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comatose ovens & crunchy crackers.

23 Jun

Those of you who follow me on twitter may have seen me whining about my oven being, well, defunct. It is true. And you can only imagine my devastation.

My best friend chalked it up to an overuse injury. But I told her that the prolonged periods of rest followed by short spurts of activity were meant to be interval training! And besides, it wasn’t anything I baked that caused the problem… You see, my oven took up smoking, and you know, smoking kills…

My mom baked a little tray of Trader Joe’s cinnamon bun-things for a get-together the other day and for one reason or another it left some residue at the bottom of the oven. I went to preheat it the next day to bake some cookies & I realized that my oven was smoking.

The logical next step was to try to make my oven come clean. But the clean cycle sadly left my oven nonresponsive, in a coma, if you will. It’s still displaying a little red “FO” (maybe for “eff off?”) and a sadly incorrect time, and NONE of the buttons work.

Fortunately there is another oven in my life… my toaster oven.

Hooray for the convection bake setting!

So when my dad scoured through the pantry and found nothing with which to eat his hummus (we’re clearing the pantry/fridge for a 10-day vacation), I was still able to oblige with some socca crackers courtesy of the lovely Ashley.

Actually, I first made these last week with my real oven, but had to make a batch today to use up the hummus… difficult life I lead.

Mine were a little different as I’m kind of stingy with my raw buckwheat groats… So I just used 1/2 cup of chickpea flour, 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast, 1/2 cup of water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder and mixed it all up and sprinkled it with sea salt, then baked for awhile. Head to the real recipe here for better directions & pictures. :)

The recipe is delightfully simple and while mine aren’t as pretty as Ashley’s (but really, that’s damn near impossible) they were crispy and delicious and psuedo-cheesy. And I may or may not have licked up the batter. I have a thing for nooch. It’s a problem.

I was kind of curious about the nutritionals on these babies and found that if you make a half-batch with 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast (extra nooch = love), it’s about 150 calories and 13.6 grams of protein and 6.4 grams of fiber. Not too shabby! I’ll definitely be stocking some garbanzo flour in my kitchen next year. :)

Oh, and the hummus?

Mission accomplished. :)

What do you do when you’re trying to clear out your pantry, etc? 

Ever dealt with a broken oven? 

arts, sciences, & banana muffins

15 Jun

I’ve never considered myself to be all that creative. Sure, hand me some kind of problem and I’ll probably come up with some “out-of-the-box” solution (remember my “oven mitt”?). But set a canvas and some paints in front of me and I’ll agonize for years and possibly come up with some deep philosophical justification about the blankness of my soul as portrayed on the blank canvas rather than paint anything. Or I’ll put smiley faces and hearts.

Even photography, which I do enjoy, can be a struggle when I have to fabricate some sort of scene or idea. Candids? Sure. Staged artistic pieces? Not so much. I tend to like working with something that already exists rather than “creating from nothing.”

Enter baking. Combining some semi-scientifically-precise amount of fat, flour, & leavening to yield hopefully-delicious results. Certainly not all of my flavor combinations are unconventional or unique, but there’s still something decidedly gratifying about making up a recipe on a whim and having it work perfectly. Obviously the actual writing of recipes is not exactly creative in and of itself; there are only so many ways to write “bake at 350 until lightly golden”.

So when I was feeling an itch to get a little creative, I found my way into the kitchen and started grabbing things. Banana. Almond extract. Sliced almonds. Whatever I could find in my pantry. The result? Not a particularly outstandingly unique concoction, but decidedly delicious nonetheless, and the perfect marriage of art, science, & sugar. Just my kind of mixture.

Banana-Almond Muffins
Created by moi :)
Makes 6 muffins 

1 over-ripe banana
1/3 cup almond milk
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (more if desired)
3/4 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3-4 tablespoons sliced almond (divided)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a muffin tin (if using a 12-cup tin, put a little bit of water in the empty tins to prevent warping)

In a medium bowl, mash banana and combine with almond milk, oil, almond extract, and sugar. In a separate bowl sift together dry ingredients (except almonds). Make a well in the center and pour in wet ingredients; stir until just mixed. Gently stir in 2-3 tablespoons of sliced almonds. Divide batter between 6 muffin tins and top with remaining almonds.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until lightly golden on the edges and a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean.


