For the new kid in the kitchen…

Breakfast

Oh My – Matzo Brei

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I love passover as much as the next Jew, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t craving a giant bowl of pasta and a apple fritter right about now. Aside from stuffing myself full of chocolate and other sweets, I’ve found the only good way to deal with your no-carb cravings is to appease them with Passover-friendly dishes.

One dish in particular that has always been a favorite on mine (although I’ve never attempted to make it until now) is matzo brei. I guess you could call this meal the Passover equivalent of french toast. Traditionally consumed as a breakfast food in most homes, I grew up eating this meal any time of day.

This recipe is as simple as it is delicious. Here’s what you need:

  • 2 Sheets of matzo for every egg you use ( each egg serves about 1)
  • Butter for the pan
  • Splash of milk to lighten

Prep:

  • Break your matzo apart with your hands and soak in a bowl of water for 5 min.
  • In a separate bowl scramble your eggs
  • Strain your matzo then pour eggs over your soggy pieces
  • Add a splash of milk to lighten up the “batter”
  • Melt butter in a frying pan
  • Pour “batter” into the pan, then flatten so that it covers the surface
  • Cook on low for about 10 minutes then flip over and cook another 10 minutes
  • Serve and enjoy!

I always top mine with some sort of sweet item to give it a little more flavor. My personal favorite is maple syrup, although my family prefers to just sprinkle sugar on top.

and P.S. – A little Matzo Rap –> Enjoy!


Grandma’s Apple Pancakes

Let me just start off by saying I have the best grandma ever.

Ok, so you might think I’m exaggerating, but I’m really not! Last time I visited my 90 year old grandma, she was up at 11:30pm dancing around the kitchen and teaching my roommate her favorite swear words.What does this have to do with apple pancakes you may ask? Admittedly, not a whole lot… but I still think it’s worth sharing.

The origins of this recipe are pretty sacred to me. As a kid I would roll out of bed, drawn downstairs by the aroma of buttery, cinnamon and apple pancakes wafting upstairs from the kitchen. My cousins and I would race to the table, fighting over who got the biggest or the most pancakes. I’m not sure why we were so worried, because my grandma always made more than enough for us to have our fill and then some (I think this is an obligation for any Jewish grandparent).

The best thing about this recipe is it’s adaptability. I think my grandma changes up the amounts of each ingredient every time, just sampling the batter until it “tastes right”.

  • 1 1/4cup Matzo Meal: This special ingredient made this the perfect Passover breakfast. But really, they’re good any time of the year.
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt: Feel free to use more or less to make the consistency thicker or thinner.
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 apples: Any variety will do. Grandma just uses whatever is lying around at the time. Leave the skin on but make sure to take the core out.
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Cinnamon:
  • 1/4 cup Butter: for your frying pan (don’t skimp on this or try to use any kind of substitute, this is by far the element that seals the deal for the recipe).

Simply mix these ingredients in your blender until they are mostly smooth, and cook in a frying pan as you would any other type of pancake. For slightly thicker pancakes, you can let the batter sit in the fridge for a bit. My grandma likes to do this the night before, so when she wakes up she’s ready to just start making the pancakes.

And that’s it! You’re done! You may not have my awesome grandma at the end of this, but you will have a batch of her famous apple pancakes. Enjoy!


**Bonus **

Throw some sliced up apples in a pan with a little sugar and let them cook down a bit. Use this is a topping for the pancakes.


Not Just OK PB&J

Pictured above: Banana Bonanza and Breakfast PB & J

Who doesn’t love that classic childhood favorite – the PB & J sandwich. It’s cheap, quick, and easy… all of which are Novice Noms necessities. I’m pretty sure that PB & J made an appearance in my lunchbox at least 4 times a week back when I was in elementary school. As a kid I basically DEMANDED that my PB & J was made using white bread, creamy peanut butter, and grape jelly. If someone had slipped me wheat bread with crunchy peanut butter and raspberry preserves, it would have been game over. No thanks. Take that gourmet creation away!

Now that my taste buds and I are all grown up, isn’t it time to give this simple little sandwich some pizazz? Now I know I’m not the first to
try to spruce up this dynamic duo. A company  named Peanut Butter & Co. has gone as far as to create flavored peanut butter spreads, and even open up a restaurant in NYC that specializes in custom PB & J creations. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve salivated over their menu a number of times. Like most people however, I cant just pick up and go to NYC every time I get a craving for a bite of my childhood.

