Big Boxes & Huffington Posts

I thought Tampa was behind on every trend out there, but I was shocked to actually find a company that delivers organic weekly farm boxes! Tampa Bay Organics delivers pretty much everywhere in the Bay area to about as far out in every direction you can think of.
For about $25, it was an awesome selection. You can pick your favorite produce on the website and opt out of getting fruits and veggies you don’t like so they’ll never end up in your box. This one came with a GIANT bunch of chard (seriously, it was like 2 feet long), carrots with tops, oranges, lemon, lime, apples, bananas, garlic, plums, and lettuce.
Also, I’m kind of a big deal on The Huffington Post today… As of this post going up, it had about 950 likes! Go like and share and throw some good vibes my way 🙂

Venice Spice

A couple years ago I went to Venice. Like, the Venice.
I always assumed Venice would be a little corny and very touristy because there’s about as much hype around this city as there is around the Magic Kingdom and – spoiler alert! – MK is not all that. When you finally make it to a place everyone talks about like the greatest place on earth, it always just seems kind of blah, you know? Your expectations are higher than heaven and when you finally see that thing for yourself, it’s usually a lot less sparkly than it was before you actually met that thing in real life.

Not in Venice. I was speechless with my jaw on the floor most of the time I was there. I was stunned at the magical, ancient, mysterious beauty that filled this place, it’s buildings and streets. It was poetic, even. It was one of those times in life you have few words to describe what you’re looking at. I felt bad for wasting adjectives like, “beautiful” on stupid things like nail polish and tea towels. Any words I could conjure to describe it just seemed inadequate.
Anyway, all this to say that I’ve basically found the kitchen’s version of Venice. I can’t believe I’ve ever written positively about any other food than what I’m about to share with you. I know you’re all like, “Erin, have we had enough of the dramatics already?” And my answer would be No! The dramatics are necessary because you need to try these today. I’m like, about to start a fundraiser to spread awareness about them…

Meet my new favorite food group, the Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll.
It doesn’t even look pretty, right? Just a sticky blob of doughy goodness, cinnamon, sugar, and vanilla-creamcheesyness… oh, and warm right out of the oven? I just… I… I can’t. Despite the fact that it took me six packets of yeast before I got one that was active and would rise, and DESPITE THE FACT that all this yeast business made the process take almost 4 hours, I will definitely be making these like every day of my life. Or at least again this weekend.

Here’s a slight variation of Deb’s recipe… I always end up cutting the sugar content in desserts and I got a little butter-happy, so excuse my edits on this 😉 All credit for original recipe to Smitten Kitchen!

******
Dough

6 TBSP unsalted butter + 3 TBSP more melted for brushing on rolled out dough
1/2 cup water, warmed between 100-110* F; 1/4 cup half and half, room temp (didn’t have milk)
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (from 1 .25-ounce or 7 gram envelope yeast)
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out
1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2/3 cups pumpkin puree, canned
1 large egg
Non-stick spray for coating rising bowl

Filling
3/4 cup (packed) light or dark brown sugar
1/8 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Glaze
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons half and half (again, didn’t have any milk)
3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted

Make your dough: Melt your butter in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and set aside to cool down to room temperature.

Combine your warmed water and yeast in a small bowl with a dab of honey and set aside. After five to seven minutes, it should be a bit foamy. If it’s not, you probably have some annoyingly finicky yeast and should start again with a newer packet. <– sixth time’s a charm! 

In the bottom of the bowl of an electric or hand mixer, combine flour, sugars, salt and spices. Stir lightly to combine. Add your melted butter and stir to combine. Add yeast-water mixture, pumpkin and egg and mix til combined. Switch out your hand mixer blades to the hook-looking ones (if you can’t find those, it’s no big deal – just use what you have) and run it for 5 minutes on low. It was here that I saw my dough was too dry and where I started drizzling in the 1/4 cup or so of remaning half and half to moisten it. The dough should be sticky and kind of wet feeling… do not want too many flour bits floating around in there.

Scrape mixture into a large oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside for 1 hour in a draft-free place until it rises to twice its size.

While it is rising, butter/spray with non-stick spray the bottom of two 8-inch square pans (any size works – I only had one so I stuck the rest of the buns in a pan way over-sized and they tasted identically delicious).

