Five Minute Crusty White Bread

 I am not a baker.  I am a bad baker.  I mess up practically every baked good that involve more than adding water, oil, and eggs to a mix.  It's a sad fact I have come to accept.  This recipe, however, is virtually impossible to mess up.  It is fantastic.  And fast, and delicious.

Not only is it simple, but versatile too.  I make standard loafs, bread bowls, pizza crust, bread sticks, and so much more from this simple dough I keep in my fridge.


5 Cheese Pizza with Honey, Prosciutto, & Truffle Oil (Copy Cat Finch's Dordogne Pizza)

There are many things I love about Bloomington: the gorgeous landscape, the culture, the diverse (temperamental...) climate, the architecture, and most of all the food.  Bloomington boasts some absolutely delicious local restaurants; so knowing that my time here is waning, I've taken a greater interest in copying my favorite dishes.  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, no? 
One of my absolute favorite menu items in town is from Finch's Brasserie, a restaurant that 'features local and organic products from area farms and cheese artisans'.  They have a really great seasonal menu, but I pretty much can't resist ordering my favorite pizza every time.  It's called The Dordogne, named after a region in France.  Their version has four cheeses, truffle honey, and prosciutto.  While my recipe isn't exactly the same (Anyone know where to find truffle honey in Bloomington?), the flavor is all there.

Turkey Enchiladas

 These enchiladas taste really good.  What makes'em better is that you can make them way ahead, and then refrigerate or freeze them, and just bake'm off right before you need to eat.  It's kind of like Stoufer's lasanga lasagna, only tastier, and easier to spell.


Strawberry Ginger Non-Dairy Soft Serve

After making the most delicious chewy chocolate chip cookies yesterday, and eating three of said cookie as I cooked dinner this evening... I couldn't justify a terribly decadent dessert.  I could however, justify a delicious serving of strawberry ginger 'soft serve'... or maybe two servings :)

Better than Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sometimes at 9:00 at night, you just really need a chocolate chip cookie.  And sometimes you have so many dishes in the sink and your kitchen is such a mess you can't actually bake cookies until your kitchen is clean, two hours late. By which point you're tired and hungry and eat far more than that singular chocolate chip cookie you intially desired.  Whoops.  It's okay though, these cookies are so satisfying they justify the calories (or so I tell myself), and so satisfying that you might want to eat 17.  But I won't tell if you do.


Vegetable Fried Rice

  • 3 cups already cooked rice
  • 1/2 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbs Soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp roasted red chili paste
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups diced veggies (I like carrots, bell peppers, green peas, and water chestnuts)
  1. Heat 1 tsp vegetable oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Scramble egg, add to pan, and cook until no longer wet.  Set aside in a bowl.
  2. Heat vegetable oil in the same pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Add your choice of vegetables (minus frozen peas if you're using them) and saute until 3-4 minutes, until cooked but still crisp.
  4. Add garlic, 1 Tbs soy sauce, and chili paste.  Stir until chili paste is incorporated
  5. Add rice and additional soy sauce. Stir fry until rice become a shade of brown.
  6. Add the cooked egg and green peas.
  • Meat or tofu can be added. I recommend using already cooked beef, shrimp, or chicken, or browning the tofu separate. Add the meat with the egg and peas.
  • The amount of soy sauce is completely up to you. My soy sauce is aged to salty ridiculousness so I usually use less than 2 Tbs.  If you like it strong, use more than 2 Tbs.


Creamy Poppyseed Pasta Salad

Today, I tried to shoot photos of the process of making this pasta salad... this is what I ended up with.  Hungry Jenna is not Patient Jenna.... And apparently hungry Jenna also speaks in the third person.  There are so many reasons I shouldn't be hungry.

How to make this pasta salad


Cranberry Cornmeal Pancakes

One of my favorite undergrad memories was when a roommate decided to make pancakes.  She offered me pancakes as well, and of course I accepted.  Who declines pancakes?!  Well, thirty minutes later I had a plate of beautiful, golden brown pancakes sitting in front of me waiting to be devoured.   I eagerly dug in, only to discover that while lovely, these pancakes we raw in the middle; ooey-gooey, runny, raw.  One bite in, we both stopped, exchanged glances, and burst out laughing.  So much for pancakes that day...

