The Hungry Musician

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Salted Caramel Peanut Butter Truffles

So, I know I just gave you a dessert recipe. I know.

I also know that I outlined my unpopular opinion on Valentine’s Day in last week’s post, and now it would appear that I have made you heart-shaped chocolates. But I feel like that’s OK, because Valentine’s Day is over. I’m a weird kind of stubborn sometimes… Also, the only ice cube trays I own are those heart-shaped ones from Ikea. So, there’s that. But you should totally make these next time you have a date over, because they’ll probably fall for you immediately (if they haven’t already).


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And I know you may be a bit chocolate-d out from all the chocolate you may have consumed since last Saturday. But for me, there is no such thing as “chocolate-d out,” and I don’t think I’m alone. So I am honoring this month’s Recipe Redux theme, “Favorite Chocolate Matches,” with a super easy, delicious truffle recipe.

Amidst this extremely busy (and freezing) week, simple was the best way to go. I had been planning some kind of cocoa chili, but then earlier this week I made cinnamon chili instead, because I was 100% hungry and only about 60% adventurous. Such is the life of a grad student. 

 

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And so this morning, on the morning OF this post’s due date, I still did not have a recipe. Oops. Although, in the true nature of the challenge (which was to find a way to use leftover chocolate), I used two other leftover household staples to make these little nuggets of heaven – peanut butter and dates. So many of my favorite candies boast the peanut butter-caramel-chocolate trifecta, and dates are a perfect healthy way to simulate the texture and flavor of caramel. 

 

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I made these before heading off to see a student, popped them in the freezer, and they were perfectly set by the time I got home. Then, I had just enough time to pop them out of the mold and photograph them before I went out to rehearsal. If that’s not proof that these are low-maintenance, I don’t know what is. And I’m kind of high-maintenance. But these honestly taste super fancy, so nobody will have to know your secret ;)

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Salted Caramel Peanut Butter Truffles
Yields 12
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Ingredients
  1. 3/4 cup pitted dates, mashed
  2. Sea salt, to taste
  3. 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips, melted
  4. 3 tbs. peanut butter of choice
Instructions
  1. Combine mashed dates with a pinch or two of sea salt. Combine and set aside.*
  2. Spoon a small amount of dark chocolate into each section of a silicone ice tray or mold. Using the back of a teaspoon, spread the chocolate to thinly coat the bottom layer of each section. This layer should still be thick enough that you can't see any of the tray through the chocolate.
  3. Place in freezer to set bottom layer, about 5 minutes.
  4. Fill each mold about 2/3 of the way up with mashed dates.
  5. Fill the rest of each mold evenly to the top with peanut butter.
  6. Thinly spread the rest of the chocolate on top of each candy (i.e. don't cover the whole surface of the tray/mold with chocolate).
  7. Return to freezer until set, about 1 hour.
Notes
  1. *If necessary to help with mashing, microwave the dates first for about 20-30 seconds.
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Gooey Cookie Pie for One (Vegan!)

I have a confession to make… I’m boycotting Valentine’s Day. *cue dramatic gasp*

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may even recall last Valentine’s Day, when I officially dubbed February 14th  “Violin-tine’s Day.”  (Note to self: Totally making that more of a thing again this year.)

 

 

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. Sarah, you’re just a crotchety ol’ Scrooge because you’re 22-for-22 at being single on Valentine’s Day. Well, OK, that last part might technically be true. In reality though, I am actually a huge romantic and a total sucker for the cheesiest lovey-dovey things! Eating my food and telling me I’m pretty usually does the trick too, though. I’m not difficult to please. (Edit: I’m actually pretty difficult to please. Maybe that’s why I’m 22 for 22…)

 

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For me though, true romance is unconditional, and there’s something about having a holiday specifically for it that just feels forced. You know wha’m sayin’? I truly believe that showing someone else how much you care should be an all-the-time thing, and needs no occasion. Regardless of how you show it, every day should be like Valentine’s day.

 

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Not to mention, the holiday does kind of put a lot of undue pressure on single folk. I have friends who really dread Valentine’s Day, and THAT makes me sad more than anything. I also get it, because I used to feel the same way.

