Une Vanilla-Pear Cupcake

There’s something rare about a pear.

No, really. That rhyme is purposeful, at least in our cultural context.

I think that we Americans, and some Amerikans, too, love our apples. It’s as American as apple… You already know what I’m going to say. And that, I think, proves my point.

But every once in a while, the American diet says “Bon voyage!” to this staple fruit and sets sail for a slightly different fruit alternative, le poire.

Pair that pear with a sweet cream cheese frosting, and you’ve got a winning combination.

Ingredients

3 T spelt or ww flour (or coconut flour for a gluten-free version)

dash of nutmeg and baking powder

2/3 T stevia

fresh lemon zest to taste

splash of vanilla

2 T nondairy milk

1 t organic vanilla yogurt

a few pear slices

Directions

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a muffin tin or silicone muffin cup. Set aside.

-In a small bowl, mix all dry ingredients; then blend in the wet ingredients. You can leave the pear out or you can mash some of the slices up for a very soft, fruit-puree dough.

-Transfer to prepared dish. Bake for about 10 minutes.

-While baking, mix 1 t Neufchatel cream cheese with 1 t stevia and a scant splash of vanilla. Microwave for 5-6 seconds if too thick. Blend until smooth. Set aside.

-Remove finished cupcake. Let cool a bit, and then spread frosting and top with extra pear slices.

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Instant Deep-Dish Oatmeal Cookie

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A lot of you say you read my recipes but never actually try them because it looks like they take too long to make. I often get told, “Yes, that sounds healthy and delicious, but why would I want to make just one? I’d make a whole batch instead… I don’t like getting all those ingredients for one little treat… Too much work… I’m tired…”SAM_4890

I’m not going to say those are excuses in my book, but I will give you a no-excuses recipe I think you’ll like. But first, a few reasons:

1. Do it for your bank account! Single servings save you money.

2. Do it because few leftovers are ever as good as their original selves.

3. Do it to save resources. How much of the materials and ingredients used to make multiple-serving recipes just end up stale and in the trash?SAM_4483

4. Do it for portion control. The one Americans understand the least.

5. Do it because it’s fun! I love to experiment with cooking/ baking, and single-serving recipes let me try lots of new types of cuisine. Some fail. Some are delicious.

On to the super simple deep-dish cookie…

Ready for this?

IngredientsSAM_4493

1 packet of oatmeal

1-2 T almond milk (or regular milk or yogurt)

optional: dash of baking powder, vanilla

and whatever mix-ins you like (I like cinnamon + peanut butter, and chocolate chips on top)

Directions

Empty out the oatmeal into a microwave-safe dish. Mix in milk or other substitute (you should add in about half of whatever the oatmeal directions specify so it’s not runny.SAM_4888

Mix well, but again, make sure it stays firm and wet, not soupy. If you’re not feeling too lazy, you can add in the dash of baking powder and vanilla. Top with whatever mix-ins you like. Microwave as directed. If not completely firmed up like a cookie, press sides together with the side of a spoon and microwave a tad longer or pop it into the broiler for a crispier finish.

It’s essentially like some of my baked oatmeal recipes and it’s delicious.

So, no excuses! Try it. I dare your lazy bones… šŸ˜‰

Sunrise Tortilla Egg Bowls

Want a breakfast that’s as bright as you are in the morning?

Okay, maybe you’re not as alert and enthusiastic as I am in the mornings–which I think frightened the poor students in my 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. sections of English 250–but your morning could be a lot brighter with this very simple tortilla bowl recipe.

Ingredients

1 whole-grain tortilla

cooking spray or vegan butter

3 egg whites

1 T non-dairy milk

desired spices for eggs (I always use cumin, plus dried cilantro and paprika this time)

sprinkle cheese of your choice

optional: salsa

Directions

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a muffin tin. Set aside.

-Heat a small frying pan to medium heat for a few minutes. Prepare eggs and milk and spices in a small bowl, mixing well. Once pan is hot, coat with a little cooking spray and begin scrambling eggs.

-Meanwhile, make the tortilla bowls by cutting the tortilla into three evenly sized triangles. I used Ā a pizza cutter for smooth edges. Press into muffin tin, folding as necessary to fit.

-Once eggs are nearly finished, start transferring to tortilla bowls. Distribute scrambled eggs evenly, and top with cheese and salsa, if you like. I also sprinkled the dried cilantro and paprika on top for a little color.

-Bake for 6-8 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the tortilla edges have started to crisp. Let stand and cool a few minutes before serving. Serve warm.

Deux Dark-Chocolate-Stuffed Crescents

In the spirit of all things faux-French, I had a rich and chocolate-y strike of insight…

Take new beloved pastry dough recipe. Fill with my favorite ingredient: dark chocolate.

If you remember my Healthified Pop Tarts recipe, you remember how impressed I was with the consistency and melt-in-your-mouth goodness of the dough.

