Purple Yam Pancakes with a Fall Twist

Life definitely got into the way of our blog. Although we have been busy, there has still been a lot of cooking going on behind the scenes. This is a meek attempt to try and resurrect this little project between me and my Prague sisters, A & N.

On a recent visit, my dear Filipino mom ventured off to a section of Prague known locally as Sapa or Little Hanoi. It’s definitely off the beaten track. It’s a hub of warehouses and shops located about a half hour drive from Prague’s center. The businesses are largely owned and operated by members of the Czech Republic’s large Vietnamese immigrant community. As a native New Yorker, it reminds me a bit of Chinatown, but on a much smaller scale. You could call it Viet-town. Here you will find wholesale items from toiletries to handbags to the latest Italian fashions. You will also discover some of the best tasting Vietnamese restaurants in town, as well as a number of Vietnamese grocery stores selling fresh blocks of tofu, yellow mangoes and you guessed it — purple yam!

My mom enjoys shopping at Sapa because the produce and the shopping experience (she is able to haggle for prices and she’s good at it) reminds her of the Philippines. It’s also the best place that will guarantee egg roll wrappers, fresh okra or lemongrass will be on sale! On one her visits, she found these purple yams that resembled Ube, also a purple yam used in many Filipino dishes. Knowing that it is a favorite root of mine, she happily brought some home to me. Love my mom!

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Purple yam after being boiled, skinned and mashed. Sounds a bit like torture. Sorry Purple Yam.

So, when I got out of bed today and the usual pancakes were being requested by our twins, I felt the need to be a bit more creative with this Sunday morning staple. Just the night before, I had boiled the yams without any plans to use them. I thought that I would just slide the skins off,  mash them up and freeze it for future use. Instead, this turned out to be a great moment to give them a try. Plus my girls are also big fans of ube!

Prague’s October skies have been grey lately, sprinkling us with rapid showers and the need to bundle up! Therefore, this autumnal change has made me yearn for some of the season’s comforting flavors. And that’s how I came up with a purple yam pancake with a fall twist.

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Purple Yam Pancakes (Gluten and Dairy Free)

Ingredients:

  1. Place purple yams in a medium saucepan of boiling water, and cook until tender but firm, about 15 minutes. Drain, and immediately immerse in cold water to loosen skins. Drain, remove skins, chop, and mash.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together gluten free flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Mix mashed yams, eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and coconut oil in a separate medium bowl. Blend yam mixture into the flour mixture to form a batter. Enjoy that purple hue!
  3. Preheat a lightly greased griddle over medium-high heat. Drop batter mixture onto the prepared griddle by heaping tablespoonfuls, and cook until golden brown, turning once with a spatula when the surface begins to bubble.

 

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Pears + honey + fall spices = Honey Pear Spice Muffins! by Nikki

It's Autum... and time for muffins!

It’s Autum… and time for muffins!

It is officially Autumn. The seasons have changed from warm Summer sunshine to crisp, cool Fall mornings. It is the time of year when the pumpkins and other squash varieties show up in the grocery store. The farmer’s market is full of deep, rich colors as the end-of-summer growing season has been recently harvested and is now available for our purchasing! When the daylight hours grow shorter and the rain begins to fall, I crave time in my kitchen, and I crave muffins. I LOVE muffins!  Experimenting with my basic muffin recipe brings my taste buds (and my friends) a lot of joy! A little flour, a few spices, one egg and a variety of “fillings”, and you have got yourself a tasty baked treat.

Thanks for the pears friends...

Thanks for the pears friends…

I have a new teaching colleague on our Kindergarten team this year. I am really enjoying working with and getting to know T… as well as her husband and family! In the first few weeks of school, T showed up in my classroom with a handful of pears that her husband, D had stopped to pick while on a bike ride with their daughter. I always appreciate good, fresh fruit… and these pears were gladly accepted! Combined with honey, fall spices and my favorite baking ingredient- buttermilk, these pears turned my standby honey spice muffin recipe into a pear-y good experience. And with only a 1/2 cup of sugar (and a whole lot of honey), these muffins were sweet with a hint of spice… and the verdict was they were  oh, so, nice!

Pear-y delicious

Honey Pear Spice Muffins

dry ingredients: 2 cups spelt flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 teaspoon cinnamon

wet ingredients: 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 egg, 1/4 cup butter (melted), 1/4 cup honey, 1 cup buttermilk

fruit: 1 cup pears (peeled and diced)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C or 375 degrees F and line a muffin tin with muffin papers, set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients then set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients until well blended.

Pour over the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon.

Gently fold in the pears.

