Category Archives: Desserts

Baked Apple Fritters

I love apples, especially this time of the year. (Although I’m never going to name a child after them. That honor has already been promised to my true love, “Chocolate.”)

For that reason, I basically flipped when I saw a whole section in Health Magazine dedicated to “Amazing Apples.” The most delicious-sounding recipe among ’em was for baked apple fritters.

The recipe was really quite easy and the ingredient list was really simple. Yet, I decided to do it one better by veganizing and simplifying the directions… and with great results.

Baked Apple Fritters

(Adapted from Health Magazine.)


— Dough

  • 2 t active dry yeast
  • 1/2 C unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or any milk)
  • 2 1/3 C whole-wheat pastry flour, divided
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 2 T honey
  • 2 T buttery spread, melted
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 T milled flax-seed + 3 T water (alternatively, one egg)

— Filling

  • 2 T buttery spread
  • 1 large apple, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 t apple pie spice
  • 1 T cornstarch


  • To make dough: Heat milk for ~30 seconds in a microwave. Pour into a large bowl and sprinkle yeast on top. Let stand for 5 minutes or until foamy. In the meantime, combine milled flax-seed and water in a small bowl. Let that stand for at least 3 minutes.
  • Add 1 1/3 C flour, sugar, honey, melted buttery spread, salt and flax mixture to the yeast mixture. Stir until smooth. Add in an additional 1 C flour. Stir until a soft dough forms.
  • Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (~10 minutes) or transfer to an electric mixer with a dough hook and mix 10 minutes on medium speed.
  • Spray the sides of the mixing bowl with cooking spray. Place dough ball back in the bowl and turn it around a few times to cover with the cooking spray. Cover and let the dough rise for ~1 1/2 hours in a warm place (ideally 85 degrees). To see if dough has risen enough, press two fingers into the dough. If the indentation remains, dough is good to go.
  • To make filling: Place chopped apples in a microwaveable-safe bowl. Toss with apple pie spice. Add in buttery spread. Cover the bowl and cook for 3-4 minutes, until apples are tender. Stir in cornstarch and set mixture aside to cool completely.
  • To assemble: Divide dough into 12 equal portions. On a floured surface, roll each section into 1 3-inch circle. Divide filling among the rounds. Gather dough around the filling and pinch at the seam to seal. Place each fritter, seam side down, in a cup of a greased or non-stick muffin pan. Cover the muffin pan with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 40 more minutes.
  • Uncover dough and bake in a 400-degree oven for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Allow fritters to cool for 2 minutes in the pan, then remove each fritter and allow to cool on a wire rack.

So good! I may love apples a little bit more after this recipe… But I still draw the line at naming one of my children after them.

Questions: What’s the strangest non-celebrity baby name you’ve heard?


Birthday cake debate

Hey, friends!

Right now, Dan and I should be on our way back from Arkansas. Unfortunately school starts back up tomorrow and reality is beckoning. But, we’re choosing not to think of that right now because today happens to be a very, very important day: Dan’s birthday!

I am just so thrilled to spend another year with him, having fun and going on more adventures. Although it will be hard to top all we did last year (cough, get engaged, cough, get married), I know this year will bring its own set of adventures!

Once we get back to Kansas tonight, we are going to his parents’ house for a big ol’ birthday dinner, complete with Dan’s eternally requested German’s chocolate cake.

Naturally, I still wanted to make something special for his day, so I asked if he wants me to make something other than German’s chocolate cake, because he will have had it at his parents.

Based on the expression on his face, it was almost like I had told him I was never going to bake again.

“No, you should make German’s chocolate cake, too!” he said.

So, that’s what I’ll do… German’s chocolate cake, round two!

Happy birthday, Dan!

As for me, I’m soaking up the fact that I’m married to a “much older man.” For the next month + three days, he’s 22 and I’m only 20!

Question: What kind of cake do you request for your birthday?

I am a pretty die-hard cookie cake girl. I love that I get to call it a “slice” and basically indulge in an over-sized serving of cookie!

On the other hand, I used to be slightly disappointed when I went to birthday parties where there was white, marble or ice cream cake. No thank you!

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

I’m a bit of a paradox: For as much as I love pumpkin, I’ve never been a fan of pumpkin pie. Somewhere between the flavor and texture, I just get thrown off.

Clearly, though, that doesn’t mean that pumpkin is a lost cause in my book. Instead, I swap the pie for even more delicious treats… And I don’t even have to wait until Thanksgiving to indulge in them.

Take these muffins for instance. They are perfect for a snack, a breakfast side or — according to Dan — a bit of energy before a run.

“You should call them ‘energy muffins,'” he said.

Good call, babe. But, I think I’ll go with…

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Adapted from Cookin’ Canuck.


