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Archive for the ‘the most important of the things we eat’ Category

We’re already a week into Lent, but I can’t get paczki out of my head. Where I grew up, paczki are king. EVERYONE eats them. But when I moved to DC, I was shocked to find out that paczki aren’t “a thing,” and that many of my friends had never heard of these delicious treats. Maybe you’re one of those people. Let me explain.

Y’all know about Fat Tuesday, right? The day before Lent begins, it’s full of delicious food and debauchery, a kind of last hurrah before 40 days of fasting. Paczki are like super-heavy donuts filled with delicious jelly. Traditionally they’re made with lard, and one paczek (that’s the singular) sits in your tummy like a lead weight of regret… and yet, you want more.

I am so lucky to have beautiful, talented, hilarious friends who also love to cook and eat amazing food. My dear friend Ania is Polish, and also misses the “real paczki” you can get from a Polish bakery (as opposed to the imposters you can find grocery stores across the country). So this year, she proposed we make out own.

We spent an afternoon together whipping these bad boys up with our adorable friend Meghan. Ania’s puppy, Buster, served as sous-chef.

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Here‘s the recipe we used. I will walk you through the steps.

You’ll need:

1 1/2 C warm milk

2 packages active dry yeast

1/2 C sugar

1 stick room-temperature butter

1 large room-temperature egg

3 large room-temperature egg yolks

1 TBSP brandy or rum (we used brandy)

1 tsp salt

4 1/2 to 5 C all-purpose flour

1 gallon oil for deep frying

Powdered sugar (optional)

Jam for filling (the recipe says optional but it is lying. Traditional filling is prune but you can use any good jam. We used strawberry and raspberry preserves from Bolton Orchards, near Ania’s parents’ house)

Optional needs: mimosas for enjoying while cooking. Meghan demonstrates:

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Here’s what you do:

Add your yeast to the warm milk, stir to dissolve and set aside. Using either a stand mixer or your hand mixer, cream the sugar and butter together until fluffy. Beat in eggs, brandy and salt until it’s all mixed together.

Do that thing where you alternate dry-wet-dry-wet-dry with the flour and the milk-yeast mixture. Beat it all together until it’s super-smooth. The recipe said five minutes, but I say when the dough starts to climb your mixer, that’s a sure sign. Grandma Woho didn’t teach me bread for nothin’. 

Put the dough in a greased bowl. Cover it and let it rise until it’s doubled in size, then punch it down to rise again. Note: The recipe says you can try to cut the rise time down by nuking everything in the microwave. Maybe don’t do that, because when we did, I think we lost some of the air out of the dough.

Ania demonstrates more patience than I have:

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When your dough has risen twice (that’s what she said), roll it out or pat it down to about 1/2 inch thick. Cut little rounds with a biscuit cutter, or, like grandmas do, a drinking glass. Let them rise for about half an hour. Ania’s gran covers hers with a towel, so that’s what we did. While that’s happening, pour your oil into a deep pan and heat it to 350 degrees. When it’s time! Your oil is the right temperature, and your paczki have plumped up a bit, slide them into the oil. Flip them so you can see they’re uniformly browned, then pluck them out and let them drip-dry on paper towel.

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When they’re cool enough to handle, poke some holes into the sides of your paczki so you can pipe in the filling. We didn’t have pastry bags, so we used the very unscientific method of poking holes with a meat thermometer, then spooning in the filling. We dusted the whole thing with powdered sugar to make it delicious and cover any imperfections.

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So next year’s Paczki Day seems far off, but if you’re craving sweets, these little buggers are worth it. And if you can cook with your friends? So much the better.

-Lindsey

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I have a theory that, just like Anton Ego in Ratatouille, the right foods can transport us back in time, to the first or best time we ever tasted something important. Especially under stress, we want these familiar tastes – that’s why we crave simple, wholesome things. Seriously, no one wants an eel roll when they’re sick. Nobody’s crying for lobster thermidor after a long day at the office. We just want something easy and tasty.

In my house, that’s breakfast for dinner.

My mom makes, easily, the best french toast in the world. What is her secret? A little ground black pepper in the dip. It makes all the difference.

You’ll need:

Some bread (here I used a raisin bread from the farmer’s market but seriously any bread will do)

Eggs (however many)

Milk (whatever)

Splash of vanilla

Dash of cinnamon (if desired)

ground pepper (mandatory if you want it to taste good)

Syrup (necessary) and garnish of fruit (who cares at this point; you just want dinner)

Mix up the egg and milk. Throw in your aromatics. Dip a bread slice in, both sides. Fry. Seriously, you’re thinking about it this much? It is BREAKFAST FOR DINNER. You clearly had a crummy day. Why don’t you pop on an episode of 30 Rock and relax. This’ll be ready in no time.

