Search My Blog!!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lentil Walnut Burgers

For the entire duration of this blog's existence, I have b'd and m'd (keeping it PG) about Ron's lack of variety when it comes to his daily diet. I've complained about his inability to try new things and his reluctance to venture into the world of fruits and vegetables. I've described how I puree certain foods to sneak them in a dish... But, somewhere along the line, I failed to mention the benefits of Ron's picky eating. For instance, I can leave bananas lying around knowing that they will stay there. I can go into the fridge for that last batch of strawberries and expect to see them ready to be eaten. Even better, I can drive home knowing that the trail mix (Ron hates raisins) granola bar that I have been craving for the past 5 hours is still in the cabinet. I'm always reminded of how lucky I am when I visit my parent's house in Pennsylvania. Everyone has that thing that they inevitably do without realizing they do it; I am notorious for calling in the last 5 minutes of a show/movie or during dinner. My dad is kind of like the craving killer. If it's there - and you are craving it - dad will find it. And he will surely finish it at the same time you are thinking "Man, I really want (insert craving of choice) right now." There have been times when I have purposely called on the car ride home to request that (insert craving of choice) is not eaten. This phone call always ends the same way "Oh no, it was just eaten..." My poor mom has been dealing with this for over 30 years! Can you imagine how many of her cravings have been killed because dad got to the last bite before she did?

Anyway, I've been fortunate. Very fortunate on this aspect. Except when it comes to my vegetarian burgers. Obviously, Ron will never be converted to a vegetarian but he actually likes my vegetarian food. So much, in fact, that he eats all of the leftovers! Gone are the days where 6 patties will last 3 days of meals. Nope! I only got 2 meals worth out of this recipe. But it's totally okay because they were delicious and I am already whipping up another batch as I type this post!
This recipe is fairly unique in that it uses lentils, as opposed to beans, for the protein. I'm always up for trying different types of legumes so I was happy to mash these into a burger patty. The ingredients tasted so well together and the end result is so healthy that I was happily impressed by the taste! The "batter" is amazing and I had a hard time keeping my spoon out of the food processor. Who needs "real" burgers when you can have these? The recipe is very filling and pretty easy to whip up. My only complaint was the fact that the burgers really don't photograph well. If you make them, don't be thrown off by the look of the patties. I spoiled myself and ate one of my burgers on an Eltana wood-fired everything bagel with some eggplant pomegranate spread. (It. Was. To. Die. For.) But since you don't have an Eltana near you, try your patty on a regular bun or bagel thin and make sure to incorporate some spread onto it; any kind of hummus or baba ganoush will take this burger over the top. I'll be trying this hummus the next time I eat one.

Lentil Walnut Burgers
from Oh She Glows who adapted from Martha's Great Food Fast cookbook
  • 3/4 cup lentils, picked over and rinsed
    • Tip: purchase these in the bulk section of your grocery store to save money.
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs (or one piece of bread, toasted)
  • 1-2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 egg
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place the lentils in a small saucepan, cover with 1-inch of water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until lentils are tender but still hold their shape, 15-20 minutes. Drain well and let cool.
  3. Meanwhile, spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10 minutes, or until fragrant and slightly darkened. Let cool.
  4. In a food processor, combine toasted walnuts, breadcrumbs (or bread), garlic, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Process until finely ground. Add the lentils and 1 Tbsp of oil and pulse until coarsely chopped (some whole lentils should remain).
  5. In a large bowl, whisk the egg. Add the lentil-walnut mixture, mix well. Divide mixture into patties.
  6. Lay patties on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake for 20-22 minutes on each side for a total of 40-45 minutes of baking time. (Alternatively, you could pan fry these: add 3 Tbsp oil to a large nonstick skillet. Cook burgers over medium-low heat until crisp and browned, turning gently with a thin-edged spatula, 8-10 minutes per side.)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Homemade Oreos

I'm still here. But I've been away from my computer. We've had beautiful, gorgeous weather here in Seattle. I think I understand now why people live here! It might suck in the winter but my goodness, I've really begun to appreciate the scenery. It's mesmerizing. And because so many people have told me about the dreary, cloudy, sludgy winters, I think that subconsciously I've been forcing myself to spend every waking second outside to bask in as much sunshine as possible. I obviously don't know what to expect in winter. But I'm bracing for the absolute worst nightmare possible. But I must admit that I'm quite exhausted from all of this outdoorsy'ness. Morning coffee walks. Mid-morning jogs. Lunchtime hikes. Mid-afternoon kayaking. Late afternoon running or cycling. Pre-dinner rollerblading. After dinner strolls to watch the sunset. I'm friggin' tired! But I love this sunshine so I'm just going to live outside until it hibernates and my seasonal affective disorder hightails to full swing.

