Category: Sweets & Treats

Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake

I’m not sure if you’ve gathered this about me by now, but I’m not really much of a baker. I can safely say this is the truth for a few reasons.

First and foremost, I’ve always been more of the “creative” type in the kitchen and I always have a very hard time following recipes. It’s not that I’m incapable of doing so. It’s just that baking is so exact that, personally, I can never get that excited about it.

What’s so exciting about following directions??

Nothing, I say!

That’s what I’ve always loved so much about cooking. Sure, there are techniques that I may need to know or ratios that are important but, ultimately, every time I whip something up in the kitchen the best part, for me, is that I don’t need to think about measuring or having things precisely a specific way and I know that whatever I make will still turn out delicious!

Another thing about baking is that the result of baking is so rarely healthy that I can’t  justify even bothering to bake something. Sure, there are some baked goods that I adore. I love a buttery croissant or cheese danish, I swoon over carrot cake, and I have a hard time saying no to brownies (especially if there are nuts in them!). Luckily, though, it’s always pretty easy for me to refuse a slice of chocolate cake, apple pie, or a big deli blueberry muffin.  As someone who typically advocates eating healthy, when I DO bake it’s usually something  like my banana oat muffin/bars or something similar, where there is no white flour or butter to be found!

For Easter this year, though, when I decided to make breakfast for the family I knew that I wanted to have something sweet to accompany the quiche I was making and although fruit is delicious (and was had in abundance) I decided to give baking  something a whirl.  Another pastry that I enjoy and my husband in particular loves is coffee cake. Nothing too crazy about it. Not some fancy, fruity, glazed nonsense.  Just a lovely cinnamon swirl coffee cake.

I found a fairly basic recipe for a standard classic coffee cake and spruced it up to make it my own (because I just can’t help myself). The batter is spiked with lemon zest and cinnamon and uses white whole wheat flour to get some fiber in your diet! I also used plain, nonfat greek yogurt to replace the traditional sour cream used in most coffee cake recipes and this recipe turned out perfectly moist and tender.  The cinnamon swirl contains oats and walnuts to bulk it out because I wanted as much swirl as possible without adding anymore sugar to the recipe.  The resulting coffee cake was delightful, especially paired with a steaming hot cup of English Breakfast Tea with milk and honey (or ya know…coffee…if you’re like most people.) I hope you enjoy this recipe!

coffee cake

Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake

For the Coffee Cake
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain, nonfat greek yogurt

For the Cinnamon Swirl
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9×9 inch baking dish with some nonstick spray and set aside.

To make he cinnamon swirl: combine the sugars, oats, walnuts, and cinnamon in a small dish. Add the vanilla and the softened butter and, using your hands, smush everything together until the butter is distributed and the mixture is crumbly. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer if that what you’ve got) cream together the butter and sugar for about 5 minutes on medium speed until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, vanilla extract, and lemon zest and mix until just combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Slowly add 1/2 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture with your mixer on low speed. Add 1/2 of the yogurt and combine. Add the remaining flour and combine, followed by the yogurt.

Spread half of the batter into the prepared baking dish. Top with half of the cinnamon swirl mixture. Top with the remaining batter, making sure you spread it out to cover the swirl, and top with remaining cinnamon mixture.

Bake the coffeecake for 45-55 minuets, or until a toothpick (or heck, I always just use a knife) inserted in the center of the coffeecake comes out clean. Let cool for about 10 minutes before serving…preferably to people you love…because you’re not going to want to share this coffeecake with just anyone.

 

Do you have a favorite breakfast pastry??  

Do you prefer coffee or tea??

Last, but certainly not least,  don’t forget to grab a badge and link up with your favorite real food recipe, today!!

Twenty-Something & Starving

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How ’bout them Apples

Well hello there! I hope you’re all enjoying your weekend so far! 🙂

Did you do anything exciting today?

Me? I slept until 10!!

Ooops!!

I’m pretty sure I fell asleep on the couch last night around 10:30…woke up at 12:30 and brushed my teeth… actually went to bed…and ya know…slept for another nine and a half hours!! I guess I needed it! I did feel pretty great when I woke up.

