Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sweaters and scarves; or, Chocolate Date-Nut Banana Muffins

Okay. So I've caved. I busted out my winter clothes last night. I'm wearing a sweater, scarf, and pants. I've started drinking hot coffee again. I'm starting to concede that autumn is rolling in.

But I still can't bring myself to drink a dang pumpkin latte.

These muffins are my first step towards fall cooking. Warm, wholesome, and filled with chewy dates and crunchy sunflower seeds.


They're (relatively) healthful, but still pack a beautifully chocolatey punch. Takes some of the guilt out of stress eating.

Three flours come together: almond, all-purpose, and whole wheat.

Flour meets banana, meets date, meets deep, dark cocoa powder. Boom boom pow.

Chocolate Date-Nut Banana Muffins

Based loosely on two recipes from Small Batch Baking for Chocolate Lovers

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup almond meal
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 banana, mashed
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup almond milk
1 1/2 tbsp well-beaten egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup chopped roasted almonds
1/4 cup chopped, dried dates

Preheat oven to 325F. Spray the muffin tins with nonstick baking spray. Set aside.

In a bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Stir in banana, oil, milk, egg, and vanilla. Fold in the seeds, almonds, and dates.

Divide batter among 5 muffin tin cups. Top with additional seeds, almond meal, dates, and brown sugar. Bake 25 minutes, or until muffins spring back when touched lightly.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Holdin' on to that summer feelin' ; or, Friday I'm in love

I'm in love with: sending a box of sunshine.

I'm in love with: flowery eggs.

I'm in love with: serving ice-cold wine with frozen grapes.

I'm in love with: summery, no-cook recipes.

I'm in love with: bright, delicious edamame trail mix.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Friday I'm In Love: Gettin' Crafty

I love fall... almost as much as I love winter. I'm looking forward to cooler days, autumn colors... and an excuse to stay in on a rainy fall weekend and get creative.

I'm in love with: beautifying my apartment fridge.

I'm in love with: knitting up a bunch of these cute coffee cup cozys.

I'm in love with: decorating my walls with reminders of where I've been.

I'm in love with: these adorable, simple necklaces.

I'm in love with: Upcycling all my old wine corks.

Happy Friday, all!

P.S. Bucket List Update!


  1. Going to a drive-in movie theatre
  2. Tubing with friends
  3. Taking a road trip with a killer playlist x2! (Duluth, MN and Bozeman, MT)
  4. Picking TONS of berries-- and eating only berries for an entire day with no guilt
  5. Saying "yes" to everything for a day (frightening) (Led me to do some pretty incredible things-- especially since I did this on my Montana vacation!)
  6. Saying "no" to everything I don't want to do for a day (empowering) (And it was awesome)
  7. Throwing an old-fashioned pajama party with the girls and staying up all night
  8. Hosting a "Tour de Franz" (running back and forth between friends' apartments and mine while sampling boxed wines and wearing mustache tattoos)
  9. Buying a new novel, going to a coffee shop, and sitting outside sipping iced americanos while reading an entire book in one fell swoop (Finished reading "The Sisters" by Nancy Jensen for my book club while drinking a ton of coffee at Einstein's Bagels in Chicago)
  10. Go to a music festival and be the first one dancing
  11. Putting the strangest things I can think of into cookies and sharing them with you.
  12. Learn to make one signature cocktail

Women ROCK; or, the culinary aftermath

Last weekend, my good friends Deborah and Karen ran Women ROCK MN with me in St. Paul. We all finished upright and smiling. I was so proud-- my second half marathon, and I cut almost 16 minutes off of my previous finishing time!

The finish line was super-welcome (the course was over 13.1, so I was ready to be done). We were greeted with shirtless firemen, sapphire necklaces, and custom champagne glasses.

Gentleman Caller was super-supportive, and showed up to cheer me on at the finish. Our conversation over coffee while waiting for our marathoners to finish  went like this:

Me: The shirtless firemen weren't even hot... and that was supposed to be a draw for this race.

GC: [awkwardly] I'm... sorry?

Me: If you were really sorry, you'd take off your shirt.

