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I don’t think we’ve mentioned before where the inspiration for the name of our blog, Milk & Sugar comes from. Throughout our entire lives, and to this day, a very simple ritual we both share is the drinking of tea–traditionally for the Stroebe sisters the tea of choice is Earl Grey or Constant Comment– with milk and sugar.

Nothing but coffee will do in the mornings, but the rest of the day I consume vast quantities of tea. As I’ve gotten more into baking (and hosting tea parties) I’ve started incorporating tea into my treats. This cake is my most recent creation. I don’t actually use the tea in this recipe, but I’ve borrowed that unique flavor combination of orange and clove that will always be Constant Comment to me. Tasty , but not too sweet or overwhelming in flavor, this cake is perfect eaten for dessert, breakfast, or in the afternoon nice cup of tea. Enjoy!

Constant Comment Cake

Ingredients
2 1/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour ( I don’t recommend using whole wheat flour for this recipe)

3/4 cup  sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon  salt

3 eggs
1 cup olive oil
3/4 cup milk or almond milk

2 tablespoons fresh orange zest (from about 2 whole oranges)

2 teaspoons ground cloves

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In one bowl, mix together all dry ingredients. Beat eggs in a separate bowl, add milk and olive oil, then blend with wet ingredients. Stir in zest and cloves.

Pour into a greased pan–any you like, I used a large loaf pan here. Sprinkle the top with a few pinches of sugar, and just a dash of clove.

Bake until golden brown, and when a knife or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack and enjoy with a cup of tea.

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I’m really busy with travel and work these days, so meals have become simple, quick, and in big pots so I can eat leftovers for several meals. So the next few posts will be less recipes and more meal ideas for those times when cooking healthy meals may seem a bit daunting. There’s really no need eat boring or unhealthy foods when you’re really busy (or broke)!

This is another meal that I eat quite often, as it is simple to make, really inexpensive, and delicious so I’m happy to eat the leftovers for days. I have to credit my good friend Caitlin Rueter, who I often stay with in NYC. She makes this all the time and although she  apologizes for the simplicity of the meal, I always enjoy it and crave it again and again.

Did you know that lentils and brown rice cook in the same amount of time? This was a great discovery for me–you can pop both raw (cleaned and picked through) lentils and brown rice into a rice cooker and not have to think about them at all. Meanwhile, cook any sides or toppings you would like and you have several filling, nutritious, and very tasty meals with about as much work as it would take to make a box of mac and cheese.

Caitlin’s lentils, rice and greens

  • Rinse, and pick any stones from about a cup of lentils (I used brown, you can use any you like, French lentils are great, red lentils would result in a more creamy texture)
  • Add lentils and approximately the same amount of raw brown rice (I like long-grain,or Jasmine) to the pot or rice cooker
  • Use the proportions of 2 parts water to 1 part rice/lentil mixture
  • Cook as you would rice
  • Go do whatever you have to do for about half an hour
  • When the rice and lentils are just about done, thinly slice about half an onion, and a little garlic if you like
  • Sautee onion in a few glugs of olive oil, and a couple generous pinches of salt. Add some chile flakes if you like
  • When the onions are translucent and slightly brown, add finely sliced greens or any other vegetable (still damp from rinsing)
  • Sautee until tender-crisp, add more salt to taste, and squeeze a good amount of lemon/lime juice on top
  • Serve vegetables over lentils and rice, with more lemon and your favorite hot sauce

You could use any vegetables you like here–spinach, eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, butternut squash, or just let the onions get a little crispy, add a handful of chopped fresh parsley, chives, or cilantro, and leave it at that. Don’t forget a big squeeze of lemon or lime juice before serving.

For a side dish/dessert, I sliced some ruby red grapefruit onto which I drizzled a little bit of real maple syrup.

Enjoy!

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I apologize for my long absence from the blog! December was a bit crazy for me – I completed my master’s degree, had my last day at work, then the holidays… wow. It’s been a blur, but a great one! 🙂

Suzanne & I made these rolls (adapted from VeganMonologue) for Thanksgiving and they were good, but didn’t come out exactly how I wanted them to.  I decided to try the recipe again with a couple important changes. They turned out a little ugly, but so fluffy and tasty! (not sure why a lot of my baking turns out this way…. ugly but tasty?!)

