Thursday, May 31, 2012

What I'm Searching For: Cherry and Rhubarb Recipe Inspiration

I have a fridge full of cherries and several stalks of rhubarb -- it's about time I made something with all that produce before it goes bad! Though my usual choice would be to make a crisp or crumble (of which I have included some possible recipes anyway), I'm kind of leaning toward something a little more "exotic," such as the rhubarb and cherry ice cream. How good would that be?!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Where to Brunch: Supper

Eating brunch at Supper was at the top of my list of things to accomplish this past weekend, particularly since my parents were in town. I made reservations for 10:30a on Sunday; but upon hearing this, I think D got a little jealous (since he was scheduled to be on a flight that left PHL at 7:45a that morning), so he in turn made reservations for 10:30a on Saturday.

Saturday morning also marked my first half-marathon of the year. Given that my training consisted of one five-mile run and one ten-mile run, I did not have high expectations for the race. In the end, I did not run my fastest time, but I didn't run my slowest, either. So apparently cross-training is a good way to "train" for a half-marathon. That and the fact that I think this was my 13th half-marathon? I've lost count.

Anyway, the downside of the half-marathon is that the course was across town. I thought my parents and D could take a shuttle from Center City over to the finish line in Fairmont Park, but unfortunately it turns out that the shuttle was only for ferrying people over to the race before it started and then back after the run was complete. So . . . in lieu of meeting me at the finish line, they headed over to Di Bruno Bros. for pastries and coffee. Not fair! Long story short, my parents were full by the time our brunch reservation came around. So while D and I chowed down on red velvet waffles and a frittata, respectively, my parents shared a side of caramelized onion hash browns and housemade apple cider donuts.

Since my parents did not get to enjoy the full Supper brunch experience on Saturday, I held on to my Sunday morning reservation, and we headed back the next day to do it all again. This time I ordered the red velvet waffles, my Mom had the shoo fly pie french toast, and my Dad had the frittata. Though I think Supper may be most well-known (at least in terms of brunch) for their red velvet waffles, I have to say I was not all that impressed. It wasn't that they were bad -- because, let me tell you, I was totally a member of the Clean Plate Club -- it was more that they weren't quite as life-changing as the hype made them out to be. The supper frittata -- which consisted of three eggs and choice of two fillings (I went with sauteed greens and caramelized onions) was much better, in my opinion. Both days I paired my entree with a delicious alcoholic beverage (that's the whole point of brunch, right?) -- I can definitely recommend both the mimosa and bellini as excellent options. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What's For Dinner: BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Memorial Day signifies the beginning of the summer season. Though I don't particularly associate summer with my slow cooker, I had the urge to make pulled pork sandwiches for my parents while they were in town, so out it came.

After brunch on Sunday we headed to Whole Foods, where I picked up some pork shoulder (aka pork butt), a can of Whole Foods root beer, and a few other items to go along with our sandwiches, including a tasty cucumber-tomato-onion dill salad and cole slaw.

Apparently Food & Wine magazine was reading my mind, as Sunday morning's F&W Daily email featured a recipe for slow cooker barbecued pulled pork. I was intrigued by the recipe's addition of onions to the slow cooker at the beginning of the cooking period. I opted to caramelize the onions before adding them on top of the pork in the slow cooker. And, since I had a head of roasted garlic in the fridge, I decided to add those roasted cloves to the slow cooker as well.

The resulting pulled pork was quite savory and was a hit with my parents. I think this may just be my go-to pulled pork recipe from now on.

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches (printer-friendly version)
makes enough for 8+ sandwiches

2-3 lbs pork shoulder
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 can of root beer
1 onion, chopped
8-10 roasted garlic cloves

1. Place the pork shoulder in the bowl of a slow cooker. (I used the 4-quart bowl.)
2. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Pour a can of root beer over the pork.
4. Add in the roasted garlic cloves and caramelized onions.
5. Set the slow cooker to low and cook for 6-7 hours.
6. Use a knife and fork to shred the pork. Drain off the liquid.
7. Stir in about 1-2 cups of your favorite barbecue sauce. (I like to make mine from scratch.)
8. Serve immediately with buns and a selection of sides.

