Summer Fruit & Rose Sangria

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I’ve decided that Monday needs to be official cocktail day here on my blog. For many reasons, but the biggest being that, well, it’s Monday. Even doing a job I love, Mondays aren’t my favorite day of the week. I used to love them, I used to get excited about the prospect of a new week. Now, my weeks are the same. I wake up, cook, photograph and write. Every single day. Even though the dishes change and the articles are different, it’s still the same exact thing. I hate to complain about a job many people dream of, but it’s becoming a little monotonous.

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Which is why I’ve started applying to full-time jobs in the travel/food industry! I know, big shock, but I’ll be honest, there are many things I really miss about an office setting, and a more “traditional” job. For one, I miss the interaction. Right now, my colleagues only communicate with me in the form of a loud, annoying bark. Another thing I miss is shopping for work clothes and dressing up everyday. Sure I could dress up now, but what’s the point of wearing a cute pencil skirt and blouse when it’ll be doused in flour in 3 minutes? I also miss the exciting possibility of promotions, of working your butt off and working your way towards the top of a company. I really miss bonuses, steady income, having my own health insurance.

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These sound like little reasons, but when you add them all up, they make a huge difference. I love my job, and I have no intentions of quitting once I get a new one, but I want something else in the meantime to really challenge, push and excite me.  Plus, this whole “food writing” gig isn’t doing my waistline any favors. And because I’m a bit of a masochist, I decided it might be fun to try on my old pencil skirts and cute skinny work pants this weekend. Let’s just say a bottle of wine and more tears than I care to admit followed after they didn’t zip up. So the idea of going back to an office where I’m not tempted with mac n’ cheese and boozy milkshakes everyday sounds even more appetizing.

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I also hope this doesn’t make me sound like I’m complaining about this job I have. I love it. I do, but I just need something else right now, especially financially, since we plan to buy a home in the third most expensive city in the country. I’m grateful for my job and my life, I just need a little change of pace right now.

Summer Fruit & Rose Sangria

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CLICK HERE FOR THE PRINTABLE VERSION OF THIS RECIPE!

Serves 4 -6.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Chill time: 1 hour

Ingredients: 

  • 1 bottle dry rose wine
  • 1/2 cup whiskey (I used Makers Mark)
  • 1/4 cup triple sec or raspberry/citron vodka*
  • 2 nectarines, sliced
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 2 cava oranges, sliced
  • 2 – 2 1/2 cups ginger ale
  • 1/3 cup sugar

*I used triple sec, but flavored vodka would also work.

Directions:

  1. Thoroughly wash the fruits completely. You want the nectarines sliced thinly into small wedges and the oranges sliced whole (so you have circles, not wedges). Hull the strawberries and slice.
  2. Place all of the fruit (reserving about 1/4 for garnishes) into a large pitcher. Add the vodka/triple sec and whiskey. Carefully stir in the sugar until it dissolves. Chill for about an hour, stirring the fruit occasionally.
  3. To mix the sangria together, add the bottle of rose and ginger ale, stirring to combine. Mix well and serve immediately.

Nutritional information per serving (1 glass):

Calories: 300
Fat: 0.5 grams
Carbohydrates: 37 grams
Fiber: >1 gram
Protein: 1.3 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 3

Cheesy Baked Spinach Eggs

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Friends, it’s official, I’m hooked on Dawson’s Creek again, for the 4th time in the past 12 years. I want to say it’s because I’m trying to live in a world without cable (we’re finally cutting the cord at the end of the month), but really? The real reason is I’m a sucker for Joey and Pacey.

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That and I can’t get enough of the HORRIBLE 90′s fashions that I once thought were cool. Baggy rugby shirts for females? Bull hair cuts for boys? Or the fitted plaid button ups paired with an oversized corduroy jacket and baggy “mom” butt jeans? There’s even one episode where Jen (who really was stretching it as a 15 year old when she looked 36) was rocking those glittery butterfly clips and “tattooed” choker necklaces. The sad thing is, every time I bought myself those so trendy clips, my brothers would smash them. Chock it up to growing up in a house filled with boys, but I was sure they were just trying to ruin my life and make middle school even more miserable than it was already.

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Horrid fashions aside, I seriously can’t get enough of this ridiculous melodrama. Growing up, my parents never let me watch it due to its “suggestive undertones” so I could only sneak a few episodes here and there when I was sleeping over a friends house or when they left me to babysit my little brothers. They actually came home early once and caught me mid-season 4, and of course, I got grounded. Now I want to laugh because all of the main characters are 10 years older than they are supposed to be playing, so their sexual escapades aren’t exactly an accurate portrayal of the average 15 – 16 year old.

