Sunday, March 10, 2013

(Pan)Cakes On Cakes On Cakes

Pecan Chocolate Granola - My Kitchen, Cambridge, MA

Picture made complete with greek yogurt, berries, apples,
granola and grandma's homemade caramel sauce of course
     One of the many benefits of coaching high school kids, is at the end of the season you get gifts! Now, I truthfully hadn't even thought about this until our banquet approached last year. From one of the moms, I got a jar of THE BEST granola I have ever eaten. I am not kidding. I sat in the grass outside the school and nearly ate the entire jar. I had to get the recipe. I have made granola 2 times before and it is NOT easy, but I will perfect this... someday. In my third attempt, I still think I cooked it a little too long. I did it ask long as the recipe called for, but next time I think I'll do a little less. My granola also wasn't as good as hers because I modified the recipe to use 1/2 of the required oil and replaced the other 1/2 with applesauce. Anyway, it still turned out really delicious. The toasted pecans are just the best. 

Pecan Chocolate Granola

5 cups rolled oats (I used my multigrain oat mix including oats, barley, wheat and rye)
2 cups nuts and seeds of choice
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 tbs cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup canola oil
1 or 2 tbs vanilla
1 cup dried fruits
1/2 cup Ghirardelli chocolate chips

1) Take 5 cups rolled oats, 2 cups nuts and seeds of choice (I used pecans), 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes and tablespoon cinnamon (more or less) and mix altogether .

2) In separate bowl mix 1/3 cup of both brown sugar and pure maple syrup, 1/2 cup canola oil high quality, 1 or 2 tablespoons of vanilla and then pour over oat mixture until completely coated.

3)  Pour out on a baking sheet with wax paper on it and flatten down firmly with a spatula. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes then rotatable in oven and bake 20 more minutes (I would suggest a total of 30/35 minutes, rotating after 15 minutes).

4) Take out and let cool on rack for one hour. Then add dried fruits and chocolate chips (I recommend dried cranberries and ghirardelli chocolate chips).

Banana Oat Pancakes - My Kitchen, Cambridge, MA

Pancakes seem to be popping up a lot in my life recently. I'm not upset. It's been fun because I'm trying to experiment with healthy varieties because it's easy for pancakes to be easy empty calories. Joan and I decided to have a pancake night and try this recipe for Banana Oat Pancakes I found on a blog called Cookie and Kate. I was too excited to try these babies that I forgot to take a picture, so look at her picture because it's beautiful. One thing that was interesting about these pancakes was that there was no flour in it...well your standard flour I mean. Instead I used oat flour, which is basically just oats that I beat to oblivion in a food processor. Genius! You get the nutritional benefit of oats but get to eat it in pancake form! One tweak I made to this recipe was using my multigrain oat mix instead of strictly oats. As mentioned before, this blend includes oats, barley, wheat and rye. And even though I forgot the lemon juice and honey, these pancakes were so good! They were a little more dense than normal pancakes and broke apart a little bit. Joan and I both agreed they could use a little bit more banana for some extra flavor. Or I think you could just use bananas that are really ripe (mine weren't quite there yet). Also note that these seem to burn a little bit quicker than standard pancakes, so be careful. I'm sure these would be good if you added some peanut butter or chocolate chips to the batter... ooo idea!

Banana Oat Pancakes

3 small bananas, mashed
2 tablespoons coconut oil or butter, melted
1 tablespoon lemon juice (about 1 small lemon, juiced)
1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
2 eggs
1 cup oat flour (
To make oat flour out of old-fashioned oats, simply pour one cup of oats into a food processor and process until it is ground well)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1) Stir together the mashed bananas, coconut oil (or butter), lemon juice and honey (or maple syrup).

2) Beat in the eggs. 

3) In a medium bowl, whisk together the oat flour, baking soda, salt and spices and add in all wet ingredients. Let the batter sit 10 minutes. Cook as if you would normal pancakes!

