Yeast-less Flat Bread

IMG_5573

So much has changed for us in the last month, I don’t even know where to begin. I guess I’ll start with the major changes. We moved! Yes, no longer in my adorable, teeny-tiny, semi-awkward kitchen. Instead I’m in a huge, finished kitchen, complete with dishwasher (whaaat?!).  I actually complained the other day that the dishwasher won’t empty itself. Yes, I said that. Then I remembered this magic machine actually washes dishes for me. The least I could do is put them away and hope it didn’t hear me complain…

IMG_5579 IMG_5534

Major change number two is my health. I’m not taking migraine medication anymore… For the first time in about 7 years. It’s been almost 3 months, and things are going pretty well. This all came about after my doctor recommended a low/zero Tyramine diet. What? That meant I had to completely take out things like cheese, chocolate, cultured dairy, anything aged/cured, yeasted breads, nuts, onions, and my favorite of them all, avocados. No! The theory behind this diet is that I’m allergic to one/some of these items, which is what could be one cause for the migraines. I’m still not sure that is the case, as I’m still going through the allergy “cleanse”, but seeing the major changes in the way I’ve been feeling is turning me into a believer. I’m hopeful.

So because of this diet change, the way I’ve been cooking and eating has had to change drastically. It’s so difficult to go out and eat at a restaurant now, mostly because onions turn up in just about everything. Because of that, I’ve stepped up my cooking game a lot more. With so many restrictions, it has become my personal challenge to create meals I can still have, without compromising on taste.

Aside from the yogurts, avocados, and chocolate, fresh bread has been very missed.  I had gotten used to making a loaf of fresh bread almost every week, only to be told I could no longer have it. While I find myself not eating breads/crackers very often anymore, this flatbread recipe helps me get through when I think I need it. Plus, it is super simple to make and can take on any flavor profile you like. My favorite way to eat it is with some tomato and lemon pepper on top.

IMG_5556

Ingredients:

1 cup water

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup AP flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for pan

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

1 teaspoon dried rosemary

Sprinkle of sea salt

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Oil a 13×9 inch pan with olive oil.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk both flours, baking soda, and the salt. Add the water over the mixture. Using the dough hook, mix on medium speed until the dough all comes together. It will still be very sticky, but should all be combined well.

Scrape dough out of the bowl and into the prepared pan. Using a little bit of olive oil on your fingers, evenly spread out the dough around the pan, taking it all the way to the edges. Drizzle dough with remaining olive oil. Sprinkle pepper, rosemary, and salt over the top.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until the top just begins to golden. Cut into desired portions.

 

Adapted from All Recipes

Soyrizo and Black Bean Empanadas


IMG_4365

I’ve noticed that when we go out into the world on weekends, we spend money. Done. I’ve solved our problem. No seriously though. We met friends for lunch a few weekends ago and we ended up buying a bed. Don’t get me wrong… we are the furthest thing from impulse buyers. Before that day, we had shopped and shopped and shopped until I didn’t ever want to look at another piece of bedroom furniture again. It was just a coincidence that the restaurant our friends chose just happened to be across the street from a West Elm, which happened to have the bed we were considering, and after seeing it in person I was sold. Now I’m done with that purchase for life…until the next round, at least. Woo hoo!

So back to my thing about us spending money. I’ve been getting really creative about using up leftovers because I’m trying to keep us on track for our grocery bill each month. So far, I’ve been doing pretty well. After making these, I’d say I’m stepping up in the leftover-world because this was one of the best creations to come out of my kitchen in a while. Yep, I said it.

IMG_4345The dough was the second half of a batch leftover from having made a pie and the soyrizo was leftover from burritos the night before. I buy black beans dry and had cooked them up a few days previous. I like to have beans on hand to sneak some extra protein into our meals throughout the week, plus bean burritos are my go-to quick lunch. So really, everything was already made. I’m sure next time, some chicken or any other filling that I have left over will get used up.

If you don’t have dough on hand, check out this great tutorial here. To be honest, I think store bought may work for these, but you would have to use round cutters instead of rolling them out like I did.

Ingredients (Makes 16 small empanadas)IMG_4291

Half a batch of pastry dough, thawed if frozen, but still chilled

11/2 cups cooked soyrizo
1 cup black beans, cooked
¼ cup queso fresco
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Coarse salt
Pepper


Instructions

Preheat your oven to 375 F degrees

Make sure your pastry dough is still chilled. Divide in half, and in half again, and so on, until you have 16 equal pieces of dough. I found that keeping the rest of the dough I wasn’t working with in the refrigerator was very helpful. This dough gets very sticky as it comes to room temp.

