Banana Oatmeal Cookies

Ah, the sun. The nice, bright weather has gotten me outside almost everyday, walking, running (not really because it’s WAY too hot out-I’m a fall person!), biking, volleyball-ing (smite me for using incorrect words), and swimming! Plus, Mirielle Guiliano’s book French Women Don’t Get Fat has further inspired me to eat real, seasonal foods in moderation. I feel great!

On the downside, I haven’t posted in so long. Things have started happening, like schoolwork, food FAILS, and just plain laziness. But hey, you can’t have good times without the bad (and slightly discouraging). But I don’t really care because the next month is going to be AMAZING!

It’s memorial weekend, so we have Monday and Tuesday off from school. Then there’s the Spanish fiesta, the Six Flags band trip, The Hershey sleepaway trip, the Broadway trip, and then…8th grade’s over! Then the day right after the last day of school I’m off on a Caribbean cruise. Life can treat you well like that :).

Now, in an attempt to connect the cookies to what I’m talking about, I’ll say that these cookies are as glowy as the sun. Not really. But there’s not much to say about these cookies. The bananas make them soft and sweet, and they are aromatic little things. It was my first time working with Crisco shortening! Up until now, I’ve managed to avoid it by using butter, because frankly, the white stuff scares me. And if you take a look at the nutrition facts, that’s a whole ‘nother story. But I did it, and it truly did make the cookies worthwhile!

You can get the recipe here.

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Peanut Butter Energy Balls

These cute little things are crammed with energy and protein. Feeling drained? Simply pop one and go. Running out the door in the A.M.? Grab a few as a quick breakfast of protein and carbs. Not only are they good for you, but they are sweet and nutty and as full of flavor as they are energy. I usually eat them before or after working. And feel free to make them into an anything-but-the-kitchen-sink type of thing! Wonderfully customizable, so get as creative as you wish.

Mix of ingredients going into the nut butter.

Mixture of ingredients and peanut butter all combined into one hot mess. If you eat this while it’s nice and warm with a spoon, you almost feel like you’re eating raw cookie dough….Just a thought 🙂

Rolled into neat capsules of energy.

It seems that good things really do come in small packages.

Peanut Butter Balls

based off of Keepitsimple.com

  • 1 cup nut butter (I used a combo of cashew and peanut) Try to make it unsweetened since sweetener will be added
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 1 cup old-fashioned uncooked rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup sliced nuts (I used almonds)
  • 1/2 cup dried fruits (I used raisins)
  • dash of cinnamon
  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, mix together the nut butter and agave until combined. Throw in the remaining ingredients and stir.
  2. Let the whole thing cool in the fridge for a few minutes or until easy to handle.
  3. Roll tablespoons of the stuff into balls and store in a container. Keep in the fridge.

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Quinoa and Black Beans

Watch as colorful ingredients combine into one healthful and lively dish!

Spring break! And for those people who aren’t traveling, this means lazy days are ahead. And what else to do when I’m bored but to cook?

Looking around in the library, I found this cookbook called Mayumi’s Kitchen. Mayumi is a macrobiotic cook, which means that she focuses on making clean, wholesome meals. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that she had even cooked for Madonna for 7 years!

Let me break it down: The Macrobiotic Diet is based off of Japanese cuisine. Whole grains, vegetables, and legumes are the foundation of this diet, which basically means that it’s vegan. Unless, of course, you decidedly go the flexitarian way and eat meat only once in a while. Fruits and nuts are eaten here and there, too. Although, soups and salads are plentiful, and cleansing teas are the drinks of choice. But to tell you the truth? what attracted me the most to this diet were all the CARBS, BABY! (Let it rain rice). Being an Asian (Filipino, to be exact), I ate white rice morning, noon, and night. Of course, my grains tend to be healthier and more wholesome nowadays, but still- that’s a lot better than just eating like a rabbit all day.

The traditional Asian diet is obviously a high-carbohydrate one, which gives the benefit of providing a lot of energy, which was essential for getting through the more physical demands that existed back then. Being a recreational runner, my diet needs to consist of 50% grains, so that’s a plus! For example, the standard macrobiotic breakfast is soft-cooked brown rice with miso soup and tea.

