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.

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