Assemble buns: Drop dough onto a very large, well floured surface and flour the top of it well. With a rolling pin, roll the dough to an approximately 16×11-inch rectangle. Brush reserved melted butter over dough. Stir together filling ingredients and sprinkle mixture evenly over dough. Press it down so it sticks to the dough just enough. Starting on a longer side, roll the dough into a tight spiral. If some of the filling stuff spills out a little, it’s no biggy and won’t affect the taste.

Per SK: “Here’s how to cut cinnamon rolls without squishing their pretty spirals: With a sharp serrated knife, using absolutely no pressure whatsoever (only the weight of the blade should land on the dough) gently saw your log with a back-forth motion into approximately 1-inch sections.” <– love this tip!

Divide buns between two prepared pans. You can sprinkle any sugar that fell off onto the counter over them. Cover each pan with plastic wrap and let rise for another 45 minutes.

15 minutes before you’re ready to bake them, heat the oven to 350°F. Meanwhile, make the glaze. Beat your cream cheese until it is light and fluffy. Add in powdered sugar (and mix while giant white clouds of it puff all over your hair, face, and kitchen – yay cooking!). Drizzle in milk until you get the consistency you’re looking for.

Finish your buns: Remove the plastic and bake buns for 18 minutes (the original recipe said 25 minutes but my oven would have turned them in to hockey pucks if I let them go that long; I stuck with 18 mins and they cooked to perfection), until puffed and golden.

I dug them right out of the pan and ate them like I was forced to at gun point.

Thai Breaker

Let’s go for a drive! Destination: irrelevant!

That was our big plan for last night and ended up at Super Target to pick up some groceries – glamorous, I know. We couldn’t decide between Indian and Thai for dinner, and with the flip of a coin, it was Thai.
This morning we went to the Ybor market and picked up produce
and rosemary bread which makes my day!
We may have a little bread tonight, but we’re going heavy on the veggies since I ate 2.5 donuts from Nicola’s Donuts yesterday. YES!!! 2.5!!! And those things are monstrous. I feel like I need to go to confession or something… and the gym.
I’m not even a big donut fan in general, but these are like, designer donuts and they’re fantastic.
I wanna know how many calories/sugars that equaled out to, but maybe it’s best I don’t? Actually, I’m sure it’s best I don’t.

Adios!

Republicane 2012

It’s that time of year…
Looks like we’re prepping for a hurricane this week! It’s supposed to be in town by later tonight and stay through tomorrow evening. So we prepped by getting tons of water and some canned soup in case we lose power for any extended period of time – let’s hope that does NOT happen!

A similar catastrophe will be rolling through Tampa Bay later this week, as I’m sure you’ve heard…
Kidding! For the record, I’m completely impartial to either side in politics, but I’ll be teaching yoga at the convention for anyone who needs a bit of a break from all the commotion 🙂 My high school self would feel so betrayed right now! I’m actually really looking forward to it! Seems like an awesome experience and something pretty “big” to be a part of. No complaints here!

Some random recent things:
We ate a really, really great tasting meal at #9 Bangkok in St. Pete the other night. We were pleasantly surprised to find the ultra shady storefront was actually the home to a pretty fantastic menu! We got the veggie spring rolls and chicken/veggie pad thai. Definitely a repeat… especially since two appetizers, two main courses, and two pots of tea only cost us $25! Cant beat that, AMIRIGHT?!
And courtesy of my girl Heidi, we also discovered the Eco-Bean in Tarpon Springs. I live in a land where the only coffee shop open to sit in is a Starbucks. Good but not great. The Eco-Bean has amazingly tasty coffee, a zillion natural options for sweetener (see those bottles?!), and different milk options for the health-conscious coffee drinker: organic whole/skim, rice, almond, and soy milk. My kind of cafe!
We got a regular organic latte with one pump of vanilla, and an almond milk cappuccino with a bit of hazelnut – outta this world. 
I stumbled across The Gentle Barn the other day and seriously fell in love. They rescue animals who were either set to be killed for meat in horrendous, inhumane conditions, or from abusive households, and even animal hoarding situations. They take them in and provide them with medical care, healthy food, fresh air, and plenty of love. I sponsored an animal and liked them on Facebook and you should do the same. 🙂 Every “like,” “share,” and dollar count! I wish I lived in California so I could volunteer – one of the open positions is a “Cow Hugger.” I was like OMG, I think I found my calling!!!
That’s all! We’re sitting in the calm before the storm and I’m feelin’ productive – laundry, I’m looking at you.

