cake decorating 101

gorgeous, show-stopping cakes don't have to be stuck in the pages of a magazine, on pinterest or in the display case of the local bakery.  with a little practice and a whole lot of enthusiasm (and sprinkles) they are well within reach of any home baker!

ice cream cone-cupcakes for helena's birthday - so cute and easy!

ice cream cone-cupcakes for helena's birthday - so cute and easy!

i recently cashed in 5,000 hard-earned whole foods rewards points and took a private cake decorating class with my sister at our local market - and yes, it was just as fantastic as it sounds.    

as you can probably imagine - as anyone who has ever made a cake and attempted to decorate it definitely can imagine - we learned some super valuable tips.  oh we learned the basics for sure, like how to create that perfectly smooth base layer, pipe borders and shapes and which tips are perfect for each specific application and of course, how to create flowers! you know those gorgeous roses and peonies that grace the tops of so many cakes and cupcakes?  turns out they actually aren't all that difficult to make!  with the proper tools which are, as sarah (our super rad instructor) assured us, available on the cheap at any local craft store  (think jo-ann fabric or michaels), anyone with the desire to do so can have the equipment  to create homemade pastry masterpieces.  or something to that effect, anyway!  

a work in progress...

a work in progress...

some backstory...  a few months ago i volunteered to create the cake for our other sister's baby shower, and after hours and hours spend scouring pinterest for inspiration - and creating an impressive 'pretty cakes' board - i decided, rather optimistically as it turned out,  to make a 4-layer, pink ombre cake (plus 3 different flavors of french macarons). 

baby shower pastry display...

baby shower pastry display...

the experience of creating those treats, and having them on display for family and friends was surprisingly eye-opening.  that cake wasn't easy, and even though the time spent was completely, 100% worth it, at the end of the day i was completely burnt out.  the mere thought of cake-decorating was slightly panic-inducing. 

that was why this class came at the perfect time.  that and the fact that it was a few months after the baby shower, and my passion for pastry had thankfully returned!

those blobs of sprinkles on the side were intentional... right...

those blobs of sprinkles on the side were intentional... right...

because it turns out that the most valuable lesson i learned at that cake-decorating class wasn't how to achieve that perfectly smooth, flat frosting base, or form flawless flowers with the tip of a piping bag.  it was that all of those pictures of ridiculously gorgeous cakes on pinterest and in magazines are not nearly as simple or effortless as they seem.  that there are teams of people and really, really good photographers spending a whole lotta time behind the scenes creating those perfect images, and that the final product came after many, many fails.  that even professional bakers make mistakes that are easily concealed by extra sprinkles, chocolate curls or clouds of fluffy whipped cream.  

the finished product...

the finished product...

once you let go of the expectation that you have to create something perfect, the experience ceases to have even the slightest tinge of resentfulness or negativity and just becomes fun.  pure cake-decorating, buttercream coated fun, and that's what every experience - baking or otherwise - should be.

i think i could pass that off as a store-bought confection...

i think i could pass that off as a store-bought confection...

turns out that that cake-decorating class was infinitely valuable in more ways than one: not only can i create beautiful, effortless looking pastries, i can appreciate and acknowledge the work that went into them from first-hand experience. and i can't wait to wrack up 5,000 more points, and do it all over again.

triple berry oatmeal cookies

absolutely bursting with fresh berries and chunks of peach, these triple berry oatmeal cookies are the perfect springtime - or anytime - treat!

berries!  what's not to love?  so many different varieties - blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, huckleberries, strawberries... the list is nearly endless - and each with it's own flavors and personality. just like apples in the fall, when berry season comes around i have a really, really hard time resisting the little gems.  i am that person, at the market, squealing with delight when the first berries of the season arrive.  in case you couldn't tell, i'm a pretty big fan.

and now, with berry season in full swing our fridge is stocked, and i mean stocked with berries. what's wrong with that, you might ask? nothing at all, except for the little fact that berries have a very short shelf-life.  they need to be eaten up quick and so, with that in mind hels and i decided to create a sweet treat to showcase the best that berries have to offer.  and no, it's not a pie - although pies are a perfect vessel for berry consumption - or a tart, or a crisp.  we took our surplus of berries and whipped up a batch of cookies.  rich, buttery oatmeal cookies, delicately flavored with vanilla, a hint of cinnamon for warmth and studded with fresh berries and chunks of peach.

not only are these triple berry oatmeal cookies insanely delicious and easy to make, they're incredibly pretty as well.  crushing berries into the  dough gives the cookies a purplish-pink tint, and the whole berries and bits of peach add little pops of brightness and color. perfect for a springtime party, picnic or just as a mid-day snack, these craveable cookies are so sure to please, we dare you to stop at just one!

happy baking!

 

recipe: triple berry oatmeal cookies

yields: 12-15 cookies

ingredients:

  • 3/4 c all purpose flour
  • 1/4 c whole wheat pastry flour (or another 1/4 c all purpose)
  • 1/2 c oat flour (oats ground in the food processor of blender until fine)
  • 1/2 c quick oats
  • 1/4 c brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/3 c butter, softened
  • 1 generous tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla 
  • 1 egg, beaten 
  • 1/2 c fresh blueberries (washed and thoroughly dried
  • 1/2 c fresh raspberries, washed and thoroughly dried
  • 1/2 c fresh blackberries, washed and thoroughly dried
  • 1 small, ripe peach or nectarine, peeled and diced

method:

  1. preheat the oven to 350 & lightly grease a baking sheet (or line with parchment)
  2. in the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, brown sugar and maple syrup until fluffy
  3. add the beaten egg and vanilla, and continue mixing until well combined
  4. in a separate bowl combine the flours, oats, cinnamon salt & baking powder
  5. add the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar-egg mixture and mix until just combined
  6. add 1/2 of the berries and 1/2 of the nectarine/peach to the dough -  they will get slightly crushed but that's a good thing!
  7. gently stir in the remaining berries & nectarine/peach
  8. scoop the cookies onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving a little space between each cookie
  9. bake for 10 minutes - 18 minutes (checking mid-way through) until lightly browned but still soft
  10. remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack

enjoy!

xoxo,

h & s

sausage, egg & cheese breakfast tacos

savory eggs, smoky sausage and sweet sauteed peppers & onions, smothered in melted cheese and tucked into a tortilla - these sausage, egg & cheese breakfast tacos have it all!

ahhh breakfast.  the best meal of the day - to me at least.  at breakfast, anything goes.  sweet, savory, sweet and savory.  whatever strikes your fancy, it'll work and be delicious first thing in the a.m. or, as the case may be, any time of day.  

here in america, we tend to play it safe when it comes to breakfast.  you know, cereal, (avocado) toast, porridge or yogurt.  pancakes, waffles, french toast and biscuits.  eggs, bacon and sausage, that type of thing.  but around the world, the majority of other cultures spice it up - literally.  meats and cheeses, curries and noodle dishes.  greens and grains. one of the most exciting things about travel is learning about new cultures and places through food, and breakfast is always a good place to start.  

these sausage, egg & cheese breakfast tacos take a page from that book, and while we did enjoy them at dinnertime, they make a spectacularly tasty early morning meal.  hearty, cheesy, packed with protein and whole grains.  satisfying, filling and fast, these tacos are guaranteed to keep you going for hours.    

