Clean Eating for the New Year

by kristen massad on January 2, 2015

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As we ring in the New Year, many of us look for a new start, whether it’s de-cluttering the house or adopting a healthier lifestyle. You can achieve both by cleaning out your pantry and swapping processed junk for whole foods. Here are five ingredients to kick-start a year of clean eating.

1. Almond flour
If you are taking a break from grains or just want a replacement every now and then, almond flour is the perfect substitute for traditional flour. It adds good nutrients and a mild nut flavor to your recipe.

2. Whole almonds
If almond flour is good for you, so is its source. Keep the pantry stocked with whole, unsalted almonds for a variety of protein-packed recipes.

3. Coconut oil
Coconut oil replaces any high-heat cooking oil and has many health benefits. This oil is one of the most versatile and can be used in baking as a dairy-free butter replacement.

4. Coconut flour
Used in small amounts but full of fiber, protein and healthy fat, coconut flour is a perfect substitute for wheat flours.

5. Coconut milk
Creamy and full of flavor, coconut milk can be added to smoothies, soups and sauces. It also can replace milk or cream in baking. This ingredient is one of the best to have in your pantry.

6. Coconut sugar
A simple and easy baking substitute, coconut sugar looks more like brown sugar but can replace all sugar for baking. It adds an earthy flavor boost to any dessert that you want to lighten up.

 

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Oatmeal Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

by kristen massad on December 15, 2014

SONY DSCIt is definitely the holiday season and our home has been filled with lots of sweets!  I have made and tasted more cookies this year, and kind of loving it.

For my 2nd year to be involved in The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, I was excited to share these yummy oatmeal chocolate cranberry cookies.  Although I have been a part of several cookie exchanges this year, this one is very special; we got to share our cookies with three fellow food bloggers and most importantly it benefits a great cause, Cookies for Kids Cancer.  

With so many cookies to choose from, I chose a one of my favorite classic oatmeal cookies, but added a holiday twist.  With the addition of cranberries, chocolate chunk, pistachios and a white chocolate drizzle, I may never go back to the original recipe.  

Just as excited as I was to share my cookies and recipe with three bloggers, I loved receiving cookies from the talented ladies behind Yumology and  Pint Sized Baker.  These ladies made this cookie exchange very special with incredible cookies and cute packaging to go along with them.  Check out their cookie recipes as well as many others at Yumology and Pint Sized Baker.SONY DSCSONY DSC

Oatmeal Chocolate Cranberry Cookie
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Ingredients
1 cup butter, unsalted (2 sticks)
2 cus brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups quick oats
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chocolate chunks
1/2 cup pistachios, chopped (optional topping)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips, melted (optional topping)
Instructions
preheat oven to 350 degrees F
cream butter and brown sugar
add in eggs (one at a time) and vanilla extract
combine flour, baking soda, salt and oats and add to butter mixture
mix until all ingredients are combined
using a spatula, fold in dried cranberries and chocolate chunks
scoop 1 ounce cookie dough balls and place onto parchment lined pan and bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are golden brown
once cookies are cooled, drizzle each cookie with melted white chocolate and chopped pistachios (optional)
store in an airtight container
Enjoy!!!
INK foods : In Nanny's Kitchen http://inkfoods.com/

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Eight Edible Gifts for the Holidays

by kristen massad on November 28, 2014

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With the hustle and bustle that goes on during the holidays, I love the idea of edible gifting. This is an inexpensive way to share a favorite recipe or family tradition with the ones you love. Whether it is homemade or purchased at your favorite neighborhood store, keep it simple and make something special with creative packaging.

 1. Homemade vanilla extract

One of the most popular ingredients in baking, homemade vanilla extract is a perfect holiday gift. Choose your favorite alcohol: vodka, rum, or bourbon along with whole vanilla beans. Give the extract at least one month to infuse before packaging and gifting for your favorite baker.

 2. Chocolate Peppermint Caramel Corn

Caramel corn is a classic but can only get better when you add a drizzle of white and dark chocolate, and a sprinkle of peppermint. It will keep you coming back for another bite — the perfect party snack or gift.

 3. Nut and Dried Fruit Boxes

A simple and elegant gift mixed with a variety of dried fruit and nuts, this is a great gift without getting your hands dirty in the kitchen. Check out your local gourmet market and find an assortment of sweet, spicy, and chocolate- or candy-coated nuts and dried fruit. Packaged in a basket or tray, this pairs perfectly with a bottle of wine.

 4. S’mores Kit

Cold weather, burning fireplaces and roasted marshmallows are the best memories of a busy holiday. Share the love with adults or kids by gifting an adorable S’mores kit. Clear acrylic boxes, graham crackers, large marshmallows and chocolate bars are all you need to create this sweet package from the craft blog, Twig & Thistle.  

