Breakfast for Dinner: Whole Wheat Chocolate Espresso Pancakes

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Making pancakes is seriously an art. How do people get them so neat and round and fluffy? How do they know how much batter to put in the pan? Do they manually spread out the batter or does it just bloom out into a perfect shape? I suppose it’s a craft you hone over time and I hope that one day, I’ll have that magical power of making perfect pancakes. The other night, I felt a super strong pull toward pancakes, and I didn’t care whether they turned out ugly or not.

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This is a…pancake top? It’s the muffin top’s bff

So I decided: Breakfast for dinner! It’s one of the most fantastic indulgences, and is a type of comfort food in it’s own right. The fact that I was too lazy to go thaw meat or make anything too complicated had virtually zero to do with my dinner decision, so you can lower that raised eyebrow, okay?

I settled on whole wheat chocolate espresso pancakes because I’m a complicated gal. To me, it’s simple though: whole wheat because it’s a better alternative to white flour, chocolate which will help manage my chocolate cake cravings and reduce the amount of sugar I’d normally have to add, and espresso powder because I’m a coffee freak and I thought it would add more depth to the flavour.

I’ve also been trying to figure out a way to use espresso powder successfully in a recipe. I’ve had a few failures (maybe I should do a blooper reel post) but I’m happy to report it worked very well in this. I really just want espresso to like me. A while back, when a cafe in my town opened, I went there with some friends to check it out. I ordered an espresso, and was met with a condescending stare by the waitress who then said “You want an eXpresso? You know what that is?”. She eventually served me lukewarm espresso with another withering stare. Customer service has improved since then, but anytime I see anything espresso related, I pronounce it “expresso” in my mind (and you would not believe how many times I spelled it wrong in this post) and remember the day I was coffee-shamed (like slut-shaming but for caffeine addicts).

Whole Wheat Chocolate Espresso Pancakes

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Time: 10 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup Cocoa Powder (unsweetened)

2 tbsp Brown Sugar

1/2 tsp Espresso Powder

1/2 tsp Baking Powder

1/2 tsp Salt

1 cup Almond Milk

1 Egg

2 tbsp melted Butter

Instructions:

In a medium sized bowl, mix together all dry ingredients until fully combined. In a smaller bowl, whisk wet ingredients together. Pour over dry ingredients and mix until just combined – do not over mix.

What is this, a mason jar convention?

What is this, a mason jar convention?

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Spray a bit of nonstick cooking spray in a pan and heat up. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter and cook until the surface starts to bubble slightly and the edges are cooked, about 1-2 minutes. Flip pancake and cook for another minute. Repeat with remaining batter.

Top with whipped cream, syrup, or fruit of your choice. Or top with nothing at all.

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The result of not waiting until the pancakes cool off a little before you top with whipped cream...

The result of not waiting until the pancakes cool off a little before you top with whipped cream…

These pancakes are pretty filling. I ended up scraping off all the whipped cream and truth be told, I didn’t need the syrup. It would have been perfectly delicious plain.

So happy almost Friday, have a great weekend and I’ll see you back here next week!

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Cookies & Cream Rice Krispie Treats

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I am so disappointed. Yesterday I went and bought a slice of Tiramisu and had my Friday afternoon all planned: Cake, a cup of coffee and a whole afternoon to make a serious dent in my Gilmore Girls re-watch marathon that I was forced to abandon because of a little thing called work. I love that show. Do I say that I love too many shows by the way? Because I feel like I do and as a friend so wisely pointed out to me, saying it too many times for too many things diminishes the value of the word. I can get on board with that. But I do love Gilmore girls and I do love tiramisu.

