Tag Archive: Cooking

Healthy Pumpkin Lentil Soup

Yogurt and Lentils

This summer I spent very little time cooking and baking. For me Fall squashes and pumpkin spice make much more exciting recipes. When Stonyfield asked their Clean Plate Club bloggers to make a recipe using Bob’s Red Mill‘s lentils, I knew I wanted it to use pumpkin, too. 

I eat beans pretty much every day and it’s almost always the kind from a can. As much as I’d prefer cooking my own, it can take a long time and yield way too much beans for one person. These red lentils were perfect because they only took 15 minutes and you don’t have to cook the whole bag all at once.

I liked this soup a little chunky so I didn’t blend up the lentils. For a thick and creamy soup, you could continue blending until smooth. If you want to turn it into more of a meal than a side add a cup and a half of cooked quinoa at the end.

Healthy Pumpkin Lentil Soup

Healthy Pumpkin Lentil Soup

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Ingredients(Makes 5-6 servings):

  • 1 cup uncooked Bob’s Red Mill red lentils
  • 2 cups vegetarian broth
  • 1 can pumpkin purée
  • 1/2 cup Stonyfield lowfat plain yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika


  1. Cook the Bob’s Red Mill red lentils according to directions on the package.
  2. In a food processor or blender, combine the rest of the ingredients and blend until emulsified.
  3. Add in the cooked lentils and pulse gently until fully mixed. For a smooth soup, continue blending until fully puréed.
  4. Pour the soup into a large pot and heat on top of the stove.
  5. Season with extra salt and pepper to taste. Finish with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt.

Homemade Honey Walnut Cream Cheese

Homemade Honey Walnut Cream Cheese

People tend to think that when you’re gluten-free you spend your life missing all carbs. That’s certainly not true, but I definitely miss certain carbs like cinnamon crunch Panera bagels smothered in sweet hazelnut cream cheese.

Some things are hard to make at home(like bagels, unless you’re looking to give away an afternoon for amorphous doughballs). Other things are super easy; you can make this cream cheese in 5 minutes and actually be excited about a weekend breakfast at home.

Adding salt and vanilla might seem a little strange, but it helps round out the flavors of the honey to be salty-sweet and a little savory. Toasting the walnuts is well worth the effort for the overall flavor. This recipe works perfectly with full-fat cream cheese, low-fat cream cheese, or non-dairy alternatives. 

Homemade Honey Walnut Cream Cheese

If you’re not a fan of honey you can also use an equal amount of maple syrup. Try using peanuts instead of walnuts for a different flavor or just leave them out completely for a nut-free recipe and you’ll still have a delicious spread.  

Homemade Honey Walnut Cream Cheese

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 0 minutes

Ingredients(Makes 12 squares):

  • 1 block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. In a large bowl, beat together the honey and cream cheese until well-mixed.
  2. Heat up a small pan over a low burner. Add in the walnuts and toss until they’re toasted.
  3. Add the walnuts, salt, and vanilla to the honey cream cheese and fold the ingredients in.
  4. Serve immediately or store refrigerated in an air-tight container. 

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Loaf Cake

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Loaf Cake

Baking is just more fun in the Fall and Winter. You get to stand near the oven to stay warm, make something delicious, and wear oversized sweaters to hide how much you’ve been eating. What’s not to love?

My favorite things to bake on the weekend is anything I can have for breakfast or take to work and eat with a cup of coffee. Put this next to a cup of coffee and a spoon of almond butter and you won’t be disappointed.

Pumpkin spice is just a mix of a bunch of other spices, so if you don’t have it on hand just use cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and/or cloves. This recipe doesn’t actually have any pumpkin in it but neither do pumpkin spice lattes and that’s never bothered anyone.

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Loaf Cake

I really liked this more like a crumb cake with chopped pecans and raisins to add some texture, but it’d also be great without any mix-ins and covered with a cream cheese frosting.

