Fickle tastebuds and a bit of gastronomical distraction

Woah. I just ate the best pear. Ever.

mmmm, PEAR!

Like, so freaking good I got distracted from what I actually sat down to write about, and took pictures of its deliciousness. Occupational hazard, you know. Textbook example of the fickle nature of my tastebuds.

But seriously. Pear = gastronomical delight. Go eat one. Do it now, do it now, do it now….

fork full o’pear

Or maybe do it after you make these cookies— you know, the whole reason I was going to write this post, NOT the pear. That way, while the cookies are baking, you can eat your pear. Because pears and pumpkin are basically fall in a bite. Annnnd, they go really well together. Like pumpkin butter on an almond butter-pear sammie. Delicious. Especially when you use your Star Wars sandwich cutters. What? No, of course I don’t own those… um. Moving ON!

As we know, I am the Queen of Orange! Soooo, that means when pumpkin season rolls around, I start hoarding. Because you never know when some crazy might buy ALL of the pumpkin in the store, and heaven forbid THAT might happen, I would be devastated. To prevent this (imagined) eventuality, I buy about two cans of pumpkin per shopping trip. Just in case, you know. Besides, considering I used two cans in the last two days, my stockpile lasts a laughably short time. Ridiculous, I know… but I LOVE pumpkin cookies almost as much as I love pears, aaannnddd pumpkin curry happened last night. I also recently discovered that pumpkin in quesadillas is BOMB. Feel free to be jealous…

Pumpkin cookies are amazing. I’ve lost track of how many different recipes I’ve tried, but I have at least one reigning favorite vegan one at the moment, and then the one I’ll share below. The one below is fabulous chilled—in fact, I prefer them that way, as they get nice and solid, with a bit of chewy from the oats, and they taste almost like pumpkin pie. AND they’re healthy: totally breakfast appropriate. They’re fat free and  (very nearly) cholesterol free, if you’re into that kind of thing, relatively low in sugar, and full of whole grains. Besides all that, on a very kindergartenish level, when I come home, they mean I can have milk and cookies. Which to me, is  a perfect afternoon pick me up.

So. Go make these. And then eat a perfect pear while the cookies are baking. And then eat a cookie. And then smile inside and out :)

Chewy Oaty-Pumpkin Cookies

The recipe is slightly modified from Pardon the Dog Hair, here! I ended up with 18 tablespoon-ish sized cookies (which I naturally squashed all onto one cookie sheet, as I’m lazy).

  • 1 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 c rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • scant 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • pinch of cloves
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
  • scant 1/2 c maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 6 tbsp pumpkin puree (perfect for using up those awkward amounts)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c chocolate chippies

I’m pretty sure you’re familiar with cookie making methods… buttttt, just in case:

Preheat the oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, or lightly grease.

In a bowl (no, really?), whisk together all the dry ingredients: flour, oats, baking soda and powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and cloves. Set aside. In a slightly smaller bowl, vigorously (use those biceps!) whisk applesauce and maple syrup. Add in egg and whisk a few seconds more. Add in pumpkin and vanilla, and whisk to combine. Pour wet into dry and add chocolate chippies, and stir until incorporated. Drop by fatty tablespoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheet, and bake for about 11-12 minutes. Easy money! Let cool on a rack before storage—I like to store mine in a tupperware in the fridge. Enjoy the fall deliciousness :)

Whoops-a-FAIL and Bailey’s for breakfast

EPIC. FAIL.

Who forgets the SUGAR when making brownies?! I mean, really. SUGAR. Psshhh.

Well, that would be me, apparently.

Whoops.

Not entirely sure where my head was the evening I was making these: perhaps screwed on a wee bit backwards? I realized what had happened (or rather, NOT happened) when the so-called “brownies” were about halfway done in the oven. Out of slight curiosity (and irritation: wasting food, especially baking materials, is like a cardinal sin in my book), I decided to let them finish baking and then taste them. Fully prepared to hate them, I whipped up another batch so that brownies could be had for Mutti’s reunion… and then took the *ahem* REJECTS out of the oven to cool before I attempted to taste them.

mmm

But wait.

Time for the bombshell. You’d think completely sugar-less brownies would be nasty, right?! But… they’re NOT! They turned out like some kind of brownie-bread, or at least that’s what Vati and I thought. So rather than throw them out, we decided to hang on to them for breakfast and dessert purposes. Waste not, want not! Besides, then you can have GUILT-FREE BAILEY’S for breakfast!! If that isn’t awesome, I’m not sure what is. The brownies themselves (properly made) actually aren’t too bad for you—they originally come from a Cooking Light recipe. QED, brownies minus sugar = healthy breakfast. Ha. Winning.

Do yourself a favor: make them, sans sugar. Top them with mascarpone cheese and blueberry jam and cinnamon… and eat them for breakfast.

Epic fail? Absolutely not.

Remind you of anything? Mayan calendar, perhaps??

Bailey’s Brownies

For REAL brownies, use sugar. Obvs. Please don’t leave it out. They’re wonderful brownies: hydrated and fudgy interior, chewy exterior and a crackly top. Perfection. For “brownie bread” (excellent for breakfast and all-purpose snacking), omit sugar and pretend you did it on purpose.