Spoon batter into the muffin cups until each is 3/4 full.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the tops are golden brown or a knife comes out clean from the middle of the muffin.

Let cool for 5 minutes then serve warm with a pat of butter.

Store muffins in an air-tight tupperware for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months!

ENJOY!

Gluten-free Cinnamon Yogurt Muffins by Allison

This muffin recipe is a keeper, let me tell ya! I remember tasting these muffins at dear friend’s home when I was in Elementary school way back when. This recipe has withstood the test of time. One of my Mom’s best friends, CW, used to make these for camping trips, snacks after her kids (my dear friends then and now too) and I got out of the pool, post softball games and for breakfast. I loved them then and I loved them now (gf of course) and they have that same taste I can remember from way back when. I needed to make some food for some friends of mine here in Prague who just had a baby and these muffins popped into mind! I whipped up a batch and placed them into two bags, one for the freezer and one for them to eat right away. These are a yummy, anytime kind-of-a-treat!

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GF Cinnamon Yogurt Muffins
 slightly adapted from Cindy W’s recipe

3/4 cup margarine (Hera here in Prague)

1 1/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

8 oz. plain yogurt

2 cups GF flour (I use Schar Mix C)

1 tsp. GF baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

 

Cream together margarine, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add yogurt and blend well. Combine dry ingredients, then add yogurt mixture (stir only until all dry ingredients are moistened). Fill greased muffin tins or cupcake liners half full. Combine 3 Tbs. sugar with 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon; sprinkle half of this mixture over batter in each cup. Fill with remaining batter; sprinkle muffins with remaining cinnamon mixture. Bake at 200 degrees Celsius for 14-17 minutes. Enjoy! 

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Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies by Allison (GF, Dairy-Free, Grain-Free)

While these cookies don’t taste like my Mom’s chocolate chip cookies, they taste really good when you’ve cut out all the nuts, dairy and grains on top of the gluten! By the way, nothing can beat my Mom’s cookies. Really truly. I’m serious. She has a gift, well many gifts, but one of them being the ability to make amazing cookies. Her sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, molasses crinkles, peanut butter blossoms, and oatmeal raisin cookies are all off the charts fabulous (and I’m not the only one who thinks so)!

I haven’t always been gluten-free, but the last three years I have and I don’t miss much as far as food or treats go, but I do miss my Mom’s incredible cookies. These coconut chocolate chip cookies can’t be measured against your cookies Mom, they are not even in this same world but they are interesting. They are a totally different kind of cookie than you’ve ever had before but I still think they are worth the calories! You can buy everything you need right here in Prague as well! Whip up a batch and have it with a glass of coconut milk and tell me what you think! Enjoy!

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Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Dairy-Free, Grain-Free – but not taste free)

recipe adapted from The Lemon Bowl

 

Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed plus 3 Tbsp. water (mix and let sit)
  • ¼ cup coconut oil (melted )
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • ½ cup coconut milk (I use homemade as coconut milk has a lot of additives in it)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup + 2 Tbsp coconut flour (gf )
  •  ⅓ cup mini chocolate chips (I use Lifefood 80% sugar-free chocolate)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 190 degrees Celsius and line a baking sheet with baking paper or foil
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together ground flax seed and water, then set aside for a few minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl mix melted coconut oil, date sugar, coconut milk, vanilla, and salt.
  4. Using a rubber spatula, stir in coconut flour, chocolate chips and flax seed mixture.
  5. Scoop cookies using a large tablespoon and form a ball, flatten with the palm of your hand and place on a baking sheet and bake for 8-12 minutes or until slightly browned.
  6. Let cookies cool completely before removing from pan. Enjoy!

 

A quick dinner: Sesame Vegetables over Noodles

veggies + noodles = dinner

veggies + noodles = dinner

Sometimes after a long day, I just need a quick dinner. Of course, I want a hot, yummy dinner but quick is the key word here. A couple weeks ago, I was on my way to pilates and I stopped at one of the local potravinys. This potraviny carries the best corn tortillas not to mention some of the better produce… at least when the Farmer’s markets are not open yet! Browsing the isles for Sriracha hot sauce, I found these really great Asian noodles. I recently made a chicken soup and threw them into the broth. They were a great addition to the soup. I enjoy a lot of Asian cuisine so these noodles are a welcomed addition to my cupboard. Anyway, getting back to my quick dinner. I was really hungry and craving Thai food. But since I am nursing an injured hip and pulled muscle, I decided take out wasn’t the best option!

i love sesame oil

i love sesame oil

Instead I chopped up a few veggies from my fridge sauted them in sesame oil and threw them on top of these noodles. It was perfect and it “hit the spot.” You can throw any veggies into this that you want- I like it colorful!

