Peanut Butter Balls

I’ve been eating gluten free (by choice) for a little over a month now. I’ve found myself in Flying Apron Bakery quite a few times- as they have an all gluten-free, vegan and organic bakery and the goods are pretty tasty. One of my favorite things there is the Morning Peanut Butter Bar. But at $3.50 each, it was developing into an expensive habit. So I set out to make them myself. A quick google brought me to another blog where the author was attempting the same thing and had already found a pretty good approximation. I made them, and proceeded to eat almost the entire batch by myself (over a period of several days). They’re really tasty and are open to endless variations. They make a great post-workout snack. They also remind me of a similar treat my mom and I used to make when I was younger. I may try that version again too, although it’s not vegan. In any case, here it is. You can also see the original version here.

Peanut Butter [Sticky] Balls
Source: Conviviality [blog]
Makes: 18 balls

1 cup crunchy salted peanut butter (I used creamy)
1 cup gluten free rolled oats
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
3/4 cup raisins or golden raisins
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 Tbsp brown rice syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Put oatmeal and coconut in the blender to chop up a bit finer. You might want to chop the sunflower seeds a tad as well. Dump and scoop everything into a medium bowl, stir and mix, and then roll into little balls. Place in the fridge and let sit for half a day so the oatmeal absorbs some of the moisture of the peanut butter. (I skipped this step). Also, you might prefer to store them in the fridge depending on the season and how warm it is where you are.

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili

What’s this? A blog post??? Something other than photos? Yes, friends. I am here. Don’t expect a huge revival here, but I have a few new recipes to share and frankly, this is an easy way of keeping them bookmarked for myself. The first, this sweet potato & black bean chili is easy, filling and healthy. Plus it’s perfect food for the cold, February weather we’ve been having. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili
Source: Eating Well, Jan/Feb 2011
Makes 4 servings, about 2 cups each

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium-large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups water
2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
4 teaspoons lime juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add sweet potato and onion and cook, stirring often, until the onion is beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, chipotle and salt and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. Add water and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the sweet potato is tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
2. Add beans, tomatoes and lime juice; increase heat to high and return to a simmer, stirring often. Reduce heat and simmer until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro.

Nutrition, Per serving: 307 calories; 8 g fat (1 g sat, 5 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 51 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 12 g protein; 14 g fiber; 494 mg sodium; 947 mg potassium.

Avocado, Orange, Jicama

Avocado, Orange, Jicama. It’s one of those holy trinities, right? Maybe you don’t agree, but I happen to love the combination. This weekend I wanted to make a salad combining those ingredients, but didn’t see exactly what I wanted. I ended up throwing one together and using a recipe for dressing from epicurious. It was perfect. Just what I was looking for. I don’t have a recipe for the salad itself, but it was a big pile of lettuce topped with 1/2 a sliced jicama, 1/2 a sliced avocado and 1 sliced navel orange. The whole thing was tossed in this dressing spiked with cumin and curry and sprinkled with some pepitas. I plan to eat it a few more times this week.

Here’s the dressing:
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil

In a bowl whisk together orange juice, curry powder, salt, cumin, sugar, and vinegar. Add oil in a stream, whisking until emulsified. Pour over salad and dig in!

Banana Bread with Chocolate and Crystallized Ginger

I’ve been fairly remiss in blogging once more. It’s been a lazy couple of weeks around here and I am more than OK with that. Surprisingly enough, I’ve actually found myself in the kitchen a fair bit. This summer’s crazy heat has resulted in an abundance of cheap, delicious berries and I have been doing my best to put all that fruit to good use! I’ve made pies and crisps and bars and cookies. I’ve also worked my way through a few of the recipes in Molly Wizenberg’s “A Homemade Life”. Excellent book, by the way and there are a number of good recipes. So far, my favorites are the banana bread and the bread salad with cherries, arugula and goat cheese. I’ve made the banana bread 2 or 3 times now and it’s been quite a hit in our house. One time I was out of yogurt and used plain (full fat) sour cream instead. But it’s a great variation on the classic. And as Molly recommends, it is actually quite good to eat a slice straight from the freezer. Yum.

Banana Bread with Chocolate and Crystallized Ginger
Adapted from “A Homemade Life”
Makes 1 loaf or 1 8-inch round cake

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
2 large eggs
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup well-stirred whole-milk plain yogurt (not low or nonfat)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Set a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 350F. Grease a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan or an 8-inch round cake pan with cooking spray or butter.

