Category Archives: Chocolate

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

Ingredients:

  • 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)

Directions:

  • 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.

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

  • 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?

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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

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  • 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

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  • 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!


Procrastination

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

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  • 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?


Breakfast Chocolate Rice Pudding

Back in my days as a single lady, I got used to dealing with a lot of leftovers.

One day’s sheet of roasted vegetables made the next day’s wrap fillings.

One night’s mashed sweet potatoes made the next day’s Shepard’s pie topping.

One evening’s batch of cookies made the next night’s… cookie. (<< Don’t mess with a good thing!)

Sadly, since moving in with a man, leftovers have basically become a thing of the past. So, when there was some unseasoned brown rice to spare at the end of our dinner a few days ago, it was cause for celebration.

Or, at least, a good reason to make a fun, new breakfast.

Chocolate Rice Pudding

You didn’t read that wrong, either: This is really an awesome breakfast recipe!

I know what you’re thinking, “Chocolate for breakfast? Hello, sugar high!”

On the contrary, although there is big chocolate taste, there isn’t any table sugar in this recipe. Instead, the faint bit of sweetness comes from one tablespoon of maple syrup. That’s doable, right?

Better yet, by consuming cocoa in its unsweetened form, you’re getting some major nutritional rewards: According to Harvard researchers, among other benefits, cocoa can help decrease blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels.

Cheerios, schmerios…

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 C unsweetened almond milk (alternatively, any milk)
  • 2/3 C cooked brown rice, cooled (<< leftovers!)
  • 1/2 t vanilla
  • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • 1 T cocoa
  • 1 t cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt
  • ~1 T pure maple syrup

Directions:

  • In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer, stirring constantly.
  • Add in rice and vanilla. Return to a simmer and continue stirring for 3-5 minutes, until mixture thickens.
  • In a small bowl, stir together cinnamon, cocoa, cornstarch and pinch of salt. Stir into simmering rice mixture. Continue stirring for an additional 2-4 minutes, until desired thickness is attained.
  • Remove from heat and mix in maple syrup.

Notes: This makes two side servings, which would pair well with fresh fruit, or one large breakfast serving.

I actually had this breakfast on my first day of school and it kept me filled, focused and (mostly) enthusiastic all the way until noon. Then it was time to break into the brown bagged lunch that I half-heartedly prepared.

I say “half-heartedly” because, as much as I thrive on routine, it is still an adjustment to get back into the swing of classes. I’m just trying to enjoy it as much as I can, since I know I won’t have it to fall back on next year.

Then, I’ll have to figure out life. Just don’t get me started on that topic unless you want to see a face like this…

Questions: What do you like to do with leftovers? Any good leftover reinventions?


Chocolate Chip and Hazelnut Cookies

This summer has been pretty nonstop for Dan and me. First, we jumped right into our respective internships. Then, it was now-or-never wedding planning. Then, it was actually getting married and flying out for out honeymoon.

Now, for the first time all summer, we really don’t have much to do. Although it’s nice to theoretically get to relax, neither of us are the “sit around all day” types. We’d both rather be outside, working on something and having something to show for out efforts.

Yet, Kansas weather has another idea. Yesterday was the hottest day that Lawrence has seen in 75 years. Seventy-five years!

That meant we were pretty much locked inside to deal with our boredom.

Dan got out his guitar and practiced a few songs.

However, I have no musical talents whatsoever, so I was still lost for something to do — until I noticed a jar of hazelnuts on the counter that was looking equally bored.

Problem solved.

Chocolate Chip and Hazelnut Cookies

Adapted from “Smitten Kitchen.”

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1/2 C buttery spread
  • 1 T milled flax-seed + 3 T water (alternatively, one egg)
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 3/4 C whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 t sea salt
  • 1/2 C dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 C chopped hazelnuts

Directions:

  • In a small bowl, combine the flax-seed and water. Set aside.

  • In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream together the sugars and butter. Add in the flax mixture and vanilla. Stir until combined.
  • In another mixing bowl, whisk together the baking soda, flours and sea salt.

  • Stir half of the flour mixture into the sugar mixture until combined.

  • Then add in the second half of the flour mixture. Stir until again combined. Fold in dark chocolate chips.
  • Refrigerate for 20 minutes (optional, but suggested). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or grease. Place tablespoon-sized balls of dough on the baking sheets about two inches apart.
  • Bake in a 300 degree oven (Note: That’s 50 degrees less than most cookie recipes!) for 18-20 minutes, until lightly browned.
  • Allow to cool on the cookie sheets for a few minutes, then finish cooling on a rack.

Holy-moly. These cookies are amazing. I loved the first version I made with simple chocolate chips, but the hazelnuts just kick it up a whole ‘nother notch.

I guess that just goes to show if you can’t stand the heat, stay in the kitchen and make cookies.

Question: What do you like to do during the dog days of summer?

Generally, I like to go to the pool, but it was too hot for that. Insanity!


Thank goodness for freedom

You know why I love living in the United States of America?

I have the freedom to spend nights with friends, play sand volleyball, laughing and not worry about physical harm — other than bruised up arms.

I have the freedom to spend all day baking desserts with my sister — and never worrying about when my next meal will come. (Recipes at bottom of page.)

I have the freedom to collaborate on a great potluck dinner, enjoy and evening with friends and blow up fireworks — while never mistaking the noise for bombs or gun shots.

I have the freedom to share my life with the person I love — without being persecuted for it.

Those are the reasons, my friends, why I love the Fourth of July so much.

Think about it: How enjoyable would other holidays be if we were constantly worried about when we would eat, how safe we are and what we are allowed to say?

As I said, thank goodness for freedom!

Questions: What does “freedom” mean to you?

Recipes: I’m not super proud of these recipes, because they came in moments of desperation when I didn’t have time to bake from scratch. But, hey, don’t we all have those days where we need easy recipes?

Apple Pie Bites

Ingredients:

  • Frozen pie crust
  • Can of apple pie filling
  • Cinnamon

Directions:

  • Defrost pie crust on counter for 30 minutes. Roll dough into a ball, then roll out to 1/8″ thick. Using a thin-rimmed glass, about 3″ in diameter, cut out dough circles.
  • Gently push dough circles into slots on a greased, mini-muffin tin.
  • Dice apples up. Fill each slot with apples.
  • Bake in 400 degree oven for 7-10 minutes, until crust is lightly browned. Cool and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Cake Balls

Ingredients:

  • Pre-baked cake, cooled (<< I actually made this from scratch, but I’m saving that recipe for later. Any cake will do.)
  • 1 jar frosting, any flavor
  • Almond bark (sorry for no exact measurement, but a package is enough!)
  • Sprinkles, coconut or any toppings!

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, mash the cake and frosting together until combined. Roll into balls. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Melt almond bark. Using two spoons, roll the cake balls in the melted chocolate. Place on wax paper until chocolate hardens.
  • Dip the top of the cake balls back in chocolate, then dip into a small bowl of sprinkles (or any toppings). Cool again and eat!