19.4.15

Healthy Exam Studying Snacks


Hi! I don't have a real recipe for you today, but I do have four healthy exam studying snacks.

I'm not always the best about eating well during law school exam studying. I usually start the week with high expectations on my personal health and hygiene.

But……let's be real.  By day three you can find me pulling my dirty hair up in a bun, wearing the same stretchy pants that I've worn for three days straight, scouring the pantry for Girl Scout Cookies.

The more of these healthy snacks I have on hand, the more likely I am to reach for them instead.


Popcorn is an easy snack and SO good for you if not doused with butter.  I wish I could say that I make homemade popcorn, but the microwave kind is still our go-to method.   I like mine plain with salt. Adam likes to add cajun seasoning. I once saw Ina Garten make microwave popcorn for guests with truffle oil and fresh parmesan, so go crazy if you like.


Remember these cocoa cinnamon roasted almonds? So good, especially when paired with some dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips.  The protein and fat in the almonds also keeps you full for late night studying.


Frozen edamame!  These are majority addicting but filled with healthy fiber. Microwave for a few minutes and you're good to go. Like our popcorn, I like my edamame with sea salt, and Adam likes his with cajun seasoning.


This is my newest snack obsession--dates with almond butter. Just cut a date in half, remove the pit, and slather on some almond or peanut butter.

These taste like dessert, but are totally healthy.  A few chocolate chips sprinkled on top is REALLY good too, errr not that I know anything about that….

Other healthy studying snack ideas:

Do you already eat any of these snacks? What are your other go-to healthy snacks?

12.4.15

Easy Crockpot Black Beans & Rice



Really simple recipe coming at you today, friends.

Simple and cheap.


You might think it's hard to get any cheaper than a can of beans, but the truth is, dried beans are even cheaper.

Like me, you might be thinking that the whole soaking process is more effort than it's worth.  It's not, I promise.  And, even better, you can skip the soaking process by cooking your dried beans in the crockpot!

I had never cooked with dried beans until a few weeks ago when I made Deb's baked chickpeas.   The recipe called for dried garbanzo beans, and, at Deb's urging, I gave them a try.


The only forethought required was covering the dried beans in water the night before.  On the night of, I just drained the beans, added more broth and water, brought them to a boil, and baked them for 45 minutes.  I noticed a big difference in the flavor and texture of the beans.

Same thing with these dried black beans in the crockpot--great texture and flavor, and you get to control the salt content and avoid that weird liquid found in canned black beans…


Beans and rice are a comfort food for me, and I think they are for a lot of people.

Besides the initial morning prep work, this could be a really easy weeknight meal.  Throw everything into the crockpot in the morning. When you get home from work or school, start the rice, and add the spices to the beans.  Prepare your toppings (salsa, avocado, cilantro, shredded cheese, etc) and you're ready to eat.

The whole meal will put you back $10.00, max.  I think that leaves room in the budget for a beer….


Crockpot Black Beans


Ingredients
1 pound dry black beans
6 cups water
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 medium onion, outer layer removed and cut in half
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Rinse beans thoroughly in a colander. Pick through and remove any broken pieces.  Add beans, water, garlic, and onions to slow cooker.

Cook on low for 7-8 hours.  About an hour before you are ready to eat, add salt, cumin, chili powder, and cayenne pepper.  If at any point the beans look too dry, add more water. This would also be a good time to start on the rice.

Before serving, remove large pieces of onion and garlic if desired. (Their flavor has already infused the beans.)


Rice


Ingredients:
1 cup brown rice
~1 1/2 cup water or broth
1 can fire roasted tomatoes with green chiles
salt & pepper

Directions:
Pour juices from can of tomatoes into a large glass measuring cup.  Add enough water to reach 2 1/2 cups.  Add liquid mixture and reserved tomatoes to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil.

Add rice, cover, and reduce heat to low.

Cook for 45-55 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Suggested Toppings:
  • salsa
  • sliced avocado
  • shredded Monterrey Jack cheese or crumbled queso fresco
  • chopped cilantro or parsley
  • hot sauce
  • shredded chicken

5.4.15

Yellow Texas Sheet Cake with Chocolate Frosting


I have been showing my love to Adam through desserts for as long as we've been together. (Which will be ten years later this month!)


The first summer after we started dating, he came to our family's 4th of July cookout.  Knowing his love for oreos and cheesecake, I decided to make him an oreo cheesecake. It was a mammoth thing, with an oreo cookie crust, dense cheesecake filling, and layer of sweetened sour cream, all covered in chocolate ganache. It weighed about seven pounds. My mother, also a devout lover of dessert, still talks about it. 


When we sat down to eat dessert, I excitedly cut Adam an ENORMOUS piece. He says it was a third of the cheesecake, but that's an exaggeration.  Poor Adam, who was nervous about making a good impression on my family, felt like he had to eat the whole slice.  He very nearly did, and felt sick for hours afterwards.  He's never let me cut his piece of cake since. 


