On Tap for Today

A fun loving, inspired living blog


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Today: Freedom Trail mix muffins.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I was strolling down Main Street in Charlestown when inspiration for the HLS Breakfast Showdown struck.  With the Freedom Trail at my feet, and a kitchen stocked with Wild Harvest goodies, I knew what I wanted to whip up.

Wild Harvest, Gold Sponsor of the 2012 Healthy Living Summit, sent this year’s participants ten of their favorite products, with the challenge to create a fun and healthy breakfast using three or more Wild Harvest ingredients.

Freedom Trail Mix Muffins

Dry ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup turbinado sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups trail mix (I used WILD HARVEST organic animal crackers, WILD HARVEST organic raisins, dried Cape Cod cranberries, peanuts, and miniature dark chocolate chips)

Wet ingredients:

  • 2 WILD HARVEST organic eggs
  • 1 cup WILD HARVEST organic apple sauce

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and prep your muffin tins.  This recipe yields twelve regular sized muffins and 24 miniature muffins.
  2. Setting your trail mix aside, combine other dry ingredients and slowly incorporate wet ingredients.  Mix well.
  3. Add in trail mix and stir.  And try not to eat the batter.
  4. Fill each tin 2/3 full and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Why buy a pre-made trail mix when you can get creative and use what’s already in the pantry?  Dried fruit, nuts, and dark chocolate are sure bets.  I used Wild Harvest’s animal crackers as the base, and felt a bit badly breaking the head off an elephant and the butt off a bison.  Oh and yes, vegetarians do eat animal crackers.  Using apple sauce instead of butter or oil is a great way to keep your baked goods moist and light.  From a little idea on Main Street, these humble muffins hit the spot.

[Image source]

This little breakfast treats are perfect for a morning meal on the go, or for enjoying while sightseeing or strolling.  If you’re visiting Boston this summer, the Freedom Trail is not to be missed.  The 2.5 mile route covers sixteen historical sites and tells the story of the American Revolution.  Pack a snack.  Nerds like us shouldn’t have to choose between monuments and monumentally good muffins.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s On Tap for your weekend?


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Today: Nice buns.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I don’t mind regular ol’ football, but I think NFL RedZone is giving me high blood pressure.  The network covers every game being played, jumping from one scoring opportunity to the next.  Holy crap, the Dolphins just scored!  And the Patriots take it to the house!  The Steelers are in the end zone!  My head just popped off! (Can you say “take it to the house” when talking about football?  I don’t really even know.)

While Nick’s brain can operate at that level, mine cannot.  So I retreat to the uppermost cabinets in our kitchen, where the sugar and flour reside.  For me, football Sundays are perfect for baking.  This weekend, I developed a weird craving for cinnamon rolls, likely a result of being exhausted and dehydrated after Saturday’s run.  Give me sugar, or give me death… Just give me the sugar.  So while our living room was all about tight ends, our kitchen was all about nice buns.  Get it? Buns?  Tight ends? …Cool.

I doubt anyone visits On Tap for nutrition advice, but just to be clear:  I am fairly certain cinnamon rolls are not “good for you.”  They are not appropriate fuel for marathon training.  They contain flour, sugar, butter, and more sugar.  And then you add sugar on top in the form of icing.  That’s what makes them taste so good.  Obvi.

When I want to make something healthy and clean, I consult any number of websites or cookbooks in my arsenal.  When I want to do the opposite, I go immediately to Paula Deen.  There is no point in messing around.  I followed her cinnamon roll recipe nearly to a t, but substituted ground flax in place of the egg, and cut back a bit on the filling after reading several comments on the recipe that referred to overflowing cinnamon sugar (oh, the humanity!).

When working with yeast, it’s important to be patient.  In other words, if you’re craving a food that requires baking with yeast, be prepared to be tortured.  Despite wanting to dip my own arm in cinnamon sugar and gnaw it off, I managed to give the dough (and eventually, the rolls) plenty of time to rise.  By the time the cinnamon rolls came out of the oven, I had consumed 1.5 liters of water, taken a nap, put on an actual (i.e. non-Spandex) outfit for Mass, and felt much more human and much less likely to eat 1,500 calories worth of baked goods in one sitting.

Sugar coma (...just kidding, no cinnamon rolls for you.)

After sharing a roll or two with my football fanatic, I packed up the rest (complete with a set of birthday candles) to bring to my sister’s.  These things were meant to be given away.  I mean, really.  Who doesn’t love a nice set of buns?

Also On Tap for Today:

Are you a football fan?  What’s your favorite way to pass a Sunday?


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Today: What the peck?

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Nothing says fall in New England quite like a morning spent apple picking.  Nick, Clark and I joined our friends from The Pawsitive Dog for a field trip to Schratner Farm in Bolton.  After some training, we spent a bit of time at the farm, filling up our peck-sized bag with apples straight from the orchard.

I am excited to break out my newest cookbook and put that peck of apples to good use.  I saw Amy Traverso, author of The Apple Lover’s Cookbook and lifestyle editor at Yankee Magazine, speak at TECHmunch this year and couldn’t wait for her book to hit the shelves.  As luck would have it, Amy was signing copies at Twelve Chairs this past weekend, at the first Eat Boutique Local Market.  I have a feeling I may need more than a peck to work my way through these tasty looking recipes.

As we headed back to the city, with a very stinky Frenchie in the back seat (he spend the morning chewing on fallen apples, rolling in mud, eating grass, and swimming in a drainage pool), I had to pull over to capture a shot of these beauties.

Isn’t it amazing to be stopped in your tracks?  My mind– racing from the directions on the GPS to plans for making apple crisp and apple muffins and baked apples and apple sauce and oh crap, where’s my phone— was instantly quieted by this perfect moment on a back country road.

Why the peck don’t I head out this way more often?

Also On Tap for Today:

What is your favorite apple recipe?


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Today: Summer was meant for salads.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Being a rather unimaginative vegetarian, I am always pleased with myself when I think up something new.  And when that something new turns out to be both simple and delicious, well all the better.  With so much fresh New England produce to enjoy this time of year, I can’t help but believe summer was meant for salads.

Three of my favorites?  Read on, friends.

Melons, Bocconcini and Basil

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups watermelon, cubed (or, if you have no life, pressed into delicate flower shapes)
  • 2 cups honeydew melon, cubed
  • 1/2 European cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup bocconcini
  • 10 large leaves of basil, chiffonade or chop coarsely
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Drain or press excess moisture from your cubed melon and cheese.
  2. Mix watermelon, honey dew melon, and bocconcini in a large bowl or serving platter, and sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.  This is a case where less is definitely more.
  3. Top with a generous amount of fresh basil, and serve chilled.  This salad can be prepared the night before, and makes a delightful brunch treat.

Heirloom tomatoes with bleu cheese

Ingredients:

  • 6 medium heirloom tomatoes (experiment with different varieties, or stick to a tried and true favorite)
  • 1.5 cups crumbled bleu cheese
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Carefully chop tomatoes in half, and then into quarters and arrange on a large platter, or in a large serving bowl.
  2. Top the tomatoes with crumbled bleu cheese (feta or Gorgonzola are excellent choices as well), and a drizzle of olive oil.
  3. Makes a great addition to fresh greens, a crusty slice of French bread, or served alongside your favorite summer cookout fare.

Orzo salad with a Greek accent

Ingredients:

  • Whole wheat orzo
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 European cucumber, chopped
  • 1 yellow or red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 1 can chick peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small handful fresh mint leaves, washed and dried
  • Greek dressing (I prefer Yasou) and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Prepare orzo according to package directions.  Drain, and allow to cook for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Combine cooked orzo with chopped vegetables (onion, pepper and cucumber), feta cheese, and chickpeas and mix well.
  3. Slowly add Greek dressing, being careful not to overdress the salad.
  4. Top with fresh mint leaves and cracked pepper, and refrigerate before serving chilled.
  5. This salad is delicious when served over spinach, and make a perfect “leftover lunch,” as flavors continue to develop.

Also On Tap for Today:

What is your favorite summer meal?


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Today: Stick it.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]You’re either going to thank me or curse me for this one, but honestly, I couldn’t keep this dessert to myself.  S’mores.  On a stick.  Yes, really.

It will take you no longer than 5 minutes to whip up a few of these little guys, and you’ll only need four simple ingredients, including the stick.  Break out the marshmallows, dark chocolate, and graham crackers.  A few easy steps and boom!  You’re the most popular person in the room.

  1. Grind down graham crackers in your food processor (or crush them by hand, or with a rolling pin, in a plastic bag)
  2. Melt dark chocolate and stir
  3. Stick your marshmallows… on a stick
  4. Dip the ‘mallows into piping hot melted chocolate and roll in crushed graham crackers
  5. Set on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cool in the refrigerator before serving
I brought a batch to the Cape this weekend for my family’s 2nd of July celebration (they travel well in a vase), and a second batch for our post-race 4th of July cookout today.  If I could justify making a third batch for tomorrow, I would.  I’m working on it.
We had a fabulous Fourth– a great (hot and sweaty) race at Patriot Place, lots of pool time and cooking out at my parents’ house, gorgeous weather, and fabulous company… complete with Clark’s favorite pug, Murphy :).  I can’t think of a better way to celebrate America’s birthday.  I wish it could be summer forever.
Also On Tap for Today:
What’s your favorite snack on a stick?


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Today: You say potato, I say giveaway.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false] When the lovely people at MyBlogSpark sent me a big package featuring Betty Crocker’s new “Loaded” Mashed Potatoes, I was super excited.  Until I realized these potatoes were fully loaded… with bacon.  Being a vegetarian, bacon’s something I am usually looking to unload.  So I enlisted Nick to be my taster.  He has good taste after all (helloooo, check me out… just kidding… kind of).

Hello, boyfriend.

Betty Crocker‘s instant potatoes are made with 100% real russet potatoes, plus a blend of seasonings and toppings such as the aforementioned bacon, sour cream, cheese and chives.  Knowing the potatoes would be ready in a matter of minutes, with the addition of a few ingredients I happened to have on hand (butter, milk and water), I wanted to give myself a bit of a challenge.  I stumbled upon this recipe for making gnocchi with instant potatoes, made a few modifications and got to it.

I can gnocchi believe how easy this was!

They may not be the prettiest little things, but Nick gave these gnocchi two thumbs up.  Actually, what he really said was “Wow, this tastes just like real gnocchi… and the consistency is the same too.”  He was smiling, so I think it’s safe to assume he would give it two thumbs up.  I’m looking forward to making this recipe again, and perhaps trying my hand at potato bread.  I’d love to hear what you might whip up with a box of instant potatoes.  Even if it’s just… potatoes.

This could aaaaalll be yours (except for my vase and cake stand...).

One lucky winner will receive a prize pack that includes a box of new Betty Crocker “Loaded Mashed” potatoes, an Oxo mixing bowl, plus a magnetic hanging pot holder, silicone spoonula, and measuring cup– all in that cheery Betty Crocker red.

Disclosure: This product, prize pack, related information and an additional prize pack to give away were provided to me by Betty Crocker through MyBlogSpark.  I was not paid to review this product.  My opinions are my own… and Nick’s opinions are mine too.  Just kidding, they’re his.

To enter, leave a comment below, sharing your favorite kitchen short cut.  For additional entries, please feel free to tweet (“You say potato, @ElizabethEv says giveaway: http://wp.me/pySBS-Yl”) or link back to this post– just be sure to leave a comment letting me know you’ve done so.  I will select a winner on Thursday evening.

Also On Tap for Today:

What is your favorite kitchen short cut?


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Today: It’s not delivery, nor is it DiGiorno.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]  If we were living in one of those creepy Domino’s commercials, the focus room wall would be coming crashing down and you’d all be staring into my kitchen.  I made this little pizza myself, and I’ve got to say, it was pretty darn good.

Sorry if you just drooled on your computer. Hopefully your warranty hasn't expired.

I adapted the recipe a bit from Whole Living’s whole wheat pizza with artichokes and came up with this slightly lazy olive-less version:

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F and mist a cookie sheet with olive oil.
  2. Roll out a small ball of whole wheat pizza dough (I picked up pre-made dough from the supermarket’s refrigerated section) and stretch into a pizza-like shape.
  3. Drizzle the dough with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and cracked black pepper.  Add several whole peeled tomatoes (I used about a 1/4 can of Muir organic peeled whole tomatoes, drained the extra liquid and set the rest aside for red sauce), artichoke hearts (also from a can, drained), and a few spoonfuls of part-skim ricotta cheese and, if you please, a smidge of shaved pecorino.
  4. Bake until crust is golden brown (approximately 20 minutes), or until the aroma of freshly-baking pizza is so incredible that you’re willing to reach into a flaming hot oven and risk personal injury.  Whichever comes first.
  5. Add fresh basil, obviously.

Same pizza, different angle.

Throw out your kiss the cook apron.  This pizza is sure to get you frenched.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Gentle reminder, fellow Bostonians:  Please call 911 to get care and medical attention for homeless individuals out in the cold and be sure to check in on loved ones, especially those who are ill or elderly. And bundle up tomorrow, function over fashion for sure.
  • 7 tips for a healthier week
  • Oh weird, there are football games on.

What’s your favorite “delivery food” to make (or makeover) at home?