Monday, September 24, 2012

Mug Brownie (Vegan)

You're either going to love me or hate me for this post. Love me because it's soooooo delicious, so good and so quick. Hate me because it's addicting, and not very high up there on the healthy factor.  But hey, you can't be 100% all the time.  A girl's gotta have her chocolate once in a while!

Brownie in a mug is the perfect treat for one (or 2) when you've got an intense craving to satisfy, or you don't want to make very much.   I've tried a few "mug" recipes and I really absolutely love this one.  The brownie comes out nice and moist and has a deep chocolate flavor.  NO cake-like brownies here!

This is vegan only because there is no dairy or eggs, but don't let that fool you, it has one of the best flavors in a brownie that I have tasted!

Mug Brownie
 2 Tbsp. coconut oil
4 Tbsp. brown sugar
pinch salt
splash of vanilla
2 Tbsp. almond milk
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
4 Tbsp. flour
(Optional: tiny splash rum extract OR tiny pinch cayenne pepper and cinnamon)

Melt coconut oil in mug of choice.  You only need to microwave it for about 10 seconds or so, it melts pretty easily. Add sugar, salt and vanilla and stir well.  Add milk; stir.  (You don't want to add the milk with the coconut oil because it will harden back up since, so add it after the sugar is mixed in.) Add cocoa powder and flour and stir well.  Microwave for about 45-70 seconds, or until cooked.  Time will depend on your microwave and your mug.  I used 2 different mugs; one was done at 45 seconds, the other, closer to 75.  Check as you go, starting at about 45 seconds. Enjoy!

SOURCE: Adapted from Industrious Justice

Monday, September 17, 2012

Split Pea Soup with Curried Brown Butter

So, just as I was hanging on to summer with my last post, I'm stepping into fall with this one!  I just love soups in the fall.  Not only are they a vehicle for an incredible amount of nutrition, they just warm you body and soul!

I know it's not technically fall yet and the weather is still reaching the mid 80's, so I take  chose the coolest day of the week last week (85 I think) to make this soup.  I was kind of holding my breath because I had no idea the kind of response I would get from my girls-it's green and kind of thick and maybe looks like something Shrek would eat (according to my kids anyway). Well, actually getting them to take the first bite was the hardest because they actually loved it! I was kind of in shock-not that it wasn't delish though, just that they ate it.

This is an absolutely delicious rendition of the simple split pea soup I ate as a child. Cooking the veggies in coconut oil really adds depth of flavor and gives it just a hint of coconut-divine!  You won't be sorry about the curried brown butter either-I mean who doesn't love brown butter? And the curry is the perfect spice for the peas.

I served the soup up with a sourdough baguette, but just about any other artisan loaf would be delicious as well.

Split Pea Soup
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, ghee, or extra-virgin coconut oil

1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 cup carrot, peeled and chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

5 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 1/2 cups green lentils or green split peas, picked over and rinsed
 1/2 cup coconut milk

Curried Brown Butter
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 tablespoon curry powder

Combine the 2 tablespoons coconut oil, onion, carrot, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a large soup pot over medium heat, stirring regularly, until the onions soften, a couple minutes. Add the vegetable broth and lentils and simmer, covered, until the lentils are tender. This usually takes 20 to 30 minutes, but can take as long as 50 minutes.

In the meantime, warm the 3 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and let it brown. When it starts to smell nutty and fragrant, stir in the curry powder and sauté until the spices are fragrant, less than a minute.

When the lentils are finished cooking, remove from the heat, stir in the coconut milk and 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and puree with an immersion blender. You can leave the soup a bit chunky if you like, or puree until it is perfectly smooth.

Stir in half of the curried butter, taste, and add more salt, if needed. Serve drizzled with the remaining curried butter.

SOURCE: Adapted from 101 Cookbooks, originally from Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Every Day.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Zucchini Bites

I know I'm totally hanging onto summer with this post, but I know there are some of you out there that still have zucchini coming out your ears and need something to do with it besides make bread....for the tenth time!

I love that each of these is one perfect little mouthful. You can pop them almost as mindlessly as chips or tater tots, but feel no regret because they are totally healthy!

These haven't quite yet made it to the dinner table because they are just do darned good to snack on, but they would make a great addition to any dinner menu!

