Monday, December 20, 2010

Quinoa Tabbouleh

It was another...interesting week, recipe-wise. I'm still learning how to balance substitutions and flavors, as well as consistency. Let's just say, I was a little nervous about having a recipe for this week. But there was an eleventh hour reprieve. Inspired by The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook by Jackie Newgent, RD, I whipped up some of her Fresh Herb Quinoa Tabbouleh. I couldn't believe I had most of the ingredients on hand.

Tabbouleh is one of those dishes that I have a love/hate relationship with. I love couscous and tomatoes, and if those are the predominate flavors, I'm normally down for some. But too many times I've been burned by the overwhelming flavor of another ingredient (normally raw onion). So when I saw her list of ingredients (which is much longer than the tabbouleh I have made before), I knew it would be all about getting the balance right, especially with the quinoa taking place for couscous. Because of this, I'm going to leave the ingredient list pretty loose when it comes to measuring because you know what you like. If you like raw onion, kick it up a notch. If you prefer tomato, you can lean heavy on it. Being a cold grain salad, it's nicely flexible for personal taste. Here's what I used though, for a starting point.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Eggplant Pancakes

Say what? I know, ya'll are probably as skeptical about this as I was when I first came across the idea. Heading into week three, I've had a lot of recipe failures. And those that worked...well, there's only so many times one can eat the same thing the same way, you know?

Thankfully, I came across How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman. Normally I'm against cookbooks with no photos, but this book is amazing. He's included tons of techniques and variations, so even if you aren't inspired by one flavor combination, there's six more on the next page to shake things up. It's an awesome book for ideas to encourage creativity.

In it, I was introduced to pureeing. Obviously not a foreign concept, but something I hadn't considered outside the realms of the starchy potato family or flavorless baby food. Boy was I wrong. And after pureeing my first eggplant, it was an easy jump to pancakes.

Now, these pancakes aren't sweet and don't cry out for butter and maple syrup. They're moist, flavorful, and (one of the best parts for me) reheat nicely in a toaster oven.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Zucchini Latkes

Whether you're celebrating Hanukkah or just getting healthier, Zucchini Latkes are a tasty treat. And this version is gluten- and egg-free! (Eggs are allowed in my diet, but I wanted to post something friendly to my sister's own diet.)

I've been on my new diet for almost two weeks and I've learned a lot so far. It's been really challenging and I've certainly had ups and downs (including a lot of...unsuccessful recipe attempts). But this one is one of my favorites to date. I've unfortunately lost the original site that inspired it, but here's the modified version for your perusal.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Radical Shift in Direction

Howdy to all!

I appreciate all the support you've given up to this point; I know we're just getting started. However, I've recently come across a condition I was previously unaware of, Candida. Basically, it's an overgrowth of yeast in the body that offsets the inner workings. It can be responsible for a slew of seemingly-unrelated symptoms from fatigue, abdominal pain and indigestion, joint pain, weight gain (especially resistant to dieting and exercise), confusion/dizziness, brain fog, skin rashes, mood swings/depression, food allergies, and serious sugar/carb cravings, to name a few. It can even weaken your immune system, leaving you open to other nasties. It can affect different people in a variety of ways, depending on what organs are most affected.

Everyone has at least some Candida Albicans in them, practically from birth. However, the problem comes when good bacterias are killed off and the Candida can run amuck. From there it is fed by yeast and sugars which are, of course, rampant in most Americans' diets. Unfortunately, an imbalance can be caused by a lot of common factors like antibiotic use, oral contraceptives, stress, alcohol use, or just a prolonged diet with too many carbs and sugars. Sound like anyone you know?

Of course, I'm not an expert (under a week of research under my belt so far), but I encourage you all to take a moment to take a look at the overview and check out a questionnaire. Even if you don't think this applies to you, it might well apply to someone that you care about.

The Candida Diet (Information and Resources)
Candida Questionnaire

I also just finished The Candida Cure: Yeast, Fungus & Your Health by Ann Boroch, CNC. It was very informative and more recent than most of the books available at my library on the subject. It was a quick read and she breaks down some of the ways Candida affects the body in more detail than what I had previously found online.

The diet prescribed is really strict (cutting out sugars and a lot of carbs), but overall seems for the best as far as health is concerned, focusing on proteins, veggies and complex (non-gluten) carbohydrates. Once the fungus is under control, one can add back fruits and other foods gradually.

Now to the point of it's connection to this blog. I was surprised by the symptoms I had on this list, as some I never dreamed were related. Most of them I figured were due to too little exercise and just getting older. But now that I've found out there might be something I can do about it more proactively, and I'm motivated to give it a try. I'm hoping to get tested soon, but in the meantime I've been making the switch and trying a new way of eating. Even if I don't have it, I'm very likely at risk to develop it and let's face it, most people could use more vegetables and less sugar in their diet.

The weekend was tough; sugar is a drug and withdrawal left me with serious headaches. I've started to show some other symptoms of die-off, but I'm already starting to feel a little more energetic. Now, that might just be me feeling better from the sugar withdrawal or being happier about eating healthier, but I'm ok with that. I want to feel better, more vibrant and more focused. It's really tough sometimes (especially in the grocery store or driving past fast food), but in some ways it's a lot easier to diet when you think to yourself 'Is this what's making me feel so bad?' every time you're tempted to indulge.

So the long and short of it (mostly long, I know) is that this blog is going to have to shift away from traditional baked goods and more into exploring a new way of eating for me. Depending on what comes of tests and such, I'm unsure of what will happen with the contents of this blog, but it is still my goal to put up a recipe a week (preferably on Monday) and find out what you guys think. Thank you for you time and support!

p.s. Yes, I know it's a crappy time of year to try this out. I was going to wait, but I figured I might as well get a head-start to minimize withdrawal symptoms. Christmas is definitely going to be tough though. :/

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cheesy Cheesecake

Round two, fight!