As the title implies, these rolls are very simple to make, however they are time consuming.  They require the dough to rise two separate times for an hour each time. But, they are well worth the time, if you have it!  The addition of wheat germ to the recipe boosts the nutrient content of these rolls (as compared to regular dinner rolls).  Wheat germ is a great source of many vitamins and minerals, including: thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin E, folate, magnesium, iron, and zinc to name just a few…

Easy (not to be mistaken with quick) Dinner Rolls

Adapted from VeganMonologue

1  packet active dry yeast

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup toasted wheat germ

1/2 Tbsp salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder (optional)

3 Tbs. butter, softened, plus more for brushing dough

3 Tbs. honey

¾ cup warm water (~100-110 degrees)

Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup warm water (~100-110 degrees). Let stand 5-10 minutes, or until bubbles form.

dinner rolls, milk and sugar sisters, wheat germ, milk and sugar

Mix flour, wheat germ, salt, and garlic powder in a large bowl. Stir butter and honey into warm water until both are dissolved.

dinner rolls, milk and sugar sisters, wheat germ, milk and sugar

dinner rolls, milk and sugar sisters, wheat germ, milk and sugar

Add yeast and butter mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well. Continue to mix the dough (easiest with hands and/or KitchenAid mixer) until it forms a smooth, elastic ball (~ 5 minutes of kneading).  If the dough is too sticky, add ¼ cup flour and knead into the dough.  Continue until the dough is smooth and not sticky.

Place dough ball into an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled. (In the winter, I preheat the oven to 100 degrees, turn off the oven, and let the dough rise in the warmed oven.)

dinner rolls, milk and sugar sisters, wheat germ, milk and sugar

Punch down the dough and roll the dough into medium sized balls (think a little bigger than golf balls). Place dough balls in a greased metal pan and cover. Let the dough rise in a warm place for another hour, or until the dough has doubled in size again.

dinner rolls, milk and sugar sisters, wheat germ, milk and sugar

Preheat oven to 375. Brush tops with olive oil and bake 20 minutes, or until tops of rolls are browned.  Enjoy!

dinner rolls, milk and sugar sisters, wheat germ, milk and sugar

dinner rolls, milk and sugar sisters, wheat germ, milk and sugar

Every other week or so I will cook a big pot of beans or lentils, and a big pot of rice, and eat that in various forms for several days in a row. This is one variation I make quite often, and don’t seem to get tired of: black beans, steamed brown rice, steamed kabocha pumpkin and kale, topped with cojita or feta cheese, and a good salsa. It’s like the inside of a veggie burrito.

There are myriad variations and extra additions, including: minced cilantro, espazote or onion, chopped or sliced tomatoes, avocado, toasted pumpkin seeds, roasted tempeh or tofu, sauteed or roasted mushrooms….

Cooking dried beans from scratch is easy, so cheap, and also allows you to control the amount of salt (and to eliminate other preservatives often found in canned beans). Pick through dried beans to make sure there are no small rocks mixed in. Soak over night if you wish, then cook in plenty of water, with a bit of salt, a bay leaf, and a chunk of onion if you like. Set on high until boiling, then turn down to the lowest setting, cover, and allow to cook for an hour or until tender. Then add any seasonings you like ( I like to add some cumin and a couple hot dried peppers). The only tip is to not add anything acidic (such as tomatoes or lime) until after the beans are cooked, as the acid will prevent them from cooking properly.

I usually just steam the rice, but sometimes I will sautée the rice first with a bit of garlic and chile powder in olive oil before steaming.

Enjoy, and let me know if you come up with any of your own variations!

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pumpkin muffins, cranberry pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bead, cranberry bread, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

My favorite 5-year-old gave me his uncarved sugar pumpkin after Halloween with the agreement that I’d make pumpkin bread/muffins with it (one of his favorites!).  Although it took me a few weeks to fulfill the promise, I made sure his pumpkin went to good use with these cranberry pumpkin muffins!  Of course, this would be fabulous in loaf form, but I really just love the portability of the muffin so I’ve stuck with it.pumpkin muffins, cranberry pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bead, cranberry bread, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

I used both Suzanne’s Pumpkin Gingerbread and Alton Brown’s pumpkin bread recipes as inspiration for these muffins.  I decided to make these 100% whole grain with whole wheat flour and oatmeal.  I also went very light on the sugar, as I don’t want the sweetness to overpower the wonderful flavors of the fresh pumpkin and/or cranberries.  I added the low-fat vanilla yogurt to give the muffins a great fluffy texture and to reduce the amount of added oil.

