Breakfast in Bed for Mom

Check out this Buzzfeed post for great ideas on how to spoil your mom on Mother’s Day! And if you’re not living at home, don’t forget to call your mom tomorrow. Even the simple act of calling will brighten her day!

Advertisements

WW Pancakes

I have been enjoying my kale and pineapple smoothie for most breakfasts recently but today I wanted something different. Instead of waking up to my room flooded with sunlight (yay for east-facing windows), I woke up to the sound of rain falling and I, like most people, love to indulge in comfort food when the weather is less than stellar. All I wanted was a big, fluffy pancake.

I have made healthier versions of pancakes before but I have never been able to get the points value low enough to really justify removing most, if not all, of the fat. Today I set out to make a 2 point pancake! I made a few key changes to get the points value down while trying not sacrifice the flavor or fluffiness.

First, I cut out the milk. I think I have mentioned that I try to keep an eye on the amount of dairy I consume so I don’t even keep it in the fridge. Instead, I had almond milk on hand so I gave it a try. Baking is science and fluffiness depends purely on the amount of carbon dioxide that is released in the batter. This is why buttermilk is popular in pancakes. Not only does it give the pancakes a great flavor, it has a higher acid content than regular milk (and definitely almond milk) so it has the ability to release more carbon dioxide.

Second, in order to make up for the absence of an acidic liquid in the batter, I used baking powder instead of baking soda, which is also a popular ingredient in fluffy pancakes. I did this because baking powder has a higher acid content than baking soda.

Lastly, I added seltzer water to amp up the carbon dioxide even more (and cut out some more calories/points). You have to be careful with all this though- you don’t want to mess with this too much because too much acid will increase the gluten development and create a tough and chewier pancake. In order to get the fluffiness without the chewiness, I refrigerated the batter for about 15 minutes (you can leave it up to over night if you want to) to slow the gluten development before cooking.

The pancakes turned out better than I could have imagined! I will probably continue to tweak this recipe until it’s absolutely perfect but, for now, it’s amazingly delicious. The best part? You could eat this ENTIRE batch and it’s only 14 points! I went with 3 pancakes and a tbsp of maple syrup for a decadent 7 point breakfast!

IMG_5813

Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp sugar

1 large egg

1/2 unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1/2 cup of seltzer water or club soda

1 tsp vanilla

cooking spray

Directions

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients. Add the mixed wet ingredients and mix well with a spoon until there are no more dry spots; don’t over-mix

IMG_5818

Put the mixed batter in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes (you can leave it in there over night if you’d like)

Heat a large skillet on medium heat. Lightly spray oil to coat and pour 1/4 cup of pancake batter. When the pancake starts to bubble, you may add your fruit if you wish

IMG_5819

When the bubbles settle and the edges begin to set, flip the pancakes. Repeat with the remainder of the batter.

IMG_5820

Yields 7 pancakes

WW Points: 2 points per pancake

Sunday Funday Round 3: Red Hook

Nick and I had to make a trip to the Ikea in Brooklyn on Sunday so we decided to make a day out of it by wandering around Red Hook afterwards. Red Hook is a little off the beaten path mostly because it’s not directly off any subway lines so we took advantage of having a car to get there!

Our first stop post-Ikea was a restaurant called The Good Fork. A few people from Haven’s Kitchen recommended I check it out and the fact that it was only a quarter-mile from Ikea made it a no brainer. We found a parking spot right out front (score!) and wandered in. It looked a little empty but then I noticed sunshine coming from the back of the restaurant outdoor seating! The backyard was packed but we were able to grab a table for two.

IMG_5675

Nick ordered a bloody mary made with clam juice (pictured above) and I ordered a French 75 (gin, sparkling wine and lemon). Both were unbelievable. We had an egg white omelette for breakfast so we weren’t starving. We decided to go with the bibb lettuce salad with a soft boiled egg and lardon. It even came with a piece of crispy sourdough bread to get all the yummy goodness that is a runny egg yolk!

IMG_5677

We also ordered a side of their homemade kimchi that was super spicy and super delicious! It was the perfect amount of food to keep us going!

