Wednesday, February 27, 2013

WIAW #46

Happy What I Ate Wednesday!

I'm going to keep this post short and sweet, thanks to feeling under the weather with a horrible migraine. :(

I wasn't very hungry after a tough Crossfit wod, but knew I had to eat something to repair those muscles! So breakfast was pretty light, consisting of egg whites and grapefruit with a mug of green tea. 

My mom had roasted up three chickens on Sunday for family dinner. I snagged some leftovers to toss into a homemade veggie soup, filled with lots of carrots, celery, onions, zucchini, and garlic. Yum! Made a great lunch and dinner. 

Told ya it'd be short this week! ;)

But in an effort to not leave ya hanging - check out these past couple posts for some good stuff!

Paleo Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Ganache

More Africa Peeks!

Enjoy! :D

Monday, February 25, 2013

Africa, more peeks

When I'm not reading food blogs and magazines, I'm checking out travel-related ones. Boy, do I envy some of these travel bloggers who get paid/sponsored to travel - how cool is that?! Very jealous. ;)

I've come across this short picture survey on a few of those blogs and I decided to do my own version of it, using my Africa pictures. I promised another update about the trip and so, here's a little bit more about it!

A photo that…takes my breath away 
Beside the fact that I'd never even been to such a large waterfall, it was a childhood dream of mine to see Victoria Falls. I couldn't believe I was actually seeing the falls with my own eyes. And that the rainbow really was there. I definitely had a grin on the whole time we were there. Blown away!

A photo that…makes me laugh or smile 
My babe and I, hanging out on the back of a truck heading to the Okavango Delta. This was the first thing that went right since our trip started two days earlier! Two of our buses broke down those first few days, we missed going to Khama Rhino Sanctuary, and got into camp super late the night before. Wary smiles as we're hoping this truck doesn't break down on us too!

A photo that…makes me dream 
This was taken in the Okavango Delta. Seriously, to think that I was staying thousands of miles away from home, hundred miles from civilization, in the African bush, in a tent - well, it was mind blowing.  For once, the present was all that mattered because we had no idea what was going on anywhere else in the world. Its hard to find that level of remoteness. 

Tie: the night sky in Zimbabwe. Unfortunately, I lack the necessary photo equipment to ever capture a photo like that. But take my word for it, it was amazing. You could see layers upon layers of stars and the Milky Way. They were so bright and felt so close. I wish the night sky was like that around here; one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. (It was like THIS, but even better!)

A photo that…makes me think 
The Great Zimbabwe Ruins in Masvingo. The 11th century fort was constructed without the use of any mortar - these walls are purely stone. How in the world did the ancient people build this? They had mad skills.

A photo that…makes my mouth water 
Freshly slaughtered goat, grilled over the fire. While in the Okavango Delta, the locals got us a goat for dinner, which they brought to us via mokoro...alive. A few of us watched while the goat was killed and prepared. Yes, it was a little bit brutal but actually very interesting to watch - particularly while they skinned it. And very few parts went to waste.

A photo that…tells a story 
At Antelope Park in Gweru, I met an elephant. She was super talented and could salute, kick a ball, and let us sit on her back. This is me giving her reward of dried corn kernels. I was carefully pouring them into her trunk when she started grabbing me with it! It was the strangest sensation to watch this crazy trunk grabbing at your hand and certainly something I didn't think would ever happen to me. 

A photo that…I am most proud of (aka my worthy of National Geographic shot)
Up close with a lioness, also in Gweru. A small group of us walked with two lionesses as they're learning how to stalk and hunt - t was really cool watching them do their thing. (And we actually saw them kill an impala on a nighttime game drive.) Lions sleep most of the day, so they quickly lay down to rest and we got a photo op and to pet them. SO cool!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Paleo Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Ganache

Oh yes, you read that correctly: paleo cake and ganache!

