Power Oatmeal & 2 Minute Berry Mousse

Power Oatmeal & 2 Minute Berry Mousse | memo2munch

You guys, I’m doing real summer school for the first time ever. By real I mean, like, meets-in-a-classroom-on-campus summer school thing, so that’s excitingish? New experiences ‘n all that stuff?

I took a class last summer, but it doesn’t count. It was anatomy, and it was mostly online except for Tuesdays, when I would drive 1.5 hours to Terre Haute at like 7AM for “lab,” during which we would do something like 20 jumping jacks and then plunge our hands into ice water while someone else measures our heart rates. You know, crucial research like that.

Oh #TerreHauteTuesdays… I do not miss you.

This summer I’m taking public speaking and human resource management wooooooo!

Power Oatmeal & 2 Minute Berry Mousse | memo2munch

HR gets pretty lively (no sarcasm! Honest!) Our teacher worked in HR for a while before starting to teach, and also happens to be a G R E A T storyteller. Some part of class is always devoted to her real-life examples, riddled with appropriately dramatic transitions such as, “and I said, “oh, no you don’t!’” or “Uh uh. Not happening here,” and always neatly tied up with a satisfying, the-bad-guy-gets-it-in-the-end finish. Super entertaining.

I think she’s kind of a badass. HR! *fistpump*

Public speaking though…. Ehhhhhh….

Power Oatmeal & 2 Minute Berry Mousse | memo2munch

One issue might be the classroom. We’re set up in this dinky, little, window-less classroom in the basement of an old classroom building. The lights *sorta* do their job, but if you told me I was back in middle school the panic would be real.

Anyway, I’m almost positive my teacher for that class is at 203% energy alllll the time. So that in combination with the micro-classroom = Molly must have coffee before class or she will. not. survive.

I’m halfway done already though!!

Power Oatmeal & 2 Minute Berry Mousse | memo2munch

Bloomington in the summer is pretty nice, too. It’s very different than it is during the school year. I’ve picked out a few specifics:

– fewer people are here, so coffee lines are shorter and bathrooms are cleaner. I am about this arrangement. It can feel free to continue
– conferences always??! I figured my job as a server would be super low-key this summer, but multiple times now I have had groups of conference people stroll into the restaurant forty minutes before close & amiably inform me they will be a party of 15. I’ve become pro at hiding distress and throwing together salads at turbo speed. Does this happen to all servers at some point?
– the library may close earlier bUT THE ICE CREAM SHOP IS OPEN LATER
– my favorite study spot in the union is never taken mwahaha
– my go-to parking lot downtown that’s free after 5PM is never full mwahaha
– the slightly balding man I used to see taking pictures of campus in the same spot every day is still here!!! I wonder if he’s doing a time-lapse?? One day I’ll ask him.
– cicadas…. so many… I know that’s just special for this summer, but seriously they’re everywhere! I’ve taken to wearing my hair up when I walk outside for fear of them trying to hitch a ride.
– something on this one part of campus just makes me sneeze and sneeze, but I don’t know what it is!! Pollen: 1 Molly: 0
– there is a kind of unspoken camaraderie between students during the summer. It’s like, “oh, you’re also doing the academia instead of the vacation. We understand each other.”

Well, that’s my summer so far. Wanna talk about oatmeal for a sec??

Power Oatmeal & 2 Minute Berry Mousse | memo2munch

I’m a breakfast gal. Always have been, always will be. If vegetables weren’t a thing you needed in life, I’d be content to eat breakfast for everrrry meal of the day. (#brinner) And I loooove oatmeal, but I was getting tired of my usual blueberry/banana/walnut combo.

I lovelovelove this version! The berry mousse is actually a super simple blend of blackberries, dates, avocado, and a little lemon juice. Naturally sweet and full of healthy fats, this power breakfast is sure to keep you full of energy! Possibly even 203% energy?? Maybe I’ll do a speech about it.

Ok byeeee<3

Power Oatmeal & 2 Minute Berry Mousse
Serves 2-3

Ingredients
For the oatmeal:
1 cup rolled oats
2 cups milk (any kind) or water
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch salt
honey, to taste

For the berry mousse:
1/2 avocado
1/2 lb. berries (about a cup)
2 dates, pitted
1 tsp. lemon juice

Coconut whip* or yogurt, fresh berries, pumpkin seeds or nuts, to top

Directions
1. In a medium saucepan, combine the oats, milk, cinnamon, honey, and salt. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until desired thickness is reached. I cooked mine for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
2. In a blender or food processor, combine the mousse ingredients. Blend until smooth and creamy. Add a little water if mousse is too thick. Add more berries if mousse is not thick enough.
3. Spoon oatmeal into bowls. Top with mousse, coconut whip or yogurt, fresh berries, and seeds or nuts. Enjoy!

