Thursday, September 29, 2011

Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad

Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad


Posted by: Annie

I am probably the last person on Earth to discover Greek yogurt, but boy did I discover it!

I cannot stop eating it, and am so pleased that my latest food obsession is significantly more nutritious than my last food obsession (Nutella on toast every morning of the summer, anyone?)

I am particularly obsessed with Fage Greek yogurt, and have chased this brand all over NJ. I am a tad bit food store loyal to Wegmans, and when I say a tad bit loyal, I mean I worked at the store for almost six years and used to drive thirty plus minutes to shop there when I lived in Philly. Now that I am back in NJ, I live a mere five minutes from the nearest Wegmans, but have been grossly disappointed with their Fage stock. They are out every single time I'm there. This has forced me to go to their "nameless competitor" - that is how desperate I am to get my hands on Fage.

So, last Wednesday I went off to the "nameless competitor." I rushed inside and grabbed eight, yes eight, containers of my prized yogurt, checked out, ran out to my car, and it wouldn't start. Battery = dead. Sad story, but I moved on because let's get real - nothing could ruin my day, I had Greek yogurt goodness.

Monday of this week, I went to Wegmans to give them another chance at fulfilling my Greek yogurt needs. Well, before I even went in my car battery died, AGAIN. Long story short, I didn't get yogurt, but I did get a new car battery. Today I had a successful trip to the store for Fage, sans dead car battery, and made a delicious chicken salad with a yogurt-based dressing. Enjoy fellow Greek yogurt lovers!

What you will need:

For the salad:

2 cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts (mine weighed a total of 1 pound,) chopped
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/3 cup diced onions and diced celery (mixed)

For the dressing:

8 ounces plain, fat-free Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1 squeeze lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, mix chicken, cranberries, almonds, celery, and onion. In a separate small dish, prepare dressing by mixing yogurt, curry powder, soy sauce, lemon juice, and salt and pepper together. Combine dressing with the salad ingredients and mix well. Serve on your favorite bread, or on top of fresh greens!

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Adapted from: Iowa Girl Eats

Monday, September 26, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash Orzo


Posted by: Maggie

"Remember when Ross tried to say butternut squash, and it came out squtternut bosh?" 

Yeah, that line was replaying in my head on a loop the entire time I was making this recipe.

Around this time of year, I usually get my butternut squash fix by purchasing as many of the Lean Cuisine Butternut Squash Ravioli meals as my grocery store gets in stock. While those are mighty tasty, I kind of feel like garbage when I overdo it on the frozen food, so I turned to this recipe instead.

This was my first time cooking butternut squash, and it really reminded me that I need to upgrade from my $6 knife I purchased at a grocery store back in 2004. (Ahem. Hint. Christmas is in 3 months.) Those suckers are hard to cut. I had several close calls, but I managed to get through the recipe with all of my fingers intact, and ended up with a delicious and healthy dinner.

Also, for those of you who don't follow my word vom on Twitter and may have missed it, I attended the DC VegFest on Saturday, and wrote about it for DCEventJunkie.com! I would love if you'd go over there and check it out!

Here's what you'll need:

1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 small red onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup orzo pasta
1 cup (packed) baby spinach, chopped
3/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and line a baking sheet with foil. In a large bowl, toss squash, onion, and garlic with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Spread out in a single layer on the baking sheet, and roast for 40-50 minutes, or until the squash is tender. Give the vegetables a good stir a couple times while they're roasting.

While the squash is roasting, cook the orzo pasta according to directions on the box. Drain and set aside.

After the veggies are done, chop the roasted garlic. Add the squash, onions, garlic, spinach, and cranberries to the orzo. Toss with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.

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Adapted from: Two Peas and Their Pod

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins



Posted by: Maggie

These ugly muffins aren't going to win any beauty pageants.

They're kind of flat. They're brown and bumpy. They're not covered in colorful frosting and pretty sprinkles like their more attractive cousin, the cupcake.

But...they're damn good. They don't need to be pretty because they have personality. They're super moist, with banana flavored batter and chunks of banana and loads of delicious chocolate chips. I shoved two of them in my mouth this morning, and promptly put the rest in the freezer because I really don't want to be forklifted from my apartment someday as a result of eating too many baked goods.

Make these the next time you have a couple overripe bananas sitting around. Your home will smell heavenly and if you live in an apartment building like me your neighbors will be jealous. I get some kind of perverse satisfaction out of making my neighbors jealous with delicious food smells. They probably don't even notice, but I like to pretend they do.

Here's what you'll need:

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 overripe bananas
1/2 cup light brown sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used half milk chocolate and half semi-sweet)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and line a muffin tin with 12 liners.

Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, roughly mash one of the bananas so that it's still slightly chunky and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together the brown sugar and the other banana on medium speed for 3 minutes. Add the melted butter, egg, and vanilla, and mix well. Gradually add in the dry ingredients, mixing only until just combined. Fold in the mashed up banana and chocolate chips with a rubber spatula.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups, and give the pan a good thwack on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in muffin tin for 3 minutes, and then turn out on a wire rack to cool completely.

