Category Archives: Recipes

Chewy Carrot Cake Breakfast Cookies

When I was little, carrots were my favorite vegetable. Now, I can’t really get excited about them. I think it’s because they’re so hit-or-miss – sometimes you get a really good one that makes you think about your vegetable rankings (what, you don’t rank your favorite vegetables? or favorite everything?), but sometimes you get one so foul tasting you have to spit it out and throw the rest away.  Is that just me? Couldn’t be.

I bought a few (3) carrots the other day and cut one up to eat with lunch. I ate it with our new house favorite almond butter – Barney Butter. While the Barney Butter is fantastic, the carrot just wasn’t doing anything for me. I didn’t want to waste the other two carrots, but I know myself and know I would eat them before they went bad, so I grated them and put them in a container to add to salads or sandwiches (it dilutes the carrot-y taste).

The next day as I was about to make some homemade granola bars, I stumbled upon this recipe for Carrot Walnut Cookies from Whole Foods and decided I had to make them instead. It was fate – I already had my 2 carrots grated in the fridge, just waiting for me to add them into this healthy cookie.

Stuffed with only whole grains, and sweetened with only fruit (no added sugar!), this is the perfect way to get some fruit, vegetables, fiber, protein and healthy fats into your breakfast. You could eat these any time of day really, but I think they’d be the perfect Easter breakfast before you spend the rest of the day stuffing yourself with candy.

Carrot Cake Breakfast Cookies
(adapted from Whole Foods)

1 cup raw unsalted walnuts
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 carrots, grated
1 apple, peeled, cored, and grated
1 ripe banana, mashed
1/4 cup orange juice

Combine walnuts, oats, and raisins in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Transfer to a bowl and stir in flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and ginger. Add carrots, apples, banana, and juice and stir until combined. drop by rounded tablespoons an inch apart onto baking sheets lined with parchment. Press down lightly on each cookie with your fingers or the back of the spoon/disher to flatten them slightly. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops and bottoms are lightly browned. Serve warm. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. They also freeze well.

Yield: 25 cookies

The one classic carrot cake ingredient missing from the recipe is coconut, and while you can easily add it to the dough, I decided to pour some warm, homemade coconut butter into the little bowl I made on top when I flattened them with the cookie disher.

They kinda look like little birds nests!

These are so quick and easy to make, and a wise way to start Easter or any day!

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Filed under Baked Goodies, Breakfast, Recipes, Vegan

Glazed Lemon Ginger Crumble Muffins

I think that we might travel a lot compared to other people. At least we used to, definitely. After we graduated from UK, Brett moved back home to PA for his job, and I found a job in Northern Indiana. We made it a point to go no longer than 3 weeks without seeing each other, so we would go on mini weekend vacations together to exotic places like Lexington, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago, Milwaukee, and once to San Francisco. But most often, I ended up flying the 650 miles between us to Philadelphia (because really, who wants to go to Northern Indiana?). Between all the driving and flying I was doing, there were a lot of meals eaten at the airport or in the car on my way out of Indiana. I figured out all the best airports to have a layover in (Detroit and Charlotte), and the best exits to stop at for shopping (always at Trader Joe’s in Indianapolis, and the TJ Maxx across the street is the best I’ve ever been to), the cheapest gas, and the best food.

Starbucks is usually the most consistent place you will find while traveling. It’s consistently pricey, yes, and even more so at an airport or turnpike rest stop, but you know that you’re getting more thoughtful food than most fast food, and it’s about as common a travel option these days as KFC and McDonalds, but with far better options. While I rarely go to Starbucks outside of traveling, my standard Grande Soy Peppermint Latte is always thoroughly enjoyed while waiting out the inevitable flight delay.

The past few times we had Starbucks, they’ve had a Lemon Ginger muffin that is one of the best baked goods I’ve had from the chain. I’m not a huge ginger fan, but I’ve been on a lemon kick ever since I worked in the yogurt biz, so I was drawn to it immediately. It’s dense and chewy, with small chunks of candied ginger laced throughout the muffin. As all muffins go, the top’s the best part, with a sweet and slightly crunchy crumble topping. I’ve gotten it at least the last 3 times I’ve been at the ‘Bucks, and each time thought about how I’d like to make a similar muffin. I finally did, and a good thing too, because I can’t find anything about it online, and can only assume Starbucks stopped making it, along with my very favorite banana pound cake.

