Brownies, a fuzzy duckling butt, and a dead fridge

IMG_2240 I’m back I’m back I’m back! Whew. Finally. Except I feel like I said that in my last post… I just have NO TIME to cook or bake interesting things. But… it’s not forever, so I’ll just deal for now. But I miss my invisible internet friends! So today, I have brownies and some random things from life lately. That are sometimes food but mostly not… Because I’ve gotten back into my doodle habit! It took a looooong hiatus all though college but it’s back, and all I want to do is draw. Like this: IMG_2234 And this! IMG_2224 And this. IMG_2235 I also ate this weird tuna-beet-hybird the other day and it was actually delicious: Steamed beets sautéed in a little bit of olive oil with mushrooms, topped with tuna and avo and mustard all mashed up together. I know, I know, I describe it so deliciously… But seriously. Who knew beets and tuna could be friends?! IMG_2219 And then it was Easter! IMG_2226 IMG_2216 Which meant bacon and chocolate and more bacon and more chocolate and also a quesadilla that was PERFECTLY GOLDEN which I admired and promptly spastically threw on the floor. Inadvertently, natch. It was actually kind of comic and hilarious and I a little bit wish I had a picture…. but not really. There was also an incident that particular weekend involving a cake that stuck horribly and ended up gracing the compost…. but let’s not talk about that. Obviously not exactly a banner weekend for cooking shenanigans. IMG_2244 So now I have these brownies to share, because brownies are awesome! These aren’t overly sweet (they’re sweetened with dates and maple) and are gluten free. They’re on the fudgier end of the spectrum rather than cakey, so if you’re seeking the latter, you might want to toddle off to another recipe. IMG_2239 They’re also not as wickedly dark as I usually make my brownies, mostly because there was this solid chocolate bunny lying around and he said that he wanted to be in brownies… So now he is. Don’t worry, no bunnies were harmed in the making of dessert… IMG_2243 IMG_2242 Also…. SO FUN! Our fridge died on Wednesday morning. NO, fridge, that is NOT ACCEPTABLE. You do not just die with no warning. I have nut butters in you!!! So now I am sort of living out of a cooler? Until the part that died is ordered… it is really not spectacular fun. I don’t exactly recommend it… especially when you love love love produce, and all those fancy nut flours that need to live in the fridge. These brownies were an excuse to use up some of the perishable biz (as was the banana bread that happened right after these)… and also, an excuse to use some of the awesome organic-fed eggs from my neighbor! Wheee! Local at it’s best. IMG_2238 IMG_2246

Almond Flour Brownies 

Lightly sweet and appropriately chocolatey, these brownies are gluten free, grain free, and refined sugar free. The recipe is lightly adapted from Culinary Couture, here! Recipe yields a 8 by 8 pan (and it’s up to your discretion how large you want to cut them, I definitely won’t be judging). IMG_2247 IMG_2241

  • 1 c almond flour
  • 3 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 oz dark chocolate
  • 1/4 c coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 10 small deglet noor dates* (actually, I think medjool would be way better but I was using what I had)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 almond butter (mine was roasted + unsalted)
  • 1/4 c extra dark chocolate chips

*Soaked in boiling water for 10-15 minutes if they’re all craggy and hard, or if you just have a wimpy food processor Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease an 8 by 8 pan with coconut oil. In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, coconut flour, sea salt, baking powder, and cocoa powder. In a smaller bowl, melt chocolate and coconut oil together, either using a double boiler or the lazy microwave method (I may or may not have done that, ahem). In a food processor, whizz your maple syrup, soaked dates, vanilla, eggs, and almond butter. Process until mostly smooth (less than a minute is fine), then add chocolate-coconut oil and process until incorporated. Dump this very thick, goopy goodness into your dry ingredients, add chocolate chips, and use those biceps to stir it all together. The batter will be very thick, so enjoy the arm workout. Spread the batter into the prepared pan (I found that a spoon followed by damp hands did the trick nicely), and bake for 20-22 minutes. I took mine out at 22 but probably could have gone a little less. Let cool before slicing, and store in an airtight container. IMG_2242 IMG_2212

Let’s face it, Wednesdays are just that much better with cake!

Happy Wednesday :)

I have been in such an insanely good mood lately! So… I decided to make cake! Because everything is even better when you have cake. Especially Wednesdays. Especially after an awesome double workout (which was LEGIT and got me super pumped for the rest of my day)! Especially when it’s healthy. Disguised as cake.

This is the kind of cake that invites trimming. You know, like when you cut a slice, and then think to yourself, “hmm. That end looks a little… ragged. I better trim it off to make sure it looks nice…” And so on, until you’ve cut yourself a second slice consisting of ‘trimmings’. I wouldn’t have any experience with this, oh no. Of course not. What makes you say that? It wouldn’t be that I’m currently working on my second “slice”, would it? No, I thought not. Ahem. Moving on!

