Category Archives: Food for Thought

Recipe: Healthier Corn Muffins

I was in a definite “baking” mood today.  At Sean’s request, I decided to give homemade corn muffins a try.  I had one problem: we were out of milk & the milk we tried to buy at Shaw’s LITERALLY had YESTERDAY as a “sell by” date.  Each bottle.  This caused me to get creative & try to find a recipe that didn’t require milk.

I actually found a “healthier” recipe that called for fat-free yogurt – which I DO have – instead of milk.  Sounded interesting.  I gave it a try & (if I do say so myself) think the muffins came out well.  They were really easy to make – here’s what you need to make them:


  • 1 c. flour
  • 1 c. cornmeal
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. fat free vanilla yogurt
  • 2 eggs


  1. Pre-heat the over to 350 degrees
  2. Mix the flour, corn meal, sugar & salt in medium to large bowl
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the baking soda & yogurt
  4. Add the yogurt into the dry ingredients
  5. Beat the eggs and mix in with the other ingredients
  6. Grease muffin tins & add mixed ingredients into the tins
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 18 – 20 minutes or until the muffins are light golden brown; to test to see if they’re done, insert a butter knife into the center of a muffin.  If, once removed, the knife is clean, the muffins are done.

Yields: 10 muffins

Calories per muffin: 150


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Newest Obsession: The “Parfait” Parfait

A recent Skinny & The City newsletter discussed what to eat after going to the gym.  It made a good point: you don’t want to undo all that hard work by eating the wrong things after going to the gym.  We of course all know this (in theory), but don’t always adhere to best practices.  Or maybe its just me? Before moving in with my boyfriend I went to the gym in the morning 3-4 times/week.  Now because of where we live, even though we technically live closer to the gym, it’s easier for me to go after work instead of at 6am.  Aaaand now I go twice a week.  In a good week.  This means if I go at night, I’m not snacking after the gym, I’m eating dinner.

I think I’m lucky in not being someone who’s really hungry after I go to the gym.  Maybe it’s all the water I drink.  By the time I get home I often don’t want to eat a big meal.  Good to know tip: It’s been said moderate exercise can help suppress one’s appetite.

My favorite after-gym (or weekend breakfast) meal is a fruit & yogurt parfait.  After trying a few different varieties of yogurt, fruit & granola, I like to think I have this down to a science.  A delicious science.

You need to try this, it’s easy.  Here’s how you do it:

Fresh strawberries & blueberries

1. Fresh fruit.  I prefer strawberries & blueberries.  I use 1/3 cup (roughly) of strawberries & 1/4 cup (roughly) of blueberries.

Calories in the strawberries: 15

Calories in blueberries: 20 Continue reading

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My Take on Layered Peanut Butter Bars

I found what looked like a great recipe for peanut butter bars on & decided to give them a try. I switched out a few ingredients for a few “healthier” ingredients & started baking.  I was pleased with the results and the bars seemed to be a hit!  These are REALLY easy to make.  Really, really easy.  The only daunting part is waiting for them to cool.  Below is my altered recipe.  I encourage you to give them a try!

Cookie Base

1    pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® peanut butter cookie mix

3    tablespoons apple sauce

1    tablespoon water

1    egg


1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup low-fat creamy peanut butter

1 3/4  cups powdered sugar

1/4    flour

2      teaspoons milk


1      cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup butter


1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom of 13×9-inch pan with cooking spray.

2. In large bowl, stir all Cookie Base ingredients until soft dough forms. Press dough in bottom of pan using floured fingers. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

3. In small bowl, beat all Filling ingredients with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Spread mixture evenly over cookie base.

4. In microwavable bowl, microwave all Frosting ingredients on High 30 seconds; stir until smooth. Cool 10 minutes; spread over filling. Refrigerate at LEAST an hour.  They’re technically “done” after roughly 30 minutes, but we found the bars became better & better the longer you waited. For bars, cut into 9 rows by 6 rows.

The original recipe called for vegetable oil instead of apple sauce in the cookie base, regular peanut butter instead of low-fat peanut butter in the filling & more powdered sugar instead of flour in the filling.

From reading the comments, people who tried the original version thought the bars were too sweet – which is what prompted my switching some of the powdered sugar for flour.

I wanted to make the bars but didn’t want as many calories as the original recipe (180 calories per 1oz – which is about 2 pieces).  This prompted the decision to use apple sauce instead of vegetable oil & low-fat peanut butter instead of regular peanut butter.  Based on the nutrition labels from the brands I used, this saved about 50 CALORIES PER SERVING (roughly 2 pieces).  130 is still high, but not as bad.  The switch of course also lowered the fat contents.

Tip: these are rich – I originally made them thinking they would be more like “bars,” as the original recipe states, but they were too rich (in the opinion of those who ate them) to eat as a bar; hense the small portions.  When making & eating these, expect them to have more of the affect of fugde than a dessert bar: rich & delicious, but satisfy you in a small portion. :)


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We’re Hosting a Holiday Cookie Swap

My inbox is flooded with newsletters from different publications every day. Food & Wine, Good Housekeeping, Fitness…the list goes on.  98% of these get deleted before ever being opened.  Often times they get deleted because I don’t have enough time to read them & feel they’re not as relevant readying them days later – although it is true much of their content isn’t really time-sensitive.  The ones sure to be read are the ones with something specific in the subject line that catches my eye.

