Onion and Chive Dilled Egg Salad

onion-and-chive-dilled-egg-salad

My first post of the new year…I seem to be looking forward a lot more than normal.  I hate wishing the time away, but 4 years cannot go by fast enough.  I hate that in 4 years my oldest daughter will be in college.  I hate that these are such important years for her to grow as a woman.  But I dread more the role model that our electoral college chose to lead our country.  It wasn’t until Saturday that I actually believed there is a path forward, and that people are not going to sit back and watch.  I was almost in tears to see that our global friends were right there with us…standing up for what is right – Paris, London, Sydney, and on and on – it is not America First – it is Humanity First.

I find myself cooking and baking less and less these days – I am busier than ever, but unfortunately not in the kitchen.  When I am in the kitchen, I am focused on making things that are going to save us time during the week.  Tonight one of our dinner table conversations was about our public school system – and the huge budget deficit that we are facing.  My youngest daughter has decided that maybe if the government can fully fund education, that means that school lunches might actually be edible.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her that school lunches were the least of their worries – although I did remind her that she was lucky to have healthy food at home to bring for lunch.  Particularly this week!

Egg salad has become somewhat of a delicacy in our house.  It is definitely something that both girls LOVE for their lunches.  When Stonyfield Farms asked us to try their new Double Cream yogurt, along with some spices and mixes from Simply Organic – I was over the moon.  It didn’t take me more than a minute to figure out what I was going to make.  Aside from using the wonderful dips as an afternoon snack with carrot sticks – I decided to use some in making egg salad.  What a delicious treat.  First of all, this yogurt is really incredible, it is like a mild form of sour cream, it is so rich and thick, but more like a crème fraiche – since the sour flavor really doesn’t come out.  I hear it will be on the market real soon, so go give it a try yourself.  And as my daughter would say – School Lunches First!!

Ingredients

Preparation

Mix 2 cups of the triple cream yogurt with the package of onion and chive dip.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Chop the hard boiled eggs and mix with the celery, fresh dill and salt.  Add 1/2 cup of onion and chive dip.  Mix until all ingredients are incorporated.  Sprinkle lightly with smoked paprika on top.

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Black Current Scones

black-current-scones

It is the season of giving, so in that spirit, I decided to bring back my annual holiday gift post – plus a few added bonuses, thanks to my friends at Stonyfield Farms and Lavoons.  Please continue reading below for a fun holiday giveaway!

I have a very regimented super market routine which almost weekly involves Trader Joes and Whole Foods.  My favorite day to go to Trader Joes is on Sundays – and that is because of the violin player that is faithfully there every week.  I am not sure if he is homeless, but he plays the violin for money, and he is actually really good.  He wears the same clothes every week, and is super thankful when people put money in his open violin case.

This holiday season Stonyfield Farms wanted us to pay it forward, by giving us a $50 gift card to donate to a charity of our choice, or someone we know in need.  I took that gift card, and traded it in for a $50 Trader Joes card, and that’s what I left him on Sunday.  I thought he was going to cry.  I hope he has a wonderful holiday feast…

If you are wondering how you can pay it forward, how about with a holiday cooking gadget that to make life easier in the kitchen?  Every year it is so easy, and this year was no exception.  I created this list in about 5 minutes – and if it helps just one of you with holiday shopping this year, it was completely worth it.

  1. Chef’n GarlicZoom Garlic Chopper – a close friend sent this to me this year, and I swear I look for opportunities to use it because it is just that much fun!  Chopping garlic has never been so easy.
  2. Lavoons Measuring Spoons – ok, talk about fun – these are just amazing – no need to get a knife to level off your dry ingredients – this gadget has it all built in! 
  3. Large Cookie Spatula – this has been on my favorite holiday gifts list ever since I started this.  I use this for just about everything – cakes, roasts, anything that has to be moved, and requires a large surface area to do so. I have even got my husband to start using it…
  4. Silpat – I was a non-conformist for many years, and did not think I needed one of these – but this year I was sent one to try out, and I fell hard.  Cookies cook more evenly, and there is absolutely no sticking at all.
  5. Channel Knife – ever wonder how they make those pretty garnishes on cocktails?  This is the trick – and if you do it right, the lemon oils spray onto the cocktail and given the drink an extra depth of flavor.

