Archive for August, 2013

Almost Vegan Pancakes

vegan pancakes

It’s almost moving day, which means that it’s time to get creative. What started with Breakfast Guacamole has turned into a full-blown competition, the competitors being me, myself, and I. The task is to not spend a cent on food until September 1st, when my new roommates and I will victoriously order heaps of Chinese take out and gorge ourselves while sitting cross legged on the living room floor, surrounded by boxes and IKEA instructions as far as the eye can see.

That night can’t come soon enough, when all the lifting and carrying furniture and navigating a 20 foot truck through the depths of Allston is complete and we’re settled in our brand new apartment.

Until then, I’m spending my free hours assembling boxes and stuffing them with all the things I’ve accumulated since Boston became my home. Naturally, I’m spending the moments in between cooking and baking until there’s nothing left to cook or bake.

Even if you’re not moving, I highly recommend taking the Pantry Raid Challenge. You’ll be surprised by what you come up with, like these Almost Vegan Pancakes.

pancake recipe

Okay, they’re actually barely vegan pancakes, not to mention hardly gluten free. But hey! At least they’re vegetarian.

I’m not generally one to make pancakes, not to mention pancakes from scratch, but an hour of moving procrastination spent on Smitten Kitchen got me back into baking mode, whereupon I realized just how much flour and sugar and butter and chocolate I have to go through during these next few days. I made these brownies, but there was still plenty of gluten in the pantry that was calling my name. Hence, these pancakes were born (and very quickly eaten).

pantry raid

pancakes from scratch

These Almost Vegan Pancakes are extra fluffy and rich. Say whatever you want about Jack Johnson, but bananas make pancakes 10000% times better. The banana slices get all carameley and soft and the chocolate makes every bite “the best thing ever,” as I often say.

banana pancake recipe

Even though they aren’t dense, these pancakes are very filling. Plus, the almond milk is high in protein, so those carb-y calories are going to good use. Maybe they’re not totally “almost vegan,” but bear with me. I’m moving here!

easy pancakes

chocolate chip pancakes

Ingredients (4 pancakes, serves 2)

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup plain almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter + more for greasing the pan
  • ½ an egg
  • ¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ 1 banana, thinly sliced

1. Preheat oven to 200o
2. In a small bowl, combine flour, sugar and baking powder
3. Melt butter in microwave
4. Whisk butter, almond milk, and egg until combined.
5. Add flour mixture to wet mixture in small batches, whisking together in between.
6. Fold in chocolate chips.
7. Heat a large skillet and coat bottom in a thin layer of butter. Once butter begins to bubble, pour in roughly ¼ cup batter.
8. Gently place banana slices onto pancake and flip after approximately two minutes, once bubbles have risen to he surface. Cook for two more minutes and then place on an oven safe plate or cookie sheet in the oven. Repeat with remaining three pancakes.
9. Serve with maple syrup. For a vegan topping, whip canned coconut milk with one tablespoon sugar until gentle peaks form.

almost vegan pancakes

Breakfast Guacamole

guacamole recipe

Throughout the course of this blog’s existence, I’ve been asked about the name “Pantry Raid” a number of times. If you look up #pantryraid on Twitter or Instagram, you’ll find photos of meals made from tuna fish, canned tomatoes, and other foodstuffs that often get lost in people’s pantries. In an effort to save money or make space, these photos allow their creator to boast, “look what I can do with this.

You might wonder, then, why my recipes almost exclusively rely on fresh ingredients, rather than boxed, canned, or preserved ones. Back in 2011, when I started the Pantry Raid, I was living in a stuffy three-person dorm room with only a microwave and an iron as my culinary tools. Without a kitchen to call my own, I took to friends’ apartments, raiding their pantries for spices and such. When I’d travel back home, I took full advantage of family members’ kitchens. As an underclassman, I was constantly on the move. I moved from my triple dorm room, home for the summer, to another dorm, then to Rome, and back to Los Angeles. Sure, it all sounds very romantic, but for someone with a yearning to stir, blend, bake, and sauté, it was difficult to get to know any one kitchen.

Then, in September 2012, I moved into my very first apartment with its very own kitchen. As a housewarming present, my grandmother gifted me the Pistachio color KitchenAid stand mixer I’d wanted since before I could even reach the counter. I can remember that first batch of pretzel rolls, which filled the rooms with their warm yeasty scent. I can remember going downstairs to check the mailbox while roasting a chicken and realizing that the entire building smelled of garlic and rosemary. I can remember, on more than one occasion, mistakenly summoning the Brookline Fire Department when our “non-stick” pans stuck. I can remember drinking too much wine at the kitchen table with friends who will soon become roommates. I can remember how loudly I screamed when I discovered a squirming mouse in the trap our landlord had placed. I can remember opening a smoldering oven to check on banana bread and feeling my mascara melt instantly. These are the memories that will stick (like those damn non-stick pans) with me about this first apartment of mine.

But, as it goes in Boston, even this domicile in which I’ve become so comfortable is only temporary. In a couple weeks, September 1, 2013 will roll around and the city will be in a frenzy with moving trucks and students migrating from one home to the next. I’ll be one of them, packing up and moving on to yet another apartment with another kitchen. It’s funny to think that some other person will be setting off that fire alarm with which I’ve become all too familiar in this poorly ventilated apartment that I’ve called my own for the past twelve months.

