Sweet Potato Nachos

Littlekokomo.com sweet potato nachos

Recently I was craving cheese-covered nachos, but wanted something more substantial and less of a junk-food snack. I remembered this recipe I saw a while back, which uses sweet potato fries rather than corn tortilla chips and decided to try it. The result: healthy AND satisfying! It even works as a side dish or light meal. Here is my lightly modified recipe:

Ingredients:
2 large sweet potatoes
1 large tomato
½ can black beans
1 cup shredded cheese, or more to taste
salt + pepper
dried spices of your choice: garlic, onion, cumin, paprika, etc

optional (but very recommended!):
chopped avocado
hot peppers
salsa
2 limes
cilantro
whatever you have in your fridge/pantry that can work as a topping! ½ cup corn kernels? do itttt

You will need a baking tray and parchment paper.  Continue Reading ›

Genius idea: Coffee Ice Cubes

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I’ve tried making iced coffee in the past and it just didn’t turn out right; too watery, not enough flavour, somewhat lukewarm and the sugar still grainy at the bottom. Last summer, I finally found the right formula that lets me enjoy gourmet iced coffee without leaving the house: coffee ice cubes! They keep your coffee strong as they melt, so you can sip at your own pace with losing that bold delicious flavour.

Note: this requires freezing time, so plan it a day ahead

What you will need:
-Good quality strong coffee
-Espresso maker (I use a stovetop Bialetti: cheap and makes a strong cup) *If you don’t have an espresso maker, a strong batch of filtered coffee will do)
-Ice cube tray + freezer
coffeecollage
Directions: Make the coffee in the espresso maker as you normally would. Let it cool. Pour it into the ice cube tray and freeze it for several hours. One cup of coffee makes about 8 large/standard ice cubes. I used 4 ice cubes per serving.

When you want your coffee in the morning, heat some on the stove again. If you are adding sugar, put it in your glass and stir in a little bit of hot coffee so that it dissolves. Next, add the coffee ice cubes (as many as you can fit – I used 3 at first) and then add the rest of the coffee. Then one more ice cube (the others will start to melt). Stir carefully, add milk if you wish. Top with whip cream and cocoa powder if you’re feeling extra fancy. Enjoy!
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My favourite cappucino cookies

IMG_1711Come to think of it, I should just change the title to “My Favourite Cookies in the World”. Especially lately with all the spring rain. What’s better on a rainy day than drinking ridiculous amounts of coffee? The answer is eating coffee-flavoured cookies from Joy the Baker. Think of the best frappucino you’ve ever had, and then picture it in edible form.

I’ve made these more than any other cookie recipe, and usually like to freeze a portion of raw dough and save it for another day. Before you commit to making this amazing treat, just consider:
-This recipe requires a mixer (mine isn’t fancy, has no paddle attachment and does the trick just fine)
-You need to chill the dough for at least 45 minutes (I did it overnight)
-They taste best underbaked (10 minutes in the oven for a soft cookie)
-Make sure your espresso powder is well ground up (no chunks), either through a fine-mesh sieve or with the back of a spoon
-Do not forgo the parchment paper! Or grease the hell out of your baking pan. A burnt cookie is a sad cookie.

Here are Joy the Baker’s instructions paired with my (less pretty) photos:

Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons instant espresso or coffee powder
1 cup white chocolate chunks (chips are good too)

“Place racks in the center and upper third of the oven and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Set aside and we’ll preheat the oven after we chill the dough.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and instant espresso powder.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment, beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the butter mixture with a spatula.  Add the egg and egg yolk and beat on medium speed until mixture is fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes.  Beat in the vanilla extract. Stop the mixer and add the dry ingredients, all at once to the butter mixture.  Beat on low speed until just combined.  Stop the mixer, add the chocolate chunks and fold together with a  spatula until well combined.  Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 45 minutes.

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Into the fridge you go!

Just before you’re ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Scoop cookie dough by the heaping tablespoonful onto the prepared baking pans.  Bake for about 12 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges.  Remove from the oven, allow to cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.”

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DIY gift idea: baking mix in a jar

As promised, here is the DIY gift based on yesterday’s recipe. Whether you need a gift for a host, a friend who loves baked goods, or a person who is always on the run, I’m sure you know someone who would appreciate this.

