recipe

When in doubt, chocolate.

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It’s been absolutely FREEZING the past few days. I’m not sure if it’s just me being a huge wimp, but it seems like winter is neverending. We have an extreme cold warning for the next week – yes that’s a thing here in Canada – it’s supposed to be -24 degrees Celsius feeling like -33 with the windchill. Lovely. Needless to say other than the extremely brisk walk between my house/car/workplace I don’t subject myself to the elements. If anyone’s looking for me I’ll be hibernating in my blanket fort denying the existence of any temperature below zero.

On a brighter note, being cooped up inside has forced me to come up with new activities to pass the time, most of which include food … Smartie Chocolate Chip cookies specifically. There’s just something so comforting about the smell of baked goods – especially ones made with chocolate.

I’ve stated before that I’m not a baker – having to precisely measuring out ingredients and really just following directions in general has never really appealed to me, so naturally this recipe is extremely forgiving. I was even able to successfully sub in coconut oil for butter so it gets extra points for being kind of healthy!

Smartie Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/4 cup Coconut Oil*, melted

1/4 cup Butter*, melted

1 Egg

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

3/4 cup Brown Sugar

1 tsp Baking Soda

1 cup All-Purpose Flour

1/2 cup Dark Chocolate Chips

1/2 cup Smarties

*I’ve made the recipe with 1/2 cup Coconut Oil instead of a quarter cup of both butter and coconut oil and it’s turned out just fine! The butter seems to make the cookies a bit fluffier, whereas the coconut oil only cookies came out flat (but still delicious)

Set your oven to 325 degrees Celsius. I always forget to do this first and end up having to wait for it to warm up. For anyone who is impatient like me this is THE MOST unfortunate thing that could occur – I just want to bake my cookies and devour ALL them as soon as humanly possible, forgetting to turn on the oven really impedes this process.

Next you’re going to want to melt your butter and coconut oil – I do this because I personally can’t be bothered to wait for the blender to adequately combine the sugar and whatever fatty base I’m adding it to. I find that melting the oil makes the sugar dissolve much quicker, plus most of the time my butter comes straight from the fridge and is as solid as the French Baguette you bought for lunch last week and forgot in the cupboard. If you haven’t noticed most of the things I do are because I’m lazy/forgetful/impatient. To be completely candid, the first batch of these I cookies made I used my Magic Bullet, in my mind smaller appliance = easier to clean = more likely that I’ll be able to get away with leaving them in the sink for someone else to wash (see lazy).

Getting back to the recipe … after you’ve sufficiently combined the melted coconut oil/ butter add in the egg and vanilla and mix until it’s a nice light brownish yellow colour. Next you’re going to want to add in the brown sugar – I add them in 1/4 cup at a time, but hey feel free to add the whole 3/4 at once, it’s a free country. By the time you’ve beat that all together you should have a smooth medium brown watery glob of tastiness at the bottom of your mixing bowl.

Now is time to add the dry ingredients into the wet. The original recipe said to sift/whisk together the flour and baking soda, but that meant I would need to wash yet another dish sooo I just add the flour to the mix in 1/4 cup lumps and the baking soda after the second quarter cup addition. To all those of you thinking jeeze this girl is lazy – yes, yes I am, and I find laziness is the key to my ingenuity so just let me live my life.

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Toss in whatever chocolatey goodness your heart desires – for me that was Smarties and dark chocolate chips, but you could really toss in anything – I imagine squares of caramilk bars would also be delicious (if anyone ends up trying this let me know and please send some for testing).

Now is the choose your own adventure portion of this recipe … your options are to:

A) Place the batter in the fridge to chill for half an hour, then rolling them into perfect 1 inch balls, spacing them out adequately and placing them in the oven

B) Screw chilling the batter and toss these on a cookie tray and getting those buggers cooked ASAP

C) Chilling them in the fridge for 5 minutes, taking them out (and sneaking a spoon of raw dough), then quickly deciding you can wait no longer and these chocolately morsels must be baked like YESTERDAY

… if you chose option B/C hit me up sometime because we have the potential to be BEST friends.

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But for real, roll out teaspoon-ish sized (1 inch) balls with about 1.5 inches between them minimum. If you’re cooking with the full 1/2 cup of coconut oil you’ll probably need about 2 inches because those suckers flatten out.

