Tag Archives: peanut butter

Peanut Miso Kale Chips – A New Favorite!

kale miso 2

A couple of years back, I did a post on these Kale Chips, but I’m here to tell you today that I’ve vastly improved them! These are the most delectable Kale Chips ever, and if they were sold in a bag, I’m sure they would fetch the usual $5.00 or so price tag for just a mere handful! The flavor is as wonderful as ever, but I discovered that using Tuscan Kale, removing every single hint of stem, and a new cooking method takes these chips to a higher level.

Tuscan Kale is the kind of kale with flat leaves, unlike their curly leafed cousin.

kale trimmed

I trim each leaf with kitchen shears, and save the stems. I cut the stems into short pieces, or process in a food processor and steam for later usage.

kale with scissors

Kale in steamer -- steam for about 10-12 minutes depending on how chewy you like it.

Kale stems in steamer — steam for about 10-12 minutes depending on how chewy you like it.

I mix together the sauce ingredients in a bowl:

peanut sauce

Then coat the kale leaves completely. It is OK if there is just a hint of the sauce on the leaves — it packs a flavorful punch and a little goes a long way!

Spread kale out in a single layer on lined baking sheets. Put in a preheated 375 F degree oven. Turn off oven and let sit for 30-60 minutes, checking after 20 minutes.

The chips are perfectly crisp with no brown edges!

kale miso

If you want an even faster recipe, just make the kale chips without the sauce. Cooking time is 20 minutes. I like to spray with olive oil and season with kosher salt.

kale

Look how thin it is!

Look how thin it is!

These chips keep in an air tight container for about two days, and they stay crisp! I have also tried them with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast (parmesan would probably taste better, but if you want to go vegan…) and taco seasoning.

kale-chip-with-yeast

kale with yeast 2

My favorite is the peanut miso flavor though! 🙂 Have a try and let me know what you think. Which do you like best?

Peanut Butter and Miso Glazed Kale Chips

1 tablespoon peanut butter

1 teaspoon miso paste

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon mirin (or rice wine vinegar if you don’t have it)

2 teaspoons water

A large bunch of Tuscan Kale

non-stick spray

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment or foil. Spray foil with non-stick spray. Set aside.

2.  Wash kale leaves and pat dry. Then cut away each side of the stem per leaf, reserving leaf parts. Save stems for later use (I like to chop mine and steam them).

3.  In a large bowl whisk together peanut butter, miso paste, soy sauce, and mirin with a whisk. Add water and whisk until smooth. Throw in kale leaves and coat and massage with clean hands to get the sauce on all of the leaves. Spread leaves in a single layer on lined baking sheets. Spray with non-stick spray. You will have extra. You can save these to bake for another time. Turn off oven.

4.  Place baking sheets in oven and let sit for one hour. Halfway through baking, stir the leaves and turn over.

5.  When chips are crisp, transfer to a plate and let cool completely.

Plain Kale Chips

1 bunch Tuscan Kale

non-stick spray

kosher salt to taste

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment or foil. Spray foil with non-stick spray. Set aside.

2.  Wash kale leaves and pat dry. Then cut away each side of the stem per leaf, reserving leaf parts. Save stems for later use (I like to chop mine and steam them).

3.  Spread leaves in a single layer on lined baking sheets. Spray with non-stick spray. You will have extra. You can save these to bake for another time. Season with kosher salt. Turn off oven.

4.  Place baking sheets in oven and let sit for 20 minutes, checking after 12 minutes.

5.  When chips are crisp, transfer to a plate and let cool completely.

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Filed under Appetizers, Gluten Free, Sides

Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter Protein Bars

up close

I did a fasting blood sugar test the other day.  I knew I was going to be out and about until lunch.  I knew I didn’t want to grabbing something along the way after the test, so I made these protein bars before I left the house.

