Carrot Cake Energy Bites

Ingredients for carrot cake energy bites

I bought a bag of chia seeds a couple of weeks ago and attempted to make a chia “pudding”. I hated it. Not to be discouraged I scoured the web and Pinterest and found this recipe. The “carrot cake” flavor was appealing and so was the “energy bites” part…no baking required!

Below are all the ingredients blended up. I found the mix to be a little runny when I scooped it out to form balls so I stirred in a few handfuls of organic fiber cereal (I think I ended up using about a 1/2 cup but I didn’t measure).

carrot cake energy bites in the making

I liked the fiber cereal so much that that I ended up rolling the finished balls in it rather than chopping up nuts. If they had been rolled in pistachios they would have been prettier but they taste pretty good like this!

carrot cake energy bites

I put them into individual baggies in the fridge and guess what!? They are even better cold. My 10th grader ate one the next morning and liked it so much that he ate another one today.

packaged carrot cake energy bites

Carrot Cake Energy Bites

  • 1 cup pitted dates (for me this was 10 mejool dates)
  • 1/2 cup pistachios (I used pecans because it’s what I had)
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons flax seed meal
  • 1/4 cup pineapple (I used frozen)
  • 1/3 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey or agave syrup (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped pistachios (optional)
  • ½ cup organic fiber cereal (plus more for topping)

Method

  • In a food processor, process the dates, pineapple and carrot on high for 30-60 seconds until finely chopped.  Add the pistachios, chia seeds, flax seed, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, honey and salt and process for another 30 seconds. (My mix wasn’t very firm so I stirred in a heaping 1/2 cup organic fiber cereal)  Scooping a tablespoon (mine was 2-3 tablespoons) at a time form into balls and roll in extra pistachios if desired.  Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or store in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Recipe from Scaling Back Blog

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Rosemary and Fig Chicken Thighs

Rosemary and Fig Chicken Thighs

Dinner last night:

Warm Brussels Sprout Slaw with Mustard Seeds (minus the walnuts). I also used two teaspoons of powdered mustard instead of mustard seeds. Love! I could eat this everyday!

Then there was my Rosemary and Fig Chicken Thighs. I’ve made this chicken a few times before. Slightly sweet but with the kick of garlic and a slight heat from the red pepper flakes. The rosemary adds another layer of flavor that I think makes the dish taste like you spent hours in the kitchen!

Rosemary and Fig Chicken

Here’s what you need:

Ingredients for Rosemary and Fig Chicken Thighs

Rosemary and Fig Chicken Thighs

  • 1 package boneless, skinless chicken thighs (usually just over a pound)
  • 2 tablespoons chunky fig jam (I used a locally made jam I bought at a farmer’s market)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon (heaping) red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons rosemary, finely minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

Method

  • Place chicken in a medium bowl. In a separate small bowl mix the next 6 ingredients and 1 tablespoon of the oil. Combine the fig, rosemary mixture with the chicken, it should be enough sauce to just coat all of the chicken.
  • In a large saute pan heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the chicken mixture and cook the chicken so that you only turn it once and it sort of caramelizes on both sides.

Spiced Pumpkin Seed Granola

Apparently there was a pumpkin theft in my neighborhood yesterday which I was unaware of until I woke up this morning to an amusing string of emails from people in the neighborhood:

Jason (condo owner across the street from the town houses): A girl got out of a black car and took two pumpkins from the corner town house front stoop yesterday. What is this neighborhood coming to?

Erica (sent to a couple of the town house owners who could possibly have missing pumpkins): Did one of you have two pumpkins stolen? Just checking. I’m hoping that a lady was supposed to pick them up or something and did not just take them.

Terri (a town house owner): They were stolen from my front steps!

Laura (another town house owner): I wasn’t home last night. I’m not sure if mine are still there.  Elissa had a couple of pumpkins on her steps too.

Elissa (that’s me…also a town house owner): Laura your pumpkins and our pumpkins are thankfully safe and sound!

Funny!!? Well…I thought it was! My bedroom is on the 3rd floor and the first thing I did this morning after reading this email was to walk down to the first floor to check on the pumpkins and send my email reply.

This whole pumpkin situation was also great inspiration for this granola. I plan to enjoy this for myself and share it my sister Angela (who is going to have a baby ANY DAY NOW).

