Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Lately, I've Been ...

Well, hi there.  :)

It's been a minute.

What have I been up to, you ask?

Well, lately, I've been ...

Working ...
On finding a leadership position in my field.  And I did it!  After a brief few months of unemployment this past spring, I landed a program director position with a small, local nonprofit serving young children and their families.  I work hard, I wear many hats, and I'm learning a lot!

Hanging ...
With this great guy and his great dog:
That's Rob.  It's been nearly a year, and a good one at that.  :)  (And Hector makes a pretty great "gift with purchase!" My guys are awesome.)

Growing ...
LOADS of vegetables.  Rob owns the empty lot adjacent to his home, and has filled it with raised garden beds!  You name it, we grew it this past summer!  We are looking forward to some rebuilds this fall, and hoping our perennial plantings (asparagus, rhubarb, blueberries, and strawberries) are more established and more productive next year!

Driving ...
A gunmetal gray 2006 Prius.  His name is Larry Car.  (We can thank my goddaughter for that one!)  Larry Car gave me a hard time right after I bought him, but he seems to be kickin' butt as of late.  Hard to argue with 45 mpg!

Watching ...
"Friends" on Netflix.  Vikings football.  (Ahem, Rob.)  Game of Thrones.  (Ahem, Rob again.)

Reading ...
I have been slooooooooowly poking my way through Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and Rising Strong by Brene Brown.

Knitting ...
A very large, very belated wedding gift for my friends Janelle and Curt.  It's still super-secret, as it's not done yet, but let's just say ... Rob has started referring to it as my Sistine Chapel.  It's a doozy!

Eating ...
ALL the vegetables.  See, "growing."

Drinking ...
Coffee.  Sparkling water.  (I heart my Soda Stream.)  Sips of Rob's craft beers.

Listening to ...
Radio Heartland.  I'm obsessed.  Roots, blues, bluegrass, folk, acoustic, Americana.  Awesome.

Planning ...
A very exciting blog project, launching January 2017!  Inspired by the garden and our desire to eat more healthfully these past few months, Rob and I will be launching "52 Weeks of Mason Jar Salads" beginning January 1, 2017!  We are deep into recipe development, planning, Trello, food styling, photography, and dish-washing, and can't wait until we can polish off a chunk of these posts and start to go live!  All of the recipes will have a vegetarian option, and many will have vegan and/or gluten-free options as well.

Looking forward to ...
Having some help promoting the new blog project!  Interested in joining our social media street team?  It won't be hard ... just follow FoodSnobMpls on Twitter, Facebook, and/or Instagram, (see the sidebar over yonder,) and like, comment, share, and re-tweet at your leisure!  Our main motivation behind this project is fun, (I love cooking and developing recipes; Rob loves styling food, taking pretty pictures, and general Photoshop wizardry,) but we would love it if some other people enjoyed this journey as well!  Help us get our work out there!

Back in a few weeks with the countdown to "52 Weeks of Mason Jar Salads!"

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Vegan Doughnut Muffins

Some of you may remember my post a while back about Muffin Monday -- I have been keeping up with my commitment to this weekly work "holiday," bringing in freshly-baked treats to the office nearly every Monday morning this past fall and winter.  I've decided, however, that Muffin Monday needs to take a hiatus for the spring and summer; what better way to celebrate the "season finale" of Muffin Monday, than with Vegan Doughnut Muffins!?

Have any of you discovered the doughnut muffin fad as of late?  I've seen more than a few recipes pop up here and there, and have noticed doughnut muffins on the menu at a few area cafes and coffee shops.  I began experimenting with doughnut muffins around the holidays, when I stumbled into a recipe for Eggnog Doughnut Muffins from The Kitchn, and am hooked!  Why go through all the trouble of frying up doughnuts, when you can bake up muffins that are just as good?  (And arguably, a titch healthier?)