But ohhh my goodness is this cake worth trimming. I finally had to put it away so I wouldn’t eat it all before Kira got home from work (which really wouldn’t do, I’d promised to share). It is soft and cakey, sweet but not too sweet. Perfect for a light dessert that you can feel good about eating! Whole grains, bananas, and healthy coconut fats. What’s not to love? The cake itself isn’t very sweet at all, but the glaze really kicks it up a notch and makes it mind-blowingly fantastic. Just what everyone needs on a Wednesday. So do yourselves a favor, and go make some cake. I even photographed a bite for you… so you’d get inspired :)

A bite, just for you!

Banana Chocolate Cake with Banana-Coconut Glaze

Adapted from Oh She Glows, via Lawfully Wedded Wife, here! I made a half batch, which in retrospect was probably stupid, it’s SO GOOD. I might have to make another. Oh, drat. I’ll include the full recipe, for your convenience…but if it’s just you and a roomie, feel free to halve it! For those of my cholesterol-conscious friends, this cake has…none! So go ahead and enjoy yourself :)

Here is your bite, Mutti, as requested!

For the cake!

  • 2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 c oat variety (I used rolled oats, quick would be fine)
  • 1/4 c brown sugar (Possibly a little more if you like a sweeter cake, this was perfect for me)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 c milk bev (I used soymilk)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or canola, or melted coconut would be fine I’m sure)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 c applesauce
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • a judicious handful of chocolate chippies

For the glaze:

  • yet another ripe banana
  • 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 c unsweetened shredded coconut

mmm, coconut!

Preheat the oven to 350, and grease a cake pan. (I used a round 6″ for my half batch; an 8″ round or 9″ square would be fine for the full batch).

In a largeish bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, oats, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. In a medium bowl, mash bananas, and then add soymilk, vanilla, applesauce, and olive oil. Add liquid into dry, and stir in your chocolate chips until the batter is just mixed.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan, and pop into the oven for just about 30 minutes. My half-size cake was finished at 25 with a slightly gooey center, which is DELICIOUS. Just sayin’.

While the cake is baking, make the glaze! Toss the banana into your food processor, and pulverize until smooth. Add in powdered sugar and vanilla, and whiz again to combine. Dump all this goodness into a bowl, and stir in coconut! Wait until the cake has cooled before frosting. I turned mine out onto a plate, but feel free to leave it in the pan.

I decorated mine with sprinkles because, hey. Sprinkles are bomb. I decided that this awesome Wednesday would just be that much better if I put sprinkles on it :) Enjoy your sprinkled mid-week cake! Drool. Eat. Love!

:)

Chocolate cake pairs wonderfully well with cello sonatas.

So proud!!

Okay so…

I know that generally speaking, you’re not really supposed to brag about how fabulous your cooking is. But that’s too bad, because I’m going to break that rule. Just for right now…

side view :)

Because I am SO PROUD of this cake! I made it for Ian’s Senior Recital on the cello (which was also beyond fantastic, congratulations, Ian! And thanks for playing Beethoven’s cello sonata in A, it’s my favorite :), and I just had to share it with you. Because it’s sort of like my child. That’s how proud I am! Besides, everyone deserves a little horn-tooting of their own every so often. I’ve actually already posted the recipe on this blog, but this version is like a classier cousin of the one I made before. If you want the recipe, it’s here! This is still one of my favorite cakes: malted chocolate cake, with malted buttercream! The stenciled patterns are done with malt powder. The pictures speak for themselves :)

Congratulations, Ian! You were BOMB.

mmm, frostingggg!

three layers of goodness.

Ludicrously cookie picky.

Cookiehenge?!

Really?!

I just realized I have never posted a cookie recipe on this blog! This blog, in whose title COOKIES plays an extremely large part. Mind blown.  This is on the scale of severe cookie deprivation. Cookies are… my favorite things.

EVER. But I’m really particular. No, let me rephrase that. Ludicrously picky. Just ask anyone who has ever come with me to buy one in a bakery or somesuch. I’m that kid. The one who points to a cookie waaaay back in the back under about five other cookies and will not walk away until that specific cookie is in my possession. Yep. That kid. And chocolate chip is my ultimate favorite. Except only the ones that are chewy/slightly crunchy on the edges, and chewy/soft in the middle. See? I’m not picky, or anything… To date, the best chocolate chip cookie I’ve eaten is from a bakery at home—I get one every time I fly up to Oregon, and have been known to buy one a day in advance, if I’m flying out too early to get one the day of. Whatever, at least I have my priorities straight!

