12.24.2013

Bourbon Maple Banana Bread



I'm combing my two favorite things this holiday season.


Baking and booze. Lovely, right?!


And you know how I hate to waste food. So when I see brown bananas, my mind is reeling with what I can do with them. The possibilities are endless. Waffles, pancakes, smoothies, and of course, a classic, banananana bread!


I am making this bread again tonight with the total intention to make it into french toast for Christmas morning. 


Bourbon Maple Banana Bread
Makes 1 loaf
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup of salted butter, melted
1/4-1/3 cup of maple syrup (depending on how sweet you want it)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup non-fat Greek Yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups of flour (I use a combination of 1 cup whole wheat pastry and 1 cup all purpose)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together the melted butter and mashed banana. Mix in the maple syrup, sugar, yogurt, vanilla, eggs, and bourbon, then the spices. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix. Pour mixture into a buttered loaf pan and bake on the middle rack 45-55 minutes or until a butter knife comes out clean. Cool on a rack and slice it up when your ready. 



Happy Christmas!

Erica

12.20.2013

Candied Orange Peels


Holy crap. Christmas is in 5 days, friends. Even though I am somewhat in denial about the holiday being like right now, I am proud to say I was done with my Christmas shopping and shipping on Tuesday. High five for me. But now I am in crunch mode; hunkering down and making little homemade treats for my local people and co-workers. I've made a few batches of my Rosemary Lemon Sea Salt and now I am on to these guys...



Truth be told, I can't stop snacking on these myself. I NEED to give them away fast. More truth, I'll probably just stash a jar away for a little treat here and there.

These little jewels take a bit of time to make, but they are totally worth it. Your dentist will hate you, but everyone else will love you. It's just your dentist, you see them twice a year, who cares right?!



Candied Orange Peels
Adapted from Epicurious
6 large naval oranges
4 cups of water
4 cups of sugar, plus more for rolling

Cut the tops and bottoms off each orange. Make about 6 slits along curve from top to bottom of each orange, cutting slightly through peel but not into fruit. Using your fingers, gently remove peel. Slice each piece of peel lengthwise into 1/4 inch wide strips. Trim excess pith from each strip. You can use a vegetable peel for this if that's helpful.

Place peels in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. Drain, rinse, and repeat. 

Bring 4 cups of sugar and 4 cups of water to a boil over medium heat, stirring to make sure the sugar dissolves. Add the peels, return to a boil, then and reduce heat to a simmer for an hour without stirring. Once the peels are translucent in color, turn off the heat and let the peels cool for about 5-10 minutes in the syrup. 

Using a slotted spoon or fork, transfer the peels to a rimmed baking sheet and toss with sugar, separating each strip. Transfer the peels to a wire rack, piece of foil or parchment paper to dry. Coating will take about 24 hours to dry. 

You can use any kind of citrus. I had oranges on hand, but I think grapefruit or lemon would be yummy. 

Save the fruit for other uses - I froze mine for smoothies. Save the sugary simple syrup by straining it through a fine mesh sieve or strainer and use it for cocktails or pancakes! 





12.16.2013

Rosemary Lemon Salt


Homemade gifts are my favorite! To give and to get. They show so much thoughtfulness and personal touch. Homemade edible gifts, to me, are the very best. 


I try to make treats every year for my loved ones. So far, I think this has been one my favorite, because right now, I am on a salt kick.

I want salt on everything! Savory and or sweet; who cares. And, if it's flavored salt, well that's even better!


So, here is one of my homemade holiday gifts this year. Rosemary Lemon Salt!


It is so easy and so good! I've used it on avocado toast, chicken, fish, salads. It's pretty great


All you need is a little lemon, rosemary, salt, and a cute containers like these and you are good to go.


First, you've got to dry your rosemary. It is really easy. All you have to do to is put a fresh sprig of rosemary in the microwave for about 1 minute and it is dry. I started by doing 30 seconds first to see how it went, and added more time from there. All funcookers vary.


