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Polenta Rancheros

February 11, 2012

Well, I had planned on spending my day taking a trip up to Indianapolis to visit with my Ma but the fact that it had snowed 2 feet and everything is iced over discouraged either of us from wanting to drive. AND it being 15 degrees outside has discouraged me from even getting out of my pajamas, let alone leaving the house. So, what to do with my freed up day? Clean the house? Do some studying? Fold my laundry? Nah. How about….make some elaborate breakfast and lay around watching movies with my roommates and working on my blog all day? Score!

Okay, so I am a little bit in love with avocados. It may be a problem. I crave them all the time. I pick out recipes just because they are in them. And I tend to down the entire thing when I slice one open. This recipe was obviously inspired because I was determined to not eat ANOTHER lunch consisting of only an avocado and a spoon.

Also, this recipe is another “cross cultures” type of meal which makes it surprisingly unique but traditionally delicious. If you love the combination of bursting flavors you get with Mexican cuisine then you are sure to love this vegan twist on traditional TexMex. And it’s perfect with mimosas (if you’re having it for brunch) or beergaritas (if you’re having it for dinner).

Speaking of beergaritas, have you guys ever had a brass monkey? I know that is probably the trashiest question I have ever asked on my blog but they are surprisingly delicious! I realize that they were invented as a way of masking just how awful cheap beer/40s taste and the Beastie Boys sing about them but dayuuum! We were stuck in our house one night a few weeks ago because of an ice storm with the only evening beverages to choose from being gin and cheap beer pong beer so we decided to make some brass monkeys. I was pleasantly surprised. Orange Juice really can make any type of terrible alcohol taste good. Okay…sorry, this last paragraph was completely off topic of anything that this post is about.

Oh! And lastly, I should let you know where this recipe originated from! This is an adapted recipe that I got out of my ‘Vegan Brunch‘ cookbook (oh-it’s so good if you haven’t cooked from it! Go to your local library immediately and pick up a copy!).

Polenta Rancheros

  • 1 can of black beans (15 ounce)
  • 1/2 teaspoon agave nectar
  • dash of salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 can of tomato sauce (8 oz)
  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 cups cooked polenta (cook according to manufacturer’s directions).

+Toppings: avocado, sour cream (vegan or non), cheese (vegan or non), tomatoes, salsa, cilantro, etc.

Prepare the polenta according to the manufacture’s directions and put aside to set.

In a large skillet, put the cumin seeds over medium heat and cook for about two minutes (or until slightly browned). Next, add the oil, onion, peppers, and garlic. Saute for about ten minutes or until the onions start to soften. Then, add the tomato sauce, dash of salt, black beans and the agave nectar. Cook for another ten minutes or until the beans until warmed up.

Plop a couple big spoonfuls of polenta in a bowl followed by the bean mixture and all the toppings.

Enjoy hot while you listen to your favorite David Bowie album or watching Anthony Bourdain eat spam in Hawaii (I wish I was in Hawaii! But this brunch is wayyyy better than any Hawaiian spam. that is for sure).

Garlic Naan

February 10, 2012

I’m really sorry if you are a returning reader and keep coming back to a new website layout (this could be rather confusing. Is this the same site it even use to be? same writer? same purpose?)…I assure you it is but I’m having an image crisis. Not really…I’ve just become rather obsessed with design layout and am constantly being inspired for a new design every week…I feel like I already have a new idea in mind by the time I finish the last layout. Anyways, please don’t mind the constant experimenting going on around the site. Im sure…one day…I’l be completely satisfied (hopefully!). But until then, I’ve got quite an 80′s theme going (not intentional. just love those colors)…

Anyways, naan….mmmm. Not sure if you dig the indian bread but if you dont have much experience with it…get acquainted. It’s so yummy and amazing dipped in everything. I actually made it the other night to go with the creole j (weird cross of cultures, I know, but it was fantastic). This stuff was surprisingly easy to make in the bread maker and oh so yummy with all kinds of stews/curries/soups/dips.

Oh and I topped mine with garlic but feel free to top it with whatever you’re feeling.

Garlic Naan

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

+whatever you’d like to top it with: minced garli, more clarified butter, parsley, thyme, whatever!


Place the ingredients in the bread maker in the order that I’ve listed.

Set it to ‘dough’ and let it do it’s thing. Go read some blogs, watch some tutorials, do some yoga, and play with your puppy.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Once the cycle is complete, flour a counter top and divide the dough into four pieces. Roll out each piece until it’s a thin, formless sheet of dough. Lather on a thin layer of melted butter and then stick your topping on.

Place on a greased baking sheet and place in the preheated oven for 1 minutes. If you’d like the top of brown than switch it to broiler and let it cook for another minute.

Remove from oven and munch down with your stew/soup/curries.

Creole Jambalaya

February 9, 2012

I’m going to be honest with you. I’ve never had jambalaya before…which basically means two things:

  1. I have no way of telling you whether this is authentic and amazing compared to something you’ve had at a restaurant and
  2. This is the best jambalaya I’ve ever had.

I came across the original recipe for this because I’ve been exploring Seattle/Portland adventures (since my boyfriend and I are going there at the end of the month) and came across this vegan food truck (I. love. food. trucks.- and vegan food!) which lead to me learning about it’s owner which lead to me googling her which lead to me finding her book ‘Vegan Diner’. Phew. That’s the background story.

Okay, so why make this recipe if I don’t know what to expect? (I mean- what the heck is creole, anyways??). Well I was immediately drawn to this recipe because of its long list of veggies (yes. I crave veggies. I’m one of THOSE) and combining them with pretty much every amazing spice under the sun. Plus, it’s got the rice for the added filling affect and the veggie broth to soak in all the flavors. I knew it had to be good…regardless of my ignorance towards this type of meal.

And needless to say, it was fantastic. It made loads so I’ve been munching on leftovers since I made it Monday night and they are just as good as when it was fresh! Also, I used the spicy veggie sausage from Field Roast because it’s my favorite veggie sausage brand (have you ever taken these guys on a camping trip and cooked them over an open fire? Then you have not lived) but feel free to use whatever you prefer or have handy.

Creole Jambalaya

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  •  5 sticks celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, cut into chunks
  • 2 vegetarian sausages
  • 1 1 /4 cup of rice
  • 1-29 ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 1/2 cups of vegetable broth

To make the creole seasoning (you’ll have alittle extra to add to your sandwiches throughout the week):

  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2  teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 teaspoons of paprika
  • 2 teaspoons salt

First, make the seasoning by combining all the ingredients into a small bowl and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add in the onion, garlic, peppers, celery, sausage, and carrots. Saute until lightly brown and the veggies has all softened. Next, add the rice and saute for another minute. Then add the tomatoes, broth, and creole seasoning.

