The Kitchen Sink

For the love of food, life and everything in between.

Peanut Butter Banana Stuffed Pumpkin French Toast

I’ve been partaking in risky behavior over the past couple of weeks.

And while I haven’t exactly been committing any crimes, dancing with tigers or jumping out of air planes, I have been watching Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” on my iPad right before going to sleep.

 

This leaves my mouth watering and my mind racing with thoughts of how can I make that entree/dessert/appetizer appear in my kitchen in the next five minutes??

 

I resist temptation to scurry into the kitchen and start concocting whatever Alton Brown was just raving about. But it’s not easy because I swear, if there ever was a show that could qualify as food porn (and let me tell you I hate that term – food porn) I think this show takes the cake.

 

Just when I was ready to break the habit, switch back to watching something a little more low key like Modern Family, Selling New York or Gilmore Girls I watched some woman in some diner in some Idaho town create peanut butter banana french toast. And for the next two Saturday’s I created my own version – sans Rum and butter – and felt as though I was in absolute breakfast heaven.

 

Then fall came and I was ears deep in spaghetti squash and gourds and I started buying all things orange and yellow and pumpkin puree was going into like everything I was making. I wasn’t even sure peanut butter and bananas would let some pumpkin in on that great thing they’ve got going but the aroma that was coming off the griddle assured me I had done a good job playing match maker.

Peanut Butter Banana Stuffed Pumpkin French Toast

 Serves 1

You will need:

2 slices of your favorite whole grain bread

1/2 medium ripe banana, sliced into thin strips

1 TBSP peanut butter

1 egg

1/4 cup pureed pumpkin

ground cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Toppings such as (but not limited to):

Maple Syrup

Brown Sugar

Honey

Walnuts or Pecans

More Peanut Butter

Powdered Sugar

Fruit

Here’s what you do:

In a medium bowl or shallow pan whisk egg, vanilla extract and a dash of each spice (cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg). Whisk in pumpkin puree and a splash of low fat milk or water. Set aside.

Divide peanut butter between the two slices of bread and lay banana slices diagonally across one slice. Top with the other slice and dip sandwich into egg-pumpkin mixture, evenly coating all sides.

Prepare griddle or skillet over medium heat with non-stick cooking spray.

Cook sandwich over medium heat for about 5 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking time so that each side is browned and just slightly crispy.

Plate and slice diagonally (all things taste better when they’re cut on the diagonal, yes?)

Top as desired.

Pumpkin Zucchini Lasagna

Every September I fall in love all over again. I fall in love with the most ideal temperatures, the warmest woven clothing, the sweetest apples, the crunchiest pumpkin seeds, the creamiest chowder, the most beautiful reds, yellows and oranges. I could wrap myself up in a blanket of autumn and stay for quite awhile.

And if the last post was any indication, I also partake in the craze that is adding pumpkin to  nearly every sort of meal imaginable. This time last year I prepared pumpkin stuffed shells for my girls from the internship. We celebrated the new letters we could display after our name and spoke of the careers that would play out for each of us, a different path.

One year later, I was craving the warmth of that savory pumpkin dish once more. This time, in the form of lasagna. Given that I’ve never had a great relationship with lasagna noodles, boil or no-boil, I decided to omit them all together and instead, I used zucchini. And if I’m reading your mind correctly right now, let me just say that yes, I’m on that zucchini is the new low-carb pasta bandwagon too. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for carbohydrates, just blame the noodles on this one.

 

Pumpkin Zucchini Lasagna

Serves 1

1/2 cup part skim ricotta

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

1/4 cup gorgonzola

dash of red pepper flakes

salt and pepper to taste

handful baby spinach leaves, chopped

1/2 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise into thin, flat strips

1/2 cup marinara sauce

 

Preheat oven to 350F and prepare a small baking dish. Spray pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix ricotta and gorgonzola cheese with pumpkin, red pepper flakes, spinach, salt and pepper.

Begin the layering process my spooning a thin layer of marinara sauce onto the bottom of the pan. Lay strips of zucchini down then top with ricotta pumpkin mixture. Repeat this process one more time, ending with a layer of tomato sauce on top. Sprinkle with addition cheese as desired.

Bake for 15 minutes covered with tin foil, remove foil and continue baking for another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool about 5-10 minutes before serving.

Note this recipe can easily be increased to reflect the number of guests you are serving.