Woo-hoo! That's reason enough to celebrate, am I right? But birthdays, holidays, and Sundays also lend themselves nicely to cakes. So get baking, cave people. ;)

Paleo Vanilla Cake
recipe from The Urban Poser

1/2 cup and 2 teaspoons coconut flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 large eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup raw honey
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1. Preheat the oven to 350*. Line an 8x8 pan with foil and then grease the foil with some extra coconut oil.
2. Whisk together coconut flour, baking soda, and salt.
3. Separate 2 of the eggs, whites in one bowl and yolks in another. Add the remaining 3 eggs to the bowl with the yolks. 
4. With a hand mixer, beat the coconut oil, honey, vanilla, and lemon juice together. Mix in the dry ingredients and mix until well combined. In 3 batches, add the eggs (not the 2 separated whites) and incorporate completely.
5. In a small bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold gently into the batter.
6. Pour batter into prepared pan and back for 30 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Coconut flour (and other paleo flours) can burn quickly so keep an eye on it towards the end.
7. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes or so, then carefully invert onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

This cake had pretty much the same texture as "normal cakes," though perhaps a bit denser. Though we ate it from the fridge, which might have contributed to this. Either way, it is a sturdy cake ready and waiting for some frosting! So here we go...

Paleo Chocolate Ganache
recipe slightly adapted from Elana's Pantry

1 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt

1. In a small saucepan, combine the chocolate chips and coconut oil. Melt together over very low heat.
2. Stir in vanilla and salt and it will start to thicken up.
3. Pour into a glass liquid measuring cup and stick in the fridge for 20 minutes or so to cool.
4. Place (cooled) cake on wire rack and pour the ganache on top. Smooth with an offset spatula, if necessary.

This ganache was SO good on it's own! I might have definitely licked the bowl, though dipping fruit in it would be a good idea too. On cake, it was excellent! As I mentioned before, we stored the cake in the fridge and the ganache really hardened up - so keep that in mind if that's not your desired effect.

Also, Elana has directions to whip the mixture after it cools bit to achieve a most frosting-like texture. I haven't tried that method yet, but let me know if you do/have! 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Scott's Pizza Tours

This post is very delayed in being written, as I went on this tour in the fall of 2011. Yep, I'm a slow poke blogger.

In any case, ever since I'd heard about Scott's Pizza Tours, I'd been dying to hit up New York City for a tour. Between my love of pizza and being a big of food tours, this was a must! Food tours are super fun because you get to eat (!!!), you'll try places you might have missed on your own, and you have an experienced guide leading you around.

Scott was an amazing tour guide! Aside from being very friendly and organized, he was the biggest pizza geek I've ever met...and I mean that in a good way. ;) Any question you might have had about pizza - about the ovens, kinds of flour used in the crust, prep methodology, etc - he could answer. Scott certainly knows his way around a slice.

So where did we end up on our tour? Grab your pizza journal and let's check it out:

Stop #1 was Keste, home of an official Neapolitan pizza. Straight from their website: "It is also the official location in the USA for APN (Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani whose mission is to protect and preserve the Neapolitan pizza tradition and promote the art of pizza making. The organization also certifies professional pizza makers in the tradition of Neapolitan Pizza." 

Needless to say, I was super excited to try their pizza. And it did not disappoint! The Margherita was easily one of the best slices I've ever had.

We got super lucky and got to try a slice of Mast'nicola too, which is topped with pecorino romano, basil, and lardo. Also amazing! 

From there, stop #2 was just across the way at John's of Bleecker Street. It is one of the oldest pizzerias in NYC! 

Here we chowed down on a cheesy slice... 

and admired some of the celebrity photos.

Oh hey, Billie Joe!

Scott Ian! \m/

Our last stop was a short walk away so we had some time to digest before digging into our last slice. Stop #3 was at Famous Ben's Pizza of Soho

There pizza was vastly different from the previous slices. Their specialty is Sicilian-style square pizza. Check out this big guy:

It was pretty good, though I'm definitely more of a thin-crust gal. But this is a great example of why food tours rock. I probably wouldn't have tried Ben's pizza on my own, but definitely glad I got the chance to with Scott.

If you are a pizza fan and are visiting NYC, don't miss this! My best friend and I had a total blast and I'm even hoping to do it again. Each tour is different (and he also offers longer bus tours) so you never know where you'll end up...except for full!

Still hungry? Check out part one and two of my Boston's Back Bay Chocolate Tour!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

WIAW #45

So, paleo update that I'm sure no one has been holding their breath about but that I feel the need to share: Since I got home from my trip, I've still been eating mostly paleo. During the week, I definitely cook paleo. It's annoying because eating paleo really does makes me feel better but man, oh man is it hard sometimes when I just want something smothered in cheese. (Nom nom nom!)

