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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sweet Onion Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

I've been on a major citrus kick lately, buying a large bag of oranges at the grocery store each week and plowing my way through them. Throughout my high school years I drank a lot of calcium-fortified orange juice, and I think I got burnt out on the flavor. Lately I have completely rediscovered my love for the juicy fruit. I don't know if oranges this season are exceptionally good or if I'm still remembering just how nasty the oranges in the college dining hall were.

When I came across this salad recipe on my Whole Foods app, I was intrigued and knew I had to try it. After coming home from a vacation full of heavy eating, I was ready for some lighter meals and this seemed to fit in that category. I planned to top the salad with grilled chicken breast, but discovered we were without. However, I think that would be a yummy, protein-filled addition to make this a more substantial meal!

I've posted the original Whole Foods recipe below, which serves 6. A few notes, however, based on what I did differently (besides adjusting the quantities to serve the two of us):
-My store was without butter lettuce so I used all spinach--it was still great this way!
-The dressing was good but needed salt & pepper; add to taste
-To make the dressing, I just juiced an orange, rather than trying to "catch the juices" while cutting the orange


One Year Ago: Mixed Citrus Greens Salad


Sweet Onion Salad with Orange Vinaigrette
adapted from Whole Foods Market
*serves 6

Ingredients:
-1 large head butter lettuce, chopped into pieces
-2 cups baby spinach
-1 sweet yellow onion (1/8 of it finely chopped, the rest thinly sliced)
-3 apples, cored and diced
-3 large oranges
-2 tbsp white wine vinegar
-2 tsp Dijon mustard
-2 tsp honey
-1/3 cup canola oil
-2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
-4 pieces of pita bread, cut into wedges and toasted

Directions:
1. Place lettuce, spinach, sliced onions, and apples into a large bowl, tossing together. Set aside.
2. Peel oranges and, working over a bowl to catch juices, cut between the membranes to remove oranges in sections. Reserve juice in bowl and transfer orange sections to bowl with spinach.
3. In the bowl with the orange juice, add finely chopped onions, vinegar, mustard, and honey, whisking together. Continue to whisk constantly and add oil in a steady stream until blended.
4. Toss salad with dressing and top with sesame seeds. Serve immediately with toasted pita bread.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have a confession. I'm maybe, kind of, sort of warming up to the idea of coffee. Me, the girl who swore she would never be a fan of the bitter beverage. Sure, I was willing to enjoy it in ice cream, but lately I've enjoyed a cup of it on occasion. I still load it up with sugar and cream, and I don't have any intention of making it a daily occurrence (the caffeine affects me WAY too much!), but I'm starting to appreciate the flavor more than I used to.

Beer, on the other hand? Still not ever planning to acquire that taste!

Back to the coffee...these mocha chocolate chip cookies are given their flavor thanks to instant coffee. I used instant Starbucks Via packets (the french vanilla flavor!), but you could use any kind of instant coffee you have on hand. These cookies got mixed reactions; a few people didn't care for them, but others absolutely loved them. The texture is thin and crispy, with a little bit of chew, so puffy-cookie fans might not enjoy. Be aware that the coffee flavor intensifies as the days go on!

Back tomorrow with a healthier recipe! :)

One Year Ago: Black Bean Burgers with Mango Salsa

Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Lovin' From the Oven

Ingredients:
-2 cups flour
-3 tbsp instant coffee powder (this is 2 packets of Starbucks Via)
-1 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp salt
-2 sticks butter, at room temperature
-1/2 cup granulated sugar
-1 cup brown sugar
-2 large eggs
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-2 cups chocolate chips (I used a mixture of mini and regular sized)

Directions:
1. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, coffee, and baking soda. Set aside.
2. Beat butter in a mixing bowl until light. Add sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract until blended.
3. With mixer speed on low, add flour mixture, blending just until incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips.
4. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill in fridge for at least 1 hour.
5. Preheat to 350F. Drop tablespoons of dough onto baking sheets, with at least 2 inches between each cookie (cookies will spread!). Bake for 9-11 minutes. Cool sheets for 5 minutes before transferring cookies to wire rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Homemade Tagalongs

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After such great success with the homemade samoas, I couldn't wait to try another homemade version of a girl scout cookie. We've actually since received our cookie order, which included tagalongs. The purchased box sat hidden in our pantry (out of sight, out of mind, right?) and instead of digging into those, I just went and made an entire batch of the homemade version. So much for staying away I guess!

The homemade version is rather similar to what you'll find in the red box; the shortbread is slightly softer and richer, a good thing, in my opinion. My cookies were a little light on the peanut butter. Next time, I'll add a much thicker swab of peanut butter to the top of each cookie. Clearly, mine were not as neatly covered in chocolate, but I think they deserve some points for authenticity! I started out dipping each cookie using tongs, but it proved to be much faster and easier (though also much messier!) to just use my fingers to dip each one. I started to run out of almond bark and could only dip the tops and sides of some of the cookies, which is why the picture above shows some shortbread peeking through. I only had half of a package of bark on hand so you may want to melt some extra if you want yours fully covered.

These were popular with everyone I shared them with. Who doesn't love tagalongs (or, as I grew up calling them, a peanut butter patties!)?! I'm on a Girl Scout cookie roll here! Any suggestions as to which cookie to try next? I'm thinking thin mints...



Homemade Tagalongs
from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen

Ingredients:
-2 cold sticks salted butter (I used unsalted)
-2 1/2 cups flour
-1/2 cup sugar
-1 large egg
-1/2 cup peanut butter
-chocolate almond bark

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 300F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl or the bowl of a food processor, mix flour and sugar. Cut in butter until ingredients are well combined. Mix in an egg (if you cut the butter in by hand, use a hand mixer to beat the egg, otherwise you can do this step in the food processor) until a soft dough forms.
3. Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Lay on prepared baking sheets, one inch apart from each other. Flatten (1/8-1/4 inch thickness) using a glass dipped in flour. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until cookie edges are golden (mine took 20 minutes and still didn't look golden but I removed them at that time).
4. Cool cookies on a wire rack. Once cool, spread peanut butter on top of each cookie. Melt chocolate according to directions and dip each cookie--peanut butter side down--until covered in chocolate. Place cookies, right side up, on wax paper to harden. Place baking sheets in refrigerator to harden more quickly if desired.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Marbled Black and White Banana Loaf

It wasn't until after I made this that I realized it wasn't the first time I'd made a marbled banana cake before. However, instead of a bundt, this was in loaf-cake form and had a more equal ratio of "black" and "white" batter. Much like the carrot spice muffins, this was another win from Dorie's book! This cake is moist, so moist in fact that the bottom layer fell off when I tried to remove it from the pan (pretty sure that was a result of my impatience to let it cool!). The flavor between chocolate and banana is balanced, with the two complementing, not battling, each other. With the ingredient list as is, this is more of a dessert than a breakfast bread...but that didn't stop us from enjoying slices in the morning!


