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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cherry Berry Breakfast Smoothie

After a week of eating out, Ryan and I both woke up craving something healthy and light for breakfast. Since we have plenty of fruit in the freezer, I pulled out some tart cherries and strawberries to put in the blender and made this:

It was based on a recipe from Shape magazine called Tangy Cherry-Berry Sipper. Here is my adaptation:

Cherry Berry Breakfast Smoothie
(serves 2)

1 cup frozen strawberries
1 cup pitted tart cherries
1 cup lowfat plain yogurt
1 tbsp wheat germ
2 tbsp honey
2 tsp vanilla
½ cup ice
½ cup cherry juice (or use cranberry juice)
½ cup water

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into two glasses and serve with a straw.

I love smoothies and it’s a good way to pack in fruits and/or veggies quickly any time of day.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Best Popcorn!

Another week has flown by. With work projects during the day and social engagements in the evening, I haven’t cooked much this week. Our fridge is bare and in dire need of replenishment which in turn means my blog is a little bare too. Sorry, friends! Luckily I have all weekend to get back into the cooking groove.

Earlier this week I attended a going away party for a friend in downtown Minneapolis (at Brit’s – yay!) and since the weather was so miserable (uber windy, cold and rainy), I decided to hop on the bus, stay for a couple hours and then ride back home. That way I didn’t have to sit in traffic, worry about being blown off the road, and best of all, I could read the newest issue of Bon Appétit.

I’m really digging Andrew Knowlton’s writing, so as a new subscriber, I’m eager to read more of his stuff. In the Bon Appétit Foodist column, he mentioned that some movie theaters use coconut oil to pop their kernels, which got me excited to try something new. I bookmarked the page and as soon as I got home, I made some popcorn.

Here’s my method of making popcorn.

1.) Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons oil (in this case, coconut oil)
2.) With the oil, add 2 kernels of popcorn and cover pan with a lid
3.) Once the kernels pop, add 1/3 cup of popcorn, cover again, and remove from heat for 30 seconds
4.) Return to heat and pop until popping slows down to 1 pop every couple seconds
5.) Add your favorite toppings and serve

I love salted butter on my popcorn along with a little salt and pepper. If I feel fancy, I’ll go with freshly grated parmesan cheese and/or nutritional yeast. This night, I pulled out the butter (to melt in the same pan after popping popcorn) and look what I found:

Mini sticks of butter! I was so excited that I must have let out a squeal because Ryan came running, wondering what was wrong. After he confirmed I was okay, he also got excited about these perfectly-sized sticks of butter. Love it! (Note: I don’t usually buy Land O’ Lakes butter, so forgive me if I’m way behind the times in this discovery.)

The popcorn made with coconut oil was completely awesome. There were only hints of coconut in the finished product and I kept muttering, “Oh my gosh this is so good, so good, so good!” I’m sure I said it at least 10 times. Another sign it was good? Ryan ate his entire bowl. Usually when I’m finished with mine, I start on the rest of his, but no luck this time.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Salted Pumpkin Seed Trio

I hope you are all had a chance to enjoy a pumpkin spice latte by now. I am currently obsessed, so until all my pumpkin puree is gone, I’m going to keep enjoying!

Since I roasted my pumpkin and used the flesh, you’re probably wondering, what about the seeds?!? I love making fun pumpkin seeds and experimenting with flavors. This year’s batch was the best – the seeds were evenly coated in salt and baked up perfectly.

After rinsing and air-drying the pumpkin seeds, I prepared the salt mixtures in three bowls. Using Bacon Salt (given to me by a friend), Smoked Sea Salt and Sel de Cuisine (both from Golden Fig), I stirred a couple pinches with a teaspoon or two of canola oil until the salt dissolved a bit. Dividing the seeds between the three bowls, each batch was tossed until coated and spread on a rimmed cookie sheet to bake at 400° for 10 minutes.

