Archive | February, 2011

Chicken Meatballs & ABCs

28 Feb

Since I have a really quick recipe for you, I thought I’d also include my answers to the latest survey going around the blogging world.  Here are my ABCs:

A – Age: 27

B – Bed Size: Double bed, for now.  Someday I’ll allow myself the luxury of a king 🙂

C – Chore You Hate: vacuuming.  I hate how loud it is!  And I have the worst vacuum cleaner known to man.

D – Dogs?  Eh.  In all honesty, I have nothing against them I just don’t want to live with one.  Or clean up after one.

E – Essential Start Your Day Item:  Breakfast!  I usually go for something involving peanut butter.  Yum!

F – Favorite Color: Purple

G – Gold or Silver?  Silver

H – Height: 5 ft 5 in

I – Instruments You Play: I played the clarinet all throughout middle and high school but gave it up once I got to college.  And I don’t miss it one bit.

J – Job Title: CPA

K – Kids: Someday 🙂

L – Live: Manhattan

M – Mom’s Name: Pat

N – Nicknames: Mouse or Mousie, Chelle

O – Overnight Hospital Stays? Luckily none!

P – Pet Peeve: Slow, slow, sloooooow walkers (a.k.a. Tourists)

Q – Quote from a Movie:  I know this is kind of cheesy but I love the quote “There’s no place like home” from the Wizard of Oz.  Because it’s just so true.

R – Right or Left Handed: Right

S – Siblings: A younger sister, Amanda, and a younger brother, Mike

T – Time You Wake Up: 7:10am (too early if you ask me!)

U – Underwear: I usually wear it 🙂

V – Vegetable You Dislike: Baby Corn

W – What Makes You Run Late: Usually, slow walkers (see P above)

X – X-Rays You’ve Had Done: My teeth and my left elbow.  I had a slight break in my left elbow from a fall while rollerblading.  I had to start high school in a cast.  That wasn’t much fun.

Y – Yummy Food You Make: Chocolate Chip cookies (for sure) and a close second would have to be pizza.

Z – Zoo, Favorite Animal: I actually don’t like zoos because I feel bad for the animals all locked up.  But if I had to pick, I’d probably say penguins.  They’re adorable and always fashionable.

So, without further ado, a yummy, quick recipe!  These chicken meatballs are incredibly easy to throw together.  It’ll take you more time to pull out the ingredients than to actually make them.  And once they’re in the oven, you’re free to take it easy as there isn’t much clean up either.  Love that!

Chicken Meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 2 Tbsp Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp basil pesto
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients until evenly mixed.
  3. Roll a tablespoon sized portions into balls until you have 16.
  4. Place meatballs into an 8×8 baking dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Be sure to evenly space the meatballs so that they do not touch.
  5. Cook meatballs for 15 to 20 minutes.  If you would like to add some tomato sauce, remove the meatballs from the oven after 12 to 15 minutes and cover each with a small amount of sauce.  Cook for another 3 to 5 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and let stand for a few minutes before serving.

I’m not very creative when it comes to side dishes.  Any good ideas for what to serve with these meatballs?

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

26 Feb

Alex’s favorite food of all time is chocolate chip cookies.  He typically eats them on a daily basis with a tall glass of milk.  I can’t bake him fresh cookies daily but when I do have time, I like to make them special.  I like for them to stand out against his everyday cookies.

Needless to say, in the four years we’ve been together, I’ve baked countless cookies.  Followed countless recipes.  And had countless results.  Some good, some not so good, but only a few great.  So, I continue searching.  Each time I come across another chocolate chip recipe, I bookmark it; adding it to my on-going list of “things to bake.”

Today I finally had time to address my list and choose to make the Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies featured by the Brown Eyed Baker.  When I first found this recipe, I knew it had all the important aspects of a great chocolate chip cookie; a soft, chewy center, loads of chocolate, and they’re big enough to feed a small family.  I knew it would be love at first bite.

Let’s just say, the recipe did not disappoint.  The cookies turned out chewy, soft, and chock-full of chocolate.  Love.

The only thing I’ll change next time around (yes, I’ll definitely be using this recipe again) is the baking time.  The recipe calls for 15 to 18 minutes of baking.  I baked mine for 17 minutes but found that they were a little crispier than I’d hoped.  Next time I’ll bake them no longer than 15 so that they remain soft and chewy after they’ve cooled.

One last thing, before I share the recipe; please do read the original post by Michelle, the Brown Eyed Baker.  Michelle takes the time to emphasize the importance of measuring by weight, instead of by volume.  I couldn’t agree more.  In fact, I invested in a kitchen scale not too long ago and it’s been a life saver.  All my baked goods have been better as a result.

