Chocolate Coconut Granola

Need an excuse to eat chocolate for breakfast?

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I usually don’t. But if you have judgey roommates, spouses, coworkers, pets or parents… here’s a DELICIOUS, healthy, more sensible (and socially acceptable) way to enjoy chocolate for breakfast. CHOCOLATE COCONUT GRANOLA! Crunchy, nutty, rich and chocolatey. Easy to prep and only 25 minutes to bake. Get ready for your new favorite granola.

20140429-224418.jpgAs I have mentioned before, I LOVE eating sweet stuff for breakfast. I also really like granola. Really.

What better way to cure those midweek “I don’t want to get out of bed” blues than by starting your day off with some morning chocolate! Chocolate is a great motivator. 🙂 Also, your kitchen will smell like chocolate cake while baking this. I’m getting hungry just thinking about that smell.

Of course, granola is not just for breakfast. This crunchy, chocolatey treat makes a great topping for yogurt, ice cream or just by itself. While photographing this, I ate HANDFULS. That tends to get problematic when your subject amount keeps disappearing. Whoops.

20140430-013742.jpgYou might be saying: “How the heck is this stuff healthy??” To make this granola, I used my maple almond cinnamon granola recipe as a base.   This Chocolate Coconut Granola has a very similar sugar and fat content as the base recipe.  How? I removed a little bit of the butter/oil fat and sugar to make up for the addition of some chocolate chips that really bring home the chocolate taste. I also added some flaxseed meal which adds some extra fiber and some healthy Omega-3s. You can totally omit this ingredient if you don’t have it. It won’t change the flavor with or without it. You’ll just be missing an extra “healthy” boost!

So, go ahead. Have it for breakfast. You know you want to.

20140429-224328.jpgAnother great thing about this granola: It’s adaptable. All you need are old fashioned oats and unsweetened cocoa powder. Other than that – you can do equal substitution of many ingredients. Don’t have almonds? That’s ok, substitute another type of raw nut. Don’t have nuts? Allergic to nuts? Sub in more oats. Allergic to coconut? (sorry Alana!) No worries, sub in more nuts or oats. Want to use coconut oil? Sure. Or flaxseed, double paleo, super slick, vegan, dairy-free, nut-free, caveman oil? No problem. Want to use butter? YES – go right ahead. Want to add dried fruit instead of chocolate chips? Wait, WHAT? Sure, you can. But you’re missing the point. Want to stick to the recipe? That’s cool too.

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Since I’ve posted variations of this recipe two other times, I’m not going to bore you with the details. I’ll save you the reading time. If you need more photo explanation – head on over to my first or second granola posts for more detailed process/prep pictures.

I will stress, you want to mix in the cocoa powder with all your wet ingredients until smooth. It will look like a thin, chocolate ganache – and it will taste so rich and chocolatey. Mmmm – go ahead and give it a taste.

20140429-225752.jpgGo. Make some. Make your house smell like chocolate cake that you can eat for breakfast!

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Chocolate Coconut Granola.jpgRecipe: Chocolate Coconut Granola

Yield: About 4.5 cups

Time: 30-35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup of raw nuts, coarsely chopped (I used raw almonds)*
  • ½ cup of sweetened shredded coconut*
  • ¼ cup of flaxseed meal (optional and can omit without substitution)
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of canola oil*
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 and ½ tablespoons of water
  • ¼ cup of dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips (dark or semisweet)**

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 320 degrees F. Place oven rack on top 1/3 in the oven. Prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick aluminum foil and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the first set of ingredients (oats through the salt) and stir.
  3. In a small saucepan, add the oil, honey,*** water, brown sugar and cocoa powder. Whisk while gently heating on very low heat for about 1 minute. Then turn off heat and continue to mix until everything is smooth and well combined. Do not overheat – this mixture will burn easily. You can also mix this without heat, but I find warming the mixture makes it easier to get everything well combined and smooth.
  4. Pour liquid over oat mixture and stir until the oat mixture is well coated. Stir in chocolate chips and spread into a single layer on prepared baking sheet.
  5. Bake at 320 for 25 minutes – stirring once half way. Allow to cool to room temperature and store in a airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

* See the above text about substitutions

**Chocolate Chips are heat resistant and don’t melt, but they do get soft. If you don’t want soft chips or are using baking chocolate, be sure to add this AFTER baking the granola.

*** Be sure to add the oil first, then use the same tablespoon to measure honey, the honey will slide right out because the oil created a nonstick surface!

Recipe adapted from my Maple Almond Cinnamon Granola

20140429-224439.jpgOops. I spilled again. I guess I’m just going to have to eat to clean up this mess.

Want more granola?!

Maple Pecan Quinoa Granola

Maple Pecan Quinoa Granola.jpgMaple Almond Cinnamon Granola

Maple Almond Cinnamon Granola

 

 

 

 

Maple Pecan Quinoa Granola

I never really got aboard the “WOOO QUINOA!!” train.

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I’m Italian. I eat pasta and bread like there’s an imminent flour shortage. And I don’t mean whole wheat or omega-3 fanciness. Nope. Plain ‘ol standard pasta. I know brown rice and whole wheat flour are probably a teensy bit better for me, but I enjoy the good stuff. Still, I attempted to replace a pasta/cous cous side dish with some quinoa. Eh. I’m just not that excited to eat it. And if you know me, I like to get excited to eat! So, I wanted to try to use quinoa in a different way. BAM – lets mix it with some oats and sugar and bake it! YES! now I can get excited to eat quinoa!

If you have seen my other granola recipe, you know how much I get excited about granola.

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Quinoa gives the granola some extra crunch and adds a little nuttiness. Who doesn’t want a little more nuttiness in their day? 🙂

Quinoa also adds extra protein to the granola. Quinoa is a complete protein; it contains all 9 essential amino acids that our bodies can’t make and we must get from food. So, eat up!

