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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! ūüôā

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 ¬Ĺ cups all-purpose flour

¬ľ 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

¬ĺ 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 ¬ľ 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

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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

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

apple cinnamon bread, cinnamon bread, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

Late fall, I love ending up with a ton of apples in my CSA Рoften more than I can consume during the week with all the other awesome produce included each week.  I wanted to use some of them to make a delicious breakfast bread, with flavors reminiscent of both fall and winter.  I absolutely love the combination of apples and cinnamon, so I decided these would be the primary flavors in this baked good.  The oatmeal gave the bread a heartiness that I also associate with fall and winter.

I diced the apples and sprinkled with the teaspoon of vinegar and a tiny bit of the sugar (after it was measured into the 1/3 cup, so as not to add more sugar).  I let them sit about 5 minutes, similar to how one would prepare an apple pie.  This helps soften the apples a bit before putting them in the oven.

I made the bread with 1/3 cup white sugar + 1 Tbsp brown sugar and it turned out great, but a little on the sweet side for me (though it was perfect for the other people who tried it; so, you may want to stick with the original recipe at first). ¬†I personally like my breakfast breads/muffins on the less sweet side so next time I’ll make with 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp sugar, but, again, this is dependent on how sweet you like your breads. ¬†The bread will keep ~3 days in an air-tight container, and is amazing slightly toasted in the morning! ¬†Enjoy!

Apple Cinnamon Bread

2 carrots, shredded

3-4 medium or small apples, de-cored and diced (ends up to be about 2 cups when diced)

1 tsp apple cider vinegar (white vinegar will also work, but apple cider is preferable)

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 cup oatmeal (old fashioned)

1/3 cup white sugar

1 Tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp each – ground ginger & nutmeg

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup low fat milk

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

1/4 cup canola oil

Preheat oven to 350 and prepare a standard loaf pan (~9 x 5 x 7) with cooking spray.  Add the diced apples to a medium bowl and sprinkle with a small amount (~1 tsp) of the pre-measured sugar and add the vinegar.  Mix well and let sit 5 minutes.

Add all dry ingredients to a large bowl and mix well.  Shred the carrots into a medium bowl and add the wet ingredients.  Mix well.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and gently stir.  Add the apples and mix until well incorporated (but, try not to over mix! Just mix until all ingredients are incorporated).  Add the batter to the prepared loaf pan and bake about 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown and a knife/toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

apple cinnamon bread, cinnamon bread, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

apple cinnamon bread, cinnamon bread, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

apple cinnamon bread, cinnamon bread, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

low fat brownies, decadent brownies, light brownies, brownies cayenne, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

Brownies + wine = the perfect combination for a great night with a great friend (or friends). ¬†For years now it has been a tradition with one of my best friends to have a girls’ night as often as possible, and it always, always includes brownies + wine. ¬†I’ve struggled over the years to find the perfect less-guilt brownie recipe, and have thrown away many, many batches in the process. ¬†I finally succeeded and was so pleased with the results that I had to share! ¬†I love the combination of a little spice and chocolate, so I added the cayenne to give the brownies a little kick. ¬†The spice was very mild, but feel free to omit or add your own flavor kick to the brownies. ¬†(I bet Suzanne will have some good suggestions!) Enjoy!!

Decadent Less-Guilt Brownies

Adapted from Cooking Light

3/4 cup unbleached white flour

3/4 cup white sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cayenne (optional; but adds a great flavor without too much heat!)

3/4 cup chocolate chips, divided

1/4 cup brewed coffee (cold or hot)

1/3 cup non-fat milk (or almond milk)

4 Tbsp butter, melted

2 tsp canola oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350. Combine flour and next 6 ingredients (through cayenne) in a large bowl and  mix well. Add 1/2 cup of chocolate chips, coffee, and milk in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave 1 minute, stirring after 30 seconds. Stir in melted butter, oil, and vanilla. Let cool 2 minutes, then add the eggs. Mix well until well combined.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until smooth & glossy.  Add remaining chocolate chips and stir just a few more times until combined.  Pour batter into a 9-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake 20-25 minutes or until a knife/toothpick comes out clean (be sure not to overcook!). Cool in the pan on a rack and enjoy!

low fat brownies, decadent brownies, light brownies, brownies cayenne, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

low fat brownies, decadent brownies, light brownies, brownies cayenne, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

vegetarian risotto, squash risotto, squash leek risotto, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

This risotto is so simple to make, yet has so many complex flavors that it can easily be served to friends/family at a nice dinner party (they don’t have to know how easy it really is to make!). ¬†I roasted a whole acorn squash, but only used half of it for the recipe – you can certainly add more and it would be even more delicious, or serve the remaining squash as a side for another meal. ¬†The peppers I used were from our local farmer’s market and I didn’t quite catch the name… they were what I thought of as a¬†delightful hybrid of a bell pepper and jalepeno – sweet with just a little heat. ¬†The leek also came from the farmer’s market and was a perfect addition to this risotto. ¬†Remember to wash your leeks well!

