Some Recent Kitchen Experiments

I know I’m not the only person who logs into Pinterest when they are bored and tags a dozen delicious-looking dishes and then signs out. But this past week I was bound and determined to try out some of those recipes! Check out the links and my feedback below:

1. Cinnamon Protein Waffles

Ingredients
  • Serves 2 – makes 4 waffles
  • 1/4 cup oat flour/ground oats
  • 1 scoop vanilla or unflavored whey protein
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  1 tablespoon sweetener
  • 1 banana
  • 2 egg whites

Instructions

1. Put ingredients in a bowl and mix with a hand blender or put all the ingredients in a food processor to mix. This is important or else you won’t get a nice thin batter, mix until you get a smooth batter.

2. Pour a 1/4 of the mix into each of your waffle moulds, cook for approx. 5-6 minutes.
3. Serve with your favorite toppings.
Per serving (2 waffles) 173 calories | 2.3g fat | 0.2g sat fat | 23.9g carbs | 15.4g protein.

I’ve been looking for ways to cut down on carbs and increase protein in my life. But I LOVE carbs. All of them. So I thought this recipe might be a way to up my protein while satisfying my carb craving… and my breakfast craving. I was ultimately underwhelmed though 😦 The first issue was that I thought the recipe looked too small for two people to share, so I doubled it. Well, that made a LOT of waffles. Too many. The cinnamon and banana flavors smelled amazing and while the waffles were cooking, they made our mouths water. But when we went to eat them, they were just a bit dry and a little too dense for me. I will say that we had them for dinner one night with sausage and they were just as good the next morning with eggs and turkey in sandwich form. I can definitely play with the batter proportions for next time, but I might just scrap this recipe and look for another one.Do any of you have any suggestions?!

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2. Simple Turkey Burgers

1 lb. ground turkey meat (prefer thigh meat)
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced (or whatever fresh herbs you like)
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
cheese (optional)

Mix ingredients together and form 4-6 patties. Grill on medium heat for 7 minutes a side. 2 minutes before burgers are done, place a slice of cheese (optional) on each patty. Serve hot.

In addition to breakfast and carbs, I also enjoy Greek-style cooking and ground turkey. Frozen turkey burgers from the store lack a bit of flavor, in my opinion. So I wanted to try to make my own patties and it helped that my mom just gave me a Tupperware container made specifically for pressing and freezing homemade patties! This recipe ended up making seven patties for me from the 1.08 pounds of ground turkey. So that patties are a great size as far as portion-control goes. I used my George Foreman to grill them, since my oven has been out of commission. One turkey patty on an English muffin, topped with cucumbers, spinach, and tzatziki sauce, was the PERFECT dinner. I am so sorry I didn’t take a picture of the whole ensemble but I’ll try to remember to update the blog the next time we have them. I thought the spices gave the burgers enough character to hold their own and it was super easy to make. The best part? Having five extra patties to put in the freezer for another meal. I highly recommend checking out this recipe for quick and yummy burgers!

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3. Zucchini Carrot Oatmeal Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs + 1 large egg white
  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 3/4 cup raisins

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and oil. Stir in grated zucchini and carrots. Add to dry ingredients and stir until combined.
  3. Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full and bake for approx. 20 minutes. They are done when a knife inserted comes out clean, and tops spring back when lightly touched.

 

My love of carbs and Greek-influenced foods drove my decision to make the first two dishes I shared tonight. But my DISLIKE of things is what drove my choice to make these muffins. Now, I do like muffins and I’ll eat zucchini. But I actively do not like carrots. Cooked or uncooked. Dunked in hummus or stir-fried with broccoli and cauliflower. None of it. They just aren’t my thing. I also don’t prefer oatmeal. It’s grainy and borders the “hot liquid” category that I avoid like the plague. But, I am trying to sneak more veggies into my meals and swap out white flours for brown or whole wheat flours. I will say that once I got started on this recipe tonight, I realized that there was still a LOT of sugar and a mixture of flours. Baby steps, right?

Anyway, I made this recipe exactly as written and it was DELICIOUS! I got 18 muffins out of the batter, so I’ll have some to freeze and keep for later. I haven’t had dinner yet but I couldn’t wait to try the muffins so I snuck a hot one off the pan. Everyone knows that’s when they are the best anyway 😉 I could actively taste the oats and carrots, but didn’t mind them! There were also raisins in the batter, which I considered leaving out, but decided to keep everything as prescribed the first attempt. They were moist and flavorful and yummy! I can’t wait to have another one as a side to my chicken dinner tonight.

