Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dark Chocolate Soufflé

I made dark chocolate soufflés several weeks ago with one of my close baking buddies. I realize that I am uploading these pictures rather late, but better late than never! Follow me through my baking journey:



The recipe I used was directly from "Chocolate", a 2002 confection-filled cookbook by Linda Collister. Collister has written other chocolate-praising cookbooks ("Chocolate Temptations" and "Heavenly Chocolate"), both of which are internationally regarded as bestsellers. The book that I own, "Chocolate", contains absolutely gorgeous photography, easy-to-follow instructions, and a huge variety of recipes using chocolate as the star ingredient. I would consider every recipe in the book sophisticated and gourmet, but not to an extreme level. Everything can be easily replicated, assuming that you have basic baking skills, of course. This being said, the chocolate soufflé recipe from the book was not all that difficult to execute. I have always connoted soufflés with top star bakers and French cuisine. Still, I have always wanted to bake a soufflé. Soufflés have a reputation for having an unbelievably light consistency, almost like angel food cake, and a stunning appearance. Collister's soufflé recipe made French cuisine seem as easy as pie. I had a wonderful baking experience! Thanks Linda for your insight!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Lentil-Barley Soup with a Seaweed Surprise

It's winter, and my body is craving hearty soups. I decided to make some thick lentil soup loaded with barley, veggies, and believe it or not, wakame seaweed. The seaweed adds tons of nutrition to the soup, and you would never guess it was there. I swear. Once the soup has been simmering for a while, the seaweed kind of breaks up and dissolves into the soup. It disappears, so nobody has to know your secret. Kombu seaweed could be substituted for the wakame, brown rice could be substituted for the barley, and other veggies and herbs can be thrown into the stew. I just used what I had available, but please alter the recipe to your liking.


-6 cups water
-1 1/4 cups uncooked lentils, rinsed
-1 1/2 cups pearled barley, cooked
-1 large carrot, diced
-1 large onion, diced
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-3 teaspoons dried wakame flakes
-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
-1 teaspoon dried oregano
-1 teaspoon dried thyme
-1 teaspoon dried rosemary

Mix all ingredients EXCEPT BARLEY in a large pot. Cover with a lid and bring to a rolling boil. Lower soup to a gentle boil, cover with a lid, and stir occasionally. Cook for about 30 minutes, or until soup thickens and lentils are tender. Add cooked barley. Ladle about half of the soup into a food processor and puree. Pour pureed soup back into the pot and mix with non-pureed soup. You can puree as much or as little soup as you want. Your decision dictates how chunky the end product will be.

Ladle soup into an over-sized mug and top with crumbled crackers. I used multi grain pita chips. The soup was delicious!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Super Duper Vegan Cookies with Agave, Oats, and Flax

Vegan means no animal products. No eggs, no butter, and no milk is often associated with no taste, especially in baked goods. This misconception is so wrong, and this vegan cookie recipe clearly proves it.

What's special about vegan baking? Vegan sweets are usually more wholesome than non-vegan ones. Another benefit is that the baker can safely taste "raw" batter, since vegan batter will never contain raw eggs. What a concept!

This cookie recipe was adapted from a Agave and Honey Oatmeal M&M Cookie Recipe from ( The recipe is super versatile and can be changed to yield completely different cookies. Additional spices can be added to the recipe (i.e. nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cardamom, all spice, etc.), other liquid sweeteners can be fully or partially substituted for the agave (i.e. molasses, honey, brown rice syrup, etc.), the oats can be ground in a food processor for a "lighter" cookie, and mixtures of whole-grain flours can be used for more whole grain variety (i.e. buckwheat flour, millet flour, or brown rice flour can be mixed with the whole wheat flour).

