Homemade Crockpot Chicken Stock

Chicken stock in a crockpotChicken stock is a blessing to the food world. It makes rice and pasta taste amazing, is essential to risotto and soups, and when you’re sick, it’s so good for your recovering body. Especially if your chicken stock is homemade. Homemade bone broth is soothing, flavorful, and SO GOOD FOR YOU. If you haven’t before, I highly suggest you take a quick browse online and read about the benefits of bone broth! Thankfully, homemade chicken stock is so easy to make. This is important to me because all of the stock options (at least that I’ve seen) sold in grocery stores have celery, potato, carrot, AND/or corn-derived ingredients.

Fortunately, with a carcass from a Roasted Chicken Dinner, a few vegetables, and a crockpot, we can make something that is healthier and tastes infinitely better than any grocery store product. Continue reading

Moist Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream

Chocolate cupcakes with strawberry buttercreamDespite the frigid middle of this week (go home, April; you’re drunk), I am still so excited that it is finally spring! To celebrate spring and hopefully encourage continued sunshine, I made these scrumptious birthday cupcakes. To me, moist chocolate cake is the absolute BEST kind of cake, and strawberry buttercream made with fresh strawberry puree just shouts spring!

To make these cupcakes I used my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe, and adapted this recipe for strawberry buttercream to fit my batch of cupcakes. One of the reasons this cake recipe has earned the spot as my favorite for cupcakes is because it doesn’t call for coffee! The many, many chocolate recipes that call for coffee encourage non-coffee drinkers to still use them because you can’t taste the coffee flavor. Well, I have nothing against including coffee in my cake batter, but since I don’t drink coffee, I never have it at home! This lovely recipe doesn’t call for coffee, and yields delightful, moist, rich chocolate cupcakes. Continue reading

Healthy Spinach Turkey Burgers with Gouda

Turkey burger lunch

It’s funny, although I love healthy eating and am not a big sandwich fan, sometimes during the week, especially at lunch, I get a solid craving for a thick, juicy burger. I usually try to ignore it and satisfy myself with whatever nutritious lunch I packed that day, but over time the itch gets so unbearable that I usually end up breaking and splurge on a greasy burger laden with mushrooms and bacon and cheese and all sorts of other glorious things. Yes, I’m weak. But the first step is acceptance. 🙂 Well, this week I decided that all of that was going to be different. This week, I would still pack healthy lunches, but would also ease my burger craving before it even came to destroy me. Continue reading

StrictlyDelicious Coq Au Vin

20140309-104755.jpgThe last few Fiesta Fridays I’ve attended I’ve been pretty selfish. My additions to the party have been dishes made just for one, which makes me not a very considerate attendee at all! Although I will most likely bring dishes for one to the party again in the future, my contribution today is made to share. So all of those who enjoy decadent chicken with thick cut bacon, fragrant herbs, and white wine, pull up a chair!

I knew I wanted to make a chicken with white wine sauce for the party, but was less than thrilled with all of the Coq Au Vin recipes I found online. I decided to combine what I liked from the recipes I found, add touches of my process making Beef Bourguignon, and figure out what else it needed as I went along. It’s a great way to cook, and the result was delicious! Continue reading

Healthy Single Serve, Deep Dish, Salted, Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie

ck6That’s quite a long title, but doesn’t it sound like a dream? A (mostly) healthy, deep dish, glorious chocolate chip cookie. Well, thanks to amazing 18 year old! Izy over at Top With Cinnamon, this glorious dream is actually a reality!

After my decadent duck dinner last Friday, I knew I wanted something equally delicious and equally as easy to make for dessert. This deep dish cookie hit the spot. It’s sooo good, so easy, and (dare I say) guilt-free! There’s coconut oil in place of butter, coconut sugar and honey in place of white sugar, whole wheat flour, and dark chocolate chunks full of antioxidants. That’s the kind of dessert you always want in your arsenal! Plus, the combination of sea salt and dark chocolate is one made in dessert heaven. Continue reading

Poached Eggs over Winter Vegetable Hash

20140127-111847.jpgSince learning I was allergic to corn, I have opted to purchase pasture raised eggs. The first time I tried them I was astonished at the dramatic difference in color, flavor, and health benefits. I still never get over it! Such a creamy white, and such a brightly colored, orange yolk! I will never, ever go back. 

