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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Cashew Ginger Energy Balls


Having a busy life can be very challenging at times, especially when it comes to healthy nutrition. Between work, fitness goals, blogging and social life there is unfortunately not always a lot of time for decent grocery shopping or meal prepping. 

As today is a calm day and I decided to do a little inventory of my pantry and my whole food shelf. I have got loads of grains and seeds, which I should integrate more often into my daily meals. So as there were left some cashews and Medjool dates, I decided to make some energy bars or balls. From my last cocktail night there were still some limes left, which I decided to use to add a little freshness to my energy balls. 


All the goodness from Medjool dates, cashew nuts, chia seeds and ginger is united in this recipe. They give you a real boost on busy days and also occur to be a perfect pre-workout snack. 

Usually  when I am working, I start getting tired around 7 o'clock and sometimes tend to skip the gym. But when I eat a pair of my homemade energy bites, I feel really energised and my motivation to hit the gym increases considerably. Ok, I guess when my coach reads this, he will ask me to produce another 1000 balls to get my butt to the gym a little more often. But there's little chance he reads this blog post anyways. 


For around 18 energy balls you'll need:

150g cashew nuts
50g pumpkin seeds
240g Medjool dates
juice of one lime
2 tsp ground ginger


Place the cashews, pumpkin and chia seeds into a food processor and pulse several times until the nuts and seeds are crushed. Add the dates, blend, then add the lime juice and ground ginger. Blend again until the mixture become nice and sticky.

Roll the mix into equally sized balls. In order for the balls to set well, place then into the freezer for about an hour. Then put them into an airtight container and store in the fridge. 

Enjoy!!






Saturday, February 11, 2017

Cranberry Pistachio Sausage Rolls


Game day, Christmas, Summer Party, Movie Night… to only name a few occasions for which you can prepare these little bad boys. 

For the last Christmas Eve I was in charge of the aperitivo. I was trying to make something really tasty which wouldn't fill people up too much, as the food prepared by my dad was heaven. At the supermarkets you can find loads of little canapés that are usually made out of puff pastry. So indeed, I wanted to prepare something that includes puff pastry as well. 

I heard that the British had this famous little thing called sausage roll. Not too much of a fan of a purely meaty canapé, especially as most of them are made out of really greasy meat, I was trying something on my own. I've seen canapés with nuts or with dried fruits, so I thought I would just bring all of the not meaty flavorful elements together. And I have to say, my family just loved it!!!


For around 80 sausage rolls you'll need:
6 sheets puff pastry
1 read onion
2 garlic cloves
550g lean minced pork
2 Grany Smith apples (grated)
50g pistachios
50g dried cranberries
2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
1 egg
1 tbsp milk
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp sesame seeds
salt & pepper


Preheat the oven to 180°

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan before you add the onion and a pinch of salt. Sauté for around 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and continue for another 5 minutes. Remove the frying pan and let completely cool.

In a large bowl mix the pork meat, pistachios, cranberries, grated apple, vinegar and parley as well as the onion until well-combined. Season with salt and a generous amount of black pepper and mix again. 

Cut each pastry sheet into three roughly 8cm large and 5 cm wide strips. In a small bowl, combine the milk and egg with a fork.  Align the rectangles in a row and place 1tsp of stuffing on one side of each of them. Roll up to enclose the filling, then brush some egg mixture along the side to seal. Repeat until all the stuffing is used up.

Place the mini sausage rolls onto a tray lined with baking paper. Coat each sausage roll generously with the remaining egg mixture and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake the sausage rolls for 30-40 minutes depending on your oven until golden brown and crispy. When ready, take them out of the oven and serve hot. 




Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Homemade Mini Pizzas (sponsored)


Say it with pizza or not at all! 

They say that human taste evolves over the years. When hearing that sentence, I usually think of more sophisticated things than pizza. I never really liked pizza. I found it a bit boring and when going to Italian restaurants I usually chose some fancy pasta recipes. But 2016 was the year when my taste buds suddenly changed their sense of taste and I actually started to like pizza. So what did the switch result from? Difficult to say… but…one of my colleagues seems to be a little pizza addict. Over the year, she was regularly talking about that famous place in the eastern part of Luxembourg where she would enjoy the best pizza of the Grand Duchy. When hearing her talk about pizza all the time, I thought come on, give it a try. And bam! I liked it. So I went from 1 pizza when having no choice every couple of years,  to 3-4 pizzas in only one. 


Obviously now I realized what I have missed out on all these years. So I faced the challenge to develop my own recipe and I have to admit that I'm very happy about the result. I was looking for a spicy and a herbal juicy version, that's why I came up with the two recipes hereunder.

As you may see, for the upcoming love birds festivities I made little pizza hearts. Well yes… say it with pizza! I'm not much of a fan of the commercial offers in stores for Valentine's day, but preparing some cheesy (ha! yes loads of cheese please!) treats for diner is totally OK. 


For around 10 mini pizzas you need:

dough
150g flour
a large pinch of sea salt
1 tsp good quality olive oil
100ml lukewarm water
2tbsp cold water
12g fresh yeast

***

topping
100g tomato sauce
a handful of cherry tomatoes
75g grated mozzarella
5 basil leaves
olive oil
100g spicy chorizo
120g black olives

All the ingredients for the recipe can be found on the Auchan Drive website.


Preheat the oven to 200°

Pour the lukewarm water into a small glass. Add the yeast and stir vigorously until you can no longer discern the yeast.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attached, mix the flour, salt, olive oil, yeast water as well as the two tbsp cold water on low. Turn the speed up to med-low and mix for about 5 minutes until the dough forms into a ball. Once done, knead the dough firmly with your hands for ten seconds, then wrap it into a damp towel and put it in a warm ware to let it double in size about one hour.

