Kitchen Concoctions

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Paleo Banana Bread

I have cooked in a lot of kitchens.


Various home kitchens. Restaurant kitchens. Cooking school kitchens. Commercial kitchens.

Most food companies (catering companies, products sold at farmers markets, etc.) that don't have their own store front or restaurant, prepare their food in a rented commercial kitchen. These are large professional kitchens that have work stations for each company renting the kitchen.

Cooking in these kitchens can be challenging because while you might have your designated counter space to do all your prep, you and all the other people cooking in the kitchen, are sharing ovens, stove tops, etc., which could be across the building from your work station.

A while back, I was doing some work assisting a private chef who prepared a lot meals for people on special diets. While I don't follow strict dietary restrictions, a lot of people I know do. So I have quite a bit of experience of preparing meals to meet these various dietary needs.


One thing that I am still trying to master is baking delicious gluten free, Paleo and vegan treats. I have several great recipes here on Kitchen Concoctions, but it was working in that commercial kitchen (with all it's challenges) and making countless gluten free/Paleo/vegan muffins, granola bars and breads (with great success!) that gave me the encouragement and desire to test and try more baked goods for special dietary needs.

This Paleo Banana Bread (which means is is also gluten free, lactose free and refined sugar free) has been a favorite the last few months (tested and tasted by many). I mean it is certainly not my Mama's Banana Bread (no banana bread I have ever eaten has ever topped her's) but this is a great recipe for those with special diet needs! It is moist and nutty and packed with banana flavor. It is not overly sweet but sweet enough to satisfy that banana bread craving. I left the pecans optional, as I don't think they are necessary when using the nut flours, but feel free to add them, if desired!

One Year Ago: Southwestern Sloppy Joes
Two Years Ago: Broccoli Francaise
Three Years Ago: Asparagus with Garlic Vinaigrette
Four Years Ago: Chewy Granola Bars
Five Years Ago: Gooey Cheese and Chicken Enchiladas


Paleo Banana Bread 
Printable Version
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 40-45 minutes Wait Time: 30 minutes Yields: 1 loaf

A moist banana bread... loaded with bananas and that meets various dietary restrictions. 

Ingredients:

4 ripe bananas
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 1/4 cups almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
2 tablespoons flax meal
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 ¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup pecans, chopped optional

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 8.4 x 4.4 x 2.5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper or grease with coconut oil.

In a large bowl, thoroughly mash the bananas with a potato masher or a fork. Stir in the coconut oil, eggs and vanilla, mixing well.

In a medium bowl, stir together remaining dry ingredients, except the pecans; making sure you break up all the flours. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, stirring until fully combined. Stir in the pecans (if using).

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes. Carefully remove from pan and finish cooling on wire rack before slicing.

Adapted from Three Diets One Dinner


Other recipes you might enjoy: 
Gluten Free Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes
Paleo Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Sauce Drizzle
Coconut Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Honey Pear Muffins
Chunky Monkey Baked Oatmeal Muffins

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Perfect Chocolate Pairings (Plus a Ghirardelli Chocolate Giveaway!)

If you don't like chocolate, I don't know if we can be friends.

No really. I just don't get you.

A good piece of chocolate is the ultimate treat for me. Taking one satisfying bite and simply enjoying that little indulgent moment.

This post is sponsored by Ghirardelli. 

I first fell in love with chocolate- and I'm talking good, gourmet, quality chocolate- when I was in high school. That was the first time I went to San Francisco (a place I love!). While there, we visited Ghirardelli Square, a landmark shopping center in Fisherman's Wharf. What a magical place that was! Right on the shore, filled with fresh seafood restaurants, eclectic shops and the sound of trolleys and tourists muddling around. Being the foodie that I am (even back then) a highlight of the visit was the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop. I was in absolute awe of all the varieties of chocolate they had and fell in love with first bite and every bite afterward! Since that day I have loved Ghirardelli Chocolates!


