Sunday, March 2, 2014

morning cookies (vegan and gluten free!)

I know, I know. "Morning cookie" seems like an oxymoron, or at least a poor choice, but I promise it isn't. This recipe was born out of my need for a healthy, portable, no-refrigeration-needed snack that I could have in the middle of the morning to tide me over until lunch. I had been buying granola bars for years to help with this issue, until I got fed up with the high prices and high sugar (this recipe has none!) and decided to just make them myself. 

Another fantastic thing about these cookies is that they help me use up the awkward few tablespoons of mix-ins that are always left over from other recipes. 1/4 cup of nuts from this, a few tablespoons of raisins from that, the bottom of a bag from that other thing - you know how it goes! While you can absolutely use specific ingredients for mix-ins, I like to just use whatever mix of dried fruit, nuts, and chips I have on hand. 

As if this recipe needed a third bonus, it's all made in the food processor. I will always be appreciative of a single dirty bowl. If you don't have any quick oats on hand, you can put old fashioned in the processor first and give it a few good pulses. Ta da! The quick oats have been made.

After adding in a banana, nut butter (I use peanut, but you can use almost anything!), applesauce, maple syrup, and a few spices, you have a fantastic cookie base that is delicious on its own. But, we all know we're not going to stop there. Time to get creative with the mix-ins!

I use my largest cookie scoop, which holds a scant 1/4 cup, for above-average size cookies. My batches usually yield around 9, more than enough for the week, but you can feel free to make yours bigger or smaller - just remember to adjust your baking time!

These guys don't like to spread on their own, so I like to aid the process by pressing them down with the bottom of a drinking glass about halfway through the baking process. It's also important to let them cool completely before trying to remove them from the pan, since they're a little more baked-oatmeal and a little less regular-cookie when hot. Don't worry, after 10-15 minutes they are ready to be bagged or snacked on for the week ahead!

Morning Cookies (Vegan, Gluten Free, No Refined Sugar)
Adapted from Joy the Baker 
Yields 9


2 cups quick oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup peanut butter (or the nut butter of your choice)
1/4 cup maple syrup (I used sugar-free, but regular or honey will also work)
1/2 cup mashed banana
1/2 tsp vanilla
1-1 1/2 cups mix-ins


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Combine all ingredients except for mix-ins in food processor until combined, about 2-3 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl every minute. (Note: If using old fashioned oats, add them first, pulse 5-6 times to break them down, then all remaining ingredients). 
3. Stir in mix-ins by hand until well combined.
4. Drop 1/4 inch scoops onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
5. Bake for 15-16 minutes, edges will be golden brown, pressing cookies with a glass about halfway through. Let cool. 


Calories: 265, Fat: 13g, Carbs: 32g, Fiber: 4.31g, Sugars: 13.8g, Protein: 8.3g

Happy baking!


Monday, February 24, 2014

low fat whole wheat cinnamon rolls (no yeast required!)

I like to think I have pretty good self control. I don't buy shoes just because they're on sale. I make myself coffee at home every day instead of splurging at Starbucks. I avoid eye contact with the Reese's peanut butter cups as I'm checking out of the grocery store. 

But, we all have our weaknesses, and when it comes to the smell of warm, pillowy, cinnamon sugar goodness, I'm a goner. (Seriously, when I'm alone in an airport, I feel like I have to strategically plot my course to avoid any and all Cinnabons.)

In an effort to satisfy these cravings, and not end up missing a flight just to be found under a pile of empty Cinnabon containers, I had to find an easy, healthy, and quick recipe for cinnamon rolls that I could feel good about. These babies don't need any yeast, take about thirty minutes to whip up, and reheat like a dream. Basically, perfection. My self control thanks me. 

I will admit, things start out a little weird, but trust me on this one. Applesauce is cut into the flour mixture to get the dough started. You can use a pastry cutter for this, but I prefer to use two forks - the last thing I need is another kitchen gadget! Then, the almost-dough gets chilled for ten minutes.

This is a very handy time to get your cinnamon-sugar mixture together and get your butter melted for the filling. (Wouldn't be a cinnamon roll without it!)

With the addition of milk and vinegar, the dough comes together easily. I did 80% of the work in the bowl and finished the kneading off with my hands on the counter. Feel free to add a little more flour if your dough is too tacky. 

Once you get your dough rolled out to about a 1/2 inch thick, things started to get a little messy. At this point, you want to brush on the melted butter, sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture evenly, and roll the dough into a log. Once it's rolled up, you can even out any bulges - I find my middle to always get a little thicker than the rest. Then, slice your log into twelve even sections.

