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FOOD PLANNING: Baking & Mediterranean Food (Recipes & Tons of Pics!)

Monday, August 15, 2011

It's been a while since I posted a food-planning blog with recipes and pictures, so that's what I'm going to do tonight!

To be quite honest, my food consumption has been far less than exemplary in the past month, which the exception of one great week when I committed to you all to be awesome. [Yeah, most effective peer pressure out there to be healthy!!]

However, despite my multitude of slip ups, I have made several delicious things in the past few weeks that I wanted to share! Just as a forewarning, there are several healthy, and a few NOT so healthy recipes I'll share, along with photos. Keep in mind that I'm not perfect, and I don't cook/bake healthily all the time. Indulgences are a part of a normal, sustainable lifestyle (IMHO), but that's just what works for me. Take what you like, leave what you don't.

Those things in mind... I'll get sharing!

Going back in time a few weeks.... I decided to improvise for a meal and wanted a way to use up all these fresh veggies I had in my fridge. So, basing the sauce on a different recipe I've shared before (by Gina, at, I came up with my own mix of what I had on hand, including italian turkey sausage. It was wonderful and full of flavor, with a light "creamy" but low-calorie sauce. Here is the recipe for Pasta with Italian Turkey Sausage and Summer Squash:

If you remember from my 2-Year Anniversary blog, I made a little picnic lunch to bring out with my hubby. As part of that lunch, I made a summer corn salad that was literally amazing. I promised to share, so here I share the recipe:

This salad is light and fresh, with a sweet crisp from the raw corn and shallots (which have a nice sweet flavor, but give the salad extra oompf!).

Now, to this past weekend.

Do you all remember when I posted pics of our new house, and said we'd be getting an extra worktable/counterspace for our kitchen? I had that ugly little coffee table covered in a green tablecloth sitting along my railing. Well, just the day before our Open House party last weekend, my dad surprised me by coming by WITH THE WORK TABLE!!! It came in, and he had the guys at the shop (he owns a kitchen-supply store) put it together for me! So, we had the counter all set up and rocking to be used at our Open House. Here are some pictures for you all to see what I mean:

It is 5' wide by 24" deep, solid wood, with a 2 inch maple wood butcher block top.

It has two sliding drawer in front and a single shelf for storage on the bottom. I haven't gotten too creative with the shelf space yet and just have my appliances and some random carbs down there now (LOL). But I hope to get some neat useful baskets to store things in that will look nicer, and hopefully keep my cats away. ;)

This space has been INCREDIBLY useful already in the past week! It was a huge help this weekend as I did a bunch of food-prep! For more info about the tables, and to find many other superior, professional quality cook-stations, visit here:

Friday afternoon, I got busy making some snacks to have around the house.

First on the docket were Apricot Pistachio bars, from Carrots n Cake. For the recipe, go here:

Mix your wet, mix your dry...

Then combine in a large mixing bowl and press into a 9x9 pan.

You get these tasty, healthy, salty-sweet snacks!

I also made carob-peanut butter. I've made PB many times before, and this time was super wonderful. I've found a few things in making PB: 1) the best PB comes from fresh-cracked peanuts with the skins ON (but this is extra time consuming, and I get lazy); 2) the SECOND best PB comes from spanish-roasted/salted peanuts from a great nut-dealer (like; 3) the THIRD best PB comes from honey roasted or plain roasted peanuts from a tub at the grocery (this is seriously not as good though); and lastly, 4) NEVER NEVER NEVER try making PB with RAW peanuts. It doesn't work, and tastes nasty and bitter, like icky bean paste (threw away a whole batch after trying this. LOL!).

This PB is made using #2, with a tablespoon of carob powder for a "chocolately" taste, and a drizzle of honey. (FYI- 4 cups of peanuts or 16 oz. equals almost exactly the amount of a standard sized PB jar when buttered. This jar is from Smuckers Natural.)

