PB&J Affair (Steel Cut Oat Cups)

“So what are your cravings?”

Is it a requirement for everyone to ask this question to a pregnant woman every day? I feel as if people are either vicariously hoping to live through my bizarre food concoctions or perhaps they are just waiting to feel better about themselves. “Well, atleast I don’t eat meatball sandwiches at 12am like THAT pregnant woman” (which I don’t by the way). Who knows. But really, I get asked this alot.

My first response would be, “Um, FOOD. And lots of it!” Except not all at once cause I feel like my stomach will explode. But definitely not longer than 2 hrs apart because then I just feel like I’m gonna die.

But this month in particular I can answer, without a shadow of a doubt, that I am craving… PB&J. In all forms. In all ways.

The other night it actually came down to this:

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A grilled cheese PB&J.

“Ew! Only a pregnant woman would eat that!”

To that I say “Wrong.” or “Fine. More for me”.

Do not knock this until you try it. It’s the most precious blend of warm, crunchy, sweet, salty, savory, and buttery.

I’m unstoppable. It led me to further discoveries of PB&J delights.

I had originally planned on talking about chicken for my next post. But the rain started falling here and I came across this GREAT recipe for warm, delicious, hearty, healthy Personalized Baked Steel Cut Oat Cups from Sugar Free Mom and I love.. I love… I love them.. (P&P for you fans). I had made her Personalized Baked Oatmeal Cups before and Rich and I both loved them and they contain NO sugar and only real ingredients and even some fruit! ( This is a win for me and trying to feed my picky-ish husband).

The best part is these steel cut oat cups give me the quick snack I need to stay feeling full and they absolutely DELICIOUS with a PB&J filling. Like ABSOLUTELY. She lays out the recipe beautifully at Sugar Free Mom, so make sure to click the link. The only changes I made were:

- Almond Milk instead of cows and – A flax seed egg instead of a chicken’s (1 tbsp flax seed, 3 tbsp water, let sit till like a gel, add)         – No Stevia, and not as much honey as suggested.

Still turned out AMAZING. I just heated 2 in the microwave and was SO satisfied.

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Here’s to preggo cravings around the world!

Baby Moon & Monterey Eating Adventures

Once upon a time, aka 4 months ago, I thought I could be pregnant, work full time, run a food blog, keep up with laundry and also make time to work out. That was really cute of me. I’m so glad there is nothing but grace in the blog world (right!?), so I’m back and let’s all act like 4 month intervals are TOTALLY acceptable to maintaining a “successful” blog :-)

BABY MOON

Rich

People have made a point to let Rich and I know that once baby comes we won’t be doing a lot of things: Sleeping, going to movies, thinking straight, going on dates. Sounds like a real blast! I know their intentions are good and this is all not entirely true, but well, some of it very well may be so we decided to soak in some last days together in Monterey, CA. before the holidays hit and little baby love angel arrives. (No, her name is not Love Angel).

We enjoyed 2 nights in Monterey, eating our way through the day and at one point taking a 2 hr siesta on a beach in Carmel. ROUGH! I loved sharing my NY eating adventures with you all so decided to share what the food scene looks like in Monterey (For two soon-to-be parents on a budget on a mini vacation.)

WILD PLUM – ORGANIC CAFE & BISTRO, Monterey CA

Wild Plum

Yum. This one came suggested by a friend. And it was just about as organic/fresh/hippie as you could hope for. Rich was THRILLED. ;-)

What you see is my veggie sandwich on HOUSE MADE FOCCACIA, and  FRESH TOMATO SOUP. No really. Our waiter used words like “The tomatoes were picked yesterday” and “We roasted them this morning”. It was as about as garden to table as you could want.

WildPlumbSoup

PARKER LUSSEAU- PASTRIES & CAFE, Monterey CA

Parker Sign

parker chalkboard

Long had we waited to try this great little spot! Delicious espresso (rich, creamy, mocha. DECAF, obviously) and pastries. Sweet, personable owner. Didn’t get to try their sweet little cakes or mini macarons but everything is baked right around the corner about a mile away and delivered fresh daily. It was worth the wait and a definite gem just a skip away from a major coffee chain. So if you are in the area and see elusive coffee chain, know that 5 yards behind you and around the corner is THIS place! So good we went twice.

coffee

LA BICYCLETTE – FRENCH EATERY, Carmel CA

I’d be embarrassing everyone involved if I posted my dimly lit Iphone pictures of our meal here. Bottom line is it’s a cute, atmospheric french eatery in Carmel that has budget friendly brick oven pizzas available, or not so budget friendly french cuisine. A fun find not far from Monterey.

