Monday, April 30, 2007

Superwoman I am not.

Welcome to our home. Wouldn't you like to stay a while?

Yep, us neither. We move on May 4th, have a busy four day weekend of unpacking planned and then hopefully life will return to normal.

Just a few short weeks ago, I approached the task of moving, working full-time, tutoring multiple children and keeping my blog updated with the utmost confidence. "I am SUPERWOMAN!" I thought. I was positive that I could do all of those things, and keep cooking interesting meals, all while writing interesting and witty blog posts.

You can see how well that turned out.

Yep, we're living in boxes. In the morning, we hop out of bed and scoot around boxes. In the kitchen, I half-heartedly attempt to use up random food as I dodge boxes. The only one happy is Helios. He is a cardboard-loving cat, and there is plenty of cardboard for him to love these days.

So that's my story... I'm looking forward to the summer when I can devote more time to my neglected blog. I hope you'll hang in there with me!

Monday, April 16, 2007

M&M Cookie Deliciousness!

Where does the time go? I've actually been quite busy in the kitchen. I've baked several delicious things lately, and made several excellent meals (if I may say so myself! :) ). Still, as always, life gets in the way. It's report card season again, and that plus preparations for packing, moving and M.'s recent birthday have kept me busy. I doubt it'll get much better in the next few weeks as we get ready to move. But I'll try to keep up!

Here's something I made to take to New Jersey for Easter. I'd originally thought of making a cake, but having an interview in the city before leaving for the weekend made manipulating a cake on the subway seem unappealing. M&M cookies popped into my head, and were a nice easy cookie to make.

I found a recipe on and then made my own changes to it. I did go back to try to link to the original recipe, but I couldn't find it again. My searches for M&M cookie came up empty. A little strange but ... oh well!

Here's the recipe. I would definitely make this cookie again. It was easy, had a nice chewy yet crisp proportion and was completely addictive!

M&M Cookie
originally found at

1 cup Brown Sugar
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups M&Ms

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients into a medium mixing bowl.

In large mixing bowl, cream sugar and butter with electric mixer or stand mixer. Add eggs, mixing for a minute after each one. Add vanilla, and beat for a minute before scraping down sides and beating again.

Add dry ingredients by half cupfuls until just mixed. Stir in 3/4 cup M&Ms.

Chill for 20 minutes ago, or until cooled and firm. Use dough scoop or tablespoon to measure out dough on to a cookie sheet. Press several of remaining 3/4 cup of M&Ms into top of cookies. Bake for 9-11 minutes (nine will be chewier, eleven will be crispier).

Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. Will keep for several days in airtight container.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Movin' Movin' Movin'

The Veggie Kitchen will be moving in about a month. As you can see, Helios is tired already. What does that mean right now? Not much. I'm hoping to keep cooking through at least the next couple of weeks. Perhaps the meals will become a bit more eccentric as I use up the wonderful treasures I found in my pantry organization session yesterday (four pounds of red lentils anybody? Anybody?). But this impending move has greatly affected my spring break. We're hoping to move in May sometime, and since April 1st has passed the May apartments are springing up like flowers! I've met with 2 brokers, and I've seen two apartments. Tonight M. and I are seeing three more. And I'm awaiting a possible call to see a fourth in the next hour! It's exhausting this moving thing, and we haven't even started yet.

So, in my downtime between brokers and phone calls and internet searches, I decided to make an old favorite. This recipe comes from one of my favorite blogs and I remember loving it the first time around. Unfortunately this time around wasn't such a big hit. And I don't think that's the recipe's fault, instead I think it is what happens when you A. double a recipe, B. use up older ingredients and C. find out after you've added it that your nutmeg (because you're out of ginger apparently) doesn't smell great. I had hoped this vegan cake would go to M.'s office tomorrow, since he has a vegan coworker who misses out on the usual baked goods I send in. But now I'm not sure. We'll see... perhaps allowing the cake to cool a bit will help.

So, my changes were to use all whole wheat flour since I'm out of all-purpose. I subbed nutmeg (both the not so great and then more fresh grated to try and mask the not so great nutmeg) and a splash of cardamom (because I'm just loving cardamom right now).

If this cake sounds at all appealing to you I urge you to try it, since I think my less then spectacular results were a result of the ingredients.

Coconut Chai Breakfast Cake
Susan V. of Fat Free Vegan

1 cup strong chai tea
1/3 cup uncooked quick (not instant) oatmeal
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger (use more for a spicier cake)
3/4 cup vegan sugar (I used demerara)
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tbsp vinegar
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup flaked coconut, 2 tbsp reserved

Prepare the chai ahead of time by steeping two teabags (I used decaffeinated Tazo Chai) in one cup of boiling water until cool.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.

