Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Holiday Cookies: Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

I made these cookies for the first time just this past weekend for a holiday party. The look all crunchy,  but don't you worry...these cookies resemble mini brownies. They have a slightly crispy outer shell and a perfectly soft inside (much like my personality hahahaha...not).

Okay, bad joke aside though, these cookies are pretty good. Plus, they look like snowy mountains, which as we all know is perfectly winter holiday appropriate. So if you live in a nice, warm, sunny city--I hate you (jk I love you all), but what that means is make these cookies stat. Heck, make them if you live in a cold city with tons of snow, or if you're like me and live in the mountains with NO snow. Just make them. I haven't worked on healthifying the recipe too much quite yet, but I will tell you there is no butter, and very little oil in this here recipe. Now if I could work on that sugar part...stevia maybe? If anyone tries it, let me know.

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies: (Recipe adapted from
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips + 2 tablespoons milk (I used almond milk) warmed in the microwave for 30 seconds and mixed until melted and smooth
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs  
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract  
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar (to roll the dough in)

  • With a hand mixer, mix the sugars, vanilla extract and eggs until thicker and lighter in color.
  • Add the melted chocolate and oil and mix
  • With a wooden spoon or rubber spatula scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix in the cocoa powder.
  • Sift together, flour, baking powder and salt and add that to the mixture. Mix with the spoon or spatula until combined.
  • Cover the bowl and dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or until hard enough to scoop without it being sticky.

When dough is ready:

  • Preheat oven to 350 F or 175 C
  • Grease a cookie sheet with some vegetable oil.
  • Scoop and roll dough into 1- 1 ½ inch balls. Roll ball in powdered sugar and place on cookie sheet.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes (Mine were done after 9 minutes, it’s okay if they’re a little soft, they will harden up when they cool)
  • After they cool for about 3-4 minutes, press a hershey’s kiss into the center. Because the cookie is still hot, they will start to melt a little bit from the bottom… place cookies onto the cooling rack and place them in the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes until Hershey kisses harden again. Take cookies out and bring them back to room temp.  

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Autumn Harvest Butternut Squash Soup

Call it what you like... Autumn, Fall, that time of the year when the leaves get crunchy enough to stop on (or don't  depending on where you live), pumpkin spice latte matter WHAT you call this season... it's the perfect time for soup. And not just any soup...a soup that speaks to the season itself, to the harvest that it provides, and to the sweet and slightly spiced coolness that the air holds. 

This soup is relatively easy. It takes a bit of chopping and a tiny bit of sautéing, but the rest kinda cooks itself. Sorry I don't have many pictures; I decided after the fact that I was going to post it.

The soup itself is PLENTY creamy once blended, that I didn't feel the need to add any sort of cream. But if you decide you want some added richness, 1/4 of a cup canned coconut milk will pair perfectly with this soup. The great thing about this recipe is that a lot of it depends on your own personal taste, especially when it comes to the spices, so taste lots and adjust as you see fit. I adapted the recipe from here. Please leave me some love and let me know what you think if you try the recipe!  


  •     4 pounds whole butternut squash (about 2 medium), halved lengthwise and seeds    removed (I used one very large butternut squash
  •     4-5 medium carrots
  •    1 Tbsp coconut oil
  •   1 medium Granny Smith apple peeled (I used a golden crisp apple…)
  •   1 small or ¾ a medium yellow onion
  •  1 Tbsp dried marjoram
  •   6 cups low-sodium vegetable, chicken, or beef broth
  •  Salt to taste
  •  Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  •  ¼-1/2 tsp nutmeg (start small and add more as needed)
  •  Dash of cayenne pepper
  •  Dash of chili powder
  •   Drizzle of olive oil
  •   ½-1 tsp ground cinnamon (start small and add more to until happy with flavor)
  •  1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds or dried cranberries for garnish (optional)
  •   ¼ cup coconut milk (optional)

  • Cut tops off of butternut squash, cut in half, take seeds out, drizzle with tiny bit of olive oil, season with salt, some chili powder, and freshly cracked black pepper. Roast in the oven at 375 F until fully tender.
  • While squash is roasting, dice onions and apples, and slice carrots into disks. Heat a large nonstick pot and add 1 tbsp coconut oil. Add onions and apples, sauté until slightly soft and browning. Add carrots, sauté for another 4-5 min.
  • Add all broth and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low once it boils, cover, and let simmer until carrots and apples are completely cooked and soft.
  • When carrots and apples are soft add the fully cooked butternut squash (scooped out of it’s skin)
  • Add nutmeg, cinnamon, marjoram, freshly cracked pepper, dash of cayenne, dash of chili powder.
  • Puree entire mixture in batches in a blender.
  • Taste and adjust spices and salt as necessary.
  • Optional: Mix in coconut milk (or cream) to make richer. I found it perfect without it, and had some plain yogurt on the side.
  • Optional: When serving, garnish with dried cranberries and roasted pumpkin seeds.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Good ol' Blueberry Muffins (These are perfect)

