Newlyweds navigating their way through married life – and the kitchen

Monthly Archives: June 2012

S'More Truffles

Who invented S’More’s anyway?

Graham cracker + marshmallow + chocolate + campfire (or candle fire) + tree stick = a favorite summer time treat around the world.  But seriously, who thought of this?

Well whoever it was, kudos to you!  This trio of ingredients isn’t exclusive of the summer – it can be eaten year round.  And as these truffles will prove, can be eaten without the fire or the stick!

S’More Truffles

INGREDIENTS
*yields 12-14 Truffles

1/2 block (4 oz) reduced fat cream cheese

1 cup of fluffenutter

1 package of graham crackers
(there are three packages in a box)

1/2 lb. of milk or dark chocolate squares
(you could  use chocolate chips as well)

1)  In a food processor, pulse the cream cheese, fluff and graham crackers until it becomes a dough-like consistency.  You will have to stop a couple of times in between to scrape the dough from the sides so that all the ingredients will mix together.  It gets a bit ‘sticky’ as you can imagine!

2) Once the dough has formed, remove from the food processor, place in a small bowl, cover with foil or seran wrap and chill for at least 1/2 hour (I chilled overnight, but 1/2 hour should do it).  This will help to roll the dough into balls.

3) After the dough has chilled, take a tablespoon and roll tablespoon sized balls of dough between the palms of your hands until rounded.  Place on a sheet with wax paper.

4)  Melt your chocolate in a double boiler (or in a microwave) and dip each rolled ball into the chocolate and place back on the wax paper to dry.

5)  Sprinkle tops with crushed graham crackers if you like.

6)  STUFF IT!

Soft and chewy s’mores, without the sticky fingers and bug spray!  I used dark chocolate, and I think next time I would definitely use Milk – I just think with a s’more it tastes more ‘natural’, but it’s really your preference.

So for those of you that enjoy a hot, fresh-off-the-campfire s’more while telling ghost stories, you’ll love these.  And for those of you ‘non-campers’ out there who enjoy s’mores from the comfort of their air conditioned living room, you will REALLY love these!  No bug bites!

 S'More Truffles


Buffalo Chicken Salad

Anyone whose been reading this litte blog for a while can probably sense that I have a slight obsession with all things Buffalo Chicken – there were the egg rolls – there were the stuffed peppers – I’ve even thought about incorporating it into dessert (Buffalo Chicken Ice Cream anyone? eh – nah, scratch that idea).

I haven’t always been a Buffalo Chicken lover, but my tastebuds have really come to love a little zing from that orangey glow on a chicken wing or pizza with hot sauce.  So I’ve tried to bring it home to our kitchen and experiment with it as much as possible. The nice thing with Buffalo Chicken too,  is that you can add it’s flavoring to food while still keeping the dish healthy.

So when thinking of what was going to be on the menu for my brown bag lunch this week, I thought “Hmm, chicken salad is a great summer sandwich option” – my co-worker Paula who is my lunch time bud always makes her own and I always think to myself that I should do the same.  Making your own can be nice because you can regulate the amount of mayo that goes in it – I personally only like just a smidgen of it.  While the chicken was cooking though and I was watching Sunday’s episode of Jersey Housewives for the third time in two days, I thought “BUFFALO Chicken Salad would be amazing!”.  So with a dash of this, and a smidge of that, here you have it ladies and gents, Buffalo Chicken Salad.  It’s def a keeper 🙂

Buffalo Chicken Salad

INGREDIENTS
yields about 6 – 1/2 cup servings

3 cups of cooked chicken
( I used 2 large split chicken breasts and used the meat from those – I’d say it was about 3/4 of a lb – 1lb total – but you could just use boneless skinless breasts as well)

3 stalks of celery, diced

1 bunch of scallions minced

5 tbsp. light mayonnaise

1 tbsp. Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix
(just the dry mix – you don’t have to make the dressing)

4 tbsp. of Frank’s Hot Sauce
(or more if you like it spicier)

Salt and Pepper to taste

1) Dice up the cooked chicken into your desired size and place in a large mixing bowl.  Set aside.

2)  In a small mixing bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, HVR dressing mix, Frank’s and salt and pepper until fully combined.  Feel free to add Frank’s as you feel necessary.

3)  Add the celery and chopped scallions to the cubed chicken and then toss the chicken/celery/scallion mixture with the dressing.  Let chill for at least 1/2 hour or overnight.

You can serve this on a nice bulkie roll or even just on plain pieces of lettuce if you want to save some extra calories.  Oh is it yum – and fairly healthy as well.  (1/2 cup serving is just about 3 WW points).

