Friday, June 19, 2009

Flippin' Awesome Breakfast

I shouldn't lie to you as often as I do, but I just can't help it. I make plans, what to bake, when to bake it, what's for dinner... and they always fall through. Mostly because my mind wanders. I WILL make raw rood recipes (again, waiting to get my butt up and buy ingredients) and I WILL make those cookies (probably when I get back from London because I have a feeling it will be mostly me eating them) and I WILL decorate a couple cakes with my new fancy tools (in fact, Father's Day is Saturday!!!), just not today.

Today I got up and reminisced about the whole wheat pancakes I had at Denny's while in Bloomington for orientation. They were fluffly, delicious, and most likely not as whole wheat as they could be. So this morning, I denounced the Bisquick box and searched for a homemade whole wheat pancake recipes, making sure I had fluffy in the google search box, too. And later buttermilk. Apparently that's important to the fluffy factor, or so says the internet.

This is the first time that I'm actually writing while in the process of cooking. While each side of my little cakes cooks I'm typing up this entry. So basically every few sentances or so I'm getting up to flip a cake! I did right after that last paragraph. It was the first one. It was not fluffy. Grrr... Oh well, Sally's happily eating a chocolate chip laced whole wheat pancake which is a rather big feat, so I suppose I can't be too too picky. And I'm not going to lie, they are kinda pretty :).

Whole Wheat Pancakes

So Sally and her friend, both outside working our neighborhood garage sale while I happily make breakfast in my pjs, are having chocolate chip pancakes. And then there's me. Did you really think I would be so plain? I haven't made my pancake, about to do so now actually, but I'm going to add a teaspoon of flaxseeds to the batter instead of chocolate chips and make a yogurt-honey combination to go on top. A while back I was looking for a healthier way to douse down my pancakes, I had gotten into the habit of topping them with a thick layer of peanut butter, banana slices, and finally maple syrup, which although absolutely divine is a pretty redonkulously calorie ladden breakfast. Yogurt may not sound like a maple syrup substitute, but trust me, it's awesome. I'm a plain yogurt person, so I like to mix non-fat plain yogurt with a little cinnamon (actually, a lot of cinnamon...) and some honey for my topping, but in the past I've used fruity yogurts as well. I went through a phase a couple years ago where I topped ego waffles with a combination of Light 'n Fit yogurt and smashed berries. They are both delicious, and awesome topping choices even if you're not looking for a healthy alternative to regular syrup. But if you are concerned about healthy eating, make sure whatever yogurt you choose has "live active cultures" written on the container, that's the good stuff! Taking a break now to enjoy my own pancake :D...

Whole Wheat Pancakes

THAT WAS SO GOOD!!!!!!!!!! I can't lie to you, that was a freaking delicious pancake! Sally even said it was awesome, not good, not ok, awesome. So good in fact, that I'm going to put the recipe on here!!! I made a couple changes myself, I used 3/4 cups low-fat buttermilk and 1/2 cup of skim milk, I didn't fill my 1/4 measuring cup quite full when I measured my sugar, I just used a pinch of salt, and put about a 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract in my batter. Oh yeah, and the flax seed I put in my pancake were whole. Otherwise, I followed these directions....



1. Whisk together dry ingredients in one bowl, wet ingredients in another. (Whisk just basically means stir, I used a fork to quickly combine the two mixtures.)
2. Pour wet mixture into dry mixture and stir only until most of the dry ingredients are in moistened. DO NOT OVERSTIR. Your batter should be lumpy, if it's not, your pancakes will have zero fluff factor!
3. Liberally coat a skillet with non-stick cooking spray or butter and pre-heat. Keep the temperature pretty low when you're cooking pancakes, otherwise the outside will be crispy and the inside will be batter mush. Gross.
4. Pour about 1/4 cup batter into the center of the pan and spread slightly. Cook until the edges puff a little and the batter begins to bubble. Flip and let cook for a few more minutes on the other side.
5. Figure out what you want to put on top of your pancake, put it on top of your pancake, and eat.
6. Repeat steps 3-5 until your batter is gone, then repeat steps 1-5 ;).

