Recipe: Banana Blueberry Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Pancakes

This weekend I brought home a bunch of bananas and a half carton of eggs, and had a go at my own version of these healthy pancake recipe(s) from Buzzfeed. Flipping things is usually my weakness, yet I keep taking it on. Regular pancakes, green onion pancakes, blinkity blanking crepes… but I am happy to say that by the third round of pancakes I had it down pretty good.

Made with The Country Hen eggs every time, because they are free range, organic… and the only 6-egg carton available at my local grocery store, which works out quite nicely.

And as for the syrup, that came about mainly because I had some still hard cider that had been hanging out in the fridge for a while. It was still okay, but, you know… a little past its Best By date. Whoops. So I used it for cooking, and the results were very tasty with a hint of boozy — let’s hear it for 6.9% AVB!

On their own the pancakes are quite good, moist and almost bready with bursts of hot blueberry juice here and there. With the syrup they were absolutely perfect, although that does send the “healthy” part into a little bit of a decline.

Pancakes last night:

Pancakes this morning:

Continue reading “Recipe: Banana Blueberry Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Pancakes”

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Recipe: Faux-Plum (Actually Apple) Crumble

Who else has heard about this rude richsplaining of why avocado toast is the reason millennials can’t afford down payments on houses?

While that is patently ridiculous, at the core of this terribly, terribly expressed thought is at least one grain of truth: food can be expensive. Not necessarily avocados… or toast… (Seriously, why?) But once any food gains enough momentum to be considered “trending” there’s this unspoken expectation that begins to come with it. If you rushed to get a Unicorn Frap before Starbucks took it off the menu, that’s the kind of thing I mean — and that’s just at the novelty end of the spectrum.

This post by Nimue Brown goes more into the economics of affording (or not) all the organic, non-GMO foods on the market these days, or even just the wares at your local farmers market. Essentially, not everyone can afford it. Not even just the food itself, but the gas to go the extra miles to the nearest Whole Foods. Nimue also raises points about the relative greenness of driving to buy organic produce vs. biking to buy non-organic.

Side note, I feel like there’s at least one country out there where it’s actually illegal for a car commercial to imply that just because a car is a hybrid, it’s “good” for the environment, because it’s not. It’s better, but it’s not good. American commercials tend to gloss over the part where it still produces pollutants, just arguably fewer. If anyone reading this lives in a place where there are laws on the books about this, please comment on driving vs biking to get groceries and if there’s any difference in attitudes towards that.

So there’s all that.

And here’s what I actually wanted to write a post about, before I got carried away: food can be expensive, so don’t let it go to waste. Actual statistics on food waste can be found here, but to be honest I only skimmed it before linking. I’m talking about letting your leftovers, or even unopened products or unused ingredients quietly going bad in a corner somewhere in your kitchen.

My reasons for caring are, admittedly, kind of small and petty. I spend money and time on food, I was looking forward to it, and suddenly I (a) don’t get to eat it, (b) have to worry about how much of the trash has to wait until next week to go out, and (c) if it’s fruit then there are going to be fruit flies. These small and petty reasons are my motivations for doing something about food waste in my own home, or even think about the larger problems of food waste by association, so don’t knock ’em.

Because I enjoy baking, I’ve recently started experimenting with using my leftovers and miscellaneous extras to test out recipes I’ve found online. (Following, among other things, this inspiring example.) Usually I have to do some scaling down or substitutions based on the ingredients I have on hand. The rule, I believe, is that if you change at least three of the ingredients and/or proportions then it’s no longer copying.


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Faux-Plum (Actually Apple) Crumble

I had two apples, a partly empty container of blueberries, and a gluten free partner who really likes stone fruit. Unintentionally, I made a crumble that worked with all of those conditions.

Serves: 2-4, depending on how you feel about portions Continue reading “Recipe: Faux-Plum (Actually Apple) Crumble”

Recipe: Nectarine & Blackberry Mini Pies

I love to bake, but it’s been a while since I truly experimented. On a whim I bought some blackberries at the store, and by the time I got home I’d decided I wanted to bake something. It didn’t happen that particular night, but there was a display of delicious looking nectarines at another grocery store a day or two later… And this was born.

2017-02-17-23-06-23Because there was always an apple tree in our back yard growing up, I started out by making apple pies. Then my parents planted sweet cherry trees in the front yard and I was faced with a new challenge. You need tart cherries for a pie, like the kind grown in states like Michigan, New York, and Utah where the air has a cold snap to it during the winter  — otherwise the pie will end up sickly sweet and weird. But tart cherries don’t grow so well in California, so we make due with cheats like adding pureed plum to the sweet cherry filling to give it that tartness.

Knowing that and adding orange juice for the tartness is what made this “cup-pie” experiment so successful, although I might do some tweaking in the future. If you try this recipe at home, let me know what you think! Continue reading “Recipe: Nectarine & Blackberry Mini Pies”

Recipe: Orange Glazed Acorn Squash

This was a few weeks ago, but I am still deeply proud of myself. I remember my mom, in one of her few acts of cooking that doesn’t involve the microwave, making acorn squash with a brown sugar glaze when I was a kid.

