Brown Sugar Nut Bars

{ Monday, May 24, 2010 }
This recipe is perfect for when you want to bake something, but you haven't gone grocery shopping in three weeks and you have barely anything to cook with. There are very few ingredients because it is essentially cookie dough sans chocolate chips baked in bar form. In other words: so. good.

It is adapted from this old-school cookbook The New and Complete Encyclopedia of Cooking by Madame Benoit. According to the note on the inside page, my dad gave this to my mom on some sort of special occasion as a present. Now, not to be too judge-y, but if my significant other gave me a cookbook as a present, I would be like THIS ISN'T THE 1950s BI-ATCH. That's like getting your wife a book about how to iron men's shirts properly. But it does have interesting old-fashioned recipes, as well as tips on how to throw a "luncheon," so I can't hate. It's like a primary source from the olden days.

Brown Sugar Nut Bars (makes 16 squares)

1/2 cup Earth Balance shortening
2 cups firmly-packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon egg replacer mixed with 1/4 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup coarsely-chopped walnuts
Icing sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x9 pan.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the shortening until fluffy. Add the brown sugar and beat very well. Beat in egg replacer mixture and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients and chopped nuts. Gently fold into butter/sugar mixture.

Scoop dough into prepared pan and press down until it is flat and even. Bake approximately 30 minutes; the edges should be brown and pulling away from the pan. Sprinkle with icing sugar while still warm and cut into squares. It may seem like it is still raw inside, but the squares are supposed to be gooey in the middle.

Blueberry Orange Scones

{ Thursday, May 20, 2010 }
I get the urge to bake the way some people get the urge to lace up their sneakers and go for a run or pop into the nearest cafe for a steaming cup of coffee.  That's why on a recent Saturday morning I rolled out of bed - hair untamed, make-up unapplied - and began making scones in my pajamas.

Now I'd be lying if I said I hadn't had visions of baked goods dancing through my head since the beginning of the week.  But there's nothing like starting out a weekend with warm, doughy goodness straight from the oven.  It's a small miracle that I had the self-restraint to stay away from the oven that long.

These blueberry-orange scones aren't like the scones I've encountered before (but maybe that's because I was spoiled by having my first-ever scone in Dublin).  But that's fine by me, since these scones remind me of one giant, albeit oddly shaped, muffin top.  They're very moist, so moist, in fact, that you don't even need to butter then (that being said, everything really is better with butter).

Blueberry Orange Scones (yields 8)
Adapted from Food Network

For scones:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into chunks
1 cup milk, plus extra for brushing scones
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

For glaze:
1/2 cup orange juice, freshly-squeezed
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
zest of 1 orange
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a bowl.  With two forks (or a pastry cutter), cut butter into the mixture of dry ingredients, until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in milk and mix until just incorporated.  Fold blueberries into the batter; be careful not to crush them, or you will have purple scones.

Press out dough on a lightly floured surface and cut into eight equally sized triangles.  Place dough on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.

While scones are baking, prepare the glaze.  Mix orange juice and confectioner's sugar in a microwave-safe bowl until well-combined.  Stir in zest and butter, and then microwave  the mixture for 30 seconds.  Whisk glazes to remove any lumps, then brush over the slighty cooled scones.  Let the glaze sit for a minute, then serve and devour scones.

Banana-Nut Waffles

{ Sunday, May 16, 2010 }
Because of late-night fun times, I did not want to get out of bed on Saturday morning. So instead of sucking it up, I started to imagine what the best hangover cure would be. It involved a facial, because I always fall asleep in my makeup, and a foot massage, because my shoes hurt my feet. Then someone would bring me coffee in an obscenely large mug, and only then would I be up and at 'em.

Unfortunately, I do not have a team of personal estheticians at my disposal, so I thought of the best hangover cure that's also remotely possible: waffles! I also like saying, "I'm making waffles!" like the donkey in Shrek. I had to dig my waffle iron out of the basement and spend a significant amount of time cleaning it (there are spiders in my basement), but it was totally worth it.

This batter comes together quickly and it tastes like dessert. I have yet to learn exactly how much batter to put on a waffle iron, so mine always come out a bit wonky. I guess it just takes practice.

Banana-Nut Waffles (makes 14 waffles)
Adapted from Veganomicon

1 3/4 cup almond milk
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 very ripe bananas
3 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons agave syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup walnuts
nonstick cooking spray
Strawberries (for garnish)

Preheat your waffle iron. Pour milk, water, and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, mash the banana and stir in the milk mixture, oil, syrup, and vanilla.

Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg and mix with a fork until just combined. Finely chop nuts (I used a food processor) and fold into the batter.

Spray your waffle iron with nonstick spray, pour on some batter, and cook waffles the way your waffle-iron manual tells you to.

Serve with lots of strawberries and extra agave, and don't forget the coffee.

It's the friendship mug! ha ha.

Food Finds: Sakura Matcha Kit Kats

{ Friday, May 14, 2010 }
A few weeks ago my coworker returned from Osaka bearing treats.  She slid a Sakura Matcha Kit Kat, packaged in an adorable pink and green box, across my desk, and I immediately wondered why candy from the States wasn't nearly as cute.

In keeping with the color scheme, this Kit Kat was green, and while eating chocolate that's the color of moss might seem slightly off-putting, never fear.  I assure you that it's quite delicious and the subtle taste of green tea is absolutely delicious.

And if you think sakura matcha is an odd flavor, then you haven't seen the other Kit Kat flavors Japan has to offer.  NPR recently sampled some of them, so if you crave flavor combinations in Kit Kat and cantaloupe, well, you just got incredibly lucky.

Food Finds: Raw Pizza

{ Sunday, May 2, 2010 }
After work on Friday, I felt like I was on some sort of healthy kick (which for me typically lasts about 24 hours and occurs maybe 2-3 times a year), so I decided to treat myself to some take out from Gorilla Food Cafe. It's all raw vegan stuff, so if you order pizza and cake, it's still healthy right? Well, here is what my first foray into raw pizza looks like.

Verdict: quite yummy. The stuff in the middle is olive tapenade. You can't go wrong with a huge pile of olive tapenade.