Monday, May 27, 2013

Creamy Avocado Pasta

I like to eat food.  I like to eat good food. I like to eat good food that’s filled with carbs and fats and sugars.  I will probably never naturally gravitate towards a raw, paleo, or gluten-free diet. (Though I was a hard core vegetarian in high school.  I just ate a lot of donuts... just kidding.)  But as I get older, I see my body as a machine:  if I take care of this machine and give it all the nutrition it needs, it will run well and I will have minimal problems.  But if I don’t take care of this wonderful machine, it won’t work efficiently.  I will be tired, irritable, and have trouble concentrating.

That being said, I feel like mealtime is a constant battle between what I want to eat and what I need to eat.  But what if I could have both?  What if I had a handful of meal ideas that tasted amazing and were good for me at the same time?  This is exactly what I’m trying to come up with and I’d like to share with you one of my first meals.

Creamy Avocado Pasta
2 ripe avocados
1-2 teaspoons of lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, approximately
1 spoonful of minced garlic
A pinch of salt
1 large tomato, chopped, or several cherry tomatoes
4 servings of uncooked pasta, (whole wheat, gluten-free, or regular.)

1. Bring a pot of water up to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and stir occasionally.

2. Slice the avocados in half, remove the pit and scoop the ‘meat’ into a bowl.  Take a fork and mash it up a bit.

3. Now it’s time to add the lemon juice, EVOO and garlic.  This is a good time to personalize your meal: if you want the lemon and/or garlic flavor to stand out, add more of it.  The EVOO is use to thin the avocado mixture, so add it according to how thin or thick you want yours to be.  Add salt to taste and stir.

4. When the pasta is cooked, drain it, and place in a large serving bowl.  Add the avocado mixture and the tomatoes.  Stir it all together and serve immediately.

This dish tastes like a beautiful combination of fettuccine alfredo and guacamole.  It’s so good I could eat it every day. In fact, as long as I had this, I may never need to eat fettuccine alfredo ever again.  And that’s really saying something, because I really like alfredo!  Plus, avocadoes are much healthier for you than cream, butter, and cheese (alfredo) will ever be.  The only downside to this dish is that the avocado will oxidize after a few hours and turn brown, so it’s not the best dish to store for leftovers.  But, this meal is so good that eating it all won’t be a problem.

Hip hip hooray for avocados!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Foodie's Guide to Southern Coastal Maine

School is out!  I’m very happy about it because it was an extremely stressful semester for me and I’m thankful it’s over. After all that college stress, a vacation was much needed, so my aunt and I decided to go to Maine.  Many people ask me “Of all the places in the world, why Maine?”  Well, good people of the internet, I will give you three reasons:

1. It’s gorgeous:

2. It’s gorgeous:

3. It’s gorgeous:

My aunt and I have been to Maine a few times before and we knew what we wanted to do while we were there, so it was a relatively simple trip to plan (simplicity is big plus when you’re planning a trip while under college stress.  It also helps to have a travel buddy who does 90% of the pre-trip planning, so you can focus on your classes.  Thanks aunty!)

Here is a list of activities I did while out in Maine:
Sit next to the ocean
Walk next to the ocean
Eat seafood

Yep, it was a very good vacation indeed!  

Since this is a blog about food and cooking, I’m excited to share some of the meals my aunt and I had on our wonderful trip.  After all, it’s not fun to sit next to the ocean on an empty stomach!

Note: I really try to make the meals I write about on this blog healthy and inexpensive. Unfortunately, none of the following meals are healthy or inexpensive.  But, as the cool kids say these days: you only live once.

Oarweed is a cozy little restaurant with a great ocean view.  My aunt and I found it on our first trip to Maine and we eat there almost every day we are in the area.

Seafood Chowder: Similar to a clam chowder, but because there’s also haddock, lobster and shrimp in it, this chowder has a much deeper flavor. It’s so good, it’s worth going to Maine only for this chowder.  And it’s totally appropriate to eat three bowls of this for supper...

Crab Cakes: My favorite meal at Oarweed is served with a delicious remoulade.  You can order them with a side salad or a cup of chowder.  

Maine Diner
This place knows how to make good food, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed!  Maine Diner is known as one of the best restaurants in Maine and was even featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.  Better yet, the food is very reasonably priced, so both your tummy and wallet won’t leave empty.

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese: Tastes like homemade and has large chunks of lobster meat. One of the diner’s most popular dishes and one of my favorites.   

Maine Lobster Melt: English muffins topped with tomato slices, lobster, and melted cheese. Comes with your choice of side and a pickle.

