Feb 232016
 

This post is sponsored by Stonyfield as part of my participation in the Stonyfield Clean Plate Club.

February is known for a lot of important annual celebrations and fun holidays, and 2016 is turning it up on the party front thanks to Mardi Gras, the Super Bowl, and Chinese New Year joining the regulars: Ground Hogs, award shows, and you better not-forget-it-even-though-its-been-over-for-10-days-VALENTINE’S DAY.  It was a no brainer when I heard that Stonyfield is partnering with Divine Chocolate to celebrate love this February that I should use it as an opportunity to celebrate something that I love, too.

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Divine Chocolate is co-owned by the 85,000 farmer members of Kuapa Kokoo, the cooperative in Ghana that supplies the cocoa for each bar of Divine. As owners, they get a share in the profits, a say in the company, and a voice in the global marketplace.

Divine is not only doing good for the world, but their chocolate does seriously good things for your taste buds, too. We found a handful of Divine bar flavors at our local Hannaford and decided on three to take home with us: Intensely Rich 70% Dark, White Chocolate with Strawberries, and Milk Chocolate with Hazelnuts.

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I was inspired by something I love very much when day-dreaming-up this recipe: US PRESIDENTS!!!  Totally on point since February is also host to several important days in Presidential History, including but not limited to the best holiday to the world of THS – President’s Day!!  Though it’s not an off-of-work holiday for my office, the past several years I’ve tried to bribe my coworkers into celebrating with me by bringing in POTUS Day treats for the group. 

Here’s a ramble-y explanation of how this recipe came together: I have made a few variations on one of FDR’s favorite birthday cakes in the past; a recipe featuring the mighty “with their powers combined” WOAHS! of rich chocolate and smooth coffee.  And I’m well experienced in using Greek yogurt in baked goods, and the Stonyfield Smooth & Creamy Whole Milk yogurt I keep well stocked in my fridge [I use it in cooking ALL THE TIME] was sure to make the same moisture magic. 

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When it came to the major flavor players in this POTUS loaf game, the coffee and the vanilla, I went with two favorite powerhouses.  A favorite bean of so many people we know, including my Dad who gifted us this batch, Raven’s Brew was a must for the coffee element.  This coffee is so silky smooth with a deep, dark flavor, which seemed like a great pairing for the chocolate in the cake and the Divine milk chocolate featured in the topping.

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As for the vanilla, years ago we were gifted some Watkins extracts and flavorings from a regular visitor to the coffee shop, and since then the brand has been a go to for pure vanilla.  Using quality spices and ingredients really take your dishes up a notch.

This loaf cake is a simple recipe, but what really knocks it out of the park is the ganache.  The process for making the topping couldn’t be easier, and yet adding it totally elevates the cake loaf.  Using a decadent, quality chocolate like Divine brings the topping to A+ status in my book.  Just look at that chocolate, glazy goodness!!!!

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Chocolate Java New Deal Celebration Loaf with Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Ganache

Ingredients

  • 6 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 C sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 3/4 C all purpose flour
  • 1/2 C cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 6 oz. plain, Whole Milk Stonyfield yogurt
  • 1/2 C brewed STRONG coffee, chilled
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Divine Chocolate Bars, chopped into small pieces [I cut each tiny square into 2-3 pieces] 
  • 1 c heavy cream

Instructions

PREP STEP: make sure your butter is at room temp and your coffee has been brewed and chilled.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a loaf pan by lining with parchment paper.
  2. Cream butter and sugar.  Add the beaten eggs and fold together.  This is your batter base.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.
  4. In another bowl, whisk yogurt, coffee, and vanilla.
  5. Alternating between the two and adding about 1/3 of each mix at a time, fold the dry mix and wet mix to the batter base. Mix until just combined.
  6. Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan.  Bake for 1 hour.
  7. Remove from the oven; cool in pan for 15 minutes.
  8. Remove from pan and place on rack; let cool completely.
  9. Make the ganache:
    1. Put chocolate pieces in a heat proof bowl, while heating the heavy cream on the stove over medium low until it’s slightly simmering.
    2. Pour cream over chocolate and let stand 6-8 minutes.
    3. Whisk until smooth.
    4. Cool completely, whisking on occasion.
  10. Once ganache is cool, immediately spoon over top of loaf. 

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Jun 012015
 

This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk.

