Monday, January 23, 2012

It's in the Bag

It's been a long and rainy day! Monday night post? Perfectly paired with my Monday market run. Here are the contents of my grocery bags from my shopping trip-- most of these items make regular appearances each week. I consider myself a pretty healthy eater. Some days are better than took work to avoid placing a box of Jo-Jo's and salted caramel chocolate in my cart tonight... :)

1. Sprouted Whole Wheat Bread with Fiber: one of my favorite breads for toast on the way to work and lunchtime sandwiches.
2. Quick Cooking Irish Oatmeal:  Oatmeal saves my life a lot and keeps me going through the day. I like to pack these in plastic baggies, stash them in my work bag, and try to microwave a serving during my recess break or after the end of the day dismissal. I also keep some dried fruit in my desk that I throw on top for a little sweetness.
3. Vanilla Protein Powder: 100 calorie snack packed with 18 grams of protein! Just what I need to push through work and still make it out for a good work out. Also, if I don't have enough protein in my breakfast, I find myself starving by recess-- I like to drink this on the way to school, too.
4. Reduced Sodium Turkey Breast Slices: my bread's best friend for quick sandwiches!
5. Lite Cheddar Slices: These guys like to join the sandwich party.
6. Spring Salad Mix: One package will usually get me through a few days for fresh salads or as a bed for protein such as fish.
7. Broccoli Florets: Another favorite snack-- I like to steam cups of these guys and sprinkle a little salt and a tad of  Parmesan cheese on top.
8. Sliced Crimini Mushrooms: I plan on putting these in quick breakfast scrambles or salads for the week.
9. English Cucumber: This guy serves me as a crunchy snack or addition to sandwiches, salads, etc.
10. Avocados: Nothing to say except for love, love, love.
11. Plain Nonfat Greek Yogurt: Another one of my preferred snacks. With a drizzle of honey, sliced almonds, and a banana, Greek yogurt can make my day.
12. Vanilla Nonfat Greek Yogurt: Same as the plain version, but with a little more sass.
13. Ready Made Salad: my lazy Monday night post-workout dinner.
14. Shelled Edamame: I plan on lightly salting these and seasoning them with some ginger and sesame oil to eat along side some salmon I have in the freezer this week.
15. Bananas:, bananas!
16. Spicy Jalapeño Chicken Sausage: My favorite sausage from Trader Joe's. This is so good and a great hassle free protein when I need it.
17. Blueberries: I pack handfuls of it in containers and snack on these throughout the day at work.

What's in your grocery bag?
Happy Monday!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Happy Toscana Tuesday!

I am so excited for tonight's post! Mostly because it reminds me of how excited I was to eat tonight's dinner about one hour ago. Zuppa Toscana is, hands down, one of my absolute favorite soups! I posted a recipe on my blog when I used to be Yumology and you can find it here. I make this so many times that the recipe might as well be engraved into my brain. However, because I happen to love kale so much, I typically add extra. Also, today I used a Italian turkey sausage and homemade chicken broth made from last week's roast chicken carcass (Martha would be proud).

My apologies for the poor photo-- you do what you can when you're out of natural light and only have your iPhone on hand! :)

I hope, if you haven't made this already, enjoy this soup as much as I do. Happy Toscana Tuesday!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Weekend Tidbits

Happy Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day! Hopefully you all were able to enjoy your day and reflect on how blessed our nation was to have such a man with incredible courage and strength make such a positive difference in our world. 

Here are some tidbits from my fabulous weekend:

(From top left to bottom right) 1. My fiancé and I enjoyed ourselves at the ice skating rink with our friends. 2. A perfect Saturday lunch salad-- roasted turkey, pesto, brie, and tomatoes on a bed of arugula with an apple cider vinaigrette. 3. We caught up on my newest favorite T.V. series-- Modern Family (yes...I'm a little late on realizing how funny this show is). 4. Sushi date! 5. Hello, fiancé! He's one of my favorite things about the weekend since I don't see much of him during M-F. 6. Sunday night ice cream run to follow up a pre-marital counseling session. 7. 5 mile morning run before 8:00-- another thing I appreciate about the weekend. 8. Homemade ground turkey tacos with spinach and feta on chipotle corn tortillas. 9. The best egg salad sandwich on fresh ciabatta with smoked salmon and a side quinoa salad.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wear What You Eat

Wear this delicate Double Magnolia Bridal Headpiece for your wedding (or any day) from Portobello on Etsy and eat these White Chocolate Almond Butter Squares that make my mouth water just by looking at them from The View From the Great Island.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fresh Lemon Curd

Growing up as a child, I enjoyed living in a house complete with a backyard filled with an abundance of all kinds of fruit trees. Spoiled with fresh homegrown plums, lemons, tangerines, kumquats, white peaches, and even guava-- I told my fiancé, years before becoming engaged, that I was determined to build ourselves a mini orchard of a backyard in whatever house we would end up living in. After he purchased a house last summer, that we will be living in after we marry, I became elated to discover that the previous owners had already lend a friendly hand towards this dream. In the corner of the yard there is a tall and lush lemon tree that decided to play hard to get by waving "hello" all summer and fall without producing any ripened yellow fruit. However, to my warm delight, a few weeks ago, I was pleased to find plenty of ripe bundles of sunshine waiting for me to harvest! Some of the lemons were wrapped sweetly in wicker baskets and given as small "I thought of you" presents. Other lemons fulfilled their purpose by being squeezed into warm cups of tea with their good friend, honey. Plenty of lemons, however, were used to make fresh batches of homemade lemon curd--  nothing more than lovely tastes of summer lingering in the chilly heart of winter.