Feel better, champ. Tomorrow’s a new day.

-Lindsey

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So, picking up where I left off, I am feeling the spirit of Adventurous Breakfasts!

I’ve been curious about people who juice up a bunch of weird vegetables and fruits into a big, green, mess and chug it down. This interest most likely developed after I read about Martha Stewart’s Daily Routine, and she mentioned that drinking a big glass of “green juice” was part of her daily routine. I do like vegetables, but I am somewhat lazy about them, and I really LOVE beverages. This seemed like a great idea. I even asked my boyfriend to bring his juicer back from Michigan so I could play around with it. From time to time I will pick up a bottle of Bolthouse Farm’s Green Goodness and pour a little cup with my breakfast, but I always suspected this option was a bit more Juice than Green.

I mentioned in my last post that I’ve recently begun following a slew of super-healthy, marathon-running, inspirational bloggers. They all seemed to eat crazy bowls of morning oatmeal, so I tried it out. Success! I also noticed that many of them indulged in what they called a “Green Monster,” which looked like a green smoothie, but nobody mentioned what was in it.

Flash forward a week or so, and I FINALLY chanced upon the true meaning of the Green Monster, and I thought “Hmm… that sounds kind of like that green juice I’ve always thought about making,” and then I mentally tossed the idea into the back burners of my brain (where my great ideas usually just catch on fire and disappear in smoke, I think). But something made me take ONE MORE CLICK to the recipes page…. and, lo and behold, I had all of the ingredients already in my apartment.

So I took a dive.

And holy crap, I’m not turning back.

Virgin Green Monster

from Angela at  Green Monster Movement

Blend:

1 cup of milk (I use Trader Joe’s Vanilla Rice Drink)

1 banana

1 tbspn of flax meal

2 cups of spinach

ice to taste

That’s it. Blend. Drink. Enjoy. It tastes nothing like spinach. I mean, if you really want to stick your nose in your cup and focus, you can tell something is up in there, but it really tastes like a banana smoothie and nothing more.

This isn’t strictly a breakfast drink, but I’ve made it for breakfast twice this week because

a) It’s delicious

and

b) It gives me something to quell my stomach pains while I wait for that gd oatmeal to finish cooking.

And it’s so infinitely tweakable. There are a lot of other Green Monster recipes on Angela’s website, but you can pretty much throw whatever in there. On Tuesday morning, I blended one up to fill my “Something Sweet With Whole Wheat” category, but I was worried about the whole-wheat aspect. In my infinite resourcefulness, though, I threw in a handful of quick cook oatmeal! GENIUS! Just gives it a little crunch, nothing more. I’m also thinking about picking up some vanilla protein powder – this could easily become a satisfying meal on its own!

Anyway, everyone should try this, but be prepared to go through a lot of spinach. I made my first smoothie on Monday – I quickly ate through one bag, had to pick up another on Tuesday night and now it’s almost gone! Agh! And somehow, my boyfriend and I together are eating about 10-12 bananas a week.

Additionally: my roommate and neighbors now hate me for using my extremely noisy blender before 7 a.m. Sorry!

So that’s about all I have to say about breakfast. FOR NOW…. be warned, it will definitely come up again because I get all excited thinking about it, I really do.

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Can we talk for a minute about breakfast?

Easily my favorite meal of the day. I love waking up hungry and knowing there are yummy things waiting for me in the kitchen. I have always been a Breakfast Person. I’m talking about Everyday-Breakfasts right now – needless to say, a proper weekend brunch sends me into spontaneous cartwheeling bliss.

Past favorites, in semi-chronological order:

  • Pop-tarts (Brown Sugar, Strawberry, or S’mores… mmmm s’mores…)
  • Toaster strudels
  • The toaster strudels with egg and cheese that everyone else hates
  • Leftover desserts
  • Bagels with cream cheese
  • English muffins with butter and honey
  • Cinnamon toast
  • Apples
  • This maple pecan coffee cake you can only buy in Mansfield, Ohio
  • Doughnuts from Hinkley’s Bakery in Jackson, Michigan.
  • Egg and cheese sandwiches, sometimes with bacon
  • Peanut butter and jelly toast
  • Banana & soymilk smoothies with espresso
  • Cinnamon roll bread from Trader Joe’s

And two years of 45 minute commutes left me with a few on-the-go favorites, as well:

  • Starbucks banana-chocolate Vivanno smoothies with added espresso
  • McDonalds Egg McMuffin
  • Panera breakfast sandwiches
  • Panera Cobblestone muffin (droooool….)

