New Semester

I’ve started my 2nd semester of my program. I have more work, but somehow I’m not as stressed, stressed and I will be proposing my prospectus and hopefully getting to teach in the fall.

My Aunt Annie introduced me to these muffins and gave me the original recipe. I love them. Not too sweet, only whole wheat, and they contain veggies, fruit, and protein. One regular sized muffin will keep me going for a good 4 hours. I’ve tweaked it to my own preferences.

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Zen Morning Glory Muffins

1 c molasses

5 ½ c Whole Wheat Flour

2 T. Ground Cinnamon

2 T Ground Ginger

4 t. Baking Soda

2 t. Baking Powder

1 t. salt

1 ½ c Raisins/Cranberries

1 lb Peeled & Grated Carrots

2 cups dried Shredded Coconut, unsweetened

1 8 oz can crushed pineapple or 1 c. pineapple (frozen or fresh) blended til chunky

1-2 c nuts (I like raw pepitas/raw pumpkin and sunflower seeds)

1 ¼ cups Vegetable Oil

4 t. Vanilla Extract

1 Cup Almond/Soy/Traditional Milk (if you use almond or soy these are vegan)

6 T Ground Flax seed mixed with 1 Cup Water

If you are using a traditional blender rather than spice blender/coffee grinder to grind the flax seed add the water a little at a time until it reaches the same consistency as pudding then add all the water.

Just mix everything together and baked at 375 for about 20 minutes. If you want you can use cupcake liners if not just quickly spray each cup.

370 degrees F, 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

I frequently only make a half recipe (full recipe is ~ 50 muffins) and freeze the half of the pineapple. You can also freeze the muffins. If you want them first thing in the morning 30 sec in the microwave, depending on the strength of your microwave, and they are ready. I prefer to eat mine midday, and I’ve found that I can carry it around in my satchel and it will defrost to the perfect temperature.



So I’m in the midst of finals and I decided to participate in the cookie swap. So far its been really great because now I have really amazing cookies to nibble on while studying for my exams. In prep for finals and for the cookie swap, I made a batch of one of my favorite cookies, Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk. This recipe is an altered version of Mark Bittman’s Oatmeal Cookies from How To Cook Everything.

My tins all full!

My tins all full!

Closed up and ready to be mailed out!

Closed up and ready to be mailed!

Somehow these cookies are so comforting to me. I didn’t eat much oatmeal nor peanut butter, except in Ants on a Log, growing up. Yet some how these are so soft, fluffy, and just little bites of  amazing. I’m surprised at myself for wanting to use the word rustic, I feel like it’s so over used in cooking it’s almost trite. Might be partially because the chocolate peanut butter combo is one of if not my favorite, I think Chocolate Mint comes in there somewhere too. Enough waxing poetic, onto the recipe.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

1/2 stick of butter softened

Healthy 1/2 c of peanut butter (prefer natural crunchy peanut butter)

1/2 c white sugar

1/2 c brown sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour

2 c oatmeal (not instant)

3/4 t cinnamon

dash of salt

2 t baking powder

1/2 c milk

1/2 t vanilla

1 1/2 c chocolate chunks

Cream butter, both sugars, and peanut butter. Add the eggs one at a time. Mix in flour, oats, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder. Stir in the chocolate chunks and vanilla, don’t use the mixer because you might turn the chocolate into tiny little flakes rather than nice big chunks. Slowly add in the milk, you probably won’t need all of it. Just enough to make the dough sticky.  Now for the crazy, yet vital part of this recipe. Cover the cookie dough and put it in the fridge over night. Its amazing what an improvement this small step makes.

So the next day, take the cookie dough out and let it sit until it’s almost room temp. Don’t worry about the eggs, they’ll be fine. If the dough is too cold they might cook unevenly. Pre-heat the oven to 375 and spoon the cookies onto a greased cookie sheet. Keep the cookies on the small side. Finally bake for 12-15 min, but check after about 10 minutes. With all that peanut butter they can burn easily. These cookies won’t really brown on the top, but you’ll see that beautiful golden color forming around the edges.