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Blue Diamond.  I’ve been choosing Blue Diamond at my local markets for several years now, long before I became part of the Blue Diamond Tastemakers program.

Last month I was sharing a whole bunch about the new-to-me Blue Diamond deliciousness.  Honestly, I have been really impressed with all the new products and flavors that Blue Diamond has been rolling out over the past several months.  The flavors are bolder and better than I expect before tasting them, the protein content in the nut-thins hit my happy spot, and adding some coconut to the deliciousness of Almond Breeze is a flavor combo I’ll never complain about.

In terms of impressing me, the newest fresh-to-the-shelves product I’ve received to review has been no different: Hint of Honey Vanilla Almond Breeze Almondmilk. It’s rich and creamy with a slight sweetness that rounds out the flavor perfectfully.  I’ve tried it latte-style with the help of my Mr. Coffee Latte, to thin out my post-workout smoothies, and as a substitute for water in my morning oats.  I’ve also used the honey-delicious-AlmondBreeze in an ice pops recipe I share below because I’m all about the cooling-down these days.

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I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but here in the CDNY it seems that we’ve skipped right over spring and headed straight for early summer.  We have one window unit air conditioner at the apartment, which we keep in the bedroom because sleeping well is a top priority for my overall health.  This means all the other rooms of THS HQ can double as a hot yoga studio, even when the oven remains in the off position. [Let’s not talk about what it feels like when I dare to turn it to the on position, okay?]

All in all, though, it’s not THAT bad.  Maybe it’s the several years spent on the gulf coast of Texas, but even the hottest days here in NY seem incredibly bearable, especially with all the best tools to my disposal.  I keep a pitcher of water in the fridge so I can always cool down via hydration.  The back porch is a fantastic spot to spend some time when the air near my computer feels stale.  My go-to at-home summer wardrobe = a running skirt and a tank, hair in messy bun on top of my head, and occasionally a BAMR band.

Another cool-down tool I’m swearing by these days are treats coming from the freezer.  I’ve been making smoothies more regularly than ever before in my life and recently realized that I could easily turn all my favorite smoothies into ice pops with the help of my dollar store plastic mold.  The steps are SO EASY and the outcome is well worth the [very little] effort.

popsicle round up

Destination Beach Vacation Ice Pops
I love island-flavor freezer pops for closing my eyes and imagining the heat I’m feeling is because I’m enjoying a moment of R&R on a beach vacation. 

Ingredients:

The steps are simple:

  • Fill a single serve [16 ounce] smoothie cup with frozen fruit, Greek yogurt and coconut.  Slowly add Almond Breeze to fill line on cup.
  • Blend into smoothie-like consistency.
  • Pour or spoon into mold and add sticks or plastic holders.
  • Freeze for several hours until firm.

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Frozen Pops Recipes to Cool Down with This Summer
With the addition of honey in many of these recipes, I feel especially kitchen-confident subbing in the Hint of Honey Almond Breeze Almond Milk for my own freezer creations! 

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Lime Pina Colada Popsicles from Back to Her Roots. Another tropical vacation straight from my apartment freezer? Yes, please!

Vanilla Peach Pops from Love and Lemons. Who would turn down a classic flavor combo like peaches & cream?

Key Lime Pie Ice Pops from Freutcake. Pie turned pop?  I can get down with that.  I love the gram cracker outer crust on these beauties.

Papaya Coconut Popsicles from Floating Kitchen. I love the look of a layered freezer treat – so gorgeous!  And papaya and coconut are another imagine-yourself-watching-the-waves flavor combination to embrace this summer.

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Bumbleberry Chia Pops from The Healthy Everythingtarian. This advice from my girl Holly in this post pretty much sums up life for me: “Wherever you are at, be there. Push forward. Eat popsicles.”

Blueberry Lemon Popsicles from Try Anything Once Culinary. High School Heather fell for berry flavored lemonade at chain restaurants and I’ve never stopped being a fan of the partnership sweet berries and sour citrus.  These pops make me dream of another favorite summertime treat, Lemon Ice from Culver’s.  Yummmmmmmmmmmm.

Summertime Dessert Banana Berry Acai Popsicles from Lauren Lives Healthy. I totally agree with Lauren that the best way to beat the heat come summertime are frozen treats. These antioxidant boosted treats will totally do the job in my book.

