Pumpkin-Swirl Brownies


Pumpkin-Swirl Brownies
Source: Smitten Kitchen

Pumpkin and chocolate…not my favorite combination, but an interesting one.

Makes about: One 9×9’’ pan
Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 40-45 minutes

8 tbsp unsalted butter
6 oz bittersweet chocolate
2 cups flour
1/8 tsp cayenne
½ tsp salt
1.5 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups solid-pack pumpkin
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
½ cup hazelnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan or dish.
2. Melt chocolate and butter together. Set aside.
3. Beat sugar, eggs, vanilla together. Whisk in flour, cayenne, salt.
4. Pour half of batter into separate bowl.
5. In one half of batter, stir in chocolate.
6. IN other half of butter, stir in pumpkin, oil, cinnamon, nutmeg.
7. Pour in half of chocolate mixture to the pan. Top with half of pumpkin. Repeat. Swirl.
8. Bake 40-45 mins.
9. Enjoy!

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Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Source: Baking Illustrated

Makes about: 18 large cookies
Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 15-18 minutes

2 cups+2tbsp flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla
1-1.5 tsp chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Mix together butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla.

3. Mix in flour, baking soda, salt.

4. Mix in chocolate chips.

5. Scoop onto prepared pan

6. Bake 15-18 minutes.

7. Enjoy!

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Simple Pear Tart

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Simple Pear Tart

Source: Tartine and Smitten Kitchen

This delicious and simple tart is based on Alice Waters’ apple tart recipe. I used the Tartine crust since I had some on hand.

Makes about: 1 tart

Prep time: 10 minutes

Bake time: ~45 minutes


1/3 recipe of Tartine’s Flaky Crust (can use another crust)

2 tbsp butter

3 tbsp sugar for sprinkling on top

4 large pears


1. Preheat oven to 400F.

2. Make crust, roll to 14’’ across, place in 9’’ tart pan.

3. Peel and slice pears thinly. Place in crust.

4. Fold crust over pears.

5. Brush with melted butter.

6. Sprinkle with sugar.

7. Bake ~45 minutes or until top is golden brown.

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Healthier Blueberry Cake


Healthier Blueberry Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes about: 8×8 pan
Prep time:5 mins
Bake time: 30-35 mins

This blueberry cake is light and fluffy, just like the original Bluebery Boy Bait from Smitten Kitchen—and you can’t stop eating it! This is a smaller recipe with vegetable oil instead of butter and less sugar and also has some whole wheat flour.

½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup all-purpose flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ cup canola oil
½ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
½ cup soy milk (or regular milk)
¼ cup blueberries+1.5 tsp flour

¼ cup blueberries
2 tbsp sugar (I used brown)
¼ tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Whisk together eggs, oil.
3. Whisk in brown sugar
4. Mix in eggs
5. Mix in flour, baking soda, salt.
6. Mix blueberries with flour. Mix into batter.
7. Pour batter into prepared pan.
8. Sprinkle blueberries over top.
9. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar mix over the top.
10. Bake 30-35 minutes or until knife inserted into center comes out clean.



5-ish Ingredient Bar

5-ingredient bars 1

Out of all the bars I’ve made recently, this is the best one. I put the crisp rice cereal as optional because it works either way. When you don’t include the rice cereal, the bar is quite dense. If you add the rice cereal, there’s a nice crunchiness and a lightness that’s added.
Pros: Sticks together well. Nice balance of flavors.
Cons: Still pretty sweet. And not sure how much I like dates.

5-ish Ingredient Bar
Source: Minimalist Baker

Makes about: one 8×8 pan
Prep time: 10 minutes+30 min chill

1 cup dates, packed
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup almond butter
1 cup roasted almonds, chopped
1 1/2 cup oats
(1 cup crisp rice cereal)–optional. include for a lighter, crunchier bar

1. Chop dates into small pieces (or use a food processor)
2. Mix together maple syrup and almond butter. May need to use microwave to facilitate this.
3. Mix together maple syrup, almond butter, dates, almonds, oats, and rice cereal (if using).
4. Pour into prepared and lined 8×8 pan and evenly distribute.
5. Let chill for 20-30 minutes,
6. Cut into bars.

top: date bar from ProBar's founder middle: baked oat bar bottom: this bar
top: date bar from ProBar’s founder
middle: baked oat bar
bottom: this bar



ProBar Founder’s Bar of Dates

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ProBars are really good, but they are really expensive. No one’s posted a good copycat version, but there’s this one from the company’s founder. It’s good if you like dates…it’s basically a large block of dates with stuff studded inside. I’m not that big of a date fan, so I’m probably not making these again.
Pros: It sticks together really well.
Cons: It’s overpoweringly sweet and only tastes like dates.

ProBar Founder’s Bar of Dates
Source: BullickFood

Makes about: 16 little bars (1” x 4”)
Prep time: 10 minutes mixing, 20 minutes chilling

12oz chopped dates
1.5 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon (instead of the allspice, cardamom)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used almonds)
1/2 cup rolled oats or granola
1/2 cup chopped dried fruit (I added more almonds, because it seemed excessive to have dried fruit embedded in more dried fruit)

1) Mix together dates, maple syrup, and vanilla. It will be a large sticky mass.
2) Stir in salt, cinnamon
3) Stir in nuts, oats, and dried fruit (if using).
4) Scrape the mass onto a piece of wax paper or silicone mat. Cover with another piece of wax paper and roll to about 1/2” thickness.
5) Cut into bars

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date bar 4

Baked Oatmeal Bar

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baked oat bar 2

These are basically like my breakfast…just baked. John thinks they taste like pumpernickel bread, although they bear no resemblance to the real thing.
Pros: They hold together. They are not very rich or sweet.
Cons: The texture is a little off–a bit mushy inside. They are also a bit weirdly salty, so I’d decrease the salt next time.

Baked Oatmeal Bar
Source: Kath Eats Real Food

Makes about: one 8×8 pan
Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 40 minutes baking

1/2 cup oats
1 cup muesli (Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup flax seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup almond milk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

Special equipment

1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. Prepare 9×9 pan by lining with parchment paper
3. Mix together almond milk, vanilla, eggs
4. Mix in oats, muesli, walnuts, chocolate chips, flax seeds, cinnamon, salt.
5. Pour into prepared pan.
6. Bake 40 minutes
7. Let cool, then cut into bars.


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Nutty Bars

In search of the perfect bar…
We went on a 50 miles ride up Mount Tam and ate 5 different types of bars during that ride: 2 Clif bars, 1 Bonk Breaker, 1 Picky Bar, 1 Pro Bar, and 1 Kate’s Tram Bar. Hunger is an excellent sauce, so they were all quite delicious. We especially enjoyed the ProBar and the Tram Bar (maybe because they were more like real food).
Packaged bars definitely have a place in long rides, but these bars are pretty expensive as regular snacks (especially since eating a Luna Bar a day does add up). I wanted to see whether I could find a suitable replacement bar. I’ve tried a few interesting recipes off of Google, with interesting results…the next few posts are some of the attempts I’ve made.



Nutty Bars (aka Homemade Clif Bars)
Source: Power Hungry

John thinks these taste like Nutty Bars. I omitted the dried fruits and nuts, mainly because I didn’t feel like putting them in. The resulting bar was very sweet and heavily peanut flavored. Basically–a more portable way to transport peanut butter.
Pros: It actually held together. There’s a nice mix of textures.
Cons: Very sweet. When it gets warm, they starts to melt and fall apart (all those unsaturated fats in the peanut butter). They’re also kind of greasy.

Makes about: an 8×8 pan
Prep time: 5 minutes
Bake time: No baking

1 1/4 cup crispy brown rice cereal (from Whole Foods)
1 cup rolled oats
2 tbsp ground flax seed
1/3 cup agave syrup
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
(1/4 cup dried fruit)
(1/4 cup chopped nuts)

Special equipment
a bowl and 8×8 pan

1. Mix together brown rice cereal, oats, flax seeds, and fruit/nuts if using.
2. Melt together syrup and peanut butter. Mix in vanilla.
3. Pour peanut butter/syrup mixture over the dry mixture.
4. Mix till combined.
5. Press into baking pan lined with waxed paper.
6. Refrigerate. Then cut.


Maple Almond Butter

We eat almond butter with muesli every morning, but it’s quite expensive at the store, especially given how much we consume every week. This is a delicious and easy alternative.


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Maple Almond Butter
Source: Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

Makes about: 1 cup
Prep time: 20 mins baking, 10 mins cooling, 5-10 mins grinding

1 1/2 cup raw almonds
3 tbsp maple syrup
pinch salt

Special equipment
Food processor


1. Preheat oven to 325F.
2. Mix together almonds and maple syrup. Place on silicone baking sheet.
3. Roast almonds for 20 minutes.
4. Let cool for 10 minutes, then place into food processor.
5. Grind until almond butter forms (for me, it took 3 minutes).