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March 2012

Tahini Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

When a friend and guitar teacher offers to give you lessons in exchange for cookies, that’s an offer you don’t turn down. At least if you’re me, and playing guitar makes you feel like your intoxicated, whether you’re drunk or not, while baking cookies makes you feel like a magician.

Swapping talents is definitely a favorite of mine. I’d bake cookies nearly any day for free. Although, it’s definitely going to take a ton of batches before my guitar skills have anything to show for it…

While I can’t say I’m totally enjoying practicing my scales, I am enjoying these cookies. At least the ones I didn’t pass on to my friend. Inspired by a lack of peanut butter in my apartment (oh no!), a little improvisation bred quite possibly one of my new favorite cookies. Although, I believe I’ve had this thought more than a few times after trying a new chocolate-infused treat. But trust me, these are good. And different! Something you can wow your friends over in a cookie swap, talent swap or as just an everyday gift.

The tahini adds a slight nuttiness that’s almost smoky in flavor, and allows for a slight cut back on the butter. You’d never guess these sweet treats are whole wheat either. Packed with rich, chocolate chunks and just a hint of cinnamon, these have everything you’d ever want in a dessert.

Another thankful success in the kitchen. If only I could bring my guitar skills up to par.

Tahini Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yield: Makes about 20 cookies


  • -1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • -1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • -1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • -1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • -1/4 tsp. salt
  • -1/4 cup sesame tahini
  • -4 Tbsp. butter, at room temperature
  • -2/3 cup brown sugar
  • -3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • -1 egg
  • -1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • -1 scant cup dark chocolate chunks


  1. Preheat oven 350F. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. In medium-large bowl, mix oats, flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another large bowl, mix butter and tahini. Add sugar, vanilla and egg and beat until thoroughly combined.
  3. Stir in flour. Add chocolate and walnuts.
  4. Drop by the spoonful onto prepared baking sheet. Bake, in batches, for 8 minutes, until bottoms are golden brown and tops are still soft. Use spatula to transfer to cooling rack. These will set as cooled.

Tomato Olive Spaghetti

This was one of the most flavorful sauces I’ve made in awhile. Flavorful but not stinky. It had all the saltiness and flavor of a puttanesca, minus the smelliness that comes from anchovies. I’ve had puttanesca sauces I’ve enjoyed before, but sometimes those little fish make the classic sauce just a tad too overwhelming for my nose and taste-buds. Plus, I was doing the cooking, and lingering garlic on my hands I can take, but fishiness I can not.

Instead, I went for a basil-oregano fragrance, which if you ask me should be bottled and sold among the Channel No. 5’s. Perfumes these days are far too sweet for my liking. I want to eat my cake, not smell like it too. Fresh basil on the other hand, that’s a clean smell I could probably stand for longer than just a whiff.

I tossed those herbs in with some sauce and finished the whole thing off with another herby element by utilizing freshly chopped parsley. It was like Christmas on my plate, with each bite unwrapping another nuance of flavor.

This is a sauce that’s sure to hold up to whole wheat pasta, and it’s got a texture that goes ideally with a thin-stranded variety. While the foodies might call me out for this, this is as deliciously pungent as puttanesca, no fish required.
Click here for recipe…

Italian Soy Sausage Hoagies

Here in Philadelphia, we’re serious about our bread. It’s what helps make Pat’s and Geno’s the legendary joints that they are. And the subtle differences between the rolls of the two South Philly fames only fuels the fire heating up the rivalry among these two. While I’m not one to dive into Philly’s mainstream cheesesteak scene, you can catch me in another part of South Philly chowing down on the occasional vegan cheesesteak at Blackbird. Even this joint knows its bread.

If you have quality ingredients on your hands, dinner doesn’t have to be difficult. And for these vegan, Italian-inspired babies, it’s all about the bread. A crisp, crusty exterior hiding a soft, airy core is what you’re aiming for. That yeasty smell should still linger on the outside with an aroma* that deepens when you cut into the heart of the bread.

To achieve this optimal, chewy goodness, you have to go with the standard white flour roll. Obviously, I’m generally a whole wheat kind of gal, and have enjoyed some pretty impressive WW loaves. But when it comes to that light, chewy consistency needed for the perfect Italian Hoagie, it’s worth the occasional whole wheat sacrifice.

My search for the perfect hoagie roll led me to Philly’s Italian market, where I was able to snatch two of these rolls for less than a dollar! From there, the rest of this meal was effortless. I went with my favorite soy sausage, sauteed up some fresh veggies, and served it with a colorful side of red cabbage and spinach salad. Stick with fresh, veggie-loaded sides to offset the whole wheat swap, and you’re golden.

*(If you want to take the aroma-factor to the next level, bake your own bread, and you’ll concurrently fill your house with that heavenly, breadalicious fragrance…but the process might also add a little of that difficulty factor back into the kitchen that we were trying to avoid, so save it for a lazy-but-not-so-lazy Sunday.)

Click here for recipe…

Hasselback Sweet Potatoes

In the culinary world, Hasselback is currently becoming hipper than a home-brewed hipster right now. The cooking technique, which originates from a restaurant in Sweden called Hasselbacken, turns a potato into a cross between a baked fry and a baked potato. It’s got the crispy outsides you envision of a fry, but the soft insides of a foil-wrapped spud, and the display it generates is great.

Testing out this technique on sweet potatoes, I was pleasantly surprised with what I would label as heaven on a plate. It’s no wonder new versions are popping up all over websites like FoodGawker. For my first attempt, I used a classic combination of brown sugar and salt, adding a hint of smoked paprika and cayenne for some smoky spice. It was simple but perfect, and oh so fun to eat.

If I can give myself a few more nights of sweet potato noshing before the spring season fully kicks in, I’ll definitely be playing with this technique some more. Picture melted Parmesan or garlic wedged in between each slice before hitting the oven, or arugula and toasted nuts as added embellishments after the roasting is complete. I could dream of a million fun combinations, but right now, some outdoor play is calling my name. Enjoy!

Click here for recipe…

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