Sunday, March 22, 2015

Foolproof Oven-Baked Brown Rice

This may not look like a very exciting recipe to some people, but honestly it's one of my favorites. Over the last couple of years I have grown to absolutely love brown rice. It is extremely healthy, it's super versatile and I think it's absolutely delicious. If you've ever looked up directions on how to make brown rice, you may have noticed that there are so many different methods. Each with it's own ratio of water to rice. Now I'm sure most of them will turn out a fine batch of brown rice, I personally am not too picky as long as it's cooked through. However, once I found this recipe I never turned back. Not only does it turn out a perfect pan of brown rice every time, it also makes a really nice big batch so I can have it on hand all week long. This is the only recipe I ever use so I wanted to share it in case anyone else is looking for a foolproof method of cooking brown rice. Well look no further, this is it. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Capellini with Chicken, Spinach and Camembert

So I've been in my new apartment for one week now and I am loving it! Having my own space is amazing and something I was completely ready for. Unfortunately, these first couple of weeks in my new place also coincide with a couple of week of night shifts for school. So with all of this going on I hardly know what day it is, or what is going on with the rest of the world. Even so, that doesn't mean I want to eat poorly so I made sure to stock my cupboards and pantry full as soon as I could so I would have the ingredients to make simple and quick meals during these crazy couple of weeks. 

This pasta dish was one of my first meals in my new apartment (the very first meal being a fantastic peanut butter and banana sandwich on freshly made bread, delicious, but not as fun to talk about!) I threw it together with the stuff in my fridge and I was very pleased with how it turned out. Some roasted broccoli was all I needed to round it out. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Cranberry Apricot Bran Muffins

I know it's Wednesday and I have yet to post something this week. I try to post a new recipe every Sunday but a lot happened in the last week and over the weekend so I just didn't get around to it! Big news: I've moved! While I've been in med school, I've been living with my parents in the suburbs to help save a lot of money. It's been good, and it was a smart decision, but I reached a point where I felt like it was time for me to move out once and for all. To be honest, I wasn't even looking for an apartment but the perfect place kind of just fell into my lap. In 2 days I'd signed the lease and started moving in. I've been in my new place for only a couple of days now but I am loving it! While all of this has been going on I also started working nights for a couple of weeks so I am really all messed up, but it's okay, especially now that I have my own place to come home to. 

I hope to put up a post soon to show everyone my new place and give more details about how it all happened so fast. Until then however, these muffins will have to do. I love me a good bran muffin, especially one that is heavy and hearty and dense (in a good way). These muffins are just that. They are definitely branny, just how I like it. There is not a lot of sugar in them, so if you have a big sweet tooth you may want to add a bit more for your taste, either that or add in some sweeter fruit. I used cranberries and some frozen apricots that I had, both quite tart and not super sweet. Some nice ripe strawberries or blueberries would probably help up the sweetness if that is what you're looking for. But whatever you decide, these are a great, hearty way to start off any day on the right foot. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Almond Bear Claws

Starting a couple of years ago, my mom, my sister and I began a wonderful weekend tradition. Almost every Saturday morning without fail, we have been leaving our house bright and early and driving into Grand Rapids to eat pastries and drink hot coffee at our favorite bakery. It is the highlight of my week, giving me something to look forward to at the end of some long, tiring weeks. This is our time to chat, talk about our week, what's been going on, and to just unwind and enjoy some of my favorite things. 

While I love all pastries and other baked goods, and could order anything at the bakery and be happy with my choice, I have gotten stuck ordering the same thing week after week because it is just so good. Almost every single Saturday I order myself a nice big vanilla almond bear claw. I've had bear claws at other bakeries, but these are the absolute best I've ever had. They are big, buttery and generously packed full of a wonderful almond filling. Over the past year, I've been trying to figure out just what exactly this filling is made of. I even contacted someone at the bakery to see if they could help me at all, and while they of course wouldn't tell me what the filling is made of, they gave me a few hints that helped guide me in my search. 

Then just a few weeks ago I found it. A recipe popped up online that sounded like what I was looking for so I dove in and gave it a shot. The verdict? It was exactly what I was hoping for. To me it tastes almost exactly like the filling from the bakery. My bear claws turned out beautifully and absolutely delicious. It is so satisfying to have solved the puzzle. Even if the recipe is not exactly the same as the bakery's, it tastes right to me and that's all that matters. 


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Cinnamon Sugar Apple Muffins

Over the past year or so I have been doing more and more baking with fruit. Since I absolutely love fruit this really is a no-brainer. Any kind of fruit will do, I'm not picky. Due to the overwhelming number of banana bread/muffin/cake recipes out there I definitely end up using bananas most often. It doesn't hurt that they are cheap and freeze beautifully. But there are many other fruits that bake up well in recipes too. 

Today I'm sharing a simple yet wonderful cinnamon apple muffin recipe. The cinnamon apple combo is a pretty classic pairing, and it's easy to see why. The warming spiciness of cinnamon mixed with sweet and tart apples is a match made in heaven. I don't always like large chunks of apple in my baked goods, so instead of chopping it into pieces, I decided to grate it so it kind of melts into the batter and distributes evenly while still contributing it's apple-y sweetness. Add a little more spiciness with some nutmeg and allspice, and top the whole thing with a sweet buttery topping and you have a breakfast to be proud of. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Chana Dal Lentil Soup

I woke this morning and checked the old temperature gauge (aka my phone) to discover it was a balmy -6° Fahrenheit, not the windchill, the actual temperature (the windchill was a lovely -20°). In these kinds of conditions I crave something warm and hearty, simple yet filling and flavorful. This recipe was the first time I've tried chana dal. I spent some time researching exactly what chana dal is, and to be honest I'm still a little confused as to whether it is split lentils or split chickpeas or something else. Whatever the case, it is some kind of dried pulse or legume. If anyone has a good explanation of what dal is please let me know, I'd love a good definition. 

Regardless of what exactly dal is, this recipe is simple and filling. Dal cooked with tomatoes, onions and various spices. and finished with cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. It doesn't get much easier than this, and it is so healthy. If you are looking for something hearty and warming this winter that's a little different than the norm, give this recipe a try. A thick slice of hearty bread on the side to mop up all the extra juice is the only other thing you need to finish off this delicious meal. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

American Style Vanilla Biscotti

I've found myself making a lot of biscotti lately. I just can't seem to sit down with a cup of coffee without wanting something small and sweet to snack on and biscotti are the perfect way for me to fix this problem. They are easy to make, usually make a large batch, and can be shaped into whatever size you might want. For the last couple of rounds of biscotti making I've been playing around with different variations on this recipe from King Arthur Flour. They call it American style biscotti because it is not quite as rock hard as some of the traditional Italian biscotti recipes. These cookies bake up crisp and light, crunchy without being teeth shattering. I think they have the perfect balance of crunchy sweetness to go alongside my cup of afternoon coffee. And the great thing about biscotti is they last for several weeks in an airtight container on you counter or in the cupboard. That means not having to worry about running out anytime soon or having them go bad. It is the perfect way to ensure you always have a sweet treat around for snacking on for those moments when you just need a little something to get yourself through the afternoon.