Archive for ‘Snacks, etc.’

January 7, 2012

3-Minute Banana Bread or Carrot Cake (Single-serving)

by horseradishsauce

First post-Iraq post!

Today is one of those days where I was planning to go to the gym earlier so I didn’t make lunch—but then I ate a bunch of gummy bears and shopped for furniture online and now it’s 1310 and I need to go buy a mattress. Well, now I want food before I go shopping. I am also procrastinating because I hate shopping for anything.

I went into my kitchen and spotted a brown, overripe banana. If I hadn’t eaten all my oatmeal, I would make oatmeal with a banana and walnuts. Instead, I decided to make a banana and walnut mash of goodness. But no, wait! How about banana bread?! Banana bread it is.

I know everyone’s been posting microwave single-serving desserts for a while now. I think it’s funny everyone “just” discovered that you can make baked things in the microwave. Perhaps they were never up late procrastinating  studying for finals.

This is a quick, sloppy banana bread recipe for the lazy or those in a hurry.

What you need:

  • 1 very ripe banana
  • a handful of walnuts (shelled of course. Unless you like to eat the shells.)
  • about 2 1/2 tblsp whole wheat flour
  • maybe 1/4 tsp baking soda or less.
  • about 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • two dashes of nutmeg
  • two dashes of allspice
  • about 1/2 cup of water
  • a bowl
  • a fork
  • a microwave

Peel the banana. Put it in the bowl and mash it up. Crumble the walnuts and put them in. Add the dry ingredients. Pour in enough water to make it a little wetter than cookie dough and more viscous than normal banana bread batter.

Cook it in the microwave for 2 minutes. It will be sticky at that point, but I like my banana bread sticky, so I went no further.

Now it’s time to buy a mattress.

I've been eating oatmeal in this bowl for the past 5 days without washing it. Mmmm

It may not look particularly appetizing--but it's a single serving. Nobody's judging your skillz here.

P.S. I made carrot cake the next day.

5-Minute Carrot Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 carrots
  • 3 tblsp Whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tblsp molasses
  • 1 tblsp honey
  • about 1/2 cup water
  • a handful of walnuts, crumbled

Shred the carrots. Mix the dry ingredients. Mix in the water, molasses and honey. Mix in the carrots and walnuts. Cook for 3 minutes. Consume.


April 3, 2011

Homemade Popcorn (“Be Very Alarmed”)

by cillefish

homemade popcornI haven’t been attempting much on the wild and crazy wannabe-gourmet side of things lately, though I’ve definitely been wanting to try this braided sweetbread with lemon-cream-cheese filling. What I have been doing: writing time-consuming stuff about gendered religious communications for medieval female ascetes (somehow I remember my writing in college involving so many fewer leaps of logic…)

Anyway, that leaves little time for out-of-the-box cooking stuff, so my most novel achievement recently is …homemade popcorn. No, really.

I’ve avoided the in-a-bag microwaved stuff for years, ever since one of my college roommates introduced me to the wonders of the for-real popcorn she used to make in one of the contraptions pictured at right.

popcorn makerI don’t have one of those and I don’t like burning stuff, or setting stuff on fire, or burning me, or creating difficult-to-remove residues on the bottoms of other people’s cookware. So I’ve been avoiding attempting it.

Newsflash: homemade popcorn is obscenely easy (and generally a lot better for you than the microwaved junk).

Homemade Popcorn

What you need:

  • 1 wide, medium or large, lidded stock pot
  • 2-3 Tbsp vegetable oil (olive oil is more healthful, but the flavor is different)
  • 1/2 c popping corn
  • 2 small potholders
  • 1/4 c – 1/2 c butter (1/2 to 1 stick) or vegan butter chopped up, sitting on its paper (I use 1/4 cup because I like real butter but don’t like things greasy. You can use vegetable oil if you want, but it doesn’t soak up quite as well)
  • Seasoning: I usually use 1/2 c Parmesan cheese, a pinch of Cayenne (red) pepper, & 1-2 tsp Italian seasoning (see below for other flavorings). I don’t add salt since the cheese has some saltiness to it.

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September 14, 2010

Best Pesto – Sweet Basil Pesto “Tapenade”

by cillefish

pesto on whole-wheat penneThis is a recipe for a “sweet basil pesto tapenade,” but I use it as a normal pesto paired with whole-wheat pasta (the fresh kind, if you can find it). The flavor is FANTASTIC, one notch above everyday normal pesto, but like normal pesto it’s absurdly easy (and, if you’ve got sweet Italian basil growing in your garden, pretty darned cheap). The maple syrup gives it some nice mellow notes, but the flavor’s also bold enough that, paired with good pasta and a little Parmesan cheese (ok, maybe a simple salad on the side), this is more than sufficient for a good dinner.