I was so looking forward to cleansing my body of all the junk I had been eating (Cake, buffets, burgers, the like), so I was inspired to look up a recipe that would use up some of my quinoa (pronounced keen-wa). Luckily, I found this delicious recipe from allrecipes.com, which uses quinoa, a common macrobiotic grain source, and beans, which provides the macrobiotic protein. It’s easy, quick, and bursting with fresh, clean flavors!

P.S. The perfect ratio of beans:quinoa:corn:cilantro make for one photogenic and colorful meal every time.

I love the energy these ingredients bring to the recipe.

Quinoa and Black Beans

allrecipes.com

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, and saute until lightly browned.
  2. Mix quinoa into the saucepan and cover with vegetable broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes,
  3. Stir frozen corn into the saucepan, and continue to simmer about 5 minutes until heated through. Mix in the black beans and cilantro.

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Banana Bars

I’ve never in my life experienced so much schoolwork in one day. You don’t know hard work until you spend the entire day working on just one thing-namely my book report. I’m not one to procrastinate, but even though we’ve been given five days in school to work on it, I’ve just been telling myself that I work better at home. It turns out that I do- that way I can also whine and complain about how much my hands hurt from gluing and pasting. Why does everything have to be due on Monday?

On the brighter side, it’s 10:40, and I get to relax after a hard days work. All the stress, GONE. Thank goodness, I would sigh a thousand sighs a thousand times.

Every time I eat these banana bars, my mind just reverts to either carrot cake or honey bars. It must be the cream cheese frosting. I love the slight tang in the frosting that only cream cheese can give it! The bars are a little on the thin side, so it gives you way to eat two more :). They are from the Betty Crocker website.


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Simple Jam Cakes

Since I had not yet finished Friday’s homework (a task that was usually completed on Saturday) it was something that kept flying around me like a gnat all morning. That’s why Sundays are always the perfect time to go to diners. It cleanses the mind of all its worries with it’s hearty meals and bustling ambiance. My mom said that you could always tell the ones who literally just rolled out of bed and went straight to the diner- sort of like my sister and I, with bedheads and a random jacket thrown on. Nothing of that matters, of course, when the food comes. Food has no prejudices; it just wants to be eaten, which is so great about it. It tastes wonderful no matter who you are. So I indulged in just pure french toast, butter, and maple syrup, for once not worrying about whether I had a  balanced breakfast of lean proteins and complex carbs. Later in the day it gave me a heck of a sugar rush, providing enough energy for a higher pace than usual in my runs.

I will be determined to try and blog at least one thing a week from now on!  Hopefully writing about this will help me pull through, because I read somewhere that when you write down a goal, it is no longer a wish, but an ambition that will come true.

I’ve always loved, delicate, whimsical, and buoyant things. For example, I have this fragile porcelain figurine of a girl ballerina sitting with her legs folded. Her expression is dewy and glowing, and her skin as white as, well, snow. Her delicate lips are outlined in a pretty red color, and she sits gracefully with poise anywhere I place her. She is beautiful, and she is miniature. This nameless trinket is a favorite possession of mine.



Like this ballerina, tea time is also included in that category of sprightly things. It reminds me of china and tea cups and soft, feminine knick knacks, of filigree metalwork etched on tables. To me, these Simple Jam Cakes are treats that are certainly meant to be shared over a cup of tea

Mini Jam Cakes

  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1.2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups of your favorite jam (I used Smucker’s sugar-free strawberry jam. I’d imagine that grape jam, peach jam, and orange marmalade would taste great, too!)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 F

In a small bowl, stir flour and baking soda and powder

In a large bowl, mix together the softened butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla, then gradually blend into dry ingredients.

Scoop teaspoonfuls of batter onto greased cookie sheets.

Bake 8-10 min. Let stand on cookie shoot for 2 min before removing to cool on wire racks.

*Have fun with the colors! By using strawberry jam, mine came out to be a light pink color. Since no extra sugar is added besides the jam, these are subtly (not overwhelmingly) sweet!

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My First Banana Bread

February’s been a tough one for  me. There’s been tons of schoolwork, which has left me sprawled out on my bed every night, defeated. But don’t think that I haven’t been baking, because I have. Weekends are when I’m in baking mode. But of course, being a natural perfectionist, I ended up not posting all that I have been making for a manifold of reasons. For example, I’ve been trying to get this cookie bar recipe just right for the longest time. The first time I made it, it was too mushy , and the second time, it was too hard. I learned I valuable lesson about pans and timing that day.