I contemplated a chocolate-stuffed pop tart, but where’s the challenge in that? It would have been practically the same. So if you want a chocolate-filled pop tart, simply follow the recipe below and fill as you please.

But if you want to take a culinary trip abroad (well, sort of), try the same recipe with the following modifications:

1. Roll out dough and form into two triangles.

2. Use a pizza cutter to remove rough edges.

3. Place chocolate of choice on top of the triangles, keeping the chips a half inch or so from the sides.

4. Roll into crescents and lose yourself in some French folk music while you bake.

Recipe For Pastry Dough:

  • 1 T + 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 t baking stevia
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 t plain Chobani Greek Yogurt
  • 1.5 t vegan butter, diced at refrigerator temp.
  • 1.5 Ā T non-dairy milk
Directions:
  1. In a mixer combine flours, Stevia, and salt.
  2. Slowly add in milk and Chobani
  3. Beat in butter until thick. (You may have to add more flour if your butter is warm)
  4. Roll up dough and wrap it with plastic wrap.
  5. Place inĀ refrigeratorĀ until ready to use.
  6. After all the fillings are prepared take the dough out of theĀ refrigeratorĀ and roll out into a thin crust. Cut into 2x2in squares. Before you stack the dough make sure to sprinkle with flour to prevent sticking.
  7. Lay a sheet of wax paper onto a baking sheet and spray with Pam. Lay twelve of the dough sheets onto the pan. Add the fillings on top.
  8. Take the tips of the fork and press down the edges. Working with this dough is kind of like working with clay. The score marks will help the sides stick.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees for 7-8 minutes. Remove when the pastries are golden brown.

Hotcake Hearts Bar & Muffins

“Only boring people get bored.” quoth Ruth Burke.

I’m always looking for a new and crazy recipe inspiration, something odd and out there, and this is because I get bored easily with the most commonplace dishes that make up the American diet.

Does this mean I’m boring?

Or does the pursuit of new baking ideas make me an innovator? The antilogoi to boring?

Did you ever think food preparation could be so philosophical?

I did and do. Just read my “Philosophies & Such” page.

Or make this warm brunch treat and see what you can learn about yourself.

Makes 1 big hotcake heart or 6-7 mini muffins.

Ingredients

3 T nondairy milk

1/2 T melted vegan butter or applesauce

1/4 large egg or flax egg, mixed

1/2 T stevia

1/4 cup spelt or white whole wheat flour

dash of baking powder

splash of vanilla

optional: dash of salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease whatever pan you’d like to bake in. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix all dry ingredients. Then blend in wet.

Transfer to prepared dish and bake for 6-7 minutes for mini muffins, 10-12 for the hotcake heart.

Serve warm and top with whatever you like. Pure maple syrup is delicious, but so is my favorite cream cheese frosting.

Strawberry-Vanilla Heart Scone

I’m not much of a coffee-shop fly. This may be because I don’t drink coffee. I was never part of the cool, “I-can-not-function-without-my-morning-latte” crowd.

First world problems, right?

But what I do find interesting about coffee shops is the baked goods section. I love the fanciful displays of bagels, and muffins, and fresh scones.

But I know, and you probably do, too, that the way these beautiful baked goods are prepared is anything but pretty. The ugly truth is they’re probably loaded with preservatives, refined sugars, and hydrogenated oils. Sigh.

I’m not the type to give up and wallow in self-pity. I’ll just find a better way.

I made up this scone recipe one Saturday morning, and I’m going to drop the modesty curtain for a minute and just say what I’m thinking: This scone is good!

For a bit of a drier scone, use oil instead of yogurt and reduce to 2/3 t. For a very, very moist one, opt for the vanilla yogurt.

Ingredients

1/2 cup whole wheat bread flour

1 T stevia

3/4 T canola oil or organic vanilla yogurt

1/2 t instant yeast

1/2 cup warm (but not burning hot) water

splash of pure vanilla extract

1 medium-sized strawberry, diced

Directions

Mix all dry ingredients, except toppings, and then blend in oil/yogurt and water. Knead for a few minutes, and then let rest for about 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Set aside.

Once dough has rested, pick it up again and easily knead a bit, adding in a few more t warm water if it has dried out too much.

Roll dough into ball and set aside.

Pick up the dough ball and use your thumbs to gently work in chopped strawberries. Mold into a heart shape, and once ready, place the scone on cookie sheet and bake for about 13-15 minutes or until golden brown.

DIY: Cupcake Transport Idea

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Friends of mine might remember the adorable cupcake presentation boxes I had for my letter writers when I was applying to M.A. programs two years ago.SAM_4837

Another round of excellent and supportive letter writers put up with my numerous reminders and gushing thank you’s again, this time for doctoral programs.

There’s a lot changing in my life right now, but craftiness and my cooking-to-relax routines are not. This time, it was a healthful little blueberry muffin. It needed delicate transport and it needed to be as cute as I was thankful. My favorite culinary truth: Eating is 50% presentation.

