Maple Apple Walnut Cinnamon Rolls

Somebody please stop me from eating all of these immediately.


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. 


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.


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.


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
  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)
  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
  1. 2 tbs. melted coconut oil
  2. 1/4 cup maple syrup
  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
The Hungry Musician

My First Week as a Grad Student (And What I Fed Myself)

In my first week as a graduate student, I realized that I haven’t really been properly warned about a lot of really RANDOM things. In no particular order:  

1) Nobody warned me that on some days, my violin just won’t love me back.

2) Nobody warned me that ceramic knives are just as good at slicing fingers as they are onions.

3) Nobody warned me that someone would come to my door claiming to be MY electric company and SOMEHOW convince me to sign up for a DIFFERENT electric company. (Note to self: Don’t be so nice – you live in New York now. Your idea of “rude” is everyone else’s normal.)

4) Nobody warned me that I would see TIM GUNN in the book store while going to pick up How Sweet Eats’s new cookbook. I have also seen him in public once before, at a train station in Philly. Unfortunately, my outfit was not “making it work” either time, so I’ve never gone up to him. Potentially awesome selfies with Tim Gunn: 2. Awesome selfies with Tim Gunn? 0. 

5) After a few weeks of not getting to yoga, nobody warned me that this evening’s yoga class would be changed from “Mixed Level” to “Vinyasa.” Woops. My legs are gummi worms.

6) Finally, nobody warned me that organic whole chickens cost upwards of $27.00. Can’t a girl just get her roasted chicken on without having to file for bankruptcy? Damn. So, instead of doing the wise thing and buying the chicken and having meat for the week, yours truly bought a half pound of wild sockeye salmon for $9.00 and had enough fish for two meals… Practical. But what I did with that salmon. Ooooh, what I did with that salmon…. IMG_6166   Crispy Honey Maple Dijon Salmon (serves 1-2) (GF):

  • 1/2 lb. wild salmon, whole or cut into 2 filets
  • 1/2 tbs. dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tbs. pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

If making two filets, cut salmon in half before preparing. With the skin side facing down, coat the flesh of the salmon with a sprinkling of olive oil, spreading to coat evenly. Season with salt and pepper. Combine mustard, maple syrup, and honey. Drizzle on top of salmon. In a skillet over medium-low heat, place the filet(s) skin side up so that the flesh is being seared. Cook until the flesh becomes light orange all the way up to the skin, about 5-7 minutes. I covered the pan in the last minute or so to speed along the process. Remove the skin, and then remove the filets from the pan to serve. I served it with coconut cilantro jasmine rice and a kale-onion-garlic stir fry.  One super tasty example of when frugality just isn’t necessary.

I do have plenty of good tidbits to report, however.

1) I was able to free up my afternoons and leave more time for building up a private teaching studio here in New York City. Anybody need some violin lessons? 🙂

2) I met up with an Instagram friend, Drew (@thatviolakid) and went busking in Washington Square park last week, which was a BLAST. Drew is an incredibly talented violist at Juilliard, and regularly offers useful, inspirational tips for his Instagram followers. How fortunate that I’ve only been in school for a week, and already I’m meeting wonderful musicians and having great playing opportunities! It was also fascinating to observe the culture on the streets of NYC while standing in one place. It all just plays out in front of you. 

Busking shot, courtesy of Drew!

Busking shot, courtesy of Drew!

3) I won a string lottery at school orientation, and coincidentally won a pack of the gut strings I already use (which are super expensive but yet I still justify buying repeatedly, because they sound like butter and honey made a baby in audible form). For the freakin’ WIN.

4) My new violin bag from Evening Phoenix Designs came. It’s reeeeal purty and Casper is super happy to now be even more protected from the “elements” (i.e. flying rosin bits).

5) I currently have breakfast plans tomorrow at a place called “Oatmeals.” Which is, as you may have guessed, an OATMEAL BAR. I heard about the place through a fellow blogger, and I literally could not imagine a more perfect food establishment.

6) It’s September, so it’s time for pumpkin to start reappearing. Which means summer is fading, which is FABULOUS, because I’m kinda done with summer. The season was pretty good to me in general, but I had to turn my life upside down in the middle of it. So to me, the return of pumpkin is vaguely symbolic of a return to normalcy.  Therefore, I did two awesome things to honor pumpkin this week. 

First there was this stack of super sexy whole wheat pumpkin pancakes. With a syrup pour that might be borderline NSFW.


Pumpkin Spice Pancakes (makes 8 mini pancakes):

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat or oat flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened canned pumpkin
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract (may sub. vanilla)
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • ~1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp coconut oil, divided

Combine all ingredients (except almond milk/coconut oil) in a small mixing bowl. Whisk to combine. Add almond milk until the batter is a pourable consistency (~1/3 cup, probably more). Over medium heat, melt half of the coconut oil in a large skillet or griddle pan. Create four small pancakes using a 1/4 cup measure, and flip when the edges look dry (about 2-3 mins each side). Repeat with remaining batter. Serve with pure maple syrup.

