Thursday, December 22, 2011

What to do with pumpkin puree?

So many things happen when you puree your own pumpkin.

You get the warm roasted smell of pumpkin wafting through your house.

You get a rich, orange, smokey puree.

You get a nuanced pumpkin pie.

Sometimes, you get a little extra pumpkin after you're finished baking whatever you pureed the pumpkin for.

So what do you do with that pumpkin? As a lover of such squash flavored baked good, you can never have too much pumpkin.  Scones, pies, cookies, muffins, the list goes on, and the deliciousness continues.

(Side note: I really need to be more deliberate about taking pictures for this, these are just sad)
Muffins are the focus of this extra puree.  Rich, spicy, and topped with a streusel crumb, they are the perfect excuse to eat baked goods for breakfast. Or lunch. or an afternoon snack. Or really, a snack anytime.

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins
(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

1/3 cup oil
2 tbsp ground flax seed in 1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350. Line a muffin tin with liners. (I used extra tall ones, mostly because I wanted to get rid of them, but they ended up being fabulous for holding the streusel topping)

Whisk together flax seed and water first.  In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, sugar, pumpkin and flax seed mixture.

Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, and spices, and whisk until relatively smooth.

Fill liners 2/3 to 3/4 full.

Streusel Topping

6 tbsp cup butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon

Mix together all ingredients until crumbly

Sprinkle over the filled muffin cups.

All ready for the oven!

(I will admit that I can't totally verify the amount of topping this will make, as I started out with 1/4 cup butter, and then started adding things to it, so play around with the amounts until it looks right.  I thought I has a little extra, but then the muffins rose and the topping was a bit sparse. )

Bake muffins with streusel topping 25 minutes, and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tomato Soup and Dinner Rolls

I love cooking, and even more than that, I love cooking something and having other people truly enjoy what I've made.  I think this meal has potential for that. Nothing says love like homemade soup WITH homemade bread.  That says I love you enough to knead this dough by hand, wait for it to rise, shape it, wait some more, and then bake it.  
That says I love you enough to plan this meal hours in advance so I could wait for the bread to rise.  
That says I love you enough to want to know everything that goes in to our meal, and not simply pour soup from a can and pull rolls from a bag.  
Really, what says I love you more than that? Unless maybe we added a salad to the side, but that's a different story.   

Dinner Rolls (from Bakingdom)

I used the recipes linked above, but used about 2-3 tablespoons of ground flaxseed mixed with about 1/4 cup water instead of the egg, and omitted the egg wash.  I will admit that I tried to halve to recipe in my head while making it because I didn't need 20 rolls. I failed. I put the full amount of water and sugar and halved everything else, so my recipe was a desperate attempt to save that. I tried to follow this, and managed to make a pretty delicious roll. I'm guessing if I had done it right the first time they would have been even more amazing.  
Dough rising

Nice and baked! 

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup (Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod)

6 Roma tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 red onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Dash Cayenne pepper
freshly chopped basil
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth 

1. Arrange tomatoes on a baking sheet, drizzle with about 1 tablespoon of oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast in a 400 degree oven for around 45 minutes. 

2. In a large pot, heat about 1 tablespoon oil. Add onion and cook about 2 minutes.  Add garlic.  

3. Add canned tomatoes, basil, and broth. Add roasted tomatoes and dash of cayenne.

4.  Simmer about 30 minutes, then blend.  (I transferred my soup in batches to a food processor, which worked fine and just required some extra heating time at the end. I'm sure an immersion blender would be much more fabulous, but work with what you have). 

5.  Serve and bask in the glory that is homemade soup. 


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Weekend Recap, Part 1

So many things to be thankful for this week, so many things that I want to share, and just not enough time or space.  Here are the top things right now

I am thankful for:

1. Having a real kitchen to cook in this past week at home.

2. Tomato Soup and Homemade dinner rolls

3. Being able to appreciate runs in the rain

4. Appreciating even more the runs when it finally stops raining

5. My amazing horse who never fails to forgive me for having to leave him for weeks/months at a time to go to school

6. Being able to wake up in the morning to a new day. Never forget that every second is a gift

I plan to post photos of the soup and rolls soon, because I just can't get over how perfect of a fall meal those were.  Also in the works, vegan pumpkin pie from scratch (but not Carl Sagan style, because I didn't first invent the universe, sorry...)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Running, for your mind and body

Here's a little bit not about food. Click away, that's fine. But I want to talk to you about moving your booty. Get out of that chair. Not because you feel guilty, not because someone told you to, not even because you ate that other half of a burrito last night, or because the chocolate cupcakes in the kitchen are screaming your name.

What's that? Why on earth would you exercise for reasons other than guilt or food? Let me tell you.

Because it feels good. 

Because physiologically, you will feel better.

Because at some point in your life, you might get chased by a bear, and wouldn't you rather be able to run from it?

