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Five Favorites Friday – 6/10/11

10 Jun

Lately I’ve been feeling less than inspired when it comes to blogging. 

I think it’s mainly for two reasons; life has been busy (when isn’t it though, right?) and, as a result, I haven’t been spending as much time in the kitchen. 

In order to create blog worthy material, I decided to discuss what I was eating on a daily basis.  But, let’s be honest now, it’s a little boring.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to eat healthfully and I love to share it but I found the posts to be dry and dull.  That’s now how I want this blog to be. 

So, I’ve made some decisions.  First of all, I do not plan to blog about my daily meals any longer.  It may happen from time to time but it certainly isn’t going to be a daily thing. 

And secondly, I’d like to get back into the kitchen to create healthy, satisfying meals to share.  That’s really what I love about cooking and baking.  So even if I can only post a few days a week, I’d rather to that and discuss something I enjoy.  It’ll provide for much better posts.

Have you noticed by now that I don’t have any pictures that are relevent to the topic?  🙂  These are just some of the pictures I’ve taken over the last few weeks during my travels.  And they also happen to be my five favorites for the week.  That’s right, no links, no recipes, no nonsense; just some lovely pictures to enjoy!

I hope to be back in the kitchen sometime soon as I have some recipes I’m pretty excited to share.  Until then!

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Five Favorites Friday – 6/3/11

3 Jun

Hello there!  Who’s ready for the weekend?  I know I am.  Even though this was a short week, it was still incredibly busy.  Alex and I had something to do every night this week and tonight I’m flying home to Buffalo.  My mom, sister, and I are going to do more wedding planning and shopping.  I’m so excited as I love all things wedding.  The goal this weekend is to find my sister a dress!

So, as I mentioned before, I’m trying to incorporate more protein into my diet.  At lunch and dinner, it has been easy as I can add cottage cheese to a salad or incorporate chicken into a dish, for example.  However, I tend to have a harder time finding high protein breakfasts and snacks.  This week I’ve compiled some of my favorite recipes as well as a couple I’d like to try.

My five favorites for Friday June 3, 2011 (btw, I must be in denial as I just typed May instead of June!):

  1. Whey Protein Cookies (from Fat Loss School)
    This is one of the recipes that I have yet to try but it sounds great!  Since protein powder is the main focus of this recipe, it’s important to find a powder that tastes good.  I’m still working on finding a powder I love but once I do, I plan to make a batch of these cookies!
  2. Protein Truffles (from Peas and Thank You)
    These vegan protein truffles sound like a great way to refuel after the gym or a nice way to curb hunger before dinner.  Either way, I can’t wait to give them a try!
  3. Microwave Protein Muffin (from Smoothie Girl Eats Too)
    I know I’ve mentioned this recipe before but it bears repeating because it’s that good!  You can follow Deb’s version exactly or adapt it to your liking.  It’s quick too, which helps on busy mornings or late night snacks!
  4. Lemon Yogurt Chia Seed Protein Muffins (from meals & moves)
    This is another great one!  I used this recipe as the base for my Chocolate Chip Protein Muffins, which I just loved.  But sometimes you just can’t beat the original 🙂
  5. Strawberry Banana Smoothie
    The last item on the list is something I’ve been having as dessert all week.  It’s incredibly easy and so tasty.  I wish I had tried it sooner!  I throw the following into a blender and blend away; 1/2 cup greek yogurt, 1/2 cup skim milk, 2-3 organic frozen strawberries, 1 small frozen banana, and 1/2 Tbsp strawberry fig jam.  This is so refreshing on a hot summer night.  I can foresee this becoming a summertime tradition.

What do you do to incorporate more protein into your diet?  Any favorite recipes?

Five Favorites Friday – 5/20/11

20 May

Helloooooo Friday!  Am I happy to see you!  I know that earlier this week I mentioned that the week seems to be going very slowly.  Unfortunately, the whole week felt that way!  But we’ve made it to Friday, my favorite day of the week.  Even though Friday isn’t actually part of the weekend, it’s my favorite because there is so much anticipation.  When I leave work on Friday evenings I know I have two whole days off to enjoy.  What’s better than that?!  Nothing, I tell ya.

Today I want to talk about bread.  Yeast breads, specifically.  Every Friday, Susan at Wild Yeast posts what she calls YeastSpotting.  YeastSpotting is a weekly collection of yeast recipes that have been prepared and submitted by bloggers.  This week is my first week participating.  I submitted the Cheesy Pretzel Bites I made last weekend because, honestly, they’re too good not to share! 

This week I’ve compiled a list of yeast bread recipes that look fantastic!  I found most of them through YeastSpotting.  If you’re interested in baking with yeast, I highly recommend checking out Wild Yeast for yourself!