  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 t pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
  • 1/3 C brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup nonfat vanilla yogurt
  • 1 cup chopped pecans


  • Head a small pan to medium-high. Add pecans and toast, stirring regularly for 4-5 minutes, until fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice.
  • In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, brown sugar, eggs, applesauce and yogurt.
  • Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture. Mix until just combined. To avoid tough muffins, do not over mix.
  • Add toasted pecans, and stir to combine.
  • Spray two muffin tins with nonstick spray or line with muffin cups. Fill each cup 2/3 way up with batter.
  • Bake in a 400 degree oven for 12-14 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Cool in the tin on a rack for about 10 minutes. Remove the muffins from the tin and let the muffins cool on the rack.

With two teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice plus a full can of pumpkin, these are chock-full of fall flavors… And that’s very appropriate around here. I swear the leaves were green one day and gold the next!

I’ve been taking advantage by getting outside, walking to class and being active. I attribute all the energy to the weather… Dan uses it as an excuse for why the muffins disappeared so quickly.

Question: Is there a dessert that you really don’t like?

In addition to pumpkin pie, I also really don’t like crème brûlée — except in oatmeal form!

Chocolate-Dipped Mini Pumpkin Muffins

I have to apologize. I alluded to a certain pumpkin treat the other day and then I left you all hanging.

That gosh-darned cookie dough frosting got in the way.

The thing is, the pumpkin muffins just happen to have been born two days before the cookie dough frosting — and, when that miracle child came along, these pumpkin muffins got pushed to the background.

That’s not to say the pumpkin muffins aren’t delicious and don’t have wonderful attributes of their own. They do. They are sweet, flavorful and oh-so perfect for fall. For that reason, they deserve their own moment of fame outside of the shadow of their younger sibling.

Chocolate-Dipped Mini Pumpkin Muffins


  • 1 3/4 C whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 t pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/3 C unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1 T milled flax + 3 T water (or one egg)
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 3/4 C canned pumpkin (not pie filling)
  • 1/2 unsweetened almond milk (or any milk)


  • In a small bowl, mix together the milled flax and water. Set aside.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice.
  • In a large bowl, mix together applesauce, brown sugar, the flax mixture, vanilla, pumpkin and almond milk. Slowly add in the flour mixture. Mix, but be careful not to overwork the batter.
  • Grease a mini-muffin pan. Fill each slot 2/3 way with the batter. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-14 minutes, until a wooden skewer can come out clean.
  • Allow muffins to cool in the pan for a few minutes. Then, move to a cooling rack and allow to cool thoroughly.

At this point, the muffins are perfectly fine to eat. In fact, they are thoroughly delicious and not just too sweet — which would make them a great snack or part of an awesome brunch.

But, if you really want to knock ’em out of the park, then go through with a few extra steps.


  • 3/4 C dark chocolate chips
  • ~1 t coconut oil


  • In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the chocolate chips and coconut oil in 30 second increments. Stir each time until chocolate is melted.
  • Dip the top of the muffins in chocolate and place on wax paper to cool.

Now, these muffins have officially gone from snack/brunch to dessert territory.

Oh, yeah

Friday Fragments: I recently stumbled upon blog post about global food disparities around the world. Although it is difficult to deny how important an issue it is to recognize, it can be difficult to really visualize what some people live off of.

That’s why this post is so cool: It features pictures of the groceries that families in certain countries live off of. For example…

In the United States, the pictured family spends $341 each week on grocery “staples,” such as chips and pizza.

On the other end of the spectrum, a family in Chad spends $1.23 per week on (mostly) grains.

There are also examples of families from Europe, South America and Asia. Very interesting and slightly sobering…

What do you think?

Cookie Dough Frosted Brownies

I have always been a fan of cookie dough.

Just ask my mom. Whenever we were making cookies while I was growing up, I always found a way to sneak some batter. Sure, my mom would caution me by saying that raw eggs could make me sick. But, then she would look the other way and I would quickly lick the spatula clean.

In college, my personal love of cookie dough went to new level when I was introduced to vegan baking. No longer did I have to balance my fear of salmonella with my desire for cookie dough. I could have the best of both worlds.

Now, my love for cookie dough has gone to a yet another level. That is because, on September 14, 2011, I created cookie dough frosting.

I know, I know. I basically combined two of the most sinful treats known to man. I did not fail to recognized the dilemma that this presents…

On one hand, this is my most mind-blowing recipe yet and it would be tragic not to share it. On the other hand, the recipe doesn’t necessarily belong on a website called “Pursuit of Healthfulness.”

But, let me explain my logic: It is vegan. It is all natural. It is easy to make.

And, it is so, so, SO delicious.

Cookie Dough Frosting


  • 1/2 C buttery spread, room temperature
  • 1 C confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1 T whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 C dark chocolate chips


  • In a large mixing bowl, cream together powdered sugar and butter. Mix in the vanilla and brown sugar. Then, mix in flour.
  • Fold in the dark chocolate chips.
  • Refrigerate. Bring to room temperature and stir before use.

I totally understand if you just eat this with a spoon. In fact, I would support it.

But, if you are feeling really crazy, spread it on some brownies. Naturally, that’s what I did.

