Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Happy Birthday, Vittles and Bits!

Today is V&B's one-year BLOGOVERSARY!

In honor of this very special day, I decided to compile a list of my personal favorite recipes (and edit some of the awful photos that I originally took! )

So in no particular order, here are my top 10 faves:































This past year I hope you all have enjoyed reading my posts & recipes as much as I have writing them.

But whether you've been reading since last March or this is your first time here - I thank you for visiting, for commenting, and for sharing your own stories and recipes with me.

Basically... thanks for making this so much FUN!

You guys are the best :)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sweet Lemon Waffles


I love sunny, weekend mornings. 

To wake up on Saturday and see the sun streaming through the blinds always puts me in a good mood.

Unfortunately, Mr. Vittles only shares this feeling with me one day a week.  He works Sundays March through September.  So on Saturdays, he usually gets up super early to make the most of his day.  Which means that even when I wake up in a good mood (like yesterday) big weekend breakfasts are usually not in the cards.

But yesterday I was really feeling like some waffles, so I decided... why not have breakfast for dinner?

I happen to like my waffles sweet & crispy, so I adapted Mark Bittman's basic waffles to include more sugar and also lemon & coconut milk - Mr. V said they tasted like fortune cookies!  He put real maple syrup on his, but I opted for fresh whipped cream & strawberrries.

Sugar, lemon, whipped cream, strawberries.... whooo-eee!

Ok, so maybe it was more like having dessert for dinner?

Sweet Lemon Waffles
 
  • 1 1/2 C. flour
  • 2 1/4 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/4 C. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 C. milk
  • 1/2 C. coconut milk
  • 1 t. lemon zest
  • 1 t. lemon juice
  • 4 T. butter, melted & cooled
 
Preheat waffle iron.  In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour through sugar).  In small bowl, whisk eggs with milks, lemon zest and lemon juice. Add butter and whisk to combine. 

Make a well in dry ingredients, then pour in wet.  Mix just until dry ingredients become wet - do not overmix.  Grease waffle iron and cook according to manufacturer's instructions.  Makes 3-6" waffles.

Recipe Adapted from Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything"

Friday, March 25, 2011

Cheddar & Herb Drop Biscuits


Today was a very special day for me.

I got to wear what I would call "real" shoes for the first time in months! 

Since I went back to work in mid-February after my foot surgery, I have had to wear running shoes every day with my dress clothes.  I even had to wear them to my friend's wedding.

And it has been awful. 

I felt the sneakers were least offensive when partially covered by pants, so I have not put on a dress since the beginning of January.

But I love skirts & dresses, so do you know how painful that has been for me?  Three whole months of ignoring probably the largest section of same-type items in my closet?

This morning, I spent so long looking at all the potential outfits I could wear that I didn't have time to stop for my usual coconut iced coffee at D&D...

...which would normally be a catastrophe, but I was so jacked up on my excitement to put on a high-waisted skirt & black boots that I didn't even need caffeine!

Not to mention it's Friday. 

And after the past two days (where it actually snowed a little bit here despite the supposed beginning of Spring) it was sunny out. 

And... I came home from work and nibbled one of these leftover biscuits from last night's dinner. 


AHHH!

Seriously - could life get any better?

Actually, maybe if the biscuits had crumbled bacon in them that might be better. 

?

Just throwing that out there.

Cheddar and Herb Drop Biscuits

  • 1 C. all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. white sugar
  • 1/4 t. cream of tartar
  • 1/2 t. garlic powder
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 2 t. minced, fresh parsley (or other herb of your choice)
  • 1/2 C. cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/4 C. melted butter
  • 1/2 C. milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, cream of tartar, garlic powder, salt, and parsley.  Stir in butter, milk, and cheese until dry ingredients are just moistened (and cheese is evenly distributed). 

Drop batter by 1/4 C. on lightly greased cookie sheet.  Bake until golden on edges, 17-20 minutes, and serve warm.  Makes 6 biscuits.

Recipe Adapted from AllRecipes.com

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Thai-Style Iced Tea


In college, my two best friends there Natalie and Flavia were both vegetarians and Thai is one of their favorite cuisines.

They are the ones who introduced me to Thai food, and since then I've never looked back.

My past 3 birthday dinners with Mr. Vittles were spent at our local Thai restaurant.  (Mr. V is not as much of a fan as I, so that's why I always pick it then - he can't say no!)

Usually when I eat out, I get water to drink and maybe an appetizer to share on rare occasions.  But every time I have Thai food, I'm sure to get spring rolls as an appetizer and thai iced tea to drink.

After my birthday last month, I decided to see if I could replicate Thai-style iced tea at home (spring rolls, no - I'm not even going there).  A lot of online research seemed to suggest I had to buy some sort of orange "Thai seasoning" powder from an Asian market.

Yeah... not so much.

But I didn't give up, and my perseverance led me to SustainabiliTEA, the weblog of Arbor Teas, where I learned I could can make it by simply brewing strong black tea & adding sweetened condensed milk, sugar, and evaporated milk. 

Ok, now we're talking.

I wouldn't go as far as to say it tastes just like you'd get at a restaurant - but it's pretty darn close, and I like the fact that I can use items readily available at any supermarket.

And the best part is - I don't have to wait til next February to enjoy this yummy drink.

Thai-Style Iced Tea

  • 8 bags high quality black tea (I used organic 'breakfast blend' black tea)
  • 4 C. boiling water
  • 1/3 C. sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 T. sugar (you can use more or less to taste, but Thai iced tea is usually very sweet)
  • 3/4 C. evaporated milk (most traditional) or half & half, whole milk, or coconut milk
Steep tea bags in boiling water for 5 minutes, then remove.  Add sugar and sweetened condensed milk immediately, and stir to combine.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.   Add ice to 4 glasses, and pour tea mixture over ice.  Top off each glass with evaporated milk, but do not stir - it should remain at the top of the glass as it's own layer.  Serve immediately.

Note: The color is not very orang-ey, so if you want to make it look more authentic you can add a little yellow and red food coloring to the mixture before refrigerating it.

Recipe Adapted from Arbor Teas

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Lemon-Spiked Basmati Rice


A long, long time ago I shared with you a recipe for Chili Lime Basmati Rice.  Since then, it has become my go-to rice recipe and to put it mildly - I'm obsessed with it.

Mr. Vittles calls it "Your Rice" (meaning mine) because every time I make it I can't shut up about how delicious it is.

I pile giant scoopfuls on my plate and sometimes go back for seconds.

I eat the leftovers without anything else as the 'main' dish (because it's really the main dish of MY meal anyway.)

Let me tell you why I love this rice.  First of all- it's made in the oven.  Which is perfect for someone like me, who always manages to completely ruin a pan of rice on the stoveptop.

Second of all, the citrus in the rice makes it smell and taste absolutely heavenly.  Nevermind the cream and the butter, which certainly don't hurt either!

The Chili Lime recipe was the result of minor changes to a recipe by Kathy Casey for Lemon-Spiked Basmati Rice but I recently decided that since I loved the lime so much, I should at least give the lemon one a try.

And while the lime version is still my favorite, the lemon is awesome

I beg of you - try one of these versions of this rice.  It will seriously change your life.

Lemon-Spiked Basmati Rice
  • 1 C. basmati rice, rinsed and drained well
  • 3 T. butter
  • 3/4 C. 1/4-inch-diced onions
  • 1 1/2 t. minced garlic
  • small pinch cayenne
  • 1 1/2 C. water
  • 1 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 t. minced lemon zest
  • 1 1/4 t. salt
  • 2 T. thinly sliced chives or fresh cilantro
Preheat oven to 375°F. Place the very well-drained rice in a 1 1/2-quart baking dish.

Heat the oil in a nonstick or heavy saucepan. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the remaining ingredients, except the rice and chives, and bring to a boil.

Stir the mixture into the rice, being sure to scrape up and include all the goodies. Seal tightly with foil and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the rice is tender and all the liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork before serving, then fold in the chives.

Recipe from Kathy Casey

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Candy Cake


So I like to think I've been around the block and back with baking... but I have to admit, this cake kinda threw me for a loop. 

I am used to creaming the butter and sugar, then adding the wet ingredients.  But this cake barely has any butter (no oil either) and the sugar gets treated like a 'dry' ingredient.

Hmm.  So what gives?

I read up on this method of baking cakes, and apparently it yields a shorter cake but one that's more tender and velvety.

Umm...I can get down with that. 

Especially when it's slathered in chocolate and peanut butter. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Candy Cake

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 t. vanilla
  • pinch salt
  • 1 C. sugar
  • 1 C. flour
  • 1/2 C. milk
  • 1 T. butter, melted
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 C. peanut butter
  • 2 T. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 C. semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 C. milk chocolate chips
  • 1/4 C. heavy cream
Preheat oven 350 degrees.  Grease 8" square metal pan.

In small bowl, combine sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt.  Whisk to distribute ingredients evenly.  In separate large mixing bowl, beat eggs on medium-high until lemon-colored.  Add milk and butter, and whisk together. 

Add dry ingredients and stir briefly to combine, then increase speed to medium and mix about one minute more.  Pour into prepared pan and bake 20-25 minutes - do not overbake.

While cake is baking, blend powdered sugar into peanut butter until fluffy.  When cake is finished baking, spread peanut butter mixture evenly over top and refrigerate 30 minutes until set.

Then combine chocolate chips with heavy cream in microwave-safe bowl or large measuring cup.  Heat in 20 second intervals, stirring after each, until mixture is smooth.  Pour over cake and use spatula to spread evenly.

Refrigerate aboute an hour or until chocolate is set and serve.  Keep leftovers refrigerated.

Recipe Adapted from Allrecipes.com

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Iced French Toast Latte


I was in a grocery store this week that has a fabulous coffee bar, and saw that one of their specials this month was a french toast latte.

Hold. The. Phone.

French toast latte? That sounded amazing.

However, this was in the early evening, and I try not to drink coffee that late in the day (otherwise I don't sleep well).

But I could not get this latte off my mind.

So, this weekend I decided to try and replicate it at home.  Without tasting it, I have no idea what the ingredients of said latte actually are - but I took a guess.

I'm no stranger to making my own simple syrups for coffee at home, and I figured a Cinnamon Maple simple syrup would be appropriate in this case.  Depending on your preference, you can use as little or as much of the syrup as you want, and the same goes for the milk.

Also, I happen to like my lattes iced, but you can also use the ingredients hot - just warm the milk in a saucepan first.

Iced French Toast Latte
  • 3 oz. brewed espresso or strong coffee, cooled
  • 1 - 2 T. cinnamon maple simple syrup (see below), cooled*
  • 1 C. milk*
  • ice
Place ice in glass, then pour in simple syrup and espresso.  Add milk to taste and serve immediately.

Cinnamon Maple Simple Syrup

  • 1/2 C. water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 C. brown sugar
  • 1 T. real maple syrup
Place water and cinnamon sticks in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil.  Add brown sugar and maple syrup, and stir until sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat.  Makes about 1/2 cup.  Refrigerate any unused portion in airtight container up to 1 week.

*The amounts listed for syrup and milk are just guidelines - use as much as you like per your tastes.

Original Recipe

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Low-Fat Molasses Cookies


I don't know about you, but I always love a good molasses cookie.

However, after sitting on the couch for a month and a half rehabbing my tootsies, I don't love the thought of buying a size bigger pants.  I'm moving around a lot better these days, but physical therapy is really the most 'exercise' I can do at the moment.

Translation- if I want to eat cookies (and I do) then I'm going to have to find something slightly healthier for now.

I won't bother trying to convince you that you won't miss the butter- let's not lie, butter makes everything more delicious.  And Lord knows I'm usually quite liberal with it.

But then we're back to getting bigger pants.

And I really don't want to go there right now.

So for the time being, I'll just have to settle for less butter and hope to continue fitting in the clothes already in my closet.

Low-Fat Molasses Cookies
  • 1/4 C. butter, softened
  • 1 C. sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 C. molasses
  • 2 C. all-purpose flour
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. ground cloves
  • 1/2 t. ground ginger
  • 3 T. large granulated sugar (optional, for sprinkling)
Preheat oven 375 degrees.  In medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. 

In large bowl, cream butter & sugar together until fluffy.  Add egg and molasses and mix until combined.  Add flour mixture gradually, and beat just until combined.  Chill dough 30 minutes to 1 hour, covered, in refrigerator.

Roll into 1-inch balls, and place on greased or parchment-covered cookie sheet, about 1 1/2 inches apart.   Bake about 5 minutes, sprinkle with large granulated sugar and bake 3-5 minutes more until crackled and lightly browned.  (Alternately, you can roll the balls in regular granulated sugar, then bake them for 8-10 minutes)  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Nutrition per cookie: 79 calories; 1 g fat ( 1 g sat , 0 g mono ); 9 mg cholesterol; 16 g carbohydrates; 1 g protein; 0 g fiber; 106 mg sodium; 43 mg potassium.

Recipe Adapted from EatingWell.com

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Feta, Almond, & Roasted Red Pepper Stuffed Chicken


My kitchen is barely out of boxes from moving to our new place, and I feel like it's been soooo long since I've made anything!  Sadly, we've eaten mostly take-out the past couple weeks.

I wanted to post something for you though, so I took a look at some of my old photos. 

This was the recipe from the V&B annals that won out. 

I have a sick obsession with feta.  Almost as sick as my obsession with coconut and popcorn (not necessarily together, but then again maybe that would be a good idea?) however Mr. Vittles does not share my feelings.  I make us separate salads so I can put feta on mine, and he calls it "toe jam."

Ok, sorry to put that image in your head.  But he does!

In any case, he actually enjoyed this recipe so that says a lot. 

Ahh, remembering back to this dish makes me so hungry for a home-cooked meal!

And... tonight we had grilled cheese. 

Oh well.  Baby steps!

Feta, Almond, & Roasted Red Pepper Stuffed Chicken
  • 4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 oz. softened cream cheese
  • 1/4 C. feta cheese
  • 3 T. crushed almonds, divided
  • 2 T. minced roasted red peppers
  • 1/2 t. (1 clove) minced garlic
  • 1/2 t. oregano (divided)
  • salt & freshly-grated pepper, to taste
  • 2 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 C. chicken broth
  • 1 T. olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Chop or crush almonds.  In small bowl, mash cream cheese, feta, garlic, red peppers, 2 T. almonds, 1/4 t. oregano, salt & pepper until well-combined.

Using a small knife, cut a pocket in the side of each breast and stuff with mixture (1/4 of mixture per breast).  Gently press to flatten.

Heat olive oil in large ovenproof skillet until shimmering over medium heat.  Season breasts with salt & pepper and cook in skillet, turning once, til browned (about 6 minutes).

Transfer skillet with breasts to oven and cook until heated through, about 7-10 minutes or until thermometer inserted into meat registers 170 degrees.  Transfer breasts to platter & keep warm.

Add lemon juice and broth along with remaining 1 T. almonds and 1/4 t. oregano to skillet.  Cook over medium high, scraping up any browned bits, and simmer 3 minutes.  Pour over breasts & serve.

Recipe Heavily Adapted from Food & Wine
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