ALIOTTIS VICTORIAN CORNER RESTAURANT, Pacific Grove CA

Charming and classic diner style breakfast in an old Victorian blocks from the ocean in Pacific Grove. One word: Raspberry pancakes. Oh, and hashbrowns… Delightful, quality, locally sourced goodness.

pancakes

1833 , Monterey CA

Yes, its as yummy as it’s name is cool. We had been here before and actually returned and left even MORE satisfied than the last time. Again, dimly lit and I was not about to make a ninny of myself taking amateur flash shots with my Nikon. Bing Crosby is practically seeping through the walls and I want Bing to think I’m as cool as possible.

Just think cheddar bacon biscuits with maple chile butter, gnocchi with braised lamb, steak with creamy carrot butter sauce, bourbon pudding and sugar cookies.

The building is an old adobe with low ceilings and rooms restored to accommodate outdoor patio with fire pits, indoor bar, community bathroom sink (in a cool hygienic way) and dining room. A great romantic spot.

I did happen to land a sweet pic of this hottie : check out that cushioned chair!

1833

LOU LOUS GRIDDLE IN THE MIDDLE – Monterey, Ca

They boast about having “Good food and crazy waitresses”, which should tell you everything. Except I want my money back because our waitress did not seem too crazy…

Lou Lous

How random is this place!? We literally walked down the warf until like the land of Narnia it just appeared. The inside consists of only a bar to sit at (from what I could tell) and the outdoor seating you see. Super low key, good diner breakfast with the smell of fried calamari (for breakfast!) or maybe just the smell of REALLY fresh actual fish from the ocean wafting in. In every way a beach diner on the pier. A great last stop for our trip.

Pollo de verano (Summer Chicken :) & Tara’s Review

Hi all,

There’s been a flurry of test recipes happening here. Mostly involving me trying to satisfy “pregnancy” cravings and making them “healthy”. I tried “The Ultimate Cinnamon Bread” from Pinterest. But after my healthy adaptations it just tasted, well, healthy. And then there were the “World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies” from Pinterest. One flax seed “egg” and a cup of apple sauce in place of butter later and we had pretty good but not great chocolate chip cookies with the weirdest texture ever. I think I’ve learned that I’m not a baker. You have to use too many bowls and more butter and sugar than I’m comfortable with. BUT I’m really good at eating YOUR baked goods! I’ll stick with the savory where I feel safe and secure and you can keep spoon feeding me your cookies and pie :) Please and thank you!

Speaking of savory, I have to give a shout out to this little organic ice cream place my friend and I came across in Berkeley, CA, called Tara’s Organic Ice Cream. It was PERFECT because the majority of their flavors were savory! It’s a funky little place for sure but SO delicious. My flavor of choice was Beet Balsamic while my friend chose Rosemary Pear. I know RIGHT!? They also had Berbere, which is a crazy fusion of eastern spices, and Sweet Corn, which was a fancy way of saying “This tastes just like Captain Crunch cereal, AKA delicious”.

The icing on the…icecream… was that you could choose a sesame seed waffle cone. Oh my sweet goodness, I had no idea it could pack that much flavor. All in all, if you’re in the East Bay, try this little spot out. And here’s our cute little babies stolen from my friend’s Instagram …

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Ok, I was excited to finally get back to a post that involves the elements of Hil’s Kitchen. This chicken (which turned into chicken tostadas for us) really had to do with:

1. Using up what leftovers I had in the fridge

2. Hiding some healthy ingredients in said chicken.

Our local market will have ridiculous sales on their free range chicken. I’m talking 10 free range drumsticks for $2.45. So cheap. After using half of our pack the day before (and Rich taking some to work) I still had 4 that needed to be used.

