sugar + spice

I had a bit of a baking extravaganza this weekend and it was long overdue! For Christmas this year, I decided to change things up a bit for my gifts. People are already overwhelmed with sweet treats at that time of year and instead of adding to the sugar overload, I decided to give bread with apple butter, pear butter, and pumpkin butter. Learning to can was fun and I liked that people could save the gift until after the month long food coma ended if they wanted to, but I must say I missed my marathon baking sessions and all of their resulting treats! So, this weekend was fun…and not totally without purpose. I do have some wonderful taste-testers for roommates/neighbors/friends, but my roommates in particular don’t always appreciate the temptation of hundreds of baked goods in our kitchen πŸ˜‰ Most of the treats I baked this weekend are being delivered as a thank you to the wonderful people who wrote recommendation letters for my dietetic internship process.

Now, the treats!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cupcakes + Cinnamon Sugared Chip Frosting (!!)

I made these on Saturday and my roommates and I pretty much thought they were the best thing ever. That frosting?! Insane. And I’m not really a huge frosting person. But then I baked again on Sunday.

Simply Sinful Cinnamon Muffins

Yeah. These immediately became the favorite as soon as they came out of the oven. That’s right…muffin > cupcake with outrageous frosting and chocolate.

Red Velvet Brownies + White Chocolate Buttercream

I don’t even know what to say about these brownies except that they are so incredibly delicious. I ALWAYS go for the center pieces of any cake, brownie, casserole, you name it. BUT, these brownies have such amazingly chewy edges and soft centers, I think I’ll be saving all corners for myself πŸ˜‰ Oh, and my baked goods, midwest food-loving, Iowa roommate said this was the best frosting she’s ever eaten. Ever. AND that it was better than Betty Crocker. Boom.

Now, I had to get in a good, balanced dinner before I could dive in to sample all of these treats and a good dinner it was! I thought this up a few weeks ago and I had just the right ingredients that needed to be used up to give it another shot.

Mexican Polenta Pizza!

Mexican Polenta Pizza (serves 1)

  • 1/3 c. cornmeal
  • 2/3 c. water
  • dash salt + pepper
  • 1/2 c. black beans (pinto or kidney would work great too)
  • cumin, chili powder, coriander, smoked paprika, to taste
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 2-3 Tbsp. salsa
  • sliced green onion, frozen corn, bell pepper, feta cheese, etc.
  • 1/4 – 1/2 c. shredded cheese (I used extra sharp white cheddar)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. To prepare polenta, bring water to boil in a saucepan. Once boiling, remove from heat and quickly whisk in cornmeal, salt, and pepper.
  3. Once combined, pour polenta onto a greased cookie sheet (or into a round cake pan if you are making more than 1 serving) and spread into a round pizza shape about 1/2 inch thick.
  4. For a more crisp crust, you can now bake the crust (plain) for 5 minutes or so while you prepare your remaining ingredients. The polenta firms up a bit as it sits as well, so it isn’t entirely necessary to bake the crust before putting ingredients on if you don’t mind a softer crust.
  5. In a small bowl or on your cutting board, mash beans and spices with a fork. I didn’t really measure, but I would start with 1/2 tsp. – 1 tsp. of each and adjust as needed according to taste.
  6. Spread mashed beans onto the crust as your “sauce”, then mash the avocado and spread on top (I forgot it and had to “scatter” it on top of all the other ingredients – it didn’t work too well!)
  7. Spread a few spoonfuls of salsa over avocado, making sure not to use too much or the pizza will get soggy.
  8. Top with green onion, frozen corn, chopped bell pepper…whatever you have on hand! I also had some leftover diced chicken (seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic) that worked great!
  9. Top with shredded cheese and bake 8-12 minute until cheese is melted.

This crust is pretty soft, which I liked, but I did have to remove the pizza from the pan with 2 spatulas (1 from each side). I did forget to pre-bake the crust this time however, so that probably had something to do with it. Either way, I think this pizza is best eaten with a fork. It is SO GOOD though!! It is also super easy and much quicker than waiting for regular pizza dough to rise (although I have found that my go-to pizza dough recipe freezes wonderfully!!)

You know what would have gone great with this pizza? This salad I just found on my camera from a few weeks ago:

It was really just some random things I needed to use up but it turned into easily one of the best salads I’ve made! I tossed some romaine + green leaf lettuce with a little red wine vinegar and cracked black pepper. Then I tossed in some black beans, green onion, avocado, green bell pepper, and (easily my new favorite salad dressing/pizza topping/condiment in general) sun dried tomato pesto. YUM!

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