Birthday Muffins for Marion!

natural lighting?! In OREGON? no way.

Ohhh my goodness, thesis brain! ouch. It hurts.

Today, I worked so long that Pandora thought I had disappeared. Nope. I was still writing… but the funny part about it was that I was so into it, I didn’t notice the music had stopped! Whoops. Whatever, I’ve been insanely productive, huzzah!

Not only that, but I came up with a great idea. You see, today at work I was filling ‘testing cups’ for the kiddies. You know, like pencils and little pieces of candy to boost their testing potential. Gum, too, because apparently chewing gum while testing improves performance. Who knew?! And seriously, these testing cups are a genius idea! Added incentive for the little kiddos to do well on their tests. They should give these to college kids. Really. I would be sooo much more motivated if I got a fun treat cup with my name on it. Which is why I’ve decided to make my own! Hadihah. I think I’m going to take one of my mugs and puffy paint my name on it… and then fill it with things to motivate me to thesis. Like food. And sprinkles. And stickers (because I like to indulge my inner 5 year old, shhhh). I wonder if I could fit yoga pants into a mug? Hmm. Something to ponder.

See? Genius. With this system in place, there is absolutely no reason for me to procrastinate thesising. Not that I’ve been slacking in the slightest, as Pandora can attest: I have 20+ pages! YES. And still kicking… I’m nowhere near close to covering everything. But still. A thesis cup sounds like an excellent idea :]

ANYWAY. Sorry for the long ramble. Tired brain=rambly brain.

In honor of Marion Cunningham’s 90th birthday today, I made muffins! I don’t have a copy of the breakfast book here, but I thought I’d make something breakfasty (besides, Kira and I were out of snacks), since she is the breakfast queen! I am forever in her pancaking debt. Happy Birthday, Marion!

Breakfast muffins for Marion!

Quinoa Cardamom Muffins

Adapted from Martha Stewart, here!

I made a half batch, as per usual, so I’ll list those measurements here. Makes 6!

These are BOMB muffins. Super moist and dense, but in a good way—the quinoa adds a nice texture. I LOVE cardamom, so I was happy to note that the flavor is pronounced in these little puppies. I know you’re not supposed to brag about what you make, but whatever. Totally violated that when I texted Kira that she must immediately eat  one of these on account of their amazingness. Yes. They are. Make them, you must!

muffin floorplan? yeeesh, too much architecture on the brain! muffins > thesis.

Procure:

  • 1 c cooked quinoa
  • 1 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 c brown sugar, not packed
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 c unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 + 1/8 c soymilk (or whatever milkish beverage you have handy)
  • a judicious sprinkle of chocolate chippies and frozen berries (I used huckleberries)

Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease a muffin tin. Combine all dry ingredients, including quinoa, and stir to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk together applesauce, egg, and milk. Add wet to dry, and stir until just incorporated, then add in berries and chippies. Avoid overstirring! Plop batter into tins and bake until a tester comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

These are especially delicious with a smear of peanut butter (what isn’t?!). I see peanut butter+cardamom cookies in the very near future!

Impatience-Free Baking is a virtue

Princess Leia's hair...?

I really do love cooking long and complicated things. I mean, like Austrian pastry complicated status. Something that makes you feel ridiculously accomplished at its completion.

However.

I might, perhaps, love instant gratification just a little bit more. Wouldn’t you rather have a cookie NOW, instead of waiting for the dough to chill for 24 to 48 hours?! Pshhh, I don’t plan that far in advance. I don’t even plan far enough in advance to have the butter softening on the counter. That’s what the microwave is for, jeez. Call me lazy. And I am. But. I make up for it occasionally with really absurdly complicated things…

This is not one of those things. Because let’s be honest, yeast is annoying. I mean, yeast is great when I want to make bread or pizza and I have lots of time and I’ve been thinking about a recipe for a long time. When I want gooey delicious goodness RIGHTNOWINFRONTOFME, it’s not so awesome.

Which is why I turned to this no-rise, no-wait, (nearly) instant gratification recipe for cinnamon rolls. That and because Vacuum Vati LOOOVES cinnamon rolls (like, as much as I LOOOVE chocolate chip cookies. that’s how much). AND because I happened to have all the ingredients handily to hand. AND it [was] the holidays (sorry, this was supposed to be a post around Christmas, oops). But it’s not like it has to be the holidays for you to make these… in fact, so not. Cinnamon rolls never need an excuse. Just like cookies! Wait. Let me clarify. Good food that makes you happy NEVER needs an excuse. Especially when you eat it with people who make you happy. Especially when there is no waiting involved. Even better!

gooey deliciousness

Impatience-Free Cinnamon Rolls

From the Dainty Chef, over here!

