Thursday, April 12, 2012

Quinoa: Day 2 with Yellow and Red

Yet another successful quinoa recipe today. Actually two, but the first one was just thrown together with random foods I had in the fridge. 

It did not get photographed but had quinoa (of course, duh), sweet potato (leftover from yesterday), black beans, cilantro, tomato paste, smoked paprika, cayenne and s + p. Admittedly, I was a little embarrassed to eat it in front of my coworkers today because it kinda looked like a mess. Regardless though, it was tasty, for sure, just not the most photogenic food ever made. 

The quinoa dish for dinner, though, was (semi) photogenic, and tasty. WIN.

Quinoa Caprese Salad
((serves 1))

1/2 C bocconcini or fresh mozzarella
1 medium tomato
1/2 C cooked quinoa
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 T olive oil
1 T basil
S + P

1. Prepare the fresh mozzarella like this.  And if you're using the cheese in the large ball, cut into bite size pieces.
2. Chop tomatoes into bite size pieces and toss with tomatoes, olive oil and season to taste with s + p.
3. Pour the balsamic vinegar into a saute pan over medium high heat and reduce until thick, about 5 minutes.
4. Mix mozzarella with tomatoes and quinoa and drizzle with balsamic glaze. 
5. Enjoy!

I was lucky enough to find some great looking tomatoes at the market earlier this week. Usually tomatoes don't taste like anything until the summer. The ones I found were labeled "heirloom" so I knew they had to be excellent. Fortunately, I was right, this time. 


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Quinoa: Day 1 with Green and Orange

Everyone knows about how great quinoa is...ancient grain eaten by the Incans (not actually cause it's a seed), lots of protein, fiber-rich, gluten-free, bla bla bla. 

My opinion is that it's just okay. Millet actually tastes way better, if you ask me. 

Anyway, I made a huge batch of quinoa on Monday to eat from all week. So far it's worked out well but today's creation was exceptionally delicious. And I wanted to share because I am so generous. 

So many colors here it hurst my eyes. So many textures and flavors going on. Sweet and chewy cranberries, creamy sweet potatoes, crisp, green broccoli and asparagus, quinoa pop, slightly spicy black pepper. If only I had been thinking. Chopped almonds would have been the finishing amazingness. Yep. That's a word. I was missing that crunch from nuts. Bummerrr.

Sweet Potato and Vegetable Quinoa
((serves 1))

1/2 C cooked quinoa
1-2 T orange juice
1 small sweet potato
handful of asparagus
handful of broccoli
1-2 T dried cranberries

garnish: chopped fresh parsley, chopped almond, parmesan cheese

1. Heat water and set up steamer basket.*
2. Peel and cut sweet potato into 1 inch cubes. Cut asparagus and broccoli into small pieces, too. 
3. Toss the sweet potatoes in the basket, sprinkle with salt and steam for ~8 minutes, covered. Remove. 
4. Toss in the broccoli and asparagus with the cranberries, sprinkle with salt and steam for ~4 minutes, covered.**
5. While the broccoli and asparagus cook, toss the quinoa with the orange juice and mash about half the sweet potato into the quinoa, leaving some chunks whole. 
6. When veggies are done, toss with quinoa + sweet potatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish if desired. 
7. Plate up and chomp!

*I recently bought a steamer basket. Go buy one. It was the BEST PURCHASE EVER. Well, with the exception of my Cuisinart food processor, of course. 

**The cooking times here are a sliiightly estimated since I rarely time anything or measure anything, either. I'll just say, cook potatoes until tender and the green veggies until tender-crisp. OR to your liking. I won't (I WILL) judge you if you overcook your greens until they're not really green anymore, instead they're mushy and gray...... that is your choice. 

This makes a perfect side dish or you could add some more protein and make it a meal. Diced cooked chicken, white beans, poached egg even???? Go for it. 

And of course adjust the recipe to feed more. Double, triple, quadruple, quintuple, sextuple, septuple, octuple, noncuple, decuple....uhhhh, you get the idea.

Enjoy color!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Honey + Peanuts

How fun is it to make  someone a gift?? Way better than purchasing one, if you ask me. I have a friend that likes honey roasted peanuts and loves crunchy peanut butter. 

Why not combine the two?!?! I can think of no reason not to. 

