Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Baked Falafel and Homemade Tzatziki

I've tried fried falafel, both homemade and at restaurants and while they're good - the oil upsets my stomach (no surprise there, what doesn't these days.) There are a number of recipes out there for falafel both baked and fried, so I cobbled a number together to make a mostly baked version. DH and I both liked the result. I had mine on a salad but DH had his on tortilla (I know pitas are traditional but I didn't want the extras hanging around the house and we needed tortillas for another meal that week.) Using Tori Avey's notes on cooking chickpeas, I used only soaked chickpeas for this recipe to let them have a better chance of holding together. I've made this with canned as well but tried frying them, let's just say our frying technique needs a little (lot) of work, not something we'll probably get around to improving unless I'm really craving fasnachts one year.

Based off Oh She Glows's Falafel with a Twist, Cookie + Kate's Crispy Baked Falafel, and Tori Avey's Traditional Falafel

You will need:

- 2 1/4 cups soaked, uncooked chickpeas
- 1/3 cup red onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- ¼ cup packed chopped parsley
- ¼ t cumin
- ¼ cup ground flax
- 2-3 T whole wheat flour (add 2 then add more if needed to hold together)
- pinch salt
- pinch pepper
- pinch ground cardamom
- pinch red pepper or cayenne
- 1-2 T lemon juice
- olive oil or high smoke point oil (sunflower, grapeseed, etc)

1. Combine all ingredients in food processor until between couscous and paste (Torie Avery suggests a course meal)
2. Make sure all chickpea chunks are broken up
3. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours (I refrigerated 3 because of when I started making dinner)
4. Preheat oven to 350
5. Heat large cast iron skillet (I needed both of mine to not crowd) with a little oil, enough to coat the bottom
6. Form into patties using about 2 T of mixture for each, use 1/4 cup if you want larger falafel or patties. 2 T yields ~12 falafel
7. Place patties in skillet(s) and brown on both sides before sticking in the oven
8. Bake for 5 minutes on each side

Alternative cooking methods: You can fry these in 1 1/2 inches of high-smoke point oil (2-3 minutes a side) but may need to add more binder. You can also use less oil and still cook them on the stove, just browning them.

To Serve: On a pita with red onion, hummus, tomatoes or on a salad with similar. I add a Tzatziki sauce for salads because why not.

The recipe for the Tzatziki is as follows (note, I do use dairy yogurt for this recipe, I hate the taste of coconut yogurt and that's the only non-dairy yogurt our main grocery store stocks- but if you can find a neutral tasting non-dairy yogurt, go for it.)

You will need:
1 1/2 cups Greek Yogurt (I use Fage 0% since they're the only ones with actually 0mg of cholesterol per serving)
1 large Cucumber, peeled, cored, and chopped or shredded
1/2 cup Fresh Dill, chopped
1-2 t Sea Salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T lemon juice
Splash olive oil

1. Salt the cucumber and let drain for 30 minutes
2. Squeeze dry the cucumber
3. Combine all ingredients
4. Taste a day later to season to taste (I tend to up the salt and lemon juice)

Note: Tzatziki is best the next day but I've made it the same day without any problems but at least make it the same time as the falafel mixture to meld.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Super Rich Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

This is another not-quite-healthy quick breads. The texture is akin to a very soft cake really. I made this for church the same week I made the Stained Glass Cake-Bread. No one thought it had zucchini bread, in fact one person who said she hated zucchini bread said she loved it, even after hearing there was zucchini in it! (might have something to do with all of the chocolate- just a thought) It's a really simple bread to throw together. If it were a bit more substantial I would suggest it as a bake sale item, I think with almond meal instead of flour it could go gluten free, and it's already vegan (if you use a vegan brown sugar.) I wonder how it would go in a muffin pan instead...

Barely Adapted From Movita Beaucoup's Chocolate Zucchini Bread

You Will Need:

- 1 medium zucchini (~ 1 1/2-2/3 cup), shredded
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 t baking soda
- 1/4 t baking powder
- 1/4 t salt
- 1/2 t cinnamon
- 1/4 all spice
- 1/2 cup butter substitute
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 2 1/2 T ground chia or flax in 4 T water (this is less water than normal because of all the liquid in the recipe)
- 1 t vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

To Make:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. 
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the flours, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices.
  3. Cream the butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.
  4. Fold in zucchini.
  5. Add dry ingredients until just combined.
  6. Fold in chocolate chips
  7. Place batter in greased medium loaf pan (I used 8 ½ x 4 or so)
  8. Bake for about an hour until a cake tester comes out clean.
  9. Cool in pan (I'm serious, it will fall apart on you otherwise)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Stained Glass Cake-Bread

I don't think it's a surprise that the Library is one the
most popular place on campus for weddings
, when it's full of
windows like these

I call it the Stained Glass Cake-Bread for two reasons:

1. I agree with Big Bear's Wife that it does look a bit like stained glass and I think of three places with stained glass- the chapel where DH and I had our ceremony, our current church, and the Armstrong-Browning Library at Baylor. I was going to call this the Armstrong-Browning Cake-Bread but somehow that seemed like more of a mouthful.
2. The batter isn't quite a straight quick bread. It reminds me a lot of a shortcake. But I baked in a loaf pan and it was originally labeled bread, so I'll call it a Cake-Bread.

