Monday, October 27, 2014

Sweet Potato, Kale and White Beans - Supper Simplified!

It's kind of odd to start a post with this, but here you have it....STRESS!
My life has had it's fair share lately. And I haven't handled it as gracefully as I might like. 
I might even have to attribute my 4.5# weight lost in the last 2 weeks to stress. I'm not suggesting this is a great way to lose weight. {I've actually been going to Weight Watchers for a few months and it's been working for me! 12.5# down and yep, all my jeans but one look like mom's jean on me now....lovely.}
With some life and work craziness in the last month, you be more likely to see me over-indulging in eats and drinks and under-indulging in the good stuff like yoga, exercise, and getting plenty of zzzzz's.
So, let's just say that counting points has not been my forte in the last few weeks.

I'm trying to get back to healthy eats and recipes that feel simple and nourishing. This is one that I had on my Pinterest page for a while and it certainly hit the spot for dinner the other night. Thank you to the Kitchn {one of my favs} for sharing it.
Pretty sure this will be a go-to through the holidays. 
I told my husband Jay that I realized I've got to get back to basics to manage my stress. Eating good stuff, sleeping enough, and exercising.
Then there's the serenity prayer. Saving my ass lately. Maybe you could use it today too:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

Sweet Potato, Kale and White Beans
Serves 4

straight from the good folks at the Kitchn

4 sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (4-inch) sprig fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups (or 1 can) cooked and drained white beans
6 cups kale, trimmed and sliced into ribbons
Juice of 1/4 lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F.
Scrub the sweet potatoes and prick them in a few places with a fork. Place them on a baking sheet and bake until soft all the way through, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Start the beans and greens about 15 to 20 minutes before the sweet potatoes are done.
In a wide, deep saucepan with a cover, heat the olive oil over low-moderate heat. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, rosemary sprig, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for about a minute. Add the beans and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the kale, cover the pan, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until the kale is soft. Remove the rosemary sprig, stir in the lemon juice, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
To serve, slice each sweet potato lengthwise and push on the ends to open up the middle. Spoon the beans and greens into the center.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'm a sucker for a good chocolate chip cookie. Always have been since I was a little kid. One of my favorite memories from kid-hood is coming home from school and making chocolate chip cookies with my mom. Warm, gooey, chocolate chip cookies just out of the oven....pure comfort. 

I like to take a basic recipe, like a cookie, and give it my own tweak. With chocolate chip cookies, I've made some pretty yummy variations, including one with dried cherries and toasted pecans and a sweet and salty compost cookie with butterscotch chips, pretzels and Fritos. Sometimes I just like the old standard baked with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt on the top.

Are you a fan of browned butter like me? Does your mouth water from that incredible nutty aroma that rolls through the kitchen while you are cooking the brown butter? It makes a pretty killer chocolate chip cookie! Drizzled over roasted butternut squash with sage and risotto or blended into a creamy buttercream icing for vanilla bean cupcakes....browned butter is such a treat. And easy to make. 

I promise.

To make browned butter, just cut up your stick (or sticks) of unsalted butter into slices and place it into a light-colored saucepan. Place heat on medium and let butter melt. After butter is completely melted let it continue to cook, stirring often. The butter will foam and sputter as the water is released and you will see the milk proteins in the bottom turning brown (hence the need to keep stirring, so they don't burn). 

As soon as you get a nice, light brown color and nutty smell, remove from the heat and pour butter into another bowl to cool (it will keep cooking and you don't want it to burn.) You can use immediately or refrigerate if you need the butter solidified or plan to store it.

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen

1 cup browned butter, chilled until firm
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup pecans, chopped (toasted if you like)

Make browned butter and chill it until firm. Preheat oven to 350F.
In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugars until light and fluffly. Add vanilla and then one egg at a time, blending well and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients and then add to the mixer bowl. Mix until blended. Add chocolate chips and pecans and mix just until incorporated. 
Portion dough with a small cookie scoop or tablespoon measure onto a sheet pan lined with parchment. Cook in pre-heated oven until golden brown, about 10-11 minutes.
*This recipe makes a softer cookie with crisp edges.

Monday, August 25, 2014

My Best Homemade Granola

Isn't breakfast like the best meal of the day sometimes? 
I have made granola from scratch many times over the years. It fills my home with such a roasty, wonderful smell. I can hardly wait till it's cooled off to munch on it.
This granola has to be the best I've ever made. In fact, I'm kinda obsessed with it.
It doesn't help that my buddy Samantha brought me Noosa Passion Fruit yogurt.
It's mind-blowing deliciousness together. 
I don't know if she knows how much I love passion fruit, but she's pretty intuitive....and a bad ass chef girl to boot.

