gs6Happy New Year! It’s 2013 and if you’re like me Thanksgiving and Christmas have taken their toll and you’ve found yourself with a pair of jeans that are fitting a little tighter than they should. A few years back I was browsing ohsheglows.com and came across her recipe for a green smoothie. I mixed up her smoothie and took it in with me to work. The general response was “what’s that?” mixed with a couple of disgusted faces. I’ve since resolved not to use clear containers to transport my morning mix.  I have continued to make my green power concoction and it keeps me going all day.

My recipes have changed alot over time. Frozen berries, frozen bananas, spinach, kale, greek yogurt, and almond milk have been added at some point or another. I just wanted to share a few of my thoughts about the green smoothie movement…

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About fruit, frozen/fresh berries to be specific:

-Depending on the amount of berries you add, your green smoothie will not be green. I’ve been the vicitim of brownish-green smoothies. No bueno.

-Certain fruits just can’t be mixed….melons of any sort are a no go. And frankly pineapples dont taste that great unless fresh.

-There’s nothing wrong with freezing fresh bananas, just remember to peel them first. I tried to peel a frozen banana, it was horrible.

Now on to the greens:

The mainstays are spinach and kale. To me baby spinach and “regular” spinach just taste different. Kale pretty much doesn’t taste like much unless you add a tremendous amount. Some folks add celery and cucumber, I haven’t gotten that adventurous yet.

Everything else:

I haven’t tried adding protein. I’m not against it, it’s just that we have chocolate and vanilla flavored protein in our house. Definitely not mixing that into the smoothie. I used to add almond milk and greek yogurt. The greek yogurt has a great amount of protein that allowed me to starve off my cravings for junk throughout the day. (By the way, FAGE is thee best greek yogurt out, its pricey, I dont care lol!) And I used almond milk because I just wanted to. The almond milk and greek yogurt seemed to increase the fermenting of things, like a weird science experiment.

Storage

When I was using almond milk and greek yogurt I made my smoothies fresh daily. I would freeze the fruit into small bags and place them in the freezer and leave the greens in the fridge. Nowadays, I’m busy and no one in my house is interested in hearing the blender go off at 5am.  So I make a batch of this stuff in bulk and use saran wrap plus a lid to keep it fresh. I make enough for 2-3 days and it definitely saves me time in the morning.

So here’s my current recipe and depending on what I find at the grocery store this is destined to change.

1-gala apple (cored, peel if you like)

1-orange

1/2 c of cold water

1/2 c kale (I really dont measure I just grab a handful)

1/2 c spinach (same measuring procedures as with the kale)

1- banana

1/2 c or more of cocunut water

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Add this into your blender and after a few minutes you ‘ll have the drink that’s all the rage. I was in Whole Foods the other day and they wanted $6.50 for one of these. Never!

This is how I store it in the fridge.

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A word about Blenders:  The web is buzzing about the new blenders that are out. Blendtec, Vitamix, NutriBullet. These machines are not for the weak and produce a smooth product.  Now my blender is by no means comparable. I have an old school Hamilton Beach thats almost a decade old with a motor thats built tougher than some cars out there. I love this thing, but I cross my fingers every time I use it. It’s destined to go any time. But lets be honest, as much as I think my blender could kick your blenders butt in an ice crushing competition, it struggles to make a smoothie that isn’t free of little bits of kale or spinach. It just doesnt get that smooth. I’m still going to drink it though.

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And my final thoughts. As a future nurse I cant help but educate you on one essential thing. No matter what you do, drink water after you have your green smoothie. These are fiber rich and constipation could be a problem for some folks so the more water the better.

-Enjoy

Do you Green Smoothie

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Nothing Screams Christmas like a Gingerbread Nativity Scene

That’s right folks, at my house this year there will be a gingerbread baby Jesus and we are little excited about it. I came across this set last year after Christmas and I’ve been waiting all year to give this a try.

tin

This is the creation of the folks over at Brikmann. They’re a company based out of Denmark that specializes in all things related to baking. They have some amazing cookie cutters and baking molds. I stumbled across this set at my local Marshall’s and was instantly propelled to purchase. It was a memorable shopping moment.

cuttersintinSo after falling in love with the beautiful tin cover, I was equally delighted to find the cookie cutters along with a booklet with a gingerbread recipe and assembly instructions. Although the recipe was in english, I opted to use King Arthur’s Gingerbread recipe just because I didnt have a measuring scale for grams in the kitchen.

cookiecutters

Here are a few picks of the whole thing coming together.

