Roasted Tomatillo Pepper Salsa

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Justin likes to call posts like this my “Night Time Cooking Series.”  AKA my “Shit Light Set Up Series.”  I usually get the desire to bake or cook at about 10 or 11 at night.  That’s usually when the sun has long stopped being out and I’m too lazy to get out my umbrella light.  But not too lazy to make a batch of granola, banana bread, and salsa.  I know, I’m weird.

Anyway, tomatillos are in abundance at the farmer’s market so Justin has been bringing them home every weekend.  I had never made tomatillo salsa before this summer and now I love the stuff.  I put peppers in it because I have a hard time not putting peppers in things.

I like to keep this salsa really simple because the tomatillo has such a unique and complex flavor that you don’t want to mask.  At least I don’t.  There are other recipes that put coriander and cumin and green onion and chili peppers and oregano and other such nonsense in their salsas.  This salsa is about honoring the flavor of the tomatillo.

Recipe:

5 Tomatillos (broiled)
2 medium peppers (broiled, I’m using 3 small)
1/2 lime (juice)
1/2 red onion (broiled)
1 garlic clove (broiled)
1 tbsp cilantro (dried)
salt to taste

Optional:

1 Jalapeno or 1 serrano (broiled)

Turn on your broiler.  You can either broil these, roast them in the oven, or roast them on the stove top.  Some recipes tell you to boil the tomatillo, I wouldn’t do this.  You’re going to lose a lot of your flavor in the water that way and it mellows the flavor of the tomatillo.

Why would you do that?

You can also do everything raw, but roasting unlocks a depth of flavor that you wouldn’t experience otherwise.  Up to you.  Sometimes I have my red salsas raw, but a tomatillo is special, you should treat it as such.  If you do decide to have it raw, the salsa will be a lot more citrusy and you may want to forego the lime juice.

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Remove the husk from your tomatillos and wash.  Cut them in half along with your peppers.  Leave your garlic clove intact.

The purple peppers you see in the background, while they look fancy are nothing that special.  Their taste is similar to that of a green pepper and when they cook they turn an off white color.  Still, they’re pretty and fun to use from time to time.  If you get one that’s a merlot color then that will taste more like a red pepper.

While you may be tempted to be fancy and get a red or yellow pepper think about it before you do.  Tomatillos are sweet on their own and a red pepper is sweet.  If you want a very sweet salsa then this may be a good choice for you.  But the slight bitterness of an unripe pepper (read green or light purple in this case) helps to balance out that sweetness.

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Put everything cut side down on a baking sheet cut side down.  No need to oil.  You can lightly salt here.

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Broil for 5-8 minutes, I think I was 7 minutes here.  If you have a lot of numminess stuck on the bottom of your pan you can add your lime juice here to help remove it.  Salting before you broil will help avoid that though because the peppers and tomatillo will release a little bit more water.  Make sure you add this water loss into your blender later.

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Place in a bowl and cover for a couple minutes to let the steam work it’s magic and loosen the skin a bit.

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Add the juice of 1/2 a lime to your blender or processor along with your cilantro.

If you don’t like the taste of cilantro consider trying dried cilantro.  I find fresh cilantro a little over powering in most dishes but I don’t feel that way with dried.  So maybe it’s something you would like if you find yourself hating things with cilantro.

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Peel your garlic.  Add everything to your blender or food processor and blend.  Don’t worry about removing all the charred parts.  They give the salsa a subtle smokey flavor that balances out the acidic nature of the tomatillo.  If you’re worried about cancer then I guess remove the charred parts, but guess what, reading this post is giving you cancer, breathing gives you cancer.  Wake up and live your life and eat the damn charred parts of your tomatillos.  Even if they kill you’ll have died of something else long before…

Decide how smooth or chunky you want it to be.

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Salt to taste and enjoy.  If you want it with some spice add a jalapeno or serrano pepper in with your broiling.  While I love spicy salsas I feel the sweet, sour flavor of the tomatillo lends itself better to a non spicy salsa.

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Chocolate Zucchini Bread

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The base for this recipe is very similar to my banana breads.  So if you make it and wind up liking it you can check those out in the BREAKFAST section.  That being said this is even less sugary than my banana bread recipes.  I’m getting even more off the sugar wagon, not that I was ever really on it.  I guess I looked at it a little too hard sometimes, I don’t know.

I’m not eating much processed sugar these days is what I’m saying, I JUST WANT YOU ALL TO BE AWARE.

