Sweet Crepes with Sautéed Cinnamon Bananas

This will be my last post until the weekend. I’ve been posting daily because I’m trying to catch-up on my long list of ideas and recipes that are standing by. I’m finding that blogging is taking up too much of my very limited time though. I have two auditions for grad school in t-minus three weeks, and so I need to be channeling all my creative efforts into that. I will be posting on weekends and scheduling posts to publish during weekdays, but I am banning myself from logging onto this blog or on Facebook on weekdays until February 18th.

Yesterday I woke up and thought that crepes with bananas sounded like a great idea. Crepes are easy to make, lighter than normal pancakes, and they make you feel oh-so-fancy. While in Paris in November we ate some amazing crepes, and some… not-so-amazing ones. The best one we tried was at the Sunday Market by the Bastille. It was delicious and stuffed with bananas and caramel sauce. I totally regret not buying a tub of $15 caramel from that stand. I also regret losing my camera which held pictures of it. 😦 (I still get sick thinking about how we left that camera on the plane…)

This was our favorite street performance we saw that day:

http://www.facebook.com/v/10100719818509791

I’ve tried lots of crepe recipes. Some require a blender, an hour of waiting time, etc. But then there are times when you’re in an “instant gratification” mood and in that case, this recipe works extremely well! I’ve been following Weight Watchers since September and so I’ve modified this a little to make it healthier (albeit, not as tasty). If you don’t care about caloric content, use butter and regular flour. Otherwise, you can stick with this recipe.

Ingredients for crepes (makes about five large crepes):

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (or all-purpose), sifted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used 1%, but whole milk will make it tastier)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 TBSP sugar
  • 2 TBSP light margarine, melted (or butter)

Whisk the eggs until frothy in a medium bowl. Add the milk, water and butter and whisk until combined. In a separate bowl combine salt, sugar and flour with a spoon. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and fold in until just incorperated. Add the vanilla but take care not to over-mix.

Heat up a large skillet on medium-high heat, and when ready toss in a pat of margarine or butter.

This is the fun part. Working quickly, pour about 1/3 cup of batter onto the hot skillet and quickly pick up the pan and rotate it in a circular motion so that all of the batter spreads out to fill the width of the pan.

Roll them, and keep them wrapped in foil.

Ingredients for Sautéed Bananas:

  • Two bananas
  • White sugar (about 1/4 c.)
  • Butter or margarine (about 2 TBSP)
  • Cinnamon (about 1 tsp)

Melt butter in a skillet set on high. Toss in the bananas, sugar and cinnamon and let them fry for about 2 minutes, constantly scraping down the sides and bottom of the pan with a rubber spatula.

Arrange bananas inside the crepes, sprinkle with sugar, maple syrup, caramel sauce or nutella and enjoy!

 

Many thanks to Dhiren for helping me take photos on this post. Up next: Vegetarian Fiesta Burrito, Bread Pudding, Angelini Osteria Review & Homemade Ravioli & Pesto.

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Healing Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies (& Milk)

So the story goes like this: Dhiren was sick yesterday with the “flu.” (I personally think he had mild alcohol poisoning [read: hangover] from last night’s lemon drop, wheat beer and glass of wine he ordered while out at tapas, but he insisted he had the flu…)

After pampering Dhiren with some Thai soup, liquids, a salad, coconut water and a couple thermometer readings, I decided to try something else: cherry chocolate chip cookies. I know what you’re thinking: “Cookies and illness shouldn’t have anything to do with each other. Sugar and flour are inflammatory, etc.” But when I asked him if some freshly-baked cookies would make him feel better, he lit up like a four year-old and it was too late to turn back.

I made my normal chocolate chip cookie recipe, and just added a cup of reconstituted dried cherries. Cookies and milk  have always been an all-time favorite dessert of mine. While I love tiramisu, crème brûlée and elaborate pastries and cakes, nothing is quite as nostalgic as a freshly baked cookie dunked in a neon plastic Ikea cup full of milk and a twisty straw. Plus, I LOVE summer produce. Plums, cherries and nectarines are some of my favorite fruits and we live right around the corner from two of the best farmer’s markets in Orange County. I eat them all summer long and have them constantly in the fridge and counter. I’m always looking for new ways and uses for seasonal produce (even if it is dried, seasonal produce), particularly if they involve butter.

