This past weekend I traveled out to “the burbs” to visit my friends’ new apartment. I had every intention of making them a batch of the best blueberry muffins as a house warming gift. That was until I ran out of flour.
And then after I made an extra trip to the store for flour, I came home to realize I didn’t have muffin liners. So, sorry Jenlo and Greg - this batch would have been for you if not for all my miss-takes :)
Recipe sourced from Smitten Kitchen
(Makes 9 to 10 standard muffins)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter , softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (I used frozen, don’t bother defrosting)
optional: 2 tsp Sugar In The Raw or one packet (swiped from your local coffee shop ☺ )
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Line a muffin tin with 10 paper liners or spray each cup with a nonstick spray.
3. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
4. Add egg and beat well, then yogurt and zest.
5. Put flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a sifter and sift half of dry ingredients over batter. Mix until combined. Sift remaining dry ingredients into batter and mix just until the flour disappears.
6. Gently fold in your blueberries. The dough will be quite thick (and even thicker, if you used a full-fat Greek-style yogurt), closer to a cookie dough
7. Use an ice cream scoop or heaping spoon size amount to load the dough into each muffin cup. Each cup should be about 3/4 full.
8. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until tops are golden and a tester inserted into the center of muffins comes out clean.
Optional - if you enjoy a sugary crystal muffin top, about half-way through the bake time, remove muffins and sprinkle Sugar In The Raw over each muffin cup. Continue baking.
The Oscar’s are Hollywood’s equivalent to the Super Bowl. Nominees were announced for the coveted “Best Picture” award, and I’m dying to know what all the buzz is about for a few of the “best” movies I still haven’t seen. If you’re the type who hates to feel like you’re not in the know, there’s an easy option to make sure you see all the films before the big day:
Select AMC theaters across the US offer packaged deals where you can see a few or even ALL 9 nominees for Best Picture in one shot for only $60!! Considering that one movie in the city costs as much as $14, this is a deal alert.
Saturday, Feb. 16 - 4 movies for $60 (perhaps this could be a late Valentine’s Day present for your movie-loving partner).
- Les Miserables
- Django Unchained
Saturday, Feb. 23 - 5 movies for $60
- Beasts of the Southern Wild
- Life of Pi (3D)
- Silver Linings Playbook
- Zero Dark Thirty
Saturday Feb 23 - Marathon event, all 9 movies for just $60!
Here’s a full list participating theaters across the us. A friend told me that theaters give you the option to step out and return if you’ve seen one of the movies, but I’d call your local theater beforehand to be sure.
I like a salad that feels healthy but doesn’t leave me hungry. After a recent ‘ladies lunch’ with friends at Le Pain Quotiedien ( locations all over the North East and California), I had a hearty salad that was good enough to leave a memory.
A full week later, I was wanting to recreate (or Miss-interpret) Le Pain Quotidien’s Tuscan Salad. Luckily most of the ingredients were staples I already had in my pantry or fridge (stale bread, canned beans, frozen pesto cube) so it was super easy to whip up. And, I must admit, tasted just like the restaurant version.
Hearty Tuscan Salad
Recipe miss-interpreted from Le Pain Quotidien’s menu
1 frozen pesto cube (recipe here) or 2 tablespoons jarred pesto sauce
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
stale bread for croutons - cut into cubes and lightly toasted with olive oil
3-5 slices thinly sliced prosciutto
7 oz (1/2 can) of cannellini beans - thoroughly rinsed and drained
Arugula or mesclun greens
(optional) Parmesan shavings + chopped fresh basil (if available) to sprinkle over the final salad
1. Cube and toast bread for croutons.
2. In a medium bowl, combine croutons and beans and toss in the pesto to coat evenly.
3. Add arugula to bowl, drizzle with olive oil and toss all ingredients together again.
4. Move the salad (with beans and croutons) to a large, family style plate. Top with slices of prosciutto and parmesan shavings.
It’s freezing! And if you’ve had a look at the 10-day forecast, you know it’s not expected to reach above 25 degrees (or “feels like” 11 degrees) anytime soon. Bundling up and staying indoors is an option, but a date night, fireside is an even better option to warm right up. Here are a few of my favorite NYC spots to cozy up fireside:
La Laterna di Vittorino
Neighborhood: Greenwich Village, Manhattan
Menu: Italian - Great wood fired pizza
Fireplace: Grab a table downstairs for fireside dinning AND (bonus!) sweet sounds of live jazz
Neighborhood: Gramercy, Manhattan
Menu: Classic Irish Pub fare and some of the best burgers around
Fireplace: In the central dining room looking as rustic as the rest of the place (sawdust on the floor)
Neighborhood: Carol Gardens/Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
Menu: Specialty cocktails
Fireplace: Located in the back room and available to be reserved for larger parties
Blind Tiger Ale House
Neighborhood: Greenwich Village, Manhattan
Menu: pub fare with a “farm-to-table” vibe + wide selection of craft beers
Fireplace: Front and center across from the bar. Grab a table or a stool and cozy up
I’ve heard time and time again, one of the best ways to keep it healthy is to make it yourself. Even when you think you’re making a healthy choice while eating out, you have no idea what ingredients (i.e loads of butter, salt, or even preservatives) that went into that tasty meal. I’ve been on a homemade kick more than usual since I received an amazing Cuisinart Food Processor over the holidays.