So I came home, put on the TV, got into my comfy pjs, got out the fancy fork (I do spoil myself) and threw myself into the most comfortable chair in the house. I felt utterly luxurious and took a bite of the cake….and sighed. Not the satisfied kind of sigh that only a perfect dessert can elicit, but the kind of sigh that is the result of extreme disappointment. The tiramisu was terrible! I would use more explicit language and those of you that know me well will know that I usually do, but this is a family site (although I cannot confirm to you how long that will stay on). So suffice it to say it was terrible. It sucked. It was spoiled or too salty or old or kept in the fridge too long or something, and whatever it was, it was inedible. What a letdown.

Naturally, when Rabin came home, I made him try it (I was NOT suffering alone!). He confirmed that it was in fact spoiled. So I have three bites of spoiled tiramisu in my stomach – the first for obvious reasons, the second because I wasn’t sure if the first was just a bad piece, and the third because I really just wanted to make sure. If I die of food poisoning, well, it’s been nice knowing you all.
Which got me thinking. Not to be a jerk or anything but I really do prefer the stuff I make. At least I know what goes into it and I know how fresh it is. I can reduce the sugar or add chocolate chips and the baking itself is pretty therapeutic. The only sucky thing about it is that cravings don’t necessarily coincide with my energy level to measure ingredients and mix and bake for 30 minutes. Plus, as this blog name suggests, washing up afterwards isn’t really my favourite thing.

Then I thought about Rice Krispie Squares I made the other day. Quick to make, super simple, and very few ingredients. What did I do that was so different? I turned them into Cookies & Cream Rice Krispie Squares! Powerful stuff. I’ve already said before that I dislike Oreos but adore Oreo related products and this was no exception.

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Cookies & Cream Rice Krispie Treats

  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: very easy
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Ingredients

25 -30 large Marshmallows
3 Cups Rice Krispies
2 Tbsp Butter
12 Oreos (makes 1 cup ground)

Instructions

Spray a 7×7 pan with nonstick spray. Pulse Oreos to coarse crumbs in a food processor. This should make approximately 1 cup. Combine Rice Krispies with Oreos.

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Melt butter in a saucepan on medium heat and add marshmallows. Stir to combine with butter and continue to stir until the marshmallows have melted (see pictures).

Add rice/cookie mixture to the pan and stir immediately until combined with marshmallows and the mixture appears sticky. Transfer to the prepared pan immediately and use a spatula to smooth the mixture evenly.

Allow to cool. Cut into squares and enjoy!

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An added bonus is that the smell of melted marshmallows is absolutely heavenly. So the scent kinda gets you excited before you even take your first bite. The difference between this and the store bought squares is obviously the Oreo element, but apart from that, the homemade one is a lot more compact and not as sweet (in my opinion).

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So there it is. The perfect replacement for a crappy dessert. Now to continue to indulge my fantasy of living in Stars Hollow. When Gilmore Girls was actually on TV, I was told on a number of occasions by different people that I spoke like the girls on that show, which I took as a compliment. Also being compared to Alyson Hannigan in American Pie (“One time, at band camp…”) ? Not so much.

Roasted Garlic & Broccoli Stuffed Potatoes

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Quick. You’re stuck on a desert island and discover a hatch that leads you to a kitchen and only one food item provided by the Dharma Initiative. What is it? (Happy 10th Anniversary of the premiere of Lost and my lust-iversary of Sawyer btw). My food choice would be potatoes. I LOVE potatoes in every form – fries, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, scalloped potatoes, potato chips, latkes, hash browns, potato soup, tater tots…(and yes, I’m aware that I sound like Bubba from Forrest Gump… BBQ shrimp, baked shrimp, broiled shrimp…)

Anyway. So now that you’ve gotten your random pop culture fill for the day, I’m sharing a recipe I put together – Roasted Garlic & Broccoli Stuffed Potatoes.

