Archive | August, 2011

Vegan Banana, Zucchini, and Blueberry Bread

30 Aug

Hi!  Steve and I went to my brother’s house on Sunday afternoon – post hurricane.  We drove all around creation before-hand looking for a food store that was open, but had no luck.  We were both surprised by the lack of damage done by the wind (the flooding is a whole different beast).  That was until we turned on a street in my brother’s neighborhood and saw this:

We obviously turned around and sought an alternate route, but not before we saw somebody actually drive underneath this.  Some people are really lacking in the common sense department.  Anyway, when we walked in their house I smelled something wonderful.  My sister-in-law was baking 2 loaves of bread that she modified according to the ingredients she had on hand, and to make it safe for my nephew who has extremely bad food allergies (nuts, dairy, etc).  We had some for dessert and it came out so good that I asked her for the recipe so I could share it.  I’m not sure where the base of this recipe came from, but she made a lot of modifications, so here is what she did.

Kristin’s Vegan Banana, Zucchini, Blueberry Bread

Yield: 2 loaves

Ingredients:

1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1/8 cup wheat germ

1/8 cup flax seed

1 cup turbinado sugar (sugar in the raw)

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp baking soda

3 mashed bananas (ripe!)

1/2 cup shredded zucchini (if you are scared of grating your fingers off like I am, use your food processor)

1 large container of blueberries

1/2 cup canola oil

2 tbsp orange juice

cinnamon and nutmeg, to taste (use less nutmeg than cinnamon because it’s much stronger)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease loaf pan.  Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.  In a large bowl, mash up the bananas and add the oil and oj.  Add dry ingredients, blueberries, and zucchini and mix well.  Pour batter into your loaf pan (or 2 if you own 2) and bake for 50-55 mins.  Cool on a rack for 15-20 mins before cutting.

So good!  The bananas really work great at keeping the bread moist without loading it up with butter, eggs, or too much oil.  This is also the perfect recipe to hide ingredients in – for those with picky eaters.  My niece and nephew are definitely not picky eaters though! 

This is the first year that my brother and sister-in-law have their garden, and they have awesome produce decorating their house.

This is not from their garden, but check out the stem on that bad boy!

Back to the bread.  It’s really good.  Go make it!  Also, I have received my first request via email to modify a recipe.  I’m going to work on that sometime this week, so stay tuned.  Even if it’s an epic fail, I’ll still post it so you can see what not to do.  Have a good Tuesday, hopefully you wont be sitting in traffic for hours due to flooded roads like I will be!

Hurricane! And Wheat Berry Pudding

28 Aug

How is everybody out there?  Did you survive Irene’s wrath?  We were extremely fortunate that we had no significant damage on our street and we did not lose power!  Our local power company was on the news before saying that it can be 3-5 days before the people who lost power get it back.  Bummer.  Dakota was not happy with this whole hurricane nonsense..

 Unfortunately, two of our very close friends had a tree fall on each of their cars.  Luckily, they were not in the cars when the trees fell, so that’s the most important thing.  Hope you all fared well and do not have any flooding/damage done to your property.

After work on Friday, I went to my mom’s house to go through some of my grandma’s old jewelry and recipes.  It was really fun to see all of her stuff.  She died when I was very young so I felt like I got to know her a little bit better.  There were some very old Playbills from shows in the late 1930’s early 1940’s that were in perfect condition, so it was very cool to look through those as well.  The coolest part of the jewelry was my grandpa’s wedding band that my mom found. 

Very cool!  Then there was the box of old family recipes.  My mom let me take it home so I can go through everything thoroughly, and I have already gone through about 1/3 of it.  I cannot wait to start cooking and modifying these bad boys!  I say modify because I found a recipe for a cake that actually calls for 8 eggs and 3 lbs  of ricotta cheese!  I can’t make this stuff up..

For today’s post, I was planning on making something which required the oven.  However, out of fear of losing power and having our condo turn into a sauna, I decided against it.  I remembered seeing a recipe from Eating Well for a wheat berry pudding.  Interesting.  I was so curious to see how this would taste and it only required my stovetop, so wheat berry pudding it was.  I made some modifications to the original recipe and it came out soooo good! 

Wheat Berry Pudding: Adapted From Eating Well

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients:

1 cup wheat berries

3 tbsp plus 3 cups milk of your choice (i used almond)

2 tbsp ground cinnamon

1/3 cup maple syrup

1 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract

cinnamon sugar mixture for sprinkling on top before serving – this is optional

Rinse 1 cup of uncooked wheatberries and place them in a small saucepan.  Fill with water and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce heat and let simmer for about 50-60 mins.  Drain wheat berries and place them in a food processor with 3 tbsp milk.  Process until they are ground up – about 1 minute.  Empty into a large skillet and add 3 cups of almond milk and cinnamon.  Bring to a boil and then let simmer for about a half hour, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens up.  Remove from heat and mix in maple syrup.  You can serve this hot or cold.