Bacon Salt
Smoked Sea Salt
Sel de Cuisine

Yum! Pumpkin seeds are a great snack and so easy to make. How do you dress up your pumpkin seeds?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Lattes

Mmm…coffee. It is weird to think that just a few years ago I didn’t consider myself a coffee drinker. I much preferred other sources of caffeine like Red Bull or Coca Cola if I needed an extra kick, but never thought it worked well for me. Instead of being perky and alert, I’d usually end up with a dizzy headache and vow to never drink caffeine again.

A few years ago, something changed. I started liking coffee in small amounts and the headaches subsided. I began to look forward to the seasonal times when I could order a pumpkin spice latte, a ho ho mocha and a fa la latte and discuss the merits of this year’s spice blend with colleagues as we walked back to our cubicles.

Gone are the days of spending $4-5 for a latte (did you hear we’re in a recession, people?) and since I now work from home, driving to a coffee shop each morning isn’t too appealing (plus, I’d have to get out of my pajamas before noon). Instead, I drink black coffee 3 times per week and make fancy coffees on the weekends.

This past weekend, I had the urge for a pumpkin spice latte and just happened to have leftover pumpkin puree from a baking project. I scoured the internet for a good recipe and was surprised that several recipes (from trusted sources) didn’t even include pumpkin in the ingredients. Say what?

Luckily, I found this recipe on The Kitchn (which, by the way, is the host for The Kitchen Cure, which I’ll be participating in) and it was outstanding! My version is similar to the original, but with some changes, which I included below. I brew my coffee in a French press using Peace Coffee. We usually get 3 cups of coffee per pot, which is plenty for the two of us.

Pumpkin Spice Latte
makes 2 servings

1 cup milk
1 tablespoon pumpkin puree (or canned pumpkin)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 cups strongly brewed coffee

In a small saucepan combine milk, pumpkin and sugar and cook on medium heat, stirring, until steaming. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and pumpkin pie spice, transfer to a blender and process for 15 seconds until foamy. If you don’t have a blender, use a wire whisk or shake the mixture in a mason jar.

Divide the milk mixture between two mugs. Add hot coffee and enjoy!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Glorious Punjab!

I had the most amazing meal over the weekend! A group of us went to Cooper in the West End (aka St. Louis Park) for Ryan’s sister’s birthday celebration. Since I had a gift certificate, it was a great restaurant to pick (thanks, Rachel!).

Cooper is pretty neat inside and similar to the new Kieran’s (same owner), it has thick curtains, dark woods and intricate wall decorations, making you think it’s an old-timey restaurant when really it was built in the last couple years.  Bonus points for graciously serving a party of 16 without any problems.

Looking over the menu filled with Irish fare, one item jumped out at me as pretty unique, the Punjab Glory. It was a surprising discovery to find such a great vegetarian dish on the menu and we just had to try it.

Tender carrots, green beans and cauliflower were tossed in curry spices and coconut milk and served alongside tender black lentils and basmati rice with little bursts of golden raisins. Talk about awesome! Everything was cooked perfectly and the flavors were on point. If only Cooper were closer to my home, I’d order this for takeout on a regular basis. Guess I just have to try to recreate it at home.

Have you ever been to Cooper? What did you think?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Blogger Bowling

It’s been a crazy few days, hence the lack of blogging. I still have so much to share, so let’s back up to the weekend – Friday to be specific.

I’ve known Catherine (of Food Snob fame) since I first started blogging. I’m sure you’ve heard me talk about her before. Her boyfriend, Dan, is a musician and I’ve wanted to see him play for quite some time, but haven’t been able to make it work until now. So, we had a little blogger meet-up at Memory Lanes for some bowling and music. 

As you can see, Ryan is by far the best bowler of the group (it seems to come naturally to him – even left handed!), the rest of us are just happy to come close to 100.
Horrible picture, I know!
After bowling, we sat down with some “gourmet popcorn” and waited for the band to come on stage (which was located actually ON the bowling lanes).

Dan plays drums for Party of One and it was fun to see him play – finally!

Dan is the blurry one playing drums.
It was a fun, laid back kind of night which was just what I needed.
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