Chocolate cakes – trying a HEALTHY version!

I’ve been trying to embrace this health craze. Less fat, more protein — pancakes, waffles, cakes – NOTHING is the same anymore. Lately, the talk of the town is the Kodiak Cakes brand. Different people I spoke to were raving about their high protein pancakes. Delicious and kept them full until 1 pm. Of course, I asked, “What are you talking about?”

I like to eat pancakes / waffles occasionally, so was not up to speed on this Kodiak Cakes brand. Turns out, Kodiak Cakes, has been around since 1995. The company was started by Joel Clark based on his mother’s buttermilk flapjack mix. They are located in Utah. Due to funding the company was slow to take off, but now it has and it’s the latest craze.

It’s an interesting story, you should read about it. Joel Clark was even on Shark Tank in 2014; however, he did not accept a deal with any of the Shark Tankers. That show though introduced his product, people were interested and sales took off at Target. 14 grams of protein per serving does sound good, right!

I bought a box of Kodiak Cakes and made pancakes. I have to say, they had a great chocolate taste. This chocolate mix though, I felt was heavy and the texture was more like a cake than a fluffy pancake. I found a recipe for using the Kodiak mix to make little muffins. I decided to make mini cakes instead. They are cute looking, but the recipe I used was not good. The texture of the cakes were so dense. I went by the reviews and they were saying how “fantastic” their muffins were.

Imagine a cake with these ingredients (too much protein): 1 cup Kodiak mix, 4 eggs, 1 cup unsweetened applesauce or 4 smashed medium bananas. Mix, cook at 350 until done.

Baking is about experimenting. We win some, we lose some, but we don’t give up.

I’m on a quest to make these little cakes healthy and delicious. I just need to fine-tune the recipe.

If you haven’t heard of Kodiak Cakes give them a try. They have all kinds of flavored mixes. You can’t go wrong! High protein, just add some fruit, light syrup – you’ll be in breakfast heaven!

When a Moose means a lot!

Moose memories. For over 30 years, every September my father went moose hunting in Canada. He’d be gone three weeks in the wilderness with either my brothers or friends. That was a highlight of his year. Two months before he left, he’d go shopping for groceries to bring on the trip. He’s start pulling out his hunting gear, etc. It was a big ordeal, all of us helping to pack up the truck.

We then would eat moose meat ALL year. The moose burgers were good, but if we heard my Dad yell to my mother, “Pull out a moose roast for tonight,” we ran to visit our friends. Moose roasts were so dry and gamey tasting, just AWFUL! My Dad wised up to this tactic of ours and would say, “EVERYONE will be home for dinner tonight!”

My Dad liked to play pranks on his buddies. Since we had a lot of moose meat, he would give some to his friends. One year he had the hoof of the moose, wrapped it in the white paper that the butcher shop uses and wrote “TENDERLOIN” on it! Gave it to his friend and waited. It took a few months, but you can imagine when his friend called. He sure was mad, his poor wife was unwrapping the “tenderloin” package and found the hoof. She was NOT amused and did not want anymore moose meat from my Dad.

When we were kids we’d have our friends over for dinner. They were excited about having hamburger and french fries. We would stare at them as they ate their burger and keep asking, “So, what do you think? Do you like the burger?”

They would say, “YES, it’s really good!”

When they were finished eating we would tell them they had just eaten a moose burger. At first they looked at us and said, “WE WHAT???” You just had a moose burger. Wasn’t it good! They had to agree, moose burgers were good.

Now my Dad is in his 80s, going moose hunting is too strenuous for him. So, of course, there is sadness to this. I know my Dad misses going. A surprise happened at the store. LOOK, what I found — A MOOSE PLATE!!

I smiled. My Dad would look great at the head of the table for Thanksgiving with his very own MOOSE PLATE!

So, he will have a BIG SURPRISE this year. I hope he likes it as much as I do.

He’s got to smile… RIGHT!!

Diners… American Breakfast – the BEST!

This past weekend, I was in the mood for a “real breakfast.” I mean a little bit of everything. There is something wonderful about going to a diner, they still have that old fashioned feel. Simple and full of choices.

When I got there I knew exactly what I wanted. Although, if I go to The Original Pancake House in California, I like to order the 49er pancakes, they are huge and bit chewy – wonderful! They are probably crepes, just made larger.

Back to my diner experience, I went for the usual… scrambled eggs well done (my mother used to make them so runny, I could not eat them), bacon or sausage, toast and pancakes. I KNOW, this is why they say Americans are fat. So true, this meal is really for two people, I could not eat it all. Mainly, I like the variety. So, too bad they can’t offer one egg, one slice of bacon/sausage, one slice of toast and two small pancakes, right! Anyhow, I wasn’t going to complain, this is what I wanted.

