Tag Archives: Baking

Oh Hello!

Hey friends, remember me?!

I know I haven’t posted in awhile, but that’s because I’ve been busy trying to enjoy the last days of summer (while refusing to believe it’s almost over), and more importantly, because I really haven’t had much to say.

I’ve been in the kitchen cooking up some really great dishes. There have been a few that I’ve come up with on my own and hope to re-create for blog post purposes, but the majority of them have been based on recipes I found online. I’m not one for “photo dump” posts, but I want to share these recipes with you guys, since they were big hits in my house.

Dessert theme, clearly.

Dessert theme, clearly.

Clockwise from the top left:
1. Vegan Oreo Pancakes: Reminded me more of an Almond Joy (it uses shredded coconut) and is awesome. Definitely a “dessert for breakfast” type pancake.
2. Flourless Chickpea Chocolate Chip Blondies: I know, chickpeas in your dessert? It sounds weird, but is absolutely delicious. It’s vegan so you can eat the entire thing raw if you want (and it’s gluten free)! I need to make these again ASAP.
3. Peach & Blueberry Spiced Muffins: I’ve had a surplus of blueberries and peaches from my CSA box, and this was the perfect way to use some. The spices added a nice hint of almost-Fall, with fresh summer fruits.
4. Agave Lime Tofu with Asian Slaw and Chipotle Sweet Potato Mash: First time using The Conscious Cook cookbook I’ve had forever – SO awesome and easy to make.

Aside from cooking and eating, I wish I could say that I’ve been running and crushing marathon training with my ankle issue far behind me. Unfortunately that isn’t the case. I took a full week off per my doctor’s suggestion, and seemed okay when I started back up for that first week. I was a little achy and sore in places, but it wasn’t unbearable. I assumed that I would just have to run through the discomfort, and eventually things would start to feel better. I started the second week after seeing the doctor with a decent 6 mile run, and followed it up the next day with a 4 miler that just didn’t feel good. I woke up the following morning barely able to walk, and extremely frustrated. I saw my podiatrist that afternoon, and he really didn’t have any suggestions for me. He told me to come back in a month, and if the pain was still there, I’d be sent for an MRI. Nothing like a non-answer to make you feel better! I haven’t run since then (it’s been a week), and to be honest, I’m kind of lost. Do I wait until the pain is completely gone from walking (it is now), and try to run again? Do I wait longer before trying to run? I need to find someone with answers, or at least suggestions! I’ve had a few suggestions to go to a chiropractor and get some ART done, so I think that is next on my to-do list. I’m still planning to run (or walk, if I have to) the 10k and half marathon for the Disneyland Dumbo Dare at the end of the month, but I’m undecided if I’ll still run the Richmond Marathon. I may drop down to the half, or defer to next year. I’m so thankful that this particular race at least provides those options!

At least I have this sweet all-sport Picky Bars water bottle to keep me company!

At least I have this sweet all-sport Picky Bars water bottle to keep me company!

Even though I haven’t been running, I’ve been trying to stay in shape. I also figured if I couldn’t run, it would be the perfect opportunity to try and get myself a 6-pack, and increase my overall strength (LOL on the 6-pack). I’ve been participating in Kat’s August Core Focus, and adding in my own variations (hello Pinterest). I’ve also come up with some decent arm workouts that use only your body weight and 5-10lb. dumbbells. Maybe I’ll share it in a fun little graphic one of these days. I’ve done a few biking sessions at the gym, have done yoga almost every single day, and have a swim planned for tomorrow — first time back in the pool in at least a year… wonder how many yards I can do!

The biggest thing I’ve been doing during this whole “situation” is trying to stay positive, which I think I’ve actually been pretty successful at. In the past, as soon as I felt a twinge of discomfort or had a bad run I would immediately freak out and become a ball of misery. Recently I’ve come to terms with the fact that I may not run a fall marathon, but there are marathons all over the country every single weekend, and my health is more important.

Have you ever dealt with a non-injury, injury (or as I’m calling it, a “situation”)?
Any great non-running cross training things I should try?

