Thursday, April 29, 2010

Five-Grain Cream Waffles

This is the recipe that inspired the Multigrain Waffles on 101 Cookbooks.  It originally wasn't high on my list, to be honest, but I wanted to do a sort of comparison between the two.

A few days ago I put together the dry mix for this recipe so that it would be easier when I actually wanted to make them.  This worked out well for me.  I dumped the contents of the bag directly into the sifter and there was no measuring to be done whatsoever.  All I had to do was blend together the heavy cream and eggs, then mix them into the dry ingredients.  Yes, heavy cream.  50 calories per tablespoon.  Not the best nutritionally, but again, I want to try all these recipes as-is so that when I modify them I know whether I am completely ruining them.

The waffles were delicious but honestly, a little boring.  I definitely prefer the Multigrain Waffle recipe with the poppy seeds.  I think these would taste delicious with fresh strawberries - like strawberries and cream.  Yum!

The one thing I do want to stress about this recipe is that I can understand how it inspired the multigrain waffles.  It inspired me, too.  Mostly to severely cut the calories down, but also to add my own twist to it - kind of like a blank canvas waiting for some art to be made on it.  I've got a small notebook where I write down my recipe ideas, since I'm not too capable yet of putting things together entirely on my own, but I have a few thoughts that will go down in there.  I'm looking forward to continuing to work with these different whole-grain flours to learn more about them and how they work.  I found a great substitution list on the Bob's Red Mill website that should help a lot.  (If you are seeing black diamonds with question marks in place of numbers, go to View > Character Encoding and try selecting Western.)

I need to stop baking and get back to cooking actual meals.  Expect to see a few interesting things coming up, maybe over the weekend.  I've been flipping through some other books (as hard as it is to put down Good to the Grain, there are no dinners in there) and I've found a few things that I plan to try out in the next few days.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Garlic and Rosemary Roasted Cannellini Beans

As you may remember from my stuffed red pepper post, I do not like beans.  I WANT to like beans.  So I am always looking for bean recipes in the hopes that one day I will develop a taste for beans. 

I found something I just had to try on  (In addition to extremely healthy dietitian-created recipes, she posts answers to nutrition questions - you can send in a question and she will answer it.)  Going through her recipe archive I found a recipe for Garlic and Rosemary Roasted Cannellini Beans.  I love crunchy salty snacks, so I had to try it.

Wow!  I was so surprised at what happened here.  They came out really well.  They are delicious! 

I followed the directions.  After 40 minutes of roasting they were pretty good.  But some of the bigger ones were not crunchy.

I put them back in the oven for another ten minutes or so, and when they came out they were a darker color and much crunchier.

I was standing next to the stove waiting for them to cool down and then I just ate them all.

I will definitely be making these again.  Especially if you are going to use the oven anyway, it is a great low-effort snack.  I would love to experiment with other types of beans and flavors.  Maybe some southwestern-flavored beans?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Walnut-Dried Cherry Bars

I can't believe I haven't posted about the Walnut-Dried Cherry Bars in Ellie Kreiger's book So Easy.  I make these all the time.  It's painful for me when I take the last one out of the freezer.  They are perfect for before or after a workout, or for breakfast, or for an afternoon snack when you are craving something sweet and baked.

I have been meaning to mess around with these.  I want to try reversing the flavors - instead of dried cherries with apricot preserves, I want to try dried apricots with cherry preserves.  But I like it too much to mess with it like that.  If there are none left in the freezer, I can't bring myself to do it.

Today I finally tried something at least a little different.  I did not feel like removing everything in the refrigerator to get to my whole wheat flour, which is also almost gone, so I reached for something else instead.  Near the front of the shelf was the multigrain flour mix I made from Kim Boyce's book Good to the Grain.  I have been substituting this in many places in an attempt to make things more interesting.  It worked out great in the oatmeal sandwich bread, and it lightened that up a bit, so I thought it would be good here.  Lucky for me, it was great.  I always have to eat one of these, because I make them when I am already craving them, so I got to try it with the multigrain flour and it came out really well.  It was lighter than the whole wheat but didn't stand out too much in taste.

If you like to take snacks with you to work, school, etc. this is a perfect recipe for transportation.  I wrap mine in wax paper, then store them in ziplock bags in the freezer.  I grab one before I leave the house and when I reach for it 2 hours later it's completely defrosted.