But the funny part is… I am fundamentally unsatisfied with the chocolate chip cookies that I make. Weird, I know. But I way prefer to get them from a bakery (a good one, mind you…no cookie schlock for me). However. This does SO not apply to other cookies I make… these, for instance. I LOOOOVE pumpkin, as we know. So it goes without saying that I LOOOOVE pumpkin chocolate chip cookies even more. Besides, opening a can of pumpkin but not using it all gives me an excuse to eat my favorite pumpkin-y breakfasts. And having cookies around makes my days sooo much better.

See that top one trying to escape? It found a nice home in my tummy...

These cookies are my favorite kind of pumpkin cookies: cakey and soft. I know there is some debate in the cookie camp over whether a cakey cookie is acceptable, and I would certainly agree that cakey cookies are WORTHLESS when I want a good chocolate chip (refer to above statement regarding acceptable cookies). However. Pumpkin cookies are designed for cakey factor. Pumpkin somehow makes cakey acceptable. I enjoy these based on their cakeyness.

However. If you try to trick me with a cakey chocolate chip cookie, I don’t think we can be friends.

Just kidding! We can be friends. I just won’t eat your cookies… and you’ll owe me an acceptably chewy one ;)

So. Without further ado, here are the cookiesss!

of course I don't play with my food...

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies

Adapted from here!

I made half the recipe, as per usual, which gave me 11 good-sized cookies (good sized, as in you don’t feel cheated with one, or guilty with two. Not you should ever feel guilty about eating cookies, I mean really. They’re COOKIES!) I’ll post the halved recipe here.

  • 1 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • heaping 1/8 c rolled oats (ish… I didn’t measure, so just use your judgement)
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda (Apparently I forgot this in my recipe, but my cookies turned out fab anyway)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1 egg
  • very scant 1/2 c sugar (I used brown with a smattering of turbinado)
  • 1/4 c canola oil
  • 1/2 c pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • a judiciously large handful of chocolate chips (it never pays off to stint on choc chippie)

Preheat the oven to 325. Grease (hoooray, coconut oil!) your cookie sheet. These cookies don’t spread, so I was able to get the whole bunch on one cookie sheet. Also why I love half recipes—it’s as close to instant gratification as I can get when making my own cookies!

In a mediumish bowl, whisk dry ingredients together (flour, salt, soda (If you remember it, ha), powder, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg). Toss in oats and stir to combine.

In a largeish bowl, beat egg and sugar with an electric mixer until light colored and foamy. This doesn’t take very long, hooray! Add in oil, pumpkin, and vanilla, with the mixer on a lower speed. Add in flour, attempting to NOT spray it all over your kitchen (NO, I did not do this…this time, anyway. It’s definitely been known to happen). Fold in choc chippies once the flour is all incorporated.

Make cookies!! This is easy. Drop by enormous spoonfuls onto the greased cookie sheet, and pat into a cute roundy shape. Or not, your call. Alternatively, you can be weird and make more normal sized cookies. To which I say, pssshhhhhh. Big cookies are the way to go. I particularly love when they’re palm sized… or the size of my face. Even better. Anyway, mine were decently sized, perfect for snacking :)

Bake until the cookies feel firm to the touch on top, and a tester comes out clean. Mine were done at exactly 16 minutes, and I left them on the cookie sheet for a bit before taking them off. A metal spatula works best for getting them to the cooling rack.

Eat, ideally with a glass of milk, in your sweatpants, while the weather does crazy things outside your window. Silly Salem, this weather makes me want to bake instead of thesis. And eat copious amounts of cookies. Ah well, I shan’t fight the urge ;)

 

I have constructed… Muffinhenge!

Muffinhenge?!

Baking itch.

I swear, I totally get this. Like,  I can be sitting in class or at home, nicely minding my own business, when suddenly…

SHAZAAM!

Baking itch. Must. Bake. Must. Bake. NOW. NOW NOW NOW. Usually I do enough baking and cooking and futzing to keep myself satifsified… except apparently not this weekend. Oops. I’m sure it had something to do with the copious amounts of art history theory and methodology studying that I did this weekend, oh joy oh rapture. Midterms. Ew. I have some new wall art now: 17 sheets of binder paper taped together, chronicling the theory behind the establishment of the art historical discipline. EW. At least its pretty! Probably the overload of methodological thought made me want to conceptually analyze the different Warburg-ian iconology I could get out of a muffin. Or some bread. Clearly I’ve been at this too long.

Incidentally, it really doesn’t help that I also happen to be writing a paper on Wayne Thiebaud’s 1963 oil painting Cakes, which means that to write the damn thing, I have to stare at a lusciously painted bakery window of cakes, with frosting painted with such thick impasto that you feel like you could stick out a finger and swipe some. Sheesh, subliminal messaging to go bake something, much?! A gorgeous painting, but really?! Why do I do this to myself? I could have done a nice cityscape, but no, apparently not.

Wayne Thiebaud, Cakes, 1963. Oil on Canvas

Whatever, theories and methodologies, whatever. I will do excellently on my midterm (fingers crossed!), and eat delicious baked goods. Perhaps not so frostingtastic as Wayne Thiebaud, but healthfully indulgent nonetheless.

