Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Peanut Butter Honey Truffles

I made these cute and not too incredibly unhealthy truffles (really PB balls, but "truffle" sounds nice) for the kids at our after school program. They probably won't like them because they are nasty picky brats (jk...), but I think they're very tasty.


Adapted from The Shiksa

Makes about 30 1" balls

1/2 cup oats (blended to a fine powder)

1+ cup peanut butter (natural unsweetened if you have it)
1/2 cup honey (the stronger flavor the better, like lavender or wildflower)
1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt (if your PB doesn't have salt)

Coating options:

(to coat about 3/4 of balls) 1/2 cup shredded coconut (blended to a coarse flake)
(to coat about 1/4 of balls) 2-3 tbsp cocoa powder
or crushed toasted almonds or some other nut, powdered or normal sugar, chopped up raisins, or more blended oats or whatever...

Do your blending - the oats and the coconut. Then mix together the ingredients (oats through optional salt). Taste and adjust to your liking. Roll into balls and coat them with coconut, cocoa powder or whatever you're using. Add more PB as needed. If they're really hard to roll, refrigerate a little first. 

I mixed about half of my batter with about a 1/4 cup of melted chocolate. These need refrigerated a few minutes before rolling. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pierogie Pizza

Pierogie pizzas are quintessential Pittsburgh. The only requirement is that they need to have lots of butter! (Sometimes when my friends and I go out to get this pizza, we even order it with extra butter.)

You will need:

Pizza dough (I like Trader Joe's refrigerated pizza doughs)
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
7 small red potatoes
1/2 onion, thinly sliced

First make the mashed potatoes by boiling in a pot full of water until fork tender, about 15 minutes. While the potatoes are cooking, caramelize the onions by cooking them over medium heat until golden brown in plenty of butter. Once the potatoes are done, drain them and then mash them with (again) plenty of butter.  I like to keep the potato peels on but if you don't like them, peel them after boiling. Roll out the dough and spread the mashed potatoes thickly over the entire surface. Cover with the caramelized onions and then sprinkle the cheese on top. Dot the pizza with pats of butter to melt in the oven and make a crispy crust on top of the pizza.

Cook the pizza at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes until the cheese is as lightly browned as you like!

Enchilada Sauce

I make enchiladas pretty often (like these pumpkin ones or these butternut squash ones but usually just cheese and onion), and I used to make them with normal salsa. Then I started using bottled enchilada sauce. Now I've graduated to homemade! It's so easy that it's something you might as well just make yourself and doctor to your own taste. Also, it keeps well in the freezer. 

The enchiladas I made this time are pretty much exactly like the pumpkin ones I posted about, except I mixed the pumpkin with cream cheese in a saucepan first to make a creamier (if a bit less healthy) filling. I had it for lunch with leftover paella!

From Tide & Thyme
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup chicken stock or water
1 tsp kosher salt

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Lavender Earl Grey Cookies

A standard recipe that I make is Lavender Earl Grey vegan cake, so I was thinking why not cookies? These were a test to make for the cookie table in May! They were a success according to a couple taste testers (aka Laura, Kim, and Sara!). The flavor of the tea and lavender is so fragrant in this buttery shortbread cookie. The recipe came from here via a basic Google search.

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp loose earl grey tea
1 tbsp dried culinary lavender
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 sticks butter, at room temperature

1. Use a coffee grinder or a food processor to grind the tea and the lavender. You just want the leaves to be fine enough that you would want to eat them in a cookie. You could also chop the leaves finely.

2. Mix all the dry ingredients with a wire whisk.

3. Blend with butter until the mixture is smooth.

4. Put the dough in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes or so.

5. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Form discs of dough out of 1/2 teaspoonful balls. Really you can do whatever shape you want. Since this is a shortbread cookie, it retains its shape when you bake it.

