September Autumn Challenge

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As I have mentioned before, I am not much of a baker. To be quite honest, it intimidates me! If you do one little thing wrong, your masterpiece will not turn out! I decided I was going to be very bold yesterday and bake pumpkin cobbler for the first time, and without trying it myself, take it with me to my parish for our usual Tuesday evening get-together (called The Oratory) and cross my fingers that I didn’t ruin it!

Well I made it and ran! (hence the photo) And I am so happy that everyone ate it and liked it! I only had about 3 servings left to bring home! It was a hit! Yay for autumn and the glorious flavors that she brings!

PUMPKIN COBBLER

1 large can of pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1/4 cup fat-free milk
1 box yellow cake mix
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon
3 TBS Nutella
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees!

In a bowl, mix all but 1 cup of the cake mix (set the 1 cup aside for later!), 1/2 cup of butter, and 1 egg. Mix together very well and then put it into a greased 9×13 baking pain.

Next, in a bowl, mix together the pumpkin puree, 3 eggs, Nutella, cinnamon, vanilla, and milk. After it is pretty well combined, place on top of the bottom layer of the baking pan. Even it out!
Then, combine your remaining cake mix, remaining butter, sugar, and nuts. Place on top of the pumpkin mixture!

Bake for in between 40 and 50 minutes, depending on your oven. (mine was finished in about 43 minutes). After you hit the 40 minute mark, keep an eye on your cobbler, to see if it’s finished!

Makes about 15 servings! Eat and enjoy!

My Autumnal Obsession

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(photo courtesy of Sam Javanrouh)

As you will quickly find out, I am head-over-heels, obsessed, in love with, enamored by the fall. The colors, the smell, the crisp air, and the tastes are simply the best of all four seasons. I am unabashedly proud of Falls in Philadelphia. This morning, it seemed as if this city got a glimpse of the weather to come, and I must admit, it came at such a necessary time. Last week’s heat seemed unnecessary, if you ask me! :o)

The earthy colors of fall are stunning. The spices! Lord help me, the spices! Pumpkin, butternut squash, apples, CANDY CORN! Football, tailgating! Apple cider. Halloween! Thanksgiving! PENNSYLVANIA FOLIAGE. Um, they even make pumpkin beer and coffee. Hello?!?!? Amazing!
As if you can’t tell already, I could go on for hours.
I was trying to think of another challenge to join, but I’ve decided, I am going to create one of my own! The best of fall flavors! Effective September 1, 2009 until Thanksgiving’s end!!! September 1 begins tomorrow! I am overjoyed with excitement over this one!
This is an anything goes type thing! You can make anything your little heart desires! It’s as simple as posting the link to your own blog through the comment section of the Autumn Challenge blog post!
Happy cooking/baking/drinking!

My Nutella Challenge Recipe: Nutella Marinated Steaks

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I recently redid this recipe. Click here to check it out!

On the blog of bell’ alimento, there is a new Nutella Challenge, which I was very interested in doing. The challenge is about finding 101 ways to use Nutella! Unfortunately, I am quite challenged in the baking department, which seems to be the go-to thing for something sweet like Nutella, but I wanted to take part in the fun! So I was brainstorming, trying to figure out how I can use Nutella, and it dawned on me! My favorite thing to make is STEAK! How can I use this to make a steak marinade?

I must admit, I spent a good day and a half trying to think of what I should put in this marinade! What complements the sweet and glorious goodness of Nutella? What works with its consistency? After much thought, the list and photo(s) below illustrate my brainchild.

Nutella Marinated Steaks

Ingredients:

2 strip steaks
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1 TBS Nutella
1/4 cup espresso (I used instant)
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Lemon juice from half of a lemon

1. Saute the onions in a pan over medium high heat for about 2 to 3 minutes. In a food processor, mix together the Nutella, olive oil, espresso (you have to make it before hand!), cooked onions, squeezed juice from half of a lemon, and the cayenne and cumin. Mix together until it appears to be well blended. Then, marinade the steak between 6 hours to overnight. (I chose overnight).

2. Put the steak on a grill (or griddle! whatever you have to work with!) Cook the steak for 5 minutes on one side and 4 on the other! Voila! A steak with a Nutella Marinade!!!!!! Initially, I was going to wait until the September challenge to post mine, but I became to excited and squeezed mine in at the end of the month!

3. I drizzled some of the leftover marinade on the steak.

I must admit, this was delicious. At the first bite, you taste the Nutella, but shortly thereafter, you get the kick of the cayenne! I am so excited about this recipe, and I hope that you will be, too!

The Hip Hostess Store

As I was perusing Foodbuzz today, one of my Foodbuzz friends had a posting of these adorable aprons. Curious as I was, I clicked on the website, and found the most adorable aprons. Let me tell you ladies, this brings the glamor back into the kitchen. Once the kitchen in the new house is done, I may have to add this apron to my toile apron collection (and yes, I have a collection)

You must go check it out, ladies (and gentlemen, too!! purchase your special little lady one of these adorable aprons). I promise you will not be disappointed.

Green Eggs, But No Ham!