To be honest, this is one of the best things that I have made in a while.  It came out killer, and it’s packed with nutrients from the wheat berries too!  For those who aren’t familiar, wheat berries are whole grains that are very high in all sorts of vitamins and minerals like fiber, magnesium, protein (1/4 cup uncooked kernels has 7g), and iron.  I think next time I might add a scoop of chocolate protein powder for an after-workout sweet snack.  Another good idea would be to add coconut, cocoa powder, or diced apples!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

TGIF and Dark Chocolate-Coconut filled Oatmeal Cookies

26 Aug

Picture of the sky as I was walking to my car from the food store last night

TGIF!  Even though it’s shaping up to be a doozie of a weekend here in the northeast due to Hurricane Irene, I’m still kind of looking forward to having a somewhat lazy weekend.  Funny side note – My mom and my sister are both named Irene, and this is the conversation via text I had with my sister the other day:

Me:  Stop wreaking such havoc in the Atlantic!

Sister:  Huh?

Me:  Hurricane Irene is going to be a category 4 hurricane!

Sister:  Oh, that’s not me, that’s mom! Haha!

Oh yes, at 27 and 31 we still blame Mom for everything.  Kidding, kidding!  Anyway, last night I took my final exam for my online summer course and now I’m done…. for two weeks.  I made oatmeal cookies to celebrate the occasion.  But not just any oatmeal cookies my friends, dark chocolate-coconut filled oatmeal cookies!  So very yummy, I think I should eat one for breakfast.  I figure if there’s oats in it….

Dark Chocolate-Coconut Stuffed Oatmeal Cookies

Yield: 12 cookies

Ingredients for Cookies:

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup organic brown sugar

3 tbsp earth balance, room temperature

1 egg (flax or chia egg for vegans)

1/4 cup agave nectar

1 tbsp water

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and mix using a hand mixer (you can use stand mixer, but it’s definitely not needed with this recipe).  Put  bowl with cookie dough in the freezer to chill up while you make the filling.  The colder it gets, the easier it is to work with.

Ingredients for Filling:

1 cup shredded coconut

1/4 cup dark chocolate chips, melted

1 tbsp earth balance, melted

Put all ingredients in the food processor and blend until mixed and slightly processed.  Take cookie dough out of the freezer.  Make a golfball sized ball of dough and make a deep thumbprint in the middle.  Put your filling in the thumbprint and cover with more cookie dough.  When finished, place on a sprayed cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes.

I highly recommend these, the filling is absurdly good.  You can also add protein powder to the dough to make these a really good after workout snack!  And if you don’t like coconut, try processing dried fruit with a little water in the food processor, or using a preserve (I bet fig preserves would work really well with these). 

If you live on the east coast, stay safe and dry this weekend!  Have a good one!

Cornmeal Sweet Potato Pancakes with Corn, Tomato, & Avocado Salsa

24 Aug

I need a shorter name for this recipe.  Any ideas?  Anyway, I want to start this post with a fitness review.  Steve and I purchased P90X about a year and a half ago, and were instantly addicted.  Well, Steve was into it for about 2 weeks and then his schedule became too much for him to commit full time.  Since then, my brother in law purchased a set of fitness videos called Insanity.  Steve decided that he wanted to try it now that he is finished with school for good, so on Monday we started the 60 day program (and last night was day 2).  Oh my goodness.  Honestly, I consider myself to be in pretty good shape, but this is just insanity (pardon the pun).  It is a high intensity, very fast paced, plyometric, cardio workout.  I have done some serious workouts before, but my lungs were on fire by the time I was done!  I know I’m making this sound very appealing right now, but if you are looking to be in the best shape of your life, this is the program to commit to.  P90X is great for people with an already high fitness level that want to take their workouts to the next level.  However, it focuses more on building muscle and less on cardio – which is what some people are looking for.  I will definitely update periodically over our 60 day Insanity journey to document our progress, how we are feeling, and how much our bodies have changed.

*Disclaimer #1 – Neither one of us are employed by, or affiliated with Beachbody whatsoever.  I am just writing based on our personal experience.

* Disclaimer #2 – I am not doing Insanity to lose weight, I just like torturing myself!

Ok, onto today’s recipe!  Last night I was in the mood for breakfast.  Kind of.  I wanted avocado too (my food cravings can be all over the place some times).    So I made Cornmeal Sweet Potato Pancakes with an awesome salsa on top. 

