Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Crazy Monkey Droppings

Practise makes perfect.  And boy, did I practise a lot to get this next recipe just right.  
A week ago, I came across an interesting recipe for chocolate chip oatmeal cookies made with quinoa, hemp seeds and bananas. The healthy ingredients -- and the fact that I had all of them in my pantry -- made the recipe appealing to me. I even made a double batch thinking they'd be a big hit with my gang.
Quinoa cookie experiment, a.k.a. the Paper Weights
I proudly served the banana-chocolate chip-cookie concoction. Two of my three kids took a bite and politely placed the dense lumps back on the plate.  When I served them to a group of friends, I received a polite, "no thank you. I'm too full for another one." In other words, "Where can I spit out that last bite?"   

It was back to the drawing board with my mixing bowls. I tried a few variations and finally came up with this version. The taste  reminds me of a banana split; the banana flavour is unmistakable. The extra ripe bananas act as the glue that holds together all the ingredients. 
I often stock up on $1 bags of over-ripe bananas from my local grocer. The fruit freezes really well, but make sure you peel the bananas first.
After the first batch of paper weights, I had to give the successful batch a good name.  Hope you enjoy my Crazy Monkey Droppings. 

Quinoa Cookie Experiment #2: Crazy Monkey Droppings
These chocolate-almond-banana cookies are free of gluten and sugar. The natural sweetness comes entirely from the bananas. 
I throw in some chia seeds and ground flax seeds. These optional ingredients boost the nutritional value.

Crazy Monkey Droppings
1 cup cooked quinoa 
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
3 overripe bananas
1 Tablespoon ground flax seeds 
1 Tablespoon chia seeds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper. 
Puree the bananas and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.
Scoop out a tablespoon of batter and drop on to the cookie sheet. 
Bake for 25 minutes. 
Yields 22 cookies.
Try them for breakfast with yogurt on the side
For a more sophisticated cookie with a kick, add 2 ounces of melted dark chocolate and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Make the cookies much smaller. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Coconut Shake & Bake

On Mother's Day, I got to spend some quality time with another fantastic mom, my sister Tina.  We both share a love for food and eating. When we were MUCH younger, we had a Saturday night bond and binge ritual. We would devour a pan of Sara Lee chocolate fudge cake, then wash it down with a one-litre container of Baskin-Robbins Rocky Road ice cream. We shared our teenaged dreams and woes over sugar and fat.

We had a chance to relive that ritual Saturday night. This time, we skipped the ice cream and cake for
spicy calamari and a grilled chicken caesar salad. Tina told me that she found the recipes in AK's Kitchen waaaay too foreign and healthy for her gang, especially her eldest son who gravitates towards chicken nuggets and cheese.

Tina and Tyler, this recipe is for you. It is a variation of chicken nuggets, without the grease. The "breading" is made of grated coconut and slivered almonds, so it's 100% gluten free. Serve it as an appetiser or main, and dunk into your favourite dipping sauce. I have a few suggestions below.  

Coconut Shake & Bake 
Coconut Shake & Bake
Chicken parts (I budget 3-4 skinless drumsticks/ thighs per person)
3 TBSP vegetable oil
1 cup unsweetened grated coconut
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 TBSP garlic powder
pinch salt & pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 teaspoon paprika 

1) Prepare the chicken:
I use boneless, skinless thighs. Pat the pieces dry with a paper towel. Toss the chicken into a bowl with the vegetable oil.
2) Make the "breading":
Combine the remaining ingredients into a large zip lock bag.
3) Shake the chicken:
Place the chicken, 3 pieces at a time, into the bag and shake until each piece is well coated.
4) Bake uncovered at 375 for about 30 - 45 minutes.     
Serves 6 - 8 as a main course.  

In the picture above, I used almond flour in place of slivered almonds. Slivered almonds will give you more crunch.
Dip This
Soy Hoisin Dunking Sauce: Mix equal parts hoisin sauce and soya + a teaspoon of lemon juice.
Maple Mustard: Mix 1 part maple syrup/honey with 2 parts mustard.
Maple Mustard dunking sauce
If all else fails, ketchup to the rescue.