Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Sweet Potato, Kale and Wheat Berry Citrus Buddha Bowls

My readers know that I'm a sucker for loaded salads, arranged salads and salad bowls. I particularly love the inclusion of whole grains, beans or the like in them. Have you heard of Buddha Bowls? A Buddha Bowl is, basically, a form of a loaded salad. It, typically, includes some type of cooked grain (or legume), lots of chopped vegetables, some greens of some sort, sometimes fruit and nuts/seeds. It's usually topped with a sauce or dressing. Basically, I've come to find that I can pretty much throw whatever wholesome foods and/or healthful leftovers that I have on hand together to create something magical. And, these types of all-in-one meals are perfect for those of us trying to be mindful of making healthy food decisions.

So many make majestic and often extreme resolutions at the start of each new year. For me, I have committed to simply eating more "intentionally" in 2017. It's not about dieting, restricting carbs, omitting sugar or cutting calories. Rather, I'm taking a more conscientious, vigilant approach to what I feed myself. I am pledging to eat more wholesome, "real" foods. And, I'm making more of an effort to include way, way more vegetables into every meal.

Working from home and living a busy life with kids means that a string cheese and a protein bar is often my lunch. While not entirely bad, it just doesn't provide me the nutrition that I know that I need on a daily basis. So, I've set out to be more thoughtful with what I consume ... taking time to meal prep for myself more and spending a little time making myself healthy meals - especially lunches since that meal is the one I find that I skip or skimp on the most.

Buddha Bowls are amazing for me. I just love how versatile they can be. And, I love how creative I can be when making them. This recipe is a good starting point if you're new to the BB game. I'd love to hear if you've tried making your own at home ... and what your favorite combination of ingredients/components is.

Yields 2 servings/bowls.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: Review and Reflection

As 2016 comes to a close, I'm reflecting back on the past twelve months. What a magnificent year for Joyously Domestic it has been! This past summer, I entered my fifth year blogging here at JD. I say it every year when I compose these end-of-the-year posts, but I truly am blown away that I get to make blogging my "work." I just love sharing my love of food with all of you guys and creating this community along the way. I've gotten to know so many awesome people and I'm just so thankful that this is the job that I get to do on a daily basis.

Below you'll find links to my top TEN recipe posts from 2016. I truly appreciate all of the comments and emails that so many of you provide when you've made one of my recipes. I just love getting feedback (even when some of it at times isn't particularly positive) from my readers. And, it's helpful for other visitors when feedback is given after you've tried a recipe. If you haven't already, check out the most-popular recipes from the past twelve months.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Cheese Tortellini Party Appetizer

Especially during the holidays, it seems that we're all looking for simple, no-fuss appetizers that go over well with a crowd and can even travel easily. This Cheese Tortellini Party Appetizer totally meets the criteria. Kids and adults alike enjoy these. And, they work great when you have a vegetarian in the mix. They can be served cold or at room temp. And, the sky is kinda the limit with regards to what you'd like to include. I like a mix of cheese chunks, olives and tomatoes with the tortellini.

Store-bought cheese tortellini (frozen or refrigerated) is used in this recipe. Just follow the package instructions regarding cooking. Be sure not to overcook them or they will fall apart when you try to skewer them. And, be sure to rinse them thoroughly under cold water after boiling to stop the cooking process immediately.

I dress my skewers with a good-quality bottled Italian-style vinaigrette. Of course, you could make something similar from scratch if you prefer. But, taking some help from the supermarket during the hectic holidays is a real timesaver.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Holiday Hot Cocoa Chocolate Stir Sticks

I'm always looking for fun, simple and unique DIY edible gifts during the holiday season. These Holiday Hot Cocoa Chocolate Stir Sticks totally fit the bill. They are inexpensive to make, fun to have the kids help with and make great little gifts. They'd be awesome tucked into a new Christmas mug along with a candy cane and a small packet of hot cocoa for gift-giving.

These little chocolate stirrers totally amp up the flavor and richness of a basic mug of hot cocoa ... the result is like, next level hot chocolate.

To put these together, you'll need an ice cube tray (I used a square-welled silicone one) or a mini muffin tin. You'll need, also, to decide on some type of "handle" to insert (I used striped paper straws that I cut in half). Popsicle sticks or lollipop sticks would work great, too.

