Black Forest Cupcakes (Very Fudgy!): Recipe #212

The normal chocolate-cherry combination typical of German black forest cake isn’t my favorite flavor medley, but with apricots and the extreme fudginess of this recipe, I could eat these black forest cupcakes all day long! It’s a modification of our chocolate zucchini cake recipe, only fudgier. Hope you enjoy this decadent and healthy plant-based treat. 🙂

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($8 for 12 cupcakes and 24 mini cupcakes)

Cupcake batter:
1 cups white flour – $0.16
2 cup whole wheat flour – $0.32
3/4 cup cocoa – $0.83
2 tsp baking powder – $0.03
1/2 tsp baking soda – $0.01
1/2 tsp salt – $0.03
3/4 cup brown sugar – $0.39
1 1/4 cup dark chocolate chunks – $1.25
1 cup soy milk – $0.28
3/4 cup canola oil – $0.56
3 eggs – $0.87
1 tbsp vanilla – $1.00
2 cups grated zucchini – $1.40

Icing:
2 tbsp apricot jam – $0.16
1 tbsp soy milk – $0.02
1/2 cup icing sugar – $0.44

Directions for Black Forest Cupcakes

1. Make the batter base: In a large bowl, mix the flours, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, brown sugar, and chocolate chips. Stir to combine. Add in the soy milk, canola oil, eggs, and vanilla and mix well.

Grate and add the zucchini to the chocolate batter, and fold it in with a spatula until the zucchini is evenly distributed throughout the batter.

2. Pour the batter into cupcake tins lined with cupcake wrappers – we filled 3 tins to make 12 large cupcakes and 24 mini cupcakes. Bake at 350F for 20 mins (large cupcakes) and then 9 mins (mini cupcakes).

Make the icing by mixing together all the ingredients for that, adding more icing sugar if you want it thicker.

3. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy your black forest cupcakes just as they are, drizzled with icing, or topped with non-dairy ice cream!

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 3 = <1 hour
  • Servings: 3 = lots of leftovers
  • Cost per serving: 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 3 = minimal damage
  • Nutritional value: 2 = healthy-ish
  • TOTAL: 17/18

If any of you amazing home chefs tried it, or have other recipes you’d like us to experiment with, please let me know. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

Soft Pretzels: #180 of 1000 Sustainable Food Experiments

Soft pretzels are boiled in baking soda water like bagels before they’re covered in salt and baked. This gives them their chewy yet fluffy texture. We made a batch of soft pretzels one recent weekend and they were gone before Monday. They’re lovely to have for lunch alongside a kale salad.

It’s part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($5 total for 8 large soft pretzels)

1 tbsp active dry yeast – $0.50
1 tbsp brown sugar – $0.08
1 ½ cups hottest tap water – free
4 ½ cups white whole wheat flour – $0.68
1 tbsp salt – $0.13
3 tbsp canola oil – $0.14
1/3 cup baking soda – $0.18
1 egg, beaten – $0.29
2 tbsp “Everything but the bagel” spice with salt, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, onion flakes – $1.40

Dipping sauce:
2 tbsp honey – $0.28
1 tbsp dijon mustard – $0.24
2 tbsp mayo -$0.50

Directions

1. Prepare the dough: in a small plastic bowl, mix the yeast and brown sugar, then add in 1/2 cup of the hottest tap water. Mix gently and briefly, then let it sit for 5 minutes to bloom the yeast so a thick foam forms on top.

In a large metal bowl, mix the flour and salt.

Add the remaining 1 cup of water and 2 tbsp of the canola oil to the yeast mixture, then pour the whole thing into the middle of the flour mixture. Stir it all together until a dough forms, then knead it with your hands for about 5 minutes.

Cover the bowl in plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour until it has doubled.

2. When the dough has risen, cut it into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece out into a thin rope and twist each end towards the middle to make a pretzel shape, pinching the ends into the dough to hold it together. Or get creative and make any shape you like.

Make a dipping sauce by mixing together the honey, mustard, and mayo.

3. Boil a large pot of water and stir in the baking soda. Once it’s boiling nicely, drop the pretzels in a couple at a time. After 30 seconds, flip them over for another 30 seconds boiling on the other side.

Put the boiled pretzels on a baking sheet, brush with the beaten egg, and sprinkle with the “Everything but the bagel” spice or any toppings you like. Bake at 450F for 10-15 minutes, until they’re nice and golden brown.

Remove from the oven and enjoy warm with the dipping sauce and perhaps a side salad.

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 2 = 1-3 hours
  • Servings: 3 = lots of leftovers
  • Cost per serving: 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness:  3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 3 = minimal damage
  • Nutritional value: 2 = healthy-ish
  • TOTAL: 16/18

If any of you amazing cooks tried it, or have other recipes you’d like us to experiment with, please let me know. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

German Potato Salad: #118 of 1000 Sustainable Food Experiments

I’ve never really enjoyed the texture of American potato salad, loaded with mayo and sitting out in the warm sun at a picnic. So I started investigating how other cultures do it, for inspiration. In Germany it’s called kartoffelsalat (kartoffel = potato), and the dressing I created here is much gentler. This makes a yummy weekend lunch!

