Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Weekly Finds


Fluffy Peanut Butter Pancakes I've never thought of putting peanut butter in pancakes!

Lemon Blueberry Pancakes That blueberry syrup...

Sandwiches and Soups:


Quick Pickled Blueberries An interesting way to preserve blueberries besides making jam!

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

Blueberry Cobbler Bread I love that this bread fully committed to being purple

Perfect Vanilla Scones A dense scone, instead of the typical light and crumbly one


Buttermilk Ranch Biscuits A cool idea for flavored biscuits!

Hasselback Cheesy Garlic Bread Oh my...


Glazed Honey Garlic Shrimp These will be great on the grill

Five Cheese Skillet Mac and Cheese Wow this looks indulgent


Cheesy Summer Stuffed Poblanos These look awesome, and much better than the typical stuffed pepper

Zucchini and Corn Parmesan Fritters 



Peach and Cardamom Lemonade Like a lemony peach pie in a glass!


Yoga After Strength Training Cool down with this yoga sequence after strength training

40 Squat Variations You Have to Try 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Buttery, Flaky Biscuits Made with Greek Yogurt

We hosted a friend for brunch yesterday morning. This was a very last minute decision, and required some creative cooking since we didn't have that much food on hand! Thankfully our brunch guest brought eggs, queso fresco and spinach to help out with omelet ingredients.

When we were running through our ideas, we realized that we didn't have anything for toast. We were out of sandwich bread, and the idea of frozen english muffins didn't sound very appealing. Running to the store seemed like unnecessary effort, especially since we would have to go back later that day for real grocery shopping. Joey had a flash of genius, and asked me how hard it would be to make biscuits. I checked, and we had almost all of the ingredients we needed. The only thing we were missing was buttermilk, and as before, it seemed silly to go to the store for just the one thing. I looked online, and found a buttermilk substitute using greek yogurt and milk - perfect! I know you can also make it with milk and lemon juice, but since we only had almond milk, I wasn't sure if that would work very well.

The greek yogurt + milk combination was perfect. It got to the exact consistency of buttermilk, and kept the tangy flavor. We always have greek yogurt and almond milk on hand, but rarely have buttermilk. I'm definitely using this substitution again! If you want to make something extra rich, you could use full fat yogurt and/or half and half for part of the liquid. You could also make it less rich, by using fat-free yogurt and water instead of the milk.

I slightly adapted a recipe I've made before, Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits. Like I said, I used greek yogurt and almond milk instead of the buttermilk, and then I omitted the cheddar since Joey wanted a plain biscuit. They were absolute perfection - they got really tall, with flaky layers of buttery goodness. Since we didn't use cheese, we could top them with anything.

Recipe: Greek Yogurt Biscuits
Adapted from Shutterbean
Yield: 10-12 biscuits

2 cups all purpose flour + extra for rolling
1 tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt (1 tsp if you are using table salt)
12 tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), diced and kept cold
1/4 cup greek yogurt
1/4 cup almond milk
1 egg
1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp water

Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the butter, and cut in with a pastry blender or your fingers until the butter pieces are no larger than a pea.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together the yogurt and milk until smooth. Beat in the egg. Add to the flour/butter mixture, and gently fold everything together. Once it is mostly combined, dump out onto a lightly floured surface. Turn over a few times to incorporate the flour, and then pat it into a rough rectangle. Cut in half (long way) and then in 5-6 rows (short way), for a total of 10 or 12 pieces. The end pieces might not be perfect rectangles.

Carefully transfer to your lined pan. Lightly brush the tops with the egg wash. Bake for 20-25 minutes (mine always take exactly 22 minutes). Enjoy while hot! They are delicious with butter or jam. If you make them larger, you can even use them for mini egg sandwiches.

Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins with Surprise Cream Cheese Filling

I needed to make some kind of dark muffin with a cream filling for a bachelorette party. They were made in a uniquely shaped mold -- I'm not actually typing what I made, since I don't want to direct some inappropriate searches my way!

After I made the bachelorette-themed muffins, I made some standard muffins for myself, and they were absolutely delicious! I used a pumpkin muffin recipe for inspiration, and made just a few changes so it was chocolate, and wasn't as heavily spiced.

* Note: You don't have to use special dark cocoa powder, but I definitely recommend it. It is a blend of natural and dutch processed cocoa powder, which gives you the best of both worlds. It also gives you a crazy dark color, which I think is more fun

Recipe: Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins with Surprise Cream Cheese Filling
Yield: 12 muffins
Adapted from Annie's Eats

4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 cup flour
1/2 cup special dark cocoa powder *see note above
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
2/3 cup vegetable oil

Mix together the cream cheese and powdered sugar in a small bowl, and keep refrigerated.

Preheat oven to 350 and spray muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and baking powder. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, pumpkin and oil until well blended. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture in increments, mixing until just barely combined.

Fill each muffin well with a small amount of batter, and spread out so it covers the bottom. Add a scoop of the cream cheese mixture on top, dividing evenly between all of the wells. Cover each well with more muffin batter, using up the remainder of the batter.

Bake at 350 for 25, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack. Enjoy warm (but be careful of the hot filling!), at room temperature, or even chilled (they taste really fudgy that way).

The light was weird here, and they didn't look quite as dark

268 calories
15.2 g fat
33 g carbs
2.6 g fiber
4.0 g protein
53% vitamin A

And in case you were curious, here are some pictures of the "bachelorette-themed" cupcakes! I only filled part of them with the cream cheese filling, thought it made them a bit more realistic...

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Yoga + Running/Strength Workout

I can't believe it's already August. It feels like the summer has just flown by. The bus on the way into work was packed this morning - orientation is starting for the med students. One of the reasons I enjoy the summers in Charlottesville so much is that at least half of the population is gone. Without the undergrads and a good portion of the med students, traffic is reduced, it's less noisy, and the bus is never crowded. This morning was just a reminder that everyone will be back soon, and the summer will be wrapping up. While I don't have a "summer vacation," and summer really isn't that different work-wise from the rest of the year, I feel like everything is much more relaxed and flexible. I'll go out to the courtyard and read for a little while because the weather is gorgeous. Even when I'm stuck in lab all day, it's still light out when I get home, and I don't feel like I missed the entire day. I'm not looking forward to shorter days!

This just means that I'm going to take advantage of them while I can. On Monday, I did a "sunset" yoga class outside. I call it "sunset" because it was from 6:45-7:45 and the sun definitely hadn't set yet. It was a warm and beautiful day, and I really enjoyed it. The classrooms in the AFC are having their floors redone, which means that there are a lot of "pop-up" classes outside. Ann is holding her class at Nameless Field from 6-7pm on Monday August 11th and Monday August 18th, and I'm planning on attending! She's also doing a "sunrise" class from 7:30-8:30am Tuesday August 12th at the stadium, but I'm not sure if I'll make that one. 

The class on Monday was really nice - it's nice getting back into yoga, while not feeling like I forgot everything I learned last year. At the end of the class she decided she wanted a picture, and it turned out pretty well! I am seriously impressed that the three girls on the right held their down dog pose for that long. 

On Tuesday, I decided to walk over to the Chemistry building and donate blood at the mobile Virginia Blood Services location. It worked out well, since Joey didn't have practice that night, and could donate with me. I was really nervous, since I hadn't tried donating in almost 10 years! I tried a few times back in high school and the beginning of college, but either didn't have success in filling the bag, or felt incredibly weak and sick for days after. I eventually stopped trying, since I felt it wasn't worth it if it made me feel that sick. Part of the problem was with getting into my vein - it seemed like it always rolled, and they had to spend a lot of time poking around. In lab, we get blood from healthy donors pretty frequently, so I decided to give that a try as a first test. I've had my blood drawn probably half a dozen times now in lab, and nobody has ever had any problems. I think that being active has made my veins a little more prominent, and easier to get into. Tuesday went pretty well. I took a lot longer than Joey to fill up the bag (he took 5 minutes - no joke), but I did successfully fill it up. I felt a little drained and weak for a few hours after, but felt completely fine by the end of the night, besides my arm being a bit sore. 

I felt completely recovered by Wednesday. I planned on doing a workout that night, and Joey suggested that I try not to push it, since I was still replenishing my blood supply. This is the workout I did. I had planned on doing 1/2 mile between circuits and 1 mile at the end, but I just ran out of time and energy. I was also planning on doing each circuit 3x through, but that just didn't happen. As it was, the workout took a little over an hour, so it's probably a good thing that I cut it short. Planning the workout was fun. I made 5 categories of some fun exercises - Abs, Arms, Legs, Arms+Core, Whole Body (usually some combination of Arms, Legs and/or Core). Then I just chose three from each category and put them together for three circuits. Everything I picked was bodyweight or used dumbbells, so I didn't need very much equipment. I think you could use this format with any combination of exercises, so please try it out! I have links below with descriptions of each exercise. 

·      V Sits: 10 extensions http://www.fitsugar.com/How-Do-V-Sits-32661758
·      Single-Leg Scarecrow: 10 per side http://www.fitsugar.com/photo-gallery/33519061/Single-Leg-Scarecrows
·      Squat with Side Leg Lift: 10 per side http://www.fitsugar.com/Butt-Exercise-Tone-Lift-Glutes-5574014
·      High to Low Woodchop: 10 per side http://www.fitsugar.com/photo-gallery/34866576/High-Low-Woodchop
·      Sumo Squat with Biceps Curls: 10 reps http://www.fitsugar.com/photo-gallery/35178588/Sumo-Squat-Bicep-Curls
·      Overhead Triceps Extensions: 10 reps http://www.fitsugar.com/photo-gallery/35180377/Overhead-Triceps-Extensions
·      Marching Bridge: 10 per side http://www.fitsugar.com/photo-gallery/34658500/Marching-Bridge
·      Lunge with Twist: 10 per side http://www.fitsugar.com/photo-gallery/34868006/Reverse-Lunge-Twist (forward lunge instead of reverse)
·      Elbow Plank with Alternating Arm Reach: 10 per side http://www.fitsugar.com/photo-gallery/34732354/Circuit-Two-Elbow-Plank-Alternating-Arm-Reach
·      Bent-Over Row: 10 reps http://www.fitsugar.com/Bent-Over-Row-1016822
·      Reverse Lunge: 10 per side http://www.fitsugar.com/How-Do-Reverse-Lunge-160059
·      Side Elbow Plank with Twist: 10 per side http://www.fitsugar.com/Side-Elbow-Plank-Twist-2856451

Monday, August 4, 2014

Bakery-Style Blueberry Muffins with Greek Yogurt

These are my new favorite muffins. They pack in a TON of blueberries and have a delightful scone-like texture. They are a lighter version of the muffin from your favorite bakery, since they are made with greek yogurt and are topped with raw sugar instead of a crumb topping. These really can be made year-round, with either fresh or frozen blueberries, but they're fantastic this time of year with in-season blueberries (especially when you find them at the grocery store for $1.99/pint!!) If you don't have raw sugar at home, just grab a few packets the next time you're at a coffee shop!

They get their scone-like texture from the extremely thick batter. It is seriously thick - I got a little concerned when I was making them, and was afraid I would end up with muffin-shaped cookies. In the end, they turn out perfectly! They are light and fluffy, but break open like a scone, while still being moist inside. They are delicious straight out of the oven, and store really well for several days. During the summer,  I like storing moist baked goods in the fridge since I'm afraid everything will get moldy. Then I just stick them in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. If you're going to keep them for longer than a few days, I would recommend wrapping them well and freezing.

Recipe: Bakery-Style Blueberry Muffins with Greek Yogurt
Adapted slightly from Food-Mouth
Yield: 12 muffins

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 pint blueberries (2 cups), fresh or frozen
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup plain Greek yogurt (non-fat or low-fat)
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
Raw sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 425 F and grease a standard muffin tin with butter or nonstick cooking spray.
Measure flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine.
In a separate bowl, mix egg, egg yolk, sugar and Greek yogurt until well combined. Add melted butter slowly while mixing, so you don't curdle the eggs.
Add the blueberries to the flour mixture, folding in gently as to not burst fresh berries.
Pour half of the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients and gently fold in. Pour remaining liquid and mix until just combined. It will be VERY thick.
Spoon the batter into the muffin tin - each will be almost full. Sprinkle each muffin top with raw sugar.
Bake at 425 F for 5 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 F and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Remove from oven and let muffins cool slightly before removing to a wire rack. Serve warm and enjoy!

237 calories
6.5 g fat
40.4 g carbs
1.5 g fiber
5.4 g protein (a protein boost from the yogurt!)

Pre-baked, very stiff dough

Post-baking, with a lightly browned top

Look how pretty those sugar crystals are

I took like 25 pictures trying to capture the steam coming out of the freshly cut into muffin. Do you see that tiny wisp?

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Weekly Finds

I probably shouldn't call this weekly finds anymore, since I definitely don't post this every week...


Shakshuka (Eggs in a Fiery Tomato Sauce) A really different way to eat your eggs

Blueberry Funfetti Pancakes 

Sandwiches and Soups:



Strawberry Streusel Skillet Sweet Bread This looks beautiful

Pull-Apart Garlic Cheese Bread This looks amazing

Homemade Sourdough Bread with step by step instructions/pictures

Pull-Apart Hawaiian Rolls

Vanilla and Cinnamon Bread This seems like a really unique loaf of bread, that could be just as good for savory sandwiches as it is for a sweet snack



Balsamic Roasted Tomatoes and Onions I want to put these on everything

Healthy Zucchini Fritters These sound delicious


Fudgy Nutty Streusel Bars So chocolate-y!

Samoas Ice Cream My favorite girl scout cookie!

Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies

Lavender Berry Pavlova So elegant

Homemade S'mores Marshmallows Genius - the graham crackers and chocolate are added right to the homemade marshmallows

Easy Blueberry Pie Gorgeous

Bourbon Brown Sugar Peach Ice Cream

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake with Brownie Crust

Sugar Cookie Cheesecake I love the sprinkles!

Blueberry Brownies Someone put blueberries in brownies! And they look delicious!

Soft and Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Banana Cakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Cast Iron Skillet Sunbutter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie I bet this would be great with peanut butter

Deep Dish Oatmeal Raisin Cookies There really is a theme this month with oatmeal cookies

Blueberry Crumb Cake

Ginger Peach Crumble 




Best Running Routes Hidden routes that only locals would know

Cooking Tips:

11 1/2 things you can do with a wooden spoon I actually used one to prop open an oven door the other day

Food for Thought:

Things I Like:

Roasted Vegetables with Thai Green Curry Simmer Sauce and Red Quinoa

Joey and I made a delicious dinner the other night, and it didn't require a lot of effort. I think it was the perfect semi-homemade meal for a weeknight dinner, and is even less time if you make some of the ingredients in advance.

When I got home from work, I got started on roasting a ton of veggies. I made more than we needed for this meal, so we would have extras. Since I made the veggies in advance, that meant that once we got back from Joey's frisbee game around 8, we wouldn't have to wait long for a complete meal. We cooked the quinoa while simmering the sauce with the pre-cooked veggies. Joey cooked some chicken to go with his - mine was a veggie-only dish since I wasn't in the mood for shrimp or tofu. 

This would work really well with any kind of veggies, and could be served over quinoa or rice. 

Recipe: Roasted Vegetables with Thai Green Curry Simmer Sauce and Red Quinoa
Yield: 3-4 servings

1/2 large onion, halved and sliced
4 medium cremini mushrooms, sliced (about 1 cup)
1 bell pepper, sliced
1 cup baby carrots
2 cups chopped broccoli
2 cups chopped cauliflower
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic
12 oz jar of Trader Joe's Thai Green Curry Simmer Sauce (or your favorite sauce)
1/2 cup bamboo shoots
2 cups chopped baby corn
1 cup red quinoa or brown rice

Preheat oven to 425 F. Line 2 sheet pans with foil and spray with Pam. Spread out the onion, mushrooms, pepper, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower on the prepared pans. Drizzle with the olive oil, tossing to coat. Sprinkle the salt, pepper and garlic on top. (I went light on seasoning, as to not interfere with the cooking sauce.) Put in the oven, and flip over the veggies every 10 minutes. It should take 25-30 minutes to cook. If some start cooking faster than others, pull them out and let the rest cook. (I had to take the broccoli out first.)

While the veggies are cooking, start your quinoa or brown rice. Brown rice will take a while to cook on the stove, and usually uses 2 - 2 1/2 cups of liquid for every cup of rice. Quinoa needs to be rinsed and drained before cooking, and usually uses 1 1/2 - 2 cups of liquid for every cup of quinoa. 

In a large sauce pan, combine the cooked veggies, the simmer sauce, bamboo shoots, and baby corn over low heat. Add a few tablespoons of water to the jar of sauce and shake it up, pour that in the pan as well (it helps get out every bit of the sauce!) Simmer with the lid on for 10-15 minutes, until the flavors have melded. If too much water evaporates from the sauce, feel free to add back some water or coconut milk, to thin it out. You want to have enough sauce to coat everything, and still have some to pour over your rice or quinoa. 

Please excuse the horrible pictures - we were in a hurry to eat!

Tons of veggies - this includes the extras I made

First time using red quinoa!

Here's the sauce we used

See - lots of sauce left to get soaked up by the quinoa

My finished plate