Monday, April 30, 2012

Recipe of the Moment: Cheesy Pancakes - A Mix of Salty and Sweet

So I've talked about my every day breakfast and how I try to get all my vegetables into one, but now let me tell about when I indulge. I'm afraid it's not going to be nearly as scandalous as you might think, but it's certainly delicious.

So good, I had to have a bite before I remembered to photograph.
About one day a week, usually on the weekend, I decide I don't want to make a smoothie, but I'd rather have pancakes. I actually stopped eating pancakes (and waffles) awhile ago because I couldn't stand all the syrup smothered on them. I slowly introduced them back into my diet when my dad gave me super simple recipe, and then one day a few months ago, I knew exactly how to make them brilliant. And brilliant they are! I could easily eat them all the time. Plus, this way it has no syrup, with lots of high fructose corn syrup, among other things, either!

1 cup flour
1 cup milk (or water)
1 egg
shredded monteray jack cheese
shredded cheddar cheese

Combine flour, milk, and egg in a bowl. Mix until smooth.

Pour small spoonfuls (about 2-3 tbsp each) into a pan over medium heat.

Cook until lightly brown on one side, then flip.

When browned on both sides, remove from skillet and place on plate.

Stack pancakes when finished on plate. Between each layer, add shredded cheese. (I usually end up with about 2 layers of pancakes, so after the first layer, I add monteray jack cheese, another layer of pancakes, then cheddar cheese.)

Sprinkle salt on top. Seriously. The salt makes this. Add black or cayenne pepper if you so choose.

Add just a little bit of honey, maybe a teaspoon.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Recipe of the Moment: Breakfast Smoothies

So sometimes I slip and I don't always eat as healthy as I'd like. Sometimes it's because friends are in town and they want Mexican, and who am I to argue with that? Other times it's just because I'm too lazy to go grocery shopping and we don't have any food in the house, so I'll order a pizza.
This was happening about twice a week, and I was concerned. Then I came up with a brilliant idea, inspired by pop culture, oddly enough. Everywhere you go, you hear about people juicing. There are juice bars popping up all over the city. Whether it's on twitter or tumblr or pinterest, everyone is posting pictures of shakes or juices. They're posting recipes as well, but honestly, it didn't seem that hard to throw a bunch of stuff into my blender, and that's exactly what I did.

For the past few months, I've been just throwing a bunch of vegetables in the blender. I try to stick to vegetables rather than fruit because it's less sugar and more vitamins, nutrients, etc. But whatever I do, I always put a banana in because it makes it creamier. Plus, it makes it sweet enough that you don't notice the other vegetables.

And trust me when I say, as weird as this all looks written down, it tastes amazing. The first few days I got hungry after a few an hour or two, but now I'm fine for hours - just like a regular meal.

Some of the ingredients can be hard to find, like the cod liver oil, apple cider vinegar, or blackstrap molasses. I buy mine here because they tend to have the best prices.

kale/spinach/dandelion leaves/beet greens
1 banana
1 clove of garlic
1 inch round of fresh ginger
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup oatmeal
handful of almonds/walnuts
1 tbsp cod liver oil
1 squeezed lemon wedge
3 tbsp yogurt
1 cup water/milk
1 beet, peeled
any other left over veggies or fruits you may have laying around and need to use up
4-6 ice cubes
1 tsp blackstrap molasses

Add everything in a blender, with the exception of the blackstrap molasses


After blended, pour into cup. Add blackstrap molasses and stir like crazy because it takes it a few minutes to dissolve. (Don't put it in the blender because the molasses just sticks to the bottom.)


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Recipe of the Moment: Stuffed Bell Peppers

I'm not a vegetarian, but most of my meals are vegetarian. There are a few reasons for this. One being, of course, how disgusting most meat that's easily accessible in America is. I try not to eat that unless I have no choice. The other main reason is, of course, that meat is kind of gross to handle. It freaks me out. The end result is that there is very little meat prepared in my home.

My boyfriend, as I'm sure you can imagine, didn't take so kindly to this at first. He was happy to eat some of my vegetarian meals, as long as I would relent and throw some chicken or pork in every so often. But this recipe was the first one that really won him over and made him decide vegetarian meals were amazing.

I'll warn you now that it's not the best thing to look at, but trust me when I tell you that it is amazingly delicious. And very spicy!