IMG_5678

Next we wandered towards to the water to check out the views. We stumbled upon a Fairway and a few other spots. What initially drew us that way was Sunny’s Bar. We are huge Anthony Bourdain fans and he visited Sunny’s on the last episode of No Reservations. Bourdain filmed his last episode- Brooklyn- before Sandy hit. Sunny’s, like a lot of places in that episode, was devastated by the hurricane. Sunny’s still hasn’t reopened. I was honestly shocked to see so many places in Red Hook, not only open, but thriving. I was happy we were there and able to help the local businesses a bit! Here’s a picture of me about a block from Sunny’s:

IMG_5715Our next stop was right around the corner- Brooklyn Crab. We weren’t hungry at all but we decided to stop in for a beer.

IMG_5679We sat down at the bar inside (outdoor seating was for diners only) and ordered two Peak IPAs. Nick saw oysters on the menu and couldn’t resist! Sitting there, eating oysters and drinking a beer that reminds me of being on the beach in Maine made me feel a million miles away from the city. I will definitely be visiting this place again when I am in need of some time on the water!

IMG_5681The view of the water from our bar stools

IMG_5682Beer and oysters- two of my favorite things!

Our final stops of the day were the Red Hook Winery and Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies. Both are located on Pier 41 just a few minutes walk from Brooklyn Crab. I have seen Red Hook wines in a few places (and where I work) so I was really excited to see that they were open for tastings. They were almost completely destroyed by Hurricane Sandy so to see them up and running (only their 3rd weekend open since Sandy) was amazing! We bought two bottles of wine before heading to Steve’s to pick up a small key lime pie to share. Another amazing Sunday Funday!

Sunday Funday in the City

I posted about my Sunday Funday last weekend in BK so I figured I would post about my Sunday Funday this past weekend. Sunday is usually the day I spend with Nick because we’re both so busy during the week (I work nights and he works Monday-Friday 9-5 and then has grad school on Saturdays). This past weekend we bounced all over the city starting with a brunch at the Breslin.

As I mentioned in my post on Sunday about my cocktail, the Breslin has become one of our favorite brunch spots. There are TONS of brunch restaurants throughout the city that offer unlimited cocktails when you buy a meal aka bottomless brunch. This, unfortunately, is not one of them but the fact that we keep going back should be a testament to how amazing the food is. The have an untraditional traditional menu. Essentially, all the brunch favorites with a delicious twist. I have had everything from the pancakes to the lamb burger to the full English breakfast. I have never been disappointed.

This time we visited with some of Nick’s colleagues to celebrate his friend Eleanor’s birthday. Here’s a peak at some of the things we ordered:

IMG_5451 The caesar salad is the best I have ever had. A chef I worked with at Eataly first told me about it and he was not lying!

IMG_5452

Selection of breakfast pastries- hot cross buns, croissant, cranberry/orange muffin and bran muffin

IMG_5454

Nick’s Full English Breakfast

IMG_5455

My Lamb Burger with trice cooked fries (they didn’t last long enough for me to get a picture!)

The next stop in our Sunday Funday was a place in Inwood that I have been wanting to check out. I live in Washington Heights– a place that most people outside of NYC have never heard of and a place where New Yorkers ask “Really?”. I have lived here for almost 3 years and I love it. It doesn’t have a great reputation because before 10 years ago it was extremely dangerous with one of the highest crimes rates in the city. Like most of New York, though, it is changing. I have seen the beginning of gentrification before my eyes and it’s an exciting thing to be a part of. Inwood is even further uptown!

La Marina has been open for years but recently switched ownership and underwent a major make over. It is a lot like the 79th Street Boat Basin but less fratty and it has better views! I read tons of reviews before visiting and I didn’t have high expectations at all. I must say, it surprised me! I was very impressed with the crowd, the views, the food and the drinks.

IMG_5465

Bottle of bubbly to start of the experience

IMG_5466

Salad with balsamic

IMG_5467

Calamari

IMG_5468

Yucca fries- we ordered seconds and had to restrain from ordering more…

The sun started to set and it started to get cold so we decided to head home. Lauren headed back to her place (she recently moved to Washington Heights because she loved it up here so much!) and Nick, his friend and I headed downtown. Nick and I follow the New York Times restaurant reviews and a few weeks ago Pete Wells reviewed a Filipino restaurant in the East Village called Jeepney. Nick visited a good friend of ours in the Philippines a year and a half ago so he has been wanting to check this place out. Although we had already eaten a TON we decided to head downtown and give it a try!