My new favorite quick dinner!

My new favorite quick dinner!

Sesame Vegetables over noodles

ingredients: fresh green beans, half a red pepper, broccoli, and carrots (dice, cut, or shred them… your choice!) 2 tablespoons of sesame oil, 1 tablespoons of sesame seeds and your favorite noodles.

directions: boil water and noodles, heat oil in the pan; prepare veggies as you like them and saute 6- 8 minutes; combine noodles and veggies in the pan and let the noodles soak up some of the oil; serve hot preferably with Sriracha hot sauce.

Enjoy!

It’s a colorful dish- Sausage and Peppers by Nikki

it is colorful despite the grey season

it is colorful despite the grey season

Do any of you use Pinterest? Let me tell you it is both amazing and somewhat addicting. It is very useful for digitally “housing” all sorts of information you find on the internet. I mainly use Pinterest for collecting and storing ideas for home, classroom, and kitchen projects. However, I also have boards titled as such: “workout ideas”, “I want that too” “My reading list” “places and spaces”, “for the love of yarn,” etc. You see, Pinterest let’s me keep all of these great ideas, things I like or would consider buying for my home, closet or kitchen, all organized into boards… and as long as it is not on a secret board, I  can search Pinterest and have access to other people’s pins a.k.a more good ideas from other people’s internet collections! So, why am I mentioning my love and addiction of Pinterest on our blog… well, because that is where I originally found this recipe. I pinned it some time ago onto my “food is love” board.

it's a one bowl job

it’s a one bowl job

 As you know from my last few posts, I have recently been cooking a lot of vegetarian meals. However, it is half marathon training season, and as I increase my running mileage, I also feel the increase in my body craving meat-based protein. I usually stick to chicken, fish, and occasionally, beef. But two days ago, I just wanted something different. Well, I was in the local grocery store and I had this craving for sausage. I stood there contemplating what to make with this and I remembered that I had “pinned” a recipe for Sausage and Peppers. So I bought the sausage, the onions and peppers and I went home to consult with my Pinterest board. This recipe calls for one regular potato, but I replaced that with a sweet potato and it worked. I like it when adaptations work! In fact, you could even use your favorite vegetarian “sausage” if you wanted. This recipe would be an easy, weekday meal. You can do the preparation one day ahead, wrap everything in foil and then pop it in the oven the next evening. Depending on your oven, it only takes 30-40 minutes for the potatoes and peppers to soften to perfection. Serve in individual bowls, with a little parmesan cheese sprinkled over the top… trust me, it goes well with a cold beer!   

colorful peppers and onions

colorful peppers and onions

Sausage and Peppers

adapted from the recipe One Pouch Feast on HyVee.com

 ingredients: half a yellow bell pepper, half a red bell pepper, half a green bell pepper, and half an orange bell pepper, one red onion, half a large sweet potato and 1-2 sausages (kielbasa in Polish, wurst in German, Kolbasa in Czech), olive oil, 1 teaspoon garlic salt, salt and pepper to taste

Directions: chop all the veggies and put into a medium size bowl.

Toss with one tablespoon of olive oil, garlic salt, and salt and pepper

Cut the sausage into round pieces and add to the peppers.

Mix until all ingredients are well coated.

Wrap in foil and bake in the oven for 40 minutes at 400 degrees F or 200 degrees C

Check the peppers and potatoes 30 minutes into baking time to see how they are softening…

When finished baking, let the mixture sit for 5 minutes then serve in bowls with a sprinkle of cheese and/or your favorite hot sauce.

Enjoy!

Yum!

Yum!

 

Steamed artichokes- it’s a family thing! By Nikki

Sunflowers!

Oregon Sunflowers!

Today is my last day in Oregon! I have been here for two weeks visiting with my family and friends. The days have been full seeing people for coffee or dinner, picking blueberries on Sauvie Island, floating on the lake, family picnics and BBQs, hiking in the Gorge, and a quick camping trip to the beach! It has really been a great time, but I recently told a friend  “I’m not 23 anymore and filling my days from start to finish with activity- although fun, it is exhausting!” The end of any vacation or family visit is always bittersweet. It has been special to be with so many loved ones, but I am looking forward to being in my own space… and not sleeping in a twin bed!

Lake Oswego Farmer's Market

Lake Oswego Farmer’s Market

Yesterday morning, I walked from my parents’ house to the Farmer’s Market in downtown Lake Oswego. It overlooks the lake and it is a beautiful area for the market. It is a good venue to walk around and spend a sunny summer morning.