FoldOver
Roll out a small piece of dough to about an ⅛ of an inch thick, keeping it as equally oval as possible. Place about a tablespoon of soyrizo towards the bottom half of the oval. Add a few teaspoons of black beans on top of the soyrizo and top the pile with queso fresco. Fold over the top of the dough so that it covers the filling, lining up the edges as equally as possible. Trim away any large excess, but a bit of extra dough is fine. Seal the edges together with the tines of a fork. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with silpats or parchment paper.

IMG_4337

When all empanadas are complete, melt two tablespoons of butter in the microwave or a small saucepan. Brush over the tops of each empanada. Sprinkle each with a bit of coarse salt and a sprinkle of pepper.

Bake for 16-18 minutes until edges begin to golden. Serve warm.

Garlic and Rosemary Wheat Thins

FinishedPicStich

I’ve been a little out of it lately. I guess its a combination of a few things, but mostly, I’ll admit, its just me acting crazy. This morning, the toilet overflowed. Logical reaction? Call the landlord and/or plumber… Nope. This girl cries, called the boyfriend (resisted all urges to call my poor dad in tears), and then I made soup. Soup! Why? I’m still not sure. Plus side, it cooked by the time I decided I was mature enough to mop up the bathroom floor.

DoughPicStitchPrevious to the bathroom fiasco, this week had been a bit on the tough side. Sometimes when that happens I find that I need to slow things down and just bake a little. I knew I was overwhelmed in the sweets department still so something salty sounded perfect. These wheat crackers were just what I needed. I changed up the recipe a tad by adding some garlic and rosemary. With some cheese and pickles (I eat pickles on the side with just about everything) these are a perfect snack and  turned out to be a soothing hour during a rather hectic week.

IMG_3934

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus extra for topping
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, roughly chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Line two baking sheets with silpats or parchment paper.

Add flour, sugar, salt, garlic, and rosemary to a wide bowl and whisk to combine.  Cube the butter into small chunks. Using a pastry blender (Or whatever method you prefer), cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it is in small pieces and crumbly.  In a small cup, combine the water and vanilla.  Add it to the flour/butter mixture and using a rubber spatula, mix until a smooth dough forms.  If your dough is too sticky, add a bit more flour.

IMG_3954

Divide the dough into smaller workable pieces (I divided it into thirds).  Roll the dough out on a lightly floured work surface.  I found that keeping both extra whole wheat flour and a bit of water next to my surface was helpful so I could adjust as needed.  Roll the dough as thinly as possible, 1/16th-inch thick at most. Cut with a knife or pizza cutter into 1-1 ½ inch squares. Transfer crackers to baking sheets. Poke each one with the tines of a fork so they don’t puff up during baking.

Bake one sheet at a time, until crisp and browned, mine took about 9 minutes. Check the crackers at 5 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through. If some begin to brown before others, remove and continue baking the rest. Keep a close eye as the crackers can burn quickly. Once brown and crisp, transfer to a plate to cool. Store crackers in an airtight container.

Source: Adapted from The Baker Chick, Via Tracy’s Culinary Adventures

G-Ma’s Salsa

IMG_3787
I’ve been lucky enough to come from a family of wonderful cooks.  I remember the days when extended family would descend on one of the grandmother’s or great aunt’s homes, grab a utensil or a pan, contributing what they could to the meal. Everyone would file through, filling their plates with meats, sauces, heirloom casseroles, fresh salads, and of course, delicious desserts.

Growing up, my Dad’s mom lived in the house below ours. (It’s a super-rad duplex by the beach!) I loved having my Grandma so close and I consider myself lucky to have learned many things from her, including a few tips from her authentic style of Mexican cooking. On the occasional Sunday, she makes a big breakfast for anyone who can stop by. It always includes Menudo, (which I know I never gave a fair shot, but come on) chorizo, eggs,
sometimes carne con chile, and always a fresh batch of her classic salsa.

SalsaPicStitch
This salsa is kind of a big deal. My best friend Amy has parents who grow their own chilies and make a fresh batch every day, but this is still her favorite salsa.  My friend Bob is equally in love with it and his wife also comes from a family of amazing cooks. When my G-Ma knows that they are coming, she’ll make an extra batch.  And we always eat it.

