Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oatmeal Squares

Chocolate. Peanut butter. Combined.

Some do not enjoy this amazing flavor interplay.

I cannot fathom why.

While I was waiting for the oven to preheat, I made a chocolate chip design on top of these yet-to-be-cut squares. I’m easily entertained.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oatmeal Squares

Recipe almost completely unchanged from How Sweet Eats

makes 16 squares (originally 9; but really, you’ll probably eat the same amount regardless. I just like small things)

1/2 cup brown sugar

3/4 cups natural creamy peanut butter

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup old fashioned oats

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup regular milk or soy/nut milk

1/3 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Cream the peanut butter and sugar until fluffy using an electric mixer, then stir in vanilla.

Add in flour, oats, salt and baking soda directly into the peanut butter mixture, on medium speed. It will look very crumbly. Add milk with the mixer on low speed, and mix until a dough forms. Fold in chocolate chips.

Make sure dough is completely combined, and roll it into a ball with your hands. Place it in the middle of an 8×8 baking dish, pressing it to fit. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until set and golden on top. Let cool completely, then cut into 16 or 9 squares.

These were delicious. Even though I have no idea how long they actually baked for because I went upstairs into my room with the door shut and the air conditioner on (longer than 18 minutes at least) and my parents somehow didn’t hear the oven timer beep. They were deliciously crunchy, still moist inside, peanut buttery, and full of texture from the oats. Moral of this story: it’s okay to let them bake a bit longer than normal.

Oatmeal, peanut butter. Then, there’s the chocolate. All together in a dense, crunchy, chewy bar formation that can be enjoyed for dessert… and breakfast the next day. UNGH these were amazing. Paired with some ice cream… it’s like that cake and ice cream combination. Personally, to make these really over the top, I would add a pinch of cinnamon. Just because I really like cinnamon. And cinnamon + chocolate + peanut butter = WIN.

Aloo Gobi Mattar (Cauliflower, Pea and Potato Curry) and Garam Masala

I tried Indian food in the city, and it was so delicious I had to try to make it at home. I had aloo gobi, which is potatoes and cauliflower and ginger all cooked up in a steaming hot vat of onion and spices.

So I found a recipe for aloo gobi mattar, which is basically the same thing except with the addition of peas. I mean, why not? Add some color, extra vitamins…

It was good! Not quite the same as what I had from Tadka Indian Cuisine on East 53rd but delicious in its own homemade way.

Aloo Gobi Mattar

Adapted from this recipe

4 tablespoons of olive oil

2 large onions, chopped into 1/2 inch chunks

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

5 cloves minced garlic

2 tablespoons peeled, minced ginger

2 teaspoons turmeric

1 tablespoon garam masala (recipe follows)

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin

3 medium baking potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2 -3/4 inch chunks

8 oz vegetable stock

1 head cauliflower, cut into bite sized florets

2 tablespoons peeled, grated ginger + juice

juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 cup frozen peas

Heat oil in a large wok. Add onion and cumin seeds and cook until onions are translucent and soft. Add garlic and minced ginger.  Sauté for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add all of the remaining spices and salt. Stir well.

Add potato and stir until the potatoes are covered in oil and spices. Turn heat down to medium and sauté potato for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add vegetable stock, cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add cauliflower, grated ginger and lemon juice, stir, and cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add frozen peas, stir, cover & simmer 10 minutes.

Turn off heat and let rest for 10 minutes. Add some salt if desired to taste.

Garam Masala

Adapted from this recipe

2 tablespoons cumin seeds

2 tablespoons coriander seeds

2 tablespoons cardamom seeds

2 tablespoons black peppercorns

1 (3-inch) stick cinnamon, broken up

1 teaspoon whole cloves

1 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon saffron (optional)

Put the cumin, coriander, cardamom, peppercorns, cinnamon, and cloves in a dry heavy skillet over medium-high heat (careful if it’s a hot burner; lower the heat to medium or medium-low if so). Toast the spices, stirring occasionally, until they turn several shades darker and give off a sweet smoky aroma, about 10 minutes. Do not raise the heat to quicken the process, or the spices will brown prematurely, leaving the insides undercooked. Cool completely.

Working in batches if necessary, transfer the mixture to a spice mill or coffee grinder and grind to a powder. Stir in the nutmeg and saffron. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Yield: Makes about 1/2 cup

This was pretty delicious, considering I didn’t have all of the ingredients in the original recipe (such as cilantro, fenugreek seeds, fresh ginger) and was constantly comparing it with the aloo gobi from Tadka. I also have a confession — I used the remains of a very old jar of minced ginger. If I had used fresh ginger, it probably would have been a lot more flavorful. I made a double recipe of the above, meaning 10 cloves of garlic total, and couldn’t taste it at all. Also, it was a little bit too brothy for me–I was hoping for a thicker sauce. Note: it is thicker and better the next day!

