Sunday, May 31, 2009

Menu Plan Monday


Our Anniversary: Quick Crust-less Quiche (celebration dinner at Four Square to come)

Tuesday: Dinner at Marriott's 2 Zero 1 Lounge

Wednesday: leftovers, my massage night

Thursday: more leftovers as I house prep for my mom, sister and nephews visit this weekend!

Friday: My family arrives!!! Dinner at home of Sloppy Joes, Mashed Potato Skins, and Honey Oat Shortcakes topped with Strawberries from Flat River Nursery and Whipped Cream

Saturday: Breakfast at Daisy Cakes with tour of downtown Durham, Lunch at Parker & Otis for Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwiches, Dinner at home of Individual Homemade Pizza’s and Rhubarb Crumb Bars al a mode

Sunday: Breakfast at home of Slow Cooker Hash Brown Casserole, Lunch and visit to Hillsborough, NC with a tour of Maple View Creamery, Dinner at home of Grilled Vegetable Goat Cheese Sandwiches and Homemade Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches

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Homemade Cranberry Granola

There isn’t much that I like more than homemade granola on top of yogurt. There are very few days which go by that I don’t enjoy a bowl. I’ve been using up store bought cereals recently and have really missed my granola blends.

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  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cranberry juice 
  • 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

In a medium-sized microwave safe bowl, combine the maple syrup and cranberry juice; microwave for 1 minute. Stir. foodblog 022

Add the oats, sunflower seeds, cinnamon and salt. Stir to coat. foodblog 025 Spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. foodblog 028

Remove the baking sheet from the oven, stir and break apart any clumps. Bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes until the mixture begins to brown. Remove from oven and mix in dried cranberries. Cool completely. Store airtight in a plastic container for up to 1 week.

Recipe adapted from Giada at Home



I overate yesterday and haven’t been too hungry today. For breakfast I had plain Greek yogurt with black raspberries and granola. I just ate  lunch/dinner which was Baked Potato Skins with Avocado Cream and Jalapeno Bacon, similar to the recipe found here (you’ll need to scroll down). These are so good, with salty, crunchy potato skin and creamy filling.

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I will probably just have cinnamon toast later on tonight - I have leftover challah bread in the freezer from last weekend.

Garden Update

My lily finally bloomed today!! One day before my anniversary.

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I’m not sure what this is, but it’s a nice because it comes back year after year.

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The herb garden is really taking off, I’m surprised it’s grown so much so soon. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

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The vegetable garden is looking good too, it looks like I still have several weeks before I can harvest anything.

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Oat-filled Pancakes, Double Tree Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Rhubarb Crumb Bars

I couldn’t believe that this pancake was truly just oats, and didn’t call for any flour or milk. I emailed Leah last night to be sure I wasn’t missing an ingredient or step (such as soaking or grinding the oats). She responded, “Just mix the ingredients and go :) Plop them in the pan, wait for the bubbles, then flip. Use medium heat so that they don't burn on either side because the "insides" take a bit longer to cook than the outside.”

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I loved the texture and was amazed at how the egg and mashed fruit really held the oats together. I felt like I was almost eating a pancake with walnuts inside.

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tiny mashed banana (I used an over ripened mashed peach and I bet 1/4 cup of apple sauce would work too)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp ground flax
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Mix together all ingredients. And top with berries of real maple syrup.

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I topped mine with 1/4 cup sliced strawberries and 2 Tbsp fresh blueberries microwaved together for 45-60 seconds. It formed its own fruity syrup too.

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Makes 2 small pancakes, serves 1

Recipe from Leah of Simply Fabulous


Double Tree Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are a doctored up version of Nestles’ Toll House Chocolate Chip cookies. Side by side the differences are that this recipe uses a small amount of ground rolled oats, a pinch of cinnamon, and a 1/2 tsp of lemon juice. They are also baked at 350 (vs 375) for a longer period of time.

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These cookies were delicious with a chewy interior, crispy exterior and a great buttery richness. To give a true comparison, I’d honestly have to have the two cookies at the same time for a taste test. I think the lemon juice made the chocolate flavor pop a bit more and the oats might hade made it a bit more crunchy.

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F degrees.

Grind oats in a food processor or blender until fine. Combine the ground oats with the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.

Cream together the butter, sugars, vanilla, and lemon juice in another medium bowl with an electric mixer. Add the eggs and mix until smooth.

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Stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture and blend well. Add the chocolate chips and nuts to the dough and mix by hand until ingredients are well incorporated. Optional, for best results place mixture into the fridge to chill 3-4 hours or overnight.

