Flourless Chocolate Cake with Coconut Oil

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Apologies for the underwhelming photo. I think I need to read up on food styling… 

When a few last minute things popped up and I couldn’t make it to CBN’s Oscar party at Nellcote, to say that I was disappointed would be an understatement. So I did what any rational girl would do with a night alone, a mile-long list of things to take care of, and plans to be out of town the whole week: I baked a cake.

And not just any cake, a flourless chocolate cake that I topped with almond butter frosting. I think I could start an entire cookbook of recipes entitled, “Recipe Alterations That Don’t Require Me To Leave My Apartment”, because I made some interesting substitutions in the name of laziness that somehow resulted in a really good end product. It was fudgy, dense, and not too sweet (until I covered the whole thing with a sugary almond butter frosting.)

This was very loosely adapted from Nigella Lawson’s chocolate olive oil cake.

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Coconut Oil

  • 1 3/4 C + 2 Tb cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 C coffee, cooled
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 C white sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tb vanilla
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and prepare an 8×8″ pan by lining it with parchment paper. If you don’t usually use parchment paper, tear a piece big enough so that it hangs over the edges of the pan a bit so that you’ll be able to lift the cake out by pulling up the edges of the paper later. Parchment paper makes baking infinitely easier both in terms of cleanup and in the dreaded step of removing baked goods from the pan!
  2. Sift together your salt, baking soda and cocoa powder, then set it aside.
  3. In a new bowl, whisk together the eggs, coconut oil and vanilla, then add your sugar and mix until its smooth, creamy and custardy.
  4. Now pour the coffee into the egg and sugar mixture, and stir until its completely combined.
  5. Next, slowly add the cocoa powder into the wet ingredients, stirring it in bit by bit. Take your time or it’ll get clumpy and harder smooth out!
  6. Once it’s all mixed together and very smooth (it’ll be really liquid-y!), pour the batter into your pan. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until you can stick a toothpick in the middle and it comes out clean.
  7. Lift the cake out of the pan by the parchment paper and set it aside to cool. Once it’s cooled for about 20 minutes (be patient!), you’re ready to frost! You could eat it plain, but what’s the fun in that?

For my frosting, I combined 1/2 cup of almond butter with 1/4 cup of melted coconut oil, 1 cup of sugar and 1 tsp of salt. Powdered sugar would have resulted in a smoother frosting, similar to a buttercream, but I didn’t have it and didn’t mind the grainier texture… it reminded me a bit of Reeses filling!

Off to put my sugar high to good use and finish up my work.

ll

Roasted Tomatoes

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This isn’t really so much of a recipe as “put them in the oven” isn’t exactly a novel concept. But I thought it might be worth sharing, anyway, since sometimes something so simple as putting them in the oven makes the painfully ordinary surprisingly good.

With the particularly evil combo of negative windchills and post-vacation food guilt, cold salads are not exactly cutting it when I literally dreamed of macaroni and cheese last night. I can’t roast cheese for you (OR CAN I?), but I can improve on the cold salad business.

Roasted Tomatoes

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cut your tomatoes into evenly-sized pieces and place on a foil covered pan for easy clean-up.
  • Sprinkle to taste with salt, pepper, sugar, and seasoning. On 5 tomatoes, I used about 1 tsp of salt, 1 tsp pepper, and one Tb of sugar. Skip anything else, but don’t skip the sugar — it’s what’ll make your tomatoes caramelize a bit!
  • Drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle with any other seasonings you like – I used a bit of oregano.
  • Roast for 30 minutes. If you’d like them a bit extra crunchy and black on top, pop them in the broiler for 2 minutes at the end for charred edges.
  • Serve with other roasted vegetables, on top of your salad to warm it up, or as a side dish.

ll

Chicken and Kale Burgers

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I had two cans of chicken breast on hand this weekend, and to save myself from myself and the extremely strong temptation to throw some mayonnaise in there and call it a day, I decided to get creative.

I added sauteed kale to the mix with organic breadcrumbs, an egg and seasoning, then pan fried the patties for a quick and healthy lunch with lots of flavor.