I just love these cookies. I made them 1/4 in. thick

cutouts

Decorating these took some major work and I definitely need more practice but I’m pleased with the results. I fixed all the cookie pieces to a long slab of gingerbread  using royal icing. To make sand I used crushed graham crackers. I really love this and I plan on making it again next year.

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And here’s a close up of Mary, Joseph and Gingerbread Baby Jesus.

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Merry Christmas Folks!

Where Have I Been?

Seriously where have I been? Nursing school took over and I haven’t been anywhere near this blog but my food conquest have continued. Exploring Philadelphia has been my latest adventure and I wanted share with you guys some of my favorite spots for quick eats when I’m on the go.

1. Federal Donuts When’s the last time you had a hot fresh donut prepared in front of you with good coffee to match. That’s what you can find at this local eatery in Center City. Starting at 7 am the folks over at Federal Donuts are serving up flavors like Vanilla Spice, Turkish Mocha and Maple Bacon just a name to few. They feature a cozy atmosphere and mouth-watering menu. They also serve fried chicken!

2. ShakeShack-  What do you get when you mix concrete ice cream with Philly favorites such as soft pretzels and Termini Bros. Cannolli Shells?….you get the Shack Shake. This place is infamous in NYC and now Philly has its own. I fell in love with a blueberry pie concrete blend that rocked my world. They also serve up burgers and fries. This place comes highly suggested and the warm atmosphere makes it a favorite of mine.

3. Cafe Lift- After a long week of exams, I found myself here with a few of my classmates. The portions are huge and the price is even better. Cafe Lift is a great brunch spot or even better for lunch. I tried their chicken tacos and they were delish! There isn’t a lot of seating so get there early if you’re interested in trying their peanut butter pancakes.

4. Reading Terminal Market- I don’t know a food blog around that doesn’t mention this Philadelphia eatery and so will I. This place is home to some of the city’s best food vendors and specialty shops. The Amish Bakery will make you drool. Come with an empty stomach. Some of my favorites include the caramel kettle popcorn from the Amish Bakery and Bassets Ice Cream.

5. Varga Bar- Late nights in Philadelphia aren’t complete without stopping by this corner bar to taste their crab fries. Definitely a meal to be shared. If you enjoy seafood and fries, you will definitely enjoy Varga. And if you are a beer lover make sure try out some of their unique ales such as Lost Abbey 10 Commandments and Victory Golden Monkey.

So that’s where I’ve been. A few great meals and lots of homework.

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Good Eats. That’s what I love. If I could redo my first words they would be “Sugar, Flour, Buttah”…Ha!

Today, I tried a recipe from one of my favorite blogs, Joy of Baking. Have you been to her site… she’s good. Joy please invite me over for breakfast, lunch, dinner lol.

If you do a search for Cinnamon Rolls,  there are a million recipes out there. But they all are basically the same. I chose Joy’s because I had all the ingredients. The rolls were good but not comparable to my beloved Cinnabon’s at the mall.

They’re fluffy and light. I added a little bit of vanilla and butter to the icing.  Here’s the link to the recipe.

Cinnamon rolls are touchy. If not done right they are dry and just un-tasty. They require TLC and patience. I have neither. Well not today.

Im posting this recipe but some how or another I screwed up. Although they were tasty at first. The next day I took them to work and I hated them. I’m strange and we’ve already discussed this lol.

But I have not given up on my quest. This recipe will be revisited once I find the courage. The pictures came out pretty and that’s all that really matters for now.

Cinnamon Rolls….Mmmmm

E. Marie’s Turkmich

To be honest I hadn’t tried a turkey burger until last year.  I’m pretty adventurous when it comes to my food choices, but something about “Turkey Burger” screams wannabee Cheesburger, I don’t like fakes. I’m a food snob, I’m aware of this problem.

So it wasn’t until recently, I could put together a recipe that places this Turkey Burger in a league of it’s own. This is not a full recipe, I don’t make my own turkey patties. I’m not a fan of handling raw meat. I work in healthcare, some things are just too familiar.

But I have the seal of approval from my taste-testers  that this burger is certified G-O-O-D.

