Tag Archives: baking

Food with Friends

My wonderful friend Mer has been in town on break from graduate school this past week. She and I share many interests, but one of the most prevalent is a love of good food. We only saw each other twice over the past week, but we managed to create something delicious both times.

The first time, she came over and we made muffins. My life has been a search for chocolate things over the past couple of weeks, so we made chocolate muffins.

Whole Wheat Double Chocolate Muffins with a Peanut Butter Swirl to be exact. Well, that link is actually for Whole Wheat Triple Chocolate Banana Bread Muffins, but it’s the recipe we modified for our new and improved version. Well, improved if you don’t consider white chocolate actual chocolate and think that basically everything is improved by peanut butter. (Both those topics of discussion could be categorized under “Interests Mer and I Share”.)

Our modifications include using less banana (because 2 was all I had) and making up the volume
difference with extra yogurt, excluding the white chocolate chips, adding a little milk because the batter was dry (perhaps due to lack of banana? though yogurt is pretty moist…), and swirling peanut butter on the top.

The result looked like this:

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And tasted like good.

The other food item we created involved cooking with many friends. Since it was some-assembly-required, this worked out well.
The idea for this sandwich was Bonnie’s, and though I have made one based on a similar concept before, this one was far superior. The concept is a grilled cheese sandwich, where you dip the bread in beaten egg before “grilling” it (which can only be done in a frying pan here–a toaster oven would be a mess. Well, I guess it might work if you have a pan that goes in the toaster oven… I don’t know, still sounds messy.). Think stuffed French toast, savory style.

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(The two pictures in this post demonstrate the difference between plentiful natural light and a lack of natural light when taking pictures with an iPhone. I’m sure you can guess which is which.)

Our fillings were: sautéed mushrooms, sautéed Swiss chard (grown by Christopher), that Bellavitano black pepper cheese from Whole Foods that is like a cross between cheddar and parmesan and is expensive but so worth it, an herbed cheese that I don’t remember the name of, and a sun-dried tomato puree.

I don’t think I need to tell you that that one also tasted like good.

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Banana Bread Report

This bread definitely passes the next-day-delicious test.  It has great texture and flavor, and I am very pleased with its banana-ness.  I like to leave some chunks when I mash the banana so there are some pockets of pure banana in the bread.

I modified this recipe to include oat flour (just ground up oats, easy to do at home with a blender/food processor), and made it chocolate-espresso rather than almond-caramel.  Though, as I mentioned in the previous post, I’d add more instant espresso if you want a more distinct coffee flavor.

Espresso Chocolate Chip Oatey Banana Bread

1 cup rolled oats

3/4 cup oat flour (Grind a little more than  3/4 cups oats in a food processor or blender-type appliance until fine and floury.  Measure what you have and do a little more if you need to to make 3/4 cup.)

1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (or use whole wheat or all purpose)

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp instant espresso powder

2 eggs

3 ripe medium bananas, mashed

2 tbsp canola oil or other vegetable oil or melted butter

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and grease a loaf pan.

2. Stir dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

3. Beat the two eggs in a small bowl, then add the banana and oil.

4. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined (the less you stir, the more tender the bread will be).

5. Fold the chocolate chips in gently.

6. Put the batter in the loaf pan and bake for 45 to 55 minutes.  55 minutes was perfect for this batch in this pan in our oven, but these things can vary.  Take it out when you stick a toothpick in and a few crumbs cling, but its not gooey.

7.  Let cool a little before you take it out of the pan so it  doesn’t fall apart.

It’s as easy as that! : )

Other quick things to share:

I don’t often post about anything lunchy because they all look about the same.  A salad of some sort with something like an egg or tuna or salmon salad (in the background above).  I took a picture of this one because of all the colors.

Greens, celery, peppers, fennel, sweet potato, olives, pickled mouse melons that Erica made.  Dressed in some lemon juice and tahini mixed together with a little water to loosen it up.

Alsoooo…

A pretty smoothie I had after my run this morning.  I love the blueberry skin flecks.  There were also strawberries, banana, clementine, milk, avocado, a splash of orange juice, and some ginger powder.

