Friday, December 21, 2012

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Pancakes

It's not secret that I love breakfast food. Lately, I have been posting more breakfast recipes (here and here), especially pancakes. Am I overdoing it? I think not, because if pancakes (and oatmeal!) were to provide all the vitamins and minerals, I would have them for every meal. There are millions of pancake recipes out there, each one claims to be the fluffiest. I tried many of those recipes, and I found the Joy of Cooking pancake recipe to be the best one out there.

I began my Christmas break earlier this week. What a relief after 17 weeks of community rotation in Huntington, West Virginia. Although I longed for the break, the dietetic internship is not half way done yet. Food service rotation is next when I return in January, not the scope of dietetics I want to get into but I am curious to see what it will bring.

This recipe was adapted from Minimal Baker's Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Oatmeal Pancakes. My version of these pancakes is not vegan, but they did taste like moist and chewy chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. Cookie for breakfast? Yes, unlike certain name brand's breakfast cookies, these pancakes have substance. When made with love and care, topped with real maple syrup, now that's a real breakfast.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Pancakes
Makes 10 pancakes

1/2 cup apple sauce
2 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons almond butter
3 tablespoons butter, melted and at room temperature
1 cup milk or soy milk
1 cup rolled oats (old-fashioned oats are fine, see special instructions below)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat a skillet to medium heat.
2. Combine apple sauce with baking powder, add eggs, butter, salt, vanilla, almond butter, milk. Stir to combine well.
3. Stir in oats. If using old-fashioned oats, let mixture stand for 10 minutes and add more milk as needed.
4. Stir in flour and chocolate chips until just combined.
5. Scoop scant 1/4 cup measurements onto lightly greased skillet.
6. Cook for 2-4 minutes on each side. May take longer than regular pancakes.
7. Serve warm with real maple syrup.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Guinness Beef Stew

First of all, my heart and thoughts go out to those who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School. 
When it happened, I was teaching a group of kindergardener. 
Throughout the semester, I have spent a lot of time teaching children in school. 
It breaks my heart. 
While I was sick lying on the couch on Friday and watching the news, I cried and cried.

The other day I made Guinness beef stew. Comfort, hearty, and hot stew with a slice of homemade bread, cues the sickness. A great soup always starts with the holy trinity also known as mirepoix as the base flavor along with the browned meat bits on the bottom of soup pot.

The secrets to beautiful browned meat? Room temperature meat and hot pan. Otherwise you will end up with puddle of meat liquid and zero browning, I learned the lesson the hard way. Browning also gives this flavor essence, the brown bits, that will later build a nice meaty flavor for the stew.

Stews are perfect for a rainy and winter day like today. I started off the weekend with the flu, I drove two hours with a fever. It was not fun. I did not have the appetite for anything. Jake heated up a small bowl of this stew and made me eat it, surprisingly I finished it and asked for more. Let's call it, Guinness Beef Stew for the soul sick. Move over chicken noodle soup.

Ta Da!
(My apology! I will post a more "formal" picture of the finish product update tomorrow)

*Note: I added some leftover sauteed swiss chard into the stew pictured above. That's why there's rhubarb-looking vegetable in my bowl.

Guinness Beef Stew

1.5 pound chuck or round beef, 1/2-inch cubes and room temperature
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 cup onions, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
1 medium potato, diced
1 28-oz canned diced tomato, drained
1 bottle Guinness
6 cups beef broth
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil Dutch Oven over medium high, brown meat on all sides. Don't crowd the pot, work in batches if needed. Set beef aside when done.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in the same Dutch Oven, cook onion, carrots, and potato until translucent. About 10 minutes. Add Guinness, broth, and tomato. Return beef to pot. Add bay leaf.
3. Simmer stew for 1 hour or until beef is very tender. Season as needed
4. Slurp the stew on a cold winter day.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Getting Ready for the Holiday

Last Saturday Jake and I went to see the second annual Christmas tree lighting on Ashland lawn. It was beautiful. The event has now become our annual holiday tradition. Even with the rain, the Christmas caroling, jolly spirits of the gathering crowd, being with my love ones, brought little tears to my eyes.

I have been busy wrapping up the first semester of the dietetic internship. I just finished a two-weeks rotation at a surgical weight loss medical facility, and now I am teaching middle school students and kindergarteners. A break is much needed after months of hard work. Between working and finishing up papers, I managed to wrapped presents and begin a holiday tradition: making cookies.