Recipe gratefully borrowed (and slightly adapted) from Gimme Some Oven, here! Makes an 8 by 8 pan of brownies.

  • 1 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • my-cup-runneth-over 1/3 c chocolate chippies
  • 1/4 c butter (1/2 a stick)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1/3 c (slightly overflowing, hehe) Bailey’s Irish cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
breakfast is served..

Preheat the oven to 350, and line an 8 by8 pan with foil (this makes for ridiculously easy removal).

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt butter and chocolate chips together, using bursts of about 30 seconds. Let cool. Once cooled, whisk in eggs vigorously for a few seconds. Once incorporated, whisk in sugar, Bailey’s, and vanilla. Add flour mixture and stir until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing out the top a bit.

Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until a tester comes out with a few moist crumbs (don’t overbake, unless you like brownie bricks! I don’t exactly recommend this). Let cool in the pan for a bit, then lift the foil onto a cooling rack to completely cool.

stack o’ rejects

Happy Birthday, Vaccuum Vati!!

Happy Birthday, Vaccuum Vati!

Whaat. October already?! Sheeesh.

Time to bust out the pumpkin, ahhh yeahhh. Because as we know, I am the Queen of Orange.

But before we do that (and because of this ridiculous Indian Summer we’ve got going here: a hundred degrees in October?! Excuse me?! We know I loathe hot weather. Can’t it just be fall already?? I can’t quite do pumpkin until it’s at least a little cold-ish)… I bring you the end of Birthday Month!! Slightly belatedly, but hey–better late than never. So with that in mind, here’s this little bit of deliciousness: Vaccuum Vati’s birthday cake!!

mmm

As per request, things got a leeeetle spiiiicayyy up in hurrr since Vati wanted cayenne pepper in some form of dessertness. I thought about brownies for a split second but nahhh, why make brownies when you can make cake?! Pssh. Brownies. It’s a birthday, after all.

I’ve never baked with cayenne before, though I’ve had desserts where it was sneakily present.

hehhe.. edge on!

I think I’ve decided I like it, at least in this cake—the pepper sneaks in subtly, rather than punching you in the face going “I’M SPICY! EAT ME AND CLEAR YOUR SINUSES, PITIFUL HUMAN!” Or at least that’s what a lot of those less subtle desserts feel like to me… sort of like the sea salt and vinegar Kettle Chips. But I digress. This cake is super hydrated (remember, we don’t like the m-word), rich, chocolately and spicy. Just sweet enough (though I didn’t cut the sugar on this one as per request as well, as SOMEONE has an (inherited, I’m sure) sweet tooth the size of Texas). And the frosting?! Oh yes. The frosting. Hooooly crap. I had to save myself from cleaning the bowl out with my face, it is that good. Maybe if you make this,  double the frosting and save the second bowl for something creative. I don’t know, like eating with a spoon or something, with a token graham cracker so you pretend you’re using it as “dip”. Haha. Yeah right. I’m sure you’ll think of something, you’re a creative bunch.

The first word that comes to mind is… craggy. Um. No comment.

Anyway. Go in the kitchen, get out a bowl. It’s simple. Spicy chocolate cake, you know you want it… you’ll thank me later!

mmm.

Spicy Chocolate Cake with Cinnamon Mascarpone Frosting

Slightly adapted from Baked Bree, here! I made a half recipe in 6″ cake pans, so I’ll include those measurements here.

For the cake:

  • 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 + 3/8 c whole wheat pastry flour (sorry for the awkward measurements…)
  • 1/2 + 1/8 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c packed brown sugar
  • 4.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 c milk bev (I used 1% milk)
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1/4 c unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4.5 tsp Bourbon vanilla

This couldn’t be simpler… in fact, it’s pretty close to instant cake gratification. Lezzz dooo eeeet!

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease two 6″ cake pans, line the bottoms with circles of parchment paper, and then lightly grease that (coconut oil is fab for this). In a largeish bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: cocoa through salt. In a smaller bowl, whisk together milk, oil, applesauce, egg, vinegar and vanilla until combined. Pour wet into dry (see? EASY.). Chuck batter into prepared cake pans (ideally the top is evenish, if not.. oops oh well, you get to do trimming, which means there are cake scraps to be eaten), and bake for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean (For full-size cakes, increase bake time to 45 minutes). Let cool in the pans for a few minutes, then upend onto a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.

Subliminal messaging eeeeaattt meeee!!!

While the cake is baking: make the frostinggg (Keep your fingers away from the bowl, please) (as if). I made half the recipe. Don’t kid yourself, make extra. My measurements below are for half but really… what else would you do with that leftover mascarpone?!

  • half of 1 tub (8 oz) of mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Bourbon vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 1 c heavy cream

Whip yo’ cream (and yo’ hair) until stiff peaks form. Once cream is whipppp-ed, set aside. In a bowl, “whisk” (and by whisk, I mean sort of stir) mascarpone, cinnamon, vanilla, salt, and powdered sugar. Fold cream into the mascarpone mixture, and try not to eat it all at once. Some is supposed to go on the cake, you know…

With half the recipe, I had enough to put a layer between the two cake layers, and frost the whole thing.

