Sunday, March 31, 2013

it's all about balance

happy weekend! for those of you who celebrate easter, happy easter! the sisters were home for my bday celebration. so lots of food fun were of course required. found this image of easter bunny rolls on pinterest and s4 jumped right on it! 
the actual execution of bunnies was a bit more challenging than anticipated. haha. sort of alien-esque bunnies.
birthday lunch included fish tacos- cod double breaded w/ garlic, black pepper and salt, topped with pico de gallo, cabbage, guacamole, hot sauce and lobster dip (the tacos needed a chipotle sauce and i had gotten the lobster dip packet from the vermont country store, delicious, let me say). 
i had a hard time choosing a bday cake, and wanted to test out this recipe, so bday left perfect excuse not to get questioned about ingredients i buy :) this is a french silk pie from here, one of the many random recipes i've found probably while browsing at work. i love the vitamix we got for M for xmas/bday. so nice to be putting good use to it. this pie is delicious, so smooth and creamy, just like chocolate mousse. highly recommend!

French Silk Pie (serves 8-10)
13 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup boiling water
2 tsp instant coffee
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 12.3 ounce package silken tofu, drain out water
1 T maple syrup, grade B
1 9 inch prepared chocolate crust or homemade
fruit (optional)
whipped topping (optional)

Make the coffee with the water. Melt the chocolate chips with the coffee and vanilla in a metal bowl over simmering bowl or in a double boiler. Stir frequently until completely melted. Add the tofu, chocolate mixture, and maple syrup to a food processor or blender. Process until smooth and pour into the chocolate crust. Refrigerate for 2 hours and top with fruit or whipped topping.

As a thank you gift to my sister's friend, this is the other end of the spectrum of sweets. this is thin mint gooey cake bars from picky palate. made a couple changes due to laziness in buying ingredients, but also b/c couldn't find the andes mints! still trying to figure out where they are in the grocery store...these are definitely decadent and little bits go a long way. 
Thin Mint Gooey Cake Bars (9 x 9 pan, makes 16 squares)
1 yellow cake box mix
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
1 can condensed milk
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
About 1 1/2 sleeves of thin mints, half of them crushed (leave 6 whole)

Combine cake mix, butter and egg. It helps to do it by hand. Press half the dough onto the bottom of the well sprayed pan. Sprinkle the chocolate chips and drizzle 1/3 of the condensed milk on the layer. Press the remaining dough as a second layer and sprinkle the crushed cookies on top. Lay the whole cookies on top (however you want to fashion it) and pour the remaining condensed milk on top. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes (this is really thick dough so it needs a long time to bake) or until the top has become golden and crispy. 

also made smittenkitchen's thick, chewy oatmeal raisin cookies. they all got wrapped up and/or eaten before a picture could be taken. but they are really tasty. the thick, chewy part definitely comes out better baked on parchment paper rather than on silpat.

Monday, March 18, 2013

egg hunting is easier

but this is much prettier i will admit. i call this the bronze egg. a step up from egg dyeing unless you do something like this and then, yeah, yours can be put my pretty to shame. 

as a kid i loved dyeing eggs. we didn't do anything crazy, just dumped hard boiled eggs in cups of food coloring with some vinegar. the best was eating a egg that was slightly green or blue! 

these babies are a bit more intense, but you can have lots of fun, and for those of you who are really into pottery painting and such, this is right up your alley (you don't even want to know how many hours i can spend painting one item at a pottery painting store... 
supplies you'll need: raw egg(s), needle, toothpicks, tweezers, glue, and an assortment of beads (i love this great bead holder i've had for years from crafts plus. any crafts plus stores still out there? i miss the one that was in walking distance of my house!) the first thing you want to do (and maybe the night before) is hollow out the eggs. there are great instructions here. i highly suggest using a needle thicker than mine b/c i ended up puncturing myself quite a few times. i used the toothpick to widen my holes b/c it's lung workout to blow the egg out. where's a saxophone player when you need a set of lungs?? i would let these babies dry out overnight b/c i had some water peeing out as i tried to decorate. 
some more of my pretty beads. if you have sequins or anything tiny and light i say go for it!

