Apple Cinnamon Pancakes

Happy Fall! I have returned to you briefly to share one of my favorite fall recipes, Apple Cinnamon Pancakes…perfect for a chilly Sunday morning! Enjoy!

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Apple Cinnamon Pancakes
makes 7 pancakes

1 C flour
1 T sugar
3 t baking powder
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t salt
3/4 C milk or milk alternative
2 T vegetable oil
1 egg
1 t vanilla extract
1 Macintosh apple, peeled and grated

Combine wet ingredients and dry ingredients in separate bowls, then make a well in the dry mixture and add the wet. Add the grated apple. Mix batter just until all dry ingredients have been combined.

Over medium low heat, melt 1 T butter in a nonstick skillet. Even better, use your flat top or griddle! Pour roughly 1/4 C batter per each pancake. Cook on first side until little bubbles begin to form on the surface of the pancake. Then, flip. Cook slightly less time on the opposite side.

These are best with maple syrup. Obviously.

Kale Peanut Salad

Nom nom, Asian flavors. Regardless of what I’m cooking for dinner, I’m guilty of repeat ingredients: soy, ginger, sesame, curry, fish sauce, sriracha…the list goes on. I don’t consider it a problem that I’m not much of a diverse home cook anymore. I’ve just found the flavors that are going to make me happy for another 5+ years. Or longer. Who knows?

I remember this time, in the fall of 2011, when I woke up one morning and instantly realized, “I like sushi now!” No joke. Up until that very moment, I despised sushi – and not because it’s raw fish, but because the flavor of nori repulsed me. I learned rather quickly that sushi as sushi actually has little to do nori –  but at that point in time, I was ready to brave the threatening maki roll. That morning, I knew I was going to become a sushi lover. And that I did. Isn’t it strange how our tastebuds change?

So, given this detail, I’m guessing it’s only a matter of time before my Asian flavor craze fizzles out and is replaced by some other flavor craze. But until then, I surely will eat Kale Peanut Salad every day.

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Kale Peanut Salad
makes 3-4 medium-sized servings

one bunch of kale; rinsed, destemmed, dried, and torn into pieces
3 T peanut butter (use whatever! I make mine my with Trader Joe’s all natural crunchy)
2 – 3 T seasoned rice vinegar (I usually just splash it in, so this is an estimate; start with 2 T, then add more if you want it!)
2 T honey
1 T soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1 inch ginger root, peeled and minced
1 t or more srircha
1/2 t sesame oil
2 t vegetable oil
a heavy pinch of salt
1/3 C roasted, unsalted peanuts

Prepare kale and set aside in a very large bowl.

In a food processor, combine all ingredients with the exception of the kale and peanuts. Blend well and taste. If it’s too sweet, add a little bit more soy. If it’s too tangy, add a little bit more honey. If it’s not spicy enough, add more sriracha. If it’s too salty, I don’t know what to tell you. Add lime juice?

Roughly chop the peanuts so you end up with some small pieces and some larger ones.

Pour every last drop of the dressing over the kale and add peanuts. Toss with tongs to combine.

I keep this in the fridge and eat off of it for 2-3 days. The dressing helps to tenderize the kale over time.

Now, how’s that for a little Asian persuasion?

Carrot Cake Raw Balls

Carrot Cake Raw Balls
makes 11 1 oz balls (weird, I know)
modified from Running with Spoons

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3 dried dates
4 dried apricots
3 T coconut oil, melted
2 T maple syrup
1 t vanilla extract
1 C oats
1/4 C almond flour
1 C shredded carrot, about 1 1/2 carrots
1/4 t ground cinnamon
pinch ground ginger
pinch ground nutmeg
1/4 C unsweetened coconut flakes

In a heavy duty (trust me, make sure it’s durable) food processor, blend the dates, apricots, coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. You want a soft paste here.

Add almond flour, shredded carrot, and spices. Blend until all ingredients come together as a slightly sticky dough.

Measure out 1 oz balls and roll around in a shallow bowl filled with unsweetened coconut flake. Store in the fridge or freeze!

Roasted Eggplant Caramelized Onion Spinach Spread

Roasted Eggplant Caramelized Onion Spinach Spread
makes a little over 2 cups

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1 large eggplant
1 medium sweet onion
2 C packed fresh spinach
1 clove garlic
juice from half a lemon
olive oil
butter
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove the ends of the eggplant, then cut in half and place on a baking sheet. Generously coat with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast eggplant in oven for 45 minutes. Let cool for half an hour.

In a large saute pan, warm 1 T olive oil and 1 T butter over medium-low heat. Prepare onion by removing skins and slicing thin rounds. Add to warm olive oil/butter and slowly cook until caramelized, about 30 minutes.

Once eggplant is cool enough, remove skins and discard. Add the flesh to a food processor, along with caramelized onion, spinach, garlic, and lemon juice. Blend! Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Blend some more! Keeps for awhile in the fridge.

Serve however you want, but I like to cover really good bread in olive oil, salt, and pepper and toast it under my broiler. Heap this spread right on top of the warm bread, and it’s perfect.

So easy. So healthy. So tasty.

