Saturday, January 24, 2015

Breakfast Yogurt Smoothie

Smoothies are one of my favorite things and this one is perfect for breakfast and feels like a treat, plus its under 300 calories and keeps you full all morning. I'm a sucker for mangoes so that's what I use, but any frozen fruit would work. Just adjust the amount of the milk you use for the right consistency.

Super Easy Yogurt Fruit Smoothie

1 cup frozen unsweetened fruit (mango, peach, strawberries, etc.)
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (I like to use an almond/coconut milk blend)
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
1 tsp. honey (optional)

Add all ingredients to the blender and puree until smooth. Drink cold and enjoy!

*Note: You can also add greens to this smoothie, spinach works really well and you don't even taste it!

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Roasted Veggie Empanadas w/ Fresh Tomatillo Sauce

I am far from a vegetarian, but I do like to plan at least one or two veggie-centric dinners for us every week and this one was a huge hit. The original recipe (I only tweaked it a little) is from one of my all-time favorite food bloggers, so make sure to check out her site over on Annie's Eats. It is the perfect way to get more veggies in your family's diet, not to mention it is idea for little ones who aren't so great with the knife and fork skills yet.

You really can customize the filling with your favorite roasted veggies. This time I went with what the recipe called for (eggplant, mushrooms, etc.), but next time I might swap out the eggplant for butternut squash or add in some carrots. The veggies are all roasted before you fold them into the empanada dough so you don't have to be as concerned with the ones that hold onto water (mushrooms, zucchini, etc.), which opens up so many options!

This empanada dough is going to become a staple in my kitchen, I'm already plotting for a batch made with crock-pot chicken carnitas as a filling, or maybe the super-easy and crowd-pleasing crock-pot pulled pork? My husband is campaigning for dessert fillings so who knows, the possibilities are endless!

This recipe does take a little planning, but the actual recipe is really easy to assemble. You can even make the dough the night before and let it chill in the fridge, just give it about 30 minutes to come a little closer to room temp when you use it, otherwise its like trying to roll out a block of concrete. You can easily roast your veggies while you roll out the dough and cut it into circles, plus these are baked so no messy oil to worry about on the stovetop. Definitely a dinnertime win in our house!

Roasted Veggie Empanadas (with Fresh Tomatillo Sauce)

Ingredients for the Dough
2½ cups AP flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 cup (8 oz.) cold unsalted butter (diced)
2 large eggs
2/3-3/4 cup ice water
2 tbsp. distilled white vinegar

Ingredients for the Filling
1 eggplant (medium-large sized)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
8 oz. mushrooms, chopped (use whatever kind you like)
1/2 large onion, chopped
1/2 poblano pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large egg lightly beaten with 1 tbsp. water, for brushing

Ingredients for the Sauce
4 medium-sized tomatillos
1/4 cup cold water
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1 jalapeno (seeded and ribbed) or use the other 1/2 of the poblano instead

Make the dough first by combining the flours and salt in the bowl of a food processor, then add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal and the butter pieces are smaller.

Combine the eggs, vinegar and water in a liquid measuring cup (makes it easier to pour), then as the food processor is running, add the liquid and until a shaggy dough forms. Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until it comes together. Separate into 2 discs (will make it easier to roll out later!), wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or overnight.

To make the filling, preheat the oven to 375. Slice the eggplant into ½-inch thick slices, lay them out in a singer layer on rimmed baking sheets. Brush with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Flip each slice and repeat on the other side. Roast until slightly soft and golden, about 30-40 minutes, flipping once halfway through the baking time. When cool enough to handle, transfer to a cutting board and roughly chop.

You can use the same baking sheet for the rest of the veggies, just toss the chopped mushrooms, onion, pepper and garlic with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and add them to the pan. Roast until just tender, about 15-20 minutes, stirring once or twice during baking. Let cool slightly and add to a large bowl, along with the chopped eggplant.

Make the tomatillo sauce by peeling, rinsing and quartering the tomatillos and adding them to a blender along with the water, garlic, pepper and cilantro. Blend until combined and slightly chunky. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

To assemble, lightly flour a work surface. Roll out the dough to just less than ¼-inch thick. Cut into rounds with a cookie or biscuit cutter (mine were about 3-4 inch rounds). Place about 2 tbsp. of the filling in the center of each dough round. Fold in half, then press the edges together and crimp together with the tines of a fork. (If your dough is not sealing easily, dip a fingertip in water and brush over one edge of the dough, then seal together. It will help the dough stick.) Repeat with the remaining dough and filling, rerolling dough scraps as needed.

When ready to bake, heat the oven to 400. Place the shaped empanadas onto a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Brush lightly with the egg wash. Bake until golden brown and warmed through, about 20 minutes. Serve warm with the fresh tomatillo sauce!

Barely Adapted from Annie's Eats

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Butter Pecan Cookies {A Birthday Gift}

My mother-in-law loves pecans, so every year on her birthday I try to come up with a pecan-based dessert as part of her gift. Las year I made "The Best Ever Pecan Squares",which were delicious, but this year I wanted to change it up and try a cookie.

These Butter Pecan Cookies are fantastic and definitely addictive! They're stuffed full of pecans and have that trademark rich buttery flavor. Of course I kept a few out of the batch to enjoy and they're perfect with a cup of tea.

Now that we're all back to a normal equilibrium after all the holiday indulging, don't you think its time for a little treat?

Butter Pecan Cookies


1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar, for rolling

In a 300F degree oven, toast the chopped pecans on a large parchment paper or silicone mat-lined baking sheet for 15 minutes. Stir twice during this time. Turn oven off and set pecans aside to cool.

Beat the butter for 1 minute on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy using the paddle attachment on your stand mixer. Add the granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat on medium high speed until fluffy and light in color. Add in the eggs and vanilla and continue to beat the mixture on high speed until well combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt together before slowly mixing the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined. Add the toasted chopped pecans, mix on low for about 5-10 seconds until evenly disbursed. Cover dough tightly plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours in the fridge.

Remove cookie dough from the refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats or use stoneware baking sheets (that's what I always use).

Once chilled, the dough will be slightly crumbly, but will come together if you work the dough with your hands as you roll into individual balls. Scoop and roll balls of dough, about 1 Tablespoon of dough each, into balls. 

Roll the cookie dough balls into the granulated sugar and bake the cookies for 10 minutes, until slightly golden brown around the edges. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet. If the cookies are too puffy, try gently pressing down on them with the back of a spoon. They will slightly deflate as you let them cool. Transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.

Recipe barely adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

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