Then, I made oil-free pumpkin bread. It turned out kind of dry, so I won’t give you a recipe. But it has been awwwwwesome re-toasted in the morning, and I’ve been putting alllll of the things on it. And by all of the things, I mean different flavors of peanut butter. Usually with blueberry jam. But sometimes with roasted bananas. I can be adventurous.



Speaking of roasted bananas, I also figured out that they are more than amazing when put on COLD cereal. If you were ever into banana-flavored milk as a kid (or even if you weren’t… this is better) you NEED to try this.

I've really been nailing the mid-pour shots lately. And by me, I mean the iPhone's burst feature.

I’ve really been nailing the mid-pour shots lately. And by me, I mean the iPhone’s burst feature.

Roasted Bananas (Vegan/GF):

  • 1 large ripe banana, sliced into coins
  • 1 tsp. coconut oil
  • cinnamon to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Warm the coconut oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add bananas. once they start to sizzle, add cinnamon and vanilla. With a ripe banana, no need for any added sweetness!

Okay, so I’m ALMOST out of things to share with you, but if you’re still with me and haven’t already left the building, here’s one more recipe. The last thing I’ve noticed being a graduate student is that I’m no longer in such a hurry to be an adult. Yes, the drive to succeed and build a career for myself is all still there, but I miss the days when I was a happily oblivious six-year-old and didn’t know what bills were and how to pay them. And when I was six years old, I also loooooved chicken nuggets. Dinosaur-shaped nuggets, to be specific. But now that we know what actually goes into those chicken nuggets, I prefer to pass. See? Life was so simple when I didn’t know what pink slime was (side note: does anybody really know EXACTLY what it is? I think that’s why it’s so scary…). And last week, after a long day of really hard placement tests, all I wanted to do was go back to first grade. So I made tofu nuggets. AND baked curly fries using my veggie spiralizer. If I’d only had a coloring book to go along with this meal, I would have been set.

IMG_5961 Tofu Nuggets (Vegan/GF):

  • 1 block extra-firm tofu, drained of liquid 
  • 1/3 cup oats 
  • 1/3 cup organic yellow cornmeal 
  • Extra virgin olive oil (~2 to 3 tbs. total) 
  • Trader Joe’s South African Smoke Seasoning, cayenne pepper, sea salt, and pepper to taste

Cube the drained tofu into thick chunks, about 1 inch long x 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. In a food processor, combine cornmeal and oats. Pulse until oats are crumbly. Add smoke seasoning, cayenne (sparingly!), sea salt, and pepper to taste. Toss the tofu cubes in about 1-2 tbs. of the oil, then transfer cubes to a bowl with the oat mixture, and toss gently to combine, being careful not to break up the tofu. Prepare a large pan with a very slight coating of olive oil. With the heat on medium, place the nuggets into the pan, rotating them occasionally until all sides are golden brown and crispy. Served here with some Annie’s organic ketchup, the baked “curly fries,” and garlicky kale.

…OK, I lied, there’s one more thing. IMG_6199

Make a mixing bowl salad. Put roasted chickpeas on it. (1 can chickpeas rinsed and drained + olive oil + salt + pepper + smoke seasoning in a 425˚F oven until creeeespy. Toss frequently and monitor to prevent burning.) Oh so fresh, oh so healthy, oh so satisfying.

And now, off to go find that coloring book.  

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.
The Hungry Musician

Maple, Dark Chocolate Chip, & Sea Salt Banana Bread

“Ew, Sarah, why would you EVER put sea salt and bananas together?” – You

What can I say, I’m good at reading minds. But you know what I was slightly less good at until recently? Baking banana bread. It has literally (and I mean literally, not figuratively…there is, in fact a difference) taken me YEARS to come up with the perfect banana bread recipe. I posted one back in my Tumblr-blogging days that I’m pretty sure consisted mostly of chia seeds. Not to hate on chia seeds (they have their time and place), but this recipe is tastier for sure, and just as healthy. Now, to address your sea salt inquiry, it’s pretty much universal knowledge these days that sea salt and dark chocolate are the new power couple. Caramel tries to make it a love triangle, but I am definitely on Team Chocolate. And lately, I have been putting dark chocolate in and on everything I can get my hands on.


Well, I’m celebrating, because (Spoiler: if you follow me on Instagram, then neither of the following things are going to be “big news” to you) after a whirlwind year of suddenly changing plans and deciding NOT to take a year off, I took graduate auditions and was accepted to everywhere I applied! I’m going to be pursuing my Master’s degree next year at the conservatory of my dreams in New York City, and I couldn’t be more excited. I also gave my senior recital a few weeks ago to a lot of positive feedback, which means I officially CAN graduate and go to New York City. Also, I thought the performance went well had a lot of fun giving it, which for self-doubting and perpetually unsatisfied me was kind of big.


So, yeah… I’m declaring that I now deserve to put chocolate in everything. You can judge me or whatever, but you’re going to be thanking my little chocolate binge when you taste this banana bread. Notice I said when, not if, because that’s how sure I am that you need to make it immediately.

