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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Blueberry Orange Muffins on Weekends

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So it’s not the weekend. It’s 3 (or 4, depending on which part of the world you live in) days from it, actually. And I’ve been a lazy bum, eating, hanging out with friends, and swimming so sadly this post and delicious recipe didn’t make it to you in time.

Basically, these are the most amazing blueberry muffins I’ve had. I’m a little obsessed with blueberries lately (as if you hadn’t noticed), and I think all the latest muffin recipes I try are the #1 best. But I’m saving these in my “favorite recipes” folder in my laptop. That’s a big deal.

I think I only have 5 recipes in there. And only 1 other dessert.

the blurriness is due to my inability to stay patient

Lovely Muffins

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees F and lining a muffin pan with some liners.

Then go ahead and combine the dry ingredients.

In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients – butter, yogurt, egg and vanilla.

Combine the wet to dry ingredients. Use a rubber spatula so you’re not overworking the dough. Overworked muffin dough gets really tough, and that’s not a lovely muffin at all!

Stir in the blueberries and orange zest. Fresh blueberries are always best because they can pop in the batter in the oven and create a lovely and juicy center. Scoop  into the muffin tray and sprinkle some raw sugar.

I find nothing more soothing than zesting citrus

…and nothing prettier than ripe blueberries

Place in oven for about 15 minutes. Mine took exactly 15 minutes, but up to 19 is OK depending on how hot your oven gets.

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The Princess Bride Review

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Finally, finally I’m writing this post. I know it took a while but my weekend was filled with headaches, sore throats, holding my dress down due to fierce winds at The Getty, and feeding my friends.

Without further adieu, my wonderful review!

First, I’d like to say that the book was wonderful. The narration, between the author and his fictional counterpart, Morgenstern, was amazing. It was great to have that world created with the perception of another person, which was perceiving it in his own way, from Morgenstern (fictionally, of course). If that is confusing, it should be. It’s a confusing book. Not really, in a bad sense, but it’s got a lot of stuff to connect people, and to tie up in the end.

The first chapters, the whole background of each of the characters, is my favorite part. In this part you can see how the love grows between Westley and Buttercup, the Princess. You are able to understand the reasoning and the struggles between the “evil” characters and the true evil doers of the plot.

With that said, the movie captured the second half of the book. The rescue of the princess and the wonderful getaway.

As you can see, at this point, I’m not going to give any plot points away as I want you, the readers, to get the need to read, and watch it on your own. The first 3o minutes of the movie was spend on the chapters that I so loved and cherished. So for me, it was a disgrace. For those that watched the movie and not read the book, they missed out on the epic love that Buttercup had, and the great loss she endured when she thought she lost Westley forever. As a result, she agreed to marry the Evil Prince, for business purposes only, of course.

In any case, I give the book 8.5 out of 10 stars.

I give the movie a 5 out of 10 stars. And that’s being more or less generous. Mainly my beef with the movie is that while the narration was in tact, and the important ending scene was great, it wasn’t enough to give the full picture, the full story of The Princess Bride. First of all, the ending, ended happily. That’s not great, since it was better the way the it ended in the novel, full of uncertainty and horror. As well as the backgrounds to give the audience real reasons to root for the characters.

On a side note, my favorite part of the movie was this old hag (whose probably really a man in costume), booing the Princess on her nightmare wedding day.

Sick Days and Making Bread

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I’ve been feeling under the weather. Mostly, it’s this little… something, in my throat.  It’s been on and off since Saturday morning, which is why my posting has come to a halt. I had a nice showing of Princess Bride this weekend as well (which will be coming in the following days in form or book vs movie review).

Grand ol’ time!

Back to my original reason for writing this post. I feel so terrible right now, in this very moment, that I actually decided I was too tired, to go grocery shopping tomorrow. I can already feel the exhaustion of a bad night’s sleep (still to come), effect me tomorrow. While I’m hosting dinner for a friend tomorrow, I need something satisfying in the moment, and something that I could justify.

BREAD~

Nothing is more special than making homemade bread. I got my inspiration from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen, and it was wonderful!

I thought, I can make this today, and have the oven warm my apartment (though it’s 80 degrees at 9pm in Los Angeles at the moment), and fill my home with the sweet smells of oats and honey, and I can have it for breakfast with butter tomorrow. That’s all it takes for me to jump up off the couch and run into the kitchen, opening cabinets and the fridge.

Adapted from Sweet Peas Kitchen

  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, or quick-cooking (not instant) oats, divided
  • 1 1/3 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup nonfat or low-fat plain yogurt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup clover honey, or other mild honey
  • 3/4 cup nonfat or low-fat milk

Heat oven to 375°F. Generously coat a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon oats in the pan. Tip the pan back and forth to coat the sides and bottom with oats; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; set aside.

In a medium bowl, using a fork, beat 1 cup oats, yogurt, egg, oil and honey until well blended. Stir in milk. Gently stir the yogurt mixture into the flour mixture just until thoroughly incorporated but not overmixed. Scrape the batter into the pan, spreading evenly to the edges. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon oats over the top.

Bake until well browned on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Let stand in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a table knife around and under the loaf to loosen it and turn it out onto the rack. Let cool until barely warm, about 45 minutes.

If I could, I’d eat it all.

My Rice Pilaf

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Rice Pilaf is just a staple in Europe. I remember my mom and grandma having their own Belarusian recipe, and my Yugoslavian friend making his own (rather his mother making it). The same goes for Persian, Ukrainian, and Indian Pilaf.

For me, pilaf is a staple not just because it’s from my past but also because it was one of the fancier recipes that I learned to cook for myself and my family when I was twelve years old. I haven’t made it in over three years now, due to one thing or another. But I thought today was a great day to start.

