Turkalurk and friendy musings

Turkalurk time. Obviously I have to do a Thanksgiving post, with Thanksgiving being… you know… FOOD related. But guess what?! Something waaay more exciting than Thanksgiving happened on Thanksgiving: I got to see one of my best friends, who I haven’t seen in fifteen years! Yep, you read that right: fifteen.

We’re adorable. I know, you’re just jealous.

We were best friends in second grade (for 9 months) and then she moved back to Korea. But we’re awesome, and we stayed friends. And then she nicely said she’d come visit me over here on the west coast when she was studying abroad. Wheeeeee friendy time! That meant I got to be all touristy and show her around the city. AND we got to hang out with our second grade teacher, who is beyond fabulous and one of the most wonderful people I know.

So we had mega fun and I was busy busy working the Black Friday madness of shopping. WHY people shop that day is beyond me, don’t you want to just stay home and digest your turkey? Whatever.

Anyway. So here are your pumpkin biscuits, courtesy of my Thanksgiving linner (lunch-dinner, get it?). They’re vegan, ish. Because I’m currently off eggs due to some egg/gluten allergy testing, which is LAME: you’ll likely be seeing some allergy-friendly posts coming your way.

Side note. Why is it that both my cats reach up to paw my face when I’m blogging?? Tonight it’s Jessie: is she taking lessons from Nosh?!  I’m assuming this means they’re miffed I don’t feature them in every post… or that they’ve been learning from Simon’s cat…

Enough of my tangents! Here is the recipe :)

Pumpkin Biscuits

Recipe ever so slightly adapted from Crepes of Wrath! My yield was 14 biscuits, but they were rather flatish… if you want fluffier ones, I suggest not rolling the dough out as thin as I did. I chilled mine for a bit before baking due to lack of oven space (that freaking turkalurk always takes FOREVER), so that may have affected their rise a bit.

These are fabulous with a bit of goat cheese and cranberry sauce. They’re lightly sweet but pair well with either savory or sweet—I ate some with dinner and then  made a dessert napoleon for later with ice cream and whipped cream + cinnamon. Food repurposing for the win!

  • 2 c whole wheat pastry flour, plus a bit for rolling
  • 1.5 tbsp sugar
  • 2.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • scant 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp cold unsalted butter, chopped into smallish pieces*
  • 1 c pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 c light coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 1 tsp honey

*vegan with Earth Balance or other vegan butter

Preheat the oven to 400, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl, combine dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking power, cinnamon, and salt. Cut in the butter using your implement of choice (I like a pastry cutter, but two forks work just as well) until the mixture resembles coarse sand. In a larger bowl, mix together pumpkin, coconut milk. molasses, and honey. Add liquid to butter/flour mixture, and stir until just combined. Sprinkle a bit of flour over your work surface and roll out the dough to about an inch thickness, using a biscuit cutter (or a cookie cutter, if you’re jank like me) to make biscuity-type shapes. Transfer to baking sheet, and continue with the scraps until you have no leftover dough.

Bake for 12-15 minutes (mine were done at 13), until golden. Let cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then serve warm!

Workout. Get pumped! Eat. Love. Repeat as necessary!

semi-leaning tower of quinoa bars!

Happy first day of spring to you too, Salem. Thanks for the nice weather SNOW. What?! Like, actual snow this time too. About three inches of fluff on my car this morning… what is this?! Thankfully today was Workout Wednesday (ie the only reason I go to campus is to work out), or else I might have skipped class, hehe. (As Kira pointed out, at least I have my priorities straight. Miss a workout with Christine? NEVER! ha. But hey! Justified, as pilates/fitness instructor is my career of choice) Besides, I had to go give Christine her quinoa-banana bars. Yes. I am the kind of person who bakes treats for her fitness instructor. We have the same workout addiction after all: Must…work… out! And buy new active wear! Healthy snacks in exchange for a Pilates-Core body butt kicking? I think it’s a fair trade ;)

So now I’m nicely sore and contemplating going back out into the wet for work. And wet indeed it is now… we’re getting semi-frozen rain-ish-slush-gross now, because, well, why not? I have holes in my uggs, that’s why not. My heels got suspiciously damp when I was wearing them this morning… seriously, I had all these grand plans to take my winter-wear home over spring break to leave it, so that  I had less to take home in May. Fat chance. Watch, I’ll leave it all here and it’s be sunny and glorious the rest of April. Hmm. Maybe this is logical… maybe I should take it home?! Oh weather gods, how you love to mess with us here in Salem. I like snow, don’t get me wrong, but only when I can ski on it, pleaseandthankyou.

there's a rogue one!