Le Toast

My wisdom teeth are gone and my appetite is back with a fury! Well, maybe it isn’t furious, but it’s basically what it was 5 days ago 😉

And thanks for all the well-wishes! It went soo super easy and I hardly felt anything in terms of pain. I slept all day on The Day, and rested the following morning, but was back to most of my regular routine after that. Basically, I mentally drew out a big dramatic story of how it would go and none of it came true.

So, today called for Toasted Almond French Toast, prepared by zee Frenchman of the house. I wish I had a recipe, too, but I think he sort of invented it on the fly. I’m not sure what he did, exactly, but I know it was baked in the oven which left the middle soft and chewy while the outside was crusty & crunchy.

Just sweet enough.
Here’s something weird: I only had 2 mini pieces! I ate so well these past few days and kind of feel amazing, so I’m all like, “Let’s try to keep that up!” I was the stereotypical Yogi while my mouth healed and ate a mostly vegan diet by default because those foods are the softest to chew. So, lots of green smoothies, fruits, veggies, soups, and applesauce. I even made it to the gym for some weights yesterday so I’m feeling very… svelte!

Lastly, I’ll leave you with this picture, which for whatever reason, made me laugh like a maniac when I was half comatose:

Peaches & Beaches

What a perfect day for going to the beach!! I actually wanted to rent a kayak or paddleboard to do some exploring, but once Adrien and I ran into a SHARK while swimming, we were pretty much adventured out. It was a baby shark that had no interest in us, but still!!
We probably talked about how awesome it is to have this basically in our back yard the entire drive home. The older I get the more I appreciate living in Florida, despite it’s terribly scorching hot summers.
The only inconvenient thing about the beach is the absolutely STUPID amount of sand that you will inevitably bring home with you. It’s in your shoes, the cooler you brought from home (also, in the sandwich you brought from home… somehow!), your bathing suit and every crevice on your body, of course it’s all over the car, and you may never be able to fully shake out your beach bag. Like, ever again. But it’s totally worth it. 🙂

Speaking of beach food, here’s what I packed:
4 hard boiled eggs
100 calorie packs of cinnamon roasted almonds (no sugar!)
a nectarine
a banana
a green bar for him, and a hungry bar (you’ve gotta try these – amazing!) for her
Plus a giant container of water

Perfect amount for a few hours in the sun and sand.
Back at the casa, we’ve finished dinner and now I’m chowing down on a childhood dessert — orange sherbet with chocolate chips! Only tonight, it’s the more refined version of real fruit mango sorbet by Ciao Bella with, well… chocolate chips. 🙂 I mostly got the sorbet because what reasonable person eats chocolate chips right out of the bag? Not I!

And in case we don’t eat or talk enough about food in this house, it’s teatime. So goodnight! 🙂

The Best Thing

Just before I run out the door for a little gym time, here was breakfast! Stovetop banana oats with cinnamon and vanilla extract. Don’t they look extra puffy and fluffy today? Because they were! It was almost like they had marshmallow fluff inside… much to my disappointment, they did not 😉

What you need:
1/4 c rolled oats
1/4 c milk
1/4 c water
1 banana, sliced
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
tiny dash of cinnamon

Combine oats and liquid and cook over medium low heat until it bubbles. Mix vigorously until it thickens. Add extras once it’s off the stovetop.
Dinner was more vegetables with feta and hummus. No fluff over here, but lots of savory awesomeness. These totally hit the spot!
But before I ate that for the 3rd time this week (it’s my new favorite meal!), I snacked on the ripest, sweetest, juiciest nectarine I’ve ever had. No joke! I was aiming for a healthy snack, but ate it so fast I think it was gone in a single inhale. Deee-lish — I have three more I’m tempted to eat today!
What’s the best thing about today? You know, besides the fact that it’s Saturday. 😉