HOMEMADE CHIA PODS: VANILLA CINNAMON, CHOCOLATE & BLUEBERRY (GLUTEN-FREE, DAIRY-FREE, & VEGETARIAN)

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Have you heard of Chia Pods? They’re these cute little things that look like yogurt, but they’re actually a chia seed pudding. A coworker of mine had them and I was intrigued, since chia seeds are the current “it” food and I’ll try anything to create an easy healthy eating habit that I can actually maintain. Okay, it might’ve been the really cute packaging (that little orange spoon in the lid!) that caught my eye but still. The healthy factor still stands. I hunted the Chia Pods down at our local Fresh Market, but YOWZA. I was kind of taken aback by the price. They run $3-3.60 per pod here in Columbus, depending on where you shop. I used to think the Fage Greek yogurt w/ honey thingies were expensive at $1.50 a pop, but I think I eventually just got used to the price. Is $3/pod not that bad and I’m prematurely freaking out b/c I’m an occasional cheapskate? Maybe? But I tried one anyway. I thought “I’ll try it, see how I like it, and if I’m obsessed then I’ll figure something out.”

Well, I tried it. It was good. I wasn’t like OH MY GOD I’M IN LOVE but I was in love with the healthy aspects of this little thing. Chia seeds are packed with Omega-3s, and according to the company’s website, one pod contains your daily recommended dose of Omega-3’s. Take that! That’s pretty awesome. Plus, there’s fiber and protein. The other thing I love? They’re made with simple, real ingredients. SO SIMPLE, in fact, that I saw the side of the container where the ingredients were listed and thought “Really? That’s it?? Hell, I could make this myself.” So I did just that. I can’t remember if I did it that night or the next day, but I knew I had chia seeds sitting around, some almond milk in the fridge, and really, everything else on top would be a bonus.

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I started out slow. I used 1/4 cup chia seeds and slowly added liquid. First 1/4 cup almond milk, then I let it sit. A few minutes later, I had a cemented lump of chia. Not what I was going for. Bring on another 1/4 cup of almond milk…then another 1/4 cup… and pretty soon, I was at just over 1 cup of almond milk. A sprinkle of cinnamon, a little honey, and by golly, it was actually really good. I even added a 1/2 tsp of instant coffee, being inspired by the Coffee Bean flavor of Chia Pod. I divided the mixture into little jars and let them gel overnight. The next day, I had a pretty satisfying chia snack that’s an awesome copycat of the store-bought Chia Pod. After making the first batch, I tested my next versions, refined the proportions, and had a recipe for chocolate and blueberry chia puddings.

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While these things still aren’t “cheap,” (because chia seeds are kind of ‘spendy) they are a lot more sensible on the pocketbook, especially if you have 15 minutes in your schedule for prep. And yes, they really do only take about 15 minutes—amazing, right? I have three recipes for you. I like to think of the Vanilla Cinnamon as a good “base” recipe (minus the cinnamon, if need be) if you want to play around with flavor variations. Feel free to experiment and figure out other combinations!

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::: VANILLA CINNAMON CHIA PUDDING POD :::

Yield: 3 – almost 4 oz (just under 1/2 cup)

• 1 cup + 2 tbsp vanilla-flavored almond milk (Note: if you want to use unsweetened or “original” flavored almond milk, just increase the amount of honey you use)
• 1/4 cup chia seeds
• 1 1/2 tsp local honey
• 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Pour almond milk into medium bowl. Sprinkle chia seeds into almond milk, stirring well. Add honey and cinnamon, stirring for 1-2 minutes to make sure everything is incorporated. Let sit for 5 minutes, to allow chia seeds to start the swelling process. Pour mixture into a large measuring cup and pour into 4-oz mason jars. You will yield 3 jars that are just slightly under 1/2 cup in volume. Let jars sit several hours or overnight before eating. 

— • — • —

::: CHOCOLATE CHIA PUDDING POD :::
Yield: 3 – almost 4 oz (just under 1/2 cup)

• 1 cup + 2 tbsp vanilla-flavored almond milk (Note: if you want to use unsweetened or “original” flavored almond milk, just increase the amount of honey you use)
• 1/4 cup chia seeds
• 1 1/2 tsp local honey
• 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

Repeat same process as above, replacing cinnamon with cocoa powder.

