Tag Archives: Whole Wheat

Summer Picnic Pasta Salad

What a beautiful weekend.  Seriously.  I don’t even care that I didn’t study nearly enough for my final and most likely didn’t do that well, judging from the despair I felt while gaping at the first page.  But, that’s all over with (I’m sure I didn’t fail) and now we can just move on to the next test, and meanwhile I’ll just start enjoying summer (or spring…you know.  I get excited).

Four fun things that happened recently:

1) We went to my BFF Jen’s house for a mother’s day/birthday BBQ, and I brought my go-to “summer is here!” pasta salad.

I’m pretty excited for warm weather.

BBQ weather.

That’s why I married a South African.  Strictly for the BBQ.

2)  Jen’s mom gave us the rights to a pile o’ firewood that they had for their old fire pit, which has been replaced by one that burns sterno.

3) Fritz bought a fire pit on sale at Home Depot.

Let the marshmallow toasting begin!

4)  Jen’s mom also gave us a backup battery for our new camera, because she accidentally bought the wrong size for her new camera.  Score!

Love that woman.  And not just for the presents.

But let’s get back to the pasta salad.  It’s based on a recipe my old roommate in college used to make, and now it’s a staple for any grillin’ adventure that may take place.  I love it.  I’m obsessed with it.  It’s easy, it’s versatile, it uses whatever ingredients you have in the house, it’s healthy, and everyone likes it.

What else do you want from me?  I’m giving you a gift here!  Free of charge!

Summer Picnic Pasta Salad

  • 1 box whole-wheat penne (or you can use any other pasta shape, but I always stick with penne, ’cause the peas fit so perfectly inside)
  • 1 C frozen peas
  • 1/2 C grated carrot
  • 1/2 C sliced artichoke hearts
  • 1/4 C chopped sun-dried tomatoes (sometimes I use halved grape tomatoes, around 1 C)
  • 1 small can sliced black olives
  • 3-5 T olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar (1/4 C? 1/3 C? I never measure–just pour over and taste, taste, taste until you like it!)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3 T light italian dressing–I only use this occasionally, when I’m trying to finish off a bottle or the pasta tastes a bit dry.  You definitely don’t need it!

Cook the pasta according to directions, and drain it. 

Speaking of pasta, I feel like I’ve been totally cheated!  The Barilla pasta I used to use is only 51% whole-wheat, and I just noticed it.  So not cool, Barilla.  I grabbed a few America’s Choice store brand whole-wheat pasta, which is made with all durum semolina flour, and I felt better.  Plus it was on sale, and I love a sale.

Dump the pasta in a bowl and add the frozen peas, which cools it to room temperature quite nicely.  Add the rest of your toppings of choice, then start dressing it. 

Not exactly the most helpful recipe, I know, but seriously, all you need is the idea.  I usually drizzle the olive oil over the top, mix that in, and then go to town with the balsamic.  Once I get the right taste, I salt and pepper it just a touch.  The artichoke hearts and olives add a nice touch of brine and the sun-dried tomatoes!  Just yum.

This is good.  Guh–ood.  Not to mention that eating this pasta salad fills me with the joy that is a summer BBQ.

So come over and hang out at my new fire pit!  Who needs to study, anyway?

Here’s the birthday girl herself:

And blowing out her birthday candles:

Happy birthday, Jenny!  Next time this year, we’ll be graduating!

It was a good day.  Nothin’ like a BBQ to take my mind off of life.

What’s your go-to dish for a summer picnic?

8 Comments

Filed under Salads

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls

Today was such a beautiful day!  Fritz started opening up the pool and we grilled chicken for our dinner salad today–summer’s on its way!  Even finals can’t get me down on a day like today.

Unlike winter midterms, it’s easier to not care about my finals because the weather is just so darn nice.  Which is probably not a good thing (but only three weeks to go ’till I’m a third year!)

I took a nice long study break to make a recipe that I found on FoodGawker (or TasteSpotting…I can’t remember which) for sweet potato cinnamon rolls.  The site is called So Good and Tasty, and there are some beautiful photos on there that you should go check out!

Rejoice with me.  They came out fluffy, sweet, orange, and fluffy.  Did I say fluffy already?  Lightest, finest (is that a word?) cinnamon rolls ever–you would never guess they are made with whole-wheat flour.  Or sweet potatoes, for that matter.

When I say you should make this recipe immediately, I really mean it.  I’m not cryin’ wolf.  Go make them.  This is a “healthy” treat that actually tastes incredibly decadent.  The best part?  It makes enough that I froze two more batches of unbaked cinnamon rolls, all ready for the lucky person that sleeps over next (Eber–that might be you!).