Chicken & Kale Burgers

Makes 4 burgers

  • 2 10-oz. cans chicken breast
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/4 Cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 Cup kale leaves, stems discarded
  • 1 Tb worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp chili pepper flakes
  • 1 Tb lemon juice

*This may be the only recipe you’ll ever see from me that does not include adding salt, but I strongly recommend against it — the chicken is already salty! 

  1. Sautee kale leaves in olive oil until soft. Alternatively, you could steam the kale. Set aside to cool.
  2. Drain chicken breast, then add to a bowl with egg, breadcrumbs, and kale.
  3. Use your hands to mix all of the ingredients together – there’s really no way around getting in there and getting your hands dirty! A spoon won’t cut it.
  4. Add worcestershire sauce, chili peppers, and lemon juice.
  5. Mix it all up again, then divide mixture into four sections. Form one burger out of each section, rolling it into a ball and then flattening.
  6. Fry in a pan prepared with olive oil spray over low heat, flipping once until heated through and golden brown on each side.
  7. Eat! This would be great on a bun with condiments and extra veggies, but was juuust fine on a plate with spicy ketchup.

ll

Healthy Greek Frittata

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I’m currently redeeming one free week of yoga as a beginning at CorePower Yoga, which means that at least for the remainder of this week, I’ll be annoyingly healthy. Oh, except for that prime rib I devoured last night at Crosby’s Kitchen.

On a mission to atone for last night’s medium-rare and horseradish-cream covered sins, I insisted on Sunday brunch in this morning, and made an extremely healthy version of JB’s standard brunch order – a Greek omelette. Frankly, this could just as easily be an omelette but I’ve yet to make an omelette without it breaking/burning/running so I spared myself the stress, threw it in the oven and called it a very happy day.

Making a few of these would be a great option for entertaining. They’re almost embarassingly easy and totally fit into my new, yoga-enhanced healthy lifestyle! (This week.)  I’ve pasted in the nutritional stats below the recipe… kind of unbelievable, no?

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What’s up, aperture priority mode? Forgive the pointless pictures while I play with my camera. Slowly but steadily workin’ towards 10,000!

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Did you know there was such a thing as a tomato knife? I did not, and I have spent the past 28 years squishing tomato after tomato.

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Perfectly chopped!

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Breakfast feasting with AmyLu chicken sausage - the best.

Healthy Greek Frittata

Serves 4

  • 4 whole eggs
  • 5 egg whites
  • Large handful of spinach
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 6 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fat free feta*
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Saute chopped tomatoes and green onions in a non-stick pan, coated with cooking spray. Add spinach and cover to wilt.
  3. Transfer cooked vegetables into a pie dish prepared with cooking spray and allow to cool.
  4. Whisk together eggs, egg whites, and oregano, then pour the egg mixture over cooled vegetables.
  5. Sprinkle feta on top, then add pepper to taste. You don’t need salt, the feta is already salty!
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until egg is completely set.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes. Slice and serve!

*fat free feta is the least scary fat free cheese, and personally, I don’t mind it. However, you could easily substitute in reduced fat or even full fat feta here and still have a very healthy dish!

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From myfitnesspal.com

Asian Lettuce Wraps

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*Lives are officially changed after receiving fancy new knives from our parents for Christmas – can’t.stop.chopping!

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Dinner dates with my sister are always the highlight of my week. We’re pretty good at catching up about once a week, but in the whirlwind of the holidays, it had been too long since we caught up over some vino and cooked dinner together.

We remedied that last night but wanted to keep it relatively healthy — new years resolutions, you know the drill. We made Asian-inspired lettuce wraps and they definitely fit the “healthy” requirement, and happily were also really, REALLY good.

Sadly, we don’t have a picture of the actual wrap because I literally ripped every single piece of lettuce in half trying to make the “cups” (does someone have a trick for this?! Pinterest? Mom?) so they were morbidly less than attractive. It was somewhat like eating a salad with your hands. We wish you better luck on the wrapping front but can promise you that the filling, at least, will be out of this world.

Asian Lettuce Wraps

This makes enough for two starving people with some leftovers or four reasonable adults.

