Green Smoothie

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After my workout the other day, I purchased THE BEST smoothie I’ve ever had in my entire life. It was absolutely delicious, and I’ve been craving it ever since! It was the perfect blend of greens and protein, and it was SO healthy! Although I don’t think I could ever replicate that smoothie, I decided to make a green smoothie of my own.

99% of the time I’m a very healthy eater, so I was really excited to come home today and make this! I didn’t use a recipe and just tossed what I had in the kitchen into the blender. I used 2 apples (freshly picked from my apple trees!), 1 frozen banana, 4 strawberries, 5 kale leaves, a handful of spinach, 1/2 cup of pineapple, 1/4 cup of mandarin oranges, 1 tablespoon of local, organic honey and a splash of water. I don’t have rice protein (which was in my smoothie the other day), so that is the only thing missing. I wish I had it on hand, but even without it, my smoothie turned out to be so refreshing and healthy!

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Roasted Cauliflower Soup

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Nothing beats a hot bowl of soup on a blustery fall day! Okay, so maybe the temperature has crept up into the 80s again, but that didn’t stop me from making this creamy bowl of deliciousness! I stumbled upon this recipe in the newspaper the other day and decided I had to try it. I’ve been wanting to make a pureed vegetable soup for a while now, and I’m so glad I finally did! I was a tad skeptical about the flavor at first (I thought it would be very bland), but the pepper and thyme added a huge flavor boost!

*I made a couple adjustments to the recipe, but I kept the original recipe below and made notes on my changes. Make sure you REALLY puree the cauliflower. If you don’t, your soup will have the texture of grits, which I don’t really like!

Roasted Cauliflower Soup (source)
Serves eight

2 heads cauliflower (about 4½ pounds total)
¼ cup olive oil (*I used spray olive oil instead)
Kosher salt
1 quart chicken broth (or more for a thinner soup), divided (*I used vegetable stock)
1 pint half-and-half (*I used fat free)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, plus 8 sprigs to garnish
Pinch of white pepper (*I used black pepper)
10 slices apple wood smoked bacon (or 3 slices country ham), minced and cooked (*I omitted bacon from my soup)

Heat the oven to 400 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with cooking parchment, or with foil lightly misted with cooking spray. Use a paring knife to carefully cut out and discard the core of each head of cauliflower, then cut the heads into large florets.

Place the florets in a large bowl and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss to coat evenly. Sprinkle with about 2 teaspoons of salt, tossing to coat. Arrange the florets in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes, then use tongs to flip the florets, then roast for another 30 minutes, or until the florets are deeply caramelized and golden.

Transfer the florets to a blender and add 2 cups of the broth. Purée, then add the half-and-half and purée for another three minutes, or until completely smooth. The purée should be very thick. With the blender running, add the remaining broth, the thyme and white pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings.

The soup can be transferred to a saucepan and gently heated, or refrigerated overnight before reheating and serving. The flavor is best when it is allowed to rest overnight. When ready to serve, garnish each bowl with a bit of cooked bacon and a sprig of fresh thyme.

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes

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It’s become expected that I make cupcakes for every family gathering. Baking cupcakes has become somewhat therapeutic for me because I do it so often, so what once used to be stressful has actually become a way for me to relax. This past weekend we celebrated my mom’s birthday, and by her request, I made chocolate cupcakes. My mom loves chocolate, so I thought I should make them extra chocolaty by adding a layer of dark chocolate ganache in between the cake and frosting. I’ve got to say, these turned out to be one of my all time favorite cupcakes! I tend to lean more toward the vanilla side, but these chocolate cupcakes were so decadent! They were moist, light, rich and absolutely delicious! The bitterness of the dark chocolate in the ganache really balanced out the sweetness of the cake and the frosting, so I highly recommend using dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate (although I’m sure it would still taste very good!)

By the way, it’s hard to stop at just one – don’t say I didn’t warn you! :)

Chocolate Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking power
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup hot water
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
3 T vegetable oil

Mix flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a mixture.  Add eggs (one at a time), water, milk, vanilla and oil. Mix on low speed until fully combined. Fill cupcake papers 2/3 full and bake for 17-20 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Chocolate Ganache
12 ounces dark chocolate (I used 2 bars of dark chocolate)
1/2 – 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream

Put the chocolate into a heat-safe bowl and set aside. Heat the heavy cream in a saucepan and pour over the chocolate as soon as it comes to a boil. Whisk the chocolate and heavy cream continuously until all of the chocolate is melted and the ganache has become a creamy, smooth consistency.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (this will make extra frosting for about 4-6 cupcakes)
3 sticks butter (softened)
4-6 cups powdered sugar (sifted)
3/4 cups cocoa (sifted)
Milk or Half & Half (add by the tablespoon until your frosting has become creamy)
Light corn syrup (add by tablespoon until your frosting has become even creamier)
1 T vanilla extract

Beat the butter until it’s completely mixed together. Add powdered sugar by the cup until the mixture becomes heavy and dry. Add milk (or half & half). Alternate adding powered sugar, cocoa and milk until creamy. Add corn syrup and vanilla. Add more powdered sugar if needed.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

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I love pumpkin and I’m an advocate of healthy eating, so when you combine the two, I get pretty excited. This smoothie was absolutely delicious – it was like cold pumpkin pie in a glass! I felt refreshed, satisfied and it kept me full for hours. It was creamy and thick but didn’t have all of the added sugars and fat in pumpkin pie. In addition to being delicious, the pumpkin smoothie was also super healthy! Pumpkin is  chock-full of disease-fighting nutrients and low-fat, low-calorie fiber, almond milk is packed with vitamins and minerals and bananas are high in potassium and fiber. It was the perfect after dinner treat, and I’m looking forward to sipping on it as my midday pick-me-up at work!

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie Recipe (source – I can’t take the credit for this!)
*I doubled the recipe, used vanilla almond milk and added extra pumpkin pie spice

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup unsweetened milk of choice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice*
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp golden flax meal
  • 1 ripe banana, frozen

Place all ingredients in a blender except the banana.  Blend until pureed, and then cut the banana into pieces and add. Blend until you have a creamy, smooth mixture!