Monday, May 28, 2012

What I'm Drinking: Sangria

Given the large amount of fruit in my fridge after Friday afternoon's produce fest, it should come as no surprise that, just as I predicted, sangria made an appearance over the weekend. And let me just say that this is some mighty fine sangria. When it comes to the wine, I have no qualms with reaching for the  less inexpensive stuff. (Wines from Barefoot, Little Penguin, and Yellow Tail would all make good options, I think.) Last time I made a white sangria, so for this batch I opted to go the traditional route and went with a red. Barefoot Sweet Red Wine ($5.99/bottle in Philly) was an excellent choice for this citrus-y wine punch.

Sangria (printer-friendly version)
makes one large pitcher

750 mL red wine
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup brandy
1/2 cup halved red grapes
1/2 cup quartered strawberries
1 nectarine, cut into bite-size pieces
1 granny smith apple, cut into bite-size pieces
1 orange, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces.

1. Pour the wine into a large pitcher.
2. Add in the orange juice and brandy; stir to combine.
3. Carefully drop in the chopped fruit.
4. Chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours or overnight.
5. Serve over ice. (If you're feeling super-special, add in a cup of sparkling fruit juice or Italian soda before pouring.)

Friday, May 25, 2012

What's in My Shopping Cart: Lots of Fresh Fruit!

{red grapes. cherries, Rainier cherries, strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries}

All this fruit (plus an orange, granny smith apple, lemon, and nectarine) came home with me from Whole Foods today. Looks like we're going to be eating a lot of fresh fruit this weekend! (And/or drinking a lot of fruit-filled sangria!)

Here's to a great long weekend! 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Where We Went: To a Phillies Game!

"Go to a Phillies game" was on our must-do Philly list, so D and I coordinated our schedules and last night was the winning date for us to head to a game. Let's face it, I'm really not much of a baseball fan . . . it's just SOOO boring (aside to Rachael, the super Cubs fan: I know, complete blasphemy, right? But I'm pretty sure you already knew this about me.) My trips to professional sports teams basically revolve around the food that I can eat while at the ballpark/sports arena/etc. I scoped out the food choices at Citizens Bank Park and already had a good idea what I'd get -- on my ballgame menu? A veggie dog, a 16-oz Miller Lite, a soft pretzel (shared with D), and a mini-helmet full of soft-serve ice cream. Delish. Apparently Citizens Bank Park is one of the top veggie-friendly baseball stadiums. Who knew?

The best part of the game was watching the Phillie Phanatic harass players and dance around on the field. (I think I totally need one of these.) That would be an interesting job to have. In the end, the Phillies won (yay!) -- thus preventing the Washington Nationals from sweeping the series. Hmmm . . . when we attended the Sixers game they beat the Lakers; when we went to the Phillies game, they won . . . perhaps we are the lucky charms? : )

A few more pix from the game:

{Phillie Phanatic stretching with a few Nationals players before the game}

 {Course 1: veggie dog and Miller Lite}

{Course 2: soft pretzel}

{Seventh inning and time for dessert -- vanilla-chocolate soft serve twist in a mini Phillies helmet}

{Heading home after the game}

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Where To Eat: Talula's Garden


One word to describe our meal at Talula's Garden? A-mah-zing.

I had a slight navigational snafu on our way there (I was thrown by the 210 address number and assumed it was on 2nd St; not so much as it was on 7th. Whoopsies.) Luckily, though we arrived about 20 minutes late, there was still a table waiting for us (we called to let them know we would be a little late).

I was tempted by the cheese offerings but couldn't convince D to partake, so we forewent a cheese course. Instead we went straight for drinks and entrees. I started with The Suncatcher, a cocktail made up of champagne, strawberries, and fresh mint. (We also splurged and got a bottle of the house-filtered sparkling water, which was flavored with cucumber and fresh mint.) For my entree, I ordered the Farro Risotto with Wild Ramps, English Peas, Favas, Baby Carrots, Spring Herbs, and Crunchy Walnuts. Oh my, it was super-savory, filling, and delicious. D ordered the Lancaster Chicken Fried Thigh with Anson Mills Polenta, Asparagus, Fiddleheads, and Lemon-Thyme Chicken Glaze, which he really enjoyed. I also ordered the Fresh Bean Assortment with Warm Goddess Dressing to share.

For dessert, D ordered the Spring Strawberry Cocktail with Basil Scented Berries, Little Biscuits, Sherbet, and Chantilly. (The strawberry sherbet was unbelievable.) I had (and shared!) the Petite Cookie Collection, which included a Carrot Cake Whoopie Cookie, Chocolate-Caramel Sea Salt Bar, Pine Nut Macaroon, and Chocolate-Nut Candy Cake. (I think my favorite was a tie between the chocolate-nut candy cake and the pine nut macaroon, though all were quite tasty.) We also shared a large pot of French Press coffee, which I think may have contributed to a slight case of insomnia last night. : )

The restaurant space is gorgeous, with outdoor garden seating at the front side of the restaurant, and a vast interior space filled with tapestries, fun lighting, and metallic ductwork. A highlight of the main indoor dining room is the granite-topped cheese cheese bar, with a large cocktail bar and more seating in a side room.

Talula's Garden features the farm-to-table concept, and much of the food is locally-sourced and grown -- a concept I fully embrace and love! I would highly recommend a trip to Talula's Garden for anyone in the Philadelphia area. Our meal there definitely tops my dining experiences here in the city. 


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Made From Scratch: Simple Tomato Meat Sauce

Another meal, another chance to use up an item from our pantry. Last night's tomato sauce used up our last box of chopped tomatoes and a frozen (but thawed for the sauce) block of ground grass-fed beef from Hillacres Farm we recently purchased from the Headhouse Farmers Market. I had an extra head of roasted garlic on hand that I had kept in the refrigerator, and I decided it would make a good addition to this sauce. A smart decision, indeed! The sauce was served over a portion of rotini pasta (another item from the pantry!) and topped with fresh mozzarella.

Simple Tomato Meat Sauce (printer-friendly version)
makes about six servings

10 roasted garlic cloves, finely minced
4 cups chopped tomatoes (I like Pomi brand)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
fine sea salt, to taste (I used about a 1/2 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound ground grass-feed beef; browned and drained

1. Add the chopped tomatoes to a medium-size sauce pot. Heat over medium-low heat.
2. Add the minced roasted garlic and continue to simmer.
3. Season with oregano and salt and pepper to taste.
4. Add in the cooked beef.
5. Reduce the heat and simmer until ready to serve.

Monday, May 21, 2012

What I'm Recovering From: Spring Break!!!

I got back late last night from a wonderful five-day trip to Florida -- and it was a great time. A little time basking (in the shade) at the beach, some swimming in the ocean, plenty of eating and drinking, and lots of catching up -- there's nothing more rejuvenating for me than some quality time spent with friends. I'm excited that we already have plans to meet up later this summer and early fall.

Meanwhile, I'm still a little zonked from my time spent at the beach. (And possibly hungover from too many oreos, brownies, and oh!, that Costco chocolate cake!) Getting back in the work groove was a little rough this morning! Back to regular posting tomorrow.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Where to Eat: Vedge Restaurant

On Tuesday night, I convinced D that we should go to Vedge Restaurant for dinner (gotta knock things off our Philly List!). I may have neglected to tell him initially that it is a vegan restaurant.

 {the menus}*

What we drank:

 What we ate:

Vedge is definitely different than any other restaurant I've ever been to. The food is served tapas -- or small plate -- style, and diners are encouraged to get 2-3 plates each to share with one another. After we each ordered a pomegranate sangria (delish), D gave me full rein to decide what to order, and I opted for two dishes off the main menu and one dish off the dirt list (locally-sourced fresh vegetables; the list changes daily). The presentation of the food was incredible -- I think we both felt awkward digging into each plate and destroying the artful presentation. The way that each dish was prepared was unique and all of the dishes were rich in flavor. My favorite dishes of the evening were the Brussels sprouts (from the dirt list) and the lavender-lemon glazed cheesecake with toasted pistachios. Honestly, I seriously considered licking the plate clean, but managed to hold myself back.

I would highly recommend a visit to Vedge for those seeking a truly different dining experience in Philadelphia.

* all photos from the Vedge website

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What's Baking: Dump Cake

The name may not be appetizing, but the resulting cake sure is. This recipe belongs firmly in the not-exactly-less-processed-well-okay-not-less-processed-at-all camp, but hey, I like to make exceptions every once in a while. This cake is firmly planted in my childhood, and commonly made an appearance when my parents hosted bridge at our house. I was always happy when there were leftovers after everyone had left for the evening. This super-easy-to-bake cake is yummy served on its own, or add a dollop of whipped cream to make it an extra-special treat.

Dump Cake (printer-friendly version)
makes 12-16 servings

1 package yellow cake mix
1 20-oz can crushed pineapple in juice, undrained
1 20-oz can cherry pie filling
1 1/2 cups pecans, chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into thin slices

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
3. Dump the undrained pineapple into the baking dish and spread evenly.
4. Dump the cherry pie filling into the baking dish and spread evenly over the pineapple layer.
5. Dump (does the cake name make sense now?) the dry cake mix over top the cherry pie filling layer; spread evenly.
6. Sprinkle the chopped pecans over the cake mix layer.
7. Distribute the slices of butter evenly over the top of the pecans.
8. Bake for 48-53 minutes, or until golden-brown and bubbly.
9. Serve warm or cool with whipped cream, if desired.

(recipe courtesy of my Mom)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My Beach Essentials


1. I am a strictly-in-the-shade kind of gal. A big old beach umbrella, putting me fully out of the way of the sun, is a must.


2. However, you can't avoid the sun all the time, so I will also be slathering on a lot of sunscreen. The Environmental Working Group recommends these sunscreens.


3. I was not cut out for sitting out and sunning on the beach -- I get bored easily. Last year I brought a bunch of magazines to read while sitting in the shade; this year I will be bringing my Kindle Fire with me. I've loaded my Kindle with a wide-range of magazine titles, many of which I haven't had a chance to read in a few months. I'm looking forward to catching up on my reading while sitting in the sand. And if I get super-bored, I can always download and watch a movie or TV show via my Amazon Prime membership. (Seriously, so worth the annual fee, IMHO.)


4. Lots of cool drinks are essential in the Florida heat. I'm thinking sangria could be a delicious option after a day spent in the sun. I'll be partaking in the alcoholic kind (I think this recipe would be perfect), but for those who can't partake, I think the non-alcoholic version pictured above from The Kitchn would be an awesome alternative.

What are your must-haves for a beach vacation?


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

What I'm Getting Excited For: SPRING BREAK!

{from my bachelorette party in 2009; is it possible to photobomb your own photo?}

Early tomorrow morning I'm headed to Florida to meet up with some of my favorite girls. We've been friends since our days as grad students at Indiana University. (This year marks the 10th anniversary of when most of us first met - has it really been that long?!) To say that I am excited to hang out with my girls would be a major understatement -- it's been way too long since we were last all together. Which, if I am remembering correctly, last happened in October 2010. We've had mini-reunions in the meantime, including getting together with the majority of the gang for a baby shower last January, and a beach vacay with six of us this past August. But I'm definitely looking forward to catching up with the whole gang this week. 

On the agenda? Lots of gossip, relaxing on the beach, eating too much bad-for-you-food, and getting a much-needed overdose of estrogen. 


