Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Blueberry Muffin Top Cookies

The fluffy texture and blueberry lemon flavor is reminiscent of my favorite muffins.  But, the shape says cookie.  This just means you can eat them anytime of day.  Plus, since they use yogurt instead of butter or oil, we can go ahead and call them healthy.  The batch made quite a few, and even after sending some home with friends, we were left with a lot of cookies.  I tossed them in the freezer in an effort to prevent us from eating them nonstop, and they seemed to fare well.  You can take them straight from the freezer and reheat them for about 7 minutes in a 350 oven. 

Blueberry Muffin Top Cookies
original recipe from spoon fork bacon

Yield ~48 cookies

2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups Greek yogurt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 lemon, zested
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 375°F.
In a large mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together and set aside.
In another mixing bowl whisk together sugar, yogurt, egg, lemon zest and juice, and vanilla until fully combined.
Add the flour mixture to the yogurt mixture and stir well.
Lightly toss the blueberries in flour and then fold into the mixture.
Butter baking sheets, or line with silicone mats.
Using a cookie scoop, or a Tablespoon, drop 12 cookies on each sheet.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the edges barely begin to brown.
Allow to cool on a cooling rack.

Monday, May 20, 2013

So Long, 1986 Kitchen

When we moved into this house, the kitchen was mostly functional, but ugly.  Our house was built in 1986, and the kitchen showed everything that the 80s had to offer by way of style.  Grainy oak cabinets, heavy hardware, beige laminate countertops, a white tile backsplash with little flowers painted on, and a weird tiny eat-in area that had been converted to a useless tile countertop that was impossible to keep clean.

In the three years that we have lived here, I complained about the ugliness of the kitchen approximately 8,888,888,888,888 times.  We discussed several iterations of this renovation ranging from taking down load-bearing walls, reconfiguring the layout, and gutting everything to just getting new cabinet hardware.  This winter, when we had a few months without too many commitments, we tackled the renovation.  Obviously, by we I mean that Jon did the bulk of the work, I complained about how many times I had to clean tile dust off the spatulas and Colin did everything he could to climb into the cabinets and followed our contractor around giving him about a foot of space. 

It started on President's Day weekend, ended on Mother's Day (I was fully expecting it to be an anniversary present... in July), and was worth every second (and penny).  We did as much work as we could ourselves because we wanted to and it's the most cost effective.  We were lucky our contractor, CJW Home Improvement (major recommendations!), was willing to work with us while we muddled along and called him in to do all the complicated parts.  In a (large) nutshell, the steps were as follows:

- Empty the cabinets, remove the doors, sand, degloss, prime and paint.
- Get a new refrigerator.  Realize that the new fridge won't fit under the cabinet above it.  Move the cabinet.  
- Sand, degloss, prime and paint cabinet doors.  2-3 coats of paint on both sides with 24 hours drying time, this took the longest.  Many a night we spent in the basement. 
- Remove weird tile counter in tiny eat-in area.  Discover that it was designed and installed to last forever.  Glue, cement, nails, stripped screws covered with wood filler.  They had it all.  

- Take down old tile backsplash.  Have fun using a chisel and use this as an opportunity to get out any aggression.  Completely destroy the drywall. 
- Get new cabinets, assemble, sand, prime and paint.
- Contractor sees sketchy electrical behind our now-destroyed drywall, so we end up adding a couple outlets and thanking our stars we didn't have a fire.  
- Contractor puts in new heating blower and air conditioning ducts and removes old scary baseboard.
- Contractor installs new cabinets, which requires him to cut the floor tile, thus creating a noise and a mess I'd never imagined before.
- Order granite counters.  Look at hundreds of slabs of granite in huge warehouses.
- Granite guy comes to make the template and tells us we need to have the old counters removed.
- Contractor removes the old counters and the sink.  Things look bleak when I'm washing dishes in the bathroom sink.

- Jon goes away for a bachelor party and I flee to my parents house where they have counters and a sink. 
- Granite gets installed.  It's so pretty.

