EASIEST Vegan Banana Bread Muffins

Do you have a food memory you would like to see appear on memo2munch? Send me an email at memo2molly@gmail.com and tell me your story! You just might inspire next week’s recipe. 🙂
**Please note that memo2munch caters toward a vegetarian/vegan diet and while food memories of all kinds are welcomed, traditionally non-vegetarian recipes shared on the site will be adjusted.**

EASIEST Vegan Banana Bread Muffins | memo2munch

I like to call the above photo, “The Evolution of Banana Bread.”

This is a natural progression, right? Once bananas get ripe enough they just morph into banana bread? And the chocolate chips just appear at some point, and we’re just like “Oh, youuuu,” all exasperated but really we don’t mind one bit.

Hey, stranger things have happened. (Like sweet potato cupcakes?!)

EASIEST Vegan Banana Bread Muffins | memo2munch

Growing up, my momma would make banana bread for us fairly often. Whenever I saw a few forgotten bananas resting on the counter, speckled with brown, I would internally fist-pump because I knew banana bread was in my near future. (Still happens, honestly. Except now when I’m at school I have to make it.)

The days leading up to the “Momma Cake,” as we called it, bake day seemed to drag on. We like to let the bananas get reallllly ripe and black. That’s when they’re the sweetest and add the most flavor to baked goods. So every day after school I would peer over the counter and check on the ripeness of the bananas to see if they were ready yet, like a very small, very hungry serious scientist tracking the progress of an experiment.

EASIEST Vegan Banana Bread Muffins | memo2munch

Then, when the bananas were FINALLY LIKE UGH COME ON ready, my mom would let my sister or me mash them with a fork while she measured out the other ingredients.

Ok quick note: banana mashing is so fun. Can I say cathartic? It’s cathartic. None of that blender or food processor stuff, plz. Use a fork.

There’s another “Evolution of Banana Bread” in this story, and that’s the shape the finished product would take. In my earliest memories of my mom’s banana bread, she always made it in a square pan. And I was the brat that would only eat middle pieces because children hate edges on anything??! Pizza crust—->no. Corner brownies—->not a chance. I would like to say, though, that I never took the edges off my Smucker’s Uncrustables. Never.

EASIEST Vegan Banana Bread Muffins | memo2munch

Anyway, the original recipe my mom used called for the bread to be baked in a loaf pan. She switched to the square pan after having issues getting the bread to bake through. But then there was the problem of the sunken middle…

As in, the bread would be a baked all the way, but the middle would sink into a kind of banana bread dome once it cooled. But Mom persevered and found a solution! *clapclapclap*

Now she makes the recipe in a Bundt pan. The sunken middle issue is taken entirely out of the equation, and the cake cooks through fine because the batter is more spread out. Innovation!

EASIEST Vegan Banana Bread Muffins | memo2munch

Banana bread will always make me think of “Momma Cake,” but for the recipe today I made a few tweaks. We’ve got cute banana muffins that are vegan and very forgiving. You can’t mess them up. They’re also sprinkled with coconut, which Momma never did because she hates coconut. But I like it, soooo.

The recipe is based on one my friend and I found the other day when it was raining and we wanted dessert and she happened to have three very ripe bananas so what choice did we have? She is also responsible for the coconut topping idea. Thank you, Esther <3

EASIEST Vegan Banana Bread Muffins | memo2munch

We made our version with a mix of chocolate and butterscotch chips, which was i-n-c-r-e-d-i-b-l-e. So if you aren’t vegan, I would highly suggest that.

Hope you enjoy the muffins! Don’t forget to tell me about your food memories!!! memo2molly@gmail.com

Vegan Banana Bread Muffins
(makes about 12 muffins)

Ingredients

3 very ripe, medium bananas
1/3 cup Earth Balance or any margarine, melted (can sub butter if not vegan)
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ – 1 cup mini chocolate chips
Coconut flakes for sprinkling (optional)

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/175 degrees C and grease a muffin pan or line with muffin papers.

Mash the bananas in a large mixing bowl with a fork until smooth and no lumps remain. Stir in the melted Earth Balance.

Add the sugar, vanilla, baking soda, and salt and mix completely. Gently stir in the flour until no large lumps remain. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Spoon the batter into the lined muffin pan, filling each well ¾ full. Sprinkle with coconut flakes. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the muffins comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack briefly before enjoying. Muffins are great days after, especially heated for 12 seconds in the microwave.

Easy No-Bake Vegan Fruit Tarts

This summer I’ve been living at home with my parents. They both work during the day, so I have a lot of alone time to think (or sleep), cook (or eat), work on my summer class (or be on the internet), and other productive things of the sort.