What’s your favorite form of creativity? 

fearful cinnamon rolls

28 May

I’ve mentioned before that I’m kind of a fraidy-cat... remember my story about Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets?

Obviously I have other fears. Like zombies (my friend somehow talked me into watching The Crazies with him last night… not sure how I managed to sleep). Or my somewhat hypochondriacal fear of stress fractures in my shins (though it’s not a totally unfounded fear, nor did it prevent me from running 6.1 miles on the treadmill today… I’m a slowpoke but I was excited I could run for that long!).

My biggest kitchen fear? Yeast. It’s unpredictable. I usually have to go through two packets to get one to come out right. I’m always afraid it just won’t work.

Luckily Mama Pea is here to help… and thus I made cinnamon rolls.

Admittedly, these are from a few months ago. Admittedly, I wanted to post these either on my brother’s birthday or right after, because he is a cinnamon roll addict and I definitely made these for him. (I’m just kind of behind on… life).

Tell my teachers to stop assigning me papers and tests and then maybe I’ll do half the things I intend. (Aka… sorry for the prolonged silence, I’m alive, I promise! And summer is just around the corner and then you won’t be able to get rid of me).

In the meantime, let’s dream of comforting, carby cinnamon rolls sans fear and copious amounts of homework.

You can find the recipe here. Since my brother is a growing teenage boy I made them with half oil instead of the pumpkin (also because I wanted the pumpkin for myself, let’s be honest) but otherwise I made it by the brillliant recipe by Mama Pea. And they were good. I don’t even like cinnamon rolls and I liked them.

Tell me about your fears, culinary or otherwise. :) And your weekend plans for the long weekend! I’m sleeping. And trying to stay afloat in my last week and a half of school this year… IthinkIcanIthinkIcan!

mother’s-day muffins [cappuccino muffins]

8 May

It seems that most mother’s day gifts I’ve given are things that only a mother could love.

Only a mother could love the paint-spattered excuses for “artwork” I proudly handed to her in the first grade.

Only a mother could love being ordered to return to bed for “breakfast in bed” consisting of lightly-burned toast, yogurt, & cereal.

Only a mother could love mug after painted mug of uncreative, polka-dotted ceramics.

Only a mother could love the “gift” of my high school’s dangerously delicious Cappuccino muffins, conveniently charged to her credit card account.

But anyone could love my at-home replication of those muffins. I searched far and wide, and it took a variety of different recipes, but when I finally stumbled upon this gem in Vegan Brunch by Isa Moskovitz, I knew I’d found my winner.

Perhaps not the greatest sacrifice on my part, but it did take some work… And a few less-than-perfect muffins. ;)

Vegan Cappuccino-Chip Muffins
adapted slightly from Vegan Brunch; also found here

1c almond milk (or your fave non-dairy milk)
1 heaping tablespoon instant coffee crystals
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce (or more canola oil for a better “crust”)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease a muffin tin.
In a small cup, mix coffee granules with half of nondairy milk; add in the rest of the milk and the vinegar, and set aside to thicken.
In a small bowl, stir together dry ingredients. Make a well in the center and add in oil, applesauce, vanilla, and thickened milk. Stir together until just combined, taking care not to overmix, then gently fold in chocolate chips.
Fill muffin tins about 3/4 full and bake for 22-26 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in tins for a few minutes before removing and letting cool on a plate.

While I’m not actually at home to make my mom a special breakfast, I’m hoping that sharing her favorite recipe and sending some cyber-carbs will help fill the void until I’m home in a month (!).  I wish I could do more, as this seems like even more of a cop-out than usual.

Only my mother could put up with my incessant chatter, constant whining, the perpetually dirty kitchen & ever-dwindling supply of flour and sugar. Only my mother would make me breakfast in bed almost every day, & make my bed when I “forget” to. Only my mother thinks I’m the coolest thing since sliced bread so I should write a book/open a cookie shop (ah, delusions). Only my mother magically receives telepathic messages when I’m not feeling okay, and knows how to put a smile back on my face.

