Hide & Seek

It seems that my camera cord and I are playing hide & seek, and it’s really really good at it. Unfortunately, this post won’t have any pictures that I’ve taken, so I hope that you’ll continue to read based on my charming personality and razor-sharp wit. No? It was worth a shot.

When I got home from Florida, my dad welcomed me with open arms and then held up a bunch of brown bananas and said “can you do something with these?” Aw, shucks, you shouldn’t have. You see, bananas and I haven’t really been the best of friends for the past 20-something years. There’s something about the smell and the texture that isn’t at all appealing to me. I truly enjoy the crunch of a crisp apple and the sweet juice that most fruit produces when bitten into. Bananas just don’t do it for me, but I was willing to work with them instead of tossing them in the trash. Upon opening the fridge, I saw a lonely zucchini and decided that if I could hide the bananas among a tasty zucchini bread, they wouldn’t be too terrible. Oh, and cinnamon. Lots of cinnamon.

A quick search led me to Anja’s Food 4 Thought recipe, which I adapted slightly because, well, that’s what I do. Since I scaled back on the oil in the recipe, I wanted to add a little fat in the form of walnuts and chocolate chips. Everything is better with walnuts and chocolate chips.  I was a little apprehensive to try one, but my family was chowing down on them quickly and they didn’t smell too strongly of bananas. I made mini muffins, so I carefully tore off the the top of the muffin (aka the best part) and took a bite. Even though I’m not a banana fan, these were pretty great. Am I switching to team banana now? Not by a long shot, but I may let it slide if one finds its way into my bread. But stay out of my smoothies, you hear me?

Chocolate Chip Walnut Zucchini Banana Bread

Adapted from Anja’s Food 4 Thought

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 egg

1/4 cup plain yogurt

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 bananas, mashed

1 medium zucchini, grated

1/2 cup walnuts

1/3 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F

1. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

2. In a medium bowl, mash bananas and stir in brown sugar. Add egg and yogurt and stir to combine. Fold in shredded zucchini.

3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, mix until incorporated. Fold in walnuts and chocolate chips.

4. Pour batter into mini muffin tins and bake 10-12 minutes

Thanks for your patience through my lack of pictures. In the mean time, here’s an image from one of my favorite websites, catalogliving.net

Elaine immediately regretted putting small dollops of sour cream on everyone’s plate at her bird-themed luncheon.

–Ariel

Yeee Haw

Since September, I’ve had the privilege of interning with the best team of social workers, nurses, psychiatrists, and nutritionists I could have ever hoped for. Unfortunately, but fortunately at the same time, the school year is ending, so I wanted to make everyone a little something to show my appreciation. Keep in mind that I’m also on a tight budget since this was an unpaid internship.

I found a bunch of glass jars at Marshall’s for $2.99 each, so I  decided I would make something to put inside. I was going back and forth between jam, some sort of preserves, or Smitten Kitchen’s chocolate-peanut spread which my sister made me and I’ve had to use all my willpower not to consumer in one sitting. I remembered seeing cookie mix in a jar somewhere, so I bought a few 1 liter jars and starting searching for recipes

A quick google search lead me to Bakerella’s cowboy cookie post. I kept all the measurements the same except I subbed in butterscotch chips for m&ms (they were on sale) and I omitted the pecans (they were $10/lb! So not happening).

I used random scraps of ribbon I found in my apartment to tie on the little cards I made.

These were a huge hit. Not only do the layers look really pretty but everyone appreciates something homemade. I think I found my new go-to gift idea.

What’s your go-to gift on a budget idea?

–Ariel

Better Nate Than Lever

To quote one of my favorite celebrities, Mindy Kaling, “sometimes you have to pretend it was your plan to be really emotional and not have your shit together.” I had every intention of posting regularly while I was on spring break, and simultaneously, completing a lot of my school work so that it’s no longer looming over my head. Needless to say, neither of those really happened. I am usually your stereotypical type A personality, who spends a lot of time planning and scheduling in an attempt to make the most out of my day. That being said, the past few months have been a real test to see how many punches I can roll with. I’ve been budgeting my time and making schedules, but to quote my mom, “compost happens.”

For the next few weeks (months?) I’m planning on not having a plan. Instead of getting frustrated that things aren’t going the way I anticipated, I’m going to take a chill pill (Xanax? I kid, I kid) and just tackle things as they come.

Without further ado, here are some pictures of the various (delicious!) dishes that my sister, my cousin, my mom, and I made for Passover. If you need me, I’ll be over here flying by the seat of my pants.

Matzo Toffee (Crack) Recipe

Ali & I finally made macarons

The most delicious cheesecake I’ve ever made/had

Yeah, that’s right, I made fancy strawberries for the top. Martha, call me!