recipe: sausage, egg & cheese breakfast tacos

serves: 2

ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 breakfast sausage patties - we use the vegetarian ones from trader joe's
  • 3 cheese singles - the kind from trader joe's - OR 1/2c shredded cheddar or jack cheese
  • 1/2 onion, finely sliced
  • 1/2 bell pepper (not green), finely sliced
  • 4 small whole wheat tortillas, or 2 large
  • salt & pepper
  • garlic powder
  • hot sauce - cholula brand recommended
  • 1 Tbsp finely sliced scallions, optional
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • canola oil cooking spray

method:

  1. heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-low
  2. when hot, add the onion & pepper and a sprinkle of salt.  cook, stirring occasionally until the onion is translucent and the peppers are beginning to brown.  
  3. remove from heat and set aside
  4. while the onions/peppers are cooking, cook the sausage patties according to package directions (we bake them @ 425 for 10-15 minutes, flipping halfway through)
  5. when the sausage patties are cooked, transfer to a cutting board and roughly chop
  6. scramble the eggs in a bowl.  add a splash of water (about 1 tsp or so), and season with salt, pepper & garlic powder & cholula to taste
  7. coat a skillet with canola cooking spray & heat on low
  8. when the skillet is hot, add the eggs and allow to set for 30 second or so.  cook, covered, stirring occasionally, so that the eggs are scrambled into nice big chunks
  9. when the eggs are cooked, add the chopped sausage patties to the skillet, along with the onions and peppers and stir gently to combine.
  10. top the egg-sausage mix with the cheese singles (or grated cheese) and cover
  11. set the tortillas on two plates.  when the cheese is fully melted, distribute it evenly among the tortillas
  12. top with chopped scallions and extra cholula, if desired

enjoy!

xoxo,

s & h

classic rice pudding

creamy rice, warm cinnamon and just a hint of sweetness - this rice pudding is the perfect quick & healthy weeknight treat!

the other night it occurred to me that helena had never had rice pudding.  obviously that needed to change, because rice pudding is delicious - creamy and sweet with just a hint of cinnamon to warm the whole thing up.  a bowl of cozy goodness.  added to that, she loves all of the flavors involved (especially cinnamon - i mean, the girl can eat the stuff straight up).  decision made - helena was getting rice pudding for dinner.  sometimes you just need dessert for dinner, am i right? 

rice pudding is one of those foods that i rarely eat, but when i do i'm reminded of just how tasty it is, and then wonder why i don't have it more often. tortilla chips are also in that category - yeah, random i know.  i'm sure i ate rice pudding growing up, but it was never in the main treat rotation, and (probably because of that) my memory if it is a bit vague and hazy. 

For some reason i've always thought of rice pudding as one of those old-fashioned, slow-cooked, heavy desserts.  as it turns out that, rice pudding - our recipe, at least - is surprisingly healthy & easy to make - it comes together in under 30 minutes and there's not a bit of cream or butter, and only a generous 1/2 tsp of sugar - what's not to love?  

this rice pudding is classic - nothing to distract from that cinnamon-laced, creamy rice. not even raisins (sorry dad).  nothing but the basics. rich, hearty, comforting and completely craveable.  and the best part?  it comes together in a snap, making it the perfect weeknight treat!  oh yeah, and just in case you were wondering, helena loved it.  

 

recipe: classic rice pudding

serves: 1

ingredients:

  • 1/3 c white rice - we used jasmine
  • 1 1/4 c milk, any kind - we used organic 1% cow milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon - or to taste
  • generous 1/2 tsp sugar - or to taste (maple syrup is also great here)
  • 2 Tbsp raisins, optional

method:

  1. in a small saucepan, combine the rice, milk, salt & cinnamon.
  2. cover, and bring to a simmer over low heat
  3. continue to cook, stirring occasionally until the rice is almost tender, about 10 minutes 
  4. add the sugar and raisins (if using), cover and continue to cook until the rice is completely tender, 5 - 10 minutes more 
  5. if at any point the rice has soaked up all of the milk, simply add a bit more (2 Tbsp at a time)
  6. when the rice is tender, remove from heat and let sit, covered tightly for 5 minutes.
  7. serve & enjoy!

xoxo,

h & s

 

 

 

broccoli, bacon & cheddar croissant sandwiches

crisp broccoli, smoky bacon & creamy cheddar cheese sandwiched in a buttery (multi-grain) croissant. an out-of-this-world flavor combo!

when i was a kid, croissant sandwiches were in the regular meal rotation.  simple, fast and just plain good, they were a definite family favorite.  

regardless of the filling, my mom always used sara lee brand frozen croissants - stored in the freezer, they were on hand when that croissant sandwich craving hit.  nowadays we use bakery croissants - costco bakery croissants, to be specific -  not because we're fancy or anything (um, yeah, they're from costco) but because those classic sara lee croissants are mysteriously hard to find. but the best thing about bakery croissants is that they happen to be larger - no surprise there - and therefore hold a lot more filling, which is a very good thing. who wouldn't want more fresh, steamed broccoli, smoky bacon and cheese - lots and lots of cheese - nestled in that flaky, buttery croissant? 

growing up, the classic fillings were broccoli & cheese and ham & cheese. these broccoli, bacon & cheddar croissant sandwiches are the perfect combination of those broccoli & cheese and ham & cheese sandwiches.  we've simply swapped the ham for crisp bacon & added it into the broccoli-cheese mix.  this is the croissant sandwich of my childhood - remixed & all grown up!

recipe: broccoli, bacon & cheddar croissant sandwiches

serves: 1

ingredients:

  • 1 croissant - multi-grain recommended
  • 3/4 c steamed broccoli, patted dry & chopped
  • 2 strips bacon, cooked & broken into small pieces
  • 1/3c cheddar cheese, grated

method:

  1. preheat the oven (or toaster oven) to 425 degrees
  2. slice the croissant & layer 1/2 of the cheese on the bottom half.
  3. top the cheese with the bacon, and top the bacon with the broccoli
  4. add the remaining cheese on top of the broccoli & cap with the other half of the croissant
  5. put the croissant on a small baking sheet - or piece of aluminum foil - & bake for 5 - 10 minutes, until the cheese is completely melted and the croissant is slightly crisp.
  6. remove from oven & enjoy!

xoxo,

b & h

cheese-stuffed mashed potato cakes

golden mashed potato cakes filled with gooey cheese - these cheese-stuffed mashed potato cakes are the ultimate comfort food - at home or on the trail.

hello, my name is sarah and i'm addicted to instant mashed potatoes.

it all started a few months back when ben & i were watching a documentary about the john muir trail (mile, mile & a half - you should check it out!) - the 211 mile trail that runs from yosemite valley to mount whitney in california, and i turned to him and announced that we needed to hike that trail. clearly he agreed, because here we are, getting really into this whole backpacking thing - gear, different routes, the whole shebang.  and of course, the food. . disclaimer: we aren't hiking the whole thing, just 8 days-worth because, well, a then-eight-year old helena might be a wee bit young for the entire thing.  we'll see, and we're doing it in two years, not now.  but planners gotta plan, and so here we are.  two years out and already testing trail recipes.

