Tag Archives: dessert

Peanut Butter S’mores Cookies

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The weather has been gorgeous lately and I have been able to fire up our backyard grill a few times already this season. The longer, warmer days make me feel like summer is right around the corner. We’re planning outdoor activities for our weekends and starting to think about miniature summer vacations to go camping, hiking, canoeing and tubing in the area.

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Last weekend, Kyle and I met up with some friends at Dominion Riverrock, which is an outdoor sports and music festival in Richmond, VA. We spent hours outside in the sun, watching demonstrations and competitions for various outdoor sports, including mountain biking, bouldering, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, trail running, and even dog jumping! It was amazing to be surrounded by people with so much love for the outdoors. It got us thinking about planning a camping trip this summer. Do you have any ideas for must-see spots to share?

Because my mood and the weather always influence my kitchen adventures, I made a campfire s’mores-inspired sweet treat to fuel our research and planning. These peanut butter s’mores cookies are soft, chewy, and packed with peanut butter flavor, with little bits of graham cracker and chocolate mixed throughout, and soft marshmallow middles (which is exactly what I’ll have, if I don’t stop eating these cookies).

I used one of my favorite basic peanut butter cookie recipes from chocolatecoveredkatie.com and modified it to dream up this unique combination. When enjoyed in moderation, they are quite delicious!

Peanut Butter S’mores Cookies

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 3 Tablespoons all natural applesauce (no sugar added)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup Sucanat (or substitute brown sugar or Turbinado if you prefer)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 Tablespoons all purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 Tablespoons chocolate chips
  • 1 rectangular regular size graham cracker (4 sections), crumbled
  • 12 miniature marshmallows

Preparation:

  1. Combine peanut butter, applesauce, and vanilla in a medium bowl.
  2. In another bowl, combine Sucanat, baking soda, flour, and salt.
  3. Add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture and stir to combine until a dough is formed. Fold in the chocolate chips and crumbled graham crackers.
  4. Roll the dough into about 1-inch balls. Push a miniature marshmallow into the center of each cookie dough ball, and re-roll into a sphere. This should make 10-12 cookies.
  5. Chill dough balls in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. At 25 minutes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  6. Transfer dough balls to a lightly greased cookie sheet and space 2 inches apart. Bake at 350 degrees F for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.

How do you enjoy the great outdoors this time of year? Have any tips on cool camping or hiking spots?

Ten Recipes So Easy That You Could Make Them with One Hand Tied Behind Your Back

The sun is finally out, spring is in the air, and here in Richmond, most of us are enjoying the opportunity to be outside before the thermostat goes from reading “warm” to “do-we-live-in-a-brick-oven?” We’re spending more time out reading on the patio, meeting friends for happy hour, or squeezing in a trail run or bike ride after work and before dinner. We’re not spending much time in the kitchen preparing meals. Sound familiar? If so, you may be looking for some quick and easy recipes this spring.

Ever since I flew off a bike five months ago and fractured both hands, I have had limited or no use of my left hand, which had the more severe injury. After my first surgery, I had no use of either arm for several weeks, so cooking meals, no matter how quick or easy, was out of the question. After some rehabilitation, I was able to use both hands but my left wrist fatigued easily so I had to keep things simple in the kitchen. I also had to stop writing outside of my day job because typing all day at work was all I could handle. That is why things have been pretty quiet around here lately.

Three weeks ago, I had my second surgery and a second medical leave, which left me with some time for reflection. I decided that I wanted to start writing and cooking sooner this time. I committed to the struggle, knowing that a lot of utensils would be dropped and a lot of joints would get swollen in the process. In the kitchen, I focused on dishes I could make with one hand. I still had a lot of help from my husband Kyle, but I was surprised to find how much I could do myself one handed.

Of course these recipes go even quicker with both hands, but if you’re in a cast like I was, you can pull them off pretty easily with just one. If you are fortunate enough to have the use of both hands, but you’re just in a rush and want something quick and easy, you’ll love these recipes too!