Now for the really exciting part – Lavoons gave me an extra set to give away to one of my readers!  Please comment on your favorite cooking gadget, and you will be in the running for a set of these measuring spoons.  I will select a winner on Wednesday, December 21st at 5:00pm PST, so please don’t delay!

The last gift I have is this recipe for black current scones.  I made these a while ago, but just haven’t had a chance to post them yet.  Scones are just the perfect breakfast/brunch treat.  They are super easy to make, and come out of the oven ready to eat.  You can even prepare them ahead of time, and warm them up prior to serving.  I hope you all have a wonderful holiday!

Ingredients

  • 4 oz (1/2 cup, 1 stick) unsalted butter, cold
  • 12 oz (about 2 and 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 3 oz (6 tbsp) raw sugar + extra for sprinkling
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, heavy cream or stonyfield farm’s whole milk yogurt, plus extra for glazing
  • 1 scant cup black currants, rinsed, picked through and stemmed

Preparation

Cut the butter into 1-inch cubes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda & powder, and salt. Add butter, and using your fingers, flatten out the butter pieces to large flakes. Mix in the buttermilk or cream just until the flour is moistened and begins to form large clumps; add the currants. Mix well and knead the dough in the bowl until it will hold together. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board.

Sprinkle a little flour across the top of the dough and rub some flour along a rolling pin. Roll the dough into a circle about 1/2 inch thick .  Cut the circle into 8 wedges.

Place on a ungreased cookie sheet and brush with buttermilk or cream, and then sprinkle with raw sugar.  Bake for around 15-20 minutes or until brown on top.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  black-current-scones

Please note: As a Team Stonyfield ambassador, I am being compensated. All opinions about Stonyfield Farm’s products and Lavoons are always my own.

Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Chocolate Glaze

pumpkin-bundt-cake-with-chocolate-glaze

My daughter has joined the blogging generation – and she is only 10.  She has been watching me do this almost her entire life, but the other week she came home from school and told us that she decided she is starting a blog.  What kind of blog you wonder?  Well, not a food blog – a bunny blog.  A blog dedicated to all things bunny related – called Bunnies 101.  It is adorable – and some would say that she is learning and loving every minute of it.  She researches her topics, writes them up like she is writing an “essay,”  finds fun colorful pictures, practices her typing – and then waits to see what people think.  I love it.

If you can take a break from all of your Thanksgiving planning, check out her blog.  The little bunnies will put a smile on your face.  And here is something else that will put a smile on your face – a nice pumpkin bundt cake.  Yep, it is still that time of year – thank goodness.  I love a good bundt cake, and this one definitely did not disappoint.  This month the folks at King Arthur sent over a couple of different varieties of flour for me to try.  Little did they know, I am already completely sold on their products.  I have tried other varieties of flour, but none compare to King Arthur.  In addition to my favorite flour, this bundt cake recipe I found in Cooking Light has less than half the amount of butter normally found in a bundt cake, and just a small amount of yogurt (Stonyfield Farms of course) to keep it moist.  With the addition of the whole wheat flour – I actually felt like I was eating something good for me – which is perfect going into the Thanksgiving holiday!

Please note: As a Team Stonyfield ambassador, I am being compensated. All opinions about Stonyfield Farm’s products and King Arthur’s products are always my own.

Ingredients

  • 9 ounces all-purpose King Arthur flour (about 2 cups)
  • 7.1 ounces white whole-wheat King Arthur flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup plain Smooth & Creamy Stonyfield Farms yogurt
  • 1 (15-oz.) can pumpkin
  • Baking spray
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons light-colored corn syrup or golden cane syrup (such as Lyle’s)
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Preparation

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, baking powder, and next 5 ingredients (through nutmeg) in a large bowl.

Place butter and sugars in a bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Beat in vanilla. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine yogurt and pumpkin in a bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture and pumpkin mixture alternately to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Spoon batter into a 12-cup Bundt pan coated with baking spray. Bake at 325°F for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 30 minutes; remove cake from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

Combine milk, corn syrup, and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave at MEDIUM (50% power) 1 minute or until melted, stirring every 20 seconds. Slowly pour chocolate mixture over cooled cake.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  pumpkin-bundt-cake-with-chocolate-glaze

UnReal Peanut Butter Brownies

unreal-peanut-butter-brownies

It’s hard to believe that tomorrow is Halloween already!  I feel like the girls just finished their candy from last Halloween – that is the goal anyway, to make that candy last as long as possible.  They are already strategizing hard for tomorrow – making sure that they get their fair share.

Fall is my favorite season – particularly for baking – although this year, for some reason, it didn’t really happen.  The weekends are filled with shuttling here and there, and catching up from the week – it’s amazing how much piles up these days.  Thankfully this weekend, I didn’t have a choice – I had to get a post out – and I am so glad.

The folks from Unreal Candy sent me a wonderful care package the other week, with three types of candy to try.  I loved the Candy Coated Milk Chocolate and the Almond Butter Cups – but I must say, my favorite were the Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups.  I have never been much of a peanut butter cup fan, because they are just too sweet for me – but with the dark chocolate – they were perfect!  So when it was time to decide which ones to showcase – those were the ones I chose.

My girls have been wondering where all the baked goods have gone – although they know I have been busy, and haven’t been complaining – but when I asked if they would like me to make brownies, there were smiles all over the place.  I even got cheers from my little one when I told her my idea – peanut butter brownies…  I decided to try these without using eggs, but with yogurt as a substitute – thanks to my friends at Stonyfield Farms.  These were UnReal – just like the candy – so chocolatey and delicious, with a layer of peanut better in the middle. UnReal, that’s just about all I can say.

Please note: As a Team Stonyfield ambassador, I am being compensated. All opinions about Stonyfield Farm’s products and Bob’s Red Mill products are always my own.

Ingredients

Brownies

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 6 Tbsp. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt

Peanut Butter Layer

  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Frosting

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 5 1/2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • UnReal peanut butter cups, roughly chopped, for topping

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9x9x2-inch metal baking pan.
Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Combine 1/2 cup chocolate chips and butter in a large stainless-steel bowl. Set bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and stir until chocolate and butter are melted and smooth. Remove bowl from heat; whisk in sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, and yogurt. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients.

In another small mixing bowl, mix together the peanut butter, 1 tablespoon butter and powdered sugar until smooth.

Pour half the brownie the batter into the prepared pan. Next, dollop the peanut butter mixture onto the brownie batter then layer the remaining batter on top of the other layers. Gently spread the batter to the sides if needed. Don’t worry if all the batter does not cover the whole surface area, it will smooth out as the brownies bake.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the brownies are set on top. Allow the brownies to cool completely before frosting.

Meanwhile, to make the frosting, heat the cream in a saucepan until just below a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate and peanut butter until melted and smooth. Add the vanilla until smooth and creamy. Set the frosting aside until the brownies are cool enough to frost.

Once the brownies are cool, spread the frosting over top. Sprinkle with chopped peanut butter cups. Allow the frosting to set about 30 minutes then slice into bars. Brownies can be stored at room temp or in the fridge for about four days.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: unreal-peanut-butter-brownies

 

Steel-Cut Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip Muffins

 oatmeal-muffins

Back to school means MUFFINS!!  When I am really in the running for “Mom of the Year” award, it is because I took a couple of hours on Sunday to make something absolutely delicious for breakfast.  Something homemade that is easy enough to eat on the go, or warmed up in the microwave with some melted butter.  Unfortunately it doesn’t happen as much as they would like (or I would for that matter).  I had every intention of making some fresh scones today, but it is now close to 9:00pm, and that didn’t happen.

The other week though, thanks to Bob’s Red Mill – I did have an opportunity to apply for the award, after making these scrumptious morsels.  The oatmeal and coconut sugar did not disappoint…although the star of the show was the mini-chocolate chips.  Both girls loved the muffins, I didn’t even have to remind them to eat the muffins for breakfast – which is when I know they are a total hit.

So this year, why not make waking up for school something to look forward to – I know it is not time for resolutions just yet, but this is going on my list – to bake something at least once a month – which takes care of an entire week of breakfasts. Then I know that at least 25% of the month, I can look forward to that red carpet award ceremony…

Please note: As a Team Stonyfield ambassador, I am being compensated. All opinions about Stonyfield Farm’s products and Bob’s Red Mill products are always my own.

Ingredients

Preparation

To cook the steel-cut oats, boil 3 cups of water, then add 1 cup steel-cut oats with 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  When the oats are done, stir in 1/4 cup coconut sugar.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees with the rack positioned in the upper third. Oil, spray or butter 12 muffin cups.

Sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 cup coconut sugar. In another bowl, beat together the eggs, yogurt, milk, canola oil, and vanilla. Quickly stir in the dry ingredients with a whisk or a spatula. Do not beat, just mix, stirring up from the bottom until you can no longer see flour. A few lumps are fine. Fold in the cooked oats and the chocolate chips.

Spoon into muffin cups, filling them to just below the top. Sprinkle coconut sugar on top if desired.  Place in the oven, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until nicely browned. Remove from the heat, and allow to cool for 10 minutes before unmolding. Cool on a rack, or serve warm.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: steel-cut-oatmeal-and-chocolate-chip-muffins

oatmeal-muffins-2

Fig and Fennel Flower Shrub

fig-and-fennel-shrub

I am still waiting for shrubs to be the “in” thing – but I feel like it is getting close.  Once a week the farmer’s market comes to the campus where I work – I swear that is the day when everything comes alive.  There is definitely something to be said for little white tents and crowds everywhere.  There is a vibrancy that exists, you can feel it in the air.

Although there are a lot of great vendors that come, the one I like the most is the jam and shrub vendor.  Their products are excellent, and wish I could buy a different variety each week – but then I remind myself how easy it is to make them myself…both the jam and the shrubs.  I have had to slow down on the jam making this year – work is creeping into my weekend time, but there are no excuses when it comes to shrubs.  They are seriously so simple and easy – and store beautifully in the refrigerator.

The other week I got some figs in my market basket along with fennel flowers.  There are always so many ways to use up the figs, but it was the fennel flowers that I wanted to make the most of – so there I went experimenting – with shrubs this time.  I am in love with this variety – it definitely makes the most delicious cocktails. And look at that color – who wouldn’t want to drink something that is that beautiful?  Who cares if others haven’t picked up on this craze, shrubs are definitely “in” at my house.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chopped figs
  • chopped fennel flowers
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar

Preparation

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan.  Cook on medium heat until the sugar dissolved, and the fruit starts to break down.  Simmer for 10 minutes, then strain with cheese cloth into a container.  Store in the refrigerator for a few months.

Use the fig and fennel shrub in a cocktail with gin, vermouth and lemon, or just serve with sparking water for a refreshing summer drink.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  fig-and-fennel-flower-shrub

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Yogurt Cake

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Yogurt Cake 2

Before I get into this post – I want to apologize again for my sporadic postings these days…and although I might not post as much as I used to, I am posting a lot more on Instagram.  So please, if you are as excited as I am these days about Instagram, please take a look @firstlookthencook.  I will often preview what I will be posting…like this weekend’s Fig and Fennel Shrub.

I have been baking cakes for a long time – I started when I was very little with my Easy Bake Oven – but there have only been a couple of cakes over the years that have really rocked my world.  One of them is a coconut cake that is exceptional, but it is a little stressful to make.  Whenever you are dealing with more than one layer, things can get a little dicey.  One day I remember making this cake, then having to drive 13 miles to work in the hot sun – by the time I got there, the cake looked like the leaning tower of Pisa. Of course it still tasted great, but I definitely grew some gray hairs during the process.

This is the other cake that falls in that category – I have made this cake more times than I can count.  It is my go-to-cake for any occasion because it is quick, easy, and unbelievable moist and delicious.  I haven’t done much experimenting with this cake – but when I was asked to come up with a recipe that incorporates Justin’s All-Natural Peanut Butter with Stonyfield yogurt, there was only one idea that I kept coming back to…it was time to change it up a bit.  This cake was every bit delicious with yogurt than it is with milk – and using Justin’s Peanut Butter took off a little bit of the sweetness, which in my mind is always a good thing.  Once again, this cake did not disappoint – and now I have a great excuse to make another with the leftover ingredients…

Please note: As a Team Stonyfield ambassador, I am being compensated. All opinions about StonyField Farm’s products and Justin’s All-Natural Peanut Butter are always my own.

Ingredients

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan. Combine first 4 ingredients in large bowl. Using electric mixer, beat on low speed until streusel is blended and crumbly. Transfer 1 cup lightly packed streusel to small bowl and reserve. Add eggs, yogurt, vanilla, baking powder, and baking soda to remaining streusel in large bowl. Beat at low speed until evenly moist. Increase speed to medium and beat until well blended, scraping bowl occasionally, about 3 minutes. Stir in 1 cup chips. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Sprinkle with reserved 1 cup streusel and remaining 1 cup chips.

Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Yogurt Cake