Whole-Wheat Brownies


  • 1 C whole-wheat pastry flour
  • Scant 2/3 C sugar
  • 1/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/3 C canola oil
  • 1/2 C vanilla yogurt
  • 1/4 C water
  • 2 flax eggs (or 2 eggs)
  • 1 t vanilla extract


  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl combine the oil, yogurt, water, flax eggs and vanilla extract.
  • Mix everything together. Be careful not to over-mix.
  • Pour batter into greased 8×8 in. pan. Bake in 350 degree oven for 24-26 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool thoroughly and tore in the refrigerator.

Once the brownies are cooled and cookie dough frosting is all stirred up, place a big glob of frosting on top of the brownies go to town.

I just have to warn you: Life will never be the same.

You’re welcome.

Questions: Were you a rule breaker when you were growing up? Did your parents let you eat cookie dough?

I wasn’t necessarily a rule breaker, but I was very competitive. I used to hide the bad Candy Land cards so I wouldn’t be sent back to the beginning!


For the better part of this weekend, I took a total break from school. It was very nice and very enjoyable, but I’m paying for it now. Two papers, one book and a few random assignments are even less fun if put off until the last-minute…

For those reason, I’m keeping this post short and sweet. I’m serious about the “sweet” part, too. There are cake pops involved.

Backtracking to Saturday, I headed down to the football stadium to meet up with friends for a few tailgates.

Even though I opted for water + carrots instead of beer + burgers, it was fun hanging out with friends.

Initially the plan was for Dan to come down to the game when he got off work, but he got stuck in some serious traffic and got pushed behind schedule. I wasn’t too enthusiastic about the game, so I decided just to go home after the tailgates and spend some time with Dan.

Plus, we had friends coming over later and I had to put my hostess hat on!

I’m pretty sure that our friends like Dan and me for our personalities…

But, the cake pops were definitely the most popular things at the party. It’s understandable.

Once again, Mama Pea hasn’t let me down. These “Better Cake Pops” are just that — better than anything else. Ever.

We ended up having a great time, but our sleep schedules got a little off and Sunday was mostly squandered trying to make up for it.

Now, back to work!

September 11.

I know it’s a day late and a dollar short, but it’s not like 9/11 should only matter on the anniversary…

In 2001, I was in sixth grade in Ohio. The first plane hit at the exact same time that my school day started. I remember a teacher coming into my home-room and telling my teacher to turn the TV on. Throughout the day, we kept getting glimpses of the TV coverage. There were also a lot of rumors floating around. One girl’s mom picked her up from school. I didn’t know what to think — before that day, I’d never even heard of the World Trade Center.

When I got home from school, however, my mom told me that my dad wasn’t coming home that night. He worked as a TV reporter for a local station and was sent out to New York to cover the effects.

Even though I knew he was safe, it was still eerie to walk around my house and see all the things he had left behind. He just thought it was another day at work and that he would be coming home for dinner.

I imagined that was what nearly 3,000 other people thought that day. Except, my dad came home a week later and those people never did.

I think a part of me grew up that day. For the first time, I also realized just how wonderful it is to be an American.

Question: Where were you on 9/11?

Note: Check out an interview with my Dad (Bernard McCoy) that ran in The Kansan on Friday.

Homemade Mocha Frappuccino

After making it through the first week of school, Dan and I were ready to get away from all the hustle and bustle of Lawrence. To escape, we headed to the edge of town with the goal of finding a new trail to run.

We scanned a few trail maps and came up with a plan. Then, off we went!

We ran about 20 minutes out and 20 minutes back, which easily put us at more than four miles. Unfortunately, I forgot to start my watch until midway through, so I don’t have any exact information.

That was ok, though. We just enjoyed the scenery and some quality time with Tracker.

Compared with the streets, it felt really cool and breezy to run on the trails… At least at first. By the time we were done, Dan, Tracker and I were h-o-t.

Dan and I got some water, but Tracker had her own way to cool back down.

Trail runs might epitomize “fun” to everyone, but it was a great way to kick off the weekend for us. In fact, it was definitely my second favorite part of the day.

That’s right. There was something even more awesome.

Homemade Mocha Frappuccino


  • 1 C chocolate soy milk (alternatively, skim chocolate milk or regular milk for a non-mocha frappuccino)
  • 4-5 iced coffee ice cubes
  • 1 C iced coffee


  • Prepare 2 cups of iced coffee, which is brewed to double-strength and chilled in the refrigerator.
  • Once chilled, freeze 1 cup worth of iced coffee in an ice-cube tray.
  • In a blender, combine chocolate soy milk with coffee ice cubes. Blend until ice cubes are broken down. Add in iced coffee, blend to mix everything thoroughly.

Similar to the trail run, this felt like a major end-of-the-week treat. But, in reality, it is quite healthy with 30% of the daily recommended value of calcium.

Plus, there is less than one-third of the 65 grams of sugar in a nonfat, grande vanilla Frappuccino from Starbucks.

Now, that’s a treat that I’ll feel free to indulge in on any Friday… Or Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday or Sunday.

Questions: What are your favorite end-of-the-week indulgences? What’s your favorite coffee-house drink?