Well, these were amazing.

Needless to say, Dhiren felt better.

I’m willing to admit that I think his miraculous recovery had more to do with the liters of liquids, coconut water and rest he got, but I think the cookies mended his spirit.

Weekend of eating & reviews

I’ve already talked about my stint with the infamous coconut cream pie, but didn’t cover the rest of last weekend, which was just as delicious and sinful. I figure I’ll use the cheating as an opportunity to post a couple of reviews, especially since I won’t be frequenting these places for a long while. My eleven year-old brother, Christian, came to stay with me and Dhiren overnight, and we had a really fun time tasting our way around Orange County.

Review # 1: The Original Pancake House

The Saturday morning started at our favorite spot, The Original Pancake House in Anaheim. My mom is actually the one who introduced me and my brother to this place years ago. On the way back from trips to San Diego, we would often stop at the OPH in Aliso Viejo. That specific chain makes an incredible, and I mean incredible, Eggs Benedict.

Anyhow, back to last Saturday. Christian wasn’t impressed with the Western Omelette, but I liked the signature sherry mushroom one that I split with Dhiren. It came with their famous buttermilk pancakes, which I barely touched because of this bad boy:

Meet the notorious Apple Pancake. Oh. My. God. This photo can’t begin to explain how decadent this is. We ordered it with extra cinnamon and sugar, which was a good choice. Totally made the obnoxious 45-minute wait worth it. I also highly recommend the Dutch Baby, which is a lighter (but huge air-filled) pancake served with butter, powdered sugar and lemon. Though on the pricey side for eggs and pancakes, it is worth the extra money for the specialties that you can’t get anywhere else. I recommend going during the week, because who wants to compete with the aggressive and hungry church crowds?

Review #2: Sprinkles Cupcakes & Gelato Paradiso

Ok, we all know about Sprinkes and all the annoying press coverage its gotten. I personally think waiting in the sometimes-long line is totally worth it for the plain dark chocolate cupcake and the dark chocolate with coconut frosting. But, I am not a fan of red velvet cake in any form, including Sprinkles’ famed version. Since childhood I’ve always associated red velvet with the nasty Southern Armadillo Cake, which makes me gag. I don’t understand the hype over red velvet and think that a normal chocolate cupcake smothered in cream cheese frosting is far superior than one drenched in red-dye 40.

Christian is a huge red velvet fan however, and I won’t fault him for it, but even he thought that the red velvet tasted odd this time. I tried a bite and it left a horrible, metallic after-taste. Sure, he finished the cupcake because it’s $4– why let that money go to waste? But something was wrong. I don’t know if these cupcakes are losing quality because of mass production, or if someone tricked us and accidentally slipped in one of their vegan cupcakes, but it left much to be desired.

Looks pretty though!

Below is my favorite Sprinkles: the dark chocolate.

If you are visiting the Newport Beach Sprinkles and are discouraged by the long line and scary Newport housewives in their white SUVs, I highly recommend visiting Gelato Paradiso instead. Their Panna Cotta and Stracciatella are my favorite. It’s a better option all around, boasting a shorter line, lots of interesting and creamy flavors, similar prices for less calories and bloat.

I wanted to include a review of Natraj Cuisine of India, where Christian and I ended our foodventure (below), but that place deserves its own spot on my blog. My favorite dish, paneer masala, won Christian over though.

Thanks for being my partner in crime!

Revision: How to sabotage your diet with a delicious coconut cream pie

Based on a true story. I’ve completed seven days of SBD Phase 1, not counting two days of cheating caused by this recipe (and some other delicious food… more on that later).

This is one of those, oh-my-god-I-never-knew-I-liked-pie kind of pies.

Wish I had taken a better photo of this, but the family was hungry and waiting.

