Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 Top 10 Recipes

This year is coming to a close, and I've tried to make an effort to cook more. Here's a round up of favorites from this year based on stats. These recipes are chosen by you! I'm only including recipes that have been posted this year.

See you next year for more yummy food!

  1. Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
    Pumpkin in a cupcake with cream cheese, enough said!

  2. Chicken Katsu (Japanese Fried Chicken)
    You can't lose with fried chicken!

  3. Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Pancakes
    These whole wheat pancakes have been requested quite often from hubby!

  4. Vegan Orange Cinnamon Rolls
    This is the first cinnamon roll recipe I've ever made and hubby compares it to Cinnabon!

  5. Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream
    I remember this well. I love coffee and it works so well in ice cream.

  6. Saltine Toffee Bark aka Christmas Crack
    This Christmas treat was so easy to make and it was a big hit with my coworkers! Aptly named as crack, this was even better the second time I made it when I added vanilla.

  7. Vegan Chocolate Mocha Cupcakes
    I made these for my birthday and nobody believed they were vegan!

  8. Whole Wheat Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
    hubby's favorite cookies were made with coconut oil and whole wheat to make it even healthier!

  9. Nutella Crescents
    I made these for World Nutella Day, but these should be eaten whenever you want.

  10. Coconut Chocolate Chip Pancakes
    Hubby's favorite foods in the world in a pancake.

  11. honorable mention: Baked Turkey Meatballs
    This recipe continues to have lots of hits even though I made this many years ago. It's so easy and it's #1 when you search on google! (or #2 depending on when you search!)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cranberry Almond Biscotti

I can't believe the year is almost over. It's been a crazy end of year, and I wish I had shared Christmas treats with you earlier, but better late than never.

I made these biscotti for part of my Christmas cookie tins to a few coworkers. My sisters took the bulk of the first batch, and Gary ate the rest in a matter of minutes, so I ended up making a second batch which turned out better anyway! He was glad he was able to enjoy something that was naturally dairy free instead of adapted to be dairy free.

The second time around, I decided to add more almond and add the almond extract, which made the difference. It was a great dessert, as well as a nice breakfast treat to pair with coffee. I may or may not have eaten cookies for breakfast the whole week before Christmas!

The original recipe didn't call for brushing the tops, but I had an extra egg white leftover from another recipe. One of the other biscotti recipes I was using called for brushing the top, so I did that as well. It adds a nice sheen instead of a dry top.

Cranberry Almond Biscotti
adapted from What's Cooking, Chicago?

3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup sliced almonds
milk or egg for brushing

Preheat oven to 300°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl lightly beat 3 eggs and extracts together. Set aside.

In a bowl of your stand mixer (or with a hand mixer) combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix well to combine. Gradually add the egg mixture and beat until a dough forms, adding the cranberries and almonds about halfway through.

With floured hands divide dough in half. On a lightly floured surface roll dough into a log and flatten to about 10 inches long and 3 inches wide. Transfer log to the prepared baking sheet, brush with extra egg or milk and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Note - logs will spread during baking. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.

Transfer log to a cutting board and using a serrated knife, cut log into slices 1/2 inch thick. Arrange evenly on baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes, turn slices over, and bake another 10 minutes or until firm to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool.

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Saltine Toffee Bark aka Christmas Crack

It's that time of year when baking is underway, and I want to bake all sorts of goodies to share. This weekend, my sister and I are actually doing our annual bake-a-thon. I will be preparing goodies to share, as well as baking for another cookie exchange.

I signed up for another recipe swap, and the theme this time was holiday goodies. What a better way to start the baking season by making this! These past few weeks have been extremely crazy, so I was scared that I wasn't going to finish this in time, but luckily, it takes almost no time to make!

I received this recipe from Nicole from Prevention RD. I saw "Christmas Crack" and loved the very idea of this recipe! I've never heard of using saltines as a crust or a base, and this intrigued me. Nicole got this recipe from her hair dresser, who I'm not sure is the original source. But, of course, like all "crack" recipes that have been floating around the interwebs forever, and who knows who originated this.

After googling, I saw a few variations. I was originally planning on making a swirl with half white chocolate, half semi-sweet, but I glad I stuck with just the semi-sweet. I would have had a hell of a time spreading both! I topped this with holiday colored sprinkles, but I would definitely try nuts, crushed peppermints, or whatever comes to mind!

I ended up bringing these to the office to share, and it was definitely like crack for them. Some couldn't stop at just one piece! Many people couldn't figure out what the crust was. They thought they were pretzels or graham crackers. It's hard to explain the taste, but if I had to I think it would be like the Take 5 candy bar, where all these different salty and sweet flavors meld and come together as one.

Remember to check out Sarah's blog to see all the other delicious treats from the swap!

Saltine Toffee Bark aka Christmas Crack
adapted from Prevention RD

1 sleeve of saltine crackers (4 oz)
3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
12 oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips (2 cups)
1 oz sprinkles
(optional toppings: crushed peppermint, nuts, toffee bits, caramels, whatever floats your boat!)

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Line a 15x10 jelly roll pan with foil and spray with nonstick spray.

Line the saltines in a single layer in the pan,with sides touching.

Meanwhile, cut up the butter into pieces. In a saucepan on medium heat, bring the butter and sugar to a boil, without mixing. Once boiling, remove from heat. Add vanilla extract and whisk in the baking soda. The mixture will become frothy. Pour the mixture over the saltines, covering as evenly as possible. Bake in oven for 8 minutes.

Remove from oven, and wait until the pan has stopped bubbling. Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top and bake in oven for another 2 minutes.

Remove pan from oven. Using a spatula, spread the melted chocolate chips evenly over the entire surface of the saltines. Add sprinkles or desired toppings.

Allow to cool and harden in fridge. Since it was a bit tough to cut directly from the fridge, I broke them into pieces by hand. I personally like the jagged look! :)

Makes a whole lot!

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Sweet Potato Chili

After the holidays, I had a few sweet potatoes left over. What a better way to use them up than in a chili! I saw this recipe on the Real Simple facebook page before Thanksgiving and I knew I wanted to try it with whatever sweet potato I had left. This is a great meatless chili and packed full of vitamins and fiber!

I thought Gary wasn't going to go for it at first, but he actually enjoyed it. He didn't miss the meat! Since he can't have dairy, he didn't add any of the toppings therefore making it vegan, and it was still delicious!

Although you can definitely taste a hint of sweet potato and cinnamon, I didn't really see it. I think it could use a bit more next time. I also used dried beans instead of canned, since I had them on hand anyway. I added more water since I was using the dried beans, and I'm glad I did. It soaked up very nicely, and the chili was still thick and hearty. I only added one jalapeno because we're not big spicy people, but it could probably have used more. I usually don't have peppers on hand, but you can definitely use whatever you have.

