Category Archives: Sweets & Treats

Mmm…. Lemon-y

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Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins are a specialty of mine, and the lemon flavor in baked goods is one that I happen to be a huge fan of. I have a great muffin recipe that I’ll have to make again and share with you all soon, but that’s not the focus of today’s post.

Instead, I tried to branch out and find other sweet recipes that incorporated lemon and poppy seeds. After browsing the world wide web, I found this one for Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies.

Lemon Poppy Seed Goodness

Lemon Poppy Seed Goodness

If I’m being entirely honest though, I need to make this a few more times to get it to meet my expectations. The flavor was magnificent, but the texture was not where I wanted it to be; the cookies were a bit too crumbly before going into the oven, which made them become either too thin after baked or they were vulnerable to falling apart. There were some casualties that broke into a bunch of cookie nuggets while I tried to pry them off of the baking sheet.

Next time, I think I am going to leave the batter in the refrigerator for 30 minutes after step 6 before balling them up and placing them in the oven… that should hopefully help them become a little more viscous. We shall see!

Anyway, here’s the list of ingredients along with the recipe itself. If anyone tries this and has better success then me, please clue me in as to what you did!

Ingredients:
– 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1-1/2 lemons)
– 3 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (about 1-1/2 or 2 lemons)
– 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
– 1 1/2 cups sugar
– 1 large egg
– 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
– 2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 teaspoon baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
– 1 tablespoon poppy seeds, plus more for sprinkling

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a small saucepan, bring the lemon juice to a simmer over medium heat and cook until reduced by half. Add 1/2 cup butter and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds. Set aside.
4. In a bowl, combine 1 cup of sugar and 2 teaspoons of the lemon zest, rubbing the zest and sugar together with your fingers until the zest is distributed and the sugar is fragrant. Add remaining 1/2 cup of butter and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).
5. Add the egg and the butter/juice mixture. Continue to beat until pale, (about another 3 minutes). Mix in the vanilla.
6. Reduce speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing just until combined.
7. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon zest. Form dough into small balls about 1″ in diameter. Roll each in the sugar/zest mixture and place about 2″ apart on baking sheet. Gently flatten each ball to about 1/4″ thick with the bottom of a glass that’s been dipped in the sugar mixture.
8. Bake for about 12-13 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the cookies just begin to brown around the edges. Allow to cool on a wire rack for a couple minutes before removing from the cookie sheet to cool completely.

Enjoy my dears!!

Banana-Strawberry Bread

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I must say, I have had a very productive morning.

I already hit the gym (it was arm day), did some lumosity to keep my brain sharp, and I still had some time to kill before I had to leave for work, so I decided to put the browning bananas on my counter to use and make Banana-Strawberry Bread! I made some changes to this recipe, and it came out scrumptious!

Banana-Strawberry BreadThe problem I usually seem to run into with banana bread is that the outer edges tend to be done much quicker than the inside, so I wind up having to sacrifice some outside bits in order to not have a goopy inside. If anyone has any tips to eradicate this I am all ears and eyes!! However, although in the picture the edges look a bit browned, they didn’t taste burnt at all, which was such a pleasant surprise! Score one for the home team.

What’s Inside??
1 cup all-purpose flour (use whole wheat if you can, I just didn’t have any on hand)
1 cup almond flour (quinoa flour is also a great alternative!)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup fat free greek yogurt
2 room temperature eggs
2  ripe bananas (lightly mash/break up before adding)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup strawberries (hull and slice)

Let’s Bake It!
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease loaf pan and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, combine flours, baking soda and sea salt, set aside.
3. In separate bowl (stand mixer if you have it), beat butter on low until pale and light (~3 minutes). Add in sugar, beat, then mix in the eggs one at a time. Next, add bananas, yogurt and vanilla. Finally, fold in the flour and then strawberries, mixing until just combined. Some berries can be saved for top as well.
4. Pour into pan and bake 60-70 minutes/until a toothpick poked in the middle comes out clean.
5. Cool for 20 minutes, then remove from pan and cool another 40 minutes before serving.
6. Enjoy!

Ale vs. Lager

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Bonjour – and Happy Friday!

I have come to the realization that I might be a seminar addict, which I think I may just chalk up to the fact that I like to learn and expand my repertoire of knowledge. That works, right? Either way, I’ve been going to my fair share of seminars lately, and I thought I would pass along the wealth I obtained from the one I attended on Wednesday night at this fabulous liquor store in Cranston called Wines & More. Seriously though, this place is badass and I highly recommend you check it out, especially if you like [good] beers. The owner and staff also happen to be grand.

