Lunch With Loni

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Pumpkin Vanilla Chai Baked Donuts February 23, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 9:23 pm

As you can tell by the photo, I do not own a donut pan.  So I made these donuts in silicone muffin liners, which turned out just fine.  I would have made them in my mini muffin liners to make donut holes if I had been able to locate them!  The recipe is really vanilla chai donuts, but I added a little pumpkin I had leftover from a different recipe.  So yummy I may just have to get a donut pan to recreate these exactly how they’re meant to be!  They do take a whole stick of butter, which may be why they are just so rich and delicious.  But they’re surely healthier than the ones you’d get at the grocery store or one of the big donut chains, right?  And the flavor combination is definitely a winner!  Oh, and I don’t like things too sweet so I just added a tiny bit of tea/sugar glaze on top and not the icing they call for.  So basically mine look NOTHING like the ones on the original recipe.  But you could make them either way and I’m sure you’ll find them to be scrumptious!


 Recipe Located At:


  Vanilla Chai Pumpkin Donut



  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup vanilla yogurt  (I used 1/3 cup vanilla yogurt and 1/3 cup pumpkin)
  • 1/3 cup strong brewed tea, cooled (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups flour


For the icing (which I did not make):

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons strong brewed tea
  • 1/4 cup white sanding sugar



1.  Cream the butter, brown sugar, and honey in a mixing bowl. Add the egg, vanilla paste, and yogurt and mix again. Sift together the salt, baking powder, baking soda, and flour. Add the flour and the cooled tea alternately to the butter mixture, until everything is mixed in.

2.  Spoon the donut batter into a large ziplock bag and cut off one tip. Spray the donut pan with non stick spray and fill the donut pans 1/2 to 2/3 full. Bake at 375* for 11-12 minutes (takes about 5 minutes longer in a muffin pan). Let the donuts cool in the pan 3-4 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

3.  Stir together the powdered sugar and remaining tea. Dip the tops of the donuts in the glaze. Sprinkle with white sanding sugar while the glaze is wet. Let set. Store donuts in a sealed container for up to 5 days. Makes 15 large donuts.


Dark Chocolate Banana Muffins February 21, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 3:42 am

The originator of this recipe pointed out in her blog post that they only require one bowl to make.  This is something both me and my husband (who generally cleans the kitchen) can truly appreciate.  It is also a lot easier to bake while watching a toddler tornado when you’re not in and out of a ton of cabinets and dealing with a lot of bowls/utensils/gadgets.  Plus, they incorporate chocolate.  So really it’s a win no matter what.  I actually totally forgot to put oil in these the first time I made them and surprisingly they still turned out well.  Does anyone else make those mistakes in the kitchen?  I even had it out on the counter!  I would definitely make them with Greek yogurt instead of oil as well.  I’ve done that with recipes like these before with good results.


 Recipe Located At:


  Dark Chocolate Banana Muffins



  • 2 medium bananas (about 1 cup), over-ripe
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp unsweetened almond milk (or sub 2% dairy milk)
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp (packed) light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (look for dutch-processed)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1-1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 cup all purpose and 2/3 cup whole wheat flour)
  • 1/4 cup miniature chocolate chips (bittersweet or semisweet)
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seed (I added this for a little extra nutritional boost)



Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

1.  In a large mixing bowl, use the back of a fork to mash the banana until only very small lumps remain. Add the vanilla and the egg and use the fork to whisk the mixture together until completely combined. Add the oil and milk and stir to combine. Add the sugars and stir again.

2.  Using a spatula, stir in the cocoa powder, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Mix until the cocoa is completely incorporated. Stir in the salt and baking soda, then gently fold in the flour, until just combined.

3.  Divide the batter among 12 paper-lined muffin cups, about 3/4 full. Sprinkle with the chocolate chips. Bake for 15-17 minutes, rotating once, until the muffin tops look set, and a cake-tester inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool in the muffin tin for 5 minutes, before removing and cooling completely on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room-temperature.

Definitely try one while still warm out of the oven.  Nothing beats gooey chocolate chips!


Baked Chicken Parmesan Meatballs February 13, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 8:11 pm

Yes, I just made eggplant parmesan burgers.  It’s really not a surprise that I wanted to make these chicken parmesan meatballs, right?  They were perfectly garlicky and cheesy and the bit of cream in the sauce really rounded everything out and made this the perfect snow day comfort food dinner.  We ate them on rolls like meatball hoagies and then over pasta as leftovers.  Really good any way you try them!  I made a few modifications to the recipe, as usual to make things slightly easier and leave fewer dishes/gadgets to clean.  End result?  Delicioso!

 Recipe Located At:

As adapted from:

  Baked Chicken Parmesan Meatballs

This is my reheated leftover meatballs—not the full batch!


