Sweet and Savory Chocolate Bark

Today’s post is brought to  you by Parks & Recreation, which sadly exited the TV world last week.  I’m always sad when such a good show ends its run.  My first real brush with TV cancellation was Gilmore Girls.  I held a finale viewing party complete with pepperoni pizza and probably Twizzlers in champagne flutes, because that was a thing I was into during high school.

giphy-2

Before I get too far into this post I have to admit that I have not watched this season yet.  It’s Tuesday airing conflicts with other shows, and I never started catching up, and then due to the not catching up I was something like seven or eight episodes behind when I finally CONSIDERED catching up.  Ridiculous.

giphy-3

Naturally I read up on the finale, though, because I am the worst at not only reading spoilers but sometimes actively seeking them out, and just the EW recap gave me all the feels.  I loved the show for six seasons, and I can’t wait to dive into the seventh over spring break and do all sorts of ugly crying before going back and rewatching my favorite Ben and Leslie moments.

giphy-5

These goobers.  I love this show for a lot of reasons, but I will forever adore it for bringing the magnificent character of Leslie Knope into our lives.  While she certainly has her flaws, she also has a laundry list of positive attributes that I think makes her one of the most relatable, inspirational, and role-model-worthy characters on television.  She’s ambitious.  She’s caring.  She’s loyal.  She wears the crap out of a pantsuit.  We could do with a few more Leslie Knopes in the world.

giphy-6

In honor of this delightful show and its energetic leader I bring you this chocolate bark.  Leslie Knope would approve of this because is loaded with sugar and love.  I mean it.  This was originally a Valentine Day recipe made in tiny heart shaped tins with red and pink sprinkle and M&Ms.  Naturally, I couldn’t find any of these, so I went the less festive route.  It doesn’t make them any less tasty, though!  This chocolate bark has a layer of potato chips in the middle, which lends a nice salty bite.  Make this for your next party or just for your yourself!  I know I enjoyed more than a few!

Sweet and Savory Chocolate Bark

1604482_10153045762415056_5862409193157712308_n-2

Ingredients

2 cups white chocolate

3 tsp vegetable oil

m&ms

sprinkles

crinkle cut sea salt potato chips, crushed

1 mini cupcake pan

Directions

In a microwave safe bowl, melt the white chocolate.  Add the vegetable oil and stir until smooth.

While the chocolate is melting, put a few m&ms and sprinkles in the bottom of each mini cupcake mold.  When the chocolate is ready, pour in enough to cover the candy.  Add the chips.  Fill the rest of the mold with chocolate.

Let cool completely and then pop out your candies!

Source:  www.mrspotter.com

BBQ Roasted Chickpeas

My coffee cup completely missed my mouth this morning and I got coffee down my shirt.  So, that’s how today is shaping up.  On to these chickpeas.  Because they are wonderful, and if it was possible to marry an inanimate object I would marry these chickpeas.  If you’re looking at your screen with that Liz-be-tripping-again look on  your face, I have only one word to say to you.  Okay, I have several.  Spicy.  Smoky.  Crunchy.  Or, as I just improperly spelled that last one, CHRUNCHY.

These chickpeas are perfect in every single way.  They’re good as a snack.  They’re good tossed in a salad.  They’d probably be good in some fusion taco, but I didn’t try that and therefore cannot speak to its actual merits.  But, THERE ARE SO MANY OPTIONS.  I finished the batch and immediately wanted to make a new one.  Try these, guys.  You will not regret it!

BBQ Roasted Chickpeas

2015-01-24 02.08.04

Ingredients

1 tbsp smoked paprika

1 tbsp onion powder

1 1/2 tsp light brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp garlic salt

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 can chickpeas, washed and drained

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

Preheat an oven to 425 degrees.

Pat your chickpeas dry.  Mix the spices together and set aside.  Mix together the chickpeas, oil, and 3/4 of the spice mix.  Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, toss with a spatula or wooden spoon, and bake for another 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and add more of the spice mixture until you have your desired potency of spiciness.