Anyway, so while I'm all cavewoman during the week, I've been a bit more lenient on the weekends, allowing some indulgences. This new "system" has been a good balance for now - I just gotta remember not to go too crazy on the weekends! ;) Life is far too short to forgo everything that I enjoy eating.

Thankfully, bacon is one of my "paleo-okay" foods (yes, always up for debate in paleo circles but no, I will never give it up) because it snuck into two different dishes yesterday! So, happy WIAW everyone and here's to some good eatin'...

Breakfast was the usual egg whites but a sweet potato made a guest appearance! Topped off with some coconut butter, cinnamon, black pepper, and a bit of salt, they left me wondering why I don't eat them in the morning more often. A mug of steaming green tea and a view my gorgeous Valentine's flowers helped make this a winning breakfast. :)

Extremely random lunch alert! Right before lunch, I was prepping a crock pot meal and both the chicken and bacon were apart of it. Luckily, there was some of each left over because by the time I was through assembling it, I was hungryyyy. Strawberries rounded out my plate somewhat...

I met up with my best friend for dinner at one of our usual haunts and I dug into a steak tip salad. The steak tips pretty big and were done perfectly (medium-rare) so I was a happy cavelady!

This terrible photo is of the crock pot dish I mentioned earlier. Trust me, it tastes great but isn't the most photogenic. has bacon! I wrote about the recipe yesterday so check it out, if you're dubious about it's tastiness factor: Crock Pot Bacon-Wrapped Chicken w/ Apples & BBQ Sauce. And, it's paleo!

Darn, looking back at my eats now, I didn't eat nearly enough veggies yesterday. Oh well, I'll cram some extras in today! ;)

Alrighty then, no more strange looking photos for you this WIAW! Come back next Wednesday - who knows what I'll post then?! ;)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Crock Pot Bacon-Wrapped Chicken w/ Apples & BBQ Sauce

(Whew, what a title!)

In the interest of being lazy, I've been trying to use the crock pot more often. And so, when I came across this dish over on Closet Cooking, I immediately pinned it. It would be pretty easy to "paleo-fy" it if I whipped up my own barbecue sauce, which is something I'd wanted to try anyhow!

I'm not gonna lie: the BBQ sauce I made for this dish pretty much stole the show. Big words for a meal that included my beloved bacon!

Now, don't go judging the photo because admittedly, the picture looks horrid, the food itself tastes amazing, which is what matters, right?? Please, humor me and just agree!

Eeeek! Someone get me to a food-styling class STAT!

Crock Pot Bacon-Wrapped Chicken w/ Apples & BBQ Sauce (paleo)
makes 4 servings

2 large chicken breasts
8 slices thick-cut bacon
1/2 to 1 cup of barbecue sauce (Make sure its paleo-approved)
2 large apples, peeled and diced small
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1. Trim the fat off of your chicken breasts. Slice each breast in half horizontally.
2. Wrap each piece of chicken in two slices of bacon. Place in the bottom of the crock pot.
3. Mix the BBQ sauce, apples, and lemon juice. Pour over the chicken.
4. Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours.

A couple of notes:
*If you want to leave the breasts whole without slicing, that's obviously fine - just use four of them and cook them on low for 6 to 8 hours. 
*I thought thick cut bacon worked super well here but use whatever you have on hand.
*I used probably a heaping 1 cup of BBQ sauce because I'm a saucy lady (haha).
*And finally, I used Empire apples and cut them chunkier so that they'd hold up during cooking. The added texture of the apples was great.

 I'll be back with a post about my paleo BBQ sauce recipe soon. While it was super amazing in this dish, I've gotta test it on something else before I test it out on you all. ;)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to you, babe! You're the bestest!

I love you! :D

Cake Batter Rice Krispies Treats

I'm basically still a five-year-old at heart. I love playing with playdough, digging in the sandbox, and would never dream of passing up a Rice Krispies treat. They are just so darn good! But when I had to whip together a quick dessert for a party a couple weeks ago, the original treat seemed like a lame idea. Luckily, Pinterest was invented and I saved this idea amid my many pins...

Enter dry cake mix and sprinkles and - boom - now you're talking. Look how much more fun and special these look! 