Oh. And I had pumpkin waffles for dinner! I share this because they were super tasty. If you aren’t having waffles for Sunday dinner, you should. However. Alas alack, I didn’t really feel like photographing them. You’ll just have to take my word for it that they were tasty. Chalk it up to hunger and laziness… I’ll post that recipe when I’m satisfied with it—I think it needs some tweaks.

So today, I’m sharing two bread/muffin recipes. One I’ve made before and I know for a fact it is DELICIOUS. The other is a variation on my weekly snackie muffins, because Kira and I decided to change things up a little bit. Besides, after sharing three savory posts in a row, it’s time for some baked goods :]

Playing with my food? Pshhh, no...

Boston Brown Bread

Adapted from here!

The fun of this bread is that you get to make it in cans! It makes little cute roundy loaves. This bread is WONDERFUL, and full of quintessential fall flavor. You can also make it into muffins—Kira and I made half the batch, so we ended up with two can loaves and 2 muffins. I’m posting the full recipe, which yields 5 can loaves.

Acquire the following!

  • 3 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 c turbinado sugar*
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 molasses
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking soda stirred into
  • 2 c buttermilk (or buttermilk alternative)
  • 1 c raisins, plumped (optional, we left them out this time, on account of not having any. It’s good either way!)

*When making half the recipe, I reduced the sugar to a scant 1/4 c. The bread is plenty sweet enough, so in a full batch, I would likely use anywhere between 1/3 and 1/4 c (the original calls for 1/2 c). Adjust as you see fit!

Combine wet, combine dry. Mix away! Grease and flour your cans or muffin tins. Pour the batter into the cans, about half full. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes, covering the cans with a cookie sheet. Uncover, and bake for 10 more minutes. Remove from cans while still hot. Run a knife or icing spatula around to get them out. If baking muffins, there is no need to cover them, but the time will vary. Ours was somewhere around 30 or 40—done when a tester comes out clean! Best with a bit of butter :]

Okay, I lied. I was playing with it, teeheehee!

Almond Butter, Banana and Jam Muffins

Adapted from here! I’m posting my half recipe here.

Whatcha need:

  • 3/4 c plus 1/6 c whole wheat pastry flour (random, I know, but just go with it)
  • 2 tsp cornstarch (organic, please!)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/6 c brown sugar
  • 1/2 c milk type beverage (this happened to be skim—we had some left for us, but neither of us really drink it straight, so in it went!)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c almond butter (chunky is awesome. Peanut butter is the original, but we had more almond butter)
  • 1/2 banana, mashed
  • a handful of oats, just for fun
  • assorted jams (mine were strawberry, peach, and pumpkin butter)
  • a smattering of choc chippies, if you’re awesome like me

Preheat oven to 375. Grease yo’ muffin tins.

Sift the dry ingredients (flour, cornstarch, salt, baking powder), and then whisk in brown sugar. In a separate bowl, vigorously whisk the milk, egg, almond butter, and banana (to develop your guns of steel, duh) (at least I don’t have you whipping egg whites, THAT gets fun with out a mixer).  Add wet to dry, and stir just to combine (you can chuck in your choc chippies whilst combining).

Add half the batter to your tins. Mine are JUMBO tins, although I don’t think they make very jumbo muffins… whatever. If you think it’s less than half, err on the side of less. On top of your bottom layer of batter, dollop some filling of choice (jam or pumpkin butter or whatever. Now that I think about it, nutella would be excellent). I used about a teaspoon per muffin. Dollop in the rest of your batter, carefully covering the filling of choice.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Allow to cool for a bit in the pan before you take them out.

By the way.

These totally solve my problem: with all my other muffins, I cut them in half to sandwich them with nut butter and jam. But for these, I DON’T HAVE TO! Woah. What a concept.

eek! Long post, sorry about that :] Have a fabby week!

This may or may not have been falling over as I took this...

Inadvertent Tuesday Baking Spaz

Six point five inch cake pans are probably the best invention in the cooking world.

Seriously! I had no idea how much I was missing out until they came into my life… I make EVERYTHING in them! They’re perfect for two people (because really, even I think a 3 layer, 9 inch cake for two is a wee bit excessive), and it means that Kira and I can try even more things, since we don’t have to forage our way through a huuuge amount of food. Perfect.

Tuesday’s random baking occurrence happened to involve some blackberries, nicely donated by Kira’s lovely Mutti. What better use for slightly-tart blackberries than in CAKE?! And what better excuse for breakfast than a whole wheat cake with fruit?! Or midmorning snacking. Or mid afternoon. Or whenever.

