Friday Faves

IMG_2827

Adorable “around the world” calendar from Rifle Paper Co. – compliments of my Pop Sugar box

For my birthday back in November, my sister gave me a subscription to Pop Sugar, a monthly delivery of fun beauty products, home goods, accessories, treats, etc.  It can be hard to get through the gray, rainy winter months  in Seattle, so it’s been so much fun to receive a box full of surprises each month – the gift that keeps on giving!  And the “around the world” calendar is inspiring me to renew my passport and plan a trip!  Wishing you all a wonderful weekend – I’m off to Arizona and I cannot wait!  It’s not exactly international travel, but the forecast for Tucson is in the 80s, so this permanently cold Seattleite will take it.

photo

I’m obsessed with my new detox cleanser  (also from Pop Sugar) – I can literally feel it working

photo-2

Nothing better than curry when recovering from a cold (which I have been for the past week, wah wah)

photo-1

In love with this necklace – I’ve been meaning to make something similar since I first saw this blog post over a year ago, but these look just like them and they’re already made for me!

photo 1-6

Whole wheat chocolate chip “lactation” cookies

This recipe comes from a friend of a friend (who doesn’t know I’m posting it, but thank you Ellen all the same!).  I whipped up a double batch for a cousin and a girlfriend who both had babies last week, and after posting a photo on Instagram enough people asked me for the recipe that I thought I’d share it.  Note that these are worth making even if you aren’t a new mom (they’re safe for men and non-lactating women too!) – they’re essentially just extra healthy cookies with brewer’s yeast, which can aid in milk production but is also full of protein and B vitamins that we all need.  Since I could only find it in a large tub, I had lots of leftover yeast and thought I’d be extra healthy and put some in my smoothie in the morning…..let’s just say, it’s better in the cookies.

As you’ll see, this recipe is pretty flexible.  Makes 18-20 small cookies.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter (you could also use coconut oil)
1/2 cup brown sugar (a generous half cup)
1 tablespoon flaxseed meal, such as Bob’s Red Mill
1 heaping tablespoon brewer’s yeast
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup almond meal
1/2 cup oats (a generous half cup)
1/2 – 1 cup chocolate chips, or to taste
Raisins, dried cranberries, and/or nuts, optional and to taste

Melt the butter (or coconut oil) and let cool for a bit.  Mix the flaxseed meal in a small bowl with 3 tablespoons water and let sit for a few minutes until it gels. Mix melted butter and sugar together in a large bowl with a spoon or rubber spatula (these cookies work best when mixed by hand rather than with an electric mixer). Add flax/water mixture, brewer’s yeast, vanilla, baking soda, and salt; mix well.  Add in flour, almond meal, oats, chocolate chips, and other add-ins if using.  Mix until just combined.  Chill if you feel like it.  Bake tablespoon-sized cookies for 8-10 minutes at 390 degrees F (not a typo).

Advertisements

Sesame Soba Salad with Roasted Shiitakes and Tofu Croutons

photo 3-3

If you, like me, are a fan of cold, spicy noodle dishes, then this salad is for you.  It’s reminiscent of the Pasta and Co. Chinese Vermicelli salad I was obsessed with during college, only that salad has about three times the oil.  This version is lighter, but equally delicious.  I feel like soba noodles are healthy.  And if mushrooms or tofu are deal breakers for you, you can swap them for any other veggies and/or protein you like (although I hope that you won’t, as this is a Melissa Clark recipe and she really knows her stuff).

photo 1-3

photo 1-5

photo 2-3

If mushrooms aren’t your thing – and don’t get me wrong, they absolutely should be, but since I know that for a lot of people they are not – you could easily leave them out. The noodles are great on their own, and you could add in any crunchy vegetables that you like – I might add some julienned red bell peppers next time.  While I’m not usually a huge fan of tofu, it turns out it’s pretty good when deep fried with sesame oil and tamari.  But you could do this with grilled chicken (marinated in the aforementioned sesame oil and tamari, even), or sautéed shrimp or scallops (Melissa’s alternate suggestion).  Aside from the mushrooms and the tofu, the salad takes five minutes to throw together – you probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry already – and you can doctor it up any way you like. The soba noodles are delicious – and naturally gluten free (made from buckwheat), although you need to check the packaging to make sure.

photo 3-1

photo 4

photo 5

If you are a mushroom person, I will tell you that the extra step is worth it here – the roasted shiitakes are SO dang good. I made this the other day without them (only because I had everything but the mushrooms and was too lazy to go to the store) and I really missed the texture and meatiness they normally add.

photo 1-4

photo 2-4

photo 3-2

The vinaigrette is simply soy sauce, a little sesame oil, rice vinegar, orange juice, and freshly grated ginger – it’s so easy to put together, I wonder why I don’t do it for every meal. The cucumber is great for crunch, and I’m of the opinion that cilantro makes everything better.  Take an extra two minutes to toast your sesame seeds, and you have a gourmet, healthy, and delectable meal that’s almost too pretty to eat.

photo 4-1

photo 5-1

The one thing I would note about frying the tofu is that it makes a huge mess – I’ve finally learned my lesson and taken everything else off the stove so that the splatters are limited to the stove top – and I think the cleanup is worth it. You could also add the tofu plain, however, and save yourself the calories and the mess.