So that’s why I say, celebrate self-love this Valentine’s Day! Regardless of who you choose to date, marry, etc., only you get to spend your whole life with you. Just like only you get to eat this cookie pie.

 

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Aaaand so, that was my long winded way of explaining why I made you a recipe for one. And it is a reallllly good one. This is the gooiest cookie pie ever, and you’ll never know it’s egg and dairy free.

So I say, make and eat a whole freakin’ cookie pie by yourself this Valentine’s Day (or, any day). Then top it with some dairy-free ice cream, because why the heck not. This cookie pie will be there waiting just for you, because you deserve it. Also, because it’s vegan (and gluten free), that pretty much means it’s healthy by default. Right? Usually wrong. But today, right.

 

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And if you are planning to spend your Valentine’s Day with someone special, you could just as easily double the recipe. Why split a dessert when you can each have your own? Everybody’s happy, and nobody has to fight over who gets to eat what part or who gets the last bite. See? I’m saving relationships everywhere.

 

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Gooey Cookie Pie for One (Vegan)
Serves 1
Because you deserve a dessert all to yourself.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/3 cup oat flour
  2. 1/8 tsp. kosher salt
  3. 2 Tbs. dairy free chocolate chips
  4. 1 Tbs. chopped pecans
  5. 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  6. 1 Tbs. pure maple syrup
  7. 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  8. 1/2 Tbs. melted coconut oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  2. Combine flour, salt, pecans, and chocolate chips in a medium bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine applesauce, maple syrup, vanilla, and coconut oil.
  4. Mix wet ingredients into flour mixture.
  5. Grease a wide, shallow ramekin. Pour batter into ramekin and bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until set in the center.
  6. Serve with a small scoop of dairy-free ice cream of your choice, if desired. (And trust me... You desire.)
http://thehungrymusician.com/

Mini Spinach & Artichoke Mac and Cheeses

“I received free samples of Cabot Cheese mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe challenge sponsored by Cabot Creamery and am eligible to win prizes. I was not additionally compensated for my time.”

 

They say it’s football season, but I don’t watch football. I’d rather cook game-day food for you while YOU watch football. 

 

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I’ve been going to Superbowl parties for years, and have never been in the room where the game is on for any time period exceeding five minutes. I’d need three hands to count the number of times I’ve had football explained to me, and it’s just never going to happen. Thus, my job is to wander aimlessly between the dining room and the kitchen, sampling the waves of various bite-size things that come out of the oven. You know, for quality control. 

 

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Usually, the standard fare for Superbowl parties includes bite-sized treats like wings, mini hot dogs, mini meatballs, mini quiches, mini pizzas, etc. Another big thing is dips, and one of my all-time favorites is spinach artichoke. So I combined all these concepts into a super creamy mac and cheese, and then baked them in adorable little paper baking cups I found at Michael’s, which may in fact be my newest obsession (see above).

 

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Did I mention that it also contains two kinds of cheddar cheese? Cabot Creamery was kind enough to send the Recipe Reduxers (count ‘em) SEVEN different kinds of cheese this month. You can imagine my heaven. I am a huge Cabot fan, because not only is the cheese amazing, but they’re owned by family farmers and give all of their profits back to the 1200 farms that provide the dairy for their products. Just when I thought I couldn’t love cheese any more.

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So, I used two cheddars for this recipe: Cabot’s Seriously Sharp and Alpine Cheddars. I’ve always loved the Seriously Sharp, and buy it regularly to keep on hand for snacking. It is SO good that once, I bought the cracker cuts to try and make my portion-controlling easier. The opposite effect occurred, so I (begrudgingly) went back to buying the block. :P

The Alpine, which I’d never had, was SUPER nutty and delicious, and I totally associated it with cheesy spinach artichoke dip. I also threw some Cabot greek yogurt into the mix, which upped the creaminess by about 200%. SO good.

 

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I’ll just leave all of this here. Go forth and be cheesy.