I clearly eat my fair share of dairy and eggs; why vegan doughnut muffins, you ask?  Well, I recently learned one of my coworkers is vegan, and therefore, I have been harkening back to my vegan baking days so everyone can enjoy the treats I bring to share.  Thanks to King Arthur Flour, (my new favorite go-to source for any new-to-me baking recipe,) I had a grand recipe with which to start.  Veganizing these doughnut muffins seemed like a snap -- swap in some Ener-G for a couple of eggs, Earth Balance for butter, plant milk for whole milk, and ta-da!  Vegan Doughnut Muffins for the masses!

The recipe was relatively simple to prepare, used nearly all pantry staples, and is downright fabulous.  Moist, tender, subtly-spiced cakey muffins dunked in melted Earth Balance and cinnamon sugar ... I'm trying my darnedest to not eat the ENTIRE batch tonight!  I can't WAIT to bring these to work to share tomorrow morning!!

Vegan Doughnut Muffins
makes 12 to 15

2 2/3 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp Penzey's Cake Spice (or nutmeg, cinnamon, whatever warm spices you like)
1/4 c Earth Balance, softened
1/4 c canola oil
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/3 c brown sugar
1 tbsp Ener-G egg replacer whipped with 1/4 c warm water
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c light coconut milk (the kind that usually comes in a can -- not coconut milk beverage)
1/2 c unsweetened almond milk (either plain or vanilla)
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp melted Earth Balance

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place paper liners in muffin tins.
2. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spice in a medium bowl and whisk until well-combined.
3. Using an electric mixer, beat together the Earth Balance, oil, and sugars in a large bowl until creamed.  Beat in the prepared Ener-G and vanilla until smooth.
4. Combine the milks in a glass measuring cup or small bowl.
5. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the Earth Balance mixture, beating until smooth, then add half the milk, half the remaining flour, the rest of the milk, then the rest of the flour, beating until smooth after each addition.
6. Scoop dough into prepared muffin tins.  (I love using my #16 disher for this task!)  Bake until muffins are domed and spring back when gently pressed, 16 to 18 minutes.  (Muffins may not brown much ... that's ok.)  Transfer the muffins to a wire rack to cool slightly.
7. Combine the remaining sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Brush the tops of each muffin with the melted Earth Balance while still warm, then roll the tops of the muffins in cinnamon-sugar.  Enjoy the muffins while still warm, or cool completely before storing.


Au revoir, Muffin Monday ... until the fall!

Monday, April 20, 2015

springtime sandwich FTW!

Hey hey ... is it spring in your neck of the woods?  While we are expecting a chilly, damp week this week, there are definitely signs ... trees are budding, grass is greening, bulbs are beginning to peek up and open, flowers are blooming!  An early spring in Minnesota is always a welcome treat, as we frequently have cold temperatures (and sometimes snow!) well into the first week of May.  Hooray!

It's entirely possible that the most exciting part of spring, for me, is the return of local, fresh produce. While we still aren't getting much locally grown, (other than some downright glorious, dark-green, Hulk-sized spinach,) one can pick up a bunch or two of California asparagus and dream of delicious things to come, right?

THIS SANDWICH.  I forget where I originally got the idea for this sandwich, (maybe The Kitchn?), but I don't even care -- I don't really even like sandwiches all that much, and I can't get enough!  Crusty, toasted bread, asparagus, hard-cooked egg ... what's not to like?  I believe the original article suggested making this sandwich on a length of baguette, but I have been loving these mini-stirato that I have picked up from the co-op bakery ... they are just the right size and shape for hollowing-out, toasting, and stuffing full of springtime goodness.

P.S. This sandwich is yet another way for me to use up the vast quantity of pickled onions I canned last summer.  Springtime sandwich FTW!

Springtime Sandwich
serves 1

Crusty bread, hollowed out and toasted
Olive oil
Roasted asparagus
Sliced, hard-cooked egg
Pickled red onion

1. Assemble sandwich: spread one half of the toasted bread with mustard, drizzle the other half with olive oil.  Stuff full of delicious ingredients.  Squeeze on a little lemon.
2. Devour.

