independence day

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It’s almost the end of July and here I am, posting about our July 4th weekend. We’ve been quite busy the past couple of months. I honestly haven’t had the time to think about the blog. As many of our friends and family already know, boyfriend and I purchased a house! YAY! [applaud] The next question that everyone asks is, “Are you guys moved in yet?” And our answer is still no. We wanted to fix up the house here and there before moving in. It turns out that there’s a lot more work that needs to be done than we originally hoped. (I hear that’s what happens to all homeowners..) It’s still a work in progress and we don’t expect to move in until the end of summer. We’re super excited to see the house after renovations are done. I snapped some before-reno pictures so once it’s done, I’ll reveal the before-and-after pictures!

Over the July 4th weekend, we took a trip to visit my sister in Pittsburgh. And just to make our trip more interesting, we brought Mochi along for the ride. He was surprisingly well-behaved on this trip. We were a bit worried about bringing him at first since it’s a 6+ hour car ride and he tends to run around like a mad dog everywhere. But in the end, Mochi turned out to be more well-behaved without a leash, my sister got to get in her Mochi-time, and my dad became friends with Mochi. (Everyone always ends up taking a liking to Mochi.)

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^^ The Monongahela Incline up to Mount Washington. Since we brought Mochi along, we had to do more outdoor activity. Luckily, Pittsburgh weather was being cooperative and gave us plenty of sunshine for the weekend.

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^^ There was a sign that said pets were only allowed if they were put in their designated bags that a person can carry with one hand. So, my sister’s Tri-Delta tote became Mochi’s makeshift “designated” bag.

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^^ It’s not easy trying to get Mochi to look at the camera for a picture..

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^^ We’re all so busy with our own schedules and are living far away from each other. It was nice spending some family time together (:

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My sister took us around the campus of her alma mater, which was quite beautiful. A part of me felt like I missed out on a real college life. (Not that I didn’t go to a real college, but it just wasn’t what I had imagined when I thought of a college.) But I’m glad my sister got to enjoy her undergrad life on such beautiful campus grounds.

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^^ Mochi clearly loved the campus grounds, too. We took his leash off and let him roam around. He was surprisingly so well-behaved without the leash! So proud of my little baby.

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^^ He really likes that baseball.

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^^ SUPER happy. And thirsty. He surely enjoyed his independence that day.

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Not too bad, Pittsburgh. Not too bad.. Until next time!

blueberry wheat germ muffins

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I had a whole container of wheat germ left over from a few months ago when my sister was here. She bought it to make Mochi some dog treats. (Yeah, my dog eats healthier than I do apparently.) Wheat germ is all sorts of healthy for you (and dogs) so I was trying to figure out how to incorporate this into something I can make. And that’s where Pinterest comes in. I am totally hooked on Pinterest, if you couldn’t tell.

I had some leftover blueberries and plain yogurt, along with the wheat germ, so I decided to make some blueberry wheat germ muffins. I looked through a few different recipes, but I didn’t have all of the ingredients the recipes called for. I wish I had some whole wheat flour in my house. It would’ve been a tad healthier. I used all-purpose flour, but if you have whole wheat flour or white whole wheat flour (yes, that exists) handy in your house, feel free to substitute it for the all-purpose flour.

blueberry wheat germ muffins

BLUEBERRY WHEAT GERM MUFFINS – adapted from citronlimette

(makes a dozen muffins)

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (can substitute with whole wheat flour)
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup plain yogurt, fat free
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil (can also use olive oil or vegetable oil)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • Instructions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
    2. In a mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients – flour, wheat germ, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
    3. In another bowl, combine the wet ingredients – egg, yogurt, oil, and vanilla.
    4. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture. Stir to combine. Gently fold in the blueberries. (You don’t want to mix in the blueberries to aggressively or else they’ll burst in the mixture, creating blue streaks.)
    5. Divide the batter evenly and spoon it into the prepared muffin tin. (I used a 1/4 cup to begin with and added in more afterwards.)
    6. Bake for about 20-22 minutes, until they become golden brown. To check if they’re done baking, you can test it by poking a toothpick (or a chopstick, in my case) through the center of the muffin. The toothpick should come out clean if it’s done.
    7. Cool on a wire rack.

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    ^^After folding in the blueberries. Doesn’t it look like cookie dough?

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    ^^They’re ready to go into the oven!

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    ^^I love turning the oven light on and watching them bake. Am I the only one?

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    ^^I didn’t have a cooling rack so I made a makeshift one.

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    ^^These turned out so great. They were perfectly airy, crunchy and chewy on top.. and the burst of blueberries were delightful!

    pb&j meets french toast

    pb&j french toast

    Whoever thought of putting peanut butter and jelly in one sandwich was a genius. I really disliked it back when I was in elementary school. Then again, who enjoys eating public school food? But every now and then, I crave some good old PB&J sandwiches. I was on Pinterest (yet again) and saw a picture of peanut butter jelly sandwich that was french-toasted. Yes, that’s right, I just made that into a verb. And it led me to a site called Undressed Skeleton. If you have a minute or two, go read her weight-loss story. It’s quite inspirational. It almost made me want to go out and run my fat off. But with the cold and all the snow outside, I just decided to go to the kitchen and make myself this awesome PB&J french toast instead.

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    ^^It starts out with a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I had some leftover pumpkin + black sesame bread from a Korean bakery, but any thick cut of bread will do. I prefer chunky peanut butter for the crunch, but you can use the creamy one if you prefer.

