Mini Chocolate Cupcakes w/ Raspberry Filling & Whipped Chocolate Ganache

Decadent dark chocolate and vibrant red raspberries can brighten up any snow day.  Good luck having just one. Or two.

Decadent dark chocolate and vibrant red raspberries can brighten up any snow day. Good luck having just one. Or two.

Classes were canceled today due to an inch of snow on the ground… or rather ice… which was probably warranted given that I could have easily ice-skated around town without ever hitting an ice-free dry patch. Coming from up North where snowmageddon is becoming the new winter norm – just look at Boston – the fact that a dusting of ice causes cars to be stranded on the highway, people to clear their sidewalks with a shovel meant for digging, not moving snow, and kids ‘sledding’ in parking lots using plastic storage bins, trays and whatever else they can find is pretty hilarious. Winter preparedness score: 3/10. But who really needs to be all that prepared for snow and ice down here anyway when the weather is usually delightfully temperate – two weekends ago it was in the low 70s and sunny. All things aside though, a snow day is a snow day and I’ll take what I can get.

Snow days are among my favorite kinds of days to whip up some delicious foodie creations. I first thought about trying to make some sort of healthified dish or baked good as I often would and in fact did last year during major snowstorms one and two. Then I realized that this particular snow day has fallen just post-Valentines Day and on Fat Tuesday (a.k.a Fattys Day). In celebration I figured I should make some golden-brown, sugar-laden fastnacht doughnuts… but I didn’t have any frying oil on hand. I did have lots of chocolate though. And raspberries. And so I decided to make some real dessert: mini chocolate cupcakes with raspberry filling and a whipped ganache frosting. Maybe it isn’t super healthy, but is super tasty.

The dietitian in me says that making mini cupcakes as opposed to larger ones is a great way to manage your sweet tooth. Bake a large batch, freeze half and package the rest individually or in pairs for when you get a chocolate craving every now and again. A great strategy. If and only if you have the self-control to keep yourself from wolfing down more than just 1 or 2, which I usually do. But you do have to indulge sometimes, right?

Recipe:

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cook time: about 10 minutes
Cooling time: 20 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes

Yield: 3 dozen mini cupcakes or 18 regular cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the ganache:

1 cup heavy whipping cream
8 oz. good quality chocolate, chopped or in chip form (I used 4oz Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate and 4oz Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate)

For the cupcakes:

1 stick of butter (8 tablespoons)
2 oz. semisweet chocolate chopped or in chip form
½ cup cocoa powder
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup sugar
½ cup sour cream (I used light, but feel free to use full-fat sour cream or even Greek yogurt)

Good quality raspberry jam or preserves
Fresh raspberries as a garnish

Instructions:

Begin by preparing the ganache the easy way:

  1. First heating up the cream in a large bowl in the microwave for about a minute or two, depending on the strength of your microwave.
  2. Next, add the chocolate chips to the cream and stir until they are melted and well-incorporated. The ganache should be completely smooth and have a nice sheen to it.
  3. Set aside until ganache cools to room temperature, or place it in the refrigerator to expedited the process. If you choose to refrigerate it, let it cool down, but no so much that the ganache becomes completely solid as this will make whipping it up rather difficult.

Move onto the cupcakes:

  1. Slice the butter into small pieces and microwave it in a large microwave safe mixing bowl for about a minute or until it has melted. Add chocolate and cocoa powder and stir until it is mixed in. Set aside to cool a bit.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the mini cupcake pans with liners so you’re all set to go when the batter is ready.
  3. Over a mixing bowl Sift together the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.
  4. Add sugar and vanilla to the chocolate mixture after it has cooled a bit. Then add the eggs and mix to incorporate. Add sour cream and stir to combine.
  5. Mix dry ingredients into wet until completely incorporated. The batter should be fairly thick.
  6. Fill the mini cupcake liners with batter until they are about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 9-12 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. For regular cupcakes, bake 18-22 minutes.
  7. Let cupcakes cool for about 5 minutes in the pan and then remove them to allow them to cool more quickly.
  8. While cupcakes are cooling, whip up the cooled chocolate ganache with a hand mixer for 2-5 minutes until desired frosting consistency is reached.
  9. When cupcakes have cooled, cut a cone out of the top of each mini cupcake using a sharp knife so that you have a place to put the raspberry filling. Add the raspberry jam to the cone-shaped indent and then frost with whipped chocolate ganache. Top with a fresh raspberry and voilà! Snow day creation, or really anytime creation complete.

Notes:
Recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

Oh so many cupcakes, so little time.

Oh so many cupcakes, so little time.

Super Simple Roasted Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)

Roasted Chick Peas! A simple, quick and healthy go-to snack.

Roasted Chick Peas! A simple, quick and healthy go-to snack.

Super Bowl Sunday is upon us. An all-American event that has us on the edge of our seats in anticipation of:

  • who will win the big game
  • whether or not the halftime show will trump last year’s performance (or if there will be any scandalous mishaps equivalent to the infamous nipslip wardrobe malfunction of superbowl XXXVIII in 2004)
  • and commercials companies shell out the big bucks for to entertain us and, more often than not, make us go “So… what was that commercial for?” or “Ummm……what?!??!”

Of course the big day is also a social event that necessarily brings us together around food. Chips, dips, salsa (Grapefruit Salsa, anyone) chili, wings, pizza, beer, sliders and cheesesteaks (shout-out to Philly) which all rank high among game day fare. Now I’m all for this crowd-pleasing man food. But what also ranks high is the number of calories we consume during the Super Bowl; reportedly, the average American will eat 2400 calories worth of food at a typical Super Bowl party. That’s an entire recommended day’s worth of food for a moderately active man. Plus, the majority of that is likely calorically and not nutritionally dense. A recent research study that compares consumer food buying habits and total number of calories available from food purchased weekly indicates that during the week of the Super Bowl, Americans buy the most calorically dense, unhealthy food as compared to any time throughout the year – even Thanksgiving.