- Contractor installs the sink.  It's large enough to swim in. 
- We spend several weeks agonizing over the backsplash.  Samples are purchased, propped up, and stared at.  We finally pick one.
- Home stretch.  Contractor installs backsplash, ties up loose ends, and grouts.  We're so close.
- Repaint the walls and call it done.
- And by done, we mean that now we need to replace the windows because the wood trim looks bad, and we're repainting the dining room.  But, DONE!
-Oh, and I love it! More counter and cabinet space than I know what to do with!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Wheat Berry Salad with Chicken

In my pantry I have two large mason jars with grains in them.  I'm fairly certain one of them is hard red wheat berries.  I determined this after comparing them to a bag I had, and getting really close to stare at them.  For a while, I thought the other jar held barley.  But then I got some barley and it looked different.  Instead of just cooking them and figuring it out, I ignored them for several months, and complained about the space they took up.  Finally, I used them for this recipe and determined they are soft white wheat berries.  Mystery solved.  The mystery of why I can't be bothered to label my jars is still out there, however.  Now I feel like I may have told you this boring story before.  Sorry.

This salad is great on it's own, but we had some leftovers from a roast chicken so I added it for some protein.  Chickpeas are a good vegetarian option.

Wheat Berry Salad with Chicken

1 cup wheat berries, soaked and then simmered for an hour (follow package directions)
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cucumber, chopped
2 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
Chicken, cooked and shredded

In a large bowl, combine wheat berries, tomato, cucumber and green onions.
In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, maple syrup, mustard and olive oil.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Pour dressing over salad and mix well.
Top with cooked chicken and crumbled goat cheese.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Baked Lemon and Pesto Tilapia

This was so easy I won't call it a recipe.  I didn't even make my own pesto, so the whole thing was ready for the table in 20 minutes.  I used tilapia, because I like it and it was on sale at the market.  Use whatever fish you like.

I'm also happy to report that my little guy liked it, especially the pieces with pesto breadcrumbs, so if I have any readers who cook for little people, I'd recommend giving it a try.  Also, sorry about using the word moist later on.   

One more thing!  If you read via Google reader, word on the street is that it's going away.  I've switched my blog reader to Bloglovin, and it's working out well.

Baked Lemon and Pesto Tilapia

1 lb. tilapia fillets
1/2-1 lemon, sliced
1/4-1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
2-4 Tablespoons pesto
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Arrange tilapia in a single layer in a baking dish.
Drizzle with olive oil and turn to coat all sides.
In a small bowl, mix together breadcrumbs and pesto.  Add enough olive oil to keep it moist. 
Top fish with breadcrumb mixture, and arrange lemon slices over the top.
Cover with foil and bake for about 10-15 minutes, until it flakes with a fork. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Asian Style Salmon Salad

Now that it's May and Jon's birthday and corresponding pie was last week, we are making an effort to eat a little cleaner.  Sadly, this means cutting down on our consumption of things like nightly dessert.  Thankfully it does not mean we are going to stop going out to ice cream, because that's an important Sunday evening tradition for us in the summer.  At least for me, and I'm fairly certain I can get Colin in my corner.  This doesn't have much to do with anything, aside from the fact that this salad is healthy, filling and delicious.  And won't leave you craving peanut butter cups.  

I love salmon.  Love, love, love.  I always feel good after eating it, and it's so versatile.  Ina made this recipe originally with fresh tuna, but I never see that in the stores, and when I do it can be crazy expensive. I think this would also be good with any firm white fish. 

Asian Style Salmon Salad
inspired by Barefoot Contessa

1-2 pounds salmon
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black, plus extra for sprinkling
2 limes, zest grated
6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (3 limes)
2 teaspoons soy sauce
10 dashes hot sauce
1 to 2 ripe Hass avocados, medium diced
1/4 cup minced scallions, white and green parts (2 scallions)
1/4 cup red onion, small diced


Cook salmon however you like.  I brushed it with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper and cooked over medium high heat for about 4 minutes on each side.  You can also roast, broil or grill it. 

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the olive oil, salt, pepper, lime zest, lime juice, soy sauce and hot sauce. 
Add the avocados to the vinaigrette.
Cut the fish in chunks and place it in a large bowl. 
Add the scallions and red onion. 
Pour the vinaigrette mixture over the tuna and carefully mix.
Serve over greens, or on rolls.  

photo 1-1 photo 1-2