Saturday, March 31, 2012

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Strawberries

After the wedding I promise to post something other than vegetables, salads and smoothies all the time, but we've got less than 100 days to go and my dress is still a little snug!

Have I told you that we are getting married on the beach?  At sunrise . . . with mimosas, our families and closest friends.  I have a huge smile on my face just talking about it.


Anyway . . .  This recipe is only slightly tweaked from Jenna's caramelized brussels sprouts (at Eat Live Run). I started out with her recipe but instead of walnuts I wanted something sweet, so I added dried cranberries.

Then the other day I was out of dried cranberries but had strawberries.  Even better!



I just can't stop eating brussels spouts! Roasted,  steamed or caramelized,  they are all so good!


In fact we are even growing our own now.  The mister just came home with tons of veggies and flowers for the garden from Home Depot.  I will keep you updated on their progress.



Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Strawberries (adapted from Eat Live Run)
12-14 large brussels sprouts
3 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pinch salt
3 tbsp brown sugar
5-7 large strawberries

Directions:

1. Slice each brussels sprout very thin until you have a mound of feathery brussels sprout ribbons and dice your garlic clove.

2. Heat the olive oil over medium high in a large skillet and saute the garlic for 30 seconds.

3. Add brussels sprouts and continue sauteing for another 4-5 minutes, until bright green and tender. (The only thing I've ever done to mess up this recipe is not cook the sprouts long enough) Add salt and brown sugar and toss together. Turn off heat.

4. Dice your strawberries last and toss them into the already cooked sprouts. Don't cook the

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Light Strawberry Chocolate Smoothie

So this isn't a particularly difficult recipe post.  In fact, just about anyone can make a strawberry smoothie.

My original plan was to come up with something a little more creative,  like dark chocolate and cherries, but cherries (unlike the cherry blossoms outside) are no where to be found right now.


Strawberries on the other hand, are huge, redder than usual and on sale!

How gorgeous is this smoothie?  Couldn't you just reach out and grab it?  The chocolate around the rim is actually honey and a teaspoon of cocoa powder.



I got a new book yesterday. Commencement  by J. Courtney Sullivan, and I can't put it down. I highly recommend it.  I still need to read her first book Maine  that everyone raves about.

Is it 5:30 yet?  I'm ready to hop on the Metro train with my new book and call it a day!

Shopping List  (makes one large smoothie)
1 cup strawberries
1 cup Ice
1/2 cup Almond Milk (I like the Vanilla)
2 tablespoons plain Fage 0% Greek Yogurt
2 tablespoons Honey
1 teaspoon Cocoa Powder

1. In a large blender mix first 4 ingredients and 1 tablespoon of honey until smooth, about 60 seconds.

2. Before you pour your smoothie into the glass, mix remaining honey and cocoa powder on a plate and then rim your glass with it.

3. Pour smoothie into cocoa honey rimmed glass and enjoy.

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Avocado Chicken Salad


Yesterday I had a chicken salad extravaganza. I bought four chicken breasts and made three different types of chicken salad that I found in this months Cooking Light.  This one was my favorite.

My fiance really liked the tzatziki chicken salad (coming soon) and there was another one we had not tried yet because it was slow cooking in the crock pot (also coming soon). Y um.


Speaking of chicken, today is my cheat day on my diet. I allow myself one day a week to eat what I want (within reason). We are having lunch today at a place that my fiance and his friends call "Chicken Lunk" because they don't want anyone to know the real name. 

What is a "lunk" guys? Anyway, they have the worlds best chicken sandwiches. It's Peruvian chicken, and their white sauce is to die for. I've tried to recreate it and I just can't figure out what's in it.


Supposedly you are not allowed to bring the girl you are dating (says my fiance and his friends) to this top secret restaurant with amazing chicken sandwiches unless you have been with her for two full years. You have to trust that she won't tell the world the real name of their top secret restaurant.

Doesn't that make you want to try this place even more?! And, men who create rules and secrets over chicken sandwiches ...  are men I want to be around for the rest of my life.  My lips are sealed.

