Friday, December 16, 2011

Chocolate Crack(le) Cookies

'Tis the season to bake cookies. Fa la la la la...la la la la. I wanted to make a crackle cookie, just because I love the way they look.


After doing some research, it seemed that a lot of folks were pretty pleased with Martha's Chocolate Crackle Cookie recipe. Though I modified it, mostly to save time and a couple of dirty dishes.

For some reason, my heart beats a little faster when I whip out the Scharffen Berger chocolate...the good stuff. Do yourself a favor and don't make these cookies with chocolate morsels. They contain additives that do a good job of keeping their shape but not so good of a job of tempering. Go for good old-fashioned baking chocolate (Baker's is probably the most common baking chocolate you'll find in your grocery store).

Homemade Holiday Wreath

I would like to put it out there that this post is not about food. I know. But hear me out.

I saw a blog post on the cutest wreath idea and immediately felt compelled to make it. And after one trip to Spool, a craft night with friends, a couple slices of fig-pine-nut-basil-gorgonzola pizza, and my first ever watch of White Christmas, I had my very own.


I might have to make one for every season.

This wreath really was a snap to make. And raiding the scraps bin at Spool meant that it was inexpensive too. All together, this little puppy put me back about $10. And if you already have a lot of scrap fabric of your own, you're ahead of the curve!

Just a side note that I didn't use thumbtacks, as the directions on the blog post I found suggested. Instead I used long sewing pins (the kind with the little balls on top) — they hold really nice! 


Okay, now back to cookies. I promise! 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gingerdoodle Cookies

When did Christmastime come around? I was barely keeping up with Thanksgiving, and then suddenly I had mere weeks until Christmas. And I'm not sure why I continue to be impressed each year about how quickly time flies...but I digress.

A great, snappy cookie to add to your holiday line-up are these Gingerdoodles. Soft, chewy, and spicy, with a little extra love. The cinnamon-sugar, groovy kind of love. Hence the "-doodle" portion of their name.


These cookies feature a motley crew of flavors — cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and molasses. But the coating of sweet on the outside softens the spice a little, distinguishing these treats from your average gingerbread treat.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Gingersnap Pumpkin Pie

Happy Thanksgiving! What a wonderful time for us to be reminded of all that we have to be thankful for. And this year in particular, I have so much gratitude. I'm so very thankful for:
  • My wonderful husband, who I have so enjoyed being married to. Even though we lived together for a few years, there's just something that's a little different now. After all, we put a ring on it!
  • Family and friends, especially after seeing the outpour of love and support for our wedding. Our hearts are so full!
  • Employment. Enough said.
  • My health and my family's health. May we always feel so great.
  • Having a well-equipped kitchen! And it might sound funny, but I'm thankful for having the curiosity to continue experimenting and cooking. It's nice having a hobby that will nourish my family! 
  • Gingersnap pumpkin pie. It's just so simple; and so good! 
Too obvious of a transition there? Anyway, let's talk about this pie. There is about a month's time each year between Thanksgiving and Christmas where pumpkin pie is relevant. So you've got to maximize on it while you have the opportunity.  


But PIE. Pie can be a little daunting. If you start to get hung up on crust and fillings that need to "set up", you might talk yourself out of making one. But this pie? This pie is a beginner's pie if there ever was such a thing — namely because I've eliminated the traditional dough crust (I was never a huge fan anyway) and replaced it with a gingersnap crust. That means you get a little dose of spicy goodness with each bite you take. (And it also lowers the calories, which is always welcome in my book!) 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cranberry and Dried Cherry Relish

Turkey time is quickly approaching, and I'm sure that a lot of you, like me, have recipes swirling around in your head in preparation. Here's a simple addition to your Thanksgiving table — and it might just be the simplest item to prepare for the big feast.

Homemade cranberry sauce is a bright, sassy, classic Thanksgiving condiment that is a snap to whip up. Yes it's available in jars and cans. But if you have cranberries and about 30 minutes, you've got great homemade side that is lower in sugar and higher in nutrients than the stuff on the supermarket shelf. Just saying!


