A Quick Foray into Vegan Baking

Long-time readers of the blog will remember that every now and then I get on a “plant-based kick.” As I continue to read more and more about the health, ecological, and economical benefits of removing animal-based products from one’s diet, I keep getting the urge to do so. But one of the things that would be quite difficult for me to give up would be baking and making desserts. So, I am “testing the waters” so to speak.

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What a Weekend!

As I alluded to last week, I spent a good portion of my weekend in NYC. Our first stop was Brooklyn where we spent the afternoon with two other couples playing board games, consuming yummy brunch bites, and the cookies I made for the occasion.

After that, my boyfriend and I made the trek up to the Bronx so we could see the NY Botanical Gardens Train Show and NYBG GLOW event. This is something that I never knew I wanted to do…in fact, I didn’t even know the Train Show was a thing. I’ve heard about the Gardens before, but never went. Come to find out, the Train Show is kind of a big draw for New Yorkers and those of us in the suburbs alike.

Sunday was movie day. We met up with yet another couple to watch the new West Side Story movie and I highly recommend it. The movie blew me away and I have no complaints. Afterwards, the four of us went to dinner at a restaurant near the movie theater. The food was mediocre, but the company was wonderful.

While I was driving home from the dinner, it hit me. This was the first time in nearly two years where my weekend was this busy. Everyone I had socialized with was vaccinated and boosted so we all decided we would be as safe as we could be. It was definitely nice to relive the “old times” before the modern plague. Hopefully one day, we can get back to doing this more regularly.


This week my workplace is having its annual Holiday Party. We are fortunate enough to have it catered but some of us are still bringing desserts or appetizers. Obviously, I am bringing a dessert. I decided on the original Banana Pudding recipe from the Magnolia Bakery Handbook. I realized that I haven’t made the basic version yet, just some variations on the original. Plus, this dessert is somewhat easy to make and it looks stunning when done!

Though the banana pudding does not require any true “baking,” this weekend I’ll be making and decorating sugar cookies. Pics to come!

Friday Night Cooking Plans

To be honest, I can’t even remember the last time I cooked for my family on a Friday night and blogged about it. During the colder months, I was doing it pretty consistently. There was good reason: I was (slowly) making my way through Ina Garten’s recipes. As life started to return to “normal” when the warm weather came, I started doing more and was spending less time at home, thus I was cooking less.

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PW Recipe 5 – Macaroni and Cheese

Sometimes you just have a strong desire to just eat “bad” food. “Bad” as in not-that-great-for-you food. Well, that hankering happened for me over the weekend. I was in the mood for macaroni and cheese. It had been months since the last time I had a good, baked mac & cheese. Luckily for me this desire also came with the ability to make another Pioneer Woman recipe. This recipe also came from my favorite cookbook of hers: Recipes From an Accidental Country Girl, her first one.

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Kitchen Updates

My family has decided to take a little trip out of town. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to join them, due to work commitments. But, while I won’t be able to get away, I will be able to cook a lot while I’m home by myself.

Now that I’ll be responsible for my own meals over the next seven days or so, I am going to use my day off today to figure out what types of meals I wish to make. Of course, I will need to include some baking in there, too! In fact, I have been recipe testing a chocolate chip cookie recipe and I’m getting closer to the finished product! Hopefully by the end of the month if will be up on the blog.

I recently purchased some lighting instruments for my food photography. After I made the cookie recipe last night, I decided to play around with some things. This was one of the shots my friend and I took.
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Ryan Cooks PW Recipe 3

  • Name of Recipe: Buttered Parsley Noodles
  • Cookbook: Dinnertime
  • TV Episode: N/A
  • Rating: 3.0 out of 5

Late last week I shared with you my second recipe from Pioneer Woman: Beef Stroganoff.

Traditionally, stroganoff is served over a bed of egg noodles or other pasta which helps to make it a “complete meal.” (I say “complete meal” because I doubt the amount of vegetables in a single serving of stroganoff counts as a full serving, but I digress…) So I was a little surprised to find that PW’s recipe for stroganoff didn’t include any pasta. In fact, she recommends serving it with her Buttered Parsley Noodles.

At first, I was a little hesitant. Regular pasta is thicker than egg noodles and with beef as the main ingredient, I didn’t want the bite to be too hearty. But, I figured I’d give it a go anyway. Plus, when you are cooking-through someone’s recipe backlog, anytime you can sneak in an extra recipe or two is extremely beneficial.

