Mug Cakes: 14 ingredients, 4 cakes (V)

IMG_1164 (1)Is it just me, or does it feel as though we’ve been home for a month already? It’s only day 10 of this quasi-quarantine, and I almost can’t grasp the idea that my life was proceeding at a normal pace just over a week ago. My heart goes out to all of the people suffering from the virus, those in actual quarantine: I can’t begin to imagine how difficult that is! Regardless of the level of affect you’re feeling from these circumstances, I hope that, if you’re able, you’ll try spending some of the extra hours in your kitchen. In fact, you’ll only need about five minutes for today’s desserts!IMG_1111

I explained last week that I hoped to provide some recipes that wouldn’t require unusual ingredients because I don’t want to provide any temptation to disrupt the social distancing efforts! I knew that this mission would eventually lead me to mug cakes, and I couldn’t hold out for long–today is the day. Not only are these single-serve treats incredibly convenient to make at home; they have been a blast to create! The quantity of wasted ingredients and time often limits the number of trials I can execute in my recipes (usually about three tries max), but these cakes provided opportunity for lots of attempts and tweaks with relatively minimal consequence. It’s a win-win situation for us: I end up with less guilt and more experimental freedom, and you end up receiving recipes that have been thoroughly tweaked until they’re the most delicious they can be!

There’s also something quite appealing about single-serving desserts. They’re personal; they come together quickly; you don’t have to share with anyone (maybe my favorite factor); and they eliminate the struggle of self-control that so easily taints indulgence with guilt. Plus, I assume that the idea of baking an entire cake or pie isn’t exactly realistic for those of you stuck at home by yourself for the foreseeable future! There’s simply very little, if anything at all, that one can criticize about adorably tiny, warm, yummy cake. IMG_1154

I’d argue that this concept of single servings is applicable beyond food right now, though. With such chaos ensuing in our world and so much extra time in our schedules to observe that chaos, I find myself consuming news updates and mindless entertainment by the heaping spoonfuls. The magnetism of my phone, of every notification, is something of which I’ve become increasingly cognizant: I don’t know that I’ve gone more than a few minutes without it next to me since this ordeal began.

Perhaps this is something you’ve found yourself experiencing as well–I think the majority of us have been roped in by the incessant online dialogue in some capacity. And while it’s responsible to stay informed about the goings on in society, especially in times such as these, it’s just as responsible to care for yourself by limiting your media consumption. By nature, pandemics are rapidly progressing: things are changing by the hour in every affected city. But will knowing about these changes immediately, each as they occur, really contribute anything to us beyond stress and depression? Not likely. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of bad news right now. This means that it’s entirely possible for us to remain in a steady track of receiving this negative information if we expose ourselves to it. IMG_1175

Please, for your own health, come up for air now and then.

As reckless as it might feel (and I completely sympathize with this feeling), put your phone away for a few hours, even just one. Go outside. Read something that’s not current events. Call your family (without going to speaker so you can still check your phone). Give your complete attention to something that’s not a newsfeed. And know that you can do so without even a bit of guilt. The world will continue on, and you will eventually learn what you missed. Like the saying goes, everything is best in moderation. And it’s the moments we allow ourselves to indulge in the things that this virus hasn’t uprooted–those sweet, single-serve joys– that will eventually see us through it.

Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.

Habakkuk 3:17-18


Mug Cakes: 14 Ingredients, 4 cakes (V)



  • 2 TBSP all-purpose flour
  • 3 TBSP cocoa powder
  • 2 TBSP light brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 TBSP applesauce
  • 2 tsp oil (I used extra light olive oil)
  • 2 TBSP almond milk
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
  • a few walnuts, broken into pieces (optional, or you can use another nut)


  1. Mix all dry ingredients together in a mug with a fork.
  2. Mix in wet ingredients.
  3. Mix in walnuts, and sprinkle the last of them on top.
  4. Microwave until cooked through, about 1 minute 30 seconds.



  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 TBSP light brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch cloves
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrot (lightly fill cup, don’t pack it)
  • 3 TBSP almond milk
  • a few walnuts, broken into pieces (optional, or you can use another nut)


  1. Mix together all dry ingredients in a mug with a fork.
  2. Mix in carrots and almond milk.
  3. Mix in walnuts, sprinkling the final pieces on top.
  4. Microwave until cooked through, about 1 minute 30 seconds.



  • 1/2 small banana
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • pinch cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 2 TBSP light brown sugar
  • 2 TBSP almond milk
  • a few walnuts, broken into pieces (optional, or you can use another nut)


  1. Mix together all dry ingredients in a mug with a fork.
  2. Mix in the almond milk.
  3. Mash the banana into the mixture.
  4. Mix in the walnuts, leaving the last bit to sprinkle on the top.
  5. Microwave until cooked through, about 2 minutes.