I once read on a website where someone said that man cannot make a better sauce than the oozing yolk of a good soft-cooked egg. I could not agree more! Although I used to think making poached eggs at home was never worth the trouble, finding such excellent eggs changed my mind real quick. It also helps that I found what I think is the perfect way to poach eggs! No more straggly egg white frothing in the water. Here is a neat poached egg with a perfectly glorious soft yolk! Continue reading

Oat-Free, Nut-Free Granola

20140121-162409.jpgFinding out that I was allergic to oats was not nearly as earth-shaking as finding I was allergic to corn or soy or potatoes. But it has proved very difficult to find grab-and-go, healthy, fueling breakfast options that are oat (and nut) free!

So this month when planning my grocery list, I resolved that I was going to make a delicious, allergy-legal granola for cereal and yogurt parfaits. I did not know what I was getting myself into, but I am ECSTATIC about what came out of my little experiment! It’s the perfect blend of crunchy, sweet, and salty, with all kinds of wonderful textures. (Beware if you make this, your house will smell fantastic for days!)

Not only is this granola delicious and healthy, but portioning and storing it in mason jars makes it so easy to grab in the morning. I just add half a cup of milk, yogurt, or applesauce and run out the door. The protein and fiber in the granola are more than enough to hold me over until lunch.

Behold, nut-free, oat-free granola!

Oat-Free, Nut-Free Granola

  • Servings: 6 1/2 c. servings
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1/4 c. shredded unsweetened coconut
3/4 c. coarse wheat bran
2/3 c. unsalted, unroasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds without the shell)
1/4 c. unsalted, unroasted sunflower seeds
1 c. Arrowhead Mills puffed rice or barley cereal
1/2 c. dried unsweetened cranberries
1/6 c. sunflower seed butter
2 tbl. raw honey
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. ground sea salt (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix the coconut with the wheat bran and spread in a thin layer on a baking sheet. When the oven is hot, place the baking sheet in the oven and cook until the bran and coconut has browned. Be sure not to walk away, because it can burn quickly!

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Pour the toasted wheat bran and coconut into a large bowl. Making sure that the baking sheet is clean of all bran pieces, spread the pepitas and sunflower seeds on the baking sheet in a thin layer and toast in the oven until browned as well. When the seeds are toasted, add them to the bowl with the puffed rice cereal and cranberries. Stir until thoroughly mixed.

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Turn the oven down to 300 degrees. In a microwave safe bowl, add the sunflower seed butter, honey, sea salt, and vanilla. Microwave for 30 seconds and stir until the mixture is smooth and blended well. Add this to the granola and stir gently until everything is covered.

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Spread this mixture in a thin layer on your baking sheet. Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Bake until the granola has browned and the smells drive you crazy. Be certain to watch carefully during this step too, as burning happens quickly! Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

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For easy storage and for grab-and-go mornings, portion out one half cup servings and store in pint sized mason jars.

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Whenever you need breakfast or a healthy mid-day snack, grab a jar, add milk/yogurt/applesauce/a spoon, and enjoy!

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What are your favorite healthy breakfasts?

Sunbutter Chocolate Bites | A legal sweet treat

20140120-143406.jpgLately, I have been on the quest for healthy alternatives to snacks, especially dessert. But it’s extremely hard to find desserts that taste good and are safe for my allergies! Fortunately, finding safe chocolate opened up the door for a lot of desserts, but making healthy options has eluded me for quite some time. Finally, I stumbled upon an awesome healthy food blog called Kellie’s Food to Glow! Among other healthy, delicious recipes, I found one for Chocolate Almond Butter Bites.

This little goodie is definitely a sweet treat, but uses healthy ingredients. The only sweetener is chopped dates, the dark chocolate provides antioxidants, and the protein-rich nut butter helps you feel satisfied with just one! And although I cannot have nut butter, sunflower seed butter worked perfectly in this recipe.

I just love taking the little mini muffin papers out of the refrigerator and unwrapping these delights. They’re the perfect size to satiate my sweet tooth, but not feel as though I’m overindulging! They do require a little work to get the chocolate right, but it is well worth the effort. I’ve also included quite a few pictures below to guide you through!

I hope you enjoy!

Sunbutter Chocolate Bites

  • Servings: 25
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

1 c. SoyFree Sales semi-sweet chocolate chips
8 chopped dates
1/4 c. SunButter (or other nut or seed butter)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. sea salt

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips, stirring consistently. While the chocolate is melting, separate and arrange your mini muffins papers on a baking sheet. When the chocolate is melted and stirred smooth, drop about 1/2 teaspoon of melted chocolate into each cup.

20140120-143256.jpgUsing your spoon, spread the chocolate around the bottom of the paper and gently push it up the sides. Place in the refrigerator or freezer to harden, about 15 minutes.

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While your chocolate is cooling, add dates, sunflower seed butter, vanilla, and salt to a food processor. Process until all ingredients are blended and have formed a “dough.” When your chocolate is cool, remove the baking sheet from the fridge. Roll little balls of about 1 tsp. of dough and gently press into each chocolate cup.

