April 26, 2012

couscous-stuffed peppers.

Before I get into anything I just want to say that I love my friends. 
Like really.
I don't have a ton of best friends, but the few that I have are truly amazing women. 
I wouldn't be able to do anything without their support and encouragement. 
I am so thankful to have them in my life 
and so grateful for when they catch me when I fall.
(literally, FC)
You're the best.

And so I need to get this blog back into the swing of things. Today I am sharing an actual food recipe. Yes, I can cook and I don't just eat sweets all day long :)

The first time I ever made couscous I couldn't believe how fast and easy it was. Mind blowing, I tell you. I love this recipe because I think of it as the healthier version of the stuffed peppers loaded with breadcrumbs that I love so much. And it includes so many of my favorites- cranberries, feta, chickpeas, and of course spinach! (seriously)

And though I am more of a sauce-on-the-side type of girl, the pesto sauce pulls the whole dish together. 

Couscous-Stuffed Peppers with Pesto Sauce adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Start with 4 bell peppers, whatever colors you prefer.
Slice off the tops and remove all the seeds.
If you need to, cut a very thin slice off the bottoms to make them stand up straight.

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup couscous
1 cup chickpeas
1 cup baby spinach, packed
1/2 cup feta
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt & pepper

Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan.
Turn off the heat and stir in the couscous. Cover the pan.
Wait about 6 minutes.
The couscous should be tender and all broth absorbed.

Mix couscous with all the remaining ingredients in a large bowl.
Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Stuff the peppers with the filling and drizzle the tops with olive oil.
Bake the peppers standing in an 8x8 inch pan filled with 3/4 inch of hot water.
Bake 55- 60 minutes.
The filling should be golden brown and the peppers should look cooked through.
If the tops are browning too quickly then cover with foil.
( I did this after 30 minutes)

2 tbs pesto
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbs water
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt, add extra if needed
1/4 tsp pepper, add extra if needed

Mix all ingredients together, done.
{You could make your own pesto base of course but I already had some pre-made in the fridge and I love convenience. You can also use fresh garlic...use what you have!}

Serve and enjoy!

April 23, 2012

birthday love.

"And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count.
It's the life in your years."

happy birthday girlfriend.


April 18, 2012

words for thought.

"But the dreamers of the day are dangerous people.
For they dream their dreams with open eyes
and make them come true."

April 16, 2012

happy monday.

Well I did it. I survived my first week of work!

There is so much to adjust to, from learning every detail of the job, to getting used to the new schedule, to remembering everyone's names, oh and of course there is that awkward newbie feeling.

But it all makes me so much more grateful for the weekend!

I have to admit I spent most of it in the city drinking margaritas...it was sort of a Mexican fiesta kind of weekend.

[ I don't even want to count how many I consumed ]
[ grand central ] 
[ nutella ice cream with a shot of espresso @ the Cafeteria..amazing! ]
 [ fun with friends ]
[ sunday baking ]

As for my Sunday baking, I had some ripe bananas on hand so I decided to bake mini banana muffins. Bethenny Frankel's banana bread recipe is the only one that I have ever made. It is a healthy version and is so good that I never had a reason to make any other; even my skeptical brother loves it. This time I added peanut butter, just because :) 

If you are looking for a low-fat peanut butter then I recommend Better'n Peanut Butter. It does not have the same consistency as real peanut butter, its sort of syrupy. When I bought it at Trader Joes I was doubtful, but I ate it on toast and apples and didn't touch real peanut butter for a solid month (that's pretty big). 

Mini Banana Peanut Butter Muffins adapted from Bethenny Frankel
(Makes about 24 minis)

1 tbs butter, softened
1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 large)
1 cup raw sugar
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mash banana and butter.
Mix in the rest of the ingredients and stir well.

Pour batter into a well greased mini muffin pan.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Have a great week :)

April 11, 2012

week one.

My alarm went off at 5:30 Monday morning.

You can imagine that I didn't jump out of bed. I sluggishly hit the snooze button on my phone.
But before I hit the button, I stared at the date for a good solid minute, 
took in the moment and thought to myself...
welcome to the first day of the next chapter of your life.
This past weekend someone commented to me that I like change, that I embrace it.
That if I don't like something, I'm not afraid to well... change it.
Transitions can be quite scary but they are worth it. (in my humble opinion)

Onto the next, as I love to say.

p.s.-  I have been a horrible blogger this week... it's just the transitions promise :)

April 8, 2012

happy easter.