These pancakes are much different than those oozey ones.  They have a crispy outside and subtly sweet flavor, punctuated by tart cranberries.  I wish I could take all the credit for the idea, but alas, I cannot.  A cute little restaurant in Chicago, called The Bongo Room, is where I first ordered cranberry cornmeal pancakes.  It's been a good while since I had those, but I think these come pretty close to measuring up :)


Copy Cat Panda Express Orange Chicken

There is this game I play, all by myself, every day on my way home from work--it's incredibly fun.  It's called See if you can come up with something good for dinner based on only what's in your house, before you pass the last grocery store.  Ever heard of anything that sounds funner?  It consists of scouring recipes/Pinterest at stoplights, and perpetually reminding myself that while I call salad dinner, the sir in my life does not.  Yesterday I planned on having sandwiches for dinner, but then I realized I didn't have satisfactory bread on hand, or really anything to make it more exciting than bread, meat, & lettuce.  And, while an average sandwich like that is acceptable for lunch, I have this notion that a sandwich for dinner needs to be exciting.  Like fancy cheese, avacado, arugula, heirloom tomato-exciting.  So alas, if I made sandwiches I would have to go the the grocery, and lose my game (which I do on pretty much a daily basis.... but I was feeling motivated yesterday!)  Thus, orange chicken was born.  It consists of mostly pantry staples (and because of my inexplicable affinity for Asian food, I had it all on hand...) and comes together pretty quickly.  Plus, it earned a high-five from the sir, so you know it's good.


Healthy Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies

 I get really excited about Fall, because it means beautiful foliage, and pumpkin everything.  So, the other day I had this streak of brilliance and decided I needed to make non-dairy pumpkin yogurt.  While in theory, it was an awesome idea, I failed epically.  But upon my culinary defeat, I had an extra cup of pumpkin to use and alas these cookies were born, and far from a culinary defeat they were.  Plus, who doesn't love the notion of eating a cookie (or four) for breakfast--and at only about 50 calories a cookie, you totally can.


Creamy Honey Mustard Dressing

So, I have this sister-in-law and she's magic. Seriously. I like ANYTHING she feeds me, even things that have spent decades on my list of least favorite foods.  She's converted me to mayonnaise (although I still won't spread it on a sandwich), mustard (which I eagerly spread on sandwiches), enchiladas,  pasta salad, and a bunch of foods I previously considered offensive for one reason or another.  This conversion isn't a small feat either, I was the pickiest child in the world.  I basically lived on refried beans and plain noodles as a kid--gourmet, I know.
Ever since I discovered mustard is actually really good, I've been finding ways to include it in everything and even made my own (which despite the simplicity of making mustard was a total fail, 4 entire cups of total fail that are still sitting in my fridge, to be precise...).  My new favorite use for mustard, however is this creamy, tangy, sweet and surprisingly healthy salad dressing.  Its great on lettuce (or should I say with lettuce... I practically use a 1:1 ratio...), as a dressing for pasta salad, or as a veggie dip.  You should probably try it :)


Creamy White Bean & Artichoke Dip

 I'll write something exciting later... I have dishes to wash.
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise*
  • 3/4 cup canned white beans
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 shallot, quartered
  • 1/2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground mustard
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper
  • 14 oz can artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1/4 cup sliced pickled jalapeños, drained
  1. Put everything except the artichoke hearts and jalapeños in a food processor or blender and zap until creamy.  Add the artichokes and jalapeños and pulse until they are incorporated, but still offer a bit of texture.
  2. Serve with pita chips, tortilla chips, celery sticks, or other veggies.  Keeps about a week in the fridge, although the jalapeño flavor will strengthen.
  • I generally use great northern beans, because it's what I always have in my pantry.  Cannellini beans will yield the creamiest dip.
  • If you like a milder heat, a 4oz can of green chilis can be subbed for the jalapeños.
  •  If you plan on using the dip immediately, you can sub in Greek yogurt for the mayonnaise, it simply won't last as long in the fridge.

I Know This Isn't a Recipe...

But it's totally food-related.  I swear.

So, this last weekend I headed back to St. Louis for a bridal shower.  It was the first bridal shower I have ever been to, and it coincidentally was also my own. 

