Choco-banana Quinoa Breakfast Bake

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There is nothing quite like having a little chocolate for breakfast to put you in a decadent mood.

Of course, having a lotta chocolate for breakfast will probably achieve the same effect. But the common denominator here is the chocolate. Dark chocolate especially (because who in their right minds likes milk chocolate, amirite? Eh??).

Given that I’ve brought you another recipe that sneaks some chocolate into breakfast before, you would think that I am a Lady Who Loves Chocolate, like many ladies who have come before me.  But, actually, I’m not.  Or, well, I wasn’t.  Not at least until I reset my taste buds and decided that chocolate was damn good.  And also not until I started living with He-Who-Claims-To-Hate-Sweets-But-Eats-Entire-Jars-of-Nutella-and-Buys-Bags-of-Jolly-Ranchers-on-Amazon-even-though-it’s-Not-Halloween (more commonly known as Mr. Little Fish).  So, while I first started using chocolate as a temporary proxy for not being able to eat my standard sweets, we now regularly have some sort of chocolate product around the house. And, I figured, why not for breakfast?

The original recipe I adapted this from called for caramelized bananas.  And while this is definitely delicious, I wanted to give you a recipe that required fewer steps and fewer tools.  If you have the time or inclination, I would recommend following the original recipe, although I have to admit that it starts to stray into “dessert” category in my mind.  If you just want a fun breakfast for your weekday mornings, make mine, which calls for less chocolate, no caramelizing, mixing it all in one pot, and adding some hazelnuts for staying power!

Choco-banana Quinoa Bakes
Adapted from Running to the Kitchen
Serves 4

IMG_7025Ingredients:

2 ripe bananas
1/2 cup almond milk (homemade or otherwise) or other milk of your choice
2 eggs
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp honey (2 tbsp if you like things a little sweeter)
1/2 cup dry quinoa (or 2 cups already cooked)
1/2 cup rolled (not instant!) oats
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts or other nut of your choice
Coconut oil or butter for greasing

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t have cooked quinoa, combine the dry quinoa with 1 cup of water and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium heat and cover for 10-15 minutes, until all the water has evaporated.  Remove from heat, and fluff it with a fork.  Let cool for 5 or 10 minutes before adding it the egg mixture.
2. In a large bowl, mash your bananas until relatively smooth.  Whisk in the milk, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla extract and honey.
3. Add the quinoa, oats, dark chocolate chips, and hazelnuts to the mixture….

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And stir until well-combined.

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4. Use the coconut oil or butter to grease your baking dish, which can be either 4 small oven-safe ramekins or an 8×8 pan. Pour the mixture inside.

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5. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the breakfast bake is set and the tops are golden brown.

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6.  NOTE: to reheat during the week, I put an individual ramekin in the microwave for about a minute, to get the center nice and hot, and then I put it in my toaster oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 4 minutes.

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Choco-banana Quinoa Breakfast Bake
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • ½ cup almond milk (homemade or otherwise) or other milk of your choice
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp honey (2 tbsp if you like things a little sweeter)
  • ½ cup dry quinoa (or 2 cups already cooked)
  • ½ cup rolled (not instant!) oats
  • ⅓ cup dark chocolate chips
  • ⅓ cup chopped hazelnuts or other nut of your choice
  • Coconut oil or butter for greasing
Directions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don't have cooked quinoa, combine the dry quinoa with 1 cup of water and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium heat and cover for 10-15 minutes, until all the water has evaporated.  Remove from heat, and fluff it with a fork.  Let cool for 5 or 10 minutes before adding it the egg mixture.
  2. In a large bowl, mash your bananas until relatively smooth.  Whisk in the milk, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla extract and honey.
  3. Add the quinoa, oats, dark chocolate chips, and hazelnuts to the mixture, and stir until well-combined.
  4. Use the coconut oil or butter to grease your baking dish, which can be either 4 small oven-safe ramekins or an 8x8 pan. Pour the mixture inside.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the breakfast bake is set and the tops are golden brown.
  6. NOTE: to reheat during the week, I put an individual ramekin in the microwave for about a minute, to get the center nice and hot, and then I put it in my toaster oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 4 minutes.