But,  I will tell you how to make this avocado chicken salad.  It's the bomb and healthier than what I am going to eat today.

Shopping List  (recipe from Cooking Light)  
2 tablespoons olive oil 
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice 
3/8 teaspoon kosher salt 
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
2 cups shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast 
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro 
3/4 cup refrigerated fresh salsa 
1 ripe avocado, peeled and chopped
Bean sprouts
Whole wheat or low carb tortillas

1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add chicken and cilantro; toss to combine. Gently fold in salsa and avocado.

Cooking Light served this on chips, I liked it in a tortilla with bean sprouts for extra crunch. Also, I made fresh salsa with red onion, tomato, cilantro, lime and salt in the food processor. I poached my chicken and shredded it with a fork.


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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sweet and Spicy Coconut Chicken Bites

I've been drooling over coconut crusted chicken on Pinterest for a really long time now.  Has anyone seen this photo? Yum.

I finally got around to trying out my own version last weekend. Since then, we have had coconut chicken for dinner every night this week! I added a sprinkle of cayenne into the panko and sweetened coconut flakes for a little kick.


Although this photographed recipe is lightly fried (in coconut oil for extra flavor) you can also bake it.

I baked it in a lightly greased pan for about 15 minutes (turning the bites over once) at 400 degrees and they were still delish.



My love of everything avocado, coconut and brussels sprouts has really taken over the kitchen lately.

But this weekend I plan to branch out a little and take some time to admire the cherry blossoms that will hit their peak bloom in DC today or tomorrow (and hopefully inspire some new recipes).



I'm thinking dark chocolate cherry smoothies and sweet cherry and goat cheese crostinis. Sound good?

Shopping List (serves 2 to 4)
Package of 2 chicken breasts or several tenders
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1 cup cocnut milk (or regular cream)
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 sprinkle cayenne pepper
Salt
1/4 cup coconut oil

Honey Chili Sauce
2 tablespoons light mayo
2 tablespoons Franks Sweet and Spicy Chili sauce or Siracha
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon rice vinegar

1. Place coconut flakes and panko together on a deep plate. Sprinkle on small dash of cayenne pepper.

2. Trim chicken to bite sized pieces and place in coconut milk or cream in a small bowl.

3. Take chicken bites out of coconut milk and coat with coconut flakes and panko. Press lightly to make sure coconut sticks and add a dash of salt to each bite.

4. Heat coconut oil on medium heath in large frying pan. Turn until all sides have browned. Serve with Honey Chili Sauce or plain honey. .

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Fresh Avocado Cream Pasta Sauce

When I was in college I worked at a daycare part time and there was a little boy there named Grant.  Grant was 4 years old and had the cutest lisp ever.  He couldn't say avocado.  It came out like av-o-ta-do.

I thought it was so cute I would tickle him until he would say it for me "okay, okay,  av-o-ta-do!"

Only semi related to this recipe post, I know,  but still adorable. Every time I make something with avocados I think of little Grant.


Up until a few weeks ago I had only sliced avocados and put them on burgers or made salads or guacamole.

But then came this ...

... and now I'm in love with this cream sauce.


I saw this recipe on a blog called Oh She Glows.  Angela has hundreds of vegan and vegetarian recipes, and while I love my meat, she sure does know how to make her lifestyle sound tempting.

I don't think I will ever make an alfredo sauce again. So not necessary.


Shopping List  (Serves two, original recipe from Oh She Glows)
Half a box of whole wheat thin spaghetti or pasta of choice
1/2 lemon
1 avocado
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 garlic cloves
1 bunch of parsley (or herb of choice, Angela used basil) *optional
Salt and Pepper

1. Bring salted water to a boil in a medium sized pot. Add in your pasta, reduce heat to medium, and cook until Al Dente, about 8-10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, make the sauce by placing the garlic cloves, lemon juice, and olive oil into a food processor. Process until smooth. Now add in the pitted avocado, herbs, and salt. Process until smooth and creamy.