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls (makes 16-24 rolls)

  • 1 C milk, warmed
  • 4 t yeast
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 2 C mashed cooked sweet potato (hello, microwave!  I used 3 1/2 small sweet potatoes)
  •   2 1/2 C whole-wheat flour
  • 2- 2 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 t salt
  • 6 T butter, softened
  • 1/2 C cinnamon sugar (I didn’t measure how much I used–this is a rough estimate)

Combine the milk, yeast, and maple syrup in a bowl and set it aside until the yeast gets nice and foamy.

Keep an eye on it, though.  Don’t be like me.

In the mixer, combine the sweet potato, olive oil, salt, egg and 1 C of flour (I started with the wheat flour).  Mix until fluffy (see?  this is where the airiness begins!).

Add the yeast combination to the mixer bowl and mix on low until it’s all blended.  Starting with the rest of the whole-wheat flour and finishing with the all-purpose, add the flour slowly until the dough forms a ball and cleans the side of the bowl–it’ll still be sticky.  Switch to the dough hook.

Let the dough knead for 8-10 minutes until it’s smooth, adding more flour if you need.  Cover the bowl and let sit for an hour or so until it has doubled in size.

Divide the dough in half.

One at a time, roll the dough out to a rectangle that’s about 16 inches by 10 inches.  Spread the softened butter over the top and cover with cinnamon sugar.  Starting at the long side, roll it up tightly and press the seam together.  Cut gently into sections–8 if you want giant rolls or 12 if you want smaller ones.  I did both–12 big ones and 6 small ones.

Arrange in an oiled baking dish (I put 6 large ones in a pie pan, and 6 small ones in a muffin tin), leaving space in between each one.

Cover, and allow them to rise until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown–be sure not to overbake, because they’ll dry out fast.

While they are cooling, mix together some icing by combining a little milk, vanilla extract, and confectioners’ sugar until it’s nice and thick.  Drizzle over the top and serve warm.

SO GOOD!

So good, they needed capslock to properly describe them.

One last thing–how can I get any studying done when there’s a cat sleeping on my orthopedics notebook?

11 Comments

Filed under Breads, Breakfast

Royal Honey(moon) Wheat Scones

I’m a little late for the royal wedding, I know.

I also didn’t watch it (but I kinda wish I did).  So when the urge struck me to bake, I decided to make some scones.  Honey-ey and wheat-ey ones.

And then I named them after the royal honeymoon.

Aside from their delightful taste, a nice thing about this recipe is that it only makes 6 hearty-sized scones.  A lot of times when I bake I suddenly realize I have 5,843 muffins or 635 cookies that are just begging me for some lovin’.  And really, I only was craving one or two cookies.  So if you want lots of scones, either halve the size of each scone or double the recipe (or both!).

Royal Honey(moon) Wheat Scones (adapted from In Great Taste by Evelyn Lauder)

  • 1 1/4 C whole-wheat flour (I used 1 C whole-wheat flour and 1/4 C buckwheat flour)
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 1/2 C water
  • 3 T honey
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a medium bowl, mix all the dry ingredients.  Add the rest of the ingredients and stir “vigorously” (the recipe says so!) until combined.

As you can see from my “ingredient” picture, I started off making barley flour, but my grinder wasn’t feeling up to the job so I switched to buckwheat/whole-wheat to save myself some time and energy.

Let the dough rest for a few minutes, then pat out on a floured surface into a circle about an inch thick (I told you, these are hefty scones!).

Using a glass or biscuit cutter, cut into rounds.  Reroll the scraps, and cut again.  I had exactly enough dough for six big fat scones.

Place them on the parchment paper and stick ’em in the oven for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.  Let them cool on a wire cooling rack.  If you have been cooking for years and somehow still don’t own a wire cooling rack, find some other adorable gadgets to cool the scones off on.

These were 4/$1 at a garage sale I went to a few years ago.  Score.

Enjoy these scones with a warm cuppa tea or coffee.  Or…just eat them plain!  They are faintly sweet with the honey and have a light nutty taste.  They are also surprisingly fluffy for something made with all whole-wheat flour (hello one whole tablespoon of baking powder).

Oh and…Got Milk? (Thanks for the mugs, Dad!)

And if you haven’t had enough Henry updates lately (because how can you have enough Henry updates?), here’s a nice montage of him lounging around in his ultimate favorite spot of all time–inside a cardboard box.

Any cardboard box.