6. Bake for about 7 minutes or until the cookies are lightly golden brown around the edges.

Strawberry Jam and Dark Chocolate Swirled Brownies

Way back in the Spring, I made some strawberry "jam," but I didn't follow the recipe (big surprise) and it turned into strawberry syrup. The recipe was from Bust Magazine and it was for strawberry jam with thyme and balsamic vinegar. I seem to have lost it but I'm sure it will turn up again in our apartment. The extra syrup was frozen for Winter, and so I've been using it all week.

Strawberry Jam Brownies

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
heaping 1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

1/4 cup strawberry jam
1/2 bar really dark chocolate, broken into chunks

In a mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients with a whisk. Then add the vegetable oil, water, eggs, and vanilla extract. The batter will be thick. Spread it into a greased 8x8 inch baking pan. Drizzle the jam over the brownie batter and using a butter knife, swirl the jam into the chocolate batter.

Sprinkle with the dark chocolate chunks. Bake in a 325 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out almost clean. (I like to underbake brownies.)

Spiced Tomato Soup

At this month's soup group, the host of the evening served up this phenomenal soup. It is absolutely perfect for the winter. When I first tasted it, I couldn't believe it was vegan. It was so creamy and flavorful because of the coconut cream and the warm spices. I finally tracked down the recipe from 101 Cookbooks, which is my new favorite cooking site. I basically stuck to the recipe, but I added less water and the entire can of coconut milk.
I also decided to use some of the cooked tomatoes that I had frozen way back from tomato season. (I can't believe it's already time to use up all of my frozen tomatoes and sauces even though Summer feels a long way away from now.)The funny thing is I don't label my containers when preserving so I very well could have added some strange salsa mixture that I had frozen at some point. As I was dumping it in, I noticed some chopped garlic and perhaps rosemary in the tomato mixture. Oh well. It was delicious anyway.

Tomato Soup

4 tablespoons coconut oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 (28 ounce) cans of fire roasted whole tomatoes
1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk

Barefoot Contessa's Chocolate Cake

This is the second time we've made this chocolate two-layer cake for my Grandpa's birthday - it's VERY good. There's coffee to make it extra chocolate-y and buttermilk to make it extra moist. Last year I had to make it all in less than an hour and it still worked out perfectly, so that's proof that this is a simple recipe, especially since I'm slow and hardly ever make cakes. I add toasted coconut for another great texture. Only the outside is coconut, unlike Kate's crazy coconut birthday cake!

My mom took the lead on the baking this time. If she's around, I'm generally not allowed to do much in the kitchen. We are on opposite ends of the of cooking/baking spectrum: she measures EVERYTHING, adds it all in order and follows the recipe verbatim. She even had everything measured out ahead of time for this one. 

I hope you all live to be 87! If you do, I will make you this cake. If not, tough, make it yourself.

the grandparents with their favorite grandchild

From the Barefoot Contessa

Butter for greasing the pans 

1 3/4 cups all ­purpose flour, plus more for pans 
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra ­large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Chocolate Frosting

6 ounces good semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 extra­large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
11/4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

Paella Mixta

I really like paella, but saffron is kind of ridiculous. This can be a saffron-optional paella. I'm sure saffron is lovely and makes things a nice color, but I've never been able to bring myself to spend so much on it. 

This Wednesday is my grandpa's 87th birthday, so we had them over for dinner on Sunday afternoon. (Early enough that it wouldn't interfere with Downton Abbey, of course - not because they are early bird special-type elderly people. They stay up way later than I usually do.)

Adapted from Saveur

This makes enough for about 8-10 people, probably more, so halve if necessary.

