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.

I climbed a mountain


Remember I said a few weeks ago that it has been crazy around here?? Well it has and it hasn’t slowed down yet. I am in the final stretch on all of my projects.

  • T minus 3 days until applications are due (accepting prayers and positive vibes)
  • T minus 48 days until Match Day (when I learn my fate…)
  • T minus 69 days until the wedding (dun dun dun….)

Plus there’s this new home thing going on so we are constantly cleaning, and working on projects around the house. I have spent my days cooking and FLYING and shopping. I am sooo ready for a breather… I am anticipating one this coming weekend when applications will be done and invitations will be mailed out. Then the week after is our tasting which should yield some FANTASTIC photos!! Can you imagine a foodie’s wedding when they have full control over the menu??? It’s a bit like heaven…

So what have I been cooking and doing?? Well I recently found Bountiful Baskets which is my new favorite thing. It’s like Chopped but at home. Pick up a mystery basket or two of food and try to make a week or two’s worth of food out of it. If there is a location near you I highly recommend it – one warning is wait to do your produce shopping until after you have taken home and inventoried your loot. It is very affordable and high quality produce; plus you are supporting local growers. Here are a few shots of my first two pick ups.

             

Also on the project list was some quality time in the kitchen. I made a delicious cake for a dear coworker’s birthday, I threw a party for that big football game (which was a total disappointment) a couple weeks ago, I made my two favorite breads (this one and this one), and a few soups (this one, a recipe-less chicken and veggie soup, and this one). Oh yah… and homemade Oreos. Yep. I did that. I have been addicted to a new cookbook my mom & I bought for each other this Christmas. FLOUR and it’s amazing… I have made: snickerdoodles (awesome), chocolate chip cookies (dear God the best CC cookies ever…), sticky buns, and the homemade oreos. Mom’s list looks like that but with a few extras including the bran muffins and a few others. Here are some drool-worthy photos of the goods.

            

Also on my project list – crafts… tons. I’ve been sewing curtains, and pillows, and cutting fabric for invitations and assembling invitations… I’m so looking forward to receiving RSVPs mainly because it will mean I am done with invitations. Please tell me (current/past brides) that you feel me on this…

Enjoy this shot – I (literally) climbed to the top of a mountain today. That’s a first and it was a pain in the butt… Though I will probably be back, just never EVER on a Sunday morning again.

I have a bit of an emergency on my hands currently — less than 1/2 cup of butter in the house… and not enough peanut butter~ Off to load up.


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies adapted from Martha Stewart’s recipe here: http://www.marthastewart.com/344840/soft-and-chewy-chocolate-chip-cookies

2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
3 tablespoons egg white substitute
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and ½ of the pumpkin. Next cream the butter/pumpkin with both sugars; beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; add the salt, vanilla, and egg whites and egg. Beat until well mixed, about 1 minute. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. The dough will be slightly dry at this point so you will add in the remaining ½ cup of pumpkin and then stir in the chocolate chips.
Drop heaping tablespoon-size balls of dough about 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Flatten the dough slightly with the back of a spoon/scoop.
Bake until cookies are golden around the edges, but still soft in the center, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool on baking sheet 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week
Yields about 4 dozen cookies.

20111010-155535.jpg

20111010-155554.jpg


Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies


As I mentioned last week I had been craving these cookies for days, so I indulged myself. I made a double batch and froze half of the batter in pre-portioned balls, I lined the dough (scooped like the ones for baking) on parchment paper and froze them. This way I can have fresh cookies whenever I want them without the mess.
The cooked cookies also freeze well, though it is best to separate the layers with parchment paper.
• 1 stick butter, room temperature
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 1 cup granular sugar
• ½ cup applesauce
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 egg
• 3 tablespoon egg white substitute
• 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 ½ cup whole wheat flour
• 2 cups oatmeal
• 2 teaspoon cinnamon
• ½ teaspoon baking powder
• ½ teaspoon baking soda
• ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, cream together butter, applesauce, sugars, and salt. Add egg, egg white, and ¼ cup water; mix well until combined.
In another bowl, mix together flour, oatmeal, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and nutmeg. Fold into the butter mixture until well combined. Add chocolate chips and stir until well combined.
Using a 1-inch ice cream scoop, scoop at cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 1 ½ inches apart. Bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through cook time.
Let the cookies cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack.

Yields 1 cookie per serving, 2 points per cookie

20110823-104605.jpg

20110823-104615.jpg


I’m a cookies & muffins kinda girl


The kitchen and I had some quality time today. We’ve shared passing glances over the past few weeks, but not one on one time like today, and tomorrow if all goes as planned. It has been a busy few weeks and I haven’t planned early as much as normal. Some people prefer to live that way- for me it stresses me out. So the past couple days I have worked on a new plan- one that embraces our lives as they are now but still gives us some structure and fun. I have also managed to cross off some nagging projects recently. Going on that business trip seemed to throw me off more than I anticipated. Luckily I have a few weeks before my next trip so I can brainstorm.
I am sure you are curious what my first project back (so to speak) was. Well I made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and zucchini walnut muffins. The zucchinis came from the farm where Carver and I took our engagement photos taken this past weekend. And the cookies are a result of a week long conversation about cookies.
Tomorrow I plan on making Chex mix, meatballs and tomato sauce and smoothies. Another day of kitchen therapy should get me on the right track. Here are photos of the cookies to hold you over until we get the recipes up.