Then, you'll melt down a bag of chocolate chips and spoon the melted chocolate into the tray wells. Once your "handle" is inserted, embellish with whatever you choose (crushed candy canes, chopped chocolate mints, sprinkles, finishing sugar, etc.) Once the chocolate hardens in the fridge or freezer, you're all set to serve them up or package for gifting.

If you look closely in the photo above, you'll notice that I placed one stirrer in a small, clear bag along with some mini marshmallows. I finished the package with some festive ribbon.

Note that the number of stir sticks you'll get will fully depend on the size of the wells of your ice cube tray or mini muffin tin. One twelve-ounce package of semi-sweet chocolate chips yielded twelve stir sticks in the tray that I used (size shown in photo above).

Monday, December 12, 2016

Holiday Gift Giving with UncommonGoods

It's such a fantastic, fulfilling feeling to find and give the perfect gifts to our loved ones during the holiday season. Something unique. Something memorable. Something that you just know suits them. Something they will cherish. And, something that will just make their eyes lights up.

Whether you're needing something special for the moms on your list, that crazy uncle of yours, your helpful neighbor or the hard-to-buy-for women in your life, one such company can help with all of your gift-giving needs.

I've partnered up this season with UncommonGoods, a company offering beautifully-designed, mostly-handcrafted and uniquely creative products. Based in Brooklyn, New York, UncommonGoods is an online marketplace that brings customers a vast array of fun, artisan items that are often made by hand and often crafted using recycled/upcycled materials. They meet a high standard on a number of issues - as a B Corporation - including environmental impact, wage levels and community involvement. You can read up on their history and story on their website.

From their Christmas Gift Collection, I've selected several products that I think you'll go crazy for. Take a look at what I'm showcasing here, but then hop on over to their site to browse through their entire selection of items that I'm sure will inspire you as you make your way through your list of gift recipients this year.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Roasted Spiced Pears and Cranberries

Pears are a favorite in our household. Any time I utilize them in my cooking and baking, I know I'll be in the good graces of my family. This recipe is one that takes little effort to prepare and only requires a handful of ingredients. The aromas that will fill your house while this is roasting are so cozy and delightful ... a truly intoxicating holiday scent.

Once roasted, the pears and cranberries can be served up with whipped cream or ice cream. They, also, can be mounted atop waffles, pancakes or oatmeal. (A good dusting of powdered sugar to top everything off once plated won't hurt anything either.)

And, to note ... even if you'd like to omit the cranberries, the roasted pears are fabulous all on their own. But, the cranberries do lend the perfect amount of tartness that really compliments the sweetness of the dish ... especially if pairing with sweet whipped cream or ice cream after cooking.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Simple Thirty-Minute Stovetop Vegetable Soup

Let's face it - most of us indulge a little too much during the holidays. Whether it's Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter, temptation in the form of potatoes, gravy, butter, pies, rolls, cakes, candies and carbs galore hit us from every angle. So, it's often nice to have some recipes in our arsenal that are quick to whip up and ones that fall a little more into the "healthful" category to make in the days that follow (ya know, once we've devoured all of the leftovers). This soup is one such recipe.

It's adapted from a Trisha Yearwood recipe that she featured awhile back on her cooking show. I was immediately drawn to it because it seemed incredibly easy to make, used just a handful of ingredients, was totally uncomplicated and wasn't a heavy, cream-based soup. Basically, some chicken broth, tomatoes, diced potatoes, garlic, onions, frozen veggies and seasoning come together on the stovetop in like, twenty-five minutes.

This soup is a great one to experiment with since the flavor profile is pretty basic. The recipe as written is awesome. But, if you'd like to play around with different herbs or seasonings, the sky really is the limit. I encourage you to maybe try it as-written, then go from there the next go-round. (I've used a slight sprinkling of Mrs. Dash's Original Blend seasoning a couple of times in this soup ... and have really come to love it that way.)

What you will find is that this is light and refreshing. Yes, as odd as it sounds, this soup is refreshing (as much as a soup can be, I suppose). It isn't heavy at all and due to the quick cooking time, the vegetables don't become mushy as often happens with longer-cooked soups.

