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.


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.

Bacon and Lentil Soup

The best part of cleaning out my refrigerator?  Finding a pound of bacon I didn’t know I had.  After pondering for a few minutes about what I was going to do with my unexpected find, I had an epiphany.

I’m going to make Bacon and Lentil Soup.

This soup was the greatest idea I’ve ever had.  Not only is it just really, really good, it’s really inexpensive to make and (minus the bacon and bacon fat) good for you!

Bacon and Lentil Soup

1/2 lb bacon (about 5-6 slices)
1 large onion, chopped
3 large carrots, chopped
1 cup lentils (I used regular brown, but I’m sure green or red would be great too)
8 cups chicken broth, divided
Salt and pepper to taste
Splash of balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup green onions, chopped

Cut the bacon in strips.  In a large pot, cook the bacon over medium heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crispy.  For best results, put the bacon in the cold pot and let them come up to temperature together.  Low and slow is the key to rendering bacon fat.

Transfer the crispy bacon bits to a paper towel to drain.  Drain excess fat from the pot, leaving about a tablespoon of fat in the pot.  Saute the onions and carrots over medium heat until the onions are translucent.

Add the lentils and 4 cups chicken broth.  Simmer for about 40-50 minutes until the lentils are tender.  Taste the lentils, that is the only way to tell if they are ready.  Add the remaining 4 cups of stock.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, this will vary depending on the bacon you use.  Add a splash of balsamic vinegar and the reserved bacon bits.  Simmer for an additional 10 minutes, or until soup is warmed through.  Serve with chopped green onions as garnish.

Barley Risotto with Mushrooms and Greens

I didn’t grow up eating greens.  The closest thing we got was spinach out of the freezer.  In an effort to eat healthier, I’ve been attempting to incorporate a variety of leafy greens into our diet.  So far we’re up to broccoli rabe, kale, arugula, and dandelion greens.  I feel like an inept foodie by saying that I find them to be incredibly bitter and I feel I have to brace myself before each bite.  I’ve tried blanching before sauteing, but that just doesn’t seem to help.

However, this does not mean I’m claiming defeat.  I know they have to be good.  Rachael Ray is all about the leafy greens… and if she can do it, so can I.

This recipe is a great introductory recipe for leafy greens.  The barley (which is a heart healthy whole grain) cooks into a creamy risotto, paired with meaty mushrooms, and slightly bitter dandelion greens.  It just works.  Plus it’s really healthy, especially if you use low sodium, low fat chicken broth.  Serve this dish as a side, or beef it up by adding cooked chicken.

Barley Risotto with Mushrooms and Greens
Barely Adapted from Eating Well cookbook by Williams-Sonoma

6 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups mushrooms, sliced (baby bella, cremini, button, etc)
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup pearl barley
3 cups dandelion greens, cut into bite sized pieces (or you can substitute baby arugula for a less bitter taste)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

In a medium saucepan, over medium-high heat, bring broth to a simmer.  Turn off heat, cover and keep warm.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  add onion and garlic and saute, stirring frequently, until onion is soft.  Add mushrooms, 1/4 salt, and a few grindings of pepper.  Cook, stirring frequently until mushrooms have released their juices and start to brown.  Add wine and bring to a boil for about 1 minute.

Add 5 cups of hot broth and the barley.  Cover and simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally and adding more broth 1/4 cup at a time if the barley becomes dry.  Cook until barley is tender, approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Stir in greens and more broth, if necessary.  Cook, uncovered, until greens are wilted, about 2 minutes.  Stir in parmesan and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.