Whole Wheat Pancakes with Mango & Blood Orange Compote


When I hear the word “compote” I think of that nasty thick fruit stuff that is usually served on pancakes.  But then again, I had a bad first experience.  I was volunteering at a pancake breakfast and my job was the apple compote server.  It was disgusting stuff.  A thick mass of congealed apple chunks and cinnamon from a huge industrial sized can and dumped into a chaffing dish.  Needless to say that after that, I was done with compote.  That is until recently when I was going through a new cookbook and saw a recipe for compote.  A picture was involved and I was intrigued.  It looked like fruit in syrup, not a congealed mess.  This is what compote is supposed to be. Fruit in a simple syrup.  Simple and delicious.

I would have loved to have added anise extract to this compote because I think it would have made it over the top awesome, but alas, I only had an empty bottle of anise extract and therefore I could not (who puts back an empty bottle of extract?).  If you try it, let me know how it goes.  Otherwise, it was pretty awesome by itself.


Mango & Blood Orange Compote

1 mango
3 blood oranges
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/8 teaspoon anise extract (optional)

With a sharp knife, cut the peel and pith from the oranges.  Working over a bowl, cut between the membranes to release the orange segments and juices into the bowl.  Dice the mango and add to the oranges.  Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Remove the syrup from the heat and add extract (if using) and pour over fruit.  Stir gently to incorporate.

Whole Wheat Pancakes

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups milk, plus more if necessary

In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  Make a well in the dry ingredients and add in honey, eggs, vanilla, and milk.  Stir until all ingredients are incorporated.  Add more milk to achieve desired consistency.

Preheat a heavy-bottomed skillet or griddle over medium heat.  Spray with cooking spray.  Pour approximately 1/4 cup of the batter into the pan for each pancake.  Cook until bubbly, about 1 1/2 minutes.  Turn, and continue cooking until golden brown.  Serve topped with Mango & Blood Orange Compote.


Dark Chocolate Chip Brownies


Sometimes you just need brownies.  Well, sometimes I need brownies.  Today I needed brownies.  I wanted something warm, gooey, fudgey, and over-the-top chocolatey.  So after a quick perusing of the interwebs, I found this recipe claiming to be the best brownies ever.  I had all the ingredients on hand (miraculously), and after a few minor tweaks to meet my personal craving, I give you Dark Chocolate Chip Brownies.   These brownies did the job and they did it well.

They are so very delightfully rich and moist and fudgey and everything you want in a brownie.  I love chocolate chips in brownies because, number 1, it’s like an extra shot of chocolate (which is never bad), and, number 2, it lends for a nice texture contrast.  You can leave them out, but you really are missing out.

What’s even better about these brownies?  This recipe makes a baby batch, so it has to be healthier than that pint of Ben & Jerry’s I was going to eat…

Dark Chocolate Chip Brownies

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 9 inch baking pan.  In a medium bowl, mix together oil, sugar and vanilla.  Beat in eggs.  In a separate bowl, mix together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.  Gradually mix the dry mixture into the wet mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly.  Bake 20 – 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Allow to cool on a wire rack before cutting into squares and serving.

Peanut Butter Banana Oat Dog Treats

My dogs love peanut butter, so most of the treats I make involve peanut butter.  Obviously, this is not an exception.  These smell so amazing, I almost want to eat them myself.  Except I won’t… because they’re for the dogs.

This is my awesome treat barometer:

If I turn around and see this, I know I’ve done well.


Peanut Butter Banana Oat Dog Treats

2 ripe bananas, pureed
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
2 3/4 cup whole wheat flour (do not substitute white flour, white flour is bad for dogs)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl, combine banana puree, peanut butter, oil and egg.  Add cinnamon and oats.  Slowly add flour, incorporating a little at a time until all ingredients are mixed.  Roll into small balls (about 1 inch in diameter) and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.  The cookies do not spread, so you can put them close together.  Press each ball down with your hand to flatten the cookies.  Bake 22-25 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown and cookies are hard to the touch.  Let cool completely on a wire rack.  Store at room temperature in a loosely covered container.  They also freeze very well.

Chicken Tomatillo Stew

I’m kind of embarrassed to post this. This is not gourmet, and really this recipe is the shortcut of all shortcuts. But sometimes the simple things are just so darn good, and this recipe is share-worthy.  So here’s the deal… the main ingredient is jarred salsa.  There, I said it.  I probably could roast tomatillos and serrano peppers, but I live in southwestern PA and it’s just not that easy to find the amount of tomatillos I would need to make this.  Just kidding, I’m just really that lazy.  Who wants to roast and peel peppers when I could just pop open a jar of salsa?  Me.  Don’t judge.