— • — • —

::: BLUEBERRY CHIA PUDDING POD :::
Yield: 4 – almost 4 oz (just under 1/2 cup)

• 3/4 cup blueberries (about 115 g by weight)
• 1 cup + 1/4 cup vanilla flavored almond milk (Note: if you want to use unsweetened or “original” flavored almond milk, just increase the amount of honey you use)
• 1/4 cup chia seeds
• 4 1/2 tsp local honey

Puree blueberries in food processor, adding almond milk. Pour mixture into medium bowl. Sprinkle chia seeds into blueberry/almond milk mixture, stirring well. Add honey, stirring for 1-2 minutes to make sure everything is incorporated. Let sit for 5 minutes, to allow chia seeds to start the swelling process. Pour mixture into a large measuring cup and pour into 4-oz mason jars. You will yield 4 jars that are just slightly under 1/2 cup in volume. Let jars sit several hours or overnight before eating.

I know, they look pretty weird. They look like funny little fish eggs or frog eggs or whatever you want to call them. The texture is jiggly and hilarious, but promise me to just give it a chance. I don’t eat tapioca pudding but supposedly they’re kind of like tapioca pudding. They’re smooth, but ever so slightly crunchy. I mean, for the health benefits and simple ingredients? How can you NOT give them a whirl??? Make yourself a batch and let me know what you think. And better yet, try your own variation and share what you created!

CURIOUS TRAVELER SHANDY

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I’m not a big beer person. I mean, I like beer just fine. When it’s football season, sure. Hand me a cold brewski (does saying “cold brewski” make me incredibly uncool??? #rollingwithit). But even then, I’m more likely to have a bottle of wine in tow. Most of the time, I ignore it. I just don’t care. I want wine, whiskey, or gin. When summer rolls around though, and all those lighter, crisper, citrus-y summer beers come out, I get a little excited—I’m not going to lie. I love a cold glass of Goose Island’s Sofie—it’s so tart and bubbly, like a beer champagne. Dogfish Head’s Festina Peche??? Yessssss SO GOOD. And now there’s a new fave in our hearts. A little guy called Curious Traveler Shandy, from Traveler Beer Co. Curious Traveler is America’s first craft/artisinal shandy! Cool, huh? It’s a wheat ale brewed with fresh lemon and lime for a powerful-but-smooth, citrus-y, lemonade-y beer hybrid.

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We first tried it at a local tap room in our neighborhood, Zauber Brewing. Short story: Zauber brews their own beer, but due to certain restrictions, the amount they can brew is super limited for the time being, and therefore sells out super fast. This was one of those times—the only beers on tap were everything but their house brews. That’s fine by me, because that led to us trying Curious Traveler on draught (accessorized with a rather delightfully handle, I might add!). It’s been love ever since. We took home a small growler that day. The other thing I love about this beer is that the ABV is only 4.4%, which to me means I can drink it for awhile on a sweltering hot, summer day without getting knocked over the head with a sneakily super strong beer, like some craft beers tend to do. As you all know, we like our strong drinks! But when the heat is on and the sun is out, it’s nice to have something a little lighter if you’re chillin’ at a barbecue. A girl needs to maintain, you know what I’m sayin’?

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There are a few more flavors in the Traveler family, two of which are summery: Illusive Traveler, a grapefruit shandy, and Time Traveler, a strawberry shandy. I don’t care how girly these beers sound, I am psyched to try them and so is George. I’m 99.9% sure we’re going to try hunting one down today, and if not today, within the next day or two. I’m dying for the Illusive grapefruit shandy. I love—nay—I adore grapefruit, and anytime something is grapefruit-flavored my taste buds immediately send a “OOH OOH!!!! ME! ME!” signal to my brain. I can’t help it anymore, so I just embrace it. But if we only come across the strawberry Time Traveler Shandy, I’ll be just as thrilled!

When we find our next Traveler companion, we will be sure to report back! In the meantime, do yourself a favor and hunt down these shandies down. Give them a whirl, and let us know what you think. Better yet, tell us this—what’s your favorite summertime brew that we should try? 

