Oatcakes with a Protein Punch

Who would have thought adding protein to my snakes would be so good.

So life has had me in full out overload mode for a few weeks so I have been a little behind in my posting. Today I am hoping to catch up with a few over the week.

One of the fun finds I came across was a great recipe for a protein-based, oatmeal version of “pancakes” I wrote about them on my blog post on my Engage blog which had a theme that day about “How A Middle-Aged Workforce Can Keep Up With Millennial Coworkers“. I found this recipe in the  March Issue of  Men’s Health Magazine for Blueberry Oat Pancakes, the primary ingredient is plain oatmeal with added protein. While dense, when whipped up on a Sunday night, cooled and wrapped – they freeze well and I can grab them on my way out the door.

Cold or toasted, maybe with a bit of peanut butter on them, they are a lot better than skipping a meal or grabbing something on the road. I found a similar version here, but the March version as follows is updated more and better tasting.

Since then I have made it a few times and made some additional revisions:

I am sharing my adapted version of the March version below:

  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats (any will do I just happen to use this one)
  • 3 scoops of Vanilla whey protein powder (I use a few versions and mine tend to be lactose-free. I also found that those with “pea” base didn’t lend this a very good aftertaste. A little too “green for me”
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 3 bananas
  • 3 large eggs, plus 6 egg whites (I used the pre-made version from the store for this)
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (I would use more at least a full teaspoon)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Nutmeg (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of All Spice (optional)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil or butter for brushing the cooking surface

To Make: 

  • Using the blender or a Ninja machine; blend together everything but the blueberries and the oil/butter. It will be “batter” like texture.
  • Using a non-stip skillet, brush with coconut oil or butter and ladle about a 1/3 of a cup of batter (this will make about 12 cakes).
  • Cook 2-3 minutes per side.
  • Cool (or eat), package in zip bags and freeze or put them in refrigerator

Note: this is a simple example of how to snack or eat on the go – it’s a flexible batter – so change it up! So while recipe says a serving is 3, I found 1 -2 to be perfect.



Sometimes a recipe just doesn’t work the first time

Let’s face it we all have done it. We’ve made that recipe either from a book or from a friend of a friend or even one we created ourselves and it just doesn’t work out as planned.

Maybe it was because we lost our concentration, the environment, the products. Sometimes we just read it wrong (because you know sometimes, you just don’t put our glasses on) or the notes we have are hard to read.

No matter the reason – the reality is there are a few givens when trying new recipes:

  • Expect to have to make it several times
  • Never plan to use it for a party or unsuspecting guests unless you’ve pre-warned them
  • Take notes as you go, especially when it comes out of the oven and when you taste it. Don’t try to rely on memory
  • And ultimately, don’t take it so hard. For most of us this is just an opportunity for laxation or feeding the people we love their expect us to nail it right every time if we make it too hard on ourselves we lose the fun and passion in the process.

Tonight I had one of mine with an attempt at a chocolate chip version of Irish soda bread. It ended up under cooked, dense and tasting at flour still. A great reminder for me to use my thermometer even with breads again😛). Yeah trying to cover it up with cherry jam didn’t help.

But the outer sides were crunchy and sweet where I wanted it to be. So just means I keep retooling it.

The Power of Home Crafted Vanilla2.0

For You More Creative Types, Make Your Own Vanilla2.0

Yup – that’s right. Well, I goofed this week – I had intended to let had my guest post from Anna go live first, but some of you might have gotten a sneak preview of this one when the “now” feature got clicked. In either case, you can read Anna’s post  “Know Your Extracts: Sniffing out the Best Vanilla for Your Baking” once it goes live late this week, then perhaps you will be inspired to go on to the next step and try making your own version of Vanilla2.0

Vanilla is one of those elements in baking that you either love or don’t. Somewhat like using good quality Tumeric is in cooking. I got started on this road myself after watching some of the baking shows on TV that were using Vanilla Bean Paste which I hadn’t seen before. After visiting the blog Superfoodly.com which had posted a December piece “The Scandal Between Vanilla Bean Paste vs. Vanilla Extract” .and served as a good place to start (I didn’t necessarily agree with everything – they shared some great content on the post).  I started following links, speaking with other folks who do more baking and came across the whole movement of making your own Vanilla Extract.

Several great recipes are available online for making your own home inspired version of vanilla extract. But to make a good quality one, you need time and the right beans. It isn’t something you want to rush. In fact, if you get them started now. They will make great Holiday gifts this season.

Choosing which beans you want to use also takes some research. Areas to take note of include the grade of bean, the type of bean, the age of them and the source ( they can be expensive) and what liquid you intend to use to extract the flavor (a variety of options exist based on flavor or non-alcohol needs).

