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catch-up seven-up

13 Jun

Oh hi… I think I’m late to the party.

Let’s pretend I’m “fashionably late” instead of “two-weeks-gone-without-notice” and then I can make an awkward segue into a tag I just got for the “stylish blogger”. Along with a promise that I’ll, you know, pop in a bit more frequently (for some details on my prolonged absence, check the list-of-seven below!)

Thank you to the lovely Vivianne (isn’t that just the most beautiful name?!) for tagging me! :)

The rules of the Stylish Blogger award are as follows:
1. Share 7 things about yourself.
2. Tag some fellow bloggers.
3. Contact bloggers and let them know you tagged them.

In lieu of sharing 7 things about myself I’ll tell you 7 things about the last two weeks of my life that seem to have mysteriously disappeared.

1. Finals. I don’t have a picture to accompany this one because I was a little bit crazy trying to cram study in advance for all of them. I think I’ll just include a picture of one of my fuels-of-choice…

Not my fave flavor, but I mean, it’s still Kombucha!

2. Packing. I alluded to this earlier, but remember my desk? Eventually it became this…

And my bed? Became this…

And my name disappeared from the doorway as if I’d never been there.

I also enjoyed a last meal with my floormates in our dining hall… please excuse the quality!

This was a weird, overly sentimental transition for me. I’m not living in the dorms next year, though I will be living in campus housing of a different variety (more on that in number 3!). I definitely won’t miss having to make cookies in the dingy dorm kitchen though… here was my very last batch (made from a mix, because all my flour, etc., was packed away!)

While I’m excited about my living situation next year, I’m not going to have the same access to tons of different people at any time of day… it’s just a different chapter and I’m notoriously awful at letting things go (as much as I do long for variety!)

3. I visited my digs for next year! Here is my kitchen, most important thing, right?!

My school just built these new townhouses as an on-campus housing option. I’m not quite organized enough to figure out leases and houses and all that jazz, so this was perfect. I GET A KITCHEN. And…

a full sized bed! I have never had anything bigger than a twin! So that’ll be fun… lots of room to spread out. Or lots of space for pillows.

4. Finally came home last Wednesday after a whirlwind of a day… my last final, working for a storage company, checking out of my dorm room, and finding a ride to the airport. Then, of course, my flight was delayed 3 hours… which by the way is more than the amount of time I spent asleep the night prior to this excursion, and more than the plane ride actually takes!

It involved a lot of these crackers… they plied us with food, and I’m not capable of saying no to free food even if it’s processed junk. Sorry I’m not sorry ;)

5. The morning after I arrived (after sleeping a solid 11 hours… bliss!) the first thing I did was bake scones for my friends who were coming over later. I’m predictable, I know. I did try to branch out of the cookie-ness though… Does that count?

These were amazing. They were the pumpkin scones from Veganomicon… you can check parts of the book out here and get the recipe, but really you should just buy the entire book.

They were definitely softer than normal scones but they were so tender and pumpkin-y and the cranberries were PERFECT. Out of season? Perhaps. But that’s how I roll.

6. Gathering with my best friends!!! I didn’t take a picture of all of us, but we really mostly just chatted, ate entirely too many pita chips with hummus, and walked a few miles to Jamba Juice.

And made a delicious salad, featuring avocado & goat cheese & raspberries & balsamic vinegar.

7. Having some friends stay with me this weekend which involved the typical tourist-ing with a combination of home-friends and school-friends.

The school friends/guests

Pike Place is always where it’s at. Foodie post about Pike Place will be coming since I realized I took tons of pictures of the samples & crepes ;)

Also some gum-wall action…

Pretty Maya :)

And I got a blurry picture taken by my friend and felt the need to post it just so I don’t feel so bad about always posting pictures of everyone else. I’m clearly apprehensive about this photo-taking situation…

Cute.

Anyways, that’s what I’ve been up to! I also made some muffins and, well, cookies, and cake, and yeah. My oven’s getting a workout ;) Oh, and I went on one run but as I’m entertaining guests exercise isn’t my highest priority. We’ll see how that changes!