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Roasted Garlic & Broccoli Stuffed Potatoes

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy-ish
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Ingredients

5 Small – Medium Potatoes
1 head Garlic
1/2 cup Broccoli

2 tbsp Butter
1/3 cup grated Cheese of your choice (I used a mix of mild and sharp Cheddar)
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Salt or more to taste
1/8 tsp Red Pepper Flakes

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Roast garlic in the oven or on the stove. I’ve previously described 2 ways to roast garlic so take a look and see which fits your time budget. If you’re roasting in the oven, put the garlic in first so that you can prep the other ingredients in the meantime. Quick summary of oven roasting: cut top off the head of garlic, drizzle with olive oil, put in foil packet, bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

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Scrub the whole potatoes, poke a few holes around it with a fork and boil for about 20 minutes until soft but not mushy. Drain and let cool. Carefully cut potatoes in half and scoop out flesh, being careful not to pierce through the potato.

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Ok. I admit it. I poked through the potatoes a few times. I probably should have let it cool a bit more first before I started scooping…

Mince broccoli in a food processor. Transfer to a bowl and mash with garlic, potato flesh, salt & peppers. Refill potatoes with mixture. Top with grated cheese.

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Bake in preheated oven for 10- 15 minutes until cheese is melted and potato edges are slightly crispy.

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Yep, this is a pretty picture heavy post. Maybe I’m making up for Wednesday’s Vegetable Stock post, or maybe I was just happy with the way the pictures turned out. Whatever it is, there you have it. Don’t say I never gave you anything.

Have a great weekend!

Take Stock. Literally!

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Ok let’s just be honest. Brown food isn’t the easiest thing to photograph. My recipe today is vegetable stock, and it’s a short recipe that has limited pictures because stock is that brown, soupy colour that just cannot look appetizing. But the recipe is great and is a fabulous alternative to the stock / broth or dried bullion cubes out there.

When I started cooking, I used to like using the Maggi bouillon cubes to flavor my soups until I looked at the ingredients one day and really noticed the crazy amount of ingredients in that one little cube, many of which I couldn’t pronounce. It also contained MSG as one of the primary ingredients. So that was that. I stopped using it. As for chicken or vegetable stock, it wasn’t really a common item in supermarkets here, and so I started using plain ol’ water. Having water in soup instead of stock really gives the other ingredients a chance to shine, although I did tend to miss the complexity of flavours at times.

A lot of recipes I’ve checked out suggest you toss the vegetables in with the water at the same time and let it simmer. Since I’m a fan of deeper flavors and I absolutely love the smell of carrots, onions and celery being sautéed together, I let that magic happen for about 5 minutes, got my aromatherapy on, and then added the water.

You’ll notice that the vegetables are roughly chopped. Why are they roughly chopped, you ask? The short answer is because I live life on the edge. The long answer is that you want to coax out flavour and you don’t want to cook something so finely chopped that it dissolves after a few minutes.

The Graduating Stock Class of September

The Graduating Stock Class of September

Vegetable Stock

  • Time: 1 hr 10 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

2 tsp. Olive Oil

3 Onions (roughly chopped)

4 cloves Garlic, peeled and crushed

2 Carrots, roughly chopped

2 stalks Celery, roughly chopped

2 medium Potatoes, roughly chopped

2 Bay Leaves

2 tsp. whole Black Peppercorns

3/4 tsp salt

10 cups water

Ingredients 

Pour Olive oil into a large stock pot. Add onions, carrots & celery and saute for 5 minutes. Add garlic and potatoes and cook for another 2 minutes. Add water, peppercorns, bay leaves and salt and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and let simmer for approximately an hour. Strain stock. Discard solids.

Use immediately, refrigerate for 3 days or freeze for 6-8 months.

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After the stock had cooled, I measured out two cups at a time and filled freezer-friendly bags with the pre-measured portion. Of course you can measure out as much as you want, or store it all in one bag, but don’t blame me when you have to defrost a huge block of ice for half of the stock!

I kind of think that vegetable stock is pretty forgiving. You have a list of vegetables that you can potentially use (some vegetables like tomatoes and beets don’t work at all in stock) and you can mix and match as you’d like. I chose not to use parsnips or mushrooms or sweet potatoes in this mix, but I will be trying different combinations in future batches.

