Reducing a 9 x 13-inch pan recipe

Cook’s notes: I’ve been fascinated by small batch baking and reducing recipes for baked goods lately. Here are some notes I’ve found useful.

9 x 13-inch pan. Volume: 15 cups (24 to 36 cupcakes)

  • Cut recipe in half and use an 8 x 8-inch square pan
  • If recipe calls for 1 egg, use 1 egg (not 1/2 egg)

Square pan volume: 2 quarts or 8 cups (12 cupcakes)

  • 9 x 9-inch square pan
  • 9 x 5-inch loaf pan
  • 8 x 8-inch square pan

For any of these, cut the recipe in half and use a 6 x 6-inch square pan.
Note that a bread recipe for a loaf pan can be baked in a square pan.

Round pan volume

  • 9 x 2-inch round (8 cups): Also makes 12 cupcakes. Cut recipe in half and use a 6-inch round pan.
  • 8 x 2-inch round pan (6 cups): Same as 75% of a 9-inch pan recipe.
  • 6 x 2-inch round pan (4 cups): Makes 6 cupcakes.

Source: Includes Cake and Baking Pan Size Conversions – Allrecipes,,,,


Nut-free Snacks with Protein


Cook’s notes: Here is a list of snacks that are balanced with carbs and protein but don’t rely on nuts. I’m not allergic to nuts, but it’s nice to have nut-free snacks. I put nuts in my morning smoothie and don’t always want to eat them again in the same day. Hard-boiled eggs are also high in protein, but I can’t stand their texture, so they are not listed here.


Pick one dairy or protein serving: Match with one fruit, veggie, or grain:
1 oz. cheese (2 Babybel cheeses, 1 Laughing Cow wedge, 1 string cheese) 1 cup berries, blueberries, cherries, grapes, or pineapple chunks
Black beans with salsa, 1 cup 1 piece of fruit: apple, banana, nectarine, orange, or peach
Canned tuna, 3 oz. 2 small fruits: Mandarin oranges, plums
Cottage cheese, 1/2 cup Applesauce, 1/2 cup (unsweetened)
Cream cheese, 2 Tbsp. Dried fruit (1 oz.): 9 apple chips, 4 dried apricots, 1/3 cup dried fruit, or 2 Tbsp. Craisins or raisins
Deli turkey, 2 oz. 1 low-fat [black bean] brownie
Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup Bread: 1/2 bagel, 1 corn muffin, 1 slice whole-wheat bread, 1 English muffin, 1/2 pita pocket
Hummus, 2 Tbsp. Plain oatmeal, 1/2 cup
Low-fat milk, 1 cup Popcorn, 3 cups
Roasted chickpeas, 1/2 cup Tortilla chips, 10 each
Sunflower seed butter, 2 Tbsp. Whole-wheat Fig Newton cookies, 2 each
Sunflower seeds, 3 Tbsp. 1 cup raw veggies: Baby carrots, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, red bell pepper, or sugar snap peas
Turkey jerky, 1 oz. 1/2 cup cooked veggies or baked sweet potato

Sample combinations:

  • 1 cheese stick with 1 serving of crackers
  • 1 cup lowfat milk with 1 banana
  • 1 Laughing Cow cheese wedge and 1 cup raw red bell pepper strips
  • 1 oz. Brie with 1 cup cherries
  • 1 oz. cheddar cheese and 1 cup grapes
  • 1 oz. turkey jerky and 1 orange
  • 1 string cheese with 3 whole-wheat crackers
  • 1/2 bagel [or 1 rice cake] with 2 Tbsp. cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup black beans with salsa and 10 tortilla chips
  • 1/2 cup roasted chickpeas with 1/2 cup baked sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese and 1/2 cup pineapple chunks
  • 1/2 cup plain oatmeal with 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup yogurt and 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup yogurt and 1/2 cup berries
  • 2 Tablespoons hummus with 1 cup baby carrots
  • Half sandwich: 1 slice whole-wheat bread topped with mustard and 2 oz. turkey or chicken
  • 2 ounces deli turkey, 1 ounce aged cheese, 1 cup mini pearl grape tomatoes, and 4 pitted Kalamata olives (EatingWell:  October/November 2005)
  • Mix 3 oz. canned salmon with low-fat mayonnaise, and eat with 1 serving of whole-wheat crackers


2015 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 25,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 9 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Snacks without Nuts

Cook’s notes: It’s easy to get into a snack rut, for me, of 1 apple with 1 oz. cheddar for my afternoon snack. Plan ahead, so you don’t just grab some chips from the vending machine. Adding produce to snacks is an easy way to improve your daily eating.

Here are some templates with fruits and vegetables to make planning snacks easier.

  • 1 oz. cheddar and 1/2 cup grapes
  • 1 oz. cheese and 2 slices deli turkey
  • 1 oz. cheese, 1 serving crackers, and 1 mini cucumber
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese with 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup yogurt with 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup black beans, 1 oz. cheese, and 1 corn tortilla with salsa
  • 1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds with 1 oz. turkey jerky
  • 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal with 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup raw veggies with 1/4 cup hummus
  • 1 cup chocolate milk and 1 banana


Fruit choices: Match with 1 oz. cheese, 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup cottage cheese or yogurt, 2 graham crackers, or 1 oz. turkey jerky.