Just in case you’re not convinced yet and need a REALLY compelling reason to make it (other than that it’s chocolate banana bread and because I said so), it will use up your ugly, mushy, seemingly inedible bananas. I bet you’ve thrown out some spotty/browning bananas in your time, thinking they were unusable. Think again, my friend – your banana-wasting days have passed, because for this recipe and banana bread in general, the spottier the better! (Unless they’re actually rotten and wrinkled… Then you probably shouldn’t cook with them. :P)

This is what perfect banana bread bananas look like. <3

These are what perfect banana bread bananas look like. <3

Also, this bread came out super moist, and has just the right texture! You could also omit the chocolate chips or walnuts (or both) and the base recipe would come out fine. I will definitely be keeping this as my go-to banana bread recipe!


Maple, Dark Chocolate Chip, & Sea Salt Banana Bread
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  1. 3-4 overripe medium bananas
  2. 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  3. 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  4. 1 egg + 1 egg white
  5. 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  6. 1 cup unbleached whole wheat flour + 1/2 cup oat flour (may do 1 and 1/2 cups oat flour for gluten free alternative)
  7. 1 tsp. baking soda
  8. 1/3 cup 60% dark chocolate chips, plus 1 tbs. for melting
  9. 1/4 cup walnuts
  10. Sea Salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mash peeled bananas thoroughly until mostly smooth. Some small lumps of fruit will remain, that's ok!
  3. Mix in melted coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla, and then add the egg/egg white (adding the egg and coconut oil too closely together may cause the egg to cook in the hot oil).
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients (except for the 1 tbs. of chocolate chips for melting), and then slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet.
  5. Pour batter into a greased loaf pan.*
  6. Melt the remaining chocolate chips, pour onto the batter, and swirl with a fork. Sprinkle the top lightly with sea salt, and bake for about 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  1. *I recommend using coconut oil spray, which I swear by for baking, roasting, and sauteeing! So flavorful, and so much better for you than most non-stick sprays.
The Hungry Musician

Enjoy! 🙂

Vegetable & Cheddar Cornbread Quiche

There are some concepts in this world that are simply genius. For example, the other day, I dubbed February 14th “Violin-tines Day.” This was not because I think that Valentine’s Day is essentially pointless, and that we don’t need a holiday to celebrate our loved ones. It also was not because I’m eternally single on Valentine’s Day. Well, maybe that was part of it. But seriously, it was because violins are awesome and the word play was crazy good. And thus was born my genius idea of the week.


I wish I could take credit for this week’s recipe idea, because it’s also truly genius. I don’t know exactly who originally invented the “cornbread quiche,” but I first discovered the combination on Imma Eat That, and have been drooling over the idea since. Upon Googling, I found other cornbread quiches as well, so my attempt is now sadly past the point of “groundbreaking.” But, I attempted to be original, my first attempt came out very well, and I ate so much of it at Sunday brunch that I thought I might literally become groundbreaking, so I guess that’s something.



Also, you know who else is a genius? Johann Sebastian Bach. Before you roll your eyes and give me a huge “DUH,” I listened to Bach cantatas while making this quiche, which I’m 99% sure is why it turned out so well. Just thought that was worth mentioning…




Vegetable & Cheddar Cornbread Quiche
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Cornbread Base
  1. 1/2 cup cornmeal
  2. 3/4 cup oat or whole wheat flour
  3. 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  4. 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  5. 1/8 tsp. salt
  6. 1 egg
  7. 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  8. 1/8 cup coconut oil, melted
  9. 1/2 tbs. honey
  1. 4 eggs + 3 egg whites
  2. 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  3. 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
  4. 3 cups chopped baby spinach (about 5 cups whole leaves)
  5. 1/2 red small onion, chopped
  6. 1 plum tomato, diced
  7. 1 clove garlic, minced
  8. salt + pepper to season
  9. olive or coconut oil for sautéing
  1. Preheat oven to 425˚F.
  1. Combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, almond milk, and honey.
  3. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, then stir in the melted coconut oil (this will avoid cooking the egg with the hot oil).
  4. Pour batter into a greased, deep oven safe pan or dish - the pan should be big enough that the batter forms a thin layer at the bottom. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the mixture is just set, and remove from oven.
  1. Whisk eggs, egg whites, and almond milk, then add in cheddar and set aside.
  2. In a pan, sauté chopped onion with garlic and a small amount of oil.
  3. Set onions aside, then sauté the spinach in a separate pan and cover until slightly wilted, making sure to drain any excess water. Once spinach and onions have cooled, add them and the chopped tomato to egg mixture.
  4. Season with salt and pepper, then pour on top of the cornbread crust. Return to oven, and continue to bake for about 25 minutes, or until the egg mixture is solid throughout. If the center jiggles when you move the pan, it's not done. I baked the quiche for about 15 minutes with aluminum foil on top, and then removed the foil for the last 10 minutes.
Adapted from Imma Eat That & Healthy Tipping Point
The Hungry Musician