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($7.50 total)

3 pounds yukon gold potatoes, washed, skin on – $2.70
1 tsp garlic powder – $0.28
1 tsp dill – $0.28
1 cup Tim’s famous salad dressing (famous at our house anyway! 1/3 apple cider vinegar, 1/3 olive oil, 1/3 honey) – $1.84
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, cooked – $1.50
3-4 slices honey turkey or ham, ripped up into pieces – $0.82
a few kale sprouts from our garden to garnish – free
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. In a large pot, cover the potatoes in water and bring to a boil over high heat. Then lower the heat to medium and boil until a fork just goes through the potatoes, about 10-20 minutes depending on potato size. Don’t boil too long or your potato salad will be mush. 🙂 Also, prepare your dressing ingredients.

2. While the potatoes are cooking, get the peas, turkey/ham, and sprouts ready to go. When the potatoes are done, rinse them in cool water, then slice them into rounds and toss them with the garlic powder, dill, dressing, salt and pepper.

3. Serve the potato salad in flat bowls and decorate with peas, turkey/ham, and sprouts as desired. Enjoy!

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 2 = 1-3 hours
  • Servings:  2 = 4-6 servings 
  • Cost per person (prices based on Trader Joe’s/Costco): 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 2 = decent meal
  • Environmental impact: 2 = moderate impact
  • Nutritional value: 2 = healthy-ish
  • TOTAL: 13/18

If you tried it, please let me know how it came out for you. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

Linzer Cookies (aka Jam-Jams): #93 of 1000 Sustainable Food Experiments

Linzer cookies are an Austrian holiday treat. Think of shortbread cookies sandwiched with strawberry or apricot jam and dusted with powdered sugar. The texture mellows and gets less crunchy over time, so they’re actually just right a day or two after baking them. Feel free to freeze leftovers, if there are any!

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($5 total for 2 dozen cookies)

3/4 cup butter – $1.86
1/2 cup sugar – $0.44
1 egg yolk – $0.29
1 tsp vanilla – $0.20
1 3/4 cup flour – $0.28
1/2 cup strawberry or apricot jam, for filling – $1.28
1/4 cup powdered sugar, for dusting – $0.22

Directions

1. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until they’re light and fluffy, which should take 3 minutes. Add the yolk and vanilla and keep mixing until well combined. Then add the flour mixture and mix just until the flour is mixed in. You don’t want to over-mix it.

Wrap the dough in cling wrap and put it in the fridge for 1-2 hours to firm up.

2. After this, get a lightly floured board ready and cut the dough in half. Roll each half out until it is about 1/4″ thick. Cut out cookies with any shape cookie cutter you like, and for half of the cookies, cut a different shape out of the middle so the jam can peek through (we used circles and hearts). 

Transfer the cookies to a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Bake at 350F for 8 to 10 minutes, just until the edges start to turn brown. Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

3. Once the cookies are cool, dust the cookies with the holes in them with the powdered sugar. Turn the filled (no holes) cookies flat side up and put 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of jam on top, spreading it around the cookie. Put the dusted cookies on top to make a sandwich, and voila! 

Store in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for longer term. Enjoy during the holidays or anytime you like!

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 2 = 1-3 hours
  • Servings:  3 = lots of leftovers
  • Cost per person (prices based on Trader Joe’s/Costco): 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 3 = minimal damage
  • Nutritional value: 1 = eat rarely
  • TOTAL: 15/18

If you tried it, please let me know how it came out for you. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff: #82 of 1000 Sustainable Food Experiments

Stroganoff is one of our regular rotation meals, thanks to my husband’s German-Russian roots. It’s great for a quick weeknight meal that pleases a crowd of hungry stomachs, and the leftovers are delicious too. Feel free to substitute another kind of meat or tofu for the beef if you prefer.

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($22 total)

2 tbsp olive oil – $0.20
1/2 onion, chopped – $0.25
1 lb organic ground beef – $5.99
1 container cream of mushroom soup – $1.99
1 pint sour cream – $2.99
2 cups frozen peas – $1.00
1 lb spaghetti or egg noodles – $2.99
4 cloves garlic, minced – $0.15
1 8 oz package crimini mushrooms, sliced – $2.49
1 8 oz package baby broccoli, chopped up – $2.79
Pecorino romano cheese to sprinkle on top – $1.00
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. In a large pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium high heat, then add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes until translucent and soft. Add the ground beef and stir until it’s all broken up and there’s no pink left. In a separate pan, heat the other 1 tbsp olive oil and cook the garlic for 2-3 minutes until it starts to brown, then add in the mushrooms, salt and pepper, and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the baby broccoli and cook for another 5 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the broccoli is a bright green.

2. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot filled with boiling, salted water. It’s usually about 10 minutes but check the package directions. Add the mushroom soup and sour cream to the beef mixture, along with the frozen peas, and mix well. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust as needed. Drain the pasta and pour the stroganoff sauce over the noodles, mixing to combine thoroughly.

3. Serve in individual bowls with a side of vegetables (or mixed in if you don’t have picky eaters), with pecorino romano cheese sprinkled on the side or over top. Freshly ground pepper is great here too. This recipe usually provides 2 dinners for 5 of us.

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 3 = <1 hour
  • Servings:  3 = lots of leftovers
  • Cost per person (prices based on Trader Joe’s/Costco): 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 1 = wowzers (beef)
  • Nutritional value: 2 = healthy-ish
  • TOTAL: 15/18

If you tried it, please let me know how it came out for you. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

German Cabbage Rolls: #26 of 1000 Sustainable Food Experiments

If you’re looking for comfort food in Germany or Russia, you might come across this dish of cabbage, beef, rice, onions, and tomato. I know it from the Mennonite tradition in Canada, as the first dish Tim’s grandmother made for me. It is also fantastic as leftovers, so I make a big tray and it lasts for at least 3 dinners.

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($15 total)

1 large savoy cabbage – $3.69
1 onion, chopped – $0.50
2 tbsp olive oil – $0.20
1 cup rice – $0.50
2 cups water – free
1 lb organic ground beef or chicken – $5.99
3 eggs – $0.87
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce – $0.20
2 tsp salt – $0.10
Pepper to taste
1 carton creamy tomato soup (946 mL) – $2.69

Directions

1. Dig out the core of the savoy cabbage carefully with a sharp knife, then pull off the leaves. Bring a large pot of water with some salt to a boil and boil the cabbage leaves for 5 minutes to soften, then cool off in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking. 

In a pan, cook the chopped onion in the olive oil for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until it starts to brown. In a separate pot, cook the rice with the water by bringing it to a boil and then turning off the heat to let it sit and soak up the water.

2. In a medium bowl, mix the ground beef, salt and pepper, Worcestershire sauce, eggs, onions, and rice until well combined.

Take a leaf of softened cabbage and put a scoop (about 1/3 to 1/2 cup depending on the size of the cabbage leaf) of meat filling at the base of the leaf. Tuck in the sides and roll it up and away from you to form a neat little bundle.

3. Repeat until you run out of meat filling, arrange the cabbage rolls tightly in a casserole dish, then pour the tomato soup over the whole thing. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 325F for 2 hours. Serve warm or freeze for future enjoyment!

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 2 = 1-3 hours
  • Servings:  3 = >6 servings
  • Cost per person (prices based on Trader Joe’s/Costco): 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 2 = moderate impact
  • Nutritional value: 3 = optimal nutrition
  • TOTAL: 16/18

If you tried it, please let me know how it came out for you. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

Fluffy Apple Pancakes: #21 of 1000 Sustainable Food Experiments

We’ve tried a lot of pancake recipe variations, and this one is definitely the favorite. You get moistness from the apples, heartiness from the whole wheat, and they’re so fluffy they soak up as much maple syrup as you want to put on them. Great for a Saturday morning (with leftovers on Sunday morning!)

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($4 total) – makes about 16 pancakes

1 cup organic whole milk or soy milk – $0.40
2 tbsp white vinegar – $0.02
2 cups white whole wheat flour (or 1/2 white and 1/2 whole wheat) – $0.36
4 tbsp brown sugar – $1.46
2 tsp baking powder – $0.03
1 tsp baking soda – $0.02
1 tsp salt – $0.05
2 eggs – $0.58
3 tbsp butter, melted, plus some for griddle – $0.55
2 small apples, grated – $0.60

Directions

1. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix the milk and vinegar. Let sit for 5 minutes to curdle. Meanwhile, grate the apples.

2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir to combine well.

Add the eggs, melted butter, curdled milk and grated apples into the dry ingredients, and give it a good whisk until the batter is fairly think and smooth, with no big lumps. 

3. Heat the griddle to 350F. When it’s hot, rub some butter over it and scoop dollops of batter onto the griddle. Wait until the top is bubble and the edges are dry, then flip them over with a flapjack and cook on the other side (usually takes less time). Keep the first batch warm and covered in the oven while you’re cooking the rest.

Serve with real Canadian maple syrup!

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 3 = <1 hour
  • Servings:  3 = >6 servings
  • Cost per person (prices based on Trader Joe’s/Costco): 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 2 = moderate impact
  • Nutritional value: 2 = healthy-ish
  • TOTAL: 16/18

If you tried it, please let me know how it came out for you. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!