Roasting the pumpkin to make the “puree” (really more like mashed pumpkin) took about 30 mins, but it’s so worth the extra effort!  Enjoy!

pumpkin muffins, cranberry pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bead, cranberry bread, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins

1/2 sugar pumpkin, roasted & “pureed” (equals about 2+ cups)

1 egg + 3 Tbsp flax seed mixed with 1/4 cup water (or, use 2 eggs)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup canola oil (or vegetable oil)

1/2 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 cup oatmeal

1/3 cup white sugar

2 Tbsp brown sugar

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp each, cinnamon & ground ginger

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Cut pumpkin in half, scoop out seeds, and roast at 400 for 30-40 minutes until soft.  Remove from oven and let cool. Once cool, scoop out flesh and mash with a fork or pastry knife until smooth (alternatively, puree with a food processor).

Preheat oven to 375.  Place pumpkin mash/puree into a large bowl and add egg, vanilla, oil, and yogurt.  Stir well.  In a medium bowl, add the remaining ingredients and stir well.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until incorporated (don’t over mix!). The batter will be thicker than you may be used to, but the pumpkin will add moisture while baking.

Spoon into muffin tins or loaf pan.  Bake muffins 20-22 minutes or until golden brown.  Bake loaf 30-40 minutes, or until a knife/toothpick inserted into the loaf comes out clean.

pumpkin muffins, cranberry pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bead, cranberry bread, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

pumpkin muffins, cranberry pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bead, cranberry bread, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

pumpkin muffins, cranberry pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bead, cranberry bread, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

pumpkin muffins, cranberry pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bead, cranberry bread, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

pumpkin muffins, cranberry pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bead, cranberry bread, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

Here are a few things I’ve made recently that would be good additions to any holiday meal: an extra spicy, whole wheat gingerbread, a delicate and moist persimmon cake recipe that doubled as  persimmon chocolate chip muffins, lots of kabocha pumpkin simply roasted in olive oil and salt until super tender and caramelized, and an autumn salad with spinach, red quinoa, pumpkin seeds, apple, and feta.

spicy gingerbread

ingredients

1 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour

1 1/4 ts. baking soda

1 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger

1 tablespoon fresh ginger

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground if desired

1 tablespoon orange rind

3/4 ts. salt

1 egg beaten (or 1 tablespoon ground flax seed mixed in 1/4 cup warm water)*

1/2 c. turbinado sugar + extra for topping

1/2 c. molasses (use a fuller flavored  “robust,” un-sulfered or unfiltered molasses if you can)

1/2 c. boiling water

1/2 c. olive oil

directions

preheat 350 degrees

combine dry ingredients into one bowl. in a separate bowl, mix wet in ingredients. combine, then add boiling water last, stirring until smooth.

cook in a loaf pan, cake pan, or whatever you prefer. Bake until golden, coming away slightly from the sides of a pan, and when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Serve alone, or with lemon curd, lemon or vanilla ice cream, or fresh whipped cream. Also wonderful lightly toasted with coffee or tea and sliced oranges for breakfast.

*note: substituting flax seed for egg will make this recipe vegan. the result is just as delicious, but does not hold together as well

persimmon cake/ persimmon chocolate-chip muffins

adapted from bon apetit

note: this recipe results in a lightly sweet cake or muffin. If you would like a sweeter result, use 1 cup of sugar and/or top with a delicately flavored icing, glaze, or sweetened whipped cream (vanilla, orange zest, and/or nutmeg would be wonderful additions)

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly ground is best)
  • 4 large, very ripe Hachiya persimmons
  • 1/3 cup yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 3/4 cup raw sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • chocolate chips (optional)
  • chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

directions

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour muffin tin or loaf pan. Tap out excess flour.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Set aside.
  • Scoop persimmon flesh from skins into a blender. Purée until smooth. Mix with wet ingredients. Add chocolate chips or nuts if using
  • Pour batter into prepared loaf pan, cake pan, or muffin tins.  Bake until a tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour.
  • Let bread cool in pan for 20 minutes. Unmold and let cool completely on a wire rack.

