Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Cacao Nib Protein Bars

You've rushed around the house, made lunches, gotten everybody up, and managed to get to school on time.  Now you get to fight the morning commuters and get to the gym, arrive, set up your step, or claim your spot for the group fitness class, only to realise you forgot to eat before you left the house?!  The worst!  This cannot be only a busy mama problem!

I know if I don't eat before I workout, there's a burnout point I just can't push past.  I won't get the best workout that I'm after, and what a waste of time is that?!

Eating 20 minutes to an hour before you sweat, helps you to workout longer and harder.  Fact. 
For your best workout choose something with complex carbs, which will break down slowly and deliver continuous energy, as well as protein, which helps you build and maintain lean muscle.  And, maybe most important, it should taste good too!!  Got you covered on all bases with these Cacao Nib Protein Bars! 

Cacao Nib Protein Bars
1/4 cup Almond Butter ( or your favourite nut butter)
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup protein powder ( I use a vanilla flavoured one)
1/4 cup ground flax meal
1/4 cup buckwheat groats
2 Tablespoons honey, agave, or maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons Cacao Nibs

Have ready a baking dish lined with parchment, approximately 8x8 in size.  
Using a medium sized bowl, melt the coconut oil in microwave (or melt via stove top and transfer to bowl).  Add to the melted coconut oil the  almond butter, and protein powder, mixing until smooth.  Next add in ground flax, buckwheat groats, honey, and vanilla, mixing to combine.
Spoon into your prepared dish, sprinkle the cacao nibs over the top of the bars, pushing the nibs in as you level it out the mixture, using the back of a spoon, your fingertips, or parchment paper.
Place dish in the fridge or freezer allowing the bars to set, and cut into squares before serving, or pre-wrap so they are easy to grab on the go!


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Baked Onion Rings

Is anybody else jonsing for Breaking Bad?!  I've been lamenting and going through withdrawals.  Usually in the winter months we catch up on all the series we've missed out on during the busier and warmer months, AKA soccer season.  I've been trying to get into the new American Horror Story: Coven;  it is great and all, my problem is that I can't stay awake!!  Seriously annoying.

For the season finale of Breaking Bad we got all super-nerd, and had ourselves a Breaking Bad themed meal.  We had Chicken Heisenburgers, served with Onion Frings, and Blue Jello for dessert.  It was glorious.  I completely forgot that I had this Baked Onion Fring recipe to share, until I started reminiscing.  Sigh.  Awesome series recommendations welcome!

Baked Onion Rings

1 large sweet onion
1/3 cup flour
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk or plain milk
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup seasoned Panko
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp dried Italian herbs

Preheat oven to 425F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with cooking oil. Slice onion into large rings, about 3/4 inch in width.
In a shallow dish, whisk together the batter ingredients (flour, milk, egg).
In another shallow dish, whisk together the coating ingredients (cornmeal, breadcrumbs, nutritional yeast, salt, garlic powder, and herbs).
With a fork, dip an onion ring into the batter, immersing, so it gets covered in batter.  Transfer it to the coating mixture and toss it around a bit.  Place onion rings on prepared baking sheets and repeat for the rest.
Bake for about 18 minutes, flipping once halfway through.  These are best served immediately along side a beautiful burger, or wholesome sandwich, or on their own with your favourite dip!


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Fully Loaded Salad!

I was on the hunt for a new salad recipe, something to keep my taste buds inspired, and stay on track nutritionally.  This salad that I came up with is a bit of a hybrid of a number of salads I perused via Pinterest.  I haven't been putting grains in my salad for a while, I guess because it's something I don't normally do in the warmer months? But I find in the winter, I just need something a little more filling.  The salad dressing reminds me a bit of the tahini based dressing from my fave Glory Bowl salad, and would work well served with any variety of different dishes, both hot and cold. So Yum!

I don't know about you, but everyone at my work seems to be fighting off a different bugs, and I don't want what they have!  The addidtional benefit to this salad is to aid our systems in fighting off disease and illness, especially important this time of year.  This beautiful salad is filled with the wholesome goodness of two cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, and cauliflower.  Both of which provide support for the immune, inflammatory, hormonal, and detoxification systems!   Also the vibrant green parsley, which is so much more than just a garnish!  Parley is high in both vitamin C and K, as well as unique antioxidants and disease preventing properties.  And quinoa is no-longer a unknown grain, this superfood is high in fiber, protein, calcium, and anti-oxidents.  I tell my kids to eat their carrots, so they get super powers, like seeing in the dark, which is totally true!  Get your super powers too, and get your salad on! 

