Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Gimme Some of that Banana Bread, Honey

healthy banana bread
It was 95 degrees here today - an unseasonably warm, muggy, sunny, run-from-the-car-to-the-air-conditioned-house day for us. But I've had overripe bananas sitting on my kitchen counter just calling my name for days. So despite the humidity, and the fact that I thought the husband was really going to fight me on heating up the kitchen, I had to bake tonight. Yes, I had to bake tonight.

For those of you who didn't go to high school with me, I'm the Banana Bread Queen. For years, I enjoyed whipping up baked goods for my friends' birthdays, and banana bread was an easy and delicious choice. But the truth is I haven't really been making a lot of banana breads in recent years. (I know, I
made one back in November, but I really don't make them that often anymore.) 

Basically, I always want to eat the whole loaf. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Lil' Brownie Bites

My momma and I have this running joke every time there's a social event she's headed out to that I have to miss where she'll ask me what I'm bringing. I'll often say I'm bringing a picnic salad or, better year, the wine. And since we're usually discussing this mid-Saturday morning, I always end with: "We'll leave as soon as the husband gets back from golf. I guess I'll see you at about midnight." Oh, if only, Momma.

So in honor of Memorial Day weekend and the delicious barbecues I know everyone will be enjoying this weekend, I'll tell you what I'd bring: Light Brownie Bites. These things were a cinch to throw together. I did all of the work by hand - while on the phone with my momma - and the brownie bites were mixed, baked and ready to eat in less than 15 minutes. No joke. With these in hand, I may even make it to a party in the hollow by about 11:30 pm.

Light Brownie Bites
Inspired by Cooking Light
Makes 24 brownie bites

1/2 cup self-rising flour
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
4 large egg whites
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons Kahlua White Russian mix or chocolate liqueur (optional)
cooking spray
powdered sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine flour, sugar and cocoa in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Whisk egg whites until foamy in a separate bowl. Add oil and liqueur, if desired, which I do suggest, and stir with a whisk.

Add egg white mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moistened. Spoon batter evenly into 24 miniature muffin cups coated with cooking spray.

Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from pan; cool on wire racks.

If you don't mix your dry ingredients well, your brownies may look like mine.
If you follow Cooking Light's recipe, which also uses chocolate chips and a sprinkle of chopped almonds, the nutritional information for one mini brownie bite: 61 calories, 2.4 g fat, 8.8 g carbs, .3 g fiber, 1.2 g protein

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Magazine Cleanup

I know I told you Monday that I was starting this week off fresh and then I let Tuesday slip by without a post. Well, now you know why. After dinner last night I retreated to the living room only to find this: 

Hello, I'm the wife, and I'm addicted to magazines.
The husband made me sit down and throw away magazines - gasp! - and that meant no blogging. So, yes, as mad as I was that he told me some of my precious reads had to go the man had a point - and I rediscovered a bunch of recipes that I marked and never made. I really, really hated to see a lot of those magazines go, but the stack on the bottom of the bookshelf was getting a bit ridiculous. 

Tell me: What sort of clutter seems to gather in your house when you're not looking?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Meatless Monday: Mini Chickpea Burgers

healthy chickpea burgers
Mini Chickpea Burgers and Wild Rice
My lack of posts last week may have made it look like I was on vacation but, alas, I wasn't. The truth is I fed the husband tacos one night, a quick pancetta grilled cheese sandwich another night and Friday was an eat-whatever-you-can-find-in-the-fridge night. Sorry, readers. Life happens. I'm sure you know how that goes.

But Monday is here once again, and that means I get a fresh start; another opportunity to feed the husband a healthy dinner sans meat. Last Monday the husband kept asking: "Are we having falafels? Are we?" I asked him if that's what he really wanted, and he told me he didn't even know what they were. "What do we even eat them with?" He asked me.

The thing is, he does know what they are because I've made them before. So since I didn't make the husband falafels last week, and I really haven't in a while, I thought maybe we were due. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cranberry and Walnut Granola Bars

healthy homemade granola bars
Cranberry and Walnut Granola Bars

I've been packing the husband's lunch for almost three years now. That's right, the man has been getting special treatment since he was just a boyfriend. And, yes, I got the memo that it's no longer 1955 and there's no reason that he can't make his own lunch. But I just sort of got into the habit and have to confess: I kinda like it.