I Dream Of Falafel - Chicago, IL

Such a pretty loaded pocket
     Well... long story short, I've never been so happy to miss a bus in my life. My trip home for my grandma's funeral included flying to Chicago from Boston, and bussing it Chicago to Detroit. However, when your flight gets delayed, catching that bus is hard to do. In which case, you're one lucky gal who gets to find something delicious for dinner! Upon realizing catching this bus wasn't going to happen, I began researching places to eat a cheap meal. I happened on I Dream Of Falafel and it just clicked. It was destiny. I swear I looked like a giddy school girl when I walked in and kind of weird-ed out the workers behind the counter. I ordered their freshly baked laffa bread (which was incredible) stuffed to the gills with the lamb kebab, roasted red pepper hummus, red cabbage slaw, a shredded carrot slaw, cucumbers, and tomatoes topped with their raita sauce, which is apparently a yogurt, cucumber and jalepeno sauce. After packaging it all together, they pressed it in a panini press. I've never ran so quickly to catch a bus so I could sit down and eat. Pinch me. I absolutely could not believe how delicious this little sack of heaven was. The lamb kabab was freshly grilled lamb and beef cooked just for me. It was so hot and was incredible in combination with the raita sauce and the cool veggies
     While I was waiting for them to grill the lamb, the man behind the counter offered me one of their sweet potato falafel balls. It was awesome. Basically tasted like mashed sweet potatoes fried in the shape of a ball. So I had to order two normal falafel balls because... well... you can't go to I Dream Of Falafel and not get falafel. That's like going to The Cheesecake Factory and not ordering a piece of cheesecake for dessert. No... I don't care how full you are. Unacceptable. The falafel balls were just spot on too. They also offered me a half a bowl of their lentil soup with a little squeeze of lemon. I felt like a queen. What service. What customer appreciation! My standard of Mediterranean food has thus been raised.

 World Peace Cookies - Grandma's Kitchen, Clarkston, MI

I prefer to call them hidden chocolate lava cookies
     Grandma asks me to make cookies, I make cookies. There is no arguing. Plus, why would I ever argue that request? I wanted to make these chocolate chocolate chip cookies my roommate makes all the time, and I figured they were another Smitten Kitchen recipe, but as I found out later, it is not. However, at the time, I thought it was and ended up making one of her chocolate cookie recipes called World Peace/Korova Cookies. One thing I found peculiar about this recipe was that it didn't include any eggs. At first I was concerned about how they'd turn out, but let me just say that the crowd went wild. I didn't measure out any of the chocolate but used a mix of semi-sweet morsels and chopped bittersweet chocolate. I was also nervous about the bittersweet chocolate being too bitter but I was so amazed at what it did for the cookie. It brought this rich, elemental chocolate flavor without making the cookie overly sweet.
      These were all gone within 24 hours. HIGHLY recommend it for chocolate lovers out there :]

World Peace Cookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup + 3 tbs unsalted butter, at room temp
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped 

1) Mix together the flour, cocoa and baking soda.

2) In the bowl of a stand mixer (if you have one) beat the butter until soft and creamy. Add both sugars, the salt and vanilla and beat 2 more minutes. 

3) Pour in the flour mixture and beat until mixed. For best results, avoid working the dough too much. Don't worry if the dough looks crumbly. 

4) Add in the chocolate pieces and mix. 

5) Turn the dough onto a work surface, split in 2, roll into 2 logs that are 1 1/2 inches diameter, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours (or freeze for a shorter period of time). 

6) Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Slice the dough logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick. It's best to cut up the cookies in one quick motion with a really sharp knife. If you try to cut each cookie slowly, it may start to crumble. If it does, just push the pieces back together. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and bake the cookies for 12 minutes (add one or two minutes if you've just pulled the cookies out of the freezer). They won't look done, nor will they be firm. Just transfer to a cooling rack and let them cool until just barely warm. 

Quinoa Stuffed Cubano Peppers - Mom's Kitchen, White Lake, MI

Heavenly stuffed peppers
     I like making Mom tasty healthy things when I go home. This time I chose quinoa stuffed cubano peppers. Stuffed with what? Just a little quinoa, black beans, sweet corn, onions, tomatoes, cilantro and feta cheese. These were just deadly! However, the recipe I pulled from a blog called Once Upon A Cutting Board called for goat cheese. Since I seemed to forget that at the store, I opted for feta. I think the goat cheese would've given a more prominent flavor than the feta did. I was kind of bummed about that, but still the whole dish was delishious and super filling! I wanted to experiment with multiple peppers, so I first roasted 3 cubano peppers (even though the recipe called for pablano peppers), a green pepper and a yellow pepper. Then in order to make a sauce to cook them in I roasted a red pepper and a jalapeno and threw it in a blender with a little water, garlic, salt and pepper. It created this really delicious thin sauce that provided a quick burst of heat that quickly vanished. It was odd and unlike anything I can say I've ever tasted before. Try it out!