You will need:
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup unrefined light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup dried, unsweetened, shredded coconut
1/2 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips Continue Reading ›

Super Energy Snack: Coconut oat chocolate chip granola bars

I’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time searching for the perfect homemade granola bar recipe. Ironic, isn’t it? I knew what I wanted: something chewy, with shredded coconut and chocolate chips, but that was still filling and gave me an energy boost, not just a sugar rush. Finally, I found it, and it all made sense: the recipe was made by one of the chefs who cooked for the employees at Google. Of course, they need brain food to stay energized and really really focused! But, um, don’t we all?

From personal experience, here are a few occasions where these bars have been shared and enjoyed: staff meetings, study sessions, after a workout, breakfast on the go, second breakfast, on road trips, satiating a cranky sibling during a long drive… I’ll stop there.  Try this one out, you’ll never want store-bought granola bars again.

**I always double the batch, because they keep well and always seem to go fast. If you want to try the original portion, see this source.

Coconut-Oatmeal Bars with Chocolate Chips
Makes 32 small squares
From “Food 2.0” (DK Publishing; $25) by Charlie Ayers

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cups rolled oats (I’ve been using quick oats without any issues)
1 cup unrefined light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 cup dried, unsweetened, shredded coconut
1 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
¾ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon natural vanilla extract

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Instructions (from Charlie Ayers): Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly oil and 9X13-inch square baking pan and set aside (I use virgin coconut oil).

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a mixing bowl. Stir in the oats, brown sugar, coconut, and chocolate chips. Stir together the melted butter, egg, and vanilla, then add to the flour mixture and stir until just blended. Avoid mixing more than needed. Transfer to the prepared pan and level the surface.

Bake until slightly risen, golden, and just firm to the touch, about 25 minutes. Put the pan on a rack and let cool before cutting into triangular or rectangular bars or squares.

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Enjoy! And see you tomorrow when I post a DIY craft somewhat related to this!

Salad Days: Crunchy Red Cabbage and Kale Slaw

I’m not the type of person who throws around terms like “detox” or “cleanse,” mainly because I don’t like doing things in extremes. But also because I know I won’t stick to something if it doesn’t make me happy or requires constant effort. I can get a load of groceries full of leafy green vegetables and have the best intentions (“green juice every day!” or “only plant-based meals this week!”), but when it comes down to scouring the fridge for a snack, the chances of me actually following through are slim.

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However, that process was made a little easier when came across Martha Stewart’s Red Cabbage and Kale Slaw. A hearty colourful salad that can live in the fridge for a few days, you say? And it’s easy to make? Simple 3-ingredient dressing? I’m in. Here’s my variation:

Dressing:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon apple-cider vinegar
Coarse salt and pepper

For the salad:
the juice of half a lemon
3 cups mixed shredded kale and red cabbage
1 carrot, shredded or julienned (use organic and you don’t have to peel it!)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves (or parsley if you prefer
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
handful of smoked almonds

squeeze half a lemon over the kale and red cabbage in a big bowl, sprinkle with some sea salt. While it soaks in, make the dressing:
Whisk olive oil, mustard, and apple-cider vinegar in a small bowl. Season with a bit of salt and pepper.
Add the shredded carrot, cilantro, pumpkin seeds and almonds to the kale-cabbage mixture and drizzle the dressing. Toss to coat, add more salt and pepper if needed. The dressing and lemon juice should soften the leaves, but it will still have a satisfying crunch.

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Cover up the leftovers and keep them in the fridge. Next time you’re rummaging for a snack, it’s there waiting for you.

Time-tested Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Alright guys, I know I’m not reinventing the wheel here. But I’m often asked for this recipe, and it’s pretty fool-proof, so I thought I’d share it and settle this for once and for all.

But first, here’s my ultimate time-saving tip: When you have bananas that are well-ripened, looking more brown than yellow, and you’re in denial about still eating them, put them in the freezer. This will put your mind at ease and they will keep for months.

