I’ve always been a waffle girl. I would eat them every day, if I could. This recipe is my absolute favorite. It’s perfect for Sunday brunch or those long days when you just want to eat waffles for dinner. It is not exactly healthy but who cares? If you want to add more fiber, you can replace a quarter cup of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour. I have also replaced the sugar with honey.
This recipe is from The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion (The All-Purpose Baking Cookbook), which if you don’t own, you must stop reading this and go buy it immediately. It is one of my favorite baking books.
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups (14 ounces) buttermilk
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled down to room temperature
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
Beat the eggs and then add the buttermilk, butter, and vanilla. Beat together. In a separate bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the buttermilk mixture and mix. The batter will be thick. Each waffles iron is different, so follow the instructions that come with your iron in order to know how much batter to use at a time and how long to cook the waffles. Mine takes around 2 minutes 15 seconds.
These are delicious with maple syrup, of course, but I also like snacking on them with peanut butter. Double the batch and freeze the extras. They reheat well in a toaster and still come out crispy. Enjoy!
I was pretty little the first time I made scrambled eggs. I can remember standing on a chair in the kitchen with my mom standing behind me. She guided my hand while I held the spatula, and together we stirred the eggs in the pan. To my small hands, the pan seemed so hot. It is the first thing I remember making in the kitchen and, to this day, it is one of my favorite things to cook. It is the perfect weeknight meal, especially after being at the gym or out on a run.
Most of my life, I’ve cooked scrambled eggs the same way. It is the way my mother taught me, and the way I thought was best. It is a simple method that begins with melting butter in the pan, adding a little milk to the eggs while scrambling them in a bowl, and then cooking them over medium heat until just barely cooked through (I hate dry eggs). Sometimes I would add chives or cheese. Over the years, I stopped adding milk, mostly because I seldom have it on hand. Simple and straightforward.
But then I met my fiance, and he taught me a different method of cooking eggs, one inspired by Julia Child and demonstrated in the video below my Gordon Ramsey. It is a slow method, that involves taking the eggs on and off the heat and adding the cream or milk after the eggs are done cooking.
The eggs come out creamy, just the way I like them. It takes a long time, though, which can be a problem after a long run, and the eggs cook down a lot.
This lead me to start researching ways to cook eggs, and I found this other very different method by Alton Brown. Unlike Julia Child and Gordon Ramsey, Alton Brown cooks his eggs in 30 seconds on high heat and still manages to make them come out creamy.
So which method is better?
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to start experimenting with scrambled eggs and post my results here. In the meantime, I’ll ask my readers the ultimate egg question: What’s your favorite way to cook scrambled eggs?
Since I grew up in a home with a strong Italian background, pasta was a big part of my life. There was always a reason to eat pasta. Not feeling well? Here, have some pastina in chicken broth. Traveling tomorrow? Here, eat some angel hair with parmesan cheese. Just got back from a long trip? Here, Grandma left a lasagna in the refrigerator.
Cooking pasta is something I’ve just always known how to do. I don’t remember being taught how to cook pasta. I just grew up helping my mom. What to do, and not to do, with pasta has always been common sense to me. As I’ve grown older, though, and met people from different backgrounds, I’ve come to realize that what I’ve always thought was common sense is really not common knowledge for many people.
And so here is a list of the common mistakes people make when cooking pasta. I like to refer to this list as the Seven Sins of Cooking Pasta.
Using too small of a pot. Pasta is really starchy, and it expands while it cooks. It needs space to boil, otherwise you’ll end up with a gummy mess. You should use a pot around 6 quarts, even if you’re only doing half a pound of pasta.
Not salting the water. This is your chance to flavor the pasta. If you don’t generously salt the water, your pasta will come out bland. To prevent salt from staining your precious pasta pot (yes, I used the word precious), wait until the water comes to a boil and then add the salt (just don’t forget!). How much salt? I don’t measure, of course, but I would say probably around 1 1/2 or 2 tablespoons.