Chunky Honey Roasted Peanut Butter

2 lbs of roasted UNsalted peanuts
2 T honey
3/4 t fine salt

1. Process 1.5 pounds of the peanuts in the food processor. 
2. Once smooth, add salt and honey. Process and taste. Adjust honey and salt to taste. 
3. Pour in the remaining half pound of peanuts and pulse until chunkiness is to your liking. 
4. Scrape the food processor cleaning making sure to get every last drop. 

After pouring into jar I may have licked the blade. 
Risky? Yes. 
Worth it? Absolutely. 

Only part I would change was the color of this peanut butter. It's too pale. Maybe I'll try roasting the peanuts myself next time to get a deeper color.

close up. 

The perfection that was this peanut butter really has me thinking about starting a food business one day...........

Monday, March 26, 2012

Spicy Mango

I just love a good spicy meal. This weekend I ventured to the huge Asian market looking for some good foods to try. I walked into the chili sauce aisle and was in heaven. There must have been about twenty different ones to choose from. I settled on chile habanero. I also picked up some mature coconuts, researched how to crack them open and went to work. This was fun and I shredded the meat in my food processor to try making coconut butter but this did not work. It's bugging me I can't figure out why. 

While I was out shopping I had yogurt working in the warm oven. I was so pleased when I got home and it had worked! Tastes great too!

Homemade Yogurt

1/2 gallon of organic milk
1/4 C organic plain Greek yogurt

1. Heat the milk slowly in a large heavy saucepan to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. 
2. Remove from heat and cool to 100-110 F.
3. In a seperate bowl, thin the yogurt with some of the warm milk.
4. Pour thinned yogurt into the milk and whisk to combine thoroughly.
5. Transfer this mixture to a contianer, cover and wrap in a towel to insulate. 
6. Place in a warm over set to about 110-115 F so that the fermenting yogurt can maintain a temperature of about 100-110 F. 
7. Have a thermometer hanging in the oven so you can periodically check the temperature. Leave alone for 8 hours.*
8. Remove from oven and refrigerate!**

*I read that if you jiggle or disturb the yogurt while it's fermenting, it won't allow the bacteria to grow and turn the milk into yogurt.

**You have the option of straining the whey (liquid) from the solid yogurt portion through cheesecloth if you want a thicker consistency. 

Also at the store I picked up my first mango since last summer. Mango is my FAVorite fruit! For dinner I decided to make a mango salsa to put on my chicken tacos. 

Mango Salsa

1 mango, cubed
Tomato, chopped
garlic clove, minced
shot of chile habanero sauce
lime juice
s + p

Combine all and let mingle for 20 minutes before serving!

I layered two corn tortillas, refried beans, pulled chicken breast and topped it with the salsa. Simple and delicious dinner that was so quick!

A little something I learned-- 
At first these last two pictures look the same. If you look more closely, at the cilantro leaves in particular, the top ones are much lighter and have less shadowing. This is because I used something called a light bounce to reflect the light coming from the window, back onto the food. In this picture, sunlight is coming from the right side, and the light bounce (just a white foam board) was placed on the left to reflect the light back. Pretty neat, huh??


Friday, March 16, 2012

Stuffed Food > Unstuffed Food

Think for a minute. Name one food that tastes awful when stuffed with another food. . . . . . . .

I'm waiting . . . . . .

Okay time is up. I knew you couldn't think of one.
Because there are none.

Let's take a moment now to reflect:

  1. Justin's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup (or a Reece's Cup for you who have yet to meet the amazingness that is the line of Justin's products). Chocolate stuffed with peanut butter. THE single most tasty combo humanly possible. Maybe I'm just a little biased though, but no matter.
  2. What about a steak? Stuffed with crab meat?? YES please. 
  3. Meatballs? With a melty cheesy center?? Mmhmmm.
  4. And I suppose I won't neglect to mention turkey, stuffed with...stuffing??!? Winner. 

Four examples are enough, and I also can't think of anymore ATM.

Today it's all about a stuffed pepper. Oozing with cheese.

The recipe that follows is from memory. When I get going in the kitchen, I just throw stuff together, and definitely don't write down amounts. Below I have approximated.

Also, everything is better with spice. And lots of it. If you're a wimp, omit the cayenne and substitute the habanero pepper cheese for a plain, boring cheese with no character.

