Buckwheat (That Little Rascal…)

So I thought it would be fun to experimental with buckwheat.  I had heard it mentioned many times in my life but I don’t think I have ever used it in a recipe.  It is also toted as one of the healthiest foods that is often overlooked–sounds like an excellent reason to try it.  Besides, I have a sister with celiac so I thought this trek may help her out as well.

However, I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to find buckwheat (that little rascal fruit seed) but I did see quinoa everywhere.  No wonder the majority of the class picked that grain!  Nonetheless, I eventually found buckwheat flour at Byerly’s and buckwheat groats at Whole Foods.  I didn’t have a chance to test out the groats yet—but I will soon.

First dish was buckwheat pancakes.

 

May I just say yum to this recipe.  Simple enough to make; once I located buttermilk at the grocery store.  The pancakes cooked up evenly and fluffy.  They had good flavor as well.  I had some extra batter so I saved it for the next day.  The pancakes were not nearly as good as the first go-round.  I’m not sure if it was me or the ingredients are not as stable as I expected.  Regardless, I would make this recipe again—but just in a small batch.

Dish #2 was buckwheat cornmeal muffins.

Not nearly as good as anticipated.  In fact, they kinda tasted like cardboard.  I’m more accustomed to a sweeter corn muffin so it might be a personal preference bias as well.  This recipe only called for a 1/8 cup of sugar (I cut the recipe in half) so that didn’t help it taste-wise either.   The vegetable beef soup that accessorized the muffin was rock solid.  Whew.  I’ll be throwing this buckwheat cornmeal muffin recipe out.

 

Buckwheat Waffles Star for Breakfast (#3)

 

So, this was a surprise winner for me.  I like to consider myself a waffle aficionado–heck, my waffle iron is a Hamilton Beach from the early 1950’s that still has a cloth electrical cord!  The process building was a bit slow and puttsy (whipped egg whites) but it was worth it.   I also cut this recipe in half to avoid wasting anything.  The reduced ingredient list called for 1 tablespoon of sugar.  That combined with the yogurt provided more than enough sweetness (I’m sure the syrup helped out in the end too).  The waffles baked up nicely—crunchy exterior but light and fluffy on the inside.  The recipe called for a pinch of cinnamon which I was able to detect in the final product (a nice surprise).  Overall very tasty.  Next time I may try to add some malt powder to see if that enhances the waffles even more–or not.  These were good.

 

Roasted Veggie Medley

So, I thought I would check out recipe options  to incorporate a combo of sweet potatoes, zucchini and red bell pepper.  Yes, I can count to two but I do like peppers so I wanted to make sure all the dishes would have a splash  of zing especially since I’ve had very little (if any) exposure to the other two.  In our week one class, we roasted some cauliflower.  I had never done that before and it was pretty good (albeit with the curry cheese sauce on top).  I wanted to try something similar with other produce.

It was also my birthday this week so there’s was a fair amount of group gatherings and of course, food.  After an all you-care-to-eat brunch on Sunday, I didn’t want much of a dinner so I thought a bowl of roasted veggies would be easy, fairly quick, and satisfying yet not too filling.

The result.  Wow does the kitchen smell good!  The medley was a bit on the soft side but the peppers and onions dominated in flavor (no surprise).   I didn’t want to burn the meal but maybe a couple of minutes more in the oven would have improved the outcome.  It was definitely enough food too but I don’t think I’m a big zucchini fan.  The sweet potato was good—I would do that again in the mix but not the z-veggie.   Maybe in my other dishes the zucchini will be better received.   I haven’t cooked with rosemary in the past but it did add a positive dimension to the food.  I would add more black pepper in the next rendition.

Sweet Potato & Zucchini Hash

Another one dish/skillet meal.  Okay, if you count the pan of boiling water for the egg then there were two but still an easy meal prep and decent clean-up.

Did I mention it was my birthday this week?  As such I was trying to cut down on some of the portions of these meals.  This one I quartered—give or take on the ingredients a smidge.  I also added red pepper which was not part of the original recipe.  Obviously, this was a more cohesive meal than the bowl of roasted vegetables prepared the other day.  Oddly enough, I kinda enjoyed the boiling or poaching of the egg.  I would normally have used a little poaching dish in a skillet.  This was my first time floating the egg in water.  I’m not sure why the recipe called for vinegar in the water.  I’ve only heard that referenced for eggs still in the shell and maybe they are easier to peel as a result.  I wasn’t able to find much of a definitive purpose on the web either.   Nonetheless, the egg turned out very well.  The aroma of the cooking veggies was very appealing too.  I would like to do this recipe another time when I have my own stock.  Given time restraints, I resorted to the packaged type.   Sorry Bill!