I did some granola research today and then adapted my own unique recipe. It smelled deliciously of spice and coconut while it was baking. It’s crispy and slightly sweet and really good! I can’t wait to try it with some frozen yogurt 🙂

Pumpkin Seed Granola

  • 6 cups rolled oats (not quick cooking or instant)
  • 2 cups sliced almonds
  • 2 cups raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup local honey
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup virgin coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 2 big pinches kosher salt
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup white raisins

Method

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In the largest mixing bowl you have add oats, almonds, pumpkin seeds and all the spices. Mix together well. In a separate small bowl mix together the coconut oil, honey and maple syrup. Add the wet ingredients to the oats mixture and using a rubber spatula fold it around and around the bowl until combined. (It think it’s better to fold the mixture instead of stirring it so that the almonds won’t break up too much)
  • Spread out mixture on a large baking sheet. Stir every 20 minutes so that it bakes evenly. Bake for about an hour.
  • Add the mixture back into a large mixing bowl and fold in dried cranberries and raisins. Divide into airtight containers for storage.

Mini Honey Almond Apple Crisps

These apples are supposed to be my afternoon snacks but instead all but one of them wanted to be made into yummy little apple crisps!

Today, while reading one of the blogs I follow, called A Couple Cooks, I ran across a recipe for Honey Almond Apple Crisps in Jars. The recipe had no sugar (honey instead), very little butter (compared to a lot of recipes for crisps) and an interesting addition…grated ginger.

I didn’t have any little jars but I had everything else. My plan was to bake it together in a small baking dish…but then I ended up in Target this afternoon and found these cute ramekins that were available in fall colors like red, orange and green and they were only $2.50 for 2! Score!

The recipe fit exactly into my new green ramekins!

I dug in with a glass of cold skim milk on the side. I couldn’t eat it all and I think the rest will be really good for breakfast in the morning 🙂

Randolph wants some too!

Mini Honey Almond Apple Crisps

From A Couple Cooks

  • 4 apples (about 4½ cups)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • ½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • â…“ cup honey
  • â…› teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup oats
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds
  • â…“ cup whole wheat flour
  • â…› teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted or very soft
  • 4 small canning jars (or ramekins!)

Method

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel, core, and slice the apples into small pieces. Peel the ginger; mince or grate 1 tablespoon. In a large saute pan, mix together apples, ginger, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, and a pinch of kosher salt. Stir in ½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar and â…“ cup honey. Saute until softened, about 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine ¾ cup oats, ¼ cup slivered almonds, â…“ cup whole wheat flour, â…› teaspoon kosher salt, ¼ cup honey, 2 tablespoons softened butter.
  • Divide the fruit mixture into 4 half-pint wide mouth canning jars or ramekins. Spread the crumble over each jar, pressing down on the crumbs to ensure that none are above the mouth of the jar.
  • Place the jars/ramekins on a baking sheet and bake 15 minutes until top is brown. Cool for 10 minutes and enjoy.

Caramelized Chicken with Lemons and Olives

Yesterday I reached a bit of a workout milestone. It’s the end of my 4th week of working out 5 days a week. I have been doing 45 minutes on the elliptical. Sometimes I do the intervals and sometimes the fat burn mode. I also mix it up by spending about 10 minutes of workout going backward (about 2-3 minutes every 10 minutes to mix it up). The total distance ends up being between 2.5 and 3 miles. For the past 2 years I haven’t been working out as much…maybe only once or twice a week in the gym…I felt like cleaning my 3 story townhouse and chasing after my 2 huge dogs was enough…but it’s not. I’m excited about my new routine!!

I got out my French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook to scan for recipes and was reminded of this recipe…specially earmarked on page 104. I have made it a dozen times and it’s so juicy, sweet, spicy, tangy good.

Caramelized Chicken with Lemons and Olives

Slightly Adapted from The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook

Ingredients

  • 2 lemons, washed, halved and quartered
  • 12 small green olives, pitted and cut in half (the ones I bought were stuffed with red peppers)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 (3-4 ounce) boneless, skinless, chicken thighs
  • freshly ground pepper

Method

  • In a bowl combine the lemons, olives,  red pepper flakes, honey lemon juice and olive oil and stir to combine. Add chicken, fresh ground pepper and stir to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour stirring once.
  • Heat a large non-stick skillet and spray with non-stick olive oil spray. Add the chicken mixture and spread out to make sure the chicken is in an even layer. Cook for 8-10 minutes on each side. Serve with the olives but discard the lemons. Wonderful with a side salad and/or your favorite flavored cous-cous (this is my favorite brand).

I have made this recipe multiple times for family and for dinner parties. It’s always a hit. Really you have to try it if you don’t believe me. What have you got to lose??? This is the first time I made it without adding the 2 extra tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet. This time I simply replaced it by just spraying the pan with non-stick spray and it worked beautifully.