As I mentioned above, I'd like to try reversing the flavor combination, but I would also like to try some completely different flavors as well.  Any suggestions?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Raspberry Lemon Muffins

To clean out my freezer, I decided to make muffins using my frozen fruit.  This obviously is an ass-backward idea, because muffins go back in the freezer and take up more room than fruit, but I like muffins so I did it anyway.  Ha!

Anyway, I made blueberry muffins, mostly following this recipe, which I used when I first started baking with whole grains over the summer.  After those were done, I took a look at what kind of fruit I had and settled on a raspberry-lemon combination for the next batch.  I have a wonderful book called The Flavor Bible where I go either for inspiration for flavor pairings, or to confirm my brilliant ideas (such as this one).  Raspberry and lemon was listed as a flavor affinity (a most popular combination) so I knew I was on track.

Following is the recipe I used.  You can see the original recipe here.

2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar (I used Florida Crystals less-refined sugar)
2 large eggs
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt (not Greek)
1 1/2 cups frozen raspberries


1. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.

2. Cream together the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy and almost white in color. Scrape down the bowl to make sure all the butter is incorporated, then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the lemon zest and yogurt, and mix until incorporated.

3. Add the dry ingredients, mixing on low speed just until the batter is smooth. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl once more, to be sure everything is evenly combined. Gently fold in the fruit and refrigerate at least an hour.

4. Lightly grease a muffin tin or line with papers.

5. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C or gas mark 6). Scoop the batter into the prepared pan, piling it on and using every last bit.  Bake the muffins until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, approximately 24 minutes. Remove from the oven and tip the muffins over sideways in their cups as soon as possible to avoid a soggy bottom.  Move to a cooling rack after a few minutes to finish cooling.

Possible future variations: 1 tsp almond extract instead of the lemon zest, almonds sprinkled on top; substitute barley flour for part of the white whole wheat flour; use 1/2 raspberries and 1/2 blueberries.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Teff Waffle Saga: Part 1

This is a long, leisurely post which has no pictures.  I do not recall why I didn't take pictures.  I probably forgot.  This is a long boring story to which there will be at least one more part, so reader beware: you may get bored.  Not everyone is captivated by whole grains, a fact which I frequently choose to ignore in conversations, but luckily for you, you have control over whether you have to read this story.  Choose wisely.


I recently tried teff, which I have read about on various lists of whole grains and their properties, as a porridge for breakfast, using the recipe on the back of the Bob's Red Mill package it came in. The almost chocolate-y, almost molasses-y flavor of the teff mixed so well with the unsalted butter and ground cloves that the recipe called for.

The other day I went to Barnes & Noble to look through a brand new book about baking with whole grain flours (Good to the Grain), which they sadly did not have. I perused the cookbook section so as not to have made a trip for nothing, and came across Whole Grains Every Day Every Way by Lorna Sass. This is a book I had my eye on a while ago, but somehow, for some reason, I totally forgot about it. I sat down right in the middle of the aisle and flipped through the first section, which details exactly what to do with any grain you may come across. She tried several different methods of cooking each grain and recommends the best one. There are helpful charts everywhere. If you want to know every detail, like which will freeze well and which won't, this is the book for you. Having the right information is what will make you able to incorporate whole grains into your diet, and this book will give you everything you need to actually make them delicious.

The book has a few pictures, all together in a special section of colored photos, rather than pairing them with each recipe. This doesn't bother me, because the variety of photos includes what you need to make sure you're working with the right ingredients. There is a full spread of all the different grains, showing you what they look like so you can use the right ones.

On the very last page of this photo section I saw the most beautiful sight: teff waffles. The deep chocolate color is very different from the waffles you usually see, and I stopped right there and almost drooled all over the photo. I could not wait to make these waffles.

Later that evening I purchased the book from Amazon (along with the other book I had been looking for) and it arrived in less than 24 hours, despite my expecting 2-day shipping to mean it would arrive in 2 days. Naturally I read the thing cover to cover, but not surprisingly, the teff waffles were still first on my list. I made them the very next morning.

One of the most interesting parts of this recipe is grinding your own teff flour. You can buy it, but teff is so tiny that it's practically flour already. The recipe gives you instructions on how to grind it yourself and how much to use to get the right amount of flour. Since teff is so delicious in its whole grain form in the porridge, why bother buying flour?