GC: Uhm....


When I got home, I made a pizza using delicious crust from Trader Joe's and anything I had in my fridge. This is called the I'm-going-on-another-trip-so-let's-use-up-everything-in-my-fridge pizza. Delicious.

I also drank wine from my finisher's glass and watched a marathon (ha! get it?) of Property Brothers.

BTW... sriracha goes on everything in my house.

It was great to run with Deborah and Karen and to see GC at the finish line, but boy, was I ready for some hermit time... with Roo.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Why is Caribou already selling pumpkin lattes!?; or, Lemon Raspberry Pound Cake

I used to use the availability of pumpkin-flavored treats at coffeeshops as my barometer for whether or not fall had "arrived." Every year, shops push the release of those flavors earlier and earlier...

And, during the middle of August, my beloved Caribou released their pumpkin chai latte. While delicious, this is FAR too early for it to be pumpkin-flavored-things-season. As far as I'm concerned, we have summer until September 21st.

So I'm kicking and screaming and resisting having my last days of summer taken over by pumpkin with this lemon raspberry pound cake and wearing sundresses 'til the cows come home.

Lemon and raspberry are two flavors that, together, are quintessential summer for me. So I baked them in a cake and topped it with an intensely lemony glaze.

Serve it with Greek frozen yogurt. Summertime for the win!

Lemon Raspberry Pound Cake

Adapted from Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins, and More

2 1/3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 large eggs
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 tbsp freshly grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
2 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries, cleaned and dried

Preheat oven to 325F. Spray a long loaf pan or bundt pan with baking spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients, except the powdered sugar. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and lemon zest until light in color. Add in the oil and lemon juice, and beat for an additional two minutes. Reduce the mixer speed, and slowly add in powdered sugar by 1/4 cup at a time. Beat in each egg one at a time, alternating with the addition of flour mixture. Scrape down bowl as needed.

Spread 1/4 of the batter in pan. Sprinkle in some raspberries; top with another 1/4 of the batter. Repeat until all raspberries and batter are used, ending with batter.

Bake for 1 hour and 15-20 minutes, until golden brown and springy to touch. Allow to cool completely, and serve with frozen yogurt.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Happy Labor Day!; or, Black Bean Quinoa Burgers

I've been in Minnesota for over two years. I love it here, I do, but there are some cultural things that still escape me.

Hot dishes. Vikings football. Prince (but then again, he's an enigma to everyone, right?)

The one that is most boggling to me? Summer cabins. And, without fail, in the summers, half my friends head north to their family cabins for a weekend of boating and... well, I don't know what people actually do in cabins, honestly. But on holiday weekends, almost everyone disappears.

So here I am. Labor day. Time to grill out-- in a deserted city.

And guess what? I'm excited for this Party of One.

I'm perking myself up with my favorite vegetarian patties. I first tasted these black bean quinoa patties at Birchwood Cafe in Minneapolis.

These I do get. These are life-changing.

Panko, a black bean puree, and quinoa come together.

Grilled, served on a whole wheat bun, topped with fresh lettuce, tomato, onion, avocado, and a smear of mustard. Perfection.

Happy labor day!

Black Bean Quinoa Burger

Based on my favorite meal at Birchwood Cafe 

1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 can rinsed and drained black beans
1/2 cup grated onion, patted dry
3 tbsp olive oil
2 garli cloves
1 sliced, seeded jalapeno
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 cup panko crumbs

Cook the quinoa in 1 1/3 cups water for 15-20 minutes, until water is gone and quinoa can be fluffed. Set aside

Place all ingredients except the quinoa and panko in a food processor. Pulse until combined into a paste-like mixture.

Pour quinoa and panko into a bowl. Transfer bean mixture to bowl and stir to combine. Form into 8 patties. Refrigerate for 1 hour, to solidify patties and combine flavors. Patties can be frozen for later use, or baked at 400F for 10 minutes, or cooked in a skillet with olive oil until browned. Serve with all the fixings on a whole wheat bun (including avocado), and a side of oven sweet potato fries.