Spicy Stuffed Pepper
((serves 1))

2 T dry millet (or other grain: rice, quinoa, bulgar)
1 large garlic clove
1/4 c kidney beans*
1/2 T tomato paste
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1/4 t chipotle chili powder
1/2 t smoked paprika
S+P to taste 
1 ounce of habanero pepper cheese (YUMMM)
1/3 c frozen yellow corn
1/4 c green pepper, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, whole
Pepitas for garnish (and crunch!)

1. Soak, rinse and cook millet. I added the minced garlic to the millet while it was cooking along with S+P.
2. While millet is cooking: drain kidney beans, reserving the liquid. Mash half with the tomato paste and seasonings until smooth-ish. Add some of the bean liquid if needed to loosen.
3. Grate the cheese and mix most of it (reserve some for topping) with the corn, green pepper, kidney bean mash and whole kidney beans and cooked millet. Mix only until combined so you don't lose the integrity of the vegetable's shape. We're going for texture here!
4. Cut and trim the red pepper into a bowl shape for filling and STUFF it.
5. Bake on tin foil (can get messy) in a 350 F oven for about 20 minutes.
6. During the last 5 or so minutes, sprinkle with cheese and pepitas. Pop back into oven until cheese it melted and pepitas are toasted.
7. Plate up and devour!

*I cooked my own from dry, in the crockpot and added crushed garlic clove, bay leaves and S + P to the cooking water.

You could CERtainly serve this up with a salad, but lets be honest, that's unlikely. And this is plenty filling alone. Actually, I would suggest serving alongside ice cream. heheh. But only after you have recovered from the stuffed pepper induce coma.

What have I said about texture in the past?!! IT IS EVERYTHING. This was so perfect. The pepper cooked slightly, still with some firmness, the sweet bite of the corn, creaminess of the kidney beans, the melty and crunchy topping of the cheese and pepitas. Couldn't have been better. Can beat the color combo either. Red + green +yellow. Yep!

Speaking of ice cream, I've had my eye on some So Delicious coconut ice cream for the last several months (feels like eternity). I leave on the hunt for this deliciousness, no pun intended.

(insert witty remark here like Jennifer does)


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Culinary Marriage

Man, its been a while. I've been super "busy" or should I say, I've been super lethargic lately. It's a combination of that and the fact that I haven't made much lately that was worthy of posting. But this. Oh, this is a marriage between chipotle and sweet potato. Both of which are on the top of my favorite foods (or ingredient) list. I'm serious about this. The sweetness of the potato and the smoky heat of the pepper is to die. Doesn't hurt the colors also look lovely together as well! Hummus is SUCH an easy food to make, it's hard to imagine buying it. The flavor combinations for homemade hummus are like, infinity plus 1. 

Sweet Potato Chipotle Hummus
((makes about 1.5 cups)

3 cloves garlic
2 cup chickpea
1 sweet potato (about 3/4 cup mashed)
2 T cashew butter (or tahini)*
2.5 chipotle peppers
1/4 t cinnamon
1/2 t smoked paprika
1 t salt

1. First, make sure you've cooked both the chickpeas and sweet potato.**
2. Get out your food processor and toss in the garlic and pulse to chop. 
3. Add remaining ingredients to food processor and buzz until all is combined. You may need to add a bit of water to loosen hummus.
4. Store in airtight container after you've dished yourself out a hefty serving!

Note: I approximated the amount of sweet potato above because the batch I made was exceptionally sweet. Adjust to your taste. 

*I made cashew butter from raw cashew. Add cashews to food processor and buzz until butterized. I do not particularly care for tahini and also don't know how I'd use an entire container of the stuff. 
**I buy dry beans and soak them overnight then cook them on low in a crockpot for 8 hours on low. Bake sweet potatoes in a 400 F oven for about 45 minutes until tender. 

And what better to dip into your hummus than chips? What about homemade chips?? Or are they crackers? I don't know..and I don't care. These were ever so slightly sweetened and earthy tasting, in a good way. Aaaaand they're a cracker-chip you can feel good about eating. 

Whole Wheat Flax Cracker Chips

60 gram flax seed
120 gram whole wheat flour
1/2 t salt
1 T honey
1.5 T coconut oil (melted)
~1/3 C water

1. Heat oven to 300 F. 
2. Pulse seeds in food processor.*
3. Melt coconut oil and honey together in microwave.
4. Pulse all ingredients except water in food processor until combined.
5. In a slow stream, add water just until dough comes together.**
6. Turn dough onto floured surface and roll very thin. 
7. Transfer dough to a baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, turing once halfway through so you achieve even browning. 
8. Allow to cool and break into regular cracker size pieces. 
9. Dip into your favorite hummus!