One Year Ago: Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies


Marbled Black and White Banana Loaf
adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours
*for 1 8 x 4 inch loaf


Ingredients:
-1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (I used half whole wheat and half all-purpose)
-1 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-2 ripe bananas, peeled
-1 tbsp dark rum (optional)
-3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
-1 stick plus 2 tbsp (10 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
-2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
-1/3 cup sugar
-4 large eggs
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1/2 cup whole milk

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325F. Butter and flour a loaf pan and place the pan on an insulated baking sheet (or 2 regular baking sheets stacked on top of each other) (I completed forgot to follow this step and it turned out fine).
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3. In a separate small bowl, mash bananas with rum.
4. Melt chocolate and 2 tbsp butter in the microwave, stirring to combine. Beat remaining stick of butter until creamy. Add sugars and continue to beat until light and smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. beat in vanilla. (note: batter will look curdled).
5. With mixer speed on low, add half of flour mixture, blending just until incorporated. Add milk, mixing, and then add remaining flour mixture. Mix in mashed banana mixture (note: batter will be lumpy).
6. Add a little less than half the batter to the bowl with melted chocolate, stirring to combine. Drop alternating spoonfuls of each batter into prepared pan, swirling batters together with a knife.
7. Bake for 1 hour and 10-20 minutes, until inserted knife comes out clean. If, after 30 minutes, cake is browning, cover loosely with foil and continue to bake.
8. Cool cake on a cooling rake for 15 minutes before removing from pan. Allow to cool completely.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Edamame Succotash

First of all, thank you SO much for all of your kind comments and compliments yesterday on both our exciting move and the blog redesign! I'm really loving the new look and like I said, will be tweaking it as time goes on to further improve the experience for readers (such as a "printable recipe" button...coming soon!)

ANYWAYS...I've spent the last, oh, six months or so dreaming of summer. Cold weather and I are not friends. If I'm being honest, I'm typically a little crabbier and quicker to complain during the long winter months. This isn't something I'm proud of and it's something I'll work on...maybe next winter ;) It's around this time of year that I really need a change of pace or, more specifically, a change of weather. Thankfully, we've wisely started taking vacations in March, which helps squash my complaints for at least a little while. But what if you can't take a vacation? How do you deal then?

In my opinion, we have to force winter out, especially on weekends like this one when it SNOWED in St. Louis. While cold temperatures may still linger, I'm going to pretend like they aren't. I tested my theory by making this edamame succotash. Published in August, it's clearly a summer recipe, ideal for an outdoor barbecue with friends. Granted, I made some sacrifices by making it in this weird transitory season of winter to spring. Rather than fresh corn and fresh basil, I opted for frozen corn and dried basil. These substitutions did not detract from the bright freshness of this salad. If I closed my eyes while taking a bite, I could almost feel the warm sun on my back and smell the cheeseburgers on the grill.

Whether you make this now, in an attempt to convince yourself that winter is behind us, or you wait until warmer months, I think you will find this dish rather wonderful. If you're not a vegetarian, don't omit the bacon. Bacon does wonderful things to food, even in small quantities!


One Year Ago: Chinese Chicken Salad


Edamame Succotash
From Cooking Light August 2010


Ingredients:
-1 slice center-cut bacon
-1 tbsp butter
-2 cups chopped sweet onion
-2 cups fresh corn kernals (I substituted frozen corn)
-1 (16 oz.) bag frozen, shelled edamame, thawed
-2 tbsp red wine vinegar
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
-1/2 tsp sugar
-3 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
-1 red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped (I also added 1/2 yellow bell pepper)
-3 tbsp torn basil (I substituted dried basil)

Directions:
1. Cook bacon in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, until crisp. Remove bacon but keep drippings in pan. When bacon cools, coarsely chop and set aside.
2. Increase heat to medium-high and melt butter. Add onion, sauteing for three minutes. Add corn and cook for an additional three minutes. Add thawed edamame and saute for three minutes.
3. Stir in red wine vinegar. Add salt, pepper, sugar, tomatoes, and bell pepper, cooking for 30 seconds and stirring occasionally.
4. Remove from heat. Mix in bacon and basil, tossing well. Can be eaten warm, at room temperature, or cold. (Store in refrigerator if not eating immediately)

This content was originally posted on Honest Cooking in my featured column "Cooking the Magazines".

Saturday, March 26, 2011

No Bake Banana Split Pie

Surprise! I've got two announcements for you today. First of all, welcome to my new blog design! I've been working with the fabulous Ashley for quite some time now to make this blog a better place to visit. While there was nothing wrong with the previous site, I was ready for a new design and wanted to make the blog more user-friendly. So what's new, aside from the color scheme, header, and all that fun stuff?

First of all, you'll find some buttons at the time. Contacting me is a whole lot easier now--just fill out the form under the contact tab. Recipes are much easier to sort through as well, thanks to a new recipe page! I finally got around to writing an about me page and restaurant reviews, both in STL and on our vacations, can be found in one spot.

As if that wasn't enough, check out the buttons in the left column...I've created a Facebook page to keep readers up to date when a new post goes up (please "like" me so I don't feel too lame ;)). There are also buttons for twitter and subscribing to my feed via feedburner or email.

Like I said, lots of changes around here...but for the best, I think! We'll still be working out a few minor glitches in the days to come so hit me up with any feedback if you see something that doesn't work or looks funny!

