Apple Berry Crisp

You could almost, ALMOST, pass this dessert off as healthy. There is so much fresh fruit in it and a cup of oats. You almost have a bowl a hearty oatmeal.....but you don't :) I love apple crisp, and berry crisp. So I thought, "Why not just have the best of both worlds?" Then I did. The main difference you will notice in this recipe is the apples. They are still slightly crisp, because of the short baking time. You can definitely cook it longer, but I like my apples with a little bite to them, instead of mush. You also may run the risk of burning the delicious, not-so-good-for-you, topping. The other difference in the layers of topping. Usually in a crisp I will pick off the top, because it is sooooo good. I got this idea from a recipe on allrecipes.com, to put a layer of topping on the bottom before topping with fruit. It turned out amazing, and I got my fill of crumble topping. 

Apple Berry Crisp
1 large apple
1 cup strawberries
1/2 cup blackberries
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup raspberries
3 tablespoon white sugar
1 cup oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup cold butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Core apple and chop into bite sized pieces. Remove tops from strawberries and slice into quarters or eighths, depending on size. Add apple pieces and strawberries to a large bowl along with blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries. Top with 3 tablespoons of white sugar and mix to coat. Be sure to not over stir the berries, because you want to keep them nice a whole!

In a food processor add flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cut in butter until mixture resembles wet sand. Like this:

In your baking dish, add crumb mixture until bottom is totally coated and few centimeters thick. 

Next add your berry and apple mixture, spreading evenly over crumb mixture.

Top fruit with remaining crumb mixture and spread over fruit so it is evenly coated.

This is what your final product should be before you pop it in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until crisp topping is golden brown.

Remove from oven and let cool (only a little!) before you enjoy you nice, warm, sort of healthy dessert.


Seeds of Spring

I cooked 2 different things today for the blog, but they both took too long to make, and soon I lost all the good natural light. So instead I wanted to share my little project with you. A few weeks ago I planted some basil seeds for two reasons.

The first was that I love using fresh herbs in my cooking. They trump dried herbs any day. My problem is that it is winter here 7 months a year which mean I can't always walk outside to my herb garden and snip away. So since fresh basil may be one of the most commonly used herbs I thought I would plant some!

 The second was that it was March and still winter, so I really needed some sign of life! Just a little green in my life is all...... I do have a orchid plant, but right now it is just a skinny green stalk with no flowers. There is a mystery weed in the orchid's pot that is growing great. My green thumb on the other hand.... not so healthy.

So today I took a picture of my basil plant which I am pretty sure is 3 weeks along now, just to share a little spring with you, if it hasn't quite reached your neck of the woods yet :)


Coconut Curry Lentil Soup

This was a necessity recipe. I had to use some cilantro in my fridge, so I built a recipe around it. Also I had to work until 8, which means I wouldn't have time to make dinner so I wanted something I could thrown in the crock pot. And when I say throw in the crock pot, I mean meticulously chop ingredients, take pictures, and arrange a final dish that looks pretty. Hopefully a crock pot is a little more grab and go for you LOL! 
Lentils are an amazing source of protein and fiber!
Coconut Curry Lentil Soup
1 cup dried lentil
2 cups waters
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup light coconut milk
2 cups small yellow potatoes
1 cup mushrooms
1/2 large yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
1 inch piece of ginger
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoons yellow curry powder
1 teaspoon chili paste or hot sauce
Squeeze of fresh lime
1/2 cup fresh cliantro
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Gather your ingredients and take a pretty picture :)

In a large pot, or  crock pot place 1 cup of lentils, water, and stock. I know you are suggested to rinse and soak the lentils, but who has time for that? Plus, I don't think it make a difference. Dice yellow potatoes in quarters and add to pot.

Did I mention I needed to use these potatoes too? A lil' wrinkly.....
In a large pan heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Chop onion and garlic and add to pan, sauteing until onions begin to sweat.  Peel and mince ginger and add to pan for about 2 minutes, or until very fragrant. Remove from heat and add to pot. 

Now it is time to make this soup more ethnic! (and not in the Zumba kinda way)  Add 1 cup of coconut milk. Be sure to shake the can before or stir the can when you open, because the solids will all be resting at the top.