*Nutrition from broken flax seeds or milled flax seed is more easily absorbed. They're packed full of good compounds but aren't accessed when whole. 
**Do NOT over mix the dough. When water and wheat flour are combined, it starts to active the formation of a gluten matrix. This is good in breads because it gives breads chew, but who wants that in a cracker?!? Not me. 

Because cooking consumes approximately 127% of my thoughts, I've been thinking about other hummus combinations. Lemon + thyme. Apple + peanut butter. Can't wait to experiment. As far as I'm concerned, hummus must have: chickpea, fat (tahini, cashew butter, olive oil), salt, spices/herbs and flavorings. 

Actually, I lied. Cooking has NOT been consuming my mind lately, this has:
Oh and this:

This too:

Cruzin and boozin in two dayzzzzz. OH.MY.GOD.

HOORAYYYYYYYY!!! Now to sleep soundly and dream of the Caribbean. :D


Friends Who Actually Eat

Let me begin by saying that people who don't like food and eating are weird. However, it's equally as weird to find someone that is AS obsessed with food and cooking as myself. Sarah, my fellow blogger, definitely matches my level of food love. Mary, a new friend from Boston, is definitely approaching foodie status. We recently went to Hola!, a tapas style restaurant in Marshfield, for dinner. 

Check out the menu and visit immediately! 

Hola is loud, but that is to expected in a fun, energetic restaurant with family style seating. Mary and I ordered the following DE-LISH tapas and flatbreads.

Sangria (5 bucks a glass!)
Stuffed Swordfish 
Eggplant/roasted red peppers/fried garlic/queso fresco Flatbread
Figs/prosciutto/gorgonzola Flatbread (see below and begin drooling)

I started to take pictures - WITH a flash - and embarrassed Mary. :-) As a result, I only have one good photo. This is THE best meal I've had out since moving to Boston 8 months ago. Yuuuumm!

Lesson of the night: Life is fleeting; eat and drink with friends often. As always, be productive; do good things!


You Don't Make Your Own Crackers?

I don't know what goes in my mind that causes me to fixate on certain recipes. Most recently, I became all consumed with the idea of making Cheese-Its. Don't get me wrong; I love the store bought bite-size snacks but they lack aggressiveness when it comes to spice. I've tried the Tabasco and Pepper Jack and both are weeeeak sauce. Hence, the Hot Habenero Homemade Cheese-It is born.

While researching how to make homemade crackers, I stumbled upon a TON of cynics. See below.

"What kind of loser would make crackers?"

"Someone who makes crackers at home doesn't value their own time and needs a social life."

To that, I kindly say up yours. So let's make some crackers.

Habanero Homemade Cheese-Its
8oz of Habanero Cheese, shredded
1 cup whole wheat flour
4 tbs. of chilled, diced butter
Smoked paprika
Chilled water

**Disclaimer: Cabot Hot Habanero cheese is MEGA spicy. Use any cheese of your liking. 
Steps for Making Cracker Gold
Combine flour, butter, and cheese in a food processor. Slowly add chilled water until a firm, dough-like mixture is formed. Roll out between two sheets of wax paper until 1/8 inch thickness is achieved.

Freeze for 10 minutes. Use a pizza cutter to cut into squares. If you're feeling extra fancy, poke the center with a chop stick to get that original cheese-it look.

Bake at 425 for 8-12 minutes. Watch carefully because these quickly go from perfect to burnt. Sprinkle the finished product with smoked paprika - so de-lish!

These are the best crackers I've ever had, but have to admit that they are too spicy for the average person. Conor fed three to his grandma, and I thought she might have a stroke. Next time, I will be making these with smoked gouda!

Be productive; do good things!


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Accidental Skinny Rice

Thing I Do During My 2-Hour Commute to Work
  • look at yummies on Foodgawker
  • day dream about what I'm going to make for dinner
  • feel depressed that I didn't eat more oatmeal before leaving the house
  • smile and think about my amazing students
  • tweet. tweet. tweet some more. 
  • snooze. snore. slobber. wake up at south station slightly disoriented. 
Today was more excruciating than most days because I had an AWESOME dinner planned. Let's get down to the good stuff. 