funny thing is, i've never been backpacking. as in never, not once.  the closest i ever came was that one time, years ago, when i was awake half the night convinced there was a witch lurking in the tree outside our tent.  turns out it was just a tree. i guess my 22 year old imagination got the better of me (cough, cough). whoops.

so. back to the instant mashed potatoes.  i've never liked real-deal mashed taters - you know, the fresh potatoes boiled and smashed with butter and cream.  no idea why, but they've just never been my thing.  and then ben brought home a package of idahoan brand four-cheese instant mashed potatoes (because they're the perfect trail food) and it was love at first bite.  

i don't know what it is, but there's something about that processed, slightly too salty bowl of creamy goodness that just speaks to me on some basic level.  sure they're a perfectly engineered food product but my whole-grain, veggie loving, avocado obsessed self just needs them.

in my defense, i must add, that in the backpacking world instant foods (i.e. mashed potatoes) are quite the thing, because after hours and hours spent on the trail, there's nothing better than a quick, tasty, filling meal (or so i've heard). instant mashed potatoes are like backpacking gold.

it turns out that helena, despite being a typical 6 year old and all (as in loves chips, fries, candy - you know, the normal processed foods) surprisingly won't touch my beloved instant mashed potatoes. clearly she has better taste than me, because she loathes them, but you know what?  good for her!  more for me!

now our pantry is stocked with all of the different flavors, and since we're having these potatoes at least once a week, i've begun to branch out and actually make them into things.  like these cheese-stuffed mashed potato cakes.  sure, we probably can't make this exact recipe on the trail, but we're not on the trail yet, right? gooey cheese, creamy mashed potatoes. what's not to love? it's the perfect flavor combination. helena still won't touch them, but that's ok because, you know, more for me.

of course you can do the respectable thing and make these cakes with real mashed potatoes. i'll just be over here gleefully stirring my powdered potato mix into boiling water, marveling at the magic of food science.  but regardless of what type of mashed potatoes you choose,  these soft, tender, cheese-stuffed cakes are sure to become a staple in your recipe collection.  on the trail or right here at home.

 

 

 

 

recipe: cheese-stuffed mashed potato cakes

yields: 4 large or 8 small cakes

ingredients:

  • 1 prepared, 4oz package instant mashed potatoes (idahoan 4-cheese flavor used), or 2 c real mashed potatoes, cooled - the potatoes need to be thick, so use less liquid than usual.
  • 2 Tbsp whipped cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 c, packed shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • pepper & garlic powder - to taste

method:

  1. combine the cream cheese & cheddar cheese
  2. add a few grinds/pinches of pepper and the garlic powder to taste
  3. spoon about 1/4 (if making 4 cakes) of the potatoes  mixture into the palm of you hand, and about 1 generous Tbsp of the cheese mixture.  
  4. top with another Tbsp of potatoes and carefully tuck the potatoes around the cheese. cheese into the center of the potatoes, until the cheese is fully encased in the potatoes
  5. set on a plate or parchment lined sheet and repeat with remaining mashed potatoes
  6. set the cakes in the fridge for 30 minutes - the chilled cakes are less likely to fall apart when cooking
  7. when the cakes are fully chilled, heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat
  8. gently transfer the cakes into the hot pan, being careful not to crowd them - we did them in batches of two.
  9. cook the cakes for 3 - 5 minutes on the first side, until they are beginning to brown
  10. carefully flip and cook another 3 minutes on the other side and remove from heat.
  11. serve & enjoy!

xoxo,

s & h

irish soda bread

a bit richer than the classic, this soda bread is dense, hearty and very easy - freshly baked bread in under an hour - what's not to love?

a few years back we spent a week in ireland, and let me just say, we ate a lot of soda bread.  toasted with rich butter and fruity jam at breakfast, sliced thick with wedges of local cheese for lunch.  we really felt like locals, because, you see, people in ireland eat soda bread - and not just on st. patrick's day. 

one of the main reasons why it is so common, is because it's made from basic ingredients that every household has on hand: flour, baking soda, sour milk (aka buttermilk) and salt. nothing fancy, and that's the point.  soda bread was, and still is, easy, quick & inexpensive to make.

the magic of soda bread is how it gets it's rise, and the secret is right there in the name: baking soda.  remember that science fair volcano you made -or saw other kids make - as a kid?  well, the reason you'd get that dramatic "lava" explosion is from the chemical reaction between acid (vinegar, in that case) reacting with baking soda.  soda bread works exactly the same way - the acid (buttermilk, in this case) reacts with the baking soda to form lots and lots of tiny bubbles, causing the loaf to rise.  and the best part?  that rise works all by itself!  no yeast is involved and no yeast = no rise time. result? a risen bread that is made, start to finish, in under an hour.  don't you just love kitchen science?  

science aside, how about a fun morsel of history?  you might have noticed that every loaf of soda bread has a deep cross slashed across the top.  turns out that cross isn't just for decoration, but was originally intended to protect the household and ward off the devil.  who knew, right?

when i was growing up, my mom would - and still does - make soda bread on st. patrick's day. the base recipe uses the classic ingredients, but also contains a scant two tbsp of butter and sugar, resulting in a loaf that is a bit rich, with a hint of sweetness.  if you google 'soda bread', you'll find that the majority of the recipes that pop up will include butter and sugar, and sometimes eggs as well.  

when i started making soda bread i used the traditional recipe (no butter, no sugar, nothin' but the basics ingredients),and it was always tasty. but my mom's recipe was really, really tasty, and so i adapted mine a bit.  a bit of evolution never hurts, right? the result is a tender, dense loaf, with just a hint of richness - still perfect on it's own, slathered with butter and jam, or paired with cheese.  

this soda bread might be a wee departure from the classic, but anyway you slice it, it is just as easy, just as quick, and definitely just as delicious. 

 

recipe: irish soda bread

yields: 1 loaf

ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 c all purpose flour - a combination of 1 1/2c white & 1 c whole wheat pastry flour will work but will yield a much denser loaf - plus extra for kneading
  • 1/2 c buttermilk
  • 3/4 c greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 generous tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • butter & jam, for serving

method:

  1. preheat the oven to 375 and lightly grease a rimmed baking sheet
  2. combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and soda in a large bowl
  3. combine the yogurt and buttermilk & add to the flour mixture
  4. stir the mixture until it begins to form a rough dough - it will look ragged and dry but not to worry, it will come together!
  5. lightly flour a board (or the counter) and turn out the dough
  6. dust the dough lightly with flour and knead until it has formed a smooth ball - about 2 minutes
  7. transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet and slice a cross in the top
  8. bake for 30 - 40 minutes, checking after 30, then again at 5 minute intervals. 
  9. the loaf is done when it is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom
  10. remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack
  11. slice, slather with butter and enjoy!

note: to make your own buttermilk, simply combine 1 c milk - any kind will work, we use almond) with 1 Tbso white vinegar. let sit for 5 minutes, until the milk looks curdled. use as directed in the recipe!