*coconut whip adds a delicious creaminess to oatmeal, as well as more healthy fats! Put a can of full-fat coconut milk in the fridge the night before. In the morning, scoop the creamy portion of the milk into a bowl. Reserve the water for another use (maybe to cook your oatmeal?). Whip the creamy part briefly until it is thick and light. Store in the fridge until ready to use.

100th post & bagels!!!!!

Happy New Year!! I know it’s already almost the end of January, but I haven’t come up with my New Year’s resolutions yet which means the year hasn’t reallllly started. Because everything revolves around me. *hair toss*)

Real, Good Bagels | memo2munch

While we’re on the subject of me, (Yes I’m aware that I began that subject) I have some super exciting news and it is in fact soooooooo exciting that even bagels will have to wait and that is no small matter.

Today is my 100th blog post on memo2munch!!!!

Talk about starting the new year off right! Yup, I’ve yakked away on memo2munch 100 times, which is pretty c r a z y.

So in celebration, I’m sharing a recipe for one of my favorite foods and one that I think we can all agree is deliciously worthy of the 100th recipe spotlight.

Real, Good Bagels | memo2munch

I have a very strong love for bagels. I think it must be in every Jew’s DNA somewhere. Like we hear any of the bagel trigger words (“schmear,” “lox”) and then wheels of dough start rolling through our brains down to our mouths & out pops the phrase, “Bagels?! I love bagels!”

Which, of course, is quickly followed by, “But, you know, only Good, Real Bagels™.”

What’s a real bagel? Well, everyone has an opinion, but many say they’ve got to be boiled before they’re baked. I’m all for a good boiled bagel, so today’s recipe includes an easy boiling step! Hey, it’s the 100th post. We gotta go all out.

Real, Good Bagels | memo2munch

During the winter holidays a lot of my family gets together. We plan the whole week around food (not even kidding), and one of the days always includes a FISH FEAST! It really feels like a feast. My cousin has a bunch of cured and smoked fish flown in from this famous place in New York called Russ & Daughter’s. We’re talking lox, kippered salmon, sturgeon, even a whole smoked white fish! Then one of my other cousins snags a variety of chewy bagels from downtown Chicago. We all gather at my grandparents’ house one afternoon and eat so much yummy food, with bagels at the foundation. (My grandpa makes a lox too, which holds its own against anything from Russ & Daughters.)

Real, Good Bagels | memo2munch

I couldn’t have made it to my 100th post without the support I’ve received from all of you who take the time to read my blog & encourage me. Thank you so much! You are a very important part of this blog, so I’ve collected some of your bagel memories to share today too. <3

“When I was little I use to call them ‘not-donuts’ and for a while I use to feel cheated by them cuz they weren’t donuts but now I love them way more than their sugary counterparts.” – Kriss

“My grandma used to make “birdies in the nest” for my brothers when my brothers slept over at my grandparents house. By the time I was old enough to sleep over, my grandpa had ripped off my grandma’s idea and made “birdies in the bagel”. It’s a piece of bread (nest) with a hole cut in the middle for the egg, or in the hole of a bagel if making the bagel version. All my cousins and I went more bananas over birdies in the bagel than birdies in the nest, so grandpa always got a lot of credit and grandma was kind of resentful of that. I have a lot of memories of watching my grandpa make both birdies in the bagel and soldiers (cinnamon sugar toast cut into long strips) for me when I slept over at their house. I never made them myself at home until he passed away in November. The first birdies in the bagel I made, I cracked the egg and it was a double yolk. Grandpa always loved yolk, and double ones especially so. Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to say is because of birdies in the bagel, I will always associate bagels with my grandpa.” – Hannah

“My dad owned a bagel shop for awhile! We grew up running around eating fresh bagel bites (mini bagels with a dollop of cream cheese icing)!” – Alyssa