The outpouring of kindness was completely overwhelming.  I received so many kind gifts and sincere wishes, many from people whom know my family more than me personally.  It was such a wonderful day.  Not to mention, I got so many kitchen goodies, I can barely keep my composure thinking about it.  Seriously, wedding showers are way better than birthdays-- nobody sings to you, you're not getting any older, and everything you get is incredibly useful [and often kitchen-related :) ]. 

While I haven't been posting a ton of new recipes just yet, I have certainly been cooking, a lot.  The recipes should follow soon.  Until then, you can look at all the pretty things I got for my kitchen.  They make me giddy.


Coconut Caramel Cinnamon Rolls

Poor coconut caramel cinnamon rolls.  I made them all the way back in June, and just now remembered to blog them.  My forgetfulness, however, has absolutely nothing to do with the flavor of these babies, because they are absolutely delicious.  Not to mention they are vegan... which means healthy.... right?!


Creamy Cashew Chicken Salad

Does anyone else eat weird breakfasts?  For instance, through middle school, I at a PB&J sandwich every day at the bus stop at the crack of dawn.  After awhile, if I brought a waffle instead, my classmates found that strange.  Well, my eclectic breakfast habits have only elevated since then... I woke up this morning, opened my fridge, and passed up my yogurt, fruit, etc and decided I wanted chicken salad.  So I made chicken salad, but not just any heavy, oily chicken salad--this is special chicken salad--guilt-free chicken salad.  Cashews provide the creaminess, while white grape juice concentrate lends a tangy sweetness, all punctuated by crunchy grapes, celery and just a hint of soy sauce.  This stuff made me a chicken salad believer.


Oatmeal Raisinet Cookies

I have a confession.  I am a cookie discriminator.  When someone brings cookies to an event, or you get a plate for Christmas, or any other situation arises where a variety of cookies is available, I would altogether pass on a cookie than eat an oatmeal raisin cookie.  There is something about raisins in a cookie that just makes me kind of sad.  (Or it may just be the raisins that make me sad... Benny & Joon, anyone?)  Anyhow, the point is, when you cover said humiliated grapes in dark chocolate, the whole cookie is transformed.  And now incredibly delicious.  I made these cookies quite a while ago, and realized I didn't blog them.  So when I saw Raisinets on sale at the grocery I decided I needed to make them again, just to blog them... not at all because they are incredibly tasty or anything....


Bacon Jam

I know, I know, I'm way late on this outrageous foodie trend.  I've been meaning to try it since I saw a food truck that used it on their burgers featured on Food Network practically a year ago, I'm just an incredibly skilled procrastinator.  I'm telling you, if procrastination was a more marketable skill, maybe I wouldn't be so unemployed.  Since it's not, I should probably start making this stuff in huge batches and bringing it with me on job interviews, because that way even if they won't hire me, maybe they'll call me back for another jar of this smokey, sweet, salty goodness.


Chewy Ginger Cookies with Cardamom

Everyone has their weird food tastes.  Mine is ginger.  I adore the stuff.  I have ginger cravings, which can only be satisfied by obscene quantities of candied ginger.  Yeah, it totally makes my mouth burn, and it's wonderful.  Most people crave ice cream, brownies, or chocolate chip cookies, nope not me.  I crave ginger snaps.  These ginger snaps are perfect- a strong gingery bite, a chewy moist center, and crunchy raw sugar coating, all punctuated by a lovely undertone of cardamom.

What's your strangest food craving?

Apricot Goat Cheese Thin Crust Pizza

Sometimes I think I'm un-American.  I don't like grilled cheese, pizza, or chicken pot pie.  I don't drink beer, and I think Coke tastes like battery acid.  Then, an eclectic little pizza like this comes along to prove me wrong: thin crispy crust, rich aromatic roasted garlic, tangy apricot preserves, and salty pungent goat cheese all harmonize wonderfully.  So maybe I can call myself at least partially American, after all I really dig this pizza.


Turkey Lettuce Wraps

 I'll write something attempting wittiness later, right now I'm just going to post the recipe, because it's tasty and easy and you should make it and I like run on sentences; almost as much as ginger or Asian food.  Okay, I'm done now.


