Saturday, June 23, 2012

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Pancakes

Pancakes are weekend food. Typically reserved for Saturday and Sunday mornings. But every once in a while I need 'em on say, a Thursday night. This was the case a few days ago—and when the craving for oatmeal cookie pancakes struck at 6 o clock in the evening, I did not question it. I answered the call. 

My oatmeal cookie pancakes do not contain raisins. I repeat, they are not contaminated with raisins. In my world, raisins have no places in cookies or pancakes. These pancakes DO contain mini chocolate chips, however. Throw some in and you won't regret it!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Pancakes
Inspired by Joy the Baker
Makes 8-12 medium-sized pancakes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • heaping 1/2 cup old fashioned or quick oats
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • ¾ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • chocolate chips
  • cooking spray
In a large bowl beat eggs until frothy. Add buttermilk, butter, honey and vanilla and mix well.

Add flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Mix well until mostly smooth. Fold in chocolate chips and let batter set for a few minutes.

Heat griddle or pan over low to medium heat. Splash a few drops of water in there and observe it. If it pops violently, it's too hot. If it barely does anything, crank the heat up a bit. If it sizzles, it's just right.

Pour 1/3 cup batter onto the griddle. Cook on the first side until tiny bubbles form on the top and pancake edges firm up a bit.

Flip the pancake over with a spatula and cook until golden brown. Repeat until all the batter is gone.

To keep your pancakes warm while the others cook, keep them on an oven proof plate in the oven set to 200 degrees. Serve with maple syrup and fresh fruit, if desired.

Other cravings of note have been for pizza! One of our favorite cheapo pizza joints around here is Cicis. We can stuff our bellies full of salad, pasta, pizza, cinnamon rolls and brownies for under 10 bucks for the both of us. We both have our favorites—mine is deep dish cheesy breadsticks and Gradon's is pepperoni, sausage and jalapeno deep dish pizza. We love that place so dang much.

Gradon and I hit the Charlottesville City Market this weekend for the first time. What we found was a bustling little community of plant, food and craft lovers alike. Everything from jewelry stands to bakery booths to taco tents. We picked up a beautiful basil plant to avoid having to shell out 2 bucks every time I make italian food. The thing was huge! Here is Gradon's labor of love planting it. He's already watered it twice today. He was so cute grilling the farmer at the market about where exactly he should trim the leaves and even verifying what he learned on the internet later.

A couple of months ago, we planted a few little flowers and hung a basket from our porch. We've really taken to the little guys and are enjoying watching them grow. We're so lucky to have a yard that we can make our own, even while renting an apartment. It really makes it feel more like home!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Low Fat Baked Ziti with Spinach

Baked ziti reminds me of my dad. It's his dish of choice at most every italian restaurant. My mom makes an incredible baked ziti that confounds all others. However, this recipe is pretty dang great for how quick and light it is!

It sneaks a pretty hefty portion of spinach in there which will always make you feel better about eating a fair amount of pasta. It's not exactly swimming in sauce, so if your guests love extra sauce, do not deprive them, go ahead and double your crushed tomatoes. (My dad lovesss his sauce but I made this for Grades so I stuck with the original recipe) Don't forget to thaw your spinach and then squeeze it dry like your life depends on it. Otherwise you'll have watery ziti, and that would be a travesty!

Low Fat Baked Ziti with Spinach
Adapted from SkinnyTaste

Serves 8

Calories: 332
Fat: 7.1 g
Carbs: 55
Fiber: 7.8
Protein: 17.5

  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes (I prefer Tuttorosso)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic,minced
  • 10 oz frozen spinach, thawed and squeeze dry
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • salt and fresh pepper to taste
  • 8 oz fat-free ricotta
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan
  • Block of (8 oz) part skim mozzarella, shredded (grate your own cheese please!)
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 lb high fiber ziti such as Ronzoni Smart Taste (I like half whole wheat, half Ronzini Smart Taste)
Add sauce to the pot where your pasta has been waiting patiently. Add half of the shredded mozzarella to the pot, as well as all of the Parmesan cheese and ricotta. Give it a good mix and then transfer it to the baking pan, spreading evenly. Top with the remaining mozzarella.

Pop it in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until mozzarella is melted and the edges are slightly browned.

Tip: you can make this the day before if you store it, tightly covered with foil, in the refrigerator. Just let it sit at room temp for 30 minutes before baking.

In honor of Father's Day this past weekend, here are a few goofy pictures of me and my dad. Sure I have a bunch of polished pictures of us at my wedding where we're all dressed up or at the beach with our sun kissed skin, but these photos represent my dad in his true, everyday form. It reminds me of the many nights that we stayed up late in our pajamas, eating bowls of cereal or ice cream and just talking about life.

We took these pictures on my mac the very first time I took it out of the package. My dad bought it for me as a college graduation present, and we could hardly wait to open it up and see what it could do. One of the first features we discovered was Photo Booth, and well, I guess you can tell that we had a little fun with it.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Chili Tortilla Bake

I stumbled across this recipe a couple of years ago when Gradon and I were newly married—we both enjoyed it so much that it made it into our regular weeknight dinner rotation. T

The pictures probably don't do it justice, (great mexican food is rarely very pretty) but this is a super tasty meal with just the right spiciness to it. Stuffed full of black beans, whole wheat tortillas and lean meat, it's amazingly satisfying! And light too!

Try pairing it with a green salad for a healthy meal that won't take you all evening to prepare. 

Chili Tortilla Bake
Adapted from Cooking Light

Serves 6
Calories: 413
Fat: 11 g (4 g saturated)
Carbs: 47g
Fiber: 8 g
Protein: 28g

  • 1 pound extra-lean ground beef or turkey (95% lean)
  • 2 cans (8 ounces each) no-salt-added tomato sauce
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies
  • 2 tablespoons dried minced onion
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 6 whole wheat tortillas (8 inches)
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
In a large skillet, cook beef or turkey over medium heat until no longer pink. Stir in the tomato sauce, beans, corn, green chilies, onion, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder and oregano. Cook until heat through.

In an 11x 7 baking dish coated with cooking spray, layer half of the tortillas on the bottom. Top with beef mixture and then cheese. Repeat layers, finishing with the cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly.

I hope that everyone has a relaxing weekend! Grades and I were lucky enough to join my parents along with my sister and brother-in-law for an amazing week in Bethany Beach, Delaware last weekend. I'm sure a few of you are shocked that there is a beach in a state as obscure as Delaware, but I can assure you that there is, and my family and I have been enjoying lovely vacations there every summer from as far back as I can remember! 

We went a bit early this year and had some sketchy weather here and there, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it allowed for us all to spend more time together doing a variety of things. See, if my mom, sister and I have it our way, we'd be baking in the sun all day. (Which the boys absolutely cannot handle) But having a few days of random weather here and there forced us off the beach and got us doing other fun things like fishing, kayaking, cooking, playing cards, riding bikes, catching crabs, eating way too much frozen yogurt and just chatting about life. 

It was a real treat spending time with my one and only sis and her husband Troy. They live in Vegas and we just don't get to see them enough. Plus we celebrated Dad's birthday with a Mexican Fiesta complete with enchiladas, salad, taco soup, and Dad's absolute favorite dessert in the universe—Momma's famous cheesecake. Poor dad got a little crazy while riding bikes on the Ocean City boardwalk this year and fell backwards while popping a wheelie. He twisted his knee and ankles up pretty well, but luckily our house had an elevator that helped him get through the rest of the week without too much trouble. You just have to love that man.