Who said you couldn’t spice up your life and your lunch?

Buffalo Chicken Salad


Rasberry Lemonade-gria

Would you find ‘Lemonade-gria’ in Webster’s Dictionary? Mmm, probably not.  But making up words is fun!  And so is making up cocktails – this Lemonade-gria is a perfect combination of the refreshing taste of Lemonade and Sangria – and it’s light and low on calories, at only 5 WW points per serving!

Rasberry Lemonade-gria

INGREDIENTS
*yields six glasses

1 bottle sauvignon blanc

2 shots of vodka

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
(about 2-3 large lemons)

1/4 cup Rasberry infused simple syrup
(recipe below)

1 cup water

seltzer water
(I used lemon flavored)

1 small container of rasberries

1-2  lemons sliced for garnish

Ingredients for Rasberry Infused Simple Syrup

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup stevia
(6 individual packets)

1 small container of fresh rasberries

1) To make simple syrup: Combine the 1/4 cup of water, 1/4 cup of stevia and rasberries in a small sauce pan.  Mash the rasberries with the bottom of a wooden spoon to infuse the juice of the rasberries, and simmer with other ingredients for about 3-5 mintues.  Strain fruit from syrup and let cool.

Rasberry Lemonade-gria

Rasberry Lemonade-gria

2)  To make Lemonade’gria-  In a large pitcher, combine the sauvignon blanc, vodka, lemon juice, water and simple syrup and mix together.  Add the rasberries and lemon slices and chill for 4-6 hours or overnight.  (the longer the better!)

Rasberry Lemonade-gria

3)  Pour 1 cup of the mixture in a glass with ice and top the rest off with seltzer water.  Garnish with lemon.

 Cheers to healthy cocktails and made up words!


Black Bean Brownie Bites

There’s a real disconnect in our house regarding dessert – I live for it – Dave can live without it.  Has it sent us to marriage counseling? Not yet – yet being the operative word.  I don’t know about any of you out there, but I’m kind of a follower when it comes to dessert, because after you’ve finished a huge meal, dessert really can be excessive.  But even if it’s just a little bite of chocolate, or scoop of ice cream, it just makes the meal complete!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to Dave “Let’s go get ice cream” (LET’S go get it) and we get to the ice cream shop, wait in line, and we get to the counter and Dave says “Oh I don’t want anything, but you get what you want!” and I don’t know why this makes me angry, maybe because Dave just doesn’t have it in his genetic code that being done with dinner means what’s for dessert? Or that I feel  like a fattyboomblatty being the one in the party of two that gets a double scoop of mint chip in a chocolate dipped waffle cone.  But, nevertheless, dessert is like the 6th food group for me.

My friend/former roommate Leslie introduced this to me the first week she moved into our apartment.  She’s gorgeous – tall – thin – beautiful skin – nicest person you’ll probably ever meet in your life, and she has some amazing healthy eating tricks up her sleeve.  I rememeber coming home one night, and the smell of brownies was wafting through our apartment, and I thought YES! BROWNIES! Then Leslie told me that not only are they brownies, they’re healthy brownies.  And I said “Get out of town”.  So I ate one.  Man, was it good.  I couldn’t see how a brownie that tasted so good could be healthy.  And then she told me that she made them with two ingredients:  a box of brownie mix and a can or pureed black beans.  And after I lifted my jaw off the ground, I shoved another brownie in my mouth, because hey! They’re healthy! Why not!

So, in my attempt to get back on the band wagon after NC Calorie Fest 2012 (as Buddy coined it), here are these delicious and nutritious Brownie Bites made with Black Beans.

INGREDIENTS
*yields 36 brownie bites or 24 regular sized brownies

1 Box of your favorite brownie mix

1 can of black beans

1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2) Rinse the black beans and then return them to the can, filling it up with fresh water.

3)  Dump the water and black beans into a food processor and pulse until fully pureed.

4)  In a large mixing bowl, combine brownie mix and pureed black beans/water until mixed (will appear a bit lumpy).

Black Bean Brownie Bites

5)  Spray a 13×9 baking dish, or mini-muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Fill the baking dish with the brownie batter, or if you’re using a mini-muffin pan, fill each slot with 1/2 tbsp. of brownie batter.

6)  Bake for about 10 minutes (in mini-muffin tin) or designated baking time on back of the brownie box for 13×9.  Let cool for about 10 minutes in the pan, as they will be a bit dense and hard to remove when hot.