Also on Friday afternoon, I made no-bake protein bars, which I've shared with you before, so I won't say much. Here is the link for the recipe if you haven't seen it before:

Again, mix wet ingredients in a bowl, mix dry in another bowl. And combine! Depending on if you use protein powder, the mixture may seem really dry. Don't worry-- just keep mixing and press it into the pan, even if it looks crumbly. It will work, I promise. :)

See what I mean? Crumbly looking!

Aaahh but it works out!

Freeze and then cut into squares or rectangles or ovals or whatever. I like to wrap in plastic and then put in a baggie for to-go snacks later!

Saturday morning after my nice long run, I wanted pancakes. I was craving them all week, honestly. So I got busy and made vegan Banana Walnut Pancakes. These are FABULOUS and my new favorite pancake recipe to date. I've made them a few times before, and finally got around to adding the recipe to spark to share. It's a recipe I found in a bed and breakfast recipe collection book I received as a gift from a MN B&B on my two-day "honeymoon" after Paul and I got married. It's a great little book with delicious recipes! Here it is, for your own B&B at home:

If you've EVER made pancakes before, you know the gist. ;)

This batch makes a few extras, which I cook right away and then freeze to warm up later for a weekday breakfast!

In the afternoon, I felt like baking. I finally got around to trying a chocolate chip "dough ball" cook recipe I had saved a long while back! I follow Diana at The Chic Life, and she's always coming up with tasty creations. For the recipe, go here:

What makes these different from normal cookies is they're puffy tops and soft doughy middles.

Good thing it only makes 16 cookies... more around the house would be VERY DANGEROUS! (We ate them all already anyway. Oops)

Oooohhh yeeeaaahhhhhh....

This baggie didn't stay full for very long, despite my efforts at self-control. Definitely can't make these often, but what a treat to do once in a while!!

Last thing to bake on Saturday was granola, from I've shared this with you guys several times, but here's the recipe if you missed it before:

Paul LOVES this granola on top of his honey-nut cheerios. I prefer mine AS the cereal with milk, or sprinkled in a greek yogurt parfait with berries.

Sunday morning I made steel-cut oats. Not a fancy recipe, just yummy. :)

Then, I was busy all afternoon! I began by making this dough for a (very unhealthy but soooo worth it maybe once every other year) Pull-Apart Browned Butter Cinnamon Sugar Bread. Oh man. Yeah, it declares its unhealthy nature in the name. I won't say much.... but I'll share a link if you dare to want more:

And may be just a FEW photos to show you how pretty (and tedious-- this buggar took about three hours in its entirety!) it really was....

Dough, pre-baking, post-rising. It had to be rolled out, then sliced into six strips, stacked and sliced into six again.

Post-baking glory...mmmmmmm....

I enjoyed (too much) with iced coffee.

Next adventure for the afternoon... MEDITERRANEAN FOOD!

I made hummus, from This stuff is freaking amazing. Puts store bought to SHAME:

Tzatziki sauce (HALF recipe was PLENTY-- lots of leftovers):

Mediterranean house salad (recipe from the only greek-food restaurant in town):

This salad is light, fresh, and keeps pretty well in the fridge for a few days. I enjoyed leftovers with today's lunch and dinner.

And finally, FALAFEL. This is NOT so healthy (at least when it's fried, like I did), but could be much better if you possibly experiment with baking or grilling them. For my first attempt, I figured I'd follow the recipe and see how it went:

They turned out beautiful and delicious! What a great food! We stuffed pita pockets with little falafel balls, tzatziki sauce, hummus, fresh tomato, onion, and romaine. Perfect and flavorful!

I made a double batch. A single batch from the recipe would yield about 10 balls, made from a 1" baller and flattened slightly for frying.

Paul's parents visited town yesterday, along with his sister. They really enjoyed the "new foods" I had prepared, having never tasted anything like it before in their rural, farming, Minnesotan small-town lives.

It was a beautiful night, so we all enjoyed dinner outside on our deck with our new deck-furniture!

That about wraps up the best of the food I've made lately! I hope you found some tasty recipes, and get any inspiration from my sharing. Let me know if you try something how it works out. :)

Have a wonderful, tasty week friends!!
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