Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving Weekend

How are you? Long time, no post! We had a very nice Thanksgiving weekend…despite both Josh and I coming down with a tummy bug. We pushed through the illness to make the most of the weekend which included…

Homemade apple crisp: pre-bake:




Butternut squash (simply roasted with olive oil and then mixed with sage crisped up in a little butter=heaven!):


For some reason, I took almost no pictures at our Thanksgiving meal. Here is one of Me & Kay before leaving for my parents house:


Kay sat in her big girl booster that my parents got her for Christmas for the first time:


My Mom is such an amazing hostess. The turkey, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry and pumpkin pie were all awesome. My Aunt also brought green beans, green bean casserole, and pecan pie. Along with my butternut squash, crisp, and cookies, we had a feast!


The day after Thanksgiving, we went to a Santa brunch:


Kay was having a blast!


…until she had to meet Santa:


I think that may be the first & last time we bring Kaylin to see Santa (unless she requests to see him).

The rest of the weekend included lots of time with Josh & Kaylin. We went on walks and enjoyed tasty, easy meals at home. I also taught at the gym, enjoyed my favorite candy:


Watched football (touchdown Penn State!!):


Picked out our mini tree (we decided with Kay walking like crazy all over the place, a regular tree wouldn’t stand a chance):


and, of course, I got in some baking (vegan pumpkin chocolate chip muffins):


What did you do this weekend?


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

More Football, More Chili

We had friends staying with us this weekend and had a blast touring them around Charleston. On Sunday, we had a football day at the house. We nibbled our way through lunch with vegetables and hummus:


Salsa, chips & guacamole:


And popcorn:


When everyone was ready for something a little more significant:


I pulled out beef chili:


and Lauren’s buffalo chicken (I used turkey) chili:


Toppings (jalapenos, cheese, Chobani):


Josh’s parents came over and brought amazing cornbread and un-pictured fruit and Asian slaw for sides:


Single the Eagles weren’t playing very well, we all got a little silly:


Did your favorite team win this weekend? If you’re not a sports fan, tell me your favorite chili topping!

Friday, November 9, 2012

An Edible Mosaic: Rice with Golden Raisins and Almonds

I have been reading Faith’s blog, An Edible Mosaic, for quite some time. I love her unique recipes, beautiful pictures, and sweet personality. On her about me page, she explains the mission of her blog:

“At An Edible Mosaic, we believe that food plays a tremendous role in our daily lives.  In its basic form, food nourishes us, sustains us, and fuels us; it’s what keeps our minds focused and attentive and our bodies running smoothly.  But food is so much more than that.  Food is how we celebrate (birthday cake), how we spend time with our families and friends (Sunday suppers), and how we express our culture and traditions (what would Thanksgiving be without turkey or Ramadan be without lentil soup?).  An Edible Mosaic is a true celebration of food itself.”

Love! Faith has come out with an amazing cook book,An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair. The book has over 100 Middle Eastern recipes, with a focus mainly on dishes from the Levant,but also a few recipes from other areas of the Middle East.The book can be purchased online here and here.

The cover makes me hungry ;). Faith gave a bundle of lucky bloggers the opportunity to test out one of the recipes from the book, Saffron Rice with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts:

Saffron Rice with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts

Don’t you want to just dive into that picture?? After you check out the recipe below, head over to Faith’s blog to see her virtual book launch party to see the other bloggers who are participating. Also, as a part of her virtual book launch, Faith is hosting a giveaway of a fabulous set of prizes. Go Enter!!

Faith’s original recipe is as follows:

Saffron Rice with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts


Recipe courtesy of An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair by Faith Gorsky (Tuttle Publishing; Nov. 2012); reprinted with permission.

Serves 4 to 6

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 20 minutes, plus 15 minutes to let the rice sit after cooking

  • 1½ cups (325 g) basmati rice, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 4 tablespoons sultanas (golden raisins)
  • 1¾ cups (425 ml) boiling water
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon saffron threads (or ½ teaspoon turmeric)

1. Soak the rice in tepid water for 10 minutes; drain. While the rice is soaking, put half a kettle of water on to boil.

2. Add the oil to a medium, thick-bottomed lidded saucepan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and cook until golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Transfer the pine nuts to a small bowl and set aside.

3. Add the onion to the saucepan you cooked the pine nuts in, and cook until softened and just starting to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rice and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the sultanas, boiling water, salt, and saffron (or turmeric), turn the heat up to high, and bring it to a rolling boil.

4. Give the rice a stir, then cover the saucepan, turn the heat down to very low, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes (do not open the lid during this time). Turn the heat off and let the rice sit (covered) 15 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

5. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle the toasted pine nuts on top; serve.

OPTIONAL Add two pods of cardamom, two whole cloves, and one 2-inch (5 cm) piece of cinnamon stick at the same time that you add the rice.

I had to make a couple changes to the recipe…because I was out of basmati rice and pine nuts (doh!). I cooked up Arborio rice and used toasted slivered almonds in place of the pine nuts. The texture turned out different than Faith’s, but the flavor was just AWESOME!!