These muffins aren’t quite as dense and chewy as the muffin I remember, but a lighter, fluffier version that I can eat while sitting at home drinking coffee next to my husband, instead of traveling 6 hours to see him. I like that much better.

Glazed Lemon Ginger Crumble Muffins

Muffins:
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup candied ginger
Zest from 1 large lemon
1 cup sugar
10 tablespoons butter, softened
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt (I used 1% fat)

Crumble Topping:
1/2 cup sugar
5 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons butter, cold and cut into small cubes

Glaze:
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4-1 cup powdered sugar

To make crumble topping:
Mix flour and sugar together in a small bowl. Add butter cubes and cut them into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or fingers, until it resembles coarse meal. Set aside.

To make lemon glaze:
Combine lemon juice and sugar until desired glaze consistency is reached. Set aside.

To make muffins:
Whisk together dry ingredients and set aside.
Finely chop the candied ginger (with a knife or with a food processor), leaving some larger chunks.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time until just incorporated. Mix in the lemon zest and candied ginger.
Add dry ingredients and yogurt alternately, mixing each addition until just incorporated. Do not over-beat.
Pour batter into prepared standard muffin tins until 2/3 full. Sprinkle some crumble topping on each muffin. Bake on the center rack of  a preheated 375 degree oven for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of one of the muffins comes out clean.
Using a pastry brush, apply glaze to each muffin. The hot muffins will absorb some of the glaze, so as the muffins cool, you can apply more glaze as desired.

Yield: 18 muffins

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Update: Making Macarons

I last left you with pictures of macaron cookies cooling on my silpat. I was so excited that I had conquered what seemed to be the “toughest part” of making macarons (getting the feet!) that I took a picture, then immediately finished assembly and proceeded to stuff them all in my mouth. After reading countless tales of disastrous attempts making these delicate little cookies, I was happy to proclaim my first try a success, although they weren’t perfect.

Chocolate Macarons with Dark Chocolate Espresso Ganache Filling

I followed this recipe from Annie’s Eats exactly, since I found it to be the most user-friendly and confident of the recipes I’d found. I even made my own almond flour in my food processor, the blades of which must be getting pretty dull, because I did end up with a pretty lumpy flour. That’s why the cookies above are lumpy and not as smooth as picturesque macarons. They tasted delicious, but they weren’t perfect. And since it’s such a long process (you have to plan days in advance!), I put off trying them again.

Somehow I came across this post on Macaron Myths from Brave Tart, and it immediately empowered me. I wanted to try to make the cookies by her recipe immediately to see if it was really all true. You mean I don’t have to leave egg whites on my counter for 2 days? And I don’t have to wait an hour after piping before I could put the cookies in the oven? This seriously shortened the start to finish time on these things from 3 days down to 45 minutes. Finally, they were a cookie I could make spontaneously (which is how I like to bake)! I followed the recipe exactly, and ended up with these little beauties:

Vanilla Bean Macarons with Vanilla Bean Swiss Buttercream Filling

Smooth, speckled tops, and perfectly formed feet! Don’t look too closely at the filling… I still need work on my Swiss Buttercream technique (the problem was that my butter wasn’t at room temperature… I get impatient and can’t wait that long!), but believe me, this didn’t affect the taste one bit. These were addictively delicious and I’m so excited. No cookie can defeat me!

If you want a boost of confidence in the kitchen, and love delicate little sweet cookies in any flavor imaginable, try this recipe. I have so many different flavor combinations in my head that I’m excited to try next! What flavors would you like to see?

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Meatless Monday: Vegan Mac & Cheese

We’ve been doing the Meatless Monday thing pretty much for the entirety of our marriage so far. It’s been fun trying new recipes and realizing that you don’t need an animal protein to make a meal. Some of our favorite veg recipes are things like black bean burgers, tofu curry, eggplant parmesan, and this recipe for vegan mac & cheese. Admittedly, when I first made it I added a can of tuna and called it tuna casserole. Brett asked for seconds and couldn’t stop telling me how good it was. Even when I told him what was in it he didn’t change his mind. The flavors are great and really adaptable to any taste. It makes a great side dish with plenty of leftovers, or a main dish that will definitely fill you up.