MINT JULEP: THE OFFICIAL COCKTAIL OF THE KENTUCKY DERBY & OUR WEDDING

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You know what’s hard to believe? In one week, George and I will have been officially married for one year. I guess it’s really not that hard to believe, considering we’ve been together for what will be nine years later in May. We got married on the first Saturday in May last year, which also happened to be the day of the Kentucky Derby. We chose it purposefully. I wanted a May wedding (nice weather, my favorite flowers, blah blah blah) and every other weekend in May is something else. The second weekend is Mother’s Day. Didn’t want to overlap that. My birthday falls on the 19th. Didn’t want to overlap that. Then you have Memorial Day somewhere in there, so the first weekend + the Derby was perfect. It works out well because we love the Derby anyway. Neither of us are horse people, but a fancy fussy sporting event with its very own designated drink? Hells yes! Let’s embrace it and have some Derby-tastic fun at this thing, amiright? So we did. We projected “the fastest two minutes in sports” just as our reception officially started (we didn’t want to miss the race just because we tied the knot!), and our wedding toast—instead of bubbly—was a mint julep.

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In honor of the Derby next week (and our 1st anniversary as a couple of “Marrieds”), we’re going to clink glasses and cheers with a Mint Julep today. That way you have a full week to practice your muddling so you’re ready for Saturday! I warn you now—buy your mint in advance. If you wait until Saturday the grocery stores will be out of stock. Trust me, I speak from experience!! The drink below makes one cocktail, but it’s an easy one to multiply. We also suggest you make a mint simple syrup, but it will still be delicious if you use regular simple syrup instead.

Oh yeah, and those snazzy personalized wooden swizzle sticks? Those are from my best friend and maid of honor. She took our wedding logo I created for our invitations, and had them made for my bridal shower. Such a fabulous touch, don’t you think?

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::: MINT JULEP :::
Makes 1 drink

• 6-8 mint leaves
• 1-2 extra mint leaves for garnish
• 1 tsp white sugar
• 2 tsp mint simple syrup (recipe follows)
• 2 oz whiskey or bourbon
• 3 oz club soda
• crushed ice

Muddle mint leaves, sugar, and syrup in cocktail glass. Top with crushed ice. Add whiskey and top with club soda. Garnish with mint leaves.

::: Mint Simple Syrup ::::
Adapted from Martha Stewart

• 1 cup sugar
• 1 cup water
• 1 bunch of fresh mint (4 oz or more)

In medium sauce pan, combine water, sugar, and mint leaves. Stir often and dissolve the sugar. Continue cooking for 5 minutes after sugar is dissolved. Let the leaves steep for 15-20 minutes, then strain leaves from syrup. Make sure to compress the leaves to strain them well! I have found the best way to keep simple syrup is in a mason jar in the refrigerator.

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PRETZEL BROWNIE PIE

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Happy Birthday, George! Except, not really. George’s birthday was a few weeks ago. He’s an early April baby, an Aries, who shares a birthday with Hugh Hefner, Dennis Quaid, and Blair Waldorf herself Leighton Meester. And this Aries loooves his brownies. He’s probably one of the few guys out there who will choose to make brownies from scratch on a Saturday night just because he’s craving them something fierce. I always bake him something for his birthday and, as usual, this year I asked him if he wants anything specific. He didn’t really have an answer for me so I jumped in with “…because I saw this recipe and kind of wanted to try it.” It was a brownie. It was a pie. And it was from the previously mentioned cookbook Favorite Brand Name Baking that had the super delicious Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie. After the success of that pie, I was itching to try this “Decadent Brownie Pie” recipe. I was particularly intrigued because instead of flour it called for biscuit mix. Interesting, no? I don’t know why that sounded so interesting to me, but I was just dying to see how that would affect the flavor and texture.

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Luckily George was game, so the Saturday before his actual birthday (he would be traveling for work on the real day) I got to work in the kitchen. And of course, I changed a few things. The pie recipe calls for a typical pie crust, just like the Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie did. And we both said “Yeah, no, that sounds lame,” just like we did for the Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie. This time, I made a crust out of pretzels and store-bought shortbread cookies. It seemed more fitting, and the salt from the pretzel crust would be perfect with the chocolate. I wanted to mix it with shortbread cookies because a) the buttery flavor would add a subtle richness and b) the cookies would pulverize to a smaller crumb that the pretzel wouldn’t be able to fully achieve.