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
(from the Brown Eyed Baker)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups plus 2 Tbsp (10 5/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 1 cup packed (7 ounces) light or dark brown sugar*
  • 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.
  3. Either by hand or with an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in the chips.
  4. Measure 1/4 cup of the dough and roll into a ball. Hold the dough ball with the fingertips of both hands and pull into 2 equal halves. Rotate the halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, join the halves together at their base, again forming a single ball, being careful not to smooth the dough’s uneven surface. Place the formed dough balls on the prepared baking sheet, jagged surface up, spacing them 2 1/2 inches apart.
  5. Bake until the cookies are light golden grown and the outer edges start to harden yet the centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the sheets. Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets with a side metal spatula.

*When I was gathering my ingredients, I realized that I was out of brown sugar!  I had my heart set on making these cookies so I decided to forge ahead and make my own brown sugar.  I followed these directions set out by none other than Martha Stewart herself.  It worked very well however I’m interested to see if the cookies will turn out differently with regular brown sugar.  I guess I’ll just have to make them again.  Darn.

What’s next on your “things to bake” list?

Five Favorites Friday – 2/25/11

25 Feb

Hello Friday!  I’m so happy you’re here.  This week was a short one but I’m still battling last weeks illness so it wasn’t the best week.  But that’s alright because the weekend is here.  I’m looking forward to some relaxation and good food.  Maybe some homemade breadsticks, Olive Garden style?  You’ll have to keep reading for the recipe!

My five favorites for Friday, February 25th:

  1. Rustic Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Bread (from Garlic and Sea Salt)
    Not too long ago, Allie featured this bread recipe and I knew I had to make it mine.  I love the idea of incorporating sweet potatoes into a yeast bread.  And it’ll give me even more experience with yeast breads!
  2. Olive Garden Breadsticks
    In my opinion, there is one reason to go to Olive Garden; their garlic, buttery breadsticks.  However, since moving to the city, I hardly ever go.  In fact, I think I’ve only been once in the past five or six years!  But now, I don’t have to worry about never making it there.  I can bring the best part of the restaurant to my own kitchen.
  3. Doughnuts take NYC by storm
    Doughnuts are the next cupcakes.  At least according to the NYTimes.  The slideshow included with the article says it all.  It’s inspired me for my next foodie adventure.
  4. McDonald’s does oatmeal
    This article is an opinion piece by Mark Bittman.  His message is that McDonald’s has found a way to make even the most basic of breakfasts into a sugar-laden health disaster.  It highlights somethings that the food industry does wrong, such as adding unnecessary ingredients and chemicals and it emphasizes that the best “diet” for anyone is real, whole foods.  It is a well written piece on an important message that everyone should read.
  5. Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies (from Lovin’ From the Oven)
    Lately I’ve seen several recipes for stuffed chocolate chip cookies.  I love the idea of a cookie within a cookie.  Next chance I get, I’m going to attempt making these cookies with Thin Mints in place of Oreos.  Think it’ll work?  Even if it doesn’t, it could be a tasty kitchen fail.  I’m willing to risk it.

Have a good weekend!  Any plans for your kitchen this weekend?

Core Fusion: Bootcamp

24 Feb

This is the third week in my morning workout challenge.  I’m proud to announce that I have successfully completed three morning workouts!  Each workout was enjoyable and this is a trend I’d like to continue.  Afterward, I always feel rejuvenated and I find that I have more energy throughout the day.

This week’s workout?  Core Fusion Bootcamp.

source

This DVD is the latest addition to the Core Fusion series.  Like the other Core Fusion DVDs, this workout is divided into five 10-minute workouts led by Elisabeth Halfpapp and Fred DeVito.  In addition, there are two bonus segments for a total workout time of 70 minutes.

Elisabeth and Fred lead each segment with the support of three Core Fusion instructors.  They provide variations to the exercises and give you an idea of what it is like to take a live class.  Also, the workouts are more cardio focused than prior DVDs.  So Core Fusion Bootcamp provides an all-inclusive workout; cardio, muscle toning, and stretching.

My favorite feature of the DVD is the Cardio Sun Salutations segment.  The flow of this segment is rather quick, which gets the heart pumping providing a nice burst of cardio.  If you have never done yoga before, this segment would be difficult.  I’m relatively a novice when it comes to yoga but I have been to enough Vinyasa classes to understand the basics of sun salutations.  I recommend watching the DVD a few times before attempting the exercise so that you know what to expect.

Overall, this is an effective, total body workout with a lot of variation.  And, like all Core Fusion workouts, it’s tough without being impossible.  I look forward to keeping this DVD in my weekly rotation.

**As I said before, in some of my posts I’ve mentioned products or companies that I like.  I have not been paid for my thoughts.  These are just my opinions and I’m happy to share because I think others will enjoy them too.**

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Cookies with White Chocolate Chunks

21 Feb

This weekend was an extra long one for me.  Four. Whole. Days.  It started out with a sick day on the couch but ended with these cookies.  So, needless to say, it ended well.  Very well.