And, enjoy!

Source:  Seriously Delish

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Overnight Oats

I’ve taken up the very bad habit of the snooze button. I’ve always done it, but typically I’d snooze for ten maybe twenty minutes at the max, and I’d be good. I actually built snooze time into when I woke up to allow what always felt like a luxurious extra few minutes of sleep. Well, lately it’s been a lot more than ten minutes. It’s never made me late for school or work, but I know it’s just a matter of time. So, starting tomorrow morning I am going to try not to hit the snooze at all. According to a very trustworthy source (cough…Google…cough) it takes twenty one days to set a habit.

giphy

You might have noticed that I am only posting once a week over here. I was reluctant to drop down to once a week, but with school and my new job doing more than that is just too difficult. Also, I feel like it gives readers more time to actually view the post. It’s up all week, so you guys have seven whole days to catch it!

200-1

 

Sorry for this being a day late, by the way. I was wrapped up in cleaning and cooking for my Valentine’s Day party and then Sunday I had the worst junk food hangover, which led to heartburn/stomachaches so bad that I almost went to our health center yesterday. I learned the very important lesson that buffalo wild wings, champagne, candy, and potato chips are not a good combination for me. No, they are not.

giphy-2

Despite it being Fat Tuesday, I’m trying to eat healthy. Call it absolving for my weekend sins. Call it not wanting to writhe in pain all day. I DO have a fun recipe for you, though! I’m sure you are all familiar with Chocolate Covered Katie, and while I don’t make her recipes particularly often, I do like her breakfast offerings. When I saw these overnights oats, I knew I had to make them. I think a scaled down batch of these would be perfect for dessert!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Overnight Oats

2015-01-30 22.54.02

Ingredients

1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup milk (any type will do!)
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp mini chocolate chips

Directions

Combine the first four ingredients in a bowl and let chill in a refrigerator for several hours. If you’re making this for breakfast, I’d recommend chilling overnight. When you are ready to eat, add the chocolate chips, stir, and enjoy!

Source: Chocolate Covered Katie

Mexican Cauliflower Soup

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that this is the first time I have ever used cauliflower in soup.  Besides roasting it, cauliflower has never been something I used really often in cooking.  Last week, though, I was eating leftover chicken tortilla soup and came to the illuminating conclusion that I don’t really like chicken.

giphy

I know, you’re thinking of all those chicken chili recipes that I posted this winter.  I didn’t hate it in all those, but I was actively picking around the chicken in the chicken tortilla soup to get to the all the vegetables.  Naturally, I thought to myself: why don’t you make chicken tortilla soup without the chicken?  For some reason, the first vegetable I thought to add was cauliflower!  I love the texture cauliflower adds to the soup.  The smaller pieces are almost like rice.  It also adds body to what could be an otherwise light vegetable soup.

2015-02-08 03.31.53

I liked to serve this alongside a quick quesadilla, or just a flour tortilla.  You could do a salad, but I personally think the soup is filled with enough veggies, so you can splurge a bit on the side!  Like most soups, it gets better while it sits.  One thing to note is that the vegetables absorb a lot of the broth when it’s in the refrigerator.  If you like a really soup-y soup, I would add a bit more broth.

Mexican Cauliflower Soup

2015-02-08 03.31.29

1 tbsp olive oil

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 celery ribs, diced

1 green pepper, seeded and chopped

1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into small florets

1 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp cumin

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

pinch red pepper flakes

4 cups broth

14 oz can Rotel diced tomatoes with green chiles

4 oz can green chiles

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

Directions

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat.  Add all of the vegetables and cook until tender, 8-10 minutes.  Add the spices and mix to combine.  Pour in the broth, diced tomatoes, green chiles, and black beans.  Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Cook for 15-20 minutes.

No Packet Turkey Tacos

I took a week off from here and now feel all fresh and renewed!  Okay, that’s a lie.  I actually took a week off because I’m adjusting to my new schedule which includes a part-time job (yay money!) and a class load that is way too heavy considering I only need eleven credits to graduate.  But, let’s be real, I’m physically incapable of not taking on too many things, so…YOLO?

