Archive for ‘The Food’

July 31, 2013

Calling all coffee-lovers!

Hi friends!  As many of you know, Adam & I are leading a team of 10 from our church, Movement NYC, to Ethiopia this October.  In an effort to supplement our fundraising efforts, we’ve set up an online store from with Just Love Coffee Roasters.  They offer several varieties and blends of coffee, as well as samplers, t-shirts and travel mugs.  A portion of all purchases made from our storefront will go towards offsetting our trip costs!

If you love coffee as much as I do (or even half, or a quarter, as much as I do… because my love for coffee is borderline idolatrous…), please consider making a purchase from our online store!

Movement NYC – Ethiopia 2013 – Just Love Coffee Roasters

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July 29, 2013

Culinary triumph.

It’s been a long while since I’ve posted anything food/recipe-related on this blog.  But, you guys… this one can’t be overlooked.  I need to share it with you.

I’ve always enjoyed cooking, usually “winging it” and throwing something quick and easy together.  Nothing too complicated, typically.  Often times if I follow any sort of recipe, it’s someone else’s.  I always wondered how people came up with recipes.  I still wonder that for the most part, but the other night I experienced a culinary triumph.  I came up with an idea in my head, and executed it that night for dinner.  I almost did a victory lap around my kitchen (which is nearly impossible in an NYC apartment, but that’s a story for another time.)

So here it is, folks.  My very first Brittany Robles original recipe.

skilletmac

Skillet Sausage Veggie Mac & Cheese*
Serves 2 (very hearty portions)

1 1/2 cups cooked pasted (I used gemelli)
1 tsp olive oil
1 medium to large zucchini, chopped
1/2 cup diced onion (I used vidalia)
2 links Applegate Farms Sweet Italian Chicken & Turkey Sausage, chopped (I cut it lengthwise into quarters, then slice)
1 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tbsp (approx.) all purpose flour
2/3 cup 2% milk
2 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
Dash cayenne pepper

Heat olive oil in a large skillet.  Add zucchini and onion to the skillet until almost fork-tender, then add the chopped sausage.  Cook for 2-3 minutes.  Remove the veggie and sausage mixture and set aside.

Using a paper towel or clean dishcloth, wipe the skillet out (doesn’t have to be spotless, but just try to remove any excess liquid/oil).  Over medium heat, melt the tbsp of butter and add the flour, whisking continually (this is making a roux).  Once the roux is smooth and thick and is just turning color (it will start to brown), add the milk and keep on whisking!  You want the milk to combine with the roux and thicken.  This shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes in my experience.

Once the milk mixture is thick, throw in the shredded cheddar cheese, mixing to combine/melt.  At this point, add the salt, pepper, mustard powder and cayenne pepper.  Give the cheese sauce a taste and adjust the spices to your taste.

Turn the stove to low.  Add the cooked pasta, veggies and sausage to the cheese sauce, mixing well to combine.  Cover the skillet and let heat for a few minutes.  Remove the cover and give everything one final stir.  Dinner is served!

*This recipe is husband approved.  In fact, I made it again the next night.

February 12, 2011

Microwave some dessert!

Here I sit on a Saturday night in Queens, craving something chocolatey and delicious.  I’m not quite in the mood to make a full batch, nor do I want a pan of brownies or a few dozen cookies calling my name.  (You know how that goes… willpower out the window in a flash, am I right?) I’ve been hearing lots of buzz about “mug” desserts lately.  My roommate has an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe she makes quite a bit.  Anyway, I consulted my good friend Google and found a recipe for a mug brownie that sounded SO easy, so I went for it.


(I know, this photo doesn’t make it look appealing… I took it on my Blackberry and it does it no justice.  I’m not even sure why I posted it.  Please don’t let this deter you from making this. Really.)

Brownie-in-a-Mug

(I found the recipe here and used the alternate version towards the end of the post)

4 tbsp flour
4 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup chocolate chips (I used 2 tbsp)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp water
1/4 tsp vanilla

Combine all of the ingredients in a large, microwave-safe mug, making sure there are no lumps.
Microwave for 1-2 minutes (depending on your microwave–I cooked mine for 1 minute and 30 seconds.)  Let cool and enjoy!

