Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tuesday Tip: Coffee Ice Cubes

I am really loving these Tuesday Tips. I love bringing something super simple, yet game-changing to the table. I have recently fell in love with Trader Joe's cold brewed coffee concentrate, which is perfect for hot summer days when I don't want to brew hot coffee and then add ice to it, which immediately waters it down and negates the whole purpose of a cool iced drink on a hot day. However, I couldn't manage to drink the whole container of the concentrate within the limits of the expiration date, so what did I do? Turned it into caffeinated ice cubes. By freezing the coffee concentrate and a little water, I have the perfect ice cubes to use in my coffee, and when they melt, I just get more coffee, instead of a watery, flavorless mess.

You don't have to use coffee concentrate by any means, by the way. You can simply brew black coffee and freeze in ice cubes trays, or go one step further and pre-cream (is that even a word?) them so that as the coffee melts, you also get more creamer to balance out the flavor.

Coffee Ice Cubes
  • 2 cups brewed coffee or coffee concentrate/water combination
Freeze the coffee into ice cube trays, and then keep in a large freezer zip lock bag for future use. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Greek Yogurt Blueberry Muffins

The fact that I don't have a go-to blueberry muffin recipe is beyond me. It's no secret that blueberries are my favorite fruit. And when Costco sells a box of fresh blueberries bigger than my head for $5, I cannot resist buying them. Immediately I got to work as to what I would bake with these babies, and Andrew mentioned muffins. Simple, delicious, and a great quick grab for breakfast when you're in a hurry. But as I went to search my recipe box for a blueberry muffin recipe, I came up empty handed. Seriously, what did people do before the Internet? All I had to do was type in "blueberry muffin" and thousands of recipes popped up. I got a few ideas from different recipes, and came up with this lighter & healthier version of a classic. 

Greek Yogurt Blueberry Muffins

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups fresh whole blueberries
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup truvia sugar substitute (or 1 cup granulated sugar)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 lemon, juiced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare muffin tin by spraying with non-stick cooking spray or placing muffin liners in the tin. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Fold in the blueberries. Set aside. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolk, sugar, vanilla, yogurt, milk, and lemon juice. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients in three increments. Mixing well in between each addition.

Once all of the wet has been added to the dry, place the batter into the muffin tin, filling each cup about 3/4 full. Bake at 425 for 5 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 and finish baking for another 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Moscow Mules

The proper way to send you all off into the weekend is with this Moscow Mule recipe. Obvi. A few weeks ago, Andrew and I house/dog sat for my best friend and her husband while they whisked away to Grand Cayman Island. We considered getting to live in their new home paradise for 6 days a gift in itself, but then they outdid themselves by making us a basket of boozy goodies to thank us; complete with ginger beer, a bottle of vodka, and some fancy copper mugs. All the essentials needed to make the perfect moscow mule. 

Moscow Mules
Makes 2 Mules

  • 1/2 large lime, juiced
  • 4 oz. good quality vodka
  • 10-12 oz. ginger beer
  • ice
Juice lime into a cocktail shaker, then drop in the lime rind. Pour in the vodka, ginger beer, and fill the shaker with ice. Shake shake shake!!

Place a few ice cubes into each copper mug and strain the cocktail into the mugs. Garnish with lime wedges. Bottoms up!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Chicken Fajita Burgers

It seems that more often than not, I run into the problem of my eyes being twice as big as my stomach. These burgers are the perfect example. You better be sure that you are famished before trying to devour an entire 1/4-lb. burger, topped with a large dollop of guac and piled high with sautéed veggies. But you know what, I wouldn't have it any other way. The fact that they were so easy to make, and extremely flavorful is a win win in my house, which means that they will be making an appearance again very soon!

Chicken Fajita Burgers

  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • 1 large egg, whisked
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tbsp. Sriracha (or hot sauce of your liking)
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 batch homemade guacamole
  • 4 kaiser rolls, halved
  • 4 slices pepperjack cheese (optional)

In a large mixing bowl combine the chicken, egg, panko, sriracha, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Mix well to combine, then form into 4 evenly sized patties. Press thumb into center of each patty to create a small crate. This will keep the burgers from shrinking on the grill.

