Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Pink Detox Smoothie




It seems like I have been going through a serious baking/cooking phase on the blog.  And while I love sharing new recipes, one of my New Year's resolutions for 2014 was to improve my photography skills and broaden my range. After struggling for the first few weeks to find people/things to photograph, (this awful winter has really made going outside painful) I realized that I needed to start photographing something that I love and have daily access to.  So with that in mind, photographing what I eat seemed like the perfect solution (I can only take photos of my husband so many times before he gets bored).  So I will be using the blog to start sharing all of the recipes I make for Stephen and myself on a daily basis (as well as sharing whatever else I'm photographing)!

Cooking has always been such a fun thing for me. I have so many fond memories cooking alongside my Mom growing up, however, I didn't really start cooking on my own until I left for college. When Stephen and I got married, I found that cooking was really a way for me to tap into my creative outlet and just have a good time (most times dancing/singing along to Pandora Radio).  Almost two years later, my cooking skills have definitely improved, and I have realized how much I love challenging myself to try new things and experiment.

Anyways, enough about me! Let's talk about today's recipe!  How gorgeous is this smoothie?! When I saw a similiar recipe on ohsheglows.com I knew I had to make something similar! What I love is the amount of fruits and veggies packed into one serving, and of course its bright pink hue! I am a firm believer in leading a healthy lifestyle filled with variation!  I love eating fruits and veggies, but I also enjoy a good dessert (with butter and real sugar) and I think the key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle is viewing food as a way to fuel your body. When I look at my food in ways to give me energy, keep me full, or even improve my complexion, I tend to eat more "real" foods and feel so much better when I do!  And while eating sugar in excess isn't recommended, I do believe that forgetting about the calorie count and indulging in a yummy treat is totally acceptable (and suggested!).

Here is what you will need:

1 cup coconut water (I used ZICO)
1/2 cucumber (roughly chopped)
1 cup strawberries (I used fresh, but frozen works as well)
2 bananas (I used fresh, but frozen works as well)
1 beet (I cooked mine the night before and refrigerated over night so it didn't make the smoothie hot)
1/4 c. beet juice
1 tbs. coconut oil
Juice of one lemon
1 apple (I used a green apple roughly chopped)
2 cups. ice cubes

notes:
*If you want some added sweetness you can add a tablespoon of honey.
** Adding Chia Seeds will thicken the smoothie and add protein






Monday, March 17, 2014

Super Greens


On the heels of yesterday's post, I decided I had to show you the perfect way to incorporate falafel into a larger meal (even though eating them by themselves is totally recommended!).  I discovered super greens after eating at a local restaurant here in DC called Cava Mezze Grill ( it's a Mediterranean take on the beloved Chipotle -think sustainable/healthy food- and it is by far my favorite place to eat, ever). While my version isn't an exact copy, they come pretty close! Here is what you will need:

Super Greens:

6-8 brussel sprouts
4 cups fresh kale roughly chopped
1 cup shredded red cabbage

Falafel:

See previous post for ingredient/instructions

Lemon-Herb Tahini Dressing

1/4 cup tahini
1 1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 milk (to thin mixture)
2 tbs. fresh cilantro
2 tbs. fresh parsley
2 tbs. fresh lemon juice


Serve with a warm pita and enjoy!

Note: I also like to pickle red onions and use them as a garnish to the salad.  Look for a post on pickling for instructions!



Sunday, March 16, 2014

Falafel with Lemon Tahini Dipping Sauce



Lebanese/Mediterranean food has always been a favorite of mine.  In High School, my family discovered an amazing market/restaurant called Neomonde in Cary, NC that not only sold Gyros, Hummus, Grape Leaves, and Tabbouleh but also served Falafel (made to order) that was to die for!  Since I have moved away from home, I have made it a goal to try and eat there whenever I visit.  A few months ago (when I was feeling particularly homesick and hungry) I decided it was time to try and make Falafel on my own.  They were amazing!! But, I didn't photograph them so I knew I had to make them again so I could share the recipe with you! Here is what you will need:


Falafel:

2 cups diced onion
2 cups cooked and drained chickpeas (I used one 15.5 oz. can)
6 garlic cloves
1 cup packed cilantro
1 cup packed parsley
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 C. all purpose flour
About 1/2 to 1 Cup Canola oil for frying (or enough to generously coat the bottom of the pan)
Pita bread (for serving)
1 Cup Sesame Seeds

Tahini Sauce:

1/4 c. Tahini
1 1/4 c. Plain Yogurt
2 Tbs. Lemon Juice


Directions:

In a food processor add the diced onion and garlic cloves.  Pulse until finely minced (but not purĂ©ed). Remove mixture and set aside for later.  Add chickpeas, parsley, cilantro, salt, chili powder, cumin and pulse until roughly blended. Now, add the onion mixture along with the baking powder and 1/4 cup of the flour and pulse until the mixture begins to form a small ball and is not sticky (I had to use a bit more flour so don't hesitate to add more if your mixture is too wet). Transfer mixture to a bowl and let sit in the fridge for an hour.

While the Falafel mixture is setting, combine the ingredients for the Tahini Sauce in a blender and mix until well incorporated. Transfer the sauce to a bowl and let chill in the fridge.

About 5 minutes before the Falfel mixture is ready, begin heating Canola Oil in a sauce pan over medium heat and preheat the oven to 350.

Once chilled, remove the Falafel mixture from the fridge and (using an ice cream scoop) form mixture into balls.  Once formed, roll each ball into the Sesame Seeds making sure to fully coat the exterior. One by one, carefully drop the balls into the oil.  In my experience, they will brown rather quickly so don't take your eyes off of them! Once browned place on a cookie sheet to cool (make sure you place a paper towel underneath to make sure you don't have hot oil collecting on your countertop!)  After the Falafel has been browned, place into the oven to finish cooking through for about 10-15 minutes.