There are a ton of recipes out there, so my recommendation is to pick one that accommodates your tastes and uses your favorite flavors. This year, I adapted a basic Martha combination, but in previous years I've also experimented with adding fresh ginger, orange, and spices. Be as traditional (not a cop out!) or as adventurous as you want to be, and get to it!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Roasted Poblano Chicken Enchiladas

I know I'm supposed to be telling you all about my plans for turkeys and potatoes and stuffing of sorts. But what if I just wanted to tell you about these dreamy enchiladas instead? What then? Is that food-blogger blasphemy the week before Turkey Day?

I've always been a rebel.

Well, actually, no I haven't. In fact, when I was getting close to graduating from high school, my dad said to me, "Don't you ever want to get in trouble to see what it feels like? You can get detention if you want!"

So maybe I follow the rules. But there's something that feels a little badass when I'm charring a poblano pepper over an open flame. Yeah, that's right. I meant for that to burn. I meant for the alarm to go off, and for my husband to have to wave a pillow in front of the smoke detector.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Cashew Cranberry Chili

I’m a flexitarian. I laugh at myself each time I use it, because it's sort of a made up word that doesn’t really mean anything special, but I use it because it invites questions and stirs up a conversation. I especially use it in my Cooking Matters classes, where I immediately lose the crowd as soon as I say “plant-based diet.” Nuh uh! They’re not giving up their meat. And nor should they. And nor should I.

A flexitarian is also a semi-vegetarian, or a vegetarian who eats meat (Whaaa?). I’m sure true vegetarians roll their eyes at this definition and think we just don’t have the willpower to completely stay away from meat. Maybe for some that’s true. For me, I don’t pretend that I want to avoid meat…I just don’t like paying for it too often.

I like meat. Good meat. Fresh meat that comes from local grass-fed cows, happy pigs and chickens who roam. (Expensive meat). I’m perfectly willing to spend a little more money on something I can feel good about eating, but if I haven’t mentioned it yet, I’m a student…an unemployed student. And above all, I enjoy eating a plant based diet. It offers more variety and nutritional benefit and forces me to be creative. Beans give you protein AND fiber (and no fat), nuts and seeds also provide protein, fiber and healthy fats. Add some veggies & whole grains and you're all set!

Here’s a recipe for a vegan chili that’s a little different than your typical bean based chili. I got this from a friend and fellow flexitarian, but I made some changes to suit my tastes (and because I like to break the rules a bit.)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Marinated Roasted Red Peppers

These roasted red peppers are the color of autumn here on the east coast. I know this for a fact because we went on a beautiful little hike this weekend on the Wissahickon Valley Trail (part of Fairmount Park). We were amazed that the trail was still within Philadelphia's city limits!


Rather than say goodbye to warmer weather, longer days, and fresh veggies from the garden, I'm determined to preserve at least one of these three things.


Late summer and early fall are actually peak season for these sweeter, more colorful beauties — they flourish in the cooler fall weather after a summer of battling the hot sun and little rain. They also take longer to ripen than green bell peppers — hence their later peak.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Nice to meet ya!

Thanks for the intro, friend! Danielle invited me to be a guest contributor on Consumed because she thought I could offer a different point of view. I’m honored to be asked to have a voice on this blog, so I hope I have something interesting to share!

As Danielle mentioned, I’m in school studying Dietetics. My curriculum includes food science, biochemistry, and medical nutrition therapy for different disease states; in general, how our bodies process nutrients. Though I continue to eat for flavor and pleasure, it’s hard not to start thinking about food in terms of nutrients…proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. It can be daunting to make food choices based solely on the needs of our bodies, but there is a pretty fool proof way to make sure that you get everything you need. Whole foods. No, not the store.

I still go out for a cheeseburger and fries. I still grab an ice cream cone in the summer (or last Thursday). I still buy a bag of tortilla chips and shredded cheese every couple months and live off of nachos for a week. There’s no reason to give up your favorite indulgences, but only if you continue to treat them as such and remember that food is more than just delicious…it’s our fuel and it’s our medicine.

