June 29, 2010

Rich Lemon Muffins: For Just a Girl Baking's Birthday

Its my dear friend, Lyndsey's Birthday!! She is the creator and blogger of Just a Girl Baking. Since she is always baking for other people I like to bake for her sometimes. She handles the cake baking, I am more of a muffin baking kinda girl. I find they are super easy to whip up and they are always moist and delicious.

I had some lemons left over from my experimenting last night, (see Lemon Cream Rotini) and I thought Lemon Muffins would be really good, and I know she really enjoys citrus. So I looked up lemon muffin recipes online and found this great one that I actually had all the ingredients for! I adapted the cooking time for the use of making mini-muffins, cause mini-muffins are way cuter.

Rich Lemon Mini-Muffins
Makes 36 mini-muffins
(original recipe can be found here.)

2 cup unbleached flour (I used all-purpose flour)
1/2 cup sugar, plus 2 T
1 T baking powder1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)2 eggs
Zest of 1 lemon

Heat oven to 400 and spray/grease your muffin tins.

Combine flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder and salt; blend well.

Melt butter, and remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice, eggs, and most of lemon zest, reserve some for garnish.

Stir egg mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until well moistened.

Spoon the batter into muffin tins. Combine the remaining 2 T of sugar and the reserved lemon zest and sprinkle on top of each muffin. Bake for 7 minutes, until lightly golden, do not overbake.

Rich Lemon Mini-Muffins

I really think she is going to enjoy these. They are really light, summery and quite refreshing. Plus it's always nice to return someones tupperware filled with something for them to enjoy. You should try this recipe, it took hardly no time to make and they are great!

Happy Birthday to Lyndsey-Loo!!!

Eat, Drink and Be Merry...and celebrate a friend's birthday!


Lemon Cream Rotini with Veggies: an adaptation of an Ina Garten recipe

We were having company over and I wanted to make a dinner that was nice and refreshing cause it had been a hot one here lately. I already had one pork tenderloin in the freezer, so I went out and got another one to make sure it fed everyone and then I started looking up side dishes. I looked through my mess of recipes on my computer and found a lemon herb pasta salad...I read it over and wasn't too impressed but I liked the idea of lemon because it's so refreshing and light.

Then I remembered back in the day Ina Garten made some sort of lemony, creamy pasta entree. So I went searching on Food Network's website and I found the perfect side dish, Lemon Fusilli with Arugula. I sort of adapted it to what I thought would taste good so here's what I did:

Lemon Cream Rotini with Veggies

(adapted from the original here.)

1 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, mince or grated
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup half and half (I used fat free)2 lemons, zested and juiced
Salt and pepper
1 bunch broccoli
3/4 pound cauliflower florets, or about 1/2 a head of cauliflower
1 cup fresh corn kernels, or kernels cut from one ear of corn
1 pound dried Rotini pasta
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

Heat the olive oil in a medium sauce pan and add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the cream, zest and juice from 2 lemons and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until it starts to thicken.

Meanwhile, cut the broccoli in florets and discard the stems. Cook the florets in boiling, salted water for 2 minutes, remove with wire strainer and set aside. Bring water back to a boil and add the cauliflower florets and cook for 3-4 minutes until tender and drain and set aside.

Bring large pot of water to a boil and cook your pasta according to directions. Drain the pasta in colander and place back in pot and immediately add the cream sauce mixture. Cook on medium until the pasta as absorbed most of the sauce. Pour the hot pasta into a large bowl and add the tomatoes, corn and the cooked broccoli and cauliflower. Toss and serve hot.

Picture courtesy of Food Network

Now I made this as a side dish because it was pretty rich. I replaced some of the cream in the original recipe with half and half cause I felt 2 cups of cream was a bit much. Also my grocery store didn't have Arugula so I just didn't use it and I added corn because it's in season and it looked great at the store.

This was surprisingly delicious. I had never really had a real citrus-y flavored pasta before and this was so good and like I said, refreshing. It was great for a summer day and I think went very well with the spicy, cajun seasoned pork tenderloin I grilled up.