Bring the mixture to a bowl and then reduce down to simmer. Let simmer for 20 minutes or until the rice has softened and absorbed most of the broth. Remove from heat and let sit for about ten minutes. Season with more salt (if necessary).

Serve to all your friends with warm bread. And then let your puppy lip the bowl clean.

PS Oh, and make sure you make sure you dance to this song while preparing this meal:

Shapilicious Eggs

February 8, 2012

Some days you just have to not take yourself seriously. You have to stay in bed. And do what inspires you. And play with your food. And refuse to shower. Come on, you can do it!

Today was one of those days for me. I woke up to my alarm at 8, got up to make coffee and find my puppy slippers, and crawled back into bed. Instead of spending my Tuesday morning working out and going to classes, I’ve spent the whole morning watching photo tutorial videos on and playing with my food. It’s a great feeling to take some time for myself and do things at my leisure.

While ‘taking time for myself’, I found these owl recipe cards as I was perusing my usual blog site favorites this morning (find them right here to be exact: My Owl Barn) and thought they were too cute not to play with. Plus, I’m a huge sucker for anything vintage and owl related. I just cannot help myself. And  by ‘I can’t help myself’ I mean that this then created an artistic snowball effect where I wanted to make something cute and simple so I could fit the recipe on this cards. And then my morning took off from there.

If you wanted to, you could do a themed breakfast with a heart cut out (for Valentine’s day…which is coming up. hint hint nudge nudge at my boyfriend) or a birthday cake cutout or Christmas themed or whatever you’ve got to work with (cook cutter wise). It’s cute and simple so why not be a little creative in the kitchen next time you have a few minutes to whip up some eggs and toast? Enjoy!


Sandwich a la WWMD: Guest lovin’ by Ella Hartley

February 7, 2012

Today’s guest post is by a very dear friend of mine. She was the first person that I collaborated with on cooking (back in the days when we were fresh out of dorm life and experiencing having our own place to cook for the first time). I would even go so far as to say she’s the one that inspired me to get out of my cooking “comfort zone”; I mean it’s not really her fault…when I think of childhood memories I envision pigs-in-a-blanket and vanilla ice cream while she dreams of Belgium chocolate and french dishes I can’t pronounce.


Wednesday night dinners are often a challenge when I’m not in the mood for box mac and cheese or another quesadilla. At this point in the week, the leftovers from weekend culinary adventures are gone and, aside from various staple ingredients, I’m left with ends and scraps of some very odd ingredients. This is when I ask myself WWMD? What Would Mom Do? My mother can’t follow a recipe to save her life but hand her four seemlying random ingredients, half a tuperware container of leftover whatever, and a glass or two of red wine and it’s magic! So, with a glass of wine (or in this case a beer: Dirty Helen Brown Ale from the Barley Island Brewing Company), I did my best to channel my mother and this is what I came up with:

Magic! Actually, just a really yummy, veggie-full sandwich. But to a hungry girl that can sometimes seem like magic. Especially when you get a big bite of sweet sautéed onions and mushrooms combined with the savory, sharp kick of blue cheese, and a nip of wine and black pepper. Yum!

Sandwich a la WWMD

  • 4 T. olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 4 or 5 baby bella mushrooms (or whatever the heck you’ve got. These were the last of one of my stranger impulse-buys.)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary (Why are fresh herbs sold in the most frustrating quantities!)
  • ½ cup of frozen spinach
  • a sploosh of dry white wine (I know. This isn’t a real unit of measure. Just say to yourself “Sploosh!” while you’re pouring the wine and that’ll be enough)
  • 3 T. crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 pita pocket, halved
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Throw the olive oil and the roughly diced onions and mushrooms into a saucepan and sauté at medium hear for about 5 minutes. Then add the fresh rosemary. Keep cooking at medium heat, stirring occasionally, until things start to get brown and soft. Add the frozen spinach; no need to thaw it or microwave it, just toss it in! When the spinach has defrosted, add the salt and pepper to the degrees that you enjoy and sploosh the white wine. Cook until the wine is absorbed or evaporated. (Say no to soggy sandwiches!) While this is happening toast the pita pocket. Once the veggies are ready and the pita pockets have popped, (ha! Alliteration is awesome.) you’re good to go. Throw those veggies into the pocket with the crumbled blue cheese and enjoy!

French Onion Soup

February 5, 2012

As usual, my Saturday consisted of loads of thrift shopping because it’s an addictive hobby and I love it. I didn’t find much (although my boyfriend found plenty. He bought an 8 tape VHS box set for the first season of Twin Peaks. Arg, he’s completely useless). Anyhow, I did find these adorable soup bowls (can you see where I’m going with this?):

I love them. I got a set of 4 and can’t wait until next year to display them somewhere in my vintage style kitchen next to my 1960′s Betty Crocker cookbook collection. So, as you’d assume…I immediately needed to make soup and try out my new cups.

When its freezing out, there is nothing better in the world than savory soup that is topped with a huge hunk of bread and stacked with cheese. Seriously, there isn’t. Plus, the bread being baked into it is allows you to skip the sides all together. I like this recipe because it’s light and simple so you usually have everything on hand and don’t feel guilty about eating it on a week night.

French Onion Soup

  • 2 Tablespoon butter
  • 4 small onions, sliced
  • 2 cup veggie broth
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • dash of sugar
  • fresh baguette, cut into big slices
  • slices of swiss cheese to put over the soup bowls (the amount of cheese will vary depending on how big your ramekins are)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent and just starting to brown (about five minutes). Then, add the garlic and cook for another minute (or until fragrant. you know that yummy smell I’m talking about!) Next, add the broth, wine, water, bay leaf, thyme, and sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil and then lower the heat, cover, and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Season the soup with salt and pepper

Turn your broiler on. Remove bay leaf and pour into four small ramekins and top each with a slice of the baguette. Put a slice (or two!) of Swiss on top of each baguette. Stick under the broiler until the top has browned and the soup is bubbly (a minute or two).

Glazed Caribbean Tofu with Sweet Rice

February 3, 2012

There is some sort of longing for summer (hence the pictures next to this text) that has been evoked because of these past few 60 degree and sunny days in February. My thoughts have started to drift off to roasting marshmallows and picnics on beaches. But since…it is still February (no matter how much I daydream), I am going to have to settle for whipping up summer type dishes in my home (instead of on my grill).

