Chocolate Hazelnut spread! (vegan)

For my entire childhood, and several years into my adult life I had never experienced Nutella. Until I was living in Europe, that is.  In Germany I got my first taste of Nutella, and eventually an Italian version called Hazelnuss Spread that was even better!  Once I returned to the states and really adjusted my diet to a more whole food/plant based take I knew there would need to be some changes made to my favorite nut butter to make it healthy and vegan.

With lots of internet searching and how to’s I found my favorite version of this chocolatey wonder!  I never knew how simple it would be to make your own nut butter/spread and how much better it would taste!
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Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
-adapted from; Chocolate Covered Katie
Ingredients
2 1/4 cup raw hazelnuts
1 1/2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup raw agave nectar
1/4 tsp salt, + a pinch
1/2 cup almond milk
2 tsp coconut oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

On a baking sheet roast hazelnuts for 10-12 minutes, until the skins become dark brown and start to wilt.

With a clean kitchen towel, or paper towel rub the skins of the hazelnuts and place in a food processor.  Pulse until the hazelnuts become smooth.

Add all remaining ingredients, and pulse until fully incorporated.

Store spread in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  This spread is delicious right away, but it does become a bit sweeter after is sits in the refrigerator overnight.
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Enjoy on toast, muffins, or by the spoonful!

Thanks for stopping by!

Welcome back! Return from vacation–(spicy peach salsa)

Hello all!

Sorry for the long break in posts!  I hope you all enjoyed the holiday weekend, I know I sure did.  After a much-needed trip I am back to the daily grind.  So let’s jump right in!  For BBQ’s or any occasion salsa is one of my go to sides.  I cook with salsa constantly, and it’s my personal favorite dip.

Nothing beats homemade salsa with truly fresh ingredients.  Right now peaches are in their prime and lend themselves perfectly to many recipes.  So here is my take on sweet and spicy salsa!
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Spicy Peach Salsa
Ingredients
2 Large tomatoes
1 peach
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
2 jalapenos, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 cup packed cilantro
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp lime juice
1/2 tbsp olive oil

For this recipe I used a Ninja pulse blender, but you can also use a food processor, or regular blender.

In a small saute pan over medium heat oil, and saute onions and garlic for 6-8 minutes.
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Meanwhile, seed the tomatoes and jalapenos.  Place tomatoes, jalapenos, and cilantro in your food processor, and pulse.  Add peaches, lime juice, and salt, and pulse until incorporated.  You can pulse until smooth if you like, I prefer a chunky salsa.  Place all your blended ingredients into a bowl and stir in onions and garlic.
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Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  The salsa can be served immediately, however I prefer letting it chill in the refrigerator and allowing the flavors to blend for at least 2 hours.

Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies (vegan)

Preparing for vacation can be a lot of work, and when you are looking forward to relaxing at the beach it can always be disappointing to have bad weather in the forecast.  It has been raining up and down the east coast for several days, with no end is sight.  It seems as though we may be celebrating 4th of July indoors this year.  When the rain looms outside and I feel a little trapped there is always something I can whip up to brighten my mood.  Cookies, the cure all to bad weather blues!

Peanut Butter and chocolate go hand in hand.  This delicious combo can be done so many different ways.  My particular version is not too sweet.  It is a great snack or dessert treat!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies Image
Ingredients
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup almond milk
1/2 cup agave nectar (you can add a bit more sweetener if you desire)
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup dairy free chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment combine peanut butter, agave, coconut oil, and vanilla.

In a separate bowl sift together, flour, oats, baking soda, and salt.  

Slowly alternate adding the flour mixture and milk into the wet ingredients. Beginning and ending with flour.  Mix until just combined.
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Stir in chocolate chunks.  Place 24 even scoops of dough on the prepared baking sheet, and press each scoop down with a fork.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.

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Nothing beats the smell of fresh baked cookies!  Enjoy–and if you are traveling for the holiday have a safe journey and a wonderful trip!

Vacation Picks- 4th of July Packing List

Summer is upon us, and planning what to pack for a weekend away can always be a little stressful.  With 4th of July right around the corner I have complied a list of my top travel picks for a summer getaway.

Sunscreen
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Supergoop Endless Summer pump is wonderful!  Keep safe in the sun with a great sunscreen.(available at amazon.com)

Swim suit
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The perfect bathing suit is a must for a beach vacation!  Feeling comfortable is very important to me, and this Tommy Bahama one-piece suit is both functional, and fashionable. (available at Macys.com)

Floppy Hat
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Having fair skin makes me particularly prone to sunburn.  I like to hide out in the shade, or make my own shade with a great floppy hat. (available at target.com)

Cover up
VictoriaSec
No trip to the beach is complete without a cover up.  This t-shirt dress cover up is an easy addition to a beach bag, and always looks effortless. (available at victoriasecret.com)

Sunglasses
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Not only do you have to protect your skin from harsh UV rays, but your eyes need protection as well.  An amazing pair of shades will help you look great too! (available at TOMS.com)

Summer Reading

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Whether your lounging poolside or stuck indoors this summer you can’t go wrong a good book.  Summer reading is my favorite part about vacation, I am currently reading Atonement by Ian McEwan (available at your local library, amazon.com, and Barnes and Noble)

Sun Dress

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Packing light is important when traveling, especially if you have to share a suitcase with two boys.  I love sun dresses for summer time because they’re easy to pack without getting wrinkled, and can be dressed up or down for many occasions. (available at us.asos.com)

Comfortable Shoes

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If you are traveling by air, by sea, or by land it is important to have a comfortable pair of shoes for walking.  Having achy feet can easily ruin a wonderful trip.  These Bensimon tennis shoes are easy to pack into even the smallest luggage and are simple to just slip on and go. (available at shopbop.com)

Enjoy the weekend, and a great start to the summer!

