Archive for February, 2012|Monthly archive page

“Skinny” PB&J Pancakes

In American, Brunch, Fruit, Nuts, Oats on February 13, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Peanut butter and jelly.  A humble pair, yet pleasantly powerful.  We’ve all had it in our lunch box rotation (unless you have a peanut allergy).  Especially, if like me, you grew up vegetarian.  It was either PB, PB&J, or provolone cheese with lettuce and mustard.  Even as an adult I can appreciate a PB or AB and J sandwich.  It’s a quick sammie that can last in your purse for many hours without refrigeration.  The only other PB companion that blows J out of the water is chocolate.  Nothing beats chocolate and PB.  NOTHING.

Anyway, with all of our differences, my husband and I can both agree on our favorite jelly – Strawberry.  Most people prefer grape, but to me it reminds me of children’s tylenol and all the horrific tastes and feelings associated with being sick as a child.  Thus, strawberry is my go-to.  I also love blueberry, apricot, peach, you name it.  Just no grape.

A couple of years ago, I had been watching Food Network and came across Sunny Anderson’s Cooking for Real show.  This particular episode featured a recipe for PB&J pancakes.  Of course I made it that weekend and it was delicious.  Back then, I wasn’t as educated about swapping ingredients, especially in baking.  And yes, I consider pancakes baking because cake is the root of the word.  There is also baking powder.  Enough said.  This past weekend, I decided to treat my hubby to these pancakes, only I would be making some substitutions.

I don’t normally type out the recipes in my posts, but since I substituted most of the ingredients, I will spec everything out.

Skinny PB&J Pancakes Adapted from Sunny Anderson

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon agave nectar
2 egg whites
6 oz nonfat plain Greek yogurt
3/4 cup skim milk
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (I used Brad’s)
Cooking Spray

Strawberry Syrup

1 10 oz bag frozen strawberries (or 2 cups fresh)
3 tablespoons agave nectar
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp Orange zest

The first thing I did was to mix up the peanut butter.  I keep it at room temperature, and since it’s natural there is settlement and separation of the paste and the oils.  I nuked it for 30 seconds while I prepared the dry ingredients.

I used my Vitamix for this recipe.  I thought it would work wonderfully in grinding and combining flours, as well as easily mixing the wet and dry.  However, next time I think I will use a hand mixer because the batter was really thick and I had to spoon it out instead of pouring.  I lined the bottom of the blender with the oats.

Then I measured out the whole wheat flour, using a knife to level off the cup.

I added the baking powder and salt, and blended for 10 seconds.

I layered in the rest of the ingredients (agave through the PB).

I let it all blend for about a minute or two while I prepped the strawberry syrup.  I emptied the bag of frozen berries in a saucepan.

Then I added the agave and the water.  I actually realized after the fact that I forgot the zest.  Oh, well!

Once the pan rose to a boil, I lowered to simmer for 10 minutes while I cooked the pancakes.  I used two nonstick pans and some cooking spray.  Measuring out about 1/4 cup per cake, I dropped the dough in the pans.  They were very hard to spread!  I got better gradually, and learned to drop, let it cook for 10 seconds, then flip over and press down with the back of the spatula.

After about 3ish minutes, I flipped them over.

A couple of them burned on one side because I let the pan get too hot!  It set my smoke alarm off and made my dog crazy.

This batch should have rendered 12 total, but due to my inexperience with this batter, and picking at the dough while cooking, it only made 11.  The syrup reduced down to a jelly like consistency.

Then I served myself 2 pancakes.  Had a been a good and patient girl I would have had 3 on my plate.

Here’s a close-up.  Doesn’t that look amazing?

Okay, so now on to my nutrition lesson.  This recipe is by no means a healthy or diet meal.  It is slimmed down to save some calories and fat, use whole ingredients, but still be a yummy treat for weekend brunch.  Just to give you an idea of how much was shaved off, I did a little nutritional calculating in Excel.  I used as my data source, since it’s a pretty consistent site.  Here are the stats for a serving of 3 pancakes with 1/4th of the syrup.