(Lol.)

No-Bake Vegan Fruit Tarts | memo2munch

But seriously, I’ve been doing a little thinking. During one such adventure, I realized that it’s been about two years since I’ve been home for this long!

I know spending less time at home is a symptom of getting older, but it’s still a bit strange. By now my room feels like my room again. I’ve even christened a Chair of Doom where I pile all the clothes that “I’ll fold and put away later.” Not that that’s a habit…

Yup, I’m settled in.

No-Bake Vegan Fruit Tarts | memo2munch

Anyway, being home has got me all nostalgic. Sometimes I’ll talk with my parents about super random memories I have from when I was little. For someone with a terrible memory I have kind of a lot of them!

Such as the superman pajamas I had with a detachable velcro cape. #neverforget

No-Bake Vegan Fruit Tarts | memo2munch

Many memories are connected to food, of course. Like when I would go grocery shopping with my mom, and she would let me get a donut out of the case in the bakery section to eat while we shopped. (Evidently being in a store full of food without eating any of it was too much for little Molly to handle.)

I’d hold on to the—now empty—plastic bag that had temporarily contained a donut until it was time to pay, and we’d tell the cashier, “Well, there used to be a donut in here.”

Good times.

No-Bake Vegan Fruit Tarts | memo2munch

I bring this up because from the same bakery section of that grocery store we used to get these fantastic fruit tarts. They were fairly small but always decorated beautifully, colorfully dotted with berries and slices of kiwi and mandarin orange. I was just talking with my mom about them. She remembers how sometimes the woman who made the tarts would spread a layer of chocolate between the shortbread crust and the creamy filling so the crust wouldn’t get soggy. Genius.

No-Bake Vegan Fruit Tarts | memo2munch

Today’s tarts are a little ode to those tarts of days past. They’re revamped to include exciting things I’ve been wanting to experiment with, like TWO INGREDIENT date crusts (no added sugar!) and vegan pastry cream. But I think it’s fun to take foods deeply rooted in our memories and emotions and tweak them to match your life today. They still keep their meaning, but you also get to exercise your imagination!

No-Bake Vegan Fruit Tarts | memo2munch

What memories do you have connected to food? Have you tried to recreate anything you’ve eaten in the past? I’m contemplating doing a series of recipes for foods that have strong memories. Like you guys could tell me a food memory you have, and then I’d share it on my blog along with a recipe for the food… I don’t know, thoughts are flying around.

OK LET’S EAT TARTS.

No-Bake Vegan Fruit Tarts
(makes approx. 3 five-inch tarts)

Ingredients

Crust:
1.5 c. pitted dates, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes
1.5 c. mix of pecans and almonds, or just one type

Cream Filling:
¼ cup all-purpose flour*
1 cup non-dairy milk (I used coconut)
¼ c. sugar
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
½ tsp. vanilla extract

Topping:
Assorted fruit of your choice!

Method

1. Make the crust: In the body of a food processor, pulse the dates and nuts together until a large ball forms and the nuts are broken up into bits. Some small pieces of nut are normal. If you want a finer texture, process a bit more. Line your tart pans with wax paper and press the date crust into the pans. (Wetting your fingers slightly with water will help the dough not stick to you.) Refrigerate.

2. Make the filling: In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and ¼ cup of the milk until no clumps of flour remain. Place flour mixture, the remaining milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk continuously until mixture becomes thick, 5-10 minutes. Whisk in the lemon juice, zest, and vanilla extract and cook for 1 more minute, still stirring.

Remove from heat and transfer cream to a bowl. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the cream to prevent a skin from forming on the top. Place cream in the refrigerator to cool for at least 1 hour.

3. Assembly: Once your cream filling has cooled, take the crusts and filling out of the fridge. Distribute the pastry cream evenly between the tarts. Top with desired fruit and keep the tarts in the fridge until ready to serve.

*If you’re gluten-free, 2 tbsp. corn starch should work fine instead.

Spicy Roasted Chickpea Pita

Have we talked about how awesome chickpeas are?

Cuz if not then I think we need to address that at this point in our friendship.

Spicy Chickpea Pita Sandwiches | memo2munch

I mean, what’s not to love? They’re versatile and packed with protein. They make salads next level. You can puree them into hummus. Or fry them into falafel. Or, as I have now discovered, roast them to spicy perfection?!?!?

I’m a fan. Are you a fan? Is that the underlying reason why we get along?

Spicy Chickpea Pita Sandwich | memo2munch

Actually, I’m eating chickpeas while I write this, in their hummus form! But back to that whole ~spicy perfection~ thing.