The reason I love Danielle’s recipes is because she makes them using real ingredients. Her brownie mix doesn’t come from a box. Her soups aren’t from a can. Her veggies are fresh and in season, and at the peak of their flavor and nutritional value. This is how we should all eat in order to truly appreciate our food and to ensure proper nourishment of our bodies. And that doesn’t mean we have to get all fancy in the kitchen.

Monday, October 31, 2011

I'm Having Company!

I have a recent development for Consumed — I'm going to have my first guest blogger! I'm pretty stoked.

And she isn't just any old guest blogger...

I have been so lucky to call Lesia (lash-a) my friend for more than ten years now. You may also recognize her from the wedding pics that I posted this summer.

She was a fellow shipmate on one of the best adventures of my life, Semester at Sea. Since our adventure around the world in 2001, we kept in touch across the miles from Michigan to Philadelphia. And we've been through a lot together!

One thing Lash and I have always had in common is that we are both consumed with food! We share a desire to make thoughtful choices about how and what we eat, as well as where our food comes from.

Recently she took that a step further and decided to go back to school full time to become a registered dietitian. But I'll let her tell you more about that — for the record, I'm living vicariously through her!

I'm excited for Lesia to offer her perspective to Consumed, and I welcome her warmly to the blog! Make yourself at home, Lash!


Monday, October 24, 2011

Fancy Hasselback Potatoes

Elegant. Fancy. Downright classy.

No, I'm not describing the Real Housewives of New Jersey.

What's with all of these horrible Jersey shows anyway? I lived there for the first 18 years of my life and never met people who looked or acted like any of those broads! (For the record, I shamelessly DVR RHONJ each week.) Okay, and Jerseylicious too. Ahem.

By now you may have guessed that I was describing Hasselback Potatoes. These hot little numbers fulfill the potato's role as a reliable side dish, but also add a little panache to your plate. They're crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and full of flavor.


But don't thank me for this one. Thank the Swedes instead! Apparently this is an old Swedish recipe — their version of the baked potato. Leave it to the Swedes to gussy up a starch.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

On Apples

Without a doubt, October is my favorite month of the year. I love the smells, tastes, sights, weather, activities, clothes, and colors. And the apples. Apples, apples, apples.

Since I moved to Philly 6+ years ago, I've wanted to go apple picking at a cute little farm called Linvilla. They have pick-your-own all summer long — and I always manage to wait until prime apple picking season is over to decide that I want to go. Sad trombone.

This year, I was finally on the ball. And the stars aligned with perfect weather the first weekend of October — apple picking weather if I've ever seen it! Here's a few pictures from our adventure.


Isaac Newton? No. Just Brad. With a beard. But I think he was having a moment with the apples. Spiritual, I tell you.


Action shot. We picked mostly Stayman-Winesap apples. Coincidentally, this breed of apple originated in Kansas, just like my husband. Stayman-Winesaps are crisp and have a coarse texture and a spicy, wine-like taste. They keep well in the fridge and are great for eating fresh and for baking with. Okay, I'm done now with the history lesson now.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Slightly Sweet Cornbread

In my last post I promised you a cornbread recipe. I know — the suspense has been killing you, right? Well take a deep sign of relief because the time has come. 

Oh, and I want you to know that every time I type "cornbread", I'm actually thinking "caaawnbread." Ya'll.



I don't know about you, but I like texture in my cornbread — gimme some corn, jalapenos, bacon, whatever! This is a simple, sweet cornbread recipe that you can add mix-ins to as desired — I made it with spicy ribs, so I kept it simple. And delicious (duh).

Monday, October 3, 2011

Dr. Pepper Ribs

In an effort to send my husband into age 32 with a smile on his face and a happy belly, I made him a "birthday feast" last night (this is just what I like to call it — I thought it sounded more fun than "birthday dinner"). I try to mix it up from year to year, even though I'm pretty sure that he wouldn't complain if I made him a rib-eye and mashed potatoes each birthday. A simple man, Brad is. I, however, am less simple — typical. So for this year's feast I wanted to try something different.

