Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Peanut Butter Cup Blondies

February is heart health month, and we do various things in our office to raise money for the American Heart Association. We had a bake sale (oh the irony!) and I brought these peanut butter cup blondies plus some red velvet cupcakes decorated to look like roses!

I added a few drops of gel food coloring to get the pink shade of frosting. I used the 2D Wilton tip and piped from the inside out to create the rose effect. Not all of them came out as I liked, but everybody thought they were really cute and some told me they looked like a bouquet of roses.

Back to the blondies. When I first saw this recipe, I didn't think this recipe is in any way light. Come on, peanut butter cups, butter, eggs, and sugar? Then I looked and it was cut into 20 pieces. Well, if you eat an square inch blondie full of fat, I guess it's light? The picture on the site is really deceiving and it looks like it's a giant blondie.

I read the rave reviews, and most mentioned they had to bake for a lot longer, but they didn't mention how much longer. I played it by ear and tested it every few minutes. The batter seemed to come out clean at 23 minutes. When I cut into it, there were still a slight bit that was undercooked, but that's totally fine with me. If you need it cooked a little longer, by all means, go ahead.

To be more realistic, I cut this into 12 pieces, 16 would have worked too if I was sharing with my family. I brought it to the bake sale and it was the first to go within the first half hour of the sale. That has to say something right? Try this, you won't regret it!

Peanut Butter Cup Blondies
made by cathy's kitchen journey
adapted from Cooking Light

  • 5 3/5 ounces (about 1 1/4 cup) all purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup (half stick) butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 TBSP milk (whatever you have on hand, I used soy)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 15 mini peanut butter cups, chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly spray an 8x8 metal baking pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of your mixer. Stir to combine.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs, then whisk in the peanut butter, butter, milk and extract. Add to the dry ingredients.
  4. Beat the ingredients until just combined, then stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Pour batter into baking pan then use a spatula to spread evenly. Place the chopped peanut butter cups on top and press down.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 23-25 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. You may want to try a different section if peanut butter/chocolate comes up instead.
  7. Allow to cool completely in the pan before cutting into 12-16 pieces or however big you want them.
Yield: 12-16 servings

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Lentil Black Bean Stew

I've been looking for more lentil recipes so I can make something other than lentil loaves. This recipe came to me as part of the recipe swap, and it looked good to me. I showed it to Gary, and I'm so glad he's now on board with most vegan, bean, and lots of healthy recipes!

I think this came out ok. I made a mistake of not cooking the lentils enough and they were a little bit undercooked. It does say cook for 25 minutes, but I thought since I used brown lentils I could cook it for less time. I kept testing it out, and individual lentils were fine, but once I had a spoonful, I could tell it wasn't cooked enough. I also added a whole can of black beans instead of the 1 cup. I was a little confused with the ingredients list since it was all in one paragraph, but 1 can worked out. I think there wouldn't have been enough food for Gary if I only used 1 cup.

On a side note, don't you hate buying a can of tomato paste to use only one tablespoon at a time and the rest go to waste? Well, I bought a tube from Whole Foods a while back and left it in the fridge. It's lasted forever, and I can squeeze out as much as I need at a time. Of course, if you have a can of the stuff, you could probably freeze it and it will work the same, but I think the tube is easier.

Also, remember to check out Sarah's blog for the full roundup of soup and stew recipes, including my submission of hearty beef stew.

Lentil Black Bean Stew
made by cathy's kitchen journey
adapted from Runner's World

  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup lentils, rinsed and picked over for stones
  • 1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • juice of one lime (1 TBSP)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cilantro for garnish

  1. In a pan on medium heat, add oil, and onion and cook until soft. Add garlic, spices and saute for 1 minute.
  2. Add vegetable broth, tomato paste, then cover and bring to a boil.
  3. Add the lentils and cook until tender, about 25 minutes.
  4. Partial mash the black beans and add to the pot. Add the lime juice, salt and pepper, and cook for another 5 minutes.
  5. Transfer to bowls and garnish with cilantro.
Yield: 2 servings

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Spiced Cake Donuts

I finally broke down and bought a donut pan. Gary has wanted me to make donuts for a while now, but I refused to make them. I haven't been the biggest donut fan because they are fried greasy messes. Have you ever eaten one for breakfast, burped hours later and that taste came right back up with the burp? Yea, I get that and it grosses me out. It stays with me all day and it's not the healthiest breakfast out there to start the morning off right.

Another reason I didn't want to fry anything at home was because of the hassle of using a lot of oil, then not knowing what to do with it afterward. The cleanup is a mess, and it's not worth it for a dozen donuts. Then came the baked donut. It's lots easier to make and easy cleanup as well. I've seen many recipes out there, so hey, why not. It'll get Gary off my back and I can have cake for breakfast :). I started off with the recipe right on the back of the packaging, adapting it slightly to make it dairy free. The first words out of Gary's mouth, "Wow, these are good!" I guess these are a winner!

I haven't quite got the hang of how much batter to use yet, as you can see by the different sized donuts in the picture. I'm hoping my future donuts are just as delicious and uniform in size.