And now about that other change...I've been holding out on you, readers. I've hinted at our crazy lives here and there, which isn't out of the norm for Ryan and I, but I failed to tell you one piece of news that's kept us extra busy lately. We're moving. We're staying in the St. Louis area, but leaving the duplex that we've loved for the past few years and making our way to a single family home. We leave with bittersweet feelings; this will always be the place we began our lives together and I will forever have fond memories of it. It's the place where I learned to love the kitchen and Ryan can attest to the fact that I have made many, many messes in this kitchen :)

In a few short days, though, we'll be moving on to bigger and better things. A bigger kitchen, for one, which you can probably imagine is what I'm most excited about! (Messes will still be made with their usual regularity!) Bear with me, if meals seem simple and posts seem short and sweet; moving is no easy task!

This banana split pie was part of the "clean out the kitchen" challenge I've been taking on for the past month or so. The less that is in our house, the less we have to move. With that in mind, I've been trying to use up little scraps of things I have laying around. As you can see, this cake was a fitting vehicle for such a task! I've had whipped topping (aka cool whip) sitting in my freezer for way too many months now. That and about a dozen half-bags of baking chips and candy. This dessert ended up being creatively decorated: chopped snickers bars, m&ms, chocolate sauce, sprinkles, and maraschino cherries. I loved the end product--it looked like a celebration (which is why I couldn't stop taking pictures of it. So fun!!). Fitting, I suppose!

Lucky for us and the friends we shared it with, it tasted as good as it looked. I'm not sure if banana split pie is the absolute best title for this, although I see where it comes from. It's certainly easier to say than "no bake buttercream layered dessert with bananas, pineapples, candy, and a graham cracker crust". Regardless of what you decide to call it, it's a fun dessert--nice when you don't want to use your oven and fun to decorate!


One Year Ago: Moroccan Carrot Sandwiches


No Bake Banana Split Pie
adapted from Natalie's Killer Cuisine

Ingredients:
-2 cups graham cracker crumbs
-1 stick butter, melted
-2 sticks butter, room temperature
-2 cups powdered sugar
-2 eggs (if you're worried about raw eggs, buy pasteurized!)
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1can of diced pineapple
-2-3 bananas, thinly sliced
-1 container whipped topping (note: if you want a thick layer, you'll need 2 containers. I just covered up bare spots with extra toppings!)
topping ideas: chocolate sauce, maraschino cherries, sprinkles, chopped up candy bars, m&ms

Directions:
1. Mix graham cracker crumbs and melted butter until crumbs are completely moistened. Press into the bottom of a greased 9 x 13 dish.
2. In a large bowl and with an electric mixer, beat butter and powdered sugar until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla extract, beating for at least 6 minutes, until mixture is thick and smooth. Spread buttercream mixture over the graham cracker crust.
3. Top buttercream mixture with sliced bananas and diced pineapple pieces. Spread whipped topping over fruit. Top/decorate as desired and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight.


This post is linked to Eat at Home.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Broiled Tilapia Gyros

A few weeks ago I was contacted by the editor of Honest Cooking, a brand new international online cooking magazine.  Much to my surprise, Kalle was emailing to invite me to be one of their featured bloggers. Needless to say, I was flattered...I am flattered. The bloggers contributing to the site are talented and it's fun to be working alongside such a neat group of people. For now, I'll be writing a weekly post for the site called "Cooking the Magazines" which is, in short, a prompt for me to stop letting my magazine subscriptions pile up under the coffee table and instead start using them as they're intended--for recipes! 

While my "Cooking the Magazines" posts will be found on Honest Cooking's site, I'll also be posting them on The Sweets Life for you to read as well. Take some time to peruse Honest Cooking though, as there is an abundance of great food-related content found there!

Without further ado, my first Cooking the Magazines post: Broiled Tilapia Gyros...

I consider myself a bit of a hoarder when it comes to magazines. Never one to pass up a good deal on a subscription, it's to the point where I now find myself receiving a magazine in the mail several times a week. Oftentimes, I haven't finished reading one month's issue before the next month arrives. Many of these magazines are food-related, or at least include a number of recipes in each issue. Most of the time, I rip out pages of recipes but fail to actually create the recipe in my kitchen. Not anymore! Join me as I cook the magazines!


I was immediately drawn to Cooking Light's recipe for Broiled Tilapia Gyros. Although gyros are one of my favorite guilty pleasure foods, I rarely indulge in them because the heavy meal leaves me feeling weighed down and greasy. Eager to try this  lighter version, I picked up the ingredients and added it to our weekly meal plan.


I must say, I found this recipe both fast and easy. The majority of the preparation involves chopping the sandwich toppings and assembling the dish. Start to finish, it took no more than half an hour...ideal for busy weeknights!

The tzatziki sauce is fabulous; I found myself eating the leftovers with a spoon! I substituted dried dill for fresh and still found the sauce incredibly fresh-tasting. Feel free to use frozen tilapia filets, just make sure they are thawed before you broil them! The fish, though quite different than your typical gyro filling, works nicely with the various sandwich toppings. I loved the nontraditional inclusion of avocado slices. Our favorite gyro places always tops theirs with feta cheese, which would also work in these.

I loved this typically-heavy-turned-light take on gyros! It's perfect when you crave a gyro but want a healthier version!


One Year Ago: Portabella Pita Pizzas

Broiled Tilapia Gyros
adapted from Cooking Light, November 2010


Ingredients:
for the fish-
-4 tilapia filets
-1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
-1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
-1/4 tsp salt
-cooking spray

for the tzatziki-
-3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
-2 tsp chopped fresh dill
-1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
-1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
-1/4 tsp salt
-2 garlic cloves, minced

for the sandwiches-
-4 whole-wheat pita pockets
-1/2 cup vertically sliced red onion
-1 ripe avocado, peeled and sliced
-1 medium tomato, thinly sliced
-1/2 small cucumber, thinly sliced

Directions:
1. Preheat broiler. Brush fish with oil and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp pepper and 1/4 tsp salt. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray and place fish on pan. Broil for 6 minutes or until fish flakes easily.
2. In a small bowl (or food processor) mix tzatziki ingredients until smooth.
3. Stuff each pita pocket with fish, tzatzki, onion slices, avocado slices, tomato slices, and cucumber slices. Serve immediately.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Vacation Eats: Charleston Part II and Asheville

Picking up where I left off, we enjoyed plenty more foods in Charleston and then again in Asheville...

