Blueberry-Peach Bran Muffins

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Every year, without fail, I get an uncontrollable craving for bran muffins as soon as the faintest hint of fall sneaks into the late-August air. Growing up, my mom always made them for me as a back to school treat. They were my favorite breakfast — especially when they were still warm rom the oven. Even now, years later, homemade bran muffins signify the start of fall just as much a pumpkin spice lattes (Yes – I’m one of those people who wait for them all year. I told you I love coffee!)

Mom always made the classic Raisin Bran muffins that use a box of cereal, but have you seen the cost of cereal these days? It’s completely outrageous. Clearly time to find a new, more economical recipe. It took a while. So many versions were too dry, too dense, or too gritty. I felt like I was being beaten over the head with health food. Just as I was about to give up and buy a box of Raisin Bran, I decided to give it one last try. Success! After two years of fiddling around with recipes, I’ve finally developed what I think is the perfect bran muffin: light, springy, and moist with just the right amount of nutty bran flavor. Spread with a little butter and served with a glass of cold milk, this is the perfect back-to-school (or off-to-work) breakfast.

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Click to get the recipe for Blueberry-Peach Bran Muffins –>

Barbecue Chicken with Fresh Mango Salsa

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On my way home from work yesterday, I noticed something: there were yellow leaves all over my neighbor’s lawn. I looked up, and sure enough, their huge elm tree is starting to change colors. I’ve noticed that the morning have been cooler — prompting me to grab a cardigan and even consider a light jacket — so I knew that fall was imminent, but I’m not ready for it to come on in full force! Where has summer gone?

We still have a few weeks of decent weather left so, before pumpkins start taking over my kitchen, I’m going to take every opportunity to get in a few more summery dishes. Like this barbecue chicken with mango salsa that I served with an avocado, bacon, and goat cheese salad. While you could theoretically make this dish any time, the fresh, bright flavors are perfectly suited for a hit, summery day. I love the contrast between the tangy barbecue sauce, the touch of spice from the jalapenos, and the juicy sweetness of the mango.

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Click to continue reading Barbecue Chicken with Fresh Mango Salsa –>

{Tazo Cookoff} Tazo Giveaway Details and Starbucks Winners!

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You guys sure do like coffee — there were 67 entries for my Starbucks giveaway! The lucky winners are:

  • Comment #42, Yail from Yael’s Yummies, who can’t pick a favorite
  • Comment #55, Natasha from 5 Star Foodie, who’s excited about the caramel
  • Comment #26, Katie, who wants to try the cinnamon

I’ll send you an email to get your shipping details. Enjoy!!

While I was doing this post, I also realized that I never posted the details about the Tazo Giveaway that I’m also hosting! This is a great one! One commenter will receive:

  • A 1-year supply (12 boxed of Tazo teas)
  • A tea pot and two tea cups
  • An electric tea kettle
  • A gorgeous, glass iced tea pitcher (seen here)

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I’ll be picking a winner from all the comments left on my Tazo Cookoff posts. Three recipes to comment on means you have three opportunities to enter! Recipes I’ve created featuring various Tazo teas include:

You have until 3:00 PM EST on September 1 to enter. Every time you comment, you’ll also be helping me enter to win a $1,000 gift certificate to my favorite cooking store.

I’ll be back tonight with a new (non-tea) recipe post!

Starbucks Natural Fusions (+ a Giveaway)

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Over the past month, I’ve had plenty of posts about tea thanks to the Tazo Cookoff. Today I’m switching up gears with a post for all the coffee lovers out there.
If you know me, you know I love coffee. I started drinking it the summer before my senior year of high school and I’ve rarely spent a morning without a coffee cup in my hand since. In fact, I’m sitting in a coffee shop as I write this post (no, I don’t have a problem or anything…) So I was super excited when Starbucks contacted me about trying their new, naturally flavored coffees, which will be available in stores this fall.
I was really impressed by these! The flavors are there, but are very subtle — more like putting cinnamon in your coffee grounds or adding a drop of vanilla extract to your coffee cup than the overwhelming flavor that some coffees like this have. Since I generally drink my coffee with just a splash of milk I also love that, unlike adding flavor with a syrup, these aren’t sweet or full of calories.
I like the cinnamon flavor the best if I’m drinking hot coffee and the caramel flavor best if I’m drinking it iced. The vanilla is great either way. But why take my word for it when you can try it for yourself? Starbucks has agreed to send three lucky readers full-sized bags of each flavor along with a French Press and a mug. Just leave me a comment telling me which flavor you’r the most excited to try.
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{Tazo Cookoff} Iced Ginger Tea with Honey-Macerated Fruit

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For the third and final week of the Tazo Cookoff, I faced a bit of a dilemma: the pears that I had been presented to use in my recipe weren’t as ripe as I would have liked them to be. They would have been fine in a few days, but I was headed out of town and only had one night to get my recipe done. To make matters worse, the only thing I felt like eating was a sandwich — which put a quick end to my idea of poaching the pears in tea and making them into a chutney to eat with lamb chops and polenta (I mean, I like to cook, but I’m not about to make something like that when I’d be happier with a simple panini!)

As I tried to think of ways to incorporate the tea and pears into my sandwich or a side dish, I remembered the sangria-like iced tea that I had at Radiance Tea and Bookstore this spring. It seemed like the perfect accompaniment to my sandwich as well as a great way to use up some other fruit before I headed out of town.

The resulting tea was a nice change of pace from my standard unsweetened black tea, and I plan to make it again often. I especially loved the way that the ginger flavor infused the fruit — it was unexpected and extremely refreshing. Eating the fruit at the bottom of the glass was just as much of a treat as drinking the tea!

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This is your final chance to win a great Tazo gift pack including a one year supply of tea and a selection of tea-brewing essentials! You’ll be entered one time for every comment you leave on one of my Tazo recipes. This is recipe # 3 of 3. Previous recipes included

Vanilla Rooibos Quinoa Pudding with Cherry & Pistachio and

Tea-smoked Salmon with Lavender and Honey Glaze. On September 1, I’ll randomly pick a winner from all of the comments left on those three recipes. (Only commenters with valid US addresses are eligible to win) Every comment you leave will also help me win a $1,000 gift card to Williams Sonoma.

Click to continue reading Iced Ginger Tea with Honey-Macerated Fruit –>

{15 Minute Dinner} Porcini Dusted Ribeye with Green Bean Salad

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These past few weeks have been crazy. Between being out of town every weekend for the past month, to seriously overcommitting myself on several blog projects, to general insanity at the office, I feel like I’ve barely had time to catch a breath, let alone plan a menu or go grocery shopping. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I love being busy and everything has been 100% worth it. But I’m exhausted and I haven’t really felt like cooking. But a girl can only eat so much takeout before she starts to feel sick, and I knew that, despite the fact that I felt like collapsing onto the couch and not getting up until bed, it was time to cook a real dinner.

I came up with this porcini dusted steak with red wine sauce and a summery green bean, corn, and tomato salad on a whim, and I couldn’t have been happier with it. The steak was rich and flavorful, with a perfect crust of powdered mushrooms. The salad was light and fresh, featuring some of the best that August has to offer. And the whole thing was on the table in under 15 minutes. Which meant I could get back to the couch and put my feet up in half the time it would have taken to get a pizza delivered.

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