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You better believe as soon as I got to college and reruns of this fantastically terrible show were on TBS, I soaked it all up. And then two years ago when Netflix released all seasons, I binge watched the sh** out of them, much to my poor husbands dismay. And now I’m back at it, having started just a few days ago. My reasons now aren’t accidentally innocent, I’m sort of going through an emotional roller coaster, so the show is purely a distraction to what’s really going on.

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But it’s a good, good distraction. And really, how freakin’ cute is Joshua Jackson and pre-Scientology Katie Holmes?

Cheesy Baked Spinach Eggs

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CLICK HERE FOR THE PRINTABLE VERSION OF THIS RECIPE!

Serves about 4. Inspired by Bon Appetit.
Prep time: <10 minutes
Cook time: About 15 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped leeks
  • 10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 – 3 slices of turkey bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 3/4 – 1 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Salt and pepper

Directions: 

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil. Mix in the garlic, onions and leeks and cook until just softened, about 4 – 6 minutes. Stir in the tomato, lemon juice and spinach. Increase heat to high and cook until spinach is wilted, about 4 minutes.
  2. Move the mixture to another skillet, draining the excess liquid from the spinach and discarding. Mix in the cooked bacon (I used 2 1/2 slices), salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. Make five small indentations into the mixture.
  3. Carefully crack the eggs over the indentations. (Do this so the yolks don’t break and you don’t get any egg shells). Sprinkle the top with mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. Add cracked black pepper.
  4. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Bake the eggs until for about 12 – 15 minutes, or until the egg whites are set (but the yolks are still a little runny) and cheese is melted and bubbly.
  5. Sprinkle the tops with chopped basil and additional salt and pepper. Serve warm with crusty bread or toast.

Nutritional information per serving:

Calories: 300
Fat: 15.5 grams
Carbohydrates: 7.75 grams
Fiber: 6 grams
Protein: 19 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 6

Strawberry Basil Scones

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These amazing strawberry basil scones are the perfect “grab-n-go” breakfast treat and totally beat those drab ones you buy at the coffee shop!

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When it comes to breakfast pastries, a flaky croissant, a glazed danish or a fruity muffin is my go to. I can’t remember the last time I actually ordered a scone or even requested one when I was traveling. I don’t not like them, but there are about 5 other sweets in line that I’d rather gobble up in its place.

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That was all before I had a bite of these.

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These buttery and flaky scones are a total game changer for me. They are the scone that will make me never want to make another kind of breakfast pastry again. I don’t know if it’s because of the strawberries, the basil or the butter, but I could eat these for every single meal of the day and never get sick of them. And I sort of did the day I made these. One for breakfast, one for lunch and definitely one for dinner. I had to make E take the rest to his colleagues at work so I didn’t do the same thing the following day.

Although I do wish I had one to go with my third cup of coffee this morning. Did I mention it’s barely 9am? It’s going to be one of those days.

Strawberry Basil Scones

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CLICK HERE FOR THE PRINTABLE VERSION OF THIS RECIPE!

Yields about 8 – 10 scones. Recipe adapted from Port and Fin.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: About 20 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup raw brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pure clove honey
  • 2 tablespoons strawberry preserves
  • 2/3 – 3/4 cup chopped basil
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped strawberries
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup low-fat milk
  • 1/4 cup light cream
  • Glaze for drizzling (I used this recipe)

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and lightly grease with nonstick cooking spray. In another bowl, toss the strawberries with the brown sugar and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, almond meal and baking powder. Add the butter to the flour mixture and cut it in using a pastry knife until it’s coarse (and resembles sand). Stir in the applesauce, milk, cream, honey, preserves and mix until a soft dough forms. Gently fold in the strawberries and basil and mix just enough to blend (you don’t want the strawberries to bleed or the basil leaves to bruise).
  3. Using a large spoon, scoop out a heaping spoonful of dough. Using your hands, gently roll the dough together (it’ll be a little crumbly still) and drop onto the parchment paper, leaving an inch or so between each scone.
  4. Once all have been scooped, place in the oven and bake for about 20 – 24 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool slightly on the parchment paper and then move to a wire cooling rack.
  5. Once completely cooled, drizzle with glaze and serve with speckles of strawberries.

Nutritional information per scone: 

Calories: 236.5
Fat: 9.7 grams
Carbohydrates: 33.5 grams
Fiber: 1.5 grams
Protein: 4.1 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 6 

Arugula and Balsamic Pizza

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Once upon a time, there was a girl who started a blog because she hated her day job. She was miserable doing work she knew she was over qualified for, miserable in a field she didn’t even care to understand. At this point, she wanted to be a nutritionist so she started writing about health. She’d find stories on dietetics, write her thoughts on them and hit post. The blog at this point was private, a hidden place online where I could write about things that excited her. Things that gave her passion, excitement, a reason to wake up. Finally, after months of writing in this little secret journal, she decided to hit publish on her first live blog post.

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You could probably guess that girl was me.