Johnny and I took our time this morning before we did anything. We had some breakfast together and watched NFL Gameday Morning. It’s not exactly my faaaavorite past time, but I do enjoy spending time together in the morning  just hanging out with Johnny and the puppies on the couch. It was super rainy today, too. The perfect day for an extra long morning lounge!!

apple crispWe did get up eventually, and we went to the gym around 1ish. I was sooooooo pleased I was able to run a full two miles today without stopping to pee!!! I felt so great! I hope it wasn’t a fluke and that I can keep it up. It’s up to Baby, really, but I’ve got my fingers crossed!

apple and nutsWe made a quick pitstop at Wegmans to grab some groceries before we came home to lounge some more. I needed to snag a few items for  my Chicken Corn Chowder which I made for dinner tonight. It was perfect! So toasty warm and cozy! I also pretty much knew immediately when I woke up this morning (because I pretty much only think about food) that I wanted to have a dessert tonight! I’ve had a serious sweet tooth lately (who am I kidding? I always have a serious sweet tooth!) but I wanted something I didn’t need to feel too awful about eating (like alllllllll of the Christmas Cookies I had this year!) So I thought long and hard about what I wanted until…apple crisp with froyo

LIGHTBULB!! Apple Crisp!! It’s been quite a while since I’ve had a good apple crisp. I know that they can be quite heavy with lots of butter, brown sugar, and white flour. I lightened mine up by using white whole wheat flour (and hardly any at all), lots of oats, coconut oil, and honey. I also made them in individual portions which made it super easy to control myself. This recipe is so simple and guilt free…I may eat the leftovers for breakfast. Don’t judge me. 😀

Honey Walnut Apple Crisp

  • 3 granny smith apples (I leave the skin on mine), cored and chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 tablespoon + 1/3 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon + 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup of rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (you may want to warm it in the microwave for 30 seconds to make sure it’s liquid)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • Optional: Vanilla Frozen Yogurt/Ice Cream

close up of apple crisp with froyoPreheat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit.

Spray four ramekins (or one big dish…whatever you have will work) with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the apples with 1 tablespoon white whole wheat flour, lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Stir well and set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine the remaining flour, spices, oats, and walnuts. Mix well to combine. Add the coconut oil and honey and mix well to incorporate.

Divide the apple mixture evenly among the four servings (or pour them all into a single baking dish). Top each portion with equal parts of the oat and walnut mixture.

Place the individual ramekins on a sheet tray and pop them in the oven for 45 minutes or until the apples have softened and the crisp is golden brown. Top with vanilla frozen yogurt or ice cream if you desire. (I desired two scoops…one for me and one for baby.)

Serve and enjoy! Or, ya know, if you’re me…take lots of pictures and try not to drool all over your camera before proceeding to devour your whole little crisp in about 3 minutes flat…and scrape the bottom of your little crispy container for all of the melty, delicious, froyo soup at the bottom. YUM!!!spoon of delicious

By the way… if I dooooo have this for breakfast tomorrow… I plan to top it with some honey greek yogurt. Froyo soup is for dessert only. Even I have SOME standards.

all gone

 

 

Certainly Uncertain

So few things in life are certain. Ben Franklin taught us only two things in life are certain: death and taxes. I always found this kind of dark and depressing. This is a little better:

*laser sounds*

Oh Harrison, what a dream boat.

Erm, anywho, I’m not trying to get all deep and weird here, by the way. What I’m getting at, I suppose, is that I am absolutely certain that just about nothing is certain.

Take pregnancy for example. Pregnancy is never certain. No matter how many times you read “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” you can never really know what to expect. You can get a pretty good ideaaaa of what to expect. Really, though, you won’t be certain of how your experience will be until you have it.

It’s kind of crazy for me actually. I may have heard my little munchin’s heartbeat twice already, but there are some days when I’m like…“Are we suuuuuuuuuuuuuure there’s a baby in there?” I’ve heard so many horrible stories about women spending the entire first three months of their pregnancy in the bathroom or passed out on the couch. Every email I get says “your nausea should be subsiding now” and “you’ll be less tired soon” and “soon your appetite will return”  and while I’ve absolutely had some mornings where I didn’t quite feel tip-top I’m still completely flabbergasted that I’ve made it this far feeling as good as I do. I’d like to attribute it to my healthy lifestyle, but I may never know for certain!