Given this information, I thought it’d be nice to break free from the status quo and add a healthy option to the Super Snack table at my friend’s house. But a healthy something that’s more creative than raw vegetables on a plate with a vessel of ranch dressing in the middle. And something that is simple to make in advance, is easily transportable, healthy and tastes great. So I went with roasted chickpeas with a spice blend of cumin, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, dried chipotle pepper and salt. They literally take 5 minutes to prepare out of a can, 30 minutes to bake and then you’re done. Easy. The perfect snack. And nutritious too. They’re high in protein, dietary fiber, iron and electrolytes potassium and magnesium. Crunchy and satisfying, you’ll be snacking on them right out of the oven and lucky if you save any for later.

Recipe:

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

2 15oz cans cooked chickpeas/garbanzo beans (or cook your own – about 4 cups cooked)
1 teaspoon cumin
¾ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon high heat oil

Instructions:

1. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleanup. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. In a small bowl, combine cumin, paprika, salt, chipotle pepper, garlic powder and onion powder and set aside.
3. Remove chickpeas from can and give them a quick rinse. Dry them thoroughly using a paper towel and place them in a medium size bowl.
4. Add oil and spice mixture to chickpeas and toss them until they are well coated.
5. Spread out spiced chickpeas on baking sheet. Cook about 30-40 minutes, stirring them once halfway through, until they are crispy and golden brown. Let them cool and store at room temperature.

 

Love my chicks, crisp 'n golden

Love my chicks, crisp ‘n golden

Notes:
– Feel free to vary the recipe and make your own spice mixture that suits you fancy. Simple salt and pepper, a taste of India with some curry powder or garam masala, Maryland style with some Old Bay seasoning or try cinnamon and sugar for something on the sweeter side. Be creative. Go wild. That’s what cooking’s all about.

Mushroom Ravioli w/ Tarragon White Wine Sauce & Asparagus

Mushroom Ravioli with White Wine Sauce and Asparagus

Mushroom Ravioli w/ Tarragon White Wine Sauce & Asparagus

 

As a kid I was surprisingly… or maybe not so surprisingly… a picky eater. Some common fruits like apples, bananas, oranges, pears, etc. were acceptable, but virtually all vegetables were out of the question. My brother and I only really enjoyed eating baby carrots, steamed broccoli and lettuce doused in dressing, though we were at least open to trying other vegetables before we regularly put them into ‘food jail’ on our plates (as a side note, I have to say that I am happy my parents at least forced us to try vegetables at every meal. Eventually I grew up and now enjoy, in one way or another, every single vegetable I have tried. Even green peas, which seemed like the bane of my existence as a child…). Otherwise, our diet was mostly composed of finger foods, snacks and pasta – the latter of which was always and still is one of my favorites.

Just about every week at my Mom’s house we would have frozen cheese ravioli with tomato sauce and Kraft Parmesan cheese. It was always such a filling and comforting dish, easy for my parents to make and provided ample leftovers that a growing boy like myself at the time would be hard-pressed to turn down. I mean you really can’t go wrong with pasta and sauce.

In reminiscing about the ravioli of my childhood, I decided to make myself a healthier and more grown-up version without the who-knows-what preservatives and food additives present starting with fresh pasta as the foundation. Now making fresh pasta sounds like a daunting task but really isn’t. It just takes flour, eggs, olive oil, a dash of salt and a little time to knead and roll out the dough. I find it relaxing and well worth the time invested given the quality and versatility of the final product. You can do almost anything you like with it: make noodles like linguini or angel hair, fill it with whatever you are in the mood for and shape it into tortellini or ravioli (as I did), or even add some flavor to the pasta dough itself with, say, beets, artichoke or even chocolate for something different in the best way possible.

I decided to go ahead and make mushroom ravioli with asparagus in a tarragon white wine sauce. Partly because I was craving some meaty, earthy mushrooms, but mostly because I had some good white wine on hand that I figured I might as well put to good use. And by good use I mean as an excuse to open up a bottle on a weeknight. Though I am in grad school, so I guess I always have a legitimate pretext to pop bottles.

Recipe:

Prep time: 30 mins

Cooking time: 1 hr, combined
Total time:1 hr 30 mins

Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

For the pasta:

2 cups semolina flour

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon olive oil

For the mushroom filling:

¼ lb. dried porcini mushrooms, rehydrated* and minced

2 tablespoon olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. assorted mushrooms, minced (I used cremini, oyster, shiitake and button)
¼ cup ‘splash’ of white wine
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
½ teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper, to taste

1 15 oz. container low-fat ricotta cheese OR make your own (follow Indian paneer recipe through step 4, but do not press. Depending on how long you let the cheese stand will determine how moist it is.) Also, you’ll probably only use about 10 oz. for the filling, but extra left over also be used as a garnish for extra cheesy goodness.

For the white wine sauce:

1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 cup dry white wine (I used a chardonnay)
1 ½ tablespoons butter
1 ½ tablespoons flour
¾ cup vegetable stock OR liquid left over from soaked porcini mushrooms
¼ cup shredded Parmesan Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons half & half, cream OR whole milk
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
salt and pepper, to taste

Optional:

Steamed asparagus, chopped

Instructions:

*If using dried mushrooms, make sure to rehydrate them with about a 1 ¼ cup of room temperature water before you start making the dough. By the time you finish making the dough and are ready to use these mushrooms, they should be all set to go.

Begin by making the pasta dough:

  1. Sift semolina and all-purpose flour with salt. Create a mound out of flour and salt mixture on the countertop or a large cutting board and make a well in the middle.
  2. Lightly beat eggs and olive oil together. Pour into flour well on countertop.
  3. Now this is the fun part.Using your hands, begin incorporating the egg into the flour mixture. Eventually, you should have a nice ball of dough that comes together nicely. If it is too wet, add a little flour; if too dry, add a little water.
  4. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes. The dough should be elastic and slightly sticky. When finished kneading, shape into a ball, cover and set aside at room temperature for about a half and hour.