The Perfect French Fries

In retail, it seems like everybody smokes.  I suppose you have to cope with the stress of each paycheck being based on commission, crazy customers, and standing for 9 hours a day somehow.  Smoking, however, wouldn't be my first (or last) choice.  I'm pretty sure I deal by cooking and therefore, eating.  So, when a brutally slow day ends, I spend my stoplights reading recipes, and trying desperately to ignore all the delicious food I drive by on my way home.  I'm not sure if this is more or less embarrassing than my last food admission, but I secretly like Chicken McNuggets from McDonalds.  Sometimes, if my day went poorly enough, I'll drive through and get myself a Happy Meal-but I ask for a boy's toy so that maybe, possibly the cashier doesn't think its for me-like that even matters.  That gesture makes me feel better about the whole situation though; plus the little boys' gadgets are usually way cooler, let's be honest.  Tonight, after an unproductive day at work I managed to resist stopping for America's (and my) favorite fries, and instead resolved to make my own.  After reading a variety of articles, and recognizing that I shouldn't try deep frying anything today (I managed to burn my finger on a PANCAKE this morning... seriously.  I probably should've snagged some Micky D's just for my own safety) I pieced together the following French Fry Procedure, and they pretty much rock.  There are a few tricks to these babies: using cornstarch in the fry coating, precooking the potato in the microwave, and heating the oil and pan to ensure a crispy outer. 


S'mores Squares

This recipe is the first time I used the label 'marshmallow'.  I am flabbergasted.  I suppose I can't put a recipe up for my favorite guilty pleasure...

Ingredients: Marshmallow fluff
Instructions: Purchase jar of fluff, the off-brand is just as good as the name brand.  Take home.  Ensure you are alone.  Unscrew cap, set aside.  Pick the largest spoon from your silverware drawer.  Insert spoon in sugary, fluffy goodness.  Remove.  Slowly savor the magic of marshmallow fluff.  Repeat if necessary.  Close lid.  Place back in the exact location in the pantry so nobody knows your dirty secret.

Because clearly there's not much to it.  And while marshmallow fluff is incredibly satisfying and delicious, these S'mores Squares are better, and practically as simple.  So you should probably make them, and uh not tell anybody about my marshmallow fluff secret.


Thai Chicken Pizza

As I sit here writing, good ol' Ted Allen, host of Chopped, delightfully educated me that 93% of Americans eat pizza.  Tonight, I contributed to that statistic.  You know what else I contributed to?  The percentage of Americans that eat salad, which I can feel a little better about.  Seriously. This pizza is great, it's like the offspring of pizza + salad.  Once the pizza is out of the oven a tasty slaw finishes it off.  Subtle coconut, salty peanuts, tart lime, and savory garlic marry flawlessly resulting in a dynamic, fresh pizza, different than any pizza you've had before.  Or should I call it a salad?


Sweet Chili Roasted Broccoli

Ever had P.F. Chang's Spicy Green Bean appetizer?  If you haven't, you should.  Or you can just make this broccoli and not go through the trouble of getting off the couch, changing out of your sweatpants, and driving to your local P.F. Changs.  Wait, you're not wearing sweatpants, you say?  Well, the kitchen is still closer than P.F. Changs.  This broccoli has all the same delicious flavors of their green beans; the sweetness balances impeccably with the salty spiciness of the chili paste.  This broccoli makes an excellent side, or if you're not a carnivore like me, a healthy serving of this deliciousness over brown rice makes an incredibly satisfying meal.  Now, how do I say "bon apétite" in Chinese?

Miso Egg Drop Soup

In celebration of the first day of summer I made soup... Logical, I know.  Maybe in celebration of July I'll make ice cream or something that is actually seasonally appropriate.  For now, I'm making a salty, satisfying vegetarian egg drop soup recipe.  Happy summer folks.


Coconut French Toast with Mango Sauce

Alas, I feel like I have been neglecting my dear little blog.  With moving, working full-time again, and being separated from my kitchen, I just haven't cooked as much as usual.  When I do cook, it is to quell my hunger, and half of whatever I made is usually gone before the thought to photograph it crosses my mind.  Not to mention, while I do make a killer sandwich... sandwiches aren't particularly bloggable.  (Yes, bloggable is an adjective, thank you) And I have been eating a lot of sandwiches lately...  As a result, I simply haven't had a lot to blog.  Then, last week I threw this recipe together for breakfast when my dear sir was in town.  It was tasty and easy, finally bloggable. Using coconut milk makes the french toast rich and delicious, while adding a naturally satisfying sweetness.  And let's face it, fruit sauce makes anything better.  Plus, the coconut milk added to the sauce reduces down to to be divinely creamy.  I would eat the sauce alone with a spoon and be satisfied, but french toast tastes much better than a spoon :)


