Tuesday, April 29, 2008

101st post!

I know everyone celebrates their 100th post, but I felt that I had to actually write 100 posts in order to celebrate :) So, here's to the 101st post on My Apples and Oranges!

I thought I would post something that amuses me regularly - keywords. I'm sure others, like me, track their blog stats through Google Analytics. Well, one of the things you can track is the keywords that are used to reach your blog. Some of them are hysterical! Here are a few of my favorites:

  • "lemon bar" score card
  • are oranges fattening (this one is popular!)
  • oranges happy
  • apples and oranges battle
  • are oranges bad to eat at night
  • giant canner
  • people buying bags of apples and oranges
  • tim love chili
  • when are the oranges ready
  • how many degrees should my fridge be set at?
  • eat apples and oranges together
  • key lime orchards in the US
  • "don't like melted cheese"
  • apples and oranges are not like at all
  • apples and oranges i like but i don't like

I think my favorite is "tim love chili" - I think they were looking for Tim Love's chili, but instead they got my post on how my husband Tim loves chili :)

Thanks for reading everyone!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

I love Sundays

Don't you? Except for the fact that Monday is right around the corner, Sundays are just perfect. Usually, in our house, Sundays consist of grabbing the newspaper, getting a few garlic bagels and a coffee (for Tim), maybe heading over to Stew Leonard's, making something really good for dinner (recently, that has been Seafood Sundays), usually editing some photos and getting all my stuff together for the week.

It was supposed to rain today, but its holding off just long enough to enjoy the day. I thought I would post a few pictures of my latest Sunday activity - my new "garden" (or rather, my 4 pots)! I wish I had more space... a few years ago, I had a fairly large garden and it was so amazing - cucumbers, squash, herbs galore, tomatoes, etc. I guess you have to take what you can get when you live in an apartment. I just planted a few things so far - some lettuce and parsley plus some marigolds to keep the bugs/animals away. I'm working on some others that will be filled with some interesting herb combinations and other lettuces/flowers.

There are so many flowering trees out right now in our area - I love this shot of my neighbor's house through the forsythia.

I will have a recipe/product review later on as well! Have a great Sunday!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Quick & Healthy Snack

I'm running all around today and don't have too much time for in-depth post, but I wanted to make sure to get this awesome snack up here. A pseudo-rice krispie bar, but a bit more grown-up - I like to make these when I really want a quick dessert or snack, but don't want all the calories that come with a cookie or brownie.

They are called Peanut Butter-Crispy Rice Bars and are from Cooking Light. Since I have not changed the recipe all that much, I'll just go ahead and post the link to the recipe here. In fact, the only change I make is in the ingredient list - no rice krispies here! Not that there is anything wrong with them really (besides the fact that they get soggy so fast!), but I prefer to swap out the 6 cups of name-brand cereal for a mixture of generic puffed rice and puffed wheat cereals (3 cups each).

Give these a try sometime and let me know how you change them up - I'm always looking for a new spin on things I make all the time. And, if you love rice krispies, please go ahead and use them. I'm not the biggest fan, but I'm sure they work great too.

By the way, I also made the best banana bread this weekend for my mom. Are these mini-loaves not the cutest things?! Maybe I'm the last one to know this, but I hardly ever make banana bread because I never have bananas that are ripe enough to use when I want to make the bread. Well, a few weeks ago, I had bananas that were seriously on their way out - so I put them in the freezer. I defrosted them before making the bread and they worked great! Who knew? They seem a bit gross when you defrost them, because they are bit slimier then usual, but the flavor and texture were just fine.

Well, I hate to blog and run, but everyone has those kind of days, right?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Gone already?!

And, admittedly, this is not my first box of the season...

Anyone else a fan of these candies? They are out for Passover right now in the stores and have been around my house since I was a kid. Now, I don't even really like chocolate, but I LOVE these :) Maybe its a good thing that they are not around in the grocery stores year-round.

Happy Friday!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Tax Day: Black Bean Dip

This - in my opinion - is a seriously awesome dip. It is easy, delicious, fun, and cheap! Cheap being the keyword for April 15th, US Income Tax deadline day. Hopefully this tax season wasn't too hard on your wallet, but if you are watching your pennies - here is a great, cheap dish for a party or for a quick meal.

Black Bean Dip

2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 sweet onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tomato, chopped w/juice
1/2 lime, juiced
Handful cilantro, chopped (optional to some, but not to me!)
Pinch of cumin
Swirl of extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt/freshly ground pepper
Splash of broth/stock (if needed)

1. Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil on medium heat in a saucepan for a few minutes or until softened (but not browned).

