Monday, August 22, 2011

Mango Spinach Smoothie

This weekend I stood at the alter and watched my big sister walk down the aisle! It was a very exciting and stressful weekend that I was so proud to be a part of. I am so happy for her and her new husband. Good luck to them in their new marriage!

I actually made this way before the wedding, but I have been so caught up in planning that I have been slacking at getting posts up.

Look at that color!

Before you ask me if I went off the deep end, keep reading. I promise, it's not what you're thinking..

This delicious mix of sweet and.. spinach? -- I'm really not quite sure what category spinach fits into, or any greens fit into for that matter.. but anyway this combination is

If I hadn't made my self stop slurping this drink so fast, I probably would have gulped in down in under two minutes. 

It is a good thing that part of me has some sense of self-control though, because after that two minute gulp-down, I probably would have found myself bent over from all of the frothy bubbles in my stomach.. 

Oh and guess what? Green stuff can taste good, I promise.  

Well even if you don't like the look of that bright green liquid-filled mixer, you should definitely try this smoothie and prepare yourself to be pleasantly surprised. 

Mango Spinach Smoothie

1 packed cup spinach
1 mango
1/2 cup greek yogurt
5 chopped strawberries
1/2 cup ice
1/2 cup water

Add spinach, mango and water to blender.  Blend until smooth.  Add greek yogurt and blend some more.  Add the strawberries and ice and blend until smooth.  Pour into glass and enjoy.  
Garnish with strawberries if desired. 

This makes a nutritious afternoon snack or meal replacement.  

Friday, August 05, 2011

Homemade Peanut Butter

It's finally here!

Isn't she b-e-a-utiful?

I am so excited to have the first piece to my dream kitchen.
A girl can dream right? Here's to hoping Future Husband doesn't mind...

But, that's not what this post is about. This post is more about these:

Pretty much the only nuts that I will eat, but that might change since grinding some almonds up in here and making some almond peanut butter doesn't sound so bad... 

This is actually the main reason I bought a food processor: to make peanut butter!

White chocolate peanut butter, honey peanut butter, nutella, coconut peanut butter... I have so many to try...
I decided to start with white chocolate peanut butter that I saw on How Sweet It Is. 
So I added some of these:

I was a little disappointed with the result. I didn't follow the recipe exactly, so I think adding more chocolate would have helped, but adding honey at the end made it pretty good (obviously since I ate the rest of what I made).

And that folks is why I did not make very much because lately I do not have much in the way of self control surrounding food. 

I'm working on it I promise. 

The key is to convince yourself that there will be another meal in a few hours, Mom lied, you don't need to eat everything that you are served or that you make, save it for later...

 Homemade Peanut Butter:

1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp canola oil

1/4 cup melted white chocolate chips

Grind peanuts in a food processor until a paste forms. Be patient, the peanuts will let out their own oil and adding extra oil too soon may be unnecessary.  Add vanilla and oil through top with processor still running, keep grinding! Turn off processor and add white chocolate or honey if you prefer. Grind some more until smooth.

Can be refrigerated for up to a week.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Mom's Banana Bread

This recipe is classic in my family. 

The only banana bread we would think of making. 

Reading it makes me think of the delicious warm banana-y moist cake-like bread on my taste buds. 
Sure, banana-y is a word. 

Here's the recipe page that my mom sent me when I asked her for it. You can tell that it is loved. Those black spots in the corner? Probably butter, or bananas, or who knows what else.

This is one of those recipes that the book falls open to. 

I'm not sure what the book is, but since all of the recipes seem to be by nurses it is most likely from my grandmother or great grandmother, who both actually worked in hospitals. 

I never really knew my great grandmother, but my mom reminisces about her so frequently that I feel like I did. And, I feel oddly connected to this woman who is actually just a second-hand memory for me. 

That could be because my mom is always making connections between the two of us: she was a nurse, I'm going to be a nurse (along with hundreds of thousands of others..), we both cannot bake a thing in the kitchen without using every dish in the house, and the fact that we both love(d) to bake so much.  

My great grandmother surely baked with more butter than I do, but I am trying to overcome my mom's many years of forcing margarine down my throat. 

This recipe, though, is an exception. 
You must use shortening. 
I'm going to repeat that in case you missed it. 
You must use shortening!

I promise you will thank me. 

In case you can't make out the recipe here it is:

Mom's Banana Bread

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup mashed banana (about 2 bananas)
2 eggs

Cream shortening, add sugar, beat well. 
Blend in eggs, blend in dry ingredients.
Add mashed bananas. 
Bake in 9x5x3 pan at 300 F for 50-60 minutes. 