What's with the weird oozing chocolate?

 

And then of course there were the nutella brownies! Looking through foodgawker, I am most drawn to the sweets, and anything that looks dense, chewy, and sinful. But right then and there I wanted something chocolatey, but not a full out production to make. And I also didn’t want it to be that rich, because I was a little full from what I ate before. So I made these cute little things, and they turned out perfect- but low and behold, the camera wasn’t charged. And the charger was nowhere in sight. I shed several internal tears, and in my watery emotions of sadness and aggravation, ate up the last of the brownies.

One of the most challenging things of food blogging is photographing the food. I’m constantly inspired by the progress that I’ve seen when I look through other food bloggers’ archives. I find it intriguing to observe their progression through pictures,to where they went from a simple point-and-shoot photo to a shot where all the elements of lighting, staging, and food are just right.Sometimes all I want is just a good picture worthy to post on my blog, but it never seems to be that simple. It makes you want to tear your hair out sometimes, but I am gradually learning as I page through numerous food blogs, tutorials, and Google searches.

Photographing food sometimes seems like a race against time. I’m chasing to find the best natural light to take pictures, which is usually the bright, soft, and gentle light of the late morning and early afternoon sun. But I can’t always bake around that time, so making do with a light-reflecting foam board and white balance works out perfectly fine. Except when I can’t figure out how to present my food. That’s just annoying.

Luckily, this banana bread did enough to get me out of the rut! Three ripe bananas sitting on the table, what could be a more perfect opportunity? So searching on Google, I found one quick, easy, and moist loaf from Whipped that deemed successful. Just take care not to eat too much of the batter.

Banana Bread

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 large, ripe bananas, mashed (but make sure to leave some small chunks!)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  1. Grease and flour 1 loaf pan. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Whisk together flour, soda, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Mix in the eggs and bananas. Slowly stir int he melted butter until just incorporated. DO NOT OVER MIX THE BATTER.
  3. Bake 45-50 minutes. It is done when a toothpick comes out clean from the center.
  4. Let cool in pan 5 minutes and then put it out onto a rack to cool completely.

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Monkey Bread


I remember the first time I’ve ever heard of it. My mom was telling me about what we we’re having for Christmas day, and said that she had found this easy recipe called monkey bread.

Monkey bread? I had never heard of it before. It sounded a little bit queer.

But you know those times when old sayings like “Don’t judge a book by its cover” applies so perfectly to a situation? This was one of those times.

Monkey bread is a sweet cinnamon pull-apart bread that is glazed over with butter and sugar. It’s unbelievably sinful, and yet I feel that I could eat the whole thing throughout one day. Each soft morsel you gingerly pull from the bread makes the mouth water, and the aroma whisks you away to some bakery full of freshly monkey bread. It’s addictive. I want it every day, yet have to be restrained to only special occasions. It’s the kind of food that you can’t help but nibble off of here and there, just because it’s too easy to just eat it with your hands, like a monkey. This will drive you bananas. Be warned. There will come a time when you think, “I should just finish this whole thing off right now, and I’ll be good the rest of the week, I swear!” What should you do then? Do what’s right, that’s all I’m gonna say.

First you cut the biscuits into fourths.

Then you shake up that bag! This is fun for little kids to do. You can get a little game of catch going.

Then put the dough in the pan and coat with syrup.

Bake!

(I did not use walnuts in this monkey bread)

Monkey Bread

from pillsbury

Serves 12

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cans (16.3 oz each) Pillsbury Grands! Homestyle refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
  1. Heat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a bundt pan with shortening or cooking spray. In a large ziploc, mix granulated sugar and cinnamon.
  2. Separate dough into 16 biscuits by cutting each biscuit into quarters. Shake in bag to coat with cinnamon sugar (Have fun with this!).
  3. Arrange dough in pan, layering the walnuts and raisins among the pieces.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the melted butter and brown sugar. Pour over the biscuits.
  5. Bake 28-32 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Before turning upside down onto a serving plate, try to scrape down the sides of the pan with a spatula to loosen the bread so everything comes out in one piece.
  6. Serve warm and pull apart to serve.

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Filed under Bread, Desserts & Sweets