Brunch: Tiramisu Pancakes and Kale and Egg Scramble

Weeks ago, I got an email from VegNews containing a recipe for Vegan Tiramisu Pancakes.  I immediately forwarded the email to Lindsey and a few girlfriends, and started planning when I could justify making such a decadent breakfast.  I ended up scheduling two brunches, since, unsurprisingly, a lot of my friends were intrigued.  The first of the two was last weekend.  I can’t wait for round 2, scheduled for Cinco de Mayo!

Brunch.  My favorite meal!

Brunch. My favorite meal!

Obviously, I have a bit of a brunch obsession.  My friend and I went all out.  We poured some mimosas, mixed up a colorful fruit salad with pears, clementines, blueberries, and rasperries, and made eggs with some of the vegetables I had on hand.  The resulting kale, onion, thyme, and egg scramble was delicious!  It was a great, savory dish to balance out the sweet pancakes.

Fruit salad

Fruit salad

Now about those pancakes…

I didn’t read the instructions thoroughly, so I overlooked the chill time in the whipped cream instructions.  Our coconut cream ended up as more of a syrup replacement than whipped cream.  While I recommend following the original instructions, our resulting cream tasted awesome, and added a bit of extra moisture to the pancakes.  We made a few other modifications, just based on the ingredients we had.  Some of them I will be repeating!

Pancakes and Eggs

Pancakes and Eggs

Vegan Tiramisu Pancakes

Recipe by Chloe Coscarelli, slightly modified

For the Coconut Whipped Cream

  • 13.5 ounce can full-fat coconut milk, chilled
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar, plus extra for dusting

For the Pancakes

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground hazelnut coffee*
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Malibu coconut rum**
  • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips (dairy-free), plus more for garnish
  • Canola oil, for greasing

*Original recipe: instant espresso powder

**Original recipe: dark rum

For the whipped cream, chill the bowl and whisk of a hand mixer in freezer for 10 minutes.  Skim the solidified cream from the can of coconut milk, and transfer solids to the bowl.  Do not include the coconut water.  Add powdered sugar and whip until cream begins to stiffen.  Chill whipped cream in an airtight container for 3 hours to 1 day before serving.

For the pancakes, whisk flour, baking powder, coffee/espresso, and salt in a large bowl.  In a small bowl, whisk water, maple syrup, and rum.  Add the wet mixture into the dry and mix until just combined.  Gently fold in the chocolate chips.  Do not overmix.

Lightly oil a large, nonstick skillet, and heat over medium-high heat.  Pour 1/4 cup of batter onto skillet, and cook until bubbles appear in center.  Flip with a spatula, and cook other side for about 1 minute, until golden-brown.  Repeat with remaining batter, adding more oil when needed.  If batter becomes too thick, add 1 tablespoon of water.

To serve, top pancakes with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of powdered sugar and chocolate chips.

So much to love

So much to love

We ended up with a lot of leftover coconut cream.  I threw some of it into the blender with fruit the next day for a tasty dessert smoothie.  Yum!

While I’m not a vegan, I enjoy vegan recipes.  I generally avoid dairy products, so vegan baking is usually safer for me.  After making (and devouring) these pancakes, I can’t wait to pick up a copy of Chloe’s book, Chloe’s Vegan Desserts!

What are your favorite brunch recipes?

New favorites

My new favorites

Happy eating!

-C

Oatmeal Wheatgerm Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sometimes I think I am the human incarnation of the Cookie Monster. “Me want cookie” all the time.

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I don’t just like eating cookies, I like baking them. They don’t take much time, but keep me occupied for long enough to clear my head. My mind has been racing for the past few weeks as I completed another round of auditions, accepted a new job offer, and re-entered the dating scene. All of these experiences and changes have given me lots to think about… and stress about… so I needed to zone out for a bit!

