Thursday, January 31, 2013

Resolutions vs. Small Changes

A lot of people I know made New Years resolutions and have already abandoned them.  I read that 60% of the people that make resolutions are regarding health, these are the top four:  lose weight, quit drinking, exercise more, and quit smoking.  I think sometimes resolutions set you up to fail because it's an all or nothing mentality.  I'd rather strive for progress instead of perfection.

So,  in an attempt to keep it real and in striving for progress, I thought I'd share a couple of things I've been keeping track of.  For January, I had a total of 16 workouts.  Sixteen out of 31 days was not my goal, but considering I didn't do anything until the 7th due to illness (either I was sick or had a sickie at home) 16 out of 25 is okay.

Another small change I wanted to make was to juice more, not every day because sometimes even that can sometimes cause stress.  My goal was to make juice (primarily vegetable) every other day, that hasn't happened either but hey I've done it 3-4 times a week, so I'm going with this as a win.  I was taking one of Christian's friends home the other day and we were talking about diet.  Christian proceeded to tell him how nasty my vegetable juice is but then said "dude, you feel so good after drinking it!"  Another win.

Another goal of mine was to get outside and enjoy beauty more, so far I haven't done that, but I surely hope you have.

I hope you find beauty all around you....ciao.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Recipe of the week: Triple Layer Brownies

These are by far the most decadent thing I make, therefore I don't make them very often.  I've been making this for several years now, and over time have modified the recipe a bit.  

The original recipe called for unsalted butter in the brownie layer, but as you may recall, I'm a big fan of the sweet and salty thing, I use regular butter.  If you use unsalted, you'll need to add 1/4 tsp of salt.  Since there is only 1 cup of flour you could easily make these gluten free by using almond or coconut flour, or whatever else you might use.  I also reduced the amount of unsweetened chocolate in the glaze to just 2 oz instead of 4.  (You can use the 4 oz if you like, or even try semi sweet.) 

I made these today for my oldest daughter's 21st birthday.  We will probably have them with some vanilla bean ice cream, if I get to the store.  These also go well with coffee or an after dinner coffee cocktail.  Cut them into small pieces, I'm often told these are too rich....which there is no such thing, in my book, haha!   Let me know what you think....even though these aren't healthy.  A Votre Sante!

Triple Layer Brownies


1 cup of butter + 3 Tbsp
8 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup flour
3 tsp vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half

For the 1st layer:
(Preheat oven to 300 degrees)

Melt together (in a double boiler or the microwave):
1/2 cup butter
6 oz unsweetened chocolate, set aside and let cool slightly

Beat together for 8 minutes (you want this fluffy) on medium-med/high speed:
2 cups sugar
4 eggs

Fold chocolate mixture into egg mixture.  Add by folding 1 cup of flour and 1 tsp vanilla.  Bake in a greased 9x13 pan for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool completely before frosting.  (You can always do this the night before.)

Melt until a caramel color, approximately 7-8 minutes on medium low heat:
1/2 cup butter

Beat the butter with 2 cups powdered sugar, 1/4 heavy cream and the remaining 2 tsp of vanilla.  Frost brownies while the frosting is still warm then cool to room temperature.

2 oz unsweetened chocolate
3 Tbsp butter

Melt together and pour over frosting.  You can serve them as is or cold.  I usually serve them cold, they're a little easier to cut when cold.  They freeze nicely.  Enjoy with ice cream, coffee, or a coffee cocktail!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Recipe of the week: Chicken Tortilla Soup

I love tortilla soup and have for years, I think the first time I had it I was in high school and I've been trying to perfect the recipe ever since.  You can very easily make this vegan, which I sometimes do for my husband....instead of the chicken I will use more beans and more corn (1 can of kidney beans, 1 can of pinto beans, and the entire bag of corn and obviously vegetable broth).  I use Trader Joe's taco seasoning because there's no MSG or junk in it.  I have a friend who hates beans so she uses zucchini and yellow squash instead, if you want to do that, you just need to add them towards end so they don't get mushy.  Let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
32oz/1qt chicken or vegetable broth
1 onion diced
2 Tbsp olive oil
3-4 carrots chopped
2 cloves of garlic minced
2-3 small zucchini chopped
1 can black beans
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 bag of frozen corn
1/2 package taco seasoning
1 tsp sugar (optional)
1 tsp salt
1/4-1/2 bunch cilantro

sour cream
tortilla chips

Cut chicken into small pieces. In a large soup pot, saute with onion, carrots, and garlic until almost done.  Add broth, tomatoes, black beans, taco seasoning, salt, sugar, pepper, and corn.  Bring to a boil and turn down to very low, after about 10 minutes and add zucchini and cilantro.  Simmer for about 20 minutes, serve with your choice of toppings.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Recipe of the week: Homemade Salted Caramel Mocha