Creamy Linguica Stuffed Mushrooms
Large Portobello Mushrooms
Portugese Linguica Sausage
Gahlic (I live in New England now)
Smidgen of fat free cream cheese
Splash of coconut milk (or skim if you like)
Smoked paprika
S & P

Step 1
Prepare portobello mushrooms. I pop out the center stem, dice it, and it to the veggie mix. I also scoop out the gills (the flaky, dark underneath jank of the 'shroom). You can leave it; I just don't care for the flavor or dark runny water it produces in the baking process.

Step 2
Saute Portugese sausage until browned (NOT caramelized - proteins don't caramelize...they BROWN). Add in diced onions, carrots, garlic. Caramelize. Add cream cheese (about 4 oz.) and splash of milk. Add S & P. I also add smoked paprika because it's bomb. Milk thoroughly and scoop into mushrooms. Bake for 30 minutes-ish at 400. Garnish with scallions. 

**Half way through the baking process I had to remove extra water from the baking pan so that the mushrooms wouldn't get soggy. 

Skinny Green Goddess Rice
Heaping handful of cilantro
Juice of 1 lemon
S & P
Splash of quality olive oil
Palm full of walnuts
Brown rice

Cook rice according to package. 

Add cilantro, lemon juice, S & P, oil, and walnuts to a food processor until the ingredients are mixed but can still be identified. Toss with rice. Top with extra cilantro and scallions. Serve. 

I usually add avocado to this but mine had gone bad. For an extra decadent rice side, add avocado.

For anyone that knows me at all, I'm a cat lady. Not a crazy lady. I've stopped at one so keep reading and stop judging. Now that I live in New English with my booooyfriend, I've been forced to become a dog person - against my better judgement. Depsite Owen's excessive slobber, never-ending whining, and annoying tendency to jump on me when I get home, he did look cute sitting beside the table tonight waiting for scraps. Go Sox?

As always, be productive; do good things!

- J

Monday, February 20, 2012

Trip to The Middle East

Okay, so I didn't actually go to the Middle East but I did make some fabulous food inspired by Middle Eastern cuisine. Lemon, dill, parsley, garlic, yogurt, thyme. SO fresh and light. 

My sister was visiting this weekend so I had finally had someone to share my cooking with! How thrilling. I've been dying to cook up this feast for someone else ever since I ate at this fantastic Lebanese restaurant in D.C. months ago. Anyway, Leah loved the food, especially the tzatziki sauce. You could SERiously eat this stuff with a spoon.....and we may or may not have done that, too. 

I would suggest making each of these recipes in the order that follows to allow flavors to meld. 

Lebanese Chicken
((serves 2))
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 lemon, juiced + zested
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 t Lebanese seasoning (recipe below)
1/2 t salt

1. Combine all ingredients in a plastic bag and rub chicken to distribute marinade evenly. 
2. Squeeze air out of bag and place bag in a dish. 
3. Let marinate for at least one hour or overnight.

Lebanese Seasoning
1 t dried thyme
1/2 t ground cumin
1 t ground coriander
1/4 t cayenne pepper

Tzatziki Sauce
((serves 2)
1 cup greek yogurt
1/4 cup cucumber
1 clove garlic
1 t dried dill
1 lemon
salt + pepper to taste

1. Start by grating the cucumber on a box grater and put in a fine mesh strainer to drain liquid. You can also salt the cucumber to pull more liquid out.
2. Zest the lemon with a micro-plane, as well as the garlic clove. Juice the lemon. 
3. Stir yogurt, garlic, lemon juice + zest, and dill in small bowl. 
4. Refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight. 
5. When ready to serve, squeeze any remaining liquid from cucumber and add to yogurt mixture. Season with salt and pepper. 

((serves 2))
1/4 c dry bulgar wheat
handful of cherry tomatoes
1 lemon
1 T olive oil
fresh parsley and mint
salt + pepper to taste

1. Cook bulgar according to package directions. I cooked mine in vegetable stock to boost flavor. 
2. Juice the lemon and whisk together with olive oil, s + p to make dressing. 
4. Add hot* bulgar to dressing and toss to coat. Refrigerate. 
5. When ready to serve, chop tomatoes and herbs and add to bulgar. 
*Note: I like to add the bulgar when it's still hot because it soaks up more of the flavor!

