Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Chipotle Black Bean Quesadillas with Cumin and Chive Dipping Sauce

This quesadilla was sort of a happy accident...I didn't even plan on posting the recipe (hence the lack of great photos) but so many of you have requested it after my instagram photo that I figured you'd be happy to find out how easy it was! I recently mentioned I've been trying to focus on more vegetarian dishes, and this dish was born as a replacement to chicken quesadillas. It's embarrassingly simple. I kinda don't want to tell you about it. But hey...we all need those "halfway there" meals, right?

I made these to take to a girl's night and they vanished pretty quick.  I heard that the ones I left at home for my family also disappeared. So I'm thinking these babies are either pretty tasty or they have a magic component that makes them vanish into thin air...

Serving: 1 quesadilla

-1 10 inch flour tortilla
-1 Morning Star chipotle black bean veggie burger (I purchased at Costco)...alternatively if you don't have access to these veggie burgers you can mix a 15 ounce drained can of black beans and same sized can of drained corn with 1 tablespoon taco seasoning, but it won't have the exact same texture or flavor that everyone is raving about.
-3 tablespoons shredded Mexican blend cheese
-cooking spray
-1 teaspoon taco seasoning

To make
-Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
-Spray tortilla with cooking spray and sprinkle taco seasoning over the oiled side. Fold over flour tortilla in half to make a half moon, with the seasoned side facing out. Open the tortilla up and sprinkle half the shredded cheese.
-Remove the veggie burger from package and break it up to fit over the cheese. Don't worry about precooking the veggie burger.
-Sprinkle the remaining portion of cheese and close the tortilla into half moon shape.
-Place onto a baking sheet and bake in the middle rack of the oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until the tortilla crisps and cheese melts
-Remove from the oven and cut in half.
-Serve with dipping sauce.

Cumin and Chive Dipping Sauce

This sauce is very versatile and one I make to accompany many dishes. I switch up the flavors a little bit every time but I've found that my basic version is everyone's favorite, so that's what I'll share with you :)

-1 cup plain yogurt (I usually use fat free)
-2 tablespoons milk (start with 1 tablespoon and add more to desired consistency)
-2 tablespoons dried chives (or diced fresh green onions)
-1 teaspoon cumin seeds
-1 teaspoon paprika
-1 teaspoon ground coriander
-salt and pepper to taste
-optional: 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro

To make
-Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until everything is incorporated and smooth.
-Serve and enjoy!

I'd love to connect with you! Like SavvyChef on facebook and follow @savvy_chef on instagram.  Tag #savvychef in your creations!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Browned Butter Ginger Molasses Cookies

I've been making these cookies for several years. They're the perfect chewy and soft gingerbread cookies. The recipe originates from a tea shop in New York called Alice's Teacup. Everything I've ever made from this cookbook is amazing.  So much so that if the cookbook has a recipe for something I'm looking to make, I won't do anymore searching for a better version. For a food blogger, that says a lot about my confidence in these recipes :) This past year I've been OBSESSED with anything salted caramel, and I'm constantly trying to sneak that flavor into anything I bake. So naturally this year when I went to bake these cookies again, I thought "Duh!" browning the butter will give a caramel-y flavor to these cookies without actually adding any more calories. Woohoo! And thus the transformation has taken place.  Browning butter is so fun and it adds such a depth and complexity to any baked good. I really think that 99.9% of the recipes out there will taste a million times better with browned butter. Especially this one. The nutty caramel aroma and flavor that the browned butter adds to these cookies just screams FALL.
Let's talk fall. Back to school, routine, cooler weather, the changing color of leaves, and the excuse to bake anything with pumpkin (look for lots of those recipes coming your way soon.)  I wanted to pass this recipe on for those who are itching to bake a fall-flavored treat and haven't gotten a chance to get some pumpkin yet. I spent a lot of time yesterday searching for the perfect pumpkin debut recipe for this season, only to get into my kitchen ready to start and discover that the can of pumpkin that I keep on reserve had been used up :/ Then I remembered these babies and all was right in the world ;)
Probably my favorite thing about getting rid of summer heat is that baking becomes fun again! During the summer I seek out recipes that don't require the use of my oven, and during the fall I seek out those that do! Between the amazing aroma that comes from browning the butter and the spicy scents of cinnamon and ginger as these bake, members of your family will be racing to the kitchen to get a taste.
Head's up! I've actually made this cookie dough as the base for a new recipe I'm working on...it's going to be awesome and I can't wait to share it with you all! More fall flavors (with actual caramel!) and no pumpkin. I know there are lots of fall lovers who just can't get themselves on the "We love anything and everything pumpkin" bandwagon. I'm here for you guys.  So make your first batch into cookies and get ready to enhance on these flavors again!

