My Herbs are Taking Over!

Herb Cubes

So, I have to tell you all about My new favorite kitchen accessory was a gift from my soon-to-be mother-in-law. These ball jar freeze cubes are ahhh-amazing!!!

620035_e1You can buy them here, or on Amazon I’m sure.

I love the abundance of fresh herbs in my garden during the summer, but they are so hard to store throughout the winter/I’m just really bad at it. I’ve tried to dry herbs by putting them in my dehydrator, hanging them upside down, and laying them out to dry on screens. Let’s just say none of those tactics have worked for me..but now! With these freeze cubes I can chop up my fresh herbs, blend them together, and then just freeze them with a liquid. Summer herbs all year long! I’ve had fun experimenting with different combinations. I’ve come up with a great lemonade basil ice cubes to add to drinks to give them a summery kick.Basil Water

Look at that plain water just waiting to be flavored! (The strawberry was in the fridge and just felt necessary…totally unrelated.) I actually used up the cube versions I made of these and made some more in these awesome silicon heart trays, both work great. This recipe is super easy and makes staying hydrated so much more enjoyable.Herb waterI also mixed some savory herbs with olive oil so when we have guests over, or just feel like a fancy bread dip we just have to thaw the cube, top it with Parmesan cheese and we have a delicious oil dip for bread. The possibilities with these are endless! I also want to try a pesto with our garlic scapes. 
Olive Oil  Herb Cubes It is such a time saver when you’re cooking dinner to just pop one of these out of the freezer and into the pan. Then you can sautee up chicken, pork, fish, vegetables, mushrooms…you get the picture. It would also be great for grilling. Make an aluminum foil packet for whatever you are grilling and pop one of these in it before you throw it on the grill. Bada-bing-bada-boom (who says that) you don’t have to worry about seasoning it mid-cooking. Rosemary Garlic Herb

I’m sure there are a million other things to mix up too. Any blend of you favorite herbs can be chopped up and crammed into the cubes. If you don’t have these silicon trays you can use regular ice cube trays. But really these are so worth purchasing because of their silicon design the frozen cubes are easy to pop out, and it has a nice lid to keep people like me from spilling everything all over their freezer.

As soon as the cubes are frozen you can put them into a ziploc bag in the freezer and reuse the trays to make more. That way you can have a constant supply throughout the fall and winter!

Here are the recipes I used!Frozen Herb Cube Recipes

Ball also has some other great recipes! You can find them here.

Do you have a favorite herb blend? I need to try some other combinations!

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How To Make Tofu: So that it doesn’t taste like rubbery nothing

Tofu! I actually enjoy eating tofu, but to many people it is really creepy, blobbery stuff that they would rather avoid. If made correctly, tofu can be a delicious source of protein for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. I did get my boyfriend hooked on the stuff (so much so that when I was away for a weekend it was all he ate…even I think that’s disgusting). This recipe is a simple, quick way to make a base tofu that can them be used in all sorts of dishes, on top of salads, or as a dish itself. Now everyone always says that tofu just tastes like whatever you season it with, which is true! But I think the texture also sends some people scurrying away. Of course, you can deep fry the cubes and it will taste good, because anything deep fried tastes good. We’re trying to keep it healthy, so this recipe still gives you a crisp exterior and delicious tasting tofu without submerging it in an inch of boiling oil. Gross tofu
Tofu might be the most attractive thing to photograph, ever.

Step 1:

Buy the tofu. Select organic and extra-firm varieties.tofu

I like Wegmans brand. Make sure you choose organic when buying soy products. Soy beans are one of the top genetically-modified organisms (GMO) in the United States. In fact it might be up to 85% of the soybean crop in the United States is GMO. Buying organic is the only way to ensure you are not buying anything genetically modified, since there are no labeling requirements in most of the U.S.

Step 2:

Drain very well and pat with a paper towel or clean dish towel.

Step 3:

Microwave for 2-3 minutes. Take the tofu out of the microwave, careful it will be scalding hot! Wait until it cools a bit and pat again with the towel. There might be some liquid on the plate or bowl, so be careful not to spill it down your arm and burn yourself, that’s not so fun.

Step 4: Chop it into bite size chunks.
Building blocksFood or weird, chalk-like, children’s building blocks??