Charleston Part II




Josephs: Kara suggested we check this place out, after raving about the sweet potato pancakes she recently enjoyed on her honeymoon. An extreme pancake-lover, I was not about to miss these! Though I could never manage such a dessert-like breakfast on a daily basis (yes, even me), these were perfect for vacation. Thick and topped with honey pecan butter, these babies didn’t even need syrup! Ryan, Mike, and Maggie all stuck to savory dishes, all very satisfying at this local, non-touristy breakfast stop.

Kaminsky’s Desserts: Vacation isn’t vacation unless you eat ice cream one day in place of a regular meal. After three hours of kayaking, we treated ourselves to some decadence…I’m still salivating over the memories! All of their desserts looked to die for, but we stuck to a caramel Bailey’s shake (me), apple pie a la mode (Ryan), Tollhouse cookie pie (Maggie), and a Bailey’s mint Oreo shake (Mike). Gold stars all-around!

Asheville

Tupelo Honey Café: Wow, just wow. There’s a reason this restaurant serving three daily meals is constantly bustling. We lucked out, scoring a table on the patio, where we were all blown away by everything we tasted. Though Southern-style food would never be my first pick, their creative twist on the cuisine using almost all local foods, was outstanding. I would return to Asheville just to enjoy Tupelo’s homemade biscuits and selection of farm fresh sides! This meal definitely left us all the most stuffed!

Laughing Seed Café: I think Ryan summed this meal up best when he said “my meal was so good you didn’t even notice it was meatless!”. This vegetarian restaurant is truly vegetarian food done right—so flavorful and unique, the meat won’t be missed. From Indian to Thai to Mexican, they offer a variety of dishes bursting with fresh flavor. My salad was one of the specials of the day, so I can’t find the description online, but I know it contained arugula, avocado, oranges, fennel, pumpkin seeds, and fried oyster mushrooms. In a word: amazing.

Hill House Bed and Breakfast: Mike and Maggie are pros when it comes to B&Bs, but this was a first for Ryan and I. We couldn’t have been more pleased with the rooms, the service, or, of course, the food! Many hours were spend sipping wine and rocking on their front porch, scarfing down the homemade oatmeal raisin bars (recipe obtained!), and making new friends over the breakfast table (crème brulee French toast anyone?!). Asheville visitors should definitely check this place out!



This is just an excerpt of our vacation, which hopefully hasn’t bored you too much! Amazingly, we did more than just eat…including lots of live music (in both Nashville and Charleston), a haunted dungeon tour, hiking in the swamps of Charleston and the mountains of Asheville, kayaking, shopping, and best of all, relaxing! I’ve returned home refreshed, renewed, and inspired…get ready to see some of that inspiration popping up here on the blog!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Vacation Eats: Nashville and Charleston Part I

I don’t know if I’ve ever needed a vacation as badly as our most recent trip. I was literally counting down the hours until our week away, when I could escape the stress and craziness of our present state of life. Much to my surprise, I was able to truly relax, casting aside all thoughts of normal life for a full seven days. Thanks to a major backlog of posts, The Sweets Life stayed up and running but I was truly on a break—no posts were drafted, no recipes were photographed, no other blogs were really read or commented on.

Of course, vacation or not, food is still essential, and we managed to enjoy a lot of it on this year’s “Spring Break” trip. Last year, we began our Spring Break tradition with friends Mike and Maggie, when we explored Arizona for a week last March. This year, keeping up with the theme, we headed on a road trip hitting Nashville, Charleston, and Asheville over the course of seven days.

Though I don’t want to bore you with the gastronomical details of each day, I do want to point out a few highlights…lest you find yourself in any of these cities in the near future. I greatly rely on recommendations from people (thanks KaraErica, and Kath!) as well as sites like Yelp to find fun places to explore in new cities, so hopefully I can pass the favor along!

Nashville

FidoWe hit up this café twice during our weekend in Nashville, first to meet my stud of a cousin Ben and our friend Mike for lunch, and again to grab breakfast on the way out of town. No one was disappointed with their meal at this hip joint (is Nashville hipster or is Nashville hipster?!), but we were particularly impressed by the baked goods. Don’t miss any of their freshly baked muffins, which we got to experience WARM early one morning! (and stay tuned, because I’ll be attempting to recreate at least one of them!)

Burger UpIf you have time for only one meal in Nashville, don’t miss Burger Up. This was definitely one of the top meals we experienced on vacation. The restaurant itself is pretty small and clearly popular in the area—we waited almost an hour at 8:00 pm on a Sunday night! Cocktails are creative, but it’s the food that really stands out. From the salads (Bacon vinaigrette—amazing! Roasted beets & goat cheese—also amazing!) to the sweet potato fries (somehow thick, crisp, and not at all greasy) to the burgers (DON’T miss the lamb burger!), we were oohing and aahing with every bite!

Charleston

BakedI was so anxious to try this famed bakery and coffee shop, whose cookbook I have flipped through many a time in the bookstore! Though tough to make our choices, the four of us sampled a variety, including the vanilla cake truffle, grasshopper brownie, coconut macaroon, and the Irish Carbomb brownie, appropriate on St. Patty’s Day week (stout brownie, whiskey caramel, and Bailey’s ganache). The macaroon was my personal favorite, but I don’t think a sweets-lover can make a bad pick in the place!

Gin JointThis was far and away our favorite cocktail experience of the trip. With funky décor and servers in bow ties, this bar serving prohibition-style cocktails won the hearts of Mike and Ryan who have already begun scheming how to someday have their own, better version of the place. Even I, unaware when it comes to “classy” cocktails, was wooed by the flavors and ingredients in these drinks! The appetizers we snacked on here were also impressive—potato skins, in tiny purple and fingerling potatoes, and white pea hummus were the two we struggled to choose from an alluring menu. Neither disappointed!