I was super excited about this dish (because I love making bland tofu flavorful!) but after I began cooking it…I realized I have had no experience with Caribbean food what-so-ever (Hey, Bloomington, it’s about time someone opened a Caribbean restaurant! Although…why would someone from the Caribbean ever have the desire to move to the Midwest to open up a specialty dinner spot?). I can tell you right off the bat that I probably did not use ‘traditional’ peas that they would use in the islands but it was delicious regardless. If all Caribbean dishes are like this, count me in!
It was light with a tropical/sweet flavor in the rice (this was most likely due to the coconut milk) and then the tofu had the slightest kick of spice that counteracted the sweet rice perfectly. It turned out better than I could have ever imagined and my favorite part about tofu is it’s even better as leftovers (because the flavors have time to sink in even more). So whip this up for your lover and don’t scarf it all down at once!
PS WHY IS TOFU SO YUMMY BUT SO HARD TO PHOTOGRAPH? Makes my skills look shameful. Sorry guys!
Continue Reading…

Homemade Pasta with Zucchini and Carrot Ribbons

February 1, 2012

Okay, this recipe was sooo out of my comfort zone that I’ve been dreading trying to translate it for you guys. The recipe I followed for homemade pasta was by a french enthusiast (who also makes beautiful cooks books- Yvette Van Boven) and insisted on using cooking terms that have never come up in  my sheltered, American, vegetarian kitchen life. How did I end up making this? I got talked into it by my “cultured, been-to-every-Continent-but-Antarctica” roommate who insisted it would be a piece of cake (please note- she is the one in all the pictures doing most of the intensive labor parts because I was too busy googling what farina is and how you turn dough into “nests”). What kind of person have I become that cooking with xantham gum and agave nectar are normal occurrences but I don’t even know the french term for ‘cream of wheat’? This girl needs to get cultured outside of her hipster lifestyle.

Needless to say, this was my first experience with true fresh pasta and I can understand what all the fuss is about. It may be a bit labor intensive at times (which would easily be avoided if you have a pasta maker! Hoping to get one of these when I become a “real adult” one day) but it doesn’t even taste like the same food as packaged pasta. It’s soft and doughy with an almost…melt in your mouth texture.

I’m going to also post the recipe that we made with the fresh pasta but feel free to do whatever you’d like with the pasta after you make it. I mean…drenching it in french cream and fresh vegetables is only my suggestion…but you should know it’s a damn good one!

Homemade Pasta with Zucchini and Carrot Ribbons

For the pasta:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • salt and pepper
  • cream of wheat

For the sauce:

  • 1 cup creme fraiche
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and slit but still whole
  • 2 carrots, peeled
  • 2 zucchinis
  • salt and pepper, to taste

First…it’s time to prep the pasta dough: Make a pile of the flour (add a bit of salt and pepper to it) on a CLEAN kitchen counter and create a well in the center of it. Crack the eggs into the center and fold the flour into the eggs until you make a firm, dough balls. This will probably take about ten minutes or so sooo be patient (oh or you could probably stick this stuff in a food processor and make it that way…if you have a food processor. Some of us still live in the stone ages…or are just poor college kids. Either way will work though!). Next, your gonna have to leave the dough to rest for about an hour (I know, I know…waiting is no fun).

If you’d like, you can prep your veggies at this time. You’re just going to peel the carrots and then julienne them and the zucchini. Then set aside for later use!

Wait for the dough to be ready…write a song…dance to some vinyls…wait more…drool over how good this recipe is going to be…wait more…READY!

Now, this is the easy part for you folks that have a pasta machine. Basically, you are just going to roll out chunks of the dough and put them through the pasta maker until you reach the desired size you’d like. HOWEVER, we did it without a pasta maker and this is how: we floured that clean kitchen counter again and rolled out the dough as thin as we could possibly get it (I realize this sounds easy…but it’s not. the dough will be tough and want to pull back in on itself but don’t let that discourage you! You’ll get it!). Once it’s as thin as you’d like it, generously sprinkle the dough with cream of wheat (this is important because it’s going to keep the pasta strands from sticking to itself). Using a knife, cut thin strips of dough and make “nests” (see picture below) on a cutting board with the strips. Continue to sprinkle with cream of wheat to prevent sticking.

Once done with that, bring two large pots of salted water to a boil. While waiting for them to boil, in another small saucepan put the cream fraiche. Stick the whole garlic cloves in the cream and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn down to a simmer and add salt/pepper.

When the two pots are boiling, add the vegetables to one of them to blanched the veggies (the time this will take will vary because of how large or small you cut your veggies so just keep an eye on it and test the veggies every few minutes until they reach a slightly soft texture). Throw your pasta in another pan and let cook until it rises to the surface (this will be only about five minutes- it is a very fast process!). Once they are floating, strain and rinse with cold water. Return the pasta to the pot and strain the veggies.

Remove the garlic cloves from the cream and combine everything together in one of the large pots. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy warm!

Make sure to share and show off your European culinary skills to your mother and kittens!

Vegan Trail Mix Cookies

January 29, 2012

There are several things that sparked the inspiration for these cookies. Where to begin?

First, I’ve been on the hunt for a cookie jar for months now. Goodwill always has loads of them but they are always disgusting or characterless and I had practically given up on the idea of ever falling in love with one…until the other day. While out “window shopping” (which usually immediately leads to purchasing things) I came across a massive sale at [undisclosed store] (I don’t like to admit that I shop at this store because they can be obscenely expensive and the amount of money that I give to this place is undesirable) I found this gem. Not only was this cookie jar exactly what I had been dreaming about but it was also 3 dollars. This immediately ended my “window shopping” and sparked the consumerism in me.

Since then I’ve named him Velvet and he lives on top of our microwave. He’s an awesome addition to the family but I needed to christen him with a batch of fresh cookies so that all my roommates would have to marvel at  (or at least interact with) him in order to get to the baked goods. But then I came to the dilemma of what kind of cookies should I make?

There were two factors that came into play when deciding to conquer these trailmixers. First, I’ve been doing this yoga class and it’s totally brainwashed (or inspired?) me into trying to be a healthier and more conscious person, which means I’ve been replacing all my refined sugar with agave nectar as much as possible. So I needed a recipe that used agave. Next, I’ve had this terrible yearning for summer…beaches, picnics, grilling, tans, etc. So as soon as I saw Isa’s version of this cookie it immediately reminded me of taking hikes at Griffy lake and living off of trail mix for 4 days straight at Bonnaroo.

And let me tell you, no cookie has ever tasted so much like summer as this one! These guys are loaded with chunks of chocolate, cranberries, and peanuts, melted together with a gooey chocolate center. I cannot wait to replace all my other picnic fare with these guys. And they are semi-healthy too!


Vegan Trail Mix Cookies

  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
  • 2/3 cups canola oil
  • 3/4 cup agave nectar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3.4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips (or m&ms)
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts (or any nut you’d like!)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and prepare two baking sheets with wax paper.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the almond milk, flax seeds, oil, agave nectar, and vanilla.  Next slowly add in the flours, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Once everything in well combined, fold in the chocolate chips, peanuts, and cranberries.