We had to wait for a table for a little while so we decided to have some drinks in the front waiting area. Nick ordered a Filipino version of a Michelada and I ordered a Filipino sangria made with cardamom!

IMG_5505

I let Nick do all the ordering because he was more familiar with the food. We decided to order some hot Banana Ketchup Wings and Balut to start.

IMG_5486

The wings were spicy and delicious and the balut was scary (ha!). Balut is essentially a hard boiled egg that is made by boiling a duck egg with a semi-developed embryo inside (usually around 17 days old). It’s a bizarre food but I had to try it. Nick ordered one for himself and I decided to steal a bite of his instead of jumping in head first and ordering my own.

IMG_5492

Cracking it open from the top

IMG_5498

About to try my first bite. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be- just not sure I would order it again!

Next up was the Bicol and Pancit Malabok Negra. I preferred the Bicol but everything was amazing! The Bicol is slow-roasted pork shoulder with coconut milk, sili (chili), bagoong sauce (Filipino fish sauce), vigan longganisa (pork sausage), pickled chili and baby bok choy.

IMG_5502

IMG_5500

Pancit- rice noodles, squid ink, shrimp, hard boiled egg, calamari, oysters, scallops, baby octopus, tinapa (smoked fish), smoked tofu and chicharon

I was so full by the end but we ended up ordering a traditional Filipino dessert to finish off our day of over eating. Nick got us Halo Halo which reminded me of a traditional Vietnamese dessert we used to eat all the time called Che.

IMG_5504Shaved ice, coconut gelatin, house candied fruit, coconut milk, homemade flan, ube ice cream and rice krispies

All in all it was a great day! Maybe my next Sunday Funday will be a little healthier…

Breslin Cocktail

20130421-134938.jpg

Nick and I had brunch with some of his colleagues today at the Breslin. This has become one of our favorites brunch spots in recent months. The food is solid and the drink list is different (in the best way possible). Today, I opted for the “This is Happening”- a rye whiskey based drink.

Rye is a whiskey made with at least 51% rye instead of the traditional malted barley. It is very similar to traditional whiskey but has more of a spicy and fruity flavor. This cocktail was made with rye, Benedictine (a medicinal aromatic herbal beverage), Oloroso Sherry (oloroso means “scented” in Spanish), and aromatic bitters- very Manhattan/Old Fashinoed-esque.

Easter Sunday

For Easter I wanted to try out a few new recipes. I love everything Ina Garten so when I stumbled upon this deviled eggs, I had to try it- I mean whats not to love? Eggs and smoked salmon!

The challenges I always face are budget/food cost, keeping with in my Weight Watchers points and making sure the recipe is easy enough that I will be willing to make it over and over again.

Although this recipe isn’t the healthiest, I switched out the heavier ingredients with reduced fat or low-fat options and they still tasted great! The egg yolks add so much flavor and creaminess that you don’t miss the full fat flavors of the sour cream, cream cheese and mayo.

I also modified this recipe by leaving off the salmon roe. The roe would add a great burst of flavor but at $18.99 for about 2 oz. it’s just a tad expensive to use as a garnish. I also saved some money by buying a small plant of chives ($1.99) instead of buying the pre-cut chives for $2.49 that would just go bad in a few days anyways. Now I have chives that will keep growing back!

IMG_4878

Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs

8 extra-large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons good mayonnaise
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives, plus extra for garnish
4 ounces good smoked salmon, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces salmon roe (optional)

Directions

Place the eggs in a pot large enough to hold them in a single layer. Cover the eggs with cold water and bring to a full boil over high heat. As soon as the water boils, turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let the eggs stand for 15 minutes. Drain the eggs and fill the pot with cold water. Set aside until the eggs are cool.

Peel the eggs and then slice them in half lengthwise. Remove the yolks carefully. Place the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and arrange the whites on a platter in a single layer with the cut sides up and sprinkle with salt.