Fortunately, running seems to cure my S.A.D. pretty quickly. It was hard to overcome in the MN winters because we'd go months without seeing grass! Sure, the crisp air, blue skies and gleaming sunshine were amazing, but the cold and bitter temperatures often kept me indoors on the treadmill. I did enjoy a nice run in the freshly fallen snow but I would have such a difficult time regulating my body temperature in negative degree weather! I don't think I'll miss the days where I waited until the temperature hit at least zero degrees before heading out. I'm very much looking forward to Seattle winter weather for running. I've been running a lot lately. It's amazing how much I've missed it. I've reacquainted with my love of the sport. The weather is ideal for running year-round and it's where I thrive. So perhaps I'll set up personal records!

My last semester of law school is about to begin and I just don't know what to think about this. It's been an extraordinary three years on so many levels. It's somewhat anti-climatic that my last semester of law school is going to be spent alone, all independent work, all managed by me. But so have it. We're just rollin' with the punches over here. To celebrate, I decided to try my hand at making a classic at home.
I've been wanting to make some oreos for a while. These were so yummy. Mine turned out a little bit bigger than they should have been (clearly my small cookie scoop is actually quite bigger than a teaspoon) but they were just delish! We enjoyed these, dunked in milk, for a few days. And they do taste very, very similar (especially the cream) compared to the store-bought kind. But the added perk is that the ingredients below are much more satisfying to read than the ingredients in an actual oreo.

Homemade Oreos
from Sunny Side up in San Diego
For the Chocolate Wafers
  • 1 1/4 cups AP flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 - 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp (1 1/4 sticks) room-temperature, unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
For the Filling
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and powder, salt and sugar. While the mixer is running, on low-speed, add the butter and then the egg. Continue mixing until dough comes together.
  3. Drop rounded teaspoons of dough two inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.
  4. To make the filling: beat together the butter and shortening in a medium bowl. Then, starting at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2-3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip.
  5. To assemble: match the cookies up by size and lay one cookie bottom size up. For "regular stuffed" oreos, swirl ~1 tsp of filling on to each cookie. For "double stuffed" oreos, swirl ~2-3 tsp of filling on to each cookie. Place the matching cookie on top and gently press into a sandwich.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Chubby Hubby Faux Ice Cream

I've put on a lot of miles since we've arrived in Seattle. For one, it's easier just to walk, run, or bike wherever you need to be. Less pollution, less stress, less money, less idiots... see, lots of benefits! Plus, I'm sure you've heard about Seattle traffic. Especially where we live, traffic is a bear. There's really only one main bridge that crosses over the Bay to our neighborhood. Shortly after we moved here, Ron was on his way home from work. He called around 2:30 to say there was a jam and they weren't moving over the bridge. (*You should know, we had plans to see the Harry Potter screening that night. This emphasized the horrific situation.) Flash forward to 5:00. I had finally hopped on a bus and was crossing over the West Seattle bridge to get into town during rush hour. I saw what had caused the jam: a semi had lost its back wheels (this apparently is not uncommon!) and blocked the entire entrance onto the bridge so no one was able to cross from I-5 for 4 hours. If you know anything about the highway system in Seattle, you will know that this was bad, bad news.
So I like my two legs and two wheels for many reasons. But, walking can be problematic because Seattle is a confusing city to navigate. At least I think so. I'm used to Chicago. And Minneapolis. Both intelligently designed cities that are laid out like a grid. Like a city should be laid out. So, if you are on one of the main streets heading south, you know that at some point you will intersect with the main street heading east/west. And you will be lost no more. Nope. Not here. Streets just end. At least in the neighborhoods they do.  And you have nowhere else to go! So, if you walked 1 mile down the street. Then you're walking 1 mile back to get to where you started. And apparently 'Dead End' signs do not exist around these parts.

There's been quite a few afternoon strolls that have turned into inadvertent treks. Like, the 3 mile walk that turned into 9.7. And the day that I accidently logged 18.3 miles total without realizing it until I tried to get out of bed the next day. And of course, yesterday. When I tried to go for a quick walk up to the running store to pick up my new running shoes. And naturally, got lost. 1.5 miles turned into 7.8, 4 of which were at an 8% grade (I know, I mapped it out!). So much for a rest day. I can't feel my butt.

