Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dear Hummus, you are amazing

So in my infinite wisdom, I felt like the first full-week of my time back in Chicago should be spent detoxing from the previous summer. Opera camp, while being an amazing experience, is not exactly a time that promotes the healthiest eating habits: stress eating at night after long days of rehearsals, celebratory snacks/drinks after a performance, rushed breaks scattered throughout the day where you can barely inhale food before getting back to work. Yeah. Detox was needed.
While there were certainly many options available that were scary (Master Cleanse Detox?!), I read that doing a week or two of strictly raw foods would detox you while not being quite so hard on your body. The first few days were easy- it got rough by day 4. I wasn't missing the meat and various carbohydrates as much as I was missing things like dairy... and the plethora of vegetables that you just can't eat in raw form. Anyway, on a raw food diet, your sources of protein are understandably limited. Smoked salmon is delicious in all kinds of forms but can only be tolerated for so long. Hummus, on the other hand, is magical. So are things like tapenade. I have two recipes that I LOVE right here for your enjoyment!


1 (16-oz.) can garbanzo beans, drained
1/3 cup olive oil
3 Tablespoons lemon juice (maybe some lemon zest if you are feeling wild!)
3 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 Tablespoon onion flakes/granules
1 teaspoon ground red pepper
Little bit of salt and pepper to taste

*place all into a food processor and wait for it to become creamy and delicious.


5 anchovy fillets that have been soaked in milk about 10 minutes (rinse/drain after)
1 cup pitted kalamata olives
2 garlic cloves
rind of 1 lemon
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons capers (optional)- I prefer without

*put into food processor for a minute or two until all parts have been chopped finely and mixed well


Summer is over. Welcome to having time (for now)

So I thank my mother for contributing to the blog while I was away at opera camp in Princeton this past summer. Since getting home, I've slowly re-discovered what it is like to be a non-musician again... an unemployed non-musician, to be more specific. While audition season has yet to start, I only am involved in the CSO chorus at the moment as well as my church job; so all is NOT terrible. Its just a little tight.

And we all know what tight means: no going out to eat.
Which then, follow me down my slippery slope of logic, means that I am cooking more often and utilizing different ingredients that I find for cheap at the market.

Recent discoveries:
Steamed baby bok choy... you are delicious.
Sauteed Rapini... you are not.

Today, however, I chose to embark upon a journey that I've intended for quite some time. The wait was entirely worth it. And incredibly EASY.

Home-made English Muffins
(GASP! I know... don't inhale your neighbor)

1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup warm milk
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 tsp yeast

.....dissolve sugar into milk/water and then add yeast. Let it get bubbly (5-6 min)

1/4 cup melted shortening*
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt

.....add to yeast mixture. It will be fairly sticky; I added about a 1/8 cup more flour just to make it a little more manageable.

.....place into well-greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let rise and double. This took about an hour for me, though it was sitting on the porch in 90 degree heat (not in direct sunlight, though)

.....on a well-floured surface, turn the dough out and knead ONLY A LITTLE. Form dough into a log- roughly the size of a medium rolling pin. Cut into 1 discs (will depend on how thick you would like your muffins to be) and place on to a cookie sheet that has been both greased and dusted with corn meal.

.....let rise again for about 30-40 minutes; they will puff up a fair amount. Again, my kitchen was fairly warm, so you might want to let them rise even longer.

.....on a lightly-greased skillet that has been warmed to medium-low heat, place the muffins gentle and allow to cook. I was checking the first batch to see how well they were cooking; it does take about 5 minutes per side, though that will fluctuate with how thick yours are.

VOILA. Easy English Muffins that taste AMAZING- I ate mine hot off the skillet with fresh rhubarb-strawberry jam from my mother.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

These are amazing! Life will seem much better as you savour these with a cup of your favorite watery infusion. I suspect that we could achieve world peace if everyone would simply stop in the afternoon for tea/coffee/milk and these muffins. They are worth the extra kickboxing workout, couple of extra miles, or whatever you do to burn off calories to stay in shape. I did substitute half of the oil with applesauce to cut some of the fat calories :) Enjoy!!!

Do not worry that the batter is very moist. The muffins will bake beautifully.

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins


1-1/2 cups mashed bananas (3 large, ripe bananas)

1/3 cup canola oil

2 eggs, beaten

1/3 cup applesauce

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup white sugar

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin.

In a medium bowl blend the banana, oil, eggs, applesauce and vanilla together.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Stir in chocolate chips.

Stir in the banana mixture until just blended.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling 3/4 full. Sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 - 22 minutes. Remove muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.