Okay, okay. You caught me. I totally said twelve, but only have ten. It was early and I was feeling generous! Either way, you want to make sure you space your rolls out so they have room to grow and bake all the way through.

When they come out of the oven twenty minutes later they will look so good even your kitten will want one. But, if you let them cool for a few minutes while you make a quick icing, they will be taken from "so good" to "life changer". 

And they totally are.

Healthy Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls (No Yeast Required!)
Yields 12 servings


1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour 
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce (I used one small container)
1/2 cup skim milk (can substitute almond)
1 teaspoon white vinegar 
1 tablespoon butter, melted
4 tablespoons sugar 
2 teaspoons cinnamon

3 tablespoons powdered sugar 
1-2 tablespoons skim milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, combine flours, baking powder, and salt. Add applesauce and combine until shaggy. Chill in refrigerator for ten minutes.
3. Combine 3 tablespoons sugar with cinnamon and mix.
4. Melt butter and let cool.
5. Remove dough from refrigerator and add milk, vinegar, and remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar. Combine until dough comes together into a tacky ball. Remove from bowl and knead, adding extra flour if necessary. 
6. Roll dough into an oval shape, about 1/2 inch in thickness.
7. Brush on melted butter, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture, and roll into a log. With a sharp knife, cut into 12 even sections.
8. Grease a pie pan and place rolled sections cut side down. Space evenly for even cooking.
9. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.
10. While rolls cool, combine powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla. Pour over rolls and enjoy!

Note: These reheat fantastically in the microwave! 
Vegan Option: Substitute Earth Balance for butter and almond milk for skim.


Calories: 111, Fat: 1g, Carbs: 25g, Protein: 3g

Happy baking!


Saturday, February 15, 2014

healthy classic banana bread

I wouldn't say that I use baked goods to bribe people, but I do think there is a certain incentive to agree to a favor when there are, let's say, cookies involved. That's what happened a few weeks ago when I had the opportunity to photograph the National Cathedral and hoped to borrow some extra equipment from a friend. I generally shoot with a light body and a short lens, but I wanted a few back up options, knowing that I probably wouldn't get the chance to shoot from the rafters of the building again. In return, I promised a loaf of banana bread.

To be honest, my Mom is kind the banana bread guru in my life and I rarely make it myself. Nevertheless, I decided that having a healthy version in my arsenal wouldn't hurt, especially given how comforting a warm slice can be in the dead of winter when I'm dreaming of picking fresh fruit and dressing in less than three layers.

I took advantage of the snow day (fellow D.C.-ers, are you dug out yet?) and the super ripe bananas I had been waiting on to test out this lightened-up version of a classic quick bread. Embarrassingly, I doubled the butter needed to get this recipe started and decided it was a sign to just make a double batch! I ended up with a full loaf and twelve muffins, which means I've got snacks for the week. I believe the term "happy accident" would be appropriate here.

Quick tip: I keep my baking bananas in a brown paper bag with the top folded over. Science tells me that helps them ripen faster than just sitting on your counter due to gases being emitted and the concentration of said gases and other concepts that I just don't have room in my brain for. All I know is, it works.

Banana bread is great on its own, but walnut and chocolate chips really take it to the next level. I pulled out some unbroken walnuts to decorate the top and give it that professional "did YOU make this?" quality.

Once I had all my dry ingredients ready to go, I added the walnuts and chocolate and gave it a good toss in the flour mixture. I find the coating helps suspend them in the batter and helps avoid having a bottom layer consisting of chocolate and nuts. 

Also, since I live on the wild side, while most recipes call for you to really mash the bananas well, I like to be a little more gentle to I get pieces of fruit throughout the bread. (Okay, maybe I just really like mix-ins! You never want to share a pint of ice cream with me, unless plain vanilla is your thing.)

Since the loaf was a gift, you'll have to trust that the muffins adequately represent the perfect texture of this bread. (For those of you going the muffin route, they only take about 14-17 minutes in the oven!) 

The best part about banana bread? It really does get better over time. I find that it's best the second or third day, which makes it a great bake-ahead project.