Unroll pizza dough and cut out heart shapes until the dough is used up. You can also use a heart-shaped pancake ring.  Then place the dough hearts on a baking sheet. Fill center with tomato sauce. Top with chorizo & chopped olives or halved cherry tomatoes and chopped basil. Finally add the grated mozzarella on all of the pizzas.

Bake for around 15 minutes until the crust gets golden brown.

Enjoy!!!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread


My homemade Nutella is the first recipe of the year and I have the feeling that it will be one of my favorites. To some this seems to be a bold statement as it is only the first of the year, but I have to say that I am really happy with the result. Well.. somehow, this might also be linked to the fact that I am quite obsessed with nut butters lately. Does anyone else share the same addiction? I never thought one could crave nut butters, but hey, at least it's a not so unhealthy treat if you prepare it in the right way. This cleaner version of the Italian processed spread has all the goodness of hazelnuts in it. 


Since I have my food processor I am making all kinds of nut butters on a regular basis. You will find some other non chocolaty versions on the blog soon! But back to this homemade chocolate hazelnut spread. It all started when I was checking out some recipes on the Internet yet many of the homemade versions still had loads of sugar in it (which I didn't like). So I started checking out for healthier recipes. The funny part of the current recipe is that I was stumbling upon a recipe from a U.S. website using American cups as measurement and I was mistaken it for real cups. The result was completely different from what it should have been, but I'm so happy about my own version now that I didn't try the original one. 


For two pots you'll need:

400g hazelnuts
170ml maple syrup
150ml water
3tbsp raw cocoa powder
optional: pinch of ground vanilla


Preheat the oven to 180°

Place the hazelnuts on a baking tray and bake for about 10 minutes. Take them out of the oven and let cool down a few minutes. 

Once cool, place them into a food processor and blend for around 10 minutes until you obtain a smooth nut butter. Then add the maple syrup and the cacao powder and blend again. Now you can slowly pour in the water until the chocolate hazelnut spread become really creamy and smooth. 

Optional: Once the hazelnut spread is all smooth stir in the ground vanilla.

Enjoy!!!! 




Saturday, December 3, 2016

Fesitve Chocolate Barks


Are you ready for the festive season? I think I am not yet. Temperatures are still quite high, except for a few days last week. When outside, I feel more like going hiking than staying at home and baking Christmas cookies the whole day. Weather-wise we had such an awful summer here in Luxembourg, that I am excited to go outside whenever the sun is shining. 

This weekend however, I'll also meet with a friend that I haven't seen for such a long while. As my friend is from the Balkans and brings me delicious Ajvar very often, I thought it would be a nice idea to share some delicious chocolate bars with him this time. Little side note: he is a real chocoholic, so I am sure he will love this gift. 


I do love chocolate. I love it so much that I could barely do without. Lately I've discovered my love for black chocolate as well. I tried some delicious versions with dried fruits, popped quinoa or nutty chunks. That's when I thought that offering homemade chocolate barks would be a lovely idea. 

The essential thing when making these barks is that you really have to be careful what chocolate or what additional produce you choose. Always opt for good quality ingredients. The more you check on that, the healthier these little treats become. The black barks introduced in this blog posts are quite healthy: dried cranberries with no added sugar, good quality black chocolate and raw pistachios. For the milk chocolate it gets a bit harder indeed. But still, ensuring that you choose the right products is still a plus. 


For about 2 boxes you'll need:

200g dark chocolate
200g milk chocolate
1 handful walnuts
1 handful pistachios
1 handful banana chips
1 handful cranberries


Line a baking tray with a sheet of parchment paper. Melt the black chocolate over a double boiler until totally liquid. Pour the chocolate onto the baking tray and spread it out into a thin layer. Then sprinkle the pistachios and cranberries on top of the chocolate and press it them in lightly. Refrigerate the bark for 20-30 minutes to let it harden. Break the bark into uneven pieces. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

For the milk chocolate barks, proceed the same way as for the dark chocolate ones. Chop the walnuts and banana chips before sprinkling them on the chocolate layer.

Enjoy!!!


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Homemade Rucola Pesto


Today we are celebrating the first advent. I find this is the perfect moment to think about gifts for the year-end festivities. It's the time of the year you're invited to plenty of pre-Christmas, post-Christmas, pre-New Year's events. For some of them there's a Secret Santa session involved, for others you'd just like to bring something nice for the hosts. Either way, it's always a good idea to bring thoughtful and useful gifts. 


I love to offer gifts from the kitchen. Last year I mainly offered sweet gifts. People were happy about the cookies and pralines, but for this year, I added some savory recipes to the list. May I introduce the first one: Rucola Pesto. When browsing on the net, I stumbled upon a similar version, which inspired me to transform my usual pesto recipe into this delish Rucola Pesto. Before posting this recipe I tested the outcome of course. And I have to admit; I am very very positively surprised about the fast. What I like most about this pesto is that, compared to the traditional basil pesto, it has a little spiciness without having to add additional ingredients to it. 


For one medium-sized jar you need:

120g rucola
2 small garlic cloves
50g pine nuts
50 Parmesan
100ml extra virgin olive oil
pepper & salt


Traditionally Pesto is prepared in a mortar. Adding up first the greens and garlic, then the nuts and cheese and finally the olive oil. 

As most of us don't own a mortar, I suggest you just use a food processor. Add all the ingredients to a food processor. Mix until creamy. Season with salt and pepper. 

Fill the pesto into a middle-sized jar.



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