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Baking Lessons from the School of the Eternally (Insanely) Optimistic Chef*

(*Note: I eschew the moniker “baker” in respectful deference to all the true bakers of the world. I am not worthy. I should probably offer the same respect for the title “chef” because I haven’t earned it in any formal way. Still, I’m far more accomplished at meal foods than baked goods, so let me have my little fantasy, m’kay?)

Aside: In an attempt to get more use out of my nook color, I’m composing this post via the WordPress app on the Android platform. So far, it’s actually not too bad. It may mean, however, that there are no pictures this time… We shall see.

Um… Okay. That’s how it’s gonna be, huh?

Alright… Moving on…

This was another last second muffin attempt. I don’t know why I try this over and over – it never works. But I did at least look up muffin recipe RATIOS this time so they turned out better than the last batch. I will eat them even if no one else in the house will. Punks.

Banana-Chocolate Muffins

Dry Ingredients:
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 c coconut flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 c baking cocoa powder
1 T flax-chia meal (I grind my own)
1/4 c brown sugar

Wet Ingredients:
1 egg
3/4 c applesauce
2 bananas
1/2 c raw cashews
1/4 c raw pepitas
1/2-3/4 c chocolate almond milk

Put the cashews and pepitas together in a large bowl with hot water – set aside to soak.

Mix all dry ingredients, form a well in the center, then set aside.

Crack egg into large mixing bowl then add bananas and mash well. Add applesauce and mix thoroughly. Drain cashews and pepitas and place the two together in a small food processor. Grind well, adding some of the other wet ingredients as needed to get it into a paste-like consistency. Mix with remaining wet ingredients except almond milk.

Stir wet ingredients into dry but don’t over mix. When combined, add almond milk until it has an almost batter-like consistency, not too firm, not too runny.

Fill muffin tins 2/3 or more full – these really don’t rise much. I used parchment paper cups with no grease or non-stick spray and they came right out, no sticking at all! (This was probably the biggest success of the whole recipe. Facepalm.)

These are quite dense muffins, but they’re not bad. And pretty healthy, no oil, decent protein and other nutrients. Some day I might actually get to the point where I can offer bonafide nutrition statistics. One day… Maybe.

Happy Eating!!

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I might be in love. With two things, actually. The soup I threw together this evening and… Parsley. I’m not in love with having to write this post for the second time since I’m still coordinating the iPhone app with the online postings… Oh well. Some of my witty thoughts may be missing from this version. Can only hope I’ve learned my lesson: refresh the app before you edit and update the post!

Soup is a fickle friend to our family. I think I might be the only one who really likes it. My two little boys won’t eat it and my husband seems to view it as the last bastion of the ailing – he’ll usually only eat it if he’s sicker than a dog. Add to that my lack of proficiency in soup-making and, well, I don’t really hold it against him that this dish didn’t thrill him.

On the other hand, I was tickled pink with the results! This recipe was simple, filling, economical and protein-packed with an anti-inflammatory boost from the parsley. Parsley: it’s not just a throw-away garnish!

Edamame and Quinoa Corn Soup

1/3 c white quinoa (mine was pre-rinsed)
1 bag Cascadian Farms brand frozen, shelled edamame
1 1/2 c Imagine brand Organic Creamy Corn Soup
1/2 sweet onion, diced fairly large
1/8 c parsley, roughly chopped
Seasonings to taste (a dash of cayenne and a bit more salt are must haves)

Add the quinoa to 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low simmer and cover for about 10 minutes. Add the frozen edamame and corn soup; increase heat to medium and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently to keep quinoa from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add onion and seasonings of choice – I like Nature’s Seasonings blend and a Kroger Pizza Seasonings blend in addition to cayenne and salt. Oh, and garlic powder. Cook for about 5 more minutes and test/adjust seasonings as needed. After a couple more minutes, turn off heat and add parsley (please don’t just skip it, I’m begging you – you’ll love what it adds). Serve immediately with crusty wheat bread and olive oil for dipping the bread.

Sometimes, just sometimes, things are so tasty that I’m not really all that sorry that I’m the only one in the house who eats them!

What ingredients are your favorite to use when you’re low on time, cash or patience and you need some at least a half-homemade fare?

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So, I thought to myself, if I can post to my Blogger blog through an app on my iPhone, surely I can post to my WordPress blog that way as well!

Why in the world did THAT epiphany take so long?!? I’m not sure that my family will love that I’m “playing” on my phone more, but can I tell you, I’m ecstatic!!

Ahem. Mistress of Whatshouldhavebeen Obvious may step aside now so Madame Playsinthekitchen uhLot can take her place.

I like the idea of whole grain dishes that can be eaten cold or room temperature but, having tried making them in the past, I’ve never been thrilled with the results. They are just sort of… Bland. When I make them, that is. Apparently, the Whole Foods folks are far more adept at it than I am. Until… I hit on a simple (and probably obvious) solution: add the “dressing” to the freshly cooked, still hot grains!! Hahaha – Duh!

Wheat Berries with Dried Cranberries and Pecans
1 cup wheat berries
1/4 c dried cranberries
1/4 c raw pecans
1/4 c olive oil
4T raw apple cider vinegar
4T powdered cactus honey

Soak, drain, rinse and cook wheat berries according to package directions. While that is cooking (which takes a while), soak the pecans in room temperature water. When the wheat berries only have a few minutes of cooking time left, mix the powdered honey into the apple cider vinegar and stir to dissolve. Add olive oil and whisk briskly to combine. Drain fully cooked wheat berries then return to pot and pour in olive oil mixture. Add dried cranberries and stir well. Drain and rinse the pecans thoroughly then add to pot; stir to combine. Allow to sit and cool then transfer to fridge. Enjoy cold or at room temperature!

What are your favorite grains to use for “salads” like these?

Mountain Rose Herbs

Mountain Rose Herbs