-2 1/4 cups flour
-2 teaspoons baking soda
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1 teaspoon  ground ginger
-1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
-3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
-1 cup packed brown sugar
-1/4 cup white sugar
-1 egg
-1/4 cup molasses
-1 teaspoon vanilla
Additional 1/4 cup white sugar for sprinkling on cookies after baking

Rounded spoonful's are flattened and ready to bake

To make
-Brown your butter: Heat a medium sized frying pan on medium heat. Add butter and whisk gently as it begins to melt. Keep whisking as the butter foams. Continue to whisk as you carefully watch for the color of the butter to go from light cream to a light brown. The aroma will start to smell like caramel...this is my favorite part! At this point remove from heat and continue whisking, making sure to scrape down the sides of the butter so nothing burns. If your butter has a lot of brown specs in it (some of the butter solids burned) then place a fine strainer over your mixing bowl and pour it through. Place the mixing bowl in the freezer for about 10 minutes until the butter cools and begins to slightly firm up. *alternatively you can skip this step and use room temperature butter...
-Combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in a 2 quart bowl and set aside.
-Once your browned butter has cooled down, remove the bowl from the freezer. Add the brown and white sugar to the butter and beat with an electric mixer until well combined. Add the egg, molasses and vanilla and continue mixing until mixture is smooth and well blended.
-At a low mixing speed, add the dry ingredients a little bit at a time until the dough is mixed.
-Transfer the batter back into the 2 quart mixing bowl that had the dry ingredients, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. I like to refrigerate the dough for a few hours. The flavors will absorb each other better and chilled cookie dough tends to bake better. You may also just refrigerate in your mixing bowl, but I like to transfer it to a Tupperware because I don't always bake all the dough at one time.
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-After your dough has chilled sufficiently, remove it from the fridge and form tablespoon sized balls of dough and place them 2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Using the back of a spoon, slightly flatten the balls of dough.
-Bake 8-12 minutes @ 350 degrees or until the cookies have spread out and are slightly browned on top.
-Remove from oven and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Cookies will crack as they cool to get the charmingly rustic look of ginger molasses cookies.
-Enjoy :)

*Your cookies will not bake properly if your dough isn't chilled!
*I make the dough up to 5 days in advance and bake when I'm ready...the flavors set in really well and the taste is amazing!

Nutritional Information
Serving size: 1 cookie
Servings: 20
Calories: 162
Fat: 7.5g
Saturated fat: 4.5g
Total carbohydrates: 23.1g
Sugar: 12.1g
Protein: 1.8g

Straight out of the oven and piping hot!

I'd love to hear from you guys! Like SavvyChef on Facebook and follow @savvy_chef on instagram. Don't forget to tag #savvychef in your creations :)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Three Bean and Corn Salad

Looking for a quick salad that can either serve as a side dish or a vegetarian entrĂ©e? You found it! Making this took me all 1, 2, 3...10 minutes (in fact, you should know that writing this post took me about 5 times as long as making it!). Anyway, I live for these recipes :)  When you pick up the stuff to make this, go ahead and glance at the nutrition labels. The fiber content is outstanding, and the protein is a plus too! Lately I've been trying to vary our food intake with more plant based and less meat centered meals. Growing up in a Middle Eastern household, most of our traditional cooking involves meat, a small portion has chicken, and vegetarian dishes are mainly sides. This salad is inspired by my friend's mother in law, because as soon as I tried her version I went back for seconds and thirds!