Light coconut milk is better for you, but next time I might use regular.
Add cumin and curry powder, along with salt and pepper. 

Chop half of the cilantro and add to the pot, stirring to combine. At this point the soup should look like this:

Let simmer for for 1-2 hours, or at least until potatoes are tender and flavors have had a chance to come together. Then remove 3/4 of the soup from the pot and add to a blender or food processor. You can also use an immersion blender if you have one.... I do not. (Insert Christmas present hint here) Blend soup until smooth and return to pot.

Cut mushrooms into quarters and add to soup. Bring to a boil and cook until mushroom are tender. Squeeze in fresh lime. Chop remaining cilantro and add to pot, saving a few sprigs for garnish. 


Roasted Tomato and Corn Pico de Gallo

A while ago on foodgawker.com I found a recipe that claimed to be the best salsa ever. I obviously had to tried it, because I eat salsa by the spoonful. It called for roasting the tomatoes, onions, and garlic before using a food processor to make smooth. Well turns out they lied. Roasted garlic is amazing, just not in a salsa. Roasted onions are amazing, but made the salsa really sweet. Roasted Tomatoes were delicious, no complaints there. But I love a nice chunky salsa. You know, the kind that breaks chips. My mom makes a killer "salsa" which is really pico de gallo. (P.S. direct translation of pico de gallo = beak of rooster. Unless my Spanish has failed me)  So I combined her recipe with some roasted tomatoes to create what I think is the best salsa ever. 

Roasted Tomato and Corn Pico de Gallo
5 Plum or 
Roma tomatoes
1/2 onion
2 cloves garlic
3/4 cup frozen white corn
1/2 cup packed cilantro
1/2 teaspoon cumin
cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon dried oregano 
Salt and pepper to taste

Oscar checking out the goods :)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Take 2 tomatoes and cut in half length wise. Place on a baking sheet, cut side up and place in oven 15-20 minutes, or untill cooked through and beginning to char. Remove from oven and let cool.

 Place cooled roasted tomatoes in a food processor or blender and pulse until almost smooth.

Dice remaining tomatoes and add to large bowl. Dice onion and mince garlic and add to bowl. Add thawed corn and stir to combine. 

Chop cilantro and add to bowl, stirring to combine.

Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste.

You can devour right away, but it is more delicious if you let rest in the refrigerator for a few hours. Enjoy with your favorite crackers or chips!


Mushroom, Red Pepper, & Roasted Garlic Couscous

I love boxed couscous. It is so simple, and literally takes 10 minutes to cook. Well this recipe take a little longer than 10 minutes, but is so much healthier! Less sodium, more vegetables, and pretty to boot! The roasted garlic is such a great flavor, I could literally just eat them whole. You can definitely reduce the amount of garlic if you want to. 1 bulb may be overkill, but...... probably not :)

Mushroom and Red Pepper Couscous

1 cup plain couscous
1 1/4 cup vegetable stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion
1 Red bell pepper
1 cup mushrooms
1 head of garlic
Salt and Pepper
Fresh Parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop off top of garlic bulb and place on sheet of aluminum foil. drizzle with olive oil and wrap in foil. Place in oven for 45 minutes or until garlic is golden brown and easily squeezed from skin. *
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in large pan. Chop red pepper, mushrooms, and onions and add to pan, sauteing for 5 minutes until onions are translucent and mushrooms begin to release their juices. Squeeze roasted garlic from skins and roughly chop. Add to pan and stir until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
In medium pot bring vegetable stock to a boil and add couscous. Stir in vegetables and remove from heat, letting sit for 6-7 minutes until stock is fully absorbed. Transfer to large bowl and top with chopped parsley.

Roasting Garlic is a pretty simple process. I will do a separate post on how it is done soon! 


A Friendly Reminder

You know how sometimes you could swear you and your best friend were meant to be best friends? When I look at this picture from my wedding, I think it is pretty obvious.


 You also know how when you are little, you and your best friend wish you could really be sisters or at least related? Well, I am going back to Fairbanks, for maybe the last time, to watch that happen. My best friend, since we were 9, is getting married to my second cousin, Pete. I am so excited I could literally scream. Tara has always been my best friend. She is obviously beautiful, talented, smart, and shares my amazing sense of humor :) We still laugh about things that happened when we would camp out in her yard in 5th grade, or stuff we would chat about on MSN messenger in middle school (blast from the past right?). I know you are supposed to say your husband is your best friend, and TJ is also my best friend! But I am really going to talk to TJ about how hot Robert Pattinson is? Probably not.  

