The Hungry Musician

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Baked Corn Dog Bites (Plus: Bonus Recipe!)

Back-to-school season. It’s a time for new backpacks, pencils, and books, and a time for that new jean jacket that you wear on the first day “because it’s Fall,” but in reality, is pretty weather-inappropriate. It’s also the return of lunch-packing season. 

I have a love/hate relationship with packing my own lunches. On one hand, I love knowing it’s healthier and that the portions are better. And, I feel way more organized when I have my own food packed away. But on the other hand, I just really stink at creativity and time management. I think to myself, “What if I actually looked forward to something new in my lunch? What if it wasn’t always some variation on greens + protein + beans + grains + avocado + hotsauce? WHAT IF?! The struggle is real completely first-world.


That’s why this month’s Recipe ReDux theme made me so incredibly happy. “Bars and Bites for Brown Bags.” Um, YES please. I need allll the inspiration. Further evidence: I couldn’t even decide what to do for this month’s theme until yesterday. Literally, it took me forever to come up with an idea. But, after a long process of coming up with mediocre ideas that would either melt, spoil, or be thrown out by a child promptly upon discovery in a lunch box, I found my inspiration on Pinterest. Corn dogs. *Cue the excited screaming of my inner child at an amusement park*


Unfortunately, they’re usually fried and unhealthy, and don’t usually fit into a lunch box. FORTUNATELY, these are baked, and do fit into a lunch box. While I’d love to claim total genius for this recipe itself, I do have to give a lot of the credit to Martha Stewart. I did modify her recipe, but don’t ever tell her that. I feel like modifying a Martha recipe is sort of equivalent to saying one of Oprah’s favorite things was actually your favorite thing first. It wasn’t. You’re wrong.


But, I digress. These really are easy and they’re super delicious. Your picky eater(s) will love them, and they’re free of nitrates, dairy, and all those unknown nasties that like to find their way into hot dogs. I also snuck in some hemp seeds for a little boost, and used the leftover batter to make AWESOME cornbread croutons, which I have also included in a little extra recipe for you at the bottom. Win, win? I think so.


Baked Corn Dog Bites
Yields 16
Kid (and adult) friendly corn dog bites that you can feel good about packing in your lunch!
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Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
15 min
Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
15 min
  1. 4 organic, nitrate-free, pre-cooked chicken sausages (I used Aidell's apple chicken)
  2. 16 lollipop sticks or small popsicle sticks
  3. 1 and 1/3 cup whole wheat flour (plus extra for coating sausage)
  4. 2/3 cup organic cornmeal
  5. 2 tsp. baking powder
  6. 2 tbs. hemp hearts
  7. salt and pepper
  8. 1 egg + 2 egg whites
  9. 3 tsp. honey
  10. 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  11. 1 and 1/2 cups unsweetened, plain almond milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  2. Cut each chicken sausage into four equal pieces.
  3. Skewer each piece of sausage onto a lollipop stick, meat side facing down (not through the casing). For the end pieces, make sure you skewer through the round end, so that the flat side is facing up.
  4. Begin batter by mixing flour, cornmeal, hemp hearts, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Add salt and pepper to your liking.
  5. In a separate small bowl, whisk egg/egg whites, honey, oil, and almond milk.
  6. Add wet ingredients to dry, and stir just until combined.
  7. Coat each piece of sausage with a light layer of flour, and then dip into the batter. Use a spoon to help you, so that the sausage doesn't fall off the stick. Take off extra batter, but make sure that each piece is fully coated.
  8. Assemble flat side down with sticks pointing up onto a baking sheet greased with coconut oil spray (or lined with parchment paper). Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve with organic, all-natural ketchup and dijon mustard for dipping.
  1. After about 5 minutes of baking, a lot of batter will have settled at the bottom of each corn dog, making it sort of a bell-shape. If you're not a fan of this look, carefully lift each corn dog - the top half should stay covered, and the bottom will lift out of the cooked batter - and re-coat the bottoms and any empty spaces with batter. Remove the cooked bits of batter from the pan, and replace each corn dog. Continue to bake for about 5-10 minutes.
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Black Truffle Rosemary Cornbread Croutons
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  1. Leftover corn dog batter
  2. 1 tsp. Black truffle olive oil
  3. 3 tsp. Extra virgin olive oil
  4. Dried rosemary, salt, and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  2. Pour remaining corn dog batter into a loaf pan.
  3. Bake about 15-20 minutes, or until set.
  4. Flip bread onto a cutting board and cut into small-medium cubes.
  5. Toss cubes with oils, rosemary, salt, and pepper.
  6. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake, flipping every 10 minutes or so, until browned and crispy.
  7. Remove from oven, and let croutons sit to cool and dry out before serving.