This is where preference plays in. See that beautiful split in the middle that doesn't look quite as brown?
My mom always thought that risking salmonella was worth the thin layer of dough that she left uncooked on the top of the loaf, and I have to say I wouldn't have it any other way. 

But whether you want to take this risk or not is completely up to you...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Greek Layer Dip

It is hot. Scorching. Something hotter than scorching. 

I am hiding out in my air conditioning and trying to pretend that it is not a sauna outside.

I am keeping it cool enough in here that I was able to shred with Jillian Michaels. 
Yep. And I used my oven. 

Now you're imagining my electricity bill. I'm trying to forget about that one and soothe myself with a treat I'll tell you about tomorrow...

Chris loves everything Greek. Greek food.  Greek wine. Greek language. 

So I decided to make the Seven Greek Layer Dip I saw on How Sweet It Is.

Mmmmmm Tzatziki..

One major hint: Don't skip on the feta. I learned that the hard way. 

And now...

this wonderfully stocked shelf has been emptied except for that awful block of dry, extra crumbly, low fat feta in the back. great.

But before I realized how awful low fat feta is, I made this delicious dip:

Seven Layer Greek Dip
makes a lot!
1 1/2 cups hummus of your choice
1 15-ounce can of kalamata olives, drained and chopped
1 15-ounce can of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
1/2 large cucumber, peeled and chopped
4 ounces full fat feta
1 1/3 cups greek yogurt
3 tablespoons fresh dill
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped cucumber
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper
In a bowl, combine yogurt, dill, garlic, 3 tablespoons of cucumber, olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper and mix. In a large bowl, begin layering ingredients: the yogurt tzatziki, the chopped olives, the hummus, the chopped artichoke hearts, the feta, and the tomatoes and cucumber. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Serve with pita chips or use in wraps and sandwiches.

This doesn't keep very well so make sure are going to have a lot of people to feed this to or make a quarter of the size!  Even Chris who can usually eat enough for 2 to 3 people could only eat a small bowl full.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sam Learns to Saute: Episode 1

My friend Sam came over tonight for our first weekly cooking sessions. 
Sam began teaching herself to cook about a month and a half ago, just after we arrived home from our amazing trip to New Zealand (you can read all about that here). 
Not having hospitable kitchen to cook in means that Sam often finds herself learning in her parents' kitchen on the weekend and now mine on Monday nights! 

How lucky am I, a new foodie friend to bake with and another mouth to feed my always excessive portion sizes?! 

I'm thinkin pretty lucky. 

So Sam arrived with food in hand, sweet potatoes shredded and dressing made.

I on the other hand was a little behind on my prep.
I was just finishing my home-made mozzarella pearls, because the grocery store who-shall-not-be-named-but-rhymes-with-ogre  does not carry them. Can you believe that?

The fruit that we filled our bellies with before we were done cooking...

Actually I can believe it after explaining to a young man stocking the shelves that quinoa was kind of like itty bitty pasta but really a seed, but would usually be found next to couscous, and is pronounced keen-wa, but is actually spelled q-u-i-n-o-a. 
He avoided eye contact next time i saw him. 

A not-so-healthy substitute of couscous was purchased instead and I went to hunt down my vegetables.

Now you really won't believe this. That grocery store that shall-not-be-named-but-rhymes-with-ogre does not carry basil. Yes basil. That fragrant leaf that is supposed to be between your ten shelves of cilantro and single shelf of dill, mint, thyme, etc. yea that one. 

So I settled for cilantro, which don't get me wrong is by no means really settling, but I am quite a stickler when it comes to following a recipe and after not being able to find quinoa, I was pretty much convinced this would be an entirely different dish, which actually I am not so much opposed to. 

So back to me. Standing in the kitchen. Carving my own mozzarella balls with a 1/2 teaspoon that doubled as a melon baller. 

Sam fried up the sweet potato patties which really turned into a sweet potato skillet, but tasted just as delicious.

It was a miracle that I snapped this picture before remembering that Sam hates pictures. Not hates, detests. Too bad she was hanging out with the girl who has a camera permanently affixed to her face. I think she actually just wanted proof too show her disbelieving friends that she is cooking!

She served the sweet potatoes over mixed greens and with a homemade olive oil dressing.
It was deeeelicious. I will be inviting Sam back next week. And she helped with all of the dishes! What an awesome guest. 

My dish became the second course as I wanted to serve it chilled and so into the freezer it went for a while. 

It turned out just as scrumptious as Sam's dish and we were both feeling very pleased. 

For dessert, Sam and I made a blackberry crumble bar. 

I couldn't resist eating it while it was still hot so I spooned some out for Sam and myself while waiting for the rest of the pan to cool so I could serve a nice square piece to photograph. 