creating my bronze egg: i would say decorating took about 4 hours, most of that b/c i found out the hard way that a particular way of placing the beads (where the hole didn't face outward) was much heavier and tended to tilt so drying each section with the egg on the side a la top right picture was the only way to get the beads stay in position w/o droopage. i was definitely making up the design as i went, but there's tons of ideas online and you can spell stuff or make shapes. it's perfect for the creative side in you! 

for my bronze egg i did skinny side down (bad idea) b/c the smaller hole ended up on top, and the balance got thrown off, so make the egg bottom heavy. you can also see my little glue plate in some of the pictures. it takes some time to pick the beads up w/ the tweezers and not pop the bead across the room. then you want to dip the bead lightly in the glue (too much glue and the bead will just slideeeee down your egg) and stick it on your egg. i had to wipe my tweezers on my hand a lot as i got a lot of glue stuck on the tips. please excuse the difference in lighting. i was decorating in the middle of the night and my kitchen lighting isn't all that great. the completed pictures i took during the day with nice natural lighting.

this egg was definitely kind of like those people who can't stop getting plastic surgery and then take it one too far. but it was fun trying to make different flower shapes. i wish for this egg i had dyed the entire egg first and then decorated. would be much more whimsical and less white background.

s4 came home and i badgered her into decorating the last egg i had hollowed out. isn't it pretty! and it has an adorable heart on top. she probably took maybe an hour to do this one (including drying time) so it doesn't have to be super labor intensive. plus, she glued her beads on hole side outward so they didn't droop and slide down as much. now just have to make them egg holders and figure out what to do with them. although they would make a lovely centerpiece for the table:)

happy decorating! and happy spring break to those on it (esp w/ snow, in march, in maryland?!?!)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

quick meals!

let's be honest, sometimes hunger and time get in the way of making a balanced meal, which can, after the chips and chocolate are inhaled, lead to more eating, looking for that meal you were craving. i'm as much guilty of this as the next person, and just because i'm a dietetics major doesn't mean all my meals are colorful and balanced. sometimes i'm hovering over the kitchen island table tearing a bagel into pieces and swiping it into the cream cheese (b/c of course, getting a knife and even toasting my bagel is out of the question).

since this month is NNM it's a nice reminder that there's always room for improvement in your diet. here's some quick ideas:

i love eggs- hard boiled, over easy, fried, poached, you name it, i'll eat it. this breakfast literally takes minutes (less if you have two skillets going, one for the veggies and one for the egg). since we keep our bread in the freezer, i popped a slice in the toaster and started sauteing an onion in some oil and then added the kale (or spinach or whichever leafy green vegetable you have a liking for) until everything was nice and wilted. top on your toast then fry up your egg and lay it on top. wha-la! oh, and the oozing yolk over the veggies is the best ever. eum. can i have breakfast again?

 it's always fun having a day off during the week to do some experimental cooking. i can't remember where i got this idea but i'll get you the link to the original soon (i made my blog with my old hotmail account and now can't access both my gmail and my blog at the same time, any ideas?).

this entire meal took me under 30 minutes start to finish (after a whirlwind grocery stop at costco). and the great thing is that it can be spiced and topped with ingredients to your liking (want a more asian flare- go ahead and saute and add tamari and ginger, etc and top with bean sprouts and slivered carrots, etc.)

Cauliflower Rice Southwestern Lunch
(serves 3)

1 head cauliflower
1 onion, diced
1 T garlic*
2 tsp black pepper*
1 tsp paprika*
1/2 tsp cumin*
1/2 tsp red chili pepper flakes*
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 avocado, sliced
1/2 c diced tomatoes (or salsa if you have it on hand)
hot sauce*
1/4 c Plain or Greek yogurt
sprigs of cilantro

Rinse cauliflower and cut into smaller florets to fit into your food processor. Food process the cauliflower (I had to do it in two batches) til it's the size of rice (but not mushy). Sauté onion and garlic in oil until caramelized in a large skillet. Add the "rice" cauliflower and spices until cooked. Plate a third of the cauliflower for each person. Top with beans, avocado slices, salsa or tomato and yogurt. Sprinkle with cilantro and/or hot sauce.