Now let’s pause for a moment.  In my mind, a single serving brownie in a mug sounded like the wise choice for someone trying to lose weight.  Again, no full pan of brownies calling my name.  Just one harmless brownie, right?… Wrong.  I’m sorry.  I want to tell you this is a great option for those trying to be healthier… however, when I plugged this into the Weight Watchers points calculator, I nearly had a heart attack.

17 points.  Yep, you heard me correctly.  SEVENTEEN! (WHAT?!)  To put this into perspective, I’m allowed 31 points per day.  Thus 17 points is more than half of my daily allowance.  Oy vay.  Good news is, I get an extra 49 points to use throughout the week wherever I choose.

Having gotten that out of the way, however, this brownie was ridiculous.  It was so incredibly easy and yummy and decadent and ABSOLUTELY fulfilled my chocolate craving.  While this won’t be something I treat myself to daily, it’s definitely worth a splurge every now and then.  (I also think I could handle halving the recipe as the serving was pretty large.)

Try this the next time you need a chocolate fix.  And just don’t think about the calories!

January 29, 2011

Mocha Faux-Shake

Sometimes you’ve got a craving and you don’t quite have the ingredients on hand to fulfill it.  So, what do you do?

You improvise!

I really wanted a chocolate milkshake.  Then I thought… a chocolate coffee milkshake.  Unfortunately, I have no ice cream in the apartment due to my healthy eating kick (yep, that’s still happening!)  I had to get creative.  It won’t win any awards, but at least it satisfied a craving.

Mocha Faux-Shake

1/2 cup nonfat milk
1/2 fat free half & half
2 tbsp chocolate syrup
1 tsp of instant coffee granules (I used decaf)
6 ice cubes (more or less depending on desired consistency)

Blend all of the above until smooth.  Enjoy!

August 30, 2010

Not the D-word?!

Yes, the “D-word”… Diet.

The past few weeks I’ve been trying to eat healthier, more balanced meals.  I also failed to update this blog… at all.

+10 points for healthy eating
-10 points for lack of blogging

At least I’m still on a level playing field, right?

In light of my re-discovered healthy eating, I’m posting a recipe that is both delicious and nutritious, not to mention FILLING.  I know it sounds super cliché, but eating healthy really doesn’t have to be boring and tasteless.  I need to be reminded of this often, otherwise it’s easy to get bored and discouraged.  For me, part of it is learning to “fake” the good stuff.  This recipe is a perfect example of that.  I came up with it on my own, just by getting creative with what I had on hand one night.

Chicken Veggie Spaghetti in Parmesan “Cream” Sauce

1 generous serving (but can easily be doubled, tripled, quadrupled, etc!)

1 Perdue Perfect Portions Italian Chicken Breast, cubed
1 1/2 cups raw broccoli florets
2oz dry whole wheat spaghetti (approx 1 cup cooked)
1/2 cup (approx) fat free chicken broth
1/4 cup (approx) pasta water
1 tbsp half and half
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

1.  Boil water with a touch of salt and cook spaghetti until al dente.  While the spaghetti cooks, spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and saute chicken over medium-high heat until cooked through.  Remove chicken from pan.

2. Use chicken broth to “unstick” seasonings from the pan and add broccoli florets.  Cover and allow the broccoli to steam until fork tender.  Add chicken broth as necessary to prevent sticking.

3. Add chicken to the cooked broccoli along with the cooked pasta.  Add chicken broth, pasta water, half and half and parmesan cheese.  Mix everything together in the pan as it continues to cook over medium heat.  The “sauce” will thicken slightly.  Remove from heat after about 5 minutes.  Let sit for another 1-2 minutes as sauce continues to thicken.  Mix thoroughly to coat, and serve!

I’ve also used this recipe with sliced baby portabella mushrooms and sweet vidalia onions (which was SO tasty).  Feel free to use plain or home-seasoned chicken as well, I just really love the flavors in the Perdue Perfect Portions (not to mention how easy and convenient they are).  Get creative with this and ENJOY it!

July 22, 2010

An oldie but an ohhhh so goodie.

I know… another dessert?  I promise you I’ll bring some variety in soon enough.  I’m starting a list tonight of all the recipes I want to blog about for you lovely people.  And lovely you are.

Let’s talk for a moment about chocolate chip cookies.  Let’s discuss the fact that something about a fresh baked cookie transports us back to a simpler time in our young lives.  A time when helping mom bake meant licking the spatula.  A time when homework didn’t exist, school consisted of field trips and arts and crafts, and our biggest concern was picking up our toys.  Let me tell you, there’s nothing like a homemade chocolate chip cookie.

