Monday, April 29, 2013

chasing rainbows (recipe: honey roasted peanut butter pancakes)

Rainbow Over the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone Summer 2007
You know I've been chasing rainbows, running after dreams
As long as I remember, I've been bustin' at the seams
But I know all things are possible to those that can believe
So I keep chasing rainbows, God supplies my needs
~Dolly Parton

And here is my good news...I will be starting a new job in the next coming weeks.  After a five year hiatus, I am rejoining the culinary industry.  I have perused many job boards for years and finally threw my name into the hat-on a whim.  I was so nervous, knowing I don't look good on paper when it comes to this particular industry.  I've wanted to be a part of it so badly-but I stand by my choices, I've waited for my moment and I hope this is it.

I struggled with leaving my part-time retail job.  Not because I love it, because that my friends would be untrue, but because it is so easy.  I struggle with the idea of my son possibly going to pre-school for an extra day.  I fear for my balance.  I am so excited and equally scared shitless.
photo credit
I am proud of myself for just trying.  I used to try all the time.  I had more drive and courage in my teens and twenties and when my thirties rolled around courage and drive rolled far from my grasp.  My husband is proud of me just for trying.  He never tells me things like that but he admitted that tidbit the other day.  I want to be that person who tries-I want my son to see that it is OK to put yourself out there and risk things.  I hope to be that kind of role model for him.

In fact, on our drive to Houston last weekend a piece of "Urban Art" (aka graffiti) made me think of all of those thoughts listed above but also this:  Who is the "someone" I want to be?

For now-I want to be that someone who chases rainbows...for me, my family, my son.
Totally off the subject...I made pancakes tonight.  Peanut Butter Pancakes.  Fluffy, flavorful, sweet and salty (thanks PB & Syrup).  Definitely a must try!  Need batter advise?  Here is a tutorial for light and fluffy pancakes.
Honey Roasted Peanut Butter Pancakes
source:  Color Me Vegan by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau
1 1/4 AP flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 cup milk, dairy or non-dairy
1/4 cup all natural honey roasted peanut butter
  1. In a small bowl whisk together flour, salt, baking powder and sugar.
  2. In a large measuring cup or separate small bowl stir milk and peanut butter until well combined.
  3. Add the liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just combined, batter should have small lumps.
  4. Lightly butter griddle or frying pan and spoon 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto heated pan.  Turn once pancake is dry around the edges and bubbles form at the top of pancake.  Cook a few minutes more on other side, until golden brown.  Serve immediately.

Monday, April 22, 2013

the things I want to share (recipe: salmon salad w/ blueberry balsamic vinegar)

Oh friends, there are things I would love to share with you right now.  I just can't at this moment-and I may never.  It would be good news.  Just like a new born chick, I broke through a hard shell to make an entrance into a new world.  It took courage.  The process is not done and there are many, many elements that can affect the situation, and ultimately a decision-if need be.  My mind has been tossing with bouts of excitement and flashes of anxiety.  I hope to share good news soon. Whatever the outcome, I am just thankful that I took that very large step.
In the meantime, I can share a delightful Salmon Salad recipe.

Salmon Salad with Blueberry Balsamic Vinegar
This is a great way to use leftover salmon.  The taste is fresh, vibrant and light.
serves 2

8 oz. cooked salmon (baked, grilled, poached)
1/4 cup celery, small dice
2 T. red onion, small dice
1/2 T. fresh dill, chopped
1/2 T. capers, drained
1 t. dried blueberries
1/2 T. blueberry balsamic vinegar
1/2 T. Extra Light Olive Oil
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Break salmon into large chunks, discarding any bones or skin.
  2. Combine celery, red onion, dill, capers, blueberries, blueberry balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper into a medium size bowl.  Add salmon and toss to combine.
  3. Adjust seasonings.  Chill in refrigerator.

inspired by:  The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

the favorite eating spot (recipe: Cashew Chicken Ranch Pizza)

My husband and I have always had our favorite eating spots.  You know the ones, small, dark, maybe a little dingy, never crowded but oh. so. good.  In college it was a tiny house on the east side of Nacogdoches called Aubrey's.  They cooked like any treasured southern grandma, served heaping portions to starving college students for a price of next-to-nothing.  Sundays were smothered chicken and dressing, Fridays they served beef tips and rice, Wednesday was chicken and dumplin's (yes, dumplin's).  It's been 14 years ago since I sat at their table and I still remember their specials.