A lot of people say that when they don't talk to their friends for a while, they always pick up right where they left off and everything is the same. I don't think that it true. I think things always change, and it is never quite the same with most of your friends. Well this one is no different. Sometimes we don't talk for a while, and obviously things in your life will change. After a few weeks I don't know some of the people she is talking about, and she doesn't know how my work is going. But the one thing that will never change is how much I love her, and no amount of time will change that. Despite being 3,000 miles apart she is always there for me. And I am so excited to be there for her this weekend.

Below is a link to Tara and her older sister, Michelle's, website for their super cute business idea. She sent TJ and myself a sign after we got married (above), and it is perfect. Check it out! I promise you will see something you like :)

Take #1, Oscar likes the signs too!


Chocolate Ganache Puddle Cookies

I feel like I may have been misleading you. Most of my post have been pretty healthy. Don't get me wrong, I love eating healthy. Just not quite as much as I love chocolate. And when it comes to chocolate, these cookies are a 10. It is the perfect combination of chewy chocolate chip cookies and creamy ganache. This recipe turned out way better then I had imagined. I made the cookie dough intending to put the dough into mini muffin cups, modeling them after my favorite peanut butter cup cookies. Then I remembered I threw that mini muffin tin out when I couldn't get it clean after a mini quiche disaster. Sometimes the best recipes come from improvisation though.....

Chocolate Puddle Cookies

For this recipe you can use your favorite chocolate chip cookies recipe, or the one provided below!

1 3/4 cup cake & pastry flour
1 1/2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks of butter (1 cup)
2/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into chunks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
Sift together flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl and set aside. 
In a large mixing bowl, cream together sugars and butter until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. Slowly add dry ingredients until just mixed through, 5-10 seconds. Mix in chocolate chips, and 4 ounces of chopped chocolate chunks. 

Form dough into 1 inch balls and place on greased cookie sheets, pressing down slightly in the middle. Bake for 7-8 minutes, until cooked through. Remove from oven, and using the back of a spoon press a 1 inch indent into center of cookies. Allow to cool slightly before adding ganache. 

Small indents create a perfect holding spot for a delicious chocolate puddle!
Chocolate Ganache
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (chips or bakers chocolate)
2 tablespoons butter

Place chocolate and butter in a small metal bowl. In a medium saucepan add 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Place metal bowl on top of saucepan, and begin to melt chocolate, stirring occasionally. 

When chocolate is melted and creamy, spoon ganache into shallow indents in cookies. Follow by drizzling ganache over cookies, then top with remaining 2 ounces of chopped chocolate chunks. Let cool (at least a little) before eating!

New York Times Cookies


Prosciutto Bruschetta with Balsamic Reduction

Bruschetta is the my favorite Italian dish. I love garlic (as I am sure you have figured out), fresh tomatoes, and toasted crusty bread. But regular bruschetta has been done, and usually it is vegetarian. But this dish was made for my husband as a snack, and since we had prosciutto in the fridge that had to be used.....

Prosciutto Bruschetta with Balsamic Reduction

Loaf of Crusty Bread
 1 cup cherry tomatoes
 2 cloves minced garlic
 1/2 cup chopped onion
Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

In a small saucepan, on medium heat, bring balsamic vinegar to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Let vinegar simmer occasionally stirring. While vinegar is simmering, cut crusty bread into 1/2 in thick slices and place onto baking sheet. Slice cherry tomatoes into quarters and place into bowl with minced garlic, chopped onion, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and let rest for 15-30 minutes to let flavors mix.

 Slice prosciutto into 1 inch strips and top crusty bread with 1 to 2 strips of prosciutto. 

Top prosciutto with spoonful of bruschetta mixture. 

Using a cheese slicer or grater, top bruschetta with thin slices of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

Place under broiler on 500 degrees for 5-6 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. 

At this point to balsamic vinegar should have thickened into a dark brown reduction, with the consistency of syrup. Drizzle reduction over hot bruschetta and eat before it gets cold!

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