Yields 8 servings at 3/4 cup each serving

-15 ounce can red kidney beans
-15 ounce can white kidney beans (also called cannellini beans)
-15 ounce can black beans
-2 cups roasted fresh corn kernels or 1.5-2 cans corn kernels
-1/2 cup diced red onion
-1 cup loosely packed cilantro, finely chopped
-juice from 1 large lemon (about 2-3 tablespoons)
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-1 tablespoon lemon pepper seasoning (optional)
-salt to taste
-1 large avocado, chopped into cubes (about 1 cup)
-optional: diced jalapeno for an extra kick

*Note: If you are not using lemon pepper, you may need 1 more tablespoon lemon juice and a dash of black pepper.

To make
-Open, drain and rinse in a colander the cans of beans. Once the water has drained, add them into a medium sized salad bowl. Add fresh roasted corn (or rinsed and drained canned corn), red onions and cilantro.
-Add lemon juice, lemon pepper, olive oil and salt. Mix to combine and once everything is well mixed, gently mix in the chopped avocado.
-Serve and enjoy!

Nutritional Information
Serving size: 3/4 cup or about 6 ounces
Servings: 8
Calories: 196
Fat: 7 grams
Saturated Fat: 1 gram
Trans Fat: 0 grams
Total Carbohydrates: 28 grams
Dietary Fiber: 8 grams
Sugar: 4 grams
Protein: 8 grams
I'd love to connect with you! Like SavvyChef on facebook and follow @savvy_chef on instagram.  Tag #savvychef in your creations!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Salted Caramel Cookie Butter Ice Cream

I sort of feel like I don't have to type anything about this ice cream, because as soon as you read how quick and easy it is to make, and then when you taste it and your eyes widen and your pupils dilate, you'll just GET it. Eat it alone. Don't bother with a bowl. Nobody did in this house. Or make it into waffle ice cream sandwiches with a sprinkling of sea salt. That's how I liked it because its so darn pretty looking, but the truth is it doesn't need anything additional.

My kids and I had a lot of fun doing this together. We made it right before bed time (IN 10 MINUTES) and the next morning it was good to go! I was feeling very nervous about it at first because the mixture is soft when first mixed and I was hesitant about what the consistency would be like. So the next morning I took a spoon and tried it straight from the freezer and then quickly refrained from having more! With giddy excitement I texted my family that we were having an ice cream sandwich party at my house that afternoon!!! I even served this to my husband's nephew as breakfast one morning :)

This was my first attempt at making ice cream. I've never felt like I would use an ice cream machine enough to want to add another bulky piece of kitchen equipment to my collection...then I came across a picture on pintrest and immediately went to Trader Joe's to get the stuff. Then I waited and waited until I knew I'd have a captive audience in my home who could eat this quickly enough so my husband and I wouldn't gain 10 pounds enjoying it on our own. The day this opportunity came we didn't bother with pictures...so then I waited and waited again for another opportunity to remake it and take some shots for you guys. And here it is, my dears. I hope you enjoy!


Adapted from keepitsweetdesserts.com
Makes about 1 1/2 quarts of ice cream

 -2 cups very cold heavy cream
-1 14-ounce can (fat-free!) sweetened condensed milk
 -2/3 cup Cookie Butter
-1 cup speculoos cookies broken in half
-1 tablespoon vanilla extract
-about 1/2 jar of fleur de caramel from Trader Joe's (1/2 cup)

-In the large bowl of an electric mixer with whisk attachment, beat cream and vanilla on high speed for several minutes, just until stiff peaks form
-While whipping cream, in a separate large bowl, stir together remaining ingredients (condensed milk and cookie butter)
-Once cream is ready, fold it into cookie butter mixture. Stir in broken cookie pieces.
-Pour 1/3 the amount of ice cream into a large sized tupperware. Pour out a layer of the caramel. Don't mix. Scoop another 1/3 of the ice cream over caramel and then pour more caramel. Repeat a third layer using remaining ice cream and caramel. Using a butter knife, give a VERY LIGHT swirl to the caramel on top. Cover with saran wrap and then tightly seal with the lid of container.
-Freeze for 8 hours or overnight
-To make into sandwiches use the butter waffle cookies from Trader Joe's.

I'd love to connect with you! Follow me on instagram as savvy_chef and tag #savvychef in your creations :)

The cookie butter/condensed milk mixture alone is amazing

Ready to be covered and frozen


Chocolate Chococolate Chip Zucchini Cake

I couldn't get a picture before someone stole a few loaves!
This stuff...I don't know whether to call it a cake, bread, bar or brownie....but its incredible! The flavor is so amazingly rich, deep and decadent you'll feel like you're cheating with every bite you take. And that's the best part. It's so secretly healthy you almost want to scream that out loud with every morsel you inhale. Zucchini is in abundance during these summer months, and this recipe is a way to sneak it in without anyone knowing. I was so pleased with this cake that I couldn't help myself and told everyone who tried it all about the zucchini...except the kids!

Since I'm a chocolate fanatic, I really load it up with cocoa powder (woohoo, another guilt-free factor...extra anti-oxidants!), so go ahead and scale it back a little. I'm really in love with the intense dark color of this cake...whenever I see a light colored chocolate cake I'm immediately unimpressed without even taking a bite. The darker the color, the deeper the flavor!  Since the chocolate chips are mini, its little soft bites of chocolate that don't harden even when cooled, mmm! I've baked it in mini loaf pans, as cupcakes with colored marshmallows, as gifts in loaf trays and brownie style in a baking pan. My favorite way...and the fastest...was in the 9x13 pan because that's when it was the most moist and fudgy.

I'm going to be totally honest with you guys...what made these really irresistible is the peanut butter frosting. SADLY, I don't have any decent pictures with the frosting and the cake...so I can't post that recipe until I remake it...which is a good excuse to head into the kitchen right now, if you ask me :D For now I recommend frosting this with a yummy fudge sauce. I like the one from Trader Joe's because its easy to understand the ingredients. Healthy eating is not all about low fat foods! Stay tuned for the PB frosting :)

For the kiddos...a little marshmallow is ok when you've got all that zucchini hiding inside ;)

-2 eggs
-1 cup sugar (plus up to 1 cup more for a sweeter cake...the kids definitely prefer it sweeter. If you're not frosting it, definitely use a total of 1 1/2 cups of sugar)
-1/3 cup melted coconut oil
-2/3 cup applesauce
-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-2 cups grated zucchini (don't use a zester to grate zucchini or your cake will stay too mushy, and don't use a grater with large holes because you will be able to see the zucchini pieces. Medium sized grater is best)
-2 squares melted semi-sweet baking chocolate (or 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, to be added with dry ingredients)
-2 cups flour
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1/4 cup cocoa powder
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1 to 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

To make
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 inch pan with coconut oil spray (I buy mine from Trader Joe's, or use another non-stick cooking spray)
-Using a mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, coconut oil, applesauce and vanilla until well combined, about 2 minutes. Then add the grated zucchini and melted chocolate squares.
-In another bowl combine dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, salt and cinnamon. Mix together and add to dry ingredients while mixing together. Mix until everything is well combined but don't over beat the batter or it will get tough as it bakes. Fold in chocolate chips and pour into pre-greased pan.
-Bake between 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool before you slice.
-Top the cake with powdered sugar, chocolate fudge or peanut butter frosting
Straight from the oven, and pre-frosting. The smell of chocolate, vanilla and cinnamon is mouth watering

These were such cute 'thank you' gifts for my son's teachers!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Mediterranean Turkey Wrap

Today I bring you an easy but unique turkey wrap. This can easily be made into a vegetarian sandwich if you prefer. I make a lot of things that are either too complicated to post (grape leaves, kibbeh, etc.) or too easy (using shortcuts like a boxed mix or ready sauce) and this falls into the 'too easy' category.  A lot of you have reached out to me for these easy recipes, so here is a good one :) My 4 year old surprised me and had a whole wrap!

You can grab everything from one store for this (Hi, Trader Joe's!) and it takes minutes to assemble. I use the yogurt and cilantro dip for various things, and I especially love it in this wrap because its a healthier and more flavorful alternative to mayonnaise. Be careful not to layer the dip as the first ingredient because it will make your bread go soggy faster.

Makes one wrap

-1 lavash wrap
-1/4 cup arugula or spinach leaves
-1 slice of Havarti cheese
-3 slices deli style turkey breast (omit this for a veggie sandwich)
-2 tablespoons cilantro and chive yogurt dip
-3 strips roasted red pepper
-3 slices avocado
-black pepper to taste

-Place lavash bread with the long edge spread horizontally. Lay out cheese in a row about 1/4 of an inch from the edge of the lavash bread.
-Layer ingredients over each other in the order listed: arugula, cheese, turkey,  ONE TABLESPOON of cilantro and chive yogurt dip, roasted red pepper, avocado and black pepper.
-Spread remaining one tablespoon of the cilantro and chive yogurt dip lengthwise along the end portion of the lavash bread. This will help seal the sandwich together.
-Carefully wrap the sandwich over three times. Cut horizontally and serve.
-Enjoy :)

This are some of the ingredients that specifically come from Trader Joes

Follow me on instagram @ savvy_chef and tag me in your creations, I'd love to see what yumminess you cook up :)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Balsamic Fig and Arugula Pizza

When I enjoy something, I can't just 'like' it, I have to 'LOVE' it.  And when I love it, I think about it constantly, talk about it annoyingly and just let it consume me completely. The 'it' I keep referring to in this case is my current obsession: fresh figs! I heart them with all my heart. So much so that I refuse to look up the calorie count for figs because I want to eat them without mentally calculating anything.

Since I'm obsessed (rightfully so) I try to figure out how to incorporate them into every food category possible. Fig jam has been a long time favorite of mine, and if you haven't tried Trader Joe's fig butter, I suggest you run over there now and grab a jar.  Fig balsamic vinegar came next, found in specialty shops and farmer's markets. Dried figs are a must in my home, and soon I'll share my fig truffles recipe with you guys.

But today...today, I bring you my latest and greatest.  I thought about this recipe and researched "the internets" long and hard for the best combination. There's nothing like this out there, I'm very pleased to admit ;)  The sweetness of the honey blends perfectly with the softness of the figs, and the balsamic glaze is a tart and sweet combination to the figs. The smoked mozzarella adds another dynamic of flavor that is mellowed out with the creamy ricotta. The crunch of the nuts, the tang of the red onion...this pizza is a culinary delight to your taste buds!

Makes 1 pizza

-1/2 cup cornmeal (optional)
-1 pound fresh pizza dough
-1/4 cup honey
-8 ounces smoked mozzarella log, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
-8 ounces ricotta cheese
-2 cups fresh figs, cut in half or quartered
-1/4 cup fig balsamic vinegar (or best quality, thick vinegar glaze you can obtain)
-2 cups arugula
-1/4 cup finely diced red onion
-1 tablespoon walnut oil (or olive oil)
-1/3 cup chopped walnuts
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/2 teaspoon black pepper

To make
-Preheat oven to whatever temperature you bake your dough. I usually bake mine at 400 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet or pizza pan with non stick spray and sprinkle cornmeal over the pan. Shake the cornmeal around and tap out the excess into a sink. Stretch out your pizza dough and bake halfway on LOWER rack in the oven, about 6-8 minutes for my dough.
-Remove half baked pizza dough from the oven and arrange sliced mozzarella diagonally on the crust, about 1 inch apart across the dough. Then spread ricotta in the gaps between the mozzarella pieces. Arrange figs, flesh side down, on top of the cheese. Sprinkle the pizza with black pepper. Return to the oven and bake about 10 more minutes on the MIDDLE rack.
-While pizza is baking, mix together arugula, red onion, walnuts, salt and oil in a medium sized bowl.
-When the mozzarella is melted and the figs look a little caramelized, remove from the oven and drizzle the balsamic glaze on top. Lightly spoon the arugula mixture all over the pizza, slice and serve. I sliced the pizza into 24 slices using a baking sheet.

