Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Healthy Blueberry Bran Muffins {and a Giveaway!}

Quite a lot happened this past weekend. It was Earth Day. I had an opera rehearsal. I saw a Broadway play. I ran a race in a pink tutu and pink, fuzzy devil horns.

What? I did! Need proof?

I was holding a baton because I was part of a relay team. Since we had to wake up early to get to the start, I decided to make muffins the day before so we could eat breakfast in the car. I found a healthy blueberry muffin recipe and adjusted it to make it even healthier! They were so good! All the runners who ate one loved it.
And now ladies and gentlemen, *drum roll* it's time for my first ever giveaway on this blog! Due to knowing some cool runners, I got a free life factory water bottle.
I've been using metal water bottles for the last 4 years and was very happy to get a spiffy glass one. This bottle is super cheerful and easy to grip. Also, the larger opening makes it easier to clean. (Not to mention that having a glass bottle means I can SEE that it's clean inside.) The bottle, sleeve, and cap are all dishwasher safe. I also love that it has ounce measurements on the side. So far I've drank 80 ounces of water today and it's only the afternoon. (I drink a LOT of water.)

Now you have the chance to win one of these great bottles! In honor of Earth Day (it WAS a busy weekend...), I'm giving away one of these bottles.

To enter, go to and figure out if you'd like a flip cap or a classic cap bottle and what color you love the best out of the options. Then write a comment in the comment form below with your choices (flip vs classic and which color you'd want.) Also, leave a way to contact you in the comment form if you don't have a blog profile and are leaving a comment as anonymous (email or twitter name only).

The prized bottle will be the 22oz version. Drawing will happen on Tuesday, May 1.

This giveaway is open from April 25th through midnight EDT on April 30th. You must be 18 years old to enter and live in the United States.
Please see official rules HERE

CONTEST CLOSED: The winner was #9, Nansi, who wants the classic cap in orange. Congratulations!
Healthy Blueberry Bran Muffins

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup oat bran
1/4 cup quick cooking oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 banana, mashed
3/4 cup almond milk
1 egg
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 12 cup muffin pan, or line with paper muffin cups.

2.In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, oat bran, quick-cooking oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Gently stir in the blueberries, and walnuts. In a separate bowl, mix together the mashed banana, almond milk, egg, oil, and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and mix just until blended. Spoon into muffin cups, filling all the way to the top.

3.Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the tops of the muffins spring back when lightly touched. Or test by inserting a toothpick. If it comes out clean, the muffins are ready to be taken out of the oven.
Bake well and prosper!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Vegan Pie - Old Fashioned Chocolate Pudding Pie

My best friend in France (grant it, I only have 5 friends in France...but she's my best one!) sent me a vegan pie cookbook for a thank you gift. (She made the vegan brownies way back in 2010.) The thanks was due because I shipped her a gift for her boyfriend (and herself) from America which meant I had to drag myself to the post office a week or two BEFORE Christmas and fill out a customs form etc etc. *shudder*

Actually, it wasn't all that bad. Quite easy. And the thank you gift came as a nice surprise.
I should have made something sooner, but making this type of vegan dessert meant being able to go to a specialty grocery store. Seeing I hardly go to my normal grocery store, it took me awhile to go to Whole Foods to get the ingredients. But I got them! Here are some of the special ones I found:
(Really, I only needed to go to Whole Foods for the vegan chocolate chips, but I figured I'd get fancy graham crackers and corn starch while I was at it.)

I must admit that I was a little "meh" about making a vegan pie. 1. I'm a milk type of gal. 2. I'm a cookies type of gal. But I started on the crust and guess what! I made a mess!
I knew from then that this recipe was going to rock! And rock it did! I had one piece and then HAD to have a second piece right away!
(But please don't tell my French vegan friend that I had the second piece with milk. Shhhhh!)

Cette recette était super délicieux! Vous devriez essayer le faire. (Thanks google translate! I hope that translated correctly to "This recipe was super yummy! You should try making it.")
Vegan Old-Fashioned Chocolate Pudding Pie (from Vegan Pie in the Sky)
Ingredients for the crust:
1 3/4 cups finely ground graham crackers
        (made from 10 ounces of whole graham crackers)  
        (Erika's Extras: Mine had oatmeal on it and I thought
          it was a nice flavor added to the crust.)
3 Tablespoons sugar
4 Tablespoons melted hydrogenated margarine, melted coconut oil, or canola oil
   (Erika's Extras: I used canola oil but I think the
    margarine would solidify it better.
    Mine was quite crumbly on the edges.)
1 Tablespoon plain soy milk or almond milk
   (Erika's Extras: I used almond milk because it's part of
    the ingredients for the filling.)
Nonstick cooking spray

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F and lightly spray a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine the graham crumbs and sugar. Drizzle in the oil or melted margarine. Use a spoon to blend the mixture thoroughly to moisten the crumbs, then drizzle in the soy or almond milk and stir again to form a crumbly dough.
3. Pour the crumbs into the pie plate. Press crumbs into the sides of the plate first, then work your way down to the bottom, Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until firm. Let the crust cool before filling.

Ingredients for the Filling
3 cups almond milk
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
Big pinch of salt
1/4 cup semisweet vegan chocolate chips
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. In a small (2-quart) saucepan off the heat, combine 1 cup of the almond milk and the cornstarch. Use a fork to whisk it until the cornstarch is good and dissolved. Whisk in the remaining almond milk, the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. it's ok if the cocoa is a bit clumpy at first; it will dissolve eventually.
2. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking occasionally. Keep a close eye because once boiling, you need to lower the heat and bring the mixture to a slow rolling boil. Whisk consistently until the mixture is thickened, which should be about 7 minutes. (Erika's Extras: I never found that this "thickened." It became slightly more solid and then once it cools it is fine. Don't expect it to grab on the whisk much.)
3. Add the chocolate chips and mix to melt. Stir in the vanilla extract. Pour the pudding into the prepared pie shell and let cool for about 15 minutes on the counter, just until it stops steaming. To keep a skin from forming, place a circle of parchment paper over the filling when setting in the fridge. Refrigerate and let set for at least 3 hours. 
Bake well and prosper!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Trefoil Magic Bars

I've waited over a year to make this recipe. It's true! I had the idea last year during Girls Scout cookie season, but I ate the cookies instead of baking with them. Whoops! These things happen...

So, I had the idea to switch out graham crackers in the Holiday Bars Recipe. I figured that smooshed up Trefoils (aka Shortbread Cookies), would make a lovely base for this recipe.

And that's what I did. I discovered that these cookies can be hard to crush into pieces due to the edges. The best method is to smoosh them while they are still in the plastic bag. Cut one end of the bag and crush while the cookies are slowly leaving the bag.
Look! That's them after being baked. They made a great crust! I'm a genius! Well, very close to one...

Oh, and one more thing it has taken me a while to do: I moved! Again! I'm still in Astoria, but remember how lively I said it was? Well, there was plenty of noise (read: TOO MUCH) from the bar across the street. So, in December I had the chance to move in with a college friend and on a quiet block. It's lovely! And I'm only a couple blocks away from the lively section (for when I want to go out.) :)
Check out my new kitchen!
It's old school and comfy (and not too small like most NYC apartment kitchens are.)

Anyway, baking has been going well in the new place. How's your baking been going?
Trefoil Magic Bars (adapted from Mom's Best Recipes)
1/2 C margarine
1 box of Girl Scout Trefoils, crushed into crumbs
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 6-oz pkg chocolate chips
1 1/2 C shredded coconut
1 C chopped nuts (Erika's Extra: I used walnuts this time around)

In 13 by 9 inch pan, melt margarine. Remove from heat. Sprinkle crumbs over margarine. Pour milk evenly over crumbs. Top with chocolate chips, coconut, and nuts; press down gently. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool and cut into 3 by 1 1/2 inch squares.

Erika's Extra: On one half, sprinkle the nuts and keep the other half nutless (for those who don't like nuts.) (Is nutless even a word?!)
Bake well and prosper!