……………………………………………………. Baking our mark

Oatmeal breakfast bars June 10, 2012

Filed under: Breakfast,Vegetarian — krandle @ 11:45 am
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One of my all-time favorite grab and go breakfasts are Quaker oatmeal squares (which have changed names several times and are now called “oatmeal to go“). They are dense and sweet and delicious and filling. However….they are loaded with sugar, plus they have preservatives and such. And they’re not cheap, especially compared to the cost of just making my own instant oatmeal.

However, I have recently found a wonderful solution: make my own. The home-made versions are delicious, easy to make and easy to store  (in the freezer!). Plus, they’re a tad healthier, and I can make them taste like whatever I feel like.

I’ve made two versions after amalgamating several similar recipes I found on the interwebs. (Make these now, while it’s still bearable to turn on the oven – then freeze them for later this summer when you can’t stand the thought of baking.)

Banana Cranberry Pepita Oatmeal Bars

1 banana, mashed (great time to use a freezer banana)
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup pepitas
1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Blend the wet ingredients, stir in the dry ingredients, then add the mix-ins at the end. Bake at 375 for 20 min. in silicon or lined muffin cups or a 30+ minutes in a greased baking dish. These will not rise when baked, so don’t worry about filling muffin cups to the top.

If you want to store them for future munching, let them cool, then wrap them individually and freeze in a freezer bag until you’re ready to grab one for breakfast.

Mounds Oatmeal Bars
1 egg
1 1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup coconut
1/4 cup chocolate chips (ok, these aren’t so healthy)

(Follow the same cooking directions as above.)


Menu ideas: When bacon is on sale June 4, 2012

Filed under: Breakfast,Dinner,Lunch,Soup — krandle @ 10:29 pm
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I like bacon as much as the next gal – but I only ever buy it when it’s on sale (and when I’m feeling relatively healthy / all my jeans fit at the beginning of the week). And it recently was on sale (and I was feeling ready to take on an absurd amount of fat), so I got to try out a whole new slew of recipes. Here are some recipes I found to try to keep my skillet busy.

Bacon, egg and leek risotto – a quick weekend breakfast this is not, but it is pretty delicious. Watch out, though – I halved this recipe and it still made four servings

Amazing grilled cheese sandwich – yes, it includes bacon…and sriracha and avocado. It’s going to change your sandwich world.

Crockpot baked beans – big disclaimer here: total cooking time here is 15 hours, plus you need to soak some beans overnight ahead of time. Sure, you can be sleeping for part of it, but you’re going to need to figure out your schedule ahead of time so you don’t burn anything. The beans are tasty, but you need to have the time committed to do this.

Vegan cream of broccoli soup – what, did you think I was trying to harden my arteries entirely in a week? This soup has become one of my favorites this year, and I don’t even like broccoli. It’s fresh, fast, and freezable. Plus, if you’re not vegan, you can sprinkle your own cheese on top to make it a light version of broccoli cheddar soup.


Homemade instant oatmeal September 21, 2011

Filed under: Breakfast — krandle @ 6:38 pm
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So, I only eat breakfast at work at this point in my life. 60+ hour weeks do that to you. (As periodic readers…ahem, our moms…may have noticed, we’re really busy and haven’t been cooking real food for a while now.)

And, while the instant oatmeal from Trader Joe’s is the best thing ever, I decided to try out making my own instant oatmeal.

And, well, if it doesn’t make for the most amazing oatmeal away from home, I don’t know what does. It has a better texture and, if you do it right, is way healthier, with fewer preservatives. Plus, it’s simple and can still be compiled ahead of time.

Here’s my (non) recipe:

Homemade Instant Oatmeal

1/2 cup quick oats per serving
A pinch of salt
And all the add-ins you want
I put each serving in a little plastic bag, so it’s easy to make a bunch ahead of time and leave them at the office. And, if you do it right, you can keep all the little bags of delicious oatmeal inside the cleaned out oats canister, which makes a nice holding container.
To cook, just add 1/2 to 1 cup water (depending on desired consistency and microwave for 1 to 2 minutes (depending on your microwave).

Now, for mix ins that I’m particularly loving (in addition to the usual flavor combos with cinnamon and dried or fresh fruit) :
Walnuts, dried cranberries, and brown sugar
Pecans, coconut flakes, and ginger
Chocolate chips (not all of these options have to be good…)


Zucchini Bread August 28, 2011

The plant continues to grow and grow and grow. And I continue to give squash away.

And yet, there are pounds and pounds and pounds of it on my counter.  [This story is certainly getting old, isn’t it?]

So, I’m whipping up batches and batches of zucchini squash bread. (The boyfriend’s uncle told me it doesn’t matter if you use zucchini or summer squash – and he’s correct.) And, here are three different recipes that have turned out ok.
 Light Lemon Zucchini Bread

Really light, moist, lemon-y zucchini bread that’s heavier on the squash than on the bread

2 cups grated zucchini
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp lemon zest, or 1 tsp lemon juice

Mix together all wet ingredients. In a separate bowl, sift together all dry ingredients. Then combine all together, being careful not to mix too much. Bake in a greased loaf pan at 325 for 45-60 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Paula Deen’s Zucchini Bread (with less sugar)
I think this is my favorite. It’s really a classic recipe that makes for some great snacks.