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Ribbon Wreaths!

A few weeks ago, I joined a Pinterest-inspired Meet-up group. Basically, someone finds a cool craft project idea on Pinterest and then we all come together and make it! I have to admit, I’ve only been once. But it’s a start 🙂 I chose to go to an event that was a little open-ended, we were all supposed to pick a wreath project of our choosing to work on that day. So I went through my “craft ideas” Pinterest board to see what wreaths I’ve saved and I came across this one. It looked fairly easy… I mean, everyone can tie knots, right? So I went to JoAnn Fabrics and Michael’s and bought a TON of ribbon and two frames. I figured if I was going to try this, I might as well get the supplies to try two different wreaths. I should admit that I probably stood in front of the ribbon sections at each of those stores for a good hour. Each. I couldn’t make up my mind on what colors/themes/styles of ribbon I wanted!

I finally settled on grosgrain ribbon, because it has a little texture to it, which I thought would hold better in the knots. At Michael’s they have Celebrate It 360 brand, which is 4 yards (12 feet) of ribbon per spool. At JoAnns they have Offray brand ribbon, which is only 3 yards (9 feet). Both brands are 1 1/2″ wide, which was important to me. I went overboard with how many spools I bought, partly because I got a few extra colors because I couldn’t make up my mind, and partly because I didn’t know how much material I would need. It turned out that I used a combination of Celebrate It 360 and Offray ribbons on both wreaths. On the green/blue/yellow wreath, I had five spools total with more of the longer Celebrate It 360 colors. On the teal/coral/gray wreath, I had six spools total with more of the shorter Offray colors.

Oh! And I also bought new fabric/ribbon scissors to make my job easier. And a clear hook to hang my wreaths on over my bedroom door. Because these were going to be indoor wreaths, I went with 12″ wreath frames instead of anything larger. One final tip on ribbon wreath supplies, USE COUPONS or WAIT FOR A SALE!! Each of these spools was $4 or $5, plus the $3 frame and this would add up fast! I got all of mine when stores were having 40% off their ribbon collections, which brought the prices down to $2.40 and $3, respectively. This meant that my wreaths were right at $20 each for the supplies, and not including the scissors which I now own and were $15.

But enough logistics, let’s get to the fun stuff! The first decision was how long to cut each strip of ribbon. I didn’t have a ruler with me at the meet-up (typical rookie) so I measured across the center of the wreath. That seemed too big, so I went across two of the spokes of the frame. It made a ribbon length that was maybe… 6 inches? 7 inches? Somewhere in there. It’s really up to you what you think will work. You need the ribbons to be long enough to tie, but not to long to flop over… unless you want that look!

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The second decision I made was what to do with the ends of the ribbon once they were cut. I tried a few varieties: straight across, angled, and wedged. I personally liked the tips that were wedged, coming in from both sides to a point in the middle (see strips above). On the first wreath, I cut and tied as I went but on the second wreath I decided to cut all the strips first since I “knew” what I was doing. After that, I just picked a quadrant… really just a one-sixth section of the wreath and started with the knots. I decided on both wreaths to just do a mix of colors throughout so I tried to separate the similar tones and mix in the pops of color. I do love the patriotic wreath from Pinterest that looked like a flag and I would consider doing a pattern of sorts in a later attempt. But for my rookie projects, I went with a nice mix. I found that on average, I could tie five knots on the outer ring, four on each of the middle two rings, and three on the inner rings. I also learned that I could switch up which direction I tied the knots in the vary the direction of the tips. So sometimes the right tail went over and sometimes it went under. I did not alternate in a direct pattern or format, just as I felt the tips needed variety.

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I won’t lie to you, this was not a fast process. The cutting of the ribbon wasn’t too bad, I probably knocked it all out in 30-45 minutes. The knots took probably 20 minutes per section, or two hours for the whole wreath. Again, it’s up to you how full or packed in you want the ribbons. I left them a little loose so the tips could really be seen. I did try to cover the frame from sight, just to make it appear finished and clean. After I got all the way around, I went back and fluffed, checked for holes, etc. and added a few additional strips here and there. Another note on ribbon choice, several of my ribbons had patterns (dots, stripes, chevron…) but that is obviously only printed on one side of the ribbon. When making knots, I would flip the patter into the inside and then pull the tips up in a cupped appearance so the patter would be seen. That’s me being OCD but I will say that the solid color ribbons were way easier in that regard as you didn’t have to keep track of the “front” of the ribbon when making the knots.

