Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

Wait just a minute. Where in the world did this summer go? I feel like it was just two days ago that I was starting my hostessing job and unpacking all of my college things. Now suddenly it's the middle of August and I am leaving for Europe in exactly three weeks. Whoa.

I always begin the summer with a list of things I want to do. Usually by the end, I have only checked off about three of those things, but done a million other things that were not on the list in the first place. While I did not go kayaking (yet), go camping, or salsa dance (again, there's still time...), I did go to Chicago twice, I went to see a movie in the park, ate at new restaurants in Minneapolis, and made new friends through my job. Summers always have their ups and downs, but overall this one has been pretty successful.

One thing on my list that I didn't quite accomplish was to "frequently sit on the back porch and drink lemonade." I sat on the back porch a lot, but I tended to drink cup after cup of coffee instead. To make up for my lack of actual lemonade, I decided to make lemonade cupcakes and throw in some strawberries, because strawberry lemonade was always my favorite.

These cupcakes are light and fluffy and perfectly sweet. They are a great farewell-to-summer dessert, reminiscent of lemonade stands and picnic lunches on the beach. You can get the recipe from my post on One Green Planet!

Do you ever make summer to-do lists? They are great in theory, but a little more difficult in execution. It's funny how sidetracked life can get you!


Chocolate Lovers Brownie Cookies

I have a little bit of advice for you: the best way to repay someone for letting you crash at their place (besides chipping in for groceries-that's a nice thing to do) is to bake them cookies. As I have preached before, nothing says thank you, you're the best better than chocolate.

I crashed at my friend Mel's family's house this past weekend for Lollapalooza, a huge 3-day music festival in Chicago. The trip was definitely an experience, complete with it's ups and downs.

The downs included:

-being evacuated from Grant Park for three hours along with 70,000 other people because of severe thunderstorms
-the mud after the thunderstorms
-having mud balls thrown into the crowd during Calvin Harris
-almost passing out because of heat exhaustion during J. Cole. Don't worry, I chugged some water, ate a granola bar and I was fine.

The highlights, however, were:

-watching the amazing way that Florence and the Machine practically hypnotized a whole crowd with Florence Welch's incredible voice
-finding possibly the only vegan food at the whole festival (tasty veggie-stuffed dumplings)
-raging with Mel
-despite being so sweaty that I looked like I had taken a shower, getting a guy to dance with me at Kaskade
-getting a pedicure after the hell my feet had been through. It was only slightly embarrassing how horrified the woman looked when I put my feet up for her to see...

To repay Mel and her parents for providing me with a place to sleep and lots of granola bars, I made them a big batch of these. 

These cookies should come with a warning: you have to really love chocolate. They are dark, fudge-y, and as rich as the 1%. There is some seriously sinful chocolate flavor going on here.

Chocolate Lovers Brownie Cookies (loosely adapted from Vegan Cookies Invade your Cookie Jar)

makes 2 dozen cookies

1/3 cup non-dairy milk

2 tbsp ground flax seeds
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sucant
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla 
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat your oven to 350º and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the milk, flax seeds, canola oil, sugars and vanilla until smooth. Sift in the remaining ingredients (not including chocolate chips) and stir until a dough forms. Fold in the chips.
3. Roll the dough into about 1 1/2" balls and place them on the cookies sheets, at least 2" apart in case of spreading. Bake for about 10 minutes- they will still feel soft and gooey to touch, but trust me, they firm up as they cool. 

I hope everyone is having a lovely weekend! If you're not, make a batch of these and it will instantly get better. These cookies are a dream come true. Is that over the top? Well excuse me, I'm still in a chocolate coma :)


Rosemary Biscuits with Plum Compote

This past weekend I bought my backpack for my trip. It could probably hold all three of my fat cats plus a pair of shoes. I mean, that's all I'll really need in Europe, right?

I have the itinerary for this year basically planned, but I left some wiggle room for spontaneity's sake. Here's how it will go:

September-November: 3 month internship in London
Paris in December
January- all over Spain
February- Morocco (to get outside of Europe for a bit)
In March: Italy, visiting the several friends I have studying abroad there
and April and May will consist of traveling to Cyprus for a bit, then back to the UK area until I fly out of London in late May.


Can you even believe this is real? I can't.

It will be nice to begin by settling in a place where everyone still speaks English. Whenever I picture people in London, I picture them eating biscuits and jam during tea time- yes I realize it's probably a silly stereotype, but the more I thought about biscuits and jam the more I felt the burning need to make some of my own. 

These biscuits are amazingly flakey, especially for vegan biscuits, and the sweet & savory thing that happens with the rosemary and plums is truly delicious. 

Rosemary Biscuits with Plum Compote

Biscuits (adapted form Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes):

1 cup almond or soy milk
1 tsp white vinegar
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp crushed dried rosemary
1 tbsp sugar
5 tbsp cold vegan margarine


3-4 plums, cored and sliced
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

1. Make the compote by mixing together all of the ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down low and continue to cook until the plums are very mushy and the compote begins to thicken. Remove from heat and store in the fridge until use.
2. To make the biscuits, combine the milk and vinegar in a measuring cup and let sit for a few minutes or until it curdles. Meanwhile, mix together all of the remaining ingredients except for the margarine in a large bowl. 
3. Add the margarine by cutting it into the dry ingredients with a fork until it becomes coarse and crumbly. Quickly stir in the milk and form the dough into a ball. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 15-20 minutes.
4. Preheat your oven to 450º and line a 9x13" pan with parchment paper. Place the dough in the pan and press it into a large rectangle, not quite touching the sides of the pan. Cut it into 12 pieces and slightly separate them, so that once they are baked they can be easily pulled apart. 
5. Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Let the biscuits cool, then pull apart and serve with plum compote and a cup of tea. Pinkies up!