Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Healthier Pancakes

Big sister loves pancakes.   About two weeks ago, I made them three mornings in a row.  I usually make this recipe but I wanted to try something a little healthier by the third morning and the recipe below was the result.  No white flour or refined sugar and they weren't bad . . . a little dense because of the whole wheat flour and oats.  Play with the amount of milk (and you could easily use soy milk or almond milk) to get the consistency you like - I should have added a little more.  Also, after talking to my Aunt Kathy about thin vs cake-like pancakes, I think I'd reduce the baking powder (or leave it out) next time around.

Healthy(ier) Pancakes (makes about 8-10 pancakes)

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup oats
1 T baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 egg
1 T honey
3 T plain yogurt
~1 cup (or more) milk
1 banana, diced

Whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.   Then, add the egg, honey, yogurt and milk and stir until it's mixed.  Don't overmix - a few lumps are okay.  Fold in the banana.

Another way to do this is to put everything but the banana and oats in a blender and briefly blend until it's all mixed.  Then, stir in the oats and banana.

Cook them in a hot pan or skillet however you like to make pancakes.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Raspberry Souffles

Two recent indulgences:  raspberry souffles (for no reason or special occasion) and the New Yorker Fiction podcast.  Wow, that last sentence came out sounding way more, umm . . .  pretentious than I meant it to.  Really, I'm not a snob.  But I am a bit of a nerd.  I can explain.  Let's start with the podcast.  I don't have as much time to read as I'd like to now that I have kids and when I do get a chance to run, I need to be distracted or I'll stop.  The New Yorker Fiction podcast is fun because famous writers read something that was written by one of their favorite writers.  It's usually about 20-30 minutes - perfect for a run (or a sit or a drive).  I'll put a link below to a favorite that I recently re-listened to.  It's hilarious and you can just listen to it on the internet without having to download / use an ipod.

The souffles . . . around my birthday, a friend and I took a cooking class at Chez Cherie.  Remember Cherie?  A class I took there originally inspired me to start this blog.  Well, the class we took this past year was on souffles and since then, I've made souffles exactly twice.  I remember her saying that you barely need any ingredients or time to pull together these raspberry ones and for once we got the girls to bed early, the dishes done and sort of wanted some dessert.  So, I literally whipped these up :)  Try them - they're not that hard and they're even gf.

My one tip for beating egg whites is to use the whisk attachment of the hand blender if you have one.  I did this for the souffles and also for the flourless chocolate cupcakes I recently posted and it's super fast and easy to control how stiff or dry your egg whites get.

Here's the link for the podcast and it's especially for you, my friends who love language (Mom, Margaret, Lee, Karen, Lisa - too many to name, but you know who you are!)

And, Cherie Twohy's recipe for Raspberry Souffles (2 servings)
*Used by permission

2 egg whites
2 T good quality raspberry jam
1 T water
2 tsp Chambord or other raspberry liquer (optional - left it out this time)
1 T sugar (plus more for preparing the ramekins)
softened butter and sugar for preparing the ramekins

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare two individual souffle dishes by buttering them well and shaking some sugar around the inside to coat the sides.  In a small saute pan, heat the raspberry jam with the water until the jam melts and most of the water evaporates, 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.  Add the Chambord (the mixture will thicken a bit more as it cools).

When the raspberry mixture is cooled sufficiently, whisk the egg whites, adding sugar, a teaspoonful of or so at a time, until the whites are glossy and hold nearly stiff peaks.  Add about 1/3 of the whites to the base mixture, stirring to lighten the texture.  Add another 1/3, folding more carefully, turning the bowl as you scoop and turn the mixture from the bottom of the bowl.  When these whites are combined, add the final 1/3 of the whites, folding very gently to preserve their lightness.  A streak or two of white is preferable to overmixing at this point, as the whites will deflate if they are stirred with great vigor.

Gently pour the souffle batter into the prepared dishes, and place in the preheated oven.  Bake 12-15 minutes, until the souffles are puffed and glorious.  As a result of the higher sugar content, these souffles will brown significantly on top as they cook.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cookies for our new friends

Big sister has made some new Claremont friends.  A couple of months ago, she was invited to a birthday party by a girl in her ballet class.  She went running into the house after class and told her dad, "I got invited!  I got invited!" - she was so excited.  The birthday girl has become her new bff.  The two of them have some similarities in their love of life and swimming.  They lots of happy noise & laughter when they play together.  Bff also has an older sister P who is a lot of fun and the three of them seem to get along really well.  

When our two new friends gave big sister a handmade doll, big sister really wanted to sew something for them in return.  I looked through our craft cupboard and made some alternative suggestions (which I thought were really good) and big sister vetoed all of them ("Nooooo - I want to SEW a DOLL like they did).  So, I had a little talk with her.  Some families can sew.  Some kids know how to sew and have actual needles and thread and fabric and stuff.  But, we're not one of those families.  What we do is bake for people we love.  The next time we saw the friends, we brought them some cookies!

Getting ready to bake (notice how she took the lids off everything - her preferred first step)

Making sure the chocolate chips are "fresh"

My lovely surprise from baby girl while we were baking - no injuries, thankfully

Eating her first chocolate chip cookie!