1/4 cup raisins
2 Fig Newton cookies
1 apple
1 banana
1 pear
2 mandarin oranges
1/2 cup blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries
1/2 cup seedless grapes
1 cup cherries

Vegetable choices: Match with 1 oz. cheese, 1 serving of crackers, 1/4 cup hummus, 1/2 cup cottage cheese, 1/2 cup bean salad, 1/2 cup roasted chickpeas, 2 slices deli turkey, or 2 cups popcorn. Vegetables are also tasty with Russian Dressing Dip, which is made with Greek yogurt.

1 mini cucumber
1/2 cup marinated beets
1/2 cup sugar snap peas
1/2 cup raw veggies
1/2 cup red bell pepper
1/2 cup roasted squash
10 snow pea pods
12 baby carrots
12 cherry tomatoes

Review: Beating the Lunch Box Blues

I cooked a few recipes recently from Beating the Lunch Box Blues by J. M. Hirsch (link). I wish a lot more of his recipes gave proportions, if not exact measurements, but this book is full of great ideas. The layout is energized, and a lot of the recipes will work for grown-ups taking their lunch to work.

Two of the recipes I tried have already been posted online, so those links are shared below. Overall, I highly recommend this book.

Garlicky White Beans and Tomatoes: Hirsch’s idea to roast canned white beans with tomatoes was really clever. The original recipe called for chicken thighs. However, this recipe makes an excellent side dish without meat:

  • Mix 2 cans of white beans (drained) with 1 pint cherry tomatoes and 4 cloves minced garlic. Toss with 3 Tablespoons olive oil and 2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary; season with salt and pepper. Roast at 425F on a foil-lined pan for 20 to 25 minutes. We served this with fluffy quinoa.

Turkey Sloppy Joes (link): These were terrific the next day. The list of ingredients is a little long, but the tomato sauce with roasted red peppers came together quickly in the Vitamix blender. I omitted the anchovy fillets and used smoked gouda  instead of shredded cheddar. Hamburger buns are not necessary: the sloppy joe mix can be served over pasta.

Thai Curry Barbecue Chicken Thighs (link): Oh my goodness. This recipe makes a sauce from red curry paste blended with peanut butter. It’s just delicious, even without marinating. Serve with Greek Yogurt Coleslaw.

Recipe Roundup: Tried and Liked April 2015

Black Bean Brownies without Flour (link): One of my coworkers started a Vegan Lunch Club, where we bring dishes to share. It’s been a fun way to try out new vegan recipes. At our first potluck, no one brought dessert, but we talked about black bean brownies. This recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie is great: vegan, gluten-free, and very fudgy.

Honey Mustard Salad Dressing with Greek Yogurt (link): This dressing is awesome on roasted beets or with raw baby carrots. It’s also good on salad. Reduced the honey in the recipe to 2 Tablespoons, and it’s still plenty sweet.

Rosemary-Garlic Chicken in the Slow Cooker (link): A wonderful way to cook boneless skinless chicken breasts so they aren’t dried out. The rosemary and garlic blend to make a delicious gravy.

Recipe Roundup: Tried and Liked Jan 2015

Quinoa Muffins

Quinoa Muffins

BBQ Chicken Quinoa Bowl (link, quickie recipe below)
Inspired by an article on the Weary Chef blog. Conveniently, we had leftover barbecue chicken and pork in the house. This would also be good with the addition of 1/2 cup beans.

Place 1/2 cup cooked quinoa in a bowl. Top with 1/2 cup shredded barbecue chicken (or pork) and additional barbecue sauce. Warm in the microwave. Top with a sprinkle of cheese, and heat for 30 seconds on High until the cheese melts. Serve warm.

Quinoa Muffins (link)
This recipe is an excellent. The cooked quinoa texture is similar to oatmeal. I made the muffins with regular 2% milk and not buttermilk, and they turned out delicious. I used an ice cream scoop to portion out the batter and got 15 tasty muffins (not 12).

2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 28,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 10 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Recipe Roundup: Tried and Liked Nov 2014

The cornmeal biscuits with added corn: highly recommended

The cornmeal biscuits with added corn: highly recommended

Cook’s notes: Here is a selection of recipes from other cooks that I tried out — these are good, with only minimal changes needed. Most of my changes include reducing the sugar and swapping out poultry for beef.

Go to the original sites, linked below, for the recipe and to see their photos.

Cornmeal Buttermilk Biscuits (link)
These biscuits are just amazing (or should I say, a-maize-ing). I made them with whole-wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose flour and added about a cup of corn to the batter. To make buttermilk, put 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice into a measuring cup, and add enough milk to make 1 level cup. Pat the dough into a rectangle and cut into 8 pieces. Large and delicious with just a little butter.

