Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Carrot Cake for Breakfast

Today I'm a very happy camper. And when I say that I mean VERY happy. I was featured in BostInno's "8 Student Blogs That Are Better Than Yours" today. I don't mean to brag--because let's face it, there are still a ton of blogs that are better than mine--but I'm excited to be noticed. 

When I first started this blog I didn't realize the dedication and passion it takes. But that is also the thing that makes it so enjoyable. Whenever I feel blue or bored, I can step into my kitchen and cook something, photograph it and blog about it. Not only do I get to share my love for food, I also get to eat--a lot! Nevertheless, blogging takes time; and unfortunately, sometimes the effort goes unnoticed. Because of this, I have to admit more than once I have been discouraged; more than once I have questioned my blog. But in the end I don't really care if I'm the only one who reads it (even though I know of some very appreciated fans out there) because if nothing else, it's a journal of sorts. I know that when I look back on this I will be grateful for it. I already am.

Anyways, a few days ago I had carrot cake muffins for breakfast. They were delicious and they hit the spot! Needless to say my sweet tooth was contently satisfied. Plus, I'll take any excuse to eat carrot cake--at any time. 

The recipe is really simple and it can be adapted to make as many servings as you want. I only did one, because I was baking for myself, but double, triple or quadruple it accordingly. Enjoy!

Carrot Cake Muffins (adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie)
Active time: 5 minutes. Total time: 20 minutes.
Makes two muffins
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon egg whites
  • 2 packets Stevia (or 2 tablespoons sugar)
  • 1/3 cup carrots, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces and steamed until very soft.
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk (or other milk)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line two cupcake-spots in a regular cupcake tin.
  2. Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. 
  3. In a separate medium bowl, mash carrots using a fork until pureed. Add other wet ingredients and stir until incorporated. Add dry ingredients to the wet and mix well. 
  4. Pour batter into prepared baking dish and bake for about 15 minutes. Let cool and ice with light cream cheese frosting (recipe follows)

Light Cream Cheese
Active time: 5 minutes. Total time: 5 minutes.
Makes enough for two muffins.
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 1 packet Stevia or Splenda
  • 1 teaspoon milk
  1. Beat ingredients together until light and fluffy. Spread over cooled cupcakes.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Mushrooms, mushrooms and more mushrooms!

Let's talk about my obsession with mushrooms. It is absolutely ridiculous. But really though, I eat mushrooms raw, cooked, on salads, in pasta, even straight out of the package. Yes, literally out of the package. I could eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner if only I had enough space in my fridge to keep an endless amount. Call me crazy, but mushrooms are absolutely delicious!

My obsession started last year--Thanksgiving break to be exact--when due to a lack of carrots to dip in mustard (one of my all time favorite snacks), I eyed a pack of sliced baby bella mushrooms and decided to  give them a go. Turns out sliced mushrooms are great dipped in Dijon mustard. So great that I sometimes go through one package a day. No big deal right? They're healthy, so it's all good.

Anyways, the other day (more like two weeks ago) I was flipping through the Skinny Bitch cookbook I bought and I came across a mushroom and asparagus risotto. And then it suddenly hit me, it was the ultimate mushroom recipe. It asked for dried mushrooms, fresh mushrooms and truffle oil; it was mushroom heaven.

So I decided to try it and let me tell you, I was blown away. And so were my roommates--even the one that "doesn't like mushrooms". If you like mushrooms, try this recipe. It is time consuming and tedious, but in the end it pays off. The flavors mix deliciously and the risotto is creamy (even though it has no cream) and delectable. Enjoy!

Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto (adapted from Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook)
Active time: 1 hour. Total time: 1 hour and 20 mins.
Makes 6 servings

  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup dried Porcini mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/4 cup butter (or Earth Balance)
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mushrooms (I used porcini)
  • 1 1/2 cups asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 shallots, minced
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon white truffle oil (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped chives, for garnish
  • Salt and pepper
  1. In a large saucepan, heat vegetable broth over low heat. Cover and keep warm. In a small bowl place hot water and add dried mushrooms; allow to sit for about 20 minutes or until mushrooms are soft. Add mushrooms and water to vegetable broth.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon canola oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large saute pan (or wok) over medium-high heat. Add fresh mushrooms and asparagus and cook, stirring occasionally until lightly browned. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer vegetables to a separate bowl and set aside. 
  3. Using the same pan, heat remaining oil over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until soft. Add the rest of the butter and stir until melted. Saute for 1 more minute.
  4. Add rice and stir until well combined. Add wine and stir until absorbed. 
  5. Add 1 cup of the warm broth to rice mix and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until almost absorbed. Continue adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently and making sure each addition is absorbed before adding the next. Continue adding all the broth until rice is creamy and soft, about 40 minutes. 
  6. Stir sauteed vegetables and cheese into rice and season with salt and pepper. Add truffle oil and mix until well incorporated. Garnish with chives and serve.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Fresh New Cookbook and a Salad

So I bought a new cookbook online. Not a surprise; two of my obsessions (cookbooks and online shopping) combined into one.