This made a lot, so you can store them in single serving portions and freeze for later.

Crockpot/Slow Cooker Vegan/Vegetarian Sweet Potato Chili
adapted from Real Simple

1 cup dried black beans
1 cup dried kidney beans
1 cup dried great northern beans
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped (or more of desired)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 TBSP mild chili powder (or 1 TBSP medium-hot)
1 TBSP ground cumin
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups water
optional toppings: shredded cheese, sour cream, sliced scallions, sliced radishes, and/or tortilla chips

The night before, pick out stones and discolored beans and soak in cold water (changing the water once) in the liner of a 4-6 qt slow cooker.

If you have time right before making this, I recommend sauteing the onions, garlic and peppers to bring out some flavor. If not, you can follow the directions below.

Right before cooking, drain the beans and rinse in a colander. Combine the onion, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, cocoa, cinnamon, salt, black pepper. Add the tomatoes (and their liquid), beans, sweet potato, and water. Stir to combine.

Cover and cook until the sweet potatoes are tender and the chili has thickened, on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours

Serve the chili with the sour cream, scallions, radishes, and tortilla chips. [to keep it vegan, use Daiya (or your choice of vegan cheese), or omit the cheese and sour cream all together]

Makes 4 heaping servings, or 8-10 smaller bowls

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Marbled Pumpkin Cheesecake

Two of my family's favorite things, pumpkin and ginger is all baked up into this wonderful dessert. They really do go for anything pumpkin and anything ginger, so I had to make this.

I've been meaning to make a pumpkin cheesecake for a while now, and I never get around to it because we always have pumpkin pie. This time around, I made an apple pie, so I finally got the chance to make this for Thanksgiving.

At the last minute I was almost hesitant to try this recipe. Although it has a 4 1/2 star review, there are quite a few people who mentioned this wasn't like cheesecake, or there wasn't enough pumpkin flavor, or it was bland altogether. After reading a few reviews, I decided to take matters in my own hands and adjust accordingly. In the end, I doubled the amount of total spices buy subbing with my homemade pumpkin pie mix, and I used a whole can of pumpkin, instead of the one cup it originally called for.

I think my changes made all the difference. There was definitely a more prominent pumpkin flavor and just enough spice. In the end this came out beautifully, and despite the cracks, it tasted great.

Marbled Pumpkin Cheesecake
adapted from allrecipes

1 1/2 cups crushed gingersnap cookies (about 8 from this recipe)
1/2 heaping cup pecans halves
1/3 cup butter, melted

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup white sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 15oz can of pure pumpkin (or 2 cups fresh)
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C). In a food processor using the chopping blade, mix together the gingersnap cookies and pecans. Pulse to form crumbs. Stream in the butter and pulse to combine. Alternatively, if you don't have a food processor, you can crush the cookies in a heavy duty zip top bag, add finely chopped pecans and butter to form a crust. Press crust into the bottom, and about 1 inch up the sides of a 9 inch springform pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Set aside to cool.

In a bowl of an electric mixer, mix together the cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, and vanilla just until smooth. Mix in eggs one at a time, blending well after each. Set aside 1 cup of the mixture. Blend 1/4 cup sugar, pumpkin, and pumpkin pie spice into the remaining mixture in the bowl.

Spread the pumpkin flavored batter into the crust, and drop the plain batter by spoonfuls onto the top. Tap the bowl lightly to combine the two batters. Swirl with a knife or toothpick to create a marbled effect.

Place pan on a cookie sheet and bake for 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Turn off oven and let cool in the oven for 30 minutes with the door propped open with a wooden spoon. Run a knife around the edge of the pan. Allow to fully cool before removing pan rim. Chill for at least 4 hours before serving.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011


To tell you my family loves ginger cookies is an understatement. My family LOVES all ginger cookies! Every time I make a ginger type cookie, they always ask for more.

I was originally going to buy gingersnaps for a pumpkin cheesecake recipe. It was one less thing for me to do for Thanksgiving cooking. However, this recipe popped up right before I was about to go to the supermarket. I had everything on hand, and my mom asked about ginger cookies once again :), so I decided to make it. I'm so glad I did, because when I saw the $6 price tag for a small box of gingersnaps that were full of crap, I almost fainted!

I started the recipe on Tuesday in order to be able to use it on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I wanted them snappier because I would be using them for a cheesecake crust, so I baked them for the full 15 minutes. Normally, I'm all for the chewy cookies!

My family also thought this didn't have as much ginger flavor as my previous ginger cookies. I didn't either. It may have been because I was dumb and squeezed the ginger liquid out after I grated it. DON'T do it! Keep all that gingery goodness in!

I used a cookie scoop to measure out the cookie balls. I guess I made them slightly bigger, because I only got an even 3 dozen cookies out of the recipe, vs the 4 dozen from the original recipe.

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 1/4 cups (281 grams) all-purpose flour
2 tsp (10 grams) baking soda
1/2 tsp (2 to 3 grams) table salt
3 tsp (6 grams) ground ginger
1 tsp (2 grams) cinnamon
1/2 tsp(1 gram) allspice
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
2 sticks (8 ounces or 227 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (96 grams) light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup (79 ml) unsulphured molasses
1 to 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger (with the wet ingredients) or 1 to 2 tablespoons finely minced candied ginger (with the dry ingredients) (optional)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars together until fluffy, about three minutes on medium. Add egg and molasses and beat until combined. Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined. Thoroughly scrape down bowl, ensuring ingredients are evenly mixed.

Transfer your cookie dough to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Chill in fridge for at least two hours, until firm.

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Roll dough into 1-inch balls and spread at least two inches apart on baking sheets that have either been greased or lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, which is a long range. In the 10 to 12 range, the cookies will be softer. In the 13 to 15 range, a bit snappier. Allow to cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Make ahead: In an airtight container at room temperature, the cookies will soften a bit each day. Cookies keep for one week at room temperature or one month in the freezer.

Makes 3 dozen

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Friday, November 11, 2011

Buttermilk Pancakes

To be honest, I sometimes find Gary's palette a little on the bland side. He loves white rice, ketchup, plain brothy soups. If you give him some ketchup, he can eat shoe leather and call it a day. In my efforts to get variety in his diet and be a little bit more creative, I would add different types of fiber and fruits and vegetables. If I don't end up finding a recipe I like, I will adapt the heck out of one. In the end, the recipe wouldn't be too close to the original recipe. When I come up with a flavor combination I want to try, there's no stopping me!

When I made the multigrain waffles, he asked if I can make "regular" ones -- "you know like l'eggo my eggos"? When I made the orange cinnamon rolls, he asked if I could omit the orange next time and make it plain. When I ask him what flavor ice cream he wants me to make, he says chocolate -- although he recently asked for cookies and cream! I'm not saying that all these recipes are bad! They're far from that! He liked them, but just asked for something not too out of the ordinary.

So, that's what I did. I made him 'buttermilk' pancakes. I went with a basic recipe and deviate too much from it. The only adaptation I made was using soy milk and vinegar to make a sour milk instead of using buttermilk. Otherwise everything was the same. These were the most fluffy pancakes I've ever made!

The verdict? "I liked these, but I like the strawberry, coconut and apple better."

So I guess my efforts in making them healthier or coming up with crazy flavors are worth the efforts!

Buttermilk Pancakes
adapted from Better Homes and Garden 14th edition

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 TBSP granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 TBSP vinegar plus enough soy milk to equal 1 1/2 cup total (or 1 1/2 cup buttermilk)
3 TBSP canola oil

In a measuring cup combine vinegar and soy milk. Let sit for 5 minutes (skip this step if using buttermilk).

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine.

In another bowl, whisk together the soy milk mixture, egg and oil. Add to the flour, and stir until just combined.

Using a ladle, pour 1/4 cup batter onto a hot griddle. Cook until surface has completely bubbled, then flip and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter.

Serve with maple syrup.

Makes about 12 pancakes

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Spaghetti Squash Bolognese

When I first came up with this, I was originally going to mix in some spaghetti so I didn't totally shock Gary when there was no pasta. However, I ran out of spaghetti, so left it as all squash. To my surprise, Gary actually liked it. When I told him all these vegetables were in them, he was surprised as well. I did a good job hiding them! He enjoyed it and gobbled it up even though he knew all these different vegetables were in the dish.

So I wasn't planning blogging it. It didn't seem too intriguing, but I took a picture anyway and Gary encouraged me to blog it. It was a half-assed quick pic, so please ignore the craptastic photo above. I guarantee it's quite tasty indeed. I was also super hungry from the time change (an hour really throws everything off!) and couldn't wait any longer to eat. I wasn't sure what I would call this, so since the meat sauce is similar to a bolognese style sauce, that's what I ended up naming it.

If you have some fresh basil or parsley, I would suggest adding that as well. Although this dish was tasty, it was missing a fresh ingredient garnish.

Spaghetti Squash Bolognese

1 small spaghetti squash (3-4 lbs)
1 TBSP olive oil
salt and pepper

2 TBSP canola oil
1 small onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
2 stalks celery hearts, finely chopped
3/4 lb ground turkey
1 cup baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce (I used a tomato basil)

Preheat oven to 375. Line a sheet pan with foil, and lightly spray with oil. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out seeds. Place the squash cut side down and bake in oven for 1 hour. Allow to cool slightly before handling.

Meanwhile, on medium-high heat, add 2 TBSP oil. Sweat the onion, garlic, carrot, and celery for 10 minutes. Add turkey and cook until no longer pink while breaking it down with a wooden spoon. Add mushrooms and cook for another minute. Add sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 10 minutes.

Using a fork, scrape the spaghetti squash into a large bowl. Toss in 1 TBSP olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer the meat mixture to the bowl and toss together to combine. Serve hot.

Makes 4 servings.

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Mixed Berry Fruit Smoothies

Whenever we have a light dinner, we usually chase it down with a a couple of smoothies. Lame, I know, but we're both not too in to alcohol, and sorta watch what we eat. I normally don't eat a lot throughout the day, so it wouldn't hurt to have some extra fruit. I love smoothies, but the mass market ones can also be chock full of sugar and stuff I don't want to ingest. Our smoothies are frozen fruit and juice, nothing else!

These smoothies are great for a morning pick me up. This is a great base for any add-ins such flax or any other boost you may want.

I get aggravated sometimes when we use our mugs and tall glasses for smoothies. They're not really equipped to keep something cold for a long time. When I saw that the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program was offering Tervis tumblers up for grabs, I jumped at the chance! I've heard such great things about them, but I've never actually used one before. I wish I had got one sooner because this thing is awesome! I filled the Tervis with the smoothie and it kept it cold til the last drop. Because of its double insulation, it didn't sweat on the outside and my hands stayed dried. When I get a chance, I'll probably get a few to use at home.

Mixed Berry Fruit Smoothies

1 cup frozen mixed berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries)
1 cup frozen mangoes
2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice

Add all ingredients into a blender. Blend until combined. If the mixture is too think to pour, add a little bit more juice to thin it out.

Makes 2-3 servings

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received a complimentary Foodbuzz Tervis tumbler. All the reviews and opinions are my own.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Vegan Chocolate Mocha Cupcakes

Did you know today is World Vegan Day? I didn't but it's just a happy coincidence that I'm posting this today! Today marks the start of a month long vegan celebration. I guess I celebrated early, since this past month has been primarily vegan recipes!

As I mentioned, I made 2 different cupcakes for our birthday get together. The other one I made was this chocolate mocha cupcake also from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I was set to make a chocolate cupcake, but the notes in the book also had instructions on turning the chocolate cupcake into a mocha one.

I think these turned out pretty good, as a chocolate cupcake. I didn't taste too much coffee in the cupcake, and only slightly in the frosting, even though there was coffee in both the cupcake batter and the frosting. I missed the part where it said to dust with cinnamon or nutmeg, so I think that would have made a difference as well. I also made the mistake of putting too much vanilla in the frosting while halving rest of the ingredients. It didn't taste off, but the extra liquid made the frosting a bit too thin while piping.

Vegan Chocolate Mocha Cupcakes
adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

1 cup unsweetened soy milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 TBSP cold strong brewed coffee

frosting (half the original recipe)
1/4 cup non hydrogenated shortening
1/4 cup vegan butter (rec: Earth Balance)
1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 TBSP cold strong brewed coffee
cinnamon or nutmeg for dusting

make the cake:
Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.

Whisk the milk and vinegar in a measuring cup and set aside for a few minutes to curdle.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl and mix to combine.

Beat together the milk mixture, oil, sugar, vanilla extract and coffee in a large bowl. Sift in the dry ingredients and mix until no large lumps remain. (batter will be thin)

Fill cupcake liners two-thirds of the way and bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool.

prepare the frosting:
In a stand mixer, beat together the shortening and butter until light. Add sugar a little at a time and beat for 3 minutes until no lumps remain, scraping down the sides as necessary.