It ain't pretty. But it smelled warm and inviting!

It ain’t pretty. But it smelled warm and inviting!

For my blog followers preparing to experience Autumn (or maybe the weather has cooled off significantly already?), now is a great time to embark on this no stress weekend project. You’ll totally jump start your Fall & Winter soup prep work! For my warm weather friends, you know you’ll also make soup at some point. Don’t deny it. This post is still relevant :)

Jeweled Kale Salad w/ Citrus Soy Dressing

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I was ridiculously excited to see Kale in the market the other day. Kale! I mean, we’re a tropical country so it doesn’t really grow here (as far as I know), and there isn’t large enough of a market to sustain large scale kale (ha! Everyone’s a poet nowadays) importation.

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The culinary equivalent of Emeralds and Amethysts. Yes, family and friends…I just made your gift shopping for me infinitely easier.

I’m not really a jewelry kinda gal. I wear my wedding rings but not all the time, and I’ve taken to wearing a watch recently. I have phases with different types of jewelry (sometimes just expect to see me in a bracelet or a long necklace) but when it comes to coordinating the two, you’ve come to the wrong girl. Plus earrings? Forget about it.

So yes, I’m a nerd who loves food and would rather spend my money on a fancy coffee cup or fancy ingredients than a fancy necklace, so I guess it makes sense that the only jewels that catch my eye are the tones of this salad. Lol. See how I brought it back to food?

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I love the look of green and purple together – the simple opulence of the combination makes me think of royal, exotic places, of billowing scarves and lanterns casting their muted golden glow on peacocks roaming around freely. If you’re reading this blog because you’re a food nerd like me, I’m hoping that you can see where I’m coming from. If you’re reading this for any other reason, I’m pretty sure you’re thinking “um…all this for a SALAD!?” Sorry. We eat with our eyes first and that’s what I see. Just don’t call me the salad whisperer.

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Jeweled Kale Salad w/ Citrus Soy Dressing

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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For the Salad

1 cup Kale, washed & chopped
1/2 cup Purple Cabbage, chopped
1/2 cup Cashew nuts, raw
1 tsp Sesame seeds (optional)

For the Dressing

1/4 cup Orange Juice
1/4 tsp freshly grated Ginger
1/2 tbsp. Soy Sauce
Pinch Black pepper
Pinch Red Pepper Flakes

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast Cashews for 8-10 minutes until golden brown, watching closely to ensure that it doesn’t burn. In the meantime, prepare the Dressing by whisking all ingredients together.

Toss Kale, Cabbage & Cashews with the Dressing. Top with sesame seeds if desired.

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Although I love the dressing that paired with this recipe, if you want a heartier, more fall-type salad, or basically just want to use up extras, you can use the Toasted Pumpkin Seed Oil Vinaigrette I posted about a while back instead. It totally works.

Have a fantastic weekend, catch up on all the great shows that have made their debut, get your weekend projects done, call that friend you’ve been meaning to call, read a few more pages in that book on your shelf. Just remember to eat well and be happy.

Chia Cherry Limeade

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I know for most of you, the weather is cooling down, summer is over and the fall fashions are out. But here in Guyana? It has been ridiculously hot recently. Humid and draining, and some days it’s been so hot I can’t even concentrate. Which brings me to my drink recipe today.
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It’s been a while since I posted a drink recipe. Truth be told, I lapsed on my Food Resolution – I didn’t make any smoothies for myself in July & August. I know. Terrible. I kind of feel it’s because I’ve been extra addicted to that caffeine kick recently that I didn’t have it in me to drink something cold in the morning regardless of the heat. But I’ll try to be better this month although the month is almost done. I have some frozen peaches just waiting to be inhaled!

Today I’m sharing a very simple recipe I came up with in June. It’s a healthy play on Cherry Limeade. There’s no sugar in it (apart from the naturally occurring sugar in the cherries), and I added chia and walnuts for a bit of texture and a hidden Omega-3 boost.

