would be wonderful, but frozen work just as well—I defrosted them in the fridge and then in the counter for a bit. The crust is suuuper crumbly, but don’t worry, you can press it into the tart pan and it’ll behave.

/

Tart Crust:

  • 1.5 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp Earth Balance
  • 1.5 tbsp almond paste
  • 2-3 tbsp cold water

In  a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add in butter and almond paste until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Add water until the dough comes together. Don’t worry if it’s crumbly—mine was, and turned out fine. Shape into a disc, and wrap in plastic. Let it chill in the fridge for 30-45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375. Once the dough is chilled, roll it out to 1/8″ thickness on a floured surface, and press it into your tart pan, evening out the sides as you go. Prick the bottom with a fork, and line with foil and weights (I used rice. Beans are fine too, or pie weights if you’re swanky and have cool kitchen tools like that). Bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned. Mine went for 20 with the weights, and then 5 without them. I’m sort of a crust noob, so mine seem to come out ‘needing improvement’. Granted, I usually think they taste great… this one maybe could have used a tablespoon-ish more Earth Balance, perhaps?

cardamom flecks!

Coconut-Cardamom Pastry Cream

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/4 c turbinado sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 c light coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • between 1/4 and 1/2 tsp cardamom, depending on preference (I used more like 1/2, since Kira and I are cardamom nuts)

In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and half of the sugar until light yellow in color. Toss in the cornstarch and the flour, and whisk until combined. Set aside. In a small saucepan, combine coconut milk, vanilla, and cardamom, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Temper the milk mixture by pouring it in a steady stream over the egg yolks/sugar, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from scrambling. Once the two are completely incorporated, pour the mix back into the saucepan, and bring to a boil again, still stirring constantly (Sorry. Lots of stirring. But oh hey, arm workout!). The custard will start looking thick and your whisk will make tracks. Boil for just one or two minutes, and then remove from heat and pour into a bowl to cool. I used a shallow one, so it would cool faster… and place a bit of plastic wrap or sandwich baggie over the surface to prevent a skin forming. Once cool, place in the fridge for further chilling.

tart. Sans antioxidants.

Assembly! (Aka the best part)

  • Fruit of choice. I recommend blueberries… I used about 5 oz, or half a bag of frozen.

Pour the custard into the cooled crust, and smooth it out until it looks pretty…and then top with fruit! Easy peasy. And delicious. And looks like you put so much more work into it than you actually did. Shhh, I won’t tell :)

Best eaten the day it’s made, but it still makes excellent (if not quite as aesthetic) leftovers. Store in the fridge!

yumyumyum

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 :)