I used about the same spice blend as in my shakshuka recipe to create a similarly satisfying flavor in a (pita) setting that’s a bit more summer-y. Pop the spiced chickpeas in the oven for less than half an hour, and all that’s left to do is assemble your sandwich!

Spicy Chickpea Pita Sandwich | memo2munch

It’s literally the easiest thing ever, and if chickpeas weren’t so delicious in falafel form I would be kicking myself for not having roasted them and stuffed them into pita before.

Instead I’m kicking myself for not having left the house at all today. Ugh, it’s really so unfortunate to be this lazy. I keep getting phone calls from unknown numbers, too. I haven’t answered for fear that they’ll lecture me about the beautiful weather I’m missing out on or something equally as bad like which candidate I should vote for.

Spicy Chickpea Pita Sandwich | memo2munch

Anywho, I’m going to end this here and get out in the open air! Promise.

PS you should make this for dinner. Promise?

Spicy Chickpea Pita Sandwich | memo2munch

Spicy Chickpea Pita Sandwich
(Adapted from Minimalist Baker)
Serves: 3-4

Ingredients

Chickpeas:
1 15-ounce (425g) can chickpeas, rinsed, drained, and gently patted dry
1 tbsp. oil
1 tsp. each ground cumin and garlic powder
½ tsp. each sea salt, black pepper, and paprika
¼ tsp. ground red pepper/cayenne (optional)

To serve:
Pita (or gf bread if needed)
Hummus
Diced tomato
Sliced red onion
Romaine lettuce, chopped,
Tahini (optional)

Method

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F/200 degrees C and line a large baking sheet with foil.

2. Mix the spices together in a small bowl. Place rinsed and dried chickpeas in a mixing bowl and toss with the oil to coat. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the chickpeas and stir until the chickpeas are evenly coated. Spread in a single, spacious layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, or until crispy and golden brown.

3. To serve, warm the pitas in a microwave for 15-30 seconds or in the still-warm oven. Spread a generous amount of hummus in the center of each pita and top with chickpeas, tomato, lettuce, onion, and tahini if desired. Fold and enjoy!

EASY 5 Ingredient Fresh Strawberry Pie

I had the best intentions for last week. I really did.

I was going to do a super awesome, all-inclusive post for a 100% vegan Fourth of July cookout. Wouldn’t that have been cool?! I had a plan for a main, a side, I even had your dessert all settled. Plus some chocolate covered fruit kebabs for snacks because duh.

EASY 5 Ingredient Fresh Strawberry Pie | memo2munch

Turns out I was a little overambitious, though. And I also didn’t start planning early enough. Bad combo. You see, once I was finished making everything for the post (in one day–>poor planning) my good photo light was going, and fast.

EASY 5 Ingredient Fresh Strawberry Pie | memo2munch

They turned out horribly. The pictures, I mean. The food was pretty dang good. And I managed to use the grill unsupervised! Those pictures though…

*sigh* At least we had one success that day, right?

EASY 5 Ingredient Fresh Strawberry Pie | memo2munch

In theory, I could have retaken the pictures the next day, but a common occurrence when you leave things until the last minute is that you leave very little room for error. So it ended up that I didn’t have time to redo the shoot. Will I ever learn?

EASY 5 Ingredient Fresh Strawberry Pie | memo2munch

Well, I am happy to inform you that this week I opted for an easy, quick, forgiving, and photogenic recipe that’s perfect for a blogger who has a habit of leaving things until the last minute. Yay!!!

I think you’ll really like it, too. It’s the perfect, refreshing dessert for the height of summer. You probably already have all the ingredients at home, so what are you waiting for??

Unless you also like to wait to do things until the last second… 😉

EASY 5 Ingredient Fresh Strawberry Pie | memo2munch

Fresh Strawberry Pie

Ingredients
10 full rectangular sheets of graham crackers (1 sheet=what you use to make a s’more)
6 tbsp. butter or Earth Balance, melted
1/4 c. brown sugar
5 c. (about 2 lbs) strawberries, some left whole and some halved
2 tbsp. strawberry jam
Whipped coconut cream for serving, optional

Method
1. Make the crust: Preheat oven to 300 degrees F/150 degrees C. Break graham crackers into the body of a food processor and pulse until only fine crumbs remain. (You can also do this by hand by placing the crackers in a tightly sealed plastic bag and hitting them with a rolling pin) Add the melted butter and brown sugar and pulse until combined. Press firmly and evenly into a pie pan. Bake for 10 minutes and then let cool completely on a wire rack.