This is a simple side dish that is very low fuss. It’s basically buttered noddles, but with a heightened flavor profile. This recipe calls for pappardelle noodles, which is a pasta shape I have not used before in my cooking. Much thicker than linguine, pappardelle is great when you want to substitute out something like egg noddles. Unlike egg noodles, though, pappardelle is a long pasta, similar to spaghetti or fettuccine so just be prepared for that.

Combining garlic, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper, and of course, butter and parsley, these noodles a quick side dish that comes together before you know it. I only gave it a 3 out of 5 because it didn’t really add to the beef stroganoff recipe I made. I think I would have preferred traditional egg noddles in that instances. But, on it’s own, this side dish is great!

See the picture above for how it turned out!

Ryan Cooks PW Recipe 2

For my second Pioneer Woman recipe, I decided to make one of my favorite dishes: Beef Stroganoff.

  • Name of Recipe: Beef Stroganoff
  • Cookbook: Dinnertime
  • TV Episode: Kitchen Confessional: Dinner Through the Decades (Season 10, Episode 4)
  • Rating: 1.75 out of 5

As someone who did not grow up eating a lot of red meat, beef stroganoff was not something I can really remember having as a child or even a teenager. I fell in love with beef stroganoff a number of years ago when my best friend made it for dinner for us. He claims that the recipe is from his grandmother, but he leaves out certain ingredients such as mushrooms since he doesn’t like them. Needless to say, this has been the version I’ve been making for a few years.

Until I stumbled upon Ree’s recipe. Featured in her cookbook, Dinnertime! this recipe looks amazing and it is super simple.

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Ryan Cooks PW Recipe 1

  • Name of Recipe: Teriyaki Salmon and Kale Sheet Pan Supper
  • Cookbook: Come and Get It
  • TV Episode: N/A
  • Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The first recipe on this journey was an easy one. I also loved that it was a sheet pan recipe, so clean up was extremely minimal.

This recipe was so easy and almost hands-off, so there were no pitfalls except for the fact that I think I need to add more kale to the sheet pan. That stuff really cooks down, like spinach, and I forgot about that.

There were basically three main steps to this dish: kale on the pan and season, add salmon and cover with teriyaki, bake! Super, super simple. It’s a wonderful week-night meal since it can be ready in under 25 minutes. It is also an easily scalable recipe. As a first recipe, this one was the perfect choice. It was not very involved and it tasted amazing so it gave me the renewed confidence that I needed for this project.

Here are some pictures below, since I’m trying to take more of them during the cooking process.

The seasoned kale on the sheet pan
The sheet pan with the teriyaki-covered salmon, ready for the oven!

See? An easy recipe with only a few ingredients and only one dirty dish. This is a true winner!

The finished meal with a side of white rice.

We served this meal with a side of white rice, but it would be even better with brown rice or quinoa!

I can see why people flock to Ree’s website and TV show. Her recipes are simple and are designed for modern parents — quick recipes, easy clean up makes for a real winner in my book. I have a feeling I’ll be coasting through these Sheet Pan suppers in no time! Who wouldn’t want a beautiful and tasty meal with little cleanup?

Weekend Recipes 7/16/2021

After a much longer than anticipated hiatus from baking and cooking for the blog, I am excited that this weekend I am planning to make no less than 5 (yes, 5!!) recipes. All of which are Barefoot Contessa recipes.

Today I am going to make one of the two cookie recipes that I’ve been eyeing for sometime. I plan to use the duck eggs that I talked about in an earlier post. I’m really excited to work with them!

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The Easiest (and Tastiest!) Sausage and Peppers

Summer is officially here! If you’re anything like me, then you are probably excited to do all those things that we couldn’t do last year. And you’re probably looking for a quick and easy dinner than can be thrown together in no time at all.

If so, then I have the perfect dish for you: Sausage and Peppers!

This recipe is great because it’s a one pan meal and it can be thrown together ahead of time, kept in the fridge until needed, and clean up is a breeze! Plus, it can easily be adapted to your own tastes and the ingredients you already have on hand. I used chicken sausage that comes pre-cooked, so you’re basically just reheating it. It’s a bit of a time saver and usually these types of sausages have more flavor combinations that regular sausage.

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