Spinach Berry Smoothie (And Some Pictures to Make You Jealous)

Look where my run took me today! How ridiculously lucky am I to have grown up enjoying island life, and am now enjoying it again?

This post has a lot of chatting, as with all my others. Skip to the end if you just want the recipe! I won’t feel bad.

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Now, I’ll be the first to admit, very freely, that I am not in very good shape at all. The heaviest thing I can lift is probably a pot of soup. I’m not kidding. ButI’ve been working out everyday since I got home, and I plan to remedy that. I usually rely on walking and yoga for exercise, because I’m in such bad shape that anything else is completely awful (like running :(), but I really just need to run sometimes. Cardio is just necessary.

I felt that hardcore today, after making another batch of éclairs. Yes, my dad ate seven between yesterday afternoon and 10 am this morning. Don’t judge, we have fast metabolisms in this family (and he forgets to eat during the day most of the time, so some decadence is okay).

Now, I felt the need to run because of two reasons: 

  1. I was tasting as I went along with these éclairs to make sure they turned out right, and I got a seriously unhealthy amount of sugar in me from making sweet vanilla whipped cream.
  2. When I get frazzled (which often happens in the kitchen when other people are hanging over me, or something isn’t working), I get adrenaline rushes.

These two things combined gave me a serious case of shaky hands and pent up energy. When I feel that, I go for runs! Even if they’re short, they help. That’s how I ended up at this lovely place which my family and I call Fishy Pools (because there are little tide pools), but the rest of the sane world calls L’anse Aux Epines Point. It’s so beautiful there, and if you go prepared with towels and a swim suit on a rough day, you can have serious fun at the blow holes. 

Even though I had a sugar high, I knew I needed actual nutrients for a run, so I had a smoothie before I went. I think it was delicious, but I understand that it may not be for everybody.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups milk (I used 1 c almond milk, and 1/2 c 2%, because I prefer almond milk but it doesn’t have as much protein as regular milk)
  • 1 cup frozen fruit (I like mixed berries, but I made it with peaches for a friend once and they loved it)
  • 1 cup loosely packed spinach (I pack it a bit, but go easy if you’re not a veggie fan)

Blend in a blender of your choice. I swear by my magic bullet. 

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I can’t taste the spinach in this, I swear. Nor can a couple of my sister’s friends who I made this for. My parents, however, could, and didn’t like it. I find this to be a delicious, refreshing smoothie, which I feel super awesome drinking because I know how good for my body it is. I have no problem getting my veggies in, because I love veggies, but if you’re not fond of them, disguise them in a fruity smoothie. It works, guys.

Anyway, here’s another jealousy inducing photo:

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-Happy Cooking!

 

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Lighter Chicken Alfredo Pasta

With not much time left to thaw out whatever meat I planned to use for dinner today, I had to come up with something fast. I was having a hard time figuring out something that hadn’t been eaten here in a while, then I had a thought–hey, pasta!

Yes, my first pasta post is here, and it’s a healthy one too! I searched around for a bit to find a “lightened up” alfredo sauce, because while almost everyone loves the flavour of alfredo (me excluded… :P), it is basically made from cream, cream cheese, and butter. Not the healthiest dinner, especially when layered over a plate of carbolicious pasta. Made my way though, with lighter, but identical tasting alfredo, whole wheat pasta, and chicken breast, it’s actually great! If you want this to be vegetarian, use vegetable broth and leave out the chicken, and if you want it to be vegan… well I pretty much don’t think alfredo can actually become vegan. Using soy milk and vegan cheese could be a cool experiment though. I’ll converse with some vegan family members, and see if they’re willing to be guinea pigs 😀

Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp dried rosemary (roughly)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 12 ounces of whole wheat pasta
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup lowfat milk
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I used lower fat)
  • salt and pepper to taste

This scrumptious dish can be made in about 30 minutes, so be ready to be blown away!

I caramelized my chicken breast first, and then threw it back into the pan to heat up towards the end. Cube your breasts, then add to a pan with a tablespoon of olive oil and some rosemary sprinkled over the bottom. Cook the chicken for 2-3 minutes on one side until about halfway cooked from the bottom up, then sprinkle the chicken with more rosemary and flip it over to finish cooking.

Cook your pasta however your package tells you, making sure to salt your water, and while that’s going on, get to making your sauce!