I haven't, however, stopped making him elaborate desserts for his birthday.  A fews years after the oreo cheesecake, I made him a reese's cup cheesecake.  Over the years, I've also I made him a peanut butter layer cake with chocolate frosting,  a yellow layer cake with chocolate ganache, and naked chocolate layer cake with chocolate buttercream and peanut butter frosting.


This year, I obsessed about his birthday cake for weeks.  He gave up sweets for lent this year--for the first time ever--and though his birthday is 2 days before Easter, he wanted to wait until Easter to eat his birthday cake. I wanted to make one that would knock his socks off, but everything I suggested, he nixed.   German chocolate cake?  No.  Six-layer chocolate cake with salted caramel ? No.


Those are too complicated, he insisted.  "Just make me yellow cake from a box with canned chocolate  frosting."

"Are you kidding me?" I gasped, "Who do you think I am?"

(Nothing against boxed cake mix. I've eaten a lot of it in my day and probably will in the future.  But when you're a foodie and it's your person's birthday, a boxed cake just doesn't cut it.)


He eventually settled on a homemade yellow sheet cake, served with Texas sheet cake-style fudgy chocolate pean frosting.

It was simple, and delicious, and what he really wanted all along. The yellow sheet cake was moist and buttery, and a perfect accompaniment to the rich (no fuss!) chocolate frosting.


This is all a lesson for me I suppose.  First, I need to be a better listener, and second, love doesn't have to be shown through towering layer cakes or grandiose gestures.

A simple sheet cake, and everyday acts of love, are just as good.

Hope you have a blessed Easter, friends!



Yellow Texas Sheet Cake with Chocolate Frosting


Ingredients:
For the cake:
non-stick cooking spray or butter, for greasing the pan
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 8 ounce carton sour cream
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs (or 2 jumbo eggs)
3/4 cup buttermilk

For the frosting:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
4 tablespoons unsweetend cocoa powder
6 tablespoons evaporated milk
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans

Directions: 
For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 13 by 9 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray or butter.  Line with wax paper. Grease again with non-stick cooking spray or butter.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat together butter and sour cream. Add sugar and vanilla extract and beat to combine, followed by the eggs.  With the beaters on medium speed, alternate adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk.  Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

For the frosting:
Add butter, cocoa powder, and evaporated milk to a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Stir until butter is melted, then remove from heat.  Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, whisking continually.  Add vanilla extract and pecans and stir to combine.  Pour warm icing immediately over cake. Dig in!

Notes:

  • This birthday cake easily serves 10 people.
  • Skip the pecans if you'e not a fan of nuts.
  • I've used the buttermilk substitute many times before, but this is a recipe where I really recommend using the real thing. It adds a wonderful flavor to the cake.
  • Cake will be good covered and kept at room temperature for 4-5 days.  


Cake recipe adapted from Cooking Light
Frosting recipe from Joy the Baker's cookbook

29.3.15

Acai Bowls with Wild Blueberries, Bananas, & Almond Butter


Have you heard about acai bowls?

It's basically a thick smoothie served in a bowl and topped with fresh fruit, granola, coconut, or other super foods.

Acai bowls started in Brazil, where the acai berry is grown.  Over the last few years, they've migrated north and are now popular in Hawaii and Southern California.


They're colorful and beautiful and therefore have grown widely popular over instagram.

While I don't necessarily love the idea of eating beautiful food just so you can post it to instagram, I do believe in beautiful food.

Growing up, we often had fruit salad with dinner.  My sister, ever the artist, would create the most beautifully arranged fruit salads.  Yes, it took time, and yes, it didn't make the fruit taste any different, but it made the average weeknight dinner a little more special.


Adam and I gave up sweets for Lent, and as a result, we've been eating a lot more fruit.  This acai bowl is delicious as a healthy dessert or for breakfast when topped with granola.

You can find the frozen acai packets at Whole Foods and other specialty grocery stores.  Though I loved this acai bowl, I can't say that my grad school grocery budget will allow this to be a regular occurrence.  In the future, I'll probably substitute the frozen acai berries with frozen blueberries or blackberries.  Either way, it's a fun way to mix up your smoothie game, enjoy pretty food, and get some major vitamins and antioxidants!


 Acai Bowl 


Ingredients:
1 3.5 ounce frozen acai packet
1/3 cup almond milk
1 date
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 banana
handful frozen berries
Toppings:
sliced banana
frozen berries
chia seeds
shredded coconut
almond butter

Directions: 
Add frozen acai packet, almond milk, date, and vanilla extract to food processor. (If you don't have a high-powered food processor, you may need to chop up the acai packet into smaller pieces or let thaw slightly) Pulse until smooth.

Pour into a bowl. Add toppings and enjoy!

Serves 1. Can be easily doubled.

Other topping ideas:
  • granola
  • peanut butter
  • strawberries
  • hemp seeds
  • flax seeds
  • bee pollen (?)
  • chocolate chips
  • sliced almonds
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