Wednesday, April 16, 2014

High Fiber Chocolate Cereal Nests #BunnyTrail #Easter

I know, I know, you've seen these things all over Pinterest, all over Facebook. I have, too. They are omnipresent this time of year. But this was my and my son's first time actually making them; I thought you might be interested in my very-slightly-healthier take. So, bear with me.

I replaced the "chow mein" noodles you usually see in this recipe with some of Trader Joe's High Fiber Cereal (basically TJ's version of Fiber One). We used good-quality Belgian milk chocolate and a bit of coconut oil. I mean, this ain't health food. It's not even real food, whole food, slow food—or any of the other healthful foods I usually share here. But this dessert is easy, not super junky, and ridiculously cute. Tasty, too!

yield: six nests
  • about 3 oz. good milk chocolate
  • 1 to 1 1/4 cup High Fiber Cereal
  • about 1/2 tsp. coconut oil
  • 12-18 chocolate eggs

Melt chocolate and oil in a double boiler or the microwave. Stir until very smooth. Fold in the cereal until it is fully coated with the melted chocolate. Divide the mixture evenly into a six-cup silicon muffin pan (see note below if you don't have this pan). 

Using a spoon, push the mixture up on the sides so that the middle of the nest is a bit hollowed out. Place two or three chocolate eggs in each nest, pressing them gently into the melted chocolate so they stick. I used Cadbury Mini Eggs because they are pretty and perfectly speckled and delicious. Too delicious. I can't believe I even let them in my house, they're so delicious and tempting and AAARRRGGGHHH!

OK, let me compose myself. Ahem. Refrigerate the nests for at least 15 minutes, until the chocolate has hardened. Once the nests have set, you can push up the bottom of each muffin reservoir—this is why the silicon pan is handy—to carefully release the nests. Store the nests in an airtight container at room temperature.

NOTE: If you don't have a silicon muffin pan, you can just spoon the chocolate/cereal mixture onto a cookie sheet covered in wax paper; shape them into mounds and press the center a bit so it can hold the eggs.

We had these as an early Easter treat when my son's buddy came over today to decorate eggs. 

The chocolate nests were a sweet and adorably messy way for the kids to celebrate together.

Definitely making another batch of chocolate nests for the kids at Easter Sunday dinner! And then I'm definitely cutting out sweets for a while...

Happy Easter, friends!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Chocolate Almond Butter Smoothie #avocado #Vitamix #vegetarian

I've been ratcheting up my exercise lately, adding in a lot more strength training, trying to get stronger and leaner. I'm kickboxing a couple of times a week (in addition to the spinning and hiking I already do) and I can't tell you how good it feels to punch and kick that heavy bag—talk about getting out your aggressions!

However, I do feel my body craving more sustenance. And I find this creamy smoothie to be great for that: not only does it offer protein but also fiber, potassium, iron, calcium—even folate and vitamins C and K from the avocado. 

And, in case you're worried, you won't taste the avocado. You'll just get its wonderful creaminess and healthfulness.

But make no doubt about it, this smoothie is also loaded with calories, about 600. Now, that's great for those of you who are pregnant or breastfeeding and need extra calories; or those who need to support tough fitness regimens; or for kids who need to gain some weight. This is a delicious, nutrient- and calorie-dense real food. For those who are watching their weight, though, this should be viewed as a meal replacement—not a snack! Or you can do what I often do and split this smoothie into two servings; I drink half before my workout and half afterwards.

yield: 16 ounces

  • 1 cup milk or plantmilk
  • 1/2 Mexican or California avocado, like Hass (preferably frozen in chunks)
  • 1 1/2 T raw cacao or unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 T creamy almond butter
  • 1 to 1 1/2 T honey 
  • pinch of sea salt

Blend until smooth. It will be very rich and thick. See how my straw stands up in it? 

Who wants a sip?

Monday, March 31, 2014

#Crockpot Honey Sriracha Chicken Wings @PompeianOils

I've never made chicken wings in my life. I'm really more of a Buffalo Cauliflower Bites gal. I like wings just fine; I have them maybe once or twice a year. But I'm not a wing fiend, like so many people seem to be. My brother-in-law is one of those people. He and his family recently moved and we offered to bring some food so I figured I should finally try my hand at wings!

I was inspired by this recipe for Sriracha Honey Wings made in the slow cooker. The idea of using a CrockPot blew my mind! I know pub wings are usually done in the deep fryer; I don't do anything in the deep fryer, it's too messy and, well, frightening to me. I'm a wuss like that. But tossing the wings in a slow cooker with some sauce and just letting them cook away...that is up my alley. Big time.