I adapted this from a Bobby Flay recipe that I found on the Food Network website. Again, half the point was to make something delicious and the other half was to use up the box of oranges my parents have given me. Technically I was supposed to grill the squash but I don’t own a grill.

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The “before” shot.

Instead, I used a cast iron grill pan that will probably never forgive me, although by now I’ve cleaned it as best I can.

Anyway, this recipe wasn’t difficult and the results were very tasty. Acorn squash prepared this way tends to be a cross between side dish and dessert, but with the orange it was nicely tart as well as sweet.


Ingredients

  • 1 acorn squash, halved lengthwise, seeds and membranes removed
  • 1/16 cup melted butter
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

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    Slightly burnt but still yummy. Also, I’m not sure I reduced the glaze down quite enough, but oh well.
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/8 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 whole allspice berries
  • 1 stick cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Brush or spray the cut side of the squash with the butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Place squash, cut-side down, on a baking sheet and bake until almost tender, about 30 minutes.
  4. While the squash is baking, combine the orange juice, brown sugar, allspice, and cinnamon in a medium saucepan. Cook over high heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, stirring often. 
  5. When the squash is done, place cut side up on a cast iron grill pan and brush with the orange glaze.
  6. Cook for 5 minutes, then turn over with tongs and cook for 5 more minutes, or until tender and glaze is caramelized.
  7. Remove from heat and pour the rest of the glaze into the “bowl” of each squash half. Serve warm.

Recipe: Orange Spice Cake (gf)

My parents have two orange trees in their backyard and had to start dripping up the branches with two by fours before Halloween to keep them from breaking under the weight of the fruit. Thus, we have a box of oranges. So this week is one big brainstorming session on how to use up oranges in stuff.

71k8umh3vsl-_sy679_Since I happened to find a Pamela’s gluten free Spice Cake Mix in the clearance bin at Raley’s, I decided this would be a prime opportunity for some experimental baking.

The recipe on the back of the bag calls for 1 cup of milk, 3 eggs, and 1/2 cup of butter. I substituted orange juice for milk (hand juiced, tra-la-la-la-la) and olive oil for butter, since I was vaguely sure the citric acid might do something unpleasant to the dairy. Then I added an “I guess this looks good” amount of cocoa powder, because who doesn’t like chocolate, and half a cup of chopped almonds for texture. Poured that in muffin tins and popped them in the oven at 350 for what ended up being about 35-40 minutes.

Instead of frosting I made an orange glaze with 3/4 cup of orange juice, one cup of sugar… and a splash of water to get the rest of the stuck-on sugar off the inside of the measuring cup. Let that simmer for a while until it seemed less runny, which I loosely defined as “kinda leaves a residue on the spatula.”

When the cakes were done, I popped them out of the pans and into a foil-lined baking dish and dumped all the glaze over them so some would soak in on the bottoms and give it some extra moisture. (I didn’t use muffin papers, and actually forgot to even grease the pans. Lol, whoops! But they popped out fine.)

End result, they are delicious little cakes of goodness. The spice of the spice cake mix comes through stronger than the chocolate and the orange, but it’s all in there, and the almonds give it a nice texture. And that glaze? Good. Good glaze. I’m not sure if it was the gluten free or the not using milk, but the cakes would have been very dry and dense without the glaze, which is both sweet and tart at the same time. Would make again.


 

Cake Ingredients:

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Not the best picture ever, but they’ve all been eaten now.
  • 1 bag of Pamela’s gluten free Spice Cake Mix
  • 1 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 3-4 tbsp cocoa powder

Orange Glaze Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 1 cup sugar

Makes 10-12.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Combine all the cake ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
  3. Pour the batter into large muffin tins, each cup about 3/4 cups full.
  4. Bake according to cake mix instructions, or possibly longer until it’s done in the middle.
  5. When the cakes are done, set them out to let them cool.
  6. Combine all the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
  7. When it starts to bubble to the top of the pan, reduce the heat to a simmer and let it go for about 15 more minutes or so, stirring occasionally.
  8. Line a baking dish or shallow pan with tin foil.
  9. Pop the cakes out of the tin into the foil-lined dish and pour the glaze over the tops of them.
  10. Let soak at least until the glaze on top has cooled to more sticky than runny, then eat at your leisure.

A to Z Challenge #25 — (Greek) Yogurt

I was introduced to the miracle of Greek yogurt parfaits through, of all things, a marketing job at a flatbread bakery.

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“Greek yogurt with honey is spread on a lavash sheet, followed by an assortment of berries, banana pieces and granola and then rolled up tight and sliced into bite size pieces.” (x)

First of all, it tastes fantastic and is a pretty easy breakfast to throw together and then carry out the door. Second, sometimes my job involved making these and feeding them to people while explaining that it tastes amazing and you can make lots of similarly delicious things with the bread.

I have since branched out to the Greek Yogurt and honey parfaits at Starbucks, and making my own at home. (As far as I’m concerned, the best brand of Greek yogurt is Fage, hands down, no contest.)

When I don’t have fresh fruit, I substitute jam — not quite as fresh and tasty, but still good. I should start going to the local Farmers Market!

What are your favorite parfait ingredients?