Tips for One Handed Cooking

  1. Get an electric can opener, or a friend who will open several cans at once and dump contents into easy-open reusable containers for you to pull from the refrigerator throughout the week.
  2. Buy pre-chopped vegetables. These are a lifesaver.
  3. Choose meals with few ingredients and uncomplicated preparations so that you will not have to juggle too much at once.
  4. Cook in large batches so that you can have leftovers for other meals and save yourself cooking time.
  5. Replace your salt and pepper mills with plain old pre-ground sea salt and black pepper.
  6. On the stovetop, use heavy bottomed pans that will stay in place while you stir, without someone holding on to the handles.
  7. Be patient! Focus on what you CAN do and don’t dwell on what you CANNOT do (I’m still working on that one myself.)

Easy Recipe Roundup

Eating Bird Food Green Elvis Smoothie – smoothies are a great way to boost nutrition in a quick and easy way

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Lazy Egg and Cheese Sandwich from Smitten Kitchen via A Cup of Jo. Confession: I have had so many egg sandwiches in the last few months. Try adding some Everything Bagel Sprinkles.

Vegology Arugula Salad with Roasted Tomatoes, Chickpeas and Feta – substitute whole grape tomatoes if you can’t/won’t slice the Roma tomatoes

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NoBull Veggie Burgers – or substitute patty of your choice, serve on store-bought buns with baby carrots and hummus, or baked-from-frozen sweet potato or zucchini fries

Vegology Vegetarian Gumbo with Brown Rice – all ingredients can be purchased pre-chopped, frozen, or canned

Real Simple Stuffed Poblano Peppers – instead of stuffing, I chopped the roasted poblanos in a food processor and added them to the rice mixture

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AllRecipes.com Unsloppy Joes – all ingredients can be purchased pre-chopped, frozen, or canned

Budget Bytes Quick Fix Salad Bar Pizza – the salad bar is definitely your friend for finding pre-chopped ingredients. Substitute a store-bought pizza crust for tortilla if you want a thicker, breadier crust.

Sweets too! Baked doughnuts are a really easy dessert and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could make these with just one hand.

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Joy the Baker’s Double Chocolate Cake Doughnuts

Vegology Supercharged Coffee Doughnuts

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Thank you to those readers who have patiently forgiven my three month hibernation and are still around for this revival of Vegology! I am thrilled to have found a way to keep writing and I am excited to rejoin the amazing blogging community after some time off. I hope you are excited too!

Blueberry Lemon Ginger Ice Cream Sandwiches

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Guys, these are good. Really good. And too easy. It makes me nervous that these are so easy to make, because I am afraid that homemade ice cream sandwiches are about to become a staple in my freezer.

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At just a few bites each, it’s hard to stop at just one. But if you have enough willpower around treats to have just one (I don’t), then they’re the perfect size for a quick dessert (or, you know, breakfast), with enough sinfulness to satisfy your sweet tooth but not so much to make you feel guilty.

It starts with four ingredients and ends in five steps.

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Ingredients:

1. 1 cup of vanilla ice cream

2. 1 lemon

3. 1cup fresh blueberries

4. 30 ginger thin cookies (better make it 35 in case some break)

We used Soy Dream non-dairy ice cream to make it vegan. You could use real ice cream or frozen yogurt instead.

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1. Remove the ice cream from the freezer and let it sit on the counter until softened.

2. Grate the zest of one lemon. Set the lemon aside and use it for lemonade (cliché) or a salad dressing or something.

3. In a food processor, combine blueberries, lemon, and ice cream. Pulse until the berries and lemon are thoroughly combined.

4. Use a small spoon to put about 2 tablespoons of ice cream mixture on a cookie, then top with another cookie to make a sandwich. Place sandwiches in a single layer on a plate or baking sheet.

5. Freeze sandwiches for 30 minutes or more, then serve!

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Makes about 15 sandwiches, depending on how many cookies you break or eat during the process. Way too easy, right? These ingredients taste so good together that it’s tempting to just throw them all in a bowl and eat them with a spoon. Which would be totally fine, but not as dainty.