Huff’s SeafoodOne of our favorite pastimes is preparing great meals with Mike and Maggie (remember the Columbia Crest dinner?), so we like to seek out houses with kitchens to rent on vacation. This year was no exception, and our cottage in Folly Beach, South Carolina did not go unused! We took a break from the restaurant scene one night to stay in, purchase local seafood at Huff’s Seafood in Folly Beach, and make fish tacos with mango salsa alongside grilled vegetables. I didn’t bother to photograph it, but the meal will be recreated in the near future because it’s a must-make!
(the boys, cooking and storytelling?!)

Before I lose you all, I’ll end here for now and continue with our vacation eats recap tomorrow…recipes to return on Friday, I promise!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Best of 2011: Tuna and Vegetable Salad

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This tuna and vegetable salad is very appropriate for The Sweets Life. Healthy, fresh, and full of vegetables...the perfect precursor to a decadent dessert like chocolate peanut butter cake or raspberry truffle tarts. I was curious to try this recipe as part of our Best of 2011 challenge because it was unlike most tuna salads I've ever seen or had. Order a tuna salad in a deli and you're likely to be given a sandwich heavy on the mayo, light on the tuna. This, too, isn't overwhelming full of tuna, but it lacks a dressing and is instead loaded with vegetables.

I liked how bright and fresh this was, but It was a little strange to have NO dressing on it, aside from the lemon juice. It has good flavor, but next time I might mix with a little plain Greek yogurt to give it some creaminess along with an extra boost of protein. Though broccoli is the featured food from the cookbook, it should be noted that this salad has several other nutritional stars.

A few health benefits of broccoli, from The 12 Best Foods Cookbook...
Broccoli:
  • Has antibacterial properties that kill bacteria that causes ulcers & plays a role in stomach cancer
  • Source of cancer-fighting sulforaphane, indoles, and carotenoids
  • Provides fiber, folate, potassium, and Vitamins A, C, and K
One Year Ago: Sweet Potato Bread


Tuna and Vegetable Salad
adapted from The 12 Best Foods Cookbook


Ingredients:
-2 large carrots, thinly sliced and chopped
-2 ribs celery, finely chopped
-1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
-1/2 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped broccoli florets
-1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
-2 cans water-packed light tuna, drained
-juice from 1 lemon
-salt & freshly ground pepper
-1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley


Directions:
1. In a large bowl, mix carrots, celery, bell pepper, broccoli, and onion. Stir in tuna and lemon juice, mixing with a fork until tuna breaks into small flakes.
2. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in the parsley. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to two days.

This post is linked to Eat at Home.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Best of 2011: Sweet Potato Butter

It's no secret that I love sweet potatoes. I'll put them in chili, in pasta, in enchiladas...even in bread! When I flipped through The 12 Best Foods Cookbook, hunting for my next Best of 2011 recipe, I was instantly drawn to the sweet potato butter, featuring one of their twelve best foods (sweet potatoes of course!).

Oh baby. It would have been a shame to NOT make this recipe from the cookbook. Not only is this sweet potato butter a breeze to whip up, but it has only increased my love for the orangey starch! This can be used as a dip for crackers or vegetables, or as a sandwich spread. I was so smitten with it, I found myself digging into it with a spoon, fresh from the food processor! This tastes like a creamy pudding and it was just as good on day three as it was on day one. If you're a sweet potato fan, you must make this!

From The 12 Best Foods Cookbook, a few health benefits of sweet potatoes...
Sweet Potatoes:
  • Packed with more beta-carotene than carrots (beta-carotene boosts the immune system and fights the formation of age-related cataracts & a number of cancers)
  • A source of Vitamins C & E, as well as magnesium and potassium
  • 1 baked sweet potato has 3.2 grams of fiber
One Year Ago: Carrot Soup

Sweet Potato Butter
From The 12 Best Foods Cookbook

Ingredients:
-1/2 medium yellow onion
-2 medium sweet potatoes (approximately 1 1/2 lbs)
-1/4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
-2 tbsp tahini
-salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
1. Cut an onion in half and peel off the papery outer lay. Rub the onion and sweet potatoes with oil, lightly coating them. Wrap the onion in a piece of aluminum foil. With a second piece of foil, wrap the sweet potatoes.
2. Bake the onions and potatoes at 400F for 1 hour, or until potatoes feel soft when squeezed. Unwrap the vegetables and allow them to cool slightly.
3. Peel outer lay off of onion and peel skins off of sweet potatoes. Add onion and potatoes to the bowl of a food processor. Add tahini and puree until creamy. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
*Store for up to 3 days, tightly covered in the refrigerator.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Marshmallow Brownies

If I mention the word "brownies" in the house, Ryan usually makes a face. Unless I'm making the Ghirardelli brownies, he claims he doesn't really like brownies (I know, I know, who doesn't like brownies?!). As a result, there are a lot more cookies on this blog than fudgy, chocolately squares of goodness.

I try to be an equal opportunist when it comes to desserts, and it was high time I added another brownie recipe to The Sweets Life. It's a good thing I did, too, because my friend Greg declared these his "new favorite dessert" when I brought these to a church meeting. I know what he's getting at; the brownie base is moist and chewy, but these are made extra special thanks to the marshmallow layer and chocolate frosting. I caught myself eating the tops off of these, I found the frosting irresistible!

If you're looking for a jazzed up brownie, try this one. Even non-brownie lovers were caught eating these ;)


One Year Ago: Veggie Tuna Pasta Bake

Marshmallow Brownies
from First Look, Then Cook

Ingredients:
for the brownies-
-1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
-2 cups granulated sugar
-1/4 cup cocoa
-4 eggs
-2 tsp vanilla
-1 tsp salt
-1 1/2 cups flour
-2 1/2 cups mini marshmallows

for the frosting-
-1/4 cup butter, melted
-2 tbsp milk
-1/3 cup cocoa
-1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375F and line a 9 x 13 pan with foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix together melted butter, sugar, cocoa, eggs, vanilla, and salt. Stir in flour, mixing just until combined. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes.
2. Remove pan from oven and top with mini marshmallows. Return to oven for 2 minutes. Remove from oven a second time and, with a knife dipped in water, spread marshmallows evenly. Cool completely.
3. Whisk frosting ingredients together until smooth and spread over marshmallow layer once cooled. Cut into squares and serve immediately or refrigerate until serving (if desired).

