Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving Side Dishes

My mom hosted Thanksgiving this year and I was in charge of some of the side dishes. I usually make the cranberry sauce, and this year I was also making the sweet potatoes and I was trying a new brussel sprout and cranberry dish just for fun. Charlie and Henry shared a cake-pop on the way because we stopped at Starbucks. :)

For the sweet potatoes I was going for more of a savory thing- the marshmallow on top, cinnamon and sugar coated dish that is usually served is so not in my realm of tasty- I would prefer them be spicy actually because they are sweet enough. :) So to kind of appeal to other people's tastes and my own I topped mine with caramelized onions and I think crispy bacon would also be a great thing to add. 

Mashed Sweet Potatoes (serves a lot) 

- 8 Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 Sweet Onion, cut in half, then thin slices
- 6 Tbsp Kerrygold Butter (or coconut oil), divided
- 1/4+ Cup Milk (More depends on what you want for consistency)
- Salt and Pepper
- 4-5 pieces of Bacon (optional)

1. In a large pot, add the sweet potatoes and cover them with cold water, an inch over the top of the potatoes. Add a big pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are fork tender, 8-10-ish minutes once boiling.
2. While the potatoes are cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the bacon until crispy- remove, but leave the grease and add the onions. Chop the crispy bacon into small pieces. If you are not using bacon, add the 2 Tbsp of Butter and the onions. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are brown and soft- about 15 minutes. Chop the crispy bacon into small pieces)
3. Drain and add the potatoes back to the pan. Add 4 Tbsp of Butter and milk. Mash with a potato masher until they are the consistency you want, use more milk or a hand-blender if you want them creamier. Taste for salt and pepper. 
4. Put the potatoes in whatever dish you are serving them in and top with the onions (and bacon too.)


The cranberry sauce I usually make has bourbon in it. If you don't want bourbon, even though the alcohol cooks out, use orange juice like I did this year. :) Charlie LOVED the cranberry sauce- it is a little weird I thought, but I'll take it! 

Cranberry Sauce

- 2 12-oz Bags Fresh Cranberries
- 3/4 Cup Coconut Sugar
- 1 Cup Apple Juice
- 1/2 Cup Bourbon (or Orange Juice)
- 1 Tbsp Orange Zest

1. In a saucepan, over medium-high heat, combine all of the ingredients.

2. Onice it is boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries burst and sauce thickens. About 20-25 minutes. Cool before serving. 


This next dish came about because I always make too much cranberry sauce and so I took some of the fresh cranberries and add them to one of my favorite vegetables. The end result isn't beautiful but I ate half of it in one sitting... oops! Next time I might top them with some pecans or bleu cheese. 

Cranberries and Brussel Sprouts

- 1 lb Brussel Sprouts, de-stemmed and cut in half
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 3/4 Cup Fresh Cranberries
- 3 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
- 2 Tbsp Honey (or Maple Syrup)
- 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
- Salt and Pepper

1. Heat the olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat, add the brussel sprouts and cranberries. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until the cranberries start to burst and the brussel sprouts are tender, about 15-20 minutes. 

2. Turn off the heat, add the vinegar, honey and mustard. Toss to coat and check again for seasoning. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Simple Chocolate Chia Protein Shake

This past weekend was my dad's birthday. I am almost positive he loves my daughter more than he loves me. I am so grateful that my parents spend so much time with her and have such a great bond, because family is so important to me. Charlie helped make his cake with my mom...  the "Perfect Chocolate Cake."

I think I have mentioned my detest for wall balls before...well I got to do 150 of them at a 10 foot target tonight and what a good time that was. CrossFit has a way of showing your weaknesses and, in this case, I also got to get hit in the face with mine, literally. Stupid wall balls- I now must do them all the time. 

To cap off my night I got to have dinner with my friend Kelly, and of course my sidekick was along for the ride. Our conversation got me thinking... one of the worst things my parents could say to me growing up was that they were disappointed in me. They could ground me, take things away, whatever, but saying that was the worst. Now that I am an adult (apparently) one of the worst feelings is someone disappointing me- when you expect someone to do something, say something, or even not do something and they do it... changing who you thought they were and you are just left with disappointment. Ouch. On the way home I was checking my Instagram and I saw the quote, "We met for a reason, either you're a blessing or a lesson." Now I will disagree that sometimes people are both, but I feel like I have been learning a lot of lessons lately. Well played life, well played, I get it- smacked in the face again.  