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Loaf Cake

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients(Makes 12 squares):

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon pumpkin spice
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans(optional)


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together all of the sugar, flour, and baking soda.
  3. Add in the milk, butter, eggs, extract, and spice and mix well until it forms a batter.
  4. Mix in the chopped nuts if using.
  5. Grease an 8 x 8 baking pan thoroughly.
  6. Pour the batter into the baking tray.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the center is cooked through.
  8. Remove from the oven and let cool before cutting.

Pumpkin Spice Caramel Sauce

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Syrup

We’re really spoiled at my office. We have a Keurig machine and 2 Nespressos with a built-in milk foamer; there’s no excuse to go to Starbucks ever.

That being said, there are certain drinks I always crave, like sweet lattes with rich caramel sauce swirls. Even if it’s not worth standing in line 20 minutes and shelling out $5, it’s certainly worth taking the time to make it at home for pennies and an infinite supply.

I’m not a pumpkin-spice fanatic, but I do love the earthy flavors in coffee, especially mixed with rich, buttery caramel. I tried Ina Garten’s caramel sauce last year, loved it, and vowed to make it again and again. This was the first time I made it since then(oops). It’s amazing that a little salt and spice changes the flavors completely. This could go in anything from coffee to oatmeal to even squash. 

Pumpkin Spice Caramel Sauce

I don’t recommend using a candy thermometer for this because by the time you have it calibrated right the caramel will burn. It’s best to just watch it closely, use your judgement, and buy an extra set of ingredients because it’s the easiest thing in the world to mess up the first time(but worth giving it a second try!).

Pumpkin Spice Caramel Sauce(Adapted from this recipe)

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients(Makes about 1 1/2 cups):

  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 1/4 cup heavy cream, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Combine and mix the sugar and water in a medium-sized pot.
  2. Bring the sugar water to a rolling boil and maintain. Once the water is boiling make sure not to touch it with a utensil.
  3. While the water is boiling, mix the vanilla and cream in a cup.
  4. Watch the sugar water carefully as it changes from white to a soft green to a hazelnut. When it turns a reddish-brown, remove quickly from the heat. Don’t let it get to a solid brown or the sugar is too burnt.
  5. Off the heat pour in the cream and vanilla extract. Stand back as it sizzles and may splatter.
  6. Once the caramel’s calmed, return it to the heat and start stirring as it’s just below boiling point. The caramel will have clumped and hardened.
  7. Continue stirring until the clumps have dissolved into the cream and it’s an even color and consistency.
  8. Remove from the heat and add in the spice and salt. Continue mixing as it cools to get the clumps of spice out.
  9. Once cooled, store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. 

Savory Garlic Green Beans


A lot of the time I’m asked if this is purely a dessert blog. It’s not, but I can see where the confusion comes from between brownies and bark and cookies.

Desserts are just easier to photograph. You don’t have to worry about them cooling too much. You can even wait a whole day before cutting a slice. But spend 10 minutes photographing green beans and all you’re left with are mediocre pictures and cold vegetables.

You’ll only get one mediocre picture from this blog post, but a darn good recipe. If you like vegetables—or even if you don’t—using garlic and shallots and just the right amount of salt makes these greens addictive.

Savory Garlic Green Beans

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 5 minutes

Ingredients(Makes 2-3 servings):

  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 shallot, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 1lb fresh green beans, end chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan over medium heat.
  2. Add in the shallots and garlic and cook until they begin to brown.
  3. Add in the rest of the oil and the green beans. Sauté moving constantly so that the green beans cook on all sides.
  4. Season with salt and toss before removing from the pan. Serve while hot.

5 Vegetarian Super Bowl Dip Recipes

This weekend might be the biggest weekend for football, but it’s also the biggest weekend for dips. As a vegetarian I usually live off of nachos whenever I’m at a party or sports bar. I could never get tired of spicy salsa and creamy guacamole, but making your own dips always tastes better than buying a pre-packaged one from the store. Here are 5 recipes to satisfy the vegetarians and meat-lovers alike at your party who just want to dip on in.


