Category Archives: Baked Goods and Desserts

Vegan Coconut Scones

Vegan Coconut Scones 2--110815

I have so many updates (I mean, seriously. SO MANY!!!) for you guys from the World Food Championships over here in Kissimmee, Florida, but I can’t get into them now because we’re in the middle of soooo many crazy things and they haven’t quite sunk in as it is. But I’ll be tweeting and IGing pics as much as I can before I write my recap post (er, or posts) in a few days, so if you’re impatient then follow me on social media for the latest and greatest news!

But ermigawd I’m so excitedddddddddd. Also, please don’t take it personally if I don’t reply to your comments or visit your lovely blogs in the upcoming week–I haven’t been out of the kitchen all this week!

Okay, that’s enough of a teaser for now ;) moving on!

Vegan Coconut Scones 4--110815

I made these vegan coconut scones the evening before my flight to Orlando last week–if you’ve never made scones at home before, you’re in for a real treat. Rather than being of the crumbly variety, this recipe yields a scone that is feather-light and omg-I-NEED-this-now kind of fluffy. I had neglected to ask my students whether any of them had dietary restrictions, but I love making vegan treats so I decided to try my hand at a dairy and egg-free scone.

Remember my “omg” moment like, 5 seconds ago?

Forget that for a minute. Because ermigawd these scones so gooooooooooood!

Yeah, I get excited pretty easily. But these really are amazing and simple to make!

Vegan Coconut Scones 6--110815

All it takes is some of your usual suspects: flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, dairy-free margarine, etc etc. I also swapped in some coconut oil (to add that classic coconutty flavor) and some sweetened dried coconut for texture. If you’re not a fan of coconut, feel free to play around with this recipe as you like!… Read more


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Breakfast & Brunch

Fail-Proof Baklava (if I can bake it, so can you)

Greetings from Florida!

Baklava 1--110115

The weather is grubby, the condo is amaze-balls, and the adventures are just beginning over yonder in the Sunshine State. I’m sitting here in this spacious dining room with two suitcases’ worth of kitchenware sprawled over the counters, yet instead of thinking about the World Championships, all I can dream about are Disney World, Harry Potter, and endless days of buffets. Don’t worry, though! I’ve been practicing loads–not with baklava, mind you, which takes over an hour to prepare (though it’s much easier to make than you would think), but with a few special dishes that I’m excited to prepare for an actual panel of judges on Thursday. The two sort-of-secret recipes have gone through four rounds of revisions over the past few weeks (with my own friends, as well as the entire astronomy department–thank you, Anson and everybody!), so we’re keeping our fingers crossed–but all in all I’m here to have a good time, and that’s that. Wish me luck!

Baklava 4--110115

In related news, I love traveling on my own. I love the feeling of connecting with random (non-creepy) strangers who just want to chat in unobtrusive ways with you.  On the first leg of my flight to Houston, I ended up seated next to a guy from Birmingham who was on his way home after a 4-month stint in LA with his firm. The next three hours flew by in a blur of increasing laughter and genuine interest, as well as a corresponding decrease in inhibition. We chatted about our families and sibs; stereotypes about Californians and Southerners, respectively; our work and school; our life goals (we’re both the same age); our travels and dreams for traveling even more. By the time our plane was about to descend, we had even had the one conversation that (to me) is a marker of a real connection: our least favorite imaginable death scenario.… Read more


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts

Jack Skellington Oreo Pops

Jack Skellington Oreo Pops 5--103015

It is a truth universally acknowledged that I cannot decorate desserts for shiz. On a scale of one to disaster, I am definitely the onset of the apocalypse.

Welcome to How Not to Decorate Your Oreo Pops for Halloween 101…

Jack Skellington Oreo Pops 2--103015

For a non-decorator, though, I have to admit that these Oreo pops are pretty damn cute anyway. Sure, they’re not chef-d’ouevres by any stretch of the imagination–but considering that I made this batch at 4 AM within 60 minutes, that’s got to count for something, right?

I made these for an adorable Halloween party that my friends over in the education/IS department threw last week. They weren’t the only themed appearances, either: there were spooky eggs, kitty litter cake, witch’s brew, and props & costumes galore!