  • 1 can coconut milk/cream
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup corn starch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cups flaked coconut, toasted
  • 3/4 cups flaked coconut, not toasted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons coconut extract
  • 1 (9 inch) pie shell, baked (or make your own if you’re feeling Martha Stewarty)
  • 2-3 cups whipping cream (depending on how much topping you want)
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine coconut milk, half-and-half, eggs, sugar, corn starch and salt. Bring to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly (should take about 15-20 minutes). Mixture should thicken to a pudding. Remove from heat, and stir in 3/4 cup of the grated coconut and 1 tsp. of coconut and vanilla extracts. Pour into baked and cooled pie shell and chill 3 to 4 hours, or until firm (leave it in the fridge covered overnight if you really want a flavorful pie).
  2. When ready to serve, beat the whipping cream on medium-high speed with an electric or stand mixer in a large bowl. Beat for 10 minutes until it thickens and holds soft peaks on a spatula. Add 1 tsp. coconut extract and resume beating until stiff peaks form. Top the pie with the whipped cream and toasted coconut.
  3. To toast coconut, spread it in an ungreased pan and bake in the oven on 350 degree until golden brown, stirring occasionally.

This is probably one of my favorite desserts and I’m getting cravings just thinking about this recipe… I’ve been in a coconut mood lately and am thinking of baking some South Beach-friendly coconut macaroons tomorrow, especially since I have a fresh coconut sitting on my counter.

The dinner with the family last weekend was a great success. The ribs came out tender, my first stab at mashed potatoes got the approval of my Dad, and Nana’s macaroni & cheese was delicious, even though I forgot the salt.

I will update tomorrow about the South Beach Diet itself. I’ve had a couple people ask me what it’s all about, and I think it’ll be good to shed some light on what I think is one of the healthiest “diets” out there.

Enjoy!

On Fleas & Channeling Paula Deen

Life has been kind of crazy and sleep-deprived these past few days. Abby had fleas; about 40-50 “sand fleas– the nasty kind,” according to the disgusted groomer. I feel like such a negligent pet owner. In my defense, Abby is 95% indoor-only, long-haired and we have brown carpets, so I had no idea this was going on.

We got her shaved with a lion cut, Frontlined and we “fumigated” our place today, so I’m praying we don’t have this problem anymore. She was pretty pissed off about the whole thing:

I’ve also been designing my new photography website and it’s taking me forever. I’m pretty happy with the way it’s turning out though, and now I just need to update the portfolios– I have tons of new pieces waiting to be uploaded.

Cooking has been the last thing on my mind lately, but it has to change since I’m doing the South Beach Diet again. I had success the past few times I’ve done it, but never had the time or motivation to commit to the intense cooking it requires (and creativity.) You have to plan out five meals/snacks a day, include vegetables with every meal (including breakfast…) and forgo starches and sugars for a while, and ultimately limit them. It’s not a crazy fad diet though- more like healthy eating principles and guidelines on how to integrate them in your life.

And as fate would have it, my family is coming over to our apartment tomorrow night to drop off my baby brother who is spending the weekend with us, and I volunteered to cook dinner. I was in a Paula Deen mood when I decided on the menu, and must not have been thinking straight: ribs, mashed potatoes, cornbread, macaroni and cheese, a salad and a cake (still debating what). This is like a diet kamikaze. But I guess it will test out my down-home cooking chops and motivation. It’s too late to change the menu at any rate since I have 2lbs of pulled pork baby back ribs in the fridge…

The mac & cheese is for the vegetarian boyfriend, who can’t have ribs nor exist solely on mashed taters. I’ll grill-up some pieces of frozen chicken with a homemade sugar-free bbq sauce, shrimp cocktail and salad for me (and maybe indulge in a rib or two).

I’m happy to be back on SB now that I’m graduated and have time. It’ll expand my cooking repertoire and force me to learn some new recipes while getting healthier. As a plus, Indian and Thai mesh well into the SB principles, so I’ll use it as an excuse to dig out my light coconut milk and make some curries too.

Now if you have a minute, watch this… it’s probably the scariest thing I’ve ever seen:

Mañana is good enough for me

In my last post I mentioned that I would be taking a hiatus from sweets and decadence. Well, that didn’t happen for long. We had some friends over for dinner last night and decided on a Mexican feast, which of course means margaritas, carne asada, tostada bar and tres leches as the finale.

The boyfriend was ridiculously nice and went out to buy all the fixings and ingredients at El Metate Market, which was introduced to be by Iris last month. Their carne asada is uh-mazing and cheap! I got the approval from our friend Sabrina, whose family comes from Mexico City and her boyfriend Terry, who is half Mexican and… Dutch? Being half Mexican myself and raised in a family that almost opened up a taco chain called California Taco Company, I know a little about good carne as well.