To assemble your feast: (!!!!!)
Grill chicken on a grill pan 6 minutes on each side or roast in a 400 F oven for about 20-25 minutes. (I'm just guessing here because I grilled mine.)Let the chicken rest off the heat  loosely covered in foil for about 10-15 minutes before slicing. Place the chicken, tabouleh and tzatziki sauce on a plate. Serve tzatziki with some warmed pita bread (or on top of the chicken) and DEvour!

Anne Burell says, "brown food is good" and man is she right. See those nice grill marks on the chicken??!? 

 That color is NOT caramelization. I am not about to go on a rant about how annoying it is when cooks on the Food Network refer to this color as "caramelization". Instead, the browning that occurs on meat is a process called Maillard Browning and involves a series of chemical reactions between amino acids (protein) and sugars when introduced to high heat. It's totally different. 

Today's to-do list is a mile long so good thing it's President's Day and I'm off work! 


Friday, February 17, 2012

All the Things I Love

Valentine's Day, A Day for Lovin'

First, let me begin by saying that Sarah is much more responsible than me. For the past month or so, I've been slaving away working on a grant and teaching my crazy and awesome students everything from commas to time travel to how to write an essay all while helping them apply for college and commuting 4 hours a day. Enough complaining.

Work has been crazy but now that it's calming down, I can devote more time to my second love, besides my students, to food and writing about food.

The only thing that would my job better is if I taught cooking classes to my students. In 2 weeks, I'll make that a reality (more info to come). But for now, my only way to tie my two loves together is by cooking for my students and then forcing them to tell me how awesome my food is.

For Valentine's Day, I taught them about the brain chemistry involved in falling in love. Did you know that people with OCD are more likely to get themselves involved in co-dependent relationships? Just try explaining aphrodisiacs to a group of 15 teenagers. Following our brain lecture about endorphins, vasopressin, and dopamine, my students "mated" with celebrities and created Punnett Squares to determine what their offspring might look like should they have a child with Reese Witherspoon or Beyonce. Hey! Whatever it takes, right?

At the end of the day, my students got their treats. So cute!

Peppermint Bark

1 bag high quality dark chocolate chips
1 bag high quality white chocolate chips
coconut oil
crushed peppermints

Temper (or slowly melt) dark chocolate chips in a double boiler until smooth. (I use a sauce pan with steaming water and an aluminum bowl. Works just the sam.) Pour the chocolate into a casserole dish lined with wax paper. Cool.

Temper (or slowly melt) white chocolate chips in a double boiler until smooth. Pour the melted chocolate over the cooled dark chocolate and sprinkle with finely crushed peppermints. Cool. Break Apart. Devour.

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

1 bag high quality white chocolate chips
Festive sprinkles

Temper (or slowly melt) white chocolate chips in a double boiler until smooth. If the white chocolate gets hard, you've gotten the heat too high. Just take off the heat and stir and the chocolate will loosen up.

Dip pretzels into melted white chocolate, apply pretty sprinkles, and leave to cool on wax paper. I prefer to only cover half the pretzel. It maintains a nice sugar - salt balance and provides more color.

As always - Be productive, do good things!


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Peanut Butter 3 Ways

Note to self: NEVER buy canned chili again. Even if it's vegetarian, organic AND Trader Joe's brand. If nothing else, I have reiterated the fact that food is better when left to the home cook and not from a can. Unfortunately, my chili-cheese hot dog was collateral damage in this instance.

Well now that I've gotten that out of the way.....

I love peanut butter, which I have possibly mentioned before, thus the name of the blog. So it's no shocker that I'd attempt to make peanut butter. Three different peanut butters at that. 

It is so easy to turn these:

Into this:

But first, breakfast. The BEST bowl of oatmeal has mashed banana mixed in while its cooking, splash of vanilla at the end and any random assortment of toppings. Today it was granola and toasted coconut. 

The star of the peanut butter today is banana. There aren't many combinations I like more than banana + peanut butter. Oh and if there's chocolate in the mix too, I'm soooo down.  