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Specialty’s Cafe & Bakery has an incredible Oatmeal Wheatgerm Chocolate Chip cookie. I like to pretend it is healthy (duh… oats and wheatgerm are good for you!), even though it’s loaded with sugar and is about the size of my hand. For my cookie therapy Monday afternoon, I decided to re-create this tantalizing treat.

After a successful first experience baking with coconut oil a couple weeks ago, I decided to use coconut oil instead of butter. The combination of coconut oil and wheatgerm gave the cookies a delicious nutty taste. Whole wheat flour, a dash of cinnamon, and Madagascar vanilla extract added more complexity. This is possibly my new favorite cookie recipe!

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Oatmeal Wheatgerm Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yields 5+ dozen cookies

  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup wheatgerm
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup melted coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease large baking sheets and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together oats, flour, wheatgerm, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt and set aside. In another large bowl, beat coconut oil and sugars together with an electric mixer. Beat in eggs and vanilla. On low speed, beat in the oat mixture until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Shape dough into 1-inch rounds and place on prepared baking sheets. Bake on center rack for 12 minutes. Cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

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Unless you have a lot of people to share these with, I recommend halving the recipe. Having 5 dozen delicious cookies on my hands is really challenging my self-control! I’ve split the remaining cookies into packs of 6 to give to friends/co-workers/random strangers tomorrow.

What are your favorite cookies?

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Since Easter is right around the corner, I busted out my bunny apron while I was baking and included it in my photos. As you may notice, this is the same apron Lindsey used in the Buckwheat Granola post. Shout out to Mama T, the giver of the bunny aprons!

Happy Eating!

-C

Touring and Tasting San Francisco

Last week, two of my best friends from Texas finally came to visit.  I’ve talked San Francisco up quite a bit over the years, so I knew they were arriving with high expectations.  One of my favorite things about San Francisco is the diversity of the city.  Each neighborhood is distinctly different, and I wanted to show them as many areas as possible.  We ate our way through the city, taking in the sights as we went.

San Francisco, from the Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco, from the Golden Gate Bridge

Day 1: Come Fly With Me

Before picking my friends up at the airport Wednesday night, I made a batch of banana muffins, using Jenna’s banana bread recipe as a guide.  If you have not yet read her book, White Jacket Required, I highly recommend it!  These little muffins were great to have available for breakfast or snacks while my friends were in town.

Banana Muffins

Banana Muffins

The girls arrived hungry after a long flight.  We dropped their luggage at my apartment, then went straight to the Blue Jay Cafe for dinner.  This colorful little spot serves up hearty comfort food at low prices.  They have an extensive side list, full of tasty options, so 2 of us ended up ordering plates of sides.  Our favorites were the mac and cheese and brussels sprouts, with sweet potato fries close behind.  We chatted the night away, finally falling into bed in the wee hours of the morning.

Day 2: Coffee, Carne, and Cacao

Cafe Au Lait

Cafe Au Lait

Thursday morning I had a client to see in the Financial District.  My friends came along and stopped at Coffee Bar, a small cafe that I frequent, while I went to the studio to teach.  As soon as I was through, we hit the ground running!  My roommate, another friend from Texas, joined us as we walked to the Ferry Building and grabbed lunch at Il Cane Rosso.  All 4 of us ordered the sunchoke soup.  I paired it with half a pork sandwich, and the girls both had half a beef brisket sandwich.  It was all delicious!

Pork Sandwich and Sunchoke Soup

Pork Sandwich and Sunchoke Soup

After perusing the shops at the Ferry Building, we continued up the Embarcadero to Tcho, my favorite chocolate maker in San Francisco.  I loved the chocolate tasting at Tcho after my tour a few months ago, and I was excited to experience it again.  The second tasting did not disappoint!  My friends liked the milk chocolate best, while I was partial to the “Nutty” dark chocolate.  This stop reminded one of my guests of a visit to Ghirardelli when she was a little girl.  We decided to make it a chocolate day, and continued walking to Ghirardelli Square.  We checked out the views from the square, rested briefly by a fire pit, then got some ice cream at the cafe.

