Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pumpkin Pancakes: Halloween Eve Dinner

Halloween falls on a Sunday this year, so that means 3 nights of Halloween FUN. Getting ready...costume, make-up, rush, rush, rush. What is fast, easy, and not too heavy...Pumpkin-Walnut-Whole Wheat-Flax Pancakes with a little maple syrup.
Let's face it, you'll be noshing all night. You don't want to eat too heavy, but don't arrive to the party starving. My usual pre-party snack of choice is a handful of nuts and a cocktail. I had a little time and (cheaters pancake mix) a bag of Bisquick. I know, homemade is better, but we had a box left over from the camping stuff my son left behind. If you want a great pumpkin pancake recipe made from scratch, click here. I have a great recipe, but if you are in a rush, replace half the milk with pureed pumpkin, add a dash of pumpkin spice, a little vanilla extract, a handful of chopped walnuts, a tablespoon of flax (or more). Mix, add milk if the batter is too dry (depends on how much flax you add), butter you hot skillet, and you are seconds away from a delicious Halloween Eve Pre-funct dinner!

I made mine earlier, so I could focus on getting my costume together.

Happy Halloween Eve everyone!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

My Muffin Love

So, I got away from making my weekly muffins, but I'm getting back into it again. I have to admit, when I started working outside of the home again and started thinking of my son moving away for college, I just lost interested in a lot of stuff. Anyway, I still love muffins. I love making new flavors and types. I think every home should smell like muffins. I need to have muffins around again. Muffins, Muffins, Muffins.

The nice thing about muffins is that you don't need a lot of "ingredients" to make them.
We always have bananas, ground flax, and walnuts in the freezer, so...
Banana-Flax-Walnut Whole Wheat Muffins
1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
3/4 c ground flax seeds
1/4 c light brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground clove
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 c canola oil
1/4 c reduced fat milk
3 ripe bananas*, mashed
1/2 c walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift all dry ingredients, excluding the walnuts. Mix wet ingredients, including the bananas

Stir the liquids in the dry ingredients. Fold in the walnuts. If the batter is too dry, add more milk. Pour into 12 paper-lined muffin cups.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

*I use defrosted frozen bananas. Sometimes I will freeze bananas with their peels on. When I know I will be making something with bananas, I will let them sit overnight to defrost. When the bananas are frozen in the peel, they do not get freezer burned and squeeze right out of their skin.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Chocolate Class at Oh Chocolate!

Have you been to Oh Chocolate! in the Bellevue Square Mall? You need to go...ADORABLE!

If you are lucky enough to attend one of their chocolate making classes, you are in for a BIG treat.

You're greeted with a yummy cup of hot chocolate, which is a cup of chocolate LOVE.

Everyone in the class gets a plate of chocolate. There was so much chocolate, I thought we were all suppose to share.
First taste, chocolate nibs. We need to rub these tiny pieces if cocoa between our hands to warm them up, then pop them in our mouthes. The recations were mixed. I loved the subtle taste of chocloate hidden in the ground up cooca beans. Very interesting.

The nibs, which do not have a big chocolate taste are often found in mole, good mole!

Chocolate Liquor. If there was a 100% cocoa in a bar, this would be close. Very little if any sugar. Not bitter, but a very strong taste of chocolate.
OK, do not mistake this for the disgusting, bitter bars we all know and have been using for years for brownies.
Milk Chocolate.
Cocoa Butter and White Chocolate Chips.

Chris was our tour guide through the world of chocolate. Chris is the grandson of the woman who started Oh Chocolate! A trained chef, Chris creates many of the new varieties of chocolates at Oh Chocolate!

Nick is Chris' brother another creative mind behind the new Oh Chocolate! flavors. I met Nick at the Taste of Bellevue, this past summer. The Oh Chocolate! booth was so popular, it was almost unfair to the other vendors.

I met up with Nick again at a recent Bellevue Collection breakfast meeting, Oh Chocolate! was being featured to all as a great example of a successful family run business.

