Category Archives: Cooking


Thanks to the combined influence of Brandon from the Aardvark Kafe and Barry, the carnivore with good taste, I made a raw cheesecake tonight.

Before you run screaming in the opposite direction, WAIT. It’s seriously, seriously good! I used this recipe (via Barry), and tweaked it a bit after reading a few other recipes for similar cheesecakes. In hindsight, I’d do a coulis for the top and drizzle it on after the freezing, because while the topping tasted good, it didn’t have the texture I grew up loving on top of my mother’s cheesecakes. And for berries, I used what was in our back yard – strawberries and raspberries. You could do anything from blackberry to chocolate to key lime, if you wanted, simply by tweaking the ratio of berries to dates to get the right texture.

Let me know if you try it! This was my first raw food “recipe” (usually my raw diet involves a ton of fruits and vegetables, and absolutely zero preparation or forethought) so I’d love to know how it works for you. Michael was raving about it, so I’ll definitely be making this again. I’m thinking of sneaking it into our picnic at work and not telling anyone that it’s raw and vegan…

Vegan & Raw Cheescake

  • 2 cups macadamia nuts
  • 3 cups cashews
  • 1 cup pitted Medjool dates
  • ¼ cup dried coconut
  • 6 Tbs. coconut oil, melted (gently warmed)
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • ¼ cup raw agave nectar
  • ½ sun-dried vanilla bean or 1tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups mixed berries, such as blueberries and raspberries

Place macadamia nuts in large bowl, and cover with cold water. Place cashews in separate bowl, and cover with cold water. The soaking will make the cheesecake smooth. Soak nuts 4 hours, then rinse, drain, and set aside.

Pulse macadamia nuts and 1/2 cup dates in food processor to a sticky crumb-like consistency. Sprinkle dried coconut on bottom of 8-inch pie pan. Press macadamia nut mixture onto coconut to make crust. You can use a springform cheesecake pan if you have it, but any glass baking dish will do! The coconut on the bottom keeps the crust from sticking to the pan (and tastes good).

Place cashews, coconut oil, lime juice, agave nectar, and 6 Tbs. water in bowl of food processor. Add more water in small amounts, to reach the desired consistency. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into food processor bowl, and purée until smooth. Pour mixture onto crust, and freeze 1 to 2 hours, or until firm.

While that’s freezing, puree 1/2 cup dates and your berries until smooth. Pour over the cheesecake, and return the whole shebang to the freezer – check the consistency after an hour or so. We ate it after one hour, but you can freeze for as long as you want – just thaw it by putting it in the refrigerator for an hour before serving. Top it with fresh berries and enjoy!




Evil Cookies

This is a recipe based on a Martha Stewart recipe called “Thousand-Layer Chocolate Chip Cookies”. They’re the devilish beginnings of this evil, evil cookie. Rest assured: if you make these, you WILL gain weight.

But alas…some times you just need to indulge in a heartrendingly decadent treat, and these cookies fit the bill. Or stretch it until it needs to go up a size.

So, the basic process is this: you make a batch of standard chocolate-chip cookie dough but without the chocolate or nuts (see recipe below). Then, you make a layered confection that makes some seriously amazing cookies.

Cookie Dough:
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsps baking soda
3 tsps salt (original recipe calls for 2 tsps, I added an extra)
4 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs
Combine flour, soda & salt in a bowl and set aside.
Beat butter and both sugars in a large bowl until creamy.
Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, beating until well combined.
Gradually stir in flour mixture until just combined.  (DON’T OVERMIX THE COOKIE DOUGH…it makes them tough!)
Now for the yum part:
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup milk chocolate morsels
1 4oz bittersweet chocolate bar, finely chopped
1/2 – 1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 – 1 cup Heath’s Toffee Chips
one egg
Sea Salt

Tear off 4 sheets of wax paper.  Lightly flour.

Divide the cookie dough into 4 equal parts, placing one part on each piece of wax paper.