Oh and the party I brought these to was all adults. And they still got gobbled up. Guess I'm not the only one who wants to be a kid sometimes! ;)

Cake Batter Rice Krispies Treats
recipe from Gimme Some Oven

3 tablespoons butter, plus a little extra for pan
1 bag (10 oz) mini marshmallows
1/3 cup dry yellow cake mix (I would up this to 1/3 cup next time!)
5 cups Rice Krispies
1/4 cup sprinkles (or more if you'd like sprinkle-tastic treats)

1. Grease a 9x13 pan with a little bit of butter.
2.. Melt the butter in a large pan over low heat.
3. Stir in the marshmallows and stir until the melt.
4. Mix in the dry cake batter one spoonful at a time until it is all fully mixed in.
5. Stir in the Rice Krispies until incorporated.
6. Dump in half the bottle of sprinkles and stir them in.
7. Press the mixture into the pan and top with remaining sprinkles.
8. Let cool half an hour and then cut into squares.
9. Eat and pretend you're a kid again!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

WIAW #44

Happy Wednesday everyone! Another What I Ate Wednesday is coming at ya so get out your napkin and head on over to Peas and Crayons to check out the delicious party.

It was a hugely busy day over here at MassachusEATS, with lots of things coming outta my kitchen. So let's get to it!

Egg whites, avocado, cantaloupe, and green tea

Creamy Tomato Soup (paleo-ized!)

Cocoa-Toasted Cauliflower from Well Fed

Zucchini noodles topped with crock pot meat-and-veggie sauce

Busted out the dehydrator to make some banana chips!

Want more? Check out my NatureBox review and get the special discount code. :)

Have a super Wednesday!

Ooh, and come back tomorrow for the recipe for these little puppies!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Product Review: NatureBox

I was approached by the super sweet Molly at the Californian company NatureBox about reviewing one of their upcoming month's boxes. And I happily agreed because 1. I love trying new snacks, obviously! ;) And 2. NatureBox's snacks are specially chosen (and nutritionist approved) so that each treat is minimally processed, if at all. So you aren't eating high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, trans fats, artificial sweeteners, colors, or flavors. Yay!

I was super psyched that my NatureBox arrived on my doorstep just a few days before my African adventure. They made the perfect snacks for the loooong flight to South Africa and were much better than the salty chips and pretzels airlines usually hand out. And a whole heck of a lot cheaper than the snacks found at airports!

Each month, NatureBox subscribers receive a new box of goodies. The theme of these boxes change every month so you'll never know what to expect in your box. I received the December box, which was themed as NatureBox's favorite treats from the past year. Let's check out the tasty haul!

Masa Crisps: These little crackers were my favorite of the bunch! They were super crunchy from the flaxseeds and had that salty flavor I love. In a word: addicting. My only wish was that the bag was 10x larger!

Pistachio Power Clusters: Big chunks of slightly salted mixed nuts made for a crunchy treat. Lots more fun than just eating a handful of nuts all at once.

Lemon Pucker Pistachios: These took me by surprise when I first tried them because I just assumed they were plain pistachios. (You know what happens when you assume...) They had a zippy flavor and I could've easily eaten the entire bag in one sitting. Luckily, I refrained...but only so there would be some for later. ;)

Wild Blueberry Flax Granola: Blueberry fans will love the flavor of this one! And everyone else will love that the granola is perfectly crunchy, as it should be. I bet this would be amazing sprinkled over a cup of Greek yogurt.

Dried Pears: Look at this full pear slice - no shortcuts here! These are naturally sweet and have a soft texture, making them a great snack on the go.

While the snacks are totally awesome, there is something I like even more about NatureBox. The company provides a meal for a hungry child for every box that is sent out each month. As someone that loves kids and have made teaching children my career, that really made my day to read! 

Wanna check out what NatureBox has in store this month? Head on over to their website and get 25% off your first month's subscription using the promo code PISTACHIO. While this offer is only valid for the month-to-month NatureBox subscription, if you sign up for a 6 month subscription, you'll get a free month and 12 month subs get 3 free months. Who doesn't love free stuff?!

A big thanks again to NatureBox for hooking me up with their fantastic snacks! I'm looking forward to sending some out as gifts this coming year. :)

(Note: I received a complimentary NatureBox to sample; however, all opinions in this review are my own.)