Mango Blueberry Muffins with Coconut Streusel

If I was a character in a comic strip, I think I would be The Midnight Baker.  (If 2am Baker had a better ring to it, that title may be more accurate...)  My superhero costume would be my ruffly apron, and I would combat evil with my spatula.  It will be great.  Anyhow, this title is appropriate because when I get bored past 9 o'clock, I bake.  And baking leads to eating, so good thing these mini muffins are pretty healthy.  They boast whole wheat flour, oats, limited fats, AND they are bursting with juicy mangoes and succulent blueberries.


Asian Chicken & Rice

 One of my least favorite things in the world is doing dishes.  If there were such thing as disposable pots and pans, I would be all over them.  Seriously, after spending a bunch of time preparing dinner, the last thing I want to do is turn around and clean up after it.  When I'm feeling particularly lazy, I opt for a recipe like this, it utilizes one cutting board, one pan, and only a bowl and spoon/fork to chow down.  Perfect for those lazy days, and quite tasty.  I've never thought to cook rice in soy sauce before, it's awesome.  The small amount goes a long way to add flavor and salty goodness.  It's also a super versatile recipe.  You can sub beef or tofu for the chicken, or toss in some steamed broccoli to amp up the veggie-meter.  


The Eli Cookie: Oatmeal White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

Anyone watch the Bachelorette?  I cringe with embarrassment to admit that I occasionally catch an episode, but I do.  Usually, I think the show is utterly ridiculous, and I laugh the whole way through, but this last episode, Emily totally stole one of my dating techniques!  Cookie making!  I make killer chocolate chip cookies. So, once a guy has tried them and gotten hooked, I (if interested) casually invite him to make cookies with me if he wants the recipe.  Then, I can evaluate if he is kitchen-competent, able to follow instruction, and simply if he's fun to be with.  It's a perfect scenario.  Except then a certain boy came along, experienced my chocolate chip cookies, and instead of deciding they were the greatest cookie ever and wanting the recipe, he brought up these cookies his mom used to make.  And what did I do?  Get offended  I made those cookies for him.  ALL BY MYSELF.  I now coin them "The Eli Cookie", because never before have I baked a boy one of his family recipes.  I knew there was something different about this boy.

Orange & Black Sesame Cookies

Don't tell my ultimate chocolate chip cookie recipe, but I think I have a new favorite cookie.  I realize putting sesame seeds in a cookie sounds, well, strange, but just try it!  (Plus, black sesame seeds are sweeter and lack much of the bitterness found in white sesame seeds.)  These cookies have just the right level of sweetness, crumble, and texture.  Divine, that's a good word to describe them.  And if exquisite taste isn't enough to sell you, the sesame seeds add protein and fiber to this cookie :)


Cranberry Chipotle Turkey Sliders

Everyone loves Thanksgiving, right?  It's the one holiday a year where gluttony is encouraged, your plate couldn't be large enough, and there are at least four courses of dessert.  And you know what else everyone loves?  Tacos.  (You wanna have fun?  Wanna go to Taco Bell?) Therefore, Mexi-Pilgrim fusion is a spectacular idea.  While I did have the ingredients on hand to make turkey cranberry tacos, that didn't sound like the greatest idea, so instead cranberry chipotle turkey burgers.  The sweet tang of traditional cranberry sauce mingles with spicy, smoky chipotle to contribute to the Mexi-Pilgrim dynamic, more subtly than say... cranberry tacos. 

Vegan Gooey Butter Cookies

When I google a vegan recipe, and find unsatisfactory results I have an inexplicable urge to fix it.  I'm not even a vegan... I guess I just like fixing things or I have a bunch of coconut oil and Tofutti cream cheese I need to use before I move.  Plus there are all those poor vegans in the world unfortunate enough to have never experienced the unique St. Louis offering of gooey butter anything.  So, animal-friendly folks: gooey butter cookies!  Ta-dah!