Lightly flour top of dough, and top each with a sheet of wax paper.

Roll dough to about a 1/3 inch thick.

Place rolled dough on cookie sheet and place in freezer for at least 1 hour or more.

When ready to make the cookies, pull back wax paper from one side, lightly flour again, replace wax paper and turn over.  Remove the wax paper that is now on top.

Cover with chopped pecans, then milk chocolate morsels.

Cover with another slab of cookie dough.

On second slab of cookie dough, cover with chopped bittersweet chocolate.

Cover with third layer of cookie dough.  On top of that layer add 1/2 to 1 cup of cranberries and 1/2 to 1 cup of toffee bits.

Top with final layer of cookie dough.

Sprinkle top layer of cookie dough with flour and replace with piece of wax paper. Lightly roll cookie dough.

With pastry cutter cut in half.  Wrap up second half and return to fridge or freezer.

With first half, lightly roll out until about 1/2 inch thick.

Cut out cookies with a 2″ cookie/biscuit cutter.

Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Make an egg wash by beating one egg.  Brush on each cookie.

Sprinkle each cookie with sea salt flakes.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 12 minutes, turning pan after 6 minutes.  Let cool in pan for about 10 minutes then transfer to cooling rack.

With the remaining dough, you can go one of two ways. You can roll it out and make more cookies, or you could be truly shameful and smash all of it together, then make layers again, and then repeat the process. My head is spinning just thinking of the 1) calories, and 2) taste. Let me know if you try it, because that might just make the most decadent and delicious cookie the world has ever known. I’ve never been brave enough to try.

Quick Spring Rolls

You can make these from scratch, but sometimes we splurge and buy the spring roll wrappers from the grocery store. When you do, these are one of the easiest things you can make, and they make a great addition to a stir-fry meal or a bento lunch.

We got Nasoya’s wraps this time –

We’ve also used rice paper and it’s also delicious.

First you’ll prepare your filling (see recipe at the bottom for instructions on making the filling) and let it cool a bit.

Lay out one sheet, add about 2-3 tbsp (depending on the size of your spring roll sheets) of the vegetable filling in the center, in a vaguely lengthwise shape.
Fold the bottom corner up and over the filling, pulling it into a roll as you would sushi. Then fold both side corners in. Then, roll all the way up to the top of the last corner.
Lastly, fold the top corner down and stick it to the roll with a bit of oil or water. Lay them with the exposed corner-side down while you’re making the other rolls and when baking.
To bake: lightly oil a baking sheet – I use peanut oil, but olive oil or cooking spray would work just as well.
Arrange the spring rolls on the baking sheet, and brush the tops lightly with oil (again, I use peanut oil but you could use olive oil). Bake in a 400 degree (F) oven for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy.
Here they are served on a bed of cabbage and with a small dish of ginger soy sauce for dipping.
Filling Recipe:
Mixed vegetables – 1 cup, chopped long and slim/shredded (carrot, beans, cabbage, peas, corn, capsicum, etc)
Onions – 1, sliced
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tsp
Soya sauce – 1 tbsp
Chopped green chillies – 1
Salt and pepper – to taste
Oil – 2 tsp
Optional – if you have thai peanut sauce, it adds a great flavor to this. Use it about halfway through cooking the vegetables, and you won’t be sorry 🙂
1. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onions until transparent and pink.
2. Add the ginger garlic paste and fry for another minute.
3. Next add the vegetables and green chillies, sprinkle some water and cook closed until soft, yet crunchy.
4. Turn heat to high and add the soya sauce. Mix well for a minute on high.
5. Lower heat. Mix in salt and pepper. Remove from fire and cool.

Apples & Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies

Remember the charmingly “fake” flavored instant oatmeal packets from Quaker? Other than the fruit and cream varieties, I loved the Apples and Cinnamon packets. There was something vaguely comforting and pie-like about the taste that was more satisfying than the teeny serving size suggested.

