Monday, August 21, 2017

Whole30 Eve

Certainly not as exciting as Christmas Eve, but I probably ate the same amount of sugar, ha! I came home and Mr. More Calories had bought baked goods from our favorite bakery. And I couldn't let him get a stomach ache from eating them all! Then I cleaned out the cabinet to hide my remaining snacks, and a few of them looked so tasty.... which is why they are now hidden from me. I routinely grab for them while hungry and cooking.

Recipes are pinned, foods are purchased, meal plan is roughly made. Time to see how this goes!

And before you feel the least bit worried for me, I live in a place where this will be about as easy as it could be. Even at work I have several places nearby where I could buy ok salads, as long as I keep some dressing on hand for myself, so I will.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Whole30 whys

Well, I've decided to start the Whole30 in two weeks, once I'm back from a trip, and I think that having a place to update daily will help me. So here I am, reviving this blog, at least for a month.

The 'why' part - I think I eat pretty well. I probably get too much sugar regularly. And I know I need more vegetables. But the big reasons for me are a couple of nagging health issues that are maybe food related. Maybe not. Which is why I haven't tried before. So I wanted to try an elimination diet to see, and this one is popular enough that it's a lot easier to find recipes!

I've already started pinning recipes, which I'll add here, and making menus. I can share those, too. Then I'll just need to put it all in action! Wooo!

One of my sisters is joining this quest, she already likes the whole30 and has done it twice! Even though she has to make other food for he kids! I'm pretty lucky to just be cooking for (and with) my partner who has agreed to eat whole30 at home. And we live in a big city with lots of healthy stores and even a few restaurants where you can eat on the whole30! We're really pretty spoiled. Oh, AND I've already recruited 5 cheerleaders for when I forget why I'm doing this.

So there you have it. I'm basically a wimp when it comes to food even though I'm super lucky with this. Now I think I'll go prepare by eating more of that chocolate in the cabinet....

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Banana Walnut Cake - Nostalgic Kitchen

I really like old cookbooks. I don't mean from 2000 or even 1980. My favorites are from around the 1900s and use terms like "teaspoonfulls" instead of just teaspoons. Since a lot of them are now public domain, you can even find them for free online! They are fun because of the recipes, too. I mean, at the time they didn't have the same kinds of refrigeration or access to fresh produce that we do, or pre-processed things like 'boneless skinless chicken breast,' which is certainly a staple in my modern American kitchen.

Another fun kind is from fundraisers and church groups. The other day I was at Goodwill looking for props for a photo booth. I got a great scarf and a foam hand and over-sized martini glasses, and picked up a Cookbook from the San Antonio Orchestra's Women's group, published in 1963. Sometimes even the descriptions are funny, like Crepes Suiza, which they call the French version of enchiladas but then note that the recipe comes from Mexico City. When I googled the name, I got several pages in Spanish, like this recipe.

I decided to put my fascination with these to good use by including them on the blog, with the tag "nostalgic kitchen." This is the first, and if I stay interested, with enough free time, many more will follow! Of course, my soft spot is sweet things. For my first test, I decided to try Banana Walnut Cake, a simple dessert. The directions are very simple, even if not in the order I would expect.
Cream the butter and sugar? Yes, normal. Add baking soda and buttermilk at the same time? Ok.... but then the flour, vanilla, bananas and nuts at once?? And why fold it, instead of just stir in? Doesn't seem like it would mix right, but I did it anyway.

Since this was just a test recipe, and it has more butter than I would usually put in a recipe. I made just a half batch instead of adjusting things like crazy. It says to bake it in 2 pans (what size? I guess that's up to you? Or maybe you should just know??) but I made it as cupcakes and it filled 8 cupcake cups.

They look pretty good! They feel really soft, taking them out of the tin, and are nice and brown on top. Most of them have dimples in the middle, like they are undercooked, but a toothpick came out clean, so I'm calling it good.

Banana Walnut Cake

(Half recipe, with re-interpreted directions.)

