Chunky Monkey for Breakfast?!


A week or so ago I made our first attempt at ice cream and it was creamy and decadent. Shortly after our first bite, C asked if I could and when I would make Chunky Monkey ice cream. While I will eventually make it for him, albeit reduced-guilt, I couldn’t get the flavor combination out of my mind. Any morning that we are able to sleep in seems to require a special breakfast – waffles, pancakes, French toast, etc. As I have made more waffles than I care to count over the past month pancakes were the clear answer. I flipped through this book for inspiration on healthier breakfasts and made up one of my own. They are very easy to whip up and go down quickly, especially if dunked in warm buttery syrup…

Whisk up some whole-wheat flour, baking powder, salt, Splenda, cinnamon, and oats in one bowl.

In another some egg substitute, vanilla extract, milk, water and mashed banana.

Follow the normal pattern – add wet to dry and combine.

Next add in the chopped walnuts, chocolate chips, and banana.

Portion them out in to 2-bite pancakes and cook them until crisp on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside.

     

Chunky Monkey Pancakes (4 points plus/5 pancakes)

  • 3 tablespoons rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 packets Splenda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 tablespoons fat-free egg substitute
  • 2 tablespoons non-fat milk
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 banana, half mashed and half diced
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate chips,  chopped
  • 2 tablespoons walnut pieces, chopped
  1. Preheat skillet over medium heat.
  2. In a medium bowl combine dry ingredients and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl whisk mashed banana, water, milk, vanilla and egg substitute
  4. Form a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet – whisk until just combined.
  5. Gently fold in nuts and chocolate.
  6. Use a tablespoon (or tablespoon-sized scoop) to portion out batter. Cook  approximately 3 minutes on each side – they will be slightly crisp on the outside and light on the inside.
  7. While pancakes are crisping warm syrup with a bit of butter (I use 2 tablespoons of syrup and 2 teaspoons of butter).
  8. These will not last. Nothing bite-sized ever does… I put them out on a platter and portioned out 5 for myself.
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I climbed a mountain


Remember I said a few weeks ago that it has been crazy around here?? Well it has and it hasn’t slowed down yet. I am in the final stretch on all of my projects.

  • T minus 3 days until applications are due (accepting prayers and positive vibes)
  • T minus 48 days until Match Day (when I learn my fate…)
  • T minus 69 days until the wedding (dun dun dun….)

Plus there’s this new home thing going on so we are constantly cleaning, and working on projects around the house. I have spent my days cooking and FLYING and shopping. I am sooo ready for a breather… I am anticipating one this coming weekend when applications will be done and invitations will be mailed out. Then the week after is our tasting which should yield some FANTASTIC photos!! Can you imagine a foodie’s wedding when they have full control over the menu??? It’s a bit like heaven…

So what have I been cooking and doing?? Well I recently found Bountiful Baskets which is my new favorite thing. It’s like Chopped but at home. Pick up a mystery basket or two of food and try to make a week or two’s worth of food out of it. If there is a location near you I highly recommend it – one warning is wait to do your produce shopping until after you have taken home and inventoried your loot. It is very affordable and high quality produce; plus you are supporting local growers. Here are a few shots of my first two pick ups.

             

Also on the project list was some quality time in the kitchen. I made a delicious cake for a dear coworker’s birthday, I threw a party for that big football game (which was a total disappointment) a couple weeks ago, I made my two favorite breads (this one and this one), and a few soups (this one, a recipe-less chicken and veggie soup, and this one). Oh yah… and homemade Oreos. Yep. I did that. I have been addicted to a new cookbook my mom & I bought for each other this Christmas. FLOUR and it’s amazing… I have made: snickerdoodles (awesome), chocolate chip cookies (dear God the best CC cookies ever…), sticky buns, and the homemade oreos. Mom’s list looks like that but with a few extras including the bran muffins and a few others. Here are some drool-worthy photos of the goods.

            

Also on my project list – crafts… tons. I’ve been sewing curtains, and pillows, and cutting fabric for invitations and assembling invitations… I’m so looking forward to receiving RSVPs mainly because it will mean I am done with invitations. Please tell me (current/past brides) that you feel me on this…

Enjoy this shot – I (literally) climbed to the top of a mountain today. That’s a first and it was a pain in the butt… Though I will probably be back, just never EVER on a Sunday morning again.

I have a bit of an emergency on my hands currently — less than 1/2 cup of butter in the house… and not enough peanut butter~ Off to load up.


Thanksgiving


How was your Thanksgiving?? Ours was pretty good. My work scheduled enabled me to have an extended break which was nice. By Sunday though I desperately needed to get out of the house. I spent most of Thursday cooking which was nice. We managed to do just enough so it felt like Turkey Day but not so much that it was overwhelming. On our menu:

  • Sausage Stuffing with Fruit
  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts
  • Apple Crumb Pie
  • Turkey Breast – nothing too special here just herb butter (rosemary & thyme) and lots of basting (every 10 minutes for the last 45 minutes). 5 pounds went for about 2.25 hours total (30 minutes at 425 and the remaining at 350).
  • Gravy – store bought (trader joe’s)
  • Mashed Potatoes – done by my mother in law; basically your standard recipe but we added in some garlic-parmesan olive oil
  • Pumpkin Chocolate Tart – made by my mother in law and we adapted it from these two #1 and #2

We really enjoyed each of these treats. Some were proven to be excellent breakfast choices while others delicious standalone lunches.

Carver and I really enjoy the turkey-stuffing combo. In fact we often have it outside of that fourth Thursday of November. I think it is safe to say that we will make it again in our new house this January.

Meanwhile enjoy some other photos of our holiday.

