July 19, 2017

Sour Cherry Apple Muffins

I remember sitting down in my great-aunt May's kitchen one Saturday afternoon, some nine or ten years ago. She and her daughter are bakers, and they brought out a plate of their homemade orange blueberry muffins. We fell so in love with them that she wrote down the recipe (originally from AllRecipes), for us to take home (along with more muffins, of course, because they're that gracious).

My mom's kept this recipe in her recipe box (that's right, she has a physical box for recipes!), but given that she doesn't bake or cook very much, it's remained tucked away for all these years. Several times, I've tried looking up "orange blueberry muffin recipe" with no success (turns out, the original is called "Blueberry Oat Muffins").

But during the first weekend this month, my mom's side of the family came to stay with us; blueberry picking happened to be on our itinerary. We came home with several boxes of the largest blueberries we managed to scavenge, too many to eat as is. I offhandedly mentioned how badly I wanted to bake blueberry muffins but didn't have enough time to. When I walked into the kitchen before work one morning, I found blueberry muffins on top of our cake stand on the table. What a sweet surprise from my mom. The subtle hints of orange came through the muffin I ate, and I instantly knew it was the recipe Aunt May had given us!

I remade the recipe the following weekend, but this time, using the sour cherries that my mom picked up from the farm that same weekend. I'm not a big fan of cherries to begin with, but these sour cherries are reminiscent of cranberries - tart and tangy. With my brother's and my favorite muffin being cranberry nut, I decided to sub in sour cherries for blueberries in hopes of making a cranberry-like muffin. We just so happened to run out of orange juice but had more apple juice from the farm (this farm has it all, doesn't it?), so I threw that into the batter as well.

These muffins aren't too sweet but have just enough sugar to contribute to the food science chemistry reactions that yield a perfectly tender crumb. You won't even know that there are oats in them! Whether you use quick-cooking or rolled oats, they'll cook right into the muffins and keep them moist (no health-nut, dense, dry muffins here).

This recipe is loosely adapted from AllRecipes

July 16, 2017

Roasted Cauliflower Fajita Tacos

If you aren't aware, cauliflower has been a popular ingredient over the recent years - cauliflower purees in soups (in place of heavy cream or potatoes), cauliflower buffalo wings, cauliflower steaks, cauliflower rice, even whole roasted cauliflower.

Seems like it's all a bit too much, doesn't it? Well, only if you haven't tried these preparations! And don't think that it's popularity is restricted to the plant-based community, for even Alton Brown can't stop talking about cauliflower's versatility! He loves it so much that he gave it the title of the"best ingredient in 2016" on his podcast. If AB is on board with this trend, I am too, and today, I'm bringing you a taco recipe featuring cauliflower fajitas (note: "fajita" refers to a preparation/serving method, while "tacos" are a category of food on their own! More here, for you food nerds).

I'm unfamiliar with spices outside of Asian and Italian cooking, so what makes this recipe personally successful is that Simply Organic does the hard work for me! I relied solely on their Classic Fajita Simmer Sauce to flavor the vegetables with spices, including three varieties of chilies, cumin, and smoked paprika - all of which are organic.

There's a slight kick of heat from the chilies and depth from the smoked paprika (the heat isn't so strong that this wimp can't handle it, though!). Simply Organic also offers a Southwest Taco Simmer Sauce and a Mild Taco Simmer Sauce, the latter being the best option for those truly hesitant towards spicy foods. I'm so excited that these Simmer Sauces can take me out of my comfort zone in the kitchen. They make for really quick and easy weeknight dinners, too, though you can easily prepare these fajitas in advance for your convenience.

Try this recipe out or use Simply Organic Simmer Sauces to make your own #OrganicMoments. I'm excited to make salmon tacos with the fajita simmer sauce, next! Tag me on Instagram @hannahclaudia, because I'd love to see what you make! You can find the Classic Fajita Simmer Sauce in your local grocery store, or online, here.

This is a sponsored recipe written by me on behalf of Simply Organic. All opinions are 100% my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help make my blog possible!

July 9, 2017

We Saw a Bear || July 4th Hike Up Mt. Tammany

New Jersey, the Garden State - home to deer, the Jersey Shore, outlet malls, Six Flags, good schools, and oh, that's right, bears.

July 2, 2017

Now-Forager's Roasted Strawberry Thyme Shortcakes

The fourth is almost upon us, and that means that many Americans are getting ready for barbecues, picnics, and pool parties. 

Our July 4th celebrations have become less and less traditional over the past few years, but I still enjoy standing in solidarity with the traditional celebrants when I see the amazing pies on Instagram

Food (and increasingly, shopping) dominates nearly all of our holidays, and I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. Developing a culture and heritage centered around food can be beneficial, especially when it encourages people to slow down, take the time to prepare food, and enjoy the company of others. Notwithstanding, the essence of most holidays commonly extend beyond our annual eating rituals, and it's still important to remind ourselves why we celebrate. 

June 28, 2017

Seaside Sunset (Avon by the Sea, NJ)

Historically speaking, I'm not the most spontaneous person you'll meet - I'm a planner. Over the past year, I've learned to set aside spare time to allow for spontaneity, but having a flexible schedule right now makes accommodating for last minute plans even easier!