Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I sound so whiny lately. I'm almost through, I swear.
But for now, for real: it's crunch time.
I've basically stopped doing the readings I'm supposed to be doing for school, so with those out of the way my revised to-do list looks something like this: 1 essay rewrite, 2 journal entries, 3 research essays (totaling 40-ish pages), and 4 final exams. Two and a half weeks to do it all. Wish me luck.

I am thankful for the boy who told me: "Make lists, your good at those. And Jacqueline, don't forget: one thing at a time."

I made a list today! Here I go...!

Raspberry Crumb Breakfast Bars
Adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

These are nice to have around, especially when you are in a hurry and have too much on the go. Make a pan of these and enjoy for breakfast, lunch, or midnight snack. I LOVE raspberries, and I LOVE oats. Match made in baking heaven! *Please note: I significantly reduced the amount of sugar this recipe called for. I like my raspberries with their famous tart-bite. By reducing the sugar, I think, you make these bars appropriate for eating no matter what time of day *

For the crust and crumb:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

For the raspberry filling:
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound raspberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Make the Crust and Crumb:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch glass or light coloured metal baking pan. Put a long piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, letting the parchment extend up the two short sides of the pan and overhang slightly on both ends. (This will make it easy to remove the bars form the pan after they have baked.) Butter the parchment.
Put the flour, brown sugar, oats, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon in a food processor. Pulse in short bursts until combined. Add the butter and pulse until loose crumbs form.
Reserve 1 cup of the mixture and set aside. Pour the rest of the mixture into the prepared pan and use your hands or the back of a large wooden spoon to push the crust into an even layer in the bottom of the pan. The crust should touch the sides of the pan. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let the crust cool. Keep the oven on while you make the raspberry filling.

Make the Raspberry Filling:
In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon, and flour together.
Add the raspberries, lemon juice, and butter and use your hands to toss gently until the raspberries are evenly coated.

Assemble and Bake the Bars!:
Spread the raspberry filling evenly on top of the cooled crust. Sprinkle the reserved 1 cup crust mixture evenly on top of the filling.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the pan every 15 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the filling starts to bubble around the edges.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then cut into squares and serve. the pars can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Days Like These...

It's been one of those weeks where I just wish I could curl up in a ball and sleep for forever. I've been too hard on myself, again, and instead of being normal and just getting over it, I've lashed out at the people I love the most. Seriously, sometimes I am really unreasonable.
It's not that I need to be told I'm awesome a million times a day. It's not really like that. I'm not one of those people that needs to be praised and my ego doesn't need stroking. I already know what I'm capable of. And yet this week I doubted, and this week I said to myself, "What the heck do you think you're doing Jacqueline? Who the heck do you think you are?" which is the WORST set of questions to ask yourself when you are feeling stressed and sad. If those questions were actions, they would equate to a one-two-punch to the stomach, causing the very breath within you to leave your body, and once it returns cause you supreme anxiety that you may now be suffering from internal bleeding.
I made a lot of lists this week. I made a list of what I'm going to plant in the garden this summer, where in New York I most want to eat, what I have to do for school in the next month (holy shoot!), and a list of things I really like. Making a list of things you like when you are feeling down is incredibly therapeutic. My list included Kywin!, jam, speed scrabble, having my back patted, having my hair played with, writing self indulgent journal entries, soft cat paws, and Romesco Sauce. There was more to it than that (I like and get excited about A LOT of things), but I think you get the point. The fact that condiments, such as jam and Romesco sauce made the list should indicate that I am kind of nuts-o for the stuff. My grandma makes the best ever jam, and I happen to make the best ever Romesco sauce. I could eat copious quantities of both, although preferably not together.
Romesco sauce, for those of you who don't know, is a roasted vegetable and nut dip/spread from heaven. Seriously. I just discovered the stuff on Christmas Eve of last year and now I think about it all the time. When we have it in the fridge, I make it my mission to incorporate it into every meal. I love it's bright flavour, it's pretty colour, and the way it makes everything it pairs with look a little more cheery. Yeah, it's a friggen dip. But wowza...

If you are also having one of those self-loathing days:
Try not to beat yourself up anymore. No one has it all figured out, not entirely anyway. If things aren't going as well as you wanted them to, learn from the situation, shake yourself off, and move on. Do not yell at boyfriend. Do not freak out at the person beside you in class when they ask to borrow a pen. Just take a deep breath and let it go. Write a list of things that make you happy and include even the most ridiculous of items/people/places (Hey, I'm not judging... my list contained condiments.) Try not to forget about all the goodness and beauty that surrounds you every day. It's there, I promise, if you take the time to look. The cherry blossoms are in bloom, and I swear the sun shone a little warmer today.