“While in NY over break I visited a friend in New Jersey for a day and told her I needed the “NJ experience” incorporated into my visit. When we were considering breakfast options, she mentioned bagels. I said sure, but I wondered if that would fill us up (we were both really hungry). She said bagels in NJ are different than ones I’d find in Carmel, so just one bagel would do the trick. I had a whole wheat bagel with veggie cream cheese and lo and behold, it kept me full through the 4 different trains/subways it took to get me back to where I was staying with my dad in NY!” – Jacob

“SWEET BAGEL! We have it in israel its the best thing ever! Its basically bagel brushed with sugar syrup” – Miriam

“I was around 17 (thinking back it seems like that can’t be right–so old for such an epiphany?) when my brother moved to New York and I had my first everyseed with lox. There are a few holy trinities in food: one is basil/tomato/mozzarella, another lox/caper/onion. And enormous amounts of schmear. There is no delicate way to eat this sandwich.” – Steven

“Tommy [my fiance] and I go almost every Sunday to Einstein’s Bagels and pick some up for breakfast. It’s become a ritual!” – Cindy

“I heard once that if you eat a Montreal bagel and a New York City bagel on the same day, the bagels will know you’re a traitor and work together to kill you from the inside. I was pretty skeptical until I saw it with my own two eyes.” – Throsby (details, we need details, Throsby!)

“When I was a kid, there was this bagel place near my mom’s work and she would pick up chocolate chip bagels with chocolate chip cream cheese. One day, she got some for me and they were gone overnight. My dad came right out and admitted to eating them, complaining about how sickly sweet they were and he said they made him sick, but apparently that didn’t stop him from eating every last one and all of the chocolate chip cream cheese. Those things were so good.” – Sara

“[Your aunt’s] Bat Mitzvah was held the weekend of March 17. Because we had several relatives coming in from out of town, Grandma and Poppy hosted a brunch on that Sunday and served bagels, lox, and other brunch-type foods. A week or so before then, Grandma went to the little bakery in Whiting and ordered bagels for the weekend. When she went to the bakery that Saturday to pick up the bagels, she noticed that they had green bagels in the case. She thought it would be fun to also get a few green bagels for the brunch on Sunday, so she asked the woman behind the counter for a couple of green bagels. The woman looked at her and said, “It’s St. Patrick’s Day. All the bagels are green!” It was quite the sight — the bright orange lox and white cream cheese on the green bagels.” -My momma!

“I had a bagel today. There was a high amount of cream cheese.” – Tyler (a bagel success story)

“Living in a predominantly jewish community in the suburbs of New York City has greatly elevated my standards for bagels! For one thing, a truly fresh bagel NEVER needs should be toasted. If you’re buying it fresh, it will already be warm and ready to be eaten immediately with a massive glob of cream cheese shmear. Also, its an unspoken rule that you never buy your bagels from multiple bagel joints- you obviously must commit to one family-run bagel place.” – Piper

“As you know I eat like 200 bagels a year at Einsteins. It’s like our second home. Although bagels should be boiled. And one of the reasons NYC bagels are so good is the water.” – Ken

“The first time I ever had a REAL bagel was in Seattle. Amazing. I didn’t know then that a real bagel is boiled before it’s baked. I made them myself a few times after that but, even though they tasted good, they were very ugly. Not smooth like a store bought one. Tell me how to fix that problem.” -Susan (I’ll do some more experimenting & let ya know! 😉 )

“When we go on overnight at camp (it’s the teen portion of camp walking out to a spot in the woods and camping out), the counselors make all of the food. In the mornings, I would always look forward to a blueberry bagel grilled so it had just started to brown and some cream cheese! It was always really welcome, especially because you had to stay close to the warm charcoal fire to make it perfect (so it didn’t burn) and then it was always so yummy! It was a really fun way to toast bagels and the campsite itself is quite pretty, in the middle of the woods.”Colleen

“We would get all kindds of assorted bagels quite often growing up because the Bagels Forever factory is in Madison and my dad would always get himself everything bagels with all the onion and garlic and seeds, so my mom would make him keep them in a separate bag. He’d eat them with lox and cream cheese—-I eat them with butter. My favorite bagel! And the pool I went to was across the street from the factory/shop and bagels were 25 cents each so when I was a kid on swim team we would hunt for quarters by the vending machines cuz if you found one you got a bagel!”Mari

Good, Real Bagels™ (aka boiled bagels)
Makes 8 bagels
Adapted from sophisticatedgourmet.com

Ingredients
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1.5 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups (300mL) warm water
3 ½ cups (500g) bread flour, plus more for kneading
1.5 tsp. salt

For optional toppings:
1 egg, beaten
Sesame seeds
Poppy seeds

Method
1. Warm ½ cup of the water so that it is the temperature of bath water, meaning it is quite warm but you can keep your finger comfortably submerged. Stir in the sugar and then sprinkle the yeast on top. Let sit 5-10 minutes until foamy.