Fully Loaded Salad

1-2 cups Quinoa, cooked
1-2 cups broccoli, finely chopped
1-2 cups cauliflower, finely chopped
2 carrots, shredded
a large handful fresh parsley, finely chopped

Rise the quinoa, and cook according to package directions.  While quinoa is cooking get chopping!  I use the whole bunch of broccoli, so peel the stem, and add that into the bowl as well, nothing goes to waste!  Add finely chopped cauliflower, shredded carrots, and parsley.  Add cooked quinoa, and give it a quick stir to combine.  Serve topped with the delicious Toasted Pumpkin Seed Dressing recipe that follows, and keep any leftovers in the fridge, ready for your next meal!

Toasted Pumpkin Seed Dressing
Recipe adapted from:  My New Roots

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
3 cloves garlic
knob of fresh ginger, peeled
1 Tablespoons maple syrup
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 - 1/2 cups water
3/4 - 1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
pinch or two cayenne pepper

In a medium dry pan, over medium- high heat, toast pumpkin seeds, stirring every so often, until they begin to pop.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Using a food processor or blender, pulse to mince garlic and ginger.  Add cooled pumpkin seeds and blend on high until you reach a sand like texture.  Add water and blend, followed by remaining ingredients, scraping down the sides periodically.  Add more water is needed, until you reach desired consistency, and more salt and/or pepper to taste.  Store in an airtight glass container in the refrigerator, will keep for about a week.  Enjoy as a delicious salad dressing, on cooked grains, or with roast veggies, and even potatoes.


Friday, January 17, 2014

Masala Chaat Popcorn

I love, love, love, the spices of  India.  Not sure why I've never thought of creating a popcorn this flavour before?!  I was really craving Indian food, but didn't have the cash to go out, and you know how I do Friday nights = Popcorn for dinner. This Chaat spiced popcorn was absolutely delicious, and very, very, spicy! Sky Punch!
For this popcorn, I used my Whirley-Pop, figuring the flavour of the coconut oil would be a welcome addition the the spices of the chaat.  I took it up another super spicy notch and added some All-in-One Indian Snack Mix, the same snack as I did in the Aloo Chana Chaat, a few months back.  Try adding some Indian snacks to the bowl if you wanna go all out, I swear you won't regret it.

Masala Chaat Popcorn
1/2 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
1-2 Tablespoons coconut oil
3-4 Tablespoons olive oil (optional)
2-3 Tablespoons Chaat spice (I used Shan brand)

Place Whirley-Pop over medium-high heat. Add 1-2 Tablespoons of coconut oil and popcorn kernels to the pot.  Close the lid and turn the crank slowly, and let the popping commence!  Keep turning the crank until you start to hear the popping slow down.   Remove from heat.   When popping stops, pour the popcorn into a large bowl.  I have a spray bottle of olive oil (thanks Mom!), so I add a few sprays, You could pour a cap full, or two, of Olive oil if you don't have spray.  After the oil, add a sprinkle of the chaat spice over the popcorn, and give popcorn a toss (you may need to toss with your hands), spray a bit more oil, and then repeat spice, until you get the amount of flavour you desire, also making sure the spice is well distributed throughout the bowl.  Add some Indian snacks, if you're going for it!


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Leftover Turkey Cobbler with Garlicky Cheese Biscuits!

Have you had enough of a break from turkey?   Ready to break it out of the freezer, and give it new life?!  This fantastic one dish meal is another one of our family faves, it works just as well with leftover chicken, as it does with turkey.  My daughter calls it "that chicken - turkey mush dish", which doesn't make it sound all that appetizing, but she LOVES this mush.  I even have to monitor how much she takes from the casserole dish, to make sure there is enough for everyone, lest she gobble the whole thing down!  Sloane requests this dish so often in fact, that I'll even roast a chicken over the weekend, just to have the leftovers during the week to make this cobbler for her.

This cobbler is filled with a load of veg, it could even be a crisper clean out!  Add a few other pantry staples, such as a can of cream based soup, cream of chicken, mushroom, or celery, I don't think one over the other would make a huge difference, use whatever you have on hand. 

One additional step to this recipe is the garlic butter. I always keep a small container of garlic butter pre-prepared in my fridge, which can be a small, but significant, time saver for crazy week night meal prep.

 To have your garlic butter on the ready, just take a quarter to a half cup of softened butter, and then add a couple cloves of minced or crushed garlic cloves.  If you are using unsalted butter, give a dash of salt, and then give it a good stir.  Ta-da!  Garlic Butter! 