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I first used this recipe almost a decade ago, but have changed it slightly over the years to reduce the sugar and fat content and it always turns out great. I mainly cut back on the butter and instead add a little yogurt and extra banana to keep it from being dry.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Ingredients:
¼ cup butter
¾ cup sugar (or you can even do ½)
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
¼ cup yogurt or sour cream (somewhat optional, it’ll still turn out if you don’t add them)
1 ½ to 2 cups mashed bananas (about 4-5 frozen bananas, depending on size)
2 cups flour (you can do 1 cup whole wheat, 1 cup all-purpose)
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips

optional:
¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
¼ cup chopped walnuts
¼ cup ground flax seeds
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds

I like a bit of texture in my bread, so I almost always add the coconut, walnuts and flax seeds. Feel free to experiment with other additions you may like, such as sunflower seeds or craisins.

Preparation (adapted from Mitzi)
Cream sugar and butter; beat in the mashed bananas, eggs, and vanilla.
Combine dry ingredients and stir into the first mixture just until moistened.
Fold in chocolate chips (and coconut, nuts, etc if you are using them) until well incorporated.
Pour batter into greased and floured 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Cover loosely with a tent of aluminum foil (very important so that it stays moist and doesn’t burn the top!). 

Bake at 325° for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for 40-45 minutes or until wooden pick inserted tests done.
Cool for 10 minutes, remove from pan and cool banana bread completely before slicing.

“It’s Almost Spring” Soup

Do your eating habits change in the winter? I always find myself craving warmer, more carb-filled meals covered in cheese. But then I usually feel so full and sluggish afterwards.  This week, my body was craving greens, but still wanted something warm and comforting. Since I’ve been on a major soup kick lately, I decided to try Ricardo’s Cream of Celery and Spinach Soup (no cream required). I adapted it slightly, and it turned out great nonetheless. It’s satisfying and leaves me with a clear conscience knowing I just ate a ton of vegetables. Goes great with a grilled cheese a whole wheat Panini-pressed turkey sandwich.

Cream of Celery and Spinach Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, halved and finely chopped
  • 
1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) butter
  • 
5 cups (1.25 litres) vegetable broth
  • 4 cups (1 litre) chopped celery
  • 1 potato, peeled and diced
  • 4 cups (1 litre) fresh spinach, chopped and big stems removed
  • Sea salt and pepper

PREPARATION (as per Ricardo)

  1. In a large saucepan, soften the onion, leeks and garlic in the butter.
  2. Add the broth, celery, and potato and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer gently for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

In a blender, purée the soup until smooth with the spinach (the heat from the soup is enough to soften it). I did this in 2 or 3 batches, trying to keep the same ratio of broth/veggies. Season with salt and pepper. Strain, if desired. (I did not strain and love how the texture turned out).

Distractions

Distractions… for once I need distractions. When faced with uncertainties, my mind often wanders to the darkest, most terrible scenarios. A constant loop of perpetual nonsense leading to zero gratification. In terms of staying busy, I’m trying to avoid the whole Netflix catatonia route. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love a good TV marathon, but I need something that leaves me feeling a little more accomplished. So, I bake. Baking gives me all the reassurance I need (or almost). There’s something reassuring in knowing that, even when life throws us its uncertainties, if you mix flour, butter, sugar and eggs, and bring it to a high temperature, you will get something fantastic. This time, I made Joy the Baker’s Grapefruit White Chocolate Brown Butter Cookies. That Joy Wilson, she knows what’s up. They are definitely unlike any other cookie I have made, and I was looking for something new. These cookies have a combination of buttery comfort, with an unexpected touch of citrus surprise to brighten up your winter.  I happened to have all the ingredients, so it was meant to be. If you are in need of a change from your regular chocolate chip, I recommend you try these. Here’s a tip I learned a while back and has saved me tons of time and energy: freeze your cookie dough! If you don’t need a few dozen cookies that day, save them for a later time. If you’re feeling really ambitious, double the batch. Here are my tips for freezing cookie dough:

  • once the dough is ready, roll them into little balls. I usually use the a measuring spoon as a scoop (the Tbs size)
  • place them on a plate or cookie sheet leaving space between each dough ball and put it in the freezer for about 20-30 minutes. This will keep them from sticking together.
  • once out of the freezer, transfer them into resealable bags. Press the air out of the bag to avoid freezer burn.
  • To bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 320 degrees, place them on a greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet, pop them in for 12 minutes (10 if I want a really soft cookie, and i usually do) and DONE! Little effort, great result.

photo 2-1 P.S.: for a little extra flavour power, I like to sprinkle on a little sea salt before baking.