Vegetarian Buffalo Chicken Dip

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Ingredients(Serves 8-12 people):

  • 8oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup hot sauce
  • 8oz shredded cheddar or Mexican-blend cheese, divided
  • 1 15oz can white beans, rinsed and drained


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the hot sauce, cream cheese, and 6 ounces(about 1 1/2 cups) of shredded until mixed.
  3. Fold in the beans, adding a little bit of water if necessary until fully incorporated.
  4. Scoop the dip into an oven-safe bowl and spread out the remaining cheese on top to cover it.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cheese begins to brown and the center is hot.
  6. Remove from the oven and serve hot with crudité and nachos.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Ingredients(Serves 6 people):

  • 2 cups chickpeas
  • 1 roasted red pepper with the skin peeled
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 Tablespoons neutral oil
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar


  1. For the roasted pepper, heat an oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Cut the pit out of the pepper and lay it on a baking tray.
  3. Brush the pepper with olive oil and roast it for 15-20 minutes until the skin starts to blister away. Let the pepper cool before trying to peel off the skin.
  4. Add all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend until the hummus is completely smooth.
  5. Move into a bowl to serve or store in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to a week.


Firecracker Guacamole

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 0 minutes

Ingredients(Serves 6 people):

  • 3 ripe medium-sized avocadoes
  • 1 small tomato
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 1 habanero pepper
  • 1/2 Tablespoon lemon or lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro(optional)


  1. Peel and mash your avocadoes together in a large bowl.
  2. Carefully dice the onion, tomato, and pepper. Add the tomato and pepper in with the avocado reserving the onion.
  3. Heat a large pan over medium with a little water in the bottom. Quickly sauté the onion in the water for a couple minutes until the diced onions are semi-translucent. Remove from the heat and add in with the avocado.
  4. Add in your citrus and salt and cilantro if using and mix all of the ingredients together.
  5. Serve at room temperature. Store in the refrigerator for up to a day.

Avocado Sour Cream Dip

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 0 minutes

Ingredients(Makes about 8 servings):

  • 1 ripe medium avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 3/4 cup sour cream or low-fat sour cream
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoons freshly chopped chives


  1. In a food processor(or however you’d like to do it), puree the avocado until it’s completely smooth.
  2. Fold together the avocado puree, sour cream, onion powder, salt, and 2 ½ Tablespoons of chopped chives.
  3. Transfer the dip to a serving bowl and garnish with the remaining chives.
  4. Serve with Kettle Brand Chips and veggie crudités


Creamy Avocado Onion Dip

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 1 minute

Ingredients(Serves about 4 people):

  • 1 medium-sized avocado
  • 2 Tablespoons plain 0% Stonyfield Greek
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons minced onions
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder


  1. Pit and seed the avocado and put the meet in a small mixing bowl.
  2. Mash the avocado with a fork until it’s smooth and uniform in color.
  3. Add in the Stonyfield Greek, salt, and olive oil and mix.
  4. In a small pan, heat some cooking oil and sauté the minced onions quickly until they turn brown(this shouldn’t take more than 30 seconds). Keep the pan moving so that they don’t burn.
  5. Add the onions and onion powder to the dip and mix until smooth.
  6. Transfer the dip to a serving bowl and serve with chips and crudités.


4 Healthy New Year’s Recipes

New Year’s resolutions are hard. It’s easy to shoot to high and make resolutions impossible to keep up with; the best kind are little changes you can work into your everyday routine and maintain without even thinking about it.

I didn’t make a food or fitness resolution this year. Mine is to get whiter teeth, so I bought special toothpaste and mouthwash. We’ll see how that goes with the horde of coffee and chocolate I eat.

If you did make a resolution to eat healthier, here are 4 simple recipes you can work into your every week to hit that goal. All of them have common, simple ingredients and are probably foods you already eat, so working them into your diet should be a breeze.



Low-Fat Cinnamon Raisin Granola is a great quick and filling alternative to heftier breakfasts like bagels and cream cheese or a donut. You can make a big batch on the weekend and portion out servings for the weekday mornings to grab and go.



Fruity Peanut Butter Yogurt Dip will satisfy your sweet tooth in the afternoon and still be tasty enough to enjoy. It’s a simple mix of yogurt, peanut butter, and sweetener that’s good for kids or grown-ups.



