Tag Archives: dessert

Something sweet

13 Jun

My sweet tooth has acted up in unexpected ways so far during my pregnancy. I expected to want nothing but ice cream and candy bars, but instead it’s green apples, smoothies, cherries and all the seasonal fruits. That isn’t to say I haven’t been indulging a little, but (so far unfounded) fears of gestational diabetes have kept me from going overboard. Still, here are a few fun indulgences of late.

A coworker spent two weeks in Okinawa and brought us goodies. Mine was this incredibly fun Matcha Kit Kat:

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And the candy inside:

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I really enjoyed this treat! The aftertaste was like buttercream frosting — that’s the best comparison I can make. I didn’t notice a green tea flavor at all, thanks to all the sugar, but I would definitely sample one again.

She brought a beautiful tin box of these little guys to my boss, who has been generous enough to share with all of us:

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I forgot to take a picture out of the package, but they are little butter cookies filled with white chocolate. They are so rich and pack the perfect pick-me-up amount of sugar for the afternoon slump.

And last night, I had a rare burst of energy (thanks in part to Mr. X making dinner — details to come!) so I decided to make cookies. I had a pretty specific craving for chocolate and peanut butter cookies. I found this recipe and knew I had to adapt them immediately. Avocado as a secret ingredient was too much fun to pass up! Didn’t they turn out cute?

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I actually de-veganized them to work with what I had on hand. I also cut the recipe in half. Here’s what I came up with:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies with Avocado
Adapted from Veggie and the Beast

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 small ripe avocado
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup salted peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Preheat your oven to 350, and grease or line a cookie sheet. Mix your dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Cut your avocado in half, remove the pit, and scrape it into a small bowl. Mash until it isn’t lumpy. In the base of your mixer or another bowl, beat the butter until it gets creamy. Add the avocado and beat together until they become uniform. Beat in the sugar and peanut butter, and then the egg and vanilla, until combined. Now slowly add your dry ingredients until all mixed together. Roll down into walnut-sized balls, flattening slightly into fat discs. Bake for 10 minutes on prepared cookie sheet. Let cool, as they will be very soft fresh from the oven.

    Makes about 20 little cookies.

    These are lightly sweet with great chocolate/peanut butter flavor. The avocado adds creaminess without a distinct taste, which is perfect for these little cookies. I will definitely experiment with avocado as a butter substitute again!

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    Butternut Squash Bread Pudding

    12 Nov

    I’m starting your week off right with an easy, delicious dessert recipe. I’m talking about the insanity that is Butternut Squash Bread Pudding. With caramel sauce. And pecans. And chocolate chunks. Oh, and it’s vegan.

    It’s a combination of a bunch of things I had on hand and was inspired by half a loaf of stale wheat bread. We basically never buy bread any more, since I’ve become a sourdough-baking fiend, but I didn’t have time to make any before I left town recently. So I picked up a loaf of whole wheat sandwich bread for Mr. X to have while I was gone. It was calling my name last Monday, begging to be transformed into something much greater than itself. Thus, this recipe was born.

    Butternut Squash Bread Pudding

    • 1/2 loaf of bread, torn or cut into pieces
    • 1 cup coconut/almond/soy/whatever milk
    • 1 cup of roasted butternut squash flesh (or canned pumpkin or sweet potato)
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar, divided
    • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, liquid
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg)
    • 1 square of Baker’s chocolate, chopped (optional — can sub chocolate chips, of course)
    • 2 tablespoons chopped pecans (optional)
    • 1/3 recipe of Easy Caramel Sauce (or another sauce you prefer — butter rum sauce is popular)

    Preheat your oven to 350° F. Lightly grease an 8×8″ baking dish and set aside. In a large bowl, add the bread pieces, milk, most of the sugar, butternut squash, coconut oil, vanilla, and spice(s), stirring to combine. Now fold in your chocolate chunks and pecans, if using. Pour the mixture into the baking dish and use a rubber spatula to press everything down lightly. Top with the rest of the sugar. It’ll look like this:

    Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, until the bread starts to brown. Meanwhile, if using the Caramel Sauce, make it now or in advance. I already had some from the blondies, so I reheated it on the stove just until it was warm and any sugar solids dissolved. When the pudding is cooked, pour the sauce on top and return to the oven for five minutes.

    Let cool as long as your will power will hold out and enjoy. Makes 9 to 16 squares, depending on how you cut it.

    It’s delicious enjoyed alongside some fall tea (Celestial Seasoning’s Apple Spice, to be exact):

    The pudding tastes like heaven warm from the oven, but it is a mess to remove. If you let it cool, slicing will be much easier. As you can see above, I enjoyed my first piece with approximately zero patience.

    If you have everything on hand, the recipe comes together in a jiffy. The pudding is a warming, comforting treat that is familiar but still a little unexpected. It may make an appearance at our little Thanksgiving celebration this year.

    Butternut Squash Blondies with Caramel

    22 Oct

    If you follow me on Twitter, you know that yesterday included some stress baking. Some people drink heavily, others clean — I bake when I’m feeling the pressure. I’d been planning to make a squash-based treat for a couple of weeks now, and Sunday’s moments of “ahhhhhh!” prompted me to get it underway.

    Look at that spicy, gooey goodness. I scoured the web for a tweakable recipe and ended up with this one from the Tasty Kitchen. Below is my vegan version.

    Butternut Squash Blondies with Caramel

    • 2/3 recipe of Easy Caramel Sauce
    • 6 tablespoons of liquid coconut oil (can sub in melted Earth Balance)
    • 1/3 to 1/2 cup packed brown sugar (depending on your preferred level of sweetness)
    • 1/2 cup cooked butternut squash, mashed or pureed (or sub in canned pumpkin)
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or use 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg)
    • 1 cup flour (I used white whole wheat)
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • Pinch of salt

    First prepare the vegan caramel sauce recipe above. I’m linking to it because I followed it to a T, loved it, and wouldn’t change a thing. Just a note — you can find cans of coconut cream at Trader Joe’s, if you’d rather use that than the full-fat coconut milk method. If you do, you can skip the first step of refrigerating it for four hours and get right to the caramel-making. Let the completed sauce cool in the fridge for about two hours.

    Preheat the oven to 350° F and grease or spray an 8×8″ baking dish. In a large bowl, cream the coconut oil and sugar. I used 1/2 cup, but it’s VERY sweet, so I would probably use 1/3 cup next time. Now add the cooked butternut squash, vanilla, and spice and mix just until combined. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt and mix until combined. Spread about 2/3 of it in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Remove caramel sauce from the fridge and reheat it over a medium flame, stirring constantly, for a couple of minutes, until it’s pourable. Spread about 2/3 of it on top of the blondie batter. (Save the rest for ice cream, coffee, eating by the spoonful, whatever you prefer.)

    Now top with the rest of the batter, spreading it as much as you can to cover. Mine wasn’t perfect and looked like this:

    Bake for 25 minutes, or until it’s golden and a toothpick inserted comes out batter-free (though the melty caramel with leave a trace). Eat it immediately if you don’t mind the sticky mess or let it cool completely to get a more solid blondie, like in the picture above. Both options taste amazing.

    This recipe is not at all healthy, but it’s delicious and vegan! You could use pumpkin, as noted, but it’s also a great use for any kind of leftover roasted winter squash — well, probably not spaghetti squash, but you get the idea.

    What I Ate Wednesday #2

    26 Sep

    Welcome to another What I Ate Wednesday! We’re covering Monday again.

    And on with the show.

    This week, I’ve been starting my day with polenta — what my husband lovingly calls gruel:

    OK, not lovingly. He is totally grossed out by polenta. I, however, think it’s amazing. To the mush I added pepper and nutritional yeast, and then I topped it with sauteed summer squash, fresh basil, and crushed red pepper. I also had green tea on the side. It’s such a perfect breakfast, especially since the nut butter recall has my overnight oats on hold for right now. Monday was such a lovely morning with the light starting to dapple in later and later now:

    The picture doesn’t really capture the tranquility, but believe me — it was a welcome start to the week.

    Around 11:00, I had a banana and some coffee:

    Then it was lunch time. It started off innocent enough with an open-faced avocado and barbecue tempeh sandwich with a side of kale salad (recipe tomorrow):

    But it was a coworker’s birthday, so we had the requisite Doritos (x3):

    Cake:

    A hazelnut Turkish delight (or rather, Turkish disgust — GROSS):

    And hummus (x3):

    At least I got this awesome ring:

    I was so, so stuffed from pigging out that I barely had room for any dinner. I did manage to eat two tacos:

    Lentils, cumin, salsa, cilantro, chopped pepper, shredded jalapeno-jack cheese, and lime juice on corn tortillas.

    How do you navigate office birthday celebrations and the unhealthy food that accompanies them? I always give in out of politeness (and desire to eat Doritos). Our office only has six employees, so it’s not like birthdays are a weekly occurence. Still, I need to do better about moderation in the future.

    Vegging out at Lolla 2012

    8 Aug

    This year was my second trip to Lollapalooza with my husband (who was then my boyfriend) and his brother. It was a great trip on many levels, in part because I accepted the job that brought us to LA (over the phone, at a gas station somewhere in Kansas, probably). Here’s my recap of last year’s experience.

    Here was my musical experience in 2012:

    Loved: Trampled By Turtles (times two! Saw them at the festival and at the Double Door), Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, First Aid Kit, Florence + the Machine, Of Monsters and Men, The Shins, M83, Tallest Man on Earth, Red Hot Chili Peppers

    Liked and/or Suspect I Would Have Loved If I’d Heard More of Them: Neon Indian, Sigur Ros, Black Keys, Washed Out, Toro Y Moi

    Meh: Tame Impala, Jack White (please don’t kill me), White Panda

    Sadly Missed Due to Weather or Schedule Conflict: Alabama Shakes, Santigold, Bombay Bicycle Club, Polica, The Devil Makes Three, Twin Shadow, Kaskade

    And now, onto the food. I didn’t capture every bite, but here are some highlights:

    This falafel wrap from Goose Island Brewpub was HANDS DOWN the best thing I ate at the festival. It had falafel, cabbage, cucumbers, tzatziki, shredded carrots, cucumber, and some kind of hot sauce on a pita. It was mouth-watering. I had it twice but could have easily eaten three times that many.

    A close runner-up for most delicious was this mouth-watering dish of cold sesame noodles (which I covered in sri racha) from Rock ‘n Roll Noodle Company. So, so flippin’ good.

    On the dessert front, I thoroughly enjoyed this little gem from Puffs of Doom. It was a raspberry lemonade cream puff. Very refreshing.

    And then there was this monster of a sundae from Windsor Ice Cream Shoppe. It was the Lolla Sundae: ice cream and brownies topped with hot fudge, whipped cream, and a cherry in a waffle bowl. Insane! And I ate every bite.

    Above is a bonus meal, Monday’s lunch from Oysy Sushi on Michigan Ave, minus the miso soup. I went with the vegetarian lunch special, and it was MASSIVE! I couldn’t eat most of it.

    That’s my trip in a culinary nutshell. I am now back to the daily grind and, hopefully soon, I’ll even make it to the grocery store.

    PB&J Cookies and more planning

    9 Jan

    First, let’s get to the good stuff: PB&J Cookies. These were created by looking at a bunch of different recipes, and the end result is a tasty, fluffy, fairly fiber-loaded treat.

    PB&J Cookies

    • 1/2 cup unbleached flour
    • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
    • 1/2 cup rolled oats
    • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt (omit if peanut butter contains salt)
    • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 2 tablespoons canola oil
    • About 1/4 cup warm water, as needed
    • 3 teaspoons (or a little more) jam, flavor of your choice

    Preheat oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet and set aside.

    In a medium bowl, combine flours, oats, 1/4 cup of sugar, and salt. In a small bowl, combine peanut butter, vanilla, oil, and 2 tablespoons of water, mixing with a fork until combined. Add the wet to dry and mix until just combined. If the dough won’t hold together, add water a tablespoon at a time until it’s workable. I used my hands.

    Pour 3 remaining tablespoons of sugar on a small plate. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls, roll them in the sugar, and place on the baking sheet. Flatten each ball slightly. Grab your 1/4 teaspoon measure and use it to make an indentation in each cookie. Now use it again to fill each dent with your jam of choice (mine was a strawberry-raspberry-blueberry blend from the Hollywood Farmers Market). Bake cookies for 10-15 minutes. Do not over-bake. Mine were perfect — lightly browned on the bottom and not runny) at 12 minutes.

    Makes 12 cookies.

    These will go fast! They have the classic flavor of America’s favorite sandwich but with a grown-up sophistication.

    I wanted to talk a little more about meal planning. We finalized our plan for the week (after realizing we aren’t allowed to grill on-site — boo!). The plan outline:

    Monday: lunch — quinoa soup; dinner — taco salad
    Tuesday: ditto
    Wednesday: lunch — quinoa soup; dinner — chili
    Thursday: lunch — zucchini wrap; dinner — chili
    Friday: lunch — zucchini wrap; dinner — leftovers?

    I want to prepare all my legumes from dried this week, so I decided to take my meal plan a step further by writing a daily schedule of when to soak or cook what. This will be especially helpful as I use the slow cooker multiple times. Here is the plan

    Sunday: day — make quinoa soup in the slow cooker; night — soak pinto beans (for taco salad)
    Monday: day — X makes pinto beans on the stove; night — soak black beans
    Tuesday: day — make black beans in the slow cooker and soak chickpeas; night — cook chickpeas on the stove
    Wednesday: day — make chili (containing chickpeas and black beans) in the slow cooker; night — cook zucchini and make cilantro spread (for wraps)

    I’m hoping this plan will keep me organized and de-stressed. I’ll let you know how it goes (and the meals, too!).

    Empty pantry scramble

    8 Jan

    My bank account is so close to empty right now that every In N Out order – and, heck, dollar in the parking meter – stings. So I decided to spend no money yesterday (which addresses my financial goal) and cook using only what we had in the fridge and cabinets (touching on my dairy-free one, since we have very little in the apartment). Here’s what I was working with:

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    Food cabinet. This is where I keep my beans, grains, peanut butter, oils, vinegar, and such. Eventually this will go in the pantry . . . once it has shelves.

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    Grapefruit and tomato (that ended up being rotten – blech) on the counter.

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    Spice cabinet. I also keep tea and a few random things in here. This, incidentally, is my favorite thing about the kitchen.

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    Fridge scariness. Normal things, plus really old takeout.

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    Freezer. Apparently it only contains, flours, sugar, vodka, and ice.

    For breakfast, I decided to go with a classic bowl of oats:

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    Ugly but delicious. In the mix: Trader Joe’s hot breakfast mix (oats, barley, rye, and wheat) with peanut butter, homemade pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, a splash of coconut milk, six (yes, six) chocolate chips, and a pinch of raw sugar. ‘Twas delicious. A couple of hours later, I made Mr. X a slightly different oat combo (jam instead of PB) and we split the grapefruit.

    For lunch, I was excited to use up two little zucchini (and the tomato and partial onion, but both ended up being deceased). I decided to give farinata a new twist:

    It was incredible. I know I said the last one I made was the best, but this one was even better. It contained: garbanzo flour, water, garlic, nooch, oregano, zucchini, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper. I sauteed the zucchini and topped the farinata with it after about a minute on the stove.

    I dusted off the slow cooker (literally — the thing was pretty dirty inside) to make dinner:

    Weirdly glowing barbecued lentils and rice with steamed Swiss chard. The meal contained: dry brown lentils, dry brown rice, water, garlic, a tad of zucchini, barbecue sauce, chard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. For the entree, I added half a cup of lentils, a cup of brown rice, three cloves of chopped garlic, and three cups of water to the slow cooker and set it on high for about three hours. When everything is cooked, I added a small amount of zucchini (what was left over from lunch) and about a half cup of barbecue sauce. I didn’t measure, just pouring and mixing until it coated everything well. Then I put the lid on and set it to low for another three-ish hours, when we were ready to eat. It made a lot! Probably four servings.

    Just before eating, I prepared the chard: set a pan over medium-low, washed the chard, tore it, and tossed it in the pan without drying it. About a minute later, it was lightly wilted. I plated it and squeezed a little lemon juice on top, as well as salt and pepper. Yum!

    While dinner simmered in the slow cooker, I decided to throw together some dessert:

    PB&J Cookies! These contained: unbleached white flour, whole wheat flour, oats, raw sugar, peanut butter, canola oil, water, salt, vanilla, and jam. I’ll share the whole recipe tomorrow, but I will tell you now that they are awesome!

    All in all, I was really excited about the success of my experiment and plan to try the challenge again soon. Not next Saturday, though, since we’ll be celebrating our anniversary. 🙂