Friday, February 27, 2015

food for thought

You know, I've been thinking long and hard about this quote.  I would have to disagree and change it. 

I LOVE my job; however, there are days that love is not enough.  I have to make myself work, and this is coming after a very hard few days of work along with a few more hard days ahead.  I don't think it's the work or the job that make it hard, but the people, situation, or other uncontrollable aspects of the job that make it hard sometimes.  I know that it will quiet down, and I will not have to work so hard to do my job.  For now, I will have to push through it.

How would I change this quote?  "Do what you love, and those hard days will be much easier"  It's just like a relationship: real, deep and true love will get you through the hard times.

Anyway-I'm looking forward to relaxing and visiting with family this weekend.  You have a happy weekend too!

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

white bean and thyme stew

Cold winter days call for hearty, vegetable and bean heavy stews.  This was a vegetarian recipe, but The Hubby requires some meat so I added sausage slices.  This would be a great vegetable/bean side dish for another main course like a roast.  I served it with the sausages and rice for a complete meal.

white bean and thyme stew
 {white bean and thyme stew}

one year ago:  black bean cookies

white bean and thyme stew

makes 8 servings

1 large onion, diced
1 1/2 cups carrots, sliced
1/2 butternut squash (local), cut into 1 inch cubes (about 2 cups)
4 garlic cloves (local), minced
2 cans Northern beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2-14 oz cans diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf 
1 pound sausages (local), sliced (optional) 
Parmesan cheese, topping
  1. Mix everything together in a crock-pot.
  2. Cook on high for 6-8 hours or until squash is tender.
  3. Serve with cheese if desired. 
I love the thyme in this recipe.  I feel thyme is an under-used spice especially in my house because The Hubby didn't like it at all.  He loved this stew too, so I guess I can add thyme to the list of foods-Hubby-loves-now which is alright by me!
Do you use thyme?
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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

sweet and sour chicken

Whenever my family went to a Chinese restaurant, I would always order sweet and sour chicken.  I actually haven't had it in at least 15 years, so when I was surfing Pinterest the other week, I saw a recipe and gave it a try.  I didn't fry the chicken first to save on the calories, but I'll be honest; I'm really only in it for the sauce!

sweet and sour chicken
 {sweet and sour chicken}

sweet and sour chicken
 {I just love the colors!  I'm getting excited for the farmer's market to really start in early May}

one year ago:  fajitas

sweet and sour chicken

makes 4 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound chicken thighs, boneless and skinless, cut into 1 inch chunks
1/2 onion, sliced
1 pound stir-fry vegetables
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Cooked rice or rice noodles
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet until hot.
  2. Add chicken and cook until browned on one side.
  3. Add onion and continue browning.
  4. Meanwhile mix ketchup, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, garlic powder, and cornstarch until well blended.
  5. Add vegetables to cooked chicken and onion; steam for about 5 minutes.
  6. Add sauce and stir to combine.
  7. Cook sauce for 5-7 minutes or until thickened.
  8. Serve over rice or rice noodles.
The Hubby didn't grow up with Chinese food, so I was a bit surprised when he said he really liked it and requested it a second night in the same week (he made it the second time).

Do you like stir-fry?  What's your favorite sauce?

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Moroccan turkey stew

I am so happy to report that The Hubby really loved this stew!  When we first got together, he thought it was totally bizarre to put fruit in anything besides breakfast foods.  I love to see how his tastes have changed over the last few years, and it makes me so excited for the future because I can start making more of the recipes that I really want to try!

Anyway, this is an easy, crock-pot recipe that is fantastic for a chilly day (and we have had some doozies here in Kentucky!)

