Food blog and weekly menu planning

Month: December 2017

Quinoa Sweet Potato Cakes

Quinoa Sweet Potato Cakes

Quinoa Sweet Potato Cakes make a perfect, healthy weeknight meal. They’re easy to make and so delicious. Just serve them with salad or your favorite veggies!

Gingersnap Smoothie

Gingersnap Smoothie

This seasonal, fresh and healthy Gingersnap Smoothie is so delicious, you’ll think it’s dessert. Feel free to enjoy it as a tasty breakfast on the go.

My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

All my cookie lover’s out there, this recipe is for you!

You’re welcome.

I’m sharing my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe of all time. If you’re on the look out for a new recipe to try or just haven’t yet found your all-time favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, then you are in luck today. I tested several recipes searching for the right combination of ingredients to make a chewy, slightly salty and totally delicious chocolate chip cookie. I feel pretty confident about the one I’ve created, so take out your stand mixer and let’s get baking!

We all need to have a chocolate chip cookie recipe because, in my opinion, it’s the most loved traditional cookie. It never goes out of style, am I right? Yes, there are many variations, but you really need a staple chocolate chip cookie recipe to make for holidays, birthdays, or for a random baking session when the urge strikes. This one is SO soft, has a subtle butterscotch flavor, and is filled with heavenly chocolate chips. When they come out of the oven all warm and gooey, I can hardly contain my excitement! Needless to say, I can’t resist eating one right then and there, with a glass of milk, of course.

My husband was heavily involved in the taste testing of these cookies. This is his favorite cookie, so he was highly invested in the end product. He was happy to taste batch after batch until we got the “just right” cookie. Actually, he’s a little bummed that we’ve figured it out because his cookie consumption was wayyyy above normal for a few weeks.

I didn’t try to do any healthy substitutions in this recipe. I wanted to create a go-to cookie for when you’re seeking an indulgent treat. Besides, if you’re going to eat a cookie, it better be worth every chewy delicious bite. So you’ll see things like butter and refined sugar in this recipe, which I don’t often use when cooking. It’s all about balance, but there is definitely a time and place for this classic.

A few things to remember:

Use soft, room temperature butter, because it produces a fluffier cookie than melted butter. I tried both ways, both taste great, but I like the cookie to have a little lift to it.

I used chocolate chips AND chocolate chunks from a dark chocolate bar. Just chop 1/2 cup of chocolate in varying sizes to give the cookie interesting texture. I usually don’t cut them any larger than 1/4 in chunks. Feel free to add in all the little chocolate shavings too!

Do not skip refrigerating the cookie dough! You need to chill the dough for at least an hour (So annoying, I know!). Chilling the dough limits the spread and results in a fluffier/thicker cookie. More importantly, when you refrigerate the dough it yields a more intensely flavored cookie. If you’re the patient type, you could try to chill overnight. For me, I’m not that patient. A girl whats a cookie when a girl wants a cookie! So whip up the dough, cover and chill it for an hour and go about making other cookies, cleaning up, or just kick up your feet to watch Netflix for a bit.

Lastly, resist the urge to leave these cookies in the oven too long. Over-baking is thee BIGGEST  mistake when baking these cookies. They will continue to bake when you remove them from the oven so as soon as the top starts to get just a little bit brown, take them out! If not, you’ll end up with a crispy cookie, not a chewy one. Mine needed 12 minutes, exactly.

If you’re a food nerd like me and want to learn more about the science behind making a perfect cookie. Read this article from serious eats. It’s super interesting! I got a lot inspiration for my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe for their recipe.

Brownie Batter Hummus

Brownie Batter Hummus

Brownie Batter Hummus is a rich, chocolate, creamy dessert that you can indulge in guilt-free! Enjoy it with fruit or cinnamon and sugar pita chips.

Lemon, Mushroom and Brussels Sprouts Pasta

Lemon, Mushroom and Brussels Sprouts Pasta

This lemon, mushroom and Brussels Sprouts pasta recipe is a favorite in our house. Loaded with amazing veggies and so easy to make.

