Tag Archives: dessert

Tropical Interlude


There’s nothing like a fruit net full of mangoes, papayas, bananas, and tangerines! I may be making something with this sucker next.

        Welcome to week 2 (or is this week 3?) of my time in the Bahamas. Is it so wrong that being here has kept me from blogging? There are cays to visit, treacherous passages to sail, and island ways to learn.
        Since crossing the gulf stream into this otherworldly place, Lee and I have visited Grand Bahama Island, a couple of spots in the Berry Islands, and Nassau. We actually arrived in the bustling capital more than a week ago but needed to accomplish a long list of things before moving on. Tomorrow, hopefully, we will cross the banks to the Exumas and spend the remaining month or so before our wedding exploring those fabled isles.
        Food wise, the Bahamas are fascinating. Big, beautiful Conch shells lie in heaps as evidence of the local obsession with their meat. Conch fritters, burgers, salad, and fried Conch are sold in ramshackle stands on Nassau’s Potters Cay and in restaurants serving local cuisine.
        I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I have not tried any preparation of the Bahamians favorite mollusk yet. Conch salad, a raw, ceviche-like concoction, appeals to me the most. I know we will encounter local joints selling it in the Exumas so I’ll work up the courage to try some.
        Other than Conch, fresh seafood available includes Grouper and lots of Snapper. Lee and I bought a Snapper and had it fileted at the Potters Cay market (where fishing boats come to sell their catch and produce arrives from the out-islands). We cooked it on the grill with some of the sour oranges that a produce vendor recommended as a seafood marinade. It was delicious!
        Peas and rice is the side dish of choice on the islands. As a vegetarian, I have to wonder whether there’s ham involved. Macaroni and cheese is another stand by and I hear great things about island-style bread.
        The supermarkets in Nassau and Freeport are similar to US stores but their stock is limited. I could only find one carton of plain yogurt on my main provisioning trip but when I went back the next day they were stocking the shelves with a new shipment.

        Baking…yes, I’ve done some of that. I made cinnamon rolls the other day but they did not turn out well enough to be blog-worthy. I know today is Valentines day and I have some chocolate cupcakes planned for my valentine!
        The recipe I have to share today is not a local dish or my usual baked fare. It is so simple that I’m sure I’m one of the last kitchen-oriented people to make it. Still, I am so proud of myself for pulling this off. I made plain old vanilla pudding from scratch!


        That may sound ridiculously easy but for someone who has never done it before and has limited experience with cornstarch pudding is a great feat. I’m a bit of a pudding addict (when there’s no ice cream around) so I carry lots of instant Jello pudding packs on the boat. Still, it seems silly to make instant pudding when all it takes to make it from scratch is milk, corn starch, salt, sugar, and some flavoring.
        I went with plain vanilla flavor and stuck to a simple cornstarch thickened recipe. Adding eggs for richness is the next step. I’ll move on to that when I’ve perfected this formula!
        There are a zillion recipes for pudding out there. I consulted Joy of Cooking but went with the recipe in Laurel’s Kitchen.

Vanilla Pudding
Serves 3-4
From Laurel’s Kitchen by Laurel Robertson, Carol Flinders, and Bronwen Godfrey

2 cups fresh milk (I made mine with powdered milk)
2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

2 well-beaten eggs
Toasted coconut
Chopped nuts

Gently heat 1.5 cups of the milk in a heavy pan or double boiler.
Combine cornstarch or arrowroot with reserved milk, adding this mixture to the pan when the milk is hot.
Stir in sugar, salt, and vanilla and cook over low heat until thick.
Reduce heat further and cook gently for about 8 more minutes.

Optional richer version
Mix 1 cup of the pudding with 2 eggs, then return to the pan and continue cooking, stirring constantly.

Serve warm or pour into bowls and chill. Garnish with toasted coconut and/or chopped nuts (fresh fruit would be excellent too!).

        I poured my pudding into 3 dishes, covered them, and chilled them till dessert time. Mine was not particularly thick when I stopped cooking it and I was worried that I’d somehow screwed up. The pudding had thickened by the time we ate it that evening, though. I love this simple, smooth vanilla dessert with a dollop of whipped cream!

