Peanut Butter Chocolate Greek Yogurt Cheesecake

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Since we last talked, I have: packed four months worth of clothes, shoes, and toiletries into a single suitcase; lost said suitcase sometime during my three flights to get across the Atlantic; worn the same outfit for 5 days in a row as a result of this occurrence; quadrupled my daily walking average as I try to learn every inch of this new city; and made it my life goal to visit any and every bakery in the city of Copenhagen (which is a lot).

And it rocks! Seriously though…Copenhagen. It’s a dream. If you’ve been here before, you’re a lucky duck. If you haven’t yet, start saving because it needs to be on your travel list like yesterday. Oh, and get used to four months of me gushing about this place, because I think I might be in love.

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I’ve made a lot of baked goods in my life. Take a look at the recipes archives if you don’t believe me. Cookies, brownies, pies, tarts… I’ve made them all. So when I’m told that something I’ve made is the best ever? Well, that kind of compliment certainly says a lot. And that, my friends, is exactly how this cheesecake was described.

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If you’re a longtime reader of this site, you might recognize this recipe. That’s because I posted it a little over a year ago with some seriously awful pictures that don’t even come close to doing this amazing recipe justice. So here it is in all its chocolately, peanut buttery glory all over again. You’re welcome.

This tastes like a decadent, fat filled, out of this world dream, and yet it’s made primarily of greek yogurt, peanut butter, eggs, and some sugar. And that sinful chocolate topping? Nothing but cocoa powder, banana, and a bit of powdered sugar. I’m serious when I say you need to make it. Ready, set, GO!

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Greek Yogurt Cheesecake

Adapted from this recipe

For the graham cracker crust:

about ten sheets of graham crackers
1 egg white
1 Tablespoon oil
1-2 Tablespoons almond milk

For the cheesecake:

2 cups fat free plain Greek yogurt (I used Chobani)
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup peanut butter

For the chocolate layer:

1 banana
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1-2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Directions: 

To make the crust, pulse graham crackers in a food processor until they are crumbs. Add egg white, then pulse until the mixture clumps together. Add the oil and 1 Tbsp. milk and pulse until the mixture begins to stick when pressed between two fingers (add another Tbsp. milk if needed). Press the crust into the bottom and up the sides of a greased 9 inch springform pan.

Preheat oven to 350F. In a blender or food processor, combine the yogurt, sugar, salt, eggs, vanilla, cornstarch, and peanut butter and blend until smooth. Pour filling over the crust in the pan, and bake for 35 minutes.

While the cheesecake is cooking, combine the banana, cocoa powder, and powdered sugar in the food processor and blend until smooth. It will thicken once chilled, but if it is too thin, add more cocoa powder, one tablespoon at a time. Let chill in the refrigerator.

When the cheesecake is done, it will still be jiggly in the center but will have a “done” look to it. The edges of the cake will start to pull away from the sides of the pan. Make sure you don’t overbake.

Once the cheesecake has cooled down, spread the chocolate layer on top until smooth. Chill for 2-3 hours in the fridge before releasing from the springform.

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No Frills Cornbread

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Mama Brown’s BBQ. That’s the best cornbread I can ever remember tasting. Crispy, sweet, and moist (none of this dry, crumbly business that’s present all too often in cornbread), it was the epitome of everything Southern and everything good. I’d go back for seconds and thirds, and I can’t remember now, but I’d like to thing there was a lick of honey butter to go along with it.

Mama Brown’s is long gone (a tragedy if there ever was one), and unfortunately so is their cornbread. So when I received a cast iron skillet for Christmas (#1 on the wish list, thankyouverymuch), naturally the first thing to do with it was try to recreate the cornbread of my dreams. And off we go.

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I’m not sure if this cornbread reaches the hallowed heights of Mama Brown’s, but it sure does come close. And it’s also vegan, something I’m all but positive wasn’t true of the original version. Woohoo!

This cornbread, though. It’s a dream. And somehow incredibly addicting. I would eat a piece, finish, and then go back for just a little more. Except that happened about eight times in a row, until my big ole pan of cornbread slowly but surely disappeared. Whoops.

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This is a pan of down home, no frills southern comfort. Don’t mess with it. There’s nothing you could do to make it better except serve it with a pat of butter and a drizzle of honey. You’re welcome.