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And that gooey stuff? Yeah, that’s chocolate ganache. Say it with me now: guh-NOSH. I make a mean chocolate ganache that would even make cardboard delicious (okay, maybe that’s a little drastic). Ganache, if you’re not familiar, is a mixture of heavy cream and melted chocolate to create a liquidy chocolate sauce. You can make it a thick or thin as you like, depending on the ratio of cream to chocolate. While ice cream is always welcome, the real topping you want for this pie is the ganache. Just trust me on this. The brownie has a lighter, milkier chocolate flavor (yes, even if you use bittersweet chocolate. I used 62% from Ghirardelli). The ganache’s darker chocolate flavor and warm, gooey texture marries so well with the pie and really makes it sing. Plus, ganache could not be easier to make. For today’s purposes, I’ll lead you to a link online for ganache because I want to cover my ganache recipe in another lesson another day. (Yes, it will be worth the wait!)

The pie is actually better the second day, if that makes any sort of sense. Normally that’s the kind of thing you say about chili, not baked goods, right? But that’s what happened. If you store it in an airtight container, the flavors and moistness of the pie get to mingle a little longer and get absorbed into the entire pie. I would NOT store it with ganache, since it has dairy. Keep the ganache in a separate container, store it in the refrigerator and heat it in the microwave for a few seconds as needed. If you drizzle it over the entire pie and don’t end up consuming the whole thing like you thought you might, then just keep the whole pie in the fridge (airtight container still applies!).

Alright, that’s enough of that. Let’s get to the good stuff.

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::: PRETZEL BROWNIE PIE :::

CRUST:
• 2 cups pretzel sticks
• 10 shortbread cookies
• 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
• 2 TBSP sugar

PIE:
• 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (approx 6 oz by weight)
• 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
• 1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
• 1/2 cup biscuit baking mix (I used Pioneer brand)
• 2 eggs
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1 cup chopped nuts (OPTIONAL! I did not use these. While I like nuts, I don’t like them getting in the way of my homogenous brownie texture, but to each his own!)

1. Preheat oven to 325°.

2. Make the crust. Spray your desired pan (pie pan or springform) with non-stick cooking spray. Measure out your pretzels and cookies, then pulse in a food processor until you have a fine crumb.

3. Melt the butter. Mix melted butter and sugar with pretzel and cookie crumbs. If you need more melted butter to get it to stick together, then knock yourself out.

4. Press mixture to bottom and sides of pan.

5. Next, melt chocolate chips with butter over low heat (or slowly in microwave, in increments of 30 seconds. Stir in between.).

6. In bowl of electric mixer, beat chocolate mixture with sweetened condensed milk, eggs, vanilla, and biscuit mix. Mix until smooth. Pour into pie crust.

7. Bake for 35-40 minutes.

8. While the pie is baking it’s time to make the ganache! I trust Ina Garten’s recipe, but reduce the ingredients by half. You won’t need the entire amount for this pie.

9. Serve the pie warm or at room temperature. Top with warm ganache and ice cream. Dig in. Enjoy the chocolatey coma.

What do you guys normally do for birthdays? Do you demand the traditional cake, or do you like to venture outside the box?

EASY-PEASY RASPBERRY CREAM CHEESE CRESCENT DANISH

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That was George’s response after he took his first bite. I’d say that’s a pretty solid endorsement, wouldn’t you?

I decided to make this pastry one recent Saturday morning. I wasn’t expecting miracles, or even applause, but I’m pretty sure I could’ve convinced George to buy me a Louis Vuitton bag after he took his first bite (ok, maybe not a Louis but I could’ve finagled some Tory Burch sunglasses out of it at least). I’m calling this an Easy-Peasy Raspberry Cream Cheese Crescent Danish, but it could also be called “How to impress your guests without really trying.” I’m telling you, this is reeeaaally easy. And ridiculously tasty. I generally keep a roll or two of Pillsbury Crescent dough in the refrigerator because you never know when it might come in handy. We don’t eat it very often (due to calories, or the “Lord only knows where this processed deliciousness came from” factor) but sometimes you just have to do it. This was one of those times.

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It’s the perfect thing to make for overnight guests because it requires just a few ingredients that you can assemble pretty quickly. The scent of it baking is intoxicating and they’ll be dying to dive in. And if they’re anything like my husband, they just might come a little too close to actually burying their face in it. With Easter just around the corner, it’s the perfect thing for breakfast that morning for your family (or just you, so you don’t have to share).