My next plan

I will be starting a batch in April in fact with ” Tahitian Grade B beans but I also like the Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans (Vanilla Planifolia so may make some comparison batches. A few of the online sites that offer recipes for making your own, including purchasing recommendations include: 

Once you get ready to start making your own here are a few things you will need to have on hand.

If you are like me and tend to be more creative, plan early:

  • You will need the beans; that means deciding on the grade of the bean and the ration of beans to the liquid mix; I saw lots of variations on this from 1 whole vanilla bean for every 2 liquid ounces of alcohol. I think to keep it simple I may start with a 1:1 ratio as in 1 bean to each ounce of liquid (then depending on the jar size might top off)
  • Extracting liquid; lots of options for this the most common include Bourbon, Rum, Brandy, and Vodka. The key factor is the liquid has to be greater than 70% proof
  • Bottles/Jars; You will need to decide if you are making a large batch then decant into smaller ones or just go right to the smaller ones. I think I will be hitting the swap and flea markets for vintage and unusual decanters to use as gifts. One common theme I heard was to avoid clear jars (or keep stored in a dark place) and my preference to stay away from plastics. As a back up I found 4 ounce Amber jars on Amazon that I may order to have on hand for “extra” last minute needs.
  • Labels: start thinking what size you will need and how you plan to label them if you are gifting them

Note: this post has some affiliate links to Amazon





Know Your Extracts: Sniffing out the Best Vanilla for Your Baking

Vanilla extract; the first thing I check on my baking supply list.

So we have another great guest post this week on the power of vanilla from my pal Anna who also wrote the “5 Ways to Taste the Mediterranean Without Actually Going” post. I love sharing BiteTheRoad with folks who want to write and talk about the various passions they have so was grateful she was willing to do this one. Ok, and truth be told it’s one of my favorite flavoring tools! Thanks again Anna!


Know Your Extracts: Sniffing out the Best Vanilla for Your Baking

It’s a question that seems as old as baking itself — chocolate or vanilla?

These two are the most popular cake flavors out there, and making a good chocolate or vanilla cake is critical to any baker’s repertoire. But we’re not here to argue. Whether as a flavor enhancer or the star of the show, vanilla tastes good, smells good, and has been used in all kinds of sweets for hundreds of years.

But did you know that not all vanilla is created equal? While it’s likely not shocking to learn that there are different forms of vanilla you can buy, it might be more surprising to know that some are better than others for certain contexts. This, as well as the overall quality of what you use, can have dramatic effects on what comes out of your oven.

High Quality Vanilla vs Low Quality

Know Your Extracts: Sniffing out the Best Vanilla for Your Baking

In general, “high quality” and “low quality” designations for vanilla are related to the origin and purity of the flavor, as well as alcohol content.

Imitation vanilla, on the other hand, is often made using lab-created vanillin (the flavoring compound found in vanilla). Generally, this vanillin is made as a byproduct of other forms of manufacturing, such as while processing wood pulp. While that might sound concerning, it is still perfectly safe to consume, though typically has a slightly less pronounced vanilla flavor and less alcohol content.

Pure vanilla extract is exactly what it says on the label; pure vanilla extracted from vanilla pods and processed into a liquid by boiling it with ethanol and water. Additionally, it is required by law to contain at least 35% alcohol content and 100 grams of vanilla beans per liter.

Natural vanilla is taken directly from vanilla beans and has the least amount of alcohol at roughly 3% per bottle. It generally has the most pronounced and “pure” vanilla flavor of the three liquids.

Vanilla paste is a compromise between liquid vanilla and straight vanilla beans. It is made from vanilla extract, adding sugar and thickening agents for texture. Most brands also add small quantities of ground vanilla beans to achieve the desired speckling.

Vanilla beans are considered the ultimate for vanilla in flavoring and baked goods. These are the real deal, no alcohol or additives in sight. Just a long dark pod filled with tiny caviar-like “beans” ready to add to any recipe.

When to Use Each Kind of Vanilla

Know Your Extracts: Sniffing out the Best Vanilla for Your Baking

While instinct may say to use vanilla beans for everything, this would not actually be the best use of resources. Imitation is, of course, the cheapest and most affordable, but the more pure and better quality the vanilla, the more it costs:

(Prices based on Cook’s Bulk and Wholesale Vanilla)

  • Non-alcoholic vanilla — $12
  • Pure vanilla extract — $13
  • Vanilla bean paste — $25
  • Vanilla bean pods (3) — $15

Aside from price restrictions and personal preference (for example, imitation vanilla may have a less robust flavor/aroma than vanilla bean pods), any form of vanilla can be used for any type of baking.