Heat your olive oil in a medium sized pot, over medium heat, and then cook your minced garlic until fragrant. Add your flour and stir to combine, and cook for a minute to make sure you get the raw flour taste out. Whisk or stir in the chicken broth until smooth, then whisk in the milk until smooth. Bring it to a simmer, then cook for a minute. Add your Parmesan cheese, and cook for a minute.

Reduce heat to medium-low, if your pasta isn’t ready yet, but if it is, drain pasta well, return it to your pot, and then add the alfredo sauce. Portion out your pasta, and top with caramelized chicken breast.

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-Happy Cooking!

Experimenting With Bread!

I’ve made my whole wheat oat bread twice now, the second time omitting the oatmeal because I simply didn’t have any, and the results were just as delicious both times. However, I’ve been trying to make them pretty, with the addition of oats as a topping the first time, and rosemary the second (because I used rosemary in the dough), and I didn’t have any luck getting them to stick. I didn’t use anything the first time, and olive oil the next, and while the olive oil gave it a lovely flavour, it didn’t make it stick, so I did some research, came back with a ton of cool information on how to make great bread, and am now happily sharing my findings!

I discovered that an egg wash is the way to go to get toppings to stick, steam makes the bread crusty and wonderful, and that the giant slab of baking tile sitting unused in my cupboard was finally needed! I imagine it must feel very happy and loved… if it had emotions.

I began with my recipe for whole wheat bread (doubling it, leaving out the oats, and adding rosemary as I suggested in the post). Once I had my bread sitting in loaf shapes on an oiled baking sheet, and I had covered it with a damp cloth raised over the sheet using four tumblers, I began preheating my oven to 350 F, with my baking tile inside on the middle rack. 

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Isn’t so pretty and artistic looking?!

While waiting for it to rise for the second time, I gathered my ingredients for a fancy and delicious topping. One small egg, poppy-seeds, freshly picked big thyme, and freshly picked rosemary, grown in my own backyard!

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When the bread was finished rising, I beat the egg in a small bowl, then used a silicone brush to gently brush the surface of the bread with the egg wash. This gives it a gorgeous glossy finish, and makes the toppings stick really well. I used the cooking sheet to make it easier to handle the bread. (I left the bread on it when I put it in the oven, on top of the baking tile.)

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After that, I sprinkled my toppings over the bread, and made it pretty!

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For the next part, you need a rather sharp knife. I used my slightly chipped, but much adored ceramic Cuisinart, to slice along the length of the bread. 

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After that, it was time to bake! I stuck it into the oven, on the cookie sheet, on top of the baking tile, and baked for 33 minutes exactly, only because that’s when it was done. Use the time that your recipe tells you. Mine says 30-35 minutes.

Now, here’s another cool trick! As I mentioned, steam makes bread nice and crusty, so I chilled a clean spray bottle full of water in the fridge for a bit, and sprayed water into the oven to create steam, shutting the door quickly afterwards. I did this the first time I put it in, and about 3 times after that, every 5 minutes. This bread turned out really lovely. My whole family adores it, plus, it’s completely whole wheat and infused and topped with herbs, so it’s one of the healthiest breads you can get your hands on! It tastes magnificent.

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I left this photo undoctered, to show how gorgeous it really is. Its taste lives up to its looks!

-Happy Cooking!

Focaccia!

I’m home! I left the frozen north yesterday, and am now back in my lovely island home, with my much missed family, and my wonderful dog. The view ain’t too bad either!

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Yep. The view from my living room. I win!

I have been promising my fam-jam some tasty treats as soon as I got back, so my first order of business when I got home from coffee at my gramma’s with my dad at 7 am (yes, we are a family of weirdly early risers, I know), I got to work on making one of my dad’s favourite foods: focaccia! My entire childhood, and once in a while now, my dad has taken my sister and me for brunch on Sunday at a lovely restaurant here in Grenada called La Boulangerie, and while my sister usually get’s a cinnamon twist and I gobble down a sticky danish, my dad has always gotten focaccia. He loves it. Italian flat bread, made with lots of olive oil, with any number of different toppings on it. At La Boulangerie, which primarily serves pizza, they make it into a very thick crusted pizza, with different toppings, so that’s what I’m going to do. Mozzarella, cheddar, green peppers, onions and rosemary are my weapons of choice today!