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The post was titled “Out with the old…In with moderation.” It was this piece on weight loss resolutions. I read it now and cringe at the writing style, of course. The post was written well, I don’t mean that. But there’s no “me” in this piece. There’s not a spec of Claire anywhere in it. The real “claire” didn’t enter any of the posts until my first recipe, complete with a lovely iphone photo accompaniment. A breaded salmon steak with a little salsa. Nothing fancy, of course, but it was my first REAL post as a food blogger. After that, every post had a little more “me,” and instead of trying to put on this “I’m a smarty pants nutrition major” hat, I could just be ME. The crazy girl who can’t seem to lose these last 10 pounds and who loves food more than anything.

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That salmon post was published on July 18, 2010. Now, almost 4 years to the dot, I’m sitting here staring blankly at this blog that has grown into something I could have never imagined, finding myself with little to say. I find myself finding 10,000 reasons not to blog instead of 10,000 reasons why I can’t wait to. In the past four years, I’ve gone through blogging highs (like a cookbook offer) to blogging lows (like going a month without writing). Now, here I am, trying to find a reason to even keep this thing going.

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Some of the reasons for my radio silence include time. I don’t have much of it. I’ve been to 5 countries in 2 months. I’m just tired. Secondly, I’m in the process of a gigantic redesign. A site that will be more lifestyle, more travel focused, less posts about recipes. This is all stuff you guys know. Until that’s ready, I’m not sure how regular my posts will be here. I have 8 recipes to share, so there will be, but I can’t promise they will happen 3 days a week on the dot.

I can promise I’ll be here and I can promise that my new site will be 100% me, happy, sad, excited and ridiculous. And if you can all wait until then and be patient with me while I find that spark, I can promise to make it all worth your time.

Arugula and Balsamic Pizza

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CLICK HERE FOR THE PRINTABLE VERSION OF THIS RECIPE!

Serves about 8 -10.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 pie crust (use my favorite no-fail recipe)
  • 2 – 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 can diced or crushed tomatoes, drained
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 ounces sliced fresh mozzarella
  • 1 large heirloom tomato, sliced
  • 1 cup baby arugula
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil
  • 2 – 4 tablespoons high quality balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

  1. Prepare the crust according to the directions on this post. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out the crust to about 1/4 inch thickness. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F and dust a pizza stone with cornmeal.
  2. To make the sauce, heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the onions and garlic; cook until just softened, about 3 – 4 minutes. Add in the tomatoes, reduce heat to low and let simmer until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Stir in salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. Mix in the chopped basil.
  3. Remove from heat and spread over the pizza crust to liberally coat. Bake for about 6 – 8 minutes. Remove from heat and place the mozzarella over the top of the sauce. Add slices of tomato to the top of the cheese. Bake for about 8 more minutes, or until cheese is melted and crust is golden brown.
  4. Sprinkle the top liberally with arugula. Drizzle the balsamic over the pizza and slice into pieces. Serve immediately with cracked pepper and parmesan cheese.

Nutritional information per slice: 

Calories: 250
Fat: 11 grams
Carbohydrates: 22 grams
Fiber: 5 grams
Protein: 8 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 4

Tofu Masala for #SummerofStirFry

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I’m keeping it short and sweet here folks, because today’s recipe doesn’t need a lot of fluffy words to make it sound good.

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This tofu masala is made with crispy baked tofu bites, sautéed vegetables, super spicy sauce and creamy, buttery saffron rice. It can be made in less than 30 minutes flat and can be doubled, tripled or quadrupled for leftovers all week long. Honestly, I don’t know what else to say. El and I ate the entire batch (meant for 4) in one evening and I proceeded to make the exact same dish for dinner the next night.

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I mean, look at it, wouldn’t you make it two nights in a row too? It’s total comfort food for the soul, especially when you’ve been as crazy, stressed and insane as I’ve been lately. My absolute favorite part about this spicy Indian dish has to be that it’s made in just one pan. That’s one, one giant wok is all you need to recreate this perfect recipe at home.

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I have to thank Circulon, especially, for including me in their Summer of Stir Fry campaign. I’m all about one pot meals, and it makes it so much easier to create them when you have a fantastic product to start with! Plus, thanks to them I am happy to be giving away 1 Circulon Acclaim 12-inch Covered Wok!!

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Good luck! Now go make some tofu.

Tofu Masala

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Serves about 4.
Prep time: <10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients: 

For the rice:

  • 1 package saffron rice
  • 3 tablespoons butter

For the stir-fry:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 package extra-firm tofu pressed and cubed
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 large zucchini chopped
  • 1/2 summer squash chopped
  • 2 carrots sliced
  • 1 cup chopped oyster mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground tumeric
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  •  Salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 can (21 ounces) diced tomatoes(not drained)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  •  Fresh cilantro for garnish

For the directions on how to make this, be sure to check out Circulon’s website!

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