 

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Mini Spinach & Artichoke Mac and Cheeses
Serves 12
Perfectly portioned servings of creamy mac and cheese for your next party!
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 12 paper baking cups (available in crafts stores)
  2. 1 lb. whole wheat elbow macaroni pasta
  3. 5 large canned artichoke hearts, chopped
  4. 1 package frozen spinach (8-10 oz.), thawed, squeezed thoroughly, and chopped
  5. 4 oz. (1/2 block) Cabot Alpine cheddar, grated
  6. 4 oz. (1/2 block) Cabot Seriously Sharp cheddar, grated
  7. 1/2 cup Cabot Greek-style yogurt
  8. 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  9. Salt and pepper, to taste
Topping
  1. 1/2 cup unseasoned whole wheat breadcrumbs
  2. 1 tbs. olive oil
  3. 1 tbs. Cabot Alpine cheddar, grated
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  2. Put pasta into a pot and cover with water. Add a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of olive oil to the water. Bring water to boil. Shortly after coming to a boil, the pasta should be cooked. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water and drain the rest.
  3. Return the reserved pasta water to the macaroni. Add cheese and mix until melted.
  4. Add yogurt and garlic powder, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Fill each baking cup with a generous portion of macaroni.
  6. Combine topping ingredients and mix until oil is evenly distributed.
  7. Sprinkle topping evenly over the individual mac and cheeses.
  8. Bake until topping is golden, about 10 minutes.
Notes
  1. Depending on the size of your baking cups, this recipe may yield up to 16 servings.
http://thehungrymusician.com/


“Bagel and Lox” Frittata

Want to know the world’s truest truth? It is this.

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My friend got me these Yiddish fridge magnets, which inadvertently led to the creation of this philosophy, and I think my life’s work is now complete. Didn’t even need to finish my Master’s Degree.

Roughly translated for modern application, “Oy, I have schvitzed just for a bagel and lox sandwich” could mean something like, “I went to that crazy spin class, just so I could eat a bagel with smoked salmon at brunch and feel less guilty about it.” I may have done this, but I will neither confirm nor deny. Just kidding, it’s 100% confirmed.

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Seriously though, have you ever had a really good bagel and lox sandwich? If you have, you understand. If not, please drop what you’re doing and go get one. A well constructed bagel and lox sandwich is such an experience, that it has become my ULTIMATE special treat. I only eat one when I think I really deserve a reward, or when my craving is so profound that I feel like my world will come crashing down if I don’t eat one immediately. Dramatic much? Not really, actually.

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When I heard that this month’s Recipe Redux challenge was all about “smoked” flavors, I knew I had to do something with lox. My mouth instantly started to water thinking about the possibilities.  

My favorite way to enjoy a lox sammy is on a lightly toasted whole wheat bagel (so it’s warm and soft on the inside. MMM) with thin red onion slices, maybe some tomatoes and capers, and a good portion of green olive cream cheese. Green olive cream cheese is so good, it should be illegal.  That briny flavor with the salty salmon? OH heavens. If you can add avocado too, EVEN better. Unfortunately, every bagel is equivalent to multiple slices of bread, which isn’t so heavenly. So I turned it into a light, fluffy, protein-packed frittata that has all the same flavors.

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The secret to making the frittata SUPER fluffy is greek yogurt, which also adds just a little bit of tang. The recipe is so easy to put together, and can be a perfect addition to your next brunch. 

On an unrelated note, can we just talk for a second about how AWESOME THESE PICTURES ARE? I got a DSLR over the holidays, and it’s my new favorite toy. I’m obsessed. I’m still learning how to get the most out of it, but wow. Sorry iPhone. You are only for selfies now.
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"Bagel and Lox" Frittata
Serves 8
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 6 large eggs
  2. 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  3. 4 slices smoked salmon, chopped
  4. 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
  5. 5 large, or 10 small chopped green olives
  6. 1 tbs. capers
  7. 3-4 tbs. cream cheese
  8. 1/2 avocado, thinly slices (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  2. Whisk eggs very well in a bowl until silky and uniform in texture.
  3. Whisk yogurt into eggs until smooth.
  4. Stir in smoked salmon, onion, olives, and capers.
  5. Pour egg mixture into a greased shallow cake pan.
  6. Using a 1/2 teaspoon measure, drop dollops of cream cheese evenly throughout mixture.
  7. Bake for about 20-30 minutes, or until mixture is set.
  8. Garnish with avocado slices immediately before serving.
http://thehungrymusician.com/


Maple Apple Walnut Cinnamon Rolls

Somebody please stop me from eating all of these immediately.

