Coconut Oil Cookie Butter Brownies

Coconut Oil Cookie Butter Brownies

My friends and I decided to have a girls/movie night to kick-off the three-day weekend, and when planning for the night, figuring out who would bring what food-wise was just as important as deciding on the movie. We chose to use a random number generator to pick our movie, with each of us ladies ready with out movie choice if our number was selected, but there was no surprise regarding our menu.

I volunteered to prepare dessert, since I had purchased a new-to-me box of brownie mix from Sprouts a few weeks before. I’ve had it perched on my cupboard shelf since then, waiting for the perfect time to get baking.

European Gourmet Bakery Organics - Chocolate Brownie Mix

This box of European Gourmet Bakery Organics Chocolate Brownie Mix has a simple ingredients list of organic brown sugar, organic wheat flour, organic cocoa, salt, and baking soda, and once I opened the bag, the strong smell of cocoa filled my kitchen (along with a chocolate-sugar cloud 😛 )

brownie__batttter

I still had my Neat Egg Substitute, so I used that instead of eggs. And since I had a full jar of coconut oil and a tempting jar of cookie butter, it only made sense to incorporate those in for some knock-out brownies.

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Coconut Oil Cookie Butter Brownies
These brownies taste more like coconut fudge (with a "hint" of chocolate), but don't worry...that's a good thing!
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
55 min
Total Time
1 hr 15 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
55 min
Total Time
1 hr 15 min
Ingredients
  1. - Box of brownie mix (~360 grams)
  2. - 2 large eggs or egg substitute (I used Neat Egg Substitute Powder)
  3. - 3 tbsp. of coconut oil
  4. - 5-6 tbsp. of cookie butter (I used Trader Joe's Cookies & Creme cookie butter)
  5. - Water (to add after all of the above ingredients are mixed, and until you get a moist, dense batter)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Mix wet and dry ingredients.
  3. Add water and keep mixing until you get a moist, dense batter.
  4. Pour batter onto a pan sprayed with PAM or onto a sheet of non-stick parchment paper.
  5. Bake in the oven for about 50-55 minutes, checking every 20 minutes with the "toothpick test".
  6. Take out of the oven, and let it cool down for 10-20 minutes (you may see the brownies start to bubble, but it will reabsorb back into the brownies).
  7. Put the pan in the fridge to cool down the brownies faster (30 minutes is good).
  8. Cut the brownies into squares, and enjoy the melty, gooey, delicious-ness of each bite!
Will Study for Food http://www.willstudyforfood.com/
After taking the pan out of the oven, I was immediately hit by the strong smell of coconut. I had my roommate taste a piece, and tried them for myself the next morning before plating them for the get-together. Since I love chewy, fudgy desserts, I absolutely loved how the brownies came out, specifically the melty, fudge center. They were somewhat sticky, but they didn’t fall apart, and they still had that “brownie crust” on the top.

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The ladies seemed to enjoy them too. I ended up coming back home with a few, but it was understandable since with all of our contributions, we had enough snackables to feed twice as many people than were present! Our movie choice that night was Horns starring Daniel Radcliffe…it was an interesting story, but some parts were downright creepy/awkward. We had to end the night with an episode of America’s Funniest Home Videos  just so that we would leave on a happier note 😀 !

What do you like to cook/bake for potlucks?

Honey Greek Yogurt Egg White Scramble with Veggies

Honey Greek Yogurt Egg White Scramble with Veggies

You would think that it’s all fun-and-games after an intense study period, but I’m not sure if coming down with aches/chills/a warm forehead should be included in that. I had an amazing weekend, no doubt about that, but as this week has progressed I’d describe myself as feeling fatigued, exhausted, and sleepy-but-can’t-sleep.

I was inspired by Chobani’s #MadeWithChobani project, and came up with a recipe using Chobani yogurt as a key ingredient, and had grand plans to mix it in some gluten-free brownies or other baked dessert surprise for my sister and friends’ arrival today, but since I’ve been feeling under the weather, I wanted to keep things simple, nutritious, and as warm (to distract me from the chills…) as possible!

An egg white scramble is simple enough, but adding some honey Chobani added that extra fluffiness and sweetness. It was the perfect pairing with my steamed veggies and flatout bread (topped with the leftover yogurt 😉 ).