***Also, if you don’t want/have quinoa – you can still make this granola! Replace it with an equal amount of your favorite granola add-in: another nut, seed (sunflower, pumpkin etc..) or shredded coconut! (just replace it with something that can be baked (ie – not chocolate)

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Mixed Quinoa! You can use any kind of quinoa in this recipe. Fun Fact: Quinoa is a seed of the Goosefoot plant.

The other star of this granola? Pure maple syrup.

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No, that’s not Crown Royal. It is a Crown Royal bottle FILLED WITH MAPLE SYRUP!

I’m a really lucky girl. My Taller half’s Uncle gives these as Christmas gifts every year. Amazing, right?! Look at all that pure, rich, made with love maple syrup! I added the pecans there for a relative size comparison. So much delicious MAPLE SYRUP.

I understand that not everyone has a vat of maple syrup, so you can replace this with honey or agave. The taste will be slightly different, but equally delicious!

So now that I am sufficiently excited to eat – let’s make some granola.

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Making homemade granola is easy!

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If your quinoa is not pre-rinsed – give it a quick rinse in some cold water. Don’t worry about drying it off – the quinoa can be wet.

Combine all your dry ingredients in a large bowl. Then in a small saucepan melt the butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, oil, water and stir until well combined. Then add in the vanilla. Pour over dry ingredients and mix until all the dry ingredients are well coated.

Spread out on a large baking sheet lined with nonstick aluminum foil or parchment paper.

Bake at 320F for 25 minutes – stirring once at about 15 minutes. And DONE!

20140223-152328.jpgDon’t even get me started on how much more cost effective AND nutritious it is to make your own granola instead of buying it.

20140223-152233.jpgPlus, it tastes WAY better when it is homemade. Seriously.

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BONUS: Baking this will also make your house smell delicious. Start snacking!

20140228-192800.jpgRecipe: Maple Pecan Quinoa Granola

Yield: 4 cups

Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

Dry Ingredients:

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats (use gluten-free oats to make gluten-free)
  • 1 cup of pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed (don’t worry about drying it, it can be wet)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1.5 tablespoons butter (or replace with equal amounts of oil to make vegan)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (or canola, or coconut)
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of real maple syrup* (you can replace with honey or agave)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 320 degrees F and place oven rack so it is in the top third of the oven. Line baking sheet with non-stick aluminum foil or parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Rinse quinoa in cold water
  3. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Stir to make sure all ingredients are mixed well
  4. Add Wet ingredients except vanilla to medium saucepan and melt on low heat while stirring. *To easily measure maple syrup, spray measuring cup with non-stick cooking spray (such as Pam), before measuring. After wet ingredients are melted and well combined, remove from heat and add vanilla
  5. Pour the warm mixture over the dry ingredients and stir together using a rubber spatula – until all the dry ingredients are coated by the sugar/oil/butter mixture
  6. Spread granola out into a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake at 320 F for 15 minutes. Remove and stir granola
  7. Bake at 320 F for an additional 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Enjoy!

Adapted from my Maple almond cinnamon granola

Granola can be stored in a sealed container at room temperature for up to two weeks (good luck getting it to last that long!)

**If you don’t want/have quinoa – you can still make this granola! Replace it with an equal amount of your favorite granola add-in – such as another nut, seed (sunflower, pumpkin etc..) or shredded coconut! (just replace it with something that can be baked (ie – not chocolate or dried fruit)

Spinach and Broccoli Artichoke Dip

What are you eating on Super Bowl Sunday?  My answer is (usually) a lot.

20140131-194900.jpgLet’s get a little more specific. How about something warm, cheesy and spicy and still have some healthy stuff in it?  Then you will LOVE this Spinach and Broccoli Artichoke dip!

20140131-194828.jpgI’m not the biggest football fan, but I do LOVE an excuse to eat snacks and hang out with friends! Bring on the football!

20140131-194847.jpgThis recipe is a spinoff of your typical spinach artichoke dip, but it has a few extras in it that really make it special.  Lets go over the major players in our game:

  1. Spinach
  2. Broccoli
  3. Canned artichoke hearts
  4. Cream cheese (sounds unusual, but totally delicious)
  5. Greek yogurt (adds that extra creaminess!)
  6. Mozzarella
  7. Parmesan
  8. Garlic (because everything is better with it)

It is easy to assemble (all in one bowl), pop it in the oven and you have your warm and creamy dip in 25 minutes!  I know cream cheese sounds a little unusual but you won’t taste any cream cheese flavor (I promise!); it will just add creaminess.

20140131-231211.jpgThis dip will fit nicely in an 8×8 or 9×9 but I got a really awesome Le Creuset stoneware dish (1.75 qt) for Christmas that I really really really wanted to bake something in. It’s a really pretty blue color so it looks nice (it really does!) and it is heavy so it keeps food hot longer.   It’s amazing and I love it! – thanks Ro and Nancy! 

20140131-194934.jpgSprinkling some extra cheese on top – Mmmmm melty cheese!

20140131-194945.jpgDid I mention I snuck extra veggies in this dip? You get spinach, artichoke AND broccoli!

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What a beaut, right? Most of my kitchen stuff is hand-me-down or picked up at garage sales – so I really wanted to flaunt my fancy new baking dish! 🙂

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But most importantly is the warm, cheesy, creamy and veggie-filled dip that was made in the pretty dish!  Just another delicious way to get more vegetables in your diet!

Happy Snacking!

Recipe: Spinach and Broccoli Artichoke Dip

Yield: About 3 and 1/2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 8oz of cream cheese, softened*
  • ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt (I used 2%)
  • 1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
  • 1 package (10oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 cup of broccoli, chopped small
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced (optional)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan- reserve a handful to melt on top
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella, divided –  ¼ cup reserved to sprinkle and melt on top
  • salt, to taste
  • sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large bowl stir the softened cream cheese and Greek yogurt together until smooth.  Then add in the remaining ingredients and mix together. Spoon into 8×8 or 9 inch pie plate or oven safe dish. Bake 20-25 minutes until lightly browned.
  3. Remove and sprinkle the reserved cheese on top and bake for another 2-3 minutes just until cheese is melted.

Serve warm with pita chips, pretzels, crackers or veggies.

*If you want to soften the cream cheese quickly, place the fully unwrapped cream cheese in a microwave safe dish and microwave it for ~15 seconds.

Curried Apple Tuna Salad

How about an apple and some tuna for lunch?

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How about we put them together.  On a sandwich. With some spice. Yum!

I’m constantly on the look out for new lunch recipes.  I ALWAYS bring my lunch to work because I hate buying lunch. It’s expensive, usually less healthy and I’m super indecisive, so it takes me forever to decide where to buy lunch.  But mostly, I am cheap and buying lunch is not.   In the past year, I have bought lunch at work 3 times.  THREE times.   Yeah, I’m wicked frugal.  So this is a great salad/sandwich to add to your lunch rotation!

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What else is so great about this Curried apple tuna salad?  It is delicious and healthy and perfect for using up some of those apples you still have.  Also, it is so full of flavor, you won’t realize it is healthy.  Really. And this is no wussy salad – it is FULL of protein. Tuna and Greek yogurt pack a pretty good protein punch that will make sure your tummy stays full at least until your 3pm chocolate break.  Wait, you don’t have a 3pm chocolate break?  What?!  Well, you should. Bonus: it is SUPER easy to whip up!  1 step.  There is only 1 step to make this salad.

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What is in this salad?

1. Tuna (I use chunk light, packed in water)

2. Plain Greek yogurt

3. Apple

4. Dijon mustard

5. Curry powder

6. Crunchy veggie of your choice

This is another recipe for you MAYO HATERS>>> There is NO mayo in this tuna salad!

20131028-205908.jpgThe warm curry flavor pairs perfectly with the crunchy, sweet apple.

20131028-205916.jpgAnd it all goes so well to make a creamy, crunchy, warmly spicy and slightly sweet tuna salad

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Mmmm.  Delicious in a Dash.  Seriously fast and scrumptious!

Recipe: Curried Apple Tuna Salad 20131028-205936.jpg

Servings: 2

Ingredients:

  • 5oz canned tuna, drained (I like chunk-light tuna packed in water)
  • 1/2 of a medium sized apple, chopped (I like crunchy, slightly tart apples)
  • 3 tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt (I used 2%)
  • 3/4 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of curry powder (depending on your taste)
  • 1/2 cup of your veggie of choice, chopped (I really like celery because it adds a nice crunch.  I used cucumber because that is what I had in the house – but I recommend celery)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, add all ingredients and stir until combined.

Serve on your favorite bread, lined with spinach leaves or lettuce or just eat it right from the bowl!

Enjoy!

Maple Walnut Apple Crisp

I hope you’re ready for some apple recipes!

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If you make one apple dessert this fall – make this maple walnut apple crisp! Apple crisp has ALWAYS been my favorite apple dessert. Why? Because I love the crunchy, sweet topping. AND because it is easier than pie (haha) – no crust needed!

My Taller Half and I recently went to Smolak Farms to pick apples. The orchard is picturesque and has dozens of apple varieties! I LOVE apple picking. Ever since I was a little piglet, I always looked forward to biting into a crisp, juicy apple just picked from the tree, and then would do this over and over again for until my belly was waaaay too full. This year, I held back a bit and didn’t make myself sick. It was a perfect fall day and we picked TONS of apples. I just couldn’t wait to get home and bake with the freshly picked fruit.

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A beautiful day at Smolak Farms!

Now, let’s talk about this crisp! It has such a thick, crunchy, cinnamon-y topping. Hands down my favorite apple dessert. It also went really fast!

20130925-213732.jpgThe filling of this crisp has tart apples (I used a mixture of Gravenstein, Cortland and Granny Smith), mixed with meaty walnuts, cinnamon and sweet maple syrup! And then there is the topping. OOOh the topping. It is so crispy, so thick, and crunchy (and of course cinnamon-y) and perfectly balances the tender, soft apples. You NEED to make this crisp. Bonus – It takes 5 minutes to put the topping together and only 5 minutes to make the filling. So what are you waiting for?!! Let’s make some maple walnut apple crisp!

20131016-235032.jpgSprinkle cut, peeled apples and chopped walnuts with cinnamon and a few squirts of lemon juice

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Pour the melted sugar, maple syrup, vanilla and butter “sauce” on top

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Prep the topping by mixing flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and cut with chilled butter -just smash it up with your hands until it is crumbly, like so:

Crisp topping

Then add the walnuts to the topping and spread the topping over the apples

( look how thick that topping is!!)

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Place in the oven and wait 45 minutes for sweet, cinnamon-y, apple-y, maple-y, oat-y goodness.

OH. MY. GOODNESS.

20130925-213824.jpgOne more thing- If you don’t have walnuts, or don’t like walnuts you can substitute any other nut – almonds, pecans,  peanuts, hazelnuts etc… or just leave the nuts out. They add some texture and taste but are not essential to your new favorite apple dessert.

Recipe: Maple Walnut Apple CrispMaple Walnut Apple Crisp

Servings: 6-10 (or 2 if you are me)

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

Filling

  • 5-6 apples, peeled, cored, chopped chunky (I used Gravenstein, Cortland and Granny Smith – but any firm, baking apple will do – you may have to adjust the sugar if the apples you use are less tart and more sweet)
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (substitute almonds, pecans, peanuts etc… or omit)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • Few squirts of lemon juice (About 1/2 -1 tablespoon)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping (adapted from Ambitious Kitchen)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats (not quick oats)
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (substitute almonds, pecans, peanuts etc… or omit)
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F and spray an 8×8 pan with non-stick cooking spray
  2. Make the filling: In a large bowl, toss apples and walnuts with cinnamon and lemon juice and pour into a 8×8 baking pan.
  3. In a small saucepan on low heat, melt the butter, sugar and maple syrup***  while stirring.  Do this slowly, you don’t want your sugar to burn! When combined, remove from heat and add vanilla extract.  Pour sauce over apples in baking pan and stir to coat apples.
  4. Make the topping: In a large bowl, add all the topping ingredients EXCEPT the butter and walnuts.  Stir until well combined.
  5. Add the butter and use your hands to incorporate the butter and the dry topping.  This involves squeezing the butter and the flour/oat mixture together in your hands – until the mixture becomes crumbly – you don’t need to overwork this – you want the mixture to be lumpy.  Just smash it between your fingers with the oat/flour mixture – it will be uneven and will look like wet sand.  If you don’t like the “hand” technique, you can also use 2 forks, 2 knives, or a pastry cutter (oh so fancy!).
  6. Stir in walnuts and sprinkle the crumbly topping over the apples
  7. Place on top of a baking sheet, to prevent a sticky mess (just in case the apples/sugar bubble over) and bake at 350 degrees F for 40-50 minutes. As always, baking time may vary based on your oventop should be brown and you should see bubbles on the sides of the baking dish. The apples should be tender.
  8. Allow crisp to cool for about 10 minutes before serving – just so you don’t burn your tongue on SUPER hot, bubbly sugar/apple goodness.

Serve warm, with vanilla Ice cream if you please. I didn’t have any.  Shameful.

ENJOY!

*** For easy maple syrup measurement, spray tablespoon with non-stick cooking spray prior to measuring and maple syrup will slide right out.

Happy Fall!

Spicy Avocado, Pepper and Egg Salad

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Oh boy. I am super excited to share this recipe with you guys! I should probably change the name of my blog to “Eggs and Sweets” because of the high percentage of egg recipes on here. But I promise you, if you like egg salad and guacamole, this will be the best egg salad you ever had.

20130812-195508.jpgWhat is the secret to this spicy, creamy and crunchy egg salad? Avocado and pickled jalapeños! Oh yeah, and the “crunchy” part comes from the red bell pepper

The inspiration for this recipe came from the way I make guacamole- I always make mine with pickled jalapeños! One day, I didn’t have fresh jalapeños or lime juice in the house, and I had a hankering for guac.  Well, all I had was pickled jalapeños in the fridge, so I added some chopped pickled jalapeños + some of the juice and BAM. it was delicious! The juice that the jalapeños are packed in adds some acidity to the mix so it’s a semi-substitute for the lime juice.

20130812-195522.jpgThis salad is a unique twist on an old favorite. It only needs 6 ingredients and it is very versatile

  1. avocado
  2. pickled jalapenos
  3. onion
  4. red bell pepper
  5. hard boiled eggs
  6. plain Greek yogurt

What is this versatility I speak of? You can switch out the red bell pepper for your veggie of choice: cucumbers, tomatoes, celery – or any raw veggie you like that will add crunch.

 Another great thing about this egg salad is it has NO MAYO!  I know there are some MAYO haters out there, so THIS IS YOUR SALAD!

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You can easily make this salad before going to work and even dress it up for a semi-fancy brunch by serving it in a bell pepper half (Oh so fancy!)

How do you make this spicy avocado, pepper and egg salad in a DASH?

The first thing I like to do is to make the avocado “dressing”.  In a medium sized bowl, I smash the flesh of the avocado with a fork.  I don’t really make it too smooth, I like mine a little chunky.   **Do you need to know how to pit and peel an avocado? Check out the simple step by step process at Simply Recipes

Next I add a little Greek yogurt and the pickled jalapeños and juice and stir that in.  Then stir in the onion and red bell pepper. Then I smash up the hard boiled eggs in the center of the bowl and then smash it all together.

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Tada! 

Your delicious breakfast, brunch, lunch or anytime salad is done!

20130812-195638.jpgEat it with crackers, with tortilla chips, with veggies or even the old fashioned way – between 2 slices of bread!  Just eat it!

20130812-195704.jpgThe salad is creamy from the avocado and crunchy from the bell pepper and “oh a little bit spicy” from the jalapeños.  Yum!

Recipe: Spicy Avocado,Pepper and Egg Salad

20130812-195630.jpgMakes 3-4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 large avocado, pitted and peeled
  • 1/4 cup of pickled jalapeno, chopped + 1 tsp of the pickled juice
  • 1/2 of a red bell pepper, chopped small (about 1/3-1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 tablespoon of onion, diced (I used yellow, but you can use red or omit if you don’t like raw onions)
  • 1/2 tablespoon of plain Greek yogurt – any % fat (optional – adds creaminess)*
  • 4 hard boiled eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste

*If your avocados are not at the optimal creamy state, you may want to add a little plain Greek yogurt.   If your avocados are nice and creamy and ripe, you could probably leave this out.

Instructions:

  1. In a medium sized bowl, combine all ingredients and smash with a fork. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Serve and enjoy immediately with crackers, between two slices of bread, on a salad, or use the bell pepper as a delicious vegetable bowl (oh so fancy!)

This egg salad is best eaten the day it is made. After being stored, the salad will look a little less pretty because the avocado will brown from being exposed to air.   Despite it’s color change, it will still taste good after being stored in a sealed container in the fridge for 2-3 days. (but I would only serve this salad to others the day it is made)

Recipe source: deliciousinadash.wordpress.com

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Spanish Tortilla with Baby Spinach and Red Bell Pepper

20130523-231516.jpgI’m really excited to share today’s recipe with you! Why? Well, I’m talking about food, so this always makes me excited, woo! But, if I had to pick a favorite vegetable, it would be spinach, which is the star of this recipe. Why spinach? I’m sure many of you have memories growing up being forced to eat spinach. Not me. I would gladly suck spinach down like Popeye. When I started cooking for myself, I started to realize the culinary super power of spinach. It is a super nutritious leafy green vegetable that you can have by itself or add to just about anything: pasta, pizza, casseroles, eggs, soups, and even smoothies! Today I’m pairing my favorite vegetable, spinach, with my favorite protein, eggs.