Healthy Classic Banana Bread
Adapted from Cooking Light
Yields 14 servings


1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 1/2 mashed ripe bananas (about 2 bananas)
1/3 cup 0% plain Greek yogurt (feel free to use honey, banana, or vanilla flavors)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional: 1/2 to 3/4 cup mix-ins


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cream butter and sugars together on medium speed, about one minute. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
3. Add banana, yogurt, and vanilla, and beat on medium speed until blended.
4. Sift or whisk together flours, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
5. Add dry mixture to wet mixture and combine on low until just blended. Do not over-mix! (I avoid this by letting my stand mixer do about 50% of the work, then mixing it the rest of the way by hand. Over-mixing leads to tough breads, which no one likes!).
6. Spoon batter into a loaf pan that has been greased with cooking spray and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a knife speared through the center comes out clean.
7. Cool on wire rack for ten minutes, remove from pan, and let cool completely. 

Nutritional Information:

Calories: 165, Fat: 3.85g, Cholesterol: 39mg, Carbs: 28g, Fiber: 2g, Protein: 4.5g

(For comparison, Starbucks' Banana Bread has nearly 500 calories a slice!)

Monday, February 10, 2014

well, well, look who's back

You know when the world makes something so obvious it's hard to ignore? Yup, me too.

In the past week three interesting things have happened. First, I received a very sweet email from a reader (Hi, Michelle!) asking what had happened to me and my blog. Then, a friend from graduate school asked me if I could share a recipe of a photo I had posted on Instagram. Last, I found out that this little corner of the Internet still receives several hundred page views a day.

The kind email made me smile to myself and reminisce. The friendly request made me remember how much I love photographing and sharing useful and delicious recipes. But the last tidbit, the fact that people out there (you all!) are still clicking over here (to me!), really got me thinking.

I know a lot of dust has collected, 882 days worth to be exact, but I've missed this place and connecting with all of you. Plus, it would be downright rude of me to tune out life's very clear sign to get back to blogging, especially since I have kept baking and snapping (far less fancy) photos of the results. To prove it, a sampling of evidence below!

(White Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti, Whole Wheat Cinnamon Buns, Blueberry Muffins, and Gluten Free Almond Joy Pie)

Monday, September 12, 2011

browned butter blondies

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i've been gone for a while. well, longer than a while. i've missed baking and i've missed my readers and today i decided to take a few hours, un-busy myself, and make something spectacular to get myself back in to the blogging groove. that treat, ladies and gentleman, is browned butter blondies. they actually double as the best air fresheners money can buy - and these are actually edible!

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it all starts with butter. five totally magical words. i chopped my butter into rough tablespoons and let them melt over medium heat, swirling every thirty seconds or so. once it all melted i grabbed a spoon and stirred constantly, fearing that i would end up with hardened caramel fused permanently to the bottom of my pan.

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the end result is a bowl of pure heaven. liquidy caramel perfection that will take the every day blondie, which i normally don't care very much for, over the top.

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with very little effort (seriously, no mixer needed!) after the butter-melting, you have yourself a pan of blondies ready for the oven. i added walnuts to half of mine, due to a request from the peanut gallery/baking assistants, but you can add or not add any toppings you'd like. oh, and good luck trying keep yourself from eating all this raw.

cat naps

then you have to wait the thirty grueling minutes until those bad boys can come out of the oven. to pass the time i laid on the floor, supported by my new and on sale target pillows, and kept an eye on my cat. she decided the best place for a nap was directly under my tripod, which i thought would end in disaster. she's more responsible than i give her credit for.

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then, the moment of truth. these blondies have a soft, melt-in-your-mouth center and a delicious and crispy edge - my personal favorite part. the walnuts added a really nice nutty flavor and crunch that complimented the browned well. we also tossed around the idea of incorporating bananas somehow, an idea that might be featured on a post in the near future.

oh, and this recipe was adapted from cooking light, so it is surprisingly not too terrible for you. i ended up halving the recipe, what i usually do when i try anything for the first time, but i would definitely recommend making an entire batch. these will go fast. 

browned butter blondies
adapted from cooking light
yields 24 servings


9 ounces (about 2 cups) all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 egg whites


1. preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
2. weigh or measure flour, sugar, baking power, and salt in a large bowl. whisk to combine.
3. slice butter into rough tablespoons and cook in a small skillet over medium-high heat until lightly browned, stirring frequently once butter melts. pour into bowl and let cool, about ten minutes.
4. once cooled, combine eggs and butter with a whisk. 
5. pour butter mixture over flour mixture and fold together until just combined. 
6. pour batter into a greased 9x13 baking pan coated with cooking spray and smooth top with spatula.
7. bake for 30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
8. cool completely on a wire rack before cutting.

nutritional information:

calories: 170, fat: 4.8g, protein: 1.9g, carbs: 30.5g, fiber: 0.3g, cholesterol: 13mg, sodium: 108mg

as always, thanks for reading & happy baking!

ps: my sister & i are starting a small baking company in the dc area, so there's a good chance i may be testing out new recipes here. stay tuned for more!