Gooey Butter Cookies

So, I'm on this St. Louis pride kick.  Maybe it's the fact that I'm realizing I will never permanently live there again and I am subconsciously devastated about it. Hahaha.  Or maybe it's that I am procrastinating packing up the entire contents of my apartment, and cooking distinctive foods that I grew up with for the sir in my life seems a reasonable distraction.  I'm guessing the latter.  Definitely the latter.  Plus, after looking up a recipe for gooey butter cookies and seeing how simple they are, I couldn't not make them.  These gooey little cookies really do possess everything so awesomely divine about the cake version, that chewy golden crust, a sticky sweet center, and the crackle dusted with powdered sugar all so synonymous with the real thing.  So, try them at least once and make another St. Louisan proud ;)

Pomegranate Vinaigrette

I have finally conquered the spelling of vinaigrette, if only now I could spell pomegranite   pomagranate   pomghsdhgoaj   pomegranate right the first time.  Seriously, spelling the name of this recipe is substantially more challenging than making it.  Therefore, you should make it.  Then put it on a lovely bed of lettuce with apples, walnuts, and blue cheese.  Because it rocks.  Go prove wrong whoever said salad was gross and boring!


Salty Medjool Caramel Dip

I've been mildly obsessed with dates lately.  It all started in April with the vegan caramels I whipped up--they were delicious.  Heavens, dates alone are delicious, I eat them like candy.  So when I saw the photograph and recipe at V.K. Rees Photography of salty date caramel, I had to give it a go.  You should too :)  The dip is rich and creamy, and the salt rounds out the flavor exquisitely. 

Baked Donuts with Chocolate Glaze

I went to bed last night resolved to wake up and go running.  I made donuts instead.  Fail.  Well, the run was a fail, the donuts were definitely a success--cakey, subtly sweet, and absolutely delicious.  Rich, chocolate glaze only sweetened the deal, literally.  Plus, they weren't that unhealthy... they use coconut oil instead of butter or vegetable oil, the vegan glaze has no added sugar, and they are dairy free.  So it's okay to skip my morning run to make donuts since they are kinda-sorta-remotely healthy... right?


Toasted Ravioli

I loved growing up in St. Louis-- It was a very pleasant place (minus the sauna-hot, sweaty, nasty summers...) but by no means am I itching to go back.  One of the very few things that gets me nostalgic for home is the thought of toasted ravioli.  Yup, that crunchy, greasy, delicious bar food found only in St. Louis.  T-ravs (as my highschool buddies used to call them at hot lunch) fall far outside of the realm of food I normally prepare for myself, but when I realized the sir in my life had been deprived the opportunity of ever tasting the delicacy, they were added to my kitchen docket, stat.  Upon heading to the store for a couple ingredients I didn't have on hand, I discovered the Walmart in Indiana actually stocks frozen toasted ravioli-What?!!.  I was set on making my own T-ravs although I was seriously tempted to pick up a box of frozen ones in case I managed to mess my own up... frying food isn't exactly my specialty.  I'm glad I saved the three dollars, aside from frying my candy thermometer in the process, my raviolis far exceeded the freezer section variety, and as far as fried, greasy bar food goes I consider them exceptional :)  If you are familiar with T-ravs, this recipe is as classic as it gets, and if you're not familiar- try them at least once and make a St. Louisan proud.

Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette

I feel like some recipes need no introduction, nor sales pitch or hook.  This recipe falls under that category.  It's a simple, delicious dressing that takes seconds to make--and you really don't even have to measure, shhhh!!

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground mustard (or a squeeze of the fresh stuff)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • honey to taste (I like sweet dressings and use about a Tbs)


Rolo Cookies

These cookies take 4 ingredients, it's awesome.  What's even better is that they seem far more gourmet than four simple ingredients.  The only downside is that you can eat like 5 without even realizing it... so uh make them small or something.  


Honey Tahini Dressing

I'm currently facing a dilemma--an utterly disastrous dilemma.  I have no bread. [Unless you count the soft pretzels I made on Sunday as bread... but let's face it I can't really make a PB&J with a soft pretzel...]  I also don't have much other food, since my time in Bloomington is coming to an end I'm trying to let my pantry dwindle (and it's taking a serious amount of self-control at the grocery).  I do have lettuce, lots of freezer food, and some incredibly stale pita bread, which lent itself perfectly to a deconstructed felafel salad :)  This creamy dressing tied it all together, the rich tahini harmonizes perfectly with the sweet honey and acidic lemon striking a refreshingly satisfying balance.  I found myself scraping the left over salad dressing off my plate with the pita chips and tomatoes--it was that good.


