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.

Another Birthday Dinner


What recipes did you grow up with? Maybe it’s restaurant dishes or a certain treat that stands out. There are several for me and often those foods are associated with a specific time of year or a person. For example, apple cake or muffins are a must have in January – or any time I need something special for my dad. As Carver tells it he and his sister were virtually raised on recipes from this book. My mother-in-law sent it to us one year and I have gradually added recipes from it to our repertoire. I must admit I was fairly hesitant about the tuna recipe below – Carver has asked for it for months and I have shied away. The original recipe calls for canned tuna which is an absolute NO in my book, and I was unsure of the cream and tuna. It just seemed unappealing to me. Carver finally convinced me to make it for his mom’s birthday this year and it was perfect. It says, “You’re special,” but it isn’t showy or over-the-top. Another quirk about Carver and I is we have a different definition of Strawberry Shortcake. I am of the classic school while Carver associates the dish with angel food cake in place of the shortcake. For this dinner I decided we should stick with what Carver remembered and it turned out very well.

Ahi Tuna with Creamy Pasta

  • 2/3 pound ahi tuna steak
  • 5 ounces whole wheat pasta
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, room temperature
  • 1 lemon – zested and juiced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Before straining reserve 1/4 cup cooking liquid.
  2. Season tuna steak with salt and pepper. Preheat grill pan over high heat. Sear tuna for 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove to a plate to rest.
  3. In a food processor, combine heavy cream, lemon and garlic. Pulse until cream thickens – it will look like sour cream and takes less than 2 minutes so be ready! Fold in capers and parsley.
  4. Add sauce to pasta and mix so pasta is coated with sauce. The cream sauce should be fairly liquid and easily incorporate with the pasta, if it doesn’t gradually add a bit of the reserved pasta water to the mix and stir until you get the desired consistency.
  5. Slice tuna and serve on top of pasta.

Carver’s Strawberry ‘Shortcake’

  • 1 1/2 cup sliced strawberries
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 slices angel food cake, cubed
  1. Add half the sugar to strawberries, stir and set aside for at least 30 minutes. *macerate those strawberries*
  2. Before serving whip cream on high with a mixer until soft peaks form.
  3. Once you have soft peaks, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and beat again on high until stiff peaks form.
  4. Assemble the dessert: a spoonful of berries and sauce, a dollop of whipped cream, a handful of cake cubes, a spoonful of berries and sauce, and a dollop of whipped cream

Apple Muffins


Now that the wedding has come and gone we get to delve back into our to-do list. The fun one that has things like update recipes and make macaroons on it… Not the one riddled with obligatory tasks like making table numbers. We are looking forward to fun and to relaxing. After all isn’t that what being newlyweds is all about?? Anyways, over the past few years I have adjusted this recipe from the original I was taught and the original one I posted here. This is where we are today.

Apple Muffins

  • 1 stick butter, melted and cooled
  • 4 ounces unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 small Granny Smith apples, cored and diced into 1/4″ pieces
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin trays with papers and spray papers with nonstick spray.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl sift together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.
  3. Cream together butter, sugar, applesauce, eggs and vanilla extract mixing until light,  airy and well-combined                   
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet in thirds and mix at a gradual speed – you don’t want to over-mix or make a mess. Mix the first two thirds then wait.   
  5. Add the diced apples to the remaining flour and stir to evenly coat the apples; add to muffin batter and fold to incorporate.
  6. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter.
  7. If you are making mini-muffins, cook them for 18 minutes rotating halfway through. For larger muffins you will need 25 minutes, again rotate the pan halfway through cook time.
  8. Let cool in pan 5 minutes before removing to cooling rack to cool completely.
  9. These guys are delicious with yogurt, coffee, or by themselves.


not always as planned


Saturday I had this great idea to make these mini pizzas. It didn’t work the way I wanted and was totally discouraged. I’m going to share what I did anyways, just to show you dinner doesn’t always have to follow your plan for it to be balanced and delicious.

Here’s where I went wrong: I didn’t look up the recipe. Because I didn’t look it up, my measurements were off. I used 2 pounds of dough, with the intention of freezing at least half of my yield for the week after the wedding. I knew I wouldn’t be up for cooking the first couple days we were home – actually I probably won’t be up for grocery shopping, the cooking is easy. I have the hardest time with pizza dough. I canNOT get it to stretch out and form a nice thin crust. Never have been. I have found ways to make it work like par baking the crust so it doesn’t rise so much and won’t be gooey after we add toppings. So Saturday I knew the general idea of the recipe, put dough in muffin pans, top with goodies and bake. But my normal issue arose and I couldn’t get them flat. So I decided to just cut up the dough in 14 standard muffins and 10 mini muffins. I poked them with a fork so they wouldn’t puff too much and baked them for 10 minutes at 350. Meanwhile I chopped up some turkey meatballs. When the muffins were nearly finished (still a little doughy in the middle) I put them on a rack to cool.

Then a few hours later when it was time for dinner I preheat the oven to 350 and sliced the pizza dough muffins in half like a hamburger. Next was the assembly line. The muffin halves were lined up on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Each half got a dollop of tomato sauce, a sprinkling of meatball and then fresh grated parmesan and pecorino. They went back in the oven for 10 minutes until crispy and warmed through. We served it with a large salad. Not as intended, but still delicious.