You can pretty much put whatever you want in them, but this is what I used:  Chocolate Protein Powder (I used Double Chocolate Designer’s Whey because my husband uses it every day), peanut butter, oats, and almond milk.

in bowl

I mixed the ingredients together in a bowl.

on coconut

Then I divided the mixture into four parts and shaped each one into a log and coated it with coconut so it wouldn’t be too sticky.

shaped bars on coconut

Then I wrapped them up in saran and threw them in the freezer until I was ready to leave.

wrapped

I ate two after my test, and they held me over until lunch several hours later. 🙂

They would be good with nuts or seeds or dried fruit added.  You’d just need to adjust the almond milk (or other liquid) to get the right consistency.  I think these taste WAY better than store bought protein bars, which I think taste either too sweet, artificial, or chalky.  Try it next time you need something on the go!

These are the general values (general because I didn’t weigh the coconut before and after coating — you will have a pile of leftover coconut):

For one bar-

Calories:  106  Fat: 7.4 g  Protein:  14 g   Carbs:  4.4 g  Fiber:  1 g  Sugars:  1 g

With a penny to give you an idea of the size

With a penny to give you an idea of the size

Coconut Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bars

1 scoop protein powder (I use Double Chocolate Designer’s Whey) (32g)

2 tablespoons peanut butter (64 g)

1 tablespoon rolled oats

1 tablespoon almond milk or other liquid

¼ cup dried unsweetened coconut (you will have leftover)

  1. Mix protein powder, peanut butter, rolled oats together.  Add almond milk and stir until mixture is a thick paste.
  2. Spread dried coconut on a plate and dump mixture on top.  Divide into 4 pieces (if you want mini bars) 2 pieces (if you want 2 small bars) or shape into one large log (if you want a large bar).
  3. As you shape log, roll in dried coconut (it will help to keep the chocolate from sticking to your fingers) and shape into flat rectangles.  Wrap each piece in saran.
  4. Store bars in freezer or refrigerator depending on whether you want them on the crunchy or chewy side.  Note, they will still be somewhat chewy after 24 hours in the freezer, especially if they are larger.  After that though, they get crunchy.  I like to store mine in the freezer so that when I pack them for on the go, they thaw a bit and are ready to eat when I am!

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Filed under Books, Breakfast, Snack, Vegetarian

Peanut Butter Chewy Granola Bars


Ok, so I meant to post this earlier, but I’ve been completely distracted by the recent events.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to people in the surrounding areas hit by Sandy.  Hats off to the relief effort!  The workers, leaders, and neighbors have been amazing.

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Pre-hurricane, Jamie and I made these granola bars to bring to a play date.  They aren’t the healthiest granola bars — they’re more like healthier Rice Krispie Treats!   Instead of marshmallows and butter, I used peanut butter, honey, coconut oil, brown sugar.  Then mixed it with oats, almonds in addition to rice cereal.  Super easy to make, with no baking required.

I went through about four iterations, and I like this ratio of oats, rice cereal, sweetness and chew the best.  Hope you do too!

Dry ingredients: oats, rice cereal, sliced almonds

Wet ingredients: honey, peanut butter, coconut oil, brown sugar

Pressed into pan.

Cut into bars

Peanut Butter Chewy Granola Bars

¾ cups old fashioned oats

1 ½ cups rice cereal

¼ cup toasted, sliced almonds

1 tablespoon coconut oil (or other oil or melted butter)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/3 cup honey

1/3 cup peanut butter (I use the natural, goopy kind – TJ creamy, salted)

1/3 cup chocolate chips

  1. Mix oats, cereal and almonds in a large bowl.  Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, brown sugar, honey and peanut butter until incorporated.  Pour over dry ingredients in big bowl.  Mix to coat.  Stir in chocolate chips.
  3. Transfer mixture to a 8-inch by 8-inch pan lined with foil or parchment paper.  Press down firmly and pack into pan in an even layer of  granola.  Chill in refrigerator for about an hour.
  4. Cut into 10 bars (cut square in half, then into fifths).
  5. Wrap each bar in saran wrap.  They are great on the go!

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Filed under Children, Desserts, Snack, Vegetarian

Healthy Desserts for Kids

Chocolate, banana, spinach smoothie!

Awhile ago, during the summer (those days seem far away!), I had the opportunity to join Katherine Lee of about.com in her kitchen for a fun afternoon of cooking and filming!

Katherine has a wonderful parenting blog on about.com, and she invited me to contribute some healthy dessert ideas for kids.  We made everything in her kitchen and the lovely Meredith filmed us.  It was a blast and such a different experience from what I am usually doing during the day in my studio!  She treated us to a fabulous sushi lunch, and we munched on the desserts we made throughout the day.  🙂

My favorite Double Chocolate Zucchini, Banana Bread with Secret Ingredient is one of the recipes featured.