After a little lesson in tempering the "hot" chocolate, we were all left to create whatever choclate YUMMIES we wanted.

So, I wasnt so creative, I was too busy eating everything I made.

I stopped myself from a chocolate coma and managed to make some chocolate treats for my husband. Who was the popular girl? Me.
Thank you Oh Chocolate! for offering Chocolate 101. I might have to take the class again.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Battle of the Sonoran Hotdog: El Guero Canelo

So I went there for the Sonoran Dog, so that's what I got. One wierd thing...there was a little condiment cart with "canned" mushrooms, shredded cheddar, and packets of ketchup. There was a sign that said, "For hotdogs only". I didn't get the mushrooms, but ok. OK, here's all the condiments. How do you choose, right? I think I picked 4 things. Don't ask me what anything was, no labels. Mystery, yes, awesome selection , YES!!!

I had a tamarindo drink to go with my YUMMY Sonoran Hot dog. YUMMY!!!
So, who has the better Sonoran Hot Dog. I'll have to come back for another visit to decide.
This was the original "hotdog" cart. Now El Guero Canelo has a nice covered space.

El Guero Canelo on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Battle of the Sonoran Hotdog: BK Carne Asada, & Hot Dogs Steakhouse

Fan of Food Wars? I love the show. A few months ago there was an episode featuring 2 Sonoran Hot Dog places in Tucson, AZ. My son was leaving for University of Arizona soon, so I had to check out these hot dog places.
On a recent visit to Tucson, I was running errands with my son, still trying to figure out my way around. We were driving and noticed there was a drive-thru. We were in a rush, so we thought, "Let's turn around and go there for a quick bite". I didn't want to eat in my cousin's freshly vacuumed and washed car, so we parked and went in.

My son ordered the Sonoran Hot Dog. I ordered the Combo #3. To be honest, I didn't really know what I ordered. I knew there was a beef taco included, I can't remember what the other thing was, but the "quesadilla" look-alike, was YUMMY!
I really liked my meal, however, I wished I ordered the Sonoran Hot dog. Why? Because I didn't realize until I bit into my taco, "Wait, is this one of the places on Food Wars??! Darn it. Well, I will be returning to Tucson, AZ very soon, so to be continued...

BK's Carne Asada and Hot Dogs (Central Tucson) on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 15, 2010

Barrio Brewing Co. ~ A little trip to Tucson, AZ

That's right microbrews in the dessert. Of course, I was totally skeptical. The test is always in the IPA. If it's decent, then they pass. I have to admit...not bad. As a matter of fact, I liked everything about Barrio Brewing Co in Tucson. Great building and cool interior. I wish they was one in Seattle, I'd hang out there all the time.

I had a late lunch before having a late dinner at Barrio Brewing. We started with an order of Beer Sponges, aka big fat pretzels. Hot, salty, chewy...YUM. My son and I split a Ruben Sandwich. It was ok, the marbled rye was good. Could have used a little more meat, but we were at a brewery, so can't complain.
I guess I was so in love with the space, I didn't really care about the food. Make sense?

Barrio Brewing on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 2, 2010

El Gaucho: Bananas Foster

I recently had my wisdom tooth pulled. Not fun. I can only have soft food. On the first day, all I could swallow was apple juice, water, apple sauce and Lipton Chicken Noodle soup. YUCK.

The next day, I went to work. Thank God I work at a restaurant, ice cream is always available. I had a big huge bowl of Raspberry Sorbet. I can have a smoothie, but can only eat it with a spoon. Did I mention, I can't sip from a straw or it will mess up the healing process in my mouth. YIPES.

OK, so what is the food I am craving, besides a steak, bread and butter? Bananas Foster from El Gaucho. If I didn't have a big bruise on my swollen jaw, I'd head to El Gaucho right now for the sweet, warm, cold, delicious, banana, vanilla ice cream mess.
I love the whole tableside preformance that comes with the Bananas Foster. It's like watching Mickey Mouse on Fantasia...ha, ha, but you know what I mean.

El Gaucho on a recent visit with my favorite date. We'll be in soon!!!


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