I planned to run 8 miles, but it was so nice out and I had lots of leg energy, so I ran 9.  I’m kind of training for a half marathon at the end of March, so maybe you’ll hear about running again.  I’ve been working a lot, so my blogging time has been limited, but I will try to check in every once ina while!

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Happy Banana Bread Day!!

I got an email from Rosie yesterday informing me that February 23rd is Banana Bread Day. I don’t know who determines these “food holidays”, but I’m not going to argue with an excuse to make banana bread.

I made an Oatey Espresso Chocolate Chip Banana Bread.

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The texture is moist and soft with an oatey chew, there is plenty of banana taste, and it’s not too sweet. I can’t really detect the espresso, but maybe that’s because the bread is still warm. The true test of banana bread is how it tastes the next day…when the aromatic baked-banana scent is gone and the warm crumb has cooled.

Once I have made the second day assessment, I will report back with an update, along with a recipe and better photos from my newly-repaired camera!!

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Chocolate Chip Apology

Oh dear, I’ve been a slacker blogger.  I feel like that’s the worst kind of blogger; the other unfortunate kinds of bloggers include annoying bloggers and offensive bloggers… but you as a reader don’t have to be affected by them, you can just avoid their site.  A slacker blogger, on the other hand, may cause a reader to return to their site to be disappointed over and over.  How cruel.

Can I make it up to you with cookies?

These cookies are from the magazine Vegetarian Times.  They are titled “The Heart-Healthiest Chocolate Chip Cookies in the World” because they use ground walnuts and a little canola oil instead of butter and eggs (resulting in no cholesterol and minimal saturated fat) and include both oat flour and rolled oats (resulting in lots of fiber, including soluble fiber which helps remove LDL (“bad”) cholesterol from your blood).  Of course, there are plenty of of studies these days about how it’s saturated fat, not the dietary cholesterol you consume, that raises the cholesterol in your blood, or how you need a little saturated fat to keep everything running right… But the only thing I was really thinking about when I made these cookies was that anything bound together by ground up walnuts couldn’t be bad.

They are especially good about half an hour after they come out of the oven, when they are chewy but a little crisp around the edges.  As they aged, they became just chewy, kind of in the way a chewy granola bar is chewy.  In fact, I basically used them as granola bars, taking them to work for quick energy and carrying them on long runs.  At this point, they are improved when dipped in tea.

They are super easy to make.  You can find the recipe here.  The only changes I made were to use 1 cup almonds and 1 cup walnuts (since we didn’t have enough walnuts) and to grind my own oat flour in the food processor.  It’s super easy: you just stick the oats in and turn on the food processor until they become powder.  And for this recipe, you need the food processor anyway to grind the nuts, so you don’t even dirty and extra dish!  I think I actually didn’t grind my oats enough… the cookies would probably have a little less granola bar chew if I had made a finer powder.

Here are the dry ingredients…

Here is the nut “butter”, combined with the melted brown sugar/water…

Everything getting mixed up…

Combine

I like to use pieces of random chocolate bars we have lying around in cookies… these ones contained some dark chocolate with espresso along with the chocolate chips.  I also did some with raisins instead of chocolate.

Mmmmm… fresh.

So yes, speaking of running…. I did my longest run last week!  20 miles.  It went well; my biggest complaint was thirst around mile 17, but conveniently I was approaching a gas station at that point, so I stopped there to drink some water.  Maybe in the future I’ll carry water on long runs, especially if I do them on trails where gas stations are less frequently encountered.  Now, though, I’m in taper land.  Today was just a 12 mile run and it went smoothly.  It was a sunny, warm Fall morning.  Time out in this weather is an added bonus to running; I’m really glad I chose this season to train!

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Decisions

Half-way through my toast this morning I decided I wanted to be eating cereal.

Quick fix!

I just chopped up my toast and poured milk on it.  Even better than cereal from a box.

And I had two “flavors” from the two halves of my reincarnated toast: sunflower seed butter with raisins, and peanut butter with banana.