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Filed under Food Blogging, Running, Vegetarian/Vegan

Easy Baked Donuts

This past weekend was my first attempt at lesson planning. Sure I’ve made some mock lesson plans for courses I’ve taken over the last two years, but not plans for an entire week, that I’d actually be teaching. Thankfully it snowed on Saturday, so I was forced to stay inside and get it done. Teaching is no joke (not that I ever thought it was), and I definitely have a lot of work ahead of me.

Nothing like a little Shakespeare

Teaching aside, the husband and I were in the mood for something sweet on Sunday morning. The mini donut pan I have from my bridal shower hasn’t been used in months (and was only used once), so I figured I’d break it out. These are your “old fashioned” style baked donut – it isn’t anything fancy, but boy are they good. With a simple cinnamon and sugar coating, they’re perfect with a cup of coffee. It certainly beat getting in the car and going to Dunkin’ Donuts, and then feeling bad about that decision later. The only time I allow myself to have donuts (and by “have” I mean devour) is after long runs – usually accompanied by a Coolata.

Easy Baked Donuts
– makes about 14 donuts –

Donut Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup milk or creamer (I used coffee creamer which makes it richer, but any % milk will work fine)
1/2 tsp white vinegar
1 egg
4 Tbsp butter

Cinnamon Sugar Topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp butter, melted

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and whisk together.
3. Combine the wet ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat, until the butter is completely melted. Be careful not to have the mixture get hot – the butter just needs to melt.
4. Add the wet mixture and egg to the dry ingredients and whisk together.
5. Using a tablespoon, scoop out the dough from the bowl and into your donut pan. You want the mixture to sit just below the rim of the pan.
6. Bake for 12 minutes, then take out to cool for about 2 minutes.
7. As the donuts are cooling, combine the sugar and cinnamon for the topping on a plate, and melt the butter in a bowl in the microwave (about 30-40 seconds).
7. Once the donuts can be handled, dip one side into the melted butter and then roll them in the cinnamon sugar mixture.

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Filed under Baking, Home Cooking, Recipe

Two Weeks

Every once in awhile, I get the urge to make something on a week night, and realize there is no way it should stay in our house. It’s usually a combination of fear that the treats will disappear quicker than they were made, and also the realization that there is a strong possibility they’ll be forgotten about in the fridge. So, that’s when I bring my treats to work. I know that everyone in the office appreciates those surprise treats, as I’ve won multiple contests in the office. It’s certainly a nice pat on the back!

At the end of the month, though, my office treats will be no more. Rather, I’ll be trading them in for classroom treats! For those of you that have followed the blog for the past year and a half, you may have noticed my alluding to homework, and being back in school. I never wanted to mention exactly what I was in school for, just in case things didn’t work out. However, after three semesters of online courses, it’s finally time for me to student teach. I graduated from The University of Scranton with an English degree, and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it. After getting into the working world, I realized my initial thoughts about teaching were what I truly want to do. So, I took the steps necessary to get the ball rolling, and am finally in the last stages. In order to become a certified teacher, I have to student teach for a semester. Basically, I get to work full time, for free!

I of course am going to miss everyone I work with, and the company will always hold a special place in my heart. But, I need to follow my heart, and believe it or not, my heart is working with the teenagers of America, trying to make reading and writing seem cool. Or, at the very least, not torture.

To soften the blow of leaving, I’ve been bringing in treats more frequently. I may also still be a contributor to their documentation and online knowledge base. So these last two weeks are going to be filled with desserts in the break room. What a better way to get in the Holiday spirit! First on my list was pumpkin chocolate pie.

Unfortunately I thought I had a can of pumpkin left in the pantry, but I was wrong. So, I decided to make a chocolate silk pie instead! My co-workers were fans, so it worked out in the end. Hopefully my future students and fellow teachers will be fans of my baking as well!