Blueberry Almond Bread

“By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by National Dairy Council and the Quaker Oats Center of Excellence and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.”


I never quite understood the term “quick bread.”


I mean, I get it logically. You don’t have to add yeast. In theory, a good banana bread should take less time to complete than dough takes to rise. But if I may define my own idea of “quick bread” for you, it would be bread that’s prepared and out of the oven in less than a half hour. Or even more ideally, bread that appears out of thin air. If this whole music career thing gets tough (haha… if) I’m going to invent a device that dispenses fresh, warm, delicious loaves of bread instantly at the push of a button. “Carb-O-Matic.” Patent pending. 


I already have a few recipes for “quick” breads in my arsenal, including this one, this one, and possibly this one (I think scones count). In my opinion, though, you can never really have too many – despite my impatience, quick breads really are quite convenient to put together. As a result, they’re great for brunches, gift-giving, and pot lucks, and can often be repurposed as a muffin recipe, and won’t take a big chunk out of your day. That was a HUGE requirement for me when creating this recipe in particular. If you follow me on Instagram, you may know that the past week and a half has been a bit of a crazy roller coaster ride. I packed up one apartment and moved into another, changed cities, and then packed up a day later to go away AGAIN with my family. I’m now enjoying some well-deserved R&R (aside from the placement exam and audition prep for graduate school), but before I left, I promised that I’d spend my last night at home whipping up a nice recipe for this month’s Recipe Redux challenge, hosted by Quaker Oats and the National Dairy Council.

This bread is delicious fresh, as is, or toasted, but I would recommend storing it in the refrigerator if you do not plan to eat it all immediately as it is very moist. Enjoy!


Blueberry Almond Bread
Serves 12
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr
  1. 2 cups Quaker oats
  2. 2 tsp. baking powder
  3. 1/8 tsp kosher salt
  4. 2 eggs
  5. 1/2 tsp almond extract
  6. 5 oz. plain Greek yogurt
  7. 1/3 cup honey
  8. 1/4 cup sparkling water
  9. 1 cup fresh blueberries
  10. 1-2 tbs slivered almonds (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  2. In a food processor, grind oats into a very fine flour. Sift flour into a medium bowl.
  3. Add baking powder and salt, and mix to combine.
  4. Whisk eggs and yogurt together in a separate mixing bowl until smooth, then whisk in almond extract, honey, and sparkling water.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir gently to combine - do not overmix.
  6. Gently fold in blueberries, and transfer batter to a greased loaf pan. If desired, sprinkle a few extra blueberries and some slivered almonds onto the batter before baking.
  7. Bake about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  1. For a sightly sweeter bread, increase the amount of honey.

Grilled Pineapple Mojito Sorbet

There are MANY dining establishments I will miss after I officially move out of Philadelphia on Thursday. My go-to food trucks that have been there for years will suddenly no longer be up the street, and my favorite places downtown will now be down in a different town. Also, did I mention that they are FINALLY opening a Chipotle down the block from my old place? I knew they’d try to pull that stunt AFTER I left… Now, I know that I’m much better off in my New York neighborhood (it’s really unbeatably awesome) and it’ll be super easy to become a regular at new and interesting places. However, one Philly location will be truly difficult to replace, and that is a magical place called Cuba Libre.


At this magical place called Cuba Libre, there exists a wondrous invention known as “All You Can Eat Brunch,” where you eat cornmeal pancakes with mango butter, vanilla custard french toast with plantains, crab cakes benedict, and then some. A LOT of some. I have frequented CL’s brunch several times, and left each time without a drop of shame. Not even that one time, when I had to excuse myself mid-meal to go partially unzip the back of the dress I was wearing. I mean, you couldn’t tell, because I was wearing a cardigan. I also then continued to eat, against all better judgment. But yup, not even that time.


