Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

October is upon us and it’s the perfect time for all things pumpkin! Sometimes, here in the states, we take the pumpkin obsession completely overboard, but I still love it. Who am I kidding? I’m the embodiment of the pumpkin-obsessed-white girl! I don’t even care.

A few weeks ago I asked my mom to send me her best pumpkin muffin recipes, because I had some pureed pumpkin in the freezer, and I just couldn’t take it anymore! I needed pumpkin muffins. She sent me two recipes from some of the best cookbooks out there. She has had these for years, and they’re tried and true!

The American Country Inn and Bed & Breakfast Cookbook Vol 1 (Click to view on Amazon)
The American Country Inn and Bed & Breakfast Cookbook Vol 2 (Click to view on Amazon)

I slightly adapted one of the pumpkin muffin recipes by adding cream cheese in the center. Best decision of the week. I decided these are one of the best pumpkin muffins I’ve ever had. Yes, I’m proud of them! Ha!

pumpkin-cream-cheese-muffins-4-emeliabird-2016

pumpkin-cream-cheese-muffins-emeliabird-2016save-recipe-04

Small Batch Pesto!

This summer my love affair with basil has reached new heights! There are oh so many ways to use it but my favorite, by far is pesto! I grew basil from seed for my little balcony garden this summer. It’s only now getting hearty and full, so I’m grateful that the growing season in California is much longer than most places. I use my home grown basil here and there, but I’ve found basil at our local farmers market to be exceptional! Just $3 for a very large bunch and all my basil desires are satisfied.

Pesto is typically made with pine nuts, which are among the pricier nuts, but I’ve found using walnuts gives you the same texture and nutty flavor without breaking the bank. Not only can you use this herby, garlicky goodness as a kind of sauce for pasta, but I love to put it on pizza, mix it in with my scrambled eggs, spread it on burgers, and baked chicken, or even add a little oil and vinegar for salad dressing.

pesto-pasta-emeliabird-2016

In this dish I cooked brown rice pasta, topped with pesto, a poached egg, chopped fresh basil, salt, pepper & parmesan cheese. Yum!!

basil-pesto-emeliabird-2016

save-recipe-04

New York {travel blog}

First let me just say that keeping up with a blog is no joke! It’s a serious commitment, like caring for children, or walking your dog. Okay, not really, but it does take time and dedication.

I recently made a visit back home to New York. Before moving to California, I lived in New York for ten years, both in Long Island and New York City, going to college, commuting on the railroad and experiencing the good, bad and ugly of all of it. But, one thing I absolutely love about New York is the great food everywhere you go. Here are some of the great places I went during my visit. Take some notes and try them the next time you’re in town!

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria 980 Franklin Ave Garden City, NY 

My first Grimaldi’s experience was with my college photography teacher. We were on a class photoshoot in Brooklyn and afterward he took us a group of us to Grimaldi’s. My life was never the same! The pizza crust is thin and the toppings are delicious no matter what you choose. Unfortunately the infamous location under the Brooklyn Bridge has closed, but there are a few more locations around the New York area! This is a must try for authentic New York style pizza! [www.grimaldispizzeria.com]

Grimaldis Pizzeria ©Emeliabird 2016
Eggplant Delight Pizza

Bingbox Snowcream 125 2nd Ave, New York, NY

Welcome to the wonderful world of Korean desserts. I can’t even begin to describe how unique and amazing this was, so you’ll have to just try it. Snow cream … imagine shaved ice so light, dry and fluffy, it looks like glitter and tastes like heaven, but then melts in your mouth like ice cream. Yes, it’s that good, with a wide variety of flavors and toppings, this is by far the coolest dessert I’ve ever had! [www.bingboxsnowcream.com]

Bingbox Snow Cream ©Emeliabird 2016
Matcha (Green Tea) Bingbox with Strawberries, condensed milk drizzle & Mochi AND Taro Bingbox with Mochi, condensed milk drizzle & Nilla Wafers.

Oaxaca Taqueria 250 4th Ave, Brooklyn, NY

O.M.G. Tacos. This place is the closest to authentic mexican tacos I’ve had in the states. They have a large menu, but the tacos are to die for! If you get the three-taco special, it’s served with rice & beans, and they’ll give you chips, guacamole and salsa. I LOVED this place, and there are 14 locations around New York, so there’s no excuse not to try it! [www.oaxacatacos.com]

Oaxaco Taco 1 ©Emeliabird 2016
Horchata (drink), Carnitas Taco (Braised Pork), Pollo Guisado (Chicken), Camaron (Spicy Shrimp)

Someday I’ll post my top ten must-have eateries in New York, but for now, I’ll leave you with these three unique finds, in hopes that you’ll get to try them too, if you haven’t already!

 

{Dinner for One} Coconut Curry!

Coconut Curry © Emeliabird 2016

Curry is one of my most favorite meals ever and so easy to make! Somehow this year I found myself stuck in multiple heated discussions over curry superiority (between thai and indian). Sorry thai lovers, but I do love indian curry. When I go to thai restaurants, I always have yellow curry, which most resembles indian curry.

I’m writing this as Dinner for One recipe, but I’m certain that unless you are very very very hungry, this should serve two people, or make wonderful leftovers. So, get yourself a date or freeze half for another time! All the vegetables in this can be swapped out for the veggies of your choice. Some other favorites of mine are bell peppers (red, green orange or yellow), eggplant or broccoli. Most of the time I use spinach instead of kale, but I had it on hand and actually preferred the flavor over spinach! And I’ll just leave this here …

Over the last few years it has indeed become a comfort food in my family. It’s a wonderful meal in the heat of summer, with a glass of iced tea, or in the winter. There’s nothing quite like snuggling up in a blanket with a hot bowl of curry, Mmm!

