caramelized brussel sprouts with a honey balsamic drizzle

 

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with sausage for optional meatiness

I sort of forgot about Brussels sprouts until I saw a beautiful photo of a side dish in this fall’s Food & Drink (LCBO magazine).  Inspired, I purchased some this weekend and remembered how much I like them.  They are really easy to prep and take on flavours quite well, making them really tasty with this super easy balsamic honey drizzle.  Be sure to let them brown up in the pan to get a nutty sweet flavour out of them!

I have to admit they were not a hit with either piepie or boss (now ages 4 and 2) – but they did give it a try (mommy rules: you must try everything at least once).  My husband really liked it though! It went well with our Sunday local craft beers:)

what you need:

  • ~1lb Brussel sprouts
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • salt and pepper
  • cooking oil (I used avocado oil) & olive oil
  • optional* 2 honey garlic sausages (or if you like a kick, use spicy Italian)

what to do:

  1. In a large pot bring some water to a boil.
  2. Wash Brussel sprouts and then trim off the hard bottoms, then cut them in half lengthwise.
  3. Roughly chop garlic and set aside.  If you are using sausage, cut it up into small chunks.
  4. Place Brussel sprouts in boiling water and cook for about 2 minutes, they will turn bright green and soften slightly (but don’t leave them for too long, no one likes mushy Brussel sprouts!).
  5. Drain Brussel sprouts and set them aside in a bowl.
  6. *skip this step if you are not using sausage – In a frying pan, heat up 1 tsp cooking oil and add sausage pieces, browning them on all sides and making sure to cook through. Remove sausage from heat and set aside. Use the same pan for next step.
  7. Add about 1/2 tbsp cooking oil to a large frying pan on medium heat and add half the garlic, sautéing for about 20 seconds.  Add half of your Brussel sprouts cut side down, allowing them to brown and caramelize, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from pan and repeat this process with the remaining garlic and Brussel sprouts.
  8. Add everything back into the pan for a final sauté, season with salt and pepper, about 1 minute, tossing everything to mix. Remove and place onto your serving platter.
  9. In the same pan on medium low, add 1 tsp olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and honey. It will bubble and reduce a little bit – about 20 seconds – then drizzle onto your Brussel sprouts. Serve hot. Enjoy!

 

school safe energy bites

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a fun surprise in the middle

My last few posts look the same don’t they…I definitely still have an obsession with dates but I have been baking and cooking with other things too haha!  Now that pie-pie has started school, I am hoping to have more time to post more recipes regularly! Sorry for the lack of posts but I am pretty good at keeping instagram up to date since it’s super fast and easy:)

So my previous energy bites had lots of nuts in them…I had to post this one because so many of my friends are now mommies who need to pack school safe snacks! It’s tough nowadays, no nuts for sure, and in some cases sometimes no eggs, no seeds, no chickpeas (I have heard this it’s true!). Previously I had used rice crispies for crunch, but this time we didn’t have any at home.  There was some left over cornpops from our cottage vacation two weeks ago, so I thought it might be fun to hide one cornpop in the middle of the date ball. It’s like a little treat within a treat:).

This recipe is nut & dairy free.

what you need:

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 generous cups of pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt (if your seeds are not salted)
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • cornpops

what to do:

  1. Use a food processor or blender to grind your seeds (not too fine – or you’ll make seed butter!).
  2. In a food processor, buzz up the dates until they form a paste / giant ball shape that is whipping around your food processor.
  3. In a pot over medium heat, melt coconut oil and then add the pureed dates to soften them. Add cinnamon and salt. Mash with a large fork to combine evenly.
  4. Remove from heat and add vanilla and seeds. Use the fork again to mix evenly.
  5. Wet your hands slightly with cold water (this will prevent the mixture from sticking to your hands). Use a spoon to scoop up about a golf ball size of date mixture, place a corn pop in the middle and roll into a ball.
  6. Store in airtight container for up to 1 week. It will keep even longer in the fridge. Enjoy!

date balls (energy bites!)

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So I am officially a huge date fan now and remember that huge bag of pressed dates I had kicking around in the pantry?…Well it is gone and I had to buy pitted dates this time (I couldn’t find the pressed ones) and the 1kg container is at it’s half life already!

These are very similar to the previous post crispy oat, nut & date bars but they have a hint of peanut butter in them (which means less butter butter!), less sugar and lots of almond & pumpkin seed goodness.  Definitely experiment your favourite seeds & nuts – and the measurements don’t have to be exact but be careful to add them slowly to the date mixture because the important part is to be sure there is enough date ratio so the ball holds together well. These are a household favourite now and my kids just love them! They are a great snack to keep in your purse (they snacked on them this morning at the grocery store) with minimal mess!

*If your seeds and/or nuts are salted – you don’t need to add salt to the recipe.

what you need (give or take!):

  • 1 1/4 cup pitted dates
  • 3/4 cup whole almonds
  • 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup rice crispy cereal
  • 2 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp brown sugar (or coconut sugar)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 small pinch of salt

what to do:

  1. In a food processor, pulse almonds until quite fine (you can keep it chunkier but it tends to stick better in the ball if it’s smaller). Remove.
  2. In the same processor, pulse pumpkin seeds. Add to almond mixture and combine.
  3. In the same processor, pulse the dates until it forms a ball going around and around – paste like.
  4. In a small pot on medium low, add dates, butter, peanut butter, cinnamon, salt and brown sugar – use a firm spatula or large fork to mash everything together, until evenly combined – then turn off the heat. Add vanilla and stir.
  5. Add about 3/4 of the seed and nut mixture to the date mixture – stir to combine – if it’s still quite sticky and date dominant – add the rest. Add the rice crispies as well – stir and either form balls or press into a 9×9″ square pan for squares.

