Category Archives: Recipes

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.)

Ingredients:

— 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

Directions:

  • 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?

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After a week like this…

I don’t want to talk about this week. I don’t want to talk about the stress. I don’t want to talk about the frustration. I don’t even want to talk about the exhaustion. I just want to talk about what I’m looking forward to next…

After a week like this, I could use a massage that’s half as good as the one that Tracker gets multiple times day.

After a week like this, I could use a good run to clear my mind. Fortunately, I’m running the WOW 5K to benefit Habitat for Humanity this Saturday. As an added benefit, the start line is just on the other side of my neighborhood, so it won’t cause me any extra stress. (Knock on wood.)

After a week like this, I could use some time to relax. I have been staring at the computer a little too much lately and I’ve realized it is no way to unwind. Instead, I would much rather get out for a walk with Tracker, bake some brownies or tackle my next DIY project. (Note: I made the mason jar soap dispenser shown in that post. Love it!)

After a week like this, I could use some time thinking about someone other than myself. I have been so focused on a few assignments that I’ve let most other things slide away — and it’s no good to spend this much time in your own head.

After a week like this, I could use some quality time with Dan — no books allowed. We were so lucky to have last Sunday together, but it seems as though we’ve been going in different directions this whole week. It’s helped to spend a while every night just telling each other about our days, but I want to have a few more non-school related conversations in the near future.

After a week like this, I could use an easy, delicious meal that requires little preparation. That’s where not-quite-fried rice comes in.

Not-Quite-Fried Rice

Lightly adapted from Living Oriental.

Ingredients:

  • ~2 T olive oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 C cooked brown rice, cooled
  • 2 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 C frozen corn
  • ~1 T sesame oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ~2 T ginger teriyaki sauce, optional*

* If omitted, use some fresh ginger.

Directions:

  • In a large wok, heat oil over medium-high. Break the eggs into the wok and immediately stir them with a spatula to scramble. Add in rice and toss everything together.
  • Add in the vegetables and sesame oil. Toss everything together and cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in teriyaki sauce.

If I had felt really ambitious, I would have made two separate dishes with tofu for me and chicken for Dan. But, I didn’t and we’re still alive… Then again, it’s not yet the end of the week.

Questions: How has your week been? What are you looking forward to this weekend?


Walnut pesto

This week marked a sad occasion in our house…

I stripped my poor basil plant.

I have to admit, it was a little depressing to pull all the fragrant leaves off. But, our first hard freeze was upon us and I knew that trying to protect the plant for much longer would have just been delaying the inevitable.

Plus, I had a whole box of pasta just begging for some pesto.

Walnut Pesto

Lightly adapted from Simply Recipes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 C fresh basil, packed
  • 1/2 C freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 C walnuts
  • 2 t minced garlic
  • ~1/3 C olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  • In a food processor, combine the basil, Parmesan, walnuts and garlic. Pulse until just combined.
  • Slowly pour olive oil in while pulsing the food processor. Use enough olive oil to reach desired pesto consistency.
  • Taste and add in salt and pepper as needed.

A very delicious end to this year’s basil plant, in deed!

Although it is more traditional to use pine nuts in pesto, I truly prefer using walnuts. To me, pine nuts always taste slightly fishy even if they are still fresh. As an added bonus, walnuts are much cheaper to buy than pine nuts.

Win-win.

This recipe got me enough for a big dinner of pasta plus a little extra, which I used to make caprese sandwiches later in the week. For those, I layered fresh mozzarella, freshly sliced tomatoes and some pesto between two slices of bread. Then, I pressed the sandwiches on a grill to make paninis. Dare I say that round two of pesto was even better than round one?

Now onto a big weekend… My sister is in town for her official tour of the University of Kansas!


Butternut Squash Pot Pie

Birthdays were extra special treats in my house growing up. I loved the new gifts, the slumber parties and — I’ll admit — the attention. Most of all, I loved getting to have chicken pot pie.

I’m serious. Chicken pot pie was basically my favorite thing in the world back then. As in, “Thanks for the birthday cookie cake, but can I have another serving of the chicken pot pie?”

Since going vegetarian, it’s one of the things that I’ve missed the most. Until now, thanks to this delicious vegetarian version of pot pie. Rather than chicken, butternut squash is the star of this show.

Butternut Squash Pot Pie

Ingredients:

— Crust

  • 1 C whole-wheat flour
  • 1 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/4 t thyme
  • 1/4 oregano
  • Pinch of pepper
  • 1/4 t sugar
  • 1/4 C cold buttery spread, diced
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 1/3 C cold water

— Sauce

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 C buttery spread
  • 1 T whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 C vegetable broth
  • 1 T evaporated milk (can probably sub non-dairy to make vegan)
  • ~1 T white wine (optional)
  • 1/2 t thyme
  • 1/2 t rosemary
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

— Filling

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 bag mixed frozen vegetables

Directions:

— Crust

  • In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flours, salt, thyme, oregano, pepper and sugar. Pour into a food processor. Add in butter and olive oil. Pulse until the flour is crumbly. Add in water and pulse until the dough pulls away from the sides of the food processor. Turn dough out onto a floured sheet and knead it into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Note: This can be done up to five days in advance. This also makes more crust than absolutely necessary.

— Sauce

  • In a medium-sized sauce pan on medium heat, melt the buttery spread. Add in the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until onion is translucent.
  • Add in the flour and stir continuously for one minute. Slowly pour in the vegetable broth, whisking continuously. Add in evaporated milk, white wine, thyme and rosemary. Stir and reduce head to medium-low. Allow mixture to simmer for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.

— Filling

  • Toss the butternut squash with enough olive oil to lightly coat. Season with salt and pepper. Spread on a greased baking sheet and roast in a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  • In a large bowl, mix the roasted butternut squash with the steamed vegetables. Stir in the prepared sauce. Pour the mixture into a large casserole dish.
  • On a floured surface, roll half of the crust out so that it is large enough to extend slightly over the edges of the casserole dish. Carefully place dough over the casserole dish. Crimp edges down with a fork. Slit a hole in the middle of the dish, so that steam is able to escape.
  • Bake in a 375 degree oven for 18-20 minutes, until crust is lightly browned.

I could barely wait for the pot pie to cool before I sliced in. Such wholesome deliciousness!

Enjoy!

Oh, and remember that my birthday is only 25 days away. Just sayin’.

Question: Did you have a special birthday meal growing up?


Baked Sweet Potato Pasta

I’m sure it’s stating the obvious, but I need to admit that I am a bit peculiar if for no reason other than this: I really don’t like pasta sauces.

I love carbs, so you’d think I’d (literally) gobble up an excuse to eat bowls of pasta. I’ve just never been a big fan. In fact, during pre-race crabo-loading spaghetti dinners, I usually got a little pasta with a spoonful of red sauce. The rest of my meal was rounded out by breadsticks and cookies.

Very healthy meals, basically.

Since high school, I have learned that there is a whole big world beyond red or Alfredo sauces. Now, I love making pasta dishes, rich with vegetables and richer with flavors — and there’s a new favorite in this house.

Baked Sweet Potato Pasta

Adapted from Every Food Fits.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box (13.25 oz.) whole-grain pasta
  • 1 T buttery spread
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Olive oil, as necessary
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 C shredded mozzarella

Directions:

  • Scrub and clean potatoes. Pierce all over with fork. Wrap each potato in paper towels. Microwave for five minutes, flip potatoes and microwave for another five minutes. Set aside to cool.
  • Cook pasta according to box directions. Drain and toss with butter.
  • Heat a medium skillet to medium-high. Add a bit of olive oil and the diced onion. Saute for 4-5 minutes, until onion is translucent, adding more olive oil, if necessary. Add garlic and saute for one more minute. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Cut the cooled sweet potatoes in half. Carefully peel away and dispose of skin.
  • In a food processor, combine sweet potatoes, ~1/2 T olive oil, dashes of salt and pepper. Blend until mixture is smooth.
  • Toss the sweet potato mixture with the onions and the pasta and pour into a large casserole dish. Top with cheese.
  • Bake in a 375 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, until cheese is melted.

Loved the way this turned out — so creamy and rich-tasting. The two whole sweet potatoes + whole-grain pasta makes the dish quite nutritious, too.

If only parents had served this during my high school spaghetti feeds, I might have actually been a good cross-country runner…

Questions: What’s your favorite kind of pasta sauce? Do you have any weird food aversions?


Campfire cooking

I love being outdoors. I love hiking. I love swimming in fresh water. I love experiencing nature. But, after a long day of those activities, I also love heading back inside for my dinner.

That just wasn’t an option when we went camping last week. With the addition of Tracker and the fact that the nearest town was 30 minutes away, it just wasn’t feasible to go out to restaurants, which we did last time. Instead, Dan and I faced the task of preparing all of our meals at the campsite.

