Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Observation Tuesday: Volume 60

I cannot tell you how many of these I am guilty of. (okay it's all of them). Signs you're a list maker (buzz feed)

We don't have kids, but I like this article about feeding kids well, even when it's expensive. Lots of truth. (the kitchn).

I love traveling. That's that. Get excited for just excessive amounts of pictures when we get home.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Snapshot Monday: July 29

A typical touristy picture from Santorini, Greece for you. We fly home tomorrow and are going to enjoy one last evening in Athens tonight. Reality will hit soon.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Popcorn and Dark Chocolate Chunk Coookies

Some of my most vivid childhood memories are of making chocolate chip cookies with my dad at our house in Minnesota. I'd come home from school on Friday afternoon and my dad would have the ingredients all set out.
We'd do the wet ingredients, which is probably when I learned to crack an egg. Then we'd mix the dry ingredients in another bowl, hopefully not confusing baking powder and baking soda or adding in three tablespoons of salt. My sister and I would probably fight about who got to do what, but I don't totally remember.
Then we'd put them on the baking sheets. We'd each get a huge spoonful of cookie dough. And then clamor to scrape the dough out of the bowl for that extra taste. When they came out of the oven we got a few cookies with a big glass of milk. That was the best.
I think that's why cookies are my favorite thing to bake, its associate with memories. These amazing popcorn and chocolate chunk cookies have that therapeutic, nostalgic quality with a little bit of new and crazy thrown in. 

Pretty sure the popcorn factor just seems nuts. But man, are these tasty! And I've totally forgotten about how great making popcorn on the stove is. So simple and you can add some great flavors. I may be hopping on the popcorn topping wagon soon. 
For now we'll stick to add the popcorn into cookies. When I was little we also had an air popper for our popcorn, it was sort of like this number. Awesome.
Anyway, get on this cookie train soon. Set out your regular cookie ingredients out. Get yo popcorn popping on. Cut up some dark chocolate, which is super therapeutic. And mix away.

As a warning it will seem like there is just an excessive amount of popcorn, like double the amount of dough almost. But, with some folding, it will get in there. It kind of breaks down and makes for a great ratio of popcorn:cookie.
Make these. 
Popcorn and Chocolate Chunk Cookies
(adapted from Joy the baker)
makes 24 cookies
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/4 corn kernels (makes about 4 cups)
  • 1/2 unsalted butter
  • 1/2 packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup AP flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate
To Make:

1) Start with the popcorn. In medium saucepan heat vegetable oil over medium heat. After a few minutes, pour in corn kernels in single layer. Place lid on pan, but slightly vented to let out steam while popcorn pops. When popping slows, take pan off heat. Sprinkle with a little bit of salt. 

2) Remove unpopped kernles and let popcorn cool in a large bowl. 

3) Now, preheat oven to 350* F. In a large mixing bowl cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add in egg and vanilla and beat for another minute. 

3) In another bowl, whisk flour, baking soda and salt. Add this to wet ingredients and beat just until mixed. 

4) Next, fold popcorn into batter. It will break down and mix in, despite seeming like too much popcorn. Once popcorn is mixed in, add in dark chocolate.

5) Drop tablespoons of dough onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 10-13 minutes until golden brown. Let rest on sheet for a few minutes then cool on rack.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Observation Tuesday: Volume 59

Guys, I'm on a plane. Happy Tuesday! Favorite on line observations this week:

Monday, July 22, 2013

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

Happy Cookie Week. There is another good one coming at you on Friday. But for today, lets focus on these peanut butter cookies.
My husband declared these the perfect mixture of crunch and chewy. Then he wondered how I made them without flour. I said oats and science. I can't explain the science part though.
The dough for this will seem pretty wet. And the cookies seem a little undone. Rest assured the dough is okay and the cookies firm up.
They don't look appealing before they're baked. I mean, look at that mess of a mixing bowl.
If you used gluten free oats you've got some celiac-friendly cookies too.
By the way, if you look at the original recipe her cookies are way thicker than mine. Not sure why mine turned out differently but I like how they turned out. Enjoy!
Flourless Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2/3 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup chocolate chips
To Make:

1) Preheat oven to 350 and line two baking sheets with parchment papers.

2) Stir together oats and baking soda with a fork. Using a mixer, combine peanut butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla for 3-5 minutes. With a wooden spoon stir in oats and baking soda, then chocolate chips.

3) Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon, put dough onto baking sheets. Bake for 10-11 minutes until golden brown. Let cool on baking sheet. Store in airtight container. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Snapshot Sunday: July 21

Sneak peak of our trip for you. This was from the terrace at our hotel in Cappadocia, Turkey at sunrise. Next time, I'll be on one,

Friday, July 19, 2013

Pizza Sauce

It's Friday. Therefore you should make a pizza. Logical? Totally. And to put on top of your pizza? This sauce. 
It's literally the easiest sauce to make in the world. No lie. Canned tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs (dried or fresh), salt and pepper and some balsamic. (Not pictured? A pinch of sugar). And you can work with whatever tomatoes you've got on had. The original recipe calls for crushed, but if you have diced or whole, no big deal; just drain about half the liquid then blend the sauce.
 Now, toppings to go on top of the sauce is a whole other ball game. My husband is a meat man; pepperoni, sausage, the more the better. Me? I'm all about the veggies and fancy cheese, goat cheese and corn is my latest favorite. A little arugula is also right up my alley.
 Our only compromise is Hawaiian pizza. Canadian bacon and pineapple is our happy place for sharing. But we both agree on this sauce.
So make some, freeze some for later and enjoy your weekend.
Pizza Sauce
from my mother-in-law

  • 1 large can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp italian seasoning (or fresh herbs if you have them)
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp garlic
  • 1-2 tsp sugar
  • S&P to taste
To Make

1) In a medium sauce pan add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste (to make sauce as thick as you like, start with a little and add more as you need), seasoning, vinegar, sugar and garlic. 

2) Simmer over medium high heat until sauce bubbles slightly. Add S&P to taste and extra tomato paste to thicken. Simmer about 20 minutes until your pizza is ready to make. Can be kept refrigerated for 1 week or frozen. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Books: The Revised Fundaments of Caregiving, Mountains Beyond Mountains, Poser

The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison
Evison tells the story of Ben Benjamin the the life he crafts for himself after losing his family, his job and stability. He embarks on the career path of a caregiver after going to a 28 hour course titled, The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving. He ends up working with Trev, a debilitated teenager, who lives in the same house with the same routines day in and day out. The journey they end up on together brings them in contact with characters, a runaway teen, a man violating parole and his pregnant girlfriend, than change their lives for the better. I love the story Evison told through these unusual characters. It's engaging and relational. The things Ben and Trev have gone through in their past and learn as the book unfolds are intense but told in a meaningful, and not horrifically sad way, which fit the book well. I give it 4/5 stars. 

My favorite quote from the book.

Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder
When I started this biography of Dr. Paul Farmer I had no idea who he was. It came highly recommended by a friend of mine and generally like books about medical people so I figured why not. To give you an idea of who he is:
"At the center of Mountains Beyond Mountains stands Paul Farmer. Doctor, Harvard professor, renowned infectious-disease specialist, anthropologist, the recipient of a MacArthur “genius” grant, world-class Robin Hood, Farmer was brought up in a bus and on a boat, and in medical school found his life’s calling: to diagnose and cure infectious diseases and to bring the lifesaving tools of modern medicine to those who need them most." - from Amazon
He's incredibly interesting, driven man who started working in Haiti and from there honestly changed the world. Much of his time in medical school was spent split between Haiti and time at Harvard. Kidder also tells about his journey founding Partners in Health and finding protocols to help cure multi-drug resistant TB in prisions in Moscow. To write the book Kidder spent years getting to know Farmer through interviews, emails and traveling with him. It took me a little while to really become invested in the book and man, but by the end I was totally inspired. 4/5 stars.

Poser: My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses by Clair Dederer

Dederer writes a memior about her life and study of yoga as each relates to a specific pose. She grew up in Seattle in the 1970s and begins yoga in her thirties after getting married and having her first child. Over the span of a few years her knowledge and ability in yoga grow and her life changes with it. I appreciated the references to the Seattle I have grown to love (gray walks around Greenlake, mothers wearing Dansko clogs). I also enjoyed her descriptions of yoga classes she goes to, from the too perfect young women with slicked back ponytails to the falling dramatically out of handstand. Reading the book took me much longer than a book like this usually does and I think it's because it's almost depressing at times. She's real about her life, stress in her marriage, her upbringing with separated parents, etc. but it was almost too much. I think I expected to see a little bit more joy and because of that wasn't as engaged with the book. 3/5 stars.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Observation Tuesday: Volume 58

I'm totally obsessed with this group, Nikki Bluhm and The Grumblers. Their You Tube channel is a bunch of them singing covers while driving in a van. Watch the Here Comes the Sun cover.

Do you need something to waste more time with on your phone? Get Dots. It's a weird engaging game sort of like Bejeweled that I love.

SUMMER BUCKET LIST. I'm totally down with the fact that most of these involved eating and/or drinking.