Sorry for the wordy-pictury-newsy-recipe-less post but I figured I’d do a little catch-up then get back to the usual. ;)

Oh and you are ALL tagged because I’m a little too lazy to tag people after that monstrously long post ;)

I realize I’ve asked this as a question a million times, but how is your life? Tell me what’s new! :

If you’re out of college, how did you transition from dorm to non-dorm life? Did you like living in a dorm? I loved the constant people but am excited to have a single where I can sleep whenever I please, and of course to have a kitchen… I suppose it’s just bittersweet, as are most things. :) 

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guest post! chocolate chip cookies & pumpkin bread from ‘meow or never’

19 May

So today I’m devoting myself to the books again… Well, I mean, kind of. My presence on Twitter begs to differ. At any rate, I’m handing the blog over to the lovely Katey & Sara… we’re pretty much the same people in different states (actually, I guess Sara and I run exact opposite schedules :) ). They’re sharing some of their delicious recipes with us today! And I’m pretty sure we need to hang out when I get back to Seattle… Just sayin’. :)

Hello! This is Katey and Sara, and we’re excited to be guest posting today! Just a little bit of background on us: We’re sophomores at the University of Washington who enjoy taking long walks, baking, and tanning (especially since the sun has finally come out!). We started our blog “Meow or Never” to document our adventures before Sara returns to California and are striving to fit everything in in these last 3 weeks. Some of our past outings have been going to Pike Place Market, Greenlake and Fremont, all of which typically center around food (we’re big fans of finding new cafes and having picnics). We also frequently start off our Sunday adventures with yoga and Starbucks, which make the perfect recipe for a great day, in our opinion. In order to fund our adventures, we’ve taken our talent for turning flour+sugar+eggs into deliciousness, selling batches of cookies/bars/breads to our friends or anyone in need of some baked goods. Today we want to share some of our favorite recipes.

The first is for our chocolate chip cookies, which are always a hit with customers.
• 2 sticks unsalted butter
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 1/4 cup granulated sugar
• 1 egg
• 2 1/2 tsp. vanilla
• 1 3/4 cups + 7 tbsp. of flour (we know, it’s strange)
• 3/4 tsp. baking powder
• 1/3 tsp. of baking soda (just eyeball this)
• generous 1/4 tsp. of salt
• however many chocolate chips you desire! (or any add-in of your choice! we have made this dough with M&Ms, and also did a white chocolate chip-macadamia nut recipe, both of which rocked)
-Preheat your oven to the temperature specified on your chocolate chip bag (we think we usually set ours at 350-375)
-In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars together. Then add the egg and vanilla and beat till very well blended.
-Mix together dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Gently add in half of the dry mixture into the wet, combine and add the second half. (If you are like us and lack bowls, counter space and patience, feel free to just add each dry ingredient directly into the butter&sugar. We promise they will still come out!) Just be careful not to overmix.
– Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a baking sheet and bake for 8-12 minutes depending on your oven (we recommend checking and timing your first batch). Remember to let the sheets stand for a few minutes after you take them from the oven so they don’t lose their shape.


One of our favorite flavors is pumpkin (we are slightly obsessed with the pumpkin spice latte during the holiday season) and if you are like us and need a pumpkin fix during the off-season, here is a wonderful recipe for pumpkin bread:
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 1 cup canned pumpkin
• 1/2 cup of oil
• 2 eggs
• 2 cups of flour
• 1 tsp. baking soda
• 1/2 tsp. of salt, nutmeg, cinnamon (each)
• 1/4 tsp. ginger
• 1/4 water
Optional: 1 cup of raisins & 1/2 cup chopped nuts (or pretty much whatever you want)
– Combine sugars, pumpkin, oil and eggs. Beat until well blended.
– Sift together flour, soda, salt, spices. Add to pumpkin mixture and mix well.
– Stir in water, and add-ins if desired.
– Spoon into well oiled 9x5x3 loaf pan
– Bake at 350 degrees for 65-75 minutes or until done when tested. Turn out on rack to cool.

We hope that everyone is having an awesome week and spring! And we urge you to try these recipes, enjoy them, and have some fun adventures of your own! We especially want to thank Nicole for letting us be a part of her adorable blog, she’s such a sweetheart and so great to work with!

back to december.