Cooking Cure Day I-don’t-know-anymore

Well, guys, as it happens, sometimes our best-laid plans go awry.  After successfully completing two weeks of the Cooking Cure, I fell off the wagon during dinner week.  Happy hours, rehearsal dinners, and weddings all conspired to make me uninspired to keep up with the Cooking Cure (and eat all the delicious things at these events instead….worth it!). And you know what? It’s OK.

When it comes to dieting, you can’t let guilt consume you.  Dieting/losing weight/maintaining weight loss is a long haul.  You will have ups and downs, and you will have setbacks. It is a very easy thing to think that one mistake ruins the whole process, but it doesn’t.  You are human.  Humans make mistakes.  But, best of all, we also learn from them.  I know this was true for me when I was losing weight, and I know it will continue to be true throughout this whole healthy eating thing.  I will have weekends or vacations or, hell, weeknights, where the last thing I want is to eat healthy, where all I crave is greasy pizza and sweets. And, lucky for me, I’ve never felt terribly guilty about this, because I know I can, and will, pick up again.

Just as I don’t feel particularly guilty about not getting through dinner week on the Cooking Cure. Instead, when this week started again, I just jumped right back into planning my meals for the week.  Thing is, the Cooking Cure for me was never about learning to meal plan or to cook at home all the time–I had already been doing those things for months and months.  It was about reinspiring and motivating me to continue learning and being creative in my meals.  And I think the first two weeks of the Cure were sufficient for me.

In fact, after having such success with the Coconut Carrot Soup during lunch week, I decided to revisit my lunch plan this week and choose another recipe to make: Sriracha Steak Lettuce Wraps. If I’m being honest, the decadence of the weekend actually made me crave some of the lighter, healthier, salad-based recipes I had found during lunch week, so I decided to ride that wave. And boy am I glad I did.

I was very intrigued by the cube steak, which I had never cooked with before.  It’s basically a steak that has been tenderized with a meat mallet so that it looks like ground beef but is actually one piece of meat.  This means that you dice it, and you get bigger chunks of meat than just the little morsels of ground beef, which I actually liked as it felt both more substantial and more manageable. The only things I changed from the original recipe was the amount of honey used, and that I added some sesame oil to the relish to give it that toasted flavor!

The best part of this meal was how easy it is to make! In fact, while the steak was marinating in the delicious Sriracha sauce, I checked the mail, fed my cats, chopped up the cucumber relish, and minced all my aromatics (not bad for weeknight cooking!).  By the time I was done with all that, the steaks were ready to throw in the wok, and once they got in there, they only took about 7 minutes!

Spicy Steak Lettuce Wraps
Adapted from Simply Scratch
Serves 4

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Ingredients:

For the steak:
1 lb cube steak, diced
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp Sriracha
1.5 tbsp soy sauce
Juice of one lime
2 tbsp (for the marinade) coconut oil, melted+1 tsp coconut oil (for sauteing)
5 green onions, sliced
1 tbsp minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt
1 tbsp cornstarch
Lettuce leaves

For the cucumber relish:
1/2 cucumber, finely diced
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 small red onion, finely diced
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
Kosher salt

Directions:

1.  In a large bowl, whisk together the honey, melted coconut oil, Sriracha, lime juice, and soy sauce.

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2. Add the diced cube steak the bowl, and mix together to coat.  Let marinate, uncovered and on the counter, for at least 30 minutes.

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3. Meanwhile, do any small errands you need to, and then get to making the cucumber relish!  Combine the finely chopped cucumber, red bell pepper, and red onion in a bowl (with a lid so that you can store this later!) with the toasted sesame oil and a dash of salt.