I used a Cajun seasoning from Wild Tree Herbs which on of my girlfriends is selling. This seasoning is great! I used it on chicken once before but I was really excited to slather it on these pork tenderloins and then throw them on the grill. It was amazing! So good and with the lemon pasta...they just balanced each other out perfectly. The spicy kick from the Cajun and then the cooling Lemon Cream sauce. Perfect Match!

Sorry I don't have pictures, I was entertaining and didn't want to be a dork and take pictures.

Eat, Drink and Be Merry...
and entertain with a refreshing summer meal!


June 25, 2010

Picture Taking Fun - What Happens When You're Bored

These are just some pictures I took while I was bored. I had gone to the store to get some provisions for making my Spicy-Honey Glazed Sliders and I bought the cutest little baby red boston lettuce and then some great foccacia rolls from Blackbird Baking Co. across the street. Later that day I made some deviled eggs as well and I just didn't post them so I guess they will end up here. Enjoy.
Foccacia Rolls from Blackbird Baking Co.

Baby Red Boston Lettuce for Sliders

BONUS RECIPE! If you actually looked at this boring post, you get a bonus recipe for Deviled Eggs!! Woo! Congratulations!

So deviled eggs are fairly easy as long as you remember how to make the perfect hard boiled eggs. And now that I am posting this maybe I can stop pestering my mom every time I go to make them, cause I always doubt myself at remembering how to do hard boiled eggs.

Hard Boiled Eggs:

Place eggs in large pot and cover with cold water. Place on heat, covered and bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat and let sit for 15 minutes. Drain hot water and replace with cold and add ice cubes to cool down the eggs to stop the cooking. Once cooled peel and make your deviled eggs.

Deviled Eggs:

Cut the eggs in half, lengthwise, and remove the yolks to a bowl. Mash up the egg yolks and add mayo and brown, spicy mustard. Really you can use any mustard you like. I have tried stadium mustard and dijon and they are both great as well. I don't really have measurements for this because...well I go by texture and taste so I add a bit here and there until I like it. I know...real specific.

Place the yolk mixture into a plastic baggies, cut off tip and squeeze the filling into the waiting egg white halves. Sprinkle with paprika and serve. Refrigerate in an air-tight container lined with paper towel.

Deviled Eggs

Happy Picture-Taking!!


June 24, 2010

Spicy-Honey Glazed Shredded Chicken Sliders

I had this recipe for Spicy-Honey Glazed Chicken from the Everyday with Rachael Ray Magazine and I have made it a few times a few different ways. But I found out they have small foccacia rolls at Blackbird, the bakery across the street from us, and the Hubsie suggested to use them for sliders when I first told him about them, so I had that idea in my head. I decided to do the Spicy-Honey Chicken with some fresh, crisp lettuce and some sweet corn to add crunch.

Spicy-Honey Glazed Shredded Chicken Sliders
(adapted from Rachael Ray find that recipe here.)

3 T Olive Oil
1 clove garlic, grated or minced
3 T honey
1 tsp. hot sauce
1/2 tsp. chili powder
Squeeze of lime juice

(Not gonna lie, these measurements are approximate. The original recipe is for 8 chicken breasts, I am usually only making 2, so I just use enough of everything to make a nice amount of glaze for 2 chicken breasts.)

Heat the olive oil in a small pan. Add the garlic and let that soften. Add the honey, hot sauce, and chili powder and stir to combine. Remove from heat and add a squeeze of lime juice and set aside.

Place your chicken in a skillet and pour enough chicken broth to just about cover the chicken breasts. I season the broth with salt, pepper, red pepper flake and garlic powder. Bring to a simmer and let simmer for 1o minutes and then flip the chicken over and simmer on the other side for about 5-8 minutes until completely cooked through. Remove from pan and let cool a bit until you can handle it. Shred the chicken into the spicy-honey glaze and toss to coat.

Split your rolls and line the bottom with a piece of lettuce and some heated up, canned corn (you could use fresh I just used some that I had leftover.) Place some shredded chicken on top and add your roll top that has been slathered with mayo.

Looks picnic perfect!

I served mine with some roasted red skinned potatoes and a pickle.