Anywayyyy. Today I have bars for you! Healthy snack-type bars, like a cross between banana bread and a granola bar. They’re packed with all kinds of goodness: whole grains, peanut butter (YAY!), quinoa, flaxseed, bananaaaaas, and cardamom. Mmm. Can’t go wrong with the banana-cardamom combo, it’s fab. These bars also happen to be vegan, just for funzies! They’re perfect with a little (more) nut butter swiped on top (uh-oh, I can see the bottom of my peanut butter jar, mayday mayday!) and extra bananas :)

oh hey, up close!

Peanut Butter-Banana Quinoa Bars

Recipe only slightly adapted from here! Makes… 8 ish? I made it in a pie dish, and cut rectangles out of the center. Wedges would have been good too.

  • 2/3 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 c chunky peanut butter
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1/3 c cooked quinoa*
  • 1/4 c wheat germ
  • 1.5 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 3 tbsp turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 c milk bev (soymilk for me)
  • sprinkling of dark chocolate chippies!
barsssss

*I cooked 1/3 c dry quinoa in 2/3 c water, yielding enough for the bars + dinner leftovers :)

Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease a dish of choice. I made mine in a 9″ pie dish, since a square 9″ seemed too big.

In a smallish bowl, whisk together flour, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, and baking powder. In a largeish bowl, mash up the banana with a fork, and then vigorously stir in peanut butter until combined. (Added bonus: bicep workout!) Add in quinoa, wheat germ, flaxseed, sugar, vinegar, and soymilk, and stir to combine. Toss flour mixture and chocolate chips into the wet ingredients, and mix together until combined. Spatula-ize the batter into your prepared pan (Yes, spatula is a verb now), and bake for just about 30 minutes. A tester should come out clean when done.

Workout, feel pumped, eat, love! Repeat as necessary.

this may or may not be how my peanut butter disappears so fast...

Asteroids do not concern me, Admiral. I want those cookies, not excuses.

Come to the Dark Side... I have cookies!

For those who don’t know… or didn’t guess… I’m a nerd! But those of you who know me I’m sure are aware of this…I can’t imagine what clued you in. Can’t be the Star Wars cookie cutters or the perpetual references to Star Trek, nahhh. Must be the large Spock standup I have at home? Ah yes. Clearly that’s it. I fully embrace my nerdness, which is why all of you like to hang out with me… I make you giggle! (And most likely I feed you)

Anyway. Yesterday I was trolling through my piles upon piles of recipes to make… and THEN I remembered that I have wanted to make animal crackers for eons. Because I LOVE animal crackers. I was totally a Barnum’s kid, until one day I ate them and realized they weren’t as good as I remembered them. At that point, I switched over to more natural cookie/crackers to get my fix. But as I was munching through my Barbara’s animal cookies last night, I suddenly was seized by the desire to make my own! Why buy them when I could make them with things I already had on hand?

And so. I had a baketastic Friday and made animal cookies. Except there was one small fly in the ointment… I don’t, in fact, own animal cookie cutters. Oops. Hmm. What to do?!

Oh but wait.

I have something oh, so, SO much better.

Do you sense a disturbance in the Force?

Yes.

I do.

Wait for it…

Disregard the mixed messages... Yes, that is a Star Trek shuttlecraft. I thought it went nicely with the nerdy theme.

I own Star Wars cookie cutters! That’s right. I warned you. Nerdspiration, right there: healthy animal cookies shaped like Star Wars characters?! It doesn’t get much better than that. Kira and I dubbed them Force Cookies. Because… you know, strong in the Force, those who eat them are! (This might perhaps be attributed to the whole grains and flax, but hey, the Force is more fun). Besides, it’s really fun to nibble off Yoda’s ears first, like I always liked to eat the legs that broke off into the bottom of the box. Oh wait. I still do. I have to fight my cat for the bits though, since he likes them too (he’s sort of like a mini-Chewbacca… always thinking with his stomach! But so am I, so who am I to judge)… The Force is strong with these cookies ;)

heeheehee.

Whole Wheat-Flax Force Cookies

If you have animal cookie shapes, that’s fab too… I just needed an excuse to use my Star Wars cookie cutters. Anything on the small side is fine! I’d like to experiment and see if I can’t make a peanut butter version to add a little protein… watch this space for further developments! These cookies are lightly sweet and perfect when you want a bit of sweet but not full on dessert. They make great snacks (especially with Biscoff spread, ahem.. what isn’t?!). I got 22 cookies. Slightly adapted from The Cilantropist, here!

  • 1.25 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 c ground flaxseed (I like Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp Earth Balance (or butter, your call)
  • 1/3 c sugar (I used turbinado)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Darth Vader looks like he's about to inhale a flax seed...