Easy Chocolate Silk Pie

Ingredients:
1 pie shell (graham cracker, short bread, regular – whatever you like!)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 12 oz. can condensed milk
2 egg yolks

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
2. If using a regular pie shell, blind bake for 10 minutes
3. Meanwhile, whisk together condensed milk and egg yolks in a sauce pan over medium-high heat until thick, being sure not to have the mixture boil
2. Stir in chocolate morsels until completely mixed
3. Pour the chocolate mixture into the pie crust, and bake for an additional 5 minutes
4. Cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving (the longer the better!)
*I drizzled some fleur de sel caramel sauce over a slice which was absolutely delicious!

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This Week in Yum

This past week was all about meatless meals and sweet treats!

With a craving for something with tangy buffalo sauce, I thought I’d give buffalo tempeh eggrolls a shot. It was super easy, and really delicious. All you need to do is steam a package of tempeh for about 5 minutes, toss it in your favorite buffalo sauce (4 Tbsp), combine it with some slaw mix, and roll them up in wonton wrappers. They only need to bake for about 12 minutes at 425, and you’ve got yourself dinner! Or a really good party snack. Of course, you need some extra buffalo sauce for dipping on the side, and maybe some blue cheese.

Staying with the meatless kick, I made tofu balls as substitutes for meatballs to have with pasta. It sounds weird, and the flavors are definitely interesting, but they are really good. I could even see having these with some type of stir-fry, since there’s peanut butter and soy sauce mixed in. I found the recipe over at the always delicious Post-Punk Kitchen.

Earlier in the week I decided to check out Gilt Taste, which is a dangerously delicious counter-part to Gilt Groupe, which has amazing sample sales. As you can guess, Gilt Taste is basically a foodie’s sample sale heaven. You name it, they have it, and it all looks absolutely amazing. There were a few things I decided to order as Christmas gifts, and figured a treat for myself (and my husband) would be appropriate as well. If you’ve never had popcorn mixed in with candy and chocolate, you are seriously missing out. I’ve had a few different variations, and when I saw The Hampton Popcorn Company’s peanut butter cup popcorn, I just had to have it. I don’t know how long this tin is going to last…

I spent Saturday with my parents, and took a trip to Trader Joe’s, since they have one in their town. In addition to picking up some things for my Foodie Pen Pal, I stumbled upon Cookie Butter, and had to grab a jar. Oh. My. Goodness. There really aren’t even words to describe how delicious it is. It sounds weird, I know, but it’s really good. Christmas in your mouth good. I really hope it isn’t a short-lived thing, because I need to go back and stock up. It’s already been eaten by the spoonful, and mixed in oatmeal. I have grand plans for this little jar.

I’ve also managed to stick to December’s goal of running at least 4 times a week. This past week I ran 5 times! Granted two of those runs were only 2 milers, but it isn’t about the distance – it’s about being out there. I ended the week at 25 miles, which isn’t quite as much as I was hoping for, but still not bad. I need to get in a super long run (15-20 miles) this weekend in order to feel remotely prepared for Goofy.

The week ahead is looking busy, albeit yummy. I have some promising dinners planned, miles to run, and Holiday parties to attend. Who doesn’t love the Holiday season?

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Baking Bonanza

I set out to bake something at least once a week during the month of November.

With four weeks in a month, that means I should have made at the very least, four things (what can I say, I’m a math genius). I started the month off with Fauxreos and Funfetti Fudge for our work Halloween celebration, and then didn’t do anything the following weekend as it was jam packed with a family wedding and a 20 mile (attempted) run. I came back with a vengeance the following weekend and made the exceptionally delicious Funfetti Cheesecake Bites, but that was where things had ended. The second to last weekend in November was consumed by the Philadelphia Marathon, and obviously last weekend was Thanksgiving fun. I know, I’m a discrace for not even contributing a pie to my own Thanksgiving feast.

But before you shake your heads in disappointment, I’ll have you know I made up for it the very last week of the month! Thanks to feeling like I was hit with a ton of bricks on Sunday  night into Monday morning, I stayed home from work and did as much work as I could from my bed. By the afternoon I was feeling a bit better, so I ventured to the kitchen and decided to make some white chocolate chip cookies. Going off of the base vegan recipe I used when making regular chocolate chip cookies, I simply substituted milk for white chocolate.