Can you guess what the secret ingredient is?

Check out the video on how to make it here.
Other super easy, practically-not-cooking recipes are:
Peanut Butter Truffles!  Remember this post?
Video is here.
Frozen Yogurt Grapes:
I never did a post about it, but the recipe is in the video.
Banana Soft Serve (minus the Magic Shell!):

All natural goodness — just bananas and a splash of milk!

Chocolate version seen here in the video.

And last, but not least:  Chocolate, Banana, Spinach Smoothie  

This the one video I never want Jamie to see, because he drinks this all the time!  It is a great after school snack.  The spinach has absolutely no flavor in the smoothie, and he has no idea I sneak it in. I sometimes use frozen spinach which adds to the creaminess of the smoothie along with the frozen banana!

Video and recipe are here.

Hope you enjoy these recipes — they are all really easy to make and are pretty healthy considering they are desserts!

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Filed under Breakfast, Children, Desserts, Snack, Vegetarian

Asian Chicken Salad with Peanut Sauce and Soba Noodles


Last week, we’ve so enjoyed having my mom visit us from California.  She came to celebrate her 82nd birthday. 🙂

Denis did not photoshop this photo. His comment: What 82 year old woman has that jaw line!??

Other than when we took her to visit Denis’ lovely parents in Shelter Island, she’s been in our garden weeding, picking up leaves, pruning plants–basically working her green thumb magic on it (which I sadly did not inherit)!

I wish I had “before” pictures to contrast this with! There were less flowers all around, and the rocks and back were covered in leaves and weeds!

We call her the Energizer Bunny.

Instead of eating out, she preferred me to cook “things from [my] blog” for her, so all week, I prepared various dishes for her and revisiting some old recipes.

Lots of smoothies:

A ton of sushi, of course (click on each image for recipe):

With Miso Soup:

For her 82nd birthday which was the same day as Father’s Day, I made Reese’s Pieces and M & M waffles for brunch using our trusty Cadbury Egg Waffle recipe:

I bought a small bag each of Reese’s Pieces and plain M & Ms and scattered them on the batter before cooking in waffle iron.

And Crispy Fish Tempura Bites for dinner:

with Miso Green Beans:

And Rich Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting for dessert:

I used a double amount of  Chocolate Ganache Frosting in place of this frosting

Other meals were quick Chicken Quesadillas using cooked rotisserie chicken (after a long day of shopping–not much time to cook!):

I filled ours with cooked chicken, cheese, onions, and salsa

and Creamy High Protein Avocado Dip:

I discovered I don’t have to spend a lot of time searching for favorite recipes anymore — I can just do a search on my blog!

For her last night here, I decided to make something special and created my version of a chicken salad with peanut sauce, because she had mentioned she had had a great one awhile back during her many travels.  It is a quick and easy when you have leftover cooked chicken! We used more of the rotisserie chicken.  I also used my favorite peanut sauce recipe using roasted peanut flour (if you can’t find this, just peanut butter is fine–use this recipe instead minus sesame seeds) and coated cooked soba noodles and chicken with it (angel hair or vermicelli would work too).  Then I made a salad with shredded Napa cabbage, romaine lettuce, shredded carrot, julienned daikon radish, cilantro, green onions, and snow peas.  I topped the salad with the peanut sauce coated noodles and cooked chicken and garnished with more chopped cilantro and chopped roasted peanuts.

It was really good!  We had leftover sauce which I diluted with a bit of rice vinegar and used as a salad dressing over the course of the week –sans mom.  😦
We miss you obaachan! (Japanese for “grandma”)  Thank you for all your hard work here!!


Asian Chicken Salad with Soba Noodles and Peanut Sauce

Peanut Sauce:

¼ cup peanut butter (or 1 tablespoon peanut butter plus ½ cup peanut flour and 2 tablespoons water)

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon ginger, minced

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Salad Greens:

4 cups shredded Napa cabbage

2 cups shredded Romaine lettuce

1 cup sliced cucumber

1 cup julienned carrot

1 cup julienned daikon or other radish

1 cup blanched snow peas

2 scallions, sliced

¼ cup chopped cilantro, divided

Vinaigrette:

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

4 oz. soba noodles

2-3 cups cooked chicken, shredded

¼ cup peanuts, chopped

  1. Make peanut sauce.  Process all ingredients (peanut butter to sesame oil) in a food processor until smooth.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Prepare vegetables.  Mix salad greens together in a large bowl, reserving about 2 tablespoons of the chopped cilantro for garnish.  Set aside.
  3. Make vinaigrette.  Whisk soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil together in a small bowl.  Toss salad greens with vinaigrette to taste.
  4. Cook soba noodles according to package directions.  Drain.
  5. Assemble salad.  Toss cooked soba noodles with shredded chicken and prepared peanut sauce (use as much sauce as you want depending on how dry or wet you prefer the noodles—you will probably have some leftover!).  Divide salad greens into four bowls.  Top with noodles and chicken.  Garnish with reserved cilantro and chopped peanuts.

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Filed under Appetizers, Breakfast, Desserts, Dinner, Fish, Pasta, Sides, Snack, Vegetables

High Fiber Smoothies: From Dumbledore’s “Drink of Despair” to Strawberry Bliss

Strawberry Banana High Fiber Smoothie

These days with the end of school looming and book events (not to mention book deadlines!), I haven’t been cooking anything terribly new or exciting.  I haven’t been baking either.

For my birthday, this past Sunday, I told my husband I wanted to bake my own cake, but I ended up pressed for time and resorted to a box mix! (Hangs head in shame.)

This mix is actually quite good in a pinch. You can make single servings too — 2 tablespoons mix to 1 tablespoons plain yogurt — that’s it!

I don’t have a picture of the final, as it wasn’t particularly drool worthy, but it held the candles fine!

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Quickie breakfasts have been smoothies.  There are so many great smoothie recipes out there, ranging from decadent and dessert-like to healthy green monsters made with kale.  Mine fall somewhere in the middle.

One ingredient I haven’t seen on other blogs which I use regularly in my smoothies is pysillium husk.  That’s right, people, the stuff in Metamuscil.

I buy it in raw, tasteless form at the healthy food store.

I originally tried it when I was pregnant and needed extra fiber.  I didn’t want the added sugar (I was a borderline gestational diabetic) or artificial sweeteners found in Metamuscil– it also has more fiber than Metamuscil (6.7 g unsoluble fiber to 3 g).

The downside is that it doesn’t dissolve as well in water.  And you have to drink a lot of water with it and FAST (or it turns into a gel before your gaping eyes).  The result is a nasty consistency of quicksand.

I used to gag it down as fast as humanly possible.  It was redubbed “my horcrux”, referring to the Drink of Despair in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

After giving birth, the psyllium husk stayed hidden away in the recesses of our cupboards for years.  It made a brief appearance when I tried to pass it onto a friend who was also pregnant with gestational diabetes.  She gave it back to me, saying it was impossible for her to ever drink it after trying once.

Cut to the present.  Ever since I received my beloved blender, I’ve been having smoothies almost every day.  Jamie loves them too, and we often make them for a play date snack.  I let them choose the ingredients. It’s fun to experiment.

I like really thick, creamy ones, and I’ve seen some versions made with a lot of ice and xanthan gum and guar gum to get this effect.  I couldn’t find the guar gum, and I didn’t like the xanthan gum alone, so I decided to try it with my old psyllium husk since it was still hanging out in the pantry.  I was pleasantly surprised by the results!  It thickens the smoothie beautifully.  It’s not “gummy” like the xanthun gum alone.  A side benefit is that it has all the extra fiber too.  So now, it’s become a regular ingredient in my morning smoothies.  I cannot believe it is the same evil “potion” I used to have to force myself to drink!

For my smoothies, I use:

about 3/4 cup liquid (milk, almond milk, water, juice, coconut milk, coconut water, etc.)

about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup frozen fruit (banana, mango, strawberry, blueberry, pineapple, grapes) or raw fruit (apple, orange, raspberries, etc.) or vegetable (baby spinach -haven’t tried kale yet!)

