Saturday, April 18, 2015

Healthy Chocolate

Chocolate is a staple at my house. Just a bite every so often and I'm good to go. And while chocolate itself is healthy and an antioxidant, the sugars and other added ingredients of grocery store chocolate are not. 

And fancy chocolates can get expensive. I bought a "specialty" chocolate bar at Sprouts for my husband as part of his Valentine's Day gift and it was over $3! Not my idea of a budget friendly treat. 

My solution: make my own at home using 4 simple, healthy ingredients: 

Coconut Oil
Cocoa Powder
Raw Honey
Celtic Sea Salt

optional add-ins include:

Shredded Coconut
Chopped raw nuts
Almond Butter
Peanut Butter
Dried cranberries

In terms of health, coconut oil outshines all other oils and has too many health benefits to list here. 
Raw honey is superior to processed and retains its many trace beneficial properties. 
Cocoa powder is loaded with health benefits and is a known antioxidant. 
And a pinch of celtic sea salt adds flavor balance and does not cause a mineral unbalance in the body as table salt does

An added bonus is that you can whip up a batch any time in the comfort of your own home. I love that phrase, don't you? "In the comfort of your own home." It's such a blessing to have a place to call home. :)

So these are the ingredients I used to make my healthy chocolate:

Then it gets really complicted. 
You dump them in a bowl and stir. :)

Sprinkle in any optional add-in ingredients you wish. I used shredded coconut. Unsweetened gets preferential treatment, but this is all I had so I used sweetened. 
Didn't bother my conscience a bit. :)


I then pressed the mixture into a silicone mold and chilled in the refrigerator. 

To the left over chocolate in my bowl I added about 1/3 cup almond butter and pressed into another silicone mold I had. 
Into the fridge it went to chill. 

In half hour or so they are ready to pop out and enjoy. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Quick Lasagne

I normally make Lasagne with a long simmered meat sauce, but when I just want to get dinner fixed fast, I have no problem taking shortcuts. :-)

This is such a friendly meal to make and fairly easy. It assembles in under 30 minutes and I usually have the ingredients just hanging around in the fridge and pantry begging to be layered together. 

 Lasagne can be made with as many or as few different cheeses as you would like. I like to imagine how the first Italian wife must have stumbled upon this masterpiece one day in her kitchen. Maybe she was in a hurry and didn't have time to cut her noodles into the smaller sizes of fettuccine or spaghetti, and just made wide slits. Looking around her kitchen, she used leftover meat, cheeses and sauce and layered them together.  

In the same way, I like to invent or adapt recipes in my kitchen. So I swapped out the traditional mozzerella cheese for Monterey Jack in my lasagne tonight. I also used cottage cheese instead of ricotta. 

I had a stray tomato looking for a home so I sliced it and added it to the top. 

After I got dinner in the oven, I washed all the dishes because I believe in the "clean up as you go" method. Makes for a much less frightening kitchen after dinner's over. :)\

Next up was a quick tossed salad that I placed in the fridge while the Lasagne baked. And an hour later - voila! - dinner's ready!  :) 

Beef Short Ribs

Last night's dinner entree was beef short ribs and they were yummy! 

I think this is the second time I've attempted to make ribs and both times I have done so in the oven. The thought of making them always intimidates me because they are unfamiliar territory for me. I run to google and look up how to make them and then I remember with a smile that are easy peasy, so long as you've got the time to do it. 

I imagine they'd be great in a crockpot, too. But I haven't tried that method as of yet. Since I knew I'd be home all day, I just went with my oven routine. :)

First I marinated the ribs in bbq sauce 

Then into a 300 degree they went to slow roast for about 4 hours. (I started them around 2pm.) 
During the last half hour of cooking I brushed layers of bbq sauce over them every ten minutes to give them a nice thick glaze.  

While the ribs were getting happy in the oven, I got out my trusty corn meal and some fresh Napa cabbage to prepare some coleslaw and cornbread.

I baked the cornbread 1/2 hour before I put dinner on the table so it could be served warm. It turned out golden brown and yummy. (For extra moist cornbread add an extra egg!)

 My coleslaw was made by slicing the cabbage as thinly as possible and mixing it together with a simple dressing of mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, celery seed, salt and pepper. 

Then I made some stuffed eggs while the cornbread was baking. 

I made the bbq sauce from scratch about a week ago from this recipe. If you've never tried making your own bbq sauce, this one will not disappoint. It is delicious! I had all the ingredients in my fridge and pantry and it was so simple to whip up. I put it into a canning jar and stored it in the fridge. I expect it to keep for about a month.