Honey Greek Yogurt Egg White Scramble with Veggies
Serves 1
A simple, weeknight scramble that adds a punch of protein to an otherwise "boring" dish!
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Cook Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 eggs (the whites)
  2. 2-4 tablespoons of honey-flavored Greek yogurt
  3. Non-stick pan spray
Instructions
  1. Separate the egg whites from the yolks in two bowls.
  2. Add 2-4 tablespoons of honey-flavored Greek yogurt.
  3. Mix well, until everything is as even distributed as possible.
  4. Heat an omlette pan, and coat with desired amount of non-stick spray (two sprays worked fine for me)
  5. Add mixture to pan.
  6. Wait until you start to hear sizzling sounds, then move the egg/yogurt mixture around to get everything cooked (this takes about five minutes).
  7. Add the scramble into a mix of steamed veggies, and bread on the side for a simple weeknight dinner!
Will Study for Food http://www.willstudyforfood.com/
Separating out the egg whites and mixing in a dollop of honey-flavored Greek yogurt is the key step:

eggwhiteyogurtmix

From there, let the pan do the work!

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Top it and mix it in with some veggies…

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Pair with a mind-numbing show on Netflix, and treat yourself to some lazy-time!

I’m hoping that with the Tylenol and extra rest, I will have some energy for the coming days’ plans, especially since I’ll be hosting four people in my apartment. And yes, we will all have to share one bathroom!!!

Do you get sick after experiencing a challenging (series of) event(s)?

Crunchy PB Cornbread

Crunchy PB Cornbread

Happy Thanksgiving to all the US readers out there! I thought I’d share a simple recipe for today that I also was able to share with my “guinea pig” classmates last week. Since it passed that trial, I think it’s worth putting up here 😉

I am actually pretty glad with the decision I made regarding whether or not I should return “home” for Thanksgiving. I didn’t think it would be a good idea at first since my last set of exams for the semester are looming near, but then I realized that seeing my family and friends again for a couple days would most likely do more help than harm. 

Despite how beautiful LA is, and how much I adore the city life, I think a small break from it all is necessary. In fact, I think it may actually strengthen my love for the more—at least I hope! 

So even though a couple of my classmates and I are planning to spend the “real” Thanksgiving with our families, we decided it would be an awesome idea to throw a pre-Thanksgiving get-together for just our class. We had a potluck that consisted of a variety of foods—enough to stuff everyone into a food coma that affected attention spans in lab for the rest of the day 😛

My contribution was cornbread with a twist. I did use Fleishmann’s mix, but with some alterations, ended up with something sweeter and nuttier.

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Crunchy PB Cornbread
Serves 12
A sweeter and nuttier take on classic cornbread.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
45 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. Fleischmann's Simply Homemade Cornbread Baking Mix
  2. 2/3 cup of almond or coconut milk
  3. 1/3 cup of crunchy peanut butter
  4. 1 Neat egg or egg substitute
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and mix to get a moist batter going.
  3. Add water if necessary to add extra moisture.
  4. Line pan with non-stick parchment paper.
  5. Pour in batter into pan.
  6. Bake for 45 min.
  7. Take out, cool, and bring to a potluck!
Adapted from Fleishmann's Cornbread Mix Box
Adapted from Fleishmann's Cornbread Mix Box
Will Study for Food http://www.willstudyforfood.com/
I swapped out butter and regular ol’ milk with a mix of almond/coconut milk, and some crunchy peanut butter that I wanted needed to finish so that I could have a jar for YIAJ later 😉

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The peanut butter I was using also had raisins and cinnamon pecan pieces, so the extra additions only added to the sweetness!

When it came out of the oven, it had the appearance of a golden brick, but the inside was soft and chewy.

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Someone brought a bean/chili type dish to the potluck, and I noticed someone else pairing this bread with that. How often do potluck dishes pair up so well? 😉

How are you celebrating Thanksgiving 2014?

Fig & Brussels Sprouts Protein Roast

Fig & Brussels Sprouts Protein Roast

Happy Monday! Thought I would keep things short, sweet, and protein-filled with a recipe for today:

Fig & Brussels Sprouts Protein Roast
Serves 1
A weekend lunch with three simple ingredients---figs, brussels sprouts, and egg whites!
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Cook Time
25 min
Cook Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. - 10 or so plump fresh brussels sprouts, halved
  2. - 4 or 5 figs, quartered
  3. - 1/2 onion sliced
  4. - Handful of mushrooms, sliced
  5. - Chili powder
  6. - Salt
  7. - 1 tsp brown sugar
  8. - Dill or rosemary (some dry green herb you like)
  9. - Olive oil
Instructions
  1. Spread sprouts on a foil. Spray lightly with Pam.
  2. Broil at 400F for about 10 minutes.
  3. Turn and broil another 10 minutes or until done (browned, but not burned).
  4. Saute onions in a pan and add sugar, salt, and spices.
  5. Add mushrooms and cook a bit.
  6. Add sprouts and toss.
  7. Turn off stove. Add figs into toss, and serve right away.
  8. Serve with bread 🙂 !
Will Study for Food http://www.willstudyforfood.com/
Okay, so the protein mostly comes from the hard-boiled egg whites in this dish (per 100g, egg whites have 11g of protein while brussels sprouts and figs have ~3 1/2g and ~1g respectively), but I can’t deny that combining figs, brussels sprouts, and egg whites all together was pure serendipity. My friend’s grandparents grow figs in their backyard, so when we were gifted with a plate full of green California figs, I had to figure out some way to make use of them instead of just gobbling them all up as is (even though they tasted incredible on their own!!)