One of the few things that I am always certain of is my ability to make my Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins, without a recipe in front of me, every single time.

Johnny loves these muffins. I love these muffins. My in-laws love these muffins. They’re so delicious and chocolaty and I never feel too guilty eating them because I don’t use any butter or oil in the recipe. I love knowing that every time I make them they will come out exactly as I anticipate.

Besides bananas, the primary ingredient in these muffins is oats. These muffins are almost more like individual baked oatmeals than they are muffins, as they are quite dense. But two of these babies will ring in at just over 300 calories – perfect for the first meal of the day – and you get a wonderful combination or fruit, whole grains, protein, and chocolate!  Oats are also fantastic for moms-to-be! The fiber will help to keep your belly full and keep away any hunger pangs until lunch time.

There is absolutely nothing bad about these muffins, except, perhaps, that we go through them so fast. I literally make these once a week. Sometimes, for funsies, I’ll make them in my mini muffin tin if I want them to be more snackable than breakfastable. I hope you love them as much as my family and I do!! Look at that cute lil’ muffin!

 

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

  • 4 super ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup nonfat milk
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1/4-1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4-1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Spray a standard or mini muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the mashed bananas, eggs, vanilla, milk, and sugars. Mix well.

Add the oats, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Stir until just combined.

Add the chocolate chips and walnuts and stir gently to incorporate.

Fill the muffin tin with the mixture, filling each cup just about to the top as these don’t rise too much.

Bake at 375 until golden brown, about 25 minutes.

The batch in this photo right here have some dried cranberries and 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder in them, too. Because why not? They’re my muffins and I can do what I want. Try the above recipe or add your own flair to them. Either way, I’m certain they’ll be awesome!

Confessions of an Omnivore

When you break it down to its most simple and basic definition, an omnivore is an animal or person that eats food of both plant and animal origin.

I am an omnivore and I am proud.

I love kale and blueberries. I love bacon and lobster. I love eggs and cheese.  I have no desire to omit any of these foods from my diet.

When it comes down to it, there are loads of other omnivorous creatures out there and I’m pleased as punch to be a part of the crew.

Turtles, Skunks, Chimpanzees, Hedgehogs, Sloths, Pigs, Red Pandas, and Piranhas are all omnivores!

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There have been times in my life where I’ve seriously considered vegetarianism – like after I watched Food Inc. for the first time or when I first started studying nutrition my freshman year of college.

Could I give up red meat, pork, and poultry? Probably. I’ve considered becoming a lacto-ovo-vegatarian or pesco-vegetarian before. Ultimately, though, I’ve always found both of those terms to be dripping in pretentiousness. “Hi. I’m Jen and I’m a pesco-vegetarian.” Ugh, I’d sound like such a douche! Particularly to friends and family who aren’t familiar with the terminology. I can just imagine someone saying “Why doesn’t she just say I only eat seafood?

Although I undoubtedly respect people who can adhere to a vegan lifestyle, I can openly admit that veganism is not something I’d ever be interested in. Now, don’t get me wrong,  I do love animals and  I certainly don’t support their “exploitation” or many parts of  American food and agribusiness industry, but it’s just not a lifestyle I want to live. The most “vegan” thing about me is probably the fact that I don’t eat veal or foi gras – though I tried both in culinary school.  I don’t think either of them are tasty enough to support the processes by which they are obtained.  Also,  I’ve never quite understood the vegan stance on honey. I’m not sure they all do either. Not hating…just saying.

It’s taken me  until very recently to realize that I think every food has its place in my life in one way or another.

Every food, of course, except for those few things I don’t eat. Aside from veal and foi gras, the list of things I don’t eat includes:

  • mayonnaise
  • dill (so also pickles)
  • anise flavored things (like black liquorice)
  • caraway seeds (rye bread)
  • sauerkraut
  • essentially anything containing these ingredients

Just so you know, and don’t judge me as hard, I have tried all of these things many ways on numerous occasions and I really just can’t stomach any of them. My Polish ancestors would be so disappointed in me.