I hear this sandwich keeps well, but, really ... why would you want to wait to eat something so delicious?


How have you been enjoying spring produce?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

THE pita pizza

So ... I haven't blogged in 3 1/2 months.  Sorry!  I have no real, solid excuse ... just lots of little, mini-excuses.  :)  They are, but not limited to ...

I haven't been cooking much of anything terribly interesting for the past 3 1/2 months.

Really, I haven't been cooking much of anything.

My ancient Canon point-and-shoot is pretty much dead ... the iPhone does ok, but just ok.  :)

Until we sprung the clocks ahead a bit ago, it was usually dark at dinnertime.  (Thus ... crappy photos.)

I've been busy knitting.  (And hanging with friends.  And working.  And doing yoga.  And watching "New Girl."  And other stuff.)

You know, same old, same old.  :)

Forgive me?

I figured it was about time I tried to get back into this food blogging thing again, and what better way than to introduce you to a meal I have been obsessed with for, oh, the past eight months?

THE pita pizza.

Now, we all get in food ruts, right?  Meals we eat over and over and over and over and over and over again, (ahem, 2 - 5 times a week for eight months straight,) because they are simple, because they are mostly healthy, because they are economical, because we can eat them straight out of the pot/straight off the cutting board, because we LOVE them.  Right?  We try variations on our food rut, always to be slightly disappointed, and return to our original.  The favorite.  The bestest.

This is one of those meals at my house, people.  In a bad, bad way.

But if this pita pizza is bad, I don't wanna be good.  :)

THE Pita Pizza
serves: 1

1 whole-wheat pita
extra-virgin olive oil
shredded mozzarella
sliced pickled banana peppers (pepperoncini would also be excellent) - homemade if possible
sliced/diced pickled roasted red bell pepper - homemade if possible
sliced green olives
crumbled feta

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat.
2. Assemble pizza.
3. Bake, until the pita is crispy and the cheese is beginning to brown.
4. Allow pizza to rest for a few minutes before slicing and devouring.


So, what food ruts have you been in?  For how long?  I challenge you, food bloggers of the world -- post about your food ruts!  It's liberating.  ;)

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Hoppin' John

Happy New Year!  I can't tell you how much I was looking forward to wrapping up 2014 -- the past year was filled with incredible, unexpected stress, pain, loss, grief, transition, and finally healing for me, but still ... it really was a pretty long, difficult year.  Beginning at the end of November, all I felt like doing was fast-forwarding through the holidays and beginning anew.

(Don't get me wrong ... my year wasn't all bad.  I took trips to Seattle, Stillwater, Boston, and Duluth, attended a brilliant training for work that inspired me to take a very challenging professional development class this fall, enjoyed every crumb of the inaugural Twin Cities Donut Crawl, reconnected with some old friends and strengthened other friendships, made yoga a regular part of my self-care routine, pickled every vegetable in sight, started getting regular pedicures and flossing, lost 17 pounds, found a therapist, started "Muffin Mondays" at work, moved into an apartment that has ended up being a really good fit for my life right now, learned how to knit, watched all 9 seasons of both "How I Met Your  Mother" and "That 70s Show" (and had a lot of laughs, thanks to those well-written shows,) enjoyed many live theatre productions, and sang weekly with my church choir. There was plenty of good ... just coupled with whopper stress.)

So, here we are!  A fresh start, clean slate, blank page, new beginning.  I felt almost required to make a big pot of Hoppin' John today, as it is supposed to bring me a prosperous year filled with luck.  And after the year I've had, I figure, I can take all the luck I can get.

Hoppin' John is traditionally made with bacon or ham hock; while not necessarily vegetarian-friendly at first glance, it is basically a humble, nutritious, thrifty meal of beans and rice.  Swap out that bacon for some diced tomatoes and a canned chipotle chile in adobo, and there you have it.  A steaming bowl of vegetarian luck and prosperity -- and a healthy dose of protein, fiber, vitamins, and other nutrients, too!