Let them cool on the sheet for a couple of minutes then scoot them over to a cooling rack. One of the best things about these cookies is they are great both right out of the oven and amazing days later.

One recipe makes 4-5 dozen cookies.

Left overs for the boyfriend and friends!

Left overs for the boyfriend and friends!

I’m looking forward to seeing everyone else’s recipes and trying them out! Hopefully I’ll have time to try them over my Holiday Break!

Until Later, Life is short, lick the spoon!

The End of Thanksgiving & Beginning of Cookie Season

Thanksgiving is THE big holiday in my family. We are all about getting together cooking, eating too much, and having a few drinks together. Sadly my brother wasn’t able to make it home for the holiday. Something about having too much school work and being responsible. I would post a thanksgiving recipe, but I think my mother would skin me alive if I let it out of the family.

So I will skip the turkey, roasted brussel sprouts, and multiple pies, even with my deep and abiding love of pie. Pie totally kicks Cake’s butt almost any day of the week. Though this post is talking about cookies. I like baking cookies. They are usually pretty easy and make so many. I make big batches and give some away to my boyfriend, friends, and the leftovers end up in the graduate lounge. My family makes certain cookies only for Christmas, so they are almost as important as the Thanksgiving recipes. Since we have these special recipes I’ve begun to develop my own favorite cookie recipes, but I’m not posting any cookie recipes today.

I am again participating in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. This is the 2nd annual cookie swap. Last year I was lucky enough to get cookies from A Half Baked Life and Life’s a Batch. I’m looking forward to sending my cookies out to new blogger friends! I’ll be posting my recipe on December 12th. I’m determine to get the cookies sent out, post my recipe on time, and survive my first semester of grad school finals!

Back to work on papers and take home exams.

Until later, life is short, lick the spoon!

Do you know the muffin man?

Over the past couple years, I’ve started eating bananas. Healthy, cheap, easy, and full of energy. I couldn’t get into the texture and somehow it seemed too sweet. That being said I’ve gotten into bananas, to the extent I eat them almost everyday before the gym. Some days I plan to go to the gym and end up not going because something has changed or I realized I lost track of something. Which means that probably once a month at the end of the week I have an unhappy banana or two or three. These poor unhappy bananas get turned into banana bread or banana nut muffins. I love turning the banana bread into banana bread french toast, and my boyfriend will eat the muffins like they are candy, and with this much sugar they nearly are!

A dozen muffins!

I can’t take credit for the recipe, its been in my family in some variation or another for year. It’s so simple even with my couple additions/variations.

3 overly ripe bananas

1 stick of softened butter

1 c sugar

2 eggs

2 c all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 c chopped nuts – walnuts (mom’s favorite) or pecans (my preference) (optional)

Splash of vanilla (optional)

1/8-1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)

Preheat oven to 325.

Mix bananas, softened butter, and sugar until its combined. Add eggs. Stir in cinnamon and vanilla if you want it. Mix in flour, salt, and baking powder. Make sure you get everything incorporated together. Finally add in the nuts if you want them.

Now there is the choice of turning this lovely batter into muffins or bread. I usually choose muffins because they tend to last longer and I can easily take them into school as one of my many snacks. Either way spray your muffin tins or bread pan with pam or cooking oil, so it doesn’t stick. If you use cupcake liners for your muffins, you don’t need to spray the pan.

Bread pans are good because you can be lazy and just dump the batter in the pan, but if you have a muffin tin there is one more step. Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to spoon the batter into the muffin tins. This makes your muffins equally size and helps them to cook evenly.

Now bake for 40-45 minutes if you are making muffins or for 1 hour if making the bread. Check by sticking a butter knife or toothpick in the middle and if it comes out clean and they are golden brown on top, they’re ready.

Final trick, when you pull it out and are letting things cool tip them on their side. This will also help everything not stick to the bottom of the pan.

Until later

Life is short, lick the spoon!

Here’s to NOT giving myself Botulism!

