27.4.14

Healthy Pina Colada Smoothies



I have a confession to make. Remember when I told you about Panama? And how we all slept together in a room with bunk beds with limited running water? That was all true. What I didn't tell you was that my last day in Panama was spent like this:


After leaving the compound at 2:00 in the morning so that some of our group members could make their early morning flight out of Panama City, and after a particularly harrowing 2 hour van and then taxi ride (in which both my friend and I thought we were either (a) being kidnapped and ransomed for money or (b) going to be flung out of the car and into oncoming traffic) we arrived at our hotel in Panama City. Our flight didn't leave until the next morning, so we thought we'd have the whole day to sight see around Panama City.   Instead, exhausted by our morning's misadventures, we proceeded to eat an enormous brunch and pass out by the pool with the best pina coladas. 


A traditional pina colada is made with heavy cream, coconut cream, or coconut milk, all of which are extremely delicious but high in fat. To get the coconut flavor in these, I used coconut water, (kind of like these smoothies from way back when) and to get the creaminess factor I used vanilla Greek yogurt. 

I didn't add rum because I'm, uh, studying, but if you want to make a healthy alcoholic version of these, add a shot (or two) of your favorite rum and maybe swap out the Greek yogurt for some vanilla frozen yogurt. 

Adam's been grilling outside a lot lately (which I love!) so I used some grilled pineapple that I froze. Regular frozen pineapple is all you need though. 


When I'm sipping on one of these, I like to pretend I'm still relaxing by the pool in the sunshine instead of inside having daily meltdowns about how much I don't know about Con law. 

One can dream…..


Healthy Pina Colada Smoothies


Ingredients:
2 cups fresh or frozen pineapple*
3/4 cup coconut water
1 5.3 ounce container of vanilla Greek Yogurt (or slightly less that 2/3 cup)

*You can grill it or roast it beforehand to boost the flavor. If not using frozen pineapple, add a few ice cubes into the mix

Directions: 
Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. 

Makes 2 servings. 


20.4.14

Stupid Easy Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies


Stupid easy cookies?

They're a thing.

One bowl. Dump everything in and stir. Bake. Done.

Chewy peanut butter and oat cookies with dark chocolate and sea salt. What else do you need?


[side note--Don't you think Adam has a potential career as a hand model? Look at those nail beds!]


I love this little cookie dough dispenser. It helps me make uniform cookies and controls my impulse to make ridiculously large ones.

The first time my sister and I made chocolate chip cookies from scratch, we very carefully rolled the dough into large balls and placed them on the cookie sheet. Then my mom walked in and said, "Whoa, those are some big cookies!" Soooo we redid them. Lesson learned. [i.e. the smaller the cookies the more you can eat.]


I'm in exam-studying mode, which usually means whining/miserable/I'm not cooking or cleaning anything mode. If I can make time for these cookies, you can too.

[Seriously, look at those hands!]


I love this recipe because it's so versatile. This first time I made it, I only used 1/4 cup of oats. They just melded right in with the peanut butter. Adam didn't even believe that I put oats in that batch! The second time, I used 1/2 cup oats. They were more noticeable and created a chewier/denser cookie, which I enjoyed. Adam didn't seem to mind those either though…

I've also tried both semi-sweet and dark chocolate chips. Both are good. Sea salt sprinkled on at the end is a must.

Also, when the cookies are hot out of the oven, I like to press a few more chocolate chips into them, just for good measure.


These cookies are a little sweet, a little salty, a little soft, a little crumbly, imperfectly formed but also really, inherently good. 

Kind of like us. 


Exam season for me in the past has been a time of major self-doubt, comparison, and dejection. 

I'm trying to keep those feelings in check by remembering, especially today, how very blessed I am. 

Wishing you a peaceful Easter, friends.


Stupid Easy Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
(optional) rolled oats--for chewier cookies, use 1/4 cup, for crunchier cookies, use up to 1/2 cup
1/2 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
sea salt

Directions: 
Preheat oven to 350. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray

In a medium bowl, combine peanut butter, sugars, vanilla extract, egg, and oats. (I like to use a fork to mix everything together) Add chocolate chips.

Drop tablespoon-sized balls of dough onto cookie sheet, then use a fork to press down each cookie. (Press down once in once direction, and once in the opposite direction)

Sprinkle cookies with sea salt.

Bake for 8-10 minutes. (8 minutes for softer cookies, 10 minutes for crispier cookies)


Don't tell me you don't want one.

13.4.14

Mixed Potato & Kale Au Gratin


I'm in the mood for something cheesy. Are you in? 

Let's do layers. 

Taters first. 

We're gonna combine red potatoes with sweet potatoes, because we like a little sweetness and some extra nutrients. 