Ghirardelli Square

Ghirardelli Square

I had planned to take the girls to Absinthe, but after a day of rich, sweet food, we were craving something a little lighter.  We ended up going to Lers Ros, also located in Hayes Valley, for Thai food instead.  We shared a green papaya salad with prawns, pad thai, and red curry with chicken.  By the time we walked home, we were all worn out!

Red Curry with Chicken

Red Curry with Chicken

Day 3: Around the World in 12 Hours

Anxious for something “normal”, I started Friday with coffee and a bowl of oatmeal at home before going to ballet class at ODC.  One of the Texas gals joined me, and we had a great time dancing together for the first time in 3 years.  The three of us teamed back up after class and went to lunch at La Boulange.  This French bakery has a number of locations in San Francisco.  It has good coffee, delicious pastries (almond croissants… mmmm), and nice salads and sandwiches.  My Nicoise salad was great, and the girls enjoyed their egg salad sandwich and quiche/soup combo.

Nicoise Salad

Nicoise Salad

We were joined by another dancer friend of mine, and journeyed through the Gates to China Town.  Spotting a familiar sign for free tea tasting, I led them into Vital Tea Leaf.  Lindsey and I had an amusing visit to this little store during her first visit to SF years ago.  Our favorite teas of the day were a rose green tea and lychee oolong.  The young woman helping us was full of information, and also full of smiles.  We hit the street again, taking in the sights and sounds of Chinatown.  Turning right on Jack Kerouac Alley, we ended up outside the famous City Lights Books.

Tea Tasting

Tea Tasting

We continued walking on Columbus Avenue, into North Beach.  After a little pick-me-up, AKA gelato, at a sweet shop, we walked up to Coit Tower.  We opted not to go inside, but we enjoyed walking around the tower, seeing the beautiful views of the City and the Bay.  Walking back down the hill, we stopped at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, arguably the best pizza in SF.  We shared a Cal Italia and a Margherita pizza.  All I can say is “YUM!”  The tour continued as we walked across Lombard Street to see the crooked block, consisting of 8 sharp turns.  Fun fact: Vermont Street is actually the most crooked street in San Francisco, though it is less of a tourist destination.

Cal Italia at Tony's

Cal Italia at Tony’s

The day concluded at the War Memorial Opera House, where we watched our friend perform with the renowned San Francisco Ballet.  The highlight of the program was Yuri Possokhov’s new Rite of Spring.  After the performance, we went to get a drink at Dobb’s Ferry with a couple dancers.

Coit Tower

Coit Tower

Day 4: It’s Always Sunny in the Castro

I had to neglect my post as tour guide on Saturday morning and go to work!  I met up with my friends to see the matinee performance of San Francisco Ballet’s Program 4.  I thought Scotch Symphony looked more solid than when I saw it last season, but my favorite piece of the day was Christopher Wheeldon’s Within the Golden Hour.  I was feeling restless after working at a desk all morning and sitting through the performance, so I was happy to move as we walked to the Castro.

Cosmos and Food

Cosmos and Food

My SF girlfriends and I used to frequent Cafe Flore to take advantage of their Saturday 2-for-1 special on Cosmos.  I was happy to share this spot with my Texas girls.  Cafe Flore has a a beautiful outdoor patio (with heat lamps), good food, and an entertaining staff.  After a drink and a late lunch/early dinner, we moved on to Hot Cookie.  As we ate our cookies, we continued wandering.  I gave a brief history lesson when we passed Harvey’s, but mostly stayed quiet as the girls took in the sometimes odd, but mostly awesome, neighborhood.

We ended the day at Cafe du Soleil, chatting over wine and coffee with a good local friend of mine and her out-of-town guest.  It was a great place to wind down!