 

xoxo,

s & h    

(vegetarian) philly cheesesteaks

a meat-free take on the classic, this vegetarian philly cheesesteak has all of the flavors of the original - gooey cheese, soft roll, sauteed mushrooms, onions & peppers - and comes together in under thirty minutes. the perfect family-friendly meal any night of the week!

ahhh cheesesteaks. close your eyes and imagine that combo of rich, seasoned meat & melted cheese piled on a hard roll.  now take that image, sub out the meat for a thick pile of umami-rich, slow-cooked mushrooms, onions & peppers and that hard roll (blech!) for a soft baghuette or hoagie roll, and you've got something delicious and so much tastier than the original. you've got this cheesesteak -  a vegetarian version of the classic, with all of the traditional flavors - made totally meat free.  

being from philly, i know a thing or two about cheesesteaks - we had them a lot as a kid, in a variety of different forms. regardless of whether they were store-bought, homemade, calzones, or a pizza piled high with meat, they were always good. but when i became a vegetarian, they were off the table. and that was just a little sad.  i wanted helena to get to experience the classic philly cheesesteak, but hadn't found a good meat-free option. and so, i set out to create a vegetarian with all of the flavors of the original and that's when this cheesesteak was born. 

our vegetarian philly cheesesteak has all of the elements critical to a great, traditional cheesesteak. from the bread (it must be soft and mildly flavored, never hard and crusty), to the cheese (american all the way), to the 'meat' (a combination of thinly sliced portobello, cremini & button mushrooms sauteed with onions and peppers to re-creates the texture and flavors perfectly), this vegetarian cheesesteak is as close to the real thing as it's going to get.

whether you're been searching for a great meat-free cheesesteak, or just want a crazy delicious, messy cheese & veggie sandwich, this vegetarian cheesesteak definitely hits the spot.  

recipe: (vegetarian) philly cheesesteaks

yields: 2 large sandwiches

ingredients:

  • 2 medium hoagie rolls - such as amoroso's - (or 2/3 of a softbaghuette)
  • 2 small or 1 large portobello mushroom, thinly sliced
  • 2 c sliced mushrooms - we use a combo of white button and baby bella
  • 1/2 bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 4 slices american cheese
  • 1/4c shredded mozzarella cheese - optional but recommended!
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder
  • generous tsp olive oil
  • ketchup - for serving

method:

  1. heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat
  2. when hot, add the mushrooms, onions, peppers, minced garlic and a pinch of salt
  3. cook, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms are wilted and all the veggies are beginning to brown.  season with a small pinch of salt, pepper & a sprinkle of garlic powder
  4. while  the veggies are cooking, slice the rolls & place each one on a large quare of aluminum foil
  5. arrange 2 slices of american cheese on each roll, topped with 1/2 the mozzarella
  6. when the veggies are cooked, immediately divide them among the two rolls & wrap tightly in foil (to help melt the cheese)
  7. when ready to serve, remove foil & enjoy!

xoxo,

s & h

cinnamon-roasted apples

these cinnamon-roasted apples might just be the easiest thing you'll ever make.  with just two ingredients, they are the perfect quick snack, breakfast-side or even dessert.

this recipe - if you can even call it one! - is a twist on a snack my sister hilary started making for helena whenever she would babysit.  sliced apples sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar and baked. easy, healthy, fast & full of the flavors of apple pie.  what kid (or ahem, adult) wouldn't love that?  when i started making these cinnamon - apples i found that with the sweetness of the apple itself  i didn't need to add any additional sugar - cinnamon alone was enough.  

the perfect quick snack, these cinnamon-roasted apples are sweet and cozy - and make the house smell heavenly as they bake.  pair them with porridge for breakfast, yogurt for snacks and even ice cream for dessert - or on their own, of course! anyway you slice 'em, they are sure to be a family-favorite in no time! 

recipe: cinnamon-roasted apples

ingredients:

  • 1 apples, cut into 8 wedges (or 8 thick slices) - any kind exceot mcintosh
  • 1/4 - 1/2 tsp cinnamon -  or to taste

method:

  1. heat a toaster oven (or regular oven) to 375
  2. lay the apple slices on a foil lined baking sheet & sprinkle with cinnamon
  3. bake* for 10 - 15 minutes, until the apples have softened
  4. remove from the oven & enjoy!

*these apples can be microwaved - 2 - 4 minutes should do it!

xoxo,

h & s

quinoa stuffed peppers

tender roasted peppers packed with quinoa, veggies & cheese - easy, healthy & on the table in under 30 minutes!

confession: when i was younger, i was not the biggest fan of stuffed peppers. there was something about the combination of meat-rice-sauce baked in a whole pepper that just didn't appeal to my childhood tastes. that said, these quinoa stuffed peppers are definitely not the peppers of my youth.

 the inspiration to switch it up came from watching my friend felice make the  traditional dish.  they looked good, and the general idea of them sounded even better.  stuffed peppers had been out of my mind for years, but seeing the process in action started the creative ball rolling & i knew i had to try and re-create the classic stuffed pepper, with a little spoons twist. 

peppers can be stuffed with anything, and if you think about it, people eat them all the time in the form of jalapeno poppers (those tasty hot peppers packed with cheese, coated in breadcrumbs & deep-fried to spicy, cheesy perfection).  the filling options are endless & can be as meat packed or meat-free as you like. 

this recipe replaces the traditional rice with nutty, fluffy quinoa - the protein and grain (seed, really) - and  using cooked quinoa seriously reduces the oven time.  we decided to crumble in some cooked veggie burgers for texture (and flavor) and round things out with veggies & cheese. and for the peppers themselves?  we opted to roast them (rather than steaming or stuffing them raw), enhancing their sweetness and bringing that slightly charred flavor to the dish.

these quinoa stuffed peppers are a new twist on a classic recipe.  and bonus - they're vegetarian (omit the cheese or use non-dairy cheese to make them vegan) & on the table in under 30 minutes - a family-friendly recipe win if ever there was one!

recipe: quinoa stuffed peppers

serves: 4

ingredients:

  • 2 medium peppers (red, orange or yellow) sliced lengthwise & seeds removed
  • 1/2 c dry quinoa
  • 2 field roast (or fave brand/flavor) veggie burgers, cooked & crumbled/finely chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 mushrooms (button or cremini), finely chopped
  • 3  small potatoes (not russet), finely diced
  • 1 c baby spinach, packed 
  • 1/2 - 3/4c cheddar cheese - sharp recommended
  • 2 scallions, finely sliced - optional
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder

method:

  1. heat oven to 425, grease a rimmed baking sheet lightly with cooking spray
  2. line a different baking sheet with parchment, or lightly grease
  3. place the peppers on the parchment-lined sheet cut side up & roast for 10 - 15 minutes, until beginning to char around the edges.  flip the peppers so that the cut side is down & continue roasting for another 10 - 15 minutes, until soft. remove from oven & set aside
  4. meanwhile, toss the chopped potatoes with a drizzle of oil (or a spritz of canola oil cooking spray), salt & pepper and garlic powder and roast on the greased baking sheet until tender (about 20 minutes), tossing halfway through.  remove from oven and set aside
  5. while the peppers are roasting, cook the quinoa (according to package directions)
  6. heat a medium skillet over low heat & drizzle with olive oil
  7. when the oil is hot, add the onion, mushrooms & a sprinkle of salt
  8. cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms are beginning to brown
  9. add the crumbled veggie burgers, cooked potatoes, spinach and a sprinkle of salt, pepper & garlic powder and continue cooking another 3 - 4 minutes (until the spinach is wilted
  10. in a large bowl, mix the quinoa, onion-mushroom mix,  1/4 c of the cheese & 1/2 the scallions (if using)
  11. pack a 1/4 of the mix into each pepper half & sprinkle with remaining cheese
  12. return to oven and bake until the cheese is melted and the filling is warmed through, 5 - 10 minutes
  13. remove from oven, sprinkle with the remaining scallions (if using),  and serve!