2. Make the filling: ***The filling can get a bit runny. If you want to make this dessert in advance, I suggest keeping the filling out of the crust until 1 hour before you want to serve it.*** Heat the jam just until it is stirable. Mix together with the strawberries. Scoop filling into cooled crust and refrigerate until ready to serve. Slice and serve as is or with whipped cream, if desired.

Crostata alla Marmellata (Italian Jam-Filled Tart)

Italian Crostata alla Marmellata | memo2munch

Well, friends, my current situation is: STATESIDE & MISSING THE FOOD.

My semester in Bologna has come to a close, and I’m back home for the summer. It was an incredible, exciting, and challenging 5 months, and I learned so much. But however my experience has “changed” me, after one week at home I’ve managed to slip back into old habits… Like staying up way too late reading or scrolling through the internet, or wearing my pajamas until 1pm.

But I’ve also gotten back to baking! So we’ve got a weeeee bit of productivity going on.

One of my favorite sweets I had in Italy was crostata, a jam-filled pastry with a crust somewhere between that of a pie and shortbread. It’s delicious and simple and goes great with espresso. 😉

Italian Crostata alla Marmellata | memo2munch

Most of the time I opted for a crostata filled with apricot jam—one of the most common fillings. But in Bologna you can also find them filled with something called mostarda bolognese. Don’t worry, it’s not mustard! It’s a type of preserves typical of Bologna, made from a combination of plums, apples, pears, and orange. (Sometimes a few drops of mustard oil will be added as well, but the finished product tastes nothing like the yellow stuff.)

I was hooked as soon as I tried it. Sweet, slightly tangy from the plums, with notes of zesty orange. Long story short, I had to take a jar of the stuff back home with me.

It went straight into a crostata, of course.

Italian Crostata alla Marmellata | memo2munch

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anywhere online that sells the stuff, and the recipes I’m finding are all in Italian and seem like a big
pain to make (multiple days involved). An apricot crostata would be just as tasty, though! But if you’re itching for some mostarda, I can post a recipe.

Where I got the recipe for the crust is a separate but interesting story. In one of my classes we talked about an Italian man named Pellegrino Artusi, who pretty much was a food blogger back before computers even existed.

He wasn’t a chef, but he loved food. (Same) In the late 1800s he made it his mission to compile recipes from home-cooks across Italy and document the country’s authentic and diverse cuisine in a book, which in English is called, Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

Italian Crostata alla Marmellata | memo2munch

He travelled up and down the length of the country, watching home cooks work and learning the recipes directly from them. Once he had gained a following, he received letters constantly—–people writing with questions about ingredient amounts, others offering suggestions for tweaks or additional recipes, some just letting him know how much they enjoyed the book. And he wrote back to every one of them.
The book was first officially published in 1891, but Artusi kept revising it and adding recipes up until his death in 1911. The version I have has 790 recipes!!!

It’s been translated into several languages—including English—–and I would highly suggest picking up a copy. (It’s a lot easier to find than mostarda bolognese. Here is a link.)

I’m hoping to make a lot more of the recipes in Artusi’s book, and I’ll be sure to share them on memo2munch. In the meantime, enjoy a lil crostata.

Italian Crostata alla Marmellata | memo2munch

Crostata alla Marmellata (Italian Jam-Filled Tart)

Ingredients

200g Jam of your choice or mostarda Bolognese, room temperature
250g all-purpose flour
110g white sugar
Zest of one lemon or small orange
125g butter, cold and cubed
2 eggs, beaten (save some to use as egg wash)

Method

1. If you are not making the filling from scratch, begin on the crust. Toss together the dry ingredients, then mix in the zest. With a pastry cutter, fork, or your fingers, incorporate the butter until the mixture looks like wet sand. Work quickly to avoid warming the butter too much. Add only enough egg so that the mixture comes together into a roll-able dough, reserving the rest for later. Shape into a disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/175 degrees C. Grease an 11 or 9 inch tart pan and set aside.

3. Take the dough from the fridge and divide it in half. Roll out one dough half between two sheets of wax paper until the circle is 1 inch larger than your pan. Peel off the top layer of wax paper and flip the dough over into the pan, then peel off the second sheet. Flatten dough into pan and shape a nice edge with your fingers. Gently spread the jam evenly over the crust. If your jam is not spreading easily, mix it with a bit of warm water.

4. Roll out the remaining dough to the same size, and cut equally into 1 inch wide strips. Lay the strips across the crostata first vertically and then at a horizontal angle to create a diamond lattice shape. Brush with remaining egg, and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until crust is nicely browned.

On Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes & Alchemy

Cooking is alchemy, don’t you think?

Take pancakes, for example (don’t mind if I do).