Coffee

Coffee

Day 5: International Orange

Breakfast

Breakfast

The one thing my friends really wanted to do was walk across the Golden Gate Bridge.  Sunday morning, after grabbing coffee at Mojo Bicycle Cafe and pastries at the Divisadero Farmers’ Market, we made the trek to the bridge.  It was my first time to actually walk on the bridge!  I’ve biked across twice, but never have tackled it on foot.  It was a beautiful, sunny day, and we had a lovely walk across.  We wandered down through the Presidio, stopping to play around in Crissy Field, then went to the Marina.  Our first stop was lunch at The Grove.  After fueling up, we went window shopping.  We stopped at Kara’s Cupcakes for a treat before heading home to rest.  I had the special Bailey’s flavor, and my friends both had red velvet.  I want to play around with Bailey’s baked goods now!  It was so good.

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

My roommate joined us for dinner.  Tapas and sangria at Picaro!  We ordered calamares fritos, broccoli con almendras, pollo al ajillo, tortilla de patata, and patatas aioli.  The broccoli and tortilla de patata were my favorite dishes.  We had a great time catching up all together, and laughed a lot.  I’ve had some great nights at this restaurant, but Sunday will join the ranks as one of the best.  We moved on to Lion Pub, where we enjoyed some delicious margaritas.

Bailey's Cupcake

Bailey’s Cupcake

Farewell

We stopped at Cafe Abir Monday morning before driving to the airport.  I was sad to see them go, but was happy to have had so much time with them.  I hope they understand now why I love San Francisco!  We laughed a lot, ate a ton, and walked a grand total of 23 miles.  It was a wonderful few days!

San Francisco

San Francisco

Happy eating!

-C

{Happy Valentines Day!} Chocolate-Covered Cherry Oatmeal

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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I’m not a huge fan of this overly-commercialized holiday, but I am a big fan of chocolate (the darker, the better). So, any excuse to indulge in chocolate deserves at least a little bit of attention here on the blog.

It’s been a busy few weeks, with weekends spent driving between Charlottesville and D.C. to lead trainings with an organization I work with part-time, as well as lots of events at work and social outings with friends. This means extremely limited time spent in the kitchen, and thus, my Valentine’s Day treat came in the form of oatmeal, rather than something more exciting like cupcakes or brownies or cookies…

But, this oatmeal will not disappoint, and (bonus!) it’s healthy enough to be enjoyed any time! Featuring raw cacao powder, dried cherries, and almonds, this oatmeal is my next “fruit, nut, superfood” oatmeal combo. It was quite the treat to start my day!

close upRaw cacao is considered a superfood because of its high levels of minerals and antioxidants. It is one of the best sources of magnesium found in nature, in addition to containing high amounts calcium, zinc, iron, copper, sulfur, and potassium. It is different than cocoa powder, which has been heated and therefore has lost the majority of its nutrients. Head on over to Sarah B’s blog for more information on raw cacao and some tasty recipes.

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Chocolate-Covered Cherry Oatmeal

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 (heaping) Tablespoon raw cacao powder
  • 1/2 banana
  • 2 – 3 Tablespoons dried tart cherries
  • Almonds
  • Cacao nibs

Method

Combine oats and almond milk in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add cacao powder and whisk to combine. Thinly slice banana into the mixture and stir well. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally  While the oatmeal is cooking, add most of the cherries, reserving some for garnish. Transfer cooked oatmeal to bowl, and top with remaining cherries, chopped almonds, and cacao nibs.

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My favorite part of this oatmeal was probably the way the cherries added during cooking plumped up and became soft and juicy. The almonds and cacao nibs add great texture. The only sweetener is the emulsified banana, so feel free to add maple syrup, honey, or another sweetener of your choice if you prefer your oats on the sweeter side.