To the egg yolks, add the sour cream, cream cheese, mayonnaise, lemon juice, chives, salmon, salt, and pepper. Beat on medium speed until fluffy. With a small spoon, fill the egg whites with the egg yolk mixture. Cover loosely with plastic wrap (you don’t want to flatten the filling) and refrigerate for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend.

When ready to serve, garnish with a dollop of salmon roe and some extra chopped chives. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.

WW Points: 2 points for 1 deviled egg
I’ve also recently started following Smitten Kitchen after noticing both my roommate and another friend had the cookbook. I honestly don’t know what took me so long to pay attention to this amazing blog! There are so many great recipes and the are so easy! I stumbled upon this one the other day and figured it looked delicious and too easy to mess up. I had most of the ingredients in my kitchen so all I had to buy was the broccoli and parmesan.
I followed the recipe pretty closely but I think I will change it up the next time I try it. Although buying local and seasonal is always my first choice, it’s not always the most convenient or cheapest. Next time I plan on using Trader Joe’s Broccoli florets that microwave in the bag. It is the perfect amount of broccoli, it is cut to the right size and using the microwave makes it so much easier! I also think I might try spraying them with my Pam Olive Oil spray and putting them under the broiler to lower the amount of oil used.

IMG_4880

Broccoli Parmesan Fritters

8 ounces (1 small-to-medium bundle, 225 grams) fresh broccoli (3 cups chopped)
1 large egg
1/2 cup (65 grams) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (30 grams) finely grated parmesan cheese
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus more to taste
A pinch of red pepper flakes or several grinds of black pepper
Olive or vegetable oil for frying

 Directions

Prepare your broccoli: Separate the florets from the biggest stem(s). Cut the florets into 1-inch chunks. To prepare the stems, I like to peel them, as the skin can be thick and doesn’t cook quickly, then slice them into 1/2-inch lengths. You should have about 3 cups of chopped broccoli total.

Steam your broccoli until tender but not mushy: Use whatever method you prefer. My quickie, lazy method is to bring a 1/2-inch or so of water to a boil in a small saucepan, then add the broccoli, place a lid on it and simmer it for 5 to 6 minutes. Drain the broccoli, then set it aside to cool slightly.

In the bottom of a large bowl, lightly beat your egg. Add the flour, cheese, garlic, salt and pepper. Then, add the somewhat cooled broccoli and, using a potato masher, mash the broccoli just a bit. You’re looking to keep the bits recognizable, but small enough (1/4- to 1/2-inch chunks) that you can press a mound of the batter into a fritter in the pan. Once mashed a bit, stir or fold the ingredients together the rest of the way with a spoon. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Heat a large, heavy skillet over moderate heat. Once hot, add a good slick of oil (I usually use a mix of olive and vegetable oil), about 2 to 3 tablespoons. Once the oil is hot (you can test it by flicking a droplet of water into it; it should hiss and sputter), scoop a two tablespoon-size mound of the batter and drop it into the pan, then flatten it slightly with your spoon or spatula. Repeat with additional batter, leaving a couple of inches between each. Once brown underneath, about 2 to 3 minutes, flip each fritter and cook on the other side until equally golden, about another 1 to 2 minutes.

Transfer briefly to paper towels to drain, then to a serving plate if you’ll be eating them shortly or a baking sheet in a 200 degree oven if you’d like to keep them warm for a while until needed. Repeat with remaining batter, adding more oil as needed. Serve with some of the suggestions listed in the head notes, above.

WW Points: 1 point per fritter (without oil for frying)

I also made this yogurt sauce to serve with the Fritters as a last minute addition to our Easter menu. All I had to so was buy a lemon because I had everything else on hand. To lower the fat and make it a little more WW friendly, I used low-fat Fage Greek Yogurt as the base. I also used some garlic power to up the garlicy flavor.

Lemony Garlic Yogurt Sauce

1 cup sour cream or plain, full-fat yogurt
1 to 2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
Pinches of salt
1 small minced or crushed clove of garlic

Directions

Combine all ingredients, cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes so the flavors can marry.

WW Points: 3 points for the entire sauce

(0 points for the amount you would put on 1 fritters)