30 September 2008

Comfort Lunch

This isn't exactly an original recipe, just another variation on an old favorite, but it's getting firmly into fall weather here in the northeast, and I wanted something warm and sweet. So: Cinnamon-Toasted Peanut Butter & Banana Sandwich!

It's a recipe that you can happily customize--I made it using two different kinds of chocolate on different days.

The basic elements are (for one sandwich):
--2 slices bread (this would be amazing on cinnamon bread, I'll bet)
--1 ripe banana
--peanut butter
--1 tbsp chocolate chips or small chocolate chunks
--1/2 tbsp sugar
--1/4 tsp cinnamon
--butter

Steps (accept that your hands will be messy):
1. Heat a skillet to medium/medium-low heat.
2. Butter one side of each slice of bread.
3. Sprinkle buttered sides of bread with mixed sugar and cinnamon.
4. Spread peanut butter on the bare side of each slice of bread. Put one slice butter/cinnamon-sugar-side down in skillet.
5. Slice banana in half, then slice each half into 2-3 pieces (lengthwise). Arrange on peanut butter side of the bread in the skillet.
6. Sprinkle the chocolate bits over the banana. Top with the other slice of bread, peanut-butter side down.
7. When bottom of sandwich is caramelized (but not burnt!), flip, and caramelize the other side.
8. Enjoy!

If you like things sweet, try milk chocolate, and if you like a really robust chocolate experience, try bittersweet chips. I used Ghirardelli milk and bittersweet, and both turned out deliciously.

While it's certainly nothing like health food, this is a really robust snack/lunch/breakfast that will sustain you. The peanut butter provides great protein, bananas are full of goodness, and the cinnamon-sugar adds a nice sweetness and crunch without being overkill.

I'm certain I'll play with this one again, possibly with almond butter (something I've always wanted to try but haven't yet) and different additions. Like cinnamon chips, or raisins, maybe.

22 September 2008

DIY One-Serving Microwave Popcorn

I'm as susceptible as the next person to the lure of popcorn, but the pre-packaged microwaved stuff just chafes at me in terms of price/quantity/the fact that the "100 Calorie" packs of Kettle Corn have bleeding fake sugar in them. (I am absolutely in favor of requiring all things with artificial sweeteners--and no, Splenda, you are not exempt because you're "made from" sugar--to be labeled across the front in big, bright labels, that such is the case.) (I can live and let live with a lot of things, but...man. Me and fake sugar = pistols at dawn all the way.)

So. I found me an internet tutorial (as y'do), the necessary supplies, and I did science to my popcorns. I followed the tutorial under the following conditions:

--I used a cappuchino-style mug, so as to have more room for tasty goodness
--I used peanut oil (just FYI)
--I lived dangerously and put both salt and sugar on the unpopped kernels (this worked okay, though maybe if I were feeling more ambitious, next time I would cook the sugar with a little butter/oil first, so it dissolves, because the sugar grains really mostly stuck to the sides of the mug, but then I could just rub the kernels over it as I ate, so it worked, sort of)
--Do make sure all four corners of your paper towel are battened down so that you don't have escapees

But: success! Tasty, smart-quantity snack. Give it a try! I'll be experimenting with seasonings and oils as life allows--I'm thinking I have to try a smidge of sesame oil in there, maybe with five-spice.

20 September 2008

Captain America Cookies

Okay, so I really think Captain America (you know, Marvel superhero) is kind of a tool, but today is a birthday party for the delightful proprietor of Charging Star Comics, and I said I'd make some cookies.
The dough base is Alton Brown's Sugar Cookie dough. I added 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder to 1/3 of the dough for the Bat-Cookies. Cap's shields are decorated with royal icing that was thinned with skim milk (I dipped the cookie stars in white and the rounds in red) and very slightly thinned icing in blue and white was then piped on to finish them. The Bat-Cookies are drizzled with semi-sweet chocolate.

There was a bit of bento this week, though this is the only one that was worth taking a photo of:
Tuesday's lunch, test-driving some lotus root. You can see the rounds on the bottom tier (cut in half and stood on end) with the onigiri, carrots, snow peas, and stir-fried chicken bits. Top tier holds more of the veg, plus tomatoes, some broccoli, dried mango, dried plums, a mocha cupcake, and a little container of butter (atop a similar one of jelly) for my Kavli crispbreads that are not pictured.

The lotus root was a decent addition to the lunch, though I think next time I will cook it at a higher heat for a shorter time. I do like the way it looks a lot, though I'm still working on finding a good way to showcase that while still making optimum use of the space available.

15 September 2008

Catch-All

Lots of bits and bobs here, as it's been a while since I updated. Silly graduate school.