All kidding aside, I finished my first half marathon almost a month ago, and I really think that running has saved my brain.  Some people run with partners, some people have support groups for exercise or take group classes. My runs are me time. It's my chance to kick anyone and everyone out of my space, and just be alone, me, my legs, my running shoes, the pavement.  It's methodical, it's serene on the outside.
It's never not a struggle.
But I can't say this struggle is because the running itself is difficult. It's because of everything it has come to mean to me, and all the daily stress I work through on these runs.
I can't say I'm not guilt-driven.
I can't say I didn't choose to get out of bed this morning and run so that I could have the fro-yo after dinner.

It's all true, I did those things. (Ok, I haven't eaten the fro-yo yet, but I fully intend to)
But starting to read the stories of others, first marathons, forty-first marathons, first 5ks, first workouts, they are all so inspiring.  Every work I read makes me want to run.  I want to see how far I can go, I want to be amazed at the work my body can do when I ask it. I want to marvel at the fact that my legs can carry me 13.1 miles one day, and still let me get out of bed the next day, no matter how hard my head objects.  I love that the body can mimic a warrior, cobra, dog, or eagle in a yoga pose, and then carry the warrior spirit miles and miles from where it started.

It is this inspiration that makes me want to keep running. To push myself, to save myself, to know myself.  I am determined to run my first full marathon next year, and I love to try and improve my times in shorter races, possibly planning some 5k, 10k, 15k, and half marathons in there.

I have been blessed with a body that is capable, and I appreciate everything that it can do for me.  I'll take care of you and you take care of me, ok?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

As promised, cookies and cream and cupcakes

Have I steered you wrong before? I mean, really, chocolate with coffee and coconut, diet coke slushies?

Ok, so I haven't really posted enough for you to trust me yet. I understand. We haven't had a chance to build up the relationship. But really, if you can't trust a mix of chocolate and oreo into the best thing since sliced bread, maybe I'm not the one to blame...
(plus, who really wants sliced bread when you could be eating a cupcake?)

So here it is, again from the lovely ladies of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. If you don't own this, well that helps me because you're reading this instead of baking their cupcakes!

Chocolate Oreo Cupcakes
1 cup soymilk
1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup crushed oreos

Whisk soymilk and vinegar, set aside to curdle. Add sugar, oil, and vanilla. Separately, mix together dry ingredients. Add in two batches to wet ingredients. Mix in oreos.
Fill liners 3/4 full.  Bake 18-20 minutes at 350.

Frost with your favorite buttercream, but add crushed oreos in!

Enjoy =]

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Race Time

This morning, I finished my first half marathon ever! 13.1 miles of excitement, fear, pain, sweat, nausea, happiness, success, and joy.  3.1 miles farther than I have ever carried myself on my own two legs.  13.1 miles to raise money for leukemia and lymphoma research. 13.1 miles for the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco. Hoping to do a full marathon next year! I don't even know how I am saying that after the way I feel today, and the way my body felt in those last 3 miles today.  But I know I can do it.
I've never been a runner. Sure, I've casually run, but basically only because I really like to eat, so something has to balance that one out...

The sense of accomplishment is amazing. Knowing that I have done something for myself, fought through the stereotypes of what makes a runner,  and pushed myself to be something better than I was before.  I'm so glad that I had the opportunity to participate in this race, and I hope in some way my contribution to this event can help get the medical community closer to a cure for cancer.

Congratulations to all my fellow runners who competed this morning!

I'm hoping to make some Halloween treats this week, to celebrate my success and the lovely month of October. Oh yes. Deliciousness awaits...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cupcake, the food of the gods...

It's been a while since my last post, sorry! I've still been experimenting in the kitchen, but enjoying summer, taking pictures, (attempting to go) tanning, have all kept me from the computer!

Never fear, though, because I have a delicious thing to share with you, from the cookbook Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, which is totally worth buying, in my humble opinion...

These beauties are Chocolate Coconut Coffee Cupcakes.  I'm not always the biggest coconut fan. Don't get me wrong, I love the smell, I enjoy my body products smelling like a tropical vacation. But when you're reaching into that box of chocolates, hoping for a delicious caramel, or thick chocolate truffle, and you bite in to a pile of white goo that could resemble shampoo, it's just not ok.

Anyway, these babies go way beyond the deliciousness of coffee and chocolate.  They are light, delicate, and pack a punch of rich chocolate and coffee cream.  I took some liberties in the recipe, adding regular vegetable oil instead of melted coconut oil, which probably altered the texture a bit, but I'm not complaining.  I also threw some instant coffee into the batter, to heighten the intense chocolate flavor.

Happy baking!!!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Tea Time?

I like tea. Really, I do. I like green tea, I like black tea, I like white tea, I like herbal tea... I don't discriminate.
I like coffee. Some people are elitist and say you have to love one or the other, I hope none of you are those people. I apologize.

