Archive | Snacks RSS feed for this section

The Time I Made Bread on a Cookie Sheet

10 Apr

As I sat on the couch watching March Madness play out last weekend, I was gripped with an urge for breakfast bread. You know, those breads that are a little too sweet to use for sandwiches, but can’t qualify as dessert? They usually have cinnamon and some kind of sweet fruit in it and you can top it with butter or jam. Unfortunately, I don’t have that kind of bread laying around (probably for the better) and my craving was much too sudden to create a bread with yeast and letting it rise and all that jazz. So I got to experimenting.

I managed to come up with a recipe I felt fairly confident would yield some bread-like substance (hello, baking powder!) but ran into a snafu when I discovered that Stefano didn’t have a bread pan (I was at his house). The dough had already been made and there was no going back, so I molded the dough into some kind of loaf-like shape, plopped it on a greased cookie sheet, and hoped for the best.

IMG_2336[1]While the slices were a bit biscotti-like in their shape, the taste turned out great and half the loaf was gone almost right out of the oven. That’s the thing about freshly baked bread, it never lasts for too long after the aromas have been wafting around the house while it bakes. By the time it comes out of the oven you have an audience of eager tasters to snag a slice while it’s warm and delicious.

IMG_2335[1]I was craving a little sweetness and lots of texture, so I used a healthy amount of raw oats and some raisins, nutmeg, and cinnamon to sweeten things up and make the house smell delicious. I would probably recommend using an actual bread pan for this, but know that a cookie sheet will work in a pinch! Also, it tasted even better and was easier to slice the next morning, lending itself nicely to leftovers. This is a pretty dense, hearty bread, but it’s wonderful because you can manipulate it to suit your needs. Want something savory? Take out the honey, raisins, and spices and throw in some cheddar and chives. Feeling a plain loaf? Just use the ingredients list through the milk and you’ve got a basic oat quick bread. Use your imagination!

Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Quick Bread

Makes one loaf
  • 2 cups oats (you could grind some or all of them if you wanted a smoother texture, but I love the added chewy component of leaving them whole)
  • 2 cups flour (I used white but whole wheat would work nicely, too)
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder (we aren’t using yeast, remember?)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1.5 cups milk (I used vanilla soy milk, but regular milk is fine – though the vanilla did add a nice aroma)]
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Optional: Granulated sugar for topping; any other fillings you want to put in – walnuts or pecans would be great in this
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine flour, oatmeal, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix honey, applesauce, and milk.
  4. Mix wet and dry ingredients, then fold in raisins (and whatever else you want!).
  5. Pour batter into greased bread pan and bake for 1 hour.

In the last 10 minutes or so, I sprinkled some granulated sugar on the top so the crust would be a little sweet and crunchy.

IMG_2337[1]

Love the bits of raisin and oats!

For quality control purposes, I tried it with some butter…

IMG_2339[1]Some strawberry jelly…

IMG_2340[1]And peanut butter.

Before I knew it, half the loaf had gone missing. Don’t look at me…

I’ll probably do another post where I actually cook it in a proper pan, but desperate times called for desperate measures and this worked in a pinch. Let me know if you decide to experiment with this recipe and how it turned out!

Buon appetito!

Inside My Snack Drawer + WOL Day 3

13 Feb

It’s hump day, everybody! Halfway through the week before a much needed long weekend.

Can you believe Valentine’s Day is tomorrow??? I feel like every single holiday is sneaking up on me and I’m so not prepared. I am hoping to get crafty this evening and make some goody bags for some loved ones in the area. Next year I want to be more on the ball and send them to all my friends – even those in faraway places.

So today I want to talk about one of my favorite food places: the snack drawer at my desk. As most of you know, I pack my lunch every day and always include snacks for the mid-afternoon slump between lunch and the end of the work day. I’m generally pretty good about estimating the amount of food I will want, but some days my appetite is out of control and my stomach just feels like a black hole. Enter, the snack drawer.

IMG_2027[1]My office has a basket of snacks that will appear occasionally in the kitchen and my gym often has different kinds of bars at the front entrance. I take those times to add to my snack drawer and I don’t think I have ever actually bought any of snacks. As you can see, I have an assortment of bars, as well as my very favorite Nut & Chocolate trail mix from Planter’s. I like to keep my snack drawer full of things that have lots of protein so they’ll fill me up and power me through the rest of the work day and my gym time before I can get home for dinner.