Whole Wheat Pancakes

Monday, June 15, 2009

Eating Raw & Things to Come

As I have mentioned before, I'm thoroughly convinced that nobody really reads my blog. Which is totally fine, I post because I like to look back and have pictures and reflections on the different recipes I've tried, my blog is more like a diary of my attempts at culinary endeavors and benefits me whether anyone in the universe cares to notice or not and I'm perfectly ecstatic with that. But even though my feeling aren't hurt if nobody cares to drop by my little blog (because let's face it, in my selfish little food-absorbed world I write for myself far more than I do for anyone else), I do experience a little bit of joy when somebody posts a comment. I love input because it sends me in different directions, new perspectives get me thinking about new food ideas and I appreciate the... I guess you might call it inspiration. (Did anybody else notice my sentences kinda suck? I mean really, run-ons, my punctuation is probably atrocious... but guess what? I'm writing and you're not! so there's nothing you can do about it! Anyway, I stray...)

Claggy posted a comment the other day, which I have a great appreciation for because it sounds like he went through a lot of trouble to do so ;), and it led me to conduct a couple Google searches. He mentioned a "raw food diet" and I was intrigued. I've looked into veganism, vegetarianism, and other kinds of foodisms and although raw foodism is something I've heard of it isn't something I've really read too much about. So I did! The gist of it, or so I perceived from what I've read, is that raw foodists believe that cooking food kills nutrients and causes a loss in the "life force" of food. They claim cooking food over around 116 degrees F kills enzymes in the food that are essential to optimal digestion and absorption of food. Raw food diets focus on eating fresh foods, no processed foods (i.e. flour, dairy, refined sugar), as a means by which to receive the most vitamins, minerals, and enzymes from their diet. This means no meat or fish, no processed snack foods, and generally no eggs. It sounds like a lot of work, so why go to the trouble? Well, raw food diets have a number of benefits that include: increased energy, improved skin appearance, better digestion, weight loss, and reduced risk of heart disease. Rock on.

I whole-heartedly intend to try a few raw food diet recipes, but I was also interested to see that there are a number of raw food products you can buy online. One website that really caught my attention, and I think you'll know why ;), was Raw chocolate. Truffles, spreads, cacao mixes, brownies, it all looks absolutely delicious. So delicious in fact, that I'm ordering some. Thank you Claggy! I'm not at all familiar with raw diets, but another product idea I would reccomend looking into is raw almond butter. IT'S SO GOOD. My favorite brand so far is MaraNartha, but it's kind of pricey so it's a rarity around here. It's a great way to kick up fruits and veggies though, which any raw foodie, I would assume, would eat fairly frequently.

I'm intrigued, and I've looked into a few recipes to try, but most of them require special ingredients/equiptment. I'm definitely going to attempt a few though, so watch for them to come!!!

In other news... I received a ridiculously awesome package in the mail today via Amazon!!!

Piping Set

That, my friends, is a 52-piece piping set, an "instruction" book, and 12 Wilton cake icing dyes. AWESOME :D. Basically, I'm going to try and learn to do all those fancy flower decorations and stuff like that, kick my occasion cakes up a notch. So look for those, too, my birthday cakes will hopefully now be exponentially more awesome!

I also have a cookie recipe I want to try in the next day or two, one inspired by my recent trip to Bloomington for orientation, so check back, should be fun stuff!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Market Fresh, hopefully the first of many!

As soon as I heard farmers markets were starting up I put going on the very top of my to-do list. Somehow I ended up having my heart set on going to Zionsville's, probably since To the Last Drop (a catering business in downtown Zionsville that I think is wonderful) sets up a stand there. Even though I was totally willing to venture down on my own, I figured I'd try and recruit a fellow food shopper if at all possible, and was fortunately right in assuming my dad would join me :D. So... we got up at 7, yes 7 AM, yes 7 AM on a Saturday during summer vacation, and dropped my brother off to take the ACTs and then headed to Zionsville's vibrant Mainstreet. We popped in to Eagle Creek Coffee Company, which I found out has delicious quiche, had a little breakfast and then headed to the farmers market!!!