20110820-094307.jpg

20110820-094319.jpg


I’ve missed you


I need a bloody mary. STAT. Then maybe a nap and maybe after that I will be up for the gym. But right now, it is barely 9AM at the temperature is nearly 90 degrees and the humidity is over 50%. Reality check – Southie is one degree cooler and only has 41% humidity, oh and they have a breeze. It’s pretty gross out here. The past two weeks of my solitary confinement I have spent the mornings and evenings getting all of my exercise in and anything which requires me to be outside. The rest of the day I am cooped up either reading, or on my computer working, or studying. Oh yes that’s right I said studying. I bought a study guide for a board exam I plan to take, no date yet. I did pretty well on the portion of the practice exam I took, but reviewing their study guide makes me a little queasy. So for the time being I am hacking away at it, bit by bit. Otherwise my projects have consisted of non-food things: dealing with student loans, cleaning, laundry, unpacking, organizing, etc. I did have a pretty insane weekend, and this led to an atypical Tuesday: up at 5 for lunches and breakfast, took Merlin for a walk around 6, had a cup of coffee, went back to bed and slept until 10:45. I must say that additional sleep was glorious. What did I do Sunday and Monday that made me so exhausted you ask? Well I will tell you… I cooked and baked enough to fill a fridge and freezer: 6 smoothies, 1 loaf of bread, 2 flank steaks, chipotle marinade, 2 chicken breasts, couscous salad, cilantro-lime rice, baked pinto beans, oatmeal raisin cookies… I’m sure that I am missing something but at the moment it escapes me. So while all this work is making my 5AM lunch prep much easier, I was exhausted after it. I will be evaluating my game plan today/tomorrow so that I can enjoy my weekend. Very exciting this weekend is a special visit from one of my dearest friends. We have not seen each other since before the engagement and as such will probably spend the weekend gabbing about dresses, shoes, gifts, the ring, etc. Chances are this will all be done over an enormous cup of coffee and some kind of treat… I know, you’re jealous. I would be too if they weren’t my plans.

Later this afternoon I will share the earth-shattering thing that happened this week which prompted my 16+ hours in the kitchen last weekend.

20110707-092327.jpg


2 dinners, 2 desserts


Four good recipes in two days: Mexican Couscous Salad, Bistro Turkey Burgers, Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies, Angel Food Cake with Strawberries.

It has been a hot week so far and promises to continue. Not much else to report around here. Had to visit the hospital yesterday for some pre-employment stuff and did a bunch of projects around the house today but that is the extent of our excitement… That was until we went to the grocery store and stumbled upon some angel food cake.

Angel Food Cake with Strawberries, serves 2

      

  • 1/2 pint strawberries, rinsed and sliced
  • 2 slices angel food cake (about 2 oz)
  • 1 – 3 tablespoons sugar (will depend on sweetness of strawberries)
  • 2 tablespoons light whipped cream

Slice strawberries and place in medium bowl with sugar. Add sugar gradually based on sweetness of berries, mix well. Refrigerate berries for at least 30 minutes. Assemble each plate: 1 slice of cake with 1/2 the berries and 1 tablespoon of whipped cream. 3 Points Plus per serving * Carver warmed the cake in the toaster oven until the edges were crispy which was a delicious variation!

Mexican Couscous Salad, serves 4

  • 2/3 cup dried couscous
  • 1 cup water or chicken stock
  • 1 medium avocado, diced
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil – 1 teaspoon for cooking couscous, remainder for vinaigrette
  • 3 tablespoons mint, chopped
  • zest and juice of one orange (could use two limes here if you would prefer)
  • 2 chicken breasts, grilled and then diced

Over medium high heat, toast couscous in 1 teaspoon olive oil for 4-5 minutes until golden. Gradually add in water or stock, 1/3 cup at a time until couscous is barely covered in liquid. Cover pan and simmer for 8 minutes until all liquid is nearly absorbed. Stir in red onion, recover and remove from heat. In a large bowl make the vinaigrette: whisk together the mint, orange zest, orange juice, remaining olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Add in remaining ingredients and stir well to coat all ingredients in vinaigrette. Serve over mixed greens. Serving size is 1 1/2 cups. 13 Points Plus per serving.

Bistro Turkey Burgers, serves 3

   

  • 1 pound ground turkey, lean
  • 1 tablespoon grated parmesan
  • 4 tablespoons Frank’s Red Hot
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 6 slices ciabatta
  • 2 cups arugula, rinsed and drained
  • 3 slices low fat provolone cheese
  • 3 tablespoons low fat ranch dressing

In a large bowl combine turkey, scallions, parmesan cheese, and 2 tablespoons of Frank’s red hot. Score meat to form three equal portions and form patties which match the size and shape of the ciabatta slices. Cook over medium-high heat until cooked through, about 6-8 minutes. Meanwhile toast ciabatta slices and combine dressing and remaining 2 tablespoons of hot sauce in a small bowl to make sandwich topping.  10 Points Plus per serving

To assemble each sandwich:

  1. coat one side of each slice of ciabatta with 1 teaspoon of dressing-hot sauce
  2. then 1/2 slice cheese,
  3. then tomatoes and arugula on one side
  4. next top patties on top of arugula
  5. cover patties with second slice of bread (with sauce and 1/2 slice cheese)
  6. slice sandwiches, 2 halves per serving

Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies, makes 3 dozen cookies

     

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick light butter, room temperature
  • 4oz unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecan pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt; mix well. Meanwhile in a large bowl beat applesauce and butter until completely incorporated. Add in two sugars to butter and beat until light and creamy. Next, add in eggs, one at a time – mixing well after each addition. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, 1/3 at a time – mixing well between additions. Fold in chocolate chips and pecans until well dispersed. Spoon batter onto baking sheets using a rounded tablespoon. Bake 10-12 minutes until golden brown. 3 Points Plus per cookie.