Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fairytale Forest Soup

Sometimes, it's just one of those grey days. It may begin with a beautiful, sunshiny morning, and as the day wears on, it becomes progressively more and more overcast and grey. Today was one such day, and such a day calls for hot soup, cello concertos, and classic Fairy Tales.


  • 3 medium-sized potatoes, cut into medium-sized chunks
  • 2 long onions, peeled and grated
  • 5-6 baby bella mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1/2 of a medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup of lentils, washed and picked over
  • 1/2 cup of buckwheat groats, washed and picked over
  • 3 cups of chicken stock
  • 3 cups of water
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 1 good pinch of Vegeta
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a sprinkling of ground pepper
  • a dash of nutmeg


  1. Sauté the mushrooms, onion, and carrots in the bottom of your soup pot with 1 tsp of olive oil until the onions and carrots are slightly softened.
  2. Add the potatoes, the chicken broth and water, lentils and groats.
  3. Season with salt, Vegeta, pepper, nutmeg and bay leaf.
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 min, or until the potatoes are easily broken apart with a wooden spoon and the lentils and groats are soft to the bite.
  5. Adjust seasonings and serve with a dollop of sour cream and toast, rubbed with garlic.
Potato chunks, chillin' in their water bath :)

All chopped up

Give them a good stir...

Add the stock (and water!)

And, finally, your potatoes,

lentils, and

Fairytale Forest Soup :)
Try before serving! You may need to adjust the seasonings.

This soup is best prepared while listening to Mstislav Rostropovich and other masters play classical cello, preferably for free on Pandora Radio, and best eaten after reading or watching classic Russian Fairy Tales :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

There are some changes here...

So, my laptop no longer likes my camera :( As a result, I can't post any pretty pictures, and as everyone knows, posts with no pictures are no fun ;)
  Therefore, I'm going to take a slightly different approach to this blog. Since it will probably be a while before I get a new laptop (NOT just because of the camera issues, silly! It badly needs to be upgraded anyway...), I'll be using the time I spend web-surfing to put together pretty things to show you guys, a la "A Cup of Jo."
  Cool? Cool :)

First up:
  I LOVE these dishes! They're so pretty, and elegant-looking... Now how should I go about convincing Hero we need new dishes? Maybe we lose all our old ones during a move?;)

Then, there's this pretty selection of tops and jewelry trinkets from Charlotte Russe (THANK you for coming to my corner of the world!)

And to round it all out, I've been craving chocolate like mad lately, and this recipe for a cookie looks like it might just fit the bill. OhSheGlows is generally super-good with quality control-testing, so I'll have to give it a whirl and see where it takes me :)

Have a beautiful day! :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Blood Orange and Chocolate Muffins

There's just something magical about citrus fruits that are in season: the plump sections of an orange fairly burst with bright, sparkling juices... In the United States, oranges are at their best during the winter months, and this season is no exception! 
Because of this citrusy abundance, there has been a proliferation of orange-inspired recipes on the internet of late(see here and here), and after doing some research in the muffin section of my handy dandy Weight Watchers New Complete CookbookI'm jumping on the bandwagon with one of my own :)

*This recipe is adapted from the "Just Muffins" recipe in the Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook.


  • 1 and 1/2 cups of unbleached AP flour, sifted
  • 3 T of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 5 T of turbinado sugar
  • 2 t of baking powder
  • 1 t of salt
  • 1 blackened (and therefore ripe!) banana, mashed
  • 1 T of flax seeds, ground
  • 3 T of warm water
  • 3 caps of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1 navel orange
  • 1 blood orange
*My modification of the original recipe called for less sugar, but so much cocoa makes for a VERY strongly flavored muffin which not everyone may like, so you could up the sugar to 5 T or brush the muffins with a simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, heated on the stovetop until dissolved, and then cooled before application), which will give them that extra *pop* of sweetness :)

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Grease your muffin tin.
  3. Combine all dry ingredients together, and mix all wet ingredients together UP TO THE MILK.
  4. Peel the oranges and process or juice (I used my food processor!).
  5. Measure out 1/2 cup of orange juice (you can keep the pulp: it adds more fiber).
  6. Add to the 1/2 cup of milk, which will make the milk curdle because of the acid.
  7. Add this mixture to the other wet ingredients and mix until combined (do not overmix!).
  8. Spoon your fluffy batter into the muffin tin, filling each cup 3/4 of the way to the top
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Don't the oranges look like rubies?:)

 Look at all that yummy juice!
 The wets:
 Grinding the flax seeds:
 And mashing the banana:

Muffins, deconstructed:

 All the dries together:
 Adding the wet to the dry:
 It looks like a fluffy chocolate mousse!

