Power Mocha Smoothie

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I used to be a banana hater.

I distinctly remember trips to Jamba Juice gone wrong because there was a banana in my smoothie. Even the slightest detection of the fruit would set me off; it was so stringy and sticky, and smelly, ick.

However, my banana aversion gradually withered away with time, thanks to quite a few loaves of banana bread and my introduction to banana chips. To this day, I’m pretty tolerable. It’s a great fruit, after all, loaded with potassium, super portable, good for muscle cramps, and versatile, too!

Speaking of how useful it is, it’s a truly amazing component in smoothies. It really binds the whole thing together, acts as a natural sweetener and thickener. It pairs well with a myriad of fruits and flavors, and I’ve learned one of my favorite combos with bananas is chocolate!

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So why not put them together in a smoothie? Bananas are great quick sources of energy because they are easily digestible, and paired with a few spoonfuls of cocoa powder, and maybe some coffee beans to really accent that dark, rich flavor, they are truly stars. Smooth and creamy, streaked with little flecks of beautiful coffee beans, this makes a great afternoon snack or morning pick-me-up. And hey, this smoothie is easily vegan, gluten, and refined sugar free! Yay bananas!

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Power Mocha Smoothie

  • 1 medium banana, peeled
  • 1/2 cup soymilk, almond milk, flax milk, or regular milk
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes
  • 1/4 cup whole coffee beans (if blender is not powerful, use ground coffee or sub 1 tsp instant coffee)
  • 1 tsp dutch cocoa powder (regular is ok, too)

Put all the ingredients in a blender and mix, gradually increasing speed, until coffee beans are ground into small specks. Pour into a tall glass and serve. You might need a spoon because of how creamy this is!

Pumpkin Bars

ImageThese bars are definitely not a dessert (unless you cover them in ice cream, maybe), but they have a subtle sweetness that can satisfy a mid-afternoon or mid-morning sweet tooth.

The addition of spices and fresh cubed pumpkin also help to moisten the baked good, and the whole wheat flour gives them a hearty texture.

Pumpkin Bars 

Inspired by Chocolate Covered Katie

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (can sub white flour)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp each: nutmeg, cloves, allspice (can sub pumpkin pie spice)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup pumpkin, canned
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk (can use soymilk, 1%, almond, etc.)
  • 1 cup cooked, cubed pumpkin (optional, can also use cranberries or sliced apples)

Preheat the oven 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients with a fork. Add the pumpkin, egg, brown sugar, vanilla, and milk to the dry ingredients. Whisk to combine, until into a smooth, thick batter (think waffle-batter consistency).

Spray a 8×10 glass baking dish with nonstick spray, or rub with butter. Pour the batter into the dish, and smooth until even with the back of a spoon or spatula. Top with cubed pumpkin or cranberries, press down gently with the spatula.

Bake for 30 minutes, depending on the size of the dish.

Wait about 15 minutes before slicing. Enjoy! Image

Traditional Cranberry Biscotti

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Hi all! Today I have for you a quick recipe for traditional Italian BiscottiBiscotti, if you’re not familiar with them, are twice-baked cookies originating in the Italian city of Prato (it’s near Florence). The cookies are often oblong shaped, and contain almonds, dried fruit, and some sort of citrus zest. They are made dry and crunchy by cutting the log of baked dough into slices and baking it again at a lower temperature. Traditionally, biscotti is served alongside coffee or tea, and by nature is not supposed to be too sweet, as to avoid offsetting its accompanying beverage. Today, however, bakeries are tending to shift towards a more buttery, rich, and sweet biscotti (often covered in chocolate) that is more dessert-like.

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The recipe I have for you today is a more traditional biscotti – only relying on the sweetness from dried fruit, and the perfect level of crunchy-crumbliness from the richness of whole eggs. There is no butter or oil in the recipe, making the cookie perfect to satisfy your sweet-tooth in the morning, midday, or even after dinner when preparing for the richness that comes with the holidays. Also, this recipe is easily adaptable! If you would like the cookie to be richer, add in up to 1 cup of sugar, or even dip them in chocolate when they’re done. You can also add nuts, and chocolate chips, or experiment with different extracts. I’ve made this recipe 3 times, and each time I differ the filling. Have fun with it!

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Traditional Cranberry Biscotti

This biscotti is lighter and simpler than its bakery-counterparts, relying on a traditional Italian method. Serve it as a light sweet snack alongside a warm beverage.

Ingredients

3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or almond, coffee, raspberry, etc.)
zest of 1 whole orange (OPTIONAL)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried cranberries (or any mixture, such as raisins, apricots, almonds, chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a small bowl, mix the eggs, and extract. In a larger bowl, mix the remaining ingredients except the nuts. Stir the wet mixture into the dry, using a spoon first and then using your hands. The dough will be VERY sticky and tacky. Stir in the dried fruit.