Jack Skellington Oreo Pops 6--103015

Last Sunday, the BIG Halloween festivities continued when my fambam and I paid a visit to the Happiest Place on Earth–Disneyland at Halloweentime is inexplicably amazing. The Dapper Dans come out to sing their ghoulish quartet songs in minor keys; the scent of pumpkin and $4.25 churros wafts through the air; the Haunted Mansion is taken over by Jack Skellington and his crew of mischievous misfits. But I’ll let you in on the biggest secret of all that made this Halloween at Disneyland the best one ever:

We ate dinner at Club 33!!!!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with this hidden gem, Club 33 is a members-only venue located in New Orleans Square, right above the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and the Blue Bayou restaurant. Membership is something like $10K per year, with a base fee of goodness-knows-how-much and an interminable waiting list.

We had been waiting to go in for two full years now. My brother’s friend, whose dad is a member, helped us secure a spot for my very belated birthday celebration, but renovations on the restaurant set us back a solid 24 months.… Read more


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Cakes & Cupcakes

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting for #OXOGoodCookies

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting 2--102915

It’s that time of year again. OXO Cookies is supporting Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, and I get to share the deets with all of you!

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting 4--102915

If you haven’t heard about them already, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is a recognized 501c(3) public charity under the laws of New Jersey. Every year, they host this amazing campaign to donate funds to researching kids’ cancer. (Read: donations are tax deductible and 100% of proceeds raised by Cookies for Kids’ Cancer fund pediatric cancer research.)

So what does that have to do with these Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes I’m sharing here today? I’m so glad you asked!

This month, OXO will be donating $100 to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer for each blog post dedicated to this campaign (up to their $100,000 commitment.) You can also look out for this sticker on their baking supplies, which means that they’ll be donating on your behalf when you buy labeled baking items:

When OXO sent me this cupcake supplies set to use, I was over the moon. Last year I made these cookies for OXO and this year I decided to stick with the peanut butter theme by creating these deliciously vegan chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting. The cupcake base is vegan, but you’d never guess it–it’s my favorite chocolate cake recipe as well and involves literally throwing a bunch of ingredients all at once into a large mixing bowl! As for the frosting, you can’t really go wrong with PB&chocolate, can you?

No, I didn’t think so. Helloooo, best combo ever!

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting 6--102915

If you’re looking for a great way to do good this holiday season, I totally recommend stopping by the store and buying one or all of these handy cupcake tools that I used to bake these cupcakes. I can vouch for the quality of these items: I’ve been working with OXO for nearly two years now and it’s one of the few brands I’ll trust to turn out amazing baked goods every single time.… Read more


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Cakes & Cupcakes

Cheesecake Brownies with Fudgy Chocolate Ganache

Cheesecake Brownies with Fudgy Chocolate Ganache 4--102115

Somehow the gods of time have managed to speed us straight through October. In less than two weeks, I’ll be flying to Florida to compete in the World Food Championships–and you know it’s official because my completely un-glam face and bio have somehow been plastered on their website.

Watch out, WFC: your competition is about to get a whole lot derpier.

Cheesecake Brownies with Fudgy Chocolate Ganache 2--102115

As folks around me can attest, I have been baking a LOT lately. My friends, who have graciously volunteered to be guinea pigs help me taste-test my recipes over the past few weeks, are keeping me on track and–more importantly–helping keep me within the boundaries of sanity. Between writing and teaching and researching and emoting, the last thing I honestly want to do at the end of a long day is try recipes by myself, so thankfully these lovely folks are around to make the trial-and-error process a little less arduous.

My pants and the scale, on the other hand, are less happy campers.

Another downfall of all this prep is that I’ve temporarily suspended my no-added-sugar regimen in favor of the opposite: complete and reckless sugary abandon. My kitchen, which I’ve been too tired and too lazy to clean properly (why bother when it will just be coated in flour again the next day?), is now an artistic landfill of granulated sugar and egg splatters worthy of being transported to a modern art museum. The one upshot is that I’m also inclined to bake as much as I can during this interim period, which means that I’ll occasionally produce gems like these glorious cheesecake brownies with fudgy chocolate ganache and not even bat an eye as I photograph and devour the entire stack.

Cheesecake Brownies with Fudgy Chocolate Ganache 6--102115

Somehow I managed to salvage enough of these brownies from my ravenous maw to bring them to campus a couple of weeks back, which is how I know that they are some of the best brownies in the world.… Read more


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Brownies & Chocolates

Banana Crumb Cake

Banana Crumb Cake 4--101615

Once, I my friends and I decided (as we do) that it would be a great idea to take on our local creamery’s famous ice cream challenge.

