Monday, December 27, 2010

Sick of snowflakes? Try some pancakes.

Today I’m working from my home office (and by home office I mean an Ikea desk in my bedroom). Nonetheless, as you can see, Long Island is a mess of blizzard-like winds, 3-foot snowdrifts and emergency salt vehicles. What a lovely end to the Christmas holiday!

Since I’m stranded here in Suffolk County, why not make a kick-ass breakfast and relax on the couch for a few hours? Allow me to introduce, CRANBERRY ORANGE PANCAKES. This breakfast was inspired by “what the heck can I come up with to eat from what’s hanging out in my fridge?”

One of the latest Food Network Mags has a little pullout booklet with 50 different pancake recipes to try. Of course, I must 1-up the Food Network by coming up with a recipe they don’t include in the booklet (take that!).

I did however use their whole-wheat pancake recipe as a starting point. I had some frozen cranberries leftover from this summer’s CRANBERRY ZUCCHINI MUFFINS and one lone orange I bought a few days ago for God-knows-what.

This was a great breakfast. The pancake is super fluffy. Since the batter is made with half whole-wheat flour, they’re slightly more dense than a garden variety pancake, but that just makes them a little more stick-to-your-ribs filling.

I love the combination of cranberry and orange. The orange zest adds a slight hint of citrus freshness. I use whole cranberries so when you cut into the pancake, you get a burst of tart fruit to counteract the sweetness of whatever syrup you pour on top.

I’m not sure if I ever mentioned this, but I found out that I was Hypoglycemic by eating maple syrup. Every Sunday morning my husband would whip up a batch of pancakes or waffles and I’d slather them in full-sugar maple syrup.

About an hour later, we’d be out running errands and I would turn into a complete psycho. My off-the-charts crazy behavior very strongly resembled that of Jekyll and Hyde. It got to be a standing joke. We’d call them “syrup attacks.” “Watch out for Trish, she just ate a pancake!” You get the idea.

Finally my doc pinpointed the problem and I’ve now sworn off maple syrup. I stick to the sugar-free stuff. It isn’t all natural (boo) and it isn’t quite the same consistency, but sugar free syrup has come along way in the last few years. It certainly isn’t worth the after effects of eating the real stuff.

So, make yourself a few turkey sausage links, warm some syrup (I won’t judge if you grab good old Aunt Jemima), and watch the snow fall…and fall…and fall.

* Get cooking. Let me know what you think. Love it? Hate it? I’m interested in hearing your feedback and suggestions.

Pancakes on Foodista

Monday, December 13, 2010

Et Tu Tofu?

Poor tofu. It has such a bad rep for being a bland and boring animal protein alternative only eaten by the same tree-hugging hipster types that drive hybrid cars. I told someone I made a delicious Caesar salad from tofu and their reaction was “well, that sounds interesting.” That someone was my Mom. Thanks Mom, but “interesting” in this case can easily be translated to “what the hell were you thinking?”

I’m here to support poor neglected tofu on its mission to become a widely accepted source of healthy vegetable protein. What I like best about tofu is its chameleon-esque ability to transform into whatever you want it to be. It takes on the flavors of whatever sauce, spice or marinade you’re using in your dish.

I came across this recipe for a TOFU CAESAR SALAD in Food & Wine mag. I thought it was such a clever use of the ingredient. Silken tofu is used as the base for a creamy Caesar salad dressing instead of mayonnaise. Firm tofu is pan fried in vegetable oil to stand in for traditional bread croutons.

It may sound a little odd. But this dressing is genius. I love creamy dressings, but I almost always shy away from them because of the exorbitant fat content. Not only does this recipe eliminate a ton of the saturated fat, but it also adds a boost of protein that helps to keep you full longer. The addition of tofu turns a side salad into a main dish.

A few quick tips about frying tofu:

1 - Make sure the tofu is as dry as possible. Before I cut the block into cubes, I wrapped the tofu in paper towels and pressed it between two plates to drain out most of the moisture.

2 - Use a very shallow layer of vegetable oil in the frying pan and made sure to drain the “croutons” really well on paper towels after cooking. Salt them right after they come out of the oil so the salt sticks.

3 - This may seem like a great leftover-friendly meal, but it’s really best in a make-and-eat setting.

Give tofu a chance to play with the grown ups. It’s a great alternative to the tried and true chicken breast.

* Get cooking. Let me know what you think. Love it? Hate it? I’m interested in hearing your feedback and suggestions.

Tofu on Foodista

Monday, December 6, 2010

BNS Soup: Big on Taste, Low in Cals

The holiday season has come crashing down on us. Not only are wallets getting emptier and emptier, but pants are getting tighter and tighter. I have three different food magazines sitting on my desk right now. Cakes and cookies and wine, oh my! A huge glossy photo of a chocolate torte is staring at me while I’m trying to brainstorm what to say about vegetables. I had to turn the magazine over. Problem solved.

Holiday eating is the best. It’s the only time of year I say to myself, it’s Christmas! One cookie won’t kill you! The reality is that one cookie is never one cookie. I’m lucky if I can stop at three. And those 2 pounds that creep on over Thanksgiving quickly turn into 6 by the New Year.

So, if you happen to be looking for a special occasion, veggie-based appetizer for your holiday meal, check out this BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP. I love squash soups for the simple fact that they give the illusion of a creamy, rich and indulgent meal starter. In reality, they’re basically just pureed vegetables.

I’m picky about my butternut squash soup. Some are too sweet. Some are too baby food-like. This one is thin enough to satisfy a “soupy” consistency and it isn’t terribly sweet. I like the addition of an Italian sausage link to give the final product a little more depth. If you’re serving a vegetarian, obviously just scratch the pork.

I think this soup would look fancy on a holiday table. It’s hearty and warming, but light in calories. I like to serve mine with a dollop of light sour cream. Please refer back to any post where I’ve mentioned my Hungarian roots and how sour cream should basically go on everything.

Eat, drink and be merry!

Butternut Squash on Foodista