It was a little bland, but it was a welcome compliment to the strong flavor of the black berries themselves. I don't think it will be going on the menu again any time soon*, but it is worth a try experimenting it with other fruits. 

*Dessert is my favorite meal and for me to only eat one serving or not even finish would be an insult to anyone, but this dish was worthy enough for me to want to eat the second piece I took out to photograph.. 

The couscous salad recipe is adapted from How Sweet It Is, my absolute favorite food blog!

Caprese Quinoa/ Couscous
makes about 3 cups worth
2/3 cup uncooked quinoa/ couscous
16 oz container of grape tomatoes, quartered

1/2 cup chopped bell peppers
3/4 cup fresh mozzarella pearls (or just buy a fresh mozzarella ball and melon scoop into balls)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Prepare quinoa according to directions on box. Depending on whether you want your quinoa hot or cold (it’s great both ways) either let it cool completely or immediately add in the tomatoes, cheese, salt and pepper. Drizzle about 2-3 tablespoons of cilantro oil over top and serve!

Homemade Cilantro Oil
from myrecipes
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cups packed cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
Blend oil and cilantro leaves in a blender or food processor for 30-60 seconds, just until the two are mixed. Pour mixture into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat, just until bubbles appear around the edges. Heat for about 5 minutes, the remove from heat and let cool completely. Once cool, pour through a fine mesh strainer. Store in an airtight container for 2-3 weeks – stays fresh best if set in the fridge.
I will post Sam's recipe for sweet potato pancakes/blobs tomorrow!

Edit: Here is Sam's recipe!

Mine's adapted from Mark Bittman's book Food Matters. (though probably not as flawless as his creations)

Vegetable Pancakes

Good served on a bed of salad greens with olive oil drizzle (parmesan, chopped nuts, any salsa)

Use root vegetables (zucchini, yellow squash, winter squash, corn, spinach, sweet potato)
Spice Pairings: sweet potato and corn (cilantro ), zucchini (dill), ginger and cardamom (winter squash)

1 ½ pounds grated vegetables (peeled) ---3 cups packed and squeezed dry
½ small onion (grated) or 4 scallions
1 egg or 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
¼ cup white or whole wheat flour, more or less
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive or vegetable oil or butter for greasing pan

1) heat the oven to 275 degrees. Grate the vegetable or with the grating disk of a food processor. Mix together vegetables, onion, egg and flour. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add a little more flour if the mixture isn’t holding together.

2) put a little butter or oil in a large skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. When the butter or oil is hot drop in spoonfuls of batter, using a fork to spread the vegetables into an even layer, then press down a bit. Work in batches to prevent overcrowding. (transfer finished pancakes to the oven until all are finished). Cook, turning once, until nicely browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Olive Oil Drizzle

¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic, onion, ginger, shallot, scallion, or lemongrass
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice or mild vinegar (like balsamic or rice vinegar)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley, cilantro or mint leaves

1) put the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until it softens. Turn down the heat if it starts to color

2) stir in 2 tablespoons water and lemon juice. Maintain the heat so it bubbles gently for a few seconds but doesn’t boil away. Taste, adjust seasoning, serve.

Friday, July 08, 2011


Last night my boyfriend, Chris, and I were debating over what to eat for dinner.

Since I had already eaten out once that day at my favorite restaurant this summer, Tomukun Noodle Bar, I was hesitant to eat out again at Chris' favorite restaurant, BTB.

We compromised on a slightly healthy/ slightly not open-faced sandwhich.

Chris topped his with a half-pound of turkey, while I settled for a few slices.. I just can't understand where all of that meat goes...

We layered sauteed zucchini and mushrooms on top of that and melted some gouda cheese over the whole thing.

Mmmmmmm. It was delicious and I didn't feel quite so guilty since we each only had one piece of the sandwich.

I guess the mass amount of turkey must have made up for the usual amount of food he takes in because he didn't even grab the chips like he said he was going to. He must be sick.

I should definitely feel his forhead this afternoon.

I did not, dissapointingly, get a picture of the sandwich because Chris tends to make faces when I take pictures of my dinner.

I hereby promise to this blog to forego the whining and faces to supply this blog with many pictures, because who wants to read a blog without pictures?

Thursday, July 07, 2011

First Post!

Sleep. Work. School. Food blogs. Drool over food blogs. Cook. Repeat.

Trying to work my way into being the baker of the family even on a budget.

Goals for this blog:
Post a new recipe at least once a week.
Try the recipe first!
Record daily thoughts around food and the like and ramble until I bore you to death!
Continue to be the silly person that I am and bring enjoyment to others!

Happy Thirsty Thursday :) Now enjoy yourself a margarita, you deserve it. I know you do.