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Chia Cherry Limeade

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 5 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients
1 cup Frozen Cherries
1 cup Water
1/2 cup Walnuts
1/2 Lime, juiced
2 tsp. Chia Seeds
Instructions:
Blend all ingredients together.
I’ve also been working on a new project which I’ll talk a little bit about on Friday. But it involves my Birthday in November. Stay tuned!

Wow. What a short post. Did I really not have anything else to say today? This is worrying :s

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Cilantro Lime Quinoa & Food Breakups

This relationship isn’t working anymore. It was great at first but just suddenly, out of the blue, that was it. I didn’t realize it was you at first, but after spending time together, my stomach would hurt. I loved you, I defended you to friends and family, I did everything right. Although I want you in my life all the time, there’s just something about you that doesn’t work for me anymore. It pains me to say this but it will pain me more not to say this. Quinoa, it’s over. It’s not me, it’s you.

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It’s true. This sucks. I was never a fan of rice and when I came across quinoa, I finally got the point of non pasta, potato or bread type side dishes. I ate it so much and became so familiar with it that I ended up creating some recipes which included my favourite – Foolproof Lime Cumin Quinoa.

So imagine my joy when I came across red quinoa in the supermarket. I had all these grand recipe ideas, but decided to try it plain first. And then I spent that entire afternoon clutching my stomach and wondering if 29 was too young to be having a heart attack. I didn’t actually realize that it was the new quinoa that had me feeling that way, so I proceeded to eat it 2 more times after that before I realized what was happening. So I switched back to regular white quinoa. But by that time, my body took the figurative form of a toddler strongly set against something – crossed arms, stomping feet and vehement head shake, yelling “no! no more!!” Although it tasted great, the acid I’d feel afterwards was pretty brutal.

I don’t get it. I know that you need to wash quinoa before cooking to get rid of the bitter soapy saponin coating on the quinoa. Which I did. I cooked it properly too. Right now I know my siblings are laughing pretty hard at me – it’s a running joke that when they come over and I offer them food, they always ask whether there’s quinoa in it. I even had quinoa pasta! Sigh.

So here’s my Dear John recipe. My simple, healthy and awesome twist on the Cilantro Lime Rice you get at Chipotle.

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I made cilantro lime rice once before – with dried cilantro and the bottled lime juice *shakes head sadly at the culinary-ly ignorant Indi of 3 years ago* and shockingly enough, it didn’t taste like anything except rice that was in the fridge. I cannot stress this enough – use fresh ingredients!!

Cilantro Lime Quinoa

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

1 cup dried Quinoa

3 tbsp. freshly squeezed Lime Juice

4 stalks fresh Cilantro

¼ tsp Black Pepper

1/8 – ¼ tsp salt (to taste)

Instructions

Rinse Quinoa thoroughly and cook according to package directions. Usually the ratio is 1 part Quinoa to 2 parts Water. Cook on medium heat until water is absorbed and the little white string things in each grain pops out from the grains. Let cool slightly.

Finely chop cilantro. Toss Quinoa with lime juice, cilantro, pepper and salt.

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So enjoy, guys. Take this gift that I’ve given you and thoroughly enjoy it because you’ll never know when your favourite food will become your enemy. Surprisingly enough, I’ve been through a food breakup before with cantaloupe. My favourite fruit ever started making my lips itchy and swollen when I ate it. So now I occasionally indulge in a few pieces but eat like a crazy person and open my mouth pretty wide so that nothing touches my lips. Pretty genius, right? Cheese can give me heartburn on occasion as well but I continue to dance around my food issues like a boxer in a ring, jabbing my intolerances at random times so it won’t have time to react before I digest. Damn, I’m great at metaphors.

Have a wonderful weekend and if you’ve ever experienced anything similar, I’d love to hear about it!

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