Adding oil to the water. I guess the thought behind this is that if you add oil, the pasta won’t stick together as it boils. Here’s the problem, though. Since oil floats on top of water, when you dump your pasta out, you’ll have pasta coated in oil and it won’t adhere to your sauce. Instead of adding oil to the water, just stir the pasta during the first few minutes of cooking and the pasta should be fine.
Dumping all of the pasta water down the drain. I’ll admit that I didn’t learn this one until I was older. That salty, starchy pasta water is an excellent way to get sauces to adhere to your pasta. Even if you add just a small amount, the pasta and sauce will be so much happier together. Better yet, depending on the type of sauce you’re using, you can take the pasta out of the pot a few minutes early and let if finish cooking in the sauce and a bit of pasta water. I find this method particularly useful when doing very simple sauces, such as mushroom, wine and garlic. Just scoop the pasta and some water right into the skillet with the wine and mushrooms and everything will be quite delicious. If you wait until the pasta is done to toss it with the sauce, that’s okay too. Just be sure to do it in a large bowl off of the stove (so it doesn’t overcook) and toss immediately.
Overcooking the pasta. Pasta should have a bite to it. Not crunchy but a nice bite. No one likes mushy pasta, except maybe babies and toddlers. To avoid overcooked pasta, look at the time recommended on the box and set your timer for a minute or two below that time. When the timer goes off, taste the pasta and keep tasting until it’s al dante. It will continue to cook a little out of the water, so get it out before it’s too late.
Rinsing the cooked pasta. Sigh. That wonderful salt flavor just got rinsed down the drain. And the starch that will help the pasta stick to the sauce? Bye bye. Don’t rinse the pasta! The only, and I mean only, exception to this rule is if you’re preparing a cold pasta dish, such as a pasta salad, and you want to serve it immediately. Otherwise, resist the temptation to rinse your pasta.
Putting too much on your pasta. Not everyone will agree with me on this one. In fact, I don’t even completely agree with myself on this one. Sometimes I do love a ton of sauce on my spaghetti. Most of the time, though, I like to keep my pasta simple. Nothing tastes better than pasta right out of the water, and so I hate to see that delicious pasta flavor covered up by too much. Some of my favorite pasta dishes will have a light sauce, such as a wine sauce or even just olive oil, a bit of cheese, and cracked pepper.
Every pasta shape tastes different to me, and every time I go into a specialty Italian store (such as Carfagna’s), I notice a shape I haven’t tried yet. Be adventurous with your pasta shapes and flavors. Also, think about the sauce you’re using. Pasta with ridges is ideal for heavier sauces, whereas something delicate, such as angel hair, is best with a very light sauce. Experiment with whole wheat vs white pasta. I find that whole wheat has a nuttier flavor and pairs well with pestos and wine sauces. Try egg pasta, if you haven’t before. Be bold. Think outside the spaghetti box.
The key to learning to cook, and learning to cook well, is a willingness to experiment. If you must have exact recipes and exact ingredients then you will never feel completely comfortable in the kitchen. Cooking is learning a method and experimenting and tasting and tasting until you learn what works well together and what doesn’t.
Take pesto, for example. Sure, you can follow a recipe that shows you how to make a basic basil pesto. Or you can master the method behind making pesto. Once you understand the method, then the possibilities and ingredients are endless.
And so below are the things I have found make excellent pestos:
Herbs, particularly basil. Basil is, of course, the key ingredient in a traditional pesto, and I have found it is by far the best herb to use, but why not throw in other herbs as well? Parsley works well. Even non-Italian herbs, such as cilantro, can give pesto a different twist.
Greens. Not traditional, but such a good way to use greens! Spinach, arugula, and kale are my favorite. Each adds a unique taste and gives you a different pesto. Experiment with using different combinations.
Garlic. Really, can you have pesto without garlic? I usually use at least 1-3 cloves, depending on how garlicky I want it to be.
Nuts. Pine nuts are traditional, but, in my opinion, they are not worth the money. Experiment with other nuts. I personally love almonds and pistachios in pestos.
Cheese. Though not necessary, I personally love adding cheese. Hard cheeses, such as Parmesan and Romano, are best. Also good: feta. Just don’t add too much. A handful will do. You should have far more greens and herbs than cheese.