2. In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt together. Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast and sugar mixture as well as about half of the remaining water.

3. Mix the dough together, adding the rest of the water bit by bit if needed. Then turn onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until you have a stiff, smooth dough that is no longer sticky to the touch.

4. Wipe out the bowl from before, it doesn’t have to be spotless, just so all the loose crumbs are gone. Lightly brush bowl with oil and place the dough ball inside. Cover with plastic wrap also coated with some oil or a damp dish towel. Let the dough rise for 1 hour in a warm place until it has doubled in size. Gently punch dough down and let it rest for another 10 minutes.

5. Divide the dough into 8 pieces, as uniform as possible. Shape each piece into a tight ball. Coat a finger in flour and gently press your finger into the center of each dough ball to create the ring shape. Stretch the ring so the hole is about 1/3 the width of the bagel. Place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet.

6. After shaping the rings, cover the cookie sheet with plastic wrap coated in oil or a damp kitchen towel and let rest for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F/220 degrees C.

7. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then reduce the heat. Use a slotted spoon to lower the bagels gently into the water, being careful not to deflate them. Boil as many as can fit in one layer in the pot. Let the bagels float on one side for 1-2 minutes, then flip using the spoon and let float for another 1-2 minutes. Remove from water and return to cookie sheet, letting as much water drip off as possible.

8. At this point, add any toppings by brushing the bagels with egg wash and sprinkling the toppings on top.

9. Ready to bake! Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy.

Redemption Trail Mix + Cooking Mishaps

The very first time I ‘cooked’ for my family was an absolute disaster.

I’m not sure quite how old I was, but I’m guessing around 7 or 8 years old. I remember having watched my mom prepare dinner for us almost every night and my grandparents host impressively large meals for our giant extended family whenever everyone was in town. It was always such a nice feeling, sitting around together eating food. And so I thought to myself, “I wanna make something my family can have fun eating together!”

Ohhhhh, ohohoho, little Molly. I mean you tried, right?

Cherry Chocolate Redemption Trail Mix | memo2munch

Let’s think about this situation briefly. I was seven and roughly the height of our kitchen counter. I had no idea how to cook. So I did the obvious thing and mixed together all of my favorite snack foods at the time, creating the most horribly well-intentioned trail mix in history.

It had everything you’ve never wanted in your trail mix, and more:

-Bits of torn up white bread
-Crushed Pringles
-Goldfish crackers
-Pretzel twists
-Rustic pieces of broken pretzel rods

(Yep, two types of pretzel. For that textural difference, am I right?)

Long story short, it was awful, and I was super proud as I distributed my masterpiece among three plastic bowls decorated with cartoon animals to serve to my mom, dad, and sister.

They were so nice about it, the sweethearts. I remember them smiling while taking small bites and mmm-ing and ahh-ing over how yummy it was. And I was just there like, “Ok ya that’s great, fam, but like why is there still so much left in your bowls?”

Cherry Chocolate Redemption Trail Mix | memo2munch

Then I tried it, a bite with a fragment of white bread and a Pringle shard, and I understood.

I really love this story because it shows that no one is a hopeless cook. Anyone can learn. Sometimes people compliment my cooking and then say they wish they could cook. And I just think about how I began by making trail mix with ravaged white bread… You can cook!!!

I have so many stories about cooking mishaps like this, most of them embarrassingly dumb. But it’s ok because they’re hilarious, and I learn from them and keep going.

Like, this one time I was making these microwave French fries—I kid you not, they were these frozen, microwaveable French fries by Ore-Ida that I used to eat…USED TO–and listen to how simple it was to prepare them. You adjust the packaging a little bit by pressing in one side of the box so it lies flat against the fries, and stick the whole thing in the microwave for a few minutes, and BAM. Crispy fries. I know there are a lot of things wrong with this, but that’s not the point right now.

The point is that one time I managed to burn every single fry in the box to an absolute crisp. Black as coal, all of ’em. The whole house smelled awful. The smoke detector went off. I was home alone and confused and deeply ashamed. I think this happened early on in high school? I’m telling you, anyone can cook.