For the sauce: 

  • 1 (28 oz.) can tomato puree (or you can put a can of whole tomatoes in the food processor, reserving the liquid)
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion
  • 1½ tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream or half-and-half (I used evaporated milk)

For the meatballs: 

  • ½ cup dried panko
  • 1/3 cup grated onion
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1½ lbs. ground chicken
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil

To finish: 

  • 4 oz. shredded mozzarella
  • 2 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2-3 tbsp. minced fresh basil (optional)


1. Melt the butter in a large, deep skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and cook about 1 minute, until it begins to soften.  Stir in the tomato paste, garlic and red pepper flakes and mix just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in the tomato mixture (original recipe calls for putting a can of tomatoes in the food processor, but I used a can of tomato puree), lower the heat to a simmer, and cook about 5-8 minutes, until the sauce is slightly thickened.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream.  Set aside.
2. To make the meatballs, combine the panko, grated onion, parsley, basil, Parmesan, salt, pepper, garlic and egg.  Stir together with a fork just until blended.  Mix in the ground chicken and knead together gently until evenly combined.  Form the mixture into meatballs about 1½-inch in diameter.
3. Put the oven on broil.  Spray a baking dish or Dutch oven with olive oil.  Place a single layer of meatballs in the bottom (don’t have them touch if you want them to brown nicely).  Bake until browned.
4. Once all of the meatballs are browned, add the tomato sauce to the dish.  Sprinkle the mozzarella and additional Parmesan over the top.  Bake until the cheese is fully melted and bubbling and the meatballs are cooked through, about 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and garnish with the fresh basil.  Serve warm.


Lighter Gingerbread Cake February 8, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 10:36 pm

Healthy and tasty?  Yep.  As advertised, this gingerbread makes a good “dessert for breakfast” recipe.  There is a recipe for a cream cheese frosting you can put on it, but I stuck with just the cake.  While the chocolate gingerbread cake I made this fall wins the gingerbread war, this is a great healthier alternative!  It’s also a great way to utilize carrot juice.  I keep some in the fridge that I put in fruit smoothies, but when I came across this recipe I figured I’d put it to use in another way.

  Original Recipe From: Katie of the blog, “Chocolate Covered Katie”

  Original Recipe Located At:

  Gingerbread Light


  • 2/3 cup milk of choice
  • 1/4 cup molasses (blackstrap or regular) (50g)
  • 1/4 cup liquid sweetener of choice (such as pure maple syrup) (60g)
  • 1/3 cup carrot juice (80g)
  • 1 tbsp white or apple cider vinegar (15g)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable or melted coconut oil (20g)
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxmeal (12g) (or 2 tsp energ
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or Bob’s gluten-free mix or spelt flour) (120g)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 cup xylitol or brown sugar (45g)
  • 1/2 cup raisins, optional


Preheat oven to 400 F and grease an 8×8 pan. In a large measuring bowl, whisk together the first seven ingredients (all liquid ingredients and the flax). Let sit at least 5 minutes. In a separate measuring bowl, stir together all remaining ingredients. Pour wet into dry, and stir until just evenly combined. Do not overmix. Pour into the pan and bake 25 minutes, then remove from the oven and let sit another 20 minutes to cool and achieve the correct texture.


Eggplant Parmesan Burgers February 1, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 6:55 pm

I like veggie burgers, but not all veggie burgers.  You know those quinoa ones in that football commercial on TV?  Those don’t look good.  I like vegetarian burger options that don’t pretend to be meat.  Spicy black beans and corn?  Check.  Roasted vegetables?  Check.  Eggplant parmesan?  CHECK.  These are better than actual eggplant parmesan, in my opinion.  The fact that you squeeze the moisture out when you’re making these means that you don’t get a soggy/mushy eggplant that turns most people away from the vegetable in the first place.  It’s a little more effort than forming up some meat patties or tossing some frozen veggie burgers in the toaster oven, but the extra effort is worth it.  They still don’t take very long and all you need is a salad on the side for a complete meal.

Recipe From:

  Eggplant Parmesan Burger


  • 2 large eggplants (about 2 lbs.), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups panko
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp. minced fresh basil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2-3 tbsp. olive oil
  • Marinara sauce (about ¾ cup)
  • Sliced mozzarella cheese
  • Burger buns, sliced and toasted  (My favorite ones are the Publix French hamburger rolls.  They have a nice crusty exterior and hold up well to any burger.)


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.  Add the eggplant to the pot and cook, stirring frequently to make sure the eggplant cubes all get submerged. Cook until the cubes are softened, about 8-10 minutes.  Drain in a colander and let cool.  Once cool enough to handle, spread between layers of clean kitchen towels or multiple layers of paper towels and press out as much excess liquid as possible.  Once the eggplant is drained, transfer to a cutting board and chop finely.

2. Transfer the chopped eggplant to a large bowl.  Add the panko, Parmesan, parsley, basil and garlic to the bowl.  Stir in the eggs.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Form the mixture into six patties.

3. Preheat the oven to 450˚ F and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.  Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the patties to the skillet and cook, turning once, until the burgers are browned on both sides.  (Add the additional 1 tablespoon of oil when you flip the burgers, if necessary.)  Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the patties to the baking sheet.  Top each patty with a few tablespoons of marinara sauce and a layer of sliced mozzarella.  Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake about 3 minutes or until the cheese is melted.  Assemble with burger buns and any other desired toppings. I toasted the buns with a little butter and garlic.  Yum!