Thursday, August 29, 2013

Flaxseed Oatmeal Pancakes

Pancakes for breakfast is basically dessert for breakfast.  As a kid, my pancakes were basically just a vehicle for syrup and chocolate chips.  That is probably why my mom only made them on very special occasions!  I still love a good stack of chocolate chip pancakes dowsed in syrup and topped with whipped cream but I never feel great about it after the fact.  

These flaxseed and oatmeal pancakes are an awesome alternative.  Not only are these cakes low in fat and full of good-for-you ingredients but they are really yummy.  


1 cup whole wheat
2 tablespoons flax meal
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1 cup almond milk
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
Maple of agave syrup

1. In a large bowl combine flour, oats, flax meal, baking soda and powder, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. 
2. In another bowl whisk together eggs, almond milk, oil, vanilla, and brown sugar. Stir into dry ingredients until just combined. 
3. Heat griddle and spray with cooking spray.  Pour pancake batter onto griddle (I made 5 large pancakes with my batter but you can make yours any size). When bubbles form on top, flip your pancakes. Cook until second side is golden brown.
4. Serve with any type of fruit you like (blueberries and strawberries are my fav) .
5. Top with maple or agave syrup (I used agave).

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Salmon Cakes

My mom gave me this recipe and it's awesome.  Reminds me of something they'd cook way down South!  For the most part, canned food gets a bad rap for being unhealthy but these salmon patties are actually loaded with nutrition.  Salmon, out of the can or fresh out of the ocean, is loaded with with omega-3 fatty acids and the bones (yes, the canned salmon comes bones and all) are full of calcium. These cakes are so easy to make and they would be a perfect entree or appetizer at any summer BBQ.  


Two 14 oz. cans of salmon with bones, drained
2 egg whites
1/3 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 tbs. Old Bay or all-purpose seasoning
3 drops of Tabasco
2 1/2 tbs. chopped parsley
4 tbs. chopped roasted red pepper from jar, chopped
vegetable oil 

1. Heat pan over medium heat. Combine salmon, egg, crumbs, seasoning, Tabasco, parsley, and red pepper.   I know the canned salmon looks a little freaky but get over it, it's just fish!
2. Form patties, 1-inch thick.
3. Add oil to pan. Cook patties 3 minutes on each side until golden and cooked. Drain on paper towels. 

It's as easy as 1, 2, 3! ;)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Chicago 2013

Because my boyfriend is a musician and his band goes on cross country tours pretty often, I am lucky enough to do quite a bit of traveling myself! It can be hard being away from each other for long periods of time so I like to try to fly out to see him at least once during each tour.  Last weekend a few of the other bandmates girlfriends and I decided to visit them in Chicago! 

I had been to Chicago years ago and absolutely loved it.  The second time around was just as wonderful, if not better.  We spent four days in the city but I probably could have used another week to see everything I wanted. 

Our first day roaming around!  Here we are where the Chicago River runs through the center of the city.  There are all kinds of cool boat tours you can take on the river but of course Cayson and I were distracted by a welcoming bar that sat right on the river and missed the tours. Just couldn't resist the mojitos and Chicago style hotdogs! Whoops. 

The "Jay-zito." Rum, lime juice, mint, and champagne. Hands down my favorite new drink!  I will most definitely be making these on the regular at home. 

Unfortunately shopping was not on the top of Cayson's priority list : ( .   If I had it my way we would have stopped in every store on Michigan Avenue but I was nice and only dragged him into a couple of my favorites...

 I HAD to go into the American Girl Place.  I spent a large chunk of my childhood playing with and collecting American Girl Dolls and their accessories.  My girl cousins and I were obsessed with these dolls and took them with us everywhere. It was really fun to see all the cute little girls walking around with their American Girls. Really brought me back!

One of the best parts about Chicago is the FOOD.  The city is full of so many amazing restaurants, bakeries, and bars...we probably spent over half the trip eating and I wouldn't have had it any other way.
I would highly recommend going to Trencherman in Wicker Park.  We had a great experience here with our friends Kevin and Ashley. The atmosphere is vintage and rustic with brick walls and dim lighting, very cool.  For dinner they have "small" and "large" plates.  We ordered several plates and shared them all which was fun because we were able to experience more of the menu.  Every plate was  unique and delicious (my fav was the friend chicken) and don't even get me started on the dessert! All I ask is that you try the Coffee Cake with Chai Tofu Ice Cream, Fried Chocolate, and Smoked Meringue. Wow.

We also had the pleasure of eating at Au Cheval. This is the place to go if you are really really hungry. The atmosphere is laid back and bar-esque. Cayson and I sat at the bar where the chefs cook everything right in front of you. We split the Chili Con Carne and Corn Chips, a Single Cheese Burger with a Fried Egg, and the General Jane's Honey Fried Chicken with Chili.  It was all excellent, especially the burger! Definitely at the top of my best tasting burgers list.

And then of course you must get the Chicago classic deep dish pizza.  There are several deep dish options but we went with Lou Malnati's Pizzeria because we heard it was the best. It did not disappoint!

I regret not taking pictures of all of our delicious meals  : (  Guess I was just too excited about eating it! Sorry guys!

The "Cloud Gate" sculpture, aka the "Chicago Bean" is the centerpiece of the Millennium Park. It is made up of 168 stainless steel plates welded together.  It reflects the the city's skyline and of course is perfect for large crowds of tourists to take selfies ; ). 

The Chicago skyline reflecting off "The Bean."

We did briefly stop stuffing our faces to go to the Natural History Museum.  That was interesting and a lot of fun.  We watched the "Great White Shark' movie in 3-D.  Here I am crossing the bridge near Grant Park on our way to the museum. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Chai Tea Cupcakes

I freaked out when I tasted these cupcakes! They taste just like a Chai Tea Latte topped with whipped cream. I was not expecting them to taste so on the money but WOW! Warm and sweet with just the right amount of spice, these babies are a delight.  


3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter
4 eggs
1 cup whole milk
5 Chai spice tea bags
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tub fluffy vanilla frosting
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 
 pinch of nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Heat milk on the stove unit simmering. Take off stove and steep 3 Chai tea bags for about 20 minutes. 
3. Cut open remaining two Chai tea bags and grind until fine. 
4. Sift flour, sugar, ground Chai tea, baking powder, and salt into your electric mixer. Cut up your butter and mix into flour until it is mostly combined. 
5. In another bowl squeeze Chai tea bags that have been steeping into your milk and discard. Add the milk, eggs, and vanilla together and lightly beat. 
6. Slowly pour your milk mixture into the flour and mix until just combined. Do not over mix!
7. Bake for about 20 minutes.
8. Meanwhile make your frosting: I took the easy route and just grabbed some fluffy vanilla frosting pre-made from the store (I know, tisk tisk... If you feel that you MUST make your own frosting go for it!) Scoop frosting into a bowl and add 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg. Mix together.
9. After your cupcakes have completely cooled frost them, sprinkle a little ground cinnamon on top and add a cinnamon stick to garnish.  : )

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Lemon and Mint Orzo with Chicken

I love everything lemon (if I haven't mentioned that already)! That is probably why this is one of my  favorite go-to dinners.  The flavors of the mint leaves and lemon dressing are so refreshing! This recipe is easy, inexpensive, and delicious... what's not to love??


2 cups orzo
1 cup olive oil
zest and juice of two lemons
2 tablespoons honey
1 white onion
1 can of white beans
2 cooked chicken breasts
10 mint leaves

1. Boil four cups of water then add orzo. Cook for about 15 minutes or until al dente. 
2. Meanwhile chop up the onion and saute in olive oil until just soft.  You want your onion to still have some crunch to it.  
3. Make your dressing: Combine the lemon zest and juice with 3/4 cup olive oil and 2 tablespoons of honey.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper.  
4. Chop up your mint leaves and cooked chicken breasts.
5. Add sauce, onion, beans, mint, and chicken breasts to the orzo.  Add another pinch of salt and pepper.  Stir together and let the flavors marinate.
6. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Berry Pavlova

The first time I saw a pavlova I thought it was so impressive and beautiful looking.  Although I was mesmerized by it's beauty, I was skeptical about how it might taste.  I love meringue but an entire cake made up of it sounded like a bit too much.  I came across the most stunning pavlova ever in "House Beautiful" magazine and had to give it a try.  My concerns about the taste were all for nothing! This dessert is so delicious with the right amount of sweetness and tanginess from the berry compote.  This work of art is a perfect treat for summer. 



6 egg whites
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt 

Berry Compote:

1 1/2 cup blackberries
1 1/2 cup raspberries
2 cups strawberries
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 1/2 tablespoons butter

Whipped Cream:

2 cups heavy whipping cream
4 tablespoons sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Draw three circles onto parchment paper.  Your circles can all be the same size or you make them in small, medium, and large sizes to create a pyramid shape like I did.  Put your circles on baking sheets.  I used two baking sheets, one sheet fit the small and medium circles and the other fit the large circle. Set aside.

2.  For the Meringue: Add all of the ingredients into your electric mixer and then whip them together at the highest speed for about 10 minutes or until the meringue begins to form very stiff peaks.  

3. Using a spatula, spread the meringue onto each of your drawn circles. I made my meringue circles about an inch thick.  Lower your oven to 200 degrees and stick your meringue circles into the oven.  Bake for 1 1/2 hours.  After 1 1/2 hours turn your oven off and leave the meringues in the oven over night, never opening the oven. 

4. For Berry Compote: Melt the butter in a pan then add lemon juice and brown sugar. Stir until dissolved.  Add berries and cook for about 5 minutes, until the berries are soft. 

5. For Whipped Cream: Put all of the ingredients into your electric mixer and beat until soft peaks form. 

6.  Place the large meringue circle on a serving platter and top with a portion of the berry compote.  Randomly drop clouds of whipped cream on top of the berries. Repeat with your medium and small sized meringue circles.  Top with a strawberry!

7.  Add a little bit of green to your pavlova. I suggest using mint leaves or rosemary. I went for rosemary because it conveniently grows in my front yard.

The pavlova was named after the Russian prima ballerina Anna Pavlova.  She was known to be the greatest ballerina of her time.  The dessert is said to be "light and airy" like her dancing.