Sunday, December 9, 2012

Back in the saddle

It's been a long time since I've blogged any recipes. I have the normal excuses (work, school, planning a wedding). I always seem to have the hardest time keeping up with blogging so I apologize. I would like to get into it again because even though I haven't been blogging I have definitely been cooking! The holiday season is kicking into high gear which has prompted me to make cookies. I made these lemony gems yesterday. They came out perfectly at around 9 minutes for the smaller cookies and 10 minutes for the slightly larger ones I seemed to make for my last few dozen. This recipe yielded a lot of cookies and luckily Nate took some to his football buddies today. They are quite addictive and honestly compared to some cookies they are relatively healthy. Today I decided I would bake two more recipes. The first one required only a few ingredients with one of them being Nutella which I absolutely love.


First I mixed 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder and 1 teaspoon of baking powder.



I began by creaming together one stick on unsalted butter and one cup of sugar. I was able to speed up the process of softening the butter by putting in the microwave for 10 seconds. I would say about 7 seconds would have been optimal but it worked just the same. Just make sure you don't melt your butter, you just want it nice and soft.


Next up I added one teaspoon of vanilla and 1/3 cup of Nutella and mixed. I was highly tempted to lick the beaters at this point but I refrained. 

Next I alternately added in half of my flour mixture and half of a 1/3 cup of  milk.  The dough was very sticky and messy to mix. It needed to sit in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to stiffen up a bit. I think I need to register for one of those Kitchenaid stand mixers!




After the dough was nice and chilled, I rolled approximately1 inch size balls. The dough was easier to work with then I expected. After I filled a cookie sheet I gently ground some sea salt over the tops. The recipe calls for course salt but adjusting the grinder was not working for me!


After they were nicely dusted with some salt, I pushed each one down gently. They went into a 325 degree preheated oven for 10-12 minutes. 


After I checked on my first batch they were not cooking enough. I decided to increase the temperature to 350 for another few minutes. This worked much better. The remaining cookies baked at 350 degrees for 11 minutes. I cooled them for a few minutes on their pans before transferring to racks to cool completely. 
My verdict: delicious! These cookies are not super sweet and that's probably because of the unsweetened cocoa powder and that little bit of salt to balance everything out. They were super easy to make too which is always a bonus.  PS I did register for a stand mixer, in red :) 
Here is a link to the recipe: Nutella Cookies

After I do some more laundry and clean up I'm hoping to make some thumbprint cookies!








Monday, September 3, 2012

Quinoa for breakfast?

Happy Labor Day! It's rainy outside and it looks like it's going to be dreary all day. I found a recipe yesterday that used quinoa for breakfast kind of in an oatmeal way. I probably didn't even know what quinoa was until a few years ago and I've cooked it a few different ways since discovering it. I actually made quinoa style burgers not too long ago and they were pretty good. So my plan for this morning was to make Coconut Milk Breakfast Quinoa with a few changes!

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I purchased some organic quinoa last night. The recipe was for 2 so I just cut it in half. I needed 1/4 cup of quinoa rinsed.

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I added 1/2 cup light organic coconut milk, 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, a pinch of salt and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. I brought everything to a boil then covered and reduced to a simmer. It sat quietly bubbling away for 15 minutes.

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The recipe called for bananas but I decided to add blueberries instead. Bananas are going to be used in dinner so hopefully more on that one later :) I just gave these a quick rinse while the quinoa was cooking. 

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I added one stevia packet and drizzled a little more coconut milk on top. This was breakfast was ok to good. I still prefer oatmeal and I think I'll stick to using quinoa for savory dishes. Enjoy your day!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Blueberry Muffins

It's a pretty dreary Sunday afternoon around here which makes me want to bake! I think baking might be my favorite type of cooking mostly because when I bake it typically involves something sweet. I decided on some blueberry muffins today and found a recipe that sounded good on Sparkrecipes. I don't know how many of you are familiar with this site but there are tons of healthy recipes for just about anything you could imagine. The recipe I chose does use oil, regular flour and sugar however these muffins are still relatively healthy compared to some others out there. So here is it...Blueberry Muffins!


1 cup of rinsed blueberries. You could also use frozen just make sure they are unsweetened if you do. 


The recipe said to spray cooking spray in a muffin tin however my experience with that is not very good. I chose to line with cupcake papers instead. 


Here you have 1 3/4 cup flour, 2 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/3 cup of sugar. I used a little bit less sugar and just didn't fill up my measuring cup the whole way. 


