Sunday, February 7, 2016

Eggs Baked in an Avocado with Fresh Herbs & Sriracha Sauce

Eggs baked in an avocado. Eggs baked in an avocado. Eggs baked in an avocado. Go make it! Cut an avocado in half, take out the pit, squeeze in some lime juice, crack in the eggs, bake, and top! I cannot believe I waited so long to try out this meal. I had told myself over and over again that I was going to try it, but I never did up until a few weeks ago. Now eggs baked in an avocado is my go to meal for breakfast, lunch (on the weekends), and sometimes dinner. Eggs and avocado are both considered brain food, and I need all the brain food I can get these days. The first time I tried it out, I liked it, but I wasn't head over heels in love with it. I think I liked the idea of eating it because it is so healthy, and since it is super healthy, I kept making it for myself. Now I am completely passionate about eggs baked inside of avocados. It is easy to make, low carb, high protein, filled with Omega 3s, gluten-free, well, you get the idea. So stop dragging your feet, and go make yourself some eggs baked in an avocado! You will thank me one day for telling you to try it. Enjoy.

Recipe for Eggs Baked In Avocado with Fresh Herbs & Sriracha Sauce

1 Hass avocado (any size, I've been using smallish ones lately), cut into half lengthwise with pit removed
Juice of 1/2 lime
Salt and Pepper
2 eggs
Extra-virgin olive oil
Crushed red pepper flakes
Sriracha sauce
Fresh Herbs (thyme, dill, parsley, whatever you want)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.
Scoop out some of the avocado from each half so that there is enough room for the egg in each. Squeeze desired amount of lime juice over each avocado half. Sprinkle each  with salt and pepper. Crack one egg into one half of the avocado. Don't worry if some of the white runs out, you just want to make sure the yolk is in the avocado. Crack another egg into the other half of the avocado. Place in oven and bake for 12 - 14 minutes, depending on how runny you like your yolks. Make sure the egg whites are set and not runny, though! Remove from oven and drizzle with olive oil and sriracha sauce. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, and fresh herbs.
Grab a fork or spoon and dig in (make sure you only eat the fruit of the avocado and the eggs - discard the peel)!

Recipe Adapted from: Serious Eats

Brain benefits of Avocado: Cognitive functioning and mood.
Brian benefits of Eggs: Cognitive functioning, focus, and mood.
Brain benefits of Olive Oil: Cognitive functioning and memory.
Brain benefits of Lime: Cognitive functioning, memory, and mood.
Information from: The Healthy Mind Cookbook

Monday, January 25, 2016

Baked Hot Chocolate

What do you do when there is close to 3-feet of snow on the ground and you really do not feel like doing much at all? If you are anything at all like me, you do things like catch up on reading, dance and color with your toddler, think about getting dressed in something other than sweats (but never do), bake, and eat lots of food. I finished up the container of hot chocolate that I made on Friday, and instead of making some more (especially since we are a bit low on milk), I made this amazing baked hot chocolate instead. It is made with rich semisweet chocolate, butter, eggs, and sugar - that's it. Since Greg is not feeling too well he decided not to have one of the two mugs of this deliciousness that I made, so I got to eat both over the past 24 hours. I did share a little with Wendy, and she was pretty crazy about it, as she yelled "more, more" after every bite I gave her. I am pretty sure you will also love baked hot chocolate. It has a thin layer of crunchy, a middle layer of smooth, and you will not stop eating it until you reach the bottom. It is kind of like a cross between a chocolate lava cake, chocolate pudding, and hot chocolate! I found out that tomorrow is another snow day for me, so more baked hot chocolate making and eating is at the top of my to do list! I might even put on some jeans, too. Enjoy!

Recipe for Baked Hot Chocolate

5 ounces of semisweet baking chocolate, finely chopped (I used SCHARRFEN BERGER 62% baking bar)
3 1/2 Tbsp. of unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 Tbsp. of pure cane sugar (or granulated)
A pinch of cinnamon (optional)

Position the oven rack to the middle and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put two 8-ounce oven-proof mugs or ramekins into a baking pan or roasting pan.

Put an inch of water in the bottom pan of a double boiler and set over medium high heat. Bring to a gentle simmer. Put the chopped chocolate and butter in the top pan of the double boiler and set over the simmering water, stirring until fully melted and smooth. Set aside. Leave the bottom pan with the water on the stovetop and continue to let it simmer.

Put the eggs, sugar, and cinnamon in a small saucepan and whisk together with a fork. Then use the handle of the saucepan to hold it over the simmering water for a few minutes or until warm, almost hot to the touch(I just literally held it over the steam from the water - it's a good workout...). Then use a hand mixer set on medium-high speed to beat the egg and sugar mixture until light and fluffy, about 3 - 4 minutes. Carefully pour the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture, making sure that there is no water from condensation on the bottom of the pan that drips in (I used a towel to wipe the bottom of the pan before I added to chocolate mixture). Use a spoon to gently fold the eggs and chocolate together until smooth and you don't see any streaks. Pour or ladle into the mugs or ramekins. Pour very hot water into the baking dish, being careful not to let water splash into the mugs, until it reaches about halfway up the sides of the mugs. VERY carefully transfer the pan to the oven. Cook for 15 - 20 minutes, or until the tops are no longer shiny. Remove from oven, use a hot pad holder to remove the mugs out of the water, and place mugs on a cooling rack for a few minutes before serving. I topped mine with plain cream and some chocolate chips. I am sure it would be amazing with some fresh whipped cream too!

Baked hot chocolate is best enjoyed hot (in my professional opinion), but it can be also eaten at room temperature. You can cover well with foil and store in the fridge for up to one day. To reheat, first let it come to room temperature and then bake at 350 for 5 - 8 minutes.