So what does this "ice cream" have to do with this all? Nothing. Except the fact that I ate a lot of it as soon as I came home from yesterday's debacle. To me, frozen bananas are a perfectly fine substitute for ice cream. And because my waistline can't afford to eat real ice cream as much as I'd prefer, this is a wonderfully easy treat to enjoy after an adventurous day. Plus, you get the added bonus of getting rid of some bananas that are quickly running past their prime. You can add any mix-ins that you'd like - strawberries taste amazing! - but I prefer the sweet and salty flavors from this chubby hubby version.

*Fortunately, all was resolved shortly after and Ron somehow made his way into town in time for the Harry Potter screening.
Chubby Hubby Faux Ice Cream
adapted from Pennies on a Platter
  • 3 peeled and chopped, then frozen, bananas
  • 1/4 cup roasted almonds, chopped
  • 1/4 cup crushed pretzels
  • handful of chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbsp of peanut butter
  1. Puree the bananas in a food processor or blender until smooth.
  2. Add the almonds, pretzels, and chocolate chips and pulse until mixed in.
  3. Stir in the peanut butter.
  4. Eat now! Or place in a container and freeze for later consumption.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

All-Berry Jam

We've been here for a few Sundays now and each Sunday morning is the same. We wake up, grab some coffee, and walk to the farmer's market. I love farmer's markets. I started shopping at them back in Pittsburgh but really became a fan when we moved to Minnesota. We used to bike to our favorite market at Mill City but now our farmer's market is within walking distance!
The farmer's market is about 1.5 miles away and the trek is straight uphill for the way up. But it's always a reward to walk back down because we have a bag stuffed full of berries and fresh produce! I mentioned my obsession with cherries the other day. What I failed to mention was that I am also obsessed with all of the fresh produce at the market. Our fridge is stuffed with raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, peaches, snap peas, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, beets, onions, etc. On a positive note, a lot of my vegetable and fruit shopping is done at the farmer's market. And have you ever eaten into a berry freshly picked from a patch? Oh. my. Word. You'll never buy berries or fruit from the market again! 

I'm really loving the farmer's market here in West Seattle. But I'm excited to try others. Each neighborhood has its own, unique market with varying farmers and local goods. They are year-round which is even better! Sure, there's Pike's Place right across the Bay. But Pike's Place is like the Mall of America. Who needs all of the tourist hype and crowds when you can go to a perfectly fine, less crowded market right up the road? We've done a good job of supporting local farmers with a variety of foods. Salmon was purchased the other day (delish!) and Ron started buying grass-fed beef, jerky and potatoes from a Seattle farmer who is a Minnesota native!!
Growing up, my family lived in Allentown, PA for several years. We had the most amazing orchard in the backyard! I don't remember much from my younger days but I definitely remember falling into the raspberry bushes and coming out covered in scrapes! We had an abundance of amazing apple trees, peaches, and raspberry bushes. And each summer, my mom would spend hours in the kitchen canning and preserving the goods so we could eat them year-round. I haven't ventured into preserving yet - I plan to do so at the end of the season - but I've been having a lot of fun with the berries I've been gathering at the market, even planning a u-pick session one of these days!

Jams are so simple. And considering my breakfast and daily snack consists of some type of bread with jam, I always have an abundance around the house. I've made jam with pectin before. But I'm not a fan of the artificial taste it leaves. So I decided to try my hand at some jam that leaves out the packaged pectin. This one is super, super, SUPER easy and it is just absolutely divine.

All-Berry Jam
Yield: 1 jar
  • 1 1/2 cups pitted cherries, washed
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries, washed
  • 1 cup raspberries, washed
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  1. Place cherries, berries, and lemon juice in a food processor or blender. Pulse the ingredients to puree until smooth.
  2. Pour into a sauce pan over high heat and bring to a boil.
  3. Once boiling, stir in the sugar and bring to a boil again.
  4. Cook over heat for about 25 minutes, stirring often, until jam begins to thicken. 
  5. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Pour into a jar and store in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Chocolate Chip Muffins

