Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Sea Salt Popcorn

How is it already the middle of December??!! Am I the only one who thinks this year has flown by?

I don't come from the most traditional family in the world. This in turn has made me someone that really likes traditions- it's funny how that happens, isn't it? I've always been a bit of the oddball in my family because I love hearing family stories and other people's family stories. One of my traditions (my FAVORITE traditions) I have every holiday is getting together with some my favorite girl friends and having a girls weekend. They're people I met when I moved who quickly became my urban family. Some have moved away, some have stayed, but we always  get together around the holidays to have what you can only call a completely decadent and completely amazing weekend.

This popcorn was the perfect thing to have as a snack while we caught up. Chocolate. Peanut Butter. Sea Salt. I'm pretty sure you can't go wrong with this combination on anything. Throw in popcorn and I'm yours forever. Seriously- this stuff is that good. The chocolate and peanut butter aren't overly sweet; the hint of sea salt is enough to make this completely addictive. (Have you realized by now that sea salt is my answer to everything?) I'm not going to admit how long this lasted with us- let's just say it wasn't long.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Sea Salt Popcorn

  • Popcorn 
  • 1 1/2-2 cups Peanut Butter (I prefer crunchy)
  • 1 12oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • sea salt
  • oil  for popping
Pop desired amount of popcorn. Meanwhile, melt chocolate in a double broiler. Once chocolate has melted, mix the peanut butter into the chocolate and stir until the peanut butter has combined with the chocolate. Lay the popcorn out on a cookie sheet and drizzle the chocolate peanut butter mixture over the popcorn. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Try your very best to share the bowl. I know, it's hard. 
Love you guys! 

Sunday, December 15, 2013


I love the holidays. I love the lights, decorating trees, and the smell of fresh cider in the farmers markets. There's something about this time of year that just makes everything seem....better, even if you are far away from home.

My family was never really into the whole gift-giving idea. For us, the holidays were more about spending time with each other. Honestly, I probably didn't enjoy this nearly as much I should have growing up, but now that I'm older, I really appreciate that my parents tried to instill this in me at an early age (thanks, guys!).  I've tried to bring this tradition with me throughout the years and now try I give my friends and neighbors DIY gifts (as if I needed an excuse to make something). 

This year has been pretty crazy with working and Jason literally buried under exams. Enter limoncello. I had a laundry list of things I wanted to make but I didn't have time to be running to a ton of stores or to be in my kitchen all weekend long. Limoncello was the perfect solution. Within minutes the vodka was ready and after a few days of infusing I had the perfect gift to take to my girls weekend, with plenty left over to sample (you know, quality control and all). 

Limoncello adapted from Martha Stewart
  • 9 Lemons, organic if possible
  • 150 ml 100 proof vodka
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups sugar

Wash and dry lemons well very well. Using a vegetable peeler, strip off the zest. Reserve the lemons for another use. Put the lemon zest and the vodka in an airtight container- store in a dark area for 2 days and up to 1 week (I infused mine for 6 days). 

Combine sugar and water and bring to a boil. Let cool. Using a fine sieve, strain out the lemon zest from the vodka and discard. Mix the cooled sugar mixture with the vodka and store in the refrigerator for at least one day. For best results, store in the freezer. 


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Red Beans and....Quinoa

Ok, I'll admit it. We eat a lot of quinoa in my house. Ok, this might be understatement. We eat a ridiculous amount of quinoa. Being gluten free, I'm always looking for different ways to eat quinoa so that it doesn't get, well...you know...boring. Sometimes even slight adaptations, like red beans and quinoa rather than red beans and rice, can make a world of difference.

This recipe came together after staring at my pantry forever trying to figure out what to make for dinner. Clearly, it was time to go shopping because the pickings were slim.  This is the kind of meal that is perfect for the end of the week when your cupboard is bare, as you probably already have these things.  This is testimony that you can almost always make a home cooked meal, even if you have practically nothing in your refrigerator. Throw a few things together in the pot and !Voila! a delicious meal in a matter of minutes.

Red Beans and Quinoa

  • Quinoa 
  • 2 15 oz. cans of red kidney beans (do not rinse)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp Extra Virgin olive oil
  • Avocado (optional)
Prepare desired amount of quinoa. Set aside. In a non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent- approximately 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and the bell pepper and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes. Serve on top of quinoa and garnish with avocado. 

Congratulate yourself on making a ridiculously simple, yet utterly delicious, meal. You deserve it! 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Braised apples for a snowy day

It's a snow day! There's nothing quite like waking up to snow falling outside your window. Knowing that you don't have to trudge to work in it makes it *all that much sweeter*. A cold day calls definitely for something warm and slightly special for breakfast: braised apples!