7 Tips for Staying Healthy this Holiday Season

7 Tips for Staying Healthy this Holiday Season

Hi everyone! Today, I am bringing you something a little different. You probably don’t need one more cookie recipe, right? If you do, you can check out my pinterest board for that. But today, I’d rather share some positive thoughts and tips for staying healthy this holiday season. December is here. That means a lot of extra doing, wrapping, buying, giving, traveling, laughing, eating, drinking, and less time sleeping, exercising, and eating well. 

The holidays can be the hardest time to staying on track. It’s so much more difficult to make healthy food choices with all of the parties, celebrations, and family time.  Don’t get me wrong – I am not saying that you shouldn’t indulge – you’re human! I’m human too. I’ll be eating cookies and drinking fun holiday beverages. However, I won’t be overdoing it. I’ll stick to my exercise routine. And I’ll drink lots and lots of water! Also, I’m saying these things out loud to myself so they actually happen.  Hopefully this strategy helps. I’ll report back…

Here are my 7 tips for staying healthy this holiday season:

water poured into glass

  1. Make sure to drink plenty of water.  As with any holiday, drinks and desserts are in full force. That means it is really important to drink lots of water too. You need to flush out all the extra sugar! Try starting your day with a full glass of warm water and lemon juice. It’s great for your digestion. I do this daily and here’s why. I also carry my handy Hydroflask with me everywhere as a reminder to drink up! And it’s pretty too. If you’re looking for a new water bottle, I have this one in Mint. It’s amazing and keeps my drink cold ALL DAY LONG.Exercising
  2. Sweat and move daily! Knowing that you’ll be eating the extra goodies means you need to KEEP exercising. Make a schedule and stick to it. I find it easiest to work out in the morning around holidays. Rise and shine people – you’ll feel better all day long if you do. I’d encourage you to get in at least 30 minutes of exercise daily. Try doing some activities with family and friends, take walks, or play active games. We travel for Christmas, so I’ve already planned to join one of my BFF’s for a fun morning bootcamp when I am at my parents. I kid you not, I’m excited about it. Mainly because I get to work out with a positive and awesome best friend, so it’s really motivating.
  3. Have a plan. For the most part, we know what foods will be on the table for the holidays. I don’t know about your family, but mine really doesn’t stray from tradition.  Think in advance about the food you don’t want to skip and those you can skip. For example, I can easily skip out on the cream cheese bars that my mom will make, but I won’t miss her coffee cake – it’s a must! It helps to think about this in advance. If you commit ahead of time, then you’re more likely to stick to the plan.holiday relaxing
  4. Enjoy some down time: After the madness of the holidays, we do need time to recharge. Yoga, stretching, massages, and practicing mindfulness are all ways to get reconnected with yourself and get focused on your goals for 2018.  Check out this link for some simple mindfulness exercises you can do today.

    The best no bake energy bites
    The best no bake energy bites
  5. If you’re a traveler like me, make sure you pack healthy snacks for the car. Try making some energy bites. They are delicious and packed full of healthy fats to keep you feeling satisfied.
  6. If you’re cooking for a crowd, try making this amazing pumpkin chili or these make-ahead chicken enchiladas. Give your family some healthy and delicious meals that they’ll love. Maybe instead of a 2 or 3 cookie breakfast try making a wholesome frittata recipe.
  7. MOST IMPORTANTLY, don’t beat yourself up. If you do stray from the plan, guilt isn’t an option. Get back up and start  fresh the next day. Life is about balance and enjoyment. Do what makes you feel good and you’ll be happier in the end. Life isn’t worth living if you can’t enjoy your time with family and loved ones…or the occasional cookie and cocktail.

We hope you find these ideas helpful.  Enjoy this special time with loved ones and take time to reflect on your life, what you’re thankful for, and what you’re looking forward to in the year ahead.

 

I have chosen to be happy because it is good for my health. -Voltaire

Happy Holidays!

 

Mediterranean Quinoa Zucchini Boats

Mediterranean Quinoa Zucchini Boats

Mediterranean quinoa zucchini boats are packed full of flavor and so many healthy ingredients. You’ll love all that this tasty recipe has to offer!