I’ve made this about a million times and this is my favorite salsa:

It’s not only the perfect balance of heat and flavor, but this is the ingredient list:  tomatillos, onions, serrano peppers, iodized salt, and cilantro.  That’s it!  No phosphorus sulfate or cfhjihfvivhid (things I can’t pronounce), so it makes me feel better about using jarred salsa.

This makes a huge batch, because we like leftovers.  You will probably want leftovers too.

Chicken Tomatillo Stew

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
5 1/2 cups salsa verde (or 3 16 oz jars)
1/2 large onion, chopped
4 -5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon oregano
Salt & Pepper
Olive oil

Cut chicken in 1 inch chunks.  Pat dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper.  Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a medium soup pot over medium-high heat.  Working in batches, brown chicken on both sides.  Don’t worry about cooking it all the way through, only 1 -2 minutes per side, add more oil as necessary.  Set chicken aside.  Add onions to pot and saute until translucent.  Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 -2 minutes.  Add salsa and chicken to the pot.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Add cumin, cinnamon, and oregano.  Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.  Allow to simmer for 10 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.  Serve plain or over rice.

Banana Bread

I love spotted bananas. I think the people that like them green or semi-green are just plain crazy. There’s no flavor in a hard, green banana! But even I have to call it at some point, and I just so happened to have a stash of bananas about a day away from the point of no return.  Then I stumbled on this recipe over at Simply Recipes, and then after a few minor tweaks, there was banana bread.

I prefer most of the sweetness to come from the bananas, so feel free to up the sugar if you need to.

Banana Bread

3 or 4 ripe bananas
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, mash bananas.  Add melted butter, and mix.  Mix in the egg, sugar, and vanilla.  Sprinkle baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg over mixture and mix.  Mix in flour last and stir until everything is incorporated.  Transfer mixture to a greased 4 x 8 loaf pan.  Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the top is brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool on a cooling rack.  Remove from pan and slice and serve.

Grapefruit Salad with Spiced Pecans and Blue Cheese

So this was lunch today.  I thought about posting just the Grapefruit Vinaigrette, but really the whole thing deserves credit.

I love grapefruit.  I think grapefruit is one of those things you either love or hate, and I love it.  Since citrus season is in full effect, the fridge is chock-full of ’em.

Citrus pairs remarkably well with blue cheese.  Toss in some spicy pecans and some sweet grapefruit vinaigrette and you have the makings of an awesome salad.  I should mention that although the vinaigrette is made with grapefruit juice, it really isn’t sour.  Of course, if you want it to be more sour, up the juice or decrease the amount of honey.

P.S. – I’m also not going to tell you how much stuff to put in your salad.  I think that’s up to you.

Grapefruit Salad with Spiced Pecans and Blue Cheese

Mixed Salad Greens
Grapefruit Wedges
Blue Cheese crumbles
Spiced Pecans

Grapefruit Vinaigrette

1/2 cup grapefruit juice
1 tablespoon honey
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
1/4 cup olive oil

You can do this in a food processor, blender, or bowl.  Put the grapefruit juice and honey in the mixing container of your choice.  Mix and while processor or blender is on (or if your using a bowl, whisk furiously), slowly add olive oil and emulsify.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

For Salad:
Put mixed greens on a  plate.  Top with grapefruit wedges, blue cheese, spiced pecans, and grapefruit vinaigrette.  NOM!

Spiced Pecans

Mmmm… spiced pecans.  I like mine without all the sugary stuff and just straight spicy.  They are awesome to munch on as a snack, but usually I throw them in salads.  You can really use any nut for this recipe, pecans are just my favorite.

Spiced Pecans

1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 garlic salt
2 cups shelled pecans
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat Oven to 325 degrees.

Mix together spices in a small bowl and set aside.  In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium low heat.  Add spice mixture and cook until fragrant (no more than 1-2 minutes), stirring frequently.  Add pecans and stir until coated with spices.  Transfer pecans to baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.  Allow to cool, serve.

Whole Grain Banana Nut Coconut Muffins

Quaker makes these toasted coconut banana macadamia nut granola bars that are seriously the best thing ever.  The only problem is, I’ve only ever found them at one Target in Strongsville, Ohio.  I blame my mom for introducing me to them and then making me live without them (Hi Mom!  If you’re reading this, I’m not too old for care packages :D)  Until I can make it back home to stock up, I’ve had to improvise.

