Thursday, February 26, 2015

Berry Detox Smoothie

I'm a creature of habit. I eat the same thing every day for breakfast, lunch and my afternoon snack. Yes, I feel like a kid having a scheduled afternoon snack. But honestly, between 2-3:00 I become ravenous. I get the munchies in a real bad way and if I'm not conscious about having a healthy snack prepared then I will dig through the pantry and come up with all the junk food that I can find. So for like the past year this has been my go-to snack.  It is sweet enough to satisfy my sugar craving, but with all natural ingredients I can eat it without feeling guilty. I've found that if I sprinkle about 1/4 cup muesli (or granola) on top then it gives it a little more substance so that I feel full after eating it. I know there are about a million and one smoothie recipes out there, but this is my absolute favorite, so I thought it was worth sharing!

1 large banana (best if cut into chunks and frozen)
1/2 cup baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup almond milk (or more, depending on how thick you like it)
1 Tbs ground flaxseed, ground linseed, protein powder or wheat germ- just something to give it a little extra nutrition
1/4 cup muesli or granola
fresh berries to top (optional)

Add the banana, spinach, blueberries, almond milk and flaxseed to a blender and pulse until smooth. Pour into a glass and top with muesli/granola and fresh berries.

*makes one smoothie

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


So what exactly is Stromboli? It's like a pizza loaf. It's like a long skinny calzone without the ricotta. It's like a fun and delicious twist on the usual pizza. It's pretty much like the best thing you've eaten all week. The correct way to make a Stromboli is to roll your dough, layer on your toppings then roll/fold it up like you would for cinnamon rolls and seal up the ends. But you know I don't always follow the rules. Sometimes it's easier and less messy to roll the dough into a long rectangle then cut slits in the sides, layer the toppings down the middle then cross the slits over like a braid. Either way you get the same seasoned crusty bread filled with your favorite toppings melted together to create something amazing! A traditional stromboli is usually made with only sauce, cheese and Italian meats, but if I'm feeling like a rebel I may throw in some olives or Canadian Bacon and pineapple. I'm a wild one, watch out.

*makes 2 strombolis
1 1/2 cups warm water
3/4 tablespoon instant yeast
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
Pizza sauce
3-4 cups shredded mozarella

Toppings such as: olives, pepperoni, ham, salami, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, Canadian bacon, pineapple

1 egg, whisked
parmesan cheese
garlic salt
dried basil

Combine the warm water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl and set aside for 5-10 minutes. In a large bowl sift the flour and salt, add oil then yeast mixture. Knead the dough about 5 min. Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover and let the dough rise about an hour. Preheat oven to 400. Lightly punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly greased countertop. Divide into 2 balls and roll each one out (fairly thinly, you don't want the crust too thick), into a rectangle. Spread pizza sauce over 2/3's of the dough lengthwise, leaving a strip of plain dough along one of the edges. Top sauce with half the grated cheese, salami, ham, or other ingredients. Top with remaining cheese. Brush the plain strip of dough with the egg. Fold in the sides about an inch and brush them with egg. Roll up like a jelly roll lengthwise starting along the long edge of dough topped with all the fillings and ending with the plain strip of dough on the bottom of the roll. Brush the entire stromboli with egg and gently cut slats in the top of the dough every 1-2 inches.  Sprinkle with desired amount of paremsan, garlic salt and basil. Or for the braided method, roll each ball of dough into a long rectangle and place on greased baking sheet. Cut horizontal strips along the edges, leaving about 3 inches of dough in the center. Spread pizza sauce down center then sprinkle with cheese and desired toppings. Fold the strips over in a criss cross manner and brush with egg then sprinkle on parmesan, garlic salt and basil. Bake for 12-14 minutes until lightly browned and cooked through. Remove from oven, cool 5 minutes and slice into pieces. Serve with more pizza sauce for dipping.

Source | Lauren's Latest

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Banans Foster Crepes

Well, technically this isn't really considered Bananas Foster because there is no rum in it, therefore no alcohol to ignite (here is the rum version if you're interested). But it still has that rich caramelized banana flavor, so I'm going with it. Besides, the idea of flambeing something seems just a little above my technical skill level so we'll call this the beginners course. Call it what you want, these crepes are absolutely divine! I mean, a warm banana caramel sauce inside a buttery crisp crepe with whipped cream slowly melting on the top is a pretty great way to start any day!