Then, take a washed lemon. Dry it off and using a microplane, zest! But don't zest too much that you get into the pith (white bitter part of the lemon). Spread the zest onto a plate and zap it. But not as long as the rosemary. Start with about 10 seconds here and keep going until it is dried out. Use a tooth pick or fork to help separate the peel if it is clumpy.


Then you mix it all together.


Pour it into your pretty jar! There you have it, a lovely holiday gift. Give it to a friend, give it to a host, or just give it to yourself.


Rosemary Lemon Salt
1 tsp dried rosemary, chopped
1 tsp dried lemon peel
1/4 cup of coarse, flaky sea salt

1. Dry your herbs and citrus: Take 1 sprig of fresh rosemary and place it on a microwave safe dish or paper towel. Start by microwaving the rosemary on high for 30 seconds and keep going until dried. Next, wash and dry a lemon and zest with a mircoplane. Place lemon peel on a plate and microwave on high for 10 seconds, then again until it dries out. Use a toothpick or fork to de-clump as needed.
2. Measure: Use 1/4 cup salt for every 1 teaspoon of flavoring.
3. Combine: Using a mortar and pestle, your fingers or pulse in a coffee or spice grinder. Mix well but avoid crush the salt too much.
4. Store and Use: Let the salt sit for 24 hours before using. Store in an airtight container and it should last up to a year. Use often and all of the things. Over time, the flavor will be less intense.


What's your favorite homemade gift to give or get?

Cheers!

Erica

12.12.2013

You Should Go: Urban Adamah


Last January, my BRF Laura found a Zozi deal for this amazing (and kinda super hippy) yoga deal. It was a Yoga Farm to Table Experience where you do a 75 minute yoga session, take a farm tour, and are fed a local, fresh lunch afterwards. 
I looked it over and figured, hey I like yoga, I like food, and I like Laura, so let's do this thing. So, deal bought.
Laura and I are both pretty busy ladies and we went back and forth for, oh about 11 months, trying to schedule this thing. Seriously, we bought this deal in last January and just did it this past weekend! 

Anyway, last Monday I get an email from Wild Soul, who hosts these experiences and many others (pst...you should check them out too), telling me there is an event on Sunday in Berkeley. Laura was free, I was free, plus this thing expired on December 31st, so we had to be free and get on it.
And so we yoga'd and ate and I am so super duper happy we didn't let this deal expire on us. It was such a great way to spend a Sunday.
First, let me tell you a little about the farm we had this shindig at, Urban Adamah! “Adamah” means “Earth” in Hebrew, and Urban Adamah is an educational farm and community center in Berkeley. They integrate Jewish traditions,sustainable agriculture, mindfulness and social action. They provide educational programs and community celebrations for more than 5,000 visitors a year. The organic farm donates their produce to the local community through food banks and a weekly Free Farm Stand. One of the coolest things they offer is a residential fellowship program for young adults that combines farming, progressive Jewish living and social justice internships. Urban Adamah also offers farm-based programs for school-age children. Kind of an awesome place for a little 1 archer farm in the middle of a city.

Here are some photos from our yoga, farm tour, and of course, the FOOD!
You should go there.

12.09.2013

Roasted Cranberry Scones


I hate wasting food.

Especially leftover Thanksgiving food.

I specifically make extra to have leftovers and I do not want a drop to go un-devoured in one way or another.

After last Thursday, I think we did really well! 

I made this turkey stock on Thanksgiving evening. We've had countless turkey sands, I've had my roasted cranberries on the side of leftover pound cake and I'll use more up in some morning yogurt or oatmeal, and earlier this week I made turkey tortilla soup. 


Like I said, so far so good, but I still had some leftover cranberries, so I knew I needed to get baking. After all, tis the season for butter and sugar right?

I decided on scones and these ended up being a fantastic way to use up more of my roasted cranberries. They aren't too sweet, the cranberries add a nice tangy bite, and I used Greek yogurt instead of sour cream to make them a little more guiltless.


I had one for lunch today. It was a good choice.


Roasted Cranberry Scones
Adapted from Pam Anderson's Simple Scones // Makes 8
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cups whole wheat pastry flour 
(Use 2 cups of AP flour to sub pastry flour if needed)
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen
1/2 cup leftover roasted cranberries 
1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
1 large egg
1-2 tsp of raw sugar for sprinkling on top

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Grate butter into flour mixture on the large holes of a box grater; use your fingers to work in butter (mixture should resemble coarse meal), then stir in the cranberries.
In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt and egg until smooth.
Using a fork, stir sour cream mixture into flour mixture until large dough clumps form. Use your hands to press the dough against the bowl into a ball. (The dough will be sticky in places, and there may not seem to be enough liquid at first, but as you press, the dough will come together.)
Place on a lightly floured surface and pat into a 7- to 8-inch circle about 3/4-inch thick.  Use a sharp knife or dough cutter to cut into 8 triangles; place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle a bit of raw sugar on top of each square. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes.
Cool for 5 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature. Should keep in a air tight container for 3-5 days. 


How'd you do with leftovers? Do any thing fun with them? 

Cheers!

Erica

12.02.2013

November Adventures!

It's December.

I don't know about you, but I wasn't ready for November to end. Maybe that's because I tried to celebrate my birthday the entire month. What? You don't do that...you totally should. It was fun :)

Here's a bit of my November life.


11.25.2013

Roasted Cranberry Sauce



Happy Thanksgiving Week!

This is quite possibly my favorite week of the year. It is just full of goodness. Meaning, of course food, booze, more food, family, and more food. I love it.

I'm a big side item kinda girl. The turkey is the prize, but I love the variety of unquie foods you can add to your plate. Plus, that means more leftovers!



One thing I always make is my own cranberry sauce. I don't even like cranberry with my turkey, but I make it time and time again. I figure, someone at the table might like it with their turkey, and if they don't, I have some quick jam for my toast the next day.



This stuff, I've been eating by the spoonful. It is so fresh, tart, and sweet all at the same time. I think I'll have to make another batch because this won't last until Thursday.



I actually am thinking about serving it pre-feast on a baguette with some goat cheese - HELLO!



I can feel my jeans getting tighter by the second...

Roasted Cranberry Sauce
Adapted from Bon Appetit
This is a fun twist on an old classic. The roasted cranberries become sweet and caramelized in the hot oven resulting in a nutty tartness that people won't want to pass on.  

12 ounces of fresh cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh minced rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh minced sage
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup of red wine
2 tablespoons water

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, oil, vinegar, herbs, and sea salt. Add the cranberries and toss until everything is well coated. Prepare a rimmed baking sheet and cover with parchment paper. Add the cranberry mixture to the baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. While the cranberries are in the oven, bring the red wine and water to a boil over medium heat. After the 15 minutes are up, toss the wine mix with the cranberry mix and continue to roast another 10 minutes until everything is gooey and bubbly. Transfer to a bowl and let it cool before eating. You can make this a few days before Turkey day to help with prep!



Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Cheers,

Erica



11.18.2013

You Should Go: Tomales Bay Oyster Company



Sunshine in November! I love it. Not too sure how long it will last, but I am going to enjoy it all while I can. 

Speaking on sunshine, last weekend was the best. I celebrated my (early) birthday in true "Erica style" with lots of food, good wine, and the warm sun of California. It was spectacular. 

11.03.2013

October Adventures!

It's been a while since I chatted up my monthly adventures. This month was exceptionally amazing, so needless to say, I needed to share it with the world. I drank a ton of wine, ran 2 half marathons, past my first  LCSW exam (one more to go), and watched about 25 scary movies with C..

Happy November here we come!


10.31.2013

Candy Corn Bark


I couldn't resist. 

I am sorry/not sorry. 

This stuff is a little addicting (therefore I am bringing to it work today).

Wait, I might save a little to snack on tonight while watching scary movies. 

But let's face it, its Halloween, so treat yo self. 


Tomorrow we can do burpees together.


Candy Corn Bark
Inspired by Alyson's Christmas Crack
1 sleeve of saltine crackers
1 10 oz bag of dark chocolate chips
1 cup of crushed pretzels
3/4 cup of candy corn
3 oz of white chocolate chips
1 tsp coconut oil

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay out the saltines so they cover the bottom of the baking sheet (doesn't have to be perfect looking, just line them up). Place the dark chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and gradual melt it using 30 second intervals. After each 30 seconds, stir the chocolate to ensure it melts as evenly as possible. When it is all melted, pour it over the crackers. Sprinkle of the pretzels and candy corn. Then repeat the same process to melt the white chocolate and add the coconut oil to the bowl. One the white chocolate and oil is melted, drizzle it on top with a fork or spoon. Let it cool and harden before digging in. I actually threw mine in the fridge for 30 minutes to speed up this process.

Once it is completely cooled and hardened, break it up into pieces!



Happy Halloween!

Erica


10.23.2013

Homemade Almond Milk


For the second day in a row, I'm home sick. I actually got up this morning, took a shower, made my lunch and went in the office. Within the hour, my boss sent me home. I agreed. What was I thinking anyway? 

Sure, I like being off work, but not when I actually don't feel good. I'm not a great sick person. I don't like medicine, I hate not being able to work out and I tend to get bored at home pretty quickly. Yesterday, I dragged out all of our files, threw a bunch of old stuff away and proceeded to relabeled and reorganize everything. 

Now, here I am. Sitting at home, again, watching The Walking Dead. I think I only have a few episodes left, so I am sure I'll try and keep busy in the kitchen next. I made a batch of this almond milk on Monday evening, so I should just go ahead and bake up some pumpkin granola to go along with it. 

10.17.2013

Pumpkin Granola


Like I told you last week, from now until Thanksgiving, pumpkin is my jam and my oven is hot! Pumpkin for everyone!

I am loving this granola lately and added it to my Meal Prep over the past few weeks.

My favorite way of eating, besides by the handful, is with fresh, homemade almond milk (recipe next week) with a drizzle of maple syrup or honey.

Hmm...fall, I love you.



Pumpkin Granola
Serving size is about 1/2 cup
2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (sub pecans or almonds)
3 tablespoons of sesame seeds
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup pureed pumpkin
2 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
4 tablespoon maple syrup
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup pepita seeds
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Combine the oats, walnuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin pie spice and salt in a medium size bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, mix together the pumpkin puree, coconut oil, and maple syrup until well combined. Add the pumpkin mixture to the oats and stir until everything is well coated. Spread evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 35 minutes, turning the oats at about the 15 minute mark to make sure everything cooks evenly. At 35 minutes, add the coconut flakes until they are browned at the edges, about 3-5 minutes. They can brown fast, so stay close to the oven and watch them. Once they are browned, take everything out of the oven and cool for about 10 minutes. toss the pepita seeds and raisins and enjoy!



Enjoy!

Erica

10.04.2013

Simple Roasted Spaghetti Squash


It's finally October!! I can officially break out the pumpkin stuff and turn my oven on full blast (right after this Indian Summer thing passes at least). Soon, I'll be baking like crazy, roasting every vegetable I can find, and finding all the hearty soups that have been calling my name during the hot summer months.

On a side note, October means the holidays are crazy close. Seriously, I was in Target the other night and there are freaking Christmas decorations up already. Crazy!

So, lets be pro-active before the holidays hit. Let's get stay healthy before I am stuffing a pound of butter in my grocery cart - because this will be happening next month. 

Let's roast some squash and pretend it's noodles.


10.01.2013

Maui Adventures: Part II


Onto the next round of our Maui vacation.

First of all, check out my packing skills. I only brought a carry on, my tote, and my purse that's stuffed inside my tote. Impressive right! C had a carry on too...some of my things might have been stuffed in there too, but the point is, we didn't need to check any bags. Part of my secret - I have something similar to these guys. Plus, I figured I'd be in my bathing suit most of the time, those don't take up much room. 

9.23.2013

Maui Adventures: Part I: Planning


When we moved to California two years ago, one of the first things I mentioned to the husband was - Hawaii! Seriously, this is the closest we are going to get to the islands, so LET'S GO!

It took two years of building up some seniority and time off at work and finding loving friends that would watch our old lady dog, but we did it! It was nothing short of ah-mazing.

Any way, I've been totally dragging my feet about writing my post about our trip. Because, once I publish this, its all officially over. Even though, yeah I know, I've been back for 2 weeks. Let me stay in this dream a little longer please.

I decided to break up my post so they aren't too long. Plus, I have over 350 photos and love them all, so it takes time to narrow my favorites down to share.

So this is my part 1. The planning - one of my favorite parts.

When planning there were a few key things I was looking for in this vacation: 1. A direct flight - just get me there asap 2. Not too touristy 3. A placewith a kitchen so we didn't have to eat out a million times a day 4. Near the water

After researching all the different islands, talking to friends who've vacationed there before, and checking airfare prices it was decided we were going to Maui.

First thing I did was book the flight.

We picked September because it was right after the summer holidays, so most people had there vacations over with and were back to school. September is the end of Hawaii's big summer season too, so prices were trending down for this time of year. The cheapest and best option for us was flying with Alaskan Airlines. It was the first time we flew with them and it was great! Nothing special really, but they had these cute itineraries for us, which I loved.



After we booked the flights, I went to the library and checked our several guidebooks to get to know the island so I could figure out where stay. Some of my friends who traveled there stayed at two different places on the island so they could explore more, but I really didn't want to pack in the middle of vacation. I wanted a place that was quiet, clean, safe, a reasonable distance from everything, and on the water. After reading about three books (Maui Revealed, Frommer's Maui Guide, and Discover Maui), it was time to book something.

Picking where to stay on was tricking. The north/northeast side seemed perfect, but I kept reading it can be pretty windy at times. The southeastern part, around Kihei and Wailea can have some good local places but then you are right next to the big fancy pants resorts, which made some places really pricey. Upcountry is mostly farms. The west side near Lahaina has the only downtown on the island with lots of great restaurants, but can be super touristy. So, I decided on the west side, but about 20 minutes north of Lahaina near Kaanapali.

Kannapali has a lot of beautiful resorts and beaches, but its not in the middle of everything. Once you past Kaanapali, there is a string of lovely condos and that's where we laid our hats for 7 nights and 8 amazing days.

I found our condo on www.vrbo.com, vacation rentals by owner. It was such a great resource for picking a place. All the places are owned by individual people, so it's like you are staying in someone's home - which was cozier than a resort. Some places even stock your condo with boogie boards, coolers, beach chairs and snorkel gear. You can filter with a bunch of options to get the place that best meets all your wants. I wanted with a kitchen and next to the water. Simple enough yeah?


Place to stay - check and done. We had this lovely view from our lanai. Not bad at all. There wasn't a direct beach access, but it was just right down the road.

After that, the only big things was getting a rental car. Public transportation isn't a good option on Maui. If you stay at a resort, they have shuttle options, but that wasn't our case. We wanted to explore, so renting a car was basically our only option. I booked a few cars early on (you can reserve one without a credit card on some sites), but I kept checking different options because prices were ridiculous! Even if the cars were $10 a day to rent, the taxes and fees were $100s of dollars. Local places like Aloha Rent A Car or Maui Car Rentals were a little cheaper, but still crazy. After a while, I started bidding for cars of Priceline and finally scored a decent deal. My advise - reserve early and keep looking. You can always cancel stuff as long as you don't put down your credit card. Also, just don't get a mustang. Just don't.

Those were my three major things I had to book and once that was done - that's pretty much all I planned. Which is totally out of character for me. But, my goal was to relax and just go with it when we got there.

So, enough of the planning process...onto the trip, right! . I'll be posting Part II soon, stay tuned!

Cheers,

Erica


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