Club Cracker ‘Who-Done-It’ Toffee

Peanut Butter Club Cracker Toffee

I love digging into a good book, or at least a “good book” by my standards (more on that later), but sleep tends to get in the way. I come by it honestly; when I lived with my parents I remember walking by their room at night and seeing my dad with his mouth open, his lamp still on, and snoring loudly with an open book sprawled on his face. Obviously I fall asleep in a much more refined, ladylike fashion than that description (totally), but the point remains the same: it takes me a while to finish books.

For my mom, the line never seems to blur between reading and sleeping, possibly because of the books she chooses. While I go for what we will kindly call “popular fiction,” aka Harry Potter, Twilight, and more recently, Fifty Shades of Grey, my mom loves the who-done-it, murder and mayhem types that I can’t read because I scare easy. A few summers ago, we were sitting outside when I looked over and saw my mom reading, Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder. Between hearty laughs, I asked my mom what in the world she was holding. A recipe book? A murder mystery? A joke?

After my mom made a recipe from the mystery book, my sarcasm and mockery fell down to my foot, which I promptly stuck in my mouth. The book may not be my cup of tea as far as genres go, but man oh man, the author makes a mean toffee.
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Quick and Crispy Asparagus Flatbread

Quick and Crispy Asparagus Flatbread

I really love simple food. Sure, there’s a time and a place for complex meals, but that time is not during the week, and that place is [usually] not in my tiny apartment kitchen. This past Tuesday, I knew I needed to cook, because multiple recent impulse purchases had resulted in a stocked crisper. Yes, I impulse buy vegetables, because I’m a nerd about Spring and fresh produce. Fresh asparagus? I can put that in ANYTHING! Leeks? I love leeks! I’ll take four!

While both of these statements are true, because I DO put asparagus in everything, and I DO love leeks, my excitement blinded the rational part of my mind where I could have told myself, “Katie, you really don’t have time to cook this week.” Time shmime, I’d make it work.

Fortunately, leeks and asparagus go wonderfully together, and with a touch of lemon, some cheese, and simple seasoning, I had myself a completely delicious, perfect pizza in about 20 minutes. Sure, you need 2 hours for the dough to rise, but you can make it in under 10 minutes, then have it to use for 10 FULL DAYS with this recipe. 10 days of quick pizza at my disposal? That’s the kind of schedule I can work with.
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Coconut Cupcake Redemption

Coconut Cupcakes Filled with Chocolate Ganache

In my food life, I know three things for certain: when life is a question, grilled cheese is the answer, a world without chocolate is a world where I’m angry, and if I spot a coconut dessert, I’m buying two: one for me and one for my mom. We may both be vegetarians, but outside of that, coconut desserts are basically our only common ground in food. A few months ago, I made Macaroon Muffins in the hopes of mom-bonding, but alas, she thought they were misleading in their cupcake-like appearance, not sweet enough, AND too dense. I thought they were perfect…my world was shaken.

I wasn’t about to lose our coconut camaraderie without a fight, so as Mother’s Day approached, I began dreaming up my mom’s ideal coconut recipe. I told her of my plan last week and she responded, “Great!…You’re not going to put anything weird in them, right? I don’t want any avocado in there, no applesauce, no fresh herbs…don’t mess with it.” Admittedly I do have an obsession with kitchen experimentation, but this was not the time or the place. No, this was the time for straightforward dessert perfection in coconut form. With her tastes in mind, I headed into my kitchen, grabbed my staple baking ingredients (nothing more, nothing less), and started my journey to coconut redemption.

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Choose Your Own Adventure: Almond Butter Cookies

Almond butter cookie 2

Hey fellow kids of the 90s – remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books? You’d get a few chapters in, start caring about the story, and then WHAM you need to make a decision that would completely color the remainder of your book experience, or end the book quickly by killing you. I actually kind of hated those books because, well, I hate decisions. What’s wrong with normal books where you get passively lost in a story instead of having to choose the story yourself?

These wishy-washy books came to the front of my mind recently when a weekend-long baking mission left me with choices…too many choices. I knew I wanted to make almond butter cookies, because almond butter is one of those things that I could eat any time of day, in any situation: scooped right out of the jar, melted in oatmeal, slathered on an apple, grilled in a sandwich with nutella, mixed into in a smoothie, etc…the point is that I really don’t care, as long as I get to eat it. Due to my versatile almond butter love, I couldn’t decide what kind of cookie to make. I imagined soft oatmeal cookies made with brown butter, but from there I could not commit to one direction.

I ended up going through three different cookie “Adventures,” if you will (and I think you will), which means that this post is a three-fer…yes, three recipes in one post, so you get to choose your own adventure! …and I get to make three different cookie variations instead of picking just one. Everyone wins!

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Big n’ Tall Toasted Quinoa Burgers

Toasted Quinoa Veggie Burgers

People often comment on the size of my meals. “Oh wow, that’s a ton of soup! And you’re having that bread too? Wow, rock on” or, “That’s a HUGE sandwich, I’m impressed” or the occasional, “Did you eat that entire pizza?” Yes, I did, okay? I ate the whole damn thing. I’m a small person who needs a lot of food. Get over it. Uffda, anyway, the takeaway from my rant is this: I like big meals. I like the act of eating, so I’m sad when it’s over quickly. Because of this, I like to eat HUGE bowls of soup or BIG ¬†sandwiches or, yes, the occasional ENTIRE pizza. BUT, here’s the kicker, I [usually] like to make my large meals full of healthy stuff, like tomato spinach zucchini soup, or sandwiches piled high with avocado and tomato, or pizzas topped with so many veggies you can’t even tell what’s on them. That way, I can just eat the whole damn thing and still be that small chick who eats an absurd amount of food…and maybe the occasional ridiculously indulgent dessert, but that’s another post altogether.

And that brings me to my quinoa burger. While shopping at Trader Joe’s, I picked up a bag of their new Tri-Color Quinoa, and staring back at me was a recipe for quinoa burgers. I wasn’t feeling the recipe’s black bean/southwest vibe, but the idea of a quinoa burger had gotten into my head, and I wasn’t going to give it up. After all, quinoa is packed with all kinds of healthy stuff, so I could make a gigantic patty, with an awesome texture, and a main ingredient that comes together in 15 minutes. Plus, for someone like myself who’s a bit of a veggie burger aficionado, coming up with a new homemade patty sounded like a fun challenge.

I’m fortunate that the boy¬†is supportive of my random food challenges, and actually enjoys quinoa. Sure, he’ll act skeptical when I serve it, use his sarcastic voice, and make fun of its appearance, but he eats [nearly] as much as me when we have it, so I figured he’d happily hop on board the quinoa burger train…with a bit of an attitude, per usual, but I’ll take it.

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