Zucchini Bites
Yields 24

2 cups finely shredded zucchini, water squeezed out
2 eggs
1/2 cup whole grain or panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, finely shredded
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/4 cup onion, finely diced
4-6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a mini muffin pan with cooking spray.

Squeeze as much water out of the zucchini as you can, otherwise it will become soggy.  Place everything in a mixing bowl and either stir with a spoon, or you can use your hand and give it a few good squeezes through your fingers to get it all nice and mixed up.

Using a tablespoon, or I like a small cookie scoop best, scoop mixture into prepared pan and bake for about 15-18 minutes or until slightly golden. Remove to a cooling rack and cool completely.  Enjoy!

SOURCE: Adapted from The Curious Country Cook

Friday, September 7, 2012

Peaches and Cream Steel Cut Oats

My friend introduced me to steel cut oats this year and I am forever in her debt! I love them as well as my family. We eat a lot of oatmeal anyway, but since we don't really buy boxed cereal, it's nice to have a variety of hot cereals to eat, especially with fall and cooler temps just around the corner.

One thing I love about steel cut oats is that although it does take longer than rolled oats to cook, you can cook it once, then eat it the rest of the week. I love to portion it out into little bowls with lids and pull a couple out each time we want to eat it. It's pretty perfect for those school mornings when you don't have 25 minutes to make breakfast; you can just pull it out of the fridge, warm it up and you're good to go.

I love to flavor my oats with fresh fruit. It add delicious flavor and extra nutrition to an already healthful breakfast. In this recipe, I have pureed the fresh peaches because my kids have a thing about chunky-things-in-food, but you could easily just chop and mix them in.

Peaches and Cream Steel Cut Oats
1 cup steel cut oats
3 1/4 cups water
pinch of salt
2-3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 cup full fat coconut milk
1/2-1 cup pureed fresh peaches
1 tsp. vanilla

Toppings (optional): diced peaches and walnuts

Bring water and salt to a boil. Stir in oats. Reduce heat to about medium and cook about 25 minutes or until desired tenderness, stirring every few minutes to prevent sticking on the bottom of the pan. After 25 minutes, remove oats from heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Return to heat for another minute or two. Serve warm or divide into smaller portions and refrigerate for later consumption.

Monday, September 3, 2012

End-of-Summer Smoothies

Not having my computer is totally killing me. My husband has a MacBook Air, which I have been using a little but I don't like it. I can't wait to get my own laptop back! I just couldn't wait another second to post though, I know it's been sparse the past few weeks. I've got not one but TWO wonderfully delicious end-of-summer smoothies to share with you today. Have a great holiday!!

This first smoothie was born out of necessity. Like, howmagonnauseupallthosepeaches my mom just gave me (from her tree)? I know, what a problem right? I knew I liked peaches and blueberries in my green smoothies, but had yet to try them in just an all fruit smoothie (something my girls would more likely like and finish). So, my first trial was a big score, didn't have to change a thing. It was absolutely love at first sight.

Fresh peaches at their peak are the most wonderful thing in the world to eat. I crave them every summer and am always very sad to see them go. If you can get your hands on some before they're gone, you gotta give this a try!

Blueberry Peach and Basil Smoothie
1 cup frozen blueberries
2 fresh, ripe peaches, peeled if you prefer and pitted
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup almond milk
about 4 fresh basil leaves

Put everything in your blender and whiz away!

I couldn't get this next smoothie out of my mind after I saw it. I think I made it that very day. Watermelon is another one of those quintessential fruits of summer that only lasts so long. So we gorge ourselves on it while it lasts then bid farewell until next time.

This smoothie is also paired with basil. I know you're thinking really??? c'mon here! Not more basil. But, seriously, don't underestimate the basil. It adds flavor and life to so many things. It's a subtle flavor that just knocks your socks off. If you're really not a fan, fresh mint would actually be a great substitution.

This is a super refreshing smoothie with the watermelon and cool cucumber. No need to add any extra liquid because the fruit is already full of it.

Watermelon Strawberry and Basil Smoothie
2 heaping cups watermelon
1/2 cup cucumber
1 cup frozen strawberries
3-4 fresh basil leaves

Put it all in your blender and whiz to you liking. Slurp away.


SOURCE: Watermelon smoothie from My Green Diet
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