And most of all, only my mother loves me, hugs me, & listens to me when I need it most.

Love you, mom!

What are you doing for mother’s day? What about you could only your mother love/understand? 

salty [cornmeal cookies & roasted chickpeas!]

2 May

Oh, the joys of Urban Dictionary. I think I heard the term “salty” as meaning upset once about a month ago and had to investigate… Because otherwise I definitely just thought it referred to food.

Remember last month when I got to try some delicious mustard as part of the Foodzie Tasting Panel? This month I had a delightfully local treat: salt. Lemongrass & Basil Salt by Woody’s Gourmet, to be exact!

It was really cool to see that this product came from Campbell. As in, less than 20 minutes away from me. And while I’m definitely a sweet-toothed girl, I do love salty stuff too. This salt was amazing! It’s a Lemongrass & Basil flavor, though they sent me a couple smaller samples too that I forgot to photograph.

I wound up basically adding this to everything. On top of veggies. On my salads. On tofu. With nooch. With everything. I had about a million ideas of things to make (like socca crackers, perhaps?) with it and ran out of time to make some of them, but still wound up with two “recipes”. One sweet, one savory. ;)

Roasted Chickpeas for One

1/2 cup chickpeas
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
~1/4 teaspoon Woody’s Salt (or to taste)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and lightly grease a cookie sheet (or you can use aluminum foil!). Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss to coat. Spread evenly on sheet and sprinkle with extra salt if desired. Roast for 15 minutes, then remove, stir, and bake again until crispy.

Enjoy as a simple, healthful, flavorful snack!

And now the sweet… I couldn’t quite resist attempting to make some kind of cookie. These are certainly unconventional, but they’re not overly sweet and play on the sweet-and-salty taste. I rather enjoyed them! The edges were slightly crispy and the middles were nice and soft. Also, if you don’t have access to coconut oil, I’m pretty sure butter will work.

Salted Cornmeal-Cookies
Makes about 10 cookies, easily doubled! 

1/2 tablespoon ground flax, microwaved for a minute with 2 tablespoons water and whisked until gummy
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons oil
¼ cup white sugar
½ cup cornmeal
¼ cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon Woody’s Sea Salt, plus more to sprinkle

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a cookie sheet.

Microwave and whisk flax egg in a mug or small bowl, then let sit for a few minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together oils and sugar. Add in flax egg and mix well. Stir in dry ingredients until well combined; if it seems way too dry, add water by the tablespoon.

Drop by tablespoons onto cookie sheet and flatten with fingers, or the bottom of a cup. Sprinkle with extra salt. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.

Enjoy the cornbreaddy taste and the subtle hint of herbs!

What’s the weirdest flavored cookie you’ve ever eaten? These were kind of a stretch, but I liked them…

study snack: chai-chia oats

9 Apr

The word of the day today: unkempt.

oh hi… given the bags under my eyes I really cannot believe I’m posting this picture on the internet…

Let’s just say I have a million and one parts of the brain to memorize by Monday… And ironically, my brain doesn’t seem to want to function. I’m peeking out from behind my neuropsych textbook to show you the anatomy of a successful (well, kind of) study session.

Ordinarily, my dear friend coffee would make a prominent appearance. But I have given him up for a little while… We needed some space. Instead, I’m stayin’ hydrated!

With plain old water and also Hansen’s Fruit Drink Stix. I know it’s not the best thing in the world, but it’s better than diet soda, sweetened with stevia, and it makes my Mickey cup look even cooler.

I got this for free when I pre-ordered Tangled… You’re jealous, don’t lie.

Of course I’m also eating a ridiculous amount of carrots, because that’s what I do when I’m stressed.

Here’s the overall spread…

However, as much as I love carrots, they don’t tend to satisfy me for the long term. So I broke out my oatmeal bowl for something comforting that would keep me full for more than five minutes. I also decided to take this opportunity to try out something new: CHIA SEEDS! I realize these are usually used in overnight oats, but I wanted oats now. I’m a little instant gratification. I’m sorry.