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No Frills Cornbread

Adapted from Food52

Ingredients:

2 cups almond milk
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1 cup white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
5 Tablespoons cane sugar
2 Tablespoons applesauce
1/4 cup liquid coconut oil (or other neutral oil)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400F. In a small bowl or measuring cup, stir together the almond milk and vinegar, then aside for a few minutes to curdle as you assemble the other ingredients.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Add the applesauce and oil to the milk and vinegar mixture and stir to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk until there are no lumps remaining.

Pour batter into a preheated 10 inch cast iron skillet (you can also use a 9×9 inch square pan or a 10 inch round cake pan). If using the cast iron skillet, bake for 25 minutes*, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

*The original recipe called to bake for 35 minutes, but mine only took 25 with the cast iron skillet, so keep an eye on your cornbread. If you use a regular pan, it will likely take longer.

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Simple Almond Biscotti

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Can we talk about the amount of green stuff flooding the internet at the moment? Cleanses and juices and smoothies and detoxes, all because the calendar flipped one more year and everyone decided today’s the day to get healthy. Which is awesome. You go world! I’m just sorry this tray of biscotti isn’t really gonna help.

But wait! They are healthy! Just not as healthy as, say, a tall glass stuffed with carrots and algae and spinach and just about every other fruit or vegetable you could imagine. But there’s whole grains and healthy fats and reduced sugar, so at least you’ve got that going for you.

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This is a pretty simple one bowl kind of situation. Into the bowl, with some mixing and folding, and look who’s halfway to a tray of perfectly crunchy cookies? The only thing that’s slightly out of the ordinary is the thing that makes these suckers biscotti: the double baking. It’s what gives you that perfectly crunchy cookie (but don’t worry, these won’t break your teeth either). A little extra time, sure, but it’s hands down worth it.

 

 

 

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PS… guess what?! In two weeks, I’m going to be hopping on a plane with a very strategically packed suitcase to study abroad in Copenhagen for the next four months! And since I have no earthly idea what my kitchen/ingredient/total baking situation is going to be, I don’t really know how things on the blog are going to go. Updates on the situation coming soon though!

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Simple Almond Biscotti

Ingredients:

1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cane sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon almond milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup slivered almonds

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, then add the oil, milk, and almond extract. Whisk together the wet ingredients until combined, then incorporate the wet into the dry until a dough is formed. Fold in the slivered almonds.

On the prepared baking sheet, pat the dough into a log that is about 1/2 inch thick and 5 inches wide. Score the dough with a sharp knife, then bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and reduce heat to 325F. Let biscotti cool 5 minutes, then slice into biscotti and lay flat on the sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, flip the biscotti onto the other side, then bake another 10 minutes.

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Pumpkin Pie Mousse

 

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Merry Day After Christmas! I hope your holidays have been wonderful, no matter what you celebrate, and that you’ve had laughs with your family and too much food in your belly and just a general jolly good time. ’Tis (still) the season, right?

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I haven’t got much to say today. I think the carols and hymns and seasons greetings have spoken far more eloquently than anything I might add. Instead, I want to leave you with a quote I recently stumbled upon that seems the perfect gateway into a brand new year.

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art–write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.” – Neil Gaiman

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Note: This pumpkin mousse is light and fluffy and evocative of a perfectly spiced pumpkin pie. Make sure to use shelf stable tofu, like the brand Mori-Nu, and not the refrigerated kind. I liked the mousse with only 1/3 cup of maple syrup, but others preferred it a bit sweeter, so make sure to taste and adjust accordingly. This recipe is very forgiving, so play around with spices and sweeteners as much as you want. Cheers!

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Pumpkin Pie Mousse

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 package shelf stable tofu (such as Mori-Nu)
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup maple syrup (plus a few more tablespoons, if desired)
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
pinch of salt

Directions:

Combine all of the ingredients in a high-speed blender or food processor until smooth. Taste the mousse, and add a few more tablespoons of maple syrup if you want it a bit sweeter. Divide equally into ramekins and chill in the fridge, where it will become thicker and more firm. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.

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Soft and Chewy Molasses Gingerbread Cookies

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I’ll be the first to admit it… I’m not always the best cookie maker around. The perfect chocolate chip cookie was not developed in my kitchen, and I’ve still never made a successful batch of holiday sugar cookies, despite plenty (and I mean plenty) of tries. But the annual call of Christmas cookies comes beckoning every year, and this time around my first attempt to satisfy that sugar craving was these chewy molasses cookies. And let me just say that, unlike some years, things went swimmingly.