Drool. Eat. Love!

Vaccuum VATI! (Loves his ducks)

Two for the price of one: Squashlets AND cookies!

coooookies!

There is an influx of baby squashlets in the garden! And not just zucchini, ohhh no.

So somehow we ended up growing acorn squash in our back garden…. which is odd considering we never planted anything of the sort. I’m guessing some little entrepreneurial seed got excited when we put it out in the compost and decided to become …a plant? Which is awesome, considering I just ate squash for dinner last night and lunch five seconds ago. TWO kinds of squash: acorn aaand zucchini, yesss. And if you’ve been following me for awhile (or at least since last fall), you’ll know that I am madly, head over heels in love with squash. You name it, I’ll eat it. Fact. I am still the Queen of Orange!

Which means that I got creative last night and invented another stuffed squash recipe (and actually did the same for lunch today, such an inspired idea). Both variations are easily adaptable to whatever you have, and are delicious.

squash-lunchlet

Anyway. So besides the squashy excitement, I also made cookies! Um. Why do you look so surprised?!

more adorable mushroom pottery

Because I love graham crackers. And vegan things. And cookies. And as I was searching for recipes, up popped one for vegan graham cracker cookies!! Whaaaat. This is what went through my brain: “cookies!! cookies cookies cookies hmm we haven’t had any cookies around here for the last day or so, clearly time to make more… these have graham crackers and cinnamon oooh”, at which point I was already preheating the oven and squashing the graham crackers into a pulp. Or rather crumbs, I suppose. Anyway. These cookies are fantastic: chewy (although be sure to store them in plastic if you want them to stay that way, not glass), graham-y, and full of cinnamon.

textural appreciation

 

And this way my dad and I don’t have to fight each other for the last few graham crackers, as SOMEONE likes to eat an entire sleeve with milk and call it lunch. Harumph. Vaccuum Vati strikes again. I, on the other hand, like to spread mine with peanut butter (oh really?! Surprise surprise) or mash it into ice cream. This way we can share the crackers aaand the cookies, like normal people. A perfect compromise, if you ask me.

balancing acts are fun with cookies

Vegan Graham Cracker Cookies

Very slightly adapted from Quiche-A-Week, here! This recipe is fab. Just do yourself a favor and make it, nowwww. I got about 20 cookies.

  • 9 sheets of graham crackers (I use Erewhorn Organics), divided
  • 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • scant 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • scant 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 c organic peanut butter (mine was creamy this time)
  • 1/3 c unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tbsp water
  • chocolate chippies, optional

Preheat the oven to 350, and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In  small bowl, combine flaxseed and water and let sit. In a plastic baggie, mash 7 graham crackers into a fine powder (or use a food processor, but seriously–smashing them with a rolling pin is wwaaaay more fun). In a largeish bowl, sift together graham cracker crumbs, flour, salt, baking powder and soda, and cinnamon. Set aside. In a smaller bowl, cream together peanut butter and sugars. I opted to skip the electric mixer and get a bicep workout, but that part’s up to you. Add in flax ‘egg’ and mix. Toss in applesauce and vanilla. Mix again. Toss wet into dry, and mix again, until just incorporated. Break up the last two graham cracker sheets into smallish pieces, and stir into the batter. Add chocolate chippies if you want—I added them to about half the batch, by sticking them into the tops of the cookies.

While the oven is heating, stick the cookie sheet into the freezer—the dough is sticky, so this makes it easier to deal with. Drop cookies onto the cookie sheet by spoonful, flattening slightly. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until slightly firm to the touch. Cool for a few on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a wire rack.

Eat with a milk-type bev and pretend you’re a child. Works like a charm, every time.

mmm

Southwestern-ish Stuffed Acorn Squash

Recipe by… me! Serves 4. This makes enough filling for 3 squashes (squashi?), so I used the leftover half for lunch today, and stuffed it with zucchini, corn, and egg, topped with a teeny bit of parmesan. Also delicious, do what suits you!

lunch, when it ended up being almost better than dinner!
  • 2 acorn squashlets
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 zucchinis, ideally warm from the sun in your garden
  • a handful or two of frozen corn, defrosted
  • a bit of fresh spinach (this is terribly specific, I know…)
  • cinnamon and curry powder, to taste
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 c shredded monterey jack cheese
  • 1/3 c grated sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 425.

Wrestle the squashes to the ground and somehow attempt to cut them in half. I always seem to struggle with this… Once the squashlets are halved, brush the cut side with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and place cut side down onto a cookie sheet. Roast for 20-25 minutes, until the squash is fork-tender.

In a saute pan, heat a bit of olive oil and pepper. When hot, add zucchini and saute until tender. Add in black beans, corn, and spinach, and continue to saute. Toss in desired amount of cinnamon and curry powder, and stir to combine. When veggies are done, stir in monterey jack cheese before turning off the heat. Spoon the filling into the cut halves of the squash, and top with cheddar cheese. Eat whilst hot :)

Like I said above, this recipe is infinitely adaptable. Use whatever you have on hand—beans, eggs, any veggies, whatever cheese. Decidedly satisfying in any form!

this was dinner, hurriedly photographed when I decided it actually looked tasty

“Is this a special occasion?” And other no-bake madness.

crust is pretty!