Alex’s phenomenal date truffles. Recipe to come(?)

Matzo crack + Macarons = omnomnom

Passover Time is the Best Time

Tonight is the start of my favorite holiday of the year- Passover. It is the one time of year that my entire family gets together, shares a looong meal and lots of laughs, as well as fantastic food.

Today will be spent cooking, cleaning, and getting ready for tonight’s seder, so expect some fantastic recipes this week! Just as I go to Marissa’s for Christmas, she comes to my house for Passover. It’s a good thing.

We’re taking advantage of all the delicious seasonal produce that’s available right now, but let’s be serious: in my mind, Passover is about the desserts.

My mom’s Mississippi Praline Meringues. Egg whites, brown sugar, and pecans. Easily my favorite cookie ever

Luckily chocolate is kosher for Passover

My sister and I have therefore dipped everything in sight. Did I mention I also have a cheesecake in the oven?

Be sure to check back for delicious updates. What are your favorite flour/yeast/baking powder free foods?

–Ariel

Out & About

First and foremost, I want to wish my boyfriend Mike a very Happy Birthday!

What better way to celebrate than with red velvet cake pops dipped in nutella and rolled in chocolate chip cookies? Yes, Mike has the biggest sweet tooth ever.

Because Mike and I have tests this week, we celebrated yesterday, and will be semi-studious today. It actually worked out well, since yesterday was sunny and gorgeous, and today is kind of grey and meh. We started out by going on our first spring hike. A nice 6.5 miles to start the day!

You know it’s spring when the skunk cabbage starts to bloom!

It was so nice out that about halfway through the hike, I took off my fleece. This long and arduous winter had me worried that I would never be walking around in just a t-shirt again! We relaxed for a little after our hike, and then headed to Port Jefferson for dinner.

This week happened to be Long Island Restaurant Week, which is always a great way to discover new places to eat. After doing a lot of research, I decided that Fifth Season was the best choice- they change their menu every 12 weeks in order to feature local and seasonal ingredients. The seasonal drink menu alone was fantastic. Mike got an apricot mojito that was delish. I think next time, I’ll try either the lemon basil collins or the ruby red martini.

I only took pictures of what I ordered, because I was too excited to dig in. To start, I had roasted spring vegetables with a kalamata vinaigrette, mesclun greens, polenta croutons and a percorino romano tuille. Mike devoured the tuille since I am not a cheese fan. The vegetables were out of control good. I absolutely love fennel, and roasting it really brought out the licorice flavor.

For the entree, I had Atlantic salmon with squash and zucchini, sweet potatoes, and a coconut ginger jam. I’m not normally a fan of cooked zucchini or coconut, for that matter, but the thin strips remained crispy and flavorful. The coconut was pretty subtle, and enhanced the ginger. I’m sure that you’re wondering why I ordered this dish if I didn’t like a few of the components. Well for starters, a few of the other dishes on the menu that were pescatarain friendly had chorizo and/or pancetta incorporated, and I am not ok with pork. I am also trying to challenge my taste buds to see if I can start to like some of the foods that I normally turn my nose up at.

When I looked at the menu online, I knew Mike would order the molten chocolate cake with caramel and vanilla bean gelato, so I asked if they could put a candle somewhere and write Happy Birthday in chocolate

Did I mention the cake was gluten free? I think because it was just chocolate and butter. Hey, no complaints, here!

My dessert was pretty outrageous as well. Bartlett pear and rhubarb cobbler with caramel mascarpone gelato. I’d never had mascarpone before, but after this gelato, I might have to experiment with it. I really wanted to try their seasonal sorbet, which was ruby red grapefruit and strawberry rhubarb, but I employed my rule of “don’t order anything you can cook at home.” I foresee grapefruit sorbet in my ice cream maker sooner than later.

After dinner, Mike and I took a stroll by the waterfront. I’ve been wanting to do an outfit shot for a while, and I finally worked up the courage.

 

This was so much harder than I anticipated, so I give all you style blog gals huge props.

Dress: American Apparel, Cardigan, Jacket: H&M, Shoes: John Fluevog, Peacock headband: NYC street vendor, Clutch: from my fabulous sister

 

All in all, I’ve had a pretty great weekend. What did you all do?