  • 1  medium onion, diced
  • 1 yellow or pepper, diced
  • 1 Tb olive oil
  • 1 lb package ground turkey or chicken
  • 1 Tb five spice seasoning
  • 1 Tb brown sugar
  • 1/4 C reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tb chili garlic paste or to taste
  • Peanuts, chopped
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Iceberg lettuce leaves for wrapping
  1. Sautee diced onion and pepper in olive oil until soft. Drain any liquid and set aside.
  2. Mix soy sauce, brown sugar, chili paste, and five spice in a bowl and stir well until combined.
  3. In a separate pan, brown turkey meat until cooked through.
  4. Add the sauce mixture and vegetables, mixing to coat.
  5. Spoon meat into lettuce cups, adding chopped peanuts and cilantro. Wrap, and feast!

ll

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

 

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

An office holiday bake-off requires many things: nerves of steel, buying a presentable pan to cart cookies to work and a sure-fire recipe.  Recalling my expletive peppered, off key “ohmygodohmygodthesearesogood” sonata singing when I tried the Sprinkles pumpkin cupcake, I figured the only winning recipe-route was to recreate the moist, pumpkiny goodness in a cookie.  Cake-like and full of flavor, these pumpkin cookies are remarkably easy to make.  Adapting a recipe from Food Network will get you a basic cookie recipe with a cup of pumpkin, a hefty dash of spice and lots of yummy noises from serious work-type people who don’t usually make yummy noises.

Forgive the dark pictures, the Christmas tree lighting wasn’t soft and romantic but rather gloomy and a bit gray.  But only in photos – in real life it’s gorgeous.

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Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients

For the cookies:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons Maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground all spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
For the frosting:
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Zest of one lemon

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a mixer, fitted with a paddle, cream the sugar and the butter until light and fluffy. Add the maple syrup and eggs. Mix to incorporate. Add the pumpkin and mix to incorporate. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and cloves. Add the dry ingredients to the batter and mix well. Drop rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly golden brown around the edges. Cool on racks. When cool, ice with the cream cheese frosting.

For the Frosting: In a mixer, fitted with a paddle, add the cream cheese. Beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the powdered sugar until smooth. Add milk and vanilla. Beat until smooth. If frosting is too thick, thin with a little more milk. Fold in the lemon zest. When cookies are cool spread with some of the frosting. Garnish with a whole pecan.

Copyright © 2004 Television Food Network, G.P., All Rights Reserved

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Spicy Shrimp Salsa

Spicy Shrimp Salsa

This recipe is simple and easy, and completely delicious.  Perfect for a football game or a girls night in, throw together these ingredients, pair with handful of baked tortilla chips and enjoy your little heart out.

Ingredients:

  • Ripe tomatoes
  • Red onion
  • Cilantro
  • Lime
  • Cooked shrimp, peeled and cleaned
  • Lime
  • Salt
  • Chili garlic paste – because we just can’t seem to make a recipe without it
  • Olive oil

Directions:

  • Chop all ingredients.  Combine.  You’re welcome.

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Homemade Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie

Sometimes a little comfort food is necessary.  The holidays are fast approaching and as the cold weather sets in, it’s certainly understandable to crave a little home cooking.  This pot pie recipe is direct from Ina Garten, who I assume MUST know her shiz when it comes to a flaky crust and hearty filling.  Though in the interest of full disclosure, this Chicago version uses puff pastry from the freezer isle.  It’s amazing, get on board.

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Ina Garten’s Chicken Pot Pie

Ingredients

  • 3 whole (6 split) chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups yellow onions, chopped (2 onions)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups medium-diced carrots, blanched for 2 minutes
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas (2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen small whole onions
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves

For the pastry:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup ice water
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
  • Flaked sea salt and cracked black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin. Cut the chicken into large dice. You will have 4 to 6 cups of cubed chicken.

In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and dissolve the bouillon cubes in the stock. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the onions over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock to the sauce. Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring, until thick. Add 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and heavy cream. Add the cubed chicken, carrots, peas, onions and parsley. Mix well.