My new schedule means I have to do most of my early week work over the weekend.  I make these really anal retentive lists on Friday and write down every little thing I have to do.  These past two weekends I’ve been successful in getting about 80% of the list completed.  I’d get to 100% if it weren’t for Netflix.  Oh, Netflix.  Lately I’ve been working my way through Parenthood and crying all over the place.  I cry at the happy stuff.  I cry at the sad stuff.  I cry at the really corny stuff because even though it’s ridiculous I’ve become too invested in these characters and basically have no control over my tear ducts.

Speaking of Parenthood, I came across the lead actress Monica Potter’s website (mrspotter.com) and am sort of obsessed with it.  The website is filled with recipes, cleaning tips, and DIY projects.  There also is a skincare/kitchen line for sale there!  It is an absolute playground for anyone who has the nesting bug like me and I bet if you visit the website you will find yourself losing an hour or two.  I’ve already made a few of her recipes, as well as her DIY winter skin balm which I promptly spilled all over my counter.  These tacos are from there, and oh my word, do I love them.  The best thing about them is that they literally take 10 minutes.  As long as you have your taco fixing all ready, you just cook up the meat and have a quick and healthy dinner ready to go!

No Packet Turkey Tacos

IMG_0501

Ingredients

1 lb ground turkey

2 tbsp chili powder

2 tbsp cumin

1 tbsp onion powder

1 tbsp garlic powder

pinch red pepper flakes

3 tbsp water

Directions

Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Add the turkey, breaking up as it browns.  When it is fully cooked, remove the turkey and drain any drippings.  Return the turkey to the skillet and add the water and spices.  Stir until fully incorporated.  Spoon into taco shells and top with taco fixings of your choice!

Source:  Mrs. Potter

Chicken Enchilada Chili

Are you sick of soup yet?  I’m not.  I should rename this blog Tip Top SOUP.  Not really.  That would be an awful blog name.  I actually considered changing my blog name recently because this blog started as a healthy living blog and then turned into, well, this blog.   But then every name I came up with turned out to already be a blog, and I eventually ran out of food puns.

So, Tip Top Shape it is.

Yesterday was my first day of classes for the semester (also my LAST first day of school…weird) and I got to school around 8:45 for my morning class.  Naturally, I ran into one of my friends whose first words to me were, “What are you doing here?”

Considering we both had the same 9:00 class I told him, “I’m going to that class we have together.”

After much confusion it turned out the class was moved to 12:30.  Which meant I was at school at 8:45 in the morning for absolutely no reason.  Luckily I brought some reading to do, so I went to the clinic office and weirded everyone out by eating my kale salad lunch at 10:40.

The moral of this story is that you should re-check your class times before you schlepp over to the school early in the morning.  Also, bring more snacks.  And eat this soup that I have failed to mention previously.

This is usually the part where I would go into explaining the soup, but frankly, it’s 7:23 in the morning and I have to get dressed for class still AND drink my vat of coffee.  So, I’ll just tell you that if you follow the original recipe this soup is an absolute cheese-palooza (so much cheese, guys!!!) and you’d be silly not to eat it.

The end.

Chicken Enchilada Chili

IMG_0403

Ingredients

2 tbsp butter

1 onion, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

2 tbsp flour

2 cups chicken broth, low sodium if possible

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup frozen corn

1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, preferably fire roasted

1 10 oz can red enchilada sauce

2 10 oz cans green enchilada sauce

3/4 cup cheddar cheese (if you want to follow the original recipe use 1 cup of cheddar and 1 cup of jack)

1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast

salt

tortilla chips, for topping

Directions

Heat the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add the onion and green pepper, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the flour and stir for one minute.

Stir in the chicken broth, whisking as you go to break up any clumps.  Add the black beans, corn, diced tomatoes, and enchilada sauces.  Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.  Cook uncovered for 15 minutes.

