August 30, 2008

Mango Kiwi Strawberry Tart

This is not your average tart. With an olive oil crust and a coconut custard, you know this is going to be an explosion of unorthodox flavor combinations. I loved it. This is a fresh, flavorful, and healthy treat.

Mango Kiwi Strawberry Tart
  • Olive oil crust, baked and cooled (recipe below)
  • Coconut custard (recipe below)
  • 1 15 oz. mango, peeled and diced
  • 2 kiwis, peeled and diced
  • 3-5 strawberries, hulled and diced


  1. Spread the coconut custard evenly in the bottom of the tart.
  2. Arrange diced fruit on top.

Olive Oil Crust
Adapted from La Tartine Gourmande


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup almond flour (almonds pulverized in a food processor)
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup cold water


  1. Start preparing the crust an hour ahead of time. Place the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor prepared with a dough blade.
  2. Add the oil and mix on pulse until crumbly (stop if necessary to scrape the sides of the bowl and make sure that everything is well incorporated).
  3. Then add the water progressively, enough for the dough to detach from the bowl and form a ball.
  4. Let it rest for 1 hour at room temperature before using.
  5. Preheat your oven at 350 F.
  6. Place dough in a tart pan and spread evenly with fingers. Make holes with a fork at the bottom. Line with parchment paper, fill with pie weights, and bake 18-20 minutes. Remove parchment paper and pie weights and bake an additional 5 minutes.

Coconut Custard
Adapted from Fresh from the Oven


  • 1/3 cup lite coconut milk
  • 2/3 cup soy milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup egg substitute
  • 2 tablespoons flax meal
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/3-1/2 cup additional soy milk


  1. Bring milks and vanilla to boil in a small saucepan. Cover the pan and remove from heat for 10 minutes.
  2. Fill a large bowl with ice cubes and set aside a small bowl that can hold the finished cream and be placed in this ice bath. Set aside a fine-meshed strainer.
  3. Whisk egg substitute, flax, sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. While whisking, slowly drizzle a quarter of the hot milk into the mixture. Continue to add in the rest of the milk into the tempered mixture, whisking all the while.
  4. Place the saucepan over high heat and whisking vigorously, without stop, bring the mixture to the boil. Continue to whisk another 1-2 minutes, until you notice that the texture of the cream has thickened. Remove from heat. The cream will rapidly thicken, forming almost an oatmeal texture. Do not panic! Whisk in the additional soy milk until loosened to about the texture of cottage cheese. It will still look a little strange. Don't worry. The sieve will solve the problem.
  5. Press the cream through the sieve into the reserved small bowl. Set the bowl in the ice bath prepared earlier. Stir the cream occasionally until it is completely cool. It is ready to be used at this point or keep refrigerated until you are ready to assemble the tart.

August 28, 2008

Amy's Cheese Pizza Toaster Pops Review

If you think that I make all of my meals, you are sadly, sadly wrong. Most of the time I grab some cereal or heat up a frozen meal.

But eating manufactured foods does not have to be unhealthy! Go organic or all natural. It's delicious, easy, and surprisingly healthy, though admittedly more expensive than regular foods. But, if you are not willing to make your own foods, this is the best option. At least you know that you are not filling your body with chemicals, trans fats, and substances which mess with your appetite.

I love two brands in particular: Amy's and Cedarlane. This happens to be an Amy's product.

When you are looking for frozen foods, the first thing you should look at is the ingredients list.

If the ingredient list is short, like this one, that is a great thing. Think of how many ingredients you use when you cook. If you think that the amount is relatively the same, that is a good thing. Also know that the ingredients on the top of the list have the greatest amount in the food. Thus, there is mostly organic wheat flour, bran, and germ in the pops. Scan the list and make sure that there are no hydrogenated oils, corn syrups, or things that you cannot pronounce, unless they explain the ingredient afterward in layman's terms. If you are buying sweet treats, it is best to make sure that sugar is not the first ingredient on the list. But be careful! Companies try to keep sugar off of the top of the list by using multiple sweeteners, thus spreading out the sugary products in the list. Also, whole wheat flour is ideal, rather than "enriched."