Oh, when I got to the diner, there was a line. So, I put my name on the waiting list. To keep myself busy, I got the menu. Laughing, everyone is line was eyeing each other. I mean, what else do you do, when you are waiting, right.

There was a man next to me, it appeared he was with his wife. He decided to be flirty. I wasn’t too keen on that. His wife looked grumpy. He asked me HOW I got the menu. REALLY – the menus were on the counter in front of us. To try and shooooo him away, I said, “There they are, but here you can have mine, I’m done with it.”

To which he said, “So, what are you going to order?” He leaned into me like an eager puppy to look at menu with me.

WHAT??? Wasn’t that his wife next to him??

This guy was an expert at trying to pick someone up. I didn’t like it!

So, I politely looked at his female companion, smiled, said I had not decided AND moved away.

I HOPE that wasn’t his wife. Awful to have a husband like that.

GOOD NEWS – they did not seat me next to them. Thank goodness or my dining experience would have been ruined.

Instead, I was next to a family with a little girl who was loud and super talkative. She must have been two years old. Then another family across from me. The little boy kept talking about coloring his monsters, looked like he had a coloring book.

So, I had a delightful dining experience!

Oatmeal – WHY must I eat it?

Why do I resist eating oatmeal? Same feelings toward Greek yogurt or smoothies. As soon as I hear those words: oatmeal, greek yogurt and smoothies — I GET MAD!

I think none of us want something shoved down our throat, so to speak. Media, any kind, is on a health kick. That’s fine! I do my best to eat healthy, but sometimes they go OVER BOARD. They make us FEEL guilty. If we don’t eat oatmeal, greek yogurt and smoothies that ANY health issues we have are DIRECTLY RELATED to not eating these foods, THAT they TOLD US, we needed to eat, to STAY ALIVE!

Phew, my rant is complete!

I don’t mind these foods, I just don’t want to be told EVERY DAY to eat them. I feel like a little kid annoyed with his mother for telling him to drink his milk. Trying to change my mind set.

My ex/father/n/law was a doctor. He LOVED oatmeal. At 99 years old when he had his leg amputated from diabetes — YES, this was a sad situation, ALL he wanted was — OATMEAL!

I need to lower my cholesterol. First food on the list to help with this — OATMEAL. Laughing, the dreaded oatmeal. To enjoy oatmeal and cross off a lot of healthy food boxes, I got creative. I read walnuts help lower cholesterol. Also, they say, “An Apple a Day, Keeps the Dr Away.” So, walnuts and an apple went into the oatmeal.

I ONLY used 1/4 cup oatmeal, 1/2 cup too much. Start out small. Learn to EMBRACE the love of oatmeal.

See photo, my oatmeal looked and tasted good. Apple adds a lot of sweetness. Food is about presentation, Folks. I made the effort.

WARNING -> Eat oatmeal warm. Once it gets cold, it becomes a blob, not liquidy anymore.

You know what will happen, don’t you? Soon, I will ONLY want oatmeal for breakfast. I’ll even bring instant oatmeal packets on vacation.

Oh no… PLEASE, don’t say that will happen!

Oktoberfest… cancelled?

You know something is up, when ALL you want is schnitzel.

Lately, I kept thinking of ⏤ NO, I was craving ⏤ SCHNITZEL. I haven’t had it for a long time. I wondered where the sudden desire came from.

Then the other day, I got a message from TimeOut – Chicago. Do you follow TimeOut for your city? It’s really good. If you sign up, you receive weekly updates with events going on in your area.

THAT is how I found out WHY I was craving schnitzel. Of course, it’s almost the end of September, time for Oktoberfest! I was reading that Oktoberfest was cancelled in Munich. I’m sure they will have smaller celebrations around the city. COVID can’t cancel everything this year, RIGHT!

Turns out, Chicago has a lot of Oktoberfest events, it’s not cancelled here. Even something at our Zoo with a band. LOVE the German lederhosen, dirndls and Bavarian music. I have a dirndl, need to dust it off, see if it fits.

YES, we need to be careful with COVID and big crowds, but at the same time, can’t cancel Oktoberfest!

I’m off to find some schnitzel, pretzel, beer and gotta have a brat! Is it asking too much to have red cabbage and Dampfnudel (steamed dumpling, see photo) with vanilla sauce (my favorite)?!

Laughing – I’ll put on “THE- COVID 10 lbs” just celebrating Oktoberfest!

PROST! (Cheers!)

A Wishing Well…

Sometimes we get LUCKY! I was in Michigan at a fair. They had an historical center with different log cabins.

A I explored the buildings, I came across this Wishing Well. I’ve always wanted to see a Wishing Well up close, throw a coin in and make my wish. Of course, I was a bit disappointed when I got closer. Turns out it was a “fake” Well, no water, and you can probably see from the photo a plastic container inside that was very shallow for a plant maybe.

So, I could not make a wish. It would have been ridiculous. Throwing a penny in, would have felt like throwing my penny in the grass – no meaning. Sigh, but from a distance, the visual of the Well was GOOD!

When I got home, I did a search for Wishing Wells. Amazon sells quite a few, people buy them as a decoration for their garden. I had no idea. I know, it sounds silly, but I live in a city, we don’t put Wishing Wells on our roof tops. I think of Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairly Tales when I think of Wishing Wells.

On to my next adventure. Blueberry and raspberry picking. Take a look at this. A field of raspberries, it was amazing. They are a thorny bush, so next time I wouldn’t wear shorts. Your legs can really get scratched up.

I met some really nice people who were picking. There was an older couple in their 70s, who have been coming to the same farm for years. They said they pick about 8 lbs each time. Their grandkids love the blueberries. There was one mother who said she had been coming for 22 years with her daughter. She was sad, because this summer her daughter could not make it. Kids grow up, but she was picking some for her. Keep the tradition alive.

I got to say, it was wonderful to get out of the city and be on a farm. Smell the fresh air, hear the farm animals.

Oh, guess what, while I was getting gas, I found TWO Lucky pennies.

So, the Wishing Well DID WORK — in a round about way! Don’t you enjoy coincidences like that!

Baking – Put the masks back on?

It looks like our mask freedom was short lived. Back to wearing masks indoors even if we are vaccinated. So, with that in mind, I thought I might as well brush up on my baking skills. Fall is coming, who knows what will happen in September. If we are house bound again, back to cooking/baking at home.

I haven’t made peanut butter cookies since I was a child. I’m not a vegan, but I saw this recipe on The Simple Veganista. So easy, seven ingredients in one bowl. Mix and bake.

If you live where there is hot weather, you should let the cookie dough set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes; otherwise, when you put the cookies on the cookie sheet, and into the oven — they melt and all blend together.

I would have been so dismayed, if I looked in the oven window and saw a sheet of peanut butter cake, instead of individual cookies. Another tip, I used a cookie scooper, so cookies look uniform. However, my cookie scooper is medium size and even though I used a fork to press the cookies down, they were chunky and took longer to cook.

Final Result — Excellent!

BONUS – so fast to make, little cleanup!

MUSHROOM coffee, oh yeah!

Just when I thought we couldn’t get any healthier. My daughter introduces me to Mushroom Coffee. Yes, you heard that right – M U S H R O O M – coffee. I immediately thought of magic mushrooms, isn’t that a drug that is illegal. I got on Google.

The Four Sigmatic site says none of the mushrooms they use are illegal. Mushroom coffee will not make you hallucinate. Phew! It’s a combination of normal coffee and mushroom powder. You’d have to go to the site to learn more specifics.

How did it taste? Light, earthy (not like mushrooms) coffee taste. Not strong, mild. Definitely did not feel like I had a caffeine buzz of any sort. Light on the stomach, not acidic.

Would I drink it again. YES, but it’s expensive for every day drinking. Still need to learn more about it. Good to try something new. I cannot drink normal coffee anymore, too acidic, gives me stomach pains. So, trying to find that NEW favorite drink… lemon water seems BORING.

If you have tried it, share your thoughts.

IKEA – New Cookbook -> The ScrapsBook; Recipes using scraps / leftovers…

The weekend is coming, maybe you have some leftovers from the week and don’t know what to do with them. I think you’ll enjoy this new cookbook from IKEA, The ScrapsBook. Different Chefs from North America create recipes out of kitchen scraps and leftovers. Enjoyed seeing some fresh recipe ideas.

They actually fry banana peels, they look like bacon. Trying to wrap my head around whether they would be tasty, they say they are. There are some interesting recipes in this e-book.

Oh, I loved the veggie pancakes they made with leftover stems from different vegetables.

HAPPY COOKING!

Quinoa Macaroni – really good!

I came across these quinoa noodles and thought I would try them. I like quinoa, so in a noodle form they should be good, right. I made a mistake though. I didn’t read the cooking instructions. Thinking they were like normal pasta, I let them cook for over 6 minutes.

BIG MISTAKE! They went from al dente to super inflated and mushy. I looked at directions – 4 minutes for al dente. WOW – that’s fast cooking time, but it made sense, because normal quinoa cooks in 5 minutes. I would not have known they were quinoa noodles, very good.

They are really healthy, free of eggs, nuts, gluten, dairy, soy, peanuts and GMO. The GoGo Quinoa brand is Canadian. On their website they have other quinoa products.

On a side note, I also found Banza chickpea pasta. Have not tried them yet. One new pasta at a time. If my Italian grandmother was alive, I wonder if she would embrace these new pastas.