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Green Smoothie Protein Pops from Eating Bird Food. These seem like a great post-workout cool down treat if you ask me!

Almond Coconut Fudgesicles from Bliss N Balance.  Almond + coconut + fudge = my favorite mini-candy bar treat – an Almond Joy!  I’m digging this flavor combo!

Pineapple Mint Popsicles from Fitnessista. Pineapple Mojitos are one of my favorite hot weather cocktails, and these ice pops fall right in-line with those flavors.

Watermelon Whole Fruit Popsicles from Nutrition by Angelique. These freezer treats are made with 100% fruit, using puree, slices and chunks.  What a great way to amp up your fruit servings during the hot summer months!

Apr 092015
 

As I mentioned back when I challenged you to join me in trying a new cut of beef in your kitchen this month, I purchased a sirloin tip roast when it was on sale at my local market and had wrapped it and stored in the freezer.

Thanks to the Interactive Beef Counter [a resource I can’t stop raving about because I can’t stop using it!] I knew I wanted to cook this cost-friendly roast slowly in the oven and slice it thin.

presear

Rather than use a metal rack in my pan, I choose to cut some of my veggies purposefully to be used as a edible-rack underneath the roast. [You can start to see my row of carrot slices peaking out underneath the pre-seared piece of roast in the photo above.]

When it comes to the freggies in this recipes, use what you love.  The size and variety of the produce available at the market often helps dictate how much of which ingredients get roasted with dishes like this in my kitchen!

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I often double up on veggies in weekend dinner recipes to get extra, easy veggie power for leftovers throughout the week, and this recipe is a great dish in which to try this food prep trick. If you are over crowding the pan due to the amount of veggies you’ve got going on, just add an additional baking dish, sheet, or pan to the oven containing just veggies.

Sirloin Tip Roast with Freggie Medley

Rosemary and Thyme Rubbed Sirloin Tip Roast with Roasted Freggie Medley
1.5 – 2 lbs Sirloin Tip Roast
kosher salt
3 T chopped fresh rosemary
2 T dried thyme
2 tsp pepper
2 T mustard of choice
2 carrots, peeled and cut into long, thick strips [if using as roasting bed]
1 C baby carrots or bite sized chunks of peeled carrots
2 sweet potatoes, diced into large bite-sized pieces
3 red potatoes, diced into large bite-sized pieces
2 pears, cored and diced into bite-sized pieces
2 apples, cored and diced into bite-sized pieces
4-5 T EVOO, divided

[Not required, but I personally find that a little planning and including this step adds an extra bit of juiciness to the roast!…] The night before cooking, salt the roast evenly over all sides before wrapping tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerating overnight.

Remove from fridge an hour before cooking.

Move one of the racks to the center of your oven and preheat to 275°F.

Unwrap the roast and pat away any access moisture with a clean kitchen or paper towel.

In a small dish, toss together rosemary, thyme, and pepper.

Toss apples, carrots, pears, and potatoes in 2-3 T EVOO [depending on the amount of freggies] and half of herb mixture and place in bottom of roasting pan.  If you don’t have a roasting pan, a deep 9 x 13 oven-safe dish can work.

If you plan to place the roast on top of the vegetables, using the larger, long pieces of carrots to create a sort of rack/bed underneath the roast for support while keeping it off the bottom of the pan.

Rub roast with mustard, then rub half of herb mixture evenly over sides of roast.

In a large cast iron or stainless steel skillet with 1 T of oil, sear each side of the roast until browned, which should take about 2-4 minutes each side. I added more oil about half-way through the roast rotation.

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After searing each side, place in prepared roasting dish and place in the preheated oven on the center rack.

Cook roast for a little over an hour, or until temperature reaches 115°F on your meat thermometer.  Turn your oven off, leaving the roast in for about 30-40 minutes or until it reaches 140°F for medium rare; 150°F for medium.

Transfer roast to carving board; tent loosely with aluminum foil. Let stand 15 to 20 minutes. [Temperature will continue to rise about 5°-10°F to reach 145°F for medium rare; 160°F for medium.]

Carve roast to deserved thickness.  Serve with roasted veggies and your favorite dinner grain.  I love herb-flavored cous cous or quinoa made in broth!

with freggies

Disclaimer: I am a member of the Beef Expert Bureau.  This post is sponsored by The Beef Checkoff.