My five favorites for Friday May 20, 2011: 

  1. Sunny Cranberry Loaf (from Cookistry)
    This bread looks great mostly because of the addition of sweet, dried cranberries!  The title also makes me think of sunny, summer days which I’m really looking forward to.
  2. Garlic Rolls (from My Singapore Kitchen)
    Yum, I love garlic rolls.  They bring me back to my college days where a plain slice and garlic knots was a welcomed dinner!  I also love that there are step by step pictures included for those of us that like a little bit more direction. 🙂
  3. Double Hydration Focaccia (from Bewitching Kitchen)
    Focaccia bread is one of my favorites because it is so flavorful and fluffy.  I’ve never made my own though and this recipe looks like a great place to start! 
  4. Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread (from Swapna’s Cuisine)
    Do I really need to explain why this one made the list?!  Cinnamon and sugar were made to be together!
  5. Cinnamon Vanilla Swirl Bread (from Bran Appetit)
    Can you tell that I really like cinnamon?  I especially love the cinnamon swirl in the center of the loaf.  Yum!

Have you ever baked with yeast?  What’s your favorite yeast bread?

Five Friday Favorites – 5/13/11

13 May

Random is the name of the game today.  I’ve read so many great posts over the past week or so that I complied quite the random listing.  This is just a glimpse of what’s been happening in the blogworld this week.  I’m sure there are many awesome posts that I missed.  If you feel I overlooked something stellar, please share in the comments! 

My five favorites for Friday, May 13, 2011:

  1. Brown Rice Horchata (from skinnytaste.com)
    For those of you who have never heard of horchata, it is a Mexican drink made from rice, milk, cinnamon and sugar.  A few years ago this drink was foreign to me too however, it is one of Alex’s favorites.  He’s always on the look out for horchata when we go to a new Mexican restaurant.  Once I saw this recipe, I knew I had to save it so that I can make him some in our very own kitchen! 
  2. Burpee Blasts (from Getting Healthy with Heather)
    If you thought burpees were hard, think again.  The burpee blast takes this plyometric exercise to the next level.  Heather was brave enough to do 101 at once and she lived to tell the tale.  Phenomenal.  I hope to try these myself sometime however my goal is much more modest.  I’m hoping I can do more than one 🙂 
  3. Weighing In (from Slate)
    This article discusses the importance and ease of using a kitchen scale.  Years ago I would have thought it crazy to weigh my ingredients when baking a simple batch of cookies or a loaf of quick bread.  But as I spend more time in the kitchen, I’ve come to learn that weighing the ingredients can make all the difference between soft, chewy cookies and cookie shaped rocks.  I use the EatSmart Precision Pro Kitchen Scale.  It’s probably the best $25 I’ve ever spent on kitchen supplies.
  4. Spring Abs Workout (from The Fitnessita)
    This is another great fat blasting workout that focuses on the core.  I like that it’s short and sweet but I’m sure highly effective.  It’s another one I plan to try soon!
  5. DIY Decorating with Masking Tape (from How About Orange)
    This last one is so much fun!  I love the simplicity and versatility of each design.  Also, if you’re not happy with your work, you can always take the tape off and start again.  You can change the tape according to the season, your mood, or whatever you like.  Personally, I’m quite partial to the purple tape but that’s just me 🙂

Any big plans for the weekend?  Alex and I are going to keep it pretty low-key for the most part but we do have a meeting with a wedding photographer on Sunday.  I’m looking forward to it.  Wedding planning has been a lot of fun and it’s nice to see each piece of our big day fall into place.  Have a good one!

Five Favorites Friday – 5/6/11

6 May

Earlier this week, I shared a tutorial on how to make your own peanut butter at home.  Ever since then I’ve had nut butter on the brain.  I even created another recipe thanks to a suggestion from my coworker. 

Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to share it with you shortly.  Dare I say it’s even better than the peanut butter recipe?  But you’ll just have to check back and judge for yourself.

Keeping inline with my nut butter infatuation, I’ve found some stellar recipes that all use nut butter.  Here are my five favorites for Friday May 6, 2011:

  1. Dark Chocolate Cinnamon PB Cups (from Nutrition Nut on the Run)
    I’ve made my own peanut butter cups and I have to say that they don’t even compare to store-bought.  They are just so much better!  You can customize each ingredient to suit your taste, such as the use of dark chocolate instead of milk, or adding cinnamon.  I love all that Hillary did with these PB cups and I can’t wait to replicate them in my own kitchen!
  2. Pistachio Butter Cups (from From Donuts to Delirium)
    These look phenomenal!  The pistachio butter has such a vibrant green color that makes the cups look even more irresistible than they sound. 
  3. Cinnamon Raisin Almond Butter Cookies (from Kiss My Broccoli)
    I love the combination of cinnamon and raisin in just about anything.  Add almond butter to the mix, and I’m sure you can’t go wrong.  These cookies look fantastic!
  4. Pink Fuzzy Slipper Cookies (from Hungry Happenings)
    These cookies involve peanut butter in the form of Nutter Butter cookies.  And, quite frankly, they are just adorable.  Ever since I found them, I’ve been brainstorming occasions for which to use them.  So creative!
  5. Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich Cookies (from Mind Over Batter)
    A delectable twist on a childhood favorite.  Yum!