Spoon tablespoon size chunks of dough onto the baking sheets (they don’t spread out much so don’t worry about putting them too close together) and bake for 12 to 14 minutes.

Artichoke and Red Lentil Pasta Sauce

January 28, 2012

I’ve had half a bag of red lentils sitting around my kitchen for months now and in an attempt to be resourceful (aka too lazy to go to the store) came across this idea of using them to whip up a quick pasta sauce. I was weary at first because of the texture I thought the sauce might create but it ended up being very creamy and flavorful. The lentils are an excellent source of protein so don’t feel bad about skipping meat for this meal (not that I ever feel bad about skipping meat)!

This recipe takes a half an hour (at the most) so don’t hesitate to whip it up any night of the week. I served this with bread and a small salad but feel free to make some soup or cutlet or whatever floats your boat. It made lots of pasta though so expect yummy leftovers!

Artichoke and Red Lentil Pasta Sauce

  • 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup dried red lentils
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 pound of [whole wheat] pasta (I used angel hair but feel free to use whatever you’ve got on hand)
  • 1 small jar of artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

In a saucepan (with a lid!), add the mustard seeds over medium heat and let them cook until they begin to pop (make sure there is a lid on it so that they don’t pop all over your kitchen!). Next, add the vegetable broth, lentils, garlic, and onions. Turn the heat down to medium low and let cook, covered, for 20 minutes. Make sure to check and stir it around every couple minutes.

While that is cooking, prepare the pasta according to it’s package directions. Once the pasta has been cooked and drained, mix in the artichoke hearts with it.

Remove the lentil sauce from heat after twenty minutes and use a wooden spool to break the lentils down into a sauce (add more broth if it’s too thick).

Top pasta/artichokes with lentil sauce and season with salt and pepper. Munch down.

Oh and listen to this cute song while making it! (Arg, my girl singer weakness is shining through with this recommendation):

Oatmeal Molasses Rolls

January 26, 2012

I just want to start out by apologizing. I realize that I have talked about bread excessively lately and I can’t help it. I’ve been on a major bread making kick lately…but this one doesnt involve the breadmaker so everyone can be included! Yay!

Anyways, this week has kicked my ass. Between switching to working full days, having classes from 9 to 9 on my days off, my boyfriend’s birthday (which was yesterday and was a success. Cake-recipe-post soon), and tonight I have to go to Indianapolis to support my boyfriend’s band…I have had noooo time for cooking or grocery shopping or sleeping. BUT this blog is not here for me to complain so I love my life and am hoping to do some major catch up with it this weekend. New header is currently in the making and lots of recipes will be made this weekend as well!

Okay.. these oatmeal molasses rolls. I made them expecting a sort of dessert roll (you know. buttery, cinnamon roll-esk) but they were really just savory dinner rolls with the slightest hint of molasses sweet. And damn, they were amazing. Soft, melt in your mouth and full of flavor. I would recommend serving them as a side to a pasta dish or even meat (if you swing that way) or soup. I served them with a yummy bowl of Annie’s Chickenless noodle soup and it was perfect.

Oh also, make these on the weekend or super ahead of time. Since they don’t involve the bread machine, there is a lot of rising time (on two separate occasions) so prep the dough the night before or start in the AM so you can check back on the dough through out the day. I adapted this recipe from Food52 which is a plethora of bread recipes so browse it sometime if you are as dough loving as me. And I promise promise promise they will be worth the extra effort!

Oatmeal Molasses Rolls

  • 1 packet of yeast (or about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 3 Tablespoons molasses
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 sticks of butter +2 tablespoons of butter (to brush on top of rolls)

Phase ONE: Dissolve the yeast in a small bowl with the warm water. Set aside so that it can react and bubble and do it’s thing.

Heat the milk in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Once the milk has warmed up slightly, add the butter and stir until it has melted completely. Remove from heat and add in the brown sugar, oats, molasses, and salt. Stir until well combined then set aside to cool to luke warm temperatures.

Add the eggs to a large mixing bowl. Once cooled, add the milk mixture and the yeast mixture. Slowly add the flour until it creates a large ball and all the ingredients stick together. If it’s too sticky then add a tiny bit more flour. Place the dough in a greased bowl and roll it around until the ball is greased on all side. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours.

Wait. wait. Go play with kitty. Take your puppy for a walk. wait. read some of your favorite blogs. wait.

Phase TWO: Divide the dough into 12 balls and place in a greased, 9 inch pan. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and coat the tops of the buns with it. Sprinkle with some extra rolled outs and then cover with a towel. Let rise (again, I know. I know.) for another two hours in a warm place.

Wait more. Read a book. Watch some Anthony Bourdain. wait more.

 Phase THREE: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

Serve warm with butter and honey.

Homemade Beer Bread

January 16, 2012

Let me start off by warning you that I am currently enrolled in a photoshop class so I have been obsessed with photo editing lately and trying out new tricks. Also, I love everything vintage so this whole concept of making my food pictures vintage is blowing my mind and will probably be run into the ground. I guess what I am trying to say is be patient with me if you find all these “side note” photos obviously. Oh, and I am also saying that you should get excited because I am planning and am in the process of a major blog make over so stay tuned for lots of fun add ons! Oooooooh yeahh!

So, as I’ve mentioned loads of times before, we are obsessed with making homemade bread. I understand that women are suppose to crave chocolate but nah, give me a loaf of fresh and steaming bread instead! Hah, yeah. Anyways, so sometimes we crave bread but don’t feel like playing the 2 hour waiting game for it to rise and what not so that’s when we turn to our beer bread recipe. It’s seriously the simplest bread recipe to ever exist and no need for yeast or “resting time” or any of that jazz. Just let the beer do it’s natural yeast-fermenting-thing and pop it straight into the oven!

We like to use our beer bread for a nutritious and exotic dinner consisting of grilled cheese and tomato soup. Our favorite version beer bread + mustard + grilled onions + cheddar +swiss. Oh damn. But of course, you can sandwich this bread with loads of healthy toppings too like sprouts, lettuce, carrots, veganaise, cucumber, hummus, etc etc etc…I think you get the point.

Oh and one last point. You should use cheap beer. The flavor of the beer honestly does not affect the final project so use that crappy beer you’ve been avoiding in your fridge for months now.

Homemade Beer Bread

  • 3 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 3 Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 oz bottle of beer
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, melted

Grease a bread pan and preheat oven for 375 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Then make a well in the center of the bowl and pour the beer in the middle. Fold the dry ingredients into the beer until well incorporated.

Put the batter in the greased bread tin and top with melted butter.

Cook for 40 minutes (or until a tooth pick comes out clear).