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4.  Slice and mince the green onion, ginger, and garlic, if you haven’t already.  Once the 30 minutes are up, heat the remaining tsp of coconut oil in a large pan or wok over medium high heat and add your aromatics to the pan.  Saute for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.

5. Add in the chopped steak, with all the marinated juices and stir fry for 4-5 minutes until there is no more pink visible.  Then, mix in the tbsp of cornstarch and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.  You will notice that the sauce will begin to thicken and darken and will really coat the meat.  That’s what you’re looking for!  Season with some kosher salt!

6.  Put a lettuce leaf or two on a plate, and fill with the steak mixture, making sure not to overfill so that you can pick it up with your hands!  Top with as much or as little of the cucumber relish as you’d like!

Steak wraps and carrot soup!

Steak wraps and carrot soup!

Sriracha Steak Lettuce Wraps
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Lunch
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • For the steak:
  • 1 lb cube steak, diced
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp Sriracha
  • 1.5 tbsp soy sauce
  • Juice of one lime
  • 2 tbsp (for the marinade) coconut oil, melted+1 tsp coconut oil (for sauteing)
  • 5 green onions, sliced
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • Lettuce leaves
  • For the cucumber relish:
  • ½ cucumber, finely diced
  • ½ red bell pepper, finely diced
  • ½ small red onion, finely diced
  • ½ tsp toasted sesame oil
  • Kosher salt
Directions
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the honey, melted coconut oil, Sriracha, lime juice, and soy sauce.
  2. Add the diced cube steak the bowl, and mix together to coat. Let marinate, uncovered and on the counter, for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, do any small errands you need to, and then get to making the cucumber relish! Combine the finely chopped cucumber, red bell pepper, and red onion in a bowl (with a lid so that you can store this later!) with the toasted sesame oil and a dash of salt.
  4. Slice and mince the green onion, ginger, and garlic, if you haven't already. Once the 30 minutes are up, heat the remaining tsp of coconut oil in a large pan or wok over medium high heat and add your aromatics to the pan. Saute for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
  5. Add in the chopped steak, with all the marinated juices and stir fry for 4-5 minutes until there is no more pink visible. Then, mix in the tbsp of cornstarch and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes. You will notice that the sauce will begin to thicken and darken and will really coat the meat. That's what you're looking for! Season with some kosher salt!
  6. Put a lettuce leaf or two on a plate, and fill with the steak mixture, making sure not to overfill so that you can pick it up with your hands! Top with as much or as little of the cucumber relish as you'd like!

The Science of Spiciness

I like spicy foods.  I get it from my dad.  This video is a fun explanation of why we chose to put ourselves through eating spicy foods.  I can remember more than one occasion where my dad brings himself to tears and runny noses and still pushes through whatever he happens to be eating.  If you are the same (or know someone who is), watch the video to learn why!

 

Three Foodies and A Picky Eater: Birthday Edition

True to my word, I was the slightly obnoxious dining partner who took pictures of all her food at my birthday dinner on Friday.  I used to be a repeat offender of doing this, so I won’t pretend that I’m unfamiliar with the eye-rolls, but I have become more discerning in my old age and now try to keep it for meals that are particularly memorable.  And when the first course arrives and even Mr. Little Fish looks down at his plate and calls it beautiful, you know it’s gonna be memorable.

You may or may not know by now that Mr. Little Fish is not much of a foodie.  So it was with a little bit of nervousness that I suggested going to Restaurant Jezebel for my birthday dinner (after trying and failing to plan either weekend wine bus tours or restaurant tours–damn you SXSW!).  He was slightly skeptical about the price tag at first (so was I!), but once I started describing what I knew about the restaurant, he was sold by my excitement.  So we invited our friends K & M to join us on our fine dining excursion, and they happily agreed.