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Chicken Sausage Apple Couscous

Couscous isn't something I typically buy, but it was on sale one week at the grocery store and I picked up a few boxes. After letting them sit for several weeks in my cupboard untouched, I knew I needed to find some inspiration and I consulted the Near East website to see if they had any recipes. The website actually ended up being a great resource; it offers a variety of recipes for each of their products, and even the specific flavors of each product. After browsing the Toasted Pine Nut Couscous recipes, I ended up settling on the Chicken Apple Couscous. Because I had some chicken sausage in our fridge, I substituted that for the chicken breasts, as you'll see in the recipe below. I liked this recipe because it took 20 minutes tops to put together, which is ideal for a weeknight. You could also make this and pack it for lunch for a few days. This dish was good, not great. I wish I would've added additional toasted pine nuts to the finished dish, I think that would've helped add a little extra flavor. Overall, however, I liked the different elements of the meal; I also ate mine over sauteed spinach for some extra veggies!

One Year Ago: Butterhorns (one of my favorite desserts as a child!)


Chicken Sausage Apple Couscous
adapted from the Near East Couscous website


Ingredients:
-1 tbsp olive oil
-12 oz. chicken sausage, fully cooked
-1 medium onion, chopped
-1 1/4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
-1 package (Near East) Toasted Pine Nut Couscous
-2 medium green apples, cored and chopped into 1-inch pieces
-1/4 cup raisins
-1/4 tsp fresh or dried rosemary

Directions:
1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute for 5 minutes, until translucent. Add sliced chicken sausage and cook, just until heated through.
2. Add broth, contents of the Near East spice sack (included in couscous package), apples, raisins, and rosemary. Bring to a boil.
3. Stir in couscous and cover. Remove from heat and allow to stand for 5 minutes.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Cilantro Lime Black Bean & Sweet Potato Filled Pitas

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When you literally have less than half an hour to get dinner on the table, or you want a fast lunch to make ahead of time, this is an excellent option. I actually roasted the sweet potatoes the day before we ate this and kept them in the fridge overnight until Ryan was able to throw the rest of it together after work one evening. This has a fairly small ingredient list, making this dish both easy and healthy.

Scoop the bean mixture into pita breads, as we did, or fold it up in a tortilla.This would also be good over rice or salad greens! Lime is the dominating flavor in this and I could've used even more of it in ours. I think that may have been remedied if we'd let the dish sit overnight for the flavors to meld, or else you can add some extra lime juice.

Tell me, what's your favorite (and easy!) recipe to stuff pita bread with?


One Year Ago: Zucchini Artichoke Spinach Quiche with Bulgur Crust


Cilantro Lime Black Bean & Sweet Potato Filled Pitas
adapted from Cate's World Kitchen

Ingredients:
-3 tbsp olive oil
-3 small to medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
-1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
-juice of 1 lime
-zest of 1 lime
-1 tsp salt, divided
-pinch of cayenne pepper
-1/4 cup chopped cilantro
-pita bread, for serving

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 450F and line a baking sheet with foil. Toss diced sweet potatoes with oil and 1/2 tsp salt and spread on baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until tender. Remove and allow to cool.
2. Whisk lime zest, lime juice, 1/2 tsp salt, and cayenne in a large bowl. Add cooked sweet potatoes and rinsed black beans, tossing to coat. Stir in cilantro.
3. Spoon mixture into pita bread and serve.

**This recipe was featured on Yummly

Certified Yummly Recipes on Yummly.com

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cake Batter Pancakes

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What's a girl to do when she's bought cake mix to make cake batter ice cream and still has tons of the mix left? Why, make more ice cream of course! Been there, done that. My waistline was begging for something else. And of course, since whole wheat flour = healthy, adding some cake mix to it and eating it for breakfast makes the "cake" part of the breakfast healthy, right? Whatever, these are too good to waste time worrying about if they're healthy or not.

With added sprinkles in the batter, these are downright cheery...perfect for a birthday, a holiday, or a random Sunday afternoon, in our case. The cake flavor is subtle, but definitely gives the pancakes a special something. I'm realizing now that I still had whipped cream in the fridge left over from the ice cream cake. I'm kicking myself for not topping these with whipped cream.

Next time...because I still have some cake mix left...


One Year Ago: Irish Soda Bread

Cake Batter Pancakes
slightly adapted from How Sweet Eats
*makes approximately 12 pancakes


Ingredients:
-1 cup all-purpose flour
-1/2 cup whole wheat flour (could eliminate and use 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour)
-2/3 cup cake mix (I used funfetti)
-1 tbsp sugar
-3/4 tsp baking powder
-pinch of salt
-2 eggs
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1-2 cups milk
-sprinkles

Directions:
1. Mix flours, cake mix, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add eggs, 1 cup of milk, and vanilla extract, stirring until smooth. If batter seems too thick, slowly add more milk (up to one cup more) until batter is fairly thin and resembles pancake batter.
2. Fold sprinkles into batter and spoon batter onto heated skillet, cooking until lightly browned. Flip and cook other side until lightly browned. Remove from skillet and serve warm with syrup.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Guinness Beef Stew


Growing up, March 17th, more commonly known as St. Patrick’s Day, wasn’t much more than an ordinary day. I usually sported some green to avoid any pinches, but the celebrating stopped there. It wasn’t until I moved to St. Louis that I discovered that, for some people, St. Patrick’s Day is a really big deal! Such a big deal, in fact, that people take the day off of work for St. Patrick’s Day!

Ironically enough, I was off work on St. Patrick’s Day 2010. However, you couldn’t find me at the parade in Dogtown or one of St. Louis’ many Irish pubs (though I did run the St. Patrick’s Day race the weekend before!). We spent last March 17th on vacation in sunny Arizona. This year, again, we will be vacationing while St. Louisans proudly celebrate their heritage (or pretend to be Irish). Instead of skipping the celebrating altogether, I decided to celebrate the best way I know how: in the kitchen.