Follow Savvy_chef on instagram and tag me in your posts, I'd love to see what you make :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Loaded Tea-Infused Granola

Granola all filled and pretty for my family

 I miss you guys! It's been 9 months since I posted and that pretty much coincides with when my life became insanely hectic...but thanks to instagram, I'm back and motivated to share a bunch of easy recipes with you. Just because I haven't been blogging, doesn't mean I haven't been cooking and I've got an archive of yummy stuff to share with you!
I really enjoy granola, but every time I look at the nutritional information I find it's loaded with fat...not my idea of a healthy food. When I consume a high calorie, high fat item, I like it to be sugary, gooey and hopefully full of chocolate ;) Making granola myself has given me the ability to incorporate all the flavors I love and remove the ones I don't.  I've made this a lot recently...for reasons I can't describe making granola makes me very happy! I love the process, I love the smell that fills up the kitchen, I love the quick cleanup, I love the way little alterations will make the texture go from soft and chewy to nice and crispy, and I really love that if stored properly this will sit around for a while.  I've been tripling this recipe the last few times I made it and the results are stellar every time!
Like everything I share with you guys, its easy to make and comes together fairly quickly. Don't be intimidated by the long list of ingredients, they're just spices and typical pantry staples. Feel free to switch out the fruit and nut combos (but if you don't like the results don't blame me for it!) to accommodate what you have on hand. 
We eat this alone, as cereal or as a topping to Greek yogurt and fresh fruit.
Adapted from Alice's Tea Cup
Makes about 7 cups
- 2 1/2 cups rolled or quick oats
-1 1/2 cups chopped nuts (I like to use at least 2 kinds. My favorite combo is the sesame honey cashews from Trader Joe's and chopped almonds)
-1 1/2 cups dried fruit (I use equal amounts golden raisins, orange cranberries, and apricots)
-3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
-1/4 cup sesame seeds
-1 tablespoon flax seeds (you can use up to 2 tablespoons)
-1 tablespoon chia seeds (you can use up to 2 tablespoons)
-1 tablespoon cinnamon
-1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1 1/2 tablespoons ground flavored tea (This is the SECRET to this delicious granola, and you can play a lot with the flavors depending on what tea you use. I use my spice grinder, open about 3 bags flavored herbal tea and grind to a fine consistency. You can also just place the tea on the palm of one hand and rub your palms over each other quickly to crush the tea. I especially like ginger peach tea and honey vanilla chamomile).
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-1/2 cup honey, plus more for drizzling
-1/4 cup melted coconut oil
To make:
-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil (for easy cleanup) and spray with non stick cooking spray (I use a coconut oil spray)
-In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients (everything EXCEPT the vanilla, honey and coconut oil). Mix well
-Add the vanilla, honey and melted coconut oil and mix very well. I use my hands to make sure the honey isn't clumping and all the oats get wet and coated.
-Spread evenly on the greased baking sheet and pat down firmly with a spatula.
-Bake on the middle rack in the oven for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown.
-Remove granola from oven and flip over in sections using a spatula. Press down firmly and drizzle honey over the granola.
-Return to middle rack in the oven and bake for another 8-10 minutes.
-Remove from the oven and let it cool completely. Break it up into pieces and store in an airtight container.
-Enjoy :)
*To make crispier granola, drizzle less honey and spread into a thinner layer. Bake for the full 10 minutes.
*To make chewier granola, drizzle more honey, spread into a thick layer and bake for 8-9 minutes.
Check out SavvyChef on instagram #savvy_chef and tag me in your creations!
Greek yogurt, granola, strawberries and peaches

Prepping the granola...lots of ingredients but it comes together quickly
I've doubled and recipe and it still goes fast!

