Baked Caramel Apple Cups

Hi. My name is Hallie, and I am addicted to Pinterest. Phew, that felt good to get off my chest. Seriously, with wedding planning, my love for crafting, and my Paleo cooking projects, I just cannot get enough of that site. It is sort of like a sickness, but it feeds my creative soul, so that makes it okay. Right? Now, I am a trial and error kind of person. I like to do something first and then problem solve and fix it afterwards. Shep has seen this first-hand with almost all of my crafting ideas. It is just how I roll. But because of that, I also have quite the fondness for PInterest Fails. Seriously…so hilarious.

So a recipe for these baked apples has been floating around Pinterest for the last week or so. Apples are in season now and the pictures are pretty, so it isn’t hard to figure out why this is such a popular pin. However, every one that I found linked to a recipe that A) would not come out looking like the picture, and B) was chock full of sugar and dairy. So I decided to play around with it and make it Paleo. Thankfully, I actually nailed it the first time around (huh, that never happens…) by keeping it as simple as humanly possible. Since so many people have responded to my posted picture, I decided to share it with the masses!

Baked Apple Cups

Baked Apples

Ingredients

2 apples of your choosing

1 Tbl Raw Honey

Cinnamon (to taste)

Vanilla almond milk ice cream* (Recipe below)

Caramel Sauce**(Recipe below)

Directions

To make apple:

1.       Preheat oven to 400.

2.      Use a knife to cut the top off of the apple, and put it to the side. Make sure to remove the stem if it doesn’t just fall out.

3.       Use a spoon and hollow out the core of the apple. Leave about a ½ inch rim of apple around the outside by the skin.  Make sure not to poke a hole in the bottom of the apple! If you do not like the skin of your apple, go ahead and peel it off at this point. I left mine on because I happen to like the skin, but to each his own!

4.       Melt your raw honey over a stove top. Pour half of the honey into each apple. Use the backside of your spoon to push the honey up the sides. Sprinkle cinnamon on top of the honey. Also spread a little honey/cinnamon onto the apple top that you have cut off.

5.      Put the top back on the apple, and wrap fully in aluminum foil.

6.       Once the oven is ready, shake the apple a little bit (to make sure the honey/cinnamon are spread throughout) and put in the oven.

7.       Cooking Times: For a cooked, but not mushy apple, I cooked mine for 15 minutes, making sure to take them out at 5 minute intervals to turn them. If you want a more fully cooked apple texture (melt in your mouth mushy…), leave them in for 20-25 minutes, turning them ever so often.

To make almond milk ice cream:

Combine 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1 Tbl melted raw honey, and 1 tsp vanilla in a bowl.l Cover well and put into the refrigerator until you are ready to make ice cream. Put into an ice cream maker for 10-20 minutes until it is the consistency of ice cream. Want to get a little crazy? Add some cinnamon to the mixture as well to really tie in well with the apples. Mind. Blown.

To make caramel sauce:

I used a recipe from the site Living Healthy with Chocolate. It is amazing!! Just be careful and keep stirring it constantly so that it does not burn! Go ahead and make your own: Paleo Caramel Sauce. 

Put it together:

Once apple is done, use the spoon to spread out any honey that settled in the bottom without burning yourselves on the hot apple. Put ice cream in the middle, top with caramel and enjoy!!

Ham Salsa Breakfast Casserole

YO!

So it is a rainy Monday here in RVA, and I am making the best of it by sharing a fantastic and oh so very simple recipe for a delicious breakfast. I am physically drained after doing a Triathlon yesterday, so the likelihood that I am as witty, clever, and charming as usual is highly unlikely. This is, of course, assuming that at my best I am witty, clever, and charming. I’m just going to safely assume that I am and just go from there!

I did my Tri yesterday, and I have to be honest…I was a bit frustrated with myself. I had a time goal in mind, and my goal was not reached. Granted, I had minor technically difficulties that were out of my control, but it is still frustrating to work so hard for months only to come up shy of your goals. I keep thinking that I could have made up the time had I just pushed myself, but I am just spinning my wheels with that kind of thinking. Hey, at least I beat my time from my first one! That is definitely something to be proud of!!! (See…positive thinking…much more my speed…) Regardless, it was fun and I am sure I will find myself back in training for another one next season. In the meantime, it looks like Shep and I are going to be training for a half…so there’s that. Looks like a new pair of running shoes will be in my future🙂

So what I wanted to share with you is our simple and easy recipe for a breakfast casserole. We have also made these as grab-and-go egg muffins, so there are plenty of options to play around with to create your masterpiece. The salsa in the mixture really keep your eggs from drying out and add an extra delicious taste. Needless to say, I am kind of addicted to these. But the big reason I am sharing this right now is simplicity. I am tired, and yet I still need to eat. I don’t want to rely on going out, so I want something that I am able to make without having to expel the few brain cells that I have firing.