I really love snack-type cakes. You know, like the type that isn’t very sweet, usually made in an 8 inch pan. They take me back to my childhood, when my wonderful Mutti would make crazy chocolate cake, and I would come home and power down a fourth of the cake (no, I’m not joking) for an after-school snack. No milk, either—milk is for sissies! I’ll chase my cake with a shot of ice cream, thank you! I would (and maybe still do, *ahem*) eat it by excavating the cake from underneath, to preserve the glazed bit on the top and on the sides, to be eaten last and with great relish. Corner pieces are my favorite–all the glaze puddles in the corners! I’ve been known to scrape the glaze off of Vati’s cake, when he was distractedly looking the other way, teehee! Not that I do that anymore, psshhh…

Anyway. This random baking spaz involved, like I said, blackberries. Lots of antioxidants in those cute little seedy characters. This cake was significantly less sweet than most cakes, which Kira and I really liked. We reduced the sugar a bit, but it has a nice crust of crunchy turbinado, which provides a bit more sweetness. This cake got a definite two thumbs, waaaay up. It really would be perfect for a light ending to a brunch, and I’m sure it goes well with ice cream (what doesn’t?!).

Not the most aesthetic, but WHATEVER. It was delicious, and we wanted cake sooner rather than later.

Blackberry Yogurt Cake

Adapted from here!

Though we made it in 6.5″ pans, I’ll post the full recipe :). We made a few adaptations—I’ll note them in the recipe.

Preheat yo’ oven! 350, pleeease. Lightly grease your pan of choice (originally a 9″ round cake pan).

  • 1 egg
  • 1.25 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • generous pinch of salt
  • 1/4 c butter (we used unsalted), softened (or microwaved, if you’re lazy like me)
  • 1/2 c sugar*
  • 1.5 tsp sugar for sprinkling on the top, for crusty deliciousness!
  • 1/2 c plain yogurt, thinned with a bit of milk**
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • blackberries, as many as you deem appropriate

*As you know, I have a penchant for reducing the amount of sugar in recipes. This one originally called for 2/3 c for the entire cake. Since we halved it, I used 1/4 c brown sugar. Kira and I both like it—if you want it sweeter, feel free to up the sugar. If I made the full batch, I’d probably use a scant 1/2 c.

**The original recipe called for buttermilk. We have it, but it’s currently in a bit of a frozen state for preservational purposes… as we (rightly) thought we’d not use it right away. Since plain yogurt is a buttermilk substitute, we used that instead, and thinned it out with a bit of milk. It worked perfectly! I would totally do it again.

Whisk the dry ingredients in a medium-type bowl: flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugar with your trusty handheld mixer that you inherited from your grandmutti, until light and fluffy. Add in egg and vanilla.

Mix in the flour, being careful not to spray it everywhere with the electric power of the beaters. I do NOT speak from experience this time… well, rather I speak from experience in that it DIDN’T happen this time, so there! Alternate the flour and the buttermilk until you have a batter. It’ll be rather thick.

Spoon the batter into the pan, and place the berries into the cake, pressing them down into the batter. Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the top (make sure you don’t skip this—it’s excellent!). We used turbinado, and it creates a super tasty crunchy crust.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown. For a half recipe, it was probably somewhere around 25-20 minutes (just keep checking after 15 until a tester comes out clean).

Indulge your gastronomical gremlins’ snack attacks any time of day… they’ll love you for the change from muffins to cake (because they’re fickle like that). Besides, it has fruit and a serving of whole grains, AND reduced sugar. I’m thinking this makes it a nicely balanced snackie, which should appease both you and your gremlins :)

A Visit to Sconehenge

Sconehenge!!

I’ve always really wanted to see Stonehenge, since it totally fascinates me, and I love hearing new theories on how the ancients moved the sarcens and bluestones. Unfortunately, that is going to have to wait until after I finish this whole thesis business, and have some form of  a steady income and can therefore afford a jaunt over to the other side of the pond. Which is totally on my to-do list, by the way. Also because I really need to replenish my stock of digestive biscuits (which really don’t aid digestion at all… but I can pretend they’re beneficial, right?! Right. Besides, they’re chocolate dipped. See? Antioxidants), since I love them. But I would love them more from their country of origin.

Anyway. I’m getting sidetracked (what else is new?!). Yeeesh.

Since today is Sunday and Kira and I are having mega roomie veg time, we decided it would be a baking day! It’s also rather gray out, which is waaaay conducive to baking. Currently there are delicious bread smells wafting from the kitchen, which is making me hungry for dinner despite the fact that it’s 3:30 in the afternoon….  and this morning, instead of making muffins for the week, I made scones!

See? Sconehenge? Get it? I had to settle a bit, and instead of going to see the real thing, I opted for Sconehenge… a much more attainable monument. Sadly, I can’t claim the invention of that amazing word… I have Sconehenge bakery in Berkeley to thank for that.

