Recipe: Chocolate Pomegranate Bark

When I met Ryanne, a close friend of mine, one of the first things we bonded over was food, especially one of the key things in both our diets: chocolate. Seriously. We’ve been through a lot since then. But one of our favorite things to do is cook, especially if the 49ers are playing or the Bachelor/Bachelorette is on.

Ryanne and I work together but she recently had her babygirl and is working from home. But we still chat via Skype everyday so it’s almost as good as sitting across from her at the office. As usual we picked a recipe during the week and got together over the weekend to catch up and cook. We decided to make Chocolate Pomegranate Ginger Bark to give as gifts to friends for the holidays. Because chocolate makes us happy, and we obviously want to share that happiness.

We found the recipe on Pinterest, but you can head over to the blog B&D (Baking & Design) for the recipe. It’s delicious and I had to practice a lot of self-control while gift wrapping it because I wanted it all for myself.

Enjoy!

Pomegranate Bark

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Advertisements

Reality Check & Staying Humble

I watched the bill on the register add up “$5…$10…$13…$18.59..” I politely stopped the woman at the cashier who I’ve known for years. I was at Reams, our neighborhood grocery store I went to with my mom growing up.

Can you please remove the most expensive items in order to drop the price to $17.00?” A year ago this would have made my heart stop & my eyes possibly well up with tears from embarrassment. There were at least 4 people in line behind me. Instead, I gave them a warm smile & apologized for the delay.

I’m two days from pay day & this is normal. I’ve planned for groceries & gas until then. I watch my budget carefully each month & I only purchase the things that I need. Let’s just say there aren’t any random shopping splurges or moments that lack gratitude in my life. At first this was an adjustment for me. But now I remember that living on my own is a luxury, and that this is my reality.

When I was younger I imagined that I would feel some sort of shame and embarrassment in this situation. Thankfully my life has dramatically changed and I have been exposed to the real world and the strict rules my independence casts. And I’m more than okay with it, because my struggles are blessings in others eyes.

As I grabbed my bags of groceries and walked out of the store I did not feel anything negative. In fact I felt proud that I had remembered my limit, made a plan, and stuck to it. The man directly behind me smiled and gave a little chuckle with a nod. It gave me comfort knowing that he understood. It was an overall humbling experience, and it certainly won’t be the last.

I live a very fortunate life. I have a job I love, a roof over my head, warm clothes, a meal on the table, clean water… a family that helps me when they can. I could go on. I swear my prayers turn into rambles because of this exact reason.. I am so thankful.

So many people live paycheck to paycheck (or on food stamps) with children, illnesses, and unstable living situations. And they accept that with grace. I look up to those who make it work, find creative ways to make do, and walk out of the store with their head held high knowing that it doesn’t reflect on them. It’s just life.

When I wake up in the morning and my eyeballs are swollen shut from sleeping so hard I just lay there and think “Wow, this is mine.” And that is what motivates me to work hard everyday and accept these reality checks when they happen (and they happen often) These are the things that keep me grounded.

I found a fantastic new food blog called Budget Bytes. I was so excited when I found it because each recipe is not only delicious but there is a price on all the items it calls for. Tonight I made Garlic Parmesan Kale angel hair pasta. It was guilt-free love, and is now a new favorite recipe of mine. Quick, easy, healthy, and inexpensive ($4, as a matter of fact)

Whether you’re on a tight budget or not I recommend visiting Budget Bytes. And don’t forget to welcome moments like this with love and strength, because we all need a reminder to stay humble :)

photo (36)

No Pants Beyond This Point

Hi loves, I hope you’ve been having a great weekend. There was a fair amount of Jameson, beer, late nights, and fat kid food involved in mine so today I’m taking it down a notch. I love Sundays because nobody gets judged if you don’t have pants on & it’s a great day to catch up on “me time”. My team doesn’t play today & I did all of my boring adult to do’s yesterday so I plan on spending the rest of my weekend snuggled up to the documentary “Bully”. I’m going to sit here in my underwear & socks that don’t match & eat snacks because tomorrow it is back to reality & I’m trying my best to be in denial about it.

Okay so lets discuss snacks. Pomegranates. Poms are my absolute obsession & they are in season so I’m all over it. The downside: they can be a pain in the ass sometimes. If you don’t already know the trick to peeling them then I guess today is just your lucky day. I learned this trick from my girl Martha Stewart.