Actual content from tonight--I found some vacuum-packed boiled lotus root at Kim's last week, and I'd been wanting to try it for a while, and I haven't been able to find fresh lotus root locally, so I picked up a package. First, I drained all of it and put a cookie-sheet's worth to freeze and be portioned up for bento, and what was left over (about 9 rounds), I tried Jugalbandi's baked lotus root chips. The guide doesn't mention oil type, and I'll say this--don't use olive oil. I think the flavor's too heavy for the lotus root, and next time I'll do something a little more adventurous with the spices. I went to my go-to potato favorites: chile powder and cumin. Something lighter all around would likely be better--peanut oil, maybe five-spice. Well...if those flavors aren't exactly lighter, at least they're not what I always do with my oven-fried starchy veg. It's not to say that what I have isn't tasty--it is, and they seem to be better at room temperature than potatoes made in the same way.

Expect to see some lotus root appearing in the bento soon, too.

And with regard to bento: I've been pretty lackluster about them lately. Let's call this the highlights reel, and anything not pictured is really better that way.

Two from last week:
The usual suspects for veg, plus three mini-onigiri with sesame seeds, tiny chicken karaage bites, honey mustard sauce for dipping, a little square of homemade fudge, pomegranate arils, and a little cup of brie topped with almonds and honey for the Kavli crispbread that is not pictured. That stuff makes the best working breakfast, but it really does need a tasty topping of some kind.Again, the veg and brie and pomegranate arils, this time accompanied by dried dates, figs, and plums. Bottom tier is chicken and veggie fried rice. I think, with this one, if I had just had a wee bit of egg to chuck in it, it would have tasted like fried rice ought.
And this was today's: carrots, sunsugar tomatoes, dried plums and dates, a container of mango, and a mini mocha cupcake on the top. Bottom holds onigiri (one mixed-rice with sesame seeds and bonito flakes, the other two topped with shiso furikake and sesame seeds), with broccoli and carrots. I like the flavor of the shiso furikake, and I like that it gives me the option of turning rice a very robust pink if I were to mix it into the rice, but there is MSG in this furikake, and I am sometimes sensitive to it. I'll have to use this one pretty sparingly, I think, but I'm glad to have found it.
And this is a view of the cupcakes, one regular, one mini. They're coffee cupcakes (my favorite cupcake recipe in the world-the cake part is moist and fluffy and delicious) with this chocolate ganache frosting, courtesy of the genius that is the now-retired Cupcake Bakeshop. I made them for a grad student get-together, and, per usual, a few sweet-toothed persons zeroed in on them and loved them, while the cheese-and-crackers crowd sipped their wine and were generally undessert-ish. Pfft. Left more of my good friend's delicious chocolate cream pie (with gingersnap crust!) for moi.

08 September 2008

I live!

Well. Sort of, I guess. Exam is finished. Now just the nail-biting and nausea until I find out the result (and I have no idea how long that will be). But below you can see the kind of carnage that my desk area was at the end of the draft. ...I wish I could say it didn't still look like that, but then I'd be lying.
Couple of bentos to post, though, from last week. Nothing spectacular, but they got me through the end of the week. Friday's was actually quite tasty, and I'm sad I forgot to take a picture of it.

Bento below is today's bento: sunflower seed bagel pieces and tahini to dip them in, carrots, sunsugar tomatoes (honestly, the garden keeps giving them, so I'll keep eating them), snow peas, dried plum/fig/date trio, and two candies.

This was Thursday's. ...Thursday was kind of a failure as a day, all the way around, but the mango and the avocado maki helped. Also some carrot maki, carrots, sunsugar tomatoes, dried plums, a little bite of brownie, and a cup of chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, and cashews.And Wednesday's bento was a group of successes and failures. Success: the carrot log-cabin-style corral I was building. Failure: too many edamame , and one side of it collapsed, and it's no longer pretty. Success: sesame seed star designs on the onigiri. Failure: being fairly sick of broccoli, but still having it in my lunch. And the meat is from 3 barbeque chicken wings, so that was good.

My Vigdis is actually paddling along--I just need to put on the collar, the other button band (with button holes...alas), get some buttons, and hope it's not as sack-like as it seems when looking down at oneself. Really. It looks ginormous. But it is supposed to be a cozy snug thing, and I should try it on while I'm wearing real clothing, not pyjamas.

04 September 2008

It's been a few days...

...and alas, it shall be a few days more.

I'm caught in a grad school Scylla & Charybdis, and will be there until at least Monday. So, sadly, there will be no food-blogging until then. Unless I take pictures of my exam snacks, which won't be cute or interesting at all. They will likely be whatever I can eat while still typing.

In the meantime: a technical question or two. 1) Is there any way to properly "reply" to Blogger comments? I mean, I can always post a comment that is a response, but I can't seem to figure out how to reply to someone without them having to check back at the post for a response.

2) Has anyone tried to make an RSS feed of their Blogger account to Livejournal? And if so, how does one make the date correspond properly? (The RSS validators that I've used tell me the date is not compatible as-is, and I scrolled through the date/timestamps available on Blogger, and I can't find a way to fix the problem. Any help would be vastly appreciated.