The recipe needs some tweaks. I think next time I might roast the cauliflower, leave the skins on the potato, use fresh ginger, and maybe use a store-bought garam masala (I couldn’t find cardamom and I think I burnt the seeds and cinnamon stick while toasting).

Paired with some freshly toasted na’an, this was a filling and yummy meal. I would make it again with the above tweaks.

Also, I think I am addicted to na’an. Or just carbs in general. I am finding carbs in all forms delicious lately.

Coffee Banana Ice Cream

The tumbler glass says it all. I am happy happy happy when eating Starbucks Iced Coffee Via flavored banana ice cream.

Especially when topped with oodles of whipped cream and a sprinkling of cocoa dust.

Coffee Banana Ice Cream

Lots (4-5) of super ripe banana, frozen in chunks

2-4 tablespoons of unsweetened Silk soymilk

1 Starbucks VIA Iced Coffee packet

Food process the bananas until silky smooth (add Silk to hasten the process and also to give a light and fluffy texture) like frozen yogurt. Add in Starbucks VIA (1/2-1 packet, flavor intensity to your liking) and process until mixed thoroughly. Spoon out into bowls, cups, tumblers, or the like and dress up with some whipped cream, cocoa powder… or crumbles of chocolate covered pretzels, which was the garnish the first time I tried making this.

Yum.

The Starbucks VIA gives an overall crunchy texture to the banana ice cream at first until it dissolves completely. It is sweetened, so there is really no need to add any sugar or other sweetener to this. Oh, it is so good. If you like coffee ice cream… this will hit the spot. A sprinkle of chocolate-covered espresso beans on top (or IN) the ice cream would add a delicious crunch and more chocolate… what’s not to love?

Grilled Asparagus & Grape Tomatoes with Bleu Cheese Salad

At my local grocery store, I found a recipe card. It was perfect. Love asparagus, tomatoes, bleu cheese, balsamic vinegar. Plus, what summer is complete without grilling at least once? Even though I grilled via stovetop, I think it counts.

Pictured above is my versatile plate that can feature antipasto, dessert, or as is appropriate for this, salad! I got it at the Salvation Army during a Brooklyn thrift shop/farmer’s market adventure this past summer.

Grilled Asparagus & Tomatoes with Bleu Cheese Salad

Adapted from a recipe card I found in Shop Rite

1 pound asparagus, washed and woody ends broken off

1 cup grape tomatoes

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup – 1/2 cup crumbled bleu cheese

1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon dried basil (or 1 tablespoon fresh!)

Preheat the grill pan to medium (300°-350°F) — just get it hot; I didn’t take its temperature.

Thread the tomatoes onto kebab skewers… I used 5 skewers total but I also probably used more than just a cup of tomatoes. Brush with a light layer of olive oil.

Place the skewered tomatoes onto the grill pan and let cook for 5 minutes, turn occasionally. Take off the grill and put into a medium sized bowl.

Brush the asparagus with some olive oil. Grill the asparagus. Because I used a pan, no need to skewer. Use tongs to turn them occasionally (another 5 minutes). Let them get charred; yum!

Cut up into 2″ sized pieces, and then combine with the tomatoes, along with the bleu cheese, red onion, garlic, vinegar, and basil. Toss with the tongs. Serve.

AHH this was so good. The grilling really brings out a good flavor on the asparagus and tomatoes. The bleu cheese mixes with the balsamic vinegar and creates a creamy dressing as the salad is combined together, which when bit into, gives a huge tangy zing of flavor that’s sweetened by the balsamic. So delicious!

Restaurant: Nobu

Spontaneous 2+ hour lunch breaks are awesome.

Especially when you go to Nobu, the “world’s most recognized Japanese restaurant” and eat a delicious 3 course meal (105 Hudson St., NY). My friend and I ate here for Restaurant Week.

The Squid Pasta with a Light Garlic Sauce. I tasted a mushroom off of her plate; it was so smooth and tender, and the garlic sauce wasn’t too strong and just perfect. (Unfortunately, on a return trip, this appetizer was no longer being offered.)

I got the Sashimi Salad with Matsuhisa Dressing. The tuna steaks were seared on the outside but lovely and raw on the inside, super delicious. However, the dressing was extremely salty–it appeared to be made of finely chopped onions and handfuls of sea salt. I must have downed 4 glassfuls of water during this course.