For the potatoes I just cut them into wedges and coated them in olive oil. I then spiced them up with salt, pepper and garlic powder and roasted them at 375 for about 15 minutes, tossing after 10 minutes.

These little slider sammies were delicious!!!!!! So good!!! Those foccacia rolls from Blackbird are amazing!!! They are really delicious and airy, but have a good texture to them. The chicken was great with just enough glaze so that it wasn't dripping all over the place but still had great flavor.

Hope you try this recipe out...it rocks!

Eat, Drink and Be Merry!!!


June 14, 2010

Recommended Reading: Emily Giffin

As I mentioned before, I saw that my sister-in-law had Emily Giffin's books posted on her Goodreads account and I am always looking for something new to read for work, cause I pretty just read all the time while I am there, so I thought I would give these books a go.

The first book is Something Borrowed. I reviewed this book before. It is centered around the character Rachel, who has a best friend, Darcy, who I found to be really annoying and kinda, almost deserving of what happened between them as friends. Rachel ends up stealing away Darcy's fiance, Dex. Now I know that stealing someone's fiance is bad, but Darcy was really self-centered and I don't think she really enjoyed being with Dex, she just kind of settled because of his good-looks and well paying job. But anyway. I thought this book was great and I could feel all the emotions the characters were going through and I think that is important in capturing readers and making them feel for your characters.

Side note: They are currently making this into a movie starring Kate Hudson (Darcy), Ginnifer Goodwin (Rachel) and John Krasinski (Ethan). Should be fun!

The next book was Something Blue. This book is centered around Darcy. So I was little like, well I didn't like her in the other book, now I have to read a whole BOOK about her! But it wasn't bad. It was actually quite a cute story. Darcy ends up pregrant with her ex-fiance's best friend's baby. He doesn't want a baby and her best friend is gone, so she goes to London to live with high school friend Ethan. Ethan is a writer in London and he says she can stay for a "short visit." This book was really cute. Watching Darcy make it out on her own, with a baby on the way, which she swears is a girl and watching hers and Ethan friendship/relationship unfold. It was a sweet story with a wonderful happy ending.

Baby Proof was the next book in line. This book is centered around a new character, Claudia. She has never wanted children, and she found the perfect man for her, Ben, who also has strong views and never wanting children...until thier mutual best friends get pregnant and Ben has a change of heart. It seemed a big part of thier relationship was based on the fact they didnt' want children and now he is changing his mind. She files for divorce and starts seeing an older, mature co-worker. She soon realizes that being with Ben is like not living. She has to decide if her whole view on not have children is really a valid bases for filing for divorce from her one true love. She feels empty without Ben and she needs to figure out if she should just get over her own values and have children with Ben to keep him, or if she should stick to her values and be unhappy. I thought this was a great interesting read, and I really loved the point of view it took from a woman who has different ideas about motherhood and pregnancy.

The last book I read was Love the One You're With. This book centered around another new character Ellen. Ellen has been with her loving husband, Andy, for 3 years. Living the life she wants in New York and everything seems so perfect...no it is perfect! A little too perfect she realizes when she runs into her old flame, Leo. Leo wasn't the healthiest relationship she ever had. They were younger and they were obsessed with each other, until one day it felt different, Leo didn't seem to love her anymore and they parted ways. Years later, she runs into him again and she is almost smitten with him again. She has to make hard decisions based on her almost too perfect marriage with Andy or the thrill and excitement Leo brings her. I found this book hard to read at some points because I couldn't understand how she could make certain decisions and I couldn't quite put myself in her place...I felt that the emotions here were deep and something I wouldn't want to ever face. But it was great read overall.

I really do enjoy Emily Giffin's book. I like getting into the stories and feeling the characters emotions. I love the uncomfortable feeling of knowing the decision the character is making is going to effect them in a good or bad way, and getting to know the characters and feeling for them. She is a wonderful writer and I like that she takes aspects from her own life, like living in New York, or Atlanta, or she used to live and write in London, its fun to have those little details to make you feel like these stories are really a part of her.

She has one more book that just came out in May, I am on the waiting list for the library. I can't wait to read it. It's called Heart of the Matter.

Happy Reading!!