Easy Broccoli Frittata is another recipe you can make in bulk over the weekend and reheat throughout the week whenever you’re less than motivated to make a meal. The eggs and cheese are full of protein while the broccoli adds a boost of healthy nutrients, too. Add a simple side and you’ve got a whole dinner.



Raw Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Cake proves that you can still have dessert even when you’re eating healthy. The bulk of this “cake” is dates and hazelnuts, making for a delicious and nutritious end to a meal.

Did you make a New Year’s resolution? What was it?

12 Months Of Recipes: 2013

“Oh God, not another list!” is admittedly what I think whenever someone posts one of these year-end roundups. Bear with me if you feel the same.

Last year I had gone through all my posts from 2012 and picked my favorites from each month. I liked the idea a lot and wanted to do it again. Most months were a struggle to pick just one recipe—a good problem to have I imagine.

Here are all of my favorite recipes from each month of 2013. I hope you browse through them and find a favorite, too.


January: Vegetarian Buffalo Chicken Dip


February: White Chocolate Peppermint Brownies


March: Maple Hazelnut Granola


April: Homemade Strawberry Sauce


May: Red, White, and Blue Stuffed Strawberries


June: Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread


July: Reese’s Lovers Bark


August: Gluten-Free Cornbread


September: Coconut Caramel Muffins


October: Low-Fat Butternut Squash Casserole


November: Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies


December: Hot Amaretto Mochas

Here’s to another delicious year of recipes!

Hot Amaretto Mochas


I’ve gone through stages of coffee drinking. First was the “decaf black coffee is the way to go.” Then came the “I don’t drink coffee, just tea,”  followed by “I only drink coffee when my coworkers do.”

Now comes the “I’ll drink coffee when you put Bailey’s in it” time of year.

This drink is so easy it’s a little scary(scary that you can make it whenever you want, that is). Be sure to keep all the ingredients on hand for a dessert aperitif on Christmas day or for any holiday party and watch the pot of coffee disappear.


You can use any flavored liqueur instead of the amaretto, or even make a non-alcoholic version with coffee creamer and a splash of almond extract for the kiddos.

Hot Amaretto Mochas

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 0 minutes

Ingredients(Makes 1 serving):

  • 6oz fresh brewed coffee
  • 1 Tablespoon hot cocoa mix
  • 1 1/2oz Irish cream
  • 1/2oz amaretto


  1. Make sure the coffee you’re using is steaming hot. If not, heat it up gently.
  2. Stir in the hot cocoa mix until it’s completely dissolved.
  3. Pour in the Irish cream and almond liqueur and stir well until blended.
  4. Garnish with whipped cream and chocolate if desired. Serve hot.


Homemade Buckeyes Recipe

Homemade Buckeyes Recipe Portion

As fun as it is to try new recipes and explore new flavors, some recipes you inevitably come back to season after season, year after year.

Last week I made these buckeyes for a holiday party, only to realize I did the same exact thing last year. Desserts like this are just too easy not to choose and always please a crowd. They’re also naturally gluten-free and can be made vegan by using margarine instead of butter.

These didn’t come out nearly as pretty as store-bought candies, but I always like it when you can tell something’s homemade.

Homemade Buckeyes Recipe

A recipe like this may not seem too versatile, but you can use any kind of peanut butter or other nut butter to make it unique. Chocolate peanut butter would be a perfect substitution for any chocolate lover.

Peanut Butter Buckeyes

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 0 minutes

Ingredients(Makes about 20 buckeyes):

  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter, softened
  • 6 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/4 cups bittersweet chocolate chips OR 10oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped


  1. In a large bowl mix together the peanut butter, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and salt until it forms a dough that sticks to itself. If for some reason your dough is too thin, slowly add more powdered sugar until it’s workable.
  2. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and place them on a non-stick surface.
  3. Put the peanut butter balls in the freezer to set.
  4. While the peanut butter balls are hardening, melt the chocolate in a microwave or over a double boiler.
  5. One by one dip the peanut butter balls into the melted chocolate to coat their outside and put them back on the non-stick surface.
  6. Refrigerate the peanut butter balls until the chocolate has set. Keep cold until ready to serve.