enjoy!

xoxo,

s & h

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pasta with egg & avocado

buttery avocado.  roasted butternut squash.  salty queso fresco.  tossed with hot pasta & capped with a fried egg. balanced, healthy, hearty & craveable - this pasta dish has it all!

this pasta... wow. avocado, creamy egg, sweet, roasted butternut squash & salty cheese tossed with hot pasta.  for such a simple dish, the flavors are out of this world.  

avocado and egg is one of my favorite flavor combinations - the richness of the avocado & savoriness of the egg play off each other perfectly. it's a simple pairing that's classic for a reason - it's just plain good!  

avocado pasta is pretty common - a pureed sauce of avocado, garlic, a touch of lemon and salt & pepper. simple enough and incredibly creamy - perfect for tossing with hot pasta. for this recipe we took that basic concept and built on it, keeping the avocado in larger pieces and adding butternut squash & queso fresco. an egg on top makes the meal complete.  

cheese. everyone loves the stuff, be it the real deal made with milk (from cows/sheep/goats), or vegetarian/vegan versions with a plant/nut base.  when i spotted queso fresco at the market, i (gleefully) snatched it up  and knew it needed to be a part of this pasta.  queso fresco is a mexican cheese that literally means 'fresh cheese'. it is traditionally made from raw cow milk but here in the state's it (like nearly all cheese) is pasteurized. the flavors are intensely light and milky, with a distinctive, mildly salty bite - there is nothing dense or heavy about it - & when it hits the hot pasta it softens, blending with the chunky avocado and roasted squash.   i should note that queso fresco is not a melting cheese, like mozzarella or cheddar.  if you can't find it in your local market or don't want to commit to the large package sold at costco (i hear you - that is a lot of cheese), grated (or finely crumbled) feta or an equal mix of feta and cottage cheese should work as a stand-in.

this pasta with egg & avocado is a must try - even if you're an avocado-mixed-with-pasta sceptic!  one bite & you'll be craving more.  and more...

recipe: pasta with egg & avocado

serves: 2

ingredients:

  • 1/3 box pasta - any shape will work, we used penne
  • 1/2 large or 1 small avocado, cut into small chunks & lightly sprinkled with salt & pepper
  • 1 c roasted butternut squash
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 - 3/4 c grated queso fresco*
  • 2 scallions, finely sliced - optional but recommended
  • oil or cooking spray
  • salt & pepper

method:

  1. preheat the oven to 425 & lightly grease a rimmed baking sheet
  2. toss chunks of peeled butternut squash with a drizzle of oil or a spritz of canola oil spray (we prefer the spray - it tends to coat the squash better) & a sprinkle of salt & pepper
  3. roast for 25 minutes, then toss in the pan & continue roasting for 10 - 15 minutes, checking after 10.  the squash is done when it is easily pierced with a sharp knife.
  4. remove from oven & set aside
  5. heat a large pot of water & cook pasta according to package directions. when the pasta is cooked, drain & set aside.
  6. while the pasta is cooking, heat a lightly greased skillet on low (we use canola spray - again, it coats better - or 1 tsp of oil)
  7. when the pan is just hot, crack in two eggs & sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper
  8. cover & cook until the whites are white (no longer opaque)  - the yolk should still be runny (or cook to desired level of doneness)
  9. spoon the (drained) pasta into two large bowls
  10. immediately toss with the queso fresco
  11. carefully mix in the butternut squash & avocado chunks
  12. top each bowl with an egg & a sprinkle of scallions
  13. serve & enjoy!

note: if you can't find queso fresco & don't have/like feta or cottage cheese, any mild cheese (mozzarella, jack) will work - just make sure to mix it in at the very end, once the pasta has cooled for a few minutes - you do not want it to be fully melted!

xoxo,

s & h

 

(the ultimate) egg & avocado croissant sandwich

egg. avocado. (multi grain) croissant.  this egg & avocado croissant sandwich takes a simple slice of avocado toast to a whole new level!

avocado toast is having a moment.  it is everywhere these days.  i'll admit i was technically fairly late to the avocado toast game. that is, i've adored it for years, ever since i worked at  a bakery in utah. the staff meal was often a hearty slice of fresh bread, slathered with creamy avocado.  an egg on top, a few dashes of cholula hot sauce - for whatever reason it had to be cholula!  i loved that meal - to this day, clearly - but i never knew it was a thing, with a name, a gussied up version of a simple slice of avocado toast. i never called it anything but delicious.  this egg & avocado croissant sandwich is my updated version of that staff meal egg-topped avocado toast, and man is it tasty.

a fresh multi-grain croissant  loaded with rich avocado & topped with a fried egg, crisp veggies & cholula. what's not to like?  the flavor/texture combo just works - creamy, toasty, crisp & fresh.  just a bit hot sauce to bring subtle heat and tang, somehow tying the elements together & making the flavors pop.

this is one sandwich worth getting up for.  or sitting down to savor for a quick lunch or dinner.  it comes together in a snap, is filled with healthy goodness (protein, fiber, nutrients, whole grains) from the avocado, egg & veggies - and that croissant is multi grain, after all ;) - making it the perfect family-friendly meal. 

do yourself (and your family) a favor and make this sandwich.  one bite and you'll see what all the fuss is about!

recipe: (the ultimate) egg & avocado croissant sandwich

serves: 1 (easily increased)

ingredients:

  • 1 croissant - we use multi grain & highly recommend it
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 - 1/2 avocado - depending on size of avocado!
  • 2 - 4 tomato slices - depending on size of tomato!
  • 1 large leaf of lettuce
  • cholula hot sauce
  • salt & pepper

method:

  1. heat a toaster oven (or regular oven) to 400
  2. slice the croissant & toast until the croissant is just starting to crisp. remove from oven and set aside
  3. heat a well greased skillet over a low flame (we use a canola oil cooking spray for this, but butter or oil works just as well)
  4. when the skillet is barely hot, carefully crack in the egg & sprinkle lightly with salt & pepper
  5. cover & cook until the egg white is white (no longer opaque) and the yolk is just barely beginning to set (or to desired level of doneness)
  6. remove from heat & add a few dashes of cholula
  7. using a sharp knife, carefully cut a cross-hatch in the avocado & squeeze onto a board. mix in a sprinkle of salt & pepper & spread on both sides of the toasted croissant
  8. top the bottom half of the croissant with the egg, then the lettuce & tomato
  9. cap the sandwich with the other half of the croissant.
  10. enjoy!

xoxo,

s & h

banana bread trifle

banana bread trifle... layers of banana bread, creamy custard, fresh berries & bananas. deceptively simple, very impressive and delicious - the perfect special occasion treat!