Monday, May 14, 2012

What's For Dessert: Strawberries and Cream Puffs

I picked up a quart of organic strawberries at the market yesterday, and as I was trying to figure out what to do with them, the idea to bake up a batch of cream puffs crossed my mind. It seemed like a fancier option than making shortcakes (which I've done before, anyway), so . . . cream puffs it was! They were actually quite easy to make, though they seemed to de-puff slightly once I pulled them out of the oven. Regardless of their puff level, they were still quite tasty, and a great combination with some freshly whipped cream and of course, the fresh strawberries, which inspired it all.

Strawberries and Cream Puffs (printer-friendly version)
makes 12 cream puffs

1 cup water
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon lavender vanilla bean sugar [optional]
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1 quart organic strawberries, hulled, quartered, and mashed
2 cups whipped cream

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a Silpat on a baking sheet and set aside. (Alternately, lightly grease the baking sheet with cooking spray.)
2. Add the water, butter, salt, and lavender vanilla bean sugar [optional] to a medium sauce pot.
3. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to combine the ingredients.
4. Once the mixture begins to boil, add in the flour and stir vigorously. Continue stirring until the dough forms into a ball.
5. Remove from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
6. Stir in the eggs one a time, stirring with a wooden spoon in between additions to fully integrate each egg into the dough.
7. Drop large spoonfuls of dough onto the prepped baking sheet.
8. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the puffs are golden brown and dry to the touch.
9. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
10. To make the strawberry cream puffs, prepare a batch of whipped cream.
11. Cut the tops off of the cream puffs, and remove the dough from the center of the puff.
12. Fill the puffs with a small scoop of fresh mashed strawberries, a dollop of whipped cream, and another small scoop of mashed strawberries. Replace the top of the puff. Sift powdered sugar over the top if desired and serve.

Friday, May 11, 2012

What's Baking: Chocolate-Coconut Banana Bread

I had a couple of frozen bananas in the freezer, so as part of my pre-move clean-it-out program, I decided to make another loaf of banana bread. A secondary name for this loaf could be "toss-it-in-if-you-got-it" banana bread, as I added in a little bit of some of my favorite things -- namely, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and coconut. The resulting banana bread is flavorful and pairs quite nicely with an afternoon cup of tea.

Chocolate-Coconut Banana Bread (printer-friendly version)
makes one large loaf

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cake flour
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/4 t kosher salt
1/4 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut
3-4 ripe bananas, mashed

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease (use cooking spray or rub with butter) one large (9-inch) loaf pan.
3. In an electric mixer bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well.
4. Sift together the flours, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and coconut.
5. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and mashed banana to the butter-sugar-egg-vanilla mixture. Stir between additions by hand.
6. Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
7. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until a knife or toothpick inserted into the bread center comes out clean.
8. Remove the bread from the oven and place pan on wire rack. Allow bread to cool in pan for 10 minutes.
9. After 10 minutes, remove the bread from the pan and allow to cool completely on the wire rack.
10. Wrap in aluminum foil, and store in the fridge for up to a week. (If it lasts that long!)


Thursday, May 10, 2012

What's For Dinner: Baked Herbes de Provence Salmon

D was in charge of dinner last night, and he opted to make salmon for our meal. The salmon was served alongside green beans and corn on the cob. I opted to add a little green salad (with a healthy dose of pecans and goat cheese along with a balsamic vinaigrette) to my plate as well.

Baked Herbes de Provence Salmon (printer-friendly version)
makes two servings

2 6-oz salmon fillets
2 teaspoons olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
fine sea salt
1/2 lemon
2 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence
1 head of garlic, the top chopped off to expose the cloves

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cover a baking sheet aluminum foil.
3. Place the salmon on the prepped baking sheet.
4. Brush each fillet with a teaspoon of olive oil.
5. Season each fillet with salt and pepper.
6. Squeeze lemon juice over each fillet. Place the lemon half on the baking sheet next to the fillets.
7. Use a fine grater to finely grate one garlic clove over top each fillet.
8. Season each fillet with about a teaspoon of Herbes de Provence.
9. Place the garlic head on the baking sheet next to the fillets.
10. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What's For Dessert: Jeni's Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

I've made vanilla ice cream before, but I was intrigued by the recipes for Jeni's ice cream that I've seen floating around the web of late. Jeni is an artisan ice cream maker based in the Columbus, Ohio area, and is also author of the cookbook Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home.