So...cheesecake? I don't know about you, but for me the word brings up delectable thoughts of creamy goodness. Chocolate, fruit covered or just on its own, cheesecake is an amazing culinary marvel. But apparently some people find it a lousy excuse for a cake. I know more than a few people that really don't like it. Sounds like a challenge indeed. I already knew there were savory cheesecakes, but I've never had one, much less made one.

First, to the research. I dug up several recipes, but ultimately went with Alton Brown's because he's awesome. The problem was, I had had a specific request that it not be fishy. Ok, so fish was out, but I could probably replace those six ounces with just about anything, right? But I didn't have a solid plan. I knew I wanted lots of cheese and some herbs. I started with familiar flavors, things that I use a lot in cooking.

But on a whim, I broke up some left over fresh mozzarella medallions and added them. I am so glad I did! The uniform texture (which is a common complaint I've hear about cheesecake) was broken up by unexpected bubbles of chewy mozzarella. I was nervous at first because it was hard to mix (being mostly cream cheese at the beginning). But fear not, adding the eggs makes it much easier, causing the texture to switch to a more familiar and 'batter-like' consistency. The hardest part was actually waiting for the thing to cook and cool. Six hours? I'm still not sure how we managed to wait it out. But it's worth it. If you have the willpower, I recommend refrigerating it as well. It firms up some and is a lot easier to cut. The flavors also come together more.

The verdict from the test kitchen? Gone. And I had less than half of it (a new record for baked goods). It is very filling, so it can take a while to go through, but it keeps pretty well (but do remember it's dairy). We will definitely be trying another. Apparently soon as I have been strongly suggested to do one for/around Thanksgiving. The current plan for the next one is bacon, mushroom, and peppadew peppers. I would definitely recommend this recipe as a 'starter' that will hopefully inspire you to tailor it to your flavor interests. I hope that if you find a combo you love, you'll share it. :D

Monday, November 15, 2010

Spicy Surprise Cookies

Ok, so how do you make 'not too sweet' cookies that are still fun and exciting? Make them spicy! I started to look around for a recipe to try out. Most 'spicy' cookies involve cinnamon, ground ginger or maybe some cloves. But I wanted real spice. Like 'ow, what is this I've put in my face unexpectedly?' spice.

I finally came across a recipe for Spice Sugar Cookies. Black pepper? Cayenne? Now that's more like it! Being a connoisseur of the chocolate chip cookie (and having the recipe floating about in my head), I started to look over the recipe with a closer eye. Things were looking good until I hit the salt. That seemed like a lot. I figured I should check out the reviews, of which there were two. One loved it, the other...thought it tasted like Playdoh. Hmm. Not exactly what I was going for. So I made a few revisions and here's the finished product.

I love this cookie. So dainty and unassuming. They're dense and not overly sweet, almost like a soft shortbread. Only about halfway through you start to realize that your mouth is starting to burn in a way that should not be connected to cookies. Good thing milk was made for cookiedom and will neutralize that capsaicin (the substance in peppers that sets your mouth on fire). I also thought it could use a bit more flavor, so I tried out a glaze on them too. The review from the test kitchen? Devoured. There seems to be division over the glaze vs. not glazed, so I think next time I'll make half and half. And there will be a next time, oh yes.

NOTE: This was my first experience with fresh ginger. I've used the ground kind several times and while I don't hate it, it's not my favorite. Obviously I didn't have fresh when researching this recipe so I looked up the conversion. Turns out there isn't one; they're totally different flavors. And they are! Fresh ginger packs a sharpness which is marvelous. And it turns out you can freeze it. So I recommend picking up a small nub and throwing it in a sandwich bag in your freezer. I'm looking forward to experimenting with it more.

An Introduction


Welcome to Dough or Donut, There is No Pie. I know it’s a mouthful. And I hope that it will be. It’s my goal to share some delicious adventures on this tiny corner of the mighty internet. I’m hoping there might be a recipe or two on here that gets you inspired to look at cooking a little differently. Maybe you’ll try something new. Maybe you’ll improve what I’ve offered. Maybe you’ll come up with something radically unusual and yummy. Please do! And please feel free to share your own escapades that we can learn from each other.

As for me, I’m just a Texan foodie (and geek, as you may have guessed) that’s been shipped off to California. I’m not classically trained, but I do love food. Probably too much. I especially love baked goods and sweets of every kind. Cookies, cakes, brownies, ice cream, pancakes, breads and tarts, to name the tip of the iceberg. It certainly is a glorious age to have such a culinary love affair. The internet is full of blogs with decadent recipes and luscious photos that will have you practically licking your monitor. Or maybe that’s just me.

I’ll take any excuse to bake. Because sometimes you just need brownies/cookies/fresh bread/all of the above. My problem comes with the eating. Or rather, it doesn’t. It turns out that most of my friends (and those that I live with) don’t particularly like sweets. Wait, what? Don’t get me wrong, they’re normally champs and try something or will have a serving the first day. Unfortunately, that leaves a lot left for me to consume the day after. And the day after that. You see the problem.

So, instead of baking less, I figured I should experiment with the variables to come to the heart of the dilemma. They don’t like sweets. They never said they didn’t like cookies. Hypothesis #1: Make sweets less sweet. And so this blog was born. It’s my goal that here I can share my successes (and numerous failures) in the quest for something unexpected.