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Reheat remaining chocolate over double boiler if necessary, and spoon a small amount over the sunflower seed butter filling. Use your spoon to push the chocolate to the edges of the paper.

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Set in the refrigerator or freezer again to harden for about 15 minutes. When they’re all done, they should look like this!

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Store in the fridge, and when you’re ready to eat, unwrap a candy and enjoy!

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What kinds of healthy treats do you like to indulge in?

Homemade Applesauce (no sugar added)

20140120-140146.jpgOn my trip to the farmer’s market this weekend, I saw a stand with baskets and baskets of gorgeous apples. As I work to eat healthier snacks, I knew that making my homemade applesauce again would give me an easy, healthy, packable snack option. And the best thing about farmer’s markets is that you can talk with the vendors about the practices behind their produce. I was thrilled to find that this seller’s apples are low spray, so much so that I didn’t react to the slice of apple she gave me to taste! Because I react to some spray or pesticide used on apples, I haven’t tasted a fresh apple in about 8 years! (I’ve never had a problem when they’re cooked.) It was truly a glorious moment! Anyway, I’m getting off track! I was able to collect quite a few of those pretty beauties and take them home for some delicious, nutritious applesauce.

It’s important to remember when you’re selecting apples for your applesauce- don’t just get the ones you like to snack on. When I could eat fresh apples, I loved the sweet-tartness of Pink Lady apples. However, when I make applesauce, I want it to be sweeter, and found Pink Lady applesauce wanted sugar. In order to make this as healthy and naturally delicious as possible, select naturally sweeter apples like Fuji or Gala. No added sweetener necessary!

You can peel your apples if you prefer an even, smooth applesauce, or leave the peel on for easier prep, added nutrients, and a little texture. Enjoy this applesauce with yogurt, granola, as a healthy substitute for butter in baking, or packed in small Tupperware bowls for breakfast or snacks throughout the week!

Homemade Applesauce

  • Servings: about 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

6 c. cubed apples (I used a mixture of Fuji and Honeycrisp)
1 1/2 c. water
1 tbl. lemon juice
1 tbl. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves

In a large pot, add your chopped apples, water, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat. When the apples have come to a boil, place a lid on the pot and reduce heat to medium low. Cook the apples for 25-30 minutes.

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When the apples are soft, add the cinnamon and ground cloves. Stir to coat evenly and let the apples cool a bit before blending.

In two batches, add the apple mixture to your blender and blend until you have reached the desired consistency. Add water if desired to reach the thickness that you prefer.

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Serve and enjoy, or store for later deliciousness! Keep in mind, applesauce freezes really well!

How do you like to enjoy applesauce?

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Hedonist Hot Chocolate

20140104-123045.jpgToday is one of those cozy winter mornings. I love winter mornings where it’s sunny enough to look gorgeous outside, but cold enough for me to stay wrapped up on the couch in a fuzzy blanket. This morning I decided to make Poached Eggs and Roasted Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce for breakfast, and curl up after with a nice mug of hot chocolate and Breakfast at Tiffany’s on Netflix. What better way to spend a Saturday morning?!

Before you attempt this I’ve got to tell you: to me, the only right hot chocolate is rich hot chocolate. I don’t want a cup of warmed up chocolate milk; I want a creamy, decadent drink that makes me giggle with satisfaction into my mug. I want to feel like the contents of my cup contain everything that is good and holy about warm winter drinks. That is the kind of hot chocolate that this is.

If you don’t drink all the hot chocolate this recipe makes, you can still make the full recipe (or more) and store it in the refrigerator for a week. Warm each serving slowly when you want more during the week.

How do you like to spend cozy winter mornings?

Homemade Hot Chocolate

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 c. cream
1 c. milk
1/4 c. Domino sugar
1/2 tsp. homemade vanilla
1/8 c. Soy Free Sales semi-sweet chocolate chips*
1/4 c. cocoa
sprinkle of cinnamon

Over medium-low heat, heat the milk, cream, vanilla, and sugar, stirring constantly. When the sugar has dissolved and the milk is steaming, remove the pan from heat and add the cocoa, chocolate chips, and cinnamon.

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Stir until thoroughly combined, strain, and serve. Top with a dollop of whipped cream if you like and enjoy!

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*I am not being compensated in any way for my endorsement of Soy Free Sales chocolate products. I was so excited (after a LONG search) to find chocolate chips that are both corn-free and soy-free! They also have soy-free, corn-free white chocolate chips! Anyone who needs to avoid soy and corn and loves chocolate should know about this glorious find.

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