This shake came out of my need to use up the mass amount of chia seeds I have and also get more protein/calories in my diet. I do better when I can drink my calories. Chia seeds are shown to curb hunger due to their fiber content and contain omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidents. Powerful little things! I have used them in previous recipes like chia seed jam and pudding if you are interested. In the shake if it is not blended well enough they are a little crunchy, but I don't mind that. :)  

Chocolate Chia Banana Protein Shake

- 1 Tbsp Chia Seed (heaping)
- 8 oz Milk (any kind, or water... or chilled COFFEE!)
- 1 Frozen Banana (or less milk and a few ice cubes if it is not frozen)
- 1 Scoop Protein Powder

1. Put everything in a blender (liquid first) and blend on high until smooth. Try it with some frozen strawberries too! 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Peppermint Brownies

Are you done with pumpkin? I'm done with pumpkin. I know that Thanksgiving is still four days away, but I'm over pumpkin recipes... onto other holidays! My friend Ashley suggested I make something with peppermint mainly because she likes peppermint- I don't care for it much, but since I care for Ashley I decided to make a few peppermint recipes. :) I am also done with everything and need a break... Friday I was really planning on getting to the gym and started my day with a little bulletproof coffee... but nope... I was dead. Camille LeBlanc-Bazinet also posted a similar "I'm exhausted" post and it's good to know people like her burn out too. 


Charlie and I have also had quite the week. She is now into make-up thanks to my sister and has been seeking it out. These pictures are one day apart... (sigh.) 

I made these two times in one day and I have two versions for you. Version 1 is more fudge-like and dense, Version 2 is, in my mind, more brownie-like and a bit drier. Both were liked by everyone so it's your call. The only difference is protein powder. Baking powder often contains corn starch- so if you are following a Paleo diet, find one that doesn't follow my note at the bottom, I am going to try just substituting baking soda and I'll make edits as needed. :)

Peppermint Brownies

- 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted 
- 4 eggs 
- 1/2 cup raw honey, melted 
- 1 tsp vanilla 
- 3/4 tsp peppermint (oil or extract) 
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
- 1 tablespoon instant coffee
 - pinch of salt 
- 1 tsp baking powder**
 *** 1 scoop (1/4 cup ish) chocolate protein powder***
 - 1/4 cup enjoy life chocolate chips 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees 
1. Whisk wet ingredients really well. Add cocoa powder a little at a time until smooth. Batter is liquidy. Add coffee and stir.

2. Pour into a greased or parchment lined 8x8 pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Bake 20-25 minutes. 
3. Let it cool completely- I put mine in the fridge for an hour. Cut and enjoy :) store in the fridge. They are better after a day I think! 
*** This would be for version 2... you can omit this and they are more moist ***

** To make your own baking powder use 2 parts Cream of Tarter for every 1 part Baking Soda

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Paleo Spinach and Artichoke Dip

It is really starting to feel like the holidays around here... my autumn candles are burning, I am getting antsy to put up my tree, and it just snowed on my state. Since all the family parties are coming up, I thought I would try out some new dishes to bring around that I don't feel guilty eating- let's be honest, I am going to standing at the cheese table, but I can try to stick to a relatively clean diet. I have also recently discovered Boulder Canyon potato chips- if you haven't heard of them they are potatoes, sea salt and avocado oil, which makes them paleo, right? Either way they are freakin' delicious and come in many flavors including my favorite Vinegar and Sea Salt. 
After making the spinach and artichoke dip once, I re-made it purely to eat an entire bag of chips by myself. This is why I'm single isn't it? :) hehehe... so good!

Paleo Spinach and Artichoke Dip

- 1 10-oz Frozen Package Chopped Spinach, thawed and squeezed
- 1 14-oz Can Artichoke Hearts, drained and chopped
- 1 tsp Lemon Juice
- 1/2 tsp Salt
OPTIONAL- This eliminates the Paleo and Whole30- 1/2 Cup Raw Cheese (divided- 1/2 in it and 1/2 on top- Parmesan?!)