  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 TBSP light brown sugar
  • 4 TBSP applesauce
  • 1/2 tsp oil (I used extra light olive oil)
  • 2 TBSP almond milk
  • a few walnuts, broken into pieces (optional, or you can use another nut)


  1. Mix together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and 2 TBSP light brown sugar in a mug with a fork.
  2. Mix oil, milk and 3 TBSP applesauce into the dry ingredients.
  3. Mix in walnuts, sprinkling the last bits on top.
  4. Spread the last TBSP of applesauce on top of the mixture.
  5. Sprinkle the last TBSP of light brown sugar on top of the applesauce.
  6. Microwave until cooked through, about 2 minutes.






Cinnamon Toast Monkey Bread (V)

IMG_7300 (1)So, I’ve been thinking–and we all know how frightening it can be when I get to thinking–about something a lot this week. I’ve been pondering just how many missed opportunities we experience every day simply because we choose not to engage in conversations and interactions. Of course, we all have moments of stress or exhaustion, when we voluntarily dive into the hypnotic void of Instagram’s discover page or endless strings of unopened Snapchat stories and lose our real engagement with the world as it moves around us. But so often the chances we are given to connect with people are passed by when we’re actually present in our surroundings but just not willing to take the risk.

Perhaps it would be better for me to give you a real example; my infatuation with this topic wasn’t without a trigger, after all. This Thursday, I had to take a bus to Oakland right from rehearsal. (Cru, a Pitt ministry I attend, was that night, and I was meeting with a mentor before it began). When I boarded and headed to my favorite row, I immediately noticed a notebook sitting on the seat beside me. It was well-worn and bursting from the mass of its contents, held together by a vital string of elastic stretched across the cover, which was black with a collage of bold print white words. It emanated personality, so much so that I felt like I’d somehow already met the journal’s owner just by holding it in my hands. IMG_7221

After asking nearby passengers if it belonged to them and getting only no’s, my first instinct was to turn the notebook in to the driver when I reached my stop–after all, that’s the safest way for someone to get a lost item back from the bus station (I’m speaking from experience as someone who’s been blessed enough to retrieve my lost wallet and purse from the bus in years past). But, I had a long ride ahead of me before my destination. So, I opened the book and unveiled an inside cover lined with vibrant stickers, some Post-Its, and a collection of folded papers. I continued flipping through and found page upon page of hand-written songs, poems, and sketches. Trying my best to avoid reading and violating the privacy of this mystery writer, I continued flipping back and forth, mesmerized by the sheer quantity of work and emotion that had been poured into the pages. And with each minute that passed, each stop we reached, I found myself hating more and more the idea of leaving this beautiful, personal, vulnerable piece of someone in the hands of the Port Authority bus system.

In that instant, then, I transformed into a true private investigator, determined to track down the owner of this journal and return it safely. Within seconds of searching, I found the name of the writer, but I had no success finding any contact or even a social media account that held promise of finding him. With a second perusal through the memorabilia beneath the front cover, though, my eye caught an exciting bit of evidence: a sticky note with five names and five phone numbers. Excited by the thrill of this new lead, I formatted a group text between all the phone numbers, explaining the situation and asking for a means to contact the suspect. After a cautious “Who is this?” and further elaboration, I managed to acquire the phone number I was after and initiate communication. I spent the remainder of my ride giddy with the success of my mission and the bizarre nature of texting five people I’d never met in my life.IMG_7271

Fast forward two hours and multiple messages: I exited the brisk evening air and walked inside to join the horde of students waiting for Cru to begin. Squinting with concentration, I locked my eyes on the stretch of hall before me, trying to find him, the one “in the dumb magenta shirt with a blue backpack” (his words not mine). After a few minutes, I spotted him, politely pushing through the swarm of conversation–the face of the pages. He saw me and hurried over, smiling widely and offering a string of gratitude as I retrieved the catalyst of our entire communication from my bag. He eagerly took it back, asked if it was weird to give me a hug, did with my go ahead, told me he might come to Cru some time, and then headed out the revolving door.