3. When pasta is done cooking, drain and rinse in a strainer and place pasta into a large bowl. Pour on sauce and toss until fully combined. Garnish with lemon zest and black pepper. Serve immediately. Makes 2 servings.

Serve immediately.  Dish does not reheat well due to the avocado in the sauce.

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Cherry Rum Drunken Donuts

I am so excited to share this post with you,  I've been patiently waiting all week!

I have to give full credit for this idea to my fiance who is always thinking out of the box, and in this case the jelly donut box. 

These are little powdered munchkin donuts filled with cherry jello, spiked with rum.  Wouldn't these be adorable for a brunch with the ladies or a bridal shower?  Drunken Donuts!


Not only are they pretty, but they taste amazing. I had to hold back from eating too many! After all, they are donuts, buzz inducing donuts!


Look at that gorgeous color. You could use any color jello, or any kind of alcohol (amaretto and grape would be delicious!)

Another plus, this is a very inexpensive party treat, it's about $7 for a box of 50 donut holes, not bad at all!

I am home sick today, I don't know if it's allergies or if I have a cold but I can't stop coughing and my throat is on fire. I'm thinking these drunkin donuts might be just what I need to kill that cough!

Shopping List
24 donut holes (any kind works but I prefer the classic powdered)
1 small box cherry jello
1 cup spiced rum
1 cup water

1. Boil cup of water, add jello packet and stir. Let cool slightly

2. Pour jello and 1 cup rum into a spouted cup (a measuring cup usually works)

3. Peirce a hold in donuts, deep but not all the way through. I used a meat thermometer to poke the holes. 

4. Place donuts on a cookie sheet with the hole side up, carefully pour the jello mixture in to the holes, letting them fill. Fill once and repeat. Remove donuts from cookie sheet and place on another clean cookie sheet. Some jello will spill outside the holes and you don't want it to solidify on the outside.

5. Refrigerate for 2 hours and serve!

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Shamrock Jello Shots for St. Patrick's Day

Being that I am the jello shot queen and all, I knew I had to  make jello shots for the most drunken holiday of the year, St. Patrick's Day!

I looked all over for shamrock cookie cutters that would work for shots like these, but they were all too big.   Jello shots should be bite sized.

And then (light bulb) I got it!  So easy! 

If you have a heart shaped cookie cutter or mold, you can make your own little clovers or shamrocks. The hearts just form together.


I used a mold (a gift from a lovely aunt) for these because I couldn't find my mini heart cookie cutter. I think I lost it in the move. But either will work.

I also used gummy worms for the stem, but of course a day later saw green Pull and Peel Twizzlers that would have worked better.



Shopping List (This should make about 2 dozen hearts which is 8 shamrocks)
2 boxes green jello
2 cups water
2 cups vodka

1. Boil 2 cups of water and then add jello packets

2. Let jello mixture cool a little and then add 2 cups (1.5 cups for firmer shots) of your vodka of choice

3. Pour vodka jello mixture in a thick cookie sheet or pan. Leave overnight to harden.

4. Cut out heart shapes and arrange to form clovers. Cut green gummy worms or licorice to make stem.

Please drink responsibly :) and don't forget to wear green!

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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Jameson and Baileys Cupcakes

I'm a Jameson on the rocks kind of girl.  Hardcore right? Even cooler, I am now a Jameson in a cupcake kind of girl.

This recipe is delicious and just what St. Patrick ordered. The whiskey mostly bakes out, but there is a slight hint of it that sits on your tongue in a buttery way. 


 I know I am missing the beer (Irish car-bomb) but in my opinion you can't taste the beer anyway -- the whiskey is the good stuff. Plus I didn't have any Guinness in the house ;)

However, I did have a box of chocolate pudding on hand that helped to make the cake super moist and fluffy.



I ate one, this one right here actually. (okay maybe I had two) The rest will go straight to work. Right away.