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If you can’t tell already, I have fell into a pattern of trying to spruce up my egg whites in the morning. This morning, which has not been different than any other morning lately, I decided to throw in some baby spinach and broccoli, and a pinch of salt and pepper. It turned out very nicely! Very GREEN! It made me think of Dr. Seuss. I piled it all on top of my slice of Ezekial Bread toast! Great!!

Mango Black Bean Salsa and Egg Whites

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Yesterday, amid my hunkering for and making of Mango Black Bean Salsa , I was able to have some leftovers! Woohoo! So this morning, I decided to jazz up my egg whites with some mango salsa… It’s as easy as it sounds.. After putting canola oil spray on a skillet, I threw on some egg whites and the salsa simultaneously, that way it’s nicely cooked in. (sometimes it doesn’t seem to mesh well when I simply put salsa on top of already cooked eggs, so I like to throw it in during the cooking process).

I paired this meal with a slice of plain, toasted Ezekial Bread and a pair (paired with a pair, hehe!). Lone problem, though… made way too much. I ended up eating only half of the eggs I made. I put some in a little tupperware container and I’m hoping it will reheat well to have some for lunch. Even though I had never had mango/black bean salsa with my eggs in the morning, I was very pleased with the results, it was delicious!

Even Daisy wanted some!

Mango Black Bean Salsa and Rice

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During my walk home from work yesterday, I realized that I was fiercely craving mango/black bean salsa. It was a hot day, and I had a busy evening in front of me, so I was tried to figure out how to squeeze in a ‘quick’ meal with this salsa. Fortunately, I pass Whole Foods daily on my walk home from work. So I took the opportunity to stop in and pick up some ingredients for my mango/black bean salsa! I picked up:

1 Mango
1 Can of Black Beans
Scallions
1 Tomato
1 Jalapeno
(I already had some cumin at home)

I really wanted to add corn into the salsa, but decided I didn’t need the extra starch today. :-(

I wanted to go for a run pronto, so I quickly dressed for my run, and sliced the mango, drained the black beans, chopped up 1/4 cup worth of scallions, diced the tomato, and seeded and diced the jalapeno. After heating some extra virgin olive oil, I first put the scallions, tomato, cumin, and jalapeno on a skillet over medium-high heat for approximately 2 to 3 minutes. I, then, added the sliced mango and black beans and continued cooking for another 3 or so minutes. Voila! Mango/black bean salsa!!

I then decided I had have this over brown rice, on the hot and steamy day that was yesterday, but I wanted to run, and I had somewhere to be at 7:30. So I managed to boil some water very quickly and throw in my rice to cook for 40 minutes, while Daisy and I ran. After our 30 minute run, I quickly threw in some of the salsa into the rice while there was about 10 minutes left for the it to cook. After a 5 minute quick rinse-off, I came back to realize the rice was already finished cooking! Whoops! It only was a little bit overcooked at the bottom of the sauce pan.

Oh well! I dished and served, and still had some mango/black bean salsa left over (lucky me!). And it was a delicious, sort-of-on-the-go-meal!

Nutella Challenge

Okay, so I have decided to take part in bell’ alimento’s Nutella Challenge. It’s something that I am really pumped to do. I have decided instead of squeaking in to do the last week of August, I will submit mine next week, the first week of September.

I have a fantastic idea that is going to be SWEET (every pun intended), I just want to make sure I can get it perfect before I reveal!

Stay tuned, my friends…

Great Food Quotes

There is nothing more motivating and fun than a good food quote. Here are my favorites. Enjoy!

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch”
Orson Wells

“Tell me what you eat and I shall tell you what you are”
Jean Anthelme Brillat Savarin, The Psysiology of Taste

“If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”
Harry S. Truman

“Fish, to taste right, must swin three times: in water, in butter, and in wine”
Polish Proverb

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh, “what do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully, “It’s the same thing,” he said.
AA Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

“There is no love sincerer than the love of food”
George Bernard Shaw

“A hungry man is not a free man”
Adlai Stevenson

“We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely, the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic”
Numbers 11

A Tosca Reno Inspired Breakfast

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I am a massive fan of Tosca Reno and her “Eat-Clean Diet” Cookbook, Book, and Workout Book. I highly recommend you purchase them… it will change your life and the way you look at food. In an article on Tosca Reno’s website, it shows the daily menu of Tosca. Instead of eating 3 large meals each day, she breaks it down to 6 smaller meals, with the largest meal being breakfast. I so desperately want to follow her diet to a T, but sometimes it’s pretty difficult. (Case in point- my fiance and I just settled on a house over a week ago, and have been in every night doing work, taking away from any moment to grocery shop or cook cleanly!) But now that Timothy and my work is almost done and the real construction starts by the contractor on Thursday, things are getting back to normal, and I can eat the way I should be eating and not feel sluggish any longer!

This morning, I made the breakfast listed in that article of Tosca Reno’s. I must admit, I had to cut down the portion sizes and cut out some of the food because I am usually unable to eat a lot very early in the morning.

So I had about 3 to 4 egg whites with about a 1/2 cup of spinach leaves and a 1/4 cup of tomatoes…. a cup of raspberries and blueberries and 1/4 cup of oatmeal with a tsp of wheat germ sprinkled on top. It was delicious and it is now 4 hours later, I am still full (even though it is time for the next snack).

I highly recommend looking into Tosca Reno’s many books on Eating Clean!!!