For the pastry, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the shortening and butter and mix quickly with your fingers until each piece is coated with flour. Pulse 10 times, or until the fat is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the ice water; process only enough to moisten the dough and have it just come together. Dump the dough out onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Divide the filling equally among 4 ovenproof bowls. Divide the dough into quarters and roll each piece into an 8-inch circle. Brush the outside edges of each bowl with the egg wash, then place the dough on top. Trim the circle to 1/2-inch larger than the top of the bowl. Crimp the dough to fold over the side, pressing it to make it stick. Brush the dough with egg wash and make 3 slits in the top. Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked pepper. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling hot.

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Recipe: Baked Ham and Egg Cups

How was your Thanksgiving? Ours was great– as predicted, lots of games and too much food. In other words, perfect.

As we mentioned, we were really looking forward to making Thanksgiving brunch to our family. Our choice needed to fit two main criteria: fairly light (Thanksgiving dinner later!) and easy enough to assemble for 7 people.

After seeing a few variations floating around Pinterest, we made egg cups for brunch earlier this year and decided that they’d fit the bill nicely for  our Thanksgiving morning brunch. We made two variations and were happy with both results, so we thought we’d share! They are so cute and really, really easy… plus, the world is your oyster when it comes to the toppings — you can really add any combination of ingredients your little heart desires.

Laura went the traditional route and made Denver-esque cups by adding diced peppers and onions with cheddar cheese to each cup. Ali got creative and made the clear winner of the day – she blanched asparagus and added two spears to each cup with a tiny bit of cheddar in the base, then served them with a Hollandaise sauce.

We left the crispy edges but you could trim them or get really crazy and cover them with foil while baking.

In our opinion, this is a handy staple to have in our back pockets for brunch with the girls, for family, or after a particularly long night out. Cheers! (with our ham and egg cups.)

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  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray or lightly oil. (We used popover cups this time because we wanted more room for add-ins, but have previously used muffin tins and it works just as well!)
  3. Line each cup with two slices of ham, pressing into the bottom of each cup.
  4. Add desired toppings, then carefully crack one egg into each cup.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes or until egg is cooked through. Each cup should easily lift from the tin.

Croque Monseiur with Pear

 

Pears and Basil

We had grand plans today – and failed horribly.  We’d been planning for months to attend a swanky scotch tasting where we would surely overcome our distaste for the amber liquid, and then it rained.  Now best intentions aside, a rainy, windy Wednesday morning will ruin almost any plan to dress in a cute outfit that will work from 7 am to 9 pm and haul your butt to the office on public transportation.  So we decided instead to stay in and watch the Presidential Debate like good little Americans.

Regardless of which candidate you plaster across your burn-out tee, we know you vote for cheese and bread.  You just do.  We certainly do, so we looked for seasonably appropriate recipes and found the holy grail of sandwiches.  A Croque Monseiur with sauteed pears

This food network recipe is a clear winner – it pairs a strong swiss cheese with honey ham and tart pears, and wraps the whole delightful bundle in egg-soaked bread scented with cinnamon.  Yes, cinnamon – trust a sister.  We paired it with a quick tomato basil soup that’s become a A/W staple in our house and had ourselves a nice little evening.

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Croque Monseiur

Croque Monseiur with Pears

Croque Monsieur with Pear

  • 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 8 slices whole-wheat bread
  • 4 teaspoons light mayonnaise
  • 2 ripe pears, cored and thinly sliced (canned pears may also be used)
  • 8 ounces leftover ham slices
  • 4 ounces Swiss cheese (4 to 8 slices)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup water

Directions

Coat a large griddle or skillet with cooking spray and preheat to medium heat.

Spread mustard on 4 slices of bread. Spread mayonnaise on remaining 4 slices of bread. Top mustard side of slices with pear slices, ham and cheese. Place second slice of bread (with the mayonnaise) over top, making a sandwich.

In a shallow dish, whisk together eggs, salt, cinnamon, baking powder and water. Dip sandwiches in egg mixture and turn to coat both sides. Place sandwiches on hot griddle and cook 3 to 5 minutes per side, until egg is cooked and cheese melts.

al