1 Feb

Yes, I’m a Taylor Swift fan. Judge me all you want… her lyrics aren’t necessarily profound, but those songs are so damn catchy!

Unfortunately, I have no experience dating Taylor Lautner and thus have no basis for writing about going “back to december” to relive such bliss (I can dream, though…) But these pumpkin-molasses crinkles, while they may lack Taylor’s abs, are a close second in my affections. And they were baked on a cold, dreary day in December…

As evidenced by the lights of the tree in the background. Actually, that tree is apparently still there. Clearly my house falls apart when I’m not around.

But truly, could you come up with a more brilliant idea than combining spicy molasses cookies with pumpkin? I can’t. And these little morsels were simple and divine, and were consumed within minutes of arriving at my best friend’s house. Her little sister is pretty much convinced I lace my baked goods with crack.

So THAT’S what the powdery stuff is…

(Of course I don’t! I mean, um… awkward.)

These are probably most comfortable nestled somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but out-of-season I’m sure they’ll taste just as good.

Putting away the tree, however, should have a deadline…

Pumpkin  Molasses Crinkles
from Behind the Skillet
Makes about 5-dozen itty bitty cookies

1/3 cup Flour
2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp Ginger
1/2 tsp All-Spice
1/2 tsp Ground Cloves
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
114 g (1/2 cup) Butter (room temp)
1 cup packed Dark Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Molasses
2/3 cup Pumpkin Puree
1 egg (room temp)
granulated or powdered sugar (or both)
mini chocolate chips (optional, though always a good idea…)

Sift together flour, baking soda, salt and spices in a medium bowl.

In a separate, larger bowl, cream together butter and sugar until creamy. Add in pumpkin and molasses and beat until thoroughly combined. Add in egg and beat, again, until combined. Stir in flour mixture until well-mixed into a relatively sticky dough; stir in chocolate chips if desired. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or up to overnight (so it’s easier to handle… You may have to refrigerate between batches as well!)

Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease 2 cookie sheets.

Put ~1/4 c. regular or powdered sugar in a small bowl. Form tablespoon-sized balls of dough and roll them in sugar of choice, then place on cookie sheet, leaving about an inch between each one. Bake for 8-12 minutes until just set to the touch.

Enjoy and reminisce about cozy days cuddled up by the fireplace with no homework or obligations.

(Or dream of Taylor Lautner… your call ;) )

Who’s your embarrassing celebrity crush? Or what’s your musical guilty pleasure? (I have too many to list…)

Pumpkin Bran Oat Muffins

5 Jan

I started this blog with the intention of telling you all about healthy recipes I was making.

And then the holidays happened.

To be sure, I haven’t gained any significant amount of weight from all the cookies… Nor have I been working out. Nor do I think there’s any cause for concern about all of this; I just wouldn’t want you to get the impression that all I eat are cookies!

I mean, sometimes I eat muffins too!

These muffins were an answer to my cravings for something healthier, but still carby and delicious. They’re definitely ‘healthy’ tasting, though my family rather enjoyed them. I mean, they’re fat-free and have bran in them, so of course they taste healthy. Straight out of the oven they’re kind of mushy, so much so that I’d consider lowering the amount of pumpkin next time. But if you let them cool properly, you’ll be left with a guilt-free treat filled with the spicy goodness of pumpkin pie and the health benefits of bran and oats.

I’m sure these would be delightful with chocolate chips. If that’s still healthy enough for you ;)

Pumpkin Bran-Oat Muffins
Adapted from here

¼ c. egg white substitute
2/3 c. sugar, Splenda, or sweetener of choice
1 ½ – 1 ¾ c. canned pumpkin (originally calls for one entire can, or 1 ¾ cup, but I used 1 ½ cups, and thought they were still a little too moist)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup nonfat milk
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup oats, ground to a flour
¼ cup wheat bran
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 12-serving muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray or line with paper baking cups and spray insides with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine pumpkin, eggs, splenda, vanilla, milk and stir well.

Sift in flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. Fill prepared muffin cups equally, sprinkle tops with extra cinnamon.