So I found this great little idea on Pinterest. Put a muffin or cupcake in a small plastic cup. Wrap with whatever kind of wrapping you like–I used treat bags from Michael’s–tie up in a pretty bow and take them anywhere. The cups keep the treats sturdy and upright. The bag gives the pizzazz.

Oh, and the most important part, the muffin, makes everything sweet. I hope they liked my thank you’s. I’m thinking of baking something for them again because I had so much fun tucking them into their mailboxes.

Sweetheart Strawberry Pastry Pie

Have someone you love? Want to make them something special this Valentine’s Day?

That’s very nice. And while you do that, make something sweet for yourself, like this delicious sweetheart pastry.

To make one big heart pastry, simply follow my beloved healthy pastry dough recipe. But of course, form into two heart shapes. Top one with filling (1 medium-sized strawberry, chopped and blended with 1 t cream cheese frosting or 1 t organic vanilla yogurt). Lay the second heart over the top and press the edges closed with a fork.

Delicious is that easy. It only takes a few minutes, and it tastes so much better than anything you’d buy from the grocery store. Homemade baked goods always taste better.

Recipe For Pastry Dough:

  • 1 T + 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 t baking stevia
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 t plain Chobani Greek Yogurt
  • 1.5 t vegan butter, diced at refrigerator temp.
  • 1.5 Ā T non-dairy milk
Directions:
  1. In a mixer combine flours, Stevia, and salt.
  2. Slowly add in milk and Chobani
  3. Beat in butter until thick. (You may have to add more flour if your butter is warm)
  4. Roll up dough and wrap it with plastic wrap.
  5. Place inĀ refrigeratorĀ until ready to use.
  6. After all the fillings are prepared take the dough out of theĀ refrigeratorĀ and roll out into a thin crust. Cut into 2x2in squares. Before you stack the dough make sure to sprinkle with flour to prevent sticking.
  7. Lay a sheet of wax paper onto a baking sheet and spray with Pam. Lay twelve of the dough sheets onto the pan. Add the fillings on top.
  8. Take the tips of the fork and press down the edges. Working with this dough is kind of like working with clay. The score marks will help the sides stick.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees for 7-8 minutes. Remove when the pastries are golden brown.

Mini Cherry Crunch Pie

Need a pie fix quick?

I’m not a huge pie fan, especially not fruit pies, but there’s something sweet about this little mini cherry pie. I like it. So much that I might try the same recipe with blueberries.

And peaches.

And maybe apples, too?

You could probably sub any fruit you like. Enjoy!

Ingredients

2 T oats

1 T white whole wheat flour (or spelt)

1 T stevia

1/2 T cinnamon

1 T nondairy milk

2-3 cherries, chopped

optional: 1 t organic light brown sugar

Directions

-Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a mini pie dish or ramekin with a rounded bottom. Set aside.

-Combine all ingredients, except cherries in a small bowl. Mix well.

-Place half of mixture in the prepared dish. Press down to form a thick-ish crust.

-The next layer should be the cherries. Spread evenly, but don’t place cherries along the outer edges.

-Take remaining dough and pat into a flat cookie-like patty. Place over cherry layer and pinch sides shut. Slice vents in the top if you like.

-Bake for about 6-7 minutes. Likewise, you could also try microwaving this little pie for 90 seconds.

Pomegranate Sorbet

Pomegranate is one of those super fruits you often hear about, but rarely see (or notice, maybe) in your local grocery store, which is too bad because from what I’ve been reading lately, the health benefits are out of this world. It’s loaded with vitamins and minerals, fights various cancers, heart disease, lymphomas, and much more. Plus, it’s an anti-oxidant powerhouse. We’re talking the Chuck Norris of super foods.

Before this recipe, I had never really had pomegranate aside from the occasional store-bought juice or restaurant salad dressing.

So when I crossed paths with this little pink fruit, I was intrigued. What could I do with it?

My impulse buying side didn’t really case. I’d find something, and sure enough I did. Fruit + ice cream maker + nondairy milk base = healthy dessert perfection.

Ingredients

1/3 cup nondairy milk (I use almond, unsweetened)

3 T organic vanilla yogurt (coconut yo tastes great with this recipe)

1/2 T stevia

splash of vanilla

juice of 1 pomegranate

Directions

-In a small mixer or blender, place all ingredients except the fruit, which you can squeeze into the blender to prevent too many seeds from falling in.

-Blend ’til smooth and well mixed. Prepare in ice cream maker as directed. Spoon out and let the sorbet firm up in the freezer for a few minutes. Top with remaining seeds if you like.

If you’re thinking food dye made that lovely purple color, think again. That’s all-natural coloring. Mother Nature’s dessert presentation skills at their finest, coaxing us with vibrantly tempting colors, I suppose.