Saturday, May 31, 2014

Sriracha-Yeast Seasoning

Sriracha in flakes! What could be better?!? I have to admit, I am a sriracha nut. I love my hot sauces and spices, but ultimately, sriracha is my go-to. I try to use it as frequently as possible, incorporating it into dishes that many might think strange. This might be my best use of the sauce yet! I should hope you know about sriracha, but if you've looked at the recipe already, you're probably wondering what nutritional yeast is. Neither the word "nutritional" nor the word "yeast" conjure up mouth watering images. But alas, this is one of the "health-food" store items I will not be caught without. It's nutty, cheesy, earthy flavor is so unique and is a great addition to things like omelets, mashed potatoes, or roasted cauliflower. Not only is it delicious, but you can probably guess by the name that it's super good for you! Nutritional yeast is low in fat and gluten free, and is also loaded with B-vitamins, folic acid, selenium, zinc, and protein. My favorite use for nutritional yeast so far? Popcorn. 

Sriracha-Yeast Seasoning
Adapted from Olives for Dinner

1/2 cup sriracha
1/3 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 tsp cornstarch

Preheat oven to 225 F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a spatula, spread sriracha as evenly and thinly as possible on top of the parchment paper. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. 

Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. The thinnest-applied areas should be done, they will snap and break easily when separated from the parchment paper. Flake off what you can and then return the rest to the oven for another 10-15 minutes or until done.

After all sriracha has been separated from the paper, combine all ingredients in a coffee grinder or food processor and blend to combine. Store in a sealed container in a dark, dry place.

Sprinkle seasoning on things like oven fries, popcorn, hummus, hashbrowns, eggs, stir fry, etc. I sprinkled mine on some popcorn along with some Braggs liquid aminos ("healthy soy sauce"), twas delightful!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Leftover Graham Cracker Banana Bread

Rarely do we have leftover bananas in my house because I swear my dad is a monkey. But when we do, I am always up for the challenge of creating something extraordinary out of something that looks like it should be thrown away. This is partially why I love banana bread so much. Because it reminds me of two of my favorite books: Crime and Punishment, and the Bible. 

It's a beautiful story of redemption! Taking something that is bruised and beaten almost to the point of uselessness, but then resurrecting it into something amazing and life-giving. Not only did I resurrect bananas this time, but also graham crackers! And I must say this is by far my new favorite recipe for banana bread. This is the moistest, most flavorful, springy, banana bread I've ever eaten in my whole life. I might just have to hide some bananas from my dad so I have another excuse to make it again soon... ;)

Leftover Graham Cracker Banana Bread
Recipe adapted from Half Baked Harvest

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup flour (all purpose or white whole wheat)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar, loosely packed 
1/3 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
4 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 F. 
In a small bowl combine graham cracker crumbs, flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, set aside. In a large bowl, blend eggs and brown sugar until smooth. Whisk in coconut milk and oil. Stir in mashed bananas and vanilla until mixed. 
Gently stir in dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until just mixed (DON'T OVERMIX). Pour batter into a greased 9x5 loaf pan. Place the loaf on a baking sheet in the oven. 
Bake for 65-75 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. If the top begins to brown (mine did after 40 minutes), tent with a piece of aluminum foil. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

I'm back! After months spent roaming the streets of Brazil, eating beans and rice every day, and having rehabilitating addicts as best friends, I must say I have changed a lot. BUT! My passion for cooking, and inventing new recipes has remained. Since I haven't posted on my blog in a while I bet you thought I was done with it. LIES. I could not be more excited to get back to posting! A little part of me died when my creative outlet was taken away from me. 

This is but one of the things I learned about myself in Brazil. We are all created with beautiful brains and the ability to dream and imagine. Formed in the image of our Creator, we too are made to create. Too many people reach the middle of their life, and when asked if they are a writer or a musician or an inventor, reply "no, I'm an accountant or a manager or a teacher" etc. But if posing this question to a bunch of kids, they would all describe themselves as dancers, artists, and actors, and be eager to demonstrate their talents. We have let ourselves be narrowed down to our job title. This could not be more depressing. Never stop dreaming. Don't lose the creativity that you nurtured as a child. 

And so, here I am! Singing and dancing around the kitchen as I cook. I couldn't be happier. We can and should allow ourselves to have more than one passion. Even though cooking has nothing to do with my job, it gives me the energy and joy to be passionate about other things in my life. 

"Find your creative outlet and plug into it. Otherwise, you may just short circuit." 
-Giuseppe Bianco

Chicken Enchilada Casserole
Adapted from My Recipes

4 chicken thighs
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, divided
1 cup of corn kernals
1/3 cup low-fat cream cheese, softened
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
3/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 cups onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
2/3 cup salsa verde
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp pickled jalapeños, chopped
9 (6 inch) corn tortillas, cut into quarters
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; sauté about 5 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Remove chicken from pan; let cool. Shred. Place chicken in a medium bowl. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons cilantro, corn, and next 5 ingredients (through black pepper) to chicken; toss to combine.
  3. Return pan to medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup onion; sauté 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 3 garlic cloves; sauté 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add onion mixture to chicken mixture; stir to combine.
  4. Combine remaining 1 1/2 cups onion, remaining 3 garlic cloves, broth, salsa, 1/4 cup water, and jalapeño in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Carefully pour mixture into a blender; add 2 tablespoons cilantro. Process until smooth.
  5. Spread 1/2 cup salsa mixture in the bottom of an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 12 tortilla quarters over salsa mixture. Spoon half of chicken mixture over tortillas. Repeat layers, ending with tortillas. Pour remaining salsa mixture over tortillas; sprinkle evenly with cheddar cheese. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned. Top with remaining cilantro.