Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Blueberry Morning

I love blueberries. I love them in pancakes. I love them in fruit salads. I love them on cereal. I love them all by themselves.

Spying a package of blueberries in the refrigerator this morning, I decided that a warm blueberry muffin would be awesome on this perfect summer day. The humidity has subsided, Boston is supposed to stick around the 80 degree mark, and there is a refreshing breeze coming in through my windows. So refreshing in fact, Griffy has parked himself in his spot on top of the couch and is basking in the sun and sighing with delight.IMG_2327

These muffins couldn’t be easier to make AND they are GOOD FOR YOU!

Blueberry-licious Muffins (Makes 1/2 dozen)

1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup light vanilla soymilk (or almond milk… I’ve used both)
1/4 cup sugar-free pancake syrup
1/4 cup fat-free liquid egg substitute
1/4 cup Splenda (granulated)
3 tbsp. brown sugar (not packed)
2 tbsp. light whipped butter or light buttery spread
2 tbsp. no-sugar-added applesauce 
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix dry ingredients together (but not your blueberries!). Mix wet ingredients & butter together with a whisk or hand-mixer. Add dry stuff to wet stuff (I’m so technical) and stir until mixed. Gently fold in blueberries, if you’re not gentle you’ll get blue tinted muffins! Pour into muffin tin sprayed with non-stick cooking spray or lined with muffin liners. Bake for 20 minutes or so, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool, enjoy!

Recipe credit, hungry-girl! She’s the best.


Check out how packed full of blueberries these muffins are! 


Friday, July 30, 2010

For the love of “oil” that’s good

Yesterday had it’s ups and downs. I scrambled around to finish up the last bit of work I had left in my summer classes. For once, it wasn’t that I procrastinated, but rather that I just wanted to get it all done so I could have August free of deadlines. Griffy definitely sensed that my focus was NOT on him and therefore gave me a run for my money.

He and I had a very off day. He jumped on the coffee table and grabbed tissues out of the box and tore them to shreds faster than I could react. He pushed his plastic Mickey Mouse hand under the couch and cried non-stop until I retrieved it for him. Repeat. He begged for food. I gave him a pretzel and he spit it out on the floor. We tried the laser pointer game. He was just too unfocused. Sigh. There were plenty more mishaps, but you get the idea.

My eating was weird yesterday too. I started with a bowl of cereal and coffee. Then had 4 chocolate covered gummy bears and one non-peril.  A salad of mixed greens, tomato and feta followed for lunch. A handful of sea salt and vinegar chips. I had no desire to make dinner. Here comes the point where my day turns around…

The roommate graciously offered to make burritos for dinner. YES! The most fabulous part? My only task was to EAT the fruits of her labor. I opened up a bottle of wine, poured glasses for all, and sat myself down on the couch. She made an appetizer of fabulous cheese dip that I ate with tortilla chips while reading a magazine and sipping wine. WIN. Then, the announcement that the burritos were ready was made. The star of the show, lime infused rice. She cooked the rice with Persian lime infused olive oil purchased here.p-15 Everything was SO delicious and much appreciated after the day I was having, thanks roommie!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Full of Falafel

I had falafel last week for the first time in many moons. It brought me back to my stay in Florence, Italy back in 2005 while I was studying there. Near the center of the city, hidden down a little cobblestone street, I discovered falafel for the first time. I enjoyed it so much, I would go there at least once a week and get a falafel wrap to go and savor it on my walk home.

Since having the delicious falafel, I have been wanting to re-create it at home. I was browsing recipes for falafel and found one that sounded easy, healthy (baked rather than fried) and would be great on top of the salad I planned on making for my dinner. I was happy to also discover that I had the most crucial ingredients in my pantry at home and whatever I did not, I could modify.

This particular recipe is based on the Falafel Pita Pockets, published by Hungry-Girl.

Fantastic Falafel (makes about 15 balls)

1 can chick peas (well drained)

1/4 whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp lime juice

1 chopped onion

Several chopped scallions

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1.5 tbsp minced garlic

1 tsp dried parsley flakes

1 tsp dried cilantra

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix everything together in a bowl and using a potato masher, mash it all up until it’s still somewhat chunky, yet mixed well.IMG_2308  IMG_2309IMG_2311Using a spoon, form balls and place on cookie sheet that has been lightly sprayed with olive oil cooking spray.

IMG_2313  Spray the tops of the balls again with the cooking spray. Bake for 10-15 minutes, flip and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes until browned on both sides.

IMG_2314I enjoyed mine on top of a salad of greens, cherry tomatoes and feta… all topped with a splash of red wine vinegar!