2. Add black beans and lime juice and stir to combine with other ingredients. Let cook for about 5 minutes.

3. Add tomato and cumin; stir to combine. Let cook for approximately 10 minutes, maybe a little more. You are looking for the sweet moment when the beans begin to mush on their own and it starts to look like a dip rather than a bowl of ingredients. Trust me, you'll see it!

4. If the beans begin to stick to the bottom of the pot during cooking (which they usually do) or the beans look a little dry, add a splash or two of vegetable stock/broth (you can use chicken also if that is what you have).

5. As the dip is starting to come together, taste for seasoning and add salt/pepper to suit your tastes.

6. Once done (you want the beans to be a little smashed, but not a uniform mixture), turn off heat and add chopped cilantro. This not necessary if you really dislike cilantro, which I've recently realized that a lot of people do, but I think it is what makes the flavor awesome. The decision is yours :)

7. Serve warm with tortilla chips (we LOVE Tostito's lime chips), pita chips or use it in tacos, burritos, whatever. Would also be great with grilled chicken.

This dip is easily updated to make enough for a big crowd - just add some more beans and up the other ingredients proportionally. It really doesn't matter if you have a little less onion or a little more garlic. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Great Top Ten List

I totally admit that I am an internet/web fanatic - but isn't everyone? I get most, if not all, of my news and information from the web. I do occasionally read the paper and I have a definite cooking magazine addiction, but all in all, the web is just the best resource for interesting articles and the latest info on current events. Sometimes, I just can't believe how much time I spent on the web compared to just a few years ago. Anyways, back to my point.

Here is a great article from CHOW which talks about tips for carnivores to help reduce the impact of their meat-eating ways. I'm totally included in this group and if you follow this blog, you already know that I have been trying to incorporate similar ideas into my lifestyle (you can read about it here and here).

Love it, cook it well, eat it responsibly.

I'm happy to say that so far I have accomplished numbers (1), (4), (6), (7), and (9) on that list(yes!) and hoping to learn more about my local grocery store animal-handling and feeding practices in the near future. Anyone else trying some of these ideas? I'm not saying that this list is groundbreaking or totally new or anything like that, but its always helpful for me to see ideas put together in one place.

(image & Meat Week 2008 slogan - www.chow.com)

Friday, April 4, 2008

These were....ok.

As is obvious from this post, this post and this one too :), I definitely am a citrus fan. So, for Easter, I decided to make some lemon bars to go along with the asparagus tart that I was bringing to my mother-in-laws for dinner. I have a large stack of cookbooks in my kitchen and I grabbed a few in the hopes of finding a quick and easy recipe. My mom bought me a Paula Deen cookbook awhile back and I'd never made anything from it. I figured that Paula would be the perfect person for a homey dessert like lemon bars, but I guess I was wrong. They were really....average and just ok. Nothing too special or super delicious.

You can find the recipe for Paula Deen's lemon bars here - I didn't change anything, so I thought instead of re-posting the recipe, I would post some tips. These bars are not a lost cause - they have a nice flavor and I think with a little help they could be really good. I did find a few other lemon bar recipes by Paula Deen - maybe she tweaked it since the cookbook?

  • Add a little more lemon: Maybe its just me, but I like the taste and flavor of lemon. These bars were pretty sweet and were missing that over-the-top lemon flavor. I think a bit more lemon zest would give them a kick.

  • Thinner crust: The crust on these bad boys was huge! I know that it doesn't look very thick in the photo, but I removed some and some of it stuck to the pan. It seemed like there was more crust than filling and the crust was also a bit tough. I think I overcooked mine a tad, but I would definitely reduce the thickness of the crust next time.

  • Less butter: This is a shortbread crust, but I feel like you can definitely go a bit easier on the butter (2 sticks!). The crust was a bit greasier than I would like and it was definitely not as tender as a normal shortbread. The main point of the recipe is the lemon part so I feel like you are really eating so much of your calories here in the crust.

Even though the bars were not perfect, I'm still entering them in Joelen's Tasty Tools event! Cooking or baking with citrus is the perfect way to use your microplane zester - I LOVE mine and use it all the time (even as a replacement cheese grater once in a while). I have definitely almost zested my knuckles with it too :)

If anyone has any great lemon bar recipes - please post in the comments! Have a great weekend!