Thursday, March 28, 2013

Green Juice

I did a cleanse a few months ago and I was very happy with how I felt afterwards.  That being said, I am not ready to do the intense 3 day cleaning anytime soon, but I have been drinking the green juice on a daily basis.  I feel like it offsets all of the other junk I put into my body and it gives me the vitamin/antioxidant boost that I need to stay healthy.  Despite the off-putting color, it tastes fresh and it has a subtle sweetness. My husband takes one to work and the kids like it too.  I have the Breville Fountain Juicer and it works like a dream.

Maybe I'll consider the full cleanse after I finish my Easter brunch ;)

Green Juice
5 ribs of celery
1 cucumber, halved
2 large green apples
3 kale leaves
1 lemon
1 handful parsley
3 romaine leaves
1 handful spinach

Juice the ingredients and drink. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Carrot Cake Pancakes

It snowed again.  It is March 25th and it snowed again.  It should be 60, sunny, and daffodils should be popping up all around our yard.  Instead there is snow. Cold, icy snow.  

Fortunately for me and my seasonal depression, we had some great neighborhood friends over for a warm and cozy brunch.  I had been perusing easter-ish recipes and thought these would be an excellent addition to the menu - and WOW, was I right!  I think the Easter bunny might swing by our house twice if we leave these out for him.  

**  I made a double batch of the cream cheese topping - and I have been putting it on EVERYTHING...seriously, everything. 

Carrot Cake Pancakes - Smitten Kitchen

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts (optional, I skipped them)
2 tablespoons golden raisins (optional)
1 large egg
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups finely grated carrots
3 tablespoons butter, for griddle

Cream cheese topping
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Dash of ground cinnamon

Place a rack in the upper third of your oven and preheat to 200°F. This will keep the pancakes warmed as they’re fried in batches.
To make the pancakes: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and, if using, nuts and raisins. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, brown sugar, buttermilk and vanilla. Stir in carrots. Stir carrot mixture into dry ingredients, stirring until just Incorporated. Let rest for five minutes while you make the cream cheese topping.

To make the cream cheese topping: In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese until fluffy and lump-free. Whisk in powdered sugar, two tablespoons milk, vanilla and cinnamon. 
Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a cast-iron skillet or griddle pan. Spoon 2 tablespoons batter into the hot pan per pancake, flipping once, until pancakes are golden on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer finished pancakes to a serving dish or tray in the oven, to keep warm while you repeat the process with the remaining batter, adding more butter as needed.

Serve warm with cream cheese topping.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters

These cookies represent the marriage of my 3 favorite cookies; oatmeal, choco chip and peanut butter.  The result is a crunchy, hearty and satisfying cookie.  It may be wise to make a double batch, because they disappear quickly.        

Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters 
From Baking, From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan 

3 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature 
1 cup peanut butter

1 cup sugar
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs

1 tsp pure vanilla extract 
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chunks, or 1 1/2 cups store-bought chocolate chips or chunks (I used chocolate chips)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
Whisk together the oats, flour, baking soda, spices and salt.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter, peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition, then beat in the vanilla.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients, beating only until blended. Mix in the chips.

If you have the time, cover and chill the dough for about 2 hours or for up to one day. (Chilling the dough will give you more evenly shaped cookies.)
 If the dough is not chilled, drop rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto the baking sheets. If the dough is chilled, scoop up rounded tablespoons, roll the balls between your palms and place them 2 inches apart on the sheets. Press the chilled balls gently with the heel of your hand until they are about 1/2 inch thick. 

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back after 7 minutes. The cookies should be golden and just firm around the edges. Lift the cookies onto cooling racks with a wide metal spatula - they'll firm as they cool.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Mint Chocolate Chip Cheese Cake Brownies

Happy St. Patricks day! This weekend we had several parties to attend and I wanted to bring something festive to share and I found this AMAZING recipe from one of Jenny's favorite blogs, Sally's Baking Addiction. (Who doesn't love brownies with green beer!?)  They were such a hit, that I made them again today so we could have our own little celebration. The chocolate and mint combination is perfect and creamy and the dessert still has sufficient fudginess to be considered a brownie.  Her post explains how she perfected this recipe and has great pictures so make sure to take a look.