My original idea was banana scones, since yours truly goes through a metric ton of bananas a day, and therefore we always have a bunch sitting around. These scones are moist and not too sweet, perfect for a snack. It makes six, and in the interest of preserving roomie harmony, we decided next time to make a double batch (they’re that good). Incidentally, they’re also good for you, hooray! They’re made with whole wheat flour and olive oil, and there actually is no added sugar in the original recipe. I added about a 1/2 tablespoon of brown sugar, but this is probably unnecessary. I also subbed dried cranberries for the cherries, as that’s what we had.

Side note. I had NO IDEA that a Craisin was simply a dried cranberry. I totally thought it was some weird, sweeter hybrid of a cranberry and a raisin… which I suppose is kind of what they are… but really?! I just figured this out. Whatever. In my childhood they were always just dried cranberries. So there.

Anyway… without further babble, here is the recipe! I highly recommend these for a healthier scone. And then you can play around and make Sconehenge towers out of your scones! Which is fun. Not that I did it, or anything…

Banana Cranberry Scones

Adapted from Anja’s Food for Thought, here

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour*
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
a generous handful of dried cranberries
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large, ripe bananas, mashed
another handful of choc chippies

*I used 1 C of whole wheat pastry flour, and 1/2 c oat flour. We have a bag of oat flour that needs to be used before the middle of the month, so in it went. I’ve been making the muffins with it, and its a pretty standard sub for wheat. If you want to make your own, you can chuck rolled oats into the food processor.

Preheat the oven to 400.

Believe it or not, this is even easier than the muffins.

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mash bananas, and then mix in a lightly beaten egg (or you can beat it in the bowl with the bananas, they don’t seem to mind), and olive oil.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and then add your cranberries and chocolate chips. Stir the dough until just combined. The flour sometimes doesn’t want to incorporate all the way, but in the end, the dough is rather wet, which is fine. Drop by the spoonful onto a parchment or wax paper lined cookie sheet.

Bake for 15-20 (mine were perfect after 15), until lightly browned and a tester comes out clean.

Let cool. Or not. Snack happily :)

Craisins. Cranberry. Whatever.

Now Panic and Eat Cake!

The caking continues!

and cards!

Hello everybody! This is Kira, Hayley’s recently-arrived roomie. You might remember me from the banana cake issue preceding this. As the newest occupant of the Nerd-aerie (aka our apartment) I feel it is my solemn duty to make an appearance here in order to introduce myself, since I’ll be sharing in many of the cooking adventures to be featured in the coming posts. And what better occasion than the baking of a cake in celebration of my roomie/partner-in-crime’s 21st birthday? None, I say!

Let me just start off by saying that, while I do love me some good foods, and making them too, I have never been much of what you would call an instinctive or experimental cook. As a rule I find me a recipe and follow it! But living with Hayley (and reading her blog!) is challenging me to get a bit more creative, so for my first project I gave myself a little creative license and even improvised a bit.

I came across a recipe (in one of Hayley’s cookbooks) for orange cake, which sounded perfect, since we even had a lone orange that was lurking around the kitchen just waiting to be used (and the theme of this blog is cooking with what you have!), and since I wanted to make something a little different than just your typical chocolate birthday cake.

yummmm.

Orange Cake with Dark Chocolate and Orange Glaze

I found the original recipe in Hayley’s Moosewood Cookbook. That one calls for an orange glaze, but I thought that was much too boring, especially for a birthday cake. A birthday cake should have at least some chocolate! Plus the idea of orange with dark chocolate has been on my brain ever since a potluck I went to a few weeks ago where someone had brought candied orange rinds dipped in dark chocolate– heavenly! (And something on my list of future experiments)

What you need for the cake:

butter for the pan
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp grated orange rind (I upped this slightly, as I wanted it to be really orangey)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 Tbs baking soda
Whisked together:
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup plain yoghurt
1/2 cup orange juice

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 10-inch tube or bundt pan (I halved this recipe on account of not having enough butter, not having a bundt pan, and not having 12-16 people to share it with! The halved recipe still makes a respectably-sized cake that fits great in a 9×9 in. cake pan).

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.

Stir in the orange rind and vanilla. Set aside.

Sift together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add this to the butter mixture
alternately with the combined yoghurt and orange juice, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix by hand after each addition–just enough to combine well.

Turn into the prepared pan. Bake 50-60 minutes, or until a knife inserted all the way down comes out clean. (*Note: if you make a half recipe, like I did, definitely set it for 50 minutes first and make sure to check it–60 min would have gotten me a burnt cake for sure!) Cool for about 15 minutes, then invert onto a plate (if you’re using a bundt pan, otherwise ignore). Allow to cool completely.

Dark Chocolate Glaze with Orange

Okay, so this is where I got creative. The recipe calls for an orange glaze, but I’m going to give you my chocolate one instead, as I think it was superior.