Add vanilla and coffee and beat for another 5-7 minutes until light and fluffy.

Scoop frosting into a piping bag or heavy duty zip top bag and pipe from the outside in. Dust tops lightly with ground cinnamon or nutmeg.

Makes 12 cupcakes

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Vegan Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting

These past few weeks, a few friends and I hit a huge milestone. We all turned the big 3-0! While most people see it as a big deal, I didn't see it that way. I really am one of those that feel like 30 is the new 20, and my life and adventures have only just begun. If anybody looked at Gary and I, we definitely don't look like we're already in our 30s! These are the same folks I celebrated 2 years ago at the sausage fest party.

A bunch of my friends are ones that I've known since elementary school, as early as kindergarten. I think it's great that we've still kept in touch all these years. Even though we've all hit 30, we decided to go do something fun and kiddy - Laser Tag! I've never gone before, so better late than never!

We went out for an early dinner at a Shanghai Restaurant and I brought cupcakes. I made two flavors, this vegan vanilla one being one of them. I actually bookmarked this recipe a while ago, and I decided to make it for this occasion since I had almost everything on hand. I didn't have many eggs left, and I had some soy milk to use up. I didn't have to go the vegan route, but I did. To be honest, I think vegan cupcakes are pretty easy to make, and seem less messy.

If you think there's no way these cupcakes can stand up to regular ones, well they can! Nobody knew they were vegan until I told them!

Vegan Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Fluffy Vanilla Frosting
adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World, as seen on their blog

1 cup unsweetened soy milk (or almond milk and omit the almond extract)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 TBSP cornstarch
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped

frosting (half the original recipe)
1/4 cup non hydrogenated shortening
1/4 cup vegan butter (rec: Earth Balance)
1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 TBSP soy milk

make the cake:
Preheat oven to 350° F. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners.

Whisk the milk and vinegar in a measuring cup and set aside for a few minutes to curdle.

Sift the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl and mix to combine.

Beat together the milk mixture, oil, sugar, vanilla extract and vanilla bean in a large bowl. Sift in the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and mix until no large lumps remain. (batter will be thin)

Fill cupcake liners two-thirds of the way and bake for 20 to 22 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool.

prepare the frosting:
In a stand mixer, beat together the shortening and butter until light. Add sugar a little at a time and beat for 3 minutes until no lumps remain, scraping down the sides as necessary.

Add vanilla and milk and beat for another 5-7 minutes until light and fluffy.

Scoop frosting into a piping bag or heavy duty zip top bag and pipe from the outside in.

Makes 12 cupcakes

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Monday, October 24, 2011

White Chocolate Pumpkin Kiss Ice Cream

Just because it's a little chilly out, doesn't mean the ice cream goes away. It's a great time for the fall flavors to come out. Since I'm not a huge ice cream person, I mostly make dairy free ice creams for Gary. The ice cream maker investment has paid for itself through the cheaper quarts of ice cream I can make him.

I on the other hand have only made ice cream a handful of times for myself. Although I love pure vanilla and pistachio ice creams, The crazy flavors are the ones that get me all riled up. If only this Dexter ice cream were real, I'd be all over it! :D

With that said, I had some heavy cream and some Hershey's pumpkin spice kisses on hand. The pumpkin spice kisses are a funny thing. Once you try one, you either love them or you hate them. I for one love them, and I wanted to use both up, but I wasn't sure how. Heavy cream would be perfect for ice cream, so I wanted to integrate the candy somehow.

I decided to ask a few of my cooking buddies to get an idea of what ice cream would pair well with pumpkin spice kisses. White chocolate won by a landslide! I'm glad the consensus was white chocolate. It was a recipe I wanted to try already and it didn't have any added sugar to make it overly sweet. Since the kisses have a white chocolate taste and consistency to them, it worked well together.

Although I only chopped up some candy to mix in, I might end up melting some next time to see if making a swirl would work. If you don't like the pumpkin spice kisses, leave them out! The white chocolate ice cream alone is well worth it as well.

White Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Kisses Ice Cream
ice cream base adapted from The Ultimate Ice Cream Book

1 cup whole milk (I only had 1¼ cup heavy cream, so I upped this by ¼ cup)
2 large eggs
12 oz white chocolate, chopped (or white chocolate chips)
1 ½ cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
¾ cup roughly chopped pumpkin spice kisses (about 20)

In a medium saucepan on low heat, bring the milk to a simmer. Remove from heat and slowly pour and beat it into the eggs in a medium bowl.

Pour entire mixture back into the saucepan and whisk over low heat with a wooden spoon, until you feel that it's thickened slightly (do not bring to a boil or the eggs will scramble).

Remove from heat and add the chocolate. Mix well until the chocolate melts entirely.

Strain the mixture into a large measuring cup using a fine sieve colander. Allow to cool slightly then stir in the heavy cream and vanilla.

Cover and refrigerate until cool, or overnight.

Pour custard mixture into ice cream maker and freeze per the manufacturer's directions. Transfer ice cream to a bowl and fold in the chopped kisses. Freeze for a few hours until ice cream has firmed up.

Makes about 1 ½ quart.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Vegan Multigrain Waffles

Lately when Gary isn't asking for pancakes, he's heating up a few frozen waffles for breakfast. His latest addiction is quinoa waffles. He loves the nutrients and protein it gives him, and it gives him more energy for whatever he needs to do. I haven't found a quinoa waffle recipe yet, but if you have one let me know.

I did decide to make this multigrain version to try out as an experiment. You see, I "borrowed" my sister's waffle maker a while back, and I don't plan on returning it anytime soon :). These came out great, and I liked the wholesome nutty taste the oatmeal added. Overall, this recipe is a keeper as a basic waffle that will fill you up all morning.

This was an easy recipe to whip up in the morning. My 15 yr old waffle maker heated each batch up in about 7 minutes.

Vegan Multigrain Waffles
source: Vegan Visitor

1 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup quick cooking oats
1/3 cup ground flax seed meal
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 TBSP white sugar
2 cups soy milk
2 TBSP vegetable oil

Preheat waffle maker according to your manufacturer's directions.

In a large bowl whisk together all the dry ingredients (flour through sugar). In a mixing cup, add the oil to the soy milk. Whisk the milk into the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined, and most lumps are gone.

Spray or brush the waffle maker with oil. Pour enough batter into waffle maker and cook per the waffle maker's instructions. Mine took about 7 minutes each batch of 2 waffles. Repeat until batter is used up, spraying/brushing more oil as necessary.