One year ago: white bean and kale soup

Melissa Clark, previously: coconut granola, banana bread, split pea soup, corned beef and cabbage, Irish soda bread, pan roasted halibut, carrot mac’n’cheese, kale salad.

Sesame Soba Salad with Roasted Shiitakes and Tofu Croutons, from Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now

Serves 4

For the Salad:
7-8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
2 tablespoons toasted (Asian) sesame oil, more to taste
3 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce, more to taste
Pinch kosher salt
1/2 (12.8 ounce) package soba noodles
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice (about half a small orange)
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon grated ginger root
1 medium cucumber, peeled
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon lightly toasted sesame seeds

For the Croutons (optional):
1/2 pound extra-firm tofu, drained and sliced into 3/4-inch slabs
1 tablespoon peanut or olive oil
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons toasted (Asian) sesame oil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Slice the mushroom caps into 1/4 inch strips. Toss the mushrooms with 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce, and a pinch of salt. Spread the mushrooms out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast, tossing occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender and slightly golden, 8-10 minutes.

2. Cook soba noodles according to package instructions. Drain and rinse quickly under cold running water; drain again completely.

3. In a bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 tablespoon sesame oil and 3 tablespoons soy sauce, the orange juice, vinegar, and ginger.

4. Cut the cucumber lengthwise into quarters and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Cut each quarter crosswise into thin slices.

5. To prepare the tofu croutons, pat the tofu slabs dry with a paper towel. Heat the oil in a nonstick pan. When it shimmers, add the tofu and let it cook undisturbed (stand away from the pan, as the oil will splatter) for 3 minutes. It should be golden brown on the bottom. Flip the tofu pieces and continue to cook for about 2 minutes longer, until the underside is golden. In a small bowl, whisk together the tamari or soy sauce and sesame oil. Pour it in the pan with the croutons and cook for 1 minute longer. Drain croutons on a paper towel-lined place.

6. In a large bowl, toss together the noodles, cucumber, mushrooms, scallions, cilantro, sesame seeds, and dressing. Serve topped with the tofu croutons, if desired. Drizzle the salad with more soy sauce and/or sesame oil just before serving if it needs perking up.

photo 2-5

Friday Faves, Valentine’s Day Edition

photo 2-2

photo 1-2

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends!  And happy first birthday to Blueberries and Basil, which celebrated the conclusion of it’s inaugural year this past week (remember my first post?)  Valentine’s Day is the best holiday for cookie decorating, I think – although I might think that about every holiday. I made these conversation hearts pre-blog two years ago (inspired by Cupcakes and Cashmere), and although my decorating skills have improved since then, I still have a long way to go. It just takes so much patience! I also really love the tiny pastel hearts and the cupcakes, inspired by this amazing cookie blog (which I discovered thanks to my friend Kristen).

photo 1-1

My favorite way to decorate for a holiday! Remembrance, Joy, and Baby with mixed tulips and ribbon accents (more Valentine’s colors here).

photo 2-1

photo 3

My godmother, a fellow Valentine’s Day lover, gave me these little bowls a few years ago – I love digging them out each year and filling them with my favorite Valentine’s candy. Similar here and here.  (Let’s not talk about how many candy hearts I’ve eaten in the past week.)

photo-1

I bought this little outfit for my first niece/nephew, who is due at the end of July. I’m trying not to shop too much before we know if it’s a boy or a girl, but this little gender neutral outfit was too cute to pass up (the hat says “HUGS” on the back!!). The hat is sold out online, but you can find the little onesie here (a more girly version here, more boyish here, all on sale!) – it’s probably too late for this year, but in case anyone else is planning ahead!

photo 2

My mom and I discovered this line of Parisian specialty teas at the Plaza Hotel when we were in NYC this past December. She loves the original Detox tea, but I’m obsessed with the “BB” version, which is a lighter, grapefruit-y version of the Detox and has added benefits for your skin. Like a tea version of a BB cream, get it? And so delicious.

photo 1

Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend and a festive Valentine’s day. Thanks for a year of loyal readership! It’s been such a fun year of blogging – and a great way for me to share some of my favorite recipes and document my weeks. If anyone has any suggestions of what they’d like to see more of, I’d love to hear them in the comments. XOXO!