To roast the acorn squash, simply wash, cut in half, and scoop out the seeds.  Drizzle the squash with a little olive oil and salt/pepper.  Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes, or until the squash is tender.

vegetarian risotto, squash risotto, squash leek risotto, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

Feel free to play around with the ingredients for this risotto… other great combinations include: asparagus, lemon zest, & mushroom, peppers, corn, & asparagus, etc. ¬†I generally add fresh oregano to the risotto, however I didn’t in this recipe, but definitely do so if you like more complex flavors/earthiness! ¬†I let the dried mushrooms simmer in the veggie broth for about 1/2 hour before using it in the risotto so that the flavor of the mushrooms infused into the broth.

Acorn Squash Risotto

6 cups vegetable broth

1 small package (1 oz) dried mushrooms (I love the mushroom trio from Trader Joe’s)

1/2 acorn squash, roasted (see above) and diced

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 small leek, cleaned & cut into pieces (see above)

2 small bell peppers or sweet peppers, diced

1 1/4 cup risotto/arrabiata rice

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

1/4-1/2 cup parmesan or pecorino romano cheese, grated

dried or fresh oregano, to taste (~2 tsp)

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

Add the package of dried mushrooms to the vegetable broth and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.  Heat a medium to large skillet over medium heat.  Add the olive oil and leeks and stir frequently until the leeks are soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the risotto rice and let cook another 2-3 minutes.  Add the garlic and oregano (if using) and let cook 1 minute, or until fragrant.  Add 1-2 cups of the broth (enough to completely cover the rice but just barely) and stir well.  Immediately cover with a lid and turn the heat to medium-low.  Let simmer about 5-10 minutes, or until all the liquid is evaporated.

Once the liquid has evaporated, add 1 cup liquid to the rice, stir well, and cover with the lid to let simmer.  Continue until all the liquid is gone and the rice is creamy (~20-25 minutes). Add the pepper and roasted squash with the last addition of the broth and stir well.  Once the rice is cooked completely and all liquid is gone, take off the lid and turn off the heat.  Stir in the shredded cheese.  Top with minced parsley or oregano, and enjoy!

vegetarian risotto, squash risotto, squash leek risotto, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebevegetarian risotto, squash risotto, squash leek risotto, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebevegetarian risotto, squash risotto, squash leek risotto, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

whole wheat waffles, multigrain waffles, waffles, banana waffles, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

My first Saturday off work in well over a month deserved a celebratory breakfast! ¬†My waffle iron has been neglected for close to 6 months, so I decided it was time to dust it off and give it a little love. ¬†I’ve tried (and failed) at many waffle recipes over the years, and I’ve finally just about perfected it – at least to my liking. ¬†I’ve found – again, through much trial and error – that the only way to make good waffles is to have a quality waffle iron. ¬†My favorite so far is from Villa Ware (this isn’t my exact model b/c mine is quite old, but how cute would it be to have heart-shaped waffles!!).

I made these waffles with a 1/2 cup of oatmeal, as I like the hearty crunch the oatmeal gives the waffles. ¬†This is definitely unusual in waffles, so, if you prefer, substitute the 1/2 cup oatmeal for your favorite type of flour – whole wheat, cornmeal, brown rice, etc. ¬†I’ve tried making this recipe with all whole wheat flour and they turn out way too dense and dark. ¬†This is a good compromise.

whole wheat waffles, multigrain waffles, waffles, banana waffles, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

I beat the egg white by hand to a soft foam in order to add a light and fluffy texture. ¬†You certainly don’t need to do this, but it is quite easy and really makes a difference in the density of the waffles.

whole wheat waffles, multigrain waffles, waffles, banana waffles, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

I also used a frozen banana (I always have pounds of these in my freezer due to my banana obsession!) that I defrosted and mashed into the batter. ¬†I then sliced a fresh banana into the batter just before I added it to the waffle iron. ¬†You can sub the banana for any fruit you like – frozen or fresh (if using frozen, don’t defrost first). Blueberries or strawberries would be delicious! I hope you enjoy!!

whole wheat waffles, multigrain waffles, waffles, banana waffles, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

Multi-grain Banana Waffles

3/4 cup unbleached white flour

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal

2 Tbsp flax seed

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 Tbsp sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 frozen banana, defrosted & mashed

2 eggs, separated

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 Tbsp canola oil

1 cup LF milk (or almond milk)

1 whole banana, sliced

Add all dry ingredients in a large bowl, mix well, and set aside (flour through ginger).  Separate egg whites into a small bowl; add yolks to a medium bowl.  Add remaining ingredients (through milk) to the egg yolk and stir well.  Beat the egg white by hand until a soft foam forms.  Add wet ingredients to the dry and stir well.  Add the banana slices and stir.  Gently, fold in the egg white until fully incorporated.

Add waffle batter to a preheated waffle iron and cook ~4-5 minutes, until golden brown. Serve with maple syrup or your favorite jam!