Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sausage Balls with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce ~ Great Game Day Appetizer!

I look forward to the Super Bowl every year...not to watch the game, not necessarily for the ads (although I do pay attention during commercial breaks haha), but to make appetizers! You already know how much I love to cook easy, healthier recipes, but on game day? Healthy recipes? I think it's okay to let go every once in awhile, especially if you want to please a crowd of hungry football fans in the mood for 7-layer dips, chicken wings, pizza, and beer.

Au contrair, friends!!! You don't have to completely let go because opting for organic ingredients and making recipe from scratch makes a recipe healthier that easily!  And the munching, yelling football fans won't know the difference.

That's why I'm making made-from-scratch and organic Sausage Balls for this Sunday's game.  My husband and his family are HUGE sausage ball fans, and you can always count on a batch of sausage balls being set out on the table during family reunions.  Instead of making the sausage balls from premade mix, I made my own little mix and used organic organic hot sausage.  So easy. So quick. SO GOOD.  Just don't count on keeping your hands clean.  This recipe involves full on hand-kneading.

But what's a good sausage ball without a good dip? That's where my Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce comes into play.  Perfection.

Organic Sausage Balls with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

Sausage Balls 

The recipe below makes about 24-30 1" diameter sausage balls.

*choose organic and local where possible
- 2 cups unbleached, organic flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- 1 tsp dried sage
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- dash of cayenne pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbs cold organic, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 pound ground sausage, preferably hot sausage (hot sausage ads great flavor...doesn't make the sausage balls spicy, but mild sausage may make them bland!)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add butter, sausage and cheese. Knead with your hands until mixed all the way through.  This may take a little time (5 minutes max) and some work, but well worth it.
3. Shape the mixture into about 1" balls and place them on an ungreased stainless steel cookie sheet. 
4. Bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until the edges are a little brown.

Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

This makes about 3/4 cup sauce.

*choose organic and local where possible
- 1/2 cup mayo
- 4 tsp yellow mustard
- 1 tbs Dijon mustard
- 2 tbs honey
- 2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl until smooth.  Place in fridge over night to let flavors combine.
2. Dip!

What are you making for game day?

If you're looking for a couple more ideas, here are a few snacks you can bring to a gathering:

~ Hannah

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pan Roasted Salmon with Soy-Ginger Glaze

Per usual, I'm always looking for easy, healthy, and tasty meals to make during the week.  And when they look as good as they taste, it's even better!  Almost as satisfying as a smile when someone tastes your dish is a smile when someone sees the picture and starts getting hungry.  This pan roasted salmon did just that.  I paired the salmon with steamed broccoli and oven-baked Japanese sweet potatoes seasoned with smoked paprika, a little nutmeg, and a dash of salt and pepper. A great weeknight meal going on the repeat list!

Below is the recipe for 2 servings.

*choose organic and local if you can!

  • 1/8 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger (I used ground ginger I had on hand)
  • 1/2 tsp organic/local honey
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Two 6-ounce wild-caught salmon fillets (mine had skins on the bottom since they were fresh from the market when I bought them)
  • freshly ground pepper
  • Cilantro leaves, for garnish (optional but good!)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine soy sauce and ginger. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat. Stir in honey and dijon mustard.
  3. Season salmon with freshly ground pepper.
  4. Heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a large skillet. When the skillet is hot, add salmon, skin side up and cook over a medium/high heat until golden and crusty (about 2-3 minutes). Remove from heat, turn the salmon over, and spoon the ginger-soy glaze on top.
  5. Transfer the skillet to the preheated oven and bake for about 5 minutes, or until cooked to your liking.
  6. Transfer finished salmon to a plate and garnish with cilantro!
How do you like to cook salmon? Do you have any glazes you enjoy?

~ Hannah

Date Syrup & Raisin Muffins

After making a pretty decent amount of Medjool date syrup, I went on the hunt to find uses for it! I stumbled across a Date Syrup & Raisin Muffins recipe that I tweaked to make it my own. This was the first time I had ever baked something that was sweetened naturally with fruit!  And for a no-sugar-added muffin, I say they were pretty darn good.  Definitely not the dessert-type muffin but more like a breakfast muffin that will hit the spot on your way out the door in the morning.

When making these muffins, I used vegetable oil in this first batch, but I think next time I will try applesauce for a healthier version.  Also, I used my stand-alone paper cupcake cups (I had a bunch leftover from the snowman ones I had over the holidays) that are free from PTFE, PFCs and made from natural, eco-friendly paper! They are grease proof, have no silicone or coating of any kind, use food-safe inks, and are chemical free.  All I had to do was fill them with muffin batter and set them right on top of my stainless steel cookie sheet.

And twenty or so minutes later, they came out perfect! The cupcake cups held so well, and the muffins came out like they were baked in a muffin tin.  Pretty neat.

I let them cool for ohhhh about 30 seconds because I couldn't wait to taste them!  The raisins and date syrup were a perfect combination.  My husband had two, and liked the muffin a little more with a small piece of butter, hence the photo below.