One of the first things I made was this roasted red pepper hummus. It’s exceptionally great because it’s packed with good-for-you protein but it also tastes wonderfully fresh. I brought this dip to a New Year’s Eve pre-game and the bowl was quickly scraped clean with compliments to the chef. That’s always a pretty good indicator that a recipe is a keeper!
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Recipe adapted from Cuisine Art handbook
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 small cloves garlic
1 can (28-oz or 2 smaller cans) of chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and rinsed again
3 tablespoons Tahini
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
5 tablespoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 drained roasted red pepers (for show, save and roughly chop some pepper to top off the hummus dip as pictured above)
1. Using the metal chopping blade on a food processor, add garlic. Pulse 3-5 times until finely chopped.
2. All all remaining ingredients into the bowl (chickpeas, lemon zest, lemon juice, tahini, water, cumin) and process for about 45 seconds or until relatively smooth.
3. Continue to process and pour in olive oil through the feed tube.
4. Drop in the roasted red peppers and continue to pulse to desired consistency of the peppers.
5. Transfer the contents into a new bowl and serve with crackers, raw veggies or pita chips for dipping.
Cook’s note: Go beyond just dipping with the hummus as a snack/appetizer and use it as a healthy alternative spread on sandwiches - like my roasted vegetables and hummus sandwich.
Although it’s going against my saving plan, it still feels like I’m being smarter with $$ because it’s discounted (did I rationalize that well enough?☺)
NY Times “Critic’s Picks” round out with shows like Rock of Ages, Once, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and Who’s afraid of Virgina Woolf - all of which are now offering 2-for-1 tickets through Broadway Week. They also have some of the blockbuster productions like Lion King, Jersey Boys, and Wicked for the same deal.
For more tips on selecting the right Restaurant Week dining options, check out this post.
After the new year when your sleep is all messed up from staying out late and sleeping in over break or over-eating and over-drinking, it’s important to get back to some normalcy [in bed]. And have I mentioned that work is nuts lately?? I know, I know I’ll stop. But just as much as I’m trying to find time to eat right, I’m also trying to make the most of my sleeping time - which is why my new eye mask is coming in quite handy.
You can make an eye mask, too, with this super easy sewing 101 tutorial.
I followed the sewing tutorial and mimicked the free pattern from this site.
I had all the materials on hand:
- Fabric scrap (you don’t need much!). I used a patterned cotton for the one side and a silkier fabric for the underside (the side that rests on your face) which was left over from a skirt lining.
- Fabric batting, or felt (for the insides to add a little cushion)
- 1/4” elastic
- The staples: sewing machine, thread, scissors, pins, iron
It was easy enough to make in just about 20 minutes so I made an extra eye mask for a friend about to go on a lonnnnggg plane trip.
Work has been super busy since December with no signs of slowing down. I’ve been missing lunches, sitting down to ravenous dinners at 9 pm and becoming quite familiar with the local delivery guys since I’m just too tired to cook (or post much on the blog - sorry!). So I decided it was high time to make some big food decisions. I’m packing more snacks for work and taking advantage of any meals I can make ahead or keep simple during the week.
Sunday slow cooking is my new BiFF. Make a big batch, eat it for dinner, package it for weekday work lunches, and freeze leftovers for easy dinners on another night. I have a few staple crock pot recipes like these, and I’m adding this warm and filling Chili recipe to the rotation.
Smokey Slow Cooker Chili
Recipe sourced from Real Simple
2 15.5-ounce cans kidney beans, rinsed
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
12 ounces lager beer
3/4 pound beef chuck, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 to 3 teaspoons chopped chipotles in adobo sauce (scrape out some seeds if you can’t stand the heat, but this is where the “smokey flavor” comes from)
Optional: corn bread, sour cream, grated Cheddar, and/or fresh cilantro sprigs, for serving
1. Prep all your ingredients: Chop onion and garlic. Cut up beef chuck if needed (most grocery stores sell it pre-cut). Open your cans. Dice and de-seed (as necessary depending how much heat you like) the chipotles.
2. In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, mix together the beans, tomatoes and their juices, beer, beef, yellow onion, garlic, tomato paste, flour, chili powder, chipotles, and ¾ teaspoon salt.
3. Cover and cook until the beef is tender, on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours (this will shorten total recipe time). That’s it!
4. Serve with the corn bread, sour cream, and grated cheddar.
Cook’s note: Although the taste was there, I wanted to thicken the chili up a bit so I took about half the pot poured into a food processor with only 1-2 quick pulses with the chopping blade. I mixed that back in with the rest of the chili in the slow cooker and it did the trick. An immersion blender would be even better if you have that.