20130523-231132.jpgInstead of using baby spinach to make a salad, I decided to get a little creative and use it to make one of the most common dishes served in Spain known as the tortilla de patatas, or the Spanish tortilla (Spanish potato omelet) . One of the great things about this dish is that it is perfect for any meal – breakfast, lunch, dinner or as an appetizer and can be served hot or cold. I like mine warm, but it is traditionally served at room temperature.

Keeping with my simple recipe philosophy, this tortilla only has 6 ingredients: Spinach, bell pepper, eggs, potato, milk, and onion. Also, in line with in a DASH, this recipe is adapted to be pretty speedy, and can be made in under 30 minutes!

20130523-231432.jpgYou already know how much I LOVE eggs, especially frittatas. Well, the Tortilla de Patatas is the Spanish cousin to the Italian frittata. The major difference is that the frittata is baked, while the Tortilla is flipped in the pan and only cooked on the stove top – perfect for summertime when you don’t want to heat up your oven! Besides eggs, the other main component of the tortilla is potatoes. Delicious, starchy, thinly sliced, layered potatoes. YUM.

In my version of the Spanish tortilla, I decided to add baby spinach and red bell pepper. This way, you get some extra veggie in and still enjoy this decadent Spanish dish!

Big SPanish tort

The other great thing about what I did here is that I slimmed down the recipe a bit. Most Spanish tortilla recipes use a TON of olive oil. I have minimized the amount of oil needed for this dish, so you can enjoy this Spanish delight and keep your waistline! Less oil makes the tortilla a little thinner, but it still has the texture and taste of a real Spanish Tortilla. I promise.

Let’s make this tortilla in a DASH!

First peel and slice the potato very thin. I don’t have a fancy slicer or food processor, so I just sliced them thin with a knife. Cut and chop about a quarter of an onion and set aside.

20130523-231117.jpgAdd your potatoes to a heated pan with olive oil. Immediately after adding potatoes, reduce the heat. Your potatoes will NOT be in one layer, and this is ok. You want this. There will be a temptation to crisp up and brown your potatoes, but that is not what we’re trying to do here. We are cooking them to be just soft, not crisping them. Stir the potatoes occasionally as you cook them. After about 5 minutes, add the onion and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes, until potatoes are soft.

20130523-231143.jpgRemove potatoes and onions and a pinch of salt and set aside. Reduce heat to low and add the red bell pepper and spinach to pan and stir. This is just to warm and soften the veggies. We don’t want to wilt the spinach and we want to keep the peppers crispy for some texture.

20130523-231154.jpgYum! Next scramble up your eggs, milk, salt and pepper. After allowing the potatoes and veggies to cool for about 5 minutes, add them to the eggs and stir. Let this stand for a few minutes. I know it looks like there is not enough egg here for all the stuff, but trust me, the potatoes will make up the bulk of the dish, with the spinach being the STAR, of course.

20130523-231207.jpgHeat up the remainder of the olive oil in the pan and add the egg/veggie mixture. Gently pat the potatoes and veggies down to form even-ish layers and reduce the heat.

20130523-231228.jpgI know you are looking at this saying: “how the HECK is that going to hold together to flip it? That looks like a hot mess” I promise you, it does, and it may look like a hot mess now, but soon it will be fully cooked, and be in your belly.

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This tortilla is ready to be flipped!

When the edges start to pull away, run a rubber spatula along the edges to loosen up the egg. Run it around and around and scrape a little on the bottom all around so you know nothing is sticking and you can easily flip it. When the top is wet, but not runny, lift up the tortilla slightly and take a peak at the bottom – when it is lightly browned, it is ready to be flipped!

To easily flip, carefully place a large plate on top of the pan and flip the pan over so that the tortilla falls out. Next, Slide the tortilla back in the pan so that uncooked side of the tortilla is in the pan and the cooked side is up. Sorry that I didn’t have someone else around to photograph me doing this, but luckily, the internet is a educational place – check out this YouTube video that gives multiple ways to flip a tortilla. Don’t be intimidated by the flip.

YOU CAN DO IT!

Cook on the other side for 2-3 minutes, flip one more time to warm and you’re done!

20130523-231243.jpgAdd some salt and pepper to taste, slice up and ENJOY!

20130523-231331.jpgTender, layered potatoes, crunchy, sweet bell pepper and bold baby spinach. SO INCREDIBLY DELICIOUS!

20130523-231343.jpg I ate this for breakfast and then again for dinner. I was a little disappointed when I finished it and didn’t have any left over for lunch the next day. 🙂

Recipe: Spanish Tortilla with Baby Spinach and Red Bell Pepper

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Total time: ~25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 russet potato, peeled and quartered
  • ¼ cup of onion, chopped (I used a sweet onion, but you can use white or yellow)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon of milk
  • 2 oz of Fresh Baby Spinach, rinsed and dried (about 2 cups, not packed)*
  • ½ of red bell pepper, chopped
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Slice potato very thin, about 1/8 inch (I don’t have a fancy slicer so I used a knife. You don’t need to be exact – not cooking for the queen)
  2. Add one tablespoon of olive oil to a non-stick pan and heat until hot on medium high (I used a shallow 8inch pan – you can also you a 6inch as long as it is deep).
  3. Add potato slices to pan and immediately reduce heat to medium-low. Stir potatoes occasionally and cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add sliced onion to potatoes and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are soft. Remove potatoes/onion from pan, add a pinch of salt and set aside to cool before adding to eggs.**
  5. Add chopped bell pepper and spinach to the pan on low heat and warm to soften peppers and spinach for about 1 minute. Remove and set aside to cool slightly before adding to the eggs
  6. In a large bowl, combine eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Whip eggs with a fork to scramble. Add relatively cooled potatoes/onion, baby spinach and bell pepper and stir till combined.
  7. Warm the remaining olive oil in the pan on medium high heat until it is hot. Add the egg mixture to the pan and pat down with a rubber spatula to even out the layers. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for about 2-3 minutes. To ensure that the egg doesn’t stick, run a rubber spatula around the edges of the egg and under the egg.
  8. The tortilla is ready to be flipped when the top is wet, but not runny, and the sides are firm (see pic above). To easily flip, carefully place a large plate on top of the pan and flip the pan over so that the tortilla falls out. Next, Slide the tortilla back in the pan so that uncooked side of the tortilla is face down in the pan and the cooked side is up. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  9. Flip the tortilla one more time, and warm the first cooked side for another minute.
  10. Invert the tortilla on a serving dish and add some salt and pepper
  11. ENJOY

*Note that because the tortilla is cooking so quickly in the pan, the baby spinach just wilts slightly. If you wish to substitute mature spinach, be sure to cook and drain first. Mature spinach may release a lot of water that can mess up your tortilla.

**I stress cooling the potatoes and the veggies to prevent premature cooking of the eggs in the bowl.

Recipe Source: Deliciousinadash.wordpress.com

Breakfast Grilled Cheese

20130430-111912.jpgHappy National Grilled Cheese Month!! Well, happy last day of national grilled cheese month! I’m getting this one in just under the wire. But, I promise you, this sandwich is well worth the whole month I made you wait.

20130430-192033.jpgThis is a tasty, healthy and super FAST breakfast. It’s so fast and easy that you can hit the snooze button 5 times, take a long shower and STILL have time to make this sandwich before you leave for work. Yes, it is slightly more time consuming than pouring a bowl of cereal, but WAAAAY more satisfying. While your coffee is brewing, whip up this sandwich.

20130430-111855.jpgYou probably can tell from my Frittata post that I LOVE EGGS! The more ways to eat eggs, the better. This sandwich has lots of things I love in it. Eggs, apples, cheese, but more importantly, it has a flavor profile that I love: sweet and salty. Sweet, tart, crunchy apple with salty sharp melty cheese and a salty fried egg. MMMMmmm

The other GREAT thing about this sandwich is you only need 4 ingredients. That’s right, only FOUR.

1. Egg 2. Bread 3. Cheese 4. Apple

+ Salt/pepper/butter or cooking spray – these are freebies

I really outdid myself with the simplicity this time : )

So let’s get cracking on making this sandwich.

First prep your sandwich with cheese and 4 relatively thin slices of apple

20130430-111933.jpgYum. This is already a good sandwich. But it’s about to get better!

Next, fry up your egg. I chose to make a fried egg “over hard” for this sandwich, and then fold it to make it “sandwich friendly”. Over hard eggs hold together nicely, and you can keep the yolk a little soft, but not runny, if you like, by cooking it a little less (this is how I like it). If you make your egg “over easy” the egg will run when you put it in the sandwich and grill the cheese.

To fry up the egg, first spray a frying pan with nonstick cooking spray (or you can use butter) and heat up the pan on low-medium heat. **I usually crack my egg into a cup, and then gently pour it from the cup into a frying pan, this prevents the yolk from breaking and accidentally mixing up the white (scrambling). The egg should sizzle a little when you pour it in. If it isn’t, just turn up the heat on your burner. Cook the egg on medium heat until the white on top is solid. Then flip the egg over and cook it on the other side for about a minute or 2 until the yolk is soft but solid.  Then I fold the egg in half – fold one white side over to the other to cover the yolk (see below). This makes the egg a nice sandwich size

20130430-111959.jpg I squished my egg a little when I flipped it over in the pan and the yolk was not solid – and some yolk ran a little. But, hey, my food isn’t pretty like a picture, but it’s pretty damn delicious. When the yolk is cooked to how you like it, remove the egg from the pan and place the folded egg on top of the apples on your bread and top the egg with more cheese.

20130430-112007.jpgNow comes the familiar grilled cheese part. Place the sandwich back in the frying pan on medium heat. Gently press your sandwich down into the pan to help melt the cheese. You don’t need to squish the sandwich, just give it a nice, loving press. Cook on that side till the bread is a toasty color. Then carefully flip the sandwich and repeat loving press on the other side.

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The crunchy, sweetness of the apple gives a nice texture and flavor contrast to the melty, salty cheese and the tender fried egg.

Cut sandwich in half and dig in! This is your new, quick power breakfast! YUM!

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Recipe:

Breakfast Grilled Cheese 20130430-111922.jpg

Serving size: 1 Sandwich

Ingredients:

  • 1 large Egg
  • 2 slices of bread (I used wheat bread)
  • ¼ of Granny smith Apple (4 thin slices)
  • ½ cup of sharp cheddar cheese
  • generous pinch salt and pepper

Instructions:

  1. Spread cheddar cheese on one side of the bread and add 4 thin slices of Granny Smith apple
  2. Prepare a frying pan by spraying it with non-stick cooking spray and heat on low-medium heat
  3. Crack egg in a cup and pour egg into heated pan and fry egg on one side until whites are solid
  4. Add a generous pinch of salt and pepper to the egg
  5. Flip egg over, cook for about 1-2 minutes, until yolk is solid, but soft. (Test by pressing with your finger)
  6. Folded in half and remove egg from pan and place on top of apples and cheese.
  7. Add more cheese to the top of egg and top with other slice of bread
  8. Place sandwich in frying pan used to fry egg, and grill sandwich on medium heat.  Press sandwich down with metal spatula to melt cheese – cook for about 1 minute – or until browned.  *if pan is dry, add more cooking spray or butter before grilling the sandwich
  9. Repeat on other side
  10. Slice up and enjoy, cheesy, eggy, apply goodness!

*To make this sandwich more decadent, pan fry the egg in a tablespoon of butter (instead of cooking spray) and add more butter to the pan before grilling the sandwich.

Recipe Source: deliciousinadash.wordpress.com

Quick Wheat Bread

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Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m not a planner. This trait, or lack there of, makes it difficult to bake bread. Bread takes time. Bread takes planning. Bread takes a lot of waiting. I don’t do “waiting” very well. (Hence the DASH part of this blog). I do bake bread – if you want an easy recipe, I make Mark Bittman’s No Knead Bread. Sure, I make this delicious yeast bread once a month or so, but not often enough to have it AS my sole bread source in the house. That all changed when my friend Emily, introduced me to this quick wheat soda bread recipe. This bread is a staple in her family, and I had never heard of it before. Now, I almost ALWAYS have this bread on hand, either on the counter or in the freezer.

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Whenever I hear “Quick Bread” I always think of banana, pumpkin or zucchini.  However, “quick” just refers to using another leavening agent, such as baking soda (as used in this recipe), instead of yeast.

This quick bread is so GREAT because it makes an actual SAVORY, HEALTHY, tons of FIBER containing wheat bread, and uses NO YEAST. Which means, you can decide you want bread, and have it made in under 90 minutes.

Let’s review the reasons why this bread is AMAZING:

  1. It is delicious! The wheat bran gives it a very hearty texture.
  2. This is healthy bread, no preservatives like in store bought breads.
  3. It is REALLY easy to make – it takes about 10 min to prep and 60 min to bake.
  4. The wheat bran adds 6g of fiber, 2.5g of protein, per slice!! (If the bread is sliced into 16 pieces)
  5. It’s homemade bread. MMmmm. Hot, soft and hearty, right out of YOUR oven.
  6. It goes great with Frittatas and my Hearty Healthy Broccoli Soup

20130422-195115.jpgI know this takes an hour to bake, and I said above, I don’t like waiting. But, I meant, like waiting for things to rise (LIKE 18 hours of waiting). Besides, when this is in the oven, you can do just about anything in your house. Let me offer some suggestions: gab on the phone, shower, clean the house, play a board game, watch tv, do some laundry… a combination of all these things… you get the gist.

Ok. To be correct, I should probably call this bread: Wheat bran bread. But that really doesn’t have a nice ring to it. Most importantly, it doesn’t do the bread JUSTICE. This IS delicious bread. And it has part of the wheat in it – not the germ, but it has the outer part of the kernel – which is the bran. You can certainly make this bread with 1/2 whole wheat flour and 1/2 all-purpose flour. That is actually the original recipe from Emily. However, I changed it for the following reasons: 1. I didn’t have whole wheat flour when I made this a few times 2. Using all-purpose makes the bread less dense and I liked it better for sandwich bread when it was a little lighter.

Now that I have you drooling for fresh bread, you probably just want to know how to make this in a DASH?

In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and mix them well.

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Then in a separate bowl, combine the vinegar and milk to make easy buttermilk.  Stir and let this sit for about 5 minutes.

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The secret to this delicious, soft and healthy bread comes from these 3 simple ingredients I bet you have in your kitchen!

Next, pour the milk/vinegar mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir with a spatula or wooden spoon, just until combined.  Don’t over mix.  The dough will be sticky.

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Then add the dough to your greased loaf pan or form a loaf on a greased baking sheet.  I have baked this bread both ways.  It bakes great both ways!  I just like doing it in the loaf pan, because it comes out shaped more like a loaf of bread.

Bake at 350 degrees F for about 1 hour and TA-DA!  Fresh. hot. bread!

20130422-195059.jpgRemove from loaf pan and let it cool for a bit on a wire rack (if you’re fancy) or on a plate.  Then, dig in.  I love this bread with everything.  But nothing beats it smothered in sweet cream butter.  Mmmmm

20130422-195125.jpgDon’t deny it.  Your mouth is watering.  You wish you had wheat bran in your house so you could make this RIGHT NOW.  Go get some!  What are you waiting for?! It’s near where they sell oatmeal in your grocery store.  You can also order some online

20130422-195141.jpgLook how hearty that looks!  I promise you, it is surprisingly soft!  Mmm Mmm

You can also slice and freeze the bread in a freezer safe bag for a few months.

Yum!

Recipe

Quick Wheat Bread20130422-195115.jpg

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Wheat Bran
  • 3 cups white flour (you could do half wheat and half all-purpose – if you want a denser bread) – Be sure to measure flour by scooping into the cup.  Do not scoop with the cup.
  • 3 tablespoons of dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1 and ½ cups of milk ( I used 1% – you can use whatever you have)
  • 1 and ½ tablespoons of white vinegar

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Prepare a loaf pan (9”x5″) or a baking sheet by spraying with non-stick cooking spray or grease with butter.
  3. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients.  Stir so they are mixed well
  4. In a separate bowl, combine milk and vinegar.  Stir and let sit for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the milk/vinegar mixture to the dry ingredients
  6. Stir ingredients just until combined.  The dough will be sticky
  7. Pour/scoop batter into prepared loaf pan or mold a loaf on prepared baking sheet.
  8. Bake for about 55-60 minutes, until toothpick/butter knife comes out clean.

Enjoy with butter, peanut butter and jelly, hummus, soups, cheese…

This bread is denser than bread made with just flour.  If using for sandwiches, I recommend slicing thin.

Store bread in sealed container or bag.  If you would like crust to stay “crusty” do not store in air tight container.  Freeze in sealed bag.

