Beet-dyed devilled eggs

IMG_7997 (1)If you’re celebrating Easter this weekend, I hope it’s a good one!
As an easy appetizer that’s always a crowd-pleaser, I made some devilled eggs. I dyed them in beet juice to add some extra colour to the dish. I love the result!
There are many ways to do this, and I feel like they all work. I boiled a pot of beets the day before, removed the beets and saved the pink water.  Once my eggs were hard-boiled and peeled, I just put them in the pot of pink water (made sure they were covered) and added 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar to it. About an hour later, the dye had sunk in. Perfect for Easter, but I think I’d make this at any point during the year for a potluck or a dinner.

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Galentine’s Day Jam and Nutella Straws

I’m so happy that we live in a time where we can take a holiday (that is normally exclusive and can be a bummer to many) and turn it into something fun, lady-positive, and delicious. Kudos to Leslie Knope and the writers of Parks and Rec for making it a thing.  For tomorrow’s Galentine’s Day Brunch, I made these puff pastry straws. Super easy to put together, yet decadent enough for a special occasion. Definitely go well with too much coffee and awesome friends. Original recipe from Sprinkle Bakes.
IMG_79381 package puff pastry (2 sheets)

1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam

Flour for dusting

Powdered sugar for sprinkling

“Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment and set aside.” Personal tip: use cooking spray on top of the parchment to avoid peeling jam-encrusted pastry bits later on.

Allow puff pastry to thaw as directed on the package.  Dust work surface with flour and lightly dust rolling pin with flour. Roll out puff pastry until about 2″ larger on each side.  Cut crosswise into two rectangles.

Heat 1/4 cup of jam in microwave for 15-20 seconds, just enough to loosen the consistency.

With a pastry brush, coat one piece of puff pastry with half the jam.  Cover jam-coated piece with the remaining plain piece of puff pastry and gently roll together with rolling pin – not too hard, or your jam will squish out.”

strawsSlice into long strips and twist, then place on parchment lined pan.   Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool before removing from the pan.  Sprinkle generously with powdered sugar.

IMG_7904“Repeat process with second sheet of puff pastry.”  For added variety, I used Nutella diluted with a bit of melted butter on the second batch. Thanks, Sprinkle Bakes!

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3 Spooky Cocktails for Halloween

halloween cocktails littlekokomo.comI tend to believe there are 2 types of people in the world: Christmas* people and Halloween people (* read: Holiday). I’m definitely one of the latter, so I like to go all out for this time of year. I like to cram in as many horror movie nights, costume parties, Rocky Horror Picture Show outings as I can.  Last year I found two great Halloween-themed drinks on the web, so I decided to share them, as well as an easy classic option. Apologies for the low-quality instagram pictures! please check the original recipes so they get full credit!

halloween cocktails littlekokomo.comEyeball Punch
A clear punch bowl is great for showing off the eyeballs, but putting them into individual glasses works well too.
Spooky factor: 5/5
Effort level: Moderate, depending on how available canned lychees are
Tastes like: a light, fruity and refreshing summer drink.
See full recipe here

halloween cocktails littlekokomo.comDark and Stormy
When you’re short on time/lazy/want to get straight to the point, the trusty Dark and Stormy is always a crowd pleaser. Make sure to get ginger beer, and not ginger ale to get that extra bite (they sell this brand at walmart, but the artisanal ones are great if you can find them). Don’t skip the lime juice! substituting it with lemon just doesn’t do it, in my opinion.
Spooky factor: 0 but add a gummy worm and it becomes a 2/5!
Effort level: Easy. Easy like Sunday morning
Taste like: a good ginger candy, nice and spicy
See full recipe herehalloween cocktails littlekokomo.comShrunken Heads in Cider
Find a nice big pot to serve it in. The more it looks like a cauldron, the better.  I found it worked best by placing it somewhere convenient with a ladle and having guests serve themselves, so that they get to see the “shrunken heads” you spent so much time prepping and carving.
Spooky factor: 4/5
Effort level: Very High. Takes about 2 hours with baking time, so not something you can do last-minute.
Tastes like: Apple pie. It’s so damn good! Anyone who loves fresh apple cider will really enjoy this.
See full recipe here 

Potato chips dipped in chocolate + toffee bits

chocolate dipped chips littlekokomo.com

I swear I’ll post something healthy soon, but for now let’s just indulge ok? Besides, these guys are meant to be shared and savoured, so portion size is very much under control here. I saw this a while ago on Joy the Baker, and decided to take it to the next level by adding bits of Skor toffee on top. Toffee bits are pretty much crack for someone with a sweet tooth, by the way.
IMG_6923Here’s what i used: 
-1/2 a bar of dark chocolate broken into small chunks. Chocolate chips could work too.
-about 2 handfuls of Ruffles regular potato chips (try to get a bag that hasn’t been crushed)
-Skor Toffee bits
-a drop of vanilla (optional)
-a tsp of coconut oil (optional)
-parchment paper
-a small pot and bowl to fit in it
chups1chocolate dipped chips littlekokomo.comPour some water into the pot, about 1/4 full. Add the bowl (metal or glass) on top, creating a bain-marie (a.k.a. double boiler). Add the chocolate pieces, turn the heat on low and stir frequently. This method is key for melting the chocolate without burning the bottom. Once melted, add the vanilla and coconut oil, stir. Carefully dip chips and place them on parchment paper, adding the toffee bits while the chocolate sets. You can put them in the fridge for 15 minutes or so, just not too long or the chips will start to get soggy. Enjoy (in moderation!), xo.
chocolate dipped chips littlekokomo.com

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 ›

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.