Black Bean Brownie Bites

Ohhhh my these are tasty – they’re low fat, full of fiber and protein, you get your chocolate fix, and they’re so cute!  Thank-you Leslie for turning me on to this amazingly awesome little “secret” recipe.  And my hips thank you too 🙂

Black Bean Brownie Bites


Lime Grilled Chicken Kabobs

Hey folks!  Been a few days, I know.  Charlotte was a blast – we ate, we drank, we boated – and now that my ankles have de-swelled from all the beer, Chick fil’a, barbecue and mexican food, I think it’s time  for some healthier alternatives for a bit.  The south is definitely a GREAT place to visit (as long as you’ve got a nice pair of drawstring pants with you!).

It’s now summer, fo’ real, so summer grilling can fully commence!  I’ll admit that I rarely make Kabobs, and honestly I don’t know why – they’re easy – they’re pretty – you can do so many different things with them – it’s one compact little meal on a stick! How can you beat that?

I’ve really been loving lime juice lately for a lot of things (not just margaritas) and this marinade for the chicken in the kabobs was delicious and practically calorie free!  It had a little tang, but the brown sugar cut it just a bit.  Delish.

Lime Grilled Chicken Kabobs

INGREDIENTS

1 lb 98% fat free chicken boneless breasts, cut into 1″ pieces

juice of 8 limes

4 small – medium garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp. chili powder

2 tsp. cumin

2 tsp. light brown sugar

salt and pepper to taste

10 (approximately) bamboo sticks, soaked in water for about 1/2 hour

Veggies of your choice, cut into 1″ pieces
(I used a zuccini, yellow squash and red pepper)

1) Cut chicken  breast into 1″ pieces – set aside.

2) Whisk together lime juice, minced garlic, chili powder, cumin, brown sugar and salt and pepper.  This will yield about 1/2 cup of marinade.  Separate into 1/4 cup for the veggies and 1/4 cup for the chicken.

3)  In a large ziplock bag or bowl, pour the marinade over the chicken pieces and let marinade for at least 1/2 hour, up to overnight (the longer the better – this was a post-work recipe so naturally we didn’t have as much time to marinade as I would have liked).  Then do the same with the veggies.

4) Soak your bamboo sticks in water for at least 1/2 hour, so they don’t burn on the grill.

5)  Assemble the kabobs alternating chicken/veggie/chicken until all kabobs are made.

Lime Grilled Chicken Kabobs

6)  Cook on grill over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes, alternating sides every few minutes.  Serve with a yummy starch like rice or potatoes!

I have to admit, I cheated and used our stove-top grill pan as we have a charcoal grill and sometimes it seems to take foreverrrrr to light – as mentioned in a previous post, I get pretty hangry (Hungry + Angry) if I have to wait too long for dinner, but they were equally as delish on the stove top grill!

So gentlemen (and ladies) start your engines (and your grills!)

Lime Grilled Chicken Kabobs


Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ve never considered myself much of a jetsetter, but this weekend, that will all change.  Because I will be jetsetting to Charlotte, NC for just shy of 72 hours to visit my cousin Catherine. 

I’m not one for politics – I think I’ve only voted in one election since I turned 18 and when the conversation turns to politics at the lunch table at work, I usually slyly pull my chair away from the table and scoot back to my desk.  Now if you wanted to discuss the Kardashians or who the bitchiest housewife was, I’d be all ears!

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

Catherine, Buddy and I in Dublin, 2007, posing with a nice Irish gentlemen that we decided reminded us of our Uncle Tommy

My cousin Catherine however, political ROCKSTAR! She did a semester in D.C. in College, then moved there after she graduated and started working for a lobbyist that works with Afflac  (she scored some amazing Duck chachkis as a result of this) and now, she’s living in Charlotte, planning the Democratic National Convention coming up in September – how freaking awesome is that?  She moved there last June, and I promised myself that I would get down there to visit, and before I knew it, a year had gone by, and I realized that her time in the ‘linas was limited! So I booked myself a ticket, told Dave to behave and hopefully not break any limbs at his downhill mountain bike race in VT, and now I’m “goneee to carolinaaa in my mindddddd” AND Catherine’s brother, my cousin “Buddy” (we’ve called him this since birth – his real name ‘Chris’ will never be used by me, even when he’s 40 with children) is making the trip too.  Catherine and I went to visit Buddy while he was studying abroad in Ireland a few years ago, and if this weekend’s trip is anything like that one, we’re in for an epic couple of days!