Original Recipe

Calories: 758
Fat: 39.3
Carbohydrates: 93.1
Fiber: 10.4
Sugar: 57.25
Protein: 17.25

“Skinny” Version

Calories: 445.25
Fat: 18.275
Carbohydrates: 52.175
Fiber: 6.7
Sugar: 25.775
Protein: 20.675

In Summary: Wow.  I didn’t realize how much I was saving.  More than half the fat and sugar, almost half of the carbohydrates, and more than 300 calories skimmed off.  The only category the original wins is fiber, and that’s only because blackberries have more fiber than strawberries.  Just looking at the pancake, there was double the fiber in the whole grain version than in the original.

I also didn’t realize still how indulgent it was. Maybe next time I will only eat one or two and share an egg white omelet.  Or not.

What are some of your favorite indulgent brunch treats?


Super Bowl – The Perfect Vessel for Super Dip

In Beans, Party, Quick Meal, Sports, Vegetables on February 6, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Let me start off by saying: Go Giants.Go Giants.GO GIANTS!  I would also like to add that had it not been for my efforts to ensure that my dog Indy wore his Jersey every day last week, I could not be held responsible for their ultimate victory.  So you can all thank me (and my little dog, too) for winning.

I would have liked to have a very detailed report of all the amazing delicacies I created for my very own Super Bowl party.  However 1) I did not have a party, 2) I decided last minute to go with my Hubby to a friend’s party, and 3) I had woken up at 6:45 that morning for a race and was pretty exhausted the whole day.  Still, in the pursuit of being a good guest, I wanted to bring something other than beer to this party.  Although my 7-layer dip is the best option, it does not travel well, so I opted to just make a black bean dip and some guacamole.  Both simple, yet both party pleasers.

I’ll start first with the black bean dip.  I actually came across this recipe when I purchased falafel chips.  They were this new produce the healthfood store had been merchandizing a couple years ago, and they tasted like cumin spiced corn chips (only made from chickpeas).  After buying the bag, eating half the chips, and wondering what other products this company made, I checked out their website – they only make falafel chips.  Talk about a niche market.  I noticed a recipe section, browsed through and saw this recipe.  I tried it out, and it was amazingly simple and delicious.  I’ve made it both putting all ingredients in the food processor, and just the beans and tomatillos and cilantro.  The latter method was what I used for this party favor.

Out of pure laziness, I put the cilantro at the bottom of the food processor.  That way I wouldn’t have to chop it up.  Then I drained and rinsed 2 cans of black beans, and measured out 1.5 cups of salsa verde (since I couldn’t find canned tomatillos), adding them to the food processor bowl.

I turned the machine on and let it puree for about a minute.  It was delicious even at this point, but there was still more to add to make it a smidge more gourmet.  I transferred the mixture to a tupperware container.

I sliced up 3 scallions…

…drained a 4 oz can of green chilis…

…added them to the container to meet the black bean/salsa/cilantro mixture and dress with the juice of 1 lime…

…measured out the chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper…

…and then mixed everything up to combine!

It may be my flash, but the mixture was slightly darker/browner than depicted in the above photo.  Now on to the guac.  I cut two avocados in half.

Scooping out the flesh, I added them to a bowl, and mashed using a fork.

I diced up some red onion…


…and cilantro.

I added those all to the bowl of avocado, juiced another lime, pinched in some salt, and mixed to combine.

I transferred the guac to a take-out container, and all added the pits to prevent browning.

Paired with the blue corn and sesame chips, both dips were a huge hit.  The guac was gone before the first quarter was even over, and the only reason why the black bean dip had any leftovers was because Nick wanted to bring some home for later.  Just to emphasize how good the guac was, another party guest made some and it was barely eaten.  Hooray for being the culinary hero!  Looks like Lauren won the Super Dip Bowl.  Awesome.

