……………………………………………………. Baking our mark

Simple Appetizer: Goat-cheese wrapped grapes June 14, 2012

My favorite food group is snacks. I love tasting menus and happy hours and tapas and cocktail hours at weddings. Snack-sized things allow me to taste as many things as possible before I get too full to move.

And, when I headed to a friend’s house after work to look at vacation photos, I had the perfect excuse to make a lovely, simple snack / appetizer (an idea I borrowed from A Daily Something).

Grapes, wrapped in goat cheese, rolled in chopped pecans.

Not only do these involve some of the best parts of a cheese plate, they are also perfect for popping into your mouth whole, which makes you seem lady-like and prevents you from making a mess when you bring these to someone else’s house.

In case you were wondering, getting the goat cheese to stick to the grapes is not difficult; it’s kind of like playing with play-dough. Also, don’t make these too far ahead of time – the nuts will get a little soggy (and you will have a longer period of time to resist eating them all yourself).


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.


Red Lentil Soup May 30, 2012

Filed under: Lunch,Soup,Vegan,Vegetarian — krandle @ 5:27 pm
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Sometimes, you wind up with an ingredient that you have to invent uses for. It doesn’t fit into the things you normally make, you have no idea how to use it, and none of your stockpiled recipe ideas mention it anywhere. So you start making things up.

A while ago, my mother gave me a bag of red lentils. Not just any old bag. An enormous, unending bag of red lentils, so authentically designed for frequent lentil cooks that Lakshmi is on the outside of the bag. It was an incredibly thoughtful present, and I do love cooking beans/lentils/etc., so I was excited about it. I have to say that I ended up using most of the bag to make a weird rice/lentil mixture. Every time I needed a grain for a stir fry or something, I’d do 3/4 cup rice and 1/4 cup lentils. It added some texture and fiber…and that was pretty much the only idea I had. All my other lentil recipes called for firmer green or brown lentils.

That is, until I decided to make some red lentil soup. I have to say I wish I’d never concocted the rice/lentil mixture; this soup is so much better than that.

Curried Red Lentil Soup with Dried Cherries and Cilantro
from Martha Stewart Living

Lentil soup is delicious – but it always looks weird, so you get a small photo. The coconut milk drizzle adds extra creaminess to the soup.

2 tsp. safflower oil (or just vegetable oil if you’re a plain person)
3 Tbs. finely chopped peeled ginger (from a 2-in piece)
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped (2 Tbs.)
1 large shallot, finely chopped (4 Tbs.)
2 carrots, finely diced (about 1 cup)
2 tsp. curry powder
Coarse salt
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk, divided
1 cup red lentils
1/3 cup chopped dried cherries
3 Tbs. finely chopped cilantro stems, plus 3 Tbs. cilantro leaves for garnish

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook ginger, garlic, shallots and carrots, stirring often, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add curry powder and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add in 1 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/2 cup coconut milk, 4 cups water and the lentils and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until lentils and carrots are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Pour 2 cups of soup through a fine sieve into a bowl, reserving the solids. Puree the strained liquid and the remaining soup in a food processor until smooth. Reheat after blending and stir in reserved solids.

At this point, if you’re going to freeze your soup, this is the time to do it. If not, stir in some of the cherries and cilantro stems, then ladle soup into bowls. Swirl the remaining coconut milk and garnish with cherries and cilantro leaves.

Per serving: 348 calories, 8 g saturated fat, 48 g carbohydrates, 15 g protein, 12 g dietary fiber


Summer corn fritters with tomato and avocado salsa May 23, 2012

Well, it certainly has been a while! Don’t worry – I’m still cooking like a fiend. Some of it just isn’t worth writing home to the internet about. But, my garden has been planted, and I ate the first fruits (a single, cute radish) this evening – so I decided it’s time to resume sharing all the wonderful things I’ve been eating.

Just to kick it off, here’s a lovely, delectable summer treat that simple to make and involves fresh corn. This is also, aside from one other horrific experience, the first thing I’ve ever fried. My boyfriend was quite pleased about being able to have fried food as a side dish to our dinner.

