Uber ube!

Ube. Purple Yams. The purple-y-ist. Yes, even more purple than purple potatoes. They are delicious.

I discovered the beauty of purple yams at the local Filipino restaurant/grocer. I found purple yam jam. It’s so delicious and filling! I put it in my oatmeal in the morning sometimes. Other times I just eat it out of the jar with a spoon. Mmmm…

When I saw the fresh purple yams at H Mart the other day, I immediately scooped some of those bad boys up! I had no clue what to do with them, really, I just knew I had to have them. I did make some muffins out of them a few days ago…

Ube Lychee Muffins

but while they were kinda tasty, it wasn’t what I was looking for. While browing for ideas, I stumbled across a spectacular recipe over at Burnt Lumpia. I’ve been obsessed with making gnocchi lately and her genius idea of ube gnocchi flashed like a neon sign in front of my eyes. I had to make it.

I followed her recipe, only making very slight changes: adding in 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro and replacing 1/4 cup of the all purpose flour with brown rice flour. Once they were cooked and cooled, I coated them in a mixture I created out of one tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and one tablespoon pomegranate balsalmic vinegar. De-LISH!

Unfortunately I don’t have any yummy photos of my ube gnocchi I so lovingly prepared. The pictures made it look like something of gray chunks of beef… not appetizing to view. =( The pictures on BL’s page are so much prettier! My gnocchi always tends to come out on the “slick” side. Always fairly water coated. I don’t know if this is normal or if I’m doing something wrong. One day I’ll figure it out. Maybe someone has a tip!

But hey, this recipe is seriously awesome. Kyle loved it. He said he was “pleasantly surprised”. I think he was worried that he was eating purple pasta for dinner.

Me? I was drooling in anticipation. Hurry! Go buy some ube, follow this link to the awesome recipe and try it for yourself! And if purple isn’t your thing, I’m sure regular yams will do the trick, too!

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Go Hawks!!

Who watched that amazing game last night? It was packed full of action and adrenaline.. I was literally on the edge of my seat the whole game. 49 years is a long time to wait, but man this team deserved it!

I can just hear my uncle shouting and laughing and cheering like mad. He would have been so proud!

Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup, June 9, 2010 – Uncle Jeff, this one’s for you!

Sweet Potato Granola

I’d like to start off this post with a shout out to Kankakee Natural Foods. This is and has been my favorite store in the area since I discovered its existence about a year ago. Best unsweetened dehydrated banana chips this side of the Rockies. Well maybe. I don’t really know what the deal is with banana chips over there in California. Probably pretty substantial, though. Maybe if I go over there someday I’ll find out.

Anyway, so I’m standing at the checkout counter with my granola-making purchases when I suddenly acquired a taste for dried blueberries. I asked the girl behind the counter if they ever dried their own blueberries. She said they didn’t, but they did get in packages of them. She walked over and grabbed them off the shelf to show me. It saddened me that they were teensy bags.

Damn blueberries for being so tiny and delicious and not being grown in my area – therefore expensive!! I thanked her for showing me and proceeded to the door as she returned the blueberries to their shelf.

Then the clouds parted! She waved me down and walked toward me carrying several shiny, beautiful bags of dried blueberries. It turns out that they were a few months past their shelf date and they weren’t allowed to have them on the shelf anymore. She said they were mine if I wanted them and all I’d have to do is just throw them out if they weren’t any good.

I thanked her profusely, practically jumped up and down like a child going to Disney World! Free dried blueberries! Woo-hoo!!

I rushed home to make my granola!

This recipe is inspired by a recipe for Maple Pumpkin Granola I ran across on Sugar Plum. I already have a favorite granola recipe, but it’s not exactly the most figure friendly one. It has lots of peanut butter, butter, honey and chocolate… I have to save it for special occasions.

So here’s my granola recipe. And if by some chance there’s some ingredient you find appalling, just swap it out with something you like! This mixture seems to be pretty delicious completely unbaked or even partially baked. Filling and delicious in any form!

Sweet Potato Granola
1 cup steel cut oats
1/3 cup rye berries
1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup unsweetened banana chips
1/4 cup dried blueberries
1/8 cup flax seed
1/4 cup All Bran cereal
1/4 cup unsalted peanuts
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cooked
3 dried figs
1 tablespoon tahini paste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (substitute Earth Balance or more oil to make it vegan)
1 teaspoon mango extract
1/4 to 1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a baking sheet with canola oil and set aside. In a bowl mix oats, rye berries, pumpkin seeds, banana chips, blueberries, flax seed, cereal and peanuts. In a food processor, puree sweet potato, figs, tahini, olive oil, butter, extract, water and salt. Combine oats mixture and sweet potato mixture. Spread onto the cookie sheet and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring the ingredients up halfway through.

