March 31, 2012

March 29, 2012

Cinnamon Sugar Skillet Sweet Potatoes

Lately, I've really had a thing for sweet potatoes. When I was a kid, I hated them with a passion. The main reason I didn't like them was because they were mushy & overly sweet. I love dessert, but just can't get into the candied or casseroled sweet potatoes that everyone seems to love.

Then I discovered sweet potato fries. Delicious! Those were followed by roasted sweet potatoes, and it went downhill from there. Now I can't get enough of them!

This recipe has cinnamon sugar, but the sweetness is balanced out by a touch of sea salt & pieces of onion. The cinnamon sugar infuses the potatoes with that homey scent & flavor that cinnamon gives, plus it helps to caramelize the potatoes.

I love how the inside of the sweet potato has such a unique pattern. They're very hard, but once cooked, they have such a smooth consistency. They're also super healthy.

 One medium sweet potato has just over 100 calories & tons of Vitamin A, plus beta carotene, Vitamin C, manganese & more. Details can be found here.

I'm always looking for quicker methods to make my favorite foods, so when I stumbled on Jessica's recipe for Sweet Potato Home Fries, I was intrigued. While the potatoes don't cook quite the same as when roasted in the oven, this is a much faster way to achieve very similar results.

Creamy pieces of sweet potato in 15 minutes vs. 50 minutes? I'll take it!

This fun foodie item was my inspiration for the flavoring. It's not over the top sweet & it gives the perfect hint of cinnamon. Plus it's way more fun to use than regular cinnamon sugar. However, if you'd like to make your own mixture, combine 1 T sugar with 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon. I usually use a full teaspoon of cinnamon, so feel free to adjust to your own tastes.

While you could cook this in any shallow pan, I prefer to use a cast-iron skillet because then small amounts of iron seep into the food as it cooks. Iron is super important in our diets & this is an easy way to sneak it in with minimal effort.

From skillet to mouth. Why did I bother with the bowl? It just wastes time.

Cinnamon Skillet Sweet Potatoes
Serves 2-4

2 tsp. virgin coconut oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2" cubes
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon sugar mixture (or use about 10 grinds from the Trader Joe's jar shown above)
ground cinnamon, optional garnish

Heat a cast-iron skillet on medium heat. Add coconut oil. Once melted, add chopped onion. Saute briefly, about 2 minutes, then add sweet potato cubes. Stir to combine, then spread evenly in skillet & allow to cook without stirring for about 5 minutes. Sweet potatoes should brown lightly before you stir them. Once browned, stir & cook another 5-8 minutes or until cooked through. Season with sea salt & cinnamon sugar. Remove from heat & serve. Garnish with additional cinnamon if desired.

March 20, 2012

Lemon Pepper Kale

There's nothing like a plate of greens to give you a burst of energy!

We eat kale pretty often & if you saw my garden last summer, you know I grew plenty!
I still have a little bit left to use before the next patch starts growing, so I'm trying out a few new methods of preparation. Since this crop lived through the winter, it has a sweeter flavor from surviving the frost. Any kale will work for this recipe, though!

This would make a light meal if paired with some crusty bread or topped with beans, hummus or tempeh. It's the perfect food to kick off spring!

I'm loving this crazy warm weather! 70 in March? I'll take it!

Lemon Pepper Kale
Serves 2

1 bunch kale, washed & stems removed
1/2 large yellow onion, sliced
1 tsp. coconut oil
Juice from 1 lemon
1 T lemon pepper seasoning
1/2 tsp. sea salt

In a large, non-stick skillet, melt coconut oil over medium heat. Add onions & cook to soften, about 5 minutes. Add kale & cook, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes. Pour lemon juice onto kale & continue to cook until it turns dark green & wilts slightly, another 5 minutes or so. Season with lemon pepper & sea salt. Serve warm.

March 17, 2012

Cherry Infused Vodka

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

From the beginning of January until mid-March, I have the same thing on my to-do list: file taxes. It stays on there for a long time because first I have to wait for all the paperwork, & then I have to wait until I'm ready to commit to actually spending a precious evening pulling everything together.

So since this is no one's favorite thing to do, I've designed the perfect process for us.

1. Slowly accumulate all your tax info into a folder 
2. Buy some cherries & a bottle of vodka
3. Combine the two
4. Mark you calendar for 1 month later
5. Strain out the cherries
6. Pour some of your creation into a glass with ice
7. Sit down & do your taxes

See? Fool-proof! Maybe we should make this an annual thing.

I started making this on February 11. It really took a lot of effort.

 It requires 4 weeks of patience, but don't let that intimidate you! It's simple. Just a little shake each day to keep things mixed.

Look at how much richer the red is after just 1 week! The cherries are almost white because the vodka leached out most of their color. They look pretty gross, actually.

A month later, wah-lah! Flavored vodka. The real deal, no artificial flavors or food coloring. Just pure sour cherry.

It didn't get much darker as the weeks went on, but the longer soaking time makes it all the more flavorful.

Let's have a toast to taxes!

Note: Don't eat the cherries after soaking, unless you're into chewing on intensely vodka flavored rubber.

Sour Cherry Infused Vodka recipe at

I used 1.5 pounds of washed, stemmed, & pitted frozen sour cherries & 1.75 L of 80 proof vodka. The recipe said that I didn't have to pit them, but we received them that way. I feel like the pits probabaly contributed a richer color, but either way, this still tastes like cherries!

March 14, 2012

Chocolate Almond Mousse Pie

π      Happy Pi Day!    π

Let's celebrate with really rich, really chocolately, super delicious pie!

Seriously, this stuff is amazing. I have so many ideas for variations in flavor & toppings. S'mores pie? Strawberry Truffle Pie? Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie? Almond Joy Pie? The possibilities are endless!

The chocolate almond was delicious, though. When I first tasted it (by licking the spoon, of course!), the almond flavor was super subtle. As it sat, though, the flavor really developed. I like the depth the almond brings to it, while still keeping that strong chocolate flavor.

The darker the chocolate you use, the more chocolatey the pie will be. You can use milk chocolate, but I think the dark chocolate flavor really is best with the almond flavor. For me, the darker the chocolate, the better, so your tastes will definitely vary.

I guess I have to address the fact that the first ingredient is tofu. Don't let it scare you. Even if you hate tofu, you will LOVE this. I promise. You can't taste it at all & it allows you to make a very rich tasting dessert with much lower stats than a traditional mousse has. This pie is low in sugar, high in protein, & lower in calories than traditional mousse. Yay!

Chocolate Almond Mousse Pie
Adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie
Inspired by Upside-Down Fudge-Almond Tart
Serves 8

1 (19-oz) package firm tofu (I used this)
1 T cocoa powder (I used Special Dark, but regular is fine, too)
12 oz. dark chocolate (either chopped bars or chocolate chips)
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. pure almond extract
1 T unsweetened almond milk
1 1/2 T amaretto
1/8 tsp salt
3 T pure maple syrup
1/3 c sliced almonds

In a microwave safe dish, heat the chocolate in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until melted. Add all ingredients except sliced almonds into a blender and blend until smooth & creamy. Pour into a 9" round pie plate. Toast sliced almond briefly on the stove in a dry skillet over med-high heat. Sprinkle over the pie. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving to chill & finish firm up.

March 12, 2012

Goal: Headstands


My new goal: hold a supported headstand for 3 minutes.

So far, I've crashed & burned a lot. I'm to the point where I can hold one for 30 seconds with the occasional foot to the wall for balance.

Maybe once I can do that, I'll be able to do a full handstand! I have a lot of yoga poses that I'd like to master, so I have a Pinterest board to inspire me.

Some of them are inspirational, but seem insane, such as:

Pinned Image

and this:

Pinned Image

Maybe someday? It would be so empowering to know I can hold myself up & balance like that. Yoga is really helping me with flexibility & balance, as well as causing me to be more aware of my body. I love the feeling of strength it gives me.

I look more like the kitten, but I feel like the woman! :-)

March 9, 2012

Red Lentil & Roasted Chestnut Soup

I'm taking a poll (over on the right sidebar) to see what percentage of people actually like V8 Juice.

That stuff stinks. Everytime I smell it, I think it will somehow smell better, but no. Occasionally, I take a tiny sip from the Bup's glass, forgetting how bad it was the last time. It's always horrible. I just can't handle drinking something savory.

I love soup, but I'm not a broth person. I like a thicker soup, so that I can have the broth in each spoonful instead of drinking it at the end.

The Bup would just drink broth. He has no trouble with drinking V8, plain tomato juice, or straight up broth. He'd probably love a Bloody Mary if he ever had the opportunity to try one. Me? I'll take a mimosa, thanks.

This soup tastes nothing like V8. In fact, if V8 tasted more like this soup, I might be able to drink it. The chestnuts add a hint of sweet to the soup & cut the tomatoes' acidity. The lentils add a thickness to the broth that I love. It's a very filling soup, perfect for warming up on a cold day.

A Few Notes:
  • I used the chestnuts that I roasted & froze in the fall, but you can purchase roasted chestnuts at the store.
  • If you don't want to buy fresh thyme or basil, you can use dried. I would use about 2 tsp. of dried thyme & 1 T dried basil. Start with a small amount & add more to taste.
  • You can easily halve the recipe. It makes a lot!
  • It would be delicious pureed as well, so if you like a smooth & creamy soup, cook according to the directions below & then puree using an immersion blender (after you remove the bay leaves!).
Red Lentil & Roasted Chestnut Soup
Adapted from Lidia
Serves 8-10

3 T extra-virgin olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 dried bay leaves
1 28 oz. can crushed fire roasted tomatoes
3 quarts water
8 large fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 pound roasted chesnuts, quartered
1 pound red lentils
1 T salt
freshly grated parmesan (optional)

In a large pot (at least 6 quart in size), heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is warm, add the garlic. Stir & cook until the garlic is lightly browned & fragrant. Remove thyme leaves from stems & add to pot along with the bay leaves. Cook for a minute to release flavors. Stir in the tomatoes. Bring to a boil & allow to cook for 2-5 minutes, to concentrate the flavors.

Pour in the water, basil & chestnuts, & return to a boil. Partially cover the soup, leaving room for steam to escape, & simmer until the chestnuts soften, about 1 hour.

Rinse the lentils. Stir them into the soup. Add salt & return to a full boil. Turn heat down slightly, cover, & cook at a low boil for 30 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Remove the bay leaves.

Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle with cheese if desired, & serve! 
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