The other day, I tried Zone’s Perfectly Simple bar for the first time.

zonecranberry

This is from the makers of ZonePerfect protein bars. The idea behind Perfectly Simple is using fewer, all-natural ingredients. Here’s a look at the data:

Serving Size: 45 g bar
Calories: 170
Fat: 4 g
Fiber: 2 g
Protein: 8 g
Sugar: 19 g
I like that there’s a good 10 grams of protein in there, but 19 grams of sugar? For a 45 gram bar, that makes 42% of this baby sugar. Luckily, all of it is fruit-based, as the ingredients include Soy Protein Isolate, Apple Juice Concentrate, Sweetened Dried Cranberries, Date Paste, Roasted Almonds, Dried Pomegranate Seeds, and Cinnamon Powder. I like that there’s no added sugar (except to sweeten the cranberries).
I thought the taste was pretty good, though I don’t think I will ever get over the grittiness of protein in these bars. Just not a fan.
The verdict? With a couple grams of fiber and 10 grams of protein, it did a good job of filling me up until I was home to make dinner, but I still prefer whole foods, like an apple with some peanut butter, over a bar.
Do you have a snack drawer where you work? Which kinds of foods do you like to keep stashed for emergencies?
One mini meal I have been really into is an open-faced sandwich with a wedge of Laughing Cow cheese and some slices of smoked salmon.
IMG_2029[1]I nom’d on that as an evening snack while watching the State of the Union. Did anyone else watch it? My favorite part of it was Joe Biden’s tie.
joebidentieLOVE that purple.
Politics aside, there was a line of President Obama’s speech that really stood out to me and inspired today’s Week of Love Challenge.
WOLWed
Preach, Barry, preach.
When talking about raising children, the focus of parenting is often on the mother. For a long time, this was because mothers did (and still do) spend the most time caring for children. However, father figures are so important in a child’s life. Be it a biological or stepfather, an uncle, or even a beloved coach, having an important man in your life is crucial. Like female role models, male role models set an example for what it means to be an upstanding citizen who plays a positive role in their community.
My dad has always treated me like I am capable of anything. I was a fearless child growing up and he never held me back from trying new things because I was a girl. If I wanted to play soccer, he made sure that he practiced with me and didn’t go easy. When I wanted to study Arabic, he was always there to help me understand concepts that were difficult to understand. He is a fierce advocate for me as a career and education-minded woman.
Coming from his background, this could be a big surprise. My dad is Egyptian and is the only person in his family to live outside of Egypt. As many people know, the culture surrounding women there is generally not what it is in Western countries. All of my female relatives married young, had multiple children, and didn’t work. Many of them never reached higher than an elementary sch0ol education. Every time I visit, I am asked when I am getting married and starting a family, which is practically unheard of for a 23-year-old in the States, but very common practice back in Egypt.
Still, my father has always valued my desire for higher education and has never once suggested that I should be more focused on domestic life. He supports me in everything I do and pushes me to challenge myself by encouraging me to apply for a job or to look at graduate programs. As far as he’s concerned, I can do anything just as well, if not better than my male counterpart.
As a result, I have grown up with self-confidence and an assuredness that I can do anything I set my mind to.
fathers
So let’s give it up for the dads, grandfathers, husbands, uncles, stepfathers, teachers, coaches, and other male role models that play such an important part in our lives. Like yesterday’s challenge, this could mean anything from sending them a heartfelt email or posting a sticky note on the mirror in their bathroom to remind them how much they are loved.

Lately the Weather Has Been So Bipolar

22 Jan

Anyone recognize the song lyrics in my blog post today?

I say this because the weekend went from t-shirt weather on Sunday to freezing temps for the inauguration.

IMG_1903[1]The picture above was taken on our way to pick up our inauguration tickets from our Congressional representative. I started out the walk with a shirt, a fleece, and an overcoat and was down to the shirt before we made it to the building. The sign was shining and my phone declared it to be nearly 60 degrees. January weather, my butt.

IMG_1904[1]We made it to the building and we able to walk right through, after going through a quick security screen. Hello, Washington State!

