Gingerbread Friends

December 3, 2009

As my dad said while I was baking, “well, it’s just not Christmas without gingerbread, right?” correct sir!

Gingerbread uses my favorite spice, Cinnamon in collaboration with brown sugar, which is just plain awesome. Plus I’ve developed a preference for crunchy and crispy cookies lately, and gingerbread are perfect for that.

I broke out my “Cookies” book by Martha Stewart (which I got as a gift last Christmas, so it’s only fitting!) as I am determined to make as many cookies as I can with that book. I usually find the recipes in this book to be much more challenging, but when I do get them right, they’re great – and this recipe was s really good one. Maybe it’s just that I’ve gotten used to the shaped cookie method of constantly pulling the dough in and out of my freezer from making sugar cookies a few months ago, but this recipe went really simply and fairly quickly for all the labor involved. The cookies came out just right (although the first batch were a little underdone and were still soft and chewy – which is luckily how my mom prefers her cookies).

I took a plate into work and my co-workers and managers loved them! I even impressed the district manager who happened to stop by!
So not only are they delicious – they’re gap approved!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

November 3, 2009

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Frank travels a lot for his job. At least every other week I’m taking him to the airport and occasionally he’ll be gone for weeks at a time. I always mean t o make him snacks to take for when he gets stuck waiting for the plane or working all day without taking a break but the last few times I forgot (I’m a such a bad girlfriend!) but I finally remembered last night and decided just to make some just plain ol’ basic chocolate chip cookies (good thing theres a tv right next to our kitchen so I could bake/listen to the world series at the same time or else I don’t know if he would have gotten any cookies.

So I just use a little variation of the recipe my mom has always used and it goes a little something like this:
My Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 stick of butter, softened
3/4 cp of Brown Sugar
1 egg
1 cp of whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp of baking soda
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp of vanilla
however many chocolate chips make you happy (about 2 small hand fulls for us)

Cream together butter & sugar.
Beat in egg.
add 1/2 cp of the flour and mix until just combined.
add baking soda, cinnamon and salt and mix in.
add rest of flour and vanilla and mix until just combined.
use spatula to mix in chocolate chips.
Chill in fridge at least 10-15 minutes.
bake at 350F until done (I have no idea how long this is…10 minutes maybe?)

The first batch came out how I love – flat and crispy but not over-baked.
I quickly realized that with a full house of people I would need a second batch so I threw together some more batter.

The second batch came out nothing like the first. They were still very good but they held their shape and didn’t flatten out like the other ones. They still had a bit of a crisp to them and tasted good but you would never guess they were made with the same recipe.

IMG_1373The second batch cookies

I was trying to think of why this might be.

I had decided to skip the chilling in the fridge and just bake them right away, could that have been it?
or do you think maybe I might not have measured correctly and there was too much flour in the batter?

anyone know?

Yoga and Vegetable Soup

October 28, 2009

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As I’ve said before I haaate the fall and winter. I don’t do col by any stretch of the imagination. If I had to find something I liked about those two seasons the only thing I could possibly come up with is soup, chilli and a cup of hot tea every morning (and even those aren’t enough to make me run screaming as soon as the temperature drops below 75).

At least one morning a week I spend chopping up vegetables and scouring the house for chicken broth (which was no where to be found today) putting together some sort of random soup. I don’t even use recipes with either my soup or chilli, I just go with the flow. throw in whatever happens to be laying around. Today just happened to be a onion-garlic-celery-potato-carrot-corn-green beans-and chicken tortellini type of day. Deeelish. I try to always have some leftovers in the fridge. On days when I’m eating at home or at the office I usually get a total of absolutely no vegetables and soups and chillis are a tasty way to get those.

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I started doing yoga about a year and a half ago or so. The place where I was staying at the time had a woman come in once a week and give yoga classes. My group of course would act silly and annoy the heck out of our teacher by constantly falling over or breaking out in laughter during her weird “meditation” tapes. But I did manage to develop a love for it. One of my little secrets is that I would love to become a yoga teacher someday. I can’t afford classes right now, but one day…

Green Monster

October 26, 2009

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So I’ve noticed that these “green monsters” are really big on a lot of the more healthy cooking/yoga type blogs I’m always poking around. I’ve been intrigued for a while but didn’t try one until today.

If you don’t know what a Green Monster is, it can vary a lot but almost always has the same few ingredients : Spinach, banana, Peanut butter (or any other nut butter) and some milk. You can always add protein powders or other fruits and such but that’s the basic jist of it.

