Most of my ‘best’ dishes happen by accident. I love feeling like a mad scientist in the kitchen – creating, substituting, and usually not measuring or following any specific recipe. I call it ‘guerrilla baking’ in jest, but in truth it’s the most freeing way for me to cook. Tonight I made something in between pancakes and crepes, using applesauce instead of vegetable oil (blech) and Ghirardelli semi-sweet morsels.
My husband sent me a “Good News!” text, and once I heard what the good news, I decided to celebrate. Hence, cooking with chocolate. What makes a heart (or tummy) happier on a cold winter’s night than something buttery, gooey, and chocolatey? I certainly can’t think of anything.
So I put a pat of Plugra Unsalted butter (my favorite, hands-down) and got to work. These are the result. They are not as thin as crepes, not as fluffy as pancakes, just the right ‘in-between’ of sweet and savory, with melted chocolate in the middle. They may not be pretty, but my taste buds are not complaining. I don’t have a recipe, though if I did I might not share it, as I like to keep my Franken-Dishes to myself.*
These ARE vegetarian – they ARE NOT vegan but could easily be modified. (Which I may do for myself tomorrow!)
*Alright, boys and girls – after several requests I’m going to post a ‘rough’ version of the non-recipe:
1/2 C milk or non-dairy milk
1/2 C all purpose flour
dash of baking powder
pinch of salt
pinch of cinnamon
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp applesauce (or vegetable oil)
1 Tbsp butter or margarine (you really want to use butter here)
1 large egg
Any chocolate you like. Dark chocolate will give a more bitter taste, so if you want sweet go with milk or semi-sweet chocolate. You could also add vanilla (I was out).
Preheat a pan or skillet and drop a small ‘pat’ of butter. (Just a LITTLE bit is fine – this adds flavor and thins out the batter a little.) Mix wet ingredients in a bowl. (Egg, butter, applesauce). Whisk together, then add dry ingredients. Mix well (mixer not needed, just do it by hand.) Pour batter in pan as you like – I started small to ‘test’ then got bigger. Makes 4-6 PanCrepes.
It’s almost Valentine’s Day! Which, when I was in my 20s, I really thought was just a “Hallmark holiday”, even though I was in a committed relatinoship at the time. I felt, like many people do, that every day should be a day – “the” day – you tell your loved ones what you feel about them, what you appreciate about them. While I still sort-of feel that way, meaning I put no pressure on my husband to show up with jewelry or take me to dinner, I must say that having kids changed my thoughts a little.
My son has my heart. Every day, all the time. One of the most enjoyable parts of having a little one is the holidays, or special treats when we’re able to give them to him. Probably the BEST thing is all of the “firsts” you get to be present for, and that includes paintings, writing valentines, and so forth. As a mom, this Valentine’s Day is a day I’ve looked forward to with great anticipation. We have been secretly making gifts for Daddy using Pinterest ideas and some of our own creativity. Little Dude has drawn love notes for people in our family and tomorrow we get to distribute them. It’s the sweetest thing! And, something I have learned, is that small children know how to love better than ANY of us. They get it. They get it like we never will. I’m so proud of my sweet boy, and his love and sensitivity for others, and of course I want to encourage and foster that in him.
So… still not a romantic holiday in my book, but I’m totally on board with loving it up on Valentine’s Day.
The way I show my love is through food. I enjoy cooking – particularly baking – for my loved ones. I created my own recipe for tomorrow’s Valentine’s breakfast. What follows here is a happy accident.
Valentine’s Apple Pie Croissants Fluffy Tarts
Yeah, so, I had the brilliant idea to do something semi-homemade, like Sandra Lee. (Don’t you love her? I just love her.) One of my favorite, super easy, dessert or breakfast add-ons is skillet apples. Cut up an apple into chunks, cook in butter, add cinnamon and some sweetener, and VOILA! Basically pie filling you can eat with eggs or ice cream, whatever you like. So I thought I’d stuff some pre-made crescent rolls with the filling and my family would hail me as the loving genius that I am.