2. Melt the butter on the stove or in a microwave and set aside to cool slightly.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the chocolate chips and crystallized ginger and whisk well to combine. Set aside.

4. In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a fork. Add the mashed banana, yogurt, melted butter, and vanilla and stir to mix well. Pour the banana mixture into the dry ingredients, and stir gently with a rubber spatula, scraping down the sides as needed, until just combined. Do not overmix. The batter with be thick and somewhat lumpy, just make sure all the flour has been incorporated. Scrape the batter into the loaf pan and smooth the top.

5. Bake into the loaf is a deep shade of golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 mins to an hour. If the loaf seems to be browning too quickly, tent with foil.

6. Cool the loaf in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Then tip out onto the rack, and let it cool completely before slicing. The loaf freezes well wrapped in plastic wrap and again in foil to protect from freezer burn.

Rice Pilaf with Shallots and Parmesan

When I make dinner after work, it’s usually pretty simple. If I make rice, it’s almost always plain white or brown rice. Last weekend, I made this rice pilaf for a bit of a change. I must say, it was VERY tasty and almost as easy as plain rice. I ate two big helpings, and felt it was pretty much the perfect pregnancy food. I didn’t have shallots so used white onion instead, but I’m sure shallots would be even better.

Rice Pilaf with Shallots and Parmesan
Source: Cooking Light, Dec 2003

2 teaspoons butter
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup basmati rice
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth (I used vegetable broth)
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Dash of sea salt

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and garlic; sauté 1 minute. Stir in rice; sauté 1 minute. Stir in broth and wine; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes.
Remove from heat; stir in cheese, parsley, pepper, and salt.

CALORIES 266(21% from fat); FAT 6.3g(sat 3.8g,mono 1.8g,poly 0.4g); PROTEIN 8.4g; CHOLESTEROL 15mg; CALCIUM 100mg; SODIUM 455mg; FIBER 0.6g; IRON 0.8mg; CARBOHYDRATE 43.9g

Chocolate-Covered Caramelized Matzoh Crunch

I am a huge fan of David Lebovitz and regularly read his blog. The recipes I’ve tried are always a hit and I knew this was going to get made as soon as I saw it. Chocolate-Covered Caramelized Matzoh Crunch. Need I say more? I made a tray 2 nights ago and am well on my way to eating the entire batch myself. I’m not going to retype it, just urge you to check out the recipe and make a batch, pronto! It’s insanely easy and quick- although it took a lot longer to cool than I expected. I suggest you make it for a party or bring to someone’s house, lest you end up eating the whole tray yourself!

The Best Broccoli EVER

I ended up at this random food blog not long ago and one click led to another. I found myself reading a post about “The Best Broccoli Ever”, which is based on a recipe by the Barefoot Contessa. Anyway, I love broccoli, and I love Ina, so it seemed like a sure bet. I tried it that night and have since made it about 4 times. Each time, G and I manage to eat 4 or 5 heads of broccoli in a sitting. This stuff is delicious and kind of addictive. Apparently, Ina’s original recipe included fresh basil and pine nuts. I’ve tried it with the basil and I honestly don’t think it adds much (certainly doesn’t hurt, though!). I have yet to try the pine nuts, but this is quite good enough for me as is. Finally, I cut way back on the lemon as G doesn’t like excessive lemon. Enjoy! And please do stock up on broccoli- I think you’ll be making a lot of this one.

Parmesan-Roasted Broccoli
4-5 lbs broccoli
4-5 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (I eyeballed)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (I used about 1/2 of this)
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Cut the broccoli florets from the thick stalks, leaving an inch or two of stalk attached to the florets, discarding the rest of the stalks. Cut the larger pieces through the base of the head with a small knife, pulling the florets apart. You should have about 8 cups of florets. Place the broccoli florets on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Toss the garlic over the broccoli and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper.

Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned. Remove the broccoli from the oven and immediately toss with the lemon zest, lemon juice, and Parmesan. Serve hot.

Kale and Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes

Oh my. I have been horribly remiss in keeping this blog up to date. I am so sorry. There are loads of things to tell you about, like all of Lucy’s crazy shenanigans and our upcoming Maui trip. There’s a few good recipes to share and lots of muddy trail running to fill you in on. My mom and sister are coming to town this weekend to celebrate the girl turning TWO. TWO!? Can you believe that? In any case, I’m busy. Really busy. Work, running, Lucy time, Gordon time, etc. And there’s just not enough time to blog.

However! There are some really yummy things that have crossed my dinner table of late. I am a HUGE fan of winter greens- kale, collards, chard, spinach. You name it. When I came across this recipe on 101cookbooks, I figured it was worth a shot, despite G’s grumblings about KALE in mashed potatoes. But it’s good. I think the key is to slice it fairly thin- in ribbons. You don’t need a big old chunk of chewy kale messing up your pillow-y mashed potatoes. But if you slice it failt small it’s more like flecks of kale. And THAT is quite alright with me. I suspect that my use of heavy cream in place of milk (I had some to use up) also contributed to the final product.

Kale and Olive Oil Mashed Potato Recipe
Adapted from: 101cookbooks

3 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
sea salt
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch kale, large stems stripped and discarded, leaves chopped
1/2+ cup warm milk or cream
freshly ground black pepper
5 scallions, white and tender green parts, chopped
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, for garnish

Put the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Add a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil and continue boiling for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, chopped kale, a big pinch of salt, and saute just until tender – about a minute. Set aside.

Mash the potatoes with a potato masher or fork. Slowly stir in the milk a few big splashes at a time. You are after a thick, creamy texture, so if your potatoes are on the dry side keep adding milk until the texture is right. Season with salt and pepper.

Dump the kale on top of the potatoes and give a quick stir. Transfer to a serving bowl, make a well in the center of the potatoes and pour the remaining olive oil. Sprinkle with the scallions and Parmesan cheese.

Serves 6.

More Brussels Sprouts

I’ve been on a brussels sprouts kick for a few weeks now. I tried a recipe from 101 cookbooks on Christmas Day and it was another keeper. A bit on the sweet side with the apples and maple syrup, if you like that sort of thing. I skipped the tofu since I made it as a side dish.

Shredded Brussels Sprouts and Apples

1 large, crisp apple, cut into bite-sized wedges
1 lemon
a couple pinches of fine-grain sea salt
a couple splashes of olive oil
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
a scant tablespoon of maple syrup
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted and chopped
12 ounces (3/4 pound). brussels sprouts, washed and cut into 1/8-inch wide ribbons

Soak the apples in a bowl filled with water and the juice of one lemon.

Heat oil in a large skillet with a bit of salt. Stir in the garlic, wait a few seconds, now stir in the maple syrup, and cook another 30 seconds or so. Drain the apples, and add them to the skillet, cooking for another minute. Scrape the apple mixture out onto a plate and set aside while you cook the brussels sprouts.

In the same pan (no need to wash), add a touch more oil, another pinch of salt, and dial the heat up to medium-high. When the pan is nice and hot stir in the shredded brussels sprouts. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes, stirring a couple times (but not too often) until you get some golden bits, and the rest of the sprouts are bright and delicious.
Stir the apple mixture back into the skillet alongside the brussels sprouts 1/2 of the pine nuts – gently stir to combine. Remove from heat and enjoy immediately sprinkled with the remaining pine nuts.

Serves 2 – 3 as a main, 4 as a side.

Altoid Brownies

David Lebovitz’s recipes NEVER disappoint. This recipe is no exception. I immediately added it to my “to try” list when he first posted back in November. Chocolate and mint are 1 of my all-time favorite flavor combinations (right up there with chocolate and peanut butter). I followed the recipe more or less exactly. The resulting brownies are extremely fudgy and very minty (I did add peppermint extract). Note: Altoids are not vegetarian so feel free to sub another type of mint if you so choose.

11 ounces (315g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (60-75% cacao), chopped
8 ounces (215g) unsalted butter, cubed
1 1/4 cup (175g) flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons dark, unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups (300g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (120g) packed dark brown sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
optional: 1/4-1/2 teaspoon pure mint extract
1 to 1½ packages of Altoid peppermints, (80-120g), crushed

1. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C). Line the inside of a 9 by 13-inch, or similar sized baking pan, with foil. Butter or spray lightly with cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder.

4. Once the chocolate is melted and smooth, over the heat, whisk in both sugars. Remove from heat and whisk in three of the eggs completely, then whisk in the other two, along with the vanilla and mint extract, if using.

5. Sprinkle the flour mixture and the Altoids over the top and using a spatula, gently fold in the dry ingredients until just combined; there might be just a trace of the flour in places. Do not overmix.

6. Scrape into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Like most brownie recipes, it’s best to err on the side of underbaked than over.

Serving & storage: Once cool, wrap the brownies well. These brownies are even better the next day. Since the recipe makes quite a bit of brownies, extras can be cut into squares, wrapped, and frozen for a few months.