Turns out Zionsville's farmers market is a little anticlimatic... with my dad in a desperate search for gooseberries (which hopefully I'll be able to introduce you to later on via a pie) we ended up going to the Carmel famers market. Carmel's farmers market pwns Zionsville's farmers market. Yes, that's how you spell pwns. Claggy taught me that on Twitter today. So because of the major pwnage going on at Carmel's farmers market, GO THERE! Saturdays, 8-11:30 or something like that. We ended up buying some crazy good honey, fresh lemon spice spaghetti (which should be featured in my next post!!!), and some delicious smelling tea that I have yet to brew. It's pretty freakin' ridiculously awesome.

What I did pick up, however, while I was in Zionsville was zucchini.

Zucchini Bread

Aren't they pretty? Believe it or not, I went to the farmers market intending to buy a couple zucchini. I had recently come across a recipe for zucchini bread and I though, "you know what? I feel like that has the potential to be incredibly delicious." Hopefully I was right.

I feel like far too many people are afraid to embrace vegetables. People automatically think vegetables = yucky. WRONG. You all are missing out on so many wonderful culinary experiences because your preconceived notions of this amazing food group are so so so so so wrong! Vegetables are delicious if you prepare them the right way. If I didn't tell you, you probably wouldn't even realize you were enjoying a vegetable when eating this.

Zucchini bread is kind of like banana bread. Except they are completely different. Following me so far? The recipe that I used is from the Kitchen Sink. It's a little chocolately, but not too overpowering. The best part is the recipes healthified!!! The butter's been replaced with applesauce, the oil is minimal, most of the flour is whole wheat, instead of all whole eggs some whites are used, it's just the right hint of chocolatey, and it's a hidden serving of vegetable!!!

Zucchini Bread

Green and brown are so like my two favorite colors! When I told Sally, "that brown thing" was the finished loaf she exclaimed, "Hey! That look like cake!" Righto Sally! It kinda tastes like it too, very subtle in it's sweetness but incredibly dense and moist. I imagine this being delicious with a cup of tea, I think I'm going to try it with the new leaves I got at the Carmel famers market :D. I did only use two of my zucchini for this recipe, now I need to find a use for the third...

Zucchini Bread

Check out the recipe:

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

So guess what? Somebody actually asked me to make them a birthday cake! Naturally, I was thrilled to do so! It was actually a friend of my brother's, his birthday was yesterday, so Happy Birthday Matt!

When I was discussing with Matt what type of birthday cake he would like he told me his mom's allergic to chocolate. What is it with everyone and chocolate? It really is, at least in my opinion, one of the GREATEST substances on Earth. If I was allergic to chocolate... I would probably die. Because I would eat chocolate anyway, and in large quantities. But anyway! After I finally came to terms with the fact that working without chocolate would not completely stifle any sense of creativity, Matt informed me that a number of types of fruit cakes sounded good, and cream cheese frosting wasn't a bad idea either.

So I set out looking for a fruity cake that sounded appealing, and all the ones I like had chocolate frosting :(. So I ditched the fruit. Sorry Matt! What I did adopt, however, was a cake that I've been wanting to make for quite some time: Italian Cream Wedding Cake! Most of my baking endeavors end up being taste tested by Taylor who is not a fan of coconut or nuts. Both of which are utilized in this lovely cake from A Passion for Baking. I put it on the back burner numerous times, opting for something that would be more pleasing to the anti-coconut and anti-pecan crowd, but I decided to cross my fingers and hope it would be ok for Matt.

Taylor actually helped me make this cake, basically a moist vanilla cake with citrus notes added and a big handful of toasted pecans and coconut. I cut the two cake layers I baked off in half to make a four layer cake. In between the cake layers were generous amounts of pastry cream (kind of a thick vanilla custard that I'll go into more detail about in my next post) and then the whole thing was covered in a thick layer of cream cheese frosting.


I had some fun piping... so fun, in fact, that I ordered a piping set off Amazon that should be here in about a week :D Now I'm going to need another birthday (or some other awesome occasion) to make a big cake for!!! Let me know if you have any suggestions!

Matt's Birthday Cake