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    ^^Undressed Skeleton used just one egg to coat the bread, but I added in some 2% milk and a pinch of salt to the egg. You can also add in a little ground cinnamon and vanilla extract. (I just left it out since I was using pumpkin + black sesame bread and wasn’t sure how that would work.) Let it soak on each side for about 15 seconds or so. I let it sit on a rack for a few seconds afterwards to let the excess liquid fall off.

    Now, add about 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter onto a skillet. (A little tip my sister gave me was to drizzle a little bit of oil to the pan along with the butter so it browns perfectly without burning. Thanks, sis!)

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    ^^On medium heat, cook the bread until it’s nice and golden brown on each side. I love how the edges get crispy and the inside is nice fluffy! (Remember to heat up the sides of the sandwich, too! I let it sit on its side for a few seconds before fully flipping it over.)

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    ^^Transfer it onto a plate and eat it while it’s warm! That’s right, you just jazzed up your plain old PB&J sandwich. PEANUT BUTTER JELLY TIME! (Family Guy, anyone?)

    lemon ricotta pancakes + blueberry sauce

    lemon ricotta pancakes with blueberry sauce!

    I know. I’ve been on an extremely long hiatus from my blog. My 2013 was full of ups and downs. You know those days when you’re so busy that it feels like time just flew by.. and yet, you feel as if you didn’t get much done? Yeah, that’s how my entire year of 2013 felt.

    So, what brings me back to my blog after so many months? One word: PANCAKES.

    Yes. A few weeks ago, I had this sudden urge to make pancakes. Ever since I started dating the boyfriend, I’ve been shying away from sweet breakfast plates and craving more savory dishes. But then, one weekend, we went to brunch at Cafe Luluc in Brooklyn. And I think that’s where my pancake cravings started up again from. I like to go on Yelp when we go to new restaurants to see what other reviewers recommend. Usually there’s a few different dishes people rave about, but for Cafe Luluc, all I saw was “PANCAKES, PANCAKES, PANCAKES” everywhere. We didn’t understand why everyone was so crazy about their pancakes.. until we took a bite. Oh, it was so heavenly. And I’m sure it’s nowhere near being healthy. (There’s probably a ridiculous amount of butter in there somewhere.) But if you’re in the neighborhood for brunch, it is a must-try. Okay, I’m starting to digress. Pancakes. Right.

    So, one night, I’m in bed trying to fall asleep and all I could think about were those damn pancakes! I went on Pinterest (a very bad idea when I need to go to sleep) and started looking for some fluffy pancake recipes. I tried a few recipes out over the next week or two. They turned out alright. (Apparently, there’s a whole science behind making the perfect pancakes but I won’t bore you with that.)

    Until I came across this recipe from Damn Delicious and I just had to try it out. I used part-skim ricotta cheese, instead of the whole milk one. I also added some poppy seeds to my mixture. If you don’t like poppy seeds, you can leave that out.

    If you love the idea of lemons and blueberries with your pancakes, you’re gonna love these! This is officially my go-to recipe for those days when I crave pancakes.

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    Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce – adapted from Damn Delicious

    (makes about 4 servings)

    For the pancakes:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil (I used EVOO and it didn’t make a difference)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3 lemons will do the job)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds (more or less to your liking)
  • For the blueberry sauce:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch (or 3 teaspoons all-purpose flour)
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • Start with the dry ingredients. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a big bowl. I used a sifter but I’m sure it’s not necessary. I added in the poppy seeds after. I guess I should technically title the post as Lemon Poppy Seed Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce.. but it’s too long of a name.

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    ^^Then start squeezing those lemons into a separate small bowl. I didn’t have a lemon squeezer so I just used a spoon and took out the seeds from the juice later. I also reserved the amount of lemon juice I needed for the sauce later on the side so I won’t have to squeeze more lemons.

    Combine and mix the ricotta, oil, eggs, lemon juice, and lemon zest. It might look a bit gross..
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    Now, add the wet mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients. BE CAREFUL NOT TO OVER-MIX! This is the key to making fluffy pancakes! It’s okay if you still see little clumps of flour.

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    ^^Ladle about 1/3 cup of the pancake batter on a preheated, greased skillet. I think medium to medium-low heat is optimal for making pancakes. The batter is a tad thicker than the usual buttermilk pancake batters, so you’ll have to work it into a round shape when you put it on the skillet. Cook for about 2 minutes (check to see if it’s turning golden brown) and flip it over and cook for another 2 minutes on the other side. Oh, and try not to smack the pancake down too hard when you flip it over or it’ll flatten out.

    *HELPFUL TIP: Preheat the oven to 200°F while you’re making the pancakes. Keep your finished pancakes in the low-heat oven while you make your next set of pancakes so no one has to eat them cold.

    For the blueberry sauce, put your blueberries, sugar, and water in a medium saucepan. (The recipe said to make the blueberry sauce first but I did it last since I take longer to make the actual pancakes and this sauce only takes 5 minutes to make.)
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    Combine the lemon juice and cornstarch. Then add the mixture into the saucepan. If you don’t have cornstarch or you can’t find it (like me), you can use all-purpose flour instead. 1 tablespoon cornstarch = 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour.

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    ^^Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and let it simmer. The sauce should start to thicken.

    Now, stack the pancakes on a plate, put a heaping scoop of the blueberry sauce on top, and dive in for some lemony fluffy goodness!
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    Enjoy the recipe! Let me know how your pancakes turned out and if you think you have a better pancake recipe than this. (Yes, that is a challenge.)