On that night, the whimsical side of me imagined every possible outcome of the evening: I mean, how amazing would it be if we fell madly in love at first sight and had the hands-down best story to tell about how we met?? Since that night, I’ve dreamed about how this guy could become a famous songwriter and I could emerge as the silent hero who saved his music on the Outbound 54C that September day. Again, me with the thinking can get out of control. All joking aside, though, what that day really showed me–regardless of the lack of Disney fairy-tale content–was how one decision to connect with a stranger, whatever that may look like, can be rewarding beyond your imagination. The fact that at 6pm I had no idea who Jordan ***** was, but by 8 I was hugging him and inviting him to Cru and seeing the relief of his work being returned was so cool. Just think about how many people we could get to know if we only saw the opportunities…

Definitely glad I didn’t turn in that notebook.

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people

Ephesians 1:18


Cinnamon Toast Monkey Bread (V)



  • 1 packet fast-rising yeast
  • 1 cup almond milk, separated
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter
  • 1/4 cup vegan sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • about 4 cups of all-purpose flour


  • 1/3 cup vegan butter, melted
  • 1 box of Giant Eagle brand “Cinnamon Toast Squares” cereal


  • 1/2 cup vegan brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup vegan butter, melted


  • remaining cereal
  • almond milk



  1. Place half of the milk and the vegan butter in a microwave-safe measuring cup or bowl. Heat for 30 second intervals, stirring between, until the butter is melted. Pour the mixture into a large bowl, and stir in sugar.
  2. When the mixture cools to warm but not hot, stir in yeast. Let sit for five minutes. Mix in salt and remaining milk.
  3. Begin mixing in flour, a cup at a time, until the dough comes together and can be transferred to a floured counter top.
  4. Knead the dough, incorporating flour to keep it from sticking to your counter. Knead until the dough is very smooth and elastic and passes the window pane test. ( )
  5. Use butter to grease your mixing bowl. Place dough in bowl, flip twice to grease both sides, and cover bowl with saran wrap or damp towel. Allow to rise until doubled in size, usually 1-1 1/2 hours.
  6. Grease a bundt pan with vegan butter generously, making sure all crevices are covered.
  7. Remove a handful of cereal from the bag; set aside. Using bags and a heavy object (I opted for my marble rolling pin), crush the remaining cereal in the bag into very small crumbs. Place them in a bowl. Melt 1/3 cup vegan butter in another bowl.
  8. When dough has finished proving, gently punch it down, and cut into golf-ball sized chunks (this does NOT have to be exact).
  9. Sprinkle crushed cereal on the bottom of the greased bundt pan. Roll each dough chunk in bowl of melted butter and then in the crushed cereal; arrange them in the pan until you’ve used all the dough. It will only reach about half of the pan’s height (Save extra crumbs).
  10. Cover pan with saran wrap, and place on stove to rest for 15 minutes.
  11. Preheat oven to 350°F. Melt 2/3 cups vegan butter in microwave, and whisk in brown sugar until dissolved.
  12. After dough has rested, pour butter/brown sugar mixture evenly over top of the dough balls. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until the top is nicely-browned.
  13. Meanwhile, take the remaining cereal, and place it in a food processor/Nutribullet. Pour in enough almond milk to cover the cereal, and pulse until blended. Continue adding almond milk until a desired consistency is reached (this will be poured on top of the monkey bread). Whisk in salt to taste.
  14. When bread has baked, remove from the oven, and let is rest in the pan for about 5 minutes. Then, invert onto a plate or tray, drizzle with milk/cereal glaze, and top with handful of cereal set aside. Eat immediately!

**If you don’t plan to eat it all right away, store bread and glaze separately in the fridge until you’re ready to eat it!



Mexican Hot Chocolate Mousse (V)

881958A7-790A-405B-8B41-6520B99A2FF1.jpegI’d like to think that I’m on a constant quest to improve my decisiveness–but I’m not quite sure…HA. All joking aside, making decisions is something with which I have forever struggled. The magnitude of a situation rarely plays a role in my weakness: choosing my vote for which appetizer we order at a family dinner can be just as grueling as deciding which pension plan to select for my new job. Strangely enough, often the most inconsequential decisions bring me the most stress, simply because they demand an immediate answer.

I’d also like to think that baking–in particular, baking for a blog–has helped me in my quest. Recipe development not only lends itself to many decisions; it also presents frequent, unplanned problems that require me to make baking choices and fully run with them, despite having no time to prepare. It took me a LOT of time to become comfortable committing to ideas that I haven’t the least idea will work. The habit is something that continues to make me a bit anxious, but it’s a little easier every time I make a definitive choice while creating a recipe (whether I’m faking the confidence or not).ED06F554-355F-4D8B-AFB4-37F1865C96BB.jpeg

I’m sure you won’t be shocked at all to hear that this week went absolutely nothing like I’d planned. I started with a detailed idea of the dessert I would create: as usual, it was rather complicated, but I had no backup option upon which I could fall back if things went awry (there are still loads of lessons in baking I haven’t learned). And, as usual, things went awry: the result was nothing like what I’d hoped, and my time to work on the recipe was shortened far beyond what I’d expected due to other plans. Mousse was actually supposed to be just one of many elements in my recipe–a base for a more elaborate masterpiece. But the farther along I got in my efforts, the darker the night grew outside, the more pages my roommate Annie turned in her book as she kept me company, the less my “dessert” looked anything like the image I’d conjured up in my mind.