And you,
You are awesome. Don't forget that.

Romesco Sauce
Adapted from a recipe from Steven Imbach

Okay, yes, this recipe is a bit of work. But the work is SO worth it, and I can't emphasize that enough, and you won't understand until you can try it for yourself. This sauce it so ridiculously good, you may be tempted to eat it on it's own with a spoon. Frick, just thinking of it...
This recipe doesn't exactly use exact measurements. It's pretty awesome in that sense, because you can kind of just throw in what you have on hand. And I swear, it always turns out good (so long as you adhere, mostly, to the below instructions!).
If you are wondering if your vegetables HAVE to be roasted, the answer is yes. It's not Romesco sauce without the vegetables being roasted. Or at least, I don't think so. And you will be seriously compromising the flavor level of this sauce.

2 medium ancho chiles, roasted then soaked OR 2 teaspoons ancho chile powder (I used the the powder, and I found it really easily at my local grocery store)
1/2 - 1 cup blanched almonds, toasted (or hazelnuts)
4 large garlic cloves, roasted, peeled
1-2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded (fresh or canned) about 3/4 cup
2-3 large tomatoes, roasted, seeded, peeled. diced (canned, or tomato paste, 1 cup)
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne or hot paprika
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
1/2 - 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 slice crusty white bread, toasted and cubed (1/4 cup bread crumbs) (I used day-old baguette!)

Toast the chiles in a dry pan until they are aromatic and the color is mottled. Remove the seeds and stems. Place the chiles in hot water and allow to steep for 20 minutes. Drain and cut into small pieces - This is why I like to use the powder instead!

Heat 1 tsp of the olive oil in a skillet and fry bread until golden brown on both sides. Break the bread in half and let cool.

In a food processor: add the nuts and bread and process until finely ground. Add the remaining ingredients. Process until the ingredients are a thick puree. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Adjust consistency by adding additional olive oil and/or vinegar to taste.

And voila! I use Romesco sauce on just about ANYTHING when I have a bowl of it lying around. One of my personal favorite ways to eat Romesco sauce is putting it on top of my eggs (pictured above). Holy yum. But you can eat it with veggies, crackers, baguette and cheese, in sandwiches, or with roasted chicken!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It's Not What You Think...

It's getting to be that time again. That time in which I need to somehow make $5000 appear out of thin air. I'm starting to think about this, and that means that my "student summer" is almost beginning. I am trying not to stress, but I have a feeling there will be a few minor breakdowns in my near future. I'm trying to be logical. I can do this.
The logical side of my brain seems to have dissipated over the past couple weeks. I'm dreaming of flying to far away places, of lying on the beach in a perfect little bikini, of going to the gym 5 days a week because I actually have spare time. This, I would argue, isn't illogical. I am a determined little lady, who's aspirations I happen to KNOW will happen. Are happening. I'm not realistic (what an awful, dreaded word!), but I have all the faith in the world I can do it all, have it all, see it all.
When I say that my brain has become illogical, I'm mostly referring to my eating habits as of late. They are horrifying. I keep forgetting to eat these days. Between work, and school, and intense last minute homework sessions (ugh, who am I!? I never leave things for the last minute!) my eating habits have essentially become non-existent. The other day I had a POP TART for breakfast. A pop tart! Seriously. Then it was Ky's birthday and I got sent home with leftover cake, vowing I wouldn't eat any of it myself, but instead share it with my lovely family. And you know what happened the next morning? I ate that cake. I ate it for breakfast and I was hungry, and exhausted an hour later, willing myself to stay awake long enough to hear my teacher tell me what the hell John Donne is rambling on about in his poetry. That guy, by the way, is a really quite a sap. If nothing else, this semester I've learnt that I'm not really into the "romantic genre" of literature.
Anyway, on Tuesday I decided enough was enough. I missed my chickpeas, my whole grains, and bright vegetables that I used to see so often. So I made a salad, and I think all of my life's problems were solved after that.

This salad is holy-smokes-so-so-so-good status. Wheat berries are so delicious! I love their nutty taste and chewy texture. This salad really has quite the abundance of flavors: we've got said nuttiness from wheat berries, sweetness of orange dressing, smokiness of roasted peppers, and the peppery arugula. Mmmm! I'm quite sure it is very healthy as well. It gives me a lot of energy too, which comes in handy during early morning lectures!

I swear, I don't eat cakes and cookies all day every day. (starting today. better late than never...)
Wheat Berry and Arugula Salad
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen Best Recipes and Reviews 2011

I kind of do things my own way when it comes to this salad. The directions (in my opinion) are kind of fussy. Unless you are planning on serving this as part of a dinner course, I would suggest pouring all the dressing in with the wheat berries and chickpeas and letting them hang out in the fridge like that. That way, you can just grab a handful of arugula and add the dressing/topping as you need it. Otherwise (if you pour the dressing on the arugula to being with) you will end up with soggy leave, which is awful!