Preheat grill to high. Grill burgers cooking 5 minutes on one side, then flipping and cooking for another 5 minutes. Remove burgers from grill and allow to rest for a couple of minutes. If you are using cheese, add the cheese onto the tops of the burgers during the last minute of cooking.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Add in the sliced onion and bell peppers. Cook for about 8-10 minutes until the veggies are softened.

While grill is still hot, add halved burger buns to hot grill and allow them to toast for a minute or two.

To serve, place a chicken burger onto each bun bottom, top with a large dollop of guac, and the sautéed veggies.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

National Hot Dog Day

What would National Hot Day be without a little post from me? I went back and forth on what to write about today, and then it hit me. Who doesn't want some fun-albeit-useless hot dog facts? I know I'll be enjoying a Chicago Dog (or two) today!

  • Did you know that Americans consume around 150 million hot dogs every year at the 4th of July?
  • The most popular topping among adults is mustard at 86.7% (mustard > ketchup. duh)
  • Hot dogs were the first food eaten on the moon, and is a NASA approved item on regular Apollo moon flights, Skylab missions, and space shuttle flights. 
  • The average American eats 50 hot dogs every year
  • The world's longest hot dog was 1,996 feet long, in honor of the 1996 Olympic Games

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tuesday Tip: Simple Syrup

So many recipes these days call for simple syrup. Think lemonade, iced tea, and just about every cocktail on the planet. Now, you could easily go to the store and buy a $10+ bottle of pre-made simple syrup, or you could make your own for just pennies. All is it is water and sugar. That's it. Got 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar? You are in business my friend! Plus, once you've mastered the original simple syrup you can get creative by adding things like ginger, mint, lemon peel, or vanilla beans to create flavored simple syrups. The best part about using simple syrup over just plain sugar is that you don't get all of those sugar granules that collect in the bottom of your glass instead of sweetening your drink. For every teaspoon of granulated sugar that you would normally use to sweeten, use 1 1/2 teaspoons of the simple syrup.

Simple Syrup:
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
In a medium sauce pan add the water and the sugar. Heat over medium heat; stirring often. Cook for 3-5 minutes until the sugar has completely dissolved. Allow to cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Cheesy Shrimp & Tortellini Bake

Sometimes I forget how lucky I am. I am a wear-my-heart-on-my-sleeve-Type-A-planner-to-the-extreme-girl, and there are times when I just get so caught up in my emotions, and the fact that I cannot be in control 100% of the time, that I forget to stop and just enjoy life. Luckily I am surrounded by some pretty incredibly supportive people; that includes my co-workers, family and friends both near and far, and my boyfriend who tries with all of his might to keep me grounded, but sometimes there's just no stopping this 110 mph brain of mine. I know New Year's resolutions are usually done in January, but I've decided to make a Christmas in July resolution and try to let go of even just a fraction of control and just...be. Be happy. Be content. Be me. And being me means being in the kitchen. With such a hectic schedule lately I've been going for simple dinners that I can get to the table in under 30 minutes, and this one takes the cake. 

Cheesy Shrimp & Tortellini Bake

  • 16 oz. raw jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined, and patted dry with paper towels
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 20 oz. package four cheese tortellini
  • 2 cups tomato basil marinara sauce
  • 3 tbsp. freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, minced
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add in the tortellini and cook according to the packaged directions. Drain the tortellini and set aside. Heat up the marinara sauce in the same pot for 3 minutes, or until heated through. 

Meanwhile preheat the oil in a large cast-iron skillet over high heat.  Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Cook in the hot oil on both sides until the shrimp is pink all the way through, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and set the shrimp aside on a plate. 

Add the tortellini in the marinara sauce into the cast iron skillet and spread into an even layer. Top with the cooked shrimp. Sprinkle the parmesan on top, then finish with the shredded mozzarella.

Broil in the oven until the cheese is melted and starting to turn slightly golden brown.

Remove from the broiler and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve hot. 

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