Vegan Mac & Cheese
(adapted from the edible perspective)

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped (or about 1 cup of any mild vegetable such as carrots, cauliflower, etc.)
½ small onion, peeled and chopped (about ¼-1/3 cup)
1 1/2 cups raw cashews and/or almonds (in any ratio)
1 1/3 cup unsweetened, unflavored milk substitute
4 garlic cloves, chopped
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
black pepper
1 teaspoon mustard
12-16 ounces pasta (any type you would use for mac & cheese)
1 slice bread (or fresh breadcrumbs)
1 tablespoon Earth Balance (vegan margarine)
Paprika

Boil sweet potatoes and onion in a medium pot until tender, about 10-12 minutes. Drain and set aside. Add nuts and milk to blender. Process until smooth. Add the garlic, lemon juice, salt, nutritional yeast, pepper, and mustard and process until smooth. Add boiled and drained vegetables and process until all combined. Cook pasta in boiling water for 7 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking. Mix together cheese sauce and pasta. Pour into a greased casserole dish and sprinkle paprika over top. Bake covered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, process slice of bread in a food processor to make breadcrumbs. Melt butter and combine with breadcrumbs. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture over baked casserole and place under the broiler for 3 minutes. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley, if desired.

Serves approximately 4-6 as a main course

Nutritional yeast is probably the only ingredient that would be hard to find. I get it out of the bulk bins at Whole Foods, but I’ve also seen it in the natural section at grocery stores (Bob’s Red Mill is a national brand that might be easiest to find). You don’t want to leave it out because it’s what gives the casserole its cheesy flavor (Read more about it here).

Also, if the strict vegan thing doesn’t matter to you, regular cow’s milk and butter work just fine in this (probably better, especially the butter). Once you blend the sauce, give it a taste. You might want to add some fresh herbs, or some cayenne for a little heat. And it does make a great tuna casserole with just the addition of one can of tuna. Like Ashley says on her blog, I can’t imagine someone not liking this. Try it!

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S’mores Cupcakes

So, I’ve always had this thing with marshmallows. When I was probably 7 or 8, my aunt bought me a GIANT bag of mini marshmallows from Sam’s Club. As in, 5 pounds of fluffy, airy, little marshmallows giant. I’m not sure if that was the start of it all, or my love of all things sugary just lead to an association with me and marshmallows, but it stuck. I mean, I’ve never proclaimed my love for marshmallows, but I’ve always been fond of them, and everyone seems to know it. I’m not sure how my sister-in-law became aware of my marshmallow association, but she believes that I loves them, and gave me three different kinds for my birthday a few years ago.

This Christmas, the same aunt that started it all gave me a bag of GIANT marshmallows. These were not your regular jumbo marshmallows. They are probably the size of two or three jumbo marshmallows. They’re huge! Like you’d only need 3 to make rice krispie treats huge. I needed to find something to do with these monsters.

I seem to have come across the idea a few times recently (although I forget everywhere I read it) of “frosting” cupcakes with marshmallows instead of buttercream. Of course I was drawn to this idea, and knew that was exactly what I wanted to do with my big guys.

 

S’mores Cupcakes
(adapted from bon appetit)

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (~11 sheets)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup whole milk
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup whipping cream
6 giant marshmallows, cut in half

For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Mix together graham cracker crumbs, flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions. Add vanilla. Add graham cracker mixture in three additions alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the graham cracker mixture. Spoon into muffin cups, filling each about 2/3 full. Bake 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes clean. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely.

For the ganache: Place the chocolate in a medium heat-safe bowl. Bring the cream just to boil in a small saucepan. Pour the cream over the chocolate. Let stand one minute and then stir until smooth. Cool to lukewarm. Spoon into a pastry bag.

Putting everything together: Push an apple corer about one inch into the top of each cupcake (or use a small knife to carve out a small hole), remove the cake. Pipe ganache into the holes, then swirl on top of the cupcakes. Smooth out the ganache with a knife. Before serving, preheat the broiler. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Put the marshmallow halves on the baking sheet. Broil until the marshmallows are lightly charred, 1-2 minutes. Use a small metal spatula to place the marshmallow on top of each cupcake.

 

Seems like lots of white. Also, look at the size of those marshmallows!

Action shot of my mom chopping chocolate. I used Trader Joe’s dark chocolate because it recently won a taste test on SeriousEats. Next time I’d use a milk chocolate to get the classic “s’mores with a Hershey bar” taste.

You will have some leftover batter. Don’t worry about getting out another muffin tin – we’ll do something with it later!

Ganaching.

Cored. This is also good for quality control.

Ganached.

S’mored.

Chocolatey marshmallowey goodness.

And what to do with the leftover batter? I’m glad my mom was here to come up with the idea:

Pancakes! Just add a splash of milk to the batter and viola! These might have been even better than the cupcakes!