So, next you look at Nutrition Facts.

I usually look at calories first. This looks good. Next, the fat. Again, very reasonable. Always check the fat content against the saturated fat in grams. If the company is using healthy fats, the saturated fat should be significantly less than the total fat. If you are not sure what is a reasonable fat content, refer to the percentages.

Always, ALWAYS look at portions. Everything may look reasonable, but the company may be pitching one container as two meals so as to cut the meal's facts in half and look healthier.

I don't really care about cholesterol or carbohydrates. Sugar can be important to look at, but not in a meal like this. If you do look at sugar levels, try to be fair. Remember that sugars are naturally found in fruits. My Larabars (best snack bar ever) have a fair amount of sugar despite the fact that there is no added sugar.

If I really feel like analyzing (ha!) I look at what I like to call the "bonuses." This includes fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. This is pretty good. It's a toaster pop, so what do you expect? I do like the protein count, though. Nice.

So here is the uncooked pop. The fact that the pop was already brown was interesting. I hoped that this would not be a problem when cooking. Otherwise, the tarts hold up well in packaging, although they have a nasty habit of freezing together, usually in pairs.

I did have on problem though: the instructions. They said to put them in the toaster twice, but my toaster has settings. I was in another room when I started to smell the smoke. Fortunately, there was little damage to the tart. I just had to cut this end off. If your toaster has settings, I suggest that you watch it while it cooks the pop.

The results, as usual with Amy's, were exceptional. Much better than I expected when I first bought the product, which was on sale. The center was gooey and flavorful and there was a nice amount of sauce to dough, which I was worried about. I think that the pop could have benefited from a little more crisping up, but I wasn't about to stick it back in the toaster. Despite this, the crust was crispy enough for contrast, as you can tell by the cracks.

This shot gives you a nice view of what I was talking about in the center. Gooey, but I dare say a bit too undercooked for my tastes. The insides were evenly mixed without being pureed together a la cheesy tomato paste.

So would I try it again? Definitely. I love quick fixes. I even stick things in the toaster that I probably shouldn't because I don't like to wait for the toaster oven to cook it. At least this time I was right to do so.

Rating: B+

August 25, 2008

Macadamia Butter Bars with Cranberries and Toasted Coconut

Well, it's back to school time again! Ugh. Not fun for me. But, along with the dreaded daily imprisonment I am subjected to, comes delicious snacks!

I am a picky eater. It's a fact. If you look at my recipes, I think you already know that. Well, I don't eat cafeteria food and I don't take my own lunch. The latter would seem probable, right? Well, I have an affinity toward hot food and I despise waste. All of those little plastic baggies and brown sacks that are thrown away every day make me cringe. So, a year ago, I decided to get a Laptop Lunchbox. I love it to no end, but unfortunately it's a bit of a hassle to lug to school... plus I look like a definite dork whipping out my multicolored plastic containers and cloth napkin. On top of that (Oh yes, I am a complicated girl), I am often not hungry enough during school to wolf down a whole meal. So the solution? Snacks.

I don't think it's necessary to further expound on my fastidious eating habits*, so I will sum it up by saying that most storebought snacks are either too fatty, too sugary, or too insignificant to attract my eye (The exception, of course, being the saliva-inducing Larabar). Thus, I make my own! Full of nut butter, oats, dried fruit, flax, soy protein, etc., etc. And the best thing about bars? Sooo adaptable! This time I made a slightly tropical version which is insanely delicious. Reusable packing tip for small quantities of snacks: take an empty Altoids container, round or rectangular, wash it out, and fill it with goodies. It holds the food in while protecting it with a compact, rigid shape.