Flouring your hands and working surface, roll half of the dough into a 12-inch flat log. Place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment, sprayed foil, or a silicone mat. Repeat with the remaining dough. You can put both logs on the same sheet.

Bake in the center position of the oven for about 50 minutes, until golden brown. Take the logs off the sheet and onto a cooling rack, let cool for about 5 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 275 degrees.

Use a serrated knife to slice the logs into 1/2-inch thick slices. Return the slices to the baking sheet and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown and almost crisp. Transfer to cooling racks and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 4 dozen biscotti

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Buckwheat Pancakes

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These buckwheat pancakes are perfect for a chilly morning doused in your favorite maple syrup, or spread with a  bit of jam. The buckwheat flour lends a pleasantly nutty flavor, and an extra step in the pancake-making process ensures optimum softness. In addition, buckwheat is a wonderful flour to use because it is gluten free (!), is low glycemic index (it will not spike your blood sugar), and is lower calorie than whole wheat flour! So celebrate this great grain and go out and buy a bag of buckwheat flour, if you don’t have one already.  If you want to learn more about buckwheat, hop on over to this blog, Buckwheat for your Health, full of recipes and buckwheat facts. Enjoy!

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Basic Buckwheat Pancakes 

(adapted from this recipe at simplyrecipes.com)

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 14 to 15 4-inch pancakes, serves 4-5.
  • Vegetable oil for coating the pan
  • 3/4 cup (100g or 3.5 oz) buckwheat flour
  • 3/4 cup (100g or 3.5 oz) whole wheat pastry flour (can sub with buckwheat flour for a 100% buckwheat pancake if you wish, or another gluten free flour)
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 Tbsp plain greek yogurt (nonfat ok)
  • 1 egg (optional)
  • 2 cups milk (I used vanilla soymilk an omitted the honey)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

1 Whisk together the dry ingredients—the flours, sugar, salt, baking soda—in a large bowl. Whisk the egg, yogurt, and milk in a seperate bowl, then slowly add in to the rest of the dry ingredients. Stir only until everything is combined. Do not overmix. A few lumps are fine.

2 Let the batter rest for about 15 minutes. This step is crucial! It will thicken the batter and make for a fluffier pancake. Heat a well-seasoned griddle, cast iron skillet, or stick-free pan on medium heat while the batter rests.

3 Put a few drops of vegetable oil on the pan or griddle and spread it around with a paper towel to coat, or use a baking spray. Ladle the batter onto the hot surface to the desired size, about 4-5 inches wide. (A 1/4 cup measure will ladle about a 4-inch pancake.) Allow the pancake to cook for 2-3 minutes on this first side. Watch for bubbles on the surface of the pancake. When air bubbles start to rise to the surface at the center of the pancake, flip the pancake. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until nicely browned.

4 Keep your pancakes warm on a rack in the oven set on “warm,” or stack them on a plate and cover with a towel as you make more. Spread more oil on the pan as needed between batches of pancakes.

Serve with  maple syrup, fruit jam, cheese, or whatever your heart desires. I’ve found that they are particularly delicious spread with a bit of this honey chevre from trader joe’s:


Happy Breakfasts!

A Dutch Bread Recipe – Ontbijtkoek

This weekend ended up being a lazy one – Saturday night and I had nothing to do (or nothing I wanted to) so I decided to take on some ambitious Sunday breakfast prep. I was looking for a recipe to use up the rest of my rye flour, and I stumbled upon this delicious looking Dutch recipe, Ontbijtkoek. Typically eaten at breakfast, it’s a fairly heavily spiced, lightly sweetened quick bread that means “breakfast cake”. It’s natural accompaniment is a nice slather of butter, as the bread is fat free.

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The recipe is from The Dutch Table, which is a great blog all about Dutch cuisine! You should check it out if you love speculoos/cookie butter or are curious about cooking from other countries.

Ontbijtkoek (Breakfast cake/bread)

1 cup Rye flour

1 cup All purpose flour

3 tsp baking powder

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cardamom

1/2 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 cup dark brown sugar (I used medium)

1/2 cup dark molasses (I used blackstrap)

1/2 cup honey

1 cup milk

1/4 tsp salt

 

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients, then add the wet into a smooth batter. Pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake for about 60 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and slice once cooled (I waited until the next morning). Serve warm or toasted with a pat of butter. I enjoyed it plain, too.

 

Keep in mind this bread will make your house smell AMAZING, so it’s great for fall!