This is an old recipe and an old adventure.

I just got back from a 5 week adventure in New England and started a masters program in Clinical Psychology, so what do I do with my first weekend? Get ahead on readings? Sleep in? Go hiking? Work on my thesis? Nope, I decide to can my own tomato sauce. I’ve learned this can be dangerous because tomatoes don’t have a high enough Ph to stop Botulism, and I don’t have a pressure canner.

It was a messy tiring process, but look at the results

Ready for the winter!

25 lbs of good quality tomatoes (I got mine at the farmers market) – the uglier heirloom varieties are amazing!

3 c chopped onions

7 medium cloves of garlic – chopped

3 bay leaves

8 stems of fresh oregano, chopped

1 rind of Parmesan cheese

1/4 c olive oil

A bit bottle of lemon juice

Canning jars & new lids – I used pint jars because it will mostly just be me and maybe the boyfriend eating the sauce. You could also use quarts.

Prepare the jars and lids just as I did in making the Strawberry Lemon Ginger Jam.

I split and roasted about half of the tomatoes in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt & pepper at 250 for 10-12 hrs. I realize this may seem like a long time, but it really intensifies the flavors and almost sweetens them a bit. You don’t have to do this, but I had time and indulged.

For the tomatoes you don’t roast, wash them and then score and blanch them. To score them just slice a small x on the bottom of the tomato. You only want to slice though the skin, not into the flesh of the tomato. Toss the tomatoes into a pot of boiling water for about 30 seconds then into an ice bath. This will allow the skins to slide off like water off a penguin.

You need to skin ALL the tomatoes, roasted ones too. The skin should slide pretty easily off the roasted tomatoes. Some people take the time to discard the seeds while chopping the tomatoes, but I didn’t worry about it. Also supposedly the seeds contain most of the flavor and some of the thickening agent for the sauce.

Start onions and garlic sauteing in the olive oil in the biggest pot you have. When the onions start to become translucent, add all the tomatoes.  Put in all the bay leaves, oregano, and the Parmesan rind. Simmer this for at least 20 min and up to 2 hours. Make sure you stir regularly because this can burn easily.

While the sauce is cooking you’ll prepare your jars that have been boiled and are air drying by adding 1 T of lemon juice. If you are making quarts use 2 T of lemon juice. Don’t skip this step! This is what helps you not get botulism.

When the sauce is as thick as you want, taste and finish with salt and pepper. I under seasoned mine a bit because I already had salted and peppered my roasted tomatoes and I wasn’t sure if/how the taste would change over time sitting in my pantry. If you can, fish out the Parmesan rind and the bay leaves.

Carefully ladle the sauce into the jars with lemon juice. Wipe the rims with a damp paper towel, giving each rim a clean side. Press on the new lids and screw down the rims, but make sure to leave them loose enough that you can open them. Return the full jars to the canner filled with boiling water. Boil the jars for about 20 min. Afterwards pull them out and make sure the jars sealed by checking the dimple in middle of the lid.

Keep the tomato sauce in a cool dark cupboard or pantry until you need it.

I love having mushrooms and all sorts of things in my tomato sauce, but you can’t add those to the canned version if don’t have a pressure canner. You have to keep the acidity high without the heat and pressure to kill the bacteria.

Until later

life is short, lick the spoon!

I wish I had more time…

I wish I felt like I had time to blog more often.  I suppose I should just make it a priority like going to the gym, but as per usual life has gotten in the way. No excuses now that the semester is over. Overall this has meant less planned cooking and more ” AH, its 5 pm what is in the freezer?” Well this time it was simple, fast, and healthy. How many times do you pull something out of the freezer and come up with that combination?

Just ready for the snacking!

1 lb frozen edamame, in shell

3 cloves of garlic, diced

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp oil (I used olive oil, but any kind is fine)

1/4 tsp dried chili flakes

1 lemon or lime

Boil the edamame in salted water, just like with pasta, for around 3-4 minutes. By now the edamame should be bright green. While the edamame are boiling heat a wok or skillet on medium heat and add the oil, garlic, and chili flakes.  The spiced should be fragrant, but watch that the garlic doesn’t burn. Toss the edamame in the wok for about 1 minute. Squeeze some fresh lemon or lime juice over the edamame and serve.