Moroccan turkey stew
 {Moroccan turkey stew}

Moroccan turkey stew
 {close up}

one year ago:  chickpea, feta, and parsley salad

Moroccan turkey stew
adapted from

makes 6 servings

2 skinless turkey breasts, cut into 1 inch chunks (about 4 pounds)
1/2 medium butternut squash (local), cut into 1 inch chunks
2-15 oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2-14 oz cans diced tomatoes with juices
1/2 cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1 medium onion (local), sliced
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup lemon juice
Cilantro and parsley to stir in before serving
  1. Mix everything except the lemon juice and cilantro/parsley into a crock-pot.
  2. Cook on high for 6-8 hours or until squash is done.
  3. Stir in lemon juice.
  4. Serve stew with either/both cilantro or parsley.  (I loved it with both)
How are you keeping warm during these cold days?  I love to eat spicy foods like this stew!

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Friday, February 20, 2015

food for thought

love is sustained by action

Are you showing those around you that you love them through your actions?  Something as simple as making the bed, taking out the garbage, buying a favorite chocolate, calling just to say HI, all are simple acts of love.  I challenge you to show your love to someone by calling them, making breakfast, buying a favorite treat, etc.

Have a safe and love filled weekend!

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

honey mustard dressing

I have no idea why it took me so long to just make my own honey mustard.  I have been searching high and low for one from the store, and it just hit me to make it with my favorite KY Proud sweet garlic mustard.  DUH!

 {I love to eat salad as a main dish especially with meat and cheese!}

 {Even mixed with mayonnaise, my dressing was still very bright!}

one year ago:  tzatziki (garlic sauce)
two years ago:  black bean ragout (vegetarian)

honey mustard dressing

makes 1 cup

1/3 cup favorite mustard (local)
1/3 cup favorite mayonnaise
1/4-1/3 cup honey (depends on the sweetness of other ingredients)
Salt and pepper
  1. Mix all ingredients together.
  2. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  3. Store in an airtight container for 1 week.
I actually prefer honey mustard dressing over ranch especially when there is poultry, cheese, and onions on my salad.  Do you have a favorite dressing?  Do you make it or buy it?

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

tomato balsamic sauce

This is without a doubt, my latest obsession especially since I ate it for two weeks straight (nope-not lying!).  This sauce is perfection; it tastes sweet and tangy with some smokier flavors from the caramelized onions and balsamic.  I made this by complete accident, and I couldn't be happier! 

 {I made a batch of the sauce and kept it in the fridge for quick lunches and side dishes}

{Sauce mixed with quinoa (left) and pasta (right)}

one year ago:  salmon patties
two years ago:  clam chowder

tomato balsamic sauce

makes 2 cups

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, minced 
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dried basil
2-14 oz cans diced tomatoes, drained 
Torn fresh basil and Parmesan cheese, optional
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil; swirl to coat. 
  2. Add onion and sear until well caramelized.
  3. Add garlic, balsamic vinegar, basil, and tomatoes.
  4. Simmer sauce for 15-20 minutes or until thickened.
  5. Serve over grilled chicken, grilled steak, baked salmon, or grains.
I ate it on EVERYTHING.  I wasn't a fan of it on pork, but chicken, steak, and salmon were delicious.  I added it to quinoa and pasta.  I didn't try it with rice, but I'm positive it would be delicious. 

Why did I eat it so much?  I had to make sure it was really as good as I thought ;o)

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Monday, February 16, 2015

dark chocolate truffles

I adore chocolate.  I don't crave cookies, candy, cakes, brownies, etc (I do crave ice cream), but chocolate, especially dark chocolate, is my weakness.  I have a little every day around 3 PM since that's when the cravings typically hit.  These truffles were incredibly easy to make (although it did take some time), and they are made of dark chocolate; that's what's called a win-win friends!

dark chocolate truffles

dark chocolate trufflesdark chocolate truffles
 {coconut covered truffles and cocoa powder covered truffles}

dark chocolate truffles

makes 30 truffles

16 oz dark chocolate (70 percent cocoa), chopped
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Pinch sea salt
1/4 cup cocoa powder, toasted coconut, or toasted nuts, for rolling
  1. Heat chocolate, oil, and 3 Tbsp water in a double boiler, stirring, until just melted. 
  2. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and sea salt.
  3. Transfer to an 8-inch baking dish and refrigerate until mixture is set but still pliable, about 2 hours. 
  4. Using a 1-inch scoop or spoon, scoop out chocolate mixture and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. 
  5. Coat hands in cocoa and roll chocolate into balls. 
  6. Refrigerate on parchment-lined baking sheet 10 minutes or until outsides firm up again.
  7. Roll in the topping of your choice--more cocoa powder, toasted coconut, toasted chopped nuts, etc
  8. Enjoy!
Do you love chocolate?  What kind?

PS-Chocolate is on crazy sale right now so go get your favorite!

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Friday, February 13, 2015

food for thought

On this day before Valentine's Day, the day of love, don't forget that you are equally deserving and in need of your own love and affection.  So do something that you love and something that's only for you, whether it's taking a relaxing bath, getting a massage, making time to read, watching your favorite movie with cake and champagne, go to bed early, sleep in later, have breakfast in bed, whatever you LOVE to do!

May your weekend be filled with my three favorite things:  LOVE, laughter, and light!  <3

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

winter lemonade

I typically love winter and cold weather, but this year has been dreary.  I can handle cold and sunny for months on end, but this constant gray?  It's wearing on me; I feel tired and blah.  My solution?  Make some lemonade with a winter twist!  (and getting outside when the weather is nice like it was last weekend!)

winter lemonade
 {winter lemonade}

winter lemonade
 {Because of the honey and spices, this lemonade is not as clear as the original lemonade}

One year ago:  Caribbean beef stew

winter lemonade

makes 5 quarts

1 cup fresh lemon juice
4 1/2 cups filtered water
1/2 cup honey (local)
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, unpeeled and coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (or use 2 whole cloves)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or 1 cinnamon stick)
  1. In a medium saucepan combine lemon juice, half of the water, honey, ginger, and spices. Bring to a simmer, stir until honey is dissolved, and remove from heat.
  2. Cover and allow to steep for 15 minutes.
  3. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a pitcher. Add the remaining water.
  4. Refrigerate until chilled through. 
  5. Serve over ice! Enjoy!
This lemonade is secretly working to heat your insides up courtesy of the ginger, cinnamon, and cloves while the lemon and honey should help that sore throat from breathing dry air. Add a pretty straw and watch the smiles come!

How are you combating this gray winter?

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

chicken and broccoli casserole

Quick weeknight meals are hard to come by especially in 30 minutes.  However, this casserole uses already cooked chicken so all you have to do is heat everything through and throw it under a broiler (I used a toaster oven broiler). 

chicken and broccoli casserole
{chicken and broccoli casserole}

One year ago:  sweet and spicy tuna pasta

chicken and broccoli casserole

Makes 8 servings

16 oz mushrooms, washed and sliced
1 medium onion,chopped
12 ounces chicken, chopped, skinless, boneless (about 3 cups)
1 pound broccoli florets
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
1/4 cup canola mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  1. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; cook 12 minutes or until mushrooms brown and liquid evaporates, stirring occasionally. 
  2. Add onions, chicken, and broccoli and heat through.
  3. Meanwhile, heat butter in a pan.
  4. Add flour and make a roux.
  5. Add milk, yogurt, and mayo; cook until thickened, about 10 minutes.
  6. Add seasonings and Parmesan.
  7. Preheat a broiler.
  8. Add sauce to mushroom mixture, stirring until combined.
  9. Place casserole under broiler until top is bubbly and browned.
  10. Serve.
Do you have any quick weeknight meals that you use often?  I'd love to hear about them since I am always looking for some!

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Monday, February 9, 2015

chocolate almond quinoa cake

My grandmother found this recipe and made this cake a few years ago which has become a family favorite ever since.  I had never made it since my grandmother always did.  I was craving a chocolate cake, and so I finally had an excuse to make it myself.  This cake is a perfect balance of almonds and chocolate; you would never know this had quinoa in it!  This cake is so delicious and nutritionally/protein packed that you really have no excuse NOT to eat this healthy chocolate cake!

chocolate almond quinoa cake
 {chocolate almond quinoa cake}

chocolate almond quinoa cake
{I didn't think about it at the time, but next time, I'm adding toasted coconut for an almond joy flavor!}

chocolate almond quinoa cake
from The Daring Gourmet

makes 8-16 slices (depending on how you slice the cake)