Meanwhile make the mushroom filling:

  1. While the pasta dough is resting, you should have enough time to make the mushroom filling. Start off by adding olive oil to a large skillet and heating it over medium heat. Add shallot and cook for about 3-4 minutes until translucent and fragrant. Add garlic and cook an additional minute.
  2. Add minced mushrooms, including rehydrated porcini mushrooms. Make sure to reserve the liquid from the porcinis and set aside. Cook mushroom mixture an additional minute or two and then add a good splash of white wine. Cook a few minutes longer until almost tender.
  3. Add dried tarragon, thyme, and salt & pepper, to taste, and cook for 1-2 minutes to allow flavors to combine.

Make the white wine sauce**:

  1. Add olive oil to a saucepan and heat it over medium-low heat. Add shallot and cook for 4-5 minutes until translucent. Add garlic and cook an additional minute.
  2. Pour in white wine and reduce over medium-low heat until about half of the liquid remains.
  3. Add butter to the saucepan and let it melt. Add flour and whisk until it is well combined.
  4. Add ¾ cup mushroom water (I guess that’s what I’d call it?) left over from porcini mushrooms, or add vegetable stock. Let it come to a boil and simmer until sauce has been reduced further. Add parmesan cheese and half & half and whisk until cheese is well combined.
  5. Finish off with tarragon, salt and pepper and whisk 1 minute longer to let flavors combine. Cover and set aside.

Assemble the ravioli:

  1. Take the dough you set aside earlier and turn onto a floured work surface. Roll out the pasta dough roughly into a rectangular shape until it is very thin – about 1/8“ to 1/16” thick. It should be thin, but not so thin that you can completely see through it or it will rip during assembly or the cooking process. If you have a pasta machine it makes this step infinitely easier AND you get ready-made pasta sheets, but I do not and this method works just fine for me.

    IMG_1364

    Rolling out the dough

  2. Add about a tablespoonful of mushroom filling and a dollop of ricotta cheese in a row, about every 2” apart (see picture below). When a row has been completed, cut the pasta into a strip using a pastry wheel or very sharp knife leaving a 1/2” margin on either side.

    Filling the ravioli with mushroom and cheesy goodness

    Filling the ravioli with mushroom and cheesy goodness

  3. Fill a small bowl with water. Dip your finger into the water and run it along the edges of the pasta with filling on top of it. This will help to seal the edges. Cut an equally sized strip of pasta and place over the half of with the filling. Press down to seal all sides.

    Forming the ravioli

    Forming the ravioli

  4. Cut individual raviolis into squares and make sure that they are sealed. For a more decorative edge, press edges with a fork all the way around. Set aside and cover.

    All set and ready to go!

    All set and ready to go!

  5. Repeat steps 2-3 until you have run out of filling and/or dough. When you are ready, add them to a large boiling pot of water (salted w/ a teaspoon or 2 of salt) and cook for about 2-5 minutes, or until raviolis float to the top and are al dente.
  6. Strain ravioli in a colander. Plate ravioli, topping them with white wine sauce (should be re-warmed if it cools down too much at this point) and freshly steamed asparagus, if desired. If you have some extra mushroom filling and ricotta left over as I did, feel free to add them on top as an extra tasty garnish.

Notes:

Pasta recipe adapted from Labensky, S., & Hause, A. (2007). On cooking: A textbook of culinary fundamentals. (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Prentice Hall.

** White wine sauce improvised from Wine Folly. This is an excellent resource that shows you how to structure a wine sauce without necessarily telling you what you have to put into it! I love this type of instruction because it teaches you how to cook rather than how to follow a recipe. Definitely worth taking a look at. Play around with the sauce and let me know what you think.

Glory to Morning Glory Muffins

Morning glory stud muffin

Morning glory stud muffin

Are you tired of eating the same old thing for breakfast every day? Because I know I am. Every morning I have either a bowl of cereal, Greek yogurt, fruit, toast, eggs, and/or oatmeal. I try to eat a higher protein breakfast as doing so helps with short-term satiety and long-term regulation and maintenance of healthy body weight and lean body mass (i.e. muscle). And, I do have to say that I really enjoy what I eat for breakfast every day, but sometimes I need a little change in my life and what better way to start than with breakfast. It is 2015 after all.

Now I love muffins. But not the fluffy, cupcakey not-so-filling ones that you often see at the grocery store and elsewhere. I’m all about healthy, hearty muffins packed with nutrition. And these morning glory muffins are no exception. With shredded coconut, plump raisins, flax seed, shredded carrot and apple, Greek yogurt, and almonds you really can’t go wrong. There are quite a few ingredients that go into making these, but they all work together to create a moist and delicious muffin with plenty of antioxidants, protein, and fiber and will keep you going throughout the day. They are perfect with a cup of tea or coffee in the morning, or as a snack on the go. Enjoy!

Recipe:

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
Yield: 24 muffins

 

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
¼ cup wheat bran
¼ cup rolled oats
¼ cup ground flaxseed
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/3 cup slivered almonds
½ cup raisins

2 large carrots, peeled and grated (about 1 cup)
1 large tart apple, cored and grated
2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup honey
½ cup Greek yogurt
¼ cup almond butter, peanut butter or other nut butter. Oil can also be substituted.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used grapeseed oil)
2 tablespoons molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

 

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease or line muffin tins. I prefer to grease muffin tins for these muffins due to their low fat content. Sometimes I have found that in muffins with lower fat than others, like these muffins, end up sticking to liners more than desired.
2. Place the dry ingredients (whole wheat flour through ginger) in a large bowl. Whisk together until well mixed and then add in the shredded coconut, slivered almonds and raisins and set aside.
3. In a separate mixing bowl, add shredded carrots and apple and mashed banana and mix together. Add lightly beaten eggs and mix. Then, add honey, Greek yogurt, almond butter, vegetable oil, molasses and vanilla extract. Incorporate thoroughly.
4. Pour wet mixture over the dry mixture and stir until just blended. Do not over-mix and note that the batter will be fairly thick. Divide batter evenly among muffin tins (each muffin tin should be filled about ¾ of the way).
5. Bake for about 20 minutes until muffins come out golden brown. Allow to cool in muffin tins for about 5-10 minutes and then remove, placing muffins onto a cooling rack.