Soft Pretzels

I have a problem.  When I get stressed about things... say final exams... I don't alleviate that stress by studying.  I alleviate it in the kitchen.  It's not even the eating I find comforting, but the cooking itself.  Back in high school I would mass-produce muffins and cupcakes during finals, and bring a giant basket handing them out to everyone I knew (and didn't know...) Seriously, I mean at least it's a productive method of coping, but in 7 hours when I am taking an exam over accounting data systems it probably won't feel quite as productive.  Really, though I think knowing how to make a killer soft pretzel will be far more useful in life than knowing anything about accounting data systems... psh what's an accounting data system anyways.


Copy Cat Lara Bars

School has driven me to this thing I shamefully call the granola bar, fruit leather, and vitamin water diet.  How it works is I eat a smoothie for breakfast, and throw a variety of granola bars and fruit snacks in my bag for my lunch and dinner the rest of the day.  This habit is problematic for a few reasons... namely I get hungry and cranky, my groceries get expensive, and let's face it granola bars and dried fruit don't quite complete the food pyramid (whatever the current pyramid is filled up with).  Half of my grocery bill is typically made up of Luna bars, Cliff bars, Lara Bars, etc (Have you eaten the caramel nut brownie Luna bars?? oh my goodness they are divine.  And yes I know they aren't actually that healthy...)  Now, I realize I can't quite duplicate Luna's caramel nut brownie bar with ease, but I can copy Lara Bars with only a few simple ingredients.  And since I can... I did :)

Vegan "Caramels"

Earlier this week I had a final presentation in my intellectual property class, and because my professor basically told us we would receive A's if we brought the class food, I brought food.  Not just any food, Spoon Fork Bacon's Baked Apple Pie Egg Rolls with vanilla bean whipped cream and caramel sauce.  Now, let's not focus on the fact that my presentation was on a local company using a variation of the Apple logo... because let's face it bringing apple pie was basically irrelevant to what I was talking about... the more important fact was they they were incredibly delicious, everyone loved them, and I got to sit and watch everyone rave about them and not eat any because they were full of dairy.  Curse my lactose intolerance.  Cue delicious, no sugar added, raw, vegan caramels-- I could seriously eat an entire batch of these babies.  I was skeptical, but I was proven wrong, incredibly, deliciously wrong.  Just try them.


Thai Panang Beef Curry

So, I could live on rice, Nutella, fruit, and cereal--and be incredibly happy.  I am however, dating a carnivore.  So while my idea of a perfect curry is loads of veggies and a light sauce, Mr. Meat is not as fond of water chestnuts, kale, and carrots.  Hence, a rich, flavorful curry with strictly meat.  Even with my preference for veggies, this was really, really tasty.


Vegan Roasted Red Pepper Pesto

There are a few food words that make me feel fancy: ganache, coulis, aioli, compote... I like'm.  And if I can toss them into the description of whatever I am making, I suddenly feel like a legitimate cook.  (I won't even venture to use the word chef, that's simply laughable.)  Pesto is one of these words.  For some reason pesto just sounds kinda fancy, you know?  And while I'm at it I'll toss my pesto on some bruschetta or capatavi or oriochette.  Or in english- this stuff tastes great smeared on some toast, or over a bowl of funny shaped noodles.  Personally, I enjoy mine with wheat rotini and sauteed veggies.


Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

"Cookie" and "Chocolate"are two of my most frequently used labels... I clearly enjoy both.  The combination of the two is even better, especially if you use four varieties of chocolate chips, in ridiculous quantities.

I made the mistake of using a recipe that yields 60 to make only 30 or so, so each one of my cookies was a meal--an intoxicatingly chocolate, decadent, rich, delicious meal, best accompanied by a glass of [almond] milk.   


Mini Chocolate Donuts with Maple Glaze... and Bacon

There is a reason I set myself a curfew in the kitchen: No baking past 8:00pm.  These donuts are what happens when I break curfew.  Since just making donuts wasn't bad enough, I had to coat them in finger-licking good maple glaze... and top them off with bacon.  I nearly resorted to licking the drips of glaze off the counter (granted I may also occasionally eat marshmallow fluff by the spoonful so maybe I'm a bad measure of irresistability).  But in all seriousness, these little calorie bombs are tasty--the sweet maple and salty bacon unite dynamically, all atop a mini chocolate donut.  Perfection.