I had these chocolate chip cookies at my cousin Charlie’s graduation party a couple of weeks ago, and shockingly enough, they weren’t Ina’s! I told my aunt Nancy I needed the recipe, stat.  I haven’t met many chocolate chip cookies that I didn’t like, however, these were beyond good. 

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
From Baking Illustrated

INGREDIENTS

2 cups plus 2 tbsp. unbleached all purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

12 tbsp (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm

1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1-1.5 cups semisweet chocolate chips
(I used a combo of chips and chunks)

1) Adjust the oven racks to the upper and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 325 degrees.  Line 2 large baking sheets w/ parchment paper or non-stick cooking spray.

2) Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.

3) In a standing mixer with the paddle attachment (or hand mixer), mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk and vanilla until combined.  Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed  until just combined.  Stir in chips.  (Dough will be somewhat soft)

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

4)  Take 1/4 cup of the dough and roll into a ball.  Hold the dough ball with the fingertips of both hands and pull into 2 halves.  Rotate the halves 90 degrees so the smooth side is on the bottom and the jagged surfaces are facing up.  Then join the 2 halves together at the base, forming a single ball again, with jagged edges facing up.

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

*This sounds strange, but I think it really does make a difference in the shape/texture of the cookies.  I tried to take pics of the process as best I could with doughy hands, however, here is the scanned illustration from the ‘professionals’.  You can click on it to enlarge.

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

5) Place dough balls on prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 2.5 inches apart.  Rotate the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom half way through the baking time.

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

6)  Bake until cookies are golden brown around the edges, while still soft and puffy in the center, about 15-18 minutes. Cool cookies on the baking sheets and then once they’re cooled, remove w/ a wide metal spatula.

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I know this particular recipe for C.C. cookies sounds a little involved, however, it’s really not much more effort and I truly think the extra steps make a big difference in the shape, texture and taste of the cookies.  Perfect amount of chewy and crispiness.  Thanks Nance!

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

So now, I’ve already had one of these for breakfast, and will probably have 1-2 more on my plane ride, so maybe by the time I actually land in NC, they’ll be a couple left for Catherine and Buddy 🙂 Not making any promises though

 


Tomato, Cucumber and Feta Salad

On several occasions these past few months, I have feared that an apocalypse is nearing the city of Boston, because MAN has the weather been GORGE!  This winter was beyond strange – I think we had a full week of 80 degree weather in March and after last year’s weekly 8-12 inches of snow, even the lightest of flurries didn’t last more than a few hours this year.  We’ve had some rain recently, but personally, I enjoy a rainy day or two – justifying extreme couching and Bravo t.v. watching is a lot easier when the weather is ick.  And, the ‘greenness’ of everything is beyond beautiful!

Tomato, Cucumber and Feta Salad

“BATHING SUIT SEASON?”

For some reason nice weather makes me think of salads – perhaps because the veggies and fruit are so fresh and pretty, I want to use them as much as possible – or because nice weather means that it won’t be long before I have to unlock the safe and blow the 1 inch layer of dust off of my bathing suit.

So the other night for dinner, it was a delicious chicken breast made by Dave, with fresh Rosemary and Tyme from our ‘porch garden’ (Dave is OBSESSED with this Boos Block Mincer thing we got and is finding any excuse to use it) and this yummy Tomato, Cucumber and Feta salad I put together!  I’ve recently really come to like Feta, and the fat free version of it is a nice option if you’re looking to add a little flavor to something. Would I stick a spoon in there and eat it like peanut butter? Ehhh maybe not so much, but, it can really accent some dishes nicely.  Of course you can use the regular version too if you like!

Tomato, Cucumber and Feta Salad

INGREDIENTS

2 cartons of grape tomatoes
(I used one Red and Yellow)

1 english cucumber

8-10 basil leaves chopped

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp. fat-free italian dressing

1 garlic clove, minced

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup fat-free feta cheese

1)  Slice the grape tomatoes in half and place in a large mixing bowl.  Then peel the english cucumber, cutting it lengthwise down the middle and then slicing the two halves.  Add to the tomatoes.  Then add the feta cheese and toss lightly.

Tomato, Cucumber and Feta Salad

2) In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, italian dressing, minced garlic and salt and pepper.

3)  Lightly toss the tomato/cucumber/feta  mixture in the balsamic dressing mixture until combined.

4)  Sprinkle the chopped basil over the top, or mix in the salad – whatever your preference.

Tomato, Cucumber and Feta Salad

Delicious – healthy – you could even have seconds! And still fit into that teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini 🙂



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