I'm a fan of most things sweet and salty.  Dark chocolate covered pretzels, dark chocolate with sea salt, salted caramel hot chocolate, fleur de sel caramel, kettle get the picture.  I'm sure it goes back to going to the drive in when I was a kid and having popcorn and Milk-duds.  My tastes are a little more sophisticated now, I mostly eat dark chocolate, the darker the better.

I don't go out for coffee very often but when I do I like the salted caramel mocha from Starbucks, I don't however like the calories or how much sugar is in it (47 grams in a tall!), even if you only do 1 pump of each flavor it's still a lot of sugar.  I've made this several times, without the coffee, you've salted caramel hot cocoa, which my girls love.  This is for one serving, when I'm making more I just double or triple everything.  Start out with a little bit of sugar and salt and adjust to your taste, you might like it saltier or sweeter.  Sometimes instead of adding more sugar I'll use some stevia once I've poured in the coffee.  You don't have to use sugar, you could use maple syrup or agave.  You can also use your choice of milk, I've made it with 2% and I've made it with almond milk, both were delicious.  Let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!

Salted Caramel Mocha

1/2 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
2-4 tsp sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
dash of salt

Brew your coffee as you normally would.  In a sauce pan melt butter, add vanilla, stir with a whisk and add sugar.  Once combined add milk and dash of salt.  Add cocoa and whisk until completely combined, taste and adjust salt and sugar.  Pour into mug, add coffee and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Recipe of the week: Balsamic Roasted Beets

I haven't made a new recipe in a while because I've been busy.  With football season going until December 15th and working a lot during the holidays I just haven't had the time.  I even baked cookies from a mix for Santa on Christmas Eve!  (Hey it was after 8pm, who wants to make cookie dough at that hour?!)  The other day I made these beets and they were a hit, easy and only 5 ingredients.  You could definitely double or triple this easily but I only had the 2 beets, so I used what I had.  Let me know what you think.  A Vorte Sante!

2 large beets halved and sliced
2 Tbsp butter
2-3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400.  Slice beets that you've rinsed, removed the tops of and halved (save the tops for juicing).  You'll need an oven proof pan for this.  In your pan, melt your butter on the stove, then add your beets and 2 Tbsp of the vinegar, I used about 1/2 tsp salt and a few turns of my pepper mill.  Stir and place in your preheated oven.  Bake until the beets are tender with a fork or knife.  Mine took about 6 minutes.  Remove from the oven and add another splash of balsamic vinegar.  Serve warm.  Enjoy.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Power, Love, and a Sound Mind

I've been pondering this post for a couple of weeks and am just now having the time to sit down and put my thoughts together.  I, unfortunately live with a tremendous amount of anxiety.  I'm sure that is a result of growing up in an unstable environment, children count on their parents for their safety and security and sadly I grew up in a lot of choas instead. 

A couple of weeks ago some good friends of mine were praying for me and I heard the verse "For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."  None of us could remember exactly where it was so we did what we all do these days, we Googled it, it's found in 2 Timothy 1:7.  

After reading a couple of different translations we were fascinated.  The words "sound mind" are also self-discipline, self-control, discipline, sound judgment, instruction, good judgment, sobriety, wise discretion, all translated from the Greek word "sōphronismos".  I'm clearly not a Bible scholar but I thought this was so interesting. 

I want more peace and more joy this year and a whole lot less anxiety.  I know when my mind gets busy, my anxiety increases, so I'm trying to remember this verse and all the words for "sound mind". 

Just my thoughts on this first Friday of January 2013.  I'd love to hear what you think. 

Have a beauty-filled day.