1 ½ c milk
1 c flour
2 Tb sugar
1 Tb veg. oil
2 eggs
butter (for cooking)

In a bowl combine milk, flour eggs, oil, and sugar. Beat until well mixed. Heat a lightly greased skillet over medium heat, add a little butter and swirl around until melted. Remove from heat. Pour in approx. ¼ C of batter; lift and tilt skillet to spread batter. Return to heat and cook until it starts to bubble then flip it over and cook until lightly browned. Repeat with each crepe, adding more butter to the skillet each time (step-by-step crepe instructions here).

1/2 C butter
1 C brown sugar
1/2 C heavy cream
3-4 bananas
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 C chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
Whipped cream (to top)

Melt the butter in a heavy skillet over med-high heat. Add the brown sugar, stir and cook for a few minutes. Pour in the cream and whisk to combine. Slice the bananas at an angle then add to the sauce and mix. Add the chopped nuts and cinnamon. Stir over med-high heat until boiling then continue to cook for a few more minutes. Serve warm inside crepes, drizzle with a little of the caramel sauce and top with whipped cream.

Source | Food Network

Monday, February 23, 2015

Pad Thai

We really miss eating out at our favorite restaurants (Cafe Rio for the win!), but we have found some joints around here that we really love. One of them is the Thai Container. Oh.My.Gosh. The best Pad Thai I've ever had. I am so going to miss that place when we move back. I've been frantically trying to find a good Pad Thai recipe to help feed the craving once it's no longer available. I've tried several different recipes, and this is by far the best. The thing I like about it is that the ingredients are simple, ones that I usually have on hand. It's not quite as authentic as the Thai Container, but I don't have to search all over for hard to find ingredients that I can't pronounce the name of and probably don't want to know what they're made of. This is definitely going to save me when I want my weekly Thai fix!

2 boneless chicken breast, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
9 ounces pad Thai rice noodles
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 green onions, sliced, divide the white from the green
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2-1 tsp crushed red pepper (depending how hot you like it)
1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and grated
3 cups bean sprouts
1 egg, slightly whisked
1/3 cup dry roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
1 lime, sliced into wedges
1 cup chopped broccoli florets
1/2 cup carrots, sliced

Pad Thai Sauce:
1/3 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoons rice vinegar (or white)
1 tablespoon lime juice
4 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Put chicken and soy sauce in a Ziploc and set aside. Combine the Pad Thai sauce ingredients in a small bowl and stir until the sugar dissolves and set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook 6 minutes, or according to the package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process and set aside. Heat a wok or large skillet over medium high heat. Drizzle in the oil and add the chicken, stir fry 4-5 minutes or until cooked through. Meanwhile, add the chopped broccoli and sliced carrots to a microwave safe bowl. Add 1-2 Tbs of water, cover and microwave for 2 minutes to steam. Add the white parts of the onion, garlic, red pepper, ginger and bean sprouts to the skillet. Saute another few minutes or until vegetables are tender. Push the vegetables to the side, add the egg and stir quickly to scramble then combine with the vegetables. Add prepared noodles, steamed broccoli and carrots, plus 3 to 4 tablespoons of the pad Thai sauce to the skillet. Use thongs to lift and turn noodles. Once the sauce is absorbed add more and continue this process until all the sauce has been used and is absorbed. Garnish with the chopped peanuts, green portion of the onions and lime.

Source| Lady Behind the Curtain

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Cookies & Cream Ice Cream Pie

Ice cream pie has been a favorite dessert of mine for as long as I can remember. It is simple to make, absolutely delicious and looks pretty too. There are so many options, crushed thin mint crust with mint chocolate chip ice cream or graham cracker crust with caramel praline ice cream and drizzled with a warm caramel sauce...I mean you really can't go wrong with any combination. But this right here might be my very favorite! And it doesn't hurt that New Zealand has the creamiest dreamiest ice cream I've ever had.