*if you are making balls – grease your fingertips a little bit with vegetable oil or butter so that they don’t stick to you.

*if you are making squares – make sure they are completely cooled before you slice. a knife dipped in hot water will make the slicing easier.

ENJOY!

crispy oat, nut & date bars

 

I have had a huge bag of pressed dates sitting in my pantry since my craze with baking date filled oatmeal cookies. I had a craving for the sweetness of dates but didn’t have the time commitment today to make the cookies – so pie pie and I experimented in the kitchen a little today while the boss was napping…and oh man these are actually amazing. They are so tasty I think if you had someone taste them blindfolded they might even think there is some sort of chocolate in there.  Even as we were tasting them, I asked pie pie if she thought we made junk food or good food…and she looked at me with a cute sheepish smile and replied “junk food” and I reviewed our ingredients again with her and she said…”good food??!”.  It is packed with nuts, dates, some oats and rice crispies, and for richness yes there is butter & brown sugar…but not lots.  My husband came home from work and popped one into his mouth and then said “mmm..what is this? is it bad for you?” and pie pie happily told him “no! it’s good food!” hahaha, after which he proceeded to eat a few more. If you or your family are like us (sweet tooths!) then this recipe is a must try!  You could certainly eliminate the brown sugar too if you prefer, as the dates are quite sweet.

Oh – and just realized – they are gluten free, for those who can’t eat wheat!

I also recommend making a double batch because these will go fast…

prep: 10 min     cook: 5 min     yield: 9 squares

what you need:

  • 1 cup pressed dates
  • 1 cup crushed mixed nuts (we used unsalted Kirkland brand of mixed nuts)
  • 3 tbsp (not packed) brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
  • 3/4 cup rice crispy cereal
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • small pinch of salt

what to do:

  1. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, combine dates, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter.
  2. Crush nuts in a bag with a rolling pin (perfect task for your kids!)
  3. Once butter is melted and dates are loosened, remove from heat and mix with a fork to work butter and sugar into the dates.
  4. Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix using fork or spatula, until everything seems evenly combined.
  5. Press firmly into a 9×9″ pan and allow to cool completely before cutting into squares and storing in an airtight container. Instead of squares you could roll them into balls (also a fun task for kids) – don’t be scared to press them in your hands firmly to make sure they stay together in a ball form. Enjoy!

pie pie, my lil’ kitchen helper

boss woke up from her nap to a healthy fun snack!

 

buying day old greens!

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can’t beat 3 bunches for $2! and it’s organic.

At the local grocery store where I shop, there’s always produce bundled up in plastic wrap that is just a little unattractive…but there is absolutely nothing wrong with it! It’s price is super attractive though ($2 for 3 bunches of organic kale! compared to regular $2.99 or so for 1 bunch) and here’s the trick to revive and make the greens look attractive and appetizing again!

Remove greens (for example, kale, swiss chard, collard greens) from plastic wrap and remove leafy part from stems. The easiest way to do this is to hold the bottom of the stem and run your other hand up to remove the leafy green parts.

Fill big bowls with cold water and submerge leafy greens.  Allow them to sit for 15 minutes or so. This will rehydrate them, making them full and leafy again and not so sad and wilted. Place greens in a salad spinner to spin off excess water before storing in your fridge. If you saved your clamshells – this is a perfect time to use them! Line them will paper towel and place leafy greens in, then close tightly.  Now they are ready for you to use (clean and washed!) when you prepare a meal:)

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3 bunches of organic kale, revived, washed, and ready to go!

greens for breakfast

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over easy egg over sautéed kale 

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love a runny egg over anything!

Over Easter we were incredibly lucky to have spent the weekend in California’s Disneyland with my parents!  What a treat it was for all of us – literally in every sense.  Though it’s fun to eat out and enjoy things like decadent pastries for breakfast, we all came home feeling like we needed more greens and veggies.  This week I am challenging myself to eat more greens (to make up for my lack of consuming them in Disneyland!) and it seemed fitting to start the day right.  Sometimes it seems weird to have your coffee alongside veggies but this morning I actually quite enjoyed my sautéed kale with a runny egg on top, instead of a piece of toast and fried egg.  Super filling, easy, nutritious, and very yummy.  Feel like your morning is too rushed to prep a breakfast like this? Plan ahead and make sure you wash and tear up your kale the night before so it’s ready to go in the morning!

what you need:

  • 2 large handfuls of washed and roughly torn kale
  • 1 large egg
  • salt & pepper
  • cooking oil (I use grapeseed oil)

what to do:

  1. In a nonstick pan, add 1 tsp oil on medium heat.
  2. Add kale and season lightly with salt and pepper – cover with a lid for 1 minute – just so it steams and softens.
  3. Remove lid and toss/stir, to cook all edges of the kale.
  4. Load up your kale onto a plate – then fry up an egg any style you like (my favourite is over easy…love the creamy yolk) – ENJOY!
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piepie, minnie mouse, & the boss