You’re going to need to wait about 18 minutes till they reach optimal chocolate-gooeyness. They should be light brown on top and slightly darker around the edges.

After eighteen AGONIZING minutes you’ll have the greatest little treat to share (or not).

FYI here’s the difference between the coconut oil only cookie versus the butter/coconut oil combo one …

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100% Coconut Oil

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50% Butter 50% Coconut Oil

My Current Beverage Obsession

Aside from my complete obsession (it’s not an addiction I swear) with wine, I adore smoothies – especially after a tough workout. Ever since I bought my magic bullet I’ve been experimenting with different fruity concoctions, my favourite being strawberry banana :)

I personally find bananas are an extremely underrated fruit – they’re a fantastic source of potassium and magnesium and make the most delicious, thick smoothies! If you haven’t noticed from previous posts, I’m in a constant battle against time, always trying to use up ingredients before they spoil. My former banana usage was the most perfect case of this.

When I lived away at school I would typically buy a huge bunch that, of course all ripened at once, and would eat them leisurely for one and a half days, or what I like to call my perfect-banana-ripeness window. Following my 1.5 days of banana snacking bliss I’d go into panic mode and be forced to eat smoothies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a last ditch attempt to consume them all before they turned into black piles of goo and caused yet another fruit fly epidemic. The fruit fly war that my roommate and I battled in our senior year deserves a completely separate post, so I won’t go into much detail now, just know it was horrible and to never trust your semi-hoarder roommate to take out her own garbage. Anyways, one of my roommates (a non-hoarding one) at the time noticed that I kept trying to pawn bananas off on everyone in the house and asked why I wasn’t just freezing them. DUH. It had never actually occurred to me to freeze bananas – I guess I had always just pictured how gross they look when they turn brown in the fridge, but this is easily remedied by peeling and cutting them first! Needless to say, this was a revolutionary moment for me in smoothie making history. Not only do frozen bananas add a ton of flavour my smoothie, but freezing them cuts the need for ice and makes them seem more like ice cream!

Without further ado here’s my delicious healthy strawberry banana smoothie!

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5 medium sized strawberries (frozen or fresh)
3/4 cup frozen banana slices
1/4 cup almond milk
1/4 cup of fresh baby spinach (you can use more or less, I usually just go with a handful)
2 cubes of ice
1/2 scoop of vanilla protein powder

Blend together and enjoy!

What are some healthy smoothie recipes you love? I’m always looking for new ideas! :)

Chicken Fried Quinoa

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I’m forever trying to find ways to make classic comfort foods more healthy. Tonight I had such a strong craving for chicken fried rice, but the MSG in most takeout versions gives me the WORST headaches. Not to mention the fact that I’m trying to save money for my next trip, so picking up Chinese is pretty much out of the question.

In typical food-fiending fashion I began searching Foodgawker for inspiration and found the perfect compromise – Chicken Fried Quinoa! I’m not exaggerating when I say I have an obsession with this seed. I usually cook a cup of it at the beginning of every week and use it as a healthy filler in my lunches. Whether it be on its own or in some hodge podge salad quinoa is definitely a superfood.

This recipe is super simple and once again can include basically any veggies that you have lying around. If you haven’t noticed a theme yet most of my recipes include a mix of whatever is about to go bad in my fridge!

Chicken Fried Quinoa

2 tbsp canola oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced
3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp hoison sauce
1.5 cups quinoa
1 medium stalk broccoli
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1.5 cup chicken stock
1.5 cup vegetable stock
1 green onion, sliced
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 onion, diced
salt and pepper to taste

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Generously season the diced chicken breast with salt and pepper – no one likes bland chicken! Make sure all the vegetables are prepped and cut beforehand and set them aside.

I had some leftover quinoa from earlier in the week, but if you don’t have a fridge brimming with half eaten (aka forgotten at the back of the fridge) meals like me, you’re going to need to make some! In sauce pan combine both veggie and chicken stock and the quinoa. You could just use either chicken or vegetable stock alone, I just ran out chicken stock … so the perpetual laziness continues! Follow the quinoa’s package directions to cook – typically you need to bring the mix to a boil then reduce the heat so it simmers, cover the pot and cook for 15 mins, or until all the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is fluffy. DO NOT BURN THE QUINOA – unless you a) want to say goodbye to your pot … burnt quinoa is near impossible to get off or b) want to have the most sore arms in existence from scrubbing said pot.