The recipe is pretty straight forward and aside from a few ingredients that really give it my own personal touch, it’s a basic recipe.

Rice Pilaf

  • 1/2 cup basmati rice
  • about 10 pieces of whole wheat pasta
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 can vegetable stock
  • 1 small carrot, finely grated
  • About 2 oz dry salami, if you’re getting the whole stick of salami about 5 rings, chopped up into quarters
  • parsley, to taste
  • pepper, to taste

In a saucepan that’s large enough to hold about 4 cups liquid melt the butter. Add the rice and the pasta (breaking it into 2″ pieces, like vermicelli). Stir to get it coated in the butter and brown for a bit, about 4 minutes.

Once the rice is lightly toasted, add in the stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer till most of the liquid is absorbed.

Let the rice simmer, uncovered while you grate the carrots, or prepare the salami (if you haven’t already).

Add in the carrots and stir in. Let sit with heat still on low, stirring occasionally, about five minutes to cook carrots a little bit.

Add the salami.

At this point you can test the pilaf to see if it needs any more salt, but I found the stock had enough sodium for me. As well as the salami. Stir in the parsley and pepper to your liking.

I prefer the parsley to be fresh as it gives some bite with the carrots. however, you can add dried thyme and oregano as well if you don’t have parsley on hand.

Lemonchello

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I’ve had an excess of lemons around the kitchen lately, and I’ve been wanting to make my own since Giada showed her recipe all those years ago on Everyday Italian. I followed the recipe exactly, and it came out wonderfully.

Lemonchello is used in drinks, and in baking. You can add it to lemon cupcakes, or in frosting for a nice angel food cake. It makes a great martini, as well. The recipe is completely worth it to make at home, especially since store-bought Lemonchello is around $20, for 750 mL.

  • 10 lemons
  • 1 (750-ml) bottle vodka
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the lemons in long strips (reserve the lemons for another use).

Using a small sharp knife, trim away the white pith from the lemon peels; discard the pith. Place the lemon peels in a 2-quart pitcher.

Pour the vodka over the peels and cover with plastic wrap. Steep the lemon peels in the vodka for 4 days at room temperature.

lovely lemony yellow

Stir the water and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Cool completely.

Pour the sugar syrup over the vodka mixture. Cover and let stand at room temperature overnight.

Strain the limoncello through a mesh strainer. Discard the peels. Transfer the limoncello to bottles. Seal the bottles and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours and up to 1 month.

ignore the leftover waffles in the background

It’s so delicious, and if you’re worried about the lemons you have left over from the first nights’ peeling, just strain into a jar and use as fresh lemon juice in any recipe. About 2 tbsp equals 1 lemon.

Saturday Picnic

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First of all, Happy Belated Mother’s Day!

I wanted to share with you all what a wonderful and lovely  time Boyfriend and I had at the picnic Saturday. This was official picnic, meaning I actually made everything, from scratch, aside from the pita chips.  I think I outdid myself with the food, we didn’t finish any of it, but it was wonderful, and we found a tree that was covering a perfect picnic table. It was like a fairytale.

Menu

I wasn’t to able to take a lot of photos of the food since we were so hungry, and the light under our perfect tree wasn’t perfect. However there are two shots, one of the sandwich and one of the general festivities that I thought were good enough to relate how much it was that my picnic basket actually hauled. And it was just the two of us!

  • Honey-Ginger Lemonaid (spiked!)
  • “Brick” Italian deli sandwiches
  • A three cheese and salami spread
  • Old Fashioned Hummus
  • Spiced Bar Nuts

The sandwich was the most delicious in the world! Best one ever. Did need a bit of mayo, though.

The picnic gave us energy to walk around Descanso Gardens. Last time we were there was early April and it was windy, and chilly, and overcast. And we only walked around the East side of the park. This time it was sunny, and we were able to venture and adventure around a lot better. We actually found the Boddy House this time (the home of the original owners of the park).

Along the way to our adventures I took these pictures for your enjoyement.

 

Lemon Pudding the Old-Fashioned Way

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I woke up today with the urge to do something really nice, and something that dealt with lemons. At first, and for a while, I’ve been tinkering with the idea of having my own recipe for Lemon Curd. I was gonna tweak and combine a few that I’ve tabbed over the days to make my own, perfect for tarts in the summer.

As I was relaying what I thought was good news to Boyfriend, he said he wanted Lemon Pudding. In fact, he was craving it and he’d get himself some of the Jell-O brand (probably tomorrow). Now, I’m not sure if he actually got any, as this took place yesterday, but I was a little insulted at the thought of him buying ready-made pudding.

I’ve been on this kick of “everything homemade” and it’s been great. It’s tasted a lot better and been a lot healthier, too. So as I was going over my Lemon Curd recipe I decided to flip the recipe and make Lemon Pudding instead.

I’ve adapted the recipe somewhat from one that I found on FoodGawker.

Lemon Pudding

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 1/2 cups vanilla flavored coconut milk
  • 3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
  • pinch of salt, to taste
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature

Place sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan. Whisk to combine the two. Gradually add the milk, whisking until smooth. This will take a few minutes so be patient. Add egg yolks, lemon zest, and salt. Cook on medium-high heat, stirring constantly, till sauce thickens, about 6-7 minutes so be patient. You’ll know it’s done when it can coat a spoon.

Keep stirring to get the milk and cornstarch incorporated without lumps

7 Minutes Later

Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice and butter. Whisk to make smooth, about 20 seconds. Place in jars (about 3-4 1 pint jars). Let cool completely, and then cover with plastic wrap or lid. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours, or overnight, till set. Serve chilled.