Leftover Turkey Cobbler with Garlicky Cheese Biscuits
Recipe Adapted From: Dinner With Julie

1-2 Tablespoons canola oil, for pan
1 onion, chopped
1-2 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks (& leaves), chopped
2 Tablespoons butter
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can water
4 cups chopped leftover turkey
3/4 cup frozen peas

2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup canola oil
2 Tablespoons garlic butter, melted
1 cup grated cheddar cheese, or cheese of your choosing

In a large pan, using medium-high heat, add the oil, and allow to warm, before adding the onion, carrot and celery.  Give it a stir every once and a while, cooking for about 5 minutes.   Add to the pan both the butter and mushrooms.   Cook the mushrooms, until they release their liquid, the vegetables will also get brown and caramely from the butter.  Add to pan the flour and thyme, toss to coat the veg and cook for another minute.  Stir in the can of soup followed by a full can of water, scrape up all the browned yummy bits from the bottom of the pan as you stir, until soup is fully incorporated.   Bring to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes, until thickened - feel free to add more water, if you find it’s too thick.  Stir in the chopped turkey and peas, give it a stir, and then pour the whole mixture into a large casserole dish.
Preheat the oven to 400°F, while you prepare your biscuits.  Melt the garlic butter and set aside.
To make the biscuits: In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Add the milk and canola oil and gently stir, just until you have a soft dough.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a large rectangle. Brush or spread the melted garlic butter over the dough, then sprinkle generously with cheese. Roll tightly jelly-roll style into a log. Cut the log into 8-12 biscuits, and lay the biscuits on top of the turkey mixture, allowing space in between the biscuits for expansion during baking.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the the biscuits are puffed and golden brown and filling is bubbly.  I have gotten in the habit of removing the biscuits in the last 10 minutes, and placing them back into the oven on a cookie sheet, so they get a more caramelized and firmer bottom, you can skip this step if you find they're cooked to your liking.  Allow the turkey mix to stand while the biscuits bake.  Allow the biscuit to cool slightly, and then serve it all up with a big beautiful salad!


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Happy Birthday Elvis!! Peanut Butter, Banana, & Bacon Waffle Sandwich!

Happy Birthday Elvis!!  If you didn't already know this, our house is full of Elvis fans...uh, we have a son named Presley?!  Cory totally wanted to name him Elvis, but that's a pretty huge name to live up to, so we settled on Presley.
I wouldn't consider ourselves to be total Elvis "Freaks", 'cuz there's some pretty wild fans out there.  But we have a whole set of shelves in our basement full of Elvis memorabilia, a trip to Graceland under our belt, and odds and sods of Elvis or Helvis stuff throughout or home, so we're probably categorized under super fans or something like that!

Who's Helvis, you say? Oh, that would be Cory's former punk rock styled Elvis tribute band! Superfuntime shows with deep fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches made right on stage!  Oh the memories!

If Elvis was still alive today, he would be turning 79!  If he were alive today, I doubt he would still be eating his Peanut butter and banana sandwiches deep fried.  Maybe he'd try this recipe here, for a slightly healthier version!  Throw on an old Elvis or Helvis CD,  or watch this here video and get cookin'!

Peanut Butter, Banana, & Bacon Waffle Sandwiches

8 slices whole wheat bread
1 ripe banana, mashed
1/4 cup butter, softened (optional)
1/4-1/2 cup peanut butter
6-8 pieces bacon, cooked

Have your cooked bacon prepared.  My method is to cook them in the oven at 400F, on a cookie sheet, covered with tin foil.  Cook for about 20 minutes, flipping once halfway through.  Just pour off the grease (I use an old coffee tin),and chuck the tinfoil, saves a tonne of energy on clean up!  

Preheat the waffle iron.  break the banana into smaller pieces, and then in a small bowl, mash with a fork.  Spread one side of the bread (2 slices) with butter if you so desire, and then the other side with peanut butter.  Place the slice of bread butter side out, so you see the PB side.  Spread some of the mashed banana on top of the PB, and then place a couple slices of bacon on top. Place the other slice of bread on top, PB side in, and Butter out.  Carefully close the waffle maker, and allow to bake for about 3-5 minutes, or until toasty and golden.  Repeat until all the bread/ingredients are used up.  Cool and serve!


Monday, January 6, 2014

Manly-Man Meal Monday = Fried Chicken & Waffles!

Well, that was a nice little hiatus.  I hope everyone out there, friends, family, or whomever, all had an enjoyable and relaxing holiday season!
Just because I wasn't blogging, doesn't mean I wasn't in the kitchen!  I did a load of cooking over the last little while, and the scale shows it!  Ugh.  With the start of a New Year upon us, you'd probably expect to start off with some resolutions, and goal setting...all that jazz!  I decided, that's what every other blog is doing!  I bring you plenty of health-conscience recipes all year long!  So, to start off 2014, I am going to begin with a new feature:  Manly-Man Meal Mondays!  
My man is not a kale, vegan, raw, or paleo life-styled man.  My Man loves all the over the top food creations, like foods inside other foods?  That's totally his thing.  Or that show Epic Meal Time, where they drink, swear a tonne, and put bacon in and on everything!  If you haven't seen it, check them out on the interwebs.  Hilarious, but not always edible.  These are the things that inspire his palate, and the ideas he brings to me.  I do my best to make his food dreams a reality... just in a slightly more realistic way!  So here we go - 2014!  And the first Manly-Man Meal Monday!
The inspiration for this creation was from Epic Meal Time's "Waffle Wing" creation.  The chicken wing is baked right into the waffle! Whaaa?!