recipe inspiration can come from anywhere...   a beautiful photo on instagram, cookbooks, pinterest - you name it.  a random conversation about classic but (sadly) uncommon desserts with my sister hilary was the inspiration for this particular  - insanely delicious, ridiculously simple - banana bread trifle.  the components?  banana bread - that dense, slightly sweet quick bread laced with vanilla and heavy on the bananas.  vanilla custard - made of two ingredients that come together in a snap. banana & berries - a fresh pop of texture and color to tie the whole thing together.  

once you have the components ready, a trifle is super easy to make. it is, after all, simply layers of cake, fruit & custard/cream.  that said, you can get as complicated as you want when it comes to those components.  for this banana bread trifle, we opted to scratch-make the banana bread and use boxed pudding mix in the custard to make our lives easier.  i know, i know, there are pudding purists out there who would never venture near a box of pudding mix, but when that pudding is folded into clouds of fluffy whipped cream, who will ever notice (or care) that it wasn't homemade? (and if they do, perhaps it's time to reevaluate that friendship... just sayin')!

banana bread is a bit of an unusual choice for the cake component of a trifle, but trust us, it works, cutting the richness of the vanilla custard and providing a solid base for the layers of fruit and cream.  as the custard sits - if it isn't devoured the day it's made, that is - the banana bread is sturdy enough to absorb the flavors of the custard without getting soggy. when it comes to entertaining that is a definite plus - this trifle can be made a day or two ahead of time & stored in the fridge  (just leave off the top layer of fruit until you're ready to serve).

let's talk custard for a minute.  creamy & smooth, our custard is made of freshly whipped cream and vanilla pudding.  basic  enough for the kids to help with or make entirely on their own - case in point,  helena made the custard for this banana bread trifle entirely by herself while i was prepping the other ingredients! 

trifles are traditionally served in a trifle bowl, which we've used for this recipe.  that said, trifle bowls are one of those types of specialized kitchen equipment that many people just don't have.  so if that's the case - or even if you do have a trifle bowl and just want to get crazy and switch things up! - trifles can be made in any glass bowl or individually, in glasses or mason jars. whatever container you use,  make sure it's glass - you want to show off all of those delicious layers!

this banana bread trifle truly is a decadent, impressive & very tasty way to cap off any meal. banana, vanilla & berries combined to create an out of this world flavor combination, and layered into taste perfection - and the best part? no one will ever guess just how easy it was to prepare!  banana bread trifle for the win! 

 

recipe: banana bread trifle

ingredients:

  • 1 loaf banana bread, cut into cubes - we love the low-fat banana bread from bon appetit (just cut the sugar down to a scant 1/2 c & add an extra banana)
  • 1 1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1 lg box vanilla pudding mix, prepared according to package directions 
  • 4 - 5 bananas, thinly sliced
  • generous 1/2 c blueberries

method:

  1. using a hand mixer, stand mixer or whisk, whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks
  2. gently fold the whipped cream into the prepared pudding 1/3 at a time
  3. in a trifle dish or glass bowl, layer banana bread, then custard, then banana slices & a sprinkle of blueberries. repeat, ending with a custard layer on top.
  4. cover & chill in the fridge for 1 hour or until ready to serve 
  5. when ready to serve, cover the top with banana slices & blueberries
  6. scoop into bowls & enjoy!

xoxo,

s & h

hawaiian-style fish tacos

fast & healthy, these hawaiian-style fish tacos are a fresh, tasty take on the classic - and ready in less than 30 minutes!

when you think of hawaiian food, the first thing that comes to mind is probably not fish tacos.  but... when ben & i went to oahu on our honeymoon, we discovered this amazing, simple mustard-mayo sauce that was slathered on freshly caught, grilled mahi-mahi and so now, whenever we think of hawaiian food we immediately think of that mustard-mayo sauce.  creamy, tangy... so simple but such a vivid taste memory.  and so it is that sauce that makes these fish tacos hawaiian-style!

regardless of where they're from, fish tacos are always simple - often just fish (grilled or fried), a corn or flour tortilla and a sauce of some type. that's it!  nothing fancy - just a few good ingredients showcased to their full flavor potential. these hawaiian-style fish tacos are as simple as it gets, with the lime-marinated fish & the creamy sauce stepping up into the starring roles!

tacos are the perfect quick, family-friendly weeknight meal (taco tuesday, i'm looking at you here!) - they're easy, fast an completely customizable. these fish tacos take about 30 minutes start to finish, including the marinating time!  incredibly tasty tacos in an incredibly quick amount of time - just toss together a salad on the side (and also maybe a beer!) - and you're in business.

recipe: hawaiian-style fish tacos

yields: 2 large or 4 small tacos

ingredients:

  • 1 lb cod, haddock pr mahi-mahi, cut into large chunks
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for the pan
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 Tbsp mayo
  • 2 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 medium or 4 small flour tortillas

method: 

  1. in a small bowl, combine the mustard & mayo and set aside
  2. in a shallow dish (a pie plate is perfect), combine the lime juice, 3 Tbsp olive oil, garlic & salt and pepper
  3. add the fish and stir to coat. cover with plastic wrap, and set aside for 10 minutes
  4. when the 10 minutes is up, heat a generous drizzle (about 2 tsp) of olive oil in a large skillet (if using a smaller skillet, you will need to cook the fish in batches)
  5. when the oil is hot, add the fish (be careful not to crowd the pan)
  6. cover and cook for about 5 minutes
  7. remove cover and continue cooking, flipping periodically until the fish is completely cooked - it will be firm to the touch and completely white.
  8. remove from heat and set aside
  9. to assemble, put a small spoonful of the mustard-mayo sauce on each tortilla.  add the fish & a drizzle of sauce on top.  
  10. serve & enjoy!

xoxo,

b & s

 


salted peanut - caramel clusters

peanuts. caramel. chocolate.  these salted peanut - caramel clusters have it all - yet are made entirely from simple, whole food ingredients!  they are a treat you can feel good about, any time of day.

helena & i bake all the time, but when it comes to making candy... not so much. candy-making can definitely be intimidating, especially when so many recipes call for special equipment - thermometers to monitor the temperature of ingredients, molds, peculiar ingredients.  things that most people just don't have lying around in the pantry.  luckily, these salted peanut - caramel clusters (and most candy recipes that use chocolate! woot woot!) don't use fancy ingredients or equipment.  a blender and a bowl are all it takes!  so when that candy-craving hits and the ingredients are simple and close at hand, why not make some at home?  

homemade candy is incredibly satisfying.  there's something special about taking inspiration from a treat that you see in a store and re-creating it using good ingredients - especially when the result is far and away better than the original!

such is the case with these salted peanut - caramel clusters. the combination of peanuts, caramel & chocolate is everywhere in the candy world and with good reason - i mean, who doesn't love salty, sweet & chocolate? so when helena & i set out to make some candy at home, that flavor combo immediately came to mind, and these salted peanut - caramel clusters are the (delicious) result.

these tasty little treats hit the flavor mark on every level - a bit of salt from the peanuts to balance the deep sweetness of the date caramel.  creamy milk chocolate to contrast the richness of the dark chocolate.  salt, sweet, peanuts & chocolate in every bite. 

sticky & sweet, these salted peanut - caramel clusters are healthy enough for everyday snacking - an easy to make, feel-good treat perfect for the whole family! homemade candy for the win!