IMG_3707

Ingredients

1 14 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
2 pickled jalapenos (I use the Embasa brand)
2 teaspoons jalapeno pickling juice (that comes with the jalapenos)
¼ of a white onion, chopped
1 teaspoon coarse salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Juice of a lemon
Handful of cilantro, chopped

Instructions

Cut the jalapenos into large chunks, discarding the stems. Toss them into a blender. Add the tomato juice, jalapeno juice, half of the lemon juice, and only one of the peeled tomatoes into the blender. Blend until the jalapeno is finely chopped. Add the rest of the tomatoes. Pulse the blender for just a second or two. You want the tomatoes chopped, but still chunky. Pour tomato mixture into a bowl. Add remaining lemon juice, salt, garlic, onion, and cilantro. Give it a good stir and enjoy.

Note: If you prefer more spice, simply add more jalapenos. I prefer mine on the mild side, so I find that two is the perfect amount for me.

IMG_3797

Source: Taught to me by my Grandma Esther, additionally, learning by watching my Mom make her salsa the same way for most of my life.

Quinoa Cakes on Greens

IMG_3688

I must have cursed myself. I boasted about what a great start the year was off to far too soon. I should have known better. Thirteen is a temperamental number… I must proceed with caution. It’s been almost a year, (that can’t be true?!) since I’ve been sick. So this now unfamiliar pain in my throat is throwing me off. Is it the normal January cold? The awful flu I’ve so artfully avoided? It can’t possibly be strep again, that won my tonsils in the war of ’08… Allergies? I’ll go with that until further notice.

IMG_3695

After getting a call from my boss telling me to take Tuesday off I wasn’t sure what to do with my sudden abundance of time. So, naturally, I made a mess in the kitchen. After ruining half a batch of cupcakes, I scored with these. Major win. I had made these before, but never with all the additional veggies. On a whim I added the lime juice and cilantro. In my opinion, that was the best part.

This is a pretty customizable recipe. I think that as long as you have the binder (breadcrumbs and eggs/other vegan substitution) it would stand up to substitutions. You’ll just have to try and let me know.

IngredientsIMG_3631

2 cups quinoa, cooked and cooled
2 green onions, finely chopped
1/2 a yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup white cheddar cheese, grated
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
Olive oil for the pan

Instructions

In a medium bowl, combine everything except the bread crumbs and the eggs. Sprinkle over the breadcrumbs and make sure all ingredients are all mixed together well.  Add the eggs and give the mixture one final mix-up until the eggs are incorporated. Form the mixture into evenly shaped patties, about 4 inches in diameter.

IMG_3643

Heat some olive oil in large pan set over medium heat. Add the patties to the pan, giving enough space between each one. Cook each patty until lightly browned, about 4-5 minutes, depending on your heat. Using a spatula, carefully flip the patty over and cook the other side until it is the same golden brown. Repeat with remaining patties. You may need to add more olive oil to the pan between batches.

Note: I prefer mine served warm on top of greens and hardboiled eggs with a lemon vinaigrette. 


Source: Adapted from Annie’s Eats, via Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson via The Curvy Carrot

Roasted Butternut Squash

Well, he’s here. We’ve been waiting and waiting and he finally made it. James Ryan, the newest addition to the family was born on 1/2/13. Not only is he the first little one to officially make me an Aunt, but now I have a reason to buy toys. I have a reason to bake robot cookies, and super hero cakes, and best of all, dress up vegetables to look like really cute things in hopes of him giving them a try. Not that any of that will be my job, his mom and dad are already extraordinary parents. I want to be like my Aunts are; full of fun, adventure, creativity, new surprises, and especially helping to spark my curiosity about the world.  I’m so excited I get to pass that on to a new little punk.

IMG_2757

 Recently, I’ve been all about the roasted veggies. Beets, carrots, squash, pumpkins. It seems that the hot oven just brings out the natural sweetness and transforms them into a better, friendlier, even chattier (yes, they get along better with other foods) version of the vegetable’s self. And what I love most about it? It couldn’t be easier and the oven warms up our little apartment on a cold day. (This genius finally called the gas company to fix our heater, yay!) Plus I feel like my favorite chef, Ina Garten while doing it. If she roasts, everyone should.

Ingredients

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks about the same size
A few glugs of olive oil
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Instructions
IMG_2731

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place the cubed squash on pan and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Give it all a good toss to make sure it is evenly coated. Keep the squash in one layer. Roast it in the oven for about 25-30 minutes. When it is fork tender, it’s ready. Try not to eat all of it while standing over the warm oven.

 Note: I use this in salads, on top of pizzas, in sandwiches even.