1/4 c butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup white sugar
2 Tbs buttermilk
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 egg
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup mashed banana (about 1 medium banana)
1/2 cup walnuts, in large pieces

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F, grease muffin tin
  2. Cream the butter and sugar
  3. Add buttermilk, blend, and then mix in egg, then mashed banana
  4. Add flour and baking soda, stir to combine
  5. Stir in walnuts
  6. Pour batter into muffin tin to fill each about 2/3 full
  7. Bake at 350º F for 20-25 minutes, or until tops are brown and toothpick in center comes out clean
Nutrition info: Calories - 238;   Fat - 11g;    Carbs - 32g;    Fiber - 1g;    Protein - 3g
(Mr. More Calories loves that I didn't decrease the butter or walnuts, but we're not all triathletes! Hoping for something similar, but a little healthier? Try this banana bread, without the coconut!)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Gluten-free Shortbread Cookies

New experiment! I found a recipe here that looked worth trying, but couldn't resist tweaking it by adding in some almond butter. Since I was a little skeptical, I planned to make a 1/3 batch. In fact, I added the butter as if it were a 1/3 batch. And just realized that I only halved the rest of it... I should know better than to not write it all down! So now I understand why I had to add more moisture.

I also was skeptical of the cook temp/time. She says 300º for 20-30 minutes, but that surprised me. Since we had lasagna in the oven at the same time, I did half of them at the typical 350º for 20 minutes, and the other half at 300º for 25 minutes.

And good news! They turned out! The temperature really didn't seem to matter and there wasn't even a coffee flavor from my chosen milk substitute. In my opinion, they were VERY dry. Too dry. I guess because of all of the corn starch, so if I experiment again I will be sure not to use such a starchy recipe. They might be good with tea or coffee, I'll try that tomorrow.

Here's what I did in full batch amounts, in case you are feeling adventurous, too:

Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookies
Makes 32 cookies. 10 minutes to blend, 60 to chill, 20 to cook

1/2 cup cornstarch
1 cup brown rice flour (you can make your own!)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
6 Tbs butter, room temperature
2 Tbs almond butter
3 Tbs milk/replacement (approximate! I used a protein-enriched coffee dairy drink)

1. Sift together the cornstarch, rice flour and powdered sugar.
2. Cut in the butter and almond butter with a pastry blender (or knife and fork, that's what I had) at first, then mix with a big fork or a spoon.
3. Add in liquid about  teaspoon at a time and stir well between additions. You want JUST enough liquid to make it stick together.
4. Make a 'log' of cookie dough down the center of a piece of plastic wrap and roll up. Chill for AT LEAST an hour. These don't get as firm as typical shortbread cookies because of the lower butter content. They are a bit lower in fat, though!
5. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Parchment paper makes them easier to remove from the pan.
6. Let cool at least 10 minutes and enjoy!

Nutrition info per 3 cookies: 116 Calories, 5.8g Fat, 15.4g Carbs, 1.3g protein

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The bounty of the CSA!

When I was in Morocco I ate loads of really fresh, really local produce. Local produce is cheaper and better quality there, so there is no good reason to go to the grocery store and pay more for an inferior product. Unless you really don't feel like talking to someone that day, then it's understandable. Or you can skip the produce all together.

I missed all of that deliciousness after I got home and decided to seriously splurge on food: I got a CSA subscription. Ours delivers for only $3 extra per box, which is totally worth it to forgetful me and Mr. More Calories. I love opening the box and seeing what I am going to try to incorporate into our meals. Sometimes I really don't know and I give stuff away. It's super fun to me! So this week I cleaned off the counter and laid out our beautiful bounty before using any of it.

Mr. More Calories accused me of using too much flash. I pointed out that it is NOT flash, it's the reflection of our lights!

If you're curious, starting in the top row we have:
"Summer mix" squash (I like the fun green-tipped yellow ones!)
(Row Two:) Slicing cucumber, green beans, rainbow chard
(Row Three:) Leeks, banana peppers, orange and red carrots, flat parsley.

Actually, I should go throw some of that parsley into the lasagna MMC is making...

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Baba a l'orange - Or an easy, fancy-seeming French dessert

Last week I was watching a French competition show, "Who will be the next great pastry chef." I *love* it, it's a Top Chef kind of set up, with 15 or so people competing to be a master chef. I forget what the prize is, they don't repeat it ten trillion times. I happen to like the French version better because each episode is 2.5 hours, giving them time to really describe what's going on. They are also much less bitchy and dramatic, which is a nice change. With YouTube's 'watch later' function, I can easily pause when I have to do Real Things and then come back when I have time again.

The classic of this is Baba au rhum, which is a cake that is allowed to sponge up a rum and simple syrup mixture. And I didn't have any rum. I like it well enough, but apparently I am more likely to buy tequila and vodka. Luckily, I also had orange liqueur, purchased to go with that tequila in a delicious margarita. Ah, summer!