It's true that sometimes when I can't decide what shoes to wear or whether I should put on earrings and a necklace (wearing both usually makes me feel too flashy) that I would rather pass the lunch-making duties off to the husband. But most days, I like taking care of him. Which is exactly why I have spent weeks searching for the perfect granola bar recipe. 
I wanted something healthy and flavorful that wasn't filled with a ton of calories or fat. And I also wanted a bar that I could make without having to hunt all over the grocery store for special ingredients. Luckily for me, I finally found the perfect recipe. Yes, I said it. This is the perfect granola bar recipe.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Meatless Monday: Epic Mushroom & Polenta Failure

Sherried Mushrooms on Polenta Rounds
The weatherman on our Iocal news station has a "word for the day" segment that the husband and I catch just about every morning - it usually comes on just about the time I'm doing my hair and the husband is telling the dogs to stop wrestling so he can hear the weather. In the past few months the meteorologist has told us our days would be "cold," "fantastic," "insolent," "serendipitous" and even "vexatious." (The poor guy. I think he's starting to have a hard time coming up with words. But c'mon. Who really thought coming up with a word to describe the weather every day would be a good idea?)

I haven't asked the husband what word he'd use to describe dinner, but I know if Little Big Brother were here he'd offer up two: epic fail. (Yes, that's right. My little brother is so cool he'd leave off the "ure.")

But I'm getting ahead of myself here, so let me back up and tell you how dinner started.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mushrooms and More Veggie Pizza

vegetarian pizza

The wife: I think I need a part-time job at a pizza place. I need to learn how to toss dough. Do you think I'd get hired?
The husband: No, you my have been raised by Italians, but you're not Italian. And you'd want to make everything too healthy.
The wife: Isn't that discrimination?
The husband, shaking his head: No. It doesn't matter. An Irish girl can't work at a pizza place. I wouldn't eat pizza if you made it.
The wife: But you're eating pizza I made right now.
The husband: But I wouldn't pay for it. 

I frowned when the husband said that, but he just smirked and laughed. Yes, the man thinks he's hilarious. Actually, I think this might be one of those instances he was telling me about last night. He said we have a long, long time to be together, and he has to keep things interesting, which is exactly why he feels the need to crack jokes that aren't one bit funny. (You heard right, Little Big Brother. Your brother-in-law is not one bit funny.)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Baked Turkey Chimichangas

turkey chimichangas

Boo for blogger being down yesterday. I know all about site updates and bug fixes, but c'mon, Google developers. Did you guys not know that I made the husband really tasty chimichangas last night and really wanted to share the recipe with my 14 blog readers? Apparently not.

There may have easily been other times that Blogger has been unavailable that I blissfully missed. I know I'm not always the most consistent blogger. Honestly, I have no excuse for that except that sometimes dinner just doesn't go as planned and I'm too embarrassed to tell y'all about it. (Case in point: Tuesday night. I picked a recipe for pan-fried breaded fish. Unfortunately, the husband and I ate pan-fried fish with a side of pan-fried bread crumbs.)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Frozen Yogurt ... for Dinner

Froyoz Frozen Yogurt
The really handsome man I live with asked me out on a date tonight. I would have gone even if he hadn't promised me frozen yogurt after a trip to the driving range, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to frozen yogurt all afternoon. 

At Froyoz - an establishment I wish never, ever opened within a short drive from our house - you serve yourself frozen yogurt and toppings. You can load your bowl up with as many goodies as you'd like and toppings, from fruit and cereal to nuts, chocolate, cheesecake pieces and more, are abundant. It's easy to get carried away, but you want to be mindful of how much your bowl weighs, as that's what determines your bill. 

The husband and I racked up a $10 bill tonight, but I'm not complaining. We had a great evening hitting balls in the hazy May sunshine and were both stuffed after "dinner." I have a feeling I'll go out with him again.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Meatless Monday: Ravioli With Pesto and Roasted Veggies

ravioli with pesto
Ravioli With Pesto and Roasted Veggies
When my dad was in high school, he won the home ec award. I wasn't around in those days, so I can't say whether this really happened or whether this is one of those instances like the time he told me he once got his legs stuck behind his head and my grandparents had to call the ambulance. I'm willing to take his word on the home ec thing, but I have a feeling the other story was a big fib. Oh, Da. You kid.

I should really call him to clarify what helped him win that award because I have a feeling the meal I just served the husband wouldn't take home the prize of most appealing. It doesn't look so hot, I know, but I swear it didn't taste as awful as it looks.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Derby Day Drinks

I can distinctly remember the sun was peeking out through the clouds. Mother Nature had promised a warm Saturday in May for us upstate New Yorkers. It was probably nearing 70 degrees, so I put on a tank top and my very fashionable denim overall shorts and walked into the living room to tell my momma I was ready to go to the party. She took one look at my shoulder, my left shoulder, and noticed bumps – tiny bumps I had not seen before. I had chicken pox and had to stay home, she told me. I cried. At 9 years old, I didn't even really know what the Kentucky Derby was, but I knew I wanted to be a part of the action.