You start with a mixture of things that you would never eat as is (read: flour, baking powder, oil, eggs), and things that are “eh” as is (sugar, milk), which you then turn into something that I would argue is better than gold. Chocolate chips, of course, are an exception to the whole “eh” rule, but they’re an add-in, so you get what I’m saying.

On Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes and Alchemy | memo2munch

Sometimes when I cook I feel like a mad scientist. And like any good mad scientist would, I start wondering if this way is the only way to do things. If I could get just as good a result using other ingredients or tweaking things here and there.

I got reaaaaal mad scientist-y when I found out about my dairy allergy. I grabbed a lab coat, some goggles, and experimented with baking using non-dairy milk and butter. I had some major successes, like dairy-free cinnamon rolls and vegan buttermilk biscuits. And they STILL made me take chemistry in college. Can you believe it?

The thing about this type of baking, though, is that you’re substituting an ingredient with something similar, something intended to be a substitute for that specific ingredient. Almond milk is made to replace cow’s milk.

On Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes and Alchemy | memo2munch

So the question becomes: can you substitute an ingredient with something completely different and unique?

YEAH YOU CAN, YOU ALCHEMIST, YOU.

I made these delish—and I do mean delish—pancakes vegan by using one mashed banana in place of an egg. It works because the properties of each result in the same function.

Why are there eggs in pancakes anyway? To bind things together. Eggs keep your pancakes from crumbling apart. But if you don’t want to use eggs to hold your pancakes together, you have to use something else that acts as a binder in its place. Mashed banana has the same binding effect as eggs, not to mention is vegan, and adds sweetness and a light banana flavor. And the fluffiness factor we all love about pancakes is entirely unaffected. Alchemy.

It’s like your favorite banana bread… in a pancake. With chocolate. *Bows*

On Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes and Alchemy | memo2munch

If you’re vegan or just curious about other egg replacements, each of the following will replace 1 egg:
– 1 tbsp. ground flax mixed with 3 tbsp. water, let sit for 30 min. to thicken
– 1 tbsp. chia seeds mixed with 3 tbsp. water, let sit for 30 min. to thicken
– ¼ c. pureed silken tofu
– ¼ c. dairy-free yogurt

On Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes and Alchemy | memo2munch

Easy Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes
(makes 10-12 5in. pancakes)

Ingredients
2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour (or any flour, such as gf)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 medium bananas, mashed
2 cups (470 mL) dairy-free milk or mix with 2 tbsp. lemon juice (for vegan buttermilk)
3 tbsp. oil, plus more to grease pan
vegan chocolate chips (I like using mini)
Maple syrup, sliced banana, or melted white chocolate, for serving (optional)

Method
1. In a large bowl, mix the dairy-free milk with the lemon juice and let stand until thickened. In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.

2. Mash the bananas with a fork until smooth and add to the bowl with the milk mixture. Add the oil as well and mix until evenly combined. Pour the flour mixture into the liquids and gently mix with a spatula just until no large lumps remain. (Small lumps are fine).

3. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Grease lightly with oil and ladle the pancakes into the pan in disks 4-5 inches in diameter. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the pancakes in the pan. At this point you can lower the heat to medium-low. Cook until bubbles appear in the center of the pancakes and the edges begin to look dry, then flip. Cook for 1 minute on the other side. Serve as is or with any of the topping choices listed in the ingredients. (If you want melted white chocolate—–it’s good!—–you can melt the chocolate in a glass bowl set atop a pot of boiling water, or by microwaving in 30 seconds increments and stirring after each.)

Tagliatelle al Ragù alla Bolognese

Yesterday evening I curled up in a blanket and watched BBC’s Persuasion on my laptop and tried to forget that I have an exam on Monday. Because even though I’m living in Italy right now, I was recently reminded that it’s called study abroad for a reason.

Boo.

Tagliatelle al Ragù alla Bolognese | memo2munch

Now I have to start memorizing names and dates and directors of Italian movies, but temporarily transplanting myself into a lil bit of Jane Austen love story was perfect. Bless her. (But also where is my Captain Wentworth? Serious q.)

Tagliatelle al Ragù alla Bolognese | memo2munch

I’ve been living in Bologna for almost three months now (?!!?!). That’s pretty crazy.

I love this city because obsessing over food isn’t weird here. I can step outside my front door and talk for 20 minutes with a street vendor about why buffalo mozzarella is so incredibly creamy. I can take a different route to class between the bright red and orange buildings and discover a new bakery hidden beneath the porticoes. People here will spill their passion for wine or fresh pasta or prosciutto so willingly if you give a little encouragement.