A special memory and some intense dark chocolate is the perfect pair! Just like fine wine, robust coffee, and delicate herbs and spices; pairing chocolate, not only with still, quite moments, but with other food or drinks, enhances the flavor profile of the chocolate. The darker the chocolate, like the Ghirardellii Intense Dark Chocolate 72% Twilight Delight, the more you can savor when paired with the right foods.

Today, I am teaming up with Ghirardelli Chocolate to share with you some of my favorite chocolate parings as well as bring you a giveaway (more information about that below)!


Warming a piece of Ghirardellii Intense Dark Chocolate 72% Twilight Delight and topping it with some toasted coconut adds a nice nutty caramelized flavor to the intense dark chocolate. Then adding some chopped, raw or lightly salted almonds creates an amazing flavor combination with tons of texture.


Chocolate and peanut butter will always be a classic flavor combination. Simply smearing some good quality peanut butter on top of a square of Ghirardellii Intense Dark Chocolate 72% Twilight Delight makes for a quick chocolate pairing that no one can resist.


Chocolate covered strawberries will always be one of my favorites! I love biting into a plump, juicy strawberry dripping in melted intense dark chocolate. Simply heaven.


The velvety smooth and deep robust flavor of Ghirardellii Intense Dark Chocolate 72% Twilight Delight makes it a perfect sidekick to red wines that have cherry, blackberry and plum undertones, such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The folks at Ghirardellii get this and that is why they are going to be sharing their lovely chocolates at the Austin Food and Wine Festival next weekend. At the festival they will be featured as the exclusive chocolate where you can both sample product and be paired with a partner wine.

I had the opportunity to go to the festival last year and I wish I could go this year. Even though I will be missing out on all the food, wine, celebrity chefs, and of course chocolate at the festival; that doesn't mean you have to either, well miss out on the chocolate that is!

While I wish I could send you all to the festival, I am going to send one of you a box of the six different flavors of Ghirardellii Intense Dark Chocolate Bars!


GIVEAWAY:

1 (one) of each of the six different flavors Ghirardellii Intense Dark Chocolate Bars (click here to see all the flavors)

HOW TO ENTER GIVEAWAY:

You have SEVEN separate ways to enter the Ghirardellii Intense Dark Chocolate Giveaway! (NOTE: Please leave a SEPARATE comment for each response below):

Mandatory:

1. Head over to the Ghirardellii site and take a look around and come back and leave a comment for which Ghirardellii Intense Dark Chocolate Bar you would like to try and what food or drink you would pair with it.

Optional Additional Entries (PLEASE LEAVE A SEPARATE COMMENT FOR EACH):

2. Tell someone about this giveaway, on a blog, Facebook or Twitter and leave a new comment letting me know and sharing the link.

3. “Like” Kitchen Concoctions on Facebook.

4. Follow Kitchen Concoctions on Twitter.

5. Follow Kitchen Concoctions on Pinterest.

6. Follow Kitchen Concoctions on Instagram

7. Sign up for the Kitchen Concoctions newsletter.

THE FINE PRINT:  This give-away closes Wednesday 30, 2014 at 11:59 PM PST. ONE winner will be chosen at random (by random.org) and will be announced sometime after the give-away ends. Winner must contact Kitchen Concoctions within 72 hours at kitchenconcoctions at gmail dot com to claim prize. If winner has not claimed prize within 72 hours then a new winner will be notified. Kitchen Concoctions is not responsible for unclaimed prizes and will choose another winner if original winner has not claimed prize within 72 hours of being announced. Giveaway for US residents only. Kitchen Concoctions is not responsible for undelivered or damaged prizes. Contents of prize pack may vary slightly. NOTE: Please check back after giveaway closing to see if you are a winner. As much as I would like to run all over the Internet world looking for you, I do not have the time. So you as the winner MUST contact me with your information.

Disclosure: Thank you to Ghirardellii Intense Dark Chocolate for sponsoring this post and allowing me to share my perfect chocolate pairing. Giveaway is made possible with this sponsorship. All opinions are 100% my own.  


Friday, April 18, 2014

Breakfast Style Egg Salad Sandwiches

They say it is the most important meal of the day.

Breakfast.