I’m kidding.

Yesterday, Justin brought home some summer squashes from the farmer’s market.   Now, I had never had a summer squash before and I barely eat zucchini.  I knew zucchini bread was a thing but  I realized I didn’t know exactly what he had brought home.

After some googling it turns out he brought home 1 zucchini, 1, crookneck, and 1 straightneck.

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So what’s the difference?  It turns out not much of anything.  They’re used completely interchangeably in recipes and all that really differs is the color.  All are called summer squashes and they’re picked while still immature so their seeds and skins are still edible.  The only difference seems to be is yellows tend to have more seeds the larger they are, so look for small ones.

So short story shorter, don’t worry about what kind of summer squash you have, no one will be able to tell the difference anyway.

On to the recipe!

Recipe: (baking time: 1 hour) 

1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp instant espresso powder
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
2 cups summer squash (3 small ones)
1 tbsp chocolate chips

Preheat oven 350°

Sift or whisk together your flours, baking powder/soda, salt, and cocoa powder.

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In a large mixing bowl add your applesauce, sugars, espresso powder, and vanilla.

I usually use multiple kinds of sugar in my baking, I feel you get a better product that way.  Brown sugar makes it moist while white sugar gives it that firmer top at the end.  Granted we’re not adding that much but the idea is there.  If you want more of the effect add 1/4 cup of each, the rest of the recipe should be fine, you made need to add a tbsp or 2 of liquid at the end.

The instant espresso is optional, it just intensifies the chocolate flavor.

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Grate your squashes.

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Because these guys contain a lot of excess water you may want to strain them.  You don’t need them to be completely dry just squeeze the clump with your hand or something, just to get most of the liquid out.

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Add an egg to your sugar/applesauce mix and whisk until just combined.

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Now you’re going to add your flours and squash mix in chunks.

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You don’t need to stir thoroughly in between each addition.

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It’s kind of like a souffle mixing action.

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End with a squash addition.

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End result should be pour-able but not liquidy, thicker than a traditional cake batter.

Taste it!  If it’s not sugary enough for you consider sprinkling a tbsp or 2 of sugar after you put it in your pan.  I’m trying to lower my sugar desires and I found that was a good way to transition.

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Add a tbsp of chocolate chips if you want and bake in your 350° for 1 hour or until a tester comes out clean.

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Let it cool.  Give it at least 20 minutes or the poor thing with fall apart on you.

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Bread like this keeps for a day or two on the counter and up to a week in the fridge.

Enjoy!

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Chocolate Spelt Pancakes

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It’s fun buying a spiffy, tiny bag of a different grain you’ve never used before.  I’ve bought spelt flour before, but I’m just saying it’s fun if you haven’t.  Who am I kidding?  It’s fun even if you have.  I try and avoid the baking aisle at Whole Foods and stores of that nature because all those bags of flour are just too tempting  I can’t resist them.  They just look so fancy!  Oh and the packaging, they get me every time with the packaging.

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They’re just so pretty  I can’t handle it.

But then I remember I have no money for superfluous flour and I get a sad.

But then I remember that I had indulged in my flour desires a couple months ago and there is a bag of spelt flour in my pantry with 1 cup in it and that is exactly how much I need to make some spelt pancakes.

On to the pancakes!

Because I only had 1 cup of spelt flour I decided to add almond meal to this, which then made me want to add greek yogurt to up the protein factor even more.

Hey, look at me!  I got the Nutrition Facts thing going!

Recipe: (makes about 12 pancakes)  NutritionLabel

1 cup spelt flour
1/2 cup almond (raw, ground)
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp ginger powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 egg
1 egg white
1/2 cup Greek Yogurt (I use 0%)
1 cup almond milk

Blend or process your almonds.  The 1/2 cup measurement was taken as whole almonds.

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When they start getting a good blend to them go ahead and add your spelt flour, baking powder/soda, salt, ginger/cinnamon, and cocoa powder.  These are a light cocoa flavor.  Feel free to add more if you like.  I don’t know it’s the morning, I don’t want to be smashed in the face with chocolate, even if it is low sugar.

The ginger and cinnamon is optional I just love ginger and cinnamon with cocoa powder and they’re all supposed to be good for digestion so why not eat them all together.

Spelt is also a lower gluten flour so it should be good for people with gluten sensitivities (not intolerance of course).  If you don’t have spelt, obviously feel free to substitute it with something else, your liquid needs may change slightly.