2 cups cooked quinoa, loosely packed
4 egg yolks
⅓ cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
½ cup butter, melted
¼ cup coconut oil
1½ cups granulated white sugar
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
4 egg whites
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup ground almonds

For Chocolate Almond Glaze:
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons hot water
Slivered almonds for decoration
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. 
  2. Place the cooked quinoa in a blender along with the milk, egg yolks, vanilla extract, almond extract, butter and coconut oil. Blend until smooth.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using a rubber spatula, stir the quinoa mixture into the sugar mixture until combined. Stir in the ground almonds.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.  More details and pictures on how to make a meringue.
  5. Using the rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the cake batter.
  6. Pour the batter into the cake pan (DO NOT GREASE PAN) and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean but moist.
  7. Let the cake sit in the pan for 10 minutes before carefully inverting it onto a plate and then carefully inverting it again (top side up) onto a cake platter to cool completely.
  8. To make the Chocolate Almond Glaze: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Pour over the completely cooled cake, spread evenly over top and sides of cake. Immediately sprinkle with the slivered almonds. Allow the glaze to dry before serving, overnight is the best.
  9. Enjoy!
I took most of this cake to work, and everyone said that it was delicious.  I even had one person say that it was "stupid good" which is a compliment, I guess :o)

How about you?  Do you try "healthy desserts" like this cake?   I do since it make me feel less guilty when I have a slice (or two)!

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Friday, February 6, 2015

food for thought

I've been anxious all week for later, tomorrow, now, three days from now, yesterday, next week, three weeks ago.  I missed so much beauty and life around me, and then today I stopped.  I lived for today and loved every moment of it.

Have a fabulous weekend, my friends!

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Thursday, February 5, 2015

homemade nutella


 {Store brand nutella}

The crowning glory of the week--making nutella at home!  It's so easy, and it was 100x better than the store bought nutella.  I used it in all the recipes that I featured this week, and it worked wonderfully.

homemade nutella
 {homemade nutella}

homemade nutella
 {the homemade version is darker than the store-bought, and I didn't add tons of sugar so it wasn't super sweet either}

Are you asking--where do I get hazelnuts?  If you are in the Lexington area, Good Foods Co-Op has them in their bulk food section.  Otherwise, I would call around to local stores and see if they carry them.

one year ago:  creamed corn

homemade nutella
adapted from smitten kitchen

makes 2 cups

2 cups shelled and raw hazelnuts
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup powdered sugar (more if you prefer it sweeter)
1/4 teaspoon salt plus additional to taste
3 tablespoons grape seed oil
  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. 
  2. Spread the hazelnuts evenly over a cookie sheet and roast until they darken, about 10 minutes, rattling them around a bit halfway through to they toast evenly.
  3. Transfer the nuts to a food processor and grind them for about 5 minutes. First they’ll become a paste. Then they’ll become more of a paste and finally, they’ll liquefy. Scrape down the sides as needed. 
  4. Add the cocoa, sugar, salt and two tablespoons of the oil to the food processor and continue to process until well blended, about 1 minute. Add more salt if needed. Add the last tablespoon of oil if the consistency seems too thick. 
  5. Store in refrigerator up to a week in a covered container--if it lasts that long! 
If you want more nutella recipes, I made nutella banana ice cream and nutella cupcakes.  I grew up eating nutella on a piece of bread for breakfast or as a snack so that's how I love it best!  How do you like to eat nutella?