Use a little more olive oil and a little less walnut to make it more pasta-pesto; use the given amounts to make it a tapenade for putting on pesto pizza, sandwiches, or those fancy little toasts (whose name escapes me at the moment). I hear it’s also great on roasted squash.

I’ve tried this with Thai basil as well instead of the standard Italian sweet kind, and it’s a little less perfect but still pretty tasty. You can toast the walnuts before you mince them for a mellower taste, but I think the bit of tang from fresh walnuts works better with the lemon and the maple.

I’ve had a nice dinner with this and artichokes roasted on a barbecue, with salad dressing for dipping the artichokes.

Sweet Basil Pesto (Tapenade)

source: The Veganomicon
prep time: under 10 min

  • 3 c fresh basil leaves, tightly packed
  • 1 c walnut pieces or halves
  • 2-4 cloves garlic (for a much mellower taste, brush cloves with olive oil and roast in 200° F oven for a few min)
  • 1/3 c extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 c walnut oil (or just more olive oil – I never have walnut oil around. Peanut oil is a little weird here)
  • 1/3 c pure maple syrup (or water and brown sugar mixed to what you’d guess to be a similar sweetness level)
  • 1 tsp grated fresh lemon zest (or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon lemon juice)
  • optional: grated Parmesan cheese (you may use less walnut if you want more Parmesan. Trader Joe’s has some really great stuff, both pre-grated and not)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • black pepper

Chop the basil, garlic, and most of the walnuts in food processor until chunky, stopping often to scrape the sides. Add oil(s), syrup, and lemon zest or juice. Add Parmesan as you like, and process until thick and creamy, adding more or all of the walnuts to get the texture you want. Season to taste. Can be stored in a glass jar with a thin layer of olive oil on top (to prevent oxygenation) until ready to serve. MUCH BETTER FRESH.

September 6, 2010

Cranberry-Walnut Apple Bagels (and tips for better bagel dough)

by cillefish

I made some more homemade bagels (recipe here), this time adding:

  • 1 smallish (fuji-sized) Gala apple, cored, peeled** and minced
  • 1/3 cup dried sweetened cranberries, chopped up a bit
  • 1/3-1/2 cup walnuts, chopped up so the largest bits are about 1/2- to whole-peppercorn size, max.
  • most of a 1/4 tsp measure of each: cardamom and ground powdered/dried ginger.
  • 5 or so good strokes on the nutmeg-grater of fresh nutmeg, or a SMALL pinch of the pre-ground stuff (but you should get a nutmeg grater and do it yourself because the flavor is WAY better)

These are SO GOOD with butter and honey on them. Great on their own, too; the spices are barely-there, which is good; you could add more if you want, but I think they’ll be a bit obtrusive if you push it.

I came across a few recipes that added a little bit of sugar to the boiling water, so I tried that. The sugar perhaps helps give the bagels a bit more of that slightly-shiny, crusty outside, but the effect wasn’t extremely noticeable.

Notes and Tips on the Dough

I was thinking the extra ingredients would require me to add more water than the 1 1/4 cup I used last time, but I think because the apple and cranberry both carry some moisture (the nuts do, too), it actually requires LESS. I threw in the whole 1 1/2 cup of warm water, and it was way too much. I had to add in almost a half cup of flour, plus maybe 1/2 tsp of vegetable oil to get things back to a relatively-ok consistency.

My issues with the dough this time around reminded me that if you don’t know what good bagel dough is SUPPOSED to look like, getting it right can be a little tricky if you’re used to making other breadlike things that tend to be spongier. My instinct is always to make the bagel dough too wet. RESIST.

It is too wet if it’s sticking to your hands, and way too wet if it’s wanting to STAY stuck to your hands or develop a buildup on them, and makes noisy sucking sounds when you pull your knuckles out of it as you knead. It should barely be a little stick-ish, but should have a polite attitude about it: “you know I’d like to stick to your hands, but I’m too well-bred to do that, and because I’m such a good dough, you can knead me quickly and assertively, and I won’t even stick to your Pyrex bowl.”

Good bagel dough should be dense and stretchy:

…and definitely more dry than sticky, and barely a little shiny once it’s been kneaded fully:

* The photo at the top is of someone else’s cranberry-only homemade bagels, but they look pretty close to mine (mine were a little pinker because of the bit of spices and because the walnuts darkened the flour a bit). Mine got eaten up too fast for me to photograph.

** I peel it with a knife and eat the peel because it’s good for me, and because my landlord stopped letting us put greenwaste in his garden.