But in my defense, I plan on using this cookbook a lot. I know I say that--at least to myself--about every new cookbook, but I mean it this time. When I was flipping through it, I kept licking my lips wishing each of the dishes would magically appear on my dinner table. Ha ha. 

Anyways, I'm starting the recipes with a carrot and parsnip salad. Roasted vegetables, crisp arugula, fresh mixed greens and spicy cumin, all in one dish--yum. Enjoy!

Roasted Carrot & Parsnip Salad (adapted from Skinny Bitch)
Active time: 20 minutes. Total time: 35 minutes. 
Makes 4 servings.
  • 180 gr. carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch strips
  • 200 gr. parsnips, peeled and cut into 2-inch strips
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  •  1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 small shallot, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon miso paste
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 2 cups mixed greens
  1. Preheat oven to 375F. 
  2. Toss carrots and parsnips in large mixing bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange on a rimmed baking sheet and cook until soft, about 20 minutes. 
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine remaining oil, cumin, vinegar, shallot, mustard and miso paste; stir until incorporated. 
  4. Remove vegetables from the oven and place in large mixing bowl. Add vinaigrette and toss until coated. Add arugula and mixed greens and toss more. Season with salt and pepper and serve. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Cookies for Breakfast?

Aaaaaaand breathe! The semester is finally over. Another 13 weeks of classes have come and gone--very quickly I might say--and the lazy days of summer are looming in the horizon. I should be ecstatic right?

Well wrong. I have mixed feelings.

Here is the thing. I'm a very active person. I'm not the type to be lying in my bed watching tv all day long; I'm not the type that can will wake up at noon and start the day at 3 p.m.; and I'm certainly not the the type that just sits still. Now all of this is almost irrelevant during the semester because the free time that I do have goes by pretty fast. But now that I have all day everyday free, I'm bored.

It's only been four days and I'm quickly running out of ideas. I've already cleaned my room, I've organized my closet and I've laid on the roof enjoying the sun. Oh and I've been going to the gym. A lot.

Anyways, here is a quick cookie recipe that yields soft and delicious oatmeal raisin delights with a hint of peanut butter. Great as a snack or as dessert for any meal--yes, even for breakfast.

Oatmeal-Raisin Peanut Butter Bites (adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie)
Active time: 5 minutes. Total time: 20 minutes.
Makes 10 small cookies.

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat peanut butter
  • 2 packets instant plain oatmeal
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 packet Stevia (or 1 tablespoon sugar)
  • Pinch of salt
    1. 3 tablespoons raisins
    1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
    2. In a small bowl combine apple sauce and peanut butter; mix well. Add oatmeal, cinnamon, vanilla, Stevia and salt and mix until dough forms. Stir in raisins and mix until incorporated. 
    3. Form 1-inch balls and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake cookies for 14 minutes; remove from oven and let cool.

    Monday, May 7, 2012

    Open Faced Breakfast Sandwich

    The sun came out today. Finally!

    But I think it's going rogue tomorrow again. It's staying hidden until Thursday, which means I need to prepare for a couple of gloomy days--my worst nightmare. There's one thing of the top of my mind that would makes the week better: food.

    Considering I have two finals left and many clouds to shoo away, I am going to need fuel. The question is what should I do? Tasty snacks, yummy meals or decadent desserts? How about all of the above.

    Let me start with today's breakfast. It was fresh and colorful; a healthy and filling egg-white sandwich. Plus, it's easy to make and the perfect base for different combinations. Enjoy!

    Open Faced Egg-White Sandwich
    Makes 2 sandwiches.
    Active time: 10 minutes. Total time 15 minutes.

    • 1 teaspoon olive oil
    • 1/4 cup orange bell pepper, chopped
    • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
    • 3 large egg whites
    • 2 pieces rye or whole wheat bread
    • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
    • 1 tomato, sliced
    • 1/2 cup arugula
    • Salt and pepper.
    1. In a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add pepper and onion and cook for about 1 minute. Add egg whites and cook, stirring, until fully cooked, about 3-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.
    2. Meanwhile, toast bread until crispy. 
    3. Spread 1 teaspoon mustard on each piece of toast. Arrange three tomato slices over mustard and top with egg mixture. Add arugula on top and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper. Serve warm.

    Sunday, May 6, 2012


    Raise your hand if you hate Sunday nights.

    Yup, my hand is close to the ceiling; my arm is shooting straight up. I hate Sunday nights. Part of it is for the simple reason that the weekend is over and work usually looms in the horizon (at least during the school year), but another part of why I hate this night is because I always have a fight with my pillow.