Spoon rounded 1/4-cup portions onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Place the scoops about 2 inches apart.

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Bake for 16 to 18 minutes or until cookies are light brown and soft in the middle. Store in a sealed container when cool to keep soft. For the best results, chill the dough overnight in the refrigerator before baking the cookies.

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Makes 20 large or 30 medium cookies.

Recipe from Diana’s Desserts


Rhubarb Crumb Bars

I used the same recipe and method for Cranberry Date Bars but swapped the fruit out with rhubarb. Perfection!

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  • 1 lb fresh or frozen rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (plus 2 tbsp water if using fresh)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup canola oil

In a covered saucepan over low heat, simmer rhubarb and 2 tbsp brown sugar for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and set aside.

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In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir in butter and oil until well blended. Pat half into an ungreased 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Bake at 350 for 8 minutes.

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Spoon rhubarb mixture over crust. Sprinkle with the remaining oat mixture. Pat gently. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until browned.

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Makes 2 dozen small bars

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Homemade Pizza with Roasted Vegetable and Pesto Topping

We’ll be enjoying this pizza, full of spring flavors, while watching the movie “Goodfellas”.

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  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 yellow squash, diced
  • 1 Tbsp EVOO
  • 1 ball fresh whole wheat pizza dough
  • 1/2 cup basil pesto
  • 1/2 cup asiago or parmesan cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place vegetables onto a baking sheet, toss with EVOO, s&p. Spread out evenly and bake for 20-25 minutes until vegetables are golden and caramelized on the edges.

Press out whole wheat pizza dough on a greased pizza stone. Spread pesto on the bottom of the dough, scatter roasted vegetables and top with shredded cheese. Bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden and bubbly!

More Durham Hype

Another article all about Durham was recently featured in US Airways Magazine, you can view the article here.

Brinkley Farms Spring CSA – Week 7

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  • 1 lb yellow squash
  • 1 lb zucchini
  • 1 qt red potatoes
  • 1 bundle spring onions
  • 1 bag of spinach
  • 1 bag of mesclun mix

On Wednesday, at the Durham Farmer’s Market I picked up another pint of strawberries and a tomato from Flat River Nursery. By far, the best of both that I’ve tried recently.

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I also purchased 5 bell peppers while they were on sale this week. I washed, seeded, and sliced them and placed into two freezer bags for use in recipes in the next few weeks. I’ve got red bell, poblano, banana, and jalapeño planted in my vegetable garden but it will still be a month or more before they start producing a nice crop for me to harvest.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

CEiMB: Crispy Fish Fingers

This week for CEiMB we were hosted by Rainforest Recipes and what a great recipe choice she picked. The bread crumbs were super crunchy and the fish was tender and flaky. I toasted the bread crumbs the night before (to save time) and left them sitting out all day today for an extra crispy crust.

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  • 4 slices whole-wheat bread (1-ounce each)
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tbsp Creole or fish seasoning
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound tilapia fillets
  • 2 eggs, beaten to mix

Put the bread in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until bread crumbs form. Toast the crumbs in a large, dry nonstick skillet over a medium-high heat, stirring frequently and breaking up the crumbs with a spoon if they begin to stick together, until crisp and golden, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add 1 Tbsp seasoning of your choice.

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Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

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Spray a baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray. On a plate, combine the flour, 1 Tbsp seasoning, salt and pepper. Cut the fillets into 4 by 1-inch strips. A few pieces at a time, dip the fish into the flour mixture, dusting off the excess. Dip the fish in the egg and then the bread crumbs. Arrange on the baking sheet and continue until all of the fish is breaded. Bake until golden and cooked through, about 10 minutes.

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Recipe courtesy of Ellie Krieger

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sausage with Garlic Lentils

This is a tasty and healthy dish to help counterbalance the large amounts of food from the holiday weekend.

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  • 1/2 pound lentils
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 1 small onion, peeled and halved
  • 4 large cloves garlic, grated or minced
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 pre-cooked spinach chicken sausages
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, a generous handful, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cover lentils by 2 inches with water, add bay and onion and bring to a boil. Boil lentils 20 to 22 minutes until just tender but with a little bite left to them.

In a shallow pasta bowl combine the garlic and about 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil and let stand 15 minutes.

Place sausages in a small pan and add 1/4-inch water and 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, a little drizzle. Bring water to a boil then reduce heat to medium-high. Let the water simmer away 8 minutes or so, then crisp the casings 3 to 4 minutes more.