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Filed under Breakfast, Desserts

Fig and Walnut Bars

I’m watching The Reader as I write this.  If you haven’t seen this movie yet (or read the book), I strongly suggest that you do so, even though it is a bit, ahem–uncomfortable at times.

Yesterday I went to a rehab hospital with my class and met several patients with different life-altering diagnoses such as spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, strokes, and other neurological disorders.  What really struck me is that every patient that we were introduced to were working at their therapy with positive, if not downright upbeat, attitudes.

These are patients with fairly new injuries that had a significant effect on their physical and mental functioning.  Even though the hospital was a really great one, I’m sure they’d rather be home or in their jobs like they were a few months ago than struggling to do basic tasks that only recently were so easy they were automatic.  I just can’t imagine the immense willpower it must take every day to pick oneself out of the deep sea of “why mes” and “what ifs” and just start focusing on needs to be done.

So kudos to the people who can do that–you are amazing and inspiring,

I brought some leftover fig and walnut bars for my friends and I to snack on while we were driving to and from the hospital.  They were definitely a welcome bite, since we were starving.

Fig and Walnut Bars (adapted from this recipe)

for the filling:

  • 8 oz dried figs, stems removed and cut into quarters
  • 1 T Lyle’s golden syrup (or honey)
  • 2 T water
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t ground ginger

for the crust:

  • 1 C whole-wheat flour
  • 1 C old-fashioned oats
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 6 T apple butter (or applesauce)
  • 1 flax egg (1 T ground flaxseed in 3 T warm water)
  • 2 T Lyle’s golden syrup (or honey)
  • 1 C toasted walnuts, for the top

To make the filling, combine all the ingredients (figs, syrup, water, lemon juice, and spices) into a food processor and combine until roughly smooth.  If a dash more water is necessary for it to form a paste, add it.

Set aside.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray a square 9″ pan with canola oil.

In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients, leaving out the toasted walnuts (to toast them, simply place them in the hot oven on a metal pan for five-eight minutes until browned).  Stir until a thick dough is formed.  You may need to add a bit more applesauce or water if it is too thick–it should be like a drop cookie dough.

Spread about three-quarters of the dough into the bottom of the pan and press it even.  Layer the fig filling on top (it should be a thin but even layer), and drop spoonfuls of the remaining oatmeal dough on top of the fig layer.  Spread the dough thinly and press the toasted walnuts into the mixture.

Bake on the middle rack for about 20 minutes, until the dough is browned.  It’s a bit difficult to tell with all the walnuts and layers, but it should be relatively firm to the touch.  Allow it to cool completely before slicing.

These are amazing–the fig center is sweet enough to make it taste like a dessert, even though the ingredients say otherwise.  With whole walnuts on top and a soft oatmeal “crust”, there are enough textures and flavors to make this a seriously satisfying snack.

A fig newton on (healthy) steroids.

I cut them into bars first, and then in half again into bites–mini snacks are just that much more appealing, don’t you think?

I’ve got a lot of school work to do this weekend, but never fear: the spring break countdown has finally begun!  On Friday, Fritz and I are headed to my parents’ house for an entire week, and I can. not. wait!

Kinda weird that I have to bring my baby tomato plants on a 6 1/2 hour drive, but a you gotta do what you gotta do.

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Filed under Desserts

Year of the Vegetable (and Pasta Puttanesca)

I have very exciting news.

News that involves vegetables.  Many vegetables, coming to me once a week in a box from a farm just a little further east on Long Island.  A CSA box.

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and it’s a system where the consumer (that’s me) buys directly from a farmer (that’s them).  It’s a bit expensive for our budget, but I talked Fritz into letting us try it this year.  It averages out to about $21 a week (our grocery budget is around $50 a week).

From June 1st ’till the end of November we will be picking up a box of CSA veggies from a drop-off point close by our apartment.  I’m really excited because I can’t wait to have fresh-picked local vegetables at my disposal for 26 weeks.  I’m also looking forward to learning how to use some new vegetables that I’ve never had the opportunity to use–the farm grows over 100 varieties of vegetables, and they promise 6-10 different types of vegetables in each box.  Of course, I am a little nervous about getting stuck with a giant pile of kale every week for 26 weeks–but their list of last year’s boxes has a lot of variety, so I remain hopeful.  I also have wanted to really dive into making us eat a lot more fresh and green vegetables this year, so with this system I’m stuck finding a way to use what I’ve been given (plus I hate wasting food and I love a challenge so…).

The farm we are using is called the Golden Earthworm Organic Farm, and here’s their website if you want to learn more about CSA or their farm: thegoldenearthworm.com

In other exciting vegetable news, our baby tomato plants are growing like wildfire.  On some advice from Mom, I knew I needed to thin them out ASAP since a lot more of them were growing than I anticipated.  I bought some peat pots for $1.50 and got to work.