*So my economics teacher today thought that it would be a fun little experiment to start off the school year with one of those little true/false questionnaires which are obviously rigged. Anyway, all of the answers were supposedly false (skeptic as I am) but I don't know about one. It stated that it is importantly to research/study a product before you buy it. Well, of course I said true. After all, I am a bit of a perfectionist. To explain her reasoning, the teacher said, "Well, think about if you were in a grocery store. Are you going to thoroughly inspect every single thing you buy? No." Um, beg to differ! She obviously hasn't gone shopping with me. Honestly, I don't know why anyone in my family does. I can pore over nutrition facts and ingredients for hours, trying to find the best one. Even the lady at the health food store agreed with me! When I spent ten minutes trying to discern the differences between different brands of Vitamin D, my mother laughingly told a passing sales lady what I was up to. As the lady so logically explained in my defense, "It is good that she cares about what goes into her body." Right? I mean, I didn't want some fish oil from farmed, saturated-fat nastiness "nourishing" my body. (I settled for plant-based). So anyway, yeah. That's my little rant about fixed true/false questions. Things like that are entirely subjective and I place no stock in them. Although we did draw a pig that identified our personality type, which was pretty cool. (Yeah, I know that I sound like I am in kindergarten, but whatever.)

Macadamia Butter Bars with Cranberries and Toasted Coconut

  • 6 tablespoons macadamia butter (much of excess oil drained before stirring)
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 8 dried, pitted dates
  • 2 tablespoons flax meal
  • 6 tablespoons rolled oats, divided
  • 1 tablespoon texturized soy protein
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut
  • 6 tablespoons puffed brown rice cereal
  • 1 heaping handful dried cranberries
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablepoon toasted coconut


  1. Heat oven to 350F.
  2. Blend nut butter, agave nectar, and dates in a food processor until well combined. Add flax meal, 4 tablespoons rolled oats, TSP, and coconut. Whiz until blended but chunky.
  3. Remove mixture to a separate bowl and stir in 2 tablespoons rolled oats, brown rice cereal, and cranberries. Taste at this point to determine whether it is sweet enough.
  4. Mix in one egg white and press mixture into a greased 8x8 pan.
  5. Sprinkle toasted coconut on top and gently press in.
  6. Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes until the edges are crispy brown and the center is no longer moist.
  7. Cool, cut into pieces, and reserve for snacks.

August 21, 2008

Mango Chocolate Tofu Pudding

This is just something I whipped up the other day in the kitchen, trying to use up the last of the mango curd. This chocolate pudding is very bitter by itself, so if you are going to attempt it without the curd, I suggest adding more sweeteners and perhaps even some melted chocolate, as the chocolate flavor is a bit mild with just cocoa powder. With the mango curd swirled in, it is heavenly. The curd sweetens the chocolate without cutting the dark chocolate tones and adds the interesting combo of chocolate and lime. Surprisingly delicious! Serve with fresh berries for a sweet summer dessert.
Mango Chocolate Tofu Pudding


  • 4 oz silken soft tofu
  • ½ teaspoon chocolate extract
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
  • 2 heaping tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon powdered sugar
  • dash of salt
  • 1/2 cup mango curd


  1. Dissolve coffee in the chocolate and vanilla extracts. Pulse in a food processor with the silken tofu.
  2. Add cocoa powder, corn starch, yogurt, and sweeteners to mixture. Puree until smooth.
  3. Heat mixture in a small saucepan over medium heat until thickened, stirring frequently.
  4. Add salt.
  5. When mixture reaches a pudding consistency, remove from heat and allow to cool.
  6. Chill in the fridge until completely cool.
  7. Swirl with mango curd and serve with fresh fruit.

August 19, 2008

Turkey Meatloaf with Chipotle Maple Glaze

Mmm... that title just makes me hungry. How do you make the perfect turkey meatloaf? First, get an excellent recipe. I got mine from Karina's Kitchen. Love that blog. She created my favorite brownies, made with almond meal. Speaking of brownies, the second thing you need is a Baker's Edge pan! Perfect crusty edges and a moist center. I didn't even need to drain off the fat in this meatloaf! Third, you need a heavenly glaze.

To make my glaze, instead of using the suggested apricot preserves, I used this Spiced Chipotle Pepper Jam from Chile Beach Jams, which I purchased at a hot sauce festival. Sweet and spicy with currants, pineapple, and of course some chipotle in adobo. Soooo good.