What you need:

1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 Tbs butter
small amount boiling water
grated orange rind

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a small saucepan, then add the boiling water until you get the consistency you want–pourable but preferably not watery. Add orange rind to taste. Lower heat and simmer uncovered for about 3 minutes, stirring often. Pour the hot glaze onto the cooled cake and garnish with sliced orange peels. Let stand at least 10 minutes before slicing.

*Note: these are the glaze proportions I used for my half-recipe cake. If you go whole hog (in a manner of speaking) you might need to double this, depending on how much chocolatey goodness you want on your cake.

Also, food for thought–you could try adding 2-3 Tbs orange liqueur to the glaze mix as well! It would have been exceptionally fitting in Hayley’s 21st birthday cake, but sadly I had none to hand at the time.

In conclusion…

The cake was a delicious success, not too sweet and excellent with vanilla ice cream and fresh-picked blackberries, or (in the spirit of the thing) Kahlua!

Not a lush, I promise!

Keep Calm and Cake On!

old picture, from Wurstfest. But cute! Roomiesss!

The Roomie has landed! Our apartment is now officially EPIC. And the fridge is fully stocked with deliciousness, hooray! Be prepared to read about lots of shenanigans that will most likely ensue, in the kitchen and otherwise. Or, if you’d like to witness it yourself, you can come stay in the closet/guest room. Yep. We have a guest room sized closet, be jealous.You can be like Harry Potter, in his cupboard! Except more awesome,  since we’re WAY cooler than the Dursleys.

Because I was SUPER EXCITED that the Roomie (otherwise known as Kira, just so we’re all on a first name basis here…) was arriving, I decided to make… a CAKE! Of course. What else?!  The only problem was that I made it Saturday… and she wasn’t arriving until Sunday night… which meant that I spent all of the time between wanting to eat it. Oops. But I didn’t! Willpower wins, so there! Take that gremlins! Be satisfied with your muffins and stop bothering me.

Also, in the interest of my quest to utilize everything and not waste anything, I had my eye on some dangerously ripe buhhhnahhnnas (say it with a drawl or an accent, it’s much more fun!). Because why would you make anything else when you could make banana cake?! Besides, it’s only the BEST BANANA CAKE EVER, and who needs an excuse for that?! I certainly don’t. In fact, one of the besties at home (Michellleeee!!!) can vouch that this cake is epic. AND the Roomie like it. A lot. So YAY! Cake wins all around. Moral of the story: Make cake whenever possible. Or as the British government wisely said, Keep Calm and Carry On. Or, rather… in my case… Keep calm and cake on. Always!

adorable small cake

Fabulous Buh-naah-na Cake

Adapted from The Pastry Affair (a really fab blog!), here

This cake is delicious. It’s simple, requires mostly what you have on hand in the pantry, and comes together in snap. Not only that, but it’s surprisingly light—a nap is not obligatory after finishing a slice :) The banana and chocolate flavors come together perfectly, and there is a perfect banana to chocolate ratio. It’s excellent with vanilla ice cream, of course (what isn’t ?!), but also stands divinely on its own. I always refrigerate it, so the glaze stays hard, but it’s really good out of the fridge, so everyone wins.

Whatcha need:

For the cake:

2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (or microwaved until soft. I’m always too impatient)
1/2 cup white sugar (or less. I always use less—maybe more like 1/3 c)*
3/4 cup brown sugar (also less. Like maybe 1/2 c. Depends on your preference for sweet)*
2 large eggs
3 overripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk

*I’ve also successfully made this cake in a half batch, with 1/2 c coconut sugar in place of the brown+white. I LOVE it this way, but up to you!

Preheat the oven to 325. Grease two 8 or 9″ cake pans (alternatively, make half the recipe, like I did for Kira, and use two 6.5″ pans. Perfect for two roomies!)

Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon,  and salt.

Using a hand mixer, cream the sugars and softened butter together until fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating after each. Add vanilla and mashed buhnahnas. Mix again.

Add in buttermilk and flour, alternating between the two, and starting and ending with flour. You can use your mixer for this too, which is obviously nice. Pour your batter into pans, and inhale the lovely banana aroma. Bake until golden and a tester comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. (It’ll be less for the 6.5″ pans–unfortunately I’m not sure how long mine took. I set the timer for 20, and watched them carefully from there. I’m thinking about 25 total). Let cool in pans for at least 10 minutes, and then let cool completely before frosting.

Keep Calm… and Sprinkle On? I think so.

Chocolate Glaze

In a double boiler, melt together 1/2 c of butter, and 2 c of chocolate chips. For a 6.5″ cake, I used a little more than half of this amount. I also threw in a little vanilla—it’s a nice addition. Let this cool a bit before frosting, otherwise it’s extremely runny. Which is kind of fun, but not exactly aesthetic…

Top with sprinkles! Of course. What else?! This is why my gremlins are technicolor.