Not to fear people! There is an easy solution to this. All we need to do it get a little crafty at home, and see if we cant come up with a few of our own delectable creations. With PB & J, just about anything goes, but I want to offer up a few of my favorite variations just to get your brainstorming started.

Just a general tip to keep in mind as you concoct:

  1. Think about both flavor and texture. I love adding a little crunch to my PB & J.
  2. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Peanut butter and Cayenne pepper… why not!
  3. Almost any PB & J sandwich tastes better toasted. I promise.
  4. Try new breads, bagels, English muffins, waffles… etc…

Novice Noms PB &J Variations

  • The Hiker: PB, J, assorted nuts, dried fruit, and m&ms
  • Breakfast PB & J: PB, J, cereal of choice (I prefer raisin bran)
  • Banana Bonanza: PB, banana chips (or regular banana’s for less crunch), cinnamon, oatmeal, and honey
  • PB & J French toast: Traditional PB & J, dunked in eggs and cooked like french toast
  • PB Chocolate Sinner: PB, Nutella, crushed chocolate chip cookies
  • Fall Harvest: PB, thin apple slices, cinnamon
  • Big Bad Breakfast: PB, fried egg, bacon (warning this sandwich is delicious but may instantly clog your arteries)
  • Peanut Butter Joy: PB, Nutella, and coconut flakes
  • Jelly and Schmear : Jelly and cream cheese

That’s all I have for now. Try one of these tasty combos or get out there and star creating your own. Leave a comment and let us know if you come up with any great new ideas! I’d love to hear from you.

Also, just wanted to say a quick thank you to all my readers. We passed 1,000 hits this week! I really appreciate all the support and feedback you guys have given me!

Until next time, enjoy peanut butter and jelly time!


Flipping for Eggs

How to Flip an Egg

I’m sure you’ve all seen the header of this blog, which displays a perfectly ruined egg splattered all over my oven…  Well, for today’s VIDEO POST I’m going back to the roots of this blog, and teaching you guys how to properly flip an egg in a frying pan (without using a spatula).

Not only is this an impressive trick for any beginner chef to know, but also a skill that can be applied to pancake making, stir-fry stirring, and various other cooking endeavors.

So enjoy me looking a bit stupid, and get out there and try this one for yourself!


Outstanding Oatmeal Bars

While I enjoy a good pre-packaged granola bar just as much as anyone else, it should come as no surprise that an easy and delicious alternative is just a few novice steps away…

 

I was sitting and avoiding  school work by watching my routine line-up of public access Saturday cooking shows, when I suddenly felt two overwhelming urges. The need to cook something, and the need for a granola bar. Thus I quickly hopped on Google and looked up a few possible ideas to try. After a little mixing and matching, this oatmeal bar recipe is the fruit of my homework postponing labor. They’re sweet, and chewy, and  better than any bar I’ve ever taken out of a thin foil wrapper.

First step – Grease a baking pan well with either non-stick spray or butter and pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

***Do this first, as your hands will be INCREDIBLY messy later on. ***

In a large bowl combine:

3 1/2 cups oats
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup nuts (although I just used pre-made almond, cashew, and cranberry trail mix for this)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
2/3 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Now mix. I found that using my hands was incredibly messy, but also the easiest way to incorporate everything together.

Pack your oatmealy mess into your baking pan and bake for 20 min (sidenote: the thicker you make your bars, the chewier they will be, and vice versa).

After 20 min, or when the edges  just begin to brown, remove the bars and LET THEM COOL COMPLETELY. This may take up to 4-5 hours in the fridge, but trust me it’s a very important step. Take it from someone who learned first hand, if you try to cut your bars before they have completely congealed you will have a very crumbly oatmeal mess on your hands. With a little patience they will hold their shape much better!

With your quick and easy Outstanding Oatmeal Bars in hand you are now ready to face the world. Even if that just means bracing the Boston winter to find a Starbucks in which to do your homework all afternoon…

 


Shake it Up

So, the Superbowl is over, and we all feel a little guilty about just how much pizza, wings, chips, and dip (hopefully homemade spinach artichoke) we managed to shove in our mouths in a four hour time period. To help ease us out of our bloated, saturated fat, and sodium educed stupors, for this post I turn to the amazingly easy and incredibly versatile health shake.