Cornmeal Sweet Potato Pancakes with Corn, Tomato, & Avocado Salsa

Yield: 8-10 small-medium pancakes

Ingredients for Salsa:

1 large avocado, cut up into small squares

2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced

1 can of corn

3/4 cup of diced red onion

1-2 tbsp lime juice

3 tbsp finely chopped, fresh cilantro

Mix all of the above ingredients in a large bowl prior to making pancakes.  Set aside.

I had to add this picture because I love that my dog’s head is popping up in the background

 

Ingredients for Pancakes:

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 cup cornmeal

2 tbsp baking powder

2 tbsp turbinado sugar (sugar in the raw)

pinch of salt

1/2 cup cooked, mashed sweet potato

1 cup milk of your choice

2 tbsp canola oil

*You can add an egg if you want them to be a little fluffier, but I didn’t use one and they came out fine

Place all dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.  Mix until incorporated.  Add wet ingredients and mix – just be sure to not over mix, this will make the pancakes more dense.  Heat a griddle and grease with cooking spray (re-spray after every batch).  These might take a little longer than typical pancakes to cook, but you’ll be able to tell when they are ready to be flipped.  When finished, plate and put desired amount of salsa on top of your pancakes. 

*Also, sour cream would be amazing on these, but that’s not healthy!  Instead, try a dollop of non-fat greek yogurt.  It really brings these over the top! 

This salsa was so good, you can definitely also use it for fish, chicken, or even pork dishes (if you eat meat).  For the vegetarians and vegans out there, try making this salsa for any savory dinner recipe, you really can’t go wrong!  Have a happy hump-day, and please pray for my poor muscles!

Carrot Cake Oatmeal

22 Aug

Yesterday was about 90 degrees with about 100% humidity.  We both needed a shower after taking our dog Dakota for a walk because it was so gross out – and that was at 9am.  So naturally, I came home later that evening and made oatmeal.  Hot oatmeal.  I can’t be stopped, I guess!  I’m in a major fall food-kind-of-mood this weekend, so carrot cake oatmeal it was.  It actually worked out good because I made a really big batch that will feed us breakfast for the week, in no time at all.  And when our air conditioner is running all night, its chilly in the morning so it makes it a little less weird eating something hot for breakfast.  This is what I tell myself to justify my actions.  Makes sense to me.  Anyway, carrot cake is one of Steve’s favorite desserts so I came up with this recipe last year around his birthday.   

Carrot Cake Oatmeal

Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups carrots (pureed)

2 cups oats (I use Bob’s Red Mill GF Organic)

2 1/2 cups milk (I used almond milk)

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 cup craisins

2 tbsp organic brown sugar

3/4 cup shredded coconut

Place carrots in the food processor and puree.  Put oats, milk, and carrots in a large saucepan over medium high heat.  Heat up until mixture is just about boiling.  Add maple syrup, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.  Stir well.  Let mixture simmer for about 10-15 minutes and then add the last 3 ingredients.  Once it is all incorporated, you can either serve immediately or place in a container and refrigerate.  Will keep in fridge for 3-4 days.

I used to never ever use my blender/food processor because it just seemed like a hassle to me.  Now it is something that I use pretty much every day, and it has not only expanded my horizons, but it has also made my life so much easier.  So if you are one of those people who look at their blender/food processor as more of a pain in the butt than a good thing, trust me when I say that this is one of the best kitchen tools ever!  It is not a hard clean-up at all – especially if all of your pieces are dishwasher safe, which most are.  I’m going to be posting a lot of recipes up here that use this lovely machine, so dust off that bad boy and get that motor running!  Have a great Monday!

Do have a fall dish that you cannot wait to make? 

Chai Pumpkin Cakes

20 Aug

We were at Whole Foods the other night, and while in the baking aisle I saw canned pumpkin.  I always try and stop myself from making anything pumpkin until at least September, but I just couldn’t help myself.  I love it.  So I grabbed a can and was very excited thinking about what I was going to do with it.  Steve is the best fake listener ever!  So, last night I decided to hit the kitchen and see what happened.  I started off with the basics: whole wheat four, baking soda, egg, sugar, and pumpkin.  I honestly didn’t know if this was going to be a loaf, cupcakes, muffins, or a cake (I probably shouldn’t admit that).  Then, I looked over at my Keurig and saw the chai latte’s sitting in the carousel next to the machine.  I love chai latte’s, and usually only drink them in the fall because the spices are just so fitting for that time of year.  I made a glass and instead of drinking it, I poured it into my batter.  Then I added maple syrup because I’m like Buddy the elf with maple syrup and can put it on everything!  I decided on putting the batter in a brownie pan and see what happened.  I was really surprised by what I got.  It came out so melty and gooey that you can almost eat it with a spoon when it’s warm!  It was definitely a great way to kick off pumpkin eating season in our household! 