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

no-bake nutella cookies

This is another ridiculously easy recipe involving nutella.  As with any other dessert I bring to work, these were gone in record time with unanimous agreement that they were delicious.  What can I say?  It's NUTELLA!!!

no-bake nutella cookies
 {no-bake nutella cookies}

no-bake nutella cookies
 {a closer look at the cookies}

One year ago: cajun garlic bread

no-bake nutella cookies
from feast and west

makes 24 cookies

1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup nutella
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 to 3 1/2 cups dry, quick-cooking oats
  1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter. 
  2. Stir in sugar, milk and cocoa until combined.
  3. Bring mixture to a rolling boil and hold for 1 minute, then remove from heat. 
  4. Stir in peanut butter and nutella until melted and well combined. 
  5. Add vanilla, then mix in oats one cup at a time. 
  6. Drop tablespoons of batter onto wax paper and let cool entirely before eating. 
  7. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.
It's VERY important that the mixture boils for a solid minute or the cookies will not set; also make sure to add only amounts listed above because that will also cause them not to set.  Otherwise-EASY!

Do you like no-bake cookies?  I didn't really have them growing up, but I like them especially since you don't have to use a hot oven in the summer!  (I will definitely be making these this summer when I have a chocolate craving)

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

nutella cinnamon rolls

To kick-off nutella week (because just one day is not enough!), I had to make a hard decision of which recipe to share first.  This was actually the last recipe I made, but I was so taken by it's ease that I wanted to share this first.  In fact, The Hubby demanded that I make them again last weekend because the first round, he didn't get enough (I took most of them to work).  I was only too happy to oblige since these were so gosh-darn-easy!

nutella cinnamon rolls
 {nutella cinnamon rolls}

nutella cinnamon rolls
 {nutella cinnamon rolls overview}

nutella cinnamon rolls
 {they were almost too pretty to eat!}

One year ago: parsley leaf potatoes
Two years ago:  rush hour pizza
Don't worry about the long instructions--I was just very detailed on how to make them!

nutella cinnamon rolls

makes 8 cinnamon rolls

1-8 count can refrigerated crescent rolls
2/3 cup nutella
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
splash of cream or milk, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 350. 
  2. Spray a 9- or 10-inch pie plate or baking dish, or a 9-inch square pan with cooking spray; set aside.
  3. Open the can of crescent rolls and carefully unwrap the dough. Arrange triangles or rectangles (if two triangles are stuck together) in one long row on clean counter or work surface. Press the seams together, overlapping them slightly to close any large gaps. 
  4. Generously spread nutella in an even flat layer over the entire surface, leaving 1/4-inch margins around all borders. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon.
  5. Starting with a short side, roll up the dough into a log, rolling the log as tightly as possible.
  6. With a sharp knife (serrated works nicely), bench scraper, or unflavored dental floss (works nicely to pinch off pieces without compressing the dough log), slice log into 8 equal-sized pieces. I find the best way to do this is make a cut in the center, and then divide each half into fourths, rather than trying to eyeball eight pieces working from end to end. 
  7. Place pieces in prepared pan, noting there will be gaps and spaces. 
  8. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until rolls have puffed and are just beginning to turn golden; don't over bake because these are meant to be gooey. 
  9. While rolls bake, make the glaze by combining butter, sugar, and vanilla in a small bowl and whisk to combine and until smooth; if desired, a splash of cream or milk may be added to help achieve desired glaze consistency. 
  10. Rolls may be glazed immediately upon removing them from oven, resulting in glaze melting into the crevices; or glaze rolls after they've cooled a bit.
  11. Serve immediately.
So please RUN to the store to get the things to make this because it will change the way you breakfast!

Do you like nutella?  Have you ever had it before?
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Monday, February 2, 2015

monthly munchies | February

Wow.....  It's already FEBRUARY!!!  Where did the time go?  It feels like we just started 2015, but I won't lie when I say that I am glad to see January go!  It was a bumpy ride!

bread with butter and nutella
 {bread with butter and nutella, a life-long favorite!}

Anyway, what do we have to look forward to in February?
  • I kid you not when I say that I went CRAZY with nutella recipes for National Nutella Day on Feb 5 (this Thursday!).  I made three oh-so-delicious recipes that I can't WAIT to share!
  • It's the month of love and chocolate.  Definitely be on the lookout for an easy truffle recipe and gluten-free chocolate cake!
  • Towards the end of the month, I'll get back to meals and such.  We can't have dessert ALL month! 
Here's to a fantastic February!
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