Treat Yourself Tuesday: Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins

img_3448Two weeks in a row? What’s happening with me! I had a few days where I actually felt like I had a lot of energy, so after getting a bunch of work done I decided to work on my blog.

Last year I posted pumpkin muffins. They’re low-calorie and low-fat. They are still pretty good. But this year it’s not about restricting. You shouldn’t have to feel bad about food. It’s about making food you love and enjoying it. Just don’t go overboard. That’s the point of Treat Yourself Tuesday. So this year here are much more indulgent, but probably much more delicious, pumpkin muffins.

 

What you’ll Need:

  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon (an extra 1/2 tsp for topping)
  • 1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup sugar (an extra 1/4 cup for topping)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 (15oz) can of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1 tsp cold butter (for topping)

img_3447Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl mix together the flours, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, mix together the sugars, oil, water, eggs and pumpkin. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Spoon batter into muffin cups (about 3/4 full).

In a separate bowl mix together the 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Cut in pieces of the butter and mash together with your hands until the topping is chunky. Sprinkle this mixture over the muffins and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick is inserted into the muffins and come out clean.

Enjoy fall! Enjoy muffins!

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Going Back to Work After Depression

Once I officially left my job in broadcast news, I didn’t know when or how I would go back to work. For awhile I was on medical leave, but at some point when I got a lot healthier and still realized i needed a break from news, I officially left. Now that the paychecks weren’t coming in what was I supposed to do? And was I healthy enough to go back to working 40 hours a week? The answer at the time was no.

I wasn’t worried about my next career step at the time. I figured if worse comes to worse, I would work at a coffee shop part time while I got myself figured out. But I got lucky, and I fell into something really amazing.

I started off looking for freelancing jobs on a website called Upwork. In the meantime I started dog sitting for the website DogVacay. (But come on… PUPPIES!)

I picked up a few freelance jobs and fell in with two really amazing jobs. The first is helping a phenomenal woman grow her podcast. Check it out. It’s called The Big Leap Show, and it talks about women entrepreneurs and businesswomen who have made a big changes in their lives. It resonated with me considering I just went through by own big change.

The second job is incredible. I’m freelancing with a start up real estate company, and doing their digital marketing. It’s amazing because they’re investing a lot in me, and I’ve gotten a chance to learn so much already. I only had a little work to begin with, but they liked what I did so I got more and more work.

I think the best thing about freelancing is that I work from home. I don’t have the stress of getting up and going in to work every day. I still work… a lot. But it helps my stress and anxiety to be able to work on my own hours for the most part. Plus I can still watch the dogs for a little cash on the side since I’m home all the time. (YAY PUPPIES!)

So sometimes even when I have really bad days, I realize I’m so lucky. I’ve somehow started to pick up the pieces. I’m finding a job I’m happy with, but is low stress and still gives me the flexibility to heal.

If you’re battling depression or are falling apart at your job, know you’re not stuck. I somehow found something great that works for me.

 

Treat Yourself Tuesdays- Homemade Crispy Thin Crust Pizza

IMG_2737IMG_2739Mmmmm pizza. Really what else can you say about it? It’s also this week’s Treat Yourself Tuesday. This week’s post was recommended by a great friend of mine! So if you ever have any ideas for a post let me know!

The nice thing about making pizza is you can top it with whatever you’d like. This gives you the opportunity to throw in some veggies and get a little extra nutrition. Treat yourself this week, and enjoy this pizza one night.

My sauce recipe is also perfect for any pasta dish you may want to cook up.

What You’ll Need:

For the pizza dough:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 packet dry yeast (1 tsp)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2/3 cup warm water (between 105 and 110 degrees)

(If you have a bread machine, throw all the ingredients in and put it on the dough setting. The wet ingredients should be on the bottom, and the dry on top. The yeast should be the last thing you put in. If you don’t have a bread maker, read on.)

Add the sugar and water in a large bowl until dissolved. Add in the yeast and let sit for a few minutes. The liquid should be foamy. Stir while adding the olive oil.

In a separate bowl, add together the flour and salt. Add the wet and try ingredients together. Knead together until dough forms. (I would suggest dusting your hands in flour). When you get a smooth ball, put it in a oiled bowl, and turn to coat. Cover with a clean towel and leave to rise for an hour.

For the sauce:

  • 2 28oz cans of crushed tomatoesIMG_2735
  • 1 8oz can of tomato sauce
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp crushed black pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 very small white onion chopped.
  • olive oil.

Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add the chopped tomato, stirring occasionally until somewhat caramelized. Add the rest of the ingredients. When it starts to bubble, turn down to a simmer. Leave on the stove for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep tasting and add anything you think it needs.

What you need for toppings:

  • 1 oz package of fresh mozzarella
  • fresh basil leaves
  • *any other toppings you desire.

IMG_2734Preheat the over to 450 degrees. When the dough is done rising, roll out into one large pizza, or two small ones. Because this is a thin crust pizza, the dough doesn’t behave as well. Stretch out, or use a rolling pin to roll out the dough extremely thin. Place on a baking sheet. Slice the fresh mozzarella and put it on the pizza. Add whatever other toppings you decide to use. I used sliced peppers. Put in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

Take out when the cheese is melted and the edges of the crust begin to brown. Take out of the oven and top with fresh basil leaves. Enjoy your fresh crispy thin crust pizza!

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Delicious Summer Recipes!

I’ve been lazy about positing. Mostly because I’m at the beach, and unfortunately I’ve still had quite a bit of work to do here. But here’s something I wanted to share for awhile! I know for many summer might be winding down, but lets face it, it’s still going to be hot for awhile. So if you’re still looking for a great treat here’s some delicious summer recipes for your next BBQ, or just to keep cool.

Summer Berry Sorbet with Homemade Whipped CreamIMG_2506

This is the perfect treat to cool down, and you don’t even need an ice cream maker. (Although admittedly it’s just so much easier. Wish list for Kara: ice cream maker to go with my KitchenAid blender.) It’s only a few ingredients, so prep only takes a few minutes. The whipped cream makes for a really delicious addition, especially when the sorbet begins to melt.

 

basil watermelon slushWatermelon & Basil Summer Slush

A great drink to cool down with! If you’re planning on having people over on a hot August day, this is the perfect thing to cool them down. (If you really want to have a party just add a shot of vodka 😉 haha.) It’s extremely flavorful and the flavors are perfect for summer. The recipe makes one drink so make sure to multiply if you’re having company!

 

IMG_1482Seared Tuna with a Chili Soy Blood Orange Glaze

I love this recipe. I’m also a sucker for seared tuna. This works well for summer because it’s still somewhat cold. The edges are seared but its not a heavy or hot meal. Technically blood oranges are a winter fruit, so you may have some trouble finding them. If you can’t, you can always use regular oranges. Crush a few raspberries into the marinade and that will be closer to the flavor of a blood

orange.

salmon with border

Grilled Salmon with Ginger Soy Glaze

Fire up the grill. This is another great fish dish for summer. This glaze is incredible and really infuses a lot of flavor into the fish. Add some grilled veggies as a side and you’ve got an entire meal. It’s also much a quick and easy meal to make during the week. This is also a great option for those who want another option for the grill besides meat.

IMG_2510Savory Sweet Potato Burrito

I love sweet potato burritos. It sounds funny, but it’s amazingly good. I first had one at this great place in West Philadelphia. I then tried to replicate the recipe to the best of my abilities. I never thought about a sweet potato burrito before, but really it’s pretty incredible. This is another delicious summer recipe. If you haven’t had sweet potato in Mexican food before, definitely give this a shot.

 

 

Image-1-1Grilled Chilies Rellenos

Another great Mexican-inspired dish.  love the added tastiness of the grill, however you can of course do this in the oven. But who doesn’t love the taste of the grill? The mix of the poblano pepper, cotija cheese and chicken thighs is awesome. I think chicken thighs are really underutilized sometimes. This is something a little different than just the typical burgers and fries to throw on the grill.

 

zuchhini pasta w/ borderZucchini Pasta w/ Old Bay Ship, Heirloom Tomatoes & Fresh Corn

Zucchini pasta is such a great option for summer! It won’t weigh you down in the same way normal pasta will. Plus who doesn’t love Old Bay on shrimp? This is a great light summer dish that’s perfect for dinner. Zucchini pasta is extremely easy to make. You don’t even need one of those veggie pasta makers. I just use my cheese grater! Use all the great summer vegetables in this dish.

bruschetta with borderSummer Bruschetta

I really am not a fan of raw tomatoes. But I love this bruschetta recipe. Fresh tomatoes, corn and goat cheese makes for a delicious summer recipe! This is also such an easy and great option for entertaining. Check out the recipe!

 

FullSizeRender(3)Egg White Lemon Crepes w/ Berry Filling

A light crepe filled with summer berries! The light lemon flavor really comes through nicely in the crepe. These are really easy and quick to make. Top with some tasty whipped cream and serve it up for breakfast. Great for yourself or the entire family. You can really put any berries in the filling, but take advantage of all the in season berries. They’re so good right now!