*All spicing is to taste or optional.

happy experimenting, try something new this weekend!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

snow days are the best

so there isn't really any snow accumulation, but i still got out of school, work, and teaching. sometimes false snow days are the best- if only to catch up on assignments and have a great excuse to bake!

who says you can't make box cake mix healthier?
at what point is a muffin a cupcake or a cupcake a muffin? in my mind it's just a line between "healthy" and not so healthy. then again, I've made muffins with chocolate chips so am I only calling it a muffin because I used oats? and there was also that time i made a cake with a can of soda just to see how it would turn out...but let's not go back to those days.

Carrot cake
(makes 24 "muffins" muffcakes)

1 box spice cake mix
3 eggs
1.5 c finely shredded carrots
3/4 c raisins, golden or regular
1/2 c chopped walnuts
1 c water
Oil spray (for muffin tin)

Line or spray two muffin tins. Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix all ingredients until combined. Scoop 1/4 c into each muffin tin and bake 15-20 minutes or until it presses back lightly when touched (or use the toothpick method).

*This would probably also taste great with toasted coconut added in. If you want it to be more cupcakey, I would suggest adding the oil recommended on the back of the cake mix box, but I like my cakes nice and fluffy and wanted to get my good fats from the walnuts instead of oil. if you want it to be more on the cupcake side, a cream cheese based frosting sprinkled with chopped walnuts would be absolutely delish! i also think putting in a small can of crushed pineapple in place of the water would make this really moist and tasty.

it's decided, they're now known as muffcakes. 

in case you needed some motivation or ideas for dinner- nothing like taking the random veggies from your fridge and making a stir fry. and the smell of onions sauteing is probably one of the best smells in cooking. don't you agree?

Saturday, March 2, 2013


it's national nutrition month- eat right, your way, every day. not sure what exactly that means, but i'm thinking this is full of nutritious goodness, makes me happy, it's just the "every day" that trips me up. but it's all a work in progress. 

it's another exam week so stress baking/cooking as i "study."
i can't remember how i stumbled on this recipe, probably one day at work killing time before closing. i do like delish's slideshows they have whenever i visit msn. but this recipe is super easy and quick and can really be fiddled with to your hearts content- "your way." if you look at the original recipe and then mine, i made several modifications (for instance i made mine gluten free, but then killed that w/ the bread), go ahead, have some fun!

Tuna Burgers
(serves 5)
Adapted from Delish

2 cans (5oz) chunk light tuna, not drained
1/2 T chia seeds
1/4 c plus 1 T corn meal
1/4 c plain yogurt
1/2 c finely chopped carrots (I used 3 fat baby carrots)
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning, divided
EVOO (for cooking)

Garlic "aioli"
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4-1/2 tsp mashed garlic
1/4 tsp EVOO

5 whole-wheat hamburger buns, toasted
5 lettuce leaves
5 slices tomato
1 avocado, sliced
5 slices pepper jack cheese
Slices of onion

Soak tuna (with water) in chia seeds for 15 minutes until the seeds become more gelatinous and the liquid is gone. *I'm really only testing this out, if you don't have chia seeds, drain the water and go forth! Add in the other burger ingredients until combined and mixed evenly. Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, make 5 generous sized scoops and shape into 3" burgers. Heat up a skillet with olive oil and cook burgers about 2 minutes on both sides.  Toast the buns and spread aioli sauce on top and bottom. Layer vegetables and cheese and top with a tuna burger. 

the chips pictured above are from this company. they are cholesterol free, no GMOs, gluten free and peanut free. they are made with a combination of beans, potatoes and rice flour (among other ingredients). i like the texture but it tasted sweeter than i was used to. it might be that it only has 125 mg of sodium per serving. but not bad. they have baked fries and cheese puffs as well which would be fun to try out.

i think black bean brownies has become my staple stress baking go-to. and finally got a shot of them from the bottom! it's so easy to make (i even managed to make it by mashing the beans w/ a fork b/c no one else in the house was awake at 4 and the vitamix would not be very nice) and even if i have a couple pieces i won't feel bad b/c it is so good for you! i tried decreasing the sugar and chocolate chips and increasing the amount of bananas. will let you know how it tastes (waiting until dinner for this goodness).

happy eating, try new things and have fun with recipes :)