To prepare the pots, poke a hole in the bottom, fill with potting soil, and drench with water until the pots are saturated.  Transplant the babies, and voila!

Obviously I would rather not be transplanting baby plants when they are this small, but the pots got overcrowded really fast and I didn’t have much of a choice.  Hopefully now with more room these 14 plants will prove their worth (’cause I’m dreaming about fresh salsa and canning tomato sauce already).

I think that Henry also considers himself their watchdog/mother/guardian angel.  He’s constantly watching over them, sniffing them, and not yet eating them.

Not yet.

Lastly, here’s a recipe for a fresh  new pasta sauce I tried for the first time ever tonight: pasta puttanesca.  It’s quick and simple (and I left out the anchovies, so it’s not fishy), and I absolutely loved it.  I normally don’t even like olives, but between the brine and the bright bites of parsley that I harvested from our herb garden (already!? I know!!), it was my favorite pasta sauce ever.

Pasta Puttanesca (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook)

  • 1 box whole-wheat angel hair pasta, cooked according to directions
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves garlic (I only had dried garlic so I did my best)
  • 1 t red pepper flakes
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 C black olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 C minced fresh parsley
  • 1 T capers (optional–I didn’t have them)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to directions on box.

Over medium heat, saute the garlic in the olive oil.  Before it starts to brown, add the olives, red pepper flakes, and tomatoes.  Let the sauce simmer until it begins to thicken, then add the parsley.  Flavor with salt and pepper to taste.

Dinner was conceptualized and on the table in less than 20 minutes, including picture time.  Love when that happens.

Light and fresh is really the best way to describe this meal.  Sprinkle some fresh parsley on top for a springtime finish.  We also added a dash of grated parmesan cheese–serious yum.  Fritz did wish that he had some chicken in there.  Sometimes I forget that there are other people in this household who crave meat in their meals–sorry Fritz.  It’s an easy addition for next time, though.

Fritz and I are watching a movie called Creation about Charles Darwin’s life.  I strongly recommend it, even to those of you out there who aren’t giant nerds.  And especially those of you who are (Mom!).

5 Comments

Filed under Entrees, Vegetarian

Whole-Wheat Banana Marble Cake

There comes a time in every woman’s life when her grocery budget for the month runs out.

For me, that time was two weeks ago.  There’s still a ton of food in the pantry (whole-wheat pasta, beans, lentils, canned tomatoes, almonds) and the freezer (frozen pesto, pork chops, strawberries and mangos, and a loaf of whole-wheat bread), but we are seriously lacking in fresh veggies.  I made myself promise this time that I wouldn’t cheat and use next month’s cash because that’s what I usually do…and that’s why I’m stuck in a cycle of always running low at the end of the month.

But we do need vegetables. 

But I also can’t be trusted in a fresh produce section without going way overboard (so many exciting possibilities!), so after discussing the issue at length with my friend Lola, we decided it would be best for me to grab a few cheap packages of frozen vegetables and just make it work until April finally rolls around.

Nicely enough, Waldbaum’s had a 10 for $10 sale on frozen vegetables, but it even happened to be the good kind.  The steam-in-its-own-bag kind.  And they had some great mixes (such as Asian veggie mix) that were actually included for once.  So only $10 into next month’s budget, I’m a pretty happy camper.

And luckily I always have baking supplies in stock, so as per Fritz’s request for a sweet snack, I decided to bake a cake.  One that’s as healthy as you can get while still remaining cake-like.

Whole-Wheat Banana Marble Cake (adapted from Blue Ribbon USA)

  • 1 C sugar
  • 1/2 (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 C mashed ripe bananas (I used three bananas)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 C whole-wheat flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting the top (optional)

Tharrie (Fritz’s mom) gave me this cookbook a year or so ago and until now I hadn’t made anything from it.  It’s a book containing State Fair blue-ribbon winning recipes from  the 50 states.  Since my first try of a recipe from this book came out so well, I’ve got my eye on a few more I’d like to try.  This cake came from good ol’ West Virginia.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×9″ square pan (you could use a round one too, if you like).

Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixer for two minutes or until fluffy.  Add the vanilla, egg, and banana and mix until well combined.  While the mixer is running, slowly add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flour and mix until no lumps remain–scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice to make sure you have everything in there.

Take out half of the batter and set aside.  To the remaining half, add the cocoa powder and mix again until combined.  Scrape the sides down once more to make sure all of the chocolate half is, well…chocolate.