I put these thawed legs in a baking dish over olive oil. Seasoned the chicken. Then started chopping and packing all the leftover summer veggies we had on top. Garlic, onion, tomato, and zucchini.

summer chicken

Look at all that goodness just waiting to sneak in to our immune system!

I baked at 350 for about 35 min. During this time I chopped lettuce for the tostada topping, and started frying our corn tortillas in coconut oil.

Sidenote on this: We can definitely taste the difference when we fry in coconut oil. It tastes like coconut! I wasn’t satisfied with this so I just sprinkled our shells over with garlic salt after frying and WOW. Delicious. Masked the coconut flavor and made them so tasty.

After 35 min. of baking, I pulled the meat out of the oven and shredded whatever meat I could off of the drumsticks and covered and mixed all the veggies and all the juices and returned to the oven for an additional.. let’s say 15 min.

Now, drumsticks are not ideal for trying to find substantial pieces of meat, which I’m sure you already gathered. This recipe would be much easier and substantial if I had used chicken thighs or breasts. BUT, drumsticks is what was in the kitchen and this recipe cost me about $2 to make sooooooo, drumstick meat it is! :)

During this 15 minutes I refried our organic can of black beans. This is the way to go people! Making your own refried beans is so much healthier and still so tasty! They won’t EXACTLY taste like a can of lard infused pintos beans (which don’t get me wrong, have a special place in my heart) but they still totally do the trick.

I just emptied my can of black beans into my skillet of leftover frying oil and mashed and stirred and mashed and stirred. You can add garlic, garlic salt, onion, chili powder. Go hog wild! I just make sure to mash and stir until I can hear the beans sizzling like they’ve been nice and fried up.

Tortillas, beans, toppings, and the end of the movie Big Fish (which totally made me cry and cuddle with my husband this time around. Pregnancy hormones??) were all over by the time my chicken was finished. cooked summer chicken

Now this chicken was so stewey and savory and comforting that you could really just eat it over rice. But my problem with that is my husband could then see all of the little pieces of veggie that it entailed :) By layering it onto the tostada and adding hot sauce he was sure to be blinded to a few pieces of zucchini and onion. I got a picker on my hands! But he has gotten much better :)

We both loved this meal. So comforting and tasty. Savory chicken with crisp lettuce on a crunchy salty shell. Mmmmmm… Not gonna lie, I felt back in the game guys. I really did…

tostada

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Chicken Recipe:

Drumsticks (or whatever leftover chicken you have to use up)

Onion – 1/4 cup chopped

Garlic – 2 cloves

Tomato – 1 small whole chopped

Cumin – to taste

Chili Powder – to taste

Garlic Powder – to taste

Sea salt – to taste

Pepper – to taste

1. Bake at 350 for 35 min. Remove and shred chicken. Return for 15 min.

Miscellaneous Recipe:

2. Fry tortillas shells flat in coconut oil. When you dip the edge of the tortilla and the oil sizzles, it’s ready to be fried!

3. Re-fry black beans in leftover tortilla oil. Mash and stir and add spices and fry until satisfied :)

4. Layer all ingredients and chow!

What’s Cookin

Well faithful followers. I must apologize for the two month hiatus. It has been nearly impossible for me to post recipes, let alone easy and delicious ones. I’ve been craving nothing. I’ve also been craving everything. All because of this little bug…

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That’s right! This kitchen has only been cooking up one thing in its oven!!! We are so excited, but really, the food aversions have been life changing and have made it so difficult to think of making anything! One minute I NEED sushi, the next minute I’m getting queezy just thinking about watching Finding Nemo. Hey, Nothing that pounding back three Eggo waffles at 10pm won’t fix.

On top of that, my stomach turns when I think about going into a grocery store. Is that normal? It takes at least one shopping buddy, a ready list, a full stomach, and many deep breathing exercises to make it through Cost-Co these days. (Now I want a polish dog).

Pure madness I tell ya! Meal plans have gone out the window this past month. Along with caffeine, soft cheeses, salami, alcohol, and low rise skinny jeans. Thank God for the hair tie around the button technique.