What was the last thing you made using nut butter?  Feel free to leave a link in the comments!

How to make Homemade Peanut Butter

2 May

Over the weekend it occurred to me that my posts haven’t been showing up in Facebook for a couple of weeks now.  What a shame!  I know that you want to catch up on what you’ve missed so be sure to read all the posts.  Here are few highlights:

Moving right along…  Today I want to share with you one of my latest obsessions. 

Homemade peanut butter. 

It’s amazing how simple it is, so long as you have a food processor.  (If anyone knows how to make peanut butter without a food processor or high-speed blender, please tell me immediately!) 

The ingredient list can’t be beat!  All you need are peanuts and maybe a little bit of salt but that’s entirely up to you.  I’m going to walk you through the process one step at a time.

First, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  While the oven is heating up, get your nuts ready.  I use Planter’s dry roasted unsalted nuts. 

This way I can control what goes into the peanut butter and well, I’m in love with the ingredient list.

Check that out, it only contains peanuts!  Love 🙂

Okay, so back to the steps.  To roast your nuts, you want to spread them out in a thin layer on a baking sheet, like so.

Roasting the nuts releases their natural oils and gives the nut butter a stronger peanut flavor.  You could probably skip the roasting step but it makes for a better peanut butter, so why would you?

Once the oven is heated up and the nuts are ready, place the baking sheet in the oven for three minutes.  After three minutes are up, remove the sheet, stir the nuts and return to the oven for another three minutes.  At this point your kitchen will smell like peanuty perfection.  However, refrain from eating the nuts as they will burn your tongue.  Ow.

After the nuts have cooled for a minute or two, dump them into your food processor.

Make sure the lid is on tight, plug in the processor, and turn it on.  After about a minute, you’ll have a crumbly, chopped peanut mixture.  It’ll look something like this.

Scrape down the sides and continue to process for another few minutes (about 2 to 3).  You’re almost there!

You can stop here if you like a thicker nut butter, but I like mine creamy and drippy so I processed the nuts for another minute or two.  At this point, I added about 1/4 teaspoon of salt just to add a little flavor.  Like I said above, that’s completely optional. 

In the end, you’ll have something that looks like this.

So smooth, so creamy, so tasty!

When I garner enough self control and don’t eat it straight from the jar with a spoon, I like to eat my peanut butter

The options are endless!  I used some of the peanut butter from this batch to make Christina’s Peanut Butter Banana Bread.  Oh.  My.  Goodness.  The banana bread was incredible!  It turned out so moist and full of banana flavor.  I made three mini-loaves which I plan to give away as Mother’s Day gifts.  I highly recommend you do the same!

Have you ever made homemade nut butter before?  What’s your favorite way to eat peanut butter?

Five Favorites Friday – 4/29/11

29 Apr

Here we are on the last Friday in April.  It’s hard to believe that the month is nearly over.  How does that always happen?  Today is a pretty special day for a  number of reasons.  First off, today is my brother’s birthday.  Happy Birthday Mike!!!  Secondly, today was the much anticipated royal wedding.  Have you heard about it?  I’m kidding!  Something tells me everyone’s heard about it whether they want to or not!  And last, but certainly not least, six months from today I’ll be the one walking down the aisle 🙂  I’m very excited!  You’ve probably heard that before too.

At any rate, I thought today would be a great chance to do an all wedding post.  I’ve gone through numerous wedding posts (it was rough, I tell ya) on one of my favorite sites, Style Me Pretty.  For each wedding included below I selected my favorite component that I’d like to incorporate into our big day.  Also included are links back to the original post so that you can bask in the wedding glory yourself!

My five favorites for Friday April 29, 2011:

Purple Bridal Bouquet

Dessert Bar (Love truly is sweet!)

Floral Centerpieces and Candles

Purple Frame (perhaps for the reception seating arrangements)

Poise, Elegance, and Grace

Did you watch the royal wedding?  What’d you think?

To be honest, I’m not so much into the royal wedding as I am weddings in general so I didn’t watch it.  But I did make sure to look up Kate’s dress as soon as I got the chance.  Needless to say, its gorgeous.