Honey almond roasted carrots

These carrots are a fall delight.

carrots3

I was ready to hunker down, make soup, watch football and eat my fair share of roasted root vegetables then we got a spike to hot temperatures again. That didn’t stop me from making these carrots!

I may have also been motivated to make these carrots as I was desperate wanting to use my new Le Creust dish that I received forma  dear friend as an early wedding gift. I named her Camille, because she’s French. Enough about the why and a little more about the how:

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 pounds fresh carrots
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup silvered or chopped almonds
  • a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 400F.

Thoroughly wash your carrots and cut green end off. If you feel so inclined to peel your carrots, you can do that, too.

Pour about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the bottom of a thick bottomed pan. Place carrots in bottom of pan and toss to coat with carrots.

Salt and pepper your carrots to your liking. Drizzle with honey. Top with almonds. Place rosemary sprigs on top.

carrots

Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil, or simply place lid on pan if it has one. Cook for 20-25 minutes. Cook closer to 20 minutes if you are using closer to 1 pound of carrots or if your carrots are on the thinner side. If using closer to 2 pounds of carrots and/or your carrots are on the thicker side, cook closer to 25 minutes.

After your 20-25 minutes is up, remove lid and cook another 20-25 minutes(follow the same guidelines). The carrots will start to brown and be nicely caramelized when done.

carrots2

Serve as a tasty side dish. I love the slight sweetness that the honey gives with the crunch of the almond. It’s really a great flavor combination. Upon eating them, my immediate thought was that I couldn’t wait to make them for Thanksgiving!

carrots4

Easy cinnamon streusel French toast

toast4

I made an easy cinnamon streusel French toast for Brian this past weekend.

Have you ever been to Costco? Have you ever been there when samples of their cinnamon streusel bread has been given out? Holy moley! That stuff is good.

I have been able to resist buying a loaf before, but I couldn’t on this last trip. I blame the full moon. After getting it home and looking at the nutritional information, the loaf immediately went into the freezer. This bread is going to be a treat and a rare one at that. Granted the slices are large and thick, but it is 220 calories a slice. Wowza. No wonder it tastes so good.

On Saturday, I pulled out one piece of the bread to thaw. While it was thawing, I beat together one egg, a teaspoon of vanilla, a dash of cinnamon and a tablespoon for two of milk.

Heat up a skilled over medium heat and add a pat of butter.

Dip each side of the bread in the egg mixture and let excess mixture run off of bread.

toast3

Cook on each side until browned. Whlie the bread was cooking, I cut up a very ripe banana and tossed the slices in the skillet as well, to caramelize(turn once).

toast1

Once done, put on a plate, top with slices of banana, a sift of powdered sugar and a little syrup.

toast2

Dukkah

What the heck?

That’s what I first thought when I read about this mysterious dukkah on MoreCheeseMoreChocolate. Dukkah is spelled as many different ways as it can be made. The long and short of it is that it’s a delicious and flavorful mixture of herbs and nuts that has it origins in Egypt.

When I started to google Dukkah to find a recipe, I was also pleasantly surprised to see that it is becoming very popular and found several articles on uses for it, like this, and this, and this.

Recipe adapted from 101 Cookbooks:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts
  • 1/4 cup coriander seeds
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Heat a heavy skillet over high heat.

Toast the coriander seeds until fragrant. Once toasted, pour into a dish to the side to let completely cool. Repeat with each of the rest of the seeds. Then the peppercorns. Then the hazelnuts.

duk1

duk3 duk4

Once everything has completely cooled, combine all together, including the mint leaves and salt.

duk2

Place in mortar and crush until combined. Or place in food processor and pulse into a coarse consistency. Do not over process into a paste.

duk5

duk6

Mixture will last up to one month in an airtight container.

One of my favorite uses is sprinkled liberally on a salad.

duk7

Priorities

I’ve recently written about how my summer was filled with cook outs and perhaps a little more indulgence that necessary. Since I have been back on track with a healthier lifestyle and exercise plan, I have felt a lot better and have been sleeping better.

Today, this was posted on Facebook and it really struck true to me. This is how I have always felt about people, myself included, when excuses are made.

“Instead of saying ‘I don’t have time’ try saying ‘it’s not a priority,’ and see how that feels. Often, that’s a perfectly adequate explanation. Changing our language reminds us that time is a choice. If we don’t like how we’re spending an hour, we can choose differently.” ~Laura Vanderkam

I think this expands way beyond healthy life style choices and is a great way to re-examine multiple aspects of life.

 

 

Monday, back at it

It’s already Monday again? My weekend was so full of fun activities that it feels like I haven’t been to work in a week!

Thursday night, I was incredibly happy to eat a very summery meal of a half of a BLT with fruit, veggies and a few chips. See that sweet corn? It was my last ear from a batch I received from Iowa. Possibly the best sweet corn of my life. So sweet and tender it made my heart sing.

week1

Friday night we picked up our wedding invitations and envelopes. Eeek! It’s coming so soon. I’m so excited! Brian and I grabbed dinner at Native Foods. He had a curry bowl and I had the indo salad. Both were amazing. We loved our own choices and each other’s so much that we switched bowls half way through. Sharing is caring. After running some more errands, I got home and collapsed on the couch for the night.

