Friday, December 30, 2011

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Well not quite... 

We drove to North Bend last weekend on a hunt for the perfect tree! We had intentions to look for a small Noble Fir, and actually came home with one which was kind of a miracle. You may be wondering... can you randomly chop down a tree? In case you are thinking of an adventure for next year, pick up a permit from the Forest Ranger at REI for $10 with instructions on where to chop down the tree of your choice (anything under 12' that is). 

Exploring the trail for a about a mile and a half

After some debate, our top choice

Decorated and lit. Pretty cute, eh?

A friend said we get the widest-base-shortest-height tree award! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Rosewater Pistachio Cake with Pomegranates

In my time off from school, I have been doing a lot of catching up. Mainly, I've spent about three days cleaning the apartment which has been productive. I did all my Christmas shopping, and wrapping. Also, I have spent a fair amount time in the kitchen... making more messes to clean up  :)

One of my classmates recommended a food blog called Anja's Food 4 Thought. This lady is a genius! She likes making delicious healthy food, and her recipes are easy to follow and the ingredients are generally straight forward. 

Her Pistachio Cake is really easy to make, it took me about 20 minutes to get into the oven. Okay, so something about healthy cake recipes you might find shocking is... they have NO butter! Eeek! I was a little nervous to serve this cake to our friends, but decided to bite the bullet and go for it.

Here is the recipe:
Combine flour, baking powder and soda, salt in bowl and mix. Combine wet ingredients and sugar in separate bowl and mix. Mix together wet and dry ingredients and fold in pistachios. Bake in 8" greased spring-form pan at 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. 

1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp lemon zest, finely grated
1/2 c plain yogurt
1/4 c olive oil
1/3 c sugar
1 tbsp rosewater
1/2 c pistachios, finely chopped

Frost cake just before you are ready to serve. Combine cream cheese and honey, spread on cake and sprinkle with pistachios and pomegranates. 

1/2 c cream cheese
3 tbsp honey or agave syrup
1/4 c pistachios, chopped
1/2 c pomegranates

It turned out well. Looking good and tasting good, more importantly!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Smoothie Time!

Brenton and I recently bought an abundant amount of tupperware at Sur la Table and any purchase over $50 comes with a free subscription to Martha Stewart Magazine. Now, I realize some of you (Brenton included) may be opposed to my partaking in anything Martha has to offer, but I have to admit, when you get past the heavy promotion of an Über-domesticated lifestyle there are some pretty delectable recipes tucked inside of the cover.

This smoothie has seriously changed my approach to the blended breakfast. The oats give a great texture, and the ginger cuts through the flavors adding a lightness smoothies often lack. Plus! Ginger is mm-mm-good, and blended with the almond butter, cinnamon and maple syrup, you can't go wrong. 

Fruit smoothie with Ginger and Oats

2 pears (I used frozen blackberries)
1 3/4 cups milk (I added some OJ as well)
1 cup buttermilk (I used plain yogurt)
2/3 c rolled/quick-cooking oats (I cooked them first)
1/3 c ice cubes
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp almond butter
2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Muffin Madness

The cold winter months combined with my affinity toward baked goods, has tempted me spend a lot of time in the kitchen! I have had particularly good luck with muffins this season. 

Adapted from this William-Sonoma recipe, these Blackberry Lemon Muffins make a great breakfast when you are on the go. They are simple to make, and have a subtle lemon zest. They keep for a few days, and stay moist because of the berries. 

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
grated zest of 1/2 large lemon
1 egg, beaten
5 Tbs butter, melted
1 cup buttermilk (alternative: fresh milk and 4 tsp white vinegar)
2 1/2 cups frozen blackberries (unsweetened, and unthawed)

Preheat the oven to 375 F, oil standard muffin cups with butter. 

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a bowl, and mix together. Mix the egg, melted butter, buttermilk and lemon zest in separate bowl. Combine with flour mixture and stir until evenly moistened. Add the berries in portions and fold into the batter with a rubber spatula. Do not over mix. 

Bake for 25-30 minutes. Makes 12 muffins. 

Frozen berries from the Capitol Hill Farmers Market, Hayton Farms

Blackberry Lemon Muffins

Next up, Pumpkin Ginger Walnut Muffins, adapted from Simple Recipes. These are great to bring to holiday parties, you could even throw a little cream cheese frosting on top and have something very similar to carrot cake. Also, if you have any pumpkins left over from Halloween, chop them into quarters, clean the insides and pop them in the oven for 30 minutes. You can use the innards for soup, bread, muffins, cookies, you name it! Here's how to make the muffins:

Preheat oven to 350 F, oil standard muffin cups with butter.

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp nutmeg (plus a little)
1/2 tsp cinnamon (plus a little)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup melted butter
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup water
1 tsp ground ginger
1 cup chopped walnuts

Combine the flour, salt, sugar, baking soda, nutmeg and cinnamon in a bowl, and mix together. Mix the pumpkin puree, melted butter, eggs, water, and ginger in separate bowl. Combine with flour mixture and stir until evenly moistened. Add the walnuts in portions and mix into the batter.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.

Pumpkin Ginger Walnut Muffins