Growing up I had a set of friends (siblings) who's Mom made them a hot breakfast every.single.day of the week. There were some school mornings I was so envious of their hot, yummy breakfast that smelled so inviting (we would sometimes car pool to school together so I was taunted many a mornings by the aroma of those hot delicious breakfasts lingering out their backdoor).

But their Mom was mostly a stay at home/work from home Mom and my Mom worked an office job, far, far away. So my weekday breakfast typically consisted of boring cold cereal or instant oatmeal (don't get me wrong I love my cereal and oatmeal, even to this day, but sometimes you want just a little bit more!).


But on the weekends? My Mom totally made up for the cold cereal breakfasts during the week with a hot breakfast smorgasbord... cinnamon rolls, bacon, eggs, fresh fruit... the works!

However, the reality is for most people they just don't have time to eat a hot breakfast every day (I still don't!). Most of us eat something quick and easy or something they can just take, grab and go! 

But that is what I love about today's recipe. The egg salad mixture for these Breakfast Style Egg Salad Sandwiches can be made in advance, so in the morning all you need is like three, maybe five minutes to have a hot and filling breakfast.

Break the cold cereal breakfast norm with this creamy egg salad, loaded with spicy breakfast sausage served on a toasted English muffin, covered with melted cheese!

Yes, become the breakfast hero.

One Year Ago: FYI: Making Meatless Monday a Success
Two Years Ago: Lemon-and-Dill Green Beans
Three Years Ago: Bird Nest Cookies
Four Years Ago: Monkey Bread
Five Years Ago: Restaurant Review: Garcia's Cafe


Breakfast Style Egg Salad Sandwiches
Printable Version 
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 10-12 minutes Servings: 6 

An egg salad sandwich with a breakfast twist! 

Ingredients:

6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
½ pound breakfast sausage, cooked and crumbled
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons spicy mustard
1 ½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1-2 teaspoons hot sauce
½ teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
6 whole English muffins, split

Directions:

In a large bowl stir together eggs, sausage and ½ cup cheese.

In a small bowl stir together mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. Gently fold mayonnaise mixture into egg and sausage mixture. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Place English muffins in a toaster oven and toast until golden brown.

Spread 3-4 tablespoons egg salad mixture onto each half of the slightly toasted English muffin. Top egg salad with ½ to 1 tablespoon of the remaining cheese. Place cheese topped muffins under a preheated broiler for 3 to 5 minutes until hot and bubbly. Serve immediately.

Note: Egg salad mixture can be made in advance and refrigerated. Continue with recipe as directed with toasting and heating of English muffins.

Recipe originally seen here on Kitchen Concoctions in 2010  



Other recipes you might enjoy:
Curried Egg Salad
BLT Egg Salad Sandwiches
Classic Egg Salad Sandwiches
Texas Style Breakfast Burritos  
Hash Brown Breakfast Casserole

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Cooking Basics: Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs (Plus Hard Boiled Egg Recipe Round-Up!)

Cooking hard boiled eggs seems like it should be one of the easiest culinary techniques. However, there are so many things that can complicate the cooking process, and despite what seems like a simple technique, can quickly turn into a disaster.


This time of year most people are gearing up to boil tons of eggs for the traditional Easter egg dying, but hard boiled eggs make a quick and easy breakfast or snack and can be added to a number of recipes (hello BLT Egg Salad Sandwiches!), so mastering this cooking technique is a must!

To help you conquer the hard boiled egg, I am here with another installment of 'cooking basics!' I've boiled a lot, let me emphasis a lot, of eggs in my day and I have learned a few tricks and tips to achieve that perfect hard boiled egg → not cracked, perfect yellow yolk, easy to peel, boiled eggs! 


So let's get to it!

A few things that can affect your hard boiled eggs:

Too fresh: Very fresh eggs are hard to peel. For best results use eggs that are 5+ days old.

High altitude: If you live at a high altitude follow the directions below and allow eggs to sit covered for 15-20 minutes. 

Salt: Adding a little salt to the cooking water can help the eggs peel more easily.

Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs:

1. Place eggs in a single layer in a large pot. Cover with 1 to 1 ½ inches cold tap water. 

2. Place pot on stove top and bring to a full rolling boil. Boil eggs for one minute. Remove from heat and cover pot with a tight fitting lid. Let eggs sit in hot water for 9-10 minutes for medium-sized eggs, 11-12 minutes for large eggs, and 14-15 minutes for extra large eggs

3. Meanwhile fill a large bowl with ice and cold tap water. After eggs have sat in water for instructed amount of time, use a slotted spoon or tongs to transfer eggs to bowl of ice water. Allow eggs to cool in ice water for 5 minutes. 

4. Peel cooled eggs by tapping them gently on cutting board or the edge of the bowl. Peeled eggs should be eaten immediately or stored in the refrigerator, in an air tight container, for one day.


Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs
Printable Version 
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 5 minutes Wait Time 17-18 minutes

1 dozen eggs
½ – 1 teaspoons salt (optional) 

Place eggs in a single layer in a large pot. Cover with 1 to 1 ½ inches cold tap water.

Place pot on stove top and bring to a full rolling boil. Boil eggs for one minute. Remove from heat and cover pot with a tight fitting lid. Let eggs sit in hot water for 9-10 minutes for medium-sized eggs, 11-12 minutes for large eggs, and 14-15 minutes for extra large eggs.

Meanwhile fill a large bowl with ice and cold tap water. After eggs have sat in water for instructed amount of time, use a slotted spoon or tongs to transfer eggs to bowl of ice water. Allow eggs to cool in ice water for 5 minutes.

Peel cooled eggs by tapping them gently on cutting board or the edge of the bowl. Starting at the larger more rounded end, begin peeling the eggs. The larger rounded end has a small indention that will help the peeling process start more easily.

Peeling eggs under cold running water or in the bowl of ice water will also help in the peeling process.

Peeled eggs should be eaten immediately or stored in the refrigerator, in an air tight container, for one day. Hard boiled eggs in the shell can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.


If you are on Pinterest I'm sure you have seen the posts about perfect hard 'boiled' eggs that are baked in the oven. I hadn't tried this technique until fairly recently and it totally works! Last December I went to cook at a hunting lodge for a bunch of hunters and one of them said that baking eggs was the only way he made hard “boiled” eggs and they came out perfect every time. I started trying it and low and behold, perfect, easily to peel hard “boiled” eggs baked in the oven. The only downside to the baked version, is that some brown spots may appear on the shell and on the cooked egg whites (you may also notices the egg whites will appear to have a yellowish tint). This really isn't a problem unless you want picture perfect eggs, like for deviled eggs. But for snacking or diced to go into recipes this method is just fine!

Baked Hard "Boiled" Eggs:

1. Place one egg into each cavity of a muffin tin. Place muffin tin into a cold oven.

2. Turn oven on- to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake eggs for 22-23 minutes.

3. Meanwhile fill a large bowl with ice and cold tap water. After eggs have baked for instructed amount of time, use tongs to transfer eggs to bowl of ice water. Allow eggs to cool in ice water for 5 minutes.

4. Peel cooled eggs by tapping them gently on cutting board or edge of bowl.


Baked Hard “Boiled” Eggs
Printable Version
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 22-23 minutes

1 dozen large eggs

Place one egg into each cavity of a muffin tin. Place muffin tin into a cold oven. Turn oven on- to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake eggs for 22-23 minutes.

Meanwhile fill a large bowl with ice and cold tap water. After eggs have baked for instructed amount of time, use tongs to transfer eggs to bowl of ice water. Allow eggs to cool in ice water for 5 minutes.

Peel cooled eggs by tapping them gently on cutting board or edge of bowl. Starting at the larger more rounded end, begin peeling the eggs. The larger rounded end has a small indention that will help the peeling process start more easily.

Peeling eggs under cold running water or in the bowl of ice water will also help in the peeling process.

Peeled eggs should be eaten immediately or stored in the refrigerator, in an air tight container, for one day. Hard boiled eggs in the shell can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Note: You may need to experiment with the baking time, as all ovens are different. Also, the size of the egg may affect the baking time.