IMG_2432Green Bean Fries

This is a great side dish for the summer. If you’re firing up the grill for burgers and want a side of fries, here’s a summer veggie option instead. They aren’t the same as normal fries obviously, but they’re crispy and delicious. A quick breading and they’re off in the oven. So easy to make! Think of this side the next time you’re making dinner or want a healthy snack.

 

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Fresh Corn & Quinoa Congee

I am sorry to all the people out there who have grown up with congee. This won’t be nearly as wonderful as anything your family used to make. But man this is still a delicious recipe. Quinoa is an awesome substitute for rice, and the fresh corn screams summer. It’s a great breakfast or lunch option. Honestly, I could eat it all day long.

 

IMG_1791Green Pea and Avocado Soup

This soup is great for summer, not only because of the fresh peas and avocado, but because this can be served hot or cold. I’m not the biggest fan of cold soups, but this is really flavorful and perfect when you don’t feel like eating something hot in the summer heat! Serve alone or with any protein you want. I chose fish. YUM.

 

So this is the 2016 list. Let me know whether or not there’s anything you like to see, or if you like the recipes or not!

Struggling With Depression in Broadcast News

With some inspiration from a former employer and mentor, I decided to begin to talk about paying attention to how our co-workers are handling stress in the workplace. The post on LinkedIn is titled Struggling With Depression in Broadcast News. Check out that link. For those of you who want a little more background before reading the article, keep reading here.

B_UvXfxWsAEeZOHFor 6 years I worked as a TV producer at several local stations. If you don’t know anything about the industry it’s rough. Many of the shifts have bad hours, when breaking news happens get used to long days and on top of it all you’re often dealing with very sensitive and upsetting topics. It’s hard and it takes its toll.

The day of the Boston Marathon bombing, I was in the control room live on the air. Then the news broke. For the next four hours I was managing the details, setting up interviews, giving my anchor new information, guiding the production crew, making new graphics and getting new video on the air. I did have help, but still it was a lot. It wasn’t until after I was done for the day I realized the gravity of what had happened. The saddest thing for me that day, was that I didn’t even have any emotions about the events until after the fact. It was a job, but realizing how desensitized you’ve become to tragedy is upsetting.

And I only work for the news! There are so many people working hard jobs with long hours and stressful situations. Look at hospital workers, firefighters and policemen. That’s just a small number of jobs that can wear you out. And if you’re like me, you care too much about what you’re doing.

So we need to begin to help each other and look out for warning signs of depression. Many people look ok, but are suffering in silence. We should at least be able to talk about this more so people aren’t afraid to ask for help. I’ve gotten a lot of great responses from this article. So please check it out. Let me know what you think. Start a conversation. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, sad and detached, you’re not alone. Many of us have been through it. I’m not a doctor, I’m not an expert, but I’ve someone who has been through it who is willing to listen.

Kara

Treat Yourself Tuesday- Crispy Fried Chicken

IMG_2607What? This girl from the northeast is making fried chicken? Now southerners, don’t get upset with me. I’m not claiming to know everything about fried chicken, but I’ve found a pretty great recipe.

Now traditionally I do healthier food on this blog, but I also post a Treat Yourself Tuesday segment. The point of this is to allow yourself some freedom in food. Many people struggle with their perceptions of food. But we also need to be able to enjoy foods we love, without feeling guilty. So every once in awhile it’s ok to treat yourself.

Now we get to the fried chicken! Yes it is fried, but at least your getting a lot of good protein. Add some sauteed spinach on the side for vegetables (see below for a quick recipe), and you get a lot of nutrition. Most days you may want to opt for roasted chicken, but today we’re treating ourselves!

What You’ll Need:

  • One whole chicken broken down (You can either buy it that way or break it down yourself. Or you can do it yourself. Here’s how to break down a chicken.)
  • A lot of canola oil (make sure you have at least one whole bottle)
  • Flour (enough to coat an entire chicken)
  • At least one cup of buttermilk (or sour milk)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • paprika
  • cayenne
  • A large skillet (preferably cast iron)
  • A meat thermometer (so much easier to test the chicken)

Put the flour in a large bowl. Season generously with salt, pepper, paprika and a little cayenne pepper. In a separate bowl pour the buttermilk. Take the chicken, and rub some salt and pepper under the skin of the bird. Dip the pieces of chicken in the flour, then the buttermilk, then coat it in the flour a second time. Let the chicken sit for a few minutes until the batter turns into a paste on the chicken. This is important!