I actually wanted coffee today. I have the filters, the grinds, and a sink to get some fresh cold water right here. So why am I drinking tea instead? Well, I heat the tea water in the coffee maker, and I didn't want to have to clean it if I wanted tea later...

This is my coffee pot. It lives in the corner with my utensils stolen from the dining hall... Oops.

Right now, I'm drinking blueberry green tea. It was a gift from a friend, and came in a cute little bamboo-esque tea box. Love it. Not a huge fan of fruit in my tea, but this one is actually ok. Whatever. The point of this is to talk about how finals make you lazy. Not in a sleep-all-day and watch movies, although I'm doing that too.
My tea mug, and the cute little tea box

Mostly, productive laziness. I packed. I went running. I made tea. I did some research about careers. I listened to podcasts. I laughed. I did not look at my flashcards. I did not open up my lecture notes. I did, however, eat lunch and think about the process of digestion, tried to name the hormones that facilitate it, and called that studying. Then I called my sister. Productive, right?

I think I'll go eat dinner and continue this discussion with my small intestine...


Sunday, May 29, 2011

College Cooking

Cooking in college is not easy. First, there's the frequent lack of transportation. Ever tried to buy flour, sugar, butter, eggs, and milk and then smash is all into a backpack and bike home? You'll be lucky if the backpack hasn't created it's own version of pancake batter by the time you get back.
Then there's always the "steal ingredients from the dining hall approach." You can only ask for eggs and cups of oil so many times before you start to feel incredibly awkward. Or you bring your own tupperware and fill it with chocolate chips and sprinkles next to the ice cream machine. Whatever.

I opt for a mix of the two methods. I bought the flour and sugar on a grocery trip on my trusty bike. Butter, milk, eggs, chocolate chips, sprinkles, brown sugar, and oil I glean from the dining hall. It all works out.

Once you've mastered the ingredient issue, you need pans. A four dollar non-stick cake pan from Walmart may have been the best purchase of cookware in my life. And I can't stand walmart. But I use it for cake, cookies, and storage of said delicious treats. Win-win. It's also purple. Can't lose.

To the cookies! I rarely measure. Ok, I start out measuring, and then add whatever looks good and gets a consistency I like. I also undercook my cookies, because crunchy just doesn't do it for me.

I didn't bring my camera down to the sad excuse for a dorm kitchen, so I can only show the end result. Chocolate covered shortbread with sprinkles. Not bad for dorm food.  


1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 pinch salt
2+ cups flour

Mix ingredients and shape into desired shapes. I rolled mine into sad little balls and then flattened them. You could probably also roll then into a log and slice, making them a little prettier, but I didn't have the time or patience to do that. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the cookie and your desired level of crunchiness or softness.

Dip mostly cooled cookies in melted chocolate, and sprinkle with jimmies. Or leave plain, but who doesn't like sprinkles? and how adorable do they look with rainbow colors adorning the chocolate goodness?

I also mixed some mini chocolate chips into the dough of some of the cookies, with pretty delicious results.


Note: if you sit in the hallway with your cake pan full of deliciousness, people will come by and sample your cookies. You were warned. 

PS: My roommate made the perfectly round ones with vanilla frosting. She cheated, it was a mix and store-bought frosting. And they were delicious too. 


Sunday, May 15, 2011

When life gives you exploding cans....

College is about learning right? It seems to me that I learn the majority of my lessons outside the classroom, and most frequently from mistakes and lapses in my own judgement. You don't learn in a classroom that working 25 hours a week on top of classes is a bad idea until you're busy from 7am to 9pm with classes and start forgetting to eat.  You don't realize lemon trees have thorns until you climb them in the rain and get soaked, scratched, and muddy. At least you'll have the lemonade when you're done. After you wash the juice from your newly acquired wounds.

That's depressing, you might say. But the best part of these lessons is learning to make them fun.

So I came home last week to find my mini refrigerator door wide open. What happened, you ask? Remember when your mom told you not to put pop cans in the freezer? She didn't tell you the terrible freezing component in your mini fridge will not freeze anything inside, only the things in the refrigerator part that you wanted relatively thawed.

Thus, you find this:

The top of the can came completely off

Look, mom, no top!

But like Mom always said, find the silver lining. And what is more silver than a diet coke can? So I thought like a 7-11, and made a slushie.  

Ok, so maybe is separated a little bit, and wasn't exactly the processed goodness that is 7-11, but hey, I wasn't about to waste a perfectly good diet coke!

Happy experimenting!


Friday, May 13, 2011


I guess this is now something I can cross off a bucket list! If I made one... Anyway, I've always been inspired by blogs, the style, food, design, and of course humor that people share just by typing out their thoughts. Giving it a go here, so bear with me!

My inspirations:

Cupcakes and Cashmere

Picky Palate

Joy the Baker


In my blog, I want to discuss my successes (and of course, failures!) in the baking world, design world, style world, and fitness world. Let's make this something great!