I just want to listen forever and not say a word, but I guess my Italian won’t improve that way.

Tagliatelle al Ragù alla Bolognese | memo2munch

I wanted to share something on the blog that was super authentic Italian to pay homage to this delicious city. Then the other day I came across a recipe book I had bought close to the beginning of the semester. It’s filled with adorable illustrations and typical recipes of Bologna, which in true Italian fashion are all minimalistic and rely on good ingredients.

Today’s recipe is translated straight out of that recipe book and is for one of the dishes most associated with Bologna. Tagliatelle al Ragù alla Bolognese! Americans probably know it as Bolognese sauce, but by whatever name you know it, it is the best meat sauce in all the land.

Tagliatelle al Ragù alla Bolognese | memo2munch

Ladle it over fresh pasta, and you are living the dream, friends.

Make a whole big batch and freeze some for later! The flavor will only get better when you reheat it. Buon appetito 🙂

Tagliatelle al Ragù alla Bolognese | memo2munch

Tagliatelle al Ragù alla Bolognese
(serves 4)

Ingredients
2 onions, minced
2 carrots, minced
2 stalks celery, minced
Olive oil
300g. (0.6 lb) pancetta, finely cut **Not sure what pancetta is or can’t find it? See note at the end of the recipe!**
400g. (0.9 lb) ground beef
1 c. red wine
1 6oz. can tomato paste
2 cups broth
Salt and pepper to taste
450 g (1 lb) tagliatelle all’uovo (wide, flat egg pasta—get fresh if you can!)
Grated Parmigiano, to taste

Method
1. Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery to pan and sautee until the onions begin to soften and turn translucent. Add the pancetta and let cook for a few minutes. Add the ground beef and leave to cook for 10 minutes, making sure to mix everything from time to time.

2. Stir the half cup of wine into the saucepan and let evaporate. At this point add the tomato paste and the broth and mix with a wooden spoon (it is apparently important that the spoon be wood). Taste and adjust the salt and pepper to your preference.

3. Cover the saucepan and leave to simmer over low heat for up to four hours (the longer the better). Mix every now and then so the sauce does not attach to the bottom of the pan.

4. About a half hour before you want to eat, bring the pot to a boil and then turn off the heat and leave the sauce to cool to close to room temperature. In the meantime, prepare the pasta as directed on the package.

*A note on pancetta: it is the same cut of the pig as bacon, so if you cannot find pancetta, 8-10 regular strips of bacon will work. ONE THING TO NOTE! Bacon is smoked and pancetta is not, so I suggest boiling the bacon for 2-3 minutes first to minimize the smoky flavor.
**If you don’t eat pork, just up the ground beef to 1.5 lb total

Lemon Basil Scones with 2 Ingredient Lemon Glaze

I once saw a Tumblr post that said something like, “I feel like Michael Cera never intended to act but was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and was too awkward to tell them he wasn’t an actor so filmed stuff anyway, and now he’s let it go too far and can’t back out,” and I lol’d for a good several minutes. (I don’t really think that, of course…)

Lemon Basil Scones with 2 Ingredient Lemon Glaze | memo2munch

Turns out, however, that karma remembered that I laughed about Michael Cera’s supposed acting backstory. And now I find that Tumblr post a lot more relatable. Let me explain.

~story time yaaaaaaay~

Once upon a time (If I begin it like a fairytale then maybe it will all just be a dream?) two days ago, I had an appointment at an elementary school in Bologna to interview a teacher about how school lunches work there.

I got to the school at 8am and walked in with a swarm of 7-year-old Italians, so that was adventure #1. When I got to [teacher]’s classroom, there was a substitute there who told me [teacher] wouldn’t arrive until 8:30. I figured I’d just hang out in the classroom and listen to adorable children speak Italian better than me.

Well. Was I ever wrong. (About the hanging out part, not the kids being better than me at Italian part)

Lemon Basil Scones with 2 Ingredient Lemon Glaze | memo2munch

The sub had me introduce myself to the class, which I thought was somewhat weird, but I went along with it anyway. I should tell you that it’s common for college students here in Bologna to volunteer at elementary schools as English teachers.

Can you see where this is going?

After the sub took attendance, she gestured toward me and said to the class, “This is going to be your teacher for the day! She’s going to help you learn the days of the week in English! Michele, start naming them and Molly will correct you.”

Um.
Wait.
Did I just get roped into teaching English?
I just got roped into teaching English.

Lemon Basil Scones with 2 Ingredient Lemon Glaze | memo2munch

“I’m not here to teach English!” -is what I should have said right away. But I just couldn’t. I became Tumblr Michael Cera.