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Source: adapted from Tyler Florence via Food Network

Monday, September 19, 2011

Peanut Butter Blossoms

Posted by: Annie

These cookies almost didn't happen. Almost two weeks ago, I purchased a giant wholesale sized bag of Hershey Kisses from Costco with the intent of being a nice teacher and having candy in my classroom. Well, this bag never made it to school. It started in my room, and then Scott and I would put it on the coffee table to munch on while we were watching television. And then, you know, a handful would be thrown into my purse, and before I knew it, the bag was dwindling in size and I was falling into a Hershey Kiss induced coma.

I decided I needed to do something "productive" with my giant bag of Hershey Kisses, and peanut butter blossoms immediately came to mind. So, to any readers out there considering making these cookies, my advice would be to buy a normal-sized bag of Hershey Kisses, or else accept that you will be finding little silver wrappers in your car, purse, and bed (ahem), for weeks to come.

Here's what you'll need:

48 Hershey Kisses
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup shortening
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Granulated sugar for rolling

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Unwrap your Hershey Kisses.

In a large mixing bowl, combine shortening and peanut butter. Mix well.

Next, add both sugars to the shortening/peanut butter mixture and beat until light and fluffy. Add egg, milk, and vanilla, and mix well.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add the dry mixture into the peanut butter mixture and mix well.

Shape the dough into 1-inch balls and roll in granulated sugar. Place on an un-greased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes until the edges are lightly browned.  Remove from the oven, and immediately place a Hershey Kiss in the center of each cookie. Place on wire rack to cool.

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Source: Hershey's

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pumpkin Bread



Posted by: Maggie

Uhhh...we're almost two weeks into September, and I haven't posted a pumpkin recipe yet.

That's just not right.

Annie shared a recipe last fall for pumpkin apple bread, but I still wanted to post the pumpkin bread recipe that we both grew up eating.  I call this my mom's recipe, but she may have gotten it from a cookbook or magazine somewhere back in the day.  Despite living 215 miles away from my mom now, I almost felt like I was back in her kitchen when I had a slice this morning for breakfast.

For those readers who haven't been around for long, here are some of our past pumpkin recipes in case you're looking for fall baking inspiration:

Pumpkin Butterscotch Blondies
Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Brownies (best. thing. ever.)
Pumpkin Pie Bars
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Looking through those past posts made me realize how much my photography has improved over the past year. Granted, it's still nothing to write home about, especially compared to my food photography idols (Joy the Baker, and My Baking Addiction in case you're wondering.) Definitely an improvement though. Hurray for natural light!



Here's what you'll need:

2/3 cup shortening (I know...don't yell at me anti-shortening people of the world!)
2 2/3 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 15 ounce can pumpkin
2/3 cup water
3 1/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
2/3 cup chopped walnuts
2/3 cup raisins (I used golden raisins because they're what I had on hand)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottoms only of two 9" loaf pans. Mix shortening and sugar in a large bowl. Add eggs, pumpkin, and water.  In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and cloves. Gradually beat dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Gently fold in nuts and raisins. Divide batter evenly between two pans, and bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool for 45 minutes to an hour before removing from pans. Cool completely on a rack before slicing.

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Friday, September 9, 2011

Banana Pancakes

Banana Pancakes // A Bitchin' Kitchen
Posted by: Maggie

I was planning on waiting til Monday to share these pancakes with you, but it's such a good lazy Saturday morning recipe that I figured it would be more logical to give it to you before the weekend.

I don't really like bananas until they're covered in black spots - anytime before that I find them to be too firm, and not sweet enough to eat. Since I always wait until my bananas are super ripe, and since I tend to overbuy them, I always end up with a couple that I waste. In the interest of not throwing away perfectly good food, I made these delicious pancakes. This is definitely a recipe that I'll make again and again - it was super easy, I had all the ingredients in the house, and it kicked the butt of every pancake mix I've ever tried.

This recipe makes 8 pancakes that are approximately 5 inches in diameter each. I was just cooking for myself when I made these, so I stuck the 5 pancakes that I didn't eat in the freezer, and plan to reheat them in the oven at some point according to the directions here. Has anyone ever tried this? I'll be sure to update this post once I know how they turn out after being reheated from frozen.

Here's what you'll need:

Butter for greasing the pan
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 small, very ripe banana, peeled and mashed well
1 cup milk (I used 1%, but any type should work)
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Maple syrup, sliced banana, and butter for serving

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together mashed banana, milk, eggs, and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Using a rubber spatula, fold wet mixture into dry ingredients until just combined. Do not over mix or your pancakes will be tough! The batter will be slightly lumpy.

Preheat your frying pan or griddle (this is my favorite griddle for making pancakes). Butter the griddle and spread around so the cooking surface is evenly coated. Using a dry 1/3 measuring cup, scoop batter onto the griddle. Cook pancakes until the bottom is golden brown, and small holes start to form on the uncooked side. Flip pancake to the uncooked side, and cook for about 2 minutes more, until golden brown.