June 11, 2010

BBQ Chicken Sammiches

The Hubsie was out of town for a day so when he came back I wanted to make something fun and easy. I had been thinking about Barbecue Chicken Sammiches so, that's what I made.

I took 2 chicken breasts and butterflied them to make 2 pieces out of each, 4 pieces total. I wanted them thinner so they would cook up faster and more evenly. I marinated them in pepper, garlic powder, red pepper flake and 1/4 to 1/3 cup of barbecue sauce, for about an hour. I preheated our outdoor electric grill to about medium-low and I placed the chicken on. I cooked them about 5 minutes per side. After I flipped them once I basted with more barbecue sauce.

Once cooked through I took them off the grill and placed them on these great hamburger buns that I picked up from Blackbird Baking. The rolls came in plain or with sesame seeds. I have been loving sesame seeds lately, they are my favorite bagel when I go to Einsteins and I love them now on anything it seems. These hamburger buns were so good!! A bit pricey but I think totally worth it, they were kinda dense, but really soft and had great flavor.

While the chicken was cooking on the grill I boiled some corn on the cob to go on the side. I didn't know what else to make on the side, so my plate looks kinda boring. But the sammiches were great! I wish I had used more barbecue sauce actually, they needed more flavor. Also I guess I could have added some greens to the sammies, but I didn't have any, I just used what I had. There is mayo on the sandwiches as well, I thought about adding a slice of provolone but I wasn't sure about cheese and barbecue.

Barbecue Chicken Sammiches

Eat, Drink and Be Merry!!


June 7, 2010

California Love - Wedding and Sightseeing in California

Last week the hubsie and I went on our first big vacation ever. I say big cause it was our first time on a plane...yes both of us. I realize this makes us freaks in the flying world, but now it's over with! We flew into San Francisco for my brother's wedding. It was beautiful and it was great family time!! We were the last ones to arrive in California, due to a flight cancellation and whatever, but I felt like I was almost being reunited with my whole family because everyone was already there. I felt like I was almost coming home, that my family was there and they werewaiting for us...it was a nice feeling. And it was also great to be on my brother's turf. He has lived out of state for, I think, 7 years, and this was my first trip out to see him.

I already did a post on all the food, so I won't be talking about that in this post, although all the food we had was amazing! My brother, Jim, is that "last" one of us 4 kids to get married. I don't know if I can mention why last is in quotes, so I won't. But anyway, so we flew out to Oakland for his wedding and it was beautiful. They had their ceremony at St. Mary's College. Joan, my new sister-in-law is employed there as the Director of Delphine Intercultural Center and my brother just graduated the week before the wedding with his Masters!! So proud!

So, this campus is gorgeous! This is the chapel where they got married...*gasp* to die for right?!? I also have to say I love all the homes there in California. I love the starch white stucco and the smooth masonry. It is just beautiful. I think I just love all the architecture of California. Very clean and beautiful. Everything around this campus seemed to be bright, brilliant white with the green scenery and bright blue skies. It was quite breathtaking actually.

The ceremony was a Catholic mass with Filipino traditions tied in. They had "sponsors" who contribute to special parts of the ceremony, such as the unity candle, wedding coins and veil and cord traditions, which they all had. I did a reading during the ceremony, along with a call and response prayer. My other 2 brothers, Chuck and Ken, were groomsmen and played the processional, entrance of the bride, and recessional song (Here Comes the Sun and Here, There and Everywhere - The Beatles, and You and Me DMB, respectfully.)

Jim and Joan seeing each other for the first time before the ceremony

We took a Street Car to the ceremony from the hotel

Getting pictures done before the ceremony
Me, Chuck, Jim, Mom, Dad and Ken

Hubsie and I before boarding the Street Car

Reception at Soda Activity Center - St. Mary's College

The reception was also on campus at the Soda Activity Center. It was beautiful. They did a theme of movies and books, and more specifically movies that were made from books. All the music during dinner was from movie soundtracks, it was great little detail. We sat at the Godfather table.

As I said in the California Noms post they did two tables of food. One Filipino and one Italian. Joan put together a slide show of how her and Jim met and how their relationship unfolded. It was great and I got teary-eyed. It was a great night. We danced the night away and then returned back to the hotel on the Street Car.