The real secret to my burger is this cast iron skillet with grill marks that I got from my Dad. He could be found in the kitchen cooking anything he could find with this thing. I didn’t understand it’s magic until now. I also use it to “grill” chicken breast and it does a fine job.

So here’s how to make my Turkmich. Its tasty.

  • Heat up your skillet first. I get mine HOT.
  •  Grab a vidallia onion and slice it as thick or as thin as you want. I love onions so mine is a thick slice. My breath reeks!
  •  Pull out your bun. I get these from the walmart bakery. Brush the roll lightly with butter, olive oil or water. They both leave great grill marks.
  •  So place your turkey burger on the grill. And cook one side for 5-6 minutes. Then Flip.
  • Drain off any turkey fat.
  • Add the bun and onions to the skillet and cook. Until the turkey patty is finished. Yup, It’s one big ‘ole party in that skillet and you’re invited.
  • Remove and add fresh guacamole to both sides of the bun. I use the chunky fresh guacamole from Whole Foods. Add your cooked turkey patty, cheese (I use fresh grated parmesan but queso fresco takes great with this) and Enjoy.

  • Add a side of sweet potato fries and this meal is done.

Ingredients:

Jennie –O Savory Turkey patty

Vidallia Onion

Bread Roll

Fresh Guacamole

Cheese (Queso Fresco or Fresh Parmesan)

Equipment: Iron Cast Skillet with Grill Marks

Taste Test Time- Chocolate Souffle

My mom joyously volunteered to taste the soufflé. She’s so nice and brave.  She’s been my taste tester for so many of my culinary concoctions.

She loved that the soufflé was light and fluffy. The chocolate wasn’t over-bearing and the crème anglaise added a light sweetness that she enjoyed.

Well she finished it, so I think she liked it overall.

Chocolate Souffle

I’m unusual. I’m strange. I know some folks that would agree with me.
I’m not too fond of chocolate…There I said it. Don’t judge me.
I use it in recipes. But a triple chocolate dessert would never be my first choice.

But today I will do the unthinkable. I will make an all chocolate dessert. I will taste it. I probably will not eat the entire thing. Now a bag of gummy worms….Mmmmmm I <3.

So lets do this.

Doesn’t the word ‘souffle’ scream fancy and complicated. Well it is, but so worth the effort and the best part is that they can be frozen before baking and cooked for later. Which I’ll leave for my mom, a chocolate lover.

The recipe is taken from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I love Julia even though I find her recipes to be overly detailed. She tries so hard to simplify things for us poor American home cooks. LOL.

So here’s a few picks from my soufflé adventure.

Ready for the oven. I found the folding of the egg mixture and chocolate to be no fun.

They smelled so good baking.  Taking this picture caused me a lot of sweating. I had to rush before the soufflé lost its poof.

I made crème anglaise, dusted with powdered sugar,  added a strawberry and a small dollop of whipped cream… yummy.

DELISH! But I didn’t  finish it. I think this will be a great Valentine’s Day dessert, especially if your cooking a special meal for your honey.

Here’s the Recipe. Be Bold. Be Fearless. Be Julia… even if it’s only for one night!

CHOCOLATE SOUFFLE (8 servings)

7 ounces sweet baking chocolate, smoothly melted with 1/3 cup strong coffee
1/3 cup flour
2 cups milk
3 tablespoons butter, optional
Salt (1/16 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 egg yolks
6 egg whites
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Confectioners’ sugar, strained though a fine-meshed sieve, for sprinkling (1 tablespoon)
Whipped cream for accompaniment (optional)

1. Melt the chocolate, measure out all the other ingredients listed, butter the (2 to 2 1/2-quart) souffle’ dish, surround it with a foil collar (fasten the collar with a straight pin), and preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. In a medium saucepan, whisk the flour and milk together and boil slowly over medium-high heat for 2 minutes, whisking. Off heat, whisk in the optional butter, the salt, and the vanilla, then the egg yolks, and finally the smoothly melted chocolate.

3. In a clean separate bowl with clean beaters, beat the egg whites to soft peaks, gradually sprinkle in the 1/2 cup sugar, and beat to stiff shining peaks.

4. Ladle the chocolate sauce base down the side of the egg-white bowl, rapidly fold the two mixtures together, and turn the souffle’ into the prepared baking dish.