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Add your eggs to a bowl.  Remove one egg yolk to a separate bowl and do whatever you want with the other one.

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Add the brown sugar and greek yogurt to the single egg yolk and mix.

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Add your milk to your egg whites and whisk until frothy.

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Frothy.  This step is skippable if you’re in a hurry or lazy, but if you’re either of those why are you making pancakes from scratch?  They do come in a box you know.

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Add your flour mixture to your yogurt mixture.  Usually I don’t stir these two together at this point to make sure I don’t over mix my batter but the almond meal got a little clumpy when I added my milk.  So I would stir these mixtures together at this point.

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Add your milk/egg froth.  Unlike me, you’ll have already mixed in your flour.

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Combine, being careful not to over work your batter.  I unfortunately had to over mix mine because the almond meal locked into tiny clumps.  So it negated the whole egg frothing thing.  Oh well, your pancakes will be better for it.

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Pour out onto lightly oiled or buttered pan.  I usually use butter but I decided to mix it up and use coconut oil.  I think the oil made it harder to regulate the heat in my pan, but I don’t know for certain.

I use a 1/4 cup measuring spoon to ladle the batter out and they’re the perfect size for us.

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I am still not a master pancake flipper.  One day.

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I have a secret to tell.  I may have already divulged this is another pancake post, but I don’t like maple syrup.  Never have.  I like to spread yogurt butter on my pancakes and sometimes when I’m feeling frisky, peanut butter.  And when I’m feeling extra frisky, nutella.

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This stuff.  I realize it’s mostly water and oil, but I love it.

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Justin goes for a semi more traditional route and is topping his with agave nectar.  Enjoy!

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Blueberry Baked Oatmeal

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I actually don’t like eating oatmeal the way it’s intended.  But as soon as you bake it, boy howdy, I can’t seem to get enough of the stuff.  If you like you can turn this into breakfast cookies and take them on the go but it will lose a little bit of its magic because it’s so delicious just out of the oven.

Eat plain or top with some jam, yogurt. or better yet–frozen yogurt, and you have the perfect excuse/vessel to eat frozen dessert in the morning.

Recipe: (baking time 30 minutes)

3 cups oatmeal (old fashion)
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (I use 0%)
1 cup milk (skim is fine)
1 egg
1 egg white
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup blueberries (I use fresh, can use frozen or dried)
1/4 cup pecans (chopped)

Optional toppings:

Honey
Yogurt
Jam
Frozen Yogurt
Ice Cream
Kefir

Preheat oven 350°

Add your milk. eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, greek yogurt, cinnamon (and any other spices you might want) in a bowl.

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And mix until just blended.

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In a separate bowl combine your oats, salt, and baking powder.  If you’re feeling lazy/rebellious you can do it all in one bowl.  I like to make sure my salt/any leaveners are well integrated before I add them to my wet ingredients.

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Add your oats to your wet mixture and combine.  It will be a little soupy at first but in less than a minute the oats should absorb any excess liquid.

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Add your blueberries–I prefer fresh.

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And pecans.  As you can see the oats have absorbed the liquid.  If yours still looks soupy consider adding in an extra tablespoon or two of oats.

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Pour out into lightly greased square baking pan.

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And top with the 1 tbsp honey.  Topping your baked goods with sugar allows you to add less over all, which in time will allow you to enjoy things with less sugar.  Depending on where you are you may need to add more honey but save that for when you’re serving it.

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Bake in 350° oven for 30-35 minutes.  It will look golden and set.

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Top with whatever you like–Justin only wanted it with vanilla frozen yogurt.  🙂

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The yogurt scoop melted off just as I finally got my camera settings right.

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Oh well, enjoy!

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Oh and put whatever fruit/nuts you want.  Here it is with 1 Granny Smith, pecans, and a blend of nutmeg/allspice/cinnamon.  Served with plain Greek yogurt.

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Pineapple Kiwi Salsa

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It’s summertime so it’s time for fruity salsas.  This is a very quick and easy salsa to make if you’re looking for something a little different.  Most fruit salsas are just chopped up chunks of the ingredients thrown together in a bowl.  While that might be good for some people, those types of salsa make me sad and I want them nowhere near my person.  I want my salsa to be thick and full of tomato-y flavor.  If you want just bits of fruit thrown together, I don’t know, make a fruit salad or something.