Cherry Chocolate Redemption Trail Mix | memo2munch

Here’s one more, from the first time I made bread. The directions said “rotate the bread halfway through baking.” So what did I do? I didn’t turn the pan around. No, I left that where it was, and I literally flipped the loaf of bread upside down on the pan.

I’m so serious, friends. That’s how I interpreted the directions, and I deflated my first ever loaf of bread. I remember telling my mom what I’d done and the look in her eyes said, “How do you think to do things like this??!”

So please, if I can rally from things like this, never doubt that you can cook.

Today I’m sharing a recipe for redemption trail mix. It still has snacks I like—chocolate, dried cherries, almonds, cinnamon chex—but it actually tastes good, I promise! I tried some before I gave it to anyone else this time. 😉

Do you have any cooking failures you’d like to share? Or a general memory including food? Tell me about it, anonymously or not, by clicking here!

Cherry Chocolate Redemption Trail Mix | memo2munch

Cherry Chocolate Redemption Trail Mix

Ingredients
4 cups cinnamon chex cereal (or any chex cereal of your choice)
2 tbsp. butter or Earth Balance
2 tbsp. packed brown sugar
½ cup roasted, unsalted almonds
½ cup dark chocolate chunks, plus more for the drizzle
½ cup dried cherries

Method
1. Line a large baking tray with wax paper and set aside.
2. In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter and brown sugar together over medium-low heat until smooth. Gently stir in the chex cereal and almonds and continue cooking until cereal and almonds are coated, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool 5 minutes.
3. Spread the mixture evenly on the prepared tray. Sprinkle the chocolate chunks and dried cherries over the cereal mixture.
4. In a microwave safe bowl, heat about 2 tbsp. chocolate chunks in 30 second increments in the microwave, stirring the chocolate after each 30 seconds, until melted and smooth. Drizzle evenly over the trail mix with a fork. Let cool until the chocolate drizzle hardens completely, then break up the trail mix and enjoy. Store in an airtight container.

EASIEST Vegan Banana Bread Muffins

Do you have a food memory you would like to see appear on memo2munch? Fill out the form here or 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, recipes shared on the site may 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.

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.)

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

Shakshuka!!

Right now I’m bundled up in my big, green, elf sweater (like, cool woodland elf, not north pole elf), listening to the Beatles and dreaming about shakshuka. And everything is perfect because it’s 2pm, and I haven’t left the house yet. ~FRIDAZE~

Unfortunately, there is lots of work to be done before the end of the semester, so I guess I shouldn’t spend allllll day doing what I’m doing. *Cue side-eye at anatomy*

shakshuka | memo2munch

How was your Thanksgiving?! Mine was great and oh-so yum. Hope yours was, too. I helped my grandpa make the turkey and stuffing, and since cooking is a serious matter, we wore serious outfits to boot:

IMG_9986

Our group of eleven sat around a huge dining room table, ate, talked, and had a grand old time, passing dishes toppling with delicious food back and forth until we were full of nutriment and gratitude. Those are nice things to be filled with. 🙂

shakshuka | memo2munch

When the air outside is uber chilly, and we have to wait another year to be filled with Thanksgiving food again (but not gratitude!), some comfort food is certainly in order. But you’ve been around, and you know there must be more to comfort food than mac n’ cheese and potatoes in any form. Enter: shakshuka!!! I just can’t type it without the exclamation points. It’s too exciting. We’re talking spices, aromatic tomato sauce, runny yolks –> warming you from the inside out! <3

Plus it’s fun to say. (And healthy—shhhh!)

shakshuka | memo2munch

shakshuka | memo2munch

Shakshuka is a North African dish in origin, and it’s often eaten in Isreal for breakfast. As a girl who believes breakfast food is anytime food, I’m planning to make this whenever the heck I want. So, basically, way too often. Give it a try the next time you’re looking for a meal you want to dive right into!

shakshuka | memo2munch

Shakshuka

(Adapted from the New York Times)

Ingredients
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. paprika
1/8 tsp. cayenne, or to taste
1 (28-ounce) can chopped plum tomatoes with juices
3/4 tsp. salt, more as needed
1/4 tsp. black pepper, more as needed
5-6 large eggs
Chopped cilantro, for serving
Pita or other bread, for serving

Method
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. On the stove in a large cast iron or other oven-proof skillet, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add onion and bell pepper. Cook gently until very soft, about 20 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 to 2 minutes until tender. Add cumin, paprika, and cayenne and stir. Pour in tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Let simmer about 10 minutes until tomatoes have thickened.
3. Gently crack the eggs into the skillet over tomatoes. Season each egg with salt and pepper. Using an oven mitt or pad, transfer skillet to oven and bake until eggs are just set, round 7 to 10 minutes. Toast bread while shakshuka is in the oven.
4. After the shakshuka has been removed from the oven, sprinkle with cilantro and serve with a slice of toasted bread.