- 2/3 Cup Avocado Oil (or Olive Oil)
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
- 1 Egg
- 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
- 1 tsp Lemon Juice
- 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

1. Make the mayo. Using a lot of strength or an immersion blender, whisk or blend the mayo ingredients until mayo is formed. I just throw everything in a mason jar and blend away- other people like to slowly add the oil, up to you :) 

2. In a mixing bowl, add 3/4 cup mayo (should be almost all of it) and the rest of the ingredients. Mix. Pour into a greased pie pan or 8" by 8" greased baking dish. Bake 20-25 minutes. 

 Before baking (left) after baking (right)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Chewy Granola Bars

I love having help in the kitchen- yes, it slows me down, yes, it makes more of a mess, but pretty soon she is going to be asking for the keys to my car and I will wanting these moments back. My little helped helped me make a dried cherry and enjoy life chocolate chip version :)

These are delicious, I'm not going to lie. One of my testers said they are the best thing I have ever made. I picked cranberries because they are tart, and there is so much sweetness I thought that was necessary. Dried cherries would also work well. I also sprinkled the top of mine with sea salt because I like a salty/sweet combination.  If you want to make these nut-free just omit the pecans and substitute more of the seeds. If these warm up too much they tend to break in half, granola anyone? So I recommend keeping them as cold as possible until you want to eat one, or cutting the bars in half- the colder they are the better they cut, I even put mine in the freezer for a little bit.

Chewy Granola Bars

(Printable Version)

- 1/3 Cup Raw Honey
- 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
- 1/4 Cup Pumpkin Puree
- 1/2 Cup Pumpkin Seeds
- 1/4 Cup Sunflower Seeds (or more pumpkin seeds)
- 1/2 Cup Shredded Coconut Flakes (unsweetened)
- 1/2 Cup Finely Chopped Pecans (or another nut like almonds- to make it nut free just used more seeds)
- 1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries, chopped
- 2 Tbsp Ground Flaxseed
- 1 Tbsp Chia Seeds
- 1/4 Cup Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips (optional)
Sea Salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
1. In a small sauce pan over medium high heat, whisk the honey and oil together. When it just reaches a boil take it off the heat and whisk in the spices and pumpkin.
2. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, with a pinch of salt, and stir in the honey/oil/spice mixture until everything is coated and mixed well.
3. Line an 8" by 8" pan with parchment paper or grease well. Press the mixture into the pan- try to make it as even and compact as possible. Bake for 20 minutes.

4. Let it cool completely and then put it into the fridge for at least 20 minutes or overnight. Cut into 8 bars, enjoy! Store with parchment paper in an air-tight container in the fridge.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Plantain and Beef Stew

Alright, recipe #2 with plantains... found next to bananas at the grocery store. They have the same flavor profile as a banana, just less sugar, starchy-er and require cooking before consumption. 

I bought a lot of stew beef at Costco a little bit ago and it has been in my freezer waiting to be loved in a recipe. I have made traditional stew a few times now and I am just getting a little sick of it. Just when I was worrying it would be taking up space in my freezer a little longer I was reading my Cooking Light Magazine and was inspired to change up one of their recipes to use up my stew beef. I will always admit when my recipe is a version of someone else's, so I will not take credit for this recipe completely- it is a version of Cooking Light's "West African Beef, Plantain, and Okra Stew." I ate mine topped with avocado and hot sauce.

Plantain and Beef Stew

(Printable Version)

- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 1/2-2 lbs Stew Beef, cut into 1inch cubes (bite-sized)
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
- 1 Small, Sweet Onion, chopped
- 4 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 1/2 tsp Ground Coriander
- 2 tsp Ground Cumin
- 1 Large Sweet Potato, peeled and diced
- 3 Cups Beef Stock, low-sodium
- 1 (28-oz) Can Crushed Tomatoes
- 2 Large Green Plantains, cut in half and sliced

1. Pre- Heat a large dutch oven (or pot), over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp of oil and half the beef. Sprinkle with salt and cook until browned on all sides, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the pan. Do the same with the other half of beef. Remove the beef again, and reduce the heat to medium. I always put the beef in the container I am going to store the stew in to save dishes. :)

2. Over medium heat, add the onion, garlic and a splash of beef stock. Cook a few minutes until the onion is translucent and the browned bits are coming off the bottom.