Now I know we’ve all seen those muscle heads at the gym, guzzling down whey-protein creatine fortified “milk shakes”. This is all good and fine if your goal is squat-press 700lbs in a one-piece singlet, but for the rest of us, there are a lot of better tasting healthy options.

Today’s post is all about giving you choices. I’m simply going to list some ingredients and suggested combos, then it’s up to you to go out and mix and match. Kind of like when you go to your favorite create-you-own burrito store… wait… were trying to be healthy here… sorry, scratch that.

Base

  • Fruit Juice: Not technically a milk shake, more of a smoothie if you opt for this. But good for a sweet and refreshing shake. Just keep in mind, fruit juices contain lots of sugar, so this might not be the best option if you’re trying to keep your drink slim.
  • Yogurt (light or regular): good for a smooth and easily drinkable consistency. Combine with Milk for best results.
  • Greek Yogurt: My personal favorite. Super high in protein, low in fat, and it’s thicker consistency makes for an ideal shake base. Also should be combined with your favorite milk of choice.
  • Ice Cream: Ok, not necessarily healthy. But my god it’s delicious. Also needs milk to create the ideal consistency.

Flavor

  • Fruit: I find frozen is often best here. All the flavor of fresh fruit, but it’s easier to have around the house, and it helps to thicken up the shake.
  • Chocolate syrup: once again, not the healthiest, but if you opt for a little bit and use a fat-free variety, it adds a nice sweet touch.
  • Oatmeal: Ok, this one is weird I know, but with certain flavor combos it can be REALLY delicious, and it helps thicken up the shake well.
  • Peanut Butter: Good for high-protein shakes. Not low in calories, but high in satisfaction.
  • Miscellaneous additions: Cinnamon, cocoa powder, instant coffee, honey, and flavor extracts.

Invisible Helpers

  • It never hurts to add a little protein powder,  fiber powder, or other nutritional supplements into your shake. They become virtually tasteless amidst the other components, and have numerous health benefits.

Ice

  • Add only if really needed for thickening. Usually helps with juice based shakes, but can water down other varieties.

Ok, Now time for some EXAMPLES!

Banana Cream Bliss (as adapted from my favorite local health food restaurant)

  1. 2 cups vanilla soy milk.
  2. 1 banana
  3. 1/2 cup oatmeal
  4. 1 tbsp cinnamon
  5. 1/2 cup peanut butter
  6. 1 tbsp whey protein powder

The Northeastern (named after my cycling instructor roommate who teaches classes at Northeastern and drinks these daily)

  1. 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  2. 1 cup frozen blueberries
  3. 1 cup vanilla almond milk
  4. 1 tbsp Protein powder
  5. A little squirt of honey, if your feeling daring

Tropical Thunder (you should probably drink this with a little umbrella in it..)

  1. 1 cup orange juice
  2. 1/2 cup frozen pineapple
  3. 1/2 banana
  4. 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  5. 1/2 cup of mango or kiwi
  6. A little bit of vanilla yogurt if you so choose

Ok, so now it’s your turn! Go out and get blending. Let me know what works, what doesn’t, and what becomes your newest milk shake obsession.


The fruit isn’t just on the bottom of this one

Light and Fit. Thick and Creamy. Fruit on the Bottom. It seems like every Yogurt company in the nation has joined together in a vicious attempt to transform this once dull snack into a rich dessert experience. Now, in theory I’m all for this. Take a healthy treat, make it taste even better, and all the while maintain its integrity as one of the few satisfying and guilt free snack options. In reality, some of these yogurt concoctions deliver (personally I enjoy light and fit cherry vanilla). Many however, have taken a disgusting turn for the worse. Cinnamon Bun Thick and Creamy Yogurt… did we really think this could live up to its concept? I understand the lure of a ready-made 100 calorie sugary treat, but with a little bit more effort I think we can take this concept to the next level.

And would you know it, it doesn’t even involve stirring up weird over-sugared jelly type gel from the bottom of your container.

Ingredients:

  • Apple
  • Cinnamon
  • Vanilla Yogurt (go light for an even healthier snack)

Now… Chop the apple, and mix with the other two ingredients… THAT’S IT….

Super simple but super yummy. Don’t worry, we’ll step up our level of difficulty next post. But until then. Happy snacking!