These are delicious, as a) they’re filled with gooey goodness, but also because b) they have an interesting mix of spices in the filling—cinnamon, cardamom, and allspice. It lends them an unusual taste, a nice change from standard cinnamon rolls.

For the dough:

  • 3/4 c low fat cottage cheese
  • 1/3 c low fat buttermilk
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2.25 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the gooey delicious goodness:

  • 2/3 c brown sugar
  • 3/4 oz (1.5 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
such an adorable little spiral... soon to be decorating my stomach.

Preheat the oven to 400.

In a food processor, combine cottage cheese, buttermilk, sugar, melted butter, and vanilla, pulsing until smooth. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and pulse just until the dough clumps together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead several times. Roll it out into a faintly rectangular shape… mine was a bit lopsided, although that turned out fine, as it made for varying roll sizes (nice for my family, and for Vacuum Vati, who got the big ones).

Combine the filling ingredients in a small bowl (brown sugar and spices). Brush the dough with the 1.5 tbsp of melted butter, leaving a small border. Press the sugar-spice filling into the dough, evenly covering the whole surface. Starting at the long edge, roll the dough into a log. Pinch the seam, but leave the ends open.

Using a sharp knife, cut the rolls into equal pieces. Mine fit perfectly into a standard loaf pan, but if you have fatter rolls, an 8″ square cake pan works just as well. They should fill the pan, but small gaps are okay. Bake for about 20-22 minutes (I took mine out at 20, and they had a perfectly gooey interior).

I frosted mine (because, seriously, cinnamon rolls are SO NOT complete without frosting) with the frosting/glaze that I use for Crazy Chocolate cake. I never measure, but it’s essentially powdered sugar, Earth Balance spread, and vanilla extract. Mix like crazy until you have the taste/consistency you want… and swipe over your cinna-rolls when they’re still slightly warm. The glaze will harden as it cools.

Drool. Eat. Gloat, since you only had to wait a little while for the oooewygooeydeliciousness to appear in front of you.

I do apologize for the glut of dessert recipes recently… I promise something healthy… soon! Ish. We’ll get there. Eventually…

Squash-Powered Cat

butternuttttt

So I really wasn’t planning on blogging about these pancakes. I mean, laziness and whatnot took over, and I was going to blow it off. BUT THEN. Semi-epic things happened, and I changed my mind.

As in, I have discovered that my cat is squash-powered. He prefers butternut.

There I was, casually opening the can of butternut squash, when Nosh (my Maine Coon goofball) comes sauntering over, looking decidedly interested in what I was doing. I looked down at him. He looked wide-eyed and cutely up at me. I said, “Surely you can’t be interested in eating this…”. He continued looking up at me, with a totally clear agenda. Whatever, I said. I let him sniff the can… and then went on with what I was doing. He kept watching. At which point I spasmodically dropped a spoon on the floor (the spoon covered in squash puree). I picked up the spoon and pointed out the squash on the floor to Nosh… who quickly trotted over and ATE. IT. ALL.

What?!

Since when do cats like squash?! But wait. It gets better.

Nosh is on the right. Jessie apparently wasn't interested in the squash...

Mom had gotten involved… and kept feeding him little bits of puree out of the bowl. (Which he ate. All of it) By this point, I’d finished at least a few pancakes, and since one was a total flip-fail (as in, it semi-splattered all over the pan…), we decided to feed it to him and see if he liked it (Keep in mind, my cats don’t normally get people food… excepting the odd bit of fish, they don’t eat much of what we do, which makes this SUPER WEIRD) (They did have a weird incident with refried beans, ages ago—perhaps they just like things in cans?!). Nosh proceeded to eat a pancake… and a half. Probably. I lost track, but what?! He’s obviously my cat, if he likes pancakes that much, hehehhe :]

Squash powered cat?!

Anyway, these pancakes were deeeelicious. They were originally supposed to be pumpkin, but the pumpkin we had wasn’t good anymore, so butternut happened. Much to the delight of Nosh, apparently. Who then proceeded to take a massive catnap (and by massive, I’m refering to the fact that when he sleeps, Nosh acts like one of those inflating sponges that you soak in water. Get up for two seconds, and good luck getting your spot back from the amazing expanding wonder!), and sleep off all he ate. And dream, too, with lots of chewing. I bet he was eating squash in his sleep! heeehe.