That being said, most bakers (and especially social media food personalities) prefer vanilla bean paste and pods for the telltale speckling that they leave in the finished product. This only works for light-colored, vanilla-centric baked goods, however. If you wish to use a high-quality vanilla in a darker product, save some money and use a good vanilla extract.

For bakers who object to using alcoholic vanilla in recipes that don’t involve heat (frostings, creams, sodas, etc.), non-alcoholic vanilla or vanilla bean pods are optimal.

Love vanilla? Try these vanil-licious recipes from Bite The Road:


Be sure to read the next BiteTheRoad.com post on other creative Vanilla ideas later this week












5 Ways to Taste the Mediterranean Without Actually Going

5 Ways to Taste the Mediterranean Without Actually Going

Mediterranean cuisine covers many different countries in the Mediterranean basin. Every region has different influencing flavors in its food, however, there are core flavors that can be tasted throughout the Mediterranean region as a whole. Southern Europe features deep flavors such as the tomato-based flavors of southern Italy or the tangy and savory flavors of Greece with the use of bold cheeses and softening yogurt. In a country such as Morocco, the food is heavily seasoned in perfect blends for full rich flavor.

While some countries may use more or less than others, here are five great ingredients that will bring the Mediterranean into any dish:

Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic vinegar comes from Italy, traditionally made from aged grape must. It has a rich flavor, much more complex than the typical wine vinegar, with hints of sweetness. Balsamic vinegar is not meant to be cooked and is often used as a topper for fresh fruit and grilled meat or fish. Many different types of Balsamic vinegar now exist locally and internationally which is a point of debate in many circles as to what is “real” Balsamic Vinegar. Bon Appetite Magazine does a good job of helping you sort through the various kinds in a 2017 article here.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is used frequently in Mediterranean food because of its abundance in the region. Olive oil is used in cooking but because of its bold flavor, it is often used as a condiment base for dipping bread. Luckily living in the Bay Area I have access to many types of artisanal olive oils including one of my favorites from the DaVero farm and vineyards


Lemon is a flavor that can be found throughout Mediterranean cooking and is often found alongside garlic, cumin, coriander, oregano, and parsley. Lemon is a much-appreciated ingredient because of the compatibility of its citrus tones with common Mediterranean dishes like fish.When you can get freshly picked lemons use them! Two of my recent favorite recipes include ways to preserve them and a “rocken” lemon cake recipe from King Arthur Flour that I think is hands down one of the best Lemon Bundt cakes I have ever had. Best part it translates into two loaf pans nicely as well.

Mediterranean Oregano

Oregano is best known for its uses in Italian cooking, but what not many people know is that there is a difference between Mediterranean oregano and Mexican oregano. Mediterranean oregano features a softer, sweeter, and more minty flavor than its Mexican counterpart, and is used in a variety of Mediterranean spice mixes, from Italian seasoning to Zataar seasoning


Tomatoes are powerful in almost every Mediterranean region’s cooking. It is a flavorful crop that can be kept and presented in many way, tomato paste, tomato purée, etc. It holds a very sultry flavor that can be sweetened or more rustic. A flavor that goes well with pasta, rice, meat, seafood, vegetables and so forth — making it very versatile.

Try It: Savory Yellow Rice with Chicken


  • 11/2 cups Basmati rice
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 21/2 cups chicken broth


  • 4 boneless and skinless chicken thighs cubed (1.3 lbs)
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 11/3 tsp cumin
  • 1/3 tsp coriander
  • 1/3 tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1/3 tsp curry powder
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 11/3 tbsp lemon
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • 21/2 tbsp olive oil
  • Medium onion sliced

Rice directions:

Melt the butter and add the turmeric and cumin. Stir just until fragrant, about a minute. Add the rice, make sure it is well coated and toast in the seasoning for about 4 minutes. Add chicken broth, bring to a boil and then let it simmer for 15 minutes.

Chicken directions:

Mix all the spices along with generous amounts of salt and pepper and 1 tbsp olive oil. Doing this in a bag will make working in the yogurt easier. After it is mixed thoroughly, add the chicken and onions and let sit overnight. Heat the remaining 1.5 tbsp of olive oil, add the chicken until cooked and serve with the yellow rice and tzatziki sauce.


Craving more Mediterranean flavor? Try these from the BitetheRoad archives:




Keepers; one for the journal and planner users

Art? Bookmarks? Keepers?