That’s exactly what happened this week with one of Good Housekeeping‘s newsletters: Host Your Own Holiday Cookie Swap.  For some reason this immediately spoke to me.  I’ve never hosted or even attended a Holiday Cookie Swap – but it seems relatively obvious what it entails right from the title.  They had great ideas

Immediately I wanted to host one.  Next step: figure out who else is on board. Result: hosting a Holiday Dessert Swap (we expanded it) with my friend Katie next Sunday.  This way, we’ll all have a variety of desserts to share over the holidays.  Genius.

I did a little more digging, and & (no surprise) not only does have great swapping ideas, but so does (my friend Meredith actually came up with that idea) &

I thought it would also be fun to have a variety of holiday-themed drinks, as well, & found these great recipes on

Anyone hosted before?  Or been an attendee?  I can’t wait to see what people make. :)

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Boston’s Piattini Wine Cafe

Piattini Wine Cafe

Piattini is one of Sean & my favorite places to eat in Boston.  I went there for the first time back in February for my friend Katie’s birthday & have been hooked ever since.  (Thanks, KK :) ) It’s a spectacular little Italian wine cafe on Newbury Street.  Seriously, its perfection.  The food is not only completely delicious, but they’ve mastered a large menu variety without it being overwhelming.  Is it just me, or do gigantic menus tend to mean a lower quality of food?

A true test of a good restaurant is consistency.  Often times a restaurant is good once, but the quality may not be consistent time & time again.  Also, why is it that often when a restaurant is good at dinner, their lunches are lackluster, and vice versa?  Not the case here.

Piattini’s wine selection is also quite notable.  Not only is their selection huge, but their wait staff is extremely knowledgeable – which is helpful with the thousands of wines available today.  How can you know what you’ll like?  I love to try new wines when out to dinner.  Not only can they easily help you pair your wine, but they thoughtfully explain the different wines so you really know what you’re getting.  They also give you wine cards with your wine so you can learn more about it & (more importantly) purchase it elsewhere.

Piattini is the only place in Boston I’ve found what just might be my favorite wine: Evolution.  Unfortunately it’s not something I can get at the liquor store so I always feel the need to get it when I go to Piattini.

If you’re in Boston you really need to try it.  It’s delicious, welcoming & definitely affordable (lunch is roughly $10 per entrée & dinner is $15 – $25 on average).  My favorite? Salmon salad & spinach gnocchi to share.



226 Newbury Street Boston, MA. 02116

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My New Favorite Thing to Make: Pesto Pizza :)

While reading an old issue of Cooking Light in the doctor’s office (I know, I know – I should NOT be touching magazines in the doctor’s office…), I was inspired to make something I hadn’t made since I lived at home: pizza.  My mom made

Pesto pizza with a garlic & herb crust
Pesto pizza with a garlic & herb crust

the best homemade pizza when I was growing up.  Cooking Light had a recipe for pizza that looked delicious, so I decided to give it a try.  I didn’t have a pizza stone, so I decided to go out & buy one.  Long story short, the pizza was a failure.  The recipe called for whole tomatoes instead of sauce, which made the pizza really soggy, and the pizza stone CRACKED in the oven.  No joke – cracked.  Right down the middle.  Awesome.

I decided to buy a perforated pizza crisper (aka circular baking sheet with holes in it) instead.  Sean had the good idea to mimic the pizza we got from Canestaro’s (delicious Italian restaurant in the Fenway.  Definitely worth the trip if you get the chance.) – pesto pizza with chicken.  Success :)  You should make it, also.


  • Refrigerated pizza dough
  • Grilled chicken
  • Pesto (see pesto recipe here.  It takes 5 minutes – seriously.  You need to make your own pesto.)
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Corn meal (for the pan)
  • Flour


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Roll out pizza dough, using the flour as needed to ensure the dough isn’t sticky.  The dough should be thin and even.
  3. Evenly sprinkle a small amount of corn meal onto a greased pizza pan
  4. Move rolled-out dough onto pan, on top of the corm meal
  5. Add pesto onto center of dough and evenly spread outwards with the back of a spoon, creating an even layer on the dough, leaving a 1/4 inch around the edges for the crust
  6. Add a thin layer of cheese
  7. Add grilled chicken
  8. Add additional cheese on top of the whole pizza, leaving space around the edges for the crust
  9. Place pizza in preheated oven
  10. Cook for 12-15 minutes, or until crust is golden brown
  11. Enjoy your pizza :)

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Roll With It

This recipe came to me via Daily Candy.  I can’t wait to give it a try!  Once we have some weather that at least PRETENDS to be like summer (July starts on Tuesday, for crying out loud!!), I’m all over this like white on rice.

Shrimp Summer Salad Rolls
Serves six




1 package of twelve-inch round rice papers
12 large cooked and peeled shrimp, cut in half lengthwise
10 mint leaves
10 basil leaves
½ head of lettuce, shredded
½ package of thin rice noodles

1. Line up two sheets of rice paper, layering them one on top of the other.

2. Quickly dip them into a bowl of warm water.

3. Spread the moist rice paper onto a clean cutting board and flatten.

4. In the middle of the rice paper, layer two pieces of shrimp and top with one basil leaf and one mint leaf.

5. Add 1/6 of the lettuce and 1/6 of the rice noodles.

6. Tuck in top and bottom, then fold left and rights sides over the filling (like a burrito) and seal using a drop of water on your fingertip.

All Seasons’s Dipping Sauce

8 tbsp. hoisin sauce
4 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp. white sugar
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 tbsp. roasted peanuts, chopped (optional)
1 tsp. chili flakes (optional)

1. In a small bowl, mix hoisin sauce, vinegar, sugar, and sesame oil.

2. Top with roasted peanuts and chili flakes (optional).

3. Enjoy!!

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