1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mint Cheese Cake Layer
8 oz cream cheese softened/ at room temp
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1/4-1/2 teaspoon peppermint
3 drops green food coloring
2/3 cup mini chocolate chips

1. Prepare 11 x7 pan by spraying with oil. Set aside. In a double boiler, heat butter and chocolate stirring constantly until completely melted. Set aside and let cool to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Once chocolate mixture has cooled, stir in sugar. Next whisk eggs in one at a time until smooth. Whisk in vanilla.  Fold in flour and salt until just combined. Pour 3/4 mixture into the prepared baking dish. Set the remaining batter aside.

3. Beat cream cheese with a hand mixer or the whisk on a standing mixture. Add in sugar, egg yolk, peppermint and food coloring. Once all combined and at desired peppermint strength stir in the chocolate chips by hand.

4. Dollop spoonfulls of the cream cheese mixture on top of brownie mixture followed by the remaining amount of the brownie mixture. Lastly with a knife, create a swirl patter throughout brownie mixture and sprinkle chocolate chips on top if so desired.

5. Bake brownies for 40-50 minutes, until a tooth pick comes out clean. Cheers!

*** On Sally's website, she says to only bake them for 30-35 minutes. I found that it took much longer, closer to 50 minutes until a tooth pick would come out clean. They are still the perfect texture as well. Pay close attention after the 35 minute mark***

Friday, March 15, 2013

Nutella Granola with Cherries and Almonds

I have become slightly obsessed with Nutella. It may have to do with the fact that I do not consider Nutella to be a "sweet" (which I have given up until Easter). My rationale is as follows; Nutella = hazelnut spread, which is similar to peanut butter & almond butter. I do not consider peanut butter to be a sweet, so Nutella shouldn't be either!  This granola really is a treat (not a sweet) and the antioxidant rich sour cherries and protein packed almonds make this a satisfying, healthy and delicious snack.

2 cups of old fashioned oats
1/2 cups dried tart cherries
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup Nutella
1/3 cup maple syrup or honey

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix oats, cherries and almonds in a bowl.  Set aside.  Put maple syrup and Nutella in a microwave safe bowl and cook for about 30 seconds. Stir until smooth (you may need to melt the mixture for a few more seconds).  Pour Nutella/syrup mixture over oat  mixture and stir until oats are evenly covered. Spread mixture onto a cookie sheet covered with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.  Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.  Let granola cool for 30 minutes before storing/eating.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Cinnamon Apple Vegetarian Chili

My Aunt made us this chili last year and I was surprised how delicious and hearty a vegetarian chili could be!  The chili is jam-packed full of nutrient rich vegetables, and the addition of apples gives it a little extra sweetness.  Try serving the chili over brown rice or quinoa and make sure to add a dollop of greek yogurt on top.

1 can black beans
1 can kidney beans
2 can pinto beans
4 potatoes chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
4 zucchini cut into 1/4 inch slices
4 tomatoes chopped
3 cups of frozen sweet corn
3 onions, chopped
3 apples, diced
3 Tbs chili powder
3 Tbs cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp crushed red pepper
salt to taste

Combine beans, vegetables, apples & spices in a large chili pot.  Bring to a simmer.
Lower heat to the lowest setting possible, cover and let simmer for 2 hours.  Stir every 15-30 minutes or so. If the chili is to watery after it simmers down leave the lid off to let some liquid cook off.
Serve over rice/quinoa, and top with greek yogurt.

Thanks AJ!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

We might be "springing" forward tomorrow morning, but in Denver today there is a blizzard and spring looks no where in site.  Luckily, I was able to sneak to the store early enough to make a delicious tomato soup, courtesy of Ina Garten (recipe in her new "Foolproof" cookbook).  I am a sucker for grilled cheese and tomato soup, so when I saw Ina's recipe for Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons it sounded perfect for a snowy day. The soup has orzo in it, making it more filling than traditional tomato soup and the saffron adds a nice kick. My favorite part of making our feast, was cutting up grilled cheese sandwiches into 1-inch cubes and sprinkling them on top.