I’m not kidding, y’all.

What emerged from the freezer after hours of work, the sum of dozens of split decisions for that day–it was HORRIFYING. I swear upon my Pittsburgh Steeler oven mitts that I’m not exaggerating. When I say it was ugly, I’m talking the worst Pinterest baking fails, “Nailed It,” Worst Cooks in America tray of unidentifiable sludge you can imagine. Flavor aside, it was perhaps the least appetizing thing I’d ever allowed to grace one of my cookie sheets.

But remember, I’m working on the whole decisiveness thing–the being o.k. with spontaneity thing. So, as calmly as Stevie Nicks croons from my Spotify playlist on the counter, I scooped up the catastrophe into a container (so as to use the flavor for reference tomorrow), shut the freezer door, and smiled at Annie as if everything had  gone just as swimmingly as I’d hoped. Then, I changed my vision (the first and hardest step of making room for decisiveness), and made this mousse the next day.

I hope that my anecdote–aside from giving you a chuckle at my cartoon-like baking life–gives hope to all those suffering with chronic indecisiveness. I assure you, though it can seem like the pain of choosing, of committing, of acting instantly will never let up, you can and WILL learn to overcome it. There–it’s decided. 🙂

For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.

1 Corinthians 14:33



Mexican Hot Chocolate Mousse (V)


  • aquafaba (liquid from 1 can of chickpeas; mine was 15.5 oz.)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • 4 oz. vegan chocolate (I use 10 rectangles of a Trader Joe’s Pound Plus Dark Chocolate Bar)
  • 2 tsp vegan brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 2 TBSP condensed almond milk (to make condensed almond milk: simmer 1 1/2 cups almond milk and 2/3 cup sugar until reduced to 1/2 cup total, about half an hour. Allow to cool in fridge)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (plus more for dusting)
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg


  1. Combine aquafaba and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Begin mixing on high.
  2. When mixture becomes white and opaque, add sugar gradually, continuing to mix on high speed.
  3. When mixture is glossy, and stiff peaks form, turn off mixer, and set aside. (Unlike egg whites or heavy cream, you don’t need to worry about over-mixing aquafaba). Scoop out two cups of the “fluff,” and put in a Tupperware in freezer to use as topping on mousse.
  4. In a glass bowl set over a bowl of boiling water, place chocolate, almond milk, cocoa powder, brown sugar, condensed almond milk, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and nutmeg.
  5. Stir all ingredients in the bowl as the chocolate melts. Stir frequently until smooth and until no solid chunks of chocolate remain.
  6. Remove from heat. Allow to cool in the bowl for a few minutes on the counter or in the freezer until it’s not hot. It’s ok if it’s still warm, just not piping hot.
  7. Scoop a heaping scoop of “fluff” into the bowl with the chocolate mixture. Using a spatula, gently fold it into the chocolate until almost uniform in color.
  8. Pour the folded mixture into the bowl with the rest of the “fluff.” Fold it in gently until almost completely uniform in color throughout.
  9. Pour/scoop mousse into cups, bowls, glasses, or a pan depending on how you’d like to serve it.
  10. Place in the fridge to set, and enjoy after a few hours! Top with frozen “fluff” and cinnamon as desired. (You can also freeze this mousse, but I find that it’s airiest when you allow it to set in the refrigerator).

NOTE*** For a simpler chocolate mousse, you can make follow this recipe, but use only the chocolate and almond milk in the double boiler and then fold into the “fluff.”


Golden Milk Cinnamon Rolls (V)

img_3991.pngThis has been quite a week for me! I went from being home with my family, going on vacation, and getting taken care of–to being away from many of my friends in a new apartment with a car and a job that starts in 5 days. I’ve certainly experienced my fair share of “growing up” moments, but I’d say the past 48 hours take the cake.