Friday Faves

TGIF, everyone! It’s a week before Valentine’s Day, and I have yet to do or make anything fun and festive. This week was taken up by post-Superbowl celebrations, including the parade (of course).  We spent four glorious hours in the freezing cold to cheer on our Superbowl champs, and now I have the cold to prove it.  Hopefully I’ll have my act together in time for next Friday – I have two types of brownies and two types of cookies on my to do list, and I’m going to be at a bachelorette party all weekend, so wish me luck!

IMG_2619

Last year’s Valentines brownies and cookies.

‘Tis the season for gifting flowers.

Dying to try these Nutella cookies.

This website will make sending Valentine’s cards so much easier.

Great idea for a Valentine’s gift.

Love this lip crayon in Roman Holiday.

I just downloaded this book – can’t wait to read it.

And my favorite images of the week:

IMG_4620

Happy Friday, guys! Happy (early) Valentine’s Day, and Go Hawks!!

Coconut Tapioca Pudding with Mango

image

I realize tapioca pudding isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I’ve always loved it. We didn’t get a lot of sweets growing up, but my mom used to make tapioca pudding on occasion, so I associate it with a childhood treat the way that most people probably think of chocolate chip cookies. I hadn’t thought about it years, though, until I saw this recipe pop up on my favorite blog a few weeks ago. Coconut and mango are two weaknesses of mine,  and while I’d prefer to eat them (or drink them) on a beach in Hawaii, this is the perfect consolation prize while we’re stuck in the freezing cold continental U.S.

image

image

image

image

Tapioca pudding is easy to make, but it does require a bit of advance planning, as the tapioca needs to soak for 30 minutes before cooking and then the pudding needs to be chilled for at least a few hours. The actual cooking time, though, is only about 20 minutes.  I included an extra step (based on Deb’s suggestion and the directions on the bag of tapioca) and added egg whites – the recipe calls for one egg yolk, but you can save the white, whip it with a tiny bit of sugar, and then add it back into the pudding at the end in order to make the pudding a little lighter.  Just make sure to temper the egg white by spooning a bit of the hot pudding into the egg and mixing it up before adding the egg white mixture to the pudding.  Cook pudding for two minutes longer once the egg white is added. I loved the way the pudding turned out with the egg whites, but you could skip this step and just have a firmer, more jello-esque pudding.

image

image

image

I love the mango topping here, but you could use strawberry purée too (it would be good with lime juice or lemon, or just plain), or any fruit you like, really. It would also be just fine on its own. Toast your coconut, whip your cream, and you have a delicious tropical dessert that will make you feel like you’re in the islands (and it’s dairy-free!).

image

Coconut, previously: granola, cupcakes, cookies, soup

Mango, previously: salsa

Pudding, previously: chocolate

Coconut Tapioca Pudding with Mango, from Smitten Kitchen 

Serves Six (I doubled the recipe)

for the pudding: 
1/3 cup small pearl tapioca
2 1/2 cups coconut milk (I used light)
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg yolk (and white, optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

for the mango purée: 

1  ripe mango, peeled, pitted and roughly chopped
juice of one lime

optional garnishes:
whipped coconut cream
toasted coconut flakes
lime zest

make pudding: in a medium saucepan, soak tapioca in coconut milk for 30 minutes. Whisk in egg yolk, sugar, and salt.  Heat the mixture over medium heat until it comes to a simmer, then reduce heat to low so that the pudding is barely bubbling.  Cook until pudding thickens, about 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add vanilla extract.  Pour into pudding cups to chill for several hours or overnight.

make mango purée: purée mango with lime juice in a blender or food processor; add a little sugar to taste (optional, my mango was pretty sweet and I didn’t need any).  I did this step the night before and the purée was in good shape 24 hours later.

toast coconut: on a parchment-lined baking sheet or jelly roll pan for 5 minutes at 350 degrees F.  Stir halfway through so that the coconut browns evenly; watch closely so that it doesn’t burn.

whip coconut cream: put a can of full fat coconut milk in the fridge the night before you plan to make the cream.  Deb brilliantly suggests turning it upside down, so that when you then open the can from the top you can pour the water right out (the cream will rise to the “top” when chilled).  Beat the coconut cream as you would whipping cream, in a chilled metal bowl and with chilled beaters; add small amount of granulated sugar to taste.  (Note: I used light coconut milk and still got a good amount of cream after chilling it overnight; I’m sure full fat would be even more delicious but mine turned out pretty yummy).