Apparently once as a toddler, I said to my mother (regarding an ordinary dinner): “Always eat your veggies first, except for special occasions”… pause… “Is this a special occasion?”. See? Apparently my brain is hardwired this way (it must have been all the tofu I was fed as a kinder). Veggies are delicious. But I also love dessert… so what better when dessert and good-for-me ingredients tango together and create fabulous babies?? Or rather, when I can sneak healthy-type things into otherwise deceptively delicious desserts. Precocious child that I was (ha) I apparently developed my philosophies waaaay early in life: always attempt to get away with eating dessert first! Life is short.

pieeeee!

Although I also was quoted saying (in response to my mother saying that veggies made you strong), “No mommy, sleep does that!”. Hehe. Right on both counts, I should think?

Anyway. Pie. The next in the series of it’s-too-hot-to-bake-much-less-live-ew ‘baking’, here’s pie! Thankfully it’s cooled off slightly around these parts in the last few days, so I’m thinking cookies or somesuch later today. Because (after getting up at 5) I washed my car, which desperately needed it, and now I’m tired and need sustenance. Preferably snacky cookies. Uh oh, look out. But back to pie. Who doesn’t love pie? Delicious. Snappy. Frosty. Melty.

Just goes to show, bananas are awesome in pretty much any form. Besides, I love that they give this pie body and make it acceptable for breakfast. Potassium win. Plus antioxidants from cocoa and healthy fats from cashews and peanuts. AND dark chocolate. Definitely breakfast material in my book. Or at least elevenses, that awkward hungry time between breakfast and lunch (otherwise known as second breakfast, if it involves a muffin in Ricardo’s class).

that crust could have used a minute less in the oven…

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Banana Pie

I gratefully borrowed the recipe from Back to Her Roots, here! I made a few small adaptations so that I didn’t need to make a run to the store, but if I made it again, I’d like to try peanuts in the crust (I used cashews, as it was what I had). I also made this in a deep-dish pie dish, so I made 1.5 times the filling so that it would be a little taller. In a normal dish, the amount below should be fine. Maybe next time some coconut needs to go somewhere in this? Food for thought…

//

Putz and acquire for the crust:

  • 1.25 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews*
  • 1/3 cup milk bev (I used 1% cow’s milk)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (canola is fine too)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling-tastic (second set of numbers is the amount for a deep dish pie):

  • 3 large, ripeish bananas (or 4.5)
  • 1/4 cup honey (optional, only add if bananas aren’t very sweet)**
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (1/4 + 1/8 c)
  • 1 cup light coconut milk (canned, please) (1.5 c)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (1.5 tsp)
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter (1/4 + 1/8 c)

Chopped salted peanuts and dark chocolate for the topping, plus ice cream if you’re feeling frisky.

*The original recipe called for equal amounts of unsalted peanuts, but I still had raw cashews left over. The crust was still really good (I love the addition of nuts), but I’d be curious to try it with peanuts.

**I used just about 1/4 c of honey in my total amount of filling (1.5 times the recipe above), since I wanted this to be a bit sweeter than I usually prefer (sharing is caring). I may leave it out next time, depending on banana sweetness.

hello, dark chocolate, I love you.

Preheat the oven to 375.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and cashews. Pulse until combined and nuts are finely ground. In a liquid measure, combine milk bev, egg yolk, vinegar, oil, and vanilla. With the food processor running, drizzle the liquids into the dry ingredients and run until the dough forms into a ball.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out until slightly larger than the diameter than your pie pan of choice. Transfer the crust to the ungreased pie pan and flute the edges. Use a forkish thing to poke steam vents in the bottom (no one wants soggy, puffy crust). Bake for 16-18 minutes, until lightly browned (mine would have been good at 16ish, my edges got a bit brown). Let cool completely before filling.

While the crust is cooling, make the filling! If you’re not like me and have a decent blender, use that. If you’re like me and your blender is utter crap (yes. it is. it struggles even with a basic milkshake, much less anything more solid. Blender fail), use your food processor again. Chuck in all the filling ingredients (bananas through peanut butter, above) and blend until smooth, scraping the sides if necessary. Once the crust is cool, pour in the filling and smooth it out. Top with chopped peanuts and chocolate. Carefully transfer to the freezer, and freeze for 2ish hours. Mine sat for longer, so I let it thaw on the counter for about 25 minutes before we served it, which worked perfectly.

fin.

For when it’s too hot to wear clothes, much less bake…

mmm, frosty goodness

Ew.

It’s been one of those weeks where you get up and think… do I really have to put clothes on today? Dis.Gust.Ing. Too hot to live, let alone bake. I really am a pacific northwesterner in this regard: hot weather makes me nutty. Today I sort of decided to stick it to the weather and go take a hot yoga class, since I’d been sweating all day anyway. Surprisingly, it was a great idea: maybe there is something to that ayurvedic  idea of eating hot foods on a hot day? Huh. Anyway. After said hot yoga class, all I wanted was a dunk in cold water and one of these.

yum.

Yes.

No bake, for the WIN.

The solution for when it’s too hot to do much of anything and turning on the oven (or really even the stove, let’s be real here) turns into a capital offense. I had grilled cheese for dinner last night (although I did go gourmet with some sauteed veggies, ha) since I was so unmotivated to do much of anything except watch other people (i.e. Olympians) be ridiculously fit. Whatever, I made up for it with my yoga today, so there. And with these bars. These are FAB. And healthy, which is a bonus considering most no-bake items seem to involve some form of strange food product like cool-whip. Let’s not go there, shall we? Back to these:

cooooconut

Mmmm. Banana coconut bars on a nutty date crust. Naturally sweet and so frostily delicious. Bonus points for being gluten free and vegan, as well as refined sugar free. You also get a healthy dose of magnesium from the cashews, calcium from the almond butter, healthy medium-chain fatty acids from the coconut, and potassium from the banana. See? It’s like a complete summer meal in a bar (welllll…sort of). Wheee! Squat and gobble to your heart’s content, I won’t tell… even if you do it in a sports bra and running shorts because, like I said, it’s too hot to live or bother to look decent. Or to blog… this is all I got today!

drippy. LOVE.

Vegan Banana-Coconut Bars

I slightly adapted these from the DAMY health blog, here! These are frosty and best when straight out of the freezer. Easy to make, they come together in a snap and set up decently quickly, satisfying all kinds of crazy summer cravings (Besides, they’re healthy to boot!)

Poke around and scrounge up the following:

For the crust:

  • 1/2 c raw cashews
  • scant 1/2 c unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 c pitted dates, chopped into smallish pieces
  • a tbsp or two of water, if the crust needs a little help to come together

For the topping:

  • 1 ripe banana
  • scant 1/2 c unsweetened shredded coconut+ some for sprinkling
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 c organic almond butter
  • 1/4 c light coconut milk
look! another one materialized!

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together cashews, coconut, and date pieces until the dough comes together, with pieces of nuts intact. Add a tablespoon or two of water if it needs a little help. Spread this mixture in the bottom of a lightly greased pan (mine was 9″ square, making thinnish bars), flattening it out as you go. In your food processor once again, blend the topping ingredients, scraping down the sides occasionally, until smooth. Pour the topping on top of your crust, and use a spatula to spread it out evenly. Top with some reserved coconut, and cover with plastic wrap or foil (bonus points for foil, it’s recyclable!). Let set for at least 2ish hours before slicing (it should be firm). Store in the freezer!

Love tasty food. Eat. Feel magically cooler… ohmmmm.

eeeeeatmeeeee
one of the nicer parts of warm weather: these are all from my back yard!

Pie and my happy place!

Once again, a long hiatus between posts. But this time I have an extremely good reason:

I was here.

happy place.

Among other things, doing some of this:

like a boss.

And a ton of this:

dock yoga!

Yes. You SHOULD be jealous. Be very, very jealous…

Because this also happened:

the best place to do yoga? I think so! I’m on the left in the ridiculous shorts… 

My tenth year at the best, most beautiful place on earth: a counselor for the best campers; laughing, goofing (can I say we pulled the most amazing prank ever?!), singing, eating pilfered brownies whilst stargazing: a group of the most diverse and amazing women I have ever met.

And I came back with sore ribs from laughing so much. Camp is wonderfully restorative—-being covered in camp dirt for ten days always gives me a refreshed perspective on life back home. Camp = love! So much love. I already can’t wait to go back for my 11th summer next year.

pieeeeee!

Anyway—I got back Wednesday night. And all I wanted was PIE. Blueberry pie, to be exact. Don’t ask, I’m not exactly sure why… I do love pie, but it’s not usually my go to (I’m guessing this has something to do with the somewhat temperamental nature of pie crust and the comparative ease of cake, as well as my laziness). I think it might have been the lack of berries up at camp or something, but sheeesh… pie definitely needed to happen. I decided to get experimental and make a teeny pie, just enough for four people (I bought a new 6″ cake pan, since mine are sadly in storage in another state…I had to break it in somehow, didn’t I?!). I also dispensed with the top crust- I like crust, but a bottom one is enough in a small pie, and I wanted to see what happened when I halved the recipe. Great success! Half the crust recipe fit perfectly into a 6 by 2″ cake pan, and left just enough for a top decoration. I wasn’t sure on bake time either, but it turned out perfectly. I think this might be the best crust I’ve ever made—I credit Carolyn McCuaig and her awesome pies for the recipe! Pie is most assuredly happening with greater frequency in the wait…are those…cookies universe, now that pie crust has decided to be a tad more cooperative.

mmm., antioxidants!

Blueberry Pie

Simple and satisfying, and tastes like summer in a bowl. Do yourself a favor, and eat it a la mode, like any self-respecting pie should be eaten (especially for breakfast). Many thanks to Carolyn McCuaig for her pie recipes :) I’ll include the full recipe here. For a pie like I made, make half the recipe and use a 6″ cake pan.