I would still enjoy any of these options, if I woke up hungry, but lately my breakfasts have consisted of three items, one from each of the following categories:

Something savory and egg-based

+ 2 fried eggs

+ goat cheese omelet

+ scrambled egg sandwich with American cheese

Something sweet with whole grains

+ Go-Lean Crunch with soy or rice milk

+ oatmeal

+ whole wheat cinnamon toast

+ homemade granola

Something caffeinated

+ Starbucks Doubleshot in a can (which I used to get from a magical vending machine)

+ Nonfat mocha

+ Diet Coke (not WITH breakfast, necessarily, but before lunch)

Anyway, since I’ve been monitoring my calories, I’ve been thinking a little more critically about my beloved breakfast. You see, despite taking in a HEARTY amount of food (especially compared to the average person who can’t bear to eat in the a.m.), I tend to get REALLY hungry at around… oh… 9 a.m. And I can’t eat any MORE food, otherwise I will just explode: I’m very full after breakfast, even if  get hungry again quickly.

So what’s something healthy, something tasty, something SUPER FILLING that I can eat for breakfast that will eliminate the need for morning snacking?

Enter: Steel-Cut Oats

Oh, buddy.

On the first day of my experiment, I made a double serving, assuming that like most breakfast choices, I needed to hedge my bets. Adapting the infinitely adaptable recipe from Kath Eats Real Food, I threw in some walnuts, dried fruit, and honey for good measure. The pile of oatmeal barely fit into my bowl, and barely into my stomach, but…

I didn’t want to eat anything until close to 2 p.m. This is unheard of!

Magic oatmeal, I tell you.

It takes a long time to cook, which sucks, and I get a little STARVED sitting around waiting for breakfast to be ready, but holy cats, I haven’t looked back yet. It’s just as delicious as a S’mores Pop Tart. Really!

While I was stuffed to the brim, I added up the calories for my particular dish: 700 calories.

Well no wonder I wasn’t hungry until 2!

Anyway, I usually make one serving now, but I throw in some add-ins to bulk it up, and it usually gets me clear through to noon. What a concept! I have even started dropping the egg component of my breakfast, because there’s only so much kitchen-cooking I can handle on a weekday, and this fills me up anyway.

Jessica’s Killer Oatmeal

(the not-so gut-busting version)

Makes a hearty single serving.

1) Boil 1+ cup of water in a small saucepan. (1 cup is standard, but I find that such a small portion of oatmeal dries up, so I add a little extra)

2) When it comes to a boil, add 1/4 cup of steel cut oats. Cook at a boil for 5 minutes, stirring a little. It will get thicker.

3) Turn heat down to low, cook uncovered for 25 minutes.

4) If the oatmeal is looking a little dry at any point, I add up to 1/8 cup vanilla rice milk.

4) Add 1/2 banana, sliced. As the banana cooks, stir the oatmeal vigorously to liquefy/incorporate the banana. It will disappear into the oatmeal!

5) Stir in 2 tbspn canned pumpkin and 1 tbspn flax meal. Cook until heated to desired temperature.

6) Dish into a bowl. Top with cinnamon, nutmeg, and 1 tbspn almond butter.

7) Eat! Enjoy! Add whatever else sounds good, take out what doesn’t.

Stay tuned for more breakfast ramblings later this week!

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Two Saturdays ago, I found myself in an all-too-familiar scenario:

1) It was morning

2) I was hungry

3) No breakfast foods in my cupboards

4) Boyfriend was sleeping

So what’s a girl to do?

The fact that I had to think about this question is really a testament to how weird this past Year in Boston has been for me.

The answer is obviously…

…pancakes.

I made plain pancakes that morning, but the next Saturday I had plenty of breakfast food. But I also had a half pint of wrinkly blueberries. I remembered this recipe from Bakerella, with the pictures that made those pancakes look like the best pancakes to have ever caked a pan. I was a woman on a mission (I told you I did a lot of cooking last weekend), and I made Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes before 10 a.m.

They were delicious!

I made buttermilk with lemon juice and regular milk!

They were also far too many for two stomachs, however hungry. We munched on them all day.

So when we were done eating, it was afternoon. My stomach was full. I had a stack of breakfast sitting in a plate on top of my fridge.

And it’s a great way to wake up Sleepy Boyfriends.

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