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Feeling French in Brooklyn

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Last month I made a last-minute trip to Brooklyn to visit my friend Melissa for the weekend. I arrived on Saturday and left on Sunday, and I think the whole visit clocked in at around 27 hours. We made the most of our time together and had a lot of fun wandering around Brooklyn, eating and drinking everything in sight. On Saturday afternoon, we stopped at Sweet Melissa Patisserie for some tiny desserts.

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We first discovered Sweet Melissa in the summer of 2009 and immediately fell in love with the adorable décor and delicious pastries. Plus Melissa obviously loved the name. She took the quaint bakery in Park Slope as a sign that she needed to move from Richmond to New York, and that when she did, she needed to live in Brooklyn. Later that year, Melissa moved to Brooklyn. I visit a couple of times a year, and I don’t think we’ve ever skipped a trip to Sweet Melissa. It’s not the best bakery in Brooklyn, but it’s pretty good, and it holds sentimental for me. This was the first time I had gotten the mini desserts and I am so glad that I did. We split them while sitting on a park bench outside the bakery. I’ve never been to France, but it all felt very French to me.

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The next morning we continued to indulge our Francophile tendencies by traveling to Williamsburg for brunch at Le Barricou. I was a little nervous that I was not hipster-cool enough to fit in at this restaurant (or in this neighborhood), but I managed to blend in just fine. We slipped into the restaurant around 10:00 AM with no wait, which was a nice surprise. We had expected a long wait, but it seems that we were just early enough to get a table before the rest of the neighborhood shook off their hangovers and ventured out in search of greasy food, coffee, and mimosas.

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A new development during this New York trip is that Melissa is on an espresso macchiato kick. I had forgotten how much I liked them, so I followed suit and had a few macchiatos during my trip. The one at Le Barricou was not the best, but it did give me a jolt of energy. Kyle has poetically described mornings in Paris spent people-watching while sipping dark, rich espresso and idly chewing on pieces of baguette. Kyle didn’t really care for Paris but he fell in love with its espresso. I wonder if the experience at Le Barricou would have reminded him of his time in France or if it would have just reminded him of his last trip to Brooklyn.

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The French country style décor and the brunch menu certainly felt French to me. The vegetarian egg white omelette that I ordered might not have been very authentic, but it was tasty. The egg whites were fluffy and stuffed with delicious seasonal vegetables. The potatoes were perfect, which is a word that I don’t use often, because I’m always trying to think of ways to improve upon the dishes that I eat, but I wouldn’t change a thing about these herbed fried potatoes. The side salad had a light citrus vinaigrette that provided a bright contrast to the heavy potatoes.

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We cleaned our plates, which was not an easy task. The food was rich but it was so mouth-wateringly delicious that we couldn’t stop going back for more. I had not eaten to the point of pain in a long time, but this meal left us both completely stuffed.

One nice surprise about the meal at Le Barricou was the great service. I expected a little better-than-you attitude from the wait staff, with their tight pants, ironic facial hair, messy hair buns, and bright red lipstick. However everyone we came in contact with was very friendly and helpful, no attitude or snark at all. Maybe it was my messy bun and my skinny jeans.

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As we finished our meal, we reflected on how slightly French our short weekend had been. Walking back to the train, Melissa talked about her business trips to Europe over the last year. She said that Denmark felt really weird for her (but kind of awesome) because, being fair-skinned with long, straight, brown-blonde hair and grey-green eyes, in Denmark she was surrounded by people who looked exactly like her. I can’t imagine what that would be like, since I have always lived in pretty racially diverse areas, and have never really felt like I blended in to a crowd of people who looked exactly like me. I then wondered aloud where I would go for a similar experience. Having a mix of European ancestors in my family tree, including Irish, German, and Swedish, I don’t think I look anything other than American. Without skipping a beat, Melissa said,

“I always thought you looked French.”

Maybe it was the tiny pastries, the double shot of espresso, or the oeufs that made Melissa think that. Or maybe there’s something to it? Upon further consideration, I’m pretty sure the only thing that makes me look French is my default facial expression: bored.

