Tuesday, January 18, 2011

An apple scrumdiddlyumptious treat

Lately I’ve been a sucker for anything donuts.  It’s taken a lot of self-restraint to not go into the donut shop every week and buy a chocolate glazed donut, mainly because finances are tight and I don’t want it to become an addiction, just an occasional treat, when chump change is available.  Have I mentioned I’ve become somewhat of a chocoholic, thanks to my wonderful husband?

So when I came across this recipe I just had to make this.  Although it doesn’t have chocolate it looked awesome and my mouth watered when I read the ingredients.  I had ALL of them!  It’s a definite bonus these days not having to go to the grocery store, simply to buy a spice.  If I see a recipe and I happen to have all of the ingredients, I for the most part won’t hesitate to make it.

The recipe below is more like muffins more so than donuts as the recipe title might say.  I was very surprised by MigL when he said he actually liked them, seeing that we, OK I, had to do some QC, quality control.  LOVED this one.  I think this will be my next not-so-sweet go-to treat.




Baked apple donuts with cinnamon and nutmeg
(courtesy of www.homecookingrocks.com)

2 apples (I used Brae burn apples)
1 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/3 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg
1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon powder

Peel and roughly chop the apples.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and nutmeg. Add the butter to the flour mixture. Rub the butter against the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Beat the egg. Pour in the milk and stir lightly. Add the chopped apples to the egg-milk mixture.

Pour the apple-egg-milk mixture to the flour-butter mixture. Stir (a fork is most useful) just until blended. Do not over mix. The batter will be a bit stiff.

Form the batter into loose balls and place in the holes of a muffin pan. If you’re not using a non-stick pan, brush the holes lightly with softened butter.

Bake at 350oF for 25 minutes.

While the donuts are baking, prepare the topping. Measure the sugar and cinnamon powder into a bowl. Stir to combine.

When the donuts are done, remove from the oven. Use a teaspoon to remove them from the pan. While still warm, dip the tops in melted butter them dredge in the sugar-cinnamon mixture.

The Best Vegetarian Chili I’ve Ever Had

Chili.  It’s what’s been on my mind all winter and have been wanting to make the perfect chili.  I’d tried making recipes before but none seemed to satisfy my idea of chili.  And then, this weekend, I found it.

This is by far the best vegetarian chili I’ve ever eaten.  If you get a chance, you’ve GOT to try this out – paired especially with warm garlic Naan bread (I like Trader Joe’s garlic Naan – found in the frozen section).  It’s absolutely magical.  MigL and I split the last (and only) piece of Naan bread.  We definitely wished we had more. 

Last night I also tried making Giada de Laurentiis’ Herbed Flatbread.  I didn’t care for this, even though I thought it might pair well with the chili.  Perhaps the flatbread will suit your taste buds.

Get ready for a slightly spicy, meat-free, optional, veggie-filled soup that will satisfy your soul and make your cold-filled evening something to talk about. 

Grilled cheese & sun dried tomato pesto panini

Vegetarian Chili
(courtesy of CHOW)


1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 onion, medium dice
1 carrot, medium dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 bell pepper, medium dice
1 zucchini, medium dice
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. chili powder
2 (15-oz.) cans light kidney, dark kidney, or black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups water
1 (28 oz.) canned chopped tomatoes
Chopped cilantro, for garnish (optional)
Quartered lime pieces, for garnish (optional)
Shredded cheddar cheese or crumbled queso fresco, for garnish (optional)
Sour cream, for garnish (optional)


Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot with a tightfitting lid or a Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering.  Add the onions, carrots, and garlic and season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened, about 5 minutes.

Add the bell pepper and zucchini to the pot and season with salt and pepper.  Add the cum and chili powder and stir to incorporate.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are knife tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the beans, water, and tomatoes with their juices and stir to combine.  Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and gently simmer until the vegetables are soft and the flavors have melded, about 15 minutes.  Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.  Serve and garnish as desired.

Latin Cook’s Notes

I used fire-roasted diced tomatoes with green chilies (unbeknownst to me, MigL had grabbed this kind of tomatoes at Trader Joe’s – he didn’t know I was planning on making chili and it was FANTASTIC).  I also made some black beans from scratch and used those instead of canned (in a large pot, cook raw black beans with 3 crushed garlic at medium high heat for about 1 hour to 1 hr., 10 min., stirring occasionally; make sure to add plenty of water, otherwise you’ll end up with burnt beans – trust me, I’d forgotten to add more water and got said burnt black beans.  It took forever to scrub the pot and dinner took approximately 3 hours because of this).  Top the chili with shredded Cheddar cheese.  Buen provecho!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The most beautiful castle

I went on vacation for a week with MigL, my mom, sister, brother and their families.  We had such a great time!  It had been 10 years since my sister and I had flown together (really, it’d been that long?), when we flew to check out a potential college option in Napa Valley.  From that moment, it became my alma mater of a college.

For a year and a half, we’d been planning this wonderful trip to Disney World.  For months and months, we pined over the details and I researched like a mad woman for inexpensive ways to spend time at WDW.  Buy food at the grocery store and make meals at your hotel (great money saving tip!).  Since we had a party of 10 we would have spent a ridiculous amount of money if we’d eaten out every day.  We also made sandwiches and ate them for lunch (another money saving tip).  WDW will let you bring in food and drinks (thank goodness).  I’m not sure what I would have done without the Diet Mountain Dews and Diet Pepsi and of course, bottled water.  We walked SO much.

MigL and I arrived at WDW Friday night, after nine, yes nine, hours of traveling.  Ya really get your money’s worth by working those good ‘ol layovers and stops.  The warm and breezy 70-something degree Florida weather was greatly welcomed Christmas morning.  Now THIS is Florida.  I was looking forward to the fantastic Florida weather, as we were having incredibly cold mornings and days here in Napa (frost on windshields and mostly upper 40s weather).  For you non-Californians, typical weather during winter is around 60 degrees; the 40s is not conducive to your typical California weather.

What a great moment to search for a fitness center!  My first day in Florida on a beautiful sunny Christmas afternoon and here I am on a quest to find a fitness center for my first activity of the day.  Little did I know that on my way to said fitness center, a wasp (at least I thought it was) had latched onto my thumb.  It wasn’t until I got inside the fitness center I was closing my hand and felt something on my thumb.  PINCH!  What the heck was that!  I quickly flung my hand so fast.  I saw something on the left side of the floor but probably had gone underneath the treadmill machines.  Drat!  It hurt like crazy!  I couldn’t bear the pain and I returned back to the hotel room.  MigL was hanging out in the living room.  “I think I got stung by a wasp, what do we do?”  Panic and frustration and a bit of anger settle into me because of this THING.  We need internet!  I quickly ran downstairs and over to the next building where the welcome building was to get a password for the internet.  Then I proceeded to find some help for my poor thumb.  I managed to call Security over and had to wait a couple of minutes for “backup” to get the first aid kit to where we were.  “I always carry the kit with me, but for some reason today, I’m missing it,” said the security guard.  “Great.  It’s just my luck.  I’m out on my first day of vacation on this beautiful day, ready to conquer the week of relaxation and fun and this is what I get.” Welcome to Florida.

The security guard gave me some bee/wasp sting wipes.  There wasn’t much else he could do.  I wasn’t sure if I’d get a reaction or not.  The only other time I got stung by a bee was on a Friday afternoon in college after classes had been finished and I was grabbing some dinner and was headed back to my dorm when I got stung on my foot.  Needless to say at the time I was wearing flip flops and my foot began to swell within five minutes - it stayed swollen for about a week.  I wasn’t sure how my body would react seeing how well my body did with the bee sting.  I hadn’t ever gotten stung by a wasp.

MigL tried looking up on the internet what type of wasp it was.  “I don’t know, it was a wasp (I think).  It hurts so bad!  Isn’t there a general thing to do for wasp stings?  Why do we have to know exactly what it looked like?”  I knew there was a reason why he wanted to find the exact thing that stung me but I was getting more anxious by the second.  I just wanted treatment and for my thumb to stop hurting. I was holding/pinching my thumb so that it’d hurt less.   About 10 minutes later (which felt like an eternity) we finally got an answer.  Antibiotics.  Well, I can do that.  I’d packed some Advil before we left just in case MigL got any headaches on our trip.  I swallowed three with water so fast, by the time you said Advil, they were gone.  More pinching.  Hardly any blood came out.  It seemed like it had all coagulated on my finger.  Today, what still remains on my thumb is a black dot.  Stupid wasp.  Oh yeah, Merry Christmas to me.

The next three days were as cold as being in a freezer.  The plants seemed to have been covered overnight everyday with tarp so that the plants wouldn’t die.  Morning temperatures at 7 a.m. = 30 degrees.  High of 50.  We all warmed ourselves with all of the extra layers we could put on including hats, gloves, scarves and extra outwear.  We’re in Florida not California, right?  It’d been cold in California the week prior I just wanted to confirm that with MigL.  We went to Hollywood Studios on Sunday, Epcot on Monday, Animal Kingdom on Tuesday, Epcot on Wednesday, Magic Kingdom on Thursday.

Trying to get warm at Hollywood studios












Yep, this is definitely the most beautiful castle ever.

Hey, Sicko!

Happy New Year!  I know I’m late with all of the New Year festivities, congratulatory comments and whatnot, but better late than never! In love    I know I’ve neglected blogging for the past month or so, but it’s been a bit rough lately.

That’s what MigL has been calling me for the past week.  Sicko.  Truth be told, I’m sick of being sick, not that I love being sick anyway.  I was so sick that I even had to take a couple of days off work this week.  I have to mention it was a nice two-week break from work (one week of vacation and a half week of sickness).  I’ve felt like crap since we returned from our trip (more about this in another post).  It’s been exactly one week and a day since I got sick and have been battling this cold/fever/runny nose/earache/slight sore throat THING.  Especially this runny nose thing.  It’s completely overrated and getting very annoying.  Funny thing is when one member of the family is sick in a household, someone else is bound to get sick; and wouldn’t you know it, MigL too got sick – luckily not as bad as I.

Earlier this week I asked hungrily, “What’s for dinner tonight, honey?”  (after a few days of not being hungry but force feeding food into my body enough to have energy to move from one room to another).  “Can I have a grilled cheese sandwich and some tomato soup?”  “No” he says.  “You should probably wait a couple of days so that the cheese doesn’t cause any more phlegm than you already have.”  Aw, man!  Ugh.  Just as I think of how wonderful a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup would feel with the wonderful crunchiness of the bread and warm soup in my belly I suddenly felt “Mount Wannahackalugi” come over me.  Ugh, more phlegm.  Disgusting.  Then comes the incessant need to blow my nose.  Those of you with children or who have been around children understand the snot mess a sick kid’s nose can get.  That’s how my nose felt.  Even more disgusting.  “I don’t want to be sick anymore!  This sucks!”

I’m so glad that Hulu exists.  In between sleeping and eating I delved myself into catching up on shows I hadn’t watched in a long time and episodes that I had missed since I’d gone on vacation, mostly because I didn’t have any energy to do anything else.  Literally.  MigL would physically have to help move me from the couch to the bed and even had to really convince me that a shower at night would help make me better.  “But I don’t wanna, I’m too tired.  Can’t I do it tomorrow?”  “No honey, you can’t.  You really should take a nice long hot shower tonight.  Take the hottest shower you can handle.  Trust me, you’ll thank me later.”  Grumble, grumble.  I was too tired to move from the couch to my bed and too tired to even take a shower.  No energy whatsoever.  MigL even started the shower for me and stood in the bathroom until I actually got into the shower.  Lord knows I would have dashed into the bedroom and jumped onto my bed, just like the little pig that went “wee, wee, wee, all the way home.” (Visual note, the Geiko commercial) I had to admit, he was right.  I hate it when he’s right. The hot shower felt SO good.  He even mostly blow dried my hair.  I wasn’t willing to wait 10 minutes for my hair to be completely dry; so 4 to 5 minutes was more than enough time before I plopped into bed for the night.

So far today’s been the best “sick” day.  I finally had enough energy to get up in the morning, shower and even go to the gym.  I HAD ENERGY TO GO TO THE GYM!  45 minutes at the gym was a good start today, which included 15 minutes of running at 15 min/mile, 15 minutes of 15 degree walking at 3 mi./hr.  I have to admit, between being and vacation and being sick I hadn’t even thought about any new year resolutions.  I haven’t finalized my resolutions but I’ve got one or two (OK, three) in mind I’d like to accomplish this year.

- Re-lose 10 pounds to get back to my goal weight.
- Eat smarter, balanced meals at home especially since the food budget is tight.
- Move more.

I’m happy to say that tomorrow’s the first day of the fitness challenge at work, thus meeting one of my New Year’s resolutions for this year of moving more.  For the next three months I, along with four other people on my team, will be competing against other teams in the company to be Fitness Challenge Winners.  The goal is to engage in activity, any sort of activity, and make that part of your regimen for good health.  Last year I participated in this event and our team won 1st place!  Yeah!  Once I’m completely over this sickness thing, I’m going to be committed into incorporating activity into my lifestyle.  Luckily the one lingering and remaining sickness thing is the runny nose.

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