Double crust:

  • 2.25 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 c vegetable shortening (like Spectrum brand)
  • 1/3 c butter (preferably unsalted, although I used salted and the crust was still really good)
  • 5-6 tbsp ice water

Blueberry filling:

  • enough fresh blueberries to fill your pie dish or tin of choice
  • 1/3 – 1/2 c sugar (depending on sweetness of blueberries)
  • 1/3 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • a squirt of lemon juice (I didn’t have any, if I had, I would have added it…but it’s still fab without)
ahh, pie a la mode. Summer in a bowl.

Listen to some awesome music and get yourself in the pie groove:

Preheat the oven to 425, and (if using a cake/pie tin) grease and flour the pan. In a largish bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Cut in butter and shortening (the colder the better) until the mixture looks like cold sand. I like to use a pastry cutter for this. Add ice water a tablespoon at a time until the mixture just holds together, then pat into a flatish disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for a bit. You can roll it out right away, but dough that’s been chilling is easier to deal with. Meanwhile, toss blueberries with sugar and flour (and lemon juice, if using) to coat. When the dough has chilled (I left mine in for about 15 minutes), roll it out to 1/8″ thickness between two pieces of plastic wrap. Peel off one layer, invert dough over pie dish/tin, and press out the dough, crimping the edges as you go. Prick the bottom with a fork a few times, then toss in filling. If using a top crust, make sure to cut a few steam vents in the center.

Place the pie tin on a cookie sheet (to protect against spills), and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350, and bake for another 30 minutes (for a 6″ pie), or 40-50 for a normal sized pie, until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Let cool completely before cutting, to give the filling time to set up.

Eat. Love. Taste the summer and reflect on the people and places you love in life!

kind of weird with the sun, but I love how it makes the berries look.

Wait… has it been a YEAR…of cookies?!

Happy Birthdayyyyy to my BLOG! Thanks, Vati, for donating your fingers… 

Okay. Confession time.

Ready?

I missed my blog’s first birthday!! Sheeesh. I feel like a bad parent. BUT. I baked it a cake! And an adorable one (okay, two), at that. I had to celebrate somehow, and besides everyone wins when there’s cake around. But really, I thought wordpress might give me a heads up like, “oh hey, you’ve had a blog for a year, yeahhhh!” or something. Anything. BUT NO. So all of a sudden I realized it was July… and I had, in fact, started  blogging last June. Fail. Oh well! Absolved. By cake.

Candles smell like birthdays….

Besides… I’m quite proud of having stuck with this! A year(ish) ago, I set a goal to start a food blog. I didn’t really have any parameters regarding said goal, just that since I was moving into my own apartment for my senior year at Willamette, I wanted a way to keep my diet interesting and a push to try new things. Besides, I’d kind of wanted to start one ever since I had started reading blogs to begin with! Sooo… Wait are those…Cookies was born! In the summer, natch, so I could iron out any kinks before the crazy of school started. (And figure out creative things to do with mega boatloads of zucchini… heads up, zucchini season is almost upon us in the garden out back… consider yourself  appropriately warned).

AND it’s neon pink. For those who know me… this is an obvious no brainer.

Since I started posting mid June last year, I’ve posted 85 times (pretty good, considering the 92 page thesis beast that I cranked out spring semester), and had an even 4500 hits from across the world (who knew I was internationally interesting?! I certainly didn’t. Maybe it’s the irreverence)! Pretty good, for a blog that got started on a whim (and considering that I don’t really follow a regular schedule for this biz… I only post when the muses move me. Ha.). Anyway… throughout all this ridiculousness, I’ve learned lots of interesting tidbits… How to make lemon curd. And go through a jar of pb a week (oh wait. That is probably innate… never mind). And that you can bake cookies on your dashboard (personal fave). AND that goat cheese, while undeniably delicious, when paired with creme fraiche and tucked into a tart shell, is probably enough to put you and your roomie into an extended food coma for about a week. Whatever. Worth it.

even the aliens off to the right enjoy my cake! Ha. Beaming in?

So. I went from being an incoming undergraduate senior mildly concerned about thesis writing to a fully matriculated real person with a  BA in art history and the best job ever. Yoga benefits + active wear alll the time = too perfect for words. Thanks, not-so-baby food blog (you’re ONE year old!!), for feeding me through my misadventures in the kitchen and in life. Enjoy your cake :)

in profile.

Lemon Chiffon Cake with Lemon Curd and Whipped Cream Frosting

I made a half recipe in a 9 by 9 pan, and then cut rounds out for two baby, two layer cakes. The full recipe makes two 8″ or 9″ round cake layers. These can be sliced in half for a total of 4, if you like. I’ll include the full recipe here—halve if you want smaller cakes like mine. Don’t try to stack them too high though—I found the lemon curd to be mega slippery and one of my cakes was less than structurally sound. oops. I frosted mine with whipped cream, because it’s delicious. And pretty. Cake and lemon curd slightly adapted from Whole Living, here!

This cake is also decently not horrible for you: the cake (minus cream) is cholesterol free with skim milk, and has heart-healthy canola oil + lemons (ridiculously high in Vit. C and antioxidants). YAYY! A wonderfully summery cake, when you don’t want something heavy. It’s just sweet enough to satisfy without putting you in a coma…

lemon currrrrd

Putz around in your kitchen until you’ve acquired the following:

For the cake!