My friend (and the next time, I) got the Assorted Sushi entree. We weren’t sure of the type of fish it came with other than the salmon, tuna, and shrimp. The sushi was super delicious and fun to eat; that little bamboo leaf was a cute and simple touch. Also, got to eat salmon roe, mah favee. The rice was cooked really nicely and it was just a super yummy meal.

I got the Arctic Char with Crispy Baby Spinach. This was AH-MAZING. It tastes like a very light, flaky salmon. I loved the crispy spinach and slices of garlic; they added a nice subtle crunch to the fish. When I came back, my friend got this but wasn’t as thrilled; he said it tasted too “fishy”, wasn’t a fan of the orange zest flavor in the sauce, and that it was too raw for his liking inside. However, I quite enjoyed it.

For dessert was a very strange but yummy tiramisu/profiterole concoction. I wished they had served mochi ice cream or something a bit more Japanese/Asian than this, but it was tasty nonetheless. The chocolate on top was crunchy and cocoa powdery and it was fun to dig into the cream puffs.

Nobu was definitely a good choice for Restaurant Week lunch, at least in my opinion. The atmosphere inside is interesting; a bamboo stick room divider makes you feel like you’re in a forest. Try to get a seat by the window to feel more involved with the world; or, if you’re feeling antisocial, a seat in the back can be good. The regular menu is very expensive, but it all looked really good and interesting. I wouldn’t come back for RW this year (seeing as I have done so twice already) but I would to sample their regular menu (if I suddenly won the lottery or something).

-Update-

On a second trip, I tried a different appetizer — a miso-glazed (I think) black cod lettuce taco with shaved radish salad. It was quite delicious… a nice sweet/crunchy combination.

Goat Cheese Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

The one on the right was a "special" one... but equally delicious.

“I want these: [link to recipe]” – a post left by AT, a fellow summer internship friend on my Facebook wall.

Goat cheese stuffed zucchini flowers?

I’m game.

We took a trip to the Union Square Saturday Farmer’s Market to pick up our high quality ingredients… because cooking with produce/goods you just bought at a farmer’s market the very same day is a pleasure I do not often experience.

The best part?

We got our zucchini flowers… for free! They had just gotten a little wet, and so were apparently unfit to sell; we gladly took them off their hands. We got about 23 zucchini flowers with which to experiment, fresh chives, and two flavors of goat cheese: plain and garlic. YUM.

Then, we set to work.

Goat Cheese Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

Adapted from this recipe

1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
12 ounces of light ale beer
8 oz goat cheese
2 tablespoons chopped chives
salt and pepper
16-17 zucchini flowers
olive oil for frying

Rinse the zucchini flowers with cold water gently. Pat and let air dry on some paper towels.

Combine flour and salt in a small bowl and whisk in the beer. It will be gloopy and that’s okay. Put in the fridge while you prepare the zucchini flowers.

Combine the goat cheese and chopped chives in a small bowl, try to get an even-ish consistency. Add some salt and pepper to taste but it’s probably not necessary; the cheese is tangy enough. Ball up about a tablespoon’s worth of the mixture in your hand and then, very gently, stuff your zucchini flower.

Heat some oil in a saucepan until pretty hot; throw in a little sprig of zucchini flower remnant into the pan to test the temperature. If it starts to sizzle and bubble, you’re probably good to go.

Dip the stuffed flower into the beer batter and cover completely. Drop it into the oil and let it fry/cook for about 90 seconds per side; judge by browness. Basically, it’s going to be delicious unless you just leave the stove and let it fry until it’s black.

Continue frying the remaining flowers, one to three at a time or however many you feel comfortable dealing with. Let them drain on a paper towel. Let cool slightly but serve very quickly; they are best fresh out of the frying pan.

These were so good! Surprisingly, we enjoyed the plain goat cheese more than the garlic flavored one, but both were delicious. Tangy, creamy goat cheese, crispy beer-batter-goodness… And in retrospect, actually very easy to make! The batter coating was a lot thicker than that of the original recipe; we kind of skipped the “blot-extra-batter-off-on-a-dishtowel-before-frying” step… but this did not detract from the finished product in any way.

And zucchini flowers are definitely a vegetable.

Cooking is such a fun adventure. Especially when done with friends.  Shoutouts to everyone who helped put this together: ETS who let us use her apartment + kitchen things and for being of age to purchase the beer, MK for holding the plate of zucchini flowers and being very helpful in general, and AT for the initial idea and her enthusiasm. Yay! Thanks so much guys! You’re awesome!