Inspiration stuck last week when I made a batch of Gabriela’s vegan pumpkin spice cookies.  I really like this recipe.  The cookies have great flavor and texture.  And they are healthy to boot!

While making these cookies for the second time around, I decided to add a few things to make them my own.  I love how they turned out!  The oats give the cookie a hearty texture and the white chocolate chunks add a nice amount of sweetness.

So dust off those extra cans of Libby’s in the pantry (I know you have some), and get baking!

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Cookies with White Chocolate Chunks
(makes 24 cookies)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 chia seed “egg” (1 tbsp chia seeds and 2.5 tbsp water)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 to 1 cup white chocolate chunks

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl, create your chia seed “egg”.  Combine chia seeds and water.  Let it sit for a few minutes, until thickened.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix applesauce, maple syrup, pumpkin, chia seed egg, and vanilla.
  5. Add the wet mixture to the dry.  Stir until just combined.  Fold in white chocolate chunks.
  6. Using a tablespoon to measure, drop cookies onto a large baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the cookies begin to brown.

What did you do this weekend?

This post is linked to:

Quick & Easy Chicken Sausage Casserole

19 Feb

Cooking during a busy work week can be hard.  After a long day, I usually just want to come home and unwind.  So, in an effort to increase my relaxation time, I look for quick, healthy meals that can be prepared easily after work.

One of the easiest weeknight meals is a casserole.  It tastes great with a few, simple ingredients and it’s quick to come together.  In fact, it could even be prepared in advance, refrigerated, and then heated up when you’re ready to eat.

Also, it can create lots of leftovers.  Which is great for those nights when the TV’s pull is stronger than your will power, haha.

Quick & Easy Chicken Sausage Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz whole wheat pasta (A little bit more than half the box was left, so I used about 9.15 oz.)
  • 4 oz chicken or chicken sausage
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 8 oz of 1% cottage cheese (After I took the picture, I swapped the greek yogurt for cottage cheese.  You can use either.)
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • Parmesan cheese to taste

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Prepare pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, spray skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat.  Cook onions until fragrant; about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for 1-2 more minutes.

Add chicken to skillet and cook until juices run clear; about 8-10 minutes.  If using pre-cooked, chicken sausage, add to the skillet in the last 2-3 minutes of cooking.

While the chicken is cooking, prepare your sauce.  In a bowl, combine tomato sauce, cottage cheese, pesto, mozzarella, parsley, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Once pasta is done, rinse and add to the sauce.  Mix to evenly coat the pasta.  Fold in chicken.

Pour mixture into a 8×8 baking dish.  Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top.

Cover the pan with foil.  Cook for 25-30 minutes, remove foil and cook for another 5-10 minutes.  While the casserole was cooking, I chopped some broccoli and kale to serve on the side.

When the casserole is done, the sauce should be bubbly and the parmesan cheese should be lightly browned.

Let it stand for a few minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

Do you have any quick & easy, weeknight meals?

Five Favorites Friday – 2/18/11

18 Feb

Happy Friday!  How was your week?  I’ve had a great one!  It’s been so much fun talking about my engagement and thinking about wedding planning.  I’m incredibly excited.  There’s so much to do.  Have you ever planned a wedding?  Do you have any tips to share?  Even with all the excitement, I found time to uncover some great links.  Enjoy!

My five favorites for Friday, February 18th:

  1. Whole Wheat Cottage Cheese Lemony Loaf (from The Fresh Loaf)
    One of my goals for 2011 is to make more yeast bread.  To me, fresh bread from scratch is one of the most satisfying things to bake.  I also love the idea of cottage cheese in a yeast bread (extra protein!).
  2. Pretzel Bites with Cheese (from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen)
    Um, do these need further explanation?  Yum!
  3. Peanut Butter Crispy Bars by Baked (from Crepes of Wrath) – Love, love, LOVE peanut butter and chocolate together however, I often shy away from recipes with both because Alex doesn’t like the combo.   Which means, I’d end up eating the entire recipe myself.  But for these bars, I’m willing to make an exception.  These look to-die-for.
  4. Coconut Cinnamon Popcorn (from the edible perspective) – Coconut fever.  Ashley found a way to use coconut oil and coconut butter in one recipe!  Must. try. this. popcorn.
  5. Last, but not least, I’m loving the clothing website, Stop Staring! The New York Times wrote this piece about the revival of women’s clothing from the 1940s and 50s.  The article echoed my desire to wear more vintage clothing and provided inspiration to do something about it!  So, I did a little shopping (advertising mission accomplished!).  I decided on these two dresses.

**As a side note, in some of my posts I’ve mentioned products or companies that I like.  I have not been paid for my thoughts.  These are just my opinions and I’m happy to share because I think others will enjoy them too.**

What links did you enjoy this week?