I’m not going to name names, but instead of getting the more expensive, name-brand crescents, I purchased the store brand. Twenty cents cheaper and “it’s the same thing”, I said to myself. Big no-no in cooking, in my opinion, is cheaping out. A lot of times those costly ingredients cost more for a reason. Yes, you can go generic sometimes but other times you’re paying less because the quality is less. This was one of those times.
I got home and assembled my ingredients:
Next, I heat a “pat” of butter – I just eyeball, it’s probably about a tablespoon – in the skillet:
Add the apples, sweetener, (sugar is best but I used Stevia this time), and as much cinnamon as you like. I like a lot. You know in movies, when Italian Mobsters say “Fuggedaboutit” (sp, obviously) ? Well, one of my favorites of all time is Donnie Brasco, I just so thoroughly enjoy Al Pacino’s Lefty Ruggiero character, it’s beyond explanation. His is the best accent, the best wardrobe, very best “fuggedaboutit” in the film. And friends, I have to tell you, if “fuggedaboutit” had a smell, it would smell like this. Moving on…
Everything’s going fine, I’m thinking I’m going to get this done in 15 minutes and have time to take a nap. Yay Super Mommy! And then, it happened. I peeled back the label on the crescent roll can, holding it as far away from me as possible becauseI am as jumpy as a chihuahua and I hate that “pop” sound. The label came right off, but no pop. I squeezed. Still no pop. Finally I got a large knife and tried to cut them open, but even that was a mess. After a few minutes of wrestling with it, I finally managed to pull the dough out. Unfortunately it was hot and not at all in any recognizable shape. Instead of croissants, I would have to make something else.
Light bulb! I pulled the dough apart and made six somewhat even balls. I sprayed my brand new muffin tin with Pam, and lined six muffin cups with the dough. Tarts! Pies? I don’t know, we’ll see. It’s better than wasting my fuggedaboutit apples, AmIRight?
I quickly – hurriedly, even – filled the dough ball wads with apple goodness and put them in to my preheated (350 degrees) oven for 10 minutes.
The outcome? Better than I could have hoped, all things considered. They are like quiche without egg, like tarts if tart makers allowed a “home-style crust” option. They taste wonderful, and I was still able to get that nap!
They’re buttery, crisp on the outside, soft in the middle and filled with warm apple cinnamon LOVE. Sweet and tangy and everything I want my Valentine’s breakfast to be. This is why cooking is so wonderful! It’s magical, a true adventure… and so are love and mommy-hood.
Perusing some new and some of my old favorite vegan blogs yesterday, I ran across an idea. Overnight oats. Never heard of them? Do a search on Pinterest. Oh, sometimes I loathe technology but in this instance I like it very much. There is a wealth of cooking and creative inspiration at my fingertips.
So, I kept seeing posts about overnight oats and I decided to try a variation of a pumpkin recipe. Since it’s Fall, and pumpkins are everywhere, and mostly because I had a can of pumpkin in the cupboard that I wasn’t quite sure what to do with.
Here’s what I used:
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 tbsp agave nectar
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tbsp chia seeds
sprinkle of Vega Sport vanilla protein powder (about 1/3 packet)
cinnamon, ginger, ground allspice – just dashes and splashes of each.
It smelled WONDERFUL. I put on a “Best of Beethoven” CD I purchased at a discount store years ago. I love Beethoven. Classical music in general, pairs extremely well with creative endeavors, in my opinion.
In theory, all these ingredients, once given a good stir, settle and mix and mingle and expand and absorb flavors overnight, and become something brilliant for breakfast. I had my doubts.
So this morning I woke up and made a bee-line to the fridge. I was hungry and curious and hopeful. I got a spoon and took a big bite. How was it? In a word, disappointing. Texturally it was satisfying. The chia seeds were new for me, and I love texture in my foods. That’s actually one of the perks of eating vegan/vegetarian. The variety of tastes and feels is sometimes overwhelming. (In a good way.)