I was weary of how successful we’d be, but a little planning went a long way and we made it work.

Night No. 1: Grilled Personal Pizzas

Because this recipe required cheese, we made it on the first night when we knew our cooler would still be cold. Other than that, all the pizzas took were two simple ingredients: individual pizza sauce packages and whole-wheat pita pockets.

While I worked on prepping the pizzas, Dan got the campfire ready.

Then we flipped the grill down, placed the pizzas on a baking rack and let ’em heat until the cheese was slightly melted, about 3-5 minutes.

They worked out perfectly — and even passed the Tracker-approval test. (Although that doesn’t actually say much.)

Night No. 2: Vegetable Fajitas

We knew we’d have to get more creative on the second night, because it wasn’t a sure thing that food in the cooler would be ok anymore. To me, it was just a good excuse to make a vegetable-rich dish of fajitas with corn tortillas, sweet bell peppers, an onion, salsa and succotash.


Note: It turned out that we were able to pick up extra ice on the first night, so the cheese was still good to eat.

This recipe was a little more involved, in that I had to bring along a cutting board and a sharp knife, which I used to dice the onion and slice the peppers. Unlike last time, we also remembered to bring a can opener.

After building the fire again, I got one pot of the succotash and one non-stick pan of the diced onions going. We also made a large pan of vegetarian baked beans for extra protein.

Once the onions were browned and fragrant, I added in the sliced peppers.

I let the veggies cook for a while, mixing occasionally, until the peppers were also tender. Meanwhile, I just brought the pots of succotash and beans up to a simmer.

With all the food finished, Dan and I got to build our own fajitas. I went with a little corn, the pepper mixture, succotash and salsa on corn tortillas.

Simple and satisfying!

Question: Do you know of any good campfire meals?


Birthday with a roof

Ok, so I lied a little bit in yesterday’s post: We ended up driving back a night early.

It wasn’t an intentional lie, though. There was some weather moving in and we had such a great time camping that it was just as well to end on a high note!

(Side note: Tracker does not like to cooperate in family pictures.)

I’ll do some complete recaps later about our adventures and campfire cooking. The food actually turned out really, really well… But I am glad to be back in my kitchen now!

The stove is especially helpful, because Dan requested pancakes for his birthday breakfast.

What my baby wants, my baby gets.

Double Blueberry Pancakes

Adapted from my Fluffy, Strawberry-Stuffed Pancakes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 C unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or the milk of your choice)
  • 1 T milled flax-seed + 3 T water (alternatively, one egg)
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 C white whole-wheat flour
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/3 C dried blueberries
  • 1/3 C fresh (or frozen) blueberries

Directions:

  • In a small bowl, combine the flax with water. Set aside.
  • In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • In a small bowl, combine vanilla, milk and the flax-seed mixture.
  • Pour half of the milk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine until milk is worked in. Add the rest of the milk and stir until everything is combined and there is no more dry flour. Fold in the dried blueberries.
  • Heat a skillet to medium-high. If it isn’t non-stick, spray with greasing agent.
  • Ladle ~1/3 C worth of batter onto the hot pan. Sprinkle a few fresh blueberries on top. Allow to cook until the edges begin to look dry and a spatula can easily run around the pancake’s edge. Flip over and allow to cook for another two or three minutes, until slightly firmed to the touch. Note: Avoid flipping the pancake multiple times!
  • Repeat with remaining batter. This makes 6-10 medium-large pancakes.

With the pancakes fresh off the griddle, we moved outside for some al fresco dining. It was a little chilly, but nothing that hot coffee couldn’t help me handle.

For my ‘cakes, I channeled a peanut butter and jelly sandwich by adding crunchy peanut butter on top.

A splash of pure maple syrup rounded it out!

Although the pancakes were delicious, the best part of the morning was making Dan happy. (Cue, “Awwww!”)

For me, any day that starts with pancakes is automatically awesome. Remarkably, the day continued to get better as we drove out to Dan’s parents house for a wonderful birthday dinner, some great company and slices of delicious German’s chocolate cake.

That’s what’s so awesome about birthdays: It doesn’t even have to be your day to have a great time!

Questions: What season is your birthday in? What do you think is the best time of year to have birthdays?

I love my fall birthday! I used to feel bad for friends’ who had birthdays during summer or winter breaks, because they never got to celebrate in school. Now I envy them!