1 cup fresh orange juice (about 2 oranges)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup wheat berries
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup jarred roasted red peppers, drained, patted dry, and chopped
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)
Black Pepper
8 ounces baby arugula (about 8 cups)

For the dressing:
Bring the orange juice to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the juice is syrupy and reduced to 1/3 cup, 12 to 15 minutes.
Transfer the orange juice syrup to a small bowl and refrigerate until cool, about 10 minutes. Whisk in the cilantro, lime juice, water, oil, honey, garlic, cumin, salt, paprika, and cayenne, and set aside.

For the salad:
Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot. Add the wheat berries and 1/2 teaspoon salt, partially cover, and cook, stirring often, until tender but still chewy, about 1 hour. Drain the wheat berries and rinse them under cold running water until cool. Transfer the wheat berries to a large bowl and set aside.

Assemble the salad!:
Stir the chickpeas, roasted red peppers, feta, and half of the dressing into the bowl with the wheat berries. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. In a separate bowl, toss the arugula with the remaining dressing and divide among 4 plates. Arrange 1 cup of the wheat berry mixture on top of each salad and serve.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes and an Icing Crisis

As promised, here are the photos of our vegan (and gluten-free and refined sugar-free) chocolate cupcakes!

Vegan icing attempt #2!! (Attempt #1 already thrown in the trash)
Okay seriously? What the heck, vegan icing! Soo much wasted time and money!
Both recipes called for a basis of coconut oil, which I believe was at the root of the problem. It's solid at room temperature, but not completely smooth unless melted, which accounts for the chunky texture.
Despite it's unique appearance, we ventured on. Voila! A vegan chocolate cupcake with vanilla icing! Please note the mysterious drip oozing out of the icing. Weird, right? As I mentioned previously, the chocolate cakes were delicious, but that dang icing... We tried two different recipes, and both times we ended up with an icing that resembled overly sweet cottage cheese. What is the secret to vegan icing? If you happen to know the answer to that question, please humor me and tell me what on earth we did wrong! Both icing attempts yielded extraordinarily unfortunate results. Boo!
So into the garbage went vegan icing #2. We didn't want to leave our little cakes undressed, so we did the only thing we knew how, which was to make a coconut cream cheese icing instead - an icing that is so filled with un-vegan things that you know it has to be good. Finally an icing that looked white! and smooth! and creamy! All of the things our vegan icing wasn't. Ky said that the chocolate cake and cream cheese icing pairing could have been better. I think he was hoping for a billowy white vanilla frosting, which I agree would have been ideal. However, I feel like I could eat cream cheese icing out of a cereal bowl for breakfast and be set for life, so I thought the combo was sweet (so to speak).
To finish, just for fun, we sprinkled the freshly iced cakes with Bob's Organic Unsweetened Coconut flakes. Oh yes!
This project was certainly a learning experience. Come to think of it, I'm not sure why for a first real attempt at baking gluten-free and vegan, I decided to combine the two experiences into one. I like a good challenge or something (this a cliche, and a bit of a lie, I'm just trying I think of a reason for my decision). You know, for now, I'm going to stick with my familiar friends in the kitchen (butter! sugar! flour! oh my!). They're much better.

Photo's by Kyran Yeomans

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes (Gluten- and refined sugar- free)
Adapted from Babycakes by Erin McKenna

These cupcakes were super yummy. Unfortunately, your on your own in terms of icing these guys. I do NOT recommend the vegan icing in the Babycakes cookbook (see above, and previous post!), or that icing that comes from a can (come on, these cakes deserve better, and so does your body!). See what you can come up. You're industrious young people!

1 3/4 cups garbanzo - fava bean flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup arrowroot
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup coconut oil
1 1/3 cup agave nectar
3/4 cup homemade applesauce (or store bought unsweetened)
3 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup hot water or coffee

Preheat oven to 325 F. Line 2 standard 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the four, potato starch, cocoa powder, arrowroot, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt. Add the oil, agave nectar, applesauce, vanilla, and hot water to the dry ingredients. Stir until the batter is smooth.
Pour 1/3 cup batter into each prepared cup, almost filling it. Bake the cupcakes on the center rack for 22 minutes, rotating the tins 180 degrees after 15 minutes. The finished cupcakes will bounce back when pressure is applied gently to the center
Let the cupcakes stand in the tins for 20 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Spread with your favorite icing.

Yield: 24 cupcakes
Note: Store the cupcakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.