First I toasted my grains, then let them cool a bit, then ground them using my coffee grinder (which is never used for coffee anyway). I have never done this before, so when I was mixing the batter I discovered that I hadn't done too great a job grinding them and there were still whole grains left in the flour. Since teff is so tiny, this didn't matter much in the finished product, aside from giving it an interesting texture with a pleasant little crunch to it. I used my standard substitute of 1 cup milk + 1 Tbsp vinegar (or lemon juice) for buttermilk, but I really wanted to try actual buttermilk in my next batch.

Because teff does not contain gluten, the waffles are very fragile and can fall apart fairly easily. After I had started actually making them on the waffle iron and already encountered this problem, I read this helpful nugget of information at the very end of the recipe. I solved the problem (for the most part) by using a fork to lift and sliding a spatula underneath. Later, when I was telling my sister about the whole endeavor, she suggested spraying the waffle iron with cooking spray, which I had not thought of because I thought it was nonstick. I also wanted to try swapping out a bit of the teff flour for whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour to see if that would give it enough gluten to stick together. It probably wasn't helpful that I was pouring on far too much batter. There was batter all over the counter and the outside of the waffle maker by the time I was done because I couldn't get the portions right with the ladle.

The recipe says it will make four 6-inch waffles, but I have a smaller waffle maker and ended up with about 8 or 10 waffles of a smaller size. We had a few left over, so I stacked them in a deep plastic container with sheets of wax paper cut to fit between them. I reheated them in the toaster oven for a snack later, then for breakfast the next day, and they were all gone.

What better time than now to make another batch, while my mistakes from the first round were still fresh in my mind? I toasted and ground the next batch of teff flour so that I would have it ready for the next time I was able to make the waffles. I decided that with this second batch, I would aim to perfect the existing recipe rather than make any alterations.

I made them after dinner the next day, using real (but reduced fat) buttermilk and my freshly ground flour, this time more flour than grains. When I poured the buttermilk into the other liquid ingredients, I immediately noticed a difference and resolved to use real buttermilk for recipes like this going forward. I mixed the wet ingredients into my flour mixture and my batter was an absolutely perfect consistency. I used my large scoop (from Pampered Chef) and dropped one full scoop the batter onto the hot waffle iron. When the first waffles were ready, one was stuck to the top half of the waffle maker and I remembered that I should grease the pan. At the same time I noticed that I had put too little batter on the waffle iron, so I used my grapeseed oil spray and an extra 1/2 scoop of batter for the next batch.

They came out great! They still had the slight crunchy texture that I had liked in the first batch, but I knew there were far fewer grains left this time. Using the scoop, the waffles came out just the right size. We ate the first two - the one that had fallen apart, and its nubby-edged friend. I was able to make nine more from the batter I had, so I stacked them in threes in a plastic bag separated by wax paper and put them in the fridge (and later the freezer).

Stay tuned for Part 2, in which I will be attempting to adjust the recipe to make the waffles not fall apart.

Monday, April 19, 2010

White Bean and Mushroom Stuffed Red Peppers

I made this white bean and mushroom stuffed red pepper dish a while ago, around the time I made the sauteed mushrooms alongside the pan-glazed tofu.  But I never wrote about it, and just found the pictures in my photo folder.

Why didn't I write about it?  Well, I didn't really like it.

Normally I wouldn't bother to post something I didn't like (unless there was a semi-interesting story/disaster involved).  But the thing about this was that it wasn't bad.  I wanted to like it.  I just don't think I like beans.  I want to like beans, which is why I made this in the first place.  And I might make it again, with WAY LESS beans, and I might like it like that.

If you like beans, though, I recommend that you try this.  I do love roasted red peppers and mushrooms.  There were enough flavors in this that I was able to eat it.  There was just something off for me, and it was the beans.  I never ate many beans at any point in my life, so maybe it is an acquired taste, in which case I hope I acquire a taste for the nutritious little buggers.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Turkey Couscous Meatloaves

For dinner I made Turkey Couscous Meatloaves.  This is one of many recipes that I find when perusing the vast depths of the internet instead of doing various relatively productive things.  I don't typically have an interest in anything named "meatloaf," or anything that is made primarily of meat, or anything that is made of turkey meat, but something about this appealed to me (probably the bacon and the glaze... more the fact that there IS a glaze rather than what the glaze is...) and for some reason, I happened to have a pound of ground turkey in the freezer, although I can't remember what possessed me to buy such a thing.

This was easy to make.  Granted, I did not shape any meatloaves, nor did I even defrost the meat.  That is not something I want to stick my hands in.  But that is why I have a live-in sous chef.  (Come to think of it, I did not chop the onions, I did not chop the sage... hmm, what DID I do?)

