Autumn Butternut Squash Casserole

by Téalin Robinson

Whenever Thanksgiving rolls around, you begin to think about the wonderful food your family will cook, which results in copious amounts of leftovers to be turned into whatever crazy concoction you can think of. Unlike the traditional Thanksgiving feast most people enjoy, my family goes straight to the unusual dishes you would only think of creating in a food science class. Occasionally the experiments lead to delicious versions of turkey soup or sweet potato burritos.

Several years ago, amidst our untraditional Thanksgiving, my grandmother attempted a new dessert recipe, in addition to the usual pumpkin, apple and blueberry pies. Somehow the idea that apples, squash and corn flakes mixed together would create an unforgettable taste, came to my grandmother. Since that Thanksgiving, this delectable Butternut Squash Casserole became a fall season staple in my household.

Casserole Ingredients:

resized_20161110_1543523 c mashed, cooked butternut squash

¼ c + 2 Tbsp butter, room temperature

¼ c brown sugar

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper

6 c sliced Jonathan and Granny Smith apples

¼ c sugar


2 Tbsp butter

½ c chopped pecans

½ c brown sugar

1 ½ c corn flakes (crushed)

Begin by peeling and cooking your butternut squash until soft and mashable. Then combine the cooked squash, butter, brown sugar, salt and pepper in a large bowl, and then set it aside. Next, heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet, and then add the sliced apples. Sprinkle them with sugar for extra sweetness. Then, cover and simmer the apples over low heat until they are browned and barely tender. Finally, spread the apple mixture in the bottom of an oval 3 qt casserole dish, and spoon the squash mixture over the apples.

Next, to begin the topping, melt the butter over the cornflakes in a medium sized bowl, and mix in the nuts. Place the topping over the squash and bake it at 350 F for 20-25 minutes. Eat this unusual dessert warm and sliced like a pie.

Pumpkin Bars

by Téalin Robinson

Rather than attempting the classic pumpkin roll, which should really remain as the original winter season chocolate Buche de Noel, my grandmother decided to spice things up by creating pumpkin bars instead. As one of her favorite autumn recipes, and one of mine also, I simply had to share her secret for constructing these delicious bars. They have a more light, cakey texture, rather than your usual dense layer bars. Due to its versatility for occasions, these pumpkin bars are perfect for sweet snacks, fall desserts or as a small breakfast treat. When warmed with a drizzle of icing or topped with whipped cream, these bars go well with a tall glass of milk, or a fresh cup of coffee.

Pumpkin Bars Ingredients:

1 cup shortening

2 eggs, beaten

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1 c chopped walnuts

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp allspice

2 cups brown sugar

2 cups flour

½ tsp ginger

1 cup dried coconut


2 cups powdered sugar

Milk of your preference

2 tsp vanilla

To begin, beat the eggs and set aside. Cream the shortening and the vanilla together until combined. Then add the sugar and beat the mixture until fluffy. Add the beaten eggs and the pumpkin. Next, stir the flour and the spices slowly into the creamed mixture until it’s smooth, for about 3 minutes. Once the mixture is without lumps, fold in the coconut and the nuts. Spread the mixture into a greased 10×6-inch pan, and bake it at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

While the bars are cooling, make the glaze to go on top. The bars taste just as wonderful with a scoop of whipped cream, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

Making the glaze is fairly simple; begin by sifting the powdered sugar to remove any lumps. Then add the milk of your preference (I use skim milk since it is thinner) to the powdered sugar creating a runny consistency. Then add a touch of vanilla. I prefer to use 2 tsp for the full vanilla effect, but the amount added is up to you. Finally, drizzle the glaze over cooled bars, and enjoy.



An Effortless Combination: Brussels Sprouts & Eggs

by Elizabeth Geboy

Possibly the simplest way to prepare brussels sprouts is also the greatest. Sliced, browned, served. And absolutely delicious. This protein packed, high vitamin dish is a beneficial breakfast or lunch, even if you’re in a hurry. The sprouts can also be sliced in advance to make your morning even easier. Brussels Sprouts’ peak season is mid-fall, and you can buy them on the stalk at the farmer’s market (or pre cut off, if you fancy an easier route). This is my go-to whenever I’m hungry, or when I need to make brunch for friends. It’s about two eggs per person, but it can be adjusted depending on how hungry you and your friends are.

1-1 1/2 cups brussels sprouts

2 eggs

1 sprig fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried thyme

Olive oil

Salt and pepper


Optional: chopped fresh Serrano, or other dried chile, to taste


Remove the bottom of the brussels sprouts with a paring knife. Cut all the sprouts into thin slices, breaking apart the large leaf pieces. Alternatively, fit the single chopping blade to a food processor, and shave all the brussels sprouts.

Heat a large pan over medium with enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Add the brussels sprouts (turn down the heat to medium low if they pop and spray too much). Add thyme, salt and cracked pepper. Add the spicy chile here, if including it. Move the sprouts around in the pan every few minutes, until they are cooked down and browned. Push them over to one half side of the pan, turn down the heat to medium low. Crack the eggs into the open spaces, and cook as much as you like – ‘over easy’, half-cooked yolk, or flip to make the egg ‘over hard’.

Serve hot with a squeeze of lemon.


French Chocolate Macarons

by Annie McGrail


There is nothing quite like a wonderfully sweet dessert, and while I spent a month in France over the summer studying abroad, I was never without them. However, as I went from one incredible pâtisserie to another I always found myself ordering the same thing: one chocolate macaron (un macaron chocolat). Each one was uniquely delicious as it slowly melted in my mouth with every bite. Macarons come in every flavor imaginable: pistachio, rose, Nutella, vanilla, raspberry and many more. As a chocolate lover myself, I had to stick to the classic chocolate.

Unfortunately, after I returned home, I was never able to find ones that were the right balance of rich flavor and light feel. This drove me to search for the perfect recipe to make great macarons on my own, and I believe I have found it. This recipe for Chocolate Hazelnut Macarons may seem time consuming, but it is completely worth it to make such a remarkable French pastry.

(From, but all ingredients transferred to American measurement standards).

For the macaron shells:

3 cups almond meal

2 2/5 powdered sugar

½ cup cocoa

4 egg whites

2 tbsp strong coffee

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/3 cup sugar (superfine, food processed)

4 egg whites

For the chocolate hazelnut ganache:

2 ¼ cup finely chopped milk chocolate

¾ cup & 2 tablespoons heavy cream

½ stick unsalted butter, softened

5 ½ tbsp Nutella

For macaron shells:

Line 4 – 6 trays with baking paper. Sift the almond meal, icing sugar and cocoa into a large bowl and mix well. Pour 4 egg whites, the coffee and vanilla over the dry ingredients. Do not mix, and set aside.

To make an Italian meringue, put the remaining 4 egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, but do not turn on. Put the superfine sugar and water in a small saucepan and stir. Place over a medium heat and fit with a candy thermometer. Watch the sugar as for it to boil. When the mixture reaches about 230 F, turn on the stand mixer and whip egg whites on high speed, until they form very soft peaks. The sugar should be 239 F at this stage. When the sugar reaches 239 F, turn off the heat. While the egg whites are still beating on high, pour the sugar syrup, very slowly, into the eggs. Aim for a point in between the side of the bowl and the moving whisk. Continue to beat until the mixture cools (feel it through the base of the bowl).


Fold the Italian meringue into the almond meal mixture in three batches, until well incorporated and smooth. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with medium round nozzle and pipe small 1 inch rounds of mixture onto the lined trays, allowing a little room for spreading. Tap each tray onto the bench a few times, HARD, to remove air bubbles. Repeat until all the mixture is used. Set the trays of macarons aside for about 30 minutes so they can develop a skin.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Bake the macarons for 11 – 12 minutes, opening the door at the 8 minute mark and the 10 minute mark, in order to let out any steam. If they grow and develop little “feet”, they have worked. They are ready when you can gently lift one off the tray without leaving its foot behind.

Set the macarons aside to cool completely while you make the ganache. Place the finely chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to the boil and pour it over the chocolate. Set aside for 2 – 3 minutes, then stir, starting from the middle, until the chocolate is melted and incorporated with the cream. Set aside in the refrigerator until firm. Add the melted butter and Nutella to the ganache and use a stick blender to blitz the mixture until it is light and fluffy (you can also do this in a food processor), scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally.

Match the macaron shells up so they have partners of similar size. Upturn one shell of each pair of macarons. Spoon the ganache into a piping bag fitted with a medium round piping tip. Pipe a little ganache onto the center of each upturned macaron. Sandwich it together with its partner.

Keep refrigerated, if not consumed immediately. Makes 50 – 60 macarons.

Ribs & Biscuits

Photos by Meghan Horvath

Photos by Meghan Horvath

By Amelia Chen

Sometimes the satisfying thing about eating is not just the food itself but the primal nature of eating with your hands, gnawing on bones and just making a huge mess. Wings and drumsticks are perfect meat lollipops for casual Friday nights around the television. Chops are meant to be licked clean at the end of a comforting dinner. But what really satisfies that primal urge for me is a sticky, juicy and tender rack of ribs.

Barbeque can mean different things for different people and, hailing from North Carolina, that usually means pork for me, whether it’s just the shoulder or the entire hog. Or a sticky, juicy and tender rack of ribs.

Like any low and slow meat dish, ribs are incredibly low maintenance. They require a watchful eye once they go in the oven, but the next time you have big plans to study while doing laundry, maybe make some ribs instead. Somehow, I think taking down a rack of ribs is the perfect reward after a couple hours of productive work.

And if you’re a scavenger like myself, save and freeze the bones for a good homemade stock down the road.

Spicy Date Dr Pepper Ribs adapted from Pioneer Woman

6 ounces dates
½ cup sugar
1 can Dr Pepper
5 ounces chipotle peppers in adobo
⅓ cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon distilled vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 packages baby back ribs

Bring all ingredients except ribs to a gentle boil for about 20 minutes or until dates break down and sauce is reduced and thick. Allow to cool completely before blending sauce until smooth. Divide into two portions.

Brush half the sauce on ribs, wrap with foil and refrigerate for eight hours or overnight to marinate.

Preheat oven to 275°F. Place covered ribs on pan and roast for two hours. Remove foil and brush more sauce onto ribs. Increase temperature to 300°F to finish cooking another 30 to 40 minutes. Remove when fork tender and ready to fall off the bone. Serve as with pear walnut biscuits.


Pear Walnut Biscuits

1 ½ cup milk
1 ½ tablespoon distilled vinegar
1 large pear, peeled and cubed
4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
½ cup shortening
1 cup roasted walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 475 °F.

Simmer milk with pear chunks until softened. Remove from heat and blend until smooth. Add vinegar and let sit a couple minutes to curdle.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in shortening until coarse crumbs form. Add in walnuts. Slowly pour in milk until it comes together.

Turn out dough on floured surface and lightly knead before rolling out into a rectangle. Cut out rounds with biscuit cutter, being careful not the twist cutter. Bake 10 to 12 minutes.

Honey Trout Gravalax

Photo by Libby Geboy

Photo by Libby Geboy

By Libby Geboy

Gravlax is a salty, sweet way to prepare fish, specifically salmon or trout. Originally from Sweden, the traditional way to prepare a whole side of fish involves wrapping the fillet in dill or pine needles (neither of which I used in this recipe out of personal preference). Feel free to wrap the fish with them and let it marinate in the greenery.

This recipe can be modified in many ways, using whatever spices you have on hand, like bay leaves, coriander, dill, caraway, fennel seeds (add about one tablespoon per filet of each spice) and brown or white sugar.

Only use the freshest of fish, as the fillet isn’t fully “cooked” but rather it is cured. I find my fish at the local farmer’s market, where I can count on the fish being clean and healthy up to its harvest. The vendor had told me that the fish I was purchasing had been swimming in fresh water until the day before it was caught, so I bought it!

The fish can marinate for up to 48 hours, but needs to be marinating for at least eight. It can be stored for a few days, but if it starts to smell funny before then, just get rid of it. It’s easy to eat on toast with sour cream, dill sprigs and a squeeze of lemon, so I bet it’ll be gone in no time!

1 medium-large filet of trout (or salmon)
1/3 cup natural honey
1/3 cup coarse grain salt
2 tablespoons cracked black or white pepper
1 tablespoon white sugar

Remove any pin bones that are along the thick side of the fish, careful not to disrupt the flesh as much as possible. Trim any fins or excess skin that might be on the sides of the filet. Place into a sheet of plastic wrap that will be big enough to wrap the fish in.

In a bowl, mix together the honey, salt, pepper, sugar and any other spices you are using. Rub onto the fish, massaging it gently. Place the fish onto the plastic wrap, skin side down. If using dill/pine, place a mass of it on top of the fish flesh. Tightly wrap the fish in plastic wrap, using another layer to fully wrap the fish. Put the wrapped fish into a shallow baking pan (I used a bread pan, as it fit the length of my fish), or a plate. This is so any liquid that escapes is caught in your drip pan.

Let the fish marinate for at least eight hours (but up to 48) in your refrigerator. When ready, open the wrapping, and remove the fillet. If desired, wash off the fillet to remove excess honey/salt. Using a sharp knife, thinly slice the fish, avoiding the skin.

Serve chilled, on top of toast with sour cream, more dill, a squeeze of lemon, with chives, or with oranges in a salad.

Very Good Chocolate Chip Cookies


Photos by Emily Buck

By Kara Evenson

It’s safe to say most moms have a chocolate chip cookie recipe, but my mom’s is the best. She has yet to reveal the true origins of her recipe, but I have unconfirmed suspicions about the back of a chocolate chip package. Instead she likes to claim that it is a 200-year-old family secret. It’s not.

All throughout my life my mom has been making these cookies; from sporting events, hunting trips and work parties to whenever she just feels in the mood, chocolate chip cookies end up in the oven, and a recycled ice cream pail is ready to be filled with the most delicious cookies ever.

So I could tell all of you some sappy story from my childhood about coming home to the smell of chocolate chip cookies in my kitchen, I have a few. However, most of the time I wanted my mom to bake anything but chocolate chip cookies. We had them around a lot.

Photos by Emily Buck

Photos by Emily Buck

I am just now starting to appreciate exactly what these cookies mean. From elementary field trips and long bus rides for high school sports to moving away from home the first time and my first internship, my mom’s cookies have always made an appearance in everything I do.

That’s why, instead of a recipe that is more unconventional, I wanted to share my mom’s Very Good Chocolate Chip Cookies with all of you.

1 cup butter
½ cup olive oil
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
a dash of salt
3½ cups flour
2 cups chocolate chips


Photos by Emily Buck

Preheat oven at 350 °F.
Mix butter, olive oil, sugar, brown sugar and eggs in a large bowl until combined.
Add in vanilla, baking soda and salt and mix until fluffy. Add flour, mix until combined.
Fold in chocolate chips.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Sweet Potato Corn Cake Tamales

Photos by Ashley Truttschel

Photos by Ashley Truttschel

By Ashley Truttschel

Spring is the most inspiring time for me. New Year’s may be a fresh start for many, but to me, spring signifies new beginnings and opportunities. More sunshine, vibrant colors and shedding layers of clothes make me feel like a new person. I am always in a happier mood come spring and that happiness is reflected in the food I eat. These Sweet Potato Corn Cake Tamales are perfect for the transition from winter to spring. They are not only colorful and light, but they also offer a little bit of warmth for those days where winter just does not want to go away.

Adapted from Fools, Folks and Fun and Budget Bytes

Sweet Potato Corn Cakes
4 large sweet potatoes
1 cup corn
2 green onions
1/4 cup cilantro
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Salsa Verde
2 small tomatoes
4 ounces diced green chilies
1 green onion
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro (chopped)
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Pico De Gallo
1 large Roma tomato
1 tablespoon red onion
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Southwest Sauce
1 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Prick each sweet potato and wrap in a paper towel. Microwave individually for 6 minutes or until soft in the middle. Once cool, remove skins and place into a large bowl.

Slice green onions and chop cilantro. Add green onions, cilantro, corn, cayenne pepper, cumin, salt and egg into the bowl. Stir until well combined.

Stir in cornmeal and breadcrumbs.

Cover and refrigerate for a half hour.

Add all of the Salsa Verde ingredients into a food processor and pulse until combined. Refrigerate.

Chop all of the ingredients for the Pico de Gallo. Mix with lime juice, salt and pepper.

Mix mayonnaise, white wine, water, sugar, chili powder, paprika, cayenne pepper and garlic powder for Southwest Sauce. Refrigerate.

Once the sweet potatoes are chilled, heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Form the sweet potatoes into small patties and cook about two minutes or until golden brown. Place on paper towel to drain.

Spread Salsa Verde evenly on each plate. Place sweet potato and corn cakes on top of the salsa. Top with Pico de Gallo and Southwest sauce. Add optional toppings such as avocado, sour cream or cheese.

Makes 12-18 cakes depending on size.

Sweet Green Tea

Photo by Libby Geboy

Photo by Libby Geboy

By Libby Geboy

A twist on the traditional southern black tea, this cool drink gets its sugary sweet goodness from natural honey. For this recipe, I used 1 tsp of matcha powder whisked into the hot water, but you can use any green tea steeped to your liking.

1 teaspoon green tea
12 ounces boiling water
honey, at least 1 tablespoon (but more to taste)

Whisk the matcha into hot water, or steep the green tea for 2-3 minutes.

Stir in the honey.

Let the tea cool, add ice and go outside into the spring sunshine to enjoy fully.

Strawberry Cupcakes

Photos by Annie McGrail

Photos by Annie McGrail

By Annie McGrail

Winter is over, the snow has melted and the flowers around Madison will soon be blooming. Cravings for the comfort of chocolate are transforming into a desire for lighter flavors and foods resembling the lightness of spring.  Because of this shift, strawberry cupcakes are ideal this time of year.

From Cupcake Wars to endless specialty cupcake shops, cupcakes are the trend of this generation. There’s not much better than strawberry cupcakes topped with a strawberry buttercream frosting. The rich batter mixes with freshly chopped strawberries and bakes into an irresistibly fluffy cupcake.  Swirled on top is the buttercream frosting, which has fresh strawberries stirred in to give it a fresh, spring flavor.

Strawberry Cake adapted from Martha Stewart


2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour, (not self-rising)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 large egg white
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups finely chopped strawberries, plus small strawberries for garnish


Preheat oven to 350 °F. Line two standard 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners; set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and 2 cups sugar until light and fluffy, three to four minutes, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour; beat until just combined. Transfer mixture to a large bowl; set aside.

In the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on low speed until foamy. With mixer running, gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar; beat on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, about four minutes. Do not overbeat. Gently fold a third of the egg-white mixture into the butter-flour mixture until combined. Gently fold in remaining egg-white mixture.

Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling each with a heaping 1/4 cup batter.

Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until the cupcakes are golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.

Transfer pans to a wire rack. Invert cupcakes onto rack; then reinvert and let cool completely, top sides up. Frost cupcakes with strawberry meringue buttercream, swirling to cover.

Cupcakes may be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Garnish with strawberries just before serving.


Buttercream Frosting adapted from Food Network

Photos by Annie McGrail

Photos by Annie McGrail

6 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 cup butter
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 to 4 tablespoons whipping cream
1 ½ cups finely chopped fresh strawberries

In a standing mixer fitter with a whisk, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed to medium and beat for another three minutes.

Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for one minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency.

Mix in strawberries.

Homemade Pesto Pizza

Photos by Thomas Yonash

Photos by Thomas Yonash

By Emma Doenier

Ironically, I’ve never enjoyed following recipes. At most, I’ve always thought they should be considered “guidelines,” not steadfast rules. However, I do appreciate recipes, not for their instructions, but for the ideas they inspire; cooking is my form of artistic expression.

Due to my penchant for breaking recipes, I’ve avoided baking for the most part (although my roommate could tell you a few horror stories about some monstrous microwave concoctions I’ve made in our apartment).

When my dad, an avid baker and follower-of-recipes, gave me a baking stone for Christmas, I was both ecstatic and skeptical of my ability to:
1) not break the board
2) not burn down the apartment
3) not accidentally poison my roommate.

However, I think I’ve since learned how to skirt the recipe within reason, at least when baking bread. Now, my dad says my bread looks better than his. This testament to my progress has spurred me to experiment with my baking skills, and so, the baking novice has become the mad baking scientist. My baked goods are edible though, even delicious.

The following recipe calls for both a little recipe following – though by all means, please experiment – and creativity. I encourage everyone to make this recipe his or her own!

Photos by Thomas Yonash

Photos by Thomas Yonash

Pizza crust:
*makes two 13-15 inch pizzas

1 cup warm water (~110°F)
1 package active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoon olive oil
extra flour

Dissolve the yeast in water. Let stand for five to 10 minutes; you should see a little fizzing/ bubbling. Add salt to water/yeast mixture and swirl.

Put flour into a bowl. Make a well in the flour and add half of the yeast mixture.

Work in the yeast mixture with your fingers, then add the olive oil and work in. Add the rest of the yeast mixture and knead vigorously for approximately 10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic.

If you have a food processor, add half of the flour to the processor. Add the yeast mixture and pulse until homogenous. Add olive oil and pulse. Keep adding remaining flour to food processor and pulsing (five to seven minutes), until dough is smooth and elastic.

*Add some chopped rosemary to dough (one to two tablespoons. to taste) and knead in for more flavorful dough; depends on type of toppings you want later though, so choose wisely!

Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a lightly greased bowl. Place a damp cloth over the bowl and cover with a plastic bag. Let the dough rise for 45 to 60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 500°F with a baking stone inside. If you don’t have a baking stone, an alternative could be a large cookie sheet.

Lightly flour a work surface. Divide dough into two equal halves. Roll each half into a 13 to 15 inch circle (~1/8-inch thick). Liberally flour/cornmeal a pizza peel (or whatever you have on hand to get the pizza easily into the oven – I use a plastic cookie sheet).

Fold the dough in half, then in half again, and transfer onto the floured pizza peel. Unfold.

Now rub a thin layer of olive oil (approximately one tablespoon) over the dough surface and top each shell with you favorite pizza toppings, leaving some space around the edge for the crust! You can also freeze one of the dough halves for a later date.

Photos by Thomas Yonash

Photos by Thomas Yonash

White Cheddar Pesto:
1 1/2 to 2 cup basil leaves
1/4 cup olive oil (add more if needed)
1/3 cup walnuts
2 to 3 garlic cloves
½ cup sharp white cheddar and/or parmesan
salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in food processor and blend. Add more olive oil if needed.


Toppings for pesto pizza:
Olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
cherry tomatoes, halved
5 to 10 sun-dried tomatoes, cut into small pieces (to taste)
~½-1 teaspoon oregano
1/3 red onion, sliced thinly
1/2 cup mushrooms
meat of choice (I like Italian seasoned turkey meat, or Italian chicken sausage)
salt to taste
1 package goat cheese or feta

Sauté all the ingredients, except the cheese.

Scoop pesto onto pizza shell and spread evenly, leaving about one inch edges for the crust. Spread the sautéed ingredients over the pesto. Dollop goat cheese onto pizza evenly.

Ease decorated pizza off of pizza peel and into the oven. Bake for 10 minutes and then check the pizza. Keep checking it every couple minutes if not done until the pizza has a golden brown crust.


Beginner’s Chocolate Cake

Photo by Libby Geboy

Photo by Libby Geboy

By Delaney Jacobson

Looking to kick-start your baking abilities? For our readers with limited baking experience, kiss boxed cake mix goodbye, because this delectable chocolate cake recipe is for you. Even I can’t mess this one up. What this cake lacks in complexity, it makes up for in taste, guaranteed. Did I mention this cake is also low in fat? Delicious and reduced-guilt? It’s almost too good to be true.

This was my grandmother’s specialty, as well as the first cake she taught me to bake. Its secret ingredient? Vinegar. That’s right. Now, before you refuse to bake this cake, don’t let its unconventional ingredients deter you. During the mixing process, the vinegar reacts with the baking soda to create a moist, dense cake with no trace of a taste of vinegar.

This recipe is very flexible (I opted for some coconut oil in place of the vegetable oil). As far as the topping goes, you can either dust the cake with powdered sugar or cocoa powder, or spread on your favorite frosting. For a Southern twist, top your cake with a fudgy frosting and garnish with chopped pecans.

For a rich, decadent chocolate cake, I have found that Hershey’s “Special Dark” cocoa powder works wonders. However, for those of you who prefer a milk chocolate version, regular unsweetened cocoa powder will do. Simply adjust the cocoa powder in accordance with your chocoholic desires.

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup warm water
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
¼ cup powdered sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix dry ingredients. Make a well in dry ingredients and add wet ingredients. Mix well. If the batter is not thin enough, add more warm water 1 tablespoon at a time, until you reach the desired consistency.

Pour into an eight or nine inch square or round pan. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool before frosting or dusting with powdered sugar.