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Finally, I decided to top the wreaths off with a signature “K” since they were going to be hung on my bedroom door. Luckily for me, my first initial is a letter that has appendages so this step was easier for me than it might be for you. I was able to take a regular paperclip (white on the green/blue/yellow wreath, silver on the teal/coral/gray wreath) and just wrap it around the letter and the section divider on the wreath frame. It stayed on the first try both times! I can adjust it if needed and I didn’t pull too tight to smash the ribbons behind it. I went with colors that complimented the ribbons and colors that were available at Michael’s. I think each letter was $3, the white one is wooden and the silver one is foam. They both work, giving the green/blue/yellow wreath a preppier look while the teal/coral/gray is a little more playful.

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I’m sure that I could be more creative with knot ribbon wreaths in the future, but for my first attempts I am pretty happy! Like I mentioned before, on my next one I would try a pattern of sorts, possibly even divide the colors up into the six sections of the wreath frame and color block around. That might really work for a Halloween wreath with blacks and oranges and whites. You could also use burlap ribbons but I would not recommend satin, just because they won’t hold their shapes as well. I’d play with the tips too, for variety. And you could really add whatever embellishment you wanted, a Christmas tree, Easter eggs, stars, etc. Just have fun with it! And remember that the best part about these knot ribbon wreaths is that you can untie any “mistakes” you think you made and try again. Parents, this would be a fun project for kids too. Once they are of knot-tying age. You could prep the ribbons (if you left the edges flat or just at an angle cutting goes much faster) and then let them go crazy with knots.

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Room Pictures at “New” Place

Today I finally, FINALLY got around to putting things on my walls at our “new” house in Encinitas. I use quotes because we’ve been here since November, technically. I have some work to do still, but at least the wall aren’t bare anymore. I tried to use captions to describe where you are in the space, but sorry if it’s complicating. Enjoy!!

Walk into my room and this is directly in front of you.

Walk into my room and this is directly in front of you.

 

Look slightly left and you see my sliding door and papasan chair.

Look slightly left and you see my sliding door and papasan chair.

 

Some of my new and old favorite people :)

Some of my new and old favorite people 🙂

 

More of my crazy friends and family, doing what we do!

More of my crazy friends and family, doing what we do!

 

Then sit on my bed and look left, here is my wall of closets.

Then sit on my bed and look left, here is my wall of closets.

 

Directly across from my bed, scenic shots and my medals!!

Directly across from my bed, scenic shots and my medals!!

 

Completing the circle is my main door and secret closet.

Completing the circle is my main door and secret closet.

 

 

Go back out my main door and I have a bonus shelf in the hallway with travel trinkets.

Back through my main door, I have a bonus shelf with travel trinkets.

Sochi Inspired Life

As most of you know, I spent ten days on the East Coast. I posted some pictures on Facebook that you are welcome to check out, but the bottom line is that I saw a ton of awesome people, I saw a LOT of snow, and I was cold 🙂

Since I’ve been back in sunny (and warm) SoCal, I’ve been really focusing on starting and finishing projects that have been on hold for months. For example, I submitted my passport for renewal (who wants to travel once I get it back?!). I’ve really kicked off organizing my scrapbook supplies with the goal of making my Briar Woods book in the coming weeks. I’ve also watched a lot of the Olympics. Like a lot a lot. Using Mom’s Verizon password I have access to NBC’s Live Extra app on my iPad which allows me to watch hours of coverage of the events. I’m basically in heaven. Because I’m basically obsessed with the Olympics.

So what else have I done today? I have Growth Group tonight which is the weekly Bible study that ties to the sermon from the past week. Growth Group is something I love most about my church. But I digress. It’s my turn to bring dessert tonight, so I figured I would keep with my Olympics theme and make a Russian dessert… Ha! After much searching on Pinterest, I stumbled across this “easy” recipe for Sharlotka, a Russian apple cake that looked delicious and fairly straight-forward. It also looked like something people would actually want to eat. So here we go!

First, the peeling and coring and dicing of the apples… I was over it before the first apple was done. I also don’t really love apples, so that may have had an affect. You’ll also see that I opted for the 9×13″ option over the 9″ round, basically because I had this and I don’t have that.