At about the same time that I was looking for inspiration, I came across a recipe for Dr. Pepper Ribs on a blog called Homesick Texan. Never having made ribs before, I said "yes please!" and decided to go for it, adapting my recipe from HT's.



As always, I'm a firm believer in starting with high-quality, fresh, and local (when possible) ingredients. I buy most of my non-poultry meat at Martin's in the Reading Terminal Market — great prices, knowledgeable butchers, and I have never once been disappointed with a purchase!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Lowfat Baked Potato Soup

Fall has arrived, friends! And in its honor, I decided to start making some of the seasonal recipes that I've been printing and stacking. Excitement! For some reason Because I would be insane to heat up the house with my oven with any frequency in the summertime, I tend to eat very simply when it's warm out. Lots of fresh protein and veggies, often cooked outside on the roofdeck grill — which means not too much in the way of recipe experimentation.

But I'm back, baby. The windows are open and I can preheat the oven without sweating. Definitely a big part of why it's my favorite time of year.

Taking my wifely duties very seriously (ha!) I wanted to experiment with potato soup, which my husband loves. His mom, who is truly a champ at making delicious hot lunches, makes a potato soup that he loves. So I decided to work towards making one myself, and hopefully one that was low in fat — read: guilt-free!


This soup is also very economical, with potatoes running at around $0.69/pound. Throw in some aromatics, bacon slices, milk, and toppings, and you have yourself a hearty lunch or dinner that pairs great with a nice field greens salad with some kind of vinaigrette (I whisked together a fresh balsamic dressing).

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I Heart My Urban Produce Market

If I can manage it, I usually make a weekend trip to Iovine Brothers, an urban produce market in Reading Terminal. Not only do they carry a ton of marked, local produce, but their prices are fantastic!


Typically, Brad and I go on a Saturday morning, conveniently just before lunchtime. We trek over to the Terminal with canvas bags in hand, have a little lunch, and then hit up a few stands to scrounge up food for the week.

I've long been saying that I would like to post my loot from Iovine because I'm always so damn excited about how affordable their produce is. I think I might even have a reputation, in fact, for reciting all that I've bought and what I paid for everything.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Cherry Pancakes for Hurricane Irene

This week the east coast has had a few fun surprises from nature — an earthquake on Tuesday and now Hurricane Irene graces us this weekend. And you can't have Irene knocking on your door with nothing delicious to offer her. So for Pete's sake, be a polite host and have something wonderful to make for breakfast in her honor.

In addition to the usual bad weather must-haves like milk, eggs, bread, and batteries, I've also made sure to stock up on butter, flour, and cherries. Cherries, cherries, cherries. You know, just the necessities.



If you can find fresh, local cherries, this is the time to buy them! I found them for $0.99/pound last weekend and bought...ahem...7 pounds of them. Yeah, I know. But come on people. It's one time a year that I can get these tasty gems so fresh and inexpensively!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Pickled Cucumber Salad

During the work week, there's little that's more enjoyable than having dinner on the roof deck as the sun sets for the evening. For nights like these, we love to make something simple on the grill with a refreshing salad on the side. Easy, and it all fits on a tray that I can carry upstairs to the deck.

This pickled cucumber salad is a great summer alternative to a traditional green salad. And it's so easy that you can throw it together in minutes while the grill heats up.


And lately our favorite way to enjoy this salad is on the side of a delicious delmonico steak from Martin's in Reading Terminal. We share the steak and get our salad on — a super-easy meal in a snap!


We recently had a furry houseguest for a couple of weeks — Rosie agreed that this meal was fab!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Lime Curd Tart

Every now and then I crave a good curd. A homemade curd. A lime curd to be exact.

Alright, I'm lying. I've never really craved a good curd; however I think I will now that I've made my own.

