Friday, March 26, 2010

And I ate eggs, and they were good.

As far back as I can recall, I have always hated eggs.
My earliest memory of hating eggs would be whenever my parents would make scrambled eggs. I'd cry and scream and beg them to stop. I hated the smell, and the idea of having to eat what was making the smell. I would usually run and hide in my room until the eggs were gone.
Over the past few years, i've been trying to change this. Try to start eating eggs so I can reap the health benefits. First it started out with a few nibbles when a friend or family member would eat eggs. I'd take a small bite, trying not to think about what I was doing too much, i'd manage to swallow it, and then that  would be enough. After that I progressed into braving a tomato feta quiche a friend of mine had made, and I liked it! But I decided it would be a one time occurance, and didn't make eating eggs a habit. A year or so later, I got brave again and made a veggie omelette - and what do you know, that felt okay too. Yet for some reason, I still couldn't get past my childhood apprehension towards eggs.

I decided to try and counquer the egg phobia again today. I've recently been informed by my doctor that i'm vitamin B12 deficient, and that I should try to get some more sources of B12 in my diet. As a lacto-ovo vegetarian, I previously avoided meat and all dairy (other than cheese and yogurt). I drink fortified soy milk to get B12, but it must not be doing it's job very well because i'm pretty low in it. So I decided to try eggs once again.

I remembered a recipe I had seen on The Amatuer Gourmet , a recipe called "Eggs Adam Roberts" - scrambled eggs with jalapenos. The sound of them seemed just right, so today I set to work. Plus, my last name happens to be Roberts so I took that as a good sign. ;)

And now i'm converted. I LOVED THESE EGGS. I had no idea I could feel this way, that I could actually enjoy scrambled eggs! There was no smell like I had remembered suffering through in my child hood! and the texture wasn't at all repulsive! Not runny and chewy somehow at the same time. They were light, and fluffy, yet still held their own. I am in LOVE LOVE LOVE with these eggs.

So what does this mean? All I really know is that I love this recipe for eggs. And now I can start to see that they might not be so bad after all. For now, I know I can handle scrambled eggs, and i'm sure i'll like omelettes and quiches, too.
The next hurdle: poached egg. Nothing scares me more than a runny yolk. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pancake Failure

I have a foodie confession.
Maple Honey Apples on Pancakes
I cannot, for the life of me, make pancakes from scratch. I've tried at least 20 recipes in the last two years and not one of them has worked! I cannot fathom why. While I almost never stick to a recipe, when making pancakes I always do, or I make minimal substitutions. Yet for some reason, they never turn out. My affliction is so bad that I wasn't even able to make pancakes from a box until my roommate taught me. And even then, mine never turn out as good as when somebody else makes them... so needless to say pancakes are not something I ever make for myself.

This issue of my pancakes always being a flop (pun very much intended) came up today when I pulled out my Nov/Dec 2008 issue of Vegetarian Times, my most revered issue because it features an article on how to "Eat to Beat Colds and Flu". So whenever I am sick (like I currently am) I whip it out and make the mixed vegetable masala, my favorite featured dish, which does wonders for a sore through and clears out the sinuses. Oh, and it tastes great to.
But during this current bout of sickness i've been dealing with, I decided to try something new and make the Pumpkin Pancakes with Honey Raspberry Syrup. I followed the recipe perfectly- only replacing the eggs with bananas and the result was horrendus. Not that it's VT's fault. Every recipe I try from them turns out great. I am just cursed when it comes to pancakes.

So I gave up and reached for a box of Aunt Jemima where all you need to do is add water. And yes, they  still did not turn out great. Although they were eatable, unlike the pumpkin pancakes. I take what I can get.

What did turn out well though, was the honey apple maple topping to adorn my pancakes. I took inspiration from the raspberry syrup recipe featured along with VT's pumpkin pancakes, only I used an apple because I didn't have any frozen raspberries. I'm not a huge fan of straight up honey, but it's good way to boost immunity, so I wanted to include it in my meal somehow. I ended up adding some maple syrup to the mix so the honey flavor wouldn't be too strong. If you really like the tate of honey, omit the maple all together.

Maple Honey Apple Topping

Apple Maple Honey Topping

1 large apple (I used red delicious), cored and diced
1 tbsp margarine or butter
1/8-1/4 cup of maple syrup
1/2 cup of honey

In a small saucepan, heat the butter or margarine. Add the apple and cinnamon and cook 3-5 mins until the apples are soft. Add the maple syrup* and the honey and simmer another few mins.

*If you really like honey, you can omit the maple. If your not such a big fan, use more maple syrup to balance out the flavors.