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In a large frying pan heat the canola oil on medium-high and add the diced chicken breast. I ended up frying it in two batches so that the pieces weren’t crowded. Crowding the pan will make the chicken boil not brown – you want to see that light brownish crispy exterior :) After the chicken is cooked remove it from the pan, reserving the cooking oil, and place it on a plate
covered in paper towel to blot off the excess grease.

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Add garlic, onions, carrots, and broccoli into the same frying pan, season with half the 1 tbsp of both hoison and soy sauce and cook until the onions are translucent and the carrots have softened. Slowly mix in the quinoa until everything is combined. Add the remaining hoison, soy sauce and the eggs, quickly stirring so that the egg breaks up coats everything evenly. Grab your cooked chicken and toss that back in the same pan. Once the chicken is heated through pour it into a serving dish and garnish with green onion.

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If you wanted to make this recipe even healthier you could even swap out the whole eggs for egg whites! What are some recipes you’ve made with healthy ingredient substitutions?

Jamaican Seasoned Rice

My family, like many others, is utterly obsessed with food. When we get together we mainly discuss new recipes we’ve attempted and restaurants that everyone ‘MUST TRY’. Holidays around here are like going to a 5-star restaurant that serves family style. Being food centric meant that I spent a large part of my childhood in the kitchen helping my parents . I will forever be thankful to my parents for teaching me how to cook, in my opinion there are wayyy too many twentysomethings that have the culinary expertise of Carrie Bradshaw (ovens are NOT for storing magazines) !!

My Dad is definitely the head chef in our family, I’ve always been amazed by his ability to throw together a meal with random ingredients he finds in the fridge. Growing up I was very privileged to have him show me the ropes in the kitchen, and it was great bonding time for us. Even now that I’m older he still surprises me with delicious new recipes. Just last week I came home to the most amazing smell wafting out of the kitchen. When I asked him what he made all he said it was Jamaican Seasoned Rice. To be honest I had to ask him twice – I couldn’t hear him over my salivary glands going into overdrive. If you enjoy ackee and saltfish (a classic Jamaican dish that’s usually served with green bananas) you’ll love this dish! It was everything a one pot meal should be savoury, salty, and satisfying.

It was so delicious that I decided to recreate it for dinner last night with a few additions (AKA vegetables that were about to go bad in my fridge).

Jamaican Seasoned Rice

2 cups basmati rice

2 cups cubed butternut squash

1/2 onion, chopped

1/2 red pepper, chopped

1 cup green beans, chopped

1 tbsp finely chopped Scotch Bonnett Pepper (this can be omitted, but I LOVE spicy food)

1/2 cup broccoli, chopped

2 tbsp dried thyme

1 1/2 cups salted cod, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup coconut milk powder

1/3 cup water

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

2 tbsp canola oil

2 tbsp olive oil Becel

Fresh ground pepper

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Heat the canola oil in a large pot on medium-high heat and add the butternut squash. Season with pepper and cook until it’s softened, but not browned. Add the onions, red pepper, thyme, Scotch Bonnett pepper, green beans, broccoli, and salted cod and cook for another 5 mins (basically just look for the onions to be translucent).

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Combine 1/3 cup of coconut milk powder with 1/3 cup of water and set aside.

Wash the rice under cold running water until the runoff water runs clear. You don’t want all that gross starchy-ness making your delicious rice sticky! Then combine the rice with your veggie pot. Make sure you’re stirring this mixture continuously so the rice doesn’t burn. Trust me, burnt rice is not fun to remove from the bottom of a pan.

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Once the rice is combined with the vegetables add the coconut milk mixture and Becel.  Bring the pot to a boil and ladle in a small amount of chicken stock, reduce the heat and cover it so the mixture is just simmering. At this point you’re probably thinking I did not sign up for risotto-esque cooking, but trust me – it’s worth it. Check the pot often and add chicken stock as needed, making sure it’s fully absorbed into the rice before adding more. I used around a cup and a half of chicken stock to cook the rice, but you may need more or less depending on the type of rice you’re using.

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The final product is fluffy, salty, spicy heaven. As I mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of ackee and saltfish, but there’s been a green banana shortage in Toronto so this is a perfect replacement! My Dad’s original recipe included tomatoes as well, but I was far too lazy to head out to the store so I’ll definitely be using those next time!