Oh, that’s not how the saying goes? Well, that’s definitely how it went this weekend.
If you’ve not heard, the skies that hover above NYC—the same ones that just a day before had begun to resemble the likes of springtime—decided to open up wide and bestow a violent deluge upon its city.
Blackouts (not the recreational sort), floods and fallen trees, oh my.
Fear not, mis foodies. I’m safe. Such would be the prone outcome of spending the entire weekend en mi casa.
As soon as I realized that the outside mundo meant monsoons and the possibility of death by fallen willow trees (bet you didn’t know we had those in Brooklyn…), I made the executive decision to have a homebody fin de semana.
I did not make the executive decision to go on a baking spree. That just, uh, happened. (Likely, this was my subconscious attempt to lure social interaction into the comforts of mi casa. It worked, in case you were wondering. Slash I wanted to confirm that I did not eat all of the following comida on my own .)
It started off innocently enough with some non-baking.
As soon as I saw this recipe on Jessica’s site, I knew I needed to make it.
Chocolate banana bites? Bueno. It was the peanut butter topping that wooed me.
And rather quickly so.
I read her post at 6 p.m. on Friday. By 6:28 p.m., I’d decided to embrace my inner PB floozy and concoct those little bites of perfection. (I don’t have a freaky photographic memory [though I was infinitely envious of Cam Jansen during my childhood]. I know the exact time because I tweeted Jessica for some PB advice.)
Dark chocolate, peanut butter, banana bliss.
I’d highly recommend my peanut butter topping of choice: White Chocolate Wonderful. If you’ve ever tasted White Chocolate Wonderful, you know it tastes exactly like the inside of a Reese’s. Therein, you understand exactly why it took this little frozen bite to magically delicious heights.
For the full recipe—not to mention far more photogenic documentation of the chocolate banana bites—check out Jessica’s post. (Warning: If you don’t want to go on a baking spree like me, don’t peruse her recipe page.)
Post-banana biteage, I decided to take on baking (or, uh, sweets) project numero dos.
This came in the form of blondies. Because my propensity for chocolate is a very recent development in mi vida, I’ve always turned to blondies as my brownies substitute.
These days, I’m an equal opportunity employer. But I still have to play a little favoritism with mis blondies. After all, they saved me from being that kid who didn’t like dessert.
Dried Cherry Blondies
Adapted from How to Cook Everything
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. fine ground sea salt
1 cup dried bing cherries
Spray a 9×13 pan with baking spray, and pre-heat oven to 325°F.
Melt butter and mix with brown sugar until smooth.
Whisk in eggs and vanilla.
Mix in flour and salt. Fold in dried cherries (or any other nut, dried fruit or chocolate additions).
- Pour into pan, and bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Or, if you like a gooey center, doesn’t come out clean ).
Let cool before cutting.
The nuttiness of the whole wheat flour and the sweet caramel flavor of the brown sugar combined with the tart chewiness of the bing cherries made it imposible to stop at one.
And because bing cherries are so plump and sticky, there were a few fortunate blondie squares that played host to cherry clumps. And a few fortunate foodies who got to bite into those wondrous clumps .
White Chocolate Wonderful may have made an encore appearance as frosting for a few of these—which, needless to say, worked brilliantly.
You’d think banana biteage and bing-filled blondies would’ve effectively sent me into a sugar coma. But you’d be wrong.
El baking continued.
Proyecto numero tres hailed, again, from the mind/sweet tooth of Jessica.
Seriously, I strongly advise against browsing her recipes unless you have a desire to (a) drool on your keyboard and then practice a masochistic amount of self-restraint in your decision to not commence baking or (b) drool on your keyboard and surrender to a baking bender.
Either way, mind your keyboard.
After mucho recipe perusal/droolage, I adapted her recipe for cream cheese chocolate chip cookies.
Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cherry Cookies
1 cup butter, room temperature
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
1.5 cups sugar
2.5 cups flour
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tsp. salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup dried bing cherries, chopped
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Mix butter, sugar, eggs and cream cheese together. Add vanilla and mix. Stir in flour and salt. Fold in chocolate chips and dried cherries.
Bake for 12-15 minutes until edges are golden brown.
I basically kept the recipe the same, but tweaked the flour, cream cheese and sugar amounts to see if I could get a sweeter, more cream-cheesy cookie. (Many reviews I’d read of this recipe—including Jessica’s—said the cookie wasn’t quite sweet enough. And I, personally, adore all things cream queso so I knew I wanted to amp up its prominence.)
First things first—the batter was heavenly. It tasted like icing—which made it difficult to not eat spoonful after spoonful.