2-3 ice cubes, depending on how much frozen fruit I use

1 tablespoon raw psyllium husk powder

Other occasional extras are: cocoa powder, protein powder, roasted peanut flour, chia seeds, flax seeds, (though not a HUGE fan of using seeds, because bits still get stuck in my teeth even after blending), peanut butter, yogurt, Torani flavored syrups

I’ve also seen smoothies made with nuts (cashews soaked in milk, other nut butters), silken tofu, and avocado but I haven’t tried them yet!

My favorite breakfast smoothies these days are:

  • strawberry banana (with vanilla protein powder and stevia)
  • peanut butter chocolate (with peanut butter, peanut flour, cocoa powder, chocolate protein powder, and stevia)
  • coconut pineapple (coconut milk, frozen pineapple chunks, dried coconut, vanilla protein powder)
  • creamsicle (orange juice, milk, Torani French Vanilla syrup, vanilla protein powder)

All are made with some ice and psyllium powder!

To make, put in the liquid first, then the powder(s), nuts and/or nut butters, and seeds, if using, then the fruit, and ice.  Blend until smooth and creamy.

Have fun experimenting! 🙂

This is Strawberry Banana with vanilla protein powder, Lactaid, water, ice, psyllium powder, and a pinch of stevia — Sooo creamy and delicious!

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Filed under Breakfast, Children, Snack, Vegetarian

Nut Butter Truffles and Chia Seed Granola

“Energy Balls” coated with Chia Seed Granola


I’ve seen various nut butter “balls” or “truffles” all over the blogsphere.  They are really easy to make and so delicious — great for a portable snack and much cheaper than buying an energy or protein bar.

Basically, you can just mix equal parts nut butter with liquid sweetener and two parts powder, such as non fat milk powder.  I have also made them with protein powder and roasted peanut flour with great results.  For the nut butter, I have used almond and peanut butters, but cashew or walnut or macademia nut butters would be divine.  It is easy to make your own nut butter if you can’t find the kind you like.

This is what the ideal texture of the truffle “paste” looks like after mixing together your ingredients:

This is a combination of almond butter, honey, and milk powder mixed by hand.

You then just shape a portion into a ball, similar to making a meatball, and roll and coat in whatever topping you’d like.   Then refrigerate to firm them up for about 30 minutes.  I store them in an air tight container in the fridge.

Here are a few ideas to help you get started:

Finished truffles


Recently I started experimenting with chia seeds because I keep reading about how great they are for you.  They are full of omega-3s, protein, fiber, and minerals.  They were eaten by the Aztecs and are considered to be a “super food”.  When mixed with water, the seeds become gelatinous.  When eaten, this gelatinous configuration slows down digestion and makes you feel full.

I actually wasn’t crazy about the gelatinous texture (a lot of people eat it in smoothies and oatmeal), so I decided to roast them instead and use them in granola.

I used to make granola all the time and hadn’t for awhile. Granola is great to make with kids too –  it is so easy and is a delicious and healthier snack alternative.

At the store gathering ingredients for granola

When I saw my friend, Anna’s extra chunky granola recipe on her fabulous blog, Cookie Madness, I had to make some.

I had a few “fails” at first.  One was that the pumpkin seeds I used turned out to be stale!  People, always check your ingredients before putting them into whatever you are making whenever possible!  Grrr… This was remedied by me letting my OCD tendencies run wild and I hand picked each one out of the batch.

They look harmless, but I had to throw them out, they tasted so stale.

The other “fail” was that since I used liquid egg whites instead of a fresh egg white, AND I didn’t squish the mixture into a tight slab before baking as Anna’s recipe instructs, my granola did not have the cluster like texture I was hoping for.

Since it was like regular granola (i.e. not chunky), I used some to coat some Almond Butter Truffles and renamed them “Energy Balls” as they are a healthier version of the more decadent ones I had made before.

These were gobbled up at a Memorial Day picnic this past weekend.  I love the crunch the granola adds.  The chia seeds were crunchy, like poppy seeds, so the gummy texture did not happen until in my stomach!

Nut Butter Truffles

Use a 1:1:2 ratio of peanut butter or almond butter or other nut butter, honey or other liquid sweetener, and twice the amount of non-fat instant milk powder.