 

Ginger Kid

For the first time ever, I called in sick to my internship. I have been feeling pretty crappy for the past two days, but I was convinced that I would get better. Before I actually called it, I’m pretty sure I went through the 5 Stages of Grief. I denied up and down that I was sick. I even got out of bed this morning and went to the gym, only to feel exhausted and gross 5 minutes into my run. Then I got angry. I wanted to blame everyone with a sniffle for getting their tainted germs on me. I tried bargaining. “Maybe I’ll only go in to the hospital for a few hours and then ask my supervisor if I can leave early. Or maybe I can pump myself with DayQuil and come in late.” Depression came next- you know the whole “woe is me, I don’t feel well” whining. Lastly, I accepted that I have a nasty cold. And with acceptance, comes smoothies.

photo cred: the abundant life online


Last night, Mike was nice enough to drive my whiny butt to Trader Joe’s so that I could get some uncrystallized ginger. Whenever I was sick growing up, my mom would make me tea using freshly grated ginger, lemon juice, and honey. I wanted to try making the tea with uncrystallized ginger, but according to a Trader Joe’s employee, there is a ginger “shortage” and they aren’t sure when they’ll have it in stock. Crankyness ensued. I became frustrated with all chain stores, and decided that going to the tiny Oriental Grocery was our only option. While they were out of crystallized ginger, they sold fresh ginger for much less than the supermarket, so I grabbed about a pound. While I was waiting on line, a petite Chinese woman started chatting me up about all the ways I could use ginger. She told me that she usually makes tea with ginger and brown sugar as soon as she comes inside from the cold. She also said that she likes to add vinegar to help with digestion. As soon as I got home, I peeled and grated a small knob of ginger into a mug, added the juice of half a lemon, a drizzle of honey, and a little bit of cider vinegar. I then filled the mug with boiling water and muddled the ingredients a little.

After I made about 3 large cups of this concoction, I looked at the leftover ginger in the bottom of my mug. I didn’t want to just throw it away, but what could I use it for? Mike and I had already eaten dinner, so a marinade was out. Then it hit me. I’m going to use it in a smoothie.

Feel Better Smoothie – a Positive Regard Original
1/3 cup chopped fresh ginger (you can use less to suit your taste)
2/3 cup frozen blueberries
2/3 cup orange juice
6 frozen strawberries (that’s all I had left)
1/3 cup water
1 T cider vinegar
1 handful spinach
1 glug maple syrup or honey
Throw everything in your blender or food processor and blend until smooth! Or you can follow Alton Brown’s tips on smoothie making
When I first tasted this, I didn’t think it tasted like anything, so I asked Mike to taste it. One sip and his face perked up. I then realized that I had to blow my nose in order to taste anything.  This smoothie packs a lot of punch, especially from the ginger. Mike said that it really woke him up and gave him energy, and I certainly agree. I can see making this again as a great jump start to the day.
What are some of your home remedies?
–Ariel

Stir Fryday

Happy Friday, everyone! Is anyone else sick of the snow? Another day shoveling, slipping and sliding outside, plus work and dragging myself to the gym left me craving a massive meal. I had a craving for stir fry with a spicy sauce, and luckily had all the ingredients.

Marissa introduced me to Daily Garnish and told me to check out the post on peanut flour. If you haven’t already, read Emily’s post on peanut flours. I too am a nut butter lover and I think that this is a great alternative. Peanut flour has significantly less fat and calories per serving than peanut butter, while still containing a lot of protein.  Mike was nice enough to pick some up for me when he ventured out to Trader Joe’s the other day, and I must say, I am a big fan. I don’t count calories on a regular basis, but I am conscious of what and how much I put in my body. My running has decreased slightly due to my crazy schedule and because of the mass amounts of icy grossness outside. Using peanut flour allows me to get the satisfying taste of peanut butter with the benefits of protein, without the high calories. Win!

 

To make the sauce, measure out 2 tablespoons of peanut flour (or use 2 T of peanut butter). To hydrate the peanut flour, I added a few sprinkles of salt and 2 T of water

Ta-da! To the peanut butter, add 1 1/2 T soy sauce, 1 T warm water, a few drops of sriracha, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1 T rice vinegar

 

oh! And 1 teaspoon maple syrup

 

Use the good stuff- it really makes a difference

 

Stir all the ingredients until combined.

I was worried that the sauce might not turn out as well as it might with peanut butter, but this out perfectly!

 

For the main meal, I chose the lazy microwave route. First I made some brown rice (1 part brown rice:3 parts water, microwave for 30 minutes), then chopped up kale, carrots, brussel sprouts, and peppers. For protein, I threw on a little tofu and a handful of edamame. Into the microwave for 6 minutes, and we’re good to go


 

Top with scallions if you like, and drizzle the peanut sauce on top.

 

This was very filling, fast, and delicious.

 

Peanut Sauce

Adapted from Bon Appetit

2 T peanut flour or peanut butter

1 1/2 T soy sauce

1 T warm water

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 t garlic powder

1 T rice vinegar

1 t maple syrup

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes or sriracha

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until incorporated. Drizzle over your favorite stir fry, chicken, or anything else you want to make more delicious!

 

Have you revamped any of your favorite recipes lately? We’d love to hear your new recipes!

 

–Ariel

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