Also, we're not peeling the red potatoes because it's "rustic." (This is also how I justify my hairstyle most days….) 


Then kale, the king…er queen of vegetables. Yes, it's trendy, but it's so good for you. 

Also, we're salting and peppering each level as we go, for flavor. 


Then, CHEESE. Big pieces of Gruyere and Parmesan. Because we can. 


More taters. 

Perfection=overrated. Just pile em' on. 


Then, the really good stuff. 

Creamy bechamel sauce and more CHEESE.

Yessss. My life is complete. 


We're baking it for 50 minutes or so until our layers have morphed into bubbling cheesy perfection.

Try to restrain yourself while the smell pervades your kitchen. 


BEAUTY!  I think you need a close up of that cheese. 

(You're welcome.) 


Each bite has texture from the kale, sweetness from the sweet potato, starchy goodness from the red potato, and tangy gooey yumminess from the CHEESE. 

It's impressive, but easy. Healthy, but still a little indulgent. 

This would be an ideal side dish for a big family meal. Maybe with your Easter ham next weekend? 


Go forth and eat your veggies. 

Mixed Potato & Kale Au Gratin 


Ingredients:
1 sweet potato, peeled and very thinly sliced
5 small red potatoes (or 1 large baking potato), very thinly sliced
1 bunch kale, cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1/2 of a sweet onion, minced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk (I used 2%)
pinch of nutmeg
salt & pepper 

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400. Butter a 9 by 13 casserole dish. 

In a small saucepan, melt butter and then add onion. Saute for 3-5 minutes or until onion is soft. Add flour and stir until it resembles a thick paste. Gradually add the milk, whisking continually. Continue whisking over medium-high heat until the sauce has thickened. Add a pinch of nutmeg, salt and pepper, and then keep on low heat while you prepare the other ingredients. 

In a saucepan, heat half a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the chopped kale. Saute for 2-3 minutes or until just wilted. Place kale onto a dish towel or paper towel and wring to remove moisture. (You may have noticed that I used fresh kale above, but after cooking, it released some liquid.  You don't want that!)

Now you're ready to assemble!

Place a layer of potatoes on the bottom of the casserole dish. Add salt and pepper. 

Next, add all of the kale, then the cheese.

Add the rest of the potatoes and more salt and pepper. 

Then pour the creamy béchamel sauce over everything and top with the remaining cheese.  

Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 400 for 25 minutes. Remove foil and cook for an additional 25-30 minutes or until cheese is golden and bubbly. 

Enjoy!


**Notes
  • To make this gluten free, (and skip the step of making the béchamel sauce) you can also substitute 2 cups of half and half or heavy cream. Decadent, but probably worth it!
  • Alternatively, you could try making the béchamel sauce with gluten free flour.



6.4.14

Tacos with Crispy Chickpeas, Avocado Slaw & Feta


Some ingredients are just meant to be together. 

Chickpeas + feta + lemon. 

I also happen to think that if you add some avocado to the mix, you've got the perfect balance of flavors & textures. (like this salad I'm still obsessed with.)

 

Great tacos need something

savory (chickpeas) 

 creamy (feta cheese)

crunchy (avocado slaw). 

The crunchy avocado slaw is my favorite part. It's super flavorful, super easy, and super delicious. 


These tacos are perfect for a quick weeknight vegetarian dinner, and the roasted chickpeas are also a satisfying, protein-rich snack.

This is definitely an unusual combination of ingredients, but I've got my boxed-macaroni-and-cheese-oreo-poptart-loving-husband eating these tacos, so I think you and yours will enjoy them too!


Tacos with Crispy Chickpeas, Avocado Slaw & Feta

Avocado Slaw


Ingredients:
1 large ripe avocado, mashed
juice from one lemon
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1/2 head green cabbage, finely chopped.
pinch of red pepper flakes
dollop of green jalapeño sauce
salt & pepper

Directions: 
In a small bowl, combine mashed avocado, lemon juice, and red onion. Stir briskly and let sit for about 5 minutes.

Pour avocado mixture over cabbage. Stir to combine. Add red pepper flakes, green jalapeño sauce and salt & pepper to taste. 

*This is best to eat the day it's made!


Crispy Roasted Chickpeas


Ingredients:
1 can chickpeas
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt & pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450. Prepare a cookie sheet by covering with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

On the baking sheet, combine chickpeas, spices, and olive oil. Use your hands to ensure chickpeas are evenly coated in oil and spices.

Bake for 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir the chickpeas around. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 7-9 minutes or desired crispiness.

Tacos


Ingredients:
avocado slaw
crispy roasted chickpeas
crumbled feta cheese
corn tortillas

Directions:
Warm corn tortillas in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. Fill with slaw, chickpeas and feta. Enjoy! 

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