Monday, June 27, 2011

1:1 berry cobber

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i'm officially moved, settled and trying to get my act together and start blogging again.

in hopes that you will forgive me for being away for so long i'm offering up this recipe that is a seemingly impossible combination of easy and delicious. seriously, you usually have to pick between one or the other, but this baby blows that theory right out of the water.

i've been doing my best to take advantage of all the berries that are coming into season right now by going to pick them myself. there's just something about coming home with red fingers and scraped ankles and pounds and pounds of berries. 

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this recipe calls for 2 1/2 to 3 cups of berries, which is about the same amount of batter used, hence the 1:1 title. i used a combination of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and a handful of cherries. i just realized cherries might not technically be a berry? can anyone confirm or deny this? they do end in "erry", but i'm not convinced.

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basically, you stick a few tablespoons on butter in the pan while your oven is preheating and let it get warm and melty. whip up the batter, stick in the berries, cover with pecans and brown sugar and you're done! seriously, how easy is that?

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warning: when you take this pan out of the oven you will be tempted to dig right in. seriously, it smells that good. when i ran my knife around the edge of the pan and caught a rogue berry i thought it would be smart to pop it in my mouth. boy, i was wrong. molten hot berry lava, as it turns out, equals major mouth burning.

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but, if you have the self control to ignore it and let it cool you will have a summery, seasonal and scrumptious dessert on your hands. i quickly threw together some whipped cream to dollop on top, it's the boyfriend's favorite, but you could easily use cool whip, ice cream, or just let the cake fly solo. 

to close, thank you for bearing with me during my brief hiatus. now that i'm settled i'm really looking forward to getting back into the swing of things blog-wise. i've missed you all!

1:1 berry cobbler

serves 9 


2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 to 3 cups chopped fruit
1/4 cup pecans (optional)
1/4 cup brown sugar

1. preheat oven to 375 degrees. add butter to 8x8 baking pan and place in oven during preheat. keep an eye on it and make sure to take it out once the butter is completely melted.

2. coarsely chop fruit and set aside.

3. in a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. add milk and continue to whisk until batter has no lumps.

4. in baking pan with melted butter, pour batter in but do not stir! the butter will pool around the sides and top - this is totally okay.

5. place berries evenly over batter and sprinkle with nuts and brown sugar. bake for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown and tests done.

nutritional information:

calories: 219, fat: 7.14g, cholesterol: 7mg, sodium: 133mg, carbs: 37g, fiber: 2.18g, sugars: 25g, protein: 2.84g.

as always, thank you for reading & happy baking!


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

i'm still alive!


dear loving readers,

i'm still alive, i still exist, i'm thinking of you all and can't wait to get back to blogging.

sadly, the only thing i've had the time, energy or the mixer to make are those guava & cream cheese cupcakes up there. they were decent, not fantastic, and i feel like i've lost a little of my mojo. i know, i'm a little sad too. but, there's a light at the end of the ever-shortening tunnel: we move in to our gorgeous new apartment on friday!

yup, things are going to be hectic until (and, let's be honest, probably shortly after) then, but once we're settled i'll be able to bake up a storm and maybe leave baked goods outside the doors of all my neighbors. that's neighborly, right? or is it weird and creepy? either way, it's probably going to happen.


food hasn't totally left my life since my blogging hiatus. i've actually been dining al fresco a lot, which is a favorite thing that i forget about as soon as the weather dips below 70 degrees. 

(please ignore the lower half of my generously proportioned cat sticking interrupting my photo. he's loving deck-life too, mostly engaging in bird harassment.)


i also went strawberry picking last week, which was fantastic and delicious and a great way to spend some time outside. it's been surprisingly cool in DC (mixed with unbearably hot, don't get me wrong!) and i've been trying to log in some outdoor hours before the real heat wave comes in and stays.

i'm also furiously hitting refresh on the websites of local farms with sour cherries. i've never picked them before and rumor has it their season is very short, so i'm staying diligent! there must be cherry pies in my future!

okay dear readers, i've got to get back to job hunting and cover letter writing, but check back soon and expect wonderful & summery treats in your blogging-futures.

as always, thanks for reading.


ps: GWB now has a mobile site! yup, that means you can carry all my recipes around in your pocket and pull them up without wading through clunky browser nonsense. you don't have to do any work beforehand either, you'll automatically be rerouted there. how 'bout that!