Friday, January 16, 2015

Whole grain peanut butter cake topped with sour cherries


When I got home last night, I knew I had an easy task ahead: making a couple of tuna sandwiches for dinner. Not a big deal. Not only tuna salads are extremely easy to make, but the fact that I’ve made them hundreds of times gives me the confidence to say I could do one with my eyes closed. I had one little problem though: I was out of mayo. A normal person would’ve gone with one of the following options: buy mayonnaise, use a different condiment, or ditch the tuna altogether and make something else. But the key word in that sentence was NORMAL, which I’m not. Instead, I decided to make my own mayonnaise, even though I’ve never done so before.

Half an hour and a full sink later, I had a salty, broken mayonnaise. It was terrible. But I wasn’t too frustrated. I taught myself to cook; I’ve gone through worst disasters. I am resilient though; I try, I fail, I try again. It’s my proven formula. 


Many people are terrified of baking, but not me. After trying-failing-and tying again several times, I’ve gotten used to the ratios of ingredients, and the consistencies of batters. Once you let go of the fear of failing, you quickly realize how easy it is to follow a recipe, and to eventually come up with your own.

Today I’ll share this cake I made for breakfast. The cake itself was made from 100% whole wheat and peanut butter. It has a wonderful consistency and a luscious taste. To give it more of a peanut butter and jelly profile, I topped it with sour cherries. I know, sour cherry season is still far away, so I used sour cherries canned in water. I admit, they have a bit of a pale look. But I tossed them in sour cherry syrup, and topped them with powdered sugar, and they actually taste really nice. I poured the extra syrup over the cake to soak it. After resting overnight, the whole cake tasted like peanut butter and sour cherries, and the cake was moist and juicy. 


I know you heard the words peanut butter, sugar and syrup. Still, this cake it’s not a calorie bomb. Au contraire, this breakfast cake stands at a mere 189 calories per serving! Pair it with coffee, and it’s the perfect start to your day.

On the road shortcut

Nutrional info per serving (6 servings)
189 calories, 32 g carbs, 6 g fat, 6 g protein

Cake
1 jumbo egg
2 oz. (about ¼ cup) sugar
2 oz. (about 4 tablespoon) honey roasted peanut butter
½ teaspoon vanilla
Pinch salt
2 oz. (about 7 tablespoon) whole wheat flour

Topping
2 cups sour cherries packed in water, drained
1 tablespoon sour cherry syrup
2 tablespoon powdered sugar

Make the cake.
Preheat an oven to 350F. Grease a 5” iron skillet with butter.

Using a mixer, beat the egg and sugar together on medium-high speed until it fluffs and expand to 3 times its size (about 3 minutes). Add the vanilla and the peanut butter, and continue mixing until they are incorporated. Using a wooden spoon, incorporate the flour until mixed. Pour the batter in the iron skillet, and bake for 20 minutes (or when a toothpick comes out clean). Once baked, cool the cake for about 5 minutes before removing from the skillet to cool.

For the topping
Toss the sour cherries in the syrup. Top the cake with the cherries and the syrup. Top with 1 tablespoon of powder sugar. Leave the cake soaking overnight, and coat with the second tablespoon of powdered sugar just before serving.

(If you don’t want to soak the cake, top the cake with the sour cherries without transferring the syrup they were tossed in).

Monday, January 5, 2015

Hash browns with eggs



 
As a kid, I didn’t really understand what was it about fries and eggs that my father loved so much. I may have been as round as a balloon back then, but I have to say I actually fancied the “healthier” breakfast alternatives. Oatmeal, boiled eggs, maybe cereal and milk. Nothing fried. I mean, I would eat the fries, and the fried eggs, but they weren’t particularly enticing to me. Not to mention, that having potatoes for breakfast rarely crossed my mind.


As a teenager, I went on a high school field trip, a good 2 hours away from us. We stopped at a Burger King for breakfast where I ordered scramble eggs, pancakes, and hash browns. I took my food to their patio, but I had to go back in for some ketchup and other condiments. When I returned, I was utterly surprised to see a Goddamn bird sitting on my hash browns while eating my pancakes! What the hell! I started cursing, yelling, and throwing ketchup, salt, and pepper packs to the birds, who’d flown way beyond my reach by then. In the meanwhile, the rest of the people were looking at me from the inside of the restaurant, filled with confusion as they tried to understand the strange ritual that balloon-kid was performing behind the glass wall. Stupid birds.