Now that you know how to create perfect hard boiled eggs, check out the following recipes from around the web that use hard boiled eggs!

Lemon Caper Deviled Eggs (Kitchen Concoctions)
Guacamole Deviled Eggs (Skinny Taste)
Classic Deviled Eggs (Kitchen Concoctions)
25 Fun Ways to Decorate Easter Eggs (Six Sisters' Stuff) 
Curried Egg Salad (Kitchen Concoctions)
Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad with Soft-Boiled Eggs (Naturally Ella)
BLT Egg Salad Sandwiches (Kitchen Concoctions)
Baked Scotch Eggs (Culinary Concoctions by Peabody)
Southwestern Cobb Salad (Kitchen Concoctions)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Easter Chick and Carrot Nutter Butter Cookies

Hi friends!


Remember that blogging conference I told you about? The one I went to back in March? Well, as I mentioned, after the conference I was super inspired with all sorts of ideas for Kitchen Concoctions. I also left feeling energized to get organized, not only for this blog, but in my personal life. I was doing good for awhile. Engaging with y'all regularly on Social Media, posting consistently, and working on a ton of things behind the scenes (I am working hard on a blog redesign so that hopefully this site is more user friendly).

Then... I don't know what happened... but April hit and life got crazy. Work picked up. I got sick. Oh yeah, and the weather is totally gorgeous making it really hard to concentrate.


Last month when I was planning all my blog posts for the month of April, I knew I wanted to share some Easter recipes. And not just a few recipes, you see the first few years of this blog I had fun theme weeks all the time (remember that s'mores week I tried to have last month). I had so much fun creating those weeks that I had wanted to bring you an entire Easter themed week (like I have done in the past). Well I started creating and photographing recipes and then didn't get it finished. 


So I made these adorable Easter themed Nutter Butter Cookies instead. I love chocolate dipped Nutter Butter Cookies and I love when they are decorated super cute even more! In fact, as part of my annual Ghoulish Grub Week to celebrate Halloween, I have shared many different Halloween versions of decorated Nutter Butters. I have actually had ideas for decorated Nutter Butter Cookies for other holidays floating in my head for quite sometime; I just usually don't think to make them until it's too late!

However, I think it is time that we have some Easter versions too! There are lots of Easter Nutter Butter Cookie ideas floating all over Pinterest. Bunnies, chicks, etc. These are my versions... an adorable Easter Chick and a cute carrot, perfect for any spring gathering or even to top a carrot cake! 

One Year Ago: Oatmeal Banana Dog Biscuits
Two Years Ago: In Season: Arugula
Three Years Ago: Classic Deviled Eggs
Four Years Ago: Cowboy Calzone
Five Years Ago: Restaurant Review: Garcia's Cafe


Easter Chick Nutter Butter Cookies
Printable Version

Yellow candy melts
Coconut oil or vegetable oil
Nutter Butter Cookies
Mini chocolate chips
Orange flower shaped sprinkles
Orange heart shaped sprinkles

Line a baking sheet or plate with wax paper.

Place candy melts in microwave safe bowl. Add ½ teaspoon of oil for every 6-9 ounces of candy melts. Microwave for 30 seconds. Remove from microwave and stir. Return to microwave for an additional 30 seconds. Stir again and repeat heating and stirring process until candy melts are smooth and melted.

Using a fork, working with one cookie at a time, dip the entire Nutter Butter cookie in melted chocolate. Allow excess chocolate to drip off. If desired, use a small off-set spatula to smooth the melted chocolate over the top of the cookie.

Place dipped cookie on wax paper lined baking sheet. Working quickly, decorate the chocolate covered cookie with mini chocolate chips (the eyes), the flower sprinkles (the chicken feet) and the heart shaped sprinkle, pointed end up (the beak).

Set cookies aside to harden completely before serving. To speed up hardening process, dipped cookies can be place in refrigerator. Store cookies in an air tight container for up to one week. 