(optional) 30 threads saffron, crushed (1⁄2 tsp.)
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2" pieces
10+ large shrimp, peeled and deveined 
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 - 1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 oz. pre-cooked chorizo or kielbasa, cut into 1⁄4"-thick coins
1 tbsp. paprika, smoked if you have it

1 tsp turmeric (to help make it more yellow if you're not using saffron)
1-2 bell peppers, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 dried bay leaves
3 medium tomatoes, minced (or canned, stewed - it's wintertime)
1 small onion, minced

1 carrot, sliced
7 cups chicken broth
2 1⁄2 cups rice, short grain if you have it
8 oz. fresh or frozen peas

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Whole Wheat Banana Bread

 I've also been trying to use more whole wheat flour so I'm going to piggyback right off of Laura's delicious looking Honey Whole Wheat Bread with a dessert.  This whole wheat banana bread is moist and yummy despite the lack of white sugar/flour.  It is very filling and I didn't feel as guilty eating it for breakfast.

What you'll need...

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I added a lot more because I do not believe cinnamon needs to be measured) 
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (see my above measuring technique when it comes to delicious spices)  
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (about 3-4) mashed very ripe bananas 
  • 1/4 cup honey 
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional) 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 9x5 in. loaf pan

Beat together butter, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla in a bowl until creamy.  Add the mashed bananas, honey, and eggs and beat until smooth.  Add the flour and chocolate chips.  Spoon batter into the pan and let sit uncovered for 10 minutes.

Bake for 50 minutes.  Then, place a piece of foil across the top and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 in the pan and then place onto rack until cooled completely.

I made muffins too! If you do this, make sure you grease the muffin liners.  I filled them about 3/4 of the way with batter.

And last but not least, Percy!  I haven't seen any cats on here and I have a perfectly cute gymnast one laying around so, here he is!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Honey Wheat Bread

In honor of the inauguration I'm tempted to call this Obama bread! But we'll keep it Honey Wheat Bread because that's what it is. This is another step in my trying to use more whole wheat flour, replacing or supplementing white all-purpose. I've already posted my normal white flour bread from The Hungry Mouse, which is also really good! But I think this one is even better.

I got this whole wheat recipe from, where it's called Simple Whole Wheat Bread. And has 1,191 reviews! That's a lot.

Also, except for the speech I've had the inauguration on mute because I'm watching Wartime Farm from the BBC on YouTube! Check it out. Especially if you graduated with a history degree and haven't done anything much with it since...


3 cups warm water
2 packages active dry yeast
1/3 cup honey
5 cups bread flour (I used all-purpose)
3 tbsp butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
1 tbsp salt (this seems like a lot! I guess it is for three loaves though.)
2 cups whole wheat flour plus about 1 1/2 cups more for kneading
2 tbsp butter, melted (I added a tsp of honey)

Homemade Paneer

Last week during soup group, one of the girls made some delicious paneer to go along with some tomato soup. I was inspired to make it by how simple she made it sound. Just lemon juice and milk. I found some simple and easy to follow instructions on this site.


1/2 gallon of milk (I used 2%)
2-3 tbsp fresh lemon juice


Cheesecloth (got it at the East End Coop)

1. Line a strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth. Set the strainer over a large bowl to catch the whey.

2. Bring the milk to a rolling boil and then turn off the heat. (I somehow managed to burn some milk onto the bottom of the pan, so make sure not to do that. This is why there are some brownish chunks in the cheese at the end. Ideally, the cheese should be white but this was my first time making it so oh well.)

3. Add 2 tbsp of the lemon juice and stir until the curds and whey separate. It will be fairly obvious when this happens because there will literally be white chunks (curds) in yellowish looking liquid (whey). If the mixture does not separate, add another tablespoon of lemon juice.

4. Pour the mixture into the strainer and let cool. (At this point, this mixture is ricotta cheese!!!) Once it is cool enough to handle, squeeze as much liquid as you can out of the cheesecloth.

5. Set the cheese in the center of a plate and place another plate on top of it. Weigh down the top plate with some canned goods for about 1 hour to press even more liquid out of it. Now the cheese is ready to eat!

I fried my cheese in a saucepan until it was golden brown with some olive oil to give it some color. I also added some salt after it was cooked for more flavor since it is a mild cheese.

As an additional note, I used the whey to cook the lentils and split peas in for some extra flavor. This site tells you what you can do with whey so you don't have to throw it out. It is apparently full of vitamins and flavor.