The best part, in my opinion, about being an omnivore is that when I’m preparing food for myself or, ya know, whoever else happens to be around that day, I can use whatever I want! I love cheeseburgers, but I also love a great black bean burger, too! Usually at least two days a week I don’t eat any meat at all, but it’s quite rare that’s ever my intention. I just eat things that I enjoy! If what I make happens to be meatless, awesome! If it’s gluten free – spectacular! I think it’s such a blessing to have the ability so consume so many different things, as it assures my body has the best chance of obtaining all of the nutrients it needs from all of the necessary sources.

What brought on this omnivores rant?

Ha. I’m glad you asked…

Last night when I was preparing my breakfast for today I was just looking for something that would be tasty and good for me, which OBVIOUSLY is my favorite way to start the day. I threw some ingredients into a pot and before I knew it I realized it was vegan!

*Self Five*

I may not be a vegan, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy some tofu from time to time. I may not live a gluten free lifestyle, but I can’t stop eating quinoa! I think it’s so important to realize that you can do so much with food.

An omnivore’s options are only limited by their taste-buds.

Today’s recipe (I know, we’re finally here! Woot!) is so delicious and healthful that even the most carnivorous folks out there could enjoy this vegan and gluten free recipe… for breakfast OR dessert!!

Coconut Brown Rice Pudding

makes 2 servings

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1/2 can lite coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • Splenda, Stevia, or Whatever Sweetener You Like – to taste (I used 2 packets of Splenda)
  • 1/4 cup almonds, chopped, for topping

Combine all of the ingredients except the almonds in a small pot over medium-low heat.

Cover partially with a lid to allow some steam to escape.

Let cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching on the bottom.

Serve warm, topped with almonds and more cinnamon, and enjoy!

coconutbrownricepudding

Energy Bites and Peppermint Tea

That’s what making me happy today. 🙂

Energy bites and peppermint tea.

For those of you that know me you know that it’s exceedingly rare I ever go a day without a cup of tea…or four. But these days I do my very best to balance between the caffeinated and decaffeinated stuff.  I usually start my day with a big cup of English Breakfast tea, throw some green tea in the afternoon, and I spend my evenings drinking peppermint herbal tea. I’m telling you, even when I’m in the sourest of moods I find it pretty tough to stay angry when I take a sip of tea. Johnny even says I have a tea face…I think it looks something like this.

Anywho

Heh. Get it…because it’s an owl…

Seriously though. When I drink tea I make that face.

Now – onto the energy bites!! I, personally, am a huge fan of Larabars. They’re all natural and come in so many delicious flavors (although Central PA still hasn’t gotten it’s hands on any Carrot Cake  OR Blueberry Muffin ones *sigh*). I love the company as a whole and their dedication towards using all natural/organic/fair trade certified ingredients. HOWEVER – and I may or may not have mentioned this before – I’m poor and can’t justify spending money on them. At least where I shop they’re over $1/bar. Sooooooooo I’ve finally decided to take a crack at making a homemade version of them…with QUINOA!

When I made my Buffalo Chicken Quinoa and Cheese last week, I cooked up some extra quinoa that’s just been sitting around looking for a purpose. Why not throw some extra protein into these energy bites, right?! Right! The dates sweeten everything perfectly, the almonds are filled with protein and healthy fat, the cocoa powder will give you a dose of fiber and antioxidants, and the almond extract boosts the flavor to the next level. I adore these energy bites!

You need a food processor for this recipe and they’re a cinch to whip up! This recipe made 12 squares.

Chocolate Almond Quinoa Energy Bites

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 cup raw almonds
  • 1/8 cup unsweetend cocoa powder
  • 4 medjool dates
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Place the dates into the food processor and pulse until they form a sticky ball. Add the remaining ingredients to the food processor and let it wiz until everything is combined, scraping down the sides once or twice to make sure everything gets incorporated. Spread the mixture (which will be quite sticky- wet your fingers a bit to prevent it from sticking to you) onto a small pan to form an approximately 5×7 inch  rectangle about 1/2 an inch thick (I used the pan from my toaster oven).  Place in the refrigerator  to set – for at least an hour or two. Slice into squares and munch!!

Here’s what you start with…

the lineup

and here’s the finished product!

chocolate almond quinoa energy bites