I first decided to try my hand at making one of Jeni's ice cream recipes after salivating my way through a number of posts on Sheri's blog, where she posted a number of links to Jeni's ice cream recipes. I decided that I would go with plain ol' vanilla bean ice cream for my first try. Unlike the ice cream recipes I've made in the past, this recipe lacks eggs, and uses cornstarch and cream cheese as thickeners. Jeni's ice cream recipes also suggesting freezing the ice cream for an additional four hours after making it to create a firm texture; I think it would be fine to serve it soft from the ice cream maker. (That and maybe I'm just not patient enough to wait an additional four hours to eat my ice cream!) Regardless of whether you wait to try it or not, the resulting ice cream is thick, creamy, and full of delicious vanilla-bean flavor. It's tasty on its own, but it doesn't hurt to add a little homemade hot fudge sauce and sprinkles on top, too.

You can find the recipe for Jeni's Vanilla Bean Ice Cream on Food & Wine's website. The Food & Wine article also includes recipes for pistachio ice cream, mint ice cream, lemon-blueberry frozen yogurt, strawberry frozen yogurt, melon sorbet, and sour-cherry lambic sorbet. Looks like I've got a lot more experimenting with my ice cream maker to do!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Made From Scratch: Simple Tomato Sauce

Since we move in just over a month, I've been put in charge of cleaning out our pantry and freezer as much as possible. Tonight's pasta dinner took care of almost an entire box of chopped tomatoes and a package of frozen tortellini. However, I did buy a bottle of olive oil today, as we recently ran out. Given our olive oil consumption rate, however, I'm pretty sure we'll finish it before the movers arrive.

Simple Tomato Sauce (printer-friendly version)
makes about 2 cups

1 teaspoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cups chopped tomatoes (I like Pomi brand)
1 teaspoon dried oregano (I like to pronounce it or-ih-gah-no, like Nigella Lawson)
fine sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Add the olive oil to a medium-size sauce pot. Heat over medium-low heat.
2. Add the minced garlic and chopped shallot and cook until fragrant, around 2-3 minutes. Watch the garlic to ensure it doesn't burn.
3. Stir in the crushed tomatoes.
4. Season with oregano and salt and pepper to taste.
5. Reduce the heat and simmer until ready to serve.

Monday, May 7, 2012

What's For Breakfast: Coconut Waffles

D requested waffles on Saturday morning and I was happy to make up a batch. There was even enough batter left over to make a second batch on Sunday morning after we completed our 10-mile race. (Give the large size of these waffles they are quite filling.) Though I made plain waffles for D, I amped mine up slightly with the addition of some finely shredded coconut. If you don't want to make a full batch of coconut waffles, just add about 1 teaspoon of shredded coconut per 1/2 cup of batter for each individual coconut waffle.

Coconut Waffles (printer-friendly version)
makes six waffles

1 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut
3 eggs
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 1/2 cups organic skim milk

1. Sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and shredded coconut.
2. In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, melted butter, and milk.
3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Stir until the ingredients are just combined.
4. Cook the waffles according to your waffle iron's directions. (I used about 1/2 cup of batter per waffle with my waffle iron.)
5. Serve with maple syrup and/or whipped cream if you're feeling fancy.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Friday Five

1. Today marked the first day of frappuccino happy hour at Starbucks. I marked the occasion with a delicious tall mocha coconut frappaccuno with just a smidge of whip cream. Delish. A perfect match to today's warm and sunny weather.

2. Moving is in full force around these parts. We're getting close to my favorite part -- being surrounded by piles and piles of boxes. And by "my favorite," I mean "the part I hate the most."

3. The ol' ten-miler is on Sunday. It should be interesting. Let's just say that my training program is about 90% mental, 9.9% taper, and %.1 percent running. I'm not looking forward to the early wake-up call on Sunday morning, but I think the run itself should be fun.


