Cranberry Date Walnut Muffins

For Thanksgiving this year my mom made an awesome upside down cranberry-date-pecan coffee cake. Ever since then I’ve been craving that cranberry + dried dates combination, and I’ve thought about whether or not I want to make that cake. I decided making another cake wasn’t a good idea this time of year – I have been eating SO much dessert lately, I think I’m going to turn into a cupcake soon.

So instead of a cake (which we would devour without paying any attention to portion control), I made some Cranberry Date Walnut Muffins. Muffins are great for grabbing as a quick in-the-car breakfast on the way to work. And with muffins there is no pressure to finish a whole cake – if we don’t finish all of them I can just freeze a few for later.

cranberry date walnut muffins (more…)

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Pumpkin French Toast

pumpkin french toast

I loved this pumpkin french toast.

I asked Aldo what he thought and he kind of just said ”well it’s french toast but it tastes like pumpkin.” WELL YES, THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT! I don’t think he gets the pumpkin obsession that takes over girls’ minds during this time of the year. (more…)

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Coconut Agave Mojitos

I’m not a big drinker. Whenever we go out for happy hour after work, I usually have one beer. If we go out at night, my go-to drink is a vodka cranberry. Well, that’s not true. My first choice of drink would be a mojito. But since we don’t go to high-end bars where they specialize in mixed drinks, most places just don’t have mint leaves to make mojitos. Honestly, I think the last time I was at a bar that could actually make mojitos was when we were in Costa Rica a year and a half ago. Unfortunately I had food poisoning then, so I couldn’t even take advantage of all inclusive mojitos. How sad!!

We also don’t go out much – we’re getting old.  I’m turning 30 this week, and we mostly want to hang out at home at night, watch some netflix, cuddle with the cats, and talk about how our blogs are doing. (Aldo’s other identity is Million Dollar Ninja, where he writes about personal finance).

But I do miss a good mojito.

coconut agave mojitos

Luckily, they are SO easy to make! (more…)

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Sun Dried Tomato Feta Spread

So let me tell you the story behind this Sun Dried Tomato Feta Spread. This past summer (which feels like AGES ago, sadly),  Aldo and I went to a free outdoor concert to see Nickel Creek and Secret Sisters. The concert was at the Prospect Park Bandshell in Brooklyn. We sat next to a couple that does outdoor concerts the right way – they brought a ton of picnicking food with them. Not just simple sandwiches, but all kinds of appetizers, dips, spreads, crackers, veggies, and they even brought wine in a thermos! These people were way more prepared than we were.

I tried not to make them uncomfortable by eyeing their food the whole time, but at one point I couldn’t resist – they took out a container of something I couldn’t identify. I’m nosy – I asked the man what it was and he said a word I’ve never heard of before. After seeing my confusion, he explained that it was a feta spread, and they had two different kinds with them – a sun dried tomato version and an olive version.

Boy, that sounded good!! I immediately turned to Aldo and said “I HAVE TO MAKE THAT SOMETIME.

sun dried tomato feta

 

(more…)

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Apple Raspberry Crisp with Oat Pecan Topping

We were assigned the delicious task of bringing dessert to Aldo’s family’s Thanksgiving. :) Now, I love baking for other people, but I am also pretty lazy and have to be in the right baking mood in order to bake something spectacular. But here is where this apple raspberry crisp comes in – it is super easy to make with only 10-15 minutes of hand-on work. Apple/cherry/raspberry crisps are my go-to desserts for bringing to dinner parties for this reason.

apple raspberry crisp

(more…)

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Crispy Sweet Potato Roast with Parsley Salsa Verde

Oh man, ever since I saw this sweet potato recipe from Smitten Kitchen, I just couldn’t stop thinking about making this dish. I just loved that it is a savory sweet potato dish, and there is a delicious fresh sauce that goes on top and adds a burst of flavor and color. And the fact that you get nice soft baked potatoes AND the crispy edges on top is just perfection.

crispy sweet potato

The funny thing is my friend from work (hi Lisa!) stopped by my office earlier this week, we were talking about Thanksgiving recipes, and she mentioned that she saw an amazing sweet potato dish recently on some food blog… and immediately I knew she had to be talking about the same recipe that I was smitten with since I saw it a few days ago (get it? smitten? Smitten Kitchen?). :) (more…)

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Best Chicken Parm Recipe

best chicken parm recipe

We got back from our vacation in Italy several days ago, and I’m still adjusting to normal non-vacation life. What that means, for the most part, is that I am falling asleep very early every night and constantly taking naps.. and getting grumpy when I have to clean the apartment.