 Green fig glory.
Green fig glory.

Adding brussels sprouts and egg whites “just happened” to follow, and what resulted was a great way to refuel after a Saturday morning gym session and running morning errands.

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The last of my friend’s figs gifted to us were used in the making of this dish…sometimes you just don’t know how much you’ll miss something until it’s gone! Now I’m left with two options: 1) wait till next summer to make this again or 2) bring the empty plate back to my friend’s house, leave it nonchalantly on the counter top, and keep reiterating to her howmuchIloved♥ those figs 😉

Figs—love ’em or hate ’em? 

A Fiery Weekend

A Fiery Weekend

My 4th of July weekend was wonderful. The only thing that I could really complain about was the heat—and even with the weather blazing like fire, I still had cravings for spicy food!

The weekend began Friday evening when we set out to one of our neighborhood parks to watch the annual fireworks show our town holds. We brought the spread for a picnic, which included veggie dogs, hot dog buns, pico de gallo salsa (homemade), corn on the cob, and freshly sliced watermelon. When the sun set and the sky turned dark enough, the 15-minute fireworks show began.

4thofjulypicnic

It truly was a bittersweet moment, knowing that this would be the last time I watched my hometown’s fireworks show—but then I thought about the future 4th of Julys’ to come in LA and any sentimental feelings I had went away 😉

The next day, I had a craving for homemade pizza—but wanted to have it with a barbecue twist. So after a late afternoon shift at work that ended as the sun set, this dinner was a delicious treat to munch on when I came home at dusk:

Barbecue Pizza
Serves 1
A pizza for one, with a barbecue twsit. (Vegetarian)
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Ingredients
  1. - 2.5 oz. of pizza dough
  2. - ½ cup of Boca meatless crumbles or Tofurky meatless pepperoni slices or sausage
  3. - 1 medium onion
  4. - Sliced green pepper
  5. - 2 cloves of garlic
  6. - Spoon of jalapeno peppers
  7. - 4 or 5 mushrooms (sliced)
  8. - Shredded Cheese (mozzarella or your preferred cheese)
  9. - Olive oil (to sauté)
  10. - Sugar
  11. - Barbecue sauce (or mix ketchup, brown sugar, soy sauce and salt)
  12. - Steamed broccoli (for the side)
For Pizza Base
  1. Roll the pizza dough out to desired size.
  2. Bake in toaster oven for 8 minutes (4 minutes per side) at 375 degrees F.
For Topping
  1. Heat olive oil.
  2. Roast chopped garlic and brown the onions. Add the “meat” and mix thorougly.
  3. Add bell pepper and mushrooms and sauté and peppers. Start to cook.
  4. Add the barbecue sauce, and cook another minute until the whole topping is not runny.
Putting it together
  1. Top the pizza with the barbecue topping, and cover with mozzarella or other preferred cheese.
  2. Return pizza to oven and broil till cheese is cooked to your liking.
  3. Add some steamed broccoli as a side, or another mix of steamed veggies, and eat up!
Will Study for Food http://www.willstudyforfood.com/
 Cooking the dough and prepping the topping.
Cooking the dough and prepping the topping.
 Adding the topping to the pizza.
Adding the topping to the pizza.
 Add cheese.
Add cheese.
 Added some broccoli to the side, and it was just perfect.
Added some broccoli to the side, and it was just perfect.

For dessert, I had my most recent favorite—greek yogurt mixed with carob chips! I added even more carob chips to the cup as I ate through it, making sure that each spoonful was covered with a disproportionate amount of chips.

dessert craving of the week - carob chips with greek yogurt

On Sunday, I had the morning free so that was spent at the gym. I immediately took a shower after coming home, and got ready for another day’s shift at work. This time I would get out in the early evening, so I planned to go out to have dinner with my Dad and sis.

We chose to visit Freebirds, since none of us had ever frequented the place, but were always curious about the “world famous burritos”.

Freebirds World Burrito (3)

This location was divided in half longways, so that there was a brick divider between the ordering counter and the actual dining area.

Freebirds World Burrito (4)

Freebirds World Burrito (6)

Freebirds World Burrito (7)

I decided to go with the smallest size—the Hybrid. The next one up was Freebird, then Monster, and for the ultra daring there is the SUPER MONSTER (which is not even featured on the menu)!!!

Freebirds World Burrito (5)

Since I went with a burrito, my sis decided to try an order of the Veggie Nachos and let my Dad have some of that. We both made our way down the counter, designed in a way similar to ordering a sandwich at Subway.