 5. Seasonal Flavored Futter

Edible gifting is not always sweet. Combine your favorite fresh herbs or citrus zest with room temperature butter. Transfer the chilled log of flavored butter into a layer of plastic wrap and onto parchment paper, rolling it up and tying the ends with kitchen twine or jute. It’s a great foodie gift from gourmet food blog, The Fromagette.

 6. Herb Salt

Use any dried herbs you have in your kitchen cabinet for this gift idea from The Pretty Blog. Herb salt can be made well in advance with rosemary, oregano, thyme, parsley or basil mixed with sea salt for a great addition to any meat, fish or vegetable dish.

 7. Cookie Gift Box

If you need the perfect gift for office mates, this is it: a selection of petit cookies sectioned off in small ornament boxes wrapped in cellophane. The recipe from Sweet Paul Magazine requires no baking.

8. Rosemary Roasted Almonds

For this recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod, whole almonds are seasoned with fresh rosemary, a dash of chili powder, and salt, and then roasted in the oven, filling your home with an amazing aroma. The almonds are a great source of protein, packed with flavor, to balance all the sweets being consumed this month.

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Homemade Vanilla Extract

by kristen massad on November 20, 2014

SONY DSCSONY DSCIt SONY DSCis so hard to believe that we November is flying by us and we will soon be in the full swing of holiday gifting.  Some how, this year I am feeling more prepared than ever and I actually have a good amount of my Christmas shopping done.  The edible gifts will be my last minute items and these are the most fun to make and give.  Although we have some time and we don’t want the holidays to sneak by us, there is one recipe you will need to start now in order to have ready by Christmas.  

Homemade vanilla extract is one of the most simple recipes and probably the most used ingredient in holiday baking.  I use vanilla extract in almost every sweet item I make.  It adds such a subtle flavor but would be missed if it was not in your recipe.  

Before you make your own vanilla extract, there are a few items you will need to decide: the variety of vanilla bean and your choice of alcohol.

Vanilla Bean Options:
Bourbon
Madagascar*
Tahitian
Mexican

Alcohol Options:
Vodka*
Rum
Bourbon
Brandy

*My selections for this Vanilla Extract Recipe

What you need:

3-4 Vanilla Beans 
8 Ounces Alcohol
12 ounce Large Glass Jar for Infusing
2-4 ounce Glass Bottles for Packaging
Small Funnel
Coffee Filters (Optional)
Vanilla Extract Bottle Labels 

Instructions:

1. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise

2. Place the vanilla beans in a glass jar and cover with alcohol, make sure the are completely covered and jar is sealed

3. Place the jars in a cool and dark area for at least one month (for a stronger flavor, keep infusing them for longer)

4. Once the extract is ready, remove the beans and strain the seeds out (optional: leave the seeds if you like the vanilla bean flakes)

5. Using your mini funnel, pour extract into 4 ounce glass jars, seal and decorate with label and twine

Note: This recipe only makes 2 4 ounce jars, so add more ingredients if you have more gifts to give!

Give the gift of food!

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Pumpkin Ginger Spice Bundt

by kristen massad on November 3, 2014

SONY DSCAs we enter into November (my favorite month of the year…My birthday Month!) I am still feeling the love for pumpkin…I don’t think that ever goes away.  I have officially made this bundt cake to many times, but my girls love it, my husband loves it and it is the perfect cake to bring to someones house or an office to celebrate fall!  It has a moist texture, strong flavors of cinnamon and ginger and the creamy cream cheese glaze, a great breakfast, snack or dessert!SONY DSC

With a little batter left over, it made the perfect mini muffins tossed in cinnamon sugar. I hope you enjoy and Happy November!SONY DSCSONY DSC

Pumpkin Ginger Spice Bundt
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Ingredients
3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2/3 cup water
1 can (15oz) pumpkin puree
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
Instructions
1. In a large mixing bowl combine sugar, oil and eggs; beat until smooth
2. Add water to egg mixture
3. Add in pumpkin puree, ginger, cinnamon and allspice
4. Combine flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder in a bowl
5. Add dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix until combined
6. Pour batter into a bundt pan 3/4 full (depending on the size of your pan there might be a little batter remaining that will make the perfect mini muffins!)
7. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45-55 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean
8. Allow the cake to stick for 10 minutes before removing it from the pan
8. Once the cake is cooled, dust with powdered sugar or drizzle with cream cheese glaze (see recipe below)
9. Serve or store in an airtight container
INK foods : In Nanny's Kitchen http://inkfoods.com/
Spiced Cream Cheese Glaze
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Ingredients
4 ounce cream cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 tbsp milk, plus more if needed
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of ginger
Instructions
1. cream together the cream cheese and powdered sugar until all lumps are gone
2. add in milk until you have the desired texture
3. add in ground cinnamon and ginger
4. drizzle over bundt cake
INK foods : In Nanny's Kitchen http://inkfoods.com/
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