Making granola is a great recipe for kids! Just measure, dump and mix!


Friday, October 25, 2013

Coconut Almond Chocolate Muffins

These are for all the chocolate lovers of the world. I threw in some extra flavors like coconut and almonds into the mix, but don't be fooled....chocolate heaven is awaiting you with each bite.

This recipe came about because I was itching to finish up my buttermilk before it went bad. I'll buy the carton for pancakes and then scrounge around trying to find other uses for it. For muffins and cakes, buttermilk is magic. The acidity in the milk acts as a self riser for your batter. Whenever I have some on hand I replace regular milk with buttermilk and for recipes that I had previously used plain milk I see a difference in how high the muffins/cakes rise. It's awesome!  I also feel like the buttermilk gives my desserts that "professional bakery" taste that many home recipes are lacking ;-)

Makes 16 muffins

2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon (or 2) ground espresso coffee beans (or insant coffee crystals)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup coconut oil (if firm then melt)
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup chocolate chips (milk, semisweet or dark)
3/4 cup chopped almonds
optional: toasted coconut flakes

To make
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pans with baking cups
-Mix together flour, cocoa powder, white and brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, coffee and salt.
-Add coconut oil, eggs, buttermilk and vanilla and mix until all ingredients are incorporated. Take care not to over mix so your batter doesn't get tough.
-Add chocolate chips and almonds.
-Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full.
-Sprinkle optional toasted coconut flakes if using.
-Bake on bottom rack of oven for 18-24 minutes, starting with the lowest baking time and inserting a toothpick into the middle to check if baked through. Muffins are done baking when a few crumbs are stuck to the toothpick.

*Reheating left over muffins for about 15 to 20 seconds before eating the leftovers melts the chocolate chips again and makes them super delicious

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Spinach and Pomegranate Salad

This salad is so simple to make but it looks and tastes like an elegant starter fit for the fussiest of company! It is loaded with vitamins to boost immunity during the cold/flu season.  My daughter cheers for joy when I make it because she loves the tang of the sumac and the sweetness of the pomegranate...not to mention the fact that it is void of her nemesis: tomatoes ;)

Toss the salad RIGHT before serving, and keep it in the fridge if you are going to prepare it earlier in the day. My experience with salads has taught me that serving them cold will ensure that the salad retains a crisp bite to it :)

 I also use this same recipe for my spinach fatayir (empanadas/pastries) but that will come another day. Stay tuned ;-)

Serves 5 to 6 adults

-12 ounces baby spinach
-3/4 cup fresh pomegranate kernels
-2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
-juice of 1 small lemon
-2 tablespoons sumac
-1/3 cup good quality olive oil
-salt to taste

To make
-Roughly chop spinach.
-Add pomegranate seeds, red onion, walnuts.
-Top with lemon juice, sumac, olive oil and salt
-Mix until well incorporated and serve
 -Enjoy :)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Balsamic Mushroom and Onion Calzone

There is just something so satisfying about breaking into a sauce-smoothered dough to have cheese and delicious ingredients spill out! I had some extra pizza dough on hand recently and I rummaged though my brain (and fridge!) to see what I could fill it with...the result was a super yummy calzone that had my family wishing I had more leftover dough :)

Serves 6
-1 lb pizza dough, split into 6 equal parts
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-1 large vidalia onion, sliced into strips
-1 lb fresh crimini mushrooms, sliced
-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
-2 tablespoons fresh tarragon or 1 tablespoon dried tarragon
-salt and pepper to taste
-2 cups shredded cheese (I recommend an Italian blend of mozzarella and parmesan)

-1 tablespoon olive oil
-4 large tomatoes
-3 cloves of garlic
-2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning
-1/2 cup water
-salt and pepper to taste