An acid. Lemon juice is traditional. About 1/2 a lemon will do the trick. Also try: Lime juice. Vinegar.
Olive oil. Just enough to make it smooth.
Salt and pepper. Want it spicy? Add red pepper flakes.
A bulk of the pesto should be herbs and greens. Put everything, except the olive oil, in the food processor and pulse it several times. Add the olive oil while pulsing and process until smooth. Taste and adjust and write down what works well together.
Though my favorite way to serve pesto is on pasta (no surprise, right?), you can also put it on sandwiches or meat or use it as a dressing.
Pictured below is a combination of arugula, spinach, basil, slithered almonds, garlic, Ramon cheese, feta cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
I started running a little over a year ago. I quickly learned that what you eat right before, and right after, a run makes a world of difference. Though I’m still learning and experimenting with running food, here are my favorite things so far:
Oats. I first fell in love with oatmeal as a cyclist. I now eat it a big bowl every morning for breakfast. A large bowl will get me started on a 30+ mile bike ride or a long run. Energy bars and granola made with oats also gives me a huge energy boost midway through a bike ride (I have yet to try it while running, though).
Bananas. I sometimes joke that I eat as much local food as I can to make myself feel less guilty about the number of bananas that I eat. Bananas are perfect for runners, though. It gives you a burst of energy before a run, and it’s easy to carry to work or on the road. Plus bananas have a ton of potassium, which helps prevent leg cramps.
Peanut Butter. And I’m not talking about just any peanut butter. I’m obsessed with the freshly ground peanut butter that you can get at places such as Whole Foods. Unlike the jar peanut butter you can get at any grocery store, this peanut butter has one ingredient: ground peanuts. It’s an excellent pre-run or post-run snack, and it’s an excellent source of protein. I love it on toast, celery, apples, or sometimes I’ll just eat it right out of the container. The downside: it’s not cheap.
Potatoes. I don’t know what happened to the reputation of potatoes. I blame french fries and potato chips and those low carb diets. Potatoes are actually really good for runners, though. A simple plain white potato has vitamin C, antioxidants, fiber, and potassium. More importantly, potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin B6, which is an important vitamin for athletes. So eat your potatoes! I love all potatoes, but yukon gold are my favorite.
Pasta. This one is kind of a no-brainer for runners. Even white pasta, which has a bad rep this days, has it’s place. It’s gentle on the stomach the day before a big race or run and helps store energy for the long term.
Black Beans. I love black beans. I prefer to buy dry beans and cook them myself, but I have found lately that sometimes, after running, I need something that I can prepare as quickly as possible. Canned black beans aren’t my favorite thing in the world, but they are fast and simple after a long run. Also sometimes I will cook a bunch of beans at at time and freeze them for fast dinners. Just don’t make the mistake of eating beans before a run. That’s a mistake you only make once. Save the big bean burritos for post-run.
Chickpeas. There’s so much you can do with chickpeas! You can roast them and put them on salads or just snack on them right out of the bowl. You can make hummus and falafel. I don’t eat a lot of meat, so I’ve found that chickpeas are the perfect way to sneak extra protein into my diet.
Fruit. Orange slices or a blueberry smoothie makes for a wonderful pick-me-up after a long run. Apples are also an excellent snack, but are best after a run (too much fiber for before a run).
Greek Yogurt. Dairy and I don’t always agree, but boy do I love greek yogurt. Add some garlic, herbs such as chives or dill, maybe a teensy bit of mayo, and you have an excellent dip for veggies. Perfect for post-run recovery.
Eggs. I go through phases with eggs. Sometimes I eat too many of them and get tired of them, but I’m currently in the “I love eggs” phase. Hard boiled eggs are the perfect post-run snack, scrambled are creamy and comforting, poached are a healthy addition to a veggie meal. And eggs are a complete protein, so bring on the eggs!
Hot Tea. Aglass of hot tea after a cold winter run does wonders. I wouldn’t have made it through the winter without it.