Once cooked, enjoy warm with pita and dipping sauce!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Baby Reed

A few days ago, my friend Rebekah gave birth to a beautiful little boy named Reed.  I was initially planning on photographing little Reed's first days in the hospital, however, INOVA instituted a "no-visitors" policy and I was unable to do so.  Luckily, the Hilton family allowed me to reschedule for an "at-home" visit the next morning!  It was so much fun to hang out with Rebekah and Peter and their beautiful baby boy and I thought I would share some of those photos with you!




















Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies



Let me just say, I have been baking non-stop for the past week (or at least, it feels that way).  In all seriousness, I love that I have had all of this extra time (Polar Vortex, I'm talking to you) but I don't think my waistline is thanking me for it.  Which brings us to today's sweet treat, Chocolate Chip Cookies!! And they are THE BEST! Which is why I'm not ashamed to admit that I've eaten 3 of them today (which is especially impressive when one realizes how big these things really are).  Anyway, I actually found this recipe via a student of mine! His mom is ALWAYS baking something delicious (major perk: I usually get a plate of extras) and as soon as I tried these, they became my absolute favorite cookie. They are slightly crispy on the outside and ooey gooey on the inside, so regardless of your personal preference (my husband and I prefer the gooey kind) this cookie will hit the spot!  Here is what you will need:

Ingredients:

For sugar mixture:
  • 1 1/2 C sugar
  • 2 C brown sugar
  • 1 lb (two sticks) unsalted butter
Cream together until fluffy
  • Add 2 Tbs. vanilla
  • Add one at a time: 3 eggs
Flour Mixture:
  • 5 1/2 C flour
  • 1 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 1/2 t. baking soda
Blend well and add 4-6 C. chocolate chips (I like to use half dark and half milk chocolate chips from Ghiradelli )

Note: I used a cookie scooper to make my cookies uniform...but this is just a personal preference, so feel free to use your hands!

Bake at 350 until cookies appear almost done (I made mine rather large so they took about 14 min to fully cook). And enjoy!! Let me know if you try them out or have any questions in the comment section :)



Monday, March 3, 2014

Soft Homemade Pretzels with Sea Salt


Have you ever pinned something that you are DYING to try but somehow always forget to buy the ONE ingredient you need to make it?  Yeah...me too.  After 4 trips to the grocery store and each time forgetting to buy yeast (I know, right?)...I realized I had an issue.  And when I FINALLY remembered to put the darn thing into my cart, I knew I had to make the pretzels immediately.  And let me tell you, they are deliciously soft and salty, everything I was hoping they would be! And if you like to dip things....this recipe is a home-run! Here is what you will need:



  • Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
  • 22 oz all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
  • 2 oz unsalted butter, melted
  • 10 cups water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • Pretzel, Kosher, or course sea salt
Directions:

  1. To make the pretzel dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the water, sugar, yeast, and salt on low speed for 10 seconds. Switch to the dough hook and add the flour and butter. Mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl and transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set it in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size. (I just stuck mine in a warm oven)
  2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface and divide it into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Place a barely damp towel over the dough and the formed pretzels to prevent them from drying out while you form the other pretzels.
  3. At this point, you can freeze the formed pretzels on the baking sheets. Once completely frozen, transfer them to a large zipper bag and continue to freeze until you need them. Use within 2 months.
  4. To make the pretzels: Preheat the oven to 425° F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
  5. Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an wide 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan. 
  6. Using a spatula (or fine-mesh basket), gently lower the pretzels into the boiling water and boil them for 30 seconds.Depending on the size of your pot, boil 2 to 4 pretzels at a time. Remove the pretzels from the water using the spatula, drain as best you can over the pot, and place them on the baking sheets. Brush the top of each pretzel with some melted butter and sprinkle with the pretzel/Kosher/sea salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. 
  7. Enjoy with any dipping sauce of your choosing!


Polar Vortexes And Candied Grapefruits

As I'm writing this post, the "Polar Vortex" (AKA the HUGE storm dumping snow here in VA) is raging on outside our window.  Maybe I was naive, but I was under the impression that the weather here would be much milder than that in Utah.  This Winter has definitely proved my assumption to be false.  However, as a result of the crazy weather I have been able to cook/bake more than usual and have a few awesome recipes for you guys to try! First up, Candied Grapefruit!



This first recipe was a little infuriating as I had to start over three times in order to get ALL of the bitterness out of the grapefruit (good thing they only require three ingredients).... But it was worth it! Not only do these look AMAZING but they are delicious as well! Here is what you will need:

Makes 36 Pieces

Ingredients:

The peel of 2 Grapefruits (I quartered mine, then peeled the skin and cut it into bite sized pieces)
1c. Granulated Sugar
2c. Water
1/2 c. Granulated Sugar

Directions:

1. Cut and peel the grapefruit (as directed above)
2. Get a large pot and put the peels in along with enough water to cover them by about 2 inches.
3.  Set on the stove over a medium/high temp. and let come to a boil then reduce to a simmer and let sit uncovered until only 1 inch of water remains (or about 1 hour).
4.  When the peels are almost ready, in another saucepan, combine the 2 cups water and 1 cup of the sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat and stir to dissolve the sugar, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir the drained, still-warm peels into the syrup. Let stand for 6 to 8 hours at room temperature.
5. Return the pot to a low heat until the peels have absorbed most of the mixture (about 30 min).
6. Transfer peels onto waxed paper and ;et dry for 12 hours (over night).
7. In a shallow bowl, using the remaining sugar, roll the peels one at a time to coat them in the sugar and let dry for an additional 2 hours.
8. Store in an air-tight container