Our vacation was awesome. We went to Rome, Naples, Pompeii, Florence, and Venice. All in 10 days. So we were very busy. I’ll write about each of the cities in detail in my travel blog (NonstopfromJFK), but for now I’ll just say that each of the cities was very different and beautiful, with so many amazing things to see… and that we ate lots of good food in each one (except Pompeii, of course. Although we did bring some good picnicking food from Naples, so I guess we ate good food in Pompeii as well.).

Eating out in Italy is a bit tricky if you’re on a budget, and a bit different than eating out in the US. Budget-wise, you have to watch out for things like per-person table fees, service charges, bread charges, and per-person wine charges (even if you order the whole bottle of wine, some places still charge you for the number of wine glasses your table needs). Those things can really add up at a couple of Euro per meal.

But the other thing that ended up being unusual was that Italians sit down and eat their meals in courses. The first course generally consists of either soup, pasta, or risotto. The second course is the meat or fish. You can, of course, ask for the two courses to be brought together, but that is not common there. So if you want to enjoy your pasta with your veal cutlet, tough luck.

The other weird part, is that in most places that second course was kind of boring. It would literally be a breaded veal cutlet without any sauce, or a sausage, or a chicken breast. I was surprised that they didn’t have the things that we consider typical in Italian restaurants, such as Chicken Parm.

But the pizza… the pizza was so good everywhere! Each city had their own style of crust, and I would have to say Naples was the big winner.

When we got home and I asked Aldo what he wanted me to cook for his birthday, he said Chicken Parm. Not a surprise, since he orders that at every Italian restaurant (in the US at least).

As I was making this chicken parm, I told Aldo that I think I make the best chicken parm I’ve ever tasted. He agreed and actually got a little upset, because he’s told me that before, but apparently I didn’t believe him and I am only realizing that now about my chicken parm.

So, what makes this chicken parm the best chicken parm recipe ever? I think it’s these 4 things: (more…)

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Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin and Chicken Moroccan Stew

Ahh, pumpkin season. The time when all food blogs are overrun with all kinds of pumpkin dessert recipes. I LOVE pumpkin dessert – cheesecakes, pies, bars, ANYTHING - pumpkin is so good and the spices that accompany it are so delicious. But I try not to make dessert more than a couple of times a month. There is so much candy and birthday cake at work, that even without making dessert we end up eating too much sweets.

So what do you do when you are craving delicious pumpkin but have gone to TWO birthday parties this weekend and it would almost be sinful to make pumpkin pie after eating birthday cake all weekend? Why, you make savory pumpkin recipes, of course. I modified this awesome recipe from closet cooking to make it a bit simpler: Pumpkin Chicken Tagine

This pumpkin chicken Moroccan stew is one of my favorite things that I’ve had in a long while. It is SO flavorful and delicious. It’s just a bit spicy but also sweet from the apples, honey, and dried cranberries. And it also contains pretty much all the spices that go into a pumpkin pie, so it has SO much flavor!

chicken Moroccan stew

Traditionally, a Moroccan stew is cooked in a pot called tagine (more…)

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Whole Wheat Carrot Cake Pancakes

Ever since I made the Wheat Germ Blueberry Muffins, I’ve been on a kick to keep our breakfasts interesting. I keep wanting to make pumpkin pancakes (one of my favorites!), but we just keep getting more and more carrots in our CSA. So I decided to get creative and make carrot cake pancakes! Of course, I used white whole wheat flour, just like I do for most recipes. It’s my secret trick – it doesn’t get as dense as regular whole wheat flour. This means that I can use only whole wheat flour in my recipes instead of having to add all purpose flour like most recipes suggest.

whole wheat carrot cake pancakes

The awesome thing about these pancakes (other than the flavor, of course), is that you can customize them a bit to your liking – you can add raisins and/or walnuts and/or pecans. Or you can increase the spice if you like that kind of thing. This is YOUR breakfast, so you do what you want with it! (more…)

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Creamy Turnip Potato Soup

I mentioned that this year will be the year of soup, and I wasn’t kidding. Soup is just so warming and filling and delicious, I don’t get how Aldo doesn’t like it! Although he did eat the coconut curry butternut squash soup and admitted that it’s really good. So maybe there is hope yet in converting him to a soup lover.

creamy turnip potato soup

This time I made a turnip potato soup. Now I love love love pureed potato soups (yes, they get three loves). This time I wanted something a little different, and a little lighter in calories. Turnips are awesome root vegetables that barely have any calories in them. So for this recipe, I used about 2 pounds of turnips and 1.5 pounds of potatoes. More than half the soup is made from healthy, low calorie turnips. This soup is very creamy in texture without adding any half and half or cream. (more…)

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