Fresh Corn Fritters
slightly adapted from Ezra Pound Cake

3 ears corn, shucked and cut from the cobs (scrape the juice from the cobs into the bowl as well)
1 cup flour
¼ cup diced red onion
½ cup cornmeal
¼ cup thinly sliced basil
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
salt and pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbs. buttermilk (you can also substitute greek yogurt)
2 Tbs. butter, melted
Vegetable oil for frying

Serve with tomato and avocado salsa (recipe below)

After getting the corn off the cob, place 2 cups of it into the food process and pulse several times to create a chunky puree. Return the mixture to the bowl with the remaining corn. Add the onions

In a separate bowl, mix together flour, cornmeal, basil, powder, soda, salt and pepper. Add to the corn mixture. Then, add in eggs, buttermilk (or yogurt) and butter, stirring just until combined.

Heat the oil in a skillet, and scoop batter by heaping tablespoonfuls in to create little fritters. Fry the cake 1 to 2 minutes per side until golden brown. Place on a baking sheet lined with paper, then pop them in a warm oven to stay warm while you finish cooking the remaining fritters. Top with tomato and avocado salsa.

Tomato and Avocado Salsa

1 large tomato, cored and diced
1 scallion, minced
½ jalepeno, cored, seeded and diced (I left this out because I had a heat-averse dining partner)
1 Tbs. chopped fresh basil
1 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced
Juice of ½ lime
1 ½ tsp. olive oil
1 ½ tsp. white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
1 avocado, diced

Stir all ingredients (except avocado) together. Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve, then add the avocado.

Per serving: 209 calories, 3 g saturated fat, 27.6 g carbohydrates, 3.8 g dietary fiber, 5.7 g protein,


Who needs camping? Indoor banana boat alternatives March 13, 2012

Growing up, I was obsessed with camping. Not so much the hike-until-you-drop side of things – more the recreating-your-house-in-nature side. My father sadly recalls the day he realized that my sister and I would have had just as much fun in a tent in the backyard as we did in places like Arches.

Today, still growing up, I am mostly just obsessed with trying to create an actual home for myself and actually be (not just pretend to be) a real adult. Plus, a lack of camping gear makes it difficult to march into the great outdoors for a weekend of unshowered fun. But, that doesn’t stop me from craving a little camping food now and again.

And so – I present to you with utmost deliciousness….indoor alternatives to banana boats. (In case you are a camping-deprived person or if your parents insisted you only eat healthy things, a banana boat is a dessert that involves partly peeling a banana, slicing it lengthwise, then filling it up with chocolate chips and marshmallows. Then you wrap the whole thing in tinfoil and put it in the embers of a campfire until it turns into a sticky, melty, delicious mess.)

These options, banana chocolate chip cookies and a banana s’more sandwich, are not so messy. But with all that chocolate and banana and sweetness, they come pretty close to fixing a craving for the real deal.

Banana-Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies from Martha

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 or 2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (preferably bordering on black)
1 cup old-fashioned oats
8 oz chocolate chips or chocolate chunks
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 375. Blend dry ingredients first and set aside. In an electric mixer, blend sugars and butter. Then, on a lower speed, blend in the egg and vanilla. Then add the banana. Slowly add in the flour mixture until everything is just combined. Stir in the oats, walnuts and chocolate.

Place scooped out cookie dough balls onto a greased cookie sheet (or use parchment or silpat) – the dough will be sticky. Bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating the rack position half way through. Let cookies cool on baking sheets for 3-5 minutes before letting them cool completely on wire racks.

Banana S’more Sandwich

Yeah, it’s not complicated, but you should still take this idea and run with it. 🙂
Spread some marshmallow fluff on some bread, then put some banana slices and chocolate chips on top. With the sandwich open on both sides, put under the broiler so everything starts to melt. When things are appropriately toasty, you can put the top on the sandwich and munch away.

Yes, both of these are acceptable breakfast foods because they have fruit in them.


Pink Hummus: Beet, Chickpea and Almond Dip February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all.

Yup. It’s pink hummus. And it’s delicious. Bam.

Beet, Chickpea and Almond Dip from B.A.

1 large (8-ounce) beet, peeled, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 cup garbanzo beans (from 15 1/2 oz can), drained and rinsed
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup slivered almonds
5 garlic cloves, peeled
1 1/2 Tbs red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil beet until tender, about 12 minutes. Puree in food processor. Add garbanzos, olive oil, almonds, and garlic, and puree until smooth. Blend in red wine vinegar, then add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with pita and crudités.