Recipe Source: Adapted from my friend Emily’s Soda Bread recipe

Bacon, Spinach and Sweet Piquante Pepper Frittata

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About a year ago, I become addicted to frittatas. Like, really obsessed. I’d have friends over for brunch once a week and they would bring different things like pancakes, scones or muffins and I would ALWAYS make a frittata. Sure, I love eggs scrambled, fried and poached. But nothing is as versatile and as easy as the amazing frittata. One of my favorite reasons for loving the frittata is that you can put almost ANYTHING in it and it will taste great! Leftover vegetables from last night’s dinner you don’t want? Throw it in the frittata. Have some extra onion you need to use up? Throw it in the frittata. Do you have a little salsa left that is not enough for all those chips? Go ahead, it will taste GREAT in a frittata with some cheese! Ok, I hope I’ve sold you on the versatility and simpleness of a frittata. So keep reading. If I haven’t sold you yet, keep reading anyway. I bet you will be convinced by the end.

One of my best friends from grad school came to visit this past weekend. She was around for my frittata phase – that has clearly persisted – and so I made us a frittata for breakfast, you know, for old times sake. *I promise I won’t post frittata recipes too often, but here is the first one.

One of the best things about this frittata recipe is that 2 of the ingredients I have in the freezer pretty much at all times – bacon and spinach. The sweet piquante peppers (shown below) are jarred and DELICIOUS! They are slightly sweet, a little crunchy (even though they are jarred) and have a spicy kick to them. They are great in eggs, sandwiches and salads or just right out of the jar. I buy Peppadew peppers and keep them stocked in my fridge. Most people have pickles stocked in their fridge. I have peppers.

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*If you don’t have these peppers, you can always substitute jarred jalapenos. They are not as sweet, but have a similar spicy kick.

Oh yeah, and then there are the eggs. Of course I have eggs (well, most of the time). So a BONUS about this recipe is that I always have the ingredients on hand! And you can too!

The bacon I keep in the freezer and cut across the strips.

ImageThis way my eggs get a ton of flavor from the bacon, but not too much fat. You only need a little bacon to flavor your eggs. (I got this frozen tip from one of Melissa d’Arabian’s cooking shows) This tip changed my life with buying bacon.

Usually, I would buy bacon, and only use a few pieces and then it would go bad in my fridge. Now, I buy bacon, and whatever I have leftover that I haven’t cooked, I put in the freezer and save for eggs, chilli or whatever else needs a little bit of bacon. Well, I guess you’re probably saying right now, what couldn’t use a little bit of bacon, or a lot. : )

Ok, I digress, back to the almighty frittata!

First cut up the bacon, I used probably about 1/8 cup. But you can use more or less depending on your love of bacon. Fry up the bacon in a oven safe pan. I used a cast iron pan. While the bacon is frying on medium heat, thaw the spinach in the microwave. Spinach cooks down A LOT. I used about ½ to ¾ cup of thawed and drained spinach. When the bacon is just about crisp (or however you like your bacon). Add the spinach and stir. Next add the jarred piquante peppers – halved. Stir these.

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Your pan size, will dictate the amount of eggs you use in your frittata. My pan was about 6 and ½ inches and I used 4 eggs. If your pan is bigger, you probably need to use more eggs. If you increase your pan size and don’t use more eggs, your frittata will come out thinner (which is fine) but you will need to reduce the cooking time – about 6-10 min in the oven.

Add eggs and cook over medium heat until sides touching pan start to firm.

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At his point, place the pan in the oven at 400F and cook for about 10-15 min. until egg is fully cooked. Your kitchen will smell like bacon and delicious peppers. MmmmMMmm

If you like cheese, this is the point you can sprinkle some cheese on top and put it back in the oven for about 1-2 min. to melt Watch this! You don’t want your cheese to burn! I grated fresh pecorino romano cheese on top, but you can also you cheddar, parmesan or mozzarella – or really any hard cheese that you like!

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Let it cool for a few minutes and cut in 4 slices and enjoy!!

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Besides being super flavorful with bacon and sweet peppers with a spicy kick, did I mention this is actually good for you? Look at all those veggies you’re getting! And it’s only brunch. Now that you’ve had this, you can totally have that doughnut, muffin or scone!

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RecipeImage

Bacon, Spinach and Sweet Piquante Pepper Frittata

Serving size: 2

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/8 cup of bacon, sliced (or more, depending on how much you like bacon!)
  • ½- ¾ cup of frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 6 Sweet piquante peppers, halved (Peppadew Brand peppers) –you can substitute jarred jalapenos
  • ¼ – ½ cup of shredded pecorino romano cheese (you can use really any cheese – cheddar, mozzarella or parmesan. Or even better – all three!)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 400F

2. Cook bacon in a small (around 6-7 inch) oven-safe pan or skillet on med to med-high heat until almost crispy (about 5 min) – if bacon is frozen start at the lower heat setting and slowly warm up to prevent burning bacon.

3. Sauté spinach and peppers with cooked bacon for 1-2 min – just to warm up the components

4. Scramble 4 eggs well and add to pan. Stir so all the ingredients are spread evenly through the eggs

5. Cook on the stove top till eggs cook along the outer edges.

6. Transfer pan to the oven and bake at 400F for 10-15min, until firm in the middle. (gently shake pan and egg should not wiggle)

7. Remove pan, add shredded cheese and place back in the oven, just for 1 or 2 min till cheese in melted.

8. Let frittata cool for about 5 min. Run a knife around the outer edge to loosen egg away from side of the pan. Slice in quarters and serve

If you have any leftovers, store in a sealed container in the fridge. Leftover frittata makes a great lunch!

* If you are only using turkey bacon and/or are using a pan that sticks a lot, you may need to add a tbsp or 2 of oil (olive, canola, or vegetable) to prevent the egg from sticking.

Recipe Source: Deliciousinadash.wordpress.com