Now, the information!

In case you weren’t aware, there are two branches of beer in the world – Ale and Lager. The differences are best described in the picture below:

As you can see, Ales use warm water with the yeast at the top of the fermentation tank, whereas Lagers use cold water with the yeast at the bottom of the tank. Ales are easier to brew because 1) they take much less time from start to finish, and 2) you can brew them in warmer climates like a closet, where Lagers need to be kept in refrigeration (mo’ money). The yeast in Lagers is apparently more aggressive than those in Ales, and many more “good” Ales exist, despite Lagers making up ~ 90% of the beer population {but that’s mainly because Budweiser and those poopy beers are Lagers}. However, the reason we probably see more microbrews doing Ales over Lagers these days is because they’re cheaper with a quick turn around; economically efficient!

I went into this seminar thinking it was just that… a seminar. So, I was very pleasantly surprised when the lecturer had 10 different beers lined up on his table and informed us that this was also a beer tasting. YES. Not only did I get to learn stuff, but I got to drink beers while doing it. And did I mention that this was free?? Life >>>

Here are the beers I drank:

  1. “Würzburger Pilsner” by Würzburger Hofbräu. LAGER. Yes, this is very German; it reminds me of Beerfest and I’m wondering if this is the kind of beer Farva drowned in. Obviously, brewed in Germany. It is a Pils (short for Pilsner) with an earthy, spicy, herbal taste. 4.9% abv. This type of beer apparently is very hard to make taste good, so hats off to the Germans across the pond because it tasted swell.
  2. “American Pale Ale” by Stoneface. ALE. Stoneface is a new brewery based out of New Hampshire, and after trying this I should probably make the trek up there sometime soon. No British hops were used in the making of this, only the American kind – falconers flight to be exact and it was dry hopped. 5.6% abv.
  3. “Leisure Time” by Jack’s Abby. LAGER. Another local brewery (Massachusetts), Jack’s Abby has been a favorite of my dad’s for a while. They’re super awesome because unlike the rest of the microbrewery population, they only make Lagers, and they are killing it. This beer was a Belgian Whit, but a Lager version. 4.8% abv. With chamomile brewed into it, it really is good for lounging around, and there’s no intense tongue coating/lingering aftertaste like you get with Ales.
  4. “Vitus” by Weihenstephaner. LAGER. Okay, this German beer kicks ass and I am eternally grateful to the fine fellow who ran the seminar and introduced it to me. This is a spicy single-bock ale with vanilla, banana, bubblegum, citrus and clove flavors, and at 7.7% abv this bad boy packs a mighty punch, but doesn’t taste like it’s as potent as it is. {Danger, Will Robinson}. Having won world-class beer awards, you don’t even have to take my word for it. It also happens to be one of the oldest breweries around, having been founded around the year 1000. Basically, you should buy this beer next time you go to the booze store.
  5. “Granola Brown” by Black Hog. ALE. These guys have some really awesome artwork on their cans; I’ve bought “Ginja’ Ninja” by them before strictly for the aesthetics. Another local brewery located in Oxford, Connecticut, this actually tastes like granola and has a mildly viscous texture to it. Brown ales are one of the oldest styles of beer and usually are watery, making this one an outlier. 5.7% abv.
  6. “Kyritzer Mord Und Totschlag” by Klosterbrauerei Neuzelle GmbH. LAGER. Probably I don’t need to tell you this is from Germany, but I should say that the beer name translates to “Murder and Manslaughter”. This is a Schwarzbier style beer, black lager, with a smokey, chocolate flavor and a smooth clean finish. Originally brewed for knights (hence the name) in 1488. 7.2% abv.
  7. “Flower Power” by Ithaca. ALE. An India Pale Ale brewed in New York, this is an English style brewski with pineapple, malt, honey and apricot flavors. Flower Power is hopped/dry-hopped five times throughout the brewing and fermentation process. 7.5% abv.
  8. “Hoponius Union” by Jack’s Abby. LAGER. Jack’s Abby was the first brewery to ever make an India Pale Lager, and this is their brainchild. With a crisp, non-lingering bitterness (65 ibu’s), this is a very session-able beer that is easy to hang out with. 6.7% abv.
  9. “Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock” by Privatbrauerei Franz Inselkammer KG / Brauerei Aying. LAGER. Once again, Germany is killing it in the beer department. This type of beer is a Doppelbock, and if you ever wondered why there are goats on the labels, there’s a pun-ny story behind it, but you’ll have to look it up or ask me. These beers were brewed by – and for – Bavarian monks, and dubbed “liquid bread”. This is how they supposedly got nutrients when they were fasting. Considered a world-class beer, it has toffee, raisin, plum and citrus tones. Drink this puppy cold. 6.7% abv.
  10. “Péché Mortel” by Brasserie Dieu du Ciel! ALE. Despite being brewed in Canada, I still love it for it’s French name, Mortal Sin. Even though it’s 9.5% abv, this beer honestly doesn’t taste like beer; it takes like a giant espresso shot. It is an imperial coffee stout that lingers longer, which should probably be savored since it is only released 4 times a year.

Fun Facts: Wheat makes beer cloudy and 100 IBUs is the highest ranking a beer can get for bitterness units.

That’s it for now. Cheers!!

Pear + Ginger

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Hi Baby Loves –

It’s midterm week for me -_- which means this will most likely be the last you hear of me until Friday when the stress is over.

Here are a few tasty recipes to tide you over in my absence.

Pear and Cheese Panini (serves 4)
Ingredients: – 2 t fresh, grated ginger
– 8 slices whole-wheat sourdough bread, 1/2″ thick
– 4 oz blue cheese
– 1 pear, cored and sliced
– 1 c baby arugula
– cooking spray/butter/what have you

Directions: – Rub ginger across one side of every bread slice
– Sprinkle 4 T cheese over 4 slices
– Top with pear slices, arugula, more cheese and other slice
– Spray grill pan, set medium-high heat, place sandwiches (however many will fit), cover with parchment and place large skillet on top to press
– Cook until grille marks appear, 1-2 minutes
– Flip sandwiches, cover, press for another 1-2 minutes, eat!

Health Facts: Per sandwich, 310 calories, 11 g fat (5g sat), 38 g carbs, 9g sugar, 700mg sodium, 5g fiber, 12g protein

Green Smoothie
This one is simple. Blend together: 1 pear (cored, cut), 2 c milk of choice, 2 c baby spinach, 2 t lemon juice, 1t grated fresh ginger, 1/4 t ground cardamom. Serves 2!

Poached Pears (serves 4)
Boil: 1.5 c white wine, 1.5 c water, 1/4 c sugar, 8 slices fresh ginger, 8 cloves, 1 cinnamon stick. Reduce heat to medium-low and add 2 pears (peeled, halved, cored). Cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Remove pears and cover with foil. Strain liquid and boil until reduced, 20 minutes. Spoon syrup and 2T chopped crystallized ginger over the pears.

Spiced Muffins
Combine 2 c whole-wheat flour and 1T baking powder. In a large bowl, whisk 1 c plain yogurt, 1/3 c brown sugar, 1/3 c veggie oil, 2 eggs, and 1T grated ginger. Stir into flour. Fold in 1 1/2 c shredded pears and 1/4 c diced crystallized ginger. Pour into tins, make at 400 F for 18-20 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.

Enjoy! Wish me luck studying 🙂

Mmmint Blueberry Cobbler

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Hey Y’all 🙂

I just finished making an incredibly easy, yet absolutely delicious mint blueberry cobbler, and I thought I would be nice and share the recipe with all you wonderful humans. It’s a cinch to make, I promise.

Mint Blueberry Cobbler

Ingredients:

  • 2 T finely chopped mint
  • 2/3 c sugar
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 3/4 c water
  • 3 c blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 t melted butter
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 c flour
  • 1 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/3 c milk
  • 3 T melted butter

Directions:

  1. In a saucepan, combine sugar, mint and cornstarch; then stir in water. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and boil for 1 minute.
  2. Add blueberries and let sit (on simmer) for about a minute. Pour mixture into a lightly buttered 9-inch pie plate. Sprinkle with cinnamon and melted butter (I combined both before sprinkling).
  3. Mix together flour, baking powder and salt. Add the milk and melted butter together in a separate bowl, then add to flour mixture.
  4. Stir just until mixture is moistened and forms balls. Drop spoonfuls onto the blueberry mixture.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes (or until lightly browned) at 425.

More Mmmm
I highly recommend you all try this baby out, especially when blueberry season starts — which thankfully is soon!

Also, in case you were wondering how something becomes considered a cobbler

Cobbler refers to a variety of dishes, particularly in the United States and United Kingdom, consisting of a fruit or savoury filling poured into a large baking dish and covered with a batter, biscuit (US) or scone (UK), before being baked. Some cobbler recipes, especially in the American South, resemble a thick-crusted, deep-dish pie with both a top and bottom crust.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Happy baking!

Apparently, Breathing Burns Fat

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News alert! I read this magazine called Prevention; I think it’s sort of catered to an older crowd than myself, but the magazine focuses on health, fitness and nutrition – all of which I love and care about – so I buy it when I see it. I totally recommend anyone in any walk of life give it a whirl someday; you never know! Anyway, I’m being discursive.

The point I wanted to share was this: you know how we’ve (well, at least I have) been led to believe that fat left your body via sweat? WRONG! Two researchers recently proved that 84% of fat exits your mouth and nose through simple exhales. How wild is that? Don’t suddenly get the lazy mentality due to this fact, though. It would be quite silly to think you can burn off a bunch of fat just my breathing a lot. You can’t replace exercise.

A thousand exhales take about a half hour [when on a hike-run]. Given that 30 minutes burns about 350 calories [for me], 3 exhales is the sound of burning 1 calorie.

Am I the only one who finds that fascinating? Essentially, you exhaling carries converted fat in the form of carbon dioxide.

Another cool fact I picked up during my reading was a way to judge the ripeness of a pineapple. If you smell the base and it has a light pineapple fragrance, then it’s a winner. Don’t focus on color.

Before learning this, I would always choose a pineapple by squeezing it – if it’s too squishy, it’s too ripe; if it’s akin to a bowling bowl, it’s not ripe enough – or by pulling on the center leaf directly in the center of the fruit. If the leaf pops out with hardly a tug, it’s a good choice. Those two methods have not let me down before, but now I have an arsenal of three!

Keep in mind that pineapple’s make a great snack to satisfy your sweet tooth. I use them a lot in juices as a sweetening agent. They are healthier for you than cookies and they contain bromelain, which is an enzyme with anti-inflammatory properties.

The best pineapple I ever had was fresh off the trees in the Costa Rican forest back in high school; we were white water rafting and that was our snack break. The tour guides cut them with machetes, it was amazing. I will never forget that pineapple and hopefully I can go back to that region for another taste. As I like to say… fresh is best. You don’t get any fresher than plucked from the tree!

Night my darlings xxoo

I’m In Love With My Mixer

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Good evening my beauties!

How is everyone doing on this rainy Saturday night? I just came back from a nice, mild climb and a filling Thai dinner with Sarah. Now, I’m sipping on a “Grey Lady” from Cisco Brewers, enjoying life. I’ve got no complaints.

In honor of today (3.14 “Pi Day”), in this post I wanted to vaunt about the new toy I acquired a few weeks ago: My Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer.

Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer

Oh gosh, is she magnificent. I’m obsessed. I purchased an Artisan Series, and there is a reason these beauties are so coveted. Seriously. I will have this for many, many moon phases and my belly (along with the bellies of loved ones) will be constantly contented. Any requests are welcome!!!

Obviously, I have been putting her to work. So far the concoctions we have created together are limited, but damn delicious. The maiden voyage were these bad boys:

THE BOMBLet me assure you, they were even better than how they looked. The were fudge brownies with an emphasis on vanilla extract (my homemade vanilla extract); the ones on the left are topped with peanut butter frosting and the ones on the right have nutella frosting. Yes, that is correct. Those didn’t last long.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

My Homemade Vanilla Extract! Jus d’Azure

Once the brownies disappeared, I made baked oatmeal with walnuts, dark chocolate, strawberries and banana. Another great success. Normally, I don’t even enjoy oatmeal, but this is one I will definitely be making again for a climbing trip breakfast.

The last project I took on were mountains of almond butter and banana bread cookies. Essentially, they were healthier shortbread cookies with a twist. Autre fois, they were thoroughly enjoyed.

Almond Butter Banana Bread Cookies

Here’s where I got really crafty: I had made too many cookies and wanted to do something creative with them. So, I smashed up a few and lined a pan with the crumble, forming a pie crust. From there, I made pecan pie bars that are deadly awesome. Need I say more? Nope.

Now that I am sufficiently drooling (kidding, sort of), I’m going to leave you all to have a little treat – aka, my pecan pie bars. Have a splendid Saturday and take advantage of Sunday… go live! Sending out my love, as always.