We have the muffins left over and so when I am ready to use again I will defrost the night before then when it’s time for dinner I can get these guys ready in about 15 minutes.

Oh and we have a dog now… Unless his owner claims him before the wedding.
20120416-075612.jpg20120416-075622.jpg20120416-075633.jpg20120416-075649.jpg


Lemons to spare


A few days ago our friends brought us gigantic lemons from their trees. Softball-sized lemons. So many lemons I couldn’t decide how to use them all. Tonight I managed to use three of them between dinner and dessert and we loved every bit of them.
For dinner I made chicken with capers and green beans. It was delicious and I have leftovers for one dinner maybe when Carver is out bowling. The perfect chicken cutlet, a dash of sauce and about a cup of green beans. Easy.
For dessert I decided a simple lemon cookie would be nice. I had never made lemon cookies before but I knew what I wanted. I wanted a sugar cookie that was not super buttery or sweet. I worked it by adding lemon zest, lemon juice, ricotta cheese, applesauce and whole wheat flour. Tomorrow I will share the what and the how of these little treats.
Carver urged me to bake up a few for QA. He is so thoughtful; didn’t want me to waste my time writing about them if they were no good. Nice try honey- I know you just wanted warm cookies before bed.
Anyways tomorrow we are trying out a newish lunch concept for the blog. It’s going to last the next four days. Then who knows maybe I will win him over with the ploughman’s lunch. A healthy take on it anyways.
Have a good night all. See you in the morning

20120319-213155.jpg


I missed yoga


For the past few weeks I have been in a fog. I have no idea what I was doing or what I already did. I just can’t seem to remember. I’m late all the time and distracted and few things are making me feel better. I tried to make it to yoga everyday this past week and failed. Partly because I made excuses and partly because work was overtaking things. Oh and we had a rental dog this week. Who wants to do ANYTHING when there is a dog at home to play with?

I was so excited this morning. I had a wedding call with my dad, I started a load of laundry. The house was relatively clean. I was going to yoga. I got my spirits up while driving thinking class would be empty as it is a holiday. I’m not sure if class was empty but the parking lot seemed empty. As I walked up to the door with my mat and bag I noticed the class was finishing the standing postures. Hmm that’s awesome. That means class started at 8AM, not 830AM like I thought. That’s what I mean. ALL week it’s been like that. By the by, it’s written in my agenda that class starts at 8…

After I drove all the way to the studio I decided I should just go home and have some breakfast. Carver was at work so I snuggled up on the couch with my bowl of cereal and consoled myself with some television.

 I am a fan of mixing cereals. It seems more exciting that way. Today I mixed 1/4 cup Post Great Grains, 1/4 cup Quaker Corn Bran Crunch, and 1/4 cup Whole Grain Total. Perfectly crunchy with 1/3 cup of milk and a big glass of water.

Since we spoke last I have had tomatoes grow in on my plant and some beautiful flowers have begun to adorn the front of the house.

     

Also we had a lot of yummy food over the past couple weeks.

                 



I was reminded of something useful this week. Yesterday I tried to implement a ‘Wedding-Free’ day; I called it Wedding-Free Wednesday. It was out of desperation and necessity – my sanity is wearing thin due to wedding-related nonsense. What I was reminded was Murphy’s Law exists and you can’t expect people to read your mind. I may (possibly) have forgotten to give my closest buds a head’s up on this wedding-free request. Murphy’s Law comes in to play because yesterday was the day everyone decided to ask about details. So I’m throwing it out there – The next six Wednesday’s will be my break from all things Wedding. I need it. Carver needs it. So thanks for understanding. I feel better already.

I’ve started two new things since we last chatted: 1. Bikram yoga, 2. Gardening. AND I had an interview with an internship site (fabulous news for those of you who may be wondering). And I also got word that my application for ASU has finally moved to the department for their review. Whew… More waiting but at least we are one step closer to having an answer.

So Bikram – have you tried it? Do you know much about it? Basically it’s the original hot yoga and there is a prescribed routine of 26 postures (read same routine every class at every studio). I had never tried it but have been researching it for at least 4 months. Reading his book, talking to current students, and reading all details for the local studios. I had to mull it over, but I finally committed. The studio I chose had this fantastic deal – 30 days of unlimited classes for $30. I have taken 3 classes so far (fourth will be this evening) and have enjoyed them all. Well the first two were awesome and uncomfortable, the third was just uncomfortable. That was something I had come across in my research but class #3 was my first chance to experience it. It was a lesson in taking care of your body and preparing properly – I didn’t drink enough water in the 24 hours prior to class and I also didn’t eat enough at the right time… Basically I got so busy at work I forgot to eat/drink so when I got home I was famished and ate everything in sight and nearly died in class. Maybe not literally died but at the time I was pretty sure I should have a will.

I should be honest about that garden too. I do have one plant, it’s a tomato plant I bought at Costco on Sunday. It’s beautiful and has some nice blossoms already. It’s still in the pot though. My plot of land isn’t quite ready for it to be planted yet. Luckily this guy should do just find in the pot for the next couple weeks. Here is his first close up.

Last night I made us a special treat of pasta with tomatoes and ricotta which was very easy and delicious.