Today I was craving that taste, that comfort, but wanted to make something realrather than buy the processed stuff. I came up with this recipe for cookies, and it’s a hit! Mike has eaten ten so far, and I only took them out of the oven an hour ago.

These cookies are soft, but the oats lend a bit of crunch. Combined with the tangy-sweet apples, these cookies were exactly what I was looking for!

A note: sometimes the specific type or brand of ingredient matters, and sometimes it doesn’t. I’ve put the particular food item that I used in italics and parentheses after the ingredient listing to help you find the right ingredient for your cookies, but as with almost all cookies, experimentation often yields surprisingly good results!


    3/4 cup shortening (Spectrum Organic)
    1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar (I always use dark, because I like the taste of molasses to be obvious, but this is just a personal preference)
    1 large egg
    1/4 cup milk
    1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
    1 cup flour (King Arthur Unbleached)
    2 teaspoons Apple Pie spice (Penzy’s; if you don’t have Apple Pie spice, use 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/8 tsp allspice, and 1/8 tsp cardamom.)
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    3 cups oats (Bob’s Red Mill 7 Grain Cereal)
    1 cup peeled diced apple (Organic Gala apples)
    3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)


    Preheat oven to 375° and grease cookie sheet.
    Cream shortening and sugar in large bowl.
    Add egg, milk and vanilla.
    Beat at medium speed until well blended.
    Combine flour, salt, soda and spices in a small bowl and mix into creamed mixture at low speed until just blended.
    Stir in oats, apples, and nuts.
    Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough about 2-inches apart onto prepared cookie sheets.
    Bake for 13 minutes or until just set.
    Cool for a minute or two on cookie sheets and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
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Potato Leek Soup

Friends, this soup is SO GOOD. it’s my go-to recipe when it’s cold and grey and I need comfort food that isn’t too fattening. As a bonus, it’s pretty much goof-proof once you know how easy it is to properly prepare the leeks. I like to double wash them, just to make sure no grit gets into this delicious soup.


    1 pound leeks, cleaned and dark green sections removed, approximately 4 to 5 medium
    8 tablespoons unsalted butter, separated
    Heavy pinch kosher salt, plus additional for seasoning
    14 ounces, approximately 3 small, Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced small
    1 quart vegetable broth (or 4 cups water + 4 teaspoons “Better Than Bullion Not-Chicken”)
    1 cup heavy cream
    1 cup buttermilk
    3 tablespoons all purpose flour (I use King Arthur unbleached)
    3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
    1/2 teaspoon white pepper
    1 tablespoon snipped chives

To prepare the leeks –

    Cut off the dark green leafy parts, leaving only white or light green behind.
    Cut off the “beard” at the bottom.
    Slice the leeks in half lengthwise.
    Holding the two halls together, chop the leeks into small pieces.
    Submerge the sliced leeks in a bowl of cool water and swish them around thoroughly.
    Let the leeks sit in the water for five minutes – this will allow any dirt or sand to sink to the bottom.
    Using your hands, gently scoop the leeks from the bowl and into a colander.
    Using your sink sprayer, rinse the leeks thoroughly, shaking the colander to make sure you get them all.
    Set them aside to drain, or if you’re in a hurry dump them on a clean kitchen towel and press to dry. You can also use a salad spinner if the pieces aren’t so small that they’ll go through the slats.

In a 6-quart saucepan over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter. Add the leeks and a heavy pinch of salt and sweat for 5 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook until the leeks are tender, approximately 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the potatoes and the vegetable broth, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and gently simmer until the potatoes are soft, approximately 45 minutes.

Purée the mixture with an immersion blender until smooth. Stir in the heavy cream, buttermilk, and white pepper. (Note – if you don’t have buttermilk, simply stir 1 tablespoon lemon juice into 1 cup of milk and allow it to sit for five minutes).

In a separate small saucepan, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the flour and nutritional yeast, making a roux. Maintain just enough heat to make the roux bubble, but not burn! Cook, whisking constantly, for four minutes.