Freebirds World Burrito (8)

I picked out a tortilla (cayenne flavor), skipped over the meats, asked for queso sauce, and loaded up on veggies. At the end, I had my server pour on some pico de gallo and hot tomatillo sauce. For a small burrito, the end product was still quite hefty.

 My sister's nachos sitting pretty.
My sister’s nachos sitting pretty.

There was a separate counter for payment, and a soda dispenser right across from it where we got our waters. There was also a sauce dispenser shaped as motorcycle bar handles!

Freebirds World Burrito (2)

We then sat at a table to feast on our orders—but not without looking up at the ceiling and chuckling at this sight:

Freebirds World Burrito (1)
Sort of fits in with the whole 4th of July theme though!

My burrito was bursting, but the filling was kept inside nice and tight thanks to the careful wrapping of aluminum foil—at least until I reached the very end of the burrito. I couldn’t finish my burrito without having some sauce coated over my fingers.

 Veggie Hybrid Burrito (cayenne tortilla, pinto beans, roasted veggies, tomatoes, white onions, jalapenos, lettuce, pico de gallo, hot tomatillo sauce, queso)
Veggie Hybrid Burrito (cayenne tortilla, pinto beans, roasted veggies, tomatoes, white onions, jalapenos, lettuce, pico de gallo, hot tomatillo sauce, queso)

At least it wasn’t death sauce.

Freebirds World Burrito (10)

My sister’s nachos looked extremely appetizing. She liked the taste, but found the chips to be too flimsy to hold all of the various nacho toppings.

Veggie Nachos

We finished up close to 6pm, but it was still blazing hot outside and felt like it was 3pm. Weather-wise, and food-wise, my long weekend was a fiery one for sure! 

What foods did you feast on to celebrate the fourth of July?

What do you like to eat when it’s hot outside? 

Freebirds World Burrito on Urbanspoon

The Veg-Friendly Philly Cheese “Steak” Waffle (and Other Things)

The Veg-Friendly Philly Cheese “Steak” Waffle (and Other Things)

Last week, I really wanted to be in a more patriotic mood for the 4th of July weekend. That got me brainstorming about coming up with new dinners to try, since I’ve also been in a dinner rut for quite some time. I wanted to save the hot  veggie dogs and corn on the cob  tradition for the 4th, so the dinner I came up with in the meantime was this:

The Veg-Friendly Philly Cheese Steak Waffle

Here’s how my thought process got me to the end product you see above: 4th of July -> Red, White, and Blue -> Philadelphia -> Philly Cheesesteak -> “How can I make this vegetarian?” -> Boca Meatless Crumbles ->“Wait, we don’t have any of that thick, roll bread in the house and I certainly don’t feel like making that too.” -> Waffles.

Yup, when you don’t have hoagie rolls in your house, waffles are the perfect substitute. And I’ve been wanting to find some reason to have a savory waffle for a while too!

The Veg-Friendly Philly Cheese Steak Waffle
Serves 2
A savory waffle base with all the fun fix-ins of a philly cheesesteak. Only thing is, this one's lacto-ovo vegetarian-friendly!
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Waffles
  1. - 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  2. - 1/4 cup cornstarch
  3. - 1/2 tsp. salt
  4. - 1/4 cup shredded cheese
  5. - 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  6. - 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  7. - 1 egg
  8. - 2 tbsp. oil
  9. - spices (i.e. cayenne, basil, thyme, oregano)
  10. - 3/4 cup of milk
Topping
  1. - 1 medium onion (thin slices)
  2. - 1/4 cup frozen or fresh peans
  3. - 1/4 tsp. cumin seeds
  4. - salt
  5. - 2 tsp. oil
  6. - 1/2 cup of Boca Meatless Crumbles
  7. - mushrooms (optional)
Gravy Sauce
  1. - 2 cloves chopped garlic
  2. - 1 tbsp. butter
  3. - flour for rue
  4. - 1/4 cup milk
  5. - 2 tbsp. sour cream
For the waffles
  1. Mix dry ingredients.
  2. Add oil and blend.
  3. Add egg, milk, and whisk.
  4. Add cheese, and whisk.
  5. Pour into waffle iron, and let cook until ready.
For the topping
  1. Roast cumin seeds in oil.
  2. Add onions and caramelize.
  3. Add peas, Boca, and optional mushrooms.
  4. Cook, adding spoons of water to keep from burning.
For the Gravy Sauce
  1. Roast the garlic with butter in a pan.
  2. Make a rue by adding some leftover flour.
  3. Add 1/4 cup of milk.
  4. After boiling, add 2 tbsp. of sour cream, and mix well.
  5. Add salt to taste.
  6. Then pour this (in addition to the topping) over desired amount of waffles.
  7. Serve and eat!!
Notes
  1. Waffle batter makes around 9 waffle quarters. Topping is enough to be split between two or eaten by one.
Will Study for Food http://www.willstudyforfood.com/
 Pieces of the recipe.
Pieces of the recipe.