NOTE: Add 1-2 orange candy melts to the yellow candy melts for a darker yellow color.

inspired by these Ghost Nutter Butter Cookies and versions seen on the web


Carrot Nutter Butter Cookies
Printable Version

Green 'straw' or 'rope' candy (ex: Sour Punch Candy Straws)
Orange candy melts
Coconut oil or vegetable oil
Nutter Butter Cookies

Line a baking sheet or plate with wax paper. Cut candy straws into 1 to 1 ½ inch pieces.

Place candy melts in microwave safe bowl. Add ½ teaspoon of oil for every 6-9 ounces of candy melts. Microwave for 30 seconds. Remove from microwave and stir. Return to microwave for an additional 30 seconds. Stir again and repeat heating and stirring process until candy melts are smooth and melted.

Using a fork, working with one cookie at a time, dip the entire Nutter Butter cookie in melted chocolate. Allow excess chocolate to drip off. If desired, use a small off-set spatula to smooth the melted chocolate over the top of the cookie.

Place dipped cookie on wax paper lined baking sheet. Using a sharp knife, cut a small insert into the top of dipped cookie, opening the space between the two cookies slightly. Carefully, insert 2-3 candy straw pieces into the slit. Drizzle a tiny amount of melted chocolate over slit, if needed to seal, and smooth with spatula.

Set cookies aside to harden completely before serving. To speed up hardening process, dipped cookies can be place in refrigerator. Store cookies in an air tight container for up to one week. 

inspired by these decorated Nutter Butter cookies from Country Chic Cottage (as seen on Pinterest)


Other recipes you might enjoy:
50+ Easter Crafts, Recipes and More! 
Bunny Bait 
"Tie" Dyed Easter Eggs
Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs
Bird Nest Cookies

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Protein Shake

Smoothies and shakes. Shakes and smoothies.


I kid you not, I went to load pictures from my camera to my computer the other day and of all the 400+ photos, it was all pictures of shakes and smoothies. Oh and bacon.

Yes, that is all I have been eating lately.

No not bacon (although that has been in my diet in healthy dosages!!!). 

But shakes and smoothies (remember that Frozen Pink Lemonade Smoothie I shared a few weeks ago?).

That's all I want. I guess that is what my body needs right now. Lots and lots of fruits and veggies. 

And that is what I love about smoothies, they are packed with nutrients and I can easily get my daily servings of fruits and veggies in an easy to drink and tasty smoothie.


I have also started using protein powder in some of my shakes and smoothies. Honestly, I used to never get the protein shake/powder thing, but since I have been a crazy, constantly on the go, person right now; whipping up a quick protein shake to run out the door with, is the perfect thing to hold me over until lunch or dinner. (Holy, run on sentence, Batman!) I have also been trying to be more active. No, don't worry, this isn't going to become a weight loss/workout blog, I just want to have a more active lifestyle. Because getting out and walking around the lake, doing some yoga and punching an invisible punching bag has been good for my soul. And a protein shake keeps me going strong. 

Plus, this Chocolate Covered Strawberries Protein Shake is so rich and delicious that I feel like I am getting a special treat! I love it and drink one of these almost every day. Seriously. Love.

If you don't have protein powder or don't want to use it, no worries! You can still have a skinny chocolate shake by using cocoa powder and a bit of honey (which I've included in the recipe below). You can also add a handful of spinach for added nutrients!

Go on! Drink up! 

One Year Ago: Turtle Cheesecake
Two Years Ago: FYI: Tips for Cooking Ham
Three Years Ago: Carolina Crab Cakes
Four Years Ago: Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf
Five Years Ago: Restaurant Review: Garcia's Cafe


Chocolate Covered Strawberry Protein Shake
by Heather H. of Kitchen Concoctions: www.kitchen-concoctions.com
Printable Version
Prep Time: 5 minutes Serves: 1

A protein packed shake that tastes like an indulgent treat! 

Ingredients:

6-7 fresh or frozen strawberries
½ cup Greek yogurt
1 scoop chocolate protein powder*
1/4-1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
4-5 ice cubes

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a high power blender and blend until smoothie. Add additional milk or ice to reach desired constancy. Serve immediately.