Yes, it's been eons since I last posted. Things got crazy. The first year of this PhD program happened. It  seriously happened. (YAY!) Now don't get too excited... it's not quite over... I've got until the end of the summer before I can officially put a seal on year one, but it's as over as in no classes this summer at least. For some reason however...I still have trouble finding the time (and gathering the patience) to work as well as I want on my research--or my cooking/baking. This makes me sad. Just know that it makes me sad.

Tonight however, I made the best gosh darn blueberry muffins I have EVA made. I adapted the recipe from a blog written by what seems to be a wonderful woman with great talent! Her name is Chelsea and her blog is called "Making Home Base". I'll include the link to the original recipe below. 

I'm not one to brag about the moist-ness of baked goods. Partly (mostly) because I hate the word moist. But my word hatred aside... these are HELLA moist. All thanks to the greatness that is plain yogurt, and the wonderfulness that is science and all that jazz. 

Good ol' Blueberry Muffins
Adapted from Making Home Base

Ingredients for Muffins
**This recipe can easily be made vegan by using a coconut milk based yogurt (or just adding an extra 1/4 cup of the non-dairy milk + tsp of apple cider vinegar and eliminating the yogurt), substituting a flax egg for the egg, and using solidified coconut oil in place of the butter used in the topping. 
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar (feel free to substitute your sweetener of choice, but adjust amount accordingly)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup melted extra virgin coconut oil (feel free to use canola oil here)
  • 1/3 cup "homemade buttermilk" (1/3 cup of ANY milk. I used Almond Breeze's unsweetened coconut almond milk + 1 tsp apple cider (or white) vinegar--allow this to rest for about 5 min before pouring it into the wet ingredients)
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp plain yogurt (I would suggest NOT to use nonfat--but doing so won't necessarily mess things up.
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (I used fresh ones that I had frozen myself)
Ingredients for Topping
  • 1/4 cup butter softened
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Pre-heat oven to 400 F
  • Sift together the dry ingredients in a large bowl (First 5 ingredients)
  • In a separate smaller bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar, and vanilla extract
  • While continuously mixing add the oil, milk, and yogurt
  • Before adding the wet ingredients to the dry ones, go ahead and make the topping by just combining the ingredients for it with a fork. It should look crumbly. Set aside
  • Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and combine. Don't over-mix
  • Fold in the blueberries (batter will be relatively thick, just make sure you disperse the blueberries across the whole batter)
  • Spray a cupcake tray with non-stick spray and place about 1/4 cup batter in each space. Generously top each with the topping. Makes about 10-11 muffins. 
  • Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes--keeping an eye out during those last 5 minutes that it doesn't over-brown. Remove from the oven when tops are browned and toothpick inserted in the center of a few of them comes out clean. 
  • Cool in pan for 5 minutes before placing them on a rack to cool completely. (Or if you're like me you'll burn your tongue trying to eat one 2 sec after it came out of the big deal.) 
I apologize for horrible pictures... 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Chocolate and Butterscotch Chip Oatmeal Banana Cookies

Hello all!

Yes, it has been a million years (only a couple months) since I've posted anything. I apologize. Profusely. I moved from sunny San Diego, CA to beautiful rural Blacksburg, Virginia. I miss San Diego, the ocean, and the knowledge that there are more sunny and warm days in the year than there are cloudy and cold days...but life must go on.

Sunset Cliffs - San Diego, CA (07/2012)

Just after a thunderstorm - Blacksburg, VA (09/2012)

And it has! It took me a bit to get situated here, and now that I'm situated, school has consumed me completely. Please don't be angry with me. Send me a message or comment every so often so I know that I'm in your thoughts and I promise it will motivate me to come and post. I've started a PhD degree in Clinical Psychology and Science at Virginia Tech and it's been a great experience thus far. I have pretty close to zero time to relax, but the pace is refreshing and because I like what I'm learning/doing it hasn't been so bad. Lets hope none of that changes.

For now, here is the cookie recipe I promised so long ago!