Quinoa Stuffed Cubano Peppers

5 medium sized peppers (I used cubano peppers and bell peppers)
2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
1/3 cup vegetable stock (optional)
1 jalapeno
3 garlic cloves
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped, plus more for garnish
1 small yellow onion
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 roma tomatoes, diced
4 ounces goat cheese or 1/2 cup feta cheese

1) Preheat oven to 475°F.  Rub peppers with two teaspoons of olive oil and place directly on the oven rack.  Roast in the preheated oven until soft and slightly blackened in spots, about 15-20 minutes, flipping once.  Let cool.

2) Meanwhile, bring 1/3 cup water and 1/3 cup vegetable stock to a boil in a medium saucepan (If you don’t have any open vegetable stock, you can use 2/3 cup water instead).  Add quinoa, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low to simmer.  Cook until tender, about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes, then remove lid and fluff with a fork.

3) In a blender, combine the roasted red pepper, roasted jalapeno, garlic, 3/4 cup water, and a dash each of salt and pepper in the blender and blend until smooth.  Add 1/2 cup cilantro and pulse a few times to combine.  Set aside.

4) In a large saucepan or deep skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat.  Add onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add corn, black beans, tomato, and cooked quinoa and stir until heated through, about 2 minutes.  Add 2 ounces goat cheese and stir until it's melted and completely mixed in.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5) Make a small slit down the length of one side of each pepper, being careful not to cut through to the other side.  Carefully remove seeds, leaving stem end intact.  Spoon quinoa mixture into each pepper to fill them.

6) Pour chipotle sauce into a 9x13-inch baking dish.  Transfer stuffed peppers to the dish, and dot with remaining 2 ounces goat cheese.  Bake until cheese is golden, 15 to 20 minutes.  Cool in pan 10 minutes and serve warm, sprinkled with additional chopped cilantro if desired.

Red Fox - Royal Oak, MI

Seriously... look how big that burg is. 
     While I was home for Grandma Dini's funeral, I was very fortunate to get dinner with some of the coolest cats around. After the viewing I met Meagan, Megan and Marc and we headed to Red Fox for dinner. Red Fox is this really chill English Pub above where Memphis Smoke used to be in downtown Royal Oak. It was kind of weird to be there again. Their menu was really unique and full of delicious English sounding things. I was torn between taking advantage of Meatloaf Monday or getting the burger I was craving. I went with the Lord Fox Burger since Marc was getting the open faced meatloaf sandwich that I could try. HO-LE-COW. This burger was the definition of plump. Lord have mercy. A hungry hungry hippo would have difficulty wrapping his jaw around this hunk of hamburger. The burg came topped with lettuce, tomatoes, caramelized onions, gruyere cheese and garlic aioli. Those onion, the cheese, and the garlic aioli were so good. I just learned what garlic aioli is (mayo jazzed up with some garlic and lemon juice) and it's no wonder I liked it so much. I <3 mayo. Either way it had an incredibly unique flavor that took the burger to a whole other level. I wonder if it's an English thing. The lettuce mixed in with the aioli, and boy did I like that. I'm weird. The burger came with this awesome shoe string fries. Win. So perfect.
Can't get much better than soft pretzels and cheese. 
     Oh and I almost forgot! We also got these BOMB soft pretzels with warmed fondue cheese to dip in. I love pretzels. These couldn't have been any better. They had that crisp outside shell and were super fluffy inside. And you can never go wrong with pretzel salt. My favorite.
     Marc's meatloaf sandwich was loaded with potatoes covered in this delicious gravy. The best part though was their balsamic roasted brussel sprouts. Those things were roasted nearly to a crisp and all the little layers toasted up so nicely. They were delicious.