IMG_2604In your cast iron skillet pour the canola oil in so it will cover at least half of the chicken. Put the stove on high heat and let the oil get very hot (if it start smoking that’s too hot!! Don’t worry it won’t be at this heat the entire time) Drop in the chicken and brown on both sides. Once the chicken is browned, turn the temperature down to medium-low. The oil should still be boiling, but not as intensely. Cook for about 25 minutes to half an hour. Check all the pieces of chicken. The wings will cook much quicker than the breasts. If you’re worried about the wings overcooking, pull them out while like bigger pieces, like the breasts, cook. All of the chicken should be cooked to 165 degrees. When the chicken is cooked, turn the oil back up to high heat to crisp up again. Trust me this will make for some very crispy chicken.

Put the chicken on a metal rack to drain or cool. If you don’t have a metal rack don’t worry. I use a broiling pan. Anything that will allow the oil to drip off of it. You can use paper towels, but your chicken will not be as crispy.

For the side of spinach you’ll need:

  • 1 5 oz bag of baby spinach
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8 cup almond slices
  • a few dashes of salt
  • a few dashes of pepper
  • drizzle of olive oil

Put all the ingredients in a pan over medium-high heat. Occasionally stir until the spinach has wilted. About 1-2 minutes.

Hope you enjoyed this week’s treat yourself Tuesday!

Living with Depression: How My Dog Helped Me

stella and karaMy dog Stella is a quirky little mutt. I love her. When she was young, she was super energetic. Now that she’s older she has calmed down significantly. Here’s a little bit about how she helped me through my depression.

Dogs are the best. We know that. I hope your pet cheers you up as much as mine does!

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Welcome to Treat Yourself Tuesdays!

If you’ve ever watched Parks and Recreation, you know the importance of a “Treat Yourself Day.”

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And really, who can argue with the wisdom we’ve learned from Parks and Rec?!

But seriously, we do all need to treat ourselves once in awhile. It’s hard… I know from experience. To be ok with indulging every once in awhile takes a lot of work. It’s not easy to actually have a healthy relationship with food. And that doesn’t mean just eating salads all the time.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t all eat healthy and balanced meals. In fact, we absolutely should. It’s important to get enough protein and vegetables for energy and nutrients. I’m learning a lot about it from sessions with a nutritionist.

**side note: if you’re interested in seeing a nutritionist to learn more about eating well, most health insurance plans will cover a few sessions a year at no extra cost. So check your plan.

The problem with food comes when you can’t allow yourself to enjoy something really delicious from time to time. You shouldn’t beat yourself up or feel guilty just because you ate a cookie. That’s what led me down a bad path to a skewed view of eating, and ultimately an eating disorder.

So that’s why I’ve decided to post recipes for *TREAT YOURSELF TUESDAYS.* On Tuesdays I’ll post a recipe that’s a little bit more of a guilty pleasure. In moderation we can all enjoy our favorite foods, and we don’t have to feel bad about it.

Today’s first Treat Yourself Tuesday recipe is Summer Berry Sorbet with Homemade Whipped Cream. So check it out! The sorbet itself isn’t too unhealthy, but with the homemade whipped cream this dish is a little more decadent and A LOT more delicious.

So in the words of Tom and Donna: “Treat Yo Self!”

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Summer Berry Sorbet with Homemade Whipped Cream

IMG_2506I don’t know about where you live, but here in Philadelphia it’s been HOT! Which makes sense, because it is the middle of July. But still, if you’re looking for a sweet way to beat the heat this recipe for summer berry sorbet with homemade whipped cream is perfect! Plus, nothing goes better than berries and cream!

*recipe cheat!!! If you don’t feel like making homemade whipped cream, you can just buy some from the store. BUT big *BUT* it won’t be nearly as good. and you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to make yourself.

**recipe cheat 2!!! Life is easier with an ice cream maker. I’ll show you how to make it without one (sadly I don’t have an ice cream maker). If you have an ice cream maker you can take the base of the summer berry sorbet, chill it and then stick it in the ice cream maker. Then you’re done!

What You’ll Need for the Sorbet:

  • 2 cups blackberries
  • 3 cups strawberries
  • 1/3 cup sugar

What You’ll Need for the Whipped Cream:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To Make the Sorbet:IMG_2508-1

Take the strawberries, and half or quarter them depending on the size. Put the strawberries, blackberries and sugar in a mixing bowl. Give the berries and sugar a quick mix and let sit for 5-10 minutes until the berries are macerated (best word ever) and there’s a syrup at the bottom.