And, the end product.  We hope they'll be our friends for our winning personalities, our pool, and, of course, the treats.

Chocolate Chip & Heath bar Oatmeal Cookies (makes 3 dozen)

3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (can use all regular flour if you want)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
2/3 cup sucanat (or packed brown sugar)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped heath bar (can use all chocolate or peanut butter chips if you want)
1 cup quick or old-fashioned oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl. In a mixing bowl cream the butter. Add the sugars and cream until fluffy. Add the vanilla and egg. Alternately add the milk and flour mixture at a lower speed. Stir in the chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and oats.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the center is still soft and the edges are crisp and the cookies are lightly browned. Cool on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes and then transfer to a wire rack.

Friday, August 12, 2011

And another summer salad

This was sooo good.  I wish I had more squash from our garden!  

Shaved Summer Squash Salad (4 servings)
from Bon Appetit, June 2011

1 lb summer squash (mix of green and yellow)
2 1/2 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 minced garlic clove
1-2 cups of baby arugula
3 T whole almonds, toasted and coarsely crushed
or 3 T pine nuts, toasted
salt and pepper to taste
freshly shaved pecorino or parmasean cheese

Trim the ends off of the squash and use a vegetable peeler to thinly slice the squash lengthwise into strips.  Transfer to a large bowl.  In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic clove, and salt (to taste).  Pour dressing over squash and let stand for a few minutes.  Then, add some baby arugula, shave some cheese over the top and toss.  Season with salt and pepper.  Garnish with the nuts.
(134 cal/serving)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Wild Rice Salad

As you can see from the posts in the last month or two, we've been eating a lot of salads this summer.    The other morning before he left for work, my husband asked what was for dinner.  I said that I had no idea and asked what he'd like to have (aren't I nice??)  He answered, "some sort of salad with wild rice" and he got what he wanted!  

I saw this awhile back on Simply Recipes and made the recipe exactly like it was posted on Elise's blog.  I bought some roasted turkey to add and forgot to add it . . . maybe next time.  Shredded rotisserie chicken would also probably work well in this salad if you wanted more protein.  I didn't think it would be as spectacular as it was but the combination of flavors and textures and the sesame oil made it sort of addicting.  We polished off a half recipe between the two of us!

Wild Rice Salad (8-10 side dish servings)

1 cup long grain rice
1 cup wild rice
4 cups chicken broth (or water or veg broth)
4 stalks celery, sliced
8 green onions, sliced
2 cups thawed frozen peas
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
3/4 cup dried cranberries
salt and pepper

1/4 c. olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar (ok, I lied - I left the sugar out)
2 T dark sesame oil

Put the broth (or water) in a medium saucepan.  Add the rice and wild rice, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover.  Let cook for 40 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool completely.

Whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, sugar and sesame oil.

In a large bowl, gently mixed together the cooled cooked rice, dressing, and other ingredients.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Chill completely before serving.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

First Birthday Treats

Baby girl had a great first birthday and her big sister, daddy & I also enjoyed the day!  If you've never checked it out (especially if you have kids under about 8 or so), Under the Sea Indoor Playground in Altadena is a really fun place.  The birthday girl liked riding the little cars and the short slides and practiced her walking quite a bit on the carpeted floor (easier than the hardwoods at home).  In the evening, we had cake with family to celebrate.

Of course, the most fun part of a one year old party is when the baby gets to dig in to the cake!  At first she kept looking at us like, "you're really giving this to me?!?" but then she just leaned over and stuck her face in it!

While I made the birthday girl her own carrot cake with cream cheese frosting (no sugar added), the bigger people enjoyed some better desserts.  I always forget how much flourless cakes fall and shrink after they cool.  I had cute cupcake liners but took the cakes out of them before serving since they totally pulled away from the sides.  These small, rich chocolate cakes were perfect with a little whipped cream and ice cream.

Thank you all for your birthday wishes!  It was a milestone for us all to celebrate.

Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes (from Martha Stewart)
makes about 20

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
6 large eggs, separated, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees and line muffin tins with paper liners.  Melt butter and chocolate over low heat (or use a double boiler).  Stir to combine and remove from heat and let cool slightly.  Carefully whisk in egg yolks.

With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk egg whites until soft peaks form.  Gradually add sugar, beating until peaks are stiff and glossy but not dry (don't overbeat).  Whisk one quarter of the beaten egg whites into chocolate mixture to lighten.  Gently fold mixture into remaining whites.  Fill your prepared muffin cups about 3/4 full.  Bake until cupcakes are just set in the centers, about 20 minutes.  Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes (the centers will sink).

Best eaten the same day they're made; keep at room temperature until ready to serve.  Top with whipped cream, if desired.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

One year ago today

How can my baby be one year old today?  The year has flown by but has been filled with wonderfully sweet moments with my two girls.  I'm so glad that I didn't spend today in labor and that I'm on the other side of the first baby year of her life.  I can't wait to hear what her next words will be and see her become more competent at her walking . . . . knowing our family, running isn't too far off!  A year ago, I still didn't know that my baby girl would have blue eyes, crinkle her nose when she smiled, be super cuddly, or so even tempered.  I did know that her big sister would love her dearly and that she would fit right in to our family.  Happy Birthday little sweetheart!

First birthday highlights coming soon!