Serves 4 to 6 

3 tablespoons good olive oil
3 cups yellow onions, chopped ( 1 1/2 onion)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
4 cups chicken stock
1 28-ounc can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
Large pinch of Saffron threads
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup orzo
1/2 cup heavy cream or whole milk
Grilled Cheese Croutons

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 15 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Stir in chicken stock, tomatoes, saffron, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in a medium pot and add the orzo. Cook for 7 minutes (it will finish after adding it to the soup), drain and add to the soup. Stir in the cream, return soup to a simmer and cook for 10 more minutes, stirring frequently.

Cook grilled cheese on a separate pan. Ina suggests using Gruyere cheese, but use whatever you prefer. After grilling allow to rest for 1 minute and cut into one inch cubes. Sprinkle on top.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Homemade Lara Bars - Cashew Cookie

I have been enjoying the no-bake energy balls Bridget posted so much, that when I saw the recipe for the Cashew Cookie Lara Bar on "100 Days of Real Food"  I thought I would give them a try.  You use MedJool Dates as a natural sweetener and only 2 other ingredients, Cashews and Peanut Butter.  They are the perfect on-the-go snack, and Yes, my girls love them. Hattie actually helped me make them instead of taking her nap today (argggg). I feel much better giving them these as a snack vs. other processed snacks, and they are just as convenient!

1 cup Medjool dates, pitted
1 cup raw cashews
¼ cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon water

Combine dates, cashews, peanut butter and water in a food processor and puree until mixture starts to stick together. Add a little more water if necessary to help mixture come together.
Pick up date mixture and using your hands work to squeeze it together into one big clump. Mash it down on a cutting board or sheet of wax paper to form into one even rectangle shape using the sides of your hands (or a knife) to make the edges straight.  Slice into 12 even squares. For best results store in the fridge, although bars can be kept at room temperature.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Almond Poppy Seed Muffins

It is hard not to like the sweet & nutty flavor of almond poppy seed, which is precisely why it has been a favorite of mine since childhood.  Despite my long love affair with this flavor combo, I had only made these muffins from the box mix, until yesterday, when I couldn't find the mix at the grocery store. I found this recipe online and tweaked it to make it a little healthier (took out butter and added greek yogurt).  The muffins turned out moist and delicious.  Sorry, Krusteaz, I am going to make these on my own from now on.

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp poppy seeds
1 cup granulated sugar
8 Tbsp butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 1/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup greek yogurt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and poppy seeds, set aside. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, attached with paddle attachment, blend together butter and sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add in eggs and almond extract and mix until blended. Measure out milk into a liquid measuring cup then whisk sour cream into milk. Working in three separate batches beginning and ending with flour mixture, add flour mixture alternating with milk mixture to batter and mix on low speed just until combine after each addition. Divide batter among 12 paper lined muffin cups (in a non-stick muffin tin), sprinkle slivered almonds evenly among muffins and bake in preheated oven 16 - 18 minutes until lightly golden and toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Apple-Bacon-Cheddar Mac'n'Cheese

Apparently 6+ inches of snow in March requires a delicious pant popping meal like this one.  When I saw bacon + apple + cheddar I knew it was a winning combo, and now I am so full, I can hardly think.  This is a family friendly recipe - good for all ages unless of course you do not like bacon, apples or cheddar and then you'd just be crazy.

Apple-Bacon-Cheddar Mac'n'Cheese - (Rachel Ray)

6 slices bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 granny smith apples - peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 leeks - white and light green parts thinly sliced crosswise, rinsed well and drained
1 pound elbow macaroni or shells
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
3 cups milk, at room temperature
8 ounces sharp white cheddar, coarsely shredded (about 2 cups)
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees . In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat, stirring frequently, until crisp, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate. Pour off all but 1 tbsp. fat, add the apples and cook, stirring frequently, until browned and beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Place the leeks in a colander in the sink. In a pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta until al dente, 4 to 5 minutes; drain in the colander with the leeks to soften them.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk; cook until smooth and thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add 1 1/2 cups cheese and a generous sprinkling of pepper; whisk until smooth.

In a bowl, add the pasta and leeks, the sauce, apples and parsley; toss well. Reserve 1/4 cup of the bacon. Add the remaining bacon to the pasta; toss. Season with salt and pepper.
Divide the pasta among four 16-oz. baking dishes, top with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese and bake for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with the reserved bacon and serve hot.