Category Archives: Holidays

Love is in the air!

Or in our case, on the plate.

Valentine’s Day is all about sweets and sweetness so I wanted to find a yummy recipe that fits the occasion. But it has to be something healthy of course, especially because everyone in our office has been bit by the health bug – some more than others. Some of us sadly exclaim that our clothes don’t fit; we don’t understand why and we clearly have to do something about it, as we shove another cookie into our mouths. Some others of us are into counting and keeping track of calories. Calories are serious business and should be allocated wisely. Well, except on the weekend because honestly, the weekend is for relaxation and fun and calories, as I said, are serious business.

Anyhow, a healthy recipe that fits the holiday… But what exactly is healthy? It depends on who you ask. My general rule of thumb is if it’s natural, it can’t be very bad for you in moderation. And I think “moderation” is the key word just like with most things.

I came across the recipe for Valentine’s Day Strawberry Love Muffins on getmecooking.com. How cute, love muffins. And it was claimed to be a healthy recipe, too. Bingo! It’s true that I used organic raw cane sugar instead of Stevia so I am not sure how much that took away from the healthiness of it. I just prefer the natural alternative. It goes without saying that you should always try to get the good ingredients. Free range, natural eggs, organic strawberries if possible. I am not one of those people who swear that absolutely everything has to be organic but when it comes to eggs and strawberries, it really is worth getting the good stuff. The recipe also calls for coconut oil. You can substitute this with sweet cream butter if you want. Coconut oil has become really popular in the past few years both in the kitchen and used in cosmetics as well. In fact there are so many different uses for it that people talk about it as the miracle oil. I don’t doubt it that it has wonderful qualities but recently my son pointed it out to me that coconut oil actually is mostly (about 90%) saturated fat. One tablespoon of it can account for 60% of your recommended daily saturated fat consumption. That made me think since I have been using coconut oil for cooking and always used it generously. There are many arguments pro and con coconut oil and of course not all saturated fats have been created equal but it is worth doing your own research. I guess “in moderation” works for coconut oil as well.

And finally, the recipe!

Valentine’s Day Strawberry Love Muffins

Ingredients 
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour (100%, for a lighter texture use unbleached all-purpose )
1 cup all-purpose flour (unbleached, plus 2 tablespoons)
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon sea salt (fine-grain)
1 lemon zest
½ cup extra virgin coconut oil (packed & measured solid) or sweet cream butter
2 cups stevia (or pure cane sugar)
1 large egg
2 large egg whites
1 tablespoon lemon juice (about half a lemon)
12oz plain greek yogurt (or vanilla)
16oz strawberries (washed, thoroughly dried, hulled, and chopped into bite size pieces)

Directions
1. Pre-heat oven to 350ºF. You can use non-stick muffin tins or add liners. Set aside.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together all of the flour (except the two tablespoons) baking powder, baking soda, salt and lemon zest. Set aside.

3. Using a mixer, cream coconut oil and stevia (or raw sugar) together until light and fluffy. Slowly beat in the whole egg then the egg whites, one at a time, until well mixed. Drop the speed down to low and gently stir in the lemon juice.

4. Keeping the speed on low, slowly add the flour mixture then a bit of the yogurt, alternating between the two, until the mixture is just incorporated. BE SURE NOT TO OVER MIX. These muffins are dense enough as it is!

5. Coat the strawberries in the remaining 2 tbsp of flour then gently mix the berries into the batter. NOTE: THIS BATTER IS SUPER THICK. THAT’S HOW IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE.

6. Using a large cookie scoop or a large spoon, scoop the batter into the tins so they are about 90% full. These should yield about 18.

7. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow the muffins to cool in the tins for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy! Make sure to share the love with friends, family, and coworkers as well!

What is your favorite Thanksgiving recipe?

Let’s be honest. When I think of Thanksgiving I can’t help but think of food. In fact, my stomach is growling already. I love thanksgiving dinner! The family is together finally (men watching football, ladies in the kitchen), the turkey smells so good, I don’t even know what I should dig into first. The turkey or the mashed potatoes? The sweet potatoes (I like mine baked with cinnamon butter on top) or the cranberry sauce? No, wait! My absolute favorite thing is the stuffing. I make it all from scratch and it is so good! In fact it is like a whole dinner in one dish.

I do not buy the bagged stuffing mix but rather make my own. I get a couple of loaves of Italian bread (or one big one), try to get the kind that doesn’t have very hard crust. If they do, I trim off the crust. Next I cut the bread into very small cubes. I set the oven to low temperature and toast them a little bit so they get somewhat crunchy. Tada! Home made croutons. There’s no need to season them now because I do that later. So let’s get to the recipe! I usually just improvise but this recipe I found on Food Network is a very good recipe to start with. I made a few alterations according to my taste.

Ingredients

1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
3 cups onion, chopped
2 cups celery, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh (or slightly less dried) chopped sage
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
6 cups croutons
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 cups dried cranberries
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
2 cups chicken stock, plus extra as needed
2 tablespoons fresh (or slightly less dried) chopped thyme
Salt and pepper

You can omit the pecans if you are concerned about food allergies and I also like to add chopped baby bella mushrooms.

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Saute sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through, crumbling sausage with the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes.

Transfer sausage with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. Discard sausage fat in pan. Add butter, onions, mushrooms, and celery to skillet and saute until tender,  about 10 to15 minutes. Add to sausage, along with herbs and croutons, mix to combine.

In a medium bowl, mix allspice, maple syrup, cranberries, pecans, and chicken stock. Add to crouton mixture. The mixture should be moist, but not soggy. You can always add more chicken broth if needed. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer stuffing to a lightly buttered (or sprayed) baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for about 1 hour. Uncover and bake for another 20 minutes, or until the top is golden.

Don’t forget to stuff the inside of the turkey as well, it makes a huge difference in the taste of your turkey. I also like to put an apple inside the bird; this used to be my mom’s special touch.

And that’s it! I guarantee you, everyone will love your stuffing and ask you for the recipe. Be sure to tell them you found it on our Clue Blog!