1 egg lightly beaten, 1/2 cup of 1% milk (recipes calls for skim but I only ever use 1%) and 1/4 cup oil. This was mixed separately in a small bowl. 


Wet mixed into dry. Stir in the blueberries last and do this gently. You don't want to crush them.


I don't know why but every time a recipe says it will make 12 (be it muffins or cupcakes) I always end up with less. I was able to fill 8. I sprinkled a very little bit sugar on top of each one before putting them in the oven. They cooked for 19 minutes in a 400 degree oven. 


Success! Not to toot my own horn but these muffins came out perfectly lightly browned and risen! Sometimes when I bake things I don't get the height I should and I even surprised myself with these. I wanted to eat one but they needed to a cook for a few minutes before being taken out of the pan. 


There is one muffin missing on this plate because it was cooling separately so Nate and I could eat it! But seriously, don't these look good?  They tasted good too! The only problem being that the paper was sticking. I'm hoping that's because it was just still pretty warm when we ate it. Steak salads up for dinner tonight! 



Monday, August 27, 2012

Scallops and Roasted Vegetables with a Beurre Blanc Sauce

I can't believe the day is winding down already. I feel like today flew by! I thought tonight was a salad that Nate had suggested however it was not. It was a scallops and vegetables recipe kicked up a little with a beurre blanc sauce. Nate and I cooked together on this one and it was basically broken down into three easy steps: roast vegetables, make sauce and cook scallops. 

Here are the main veggies: zucchini, red onion, grape tomatoes, garlic and an orange pepper ended up roasted in the oven at the very high temperature of 500 degrees tossed in some olive oil. The pepper, zucchini and onion went in first for 3 minutes and then the tomatoes and garlic went in for another 5. The shallots were for the sauce.


One of the main ingredients in the beurre blanc was the white wine. This wasn't quite dry but it's what we had on hand so that's what we used, about 1/2 cup.


Relatively uniform pieces for the oven!


While the veggies were roasting away, I combined the wine and the chopped shallots.FYI shallots are a pain to peel! I brought this to a boil and it cooked for 5-6 minutes until it was reduced to about 2 tablespoons. The liquid was strained and the shallots were discarded. The infused reduced shallot wine was returned to the pot.


Giant scallops searing with a little bit of salt and pepper in olive oil.

I added small pieces of chilled butter into the sauce little by little while whisking to emulsify. I grated in about 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest and added a little salt. Sauce complete!


Veggies done too, nice and tender.


I had three giant scallops topped with veggies and the sauce. A basil leaf for a final touch since I  didn't feel like chopping it up! 
Overall a pretty tasty meal! I would definitely try this again. I'm a fan of scallops however I'm glad Nate cooked them because I find they can be easy to overcook! Enjoy your monday night. 

Monday Morning Decedence

Another week begins and this Monday I'm feeling a little sleepy. I woke up thinking about pancakes and was hoping to find a ricotta nutella pancake recipe. Luckily I did find one however when I went to grab my ricotta realized it was not quite good anymore! I followed the recipe and omitted the ricotta and doubled the amount of nutella. I apologize for not taking pictures along the way however I did take one when they were all finished. (here is the recipe: Ricotta Nutella Pancakes)

I cut the recipe in half and still had more batter left! I couldn't even eat this portion. I topped them off with a little sugar free syrup, banana slices and some chopped pecans. I was a little disappointment with the texture. They were not as light and part of that is because instead of only egg white I just mixed in one whole egg. Also they were missing the ricotta which really makes a big difference. I think Nate and I are making a fun salad tonight for dinner so hopefully I'll be posting about that later. I have some school work that will probably take up a good portion of the rest of my day. Have a great monday!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bananas and Buckwheat


Good tuesday morning! I had a difficult time getting back to sleep after waking up really early so I've decided to take the day off  and reschedule what I can for later this week. Fingers crossed that works! Anyway, it's a bit cool this morning and that prompted me to want to eat something warm. I'm a big fan of this whipped banana oatmeal recipe and have made it numerous times. I decided to put my own spin on it and make it with buckwheat cereal which has been in my cabinet for a little while now. 

Bob's Red Mill Creamy Buckwheat cereal, 1 small banana and some Bear Naked Fit Vanilla and Almond Granola.. I absolutely love this granola! I remember learning that some granola is not that healthy because of too much fat and sugar which I had never realized before. This is definitely a healthier brand! I also like mixing it in with cereal or yogurt. 