recipe: salted peanut - caramel clusters

yields: 8 clusters

ingredients:

  • pinch salt
  • scant 1/8 tsp vanilla - a small splash
  • 1/2 milk chocolate chips
  • 1 c semi-sweet (dark) chocolate chips
  • generous 1/2 c + 1 Tbsp roasted, salted peanuts
  • 1 c (pitted) dates

method:

  1. line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper & set aside
  2. soak the dates in warm water for 10 minutes - you want them to be as sticky as possible!
  3. in a high speed blender (or food processor), combine the dates,  and a splash (roughly 1 - 2 Tbsp) of the soaking liquid.
  4. process until the dates have broken down into a paste.  add a pinch of salt and the vanilla.
  5. continue to process until the dates are smooth - congratulations!  you've just made date caramel!
  6. transfer to a bowl & set aside.
  7. in a separate bowl, combine the peanuts and 1/2 of the date caramel
  8. roll the mixture into balls - about 1 Tbsp each - & set on the prepared baking sheet
  9. freeze for 30 minutes
  10. when the clusters have been in the freezer for 25 minutes, heat the chocolate chips in a microwave safe dish for 30 seconds.  remove, stir & heat for 15 seconds.  repeat the process until the chocolate chips are nearly all melted, then quickly stir, stir, stir until they are glossy and completely smooth.
  11. remove the peanut-caramel clusters from the freezer and, using a fork - or your hands -  carefully dip the  balls in the melted dark chocolate so the bottom is completely coated. 
  12. return to the prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining clusters.
  13. drizzle the milk chocolate over the clusters, and top with a roasted, salted peanut
  14. return pan to the freezer for at least 30 minutes or until the chocolate is completely set
  15. remove from freezer & enjoy! 

note: store leftovers (if there are any!) in the fridge or freezer :)

xoxo,

s & h


bean & cheese quesadillas

filled with creamy beans and gooey cheese, these bean & cheese quesadillas are the perfect fast, easy, family-friendly meal!

as any parent (or college student) knows, quesadillas are the ultimate kid food.  a grilled cheese in a tortilla. and because the foundation is so basic, quesadillas lend themselves super well to add-ins.  beans, meat, veggies - all are right at home nestled with creamy, melty cheese inside a crisp tortilla.  

for these bean & cheese quesadillas i made it a point to keep it simple.  just beans, cheese, some sauteed onions & peppers.  that's it, and you know what?  they are awesome.  the flavors of the beans are enhanced by the onions & peppers.  the mild cheese isn't overpowered by too many spices.  a quick and easy family-friendly recipe, perfect for a quick weekday lunch or dinner. 

recipe: bean & cheese quesadillas

serves: 3

ingredients:

  • 3 large flour tortillas - we use whole foods (364 brand) homestyle
  • 1 14oz  can pinto beans, drained but not rinsed
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 4oz can chopped, mild green chiles
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt, pepper
  • 1/4 - 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • hot sauce, to taste - cholula brand recommended
  • 1 generous c shredded, mild cheese - we use a combo of mozzerella, colby jack & cheddar, divided (into 3 piles)
  • avocado - for serving
  • sour cream - for serving
  • salsa - for serving
  • 3 tsp finely sliced scallions - for serving

method:

  1. heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat
  2. when hot, add the onion & pepper and a sprinkle of salt.  stir
  3. cover & cook for 3 - 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions are beginning to brown
  4. add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes
  5. add the beans and green chiles.  smash the beans with the back of a fork until they are mostly smooth
  6. season with 1/4 tsp garlic powder and salt & pepper to taste
  7. cover and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the beans are warmed through
  8. add the hot sauce (if using) & taste, adjusting seasonings if needed
  9. remove from heat and set aside
  10. put one tortilla in a large skillet.  sprinkle half with 1/2 of one of the piles of cheese. then top with  1/3 of the bean mix and the remaining 1/2 of the pile of cheese
  11. fold the empty side of the tortilla over the filling and heat on low until the cheese is beginning to melt and the tortilla is beginning to crisp slightly, about 3 minutes
  12. carefully flip the quesadilla over and continue cooking another 3 minutes or so, until the cheese is fully melted and the tortilla is a bit crisp.  remove from heat and set aside
  13. repeat process with remaining tortilla
  14. transfer to a plate and sprinkle with scallions.  serve with chopped avocado, salsa & sour cream on the side (if desired)
  15. enjoy!

xoxo,

s & h

 

 

 

maple-almond energy bites with coconut & cacao

these maple-almond energy balls with coconut & cacao pack a ton of flavor into each bite. not too sweet and filled with healthy goodness, they are the perfect quick snack for kids and adults alike.

can there ever be too many recipes for energy bites?  possibly, but not in our house!  they really are the perfect snack - easy and quick to prepare, loaded with incredibly tasty (yet still healthy) ingredients and very kid-friendly.  what's not to love? 

these maple-almond energy bites have a subtle sweetness thanks to the maple syrup and banana.  almond butter adds a creamy depth of flavor and the chia, hemp & coconut are mild and nutty - plus full fiber and a ton of other nutrients.  oats are the perfect base to tie all of the flavors together. 

the key ingredient to these energy bites is the cacao.  i know, i know, cacao is not the cheapest thing in the world.  i like to think of it as being a bit like safron - a little goes a long way and it keeps for a long time if stored properly - but the crunch and mild, rounded chocolate flavor it brings just can't be beat.  

head to the kitchen and whip up a batch of these energy bites with the kids - you'll be feeling good and energized after one tasty bite!  

recipe: maple-almond energy bites with coconut & cacao

yields: 8 - 10 balls

ingredients:

  • 3/4 c - 1c oats (we use quick oats)
  • 1 small, very ripe banana, mashed
  • 2 heaping Tbsp almond butter
  • 2 heaping Tbsp sliced almonds
  • salt - a pinch
  • cinnamon - 1/4 - 1/2 tsp (or to taste)
  • 1 - 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp raisins
  • 1/4 c shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 1 generous Tbsp cacao nibs
  • 2 - 3 generous Tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 Tbsp hemp seeds

method:

  1. in a medium bowl, combine the mashed banana, almond butter, maple syrup & oats.
  2. stir in the chia seeds, hemp seeds, salt & cinnamon - taste and adjust spices as needed
  3. stir in the raisins and cacao nibs
  4. form the mixture into golf-ball size balls - or whatever size you prefer - and set on a plate
  5. freeze the balls for 1 hour, or until totally solid.
  6. remove from plate, put into a freezer-safe bag and store in the fridge or freezer
  7. enjoy!

xoxo,

h & s

creamy caramelized onion - bleu cheese dip

this creamy caramelized onion-bleu cheese dip has it all. creamy, rich, a bit salty and a bit sweet. the classic flavors of mellow caramelized onions and tangy bleu cheese showcased in every tasty bite.

what do you get when you cross a classic onion dip & a tangy bleu cheese dressing?  dip bliss, that's what! and that is exactly what this dip is. bold flavors, a creamy base.  sweet, tangy, salty.  nuggets of sharp blue cheese and pockets of caramelized onion throughout. 