*make sure you don't cover after removing from the waffle maker, otherwise it will get soggy
*toast the waffles to make them extra crispy
*store leftovers in a freezer bag and reheat in toaster for a quick morning breakfast!

makes about 8 waffles (more or less depending on your waffle maker)

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Apple Upside-Down Cake

APPLES! I had a lot, and between the free ones I eat at work and the 5lb bag I bought for home, I was up to my ears in apples. I've been enjoying them with peanut butter at work everyday, but there's so many apples a girl can eat before I get sick of them. Then came this recipe. I saw this upside down apple cake and thought it looked delightful.

I trust King Arthur and their recipes, even if they have recipes that require their specialized products. One of the ingredients this recipe called for was a few tablespoons of boiled cider. I haven't tried it, and I'm sure it's great. HOWEVER, since I will probably never use it other than the few tablespoons for this recipe, I decided to sub apple cider. I think it worked out fine. If you need an apple cake, this one turns out moist and dense, what a perfect fall cake should be.

One note is that a 2" high pan needs to be used. I didn't have one and used a leakproof springform pan. That was probably why some of the brown bits on the bottom stuck to the pan. It may also be because I forgot the grease the pan. Please don't make that mistake if you're using a regular pan.

Apple Upside-Down Cake
adapted from King Arthur Flour

2 medium apples (or 3 small apples), peeled, cored, and sliced (reserve one apple top)
4 TBSP butter (I used Earth balance)
3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 TBSP apple cider
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup light corn syrup

3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 TBSP apple cider
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 large apple, peeled and finely chopped (or 2 small)
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, optional

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" round cake pan at least 2" deep. Line the bottom with parchment, and grease the parchment.

Slice the top, including the stem, off one of the apples and set it aside before peeling and slicing the rest of the apples into 1/4" thick wedges. (an apple peeler corer was very helpful here!)

Place the apple top, stem side down, in the middle of the pan, and overlap the rest of the apple wedges in a ring around it.

Prepare the topping by heating the butter, sugar, apple cider, cinnamon, and corn syrup together over low heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.

Pour 1/2 cup of the syrup mixture into the prepared pan, and set the rest aside.

make the cake:
Beat the oil, brown sugar, apple cider, eggs, spices, and salt together for 2 minutes at medium speed

Mix the flour with the baking soda, and stir it into the batter.

Add the chopped apple and nuts, and mix until just blended.

Drop scoops of the batter atop the apples in the pan, gently spreading to cover.

Bake the cake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted near the center comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven, and run a thin spatula around the edge to loosen. Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn it out onto a serving plate, bottom side up. Scrape out any sauce that remains in the pan, and spread it over the cake.

Reheat the reserved topping. If butter starts to separate as you reheat, add water by the teaspoon and stir until the butter rejoins the rest of the sauce.

Pour the sauce over the cake. Serve cake warm or at room temperature, with whipped cream if desired.

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Friday, October 7, 2011

Caramel Apple Tart

It's that time again! The time my home gets a little chilly, but the heat doesn't turn on until November...the joys of renting! Times like these, I'm so glad that I love baking, and it's the time for fall recipes!

I participate in recipe swaps every so often, and this week's theme is fall recipes using apples or pumpkin. I got this caramel apple tart from So Tasty, So Yummy. At first, I was wondering how I would adapt the entire thing to be dairy free so Gary can have it as well. I didn't. Oh well. He doesn't have to be my guinea pig for every recipe I try.

I ended up bringing this over to my parents when we went over for dinner. My cousins loved it! I particularly liked the crust, and especially the caramel. Oh, the caramel. Let me tell you, I was eating this by the spoonful  and I didn't even wait for it to cool down. I was lucky I had any left over to drizzle over the top!

I was also happy that I was able to roll out the dough without many issues. I let it rest on the counter after taking it out of the fridge, since it was practically rock solid when I took it out. That made the dough more pliable and much easier to work with. Other than that, everything pretty much went without a hitch.

Remember to check out Sarah's blog for the full roundup of recipes from the swap!

Caramel Apple Tart
adapted from So Tasty, So Yummy, originally from Martha Stewart & Bon Apetit

2 ½ cups flour
1 TBSP sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1//2 inch cubes
3 to 4 TBSP ice water

caramel sauce:
¾ cup dark brown sugar
¾ cup heavy whipping cream
3 TBSP unsalted butter
1 TBSP corn syrup

2 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP unbleached all purpose flour
5 firm baking apples, peeled, cored, cut into sixteenths (I used gala, original recipe used granny smith)

prepare the crust:
Pulse flour, sugar and salt in a food processor until combined. Add butter and process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. With the machine running, add ice water in a slow steady stream until mixture just begins to hold together. Shape dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate 1 hour or up to 3 days, before using.

make the caramel sauce:
Bring sugar, cream, butter and corn syrup to boil in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking constantly until sugar dissolves. Boil, whisking often, until caramel thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon thickly, about 8 minutes. Caramel sauce can be made up to 5 days ahead. Remove from heat, cover and chill. When ready to use, whisk over low heat until warm.

make the filling:
Preheat oven to 375° F.

Whisk flour and sugar in large bowl to blend. Add apples and toss until evenly coated.  Remove dough from fridge and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 13-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Cut overhang even with top of pan sides. Arrange apple slices in circle around outer edge of pan, fitting snugly. Arrange remaining apples snugly in the center.

Bake tart until apples are tender, about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove tart from oven and brush with some of the caramel sauce. Cool tart to room temperature. Rewarm remaining caramel sauce. Drizzle tart lightly with sauce.

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Vegan Orange Cinnamon Rolls

When I saw this recipe in the Vegan Diner book, I knew I had to try it. I was always intimidated from making cinnamon rolls, because it had ingredients and steps I hate the most...yeast, and rolling out dough. When I read the instructions for this recipe, I thought it was pretty simple, so I gave it a try. I'm so glad I did, because this came out beautifully! The dough rose as instructed, and it rolled out nicely as well!

I've only seen recipes for cinnamon rolls that included milk, so I would end up having to adapt it. This recipe called for soy milk powder, which I always have on hand anyway. I use it when I make bread recipes in the bread machine, so this recipe was right up my alley. I usually purchase it at Whole Foods, but if you can't find it, you can omit it and sub the 1/2 cup of water with soy milk.

Vegan Orange Cinnamon Rolls
adapted from Vegan Diner

1/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup water, room temperature
zest of one orange
1/4 cup hot water (110°-115°F)
1 tsp granulated sugar
3 3/4 - 4 cups unbleached all purpose flour (start off with 3 3/4 cup and add as needed after kneading)
2 TBSP soy milk powder
1 tsp fine salt
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast

3 TBSP vegan butter (rec: Earth Balance)
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

2 cups powdered sugar
3 TBSP orange juice (fresh from the orange you zested)

Spray or liberally coat a 9x13 baking dish with oil or shortening. Set aside.