In College Station, well, there were so many favorites.  Hot Dogs Etc. is a tiny, spotless restaurant at the wrong end of Bryan-they serve the best chili dog ever.  Pepe's always looked dirty and dingy but for poor college kids it was the answer to homemade fast Mexican food served in a Taco Bell atmosphere.  Their salsa though, I could drink a vat of it.  Hebert's Cajun Food was our ultimate favorite.  They served their spicy fare from a small drive-thru kiosk.  My husband picked up jambalaya so often they knew his name and exactly what he was going to order.  It is THE best jambalaya the pair of us had ever tasted.

When we moved to Pocatello, well, the food scene was quite bleak.  Almost terrible.  But we found a few diamonds in the rough.  Breakfast or morning sickness curing comfort could be found at Butterburr's. Taqueria La Costa gave these displaced Texans a taste of home, and Dough Boyz served our all time favorite slice of pizza-Cashew Chicken Ranch.

Since those days in that desert mountain town, Dough Boyz closed it's doors and we made the move back to Texas.  And every once in a while we recreate our favorite pizza at home and think of the red booth seats and snowy sidewalks that lined that pizzeria.

Cashew Chicken Ranch Pizza
serves 4-6

12 oz. or 1/2 recipe of Quick Beer Pizza Dough
Bottled Ranch Dressing
1/2 cup Cashews
3/4 cup  cooked chicken, cubed (*great way to use leftovers)
12 oz. Mozzarella, shredded
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Flatten dough into a 10" round on a pizza stone or baking sheet.  Par-bake the dough for five minutes and remove from the oven.
  2. Spread a thin layer of ranch dressing evenly over the par-baked pizza crust.
  3. Place cashews and chicken evenly on top of the ranch covered pizza and cover with cheese.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes or until cheese has bubbled and melted.
  5. Cool for 5 minutes, slice and enjoy.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

sunny mornings

One of my favorite breakfasts is one half of a grapefruit and mashed avocado on whole wheat toast or flatbread.  My avocado mash is easy to make.  One avocado, cut into chunks, juice of 1/2 lime, salt and pepper.  Mash it to a spreadable consistency.  Spread on toast, crackers or flatbread.  Eat up.  Done.

Cherry Blueberry Smoothie is simple and quick to make.  Easily made if you are being rushed out the door in the mornings.  Makes a great mid-day snack too!  You can find the printable recipe here!

Spinach & Mushroom Frittata can be served for breakfast lunch or dinner.  Use leftovers as a quick breakfast on the go as this frittata is pretty tasty cold or room temperature.  Serve with asparagus for dinner or a simple salad to complete the meal for lunch, frittatas are versatile nonetheless.  Print Recipe.

And by the end of the day, our bellies are full and it is time to clean up and rest.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

banana bread with pecans and golden flaxseed

There are not many rainy days that have found themselves in Central Texas lately and definitely not many that decide to linger but April has held true to her reputation this week by bringing us plenty of springtime showers.  Today was a cool and wet one; gentle tapping of steady rainfall, birds reveling in the chilly shower and rumbles of thunder in the distance.  It was a perfect day to bake-and so I did.

I still consider myself to be a wholesome bee and do not find myself indulging as much as I used to. Baking has been scarce this year but rainy days make for great exceptions.  As I paced across my kitchen this morning my eyes fell upon two very ripe bananas begging to be a part of something wonderful.

Banana Nut Bread with a wholesome twist.  Nuts and a healthy helping of ground flax seed give this banana bread varied texture.  Flax seed is prized for its many vitamins and minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, and is also rich in fiber.  A slice of this bread with a cup of tea would be perfect to begin your day or snack on as you watch the leaves and flowers dance in the rain.

Banana Bread with Pecan and Golden Flaxseed
Makes 1 Loaf:  8 servings

2 T unsalted butter, melted, plus more (softened) for pan
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup golden flaxseed (ground from 2 heaping tablespoons whole)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg, plus one egg white
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or equal amount vanilla extract)
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease 9-by-5-by 3 inch loaf pan with butter, set aside.  Whisk whole wheat flour, AP flour, salt, flax, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl, set aside.
  2. Put egg and egg white into a bowl of an electric mixture.  Mix on low until well combined, two minutes.  Add sugar, vanilla, bananas, melted butter, and mix until combined.  Add flour mixture, and mix on low speed until batter forms.  Stir in pecans.
  3. Pour batter into pan and bake for 35 minutes  or until a cake tester inserted into center comes out clean.  Slightly cool on a wire rack.  Remove bread from pan and cool completely on rack.

Monday, April 1, 2013

the ring 'bear' & a union

A Texas wedding in the spring~the most handsome little "ring bear"~touches of robin's egg blue
Hope everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend.