Posts tagged food

whole wheat pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

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with six foot snow drifts mounting outside my door and about a 36” cover of snow everywhere else in sight, there were few things i wanted to do during this blizzard other than eat grilled cheese and tomato soup.

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…ask and you shall receive.

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(that little mirror over on the right side of the picture is my car. awesome.)

anyway, i was glued to my couch working from home all day friday and saturday, but once saturday night came around, i was going a little stir crazy. first on my list was whole wheat banana-pumpkin muffins for breakfasts this week. before i started to put everything away, though, i realized i had 1/4 a can of pumpkin hanging around, all my baking goodies out and nowhere to go. so… i made some healthy whole wheat pumpkin dark chocolate chip cookies. in the entire batch, there is less than 1/2 a cup of sugar, whole wheat flour and rolled oats, pumpkin puree, no oil or butter.

unlike 99% of my recipes, i didn’t take step-by-step photos of this one because - to be honest - i didn’t have high hopes! this summer, i was tasked with making oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for my friend adam and i tried 3-4 times before getting them right. when trying to healthify cookies, i sometimes lose my mojo.

to my surprise, they turned out fantastic and i couldn’t help but share them. you get some finished product pictures instead of step-by-step, but i’ll walk you through the process anyway.

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1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1 egg

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 c. rolled oats

3/4 c. whole wheat flour

1/4 c. brown sugar

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp ground cinnamon

pinch of nutmeg

1/3 c. dark chocolate chips

tips & things to do/know before you get started:

-preheat your oven to 350 degrees

-this recipe makes appx. 16 decent-sized cookies

-because there’s no butter/oil, they won’t rise/spread like “normal” cookies, so feel free to put them closer to one another on the baking sheet, but also flatten them out a bit so you don’t wind up with thick cookie puffs

okay now that that’s all settled, let’s get baking!

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in a small bowl, whisk together your wet ingredients (pumpkin, vanilla, eggs) and set aside.

in a larger bowl, stir together the dry ingredients, aside from the chocolate chips. once everything is well-mixed, pour the wet ingredients into the dry. the dough will be fairly dry - don’t worry about it. mix in the chocolate chips and make sure they’re evenly-distributed throughout the dough.

line your baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease it. roll the cookie dough into balls, flatten them slightly and place them on the cookie sheet. (note: since my dough seemed a little dry, i made sure to knead slightly with my hands to make sure all the flour/dry ingredients were mixed in).

pop them into the 350-degree oven for 13-15 minutes, depending on how well-done you like your cookies.

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delicious :) enjoy!

xxoo,

eliz

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#healthy

#food

#recipes

#pumpkin

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#dark chocolate

#whole grain

(slightly lighter) magnolia bakery banana pudding

i love a good cupcake. like LOVE. whenever i would take the train home from NYC in the last year or two, i would pop over to the little magnolia bakery stand in grand central and get a treat for the ride home. it would be pretty darn difficult to convince me to get something other than their cupcakes because i even like their frosting and i am NOT a frosting person.

then one day, i was feeling daring. i had heard rumors that their banana pudding was their truly hidden gem, better than any cupcake and i didn’t believe it. i was in new york for a couple of days and knew i could always grab a cupcake later if said pudding was gross, so i went ahead and tried it. let me tell you! it was practically life-changing. HOLY COW!

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fluffy, light, sweet, chunks of banana, nilla wafers sort of soaked by the pudding so they were cakey, not crunchy. basically, i wanted to bathe in this stuff.

fast forward to a visit from my friends allie & adam this december. i had a hankering for some pudding (because, well, when do i not crave it??) and as a surprise, they brought some in with them from the city (!!!). best surprise ever?

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i ate it slowly because i didn’t want it to end, so i was on the 1-2 Tablespoon a day plan until i realized it would go bad at that rate. i even (gasp) shared some of it.

as soon as it was over, though, i needed more. my schedule would not allow for any trips to new york soon, so i was left to my own devices, the internet and the grocery store. turns out their recipe had been released a few years ago in the magnolia bakery cookbook.

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in all honesty, i didn’t follow this recipe completely (in hopes of reducing a wee bit of the sugar and fat). it still tasted AMAZING, i felt a little less guilty about eating it, but the pudding just didn’t have the light, fluffy texture that the real stuff has. to be honest… i’m okay with that. the magnolia version is an amazing treat a few times a year - this stuff was a nice compromise.

if you’re interested in the real recipe, buy the book check it out here. if you don’t mind nixing half the evaporated milk, holding off on half the cookies or swapping out heavy cream for the lighter variety, check out my version here!

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ingredients

8 oz. sweetened condensed milk (1/2 a standard 16 oz. can)

1 1/2 c. cold water

small box instant vanilla pudding

1.5 cups light cream

1/2 box Nilla wafers

3 bananas, sliced

not too intimidating of an ingredient list, eh?

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first mix together your sweetened condensed milk, pudding and water in a medium bowl. once it’s dissolved together, pop it in the fridge and let it sit for 3-4 hours.

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i tried to whip my light cream and fast forward… it does nothing but froth it. i actually liked this step, but feel free to skip it. by using light instead of heavy cream, you not only save plenty of fat, but you also take away the ability to make whipped cream. hence the lack of the light, fluffy pudding found in the original. this method still makes it less “gloppy” and solid than normal pudding, though, so i recommend it!

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anywho, after you whip/attempt to whip the cream, fold in your pudding that should be set in the fridge.

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while that sits for a second, slice up your bananas and open up the nilla wafers. get out a large glass bowl/trifle and then get to layering!

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pudding > bananas > nillas so on and so forth until you run out of all the ingredients! make sure you’re topping it all off with a final layer of pudding.

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and there you have it! a slightly less decadent, still totally amazing version of magnolia bakery’s famous banana pudding :) enjoy!

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#nyc

#magnolia

#bananas

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#food

tasty sea salt caramels from the hostess with the mostess, gail! in adorable, festive packaging, at that. similar recipe can be found here on cupcakes and cashmere!

tasty sea salt caramels from the hostess with the mostess, gail! in adorable, festive packaging, at that. similar recipe can be found here on cupcakes and cashmere!

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#candy

#recipe

#food

apple & cranberry sauce

i finally, finally made a contribution to the thanksgiving table year! the best part was i made this the day before the holiday, so i could stay out of dad’s way while he was preparing the actual feast. (truth be told, we went out to eat on thanksgiving this year and then had a mini family thanksgiving dinner on black friday! best of both worlds.)

i love my nona’s traditional cranberry sauce, but instead of mimicking her exact recipe, i looked for a new, unique one to use on my own. i found this one from cooking light and based my recipe off that, just tweaking a few measurements. it got rave reviews and i can’t recommend it enough! it’s not quite as tart as some cranberry sauce recipes, which i really liked. it made the side go better with the rest of the plate! i thought the cinnamon and apples were a FANTASTIC touch.

i realize i should have posted this before thanksgiving, but i’m posting now in hopes you can enjoy this for christmas dinner :) happy holidays!

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ingredients:

2 chopped, peeled granny smith apples (appx. 1.5 cups)

1 bag (12 oz.) fresh cranberries

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup white grape juice

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

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peel the apples and chop the fruit into 1/2” pieces. wash and rinse your cranberries, too.

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combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil (watch out for exploding cranberries! they’ll get ya in the eye!). reduce heat and let simmer for about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

let it cool, store it in the fridge and serve chilled. it’ll firm up the longer it cools.

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since i hate gravy, this is my favorite thing to eat on top of turkey! enjoy :)

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#food

#holidays

#cranberries

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italian for dinner! simple swap: instead of regular spaghetti & meatballs, we roasted some spaghetti squash and topped it with turkey meatballs and marinara. SO filling. next time we buy a spaghetti squash, i’ll do a tutorial!

italian for dinner! simple swap: instead of regular spaghetti & meatballs, we roasted some spaghetti squash and topped it with turkey meatballs and marinara. SO filling. next time we buy a spaghetti squash, i’ll do a tutorial!

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#healthy

#recipe

#food

#italian

to celebrate my mom’s birthday, we took her out to dinner at j restaurant in hartford and with my third trip there, i can honestly say it just keeps getting better and better!
i went to my friend’s bridal shower there 2+ years ago and a monthly dinner with the girls back in april. this time, a family visit, everyone loved their dinner just as much as all my previous visits.
last time, i ordered crab cakes and a greek salad, which was great and not too heavy. this time, i opted for the seared sea scallops with shoestring potatoes and asparagus, along with the signature salad (subbed goat cheese in place of blue cheese, with cranberries, pears and pecans).
my one staple every time i’ve gone: the sweet chili calamari. it’s unreal - unlike any calamari i’ve ever had before - lightly battered, not greasy and served with the best sweet chili glaze.
the birthday girl got a bacon-wrapped tenderloin with mashed potatoes, spinach and asparagus, while my dad got a spicy sausage and pasta dish with tomato, arugula and parmesan.
to finish it off, we shared one creme brulee with three spoons and it was a perfect end to the meal. i really can’t recommend j enough - i’ve enjoyed every meal i’ve had there, as has everyone i’ve been with.
it has its own parking lot and is located right next to hartford hospital/across the street from the connecticut children’s medical center. pretty easy to get to and well worth venturing downtown for.
j restaurant & bar | 297 washington street | hartford, ct 06106

to celebrate my mom’s birthday, we took her out to dinner at j restaurant in hartford and with my third trip there, i can honestly say it just keeps getting better and better!

i went to my friend’s bridal shower there 2+ years ago and a monthly dinner with the girls back in april. this time, a family visit, everyone loved their dinner just as much as all my previous visits.

last time, i ordered crab cakes and a greek salad, which was great and not too heavy. this time, i opted for the seared sea scallops with shoestring potatoes and asparagus, along with the signature salad (subbed goat cheese in place of blue cheese, with cranberries, pears and pecans).

my one staple every time i’ve gone: the sweet chili calamari. it’s unreal - unlike any calamari i’ve ever had before - lightly battered, not greasy and served with the best sweet chili glaze.

the birthday girl got a bacon-wrapped tenderloin with mashed potatoes, spinach and asparagus, while my dad got a spicy sausage and pasta dish with tomato, arugula and parmesan.

to finish it off, we shared one creme brulee with three spoons and it was a perfect end to the meal. i really can’t recommend j enough - i’ve enjoyed every meal i’ve had there, as has everyone i’ve been with.

it has its own parking lot and is located right next to hartford hospital/across the street from the connecticut children’s medical center. pretty easy to get to and well worth venturing downtown for.

j restaurant & bar | 297 washington street | hartford, ct 06106

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#hartford

#food

chicken & orzo salad with lemon herb vinaigrette

a week or so ago, in response to my salad a day post, my friend leeza sent me a recipe for a lemon herb vinaigrette she had just tried. it sounded delicious and i knew i wanted to come up with a summery dinner salad to go with it. my wheels started turning and i had visions of going to the grocery store, picking out some great ingredients on my off day and whipping up something great.

…then i had car troubles, my car was stuck at the shop for the day and i was stranded at home. (more on that when i tell you about my weekend in newport!) good things about being stranded at home: it gave me motivation for a practice 5K before saturday and time to wrap up a couple of freelance projects. bad news: no way to get to the market!

instead, i rummaged through the cabinets and fridge and decided to use whatever we had on hand. the moral of this story is:this summery salad is totally customizable. it can be served hot or cold and can use what you’ve got! use my recipe as a guideline, but get creative :) in short, find a grain/pasta, a protein and some veggies. then follow the steps below and you’ll have a delicious meal.

in my case, we had orzo (i could have also used quinoa), a whole roast chicken (ready to make chicken salad with - but i had other plans), spinach (always on hand for my smoothies) and some red bell pepper for color. looking back, this is sort of the summer version of my one-pot lemony chicken and orzo. (full disclosure: i liked this one better, though!)

ingredients (for lemon herb vinaigrette)

2 T white wine vinegar

4 T extra virgin olive oil

juice of half a lemon (appx. 1 T lemon juice)

2 T water

1 t dijon mustard (optional)

1 t garlic powder

1 t dried basil

1 t dried parsley

generous pinch kosher salt

ingredients (for salad)

1/2 cup orzo

appx. 2 cups diced chicken (we used about 2/3 the meat from this small roasted chicken - you could also use about 2-3 chicken breasts)

3 c. raw baby spinach

1/2 red bell pepper, coarsely diced

lemon vinaigrette (recipe above)

done with your collecting? let’s move onto the doing. if you set yourself up properly, this will involve very few pots & pans and will make your cleanup a breeze!

there’s the start of the show - the lemon herb vinaigrette! i made this in a good seasons bottle (great suggestion, leeza!) so after i poured everything in the bottle, i could easily shake it up before serving. if you don’t have an empty dressing bottle, you could always prep it in a small bowl and whisk the ingredients together.

either way, combine all the ingredients (vinegar, oil, water, lemon juice, optional mustard, salt and herbs) and shake ‘em up. set it aside while you prepare the rest of your salad.

alrighty, here’s where a little coordination will go a long way:

1. get your water boiling for your orzo while you dice your chicken.

2. put your spinach and bell peppers in the collander/strainer you’ll be draining your orzo in and set aside.

3. pour the orzo into the boiling water and cook as instructed on the box.

4. finish prepping your chicken while the orzo cooks and pour the cubes into a large mixing bowl (note: picture above is NOT a large mixing bowl, but i’m trying to help you people save on dishes. learn from my mistakes!) set it aside.

5. when your orzo is done cooking, pour the boiling water over the veggies in the strainer to gently wilt them. pour the spinach, peppers and orzo back into the pot, put a cover on it and let it sit for a few minutes to wilt everything a bit more.

pour the veggies and orzo on top of the chicken and mix everything together. grab your dressing from the fridge and pour it on top of everything. mix everything until it’s evenly and lightly coated. then grab a spoon, serve it up and dig in!

thanks again for the inspiration, leeza!

click here for a printable version of the recipe (and while you’re at it, check out the revamped recipes page!)

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#food

#recipes

#salad

#summer

i had the very rare opportunity to head to happy hour earlier this week with a few girls from work. normally, my schedule doesn’t work with happy hour, but thankfully, this monday was an exception!  we opted for grants in west hartford center. while i’m a huge fan of billy grant’s bricco (west hartford) & bricco trattoria (glastonbury), i had never been to grants! when erin suggested it, i drooled over the happy hour menu and kept my fingers crossed for nice weather so we could sit outside.
well, i got my wish, since monday was gorgeous (albeit hot!). we grabbed a shaded table outside (so i’ve still never sat inside grants…) and shared an order of truffle fries. i also ordered a caprese salad and drank glasses upon glasses of… water. i’m so exciting, i know.
a couple of the girls tried some of their drinks, which sounded so interesting and fruity! i think there were grapefruit gimlets, fizzy strawberry drinks and prickly pear margaritas ordered over the course of the afternoon.
i had to jet quickly after we polished off the truffle fries, since it was a cookout waiting for me at home for me that evening. looking at some of the other items on the menu, i can’t wait to go back and try a full meal there. as we know from my last visit to bricco trattoria, billy grant’s restaurants never disappoint!
grants | west hartford center | 977 farmington avenue | west hartford, ct | 06107

i had the very rare opportunity to head to happy hour earlier this week with a few girls from work. normally, my schedule doesn’t work with happy hour, but thankfully, this monday was an exception!  we opted for grants in west hartford center. while i’m a huge fan of billy grant’s bricco (west hartford) & bricco trattoria (glastonbury), i had never been to grants! when erin suggested it, i drooled over the happy hour menu and kept my fingers crossed for nice weather so we could sit outside.

well, i got my wish, since monday was gorgeous (albeit hot!). we grabbed a shaded table outside (so i’ve still never sat inside grants…) and shared an order of truffle fries. i also ordered a caprese salad and drank glasses upon glasses of… water. i’m so exciting, i know.

a couple of the girls tried some of their drinks, which sounded so interesting and fruity! i think there were grapefruit gimlets, fizzy strawberry drinks and prickly pear margaritas ordered over the course of the afternoon.

i had to jet quickly after we polished off the truffle fries, since it was a cookout waiting for me at home for me that evening. looking at some of the other items on the menu, i can’t wait to go back and try a full meal there. as we know from my last visit to bricco trattoria, billy grant’s restaurants never disappoint!

grants | west hartford center | 977 farmington avenue | west hartford, ct | 06107

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#west hartford

#food

a salad a day keeps the doctor away!

for the past couple of months, i’ve been eating a salad every single day for lunch. i pack up my shoebox sized tupperware container, load it up with bright veggies and filling protein and go on my merry way. it always takes me tons of time to eat, packs in the nutrients and leaves me feeling full for hours until it’s time for my afternoon snack.

instead of store-bought dressing, i keep olive oil and balsamic vinegar at my desk and shake a little on every day. easy, peasy!

you might think i’d get bored eating a salad every day for lunch, but they’re so versatile, it feels like an entirely different meal each time i eat it! also, instead of woofing it down, i’m able to take longer to eat and stay fuller longer, as well. try it for a week, you won’t be disappointed!

eliz’s tips for a great salad:

1. not to sound like the barefoot contessa, but start with good lettuce. my favorite kinds are romaine and butter lettuce. you might prefer arugula, spinach, spring mix, kale or iceberg. find out what works with you and go with it.

2. load it up with basic veggies - i aim for all different colors and textures in my staples. bell pepper, cucumber, celery and tomato always find their way into my lunch, but maybe carrots, sprouts, radishes, olives or onions are your cup of tea! if you think having 5-7 servings of vegetables a day seems daunting, recognize that you could easily have one serving with breakfast (think veggie omelette or green smoothie!), two servings with dinner and a big salad could easily take care of another four servings of vegetables! wham, bam.

3. don’t forget the protein! protein is what will keep you full, rather than feeling like you just ate a bowl of rabbit food. whether it’s chicken, deli meat, shrimp, salmon beans, hummus, a veggie burger, tofu or tempeh, just get that protein in the mix!

4. change it up & give your salad a theme. although i eat a salad a day, i don’t eat the SAME salad every day. that would get really old really fast. some days it’s greek, others it’s mexican. sometimes it’s mediterranean, others it’s roasted vegetables. keep yourself interested!

5. don’t be afraid of leftovers! instead of letting leftovers in your fridge go to waste, incorporate them into your salad. just the other day, i cut up a leftover turkey burger, sweet potato slices and roasted zucchini from the grill. traditional salad fixins? no. delicious? yes. the next day, i had leftover chicken, peppers and onions from fajitas - i threw that in with some avocado and i had an instant mexican fiesta!

6. don’t go overboard with the “goodies” - you could have an amazingly nutritious salad and throw it all down the drain if you load on lots of croutons, cheese, creamy dressings, etc. some of those treats, in moderation, are fine - let’s be honest, i wouldn’t DREAM of having a greek salad sans feta cheese! just be smart about it so you’re not burying all the benefits that drew you to a salad in the first place. (also, unsuspecting culprit… watch out for low fat/fat free dressings. when they take out the fat, they replace it with SUGAR and that’s not helping anyone. make your own dressing with olive oil or make sure you read in the ingredients carefully.)

7. most importantly, make it your own. maybe you hate celery - then don’t include it. maybe your favorite food is strawberries - include those! whatever you do, make it appealing to YOU or else you’ll never enjoy it.

salad combo ideas:

greek salad: romaine, bell peppers, cucumber, olives, feta cheese, grilled chicken

roasted veggie salad: romaine, roasted zucchini, squash, onion, bell pepper, brussels sprouts, kidney beans

mexican salad: romaine, sauteed onions and bell peppers, grilled shrimp, avocado, black beans, tomatoes

summery salad: butter lettuce, strawberries, peaches, goat cheese, walnuts

asian salad: shredded lettuce, orange segments, baked salmon, sesame seeds, water chesnuts

everything but the kitchen sink salad: also known as a clean-out-the-fridge salad. literally… your dinner from the night before on a big bed of lettuce!

**QUESTION: what are your must-have salad ingredients?**

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#healthy

#vegetables

#food

as promised, now i’ll tell you a bit about the friendly toast in kendall square/cambridge - the spot that jane and i grabbed lunch during our quick trip to boston. obviously after lunch here, we saved room for those kick*ss cupcakes, though!

i’ve been to this restaurant 2-3 other times and always opt for breakfast food, since that’s the best meal of the day! during my most recent visit, i ordered an egg white omelette with avocado and goat cheese. two of my favorite foods rolled into one dish? perfect. i got homemade cinnamon toast and potatoes as sides, but left the potatoes because they were a little spicy for my liking. the bread was deeelish, though!

jane was craving a grilled cheese, so she ordered from the lunch side of the menu. i’m telling you, this menu is filled with some very interesting combinations that i would never think to pair together (like the mr. haegar: “a messy melt of dill pickles, cheddar, plum tomatoes, dijon mustard and horseradish mayonnaise on grilled oatmeal bread”). everything that comes out of the kitchen always looks good, though, and they have lots of options for different appetites. there are gluten free items, vegetarian dishes, food for meat lovers and simpler things for picky palates. next time i think i’m going to go with the PUMPKIN PANCAKES!

anywho, as you can see in the pictures, the best part about this place is the decor! everything is straight out of the 50/60s and the walls are painted bright with tons to look at. sometimes it feels like sensory overload, but the advertisements, products and decor makes me feel like i’m in an episode of happy days. i love it!

the friendly toast | kendall square | 1 hampshire street | cambridge, ma | 02139

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#food

#boston

#travel

#breakfast

#the friendly toast

#restaurants

#1950s

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