No need for takeout

I love scallion pancakes. I love their flaky texture and the spicy yet mild flavor. If I see them on a menu, I MUST order them. It has always occurred to me that they can’t be that difficult to make. The concept is simple… dough and scallions, flattened into a pancake and pan-fried. I finally picked up a bottle of sesame oil and headed into the kitchen to whip some up for dinner. There are only a few ingredients:

food 118

Flour, water, sesame oil (not pictured) and of course… scallions.

Scallion Pancakes (Serves 4 @1 pancake per serving)

1 cup boiling water

2 cups flour

1 cup chopped scallions

Sesame oil for pan-frying

Instructions: Heat water to boiling then pour into flour. Mix with wooden spoon until it forms a dough. Break off about 1/4 of dough ball. Roll out flat on floured surface. Dump 1/4 cup of scallions on pancake, spread around. Roll pancake so it’s long and “snake-like”. Then roll again, starting from one end, so it looks like a snail or cinnamon bun. Roll out flat again. *This step distributes the scallions throughout the pancake. Using spatula, carefully drop pancake into heated sesame oil. Pan-fry on each side until it’s lightly browned and crispy.

Serve with soy sauce or dipping sauce of your choice.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Burgers and Puppy gushing

     I picked up some basil and feta this weekend at the market and began the week with turkey, basil and feta burgers. I found an onion in the fridge and decided to chop some of that up and throw it in as 107  food 109 And as I was mixing up the burger add-ins, I noticed that I had an audience…

food 105Puppy had decided to camp out in the kitchen where I was prepping dinner, (my apologies for the creepy looking eyes – it’s just the flash glare, I swear!). I added the ground turkey to the bowl and mixed it all up.

food 110I then made them into patties and put them in a pre-heated pan (sprayed with a bit of Pam) and flipped when eat side was browned.

food 111   food 112I placed my burger on a toasted whole wheat sandwich round (love them) and put a dollop of garlic mustard aioli on top. I then prepared a small salad of baby arugula, cherry tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Easy, delicious and packed full of great fresh flavors!

After dinner, I brought puppy out for a walk where he rolled around in something yucky, ahem… So an immediate tub was in order.

food 114 There’s puppy, post-tub, laying with his head on a pillow watching me do work. Isn’t he so cute?

Oh so pretty…

     Last night we headed into the South End to take advantage of the $1 tapas at Estragon. I had learned of this amazing deal on another blogger’s site and then headed to Estragon’s web page to get the details. Along with the menu for the $1 tapas (offered Mon-Fri from 5:30-7, when seated at the bar), I saw that Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project was going to be there doing a complimentary tasting.

     I first learned of Pretty Things, based in Cambridge, MA, at the American Craft Beer Fest back in June at the Seaport World Trade Center Boston. I will admit, it was their pretty banner that enticed me to stand in the long line for my 2 oz sample. At the ACBF I sampled Jack D’or, their flagship beer which is a Belgian style brew.


      Last night, they were giving very generous pours and I had the opportunity to try their Baby Tree, a quadruple brewed with dried plums. It was very tasty.pretty things  They also had St. Botolph’s, a malty brown ale, to try… I heard it was quite good.

The masterminds behind Pretty Things, Dann and Martha, were hosting the tasting and were even pouring the beers themselves. It was quite evident that they take great pride in their product, as they took the time to greet each person in line and describe their beer as they poured.

All in all, a great event and I look forward to picking up some of their brews. I’ll post more about the delicious tapas we sampled at Estragon later…

Monday, July 19, 2010

Not your average potato salad

I've been meaning to post about the wonderful potato salad I made 4th of July weekend. As I'm not a huge fan of the traditional, mayonnaise laden kind, I was super thrilled to find a recipe that was completely different. The recipe also calls for red potatoes, which I absolutely love, so that was another major win.

Here's the recipe:
Dilled Potato Salad With Feta (adapted from Southern Living)

2 lbs unpeeled small size red potatoes
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
3 tablespoons fresh or 1 tablespoon dried dill (I used dried because that's what I had on hand)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 large Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1 (4 ounce) package of crumbled feta cheese
Optional: 1 cucumber, cut lengthwise & sliced (I omitted because I don't care for cucumber)

Making it:
Bring potatoes and water to boil. Reduce heat (to prevent overcooking and boil overs) and cover. Cook 25 minutes or just until they are tender. Check with a fork. Drain and cool the potatoes. When they are still slightly warm, you may go ahead and cut them into quarters.

While the potatoes are "cooling". Whisk together the vinegar, oil, dill and salt and pepper. Pour over the quartered potatoes while they are still slightly warm.

Stir in the chopped pepper and green onions, add the feta and toss of mix gently with a spoon to combine the flavors. Cover and let chill in the fridge for a few hours. Enjoy!

*Give it another gentle stir just before serving!