This recipe was made for snacks at church with a chocolate zucchini bread I'll post at a later date. I tweaked the original recipe to fit my diet restrictions and to up the fruit by 50%. I like fruit and I wanted to add more natural sweetness with the fruit, it's prettier too. Also brought in a large pyrex of cut fruit. It balances the donuts that most people bring in on their weeks. I've brought in fruit crumble, pecan muffins and so forth in the past.

This recipe has a lot of room for variation. The fruit can vary on what's in season and your individual tastes. I think a tropical mango banana bread with macadamia nuts would be great (use banana mash instead of apple sauce and add 1/2 cup chopped nuts.)  Other options are nectarine-blueberry, strawberry- peach, strawberry-banana, mango-blueberry, and so on. I would nuts in starting at a 1/2 cup but could probably go as high as a scant cup depending on your crunch preferences. I might make a mango banana nut for our anniversary next year. The Maui cottage we spent the first week of our honeymoon was full of self-pick produce- mangoes, grapefruit, avocados, coconut, limes, bananas, and so on. We were spoiled (our waistlines showed it with that and all the eating out we did, we at very well on our honeymoon.*)

You Will Need:

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup +1-2 T whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter or butter substitute, room temperature (I used Earth Balance)
1 tsp flax, ground
1 cup white sugar sugar
½ cup applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cup blueberries
1 ½ cup peaches (1-2 peaches)
1/2 cup fat free sour cream
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F. 
  2. Blanch the peaches to peel them (blanch in boiling water 30 seconds, cool in ice bath for 10 seconds, gently apply pressure to remove skin) then dice. Frozen is okay if thawed and drained.   
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the flours (reserving the 1-2 T), baking powder and salt.  
  4. Cream the butter and sugar, add in the applesauce and vanilla. Mix thoroughly. Add in the sour cream, repeat.
  5. Combine wet and dry ingredients.
  6. Sprinkle the reserved whole wheat flour on the fruit, this will prevent it from sinking in the bread. Fold into the batter.  
  7. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cake tester will come out mostly clean.
  8. Remove and cool. I did about 30 mn in the pan because it has a softer texture.

*Food Recommendations: On Maui- Hali'imaile General Store (my favorite meal of the trip), Surfing Goat Dairy (do the tasting tour!), Mama's Fishhouse (This is DH's rec, I was too sick at this point to taste anything), Paia Fish Market, Kimo's, Mala Ocean Tavern. On Oahu- Alan Wong's (expensive but so worth it, we were the last seating and still didn't feel rushed and the staff signed a souvenir menu for each of us since it was our honeymoon) and Burgers on the Edge. In San Diego- U.S. Grant (we only had breakfast there, I highly recommend their french toast) and Hob Nob Hill.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Spaghetti Squash with Oyster Mushrooms and Artichoke Pesto Tomato Sauce

We had this as a first dinner after getting back from Labor Day. While we didn't eat as unhealthy as we usually do on family vacations*, it was nice to have something healthier and lighter and full of veggies when we got home. It's not the prettiest because of the mushrooms darkening the sauce to a muddier color but this isn't a dinner party meal anyway.

This recipe is a bit seasonally confused. Winter/fall spaghetti squash and artichokes, summer tomatoes and seasonless oyster mushrooms.  Our Harris Teeter stocks spaghetti squash year round and with the freezer and canning most stores stock artichoke hearts in some form. The tomatoes came from my aunt's garden and the mushrooms from the HT produce section but normally I would use mushrooms from the mushroom stand at the farmer's market (found out it is/was ranked top in the country in it's size category- totally deserved, it has a fantastic selection.)

Here's what you need:
6 tablespoons of  The Lean Clean Eating Machine's Lemon Artichoke Pesto (we had them frozen in ice cube form from another dinner, used 3 ice cubes)
1 large spaghetti squash
Olive oil
Italian Herb Mix
Dried Basil
Onion powder
Garlic powder
1 lb oyster mushrooms, shredded into large chunks
4 cups grape tomatoes, halved (I added in some mystery tomatoes, chopped)*
1 T butter (or butter substitute)
3 cloves garlic, minced
Nutritional yeast
  1. Roast spaghetti squash (I use Oh She Glows' method but used salt, pepper, Italian herb mix, dried basil, garlic powder, and onion powder) and then shred the squash when roasted
    1. At about 35 minutes into the roasting, prepare the sauce
      1. In a pot throw in tomatoes and oyster mushrooms with a little olive oil, butter (substitute), and garlic.
      2. Sauté until mushrooms are cooked and release liquid.
      3. Toss in pesto to the pan until enough sauce is created that you have enough for your liking, taste and add nutritional yeast if desired
    2. Toss all ingredients together in the pan/pot, let sit for a minute for the flavors to meld, and serve. Top with nutritional yeast or shredded cheese if desired (I had nutritional yeast, DH had some mozzarella)
    *This might have been that I cooked 2/3 of the dinners there. And did the majority of the grocery shopping. I like feeling like I'm a contributing adult (as much as family members fuss about the fact we still have student loans to pay off, we really are okay guys, really. )
    **If you get them in season, careful. We started to run low as I kept snacking on them while preparing the mushrooms. The tomatoes were *so* sweet. Even the larger mystery variety that I tossed in (my aunt grew several varieties this summer, the grape were a surprise and I didn't get the names of all the ones she grew, I know Heinz and Big Boy were among them) were great examples of why you buy use in-season when possible.