Let cool for 10 minutes and then make whatever you’ve like out of it! Or just top with butter and serve warm. Mmmmmmm


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Samosa Patties

January 14, 2012

Here in Bloomington, we have an entire street dedicated to ethnic restaurants. It’s really an amazing experience…it’s like walking into another country and it’s just down the street. They’ve got Thai, Indian, Turkish, Mediterranean, and so much more. I had never even had good Indian food before I moved to this town four years ago but this street has certainly allowed me to make up for lost time. My boyfriend use to work at one of the Indian places so he can make a mean curry and I myself have become pretty addicted to this cuisine.

We’ve gone through phases of making curries every weekend and homemade naan and homemade hummus. However, we’ve never managed to master samosas which is suuuuch a shame because they are so dayuuum good. It’s just such a tedious process that it’s fun for a special occasion but not something you’d wanna whip up every weekend. Anyways, so I came across this recipe in my Vegan Brunch cookbook and this solved all of our samosa problems.

These patties literally taste like the inside of a samosa and are half the hassle of making real ones. These are great to serve as a side with some curry or eat as a main with some sweet sauce. They are chocked full of veggies and spices that will fill you’re palette with amazing Indian aromas.

Samosa Patties

  • 2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1/8 cup canola oil + 2 Tablespoons
  • dash of turmeric
  • dash of salt
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup carrots, grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • dash of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/8 cup flour
  • extra oil for pan frying

First, add the potatoes to a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes or until you can stick a fork through the cubes and they are soft. Drain and return to pot. Mash well and add the 1/8 cup canola oil, turmeric, and dash of salt.

Preheat a large skillet (with a lid) over medium heat. Add the 2 tablespoons of canola oil and the mustard seeds. Cover with the lid and let the seeds pop for about a minute. Once the popping has settled, add the carrots and onions. Saute for about ten minutes and then add the garlic, ginger, cumin, and red pepper flakes. Cook for another few minutes and add water if it’s dry.

Back to the potatoes, add the onions, peas, and veggie mixture. Lastly, add in the flour and season with salt.

Now for the disappointing part (the waiting game- one of the worst games ever). You’ve gotta let the mixture cool completely or else it will fall apart. So I reccommend sticking it in the freezer for 20 minutes but feel free to pop it in the fridge for hours (if you prepare it in advance).

Once cooled, take chunks of the batter, roll them into golf ball size balls, and then flatten slightly. Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat and saute the patties on each side for three minutes or until they have browned. Repeat with the rest of the batter.

Serve warm and with other yummy Indian dishes.

Oh and these are my roommates trying to tell me what they have in their hands is much more interesting than taking photos of my pancakes.

Giant Chocolate Cookie Cake

January 13, 2012

So it’s my roommate’s birthday tomorrow and she’s had this big party planned for weeks. My other roommate and I had this big cookie cake planned to make her until she informed us Monday that she has a chocolate cake picked out that she wants made (she’s a bit of an over planner, if you can’t tell) and since it’s her birthday we have to make what she wants. Soooo we decided to make her this cookie one yesterday as a sort of pre-game to tomorrow (a little overboard of us, I know) but either way we wanted it and her birthday sounded like the perfect excuse to make it.

Giant Chocolate Cookie Cake

For the Cookie:

  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 6 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda

For the Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
  • 2 cups confectioner sugar
  • 1 8 oz cream cheese package, softened
  • 1 cup chocolate chips, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two pie dishes with wax paper.

Beat the butter and sugar together. Then add the eggs and vanilla. Next, blend in the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda. Mix until well combined.

Divide the dough into two and press into prepared pans. Bake for 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before assembling.

To prepare the frosting, beat the butter and confectioners sugar until well incorporated. Next, add the cream cheese and melted chocolate chips. Mix until it becomes a light, fluffy texture.

Spread half the frosting on top of one of the cookies and then top with the other cookie. Spread the rest of the frosting on top and decorate with sprinkles/m&ms/butterscotch chips/chocolate chips/swedish fish/skittles/anything colorful you can find in your kitchen.

But be careful because you could even devour half of it before giving it to the birthday girl!

Ella Baby lovin’ her cookie

Squash Casserole with Blue Cheese, Sage, and Tomatoes

January 13, 2012

Sadly, this week was my first week back to school which means lots of less cooking and less time to devote to fun things like my blog. Oh well, it was bound to happen eventually, right? and it’s my last semester EVER of school so I need to enjoy it (which I think I will with my Rock and Roll history and Photoshop classes). Anyways, I good thing about this is that some of my friends that went home or to visit family over the holidays are finally back (AKA Kelsey) so back to having girl friends and not having to glop onto Wyatt’s guy friends.


Kelsey and I decided to have a cooking night earlier this week and this delicious casserole was the outcome of it. I’ve recently read a lot of recipes where vegans (and health nuts) will substitute cheese for pureed butternut squash to make a mac n cheese like pasta dish. Going into this recipe, that was kind of what I had in mind but once we started making this  I realized it wasn’t trying to be like that at all. It’s just a casserole with a bunch of really yummy ingredients incorporated into it. The butternut squash made the “sauce” part pretty thick but not in a discouraging way, just in the “don’t have to eat much” filling sort of way. We served this with garlic toast but feel free to make a salad as a side if you’ve got fresh veggies on hand!

Squash Casserole with Blue Cheese, Sage, and Tomatoes


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and chopped into cubes
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 3 cups dried pasta
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 oz blue cheese, crumbled


First, we must prep the butternut squash. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Put cubes on a oiled baking dish and took for 20 minutes or until they are soft and can be pierced with a fork. Then remove them from oven and puree in a food processor or blender until smooth (If using a blender you may have to add alittle milk to get the blending process to begin).

Next, bring a large saucepan filled with salted water to a boil. Cook dried pasta according to directions on package. Drain, put pasta back in the large sauce, and set aside until ready to use.

Bring oven temperature down to 375 degrees and oil a casserole dish.

In another  large pot, heat butter over medium heat.  Once melted, add the onions and saute until they turn translucent and soft. Next, add the garlic, sage, and red pepper flakes and cook (WHILE STIRRING) for another few minutes (AKA let the garlic smell up your kitchen with it’s yummy aroma!)

Stir in the flour and let cook for another three minutes. Slowly stir in the milk 1/4 cup at a time. FInally, whisk in the squash puree and stir until smooth. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.

Add the squash mixture to the pasta. Then fold in the tomatoes and cheese until everything is incorporated. Transfer to a casserole dish and cook for ten minutes.

Serve warm and enjoy with friends (its a big casserole! Why not?)


Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread Muffins

January 9, 2012

Wyatt and I usually devote Saturday afternoons to thrifting. We do this because 1) we love wearing vintage clothing 2)we are big consumers but poor college students so thrifting is a fun way to save money 3)we have an etsy store for all the clothes we find that are too amazing to not buy but just don’t fit us (CactusCaravan).

We decided to try out a new Flea Market in the neighboring town on Saturday and came out empty handed. I fell in love with a huge vintage vinyl player cabinet (it had pointy legs and huge 50s speakers) but was sadly already sold and Wyatt found a great deal on a VHS player (why he collects VHS tapes, I have no idea) but that too was sold.

Needless to say, after a long day of sorting through gems, junk, and crap we were in need of some serious grub. I made these muffins to dip into my Black Bean Chili and they were fantastic! I usually stick to my traditional vegan cornbread recipe that I’ve used for years but I was cravin’ some cheddar so I decided to stray and play around with this recipe. The straying was well worth it and I was not only pleased at the way they tasted but they were also really damn cute!

Anyways, I’d recommend cutting down on how many jalapeno’s you use if you don’t like things spicy (I only topped half the peppers with the pepper garnish because I’m a wimp).

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread Muffins

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used almond milk but you can use regular)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar (plus more for topping the muffins)
  • 3 jalapenos, 2 diced and one sliced for garnish

Grease a 12 muffin tin with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients (flour, corn meal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper). In another bowl, stir together all wet ingredients (sour cream, oil, milk, and egg). Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and slowly pour in the wet ones. Fold the dry mixture into the wet with a spatula until well incorporated (don’t over mix! Just get it moist). Fold in the cheddar cheese and diced peppers.

Cook for 2o minutes. When five minutes are left, top them with more cheddar and the sliced peppers and put back into the oven for the remaining five minutes.

Let cool and serve with yummy, warm chili. Probably while snuggling under a blanket with your favorite person and a board game.

And lastly, unrelated to anything in this post, I am soooooo excited to start a new science project tonight!

Black Bean Chili

January 8, 2012

Whoever said that chili without meat isn’t chili lied to you. The black beans in this recipe make it so filling and the spices make it so flavorful that you might be able to convert a carnivore with this recipe. Well…maybe. Probably not but it’s worth a try, right?

This has been my “go to” chili recipe for years. My former friend (now current roommate) and I originally tackled this guy (guy=recipe) when we were sophomores in college and just getting use to finding our way around the kitchen. This means that it’s a recipe for even the newer cooks. We have made this recipe dozens of times and have been tweaking it to our liking since, so for the experienced cookers, feel free to add/remove and tweak whatever you’d like for this recipe!

Black Bean Chili

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups onions, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder (use red pepper flakes if you like a kick- I’m a wuss)
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3- 15 oz. cans black beans, drained (but liquid reserved)
  • 1 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup liquid reserve from black beans
  • 8 oz. jar salsa
  • 1 can corn

Garnish options:

  • sour cream
  • cheddar cheese
  • cilantro
  • avocado

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat.

Saute onions, peppers, and garlic for first ten minutes. Next, mix in chili powder, cumin, oregano, cayenne, beans, reserved liquid, tomatoes, salsa, and corn.

Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Top with loads of cheese, avocados, cilantro, and anything else scrumptious. Also, serve with cornbread (which I made but we’ll have to save that for a future post!) Soooo simple right? Piece. of. cake. Well…chili cake? Yeah, I’m done.

Homemade Pierogies

January 6, 2012

My family is German…both sets of my Grandparents are German and their parent’s are German and so on. But for some reason, my mother and I make this Polish tradition every year. I’m not sure how it started but homemade, fresh pierogies are so amazing that we make sure to take time to whip these up during the holidays. I’m a student who has two jobs so I can’t say that I get home very much but when I go, I do make sure to make time for these guys.

We’ve tackled this recipe for so many years that we are able to whip several dozen of these out in less than two hours but you should plan on spending a few hours on this recipe (or do half the recipe and only make a few dozen which should just take over an hour). We always make the 4 dozen and freeze most of them for a later date.

Every August, a nearby town hosts ‘Pierogi Fest’ which is exactly what it sounds: a weekend long food festival dedicated to these tasty dumplings. They have dumplings filled with cheese, sauerkraut, veggies, blueberries, raspberries, and so on. Basically, it’s amazing. And is probably what originally inspired us so many years ago to start making these things.

I suggest you saute them in some olive oil with some onions and peppers. Or in butter with Swiss cheese and shallots. So the next time you have a relaxing, rainy (or snowy) Saturday, take the afternoon to make these with a friend or your Ma or your boyfriend. Whip up some mimosas, turn that vinyl player on, and enjoy the cooking process.

Homemade Pierogies


  • 6 cups flour
  • 2 Tablespoons salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 2 eggs


  • 8 medium russet potatoes
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

Start by preparing the filling. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and peel and chop the potatoes into 1 inch chunks. Boil the potatoes until they are soft and a fork can easily pierce them. Drain and then mash the potatoes with a masher or hand mixer until smooth. Then fold in the cheddar and garlic until they are well incorporated. Set aside to cool while you prepare the dough.

Now it’s time to prep the dough! Doing it in two batches,  add all dough ingredients into a food processor and pulse until well combined.

If the dough is super sticky, add a bit more flour and if it’s too crumbly, add more milk.

Next, you are going to roll the dough on a floured surface. We take chunks of the dough (just like my Ma is doing in the picture below) and roll it in parts but feel free to do whatever works best for you. Also, you can definetely use a rolling pin to roll out the dough but we’ve discovered the amazing cooking secrets of the pasta maker. If you do use a pasta maker, I recommend keeping it on the 7 setting and just running it through two times to achieve a smooth texture.

Resist the cute begging dog (with the ridiculous joker collar. Poor guy- what are my parent’s thinking?)

Next, place the dough on a pierogi mold which looks like this:

Fill the pierogies with a tablespoon each of the filling and then place another thin layer of dough on top of the filling and roll a rolling pin over to seal the dumplings.

Repeat with the rest of the filling/dough. Should make around 4 dozen pierogies. Bring a large pot to a boil with salted water. Drop the dumpling in the water for about 3 minutes or until they are floating in the water.

Enjoyed boiled or saute them in butter with onions and bell peppers. Feel free to freeze a couple dozen of them for later use. And don’t forget to share with that begging puppy.

Vegan Chocolate Surprise Cookies

January 2, 2012

Since yesterday was National Hungover Day (because who doesn’t drink on New Year’s Eve REGARDLESS of what commitments you have made for the following day), Abby (my wonderful, goofy, and hung over roommate) and I decided to spend the whole day baking. We had this vision of creating a cookie buffet (for no particular reason) that ended up consisting of sugar cookies, fruity pebble rice crispy treats, five layer bars, and these little guys. Although we baked dozens of cookies, these were the winners.