           

      


Quality time with mom


So a few weeks ago my mom came to visit. It was a whirlwind weekend, but we got a lot done and it was nice to spend some quality time with her. The majority of our work was for the wedding but we did some serious eating while she was here to. There were 3 places I had to introduce her to. Pita Jungle, Sprinkles, and Seasons 52. Yummy… Such a yummy weekend. Falafel, hummus, cupcakes and salads… Especially because she brough cake pops! oh my… I must make these once I have guaranteed someone to help me eat them (Jen, Gina… ahem).

I did so well taking photos early in the day… But by the time we scarfed down cupcakes I was almost comatose and thus there are no dinner photos. Please forgive me. I promise to return to Seasons 52 to get you photos… Maybe a lunch shot would be more successful.

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breakfast staple


Okay people. I have done it! Finally after many attempts I have found the recipe (and successfully executed said recipe) for super crunchy and chunky granola. In past recipes I had problems with not enough clusters, basically my sauce wasn’t sticky enough so the pieces didn’t clump. The flavor has always been there but I was missing the secret ingredient. What is it you ask?! Well, it’s brown rice syrup. I know! I had no idea such a thing existed either. It is a life (granola) saver, let me tell you… I was so overjoyed when this batch came out of the oven. It was a big victory for me. This product is well worth the trip to Whole Foods to grab a jar, and while you are there you can also grab the yummy raw nuts and unsweetened shredded coconut. So are you ready for your new favorite, go-to granola recipe??

Classic Granola adapted from here and here.

  • 6 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups mixed raw nuts – I used sunflower seeds, walnuts and pecans but this is very flexible
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (optional but super yummy)
  • 1 cup brown rice syrup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Dash salt
  • 1 tablespoon chunky peanut butter, unsalted
  • 1 cup dried fruit – I used cherries and blueberries

Heat oven to 325. On a large baking sheet toast oats approximately 5-10 minutes, stirring regularly. Add coconut and nuts to oats and toast an additional 5-10 minutes, again stirring regularly. Meanwhile combine brown sugar, rice syrup and peanut butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir well and cook until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. In a large bowl combine all ingredients – toasted dry ingredients and the slightly cooled syrup/sauce. Mix well to ensure all pieces are coated. Spoon mix on to parchment-lined cookie sheet and press flat. Bake for approximately 20 minutes stirring every 5-10 minutes to ensure all parts get good and crispy brown.

Here’s the bad news faithful readers… This makes a TON of granola (>8 cups or nearly 30 servings) but the standard serving size for granola is 1/4 cup and granola is pretty calorie (and point) dense 5 points plus per serving!! So self-restraint is necessary here.

If you don’t know where to start on the flavor/seasoning front I always go for what’s in my house. So this week it was sunflower seeds, walnuts, pecans, cherries and blueberries. Another favorite of my combos is apricots, dates and cranberries. I have also done one with cherries, soy nuts and walnuts with mini chocolate chips. You could also do one that is more fall-like with apples and cranberries and go a little heavier on the cinnamon and halve the salt. Really it’s up to you and what ingredients you have on hand.


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies adapted from Martha Stewart’s recipe here: http://www.marthastewart.com/344840/soft-and-chewy-chocolate-chip-cookies

2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
3 tablespoons egg white substitute
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and ½ of the pumpkin. Next cream the butter/pumpkin with both sugars; beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; add the salt, vanilla, and egg whites and egg. Beat until well mixed, about 1 minute. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. The dough will be slightly dry at this point so you will add in the remaining ½ cup of pumpkin and then stir in the chocolate chips.
Drop heaping tablespoon-size balls of dough about 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Flatten the dough slightly with the back of a spoon/scoop.
Bake until cookies are golden around the edges, but still soft in the center, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool on baking sheet 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week
Yields about 4 dozen cookies.

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death by chocolate


chocolate, check. sugar, check. eggs, check. This recipe came from one of my favorite sources: Orangette Molly has yet to lead me astray whether it’s the oatmeal sandwich bread or the Italian vegetable soup. Today’s treat is the Winning Hearts and Minds Cake. In case you’re not connecting the dots, I’m talking about a rich decadent cake with a killer name. I think you need to make it just to brag you made something so amazing. I decided to make this as a morale boost but Molly from Orangette made it for her wedding cake. Granted this would even be perfect for any old Tuesday as it is simple and gives a big bang for the effort. The only downside to this is that it would be cruel to change this recipe – as tempting as it is to find a way to decrease the points value per serving.

Carver described this as souffle meets brownie meets cake and I have to agree with his findings. What I like is the depth of flavor, the contrast in textures and the subtle sweetness. Yes, I’m raving but the cake has earned it. Full disclosure, I edited the recipe a bit – increased flour from 1 tablespoon to 3, added vanilla extract and coffee.

Winning Hearts and Minds Cake

  • 7 oz good dark chocolate (I used Ghiradelli 70%), cut into 1/2″ chunks
  • 7oz unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons brewed coffee
  • 3 tablespoons flour

So first things first – preheat the oven to 375 and prepare muffin tins with liners and a quick spray of Pam; set aside.

In a medium glass bowl combine butter and chocolate, microwave for 1:30 pausing to stir every 15 seconds. You may not need the whole 90 seconds, but you need almost all the chocolate to be melted. Small chunks will melt with enough stirring. Whisk in sugar and set aside and let cool for about 5 minutes.

Whisk in eggs to chocolate/butter 1 at a time. Next add in remaining ingredients and whisk well to combine. Pour batter into prepared tin – for me it took 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon per cup. Now it’s time for the magic… Bake this in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes. I baked for 18 minutes, rotated sheet halfway through and then baked for another 5 minutes. Then remove them from the oven and cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes and finish cooling out of pan. Yields 12 cakes at 13 points plus per cake.

I’m told they are delicious with a cup of milk and well worth burning your tongue on… 3 guesses who shared that bit of information.

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