Finally, at about the third kid naming the days of the week, I found my voice and explained to the sub that I was just there to interview [teacher]. As soon as I got the words out, the real English teacher showed up. She was from Georgia–—the country. She spoke no Italian, and only kind of spoke English. With a veeery thick accent.

I almost wish I had been supposed to teach them because now that Georgia was there I had to sit through her not realizing that some of the kids were saying that Saturday came after Wednesday. I mean, I know we all wish it did, but I also want those kids to actually learn English.

Lemon Basil Scones with 2 Ingredient Lemon Glaze | memo2munch

Anyway, that’s the story of how karma is on Michael Cera’s side. What a morning.

I like to think that I just wasn’t completely awake yet and would have spoken up earlier if I had had time for coffee… But who even knows.

I BLAME YOU, MICHAEL CERA. At least in the end I got some good lunch info. And a good story.

And here’s a recipe for the dangerously delicious scones that I should have been telling you about, but you’re happy you got a story instead, right? (Srsly though, lemon and basil is a winning combo. Please make these scones. And please don’t laugh at Michael Cera.)

Lemon Basil Scones with 2 Ingredient Lemon Glaze | memo2munch

Lemon Basil Scones with 2 Ingredient Lemon Glaze

For the scones:
3 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. salt
¼ c. granulated sugar
½ c. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter or earth balance, cut into small cubes
¾ c. nondairy milk mixed with ¾ tbsp. vinegar or lemon juice*
1 large egg
Zest from one lemon
2 tbsp. to ¼ c. chopped fresh basil
1 beaten egg, for brushing scone tops before baking

Lemon Glaze:
1.5 cups powdered sugar
3 tbsp. lemon juice (use the lemon you zested for the scones)

Method
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Use your fingers or a pastry cutter to incorporate the butter until the mixture feels like sand.

3. In a small bowl, whisk the egg with the milk and vinegar mixture. Add to flour mixture ¼ cup at a time and stir until the mixture comes together in a soft dough. You might not need all of the liquid. Fold in the zest and basil.

4. Turn dough onto a floured cutting board and gently flip it over itself about 10 times. Pat into a wide rectangle one inch thick and about 4-5 inches tall. Cut the dough vertically into 4 smaller rectangles, then cut each rectangle in half diagonally to create 8 triangles. Arrange triangles a few inches apart on lined baking sheet. Brush each scone with beaten egg. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until scones are lightly golden and a toothpick comes out clean.

5. Make the glaze: Combine the sugar and lemon juice in a bowl and whisk thoroughly. If glaze is too thin, add more powdered sugar. If glaze is too thick, add a little milk or water. Spoon glaze over scones and enjoy!

*If not dairy-free you can substitute buttermilk for the entire mixture, or make the mixture with dairy milk

Chocolate Covered Almonds with Turbinado Sugar and Sea Salt

Ah, I remember what a magical moment it was when I learned you could bring food through airport security! (Two reasons why I remember so vividly: a) it was a momentous discovery, and b) it happened, like, 2 years ago.)

Chocolate Covered Almonds with Turbinado Sugar and Sea Salt | memo2munch

I really had no idea until that point. I didn’t have occasion to fly all that often growing up because I’m from smack-dab in the middle of nowhere the US, so basically everywhere we went was drivable. I do have one memory related to food and airport security, though. It involves 13-year-old me trying to bring a wrapped, unopened jar of apple butter in my carry-on as a gift for some friends I was going to visit. And having to unwrap said jar of apple butter for security to look at. And being told that jars of apple butter on planes are a no-no. And having to say goodbye to an entire, giant jar of delicious, unblemished apple butter.

It was a veritable tragedy.

Chocolate Covered Almonds with Turbinado Sugar and Sea Salt | memo2munch

I guess I just figured after that experience that all food would be taken from me at the airport. Not that I think the TSA was wrong for taking my apple butter—I know they were just doing their job. But smack-dab in the middle of nowhere the US, they make some gooood apple butter. So mourning its loss was necessary.

Anyway, the whole point of this story was to tell you that now that I know I can bring food on airplanes, my travel snack of choice are these chocolate covered almonds with turbinado sugar and sea salt from Trader Joe’s. They’re delish. I had them with me when I flew here to Bologna in January, and they kept me company during all 60 bajillion of the flight cancellations and delays. <3 Comfort food <3

Chocolate Covered Almonds with Turbinado Sugar and Sea Salt | memo2munch

The only problem is I’ve since finished that box, and there is no Trader Joe’s in Bologna for me to replenish my supply. Luckily, they’re super easy to make yourself and just as yummy. Only 4 ingredients!

