Thursday, December 18, 2014

Asian Soba Vegetable Noodle Soup

I bought soba noodles (soba is just the Japanese name for buckwheat) awhile back with the intention of making something new with them. At the same time I bought brown rice noodles which I am obsessed with and thus forgot all about the soba noodles. Well, yesterday I decided to use them. I had originally planned on using them in some sort of stir-fry like dish, but I was more in the mood for soup so I came up with this hardy (slightly spicy) soup.

I used this stir-fry sauce (soy sauce combined with oyster sauce and some other flavors) I found in the Asian section of Shaw's after deciding even low sodium soy sauce has way too much sodium (25% DV for 1 tablespoon!) and I'm happy to report that it is pretty tasty and worked well in my soup. While I love thick soups, when I make this again I will use less noodles and more veggies. They way I did it is was only really 25% broth which was okay by me really. And tonight it was even better as everything had absorbed/broken down more and the broth had turned into a nice sauce almost (photo was taken on day 1). Very tasty. If you keep the large amount of noodles, one bowl will probably leave you full and satisfied. All of the flavors worked well together and even though there wasn't that much broth, it was enough to make the noodles quite addicting without being over-powering at all. I was pretty impressed though with how tasty the noodles were just plain....and it's filling!

 Buckwheat doesn't have any gluten, but to make this gluten-free, be sure to buy noodles that are all buckwheat (many brands you see in the store will have flour in them as well).

Asian Soba (Buckwheat) Vegetable Noodle Soup
How I Did It:

6 oz Soba Noodles (use less if you want it more brothy)
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, diced
32 oz low sodium vegetable broth
3 carrots, chopped
3 parsnips, chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
3 baby bok choy, roughly chopped
3 tbsp low sodium stir-fry sauce (not straight soy sauce)
1/2 tsp cayene
1/2 ground ginger

1. In a medium pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add in the noodles, and lower to medium. Stir occasionally. Once cooked (about 6-8 minutes usually), drain and rinse with cold water.

2. While the noodles are cooking, heat 2 tablespoons of water in a large pot and then add the onion and garlic.

3. Cook until softened and then pour in broth, carrots, parsnips, celery, sauce and spices. Stir and then cover and let simmer for about 10 minutes and then add in the bok choy and cover again for another 5 minutes.

4. Once the vegetables are almost how you want them, stir in the noodles. Cover again and let simmer for another 5 minutes or so.

5. Serve! Keep any leftovers in the fridge.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Apple Cinnamon Whole Wheat and Oat Pancakes

I don't know why I haven't posted about these before. Maybe because I usually eat them all before I can take a picture. A couple years ago I decided I wanted to make healthy pancakes that still tasted good. Though there were others that were pretty good, these came out on top for me. I just love cooked apple. These are the pancakes you eat when you want something tasty and filling, but don't want to feel slothful afterwards. They almost look like cookies, don't they?

Apple Cinnamon Wheat Pancakes
How I Did It:

1 egg
4 oz unsweetened apple sauce
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp almond milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp honey
1/3 cup oats, slightly processed
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp flaxseed meal
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 apple, peeled and chopped

1. Whisk the first 5 ingredients together.

2. Stir in the remaining ingredients, except for the apple. Let sit for 15 minutes.

3. Lightly coat two large frying pans with oil (I used light olive oil) and heat on low.

4. Stir in the the apple and when the pans are heated, pour or spoon the batter in making the size pancakes that you prefer.

5. Cook until small bubbles start to form and the edges look set. Flip, and cook on the other side.

6. Serve immediately,

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Chocolate Covered Banana Peanut Butter Bites

I have been wanting to make a simple treat for someone who loves banana and my first thought was adding a slice of banana to a homemade peanut butter cup. I still might try that, but while brainstorming I came up with this idea which is a bit healthier and much more banana focused. They came out as good as I had hoped (the mixing of the different chocolates and flavors really adds to it in my opinion) and were very easy to make. Freezing them thoroughly before dunking them in the chocolate is a necessary step though so make sure enough time is saved for that.

Chocolate Covered Banana Peanut Butter Bites
How I Did It:

2 ripe bananas
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/8 cup butterscotch chips
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1. Peel and slice your bananas. You won't need the 4 end pieces.

2. Scoop peanut butter on top of a slice of banana (be generous) and cover with another slice. Repeat for the remaining slices, matching up similiar sized pieces.

3. Place all "sandwiches" in a parchment paper lined container in the freezer. Freeze at least for a couple hours, if not overnight.

4. When the sandwiches are nice and frozen, pour your chocolate and butterscotch into a double boiler and heat. Stir occasionally to help melt. Once melted, stir in the vanilla extract.

5. One at a time , place a peanut butter banana sandwich into the melted chocolate. Once coated, carefully scoop out with a fork, letting some of the excess chocolate fall off. Place in a container lined with parchment paper. Repeat for remaining sandwiches, only take 2 out to work with at a time and leaving the rest frozen.

6. Once all of the sandwiches are coated in chocolate, cover the container and place back in the freezer until you are ready to enjoy!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

All Corn Cornbread Muffins

When I was a kid I was never excited about cornbread until one day my mom made them in a muffin tin without a cupcake liner and the edges were crispy and delicious. Since then I have made many different types of cornbread including with corn bits, vegan and with spicy meat. These muffins were my first attempt at gluten-free cornbread. I was more than a little worried about how they would turn out, but they were pretty tasty! I prefer muffins and I decided to make these bite sized, so I used my mini-muffin tin. Look at that delicious streak of butter running through the top of the muffin! Definitely not vegan, but you could make them diary-free by using a butter substitute if you wanted. I just love diary with my corn muffins though, they compliment each other so well, but I did use almond milk instead of regular milk because that is what I had on hand.