1 package Oreos
6 Tbs butter, melted
Cookies and Cream Ice Cream
Hot fudge ice cream topping
Whipped topping

Use a food processor to chop the Oreos into crumbs, or put in a large ziploc bag and roll with a rolling pin. Reserve a few cookies to garnish each serving with. Mix melted butter with crushed Oreos then press firmly into a pie dish. Soften ice cream in the microwave, then scoop into crust and evenly spread it around. Cover the pie with aluminum foil and freeze for 3-4 hours. When ready to serve, slice pie and put on plates. Drizzle each serving with hot fudge, a dallop of whipped topping and a single Oreo.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

White Chocolate Dipped Granola Bites

These right here are the best little accident. We're planning a road trip this weekend, and road trip = a full day of baking. Road trips in New Zealand are usually to pretty remote locations without a lot of food options so I end up doing a lot of baking and cooking before hand to bring with us. Sometimes I really miss cheap fast food on every corner, but we sure eat a lot better! So after we fell in love with these White Chocolate and Cranberry Granola Bars I thought I'd try my hand at adapting my favorite Peanut Butter Granola into granola bars. They tasted delicious, which was no surprise, but they were a little crunchier and thinner so when I tried to cut them into bars they broke into pieces. I just so happened to have leftover white chocolate chips in the pantry. And cue angels singing. These turned out way better than I could have imagined. I think these may just be our new favorite road trip snack or anytime snack!

4 cups old fashioned oats
3 Tbs wheat bran (optional)
3 Tbs ground flax seed or linseed (optional)
1/4 cup desiccated coconut (finely grated-optional)
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbs butter
1/4 cup honey
3 Tbs maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350. Lay oats in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast for about 15 minutes, stirring half way through. Line a baking dish with parchment paper. While the oats are toasting, heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, vanilla, peanut butter and cinnamon. Bring it to a boil and continually stir for 2-3 minutes then remove from heat. Put the toasted oats in a large bowl, stir in the wheat bran, flax seed and coconut. Pour the peanut butter sauce over the oats and stir to coat evenly. Gently mix in the chcolate chips then scoop the mixture into the prepared dish. Press firmly and evenly, then refrigerate for at least an hour. Remove and break into bite sized chunks. Put white chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 30 seconds, stir then heat for another 30 seconds and stir. Repeat until melted and smooth. Dip each granola bite into chocolate then refrigerate until chocolate has hardened.

Friday, February 20, 2015

{Fresh} Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Cannelloni

I hesitated posting this because I couldn't get a good picture. The cannelloni pasta tubes are swimming in a savory meat sauce and melted cheese, which isn't a bad thing, it just means you can't see the cute little cannelloni individually. But this recipe is too good not to share! If you don't know what cannelloni pasta is, they're like little miniature manicotti tubes. I prefer these over manicotti because the ratio of sauce to filling is much more evenly distributed. Now that those formalities are out of the way, let's talk about this dish. I'm sure everyone has had one version or another of this, whether it's spinach stuffed shells, spinach stuffed manicotti or another spinach stuffed cannelloni recipe. The thing I've never really liked about those is that most of the recipes call for frozen spinach or cooked spinach. I just have a problem with spinach when it's cooked, it's so not appetizing to me. So I've tweaked different recipes to add fresh spinach and fresh herbs and it adds that little something to make this dish just incredible. I also love using a canned pasta sauce as a base to cut back on time then adding ground beef to make it a little heartier (read: man friendly) and freshening it up with some herbs. So this right here is the best of the best and I have a feeling you'll love it too!

1 package Cannelloni pasta tubes
1 pound ground beef
½ cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (26-ounce) jar pasta or marinara sauce
2 Tbs chopped fresh oregano
2 Tbs chopped fresh basil
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley
3 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 (16 oz) container Ricotta cheese
2 cups baby spinach leaves, stems removed and roughly chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
½ C half and half

Cook cannelloni as package directs (unless they are the no-boil type). Drain and drizzle with olive oil so they don’t stick. Preheat oven to 350. In a large saucepan, over medium heat, brown meat and pour off fat. Add onion and garlic, cooking and stirring until tender. Stir in pasta sauce, 1 Tbs oregano, 1 Tbs basil, 1 Tbs parsley and ¼ C half and half. Simmer 15 minutes. In a bowl, combine 2 cups Mozzarella cheese, Ricotta cheese, spinach, 1 Tbs oregano, 1 Tbs basil, 1 Tbs parsley, eggs, Parmesan cheese, salt and remaining ¼ C half and half; mix well. Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of a baking dish. Using a piping bag (or a ziploc bag with one corner cut off) fill cannelloni with ricotta mixture and arrange in baking dish. Spoon sauce evenly over pasta. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Remove foil and top with remaining 1 cup Mozzarella cheese. Bake uncovered 15 minutes longer. Let stand 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped parsley.