Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

I have been thinking --- no,  dreaming of chocolate all day long. Like couldn't stop. So I dreamt up a billion different chocolate treats I would make while sitting at my desk today at work. I came up with many scrumptous ideas although the only thing I felt like making when I came home was chocolate covered strawberries. Why? Because tomorrow is Valentine's Day. And I have been chilling a delicious  bottle of bubbly in the fridge for tomorrow night. And doesn't chocolate covered strawberries and champagne just make the best couple?

Speaking of which, tomorrow Carlos and I will be celebrating our first Valentine's Day as a married couple. Hooray!!

So these strawberries. The reason why they are so fantastic is that they are gluten free, dairy free and only require 3 ingredients: Strawberries (of course), Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips and coconut oil.

If you have not yet discovered Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips, you are in for a treat my friend. They also only have 3 ingredients: evaporated cane juice, natural chocolate liquor (non-alcoholic) and non-dairy cocoa butter. There are no other ingredients period. And the best thing is that they taste exactly like your ordinary chocolate chips. Here, we use them melted (obviously) mixed with a little bit of coconut oil in order to make the chocolate smoother.

I hope you enjoy these simple to make and healthy to eat chocolate covered strawberries. I can't wait to eat them tomorrow with some icy cold bubbly. 

Happy Valentine's Day!

1 pint of whole strawberries, rinsed and dried with a towel
1 10-ounce bag of Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
Chopped nuts (optional)

Line a few small plates or one large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Next, in a small bowl pour about 1/2 the bag of chocolate chips and microwave for 30 seconds. Take out and stir. If they are not melted microwave again another 15 seconds, then stir again. (Your chips should be melted but if not, zap them again for a another 10 seconds or so and stir). As I just mentioned, your chocolate should be melted but not necessary smooth. It will feel a little thick and maybe a little clumpy. This is why we add the coconut oil. Not only does it smooth things out, it also gives a nice chocolately shine =)

 If your coconut oil is in a solid state, take the top off and microwave for about 20 seconds. Pour about 1/2 tablespoon into the melted chocolate and stir until the chocolate is smooth and looks like the above picture. If the chocolate looks too watery, you added too much oil. Not to fear - just add more chocolate chips and microwave another 10 seconds, then stir. If you feel like it's not smooth enough, add more coconut oil. Common sense really. (Once you run out of chocolate, do this same process again with the other half of the bag). 

Next, dip each strawberry in the chocolate mixture and coat evenly. Lie each one down on the parchment paper to cool. If you want a little variety, sprinkle some chopped nuts or sugar free sprinkles on top of the wet chocolate strawberries. Once they are all on the parchment paper, stick them in the fridge to harden and cool for about 30 minutes, or overnight. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tzatziki Sauce

Click to enlarge.

Tzatziki is a Greek sauce/dip/dressing made from Greek yogurt, cucumber and fresh herbs. I have been having it since I was a kid, homemade from my Greek grandmother (Yiayia). I love this stuff. It has a great refreshing taste and extremely simple to make (and healthy to eat). I use this as a dip with fresh veggies or crackers but it tastes especially delicious on meat and seafood. I have been going through a tzatziki phase lately and have been using it every week on top of veggie and turkey burgers. Tonight however, I am making lamb burgers which I am really excited about because this recipe is to die for. (Lamb burger recipe will be up this week).

I hope you enjoy this staple Greek recipe that has been a favorite of mine since a kid!

2 (7-ounce) containers of plain Greek yogurt (you can use regular, reduced fat or fat free. Just note that the less fat you use, the less creamy it will be. But still delicious flavor)
1/4 cup of reduced fat sour cream
1 large English cucumber (the long skinny ones), peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
The juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of freshly chopped dill
2 tablespoons of freshly chopped mint

Take your peeled/chopped cucumber and place in a colander. Sprinkle with salt and let sit for 30 minutes or so to draw out the water. After 30 minutes squeeze the cucumber to eliminate any additional water and pat dry with a paper towel. Set cucumber aside. Next, combine the rest of the ingredients in a food processor and blend. Stir in the chopped cucumber pieces (or blend if you prefer but I like the little bit of crunch that the cucumber adds). Poor in a bowl and garnish with fresh dill. Serve as a dip or over your favorite meat or seafood.