a cruel April Fool’s Day


What do you do when all of your dreams come true? You sit back, appreciate it and think of what comes next. I think you do the same when your dreams don’t come true, when you are at a loss for words. You give thanks for what good things you still have and you reassess. And then, if you’re me, you bake cookies. I made muffins this morning in anticipation of the impending decision, and managed to screw up my own recipe. The muffins are hideous and a little moist but they are still a muffin thank goodness. Though I do have 24 ‘not quite’ muffins and more batter in the fridge to deal with now. The cookies however, I started yesterday before my nerves got unruly. I knew I would need something in the oven when I learned of my fate – good or bad. And something idiot proof… think scoop & bake. Easy.

My future husband  is a cynic while I am superstitious, he’s not so sure about religion and all while I’m pretty spiritual. Our difference here comes into play during situations like this.  He says try again, just keep pushing whilst I try to figure out the bigger picture and the message within it all. Who’s right? Not a clue. I can’t tell if it’s some higher power telling me that maybe I should reassess my goals or if it’s my hurt pride that doesn’t want to be rejected again. Maybe a bit of both? Only time will tell.

Here’s what I know I am: a wife (close enough), a daughter, a sister, a friend, a two-time internship/grad school reject…. ouch.

What do you make for your first meal after such a heartbreak? Scallops. With brown rice, a touch of bacon, and some green beans. You stay on plan because now isn’t the time to completely jump ship. Now is the time to zero in on priorities. Now is the time to really take care of yourself and what says taking care of yourself better than a healthy dinner with a dose of bacon with a chocolate chip cookie chaser? Not much.

Heart-Break Scallops

  • 10 ounces scallops
  • 1 cup green beans, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 4 slices center-cut bacon, quartered
  • Chicken stock
  • Salt, Pepper
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  1. In a large skillet, cook bacon according to package instructions. Once browned remove to plate with paper towel to drain.
  2. Season scallops with salt and pepper and add to skillet. Cook until tender and opaque, about 3 minutes on each side.
  3. Meanwhile, steam green beans until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes in the microwave.
  4. Remove scallops from pan and let rest with bacon.
  5. Deglaze pan with a splash (about 3 tablespoons) of chicken stock and bring to a boil. Be sure to scrape the browned bits up and let the sauce thicken.
  6. Add scallops, green beans, bacon and tomatoes to the pan and cook 1-2 minutes ensuring all ingredients are coated by the sauce.
  7. Serve over brown rice.

Lumpy Path Cookies

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 ounces unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup bread flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut
  1. In a large bowl combine dry ingredients – salt, baking powder, flours, chocolate, oats and coconut; set aside.
  2. Cream butter, applesauce and sugars together on medium speed of electric mixer. Beat in eggs and vanilla extract until light, fluffy and well-combined.
  3. Add dry ingredients to the wet in thirds until just combined.
  4. Let the ingredients marry – allow the mix to chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
  5. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by lining with parchment paper and spraying with non-stick spray.
  6. Bake 16-18 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through cook-time.
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Quality time with mom


So a few weeks ago my mom came to visit. It was a whirlwind weekend, but we got a lot done and it was nice to spend some quality time with her. The majority of our work was for the wedding but we did some serious eating while she was here to. There were 3 places I had to introduce her to. Pita Jungle, Sprinkles, and Seasons 52. Yummy… Such a yummy weekend. Falafel, hummus, cupcakes and salads… Especially because she brough cake pops! oh my… I must make these once I have guaranteed someone to help me eat them (Jen, Gina… ahem).

I did so well taking photos early in the day… But by the time we scarfed down cupcakes I was almost comatose and thus there are no dinner photos. Please forgive me. I promise to return to Seasons 52 to get you photos… Maybe a lunch shot would be more successful.

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breakfast staple


Okay people. I have done it! Finally after many attempts I have found the recipe (and successfully executed said recipe) for super crunchy and chunky granola. In past recipes I had problems with not enough clusters, basically my sauce wasn’t sticky enough so the pieces didn’t clump. The flavor has always been there but I was missing the secret ingredient. What is it you ask?! Well, it’s brown rice syrup. I know! I had no idea such a thing existed either. It is a life (granola) saver, let me tell you… I was so overjoyed when this batch came out of the oven. It was a big victory for me. This product is well worth the trip to Whole Foods to grab a jar, and while you are there you can also grab the yummy raw nuts and unsweetened shredded coconut. So are you ready for your new favorite, go-to granola recipe??

Classic Granola adapted from here and here.

  • 6 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups mixed raw nuts – I used sunflower seeds, walnuts and pecans but this is very flexible
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (optional but super yummy)
  • 1 cup brown rice syrup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Dash salt
  • 1 tablespoon chunky peanut butter, unsalted
  • 1 cup dried fruit – I used cherries and blueberries

Heat oven to 325. On a large baking sheet toast oats approximately 5-10 minutes, stirring regularly. Add coconut and nuts to oats and toast an additional 5-10 minutes, again stirring regularly. Meanwhile combine brown sugar, rice syrup and peanut butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir well and cook until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. In a large bowl combine all ingredients – toasted dry ingredients and the slightly cooled syrup/sauce. Mix well to ensure all pieces are coated. Spoon mix on to parchment-lined cookie sheet and press flat. Bake for approximately 20 minutes stirring every 5-10 minutes to ensure all parts get good and crispy brown.