Ingredients:

  • 1 (.25 ounce) package yeast (or 2 and a 1/4 tsp)
  • 1 cup warm water (105 degrees F/41 degrees C)
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary (optional)
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

*Any toppings you would like can go on this, as I said, I’m using two cheeses and some vegetables, but you can just leave it plain, or go for plain with veggies, or salted… if you look up different focaccia toppings online, I’m sure you can find some wonderful inspiration! I love working with doughs, so I was super duper excited for this! My recipe is slightly adapted from this one.

Whisk the yeast with warm water in a mixing bowl; whisk in 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, 1/4 cup of flour, and 2 teaspoons rosemary (this is optional, but highly recommended :P) until thoroughly combined.

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Next, you’re going to mix in 2 cups of flour, using a wooden spoon, until the dough is too stiff and sticky to mix.

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Turn your dough out onto a floured work surface, and knead, dusting with remaining 1/4 cup flour as needed, until the dough is soft, smooth, and slightly elastic, 2 to 3 minutes.

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Now, it’s time to get messy! Drizzle the dough with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, spreading oil over the dough. Knead the dough briefly, about 2 minutes, to incorporate olive oil. Repeat with 1 more tablespoon oil. Knead 2 or 3 more minutes to incorporate olive oil. Drizzle dough with 1 more tablespoon oil and knead in as before. If it seems too sticky, knead in a little more flour. Knead until the dough is soft, smooth, and elastic, 1 to 2 more minutes (7 to 8 minutes total kneading time).

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Drizzle 1 more tablespoon of olive oil (I know, it’s a lot, but so worth it) into a large bowl, place the dough into the bowl, and turn the dough in the bowl several times to coat with oil.

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Cover the bowl with aluminum foil and let rise in a warm place until doubled, 1 to 2 hours.

risenTada!

Coat a sheet pan lightly with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Turn the dough onto the pan and press gently into a rough rectangular shape using your fingers, pressing out all the air bubbles. Cover the sheet pan loosely with plastic wrap and let rest 15 to 20 minutes.

When that’s done, drizzle a little more olive oil onto the dough, spread it around, and poke oil-covered fingers deeply into the dough to make dimples all over the surface, making sure to hit the pan. Fill in any spaces with holes until entire surface is covered with dimples.

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Let it rise, until doubled in size, for about 45 minutes. I don’t recommend leaving this covered in a fridge if you won’t be making it right away. Make it and then cook it straight away, because I left mine and it soaked up all the olive oil on the pan and stuck after it cooked.

Preheat your oven to 475 F, then prepare your focaccia for the oven. I sprinkled mine with about 4 cups of shredded cheese, half cheddar half mozzarella, about half a sliced green pepper, about half an onion, and a couple teaspoons of fresh rosemary.

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Bake for 15 minutes until the loaf is lightly golden brown, then remove and place on a wire rack to cool before cutting.

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My family loved this! My dad says it’s just as good as La Boulangerie’s 😛

-Happy Cooking!

Baked Falafels

Okay, it’s been bugging me that my first recipe on here was so absolutely unhealthy, since I like to think that I eat a semi-healthy diet (not really, let’s be honest–I try, but I fail), so to counter it I figured, let’s do something that is healthy, and absolutely DE-LISH!

Falafels are made mainly from chickpeas, and are a great vegetarian protein option (yay!), but they are usually fried, and therefore not quite up to healthy standards. I’m weird that way (and many others, you’ll see). If I’m eating healthy, I want it to be REALLY healthy, and if I’m eating unhealthy, I want it to be REALLY unhealthy :). Oh well.

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These are so easy, and so delicious, and so good for ya! Here goes.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (I substituted spinach because I didn’t have parsley, but it wasn’t as flavourful as it should have been. Use. Parsley.)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon wholewheat flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • non-stick cooking spray

Preheat your oven to 400 F.

First, wrap your chopped onion in a few sheets of paper towel and gently squeeze it to remove excess moisture, then set aside.

Place chickpeas, parsley, garlic, cumin, red pepper flakes, salt, and baking soda in a food processor, and process until the mixture is roughly pureed. Mix the puree in a bowl with the onion, and then stir in the beaten egg and the whole wheat flour.

Shape your mixture into roughly 12 one and a half inch patties (I got 13, but hey).

Cover a cookie sheet with foil, and spray lightly with non-stick spray. Arrange patties on the sheet, and bake for about 30 minutes, or until crisp and brown.

Serve warm in a pita or do my favourite and have a couple on a salad 😀

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YUM. Just a simple garden salad with a spicy mustard dressing (about a tablespoon of water to 2 teaspoons of mustard powder and a bit of black pepper).

-Happy Cooking!