In mine I had : Spinach, oats, AN Peanut Butter, Banana, Soy Milk, and a few frozen blackberries and a little frozen watermellon

The Verdict

Honestly? it was okay. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t nessasarily good either. It seemed to have a few too many flavors going on all at once.

I think I’ll keep experimenting with them and let ya know if I come up with anything good.

Pumpkin Pie Waffles

October 21, 2009

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Ever since I can remember my two favorite ingredients have been cinnamon and pumpkin, so naturally pumpkin pie has always been a favorite (I have even been known to only scrape the pumpkin innards right off the crust, leaving a nice little empty pie crust). I also love love love waffles. I have them several times a week for breakfast and typically try to make them with my own whole wheat batter (sorry bisquick!) unless it’s a busy morning, in which case I’ll grab an ego (so blah).

SO you can bet that I was beyond excited to find the Pumpkin Pancake Recipe on Frugal Foodie’s blog (did I mention I’m IN LOVE with this blog?! I’m sure you can’t tell being that this is only the second day/blog in a row that I’ve made something using one of her recipes). For some reason my waffle-love does not carry over to pancakes so well…I mean, they’re okay, but I’ll always pick waffles in the end. So I decided to make them into Pumpkin Waffles!

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They were super fluffy and sooo much more delicious then my plain ol’ whole wheat waffles. I had plenty of left over batter so I decided to make the whole batch and freeze ‘em for the week to come – YAY FOR DELICIOUS BREAKFASTS! It’ll be great for thursdays when I have to be out the door by 7:30 am to make it to class on time.

My only change to her great recipe in the future? maybe a little more pumpkin and cinnamon (I have an addition, and will soon need to go to therapy for it – I swear!)

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I’ve been a big fan of Quakers Chewy snack bars for a few years now, always tossing one in my bag for a afternoon snack when I’m at school or work or wherever I find myself. But I have to admit….there’s a few ingredients on the back of those wrappers that I am just not sure what they are. In addition, I’m fairly certain they are made with either butter in making them and like I said in my last post, I’m trying to stay away from dairy as best as I can.

I was super excited give a go at making my own and was super excited to find a great recipe on One Frugal Foodie (who just happens to be the author of Go Dairy Free) for Banana Oat Snack Bars.

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I’m happy to say they are SUPER yummy. They are chewy and perfectly sweet (all without adding any butter or sugar!). I cut them into nice little bars and wrapped em up so they’re all set to be thrown in my bag and chowed down on in the middle of Art History.

They leave me thinking of al the possibilities for these little guys. I will definitely be making more and am already scheming about what kind of flavors I want in the next batch. I’m thinking some pumpkin will be involved and I suppose we’ll see what else!

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Iron Cupcake Earth : Music

October 14, 2009

So, I’ve been a fan of Iron Cupcake for a long time now but I’ve never seemed to get around to actually submitting something for it – but this month I decided to finally try doing SOMETHING for it. The theme this month is music. you just have to pick a song title and build a cupcake around it and I ended up doing Purple Rain by Prince.

Purple Rain

I decided to stick with something simple for my first entry. Just a white cake with blueberry buttercream icing.

The prizes are super duper cool too:

Apparently you can submit up to three so I might try something a little more daring before the month is out. We’ll see.

Once they start the voting I’ll post a link so you all can show me some lovin ;-)

Halloween Sugar Cookies!

October 10, 2009

I hate to say that haloween is probably my favorite holiday since I don’t really think its a holiday since there’s really no meaning behind it besides an excuse for american children to gorge themselves on candy, but it is. I’ve loved to play dress up since I was able to dress myself, my parents will even tell you that I not only had every one of the disney princess costumes, but wore them 24/7 365 days a year, so naturally halloween was always my favorite.

My mom brought be home some halloween inspired sprinkles this past week and I couldn’t help but crank up the oven and throw together a few sugar cookies, using the fabulous sugar cookie recipe from my gorgeous “Martha Stewart Cookies” book I got for christmas last year.

COOKIES!

They turned out pretty good, and pretty darn cute if I do say so myself!

Dark Chocolate Mousse

July 19, 2009

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A few weeks ago my mom was working late and my dad wanted to take some dinner over to her, so I threw together some lemon chicken and zucchini and sent along with it a chocolate mousse I concocted early in the day. Ever since then my mom constantly talks about the mousse and how amazing it is (my brother was in biiig trouble when she found out he ate her leftovers!). So when I found out my mom was making us a nice dinner tonight I decided to throw together a few mousses for dessert.

