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Recipe: Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Oatmeal Bars

11.28.2013


So because these have oatmeal in them and pumpkin (which it turns out is actually very good for you), these are kind of like healthy breakfast bars in my eyes. Yes... one a day keeps the doctor away or something to that regards is what I've been telling myself all this week while I scarf one down each morning. I actually really like the crumbly texture of these guys and paired with over sized dark chocolate chips that melt in your mouth make it all the better. This is my first go at making any kind of breakfast bar and I am so happy they turned out well. A little fun fact about these guys, they are gluten free! Due to co-workers with various dietary constraints (one of them being gluten), I've been finding myself searching the web for new kinds of recipes... gluten, dairy, or chocolate free... vegan friendly... the list combined could shock and amuse! So while a recipe like this one did seem a little intimidating at first, I am welcoming the challenge, not quite sure what I'll be getting each time. If you wanted to turn this one into a vegan friendly and/or dairy free recipe, just take out the chocolate chips or get dairy free ones... the possibilities are endless.

Ambitious Kitchen Recipe (which I altered), makes 12 bars (I cut mine pretty big!)

Ingredients
  • 3 cups gluten free oats, steel cut
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie fill)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips, plus 2 tbsp. for sprinkling on top
Directions
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line the bottom and the sides of a 8" x 11" baking pan with foil, leaving a bit of foil over the edge to help with removal later. Lightly spray foil with non-stick spray, set aside.
  • Make flour by grinding down the oats in a blender or food processor until it starts to resemble flour. You may have to shake the blender a few times to ensure that all the oats have been blended and it's ok if it's not perfectly smooth, mine had a little texture.
  • Whisk together in a medium bowl 2 1/2 cups of the oat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, brown sugar, vanilla extract, oil, and applesauce for 1-2 minutes or until the consistency is smooth an creamy. Slowly start adding in the oat flour mixture and mix until just combined.
  • Gently fold in 1/3 cup of chocolate chips and mix with a spatula. Pour batter into prepared pan and sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips on top. 
  • Bake for 15-25 minutes or until knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes in baking pan before lifting by foil flaps and placing on a wire rack. Let cool completely before cutting into 12 bars... you can cut them smaller or bigger if you like.
  • Serve with a tall glass of milk... enjoy!
Check out some other amazing pumpkin based recipes on the Pumpkin Series!

***Today I am thankful for Thanksgiving... both a day of relaxing and giving thanks!***

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Recipe: Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

11.26.2013


When searching the web for countless pumpkin ideas, I was pleasantly surprised by all the savory recipes I discovered! I guess I always saw pumpkin as more of a desert sort of thing... you know, because it's main claim to fame is the pumpkin pie and all. And since sweets isn't necessarily my thing (I do love baking them though!) I thought trying out a few savory recipes would be right up my alley. Oh and can I just say that this pumpkin mac and cheese is as delicious as it sounds! It's every bit as satisfying and comforting as the good ol' traditional mac and cheese should be and then some with a sweet hint of pumpkin that lingers on the taste buds. I may have been compelled to make this out of sheer desperation (hubs is out of town and I"m fending for myself) and if there was going to be one meal I didn't mind eating on repeat, I had a hunch this was going to be it!

The Lemon Bowl Recipe (which I adjusted), 6 servings

Ingredients
  • 12 oz whole wheat elbows, cooked al dente
  • 2 tbsp. all purpose flour
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar (2% reduced fat)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie fill)
  • 1 tbsp. dijon
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt (low fat)
  • 2 tbsp. bread crumbs (I used Stacey's pita chips)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
Directions
  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Spray the bottom and sides of a medium sized casserole dish with cooking spray, set aside.
  • Place the cooked pasta in a large bowl and set aside.
  • In a medium sauce pan, combine milk and flour, whisk continuously over medium heat until it begins to thicken (about 5-7 minutes).
  • Stir in shredded cheese, pumpkin, dijon, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.Whisk until combined and the cheese has melted, the sauce will begin to thicken further (about 5 more minutes).
  • Pour pumpkin cheese sauce over the cooked pasta and mix until evenly coated.
  • Stir in plain yogurt, mixing well, and then pour into baking dish.
  • Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, and olive oil.
  • Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until the contents bubble and the top forms a nice crust and turns a nice golden brown... enjoy! 
Check out some other amazing pumpkin based recipes on the Pumpkin Series!