As that crazy day, September 1st, approaches, I’ve become frugal with my household purchases. Can I make this toothpaste last until the end of the month? Can I get away with not buying another gallon of Tide or bottle of shampoo? I wonder about these things, as if these items were not transportable or I would not need them once I move into my new place. Perhaps the stress of moving is so great (is anyone selling a couch?) that I don’t want to worry about packing up these things along with everything else I’ve collected over time, but it does seem ridiculous.

When it comes to food, my rational feels a little more accurate. After freshman year, I packed what was left of a bag of flour in one of my storage boxes, only to find, three-ish months later, that the thin paper had ripped in transport and dusted all of my belongings in a mysterious white powder. I had some explaining to do to my new roommates that semester.

Now, in an effort to avoid that kind of thing, I’m trying to use up every last bit of what’s in my fridge and pantry before moving day arrives. It’s a good old-fashioned pantry raid. All those weird ingredients like fish sauce, Panko, and crème fraiche have got to go. So, instead of drooling over new findings at the grocery store and farmers’ market, I’m averting my eyes and using what I have. I’m raiding my own pantry, literally, so when I hash tag #pantryraid on these next few creations, they’ll actually start to fit in with the rest.

In this recipe’s case, I decided to do some work on the yogurt left over from last week’s Seasoned Greek Yogurt Chicken, the English muffins I’ve been nursing since Shaw’s put them on sale for 3 for 1, and what’s left of the basil growing on my windowsill.

To me, “guacamole” just means mashed avocado and whatever else you feel like tossing in with it. With the olive oil running low, I decided to skip eggs for breakfast and use the last of a few ingredients. As it turns out, tart Greek yogurt pairs perfectly with smooth avocado. Every guacamole needs a little spice, so I gave the paprika a few shakes and crushed a couple of the dwindling peppercorns. Instead of cilantro, I used fresh basil to add texture and complexity. The result was a refreshing breakfast-appropriate take on guacamole. I can imagine this would taste great with a fried egg on top. Too bad I’m too stubborn to buy another dozen before September 1st.

avocado breakfast

Ingredients (serves 1)

  • ½ ripe avocado
  • ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4-5 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 English muffin or other bread

1. Toast English muffin/bread

2. While toasting, use a fork to mash avocado in a small bowl.

3. Add Greek yogurt and spices, stirring to combine.

4. Once bread is toasted, spread guacamole on top.

5. Stack basil leaves on top of one another and slice thinly to create small strips. Use to garnish toast.

the pantry raid

Seasoned Greek Yogurt Chicken

greek yogurt chicken

It’s no secret that I like food. In fact, you could say that I love it. However, all foods are not created equal. Some ingredients are just better than others, or at least in my opinion. Food is all about opinions, really. I can’t stand olives, and you probably think I’m crazy. On the other hand, you might try to tell me that eating raw garlic is nuts, and I will vehemently disagree with you. Then, I will eat a raw clove of garlic to prove you wrong and will regret having done so moments later as my lungs seem to contract and twist and make my spine hurt. However, I will stand my ground. I digress.

The meal I’ve put together here is great. Not only does it taste delicious, but it’s also made with ingredients I desperately love. I’m literally emotionally cheating on each one of these ingredients with the others.

Let’s start with the chicken. Cooking with chicken is great. Once you get past the slimy membrany grossness, it’s the most wonderful protein there is. As my grandma says, chicken is a blank canvas.

That leads me to the Greek yogurt, another blank canvas with which the most beautiful art can be created. It’s good for you and can almost always replace sour cream, which is not.  Also, it is one of those diverse foods that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The pure white color makes for the perfect base in this spiced recipe.

On that note, let’s talk about paprika. I could use smoked paprika on just about anything. It livens up the flavor of whatever you’re cooking and adds an amazing vibrant color. Cayenne does the same, while adding a sharp kick to any recipe.

Sautéed shallots are a godsend, bringing a rusty taste to salad dressings, omelets, and obviously, this dish. With more flavor than plain old onions, I always opt for shallots and sweat them in a frying pan to mellow out their bold flavor.

Last, but not least: garlic. As I mentioned earlier, I love garlic. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I love it more than avocados. This diverse member of the lily family is delicious when roasted, sautéed, or just plain raw. Each preparation gives it a totally different flavor but always gives you that awesomely spicy garlic breath. I know, you think I’m crazy. I thought we had already established this!

Put all these fantastic ingredients together and there’s no not loving this dish. Slow roasting the chicken allows it to absorb the spicy yogurt mix, which makes the chicken crazy juicy.

paprika chicken recipe

The cheese melts within the sauce, but doesn’t burn. Instead, it makes the coating extra creamy and helps it stick to the chicken when served. I’m telling you, love is real, and I found it right here, with this spiced and spicy Seasoned Greek Yogurt Chicken.

healthy chicken recipe

Ingredients (serves one)

  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • ½ cup 0% fat Greek Yogurt
  • ½  shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 small handful grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350o Fahrenheit.

2. In a small frying pan, heat olive oil over low heat. Add minced shallot at sauté until just tender, but not brown.

3. In a small bowl, combine Greek yogurt, sautéed shallot, cayenne pepper and smoked paprika, stirring vigorously until fully integrated. Next, stir in cheese.

4. Place raw chicken in a small baking dish and spoon yogurt blend on top. Use your hand to fully coat chicken.

4a. If desired, you may roast baby red potatoes in the same dish. First microwave the potatoes in 2 cups water for 2 minutes. Drain water and quarter potatoes. Coat with olive oil, kosher salt, and black pepper and surround chicken breast with potatoes.

5. Bake for 20 minutes. Then turn heat to 400o and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven and gently remove chicken from pan. Serve immediately, while that cheese is still super melty.

pantry raid

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