Beautiful LO

Beautiful LO

I wasn’t sure if I was going to find something at the market to feature on the blog today. This farmer’s market didn’t lack beautiful produce, but we already had our evening menu planned- fresh corn, grilled Chinook salmon (freshly caught on the Sandy river by my brother), cucumber salad (a family recipe) and my sister made a Hawaiian Dream cake to celebrate mama’s birthday. As I was wandering around the market, I saw these Italian artichokes. I thought to myself, “this would be an excellent addition to our evening menu!”

Artichokes!

Artichokes!! Dad would steam them in a special, tall pan.

I remember eating these when we were young. Dipping the leaves into lemon mayo (lemon butter for me!) then scraping the leaves clean with my teeth. So delicious! Last night, as the plate emptied and the bowl of discarded leaves was full, my brother-in-law said, “looks like your artichokes were a hit.”

Dad's special artichoke steamer!

Dad’s special artichoke steamer!

Eating artichokes, laughing with my family and just enjoying time with them was the best way to end this visit… Happy Summer!

Steamed Italian Artichokes

Steamed Italian Artichokes

Steamed Artichokes w/ Lemon Mayo

 

ingredients: two medium artichokes, 3 tablespoons mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon fresh, squeezed lemon, pepper to taste

directions: Fill the bottom of a large pan with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water.

I use a large soup pot and my vegetable steamer basket.

Set the artichokes on the basket and let them steam for 25 to 30 minutes on low or medium low heat.

While the artichokes are steaming, mix together the mayo and lemon juice. Add more lemon or pepper to taste. Set aside.

You can check if they are done by picking a leaf from the 2nd or 3rd row and testing it by scraping the bottom of the flesh with your teeth. (A tender artichoke scrapes off the leaf easily.)

When ready, flip the artichokes upside down and drain excess water out. I like to serve mine community style, in a large bowl with an empty bowl next to it to discard the leaves.

Have fun dipping and enjoy!

Gluten-free Cauliflower Pizza Crust by Allison

I’ve made different kinds of gluten-free pizza crusts over the past two years and this is by far the best vegetable pizza base I’ve created. Even my friend and fellow blogger Nikki loved it and she can eat gluten (and has great judgment) so that says a lot! The texture turned out great and the flavor combinations were incredibly tasty. With a cauliflower crust, I make my tomato sauce strong and flavorful so it balances out the flavor of the cauliflower.  See my notes below on how I make my tomato sauce for this recipe. Now I have to say that making this recipe can be time consuming when you’re doing it for the first time but as you gain some practice it gets easier and faster the more times you make it as with any recipe but especially this one! There’s nothing like pizza and good company!

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I don’t know what I did before I had a food processor, well yes I do, I did everything by hand and it took a lot longer to make everything that is for sure!

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This is the cauliflower mixture above after I have added the eggs and spices. It should be wet in consistency and it should stick together and not be dry.

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The picture above is the pizza crust after baking for about 17 minutes! Looks delish and it is!

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Gluten-free Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Ingredients

1 medium head + 1 small head of cauliflower, riced and cooked*

2 eggs

1/2 tsp. basil

1/2 tsp. oregano

1/4 tsp. garlic salt

fresh mozzarella cheese, 125 grams cut into small pieces

For the pizza:

your own pizza sauce-just the way you like it! #

fresh mozzarella cheese (125 grams/4.5 ounces)

grated parmesan

roasted red peppers (or any toppings of your choice)

crushed chili flakes for a little kick!

*rice cauliflower means to either grate it by hand or in a food processor into small pieces. After the cauliflower is riced, place in microwave and cook for 8 minutes, stir often and let cool. Using your hands or a fine sieve strainer, press the water out of the cauliflower. If you skip this step, your crust will be mushy and not have the right consistency. Then you add the eggs, cheese and spices, press onto a cookie sheet lined with baking paper and bake for 15-20 minutes at 175 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit or until light brown. Take it out and spread on your homemade tomato sauce and toppings of your choice, sprinkle parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese over the toppings and bake for 7-12 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and the cheese is melted.

# In my tomato sauce I combine two cans of tomato paste (for those in Prague I purchase the Albert brand tomato paste as it states right on the can “does not contain gluten”, garlic cloves, onion, garlic salt, salt, oregano, basil, parsley, olive oil and chili flakes. I cook the garlic and onions in olive oil first and add the other items to the pan and let it simmer.

Slice and enjoy!

Fancy Tomato Toast! By Nikki

early tomatoes

early tomatoes

I found these baby heirloom tomatoes at the Karlin farmer’s market a few weeks ago. It was very surprising to see these colorful gems so early in the season. I thought I would give them a try and boy, am I glad that I did!