Decision making is easier when you can have two things as one.  And I need all the help making decisions I can get…

Last weekend I was tasked with making the cake for my uncle’s birthday.  It was an open-ended assignment, since he indicated no preference for flavor.  Luckily Katie was here and had concrete ideas about what cake I should make.  We get the little mini Everyday Food magazine that comes alongside the Martha Stewart Living magazine.  They did a maple/brown sugar feature that included a Maple-Walnut Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting.  It stole Katie’s heart, and I didn’t take much convincing 🙂

The magazine doesn’t have the recipe online (yet?) but someone else did the work of transcribing it, so here it is.  It was pretty simple cake-making.  It just involves…

Creaming Butter, Sugar and Maple Syrup…

Adding Flour, Baking Powder and Salt…

(There’s An Egg in There Somewhere…)

Folding in Walnuts…

Baking…

Frosting (hand modeling by Decider and Assistant Spreader Katie)…

And Decorating!

 

It was super-decadent, autumnal, and salty-sweet (I accidentally used salted butter in the cake, but I think it worked).  The walnuts added texture and toasty flavor, and the cake itself has a mapley-caramel taste.  I think it has gotten better with age, too.  I’d call it a success.

 

After a busy week of work and visitors, I have a completely free day.  I’m going to clean my room, study for the GRE, go for a run, and I’m thinking of baking something, I just have to decide what…

 

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Green & Black

Lately I’ve been looking for a little more chocolate in my life, but our house has been sadly devoid of it.  Luckily, I have the power to change that.

Hold on… that doesn’t look like chocolate.

Well, just you wait.

I cobbled this recipe together when I worked as an Americorps member for the nutrition program at the Cornell Cooperative Extension, Tioga County in Owego, NY.  There were certain restrictions on the recipes we could recommend to people under Eat Smart New York (the CCE nutrition program).  I don’t remember them all, but I know it couldn’t have more than 35% of calories coming from fat or 10 grams of added sugar per serving.  We wanted a recipe using zucchini, and in my search for zucchini bread recipes, I came upon this one.  To healthify/modify it to meet the recipe requirements, I made a few tweaks involving applesauce, reduced sugar, and whole wheat flour.  The result was fabulous: deep, chocolatey, and cake-like.

We’ve had a couple zucchini lying around, and I decided to make them into chocolate.  It’s like a water-into-wine situation for the chocolate religion 🙂

I made one more modification for this version.  I love oats, and I tend to think they improve most things.  So, for half of the cup of whole wheat flour called for in the recipe, I substituted half a cup of oat flour.  Actually, to be more specific, I used half a cup of regular, ol’fashioned oats, ground into flour with a few quick spins of the food processor.  Simple.

The result was lovely.  Now this bread is even more like cake: moist, dark chocolate cake.  Mmmmmm.

It’s healthy enough to be a snack (or breakfast if you’re feeling fancy) but decadent enough to be dessert.  As seen here, a la mode.

No lack of chocolate in this house now!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups Shredded Zucchini (this was 1.5 big-ish ones)
  • 1/2 cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 cup Oat Flour (or 0.5 cup oats, ground until powdery)
  • 1/2 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup Unsweetened Applesauce
  • 1/4 cup Canola Oil (or oil of your choosing)
  • 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar, Packed
  • 1 Egg
  • 3 tbsp Milk (of your choosing)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 cup Chopped Walnuts (optional)
  • However many chocolate chips suit your fancy

How-To

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease a loaf pan (or a muffin tin).
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg, then add the oil, applesauce, sugars, milk, and vanilla, and beat until well blended.  Fold in zucchini.

Wet Ingredient World

  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.

I was in a hurry and cheated a little. I just placed the dry ingredients on top of the wet, mixed them together a little on the surface, then...

  • Add dry ingredients to the wet mixture and stir until just combined.  Fold in walnuts and/or chocolate chips.
  • Transfer the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake 55 to 60 minutes (about 25 minutes for muffins) or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

  • Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack and cool completely.  Or not- I don’t blame you for wanting to sample it warm out of the oven…

Nutrition Facts – calculated using caloriecount.com, without chocolate chips, since I have no idea how many you could be adding…:)
Based on 12 Servings
Calories 148
Calories from Fat 65
Total Fat 7.2g
Saturated Fat 0.9g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 16mg
Sodium 166mg
Total Carbohydrates 20.0g
Dietary Fiber 2.1g
Sugars 11.2g
Protein 3.1g
Vitamin A 1% Vitamin C 4%
Calcium 3% Iron 6%

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