Turkey Meatloaf with Chipotle Maple Glaze
Adapted from this recipe

  • 1.25 lbs. lean ground turkey
  • 3/4 medium red onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 large handfuls baby carrots
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup organic ketchup (organic, organic, organic! spare yourself that hfcs)
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (real! again with the hfcs)
  • 1/4 cup egg replacement
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 scant cup rolled oats
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 1 pinch allspice
  • 1 pinch mild curry
  • 1 pinch cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • scant 1/3 cup Spiced Chipotle Pepper Jam
  • 3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1 pinch each nutmeg and cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Throw the onion, carrots, and garlic into a food processor and pulse until chopped to small pieces. Add to turkey in a large bowl.
  3. Add ketchup, maple syrup, egg replacement, egg white, oats, spices, sage, and worcestershire sauce. Mix together with hands.
  4. Press mixture into a Baker's Edge pan and cook in preheated oven for 35 minutes (45 for a loaf pan).
  5. Mix together sauce ingredients (last 5) and set aside.
  6. At end of 45 minutes, remove pan and drain fat (if any). Brush with glaze.
  7. Cook for 20 minutes longer (30 for a loaf pan).
  8. Cut and serve!

Package Pour Moi

That's right, readers! With the Amazon bonus I received after purchasing my new lens (Which, by the way, you can see working here. Love it!), I finally bought a Baker's Edge pan. I have been ogling this baby for a while now, as a professed chewy edge-lover. I am known to be the edge-stealer, often mutilating the food in the process. But it is absolutely worth it! I love me some edge pieces. Well, now my family is spared the mess. Every piece will be an edge piece!

What shall I make first? Some brownies? Cookies? Quick bread? Nah, too obvious. Look forward to some meatloaf with chipotle maple glaze. Yum! You know how the edges of the glaze get all crusty and gorgeous? Multiply that times ten. Not only that, but this pan cooks quicker and more evenly! I have a feeling this pan will be the inspiration of many recipes to come.

In other news, my cat gave me a nice little photoshoot today while I was finishing Jane Eyre. To see the rest of the pictures, go to my Flickr page.

If you ever read Get Fuzzy (every cat owner should!), you can fully appreciate this Bucky impression. So cute!

August 18, 2008

Coconut Cake with Mango Curd

At last! The long awaited for coconut cake with mango curd and cream cheese frosting!

Well, ok. Long awaited by me, at least. Can you blame me? Look at this little gem. Granted, not so little. And not so innocent. Make no mistake; this is no angel food cake. These mini bundt cakes flirt with devilry, but are restrained by a few choice substitutes (ah, yes, that inevitable word). Nevertheless, delicious.

Oh, and if you think I was content with the topping portions shown above, you are wrong. That's enough to at least give you the idea, but I was moving past the idea. I was getting the big picture. In other words, I smeared on additional curd and frosting with each bite. So, yeah... now you get the whole "not so innocent" thing. These babies are tricky that way.
So you know how I was also going to make a tiered cake and even doubled my mango curd recipe so that I would have enough for layers? Yeah, so that didn't happen. I'm lazy; what can I say? But the good news that comes with me being an overachiever is that I have more mango curd to play with! Which means vegan mango-saffron creme brulees and chocolate tofu mousse swirled with mango curd and fresh berries. Forgive me? Thought so.

So here are the four components of the mini bundt cakes (or, if you just have to be an overachiever, a layer cake! ;) )

1. Coconut Milk Cake
Adapted from this recipe


  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups Splenda
  • 1/3 cup Smart Balance Light, softened
  • 1/2 cup egg substitute
  • 1 14oz can light coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Coat one mini bundt pan (makes six) with cooking spray and spread until lightly coated with a paper towel, absorbing the excess.
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.
  4. Place sugar, Splenda, and Smart Balance in a large bowl and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (for about 5 minutes).
  5. Add egg substitute, in two rounds, beating well after each addition.
  6. Add flour mixture and milk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with the flour.
  7. Stir in the vanilla.
  8. Pour batter into prepared molds, filling above the core/center-piece of each cake mold.
  9. Sharply tap the pans once on the countertop to remove air bubbles.
  10. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  11. Cool in pans ten minutes and remove cakes from pan onto a wire rack.
  12. Cool completely.
  13. Slather with cream cheese frosting, a dollop of mango curd, and a sprinkling of toasted coconut.

2. Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from this recipe


  • 1 8oz package reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Pop ingredients in an electric mixer with a whisk attachment and beat at medium-high speed until fluffy. It really is that easy.

3. Mango Curd

4. Toasted Coconut

  • 1/3 cup desiccated, sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup desiccated, unsweetened, shredded coconut


  1. Place coconut shavings in a dry skillet over medium-high heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until golden brown.
  2. Warning! This will smell delicious.

August 14, 2008

Coconut Crab Cakes with Mango Salsa

Click on this picture. Click and drool.

The coconut in this recipe accentuates the crab's natural sweetness, while the potato provides a creamy texture without diluting the crab flavor. The polenta and coconut make the crunchiest, most flavorable crust you can get, without having to use vast amounts of oil. Not enough for you? Try it with this salsa. Juicy, sweet, tangy, and intense.

If you're like me, you have trouble keeping seafood cakes together. No problem with this cake. It held its shape and flipped without a problem. Definitely a first for me!

Perfection. Okay, enough talking.

Coconut Crab Cakes
Adapted from Food Stories

  • 500g crab meat
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 medium Yukon potatoes
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 inch ginger, grated
  • 1/2 tablespoon jalapeno, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons light coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • Polenta and dried, unsweetened coconut, for crusting
  • 1/4 cup egg substitute, for dipping
  • Olive oil, for (very) shallow frying


  1. Boil the potatoes. Drain and mash.
  2. Add the crab meat to a large bowl along with all of the other ingredients except the polenta and dried coconut. Season.
  3. Shape the mixture into cakes and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Spread some of the polenta on a plate and add enough coconut so that you have a mix of two thirds polenta to one third coconut.
  5. Dip each cake in the egg first and then coat thoroughly in the polenta mix.
  6. Cook the crab cakes in olive oil until both sides are golden brown and crispy.
  7. Serve with mango salsa.

Tropical Mango Salsa
Adapted from Simply Recipes


  • 1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and diced (about 1 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 3 rings canned pineapple, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

I had fun with the plating...

Oh, and when I was looking through the fridge, I found this.

Ew. Yes, those are chopped jalapenos. This is what happens when your family is composed of spicy-food junkies. Notice how it is half empty, too. That's a lot of heartburn right there.

August 13, 2008

Vegan Mango Curd

Curd. Vegan. Lowfat. Seriously.

This is part one of my future mango coconut cake. Doesn't it look scrrrrumptious?

Instead of using one recipe this time, I fused two different curd recipes: vegan grapefruit curd from Vegan Visitor and mango curd from smitten kitchen. The mango curd would have been perfectly fine, of course, but I found the egg yolks and butter unnecessary. I want to be able to enjoy the cake, instead of reaching my richness quota after a couple of bites.

Oh, and I am posting a doubled recipe, as I needed enough curd for at least two layers in the cake.

Vegan Mango Curd

  • 2 15oz. mangoes, peeled and pitted, cut in 1/2 inch cubes (or whatever)
  • 1 cup sugar (I think you could get away with less, though)
  • 6 tablespoons lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup soy milk


  1. Puree mangoes and sugar in a food processor until uniformly smooth.
  2. Strain through a sieve into a saucepan. Discard solids.
  3. Whisk lime juice, cornstarch, and salt in a bowl.
  4. Heat mango puree over medium heat until bubbly, whisking constantly.
  5. Whisk in lime mixture. Continue whisking until thickened. (It does not take long.)
  6. Take curd off heat and whisk in soy milk.
  7. Cool and store in the fridge overnight.
  8. Make coconut cake. Eat an absurd amount... almost guilt-free. (disclaimer: not really.)

Look at that Rolex spoon. Word.

Disclaimer 2: The Wire Season 5 arrived today. I've already watched four episodes. Prepare for some serious urban vernacular. Please refer to your urban dictionary.

August 11, 2008

Mango Berry Banana Smoothie

Mmm... a cold fruity breakfast in the middle of summer.

Does it get any better? Oh, yeah. It takes just seconds to make. Now that's what I'm talking about.

So I'm starting off my mango spree with an easy little fix. From here, it's going to get crazier and crazier. How so? Well, as I tossed in bed last night, unable to fall asleep with visions of food possibilities flashing in front of my eyes, I imagined all of the ways I could manipulate those lovely mangoes.

After watching the Coconut Cake episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay, I felt inspired to make a coconut cake brushed with coconut simple syrup with mango curd filling and cream cheese icing. Yum? Indeed.

I also had the thought of converting this fascinating vegan concoction into a mango-infused creme brulee with a hint of saffron. I think you can understand why I was having trouble falling asleep.

Still more? Oh, yes. It was a vicious case of insomnia. After envisioning all of those sweets, I had to go a little savory. Then I remembered this little seductress from Coconut & Lime. Smoky mango deliciousness? Oh, I think so. The only problem is that I am not a huge fan of pork. So I am thinking about swapping it with some chicken breast. Is it possible? I have no idea. But we will see...

Now that I am glancing through my recipe archives, I can also consider this coconut crab cake with mango-avocado salsa. Sounds like the perfect foil to the coconut mango cake, if you ask me.

I could even convert this to a mango maple meatloaf. My options are endless!

If you are a mango nut like I am, here are some more recipes that I've bookmarked:

Tropical Baked Beans

Jerk Chicken with Mango-Avocado Salsa

Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa

Mango Ginger Chicken

Key Lime Cheesecake with Mango

Mango Tart

Mango Rhubarb Crumble

So anyway, here are the ingredients for the smoothie...

Mango Berry Banana Smoothie


  • 1/2 frozen banana (peeled. yeah, I learned that the hard way.)
  • 3 medium strawberries, hulled and sliced in half
  • 1/2 edible portion of mango (add more for a more intense flavor)
  • 1 handful of blueberries
  • 1 teaspoon ground flax seed (the nutrients of flax meal are more readily absorbed than those of flax seeds)


  1. Throw all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. For a thicker smoothie, add more frozen banana.
  3. Pour into glasses and serve.

Tomorrow: Who knows?

August 10, 2008

Balsamic Veggie Sandwich

Mmm... revel in the juicy goodness.

One of the things I love so much about sandwiches is personalization. A little of this, a little of that. Do I feel like tomato? Nah, leave that out. Sandwiches provide the perfect opportunity for you to tweak a recipe toward your own tastes or put a spin on something bland to make it extraordinary.

I came up with this "recipe" (honestly, I never really think of sandwich fixings as making a recipe) from a sandwich I had at a chain downtown one day. Do I remember the name of the place? No. Do I remember the exact ingredients? No. Does it matter? Not one bit. Sandwiches are a beautiful thing.

So here is the basic idea. Fiddle as you will.

Balsamic Veggie Sandwich

  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Roasted red bell peppers
  • Spinach pesto
  • 2 slices of bread
  • Sprouts
  • 1 ball of fresh mozzarella (bononcini)


  1. Spread a thin layer of pesto on one slice of bread.
  2. Sprinkle some balsamic vinegar on the other slice. (I like to add it to what will be the bottom slice so that the tart vinegar is first to hit my tongue. Mmm...)
  3. Slice the mozzarella and layer on the pesto slice.
  4. Arrange chopped pepper on other slice and cover with sprouts.
  5. Smoosh both halves together, slice, and enjoy!


In other news, I recently bought a nice pile of mangoes that were on sale, so expect to see some mango recipes in the near future!

August 9, 2008

Bran Bread with Pepitas

This bread, although it came to my attention as a soft brown bread, is one of the best country-style loaves I have ever made. Its crust is crisp and chewy, while its inside is soft and... chewy (yeah, I'm repetitive, but it's true!). It holds up extraordinarily well with any kind of sandwich fillings, as it is substantial and elastic - but not in a rubbery kind of way. Ew. Not only that, but I received much more bread than I expected (as you can discern by the noticeable handlebars on my bread). When I placed my bread in a warm oven to rise a second time with the second bread pan covering it (see directions), the dough literally pushed the other pan off! Solid glass, I tell you! This bread has some serious attitude!