Anyhow, my poor vegetarian boyfriend went to El Metate, and in broken Spanish ordered 2lbs of carne asada, which was delivered to him in a nice, juicy plastic bag. Many thanks to him for this sacrifice.

To make a delicious tostada bar, you can use: cheese, carne asada, tomatoes, homemade pico de gallo, refried beans, cilantro, onion, a spicy salsa (El Metate has a great one), guacamole, extra avocado and some rice. I made cilantro rice, with a little butter, cilantro and lime added in. Have all the fixings out so everyone can top their tostada with their choice of toppings, and that’s that.

This is a vegetarian tostada for lunch since I packed up the left-over meat for our guests. I personally think the vegetarian version is just as good. The boyfriend loves these.

Pair it with some Jarritos (and tequila) and some colorful flowers in a plastic water bottle, and you’ve got yourself one tasty and colorful lunch.

Now, onto the pastel:
I could not find my beloved Joy of Cooking (hint, hint: gift idea) which is sad since I love their version and have made it many times with success. Instead I used a recipe from Pati’s Mexican cooking blog, which seemed pretty legit, but it came out really dense. I normally like my tres leches to be super moist and soggy, but this was quite cake-like and spotty with dry spots even though I doubled the milk. A perfectly textured tres leches requires a really light sponge cake. If you’re tempted to try this dessert be careful when scouring the internet for a recipe: tres leches should NOT have oil or butter in it, and AllRecipes top pick is not doing justice to this dessert.

The cake is simple enough. Beat nine egg whites until soft peaks form. Then, add 1/2 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form (you should be able to turn the bowl upside down with the egg whites not moving). In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks until they are creamy and light in color. Add 1/2 cup of sugar to that along with a teaspoon of vanilla and beat for 3-5 minutes. Slowly add the yolks to the bowl of whites with a spatula, folding them in. Add 2 cups of flour (I might add less next time) and fold in until incorporated. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 360.

Once it is finished, poke holes in the cake with a chopstick or skewer. Mix together 2 cans of evaporated milk, 2 cups of heavy whipping cream and 2 cans of condensed milk with a whisk. Pour over the cake slowly, trying to get the middle drenched first. If you double the milk you will probably have extra, which is always nice to serve on the side. Let the cake soak for at least an hour in the fridge, if not overnight.

You can top it with fresh heavy whipping cream and cherries. Someday I’m going to make a coconut version of this with coconut milk, maybe for my step-mom who loves coconut and tres leches.

I’ll leave you with this lovely, semi-racist song by my all-time fav, Peggy Lee. I’m definitely waiting until mañana to put desserts and refried things behind me.

A pound of love

It happened as I thought it would:  a pound of See’s chocolates later and I’m convinced I definitely gained more than a pound during the past two days of debauchery.

Let me re-cap my “cheat day” (which turned into “cheat days”) as of Sunday–

Breakfast was comprised of onion bagels, whipped cream cheese, fresh blueberry pancakes, cheesy scrambled eggs, coffee and chocolate truffles from TJ’s.

Then Dhiren pulled out the pound of chocolates from See’s, which made me unbelievably happy (though, not as happy as the gorgeous ring he bought me!!!) 

I love Valentine’s Day– the only day where you can binge on decadent chocolates  served in a big, pretty heart-shaped box (although now I realize that the heart alludes more to heartburn you endure later than love).  For dinner we went to El Torito, where I packed in about 8 freshly made flour tortillas (served with honey butter), 2 huge peach margaritas, a shot of tequila and fish tacos.  MMM.

I don’t regret it, but I definitely feel the mental challenge of climbing back “on the wagon.”  But tomorrow I’m beginning my fitness regime at Newport Beach–one hour of walking at 7AM and I’m planning my meals out now to avoid temptation and having to make any decisions:

2 eggs, tomatoes with olive oil and salt & pepper
15 almonds & a cheese
Arugala salad w/ 1/2 c. of Indian lentils
non-fat Greek yogurt w/ 15 blueberries
turkey burger and asparagus

I’m also going to sport my pedometer to make sure I hit 10,000 steps and up the water intake.  I’m determined to lose 2 pounds by Friday morning damn it and I need to meet my weekly goals in order to hit my target weight by my senior recital!