 

Oh hallelujah they're finally out of the oven!

Oh hallelujah they’re finally out of the oven!

 

Notes:

Adapted from Garnish with Lemon 

– These muffins freeze stunningly well, so don’t be afraid to make a double batch if desired.

Thai Red Curry w/ Tofu and Mixed Vegetables

Happy New Year! Thai red curry w/ tofu and mixed vegetables

Happy New Year! Thai red curry w/ tofu and mixed vegetables

Well it’s 2015, a new year, and it’s time to start keeping up this blog again. As a New Year’s resolution (one that I actually plan on keeping) I’ll be posting at least 45 new recipes this coming year, probably about once a week, depending on the time I have available. I’ve been super busy with graduate school where I’ve been studying nutrition and public health the past few months with an amazing group of like-minded people – mostly women – but that’s how the current environment exists for dietitians: 95% women and 5% men. Crazy, right?! Yet another reason why we need more men in the nutrition field, in the kitchen and invested in health. Anyway, it’s been a blast so far and I’m happy to finally be somewhere I feel that I belong, doing something that I really enjoy.

 

That said, it’s time to get cookin.’ Today I made one of my absolute favorite recipes: Thai red curry with tofu and mixed vegetables. It’s my own take on a Thai chicken curry dish I learned to make at a cooking class many years ago. It has many of the familiar tastes of Thai cuisine – lime juice, palm sugar, fish sauce and basil – that fuse together with coconut milk to create this complex, rich and comforting soup/stew (stoup?) that makes your taste buds dance around in your mouth for a while, leaving you yearning for more with each bite.

Mmmmmm! One of my favorite winter comfort foods!

Hands-down, one of my top 5 winter comfort foods

 

Now coconut milk has gained attention over the past few years for its many health benefits, but some have chastised it for its high fat content, about 15g of fat per third of a cup. But don’t be alarmed. Much of the fat in coconut milk is derived from medium-chained triglycerides (MCTs), also called MCFAs, or medium-chained fatty acids. I talked about these a bit in my last post, but here are some more tidbits about MCTs that I think you’ll find interesting. The body metabolizes these fats directly through the liver, differently than most saturated fats with longer chains, which makes it a good source of fat for active people who need a use a lot of energy on a daily basis, or people with gall bladder or digestive issues as bile is not used to break down this type of fat. MCTs in coconut milk, mostly in the form of lauric acid, also have antibacterial and antifungal properties in the body and can help to steady imbalances in the microbiome (the microbiome is the unique conglomeration of microorganisms that reside in one’s body, in case you were wondering).

 

I’m not saying that you should go out and stockpile your cupboards with coconut milk and hail it as the next big superfood. But I am saying that eating some every now and again, especially when it is used to make a Thai curry, is perfectly fine encouraged.

 

Recipe:

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 13.5 oz can Thai coconut milk
1-3 tbsp thai red curry paste*, depending on your spice tolerance
1/2 can water
1 zucchini, cut into quarters
1 yellow squash, cut into quarters
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1″ strips
1/2 medium sweet onion, cut into 1/2″ squares
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp fish sauce (can use soy sauce if you want to make this vegan)
2 tbsp palm sugar* or brown sugar
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 lb tofu, pressed and cut into 1″ cubes
1/4 cup basil leaves, chopped
Your favorite rice to serve the red curry over; I used brown short grain rice today

Instructions:

1. Begin by pressing the tofu. I usually cut the 1 lb. block in half and place it between two cutting boards with a paper towel underneath the tofu to catch excess water as it is released over time. I’ll then place some heavy object on the top cutting board (a cookbook or, let’s be honest, a text book at this point in my life…) and let it sit there about 20-30 minutes or until I am ready to use it.
2. Heat a wok or large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add only the coconut cream from the top of the can of coconut milk. Be sure not to shake the can before using it. It should be thick and creamy and measure to about one cup. Bring to a boil and then stir in the red curry paste. Cook until the remaining coconut water evaporates and the coconut cream ‘cracks’ – you should see red streaks of oil running through the cream.

3. Add the remaining coconut milk from the can. Add another half a can of water to the pan and return to a boil.
4. Add the zucchini, squash, bell pepper and onion. Cook about 3 minutes until the vegetables just start to soften. Then add the the lime juice, fish sauce, palm sugar and ginger. Simmer another minute or two to allow flavors to combine.
5. While the coconut milk concoction is simmering, remove the tofu from its pressing contraption and cut into 1″ cubes. Add them to the coconut milk curry and simmer a minute or two until they have absorbed the flavors and the vegetables are tender-crisp.
6. Remove from heat and add chopped basil leaves. Serve over traditional jasmine rice, brown rice, or your favorite grain.

Notes:
* Thai red curry paste and palm sugar can be found at your local asian market. Coconut milk can be found there as well, but most grocery stores nowadays carry coconut milk. Make sure NOT to get light coconut milk as it will not have the coconut cream on the top.

– This recipe can be made vegan by using soy sauce instead of fish sauce
– Other proteins can be used in place of tofu. Try adding chicken, beef or shrimp for something a little different. These should be added earlier in the cooking process (except for shrimp), depending on their respective cooking times.

 

Enjoying my curry outside on a brisk winter day

Enjoying my curry outside on a brisk winter day

Vegan Banana Bread w/ Fresh Blueberries

Vegan Banana Bread w/ Fresh Blueberries. Tastier and healthier than Grandma made it.

 

So earlier this summer while I was visiting my friend in Montreal, I baked some ol’ fashioned banana bread with some of the leftover bananas we had. And the good kind, too, made with real sweet cream butter, eggs, all-purpose white flour, sugar and…wait for it… Hershey’s chocolate chips, or “Chipits,” as they are branded in Canada. I mean had to add the chocolate chips, right? Partly to satisfy my chocolate cravings and partly to help reconcile the fact that I was no longer in Pennsylvania, home to Hershey’s famous chocolate.