IMG_1905[1]Inside the office, we got to chat with the Congressional aides about the recent Seahawks loss (boo!) and munch on brownies and cookies. It was so fun to go back “home” for a little while! After picking up our tickets and having our picture taken for posterity (or something), we were back outside to enjoy the weather.

IMG_1906[1]Because of the mild temps, we decided that it was time to treat dinner like summer and use the grill. Stefano rustled up some delicious chicken kabobs, loaded with lots of good veggies.

IMG_1899[1]I don’t know what it is, but I am convinced that grilling meat brings out a very primitive instinct in men. Stick them in front of fire and they turn into cavemen. Man make fire, man cook meat on fire for cavewoman – rawrrrrr.

Evolutionary regressions aside, the kabobs turned out great and I had no problem scarfing them down.

IMG_1900[1]

I actually didn’t have a problem scarfing anything down this weekend, including cupcakes at the new apartment of our friends Eric and Sam.

The 'S' was for Sharks, as in the NHL team.

The ‘S’ was for Sharks, as in the NHL team.

Or homemade pizza:

IMG_1907[1]

Or fresh-out-of-the-oven lasagna:

IMG_1916[1]It was a ridiculously carb-tastic weekend, though my body is paying the price. Apparently, tomato sauce isn’t a vegetable, despite what Congress thinks.

I think my carb cravings were in preparation of standing outside for eight hours for the Inauguration on Monday. I needed a winter layer of fat to protect my body 😉

IMG_1910[1]We got there at 7:00 AM and stayed through the end of the ceremonies. It was a wonderful, bucket-list experience, but I don’t think I am willing to brave it again. Crowds are really not my thing and I think that I will be more than happy to watch it from the comfort of my own home next time. Beyonce killed it during the National Anthem, though.

beyonce-knowles-singing-467

[ source ]

Love her.

It’s looking like it’s going to be an action-packed week at work because we missed Monday, so I’ve got to get a move on. Hoping everybody has a wonderful day and stays warm! I don’t know where you are, but if you’re anywhere near the DMV it is hovering around 20-25 degrees. BRR!

A Sore Return

9 Jan

Whew! Either the two weeks out of the gym completely took it out of me or maybe I’m still recovery from being sick, but the Cardio and Tone class I went to during lunch yesterday has left me s-o-r-e. Like, waddling around, bracing myself to sit on the toilet sore. Definitely didn’t see that one coming, but it was a fantastic workout. The instructor was upbeat, knowledgeable, and offered varying levels of difficulty for each of the exercises so it was good for all fitness levels. The class was set up like high intensity interval training (HIIT), except there wasn’t much rest time from what I could gather. It was basically a bunch of supersets (one exercise immediately followed by another), taking a rest break when you absolutely needed to. Wowza!

The nice thing about going to the gym during lunch is that I get to go home straight after. There was a package waiting on my doorstep when I arrived home. How I love getting mail!

IMG_1813[1]My dad had wanted to buy a winter coat for me for my birthday, but waited until I was home in December so I could try them on myself and see what fit best.

IMG_1817[1]It’s so warm and cozy and purple! I love it. It looks pink in this picture, but I assure you that it’s purple. Also, don’t mind the fact that I’m wearing PJ pants underneath the jacket – I may or may not have changed right into them as soon I got home from work. Major plus on the coat?

IMG_1823[1]Thumb holes! I love them.

After modeling my coat for myself, I went downstairs to rummage for some food because if I’m not at the gym, I’m eating (duh). On our recent Costco trip, I bought two pounds of cherry tomatoes and a box of individually packaged Sabra hummus to bring to work in lunches, so I decided to break them out and see how they were.

IMG_1825[1]Sabra is not really my favorite hummus, but the individual packs are a perfect serving and will pair well with some sliced cucumbers (my fave) and the tomatoes.

Then I parked myself on the couch and watched the rest of season 1 of Downton Abbey. Whoops. I had big plans to clean my room and do laundry and all that fun stuff, but it was thrown by the wayside in favor of the drama of the Crawley family. I won’t give anything away for those who haven’t seen it but the episode with the Turkish attaché just knocked me on my butt. Touché, Julian Fellowes, touché.