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But when I want to feel French and can’t afford the transatlantic plane ticket, I know where to go.

Sweet Melissa Patisserie, 175 7th Ave, Brooklyn, NY

Le Barricou, 533 Grand Street, Brooklyn, NY

Kyle and I are packing our passports and taking a little getaway this week (not to France). However, sometimes we like to feel like we’ve been transported to another country without shelling out for the expensive flight and hotel room. Food can do that for you; so can ambiance. I recall an innovative low-budget at home date night while we were in college, that involved stir-fry, chopsticks, pillows on the floor, and a kung fu movie marathon.

What do you do to feel like you’ve traveled to another country while staying in your own town?

Super Bowl Blackout Supercharged Doughnuts

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Sometimes you need a little extra help recharging. When I need a quick boost, I often turn to coffee. Maybe I should get more sleep. Maybe I should plan more, eat better, or practice more self control when it comes to making time for rest. But sometimes I just don’t, and on those days, I crave a steady stream of caffeine. I know you know the feeling.

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Stayed up too late on Sunday night?

Is your Monday morning brain having a hard time waking up?

Feel like the Super Dome during a power outage, in desperate need of a big jolt of energy?

For times when a coffee and a doughnut aren’t quite enough, get a double dose of coffee with these supercharged doughnuts that I recently dreamt up in my kitchen. . . Leave it to me to put doughnuts in coffee, and coffee in doughnuts.

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Yes, you read that right. Coffee. In. Doughnuts. Chocolate and coffee are perfectly complementary and they team up to pack a punch in these delightful baked doughnuts. Some people achieve balance through protein shakes, juices, and probiotics. Sometimes I am one of those people. Sometimes I am one of those other people whose idea of balance is tempering bitter with sweet, coffee with chocolate.

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When it feels like the lights are flickering, power up with these.

Supercharged Coffee Doughnuts

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 6 oz. low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3 Tablespoons real maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Grease a doughnut pan.
  3. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, espresso powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
  4. In another bowl, combine egg, yogurt, oil, lemon juice, and maple syrup.
  5. Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients until incorporated. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Scoop batter into the wells of the doughnut pan. Wipe off any excess batter that gets on the pan surface in the center of the doughnut to preserve the ring shape.
  7. Bake at 400 degrees F for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. Makes 6 doughnuts.
  8. Optional: dip in your favorite frosting or glaze.

Go Ravens!

Farmers’ Market 04.21.12 and Strawberry Snacks

Last week I saw local asparagus in the grocery store for the first time this year. When strawberries followed a few days later, I knew what I had to do. The farmers’ market was calling my name. On our first free Saturday in Richmond in a very long time, Kyle and I made it out to the South of the James Winter Market. Here’s the haul!

  • Romaine lettuce (Broadfork Farm)
  • Green onions (Broadfork Farm)
  • Radishes (Walnut Hill)
  • Strawberries (Walnut Hill)
  • Asparagus (Walnut Hill)
  • Kale (Walnut Hill) – for juicing!
  • Olive and Herb Bread  (Norwood Cottage Bakery)

It was a beautiful warm morning and we enjoyed walking the short distance to the farmers’ market for the first time since moving into our new home. Unfortunately I was battling a migraine for most of the day so I didn’t do much else on Saturday until about 4:00 PM. I couldn’t figure out if it was exhaustion, stress, or my pollen allergies that had sidelined me until the late afternoon. Then when the torrential downpour hit late Saturday evening and the temperature dropped thirty degrees overnight, I figured it out. Usually when the weather takes a dramatic turn like this, I get terrible headaches. I am so glad that I was able to make it out into the sunshine for a few hours to grab a coffee with Kyle and peruse the market tables. We had such a wonderful, relaxing morning before I had to crawl into bed and pull the covers up over my eyes!

I rallied and went out for dinner and drinks with friends on Saturday night, and woke up to cold, pouring rain on Sunday morning. It was such a stark contrast to the nice warm weather of the day before. To remind me of the bright sun-warmed stalls filled with fresh local produce, I pulled out the strawberries and made this easy spring dessert.