And who doesn't love that? A crusty shell disguising a soft, pliable core with the special bonus of a pepita or two every now and then. Delicious? Sassy? Steamy, yeasty goodness? Indeed.

As for the photography bit, you may have noticed that my setting is different. That is because I finally kicked my lazy butt in gear today and set up a worthy photoshoot for my food. I did the whole drape-a-white-sheet-over-a-large-box thing and I used natural light, a tripod, some aluminum foil, etc. Professional? Well, if you insis-

Don't be fooled for a second (though I'm sure you are not). Mainly I looked like a fool, hopping around and situating myself in awkward poses to take pictures, as I learned today that my tripod was built for Oompa-Loompas or something. Needless to say, my back/thighs were not happy campers. Oh, and did I mention that I didn't sleep at all last night and have been up for about 30 hours straight? So, as soon as I would have to get into a squat or something, my muscles would start quivering!! Darned sleep deprivation. It kept blurring my shot! Grr...

But, Oompa-Loompa tripod and muscle atrophy aside, I think I took some pretty decent pictures! Well, that may just be the sleep deprivation talking. You decide.

So here is the bread recipe as adapted from Tea and Wheaten Bread (appropriate, eh?). Ooh, by the way! I think the reason for my monstrous loaf might be the amount of yeast I added. The recipe says 1 packet or 1 teaspoon. I used one packet. Something tells me that wasn't exactly one teaspoon. So, if you want to try for the original bread, go for the teaspoon. Want to try my crazy, attitude-ridden, love-handle bread? Go for the packet.

Bran Bread with Pepitas
Adapted from this recipe.

  • 600gms/1lb 6oz white bread flour
  • 100gms/4oz bran
  • A handful of seeds to your liking such as sunflower pumpkin etc. [I used pumpkin.]
  • 400mls/14fl.oz tepid water ( You may have to add a little more because of the bran. Do so little by little)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce [Subbed for lard.]
  • 1 tablespoon sugar [You can omit this if you want to because of the applesauce.]
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • One envelope or a teaspoon of fast action yeast. [See above note.]


  1. Mix all the ingredients together and knead for ten minutes by hand/ five mins with a dough hook in the mixer/approx 1 minute in the food processor.
  2. Form into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl covered with cling film and leave in a warm place until doubled in size-about an hour.
  3. Flatten the dough on a lightly floured work surface to expel the air bubbles.
  4. Roll out to form a rectangle approx 9"x15"/23cmsx40cms.
  5. Fold in thirds like a business letter then roll out and fold again.
  6. Flatten the dough to fit into the buttered floured pan.
  7. The strong and compact dough should fill the pan about half way.
  8. Place another pan of the same size, well buttered, on top.
  9. Leave to rise in a warm place for approx 1/2 -1 hour covered with the other tin. It should rise to nearly the top of the tinBake in a pre-heated oven 200.C/400.F/Gas 6 for an hour. [It took my bread about 50 minutes, but then again mine was an oddball.]
  10. Gently unmould onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

Oh, and remember, every girl (or guy) needs a little treat now and then. After turning my legs to jello with the "photoshoot," I ate a delicious mint Newman-O. I have never had Trader Joe's version of an Oreo, but I have to stick with the Newmanator. Not only have I sworn my undying love to Paul Newman, my celebrity-in-a-time-machine crush, but I prefer my snack cookies without hydrogenated oils and corn syrup. Sorry, Nabisco.

Tomorrow: The unveiling of the delicious veggie sandwich!!

August 8, 2008

Vegan Spinach Pesto

Most pestos, as a result of the generous olive oil drizzle administered while blending, are high in fat. Although olive oil is a source of healthy fats, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. So how do you reduce the oil without sacrificing the smooth texture? Simple. Add lemon.
Lemon juice not only adds the moisture needed for a smooth pesto, but it adds a vibrancy that can sometimes be lost in the earthy, warm flavor of basil. Not only that, but lemon juice helps to preserve the verdant green of this pesto, preventing unsavory discoloration.
Anyway, this is a variation on the wonderful cheese-less recipe created by Vegan Visitor. Her blog is absolutely wonderful and, as many people including Oprah now acknowledge, veganism is an excellent way to live healthier and greener (no pun intended). Even if you just give up animal products for just one meal, the benefits can be significant.