Mini Portobello Pizzas

I watch the way the clouds huddle over the deep blues of the sound, a pewter tint surrounds them and fills them. I catch a glimpse of the sun, she has traded places with her summer skin. But I can’t help but feel like everyone else.

It seems that every social media outlet (think instagram, pinterest and the like) is filled with all things autumn and I’m just another pumpkin-loving kind of girl. But hey, I guess it’s about time I embraced that whole “the more the merrier” concept and took a seat at the fall appreciation table. But really, you’ll probably find me kicking up crunchy leaves along the curb, zipping up my boots, marveling at the way the leaves filter the light onto the last of the summer tomato crop, pulling my new scarf just a little tighter over my shoulders.

Ironically, the recipe I’ve chosen to include today has nothing to do with fall, or pumpkins. In fact, the jpegs have been sitting idle in my flickr account for about 6 weeks now, patiently awaiting my return to the world of blogging.

But don’t say I didn’t warn you of all the pages of pumpkin filled goodness to come.

Mini Portobello Pizzas

Makes 6 mini pizzas, enough for 2 people

1 package of baby bella stuffers, stems removed (contains 6 caps)

3/4 cup marinara sauce

5-10 cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

5 leaves fresh basil, chopped

1/4 pound prosciutto, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F and spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Spoon marinara sauce into each baby portobello mushroom. Fill with tomatoes and prosciutto. Sprinkle with cheese and basil and bake until cheese is bubbling and melted, about 10-15 minutes.

Peanut Butter Honey Muffins {with chocolate chips}

I’ve been thinking a bit about the barriers to posting more frequently. And do you want to know the one I can’t seem to shake?

It’s a heck of a lot easier to post about desserts and sweets.

I can’t say why, I just can’t put my finger on it. Maybe I find cupcakes and cookies easier to photograph and so the words come with less effort. But the bounty of local fresh produce has me jittering with excitement, and peaches never have to fall victim to cobbler or crisp, instead they squish in between my teeth, juice dripping down to my elbows. It doesn’t get much better than this I think. But then it does. With a little ricotta and toast and some honey. Then I’ve nearly gone to breakfast heaven. Unfortunately, this treat is consumed in the dawn hours before work an hour or so before the sun shines. Some day soon I hope to share this effortless recipe with you.

But in the mean time, I will share these.

I don’t bake very much these days, what was once comforting now seems like too much of a mess. Hence the lapse in posting.

The bowl of batter is too tempting to my finger tips and they will inevitably end up in my mouth. So these days I tend to shy away from cupcake trays and cookie sheets, unless they’re used for quiche and roasting up veggies.

But on opening day of peach picking I came across a little guy behind the glass door of the baked goods case at the farm stand. A peanut butter honey sort of guy. This guy was of course not a guy at all, he was a muffin, a less fanciful treat than a cupcake. I purchased him and I shared him, consuming half. I savored every crumb. I was left with disappointment and was in dire need of a tall glass of milk. I can make something better I thought, the flame within me flickered a bit and once home, the apron came out and the flour fluttered about the kitchen.

 

It was nice, paying a visit to my days of baking, but I am much happier these days among tomatoes and summer squash, flounder filets and sea scallops.

Peanut Butter Honey Muffins {with chocolate chips}

Adapted from Two-Tarts Blog

Makes about 18 large muffins

Ingredients:

3 ripe bananas

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup honey

3/4 cup natural peanut butter

2 eggs

1/3 cup + 1 TBSP canola oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup unbleached, all purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup milled flax seed

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400F and place the bananas, sugar, honey, peanut butter, eggs, canola oil and vanilla extract into a food processor and blench until smooth.

Combine the rest of the ingredients (flours, flax seed, baking soda, salt and chocolate chips) into a large bowl. Poor the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon just until combined.

Spoon into a prepared muffin tin and bake for 16-18 minutes.

Egg White Oatmeal

I’ve fallen out of the posting rhythm. In keeping with my lessons learned from my previous post, I can admit that keeping up with my blog has been sitting on the back burner, it simply hasn’t been my priority. Some priorities lined up ahead of writing for the blog include: running, being outside more, experimenting in the kitchen, and going on vacation just to name a few.