Whisk the finished roux into the puréed potato and leek mixture. The soup will thicken slightly as you do.

Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. Sprinkle with chives and serve immediately, or chill and serve cold.

Carmelized Onion, Apple, and Walnut Grilled Cheese

For Caramelized Onions:

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 2 Lb yellow onions, sliced
  • Salt (2 tsp Diamond Crystal Kosher / 1.5 tsp Morton’s Kosher / 1 tsp table)
  • 3 tsp balsamic vinegar *

* Please, for the love of food, use a good, aged vinegar. This stuff is nothing like the watery salad-dressing balsamic vinegar you get. NOTHING. It’s a slightly sweet, near-syrup drizzle of heaven. You want something from Modena, Italy, and aged at least 14 years. Seven and nine year vinegar is too watery, and older vinegars are too expensive (at least for us…if you can swing it, go for it!). We use Mussini Riserva di Famiglia, which you can find on

For the Walnuts:

  • 3/4 Cup Walnuts or Pecans
  • 3tsp Balsamic Vinegar

For the Sandwiches:

  • Good bread, sliced 1/2 inch thick (we use Wegmans Garlic round loaf)
  • Unsalted Butter, softened
  • Granny Smith Apple, sliced 1/6″ thick
  • Good cheddar, sliced 1/8″ thick, plus any other complementary cheeses

To make caramelized onions:

  1. Set a large, heavy (not non-stick) skillet over medium heat. Add the oil, onions, and salt. Cook stirring occasionally until onions get somewhat brown, about 10 minutes.
  2. Turn down the heat to low and cook stirring occasionally until onions are medium brown, about 30 minutes, adding more oil if they stick too much.
  3. Add balsamic vinegar, and cook stirring occasionally until onions are dark nutty brown, about 15 minutes. Take off heat. You’ll have way more onions than you’ll need for grilled cheese, but that’s not such a bad problem to have.

To prepare the walnuts:

  1. Chop the walnuts – a rough cut is nice, but this is a personal preference
  2. Place them in a pan over medium-high heat and toast, stirring frequently to ensure that they don’t burn (do not use oil in this process – just walnuts in a pan!)
  3. Reduce heat to low and add the Balsalmic vinegar, tossing to coat all walnuts evenly. Leave on heat just long enough to cook off any vinegar liquid in the pan – it should be coating the walnuts but not watery.
  4. Remove from heat.

To assemble sandwiches:

  1. Have 2 pieces of bread ready for each sandwich and butter each piece on one side (be generous with butter — you only live once 🙂
  2. Turn on the broiler.
  3. Set an oven-proof skillet, that can hold all the sandwiches you are making in one layer, over medium heat.
  4. Place 1 piece of bread per sandwich in the skillet, buttered side down. Arrange caramelized onions on top of bread, sprinkle with nuts, top with 1 layer of apples and then cheese. The order actually matters. You want the cheese to be on top so that it melts quickly under the broiler and the nuts to be next to the onions so that they stick and don’t fall out. Cook the sandwiches until the bottom of the bread is golden brown.
  5. Pop the skillet under the broiler for 1-2 minutes, just until the cheese melts. Check every 20 seconds since broilers vary widely.
  6. Return the skillet to the stove top on medium heat. Top with the second piece of bread, placing it buttered side up. Flip the sandwiches, and cook until the bread is golden brown on the bottom, pressing lightly on the sandwiches with a spatula to “smush” the melted cheese down into the apples, nuts, and onions.
  7. Serve with a German Riesling. It’s a food/wine match made in heaven.

Biscoff Ice Cream (no ice cream maker)


Oh, dear god I’ve made a mistake. In ten minutes (plus four hours of hovering near the freezer and checking the clock) I’ve created the recipe that will surely be my downfall. By this upcoming beach season, expect to see me somewhere in the 200lb range, still stuffing my face with this stuff.

If you haven’t already, get into Biscoff. Biscoff cookies (speculaas or soeculoos everywhere but here) are little cinnamony shortbready bits of heaven. If that weren’t bad enough, they made a Biscoff SPREAD. It feels like peanut butter, but tastes like COOKIE. OMG. So. We both are a little obsessed with the stuff. Mike makes biscoff and nutella sandwiches, I slather it on apples, and we both are guilty of using a spoon and digging it right out of the jar. (This girl has a warning about it that is totally, 100% accurate.)

Anyhow…so this spread is something I search for excuses to use. I was wishing I had vanilla ice cream to put it on, when BAM! I realized that we had all of the ingredients to make ice cream. So, I did. And then we ate it.


Without further rambling, here is the ridiculously easy and terrifyingly good recipe for Biscoff Ice Cream.


    2 cups heavy cream
    1 (14 oz.) Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
    3 tablespoons butter, melted
    3/4 cup Biscoff Spread


    Whip heavy cream to stiff peaks in large bowl.
    Whisk sweetened condensed milk, butter, and Biscoff Spread in large bowl.
    Fold in whipped cream.
    Pour into a 2-quart container and cover.
    Freeze 6 hours or until firm. Store in freezer.

Brown Butter Cookies

Some day, if you’re very lucky, I might post the Kolachi cinnamon bun/sticky bun/cinnamon roll recipe…

But not yet. Today, brown butter cookies. If you’re making them for more than your own little family, I’d suggest doubling the recipe, or even tripling it.

I wish you could smell these

Browned butter cookies are kind of the Holy Grail of holiday cookies. They may not look as colorful or shiny as some of the others, but it would be a horrible mistake to pass them up.

(For those Indiana Jones fans, please do not carry the analogy further than this. You will not turn to dust if you choose a different cookie.)

Yield: Makes 16.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes


3/4 Cups (1 1/2 Sticks) salted butter
1/2 Cup dark brown sugar
1 Teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/3 Cups all-purpose flour
Raw sugar, for coating cookies (or any other large grained sugar, like turbinado or demerara)

NOTE: If you use unsalted butter, add 1/4 Teaspoon of salt to the dough.

Making Brown Butter

There’s really no trick to making brown butter. It’s a lot easier than you might think considering how delicious it is. Basically, just add your butter to a small saucepan.

Salted butter is good for this - as is Earth Balance

Then place the pan over medium-low heat until it melts. Stir the butter and after a few minutes it will start to foam and then the milk solids will sink to the bottom. Keep stirring or swirling your pan and eventually the butter will start to turn a light brown and give off a very delicious, nutty aroma.

That means it’s done.

Really the only way you can mess this up is to overcook it and turn your brown butter black. I actually think I overcooked mine a bit for this recipe because I was watching an eleven-month-old and not watching my butter. Go figure.

A shade too dark, but still delicious

Cool the butter

Once you have your brown butter, pour it into a dish (above) and store it in the fridge for about an hour. You want it to be chilled and almost solid before continuing with the recipe.

It’s okay if it’s a little liquid still, but it should be cold before you make the cookie dough.

Annoying but important step!

Making the Dough

Once your butter is cool, add it to a bowl along with your brown sugar. Don’t worry about the tiny particles of milk solids. You can add those also. They won’t hurt a soul. Cream the butter and sugar together – shouldn’t take more than 3 or 4 minutes to achieve a light and airy texture.

Then add your vanilla and slowly incorporate your flour. This isn’t a very wet dough, but that’s okay.

I think you could just scoop these on a baking sheet by rounded teaspoon or tablespoon and bake them without a problem, but if you want to take it to the next level, lay out all your dough on some wax paper and wrap the wax paper around the dough, then press down to form a cylinder.

You can make your cylinder whatever size you want. The smaller you want your cookies, the narrower your cylinder should be. Mine was probably about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter.

Next, sprinkle down a good amount of raw sugar (or any very grainy sugar…you could even use colored sugar if food coloring is okay with you and you’re looking to go festive). Roll your dough log around in the sugar until it’s well coated.

At this point you can wrap your dough up in the wax paper and stick it in the fridge for a few days without a problem, or freeze it for a few weeks.

When you are ready to bake, just take it out and slice off as many cookies as you need.

Baking the cookies

Before baking, I like to sprinkle a bit more of the sugar on top of the cookies, which just gives them a little more texture and sweetness.

Bake them on an ungreased baking sheet in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are slightly dark.

The final cookie is light and flaky and melts in your mouth – think of it as an improved shortbread!

Butternut Squash Bake

This is delicious! It takes the place of candied sweet potatoes in a holiday meal, or disguises a healthy vegetable enough that almost anyone will eat it (and ask for seconds).

Michael loves this for breakfast, and it’s a great way to use butternut squash if you have some but don’t know what to do with it. This year we got over 30lbs from the Penn State farms – nice, organic squash from Michael’s class – so I’ve been using it in everything.

NB: The topping is a loose approximation…you can use any crunchy cereal. Try Rice Krispies, Grape Nuts, any flake cereal that can maintain some crunch…play around! This time I used Honey Bunches of Oats, which I toasted lightly before adding the melted butter. If you’re a topping person (like I am – the topping is usually the best part of any dish!) double the amounts for the topping – it’s not a precise science, here 🙂


  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar (I use half brown sugar and half granulated, but you could do all of either – it depends on what you like!)
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 oz milk/cream/evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups mashed cooked butternut squash
  • 1/2 cup crisp cereal
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted


[To cook the squash: Halve two medium butternut squashes. Scoop out the seeds, and peel the skin off. Cut off the tough ends. Cut squash into evenly sized pieces, and put in boiling water. Boil for 12 minutes, drain, and puree using an immersion blender.]

  • In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, milk and vanilla. Stir in squash (mixture will be thin).
  • Pour into a greased 11-in. x 7-in. baking pan. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 45 minutes or until almost set.
  • In a small bowl, combine topping ingredients; sprinkle over casserole. Return to the oven for 5-10 minutes or until bubbly.

Scalloped Sweet Potatoes

I made the recipe as I’m printing it once, and the next time I used a smidge of nutritional yeast with the flour and didn’t bother with the bacon. Both times it was delicious! Enjoy 🙂

Crispy, gooey goodness - perfect for fall and winter



  • 2 pounds Sweet Potatoes
  • 4 strips Morningstar Farms Veggie Bacon
  • 1 whole Onion, Chopped
  • 2-½ Tablespoons All-purpose Flour
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • ¼ teaspoons Black Pepper
  • 2 cups Milk (I used almond milk, but you could use regular milk or even cream if you’re brave and looking for a heart attack…)
  • 1-¼ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese


Potluck tip: if prepared in advance, bake as directed, cover and refrigerate for up to one day. Reheat at 325 degrees for 15 minutes covered, then remove cover and continue heating until warm.

Our sweet potatoes came from the farmer's market by the Gamble Mill in Bellefonte - sold by the grower

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Peel potatoes; cut into 1/4 inch slices. Place potatoes in a large pot of boiling water. Cook for 5-10 minutes or until just tender. Drain well and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, cook bacon in butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Crumble and set aside.

Am I the only one who would eat caramelized onions by themselves!?

3. Add chopped onion to remaining bacon butter and cook until tender. Stir in flour over low heat and cook to a paste. Add salt and pepper. Add milk and cook until mixture thickens slightly.

4. Arrange half of the sweet potatoes in the bottom of an 11×7 inch baking dish. Sprinkle on half of the crumbled bacon. Pour on half of the milk mixture. Arrange remaining potatoes, sprinkle with remaining bacon and pour the rest of the milk mixture over the top. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. If desired, brown cheese for 1-2 minutes under the broiler.



Nom nom nom!