Ham Salsa Breakfast Casserole

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(the egg muffin version is pictured above…)

Ingredients:

Eggs (12 for casserole or 9 for a pan of egg muffins)

Ham Steak (1 full steak…cubed)

1 cup of Pico de Gallo or other fresh Salsa (fresh is preferred, but if you buy the pre-made stuff, make sure it comes from the produce section and you are able to see the chunks of vegetables. The stuff that comes in jars will add too much liquid)

Worcestershire Sauce (Optional: just a dash)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cook ham steak by preferred method. We threw it on the grill, let it cool for about 5 minutes and then cut it into chunks. If you plan on letting this mixture sit for a while, do not put the warm ham into the mixture with the eggs. If you are cooking it immediately, ham can still be warm when you add it to the mixture.

Whisk eggs together in a large bowl, or directly into a 9×13 baking dish to save dishes. Then add the ham, salsa, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Transfer to the baking dish if you didn’t mix it there originally.

Bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes. You will know that it is done when the edges of the casserole or muffins are crisp.

Blueberry Macadamia Nut Banana Pancakes

Shep and I are just getting back from an extremely wonderful and relaxing weekend up at the farm in Maryland. For those that are curious, we are ready to announce that we will be getting married up there on June 7, 2014!!! I am seriously beside myself with excitement….while kind of terrified on the inside that I am going to forget some huge detail. The good news is that neither of us has any grandiose expectations of the way the wedding “should” go. Basically as long as we are both there and say “I do,” we will consider the day a win!

In other news, we have found another form of exercise to occupy the rare moments of spare time that we DO have🙂 Last weekend we went to a new spinning class called Tidal Wheel, and it was fantastic. It basically was a spinning class plus weights and upper body (with a side of dancing!!). The only downside for me was that my vertigo acted up while standing up and doing push-ups while pedaling a bike. Who knew?! Plus, Shep might have been a tiny bit sore in the arms (understatement of the century) after class. So we tried out a regular spinning class, and instantly knew we had to keep going. Those classes are awesome, and how we both lived such an active life for so long without trying one out is beyond me.

Okay, I will stop getting off topic now. I am sharing a recipe today for our hands-down most favorite banana pancakes. Prior to going Paleo, I liked pancakes alright I guess. Once I tried these, I knew instantly that I would be making them too often. They are glorious little circles of perfection that I just for the life of me cannot seem to flip without messing up. Anyway, the first time we made them, we used the recipe from Fast Paleo that worked out very well. I have made several tweeks along the way, and below you will find my version of these little beauties!

Blueberry Macadamia Nut Banana Pancakes

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Ingredients for the pancake base:

Eggs (3)
Bananas (2)
Raw Honey (1 T) (Or you may sub maple syrup)
Ground Cinnamon (1 t)
Pure Vanilla Extract (a dash)
Coconut Flour (2 T)
Coconut Oil (3 T) for the pan
Blueberries (1/2 cup)**
Macadamia Nuts (1/4 cup)**

**You don’t want blueberries and macadamia nuts? No worries!!! Just make the base, or try some of these optional add ins instead:
Strawberries, Pecans, Walnuts, Chocolate Chips (Enjoy LIfe Chocolate Chips if you are Paleo and/or have food allergies), melted Almond Butter, etc. Really whatever you want to try out! I can’t wait to make maple bacon pancakes….just need to convince Shep that they might even be better than these saucy little minxes!

Directions:

1. Mash up your banana. If it is nice and soft, feel free to use a fork, or you may use a food processor. Either way, leave a few chunks because it adds to the flavor.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk 3 eggs.

3. Open the Coconut Flour and take a big whiff. I seriously love the smell of coconut flour! (maybe sneak a smell before you put it away also…)

4. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and stir (excluding the coconut oil)

5. Let the mixture sit for 5+ minutes so the dough may set.

6. Turn on your skillet to medium to medium/high heat and melt some of the coconut oil in the pan.

7. Pour out a dollop of the mixture to make a pancake.

8. Cook on each side for 3-5 minutes. As they talk about over on the Fast Paleo site, be patient before you flip them! They will bubble a little bit starting about 2 minutes in, but wait until the sides look “pancake-like” before you actually flip them.

9. Repeat until all batter is cooked. This recipe will make 6 pancakes.

Bratwurst Boats

Happy Sunday!

We are having a lazy Sunday (by lazy, I mean full of cooking, yard work, Zumba, Barre, and football) here in casa de Stephenson-to-be. We went to a fantastic wedding yesterday over in Charlottesville and had an amazingly fantastic time. Two thumbs up, Danny Yeh and Angela…you guys nailed it!!! Such a beautiful ceremony, great atmosphere, and all around good times were had by all. I stayed up way past my bedtime, but it was worth every minute!