You eat the edamame by putting the pod in your mother and sucking/teething the beans out, so you get the spicy sour on the pod with the richness of the bean. Just don’t get forget and eat the pod because it’s so tasty.

I’m going to try to post more before I travel to New England for a month!  Next goal? Biscuits with whole wheat flour, will they be hard like rocks? Lets hope not!

Until later, life is short, lick the spoon!

Breakfast is tasty all the time

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! I took some time off from my research work went hiking, spent time with friends and family, and made way too many holiday cookies and sweets. I was lucky enough to have some lovely friends and family who desperately needed cookies, so I wasn’t completely overwhelmed by sweets.  I also gave some of my strawberry lemon ginger jam, Peach ginger brandy jam, and Indian peach chutney as holiday gifts. I’m going to have to make more of that Strawberry Lemon Ginger jam this spring. I eat it many days for my breakfast.

I love breakfast! It’s an underrated meal that can easily be made as healthy, fresh fruit with yogurt, or unhealthy, covering everything with Hollandaise sauce,  as you want. With as busy as I am, I rarely get to cook an actual good breakfast. Usually I eat yogurt or fruit or occasionally cold oatmeal, but I enjoy cooking sticky buns from scratch, Quiche, or pancakes…

Now every summer I go camping with my family and my Uncle Pete is the king of pancake-making with his own special recipe that he has developed over years. It’s always one of the treats to waking up and eating fresh pancakes with local maple syrup on the deck and watching the boats. So every once in a while I get a hankering for pancakes and attempt my own. They rarely turn out as well, but they fulfill my craving and remind me to look forward to pancakes next summer. So this time I made pancakes for dinner and dressed them up with bananas and pecans.

Look at those Bananas

Whole Wheat Banana Nut Pancakes (based on the Buttermilk Pancakes from the Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer)

  • 3/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 c whole wheat flour
  • 3 T white sugar
  • 1 1/2 T baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1 1/2 c buttermilk or soured milk (just add some vinegar or lemon juice to the milk to sour it up a bit, don’t worry if it gets a bit clumpy)
  • 3 T melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • A healthy shake of cinnamon (1/4-1/2 t)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)
  • 1/2 c nuts – chose your favorite
  • 2 large bananas peeled and sliced into 1/4-1/3 in rounds
  • Extra butter or neutral oil for cooking

Mix dry ingredients, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, in large bowl. Start skillet heating on medium-low and add a little oil or butter to grease the bottom of the skillet. Add the wet ingredients, milk, butter, eggs, and vanilla. Stir gently and leave lumps. I realize this sounds counter intuitive, but otherwise you’ll over mix it and the pancakes will be flat and rubbery. You can add the nuts to the batter now or wait to sprinkle on while cooking in case someone doesn’t want nuts. Don’t leave the batter sitting around use a 1/4 or 1/3 cup as a scoop to plop the batter into the hot pan. Quickly place the banana slices and nuts, if you didn’t add them before, on top of the gooey batter and gently press them in. Depending on how many banana slices you use there may or may not be bubbles in the cooking pancakes. If there are bubbles flip the pancakes when the bubbles begin to pop if not you’ll just have to peak under to see when the bottom has begun to brown. After you’ve flipped them you’ll just have to peek under to see if the bottom is browned. It will only take a couple of minutes. Then pull them out of the pan and enjoy with syrup, peanut butter, or maybe powdered cinnamon sugar.

Almost ready!

A couple random notes:

This recipe makes 12-15 pancakes with a 4-5 inch diameter, so I frequently halve the recipe.

Also if you are making these for a group keep them warm by covering with a bowl or placing them in a warm oven.

Remember you’ll probably have to grease the pan after either every pancake or every other pancake.

Until later life is short, lick the spoon.