The next day we went sightseeing all over San Francisco!! I was so excited...but I really didn't feel good that day. There was no way I was gonna sit back and be like "Oh I don't feel good, let's not go around San Fran." I would rather go sightseeing and risk throwing up then sitting in my brother's apartment being a poop. So off we went!! First order of business: Golden Gate Bridge!

The Golden Gate Bridge from Marin Headlands

Hubsie and I at Marin Headlands with
The Golden Gate Bridge in background

Driving over the Golden Gate Bridge!
Hubsie put camera out the window and got lucky with this shot!

We went to Sausalito for dinner because the traffic going back to San Francisco over the bridge was ridiculous. Sausalito is a great little harbor town. It was beautiful, and right on the Bay.

Driving to Sausalito - A City on the Bay

After dinner we went over to Lombard St. Lombard St. is known as the most winding, or crookedest street in the world. The street was far to steep for cars to be able to climb, let alone people I would say, so it was giving 8 curves going all the way down, it's quite beautiful and just really interesting. I got a picture of it at night, but it didn't come out very well.

We also ventured to Fisherman's Wharf and saw the sea lions! We took a really funny video, because it was dark you can't see anything but you just hear all the sea lions barking! It's so cute! The sea lions were celebrating 20 years of making their home at Pier 39. They are not capitive there, they just showed up one day and decided they wanted to stay. So fun! We also went through Chinatown and North Beach, which is pretty much San Fran's Little Italy.

Cool Building while driving through Downtown San Francisco

We had such an amazing time. It was nice to come back home, but then we realized how quickly our vacation ended. We have a lot of things we can check off our bucket list, if we actually had one.

1. First Flight - getting on a plane
2. California - Visiting Jim
3. Lombard St.
4. Golden Gate Bridge
5. California Food!
6. Seeing the Pacific Ocean!
7. Sea lions at Pier 39
And so much more!

Now I can't wait to go on another fun trip! We are looking to going our honeymoon finally, or at least a trip to Seattle like we wanted to do. We are hoping to go for our 1 year anniversary! It's coming up in September...maybe I should look into flight deals! :)

Happy Vacationing!


June 3, 2010

California Noms - Food from our California Vacation

The Hubs and I went on our first big vacation. I have 2 blogs about this, but this is the food portion, the other will detail my brother's wedding and our sightseeing!

First thing is the Hubs and I found Piedmont Avenue...we love it!! I had a headache from our flight debacle and maybe not enough sleep but he was like "We are walking around." My dad told us about the street behind my brother's apt. and there were shops and cafes and what not, so we went there. Fell in love! They have this place called L'Amyx Tea Bar, and that did it. I had 3 good cups of their Jasmine Dragon Pearls Green Tea and my headache was gone and I was feeling much better. Hubsie got a Mango Iced Green Tea, he loved it! This place was awesome! They give you handmade tea cups, that I am sure you could find on Etsy and a little wrought iron tea pot, so cute and festive...I want to live there! I mean $3.25 and you get your tea pot refilled over and over and over, amazing.

Jasmin Dragon Pearls Tea
Loved the handmade cup and small iron tea pot!

We had lunch at Holly Mandarin's. Dan, my hubsie, got General Tso's Chicken, cause that's all he ever gets except...this was the best damn General Tso's Chicken EVER!! The Chinese food here, in Ohio, sucks compared to this stuff!! We were spoiled there to say the least. I got what the called the "Bird's Nest" it was shrimp and chicken with vegetables in a light sauce served in a bird's nest of noodles. I think I went more for the visual appeal, but it was still good, but I really wanted what Dan got. Also I got brown rice on the side with mine, which was really good, and I was glad they had brown rice as an option. It was delicious. It came with a bowl of Miso soup...but yeah, we didn't like it, but Miso soup is weird anyway.

General Tso's Chicken and Bird's Nest @ Holly Mandarin's Oakland, CA

Friday night, after the rehearsal dinner we went back to the Hotel Shattuck in Berekley and had some drinks at their restaurant/bar Five. I first had a great Hemingway Daiquiri, it was rum and grapefruit and it was ultra smooth and very light. Then the bartender offered to make me his own Cosmopolitan, which again, so good, and very smooth. The make everything from scratch, no pre-made sour mix or anything. And lastly I had a Lemon Drop cocktail, it tasted exactly like a lemonhead candy, it was amazing.