Frothy Iced Coffee

I thought about wanting a cold coffee drink this afternoon and because I drank tea this morning there was plenty leftover cold coffee that my boyfriend didn’t drink. It was experimentation time!

I think the key to the yummy froth that this recipe created was letting it blend for about 2-3 minutes.

Frothy Iced Coffee

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups cold coffee
  • 1 cup 1% milk
  • 3-4 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, with the inside seeds scraped out
  • 2+ cups ice

Method

  • Place all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth and frothy, about 2-3 minutes. Serves 3.

I’m all out 😦

Black Forbidden Rice with Shrimp, Peaches and Snap Peas

“Always throw spilled salt over your left shoulder. Keep rosemary by your garden gate. Add pepper to your mashed potatoes. Plant roses and lavender, for luck. Fall in love whenever you can.” – Alice Hoffman

This quote made me feel so good when I read it this morning that I just had to re-post it! I ran across it on one of the blogs I recently subscribed to named A Pastry Affair.

I am a lucky girl. I met my wonderful, adventurous boyfriend Travis in 2007. In the summer of 2008 we moved in together and the next spring we bought the townhouse that we currently live in. In February 2010 I left my job, my career, from a company that I had worked at for just over 10 years with a primary purpose of returning to school to get my bachelors degree. The past 2 years I have been doing just that. I’m a full-time student at Virginia Commonwealth University, my major is Mass Communications with a focus in Public Relations. People ask me all the time what will I be doing when I’m done with school. Where are you going to work? Can you get your job back at Dominion? I love to respond truthfully…I don’t know yet and I’m not pressured to know. Travis just wants me to focus on school and be happy and enjoy the process. The spring semester ended about a month ago. So far my summer has involved starting this blog, planting, spring cleaning, reading, going to the pool, having friends over and helping my son Devin wrap up his first year in high school (his last day is tomorrow).  Like I said, I’m a lucky girl!

Reading this quote helped me to stop for a minute this morning and appreciate my “luck”. I even asked myself if my luck has anything to do with the fact that I grow lavender and roses? I grow rosemary…though it’s not by my front gate it’s on my roof. I certainly add pepper to mashed potatoes but I would never throw salt over my left shoulder because it only means that I would have to sweep it up later!! The thoughts caused me to giggle to myself as I sat with my cup of coffee and my laptop after returning home from driving my son to school.

I feel like I took a risk trying this recipe last night. Why? 1) Because I have never tried black forbidden rice (I’m a white rice or risotto kinda girl) and 2) even though I like fruit mixed with savory dishes, I thought the peaches would be a little too sweet AND I figured Devin and Travis would be like, “What? You ruined our shrimp by putting weird looking rice and fruit on it?”. But I got lucky. This recipe was divine! It was a hit! I literally can’t wait to share it with guests when I make it again. It has sweet notes from the honey and peaches but the vinegar and oil in the dressing balance it all out. The snap peas add a nice crunch (if you make this be sure to not overcook them! When they get bright green they are done.) Here are the snap peas trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces.

The shrimp I used were large, fresh shrimp that were on sale at Fresh Market this week. I  peeled and deveined them before cooking. The rice, peaches and snow peas paired perfectly with the seafood!

The only teeny-tiny change I made to Giada’s recipe was to replace the fresh grated ginger with a heaping teaspoonful of jarred grated ginger from The Ginger People. It keeps in the fridge for months and it’s so super easy to use in recipes! This recipe is not available online and is taken directly from Giada’s new cookbook, Weeknight’s With Giada.

Black Forbidden Rice with Shrimp, Peaches and Snap Peas

From Giada De Laurentiis

Ingredients

  • 2 cups black forbidden rice
  • 1 (1 1/2 inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined large shrimp
  • 2 1/2 cups (8 ounces) sugar snap peas, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 peaches, stones removed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

Method

  • In a medium saucepan, bring 3 1/2 cups water, the rice, ginger and 2 teaspoons salt to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat, cover the pan, and simmer until the rice is tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.  Fluff with a fork and transfer to a large serving bowl.
  • Meanwhile in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the grapeseed oil over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the shrimp are cooked through and opaque, 4-5 minutes. Remove the shrimp and set aside to cool. Using paper towels, wipe the pan dry.
  • In the same pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the snow peas and cook, stirring frequently, until slightly soft, about 2 minutes. Add the peaches and cook for another 2 minutes (reduce the to 1 minute if your peaches are very ripe). Transfer the peas and peaches to the serving bowl.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, the remaining 1/4 cup oil, honey and soy sauce until smooth. Pour the dressing over the rice mixture. Add shrimp and toss well. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Here’s an article from CNN on the health benefits of black rice.