Now just as I had finished mixing these into the batter, my friend said “why not add some of the fresh blueberries we still have in the refrigerator?” I had already added far too many chocolate chips to the batter than I should have, so I couldn’t very well add some blueberries because then there would be too many mix-ins and not enough batter to hold everything together. But I kept this idea in the back of my mind until I decided to make this vegan banana bread with fresh blueberries.

Now why did I make a vegan banana bread instead of following my former tried-and-true banana bread recipe? Good question, seeing as how I am not vegan. One reason is that I have that found vegan baked goods tend to be slightly healthier both nutritionally and for the environment than their non-vegan counterparts (though of course this is up for debate… or maybe it’s simply me trying to convince myself that this is the case). They are cholesterol-free, usually lower in saturated fats, and often have a greater amount of complex carbohydrates, depending on how they are made of course. Plus they have a lower environmental impact in terms of the carbon footprint they leave behind when compared to using animal products common to baked goods like eggs and dairy products.

Another reason is that real men aren’t afraid to bake. Or bake vegan for that matter. Baking, in general, and preparing baked goods in a vegan manner on top of that emphasizes the ‘feminine’ aspect associated with this method and means of food preparation and consumption. In our American culture, it’s acceptable for Mom to bake cookies and for Dad to grill steaks. But when you reverse the roles by having men get involved with baking…and then baking something vegan on top of that, the gendered stigma attached to it is amplified.

Back in July I came across a rather interesting article that looks at how a group of men are redefining masculinity through their choice to live a vegan lifestyle. To one of the men in this group, Joshua Katcher, the editor of The Discerning Brute,   a lifestyle blog for the “ethically handsome man,” says that being vegan is a way to redefine masculinity as protecting the environment rather than dominating it. It’s a way to assert a new kind of masculinity within the context of what it means to be a man in our society. And apparently more men today are asserting their own kind of masculinity by becoming vegan than are women. Surprisingly, according to a poll carried about by the Vegetarian Resource Group, shows that more men than women are vegan. Who knew?

For me, baking vegan treats and sharing them with others is a way to reappropriate masculinity in the kitchen, giving me and other men like me a way to say “hey, cooking and eating healthy food that’s good for you and for the environment can be cool. It can be masculine.” Plus, I like the challenge of trying to bake something or cook something in a non-conventional way just to see if I can make it come out the same, or better, than the original recipe. And in this case I feel as though I have succeeded. This vegan banana bread with fresh blueberries is extremely moist, not too dense and not overly sweet. I enjoy mine with some hot tea or coffee, or just as-is, warm out of the oven.

Recipe:

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 50-60 minutes
Total time: about 1 hr 15 minutes
Yield: 12 servings

Ingredients:

2 Flax Seed Eggs:
2 tbsp ground flax seed
6 tbsp water

1 ¾ cup white whole wheat flour
½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp cinnamon, or more/less depending on your love of cinnamon
1 ¼ cup very ripe bananas* (I used 3 medium bananas)
1/3 cup coconut oil**
a heaping 1/3 cup brown rice syrup  or maple syrup or sugar or your favorite sweetener + more if needed, depending on sweetness of bananas
1 tbsp molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
¼ cup hot water
¾ cup fresh blueberries
Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 325 °F. Then, prepare the flax seed eggs first by mixing 2 tbsp of ground flax seed with 6 tbsp water. Freshly ground flax seeds work the best, but using pre-ground flax also works just fine. Set aside for later use.
2. Sift together the white whole wheat flour, salt and cinnamon in a small mixing bowl and set aside.
3. Mash your very ripe bananas is a large mixing bowl. Add coconut oil, brown rice syrup or other sweetener, molasses and vanilla extract. Mix until everything is combined.
4. Add flax seed egg and stir until combined.
5. In a small bowl, dissolve baking soda in ¼ cup hot water. This will help to evenly disperse the baking soda throughout the batter and to pre-activate the baking soda before baking.
6. Add hot water and baking soda mixture to the banana mixture. Then, slowly incorporate the dry mixture until everything comes together. Try not to over-mix as the formation of too much gluten will cause the banana bread to become too chewy, which you don’t want. The batter should be fairly thick.
7. Pour batter into a greased 9”x 5” loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until top is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
8. Let cool until it is just warm and then dig in!

 

Fresh out of the oven! Oh so good!

 

Notes:

*Bananas should be brown and speckled and very soft to the touch, with a golden hue
**Coconut oil

Coconut oil has the luxuriousness of butter and gives a slightly more dense banana bread than using your favorite vegetable oil, owing to its higher content of saturated fat. But don’t be scared by this kind of fat. Even though it contains roughly 90% saturated fat, coconut oil contains lots of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), a.k.a. medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) diffuse directly through the hepatic portal system and don’t need to be broken down bile or other methods in the digestion process as longer chain fatty acids. When I was interning with a dietitian at a nursing home close to my home, I actually learned that MCT oil, often coming from coconuts, is used in dietary supplements to help individuals who have difficulty digesting or absorbing fats. This means that your body uses it mostly for efficient energy purposes, so don’t go eating spoonfuls out of the jar.  Coconut oil is also purported to have therapeutic uses from helping individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s to maintaining healthy skin and nails to improving thyroid health. But the validity of these health claims both for and against coconut oil is for another day. For now, just give coconut oil a try – you’ll like it.

Summertime Gluten-free Crab Cakes

Summertime Gluten-free Crab Cake atop a mountain of fresh greens, purple sticky rice and fresh veggies. Oh so good.

 

Well it has been a crazy, whirlwind of a summer for me thus far. My moms got married back in late June, I went to a family reunion celebration in Maine for the 4th of July weekend, and I just got back from a road trip with some friends to Montreal where I did the fitness challenge, Tough Mudder. If you’ve never heard of it, check it out here). Oh, and I went to the Jersey shore to visit my grandparents.