While on the phone with Stef last night, we were discussing our plans for this weekend. Our anniversary is on Friday so we are hoping to do something a little more romantic than our usual Trader Joe’s grocery date. Honestly, I can’t think of a better way to spend my Friday night than walking in a giant room full of food with my boyfriend. I’m kidding, I think.

Anyway, the weather is supposed to be really nice this weekend, get a load of this:

IMG_1827[1]Highs in the sixties over the weekend??? Tell me this is actually the middle of winter. With warm temps on the horizon, we are hoping to find something fun to do outside over the weekend.

This morning’s breakfast was a lox and cream cheese wrap using some smoked salmon from Trader Joe’s.

IMG_1828[1]

It was also featured in my omelette yesterday and I’m having a salmon fillet for lunch – overkill? I also had a bowl of honey Greek yogurt (the best flavor) mixed with some frozen wild blueberries that I briefly thawed in the microwave. The smokiness of the salmon really made the wrap and the juice from the blueberries turned my yogurt a beautiful shade of purple. Simple and so delicious.

Body Pump is on the books for tonight, though my muscles are fatigued and I don’t know how effective my workout will be tonight. It’s pretty amazing what two weeks of being sedentary will do to you after months of regular activity.

Food For Thought: Do you go through periods where you eat the same thing repeatedly? What are some of your favorite food regulars?

 

 

 

 

 

Cinnamon Apple Chips

20 Dec

There is only one more day between me and Friday and going home is so close I can taste it! My only hope is the winter storm that’s making its way across the nation won’t interfere with my travel plans. PLEASE, weather gods, have mercy on Christmas travelers!

After my Body Pump workout last night, I was craving a burger and fries in a major way. I am in the process of trying to eat all my food before I leave town and I knew I had some sweet potatoes that needed to be used, so sweet potato fries it was! What I usually do to make mine is slice up one large sweet potato into 1/2″ slices and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil on a cookie sheet, then top them with salt and lots of pepper.

Then I pop the sheet into a 450 degree oven for 15 minutes.

I was super hungry and had some cucumber slices and hummus to stave off hunger while the fries were baking.

IMG_1650[1]

After 15 minutes is up, I take the cookie sheet out to turn the fries over, then put them back into the oven for another 10-15 minutes (depending on how crispy you want them).

IMG_1652[1]While the fries were baking, I prepped my burger by defrosting two MorningStar Farms tomato basil burger patties (vegetarian) and topping a sandwich thin with mustard, ketchup, and relish. That came together quite easily and was all ready when the fries came out!

IMG_1655[1]Delicious! I love being able to make fast food items at home – you know exactly what’s in your meal and you can customize the meal exactly to your preferences.

A week or two ago, I bought a big bag of apples from Trader Joe’s that just weren’t very good. I kept bringing them for lunches, but I really wasn’t enjoying their flavor. I still wanted to find a way to use them because I abhor wasting food. That’s when the idea for Cinnamon Apple Chips came into my head. I wasn’t really sure how they would turn out, but I just decided to go for it. They turned out pretty well! The only thing I recommend now is having a mandolin for making the slices nice and thin. I had to bake mine for almost three hours to get the desired crispy texture of chips because my slices were cut with a knife and a little on the thicker side.

IMG_1653[1]All you need to do is slice (or mandolin) your apples as thinly as possible, then place them on a cookie sheet with some parchment paper (so they don’t stick), then top with a light dusting of cinnamon. I contemplated making it cinnamon sugar, but I figured that apples are already so sweet, I didn’t need to add extra sugar. Then I stuck them in the oven for an hour at 200 degrees. I kept checking on them and adding more time to the oven until I felt that they were at the texture I desire. The total time ended up being about 2 hours and 40 minutes.

Luckily, I had season 8 of Scrubs and a notebook of goals for 2013 to pass the time.

IMG_1663[1]The kitchen really started to smell like apples and cinnamon and I was tempted to just take them out and eat them the way they were! I managed to resist until they were finally ready.

IMG_1665[1]Of course I had to taste them, which is why you might notice a missing piece or two. The rest I bagged up and put them in my lunchbox for a sweet snack today! While they do take quite awhile, most of that time doesn’t involve being anywhere near the kitchen, so it’s not that time consuming. Next time, I will make a big batch and save them as go-to snacks when I’m craving something crispy.

Food for Thought: Do you ever try to make a fast food favorite at home?

%d bloggers like this: