Category Archives: Food for Thought

Salmon Salad, FTW

I’ve been making a huge effort in bringing my lunch to work to make sure I keep it healthy. I was steaming shrimp or making chicken to put on my salads, but to change it up I started using smoked salmon. How could I not have thought of this sooner? DELICIOUS. Just a little pepper on it, no dressing needed. Enjoy.


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Late Night Snacks

I take pride in the fact that I’ve been eating healthy lately. I’ve cut back on a lot of sugar (my indisputable weakness: Mike & Ike’s) and carbs (my other weakness…maybe even more so than the previous). I’ve added a lot of protein. All that went out the window last night when Sean and I decided we wanted “something sweet” around 11pm.

For Christmas I was given a baking set from Sur La Table for homemade donuts, complete with mixing bowl, donut baking tray, spatula and mix. While I’ve used the utensils, I hadn’t used the mix…seemed like a good time.

They were delicious. Only problem is now I have a bunch of donuts in my kitchen. I want them to go away, but not because I ate them all. ūüėČ

Hey, a little splurge now and again is OK, right?

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Valentine’s Day at Tico

Call me clich√© but I will always like going out to dinner on Valentine’s Day. This year Sean and I decided to try a restaurant we hadn’t been to before, Tico. It’s the sister restaurant of Radius, which we’ve been to a few times and really like.

Tico is tapas restaurant with food that is a delicious mixture of America, Spanish and Mexican. Overall the food was really good. I ordered the BBQ shrimp with mango salad and grilled brussel sprouts with bacon, grilled cumquats and pickled onion. Normally I’m not a bacon fan, but with the rest of the dish it was perfect and not overpowering. Sean ordered¬†calamari¬†and chorizo risotto with pasilla chiles, scallion and parmigiano. Delicious all around. I think the most flavorful calamari I’ve ever had. We also shared mini lobster avocado tacos. Also delicious.

Lobster Avocado Tacos

The service overall was good and the waitstaff attentive. I also appreciated that they didn’t jam too many tables into the dining room considering the holiday, like some places do (I don’t name names…).

After dinner we went to my favorite dessert spot: Max Brenner’s, where I promptly ordered a DELICIOUS chocolate martini. So. Good. We also ordered a dessert, which took a really long time to get to the table, but the bartenders were really proactive and apologized and even comped one of our drinks. That’s always helpful, right? For the record, this was our third or fourth trip to Max Brenner’s and this was the first time there was any sort of issue (which wasn’t even a big deal – I was busy enjoying my drink).

Chocolate Martini at Max Brenner's

Overall it was a fun evening – I would recommend both Tico¬†and Max Brenner’s to anyone.¬†Enjoy. : )

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Chewy Cranberry Banana Oatmeal Cookies

One of my favorite recipe blogs, We Are Not Martha, recently posted a recipe for Banana Maple Cranberry cookies. They sounded amazing, so I decided to give them a try. I changed the recipe a bit (mostly to suit Sean’s taste) and came up with Chewy Cranberry Banana Oatmeal cookies. They’re really easy to make and, as far as cookies go, are on the healthier side.

Chewy Cranberry Banana Oatmeal Cookies

Prep time: 10 -15 minutes
Bake time: 15 – 18 minutes


  • 3 large ripe bananas
  • 3 C rolled oats
  • 1/3 C unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 C brown sugar
  • 2 T cinnamon
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 3/4 C dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts


  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Mash bananas together in a medium-large bowl. Tip: first slice the bananas and then use a masher.
  • Mix in oats, trying to make the mixture as even as possible
  • Add all additional ingredients, mix thoroughly
  • Place balls of dough onto lightly greased, non-stick baking sheet. The cookies do not spread out while baking, so you may want to push them down in the middle to give them more of a “cookie” look and less like a ball.
  • Bake for 15 – 18 minutes

The end result, as the name implies, is a chewy cookie. Less banana and more oats would change the texture to suit less-chewy cookies, if that’s what you like.

The recipe in general is extremely forgiving because of the nature of the ingredients. I made a few “test” cookies before coming up with the final recipe. I decided to make these an addition to our Super Bowl spread this year.



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Recipe: Cake Bites

Last year my older sister bought me a cake pop recipe book for my birthday. (This recipe book, to be exact.) It took me some time before I was able to give the recipes in there a shot, but now that I have I’m hooked on these things. So far I haven’t turned them into actual “pops,” but “bites” are the same thing, just without the stick.

While I’m a fan of making cake from scratch, the book suggests using a mix because of the consistency, so that’s what I’ve been doing so far.



  • 1 box of cake mix (and everything required to make the mix)
  • 1 cup of frosting
  • 1 package (14 oz) melting chocolate


  • Prepare the cake as directed on the package. Bake and let cool completely (30 – 45 minutes)
  • Cut the cake into quarters and, in a large bowl, crumble the cake completely

TIP: Break the quarters again and rub each half against the other to crumble the cake.

  • Mix in the frosting as evenly as possible. The result should be a sort of thick mixture that can be easily molded.
  • Mold the mixture into small, 1 inch balls and place them on wax paper
  • Once complete, place trays in the refrigerator to harden for at least an hour to harden – this makes it much easier to dip the cake into the melted chocolate.

  • Once the cake has further hardened, start melting the chocolate wafers in a double broiler
  • As soon as the chocolate has melted, remove the coating from the heat
  • Dip cake bites into the mixture with a spoon, using another spoon to add additional coating to the cake, coating it completely.

TIP: Do not roll cake around in the coating, this will cause small pieces to fall off and will prevent the cake bites from being covered smoothly.

  • Rap¬† spoon with the coated cake bite on the side on the melting pot to remove excess coating

TIP: I used multiple spoons to manipulate the cake in the coating. Have extra spoons on hand because they become covered in the coating.

  • Carefully place coated cake bites onto another sheet of wax paper to cool.

So far I’ve done the recipe a handful of times using both chocolate and vanilla frosting, but have only used chocolate cake so far (the choice of the recipients). I’ve used chocolate as well as white chocolate-colored wafers. The ones pictured at top were sitting with red and green-covered bites, hence the flecks of color. ūüėČ



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Popcorn S’Mores Bars

A while back Sean bought me a Popcorn cookbook.¬† For whatever reason we haven’t been able to try many of the recipes yet, but I just got around to trying the S’Mores bars – yum!¬† Definitely for those with a strong sweet tooth and sense of nostalgia for camping as a kid.

Popcorn S'Mores bars

Popcorn S'Mores bars


  • 4 quarts popped popcorn – 1/2 cup unpopped popcorn
  • One package (16 oz) marshmallows note: recipe called for 5 cups, but there was only slightly more in the 16 oz package
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/3 cup Golden Grahams cereal note – the recipe only called for 1 cup, but I added a little more
  • 6 TBS butter
  1. Butter a 9×13 inch glass pan
  2. Pop the popcorn and place in large bowl – use an air popper if possible – set popcorn aside


  3. Melt butter over low heat in medium-large saucepan.  Add marshmallows once butter is mostly melted, stirring until butter and marshmallows are mixed and completely melted together
  4. Add melted marshmallow mixture to the popcorn, stirring quickly (faster = easier)
  5. Quickly add 1 cup chocolate chips and the cereal to the popcorn/marshmallow mixture until combined
  6. Place mixture into the greased pan
  7. Melt the remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips

    Right before adding the chocolate on top...

  8. Drizzle (or spread – your call) the chocolate onto the top of the bars
  9. Let set for 20-25 minutes
  10. Cut bars into squares to serve

Tip: try to make sure all the popcorn you use is actually popped!¬† I tried to make sure kernels didn’t get into the bowl while it was popping.

Also – when I make these again (and I know I will be making them again) – I don’t know if I would add the extra chocolate on top.¬† I don’t think it really needs it and there’s enough chocolate throughout.¬† I think the addition of the chocolate topping would depend on whether I’m making them for “big kids” like myself, or little kids, who just may be their intended consumer.


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Strawberry Shortcake Cookies

Apparently May is National Strawberry Month.¬† What better way to celebrate than making strawberry shortcake cookies?¬† I saw the recipe for these on my fellow baking lover’s blog – Fun & Fearless in Beantown.¬† It was my coworker’s birthday the following week and thought these would be a great way to help celebrate.


  • 2 cups strawberries, hulled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (fresh if possible)
  • 9 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (recipe calls for coarse salt, but I used regular table salt)
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2/3 cup milk (I used 2% milk, but the recipe actually calls for heavy cream)
  • Optional: Vanilla turbinado sugar or sanding sugar, for sprinkling

First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.   Then hull and dice the strawberries and place them into a medium bowl.

diced strawberries

Add the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar into the bowl of strawberries, mix and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and remaining seven tablespoons of granulated sugar.  Cut in the butter, making the dough crumbly in texture.  The original recipe recommended using a pastry cutter Рsomething I have yet to invest in. : )

Right before adding the strawberries

After the texture in the mixture in consistent, stir in the milk.

The cookie dough

Once mixed, add the strawberry mixture.  Note Рthe original recipe showed a loose cookie dough texture at this point, but mine was somewhat thinner.  This may have been because the strawberries I used were really juicy Рbut regardless the cookies still came out delicious.

Using a tablespoon, place dollops of the cookie dough on a cookie sheet that’s either greased or lined with parchment paper.¬† The original recipe showed dough balls similar-ish to chocolate chip cookie dough balls, but mine were not as firm. Again – I think because of the strawberry juice.

Bake cookies between 10 – 20 minutes depending on your oven.¬† The original recipe actually called for 24 minutes but my cookies were actually done in 10!¬† Tip: do a “test batch” with one or two cookies on opposite sides of the baking sheet to see how long they take.

The recipe yields about 25 – 30 cookies.

The verdict:  the cookies were a success!  Definitely something I will make again.  Enjoy!

Strawberry shortcake cookies - yum!

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