    Throughout the day I'm usually tired. I can't wait to crawl into bed as early as possible. But come Sunday night I'm lying in bed, eyes wide open and mind thinking working at full speed. And then it just becomes a full-on battle with my pillow: I turn it over more than fifty times until I finally give up and throw it to the side. Then I start fighting with my covers. It's a mess and in the end I'm sprawled face up staring at the green light from the smoke detector of my ceiling.

    So yeah, that's another reason why I hate Sunday nights. But then again, it's almost summer, which means that soon Sunday night should feel just like any other night. 

    Anyways I decided to make cupcakes again yesterday. Why? Because I didn't want to study for my exams and I was planning a Cinco de Mayo gathering. My mini-party didn't really go as planned but the cupcakes came out great. 

    They're margarita cupcakes, but honestly they taste like a tangier version of key lime pie. Both the cake and the frosting have tequila, but it's just the right amount. They have just a slight trace of it and it makes the other flavors (lime, lime, lime) pop. Enjoy!

    Margarita Cupcakes (adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)
    Active time: 25 minutes. Total time: 50 minutes + cooling
    Makes 16 cupcakes

    • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
    • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 2 eggs, at room temperature
    • Zest and juice of 1½ limes
    • 4 tablespoons tequila
    • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
    • ½ cup buttermilk
    1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Line two cupcake tins with 16 liners (I used one 12-cup and one 6-cup, but otherwise distribute evenly) and set aside.
    2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. 
    3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light anf fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each
    4. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add lime zest, juice, 2 tablespoons tequila and vanilla extract.  Beat on low speed until combined. Mixture might look curdles, but it's normal. Add dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk in two batches. Mix until incorporated.
    5. Divide batter among prepared baking tins. Bake cupcakes for about 25 minutes or until slightly golden and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer tins to cooling rack and allow cupcakes to cool for 10 minutes. 
    6. Transfer cupcakes to rack. Brush cupcake tops with remaining tequila and allow to cool completely before frosting.

    Tequila-Lime Frsoting (adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)
    Active time: 10 minutes. Total time: 15 minutes.
    Makes enough for 16 cupcakes.
    • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 2¾ cups powdered sugar
    • 1 tablespoon lime juice
    • 2 tablespoons tequila
    • Pinch of coarse salt

    1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip butter on medium-high speed for about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low and gradually add powdered sugar, mixing until well incorporated. Mix on medium speed for 30 more seconds.
    2. Add lime juice, tequila and salt and mix on medium-high speed until fluffy. If frosting is too soft, add additional sugar, one spoonful at a time. Frost cupcakes and garnish with lime zest and sprinkles.

    Friday, May 4, 2012

    Three years and a cookie

    So here is what's happening in my life: my junior-year classes are finished and I still have not gotten accustomed to my semester. How is that even possible? Well, when time flies, that is what happens.

    I cannot believe that almost three years ago I moved to Boston. I was a shy high-school graduate looking for a new life; a quiet teenager trying to manage in a pool of four thousand other freshmen. Yeah, the girl who asked everybody she met for their phone number in a desperate attempt to make connections, that was me.

    Fast forward a couple of months and I suddenly started developing real friendships. I befriended my future roommate in November (I think) and my current group of friends after that. Then came second semester and my life changed a lot. I went from going to bars and clubs to partying in my friends' dorm rooms. Don't get me wrong, it was lots of fun, but it was a big change.

    Sophomore year I moved off-campus and thought of myself as an independent adult. Ha ha. Anyways, now it's the end of junior year and I've been blogging for more than a year. Who would've thought.

    In the spirit of nostalgia I decided to try a modern take on a childhood favorite: PB & J cookies. They actually taste like the sandwich, but sweeter and cuter. They are also more complicated than spreading some peanut butter on toast and topping it with jelly, but they are worth the work.

    PB & J Cookies (adapted from Sweet & Skinny)

    • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 2/3 cup reduced-fat smooth peanut butter
    • 2 tablespoons reduced-fat cream cheese
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
    • 1/2 cup granulated Splenda or sugar
    • 3 tablespoons liquid egg substitute
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • Strawberry or grape jelly for filling (about 1/4 cup)
    1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
    2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Set aside.
    3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat peanut butter, cream cheese, butter and sweetener on medium speed until mixture is blended, about 3 minutes.
    4. Add egg substitute and vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes. Scrape the sides with a spatula. Add dry ingredients and beat on low until just incorporated, about 1 minute.
    5. Set aside 1/2 the dough. Roll the remaining half into 15 balls. Using your thumb or index finger, press a hole into the center of each ball to create a bowl. Fill each hole with 1/2 teaspoon jelly.
    6. Place the saved dough in between two sheets of plastic wrap until it 1/8-inch thick. Cut out 1 1/2-inch squares and press a fork to create crosshatch marks. Wet the fork slightly to prevent sticking.  Lay one cookie top on top of filled cookies; press the sides gently to close. 
    7. Bake cookies until dough is no longer shiny, about 15 minutes. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Carefully transfer cookies onto wire rack and cool completely.