Peanut butter 3 ways
((makes ~1.5 cups))

1/16 ounce bag of unsalted unroasted peanuts
1.5 T turbinado sugar
1/4 t salt
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/70 g bag of freeze dried bananas (I used Trader Joe's)
1.5 T unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Roast peanuts on a sheet tray in a 350 F oven for about 10 minutes. Keep a close eye on them because they burn quick.
2. Transfer 1/3 of the peanuts and a pinch of salt to your food processor* and turn it on until the peanut butter becomes drippy. You may need to stop and scrape the sides and bottom once or twice. This takes about 5 minutes.
3. Transfer your plain peanut butter to a jar.
4. Transfer the remaining 2/3 of the peanuts, sugar**, salt, vanilla and bananas to the food processor and buzz again until smooth. 
5. Pour half of this banana peanut butter into a jar. 
6. To the remaining peanut butter, add cocoa powder and pulse until combined. 
7. Pour this chocolate banana peanut butter into a jar. 
I store them all in the refrigerator to prevent the oil from separating.  

*I now use a Cuisinart 7-cup food processor and it works perfectly. Before I was using a Kitchen Aid 3- cup food processor and it just never worked right. 
**You may not need to add this sugar, as the bananas are sweet on their own. Of course though I didn't think of this until after it had been added. The crystals of turbinado sugar are rather large and if it's not added to the peanut butter at the beginning of the process, the crystals wont melt and you'll have a grainy texture. So, I wouldn't suggest adding the turbinado sugar at the end, only at the beginning. 
NOTE: substituting honey, agave, brown rice syrup, etc. will change the texture too because it will bind up the peanut butter and prevent it from becoming drippy. 

Peanuts + salt. 

 Peanuts + banana.

Peanuts + banana + chocolate. 

So dead tired. One day, I'll come home from work and just veg out on my couch instead of finding a zillion things to do around the house. 


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Chocolate + Orange

It is amazing how many dishes a single girl can make in the matter of a few hours. I swear I must spend at least 3 hours in and out of my kitchen in the evenings. I already washed my dishes from breakfast and dinner, by hand, and then, magically, I have another whole sink. Those will just have to wait until tomorrow. Tomorrow will be my productive day. I will do dishes, finish up this application to Simmons, email URI, fold the laundry that has now been sitting in my dryer for four days, and clean my apartment in preparation for my sister's visit! YAY! You saw it, and must hold me accountable. I MUST do everything on that list. 

Anyway! Chocolate! I like Valentines Day because it gives me a perfect reason to incorporate chocolate into my dinner. Although, I shouldn't need a reason, I should just do this on a regular basis. And yes, I can consider this dinner because it had two eggs AND bread--kinda like a breakfast for dinner deal. Enter: orange infused chocolate bread pudding. The idea came about because I had some bread in my freezer begging to be used up. Stale bread. What better way to use it up than to make bread pudding?!? I can't think of a better fit. How perfect was it that it just happened to be Valentines Day, too?? Now, just plain old chocolate bread pudding sounded boring so I was thinking about what I could add to it. I first thought to add some cayenne for a kick of heat but decided against that. Then I remembered chocolate and oranges are a lovely match (Valentines Day pun??).

Orange Infused Chocolate Bread Pudding
((1 serving))

1 cup of milk
2 slices of bread
splash vanilla
small pinch of salt
1 t orange zest
30 g dark chocolate
1 T unsweetened cocoa powder
2 eggs, beaten

1. Preheat oven to 375 F. 
2. Cut bread into bite size pieces and soak in 3/4 cup of the milk + vanilla + salt+ orange zest while you prepare the rest. 
3. Melt chocolate in microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between. Only heat chocolate until just  melted. Stirring with a fork in between helps chocolate melt evenly. 
4. Stir together remaining 1/4 cup of milk and the cocoa powder. The cold milk will chill the chocolate down a bit before it's added to the eggs so they won't scramble. 
5. Stir soaking bread, melted chocolate and beaten eggs all together.
6. Pour into oven safe dish and bake for about 20 minutes. Check for doneness and adjust cooking time accordingly. 
7. Garnish with orange zest and a drizzle of maple syrup. Enjoy warm!

*Note: you may want to add a touch of sugar to the recipe. I do not like overly sweet food for dinner, but I did drizzle mine with a bit of maple syrup. 

Perfect combo. 

Naked orange.

Something is missing you say? No, I do not have a picture of the final result. Something about bread pudding is not photogenic. Maybe it's because it comes out as a brown mass of bread cooked in custard. Sorry, you'll just have to make the recipe yourself to see the outcome. Trust me, you'll be happy you did.