In my house, we love this soup served with saltine crackers and a little shaved Parmesan on top just prior to serving.

Yields 6 servings.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Apple Cider Ginger Fizz Cocktail

Looking for a refreshing, fizzy drink to serve at your upcoming holiday gathering? I may just have you covered with my Apple Cider Ginger Fizz Cocktail. It is light, bubbly, bursting with seasonal flavors and comes together quickly. The adults at your party will thank you when you place one of these chilled, crisp drinks in their hands.

The recipe for these is quite easy and requires only a few ingredients. I recommend putting these together right when you're ready to serve them so that the ginger beer doesn't lose its effervescence. The real key to this recipe is to keep the apple cider and ginger beer very chilled right up until preparation of the drink. Ice cubes can be made the night before using apple cider instead of water, if desired. Doing so will ensure that the drink doesn't get watered down.

Garnish options can include thinly-sliced apples, cinnamon sticks, whole cranberries ... or all three together as I have done. I really encourage you to include the cinnamon sticks, however. When the drink is brought close to the nose while sipping, the scent of the cinnamon truly is unmatchable and really drives home the seasonal aspect of this drink.

If you wanted a little bit of a different hue, some cranberries could be "muddled" with a tiny bit of sugar in the bottoms of the glasses prior to adding the liquids.

Note that I tested this recipe with both bourbon and gin. Either works fabulously, so it's really just a matter of preference on your part.

Servings: 4

Monday, November 14, 2016

Sweet Spiced Pear & Brown Sugar Puff Pastry Tart

Keeping puff pastry on hand in the freezer is something that I recommend for every home cook. It's just so versatile and easy to use. It can be used to create both sweet and savory dishes. The puffy, flaky, buttery layers present so beautifully. And, the results are always delicious and crowd-pleasing. Guests think you've invested a great amount of time in preparation, but the truth is that working with store-bought puff pastry is almost effortless and very uncomplicated. With this recipe, I've taken a sheet of puff pastry, brushed it with perfectly-spiced and sweetened butter, lined it with thinly-cut pear slices and baked it to perfection.

Something truly magical happens during the baking process. The butter mixture becomes almost caramel-like, the pear slivers soften up beautifully, the juices from the pears slightly release to help flavor the tart and the dough puffs up all around the fruit so stunningly.

This can be enjoyed as a dessert or even with coffee in the morning. For dessert, I recommend serving this with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a dollop of whipped cream or even a light dusting of powdered sugar.

This would be a pretty dessert to grace your holiday table this year, too. And, know that you could easily make this into 4 - 6 individual tarts simply by cutting the pastry into small squares prior to topping and baking.

Note that the pear slices can be arranged however you prefer. You can do basic, straight lines of pears or switch it up and do a more-rustic, varying pattern as I have done.

Serves 4 - 6.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Lightened-Up Apple Crisp

With apple season in full swing recently, many of us look for ways to incorporate them into our cooking and baking. But, I, also, know that so many of us are trying to keep to a healthier lifestyle these days. Personally, I have been working lately to cut back on the amount of sugar in my daily diet. Here, I've taken apple crisp - a fall dessert that we all know and adore - and I've made it a bit more healthy. With just a couple of slight changes to my traditional recipe, I've managed to make apple crisp something that I don't feel as guilty about indulging in this time of year.

The changes aren't major ones. The end result is still something that we're all familiar with ... I promise. Basically, I've lessened the amount of sugar to both the filling and topping (about a third less compared to my traditional recipe), swapped in some orange juice and coconut oil for the butter component of the crumbly topping and amped up the warm, autumnal spices for this version.

My husband and I actually found that we preferred this rendition since so many apple crisps can be cloyingly sweet. All of the satisfaction was still there, but with a little less guilt.

Of course, serving it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream is totally up to you. (Swoon!) But, if you'd like to stay on course with the healthy vibe we've got going here, you could opt for a low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt or a small dollop of low-fat Greek yogurt. (FYI:  I like mine with just a tiny splash of heavy cream.)

NOTE: I prefer a combination of both sweet and tart apples for apple crisp.