Repeat with remaining batter until it's all used up. If you can't cook a lot of pancakes at once due to having a small griddle, or just a frying pan, here's a tip that I use sometimes: Preheat your oven to 200 degrees, and line a pie plate with foil. As you cook the pancakes, stick them in the pie plate to stay warm, and gently cover with foil so they don't get dried out.

(Note: I updated this recipe on 9/12 to clarify the addition of butter to the recipe. When I made this, I only used butter on the skillet, and did not add it to the batter as the original recipe instructed. I think it's probably why they turned out so fluffy, instead of flat! If you would like to use butter in the batter please refer to the original recipe at the link below. Sorry for any confusion!)

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Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, The Kids Cookbook

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Vegan Chili



Posted by: Maggie

You know those people who use the word literally, when really they mean figuratively? Like...when they're hungry, they'll say I *literally* almost died of starvation. Or I *literally* almost ate a small child. Or, when they're extremely tired - I *literally* fell asleep standing up. Well, I'm usually one of those people. I was an English major in college - I have no excuse for this linguistic faux pas.

So, just know, that when you read the next sentence, I do actually mean literally this time. Monday, was literally the most humid afternoon I have ever experienced in Northern Virginia. I walked outside, armed with a grocery list detailing all of the ingredients that I needed for a big pot of chili, pumpkin beer, and other fall delights, and almost instantly started melting. My hair clung to my neck, my jeans stuck to my legs, and the makeup that I'd applied just to go to the grocery store (yep, I'm that girl) started sliding off my face. I have lived in this notoriously humid area for almost 5 years, and have literally never felt humidity as intense as what I experienced on Monday - the day that was supposed to be the unofficial beginning of fall.

Fortunately, I was undeterred in my quest for fall goodies. Once Labor Day rolls around, I get a little gung-ho about celebrating fall, and I wasn't going to let humidity stop me. A quick trip to Whole Foods got me all the ingredients I needed for this chili, as well as a 6-pack of this awesome pumpkin beer.


I've been so excited about celebrating fall this week, that I even joined a fantasy football league. I'm really, really, really not a football person, but I'm trying to train myself to like it. You see, I started dating my boyfriend Jeff in April 2009. For the past two football seasons, I have sat grumpily on the couch every Sunday while he yells words I don't understand at the television. The extent of my football knowledge is as follows: a) a touchdown is 6 points, and b) Mark Sanchez has an absolutely breathtaking hiney. Anyway...my draft party was last night. This is what I ended up with; hopefully it doesn't suck! Pardon my handwriting...I learned cursive in a Catholic School, yet it looks like I write with my feet.


Here's what you'll need for a big, delicious pot of chili:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1-3 cloves garlic, minced (optional, because I forgot the garlic and it was still delicious without)
2 bell peppers, chopped (I used yellow and red)
1 vidalia onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon cumin
3 tablespoons chili powder
Pinch of kosher salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons oregano
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 can mushrooms, drained
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
Juice of 1 lime
Sliced avocado, for garnish

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium. Add in your garlic, carrots, peppers, and onion, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add in the rest of the ingredients, and cook for 40 minutes over medium low heat, stirring occasionally. Adjust seasonings to taste (I added more cayenne and chili powder, but the amounts listed in the recipe are good starting points.)

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Source: Oh She Glows (an awesome healthy living blog with great vegan recipes! Even carnivores like me can enjoy them!) Originally adapted from Maintenance with Ashley

Friday, September 2, 2011

Bacon Parmesan Chickpea Salad



Posted by: Maggie

Sooo...this "salad" happened. This "salad" is made of healthy stuff like chickpeas, onions, and green pepper...which I then corrupted with loads of cheese and bacon grease.  I feel kind of dirty calling it a salad. Anything that tastes this delicious, that gets sauteed in straight-up grease should not bear that title.

Semantics aside, you should probably make this immediately. We can talk about a different name for it later.

(P.S. Have a great Labor Day to all our U.S. readers! Enjoy your long weekends!)

What you'll need:

1 15 ounce can of chickpeas, rinsed, drained, and patted as dry as possible
1 slice of bacon, chopped
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
1/4 green pepper, finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
Fresh parsley to taste, chopped
Kosher salt, to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon should do the trick)

Fry your bacon over medium heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon from pan and drain on a paper towel, leaving the grease in the frying pan. Add the onion and pepper to the frying pan, and saute for about 2 minutes.

Toss the dry chickpeas with the paprika and pepper, and add to the frying pan with the vegetables. Cook and stir frequently for 5 minutes, and then add in garlic. Cook for one additional minute.

Remove mixture from heat, and stir in cheese, chopped bacon, and parsley. Salt to taste and serve immediately.

Makes enough for a meal for a hungry person, or a large side dish for two.

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Source: the brilliant Jessica of How Sweet Eats (my co-blogger and I mostly read different food blogs, but this is one that we both adore!)
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