Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Balsamic Mushrooms and Chicken

Mushrooms are weird. They're technically a fungus which is weird. When considering nutrition though, are they technically a vegetable? There was a simpler time when anything yucky looking or sounding could be assumed to be a vegetable. That time was called childhood. The only place where mushrooms would crop up was in my dad's pasta sauce or on a supreme pizza. Both acceptable places to hide mushrooms amongst other tastier things like cheese.

 Now you know you're an adult when you actively pursue mushrooms: portobello burgers, grilled cheese with mushrooms, homemade supreme pizzas and straight up mushrooms by themselves! I made an egg scramble a couple weeks ago using some mushrooms and balsamic vinegar and it was devine. So I decided to recreate the experiment with a dinner version. Chicken form still included plus some parsley for extra pinache.

In a frying pan, diced chicken is browned after marinating in balsamic vinegar. While the chicken is browning on one side, slice up some mushrooms. Apparently there are different kinds of mushrooms besides portobello and 'other' but let's not get too fancy by knowing names. I think these are button mushrooms? Or cremini? Basically any mushroom will do.

 Once the chicken is browned on both sides, add the mushrooms and another dash of balsamic, just to be safe. Chop up some parsley because we're fancy like that. Add to the skillet, reduce heat and cover to let the chicken cook completely. Oh and there's some garlic in there too! I definitely added this as an afterthought but I recommend adding it with conviction earlier in the process.

 I served this up with some quinoa (go big or go home on the adult front). And now I have lunch for the week!

  • 6 small mushrooms sliced (possibly cremini, possibly button, could do portobello but recommend the smaller varieties)
  • Diced chicken (however much you'd like, really)
  • 1 Tablespoon parsley, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • Coconut oil (or vegetable oil) for browning
  • Quinoa or rice as a side
  1. Pour balsamic vinegar over the chicken. Not too much, the chicken will be cooking in it so 2 Tablespoons should suffice.
  2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant.
  3. Add the chicken to the pan, reducing heat if the oil splatters too much.
  4. Brown the chicken on both sides before adding the mushrooms.
  5. Add the mushrooms and parsley to the pan, reducing heat to a simmer. Cover and allow to cook until the chicken is cooked through.
  6. Meanwhile, you can cook rice or quinoa to pair with the mushroom chicken.
  7. Once the chicken and mushrooms are cooked, serve with the quinoa/rice or refrigerate for lunch/dinner later.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

A couple weeks ago, I reintroduced Muffin Monday to the blog and introduced it for the first time to my office here in London. Since then, I've been traveling on the weekends, going to festivals and weddings (which are kind of like festivals, right?) so haven't had an opportunity to make more muffins.

 Well, I guess I've learned the acceptable gap in Muffin Mondays because I 100% got called out for talking up Muffin Monday and then only bring muffins 'like one time'. So here are some more muffins! And I'm brainstorming some more...but am traveling again over the weekend so another brief hiatus in the Muffin Monday might occur.

 I wasn't sure how much flour I had left so I looked up oatmeal muffins first. However, the recipe I initially chose required the oats to soak for 8-12 hours and ain't nobody got time for that. I might have time for that in the future but not this time. Fortunately, I had exactly enough flour to complete this recipe! Serendipitous. And no butter measurements required, woohoo!

 Flour, oats, sugar, salt, and baking powder are mixed together in a large bowl. In a measuring cup, whisk together one egg, vegetable oil and milk until smooth. Pour into the large bowl with the flour mixture, stirring until combined  and no flour can be seen. Fold in the blueberries last.

 Fill your prepared muffin tin about 2/3 full in each cup and top with cinnamon-sugar.

Remember how I said I wasn't very functional in the morning? Well, I made these first thing on a Sunday morning and when I got to making the topping, I mixed equal parts cinnamon and sugar. That's a lot of cinnamon. Fortunately, I realized my mistake and added more sugar before topping the muffins. Now I have a bunch of cinnamon-sugar leftover but there are worse things to have.

 Bake for about 20-25 minutes, depending on your oven strength, or until firm. Allow to cool slightly before unwrapping, otherwise the muffin bottoms might stick to the paper. Still delicious, but less graceful to eat.

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 3/4 cup blueberries
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  1. Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a muffin tin with paper cups (or grease the pan well) and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, oats, sugar (just the 1/2 cup), salt and baking powder.
  3. In a measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together the egg, milk and oil. Pour into the bowl with the dry ingredients.
  4. Mix the batter with a spoon until combined and no flour can be seen.
  5. Fold in the blueberries.
  6. In a small bowl, mix the 2 Tablespoons of sugar and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon. Stir with a small spoon until evenly mixed.
  7. Fill the muffin tin about 2/3 full of batter. Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar mix on top to lightly coat.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden-brown and cooked through.
  9. Allow to cool slightly before serving. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Cherry Chocolate Shake

I am not exactly what you would call a 'morning person'. I get this from my mom, neither of us are very functional when we first wake up. For her, she needs about three cups of coffee to carry on a conversation. For me, I just need a little bit of time and some food.

Unfortunately, brain power is needed to make breakfast so except on weekends when I lay in bed for awhile first, I zombie to the kitchen for a quick breakfast solution. In high school, this meant a bowl of cereal or some Eggo waffles. Now, it's for a shake I've prepared the night before.

Okay, yes, technically, this is a protein shake but don't run away! It's not a hulk out muscle protein shake, it's basically an excuse to have a faux-milkshake for breakfast! I've seen these called freakshakes as well and I think that's also exciting.

Usually, I make this the night before which allows the shake to become nice and thick. But it's so simple, you could easily make it half-awake in the morning. Simply blend coconut milk (which is slightly sweeter than almond milk), pitted cherries (maybe pit them when fully conscious), chocolate protein powder and avocado. You can't taste the avocado but it makes the shake thick just like a milk shake. Frozen bananas have a similar effect. I also add spinach, as long as you blend it for a good minute, you can't tell there's spinach in there as it doesn't add taste, just greens!

 My go-to protein is from Arbonne and is entirely plant based. I've tried other plant-based protein powders and they do not taste nearly as good. They also have a vanilla protein powder, more recipes with that to come!

  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk (or almond milk)
  • 1/2 cup cherries (pitted)
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 2 scoops Arbonne chocolate protein powder (or protein powder of your choice)
  • Handful of spinach (if desired)
  1.  Add ingredients to a blender. I usually add the milk first, then powder followed by spinach, avocado and fruit. If using a ninja-like blender, I put the solids closer to the blade so everything is blended smoothly.
  2. Blend until smooth. Refrigerate overnight for extra thickness.
  3. Enjoy in the AM, straight outta bed. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Orange Poppyseed Muffins

As you know, my baking pan situation of late is somewhat diminished. This hasn't stopped the creation of delicious baked goods and healthy meals though! But it is hard to supplement for a muffin pan. I was hanging out with coworkers after going trampolining (it's a real thing) and somehow muffins came up and I did this impression of the Gingerbread Man from Shrek being interrogated (around 30 second mark for the muffin man bit):

It was certainly amusing to them although not everyone knew what I was talking about so it was slightly embarrassing for me. But that brought us to the old tradition of Muffin Monday where I would bring muffins to work on Mondays. Offended that I hadn't done so yet in London, I explained to them that I didn't have a muffin pan. Desperate for muffins, a colleague offered up her never-been-used-and-unlikely-to-ever-be-used muffin pan to the cause.

And so, Muffin Monday returns!! I've been wanting to make poppyseed muffins for awhile because lemon poppyseed is irresisitable to me but the woman who donated the muffin pan favors orange poppyseed so I was happy to oblige. It really  just involved switching lemon zest and orange zest, nbd.

Sugar and orange zest are combined, the basic step in making a homemade scrub (in case you were wondering). You start to smell the orange fragrance enhance immediately. Set that aside, taking some good deep whiffs first. In a separate bowl, we get the dry ingredients and in yet another bowl, the wet ingredients (butter not included yet). The dry ingredients should be in the largest bowl because we're adding everything to this. First the sugar mixture gets stirred in.