15 minutes, one sundae. Doesn’t sound that bad, right?

Wrong. Three pounds of ice cream and a quarter-hour later found each of us sunken into a comatose stupor–something between sugary crash-and-burn and uncontrollable (but lackadaisical) giddiness. I vaguely recall laughing a lot about cherry stems, but that’s about it.

Banana Crumb Cake 5--101615

Of the twelve of us there, I was third to finish. Weirdly, as I looked around at my struggling companions, I had the strangest craving for more ice cream than I had already inhaled–yes I am a shameless bottomless sugar pit–but then again, I was always an ice cream fanatic. In fact, the heavy, sloughing weight on my belly was coming from an altogether different source of revulsion…

It was the banana. 

Yes, folks–I almost lost an ice cream challenge to a banana. Three pounds of ice cream were no problem–even a whopping pound of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry couldn’t deter me–and while I wasn’t a huge fan of the whipped cream piled on top, or the three syrups in which the entire sundae was slathered, it wasn’t until I hit the innocuous-looking yellow fruit that I seriously considered giving up.

Of course, Mama didn’t raise no quitter, so in my final minute I sucked it up and shoveled down that banana with a mountainous scoop of strawberry ice cream, gulping it down as fast as I could to rid myself of that sickening scent of sweet rotting garbage (which is exactly what bananas taste like to me).

Banana Crumb Cake 1--101615

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t intensely dislike bananas. There was a brief period when my grandma, meaning well, told me that I had to eat them for potassium, so I would begrudgingly swallow one down for show before running away and hiding, heaven forbid anyone followed me waving another five to be eaten.… Read more


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Cakes & Cupcakes

4-Layer Everything Bars

4-Layer Nougat Caramel Cookie Ganache Krispies Bars

Before I begin, I just want to say that I’m not at all sorry for sharing this dessert with you. Yes, it’s a crazy dessert–yes, it’s so insanely good that I nearly picked through half of the pan before I managed to pry my paws off of these layered bars long enough to package them and ship them off. But will I say sorry?

Certainly not!

4-Layer Nougat Caramel Cookie Ganache Krispies Bars 4--100115

The thing is, I’m a chronic sorry-sayer. If you’re not one yourself, you know one: that friend who, even when she is doing you a favor, will say “sorry” out of instinct more than anything else. And then of course, there’s the neverending loop of sorries, which usually happens when somebody points out that you’re saying sorry way too much, so your first response is to apologize for saying sorry so often–and thus begins the Great Chain of Apologies.

But as I said, I won’t be apologizing for these bars. Not even a tiny morsel, because they are unforgivingly knock-your-socks-off good.

I won’t apologize for the way your jeans fit after you eat them.

I won’t apologize for the incessant daydreams and steady stream of drool that these bars may incur during your regular work/schoolday routine, most probably (knowing your luck) right as your boss/teacher is asking you an important question.

4-Layer Nougat Caramel Cookie Ganache Krispies Bars 6--100115

In all seriousness, though: saying sorry really is an infliction, since the act of saying sorry when one has little to nothing for which to be sorry is really an indicator of something deeper happening. Several times in the past six months or so, I’ve called up some of my closest friends in the hopes of talking through some difficult issues–moral compasses, ethical dilemmas, others’ emotions, my own repeated near-meltdowns (or actual meltdowns, as earlier this week proved). The first words out of my mouth on every call were: “Sorry, do you have time to talk?” One text I sent said: “Sorry, can I be honest?”

And the first words my friends–all of them–said were not “of course” or “sure!” but: “Dude, don’t apologize.”

Followed by: “This is what friends are for.… Read more


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Bars, Uncategorized

Healthy Spiced Apple Granola

This shop has been compensated by Vons. All opinions are mine alone. #AStockUpSale #Vons #CollectiveBias

Healthy Spiced Apple Granola 2--092915

Whenever I get stressed, I go on these epic grocery store raids. They wouldn’t really be a problem, either–I mean, who doesn’t need 15 boxes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch sitting around, right?–…IF I had a car for transporting all of my crazy impulse buys back to my place.