1/4 cup cereal with 3/4 cup water. Due to my sleepy brain, I didn't follow the directions. 1. The water is supposed to be boiling first before the cereal is added. 2. The whipped banana oatmeal calls for water and milk! 




This is after a few minutes when it came to a boil. I gave it a good stir.


I added in about 1/2 sliced banana, a heavy splash of milk and 1 stevia packet. I mixed again and set the timer for 3 minutes. After time was up, I added another splash of milk and stirred again. Timer set for another 4 minutes!


So after about 10 minutes (start to finish) this is the final product. This is before yummy additions.


Granola, flax seed and a very small amount of my current obsession Nutella! I wasn't able to eat this whole bowl, it was pretty filling. I will say I think I'll stick to oatmeal for this recipe. The consistency of this cereal is much different than oatmeal. Still not a bad way to start the day. 



Monday, August 20, 2012

Pork chops I actually liked

So in my efforts to continue to try things I traditionally don't like, dinner tonight was pork chops. I'm not a huge fan of pork in general except for bacon. I eat ham here and there as well as pork tenderloin but that's about it. Thanks to Cooking Light magazine, I found a recipe for pork chops that sounded remotely good. Nate and I cooked it together and it was relatively quick and easy.


The recipe called for some frozen pearl onions so they needed to be defrosted first. Once they were ready I patted them dry with some paper towels to get rid of any excess moisture. 


They sauteed in a pan with about a tsp of olive oil for 3 minutes. (The recipe said 2 but they weren't ready). Once they were lightly browned I added 1 sliced apple. The entire pan went into a 400 degree preheated about for about 12 minutes. 


Beautiful center cut pork chops! They barely fit into the pan. They cooked in a little olive oil for about 5 minutes per side. 


While everything was cooking, I made a quick vinaigrette for our side dish of haricot verts. Just a fancy name for green beans really. This included olive oil, cider vinegar, salt, pepper and grainy mustard. 


These chops obtained a great brown color!! Oh I forgot to mention they were seasoned with salt and pepper on both sides which helped achieve a nice little crust. 


Once the onion and apple mixture came out of the oven, a tsp of butter and a tsp of fresh thyme were both added. 


The chops were removed and rested while the sauce was made. I had a mixture of chicken broth and flour combined in a bowl. I dumped that into the hot pan, added a little butter and a little cider vinegar. This created a nice pan sauce by scraping up the browned bits of pork flavor.


Finished plate. The green beans were just tossed in the vinaigrette before being plated. I was really surprised at how much I liked this recipe. There was not a lot of fat on the chop and the minimal use of butter and oil kept it flavorful but still healthy. Even if you think you're not a pork chop fan, I suggest trying out this recipe. It may change your mind!

Pork Chops with Roasted Apples and Onions with Haricots Verts and Mustard Vinaigrette
(this recipe serves 4 but Nate and I cut it in half when we made it)
2 1/2 tsps canola oil divided (we used olive since that's what we had)
1 1/2 cups frozen pearled onions, thawed
1 tbsp butter, divided
2 tsps fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
4 (6 ounce) bone-in center-cut pork loin chop (about 1/2 inch thick)
1/2 cup fat free lower-sodium chicken broth
1/2 tsp all purpose flour
1 tsp cider vinegar

1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon of oil to pan; swirl to coat. Pat onions dry with a paper towel. Add onions to pan; cook 2 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring once. Add apple to pan;place in oven. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or until onions and apple are tender. Stir in 2 teaspoons butter, thyme, salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
3. Heat a large skilled over medium-high heat. Sprinkle pork with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add pork to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until desired doneness. Remove pork from pan, keep warm. Combine broth and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add broth mixture to pan;bring to boil, scraping pan to loosed browned bits. Cook 1 minute or until reduced to 1/4 cup. Stir in vinegar and remaining 1 teaspoon of butter. Serve sauce with pork and apple mixture. 

For Haricots Verts and Mustard Vinaigrette

Cook 2 (8 ounce) packages microwavable-in-a-bag fresh haricots verts according to package directions. Combine 1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon stone ground mustard, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Add beans, toss well to coat.

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Recently started a cooking blog and hoping to stick with it and blog consistently. I love cooking and trying new things. I've recently been cooking more healthy which can sometimes present as a challenge. I'm a graduate student working on my dissertation and I'm getting married in a little over 8 months!