20140220-150046.jpgOnce that was done, I had to mix up everything else. No big deal here, got to use my blender and my mixing bowl with a lid (it’s one of my favorite kitchen tools). I was watching men’s skier cross during this part of the process. Technology is amazing 🙂 Once the batter was done, I folded in all the apple chunks and we were good to go!

20140220-150100.jpgThen I just had to pour the mixture back into my pan and throw it in the oven. I taste-tested the batter left in the bowl and was happy that I at least liked the taste of that. Since I was using the bigger pan, I didn’t have to cook the dish as long, which was an added bonus of my choice.

20140220-150111.jpgWhile that was cooking for 20-25 minutes, I sat at the table and worked on part two of my dessert plan. So I figured Russian apple cake would taste good with the option of heating it and adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream, which I bought. But I also wanted an option for people who might not like apple cakes, or trying new things. So I decided to take five bowls and sort M&M’s into Olympics rings colors. Then I could have a bowl of round pretzels as well to carry out the rings theme… nerdy, I know. But here is a shot of my sorting process anyway, because it made me happy. As a side note, I was watching women’s skiing half pipe… not to dis-credit these women, they are Olympians and I’m not, but this event is SO different from the men’s event. They just aren’t comparable at all. Which didn’t stop me from watching it while I sorted.

20140220-150136.jpgAnd yes, if y’all were wondering I DO feel a little bad for the orange ones because they aren’t going to the party. But I’m sure my roomies and I will snack on them this weekend. Please also notice the two cutie oranges on the table, which is to prove that I didn’t eat the chocolate and stuck with the fruit instead!  Additionally, if you are curious there is officially NOT an even distribution of colors of M&M’s in a 42 oz. bag. Poor yellow and brown (shown here as the black ring). When that project was finished, so was my cake!

20140220-150143.jpgI still need to add a light dusting of powdered sugar (or dare I say “snow”) to the top but overall it looks good! I hope my Growth Group appreciates my Olympics themed dessert tonight and I’ll have to let you know how it tastes once we cut into it. Overall I am happy that I forced myself to create a new dish and to expand my cooking inventory. Happy Sochi Days!!

Das Schnitzel Schmeckte Gut

Translation: The schnitzel tasted good. This past Tuesday night we decided in German food for dinner and I chose to take on making schnitzel. I wanted to try frying in my new, bigger skillet! I will admit that I cheated and bought my pork already filleted and tenderized from Tip Top meats. But I did then go through and trim some of the bigger fat chunks off the edges.

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Next, I set about prepping the coatings. On the left is flour and on the right is breadcrumbs. I realized I only had Italian seasoned crumbs, but we rolled with it. For the center mix, I blended three eggs, a cup of milk, and three tablespoons each of salt and pepper. I felt like that was way too much? But my sou chef Sean said to go with it, so we did. I should pause to mention that this was not a healthy entree on any standards, but I did try to substitute healthier ingredients where I could.

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Next up was the coating and frying process! I wish I had a picture of my hands after dipping the meat first in eggs, then in flour, then back in eggs, and finally in the breadcrumbs. I did get smarter after the first two rounds and just go ahead and dip the last four all at the same time so I didn’t have to clean my fingers each time. After it was battered, I dropped the meat (carefully) into the hot oil and watched it sizzle!

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The frying process actually took a lot longer than I thought, but it was also a lot cleaner too. Of course there were a few splatters on the stove too, but I didn’t get hit at all and nothing got on my clothes, yay! After checking each side and flipping and guessing and discussing, we finally concluded that about 5-6 minutes on each side was the ideal time. I had the oven on 200 degrees with a baking sheet in there, and put each piece in to keep warm since I was frying one at a time.

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Once all the pieces were done, and our delicious asparagus (Sean’s contribution), we grabbed our glasses and sat down to eat. I should mention that we had sangria, which is very un-German because I am going on a cruise in June and we can take two bottles of alcohol on each. I don’t love regular wine though, and I saw this sangria at Costco the other day and wanted to try it. The boys saw it in the fridge, so away we went! Oh, and not shown in the picture below is the amazing German chocolate cake Xavier brought for dessert. I wasn’t a huge fan of the coconut mixture on top, but I did really like the cake and it was the perfectly sweet ending to our slightly Americanized German dinner!