Don’t forget dessert!  The Maine diner’s desserts are about half the price of most other area restaurants and you get a huge serving.  My aunt and I are always too full after dinner, so we get our dessert to-go for a midnight snack.  Pictured below are blueberry pie and chocolate cake.

Brown’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream
As long as I’m on the topic of desserts, I should tell you about Brown’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream.  Located near Cape Neddick lighthouse, it has some of the world’s best ice cream.  I loved the Maine Wild Blueberry and the Sea-Salted Caramel with Chocolate Truffles and my aunt raved about Dark Raspberry Explosion.

Alisson’s Restaurant: I don’t know what it is, but this place just makes me happy!

Steamed Mussels: If there is only one thing you get at Alisson’s, please let it be the steamed mussels! They are simmered in a wonderful buttery white wine sauce. Thankfully, they give you bread to soak up the extra sauce, because I would seriously lick the plate clean.  Plus, what an adorable little bucket for putting your empty shells in!

Fried Clams: I wanted to try fried clams.  They were really good, but if you’re not used to eating fried food (like me), skip the French fries and get a salad instead.  

Lobster, Scallop, and Shrimp Medley: Smothered in a buttery garlic sauce and topped with bread crumbs.     

The Wild Blueberry Cafe
This was a new place that we had never tried before.  The cute name caught my eye and I’m glad it did, because I will definitely be eating here again.

The Wild Blueberry Cafe Breakfast:  As you can probably tell by now, blueberries are a big deal in Maine, because they grow a lot of them.  Trying blueberry pancakes was a must and I was not disappointed!

Crepes with Fresh Berries: I could eat crepes for every meal and these look great!

There you have it!  Probably more information and pictures than you needed, but I wanted to share.  Both my aunt and I had a wonderful time.

I hope you all are having a good week!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Happy Donuts, Happy Friday

Happy Friday!  Here are some gorgeous donuts to help you ease into the weekend. Yum!

This morning, one of my coworkers brought in a box of donuts to the office for everyone to share, and I made an important discovery: turtle donuts!  What?!  Yes, donuts covered in caramel and chocolate, with mini chocolate chips and chopped walnuts sprinkled on top.  Someday, when I make homemade donuts, I know what my toppings of choice will be!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Oatmeal Banana Breakfast Muffins

Hello all!  Over the past week I’ve been super busy with school and finals.  Because of my busy schedule, I’ve been trying to save myself some time wherever I can and I found something that really works for me: breakfast on the go!  I’ve never been a fan of cold cereal or oatmeal for breakfast, so any quick and easy breakfast ideas are a great thing for me. 

I found the original recipe for these muffins on The Well Traveled Wife, and added my own little twist.

Oatmeal Banana Breakfast Muffins
2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup greek yogurt
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 ripe bananas

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and either spray the muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray or line muffin tin with liners.

The main objective now is to turn the 2 1/2 cups of oats into oat flour.  There are a few ways you can do this:  the original recipe says to put all the ingredients into a food processor and blend until the oats are smooth.  I don’t have a food processor.  The recipe also suggests using a blender, but I don’t think my blender is powerful enough to do this job efficiently.  I came up with the idea of using my coffee grinder to process the oats into oat flour.  It’s a bit slow, because you can only grind about a 1/2 cup of oats at a time, but it works well for me.

2. Take your ground oats and add the rest of your ingredients and stir them together.  This is a great time to add chocolate chips, craisins, raisins, chopped nuts, flax seed oil, protein powder or any other add-ins that you would like.

3. Fill each cup of the muffin tin about 1/2 to 3/4 full and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until done.

4. Let cool and enjoy!

A few comments I have:

  • The original recipe says to use either foil or silicon liner, or to forgo the liner and grease the muffin tins.  I used paper liner and the muffins did stick to the liners a bit until they totally cooled.  Also, I found that the more you overcook them, the more they stick to the paper liners.  If you don’t want the muffins to stick to the liners, perhaps using the other liners would work better.

  • I found that if I added craisins or raisins, I didn’t need to add the full 3/4 cup of sugar.

  • You could sprinkle a pinch of sugar on top on each muffin before baking so they would have a sweet and slightly crunchy top. 

  • If you use larger muffin tins, this recipe makes about a dozen muffins.  I used smaller cupcake sized tins and made about 18 muffins.

Not only do these make a great breakfast, but they also are good afternoon or midnight snack.  I make a batch on Sunday evenings and enjoy them throughout the week!