This Guinness Beef Stew has all the makings of a good St. Patrick’s Day meal—warm, comforting, and full of beer! When you pick up a pack of Guinness for your celebration, set one aside for this stew. Whether or not you’re a beer lover (I’m not), I guarantee you will fall for this classic meal.

Ryan, my Irish-blooded husband, couldn’t stop singing my praises after I served him this for dinner. He raved about the flavors and happily ate the leftovers for a few days. Aside from some chopping and then browning the beef, the crockpot does all the work for this one! I threw the stew together and then let our slow cooker work its magic for several hours. If your kitchen is without a crockpot, I suggest running out to get one. Immediately. Then click here for a slew of easy crockpot recipes. Actually, I’m pretty certain this stew could also be cooked over the stovetop, left to simmer for a few hours, or baked in the oven at a fairly low temperature. Don’t stop at the stew in making your holiday meal. I recommend serving the stew with some Irish soda bread. For dessert, you can’t go wrong with Guinness and Irish Bailey’s Cream cupcakes!


 Don’t delay in making this perfect St. Patrick’s Day meal. Let the scent of Guinness and beef fill your home as you close your eyes and imagine the rolling green hills of Ireland!

Note--this article was originally written for and posted on the University City Patch.


One Year Ago: Lamb with Mint Yogurt Dipping Sauce


Guinness Beef Stew
adapted from Vintage Victuals

Ingredients:
-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
-1.5-2 lbs boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch pieces
-1/4 cup flour
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
-1 large onion, roughly sliced
-1-2 baking potatoes, roughly chopped
-3 large carrots, coarsely chopped
-3-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1 (16 oz.) Guinness
-1 tbsp Worcestershire
-1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
-1 bay leaf
-1 (15.5 oz) can low-sodium beef broth
-3 tbsp tomato paste
-salt & pepper, to taste

Directions:
1. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. After cleaning beef and patting to dry, toss with 2 remaining 2 tbsp oil. Sprinkle with flour, salt, and pepper, making sure all pieces are coated. Cook meat just until browned on both sides (2-3 minutes a side). (Beef will still be raw)
2. Add all vegetables to the crockpot, followed by the Guinness and Worcestershire sauce. Add thyme and bay leaf.
3. Add broth and tomato paste to the skillet, using a wooden spoon to scrape the browned meat bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour the entire mixture into the crockpot, stirring to combine everything. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Cook on low for 6-10 hours or high for 4-6 hours until meat is tender and vegetables are fork tender. remove bay leaf and season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Serve with mashed potatoes, rice, or bread.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pumpkin Granola

While I will never stop proclaiming my love for my mom's homemade granola, this pumpkin granola deserves a spot on the blog as well. With a little bit of pumpkin left over from the pumpkin penne, I contemplated making pumpkin granola bars and instead decided to stop at the word granola.

Not only did this make my kitchen smell heavenly while baking, the finished product was the perfect accompaniment to yogurt. I eat yogurt and granola on a near-daily basis and was excited to have a new variation from the store-bought stuff I've been using lately. This granola isn't overly sweet, nor is the pumpkin flavor overpowering. Rather, it's just a tasty granola bursting with spices that remind me of Fall (but are still completely welcomed in March!) The finished product is a little softer than what you'll find in the store, but it still had plenty of chunks to satisfy chunky granola lovers.

One Year Ago: Whole Wheat Pita Bread


Pumpkin Granola
adapted from Erin's Food Files

Ingredients:
-1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
-1/2 cup slivered almonds
-1/3 cup pepitas
-1/8 tsp salt
-3/4 tsp cinnamon
-1/8 tsp nutmeg
-1/4 tsp cloves
-1/8 tsp ginger
-1/3 cup pumpkin puree
-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-1/3 cup pure maple syrup
-1/3 cup dried cranberries

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 300F. Cover a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, mix together oats, nuts, salt, and spices. Add pumpkin, maple syrup, vanilla, and cranberries, mixing until well combined.
3. Spread granola mixture on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until granola is golden brown and crisp (note: granola will continue to harden as it cools).
4. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Banana Cream Cheese Muffins


With a few brown bananas on my countertop and half a package of cream cheese threatening to go bad in my fridge, it was time to bake. I have several recipes with both bananas and cream cheese that I'm dying to make (such as a banana roll with cream cheese filling!), but it was a Sunday morning and I was looking for something fast that we could grab for breakfast as we headed out the door to church. Muffins it was. While my first thought was to make muffins with a surprise cream cheese filling, it came down to filling the muffins or taking a shower and I figured the members of our congregation preferred the shower. I do still want to try filling muffins with cream cheese, but this time I quickly place a dollop on top of each filled cup and stuck them in the oven.

The result, as you can see from the pictures, was essentially a self-frosted muffin. The cream cheese mixture spread, stretching out over the cooked muffin and providing a creamy topping. We ate some warm from the oven, but refrigerated the rest before running out the door. Later, I sampled a muffin cold from the fridge and have to say I preferred it that way. My only suggestion would be to add some chopped pecans or walnuts--the muffins were moist and full of banana flavor, but needed some crunch!

One Year Ago: Tabbouleh (one of Ryan's all-time favorites!)


Banana Cream Cheese Muffins


Ingredients:
for the muffins-
-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
-3/4 cup whole wheat flour
-1 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-3 large ripe bananas
-1/4 cup brown sugar
-1/4 cup granulated sugar
-1 egg
-1/2 cup butter, melted
-1 tsp vanilla extract

for the filling-
-4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
-1/4 cup sugar
-1 egg yolk
-1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners or spray with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, mix together flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a mixing bowl, beat bananas with egg, butter, sugars, and vanilla.
3. Slowly stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, just until combined.
4. Divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups. Rinse out mixing bowl and beat together cream cheese, sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla until smooth. Place a dollop of cream cheese mixture on top of each batter-filled muffin cup.
5. Bake muffins for 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Pecan Chocolate Chip Gooey Butter Bars

When I first moved to St. Louis, I kept hearing about the infamous gooey butter cake. Gooey? Butter? Cake? You really can't go wrong with those three words in the same sentence and my theory was proven correct when I had my first taste of the stuff. It was indeed gooey and buttery and I completely understand why people go mad for the stuff.