Pizza ( vegan/dairy free)

If there is one food that is universally loved by almost everyone, it’s pizza.  I have loved pizza as long as I can remember, and my family makes our own pizza at least once a week.  As I have recently distanced myself from dairy it has been a struggle to find a pizza recipe that will be satisfying, without using faux cheese.

I think I have found a recipe for dairy free/ and cheese lovers alike to enjoy.  My son certainly loved it because he ate his own share, and stole a few bites right out of my hand!
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Pizza
Ingredients
pizza dough (homemade or store bought) I use this recipe: http://www.annies-eats.com/2010/04/29/perfect-homemade-pizza-crust-tips-and-tricks/
1/2 red onion
1/2 green pepper
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
cilantro for garnish (optional)
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of sugar
cornmeal for dusting

Hummus Spread
1 15oz can chickpeas rinsed and drained
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp chili powder
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
water

To prepare the hummus, saute garlic in a small saute pan over medium heat with 1 Tbsp oil.  Allow the garlic to cook until fragrant.  Approximately 6 minutes.
Rinse and drain chickpeas, place chickpeas, spices, salt, garlic, and oil, or water in a food processor and pulse until smooth.  Approximately 5 minutes.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  If using a pizza stone, allow to heat in the oven as it preheats, at least 30 minutes.

Roll out dough on parchment paper sprinkled with cornmeal. Spread the hummus mixture, and arrange peppers, onions, and tomato halves.  Drizzle toppings with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar on tomatoes.  Add fresh cilantro.
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Bake for 8-9 minutes, until crust is golden brown.  Allow pizza to cool for 1-2 minutes before slicing.  Serve immediately, and enjoy!

Black Bean Quinoa Burritos (vegan)

Having a relationship with food can be like any other relationship in life.  There are the times that you want to labor on and pull out all the stops to make a beautiful masterpiece, and there are the days you wish for things to be simple, and take the easy road to make everyone happy.  Some days my head fills up with so many new things to try in the kitchen that I cannot seem to wait to cook everything, and then there are times that the efforts of imaging a great dish completely eludes me, and so I turn to one of my tried and true favorites.

A wonderful weeknight dish that can be made with items easily found around my pantry and fridge is burritos.  I love anything with a bit of spice, and making burritos in the summer is especially easy because I almost always have some key ingredients on hand.  What are some weeknight dishes that you love and go to when nothing else comes to mind?
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Black Bean Quinoa Burritos
recipe adapted from :
http://ohsheglows.com/2011/10/24/black-bean-and-butternut-squash-burritos/
Ingredients
1 cup quinoa, plus 2 cups water
15 oz black beans rinsed and drained
1 cup cubed, roasted butternut squash
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 yellow onion diced
1 bell pepper, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tortillas, or wraps ( I used sun-dried tomato wraps)
1 avocado, sliced
homemade or store-bought salsa for serving (I used homemade peach salsa)
Salt and pepper to taste

In this recipe I used a ‘Griddler’ to grill the prepared burritos.  If you do choose to use an indoor grill, preheat to medium heat.  You can also use a George Foreman grill, or skip this step altogether, but I believe it makes a difference in sealing up the burritos.
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In a large sauce pan add rinsed and picked over quinoa and 2 cups of water, and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Quinoa will germinate and absorb the liquid after approximately 12 minutes.  At the 6 minute mark, add rinsed and drained black beans to your quinoa, lower heat and cover.

As your quinoa is simmering, in a separate small saute pan over medium heat add oil, onions, peppers, and garlic.  Saute for 5-6 minutes until fragrant.  Add your roasted squash to your saute pan and remove from heat.
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Once your quinoa has absorbed all the liquid stir in your onion mixture and return lid until everything heats through.

Once your filling is cooked you can begin assembling the burritos.  Place 2-3 Tbsp of salsa, or topping of choice inside the burritos, and 2 slices of avocado, add filling and roll up.  Place prepared burritos on the grill two at a time and allow to cook until the wrap has slightly browned grill marks, approximately 5 minutes.  Remove from grill, and enjoy!

 

Waffle’s for Sunday Brunch

Waffle Sunday is a staple in our house.  My boys love breakfast more than any other meal, so on this rainy Monday I thought I would share my favorite waffle recipe.  It is sugar-free, whole wheat, and could be made vegan.

This weekend we had some guests from back home, and it was a great treat.  This recipe is a true crowd pleaser, I hope you enjoy!
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Ingredients
serves 4

2 cups white whole wheat flour ( I use King Arthur’s)
1 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 eggs (flax or chia eggs can easily be replaced here)
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups almond milk

Combine all dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.  Slow add eggs, oil, and maple syrup.  In a 2 cup measuring glass combine vanilla and almond milk.  Slowly whisk into your flour mixture.  follow the manufacture’s instructions on your waffle iron, and enjoy!
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Serve with fresh fruit and whipped cream.

Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp sugar or maple syrup

Chill the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk attachment for 10 minutes in the freezer.

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk until stiff peaks form.  Do not over beat the cream. Enjoy!

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