I make them with all dark chocolate, as I prefer it. I suppose you could make them with a lighter chocolate, but then you couldn’t justify it to yourself that it’s good for you, so why would you do a thing like that?

I had mine with a little vanilla ice cream (I know I shouldn’t, since I have a milk allergy and it upsets my stomach, but I just couldn’t resist!) and some frozen strawberries. It was heavenly and so incredibly easy to make – it would be perfect for a dinner party or family dinner!

You can find this recipe and me on tasty kitchen.

All Five Senses

June 26, 2009

Hey :-) Sorry I’ve been a little MIA recently. This week has been a whirlwind of preparing for the event inspiration next week, covering a few days at the cafe and housesitting for one of my good friends. It’s been so nice staying here again though (I lived here off and on last summer) it’s one of my favorite houses. My friends and her husband have such an eye for decorating and design. The house evokes the feeling that you’re in some grand beach home in Mexico or Puerto Rico. It’s completely open and they chose to go with bold colors like warm yellow, lime green, a cantaloupe orange, bright teal and every other eye catching color you can think of. Their home really deserves to be in a magazine or the newest ikea catalogue (I looooove tagging along with them to their ikea trips – it’s always a blast!). But one of my favorite things is to sit and have breakfast or read a book on their back porch which looks down on their lawn and the trees surrounding the house, I’m not sure there’s many more things more relaxing.

Whenever I stay in their house I always want to cook. The kitchen is so open and beautiful it’s an ideal space to get creative in. The only problem though is that I always come across the same problem that I always do whenever I cook outside my house, and that is that most other people don’t stock their kitchens in the same way I do. Don’t get me wrong – Emily always leaves me plenty to pick from, but I’m used to how I keep my kitchen stocked. At home, we always have a trillion different pastas to choose from (Angel Hair? Penne? Fussili? Linguini? we almost always have all of them and mostly both in white and whole wheat too)  all different types of flour, sugar, every type of spice, several different types of bread at any time and have anything in whole wheat that you can buy in whole wheat, as well as it’s white form as well. I go crazy when I don’t have these things easily accessable, which is why I went grocery shopping almost every time I visited home when I lived in Philly and now a friend who works at the grocery store makes fun of me for being there more than him.

So on my way back from work last night I stopped home and grabbed a few choice items before heading to the house, and got cooking!

Emily always leaves me lots of fruits and veggies ’cause she knows I love love love them! And last night I was determined to engage all of the senses just while making and eating dinner.

Touch:

I really feel like it’s so important to learn to cook, even if it’s just a few things. Being involved tactically with how your food gets from fridge to plate makes the whole process so much more conscious of your eating. Your no longer just taking nuking a tv dinner and vegging out (most likely without the veggies) but are seeing exactly what goes into your food and how it gets to be what it is.

Hearing:

ahh, I love that sizzle from something on the stove or in the oven. It’s interesting to hear the different sounds that come from adding new ingredients to a hot pan. I also love to have music playing while I cook and eat. Last night I turned the Amy Winehouse way up and (very off-pitch) sang along :-)

Smell:

This is pretty obvious. Some thing have just absolutely great smells, but one thing some people that don’t cook for themselves realize is how much more intense and amazing those smells are when they first hit a pan or pot. When I threw the garlic into the pan with the sugar snap peas last night I could have died happy (I’m a bon-a-fide garlic-aholic).

Vision:

I think presenting you’re food well (even if you are just cooking for yourself) can make a big difference. Also, using ingredients that are visually stimulating (like bright summer vegetables and maybe a little feta cheese, hmm?) can completely change something from a boring bowl of pasta to something that looks fun to eat.

Taste:

I really believe that taste should be your last sense that’s engaged. I feel like I really taste food better when I’ve already gone through these other senses because I don’t want to just rush through my meal anymore – I want to savor it since I took the time to think about it any prepare it.

So even though this was an insanely simple and easy dish to make that any person with a few pans could make, I really enjoyed it and I was glad I had talked myself out of just having some Ego’s (yes…the waffles lol). It was just a simple whole weat pasta that I put with some sauteed sugar snap peas and cherry tomatoes with a little garlic, oregano and parsley and topped with a bit or feta cheese. The great thing about feta is that you really don’t need to add any table salt to the dish when you use it because it’s so naturally salty.

Alright well I’m gunna try to get a lot of sleep tonight because I have an insanely busy week ahead of me! hopefully I’ll have photos from the Inspiration up by the end of next week!

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