Bake 15-20 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

If you use Splenda, each of these has a measly 68 calories, 3.1 grams of fiber, and 3.4 grams of protein!
With sugar, they have 111 calories.

back to reality.

3 Jan

Break came and went in the blink of an eye, and the baking of over 500 cookies. No, I kid you not. There is not a hint of exaggeration in that number. I didn’t eat them all, at least. If that counts for anything.

But I digress. I boarded my plane yesterday, to fly from then-sunny Seattle to rainy-California. Out the window? This.

On the plus side, it is still a solid 20 degrees warmer here. So I can step outside without instantly freezing. :)

The last few days were a frenzy of last-minute baking, attempting to use up the open bags of chocolate chips and the butter and the sugar and all those things that will spoil over the probably six months that will elapse before I set foot at home again.

One of these last minute treats was supposed to be a pumpkin pie, for my grandmother who is visiting from Brazil. It may well be her last visit; she’s getting older, and her visits are fewer and farther between. Since she is so enamored of pumpkin pie, I wanted nothing more than to share a homemade one with her.

I had planned to make one for my classy-NYE-dinner party, but I only decided the event was occurring the night before it happened. And the pie needed to be made right then! And I had no pie crust. So I improvised.

And made pumpkin pecan pie squares. They really do taste like pumpkin pie, though the pecan-pie part is a little skimpy (so if you want more of a pecan-pie feel, double the topping, maybe toss in some flour for more of a streusel… get creative!)

My grandma loved them. Unfortunately, I think she still loves the dog more than me.

Not even pumpkin pie could win out over that one.

Pumpkin Pecan Pie Squares
From Very Best Baking
Makes 12 large squares, or 24 decently-sized ones.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned or instant oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 3/4 cup (one 15-oz can) canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix!)
1 can (12 fl. oz.) evaporated milk (I used fat-free, since that’s what we had)
2 large eggs
2 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup packed brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Combine flour, oats, brown sugar and butter in small mixer bowl. Beat at low speed for 1 to 2 minutes or until crumbly. Press on bottom of ungreased 13 x 9-inch baking pan (I actually used an 8×11, because that’s what I had… and the portions were still huge!)

Bake for 15 minutes.

Combine granulated sugar, pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs and pumpkin pie spice in large mixer bowl. Beat at medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes; pour over crust.

Bake for 20 minutes. Combine pecans and brown sugar in small bowl. Sprinkle pecan topping over filling. Continue baking for 15 to 25 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars. Top with whipped cream, if desired.

Enjoy!

Too Good to Photograph: Pumpkin Chocolate Cookies

9 Jul

It was a hopelessly predictable, typical situation. I was sitting at my best friend’s table shortly after “breakfast” at 11:30. She was reading the comics section followed by the political stories in the newspaper. Her athletic younger sister was poring over pictures of the World Cup and the Sports section. Feeling left out, I scoured through their cookbooks and pulled out this gem:

Yes. A giant book of chocolate. Made to look like a chocolate bar, with pictures of each and every recipe. I simply had to look at it; what kind of baking aficionado would pass that up? I spent a good hour turning the pages and wanting to make each and every delectable delight. Finally, I turned to my best friend’s sister (the owner of the book) and said, “Ryan, can I borrow it?” She agreed, on the condition that when they return from their road trip I am to have prepared something for them (which I probably would have done anyways, to be honest!). So home I went, book in hand, ready to bake up a storm.

I had some pumpkin left over in my fridge from making muffins, and though I’ve been putting it in my oatmeal, I was ready to use it up. I happened upon a lovely little recipe for pumpkin-chocolate cookies that didn’t even require eggs (we’re running low, alas!). Out came the ingredients and I quickly whipped them up .

This was another of my late-night baking endeavors; I usually bake at night in part because my mom doesn’t harass me about the mess I’m making, and because sometimes I just can’t sleep (of course, that’s why I end up sleeping all day, but shh!). Because of this, I have no natural lighting by which to photograph my goodies. I am also typically too tired to work with the crappy lighting in my kitchen by the time I’m done baking. Usually I snap a few for posterity and wait to take better ones the next morning. But this time, when I wandered downstairs in a pre-caffeine haze, I realized there simply were not any more cookies to photograph! My family managed to polish off the entire half-batch before 10 AM. Granted, the cookies are small and light, but still. It was the morning. Really?

If people didn't eat these so damn quickly, I might have a decent photo...

I did get a chance to try one though, and I thought they were wonderful. The orange zest (which I was tempted to omit) added a really sunny note that was different from most pumpkin cookies. They are decidedly cakey in texture, which I’m not always a huge fan of, but it works. I used mini-chocolate chips and thought that worked pretty well since they were fairly tiny. My half-batch made 20 cookies using a 1/2 tbsp measuring spoon as a scoop. These come together quickly and are good, so if you like pumpkin and chocolate have at them!

Chocolate Pumpkin Cookies
adapted from The Golden Book of Chocolate

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 c butter, softened
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c pumpkin puree
1/2 tbsp finely grated orange zest
1/2 c semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375.

Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the butter until it resembles fine crumbs (I used my hands for this, just crumbling up the butter in the dough). Stir in the sugar, pumpkin, and orange zest (dough will be somewhat thick; I thought it wouldn’t work at all, but it wound up being sticky, so have faith!). Stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop teaspoons of the dough 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. bake until golden, 8-10 minutes. Cool until cookies firm slightly, about 5 minutes. Enjoy!

If you get 40 cookies, each one has approximately 42.4 calories, 1.8 grams fat, 0.3 grams fiber, and 0.5 grams protein

Fall eating in summer “heat”: Pumpkin Ginger Muffins & Minestrone

7 Jul

Mmm... melty chocolate chips...

Summer has finally come to Seattle. For the past few weeks, my mother has continually told me tales of woe and overcast skies while I’ve been sunning myself in California. I was absolutely dreading coming back to the desolate gray that defines Seattle. Usually by the time July rolls around the sun has come out from hibernation adn makes a pretty good show of it, and honestly, there is nowhere more beautiful. This year, however, was an especially bad year; evidently we went from September to some time in mid-June without once hitting anywhere above 75.

Those days have finally come to an end! Of course it still isn’t much above 80, so it’s not exactly blazing, but I’ll take what I can get. All I want to do is sit outside. Oh, and bake in my lovely, well-lit kitchen. When my best friend and I were discussing what to bake, we ended up deciding on Pumpkin Ginger muffins. Not exactly typical summer fare, but delicious nonetheless. I had no nuts, so we added chocolate chips to half the batch, which really added an extra something (when does chocolate not add a little something?)

An arsenal of muffins filled with pumpkin-gingery goodness!

Pumpkin Ginger (Nut) Muffins
adapted from here

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup pumpkin purée
1/3 cup melted butter
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ground ginger

[1 cup chopped toasted walnuts or pecans]
2 Tbsp well chopped candied ginger (I would add more, but I love ginger, so…)
3/4 cup chocolate chips (or to taste, optional)

METHOD

1 Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium sized bowl, sift together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda.

2 Mix the pumpkin, melted butter, eggs, 1/4 cup of water, and spices together, then combine with the dry ingredients, until just incorporated. Do not over-mix. Fold in the candied ginger and chopped nuts.

3 Spoon mixture into a prepared muffin tin. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin. If it comes out clean, it’s done. Cool on a rack.

Makes 12 muffins.
Nutrition facts with chocolate chips but without crystallized ginger (I couldn’t find accurate information for it online): 237 calories, 9.4 g. fat, 37 g. carbs, 1.6 g. fiber, and 3.4 g. protein

For dinner, I made Quick Tuscan-Style Minestrone from The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen. Again, I made a few minor modifications (mostly just using macaroni noodles, because that’s what my mom bought, and reducing the olive oil) but it was absolutely delicious and a cinch to make.It’s a great cookbook! :) I’m not sure about all the legalities of sharing or not sharing the recipe, so for now I’ll tell you to get your hands on the book itself.

Simple, healthy, and delicious.

Accompanying this delicious, simple soup was my mom’s no-knead bread…. Apparently since I’ve started at school she’s taken to making it once a week, with varying levels of success.

Mom's No-knead Bread

Now time to go enjoy the sun while it lasts!