On a separate note, I just watched Gone Baby Gone. It is an excellent movie and I highly recommend it! I think Ben Affleck finally found his calling as a director (sorry if you are a big fan of his acting work, but I am not as impressed) and his brother, Casey, is an exceptional leading man. If you love crime mysteries with twists and turns out the wazoo, this movie is for you.

But enough of my shameless pandering. Here is the altered recipe and a link to VV for the original...

Vegan Spinach Pesto
Adapted from Vegan Visitor


  • 2 cups (packed) baby spinach leaves
  • about 1/2 cup of flat leaf parsley
  • 5 large basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


  1. Pile everything but the oil into a food processor and combine well.
  2. Using a spatula, scrape the sides, then reattach the lid.
  3. With the motor running, drizzle in the oil through the feed tube 1/2 tablespoon at a time until everything is smooth but not oily.
  4. Yields about 1 cup.

Tomorrow: Homestyle bran bread with pepitas

August 6, 2008

Blueberry Crumble Bars

At long last, I finally made a blog. After almost a year of lurking and drooling over other food blogs, I did it. I got a camera. I ordered a lens (please bear with me while I take pictures with this kit nonsense). I made blueberry crumble bars.

Most importantly, I ate blueberry crumble bars. Yummm...

Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh, right. Finally starting a blog. So here I am. Typing my first post. As I am not really sure how I should let this flow, I'll start by giving you a little insight into what to expect here at Buttermilk & Pinecones (more on the name in my profile).

I am somewhat of a health nut. I love substitutions. Paula Deen has the uncanny ability to make me cringe. If you are looking for healthier foods, but you are not willing to forfeit the decadence and flavor of your usual recipes, this will be the blog for you. I will show you how to preserve the substance of recipes with significantly less fat/sugar/etc. Also, I currently possess an exorbitant amount of recipes compiled from various food blogs and magazines, so I will be adapting and preparing these as I go. In fact, this post's blueberry gems are an internet find themselves. Ooo... I also have a weakness for organic/all-natural meals and snacks, so look forward to some reviews on those. Unless you are vehemently opposed to manufactured foods. Then just forget I ever said that. ;)

So on to the recipe! This scrumptious, crumbly, violet beauty originates from, but I stumbled across it on the phenomenal smitten kitchen. The original recipe does contain two sticks of butter, but how can you resist that amethyst mating call? I had to bookmark it.

Blueberry Crumble Bars
Adapted from and

To lower the fat in this recipe, I cut it in half, using a 9"x9" square pan in lieu of the 9"x13". I also substituted Smart Balance Light, but you can use whatever butter substitute you feel comfortable with. Next time, I will freeze the SBL before incorporating, as it softens much quicker than the suggested cold butter. I also used egg substitute instead of egg, which works nicely for the 1/2 egg called for in this halved recipe. Normally I would use at least half white whole wheat flour, but I didn't want to mar the contrast of purple and white. Following Deb's lemony lead, I incorporated 1/4 teaspoon of lemon extract in to the dough. Ew. Do not do that. More candied lemon flavor than my tart citrus friend. Unpleasant. At least I know not to use that extract now. It wasn't even artificial, either. Ah well.

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cold butter substitute, such as Smart Balance Light
  • 2 tablespoons egg substitute, such as Egg Beaters
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a 9×9 inch pan.

2. In a medium bowl or food processor with a dough attachment, whiz together 1/2 cup sugar, 1-1/2 cups flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and lemon zest. Use a fork or pastry cutter (or a whiz in the food processor) to blend in the butter and egg. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.

3. In another bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

In the coming days, look forward to spinach pesto and honey seed bread, culminating in a tangy vegetarian sandwich. Bookmark me! Tell a friend!