So now that we are in the swing of things with football season–HAIL–we are getting into game-time sports food. There are going to be lots of Paleo experiments going on in our home during the fall, so let me know if you want to come hang out! I won’t even force you to root for the Skins if you don’t want. Regardless, the inspiration for this experiment came from a comment on one of my previous blog posts (ahem, Sara…!!!). On my post about a cucumber canoe, she mentioned something about hot dogs, so of course my brain started going on overdrive. I was never a big hot dog person, but with Labor Day approaching (Yes, I know Labor Day has passed, but that is when we tried this for the first time…), I decided to give this a whirl and test it out on a nice American holiday! Let me tell you, it did not disappoint. In fact, I don’t think I have stopped thinking about it ever since. We are having it again today while watching the game, and I. CANNOT. WAIT.

Okay, I will stop raving and just tell you how to make it:

Bratwurst Boats

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Ingredients:

Pickle Halves

Bratwurst

Yellow Onion

Bell Pepper (we used yellow, but you may use whatever color you prefer!)

Sauerkraut

Olive Oil

Directions:

1. Cut your peppers and onions.

2. On the stove top, drizzle about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil into the skillet and add the brats. Brown them and make sure to flip them to get them to cook evenly.

3. Next up, add your peppers and onions. Cook them until your onions are translucent, making sure to stir the mixture occasionally.

4. Add your sauerkraut to the skillet. Mix it all together and cook to desired consistency

5. Once it is done cooking, place to the side to let it cool down a little bit.

6. Take your pickles and spoon out the seeds to make your boat.

7. Assemble this however you choose! I tried cutting the brats up into smaller pieces and put them inside of my bratwurst boat with the sausage, onions, and kraut on top (pictured above). Shep sliced his brat length-wise, put the pickle boat on top and used the inside of the pickle to hold the toppings (pictured below). Regardless of how you assemble your masterpiece, just know that you are about to taste fantastic food. The flavors just go together so incredibly well.

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I cannot wait until lunch!

Shrimp Cucumber Salad

I just got back from an amazing post-work run, and I have come to a solid conclusion. I will never ever be a contender to win a race, but sometimes it just feels fantastic to run! I must admit that I listened to a total of two songs for the duration of my 3.1 mile run, and I am totally okay with that. These two songs particularly pump me up and keep me going: Titanium (David Guetta), and All Over You (Live). I realize that these two songs are not all that similar, but dang, they make me run my version of fast.

So since the 21 day sugar detox, I have been so significantly better about craving sugar. I think I want something every now and again, but I don’t crave the giant bowl of sugar laden ice cream on an hourly basis like before. However, two days ago I got the most hardcore craving for M n’ M’s I think I have ever had in my life. Even pre-Paleo, I didn’t eat M n’ M’s so it was a tad bit bizarre. However, there I was sitting in my office and I would have probably tackled someone for a bag of those little sweet morsels. It is important to note that by “bag” I am actually referring to the 5 pound bag of them as opposed to the snack or even personal sized. Thankfully my craving passed and I just moved on as if it never happened.

The reason I bring up cravings is because that is precisely how this little recipe formulated in my brain. I was having a major hankering for some Old Bay shrimp. I love me some seafood, and my friend was selling shrimp as a fundraiser for a track team that he coaches. It was awesome…they even had a shrimp hotline. So I bought a pound of shrimp and made this little picturesque concoction for a party🙂

Shrimp Cucumber Salad

shrimp

Cucumber Salad Portion:

Ingredients:

1 Cucumber
1 Lemon
1 T coarse sea salt
1 t Old Bay

(please note that the above picture was a triple amount of this recipe)

Directions

1. Use your amazing spiralizer that you got for your birthday from your awesome mother to spiral slice the cucumber. If you don’t have one…no worries at all! Just slice up a cucumber. It will taste the same, I promise!

2. Toss in a bowl along with the juice from one lemon, the salt, and the Old Bay.

Shrimp Portion:

Ingredients:

1/2 Lb Shrimp
Old Bay

Directions:

1. Steam shrimp with your desired amount of Old Bay. I typically do an extremely light dusting prior to steaming.

2. Peel shrimp. (Or display them pretty on top of your noodles, take a picture, and then peel them….whatever!)

3. Put them on top of your cucumber noodle salad and do another dusting of Old Bay if desired. It was definitely desired at this house!

So on a side note, Shep did not make it to this party with me. He was home and very sick. So being the thoughtful fiance that I am, I left him an adorable single-serving portion…because I am cheesy like that!

Shrimp heart

21DSD Cacao Smoothie

Good afternoon, my friends!

I figured since I am home sick (for the third day in a row…) I would go ahead and pretend like I am good at keeping up with my blog. Joke is on me though, because you all know how terrible I am at keeping this thing up. Regardless, I do have a delicious recipe to share with you all!