Recipe:

1 kiwi (chopped)
1 ring pineapple (100 g, chopped)
1 garlic clove (added to blender)
1/2 small red onion (1/2 chopped, 1/2 added to blender)
1 tsp dried cilantro OR 1 tbsp fresh
1 tbsp lime juice
1 red pepper (roasted, chopped)
28 oz can whole tomatoes (1/2 chopped, 1/2 added to blender)
salt to taste (if needed)

Roast your pepper.  You can add it raw to your salsa but I like roasting it because it brings out the flavor more.

If you’re not roasting it on the stove top you can also roast it in the oven.  400° for 30-40 minutes.

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When the skin is blackened all around remove from stove top and place in a covered bowl.

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While your pepper is resting you can chop your pineapple and kiwi.  Add them to a bowl with your lime juice and cilantro.

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After a few minutes the steam accumulated in your pepper bowl will have softened the pepper skin and it will remove easily.  You can either wipe it off or rinse it off.  Dice the pepper and add it to your fruit bowl.

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Deseed your tomatoes.  Is this absolutely necessary?  No.  But the seeds lend to a bitter flavor that can be noticed by some people.  Whether or not your remove them depends on how lazy you’re feeling that day.

I add half of my tomatoes to a blender (with the juice, garlic, and 1/2 my onion) and dice the other half.

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Add your diced tomatoes to your bowl along with your diced onion.

I usually dice half of my onion and blend the other half.  Blending the onion produces a stronger onion flavor over all but then you don’t have as many onion chunks to bite into.  I feel like splitting the difference creates the balance of onion flavor I desire.

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Add your blended tomato.  Because of the sugars in this salsa I don’t feel the need to add anything to make it thicker, but if you do you can add tomato paste (my go to salsa thickener) or arrowroot/corn starch or xanthan gum.

Enjoy!

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Lemon Lavender Blueberry Scones

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These are a lighter version of a scone.  Shocker, I know.  Check out my Apple Cinnamon Scones, which are also lighter if you’d like.  I bought a bottle of Lavender Bitters a while back and while I love adding a dash of it to seltzers I love baking with it even more.  I also made a batch of Lemon Lavender Banana Bread I thought was divine.  I think lemon and lavender are two flavors just begging to be eaten together and find it very hard not to eat one without the other.  I feel like a high society lady who still only wears white before Labor Day when I indulge in them together.

But that’s just me.

It wasn’t until I was writing this blog post that I realized I completely forgot to add egg to this recipe.  They came out perfectly fine, fine enough for me to not notice there wasn’t egg in them anyway.  So there you go, an eggless scone.    If you want to add egg just decrease the amount of buttermilk to about 3/4 cup, but that might throw off your baking soda levels.  Who knows though, it might make them better.

Recipe: (baking time 18-20 minutes)

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
4 tbsp butter (no salt)
1 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp granulated sugar, 1 tbsp granulated sugar for topping
1 tbsp lavender bitters (can also use dried lavender)
zest, juice of 1 lemon (reserve a small amount for topping)
1 cup blueberries (fresh, can use dried or frozen)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven 425°

Whisk or sift together your salt, flours, baking powder/soda.

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Get your buttermilk ready.

If you don’t want to use buttermilk you can do the milk and lemon juice trick and since this recipe already calls for lemon juice you can just use that.  Add the lemon juice to your milk and let it sit for 5 minutes.  But really, buttermilk is tasty and you should use it as much as possible.

Also, if you don’t use buttermilk you’re going to continue dicking with your baking soda levels.

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Get your butter ready.  I make my scones like I make my pies and biscuits so I want my butter to be nice and chilled.  I cut it up and dump it in my milk.  Necessary?  No.  But why not?

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Get your blueberries ready.  You can use dried, but dried blueberries make me sad.

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Zest and juice your lemon.  I just do it into my bowl of blueberries, let them start to soak up some goodness.

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Pull out your butter and mix it into your flour using your fingertips or one of those dough thingies.  Just make sure you leave it clumpy and don’t melt your butter with the heat of your hands.

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Make a little well and pour in your buttermilk, applesauce, and 2 tbsp sugar.  Mix those together in the well.  You can do this in a separate bowl if you like, but why dirty another dish?  When your buttermilk is all mixed you can start to combine it with your flour.

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You have two options with adding your blueberries.  You can either add them with your liquid or you can add them in after your dough comes together.  Neither is right or wrong and both have their draw backs.