In the previous years, I have not made much Christmas cookies because I always ended up being the only one decorating, baking, and cleaning up. (Holler if you know what I mean). I finally had the cookie party that I have always wanted. Even better if I can host a cookie swap party someday.

Although the cold weather and Christmas are coming up way too fast, I enjoy making new recipes of hearty hot soups. (Guinness Beef Stew for next post)

Oh and I stocked up on bags of fresh cranberries, got to love post-Thanksgiving food sale.

Off to the next case study...till then. Stay warm.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Whole Wheat Lemon Soy Pancakes

This is the sight that always makes me happy on a Sunday morning:

Sky high stack of pancakes and warm real maple syrup.

I have been on a breakfast recipe kick lately, mostly because it's the best meal of the day. Call me boring, but 5 days of the week I have oatmeal for every breakfast. I love it, and I look forward it when I go to bed. Especially tomorrow's oatmeal has pumpkin puree, flaxseed, and crasins!

Sunday mornings are "special breakfast Sundays", which means I make something delicious to get the week started. Pancakes are the usually favorite around the house. A couple months ago, 8th continent Soymilk has kindly send me some soymilk to use in my recipes.

Growing up, we always made our own soy milk using raw soybeans. We boil and simmer the soybeans with water in a large stock pot, strain the liquid through a cheese cloth, then mix it well in a blender. The homemade soy milk was thinner because we didn't fortify it with other vitamins/minerals like the ones sold in United States. (Remember to shake up the soy milk before pouring because the added vitamins and minerals, mainly calcium, tend to stay on the bottom!) Nowadays there's vanilla, chocolate, lowfat, and more kinds of flavor than I knew. This 8th Continent Soymilk tastes delicious  and reminds me of what I used to have at home, like real soy milk.

This dairy-free recipe is adapted from my favorite pancake recipe from Joy of Cooking. With a splash of lemon juice and some lemon zest added to the batter, the soy milk flavor stands out. In Jake's words "These are the best pancakes I've ever had. This recipe is a keeper!"

Whole Wheat Lemon Soy Pancakes
Makes about 10 pancakes

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 3/4 tablespoons baking powder
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, room temperature
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 cup 8th Continent Soymilk, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest

1. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, oil, soy milk, vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest; mix well. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Mix with a few strokes, until just combined with some lumps. Don't over mix.
2. Scoop 1/4 cup of batter at a time on a heated skillet. Wait until bubbles in batter, about 2 minutes, flip over for another 1 minute. 
3. Serve warm with real maple syrup.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Turkey and Sage Biscuits Casserole

Anyone tired of Thanksgiving leftover yet?

Today marks the 4th consecutive day of me eating a Thanksgiving meal for dinner.
I think I could eat a whole Thanksgiving meal again tomorrow, because that's how much I love Thanksgiving. I practically ate the whole pot of cranberry sauce right after I made it.

I guess the only thing I hate about the big meal is dealing with the carcass. I absolutely hate shredding/pulling meat, like shredding chicken for tacos and getting all the meat off the turkey. I hate doing that. Thank goodness Jake was kind enough to do this one abhorring and mundane task. The carcass sat in my fridge until Sunday when I finally took the time to make at least 5 quarts of stock out of it.

Numerous food bloggers and recipe websites have posted on what to do with Thanksgiving leftovers, me included came up with a recipe.

This biscuits over turkey leftover is an idea from Jake's family. I bought a package of fresh sage for the turkey, and used the remaining for these savory biscuits. The flaky texture of the biscuits contrast well with the soft texture of the leftover turkey mix.

Turkey and Sage Biscuits Casserole
See this post for biscuits recipe. Add a tablespoon (or more for taste) of finely chopped fresh sage to when mixing dry and wet ingredients.
(or use pre-made biscuit dough)

1/2 cup gravy
3/4 cup turkey stock
1-2 cups shredded turkey
1 cup stuffing
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped onions

1. In a sauce pan, combine gravy and turkey stock. Bring to boil and simmer until liquid thickens. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Meanwhile, in a large pan, heat oil and add in celery, carrots, and onions. Cook for 10 minutes or until slightly softened. Add turkey and stuffing. Cook for another 10 minutes.
3. Add sauce to the turkey mixture in the large pan, mix until well combined. Transfer into a 13 x 9 baking pan. 
4. Arrange biscuits evenly over the turkey mixture, about 15 biscuits. Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes or until the bottom of biscuits are not doughy.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancake


I have a new addiction this fall season.