  • 1.5 c whole wheat pastry flour, sifted*
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/2 c milk (whatever you have is fine, I used 1%. Non dairy I’m sure is okay too)
  • 1/3 c canola oil
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 4 egg whites

*use the spoon and level method to measure: spoon flour into measuring cup, then scrape off the excess with the flat of a knife. Since this is a sponge cake, you want maximum lightness/airiness. Too much flour= heavy cake!

Frosting: 1 pint of whipped cream (or 2 pints for a full-sized cake), plus powdered sugar and vanilla (to taste)

For the curd*:

I’ll include the recipe for the curd I used for this cake, but I really prefer the curd I made before, even though it’s slightly less good for you. If you’re avoiding butter, use the one below, if not, I highly recommend this one!! If you don’t have Meyer lemons, that’s fine: just use regular.

  • 4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1 and 1/3 c granulated sugar
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 1/2 c fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons, depending on size) + 1.5 c water
  • 1/3 c cornstarch (organic, if you please!)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
I recommend making the curd earlier in the day before the cakes, so that it has time to chill. (Or you can be like me and do it the morning a water main explodes at the top of your street, meaning no water for you! That was interesting…). Lightly beat egg yolks in a heatproof bowl, and set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, lemon zest, cornstarch, and salt, and whisk to combine. Add in lemon juice and water, whisk until sugar and cornstarch have dissolved. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly. Cook two minutes. Reduce heat to low, gradually whisk a ladle-full of the lemon mixture into the egg yolks, then pour this mixture back into the pan (still constantly whisking!). Cook over medium heat for about 2.5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla. Let cool in a bowl with plastic wrap on the surface to prevent a skin; when cool enough, put it in the fridge to chill (at least an hour).
//

For the cake: preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease your desired pan. Cut parchment paper to line the bottom, and then grease that.

In a large bowl, whisk together 1/4 c sugar, milk, oil, vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice. In a smaller bowl, sift flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

Put egg whites into a non reactive bowl (I like to use the bowl of my Kitchenaide, plus a handheld electric mixer), and beat on medium speed until foamy. Raise speed to medium-high and gradually add remaining 1/4 c sugar + 2 tbsp, continuously beating until stiff peaks form.

Add half the flour mixture to the milk mix; whisk until smooth. Fold in remaining flour in three batches, alternating with the beaten egg whites (Try not to over-fold the batter; since the idea here is a light cake! But neither do we want pockets of flour… fold with purpose!). Pour the batter into the prepared pans, and bake until a tester comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Mine came out perfectly at 18 (my gas oven runs *very* efficiently). Let cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack. Remove parchment paper, and invert again (so the cake is right-side up). Let cool completely.

While cake is cooling, whip yo’ cream! In that same non reactive bowl (hopefully cleaned of egg white reside, thanks), beat cream until it starts to hold shape… then add a few spoonfuls of powdered sugar and a glug of vanilla. Beat until it holds stiff peaks (not too far, no one wants butter!). It can chill for a bit in the fridge before frosting, but not necessary.

Stack with layers with lemon curd in between (beware slippage!), and frost with whipped cream. Can be stored in the fridge for a few hours, but try to eat as promptly as possible (whipped cream frosting looks prettiest when eaten sooner rather than later).

Eat. Love. BLOG!

heh heh

 

 

Back in the realm of relative normalcy (ish)

ooh goodness YUM

oooohhhKAY! I’m BACK! You know, you might have missed me if I’d been gone too long… and we can’t have that, can we?! Oh no.

Now that I’m back in the realm of relative normalcy (I say relative because really… am I ever really normal? Correct answer: NO), it’s time for seasonal baking and cooking! Which means that I’ve been effectively eating my weight in fresh fruit and veggies errryyday (hooray, summer!!), particularly strawberries and zucchini. I kind of forgot how in California it’s farmer’s market time basically year-round… I’m a naturalized Oregonian now! What is this weird sunny weather that persists allll the time?! Why do I have to go running at 6:30 am in order to avoid completely dying of heatstroke?! Pshh. Good thing I’m 99% sure I’m moving back up the Pacific Northwest… heaven forbid I get too tan! Hehe. But for reals, I LOVE the NW… it’s lovely! Weather included :)

ANYWAY. After that longish tangent, let me get to the point I was originally making before I interrupted myself: I love in season eating! So expect to see a lot of that around here these days.

Except today.

see? something green. To bad it’s not the subject of today’s post…

You see, here’s what happened: I made delicious zucchini cakes (AGAIN, mind you this is the second time), but they were FUGLY. And I was HUNGRY. Soooo… you get dessert, instead! I know, I know… you’re sooo disappointed. But really, don’t be. It’s FAB! And I’ll send some savories your way sometime soon, promise!

cheese. From the zucchini cakes. Because this way you can feel like I feed you something besides dessert.