Actually, every summer since I was a kid, I’ve gone down to the Jersey shore to visit my Nana and Pop Pop at their beach house. I have many fond memories of tromping through the waves, basking on the sand, playing tennis with my grandparents, and strolling the boardwalk in pursuit of nothing more than a game of mini golf or skee-ball and a tub of Johnson’s Caramel Popcorn which is, hands-down, the best caramel corn I’ve ever had…though I admit that may be a bit bias in my views on this. Then after our jam-packed beach days, we’d return home where my Nana would cook dinner for us.

My Nana is an amazing cook. And I’m not saying that just because she’s my Nana. She has a real knack for improvising and improving upon standard recipes, giving them her own flair inspired by her Hungarian and Jewish roots and flavors New Mexico where she resides for 9 months out of the year. I remember her cooking foods like stuffed cabbage, beef brisket, grain salads with citrus and spices, potato latkes with spicy green chilies and Hungarian fruit soup –  many of which she taught me to make while cooking alongside her. Her energy in the kitchen, creative and resourceful approach to food preparation and willingness to teach unquestionably encouraged me to develop a passion for cooking in my teens and beyond.

This year, instead of my Nana cooking for me, I decided to make a crab cake dinner for her, my Pop Pop and my cousins who were also visiting while I was down the shore. A bit of a role reversal, for sure, but one that I am more than happy to take on. So here’s the recipe for my gluten-free crab cakes with mouth-watering blue crab, Jersey corn and fennel and Old Bay seasoning. It’s a fresh, delicious summertime dish and provides an excellent source of lean, high quality protein, zinc, copper and vitamin B-12. Try serving them over rice, on top of a salad or on a bun for a crab cake sandwich.
Recipe:

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes (8-10 minutes per batch)
Total time: 40 minutes
Yield 12-14 3” round x 1” thick crab cakes

Ingredients:

2 lbs fresh or canned blue crab meat
½ a large bell pepper, diced small
½ red onion, diced small
1 ear sweet corn (I used Jersey), cooked, with corn kernels removed from the cob
1 ½ tbsp Old Bay seasoning
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp dried fennel
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 ¼ cup gluten-free panko bread crumbs
¼ cup corn starch
1 ½ cups cornmeal to coat crab cakes
Instructions:

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine crab meat, bell pepper, onion and sweet corn kernels and mix well until all ingredients are evenly dispersed throughout.
2. Add Old Bay, black pepper, sea salt and fennel. Toss to combine.
3. Add lightly beaten eggs and mix into the crab meat mixture. Then add in gluten-free panko bread crumbs and corn starch. Incorporate these into the mixture until it comes together enough so that crab cakes will hold their shape. If it is too wet, simply add more bread crumbs or corn starch and if it is too dry, add an additional egg or some mayo to give it some moisture. Crab cakes are rather forgiving.
4.  Before you begin shaping crab cakes, begin warming up a lightly greased griddle or skillet over medium heat so that it will be ready to go when you finish shaping your cakes.
5. Take about a palm-sized amount of crab mixture and shape it into a cake, just as you would a burger. My cakes were about 3-inches around by 1 inch thick. I like ‘em big, but feel free to make them any size you want (though you will have to adjust the cooking time accordingly). Then coat the outside in cornmeal and set aside. The cornmeal will give it a nice crispy crust that contrasts nicely with the fluffy inside. Continue this until all of the crab cakes have been prepared.
6. Cook crab cakes 4-5 minutes per side, or until fully cooked through and golden on the outside. Serve immediately with brown rice or your favorite grain and veggies for a complete meal. And don’t worry, there will be plenty of leftovers!

Crab cake meal round one

 

Palak Paneer

Palak Paneer with fresh Spinach and homemade paneer over bay-flavored quinoa

Ever since I tried my first bite of Indian food, I was hooked on the complex flavor combinations, the spices and the more engaged manner of eating often missing from the American approach to cuisine. I was introduced to Indian food by one of my childhood friends whose parents came to the U.S. from Northern India. His mom was always cooking something tasty in the kitchen. I can distinctly remember savoring the chicken curry she would prepare for us, along with the freshly made naan I’d use to sop up all of the spicy gravy goodness. Oh, and the best part: I could eat with my hands! This was something that I couldn’t readily do at my own home, unless the food was deemed ‘finger food’ like sandwiches, hotdogs or light snack fare.

Honestly, I haven’t really thought too much about the way we literally eat our food. We eat the way that is expected of us according to what we have learned from our parents and the norms present in our culture at a certain point in time. For me, it was learning to eat with a knife and fork. For my friend, it was eating with your hands. For others, it’s eating with chopsticks of with flatbreads or chunks of food off of skewers.

With that said, I do still find it somewhat ironic that our Western way of eating has been viewed by us as more ‘elevated’ or more ‘correct’ and ‘proper’ than the way other cultures eat their food – from an imperialistic standpoint of course. Apparently it is more gentlemanly (or more ladylike) to eat with a fork and a knife nowadays, but in many ways, I find it to be more barbaric. Stabbing at your food with a fork? Sawing at it with a knife? I’d rather just eat with my hands or with chopsticks, thank you very much!

Experiencing a cuisine different from what I was used to gave me a chance to appreciate another culture and learn that there isn’t always one so-called ‘right’ or ‘proper’ way to do things. And, in fact, there might even be a better and simpler way to do things. So today, harkening back to my childhood experiences with getting to know Indian cuisine inspired me to cook one of my favorite Indian dishes – palak paneer, made with fresh spinach and homemade paneer, a cheese akin to a more solid whole milk ricotta.  I didn’t have any naan on-hand, so made it with a side of quinoa flavored with bay for a little extra protein. And perhaps, subconsciously, as a way to reconcile the cuisine of my household upbringing with Indian cuisine of my childhood.
Recipe:

Prep time: 15 minutes
Inactive time: 1 hour
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients:

1 gallon whole milk
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice or white vinegar*