This lemon curd recipe is extremely simple to make and taste just as good (with a little extra 'oomph') than the kind you can purchase at the grocery store. I love to make a lot, store it in mason jars, and keep it waiting in the fridge ready to be used on toast, pancakes, waffles, and other delicious things.  It's also fantastic in pies or to tarts.

My favorite Saturday morning breakfast with pancakes in their birthday suit waiting for lemon curd!
"Ahh..."-- the pancakes

Homemade Lemon Curd
adapted from Ina Garten

the zest of 3 large lemons  (avoid the white part)
1 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
4 large eggs at room temperature
3-4 lemons, juiced (about 1/2 cup)
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

1. In a large bowl, combine the lemon zest and white sugar and whisk together well until the mixture is combined.

2. Using a hand mixer, cream the butter until it is fluffy and then add the sugar and lemon mixture-- continue to beat for about 1-2 more minutes to combine. Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue to mix on medium until everything becomes a pale yellow-- about 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice, vanilla, and salt and keep mixing for about 10 more minutes. If the mixture starts to look curdled, keep beating.

3. Pour the mixture into a medium-large saucepan and cook it on low heat until it becomes thick and coats the back of your stirring utensil. Be sure to stir continuously to avoid burning the bottom of the lemon curd batch. This should take about 10 minutes and the curd so reach just below a simmer. Remove from the heat, transfer to jars or sealable containers, and allow it to cool before transferring to the refrigerator to cool and store.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Where I've Been....and Rose Vanilla Macarons!

Good morning! Okay, okay....yes. I have been MIA for quite some time and as Ricky Ricardo says, I sure do have some "splainin' to do"! My absence has been bittersweet. The mad rush in school before going on winter break was what was keeping me away at first, but then it was the joyous break itself that made me stay away from OMP for awhile. I did cook and bake during my vacation. A lot. But, I know I was bad for not sharing anything online. We'll work on the forgiveness thing. I promise.

In fact, I think these Rose Vanilla Macarons with White Chocolate Marscapone may get me to win you back.

I made these on New Year's Eve and they came out so well! If perfectly made and ever so delicious macarons don't say "it's going to be a good year", then I don't know what does. :)

 If you've ever made macarons, or attempted to do so, you'll know exactly how tricky they are to successful create. It takes practice and patience to work with exact and precise measurements and mixing technique. After what seems to be an infinite amount of macaron batches in these last few years-- I can finally say I think I have nailed these bad boys down. For all you daring bakers out there who have found great frustration in cracked macarons, I highly recommend checking out this troubleshooting page from Not So Humble Pie and purchasing yourself a kitchen scale, if you don't already have one. Also check out some of my other macarons on this blog here and here.

Rose Vanilla Macarons with White Chocolate Mascarpone Filling
100 g aged egg whites (aged= resting in an air-tight container in the fridge for 3-5 days)
1 tsp cream of tartar
28 g white granulated sugar
125 g finely ground almond meal (Bob's Red Mill makes a great one)
200 g powdered sugar*
1 tsp real vanilla extract
2 tsp real rose water
optional: pink food gel coloring (do not use liquid food coloring)

Prepare two baking sheets lined with silicone mats (or parchment paper if you don't have these).

1. Combine and whisk together the almond meal and powdered sugar. Set aside.

2. Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on a low speed with the cream of tartar until the mixture becomes foamy (kind of like a bubble bath). At this point, slowly pour in the white granulated sugar as the mixer is running. Add the vanilla and rose extract and increase the speed to medium; continue to beat the mixture until a smooth glossy meringue with soft peaks has formed (kind of like shaving cream). Be careful to NOT over beat and dry out your egg whites. If you are coloring your macarons, add a few drops of the gel coloring a little bit before your egg whites have reached their soft and glossy peaks.

3. Remove the bowl from your stand mixer and add 1/3 of the almond meal and powdered sugar mixture. Gently fold together just until everything is combined. Repeat with the next 1/3 of the dry ingredients and again with the final 1/3.

4. Prepare a pastry bag with a medium round tip (about 1 cm) and transfer the macaron batter into it. Pipe small circles onto the prepared baking sheets to make neat rows. Be sure to leave about 1 1/2 inches between each macaron. Grab the ends of the baking sheet and, while holding it level, firmly tap it on the counter a few times to get rid of any air bubbles. Allow the macarons to rest on the counter for 30-60 minutes before baking.

5. Preheat the oven to 295 degrees F and make sure the racks are in the middle portion. Bake the macarons for 15 minutes, one sheet at a time. Do not open the oven door at all! Once they are finished, allow them to cool for a few minutes; Gently peel away the silicone mat while lightly pushing the macaron cookies off. Repeat with the remaining trays of macarons.

6. Once cooled, fill the macarons with the white chocolate mascarpone filling (recipe as follows) by piping a small dollop onto the back side of one macaron shell and sandwiching it together with another. Repeat with the rest of the macarons. If not consuming right away, store them in an airtight container and keep them in the fridge.

*I typically use 225 g of powdered sugar and reduce the amount of sugar in the filling. However, because it is difficult to control the sweetness with white chocolate, I reduced the powdered sugar amount in the meringue.

White Chocolate Mascarpone Filling
10 oz. white chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy cream
8 oz. mascarpone cheese (room temperature)

1. Place the white chocolate in a medium glass bowl and set it aside. In a small pot, bring the heavy cream to a light boil. Be sure to stir occasionally to avoid burning the cream. Pour the hot liquid over the white chocolate chips and gently use a whisk or rubber spatula to stir the mixture together until the chips have melted and the a smooth ganache has formed. Allow the ganache to cool for a few minutes and then use a hand mixer to beat in the mascarpone cheese until smooth (about 5-10 minutes). Transfer the filling into a piping bag to be used with the macarons.