Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sweet and Kickin' Pecans

Welp, I am doing another mini-sugar detox right now. This time for 2 weeks before I'm off to Buffalo for a family member's wedding. I find detoxing is so much easier when you have a lot of items on deck, especially snack type food. One of my favorite go-to detox snack is nuts, but sometimes just eating plain nuts gets boring, so I decided to get a little creative and spice things up a bit.

The bag that inspired it all
My inspiration came from the back of a bag of pecan halves I got from my local Albertson's. Their recipe included corn syrup and sugar, so I had to make a few modifications to make my version 21DSD approved. I was a little nervous as I wasn't sure what exactly was a good substitute for corn syrup (and I am sure I could have just Googled it, but I was feeling lazy) and I wasn't sure how to balance out for omitting a half a cup of sugar (again, probably could have Googled it, but what's the fun in that?). Also, because I've never cooked nuts before.

I was pleasantly surprised with the results as there were quite a few moments of panic (Can you really use coconut oil instead of corn syrup? Where's my pure vanilla extract? Oh no! The butter just exploded in the microwave! Was that too much cinnamon? Was that too much cayenne pepper?). But my worries were unfounded as the final product was delicious.

Sweet and Kickin Pecans

16 ounces pecan halves
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 350.

Line a cookie sheet with greased aluminum foil. In a large bowl, mix together pecans, coconut oil butter and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and mix until well coated. Spread onto the cookie sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Stir and continue baking another 5 minutes. Spread pecans onto parchment paper and let cool.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Mustard Pork Chops with Apples

A few months ago (is February considered "a few?"), I learned of the 21 Day Sugar Detox (21DSD). I successfully completed it then, completely fell off the wagon, and did a mini 10 day detox this summer. I have not stayed sugar free since then, but I have made some healthy changes and most nights our dinner are 21DSD approved (except for those nights when I am extremely lazy and I just cook up the 90 second microwavable rice).

The first go-round, I stuck to the meals provided in the 21DSD book and cookbook. Since then, I have realized that there are millions of other options and I don't have to go strictly by the book(s). Most are just simple recipes with meat being seasoned with spices and grilled or baked. I was feeling creative (but still lazy) when I decided to cook this up, my muse being an episode of The Brady Bunch.
And, to be fair, this concept wasn't all that creative as I had mixed mustard and apples before with my Apple Mustard Pork Chops. But just let me have this one, kay? Thanks!

Mustard Pork Chops and Apple Sauce

2 boneless pork chops
2 tablespoons gluten-free dijon mustard
2 Granny Smith apples
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 400.

Coat pork chops in mustard and let marinate in a plastic bag in the fridge for a at least 30 minutes. Place pork chops on a glass dish and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes.

While pork is cooking, cut up apples (you can leave the peels in tact) into bite size pieces. Place in a pan, and cover with cinnamon. Add water. Cook on medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes, stirring occassionally.

Top the pork chops with the apples and enjoy.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookies - two ways

These little cookies might just be my new favorite - they are super easy, require only 4 ingredients, gluten-free and delicious. I've made these a few times and two different versions - Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies and Cris-Cross Peanut Butter Cookies. Both are great; it just depends on whether you want chocolate with your peanut butter or not ;). You can check out the original recipe here.

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups peanut butter
2 cups sugar minus 2 tablespoons
bag of Hersey Kisses

Preheat oven to 355 degrees.

In a small bowl, beat eggs and baking soda. In a mixer, blend peanut butter and sugar until smooth. Add egg mixture into the peanut butter mixture and stir well. Roll into 1 inch balls, place on cookie sheet and flatten. Cookies will flatten upon baking, so leave enough space between cookies on the sheet. Bake 8 - 12 minutes. Let cool on the cookie sheet for a couple of minutes before placing the Kiss in the center of the cookie. Remove cookies from sheet and further cool on a cooling rack or aluminum foil.

Cris-Cross Peanut Butter Cookies

2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups peanut butter
2 cups sugar minus 2 tablespoons

Preheat oven to 355 degrees.

In a small bowl, beat eggs and baking soda. In a mixer, blend peanut butter and sugar until smooth. Add egg mixture into the peanut butter mixture and stir well. Roll into 1 inch balls, place on cookie sheet and flatten with a fork, creating a Cris-cross pattern. Cookies will flatten upon baking, so leave enough space between cookies on the sheet. Bake 8 - 12 minutes. Let cool on the cookie sheet for a couple of minutes before placing on a cooling rack or aluminum foil.

Monday, July 14, 2014

No Sugar Coconut Apple Cinnamon Cookies

Welp, I fell off of the healthy bandwagon (I blame 4th of July, World Cup and all the awesome breweries in walking distance of my new house) and needed to get back on track, so it's back to 21DSD, although it's more of a 10DSD mini detox since I'm off to the east coast to visit family at the end of this week. I'm a week in a feeling good, although I learned the hard way yesterday on my run that I need to add the "energy" allotment of a small amount of starchy carbs to my diet. Otherwise, this time around has been a lot easier than the first. I think knowing what to expect and being overly prepared have really helped.

Anyway, hubs and I were craving something sweet and I was itching to bake something. I wasn't in love with the No Sugar Pumpkin Spice Cookies I'd made the last time, so I decided to look for something else. I found a recipe for Not-Sweet Cinnamon Cookies in the 21DSD cookbook that looked promising until I saw it required the dreaded BANANA. Ugh. So instead, I substituted green apple. I was nervous about how the consistency would turn not using banana, but I was pleasantly surprised.