Stir in the cheese and chicken.  Cook until the cheese has melted and your chicken is cooked through, about 3 minutes.  Season to taste with the salt.

Source:  Slightly adapted from Heat Oven to 350

Spicy Chicken Tortilla Soup

I drove back to Champaign for my last semester of law school yesterday and did the miraculous task of actually unpacking all of my suitcases right when I got them inside.  If this does not mean I am becoming an adult, I don’t know what does.  I’ve been known to live out of suitcases for a good week or so, but I was determined to not live like a backpacker in my own apartment.

It may have helped that I was having company over.  And by may, I mean it really, really helped.  Nothing kicks you into cleaning gear than knowing people other than yourself and your Netflix account will be in your apartment.  While, admittedly, the cleaning was a lot of throw-this-in-the-closet-until-later (which, let’s be honest, we’ve all done) my apartment DOES look super clean.  It’s amazing how much larger an apartment looks when there isn’t random crap everywhere.  I can actually see the floor!  And see how much it needs to be vacuumed!

I was going to make a soup for my friends but I ended up going the risotto route.  It was pretty delicious, if I do say so myself – I DO – and you can expect that recipe later this week!  Today you are getting this soup.  Which, isn’t the one I was going to make.  This soup really has nothing to do with anything I just made you read through, but it’s good!  I promise!  Shredded chicken gets spicy – literally – with some diced tomatoes, black beans, carrots, and green chiles.  It’s the perfect antidote to cold winter weather.

Spicy Chicken Tortilla Soup

IMG_0395

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts, cooked and shredded

2 tbsp olive oil

1 red onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tbsp chili powder

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp salt

8 cups chicken broth

1 4 oz can diced green chilis

1 cup hominy (if you cannot find this just omit)

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed

1 14 oz can fired roasted diced tomatoes

juice of 2 limes

cheddar cheese for serving

Directions

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large soup pot.  Add the onion and cook until softened, about five minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Mix in the chili powder and cumin.

Pour in the chicken stock and diced tomatoes, hominy, black beans, green chiles, shredded chicken, and salt.  Bring to a boil.  Cook for 45 minutes.  Finish off with a squeeze of lime juice!

Source:  Slightly adapted from Eat, Live, Run

Bruschetta with Tomato, Parsley, and Fontina

These pictures are terrible.  I am really sorry.  Next week I am back at school with my nice camera and this can actually look like a somewhat reputable food blog again.  Anyhoo, the food.  Let’s talk about food.

I really like bruschetta.  I serve it a lot at dinners because it’s quick to put together and nice to nosh on when I am predictably running fifteen minutes behind.  I went through a large pureed topping streak – think eggplant and cannelinis or chickpeas with sundered tomatoes – but there really is nothing better than the traditional chopped tomato version.  There’s a reason it’s a classic.

My go-to is tomato, cucumber, and basil but I was working out of my pantry and only had the tomatoes.  Luckily, I had some other odds and ends in my refrigerator from other recipes, and ended up coming up with something pretty delicious.  I paired the chopped tomatoes with parsley, fontina cheese, and a tart balsamic vinaigrette.  They’re still traditional Italian flavors, but a step away from what I usually make.  I liked this so much that I may actually swap it out for my usual bruschetta!

Bruschetta with Tomato, Parsley, and Fontina

IMG_0435

Ingredients

8 slices of a french baguette

2 tomatoes, seeded and diced

1 ounce fontina cheese, diced

parsley, minced

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp olive oil

pinch of salt/pepper

Directions

Turn the broiler on.  Lay the bread out on a baking dish and brush with oil.  Broil until the bread has turned golden, about 5 minutes.

In a small bowl whisk together the vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper.  Taste the vinaigrette and add more salt/pepper as needed.  Toss the tomatoes, parsley, and fontina with the vinaigrette.

Carefully top the bread slices with the tomato mixture and serve.

