Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Breakfast Smoothie

I forget which movie it is from, but there is a dialogue in said movie where the dad says to his daughter, "What are you drinking?"
"A smoothie," she replies.
"What's a smoothie, like a milk shake?"
"I guess so, only smoother," his daughter says.

Smoother, indeed. Smoothie is a strange word, isn't it? Think about it. Smoooooooth-ie. Anyway, I have one almost every morning. I pack as much good stuff as I can into my smoothies to set me up for the day. If lunch ends up being a pemeal bacon sandwich from the cafeteria downstairs (read: no vegetable to be found), oh well, I had my nutrition-packed smoothie for breakfast.

I don't have a recipe for my smoothies, but I do have a basic formula. A least one fruit, something green, something high in fiber, some protein, and some dairy. Sometimes on ingredient fills a couple quotas: black beans provide protein and fiber. Or berries give fiber and fruit.

Here is a list of stuff I've used for each category of my formula. Items with a * are the ones that usually make the morning cut, if you're interested.

Fruit and Veg:
  • Apple (skin on, cut into chunks)*
  • Banana*
  • Mixed frozen berries*
  • Pumpkin puree*
  • Carrots
  • Nectarine
  • Fresh or canned peaches
  • Fresh, frozen, or canned pineapple
  • Mango
  • Kiwi
  • Cranberries
  • Protein powder (duh)
  • Tofu
  • Beans or other legumes- kidney beans, black beans, chickpeas, lentils
  • Nut butter
  • Nuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Egg (I've never actually thrown in a raw egg, but I've thought about it. My Grannie used to make us "egg nog" with milk, raw egg, and vanilla for breakfast all the time before school and we were fine. But definitely follow guidelines for consuming raw eggs)
  • Cooked quinoa*
  • Whey leftover from making ricotta cheese (yep, I'm that "thrifty")
  • Oats* (throw in raw, or cook in the microwave with some water for a smoother smoothie)
  • Ground flax*
  • Chia seeds
  • Cooked quinoa
  • Beans or other legumes- kidney beans, black beans, chickpeas, lentils
Dairy or Dairy Alternative:
  • Yogurt* - plain, vanilla, Greek, etc. Whatever was on sale that week, basically
  • Milk
  • Rice milk
  • Almond milk
Something Green:
  • Spinach*- fresh baby spinach or thawed frozen spinach
  • Kale
  • Arugula (in a pinch, but it's a very strong flavour)
Other Miscellaneous Add-Ins:
  • Turmeric (doesn't really add any flavour but it's a super food that is good for inflammation among other things)
  • Honey or maple syrup when using plain yogurt to sweeten it up a bit
  • Fresh ginger
  • Cinnamon*
  • Pumpkin pie spice
There you go. Mix and match to a healthy breakfast and a hall pass to eat a greasy lunch. Also really good for tricking your kids and/or husband into eating spinach.

One Year Ago: Overnight Oatmeal,
Two Years Ago: Cranberry Coffee Cake
Three Years Ago: n/a

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Superbowl Food

It's Superbowl Sunday. If I was a good blogger, I would have whipped up these recipes, photographed, and posted a week ago. But I just can't bring myself to make recipes in advance of the actual event. That would mean making all this food and then the three of having to eat it, only to make it all over again for the Big Day. Not happening.

And really, do you really need a special occasion to make Soft Pretzel Bites with Buffalo Cheese Sauce? That is a negative. Any random Sunday will do, thank you.

I have been trying to make great soft pretzels forever and the never turned out the way I wanted. I wish I had stolen the recipe from the movie theatre where I had my first job. I worked at Wetzel's Pretzels kiosk. We made the dough on premises (whereas at Pizza Hut the dough came in frozen) but it never occurred to me to make them at home. I've even looked for a copy-cat recipe online, but to no avail. What made these different is usually pretzels are boiled in a baking powder solution, but Wetzel's just baked them. I'd never tried the boiling method until today because it just sounded like too much work. But it was a success, and honestly not much more difficult that straight baking them. 

One tip though- don't boil the pretzel bites for more than 30 seconds. The first batch I made I boiled them too long, more like a minute and a half probably, and they are kinda ugly. Yummy, but ugly, as you can see below. The one on the right is the one that boiled too long, the one on the left was boiled for just 30 seconds.

You can thank Pinterest for the Cookie Brownies. I didn't even repin this, but they were stuck in my head. Brownie Cookies? Crookies? Brookies? Whatever you choose to call them, they are over the top and delicious. Definitely for sharing though. I wouldn't trust myself make these if I were home by myself one night. It's bad enough that whenever I make chocolate chip cookies I save a container of raw dough in the fridge for snaking on. Cookie dough dipped in brownie batter? Game over.

One Year Ago: Crunchy Sesame Cookies
Two Years Ago: Chocolate Beet Cupcakes
Three Years Ago: nada, Feb 2010 was a slow year at Four Seasons Kitchen

Pretzel Bites:
Follow the recipe for Chuck's pretzels up to and including step 3. Rather than making large pretzels in step 4, rip a handful of dough and roll it out into a rope. Cut (a pizza roller works well) into 1/2-inch pieces and roll each into a ball. Continue with the rest of the recipe, however I omitted brushing the pretzel bites with egg wash.

When boiling the pretzel bites, work in small batches. I gather up and many as I can hold (gently!) in one hand and drop them quickly in one at a time, timing once the last one goes in.

Serve pretzels same day as they are made. If not serving immediately after baking, put them on a plate or in a container but don't cover or else they will get soft on the outside instead of staying crisp.

Cheese Sauce:
Make the buffalo cheese sauce following Half Baked Harvest's recipe. Keep warm in a small Crockpot if serving as a snack at a party. Or just eat it really fast, which shouldn't be too hard to do.

Method from Pin Cookie
You can use my favourite recipes that are linked below, or your go-to brownie and chocolate chip cookie recipes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix up a batch of cookie batter and brownie batter. Tyler helped me and made the brownie batter for me, but if you are making both yourself I would suggest making the brownie batter first as it doesn't contain any leavener.

Butter a muffin min, either a standard sized tin or a mini muffin tin (I prefer how the cookies made in the standard tin turned out). Drop a tablespoon of brownie batter in each muffin well and spread to cover the bottom. Take about a tablespoon of cookie dough and press it flat in your palm to about the size of the muffin tin and put that on top of the brownie batter. Bake 20 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.