These cookies turned out to be quite tasty and I will definitely be making them again! Maybe with bacon..................stay tuned.

No Sugar Coconut Apple Cinnamon Cookies

1/4 cup mashed green apple (about one small apple)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons melted coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon coconut flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 350.

Wisk together apple, eggs, oil and vanilla. Sift in the coconut flour and cinnamon and stir until well mixed. Stir in coconut and salt.

Spoon onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper into 9 equal portions and flatten.

Bake about 15 minutes. Cool completely on cooling rack or foil.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Bacon Mac & Cheese

It's been a minute since my last post, but I'm hoping to be posting more frequently again now that I'm settled in our new house. Yes, the delay in posting is because we bought a house! I have a new, spacious, beautiful kitchen that really lends itself to loads and loads of baking. That said...this post isn't about a baked good. Woops.

I know I've mentioned that when it comes to cooking, I am not really a fan. I love recipes that are quick and easy and require few ingredients. I just don't have the patience for complicated. So, obviously, I love Crockpots. They are the most amazing invention ever. You just throw everything in in the morning before work and when you get home it's done. Yay! This particular recipe isn't an all-dayer, but look for some in the future.

I also love mac & cheese (and honestly, who doesn't?) and was so excited to find this easy Crockpot recipe on the interwebs. I made it as is and it was awesome, but, of course, I decided to step it up and put my own delicious twist on it. Which clearly started with adding bacon.

Bacon Mac & Cheese
1 1/2 cups whole milk
12 ounce can evaporated milk
1/4 cup of butter, melted but cooled to room temperature
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded Italian blend cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
1 1/2 cups shredded regular cheddar
2 cups elbow macaroni 
6 pieces of cooked, chopped bacon
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Grease the inside of the slow cooker with butter. Combine milks, butter, eggs and salt in the slow cooker and whisk until smooth. Add the Italian blend and cheddar cheeses, macaroni and bacon and stir gently until everything is evenly spread/coated. Sprinkle the Parmesan on top. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes. Reduce to low heat and cook for an additional 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Edges will begin to burn if left in too long.

Monday, March 10, 2014

No Sugar Pumpkin Spice Cookies

I mentioned in my last post, I lost my mind and decided to do a 21 Day Sugar Detox. One part that was
especially hard for me, since I'm used to making sweet treats, was trying to avoid baking. I decided I *needed* to make something and found a Sugar Detox Pumpkin Cookie recipe. I read through some of the comments and saw that others had made some modifications to make them tastier, so I decided to come up with some of my own (on top of the high altitude adjustments).

They tasted good enough, but I felt like they were missing something, so I decided pair them with icing from a scone recipe in the 21-Day Sugar Detox Cookbook.

Obviously, they are still technically missing something (SUGAR), but I think they were pretty good, all things considered. They are definitely great if you decide to take the plunge and do the sugar detox. As an added bonus, they are gluten-free as well ;)

No Sugar Pumpkin Spice Cookies
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons coconut oil
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon coconut flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/2 cup coconut butter, melted
1 tablespoon coconut oil, chilled and chopped 
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350.
In a mixer, whisk together pumpkin, oil, eggs and vanilla until well blended. Sift spices and coconut flour into the mixture and mix until fully combined. Stir in the coconut until mixed in thoroughly. Roll into 1-inch size balls and flatten slightly onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until browned on edges. Let cool on parchment paper or cooling rack. Drizzle icing on top or dip as desired (if desired, I don't want to seem like I'm pushing an agenda or something).

For the icing: Combine coconut butter and coconut oil and stir until oil is completely melted. Add vanilla and cinnamon until fully mixed. Drizzle over the cookies or use as a dip.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Bacon and Eggs Muffins

So...the girl who has a blog about baking, mostly sweet treats, decided to do a 21 day sugar detox. It was tough; you would be surprised as to how many items have sugar in them that you wouldn't even realize. Never before have I looked at so many labels! It also forced me to plan ahead and prep a lot of food. It was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun (especially since hubby did most of the cleaning after I destroyed the kitchen almost nightly).

Most of the recipes I used were directly from the 21-Day Sugar Detox book and cookbook, although I did make up a few of my own and modified some from the books, one such modification is below. 

This Bacon and Eggs Muffin is an adaption of the author's Buffalo Chicken Egg Muffins, which are quite delicious, and that you should totally try.

I'm not what you call a dieter, although one time in college I did Atkins and I felt gross. Really gross. Having basically only meat and cheese and grease does not work for me. And neither does eating a set number of meals per day. 21DSD (that's what the cool kids are calling it) has lots of food on the approved list and you eat when you're hungry; which makes sense to me.

I suppose now you want to know my results. Well, my skin cleared up and I have been sleeping better.

And I lost 6 pounds.

Nope, this isn't one of those before and after photography tricks. I'd be much skinnier in the after if it was ;)

It was a great kick-start to getting out of "fat season" and getting back on a healthy track. While I don't plan to eat like this forever, I have picked up some good habits that I hope to continue.

Yup, I totally took a pic after I'd had a few bites
Bacon and Eggs Muffins

1 1/2 pounds bacon

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

12 eggs

1/4 cup sliced green onions (scallions)

sea salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425. Prepare 12 cups of a muffin tin with parchment paper muffin liners (I've tried it with regular liners - does not work!).

Cook bacon your favorite way until fully cooked and chop into pieces.  In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with the green onions, salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture into muffin cups, filling about halfway. Gently spoon about 1/4 cup of the bacon on top. Bake for 40 minutes or until the muffins rise and become golden brown around the edges.