Just for a dose of cuteness, Babies Experienceing Things For the First Time.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Snapshot Sunday: July 14

You guys! Hey! I leave for vacation in 2 days! Sorry about the exclamation points! I'm just really excited! Here is my week, which turned out pretty awesome because of a last minute visit from my parents.
Iced vanilla lattes are my jam. 
Love warm weather so I can drink these

Went raspberry picking. May have gone overboard.
7.5 lbs

After we wandered around aimlessly in this state park.
Aimless wandering is not my jam.

My very American breakfast.

Biked to a park.
These ducks got up in our business.

So glad to have these guys visiting!

Have a great week everybody!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Mediterranean Cous Cous Salad

I'm not a huge recipe repeater. In fact, in my first year or marriage I don't think I made the same thing twice, except for pizza. I just really love trying new things and mixing it up.
I've mellowed from that a little bit but not a ton; I'd rather make something new most days. 

The reason I told you that is to emphasize that when I say I've made this four times in a month and a half you realize that's a big deal. This salad is REALLY GOOD. It's become my go to potluck, picnic, lunch thing. Try it. You'll see.
Also big news! I found a can opener I don't loathe! It's kitchen aid and I got mine at TJ Maxx.
Back to the salad. It's got some great ingredients and is perfect for summer. It doesn't involve a stove, is good warm or cold and you can use fresh basil and tomatoes. If you add some grilled chicken you've got a main course too. 
You also combine the flavors or sun dried tomatoes and marinated artichoke hearts. You can't go wrong. 
Tip: Don't spill the cous cous. It's messy to clean up.
Hop on the cous cous salad train! (Oh and feel free to add some red onion, I'm not a huge fan so I skip it, but if its your jam just go for it).
Mediterranean Cous Cous Salad
  • 1 cup Trader Joe's Cous Cous
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 1 jar marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, in olive oil
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • juice from one lemon
  • Olive oil
To Make:

1) Prepare cous cous according to directions on the box. Or you can boil the water in a large glass measuring cup, then pour in olive oil and cous cous and cover with pastic wrap. Let sit for 15 minutes then fluff with a fork. 

2) Prep your ingredients: drain and rinse garbanzo beans. Cut the marinated artichoke hearts into smaller pieces. Halve the cherry tomatoes. Chop basil into bite sized pieces. 

3) Pour cous cous into large bowl. Add in the rest of the prepared ingredients and feta cheese and mix well. Squeeze lemon juice on top and add a little bit of olive oil. Toss and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Bran Muffins

Do you remember the movie Stranger than Fiction? It's Will Ferrel as an IRS auditor and his real life is being narrated by an author writing her latest book. One of my all time favorite movie scenes is from that movie. 
Will Farrell is auditng a woman who own a bakery, played by Maggie Gyllenhaal. She's a hippie and has arm tattoos (read: I want to be her) and has totally messed up her taxes for years. Will Ferrel, the typical boring, number-obsessed auditor, is assigned to her, while having his life narrated. A fantastic romantic, comedy, drama ensues.
After insulting her during several of their interactions Farrell's brings Maggie Gyllenhaal's character flours. Not flowers. She's a baker and he gifts her fancy types of flour. It's punny, adorable and involves baking. I love it.
I realize that was the worst description of a movie scene ever. Just go watch it.
This bran muffin recipe sort of reminds me of that movie. We've got oat flour, barley flour, flax meal and oat bran. Our intestines are going to love us.
It also makes a massive amount (read 24) muffins which makes it perfect for refrigerating some  of the dough so later on this week you can get up and bake yourself some fresh muffins for breakfast in the morning with minimal effort.
It's also adaptable, you can use shredded carrots or smashed bananas, or blueberries, or raisins as filling. And the flour mixture is pretty flexible as long as you keep the same amount of flours equal. Pretty sure you could bust out with some gluten free oat flour and be in business as well.
A couple other tips: use muffin liners as these are pretty moist and a little oily when they come out so are better for handling with liners. And err on the side of baking a little longer than you think necessary.
Get on it today and make these muffins. You'll be glad you did.
Also real life, I stress ate too many of these while planning my trip to Greece. Booking hotels is hard.
Bran Muffins
Makes 24

  • 1 1/8 cups oat flour
  • 1 1/8 cup barley flour
  • 1 1/8 cup flax meal
  • 1 1/8 cup oat bran
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/8 cup oil
  • 1 1/8 cup milk
  • 1 1/8 cup applesauce
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup fruit - blueberries, raisins, shredded carrots, chopped bananas
To Make

1) Preheat oven to 350*. Combine all flours, baking powder, salt, sugars and cinnamon. 

2) In separate bowl combine all wet ingredients. Stir into flour mixture just until combined. Lastly fold in fruit.

3) Line muffin pan with paper liners. Bake for about 25-30 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes in the pan and finish on a rack. Repeat with rest of batter or store leftover batter in the refrigerator. Enjoy!