Combine flour, flaxseed, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a mediumish bowl and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until combined. Add in egg and vanilla, and continue mixing. Add in the dry ingredients, hopefully in 2 additions (keep the mixer on low). Once the flour is just incorporated, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and form into a flat disk. Stick into a plastic baggie (or wrap in plastic wrap, if you have it), and toss into the fridge to chill for about 2 hours or overnight. I left mine just about 2 hours.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (or wax paper, which is what I used).

the Galileo is having a bit of a fly 'round my kitchen...

Once chilled, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface. I found that mine didn’t crack too much, and was fine with a little flour dusted on top (and on me, naturally… how is it that flour never seems to stay where I put it?!). Roll out to about 1/8 inch thick. Go nuts with your cookie cutters, rinse, repeat, until you’ve used all your dough. Since the dough is rather delicate, I found that using a pastry scraper (or other flat metal surface) to transfer the cookies to the cookie sheet was effective. Pastry scrapers are great since they have a nice sharp edge. Transfer all cookies to the prepped cookie sheet, and chill again in the fridge for half an hour.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350. Bake the cookies for about 7 minutes, until lightly browned and puffyish (bake them longer, if you want crunchy cookies—I took mine out at 7 and they’re a bit softer and chewier: perfect!). Let cool a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Remember, the Force will be with you… always (as long as you eat my cookies) :)

Asteroids do not concern me, Admiral. I want those cookies and not excuses!

 

Tarting up February!

mmmm, CRUST!

I like to think I know myself pretty well, in terms of food-type oddities and  proclivities. As such, I know that February irritates me. It’s such a bleh month in the middle of everything, and there is a distinct lack of interesting produce. I’ve already gone nuts over squash, waaaay back in the fall… I love sweet potatoes but I eat them all the time anyway…and there is a depressing amount of fruit available. As in, local and seasonal fruit, if you please (Besides, strawberries in winter just look sad. All pale and anemic. I would much rather eat them in the summer, thankyouverymuch).

BUT.

I discovered a solution to this problem.

Waaay back in September, over Labor Day weekend, I procured some fresh peaches (thanks, Dave Lakey!). I fought the urge to eat them immediately, and instead sliced them up and threw them into the freezer. All neat and nicely labeled, I was determined that they would remain in there, until the dead of winter (aka February), when nothing grows and I was itching for some summer fruit. Genius, clearly.

Over the weekend, when I spent a bit more time thinking about/researching/drooling over pie and tart recipes than actually thesising, I realized the time for peaches had arrived! And oooooh was that a good decision…

THIS. Is what happened.

peeeeachesss!

Fresh peaches in February! Can you ask for anything better? It’s like summer in a bite. And a healthy bite, no less! The crust has healthy fats from olive and canola oil, and the custard is made with yogurt instead of cream. And fruit is the most important part! It’s totally justifiable to have this for breakfast.

okay, so the pictures of this weren't super fantastic... but the crust was beautiful! clearly my favorite part.

Peach Custard Tart

Crust is slightly adapted from the Garden of Eden blog, and the custard is adapted from Eating Well, here. Makes one 11” tart.

For the crust (most low maintenance tart crust EVER):

  • 1.5 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1/4 c canola oil
  • 2 tbsp milk of some kind (I used plain soymilk)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a bowl, stir together flour, salt, and sugar (no need to sift). In another small bowl, whisk together olive and canola oil, milk, and vanilla extract until combined. Add liquid into dry, and gently stir until just combined (be careful not to overstir). Gather this up and plunk it down into your tart pan (in the absence of a tart pan, a pie dish is fine)… then flatten the dough on the bottom and up the sides by pressing gently with the flats of your fingers (this is the fun part!). Try to get it to an even thickness all around and up the sides, about 1/8″.

messy, but delicious.

For the filling!

  • 4-5 peaches, sliced (mine were frozen. I ran them under cool water until I could separate them into slices, but didn’t defrost the completely to prevent peach mush)
  • 3/4 c turbinado sugar
  • 3/4 c lowfat plain yogurt*
  • 3/4 c milky beverage (soymilk again for me)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp organic cornstarch
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

*The original recipe called for greek yogurt… but Kira and I, being the frugal/practical types that we are, decided to try it with regular yogurt, since that was what we had on hand. Excellent decision, as it turned out deeelicious. Either type is fine!

This is ridiculously easy: dump all the above ingredients in a bowl (except peaches), and whisk until smooth. See? Easy.

I told you the crust was pretty!

Preheat the oven to 400. Arrange the peaches around the bottom of the crust (they don’t have to look pretty). Pour the custard over the top, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cover the edges with foil to prevent excess browning (I did a rather ineffectual job, but I like the rather caramelized edges, so… not a big deal!). Reduce oven temperature to 350, and pop it back into the oven for another 40 minutes to an hour. Mine was done at about an hour and 10 minutes—I checked it at 40, and then put it back in for 15 minute intervals. You want a knife to come out clean when inserted into the center. Let cool before eating, about an hour and a half, to make sure the custard has time to set.