Rum-Soaked Pumpkin Bread with Espresso Swirl

Rum-Soaked Pumpkin Bread with Espresso Swirl

I have a confession to make.

Coffee has been a recently acquired taste for me.

I know, as a college student it is shameful, isn’t it? Think of all the 8AM’s I could have been more awake for! And all the late nights studying! Think of all the trips to hipster coffee shops where I could have blended in!

~cue flashback~

Hipster barista: Can I help you?
Molly: Hi, yes, is there coffee in a macchiato?
Hipster barista: …Yes.
Molly: Ok, I’ll have a 12 ounce cider, please. To go. (BUSTED)

~end flashback~

Ooh, it hurts like a profile picture from 2008, doesn’t it? I know. BUT the good news is the wrongs have been righted, and I’m now very capable of appreciating the taste of coffee and not just the smell.

Rum-Soaked Pumpkin Bread with Espresso Swirl

Rum-Soaked Pumpkin Bread with Espresso Swirl

I finally learned to enjoy coffee when I had espresso in Italy, and if that bouche-y statement doesn’t help me fit in at hipster coffee shops then I don’t know what will. I never had much interest in learning to like coffee because I didn’t want to become one of those people who has to have their coffee before you can talk to them in the morning. Dependency on anything to that degree fah-reaks me out. But the little espresso cups were so cute I had to order one, and one thing led to another, and…

Now I like coffee! Huzzah! I shoulda seen it coming when I started liking really bitter chocolate. Surely that was step one.

Rum-Soaked Pumpkin Bread with Espresso Swirl

Now that you know entirely too much about my coffee history, I’m gonna give you a recipe for rum-soaked pumpkin bread WITH COFFEE SWIRLS STRAIGHT OUTTA YOUR DREEEAMS.

It’s all worth it now, right?!

Rum-soaked pumpkin bread I have had—-shout out to Bluboy—-and it is gooooood. Turns out, when you swirl espresso and brown sugar into rum-soaked pumpkin bread it. is. I-N-C-R-E-D-I-B-L-E.

This bread would make a perfect addition to your Thanksgiving dessert spread. And then for breakfast the next morning. (If there’s any left, that is.) Enjoy, and Happy Thanksgiving!!

Rum-Soaked Pumpkin Bread with Espresso Swirl

Rum-Soaked Pumpkin Bread with Espresso Swirl

Rum-Soaked Pumpkin Bread with Espresso Swirl
(Adapted from Pastry Affair)

Pumpkin Bread
3/4 c. (185 grams) pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
6 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 c. (100 grams) brown sugar, packed
1/3 c. (67 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. (130 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger*
1/4 tsp. ground allspice*
1/2 tsp. salt

Espresso Swirl**
1/4 c. (55 grams) brown sugar, packed
1/2 – 1 tbsp. espresso powder
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

Rum Simple Syrup
1/4 c. (60 mL) water
1/4 c. (50 grams) granulated sugar
1 tbsp. rum

Method
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease a loaf pan and line with parchment paper. Set aside
2. Make the pumpkin cake: beat together the pumpkin, eggs, oil, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl until completely combined. Gently stir in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt. Set aside.
3. Make the espresso swirl: whisk together the brown sugar, espresso powder, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.
4. In the loaf pan, spoon half of the pumpkin batter evenly in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle generously with espresso filling. You might not need all of it. Top with remaining pumpkin batter and smooth with a spatula.
5. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. While the bread is baking, make the rum simple syrup.
6. Make the simple syrup: Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan and heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in rum.
7. When the cake comes out of the oven, brush generously with the rum simple syrup. The syrup will trickle down the sides of the bread and along the bottom on its own to coat the loaf on all sides. Once bread is completely cooled, remove from pan and serve in slices.

*Can be replaced with 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
**Save any extra! It makes a great topping for oatmeal