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Holiday Spiced Almond Butter

This Christmas, I wanted to make something for my friends and family that would be interesting and delicious. I did just that.

The first two jars are recipes I found on the edible perspective, the last (Honey Vanilla and Flax Almond Butter) was something I developed from a few of her recipes. I don’t think I could pick a favorite recipe of the three, they’re all so unique and delicious. We don’t use a lot of nut butters around here (Brett’s allergic to peanuts and addicted to Biscoff spread) but this was gone in days. We added it to oatmeal, spread it on English muffins and toast, ate it with a spoon… etc. And it’s so much cheaper than buying almond butter in the store (I may have payed $16 for a jar once) and you can control your ingredients and sugar levels. It also makes a great gift!

Holiday Spiced Almond Butter
(from the edible perspective)

2 cups raw almonds
3 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons molasses, divided
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil, or more according to desired consistency

Spread almonds on parchment on a baking sheet. Pour on 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and 1 tablespoon molasses. Stir with hands so that all nuts are covered. Roast for 30 minutes at 300 degrees, stirring once every 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for about 20 minutes. Pour into food processor and turn on. Process and scrape down bowl as needed, until it butterizes (10-15 minutes, past the stage where it turns into a ball of “dough”). Stop food processor and add remaining 1/2 tablespoon of molasses and 1 tablespoon maple syrup, and all of oil, spices, and salt. Process again until smooth consistency is met (another 5-8 minutes, past the second dough ball stage). You can add more oil if you want a smoother, more “drippy” almond butter. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

 

Almonds coated with goodness. I use Grade B maple syrup because it has more flavor and less sugar. Win-win.

All of the in-process additions.

Hot out of the oven. There may have been a few of these that didn’t make it to the food processor…

Warning about processing: the first 30 seconds is very LOUD! Hold your ears. About 8 minutes into processing, the mixture will turn into this ball of “dough” that just circles around and around the outside of the food processor. This means your close to your goal!

Final product: about 1 1/2 cups of yumminess. This lasted about a week.

Mmmmm

One word of advice: don’t double or half the recipe. This amount works great in a normal-sized food processor. I tried to double it and my (admittedly old. but great-working) food processor started smoking. If you cut in in half (which you would regret as soon as you immediately hit the bottom of the jar), I’m not sure there would be enough mass for the food processor to work with.

Happy butterizing!

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Black Beans and Caramelized Corn

There’s a little restaurant in Lexington that I wish I had discovered sooner:

One of my roommates in my last semester of college worked at Bourbon n’ Toulouse and we would all eat there for free every Monday. Everyone that went there for the first time always got the crawfish etouffée, because on first glance it’s the best thing on the menu. And in reality, its probably the worst. It’s really not bad, but there are other things that are just so good. Luckily, I was introduced to the best dish on the menu early on, and it’s one I crave anytime I think about Lexington.

I was nervous to try to recreate this dish, because I didn’t think there was any chance I could make it taste anything like the real thing. To my surprise, I got pretty close on my first try. It’s really about balancing the sweetness and the spice in the end. It’s probably not perfect, but it holds us over until we can get the real thing in Lexington.

Black Beans and Caramelized Corn

2 tablespoons butter
1 can or 1/2 bag frozen, or equal amount fresh sweet corn
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 red pepper, peeled and diced
1/4 cup half and half
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste
Salt & pepper to taste
A few splashes hot sauce of choice

Melt butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add corn and saute for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly caramelized and sweet-smelling. Add brown sugar and saute for about 2 more minutes, stirring constantly. Add black beans and red pepper and saute until warmed through, about 2 more minutes. Add half and half, cayenne, salt and pepper, and hot sauce, and let simmer until sauce thickens, about 3 minutes. Serve immediately over rice with more hot sauce, and a big hunk of french bread on the side, buttered and sprinkled with cajun seasoning. Enjoy!

Yield: 2-3 servings

You probably have everything you need for this recipe in your kitchen already. I have a huge bag full of cut peppers in my freezer from my CSA which has saved me so much money this winter. I microwave the frozen peppers for 30 seconds covered in plastic wrap, let it cool, then peel and chop them. Peeling is so much easier this way!

Caramelizing corn in butter… imagine the smells!

Everything simmering together.

The finished meal. Spicy and sweet and hearty and simple. It’s so good!

Mmmm… Anyone want to go to Lexington?

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