Batter Licker

March 21, 2012

cherry-studded banana bran whole grain muffins

I recently started setting up a sort of brown banana renewal system. I’ll buy a few super green ones and a few yellow ones each week, and then find myself with a consistent supply of brown, spotted mushiness that is sufficient for my peanut butter shake and green smoothie purposes.

It was all working out swimmingly until I got tempted by the very cheap, very large bunch of jet-sized bananas at Costco. Suddenly, I had a serious overflow problem.

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The first resolution that came to mind was banana bread, which would also conveniently free up some precious space in my overstuffed pantry. Okay, maybe it was actually equal parts resolution and excuse to fill my apartment with the fragrant aroma of freshly baked banana bread.

Either way, I wanted to make a more portable, healthful, whole grain, breakfast-appropriate version. (more…)

July 20, 2011

grilled watermelon (and goat cheese salad)

By the time Wednesday rolls around, I’m halfway through my weekday routine: work, exercise, make dinner, dine, chat with Jay about our days, sleep. Sometimes I celebrate the consistency and intensity of my workouts that week. Other times I am just relieved to have heaped some unpackaged, ingredients-based bowl full of “dinner” on the table for a third day in a row. And still other times I find myself in a mid-week rut, overloaded with work but itching for some fun … or yet another weekend.

Last week, I fell squarely in this last category. But I managed to pull myself up by lugging a small-ish watermelon out of the kitchen and plopping it onto an outdoor grill. Thank you, Mark Bittman, for the timely inspiration.

February 18, 2011

toasted steel-cut oatmeal with dried cherries, apricots and walnuts

Valentine’s Day is supposed to be a day to celebrate love. But showing loved ones you care needn’t mean showering them with chocolate, roses, and other pink and red items. (Not that I’d object to any of those, so long as those chocolate truffles aren’t Walgreens-quality.) And Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be the only day you tell the loved ones in your life – from family to friends to fiancées – how much you treasure them.

To me, the most meaningful way to show your appreciation is through little gestures or actions throughout each day. A kiss on the forehead of your still-sleeping significant other on your way out the door to work; a phone call to your grandmother when you know winter weather is keeping her unbearably housebound; bringing Blue Bottle coffee to a friend who is stuck at work on a gorgeous Saturday morning. And taking the time to make steel-cut oatmeal for anyone, even just yourself, for breakfast.

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Jay’s uncle Andy first introduced us to steel-cut oatmeal a couple years ago when we visited Chicago for Jay’s cousin’s bar mitzvah. When Andy heated up the pan to prepare the oatmeal, I had no idea that the breakfast in store for me would be nothing like the gloppy, gluey oatmeal I had grown up with. Rather, these oats had a delightful, slightly chewy texture, and were comfortingly warm and filling on that particularly cold, gray and rainy morning. Yes, the steel-cut oats took a longer time to cook, but the wait was entirely worth it.

While I have enjoyed many bowls since then, it wasn’t until last Spring, when I purchased Kim Boyce’s incredible cookbook on whole grain baking, that I ever thought to toast the oats before submerging them in water. I can’t imagine why I never thought to try this, as I’ve toasted everything else from nuts and spices to rice and farro. But I can now say that if you’re taking the time to make steel-cut oatmeal in the first place, you absolutely must take the couple extra minutes to pre-toast the oat grains. Like many other toasted foods, it lends such a wonderfully nutty, condensed flavor to the oatmeal that you might just eat it without adornments.


May 11, 2010

grape, feta, and walnut salad with lemon-mint vinaigrette

Filed under: fruit,salad,sauces, marinades, dressings — Tags: , , , , , — Kristen @ 3:08 pm

Sometimes, when it’s hot out, I want a salad. And not just the boring old lettuce-cucumber-tomato-onion salad that I keep on permanent standby. But something a little more interesting, preferably with less chopping involved.

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Yes, you heard me correctly. Sometimes, I don’t feel like chopping things. Like right now. It’s hot out, okay? And I just finished doing 70 push-ups at Bar Method. My arms are toast – even when it comes to holding my favorite chef’s knife. But a teeny little paring knife? That, I can manage, as long as it’s brief.

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This week, I had procured perfectly plump purple grapes (how’s that for alliteration?) that begged me to use them in this better-than-lettuce salad. So I quickly halved two handfuls of grapes, stirred in some feta (always in my refrigerator) for a creamy saltiness that would balance the sweetness of the grapes. Then, I added chopped toasted walnuts (always in my freezer – they stay fresher longer that way) and whisked up a quickie lemon-mint vinaigrette with a touch of agave nectar’s sweetness to tone down the sour lemon juice, and there you have it. A perfect salty-sweet and creamy-crunchy lunch or side dish that you can throw together in advance (to let it marinate) or on the spot (still delicious). (more…)

April 2, 2010

super-moist banana bread with cinnamon-walnut-brown sugar topping

Filed under: cake,dessert,fruit — Tags: , , , , — Kristen @ 6:35 pm

Dear Mushy Brown Bananas,
I’ll be frank. I really don’t like you. From your squishy slimy texture to your sickly sweet stench, just looking at you makes me wretch. You have to admit that you’ve seen better days – you know, back when you were green and hard and chilled and preferably consumed in a smoothie containing berries, kale and almond milk. But those times passed exceedingly fast, as you faded to yellow and then to a spotty brown, and your once-perky flesh declined into a bruised smush. And then, just as I was ready to drop you into the compost can with one hand while pinching my nose with the other, something amazing happened.

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Your smooshy self secretly conspired with brown sugar, cinnamon, olive oil, flour and a handful of other baking goodies, and together you launched a coup d’état against the forced retirement of icky brown bananas. The group of you took control of the kitchen, coming together in a harmonious, moist, dense little loaf that I immediately found irresistible.

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So here it is, Mushy Brown Banana: you win. (more…)

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