All Corn Cornbread Muffins
How I Did It:

3/4 cup + 2 tbsp corn meal (not quick cooking)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup milk of choice
1 tablespoon of honey
2 tbsp butter, melted and slightly cooled

1. Preheat oven to 450. Grease your mini muffin tins.

2. Whisk together cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, beat together egg, milk, honey, and melted butter.

4. Stir the dry ingredients into the egg mixture until just combined.

5. Pour or spoon into the muffin tins. It will look like there is too much milk, but the cornmeal will absorb it as it cooks. Drop a small amount of water into any empty muffin tins and cook for about 10 minutes or until the edges start to brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

6. Let cool slighly, then run a knife around the edges to release. Best served warm (they re-heat well).

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Peanut Butter Chocolate Trifle

I love trying new dessert ideas and combinations, but every time I make a trifle I feel that I need to include brownie (not cake, ugh), some sort of pudding, Oreo cookies, and of course whipped cream. This time I wanted to add another flavor and I was thinking of caramel, but then had to go with peanut butter since I knew it was a favorite of a few of the people who would be eating it (with good reason). To save time, I didn't make the brownies from scratch and I used instant chocolate pudding because I remember loving it in the past, and it is good, but I am sure homemade would have been better. You could make everything yourself or or buy it all and just put together! I have to say, fresh whipped cream is always so much nicer and it is so easy to make.

I made all of the parts (except the whipped cream) the day before and just assembled when I was ready. This still tastes great the next day, but will  not look as good since the whipped cream will weep into the chocolate.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Trifle
How I Did It:

1 batch of brownies (homemade or box), cooled and cut into squares
5 oz box chocolate pudding, prepared
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup peanut butter
8 oz whipped cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp milk (I used 2%)
1/2 box Oreo, smashed

1. Beat heavy cream and 1/3 cup powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Do not stop early! Cover and put in fridge.

2. Beat together peanut butter and the cream cheese until combined and creamy and then add in the remainder of the powdered sugar and then the milk. Once well combined, gently stir in 1 cup of the whipped cream.

3. Using a bowl (or trifle dish if you have one), starting layering with brownies on the bottom, then the peanut butter mixture, then Oreo, then chocolate pudding, and then the whipped cream. Repeated this once more and then sprinkled more Oreo crumbles on the top. Keep refrigerated - best the same day.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Spicy Edamame Dip

I was initially planning on making hummus, but I had a bag of frozen edamame that I wanted to use up so I decided to do something with that instead. I found the idea for this online, but I can't remember where! I added much more hot sauce than I was expecting to and then I realize while it has healthy ingredients, Trader Joe's Sriracha is more mild than I would like it to be. With that said, I would recommend adding a tablespoon at a time until you hit the heat point that you desire.

I would say it is good, but it didn't blow me away. I did like it with carrots, but it wasn't good enough that I would make it again over trying something new. Though it is not totally fair to compare, I do much (much!) prefer the Spicy Asian White Bean Dip that I have made. I should make that one again soon! If you're an edamame (and sesame) fan, you'll probably like this one.

Spicy Edamame Dip
How I Did It:

1 cup shelled edamame
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp Tahini (I made my own)
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsps water
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup sriracha sauce (I used Trader Joe's version)

1. Boil edamame for about 5 minutes. Drain.

2. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. The mixture will be thicker than hummus. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Nutella Stuffed Salted Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

This cookies are amazing. Seriously amazing. What makes them so amazing. Well, I want to say it is the Nutella, but honestly the sea salt really brings the cookie together. Oh, and the browned butter (which, by the way, will make your kitchen smell fantastic). I had them for the first time last November at a work party and they were so good I asked the guy who made them for the recipe. He politely said he could not claim credit and emailed me the link to Ambitious Kitchen's Nutella Stuffed Brown Butter + Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies. I don't know why it has taken me so long to make them, although I did make Nutella Swirl Blondies over the winter which may have unconsciously been linked to the desire for these cookies. Regardless, I plan to make them or some version of them again soon. Such a delicious combination of flavors.

Honestly, they were completely craveable as I made them, but when I make these again I want to try adding the yogurt and more Nutella (I used the amount in the recipe). I did change the brown sugar to granulated sugar ratio a bit to help make them more chewy en lieu of the yogurt. Also, note that the pictures are from after the cookies were completely cooled. They were much more drool worthy out of the oven.

Nutella Stuffed Salted Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
How I Did It:

2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
1/4 minus 1 tbsp cup granulated sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (at least 60%)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
small jar of Nutella, chilled (I put it in the freezer 30 minutes before using)

1. Make your brown butter. If you have never browned butter, please see here for step-by-step directions. I want to stress the importance of using a skillet/wide pan and not a pot. Once you're done, pour into a large bowl to let it cool a bit (large, so you can just add the rest of the ingredients into it).

2. In a smaller bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

3. Pour sugars into the bowl with the butter and beat well. Then beat in egg, yolk, and vanilla.until well combined.

4. Slowly (in 3-4 parts) beat in the dry mixture until just barely combined.

5. With a spoon (and/or clean hands), mix in the chocolate chips.

6. Chill your dough overnight (or at least for 2 hours).

7. When you are getting ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350.

8. Scoop out a large chunk of the dough (at least 1 1/2 tbsps), roll into a ball and then flatten. Scoop out about 1 tsp of the chilled Nutella and place in the center of the flattened dough. Fold the dough around the Nutella, completely covering it. Shape back into a ball, making sure all of the Nutella is covered. Repeat for the remaining dough.

9. Bake for about 10 minutes or until the edges start to darken, but the centers still look slightly uncooked. Remove from oven and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Let rest for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.