Sunday, June 24

Oatmeal Zucchini Banana Bread

I live in an apartment with four people. Four people that are addicted to eating a banana every morning. Ok, it's really probably more like 2 addicts and 2 people who feel like they have to eat a banana rightnoworelsetheywon'tgetonebecausetheywillallbegonetomorrow. So everyone eats a lot of bananas.

I do most of our grocery shopping (at Wegman's with a sidekick of course) and since our (fabulooouuus) 4th roommate has moved in, I have started to feel increasingly silly about the numbers of bananas that we bring to the checkout. We're buy ever growing bunches, some green, some yellow of course, just to get us through the week. Trust me we're not lacking potassium and it's really a wonder that any of us can poop (I feel like talking about poop on a cooking blog is kinda like a party foul, but I just did it anyway... oops).

Of course marathon banana eating this isn't really conducive to baking. Because I love banana bread banana's are the only piece of produce (that I can think of right now) that I want to go bad. And we just can't keep them on the shelves.

When we do get an over ripe banana it's never more than one. I think one of the best tips I've received is to freeze them. This way, I can save up until I have enough for bread.

This is all relevant, of course, to this bread. You only need 2 bananas. Cash in early.  Go. Me.

The other bonus about this bread is that I've adapted a Weight Watchers recipe. So if you feel lighter after eating it... that's why.

PS I can never spell Zucchini. EVER.
Soundtrack: Boogie.

Oatmeal Zucchini Banana Bread

Adapted from Weight Watchers

1 1/4 c ap flour
1/2 c unpacked brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1 cup(s) uncooked old fashioned oats
3 tsp canola oil
1 large egg, beaten
2 large egg whites, beaten
2 large bananas, just a bit too ripe 

1 small zucchini, about the size of a banana
1/2 c walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, mash bananas with a fork and set aside. Puree the zucchini in a blender or small food processor until the dice is very small. Squeeze handfuls of the zucchini bits over a colander to remove all excess  water, then add to the bananas and set aside. 

In a large bowl, stir together dry ingredients and spices. Add oil and eggs; mix thoroughly. Fold in bananas, zucchini and walnuts and stir until mixed well using as few strokes as possible.

Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray. Pour batter into pan and bake until top of loaf is firm to touch, 45 to 55 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes. Flip out and move to a wire rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, June 19

Peach, Fennel & Mint Quinoa Salad

Grain salads are totally all the rage right now. And not just in my head. They're everywhere else too. They're a fabulous and healthy alternative to pasta or potato or macaroni salad. Or even a more filling alternative to a green salad. When you use a grain like quinoa, brown rice or barley as a base to your salad dish, you easily add vitamins, fiber and protein. Then, you can pack in veggies and fruit and skip the mayo.

And, the beautiful thing about summer is that produce is so fresh.... and so good. I can get excited about tomatoes. And green beans. And squash. Because it's sooo good! And it's even better when you don't cook it. Which is nice... because who wants to cook too much in the summer? Don't you love it when nature has your back? The only thing better would be if mint chocolate chip ice cream grew on trees.

Soundtrack: This

Peach, Fennel & Mint Quinoa Salad
Serves 6 as a side, 4 as a main course

1 c quinoa
1/2 c scallions, chopped
1 large peach, pitted and chopped (don't peel)
1 c green beans, trimmed, cleaned and cut into >1/2 in pieces
2 tbsp chopped mint
1 fennel bulb, chopped
1 tbsp EVOO (I used jalapeno infused, but this totally isn't necessary)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt & pepper

Cook quinoa according to package directions.

While the quinoa cooks, combine scallions, peaches, green beans, mint, and fennel in a large bowl. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together oil and vinegar. Season with pepper and about 1/8 tsp salt. Pour over the fresh ingredients in the large bowl. Toss to combine.

Add quinoa while still slightly warm and toss to combine. Serve while warm or cooled.

Sunday, June 10

Lemon & Arugula Potato Salad

My weekend.. in numbers!:

10: Time that my new favorite trashy tv show, My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding is on TV (light up dress this weekend!!)
9: Number of times I thought about going to the gym on Sunday... but didn't
8: Time that I woke up on Saturday AM. I know you're impressed.
7: Number of sports Adam was watching on Saturday... simultaneously
6: Number of corny jokes at which I laughed too hard
5: Amount of hours I spent editing a writing sample (GOOD GOD.. I know)
4: Times I ate ice cream (relax, I was a good sharer)
3: Number of foods I created on Saturday before 1 PM (Go me!!)
2: Trips I made to the grocery store (I was really ready for a third)
1: Times I made a list of my weekend in numbers
0: Number of rolls of toilet paper available in the bathroom at Morgan's Pier on Saturday night (I will forgive the place for being all around pretty awesome otherwise)

11: Rating on a scale from 1-10 of how excited I am about this potato salad. Yep. Potato salad makes me that excited. But here's the deal: I love potatoes. All kinds. And in salad form they are so much fun (yea I just called potatoes fun). Easy, breezy, and dressed up for summer. But this salad is so light and so unlike the mayo laden salads of old. It makes me feel as though I just ate a real vegetable... well 2 real vegetables. The tangy taste of the vinaigrette contrasts with the saltiness of kalamata olives and peppery arugula perfectly. It tastes even better outside, or alongside a turkey burger. It's easy to make and fun to share. 