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Chocolate Chip Muesli Cookies


        I needed a treat yesterday. I needed something quick and sweet that also packed a powerful punch of nutrition. Bob’s Red Mill came to the rescue. I am completely in love with many of their products and frequently find excellent recipes on their bags. Bob’s Red Mill has never contacted me or anything and has nothing to do with this post.
When I first bought supplies for the boat I accidentally ordered two cases of Bob’s Old Country Style Muesli. I meant to order one but must have added it to my Amazon list twice or something. Each case has 4 18oz bags. That’s a lot of cereal! It’s a good thing I like it! Really, using up all this muesli is no problem. My favorite cold breakfast mix is muesli soaked in plain yogurt and a little milk overnight, with banana and maybe some flaxseed meal and pumpkin added in the morning.
        Then of course there’s the cookies. The recipe on the back of this particular Bob’s Red Mill package is for Chocolate Chip Muesli Cookies. I made them once as soon as I discovered this and they were quite tasty. Without added butter or oil, they are definitely healthy treats. Of course, I moved on to other cookie recipes. I have kind of a short attention span when it comes to these things.
        A few weeks ago I snagged a bag of peanut flour at Trader Joe’s. I had read about peanut flour in various places and was anxious to give it a try. For some reason, my brain went back to the Chocolate Chip Muesli Cookies and presented them as ideal candidates for a peanut flour experiment. The recipe calls for very little flour so replacing all of it with peanut flour seemed like an excellent idea. I hoped to end up with a peanut buttery cookie with all kinds of muesli goodness. That’s almost exactly what I got and yesterday’s treat craving was totally satisfied.
        I say almost because I didn’t bake the cookies as cookies. For purely practical reasons, I spread the dough on my quarter baking sheet and made bars. That way I didn’t have to scoop and bake 3 or 4 mini-batches of cookies while the oven heated the boat to 90 million degrees. A silly measuring mistake also contributed to the less-than perfect cookie bars. I misread the recipe and added 3/4 cup of applesauce instead of 2/3. It was kind of a heaping 3/4 cup too, since I didn’t want to leave a spoonful of applesauce in the jar! The added liquid made a batter rather than a dough and turned out rather moist bars. They’re still totally edible and delicious. They just kind of fall apart in your hands.
        The peanut flour was perfect. Alongside the texture of the muesli, the peanut flour produces a rich cookie with plenty to chew on. I think these would be great as big breakfast cookies. I cut my sheet into12 bars but next time I think I’ll make 12 big cookies.


Chocolate Chip Muesli Cookies
(From Bob’s Red Mill)

1 cup muesli
3/4 cup whole wheat flour (or try peanut flour!)
2/4 cup applesauce
3/4 cup brown sugar
6 oz package chocolate chips (I threw in a handful of carob chips instead)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.
In a separate bowl, blend applesauce, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in egg.
Add flour mixture to bowl.
Stir in muesli and chocolate chips.
Drop by tablespoonfuls (or more for larger cookies) onto a lightly greased cookie sheet.
Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes.


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Millet pudding in the pressure cooker


Me, pondering half a milk crate on Assateague Island.

I really need one of these to carry groceries on my bike!

        I’d like to invent a new meal, like brunch, but not quite. If brunch is somewhere between breakfast and lunch, what would you call a breakfast-dessert combination? I realize that several other meals come between breakfast and dessert so they’re not adjacent time wise. Still, many of us like to start and end the day with something sweet. Among these sweet dishes, a few gems can show up on either the breakfast table or the dessert tray: coffee cakes, pastries, waffles…okay, so maybe there are a lot of really unhealthy breakfasts out there that are actually just dessert in disguise. There are also treats nutritious enough to be morning fuel and stand in as healthful, sweet-tooth satisfying desserts.


        This pudding is one such treat. A creamy, whole-grain, slightly sweet bowl of mush may not sound like dessert but believe me, it’s heavenly. It’s not particularly photogenic, as you can see, but it tastes much better than it looks! Rice pudding lovers everywhere must give millet a try. With extra cooking and plenty of liquid, millet breaks down into a starchy soup that naturally congeals to make a perfect pudding. It’s nutty flavor pairs well with warm spices and milk – dairy and non-dairy alike. I’ve never made rice pudding but it’s been on my list for a while. Yesterday I was craving something different in the pudding category and remembered a millet congee I’d made last winter. While not a dessert, the congee had an amazing texture and could have gone in either a sweet or savory direction. Couldn’t millet make a nice a pudding, too? After a little research, I came up with a millet pudding recipe that uses a pressure cooker. With a little adaptation, I had a version that suited me and my ingredients.

        I am just beginning to explore the joys of my pressure cooker. It was a birthday present from Lee, who knows the benefits of quick, efficient cooking. I have successfully made a couple batches of brown rice that came out beautifully, required a fraction of the conventional cooking time, and freed up the stove top for me to prepare the rest of the meal. The amount of time it takes for the pressure to drop after cooking is just enough for a stir fry.

        The pressure cooker worked very well for this pudding. The rice pudding recipe in the booklet that came with the cooker does things a little differently. It calls for cooking the rice in one pressure session, then adding the milk, raisins, etc. and pressure cooking everything to make the pudding. That seemed like an overly involved process for a simple dessert and I’m getting stingy with the propane as our cylinder gets low. I went with a throw everything in the pot and cook it once technique. I’ll try making a non-pressure cooker version and post the conventional method when I do.