5. Set the souffle’ in the lower level of the preheated oven and turn the thermostat down to 375 F.

6. In 35 to 40 minutes the souffle’ will have puffed and risen an inch or so over the rim of the dish. Carefully slide the oven rack out and quickly sprinkle the top of the souffle’ with confectioners’ sugar, then finish the baking, and serve as directed; pass the optional whipped cream separately.

Per serving: 258 calories, 7 gm protein, 20 gm carbohydrates, 20 gm fat, 11 gm saturated fat, 147 mg cholesterol, 214 mg sodium.

Pretzel Time

You haven’t had a pretzel until you’ve had a warm sourdough Philly pretzel fresh from the oven with mustard on the side. DELISH.  Find a Pretzel Factory near you soon!

A close second… are the pretzels at the Stoltzfus Bakery located in the Farmers Market in Williamstown, NJ- please stop by this place and bring your wallet because there is money to spent. The fresh squeezed strawberry lemonade and Cajun crab dip are also highly recommended.

Last but not least is Auntie Annes at the mall. Which I don’t get to often because I’m an internet shopper, I hate the crowds.  My favs are the original, cinnamon sugar and the hot dog pretzel isn’t bad either.

So in a quest to avoid long lines, save money and reduce the amount of artificial colors/flavors/preservatives and everything else we can find in our food. I present to you “Soft Pretzel Day”. (please note that this is not a real day and you will not receive paid time off from work for celebrating this day with me)

I was browsing King Arthur’s Website and under their favorite recipes I found one for soft pretzels and I figured, why not.

So lets do this.

Add all the ingredients to the mixer and watch as it shapes into a ball like this. Dough should be warm and soft to touch. I love my mixer, it makes my life so easy.

Lightly flour the ball and seal in a plastic bag for 30 minutes.

While the dough is “resting”, (which I don’t know why the dough needs to rest it hasn’t done any work today…corny joke. I cant help myself sometimes), Mix up the baking soda and water solution.

Divide the dough into equal parts. I didn’t measure them out like the recipe “suggested”.

Now I’ve watched the folks at Auntie Anne’s roll out pretzels and I tried to mimic their techniques.

Roll one ball of dough out using both hands and form a cylinder shape , the longer the dough the  bigger the pretzel. Once you reach your desired length pull both ends of the dough together  to form a U.

Cross them over each other and press into the bottom of the U.  Here’s what mine looked like. Not too shabby if I say so myself.

Let them take another rest and then give them a dip in the baking soda bath

Sprinkle with pretzel salt. I used sea salt and I covered some of them with Asiago Cheese…..Mmmmmm Me Love Cheese (in my cookie monster voice).

After some time in the oven. Boom, Bam these things look delicious. Auntie Anne would be impressed.

Brush with melted Butta! Something this good deserves melted butta not butter. No margarine here. No ma’am.

Let cool and then devour. I dipped them in mustard but I’m sure some melted aged cheese like the stuff used for nachos at the fair would taste good with these.

FYI: I also froze some. I cooked them for 6 minutes, added the butta, let them cool and popped them in a freezer bag. I’ll re-heat them in the oven when I’m ready. Also I thought it would be cool to make pretzel bites too.

Here’s the link to the recipe. Let me know how yours turn out.

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This is when having twin brothers comes in handy. Boys can be so easy. They will eat whatever you make.

Why? Because their hungry.

They usually don’t talk too much so I wont be overwhelmed with opinions about my baking. And lastly, because if they want to eat again, and you better bet they do, they wont say too many bad things about what I made.

My ego feels good, get you some male taste testers asap.

For the record, the twins are allergic to peanuts and this would be my last blog, cause my life would be over, if my mom found out that I baked with any nuts in the kitchen. So no nuts in these cookies, but I’m sure they would taste delicious.

J. Simon aka Baby B,  as he was known on the ultrasound, said that the Neiman Marcus cookie was good, he liked the texture and it taste good to him.

J. Henry  aka Baby A, took one bite of the chain letter cookie, smiled and said “Now that’s a good cookie”. He likes the oatmeal and Hershey’s.

Overall the chain letter cookie got great reviews. My work peeps loved them and they disappeared faster than the others. I liked the espresso in the Neiman Marcus Cookie.  I think next time I’ll make a hybrid of them both ground oatmeal, espresso, hersheys and chocolate chips….(insert drool).