It's pumpkin.


I can't seem to get enough of it.

Since fall season started, I have made numerous pumpkin pudding, pumpkin pies, pumpkin oatmeal, and now pumpkin pancake. Something about this vibrant orange color vegetable and its subtle sweetness that capture my taste buds this year. I wish I have the time and effort to make homemade pumpkin puree all the time. Canned pumpkin always tastes....tasteless. The canned pumpkin mix tastes even worse, trust me, I accidentally bought a can once.


This recipe calls for 1 cup of pumpkin puree, which works well since I had half of a large can of pumpkin puree in the refrigerator.

I love the cinnamon, ginger, and other spices that goes in this pancake batter. The pancakes taste like pumpkin pie, and they are even better with warm (real!) maple syrup and a mug of hot black coffee. Hmmm...this is why I love breakfast food. Brinner, anyone?


Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancake
Makes 8-10 pancakes
(Recipe adapted from New South Food Company)

1.5 cups Whole wheat flour
1.5 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons Brown Sugar
4 teaspoon Pumpkin Spice (Or 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, 1/4 teaspoon allspice, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg)
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup Milk
1 cup Pumpkin Puree
1 Egg
2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1. In a bowl, mix together the milk, pumpkin, egg and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin spice and salt. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix.
2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake and spread out with a spoon. Wait till large bubbles start to appear in the middle and flip. Brown on both sides and serve hot.
3. Serve warm with real maple syrup.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Turkey Day 2012 - II

After following to my week of carefully-planned and elaborate Thanksgiving meal, the dinner was a success. The week started with preparing the essentials and endless mise en place.


This was the first year I brined the turkey. The brine consisted of rosemary, thyme, sage, apple cider. Then of course, the fundamental of any brine, kosher salt, sugar, and water.


The science behind brining is tricky, there should be equal parts of salt and sugar, and the amount of water should be enough to cover the bird without diluting the brine. This birdie sat in the brine for 24 hours before I roasted it. The work was worth it.


I began preparing for the feast starting Tuesday. Everything homemade from cranberry sauce to two types of pies, cranberry-pear and pumpkin. Yes, it was a lot of work and timing, but the taste afterwards and hearing the "hmmm and ahhhs" after the initial bites was well worth the effort. 



The bird came out perfect, golden browned and juicy.


The feast included brussel sprouts with bacon, wild rice with cranberry and walnut dressing, Parmesan asparagus, homemade yeast roll, cranberry sauce, and rosemary roasted potato.


The night included second and third trip back to the food, and 2 pieces of pies. 

I love hosting dinner parties, especially Thanksgiving. My tiny round dining table in my little apartment sits 4 people, and somehow I fitted 6 people around the table. I sat on an exercise ball and Jake sat on a fold-up camping chair, while our guests sat on the dining chairs. Regardless, I was thankful for the opportunity to cook and my guests. One of these days, I will have matching dining set, servewares, and a large dinning table for more Thanksgiving feasts to come.

See this post for all recipes

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Turkey Day 2012

My favorite holiday is finally approaching. This would be my third year hosting a Thanksgiving meal, needless to say, I already got the menu planned.

When it comes to complicated and multiple courses dinners, I like to keep the dishes simple. This year I decided I did not want additives in my turkey, I want a real turkey. The Fresh Market offers naturally-raised fresh turkey, and even though the price is 4 times more than those in grocery store's deep freezers, I believe in paying a higher price for that a-ha gourmet moment.

Here's the countdown for Turkey Day:

Pick up turkey and buy rest of the ingredients. This includes the essential CCO (celery, carrots, and onion, that is).

Make brine with apple cider and herbs
Make pie crust
Make turkey broth
Mise en place CCO like no other

To stuff or not to stuff, it's always a dilemma. Here's a article on this, and I decided not to stuff by making Wild Rice Dressing ahead of time.
Make Pear-Cranberry Pie with Oatmeal Streusel
Make Basic Cranberry Sauce
Brine turkey for at least 12 hours (How to Brine a Turkey)

Turkey Trot 5K!
Remove turkey from brine 1 hour before roasting
Season turkey and prepare for roasting (Roast Turkey with Sage Pan Gravy)
Patiently wait for turkey to roast until 165 degrees (food safety!)
Make sage gravy while turkey rests

Be thankful (if) everything went well and my oven didn't break down
Be thankful my guests are bringing side dishes

Carve, eat, take pictures, eat, and eat again

Monday, November 12, 2012

Kentucky Food Blogger Dinner Party

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You know when you are at a food blogger event when they...
A) Talk about their favorite foods and best restaurants in town.
B) Must take several pictures before, during, and after a dish is served (with one or more form of digital equipment)
C) Talk about their recently discovery on the best recipe of___________
D) All of the above.