However, when time is a rare commodity, there’s something that comes awfully close: the Tollhouse Cookie Bar.  Please, hold the applause.

Lately I’ve been having a sort of kitchen love affair, if you would, with bars.  Raspberry bars, blueberry crumb bars (post to come!) and the oh-so-simple but oh-so-good cookie bar.  It’s a time saver more than anything, and so easy to cut up into individual pieces to serve up at Bible study!  Next time you really want chocolate chip cookies but can’t bother with spooning out individual cookie-sized drops on a cookie sheet, make these instead.  Especially if you’re like me and own only one cookie sheet, this can save you some time and energy.

Original Nestle® Toll House® Chocolate Chip Pan Cookie

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 (12 ounce) package NESTLE® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 10×15 jelly roll pan. (I used a 9×13 pan)
  2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.
  3. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Gradually beat in flour mixture.
  6. Stir in chocolate chips.
  7. Spread into greased pan.
  8. BAKE for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown. Cool in pan on a wire rack, then cut into bars.

July 17, 2010

Berry, berry good!

It’s summertime, and something about summer just makes me crave all things FRUIT!

I’m a huge fan of watermelon and berries, but also find them to be some of the hardest to find perfectly ripe.  For instance, once blueberries lose their firmness, I refuse to eat them as is.  I know, I’m a spoiled brat.  Being that I can’t possibly eat 2 pints of blueberries before at least some of them soften (they’ve been 2 for $5 on my dear, sweet Fresh Direct), I’ve been looking for new outlets for my fruit.  Both the fruit that is overripe and the fruit that’s a bit bruised and just doesn’t look pretty.

One of the perfect options is, of course, fruit smoothies.  Not only are they delicious, but they’re easy to make, versatile and are a healthy option (when I say healthy I’m assuming they’re made fresh at home.  I can’t vouch for the ones you buy at smoothie bars.  In fact, some of those ones are surprisingly terrible for you.  Proceed with caution!)

I’m giving you this “recipe” as more of a guideline than anything else.  Feel free to use the fruit of your choice and switch it up and have fun with it!

Berry Banana Smoothie

1/2 medium frozen banana
1 cup strawberries, halved
1 cup blueberries, frozen
1 4oz yogurt (I used Activia Light Strawberry)
Ice cubes (use as many as you need to reach desired consistency)

Put all of the above in a blender and blend until smooth.  The above yields about 2 servings.

—————

Next on the list is… Blueberry pancakes!  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love breakfast food.  I’m particularly fond of pancakes.  I used to always buy the complete mixes that required you to only add water.  I still do that on occasion when I’m feeling a bit lazy or don’t have all the necessary ingredients for pancakes from scratch.  However, when I’ve got the time, engery and ingredients, nothing beats homemade pancakes.

Homemade Fluffy (and might I add, delicious) Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes
(Adapted from Fluffy Pancakes recipe at AllRecipes.com)

3/4 cup milk
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking sode
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
2 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup fresh blueberries

  1. Combine milk with vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to “sour”.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk egg and butter into “soured” milk. Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and whisk until lumps are gone. Stir in fresh blueberries.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat with cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the skillet, and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side.

—————

Now, if you’ve managed to stick around this long, you’re in for a real treat.  Every Tuesday night I have bible study, and I always either bake or buy cookies for refreshments.  This past week I wanted to try something new, and since I’ve been on a fruit kick as of late, I decided I’d try raspberry bars.  I have to tell you, this was one of the easiest recipes to make and yet it got one of the biggest reactions.  I had a few people offer to pay me their entire salaries if I would just cook and bake for them every day.  I think I’ve got them fooled into thinking that this baking stuff is pretty hard work, but I’m telling you, it was easy as pie! (Ahem, pun intended.)

Raspberry Bars
Recipe from Sewfordough on Tasty Kitchen

Now I ran into a bit of a snag when I made this.  I have a problem with reading directions thoroughly sometimes.  It’s something I need to work on.  I had a 9×13 pan on hand.  Well, the recipe called for a 9×9 pan.  This meant that the dough I needed to press into the bottom of the pan was not going to cut it.  What I ended up doing (since I didn’t have a smaller pan, nor did I have the ingredients to make more dough) was reserving only a half cup of dough for the topping and adding more chopped pecans to it to make a little go a long way.  These ended up tasting just as good as they would have with the correct pan size!  The more time I’m in the kitchen the more I’m learning: you’ve gotta learn to improvise!  Thankfully this was an easy error to work around.