This veg-friendly philly cheese “steak” topping was amazing. I think I’m going to have to find reasons to make savory waffles a lot more often—especially if I have this much success with future endeavors!

Along with this fun savory waffle experiment, I also had some new-to-me snacks I managed to accumulate pictures of over the past two weeks.

I found a new-to-me flavor of Chobani—blackberry. It actually didn’t have that much of a blackberry taste to me however, and actually reminded me more of the blueberry flavor. It’s not going to be a flavor worth seeking out…like any of the flips are (key lime crumble, I’m looking at you!)

 Chobani Blackberry Yogurt
Chobani Blackberry Yogurt

I also recently found a vitamin store that sells Quest bars near where I work, so I stopped by during one of my breaks to pick up the chocolate peanut butter flavor. I felt like taking a break from Cookies & Cream and White Chocolate Raspberry (wow, did I just say that??), and going back to a tried-and-true flavor combination of chocolate and peanut butter sounded perfectly appetizing at the time.

 Quest Bar Chocolate Peanut Butter
Quest Bar Chocolate Peanut Butter

For some reason I forgot that there were actual peanuts mixed in all that chocolate-y fudge of a bar. With all the hype surrounding the newer flavors, I almost forgot how delicious this flavor was! Plus, it gave me the much needed afternoon pick-me-up necessary for me to complete the last couple hours of work before calling it a day and heading home for dinner. 

Another bar that I snacked on that week was a Corazonas Oatmeal Square White Chocolate Macadamia Nut  bar, thanks to a free item coupon I found online. It would have been a cheap find even without the coupon though, since it was only $0.98 at my local grocery store. 

 Corazonas Oatmeal Square White Chocolate Macadamia Nut
Corazonas Oatmeal Square White Chocolate Macadamia Nut

It tasted like a soft oatmeal cookie with white chocolate chunks. Couldn’t detect any hint of macadamia, unfortunately. This bar might have been even more of a treat after some nuking in the microwave, but I just didn’t have the patience time for that 😉

Do you like savory waffle recipes?

What new foods have you tried lately?

6×5

6×5

Last week, I really wanted to keep the momentum up with my running progress and half marathon training. I was on schedule with my LSD runs, and had run two 10ks in May, so I wanted to see if I could challenge myself in another way. It’s been my goal to increase my weekly mileage to at least 30 miles/week for almost a year now. I believe it was back in March ’13 when I had my last 30-mile week (which has been the greatest amount of mileage I’ve accumulated over a week ever). I’ve been desperately wanting to change that, but I came into 2014 knowing other things had priority. I also had a major case of laziness when it came to squeezing in morning runs before starting my day, and I even let my “LSDs on the weekends” plan “in order to get a faster half marathon pace” go to the wayside.

But I’ve been getting my enthusiasm back for running, and I wanted to take full advantage of that before giving it a chance to dwindle away again.

That’s where the 6×5 Challenge stepped in.

In summary, I devised the challenge so that I had to run 6 miles (non-stop, no breaking it up throughout the day) in the morning for five consecutive days, so that if I mastered the challenge, in the end I would have had to reach 30 miles. I was even thinking of making it even more challenging by waking up at 6AM and running 6 miles for six days straight (to work on discipline), but then I changed my mind and accepted that accomplishing the 6×5 would be good enough—at least for now!

So how did it work out? Did I rise up to the challenge…?

Sunday//  It was a 10k race day, so that took care of the 6 miles part of the challenge. It wasn’t my best performance, but it was a good start to my personal challenge.

Monday // On Monday, I woke up with doubts about if I’d be able to do this. I even stood inside my house for a good fifteen minutes with my Garmin and socks on wondering if I was too tired to run or if I should run with music…but I didn’t want to deal with excuses. It was personal this time. I ended up running to the gym with my first two miles acting as a “warm-up” when I ran a lap on my usual 5k route, and then running straight into the gym (not kidding) to join a Zumba class that was already in session. Some fuelage in this day included included Nature Valley bars, trail mix, and this So Delicious Cultured Coconut Milk in Chocolate flavor:

part of mondays fuel so delicious cultured coconut milk chocolate. 0.50 from safeway!
I had a $1.00 off coupon, so it ended up being $0.50 from Safeway! It tasted like a chocolate tofu dessert—a good vegan substitute for Jell-O!