I remembered seeing Ina making lime curd one episode — I believe for dipping long-stemmed strawberries into for a brunch. As it turns out, she also turned the curd into a tart filling and got another episode out of it. Genius!

I threw together said tart for my parents' annual party for the Festival of Ballooning, a big event that has been going on in their little town since they moved there in 1985.


Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the lime curd tart before 1) the sun went down, and 2) people ate half of it. Just keep that in mind for the photo above, mm'kay?

So back to the recipe. It takes delicious lime curd and fills a sweet shortbread crust to the brim with it. And if you're willing to do some patient stirring, you're going to see how easily the lime curd comes together.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Fresh Corn and Zucchini Cakes

I know. Zucchini again. But this stuff grows like a weed during the summer, and I can't seem to help buying a couple of pounds of it every weekend. And for your amusement the record, Brad doesn't like zucchini, and I don't like it by itself. But I really like it in stuff, so I actively seek ways to use it.

These savory little pancakes are so tasty and a snap to make. And they're a perfect snack or side for a summer dinner, either warm or at room temp. (They're 1 Point+ each if you're a Weight Watcher-er.)


Jersey corn was on sale at the produce stand. The sign said "bi-color" corn, but you be the judge...


Ahem. Two yellow kernels, huh? Fortunately it was still fresh, sweet, and delicious!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Banana Zucchini Walnut Bread

I spent a lot of time this past weekend bunkered up at home, hiding from the extreme heat that's been hanging around Philly. I know it's not the most logical thing to heat up the oven during a heat wave, but you have to go with it when the baking urge strikes!

I had an abundance of Jersey Fresh zucchini and some leftover bananas — have I mentioned that I can't eat bananas with any brown spots on them? They're just too...banana-y. Anyway, I was tossing around the idea of whether to make banana bread or zucchini bread when I thought to myself, "Self! Would it be possible to make a bread that uses both?" (FYI: Self said, "Try it!")



So I gave it a shot and really love the results! Maybe even more than your average zucchini or banana bread. With both of the ingredients thrown into one recipe, it has a nice balance of flavors without any one being too strong. I tried to limit the amount of oil and threw in some fiber for good measure too. All good things! (If you don't have whole wheat pastry flour, you can substitute regular white flour.)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Simple Rice Salad

I admit it. This sounds like a post that belongs on SNL's The Delicious Dish. I like rice. Rice is my favorite. But hear me out, people!

As you may know, it's July. As you may also know, it's not always enjoyable to eat piping hot food in the middle of summer. It's the perfect time for fresh salads, and this easy rice salad is great for summer meals.


Before I go on, I just want to note that I'm not really a big rice eater. In sushi or on the side of delicious Thai food, of course! But it's not really something that I consume much otherwise. However, I think I could get used to this salad being in the rotation!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

All-American Flag Cake

In a city where the Fourth of July is celebrated from June 24th through July 4th, you might imagine that we take the holiday pretty seriously. Let's just say that there are at least three nights of fireworks, food and all-you-can eat ice cream events, parades, festivals, and free concerts (hello Aaron Neville, Philly Pops, Sara Bareilles, The Roots, BOYZ II MEN — swoon! I'm 13 again! — Michael McDonald, and Earth, Wind, and Fire!). It's a lot to live up to!

This year I wanted to find a festive dessert but didn't want to go the usual route of raspberry and blueberry rows on top of a cake or tart. Instead I came across a fun idea in my Googling and decided to run with it.

White cake on the outside, maybe jazzed up with a little red, white, and blue sprinkle action.

And then on the inside? That's the part that you don't tell people about. Just let them find it when they cut a slice...


Martha Stewart would totally stick a few sparklers in this puppy. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I'm Baaack (and I'm a Mrs!)

...ahem...

So. I went away for a while. Like for over two months. I know. You see, things got a little harried in the home stretch before our wedding. I pretty much stopped baking and wasn't really cooking anything to write home about. I ate for nutrition instead of for pleasure. You know, like you're supposed to? Yeah. Boring!

At any rate, I am now a happily married woman. Here are a couple of my favorite pictures from the big day (photos by Sandor Welsh).