If you add your blueberries in with the liquid it’s harder to mix the dough as thoroughly because you’re being careful not to break them.  If you add them in after the dough comes together it’s harder to make sure they’re fully integrated throughout the dough.

That being said I added mine in after my dough came together.

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Dough should be stiff and not sticky.  If it’s sticky considering adding a little more flour.

Pour out dough onto lightly floured parchment paper and separate into two equal portions.

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Shape into 6 inch flat dish (making sure there are no huge gaping holes on top) and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tbsp sugar.  I brush the top with my remaining lemon juice/zest and then sprinkle with the sugar.

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Cut into however many scones you want, I go for eight.

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Bake in a 425° for 18-20 minutes until golden.

Scones should look done on all sides.  If you want the more perfect looking blueberry bits then you have to use dried blueberries.  But as I said before, those make me sad.  Frozen will hold their shape a little better than fresh but I like when some of them burst into the scone.

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Enjoy!

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Black Bean Burrito Burger

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This is a weird name for a dish, I know but bear with me.  I was wanting to make a veggie burger type deal but a lot of the recipes I came across had bread crumbs in them as a binder.  I didn’t want to do that so I just decided to throw together what I had available to me.  The end result tasted more burrito-y than burger-y to me and I only had wraps on hand, hence the name.

This recipe is to show you can pretty much throw any kind of vegetable, bean, and grain/seed into a veggie burger recipe and it probably won’t suck.  Just be open to the resulting outcome.

Recipe: (makes 6, 4 oz patties) 

1 can kidney beans (rinsed, drained)
1 can black beans (rinsed, drained)
1 cup brown rice
1 tomato (diced)
1/4 green pepper (diced)
1 red onion (diced)
3 garlic cloves (diced)
1/2 jalapeno (diced)
1/2 cup corn
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp chili powder

Toppings:

red onion
lettuce
soy cheese
salsa
mango
avocado

Prep all your veggies.  I roasted mine 30 minutes in a 400° oven.  If you’re lazy you could soften them in a pan over medium heat for a few minutes.

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Just until they start to get a good color.  Wait to dice your garlic until after you roast it to prevent it from burning.

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Drain and rinse your beans.  What?!  Canned beans?!  Yes, sometimes I get lazy and give no fucks.

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Mash ’em up.

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Add your cooked rice.

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You could do anything you want here.  Quinoa, cous cous, millet, oats, whatever.

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Now add your roasted veggies.

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And any spices you want.

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Get your fixins ready.  At this stage in my life, a day without avocado and mango is a day not fully realized.

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Because I’m putting these in wraps I made them to fit the shape of a wrap better but you can do whatever you like.

Put a little bit of oil in your pan and cook over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes per side.

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Now I’m not going to lie to you.  Veggie burgers are a lot more delicate than regular meat burgers.  It is possible to flip them without breaking them, it’s just a little harder.  And no you can’t make these on a grill.  No veggie burger you make will have that mouth feel a traditional burger gives you, so either deal with it or have a hamburger.

Now you might be arguing that the frozen Morningstar Veggie Burgers you buy ARE stable and CAN be made on a grill.  Well, I would retort there isn’t a whole lot of vegetable action happening in a Morningstar Veggie Burger.

WATER, TEXTURED SOY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, CORN OIL, CONTAINS TWO PERCENT OR LESS OF AUTOLYZED YEAST EXTRACT, VEGETABLE GUM, NATURAL FLAVORS FROM VEGETABLE SOURCES, MALTODEXTRIN, SOY FIBER, SALT, CARRAGEENAN, POTATO STARCH, ONION POWDER, CARAMEL COLOR, DISODIUM INOSINATE, DISODIUM GUANYLATE, KONJAC FLOUR, SUNFLOWER OIL, SESAME SEED OIL, SOY SAUCE (WATER, SOYBEANS, WHEAT, SALT), CONCENTRATED ONION JUICE, ASCORBIC ACID, VINEGAR POWDER, CITRIC ACID, ASPARTIC ACID, MODIFIED CORN STARCH, MALIC ACID, SUCCINIC ACID, TARTARIC ACID, LACTIC ACID, WHEAT FLOUR, SOY LECITHIN.

Anyway, if you want these to be a little more stable you can add some breadcrumbs but I believe that’s the thing I said I was trying to avoid in the first place.  But to each their own.

Carefully flip, getting a gold color on each side.

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Serve and enjoy!

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