I have two theories about why I didn’t like the oats. First I’ll say they did settle and absorb quite nicely. Again, texturally I have no complaints. I think I didn’t love them because 1) I don’t love pumpkin and 2) I am not a fan of cold things for breakfast. What’s that you say? “Well if you’re not a fan of pumpkin, what were you thinking making pumpkin oats?” Astute of you. I was actually hoping to form a relationship with pumpkin. I believe in it, as a healthy food. I know there’s a way to sneak it into some things, but this particular dish for me was a fail.
Positive notes: I think if I make the same dish with sweet potato, I will knock my own socks off. Particularly if I am able to heat it up. OR I was also thinking of adding banana. Creativity begets creativity. Can’t be bummed about that. I did also eat this, even though I wasn’t into it, because it’s packed with nutrients and I do not waste food. Never. Waste. Food. It’s a thing with me.
So much of cooking and creating is trial and error. I’m honestly feeling that this was a positive experience. Would I recommend this recipe? Not unless you are a pumpkin fiend and really like the flavor. Otherwise, I’d say add something that will mix well or even overpower the pumpkin flavor. It was just too much for me.
First, an explanation: I have made a concerted effort in recent months to decrease my intake of processed foods and grains. I do still eat carbs, but only from whole foods as much as I can help it. I don’t endorse or advocate any specific diet or lifestyle for ALL people, but higher fat, moderate protein, low-ish carb works wonders for me. My tummy is happy, my skin is happy, and I am sleeping like an old man at the opera. It’s wonderful!
This pancake recipe is something I came up with on the fly, in an effort to reproduce my “old” favorite breakfast without the oats. Not so difficult, actually. If you’re familiar with the Paleo way of eating or the Primal Blueprint, you know there are lots of flour substitutes out there. One of the easiest to buy or make at home is almond flour. I SORT-OF used almond flour. [You’ll see.] Again, the mood to try this hit me when I didn’t have a way to get to the store, but I find necessity and creativity make for some pretty cool dishes.
Here’s what I used:
Raw Almonds – about 1/4 cup, maybe a little more. I just emptied out my Blue Diamond bag and crossed my fingers it would be enough.
Roasted, Salted Almonds – 7 or 8. Just to mix it up a little.
2 Raw Egg Whites
Cinnamon, as much as I want. [And I want a lot.]
Dash of Vanilla Extract
Unsweetened Coconut Flakes [Coconut is a staple in the PB, and it just so happens my mom left some here last time she visited.]
Here’s where I came off the rails, Paleo/Primal wise: I added about 3/4 Scoop of Body Fortress Vanilla Whey protein, and one packet of Splenda. Go ahead, judge me.
First, I put all the almonds into my food processor, pulsed on low a couple of times, then high, then low… I’m kidding. I just let it go until the almonds were chopped, but not powdered. I wanted the texture to be stout, since it is oatmeal that I’m replacing, which is hearty and quite satisfying. I measured out 1/4 cup of the almond meal, and added all the dry ingredients. [If you have leftover almond meal, just dump tupperware container. It’s great with everything – waffles, pancakes, even in grilled chicken wraps at lunch. But that’s an entire post by itself…]
I gave the dry stuff a stir, and put it back into the processor. Next, crack those eggs and put both whites in a small bowl or container. Add just a pinch of vanilla and stir. Add to the processor with the rest. By now, the kitchen should be smelling wonderful. Both of my kids started wandering in and out, curious about what was cooking.
Personally, like I said earlier, I enjoy texture. So I didn’t mix this much, but if you want a smoother mix just blend to suit you. Your skillet should be warming on the stove top, with butter or oil or nonstick spray [I don’t judge]. Grab a spoon and start cooking these babies! Here’s my first one:
At this moment I am kicking myself for making these at night, because along with the delicious smells and the sense of accomplishment comes the agony of knowing I must wait all night to devour them.
The finished product? Oh, I’m so glad you asked! Fluffy and golden brown and beautiful. And the taste? Even better than I’d hoped! The coconut and mealy texture of the almonds hits the taste buds “just so”. Definitely a keeper. I cannot WAIT to eat these tomorrow, with fresh berries on top and maybe just a hint of butter and syrup. Thanks for reading! If you try this recipe for yourself, please let me know what you think!