Mr. & Mrs. right after the ceremony

In front of the old Philadelphia Exchange Building

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Chocolate Cups with Vanilla Bean Mousse and Mango

Happy Easter! It seems like this past year I've managed to miss blogging about most major holidays (e.g., Thanksgiving and Christmas). I took the approach of simply not mentioning them and hoped you wouldn't notice. Did you?? I hope not! I've resolved to be much better about that this year.

I recently saw a fun little idea for an easy Easter dessert — dark chocolate cups that look like egg shells, and they're filled with smooth and creamy vanilla bean mousse and a dollop of mango puree to resemble an egg yolk.

 
Pretty cute for the occasion! And did I mention delicious?

Making these is a two-step process: First make the chocolate cups, and second whip up the mousse. Wait, there's a third and fourth step. Third you puree some ripe mango and dollop it in the center of each mousse cup. And fourth? Fourth you eat your heart out.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Low-fat Papaya Coconut Muffins

With the wedding around the corner, I haven't been baking much. Maybe it's a little cliche, but I'm trying to watch my figure and also detox a bit from "the white stuff." I came across this tasty recipe when I was poking around Gina's Skinny Recipes and loved that it was so low in fat, lower in sugar, and used whole wheat flour.

Plus, let's be honest. I was thrilled to have an excuse to purchase a papaya.


They're not much to look at from the outside, but they're beautiful on the inside! Never judge a papaya buy it's cover! Isn't that what they always say?

The batter for these muffins was the loveliest shade of pink thanks to the papaya puree. They were good warm out of the oven and for a day or two beyond.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Lime Cilantro Quinoa Salad

Let's just say that if cranberries are the ninja fruit, then quinoa (keen-wah) is the ninja grain! Oh, except it's not a grain — it's actually a seed. But it sure seems like a grain. Anyway, it's a great base for making salads that you can either serve as a main or side dish. For breakfast, lunch, or dinner, in fact!

Quinoa is great for vegans and vegetarians because it packs a lot of nutritional punch (protein, manganese, magnesium, iron, copper, and phosphorus). It's also a nice change of pace for carnivores like me, and you can take a lot of liberty with the dressing you use and ingredients you add. It's a very customizable base for whatever you can think up!


I adapted a recipe I saw on RadMegan's blog. It has nice flavor and will be a great salad for summer, when the herbs and tomatoes are growing in the garden and corn is fresh and local at farm stands! Furthermore, this recipe is quick to make and keeps nicely in the fridge for a few days.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

On Carrots

I fell in love last weekend. Don't worry, Brad didn't mind.

I stumbled across the most beautiful, organic, rainbow carrots at Reading Terminal Market (Iovine Brothers). Had to have them.


To maintain the integrity of these beauties, I simply chopped them into thick strips, tossed them with a little olive oil, kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper, and roasted them at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.

They made a fab side dish for braised short ribs!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring Ahead and Enhancements!

Happy Spring to everyone in the blogosphere! What spring means to me:
  • Time to start planning my herb/veggie garden.
  • More daylight, which means I might be able to photograph things I cook after work. Natural light definitely makes food look the most attractive, so I am glad to have more of it!
  • The start of grilling season. I really heart grilling, and we now have a sweet roof deck to grill on!
  • My favorite seasonal produce. About now, I start dreaming about berries, melon, cherries, asparagus, basil, green beans, mint, strawberries, zucchini, and more. Drool.
  • I'm getting married! By the time summer hits, I will already be a Mrs. !!!

And as for the enhancement, I wanted to let you know that I've made a nice addition to Consumed that I'm rather excited to share with you. Ready for it?

Drumroll please...(how does one type out a drumroll?)

At the end of each recipe post, there now will be a link to the recipe in printable format. Like so:


I told you this was exciting!

Over the next couple of weeks I'll be back-filling previously posted recipes. So feel free to revisit any of your former favorites to print off a copy for safe-keeping.