This month will certainly be interesting: with a sporadic day time schedule and a whole lot of work to do in the apartment, I’m going to be spending a LOT of time with boxes, clothes, bleach, and rags, things that talk far too little for my taste. I am often a textbook extrovert in that I thrive on being around others. Yesterday after my dad left for the airport, I spent no more than maybe 30 minutes without calling or Facetiming people. For the entirety of the day. My need for human interaction is a forceful one alright, and it’s certainly manifested when you put me in an unpacked apartment that’s almost 3 times bigger than our previous one.

IMG_3868I’m sure there are those of you reading this that envy my situation; I have plenty of friends who treasure  silence and relative isolation as they would a rare gem. In fact, both of my roommates this year can lean towards that direction. I simply don’t relate: as much as an occasional date with Netflix and my bed is pleasant, I stress the word occasional–it takes exhaustion to bring me to that point. I do want to stress that this kind of personality classification is not a clean dichotomy. It’s uncommon (and likely overwhelming) to meet a pure extrovert or introvert; usually the terms can get pretty mangled in overlap. So, in attempts to make use of this transition time–in a spare moment I’m not deep in a corner cleaning our rather “antique” apartment–I thought I may as well write about it. Here is a rough draft of my very scattered thoughts on the topic today: they’re about as dizzying as the spiral of a cinnamon roll.


Not a Cat Person

A quiz I took online told me that I am 

80% extroverted and 20% introverted

That I’m “energized and renewed” from being around people

And I believed it 


Until I closed the tab and my chest quivered,

Twitched just slightly beneath my ribs 

When it caught sight of the lack of notifications on my home screen, 

A blatant absence of excuses to remain 

numbly iMmersed


It was my body’s involuntary defense against the threatening encroach of silence

that was beginning to smirk it’s

slow, unwelcome smile

Like Alice’s friend the Cheshire Cat–

I never knew whether you were supposed to like the Cheshire Cat–

Because the sensation that I felt with the inevitable blackening of my screen

And corresponding encounter with the booming congregation of my own thoughts

the blaring insufficiency of external stimulation

death of immediate responsibility




Something that is charming and warm and fuzzy to some

But that is none of those things for me

That had seen its chance in my sunken breastbone and sprung into inaction

Like a feline ricocheting violently inside the hushed walls of my skull

That sensation


Was near indistinguishable from being in a room pulsing full of people


And so my diagnosed extroversion 

Lost the numerical luster of its prominence

And became quickly tarnished with a confusing, ironic rust

Perhaps as ironic as an extrovert writing a poem about cats


My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.

Exodus 33:14


Golden Milk Cinnamon Rolls (V)



  • 6 TBSP vegan butter
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 4 cups flour


  • 1 cup brown sugar (vegan if desired)
  • 6 TBSP vegan butter, melted
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 2 TBSP pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups powdered sugar (vegan if desired)


  1. Combine almond milk and butter in microwave-safe bowl/measuring cup. Microwave in 20 second intervals until butter is mostly melted, stir to completely melt butter.
  2. Allow to cool until warm to the touch but not hot (around 100°F-110°F if you don’t feel comfortable feeling it on your own)
  3. Place mixture in the bowl of a stand mixer, and stir in yeast. Leave for about 10 minutes. Yeast should appear spongy on top.
  4. Mix in maple syrup, salt, vanilla, and turmeric on low speed.
  5. Add 2 cups of flour, a cup at a time, mixing on low-medium speed until incorporated.
  6. Switch the bread hook attachment on your mixer, and continue adding  the remaining flour, mixing on low-medium speed and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  7. Increase mixing speed to medium, and continue mixing until dough is very smooth and elastic, around 6-8 minutes.
  8. Grease large bowl with oil; place dough in bowl, and cover with saran wrap.
  9. Allow to prove in a warm place until doubled in size (about 1 hour in my apartment), or prove it in the refrigerator overnight.
  10. Make filling: mix all filling ingredients together until even.
  11. Remove plastic wrap and roll out dough on a lightly floured surface into to a 12″ x 18″ rectangle.
  12. Spread filling in an even layer across the entire rectangle.
  13. Roll the dough lengthwise, starting with one of the 18″ sides. Slice into 9 even sections with string. (They should be 2″ each).
  14. Grease a square baking dish, and arrange rolls in the tray. Cover with saran wrap, and allow to rise for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350°F, and begin making glaze.
  15. Combine almond milk, maple syrup, turmeric, ginger, and black pepper in a bowl. Mix well. Do NOT add powdered sugar. Set aside.
  16. Remove saran wrap from rolls, and pour 1/4 cup of the almond milk mixture over the top of them.
  17.  Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes.
  18. While they bake, mix powdered sugar into remaining almond milk mixture to make glaze.
  19. Drizzle glaze over all the rolls, and enjoy!