And for those who hate mayo... promise them there is no mayo. Let them take a few bites before you tell them the secret ingredient is mayo. Let it eat at them for a minute before you tell them you're kidding.

Soundtrack: Ms. Patsy Cline

Lemon and Arugula Potato Salad
Inspired by Cooking Light's Lemon-Herb Potato Salad
Serves 5-6

1 lb red new potatoes
1 tbsp EVOO
1 tsp lemon zest, finely chopped
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp honey dijon mustard (I used Bookbinders. The key is a good dijon mustard, not a honey mustard dressing)
splash of kalamata olive juice (about 1/2 tsp)
3 oz arugula, chopped
1/4 c kalamata olives, finely chopped
1/2 tsp parsley (dried) or 1 tbsp fresh, chopped
1/2 tsp basil (dried) or 1 tbsp fresh, chopped
salt & pepper

Fill a 5 qt pot 3/4 of the way full with water. Place on the stove, cover, and bring to a boil. Add potatoes. Cover and simmer for ~10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the potato. The potatoes are done when a fork can be very easily inserted into the potato. Once the potatoes are finished cooking, turn off the heat. Allow the water to cool.

Drain the potatoes and set aside to cool fully (I let mine cool a while on the counter, then in the refrigerator to finish).

Once the potatoes are cooled, whisk together the EVOO, zest, lemon juice, honey dijon, and the splash of olive juice. Set aside.

Move the potatoes to a cutting board and cut into small cubes, about 1/4 in. Move the cubed potatoes to a large bowl.

Add the arugula, olives, parsley and basil. Add the dressing, then toss to combine. Salt and pepper to taste. Allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to marry. Serve chilled.

Sunday, June 3

Triple Citrus Ricotta Cookies

I discovered something new this weekend. (Aside from a who-knows-how-old dust bunny under my bed.) 

I didn't discover this thing though, really. I was introduced to it. And people have been watching it for ages now.. or since they installed the traffic cameras in Philly. So I "discovered" it, in much the same way Columbus discovered our great nation.

Philadelphia has a television channel... devoted... to... traffic cameras. Rotating camera views of different points on all major highways set to an eclectic mix of music spanning all genres and ages. No repeats (on the music, that is). And it's titled... Jams and Cams.

I know what you're thinking. What happens if you happen to witness a horrible accident? Or just any accident really? Are you supposed to do something about it? I would think so. Thus, there is a lot of responsibility that comes in watching this channel. It's not for the faint of heart.

And now you know what I did this weekend (other than to make these cookies of course). I went to the gym. I ate a delicious meal of bbq brisket out. I drank some beers to kick of Philly Beer Week. And I watched Jams and Cams. I'm so cool.

Soundtrack: I like this.

Triple Citrus Ricotta Cookies
Adapted from Giada DeLaurentis Lemon Ricotta Cookies
Yield: ~3 dozen cookies

2 1/2 c ap flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 c sugar
2 eggs
1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
6 tbsp of citrus juices, divided*
~ 1 tbsp zest of the mixed citrus used for juices
1/2 tbsp poppy seeds
1 1/2 c powdered sugar

*I used 2 tbsp orange juice, 2 tbsp lemon juice and 2 tbsp lime juice. Combined them in a bowl and then measured out 3 tbsp of the mix when needed, thus I had 1 tbsp of each in the cookies and in the glaze. You will need 1 lemon, 1 lime and 1/2 an orange for this. Also of note: I used fresh squeezed orange juice, not sure the effect that carton juice would have.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium sized bowl, stir flour, baking powder and salt with a whisk until combined. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, continuously beating the mixture. Once eggs are combined, add ricotta cheese, 3 tbsp of mixed citrus juice, and the zest. Beat just until combined.

Using a spatula, stir in the dry mix and poppy seeds. Dough will be very moist, more similar to a batter.

Spoon ~ 1 tbsp drops of dough onto lined cookie sheets. Dough will spread when baking, so make sure to leave room. (These are a flat cookie, not raised.)

Bake for 15 minutes (or until golden brown at the edges). Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the cookie sheets for ~20 minutes before glazing.

While cookies are cooling, whisk together the remaining 3 tbsp of citrus juice and 1 1/2 c powdered sugar, to create a glaze. Once cookies are cooled, spoon ~1/2 tsp of glaze onto each cookie and spread to coat.

Glaze will need to cool ~2 hrs before storing.