Then the butter is cut into the flour mixture. I no longer have a pastry cutter but a knife, fork or your fingers work just fine. Dig a little well in the flour and pour in the wet ingredients. This is where the muscles come into play. Stir and stir and stir some more (add some folding in there for good measure) until everything is combined. Don't forget to add the poppyseeds once the batter starts to take form.

This batter got sticky and thick the more I combined the ingredients. I could see the magic happening. One problem I have with cold cut butter is the fact that I always end up with chunks of butter that melt and cook differently than when the butter is creamed. Alas, muffins still worked their magic but it was interesting to watch them bake up in different ways as a result.

These didn't taste overly orangey to me, I barely noticed the citrus in the final product. But I suppose lemon poppyseed muffins can be pretty mild on the citrus front as well. If you wanted to get really fancy, you could make a citrus glaze with orange juice (or lemon juice) and powdered sugar. 

adapted from Shutterbean
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Juice from 1 orange (or 2 lemons)
  • 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • Zest from 1 orange (or 2 lemons)
  • 3/4 cup of butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 3 Tablespoons poppyseeds
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F (or 190C). Line your muffin tin and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and zest. Stir with a fork until the zest is mixed in completely. The sugar should clump together as it takes on the moisture from the zest.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, yogurt, vanilla and juice.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add the citrus sugar to the mix and stir to combine.
  5. Cut in the cold butter until a coarse meal forms.
  6. Create a well in the flour mixture and pour in the wet ingredients.
  7. Stir in the citrus sugar. Stir until the ingredients are all mixed together and no flour is visible.
  8. Fold in the poppyseeds.
  9. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling each cup 1/2-3/4 of the way (you can adjust on the second round for a fuller muffin if needed).
  10. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.
  11. The recipe should make 12 large muffins but I ended up with about 30 small muffins instead.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Brownie Cake

The town I grew up in was small. Half-way through high school, we moved from the downright rural outskirts to the hoppin' town center whose main attractions were an old one-room movie theater and a Starbucks. Like the cool teenagers we were, we frequently met at Starbucks to not drink coffee because we didn't like it yet but to have very sugary non-coffee drinks and eat the pastries. One such pastry was a mint-chocolate brownie that I described at the time as tasting like it had all the love in the world baked into it.

Fast forward 10 years (oh goodness) and I'll take my Starbucks as plain as you please except sometimes with caramel because my young heart likes to honor my 16 year-old self's obsession with the stuff. Starbucks doesn't have that mint brownie anymore but I was reminded of it as I made this brownie cake in a heart-shaped pan. My pan selection has greatly diminished since moving abroad but it means I make due with what's available. Realistically, the brownies were going to be cut up anyways so a heart-shaped pan worked just fine.

This recipe is from Joy the Baker's second cookbook, Homemade Decadence. I happened to have all the ingredients except for chocolate chips so I skipped those. Otherwise, I relished the fact that my kitchen is officially stocked with all the requirements for baked goods on a whim. It even looks like butter has been conquered!!

As always, the sugar and butter are creamed together in one bowl. The eggs are then added to this mixture. The recipe calls for two large eggs but I had mixed size British eggs. One of them had two yolks so I decided it was alright to just use two and also good luck?

In a separate bowl, the dry ingredients are mixed together. I still don't own a whisk so I used a fork to incorporate all that cocoa powder. Slowly, the dry ingredients are added to the wet and stirred well. The batter should be nice and glossy, no flour streaks!

The batter is then spooned into the greased pan, whether it's a heart or a square, and baked until chocolatey and delicious. Although I didn't add chocolate chips, the brownies were still nice and fudgy. So think of good things, good vibes while making these brownies so they'll taste extra good.


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch round pie dish or a square or a heart. Set aside.
  2. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.
  3. In medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, melted butter, eggs and vanilla.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, folding until combined. You can also add chocolate chips or nuts at this point, folding in to combine.
  5. Pour the batter into the baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes until cooked through.
  6. Allow to cool before removing from pan (or serve from pan). Serve with ice cream or whipped cream for extra love!