These tasty little morsels contain just three ingredients and they are really easy to make. I brought them to brunch with some friends this afternoon and they went over really well, so I decided to share them here. When the main ingredient is dark chocolate peanut butter, what could go wrong?

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Filled Strawberries

Ingredients:

Preparation:

  1. Slice the top off of each strawberry.
  2. Using a paring knife, strawberry huller, or serrated grapefruit spoon (it works!), hollow out the center of each strawberry, being careful not to poke a hole through the bottom or sides of the berry. You are making a little strawberry cup. Adorable.
  3. Optional: slice off the very tip of each strawberry so that the treats will stand upright.
  4. Using a pastry bag, pipe the chocolate peanut butter into the center of each strawberry. Alternatively, use  a small spoon or spatula to the fill berries with the peanut butter.
  5. Sprinkle a few grains of sea salt over the top of each one.
  6. Freeze in a covered plastic tub for 20 minutes to set, then store in refrigerator.

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Ganache

As promised, I have a sweet new cupcake recipe for you. This winter citrus is insanely fresh and delicious right now. After enjoying fresh oranges for a few weeks, I decided to feature that nice zesty seasonal flavor in a sweet treat. I could pretend and say I was saving this recipe for Valentine’s Day, but I’m not much of a Valentine’s Day person so my close friends wouldn’t let that fly. The truth is I have been super busy and just haven’t gotten around to writing the post.

I went on a citrus kick a few weeks ago and made lemon cream cupcakes (from allrecipes) and these chocolate orange cupcakes ( my original recipe to follow) one weekend. It is amazing what a difference fresh ingredients can make! The subtle sweet orange flavor that is baked into these chocolate cupcakes is so fresh tasting, with this slight tang from the orange zest. The orange plays really well with the rich cocoa flavor.

I have mentioned before that I am not a natural baker, so when a confection turns out for me, I am genuinely surprised and delighted. Lately I have been experimenting a bit more with baking, and I am starting to get comfortable enough to make up my own recipes. Those work out for me even less frequently so it’s really nice when I come up with something tasty.

I am not even going to lie – this recipe is the second attempt. The first attempt did not work out so well. I am still learning about the delicate chemistry of baked goods. I did not realize that putting finely diced fresh orange in a cupcake would result in the batter soaking up all the orange juice, leaving chunks of stringy pulp behind. Because I believe that cupcake eating should not require post-dessert toothpicks and floss, I tried again. This time with juice.

The first batch never made it to the office. I choked down one or two cupcakes then threw them away. They just weren’t right. I brought the final batch into work and my coworkers approved. Success! I think they were pretty surprised to find out that the cake is vegan. The frosting, however, is not. I couldn’t resist topping these with dark chocolate ganache. I had never made ganache before and I was really surprised at how easy it is! If you want to go the vegan route though, you could use any vegan icing that your little heart desires and I am sure they would still be delightful.

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes (makes about a dozen)

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Sift flour and combine with other dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well.
  3. Combine wet ingredients in a small bowl. Add to dry ingredients and stir. Mix with a stand/hand mixer until well combined.
  4. Coat a muffin tin with non-stick spray or line with baking cups. Pour batter into cups until each cup is two-thirds full.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for a a few minutes, then remove to wire racks to continue cooling.

Dark Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 5 ounces dark chocolate chips
  • Patience

Preparation:

  1. Pour the chocolate chips into a medium sized mixing bowl.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat cream over medium heat. Bring to a boil then remove from heat.
  3. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips and stir to combine. Continuing stirring until chocolate is melted, then whisk until smooth.
  4. Let cool completely. Pop the bowl in the fridge for an hour or overnight if you have a lot of patience.
  5. Bring the frosting back to around room temperature then whip with a whisk until light and fluffy.
  6. If you’re fancy, use a pastry bag or a cake decorating gadget to top your cupcakes. If you’re like me and have a ton of gadgets that you always forget to use, don’t bother dusting off the cookie press / cake decorator gadget, and just use an old fashioned knife to spread the frosting on to the cupcakes.

Hope you dig them as much as I do!