2 bell peppers
1 red onion
5 tbsp yogurt
pack of feta cheese
goat cheese
Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup quinoa
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of olives (can use more if you love olives!)
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp dried thyme

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut bell peppers in half and remove the seeds. Place the bell peppers in an oven safe dish, hollow side down. Cover with tin foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Dice the red onion, olives, and garlic.

In a separate bowl, mix pack of feta cheese with the goat cheese. (I used about 1/4 cup of goat cheese, but use whatever amount you'd prefer.) Add the red onion, olives, and garlic, along with the thyme, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Mix well.

When bell peppers are removed from oven, fill with mixture and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes.

While cooking, begin quinoa. Follow directions according to package, or add double the amount of water to the amount of quinoa you're cooking. (For example, I cooked 1/2 cup quinoa, so I added 1 cup of water and cooked on the stove until the water evaporated.)

Serve and enjoy! We added a tomato and onion serving to this, and it was amazing! Can be cooked alongside the stuffed bell peppers with the same prep and cook time.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Recipe of the Moment: Spicy Bruschetta

 This creation came about almost by accident. I didn't really want to make it. But it was supposed to be part of a stuffed bell pepper recipe I found, or so I thought. Instead I found myself with such a huge dish that I had no idea what to do with it. I wasn't the biggest fan of tomatoes or onions, which is the base for this. But it turned out to be the most incredible, not to mention amazingly versatile, dish I've ever made. This recipe makes a lot, and it can be used in everything. Seriously. I prefer keeping some in the fridge at all times now.

Just to give you an idea: Eat it with the stuffed bell peppers, per the original recipe. Toss some into your pasta, especially if you don't have bacon. Try it with a little bit of bread and goat cheese as an appetizer. Throw it in some soup. Maybe add it to a sandwich. Mostly though, just put it in everything.

6 tomatoes
2 red onions
5 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp paprika
3 cloves of garlic, diced

Preheat oven to 350.

Chop up the onions and tomatoes and mix together in an oven safe dish.

In a separate bowl, mix together the olive oil, thyme, cayenne pepper, paprika, and garlic.

Pour the mixture of oil and spices over the tomato and onion mixture.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so. Then enjoy!


Monday, April 16, 2012

Recipe of the Moment: Onion and Pepper Cream Soup

This soup happened completely by accident. I saw a recipe for mushroom soup on Pinterest, and I was intrigued, especially because one commentator said that her husband requested it twice in one week. 

I've never been a fan of mushrooms. In fact, I only started eating them after I read Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma. He has a section on mushrooms and how they're so good for you. And when I say I started eating them, I mean I stopped picking them out of my food at restaurants. I've bought them a few times at the farmer's market, but they always go bad by the time I get around to making something with them. (Seriously! Why do mushrooms go bad so quickly?)

Which is exactly what happened with this soup. I looked over the recipe and bought the ingredients, i.e. the mushrooms, and then they went bad. Normally when vegetables start to go bad, I chop them up and eat them anyway, but I don't want to chance it with vegetables. So I just used what was left over in my pantry, and it turned out amazingly! Seriously, this soup is fantastic. Since then, I've made it with mushrooms, and I have to say, I almost prefer it without. So it's your call!

10 oz mushrooms, finely chopped and/or diced (optional, I used baby portabella mushrooms)
1 large onion, diced
2 red peppers, chopped
3 cloves of garlic
olive oil
1 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
4 cups of water
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
dash of nutmeg
black pepper

Heat olive oil in a pan. Add onions, garlic, and peppers, and saute until golden brown on medium heat. 

Add mushrooms, thyme, bay leaf, black pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until water from mushroom disappears.

Add water. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat. Simmer for half an hour.

Add cornstarch to thicken. Season with salt and nutmeg.

Add milk and heavy cream and turn the heat off. Do NOT let the soup boil once you add the milk and cream.

Serve and enjoy! If you like, add some bread and cheese.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Recipe of the Moment: Finishing Touches for Soups

I've never been one to put crackers in my soup, even though apparently that's popular. When I first learned that it was common, I thought it was because people like the crunchiness of the crackers with the liquid soup, or maybe the extra salt was the reason? Then I tried it and quickly discovered crackers turn to mush when they've been in your soup for too long, leaving your soup kind of lumpy and gross.