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For Valentine’s Day, I made a special tea blend for my husband with Adagio Teas. On our honeymoon, we stopped in a great little coffee shop in Santa Barbara and order a pot of tea. Upon tasting it, we both declared it the most delicious tea we had ever tasted, and promptly returned to the cash register to purchase a 1 pound bag to take home with us. We aren’t exactly sure what was in the mix, but we know there was black tea, little pieces of chocolate and little chunks of dried apple. We savored our tea for almost a year, and almost cried when we drank the last cup.

I was pretty excited when I realized I could attempt to recreate our tea with Adagio. So excited, in fact, I couldn’t wait until Valentine’s Day to give my husband his gift. We enjoyed our first mugs of our new tea last night, and while it may not be the “real thing,” it is pretty darn close! Adagio makes all custom blends available to others, so if you would like to try our tea for yourself, you can!  If you do order our “Buccaneer” Tea for yourself, please let me know what you think.

Hope you have a wonderful, chocolate-filled Valentine’s Day.

-L

Happy New Year! (Thank You, Blog World #8)

Happy New Year!

I hope your holidays have been full of good food, quality time with friends and family, and plenty of rest. After spending 5 lovely days in western Virginia with my in-laws for Christmas (where my phone does not get reception, and I more or less stayed off of the internet), my husband and I ventured to Texas for 4 days with my side of the family. Two Christmases, two parties, and countless football games later, I feel incredibly blessed at the amount of love that has been shared in the past two weeks.

And we have not gone hungry! Casey will be sharing some of our delicious meals tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Nicoise Salad

As we do on the first day of each month, it is my turn to say Thank You. First, I have to say thank you to all of you, our readers. We have been blogging for about 8 months now, and it has been such fun to share our stories and our food, and to have the support of all of you who read our little blog. Thank you for visiting, reading, and commenting.

Here are a few of the bloggers who have inspired me in the past month. Since it is January, the time of new year’s resolutions, my “thank you”s come with goals for myself.

Thank You, Blog World…

…for reconnecting me with the written word.

In the past two weeks, I have read 3 books, two of which have been written by bloggers!

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Shanna’s book was incredible. I couldn’t wait to read it once I purchased it (as in, I had to force myself to do work because all I wanted to do was read). I love her writing style, the recipes she shared, and of course, her story.

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My brother-in-law gave me Jenna’s book for Christmas, and I read the whole thing on the plane from Virginia to Texas! I have always toyed with the idea of going to culinary school one day, so I loved hearing about Jenna’s experience. When I got home, my mom had already been planning to bake banana bread, and I just had to try Jenna’s recipe, which included blackstrap molasses, an ingredient with which I am currently infatuated (more on this later).

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Husband approved, I will be making this bread again!

When I was in elementary school, I used to dream of being an author when I grew up. I have always loved to read and write, but I have not done nearly enough of either in recent years. My new years resolution is to read and write more often. Maybe one day I will write a memoir of my own… but for now, journaling will suffice. I often “write” in my head, but this year, I am going to make an effort to get my thoughts down on paper when the “writing mood” hits me.

…for teaching me about the nutritional value of ingredients.

I used to think that “nutrition facts” meant the amount of calories, fats, carbohydrates, or protein in a certain food. Sarah and Gena have shown me that nutrition is really so much more.

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Casey and I scouted out some not-so-typical ingredients so we could enjoy Sarah’s Superfood Haute Chocolate together yesterday. I really love the way she explains the health benefits of the ingredients. This was my first time tasting Maca Powder, and I can’t wait to find more creative uses for it.

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From Gena, I recently learned about the iron-packed goodness of blackstrap molasses (which I used in my gingerbread cookies!). I can’t wait to try her Raisin Almond Balls.

My new years resolution is to take time to learn more about the ingredients I use when I cook. Sarah’s library will be a great starting point, and I already have an Ayeurvedic cookbook and a “Food Dictionary” to consult. I hope you will enjoy learning about ingredients, too, as I share what I am learning with you in my posts.

You can check out our past 7 months of Thank You posts at these links:

Hope your 2013 is starting off well! What New Years Resolutions have you made for this year?

-L