In a large measuring cup, measure and whisk together agave, orange juice, 1/2 cup lukewarm water, and orange zest. Set aside.

Place in the bowl of a stand mixer, add hot water and sugar. Then add flour, soy milk powder, salt then yeast last. Turn on mixer on low to stir and combine.

Add liquid ingredients slowly while the mixer is on to form a ball. Replace with the dough hook of the mixer and knead for 3-5 minutes until the dough is smooth. If it's still sticky, add more flour 1 TBSP at a time.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm area and let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size. (I turn my oven to warm for 5 minutes, shut it off, then put the bowl in the oven to rise.)

Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and roll out to a 16x12 rectangle. Brush on softened butter/margarine while leaving a 1/2 inch border. Sprinkle brown sugar on top and spread evenly. Then sprinkle cinnamon on top of the sugar. (I sprinkled out of my spice jar and didn't measure.)

Rolling along the long edge, form a spiral, jelly-roll style. Pinch the edges to close up the seams. Using a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut into 12 even pieces. Place the pieces into the prepared baking pan and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise again for 30 minutes until almost double.

Remove plastic wrap and bake in preheated oven at 350° for 30-35 minutes until firm to the touch and lightly golden. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

For the glaze, whisk together powdered sugar and orange juice in a medium bowl. Drizzle over warm cinnamon buns and serve.

Makes 12 cinnamon buns.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Foodbuzz Tastemaker: Godiva Coffee review

Happy National Coffee Day!

Today, we celebrate the greatness that is coffee! You know, most days I get out of bed not so well relaxed. I am definitely in need of my coffee fix in the mornings. However, I'm not one of those who has to have one in the afternoon as well. If I ever do, it would be a decaf cup, just for the taste of it.

Now that it's fall, I've been craving pumpkin everything. As a member of Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, was so excited when I was accepted to get a sample of Godiva's seasonal limited edition flavors: Pumpkin Spice and Caramel Pecan Bark.

I brought both bags to work along with my trusty french press and had a little coffee party. If you don't have a french press, and love strong brewed coffee I highly recommend it! All you have to do is pour the coffee grounds into the press, add hot water and let seep for 5 minutes. Then push the plunger down, and enjoy!

My coworkers and I all enjoyed the Pumpkin Spice. It had a wonderful smell and tasted equally as nice. It was brewed dark, but because it was done on the press, it didn't have that bitter taste coffee usually has. I also brewed some on my Keurig at home, but I recommend the press.

The Caramel Pecan Bark was good as well, but I thought it had bits of sweet notes that were too strong for me. I'm not a huge sweets person (you wouldn't be able to tell from my blog huh?) so it was a little off putting. It would be a great dessert coffee paired with a coffeecake or such, but not as a daily morning brew.

My net take: get a french press then get the pumpkin spice coffee :)

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received two complimentary bags of Godiva Coffee. All the reviews and opinions are my own.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pear Pie

To tell you that I've had this recipe bookmarked for a while is an understatement. I saw this recipe almost 3 years ago, and I just got around to making it.

I don't really have any excuse other than we usually don't have pears on hand. Since pears are one of the fruits we don't buy often I totally forgot about this recipe until now. Whole Foods had some organic pears on sale, so I remembered this recipe when I snatched some up.

Lately, I've had a bit of bad luck with pie crusts. Since I need to make a dairy free crust for Gary, I haven't found the right crust, until now! This crust rolled out wonderfully, and it didn't crack while I was rolling it out. I think I've found the one! Gary also thought the crust worked out well and that it had a buttery aspect to even though I didn't use butter.

Pear Pie
crust adapted from Being Vegan and Getting Away with It
pie filling adapted from Honey and Jam

pie crust:
1 cup all purpose flour (plus more as needed and for dusting)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup non hydrogenated shortening
4 TBSP ice water

2-3 ripe pears, peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/4 inch thickness (I used 2 pears and it was sufficient)
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup butter (I used earth balance)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs, beaten

Preheat the oven to 350° F (175°s C).

prepare pie crust:
In a large mixing bowl whisk together flour and salt. Cut in shortening using a fork or pastry cutter until the mixture looks like course crumbs. Slowly pour in water while mixing with fork in a circle. Once all the water is in, knead and form the dough into a ball. If the dough is sticky, sprinkle Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in fridge for 10 minutes. (I skipped this and it was still fine.

Roll out dough for a 9" pie pan and place in pan. Cut off excess dough from the edges and flute or press edges with a fork.

prepare filling:
Peel and cut pears in half. Remove cores and slice into 1/4 inch thickness (approx). Place the pear slices down in the pie crust with the small ends toward the center to create a circular design in one layer. Chop excess pears and place in the center.

In a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time until light and fluffy. Stir in flour and vanilla. Pour mixture over the top of the pears to completely cover.

Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven, until pears are soft and custard is set in the center. Cool completely before slicing and serving.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Banana Bread with Crunchy Streusel Topping

banana bread

Over the weekend, a gal named Irene came to NYC. You've heard of her right? She was supposed to come in and swoop us off our feet, but for us she was all bark and no bite. Don't get me wrong, there was massive flooding throughout the city and some houses were wrecked, but our apartment was fine. I did manage to find a leak in the kitchen window we need to get fixed. I'm actually not sure if the crack was a result of the earthquake or not, since I've never noticed a leak before.

Well, since we weren't able to go out, I decided to bake. I had 6 ripe bananas, and no room in the freezer, so banana bread it was! I've made banana bread before, but it was a while ago. It only called for 3 bananas, so I found this one in the BHG Cookbook. I love this cookbook, and I should use it more often. It's a great all around cookbook.

I omitted the walnuts in this recipe, since I didn't have it on hand, but if you have them, I would put it in. I probably won't next time either, because after I finished baking, Gary told me that he doesn't like nuts in his bread. Who knew! You would think that after 10 years together, I would have known something like that! I also replaced some white sugar with brown sugar, and reduced the overall amount by 1/4 cup. It was perfect for me, but Gary thought it could be sweeter.

I love that I was able to whip this up without bring out the stand mixer. Overall, this stayed moist and delicious even after a few days. I stored it in a plastic ziptop bag, but the streusel ended up soggy. If you know how to keep it and keep the crunchy top, let me know!