If honey or maple syrup both aren't your thing, this would also work well with agave nectar.
This topping would work great in crepes, waffles, or on ice cream!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Tabouleh Two Ways

Cous Cous Tabouleh

And Hippie!
Hippie Tabouleh

Yesterday I woke up to a true horror in my kitchen. I was all out of Silk! All of a sudden breakfast seemed so difficult, near impossible. The lack of soy milk rendered by usual standby's of smoothies or cereal out, and I had no tofu for a scramble. And it just wasn't an oatmeal kind of morning.
In order to rectify the situation, I ran out to the grocery store. Once at the store, I actually ended up buying almond milk instead of my usual soy, because I was just feeling crazy! No complaints here though, the almond milk was cheaper than silk and tasted great in my banana-strawberry-date smoothie. Haven't tried it in my cereal yet though...

While I was at the store I also noticed fresh organic mint was on sale for $1, where as it's usually at $2.79. Not wanting to pass up the deal, I thought of what I could do with a bundle of fresh mint. Topping a fruit salad with fresh mint is divine, but it was another salad that sprung to mind; Tabouleh - a Lebanese salad made with fresh mint, fresh parsley, lemon juice and olive oil. I knew I had a cucumber in my fridge and tomatoes on my counter and even left over cous cous in my fridge. And that was that, I knew this was fate telling me to make tabouleh. Even though I had never actually made it before, I'd just ordered it several times at restaurants- which I now see is ridiculous because of how incredibly simple it is to make!

Tabouleh is traditionally made with bulgar wheat, but I used cous cous which works just as well. I also made a version with some left over quinoa, which also worked wonders. With both versions, letting the salads sit in the fridge for at least two hours is best, so that all the flavors can mingle.

Cous Cous Tabouleh

Basic Tabouleh Dressing
serves two as a main.

3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp honey or agave
pinch of salt
lots of black pepper
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley, chopped
3 tbsp fresh chopped mint, chopped

In a small bowl whisk together ingredients to combine.
For a traditional salad, mix with 1 cup of cous cous, 1/4 of a cucumber, diced, and 6 baby tomatoes, chopped and some finely diced red onion. I also added some feta.


In the quinoa version, I decided to throw in all the vegetables I had in my fridge into the salad as well, which is part of why I fondly refer to such version as "hippie tabouleh". (Go hippies!) I mean,  it's got quinoa - total hippie grain - and a pleothora of veg. But non hippies can enjoy it as well!

Hippie Tabouleh

Hippie Tabouleh
Toss basic tabouleh dressing with quinoa, diced carrots, cucumber, peppers, and some diced apple* and raisins for some sweetness. Any or all of these can be replaced with whatever vegetables you have on hand!

*If adding apples to salad, toss diced apple in 1 tsp in lemon juice prior to mixing in the salad to prevent browning.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Best ever granola bars

Homemade granola bar
(I just love my new old plate I got at the thrift store the other day!) 

For a few years now,  I have been searching for the perfect homemade granola bar. When I first started my search, It was met with some failures. The first recipe I tried came out way too crunchy. It also called for eggs, which I try to avoid when possible as they freak me out. Then I tried this recipe and It was pretty good...more akin to the chewy store bought granola bars I favor. But it was not quite perfect. After that I kind of just gave up and went back to buying my bars. 

But after seeing this post on Smitten Kitchen, I decided to try making them again. Most of the motivation being that I had nothing to bring to snack on at school for the upcoming week. Another big factor was that by making granola bars myself, I can save money, (music to a student's ears!) and I have control of all the ingredients. Now i'm not eating any weird substances that I can't pronounce and make me wish I was better in science. 

This recipe is also super flexible. I'm sure i'll be making it again and again, trying out the endless combinations. 

Granola bars
(adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen.)

1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats, processed till finely ground in a food processor or blender)
1/2 tsp salt
1-2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup wheat germ
1 cup raisins
1 cup pecans
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/3 cup almond butter or another nut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all the dry ingredients (including nuts, fruit, and chocolate) in a bowl and set aside. 
Whisk the wet ingredients together and combine into the dry. 
Line a pan with parchment paper (otherwise you won't get them out of the pan!) and press granola mixture firmly into the pan. The size/shape of pan will determine what kind of bars you get. Keep this in mind when deciding on which pan to use. (I used a small rectangle pan that I'm not sure of the measurements...)
Bake for 30 mins until the edges are cooked. My oven is crazy hot and at only 325 they were done in 20 mins! Allow to cool on the counter for 20 mins, then transfer to the fridge and let cool further. I left mine overnight and they were a dream to cut in the morning. Store in the fridge to maintain structure.