Even though I didn’t contribute pie to my own Thanksgiving (my mom made apple and a friend made pumpkin), I did try my hand at pecan pie later in the week. This is actually one of my favorite pies, and I fell in love with it one year when my Aunt made a chocolate pecan pie. This particular recipe is a bit different, though, because there aren’t any pecans! I found the recipe over at Sugar Crafter, and was intrigued. This would be a perfect pie for anyone with a nut allergy. I wasn’t sure if it would actually taste like the pecan pie I love so much, but since the base was pretty much the same, the pretzels were an excellent replacement. Next time, I may top it off with some chocolate ganache to snazz it up a bit.

Even though November is over, I’m planning on continuing to bake. I have my sights set on this chocolate pumpkin pie. It’ll be my last-stitch effort to squeeze out any fall flavors left before finally giving in to winter flavors. We also have our annual Festivus party coming up, which will of course involve lots of treats!

Next on the project list for the month of December is to try and run at least 4 times a week. Since this past week was our first week back running, and December started on Thursday, I didn’t get in 4 runs, but rather 3. With the Goofy Challenge in Disney only about a month away, I need to get in as much running as my little legs will allow!

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Funfetti Cheesecake Bites

The past few weeks have been super busy with family events, work and work events, and this whole training for a marathon thing (which is on SUNDAY!). So, my time in the kitchen has been rather sparse – I think my husband has spent more time cooking for himself while I’ve been gone!

So this past Sunday after a successful last “long” run of 8 miles and a trip to get race day supplies, I spent the rest of the afternoon in the kitchen. I started with slow-cooker lasagna, going off of a recipe I saw posted on YumSugar. Growing up I remember my mom always bemoaning lasagna and how labor intensive it was (as you can guess we didn’t have it very often). So after seeing a recipe were I didn’t have to precook the noodles, I was all over it.

While dinner was cooking away, I got to work on my next project – Funfetti cheesecake bites. After the success of the Funfetti fudge I made for Halloween, I figured I could work Funfetti into more things. I had made Mini Oreo Cheesecakes before and they were awesome, so I took the same base recipe but instead used Golden Oreos, some Funfetti cake mix, and sprinkles. Not only was the recipe straight forward, but they are pretty darn tasty. The combination of cheesecake and Funfetti may sound weird, but it works – I promise.

This got me thinking – cheesecake is one of those vehicles that can really take on a whole bunch of different flavors. It might be time to branch out in the cheesecake world and try some different combinations. Or I can just stick to what I know and love – Oreos and Funfetti. Either way, these would be a perfect bite-sized treat to bring to a Holiday party… and you know that’s where you will be spending most of your weekends between now and the new year.

Funfetti Cheesecake Bites
– Makes 20 –

Ingredients:
20 golden Oreo’s
1 lb cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp Funfetti cake mix
2 Tbsp sprinkles

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 275°F. Line your cupcake/muffin tin with paper liners and place one Oreo into the bottom of each lined cup.
2. With a stand or hand mixer on medium-high, beat cream cheese until creamy and smooth, then gradually beat in sugar until combined. Beat in vanilla.
3. Drizzle in the eggs a little bit at a time until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in sour cream and Funfetti mix. Add sprinkles at the very end (or the colors start to run).
4. Divide the batter evenly among the cookie-filled cups, filling each one almost to the top. Bake until the cakes are set (about 22 minutes), rotating the pans halfway through.
5. Remove from oven and place pans on wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, chill the cakes in the pans for at least four hours (or up to overnight).

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Filed under Baking, Home Cooking, Recipe, Running

Weekly Baking: Take One

The month of weekly baking started a bit early, since Monday was Halloween. My office decided to have some Halloween related festivities at the end of the day, including trick-or-treating to one another’s cubicles. So, instead of handing out store-bought candy, I thought it would be nice to make something since there are only about 25 employees in my office. Because one dessert just isn’t enough, I made two.

The whole purpose of this month’s attempt to bake something every weekend is because I enjoy the act of baking, but more importantly myself and my husband enjoy the fruits of my labor. It’s true that baking can be time consuming, scientific, and tedious, but it’s almost always worth it. Plus, who doesn’t like taking homemade treats to work as snacks?

I’ve been eyeing this Funfetti fudge from Little Bitty Bakes for quite some time now and finally remembered to pick up white chocolate chips at the store. I’ve had Funfetti mix and cans of condensed milk for weeks, but have somehow always managed to forget the chocolate. I know they aren’t Halloween related, and are instead much more fun and whimsical looking than scary, but I thought the idea was just so cool, and the recipe seemed easy enough. This was my first attempt at “fudge,” and considering how easy it was, I definitely need to make it more frequently.

Next up were homemade Oreos, or as Eat, Drink, and Run called them, Fauxreos. Either way, I was able to make them a little more festive by using some food coloring for the centers, and these were pretty simple to make. This recipe also gave me the opportunity to use my beloved KitchenAid stand mixer twice. My husband likes to make note that I don’t use it nearly enough (his way of trying to get more dessert from me), so this recipe let me really put it to work. I can’t believe not that long ago I used to try and make buttercream by hand. No wonder I couldn’t write for days.

These two treats weren’t particularly daunting or required much baking, so that is why I chose them both together, and as my first weekend baking project. I figured I could get more involved and creative from here. Who knows, maybe by the end of the month I’ll be making macaroons! Well, at least a girl can dream, right? I’m thinking next week might be a pie – since I just recently purchased and subsequently gave away as a birthday gift a cookbook simply called Pie. Of course before wrapping it I flipped through, and had a serious craving for chocolate pecan pie. We’ll see. I’ve got a week to decide!

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A New Project!

I don’t know how or why this idea came about, but I’ve decided to try something new for the next few months. Each month, I’m going to tackle something, and do it for the entire month (hopefully). I just recently finished reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (check out the blog here), and of course was subsequently inspired. Now, I’m not looking to “happify” myself (yes, I made that word up) per se, but rather to try and do things whole-heartily that have been swimming as ideas in the back of my head for months, maybe even years. I’ve already got ideas for the next four months, and then I’ll reevaluate the project after that.

You are probably thinking; “what does this have to do with food? This is a food blog.” Well, each month may not necessarily deal with food, and if that’s the case, I’ll likely leave it off the blog. But for those food related months, you better believe I’ll be writing about it! Conveniently, two out of the three ideas that I already have are food related, which should come as no surprise since it’s one of the only things I think about (alright, that isn’t true, but it’s high on the list!).

As you’ll see from the months below, they follow a pattern, which I didn’t even do on purpose (at first). The months flip flop between being food related, and being fitness/health related. These are by no means “new year’s resolutions,” and I feel the need to point that out for a few reasons. First, it’s almost November, and there are still two full months until the New Year. But more importantly, if I label them as such, I’m likely setting myself up for failure. These aren’t requirements so much as things I would like to increase and do within my every day routine. I’m not going to punish myself if life gets in the way and I can’t make it out to run 4 times one week in December, or if it just isn’t in the grocery budget to buy ingredients to bake one week… I’m doing this to increase my personal enjoyment and do things I like – not make them into chores (I have enough of those)!

Hopefully November and January will prove to be a success in terms of finding and creating new recipes to meet my goals. I’ll likely start off each month with a plan of action, and update within information accordingly. If I do what I’m supposed to in January, there should be at least one baked good posted a week – but we’ll see!

So, here’s the plan. Fingers crossed I stick to it, and this isn’t something I abandon right away, or even a month or two into it. I’d like to at least tackle the four months I already have outlined. After that, I can reevaluate.

November: bake something every weekend (other’s recipes, or my own)
December: run at least 4 times a week – it doesn’t matter if its 2 miles or 20 miles – get out there
January: go full-out vegetarian for the month
February: practice yoga at least 3 times a week – can be at home, or in a studio

Have any of you had similar goals/projects for yourselves? Have they been successful, or complete washes? Any advice? Spill!