My little incident didn’t bring me any closer to eating and fancying hash browns. I did, however, start making them often (in the last few years) as a quick side dish for dinner. They require minimal prep work and are done fairly quickly; more importantly, they are delicious, and low in calories, so making them is a no brainer.


For the recipe I’m sharing today, I went easy and simple; it’s my peace offering after all the overeating I’ve done this holiday season. I sautéed the hash browns with a few cloves of garlic to infuse them with that beautiful garlic flavor; I kept and ate the garlic at the end because I love to do so. I served my hash with sunny side eggs, no ketchup. I learned the lessons those birds thought me years ago. 


On the road shortcut
Makes 2 servings
484 calories, 40 g carbs, 27 g fat, 21 g protein

2 tablespoon corn oil (divided in half)
5 cloves garlic, peeled
2 medium baking potatoes (sliced in ¼ inch sticks)
4 jumbo eggs
Optional: dill to garnish

On a nonstick frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of corn oil over medium-high heat.

Season the potatoes with salt and pepper to taste (I used about a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper). When the oil is hot, add the potatoes and the garlic. Cover and cook until a fork easily goes through the potatoes (about 15-20 minutes), sautéing every 3-4 minutes to prevent the potatoes from burning. Remove the potatoes from the pan and save until you are ready to serve.  (Note: I keep the potatoes in the oven - warming cycle at 170F, but a pre-warmed plate should do. If you don’t mind your hash browns cooling down, just set them aside on a dish.) Add more salt and/or pepper if necessary.

Return the frying pan to medium high heat, and add the other tablespoon of oil. After a minute, add the eggs. Fry them to your liking (I did sunny side up). Top the hash browns with the fried eggs.

Optional: Garnish with dill.


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

5 lessons from 2014



Although every day is a great day to look back and learn from our past, I feel the end of the year provides us with the perfect opportunity to reflect on our dreams, our accomplishments, and the goals that lie ahead. It’s also an ideal time to take a minute and reflect on the lessons we’ve learned, to find ways of implementing them in the times to come. They may say out with the old, and in with the new, but here are 5 lessons from 2014 I’d like all of us to carry on for years to come.

It’s all about that bass…
Whether you liked it or not, this was probably the hottest song of the summer/fall. But besides the catchy lyrics and the upbeat music, the song makes a really good point: be happy with who you are. Life is too short to waste it on body issues. I may be quite far from having a six pack, but I’m a really healthy and really happy man. Anything else is just icing on the cake. (Hmmmm. Cake…)

All lives are valuable
Tamir Rice. Michael Brown. Eric Garner. These are the names of this year’s boy, teenager and man killed by police while being unarmed and black. It’s nothing new. Hopefully their blood was not spilled in vain, and it leads to a time when we value the lives of EVERYONE the SAME. It was equally outrageous to have officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu executed by a psycho. Once again, these tragedies only reinforce what my mama says: EVERY LIFE is PRECIOUS.

There’s no need to be cruel
When thousands of unaccompanied Central American minors crossed the Mexico-US border, some idiots went protesting and shouting at these kids, who fled severe violence in their countries. Even worst, there were allegations of cruel treatment at the immigration facilities they were detained at. The people opposing the (remote) possibility of these kids staying in the US had no need to be cruel to get their point across. They could’ve just called their legislators, or their senators, and state their opposition. The US had policies in place that were implemented, and the minor crisis was controlled.

Technology has its limits
We are an advance society; there’s no doubt about that. But even with all of our technology Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 just vanished during a routine flight, and we have not being able to locate the airplane (or its remains) yet. This tragedy reminded me to enjoy the technological advances I have access to, without over-depending on them. Also, won’t let any of my devises distract me from the actual people around me.

Don’t give in to fear
A horrible, horrible disease has killed many in Africa. The fear of a possible Ebola outbreak in the US left thousands terrified, and many actions were taken out of fear, not facts. It’s important to be cautious, but beware: acting on fear may makes us more vulnerable than safe.