Spring dinner... and vino!

Spring dinner… and vino!

I started my indoor herb garden again, and my basil is producing beautifully! It complimented these tomatoes well, both in color and taste. I recently saw a recipe for Tomato-Ricotta Toast. When I was younger, my family used to eat tomato toast for a quick, healthy snack. Plop two slices of bread in the toaster, slice a tomato and when the toast was ready slap on some mayo (I prefer butter!), top with the tomato slices, a little salt and pepper and enjoy! Easy and yummy! Now that I am getting older, (yes, we are in the 30’s here…) I thought I would make my tomato toast a little bit fancy. Adding a bit of ricotta cheese instead of butter or mayo and topping the tomatoes with fresh basil leaves, left my taste buds feeling very delighted… and it is a quick, easy dinner for a busy weekday evening!

Spring dinner

Fancy Tomato Toast- with Basil and Ricotta Cheese!

Fancy Tomato Toast

ingredients: 5-6 small, plum size tomatoes (any color will do!), 4-6 fresh basil leaves, 1/2 cup ricotta cheese mixed with 1/8 tsp garlic salt, 1/8 tsp paprika, fresh bread

Toast your choice of bread. Slice the tomatoes in half. Spread the ricotta on the toast slices. Top with the tomatoes and basil leaves… salt and pepper to taste.

The Perfect Blueberry Muffin! By Nikki

Spring Farmer's Market

Spring Farmer’s Market

Last week I was on Spring Holiday. My Mama was visiting from Oregon. On one of our outings we walked through my local neighborhood Farmer’s market. It was a beautiful, sunny day and the usual vendors were out and everyone was smiling. My first stop was the big, orange tent with the dried fruit and nuts! This is my favorite tent at the market- I love everything I have purchased here! I stocked up on dried jahody (strawberries) and naturally dried zazvor bez cukr (ginger without sugar!) This post has nothing to do with these dried, yummy, market finds… I just wanted to tell you what I bought at my farmer’s market last week!

muffin2

warm muffins with butter

Blueberry muffins are my favorite! If they are made well, the blueberries should burst in your mouth with blueness and goodness. I prefer this recipe because it uses less sugar than many muffin recipes AND sour cream or greek yogurt instead of oil! You know I am a BIG fan of buttermilk in baked goods, but this time I gladly used the fresh sour cream I get in my weekly dairy delivery!

Spaldova flour

Spaldova flour

I also used my BIO spaldova (spelt) flour. I purchase this flour with my dairy order, but I hear you can find the vendor at the Dejvicka farmers market on Saturdays! This flour adds a slightly nutty flavor to baked goods and that compliments the texture and taste of this particular muffin. The hint of lemon zest adds a fresh, spring zing. These muffins taste best warm from the oven with a pat of butter! Go ahead and try them right now… why not, it is a one bowl, easy-to-whip-up recipe!

my favorite muffin

my favorite muffin

Perfect Blueberry Muffins

(adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)

ingredients:

 5 tablespoons (2 1/2 ounces or 71 grams) unsalted butter , softened
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces or 100 grams) sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 1/2 cups (6 3/4 ounces or 191 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon (7 grams or 1/4 ounce) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) baking soda
1/4 teaspoon (2 grams) salt
3/4 cup (3 3/4 ounces or 105 grams) blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, don’t bother defrosting)

Preparations:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F or 180 degrees C.

Line a muffin tin with paper liners.

Directions:

Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.

Add the egg and beat well, then add the yogurt and lemon zest.

Put flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a sifter and sift half of dry ingredients over batter.

Mix until combined. Sift remaining dry ingredients into batter and mix just until the flour disappears.

Gently fold in your blueberries.

The dough will be quite thick (and even thicker, if you used a full-fat Greek-style
yogurt).

Using your preferred method, fill the paper liners about 3/4 full.

Bake for approx 20-25 minutes (depending on how big your muffin cups are and how high you filled them!)

Look for the tops to be golden and a tester inserted into the center of muffins comes out
clean (you know, except for blueberry goo).

Let cool on rack as long as you can wait until you serve with a generous pat of butter!!

ENJOY!

A LITTLE NOTE: In the first photo of the muffins, I used the handmade napkins my sister recently made for me as a background for the photo. Kelli sewed every single one of those napkins with love. Then she sent them over an ocean in my mother’s suitcase- just for me! I am extremely blessed that I have a sister. Now, every time I set my table with these beautiful napkins I will think of my beautiful, creative, caring sister and how much she loves me. I love you Schmoopy!