So if you have a bunch of date syrup that you want to use, bake with it! I'm sure it will go well with many recipes, but if you want to try these muffins, here's my recipe for 12 muffins:

*choose organic and local where possible

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup mild vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-1/3 cups Medjool Date Syrup
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1-3/4 cup unbleached flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves

  1. Preheat the over to 400 degrees.
  2. Line a 12-muffin tin with paper liners (or use the stand-up paper cups like me!)
  3. In a large bowl, mix eggs, oil, vanilla extract, date syrup, and raisins.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. 
  5. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cups and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.
  6. Remove from rack and cool.
Do you have any recipes where you use date syrup as a sweetener? Please send them my way! I'd love to try them.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Eco-Sips ~ Valentine's Day Cocktail

I hate to get too punny (okay, I lied, I love puns!) but if you're looking for a great "date"-night cocktail, this "Be My Clementine" Martini is for you!  It's sweetened naturally with organic and homemade date syrup and bit of agave. It's a refreshing cocktail that will definitely sweeten up your Valentine's day date!  Of course, I served them to me and the hubby in our awesome stainless steel martini glasses from ESP. They kept the martinis nice and chilled :)

"Be My Clementine" Martini


  • 1-1/2 oz tequila (we used silver)
  • 1-1/2 oz medjool date syrup
  • 2 oz clementine juice
  • 1 oz fresh squeeze red grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 tsp agave
  • drop of lemon juice plus slice for garnish

Directions:  Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Shake, pour over ice, enjoy!


Friday, January 25, 2013

Medjool Date Syrup ~ An All Natural Sweetener

I had never had dates up until a few months ago when my aunt made a date cake that I fell in love with.    Since then, I've been trying to find a way to use dates in a recipe; and because I had never used dates before, I wanted to make sure it was a VERY SIMPLE recipe. That's when I found out about Date Syrup.  Just 3 main ingredients: medjool dates, filtered water, and lemon juice.  That's it, but I had to put my own twist on it--cinnamon!  Pretty easy for a first-time date recipe, and I can't wait to see what I can do with the date syrup.  Recipe below...

*makes about 1-1/3 cups of syrup

  • 8-9 whole, organic medjool dates
  • 1-1/4 cups filtered water
  • 1-1/2 tsp lemon juice (this helps the syrup last longer)
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  1. Place the whole dates in a small bowl and cover with warm water. Let them sit for about 30 minutes. Once the have soaked, drain the water and remove the pits.
  2. Add the soaked dates to a high-speed blender (we use a Vitamix).  Add filtered water, lemon juice, and cinnamon. Blend on high for 45-60 seconds, or until smooth.
  3. Transfer mixture to an airtight container. 
Lasts for about 2 weeks in the fridge.

As a plain syrup, I have used it as a sweetener for my plain greek yogurt and granola in the mornings, but I have heard it would be great as a pancake syrup!

What to make, what to make!?

Extreme Makeover: Leftovers Edition ~ Pork Medallions into Pork Fried Rice

Earlier this week we had oven baked pork medallions and black beans and rice for dinner.  The pork medallions were simply seasoned with a little salt and pepper and baked in the oven till cooked through--a much healthier way to cook pork and it still came out juicy!  We had one pork medallion leftover (cut up into chunks it came out to 1 cup), so two days later I decided to make pork fried rice instead of re-heating the pork for dinner.  The best thing about fried rice is you can really put into it anything you have leftover and on-hand, just make sure you have soy sauce, ground ginger, and brown rice (leftover brown rice would be great too).

In the picture below, you'll notice the sushi rolls, which were leftover from going out to dinner the night before! Talk about a serious leftover meal! And, of course, our reusable bamboo chopsticks...part of the To-Go Ware bamboo utensil set.

Below is the very adaptable recipe for pork fried rice. Makes about 2 servings.

*use organic and local where possible

  • 2 cups cooked brown rice (1 cup uncooked if you don't have leftovers)
  • 1 cup leftover pork medallions, cut into chunks
  • 1-1/2 cup leftover veggies (I had onions, celery, and mushrooms on hand)
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/2 tbs green onion, chopped (optional, but I had a little frozen)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbs + 1 tsp soy sauce
  1. Cook rice if you don't have any leftover.
  2. While rice is cooking, saute minced garlic and veggies on a skillet with olive oil. Once the veggies are cooked through, set them aside in a bowl.
  3. In the same skillet, coat the pan with a little olive oil.  Whisk your egg, add it to the heated pan, and scramble. Once cooked, add to the bowl of veggies.
  4. When the rice is ready, add veggies, egg, green onion, ginger, and soy sauce to the pot of rice. Stir to combine.  For extra moisture, add a little more olive oil to the rice!
Looking forward to the next makeover,

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Extreme Makeover: Leftovers Edition ~ Steamed Broccoli turned Broccoli Cheddar Bites

Another great leftover steamed broccoli recipe! The same day I made my Broccoli Parmesan Fritters, I made another batch of these Broccoli Cheddar Bites.  We had A LOT of leftover broccoli at my parent's house from the previous week. And by giving leftover steamed broccoli a makeover, all the broccoli was gone in one meal (it was a little over a pound of broccoli).  It would have likely gone to waste had I not come to the rescue!  These bites look almost the same as the fritters, but they are baked in the oven and taste completely different.  Again, ingredients are most likely in your pantry already--except for the cheddar cheese.

Fresh out of the oven!
Ready to devour...
As mentioned with previous Makeover recipes, the ingredients can be adjusted and changed based on how many leftovers you have and what you have on hand!

*choose organic and local where possible

  • 2 cups steamed leftover steamed broccoli, chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I used a mild white cheddar)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs (I didn't have Italian breadcrumbs on hand, but I had a little bit of plain breadcrumbs available. I did a slight mixture of breadcrumbs and unbleached all-purpose flour to reach 1/3 cup...the bites came out more than fine.  I also added Italian seasoning for the "Italian" part)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.
  3. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until well combined. 
  4. With your hand, form small patties and line them on the parchment lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes in the oven (depending on how crispy you want these bites). After 15 minutes of baking, flip the bites and continue baking.
Looking forward to the next leftovers makeover,
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