to serve: top pudding with mango; garnish with coconut cream, toasted coconut, and/or lime zest.

image

Whole Grain Pear Hazelnut Muffins

image

image

This cookbook has been all over my favorite food blogs of late, so I ordered it despite the fact that my breakfast typically consists of a green smoothie (or a Starbucks bagel on the too-common occasion that I’m out of a green smoothie ingredient). So far I’ve made the whole grain pancake mix, the blueberry breakfast bars, and these muffins. I’ve given the pancake mix as birthday and hostess gifts, and it’s been a hit. I made the blueberry bars when I spent the night with my friend Kyle and her picky toddler year old last week – Ellie gobbled them up, but Kyle and I decided that, while delicious, they seemed more like dessert than breakfast.  Next on my list of recipes to try: Bacon and Kale Polenta Squares (hold the bacon), Strawberry Oat Breakfast Crisp (although I suspect it, like the blueberry bars, might also be better suited as dessert), and Zucchini Farro Cakes – YUM.  And of course variations of this granola.  These muffins, though, are a definite win – you can do them ahead of time, and they really do feel healthy – the perfect breakfast treat.

My grandfather passed away a few weeks ago, at the age of 94. He spent the last few days of his life in the hospital, which was not the way he would have wanted to go, but he received such wonderful care from the doctors and nurses that we were all glad he was there. I wanted to do something nice for the nursing staff as a thank you and had planned to bake these cookies, but my cousin Christina (a nurse herself) suggested bringing in something healthier, as nurses get a lot of cookies.  I had seen these muffins on a couple blogs, and this seemed like the perfect excuse to try them.

image

image

image

I love the idea of cooking with whole grains – especially oats – and the pears make the muffins incredibly moist and dense without being too heavy. Sara from Sprouted Kitchen suggests a way to make them gluten free; Deb from Smitten Kitchen suggests you add chocolate, which they definitely don’t need, but I would imagine would be delicious.   Point being, you can swap out ingredients or doctor them up any way you like. I loved the pears but you could definitely use apples too.

image

image

image

It looks like a lot of bowls (and it is), but it’s really only the dry ingredients and the wet, combined with my tendency to make a mess in the kitchen and dirty more bowls than necessary. Deb includes suggestions to “streamline the recipe” (use fewer bowls) for anyone that doesn’t have the luxury of a dishwasher.

image

You could chop the nuts in a food processor, but I was worried they would get ground up too finely so I used a ziplock bag and my go-to crushing utensil, a bottle of wine. I also ate a lot of hazelnuts in the process, yum.

image

image

Pear-Hazelnut Oat Muffins, from Whole Grain Mornings by Megan Gordon (she’s a Seattle gal so I’m extra happy to support her!)

Makes 12 standard muffins (and maybe a few more)

3/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2-3 firm medium pears, such as Bartlett (you want them firm so they don’t get too mushy when you grate them)
2/3 cup natural cane sugar, such as turbinado
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan (I’m going to try coconut oil next time)
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, cooled, and coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Butter a standard 12-cup muffin tin, or line with papers.

In a bowl, combine the oats, flours, baking soda, baking powder, cardamom, nutmeg, and salt. Mix well and set aside.

Peel and core the pears, then grate them into a bowl using the large holes of a box grater (or the grater attachment of your food processor). You should end up with about 1 cup of shredded pear [Note: I doubled the recipe so grated four pears, and ended up with about four cups of grated pear, unpacked – I dumped them all into my batter and the muffins turned out fine. Just in case you were worried about ending up with too much grated pear].

Put the sugar in a large bowl. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Add the butter to the sugar and stir until well combined. Whisk in the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, and pear until you have what resembles a loose batter. Add the flour mixture and fold it in gently. Reserve 1/2 cup of the hazelnuts to sprinkle on top of the muffins; stir the other 1/2 cup into the batter. Be careful not to overmix.

Fill the muffin cups almost to the top with batter, and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup hazelnuts. Put the muffins in the oven and immediately decrease the heat to 375 F. Bake until the tops are golden brown and feel firm to the touch, even in the center, 25-27 minutes (they might look done before they really are – the tops will brown before the fruit-filled centers are cooked through).

Let the muffins cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pan. Muffins will keep in an airtight container for up to two days; they also freeze well.

All wrapped up for Grandpa's nurses, along with boxes of See's chocolates, his favorite

All wrapped up for Grandpa’s nurses, along with boxes of See’s chocolates – his favorite