When I was younger, I swam competitively for the district swim team and then later for the high school team. I attribute swimming to my direct path towards type-a mania in my later years. Swimming required a lot of commitment and dedication. My daily life became a structured routine full of prioritizing: 4:00 a.m. wake up. 5:00 morning practice. 7:00 shower. 7:20 homeroom. 7:20 - 3:10 school. 3:30 practice. 6:00 lifting or running. 7:30 dinner. 8:00 - 10:00 homework. 10:00 bed. 4:00 a.m. wake up, etc. Each day. Everything was on a regime.
Thanks to swimming, I became a creature of habit. And thanks to law school, it's even more evident that I am a creature of routine in my every day functioning. Ron takes issue with it because I tend to get cranky when my routine is messed up. But this is where his laxidazical style and my high-strungtivity clash. I'm adventurous - to an extent - but I stick to the same thing pretty much every day. My study habits. My eating habits. My exercise habits. If I don't get out for my workout by a certain time, it's pretty much a crapshoot after that. My family members and close friends have pointed out than my eating schedule is so strict and rigid that if the time is overshot, my mood plummets and it is a noticeable 180 from happy to royally pissed off in a few short seconds. Ouch. This isn't a good thing but I really can't help it. I was young when I picked up on these patterns of such inflexibility and it's terribly difficult to break a longstanding habit. With swimming, I became obsessed with the same morning rituals and before the meet strategies for success. Perhaps there should have been an intervention at this time, but alas, hindsight is 20/20. O.C.D. is cute when you are 9 years old.

Mini Muffins. Mini muffins were my number one routine. You know those highly processed, fat fueled tiny little bags of muffins you get at the local gas station? Yep, that was my ritual. Morning breakfast was picked up at the Sheetz gas station nearly every Saturday and Sunday morning while en route to the swim meet. They had to be from the individual serving bag; I swore the family pack muffins tasted different. And there were 5 muffins in the white little plastic bag. I even had this cheeky conversation with my mom about the muffins. "Mom, do you want a muffin?" Mom didn't dare answer yes because she knew I needed all five. "No, but thank you." Then I'd eat them all. And mom would say "Ah man, I really wanted that last muffin" leading me to feel terrible about my decision to not give my last muffin to my mom. (Hmm, my "I want to please everyone" approach developed around this time as well.)

And the mini-muffins were always, always, ALWAYS chocolate chip mini-muffins. If I walked into Sheetz and saw only blueberry or banana-nut, my heart would sink. My stomach would drop. My throat would swell up. What the heck was I going to do with those flavors? But I'd suck it up and eat them. Something about them being the same brand or some mind-twisting b.s. like that. And then if I swam poorly, well damn those friggin' blueberry muffins and Sheetz was to blame for not appropriately stocking their shelves!!!!
Obviously, life is not structured to this extent anymore. My O.C.D. habits have dwindled enough to allow me to buy another product if my staple is not in stock. And thankfully my feelings about the food I put into my body have matured as well. (I don't buy meals from the same place I buy my gasoline.) And even more exciting is the fact that I can actually bake my own chocolate chip muffins! The entire time I was making these delicious treats, I had delightful (mostly delightful) memories of my chlorinated past. And if mom was in the house at the time, I certainly would of asked her if she wanted the last muffin.
Chocolate Chip Muffins
from Two Peas and Their Pod
Yield: 12 muffins
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beatened
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Set pan aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugars, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In medium bowl, stir together melted butter, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla extract until well blended. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour the liquid mixture into the well and gently stir until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake for 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove muffins from the oven and allow to cool before serving.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Peanut Crusted Chicken

It's no secret that my relationship with chicken, and meat in general, has been suffering. We're pretty much on the outs. I'll save the specifics about why but I've basically removed meat from my diet. If I have it, I have it once every two weeks. I don't think I'll ever go completely vegetarian - I am about to marry a carnivore - but Ron handles the meat when he wants it.
But I did eat this meal. Because it was good. Very good. I asked Ron what he wanted for dinner and he responded with "some kind of pretzel peanut chicken thing." Um, ok. A favorite blog of mine posted this Martha Stewart recipe and it looked easy enough. And because my pantry is often a peanut factory, I knew I wouldn't have to run to the store for any ingredients. So, I made it and I'm happy I did. It's not your usual, boring chicken meal but it's unique, healthy and full of taste. I did have to add a bit of tang but that's just because I'm a spice nut! Ron went back for seconds, enjoyed the leftovers, and I found out the oven works fantastical! Overall, a successful meal.

Peanut Crusted Chicken
from Martha's Stewart Everyday Food Cookbook, as seen on Greens-n-Chocolate
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped peanuts
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6-8 ounces each)
  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Mix together peanuts and breadcrumbs in a shallow dish, and add in olive oil, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Whisk to combine.
  3. In separate bowl, whisk together eggs and season generously with salt and pepper. Drench each chicken breast in egg mixture, then transfer to peanut mixture, one at a time. Cover each chicken breast in peanut mixture, pressing it to stick.
  4. Place onto prepared baking sheet. Bake until lightly browned and cooked through, about 15 minutes.