We decided to make these because we both have a fear of fillings. The idea of making a filling for a cookie, donuts, or pies just SOUNDS intimidating and after several minutes of discussing visions of turkey basters and jelly injecting,  we came to the conclusion that the cookie buffet would not be complete without filling. And luckily, these cookies did not demand either of those things.

The filling was actually really easy to tackle and it did not take much longer than a normal cookie would. The cookies were adapted from Isa Moskowitz’s Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar and I want to let you know that we used half sunflower seed butter and half peanut butter for the filling section but feel free to use all peanut butter if that is what you have on hand.

Chocolate Surprise Cookies

For the cookie:

  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons Almond milk (or soy milk)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the filling:

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seed butter (or more peanut butter)
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons almond milk (start with 2 and add another if mixture is too dry)
  • dash of vanilla extract

Mix the oil, sugar, maple syrup, milk, and vanilla extract in large mixing bowl until it forms a smooth, caramel paste. Next, add in the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt and mix until it forms a thick, moist dough. Set aside.

In another bowl, use a hand mixer to cream the peanut butter, sunflower seed butter, powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. The dough should be thick enough for you to form but still a little gooey so it has a yummy texture!

Now, preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease two baking sheets (or line them with parchment paper). Prepare the inside filling by forming 20 small balls using the palms of your hands. Place them on a small sheet of wax paper.

Now go back to the outer cookie dough and take heaping tablespoons of it at a time. Form a ball by using the palm of your hand and then flatten. Place the peanut butter filling in the center and fold the chocolate dough around it. Roll in your palm a bit more to reform the ball and place on the cookie sheet. Repeat with the other 19 balls and put them about 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet because they will expand.

Cook for 10 to 12 minutes (depending on how big you ended up making them). Let cool for at least five minutes so they will harden up and the cookie will have a crunchy shell with a soft, gooey center.

Munch down and share with all your grateful, hungover friends/roommates/boyfriends/pets (but hopefully your pets are not hung over!)

Easy Vegan Pad Thai

December 28, 2011

Okay, so after having an epic cooking marathon this past weekend for Christmas, I’ve been feeling a bit less motivated in the kitchen and have been making my boyfriend survive off of leftovers. Finally, I regained the desire to cook up something fresh last night and decided to whip out this pad thai for dinner because we had everything on hand and it was about as simple as recipes come.

Although this recipe was simple, it was (to my honest surprise) super delicious. Sometimes I find “half-assed” pasta recipes to be bland and not as flavorful as their scent but this stuff was really as good as take out. It took us maybe 20 minutes to whip up (at the most) so I am excited to add this one to my weeknight rotation when I’m short on time and need something comforting.

Plus, it’s vegan (thank goodness. Cheese in pad thai…yuck)!

Vegan Pad Thai

  • 8 ounces of Lo Mein noodles
  • 4 cups of broccoli
  • 4 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 4 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped (for garnish)
  • Peanuts, chopped (for garnish)

In a large pot, boil the lo mein noodles according to the package directions. In the last five minutes, add the broccoli. Drain and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, soy sauce, and brown sugar. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Next, add the noodles/broccoli and soy sauce mixture. Toss until the noodles are well coated with the sauce. Remove from heat and stir in the green onions.

Garnish with cilantro and peanuts.

Enjoy with your kitty while watching an episode of Twin Peaks and wishing you had every article of clothing that Audrey Horn fashions.

Cranberry and Pecan Cheese ball Pops

December 27, 2011

So my stepmother has a “Cake Ball” (if you’ve never heard of cakeballs…oh goodness! You need to get your hands on a few because they are absolutely delicious. Check them out here or here) business where she makes anything from red velvet to key lime pie cake-balls for weddings and other occasions. This has conditioned me to notice every cake-ball shaped baked good that I pass; I feel like I’m constantly sending her new ideas from magazine covers, bakery stop ins, and blog scans. Because of this heightened awareness of “cake-ball” like things, I came across this idea of miniature cheese-balls on a stick from a locally owned grocery store a few weeks back (because, of course, I had assumed they were cakeballs at first). This led to searching out a few recipes on the web and finally settling on creating an adapted version from Cooking On The Side.

I made these for Christmas as part of the appetizer tray and they were a huge hit! The whole concept of being able to have bite size cheese balls that you could carry around the house was fantastic. None of that getting stuck standing around the food table talking to Uncle so-and-so because you’re too hungry to wander away. Okay, that was a bit mean.

But on a serious note, I am super excited to make these again for a New Years party this weekend. They are going to be the perfect thing to bring to a cocktail party! Plus, they took about five minutes to make and are just so damn cute! I plan to experiment with the ingredients by mixing up the cheeses and nuts (perhaps swap out the pecans for walnuts and gruyere for swiss or even cheddar).

Anyways, keep these in mind for your next party…whether it’s a major bash like New Years or a simple tea party with a few girl friends. They are so easy to whip up and enjoy with drinks that there’s no need to restrict this recipe to one occasion.

Cranberry and Pecan Cheese ball Pops

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped dried cranberries
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 3 teaspoons local honey
  • 20 lollipop sticks

Mix the pecans and cranberries on a shallow dish and set aside.

In a food processor, add the feta, cream cheese, Gruyere, and honey. Pulse until well combined.

Use your hands to form tablespoon size balls and roll in the cranberry/pecan mixture.

Place on wax paper and repeat with the rest of the cheese mixture. Top each ball with a lollipop stick and stick in the fridge for an hour or so to firm up.

Serve the sticks by sticking them into a decorative styrofoam piece or hand them out yourself. Make sure to walk around with some to show off your pride and joy for your new favorite cheese ball.

PS This is my 50th post! Next time I should plan better and make a cake for my 100th!

Oh, and share with your kitty if there is any left. You know how they feel about dairy products.

Chocolate Pizzas

December 24, 2011

These pizzas have it all: gooey marshmallows, salty peanuts, sweet chocolate, and juicy cherries. My mother picked this recipe up early in her adulthood (probably around the age I am at now!) and has been making these every Christmas since…which means I could not resist sharing this recipe since I’ve been eating these pizzas every Christmas since I could ever remember.  I use to give my teachers them when I was younger and am still to this day impressed with how wonderful of a gift they make! All you have to do is wrap them in some clear cellophane and pop a bow on top!

We traditionally make these at Christmas because of the red and green on them but feel free to make these anytime of the year and subsitute the cherries for other color candies or nuts. Also, this recipe is great for potlucks or as something to bring to a party since they are easy to divide into slices.

So as you get ready for the Christmas chaos tomorrow, spend this low key Christmas eve poppin’ that festive Frank Sinatra vinyl in the player, sing to your kitty, and whip these pizzas up while dancing in the kitchen.