3. Add the spices and cook 30 seconds. Add the remaining ingredients, except the plantains, but including the beef and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low or medium-low and simmer, covered, 25 minutes.

4. After 25 minutes, add the plantain and cook, covered, another 25 minutes. Check for seasoning and enjoy! The soup will thicken a little when it sits because of the plantains.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Chicken and Plantain Salad

This is me today. I know it means I can go home after work and do the things I need to get done and play with Charlie, but I really like working out and I would rather do that. :) I am also not particularly sore so taking a rest day, even though I realize they are beneficial, when I am not sore and motivated to train is hard. Also, personally and work-wise the past week has been rough, making it even harder to not train because it makes me feel so much better about life. It's the time I can focus on something else, hang out with my friends, and lift heavy shit. 

My next two recipes are featuring plantains... I am not really sure why I wanted to use them so much lately, but I am always up for trying new fruits/vegetables. Plantains are only eaten after they are cooked, which is pretty much why they are differentiated from bananas- they are usually found next to the bananas in the grocery store. I use the green ones because when they start to turn yellow they seem to be too sweet in the recipe. They don't break down and become mushy like a banana, but have the same flavor profile and contain more starch and less sugar. Adding some hot sauce, cumin or cayenne would also be tasty... I'm a fan of heat though. :) I'm also not into a ton of sauce, so some of you might want to double that if you are!

Chicken and Plantain Salad

  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil (or avocado)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large Green plantains (they can be slightly yellow), peeled, cut in half and diced
  • 1 lb cooked and shredded chicken (about 2 Breasts or a whole rotisserie chicken)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2-3 Cups Cabbage (I used Savoy), roughly chopped
  • 2 Green Onions, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoon raw honey
  • 1-2 Tbsp Lemon Juice

1. In a large skillet over medium high heat, add the oil, garlic and plantains. Sprinkle them with salt and cook until they are crispy and brown on the outside.
2. While they are cooking, whisk the dijon, lemon juice and honey in a large bowl or what you are going to store the dish in. 
3. Add the chicken, cabbage, and onions to the skillet. Saute until the cabbage is slightly wilted.
4. Pour chicken/plantain mixture into the bowl with the dressing. Toss to coat. I have eaten this cold, at room temperature, and warm... your choice! I also sprinkle a little more salt and green onions on top.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Cauliflower and Spinach Crust Pizza

I live on a tree-lined street with lots of tall, old, Oak Trees. It is beautiful right now... problem is there are so many leaves! Ugh! Good thing Charlie loves when I rake, she thinks it is a blast even though I am panting and sweating and tearing my hands...ok they were torn from bar muscle ups, but still, it didn't help. :)

I have been wanting to try cauliflower crust pizza because people rave about it, but I was struggling to find a recipe without cheese in the crust. It took me a few tries and some pizza burned to the pan but I think my version turned out pretty good. I added spinach to the crust just to get some more vegetables in it. I am not going to lie, Charlie ate the kielbasa off of it and didn't even try the crust. It is a little labor intensive, but the key is to squeeze the water out- without squeezing as much as you can get out it turns out mushy. My pizza in this attempt was not paleo, but a little raw cheddar cheese was needed because I like cheese and I don't care. 

Cauliflower and Spinach Crust Pizza

- One Head of Cauliflower
- 1 10-oz Box Chopped, Frozen Spinach
- 2 Eggs
- 1 tsp Italian Seasoning
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Pepper
- 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

1. Chop the cauliflower into florets. Using a food processor, pulse or chop the florets until they resemble rice. I had to do mine in more than one batch. Pour the "rice" onto a parchment lined baking sheet, or a glass baking dish (grease.)
2. Roast the cauli-rice for 20 minutes. The top will get that "roasted" color.