Oh yeah, and did I mention you get to cheat and use a cake mix? Mhmmmm!


Tempeh Nuggets

Tempeh Nuggets, sounds incredibly delectable no? 

Well, they were actually surprisingly delicious.  These babies were the result of my craving wings on the way home from learning to break dance tonight (yes... break dance...  It was AWESOME).  Rather then stopping for unhealthy fast food (I'm trying this thing called self-control), I decided I should make seitan nuggets when I got home instead, since I had a lub of seitan in the fridge.  I had my recipe all planned out, only to get home and discover I had tempeh, not seitan in my fridge. (It's all the same to me...)  Since I'm lazy and stubborn, I just went ahead and did the exact same thing I intended to do with my seitan to my tempeh.  Generally speaking, it is recommended to boil or steam your tempeh first, but let's face it, that's another dirty dish--so I didn't.  Even then, these little morsels were crunchy, pleasantly flavored, and an ideal transportation mechanism for barbeque sauce.  Success.


Non-Dairy Keylime Pie

 There are a few desserts characterized particularly by the dairy ingredients in them... like cheesecake, ice cream, pudding, and key lime pie.  For real, key lime pie is so great because of the heavenly, rich texture and subtle sweetness contributed by glorious sweetened condensed milk.  I could eat that stuff by the spoonful, crap I could eat it by the ladle-ful... if I didn't feel sick to my stomach 13 minutes later.  Therefore, the idea of attempting a non-dairy key lime pie was pretty daunting.  UNTIL my mom told me about Trader Joe's non-dairy cream cheese, which is actually super delicious (and generally speaking, I find fake dairy stuff totally repulsive.  Have you ever tried veggie cheese? Blehhh it's like trying to melt a makeup sponge on your food...).  Suddenly, a new dimension of desserts was opened to me, and this is a very happy dimension. 


Lemongrass Chicken Banh Mi Sandwiches

 Just like style, there are food trends.  And Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches are hip right now.  I wish I could pull the "yeah I've known about these forever, they're nothing new because I'm so knowledgeable of all things cultural and culinary..." card, but I can't.  I can, however, claim that Vietnamese food has been my favorite for a long while now, and I am super stoked that it is finally receiving the media it deserves.  Banh Mi are an approachable medium for Vietnamese food to take- I mean who doesn't love a sandwich?  I also appreciate that there are so many varieties to choose from, and no real wrong way to go about creating your own banh mi.  That being said, some ways just taste better, like this way :)


Green Papya Salad

This tangy, refreshing salad is an easy introduction to Vietnamese cuisine.  With only a few simple ingredients, it is bursting with flavor.  Try it as a side, or toss some grilled shrimp on it to make it a complete meal.

Mexican Slaw

 I grew up in a 'salt&pepper family'.  No, my parents didn't grey prematurely, rather my mom didn't really know what any seasoning, beyond salt and pepper, was. (unless you count ketchup as a seasoning, she was all over that...)  So, when I was finally 16 and capable of driving myself to the grocery store (yes.. I got excited about that, versus driving to the mall and all the hip parties...) I could finally buy all the cool ingredients I saw chefs using on the Food Network.  Cumin was one of my first orders of business, and let me tell you- its earned a dear place in my heart.  There's something so wonderful about the mildly bitter, but warm flavor of cumin.  It works so well in such a wide variety of cuisines, and brings enough flavor to stand on its own, yet still plays so well with others.  In this recipe, the cumin shines, enhanced by the tart lime and creamy mayonnaise.  This slaw is an excellent side, or absolutely delicious with fish tacos.

Lightly Pickled Carrot and Daikon

Pickles are humiliated cucumbers.  They become sad and gnarly, and get the vivid life sucked right out of them.  It's a depressing process, really.  And yet somehow, I don't feel guilty whatsoever pickling daikon and carrot.  Maybe because nobody knows that daikons are anyways, so what does it matter if I humiliate the crap out of them?  Or maybe because these are sweet, dynamic pickles that burst with fresh, delicious flavor.  Rather than the flavorless, salt-ridden amoebas that are usual pickles, these babies brighten whatever they are served with, and function to enhance their fellow flavors.


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