Banana Bread with Crunchy Streusel Topping
adapted from Better Homes and Garden Cookbook 14th Edition

2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 5 medium)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 TBSP all purpose flour
2 TBSP cold butter (I used Earth Balance coconut spread)
1/3 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a 9x5 pan.

In a large mixing bowl combine dry ingredients (flour through nutmeg). Make a well in the middle of the bowl for the wet ingredients and set aside.

In another medium bowl, whisk 2 eggs, then add wet ingredients (banana through oil) and mix well. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir well until just incorporated. Batter will be lumpy. Pour batter into prepared pan.

To make the streusel, combine the brown sugar and flour in a small bowl. Using a fork or pastry blender, cut in the cold butter until mixture resembles course crumbs. Sprinkle mixture over the top of the batter.

Bake in preheated oven for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Veggie Loaded Turkey Meatloaf

veggie turkey meatloaf

As I was making the chocolate zucchini cake, I shredded a bit too much zucchini. Gary came home with some ground turkey so I decided to use the rest of what I had in this meatloaf.

We rarely eat meatloaf, but Gary for some reason wanted after seeing the meatloaf pan on an infomercial. So I have my fair share of unitaskers, but this one was something I would NOT get! I have two loaf pans and they're already rarely used, so getting another one was out of the question!

I think this meatloaf turned out great. Leftovers were even great as a sandwich! Gary thought it could have used a little bit more salt, but it was fine for me. So if you like things a little bit saltier, you might want to add more. This is definitely a great way to use up some leftover summer vegetables!

Veggie Loaded Turkey Meatloaf
sauce adapted from

1.5 lb ground turkey (the pack we bought was 1.3 lb)
1 medium zucchini, grated about (1 cup grated, more or less)
1 large carrot, grated
1 egg
1/2 cup panko
1/2 tsp salt (more or less to taste)
1/4 tsp black pepper
2-3 dashes worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup ketchup
2 TBSP brown sugar
1 TBSP brown mustard

Preheat oven to 375°. Spray a 9x5 loaf pan with cooking spray (not necessary if using nonstick)

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients for the loaf (turkey through worcestershire sauce). Shape into a loaf and press into loaf pan.

Bake in preheated oven for about 50 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 160°.

While baking, prepare sauce. Spread sauce over top of the loaf, and put back into oven for another 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice and serve as sandwiches or with sides of your choice.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Chocolate Buttercream

You would never have known that this innocent looking chocolate cake would be chock full of vegetables!

For my mom's birthday, I decided to make this chocolate zucchini cake. I purchased some zucchini because I had plans on making chocolate chip cookies with them. I didn't make them yet, but since I was going to need to use them up, I made this cake. I figured if carrot cake is one of my faves, why not zucchini!

This cake came out beautifully and nobody knew there were hidden vegetables inside! My little cousins ate up big slices and gobbled it up just like any old chocolate cake! However, I'm not saying this is a healthy cake, since it does have a lot of oil in it! I originally intended to use some applesauce in place of some oil, but I noticed it was already expired, (whoops). I also don't know what the nutritional value of the zucchini ends up being after it's baked into a cake.

Even after I mixed in the eggs and oil, I thought the batter looked a little stiff, almost cookie batter-like. However after I folded in the zucchini, it was fine and easily pour-able. I used my food processor to grate the zucchini, and I did not squeeze out any liquid.

I did change this from a bundt cake recipe to a layer cake one. I omitted the nuts since I didn't have any on hand. For the frosting, I reduced the amount of sugar by 1/4 cup from the original recipe.

*note: this is tagged as dairy free, as the cake itself is dairy free. For a dairy free/vegan chocolate frosting option, see this cupcake recipe.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake
cake adapted from
frosting adapted from More from Magnolia

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil (or replace some with applesauce)
3 cups grated zucchini (about 2 medium)

9 oz semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled to lukewarm
3 sticks (1.5 cups) unsalted butter, softened
2 TBSP milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

bake the cake: 
Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C). Grease and flour two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Add the eggs and oil, mix well. Fold in zucchini until it is evenly distributed. Pour into the prepared pans.

Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to wire racks and cool cake completely before frosting.

prepare frosting: 
In a medium saucepan bring an inch of water to a boil. Reduce heat to low to simmer. Place chocolate in a glass or heat proof bowl over the simmering water and mix to melt the chocolate. Once all the chocolate is melted, remove from heat, set aside and let cool to room temperature, 5-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, on medium speed beat butter in an electric mixer for 3 minutes until smooth and creamy.

Slowly pour in milk and continue to beat for 2 minutes. Add vanilla and beat for 3 more minutes. Add in powdered sugar in small increments and beat at low speed until it reaches the desired consistency.

Frost cake as desired.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Rosemary Bread (bread machine)

A little while back, I bought a bread machine on clearance. It was $20 and too good of a deal to pass up. Now, I know some people think it's just a uni-tasker and not worth it since it takes up too much space. I think it is worth it because we want homemade bread, but I'm not one of those who likes to knead bread or wait for hours for dough to rise then punching it and then doing some other stuff to get my point right? This is so much easier since I just measure out all the ingredients and I let it do the work for me.

I've made a few loaves now, and Gary really likes the basic white bread that I've made with coconut oil. He actually ate half the loaf in almost one sitting, and the whole loaf was done within a day.

While I've been testing it out, I stumbled upon a few hiccups (like forgetting to put the dough hook in before starting it!). I hope to use this some more in the next few months and get a few recipes on the blog.

rosemary bread

One of the recipes I tried out was this rosemary bread. When I saw this post, I knew I wanted to try it out, but I wasn't sure if Gary would go for it. To my surprise, he thought it looked good too! All I was missing was the rosemary, so once I got that, I was good to go. I'm glad I decided to make this. This would go great with some olive oil or paired with an Italian dinner. It will probably work well as rolls as well.

Rosemary Bread (bread machine)
adapted from: So Tasty, So Yummy, originally from

1 cup warm water
3 TBSP olive oil
1 ½ tsp white sugar
1 ½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1 TBSP fresh rosemary, minced (about 2-3 sprigs)
pinch of each: basil, oregano and marjoram
2 ½ cups bread flour
1 ½ teaspoons instant yeast

Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer.

Select white bread (basic) cycle and one pound loaf. Press start.

Allow to cool for 1 hour before slicing.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Key Lime Bars

For the July 4 holiday, I was stumped when I was deciding on a dessert. I saw these and wanted to make it, but it wasn't dairy free, thus me making the brownies. However, I really wanted to make these since they looked so good, so I ended up making both.

key lime bars

I'm glad I made these, because they turned out beautifully. I'm not really a heavy dessert person, so these were still light from the citrus even though there was so much butter and eggs. These were a hit at the bbq as well, and I heard it was great with vanilla ice cream!