I’m not the first to think of this recipe, as there are bunches of very similar variations floating around the interweb. I did, however, up the fancy factor by adding a layer of fruity goodness. I prefer fruit danishes myself, and I had some jam and raspberries hanging out in my fridge. Why not make it a party?

When you’re buying the ingredients, look for the full sheet of Crescent dough as opposed to the kind that’s already cut into the classic 8 triangles. Not that you couldn’t use the 8 triangles in a pinch, but it will just be a bit easier with a solid sheet.

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::: EASY-PEASY RASPBERRY CREAM CHEESE CRESCENT DANISH:::

• 2 cans Pillsbury Crescent Roll, full sheet dough
• 1/2 c raspberry jam
• 1/2 c raspberries
• 1 tsp sugar
• 2 (8oz) packages cream cheese (softened)
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 1/3 cup butter (melted)
• Cinnamon & sugar
• Honey (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Heat the fresh berries in a small saucepan over medium heat with 1 tsp of sugar (white, demerrara, coconut palm, your preference). You don’t want to cook them down to jam, but you want to loosen them up, mash them, incorporate the sugar and get their oozy juices flowing. This will only take about 5 minutes.
3. Combine cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl.
4. Unroll and spread 1 can crescent dough on bottom of lightly sprayed 9 x 13 pan.
5. Spread with 1/2 c jam of your preference. I’m generally a blackberry or raspberry girl. If using fresh berries, top the jam with the berries.
6. Spread cream cheese mixture over top of jam layer.
7. Unroll and spread remaining crescent rolls over mixture. Spread melted butter over the top and sprinkle with plenty of cinnamon and sugar.
8. Bake at 350° for 20-30 minutes. Let pan cool on wire cooling rack. WARNING! Don’t cut into them until they’re at room temperature (or you know, as close to room temperature as you can manage before letting temptation get the best of you ;-)). If you cut them while they’re too hot, the inner layers of jam and cream cheese will ooze out into a big ol’ mess and we don’t want that.
10. Cut them diagonally, cut them into squares, whatever your preference. Diagonals look fancy, but it creates weird shaped tiny pieces that are leftover. Annoying, or awesome pieces the cook gets to sneak behind the scenes? You decide.
11. I didn’t do it because it didn’t dawn on me at the time, but you could drizzle a little honey over them before serving. Hello, decadence. (Also: looks fancy, not hard. High five.)

If you don’t want to use raspberries, you could replace with strawberries, blackberries, maybe even blueberries (though those suckers I’d want to puree and cook down). You could even cook down some apples and brown sugar as your fruit layer. Bananas, too! See the possibilities? Endless!

RADIO SILENCE

*Alternate Title: Here, There, & Everywhere

We’re still here! We’re still here y’all, I promise!!!! I haven’t posted in a very long time. We need a signal or auto post or something for when our lives get consumed. Basically, real life just got a little too cray cray. In the past 2.5 weeks I’ve been in Chicago, Milwaukee, New York, and now some little town in Tennesee (so no, we’re not in Nashville pretending to be Rayna James and Deacon Claybourne/Luke Wheeler/whoever-her-love-interest-is-at-the-moment). Most of the travel has been work-related, but some is for family. And while we still cooked and baked and cocktailed, we just didn’t have any opportunities to edit photos and write posts. AND IT BUMS ME OUT. So here we are. We’re back, we’re alive. Hopefully I’ll have some time to get back to posting. I have one ready that I’ll publish tomorrow.

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In the meantime, enjoy some photos of the almost-12 hours I spent in NYC! Some highlights:

• Said hello to my friend, the Flatiron Building (my college internship was in the neighborhood, so I feel like we’re buds).

• Stopped in Dylan’s Candy Bar. Discovered that there is a candy called Fruity Farts. No, that is not a typo. And FYI, they’re just kind of like Nerds, but without the zingy flavor. Think crunchy sugary candy bits.

• Some views from Top of the Rock (i.e. 30 Rockefeller Center, home of NBC).

• While sitting on a patio at a restaurant right next to Rock Center, someone sort of famous popped by. Anyone watch The Today Show? Or other NBC newsy programs? NBC’s Jeff Rossen just happened to meet up w/ a friend who was sitting right next to our table. Totally random. Definitely took a creeper shot. Sorry, Jeff. It’s not every day I see a real life Today Show person (and for the record, George and I watch The Today Show every morning).