Mango Lassi

I was watching the Food Network yesterday and saw a guest on Bobby Flay’s Grill It make a mango lassi. My mouth started watering.. then it hit me: I have a mango at home! And some yogurt! I don’t have cardamom, but cinnamon will work.. done! So yesterday afternoon I whipped one up. It was pretty delish, let me tell you. There’s no photo because the mug I put it in was camera shy. Next time I’ll post a picture!

Mango Lassi
1/2 mango, cubed
5 tablespoons milk (more if you like it a bit thinner)
4 tablespoons plain yogurt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fresh ginger
Agave nectar to taste

Add all ingredients in blender and puree until smooth. Pour over ice and enjoy!

Hummus! I got the hummus!

There’s a birthday celebration at the bank tomorrow and I wanted to make a healthy treat to balance out the chocolate I know will be present! I found a delicious recipe for hummus to eat with the homemade bread I made. I am a huge fan of garlic (there’s no way any vampire would come within ten feet of me) but thought that the raw garlic might knock our customers over. I decided the solution would be to quick-roast the garlic in a pan over the stove. This was simpler than I expected: just leave the skins on the garlic and let them take a spin around a hot, dry pan until they smell all yummy and buttery, then slip the skins off. The best part of this recipe is how incredibly simple it is to prepare.. once again I bow to my food processor!

Lemon Garlic Hummus
1 16 oz can garbanzo beans, well rinsed
1/3 cup tahini paste
4-5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, roasted
Juice of one lemon
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Add beans, tahini paste, and garlic to food processor and blend well. Add remaining ingredients and continue to process until a nice paste is formed. Serve with chopped veggies, bread, crackers; whatever you crave! You could serve this right away but I’m allowing mine to sit overnight so the flavors can mingle.

Brown Rice Flour Pancakes with Strawberry Sauce

I just returned from my Clemson, SC vacation! Don’t get too excited, though it was very sunny and pleasant.. it was COLD! While there I was determined to use up Kyle’s brown rice flour and in turn created a delicious pancake recipe for our Valentine’s Day lunch! The flavor for the pancakes was inspired by an awesome strawberry, onion, and spinach salad my mom served last summer. Kyle said they reminded him of potato latkes. The combination of ingredients was downright delightful! I whipped up a strawberry sauce, that, while tasty, was not the right consistency. I’m still working on my syrups! It did include freshly sliced strawberries simmered in a pot with sugar and water. Anyhow, without further ado, I give you..

Brown Rice Flour Pancakes
1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1 egg
1 cup milk (I used skim)
2 green onions, minced
3 generous handfuls shredded cheese (I used a parmesan-asiago blend)
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium mixing bowl, pour milk over the brown rice flour and set aside for 5 minutes. Whisk the egg and add, along with remaining ingredients, to the bowl. Mix until batter is just coming together and allow it to rest for another 5 minutes. Melt some butter on a hot griddle before ladeling batter on. Allow to cook for a few minutes on each side, until the pancake is lightly browned, before flipping. Serve with freshly sliced strawberries or a strawberry syrup.

Homemade Granola

So there I was at work, surfing the gluten-free blogs, when I ran across Gluten Free Mommy’s recipe for homemade granola. Of course I printed it off right away! I’ve found a few recipes but I hadn’t found any that really piqued my interest like this one! I tweaked it a bit since I’ve never ever been able to just follow a recipe to the letter. Here’s my variation of GFM’s granola! In fact, this recipe is so delicious it might even replace brownies in my book..

2 cups oats
1/3 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup banana chips
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup crushed walnuts
2 heaping tablespoons natural peanut butter
1/2 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (I LOVE Watkins)
3 tablespoons butter (Earth Balance for a vegan version) and 2 tablespoons olive oil

Combine all the dry ingredients into a large bowl. In a small saucepan combine peanut butter, honey, butter, oil, and vanilla. Once the peanut butter mixture is combined, stir it into the dry ingredients until oats are well moistened. Spread granola onto a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes at 300 degrees. The granola gets crispier as it cools. Cool at least 20 minutes before storing in a sealed container.

Update: A few days ago I made this recipe with molasses instead of honey (not quite a 1/2 cup).. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted such granola perfection. Munch munch munch..