Saturday I got up early, did laundry, worked out and watered the garden before heading to a bridal shower in the burbs.  I had a surprise strawberry waiting for me when I got there to water:

week2

Brian and I had a nice breakfast together before I left for the day. I made him cinnamon streusel French toast with caramelized bananas for breakfast. I had eggs and toast.

week3

I got to hang out with some fun Hawkeyes at Sarah’s beautiful shower:

week10

The rest of the day was full of bachelorette fun.

Sunday morning I slept in and headed to water aerobics. Only one more weekend left of getting to be in an outdoor pool and get exercise. Booo! I wish I could have this weather and schedule all year round. The rest of Sunday was filled with making food for the week and folding and putting away laundry. As much as I hate laundry, I love starting out the week with a full and clean closet.

I made another round of macro bowls(spinach, kale, zucchini, quinoa, lentils, beans and sweet potato) for us to have for lunches this week:

week5

Took a break to have a lunch of leftover pizza, salad, tomatoes and chips.

 

week4

 

I felt like I haven’t made us a proper dinner in a few weeks. When I said this, Brian gave me a strange look like I was a crazy person. I just felt like I hadn’t put a lot of time or effort into a meal lately. Which is the direct result of it being summer and using a lot more fresh food that doesn’t need as much preparation. Anyway, I having a strong yearning to do a little more cooking and use our early wedding gift. Look at her. She’s a beauty. I named her Camille, because she’s French, you know. And she can make honey, almond, rosemary roasted carrots with the best of them.

week6

I also made a simple and quick tomato sauce, which had tons of great flavor:

week7

With some seasoned green beans, the meal came together kind of like this:

week8

Brian gave the carrots two thumbs up. I really like the almond carrot combo. Delightful. It would probably be a recipe better reserved for cooler temperatures, but those are probably right around the corner. And the tomato sauce on the chicken really jazzed it up.

 

Tomato, tomato, egg, tomato

I almost made it to this weekend with out posting about last weekend.

Last week was a little nuts. I started a new workout regimen. I was doing strength before work and cardio after work. This left me with little time to actually make dinner. So, I made good use of my old friend the crockpot this past weekend.

After leaving the gym Friday night, I stopped and picked up dinner at Whole Foods. I snagged a bag of their house made thai pepper popcorn. It was the perfect snack for relaxing on the couch and watching a movie.

20130821-211237.jpg
Saturday I got up early, worked out, then made a large and delightful breakfast to fuel the day.

20130821-211340.jpg
Toast with egg, avocado and sriracha with a side of clementine, and homemade greek yogurt with chia, flax and strawberries. This powered me through a trip to Whole Foods to take advantage of their one day bulk bin sales:

20130821-211556.jpg
After getting home, I threw a curry in the crock pot.

20130821-211640.jpg
Feeling good about being able to come home to a hot dinner, I headed downtown to do some marathon shopping. After trying on over 50 dresses, I bought one. Success.

I recently inherited a plethora of homegrown tomatoes and a half dozen ears of sweet corn. I have been greatly enjoying those all week. Is there a limit to the number of tomatoes one can eat in day? I think not!
Tomatoes for breakfast:

20130821-212037.jpg
Tomatoes for lunch:

20130821-212112.jpg
Tomatoes for dinner:

20130821-212147.jpg
Oh, the joys of summertime.

Happy Friday!

I’ve been on a bad cycle for the past month to 6 weeks. A cycle of summer socialization. While the socializing is great, the food and booze that I chose to consume in conjunction with the socializing has taken a toll on me. I’ve been feeling non-stop bloated. Gross. The good news is that I’ve been eating well and exercising this week and things are quickly turning around.

One night this week I brought back a version of the good old macro bowl. This time I used a lentil and bean mixture with rice, chicken(seasoned with five spice powder and berbere), kale and sweet potato. Delicious!

fri2

On Wednesday we received a gift in the mail from our registry. A mortar and pestle! I was so excited. I have been dying to make dukkah ever since I saw More Cheese More Chocolate post about making it months ago.  That mortar and pestle made it happen last night. It’s AMAZING!

fri1

Well, I have a girls night tonight, yoga and water aerobics tomorrow morning then the rest of the weekend is all mine. See you later!

Raisin Bran muffins

I was at the store recently and had an impulse purchase of a box of Raisin Bran.

Raisin Bran is one of the few cereals I like. I also like to knit, garden and go to water aerobics. I am a 85-year-old woman.

Being that 1-2 bowls of cereal every few months if about my limit, I needed to find something else to do with the rest of the box of cereal. With a quick Google search, I quickly learned that there are numerous Raisin Bran muffin recipes out there. Apparently, they are a thing. Well, I don’t want to be left behind on the cereal muffin trend, so I made cereal muffins.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups Raisin Bran cereal
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, which together the flour, baking soda, salt and sugars.

RB1 photo 2

Stir in the cereal. Set aside.

RB3 RB4

In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, egg, buttermilk and vanilla.

RB5

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry. Stir until completely combined.

RB6 RB7

Cover mixture and refrigerate for 45 minute to 2 days. This allows the cereal to soften. Part of the reason I chose this recipe was the ability to let the batter rest before using it. My oven was full of DIY Greek yogurt, so I couldn’t bake them up right away. See how the batter is soupy before letting it sit, then much thicker afterwards?

RB8

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375F. Use a muffin tin with liners or lightly grease a muffin tin. Divide batter between 12 muffins.

RB9

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Store in an airtight container or refrigerate.

I really liked these muffins because they had nice flavor without being too sweet. The only change I might make is adding additional raisins to the recipe.

Faux KIND bars

I have a love/hate relationship with granola bars. They are delicious and easy to eat on the go, but they are loaded with calories, sugar and usually have little protein. I just don’t feel like they have a lot of bang for my buck, calorie wise. But they are sooo tasty.

And a lot of them are loaded with crap and additives, that is why I really like KIND brand granola bars. Unfortunately, they are a little pricey. So, I was ecstatic when I saw Minimalist Baker posted a recipe that looked like a KIND bar. MB kept it simple, using only five ingredients. I added a few more ingredients for fun.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup packed dates, pitted( I used medjool)
  • 1/4 cup honey( or maple syrup)
  • 1/4 cup natural nut butter of choice(I used almond)
  • 1 1/4 cup rolled oats(not instant or quick oats)
  • 1 cup roasted unsalted almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut(toasted preferably)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch of salt(optional)

Kind1

Preheat oven to 350F.

Process dates in a food processor until small bits remain.

Spread almonds, oats and coconut on a baking sheet. You might need two baking sheets. Toast in the oven for about 15 minutes until slightly golden brown and the almonds are giving off a nutty flavor. This step is optional but really enhances the flavor of your granola bars.

kind2 kind3

Place oats, almonds, coconut, dates, and cinnamon in a bowl. Mix to combine.

Warm honey, vanilla and almond butter for 20 seconds at a time until it can be stirred and combined.

Pour mixture over oat mixture and mix.

Once thoroughly combined, transfer to a parchment lined 9×13 baking dish. Press down until uniformly flattened. Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge for a minimum of 20 minutes to harden.

kind4

Remove bars form pan and cut into bars(mine made 12 bars). Sore in an airtight container for a few days. I individually wrapped mine and stored them in the freezer and they stayed fresh for about a month.

Kind5

Doing a taste test at work with the almond coconut KIND bar and a homemade faux KIND bar, the faux KIND bar won the contest. Oh, and its way cheaper to make these yourself than to buy them already packaged, but I’m sure you could have guessed that!

Weekend recap: It’s August?

With temperatures in the 70s all weekend and a tan that is starting to fade, it’s hard to believe that it is August. Aren’t we supposed to be in the dog days of summer?

Knowing that we had back to back to back activities lined up for Saturday, I took advantage of Friday night by doing some grocery shopping and spending time at the garden. I picked a bunch of kale, fennel, carrots and cherry tomatoes. My cherry tomatoes are growing like crazy. They are all over the plant in giant clusters like I am growing grapes.

fri1

The fennel smells wonderful. I can’t wait to cook it up and possibly use the fronds in a savory bread.

fri2

Saturday started bright and early with a double yolk egg(those are good luck, right?) then off to help a friend with a yard sale.

sat2

The weather was  perfect and it nice to sit outside for a few hours. When the yard sale wrapped up, we high-tailed it across the city to do the cake tasting for our wedding.

So many design options.

sat1

We felt the presentation of the cake flavor options was a little odd, but that didn’t stop us from eating cake. In the end, we decided on a non-traditional flavor combination that we are both very excited about.

sat3

We needed a mid-afternoon boost and stopped at Starbucks before heading to try on wedding bands for Brian. He tried the new Valencia Orange refresher. I thought it tasted just like Tang!(gross)

sat4

After that we headed to a party at Challenger’s Comics to celebrate it winning an Eisner award. We had a ton of fun.

Sunday morning came far too quickly after Saturday’s busy day and late night. Despite the chilly 70 degree weather, I headed to water aerobics with a friend for some much-needed exercise. The water felt frigid at first but we forgot all about it once we started moving and chatting. I continued the outdoor theme for the day as I walked to the grocery store to pick up the last few things I needed to get food ready for the week. The weather was just too gorgeous to be inside. Then I piddled around in the back yard trimming my potted plants. I had a red bell pepper and a tiny San Marzano tomato ready for picking!

sat5 sat6

After putting away the groceries, I used up some zucchini to make a batch of delicious chocolate zucchini muffins.

sat7

It was a lazy Sunday dinner of salad, fruit and a take and bake pizza.

sat8