• While on that same patio, my travel buddy and I ordered yellowfin steak tacos and sriracha mayo shrimp. Both unexpectedly really darn good. You might see our own version of the shrimp pop-up in the future.

So that’s about it. Expect some baked goodness to go up tomorrow. And in the meantime, I’m going to enjoy a glass of white wine like my good friend Jeff is up above.

KITCHEN COVET LIST: CITRUS ART PRINTS

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It’s the end of March. It’s a beautiful day. The sun is shining and makes it seem really warm but you know what? It’s a stupid liar, that sun. It’s back to being cold. What?! WHY?!? I’m getting a little antsy for spring to stick around, just like the rest of you. I was doing fine all winter. Normally I get fed up at the end of January but no, not this year! This year I was holding out just fiiiine. All the snow, all the gray, it wasn’t bothering me one bit. Somehow, I was the only one. It was wonderful. But now that we’ve had little bites of spring—spring-flavored appetizers, if you will—I want the full course. I want warmer days with drinks on a patio, dammit, but I’d be happy to start with a consistent 55° temperature. So in the meantime, I’ll just keep my puffer vest handy while waiting for Al Roker to tell me it’s finally warm outside.

We’re going to try something a little different today. We’re going to talk about something else I really like. Home stuff. Decor. Pretty things.

Who doesn’t like pretty things?

These pretty things just happen to be food related. I really love the idea of sprucing up the kitchen with colorful, quirky prints to bring some personality and warmth into the space. Who said kitchen decor has to be relegated to subway tiles, cutting boards, and fruit bowls?? (Truth: I do love a good subway tile.) The colors of these prints are bright, optimistic, and make me crave a snappy, crisp drink like a gin gimlet or a limey mojito! While I don’t have room in my current kitchen, they might make their way into the dining room at some point. And if they do, I will update you lovely folks with a picture. Will they make their way into your home, too? Scroll to the bottom for the sources.

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1. CITRUS PRINT SET | Watersounds Etsy Shop by Sarah Abbott: Don’t you love these graphic fruits? The simple details combined with the flowy curved branches feels elegant and modern while still being fun. The prints in the set are small, but they’re also available as individual, larger pieces, like the lemon print here.

2. WINE ANATOMY PRINT – CHARDONNAY | Anek Etsy Shop: For the winos out there. While chardonnay isn’t necessarily citrus, it can share a flavor palette! Plus, the overlapping shapes and textures are as delicious as the drink.

3. CITRUS PRINT | Rifle Paper Co: Rifle Paper Co. has become quite the little darling in the paper world within the past few years and it’s easy to see why. Their watercolor illustrations are, well, just that—darling. My favorite part of this print is the inclusion of the pink. I’m a sucker for that pretty grapefruit hue!

ZUCCHINI KALE POTATO PANCAKES

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Y’all, I have been posting nothing but JUNK for the past few weeks. Junk, junk, junk. Don’t get me wrong. That junk is DELICIOUS, but it’s junk food, I’m not going to lie. I don’t eat junk all the time. I promise. So even though it’s not exactly health food, I’m going with something a little better this time. At least it’ll be real food and not just baked goods (which are still my favorite topic. It runs through my veins, I can’t help it).

You know what I love? Potatoes. Who doesn’t, amiright? Mash ‘em, fry ‘em, bake ‘em, scallop ‘em—I love them all, except for those au gratin ones (ML + cheese = yuck. Sorry.). My father instilled a love of potato pancakes in me when I was young. I don’t quite know why. It’s not a family tradition or anything, but we are Polish so I’m just going to assume the connection stems from there. Though we didn’t make them that often (probably only once or twice, really), I remember grating a bunch of potatoes with our metal box grater and it was a total labor-intensive mess. But you know what? These days I have a food processor and that food processor has a disk that grates things. Hallelujah!

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This potato/zucchini mash-up version has been circulating in my brain for awhile, but I just never made them a reality. (I mean, as much as I love potato pancakes, how often do I really need to eat them?) It also seemed like the perfect opportunity to throw some kale in there. I’ll admit, we’re still pretty unexperienced with it comes to kale. I’m intrigued by kale. I want to like kale. And it’s not that I don’t like it, but I just don’t know what to do with it. When you buy it you just get SO MUCH and we’re always like “Sooo…what do we do with the rest of this kale?” It only goes so far in salads. Hiding it in other foods seems perfect. I went easy on the amount since this was my first trial, but I’ll cover that more in the notes. Secondly, there’s beer in the “batter.” I actually got the idea from Martha Stewart. I couldn’t remember if potato pancakes required a lot or a little flour, so I wanted to scout out some other recipes for research. Martha Stewart adds a little beer, which helps to make a mixture like this a little lighter. So you know what I said? “Why the heck not?!”