Spiced Cake Donuts
recipe by cathy's kitchen journey
adapted from the back of the Norpro package

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup soy milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 TBSP shortening
for the glaze:
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 TBSP hot water
  • sprinkles, optional

  1. Preheat oven to 325° F. Spray the donut pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, spices, and salt.
  3. Add in milk, eggs, vanilla, and shortening and mix until just combined.
  4. Fill each donut cup about 3/4 full.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes until donuts spring back when touched.
  6. Cool slightly before removing from pan.
  7. To make the glaze, whisk together the confectioners sugar and hot water. Dip the donut to coat on one side. Flip over and sprinkle the sprinkles on top if using.
Yield: 12 donuts

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Roasted Sesame Maple Ginger Tofu

I've always liked tofu, but other than putting it in soups like my mom did, I never really ventured out. When I saw this baked tofu recipe, I knew I had to try it. It looked simple enough and the flavors sounded great. Gary was onboard, so that was also my deciding factor in finally making it.

This tasted great and Gary enjoyed it even though it wasn't fried! It had a nice crispy exterior and chewy center that worked very well. I did reduce the sesame oil by half, since Gary doesn't like the taste of it. He's fine with everything else sesame though, go figure.

Sesame Maple Ginger Tofu
made by cathy's kitchen journey
adapted from Cara's Cravings

  • 1 block extra firm tofu, pressed, cut into 1 inch squares
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 TBSP tahini
  • 1 TBSP soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 TBSP pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
  • 1 TBSP sesame seeds
  • pinch of ground ginger
  • pinch of red pepper flakes

  1. Preheat oven to 475° F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil, spray with nonstick cooking spray and add the tofu cubes. Lightly spray the top with more nonstick cooking spray and season with salt & pepper.
  3. Roast for 10-12 minutes, or until the pieces of tofu are lightly browned on the bottom. Turn the pieces over, and roast for another 10 minutes.
  4. Whisk tahini, soy sauce, sesame oil, maple syrup, vinegar, sesame seeds, ginger, and pepper flakes in a small bowl until combined.
  5. Remove the tofu from the oven, and toss with the tahini mixture.
  6. Pour the the tofu back on the sheet, and drizzle the remaining sauce on top. Return the sheet to the oven and roast for another 5-7 minutes, mixing with a wooden spoon halfway through, until desired crispiness is reached.
Yield: 2-3 servings

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Potato Sausage Breakfast Scramble

Most weekends, I try to make something new for breakfast or dinner. I don't have much time on weeknights, so it's my time to experiment. Sometimes recipes fail, but this one was definitely a success.

I received this breakfast scramble for the recipe swap and I knew Gary would love it too. We're huge fans of potatoes (the theme of the swap) as well as the eggs and sausage. We've made similar breakfasts using the same type of ingredients, but I don't recall ever scrambling everything together.

Since we don't eat pork, I used some fresh turkey sausages for this. The links I bought were in a 1lb package, so I used half. I also used two potatoes instead of one, well, because one just didn't seem like enough. In the end, Gary asked for more, so this was definitely a hit!

Remember to check out Sarah's blog for the full roundup of potato recipes, including my submission of sweet potato chili! Yes, sweet potato counts!

Potato Sausage Breakfast Scramble
recipe by cathy's kitchen journey
adapted from Cooking for Fun

  • 1 TBSP oil
  • 8 oz turkey sausages, casings removed
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • shredded cheese, optional

  1. In a large skillet over medium high heat, add oil and brown sausage, breaking it up as it cooks.
  2. Add potatoes and onion to the pan, and add a splash of water. Cover and cook about 10 minutes or until potatoes are soft.
  3. Move sausage and potato mixture to one side, add egg to the empty side of the pan and scramble. Gradually mix into the sausage mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. If adding cheese, add now and cover until melted. Transfer to bowls and serve.
Yield: 2 servings

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Vegan Mocha Muffins

If you're looking for a super sweet breakfast treat to start your morning, sorry, you're not going to find it here. What you'll find here is a great healthy muffin which has just the right amount of sweetness that will start your morning off right. I'm not saying that I don't eat sweets for breakfast. I've eaten a cookie before and considered it breakfast. Heck, one of my favorite cereals is Cinnamon Life, even if I haven't eaten it in a while.

As I've grown up, my tastes have changed and I tend gravitate toward healthier options. Getting Gary to eat healthier has been a struggle at times, but even he has changed over the years. In the past, he wouldn't be caught dead eating a vegan meal, now he loves most of them.

I made these one Saturday morning when I got up seconds before my alarm even went off. It snowed all night and left us with a few inches outside. What a better way to start off the morning with a warm muffin out of the oven! I made these while Gary was still sleeping and he ate 2 immediately. He enjoyed them and that's awesome to hear from someone who used to eat 5 whoppers in one sitting when he was a teen!

The only change I made from the original recipe was swapping out plain unsweetened soy milk for the vanilla kind. Gary's picky about soy milks, and the Westsoy brand is only made with soy beans and water, the less ingredients the better!

Vegan Mocha Cupcakes
recipe by cathy's kitchen journey
adapted from Vegan Diner

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 TBSP flax seed meal
  • 1 TBSP instant espresso powder
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp fine salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 TBSP vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup brewed coffee, cooled
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line or grease a 12 cup muffin tray. Brew coffee and reserve 1/4 cup for batter. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, flax, espresso powder, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. In a separate large bowl, whisk the sugar, milk, oil, and vanilla extract until smooth and combined.
  4. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined, then whisk in the cooled coffee.
  5. Stir in the chocolate chips. Using a 1/4 cup ice cream scoop, divide the batter into the 12 cups.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until tops are puffed up and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. (mine were done at 20)
  7. Cool in pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Yield: 12 muffins

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