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Monday, August 15, 2016

Health Break! - Chocolate Coco-Nut Chia Bites

I eat pretty well at home and really terribly at work. Why? I have zero impulse control. When sweet treats are presented to me, as they seem to be nearly every day at the office, I have an absolutely pitiful chance of resisting. At home, the solution is simply not to buy them, but in my office, well, that's where I really get in trouble. Between so many coworker celebrations and the reality that our office kitchen has become the de facto dumping ground for everyone's no-no foods (leftover cake from a weekend birthday, surplus goods from an at home baking binge, candy that you just want to get out of your house), it's a wonder I ever get out of there without a forbidden food in my hand. Happily though, I have found that I can make it a safer and less tempting place if I only come prepared.  

Chocolate Coco-Nut Chia Bites, Photo: NK 

Having a healthy and satisfying sweet on hand for that post-lunch sugar craving helps me from feeling deprived. And making something no-bake that's super fast is a huge help in all of our busy lifestyles. It's in this spirit of disciplined snacking that I set out to jump on the Energy Bite bandwagon. 

These tempting, chocolatey little energy Bites serve two purposes - they're  naturally satisfying your sweet tooth while also giving you a little boost. They're also Vegan, have no added sugar and are fairly nutritious thanks to Nuts, Chia and Coconut Flake and Coconut Oil. Best of all, you can make them in under ten minutes using a food processor. They can be stored up to two weeks in an airtight container in the fridge. 


Chocolate Coco-Nut Chia Energy Balls 
Adapted from Gimme Some Oven
Makes about 22 1-inch Energy Bites

2 Cups of Pitted Medjool Dates (Medjools are nice and soft) loosely packed, about 12 Dates
1 Tablespoon Ground Chia Seed (you could sub in ground Flax Seed as well) 
2 teaspoons Coconut Oil 
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Coconut Flake (we prefer Bob's Red Mill)  
1/3 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (Hershey's works fine)
1/4 Cup Hazelnuts, Almonds, Pecans or similar -- I prefer Hazelnuts or Almonds 
1 teaspoon high quality Vanilla Extract 
1 Tablespoon Water 

Place all ingredients in a Food Processor and process until relatively smooth except for some bits of nuts. The mixture will naturally clump and you may have to carefully scrape down the sides. (Optional Mix-In: you could also bulk this up by adding a tablespoon or two of Rolled Oats moistened with a little Almond Milk or Water)

To form, place a piece of wax or parchment paper on a surface and using a small spoon, scoop out the batter and form into 1-inch balls by rolling in your palm. Place each ball on the paper. Optionally sprinkle with additional Coconut Flake. When done (you should have 20-22), remove to an airtight container and chill in the fridge until ready to eat! 

Bites will stay up to 2 weeks refrigerated in a sealed container! 

Nutrition: Per Bite - 63 Calories, 11g Carbs, 2.5g Fat, 1g Protein, 8.5g Sugar

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Summer & Spice - Grilled Buffalo Calamari

You don't have to eat poultry to enjoy Buffalo flavor. Turns out, Buffalo ANYTHING is pretty darn delicious - even humble Cauliflower becomes the life of the party when paired with America's favorite spicy sauce. 

In today's post, we give Calamari a really fun twist. Buffalo Calamari is a light seafood appetizer that is fun, super shareable and easy to execute in just ten minutes of active time. While I prefer to marinate the squid for about an hour in a bit in Oil, Lemon, Salt and Pepper, it's still good even if you don't have time for that. 

Grilling Calamari outdoors on a grill pan will prevent the tubes from slipping through the cracks. Alternately, you can boil Calamari on the stove just a few minutes until it is fully opaque and firm but not rubbery. Toss it in the sauce and you have a winning starter that guests will love. Enjoy and let's get to it. 

Grilled Buffalo Calamari, Photo: NK
Grilled Buffalo Calamari
Serves 3-4 as a light Appetizer

1.25 Pounds Cleaned Calamari, Tubes and Tentacles
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil 
1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
2.5 Tablespoons Frank's Red Hot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, Melted
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce 
Scallions and Cilantro or Celery/Celery Leaves for garnish

About an hour before you'd like to grill, add the cleaned Calamari to a large Ziploc Bag with the Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, and a few light shakes of Salt and Pepper. Allow to sit in the fridge for an hour. 

Preheat your grill until very hot with a thin Grill Pan suited for seafood on top of it. Grill Calamari about 3-4 minutes per side until golden in parts and opaque, but not rubbery. Remove Calamari to a cutting board to cool a bit. Once cooled, slice into 1/2 inch rings and leave small tentacles intact. Place in a mixing bowl. 

In a small saucepan, mix the Hot Sauce, 2 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter and 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce. When the butter melts, mix into the Calamari and toss. Serve warm with your desired garnishes and enjoy!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Husband Cooks - Warm Shrimp Salad With Green Beans & Chilies

He's hardworking, funny and smart, and he also knows his way around the kitchen. Or in this case, the grill. For today's feature, I'm sharing my husband's recent showstopper of a meal, his rendition of Mario Batali's Warm Shrimp Salad With Green Beans & Chilies

The only change he made to the recipe was using jalapeno peppers instead of red chilies and slivered almonds instead of hazelnuts. If you're looking for a light, grillable summer meal, this is the one. Serve it with a nice hunk of bread to soak up the delicious flavors. 

Shrimp Salad With Green Beans & Chilies, Photo: NK 

For the recipe, click HERE

TIP: Grilling Shrimp is easy if you have the right equipment. This stainless grill pan from Weber is great for Shrimp, Fish, even Vegetables. Enjoy and thanks to my main squeeze for the great meal. 

Shrimp grills up easily and doesn't stick
 on this seafood friendly tray, Photo: NK 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Sweet Treat - Buttercream My Way

As you know, my forays into baking are few and far between. Still, when I have to make cakes or cupcakes, I always look forward to the icing part of the equation; eating classic Buttercream off a spoon is my idea of heaven. Today's easy recipe is foolproof.  It came about when I lightly adapted a recipe I found online to meet my ever enduring love for salted butter. They say you shouldn't bake with it. I say they're wrong. I like the taste balance it brings. I even make my absolute favorite Brownies with it.

Delicious and easy Buttercream, Photo: NK 

Just give this easy recipe a whirl and you'll be lucky if you get it on your cupcakes fast enough. The icing works well for simple frosting and more elaborate decorating. I like to chill it a bit and spoon it into a pastry bag before piping it on. You'll also find it freezes easy for those emergency dessert situations. I know you will enjoy! 

Quick & Delicious Vanilla Buttercream Icing
Recipe Adapted from
Frosts about 8-10 Cupcakes 

1/2 Cup (1 Stick) Salted Butter at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons very good quality Vanilla Extract (I like Nielsen Massey
1 3/4 Cups Confectioner's Sugar *(*1 & 3/4 Cups is slightly less sweet, but you can use up to 2 Cups)
2 Tablespoons of Milk
(Food Coloring, approximately 3 drops, if you like - I prefer it au naturale)

Cream Butter with a handheld mixer or a stand mixer with a paddle attachment until it is light and fluffy (can also be done with a wooden spoon)

Now carefully and gradually add in the Confectioners Sugar until it is fully mixed in. Add the Vanilla Extract and stir again. 

Pour in the Milk and beat for 3 to 4 more minutes. If using food coloring add it now. Frost and enjoy!