Optional: Add 1/2-1 cup spinach or baby kale for added nutritional value.

*NOTE: 1 tablespoon cocoa powder plus 2-3 teaspoons honey can be substituted for chocolate protein powder. Frozen strawberries will yield a thicker, creamier shake.


Other recipes you might enjoy:
Frozen Pink Lemonade Smoothie
Green Monster Smoothie
Sour Apple Creamy Green Smoothie
Peach Smoothie
Pina Colada Smoothie

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

"Dishin' It Up" - March 2014 Edition

Holy Moly!!!


Those are the only words I can think to describe the month of March! It was like insane but I loved every.single.minute of it!

Wanna know what kept me busy last month (btw: Happy first day of April aka April Fool's!)? Well here is another installment of “Dishin' It Up!” (a look closer at some of the photos from my Instagram feed and some that didn't get shared!).


At the end of February we celebrated Mardi Gras! We headed to Louisiana for an official Mardi Gras parade! Cajun food and culture are deep rooted in my soul and family heritage; and while we eat gumbo, crawfish, red beans and rice, and celebrate many other popular Louisiana traditions; this was our first Mardi Gras parade! It was so much fun even if we went to the family friendly parade. Honestly, I think that is the only type Mardi Gras parade I could handle! : )

Since I live in central Texas, most of the month of March centers around the world renowned SXSW film, music and interactive festival. Of course I had to check out various events around town!


I attended a great blogging conference called TECHmunch. Blogging conferences are not only educational they are so much fun and always leave me amped and re-energized to be a better blogger. While these conferences have a lot of useful information about blogging, there is a ton of useful information that is shared that everyone can benefit from. Check out this recap about how to be more safe online (tips not just for bloggers). Oh... and we also got to meet and hear from Chef Brian Malarkey (from the shows Top Chef and Taste; and the restaurant Searsucker) about his career as a chef and restaurant owner!


As part of SXSW film there was a Game of Thrones Interactive Exhibit. We are pretty big Game of Thrones fans so it was so cool to check out props and costumes directly from the film set. They even had an Oculus Rift exhibit, a new virtual reality experience, that was super intense, as it had you climbing up then falling down the snowy tower.


SXSW wouldn't be complete without some live music. Every year the flagship (downtown Austin) Whole Foods has a free concert series on their roof top. I was thrilled to see that some of my favorite artists were performing. I got 'up close and personal' for G. Love and while he was singing one of his new songs about coffee (Probably one of the reasons I love his music so much he always sings about food! The way to my heart! Ha!), he looked directly at me and asked how I like my coffee. I about died and then was able to answer... with milk and sugar of course! : )


Eating is also a major part of SXSW (it is a major part of living, breathing and being Austin) and we went to a French cheese tasting (by Cheeses of Europe and Isigny America). Like hello. A cheese tasting? I was in heaven!


Speaking of eating, we ate a lot this month (not just part of SXSW)! This Donut Breakfast Taco, from Donut Taco Palace (Austin, TX) was deliciously insane and is a must try if you are eating your way around Austin. It was also a super popular photo on Instagram and I can't wait to go back and eat this breakfast taco again; it is made from rolled out donut dough that is deep fried, then grilled and filled with your favorite breakfast taco ingredients. The dough was slightly sweet but nice and soft and fluffy, making a perfect (and ginormous) breakfast taco!


I also had the opportunity to check out the lovely new Graj Mahal (Austin, TX) as part of an event with the Austin Food Blogger Alliance. I had never been to the old location, but I loved the patio at this new location! This patio is absolutely dreamy under a big tent draped with sheer pink fabric, beautifully adorned umbrellas and cushioned pink furniture (Pink people! Pink!). Oh and of course they had tasty Indian food. Can't wait to go back and sit on that patio hopefully before it gets too hot!


Oh and I celebrated 5 years of blogging! FIVE! That's huge!

Whew! I am exhausted just writing this! Wonder what April is going to bring?!?! How was your March?
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