Chai Pumpkin Cakes

Yield: 12 cakes

Ingredients for cakes:

2 cups whole wheat four

1/4 cup turbinado sugar (sugar in the raw)

2 tbsp baking powder

3/4 of a 15 ounce can pumpkin

1/3 cup non-fat greek yogurt

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup earth balance, melted

1 egg (I used chia egg for the added nutrients, but I will probably use a regular egg next time)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup prepared chai latte (if you don’t have this, try apple cider – that would be good too)

1/3 cup dark chocolate chips (try to go for 70% cocoa for antioxidant benefits)

Preheat the oven to 350F.  If you are using a chia egg, prepare it and set aside (1 tbsp seeds and 3 tbsp water).  Prepare chai latte in the Keurig and set aside.  Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Add wet ingredients one at a time and mix until incorporated.  Add chocolate chips.  Place batter in a greased 9×9 brownie pan.  Place in oven for approximately 25 minutes.  Let cool in pan.

While cake is cooling, prepare the glaze:

1/2 cup chai latte

2 cups powdered sugar

*I didn’t need to use a lot of the glaze.  You can even try 1/4 cup chai latte and 1 cup powdered sugar

Whisk the above 2 ingredients until you get a glaze consistency.  Take a toothpick or kabob skewer and poke holes in the top of the cake.  Take a spoon and drizzle desired amount of glaze on top of the cake.  Cut into 12 squares and serve. 

These are great served warm, but you can also eat them at room temperature and they should keep for 2-3 days.  Today we’re off to a bbq at my brother’s house, and I’m sure that there will be some good food that I will be writing about at some point!  Have a good weekend!

Special Occasion Meal

18 Aug

Tonight was Steve’s last day of school.  Ever!  I wanted to make him a special dinner to celebrate when he got home, but I wanted it to be a surprise.  His exam started at 6 and his school is 25 minutes from home.  I get out of work at 5:30, which meant I would have to get to the food store, go for a very quick run, and start dinner before 7:00.  I can do this.  I needed something really good that wouldn’t be too time consuming.  I decided on filet mignon with balsamic glaze, prosciutto wrapped asparagus, and salad.  We have been trying to only eat meat once a week (possible going 100% meatless, but that is a whole other post), so it seemed fitting for a special occasion like this.  For dessert would be one of my favorite healthy desserts ever – banana soft serve.  I decided to make a cookies and cream, nutella, banana soft serve.  Why the heck not?  I first read about banana soft serve from Angela at Oh She Glows and have been addicted ever since.  You can add anything you want to put your own spin on it, which I love.  And the best part is that it really tasted like soft serve ice cream.  So, so good!  Anyway, let’s get down to business!

What you will need for dinner:

2 – 6 ounce filet mignons

1 small bunch of asparagus

2 slices of prosciutto

1 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp brown sugar

What you will need for dessert:

2 frozen bananas

3-4 tbsp nutella (preference)

4 oreos (broken up)

*Note – Take the banana peel off of 2 bananas, cut up into 1 inch pieces, place in a little sandwich baggy and put them in the freezer.  They should be in there at least 2-3 hours, so do this a little earlier

Dinner Preparation:

Place balsamic vinegar in a saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in brown sugar, cover, and let it sit – only whisking occasionally – until you have a syrup-like consistency.  Preheat oven to 450F.  Take out steaks to let them get to room temperature.  Lightly season with salt and pepper and set aside.  Rinse asparagus and break off the ends.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  While water is boiling, create an ice bath by putting ice cubes in a large bowl of water – this is to shock the asparagus when they come out of the boiling water to stop them from over cooking.  Preheat an oven-safe, lightly sprayed skillet so it is HOT before you add the steaks.  Place steaks on skillet and sear for 2 minutes on each side.  Once this is done, place skillet in the oven for approximately 5 minutes for medium rare.  If you have a digital thermometer you want it to read around 135.  While the steaks are in the oven, place the asparagus in the boiling water for about 1 minute.  Drain and immediately place them in the ice bath for just a few seconds.  Remove from ice bath and place on a paper towel.  When steaks are done, put them on a plate and let them sit.  Cut the prosciutto into small strips and wrap around pieces of asparagus.  Pour the balsamic glaze over the steaks, prepare your salad, and serve!  Like this:

Dessert Preparation:

Place frozen banana pieces in a food processor until completely smooth – this may take a few minutes.  Once smooth, add Nutella and Oreos and process until all ingredients are incorporated.  Serve immediately.

I’m happy to report that Steve was surprised and loved every bit of his celebratory dinner.  Congrats Steve, I’m so proud of you!!