this creamy caramelized onion - bleu cheese dip combines sweet, rich caramelized onions with the tang of bleu cheese.  nothing artificial here - just simple, straight up ingredients showcased to their fullest potential.

a word or two on bleu cheese...  creamy, laced with veins of purple-ish blue and with a distinctive tangy bite -  bleu cheese can be an acquired taste.  there are so many kinds - some soft and melty, others hard and crumbly.  some mild, some very, very pungent.  i first developed a taste for the stuff in the form of a walnut-bleu cheese sourdough bread - an unusual yet surprisingly delicious flavor combination.  that said, we really have to be in the mood for bleu cheese - it is definitely not an always-in-the-fridge type of cheese.  

for this dip i wanted the bleu cheese to be on the harder side, to have a real presence and stand up to the creamy flavors of the dip.  soft and gooey just wasn't going to cut it.  and so i ventured to the whole foods cheese counter.  i've got to give a shout out to those cheese-mongers.  despite calling me ma'am - not that that my 32 year old self is still smarting over that or anything - they showed me a ton of different options. some from places that i didn't even know made bleu cheese (i'm looking at you, ireland!).  i eventually came away with a wisconsin buttermilk bleu.  dense and crumbly, with a distinctive-yet-mild buttermilk tang & just a hint of sweetness.  similar to gorgonzola - a common variety found at most grocery stores - it is the perfect balance for the deep sweetness of the caramelized onions. 

grab some spicy wings (our vegetarian buffalo wings, naturally!) or some simple greens & veggies and prepare for a dip experience like no other.  seriously guys, you've gotta try this stuff!

recipe: creamy caramelized onion - bleu cheese dip

ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream (or plain greek yogurt)
  • 1/2 medium onion, very thinly sliced
  • generous 1/4 c blue cheese, crumbled (gorgonzola or wisconsin buttermilk bleu recommended)
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder
  • apple cider vinegar 1/2 - 3/4 tsp
  • 1 Tbsp milk +, to thin
  • 2 tsp olive oil

method:

  1. heat the oil in a skillet on low.
  2. add the onion, a pinch of salt & stir.  cover and cook, stirring every few minutes until the onion begins to brown.
  3. remove cover and continue cooking, stirring frequently until the onion has reduced in size by about 1/2 and is dark brown and very thick.  remove from heat and set aside.
  4. meanwhile, in a large bowl combine the mayo, sour cream, blue cheese, 1/2 tsp vinegar & 1 Tbsp milk. add a pinch of salt & pepper & scant 1/8 tsp garlic powder. 
  5. add the cooled caramelized onions & combine.  
  6. taste, adding more milk (1 Tbsp at a time) and a bit more vinegar or spices as needed.
  7. serve with your favorite wings or veggies! 
  8. enjoy!

xoxo,

s & h

 

dip2.jpg



quick & healthy alfredo-style noodles

fast, easy, simple.  these quick & healthy alfredo-style noodles are an everyday, fresh take on the special occasion classic.

is there anyone who doesn't love fettuccini alfredo?  tender noodles coated in a rich, creamy, unbelievably decadent sauce? we sure do!  but that nutritonal price tag?  no thanks.

sure, fettuccini alfredo is insanely delicious - but sadly, there is nothing nutritionally redeeming about traditional alfredo sauce.  butter, cream and cheese, tossed with hot pasta.  tasty it is, healthy it is definitely not.  and so we set out to create a healthier alfredo-style sauce that is just as creamy, just as rich and just as quick as the original - but light enough for everyday.  the secret?  ricotta cheese. smooth and silky, with a subtle sweetness - the perfect replacement for the cream and butter! win! 

these quick & healthy alfredo-style noodles are perfect for a weeknight meal, but elegant enough for company.  they come together in a snap and use a handful of simple, pantry staples. and the best part?  no one will taste the difference between this healthier alfredo & the original! that'll just be our little secret!  ;) 

recipe: quick & healthy alfredo-style noodles

serves: 2

ingredients:

  • 1/4 - 1/3 box long noodles - fettuccini, linguine or papparedelle recommended
  • 1/4 c ricotta cheese
  • 1/8 c (2 Tbsp) grated parmesan (the stuff from the can is fine!)
  • 1/4 c shredded parm
  • salt, pepper - to taste
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder - or to taste
  • 3 - 4 Tbsp pasta cooking liquid - as needed to thin the sauce

method:

  1. bring a large pot of water to the boil
  2. add the pasta and cook 8 - 10 minutes (or until done). reserve 1/2 c of the pasta cooking liquid.  drain the pasta  and set aside
  3. mix the ricotta, grated parm and shredded parm in a large bowl.
  4. season with garlic powder, salt & pepper & stir to combine
  5. add the hot pasta, 2 Tbsp of the pasta cooking liquid and stir to coat.  if the mixture is too thick, add some more of the pasta water, 1 Tbsp at a time until the desired consistency is reached.  you want the pasta to be thickly coated, but not gloppy & sticky
  6. transfer to serving bowls & enjoy!

xoxo,

s & h



cashew-cherry oat crumble

creamy cashews.  tart cherries.  warm vanilla & hearty oats.  this cashew-cherry crumble has all the decadent flavors of a dessert, with none of the decadent ingredients.  simple, basic and utterly craveable.  

this cashew-cherry oat crumble started out as a granola bite recipe, but morphed into a simple oat crumble and never looked back.

rich, decadent flavors, healthy ingredients.  craveable in the best possible way.  this recipe pairs salty roasted cashews with creamy oats, chia & hemp seeds. maple syrup for sweetness, coconut oil for richness and dried cherries for a pop of flavor.  mild vanilla throughout.  every bite of this crumble tastes like the best cookie you've ever had, yet has no butter, sugar or flour.  this recipe takes the humble oat crumble and elevates it to the next level.   simple, basic ingredients showcased to their fullest potential.

serve this cashew-cherry oat crumble on yogurt for breakfast, on ice cream for dessert or on a spoon straight from the container.  anyway you have it, after just one taste you'll be wanting more.  and more.  and more...

recipe: cashew-cherry oat crumble

ingredients:

  • 1/2 c roasted, salted cashews, chopped
  • 3/4 c oatmeal - quick oats recommended
  • dried cherries, 1/4 c roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • generous 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 Tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1/2 tsp (generous) vanilla 
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 - 3 pinches salt, or to taste

method:

  1. add the cashews, oats, chia, hemp, oats, cinnamon & salt to a large bowl & stir to combine
  2. add the chopped cherries, and stir 
  3. melt the coconut oil and maple syrup in a small bowl in the microwave for 15 - 30 seconds - there might be a bit of solid coconut oil in the bowl, but that's ok.  the residual heat from the maple syrup will melt it.
  4. add the vanilla to the maple-coconut mix
  5. pour the maple-coconut-vanilla mix to the oat bowl and stir until all of the dry ingredients are coated
  6. at this point the mixture will be very sticky.  taste, and add a bit more salt if needed
  7. let the mix sit on the counter for at least 30 minutes, to allow the oats and seeds to soak up the maple-coconut mixture, and the coconut oil to become more firm - this will give you little clusters of oats
  8. transfer to a reusable container and store in the fridge until ready to serve
  9. enjoy!

enjoy!

 

 

xoxo,

h & s