4. Given the warmer weather, we have made a few trips to Rita's lately. It's rather dangerous that the nearest Rita's is just a few blocks from our apartment! Thought last year my go-to flavor was lemon, I read in the latest issue of Philadelphia Magazine that the top-selling water ice flavor at Rita's is mango. I gave it a whirl, and it is quite delicious. I really need to make some mango sorbet at home one of these days.


5. I keep seeing recipes to Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream. I think making a batch is definitely going on my schedule for this weekend. We still have a few waffle cones ready in reserve! Saveur, the Kitchn, and Food & Wine offer a bunch of great options to try.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

What's For Dinner: Peanut Noodle Stir Fry

I can confirm that, while eating PB2 straight-up as peanut butter is not enjoyable (to me, anyway), it does work wonderfully in a peanut sauce. Tonight's dinner was one of those throw-a-bunch-of-things-together-and-hope-it-works kind of meals. Luckily, it did work. This dish included a (frozen) veggie blend (with carrots, broccoli, and water chestnuts), a scrambled egg, dry-fried tofu (cooked chicken for D), and rice noodles, all topped with a peanut sauce (recipe below).

Peanut Sauce (printer-friendly version)
makes enough for 2 servings

4 tablespoons PB2
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons tamari (or soy) sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1. Mix together the PB2 powder and water until smooth.
2. Stir in the sesame oil, tamari sauce, and brown sugar.
3. Stir in the red pepper flakes (use more or less, depending on your favored spice level).
4. Add the sauce into the stir fry once everything is cooked and let simmer for one or two minutes; reserve some sauce to drizzle over the top of the completed dish.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What's To Drink: Minty Mojitos

Our mint is growing like crazy out back (given our mild winter, I don't think it ever stopped growing last year!), so when I was at the grocery store this week, I made sure to pick up a few limes to make a batch of mojitos. This minty drink pairs well with a hot summer day. That and a bowl full of homemade guacamole and a bag of chips!

Minty Mojitos (printer-friendly version)
makes 2 drinks

12 mint leaves, rinsed and torn into small pieces
2 oz fresh lime juice, divided
1 tablespoon raw sugar, divided
ice cubes
5 oz rum, divided
4 oz club soda, divided

1. Add half the mint leaves, 1 oz lime juice, and 1/2 tablespoon of sugar to the bottom of a 8 oz glass. Muddle the mint leaves. (I used the bottom end of a wooden spoon since I don't have a muddler.)
2. Fill the glass with ice cubes.
3. Add 2 1/2 oz rum and 2 oz soda; stir to mix. Repeat with the second glass.
4. Drink up!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What's Baking: Banana Coconut Bread

I woke up this morning with the feeling that a cold was coming on, so I decided to start my day by baking a loaf of banana bread. (You gotta love how fast quick breads come together!) I used my standard recipe from my Mom, but switched things up a little bit by using both brown and granulated sugars, cake and AP flour, and I also added in some unsweetened finely shredded coconut to the mix, too. The coconut adds a (very!) subtle flavor and slight crunch to the bread -- a nice addition, indeed. Served alongside a cup of green tea, this bread makes an ideal option for a mid-morning or late-afternoon snack.

Banana Coconut Bread (printer-friendly version)
makes one large loaf

1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/4 t kosher salt
1/4 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut
4 super-ripe bananas, mashed

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease (use cooking spray or rub with butter) one large (9-inch) loaf pan.
3. In an electric mixer bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well.
4. Sift together the flours, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and coconut.
5. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and mashed banana to the butter-sugar-egg-vanilla mixture. Stir between additions by hand.
6. Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
7. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until a knife or toothpick inserted into the bread center comes out clean.
8. Remove the bread from the oven and place pan on wire rack. Allow bread to cool in pan for 10 minutes.
9. After 10 minutes, remove the bread from the pan and allow to cool completely on the wire rack.
10. Wrap in aluminum foil, and store in the fridge for up to a week. (If it lasts that long!)

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