My mom used to make these ALL the time when I was young- I loved them. I think she was always surprised that I wanted them because they're so easy, but so good. The cinnamon caramelizes into a syrup that coats the apples and goes perfectly with whatever you pair it with- yogurt, oatmeal, peanut butter- you name it. I eat them on their own for dessert or put them on top of pancakes. The possibilities are endless.

Braised Apples

  • Apples (I used the seven that were in my fridge), chopped
  • 2-3 Tblsp cinnamon (more depending on preference)
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of allspice
  • 1/4 cup water
Put all of the ingredients in a large non-stick skillet and turn onto medium heat. Cover until the water is boiling. Uncover and stir occasionally. Add more cinnamon if necessary and stir until the apples are done, approximately 3-5 minutes. 

Pile them on top of your oatmeal and enjoy the snowfall (from the comfort of your couch, of course). Happy snowday! 

Monday, December 9, 2013

black olive and manchego Socca (aka the BEST flat bread)

We need to talk about the amazing thing that is Socca. My love for socca runs deeeeep. Socca is forgiving (it only has three core ingredients after all) and it doesn't care if you want to experiment. Go on- add those extra spices! Throw in that extra cheese!

I've experimented with several variations and I'm pretty sure that this one is my favorite- it's definitely the most requested. And it's not just because it has black olive tapenade on it, though let's face it: anything with black olive tapenade on it will be delicious. The manchego and black olives make a perfect combination, while the red pepper gives it a slight kick.

The one downside of Socca is that it takes a little bit of planning- you have to mix the flour and the water at least an hour in advance. I know what you are thinking: 'Planning? Riiiight. I am never going to make this. Ever.'  Ok, hear me out. The mixing takes literally fives minutes.  You could do also do this a day in advance and then set it aside. Either way, you're rewarded with something insanely delicious, slightly nutty, and on the whole, not that bad for you. After all- it's just chick pea flour. How bad can it be?

Black Olive and Manchego Socca

  • 1 cup Chickpea (garbanzo) Flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
  • 1 cup water
  • olive oil
  • black pepper
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon Red Chile Pepper flakes (depending on personal preference)
  • 1/2 cup grated Manchego cheese
  • Black olive tapenade 
  • pinch of salt
Mix 1 cup of chickpea flour with 1 cup of water in a large bowl. Mix well and try to incorporate all of the flour. If you can't incorporate all of the flour, don't worry- set aside for at least one hour and up to one day. 

After at least one hour, the flour and water should be fully mixed.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and prepare your skillet- I used a cast iron (preferable), but any oven safe baking dish is fine. As the oven has almost reach desired heat, put the dish in the oven to get very hot for at least 5 minutes. After five minutes, take out and put a tablespoon of olive oil into the skillet and swirl to ensure the pan is well coated. Put the skillet back in the oven.  

To the chickpea mixture add:  a teaspoon of olive oil, a pinch of salt, black pepper, 1/2 of the portion of cheese, and the red pepper. Mix well.

Take the skillet out of the oven. Add chickpea mixture to the hot skillet and put back in the oven. Bake for approximately 5 minutes, remove, and sprinkle the remaining cheese on the top. Put it back in the back in the oven and continue baking for approximately five more minutes, or until the edges start to turn golden brown. 

Remove from the oven and spread olive tapenade on top. I've never heard of too much olive tapenade- have you? Nope, didn't think so. 

            Cut into slices and proceed to *try* not hoard. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sea Salt Krispy Treats

I'd been debating what to do for my inaugural post. Should it be sweet? Savory? However, the minute I tried this, I knew I had a winner. The sweet-salty combination with the slight coffee flavor makes these completely addictive. The only problem now is trying to make them last until tomorrow.

Sea Salt Krispy Treats Adapted from shutterbean 
  • 1 stick salted butter
  • 1 1/2 bags (10 oz. each) marshmallows
  • 5 cups crisped rice cereal
  • 2 cups salted roasted almonds and peanuts chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground coffee (not instant)
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt 
  • 1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • cooking spray
  • sea salt 
Line a 9 inch baking dish with foil and spray with cooking spray. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium low heat. Add 1 1/2 bags marshmallows and cook, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth (about 5 minutes).  Stir in ground coffee and half of the chocolate and then remove the pot from the heat.
Using a spatula (I sprayed the spatula with cooking spray so it wouldn't stick), fold in the remaining ingredients. Fold until the mixture is evenly distributed.  
Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Press the mixture into an even layer and sprinkle with sea salt. Let it cool completely and cut into squares to serve. Devour when no one is looking. I won't judge.

I ended up putting in a couple of the extra marshmallows, but I don't think I would do that next time- these are good enough on their own.

Just because it's the holidays, I'm throwing this one in. Completely gratuitous I know, but I can't help myself.