The meal itself was better than I expected.  While I’m still not a fan of zucchini, it had a more sedate presence in this recipe.   I’m beginning to enjoy sweet potatoes and appreciate the different ways to incorporate onions and peppers too.  I purchased some dried thyme for this dish as my spice cabinet wasn’t very broad (that is changing!).  I could easily eat this meal for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Basil-Zucchini-Potato Frittata

This was the third meal I prepared with my two/three vegetables and the one I enjoyed the most.  The prep was very easy and straight forward—Cook the veggies in the skillet, add the egg & basil mixture, cook a bit more and tada—you have a meal!  It was nice to get the suggestion from the materials to think about breakfast and not merely a lunch or dinner meal too.

 

In addition to the listed ingredients, this recipe invited the addition of leftover veggies.  It also suggested shredding the zucchini but I chopped it instead.   Something about shredded zucchini made it even less appealing—I don’t think I going to be a big zucchini supporter anytime soon.  Thankfully, the other flavors were more distinct.  This recipe introduced me to dried basil leaves too. The ingredient definitely provides a layer of flavor that I like and now it’s another solid member of the expanding household spice cabinet.

The overall result was very good.  I found this meal to have the most flavor of the three and it certainly had more structure for obvious reasons.  I don’t think the tomato paste provided much punch though.  I might opt for a salsa or similar next time around.  I did like the fact the primary ingredients were chopped but I threw in some of the leftovers from the hash which were a bit larger.  It provided a little more variety to the final product.   This meal could be a simple but tasty family breakfast or used for a group brunch.  My final vote on the veggies:  sweet potatoes are surprisingly good and versatile but zucchini maybe not so much for me.  Peppers & onions rule!

 

 

Chicken Florentine w/ a Twist & Pantry Chili

I agree that a well stocked panty comes in handy.  But I think there needs to be a balance between available space, shelf-life, knowledge of key food stuffs and frequency of usage too.  I do find myself stocking the pantry a bit more during the winter months—perhaps it’s from living in MN all my life or just being a bit on the type A side.  Either way, it came in handy for our assignment!  It was nice to have a number of proteins in the freezer too.  Alas, I was most certainly missing fresh produce components.  A normal week consists of knowing which nights dinner will be prepared at home and the appropriate shopping is done.  While not necessarily ideal, it does cut down on the food waste during busy times.

Dish one was a chicken florentine recipe that I found online.  I knew I had the majority of ingredients but I was missing spinach–be it fresh or canned.   I was going to use frozen peas in lieu of Popeye’s fav but I couldn’t find them in my freezer.  So I substituted canned peas.  I made sure I had all the other ingredients ready to go and read through the recipe.  I liked the idea of this recipe because it used the chicken that I was going to prepare anyway, it had a total time investment of 45 minutes and used one skillet for cooking.

All went well.  No fires, spills, burns, or other mishaps.  The resident cat even stayed out of the way.  It tasted fine too.  Would I make it again?  Only if I had spinach.  Peas are okay but it was just a chicken dish with rice & peas.  Nothing uber special.  After the meal was completed, I did find the frozen peas on the freezer door.  I knew I had frozen peas in there!

 

Pantry Chili.  I was a bit surprised we were to make two recipes for our homework assignment in week 1.  It could have been scary if faced with the on hand ingredients found in this refrigerator….

refrigerator-status

Thankfully, this is merely a new refrigerator we have at work.  Whew!

Again, I didn’t have any of the usual fresh items the recipe I received from brother-in-law Bob called for—onion, celery, garlic, etc.  I might have even thrown in some green pepper if I had some on hand.  Nonetheless, I raided the spice rack and found good options.  After browning the hamburger, I threw everything else in the crockpot for one hour (the recipe also included a can of tomato soup that was a bit camera shy).  The resident cat’s attention was peaked when the meat was cooking.  Thankfully, she didn’t show much interest in any of the prep activity thereafter.

During the chili cooking time, I tinkered with a corn bread/cake mix recipe that I found online that sounded intriguing.  In essence, it combines a corn bread mix with a cake mix in equal portions and then follows the cake mix prep and baking instructions.  The chili turned out to be much tastier than expected having used only frozen hamburger and pantry parts.  Who knew?!  It was topped with a little bit of mix shredded cheese before dining.   I thought the corn bread muffins were very good too but I think I will make the honey butter next time.  Today’s lunch will be a repeat of last night’s dinner.  I do enjoy me leftovers!