Paleo Cashew & Apricot Granola Bars

I have been playing “Paleo Granola Test Kitchen” for nearly a month now. I have made loose, baked granola as well as many bar recipes, all of which required different types of binders. This is my favorite recipe so far, mostly because it doesn’t require any kind of oil as an ingredient. I plan to make this same recipe this week, except with the addition of almonds and substituting cranberries as the fruit…possibly cashew butter instead of almond butter. I’ll let you know!

Paleo Cashew & Apricot Granola Bars
makes 10 bars

1/2 C honey
2 T almond butter
pinch of salt
pinch of cinnamon
3/4 C cashews
1/4 C sunflower seeds & petipas
1/2 C diced, dried apricots
1 C shredded unsweetened coconut

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an 8×8 glass baking dish by lining it with parchment paper. If you run the risk of any of the bar batter touching any bit of the glass pan, make sure to grease it very well.

In a small saucepan, melt honey. While honey is melting, spoon almond butter into a bowl and add the salt and cinnamon. Do not stir.

Using a food processor, or immersion blender like me, destroy your nuts and seeds. You want at least 2/3 of it to be ground down and mostly powdery; the rest should be medium sized pieces of cashew and some whole seeds. I really like a variety of textures. Add blended nuts and seeds to the bowl. Do not stir.

Dice your apricots small, into pieces about the size of peas. Add to the bowl. Do not stir.

Add coconut to the bowl. Do not stir.

Finally, drizzle your melted honey on top of all of the other ingredients in the bowl, and stir!!!

Pour, or a better word would be gloop, the batter into the prepared baking dish. You want to press the better down very well, making sure to pack all pieces and bits solidly into the dish. This will ensure that the bars pop easily out of the pan and cut cleanly.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until bars are golden brown. Let them cool in the baking pan for at least an hour, and make sure they are cooled completely before cutting.

These were so good that I ate them for breakfast and dessert every day this past week!

Wheat Bread

Minimalist Baker is one of my new favorite food blogs. I stumbled upon it while searching for a quick and painless whole wheat bread recipe. On Wednesday, I baked their Easy Homemade Wheat Bread, and while I haven’t taste-tested it myself, I have received glowing feedback.

I found out earlier this week that a colleague of mine passed up his free opportunity to chaperone the eighth grade trip to DC in April just so I could go. It was very generous and warmed my heart. He was on the fence and didn’t want to take the space knowing that I badly wanted to go. We are both hopeful that a few more students will register for the trip so that another chaperone is needed; maybe he will be less on the fence by that time.

I made him a loaf of this bread as a thank you, and according to the e-mail I received last night, the recipe did not disappoint. I may make a loaf for myself today…or I may make focaccia. Who knows?! That’s what snow days (3 this week!) are for.

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Easy Homemade Wheat Bread
recipe from Minimalist Baker
yields one loaf

2 C whole wheat flour
1 1/4 C all purpose flour
1/2 t salt
1 packet instant yeast
1 1/2 C warm water
1/4 C millet (I didn’t use this because I wasn’t about to drive to Whole Foods in the snow)
1/4 C oatmeal (I used more like 1/3 -1/2 C because I left out the millet)

In a large mixing bowl, combine warm water and yeast. Let it sit until it gets foamy. Once you can smell the aromatics of the yeast, add the flours and salt and stir with a wooden spoon. Dough will be rough and sticky. Cover snuggly with plastic wrap and leave in a warm spot to rise for 1 hour. You may also let the dough rise in the fridge for 2 hours.

Dough should double in size. When ready, generously flour a work surface, sprinkle the dough with flour, and dump it out. Knead the dough for a little while, incorporating the oatmeal (and millet, if using) as you go. Continue to knead the dough, adding flour when needed, until it is no longer sticky. Lightly grease a baking sheet and place the ball of dough on it. Sprinkle the top with flour and let rest for 1 hour.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and place a cast iron skillet on the bottom rack. Fill a glass measuring cup with 1 C water and set aside. Once you place the bread in the oven, you will pour water into the skillet, producing steam, which will help provide a crust for your bread.

After dough has rested, prepare it for baking by scoring the top. I did three scores, as suggested by Minimalist Baker, about 1/2″ deep. I also sprinkled a little more oatmeal over the top. Place the baking pan in the oven, add the water to the skillet, and quickly close the oven door. Bake for about 25-35 minutes (broad time span, I know) or until the loaf sounds hollow when you firmly knock on the bottom of it. It took my loaf about 30 minutes.

Let bread fully cool before storing it in a large plastic bag.

Recipes to Try

I can keep open many browsers with many tabs trying to remember all of the recipes I want to try, or I can post a list from which we may all benefit! I will add to and take away from this as time goes on, and please, if you make one of these recipes, comment and tell me all about it!

Baked Spaghetti Squash Carbonara on The Kitchn
Hot and Sour Soup on The Kitchn
Amy Chaplin’s Almond Butter Brownies with Sea Salt
Rosemary Focaccia on The Kitchen (of course)
Granola Bread…what?! on The Kitchn
Raspberry Ricotta Cake on Bob Appetit