Just another 3 weeks and we’ll hopefully be past this queezy, aversion/gorging stage. Until then I will do my very best to maintain a food blog while dealing with all day morning sickness :-) God only knows the “recipes” that I may produce (Cheap and easy French fries and milkshakes anyone?? Ooohhh, inspiration…)

It’s all worth it for this sweet raspberry growing inside me. Thanks for understanding my friends, and thanks for following the journey :)

Love, Hilary & Baby

P.S. If any of you mommy’s remember your favorite and least favorite foods during your 9 months, please share! Would be fun to hear and may give me some ideas :)

Pseudo Gardener

Sorry it’s taken me a bit to get something posted. I’ve been waiting for my garden to grow. No really. And by garden I mean 3 separate plants scattered around my house that I grew from table scraps.

You’ve seen the posts on Pinterest (maybe they were from me), “Never buy green onion again!” “Grow your own avocado tree!”

The second statement is a little intense for me and my small rental home but the rumors are definitely true! It is no less than a revival for this gardening newbie. I have successfully grown and maintained organic garlic, green onion and romaine lettuce from my table scraps!!

Talk about living on a budget. I would like to share an update of my garden goods with ya’ll.

Here’s my regrown romaine. You simply shop your romaine head down to the heart and stick the heart, leaves up in a cup of water. The result is this…

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So it works! The problem is what you get is baby romaine heart leaves that can probably only fill up, well, a baby. And the water (that I just changed yesterday) turns nasty brown in a flash. Probably not one I’ll keep up on but it was fun while it lasted.

The second experiment was with green onion. Cut your green onion down to the white, and stick root side down into a cup of water. Holy Moly green onion forever!! Such a success. However after about 1 month fruit flies started laying eggs in the water so I replanted in soil in the front yard. Here are my fresh cut green onions (we had nachos) that keep coming back!!

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Wow that picture is blurry, but you get the point. Replanting your green onion = huge success!

Lastly, oh it’s so beautiful. Garlic. Take one clove of peeled (or is it unpeeled?) garlic and plant in soil flat base side down. Within only one month, I have these pretties…

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I apologize for these quick pictures. if you live in Vacaville you understand that it is extremely uncomfortable to stay in direct sunlight for more than about 23 seconds today, but anyways…

I’m telling you they sprouted SO fast. They need lots of direct sunlight so they are loving our front porch. They’re supposed to eventually bloom these crazy spirally white tips. Once the green stems turn brown and die off, they’ll be ready to harvest.

Did I just say ready to harvest!? Who am I!?

Happy gardening to you all!! Martha Stewart and I have a lunch date…

Have a Ball

We need to talk about balls. Protein balls, power balls, raw balls, whatever you want to call them.

A few years ago I started buying some delicious and nutrient dense “power balls” from our local nutrition shop. I had no idea they were so easy to make and they have quickly become something I crave.

The variations you can do and the textures you can create are so addicting. And the best part is you are usually able to use up things you already have on hand.

Sometimes they hold me over as I run out the door in the morning, get a quick protein fix after a run, and even when I just need a quick healthy sweet tooth fix. Mmmmm they do it all and I’m obsessed.

The basic steps when dealing with power balls is:
1. Mix 2. Form 3. Cool 4. Eat.

So easy and sometimes you can skip step 3! I will share just a few variations that I love but feel free to get creative and see what you come up with!!


Raw Chocolate Peanut butter Balls

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While I usually don’t measure, I will throw a bone to the OCD people out there :)

Ingredients
5 Dates (Pit them first! I found a good deal on dates at our Trader Joes)
1/2 cup Cashews (I usually have these on hand thanks to our vegan nacho cheese :-)
1 tbsp Peanut butter
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1/2 tbsp Raw honey
1 tbsp Raw cocoa powder

Blend all ingredients in a blender. Form into balls. Depending on the size may make 4-5 balls. Modify recipe for more or less.

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I can’t even describe how delicious these are! And my, how they curb the sweet tooth! Hallelujah!!


Quinoa Bird Seed Balls

I call them that cause they look like bird seed. That’s all.