I made this bowl of goodness with left-over chai tea instead of water, to make chai-chia oats (say that five times fast…)

Chai-Chia Oats

1/3 cup oats
dash of salt
dash of cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon chia seeds
~3/4 cup pre-brewed chai tea
1 packet stevia
1 scoop vanilla protein powder

Combine all ingredients except protein powder and microwave for about 1:45.  Stir and let sit for a few minutes, preferably covered. Add more water to thin as necessary. Microwave for about another minute, then stir in protein powder. Add peanut butter on top if you desire (I used my new bff, Peanut Butter & Co’s Cinnamon Raisin Swirl. Holy yum.) Voila! Delicious, spicy, healthy oats.

I liked the little bits of crunch the chia seeds provided as well as the added thickness… Definitely need to get on that overnight oats bandwagon in the near future.

Now that my belly is full I have no excuse… back to the books for me! (brainstem, brainstem!)

What are your favorite study snacks?

schoolhouse rock

31 Mar

Anybody ever watch that? That whole “conjunction junction” bit?

I actually didn’t. So sue me. Though the idea of memorizing things with music is really appealing to me… I tend to get things stuck in my head easily. Maybe Rebecca Black’s Friday can be considered a teaching tool as well, for four year olds learning the days of the week (because otherwise it definitely shouldn’t exist). But I digress…

The “rocking” schoolhouse I’m really talking about is Schoolhouse Kitchen. I was fortunate enough to be invited to join the Foodzie Tasting Panel by the lovely Jessica at Healthy Exposures (side note: I almost died I was so flattered). So every month, I get to try one item from the Foodzie box and try to come up with a recipe for it. This month? Schoolhouse Kitchen’s Horseradish Dill Mustard.

I love that Schoolhouse Kitchen is based on the notion of giving back. Proceeds go to education, specifically farm-based education programs. And the top of the jar is just too cute/wonderful for words.

The mustard itself was awesome. Tangy and sweet and just slightly spicy. I’m not a huge fan of mustard or dill but somehow I loved it. But what, you ask, did I make with it?

Well, seeing as it arrived today and our submissions are due tonight (silly me forgot to e-mail them my address in a timely fashion), I went with something quick and easy but still delicious: veggie burgers.

Black Bean Mustard Veggie Burger
Makes two patties

1/2 cup black beans
2 tablespoons Schoolhouse Kitchen Horseradish-Dill Mustard
1 egg white
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1 tablespoon flour
1/8 teaspoon salt (more to taste, depending on whether your black beans are salted)
1/4 cup diced veggies of choice (I used onions and bell peppers)
1/2-1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)
2-4 tablespoons breadcrumbs (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a baking sheet quite well.

In a small bowl, mash black beans very well. Add in mustard and continue mashing. Add egg white and stir until well mixed. Add in cornmeal, flour, salt, veggies, and nutritional yeast (if using). Stir together well (this will be a kind of goopy mess). If desired, add in breadcrumbs. If your mixture is far too liquidy (it should be pretty wet, but should kind of clump together pretty decently) then add another tablespoon of flour or cornmeal. Add more salt to taste.

Spoon mixture into two separate “patties” on baking sheet (as shown in photo above recipe). Bake for about 5 minutes, then remove and let set for 2 or so minutes. Flip patties over (they’ll be kind of delicate, so watch out) and bake for another 4-5 minutes or until relatively hardened.

Let cool and serve up on a bun of your choosing. I was unable to obtain lettuce and tomatoes, but I imagine that would be amazing.

Of course, you can also serve it up with some more mustard. Just to give it a little extra creamy kick.

As for me? I’m studying neuropsychology and I’ve never seen so many terms in my life… to the tune of “geniculostriate pathway” or “oligodendroglia” or “ventromedial system”.

Too bad there’s no song for that.

Did you actually do the whole Schoolhouse Rock thing? I was a Magic School Bus girl myself ;)