Tuesday // I like to dub Tuesday’s run as my “over-the-river-and-through-the-woods-to-Quest-bars-I-will-go” run 😉 . I meshed a woodsy new-to-me trail into a take on the route I took on Monday, but this time my destination was to a store that sold Quest bars 😛 . I did fuel up in the early morning with a humble plate of pancakes since I was feeling hungry—and since we had some key lime greek yogurt that needed to be used up. And this time, I wasn’t too lazy to keep note of the measurements to construct a simple recipe:

Key Lime Greek Yogurt Pancakes, tuesdays breakfast collage

Key Lime Greek Yogurt Pancakes
Serves 2
Simple, moist pancakes with a scent of key lime.
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Total Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. - 1 cup (100g) of buttermilk pancake mix
  2. - 1 container (170g) of store-bought key lime greek yogurt
  3. - 2 tsp. to 1/4 cup of water (enough so you have a batter consistency to your liking)
  4. - cooking spray
Instructions
  1. Mix wet and dry ingredients.
  2. Whisk until batter is at "pourable" consistency.
  3. Spray cooking spray on pan at medium heat.
  4. Wait 30-40 seconds or until a lot of bubbles/holes come up, then flip to other side and remove.
  5. Repeat process until batter is used up.
  6. Top with peanut butter, syrup, berries, or even more greek yogurt!
Will Study for Food http://www.willstudyforfood.com/
 I topped mine with peanut butter :)
I topped mine with peanut butter 🙂

I noticed that my pace was lagging compared to my runs on Sunday and Monday. Perhaps running soon after eating may have affected my pace, but nevertheless, I felt very accomplished after my run. Even though I had a dull ache in my foot and sore quads, the most annoying pain I experienced that day was when I stubbed my toe after hitting it against a suitcase that was in my way. Now that hurt!

Wednesday // I fueled up with some plain Fage yogurt topped with a generous amount of peanut butter. I also snacked on some corn tortillas. I decided to go for a run around the neighborhood and bring my MP3 along for the ride. I’ve noticed that music usually slows my pace down (unless I’ve added new music that I’m excited to listen to), but for the most part, my run was pretty comfortable up to Mile 5. My pace was the slowest from all of the days so far, about two seconds slower than my pace on Tuesday. Even though it was getting warmer, I went for a long walk with my friend to pick up two of my favorite Quest bar flavors.

Wednesdays fuel - fage greek yogurt and lots of justins pb pre-run AAAAND quest bars post-run after a looong walk with friend---yum!

Thursday // I can’t deny the fact that I did feel tired when I woke up at 5:30AM in the morning and couldn’t go back to sleep since I was feeling hungry. So along with having a single vanilla Chobani cup:

 Sometime, early morning hunger pangs get in the way of making the yogurt-eating experience more fun. Fortunately, the vanilla Chobani flavor was creamy in both texture and flavor, and held me over until it was waffle time.
Sometimes, early morning hunger pangs get in the way of making the yogurt-eating experience more fun. Fortunately, the vanilla Chobani flavor was creamy in both texture and flavor, and held me over until it was waffle time.

I also drank some coffee and split a waffle with my Dad, topping it with some Whole Soy & Co. Blueberry Soygurt. It was exactly what I needed, and despite still feeling tired, my run went by smoothly (and surprisingly felt like it went faster compared to my runs earlier in the week)!

 Whole Soy & Co. Blueberry Soygurt tastes delicious on its own, but it added more body to my waffle---certainly a more wholesome and satisfying option over syrup!
Whole Soy & Co. Blueberry Soygurt tastes delicious on its own, but it added more body to my waffle—certainly a more wholesome and satisfying option over syrup!

I didn’t get into the “5 mile slump” like I did on Tuesday and Wednesday. Actually, mile 5 ended up being my fastest! Also, when looking back at my pace for each of the six miles, I noticed a fast-slow-fast pattern where I would run fast one mile, 20-30 seconds slower in the next, and then back to a faster pace in the next mile. 

Rarely do I ever feel hungry during a run, but around mile 4, I was itching to finally get home and eat something. Still in the yogurt mood, I went with a (probably pretty obvious now…) favorite combo of mine, and topped my Whole Soy & Co. Peach Soygurt with peanut butter. That hit the spot!

 What can I say...if Grocery Outlet has 3/$1.00 deal on these soygurts, how can one resist? I love the peach flavor not only because of its runny-but-thick texture, but also because there are pieces of peach mixed in. Peanut butter is also a necessary addition...
What can I say…if Grocery Outlet has 3/$1.00 deal on these soygurts, how can one resist? I love the peach flavor not only because of its runny-but-thick texture, but also because there are pieces of peach mixed in. Peanut butter is also a necessary addition…

Friday and Saturday were rest days. After reaching my 30-mile goal after Thursday’s run, I took a 1.5 hour nap later in the day. And even though I had a good night’s rest that night as well, I woke up on Friday wanting to go back to sleep—a sign that my body wouldn’t mind a little more rest 😉 . I didn’t resist at all, since my challenge was conquered and I was ready to rest up over the Memorial Day weekend 😀 .