This is EXCELLENT cold. In fact, I think it might be better cold the next day, once the flavors have had a chance to get to know each other. It is also excellent with a blob of vanilla ice cream, of course.

uh oh... evidence!

I am the Queen of Orange!

it's hiding... can you tell what it is?!

Yet another orange dish.

Who’s surprised?

Yeah. Didn’t think so. That’s okay though, you’ll thank me later,  just wait.

Besides, it’s fall! What do you expect?! I’m trying to be more of a seasonal eater. And by this I mean I want my insides to resemble the fall color which has exploded all over trees in Salem, and caused them all to look like they’re on fire… Then I really would be a seasonal eater, so there! Instead of having technicolored insides on account of sprinkles, I can have autumn-inspired innards! Teehee. I am the Queen of ORANGE!

Actually, when I say Queen of Orange, I’m rather reminded of William of Orange, and England’s Glorious Revolution in 1688. And no, I did not look any of those facts up… I am in fact a history nerd to the max, and those fab factoids were actually pulled out of AP European history brain from waaaay back when in sophomore year of high school. Yeeeahh. That’s right. I could also list you quite a bit of British royal genealogy… but I’ll save you the boredom ;) You’ll just have to trust me. Anywayyy. Back to the food, which is why you’re here, right?!

This is how much I love squash:

Like, A LOT. Fat, roundy orange squash. Or alternatively, butternut and acorn are good too… Which are not exactly roundy and fat, more like tan and elongated, or green and oddly lumpy, respectively. Whatever, to each his or her own squashiness, right?!

Because Kira and I realllyyyy love squash, we decided to make a new dish tonight… risotto! BUT. Because I’m a health nut, we made a healthy one. Hooraayyy!! But SO delicious, don’t get me wrong. Mmmmm. This risotto is actually made with barley, not rice. (Would that make it  barley-otto? Or barlotto?) Which is quite a bit more nutrient dense than rice, for the win! In fact, barley is realllyyy good for you: lots of soluble and insoluble fiber, which is handy for a number of things (including lowering blood cholesterol!), as well as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It also has eight amino acids and has is low on the Glycemic index, which is good for blood sugar. Wheeee, whole grains!

Barley seems to be another of those foods that I apparently imprinted on as a small child (hmm… tofu and barley. can you say hippie-granola?! Jeez, no wonder I wear Birkenstocks all the time). Barley cereal was my FAVORITE when I was pretty little— I distinctly remember my mom going to a specific store, where she knew an employee who would get me my special barley cereal. Apparently we could only get it there… I do remember him being awfully nice, hehe. And my mutti was wonderful to go get the cereal for me!  I guess I never really grew out of the barley phase, as I LOVED this dish.

Like I said, you’ll thank me for the orangeness later :)

Butternut Squash and Barley Risotto (or Barlotto)

Serves… a lot? We made half and still have lots of leftovers. I’ll provide the measures we used. Adapted from here!

Acquire this business:

  • 1 butternut squash, cubed and roasted
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1 thingy of garlic (I prefer the handy frozen squares from Trader Joe’s! It eliminates silly mincing and squishing)
  • 3/4 cups whole grain barley (I bought mine in bulk from Whole Foods)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3/8 cups grated Parmesan
  • awkward baggie of frozen peas
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
  • a judicious sprinkle of nutmeg

How to procure tastiness and gastronomical delight:

Firstly.

Roastify your b-nut squash! Preheat your oven to 450. Peel the squashling, and deseed it with a spoooon. Cubify it. Toss the cublets with a good glug of olive oil, salt, and peppahhh. Roastify the cublets for about 30 minutes, stirring onceish. When removing them from the oven, try not to get blasted with a huge puff of ridiculously hot steam. Seriously oven, I do NOT need that extreme of a facial. Set aside until needed.

Secondly.

In a smallish pan of some sort, bring the broth and water to a simmer, then lower heat just enough to keep it toasty. In a saute pan, saute the onion in olive oil. Cover and cook on medium until onion is softening, about 8-10 minutes. Add in garlic. Add barley, and let it toast for about 4 minutes over medium heat. Stir in wine, and continue stirring until it has been absorbed.

Now prepare to stir for the rest of your life.

At least you’ll have tasty risotto!

Add about a third of the broth/water, and half of your squashlets. Stir/simmer until absorbed, about 20 minutes. Continue to add liquid, stir, and simmer until the liquid is absorbed. This probably took Kira and I about a half hour, to have all the broth be absorbed and the barley to be cooked through.

Off the heat, stir in the remaining squash (assuming you left some out, not a big deal if you don’t want to), peas (another babyhood fave… what can I say, I was a gastronomically advanced child), parmesan, sage, and nutmeg. Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh basil (of course).

Enjoy the gastronomically delightful orangeness!