For those of you troopers who made it to the end of this post, what are your favorite fruit-based recipes?

July 11, 2010

Audience Participation

Question: What’s your favorite recipe?

It can be new, old, weird, traditional, whatever!  It came be something you just saw on the Food Network or something passed down for generations in your family.  It can be your all-time favorite or just your pick of the week.  Whatever it is, post it as a comment!  I’m always looking for new ideas and would love to blog about your favorites.

July 11, 2010

Sweet and Salty

It seems like every day someone’s come up with a new pairing for chocolate.  Lately I’ve been hearing a lot about the chocolate/bacon combination.  I’ve yet to try it (and, admittedly, it freaks me out a bit) but I’m guessing it’s delicious because of the combination: sweet and salty.

I looooove that combination.  Who doesn’t love a good chocolate covered pretzel?  There’s a mexican restaurant back home that serves this mudslide pie that I absolutely adore.  It has a pretzel crust!  It’s something I probably wouldn’t have thought of on my own, and for years after I first tried it I’ve been saying I’ll try making it myself.  Well, that day finally came due to nothing more than boredom.  And maybe the desire for a cold, sweet (and salty!) treat.

In order to keep things super simple, I decided to make the crust and then simply fill it with vanilla ice cream.  Then I got ambitious and melted up some chocolate chips and some peanut butter to make a drizzly topping.  This recipe is totally flexible and you could really use any kind of ice cream and any toppings you fancy.  Yep, I said it: fancy.

Next time I make it I’d also like to try to spread melted chocolate on top of the pretzel crust and let it harden before putting the ice cream in.  Then you’d have a layer of the pretzel crust, a thin layer of chocolate, and a layer of ice cream.  Doesn’t that sound delightful?  I think so, too.

Disclaimer: This sounded so darn good that I got impatient.  I didn’t let the crust cool before putting the ice cream in it and well… I’ve been waiting for the ice cream to reset for HOURS now.  Don’t be like me, folks.  Stick the pie pan in the freezer for at least a half hour and let it cool.  Otherwise, you’ll think you’re going to be able to eat it sooner and the opposite happens.  Ice cream melts must faster than it freezes, I’ve learned. Sigh….

Brittany’s Sweet & Salty Ice Cream Pie

For the crust:
2 cups of crushed pretzels
1/2 cup of butter, softened (you may need a bit more)
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
Thoroughly mix the above ingredients and press into a 9-inch pie pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. LET COOL. (Please, please, please don’t be a doofus like me.)

For the filling/topping:
1 quart of your preferred flavor of ice cream, softened
1/4 cup of melted chocolate chips, drizzled on top (optional)
1/4 cup of melted peanut butter, drizzles on top (optional)
Suggested topping ideas: chopped nuts, sprinkles, caramel sauce, fruit (sliced strawberries, bananas, etc.)

Once pie crust has cooled, spread ice cream evenly on top and add desired toppings.  Put back in the freezer to set.

July 11, 2010

Morning treat!

I love Starbucks.  I love lattes, macchiatos and frappuccinos.  They are delicious, indeed.  They’re also budget UNfriendly.

My morning coffee is like a security blanket.  I have to have it or my whole day is thrown off. YaknowwhatImean?  Typically I just have my french roast coffee with a little bit of half & half and splenda but last week I was at the supermarket and something caught my eye: Bailey’s coffee creamer.  They basically took everything delicious about Bailey’s and removed the alcohol.  Count me in!  I picked up the caramel flavor and went on my merry way.

This morning I made my coffee in the french press, put some milk in my coffee mug and warmed it in the microwave, threw in 1 tbsp of my new coffee creamer and 1 packet of Equal and filled the rest of the mug with the coffee.  It was just sweet enough and crazy delicious.  Definitely less expensive than Starbucks, maybe not as fancy, but still just as good.  Try it some time!

Caramel Cafe Au Lait
1/4 cup of milk, warmed (I used 1% milk)
1 tbsp of Bailey’s caramel creamer (use any flavored creamer of your choice!)
1 cup of fresh brewed coffee
Sugar or sugar substitute to reach desired sweetness

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