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All the Single Ladies

This past Saturday was my bachelorette party. While I’ll spare you all the juicy details, I do want to share all the delicious food that was enjoyed! Everyone came to my house, and we hung out eating and drinking, until our limo arrived. When it did, we were off to the city to enjoy dinner and a show at Lucky Cheng’s. If you’ve never heard of it, just take a gander at the website. That’s all you need to know. My sister did my hair and makeup, which was pretty awesome!

Of course, in trying to be the hostest with the mostest (a phrase used frequently in my house growing up), I had to make some goodies. I also tried to be smart, thinking the more food we had available, the better because no one likes a hangover. This was extremely import for myself, as I had completed my longest run EVER to date earlier that morning (14 miles!). I made this amazing Queso Fundido, which was awesome! And of course, I had to make cupcakes.

As part of the favors for my bridal shower, my future mother-in-law got little bottles of wine for everyone. So, we had quite a few bottles left over, so I figured my bachelorette party would be an excellent time to use some. Everyone loves a little boozy baking! I used just regular ‘ole brownie boxed mix and baked them as cupcakes. For the frosting, I made a merlot buttercream, and it was awesome. It was also the first time I got to use my KitchenAid stand mixer! I’m never using a hand mixer again.

We’re only 30 days away from the big day. There’s going to be a lot of wedding (and marathon training) activities in the coming weeks!

Check out the sweet cupcake toppers!

Brownie Cupcakes with Merlot Frosting
– makes 12 cupcakes –

Ingredients:
1 box brownie mix (I used chocolate fudge)
1 egg
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup water
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 cup merlot
1 cup butter (room temperature)
1 tsp vanilla extract 

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Prepare brownie mix according to package, separate brownie mix into a lined cupcake pan (about 2 tbsp worth). Bake about 25-30 minutes
3. In a stand or hand mixer, cream butter, adding in vanilla followed by the wine. Slowly incorporate the sugar until the consistency is thick and everything is well combined.
4. Allow cupcakes to cool before frosting!  

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Filed under Cupcakes, Recipe, Running, Wedding

Cupcakes and Animals

Ever since trying Serial Baker’s delicious vegan cupcakes and then making some vegan cookies myself, I’ve been looking to try more vegan baking (whether made by me, or someone else!). So, when I saw that Sweet Avenue bake shop, a vegan bakery in Rutherford was hosting an event this past Saturday, I had to check it out… especially since it was to help raise funds for an animal shelter!

The fiancé and I headed up to Rutherford with plans to later head into the city to go to a show at Upright Citizen’s Brigade and enjoy dinner in the city. The event, Cupcakefest, was to help raise money for an animal shelter in Bloomfield. We joked that if they had adoptable cats or dogs at the event, we’d probably come home with a carful. Thankfully they didn’t have any animals actually there, otherwise our family would have grown Sunday! But as it turns out, our family grew on Monday, when we picked up a 5 week old kitten from a friend’s who found him under their deck! We thought it was only appropriate to name him Fry, one of the other characters in Futurama, to match our other cat, Leela. Hopefully they’ll get along just like the characters in the show!

He's barely bigger than my hand!

After checking out the vendors, we headed down the street to the bakery to pick up some cupcakes. I decided to try their Oreo cupcake, and the fiancé went with the “Green Lantern” cupcake – it even came with a plastic ring! They were the perfect size (not too big, but not too small) and they had filling, which is my favorite part about cupcakes. Oh, and they were really good! The fiancé turned to me and said “wait, are ALL of their baked goods vegan?” I love when people are impressed by things like that. I always enjoy when someone who bemoans something (i.e. vegan or  vegetarian lifestyles, certain cuisines, etc.), then they unknowingly try it, and really like it. Not that my fiancé is one of those people – he’ll try anything.

Green Lantern themed cupcake

I’m looking forward to a summer filled with cupcakes (my birthday is soon, so we know lots of cupcakes will be involved), and also trying some more vegan baking (either made by me, or others)! And now that we’re a family of four things should be interesting!

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