 My self-proclaimed "30-mile treat" over the weekend...details on what it is in an upcoming post!
My self-proclaimed “30-mile treat” over the weekend…details on what it is in an upcoming post!

While I’ve always wanted to do something like this and actually see it through, I know that it’s not the best way (at least for me at this point in time) to get a faster pace. It’s all about quality, and even though this week was hefty in quantity, I noticed that my pace was slowing as the week progressed. Going forward, my focus is going to be on a mix between easy, short runs during the week and consistent LSD runs on the weekends. Emphasizing the latter will be my top priority because that’s how I’ll rack up my 30+ miles/week (in a way that’s easier to maintain) while still having interspersed rest days.

But for now, I shall foam roll, and pat myself on the back for my personal running victory 😉 .

Do you give yourself running/fitness challenges to keep your motivation up?

Dhokla, and Other Kitchen Experiments

Dhokla, and Other Kitchen Experiments

It’s funny how the dish I wanted to recreate most when I got back from my trip was a dish that I had eaten in a restaurant out with family :P. My uncle and aunt treated my dad and I to dinner one night at a Gujarati-themed restaurant. Even though Gujarat is located in the northwestern region of India, a lot of the food is vegetarian-friendly much like in the south.

The food I craved the most after dining at that restaurant was a soft, little cake of rice and chickpea flour—dhokla.

dhokla trial 1 (1)
Dhokla Trial 1 – Had it with steamed veggies w/ shredded coconut. Yum!
dhokla trial 1 (2)
Dhokla Trial 1

It is steamed, so the consistency is light, fluffy, and makes for the perfect vessel to scoop up leftover aloo gobi sauce (I would know 😉 ).

dhokla trial 2 (1)
Dhokla Trial 2 – Came out much softer!
dhokla trial 2 (2)
Cut up into cute little blocks, and had it with veggie stew!

When recreating at home, I experimented with the ratio of chickpea flour and semolina, and ultimately went with the recipe below. Oh, and I opted for the microwave in order to “steam” my dhokla quicker 😉

Dhokla
Serves 4
A fresh, steamed Indian (Gujarati) rice flour-based cake perfect with soups and side dishes!
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
4 min
Total Time
19 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
4 min
Total Time
19 min
For the dhokla batter
  1. - 3/4 cups of chickpea flour/besan
  2. - 1/4 cups of semolina (rava)
  3. - 1/4 tsp. tumeric powder
  4. - 1 tsp. asafoetida/hing
  5. - 1/4 tsp. ginger
  6. - 1/2 tsp. serrano
  7. - 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
  8. - 1/2 tsp. salt
  9. - 3/4 cup of water
  10. - 1/2 tsp. of baking soda
For the tempering
  1. - 1 tbsp. oil
  2. - mustard seeds
  3. - cumin seeds (optional)
  4. - 1 tsp. sugar
  5. - 1/4 cup water
  6. - 1 sprig curry leaves
For garnish
  1. - ¼ cup chopped coriander leaves
Instructions
  1. In a bowl, mix flour and semolina (coarse meal) with salt and turmeric asafodita (hing) powder.
  2. In a blender, grind ginger and serrano (or chili) in water and lemon juice.
  3. Add to flour, and make a nice thick batter.
  4. Adjust by adding water to a waffle batter consistency.
  5. Prepare a microwave bowl by coating with oil.
  6. Add the baking soda to batter, and mix gently until mixture bubbles and expands.
  7. Pour batter in bowl, and microwave for 2-3 minutes, testing towards the end by inserting toothpick for "doneness".
  8. Shake the Dhokla round onto a plate, ready for tempering.
Tempering
  1. In a small pan heat a spoon of oil.
  2. Add a pinch of black mustard seeds and let it pop.
  3. Add the cumin seeds and curry leaves, and after the leaves cook (change color and blister), add two or three tablespoons of water and bring to boil.
  4. Pour over dhokla.
  5. Garnish with coriander, slice, and serve!
Will Study for Food http://www.willstudyforfood.com/
Besides the experimenting with a dhokla recipe in order to appease the cravings leftover from my trip, I recently whipped out my dehydrator again, since we had a block of tofu that needed to be used up.

Dehydrated Tofu Experiment (1)

Dehydrated Tofu Experiment (2)

After cutting the block into thin rectangles, I placed them over a tray, and dehydrated them at 135 degrees F for about six hours.

Dehydrated Tofu Experiment (3)

The result…

Dehydrated Tofu Experiment (4)

…and the verdict? They came out crisp on the outside, but still had a nice chew on the inside. If I had marinated these in some sauce or spices before dehydrating, they could have turned out to be some awesome tofu chips! I’ll let that idea simmer until next time!

Dehydrated Tofu Experiment (6)

My Quest bar craving has really been strong lately, especially for the Cookies & Cream flavor. I couldn’t help but have one microwaved one morning, and even went so far as to add a dollop of peanut butter onto it! Dee-licious, I say ♥!