(Many people prefer to make a simple syrup and add it to the berries instead of macerating them. I think you get a better flavor when macerating, because it brings the flavor out of the strawberries and blackberries.)

Blend the berry mixture in a blender until smooth. Stick the sorbet base in the freezer. From there you have a few choices.

  1. Check on the sorbet occasionally (maybe ever hour or so) and give it a stir. When it’s firm your sorbet is done.
  2. Let the sorbet freeze completely. Then break it into pieces and blend until smooth. Stick it in the freezer again until its frozen and has the smooth consistency of sorbet. (Note: if you do this method, let the frozen sorbet sit out for about 5 minutes to soften first. If you don’t have a strong blender, this may not be the best method. Also you may have to stop and stir several times while blending.)

To Make the Whipped Cream:

Take the bowl and whisk you plan to use and stick it in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. (This goes for the bowl and whisk for standing mixers as well.)

IMG_2504When the bowl is cold, add the heavy whipping cream, sugar and vanilla extract. Whip until you get stiff peaks. Don’t over whisk or you’ll start to get butter.

*note: If you’re using a standing mixer, make sure you whisk on a very low setting. In addition, make sure you scrape all the ingredients from the bottom. Generally the whisk won’t hit the bottom, so you have to make sure to scrape all the ingredients from the sides and bottom.

You can save the whipped cream or leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. Just make sure to give it an extra whisk for a few seconds before using.

Put it All Together:

Take a few scoops of the sorbet, top with a few dollops of whipped cream and garnish with a few extra fresh berries.

That’s how you beat the heat with summer berry sorbet with homemade whipped cream!

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Social Media & Depression

media-social-media-apps-social-network-facebook.jpgI’ve gotten a few texts and messages from people wondering if I “unfriended” them on Facebook. To all my friends: I don’t hate you. I didn’t unfriend you. I did the unthinkable. I deleted my Facebook.

I guess technically I deactivated my Facebook. I could rejoin the social media site if I wanted to. But after months off the website, I don’t want to go back.

Social media is such a powerful medium. I use it to find out what’s going on in the world, and now to share my story with everyone here at Food, the City and the Girl. I think it’s important, and I think it’s a great vessel for self expression. That being said, I think that’s only true if you truly express yourself.

Too much of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and whatever else people are using these days,  are about showing an idealized version of yourself. A version that doesn’t exist for anyone. It’s great to post pictures of your friends or talk about how much you love your job or your significant other, but a lot of times that’s not the entire story. And honestly that’s ok, because you don’t need to share every problem in your life with that guy you knew in third grade and haven’t talked to since.

But staring at the over idealized versions of ourselves every day can cause problems. Especially for people suffering from depression. It can make you feel very alone. Like you’re the only person struggling when really we all have our own problems.

It also can cause problems if you have an eating disorder. Staring at pictures every day of girls in bikinis and six-pack abs doesn’t exactly boost your confidence.

So how can you make it better?

Take a break from social media for awhile. I’m not telling anyone to completely quit every social media account they have. Clearly I still depend on social media very much. But find the site or sites that are making you feel bad and just try and step away. For me it was Facebook. I took a step back. I still actively use Twitter (@karawarr) and Instagram (@kara_warr). For me, twitter is more about following current events. I used it a lot when I was working in local news, and that’s still the majority of accounts I follow. I don’t follow a lot of people on Instagram and I like that. For me Instagram isn’t overly politicized. People don’t bitch about every single thing. It’s mostly just cute pictures of puppies and the vacations my friends go on. Instagram actually makes me feel better when I look at it.

When you feel like you’re in a better place, try rejoining the social media site. That was my plan originally, but I found I’m much happier without Facebook. Maybe some day I’ll go back, but it won’t be anytime soon. By then there will probably be a completely different website.

But how do I keep in touch with friends?

I was worried about this at first as well. I have some friends who notoriously lose their cell phones and get new numbers all the time. It’s hard to keep in touch and social media actually makes that so much easier. I’ll say I was actually surprised that I DIDN’T have any issues keeping in touch. Those people I worried about losing touch with had MY NUMBER. Or they had my email or followed one of my other social media accounts. Those people who are important in your life will stay in your life. Before you disconnect, you can always shoot a few people a message, if you’re really worried about losing touch.

It also doesn’t have to be forever. Go back to it whenever you want! Like I said, I love social media. I think it’s important, but when you’re in a bad place, it can be helpful to take a break. And if you’re not ready to disconnect, just remember no one’s life is perfect… even if it seems that way on Facebook.