To make it a full meal, I stirred in shredded rotisserie chicken and cooked peas. SO yum!


Thank you for this wonderful opportunity Faith!!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Baked Cinnamon & Sugar Pumpkin Donut Holes

Last weekend, a few of us threw a baby shower for one of our friends who is due in December. Everyone brought a brunch dish to share. I made three different kinds of muffins, vegan banana chocolate chip, Jessica’s graham cracker chocolate chip muffins, and baked cinnamon & sugar pumpkin donut holes (muffins).


I made the donut hole muffins because the mom-to-be is a donut fanatic. I wish I had taken extra time to get better pictures of these beauties. They’re totally delicious and disappeared in a flash! I used a recipe from the comfort of cooking which was adapted from the fabulous Maria (two peas and their pod).


I made a few minor adjustments. So yum.


  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/2 cup skim milk

For the Coating:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon


Preheat oven 350° F. Spray one 24-cup or two 12-cup mini muffin tins with baking spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. In a separate large bowl whisk together oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin and milk until smooth. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just combined.

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

While the muffins bake, melt butter in one bowl and combine granulated sugar and cinnamon in another bowl. Remove muffins from oven and cool for 2 minutes. Dip each muffin in melted butter, then roll in cinnamon sugar to coat. Serve muffins warm or at room temperature.

What is your favorite seasonal flavor? Pumpkin, gingerbread, peppermint? All of the above?

PS Do you instagram? Follow me- itzyskitchen. You can see my instagram profile here.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Potato Coconut Corn Chowder

It is that time of year when soup is what I want for dinner pretty much every night. I’m always looking for new recipes/ways to switch up my usual soups. When Secret Recipe Club time came around (As a part of the club, each month you’re assigned another Secret Recipe Club blogger to make a recipe from. If you want to join, click here to sign up), I knew I was going to be in search of a new soup recipe.

This month, I was assigned Cupcake Muffin. Sara started her blog because she figured she cooked and baked enough to “warrant snapping a few shots and posting them.” Her experimental blogging started in 2007 and is still going strong today! When I saw her potato coconut corn chowder, I knew I had to give it a go. I used Harris Teeter’s lite coconut milk:


  added in frozen peas and lima beans (in addition to the corn) and topped our bowls with chopped jalapenos:IMG_2217

The result was very yummy and totally different from any soup I’ve ever had! Thanks Sara! Make sure you check out the full recipe here.


Have you made any new soups lately? Send me the links!!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Butternut Squash Chocolate Chip Muffins & Beerfest

Are you having a good weekend? I hope so! Mine has been filled with a range of activities including baking, teaching at the gym, coffee with a good friend, a high school football game, and a beerfest.

The nice people at CLIF recently sent me their seasonal bars to sample: iced gingerbread, peppermint stick and spiced pumpkin pie (disclaimer: I received these bars for free):


The pumpkin (surprise, surprise) is my favorite of the three. Along with the bars, Clif provided a bundle of recipes developed by the athletes and foodies at CLIF Bar. I couldn’t WAIT to try the recipe for butternut squash muffins. I made a few adjustments to the original recipe developed by Linsey Corbin, professional Team CLIF Bar triathlete.




  • 1 cup unbleached AP flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • a dash of nutmeg and ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda


  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup canned butternut squash (could use fresh roasted too or substitute pumpkin)
  • 1/4 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
  • 1/3 cup plain, nonfat yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 egg


  • desired quantity chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

In one mixing bowl, stir together dry ingredients. In a second bowl, mix together wet ingredients.

Fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Spray a mini or regular muffin tin with non stick spray. For regular muffins, fill tins 2/3 full and bake 20-25 minutes. For mini muffins, evenly divide batter using a cooking scoop or tablespoon. Bake ~15 minutes.

This recipe yielded ~30 mini muffins or 12 regular muffins




This afternoon, we went to Mellow Mushroom’s third annual beerfest. This was our second beerfest:






I only stayed a little while because someone was being antsy ;)



Tomorrow, I’m throwing a baby shower for a friend and then hopefully relaxing and watching football! What are you up to?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween Food & Fun

Did you have a good Halloween? For all those still dealing with the crazy Sandy aftermath, I hope you were able to get a little celebrating in. Ridiculous storm!

We had a busy night at our house. We dressed up as an Eagles team/cheerleader. Frank will not wear a costume, so we’ll just pretend he is the football :) :


We get mobbed every year and went through five Costco sized bags of candy:


Kaylin enjoyed seeing all of the kids, but didn’t understand why they were so interested in the candy. She preferred playing with/drinking out of my water bottle:


We had family and friends over to help give out candy. To keep us fueled, we had turkey meatballs:


Cookies and peanuts:


Chick-fil-A nuggets:


Mandi’s gorgeous and delicious fall salad:


Josh’s Mom’s guacamole and vegetables. She also brought tortilla chips and hummus.


and our friend Andrew’s delicious fruit platter with Mandi’s Nutella Greek yogurt dip(unpictured). I love Halloween! What did you do to celebrate?