Tag Archives: baking

Baking makes everything better

Can I just title every Sunday “Sundays are for baking Part IV”?

After Diana’s brunch, Brad and I swung by the mall to buy one of those wallets you can hide under your clothes to evade the Italian pick-pocketers.

On our way home, I felt really bleh.  I almost felt hungover…tired, slight headache, generally blah feeling.  Maybe my 10 mile run took more out of me than I thought.  I’m not sore at all (which is freaking amazing!), but I just felt off.  I know that I was not dehydrated.  I drunk so much in the past two days.  I made at least five trips to the ladies’ room during my bridesmaid luncheon because I had drank so much water.  Brad suggested that I might be over-hydrated, but I didn’t think so.

When we returned home, Brad continued working on my blog.  We’re slowly getting everything sorted out.  Can I just say that he’s so incredibly sweet to do all this for me?  I can’t wait to release the new look.  I’m crossing my fingers it’s before the wedding, but it might end up being later this month when we return from the honeymoon.

When my soon-to-be mother-in-law visited this weekend, she brought us a bunch of beautiful little pears.

You know I can’t stand to see anything go to waste, and with us going to Italy on Sunday, I had to do something with these pears.  I thought about freezing them and decided against it.

Instead, I decided to have a pear baking extravaganza.  It was either this or a nap.  Baking trumps napping any day for me.

Before baking, I snacked on a La Croix and a mini chocolate coconut date truffle.

See how tiny in my child-size hand?

Not  the best photo.

Pear Crisp

3 cups chopped pears

2 Tbsp. cinnamon

1/2 Tbsp. nutmeg

5 servings of Stevia

3/4 cup oats

2 Tbsp. cold real butter

Place pears in casserole dish and mix well with spices and Stevia.  Top with oats and cut cold butter into small slivers to top oats.  Bake on 350 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour.

And next…

Pear bread

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup spelt flour

1/4 cup ground flax seed

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp.  baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. cinnamon

2 1/2 cups shredded pears

10 dates, pitted and pureed in food process

1 egg + 1/2 cup egg whites (4 egg whites)

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix all dry ingredients well.  Mix wet ingredients and all fruit.  Add wet ingredients to dry and stir well (I used my kitchen aid stand mixture because the dough was so thick).  Grease a bread pan with cooking spray and pour bread mixture into pan.  Bake on 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 35 minutes or until you can pierce the center with a knife and it comes out clean.

Baking made everything better for me this afternoon.  It even made me feel good enough to do an easy 30 minutes on the elliptical + 2 circuits of arm and shoulder exercises.

In other news, I’ve caved and bought the Nike Tempo Shorts.  I bought these in pink and yellow.  As much as I love Target and think their workout clothes are super inexpensive, none of their shorts fit the same consistently, even the same brands.  The Finish Line is running a great deal on these shorts and so is Nike.com.  I couldn’t resist.

Do you have any favorite workout clothing brands?  Do new workout clothes encourage you to workout?  It does for me! 🙂

I’m going to be buying new running shoes soon and am thinking about switching from my trusty Aasics so I would love to hear what shoes other runners swear by as well.

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Domestic Sunday

I hate housework during the week when I’m rushed and don’t have time to wash and fold clothes in addition to cook dinner, pack my lunch, exercise, etc.  BUT, I almost like housework on the weekends when I have no where to be and no obligations.

The laundry at my house has become out of control in the past two weeks.  I’ve washed clothes, but have had absolutely no time to fold any.  Because I have run out of places to stash the unfolded clean clothes, the dirty clothes were starting to pile up as well, since my dryer was my last stashing location. Wow, this sounds worse as I type it.

Today I planned on spending a good portion of the day getting the laundry back in order.

Back from our long walk, I showered and made a quick lunch of  leftover salsas from last night.

My salad was a base of arugula with both the black bean corn salsa and the mango salsa, plus avocado, a big dollop of Greek yogurt, and some green onion.  I had some tortilla chips on the side plus about four more I snacked on while making lunch.

Just in case you’re wondering the ingredients of the salsas are…

Black bean/corn salsa

1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 bag frozen corn (thawed or nuked for a minute or two)

1 large beefcake tomato or 2-3 small on the vine tomatoes

1/3 cup chopped cilantro

juice of 1 lemon

salt to taste

Mango Salsa

1 mango sliced

1 red bell pepper chopped

1/2 large red onion finely chopped

1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

juice of 1/2 lemon

salt to taste

I also had some cherries and strawberries in my new Pottery Barn snack bowls, courtesy of my brother and sister-in-law. 🙂

I then got started with my laundry chores by starting a new load of laundry, but somehow got distracted from folding by the kitchen.  It was calling my name, I swear.