My top 5 coolest things about making granola yourself:

  • It's easy to make! Basically, dump, stir, bake, cool, eat, swoon.
  • Totally customizable - you choose your favorite add-ins, flavors, spices, etc. Make it lighter with less fat and sweetener or go all out for a more decadent version and add some chocolate chips while you are at it!
  • It makes a great breakfast AND a fantastic dessert.
  • Cheaper than buying it.
  • It makes your house smell like heaven.

For this batch, I used pecans, a dried fruit blend of blueberries, cranberries, and strawberries {my fav - like little seedy gems!}, a mix of maple syrup and sorghum, unsweetened coconut flakes, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, and butter.  So so good.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Chicken Slaw with Feta and Citrus

I totally snagged the idea for this super easy and delish meal from one of my favorite casual restaurants, Zoe's Kitchen. Jay and I like to hit up Zoe's when we are out running errands or after working out, and when don't want to spend lots of $$$ to eat out. They have a Mediterranean vibe with some healthier options. Jay always gets chicken kabobs and this dish has become my new go-to.
They call it the "power protein plate". Basically it's a feta cabbage slaw with chicken and caramelized onions. Are you drooling yet?? 
Last time we went to Zoe's I told Jay, "I'm so making this at home myself". Here it is!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Jay's Tater Tot Hash Brown Waffles

This happened. Oh yes it did. And I gotta give the hubs all the props here.
So, let's talk about how this golden, crispy bit of heaven happened.

Last weekend, Jay and I went to a crafting party at our friend Bonnie's house. We made fun, handmade soy candles {thanks Katie for the inspiration and teaching!}
In case you are wondering....yes, Jay was the only guy there. He is always game for doing anything artsy and well.....hanging out with a bunch of fabulous ladies is just a bonus. I love that about him.

During the party, Sarah happened to mention making hash browns with tater tots on her waffle iron. 
Oh boy....I didn't even have to glance at Jay and I knew his face was lit up like a Christmas tree. 
This news may have become the highlight of his day and his whole reason for showing up at this party.
Let's just say Jay loves tater tots A LOT!

So now Jay was a man on a tater tot hash brown mission. He quickly hit up a buy-one-get-one tater tot sale at the grocery and we were in business.
Let me just confirm two things....
These were scary good and it was oddly satisfying to smash the tots into shape on the waffle iron. 
Kids would so love doing this too {aren't we all kids at heart?}.

So, you really don't need a recipe for making this little gem. You just grab some frozen tater tots and thaw them in the microwave. Put them on the hot, lightly greased waffle iron and close it, smashing the tots down. Cook for about 7-8 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle with salt to taste and copious amounts of ketchup.
{Warning: these are so tasty you might want to make them daily. Your waistline may not like that.}
Thank you Sarah for the tater tot inspiration.....they were delish and made my husband a very happy man. You rock!

Monday, June 30, 2014

My Favorite Summertime Watermelon Smoothie

I gotta say. I love a good watermelon. Blend it up and it's just the most refreshing smoothie for hot summer days. Watermelon margaritas sound kind of awesome too....hmmmm.
Isnt' it awesome when you pick out your big ole melon, bring it home and slice into find that beautiful, bright pink flesh. Ripe, juicy, fruit happiness.

This smoothie is my go-to for a quick breakfast or post-workout treat. Whatcha been blending up lately?

Watermelon & Banana Smoothie
Serves 2-4

2 bananas, peeled and frozen
3-4 cups of chopped watermelon
1/2 lime, juiced
1/8 teaspoon rose water {optional, I like it either way}

Place everything in your high-powered blender and process until smooth. Drink and say "ahhhhhhh".

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Vegan Coconut, Mango & Passion Fruit Ice Cream

God knows I have a wicked sweet tooth. 
I've been craving fruity sweets lately - but trying to find some ways to make dessert a little healthier. I had my heart set on making some mango popsicles the other day, but couldn't find my molds. 
So, improvisation takes over.

I think this time, I hit the jackpot. Fruity, summer ice cream with no dairy, just a little sweetener, and three of my favorite flavors together - mango, coconut, and passion fruit!

These Haitian mangoes were incredibly delicious! I can't wait to get some more.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Strawberries Three Ways!

We ran away. Just for one night.
Jay and I took a quick trip up to Blue Ridge, GA this past weekend and it was a little slice of heaven. 
Rainy and green, it was quiet up there. The earth smelled of delicious dampness and I felt a slowing down of myself that lasted for several days.

A few highlights from our trip:

Dinner at Harvest on Main - patio dining is the best and our meal was super tasty {I ♥ the smoked salmon and trout spread}.
We stayed in the Bungalow at The Fernbrook Inn,  just a few minutes from down town Blue Ridge. Cozy bed, big ole tub with jets, and sweet Debbie, who cooked breakfast and chatted with us.
Lastly, there's Mercier Orchards. I'd been wanting to visit in the fall during apple picking season. Apparently it is swamped then. So, they had fresh strawberries when we went and I couldn't resist. My dessert-making brain couldn't wait to get working on the luscious, perfumed beauties.