Cookies & Cream Quest Bar with Justin's Honey Peanut Butter Dollop

What kitchen experiments have you been conducting lately? Any successes?

Sweet Endings

Sweet Endings

Before leaving for my trip, my labmates took me out to lunch as a “farewell”—more so for my leaving for graduate school rather than my trip 😉 . I brought some homemade dessert over to share as my parting gift. They really enjoyed a plain cashew burphi I brought for a holiday party last year, so I decided to keep with the burphi theme, but let coconut be the star this time around.

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Coconut Cashew Burphi

With the amounts of ingredients I had, I didn’t even have enough to fill a whole pan! Even so, I thought the bars came out fine and would be suitable for three people to share.

caption
Follow the steps below!
caption
The recipe…haha noticed a typo here! Should be “18” bars, not “8” 😉

Desserts are known to be imperative when celebrating life’s milestones (birthdays, weddings, etc.), but they also seem to be a mandatory component when a departure is concerned. Is it because the sweetness masks the melancholy that may arrive without a doubt?

Whatever the reason may be, desserts bring with them a celebration within themselves! With one bite, they can make a dreary day brighter, or add more sunshine to an already blissful event.

What are your favorite desserts to make for those “farewell” situations?

Chilly Days, Chili Idlis

Chilly Days, Chili Idlis

Chilly days call for chili idlis. There’s no doubt about it.

Warm, spicy goodness.
Warm, spicy goodness.

I guess you could call an idli an Indian rice cake. By itself, it has a soft, chewy texture, but it is quite bland. No wonder it’s usually paired with an assortment of chutneys, sambars (soups), and vegetable side dishes.

Idlis in sambar (spicy soup)
[source] 
When I was younger, I preferred to have mine with ketchup…and maybe sometimes chutney :P. Idlis were never a true favorite of mine, as I preferred other, richer Indian carbohydrates—dosas, chappatis, pooris—and my Westernized taste buds seemed to fit ketchup as the only fitting condiment to pair with these bread goods.

My friends ate Heinz. I used Maggi like all the other cool Indian kids 😉
[source]
But as I grew older and into the foodie I am now today, I’ve come across interesting ways to turn a traditional classic into something…well, more fun. I first had chili idlis at a mainly South Indian restaurant a couple months back. I say mainly because chili idlis are far from being a South Indian delicacy. Rather, they’re an Indo-Chinese fusion creation.

Get ready for some flavor, blandies!
Get ready for some flavor, bland-ies!

The kind I had at the restaurant was surprisingly delectable, since the restaurant itself was not exactly what comes to mind when you think of fine dining. We were literally the only people eating dinner there that day, and the boss was yelling away on his phone in a corner office by the front door. The employees—cooks, wait staff, and all—were standing in another corner watching us curiously munch away at our food. It was awkward and completely unprofessional to say the least, but the chili idlis tasted good enough for me to distance myself from the awkwardness.

Putting the "chili" in chili idli!
Putting the “chili” in chili idli!

I couldn’t take a picture because the situation wasn’t right (obviously), but my chili idlis were photo-worthy. They were cut into quarters, fried, infused with spices, and garnished with greens. The dish was so fabulous that I wouldn’t mind being dragged into that restaurant again if it was necessary ;).

Idlis in quarters, measured in a cup.
Idlis in quarters, measured in a cup.

I did remember about this dish a few weeks ago when we were going through chilling temperatures, and I was trying to brainstorm some good ideas for warm winter meals. This is what I ended up going with to get the result you see in the first pic ;)!

Chili Idlis 
Note: this version is not fried

Ingredients

  • 6 small idlis cut up into cubes (day old refrigerated preferably)
  • 2 cloves of chopped garlic
  • 1 small onion
  • ½ bell bepper
  • 2 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Serrano pepper
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp corn starch
  • curry leaves
  • chili powder
  • cilantro for garnish
  • salt
After baked and browned.
After baked and browned.

Directions

  • On cookie sheet lay out the idli pieces (idlis cut in quarters)—coated in oil or sprayed with cooking spray.
  • Broil or bake until pieces are crisp and browned.
  • In a skillet, heat a tablespoon of oil.
  • Add brown cumin seeds and garlic to brown.
  • Add curry leaves to toast.
  • Add chunky pieces of onion and bell peppers, and sautée until tender.
  • Add all condiments, cook a bit and add the quartered idlis, and toss.
  • Dissolve cornstarch in water, and add to pan and stir until all the pieces are coated and the liquid is taken up.
  • Garnish with cilantro and serve.
The stir-fry pre-idli toss!
The stir-fry pre-idli toss!

Do you like fusion cuisine?

What are your favorite cuisines to mix together?

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