Happy spring, and I hope you have a delicious week!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Irish Potato Candy

As a resident of Philadelphia for over 5 years now, I've come to know a lot about foods that have roots in Philly. There's the cheesesteak (duh, whiz wit please!), root beer, the soft pretzel, the hoagie, Italian ice, Tastykakes, pork roll, Peanut Chews, and oh yeah — scrapple! (If you don't know what scrapple is, maybe just leave it alone...)

One more on the list of Philly faves: Irish potato candy.


There's nothing inherently Irish about these candies unless you count the fact that they look like potatoes. Note that they look like potatoes, but do not taste like potatoes. They taste like an injection of sweet, coconut-y deliciousness. Such a confused confection, no?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Monkey Bars

If you thought this post was about playground equipment, I hate to disappoint you! However, if you make this tasty bread, you might be willing to forgive me.


I brought this glorified (albeit delicious!) banana bread into work for our weekly staff meeting, where I made the mistake of calling it "monkey bread". Well, everyone got unusually excited, and I was confused by how my glorified banana bread managed to incite such a reaction. Turns out monkey bread is something else. Ever hear of it?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Restaurant Review: Sampan

Sampan on Urbanspoon

My mom was at a conference for nurse practitioners right in Center City Philly — how convenient! I met up with her after work to do a little window-shopping and enjoy a little dinner. As we moseyed around, we found ourselves near the always-enjoyable 13th Street shopping.

Dinnertime approached, and we decided to be adventurous and try something new. The unique exterior of Sampan drew our attention, and we decided to give it a shot.


The restaurant had a very cool vibe, nice seating, and an urban feel. The tree wall (pictured above in the upper right) changed colors every few minutes, which was an unexpected touch. This restaurant also has a lot of different nooks throughout it — it seems like a fun place to have a few happy hour libations.

Speaking of libations, my favorite part of our dinner at Sampan was the delicious drink I ordered called Ume Tea. It was Pearl Plum Vodka, oolong tea, and lime, and man was it tasty. A delicious glass of home-brewed herbal iced tea is on my list of favorite things, so this was right up my alley.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Homemade Kit Kat Bars

Lately I haven't been indulging the sweet, confectionate (did I just make up that word?) side of Consumed, so here's one to write home about.

You know what I say to regular old store-bought Kit Kat bars? Give me a break!


Who needs to buy manufactured and precisely perforated candy that is full of preservatives when you can simply create the deliciousness in the comforts of your own kitchen? And they're no-bake to boot!

I made these for the first time for my twin cousins Andie and Lauren's 17th birthday party. (It's still hard for me to understand how it is that these girls are 17. That makes me...old. But I digress.)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sesame Orange Shrimp

This technique is a must try if you like shrimp. It is a pretty healthful dish, speedy quick to make, and most importantly so tasty! It's even worth me suffering through one of my least favorite cooking chores — peeling and deveining shrimp.

Usually I grill shrimp or add them to a stir fry, but I was in the mood for something new. After some thoughtful Googling, I came across a few recipes (one from Martha, another from Eating Well) that used similar ingredients and techniques. And it's surprisingly light for how fried the shrimp taste!



Serve this shrimp over brown or white rice with a nice side of something green to get a little veg in. Brad and I both loved this dish — B said that it tasted like really high-quality Chinese food (i.e., from a good restaurant). And you don't have to worry about consuming any excess oil a la deep-fry, breading the shrimp, or any of that mess. Eat up, people! 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Pasta Bake Time

My Italian side came out a little this weekend, so I decided that our Sunday dinner would be a nice baked pasta. Ever notice how the Italians (as an Italian, I can say this!) love to describe food as "nice"?

"I got a nice steak at the butcher."

"I made a nice salad with dinner."

"That's-a nice-a meat-a ball-a!"

But I digress. Back to the pasta bake.


The beauty of making such a dish is that it's very flexible and can be modified according to your preferences. By adding a lot of veggies and using reduced fat cheese, it's also pretty healthful! You could even sub in half whole wheat pasta if you wanted to up your fiber ante.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Get Your Popcorn Ready

Like T.O. infamously said, "Get your popcorn ready."