After drinks, my brother said "We're getting tacos." It was quite random but we were kinda tipsy and tacos sounded amazing. He took us out to East Oakland to a taco truck, Tacos Mi Rancho. Now let me tell you....I was SO excited to go to a taco truck!! I just see these random food stands on Food Network and stuff, I have never been to one, so I was so excited! The tacos were amazing. I got Asada tacos (steak), the Hubs got chicken and my bro got Carnitas (pork). They are more traditional tacos so they were on 2 really small soft tortillas and spiced just right and were really delicious.

Saturday was the wedding. In the morning we went over to Piedmont again...we seriously had an addiction, and we got breakfast at The Posh Bagel and then got some coffee at Peet's Coffee and Tea. We also stopped by this great Italian market/deli called A. G. Ferrari to pick up lunch for us girl's that would be getting ready at the hotel later on. I got a great Prosciutto di Parma sandwich with some kind of soft cheese and spring mix lettuce on foccacia , it was quite good. And the sandwiches were huge!

For the wedding dinner they did one table of Filipino fare and one of Italian fare to represent the bride and grooms nationalities. It was really cool, cause each side got to maybe taste foods they have not had before. And they had a whole roast pig!
I took a picture of my plate....but it didn't look very appealing. It was just a mish-mosh of food, and didn't look very good...but it tasted amazing! Everything was good!

L'Amyx Tea Bar - Piedmont Avenue Oakland, CA

Sunday, our last day there, we ended up on Piedmont again in the morning. We stopped for tea (this time Hubs got a tea smoothie, Mango Jazz, Mango, Passionfruit Green Tea blended) and then we were hungry and we were wasting time before my brother and his new wifey got back so we could go sightseeing. We ended up having lunch at Barney's Gourmet Burgers. My stomach was feeling kinda iffy that day so I got a plain Turkey burger, it was pretty good, I wish I could have gotten something more exciting but I wasn't feeling all that well. The hubs got a Blackened Burger that had a Louisiana Cajun dust and pepper jack cheese, he said it was awesome. I forgot to take pictures, so...oops!
We went sightseeing and the traffic going over the Golden Gate Bridge going back would have been dreadful so my brother decided we would have dinner in Sausalito and we ended up at Fish. This restaurant was great. First I had a nice bowl of Clam Chowder. It was really yummy, with big chunks of potato and fresh clams and it had a nice bacon flavor.

Claw Chowder at Fish.

Also I tried my first raw, fresh oyster. It was delicious! I didn't try it with the mignoette sauce or cocktail sauce, just with a nice squeeze of lemon over the top. It was fresh and tender, and very good! And as you can see in the picture, we ate them all before I got a picture of them...haha :)

Chilled and Shucked Fresh Oysters

For my main entree I choose from the "Your Daily Fish." Menu. I got the fresh Monterey Calamari and you can choose to have it over salad greens, pasta or as a sammich. I got mine over pasta and it. was. so. good. I mean I wasn't feeling well that day, but I kept wanting to take more bites even though I was full and feeling queasy. There wasn't a sauce or anything over the pasta and seafood, they just go with the natural juices and fresh lemon they used to cook the calamari. It was great and really fresh!

Fresh Monterey Calamari over Pasta

The Hubs got Fish. and Chips. Doesn't that look amazing?! You could choose between fresh Alaskan Halibut or local Miyagi Oysters, but then that would be oysters and chips, not fish and chips. It was a serving of 3 or 4 pieces of beer battered Halibut over potato wedges with a homemade tartar sauce. I, of course, had to try a bite and you coudl really taste the beer batter and it was just delicious.

Fish and Chips (Fresh Alaskan Halibut)

That is the last of our California Nomming. It was such a great trip full of great food, family love and happy memories. I can't wait to go on another trip...it was over far too quickly!

Eat, Drink and Be Merry...and go on a great food vacation!!