Pomegranate Trick

  1. Using a sharp knife, remove the top and bottom of the pomegranate. Don’t slice your finger off.
  2. Make 4 incisions creating 4 equal sections. Only cut through the skin, stopping when you hit the pit/membrane (white part).
  3. Fill a large bowl with cold water. Place the pomegranate in the water & begin to break the pomegranate into 4 sections along the incisions you made. Sounds harder than it is.
  4. Now, using your fingers, pull the seeds away from the skin and membrane. The seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl and the skin/pit will float to the top. To prevent staining your surface, it is best to do this while the pomegranate is submerged under water.
  5. Before straining, skim the top of the water and remove any excess skin and pulp.
  6. Devour like the pom-lover that you are. Don’t share with anybody.

photo (34)

My beverage, the detox elixir, is only 17 calories & it’s packed with a ton of antioxidants. The main ingredient, another one of my obsessions, is apple cider vinegar. It’s known to aid in weight loss so that’s neat but I just genuinely enjoy the drink because it’s a nice little pick me up. I try to drink one to two everyday.

Combine 2 tbsp of fresh OJ, 1 Tbsp ACV, 1/8 Tsp powdered ginger & a pinch each of turmeric & cayenne pepper. Serve cold. 

Happy snacking & enjoy your day of rest before you get back to the weekly grind.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

I am a true foodie — a meal made with love is the way to my heart. There is this weird excitement I feel when I have the time to really explore & discover new things to cook. I get my second wind as soon as I get to the grocery store after being at work all day. When I’m in the kitchen I feel like I am creating art (I know I’m not the only one) Adding new spices & playing with food I have yet to discover… I’m tellin’ ya, my stress melts away like butta! But what makes me even happier is when I get to share my “art” with the people I love, that is what makes cooking truly wonderful for me.

I’m learning to make it work in the kitchen when I have random things around. You know the whole “There’s no food!” feeling but your fridge/cupboards are pretty full? This used to overwhelm me but now I enjoy the challenge. I did some browsing online & created this recipe with what I had on hand & I have to say… I’m quite proud of it.

Maddy, one of my oldest and best friends, is visiting from DC. I see her twice a year if I’m lucky. I decided to make this because it’s a new Fall favorite. It was so fun having a girls night that wasn’t via Skype. She’s hilarious, I am so thankful for our friendship.

Maddy visiting 10/13/13

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with red pepper and sweet apples

| Preheat oven to 375 while prepping ingredients |

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 1 large red pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves of fresh garlic (minced)
  • 1 butternut squash (peeled, seeded, and chopped)
  • 2 red apples peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 2-3 teaspoons of coarse salt (add as you go if necessary)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 Jalapeno chile, thinly sliced, for garnish (optional)
  • Toffuti Sour Supreme (vegan sour cream replacement) for garnish (optional)

Step 1. Once your squash is cut & de-seeded rub it down with some olive oil. Place it on a pan covered in tinfoil (easier to clean up) & bake for 30-40 minutes.

Step 2. Once the squash is cooled & cut into smaller pieces melt your butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, red pepper, squash, and apple. Cook on low for 10-15 minutes until everything is cooked down and soft.

Step 3. Add veggie stock, water, cayenne, cumin, coriander, black pepper, and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer & cook until veggies are very soft (about 30 minutes)

Step 4. Pour small batches into a food processor or blender until it’s a smooth consistency. Add blended soup to pan & heat over low. I check my flavor during this time to see if I need anymore salt etc. and thin it out with more veggie stock if necessary.

Serve with Sour Cream/Toffuti & jalapeno slices for garnish if you’d like

Apple butternut squash soup

Spicy Lettuce Wraps

I recently made the decision to become a vegetarian, but this dish has been a favorite of mine long before I adjusted my diet. It’s simple, I like my food spicy. There is always a bottle of hot sauce at my desk at work for those foodie emergencies (aka “this shit doesn’t have any flavor” moments) so I’m always prepared to add a lil’ kick to whatever is on my plate.

What you’ll need:

  • One package of tofu (I prefer firm)
  • 1 bag of Classic Coleslaw
  • Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce
  • Thai Peanut Sauce
  • Sweet Red Chili Sauce
  • *Glass of vino & good music is optional 

Cook time: 20 minutes

Tofu sauces

The tofu I buy comes in a container with 4 individual blocks but I typically only use two for this recipe. It makes enough for dinner and leftovers the next day.

Step 1: Slice the tofu into small blocks, each about half an inch thick. Put the tofu into a bowl and add as much Sriracha as your spicy self pleases. Tofu truly takes on whatever flavor you add to it, so I usually do this 24 hours prior to cooking the tofu so that it has time to mingle n’ marinate. Keep in mind: the longer it sits, the spicier it gets. I recommend adding the Sriracha and cooking it immediately for your first time if you’re nervous about it being too hot for your taste.