Is it possible for something so good to be good for you?  If you’re not a believer, you will be after these muffins.  The only thing that would make them better?  Add a little coconut to the top before baking so you get a yummy toasted coconut crust.  I would, but Ben isn’t a fan of straight coconut (not the taste; the consistency).

Whole Grain Banana Nut Coconut Muffins

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (if your nuts are salted, omit)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 medium)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used cashews because that’s what I had, I think anything except peanuts would taste good)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix together flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt (if using), cinnamon, nutmeg, and nuts in a large bowl.  Set aside.  Combine egg, vanilla, oil, honey, coconut milk, and bananas in a medium bowl.  Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until dry ingredients are moistened.  Fill greased or lined muffin cups 2/3 full.  Bake 15-17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Yields 12-18 muffins.

Oatmeal Waffles with Strawberry Jam Syrup

Sometimes on Sunday mornings, I like to make big breakfasts.  I think it makes the perfect start to a super lazy day.

Most baked good I’ve had with oatmeal as the main ingredient are heavy and dense.  That is not the case with these waffles.  These oatmeal waffles are awesome.  Crispy and brown on the outside, and super light and fluffy on the inside.  They are also extremely versatile.  Add fruit or nuts to the batter before cooking and they still come out great.  Same goes with the syrup, if strawberry isn’t your thing, any jam works great.

Oatmeal Waffles

2 eggs, separated, room temperature
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 cup flour (white or wheat, use wheat to keep these whole grain)
1 1/2 cups milk
1 stick butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Strawberry Jam Syrup

2/3 cup seedless strawberry jam
3 tablespoons water
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat a waffle iron.  Warm jam with water, cinnamon stick, and nutmeg over low heat until warm and smooth.  Remove cinnamon stick, but keep syrup on low heat until ready to serve.  If syrup gets too click, or clumps again, just add another tablespoon of water.

Beat egg white in a small bowl until stiff, set aside.  Mix together the dry waffle ingredients in a large bowl, set aside.  Combine egg yolk, milk, melted butter, and vanilla.  Add to dry waffle ingredients, mixing only until large lumps disappear.  Fold in beaten egg white until just blended.  Do not over beat batter.

Spray the waffle iron with non stick cooking spray or brush with oil and cook waffles, keeping them warm and crisp in a low oven.  The batter should fill a 4 section iron 2 times, making 8 waffles.  Serve waffles topped with fresh fruit (optional) and drizzled with strawberry jam syrup.

Hawaiian Fried Rice

I’m not really sure if I can call this recipe Hawaiian Fried Rice, but Scallop and Pineapple Fried Rice is just too long of a name.  Besides, I forgot the egg, so I’m not even sure if I can call this fried rice, but for brevity’s sake I’m calling it Hawaiian Fried Rice.

There’s a local restaurant near me that very infrequently has a special called Hawaiian Fried Rice.  They serve it in a scooped out, halved pineapple and it is by far my favorite fried rice.  They serve it so infrequently that I can’t even remember what’s in it, except for scallops and pineapple.

This recipe pays homage to that special, and it’s pretty tasty if I do say so myself.

TIP:  It helps to have everything prepped and ready to go when making fried rice, since everything goes so fast (hence why I forgot the egg).

Hawaiian Fried Rice

2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1 pound sea scallops
Salt & Pepper
1/2 large onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1 cup frozen corn (this is just what I had available, feel free to substitute peas or a vegetable medley)
1 cup pineapple, diced
6 cups cooked, cool rice (I used brown rice, but anything except for sushi rice will work)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup chopped cashews (or macadamia nuts)
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup green onions, chopped (garnish)
2 eggs, beaten (optional)

In a large saute pan or wok, heat the 2 tablespoons oil on medium high heat.  Pat the sea scallops dry with a paper towel.  Season with salt and pepper.  Sear the scallops in the hot oil,  3-5 minutes per side until cooked through.  Remove the scallops from the pan and set aside.  Add the onions, garlic and ginger to the pan.  Saute until the onion is translucent.  Add your frozen vegetables and pineapple to the pan.  Saute for 2-3 minutes, or until vegetables are warmed through.  Add the rice, soy sauce, sesame oil, and sugar to the pan.  Mix everything together.  At this time, if you are adding the egg, make a small well in the rice.  Pour the beaten eggs into the well and scramble the eggs.  When they are cooked, incorporate the rice into the well, mixing the eggs into the rice.  Add the cashews, raisins, and scallops (with any juices that may have collected) to your fried rice, mix everything together and saute until everything is warmed through.  Serve immediately and garnish with green onion.