There was another visit to Cuba Libre though, that I recall may have been a bit classier. That time, I also happened to order a grilled pineapple mojito. Clearly, that visit ended better for me because I was well hydrated… With rum. Right? No? That’s not how that works? 




Anyway, while I was in Houston and looking for recipes to add to my queue, I thought of this. An homage to the great Cuba Libre grilled pineapple mojito, in sorbet form. Coincidentally, right after I returned from Texas, I learned that the Recipe Redux theme for July would be cooking with liquor. Uhh, PERFECT. I briefly thought about doing a beer braised meat dish, or maybe a pulled pork sandwich with a boozy barbecue sauce. Which I might still do, because that’s making my mouth water right now. But as my mind kept wandering back to that perfect mojito, I just couldn’t bear to part with my original idea.


So, here we are. I told you that I would be finding more ways to incorporate grilled fruit into my posts this summer, and I always keep my promises. My recipe includes just enough rum to give the recipe “punch,” but not enough to make you silly (or overpower the delicious, fresh flavors). But, if you’re looking to get a little silly at your next BBQ, you can add another ounce or two (or three) of rum, and make this palate cleanser just a bit boozier. But, whatever you do, don’t skip grilling the pineapple. The fruit’s own juices will caramelize without any added sugar, making the fruit super sweet. So worth it.


Grilled Pineapple Mojito Sorbet
Serves 10
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  1. 2 pineapples
  2. 2 cups plain sparkling water
  3. 4 oz. silver rum
  4. Juice of 1 lime
  5. 2/3 cup mint leaves (about 4 tbs. very finely chopped)
  6. Honey to taste (~3-4 tbs, optional)
  1. Slice the pineapple. Begin by slicing off the leaves and the bottom of the fruit. Remove all skin and hard brown bits with a knife.
  2. When left only with yellow flesh, cut vertically around the core to create four pieces. Cut close to the core (but not into it) to get as much flesh as possible.
  3. Slice the four pieces into thick spears, and continue with the next pineapple.
  4. Place all spears on a medium-low heat grill, and keep the spears on each side for about 4-5 minutes, or until grill marks form.
  5. Transfer grilled spears to a blender. Let cool, then purée until smooth.
  6. Transfer the purée to a large mixing bowl and chill until colder than room temperature.
  7. Add sparkling water, rum, lime juice, chopped mint, and honey. Stir lightly to combine.
  8. Transfer mixture to an ice cream maker and follow directions.
No ice cream maker? Try this method!



Chipotle Empanadas with Grilled Peach Salsa Verde

Well, hey there. Long time no blog.

I hope you’ll forgive my absence. It has been THE craziest two weeks since returning from a month in Texas, but at least it was worth it, since I just took over the lease for my New York City apartment! One of its many amazing attributes is a redone kitchen with LOADS of counter space, and new, FULL SIZED appliances. Such a find is only slightly unheard of, and I’m more than slightly in love. I’ve been told that it’s not possible or legal to marry a kitchen, but together, I truly believe our love can conquer.

Too much PDA?

Now, BEFORE meeting the kitchen of my dreams, I spent the month of June making music day in and day out. I mean that literally, because I was in rehearsal or practicing every day from when I woke up until I climbed into bed. And I also mean “climbing” literally, because my bed frame was set too high, so getting into bed required climbing onto my desk first. (Short people problems…) In my limited spare time, I was feeding my foodie soul, and feeding it well. Sure, my usual meals consisted of salad or oatmeal in the dining hall (which did, if you’re wondering, get old horribly quickly), but the rest of my meals resulted from convincing my oh-so-patient car-owning friend to drive me to some the best food joints in Houston.

I miss being at the festival and making great music with friends (I also miss the Mexican/Tex-Mex food in Houston – it’s kiiiind of the best – I’m talking to you, Torchy’s Tacos), but it’s quite nice to be back where the temperature is consistently below 100˚F. I REALLY have a whole new appreciation for summer on the East Coast. I got to relive the Texan weather a bit last week while running all around NYC in humid 95˚ heat, but otherwise, it’s quite luxurious to be able to walk from place to place outdoors without fear of melting. It’s also great to be back in the kitchen – not having one readily available is the slowest form of torture for me.

So, naturally, I filled the void by dreaming up a boatload of new summer recipes just for you. And this is the first of (hopefully) many.


I haven’t had many empanadas in my lifetime, but for some reason, the idea of dipping a flaky, doughy pocket of seasoned beef into a summery, fruity salsa just seemed very appealing the other day. Also, grilled fruit is one of my favorite summer foods, and I can guarantee you that this won’t be my only recipe this summer featuring it.


This recipe is probably one of my absolute favorites to date, and I will definitely be bringing it back. My parents and brother are my best taste testers (and also the most honest), so in accordance with their approval, I’m sure this would be a hit as an appetizer at the big, fancy dinner parties that I never have. But who knows, living in New York with a dining table that can sit six (generously) might change things for me. 


This recipe is labor intensive, I cannot lie. But, the fruits of your labor will be well worth it at the end, I promise! And to me, food just tastes better when a little sweat went into it. Not literally.

Chipotle Empanadas with Grilled Peach Salsa Verde
Yields 12
Baked, not fried, with a perfect summer salsa for dipping.
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  1. 2.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  2. 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  3. 1 and 1/4 tsp. salt
  4. 1/2 cup + 1 tbs. cold water
  5. 1/3 cup + 4 tbs. olive oil
  6. 1 egg, beaten (to brush onto pastries before cooking)
  1. 1.5 lbs organic ground sirloin
  2. 1 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  3. 1/2 white onion, finely chopped
  4. 1/2-1 tsp. dried chipotle powder (depending on spice preference)
  5. juice of 1/2 lime
  1. 2 yellow peaches
  2. 1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
  3. 1 lb. tomatillos
  4. 1/4 white onion
  5. 1/4 cup cilantro
  6. salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 450˚F.
  1. In a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Alternate adding cold water and olive oil slowly, pulsing the food processor until a solid ball of dough is formed.
  3. Chill dough just until firm and ready to use, about 30 minutes-1 hour.
  1. While dough is chilling, brown the beef in a pan over low-medium heat. Break up the meat with a spoon until it's crumbly and browned on all sides.
  2. Add the chopped onion and cover until the onions are translucent.
  3. Add the lime, cilantro, and chipotle powder and stir to combine.
  4. Remove from heat.
  1. Separate chilled dough into 12 equal balls. Roll out each ball of dough into a thin, flat circle about 4.5 inches in diameter. Fill each circle with 2-4 tablespoons of filling. Fold dough over the filling to create a half moon. Pinch the edges with a fork, or fold over the dough from the corner to create a "twisted" edge.
  2. Arrange on a baking sheet and brush with egg wash. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until golden.
  1. Quarter both peaches and remove the pits.
  2. Place peach slices onto a hot grill or grill pan, and cook until soft and the skins are easily peeled off. Remove from heat. Once cool enough to touch, remove the skins.
  3. Remove the tomatillos from their husks and rinse, and then cut each into quarters.
  4. Sauté the tomatillos until they become very soft and form a "jam." Let cool.
  5. In a food processor, combine grilled peaches, tomatillos, and remaining ingredients (except salt and pepper). Pulse until the salsa is at your desired consistency.
  1. For smaller, snack-sized empanadas, create smaller balls of dough and use less filling per each.
  2. For a spicier salsa, leave the ribs of the jalapeño pepper intact.
Adapted from Cooking Light
Adapted from Cooking Light
Then, do this with the leftover salsa.


Whole Wheat Herbed Gnocchi with Green Tea Hemp Pesto

Happy Hump-Day everyone! As I write, I am back home on my sunny porch in New York enjoying a relaxing few days with my family. It has been quite the whirlwind GRADUATING and saying goodbye to my close friends as I prepare to start my transition from Philly to NYC, and next Friday, I head to Houston to participate in an month-long orchestra festival. And in a sort of related incident, I finally put a Manhattan School of Music sticker on my instrument case, so things are getting kind of real. It is beyond immensely exciting, but also a leeeeeetle bit terrifying. It’s all part of the bigger picture as this new chapter begins, so I’m trying to get in as much time as I can with all the people I will miss over the next month!