Coconut Curry © Emeliabird 2016

Save Recipe-04

Smoothie Bowls!

This summer my eyes have been opened to the wonder and tasty amazingness of frozen smoothie bowls! O.M.G. Favorite. Inspired by the brazilian açaí bowl, but more versatile, with oh, so many options! Endless options! These have quickly become my go-to breakfast (following very closely behind my love affair with eggs, oatmeal and every other breakfast food under the sun. Ha!). You can also have this as a healthier dessert option, or a lunch, or a snack, or for no reason at all, other than just wanting a tasty treat. What? I’m hungry!

I usually use any fruit I happen to find on sale, fresh or frozen. I recently bought a massive papaya on sale, chopped it up and froze it in a ziplock bag because the price was too good to pass up! You can do this with any fruit, just be sure to cut it into small pieces before freezing! Once your fruit is frozen, just pop some of the cut up pieces into your blender or processor with the other ingredients of your choice (see the recipe below)!

As toppings go, I always get almond butter and honey from Trader Joes. It’s my favorite. For dried toppings, bulk! bulk! bulk! I get everything in bulk, and it is the greatest, ever. If you don’t have a Winco foods store or a store with bulk foods, let’s just bow our heads for a moment of silence ……. I buy everything I possibly can in bulk and pay a fraction of the price of packaged goods, even with salt, spices, flour, oats, pasta, but especially in the area of dried fruit and nuts. I mean, do you ever have a heart attack looking at the prices down the baking aisle? It’s like you need to make six figures and own a yacht to afford a bag of pecans these days! (Cue dreams of owning a farm with rows of pecan trees …).

The moral of the story is, start making smoothie bowls! They’re easy to make, fun, colorful, fresh, and delightful, and you don’t have to drink them through a straw! What could be better?

Smoothie Bowl ©Emeliabird 2016-02

Save Recipe-04

{Dinner for One} Tomato Basil Pasta

The biggest challenge of living on my own has been cooking for one. Ah, the single life! This year has been a journey of trial and error in the kitchen, with developing staple recipes for just one person without having an abundance of leftovers (somehow leftovers are so much better when you’re not the only one eating them). I can’t tell you how many times I came home and defaulted to scrambled eggs for dinner! After doing some research, and not finding much by way of “cooking for one” recipes online, I developed a few staples that make the perfect single serving dinner! First up, Tomato Basil Pasta! I love to use brown rice pasta as an alternative to wheat pasta. This recipe is super simple, quick and tasty! If you want to make this dish for multiple people, simply multiply the ingredients by the number of people you plan to serve and follow the directions as listed!

Tomato Basil Pasta ©Emeliabird 2016

Tomato Basil Pasta-©Emeliabird 2016

Save Recipe-04

 

Weekend Blog: The Little Things

I am in love with this season of slow, leisurely summer weekends. Where there is rarely a strict commitment and I have the freedom to drink regular coffee after 7pm, sleep in on Saturday, eat carbs and binge watch Netflix (don’t judge, you know you’ve done it too!). My weekends haven’t always been this free and easy, so while it lasts I am thoroughly enjoying myself!

On Saturday morning, a dear friend and I decided to go to the Farmers Market, which takes place every Saturday. Local vendors sell a variety of things, from homemade bread, local honey, coffee, waffles, cold pressed juices and best of all, fresh, organic produce from local farms. I was able to come away with a wonderful haul of yellow peaches, green beans, thai basil,  yellow watermelon and cherry tomatoes! Yum!

Following our Farmers Market outing, we ventured to the public library. And what began as a simple endeavor to get library cards, turned into an all-out used book buying frenzy! Unbeknownst to me, there is a used book sale held every other first Saturday of the month, where all books are 50 cents, and children’s books are 5 for $1! My little book loving heart was on the verge of bursting as we combed through hundreds of books in search of treasures. My love of books and reading no doubt comes from my mom, who has been known to collect books new and old. The utter joy of finding an old classic or an intriguing story is matched only by the enjoyment of reading it, to find that most of the time the story is even better than it first appeared to be. And so the love of books continues! She has taught me that the best books are most often hidden (always beneath some sad looking book about blood sugar diets, hors d’overs made from canned food or chia pet care from the 1970’s), just waiting to be discovered by a true book lover. My favorites are the ones with a name in the cover or a hand written note in script that say something like “To Mary, from Father, with love. Christmas 1932”. So, after an hour or so of searching and unearthing, I was lugging two armfuls of books, which, to my delight, totaled only $5! Cue the hallelujah chorus!

Much was accomplished before noon on Saturday, and it struck me that each thing I found that brought me so much joy was so very small and insignificant in the big picture of life. I have often been surrounded by people who don’t appreciate the joy that can be found in the small, simple things, like a sweet juicy peach, a bunch of fresh basil, or beautiful old books for a few cents a piece. Yet, they are the things that bring me joy each time I encounter them.

I will leave you with a recipe for Banana Bread that I tested from an old  Fannie Farmer cookbook that was found hidden amongst all kinds of nonsense books at Goodwill! And I hope you will get to enjoy many future weekends as delightful as this weekend was for me!

Fresh Table ©Emeliabird 2016

Banana Bread-02

Save Recipe-04