Ingredients
1 cup cooked quinoa, cooled
1/2 cup uncooked oats
2 heaping tbsp nut butter
pumpkin seeds
Flax seeds
Chia seeds
Cocoa nibs or chocolate chips
Honey

Mix all ingredients with your hands once quinoa has cooled. Let mixture cool again and solidify a bit. Once cool form into balls and let cool or sit.

These are a great post run bite. Lots of good stuff in there!

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Oat Protein Balls (Pb&J, chocolate chip or plain)

Last but not least is the easiest of the variations. With basic ingredients for your power balls that can easily include add ons.

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Ingredients
Uncooked oats
Nut butter
Honey
Flax seed powder
Add ons
Chocolate chips
Strawberry jam
Dried berries
Seeds

Blend all ingredients with hands and let cool. Once cool add more dry or wet ingredients based on mold-ability. Form into balls and let cool only if you have the patience to do so!! I cheat this step about 75% of the time.

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So go have a ball! Let me know what you come up with as you get creative!

Mission Impossible: Cauliflower “rice” & Quinoa Crunchy Tacos

Since the day I met Rich, he has expressed to me a deep hatred for 3 things: Zucchini, Ke$ha and Cauliflower. The first I conquered long ago when I hid some zucchini in our pasta. The second is unavoidable. And the third, has officially been removed from the gag list and I am here to show you how :-)

First I steamed and made mashed “potatoes” using half russet potatoes and half cauliflower. I covered in some slow cooked short ribs and watched my husband eat his poison (Sounds awful but my heart was in the right place). I waited until he was finished to tell him I had a secret. And guess what, he had NO IDEA!!!! Bahaha!!! Victory!

I was feeling pretty confident so I kept seeing how I might prolong my victory. Out of which, came the next cauliflower recipe:

Inspiration

1. Organic cauliflower ON SALE.

2. Health!

3. The challenge of my darling’s gag reflexes

Recipe- Cauliflower & Quinoa Crunchy Tacos (They were as delicious as they sound)

I’ll have you know this recipe is unintentionally gluten free and vegetarian and all organic :)

1. Cook quinoa per directions ( 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water, and make sure to rinse first!)

(I’m sorry I don’t have any step by step pictures for you as normal but I think most of it goes without showing. When I become as amazing as The Pioneer Woman, I promise I will take pro pictures of EVERY step :)

2. Cauliflower “rice”

- Disclaimer : I had no idea what I was doing with this. I read a couple options of how to make “cauliflower rice” , but I’m not really a “rules” girl so I just sort of made a mess and went for it.

3. Steam your cauliflower first. (I chopped and then attempted steaming and it was a mess)

4. After you steam your cauliflower, chop in food processor. Or if you have patience, by hand with a large knife.

5. Do this until it looks close enough to rice and you can fool your husband.

6. Add your rice into a saucepan on the stovetop where you can reheat and add your seasonings.

- Seasonings I added: cumin, garlic powder, salt, chile powder, lemon juice

Tortilla Shells

I didn’t know what a “soft” taco was until I was about 11 and my friend ordered one at Taco Bell. My parents always made us homemade “crunchy” tacos and it’s all I knew. Rightfully so! Homemade fried tortilla taco shells are one of life’s joys. While they are super easy to accomplish I failed to take photos of this process (it requires a lot of hands!) So I included this link to All Recipes to lead you in the right direction :)

1. As non-messily as possible, add your “rice” and quinoa, and cheese preference to your corn tortilla BEFORE frying. This will create a warm, melty, meddling of all the flavors.

2. Once fried, add the remainder of your toppings. We added black beans, lettuce, red onion and our favorite hot sauce. My avocados weren’t ripe yet :-(

Finished Product: 

And everybody said “Mmmmm”.

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And we do not leave many dishes without our very favorite hot sauce which added SO much to these tacos:

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Best part about these tacos was how light and non greasy they were! And surprisingly delicious!

The same ingredients would be great in a burrito or over nachos but it was all a great compliment to a nice crunchy taco shell.

Go try out your own cauliflower rice and let me know how it goes! I’m thinking we’ll try an Indian flare next with yogurt and curry and tomato paste.. Yum!!

I’ve also heard of people having success with CAULIFLOWER PIZZA CRUST!

Sky’s the limit I suppose.

Use what you have, keep it real, stay healthy :)