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On Rye flour: Yes, this is a necessary for this bread, it gives a nice wholesome, nutty flavor. I had an old bag lying around with just enough. Actually, I hate working with rye flour, but this recipe made me reconsider. I’ve tried adding it to yeasted breads, but they always become hard as rock if I use any at all. With this recipe, leavened with baking powder rather than the more finicky yeast, I felt the bread was not rock-like at all, and is pleasingly dense. 20131112-133344.jpg

Sweet potaters

Sweet potatoes? Yams? So much confusion! I feel like no grocery store will ever have a straight answer to the “is it sweet potato vs is it yam” debate. It turns out sweet potatoes are indeed what you are buying as a yam. That is, unless you think sweet potatoes are starchy tuberous things. Yeah, didn’t think so.

So what do I mean? According to About.com, sweet potatoes are yellow, orange, red, or even purple skinned and fleshed. They are sort of potato shaped, and taste sweet. Yellow ones are creamier, orange ones are softer, purple ones are very sweet – you get the idea, they all very. The important thing, though, is that they look like this: 

(via farm fresh produce)

On the other hand, yams are starchy and tuberous. They’re not really popular in the USA, but rather in the carribean, africa, and central america. Here’s a yam, for drastic comparison:

Yeah, never seen that before.

So,  now that we’ve got that clear, onto a quick and easy method to cook SWEET POTATOES without worrying! This is an extremely simple method that leaves the sweet potatoes by themselves, so you can enjoy their creaminess in nature form! No sugar, no salt, no pepper, nope. Just delicious sweet potatoes. All you need is your oven or grill on above 300 degrees, some foil, and sweet potatoes, of course.

Here’s the process in pictures, first.

washed & clean wrapped up! looks a bit like a flying saucer, haha on the grill under some zucchini fully roasted! look at the wrinkly, caramelized skin and creamy, sweet interior. Yum! The perfect workout snack/breakfast/side dish/dessert/whatever!

Simple Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Ingredients:

Sweet Potatoes (any kind you want, keep in mind this will determine the cooking time)

 

Directions:

1. Wash the sweet potatoes really good, because you’re going to leave the skin on. YES, you can eat the skin, it’s very nutritious, full of fiber and vitamin A! I love the skin, actually, it’s fun to peel off and eat 🙂 You don’t need to cut them either, unless you want them to cook faster.

2. Wrap the sweet potatoes tightly in Aluminum foil. No tears or gaps!

3. Place the sweet potatoes in the oven/on your grill. You can throw these in any time you have the oven on, regardless of what else is in there!

4. Check the potatoes every 20 minutes for done-ness. If they are soft enough to be pierced easily with a fork, they’re typically done! I like to leave mine in a bit extra so they get caramelized on one side on the skin 🙂

5. Take the packet out of the grill/oven, careful to avoid steam burns.

6. Cut it open and fill it with chili, coconut flakes, peanuts, peanut butter, I don’t know, people have weird sweet potato pairings. Or, just enjoy it plain! Bon Appetit!

 

 

Fusing cultures with LA-style Sweet Rice Cakes!

Yes, I know, it seems like I’ve forgotten all about this blog. But don’t worry! I just have a lot of college-related things to do, but I’ll try to post at least once a week.

Anyway, onto the recipe. This is a recipe from Koreans who began to move to LA, but missed the sweet korean rice cakes they had back home. Instead of recreating them, they tweaked the recipe so that the rice cakes are baked (!) rather than steamed. The result is a wonderfully delicious bar that has the interior of a mochi (if you don’t know what mochi is, it’s a chewy, soft sweet made of pounded sticky rice) yet a slightly crunchy, golden brown exterior akin to a quickbread crust. The fillings are completely up to you!

Action shots of mine –

Ready to stir; I recommend azuki beans and sesame seeds!

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I love this recipe because it’s so simple! My favorite filling is azuki/red beans to go with the asian theme, it may sound weird to put beans in a dessert but you just have to try it. Also sesame seeds (of both colors) add a nice toasty flavor.

From Beyond Kimchee

LA Style Sweet Rice Cake Bars

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: about 20 bars

LA Style Sweet Rice Cake Bars

Ingredients

3 cup glutinous rice flour (DO NOT SUB RICE FLOUR, you can find this at an asian/specialty grocery)
1-1/2 to 2 cups brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cup milk (Soy, lowfat, skim, whole, I bet even almond would work)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 cups fillings (nuts, raisins, pistachios, COOKED azuki beans, chocolate chips, sesame seeds, etc… possibilities are endless)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF
  2. In a large bowl whisk together rice flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pour milk and vanilla and stir to mix well.
  3. Add the fillings. Mix well.
  4. Pour the batter over well greased 9×13 inch pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the top gets brown and crisp.
  5. Cool completely and cut into bars. Wrap leftover bars with plastic wrap and store in the fridge.Happy munching!