Hoppin' John
serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil
1 c finely-chopped onion
1 c finely-chopped celery
1 c finely-chopped bell pepper (red, green, or a mix)
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp paprika (you could try smoked if you want extra smoky flavor ... I chose sweet today)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
1 15-ounce can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed (or 2 c cooked black-eyed peas)
3/4 c long-grain brown rice
2 c low-sodium vegetable broth
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes (or fire-roasted diced tomatoes, if you're feelin' fancy)

1. Heat the oil in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat, and add the onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic, thyme, oregano, paprika, salt, pepper, and bay leaf.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and the spices are lightly toasted.
2. Add the chipotle chile in adobo, black-eyed peas, rice, broth, and tomatoes to the pot.  Bring to a boil.
3. Lower the heat to a simmer, (use a heat diffuser if you have one,) cover the pot, and simmer for 1 hour.  If you have time, remove the pot from the heat and allow the rice to continue steaming for another 10 minutes or so.  Remove the chile and bay leaf.  Serve as-is, or with greens, or cornbread ... or both!

I had a client state during parenting group Tuesday evening that he is wishing for a "drama-free" 2015 ... and I couldn't help but concur.  :)  To a drama-free 2015!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Muffin Monday

I started a new "thing" at work.

It's called Muffin Monday.

Apple-Oatmeal Muffins
Simply, I bake muffins on Sunday afternoon, then bring them to work on Monday to share with my coworkers.

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins
I've received many thank-yous from folks, and even more comments about my generosity -- some people have been downright shocked that I would bake muffins and give them away every single week.

Pumpkin, Millet, and Chocolate Chip Muffins
But, I'll let you in on a little secret ...

Cranberry-Orange Muffins
I don't do it for them ... I do it for me.

Whole-Wheat Gingerbread Muffins
I LOVE TO BAKE.  Always have, for as long as I can remember.  One of my favorite childhood photos of myself was taken at about the age of three, standing at the kitchen counter, helping my dad knead bread.

Eggnog Doughnut Muffins
Baking is in my bones, people.  It's who I am.

Mini Cranberry Cakes
I love nothing more than to whip out the flour and eggs and sugar and mixing bowls on a Sunday afternoon, filling the apartment with delicious smells ... and enjoying delicious treats later.  I also love to try new recipes and new flavor combinations, and welcome any opportunity I have to experiment in the kitchen, whether it is by baking, cooking, or canning.  Wee!

Banana-Walnut Muffins
However, I alone cannot keep up with consuming the quantity of baked goods I love to produce.  So, that's where my coworkers come in.

Bran Cream Cheese Muffins
Thanks, all y'all, for helping me eat all of the muffins I've baked.  I'll keep it up, if you'll keep eating them!

Whole-Wheat Blueberry Muffins

So ... any favorite muffin recipes to share?  What should I make next week?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Eggnog Oatmeal

While I love a glass or two of eggnog around the holidays, I never can seem to get through a whole quart on my own.  (Why don't they sell eggnog in pints anyway?  It would make more sense for me, and also act as a single serving for others, I assume!)  I made eggnog doughnut muffins, sipped a couple of servings, and made a few eggnog lattes, but still had quite a bit left ... until I discovered eggnog oatmeal!  Rich, creamy, sweet, and subtly spiced, eggnog oatmeal makes a comforting, quick, nourishing breakfast during the busy holiday season.

Eggnog Oatmeal
serves 1

1/2 c full-fat eggnog
1/2 c water
pinch kosher salt
1/2 c rolled oats
dried cranberries and grated nutmeg, for serving

Combine the eggnog, water, and salt in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil.  Stir in the rolled oats, lower the heat, and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the oats are cooked and the oatmeal is thick, about 5 minutes.  Top with dried cranberries and grated nutmeg.

What are your favorite uses for leftover eggnog?