And they're out of the oven!
With a sprinkling of sugar snow :) 

What new/unusual fruit have you tried lately?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

In the Event of a Foiled Snow Day

Today was one of those days when you wake up, look out the window, and immediately think SNOW DAY! Except past high school, you don't usually have snow days unless you work in education, and by that I mean NOT at our university lol 
  So for all those almost-grown-ups out there, who are too "adult" to get a snow day, here's a little taste of Spring :)


Are you dreaming of Spring? Or perhaps a Snow Day?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

In Which Muffins are STILL Awesome

So on the off chance that someone is actually reading this, and because I desperately do NOT want to do my homework (yet!), I've decided to come up with a list of Why Muffins are Awesome!

  1. Easy to make: throw in all the ingredients, mix 'em up, and toss in the oven in a muffin tin!
  2. Fast: From 12-25 minutes, tops! Provided you're not trying to take pictures one-handed...
  3. Portable: very important for anyone who's running out the door without breakfast!
  4. A great snack: especially when you need something to tide you over between breakfast and lunch. Or lunch and dinner. Or dinner and bedtime. You get the idea!
  5. Healthy: this clearly depends on what you put in said muffin, but they can be a great source of fiber, vitamins, oils, etc.
  6. Cute: you have to admit, it's easier to eat something if it looks good! Though that may just be me...
  7. Freeze VERY well: wrap in a double layer of saran wrap, or one layer and then pop in a zipping sandwich baggie, and you're good to go for your next major muffin craving!
  8. Make the house smell YUMMY! Especially just coming out of the oven :)
In conclusion, I would like to say GO BAKE A MUFFIN! :)

Did I miss anything?

In which Muffins are Awesome

Ode to a Muffin

thy beauty beckons, day or night
thy mix-ins fill me with delight
while flours of white and brown and tan
work out the balance twixt sweet and bran

the way thou fits within my palm,
when hours twixt meals stretch slow and long,
fills me, and stomach mine, with peace
and fiber quells the hungry beast

o, muffin, darling, come away!
accompany me in thoughts all day!
as I await with patience thin
to pull on out the muffin tin

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Grandmother Muffins

   Grandparents are awesome: they shower you with stories, hugs, and mounds of candy, among other things. Mine are no exception, and today we are celebrating their birthday! In honor of this occasion, I want to share with you the world famous Grandmother Muffins :)
   This recipe is based on a couple different versions, but mostly the "Just Plain Muffins" recipe from the Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook. Even if you aren't "doing" Weight Watchers, this is still an interesting cookbook because it is full of a variety of relatively healthy, and definitely interesting, recipes. I like the "New American Cooking" section the best :)

  Anywhoo, here is the recipe (with my modifications):


  • 1 and 1/4 cups unbleached AP flour + 1/2 cup WW flour, sifted
  • 4 t of honey
  • 2 t of baking powder
  • 1/2 t of salt
  • 1 T of cinnamon (b/c I LOVE cinnamon!)
  • 1 T of flax seeds, ground and mixed with
  • 2 T of water (preferably warm/RT)
  • 1 cup of milk (I used vanilla dairy-free, but I'm sure regular milk will work fine)
  • 4 t of melted coconut oil
  • jam (I used apricot!)
  • shredded coconut (your call as to sweetened or not)
  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Grease a muffin tin.
  3. Mix all dry ingredients together, and all wet ingredients together.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until all the flour is incorporated.
  5. Add more liquid to the batter if it's too dry (milk OR water work fine!).
  6. Spoon batter into muffin tin, filling each cup 2/3 of the way to the top.
  7. Garnish with shredded coconut, jam, or both! If you're using jam, make sure you press it down into the batter a little.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
       I'm taking these to a party tonight, so I can't taste-test them yet, but I'll let you know as soon as I do. In the meanwhile, try them! :)

    When my SD card decides to cooperate, photos will follow!
    My ingredients:
     Flours sifted together:
     The other "dry stuff":
    And with all of the wets (I know: it looks a little gross!):

     Adding dry to dry:
    Adding wet to dry:

    All together now!

     All dressed up, with somewhere to go :)

    Nutrition Facts*:
      12 Servings

    Amount Per Serving
      Calories 97.8
      Total Fat 2.2 g
          Saturated Fat 1.4 g
          Polyunsaturated Fat 0.3 g
          Monounsaturated Fat 0.2 g
      Cholesterol 0.0 mg
      Sodium 283.5 mg
      Potassium 36.0 mg
      Total Carbohydrate 17.0 g
          Dietary Fiber 1.6 g
          Sugars 2.8 g
      Protein 2.6 g