Still love Trader Joe’s, of course, but it’s nice to know that in times of emergency there are some other options out there. 😉

Chocolate Covered Almonds with Turbinado Sugar and Sea Salt | memo2munch

Chocolate Covered Almonds with Turbinado Sugar and Sea Salt

200g. (about 1.5 cups) roasted almonds
Two 4-oz. bars quality dark chocolate
Sea salt, to taste
Turbinado sugar, to taste

1. Find a tray that will fit in your fridge and line it with wax paper. Set aside.

2. Fill a medium pot half-way with water. Start heating on the stove over medium-high heat. In a glass bowl that you can rest on top of the pot but won’t fall into the pot, place 1.5 of the bars of chocolate. Set the bowl on top of the heating pot. The steam from the boiling water will melt the chocolate. Congrats, you just created a double boiler!*

3. While the chocolate is melting, finely grate the remaining chocolate into a bowl, stopping every now and then to stir the chocolate that is melting so it doesn’t burn. Mix a couple teaspoons of turbinado sugar into the grated chocolate.

4. One the chocolate in the double boiler has completely melted, remove from the heat and stir in the almonds. Sprinkle with sea salt to taste, then leave for about 10 minutes to cool off.

5. Use a fork to place the almonds one by one or in small groups onto the lined tray. (You don’t want them all stuck together once they harden.) Sprinkle heavily with the grated chocolate/turbinado sugar. Leave in the fridge until completely set, about an hour.

*Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate in the microwave by heating it in spurts of 30 seconds and stirring until it melts completely.

Top Eight Recipes 2015

Today’s question of the day is how the heck does time work?! Cuz I’m pretty sure today has lasted about 47.3 hours already, yet somehow it’s been FIVE WEEKS since my last post?? Not even four weeks, like I thought before I realized we are a good week into February…

What day is it? What year is it? (I’m horrible.)

But I’m gonna try and make it up to you by sharing the TOP EIGHT NOMS on memo2munch, more than the number of weeks I missed because #bonus and also we must continue this theme of my not understanding anything with numbers.

I know they’re not new recipes, but I’m feeling a little nostalgic right now because in approximately five days memo2munch will be turning 2.5 years old! Speaking of time. moving. fast!!!

I went back over the most viewed/pinned recipes here on memo2munch and picked the top eight. Think of it as a trip down memory lane for your stomach and/or a reminder of what to make this week 😉

8. Six-Ingredient Cherry Cobbler

6 Ingredient Cherry Cobbler | memo2munch

Ohhhh, shoot. One recipe in and I’m drooling a lil bit. Honestly, these cherries didn’t need anything added to them, but flour, sugar, and butter never made anything worse, amiright?

Totally worth the finger stains we got from pitting all those cherries.

If you want to make this recipe now, I’d suggest using any kind of frozen berries. They’re picked and frozen when they are ripe, so your cobbler will taste great even though berries are out of season.

7. Chocolate Covered Strawberry Pancakes

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Pancakes | memo2munch

Still haven’t recovered from these. Still want them every day. Still so happy I can eat literally all of my favorite things in one (or 7) heart shaped pancake.

PS Valentine’s Day is a’coming, so you could make these for your special person (yes, that includes yourself), ok? Ok.

6. Vegan Blueberry Hand Pies of Cuteness

Vegan Blueberry Hand-Pies | memo2munch

Name is on point, and that’s all I have to say.

5. Best Ever Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Vegan Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting

Best Ever Sweet Potato Cupcakes | memo2munch

Fall ain’t just about pumpkin, anymore.

4. Rum-Soaked Pumpkin Bread with Espresso Swirl

Rum-Soaked Pumpkin Bread with Espresso Swirl

However, we also still like pumpkin. A lot. Especially when espresso and rum are involved.

3. Dark Chocolate Orange Cake with White Chocolate Ganache

Dark Chocolate Orange Cake with White Chocolate Ganache | memo2munch

Decadent and oh so delicious. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: ya can’t go wrong with chocolate cake in any form (but dark chocolate orange sure is nice).

2. Shakshuka!!!

shakshuka | memo2munch

Turns out one savory recipe out of eight sweet recipes is a pretty good representation of the ratio on memo2munch as a whole… Whoops.

1. Peppermint Hot Cocoa Cookies

Peppermint Hot Cocoa Cookies | memo2munch

It’s too hard to pick favorites with dessert but let’s just say that I’m very, very glad that these cookies ended up in the number one spot. Soooo gooey sooooo yuuuuum. <3

Hope you enjoyed this recipe round-up and that you give/have given some of them a try! See you in not as long this time, promise.