Someone told me that people put crackers in their soup to cool it off, in case it's too warm. I can't really see that being the case though. Why wouldn't you just wait 5 minutes for your soup to cool off? Or blow air on your spoon (and soup) to cool off each bite if you can't wait? I'm genuinely perplexed by this.

In the same vein, I've always been confused by French Onion soup because there's a huge glob of cheese on top! And underneath the cheese is this salty, dark broth that has little bits on onion floating around that you occasionally get to taste. I mean, I like cheese, and I like onions, but how are you supposed to eat it? And is it supposed to taste good?

Maybe I've just had really bad French Onion soup in my time.

Anyway, the point of all this is that I've finally found the most amazing compromise. (Oddly enough, it was inspired by Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbook.) So here's the thing: I like bread. I use bread to sop up the last bits of my soup. Sometimes I even put bread in my soup. I also like cheese. Cheese goes on almost every meal I make. So why not combine them to make a cheesy bread crust over the top of the soup? 

Brilliant idea, right? I know. I do this for everything now. And it is SO GOOD. 

3-4 slices of a baguette per bowl (or less, depending)
Shredded cheese of your choice
Soup in a bowl

Preheat broiler.

Slice baguette.

Add small amounts of shredded cheese on top of baguette. (Reserve some cheese for later.)

Place baguette slices onto a baking sheet and place in broiler.

Leave in broiler until cheese is slightly melted and starting to brown.

Remove from broiler and place immediately into soup bowl.

Take the leftover cheese and sprinkle on top, make sure to get the spots the bread doesn't cover.

And voila! The bread and cheese creates a seal and you have you delicious soup waiting underneath!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Recipe of the Moment: Avocado Cream Sauce and Bacon (And Pasta)

When I was younger, my favorite kind of pasta was fettucine alfredo. Is it good for you? No. Healthy in any way? Of course not.  Of course, this was before I kicked all processed foods out of my life and started eating healthy. Since then I went from eating canned tomato sauce to making my own sauces. 

But then a glorious thing happened. I found this blog post that made something similar to a cream sauce, but it used avocados. Avocados! Perfect. This still has some cream in it, but for a dish to eat every once in a while, it's perfect. I'll even go so far as to say it's my new comfort food. Let me know what you think!

Pasta noodles, cooked
2 avocados
5 tablespoons of light cream
1 teaspoon of salt
2-3 tablespoons of lime juice
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
3 pieces of bacon
1 small onion
3 cloves of garlic
Handful of Monterrey Jack cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and lay the strips of bacon on a baking sheet. Cook for 20 minutes.

While the bacon is cooking, begin to cook the pasta noodles.

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a sauce pan.

Chop the onion and garlic and add to the pan. Saute until golden brown.

Put the avocados, light, salt, lime juice, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and cream in a blender. Once cooked, add the onion and garlic and ONE strip of bacon. Blend well. If you desire thinner sauce, add more cream.
Looks gross, but it's amazingly delicious.

Once the pasta is done cooking, drain and return to pan. Add the avocado mixture and cook on low heat for a few minutes. (The heat makes the avocado extra creamy!)

When ready, crumble the additional 2 pieces of bacon and cheese over each bowl. Enjoy!


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Recipe of the Moment: White Bean Cake with Blood Oranges

I've really been into dessert lately. Like, a lot. My boyfriend doesn't really like sweets and he especially doesn't like chocolate, so I've been a little stuck on what to do lately. I experimented with making cakes in a cup and microwaving it, which, somehow, is all the rage of Pinterest, but trust me when I say it's not good. At all. None of the recipes I tried. They're all only to be used if you're desperate. Luckily, I found this recipe over at Tao of Dana, and we both loved it! Also, for those that are interested, it's grain and gluten free.

I LOVE blood oranges, so I was excited to make this. It's a little unconventional for me since I would never think to use beans as a base in a cake, but isn't that what makes cooking fun? 

8-10 blood oranges (optional, to be served with the cake)
3 cups white beans, cooked, unseasoned, and cooled (or rinsed, if using canned beans)
9 tablespoons of coconut oil
1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons of honey
6 eggs
2 tablespoons of vanilla
3/4 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Put everything EXCEPT the oranges into a blender. Once blended, add grated blood orange peel to mix and stir.

Pour mixture into cake pan and bake for about one and a half hours, or until the middle is not longer jiggly. This is important to note because it browns rather quickly, and I thought for sure it was going to burn. Not so.

Serve each slice with a blood orange. Yum!