How was your Easter? Or if you don't celebrate, your Sunday funday? 
I hope it was lovely.

I have to say that I had a great time spending the day with my family. I spent the entire morning cooking, getting ready, and trying every kind of Easter candy we had in the house (I gave it up successfully for Lent). 

We ate, laughed, caught up on each other's lives, drank wine, and indulged on many sweets. 

The sugar overdose was primarily my fault. If you would like to know what I baked, here you go!
- black and neons (aka jazzy black and whites)
- tri-color cookies in pastel colors (a big time family favorite), I like this recipe
- chocolate covered oreos, which are super easy to make if you buy a sandwich cookie chocolate mold, I added the sugar decals for a special touch
- this peanut butter pie, I used a chocolate graham crust and topped with chocolate sprinkles, it is low-fat and delicious!
- one of my favorite brownie recipes, which I topped with chocolate frosting and sprinkles and served in a pie dish for a super rich chocolaty dessert

I tried to keep it simple and I think that I did a pretty good job :)
Now I have to go get ready for work tomorrow, wow wow wow.

April 6, 2012

friday loves.

I  am loving my last free days of baking for the holiday weekend.

 Hope your weekend is just as sweet. xo

April 4, 2012

all good things.

Yesterday was a pretty big day for me, I accepted a job offer!

No, it's not a baking related job. It's one that I went to college for and is in the industry that I have worked in. 

Why why why? Because while I dream to bake and blog everyday, I simply can't right now. I want to live a great life and to do so at this age, I need to make some money. And that is the truth my friends.

I picked a job where I could see myself grow, see myself happy, and see myself having a balanced life. I have learned that these are the most important things you need to think about when accepting a job, even more so than the money.   

I can't believe it but funemployment will come to an end in just four days! 

And I plan to enjoy every last second of it.

Cheers to new beginnings.

April 3, 2012

easter inspiration.

Dessert tables are sort of my thing, I just love them so much. Every holiday I make sure there is a decorated table of sweets. Sometimes I go too overboard, to the point where I tell myself that I am absolutely ridiculous. But that's better than being boring right?

So I am starting to plan for Easter; pinning things, looking through cookbooks, and checking the seasonal section of every store I walk into. I was looking through some of my old Easter photos for some inspiration and figured I would share them to talk about some tid-bits regarding dessert tables I have...

First and foremost, make what you know and what people like. Sure, it is ok to try new recipes but make sure you are capable of making them or else it will not be fun if you make them the night before (as I usually do!). Cupcakes and sugar cookies are fun to make and a sure people pleaser.
In addition to baked goods, chocolate covered anything will look great on your table and are so easy-peasy to make. Decorate them with nuts, sprinkles, chocolate chips, marshmallows, and little candies!
Display your baked goods in pretty baskets, bowls, and platters; mix it up and make it fun! Use doilies!  
(It's a running joke with my friends that I may be the only person who still uses and loves them)
Decorate your table with any fun little accents you can find that fits your theme. 
Bright colors are great for the springtime.
Stack pedestal platters to give some height to the table.
If you have the time to make cake pops, make them, 
but I can't stress enough that you need to give yourself time.
This year I plan to keep it simple, let's see how well I do!
Have fun planning!

April 2, 2012

happy monday.

Oh what a weekend. 
Yesterday I participated in an Easter egg scavenger hunt with a large group of friends. We had to complete a list of hilarious tasks and visit bars to solve riddles throughout the city, all while wearing bunny ears. It was quite a Sunday funday.

Oh and on Saturday I finished making this...

I was inspired by lace as it has been an obsession of mine for a few years now. It is a genoise cake filled with Italian meringue buttercream and decorated with fondant. Sounds pretty fancy right?

It is my final cake from the fondant and royal icing course that I have been taking this past month. Every Saturday I would lug a large bag and tool kit to the city for a five hour class. And though my social life level dropped a bit due to this, I really loved it. It was fun, challenging, and rewarding. I meet some wonderful people, learned new cake tricks, and tasted really great food. 

Warning, really dorky and unflattering picture below...

hehe. xo