Years later, one thing remains: I'm still up for any excuse to have a party. So I after chowing down on a little Chinese takeaway tonight, I spent the evening trolling the Web in search of drinks that I think will be perfect for accompanying tomorrow's race. (Hey, don't judge. It's been a long week.) 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Review: Fire It Up

Fire It Up
By Andrew Schloss and David Joachim

When it comes to cooking in our household, I handle most of the inside jobs and the husband is mainly in charge of all that goes on outside. I like to think the husband is a pretty savvy griller. He's grilled pork loins, pork chops, hamburgers, chicken, steak, kebabs - even vegetables. So when I received a rather heavy package a couple of weeks ago and saw that it was Fire It Up, a huge book dedicated to grilling, I immediately thought I'd be passing this book off on the husband. 

I started flipping through this monster of a cookbook, imagining what the husband could grill up when I immediately fell in love. Alison Miksch's photos made my mouth water from the second I opened this book. (Can you honestly look at the full-page photo of a fire-braised pork shoulder sandwich on page 125 and not want to get your hands dirty with one of those?) Once I looked beyond the photos, though, I was drawn in even more and my eyes opened to a world of grilling I didn't even know - or think I wanted to know - existed.

However strange it may sound, I read magazines, and often cookbooks, backward. I always start in the back and flip to the front. But this is a book that you're going to want to read from the beginning. Flip to chapter one, titled "A Primer on Grilling Methods & Equipment," and master the basics. You'll probably even want to bookmark page 20, as the chart on that page lists all the temperatures you'll want to aim for when cooking everything from alligator to venison.

Once you've learned all you need to know about grills in chapter one and how to build flavor in your grilling endeavors in chapter two, the possibilities are just about endless. The husband and I, because we're pretty predictable, started with a grilled chicken breast and used the salsa-beer marinade. We love salsa. We love beer. We loved this marinade. 

Grilled Chicken With Cole Slaw and Toasted Bread
But this book goes so well beyond grilling meats. With chapters on grilling vegetables, fruit, desserts and breads, I have a good feeling we'll be busy with this book for a while. Already we've even chicken breasts and grilled cabbage for a creamy and flavorful cole slaw. I'd never thought to grill cabbage wedges, but, thanks to Schloss and Joachim, I'm now full of ideas. Cumin-crusted steak with a side of grilled corn on the cob? How about grilled banana satay for dessert? Sign me up.

Grilled Cole Slaw
With 15 chapters it's safe to say I haven't made my way through this entire book yet, but I know I will. And with all of the know-how boxes Schloss and Joachim have included throughout this book, instructing you on everything from how to tie a whole chicken for the grill to how to make orange supremes and care for cast iron, I could become a junior grillmaster in no time. I have a good feeling the husband will have to let me start the grill again in the near future. (That's right: I've only done it once before.) But there's really no reason the husband should get to have all the grilling fun - especially not now that I'm armed with more than 400 recipes that are just begging me to head to the back deck.

Disclaimer: I received this book free of charge to write this review. I received no monetary compensation; all thoughts are mine alone. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Venison Sandwiches

venison sandwiches
A Venison Sandwich With a Side of Grilled Cole Slaw
Back when the husband was just a boyfriend we took a trip to Fort Lauderdale to look at a college he thought might be the grad school for him. We spent one afternoon walking around the campus and checking out the architecture department and the rest of the week sightseeing, lying on the beach, eyeing creepy iguanas, sitting on barstools and eating Primanti Brothers sandwiches. That's right: We spent a week in Florida eating sandwiches that originated in Pittsburgh. Have you ever had one? If so, I'm sure you understand.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Meatless Monday: Vegetarian Ground "Meat"

vegetarian stroganoff
Mushroom Stroganoff With Vegetarian Ground "Meat"
Sometimes when the husband isn't home I like to do things that would probably make him laugh - or shake his head and wonder what he signed up for when he told me, our friends and family, and God that he'd love me until death us do part. So yesterday while the husband was out golfing, I turned on some Hayes Carll and made vegetarian ground meat. In my pajamas. Why? Why not? The doggies didn't mind.

I've had this ground meat substitute recipe bookmarked for awhile now, but I hadn't found the time to actually make it. The truth is, it was a bit time-consuming and definitely not a recipe I'd be whipping up on a Monday night. A good solid hour and a half preparing for this meal - by myself - was just what I needed. And tonight, all I needed was a husband willing to go along with this crazy idea of faux meat.


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