Chocolate and Butterscotch Chip Oatmeal Banana Cookies


· 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
· 1 cup sugar
· 1 teaspoon salt
· 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
· 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
· 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
· 1/2 cup oil + 2 tbsp
· 1 egg (or 1 tbsp ground flax mixed with 3 tablespoons water left to sit for 5 min)
· 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar) (if you use flax in place egg)
· 1 tspn vanilla extract
· 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2)
· 1/3 cup + 2 tbsp peanut butter
· 1 cup rolled oats
· 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
· 1/3 cup chopped butterscotch chips (leave out to keep vegan)

·In a bowl, combine the first six ingredients; add oil and mix until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add egg (or flax egg), vinegar (if using flax egg), vanilla, bananas, peanut butter and oats; mix well. Stir in   chips.
·Drop by tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 375° for 13-15 minutes or until bottom is golden brown and top is slightly browning. Cool on wire racks. Yield: 2 dozen.

I love these cookies with a cold glass of coconut milk. ALSO I found that the brand Almond Breeze has a combined coconut AND almond milk and is AWESOME. I've included the link for the unsweetened version, although sweetened versions exist as well. Hugs all!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Coming Tomorrow!

Just a quick note to let everyone know that I will be posting my Chocolate chip, butterscotch chip, oatmeal, banana cookies tomorrow. Yay!

Hope you love them. Check back tomorrow!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Vegan Baking...WHY?

Hey all,

So yes, I haven't posted in a LONG time. I know. Don't hate me.

It's been a crazy month and a half. Lots of data collection for my thesis (which I now need to analyze mad-style), a lot of visits from wonderful friends and family, and packing for  our move to Virginia. It's been stressful, wonderful, and definitely a learning experience, but I miss blogging, and I miss cooking/baking new things for you guys. This post isn't so much a recipe, but rather a commentary. The recipe will come a little later when things calm down a bit.

I made oatmeal chocolate chip peanut butter banana cookies. Yes, that is a mouthful...of goodness! I was invited to a housewarming party this evening and earlier today I found myself with overripe bananas and not much time. Initially I thought banana bread, but the recipe I love takes over an hour to bake. My next thought was banana oatmeal cookies. I found a recipe that looked good and might be easy to adapt (aka add some peanut butter, etc). And then I realized...crap. I have no eggs, no butter, and not as much oatmeal as I needed.

Improv is a huge part of baking at the spur of the moment. I have a few friends that are Vegan, or gluten free, or have allergies, etc and their diet restrictions have taught me to adapt my cooking/baking and gain the knowledge necessary to do so. One might initially think ew, how the heck can a cookie without eggs, or butter taste good at all? Well it can, with a few easy adaptations. The internet is a GREAT source for picking up this knowledge. So in place of the butter, I used 3/4 of the quantity of butter, in oil and added it in the same order as I would normally add butter. In place of 1 egg, I mixed one tablespoon of ground flax seeds (a great source of plant-based omega-3), and three tablespoons of water and left it for a few minutes until it became gelatinous. Eggs are typically used as a binding agent to help keep things together and they're important in baking cakes and cookies because they lead to softer texture rather than the chewy texture of bread for example.

I also added a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar (white vinegar would work as well) because without the addition of a real egg, I didn't want my cookies to lack moistness and leavening. In Vegan baking many times, you'll see the addition of a teaspoon to a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, and moistness is one of the main reasons (also added to non-dairy milk as a replacement for buttermilk). Think back to the volcano experiment a lot of us did in elementary school. Vinegar, mixed with baking soda equals explosive bubbling. Baking and cooking are both VERY related to chemistry in the way that what you end up with is a product of a bunch of reactions with the addition of good flavors. Embrace the science and use it to adapt! The recipe already called for baking soda, so the addition of vinegar reacts with the baking soda to create the bit of rise that the cookies needed as well.

So there you have it. This improvisation in baking/cooking is what makes learning and understanding vegan baking (and any other specialty type of baking) necessary. Plus you can accommodate friends/family with lactose intolerance, allergies, food restrictions, etc, and that just makes you that much cooler. 

All in all, the cookies turned out amazing. The batch I made is GONE, which is why I don't have pictures/recipe for today (which also means they were good?). But I promise they will be up soon. Promise promise.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

White Peach, Blueberry, Blackberry Pie

Hey all,

Definitely long time no blogging. My thesis is slowly consuming me and I'm sitting here wondering whether I'll have the time to finish everything before I move to Virginia to start my PhD program. I'll finish though, because I have to (and want to, and kinda really need to...haha). So this post is actually the first of a two part post. It's the beginning of something crazy--like chocolate croissants... those are pretty crazy...good. *Disclaimer* No I don't just sit here stuffing my face with pastries, and you shouldn't either. Definitely not good for you. Although if something ever came out that made eating pastries all day a no problem kind of thing, I may in fact move in that direction. Hah.