2 tbsp oil
1 large sweet onion
1 hot pepper, minced, seeded and ribs removed to your liking (I used jalapeño this time; I like using Serrano too. Also note that the more seeds or rib left in the pepper, the hotter it will be)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp garam masala spice blend
1 ½ tsp coriander
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp or about 2 slices fresh ginger, minced
1 bay leaf
1 14-oz can fire roasted tomatoes
1 lb fresh spinach, chopped (or you can alternatively do frozen, if you like)
½ cup Greek yogurt
salt to taste
Paneer, cubed (included in recipe, though alternatively you could buy this at a specialty food store)

Instructions:

For the paneer:

1. Begin by bringing gallon of milk almost to a boil. This may take some time, so feel free to chop up some veggies in the meantime.
2. Turn off heat. Slowly add lemon juice or vinegar, stirring continuously. Within 10-15 seconds, you should see the curds separate from the whey.
3. Let stand about 5 minutes.
4. Line a colander with a cheese cloth, or place a very thin mesh strainer over a bowl. After the curds and whey have separated, pour over strainer or colander. Squeeze out excess water and let stand about 20-30 minutes to drain and solidify a bit.
5. After letting curds drain, transfer them to a dish with high sides and place a heavy object on top to form the paneer so it will be more solid and easier to cut. Personally, I put the paneer in one 9×5 bread pan and then placed another empty 9×5 bread pan right on top of it and pressed with a heavy cast-iron pan. Anything that’s stackable like – even Tupperware – is the easiest way I have found to press and give shape to the paneer.
6. After pressing for 30 minutes, the paneer should be all set to go.

For the Palak Paneer:

1. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Sauté onion and hot pepper for about 3 minutes until fragrant and slightly soft.
2. Add cumin, garam masala, coriander, ginger and garlic and cook about 3 more minutes.
3. Add fire roasted tomatoes and bay leaf and cook 10 minutes until flavors have mixed and mingled for a while.
4. Add fresh chopped spinach, cover and let simmer 3-5 minutes.
5. Remove the bay leaf. Using an immersion blender, puree tomato and spinach mixture until desired consistency is reached. Alternatively, you can transfer to a food processor and pulse a few times too. I like my palak paneer to be fairly fine, but still with some recognizable spinach in there as well.
6. Stir in Greek yogurt, add salt to taste. Then, put in cubes of prepared paneer (recipe above), cover and let simmer an additional 10 minutes to let flavors infuse paneer with all of their spicy goodness.
7. Serve hot over basmati rice, your favorite grain, or with naan.

Notes:

*I have found that vinegar will give a more consistent product as the acidity content of vinegar is more reliable than using the juice from one lemon versus the juice of another lemon; however, I do prefer using lemon juice  because it tends to give a milder and brighter taste than when using the harsher white vinegar. But honestly it’s up to you. Both work well and taste similar.

Recipe adapted from A Pinch of Yum

Chewy Nutty Granola Protein Bars

Chewy Nutty Granola Protein Bars – Vegan, Gluten-free and oh so delicious!

After I go for a run or workout at the gym, I often make myself a smoothie or sometimes eat a quick protein bar for recovery. Smoothies are probably one of the easiest and most delicious snacks one could make, but protein bars…not so much. They often have an ‘off’ flavor and a chalkiness to them that really doesn’t suit me. Plus, they typically have TONS of added and refined sugar concealed by names like dextrose, evaporated cane juice and malt syrup, aside from more overt names like cane sugar or high-fructose corn syrup that permeates so many processed foods, even if they are marketed as ‘healthy’ or ‘all-natural.’ I had no idea until I took the time to read the nutrition label and evaluate the food that I was eating.

It’s not only protein bars either. There are literally thousands of products that line grocery store shelves you would never even think would have added or sugar in them, or not be good for you.* Pick up a healthy-sounding product like an all-natural spaghetti sauce and you’ll find 10g added sugar per serving. Who thought there would be that much sugar in it, right? Or take a stroll down the organic aisle and find those organic juices or fruit drinks with upwards of 30 grams of sugar per 8-oz. serving. My favorite: turn the nutrition label around on ‘low-fat’ this-or-that and you’ll find that sugar has replaced the fat lost in the product. Ironic, too, because if you end up consuming too many refined carbohydrates in excess, you will store them as fat in your body anyway. And eating fat, particularly unsaturated fat, will not necessarily make you fat. But I digress.

The fact is, the average person consumes about 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day, totaling around 350 calories, according to the American Health Association. This is pretty crazy when you think about it. If more than 1/6 of a person’s average 2000-calorie diet is taken up by added sugar, it is no wonder there are so many people with health problems. Increased sugar consumption (particularly fructose) is linked to added visceral fat around organs, and insulin resistance, which can lead to type II diabetes. Not to mention obesity which negatively impacts just about every single body system. In our modern world, it’s just way too easy to grab a sports drink, quick candy bar or sugar-laden snack anywhere like at, say, the local Wawa (comparable to a 7-Eleven or Sheetz, but way better for some reason. Probably because they have hoagies. Not “subs” or “grinders.” Philly, represent.) and call it a day.

Now don’t get me wrong. I do have a bit of a sweet tooth and am programmed like the rest of our species to crave sugary sweets. Though when I do eat sweet foods I try my best to eat or make products with natural sugars and additional nutritional value like fiber or vitamin C. And now I make sure to read what is in them, or know what I am putting into the food I make. I don’t want to become just another health statistic and I don’t think you do either.

That’s why I decided to bake my own protein bars made with a clean protein powderwith stevia extract and a fraction of the sugar that many protein bars have today. With peanut butter, shredded coconut, sunflower seeds, almonds and chia seeds, it has healthy fats that will keep you full and satisfied throughout the day. It’s vegetarian, even vegan and gluten-free. Oh, and did I mention it has chocolate chips? I can’t do without those. I admit it…I am a chocoholic.

*Note that I am of the opinion that most foods are not intrinsically ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for you. They simply just are what they are. I do, however, know that I unconsciously or perhaps semi-consciously tend to label foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in terms of foods that are nutritionally dense, meaning that they have a lot of nutrients, vitamins and minerals for the amount of energy they provide, versus those that are not. We probably all label as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ to some degree, based on our personal knowledge and own definitions of what ‘good’ and ‘bad’ mean. Salads are ‘good’ (minus the globs of high-fat dressing I can often do without). That slice of black forest cheesecake is ‘bad.’