Mix together, shape into balls, and coat with whatever you like, such as mini chocolate chips, dried coconut, wheat germ, cinnamon sugar, almonds, cereal, granola, etc.

Chill to firm up for about 30 minutes or longer in the refrigerator.  Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.

Chia Seed Granola, based on Anna’s Extra Chunky Granola

Note: I halved the recipe because I baked it in a Cuisinart toaster oven

I didn’t add the mixed nuts because I didn’t have any — just sliced almonds.  This also worked well with the Energy Balls, because the nuts would have been too big.

Non-stick spray

3/4 tablespoon butter

1/2 tablespoon coconut oil (or other oil)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 tablespoon honey

1/2 tablespoon maple syrup

pinch of salt

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup old fashioned oats

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (preferably not stale!)

1/3 cup sliced almonds

2 tablespoons dried coconut

1/4 cup chia seeds

1 tablespoon liquid egg white (this will make the granola a regular granola texture.  If you want extra chunky, use 1/2 tablespoon fresh egg white, as per Anna’s recipe after halving and press together very tightly in to a thin slab before baking)

1/4 cup chopped dried fruit (I used three dried apricots)

1.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line baking pan with foil and spray with non-stick spray.

2. Heat butter, oil, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, and salt in a small sauce pan on stove.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Let cool.

3.  Mix dry ingredients except dried fruit together in a large bowl.  Evenly coat oat mixture with egg white.  Then pour the sweet liquid mixture over and evenly coat.  Spread in one  layer on baking sheet.

4.  Bake for about 20 minutes.  Let cool, and then stir to break up, add dried fruit.

Makes about 10 ounces.

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Filed under Desserts, Snack, Vegetarian

Fun Filled Weekend Involving Chocolate Peanut Butter Popcorn and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum

The Brooklyn Children's Museum. It looks like a square yellow submarine

I was in the midst of a deadline last week and didn’t have a chance to post a recap of our Brooklyn Children’s Museum visit.

If you are ever in the area, you* must* visit the museum which is located in Crown Heights.  It was renovated in 2008 and is a truly spectacular.  It is more spacious and inviting than its Manhattan counterpart (you can literally spend all day there!), and it’s the first “Green Museum” in the city.

To celebrate the opening of Muriel Feldshuh’s Brooklyn Literacy quilt, I read Soup Day in the museum library for Story Time.  All six of Muriel’s quilts are on display there.  It is fun to find favorite authors and illustrators in each one.

J insisted on "helping". My "green bean" square is in the 2009 orange quilt behind us.

Then we got creative and made collages out of a bunch of different materials.

The children were so enthusiastic with their projects. I wish I had taken more pictures, but I was busy meeting people (some came especially for the event–thanks, guys!) and helping out with gluing and cutting.  It was great fun.

After the workshop we ate lunch in the cafeteria and then visited our favorite part of the museum:  World Brooklyn.

Jamie has always loved this area from the time we first visited when he was just four.  World Brooklyn celebrates our borough and its amazing diversity. The “hands on” exhibit is comprised of child-sized versions of real stores in Brooklyn which kids can explore and do activities in.

Being a cashier in the International Grocery Store

The fake food is so realistic!

I love this sign which has sample shopping lists for a range of ethnically diverse meals.

Baking pizza at L and B Spumoni Gardens in Bensonhurst

Serving pizza

Baking Mona Bread at Don Paco Lopez Panaderia in Sunset Park

On to real food…

We had another movie afternoon the next day.  This time the feature was The Fellowship of the Ring (Denis and Jamie had just finished reading The Hobbit and the Fellowship of the Ring).  It gave me an excuse to make popcorn!

I was completely lusting after The Choco-aholic’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Popcorn recipe for days and had to make a batch.  I’m sure hers is much more “gourmet” than my lightened version, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do 2 sticks of butter and 2 cups of brown sugar, plus 1/2 lb. of chocolate and 1/3 of a jar of peanut butter for just one batch of popcorn!  If you want to make the original recipe, I say “go for it” though! 🙂

Ours was mighty tasty and the level of richness was just right for us.  The caramel flavor melds with the chocolate and peanut butter so perfectly.  Even the lightened version had the perfect trinity of sugar, salt, and fat, creating the “bliss point” of irresistibility that David Kessler writes about in The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite  … Ah well, everything in moderation!