Homemade popcorn is like homemade marshmallows — you had no clue that making it fresh would be so much more delicious from the store-bought version. Make that popcorn kettle corn, and be prepared to eat the whole bowl. "What popcorn? No, I didn't make any popcorn..."



One of my favorite recent purchases is the West Bend Stir Crazy popcorn maker — we got ours for $20 at Target around Christmas even though we had registered for it. We didn't want to wait any longer!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

S'mores Birthday Brownies

Oh yeah. You read that right.


These chocolaty, homemade brownies with graham crackers and a toasted marshmallow top are pretty fantastic.


Now, I'm not necessarily a die-hard chocolate lover, but I had one in mind when I made the brownies. January 14th was the 2nd birthday of Tyler James, my soon-to-be nephew, son of my best friend since high school, and cutest little boy I know. And his momma is one of the biggest chocolate lovers I know, so I'm sure she has him in training!

Not-To-Be-Forgotta Veggie Frittata

Thanks to the unusual amounts of snow we've had so far this winter, I've had a few weekdays spent at home. My favorite part about breakfast at home is that you have an opportunity to make something really delicious, easy, and — most importantly — healthful!


I just don't find packets of oatmeal, yogurts, and other portable breakfast items to be nearly as satisfying. But with this frittata, I often just snack on some fruit mid-day and don't eat again until dinner!

This easy frittata is another great and simple idea for breakfast for one. It's especially great for when you're flying solo and want something filling, healthy, and full of veg! It can also be made for two or more — just double the ingredients and use a medium pan instead.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Doughnut Muffins

So the last post was the "nice" recipe that I made for our breakfast meeting at work. This one for doughnut muffins is clearly the naughty one. That's right — I'm living on the edge.

These muffins were very tasty and nice to satisfy a sweet tooth in the morning. I'm not a big doughnut person, but I was told that they had a similar taste and texture as a cake doughnut. And you don't even need fry anything. Score.

A pair of doughnut muffins enjoying the view.

These muffins also transported well, so they were pretty easy for me to lug into work on my city commute.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lowfat Banana Oatmeal Bread

I don't know about you, but I can't eat a banana once any spots have made their appearance — it's just too sweet for my taste. Bananas in such a state, however, are perfect for baking and don't necessarily need to end up in the trash!

They have a lot more character with their spots too, don't they?


For our last monthly staff meeting (which turned into a breakfast meeting), I wanted to bake up a couple of things to add to the spread. I decided to make something naughty and something nice — the bananas were used for the nice recipe, of course.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Steal Your Face

One of the managers in my department (who will remain nameless to protect the innocent) accepted a position in another division of the company. For his special surprise farewell lunch, I wanted to make sugar cookies so we wouldn't have to buy dessert at the restaurant (and so they would have a personal touch of course).

I asked around for some of his favorite things to figure out what shape cookies to make — turns out the guy is a Dead Head. So I used the artwork from the Steal Your Face album as my inspiration.


I baked up dozens of circles using my favorite sugar cookie recipe, and then I sketched out a plan to decorate them. I used four colors — black, white, red, and blue, and piped each color on in stages.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Chilly Charlie's Chili

Year after year, my (very awesome) dad (whose birthday happens to be today — happy birthday Dad!) would throw together a ginormous batch of chili and cornbread before Christmas to bring into work as his holiday gesture to his co-workers.

I can still picture the huge white stock pot on the stove with delicious splatters everywhere. And we had dinner out of the pot the night before the rest of the chili made its way to his office.

Over the years I've modified his base recipe to make my own version. It's surprisingly healthy, very tasty, and simple to boot — a perfect recipe to put together on a Sunday morning. Just throw everything in the slow cooker, let it all percolate for a few hours, and it'll be ready in time for the Playoff games Sunday afternoon!


The line-up of ingredients is pretty long, but everything is flexible depending on your personal preferences and the audience that you're feeding.

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