Step 2: Put the tofu in a pan with a teaspoon of peanut oil. Cook the tofu on medium heat and occasionally flip the “blocks” so that it cooks evenly for about 12-15 minutes.

Step 3: In a separate pan add your coleslaw and cook it on low heat for 5 minutes. I don’t add any oil to this because it tends to get soggy if you do, and the fresh crunch without it is to die for. *Once this is done you should allow the slaw to cool to avoid wilting your lettuce

Step 4: When everything is cooked I place equal amounts of tofu and slaw into individual Fresh Living Butter Lettuce pieces. Then I add the peanut sauce and sweet chili sauce. These two sauces are key to this recipe and truly balance out the flavors for the perfect bite. *Don’t even pretend like you’re modest when it comes to the peanut sauce, be real with yourself and add as much as you’d like — it is divine. 

And voila! You have a healthy vegetarian meal that you can indulge in guilt free. Spicy food is apparently supposed to speed up your metabolism as well, which is always a bonus. You can also add brown or white rice to this as a side dish, or just lay the tofu on top of a bed of rice without any lettuce. I hope you enjoy this quick and easy recipe as much as me. Stay spicy, my loves.

Spicy Tofu

What-I-Eat-Wednesday

I have such a bad snacking problem. Often I will wake up in the middle of the night and whisper to Andy, “You know what sounds so good right now?” he grumbles “what…” and then I say the 3 deadly words “Oreos & milk.”

I’ve decided to start What I Eat Wednesday’s where I will post a healthy snack that I love. The recipes will be as quick & easy as possible because I want these to be things that you can turn to in times of desperation. Example: If I don’t have a piece of cake right now I might just die. Solution: If I don’t have some brussel sprouts right now I just might die. See where I’m getting with this? Let’s begin day one of happy snacking. Today we are having brussel sprouts!

My question is this, why do brussel sprouts scare people? I eat them like candy. Honestly one of the easiest snacks and they are so good for you, too. Here is my quick & easy recipe.

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  • Cut the ends off of all the brussel sprouts and peel the first couple of leaves off. Wash and rub with olive oil
  • Cut up some red (or white) onion. Do as much as you’d like. I love onions so I usually use quite a bit but do it to your preference
  • Sprinkle with a little sea salt & then put them in the oven on a cookie sheet with the onions sprinkled on top of the brussel sprouts.
  • Cook for 15 minutes and then flip them over so they cook evenly. Keep a close eye on them, everyones oven is different.
  • I usually leave them in for another 10 minutes or so and then sprinkle a tiny bit of parmesan cheese on them & put them back in until it’s melted.
Snack happy, loves!  If you’re still not convinced… 11 Health Benefits of brussel sprouts via “Eat this!” 

A delicious day + a recipe to tag along

My morning has been close to perfect. I have decided that the only person who has the power to shape the way my day goes is me. I am the only one that can set the tone in my life. Plus I have a commitment to all of you: Provide inspiration, not soppy shit. So when I woke up early to make a quick trip to Salt Lake for an appointment but had to cancel (bad weather) I kept calm & called my docta. After that I educated myself about KONY2012, ordered my action pack, paid the bills & did some budgeting. I also talked to Jani on twitter because she always makes me happy. Here are some ways (click the text) to take control of your day that I think are fantastic.

Then Roman and I danced around the kitchen while I made brunch. Alright, Roman actually rolled around in the sun, but that’s helping in my world. I love seeing him so happy in his new home. I am doing my best to not post ridiculous amounts of photos of him because I know that EVERYBODY isn’t a cat whisperer like me… BUT I am teaching him to play fetch and had to post a video on youtube. Personally I think it’s hilarious because he drags his feather back to me while I blog (multi-tasking at its finest). If you want to watch it feel free by going here.

I’m fully aware that I’m a crazy cat woman & getting worse by the minute, no need to point out the obvious to me:)

While our brunch was divine (turkey bacon rocks my world), this one takes the cake… Shaved Butternut Squash & Caramelized Onion Pizza with Goat Cheese on whole wheat crust. I want to make this for dinner soon because it’s fairly healthy but packed with flavor. Click the photo to get the recipe.

I am off to bask in the sun while I enroll some high school dropouts. Thank you universe, for providing me with such a gorgeous day, I needed this. Now please go make everybody else’s day just as delicious. You deserve it, my loves. Smooches & squeezes, Bee