Curry in [a little more time than] a Hurry

In Bread, Indian, Lentils, Rice, Thai, Vegetables on February 1, 2012 at 1:29 pm

A couple of weeks ago, I made one of my go-to Indian dishes, chana masala (only with chawla – black-eyed peas).  Since then, I’ve ordered some Indian delivery, and have been relishing all of the leftovers.  Chana masala, mushroom saag, vegetable vindaloo.  I even went crazy and got a samosa (aka Indian egg roll).  Still on my curry kick, I wanted to create something that reminded me of all those flavors, only not having to shell out another 50 bux for take out.  I looked through my pantry and fridge, and decided to make a coconut curry lentil dish with a side of chard (similar to the one I made with the chawla masala).

Luckily, the one can of light coconut milk I found had 3 months left until expiration.  I guess I hadn’t cooked with it in a while!  I opened the can and poured the milk into a saucepan to bring to a boil.

I’m not 100% sure, but I’ve never really had coconut milk in Indian food.  I’ve actually only remembered using it and tasting it in Thai cuisine.  My first experience making a coconut curry was following the directions on a Thai Kitchen can of coconut milk.  The recipe included one of their products, a curry paste.  The paste is basically a mix of curry powder and chili paste, only they charge you 3 or 4 dollars to use their pre-made version.  I made my own this time :).  1.5 tsp yellow curry powder, 1/2 tsp chili paste, and 1/2 tsp tomato paste.

Using a fork, I mixed everything up until it created the paste.

When the milk came to a boil, I add the paste to the pan.

Then, to fully incorporate the paste, I whisked the milk and spices.

When everything was incorporated, the milk was a lovely saffron color.

Next, I washed and rinsed a cup of dry french lentils.  When they are dry, they are this wonderful greenish black color.  I added them to the pot, and let them get to a boil before covering and lowering the heat.

While the lentils began to cook, I chopped up some white onion, carrots, and a yellow bell pepper.  I would have liked to use a red one for color, but I didn’t have any on hand.

About 5 minutes had passed, and I added the veggies and some extra water (about a cup) to the pot, mixing everything together.

I raised the heat, and once it was back up to a boil, I lowered to medium low, covered, and let simmer for another 30 minutes.  I also stirred every 10ish minutes.

I washed and dried the bunch of chard.  There were 6 huge leaves, 2 each of yellow, pink, and red.

I chopped all the leaves up into bite size pieces.  When you look closer at the stem, you can really see the different varieties of the rainbow.

I started to saute the chard in a nonstick pan, just like last time.  Previously, I used lemon juice and whole lemon.  Since the curry was more of a creamy taste, I thought a sweeter citrus would better complement the lentils.  I had some leftover juicing oranges from when I attempted my fruit/vegetable cleanse, so I decided to use one of those.

This orange was definitely ripe!  I was able to squeeze out the juice with my bare hands right over the chard.

I used one half of the orange and cut up some pieces of the peel to add the the pan.

I gave it a quick toss, and then lowered the heat and covered for a couple more minutes.  By then, the lentils were tender and ready to be eaten.

I added the lentils and some chard to my plate.  It was a great combo!

For Nick, I created a bed for the curry with some leftover basmati rice from the take-out we ordered previously.  There was also half a piece of garlic naan left, so he had some of that, too!  I was super proud of him for using the elliptical after a long work day, so he got a nice treat for dinner :).

When I was ready to clean up after dinner, I noticed that there were A LOT of leftover lentils.  Either they expanded more than I expected, or we just didn’t eat as much as we usually do.  Or maybe the coconut milk made it that much more filling?  I ended up freezing about 3 portions worth, brought one for lunch today, and still have one more in the fridge.  I used up the last of my take-out veggies today, so will definitely need to bump up the produce portions in the next few dinners.  Maybe I will attempt to make Gomen this week?  I’ve really been obsessed with it, and I’m sure I could make it at home.  Plus, after 4 days of eating Indian food, I’m sure I’ll be sick of curry very shortly.