Pancake Cairn!

Butternut Squash Pancakes

Adapted from the Betty’s Diner Pumpkin Pancake recipe

  • 1.25 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 3/4 c butternut squash puree
  • 1 c 1% milk or your fave nondairy
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Combine flour, spices, salt, and baking powder. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, squash puree, sugar and egg yolks. Add liquid to dry all at once and stir to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites until foamy or until your arm falls off. Fold into the batter. Do the pancake dance. Eat. Feed to your cat and watch him dream about them later :]

butternuts are rather awkward squash

Cleverly Averted Cornbread Fail

no, this is not *just* cornbread...

Cornbread is a hot commodity in this house. Like, better eat it while you can, before it gets sucked down into someone’s stomach (perhaps the resident vacuum cleaner, Vati?!). And by this house, I mean home home! As in, not Salem. Someoneeeee is home for the holidays, hoorayyy! Time for hopefully epic holiday eating, which translates to epic holiday blog fodder. Everyone wins :]

Anyway. Where I was going with this whole cornbread biz. Last night, to accompany tree-decorating, we decided on chili and cornbread (Because one without the other is clearly sacrilege). Cornbread is the first thing I remember learning to make, so I have rather a fondness for it…and besides. It’s delicious. So I got busily to work on the cornbready goodness…measuring here, whisking there… and into the oven it went. Simple pimple, right?

So not.

Twenty minutes later, I took it out. There appeared to be a number of things wrong with it. It was brown. This is a crime. Cornbread should not be brown on the bottom. Lightly golden, yes. Brown? NO. Borderline burnt? Absolutely NOT. Strike one. Second. It didn’t SMELL like cornbread. Which is not necessarily a deal breaker, but tipped me off there might be something funky with this particular batch. Strike two. Thirdly. I tasted it.

EW.

Blandest, most boring cornbread everrrr. Apparently I left something out?! Because I’ve made this same recipe with the SAME ingredients before, and it was mega tasty. Oops. Strike mega-three. After mutti and vati also tasted it and we all decided that it was not a fit partner for chili, I decided to make another batch (different recipe—I was too irritated at the last one). I really didn’t want to compost the last batch though—it felt wasteful, and I’m obviously not one to throw out food. So instead… I had a brilliant (if I do say so) idea to make it into a sort of cornbread-bread pudding, like for a breakfasty type dish! Huzzah, for frugality! AND. I winged it. But it was super tasty—Vati the Vacuum (hehhe) had two slices for breakfast. It’s lightly sweet but not overly so, and nice and corny—tasty with a drizzly of maple syrup.

Besides, I was quite proud of neatly averting a cornbread crisis… with the creation of some awkward cornbread pudding!

Natural light! Hooorayy, California!

Awkward Cornbread Pudding

Adapted from… the jungle of my brain. Makes one 8 by 8 pan.

For the cornbread: I used a failed version (obviously), but I’m sure normal cornbread would work too, you might just want to reduce the sugar. Mine was originally sweetened with a scant 1/4 c honey. Use your favorite, and adjust sweetness to taste. For a dessertier bread pudding-type, I would use cornbread that is already on the sweet side.

  • 1 8 by 8 pan of cornbread, cut into 1/2″ chunks. Use mostly the soft middle, and some of the crust for texture
  • 2 eggs
  • 1.5 c 1% milk, or non-dairy sub of choice
  • a good slug of cinnamon
  • a few grinds of fresh nutmeg
  • brown sugar to taste (I used somewhere around a heaping tablespoon, perhaps a bit more)
  • 1-2 tsp turbinado sugar
mmm, maple

Preheat the oven to 350.

Place chunks of cornbread into a lightly greased 8 by 8 pan. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour the liquid over the cornbread in the pan, making sure to even distribute it. Sprinkle your desired amount of brown sugar evenly over the surface of the cornbread, and then use a fork to turn it under, and completely saturate the cubes of bread in the milk mixture. Sprinkle turbinado over the top (creating a yummy crust-type thing). Bake for just about 25 minutes, until custard is set, and a tester comes out clean. You shouldn’t see too much really liquidy/mushy business in the pan, but it also shouldn’t be too dry (you don’t want dry custard, ewww). Keep in mind that it’ll set up a bit when it cools in the pan. Just about 25 minutes should do it.

Eat. Preferably for breakfast, with maple syrup. MMmmmm… And revel in your cleverly averted cornbread fail.