I attended my first Kentucky Food Bloggers get-together this past Saturday. The dinner party was hosted by Kate Horning of Simply Nutritious by Kate and Chef Bryan at Kitchen Concept. Throughout the night, Kate and Bryan made dishes inspired by their worldly travels and love for ethnic cuisine. Wildside Winery from Versailles, Kentucky was also at the event to do wine pairing.

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The evening started off with Seared Tofu with Kale. All fresh ingredients were locally grown and/or made. At one point in the evening, Kate asked us what is our favorite vegetable. A question in which I have not thought of, but somehow I knew I dislike raw celery.

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The second dish was Shrimp and Grits, a dish that is hardly heard of up north in Wisconsin. The only grits experience I had before moving to Kentucky was the "grits" served in college dorm cafeteria. After first bite of cheesy and garlic-ful grits at Billy's BBQ, I am in love. Although I was a bit embarrassed to admitted that I never made grits before when the discussion on how to make grits was going on. Using traditional Southern style of making shrimp and grits, and combining with Japanese seasoning, this dish was my favorite of all.

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Then using a fall classic ingredient, butternut squash, along with some Jamaican curry, came this Curry Squash Soup Shooters. The soup was thick and spicy with a hint of sweetness from the butternut squash, while the sour cream "cools" off the heat.

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The night finished off with Creole Veggie Burger made from red kidney beans, rosemary, chipotle perppers, and Creole spice. The patties were served over whole wheat baguette and drizzled with honey-based sauce to balance the flavorful spice. Then Hot Banana over Vanilla Ice Cream, a simple banana foster-like dessert with ginger and red pepper flakes.

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I had an awesome time at the dinner party. Besides the delicious food, it was great finally meeting some Kentucky food bloggers in person, and learning what made them become interested in food and blogging. I got to share my passion for food and restaurant anecdotes. It was the one place I did not felt awkward having my camera and taking pictures before every bite because that was expected.

This is how food bloggers roll.

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Monday, November 5, 2012

Real Pumpkin Pie

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October went by like a flash. Pumpkin carving, chocolate binging, and "Nightmare Before Christmas" seemed like a long time ago. Last week I began my rotation at a long-term care facility. So far I have been making nutrition assessments on the residents and developing nutrition care plan. Even though I love being able to finally do what I am trained for, there are some cases at the long-term care that make me sad. There was a lady who holds a baby doll as if its real. I am just hoping I don't become one of the residents in the future.

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When I took my mom pumpkin picking during her visit to Lexington, she asked how come we can't eat the Jack O' Laterns that we carved. Hmmm...why can't we? I know that pie (sugar) pumpkins are sweeter and these are the preferred ones for eating. There are numerous blogs out there discussing how to make pumpkin puree from pie pumpkins. While pie pumpkins have thicker flesh and obviously sweeter, the carving ones have less desirable texture and flavor that is hit-or-miss.

I got some un-carving pumpkins just sitting around, maybe an experiment sometime?

A couple weeks ago I was pretty excited to see pie pumpkins in my CSA box. Of all the squashes out there, I have not had pie pumpkins before. This was the first time I made pumpkin pie with Real pumpkins. Real, not canned!

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It was the best pumpkin pie I have ever had. One small step I missed was to puree the flesh. Regardless, the pie came heavenly delicious and reminded me why I love fall.

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Real Pumpkin Pie

2 small or 1 medium pie pumpkins 
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 can (12-oz) fat-free or low-fat evaporated milk
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon groupd clove
1 pate brisee (pie crust)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut pumpkins in half, cut the stem, and scrape out the insides. Place pumpkins skin side up on a baking sheet. Bake for one hour or until tender. Remove from oven, let cool, and scope out the flesh. Place flesh in a food processor, process until smooth and pureed consistency. 
2. Combine all spices (from cinnamon to nutmeg) in a small bowl, set aside. Combine pumpkin puree, sugar, evaporated milk, eggs, lemon zest together in a mixing bowl. Add in spice. Mix until just combined.
3. Pour into pie shell. Bake pie for 15 minutes at 450 degrees. Then reduce the temperature to 350 and bake for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

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