And when I say fine dining, I mean fine dining.  Sometimes it’s a weird feeling to realize that you aren’t a kid anymore, and sitting in suits and sexy cocktail dresses at a restaurant that only has 8 tables, and only seats those tables once per night, was one of those times.  Kinda feels like a dream I had to pinch myself awake from, or like I was a little girl wearing my mom’s shoes and clothes. Eventually though, our waiter arrived and we spent 10 minutes talking to him about what kinds of food we liked (all seafood; no venison for Mr. LF; haven’t had foie gras and slightly skeptical but willing to try; K isn’t an eggplant guy) and ordered a bottle of champagne and any imposter feelings faded away as we settled in to a delicious meal.

Our amuse bouche, or as I call it the pre-game meal before the actual meal, was a smoked paprika bread roll with two types of butter–goat cheese or smoked salmon–and olives marinated in an amazing balsamic reduction.  The balsamic reduction was drink-it-out-of-the-dish good.  The rest of the courses, in slideshow form (and sans individual reviews….just assume it was all phenomenal!):

I forgot to take a picture of the third course (duck and foie gras) because I was too excited to try it and ate it all before I remembered.  Also, sorry about the quality–I did try to minimize my obnoxiousness by trying not to use flash for the photos, which of course led to lesser quality photos.  By the end though, champagne doing its job+the restaurant being more or less cleared out=bring on the flash!

Anywho, big thanks to Mr. LF and K & M for the best birthday dinner ever!

 

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I am pretty darn proud of myself for actually following this Cooking Cure thing!  It is now Day 10, whose assignment is to shop for and cook your chosen recipe from your list, and I have officially completed every challenge of this Cure so far!  I’m gonna go ahead and unofficially add this to the list of things to celebrate at my super duper fancy birthday dinner tonight (P.S. doesn’t that place look amazing??  I’m probably gonna be That Girl and take pictures of all of my meals tonight, you know, for posterity. And for you guys!)!

Anywho, it’s very convenient for me that the cooking assignments are always on Fridays because I’m always off on Fridays, so that means that I get to choose something from my list that I can leisurely enjoy making.  For the lunch challenge, I choose to make the Carrot Coconut Soup.

And, you guys, this soup has to be one of the best smells that has ever graced my kitchen. And I’ve cooked a lot of delicious smelling things (this, for example).  I’ve never been to Thailand, but I imagine this is what it must smell like everywhere, which totally makes sense.

All you need for this recipe is butter, carrots, coconut milk, chicken broth (or vegetable if you want to make this vegan, in which case you should sub the butter for coconut oil), an onion, and Sriracha sauce (the original recipe called for sambal oelek, which I discovered is made by the same rooster company as Sriracha and supposed to be more simplified, buuuut I’m cheap so I used what I had).  That’s it!  In fact, I didn’t even bother peeling my carrots, since I’ve read a few times that most of the nutrition is in the peel, and I figured it was all gonna be blended anyway.  I did, however, scrub the hell out of them with my vegetable scrubber.

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The steps are even easier!  First, you chop up your carrots and dice your onion.  They don’t have to look pretty because they’re all gonna get blended, but you’ll want to chop everything fairly small so it cooks quickly.  Melt your butter in a medium saucepan over medium high heat, and throw the veggies in there with some salt and pepper.

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Then, once the carrots are soft enough to be pierced fairly easily with a fork, add in the coconut milk, the chicken broth, and 1 tbsp of Sriracha sauce.  Yummy. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat a little bit, and let it simmer for about 30-40 minutes, or until the veggies are reeeeally soft.

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Remove the soup from the heat (and don’t forget to turn it off!).  If you are using a regular blender, then you’ll want to let the soup cool for a good bit before pouring it in to blend it.  I’m terrible at pouring things, so I used my fancy schmancy immersion blender to blend it right in the pan until there were no more chunks!

Then I topped it with MOAR Sriracha, and I ate it with a leftover cabbage roll.  It was all so delicious and I will definitely be making this soup again!

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