caramelized kabocha pumpkin

ingredients

  • kabocha pumpkin
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt

directions

preheat oven to 400 degrees

cut pumpkin in half, scoop out seeds and cut in thin slices or small chunks (more cuts means more caramelized edges!) drizzle generously with olive oil (about 1/4 cup for an entire small pumpkin) and salt. toss to coat.

roast until very tender and edges are lightly browned and caramelized, about 20 minutes

optional additions: sliced onions, fresh black pepper, hot chile flakes, a couple teaspoons of maple syrup and/or french mustard drizzled over squash for the last 5 minutes

Autumn Salad

makes one large salad

ingredients:

6 cups baby spinach, or mixed greens

one firm, sweet/tart apple, like a Pink Lady or Gala, cored and sliced thinly

pumpkin or squash seeds, roasted with olive oil and salt at 400 degrees until golden brown

1/2 cup crumbled feta (or ricotta salata, or fresh goat cheese)

1 cup leftover quinoa (any variety, I like red the best for salads)

your favorite vinaigrette or mix together 1 tablespoon french mustard, 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 3 tablespoons of your favorite vinegar, black pepper, and a tiny pinch of sugar until emulsified

Toss greens with most of the dressing, leaving a couple tablespoons to drizzle on top. Arrange quinoa, apple slices, seeds, and cheese on top on dressed greens. Drizzle with remaining  dressing and serve.

quinoa salad, mexican style quinoa salad, mexi cali quinoa, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

A good friend of mine recently introduced me to the wonders of quinoa salad.  I’m not really sure why, but quinoa has always been something I have hesitated to cook.  I love it whenever it is prepared for me, but I’ve always resisted cooking it myself.  I was coached as to how to make the most flavorful and healthful quinoa salad, and, I must say, my first attempt was a success!!! I ended up making this as a “mexi-cali” style salad because these were the ingredients I had on hand – avocado, cilantro, green onions, beans, etc.  The flavors mixed with the quinoa turned out to be just right, but definitely play around with the main ingredients as you like!

I first cooked the quinoa according to directions (I believe it’s 1 cup quinoa + 2 cups water; simmer until all the water has evaporated – super easy!). The black beans were drained, rinsed, and cooked on the stove top briefly to incorporate the spices and heat up the beans. The salad dressing was made while the beans were cooking and everything was tossed together at the end. So easy and so delicious!

Mexi-Cali Quinoa Salad

1 cup cooked quinoa

1/2 ripe avocado, diced

1 whole tomato, diced

1 large handful cilantro, minced

3-4 large kale leaves, de-stemmed and chopped  (spinach would be a great substitute)

3 green onion stalks, chopped

1 Tbsp cheddar cheese, shredded (optional; omit for vegan cooking)

1/2 red or yellow bell pepper (or both!), finely chopped

1 can black beans, drained & rinsed

1/2 tsp cayenne (1/4 tsp if you like foods less spicy)

1/2 tsp each cumin & garlic powder

Dressing 

~2 Tbsp cilantro, finely minced

1/4 avocado, mashed

2 Tbsp each white vinegar & apple cider vinegar

1 tsp honey

salt/pepper to taste (~1/2 tsp each)

1 Tbsp olive oil

Add the quinoa equally to two serving bowls and set aside. Add the next 7 ingredients (through bell pepper) into a large bowl and set aside.  Place drained & rinsed black beans in a sauce pot and add remaining ingredients.  Stir well and cook ~5 minutes over medium heat.  Remove from heat and set aside.

To make the dressing, add the cilantro, mashed avocado, honey, and vinegars to a small bowl. Stir very well until creamy.  Add salt/pepper to taste and stir in the olive oil.

Add the black beans and dressing to the veggie mix in the large bowl and stir until well incorporated.  Spoon a generous portion (~1 cup) on top of each bowl of quinoa and enjoy!  Serve with a slice of lime, if desired.

quinoa salad, mexican style quinoa salad, mexi cali quinoa, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

quinoa salad, mexican style quinoa salad, mexi cali quinoa, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

quinoa salad, mexican style quinoa salad, mexi cali quinoa, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe