Posts made in November, 2013

Banana-Oat Energy Bars

Sometimes before a run or during a long bike ride, I need an energy boost. Store bought energy bars often have ingredients I don’t like to eat, so for the past few years I’ve tried to find various energy bar recipes to make at home. This recipe is based off of one found in the Runner’s Word Cookbook, and it is delicious and gives me enough energy to make it through a run or bike ride. It’s a strange cross between banana bread and a granola bar. The only downside, though, is that it is so moist that I’m afraid it’ll crumble when I store it in the back of my cycling jersey (I haven’t had a chance to try it yet).

The original recipe can be found in the Runner’s World Cookbook, which I highly recommend to any runners. Below is my modified recipe:

energybar-10

Ingredients:

2 very ripe bananas (defrosted if using frozen)
Slightly less than 1/2 cup of safflower or canola oil* 
1/2 cup of pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
4 Medjool dates, pits removed and roughly chopped
1/2 cup of dried cranberries**
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts**

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or spray a 8×8 baking pan (or a round cake pan works too).

Mash the bananas. Stir in the oil, syrup, and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, mix the oats, flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking soda.

Pour the dry ingredients into the bowl of wet ingredients and mix. Next fold in the chopped dates (make sure the pits have been removed!), the cranberries and walnuts.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Now you’re ready for the 30+ mile bike ride. Enjoy!

*why slightly less? The original recipe used sugar instead of maple syrup, so I cut back on the oil.

**if you “accidentally” add more than 1/2 a cup, that’s okay. Accidents happen.

 

 

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Cast Iron Skillet Apple Pie (or maybe it’s apple crisp)

Ok, fine, so maybe this isn’t a true apple pie. Since I didn’t use a dough or a crust, I guess it’s more like an apple crisp. I’m calling it pie, though.

The cast iron skillet I used has been in my family for years. It belonged to my great grandmother, and I just recently re-treated it. And let me just say this here and now: I’m madly in love with it, and you can expect to see many more recipes using it.

But anyway, as for my not-quite-a-pie, maybe-an-apple-crisp recipe. The filling is from my 1984 edition of Joy of Cooking. I love using old cookbooks for baking recipes because they typically use less sugar than modern day recipes you’ll find online (which is odd of me to say considering that I’m posting this one online). This recipe only uses 1/2 cup of sugar in the filling, which allowed for the true taste of the apple to shine through, rather than the overbearing taste of sugar.

The topping is a modified version of a topping that I got from who knows where. It uses a lot less sugar and butter than the original.

So begin by preheating the oven to 400 degrees. Place the cast iron skillet in the oven to preheat.

Next core and slice:

5 apples

Place them in a large bowl and add:

1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch
(depending on how juicy your apples are)
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg

In another bowl, mix together:

1 1/2 cups of oats
1/4-1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

Once mixed, add:

1 stick, plus 1 tablespoon of butter, cubed while still cold

I like to work the butter into the other ingredients with my fingers, but you can use a food processor as well.

Next pull the cast iron skillet out of the oven and add 1 tablespoon of butter to the skillet. It will make a wonderful sizzling sound. Let it melt (it’ll only take a few seconds) and then quickly add the apple mixture (more wonderful sizzling noises) and then pour the topping on. Place the skillet back in the oven and back at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 and bake for another 35-45 minutes. 

pie-1

pie-2

 

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Simple Vegetarian Chili

I love chili. It’s the perfect cozy-day meal that you can cook all day and watch the leaves or snow fall outside. I grew up eating beef chili, but since I don’t eat beef anymore, I’ve fallen in love with vegetarian chili. (My mom finds this hilarious since I refused to eat chili with beans as a kid.)

Sometimes I get quite fancy with my chili, but this recipe is my favorite. It’s very simple and is all about those delicious kidney beans that I refused to eat as a child. The key to this chili is cooking the dry beans in with the beer rather than just throwing a can of already cooked beans in at the end. You could do that, I suppose, but if you follow this method, the beans will take on the most wonderful flavor.

And yes, you read that right. I use beer. Me, the person who hates drinking beer. I grew up eating chili made with beer, though, and just because I’m not using meat in this recipe doesn’t mean that I’m going to cut out such a key ingredient.

And so to begin:

Start by heating olive oil in a heavy bottom pot or dutch oven. Sauté:

1 medium onion, finely chopped

Saute for about five minutes. Then add:

1-3 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped*
salt

Cook for another five minutes. Then add:

at least 3 tablespoons of chili powder
about 2 teaspoons of cumin
3 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of coriander
a few grinds of black pepper

Let the spices cook for a minute or two. Then add:

1 1/2 to 2 cups of dried red kidney beans, soaked overnight**
28 ounces of crushed or pureed tomatoes

One 12 fl oz bottle of dark beer (emphasis on dark)
1 cup of water (you may need to add more as it cooks if the chili gets too thick)

Give everything a stir and bring the mixture to a boil. Have a lid on the top of the pot, tilted so that it’s still letting steam out. The chili will start to splatter when it boils. Once it’s boiling, turn the heat down to medium low and let it simmer for hours. Taste every few hours in order to adjust seasoning. (This is the best part of making chili!) My family is notorious for adding chili powder by the spoonfuls all day long, so really, in the end, I have no idea how much chili powder I use. Also, if using canned tomatoes, you might want to add:

1 tablespoon of brown sugar (optional)

I like my chili to be really spicy with a slight hint of sweetness in the background.

If you want to add zucchini or corn in at the end, you can. I highly recommend serving the chili with cast iron skillet cornbread (recipe coming soon), Greek yogurt, and gouda cheese on top. Enjoy!

And sorry about the lighting in the below picture. It was sort of an afterthought.

chili-1

*If you’re using jalapenos from your freezer, as I do during the winter, be careful! Something about the freezing method seems to make jalapenos hotter (or at least the ones in my freezer seem to get hotter). Mine are so unpredictable that I start with a quarter of a jalapeno and add more throughout the day. I learned this lesson the hard way. One time I put a whole jalapeno in and it was so spicy that I could barely eat it (and I love spicy!). So be cautious in the beginning and keep tasting throughout the day. Also, experiment with other hot peppers. Though I usually just use jalapenos in this basic recipe, there are many others that are quite wonderful in chili.

** I say 1 1/2 to 2 cups because it depends on how beany you want your chili to be. (And yes, beany is a word.)

 

 

 

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