Step 4:

Heat a frying pan. Pour 2 Tablespoons of olive oil into the heated pan. Pan fry 1 Tablespoon of very thinly chopped onions, or a Tablespoon of dried onions. Add the tofu carefully and swoosh it around in the pan for 20 minutes. Yea I know, 20 minutes is kind of a long time. You don’t have to be swooshing that whole time, just make sure that the tofu bits don’t burn on any side and cook semi-evenly.Yummy Tofu

Step 5:

After the tofu looks browned and a bit crispy turn the heat off. Add a dash of garlic powder, salt, pepper, and any fresh herbs you would like. I usually add 2-3 Tablespoons of chives.

That’s it! Let it cool and your ready to add it to any dish. I love it in fried rice, on top of salads, or dipped in my favorite condiment-aka buffalo sauce.Tofu salad

Happy Friday, Have a fantastic weekend! What is one food you just can’t stand the texture of, even if the flavor isn’t all that bad?

Cauliflower Crust Pizza (Easy version)

Keeping with the weekly menu, last night was Cauliflower Crust Pizza. One of my personal favorites. I love that I can get the flavor and feel of pizza without the greasy feel and guilt of most take out pizzas. Also, this is delicious as leftovers!Cauliflower CrustEveryone loves pizza, and most people know pizza is usually not the healthiest meal option out there. This might be the healthiest version out there! The cauliflower crust pizza craze has been all over the internet and pinterest. Some of the recipes I have discovered seem a little too time consuming, or down right difficult. This is the most simplified, yet delicious cauliflower crust pizza recipe out there! And it is gluten-free, vegetarian, and much healthier than most other pizza-y options.

Cauliflower

1. Cut up the cauliflower into chunks, taking off most of the stems. Place in food processor or blender, whirl until it its in 1/4 inch chunks, you want it to still be a little bit chunky, not fully pureed!

2. Place cauliflower into microwave safe bowl and microwave for 5 minutes, no need to add extra water! Careful it will be hot!!

3. While the cauliflower is cooking I quickly stir fry the mushrooms on medium heat until they are darker brown and soft.

4. To the warm cauliflower, add eggs, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, and garlic salt. Stir mixture together until fully combined.

5. Pat out mixture onto sprayed pizza stone or cookie sheet.

6. Bake in preheated oven (400 degrees) for 15 minutes, or until slightly golden, and it will have an elastic-like feel to it.

pizza

7. Add sauce, extra cheese, and chosen toppings, put back in the hot oven just until the cheese melts and the toppings are crispy.

8. Let cool for a bit and set up, then enjoy!

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 Slice and Enjoy! 🙂

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You can make this pizza paleo by omitting the cheese and experimenting with other vegetable/meat toppings. [Updated 6/12/14]

Decadent Fudge Brownies

I think baking brownies can be somewhat intimidating to people. Cookies? No problem. Cupcakes? Yea we got that….but brownies? Don’t you have to melt chocolate and stuff for that? Yea…not for these ones! These brownies are almost as easy as making them from the box. And they taste a million times better, have real ingredients, and nothing questionable. They are so chocolately and delicious. Perfect will a cold glass of milk for dessert…

Fudge Brownies
 According to my menu I posted yesterday, stir fry was up next on the list, but that is boring, and I wanted to share our dessert with you guys instead! These are so simple and delicious, I can’t wait for you to try them! For the milk I used almond milk, but you can use any type you want. I believe you can easily make them gluten-free by substituting Bob’s gf flour or maybe even almond flour? (no promises with that one!) They can be made vegan by using almond milk and flax seeds instead of an egg. fudge-brownie-recipe.jpg

If you want a thicker brownie they can be made in an 8×8 baking dish, but they will need to be baked for 10-15 minutes longer.  They are so rich and delicious that you only need a small bite to satisfy your chocolate craving. And they are SO much healthier than most brownie recipes.IMG_6991

These brownies are easy to make, and a much better option compared to the boxed versions. For instance, Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge Brownie Box contains:

Sugar, Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour [Enriched With Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid], Malted Barley Flour), Powdered Sugar (Sugar, Corn Starch), Cocoa Powder Processed With Alkali, Vegetable Oil Shortening (Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil). Contains 2% Or Less Of: Wheat Starch, Dextrose, Salt, Cornstarch, Artificial Flavor, Carrageenan, Leavening (Sodium Bicarbonate).chewy-fudge-brownie-recipe