Chocolate Pizzas

Serving Size: 3 pizzas

  •  1 bag (12 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 pound white almond bark
  • 2 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 1 cup rice crispy treats
  • 1 cup peanuts
  • dozen red maraschino cherries, halved
  • 6 green maraschino cherries, quartered
  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 3 disposable 12 oz pie/pizza tins

Combine the chocolate chips and 14 ounces of the almond bark (save the other 2 ounces to drizzle on top later) in a large bowl and melt by cooking in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes (stirring it every 30 seconds). Stir the marshmallows, rice crispy treats, and peanuts into the melted chocolate mixture.

Divide mixture evenly between the 3 GREASED pie pans and spread evenly. Top with the “pepperoni” cherries and “green pepper” cherries. Sprinkle the three pizzas with the shredded “mozzarella” coconut.

Melt the other two ounces of almond bark with 1 teaspoon of oil in the microwave for about one minute (checking every 30 seconds). Drizzle on top of the pies and then stick them in the fridge (or outside because it’s Christmas and it’s cold out there!) for an hour or until the chocolate hardens.

Slice like a pizza and devour all three pizzas. Or give away one for a gift and munch down on the other two.

Hazelnut Shortbread with Dark Chocolate Drizzle

December 21, 2011

I am now into day three of my holiday vacation and it’s about time I made some Christmas sweets already! I’m the type of person who will eat anything that is coated in chocolate so I turned to my boyfriend for inspiration on where to start. This recipe is a perfect hybrid between a traditional recipe (shortbread) and something modern/unusual (baking with hazelnut).

I found hazelnut in the bulk section of my local co-op so I’d suggest you should start there if you are having troubles finding it. Plus, buying in bulk is the best invention ever so that you can buy the exact amount you need and don’t have half a bag of hazelnut laying around with no use.

Anyways, this shortbread turned out fantastic with an unbeatable texture. Dry, flaky cookie with warm, melted chocolate drizzled on top. Mmmmm. Perfect for that holiday potluck you got talked into going to or to help you get through the family get-togethers.

*Side note:Veganize this recipe by substituting the butter with earth balance and the chocolate with vegan chocolate chips. Mmmmmm



Hazelnut Shortbread with Dark Chocolate Drizzle

(Adapted from BakerStreet)

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 sticks of butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped hazelnut (+more for topping, if you’d like)
  • 4 oz dark chocolate


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine the flour, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl. In another bowl, blend the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Then mix in the dry ingrdients to the butter/sugar fixture. Fold in the hazelnuts.

Spread dough (it may be alittle dry but that’s okay) onto a 9×9 pan. Cook for 25-27 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool.

Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave in 30 second increments (stir between each 3o seconds) until fully melted. Sprinkle the shortbread with remaining hazelnut and melted chocolate.

Munch down with coffee or milk.

Cranberry Goat Cheese Breakfast Bake

December 20, 2011

So Christmas came early this year.I decided to buy myself a new camera for all the hard work I’ve put in this year but instead of waiting til I saved up the money for it (surprise, surprise) I splurged and bought it last week. I reasoned it with that fact that I was gonna need the holiday break to play with it and figure out how to use it…right? Anyways, I’m sorry if I get a little excessive with the pictures for awhile but it’s only because I’m super excited about my new toy.

So, in other exciting news, I am FINALLY on holiday vacation(well sort of- I still have to work at the Record Label in the afternoon but I’ve got all mornings and evening off for the next month!). This means lots of breakfasts in bed. I am the type of person that likes to take two hours to wake up…You know, make some coffee, get back into bed to drink that coffee, watch a movie in bed while drinking coffee, make breakfast and get back into bed while it cooks, eat in bed, etc.

To start off my morning I made this super simple breakfast bake so that I could crawl back into bed while it cooked. These miniature bakes are soooo easy to make and sooo delicious. In the summer we got use to throwing whatever was fresh from our garden into them (cherry tomatoes, basil, thyme, corn, etc) but now that it’s winter it’s more like…whatever is in our fridge. It’s a rather simple equation: 2 eggs + a cheese + dash of milk + a spice + veggie/meat= delicious. The combinations are absolutely endless! Here I did the whole sweet and savory combination to please just about anyone’s taste buds.

Cranberry Goat Cheese Breakfast Bake

Serving Size: 1

  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • A couple chunks goat cheese
  • 4-5 dried cranberries
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • Salt/Pepper

Preheat oven to 350. In a small greased remekin, add in this order: 2 eggs, milk (pour it over the egg yolks so keep them from drying out), goat cheese, cranberries, thyme, salt, and pepper.

Cook for 10-12 minutes. In the last minutes, put the broiler on (but keep a very close watch on it!) so that the top browns.

Enjoy with toast. In bed with some french roast coffee. And your favorite slippers.

Gingerbread Muffins with Cream Cheese Icing

December 12, 2011

To celebrate finishing my first exam of finals week, I dedicated my afternoon to baking festive goods and listening to Christmas Elvis albums. And damn, it was perfect. There is something about baking that is just so relaxing and it was a perfect ending to three straight days of studying.

Anyways, If you haven’t been able to tell yet, I seem to have this weird thing for cupcakes/muffins. Something about how they are in miniature form and easy to take on the go gets me everytime. I guess what I am trying to say is that I do realize that 1/3 of my posts are about cupcake and muffins but they always turn out so damn good that I can’t help it!

On another note, I found the original recipe for this muffin in  Homemade by Yvette Van Boven which is a  ridiculously inspiring cookbook. She does the most amazing photography in this book which makes me want to recreate everything in it (which I hope to, at least admit, to do over Christmas break).

Anyways, this recipe has the perfect balance because the muffin itself isn’t super sweet which is why the tangy cream cheese icing compliments it perfectly. I’d recommend this recipe for some type of breakfast or to go with your afternoon tea. It’s simple, easy if you’re in a hurry in the morning, and goes perfectly with tea or coffee. Plus, these taste straight up like christmas so how could they possibly be bad?

Gingerbread Muffins

  • 4 oz. Butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp all spice seasoning
  • 1/4 cup milk


  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 cup confectioner sugar
  • 1 squirt of lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl and wet ones in a small. Grease a muffin tin or fill with liners. Fill liners about 2/3 full and stick in the oven. Cook for 15 t0 18 minutes.

While the cupcakes are cooling, prepare the icing! Just mix all the ingredients together and lather over the muffins. Sprinkle cinnamon or allspice on top of each cupcake.

Munch down while dancing to Elvis Christmas tunes. Or over coffee while watching recaps from Kid Rock on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives (if you’re feelin’ American). Uh yeah.