        I intended to add a cinnamon stick to the mixture before cooking but completely forgot until the pot was all sealed up. Instead, I stirred in a teaspoon of cinnamon after the pudding was cooked and it added a perfect hit of spice. Add a cinnamon stick as I originally intended or put the ground spice in at the beginning if you’d like. The pudding gets just a bit of sweetness from the dates. It was just about perfect for me but adding a few more dates would bump up the natural sweetness. Lee topped his pudding with agave nectar so we both got our dessert the way we liked it.

Millet Pudding for dessert or breakfast)
Adapted from
Makes 4 servings

2/3 cup millet
1 cup milk of choice
1/2 cup water
3 pitted dates, chopped (or more, for a sweeter result)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Rinse millet and place it in a large metal bowl that will fit inside your pressure cooker.
Add milk, water, vanilla, and dates, stirring everything together.
Add 1 cup of water to the pressure cooker and place the rack in the bottom (my P.C. slightly elevated metal grate for elevating things off the bottom of the pot).
Cover the bowl securely with foil and place it on the rack in the pressure cooker.
Secure the lid on the cooker, put the pressure regulator on top, and place over a high heat burner.
When the pressure regulator begins to rock slightly, start a timer for 11 minutes. Adjust heat down or up to keep regulator rocking gently.
After 11 minutes, turn off the heat and remove the pressure cooker from the burner. Let it cool on it’s own (on mine, the release valve for the lid pops up when the cooker has cooled sufficiently).
Remove the pressure regulator, carefully open the lid and use tongs or hot pad holders to take out the inner bowl.
Stir in the cinnamon and mush up the pudding to help break up the millet and dates, distributing the fruit sweetness throughout and making the dish more pudding-like.
Spoon into individual bowls and top with something tasty (whipped cream, a sprinkle of cinnamon and/or nutmeg, chopped nuts, coconut butter, agave nectar, honey, maple syrup…the list of possible toppings goes on and on). Refrigerate individual servings to save them for later. I think I like mine cold!


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Peanut butter chocolate M&M bars


        I didn’t know what to call these. The recipe I started with but quickly departed from was for peanut butter blondies. Having made those once before, I knew they were more cake-like than blondie-like. I added chocolate to mine so are they brownies? I don’t think so – not fudgey enough. If I hadn’t baked them in my tiny quarter sheet pan these bars would be thicker and I’d call them cake. As is, I say these chocolatey, M&M studded squares of peanut butter heaven are good, whatever they are.


        This afternoon, when we rounded Manhatten and left the East River’s swift current behind, baking seemed like the best way to spend the rest of the trip. It was is bitterly cold and I’ve seen the shoreline along the Hudson before. I made sure Lee was good to last another hour on deck and hunkered down in the galley.


        Oooh, I almost forgot my ode to Pretzel M&M’s! Lee and I are addicted to them. I buy a bag whenever I see them and sneak them into movie theaters on the rare occasion that we visit one. I think they’re probably the best invention since the M&M…and the pretzel. They’re crunchy, slightly salty, slightly sweet, and chocolatey. We have kind of a surplus of Pretzel M&M’s right now so I decided to throw some into the bars, in addition to some regular M&M’s from some friends’ Halloween candy bowl. They’re awesome in these bars, as I knew they would be, and I can’t wait to bake them into something else!

        Of course we ran out of propane shortly after I put the bars in the oven and right as we were pulling into the boat basin. By run out, I mean the tiny propane tank on deck that powers the stove was empty. We have another, full-sized propane tank next to it but usually do all kinds of tank juggling to get them both stowed and the small one hooked up and filled. Lee quickly swapped tanks – placing the large one on the cockpit floor temporarily and attaching it to the supply line.
        I don’t think the oven really lost much heat before I relit it down below. I did give the bars a little extra time to bake, though. They made the whole boat smell like peanut butter cups!


Peanut Butter Chocolate M&M Bars

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3/4 cup granulated sugar (or 1/2 cup liquid sweetener like honey or agave)
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt, nonfat or regular
1/2 cup peanut butter
About 1/2 cup (or more!) M&M’s of any type

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl.
Beat egg, sugar, yogurt, and peanut butter together in a larger bowl.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir till fully blended.
Stir in M&M’s (I added the regular ones this way and pressed the Pretzel M&M’s into the batter once it was in the pan).
Pour batter into a lightly oiled quarter sheet baking pan or 8×8 in. cake pan, spreading it all the way to the edges.
Add more M&M’s if you’d like.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until the edges are starting to crisp and the center is springy.

Cool completely before cutting. Enjoy!

I’m so excited to be moored right next to New York City! We spent a few days here in the summer so we know where the closest subway station is etc. It’s time to do some urban exploring!


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