Enjoy with a fab roomie, who you are super excited to live with, after a really civilized picnic-style dinner of good cheese, crusty bread, fresh basil, and fresh veggies. YUM.

din din!

I look like I’m about to fling the cake on the floor, oops!

AND THEN.

Do a happy dance because your lovely parents bought you a surprise for your 21st birthday on Friday! A RED Kitchenaide STANDMIXER! Happy, happy, HAPPY! Danke schoen, Mutti and Vati, you are quite possibly the BEST EVER!

Kitchenaide, you are my new pet!

Tales of a muffin tin

MUFFINS! On a Sigma Nu plate, naturally...

Once upon a time, there were gremlins. These gremlins resided in Hayley’s upper digestive tract, mostly in the area of the stomach. Small beings, probably technicolor (likely thanks to large amounts of sprinkles consumed. whoops).

Now. Hayley normally has a very amicable relationship with the gremlins… except sometimes. They. Get. HUNGRY. And when they get hungry… well… more like hangry. Hungry-angry. You don’t want to be around them when they get hangry. Vociferous complaints start emanating from their subterranean hideout. And only a certain amount of vocal placating will suffice before they start rioting.

However, there is one thing that the gremlins love more than anything else.

Can you guess?

SNACKS!

Gremlins LOVE snacks. Especially home-made ones, that don’t come in packaging, and are derived from whole foods (not the store, silly!). What can I say, these gremlins are a bit picky (although  they prefer the word particular, thankyouverymuch). But. If Hayley can placate them with the right kind of snackies, life gets insta-better! No more hangry subterranean grumblings from small technicolor beings, and no awkward pauses in class when the gremlins attempt to loudly voice their dissatisfied opinion on the contents (or lack thereof) of Hayley’s stomach region.

Pause. Reverting to first person. As much as I like describing my gremlins in the context of their relationship to me in third person… Awkward.

Recently, I discovered a handy snackie that appeases the gremlins! MUFFINS! Thanks to Gillian, who gave me the bright idea of making a batch of muffins on the weekend, for snacks during the week. I knooooow all of my classmates are SUPER jealous when I roll into class with a homemade, healthy muffin. Yep, that’s right. Whole foods, non-processed, and a tastily convenient way to deal with all the random items in your fridge. Muffins are extremely forgiving :)

Whole foods+non-processed snackies=happy gremlins! (which in turn yields a happy Hayley, as we are a very symbiotic being…)

Here’s the recipe! I use this as a base, and throw in whatever I happen to have on hand, or whatever sounds good when the mood for muffins strikes. I cut these in half before I leave for class, and swipe some nut butter and jam or honey in the middle! Squash them back together and no one is the wiser ;)

down at muffin level

Muffin Madness, makes 6 (I make half the recipe, so it lasts me about a week)

Adapted from Easy Peasy Organic, here

  • 1 large egg (or flax egg, if you don’t have eggs)
  • 1/8 c olive oil (or whatever)
  • 1/2 c lowfat plain yogurt (milk, soymilk, or anything milkish is fine, I really like them with yogurt)
  • 1/8 c brown sugar (I prefer less sweet, if more sweet appeals to you, that’s fine! Honey also works, as does any sweetener)
  • 1/4 c rolled oats
  • 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 c oat flour (or whole wheat, I like to use two different kinds)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
**Any add-ins you might want! My favorite combos are:
*mashed banana with cinnamon and vanilla, chocolate chips, and huckleberries
*grated fresh ginger, mashed banana, unsweetened shredded coconut, and chocolate chips
*grated raw sweet potato, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla, choc chippies, and coconut
*anything, really. Just make sure you adjust the batter consistency to be not too runny (add flour), and not too thick (add milk/yogurt). It should be thick but not too thick, if you know what I mean… sorry for not being too specific! These are really forgiving. Don’t worry, I’m sure they’ll still appease your gremlins.
Preheat oven to 350, and lightly grease a muffin tin (I usually use coconut oil for this).
Mix the egg, oil, yogurt, sugar, and oats together. Add in whatever other wet add-ins you have (ie banana, vanilla, pumpkin, sweet potato, whatever), and stir to combine.
Mix your dry ingredients in a separate bowl, and then add liquid to dry. Be careful not to over-mix, since that makes for tough muffins! Just barely incorporate all the flour. Check consistency, adjust as needed.
Spoon batter into the jumbo muffin tin you are so justly proud of finding ON SALE at Sur la Table, and pop into the oven. Depending on your add-ins, bake time will vary, but I usually bake mine for about 20 minutes. Just keep an eye on them… I’m sure your gremlins will be happy to do that for you, as it means fresh, hot muffin for them, straight out of the oven! Excellent with earth balance, jam, nut butter, honey, or all of the above.
Enjoy the satisfaction of placating your own gremlins! (Don’t try to deny it, I know you have them too ;)