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I went light on the amount of kale. I used 1 1/2 cups (torn into small pieces) in my recipe because I didn't know how it would affect the taste. It barely affects the potato-y-ness (yes, that is a technical term). You could easily bump it to 2 cups. Healthy stuff! Ka-pow!
This recipe is not gluten-free, but I believe it easily could be. Instead of using AP flour, replace it with another gluten-free flour of your choice (buckwheat, chick pea, you tell me). Instead of beer, use club soda. All the recipe really needs is a little bubbly carbonation.
Remember my garlic-infused olive oil and butter mixture? From the Pizza Baklava? That's what I used to lightly fry these little gems. Seems like a good use, no? If you want to make it, then knock yourself out. If not, then using vegetable oil is a-ok, too.
I made my pancakes in the 3-4" range. You could definitely make them smaller for a cute party appetizer with applesauce and sour cream as dips. The quantities of ingredients in this recipe are very easy to manipulate (i.e.: double, cut in half, etc). Making smaller pancakes would also be super fun for kids!

ZucchiniKalePotatoPancakes_031614-Details

: : : ZUCCHINI KALE POTATO PANCAKES : : :
Yields: 15 – 3″ pancakes

• 1/2 zucchini, peeled
• 1 russet potato, peeled
• 1 1/2 – 2 cups small pieces Tuscan kale (use lesser if you’re nervous, more if you seriously <3 the kale)
• 1/2 medium yellow onion, peeled
• 1 egg, beaten
• 2 TBSP flour
• 1 tsp kosher salt
• 1/2 tsp black pepper
• 1 oz beer (Yes, seriously just 1 oz. But that just means you get to drink more!)
• garlic-infused olive oil/butter mixture or vegetable oil for cooking
• sour cream and/or applesauce – optional – for serving

1. Tend to the kale. Remove the leaves from the thick ribs. Set aside.

2. When the zucchini, potato, and onion are all peeled, divide into two piles: the grate pile and whiz pile. You will grate the zucchini and potato in the food processor. As for the onion and kale, you’ll just whiz those into little pieces, also in the food processor. This is why the food processor is your best friend for this recipe.

ZucchiniKalePotatoPancakes_GrateWhiz

3. Grate the zucchini and potato. Place in large bowl. If you end up with large chunks of zucchini or potato that didn’t get grated due to the physics of your food processor, no problem! Add them to the “whiz” bunch. Whiz the onion and kale in the food processor, then place them in the same bowl. Mix content together (honestly, I found my hands the most efficient way to do this).

4. Add the other ingredients: the beaten egg, flour, salt, pepper, and the beer. Mix thoroughly.

5. Heat a very large non-stick page over medium-high heat. Place 1 TBSP of oil/butter mixture OR 2 TBSP vegetable oil. When pan and oil are hot, carefully place pancake mixture in pan. A heaping tablespoon will give you a pretty solid 3.5″ pancake. Spread it out so it’s not too thick. I used my 12.5″ ScanPan for the job and fit about 5 in the pan at a time.

ZucchiniKalePotatoPancakes_031614_-063-web

6. Fry each side for 3-4 minutes, or until toasty, delicious, crispy brown.

7. Remove from pan onto cookie sheet lined with paper towels to sop up the extra oil.

8. Serve immediately. If not serving immediately, then heat in the oven to bring back their crispy qualities.

After I was finished cranking them out, I gave the first bite to George. He took a second to analyze them but then cheerfully said “This is nice!” Not sure whether or not he was trying to be polite to his wife or if they’re actually legit, I took the next bite. They make the potato pancake lover in me VERY happy. And knowing that theres a lot of zucchini and some kale in here, I feel much better about eating them! We stored some in the freezer for guests next weekend (side note: I hope this freezing this works! #nervousface). I can’t wait to break them out for breakfast and serve them with a poached or sunny-side up egg. Can you imagine this with a runny egg yolk??? Oh, sweet baby Jesus that sounds divine!