In December of 2017, I tackled a new art project involving recycling old broken jewelry as pieces of art.  I had seen a similar type of art years ago and it stuck with me – so once I have the image and the right person to give one too I gave it a try when I was gifted with a box of vintage jewelry from a friend.


One of the unanticipated outcomes of the project was the amount of extra material left over, that I still wanted to work with. So with the thought of a furlough hanging over my head and knowing I needed something other than computer time to occupy my mind coupled with not wanting to see it all go to waste or sit in a box.  I looked around and decided to make Bookmark Jewelry for the people who needed a little bling ( and yes I still have some left). But with those in place. It didn’t end…

Now what??

As folks shared the gifted ones, I got some requests for a variation for the journal and planner crowd. They wanted something with bling that would work on notebooks or even that would be suitable to put on tablet cases.

My initial prototype

So I put together some Keepers.  They are designed to be flexible and adjust with a button/loop end so that as you move through the book,  the left side could adapt in tension to hold the pages – allowing you to always open to the current page.

This is the first of the set of Keepers that was done by special request, as a gift. By the weekend I expect to have a bunch of them made for gifting.

It’s likely I will make them available for sale as a donation to some local charitable groups – so to more come on that phase. Who knows – with the tension at work – this might my new stress reduction activity.








Meat Buns Nebraska style

For last week’s Bookclub, I needed a recipe that would be connected to the theme from the book Oh Pioneers by Willa Cather.After searching around a bit – I found several versions of a local version Runza. Similar to other regional “hand-held meat buns”,  such as the spicey one I did in a previous Bookclub. This was version seems to be popular in the books region oNebraskaka with the addition of cabbage to the ground beef and onions. I had some time so I also made a rolled loaf version using pizza dough that mimicked the Cheese Bread recipe I posted about back in November.

Here is my version of the Runza recipe;


  • Frozen Bread Dough (I used the frozen bread dough loaves from Safeway which comes in a three pack. Each loaf, thawed allowed to raise will make 6-7 buns)
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 head of cabbage
  • 1 yellow onion
  • garlic salt/minced or whatever you like for garlic ( I use the Sage, Thyme & lemon seasoned salt I make)
  • 2 TBSP butter.


Step 1

  • Brown ground beef and drain fat, season with salt and pepper ( you can do this in two pans if you like)
  • Add chopped onion, garlic, butter, and chopped cabbage. Cook until wilted (7-10 min) on med-high. Mix with meat if done separately and let cool.
  • Note: You can also brown meat, season, then set aside and in a second pan sauté cabbage, onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper at each step. Then toss together. 

Step 2

  • Follow package instructions for bread dough (or make your own); Let the dough thaw covered and raise for up to 5 hours or as directed on your dough.
  • Cut and Roll into small sections.
  • Preheat oven to 350

Step 3

When ready to make

  • Flatten each section
  • Add ¼ to ½ cup of the cooled beef mixture to rolled out sections of dough. Fold and seal in half/wrap/shape how you wish but gently compress the air out of each bun.
  • Let sit covered with plastic wrap 20 min. (Or freeze them for later)
  • Prior to baking coat with melted, salted butter, oil or an egg wash. Omit butter topping if you want a crisper bun
  • Bake uncovered middle rack for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees.

A few hints;

  • Pizza dough works well too.
  • Mix in small cubes of cheddar cheese in the cooled mix for a different variation.
  • Update: if you have leftover stuffing it makes a great addition to a simple soup. Simmer carrots, veggie or chicken stock, a few bay leaves, parsley, a can or two of drained canned beans and pepper for 50 mins.
  • Then add the meat & cabbage stuffing, ( you can also toss in leftover rice or pasta) simmer on med for another 30 min more. Toss in some halved cherry tomatoes. Serve


Dressing up your coffee table books with book-bling

So with the Crown Mosaic done and wrapped… I realized I still have some pieces that needed to get a new life beyond finding themselves being sold. So I searched around for ideas and found one! I started making a series of “Book Jewelry” bookmarks.

Yup bookmarks, you know those things you used to use before e-readers came along. But these were designed to serve as a functional way to dress up books that often sit unadorned and naked on a coffee table or the bedside table and I supposed if you like a little pizzaz at church they might look good hanging out of the good book some Sunday services.

I first needed to organize myself and figured the best way was to store my cleaned and dried pieces in something better than an old shoebox. So I got myself one of these portable organizers, of course as luck would have it – they only had pink that day – but what the hell did I care I had a coupon and it was 50% off.  I got mine at Micheals, but Amazon has them as well; VonHaus Very Small Utility Tool Storage Box – Portable Arts Crafts Organizer Case with 4 Drawers & Adjustable Dividers (10.9 x 10.1 x 6.9 inches – Black/ Orange) about the same price.