The Slow Roasted Italian's recipe served as inspiration but I made some changes. I opted for balsamic vinegar instead of lime juice—limes are crazy expensive right now and I'd just received a nice bottle from Pompeian. I also wanted to incorporate some more Asian flavors, so I tossed in soy sauce, ginger and garlic. 

serves 4-6
  • 2 Tbl butter (coconut oil or ghee would also work well)
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup sriracha
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (I used low-sodium)
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar 
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 24-30 chicken wing pieces, drumettes and tips (about 3.5 pounds)
  • sesame seeds and thinly-sliced scallion greens, to garnish (optional)

Set your slow cooker to high and put in everything except the chicken. Once the butter is melted, stir all the ingredients together. Then add the wings and toss, making sure they are all coated in the sauce. Cook on high for 3 to 4 hours.

Carefully remove the wings (they will be super tender and falling off the bone!) from the CrockPot and place on a large, foil-lined sheet pan. Pour the sauce from the slow cooker into a small pan on your stovetop and boil to reduce it. I used my little silicone brush to baste my wings a few times while the sauce was reducing. Once the sauce has reached the consistency you'd like, brush your wings with it. Put the sheet of wings under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes, until they are well caramelized.

Serve with sesame seeds and scallions.

NOTE: For the record, these have a little kick but are not super spicy. My husband poured additional sriracha right on top of his wings, because he pours some sort of hot sauce on pretty much everything he eats. If you want your wings to be hot, you might want to baste the chicken with some straight sriracha before you put the wings under the broiler.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Mushroom Bourguignon #MeatlessMonday

Well, Spring is technically here but it sure doesn't feel like it; it's a brisk 22 degrees today here in New York. So, while I'm daydreaming about summery foods like gazpacho, I'm still craving hearty dishes that warm my body and soul. When my friend Nisreen of Sweet Box Treats posted this recipe for a Vegan Mushroom Bourguignon, I felt compelled to make it immediately.

As I read the post, I saw that it was adapted from this version from Smitten Kitchen, one of my favorite food blogs. I knew it had to be good! My version is a combination of these two recipes.

serves 4-6
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 pounds sliced cremini mushrooms (aka "Baby Bellas")
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 cup pearl onions
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup full-bodied red wine
  • 2 cups beef or vegetarian broth
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp herbes de provence
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • Brown rice, for serving
  • Chopped chives, for garnish

You can follow the step-by-step instructions here.

A few notes:
  • I rarely buy pre-chopped veggies—I actually find chopping and slicing kind of meditative—but I did opt for the pre-sliced cremini this time. It made the prep for this meal much quicker and I was in a rush.
  • I used thawed, frozen pearl onions. Much easier than peeling all those tiny onions!
  • I asked my local wine seller for a recommendation for a wine that was inexpensive, but would work well in this dish; he recommended a Cabernet Sauvignon that was under eight dollars.
  • I used vegetarian stock because I was making this dinner for a vegetarian friend; I think a beef broth would provide an even richer flavor.
  • I served this stew over brown rice, but you could certainly use any other cooked grain or egg noodles.

Bon appetit!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

#Crockpot Chicken Vegetable Soup w. Dill

Is it totally ridiculous that I'm posting a chicken soup recipe on the first day of spring? I hope not. Although today is supposed to be mild (finally!), after the winter we've had I don't doubt that we'll still see some cool weather. And, at any rate, I like chicken soup all year-round. 

Truth be told, though, I've been meaning to post this for a while and have just been lazy about it. But yesterday my son's buddy was sick and I offered her some of the soup I'd just made; her mom asked me for the recipe. It was the perfect impetus for me to finally write up a post!

This soup is easy. It's super hearty, thick with vegetables. And this soup is incredibly flexible—I never make it exactly the same way twice. I simply use what I've got on hand. I might use vegetable stock instead of chicken broth. If I don't have parsnips, I'll use extra carrots. Or sliced leeks instead of chopped onion. If I've got a zucchini handy, you'd better believe it's getting diced and tossed in the slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients. And if my chicken breasts are frozen, it's no biggie: you don't even need to thaw them before throwing them in the Crockpot with everything else. See, I told you this was easy!

Zucchini made it into this batch.

serves 8

  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • 2-3 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 large stalks celery, diced
  • 2-3 small parsnips, peeled and diced
  • 8 cups chicken broth (if using prepared, opt for a low-sodium version)
  • 2 skinless chicken breasts 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons dried dill
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • grated parmesan (optional)

Place all the ingredients in the slow cooker with some salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low for about six hours; the vegetables and chicken should all be tender. 

Remove the bay leaf and discard. Take out the chicken and, with two forks, shred into bite-sized pieces; if you used bone-in breasts, discard the bones and return the meat to the Crockpot. Taste the soup and add salt and pepper, if necessary. Cook for about another hour.

Just before serving the soup, add dill.

I do add noodles to this soup. I cook fine egg noodles in a separate pot of boiling salted water—I don't like noodles cooked in the soup because they tend to get overdone and mushy. Once the noodles are cooked, I spoon a portion in each bowl and just ladle the hot soup over them. Top with grated parmesan—trust me, it's delicious! Oh, and if my family is lucky, I'll make a batch of popovers to round out the meal. Because I'm awesome like that. (Sometimes.)

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