The cooked couscous helped to give the loaf more substance while the zucchini kept it very moist.  The bacon and glaze (essentially a barbecue sauce) gave it flavor, which ground turkey does not really possess on its own.

In an effort to make eating a pile of meat more appealing to me, I roasted some asparagus with a spray of olive oil, plus salt and pepper.  My oven was happy to multitask and waste less energy.  The asparagus was pretty good although it has been sitting in my fridge for several days.  I am sure looking forward to some fresh asparagus from a closer location than Mexico.

This recipe makes 4 loaves, and as there are only two of us, and I don't eat piles of meat often, I froze the other two.  I expect that they can be reheated in the oven and with a thermometer it would be easy to determine when they were done.  It will be nice to reach in and pull those out on a busy, exhausting day.  That is what the freezer is for.  After those two are gone, I might make this again, or maybe down the shore this summer for the family.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Multigrain Waffles

I just made the most delicious waffles.

I literally just made them.  I just finished the final waffle.  I ate two as I cooked.  Ken had the first two since he was rushing out the door and he said he wants to eat them every day.

I'm sure I have mentioned my excitement when there is a new blog post on 101 Cookbooks.  This one totally had me right from the picture (and title).  I decided last night that I would make it this morning for breakfast.

In addition to being delicious, it was easy.  (Giving yourself or your family a real home-cooked breakfast shouldn't be hard.)  Just mix the wet & dry ingredients separately, then add the wet to the dry and voila, waffle batter.

I have two favorite things about this recipe.  One is the buttermilk-soaked poppy seeds.  Heidi suggests that if you forget this step, you can just toss them in when you start to make the wet mix, but I think it was an important part of the recipe.  Soaking the poppy seeds prevented them from offering a distracting crunch and getting stuck in your teeth.  My second favorite thing is the combination of flours.  The recipe calls for barley, oat and rye flours, all whole grain flours, but they don't have that heaviness that whole wheat has.  I like to experiment with whole grain flours, but this recipe has given me more confidence to try some of these flours, especially the barley flour, in other recipes.

The recipe made quite a few waffles.  For my dinky little waffle maker, it made 15.  (I would like to see if I can find a more advanced yet affordable waffle maker to replace it, but for now it will do.)  Between the two of us we only ate 4, as normal people should, so the rest will be moving to their new temporary home in my freezer.  This way we can enjoy delicious waffles on any day of the week.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Aerogarden Update

My Aerogarden is growing pretty nicely.  The basil is totally out of control.  This picture was taken a few days ago, but now I am going to have to move the lights up before the top of the plant gets fried off.  I will probably have to prune/harvest this one soon!  The thyme is doing well too.  It actually looks like thyme already.  Mint and oregano are still babies.  Dill is a weird little thin sproutling.  And unfortunately it seems as though my chives have met an untimely death.  I can't find anything about this in the handbook, but the pod looks dry and dingy and decomposing.  There WAS a sprout there, but it might have suffocated itself or something.  Not sure what is going on with that.  Hopefully just a fluke, but everything else seems to be OK.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Asparagus Salad

 I had this post all set up and ready to go.  All it needed was a picture.  When I copy photos over from my camera to my "food" folder I name them things relevant to the recipe, and I number them in case I have more than one.  I named this photo "aspsalad1" for asparagus salad, #1.

Much to my surprise I was greeted by a message asking me to rename the photo, since one already existed with that name.  I thought, hmm, maybe I misnamed the broccoli salad.

But no.  Apparently I have made this before.  With the radishes, too.  Last August.  Why didn't I remember this?

I went back and read my post about it.  It turns out I didn't like the radishes and I undercooked the broccoli.

I think it's funny that I blocked it out like that.  I haven't been cooking long, and I haven't cooked much in that short amount of time, but I made the same dish twice without even realizing.

Anyway, I used the asparagus salad recipe from 101 Cookbooks.  I should not have bought broccoli and asparagus, because they are ALMOST in season here, but I was craving some vegetables.

I do not like radishes.  Somehow THIS I remembered, so I skipped them.  The dressing was the best part... pine nuts are delicious.

I ate this all by itself because I was too lazy to make a grain or pasta to go with it.  (I also ate the entire thing in one sitting.)  I think a handful or two of a small pasta shape would work well here.  It would also be fun to experiment with some other vegetables.

Maybe next time I will remember that I already made this and already posted about it...