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Last Cooking Class :(

Monday night I had my last Japanese cooking and conversation class.  It really was bittersweet because I’m glad to have my Monday night back, but I loved making these dishes and getting to know my classmates.  We made three dishes this week, a full meal in fact. Miso soup was our appetizer, then we had fried rice as the main course, and mochi as the dessert.

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Starting with the miso soup. Those of you that know me know that hot liquids or soups are not my thing. But I did sample this at the end, once it had cooled off for a while.  It wasn’t bad and the tofu in it was pretty good, but I probably won’t make it again until someone requests it. I can’t even really remember what was in it because I was prepping for the fried rice dish while others in my group made the miso.  But I do have the recipe so I could recreate it if necessary. Above is the boiling pot cooking and below is my individual sample cooling off.

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Next, was the fried rice dish.  I was really excited to make this because it seems like a good freezer dish for weekend dinners. We started with all the veggies and cooked them on our “stove”. We used carrots, green beans, peas, and corn. Then we added in our meats, which were chicken and ham but you can use almost anything. Then we mixed in the already cooked rice and some soy sauce for seasoning.

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After this part of the dish had been properly fried, we removed it from the heat so we could attend to the eggs. We first mixed the eggs with some sugar and salt, then cooked them on the stove. Once they were done, we chopped them up and layered them on top of our dish. Then some green onions were sprinkled on the top. We added some red ginger shavings as well, but I took the picture below before that and forgot to go back and take another one.  This dish turned out great and was SO good. I could’ve eaten the whole pan if I had tried. Will absolutely make this again.

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Our final dish of the evening was mochi. Now, I’ve only ever had the ice cream version of this so I didn’t know what to expect. We made our own first, which were basically rice cakes fried on the stove for a minute, then seasoned and wrapped in seaweed.  I won’t lie, they weren’t sweet enough for me to consider them a dessert.

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Then, one of our classmates had bought a variety of bean-filled mochi from a Japanese market near her house. So we had a sampling of all of these different varieties of mochi.  They were a little better, but again I prefer the ice cream version which comes in green tea or strawberry or chocolate 🙂

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Again, I absolutely LOVED this class and our instructor was adorable. I would recommend it to anyone in the SoCal area! I’m sad it’s over but my stomach is also glad because it was stuffed every Monday night for the last six weeks, lol. I hope you all have enjoyed reading about all these yummy dishes and be sure to go back through my Cooking/Nutrition category to read about our past creations!

Getting Fat in Class

As y’all know, I LOVE my Japanese cooking class on Monday nights! You should check out my past creations in the cooking/nutrition category over on the right. We made two dishes again last night in class, one that I loved and one that wasn’t so much my thing but was still good.  I’ll start with the only okay dish 🙂 We made curry rice with beef in an apple/honey curry mix. It was kind of a stew, which is why I didn’t love it.  But the veggies were good! We used carrots, potatoes and onion.  The big dish is below, without the rice base that we served it with.

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The second dish we made was way more my speed! I have an undying love for breakfast foods, of all kinds, at all times of the day.  So I was very excited when I heard we were learning how to make Okonomi-yaki, which are Japanese pancakes.  I won’t be able to describe all of the ingredients because some are quite Japanese, but I’ll try!  The batter started with a powder mix similar to American pancakes, but then we added in cabbage, green onions and eggs. This made a thick batter, super thick. I should’ve taken a picture of it.  Next step, we cooked cut up strips of pork on the griddle and then poured the batter on top in a circular (ish) shape.

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After cooking on both sides, we spread a secret sauce on top and then sprinkled with seaweed flakes.  There was an option to add mayonnaise as well but thankfully we didn’t do that (gross!).  Here are two shots of us cooking the pancake and then the final product being cut on the plate!

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Following in the breakfast theme, I finally got around to making donuts this morning! I got a mix for apple cinnamon donuts for Christmas and I have donut baking pans, but I just haven’t gotten around to it.  So this morning I mixed it up, tossed them in the oven and let them bake! Honestly, the hardest part was spooning the batter evenly into the pans without covering the area for the hole.  Sorry for the wonky camera angle on that shot, by the way.

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I was a little hesitant about the baking because I wasn’t sure if they would be too heavy versus the light donuts I love so much. After they came out of the oven I tossed them in cinnamon to really make them delicious. And after eating a few, I was happy with the result! They were light enough, not fried in oil, and were “only” 90 calories each which is way better than the average donut that clocks in at 220. I can’t wait to see what other donut recipes I can find to try in my sweet pans!

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