To make
-Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
-Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray
-On a clean surface sprinkled with flour, roll out each mound of dough to about 8-10 inches x 4 inches
-Heat olive oil in a skillet and cook onions for about 5 minutes until halfway cooked. Add mushrooms, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and continue cooking on medium heat about 5-10 more minutes, until the onions have caramelized and the vinegar has reduced to a glaze. Stir in the tarragon and remove from heat.
-Place about 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup onion and mushroom mixture on on side of dough. Sprinkle 1/3 cup cheese on top of onion mixture. Fold over the long end of the dough and crimp the edges closed. Repeat with remaining dough and mixture.
-Arrange calzones on baking sheet and bake for about 12-17 minutes, or until the top is golden and the dough seems cooked. Cooking time will vary depending on your dough.
-While the calzones are baking, prepare the sauce by heating oil in a sauce pan. Puree tomatoes and garlic and add to the heated oil. Add seasoning, water, salt and pepper and cook on medium heat until the sauce has thickened and reduced to desired consistency, about 10 minutes.
-Remove Calzones from oven and put onto individual serving plates. Spoon about 1/2 cup sauce on to each calzone and serve.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mexican Lasagna

When I first came up with this, I made it three times in one week. For the same people. Yes. It is that good! I played with it each time that week, but the first way was definitely the best. I can describe this lasagna on and on...like how cool it is to make it with flour tortilla instead of lasagna noodles, or how delicious that top layer of tortilla is because it gets crispy and crunchy in the oven, or how refreshing the sour cream is when drizzled on top...or you can just make it and discover your own list of favorites!

Serves 6

-6 8 inch flour tortillas, cut in half
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-1 large onion, finely chopped
-1 bell pepper any color, finely chopped (or 1 cup frozen mixed bell pepper medley)
-1 whole chicken, cooked, meat removed from skin and bones then shredded (I buy a rotisserie chicken and shred it myself)
-4 cups salsa
-1 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
-14 ounce can black beans
-1 cup corn
-1 1/2 tablespoons taco seasoning
-1 tablespoon cumin seeds
-1 tablespoon dried coriander
-salt and pepper
-16 ounces sour cream
-3 cups shredded cheese
-1 cup diced green onions

To make
-Heat oil in a pot and add onions and bell peppers. Cook for 5 minutes. Mix in shredded chicken, 2 cups salsa, cilantro, black beans, corn, taco seasoning, cumin seeds, coriander salt and pepper.
-Spray a 9x13 baking dish with  non-stick spray.  Spread a thin layer of salsa and place 4 tortilla halves to create a layer of bread along the bottom. Spread 1 cup salsa on top of bread, then spread 1 cup sour cream.  It will look messy, but don't worry.  Add 1/2 of chicken mixture over sour cream. Sprinkle with 1 cup of cheese. Repeat layers (tortilla, salsa, sour cream, chicken mixture, cheese) 1 more time and end with a layer of tortilla bread. Do not put salsa on top layer.
-Sprinkle cheese on top layer of tortilla and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the top layer has browned.  Remove from oven and drizzle with sour cream then sprinkle with diced green onions.
-Slice and serve

Friday, October 14, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownies

This is what it looks like pre-baked

bake to puffy goodness :)

sliced and ready to go!

I hope you're ready for another easy brownie recipe, because here it comes! One day I figured brownies and cookies would be an awesome combination, so I started researching recipes. All the ones I found required baking brownies and then making a separate egg-less cookie down that gets spread on top after the brownies are baked.  Sounds kind of weird...and time consuming. So I did my own experimenting and confirmed my hunch that this was super simple to do.

I took these bars to a dinner party and the reaction was "Brownies...AND cookies?!...Amazing!"

These are really dense, so a nice cup of milk is a great way to wash down them down!

Use your favorite brownie recipe and your favorite cookie dough recipe...or use a mix like I did!

-1 box brownie mix, prepared as directed
-1 pound chocolate chip cookie dough (feel free to use the refrigerated kind, I don't judge ;-))

To make
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-Prepare brownie mix and spread in 9x13 inch baking pan.
-Scoop tablespoons of cookie dough evenly all over the pan.
-Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until brownie seems set and cookies have puffed up slightly.
-Let cool and then slice into bars.
-Devour with a cup of cold milk :)