Friday, April 9, 2010

Oatmeal Sandwich Bread

I had promised I had quite a few things to post about, and now here I am having gone four days without an update.  Oh well.

I am trying not to eat preservatives and other junk found in the processed foods at the store.  I have found a few brands of sandwich bread that are acceptable, but the last time I went to buy one they were not on the shelf.  (Granted, I will not pay full price for bread, especially the type of bread that I find acceptable, so they may have been on a shelf somewhere, but they were certainly not on the sale shelf.)

I have tried to make my own bread before, but I have since researched the difference between instant and active dry yeast (rookie baker mistake), so I gave it another go.  This time I used a recipe for Oatmeal Sandwich Bread from Good to the Grain, using active dry yeast.

Things went well at first.  I used an autolyse which gives the flour time to absorb or something.  (I don't know, I just followed the directions.  Note to self: learn what the hell you are actually doing.)  Then I had to let it rise for an hour.  Then I had to knead it a bit and fold it over on itself and put it in the pan to rise some more.

Here is where I ran into some trouble.  Maybe I need a bigger loaf pan, but I suspect the whole hour in the directions was too long for the second rise.  I should have kept a closer eye on it, because when I brought it out to go in the oven it was already bulging out of control.

I tried to scoop it back in a little, but it was a little too late.  I put it in the oven with a sheet pan on the rack below in case it fell that far.  (Luckily, it did not.)

In the oven, it grew more, as you can see from the photo.  For the whole 40 minutes of baking time I was nervous that it was going to get out of control and turn into some kind of bread monster.

When it came out of the oven, it had wrapped around the loaf pan.  As you can see, it was not sitting flat on the cooling rack since it had literally wrapped around the bottom of the pan.

The roughness you see is mostly wheat bran, which promptly fell off as I tried to find a way to remove the bread from the pan.

This was no easy task.  In the end the loaf pan had to be released from its yeasted prison by knife.

In the end, it looked mostly like a loaf of bread.  I would count it as a success, although it could be improved upon.

I sliced the bread the next day (sorry, no pictures) and made a sandwich using leftover spiral sliced ham from Easter, a slice of Swiss cheese, a romaine leaf or two, and some spicy brown mustard.  It was delicious, but crumbly.  The top part of the bread pretty much just fell off.  I would attribute this to the stress placed on that area by the excessive rise.  Oops.

The bread did taste good, at least as good as storebought bread, with the potential to be better.  I followed the recipe exactly which I do not think I will do again.  My main concern is the refined bread flour.  After a little bit of research I am going to try using white whole wheat flour in its place because, if the source was correct, it has a similar amount of protein to bread flour.  I would also like to try including some of the multigrain flour mix, the recipe for which is also in this book.  I think it would be fun to add some different flavors in the mix.

When you take into account how little time you are spending actually doing work, bread making goes fairly quickly.  Now I can't wait for tomato season so I can have my favorite sandwich, BLTs, on my homemade bread!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Today for lunch I made a delicious salad with baby spinach, sliced strawberries, a handful of sliced almonds, and a honey balsamic vinaigrette (the recipe: 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp balsamic, generous squeeze of honey, at least 1 tsp).

Sorry there are no pictures, but it looked so good I totally forgot about it.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Aerogarden update!

It has been 2 weeks since planting and everything in my Aerogarden has officially sprouted.  The basil is going insane.  The thyme is looking healthy as well.  Everything else is pretty tiny still, but should be getting bigger soon.

I have quite a few things to post about in the next few days so get excited!  (I'm probably speaking only to myself though, since no one actually reads this... please let me know if you do!)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My Daily Plate

I have been tracking my calories for the past few days - not something I planned to do long term, but I wanted to get a better idea of what I was eating, as I suspected it was too much. (I was right!)

Overall, I try to eat a lot of fruit, vegetables and whole grains. When I tracked my calories, I discovered that I wasn't eating a lot of any of those things. Whole grain flours, yes - in the form of high-calorie muffins and scones. One or two pieces of fruit a day, and maybe two cups of vegetables.

I thought I would find that I wasn't eating enough protein, but I was surprised to find otherwise. However, I did eat a little more meat (chicken) this week than I think I normally do. Surprisingly though, a little yogurt has a lot of protein, and there is also protein in other places you wouldn't really expect it - plus my Silk soymilk, which I use in my coffee, is high in protein as well.

The main thing I learned from my little experiment is that I eat too much of just about everything. Time to practice portion control! But I am done keeping track of my calories. It's all about making good choices.