Archive | January, 2014

Tangerine-Scented Vanilla Almond Granola

27 Jan

photo 2Every morning at home starts the same way over here:  a 3 egg, turkey bacon sandwich on a toasted bagel for Joe and a bowl of Greek yogurt with bananas, blueberries and roasted almonds for me.  When I’m in the mood for something more, I like to add granola to the mix.  Instead of buying overpriced granola and/or a bag of toasted oats that contains way too much sugar, try making it yourself.   It couldn’t be easier and you have the power to create whatever combination you’d like.  This particular mix has coconut oil, a touch of maple syrup and the zest of a tangerine we got from the farms up in Ojai this past weekend.   I like my granola super almondy, so I added in some whole almonds and also sprinkled the mix with Chia seeds.  Add dried fruit after baking to add some natural sweetness.  Dried cherries or cranberries would be delicious in this batch.

Tangerine-Scented Vanilla Almond Granola

2.5 cups rolled oats

1 T maple syrup

4 T coconut oil (melted)

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup chia seeds

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 cup raw almonds

zest of one tangerine

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

2. Combine all ingredients to ensure the oats are evenly coated with the oil and syrup.  Feel free to add more syrup, depending on how sweet you like your granola.

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3.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and lay out the oat mixture evenly on the pan.

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4. Bake for 35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so to ensure even cooking.

5. Cool, store and voila, custom-made granola at a fraction of the price.  Yay!

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Double Chocolate Zucchini Brownies

21 Jan

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I found this recipe on a vegetarian blog I recently discovered called Cookie & Kate and decided to give it a whirl considering I was promised I would never taste the zucchini in these chocolatey treats.  And sure enough, they did not disappoint.  The zucchini only adds a moisture to these (considerably) healthy dessert.  Honey is used in place of granulated sugar and whole wheat flour replaces white flour.  Chocolate is not replaced with anything, and there is a lot of it in these little bites!  You can only be so healthy.

I decided to make these in honor of my new (and old) coworkers at Chrysalis.  I recently started working at my favorite non-profit again to help with the Women’s Empowerment Program they coordinate every January through April.   It has been so fun being back– seeing the continued success of the organization, the smiles and warm words of old clients and volunteers, and of course the awesome staff members that do all of the important work.  At lunch the other day we were sharing New Year resolutions and I mentioned my food blog, and just like that they now all have the power to hold me accountable.  So, I thought I would bake something for the team to thank them for the support.  Hope they enjoy these chocolatey, chocolatey, really chocolatey, gooey afternoon snacks 🙂

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Double Chocolate Zucchini Brownies

2 cups zucchini (grated)

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup honey (can add more to increase sweetness)

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8 inch baking pan.

2. Place grated zucchini in a colander and squeeze out any extra moisture with a kitchen towel.

3. In a large bowl, beat together the oil, eggs, honey and vanilla.

4. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and cinnamon.

5. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips!

6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes.  Let cool and serve!

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Grilled Mediterranean Octopus

9 Jan

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The new year brings new promise, new goals and a new approach to how we treat ourselves and others.  After the roller coaster that was the Fall of 2013 (ok, all of 2013), Joe and I are very much welcoming a clean slate, a fresh start and a hopefully more balanced year ahead! 

Two amazing things happened this holiday season. 

1. Joe and I were able to experience an unbelievable amount of support and encouragement from the friends and family in our lives.  After the high of our wedding weekend (where we also felt the love big time), we experienced the most trying time of our new life together.  And we couldn’t have gotten through it without the people who rallied to surround and support us.  We were given a unique gift:  to understand how we can be there for our loved ones in the future, through the good and the bad.  

2. Danielle and Carlo were in town for 2+ weeks!!!  I just love having them around.  They make everything funnier and more delicious!  And thanks to a cancelled flight back to the frozen East Coast, we got even more time together. 

For New Year’s Eve, the four of us got together at our house for a feast of epic proportions.  A mezze platter, grilled octopus, fish sauce wings from Pok Pok, mussels in a white wine sauce, lamb meatballs from The Meatball Shop, and a lemon bundt cake after we had no room left in our bellies.  Before the “meal”, we popped some champagne and walked down to the beach to watch the last sunset of 2013.  See ya!  ImageImage

D made some impressive Old Fashioneds, which we sipped on while cheering on Duke Football as they almost took town Texas A&M.  We cooked, ate, sat and drank, cooked, ate, sat and drank.  Repeat that a few times and I’d say it was the perfect NYE!  And the best part about it was that D & C spent the night, so when we woke up the next morning we made breakfast and drank mimosas while writing our new year resolutions together.    Image

Back to the octopus.  I went down to the fish market at the Redondo Beach pier and picked up 2 lbs of these little suckers, blanched them, marinated them overnight and then the boys threw them on the grill a few minutes before we were ready to eat.  ImageImageImageImageImage

Grilled Mediterranean Octopus

2 lbs octopus

A few bunches of herbs (I used parsley, oregano, green onions)

6 bay leaves

1/4 cup olive oil

juice of 1 lemon

2 T. chopped fresh oregano

1/2 tsp. chile flakes

Black pepper and salt

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the octopus for about 90 seconds.   Remove the octopus from the water and drain.

2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Line the bottom of a Dutch oven with the bundles of herbs and the bay leaves.  Place the octopus on the herbs, cover the pot and cook until the octopus are tender (about 90 minutes). 

3.  Mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, oregano and chile flakes.  Marinate the octopus in this mixture for at least an hour and up to 24 hours.

4. When ready to cook, get your grill super hot and grill the octopus until they are nice and charred.  Drizzle with olive oil, some lemon juice and black pepper.  Enjoy with some feta and warm bread!Image

Here’s to a Healthy and Happy New Year!  Cheers!!