***Today I am thankful for whatever genius combined these two favorites of mine... I'll survive hubs being gone after all***

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Recipe: Pumpkin S'mores Bars

11.25.2013


These lovely concoctions incorporate a tasty seasonal injection of pumpkin to everyone's favorite childhood snack, the good ol' smores. And being in a bar form make them all the more practical to eat, no campfire necessary! The oven seems to roast and toast the marshmallows just fine, making them the right amount of gooey to melted shards of chocolate. The crumbled graham cracker adds for a nice crunch before you sink your teeth into pumpkiny goodness! Kind of like a brownie hybrid, but not quite... these sure confused, delighted, and amused my co-workers. I think if I were to try this recipe again, I'd opt for a dark chocolate since I prefer the bitterness, but for these I decided to stick with the all American classic, Hershey's!

My Baking Addiction Recipe, makes 12 bars (I cut mine pretty big!)

Ingredients
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg (room temperature)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie fill)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 chocolate bars, chopped
  • 2 graham crackers, broken into chunky crumbs
  • 1 3/4 cup mini marshmallows
Directions
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Line the bottom and sides of a 9" x 13" baking pan with foil, leaving a bit of of foil over the edges to help removal later. Lightly spray foil with non-stick spray, set aside.
  • Whisk flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie, and salt in a medium sized bowl, set aside.
  • Using a handheld mixer, cream together the butter and sugars on a medium-high speed until smooth.
  • Add in the egg and vanilla, mixing until incorporated.
  • Beat in the pumpkin puree and note that mixture may appear curdled.
  • Reducing speed to low, gently add in the dry ingredients, mixing until combined.
  • Spread mixture into foil lined pan, smoothing out and topping with crushed graham crackers, chopped chocolate, and mini marshmallows.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick in the center comes out clean.
  • Place pan on wire rack and let cool completely before removing from pan using the foil flaps.
  • Cut bars as little or as big as desired... enjoy!
Check out some other amazing pumpkin based recipes on the Pumpkin Series!


***Today I am thankful for marshmallows and graham crackers... they take this treat to the next level!***

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Recipe: Seeded Pumpkin Bread


Hi... hello there! it's your favorite procrastinator here reporting late (of course) for duty! So this year I started off with the best of intentions... I even got a calendar for easier planning. I started brainstorming back in early September, determined to dazzle you all with an exciting assortment of pumpkiny recipes this year sprinkled throughout other content, of course. I even bought the bulk of my ingredients (canned pumpkin and the go to spices) early enough... and what's more, I even started baking well in October. Yet somehow here I find myself (again) with recipes and pictures that still haven't been shared and because my brain will automatically switch off of pumpkin once Thanksgiving has rolled around, it's pumpkin marathon time! So get ready for some new and delicious recipes every day this week! That's right guys, from today until Thursday aka turkey day, it'll be nothing but pumpkin goodness here on the blog. You are welcome... or I am sorry in advance, whichever works for you. I hope you feel inspired to try any of these or any of the ones from last year's pumpkin series for your festive gathering this year. Make sure to let me know in the comments if you try any of these or have any recipes of your own to suggest as I'm sure this obsession will continue in future years to come... one can never have enough pumpkin recipes, am I right? I am happy to report that this seeded pumpkin bread was welcomed with arms (and mouths) wide open in the office and devoured almost instantly. It's a softer bread that is surprisingly not too sweet so even hubs and I were able to enjoy a few slices. I may have eaten a honey slathered slice for breakfast for a few days in a row so I won't judge if you decide to eat the whole load in one sitting... it's that good!

Skinny Taste Recipe (which I adjusted), makes a 9" x 5"loaf

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie fill)
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • baking spray
  • 2 tbsp. salted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
Directions
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9" x 5" loaf pan with baking spray, set aside.
  • Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, pumpkin spice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt in a  medium bowl by whisking, set aside.
  • In a large bowl mix oil, egg whites, pumpkin puree and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed until thick, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Add in the flour mixture slowly, blending on a low speed until combined. Make sure not to over mix.
  • Pour batter into loaf pan and smooth at the top as best you can.
  • Top loaf with pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and sprinkle with extra cinnamon.
  • Bake on the center rack for 50 - 55 minutes or until an inserted toothpick in the center comes out clean.
  • let the pan cool completely on a wire rack before removing loaf, bread should be room temperature.
  • Slice and spread with butter or honey... enjoy!
Check out some other amazing pumpkin based recipes on the Pumpkin Series!


***Today I am thankful for the start of fall... it's finally beginning to feel like it too!***

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Through The Looking Glass...

11.23.2013

 ^^^hooray for sun flares!^^^
 ^^^lovely reflections^^^
^^^pink skies^^^

Around 4ish I noticed some of my coworkers sneakily walking up to various windows around our office building... camera phones in hand... secretive smiles on their faces. Intrigued (and bored), I asked what they were up to and the response was something right up my alley. M had figured out a way to take pictures of the stunning views through our windows. I know, it sounds kind of ridiculous... like what could be so complicated about that right? The things is, while we are surrounded by stunning views and get to witness the most majestic sunsets L.A. has to offer, the million office lights, monitor lights, etc. create for some crazy glares and reflections when trying to take pictures. Something that when you let your imagination run with and can lead to some pretty great photos like this one and this one, but still it's frustrating when what you really want is to just capture what's going on through the looking glass. So M's revolutionary and mind blowing trick, lay your smart phone flush up against the window and that eliminates all and any glare/reflection... genius! The results are breathtaking (except for the last one with some minor reflection that I think still looks pretty rad) and sure it helps that we are lucky enough to work on the 25th floor of a building that has floor to ceiling windows. It's easy to forget and take for granted but 'm happy to say that today was one of those few days were I stopped... I mean working and thinking and whatever other nonsense usually distracts me from these gorgeous views, and took it all in. If you could have seen us, the lot of us running around from window to window (as you can probably imagine, there are A LOT of windows), each of us trying to capture what we saw through every angle imaginable. It was so refreshing and exhilarating and it really reminded me that I need to stop sweating the small stuff. I mean how can I when things far more important and beautiful surround me at all times. I just have to remember to really look.

- iPhone 5, Untreated

***Today I am thankful for the breathtaking views I get to enjoy from my window... sigh!^^^

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Musha...

11.18.2013

 ^^^spicy tuna dip^^^
 ^^^saikoro steak^^^
 ^^^scallop shumai^^^
 ^^^lobster roll^^^
 ^^^santa monica pier^^^

So our three year anniversary quickly approached and in true Beale fashion, we had no real plans. I mean, we had pretty much decided to keep it low key since it was after all, a school (work) day and we jointly splurged on a leather gift for this year, but still we knew we wanted to celebrate even in the smallest of ways. Traditionally (as in the previous two years) we had celebrated with Indian since were lucky enough to be spoiled by some of the best curry places in all of London living where we did. But unfortunately, good Indian (yes we are a bit snobby when it comes to this cuisine) is hard to come by out here. So we switched it up this year with  Japanese fusion restaurant Musha and were pleasantly surprised!

It was rated highly among Zagat, Urban Spoon, and other such websites (yes we are foodies that usually check out reviews) and so we felt pretty confident about our choice. After trying to make reservations and failing (it's that popular of a place even on a Thursday night!), we opted to try our luck as walk ins. Would you believe me if I said we were sat immediately?!? Because we were! Must have been anniversary luck or something because that just NEVER happens to us! The place itself is not at all what I was expecting... it's on the smallish, or shall we say intimate, side of things. The decor matched the vibe of the place, somewhere to really unwind and focus on great food. Their menu is a mixture of authentic and original tapa style dishes and so of course, we just had to pick a bunch to share. It's one of my favorite ways of eating out with hubs since he's much more the adventurer type when it comes to ordering. I can easily get stuck in a rut and happily order the same thing time after time. Satisfying, perhaps... but not very exciting hu? I listed some of the dishes we ordered above and highly recommend them all since I loved each and every dish we tried! One of the coolest was definitely the saikoro steak where you grill your own meat at the table. It gets a little smokey but way worth it for that char grilled taste!

Our waiter, also known as Mr. Dan the Man was really helpful in helping us order, suggesting some of his favorites... and that Dan the Man, he did us good! It was such a fun night and I especially loved getting to try new things with hubs... it's one of my all time favorite things about marriage I'm finding, sharing new experiences together. We caught up which was really nice and so refreshing to do without all the distractions that come with being at home... tv, computer, phones, etc. I will most definitely be insisting in some more dinner dates in the future! It was also really nice to have an excuse to dress up and sip on some wine... and that hubs of mine, he cleans up nice! Funnily enough, the couple sat next to us were talking about marriage and I overheard the guy saying how he didn't see any real reason to get married while she desperately searched for reasons worth marrying. Oh sigh, I wanted to tell him that marrying to get married was most certainly not worth it... but when you find the right person, your best friend and soul mate (holy mush overload, I know!) it's as natural as breathing fresh air. I'm filled with so much love and pride every time I get to announce hubs as my mister... and I know, marriage might not be for everyone but it suits us perfectly.

After dinner we had a nice romantic stroll along the beach and ended up at the pier which was nice. It smelled of fresh fish in that good you're out at sea and catching your dinner sort of way... what can I say, I grew up around fishing so for some weird reason, the smell is comforting to me. The sea and ocean merged beautifully together in darkness and only the bouncing reflection of the pier lights danced across the waves. Also glimmering proudly was the Santa Monica Pier ferris wheel in all it's red, white, and blue glory. And what made this perfect night even better you might ask? When hubs didn't mind meeting up with an old friend of mine from my NYC days that was only in town for the night and I hadn't seen in years... that my friends, is a good man!

***Today I am thankful for a great three years with the love of my life... he really is my best friend***
 

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