Once I had the pieces cleaned and sorted the same was I did for the Crown Mosaic, I next begin the matching process. I also removed any old threads and looked for creative ways to “gather” them. Think of it as a mental game of visual balance. I didn’t want them all to be too “matchy-matchy” so I sorted and looked for other themes to balance them. I tied several types of ribbons and found I favored the velvet ones in black and grey. I went online and ordered a few kits of crimp ends (often used when making ribbon chokers) in different finishes. they aren’t very expensive and you can like them in local resources as well. In the end, I changed combinations as I went on, and sometimes when I had someone specific in mind. But the idea was to reuse them to catch someone’s eye.to give them as gifts I found some inexpensive slimline journals to “package” them in for mailing (except for the folks who we actually purchased books for.

Of course, I didn’t stop there – so the latest round is being adapted is for journalers and planner users, with a closed design that loops around the cover and pages. 

It kind of makes me happy to see these pieces getting a new life. .. and yea if you have some bits and pieces around your homes, or come across those boxes of them in the attic – send them my way!  several folks about my selling them. I hadn’t planned on it, but it is possible jsut drop me a message via the BitetheRoad Facebook page facebook.com/bitetheroad









What to do with old jewlery that needs a new home? Make a Crown of course!

Yup.. a Crown is what I said.

This was my season of “crafting” between making Meyer Lemon Marmalade, Seasoned Salts for gifts.
So a few people saw the end result of my “call for used and old jewelry” before the holidays. But a few of you asked to see the finished project. But let me step back a moment and explain what started this journey. For many years, each holiday season I would see this version in the window of an old “crim cram” shop each holiday season. If stuck with me and this fall I committed to making one for us. When I started it, it was to make something for us at the house, as luck would have it, a friend had an entire box of old jewelry collected back over several generations that she didn’t want and was glad to hand them over to me. So that began the process of making it real. But as I said, while this was supposed to be for us, it morphed into my deciding to make it as a gift for someone that would also have a timer lights and framed.

Getting started on the “Crown”


I knew I wanted a crown theme and that some crown pins would serve as the foundation pieces. So I went online and looked for stencils. When I found the one I wanted, I printed it to size and then used a sharp nail to outline it on the paper I intended to use as my background.


After doing some checking online on how best to clean them and get rid of some of the “old smell” I opted for washing them in a bath of warm water, a drop of Dawn Dish Soap, Ultra Dishwashing Liquid, Original Scent, Blue, 21.6 Fl Oz (Pack of 2 ),a few drops of tea tree oil and a splash of hydrogen peroxide. I only let them soak for a few minutes, then rinse them in cool clear water and dried them in the sun. The next step took the most time – separating the pieces into three groups; 1) for the mosaic, 2) for other projects and 3) too nice to break apart – hold on too for now.


After selected a background, and once I started the laying out the signature pieces of the mosaic and I realized I needed to choose how I was going to secure the pieces. I opted for Devcon 18245 Weld-It Cement – 1 oz.. It dries clear and stayed tacky long enough for me to move and shift things. I also lucked out with the thin wire lights with a timer that I had around the house – but these would workBRIGHT ZEAL 33′ FT Cool White LED String Lights Battery Operated LED Lights (Silvery Wire, 6hr Timer) – Silver Wire Fairy Lights – LED Christmas Lights – Twinkle Star Firefly Lights LED Battery Lights. Just make sure to determine how many lights you want.

After that:

It was all about adding pieces and textures, stepping away, coming back and filling in spots. It helped to snap photos and look at them that way from time to time as well. Making sure the frame and mat fit and time for gift giving.

 And not worry.. check out this post which will explain what I did with all the leftover pieces!







Planning My 2018 Pleasure Read-Goals Today

Why a yearly Read-Goals list?

With so much to catch up with on posting; this weeks begin the end of the year holiday posts, and a detailing of some of the  recipes that won and failed, treats and projects that I worked on. But for today – to keep it simple. I worked on my 2018 read-goals list. This is the way I balance work, academic and news reading with pleasure stuff.

My Read-Goals for the year:

Frank’s 2018 Book List

books reading read-goals

A few more from the 2017 read-goals list

Working on my 2018 book list this morning while revising a copy of Bookmarks Magazine and decided that this would be the group I would use as my “intentional reads” over the next 12 months in addition to the others that come my way.  You might even notice a theme, in that not all of them are current trending titles since I decided part of the gaol was relooking at some of the older titles I missed when they initially rolled out.  I figure this batch coupled with the one from our book club should give me plenty for the year.