Buttermilk Fried Chicken
 Recipe adapted from: The Candid Appetite

2 large chicken breasts, cut in through the middle, and in half.  (Chicken breast are way easier for a fast fry.  I also attempted this using drumsticks, but was worried about under cooking them.  I'm a frying newbie!)
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 Tablespoon Franks Red Hot sauce
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 -1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I must have extra spicy Cayenne? I used only 1/2 tsp jic)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
canola oil for frying

Using a medium sized bowl add buttermilk and hot sauce.  Give it a stir, before adding chicken to bowl.  Ensure chicken is completely immersed, before covering with plastic wrap and setting aside in the fridge.  (Candid Appetite states: "If you don't have the time, this step is not crucial but will help make the chicken tender and juicy")
In a shallow dish make your dredge by combining the flour, salt, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and black pepper.
Now you're ready to coat the chicken!  Take a piece from the buttermilk bowl, slightly drain off, and throw into the flour. Pat the flour into the chicken, on both sides. Return to the buttermilk bowl (with the rest of the chicken) and coat both sides. Place the chicken back into the flour, once more, and coat both sides. We’re double dipping the chicken. Lay  the coated chicken on a rack placed over a baking sheet. Repeat in this manner until all the chicken is coated. (Candid Appetite recommends: Allow the coated chicken to rest for at least 10 minutes, this will allow the fry to dry a bit and stick to the chicken).
While the chicken is resting, heat up your oil!  Use a heavy duty pan, like a iron skillet.  Once the oil is hot, fry the chicken in batches, two pieces at a time, so the temperature of the oil stays high.  Allow the chicken to fry about five minutes per side, or until a crispy texture, and deep brown colour is achieved.  I placed my chicken on a paper towel to soak up the extra grease, before transferring them to a wire rack place over a cookie sheet, in a 200F oven, to keep warm until the waffles were ready!

Bacon Cheddar Onion Waffles
 Recipe adapted from: The Candid Appetite

2 cups flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled
2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
6 slices bacon, cut raw & pan fried
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
2 green onions thinly sliced, or chopped using kitchen scissors
cooking spray, for waffle iron

Preheat waffle iron, & if you don't have a carton of buttermilk, prepare your own, by adding a couple Tablespoons of lemon juice to milk, and allow about 5 minutes to curdle. Get all your waffle add-ins prepared ahead: cut up the bacon, and pan fry until crispy, place on paper towel to soak up access grease. Melt the butter, shred the cheese, chop the onion, and set aside.
In a large bowl add together the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt & black pepper, set aside.
In a small bowl whisk together the eggs. Create a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, and pour in the eggs, cooled butter, and buttermilk. Using a wooden spoon, stir the batter until just combined. It'll be lumpy, and that's okay! Fold in the cooked bacon, shredded cheese, and green onions.
Spray the preheated waffle iron with cooking spray, and then add about 1/2 cup batter (more or less depending on size of waffle iron), to each waffle section. Cook until the waffles are golden brown, about 3-6 minutes. Place the cooked waffles on a cooling rack, so they stay crispy. Continue cooking until the batter is used all up, I don't recommend saving til later. Serve the waffles up warm with maple syrup and the fried chicken included with this post! So good! To rewarm, place the waffles on a baking sheet in a 300F oven for about 5 minutes, or pop in the toaster!

We ate the Fried Chicken & Waffles with plain ol' maple syrup the first night, and it was so, so, good. 
The next afternoon, we used the leftovers to try the sandwich that Candid Appetite created. I finally had the opportunity to use the fancy green peppercorn dijon mustard that my parents brought home for me from France last year. I was waiting for "the" dish that called for that extra somthin' somethin'! 
The Fried Chicken and Waffles were re-heated in the oven to retain their crunch, and added to it were sliced avocados, tomatoes, leafy greens, and the Maple Maple Mustard sauce. 
 Good Lord! Look at this deliciousness!

Maple Mustard Sauce
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1 Tablespoon yellow mustard
1 Tablespoon spicy brown mustard or Dijon mustard

Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth.  Use as a condiment in the Fried Chicken and Waffle sandwich, or try as a dipping sauce!