Here’s the bad news faithful readers… This makes a TON of granola (>8 cups or nearly 30 servings) but the standard serving size for granola is 1/4 cup and granola is pretty calorie (and point) dense 5 points plus per serving!! So self-restraint is necessary here.

If you don’t know where to start on the flavor/seasoning front I always go for what’s in my house. So this week it was sunflower seeds, walnuts, pecans, cherries and blueberries. Another favorite of my combos is apricots, dates and cranberries. I have also done one with cherries, soy nuts and walnuts with mini chocolate chips. You could also do one that is more fall-like with apples and cranberries and go a little heavier on the cinnamon and halve the salt. Really it’s up to you and what ingredients you have on hand.


Must-Have List for a Blissful Kitchen: Breakfast Edition


Here are my go-to items to ensure I can always whip up a healthy breakfast in no time. This list will provide you with the ingredients for everything from smoothies, to toast with peanut butter to waffles or pancakes and everything in between.

Frozen Berries Low-fat granola All-Purpose Flour Mixed Nuts
Other frozen fruits: banans, mango, pineapple, etc Dijon Mustard Baking Powder Peanut Butter
Raw Nuts Egg Substitute Baking Soda Roasted Red Peppers
Vegetable Blends Eggs Brown Sugar Vegetable Oil
Whole Wheat Waffles FF/LF Cheese Cinnamon Whole Wheat Flour
Fresh Fruit: variety of in season items FF/LF Milk Coconut – shredded Whole-Grain Breakfast Cereal
Dried Fruit – variety FF/LF Spreads (cream cheese) Cornmeal Light Whole-Grain Breads
Granulated Sugar FF/LF Yogurt Lettuce, variety Sugar Substitute
Honey Ketchup & Hot Sauce Kosher Salt Cooking Spray

this week’s granola


As you probably know by now, Carver and I really like granola. Last week a friend suggested I try one of her favorite recipes, Homemade Cranberry Nut Granola. She mentioned that she makes a double batch so it will last her longer. My favorite recipe is from Ina Garten, found here. This new recipe comes from Giada, and I sort of joined the two for a bit of a happy medium.

Fruit & Nut Granola

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange 1c shredded coconut, 1/2c sunflower seeds and 1/2c chopped walnuts on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating and stirring halfway through cook time.

Transfer to a large bowl and let cool. Add in 3c rolled oats, 1c chopped roasted almonds and 1/2t salt, mix well.

Meanwhile heat 1c unsweetened cranberry juice with 5T Splenda brown sugar with 2/3c brown sugar, 1/2c maple syrup, 3T honey and 3t cinnamon; cook until sugar is dissolved.

Carefully mix the liquid with the dry ingredients – I would add the liquid in portions, you don’t want too much liquid in the mix. Split the granola between two sheet pans (lined with parchment paper) and press evenly into pan. Bake for 20 minutes, rotating halfway through cook time.

Dice 1c apricot halves and measure out 1c dried cranberries.

When the granola has finished the 20 minutes, remove pans from oven and add 1/2c of each fruit to each pan; mix well to combine. Press down evenly and return to oven at 325 degrees. Bake granola for an additional 20 minutes, rotating halfway through cook time. Let cool about 10 minutes on pan before placing in containers. I put half in an air tight glass container (shown above) and the other in a gallon-size freezer bag, and popped it in the freezer. This makes 50 servings, 2T per serving. Points Plus: 3.

 

BONUS: TRAIL MIX RECIPE

While I was waiting for the granola to finish I used some ingredients I had lying around to make a trail mix. Carver is a big trail mix fan, but the pre-made options are not the healthiest option and they’re expensive… Especially if it is eaten more than 1 serving at a time, as usually happens in our house. I basically made 5 individual containers which will last a few days, on Wednesday I will put together a few more. You will need: 20 banana chips, 5t mini chocolate chips, 5t sunflower seeds, 10t dried cranberries, 5t chopped walnuts, and 10 apricot halves. Points Plus: 4, Serves 5


Care Package Treats


I tried out a new recipe today, for macaroons. I have always liked macaroons but never had the occasion to make them. This is perhaps the easiest cookie recipe I’ve ever made, and they are so beautiful!! Shock and awe for very little effort. I spent many many hours over the past three days working on a study package for an upcoming exam. The most recent count was about 18 hours of quality time spent with the computer, but now all I have to do for the next 48+ hours is review this packet and work on practice problems. So after all that time working and compiling my magnum opus I wanted to take a break and do something special for a loved one. Check out the second recipe using the cookie mix – these are tweaks I often make to mixes. They save calories, cholesterol and fat and often add some extra fiber.

Coconut Macaroons

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Combine 14 oz coconut, 14 oz fat-free condensed milk, and 1t vanilla in a large bowl. Whip the 2 egg whites and 1/2t salt on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until they make medium-firm peaks. Carefully fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture. Drop the batter onto sheet pans lined with parchment paper using either a 1 1/2-inch diameter ice cream scoop. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and serve. Makes 50 cookies. Points Plus: 2, per cookie

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Combine one packet of Betty Crocker Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with 1/4 c softened butter, 1/4c applesauce, 2T egg whites and 2T egg substitute. Drop the batter on to sheet pans using a 1/2 diameter ice cream scoop. Bake at 375 degrees F for 9 minutes, rotating halfway through cooking time. Makes 24 cookies. Points Plus: 3, per cookie. (Changing the ingredients from the recommended saves 2 points per cookie.)