Drop spoonfuls of the plain banana half into the greased pan, leaving spaces between for the chocolate batter.  Add the chocolate batter in spoonfuls, then swirl the two colors together using a knife.  Be careful not to overswirl, or instead of marbled you’ll just have a mess.

It doesn’t have to be perfect, though.

Bake on the middle rack in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out with a few crumbs clinging to it (when baking a cake, by the time a toothpick comes out dry, so will your cake!).  Cool on a baking rack and dust with confectioners’ sugar, if you like.

I did.

Enjoy!  The sweetness of the bananas come through nice and strong, and despite the whole-wheat flour it still tastes like cake and not banana bread.  The cocoa swirled through and the sugar on top really make this a perfect dessert that’s not too decadent.

Not that I’m against decadence by any means.  Sometimes I just like to have my cake and eat it too, without feeling guilty or weighed down by frosting.

I’m sure you can guess that Fritz was a fan.  He had his with a scoop of butter pecan ice cream he has squirreled away in the freezer (I hate nut-flavored ice cream, so it’s safe from me), and proclaimed the cake, “really flavorful–banana bread and sweet cake combined.” 

And Henry?

Well, he was busy catching up on the season finale of Jersey Shore. 

I think we were all ready for Sammi and Ronnie to just break up already.

Jeez!

1 Comment

Filed under Desserts

Multigrain Bread

Seeing the footage from Japan really puts our lives in perspective, doesn’t it?

Suddenly studying doesn’t seem so bad anymore.  Even better that I have an apartment to do it in, and I know where all my family members are–and there is fresh bread to eat.

I baked this bread over the weekend, and it has held me over for the last few days when I need a quick carb pick-me-up (and it tastes amazing, really amazing with a rooibos tea spread that I bought at Wegman’s a while ago).  Between that and the sun finally coming out, I might be able to muster up enough energy to get going on the last few midterms I need to study for.

This recipe is from Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads, and I chose it simply because I was impressed by the sheer amount of whole grain he managed to cram into it.  It makes three loaves, and it is absolutely perfect to toast and eat with peanut butter, rooibos tea spread, butter, bananas, honey, mint jelly, eggs, and blackberry jam.  I know because I’ve tried it all.

Multigrain Bread (three loaves)

  • 1 C rolled oats
  • 1 C barley flour (you can grind your own)
  • 1 C millet
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 2 t salt
  • 2 C hot water (120-130 degrees)
  • 1/3 C canola oil
  • 3 packages dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 C mashed potatoes (yes, really)
  • 2 C whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 C rye flour
  • 2 C all-purpose flour

Line three (or two if you want really tall loaves) loaf pans with wax paper, and grease them.  Make the mashed potatoes or better yet use up leftovers (plain–no butter or sour cream, please).

In the mixer bowl, measure the oats, barley flour, millet, brown sugar, and salt.  Pour in the hot water and canola oil and mix.  Add the yeast and allow it to dissolve in the liquid before adding the mashed potatoes.

Next, add the whole-wheat and rye flours, and mix for two minutes with the flat beater.  Change over to the dough hook.  While the mixer is running, add the all-purpose flour 1/2 C at a time until the dough forms a “shaggy mass”, pulling away from the sides of the bowl.  Once it is all added, if the dough remains sticky you can add sprinkles of flour, but don’t go overboard.  Knead the dough (using the dough hook) for eight minutes.

Place the dough into a large, greased bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and leave at room temperature until it has doubled in size (about 1 1/2 hours).

A seriously large bowl.  I had to switch to a bigger one because I didn’t anticipate the dough rising this much.

Turn the dough onto a floured table and shape it into three loaves.  Place into the pans, cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel, and let it rise again (another hour).  When you have twenty minutes left to rise, pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Bake on the middle rack until browned, about 45 minutes.  Turn out one of the loaves and tap on the bottom–if it sounds hollow, then they’re done.

Allow them to cool before slicing.  If you can.

The absolute best part about this bread (other than the yeasty fresh-bread taste, obviously) is that the millet gives each slice an amazing crunch.  Totally unexpected.

Best thing since…well.

I kept one loaf out and froze the others.  Just wrap in plastic wrap and/or freezer bags first.  When you take them out, make sure you allow the bread to reabsorb any water that forms inside the bag before you start slicing it and toasting it, otherwise you’ll have a really dry sandwich.

Fritz is presenting his research today in San Diego–I wish I was there too, but at least the sun managed to break out from the clouds here so I’m not missing out on all the fun.

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Filed under Breads