The good news about having all this time to myself (and a nice, homey kitchen with natural light AND OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHY SPACE!) is that I can concoct enough recipe posts to hold you all over while I’m in Texas without a kitchen. This recipe is just one of several I’ve been developing, and I’m kind of stoked, because today’s post also has a big “first” attached to it: This is my first contribution to The Recipe Re-Dux, a wonderful healthy food blogging network and monthly challenge that was brought to my attention a few months ago. I applied to be a part of it, and was offered membership starting this month. YAY! I was also excited when I heard that this month’s theme (there is a special theme or ingredient for each month’s challenge) was cooking with tea. And I LOVE TEA. 


I have cooked with tea before, and in fact I have a post on the blog already with a tasty recipe for Chocolate Chai Mousse Cake, in which I also discuss my love affair with tea. But aside from that, my experience with using tea outside of my addiction to drinking it is minimal. At first, I thought maybe I’d create some kind of popsicle, or that a mixed beverage of sorts might be a good idea for the challenge. But, they don’t call this a “challenge” for nothing, so I wanted to explore and venture into the unknown world of savory tea dishes. One of the first ideas that came to me was a green tea pesto. I had never heard of or tasted such a thing, although upon Googling, I found that it had been done before (someday, I’ll get to be a bit more original). I was a little skimpy on the amount of tea I put into the pesto, but for a reason – because I also cooked the homemade gnocchi in green tea. Be. Still. My. Heart.


I was admittedly really nervous being so adventurous in the kitchen for this recipe – gnocchi can be a temperamental dish that requires both patience and lots of manual labor, and since I swapped out all-purpose flour in favor of whole wheat pastry flour, I was really unsure of how the texture would come out. I was half expecting the gnocchi to fall apart in the water, and that I would end up wasting pounds of unusable gnocchi dough. But miraculously, they came out deliciously delicate and fluffy. They could have had a bit more bite, but I personally really liked the lightness. Plus, boiling the dumplings in green tea gave them even more of an herbal punch.


Whole Wheat Herbed Gnocchi with Green Tea Hemp Pesto
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  1. 2 lbs. (about 3-4 large) yukon gold potatoes
  2. 1/3 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
  3. 1.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour, plus some for handling the dough (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
  4. 1-2 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
  5. 1 egg
  6. 1.5 tsp. salt
  7. 7-10 sachets of green tea, paper tabs cut off + water for boiling
  1. 2 cups fresh basil
  2. 1/4 cup raw pine nuts
  3. 3 tbs. hemp hearts
  4. 1-2 tablespoons green tea leaves, ground with a mortal and pestle or spice grinder
  5. 1/4 cup olive oil
  6. 1 clove garlic, minced
  7. 2 tbs. freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
  8. 1-2 tsp. lemon juice
  9. salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Prepare potatoes by washing, peeling thoroughly, cutting into chunks, and making sure to remove any eyes.
  2. Place potatoes into a large pot, and add water to cover. Bring water and potatoes to a boil, then reduce heat slightly just to keep the water rolling. Boil potatoes until very soft, about 20 minutes. Drain, and run through a food processor or mash thoroughly until smooth while still warm. Be sure that there are little to no chunks of potato remaining. Let cool – I stuck the bowl of mashed potatoes in the fridge and prepared the pesto while waiting.
  3. Add the cheese, flour, egg, thyme, and salt to the potatoes. Mix with your hands until the batter forms a sticky, pliable dough.
  4. Roll out dough into balls about the size of your palm.
  5. On a floured surface, roll out dough into snakes about 1/2 inch wide.
  6. Cut dough into small rectangles, and roll each dumpling onto the back of a fork (or a gnocchi board, if you have one) to create ridges.
  7. Bring about 5 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan. Once boiling, add 6 sachets of green tea. Let steep for 2-3 minutes and remove.
  8. Add the gnocchi in small batches to ensure that they do not stick together, and remove the dumplings as they begin to float. (Tips: Test the cooking time out on two or three of your gnocchi dumplings first until you get a consistency that you like. Generally, they should be ready when or soon after they float to the top of the water. A handy tool for this is a frying strainer!) If the boiling water starts to run low, add in a cup at a time to replenish, but be sure to also steep an extra bag of green tea for 2-3 minutes for each cup of water you add.
  1. Combine ingredients (except oil and lemon juice) in a food processor and pulse until blended thoroughly, scraping down the sides of the food processor as needed. Blend with the oil and lemon juice, and serve.
  2. Enjoy!