BenjYehuda - Chicago, IL

My falafel ball is green inside?
Everything but the kitchen sink
     Once again, I had some spare time on my way back through Chicago, and I got to meet up with the lovely Mary Keegin for lunch! We hopped on over to BenjYehuda for more Mediterranean food. This place was awesome. It's considered an "urban street food" restaurant and gave off a super rugged feel the moment you walked in. A lot of metal, and a lot of worn wood. Well... there was Ball Sac on the menu, so naturally we had to get that. Ball Sac = 6 falafel balls that were far different than any falafel I've ever had. The outside of the ball looked like something rolled in bird seed. And the flavor inside was totally different and I can't pinpoint why. However it was green inside. I'm guessing maybe they used a decent amount of some herb to give it the different flavor and color. Basil perhaps. The outside was deliciously crisp and the inside was cooked to perfection. Really interesting.
     I ordered the chicken shawarma in a pita pocket stuffed with hummus, corn salad, tomato, carrot salad and cabbage salad. Woah buddy those spices that they used on the chicken were something else. They were decent sized hunks of chicken meat with a little sauce/spices. I'm guessing maybe a little curry. No, that wouldn't make sense. I have no idea. It had a little kick to it though. The coolness of all the other veggies balanced it out beautifully.

Roasted Sweet Potato Blood Orange Tacos - My Kitchen, Cambridge, MA

     This was just one of those things I thought about while staring into space at work. I do that a lot. I thought, what could I do with blood oranges? I bet it'd be good with quinoa. I need to use up my sweet potato as pre-pieces fuel for tomorrow. Oh wait... it's perfect. So I took some sweet potato and sliced it up into really skinny strips, coated it in a little oil and roasted it with my homemade taco seasoning on it. Meanwhile I prepared some garbonzo beans and quinoa, sliced up a blood orange and threw it on a flax seed wrap with feta cheese, spinach and my roasted sweet potato. Man oh man. What a combo! I felt like a culinary genius. The sweetness and spice of the taco seasoned sweet potato was such a great compliment to the sweet citrusy and cool blood orange. I must say, however, I think the whole package needs some sort of sauce. Maybe blend some of the orange with honey and lemon juice? I'm not sure. I'll have to experiment. Also maybe a different kind of cheese. I don't think I added enough feta. At least not enough to get a good sense of its presence.

Cornbread Pancakes - Hayley's Kitchen, Cambridge, MA

     Another pancake adventure. Don't hate. Iowa Girl Eats is a great blog. I like her style. She had this genius idea to make cornbread pancakes so I had to test it out at a post Saturday practice breakfast with the HPdivas. Well, first of all I used water instead of milk (so that dairy sensitive people could eat them) and I think maybe that took away a little flavor. I also didn't really measure anything. Kind of just threw it all together but holy cow were they good. Especially with a little melted butter and honey. Surprise surprise. They were, however, bricks. REAL dense. Maybe I should've measured things out. If you're a fan of cornbread, try it out. But let's get real... who isn't a fan of cornbread?

Man Pleasing Chicken - My Kitchen, Cambridge, MA

     I won't lie. I'm impressed with how many Pinterest recipes I'm actually making. I found this one from a blog called Witty in the City. I had quite the successful dinner. Wait... who am I kidding. This chicken was mind blowing. Real simple. Mix together dijon mustard, maple syrup and rice vinegar. Slice up an onion (I added this step to the recipe) and mix it in with the sauce in a shallow baking dish. Plop in the chicken and bake. WOAH. I liked every scrape out of that bowl that I could. The mustard lost some of its bite and the maple syrup wasn't overly sweet at all. It all got thicker the longer the chicken baked and the onions caramelized beautifully within the sauce.  I threw it in some lettuce leaves and had some wraps. Now if only I had a man here to please with it.

Man Pleasing Chicken 

(serving for 1) 
1 large chicken breast
1/4 cup dijon mustard
2 tbs maple syrup
1 medium onion
1 1/2 tsp rice vinegar
salt and pepper

1) Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. 

2) Mix the maple syrup, mustard, sliced onion and rice vinegar together in a shallow baking dish. 

3) Toss in your chicken breast and coat with the sauce completely. Salt and pepper the entire mix. Top with fresh or dried rosemary. 

4) Bake for 40 minutes, basting the chicken halfway through. 

5) Remove from oven and let sit 5 minutes. Slice chicken and place in lettuce leaves. Top with onions and sauce. Presto!

No comments :

Post a Comment