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Okay, confession number two: I’m not a huge fan of gingerbread cookies either. There just… kinda stale. And boring. And dry. Which is a bit surprising because they’re made from molasses and spices, which are some of my favorite ingredients, especially around the holidays. But there’s a solution! Keep all the flavor of gingerbread, and merge it with the soft and chewy texture of a chocolate chip cookie, and BAM! New favorite December cookie found.

Sometimes, I think cookies can be a bit overloaded, especially this time of year: crushed candy canes and M&M’s and chopped nuts and more. Don’t get me wrong; that’s totally delicious. But sometimes it’s nice to have  a cookie that’s a bit more understated as well. You know, one that let’s the flavor of its ingredients shine. And when one of those ingredients is molasses, a sweetener full of both holiday flavor and a boatload of vitamins and minerals (all while being low on the glycemic index!), your tray of cookies gets even better.

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And bonus! It’s all made in one bowl, with oil instead of butter so you don’t need to worry about softening and creaming. As for chilling, it’s not necessary either, though if you have the time I certainly recommend leaving the dough in the fridge for at least a few hours to let the flavors meld and deepen. If time is running out before a holiday party or the limit of your sugar craving, however, never fear. These babies can go from your computer screen to your belly in under fifteen minutes.

I hope your December is cheery and sparkling!

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Soft and Chewy Molasses Gingerbread Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

Adapted slightly from The Baker Chick 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup canola oil (or other neutral oil)
2 Tablespoons applesauce
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine the oil, brown sugar, and applesauce and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the molasses, egg, spices, salt, and vanilla until combined. Sprinkle in the baking soda and flour, then fold in gently just until combined.

Drop cookies by rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes (they will look underdone, but don’t over bake them; they’ll continue to firm up on the baking sheet). Let cool on the baking sheet, then remove to a cooling rack.

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Cranberry Galette

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I’m not sure when, but sometime, at some point in my life, cranberries came to signify that gradual shift from autumn to winter that is November. It’s a bit confusing, you see, because for a majority of my life the only exposure to cranberries I had came in the form of that quivering, slimy hunky of cranberry jelly that would ooze out of a can onto a little dish next to our Thanksgiving turkey and then proceed to go untouched for the entirety of the meal (I once tried to make a proper cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving, but it also went untouched. I think my family has an aversion to change and/or tart red berries).

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So while I may not be sure how or when it began, my love affair with cranberries definitely breaks out in full force this time of year. Also… every time I start baking with them, I always pop one in my mouth raw. They look so fresh and tempting, I just can’t help it. And every time, I spit them out and realize that they haven’t magically become edible in their natural state over the course of a year.

Don’t be like me. Wait until they’re cooked up in this galette before you start eating.

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So basically a galette is a way of eating pie without having to make it look pretty or bother with a pie plate or have to make a second pie crust. All of which are total wins, in my opinion. Instead, this little baby is meant to look rustic and imperfect. It all adds to the charm.

Oh, and those cranberries. While they may be a bit rough on the palate raw, once they’ve been cooked down with some sugar and spices, they become bright, tart little bursts of flavor that make this pie, um… I mean galette, filling a true holiday stand out.

Although given my family’s history with cranberries, I don’t think it’ll be making an appearance at our Thanksgiving table.

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Cranberry Galette

Ingredients:

3 cups organic cranberries, picked through & sliced in half
1/2 cup turbinado sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of one lemon
A few teaspoons milk of choice

One 9-inch pie crust (here’s a link to a coconut oil version)

Directions:

Preheat oven t0 425F.

Mix cranberries with the sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and lemon zest, then set aside to macerate for a least one hour, or up to eight hours.

Roll the pie crust out until it’s about 12 inches in diameter. Place the crust either on a baking sheet or a sheet of parchment paper (you don’t want to fill it and then be unable to lift it onto a pan). Spread the cranberries evenly on top of the crust, leaving about 2-3 inches on the edges. Fold the edges of the dough up over the filling. Brush the dough edges with a bit of almond milk and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until the crust is golden and the cranberries have cooked down. Let cool a few minutes on the baking pan, then slice and serve.

 

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Chili Coconut Key Lime Granola

 

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As readers, I don’t want to give you guys excuses. You’re way too awesome for that. But I do think you deserve some explanations. It’s no secret that things around here have been rather slow lately. And frankly, that’s all on me. When midterms lurk around the corner and meetings are on the schedule and my collection of baking supplies is about as bare as can be, it’s really not possible to produce quality content as much as I’d like. And I’m all but sure that you guys would rather wait a bit longer for posts that actually mean something than some shoddy recipes and photos that are barely worth your time. So things might continue at this rate for a bit longer. Thank you for your patience and understanding and for sticking it out with me. You rock!