As it turns out, I don’t have a car, and with the first week of school upon us (FINALLY) stress levels are at simmering somewhere around a pleasant 7 out of 10. Apart from spending way too much time trying to figure out enrollment issues and kick-start a regular study group schedule with my fellow grads, I’ve also been going to Disneyland and watching a sneak peek screening of The Martian two nights ago um, not been going to Disneyland and definitely not spending my time watching awesome movie screenings. Pffft. (You guys have to see this movie, though.)

Healthy Spiced Apple Granola 4--092915

Staying true to the spirit of stress shopping, I decided to take the afternoon off yesterday after class + 6 hours of extra office hours and make the 3-mile trek–yes, on my feet–down to Vons so that I could raid their aisles for some serious schooltime snack food.

Now, this is where things get silly. Have you ever walked into a grocery store with exactly two items on your shopping list…and come out carrying twenty instead? Oh, and here’s the real kicker: it’s only when you’re on the way home in your (hypothetical) car that you realize you’ve completely forgotten to buy the things for which you went to the store in the first place?

This happens to me all. The. Time.

Healthy Spiced Apple Granola 6--092915

Now, when you’re without a car (like me) and weak (like me) and seriously distracted (like me), impulse buying + forgetfulness is not a good combo.… Read more


Filed under Breakfast & Brunch, Healthy, Snacks

Mexican Wedding Cookies { + writing about difficult issues }

Mexican Wedding Cookies 1--091715

While I never intended for this blog to be a space for me to share and sort through difficult emotions, it’s funny how much I’ve come to rely on WG as that kind of outlet in a few short years. I’ve never been able to sustain a trusting relationship for more than a few months, yet here I am pouring out my soul to hundreds and thousands of readers whom I have never met–many of whom will never meet me. I have always loved writing, and writing about these issues offers relief and newfound clarity, more often and not in the form of the comments I receive, which offer new perspectives and insights that I would not otherwise have had the courage to solicit.

I know I’m not alone in this endeavor, either. In the web comic world, writing about depression is a major issue, like this deeply impactful post from Hyperbole & A Half that first introduced me to the complete story of what it’s like to be depressed. (She’s gone largely off the radar since publishing that post.) Closer to home, some of my blogger friends have revealed incredibly intimate, painful, and sometimes dark moments from their lives:

Courtney from Neighbor Foodie, who is one of the bravest people I know, wrote this post about the road to recovery and personal healing after her miscarriage

Dorothy from Crazy for Crust shared her all-too-real story about struggling with weight, body image, and self-love

Nancy from Gotta Get Baked is one of my favorite gals of all time, and we’ve had dozens of conversations since we met two years ago about the problems of self-loathing, being true to oneself, and life outlook. I love every single post she cranks out, but one of my favs was this eye-opening post about how we deal with cycles of internalized negativity.… Read more


Filed under Cookies

Peach Crumble Frozen Delight

Peach Crumble Frozen Delight 2--090715

I always knew that I was a fan of the frozen dessert, but THIS. Two weeks ago this dessert happened and I immediately considered abandoning all of my life’s responsibilities & relationships and diving headfirst into a committed romance with this dessert.

Of course, I’m pretty sure I say this exact phrase about once a week, but I really mean it right now. I swear on my entire vintage collection of Disney animated VCR tapes. I mean of course I don’t REALLY because that collection is freakin’ awesome, but still.

Peach Crumble Frozen Delight 9--090715

The awesome thing about this Peach Crumble Frozen Delight is–well, how could I narrow it down to just one thing? For starters, I made this dessert completely in the dark.

Yep, it was 3 AM and I had a bad case of insomnia and, as luck would have it, my kitchen light had gone out the evening before and the repairman wasn’t slated to arrive until the following morning to fix it. So, as a relatively intelligent grad student who’s had 20+ years of schooling under my belt, what do I do next?

Hint: it’s not “get the living room lamp.”

Peach Crumble Frozen Delight 4--090715

I ended up whipping together the filling, baking the streusel, and layering up this entire frozen dessert with nothing more than the occasional light from my ajar refrigerator door–which, for the record, is not very much light at all. (Note to anyone looking to try this: hindsight is 20/20, and apparently knives are just as sharp when it’s light as when it’s dark. Be careful when you’re cutting your peaches–eeks!) It’s that easy. Oh, and remember that sugar-free challenge I’ve been doing with my friend this past month, with one cheat day a week? Well, that meant that by the time I finished this crazy bake/no-bake sesh at 5 AM, I hadn’t even tried said dessert.… Read more


Filed under Frozen Desserts, Fruit Desserts