So the first part of this *insane* endeavor is a pie. Any pie really. I made a white peach, blueberry, blackberry pie and you should too. Mind you this pie would be awesome serving it's purpose as just a pie, but it CAN be something greater. You'll just have to wait and see. I got the recipe for the pie crust and the initial pie idea from Joy the Baker. Joy is a fabulous baker (and seemingly wonderful cook), and her writing style is AMAZING. Her posts are super fun to read. I followed the crust recipe exactly, but changed up the filling a little bit. Making a pie crust may seem like a daunting task, but it's seriously the simplest bready-like thing I've ever made. You could also just get a store bought pie crust but I'm telling you, this crust is something else.

White Peach, Blueberry, Blackberry Pie

Crust Ingredients:
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter COLD and cut into cubes
  • 5 Tbsp + 2 tsp ice cold water
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar (white vinegar should work as well) 
Crust Directions: 
  • Sift together flour, sugar and salt
  • Add cold butter to the dry mixture and incorporate butter into flour with your hands. You should end up with peas and oatmeal sized bits when you're done. (See Joy's page for a picture of this). Do this as quickly as possible. 
  • Mix water and vinegar in a cup 
  • Make a well in the center of the flour/butter mixture and pour the water and vinegar into the well. 
  • Bring dough together with a fork. When slightly combined and kind of moistened, turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead LIGHTLY with your hands until all combined. 
  • Separate dough into two pieces and form two disks. 
  • Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour
While your crust is chillin' in the fridge (literally), get started on the filling!

Pie Filling Ingredients:
  • 4 medium white peaches (I'm guessing you can substitute any type of peach here) 
  • 3/4 cup (6 oz) fresh blueberries
  • 3/4 cup (6 oz) fresh blackberries
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon 
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground coriander (you COULD eliminate this if you wanted)
  • 3 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp corn starch
  • 1 egg beaten to be used as egg wash for the top of the pie
  • 2 Tbsp sugar + 1/2 tsp cinnamon for the top of the pie (you will use less than this more than likely)

Pie Filling Directions: 
  • Pit and slice peaches (leave skin on)
  • In a large bowl, throw in peaches, blueberries and blackberries
  • Add lemon juice to fruit
  • In a separate smaller bowl, whisk together the sugar, spices, flour, and corn starch
  • Add spice mixture to the fruit and mix to combine. Make sure fruit is covered pretty evenly.
  • Set aside 

Putting the Pie Together:
  • Set your oven to 400 F
  • Take one disk of dough and place it on a lightly floured surface.
  • Flour your rolling pin and roll out the dough into a circle about 13-14 inches round. ( this will take some effort; rolling, folding edges, turning dough clock-wise or counter-clockwise with every few rolls). Don't OVERWORK the dough. The butter will warm and you don't want that. Also, remember, the circle will not be perfect--baking is not perfect haha. 
  • After you're done rolling the dough out, spray a 9 inch pie dish with nonstick spray and place the dough circle on the bottom.
  • Add the filling into the dough.
  • Repeat the dough rolling process with the second disk and place the second dough circle on top of the filling
  • Pinch edges together with your fingers or a fork (I used a fork) 
  • Cut any dough that is hanging off the edge of the pie pan and set this dough aside.*
  • Brush beaten egg on top of the pie, making sure to cover all of the surface.
  • Sprinkle Cinnamon sugar mixture on top.
  • Cut a few slits LIGHTLY going around the center of the pie. 
  • Place pie pan onto a cookie sheet, also place another cookie sheet under the rack you will be putting your pie on in the oven. (This is to prevent the filling from bubbling over, burning in your oven, and suffocating you--not to mention that ANNOYING SMOKE DETECTOR).
  • Place pie in oven and bake at 400 F for 15 minutes. Then turn down the heat to 375 F and bake for another 40-50 minutes. If you find the top getting too dark towards the end, just move the pie down the the bottom rack.The pie is done when the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling :).
  • Cool for 2 hours at room temperature before serving. Store, covered, in the fridge. Should last up to a week. 

* Roll out the excess dough that you cut off, and if you have a cookie cutter, or are pretty confident in your knife skills, cut the dough into shapes. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top, bake for like 15-20 minutues or until golden brown. You can eat these just by themselves (they're awesome), or you can set them aside and use the for part two. 

The white peaches add a really nice flowery sweetness to the pie--love em! Share with friends! Don't be greedy. :) Thanks all for reading!