So Shep and I just finished up a 21 Day Sugar Detox (hence the 21DSD title…). It went absolutely fantastic and is wonderful. Aside from the fact that my lovely fiance and I ended up with this horrid sinus virus, I feel absolutely fantastic. Doing this detox has left me with so much more energy, better sleep patterns, and taste buds that no longer crave sugar as fervently as before. Oddly enough, we have both found ourselves enjoying the tastes of food more. We are using so many more real food options, and we are really and truly able to taste a difference. Also, when I get hungry, I tend to get mean and snappy. Since this detox, I find that when I am hungry I am no longer a jittery ball of stress about to bite the head off of any poor schmuck that happens to cross my path. I no longer have to send the following text to Shep:

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Anyway, I highly recommend this to anyone interested in getting control of their sugar cravings. There are different levels that you may choose from according to what you think you will be successful with accomplishing. Plus, Diane and her group at Balanced Bites are amazing with providing resources and support. Want to check it out? You should! Here is the information on the 21 Day Sugar Detox.

So the inspiration for this smoothie came from a random site that we found by searching for the 21DSD in google. We found a simple and easy green smoothie that we became addicted to almost immediately. I’m not about claiming credit for something that I didn’t come up with, so if you want to see the recipe for this extremely simple and delectable smoothie, check it out here: 21DSD Green Monster.

One day I went to go make my smoothie, and we were out of any kind of leafy greens. That is a very odd day for our household, but I wasn’t about to not have my “treat.” So what I did instead was make my smoothie with 100% unsweetened cacao powder, and it made my little heart happy. So, here it is!!

21DSD Cacao Smoothie

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3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 frozen banana (if you are doing the detox, make sure the banana has green on the tips still. The pre-ripe version has significantly less sugar)

1 tablespoon unsweetened almond butter

1 tablespoon %100 unsweetened cacao powder.

Directions:

1. Put it in a blender and mix until it is nice and smooth.

2. Drink it😉

Sun-dried Tomato Chicken Roll-ups

So the good news is that enough people want to read my blog that I have been scolded for not writing. The bad news is that I was scolded for not writing. Actually, I was so happy that people are actually enjoying what I am sharing that I didn’t mind being called out!! I have about 8-9 posts in my head at the moment, so it isn’t like I’m lacking material…just being lazy and making excuses. Okay, I will stop blabbering about that.

I will say that I am incredibly shocked to see how many of my friends are either currently eating in line with the Paleo lifestyle or are making the change to try to do so. I must have lived in a cave (pun absolutely intended) for the first 30 years of my life since I hadn’t heard even a whispering of the word before this year. However, I do have a tendency to be distracted easily, so maybe I have talked to people about it before and just chose to look at some shiny object in the distance instead of focusing. Regardless, I have lots and lots of people I want to cook for now! I’m thinking about starting to host bring-a-dish Paleo gatherings…so if you want in, just let me know!

So a couple of weeks ago, I made these fantastic little chicken roll-ups. The inspiration came from some other random recipe that made it onto my facebook wall from another site. However, I could not eat those because they were coated in bread crumbs and had cheese inside. So I decided to get creative and change the whole thing around to suit my diet choices. I picked a few of my favorite ingredients and experimented in the kitchen. Turns out, it resulted in a glorious outcome, so here you have it!

Sun-dried Tomato Chicken Roll-Ups

ChickenRollUpFinished

Ingredients:

4 Thin Sliced Chicken Breasts
4 slices thin cut prosciutto
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes
8 artichoke hearts
2 cups spinach
1 Tbl olive oil
Sea Salt and Pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Put the sun-dried tomatoes and chopped artichoke hearts into a pan on medium-low heat with a little bit of the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes in the bottom of the pan. Stir these and heat them up until the ingredients have been softened. Then add your spinach and put the top on. Allow the spinach to wilt and stir it all together. Between 5-10 minutes depending on the temperature of your stove top.

ChickenRollUpInsides

In the meantime, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lay the chicken flat on the sheet. Lay a slice of prosciutto on top of the chicken long-ways. Next, add a spoonful of the sun-dried tomato mixture to the top of the chicken. (See below picture…then don’t follow it! The theory behind it is correct, but I put too much stuffing in this particular one. Fill it to about 1/2 the length of the chicken cutlet). (Why didn’t I take a picture with the correct one? I’m sure I saw something shiny…as mentioned above.)

ChickenRollUpBefore

Next you will roll them up! Start rolling at the end where there is mixture and finish up at the end where there is nothing. If you use the correct amount of filling, you will not need to use a toothpick to hold it together!

ChickenRollUpUncooked

Next, in a small bowl, mix the olive oil with sea salt and pepper. Lightly brush this onto the top of the chicken.

Bake chicken for 20-30 minutes…ours took about 25 and didn’t suck one bit.