Shopping List (Makes 24 cupcakes)
Jameson Cake
1 box yellow cake
1 box chocolate pudding
4 eggs
3/4 cup coconut or canola oil
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup Jameson

Baileys Cream Cheese Frosting
2, 4 oz.  packages of cream cheese (room temp.)
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup Baileys Irish Cream (add more to liking)

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees. Mix cake ingredients together in a large bowl until smooth. Pour cake mix into cupcake tins and bake for 18 minutes. Let sit until cool.

2. In another large bowl mix cream cheese, powdered sugar and Baileys for frosting. Taste test to liking, adding more sugar or Baileys. Keep in mind too much Baileys will loosen the frosting.

3. Frost cupcakes when cool and serve! Cheers.


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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Crispy Brussels Sprouts with Greek Yogurt Ranch

I made these for my fiances grandparents when they came to see our new place this past weekend.  My favorite part was the Greek yogurt ranch dip.

It has the same creamy ranch taste as a sour cream base, but zero fat and more protein.  Love it. 


I also love the little brussels leaves that break away from the sprout and get super crunchy like a potato chip when you bake them. I scavenge for those before serving!

Salt these sprouts generously and make sure they have a thin coating of olive oil. I can't believe I used to hate brussels sprouts when I was a kid, what was I thinking?



Shopping List (Serves 4-6)1 mesh bag fresh brussels sprouts -- from produce section
1/4 cup olive oil
1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch powder
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (I used fat free)
Salt

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Quarter your sprouts and coat them in olive oil, place them on a thin cookie sheet and sprinkle generously with salt. Bake for about 15-25 minutes. Look for those crunchy leaves to test if they are done.

2. Mix yogurt with about 1 tablespoon of ranch powder and lemon juice. Taste test, add more ranch if you like.

Serve while sprouts are still hot.

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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Avocado Chocolate Pudding

How is it that I have lived 30 years and no one has ever made me avocado chocolate pudding? Forget making it for me, someone could have at least told me  about it.

This pudding is a game changer. I don't even really like pudding, but this stuff ...



IS THE BEST CHOCOLATE PUDDING I'VE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE.

Listen ... I am going to do you a favor and beg you to try this recipe. Especially if you like chocolate (Ericka I am talking to you). I know the avocado sounds strange, but once you taste it, it all makes sense.


In other news, I got a new camera.


We finished moving in to our new place.


And the wedding date is finally set and secure and rapidly approaching.  I'm off to eat some pudding and read my new enormous bridal magazine. Sundays are good.

Shopping List (Serves 4)
1 ripe avocado
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons raw cocoa powder
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
dash of salt

(Other recipes I have seen call for agave nectar instead of sugar or honey,  I personally just don't like the flavor of agave)

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix with a hand mixer until creamy and smooth and serve.

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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Panko Fried Pickles

Pickles.  I love pickles.  Is that wrong?

Yeah, they are pungent and they aren't the most refined food, but they have so much savory flavor and they are virtually calorie free. How can you knock that?


I have yet to make my own pickles, but I've wanted to for awhile. I've seen those blog posts with the cute little mason jars with mini cucumbers marinating in allspice and vinegar goodness. Adorable.

This summer or spring I am definitely making my own pickles.

I lightly fried up these kosher dill babies using the same method that I used for my Bang Bang Cauliflower. They were crunchy and everything I look for in a fried pickle.



I added some fresh cilantro to store bought Hidden Valley Ranch to kick up the flavor.

Shopping List
1 jar kosher dill pickle chips
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup egg whites
Salt & pepper
1/4 cup coconut (or canola) oil

1. Mix salt and pepper into your Panko breadcrumbs in a shallow dish.

2. Set separate bowls aside with egg whites and cornstarch. Dip your pickle chips one by one into the cornstarch, and shake off excess. Then dip into egg whites, and then coat with Panko mixture. Press into Panko to get it to stick.

3. After coating all of your pickles, warm up your oil in a large frying pan and place pickles into hot oil. Turn with tongs making sure all sides are browned. Set on top of paper towels to remove excess oil. Top with more salt. Serve alone or with ranch dipping sauce. .

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