First up, my homemade granola.  I followed the exact same directions as last week.  It’s kinda scary that we went through that much granola so quickly.  It was mainly me, although Brad did have some as well when I showed him how tasty it is on a SIAB.  I love this recipe and I might change some of the ingredients in the future just to mix it up, but the base of oats, flax seed mill, and applesauce will be the same.  It’s just so good.

Next up, I started on a little baking experiment that turned out edible, but not as good as I hoped.

Sunflower Seed Coconut Bars

1 cup spelt flour

1 cup oat bran

1/4 cup tapioca flour

1 cup light coconut juice

1/2 cup apple sauce

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1/4 cup sunflower seed butter

1/3 cup unsweetened coconut

3/4 tsp. salt

8 tiny spoonfuls of stevia

1/8 cup agave

Honey for drizzling

more sunflower seeds and coconut for sprinkling on the top

Mix all the ingredients together except the last two.  (I know, I’m a bad baker for not doing wet ingredients separately from the dry ingredients.) Spread evenly in a square glass pan lined with wax paper.  Sprinkle lightly with coconut and sunflower seeds.  Bake on 350 degrees Farenheit for 35 minutes.  Allow to cool, then drizzle with honey and cut into 16 squares.

I’m always worried when I post about Stevia, that someone is not going to understand what I mean by tiny spoonfuls, resulting in a baking disaster.

This is the kind of Stevia I use.  It’s from TJ’s and has a super tiny spoon.  The container is about the size of a salt shaker.  The spoon is about the size of my pinky and I have child hands.

Even with all the sweetner, it wasn’t enough.  These bars had a good flavor but the sweetness was definitely lacking.  If it’s not dessert, I don’t want food to be too sweet.  I don’t think I’ve gotten the knack for baking with Stevia yet.  I’m just never sure how much to add.  I want to try these again but I think I would add more sunflower seed butter and maybe 1/4 cup brown sugar.  I ran out of agave so maybe if I had added 1/4 cup instead of an 1/8, it would have turned out better.  More coconut would probably improve the flavor as well.  I am almost out of honey so I ended up putting not quite as much as I wanted because it was so difficult to get out of the container.

This recipe is completely vegan, until you add the honey.  This would be easy to omit and use agave or maple syrup instead.

I’ll still be eating these probably with jam and sunflower seed butter.  The texture is really nice and fluffy.  I wanted a fluffier bar, not a dense bar.  This turned out to be a good balance between the two.

With my baking bug cured, I set off to face the laundry.  Half way through I snacked on a small corner of the sunflower seed coconut bars (it crumbled because I didn’t allow it to cool before I removed it from the pan) and tried my first Honest Tea.  The white peach flavor was really refreshing and just slightly sweet.

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Butternut squash & carrot muffins

I made these months ago, but because I’m a bad blogger and didn’t take a single photo, there was not photographic documentation of my muffin endeavor.  On a whim, I bought two bags of frozen butternut squash with no idea what I wanted to do with them.  I have used canned pumpkin in gingerbread before, so I thought a butternut squash muffin might be a hit.  When I made this recipe up, months ago, I also had some carrots on their last leg, so that ended up being shredded and put in the mix as well.  The muffins were so moist and delicious, I followed the recipe again for the much later second batch.

Dry ingredients:

1 1/2 cup almond meal (190 grams)

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

Wet ingredients:

1 cup shredded carrot (I used my KitchenAid mixer attachment)

1 cup butternut squash

1 Tbsp. grape seed oil

1/4 cup agave syrup

1 Tbsp. molasses

1 egg white

Here’s a simple trick for wet ingredients involving oil and sticky substances like molasses.  Always use your tablespoon to add the oil first, then when you use the same measuring spoon for something super sticky like molasses, it will slide right off due to the lubrication of the oil.  See?

Mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately, then mix both mixtures together.  Spray non-stick spray in 9 cups of a muffin tin and fill with muffin batter about 2/3 full.  The batter should only fill 9 cups.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-35 minutes.

This second attempt was just as good as the first.  Almond meal doesn’t really rise, but these muffins are very moist from the butternut squash and very delicious.  I like mine with a bit of pumpkin butter or jam, but Brad says they don’t need a thing.  I like keeping small muffins around to have one with a smoothie or even as a snack before a run.  These are definitely a keeper! 🙂

If you’re a Charlottean or are curious about what the city has to offer.  Check out my first article as the Charlotte Fresh Food Examiner for Examiner.com.

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