This is a good dessert to make because it's simple, yet impressive-sounding. Plus the alcohol is added to a syrup that the cake is soaked in once everything is a bit cool, leaving it very noticeable! You could also use maple syrup if you prefer, I just wouldn't use so much. Oooooh, or coffee! Or coffee with kahlua and Bailey's.... I may need to make this again next week.

It was very simple to make, but at stages it was very surprising, too. The 'dough' at one point looked like Gak - that stretchy putty/clay stuff they sold on Nickelodeon when I was a kid. But it turned out delicious, so do not worry! Check out the original in the book for how to make it in a stand mixer, I used a hand mixer and detail that below.

Baba à l'orange (based on Dorie Greenspan's "Paris Sweets" recipe)
Makes 12 mini cakes     Bake time: 30 minutes      Prep time: 30 minutes    Wait time:  30 minutes
Total time: 90 minutes or less

1/3 cup water, room temperature
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) yeast
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, room temperature
6 tablespoons unsalted butter

- Butter a 12-muffin muffin tin and set it aside. Melt butter and allow to cool while you do the next few steps.
- Stir water, yeast and sugar together in a deep bowl, that is unlikely to let things be 'thrown' by your mixer. (I ended up with dough all over!) Once the yeast is dissolved, add the flour and salt. Use the dough attachments to beat on medium low for two minutes, until the ingredients look like they are holding together more than falling apart. Mine varied in size from peas to tablespoons.
- Switch to the regular beater attachments. Add two eggs and beat on low for 3 minutes. Add the other two eggs and beat on low until they are incorporated, and turn up to medium for as long as you can. The dough was really climbing my beaters at this point, so even with pushing it down it only lasted about 1 1/2 minutes.
- Add the cooled butter and beat for as long as you can stand, up to five minutes. I probably lasted 1 minute here because the dough climbed the beaters almost into the motor!

This is when the dough was gak-like. The picture below is not an action shot, it really held together like that! It was hard to even separate some to put into the tin.

- Divide the gak 'batter' among the muffin tins, which will be 1/3-1/2 full. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 25-30 minutes.
- When almost risen, place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350ºF.
- Uncover the tin, and place in the oven. Prop the oven door open with a then wooden spatula or other heat-proof utensil. Bake for 23-28 minutes, or until golden brown. (Make the booze syrup while they bake!)
- When done, place tin on cooling rack. Let cool in tin for 5 minutes, then turn out to cool completely.

1 1/4 cup water
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup orange liqueur (Make sure you like the way it tastes! I used good stuff) (Of course, you could replace this with a lower amount of any flavoring you like.)

- Bring the water and sugar to a low boil in a saucepan. Pour the syrup into a deep bowl and allow to cool until just before you want to soak the cakes. The deep bowl is important to make soaking the cakes easier.
- Right before soaking, add the liqueur to the syrup and stir well.

To soak:
- Poke each cake 5-10 times with a toothpick, to help it absorb the syrup.
- Put each cake into the syrup and flip a few times, letting soak for about a minute each.
- Repeat with all of the cakes. If there is any syrup left, spoon it over the top of them!

Extra syrup spooned over the top, in a pan to help it all stay in
That's it! You can fill them with whipped cream if you like, but we enjoyed them as-is. Mr. More Calories was surprised at how different they are from things he's had before. I admit that they were time consuming, but very easy!

Monday, April 7, 2014

However you want' em brownies!

I love the cocoa brownie recipe from Smitten Kitchen, most of all because it's so flexible. I've done loads of adjusting to this recipe for different reasons, but here's the way I made it tonight that has be excited again. The texture turned out pretty darn great - thick and fudgy - even though I used whey protein, which can make baked goods too cakey. I added some ground chia to combat that, since it absorbs water, and I think it worked!

However you want 'em cocoa brownies
Serves 16-25

1/4 c brewed coffee
5 T butter, melted
5 T applesauce (or yogurt, mashed banana, or pumpkin - each gives a slightly different texture and flavor)
3/4 plus 2 T cocoa
1/4 t salt
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c honey
2 T chia seeds, ground
2 eggs
1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder (27-30g)
3 T white whole wheat flour

Pre-heat oven to 325º F. Grease 8x8 pan
Melt butter. Grind chia seeds (in blender or coffee grinder). Mix first 8 ingredients (to chia.)
Add eggs, blend.
Add whey protein and flour and mix JUST until combined.
Bake at 325ºF for 35 (30-40) minutes until a toothpick inserted center keeps the brownie color, but doesn't look wet.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Chocolate Beet Brownies with extra protein!

Since I mostly put these up for me (notice there aren't any ads?) and I'm spending way too much time in front of a computer lately, I figured that I will put things up without pretty writing around it.

Goal: Treats that are food, not sugar and empty calories. More 'real' food and protein here.
Ingredients to use: Beets and chocolate

Inspiration recipes:

Chocolate Beet Brownies (cakey!)
Serves: 12-16

130g beets (3 small beets, about 1.5 cups of my shred)
1/2c unsweetened applesauce
2 eggs
2T olive oil
1/4 c maple syrup
2 scoops (54 g) vanilla whey protein
1/2c cocoa
1/2t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/4c white whole wheat flour
1/4 c mini chocolate chips

1. Grate the beets. Mine were finely grated. Preheat oven to 350 and grease a baking pan (8x8, 9x9 or 11x7 should all work)
2. Mix wet ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
4. Add dry to wet, mix to combine.
5. Bake at 350 for 25 min (or til toothpick is clean!)

Nutrition facts for bar 1/12th of recipe: Cal - 97     Fat - 4.2g      Carbs - 11.7g     Protein - 5.5g

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Quick Vegan Lentil TVP bolognese

I am a fan of both lentils and TVP to sub for ground beef. But either can get boring. Lentils have a nice texture, but... I don't know, they just aren't quite right. And TVP doesn't have quite enough bite to it for me. Luckily Mr. More Calories brought me some TVP from home and it's probably enough to last me comfortably for the next two months, hooray!

Tonight I thought about blending the two. I've been working harder to prepare things ahead here because there are so few convenience foods that I want to eat. Yes, there is plenty of inexpensive street food, but a lot of it is so salty and meat-based and it's just not what I want to be eating. I don't even like to eat at restaurants often at home. I keep frozen lentils on hand here because they take a while to cook, and it's not that much longer to cook 3 cups than it is to cook the one half I might possibly eat. If you drain them well before freezing, they are really easy to break up without thawing, too.

btw, yes, the name bolognese means it's got meat in Italian, but it's meat-substitute, right? Good enough for me.

Quick Lentil TVP Bolognese
Serves: 1

1/4 cup cooked lentils
3 T tomato paste
1/4 t salt (or to taste)
1/2 t basil
1/2 t oregano
1/8 t paprika
dash cayenne
2/3 c water

Put everything into a sauce pan and heat over medium until hot.

I ate this with about a cup and a half of spiral pasta. I don't know the proper names for it, but it held the lentils and TVP really well!

Nutrition info: Cal - 250   Fat - 1g    Protein - 21g    Carbs - 42g

Monday, October 14, 2013

New recipe try - but fail

I went to start lunch at 11:40.
Kinda later than I meant, but still before I was actually hungry.
Put the pot on with water for lentils (b/c I had looked up a decent soup recipe) and then got out the lentils to sort them.
Sorting them is important always, according to my mom, but I have definitely found rocks, etc in them here.
I noticed some sort of white speckling on them, but honestly didn't think much. Picked out two rocks.
Until I saw a dead bug. The kind I've seen on my bottom shelf and put bags, etc around the sugar, flour and cookies to combat.
But it wasn't in the sugar/flour/cookies, maybe because they were protected. It was dead. In the lentils.
Didn't think much, continued, and saw second Mr. Dead Bug. Probably Ms, actually.
Then I looked more closely at the speckles because they certainly weren't there before.
And at the bag of lentils, about 2/3 full. And could see from the outside many other nasty, annoying dead bugs. And lots of holey lentils.
So apparently there is some kind of little weevil thing that likes lentils and other 'pulses.' Jerks.
Googled it, apparently those speckles are eggs and the holes may have more. Or, better yet, larvae.
Some people say cook it and they'll be dead, you can skim them off.
Or freeze 48 hours to kill them, then sort, cook and eat as usual.
Lentils into trash. Next bag will be stored in freezer, as this is apparently a decent option and it's not like you can buy a lot of frozen foods here anyway.
Ate tuna melt, particularly pleased that I had though to pick up tuna on the way home last night.
And more than a bit grossed out by the lentil guys.

What would you have done?