The Official Taste Test

The $250 Cookie Recipe

Today is the day of First. First Blog Post. First time using a Kitchen Aid Mixer (wish me luck)! First Recipe on the Blog. Ahhhhhhhh I could go on and on.

My new BFF

So lets just do this.

Nothing gets me going like a good story. I don’t care whether it’s a juicy over embellished story between girlfriends, a movie plot that keeps me tied in until the credits roll or a page turning book. You’ve got a good story I’m all in.

So I decided my first recipe would come with a story and sorry folks but it’s not an original of my own, but I sure don’t mind re-telling this tale.

This urban “legend” aka “the awful truth they wont admit” (another overdone embellishment, I cant help myself) is all about the Neiman Marcus $250 Cookie Recipe.

Unless you’ve been without internet, email or just under a rock for the last 10 years this is probably one of the most common chain letters floating the web.  The story goes, watch for the over embellishments cause once again I can’t help myself, that a woman and her daughter are dining at Neiman Marcus and both have salads. This is so fitting cause fine ladies at Neiman Marcus only eat salads not cheeseburgers and fries. They decide to order the Neiman Marcus chocolate chip cookie for dessert (who eats just one cookie…not me).  The woman enjoys it so much she asks for the recipe and the waitress tells her she can’t have the recipe. When the woman offers to buy the recipe, the waitress states that the cookie recipe cost two fifty. What a steal the woman thinks until her credit card statement comes in the mail. She was charged 9.99 for 2 salads (what a steal!), $20 for a scarf and $250 for the cookie recipe. She began to argue with Neiman Marcus for a refund and she was told they would not refund her money because she has already seen their recipe. So since revenge is a dish best served warm, she emailed her story along with the recipe to as many people as she could and requested that they pass it along.

So here is where the controversy comes in: Neiman Marcus states that around the time this so-called incident occurred that they weren’t even selling chocolate chip cookies in their stores (insert side stare). And that variations of this folktale have been going on for years. There’s a similar story about a red velvet fudge recipe and the Waldorf Astoria. Oh and there’s the story about Mrs. Field and her $250 cookie recipe too.

‘Til this day Neiman Marcus denies any involvement in such said rumor and offers their own recipe free to copy, download and print. (although this recipe differs from the one on the chain letter). And yes I’m making both.

So here’s the recipe from Neiman Marcus and their disclaimer.

Neiman Marcus $250 Cookie Recipe

An urban myth is a modern folk tale, its origins unknown, its believability enhanced simply by the frequency with which it is repeated. Our signature chocolate chip cookie is the subject of one such myth. If you haven’t heard the story, we won’t perpetuate it here. If you have, the recipe below should serve to refute it. Copy it, print it out, pass it along to friends and family. It’s a terrific recipe. And it’s absolutely free.

Ingredients

·  1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
·  1 cup light brown sugar
·  3 tablespoons granulated sugar
·  1 large egg
·  2 teaspoons vanilla extract
·  1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
·  1/2 teaspoon baking powder
·  1/2 teaspoon baking soda
·  1/2 teaspoon salt
·  1-1/2 teaspoons instant espresso coffee powder
·  1-1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

1.Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cream the butter with the sugars using an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy (approximately 30 seconds)

2. Beat in the egg and the vanilla extract for another 30 seconds.

3. In a mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients and beat into the butter mixture at low speed for about 15 seconds. Stir in the espresso coffee powder and chocolate chips.

4. Using a 1 ounce scoop or a 2 tablespoon measure, drop cookie dough onto a greased cookie sheet about 3 inches apart. Gently press down on the dough with the back of a spoon to spread out into a 2 inch circle. Bake for about 20 minutes or until nicely browned around the edges. Bake a little longer for a crispier cookie. Yield:2 dozen cookies

Chain Letter-$250 Neiman Marcus Recipe

(Recipe may be halved):
2 cups butter
4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups brown sugar
5 cups blended oatmeal (measure oatmeal and blend in blender to a fine powder)
24 oz. chocolate chips
1 tsp. salt
1 8 oz. Hershey bar (grated)
4 eggs
2 tsp. baking powder
3 cups chopped nuts (your choice)
2 tsp. vanilla

Cream the butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla; mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and soda.

Add chocolate chips, Hershey bar and nuts. Roll into balls and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Makes 112 cookies.. Have Fun!!!

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