IMG_0436

Source:  Loosely adapted from The Tucci Kitchen

Lemon Turkey Soup with Spaghetti

We made a large turkey dinner for New Years, and afterwards we were left with a good portion of the seventeen pound bird.  In an effort to help my family eat lighter, I offered to repurpose some of the turkey into healthy dinners.  My first inkling was for a turkey salad (like a chicken salad!) with toasted almonds and dried cranberries, but my dad probably would have considered that “woman food” so I went the soup route instead.

I won’t go into soup talk, because we all know how much I love it, but I WILL say that this was a rousing success.  People had seconds, which is pretty much the best compliment a cook can get.  The cool thing about this soup is the cheese gives the broth an almost creamy consistency.  To make this healthier, feel free to cut back on the cheese.  Honestly, I wasn’t measuring and I think I used less than a cup but it still created a really nice consistency.  Also, I’d recommend reduced sodium broth.  And, of course, always feel free to add more green stuff to the soup!  I think some spinach would have gone really nicely with this.

Lemon Turkey Soup with Spaghetti

IMG_0438

Ingredients

6 cups of turkey broth

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

2 carrots, thinly sliced

1/2 onion, chopped

1 celery stalk, thinly sliced

2 cups of white turkey meat, diced

1/2 cup broken spaghetti, other small pasta

1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced

1 cup romano cheese

salt/pepper

Directions

Bring the lemon juice and broth to a boil.  Add the onion, celery, and carrot.  Cook until the vegetables are tender, around 8-10 minutes.  Add the broken spaghetti and cook according to package instructions.  In the last two minutes of the spaghetti cooking time, add the turkey and heat through.

Add the romano cheese and parsley, and stir.  Season to taste with salt/pepper.

Source:  Giada’s Weeknight Meals

Kale Salad with Orange-Maple Vinaigrette

This was one of those salads where I threw a bunch of stuff together from my refrigerator and magic happened.  I mean it.  Magic.  Because that is the only way to describe how so many different ingredients come together to make such a perfect dish.

The tart kale is tempered by the almost buttery vinaigrette and sweet creamy sweet potatoes.  Roasted brussels sprouts lend a necessary crunch.  Diced turkey gives you a protein fix.  Magic, I tell you.

My Hogwarts letter is probably on its way.

PtmDCXF

A quick note for kale.  Most of you are probably super kale-experienced, but for any of my readers who have steered clear from the leafy green for whatever reason, make sure you massage the kale in the vinaigrette long enough.  Again, for kale neophytes, that probably sounds super weird.  But massaging the kale helps the tough leaves break down and make it less like garnish and more like the delicious badass super food it is.  So, massage the crap out of that kale!

Kale Salad with Orange-Maple Vinaigrette

IMG_0434

Ingredients

For the greens

1 bunch of kale, destemmed and torn into bite size pieces

1/4 lb brussels sprouts, cleaned and quartered

Turkey breast or turkey lunch meat, diced (use however much you like, I tend to err on less)

For the sweet potatoes

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes

4 tbsp butter

1 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp maple syrup

squeeze of fresh orange juice

For the vinaigrette

3 tbsp cup apple cider vinegar

1 tsp grated orange zest

2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

2 tsp dijon mustard

2 tbsp maple syrup

salt/pepper

2/3 cup olive oil

Directions

For the sweet potatoes

Simmer the sweet potatoes until tender.  Drain the water.  In a sauce pan over medium heat, combine the butter, maple syrup, and brown sugar.  Add the sweet potatoes and toss to combine.  Remove from heat.

For the brussels sprouts

Use the roasting instructions in my pan-seared brussels sprouts with bacon.

For the vinaigrette

Whisk together the vinegar, mustard, orange zest, orange juice, and maple syrup.  Slowly pour the olive oil in, mixing continuously.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

For the salad

Massage the kale with the vinaigrette for a few minutes, until the kale has broken down a bit.  Add the rest of the ingredients and toss!

Note:  Other really delicious mix-ins here would be dried cranberries, chopped apples, chopped pears, toasted nuts, quinoa, or farro.  Don’t be afraid to use your imagination!

Source:  Vinaigrette from Ina Garten.