For about a week and a half, I fell in love with rising before the sun and running through the deserted streets of town, while the air was still slightly cool, faint shadows of clouds hung like a canopy over the river, and the headlights of cars were sparse. I am calling this the honeymoon phase, a rainy morning deterred me, I was reminded what it was like to have that extra hour of sleep and the next clear morning, I awoke at a more reasonable hour and headed off to work, sans run.

I have a pretty bad habit of perfectionism, as if running before work is the only way to fit in exercise. I have come to embrace that it is in fact not the only way (insert sarcasm here) and I am learning to appreciate the mid afternoon Sunday run through the state park, with adequate shade provided by trees and a light sound breeze. I’m also a pretty big fan of the after work run down by the beach, and while hotter than the pre-dawn trail, the smells of the ocean and the way the markings of feet and beach buckets remain imprinted in the sand is proving to be a great way to wind down after work.

Sometimes I catch myself worrying about what will happen when it’s forty degrees out, ice lines the boardwalk and daylight savings kicks in once more. I don’t have these thoughts for long though, a beautiful moment presents itself; the sun dips beneath some trace clouds, about to settle into the sea for another evening. A sight I may have never caught had I not learned to adapt my running routine to fit into my schedule.

I did it again, I wrote about running, something that truly has nothing to do with the recipe I’m sharing with you. I think I’m sorry, not really, these two are completely related. Running and egg white oatmeal are currently topping the “what makes me happy” list. If you’re anything like me, you’re cringing at the thought of egg whites and oatmeal, together, in the same bowl. Eggs and oatmeal don’t go to together, right? Wrong, so very very wrong. The egg whites provide little to no flavor but rather a boost of protein and transform the oatmeal to a creamy, puffy texture I did not think oats were capable of.

 

Egg White Oatmeal

Serves 1

Slightly adapted from Kylie of Immaeatthat 

Ingredients:

1/3 cup dry old fashioned oats

1/2 cup water

dash of ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp vanilla or coconut extract

1/2 of a banana

2 egg whites

Optional toppings:

nuts/seeds, fresh or frozen fruit, nut butter, honey, nutmeg, etc.

Directions:

Over medium heat, cook the oats, water, vanilla (or coconut) extract and cinnamon until the oats have absorbed most of the liquid, about 3-4 minutes. Vigorously whisk in sliced banana and then whisk in egg whites until thoroughly combined. Cook another 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the oatmeal takes on a very light and fluffy texture. Transfer to a bowl and top with desired additions.

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I realized part of this weighted down feeling I was suffering from (see previous post) was the weight of anxiety and frustration. But as far I could tell there was no clear source for the anxiety nor the frustration and I was trying my best to ride these feelings out. Roll with the punches I told myself. Go with the flow. I wasn’t flowing though, I was snapping back and grimacing and over all not carrying out my days in the most positive light.

One day last week when I was trying to free my mind, wandering aimlessly through blogs and tumblr accounts I was hit with three wonderful things. This flourless peanut butter cookie recipe, A song brought to me by my itunes shuffle selection, and another quote I came across online.

The song was a remix, a techno type song, completely not my usual taste but it happens to be one of my favorite workout songs. You know, one of those high energy beats that enters your ears and floods your toes and allows you to pick up that running pace just a bit? My favorite kind. The kind I relied on for runs at the gym. Notice I said relied on, past tense. My gym membership had lapsed years ago and with that so had my running habits.

The gym I thought. Should I join a gym? No I don’t have time. But running has always brought me such happiness in the past.

And the quote was this:

Instead of saying “I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,” and see how that feels. Often that’s a perfectly adequate explanation. I have time to iron my sheets, I just don’t want to. But other things are harder. Try it: “I’m not going to edit your resume, sweetie, because it’s not a priority.” “I don’t go to the doctor because my health is not a priority.” If these phrases don’t sit well, that’s the point. Changing our language reminds us that time is a choice. If we don’t like how we’re spending an hour, we can choose differently.

-Unknown

I don’t run anymore, and I don’t belong to a gym because being in the best shape that my body is capable of is not a priority. Say what?

I shut the computer and my mind began to race. Would it be worth it to re-join the gym even if I would only be able to go before work? What time would that mean I would have to wake up? The answer was before 4 AM and with that I quickly sought an alternative. Could I run outside? What about the days when I truly don’t have time? Then what would I do?

I love mornings. And I love working up a good sweat first thing. No matter what barriers come my way that day, knowing that I have already put sneaker to pavement (or treadmill) provides me with feelings of accomplishment and comfort. A shield, if you will, a shield of positive thinking with an ability to stand up against negativity, anxiety and the unknown.

What if I awoke at 4AM to run?

But it’s dark out.

And with that I headed to the sporting goods store to equip myself with some neon reflective gear.

I’ve fallen in love all over again. With my sneakers. With mornings. With running.

I don’t regret that hour of sleep I’ve traded in. Not one bit.

These cookies truly have nothing to do with running but they’re quick and simple and delicious. I think you need to head over here for the original recipe and make them. The only tweaking I did was to use smooth peanut butter with 1/4 cup chopped peanuts instead of chunk peanut butter – because I hate chunky peanut butter and wouldn’t buy it just for some cookies – and I also added miniature chocolate chips to the batter. Because life is better with miniature chocolate chips. And running.

French Toast with Berry Yogurt Sauce

I wanted to start with a repost of this lovely quote and a very big thank you to Sara over at Sprouted Kitchen for sharing it.

Have patience with everything that remains unresolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.

-Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to A Young Poet

Lately, I’ve felt a bit weighed down. I find this particularly ironic as I continue to lose weight as part of my quest to return to my former slimmer self. But anyhow, this hypothetical weight (the one I can’t measure on a scale), I don’t really know what is causing it, so therefore I don’t know how to fix it. And that is where the root of all my struggles begin. I am driven to fix things. Tidy things. Arrange and organize things. I make myself (a little) crazy about it sometimes. And so, the quote above resonated quite deeply with me. For the first time in a long time I felt that it was okay to stop trying to fix everything because of course, this fixation with fixing never did equate to any great happiness anyway.

So I’m going with a different approach. I’m going to try and follow Rainer Maria Rilke’s suggestion and live everything or maybe, I’ll just strive to live a bit more presently than I currently am.

I must have subconsciously had Ashley’s latest breakfast Friday recipe in my mind this morning as I returned the Kashi Go Lean! Vanilla Crunch back to the canister and starting mashing blueberries and yogurt instead.

I had never attempted a yogurt sauce before, in fact, I’m not truly convinced that I enjoy the words yogurt and sauce sharing the same space but anyhow, I ended up making this little yogurt-milk-berry sauce using some of the jewels we picked over the holiday weekend.

Really and truly, I find myself filled to the brim with happiness when I am among those silken blueberry branches and buzzing rows of raspberries.

We quickly ate our way through the one box of raspberries that we had kept in the fridge. I stowed the rest in freezer safe bags for longer preservation. For a few years now, I’ve envisioned myself popping these frozen berries like candy in the cold winter months while I dream of July mornings, but instead, I always manage to eat them all long before the summer months wind to an end. Maybe this year will be different, though not likely given my recent discovery of this french toast topping. 

French Toast with Berry Yogurt Sauce

Serves 1

For the french toast:

2 slices whole wheat bread

1 egg

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

splash of water

Whisk egg, cinnamon, vanilla extract and a tiny bit of water in a shallow bowl. Dip slices of bread to coat and cook over medium heat in a pre-heated skilled about 1-2 minutes per side, until golden brown. Plate and top with sauce.

For the berry yogurt sauce:

1/4 cup each blueberries and raspberries – I used some of the refrigerated blueberries so I could mash them easily with a fork, like I said above, the raspberries were frozen.

1/2 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt

2 Tbsp 1% milk

1 Tbsp unsweetened, flaked coconut

Mash blueberries in a small bowl with the back of a fork. Using the fork, whip the yogurt into the berries and add milk slowly. Whip until milk is incorporated. Add raspberries pour over french toast once plated. Top with flaked coconut and cinnamon as desired.

Breakfast Banana Oat Mash-up

Unfortunately, I’m still running low on words. But I’ve been making this breakfast for myself almost everyday and here’s why:

 Cold oatmeal is fantastic when the temperature reaches 75 degrees, before the sun comes up.

There’s peanut butter and banana involved.

It’s portable and can be made the night before.

In fact, it’s even tastier when made the night before.

No cooking necessary.

It keeps my tummy full until lunchtime.

And while I’ve always been all about variety, I find myself pulling the pyrex off the shelf and stirring up this bowl of goodness more often than I’d like to admit.

 Get mashing!

Breakfast Banana Oat Mash-up

Serves 1

Inspiration from Kylie over at Imma Eat That

Ingredients:

1/2 of a ripe banana

1 TBSP peanut butter

1 TBSP chia seeds

1 tsp honey

1/3 cup old fashioned oats

1/2 cup Kefir or Greek yogurt

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup berries

Directions:

Mash banana in a small bowl with a fork. Add peanut butter, chia seeds, honey and oats and mix to for a dough. Pack into the bottom of the bowl. Top with Kefir, vanilla extract, cinnamon and berries. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Stir and eat in the morning!

Watermelon Lime Ice (with fresh black raspberries)

 One of my favorite memories of summer stems from being down on the Jersey Shore. And to date, not a summer has gone by where I haven’t spent at least a couple days baking beneath the sun, among monster waves beating the shoreline, in boats bobbing along the bay and enjoying some quintessential summertime treats. 

Over the years our time spent down on the shore has varied from several weeks to just a few nights. As schedules become busier and time seems to whiz by on a Monday through Friday time clock, capturing those perfect summer moments seems to come less and less frequently. But these moments are still possible for those willing to create and savor them.

There was once a time when I was lucky enough to visit the shore twice in the same summer. Once in June and once again in August. Our June trip was usually limited to a couple nights at the motel. A wood paneled Wind Jammer that hung heavy with the musk of cigar smoke. Something that could seem rather unappealing to the untamed eye come as memories to me, as unique as the stucco walled outdoor stairway I stubbed my toes on too many times to count.

We would climb the stairs with sandy feet, returning from a trip to Sundae Times. I never chose the sundae though. My heart was always set on the small stand at the end of the ice cream counter, for there was the man with the shaved ice.

My mom and brother and I would sit on the balcony in rickety outdoor furniture, our legs up on the balcony, eyes cast onto the twinkling lights of the bridge. The lifeline to the main land. I held on to the night like I clutched the spoon to my ice, never wanting to have to leave that island.

When I came across this recipe on Ashley’s site, I about ran out to the store to get a watermelon at that very moment. This recipe had the potential to rival Sundae Time’s shaved ice. And while nothing can transport me onto that Wind Jammer balcony at this very moment, this frozen treat sure comes close.

Watermelon Lime Ice (with fresh black raspberries) 

The original recipe can be found here.

I used about 4 TBSP water in total and just 1 tsp of honey as my source of liquid sweetener.

Walking back from town today I stumbled upon several black raspberry bushes in amongst some overgrowth along the patch of land in front of my house. I vaguely remembered these bushes existed, but as new construction comes up next door, the bushes have become incredibly accessible. They made a nice addition but this dish is quite perfect all on its own.

Pita Pizzas

I seem to be suffering from quite the writer’s block. It’s not too often that I am unable to sit down and start typing, unsure of where I’m going but somehow come up with something worthwhile that winds itself into a recipe. Today seems to be one of those days unfortunately.

What is particularly unfortunate about this is that I often start writing posts in my mind at inopportune times. Like while I’m out on a walk, or elbows deep in potting soil, or racing over the Braga bridge to New Bedford. These times are just not conducive to posting and so on this beautiful, sunnier-than-predicted Saturday, I find myself in a disjointed rhythm of typing and backspacing ultimately left with nothing but a blinking cursor and a lot of white space.

Rather than hash it out I’m going to leave you with a lovely little recipe for pita pizzas. Though I’ve found that making your own dough is incredibly simple thanks to a stand mixer, I have yet to perfect its crispiness factor (if that makes sense). I’m often left with a slightly doughy texture despite adequate cooking time as evidenced by bubbling cheese and roasted tomato skins. So for those who lack a stand mixer, or have yet to perfect their own dough recipe, or for anyone who enjoys a nice crispy little individual pie that comes together in less than 5 minutes, this recipe is for you.

Pita Pizza

Makes two small pizzas

Ingredients:

2 Joseph’s Flax, Oat Bran and Whole Wheat Pitas

1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese

several thin slices of mozzarella (shredded works too)

4 grape tomatoes, thinly sliced

4 slices of thinly sliced, imported Prosciutto

1/4 to 1/2 cup tomato sauce

1 TBSP chopped fresh basil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 475F. Place pitas onto a baking sheet. Spread tomato sauce onto pita(s). Then top with Mozzarella cheese, prosciutto,  tomatoes and basil. Lastly, sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Bake for about 8-10 minutes, until cheese is bubbling slightly. Remove from oven and serve!