Chocolate Peanut Butter Popcorn

Adapted from The Choco-aholic  (Lightened up and without the kettle salt, as I didn’t have any)

Non-stick spray

10 cups of popped popcorn (I used an air popper)

1/2 stick unsalted butter

1/2 cup of brown sugar

1/4  cup of light corn syrup

4 ounces of milk chocolate chips

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

pinch of salt

1.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray.

2. Pop popcorn and place in a large mixing bowl.

3.  In a large pot combine  butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup.  Bring to a boil for about 2 minutes.  Add chocolate chips and stir to melt.  Remove from heat and stir until smooth.

4.  Pour the boiled chocolate mix onto the popcorn. Toss until all the popcorn kernels are evenly coated with the chocolate.

5.  Spread out onto prepared baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 15  minutes. Remove, sprinkle with salt, stir and let cool for about 30 minutes.

6.  Melt peanut butter in microwave oven for about 30 seconds.  Pour chocolate popcorn back into mixing bowl and pour melted peanut butter over popcorn and coat evenly.  Refrigerate until hardened for about an hour.

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Peanut Miso Glazed Roasted Kale Chips and Winner!

Thanks to all who participated in my signed copy of Soup Day giveaway!

I loved hearing all about your favorite soups!

From Soup Day, Henry Holt 2010

I’m happy to announce that the winner of the giveaway is:   Michelle!

I will contact you and send you a signed copy this week.

I hope the child you give it to is inspired to play in the kitchen and enjoys my book! 🙂

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Remember when I was swooning over Trader Joe’s roasted seaweed?  Well, I think I’ve created a great cheaper, healthier alternative.  Kale chips have been around in the blog sphere for quite awhile, but it was fellow home cook, Alexandra, that I learned of slow roasting them and coating them with a sort of sauce.  I didn’t have the ingredients she uses on hand, so I made up my own using peanut butter, miso, soy, mirin, sesame oil, and some water.  The second time I tried it, I threw in some sugar.  I’m telling you, they are addictive.

Look at the peanut butter and miso yumminess!

I was blasting my kale chips at 400 degrees before and they always had burnt edges.  Slow cooking them creates the crispiest, crunchiest kale leaves with no burns anywhere.  The texture is a lot like roasted seaweed.  But this way, you are getting all the vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber that kale has to offer.

I love the nuttiness of the peanut butter and miso and the salty, sweet flavor combination these chips have.  Try it.  It may make a kale lover out of you! 🙂

Peanut Butter and Miso Glazed Kale Chips

1 tablespoon peanut butter

1 teaspoon miso paste

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon mirin (or rice wine vinegar if you don’t have it)

1 teaspoon sugar

2 teaspoons water

8 cups of kale leaves torn into chip size pieces

non-stick spray

1.  Preheat oven to 200 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment or foil.  Set aside.

2.  In a large bowl whisk together peanut butter, miso paste, soy sauce, mirin, and sugar with a whisk.  Add water and whisk until smooth.

3.  Throw in kale leaves and coat and massage with clean hands to get the sauce on all of the leaves.  Spread leaves in one layer on lined baking sheet.

4.  Bake for one hour.  Halfway through baking, stir the leaves and turn over.

Makes about two servings.  You could probably double the recipe and use two baking sheets on different racks.  I will do this next time, because I could easily eat the two servings in one sitting — it’s hard to stop!

Note:  Don’t do this!  I tried it while in California, and the leaves get too crowded and don’t dry out properly, and it took forever.  Better to do a single batch and roast on two baking sheets!

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Filed under Appetizers, Art Related, Sides, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Filling and Chocolate Ganache Frosting

I love American layer cakes.  The combination of a moist cake crumb with creamy frosting makes me swoon.  They way the layers are thick and stacked tall, slathered with rich frosting is typically American.  Unlike their European counterparts,  American cakes are huge, sweet, and filling.  To me, they evoke images of diners, films from the 50s, and general Americana.  I missed them when I lived abroad.