Also, I love key lime pie, so I thought key lime juice would be great instead of lemon. Since I'm in NY, key limes are hard to get by. I used some bottled juice I picked up from Fairway, and it worked wonderfully.

Key Lime Bars
adapted from: via I was Born to Cook

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour

4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup key lime juice

Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C).

In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Mix in 2 cups of flour. Press into the bottom of an ungreased 9x13 inch pan.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until firm and golden. In another bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1/4 cup flour. Whisk in the eggs and lime juice. Reserve 1 cup of batter for dyeing (eyeball it). This is totally optional. You can pour all the batter over the crust without the marbling effect.

Pour batter over the baked crust.

Dip a fork or small whisk into green gel food coloring or add a few drops of liquid food coloring. Whisk into the reserved batter. Pour over the pan to create lines in the middle (it's ok if it's messy). Using a toothpick, drag through the batter to create a marbled look.

Bake for an additional 20 minutes in the preheated oven.

Remove from oven and let cool completely before cutting. The bars will firm up as they cool.

Makes 24 squares.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Star Shaped Brownies with Coconut Milk Ganache

Happy 4th of July! What are your plans today? I'm spending time with my family and having a bbq.

If you're still looking for a dessert recipe, look no further! These cute brownie stars are easy to make and festive for the holiday. I came up with this when I was at a lost of what to make that was dairy free. I decided to go back to a tried and true recipe and snazz them up.

brownie stars

I coated the white and blue brownies with candy melts (added food coloring to make blue since I didn't have blue melts). I had red candy melts as well, but since the candy melts aren't dairy free, I made a coconut milk ganache and topped it with red sugar. I think they turned out pretty nice if I don't say so myself!

I didn't use up all the ganache, so I see truffles in the future!

Star Shaped Brownies with Coconut Milk Ganache
adapted from an existing recipe

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2/3 cup canola oil, divided
1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 TBSP espresso powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or carob chips)

recipe coconut ganache (below)

Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C). Line an 11x17 rimmed cookie sheet with foil. Spray with baking spray.

In a large bowl, stir together the cocoa and baking soda. Add 1/3 cup vegetable oil and boiling water. Mix until well blended and thickened. Stir in the remaining 1/3 cup oil, sugar, then eggs one at a time. Add the flour, vanilla and salt; mix just until all of the flour is absorbed. Add in the espresso powder. Mix until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan.

Lift brownie out of pan using the foil. Cut into star shapes using a cookie cutter. You may need a knife in case the cookie cutter doesn't go all the way through.

Melt candy melts per the package directions. Spread the coating on top of the brownie. Let harden in the fridge and store at room temp after hardening. I did this because my home is warm and it didn't set right at room temperature.

for the ganache:
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla extract

Bring 1 cup of coconut milk to a boil. Remove from heat once boiling.

Place chocolate chips in a medium heat proof bowl. Pour boiling milk over chocolate chips. Let sit for one minute, then whisk until smooth. Stir in vanilla.

Cover with saran wrap, making sure it touches the surface so a skin doesn't form. Allow to cool at room temperature.

Dip one side of the brownie into the ganache and add red sugar. Cool in fridge until set. Store at room temperature.

Makes about 16 brownies (depending on your cookie cutter size) with leftover scraps of brownies.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Breakfast Muesli with Raisins and Flaxseed


This past week, I decided to participate in a recipe swap with a few ladies from the message boards I frequent.  I wasn't sure what I was going to end up getting, but I did request something dairy free to be adaptable for Gary.

This week's theme was breakfast items. I shared the strawberry pancake recipe that Gary loved so much! I received this breakfast muesli. I was concerned when I got this, because I've actually never seen Gary eat oatmeal. I've always been the oatmeal/yogurt/cereal type breakfast person, and he was the meat and potatoes type. Little did I know, his dad used to make oatmeal with eggs for him all the time! I also love how this was prepped and left alone overnight, so it was great when we were rushing out the door the next day!

I originally started out to halved this recipe since we were going to be out of town for a few days. I accidentally poured too much maple syrup in, so I ended up making the full amount. Glad I did, because we actually loved it and ate quite a bit of it in one sitting on it's own.

I did have a few adaptations. I omitted the wheat germ since I didn't have any on hand. I subbed the cranberries with these giant plump raisins I had, and I ended up using the quick oats since it was all I had. I thought I had regular, but I was mistaken. Nonetheless, it worked out fine. I also used almond milk to keep it dairy free.

Check out Taste of Home Cooking for the entire recipe swap round up!

Muesli with Raisins and Flaxseed
adapted from: Baby Food Scoops

2 cups rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
1/2 cup dried cranberries (I used raisins)
1/3 cup wheat germ (I omitted)
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup maple syrup (may alternatively use agave nectar or sorghum)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
3 cups milk (I used almond)

For serving: yogurt, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, chopped nuts (pecans, almonds, walnuts), fresh fruit

For drizzling: maple syrup or agave nectar

Combine first seven ingredients (through vanilla) in large bowl.

Pour milk over mixture, stirring to combine.

Cover and chill at least 4 hours (or overnight).

to serve:
Place yogurt in a bowl or custard cup.

Top with oat mixture and add desired toppings.

Drizzle with additional maple syrup or agave nectar, if desired.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Chicken Katsu (Japanese Fried Chicken)


We recently got new smartphones and we were playing around with it. I downloaded the allrecipes dinner spinner app and showed it to Gary. He immediately started playing around with it and was amazed! He bookmarked a few recipes to try, and this was the first that he wanted to make since it seemed simple enough.

It was indeed simple, and tasty…but I’m a sucker for anything fried! The only thing we would change about this would be the tonkatsu sauce that we made. We found one on All Recipes as well (mentioned in the comments of this recipe, but it ended being totally inedible. Since we were fine with it plain, we omitted the sauce. We halved this recipe to feed the two of us.

Chicken Katsu
adapted from:


2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - pounded to 1/2 inch thickness
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 cup oil for frying, or as needed


Season the chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper.

Place the flour, egg and panko crumbs each into separate shallow dishes. Coat the chicken breasts in flour, shaking off any excess. Dip them into the egg, and then press into the panko crumbs until well coated on both sides.

Heat 1/4 inch of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place chicken in the hot oil, and cook for 3 or 4 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Mine were a bit thicker, so I cooked a little longer, about 5 minutes per side.

Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to soak up the oil. Slice and serve over jasmine rice and top with tonkatsu sauce (optional).