Besides, this dessert is sneakily nutritious, which happens to be my favorite kind. Because who doesn’t love getting sneaky nutrients in a dessert?! These little muffin-tin cookies are vegan (with vegan chocolate chips, which I didn’t have), gluten free, and sugar free! Can’t go wrong with that… especially when you eat them with ice cream! Ha. I suppose if you wanted to be completely virtuous, you could rustle up some healthier non-dairy frozen sub… but I was too lazy. If chickpeas in cookies freak you out, tough beans! Ha. Juuust kidding. Don’t worry, you wouldn’t know they were in there unless I told you :)

Because ice cream makes everything better!

Sneakily Healthy Muffin-tin Cookies (Aka Chickpea Chocolate Chip Cookies)

I adapted my version from Chocolate Covered Katie. She prefers a link rather than a write-out, so you’re going to have to go visiting for the full recipe… clicky click click! It’s delicious, promise! Click the link for the original post; my notes are below.

gooey deliciousness

Yield: 5 muffin/cookie/things

  • I made a 1/2 recipe, as per usual, and baked them in muffin tins (I got 5).
  • Bake at 350 for somewhere between 15 and 20 minutes, depending on size and desired gooeyness (they’re vegan, so no worries on freakydeaky uncooked eggs)
  • All the ingredients halve easily, so no problems there. Use whatever smaller pan floats your boat—when I unearth my six-inch baby cake pans, I’ll probably make it again in those.
  • I used 1.5 tbsp olive oil.
  • If dates aren’t your thing, go ahead and sub in brown sugar (I’d say somewhere around 1/2 c for the same level of sweetness), but I prefer dates. It keeps things all natural and a bit more virtuous :). I used 4 medjool dates, pitted and chopped into smaller pieces.
  • I used chickpeas, but I’d like to try this again with cannellini beans for something different!
ice cream-less… but what’s the fun in that?!

Graduation go-time and curry cookies!

you can have a picture of me in it, after Sunday!

Cap, gown, stole and tassel? Check.

Mortar board covered in red glitter and a puffy painted anchor? Check.

Honor cords acquired? Check.

Imminent familial arrival? Check.

Pre-graduation nerves and free time resulting in inventive baking and cooking? MEGA CHECK.

Last blog post before the merriment of commencement commences? Probably check.

thanks, Willamette!

It’s happeninggggg!!! This Sunday I graduate from Willamette University with a BA in Art History magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and with departmental honors. Yesssssss! I had to brag, just a little! I still can’t believe it’s happening. It probably won’t hit me until after it happens, at which point it likely won’t feel real either, ha! Jeez, I thought I had copious amounts of free time after I finished thesising?! I have sooo much now (at least until tomorrow when all the fun starts), I don’t know what to do with myself! Oh wait… yes I do. Cook and bake! Duh. I’ve made some super tasty yummies the last few days, but unfortunately they escaped into my stomach before being photographed. BUT. I’m fully intending on making most of them again, so maybe at some point they’ll make it on here.

coookies! But… can you tell me what the curry is doing lurking in the picture?

Anyway… today when I was sitting around post-running trying to figure out what to do with myself, I stumbled upon these cookies. And had one of those moments where I was suddenly fixated on them and determined to make them, despite already having made red wine chocolate cookies yesterday (but whatever, irrelevant, since they’re almost gone). These are pretty much the complete opposite end of the spectrum from the red wine ones… They have CURRY in them! What a novel and EXCELLENT idea! Curry + coconut + oats = yumyumyum. I’m so glad the inside of my car smells like a spice shop now, since now I have these. Win win win all around. And besides, now I’ll have something to sustain me through the (three hour?! Willamette is so NOT big enough to justify a 3+ hour commencement, pshh) graduation ceremony… I’ll have to hide them under my robe, for snackies! Can’t have the gremlins grumbling when I’m about to get my diploma, can we?!

yumyumyummyy

Curried Chocolate Chip-Oat Cookies with Coconut

Only slightly adapted from Cookie Madness, here! I made half of the recipe on account of already having some red wine-choc cookies left over, and got 7. I’ll include the full recipe here, with my modifications.

These cookies are unusual, but so good! I like them for a change from standard chocolate chip/oat cookies. The sugar and coconut add just the right sweetness to balance the curry powder—I reduced the sugar a bit already, but I probably wouldn’t take it down much further. These are easily made vegan!

  • 4 tbsp salted butter (if using unsalted, add 1/2ish tsp salt)
  • 4 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 c + 2 tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 c turbinado sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp milk bev (I used soymilk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c + 6 tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp curry powder (any kind is fine, just make sure there’s no garlic in it, that would be awkward)
  • 1.5 c rolled oats
  • 1/2 c shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 c chocolate chippies
they look kind of like Horta-cookies! heheh.

Preheat the oven to 375.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream together butter, applesauce, and sugars. Add in egg, milk, and vanilla, and beat to combine. In a smaller bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and curry powder. Add this to the liquid bowl, and stir until just combined, and then toss in oats, coconut, and chocolate chippies. Drop by small (or huge, if you’re like me) blobs onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, depending on the size of your cookie blobs… mine were more like 12, since they were on the large side. Let cool for a minute or two on the sheet, and then transfer to a cooling rack for eating further cooling.

natural light all the time, at last!