Creamy Pumpkin Dressing (link)
We reduced the sugar to 1/2 teaspoon and omitted the mayo. I used a garlic prep method (“press, then rest”) recommended by Jo Robinson. This dressing was great drizzled on roasted broccoli.

Pumpkin pasta with spinach riccota bites and  chicken sausage

Autumn dinner: Pumpkin pasta with spinach ricotta bites and chicken sausage

Pumpkin Pasta Sauce (link)
A vegan recipe that turned out well, except for the fried sage part. I served this pasta sauce with whole wheat penne pasta. The garlic and pumpkin is a great combo in a very simple recipe (1 cup pumpkin puree, 1/2 cup light coconut milk, 5 minced garlic cloves).

Spinach Ricotta Bites (link)
I used silicone muffin pan liners in a regular size muffin pan. Recipe makes 12 spinach ricotta bites: bake for an extra 10 to 15 minutes. These are delicious and could be eaten for breakfast as a side dish to scrambled eggs and fruit.



Roasted Chickpeas (link)
I used some dry barbecue rub handmixed by my mother instead of paprika (1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon dry barbecue rub, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/4 teaspoon cumin). These taste a little salty at first, but they are just delicious. Serving size is 1/2 cup of chickpeas.

I would make these again with this method from Sally’s Baking Addiction: rinse and pat dry. Dry roast the chickpeas at 400F for about 15 minutes, then take the chickpeas out of the oven. Drizzle with 1 Tablespoon olive oil, season with the spice mix, and  roast for another 15 minutes. To make the chickpeas extra crunchy, turn the oven off, crack the door open slightly, and leave the chickpeas inside as the oven cools down.

Shortcut Skillet Lasagna from the Weary Chef (link)
We used 4 links of fresh mild Italian turkey sausage from the butcher and omitted the 1 cup of shredded cheese — it wasn’t needed. The recipe can take even more spinach than the 3 oz. called for. Delicious and easy.

Spiced Bourbon Peach-Apple Pie (link)
Great pie! We omitted the caramel sauce. Increasing the filling by about half made enough filling for two generous pies (3 bags peaches; 8 apples, about 40 oz. of wedges). We also used a pie crust without lard.

Recipe Roundup: Tried and Liked for Oct 2014

Cook’s notes: Here is a selection of recipes from other cooks that I tried out — these are good, no changes needed. Go to the original site, linked below, for the recipe and to see their photos.

Beets and Greens (link)
As the orginal recipe writer said, “This is a great way to use every part of the fresh beets you buy. You can get two delicious side dishes out of this one vegetable.” Sautee the greens in olive oil with 2 crushed garlic cloves and salt and pepper. Finish with maple vinegar to keep the greens from getting too bitter.

Chinese Chicken Coleslaw Stir Fry (link)
We had a bag of shredded cabbage, and I wanted to make something besides coleslaw. This is an easy weeknight dinner from The Weary Chef blog. Leftovers taste great the next day. We served this over steam-in-bag frozen brown rice pilaf, to get a few more veggies in.

Parmesan-crusted Tilapia (link)
I’m learning to cook more varieties of fish. This one has a light cheese coating. Serve with rice and broccoli.

Pumpkin Pie Chocolate Truffles (link)
Made for me by a coworker; the coconut flavor really comes through in a nice way. Delicious!

Roasted sausages (link)
Jamie Oliver has a great recipe for roasted sausages on a rack — it took more than 20 minutes in our oven, but this is a very easy recipe. As he says, “You don’t have to worry too much about browning them on all sides as you can let the oven do the work and you don’t need to keep turning them.” Just roast them until they are no longer pink inside.

Rosemary Garlic Chicken Rub (link)
We used the “All-Purpose Spice Rub” recipe with 4 teaspoons rosemary and 2 teaspoons oregano (instead of 3 teaspoons each) to make Whole Chicken in the Slow Cooker — it’s an incredible blend of flavors. I also tried this rub on the Simple Bone-in Turkey Breast with a 2.5 lb turkey breast.

  • 4 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Menu: Rosemary Garlic Chicken, steamed sweet potatoes (made in microwave), Beets and Greens (link above) made with maple vinegar and diced apple, blanched green beans

Spaghetti squash in the microwave (link)
Very simple, didn’t heat up the whole house, and this method is quite clever. It doesn’t require you to set the two halves side by side: “cook any size spaghetti squash in half the usual space and doesn’t require plastic wrap at all.”

Trader Joe’s Albondigas (Meatball Soup) based on chowhound discussion (link)
Combine in a saucepan: 1 box (32 oz.) low-sodium chicken broth; 1 jar salsa (12 to 16 oz., any flavor); 1 can (15 oz.) black beans with their juice, do not rinse; and 1 bag frozen turkey meatballs. Simmer until meatballs are heated through. Cut meatballs into 8 pieces and return to soup. Serve hot with shredded cheese and tortilla chips. Optional garnish: diced avocado and lime wedges.