It may not be the best way to think about food as it is overly-simplistic and can be self-limiting. Although I guess it does help me to limit the number of superfluous foods in my diet to some degree, as long as I end up labeling foods that are ‘good’ and that are ‘bad’ properly. In any case, if you enjoy eating a hot fudge sundae or a cupcake once in a while as I do, indulge by all means. But do so in moderation and be present and conscious of your food choices. Eat mindfully.
Recipe:

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: about 20 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Yield: 12-16 servings

Ingredients:

Dry:
2 ¼ cups rolled oats
½ cup protein powder (I used a vegetarian/vegan vanilla flavored one with stevia, but use your favorite)
2 tbsp chia seeds
1/3 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup slivered almonds
1/3 cup chocolate chips
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp. cinnamon

Wet:
a heaping ¼ cup natural peanut butter
¼ cup honey or brown rice syrup
½ cup almond milk
½ tsp vanilla

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a baking pan (I used a 11.5”x7,” but a 9”x9” or 8”x8” would work just as well. Just increase the cooking time for the 8×8 in order to accommodate a thicker product final product)
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients and toss them until they are mixed well throughout.
3. In a smaller mixing bowl, add the wet ingredients and stir to combine. Pro tip: for the honey or brown rice syrup, grease the measuring cup first and the honey or syrup will fall right out without sticking so much. I do it every time and it works like a charm.
4. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix until they come together. If the mixture is a little dry, add a dash more of almond milk or, alternatively, if you want a little more sweetness, add more honey or brown rice syrup. It’s up to you.
5. Transfer the mixture to the greased baking pan and press into the pan. Bake 18-20 minutes or so, or until it begins to brown.
6. Remove from the oven and let cool about a half hour before cutting into them. I know, I know, this is probably the hardest step. If you cut them too early, they bars will fall apart instead of holding their shape, so it is crucial that you wait. Unless you can’t wait to sample it, like me, and don’t care if one of the bars isn’t spectacular looking. It’s up to you.

Notes:
Recipe adapted from Running with Spoons

Asian-inspired White Bean Fritters

After what felt like being on an episode of Chopped, the finished product turned out better than even I could have hoped for!

I got home from work late last night and just really didn’t feel like cooking anything (I’m sure you’ve had a night or two like that in the recent past that you can remember). I was in the mood for some sort of Asian cuisine, but really didn’t feel like calling up the local Chinese restaurant for the delivery of their greasy, but oh-so-delicious fried tofu with garlic sauce.  I mean it is good, but having to wait for it when I could just make something tastier and healthier on my own just seemed silly.

In the pantry I had a can of white beans that sounded like a good start to a meal and in the fridge I had some scallions, garlic and left over forbidden rice* from the night before. Plus my standard soy sauce, ginger, sriracha and sesame oil I keep on hand for whenever I feel like making a stir-fry in a pinch. With all of the makings for some sort of Chinese-like dish and the white beans I first laid my eyes on in the pantry, I decided I’d make some bean fritters.

And then, almost immediately…roadblock. After I had mashed the beans in a mixing bowl, I realized that I had no panko bread crumbs, or any other kind of bread crumbs to give a nice, light texture to the fritters. So for this recipe I ground up some sesame crackers instead because, as I told myself, I do really enjoy the flavor of sesame…but more truthfully I used them because I had no bread crumbs on hand and didn’t want to make something other than the fritters was set on making for myself. Sometimes I swear I feel like I’m on the cooking show Chopped where I have to put together a nicely composed dish in a 30 minutes or less with limited ingredients to work with. But hey, when cooking in the kitchen, sometimes you have to make it work with what you have. Cooking breeds creativity and ingenuity – just another reason why real men (and women) should cook.

Anyway, here’s the recipe that I came up with for my asian-inspired white bean fritters. They are vegetarian, vegan and even gluten-free if you use rice crackers as the filler, which I am fairly certain would be an excellent way to improvise, or even improve this recipe. Served over rice, these fritters make a complete protein and can be eaten as a main dish or as an appetizer.

Notes:
*Forbidden rice is a type of black rice grown in China that was traditionally reserved for the Emperor due to its believed health benefits attributed to longevity and good health.  This does have some truth to it, too, as forbidden rice is a better source of minerals like manganese and phosphorus than most other rice varieties out there and  it contains anthocyanins, which are positively correlated with the protection and upkeep of multiple body systems including the nervous system and inflammatory response. Anthocyanins also give forbidden rice its distinct ‘black,’ or rather deep purple color when cooked.

Recipe:

Prep time: 8 minutes
Cook time: 6-7 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes or so
Yield: 2-4 servings

1 15 oz. can white beans, rinsed
1 scallion/green onion stalk, sliced thinly
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp onion powder
1 tsp sesame oil
2-3 tsp soy sauce
juice of ¼ a lemon
a dash of sriracha, to taste
About 1/3 cup crushed sesame crackers OR panko bread crumbs**
2 tbsp safflower oil, or your favorite cooking oil

1. Open up a can of white beans, rinse them and then add them to a medium mixing bowl. Mash with the back of a fork until beans are mostly smooth, but with a few beans still visible. I like my fritters with pieces of recognizable beans in them, but that’s just me.
2. Add scallion, ginger, garlic, garlic powder, onion powder, sesame oil, soy sauce, lemon juice and sriracha. If needed, adjust according to taste.
3. In a food processor (or with a good ol’ mallet or rolling pin and a plastic bag), crush sesame crackers until you have about 1/3 of a cup. If you are using bread crumbs, skip this step.
4. Add about ¼ cup of the crushed crackers or bread crumbs to the bean mixture and mix until well incorporated.
5. Shape into 8-10 fritters and coat the outside with the remaining bread crumbs or cracker crumbs. This will give the outside a nice, crispy texture
6. Add 2 tbsp oil to a sauté pan and heat over medium heat. Cook fritters about 3 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel and serve warm over rice or simply as-is.