3 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
1.5 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup water
2 cups grated zucchini
1 tsp lemon juice
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and sugar. In a separate bowl, combine oil, eggs, water, zucchini, and lemon juice. Mix wet ingredients into dry, add nuts and fold in. Bake in 2 greased loaf pans for 1 hour at 350, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Smitten Kitchen’s Zucchini Bread
Solid recipe for zucchini bread – though it can’t compete with Paula’s, even with less sugar

3 eggs
1 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups flour
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Beat eggs, then add in oil, sugar, zucchini and vanilla. Combine all dry ingredients separately. Then, stir all ingredients together and fold in nuts. Bake the mixture at 350 in two loaf pans for 60 minutes, or in 24 muffins for 25-35 minutes until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.


Tofu Scramble July 3, 2011

This recipe is blatantly lifted from the Post Punk Kitchen’s wonderful website/cookbook here.  I added chickpeas and cauliflower to the mix to give the egg-ish texture some contrast. Also changed the spices according to what I have/like (more cayenne and garlic powder, please).  I think this recipe is a really easy way to explore some different methods of making tofu if you’re new to the game– the stuff doesn’t necessarily have to be fried/baked/roasted in little cubes all the time.

Note: I omitted the nutritional yeast from the original recipe (it weirds me out), so if you aren’t vegan feel free to add some shredded cheese to this. If you are vegan though, the nutritional yeast gives it a slightly cheesy flavor.

1 medium onion, diced

1 lb extra firm tofu, frozen, thawed and pressed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup cauliflower, chopped roughly

2 cups mushrooms, sliced

1 16 oz. can chickpeas

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup water

2 teaspoons each curry powder, cumin, black pepper, crushed red pepper

In a large wok or skillet, saute the onions and garlic in olive oil on high heat until softened. Add the mushrooms and cauliflower and stir the mixture while it cooks, eventually turning the heat to medium as the mushrooms brown. Season to taste as you go (you might use more than 2 teaspoons of each listed spice).  Then crumble the block of pressed tofu into the skillet so that the texture is a bit chunky and continue cooking on high heat while stirring the mixture. Make sure the tofu is coated with the spices, and then add the water to keep the mixture moist. This takes about 15 minutes to cook through, so continue seasoning and stirring as you see fit, and then add the chickpeas. Keep on low heat long enough to get the chickpeas warmed, and serve immediately. This keeps for about a week and tastes really great with sriracha the next day.


Really Green Quiche July 1, 2011

We’ve been featuring a couple of different quiche recipes recently (namely, K’s delicious takes on the dish involving kale and mushrooms as well as a basic standby). I’m adding another one to the mix because 1. you can’t have enough egg recipes, 2. I need to make something that keeps well (a nasty sprained foot has kept me off my feet and out of the kitchen for a little bit) and 3. I have a ton of raw greens and too much cheese at the moment (not necessarily a bad thing!)

The crust for this is store-bought in the refrigerated section… hypocritical, I know. (My last quiche recipe stressed the merits of making your own, and I still think it’s a good idea to do it when you can.) We all have our days though, and injury trumps effort for the moment.

3 eggs, slightly beaten

1/2 cup milk

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1 1/2 cups shredded fresh spinach

1 1/2 cups shredded fresh kale

1/2 cup black olives, cut in half or whole

1/2 cup cauliflower, large pieces cut in half

1/2 cup orange bell peppers, sliced

1 medium onion

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

Black pepper, garlic powder, paprika to taste. 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Roll out the pie crust and place in a 9″ pie plate and set aside.  Start prepping the filling by sauteing the onion in olive and adding the greens.  Saute until wilted, spice to taste, and remove from heat.  Dice the remaining vegetables. (Feel free to substitute according to what you have!)  Then, whisk the eggs together and stir in the milk. Layer the greens/onion and remaining vegetables into the pie shell and pour the egg mixture evenly over everything. Bake in the oven, uncovered, for  40-60 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the eggs have set. Serve with a salad and enjoy that heaping dose of iron-laden veggies.


Aztec Quiche June 17, 2011

This recipe is from my mom. It’s one of the first recipes that I typed down off of her recipe cards after I got my first kitchen in college and I’ve been making it pretty frequently ever since. M has eaten this quiche more than once, and even she has never complained about the calories because it’s just too tasty to care. I don’t really know why it’s Aztec quiche, but whatever – just go with it. It’s so delicious that you won’t care what it’s called. Green chilies and cumin are some of my favorite flavors, and in this fantastically easy dish, things are no different.

The most beautiful thing about this quiche is that it can be frozen for a few weeks with no deterioration in its flavor or consistency. When you pull it out of the freezer, thaw it, and bake it, it tastes just as good as if you’d baked it immediately after you assembled it. And, when you’re hosting a big brunch, having a frozen quiche that you just have to defrost and bake is ideal since it allows you to spread out prep time.

Yes, it does go so fast that you don't have time to take a photo of it when you put it out at a brunch table

Aztec Quiche

2 1/2 cups grated cheese (a blend of 1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack and 1 cup cheddar works particularly well; this time, I used 2 cups smoked Gouda and 1/2 cup Monterey Jack)
Pie shell (I buy a refrigerated pie crust round from the store, then put it in the pan I’m going to use)
4 oz. can diced green chilies
1 cup half and half
3 eggs, beaten lightly
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cumin, or more to taste

Spread 2 cups cheese over the bottom of the pie shell. Sprinkle diced chilies over the cheese. In a separate bowl, combine the half and half, eggs, and seasonings. Pour carefully into the pie shell and top with the remaining cheese. Freeze.

When thawed (or if you opt not to freeze), bake uncovered at 325 for 40-60 minutes.