 

The first ingredient is sugar, meaning that is the most abundant ingredient. These (and many other boxed brownies) contain hydrogenated oil. Which is a trans fat- meaning linked to causing heart disease, cardiovascular problems due to an increase in cholesterol. And the FDA has banned them in our foods…and they will (eventually) be taken out. Hopefully. At least the government is recognizing trans fats are not safe, I guess it’s one step in the right direction. A small one. The brownie mix also contains artifical flavor…read, anything we want to add. And the algae extracted carrageenan. Yea, totally a normal ingredient. I talk more about hydrogenated oils here, in my post about peanut butters. And natural and artificial flavors here, What is in my protein bar?!

So…Just make them yourself! It’s easy! And then they don’t taste like chocolate flavored oil, they don’t leave a big oily stain on your napkin, and they don’t give you high cholesterol….but most importantly of all, you know EXACTLY what is going into them. And I’m pretty sure most of us don’t have a bottle of carrageenan sitting in our cupboard…because if anyone did, it would probably be me.

So next time you want to whip up a batch of brownies, try this recipe instead of reaching for the box. You probably have most of the ingredients in your cupboard, if not they are available at most grocery stores! Boyfriend .jpg

But be careful! My boyfriend is such a sneak that he eats only the chocolate chip parts! Even though I told him there were chocolate chips throughout them, he thought it was necessary to cut out the parts with extra chocolate chips. Jeepers, worse than a little kid!

 

Quick and Easy Stuffed Peppers

This week on the dinner menu!DinnerMenu.jpg

This is the first time I’ve actually gone shopping and planned what I was going to eat. Usually we just go to the store and buy what we always buy and then when it’s time to make dinner we have no idea what to make. I was getting kind of bored with the same old recipes we were making. So I decided to actually make a plan! (Which we probably won’t stick to anyway). Oh well! Last night we made some delicious stuffed peppers. And I’m sharing that recipe with you today!

This recipe is much quicker, easier, and healthier than many I have found! And it tasted delicious!

Stuffed Peppers:

StuffedPeppers

Ingredients:

  • 4 bell peppers, any color…I even found a multi-colored one!
  • 1 pound ground beef, or sausage
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  •  1 1/2 cup diced tomatoes, I used our frozen marinara sauce
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheeseStuffed Pepper RecipeYou might need to put these on broil for just a couple of minutes to really get the cheese brown and crispy, but it’s really only a couple of minutes! Don’t burn them! We bought local, grass-fed, sausages from a farm a couple of miles away. These really had a delicious flavor and they were so easy to make. Suffed Inside.jpg
    De-licious! You can also use ground beef and season it however you like! If you would like the peppers to be softer you can leave them in the oven longer than just the preheat time, but I didn’t wanna wait that long and I don’t mind if they are a little crunchy! Hopefully, I will have the next couple of recipes later in the week! Enjoy!

Banana Bread Bars

BananaBreadBarMmm Peanut Butter Banana Bread Bars. Yikes! Sounds dangerously good. Don’t worry they are healthy and delicious! And they are a great way to use up those old bananas rotting away on your counter…

RottenBananasYea those…actually they aren’t even too rotten, but I just really wanted to make something with them. This is what I came up with! These are kind of like chewy granola bars- much lighter than regular banana bread, but still realllly good.
BananaBread.jpg

These are great for breakfast or after a workout. They go wonderfully with coffee. If you don’t have natural peanut butter, I’m (pretty) sure that regular peanut butter would work. I used dark chocolate chunks on top, but any sort of chocolate chips would work, or peanut butter chips might be a great idea too. These can be made vegan by omitting the chocolate chips or using non-dairy chocolate chips.

BananaBreadBarsThey were eaten up pretty quickly! Happy Monday! What is your favorite way to start the morning?!

 

Chocolate-Covered Blueberry Smoothie

ImageThis is an awesome post workout smoothie to whip up. It is about 200 calories and 24 grams of protein, depending on what time of protein powder and greek yogurt you use. But most importantly, it tastes delicious! So let’s get to it…

The goods!Image

Super easy, super delicious, and your muscles will thank you too.