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I made these last night, and as of the exact moment I began writing this post (12:32 AM) I had already eaten two of them.

Okay, I had eaten three. But I didn’t eat enough dinner last night. ALSO, I hadn’t yet photographed them, so I had to get rid of all the ugly ones. See? It’s ok. I was doing you a favor… Yeahhh.1

I have been dying to make a healthy version of cinnamon rolls since birth, basically. I LOVE cinnamon rolls. In college, one of my roommates would make those amazingly delicious and crazy easy cinnamon-rolls-in-a-tube for special occasions. You know, the ones with the dough that you have to wear protective eyewear to open because the package is GOING to explode? Yeah, you know. SO good.

Unfortunately, those don’t exactly fit into an unprocessed lifestyle, and my goal is to make everything as delicious as possible while also using “real-food” ingredients. And so, these were born. And they are STILL gooey as all heck. 

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I threw some apples into the mix, because I’m still a li’l bit stuck in autumn and am not loving this weird transition into winter. It has been raining like crazy in NYC for the past few days, but it has been FREEZING. It might as well be snowing. Except that it’s not, so instead of making snowmen in the park and getting days off from school, I’m getting soaked by tsunamis of cold taxi puddle water on my way to class. Do I look amused to you? (Imagine that you can see me, and that I look unamused.) The change in seasons is always a weird time on the East Coast, but cinnamon rolls are for all the time. So, let’s just call these seasonal and be done with it.

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Since I didn’t want to use powdered sugar, these do not have your typical “icing,” but they are soaked with a maple syrup glaze, which I think is probably the next best thing. They’re SO delicious warm, with a piping hot cup of coffee or tea on the side. Also, when I was looking for recipe inspiration, I saw that Chocolate Covered Katie put raspberry jam IN her cinnamon rolls. So, obviously, I put some raspberry jam on a warmed up roll for breakfast, and my life was changed. Like, really forever.

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The fact that I have a pan and a half of these in my kitchen is really dangerous. Anybody want to help take some of them off my hands?

I’m kidding. Don’t. I want all of them. <3

Maple Apple Walnut Cinnamon Rolls
Yields 16
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Prep Time
1 hr 20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
1 hr 20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Dough
  1. 1/2 cup warm water
  2. 1 package (1/4 oz.) instant yeast
  3. 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, almost boiled
  4. 1/3 cup coconut oil
  5. 1/4 cup honey
  6. 1 tsp. salt
  7. 1 egg
  8. 2 c. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  9. 2 c. Whole Wheat Graham Flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
Filling
  1. 1 Honeycrisp or Gala apple, peeled and chopped
  2. 1/3 cup walnuts
  3. 1 tbs. cinnamon
  4. 2 tbs. coconut sugar
  5. 1 tbs. honey
  6. 3 tbs. melted coconut oil
Glaze
  1. 2 tbs. melted coconut oil
  2. 1/4 cup maple syrup
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  2. Dissolve yeast in warm water.
  3. In a saucepan, heat almond milk on medium heat until almost boiling. Reduce heat and add coconut oil and honey, whisking until melted. Remove from heat and transfer contents to a large bowl - let cool until a bit warmer than room temperature (so that the coconut oil is still a liquid)
  4. Once cooled, whisk in yeast slurry, egg, and salt.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine flours.
  6. Slowly add flour to wet ingredients until completely combined and dough can be handled. Extra flour may be added. Knead dough for a few minutes with floured hands.
  7. Let sit in a warm place to double in size, about 1 hour.
  8. Combine filling ingredients in a food processor and pulse until a coarse paste forms.
  9. Once dough has risen, punch it down and roll out on a floured surface until about 1/4 inch thick.
  10. Spread filling evenly over dough.
  11. Roll the long end of the dough inward to create a log.
  12. Using a very sharp knife, cut into 16 even slices.
  13. Arrange slices together into two greased cake pans.
  14. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
  15. Whisk together glaze ingredients and drizzle evenly over warm rolls.
Adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie
http://thehungrymusician.com/