Curried Red Lentil Soup

This recipe is from 101 Cookbooks which is a gorgeous blog with some delicious recipes. I changed it up a bit and served it with some homemade paneer and roasted butternut squash.

1 cup dried yellow split peas
1 cup dried red split lentils (masoor dal)
7 cups water (I used the extra whey from making the paneer instead for extra flavor)
1 medium carrot, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh peeled and minced ginger
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 heaping tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons butter
8 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced
1/4 red onion, diced
1/3 cup golden raisins (I used dried cranberries)
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
one small handful cilantro, chopped
cooked brown rice or farro, for serving

Bring the lentils and split peas to a boil in the 7 cups of water or broth.

Reduce heat to a simmer and add the carrot and 1/4 of the ginger. Cover and simmer for about 1 hour, or until the split peas are soft.
In the meantime, in a dry saucepan over low heat, toast the curry powder until it is quite fragrant. Be careful though, you don't want to burn the curry powder, just toast it. Set aside.

Place the butter in a pan over medium heat, add half of the green onions, the red onion, the remaining ginger, garlic, and cranberries.

Saute for two minutes stirring constantly, then add the tomato paste and saute for another minute or two more.

Add the toasted curry powder to the tomato paste mixture, mix well, and then add this to the simmering soup along with the coconut milk and salt.
Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes or so. Add some water for a thinner soup or simmer longer for a thicker consistency. I kept the soup pretty thick and I kept cooking it over low heat for several hours. Sprinkle each bowl generously with cilantro and the remaining green onions to garnish. Serve over some farro.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Lemony Roasted Chicken

I found a copy of Bon Appetit at work the other day in this weird wall indentation by the front entrance that seems like a sort of improvised lost and found, and I was pleasantly surprised! I would actually want to make a lot of those recipes. I had always assumed it was too fancy schmancy. The first recipe I've tried is this "Roasted Chicken Thighs with Lemon and Oregano."

The recipe calls for boneless thighs, but I used bone-in thighs so I cooked it a lot longer, at least 15 minutes in the skillet and 20 in the oven. I wished I'd left it skin down on the skillet a bit longer to get a crisper skin, it could probably sit in there for 20-25 minutes or more at medium heat. I added peas and couscous to make it a full lunch and served it with a croissant to soak up some tasty juices. 

The garlic is from Blackberry Meadows Farm (where Michelle's reception is going to be)!


1 lemon

4 large or 8 small skin-on, boneless chicken thighs (or cook longer for bone-in)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 teaspoons olive oil, divided

3 sprigs oregano (I used dried)

1 tablespoon minced shallot (or onion)

1/2 garlic clove, minced

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 cup dry white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc)

1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth (I used water)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Vegan Blueberry Banana Buckwheat Waffles

Lately I've been craving waffles.  I have a near Leslie Knope level of love for this tasty not-just-breakfast food,  thanks in part to my Aunt Leisa and my babysitter making them for me all the time growing up.  At my aunt's we always smashed ripe bananas and mixed it into the batter, something I continued to do at Duquesne Towers.  Here's a recipe inspired by an Your Daily Vegan's recipe with that incorporated. 

Vegan Blueberry Banana Buckwheat Waffles

Mine made 10 waffles
  • 2 or so bananas, ripe
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 2 cup non-dairy milk (I used almond)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 handfull of frozen blueberries

  • Smash up those ripe bananas and set aside.
  • Mix all the dry ingredients first, then add in the wet ingredients.

  • Cook the waffles per your waffle maker's directions.  JUST MAKE SURE YOU SPRAY THE IRON! Can't stress that enough.

  • I like mine to be nice and brown.
Simple enough - delcious waffles.  Make sure if you're going to freeze them you let them cool completely first. And in the words of Leslie...
"We need to remember what's important in life: friends, waffles, work. Or waffles, friends, work. Doesn't matter, but work is third."


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