Remove bay and onion from lentils. Toss hot lentils with garlic oil, parsley and salt and pepper. (I also tossed in some shredded Swiss chard.) Serve with sausages on top.

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Recipe courtesy of Rachael Ray

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Safe Non-Toxic Microwave Popcorn

My favorite addition is to add a tablespoon of sugar and a teaspoon of salt onto the kernels before popping--it tastes like kettle corn!

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  • ¼ cup regular popcorn
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt, to taste
  1. Pour popcorn kernels into a brown lunch bag. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, salt to taste or any other seasonings (optional).foodblog 011
  2. Roll down the bag top a couple of times and shake.  foodblog 009
  3. Microwave for about 1-1/2 minutes or until a delay in the popcorn popping occurs. (The amount of time you’d cook a mini-sized popcorn bag).

Last night I made my “kettle corn” and then added a little melted Smart Balance butter and a few fun toppings to the mix: 1 Tbsp each of semi-chocolate chips (M&M’s would work well too), butterscotch chips, and dried cranberries.

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Old-Fashioned Grilled Cheese Burger and French Potato Salad with Bacon and Sundried Tomatoes

Score! These are the ultimate indoor burger – heat up a cast iron skillet, flatten out your burger patties, prep your toppings and get ready for the only burger you’ll be craving for quite a while.

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  • 3 tablespoons EVOO, divided
  • 1 small onion, very finely chopped
  • 1 1/4 pounds ground sirloin (I used Laura’s lean beef)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 8 slices sandwich bread or homemade challah
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons mango chutney, optional
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 8 slices cheddar cheese
  • 8 slices lettuce
  • 8 slices bacon, cooked until crisp (jalapeno style)
  • 8 slices tomato

Place a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat with 1 turn of the pan of EVOO, about 1 tablespoon. Add the onion to the pan and cook until tender, 4-5 minutes. Remove to a large mixing bowl and wipe the pan clean.

When the onions have cooled slightly, place the pan back over medium-high heat with 2 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. To the mixing bowl with the onions, add the sirloin, Worcestershire, some salt and pepper and mix thoroughly to combine. foodblog 027

Divide the meat into 4 portions and place between separate sheets of plastic wrap. Fold plastic wrap over mixture and flatten to 1/2 inch. Add the patties, in batches of two, to the hot pan and cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. foodblog 029 foodblog 031

While the burgers are cooking, butter up one side of each slice of bread then flip them over and spread mustard on one half and mango chutney on the other. foodblog 035

When the burgers have finished cooking, make stacks by laying down the slices of bread, butter side-down, and top them with a slice of cheese, a patty, another slice of cheese, 2 slices of bacon, 2 slices lettuce and tomato and another slice of bread (butter side-up).

Wipe out the pan that the burgers were cooked in and return it over medium heat. Add the stacks to the pan and cook until the bread is toasted golden brown and the cheese has melted, 2-3 minutes per side. foodblog 039

Recipe courtesy of Rachael Ray and cooking method courtesy of Everyday Food

French Potato Salad

The bacon, green onions and sundried tomatoes totally make this dish.

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  • 1 pound new potatoes
  • 1/4 pound bacon (jalapeno style)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Clean and quarter the potatoes. Drop them into a large pot of cold water. Bring water to a boil and cook until tender but still firm (8-10 minutes after water starts boiling)

Sauté the bacon strips in a skillet until crisp. Remove bacon from the skillet onto paper towels and reserve. foodblog 003

Sauté the green onions in the remaining fat in the skillet. When tender remove from skillet and reserve.

Drain potatoes and put them in mixing bowl. Pour olive oil, tomatoes, vinegar, and green onions over potatoes while their still warm. Season with salt & pepper. Toss in the chopped parsley. Cover and refrigerate.foodblog 005

To serve bring salad back to room temperature and toss in crumbled bacon.

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Roasted Kohlrab

When talking to a local chef at the Durham Farmer’s Market (he’s cooked at two of my favorite places, Rockwood Filling Station and is now at Watt’s Grocery) about cooking kohlrabi, I was told that it similar in taste to a broccoli stem thus he suggest roasting it.

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I chopped it into a medium dice, tossed with EVOO, s&p to taste and baked at a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Verdict: it was ok, glad I tried it, but nothing I’ll be talking about again anytime soon.


Yesterday and today were also filled with a little of this…

hammock reading, drinking, and snoozing

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