3. While the cauliflower is cooking, defrost the spinach. Using either a tea towel or cheese cloth, ring the water out of the spinach.
- Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees when you pull the cauliflower out -

4. When the cauliflower is done, put it in the tea towel with the spinach. Let it cool a few minutes, then ring out as much water as possible... the drier it is, the crispier the crust. You should have at least a cup of water- use those muscles! It is "done" being rung-out when it sticks together like a ball. During this process I stop, break it apart in the tea towel and then ring it out again.

5. Add the remaining ingredients and mix. Press the "dough" onto a baking sheet about 1/4 inch thick. Bake 20 minutes until the edges are brown and it is crisping on the bottom.

6. A this point you can top it with items you don't plan on cooking, or top it and bake again until the toppings are melted or done.

Friday, November 7, 2014

"Take-Out" Chicken

Preparation for the CrossFit Open started this week... I am sore...that is all. :)

I am calling this "take-out" chicken because it reminds me of the fried sweet and sour/general Tso/orange chicken I always got at Chinese Restaurants or to-go when I was in college and dinner wasn't served on Sunday nights. It is actually a compliment because I loved that stuff. This chicken is pan-fried in avocado oil, which has a high smoke point making it pretty ideal for pan frying, and is delicious. People from the box said it was the best thing they had eaten that I have made (Rudy's birthday is tomorrow so maybe I can call it a present??) ...that may have been because they were hungry, but I'll take it. The eggs right before the frying make that fluffy coating you get at the restaurant. I burned some pieces but that was actually better because they were still so crispy out of the oven. I ate mine with brown rice, because like I've said before, I am not trying to lose weight and sometimes you just need the carbs.
Mara said it was a little spicy, so I have added a second version....

“Take- Out” Chicken 

- 1 lb Chicken Breasts (3-4 breasts), cut into 1 inch cubes
- ½ Cup Arrowroot Powder
- 2 Eggs, whisked
- Salt and Pepper
- ¼ Cup Avocado Oil (or coconut)
 - 1 lb Broccoli, cut into florets

Sauce- Version 1- Spicy
- ½ Cup Coconut Sugar
- 1/3-1/2 Cup Hot Sauce (I used Frank’s)
- 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
- ¼ tsp Red Pepper Flakes
- 1 Tbsp Water

Nutrition Facts
Servings 4.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 482
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 18 g27 %
Saturated Fat 1 g4 %
Monounsaturated Fat 1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 158 mg53 %
Sodium 783 mg33 %
Potassium 433 mg12 %
Total Carbohydrate 45 g15 %
Dietary Fiber 3 g12 %
Sugars 26 g
Protein 32 g65 %
Vitamin A23 %
Vitamin C173 %
Calcium9 %
Iron11 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.
Sauce- Version 2- Not as Spicy
- ½ Cup Coconut Sugar
- 1/4 Cup Hot Sauce (I used Frank’s)
- 1/3 Cup Pineapple Juice... plus extra pineapple chunks added to the dish if you want! 
- 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
- ¼ tsp Red Pepper Flakes
- 1 Tbsp Water

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees
1.       Whisk the sauce ingredients, set aside.
2.       Toss the chicken in a bowl with a pinch of salt and pepper and the arrowroot powder.
3.       Heat the oil in a skillet over medium (or medium high) heat, depending on how hot your stove gets. A few pieces at a time, toss the chicken in the egg mixture (I used my hands), drip off extra, and drop them into the skillet. Turn once or twice so they are puffed up and crispy on all sides (it doesn't have to be cooked through.) Remove from the pan and put them on a paper towel lined plate to catch excess oil.  I did my chicken in two batches so as not to over crowd my pan.

4.       Add the chicken to a large, greased baking dish. Pour the sauce over the chicken and bake for 30 minutes, or until the sauce is thickened. If the chicken loses its “crispy” use the broiler for a few minutes at the end.
5.       Cook the broccoli while the chicken is in the oven. I steamed mine, but roasted would be good too.
6.       Toss the chicken and broccoli in the sauce and enjoy.  

This was all that was left of mine, I was hungry.