When I saw this recipe for Pecan Chocolate Chip Gooey Butter Bars, I got a little excited. Gooey butter cake can only be made better with the addition of nuts and chocolate! While I wouldn't say that these exactly mirror the taste and texture of gooey butter cake (though I plan to tackle that sometime soon!), these were good in their own way. Cookie dough lovers will find these irresistible; the top layer tastes exactly like under-baked cookie dough. In fact, a better name for these might be Cookie Dough Bars! The bottom layer is slightly firmer, which provides a nice base and contrast to the softness on top. The bars keep well for a few days, wrapped and stored in the fridge, but I doubt they will last that long!



Pecan Chocolate Chip Gooey Butter Bars

Ingredients:
for the base-
-1 cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
-1/2 tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp baking soda
-1/4 tsp salt
-3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
-4 tbsp butter, softened
-1 egg
-1 egg yolk
-1 tsp vanilla extract

for the topping-
-2 oz. cream cheese, softened
-2 tbsp light corn syrup
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-6 tbsp butter, melted
-1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
-1/4 tsp salt
-1 egg yolk
-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
-1/2 cup crushed pecans
-1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-inch square pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.
2. Beat/whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and brown sugar. Mix in butter, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla, beating until smooth.
3. With a spatula, spread batter in the base of the pan evenly.
4. Using the same bowl, beat together cream cheese, corn syrup, vanilla, butter, brown sugar, salt, egg, and flour until smooth. Fold in pecans and chocolate chips. Spread topping over the base with a spatula.
5. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until filling is puffed and edges are set (center will still be a little wobbly). Cool completely in the pan before using the foil to remove and slice into bars.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Pumpkin Penne

Good friends will listen to your ridiculousness time after time, even if they are secretly annoyed. Great friends will tell you to shut it when you're being a little too dramatic.

Good friends will take you out for ice cream for your birthday. Great friends will buy you an ice cream maker for your birthday.

Good friends will make time to see you, but sometimes life gets in the way. Great friends don't let life get in the way.

Good friends put up with your pumpkin obsession all Fall-long, rejoicing when December hits and pumpkin season is "over". Great friends will still eat pumpkin meals with you in February!

Paige and Ashley are great friends. I've talked about them before and the fun we have with our monthly girls dinners. Last month it was my turn to host and I had my eye on a pumpkin pasta dish that I never got around to making last Fall. Because they're great friends (and, let's be honest, huge pumpkin lovers themselves) they gladly obliged and pumpkin penne served as our main course.

I liked this pasta dish because it was both simple and fast. I slightly adapted from the original recipe, including upping the amount of pumpkin, but the finished product still didn't taste super pumpkiny. I think even pumpkin-haters would eat this pasta. I really liked how creamy the pumpkin, milk, and cottage cheese mixture was; it made the dish feel much more decadent than it actually was!

Grab a can of pumpkin, some great friends, and make this dish...no need to wait until Fall!

(by the way, I realize you don't use the whole can of pumpkin in this recipe...and I've got a great post coming in a few days to show you how to use the rest of it!)


One Year Ago: Chocolate Oatmeal Almost Candy Bars


Pumpkin Penne
adapted from Proceed with Caution
*serves 6

Ingredients:
-1/2 box whole wheat penne pasta
-3 tsp olive oil
-1 large onion, thinly sliced
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-4 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
-4 links cooked chicken sausage, sliced
-1 cup low fat cottage cheese
-1 cup pumpkin puree
-3/4 cup nonfat milk
-pinch of nutmeg
-1 (10 oz.) bag fresh spinach
-grated parmesan cheese, for topping

Directions:
1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions, cooking for 1-015 minutes, until soft and beginning to caramelize. Add garlic, sage, and chicken sausage to the skillet and continue to cook.
2. Cook pasta according to package directions.
3. Mix pumpkin, cottage cheese, and milk in a blender until lump-free. Add to skillet and continue to cook over low heat. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add a pinch of ground nutmeg.
4. Drain pasta and return to pot over low heat. Add sausage mixture from skillet to pasta along with spinach. Toss until spinach wilts. Serve topped with parmesan cheese.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Citrus Salad with Ginger Yogurt

Exotic. That's what Ryan called this fruit salad when we ate it as part of our breakfast one weekend morning. I have to agree--citrus fruits and candied ginger are atypical fruit salad ingredients, which was exactly what attracted me to the recipe. I made this recipe as part of another Patch article, again purchasing a few of my ingredients at the University City Farmer's Market (much like I did with the butternut squash, mushroom, and spinach crepes).

This is an ideal dish for a breakfast or brunch, as both the yogurt and the fruit salad can be prepared a day ahead of time and then assembled just before serving. I loved the subtle sweetness in this fruit salad and topped with the ginger yogurt, this was indeed a rather exotic dish! If you want to change it up from your usual fruit salad, give this one a try!


One Year Ago: Steel Cut Oatmeal


Citrus Salad with Ginger Yogurt
adapted from Bon Appetit December 2004

Ingredients:
-1 pink grapefruit, peeled
-1 tangerine, peeled
-2 oranges, peeled
-1/3 cup dried cranberries
-2 tbsp honey
-1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
-1 container Greek yogurt
-2/3 cup minced crystallized ginger
-1/4 cup brown sugar
-additional dried cranberries, for topping

Directions:
1. Tear grapefruit and tangerines into sections. Cut grapefruit pieces into thirds and tangerine pieces in half. Place it all (pieces and juices) in a serving bowl.
2. Cut peel from oranges and slice into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Cut each slice into quarters and add oranges (and juices) to the bowl. Stir in 1/2 cup cranberries, honey, and cinnamon. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
3. In a separate bowl, mix yogurt with ginger. (If making ahead of time, cover and refrigerate).
4. When ready to serve, spoon yogurt atop fruit. Sprinkle with brown sugar and additional dried cranberries.

This post is linked to Eat at Home.