Recipe Adapted from: The Essence of Chocolate Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate
Recipe serves 2. 
A shot of our home in the snow!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Creamy Sweet Potato and Bean Taquitos (Vegetarian)

Outside my house right now the East coast blizzard of 2016 is underway. This storm has had a lot of hype building up to it, and usually when a storm is hyped up, it fizzles out and it never amounts to what we have been told. The forecast has not been downgraded at all, and I am a bit terrified of this snowstorm! My biggest fear is that our power will go out. If our power goes out, we will have no heat and no running water. To prepare for the possibility of the power going out, my main thing has been making sure that we have lots of food to eat over the weekend. One of my friends told me the other night that her biggest nightmare would be sitting in the dark eating beans out of can with a spoon, and I had to giggle. But then I thought about it some more, and I realized that I really don't want to be eating beans out of a can either this weekend, so I started cooking up a storm! Last night I made these creamy sweet potato and black bean taquitos. I made them for the first time earlier this week and we loved them. If you leave out the chicken broth for the beans and substitute vegetable broth, it is a vegetarian meal. These creamy sweet potato and bean taquitos are made with roasted chopped sweet potato, a spicy bean mixture, and lots of cheese. You can serve them with sour cream and avocado for dipping, or you can just eat them plain. I think they would be a great snack at gatherings (Superbowl party, maybe), and they also make a great lunch or dinner.

Today I made a huge amount of Mexican slow cooker chicken, corn pudding, and hot chocolate. I am excited to have this time this weekend to spend with Greg and Wendy, to catch up on some reading, and to eat delicious food. East coasters, stay warm, stay safe, eat well, and enjoy the beautiful snow!

Recipe for Creamy Sweet Potato and Bean Taquitos

2 medium-sized sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
1 Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing the tortillas
Salt and pepper
1 cup of beans from spicy bean burritos (omit the Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and salsa from the recipe)
3 ounces of cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1 cup of grated cheese (I used Monterey Jack)
2 Tbsp. of your favorite salsa (I used Kirkland organic salsa)
10 Taco size soft flour tortillas
Coarse sea salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the chopped potatoes, olive oil, salt, and pepper into a bowl and toss well. Pour the sweet potatoes onto a baking pan and place in heated oven. Cook for about 25 - 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Leave the oven on.

While the potatoes are cooking, start the bean mixture. You will have beans leftover to use for burritos, because you will only need 1 cup for the taquitos. Remember to omit the following ingredients from the recipe: Chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce, salsa. Use vegetable broth in place of chicken broth if you are choosing to make this a vegetarian meal. Make sure to cook the beans until moisture has absorbed and then stir and mash to desired consistency.

Use your hands or use a fork to mash the potatoes up into a mound. Put the potato mash, 1 cup of the beans, cream cheese, salsa, and cheese into the bowl and use a fork to mix well.

Zap the tortillas in the microwave for about 30 seconds to make them easier to roll. Then scoop the sweet potato and bean mixture down the middle of each tortilla and roll tightly. Arrange each one next to the other on a baking sheet. Lightly brush olive oil over the top of each tortilla and sprinkle each with a pinch of sea salt. Place in the oven and cook for 8 - 10 minutes, watching carefully so they do not burn around the edges. Remove from oven and serve with your favorite taquito dipping sides!

Original Recipe

Monday, January 18, 2016

Spinach Balls

Don't let the name of this appetizer turn you off! If they were to be named correctly, they would really be called butter, cheese,  and stuffing balls with a little spinach. My mother would often make spinach balls during the holidays when I was growing up. I would always eat them by the handful, and I actually thought that I was eating something healthy because they were green. I wondered how something so healthy could taste so good, but then when I made them for the first time several years back, I realized that the spinach balls tasted so good to me because they are made with herbed stuffing, melted butter, and Parmesan cheese. I used to make spinach balls a lot when I entertained more, but since we have been doing so many home renovations, we have had less time to have people over these days. At this very moment, our house is put together, and we decided to have guests over for dinner Saturday night. I thought it would be fun to serve spinach balls as a side to our meal. Our main course was the famous chicken risotto with caramelized onions, and I pretended that the spinach balls was our green vegetable with the meal. They were very yummy, and I am happy I have some leftovers to snack on this week. It might be awhile before I get a chance to entertain again, because our next project is the kitchen.

If you would like a tasty appetizer or side to serve at a party or a dinner, try these spinach balls. They are easy to make and delicious. Yes, they are not a very healthy option, but since they are so small you don't have to feel too guilty about eating a couple. Enjoy!

Recipe for Spinach Balls

2 10-ounce packages of frozen chopped spinach
2 cups of dry herbed stuffing mix
3/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. of finely chopped yellow onion (or 1/4 tsp. of dried minced onion flakes)
1/4 tsp. of garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. of thyme
4 eggs, slightly beaten
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks or 12 Tbsp.) of unsalted butter, melted
Salt and pepper

Cook the spinach according to package directions. Then place in a colander to cool and drain very well, squeezing as much as you need to so you can get all the excess moisture out.
Put all the ingredients into a bowl. Use a fork to mix well. Cover the bowl and place in the fridge for a couple hours.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Use a cookie dough scoop and your hands to shape the spinach mixture into 1-inch balls. Place on the lined baking sheet and then place in the oven for about 30 minutes, watching carefully so they do not burn. Remove from oven and serve warm. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. You can eat them cold or zap in the microwave for about 15 - 20 seconds first.

Recipe adapted from: Vineyard Seasons: More from the Heart of the Home, by Susan Branch 
Recipe makes approximately 3 - 4 dozen.