Another very “American” food is peanut butter.  My friends from Europe and Japan just don’t have the same relationship with peanut butter as my American ones.  They tend to not like it — or at least are not passionate about it!  For me, if there’s anything I am addicted to, as in:  I eat it every day and usually multiple times a day, I would have to say it’s peanut butter.  I really can eat it on just about anything, as it goes with savory (eg. peanut noodles)  and sweet flavors.

Since I eat it so often I try to be careful about portion size because it’s so easy to eat tablespoon after tablespoon of it!  I’ve also experimented with combining it with peanut flour with great results (nutty flavor with fiber, protein and less fat).

Trader Joe's no longer carries it, but you can get it at southerngracefarms.com

So when I came across this recipe for Banana Cake with Chocolate Glaze, I knew I just had to make it.  The combination of bananas, peanut butter, and chocolate are just too good to resist — the perfect trifecta!

There are a few changes I made to the recipe to lighten it up a bit.  The first was that I halved the cake recipe and baked it in a cute 6-inch pan.  Un-American?  Perhaps.  But a small layer cake is just SO cute, and I figured with the richness of this cake, the smaller portions would be healthier.

See the difference between a cute 6-inch pan and a 9-inch pan?

I didn’t have buttermilk so I substituted some yogurt and milk mixed together.  Also, I made less peanut butter filling since it was a smaller cake and lightened it by using peanut flour along with the peanut butter, less sugar, and I omitted the heavy cream.  In place of the butter based glaze, I made my favorite Chocolate Ganache Frosting — which is pretty much like a chocolate truffle, but I couldn’t help myself.

With the peanut butter frosting before the chocolate ganache entered the picture.

The final product was a very moist, dense cake full of banana flavor coupled with creamy peanut butter and luscious chocolate.  I loved that the cake wasn’t HUGE.  It still would easily serve eight to ten people, but the portions aren’t Cadillac sized.  Because the cake has all the other qualities of a rich, decadent American cake (even with the few lightened tweaks),  the un-American portion sizes definitely don’t leave you feeling unsatisfied!

Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Filling and Chocolate Ganache Frosting

Adapted from: http://www.takingonmagazines.com/

Note:  If you want to make a true American sized cake, double the cake, filling and frosting recipes and bake in 2 8-inch pans for 35-40 minutes.

Banana Cake

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½  teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 large eggs
1 1/2 overripe bananas, mashed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup buttermilk or ¼ nonfat plain yogurt plus ¼ cup milk

Peanut Butter Filling

2 tablespoons butter, room temperature

½ cup peanut butter (or ¼ cup peanut butter plus 40 grams of peanut flour and 2 oz. almond milk)

¼ cup confectioner’s sugar

extra milk if needed

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

4 oz. chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, or a mix

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon light corn syrup

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease 1 6-inch by 2-inch cake pan. Line bottom with parchment.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy for about two minutes. Add the egg one at a time, beating well after addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Mix in the bananas and vanilla extract.
  4. Slowly add in flour mixture and alternate with buttermilk (or yogurt) mixture, starting and ending with flour mixture – about 3 times.
  5. Pour batter into cake pan.  Tap on counter to get rid of air bubbles.  Bake for about 50 minutes to an hour until skewer poked in center comes out clean.  I would start checking at 45 minutes because ovens vary.
  6. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes before removing from cake pans. Cool completely before frosting.

For the Peanut Butter Filling

    1.  Cream the butter and peanut butter (or peanut butter plus peanut flour almond milk mixture) together in a large bowl. Add the powdered sugar and milk if needed. Mix well.
    2.  Add either more milk or sugar to reach the desired consistency.

For the Chocolate Ganache Frosting

  1. Chop chocolate and place in a medium sized bowl.  Bring heavy cream to a boil in a small saucepan.  Pour cream over chopped chocolate in bowl.  Add corn syrup.  Let sit for 3 minutes.  Whisk to incorporate until chocolate is silky smooth with no streaks.  Add vanilla and stir with a spoon.
  2. Place in refrigerator for about  30 minutes stirring once halfway and again after 30 minutes.

To assemble cake

  1. Cut cooled banana cake in half with a serrated knife.
  2. Place four strips of parchment on cake dish and place first layer on top (this will keep your plate clean).  Cover with peanut butter filling.  Place second layer on top.  Frost cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting.  Remove parchment paper.

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Filed under Desserts