I apologize for the slight overexposure... I was way excited to have natural light in which to photograph. Thanks, Oregon. NOT.

Professional-looking Pancakes!

Pancakes.

I know, I know. Again, you say? YES. Again. For a number of reasons: a) I make them about once a week, but never the same kind two weeks in a row (so it keeps it interesting), b) they make a FAB dinner, c) Ian was coming over and I thought he might like them (which he did, YAY!), and d) I had a half a can (here we go again…) of coconut milk in the fridge (what a terrible problem, NOT. I LOVE having leftover coconut milk). Oh. and e) I LOVE THEM. Why NOT make them once a week, I ask you? You should try it… designate a day, like “Pancake Tuesday”, and make a new kind every week. Ask Harriet… or Ashley… they know I’m a big proponent of pancake day. Thursday oddly seems to be the day of choice at this point in time…

Wow. I just reread that paragraph and realized how many parenthetical comments I made… I must be a very parenthetical person. Or maybe I think in parentheses. Hmm. Something to think about (parenthetically) (hahah).

ANYway.

These coconut pancakes are perfect. Fluffy, symmetrical, and beeeeautiful. And delicious. Of course, I’m sure their fluffy, symmetrical beauty is largely due to my superior pancake pro abilities… but it also might have a teensy bit to do with the recipe… maybe. Or not… it’s all in the wrist flick. Become one with the spatula!

I love the pancakes because I get a nice coconutty flavor, without it being like BAM, in your FACE coconut! Which is good, in some situations, but I find that pancakes are not one of them (think along the lines of coconut cream pie, if you want BAM). These are light, fluffy, and perfect with bananas (and chocolate, I might add…AND almond butter, of course!). There’s just enough coconut flavor without being overwhelming. They made a lovely Thursday night din din :)

So! Here’s the recipe. It’s really simple… like most of my pancake recipes, I find the simpler, the better.

beeeautiful!

Coconut Pancakes

You know the drill…. mix dry, mix wet, mixy mix mix. Cook! Eat. Here are the particulars.

  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 egg
  • 1.5 tbsp olive oil (or canola)
  • 1 c light coconut milk (I was a bit short this time—you can make up the difference with soymilk or milk, whatever you have)

These are really good with sliced bananas and chocolate chips thrown in :)

up close and personal, hehehe

It’s not easy being green…

that's right. GREEN PANCAKES.

Ok.

I just have to say, in my defense… I don’t normally make green food.

I mean… I EAT green food. You know, like that color produced by chlorophyll. Like plants. Mmmmm, plants. I do love them. Especially the green ones! Like broccoli, bok choy, celery, lettuces. Um. I could go on, but in the interest of holding your attention.. *ahem* Let’s move ahead!

So.

Since I’m currently roomie-less (but NOT FOR LONG, YAYYYY!!!), I’m purchasing and consuming for one stomach (and its resident gremlins). I’m discovering this to be an exceptionally fun challenge, not only to eat all the stuff in the fridge before it goes traveling southward, but also to eat a varied, balanced, and nutritionally sound diet. BUT. This diet also has to be interesting. Why would I EVER eat boring food? Boring food is, well…BORING. Life is too short and my stomach is too small (sadly I’m not a cow with five stomachs, why weren’t humans invented like that, I ask you?!) to eat lame food.

Right. Sorry, that was rather tangential. ANYway. As I was saying, before I so rudely interrupted myself about boring food… In my travels through the recesses of my fridge, I happened upon some spinach. I knew it was in there, of course, but I wasn’t exactly sure how I wanted to use it. I also have three lonely mushrooms, just in case anyone cares. And NO, they are NOT going into pancakes, ewwy ew ew.

As I was staring down the spinach, I had  a BRILLIANT PLAN! (Because anything involving your adorable and tiny *PURPLE* food processor is a brilliant idea) I decided to make spinach puree and… wait… ADD IT TO PANCAKES! Can you say nutritional value, all in one tidy little yummy package? Because I can. And there’s more, ooohhhh yes. They were DELICIOUS! Spinach is so totally going into my pancakes from now on (except with a certain Pancake Friday buddy–you know who you are!)

So. Without any further babble, here is the recipe! You’ve seen it before in other forms, although the base for this is the most basic.

down at pancake level

Spinach-Oat-Buttermilk Pancakes (Serves one with a cow stomach, or one normal human plus leftover breakfast!)

Hugely adapted from Marion Cunningham’s Breakfast Book

Do the pancake shtick! Mix dry:

  • 3/4 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • very scant 1/2 tsp salt

*Tasty add-in: I chucked in about 1/4-1/3 c rolled oats. I highly recommend this! It gives them a bit more body and lovely chewiness.

Mix wet in a separate bowl:

  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • some melted something (I used Earth Balance… the original recipe calls for 3 tbsp, I usually put in a spoonful or so… or not. Sometimes I leave it out. Butter or olive oil are fine too)

*To the wet ingredient bowl: ADD YOUR SPINACH! I’m not sure how much I actually used, probably about 2 c? I had about 2/3 or so of a bag left, and I used mostly all of it. It’s not very exact, but however much you want is probably fine.

You see? Healthy and delicious.
BABY PURPLE FOOD PROCESSOR!!

Mix wet into dry! I threw in a finely chopped banana, as per usual, which I also highly recommend. I may have even added a few frozen huckleberries and choc chippies to one or two but shhhhh don’t tell!

Pour. Cook. Drool. Photograph. Discover, whilst on the phone with a bestie, that you have GREEN SPRINKLES that match your pancakes. Freak out just a little bit and pour them on a wee bit over enthusiastically… then find out that the sprinkles have soaked into the pancakes while photographing, and that you now have sprinkles on your dinner. Secretly do a happy dance for sprinkles.

Watch Voyager. Eat and LOVE your green food. And NO, it did NOT come out of a replicator (though I wish it had!).

“At ease, Ensign Kim, before you sprain something” -Kathryn Janeway.

Do it.

oh. and ps: I just wanted to share this too!! I tested out my personal cake pans (size 6.5″) by making a half batch of Crazy Chocolate cake! It was EXCELLENT. I just made a few changes to the posted recipe, namely brown sugar instead of white or turbinado. Yummy! And sooo cute.

Perfect thirds!

Pancakes for my new apartment!

 

Woah.

Let’s hope I’m not really this much of a blogging slacker… I’ve been busy! I promise. No more long hiatuses (or would that be hiati-i?) between posts. That means you, thesis. No interrupting when I’m doing something fun!

So.

I have a new apartment! Which means… I HAVE MY OWN KITCHEN that is NOT in a sorority, wheee!! (Of course I do love sharing a kitchen with my Mutti back at home, that’s the best!) This also means I have NO EXCUSE not to blog. Because I have to feed myself, and preferably tastily. Also. Cooking is WAAY more fun than doing theoretical art history readings… (No offense, Ricardo, if you’re reading this: I love your class!!) and thesising. Not that I procrastinate… at all. Psh.

Anyway.

Even though this isn’t my first meal in my own apartment (and I am NOT counting the few days of PB&J that happened whilst moving in), I think it’s the most important. This is MY place now, now that I’ve made and eaten pancakes here, hehe. I do miss my pancake eating buddies though (you know who you are, and you know I LOVE YOU!)…pancakes aren’t quite as good without gossiping whilst eating them. But whatever. I had a lovely night with my instant netflix and my pfankuchen.

This is a recipe adapted-ish from The Breakfast Book (again, psh what else??), and it makes the BEST buttermilk pancakes ever. I wanted something a little different though, so I added cornmeal. It’s up to you, whatever your heart (or tastebuds, I suppose) desires!

Pancakes for the win!

Cornmeal-Buttermilk Pancakes

Serves 2 (or one, with leftovers for breakfast, yessss!)

1/2 c whole wheat pastry or whole wheat flour (either works, I’ve used both)

1/4 c cornmeal

very scant 1/2 tsp of salt (I’ve reduced it to 1/4 tsp and it’s been fine)

1 tsp baking soda

1 egg

1 c buttermilk, well shaken

3 tbsp butter or earth balance, melted (I’ve left this out on occasion or put in less and been fine—I usually use whatever happens to be on hand. This time it was a spoonful of Earth Balance)

MY STOVE! (it's electric, psh. but whatever, I can have a gas one later in life)

These also had fresh blueberry and banana additions… I like fruit in my pancakes! They’re good with chocolate chips, too, if you MUST have chocolate disguised as dinner (and trust me, I’ve been there).

And look at this. I am PRO, clearly because I have a moose on my microwave. Do YOU have a moose? Yeah. I didn't think so!

Do your usual pancake shtick! Mix dry. Mix wet, without getting egg everywhere. Combine. Stir. Grease (coconut oil!). Pour. Dollop. Cook. EAT!