And now onto the granola, shall we?

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I feel like this granola comes at the perfect time. Skies are gray and the air is cold and Thanksgiving is just a little too far away. We need something fresh and bright and decidedly not orange. And what gives you a better kick in the face (in the best possible way, of course) than some key lime, coconut, and cayenne?

Are you a little nervous about spicy granola? I was too (psst… I don’t even like spicy food). But let me say that somehow, and I’m not really sure how that is, it works. It just does. There’s not too much spice; just a slight tingle that leaves you wanting more.

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In my opinion, though, it’s the key lime juice that really makes this stuff shine. Unlike most varieties, it makes this granola bright and fresh and oh so good. As for the coconut, it keeps with the tropical theme and adds another dimension of flavor, but it’s definitely a subtle element; this is far from coconut granola.

We took some oats and turned them into summer. Take that, cold front.

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Chili Coconut Key Lime Granola

Ingredients:

¼ cup olive oil
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons sucanat or cane sugar
¼ cup key lime juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 cups rolled oats
1/4 millet (optional)
1 ½ cups unsweetened coconut, toasted
½ cup pumpkin seeds
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg white, beaten until frothy

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325F. In a medium bowl, combine the olive oil, honey, sucanat, key lime juice, cinnamon, and cayenne. Set aside.

In a large bowl, toss together the oats, millet (if using), coconut, pumpkin seeds, and salt. Pour in the oil-honey mixture and stir until the oats are fully and evenly coated. Add the egg white and stir to coat. Spread the mixture evenly on a baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes*.

Once it is done baking, the granola will appear a bit soft; let cool on the baking sheet, and it will crisp up and become firm.

*If you want chunky granola, don’t stir while baking. Once the granola has finished baking and has cooled, break into chunks.

 

Note: I got this recipe from a friend and thus don’t know where it was originally published in order to cite it

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You Should Know About… Sourdough

Welcome back to the “You Should Know About…” series, a collection of blog posts that will pop up every now and again that feature health and wellness tips we can all use to live the most wholesome life we can!

Sourdough

So bread. Yeah that’s right, bread. I think we can all agree that it’s pretty magical. And unfortunately, thanks to a host of low carb, get slim quick diets, it’s gotten a bad rap. What’s up with that? Yes, if you’re gluten intolerant, you should probably shy away from it, but otherwise, try switching up the kind of bread you’re eating, instead of cutting it out entirely. I think we all know about the virtue and health benefits of choosing whole grains, but don’t forget to take another look at the way your bread is made, instead of only what it’s made from.

And that, my friends, is what brings us to sourdough.

If you’re familiar with sourdough, then you’ll have experienced its characteristic taste- a slightly sour, almost tangy and chewy bread with far more flavor and depth than you would ever expect from anything made almost entirely from flour. What gives it these traits is its fermentation process. Unlike “regular” bread, which rises from the addition of yeast (small microorganisms that feed on sugars), sourdough uses a starter, which is made only of flour and water that is left for a number of days so that it can ferment. Once the starter has been created, it’s basically alive with small (good for you!) bacteria that eat sugar and thus help your bread rise, making it like a homemade version of yeast. Pretty crazy, huh?

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So why is this important? It all comes down to that crazy fermentation process. For one, the bacteria present in sourdough create more lactic acid, which leads to less phytic acid; this makes it much easier for your body to digest sourdough bread. Digestion is also aided by the pre-digestion of grains that occurs when the bacteria in the starter goes to work on the dough. What’s more, all that beneficial bacteria in the starter eventually winds up in your gut, where it aids digestion, immune function, and mineral absorption while also controlling yeast population so that overgrowth doesn’t occur. And perhaps coolest of all, the extensive process of making sourdough (remember, it takes days for that starter to ferment) causes the gluten to break down into amino acids, which means- you guessed it- easier digestion. But it also means that some gluten intolerant folks are able to eat it as well.

Some other reasons sourdough is awesome: it has a lower glycemic index, meaning your blood sugar won’t spike; it’s got a whole host of beneficial nutrients; it’s naturally preserving, because the acetic acid produced inhibits the growth of mold; it’s one of the oldest forms of breadmaking.

Making your own sourdough is rather time consuming, so your easiest option is likely to buy it. Just be sure to get authentic sourdough (anything from a bakery is a sure bet; if you’re at the grocery store, read the labels). And then be proud of yourself as you partake in the glory of bread, because you know you’re eating something that will make your body happy.

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