Combine the dry ingredients (oatmeal through sugar) in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the chai, applesauce, vinegar, extracts, and all but 2 tablespoons of the coconut. Mix well, and pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the reserved coconut and bake for about 25 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Carrot Cake - Cooking Light April 2007

I just can't get enough of baking these days. I tell myself I'm "using up ingredients before we move" but I think some baking bug has just grabbed me lately. Luckily for M.'s coworkers, the bug is showing no sign of slowing down. For some reason I was totally in the mood for carrot cake this weekend. Not a craving I have very often, but it was a craving I simply had to cater to. So, I took my trusty copy of April's Cooking Light in one hand and my trusty hand mixer in the other and I made some carrot cake!

I did make one major change. I do not care for nuts in baked goods. I barely care for nuts, but if I do choose to enjoy them, they must be solo. So, I left out the pecans. Otherwise I followed the recipe as is, and was thrilled by how easy and tasty it was. The finished cake was moist, spicy and had all the elements of the finest carrot cake for a fraction of the fat. The icing was perhaps a touch runny as opposed to the more typical buttercream-like texture, however it tasted great. And the feedback I got from M.'s coworkers indicated that they agreed. :)

Sorry about the poor lighting on the pictures. I guess it was darker in my kitchen then I thought...

Carrot Cake
Cooking Light - April 2007

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (about 6 3/4 ounces)
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/3 cup chopped pecans
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 large eggs
2 cups grated carrot
1 1/2 cups canned crushed pineapple, drained
Cooking spray

2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 (8-ounce) block 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Additional grated carrot (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare cake, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, coconut, pecans, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk. Combine oil and eggs; stir well. Stir egg mixture, grated carrot, and pineapple into flour mixture. Spoon batter into a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.

To prepare frosting, combine butter and cream cheese in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Beat in powdered sugar and vanilla just until smooth. Spread frosting over top of cake. Garnish each serving with grated carrot, if desired.

Yield: 16 servings (serving size: 1 piece)

CALORIES 322 (29% from fat); FAT 10.4g (sat 4.2g,mono 3.2g,poly 1.5g); PROTEIN 4.1g; CHOLESTEROL 40mg; CALCIUM 29mg; SODIUM 403mg; FIBER 1.4g; IRON 1mg; CARBOHYDRATE 54.4g

Cooking Light, APRIL 2007

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Cinnamon-Cardamom Squares

I love any opportunity to bake. When a good friend offered to cook an Indian feast for M., me and a few other friends, I welcomed the chance to try a new recipe. The recipe for Dorie Greenspan's Cinnamon Squares practically jumped at me when I took From My Home to Yours down off the shelf. I looked at a couple others, but I kept returning to the Cinnamon Squares. I had all the ingredients, and I even thought that if I added a touch of cardamom to the recipe, it would compliment our Indian feast perfectly.

And the results were divine. The cake is spicy and flavorful with a strong cinnamon and cardamom taste. Still the combination of the flavors remain balanced, especially in contrast to the chocolate. The chocolate frosting compliments the cake perfectly, and the touch of espresso added a new richness and dimension of flavor to the combination of flavors. The cake was easy to prepare, and the results were easy to transport to the dinner. This will be one for the tried-and-true files!

Cinnamon-Cardamom Squares
adapted from Dorie Greenspan's From My Home to Yours
serves 9

For the Cake
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 T plus 2 1/2 t cinnamon (I used 1 T plus 2 t cinnamon, and 1/2 cardamom)
1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder (I used freshly ground espresso beans)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 t baking powder
pinch of salt
3/4 cup whole milk (I used 1%)
2 large eggs
1/2 t vanilla
1 stick plus 2 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 oz bittersweet chocolate finely chopped (or 1/2 cup mini-chocolate chips)

For the Frosting
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 1/2 T unsalted butter, cut into four pieces

Getting Ready
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8 inch square baking pan, and line bottom with parchment or wax paper. Place pan on a baking sheet.

To Make the Cake
Stir two tablespoons of the sugar, 2 1/2 of the cinnamon (or cinnamon/cardamom) and the espresso together in a small bowl.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, the remaining 1 1/4 cups sugar, the baking powder, salt and the remaining 1 T of cinnamon. In another bowl, mix together milk, eggs and vanilla. Pour the liquid ingredients over the flour mixture, and whisk gently until you have a homogenous batter. Now, using the whisk or rubber spatula, fold in the butter with a light touch until the butter is absorbed. You'll have a smooth satiny batter.

Scrape half of the batter into the pan. Smooth the top. Sprinkle the chocolate over the batter, and dust with the cinnamon-cardamom-sugar mixture. Cover the rest of the batter, and smooth the top again.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until cake is puffed and beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. A thin knife inserted into the middle will come out clean. Transfer cake to a cooling rack, and let it rest for 15 minutes before unmolding it onto another rack. Peel off the paper, invert it onto the first rack, and cool to room temperature right side up.

To Make the Frosting
Put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl, and fit the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Cook, stirring gently and often, just until they melt. Be careful not to overheat mixture, the chocolate should be smooth, very shiny, thick and spreadable.

Using an offset metal icing spatula, or table knife, spread frosting in generous sweeps and swirls over the top of the cake. Allow frosting to set at room temperature. Cut cake into 9 squares, each with about 2 1/2 inches on a side.