The cookies—despite the long list of naughty ingredients that went into them—were actually very light tasting. And their consistency was cake-like. (This, I think, was a result of my flour/sugar/cream cheese tweaking.)
They benefited greatly from a little icing action. I may have enlisted the leftover batter for icing purposes.
Oh, you’re not supposed to eat raw eggs? Oops.
And, again, White Chocolate Wonderful icing worked brilliantly.
You’d think my productivity in the kitchen—which, by the way, is the phrasing I’m using to describe this baking binge—would have extended into the realm of creating, um, more diabetic-friendly eats (read: real food). But, again, you’d be wrong.
While I had an uncanny motivation to wear my Pillsbury dough boy hat en la cocina all weekend long, I had no desire or energy to concoct any real food.
I blame the monsoon. You see, I knew that many New Yorkers were experiencing power outages—thus being forced to order in all of their meals. So, being the empathic chica that I am, despite having full power, I wanted to share the powerless sorrows of my fellow New Yorkers.
Yes, that must have been it.
I commiserated with a Mediterranean feast from First Oasis, where you’ve seen me eat before.
The feast commenced with the vegetarian combination platter.
With a pile of fluffy pita for dippage
Stuffed grape leaves and falafel
Also on the appetizer front…
Spinach Pie: Fresh spinach, onion, garlic, feta cheese, herbs, walnuts, spices, and olive oil baked in filo dough
Chicken and lamb kebabs (none of this guy for me, though)
With rice and steamed veggies
And my personal favorite…
Mussakka: Fried eggplant, tomatoes, onion, green pepper, potatoes baked in tomato sauce w/ mozzarella cheese served w/ house rice.
Sometimes you just need a night off from kitchen duties.
Sometimes you need two.
Ethnic feast numero dos, brought to you by Chopstix, included chicken dumplings, chicken and Chinese eggplant in garlic sauce and chow fun.
Come Sunday morning, I was ready to part ways with all things baked and taken-out. Yep, that sugar (slash general food abundance) coma finally hit me, and all I wanted was a big, comforting bowl of oats.
Enter Chai Latte Oats. This is a recipe I’ve been dreaming up ever since I first became enthralled by the art of concOATions (you know, oat concoctions).
Chai lattes have a special place in my heart because they were my cafe drink of choice before I became a coffee person.
Yes, the coffee monster that stands before you today once detested anything that hailed from or mimicked the flavor of coffee beans. College quickly changed that. But prior to acquiring coffee-friendly taste buds—courtesy of many all-nighters of coffee chugging—I always ordered a vanilla chai latte when I found myself in a “I’m the only one not drinking coffee” social situation.
But enough of my coffee and chai saga, I present to you…
Chai Latte Oats
1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup oat bran (I used Hodgson Mill, my current favorite)
1/2 cup egg whites, whisked
1 and 1/4 cup vanilla almond milk
1/2 tsp. sea salt, divided
1 bag Tazo Organic Chai tea
1 tablespoon honey
1/8 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. ground flaxseeds
- Bring almond milk and 1/4 tsp. sea salt to a slow boil in a saucepan and add teabag. Let simmer for 5-8 minutes, stirring to make sure a milk “skin” doesn’t form.
- Add the oats, oat bran, vanilla and honey and cook on medium low heat for about 8 minutes—or until your desired consistency is almost reached.
- Turn heat very low and slowly add whisked egg whites. Whisk in and cook on low for at least 5 minutes. When your desired consistency is reached, stir in flaxseeds.
- Transfer to bowl. Douse in cinnamon. Sprinkle with remaining sea salt. And add a drizzle more of honey, agave or another sweetener, if you want a super sweet chai bowl.
I know that seems like a ton of work for a bowl of oatmeal, but I promise you, it’s worth it.
The result? The creamiest, most flavor-packed bowl of oats ever.
The creaminess that surrounded the oats had the perfect balance of sweet honey and vanilla and spicy chai—and the cinnamon, honey and sea salt topping was the proverbial cherry on top.
(A side note: you know you’ve spent too much time photographing your comida when it begins gathering feathers…)
All mixed together—it became even more apparent that the texture of this oat bowl rivaled that of a thick rice pudding.
Verdict: chai latte oatmeal > chai latte.
I’m not sure exactly what made this bowl of oats so fantastic—I’m thinking the texture was a result of slow-cooking and the whisked egg whites—but I know that I am going to experiment with jazzed up (hello, perfect backdrop for dried cherries and golden raisins galore) editions whenever a lazy Sunday permits.
I urge you to do the same.
On that aggressive note, I’m off to spend el día with everyone’s favorite explorer. Happy martes, amigas!