Just as a side note, I used chocolate chips in my cookies (they're not 100% vegan). Carob chips are usually used as a vegan chocolate substitute, but I have never tried them. Raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, chopped dates, crystallized ginger, and other tasty add-ins could alternatively be used. Another exciting point about this recipe is that it only yields about 8 cookies. This is great for people who live alone and have nobody with which they can share their cookies. The 8 cookie yield can be beneficial towards people who are dieting and do not want too many sweets hanging around the house. For those people who want more cookies to snack on, this recipe can very easily be doubled or tripled.

Have fun and do not be afraid to alter the recipe to your liking!


-2 Tablespoons warm water + 1 Tablespoon ground flax
-4 Tablespoons (1/4 cup) agave nectar
-2 Tablespoons canola oil
-1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

-1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
-3/4 cup oats
-1/8 teaspoon baking soda
-1/8 teaspoon baking powder
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
-about 1/4 cup chocolate chips,carob chips, raisins, or whatever is available

Preheat oven to 375 F, and line a metal cookie sheet with non-stick parchment paper.

Agressively whisk together flax and water in a small bowl for about 1 minute (this process brings out the healthy fats in the flax seed). Set aside to thicken.

In a separate bowl, mix together all dry ingredients. Whisk agave, oil, and vanilla into flax mixture. Slowly stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients, and stir until combined. Drop Tablespoon-sized dollops of batter onto the parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Slightly flatten dollops.

Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown and beautiful! Cool cookies on a wire rack and enjoy.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Super Healthy Green Protein Smoothie

I just came back from a run this morning, and I needed some fuel. I threw together a smoothie that is chock full of protein, carbohydrates, antioxidants, fiber, vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, and other vital nutrients. The smoothie is green in color because it contains baby spinach. I know that may sound a little scary (and probably disgusting), but the sweet fruits in the recipe block out the veggie flavor of the spinach. Plus, baby spinach has a very mild flavor, unlike that of bitter greens (i.e. collard greens). I pretty much used whatever I had on hand, but the recipe can certainly be tweaked to your liking.


-6 oz. container of PLAIN 2% greek yogurt (Oikos or Chobani brands are great)
-medium handful of pineapple chunks
-medium handful of blueberries
-huge handful of baby spinach (you can use less if you are afraid)
-juice of 1 orange, freshly squeezed
-heaping Tablespoon of almond butter

Pour all ingredients into a food processor. Pulse on high until smooth and luscious. Pour into a tall chilled glass and enjoy. The smoothie tastes best cold.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Black Bean Asian Salad with Pineapples and Sesame-Ginger Dressing

I think sweet and savory flavors mingle so well with each other, yet it's sometimes scary for me to mix sweet and savory flavors together in a culinary arena. I love to eat it, but I am afraid to replicate it. In the past, I remember making a Moroccan dinner with turmeric, cinnamon, chickpeas, spinach, brown rice, and raisins. The sweet raisins tasted so yummy with the peppery turmeric! I wanted to relive the same experience.

I had pineapple chunks hanging out in my refrigerator today, and I decided to pair the sweet flavor of pineapple with the savory/spicy flavors of ginger and sesame. I love salads, so I decided to throw one together. The end product was a success! Below is the recipe for my Black Bean Asian Salad with Pineapples. Alter it to your liking.

Note: I rarely use measuring instruments when cooking (I definitely do when baking). Remember, cooking is an art!

-large handful of organic baby spinach, washed and roughly chopped
-about 1/2 cup fresh pineapples, diced
-about 1/3 cup cooked brown rice
-about 1/3 cup cooked black beans

-about 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
-several shakes of low-sodium tamari (or soy sauce)
-a splash of pineapple juice (I used the juice the pineapple chunks were sitting in)
-several shakes of ground ginger
-about 1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Place baby spinach on a large plate or a shallow bowl. Top with brown rice, black beans, and pineapples.

In a small bowl, whisk together sesame oil, tamari, and pineapple juice. Whisk in ginger and sesame seeds. See photograph of finished dressing below.

Pour dressing over salad and enjoy!