Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Vinaigrette
If you asked me to rank my favorite vegetables a month ago, Brussels sprouts wouldn’t even make the list.  I would even go so far as to say I hated them.  I thought they tasted bitter and disliked every recipe I ever tried them in, so I would avoid them at all costs.  
 
But recently, My Love made these Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Vinaigrette and, unfortunately, I couldn’t avoid them any longer.  See, one of the many joys of being a parent is that you kind of have to practice what you preach.  I can’t tell my kids to eat their vegetables and try new things if I am not willing to do it myself.  So, I begrudgingly tried one of the Brussels sprouts while discreetly throwing dirty looks at My Love.  
 
Luckily, he didn’t see my surprise when I realized that not only did I not hate these Brussels sprouts, I actually really liked them.  I tried to play it cool and told him they were “alright” as I helped myself to several more servings of them.  But, there was no denying it.  I loved these Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Vinaigrette!
 

Roasted Brussels Sprouts 

They are tender with a nice bite to them.  The brown bits give the perfect little crunch.  Plus, they are seasoned really well and the pomegranate vinaigrette adds just the right amount of sweetness and acidity to send them over the top!  Plus, they are the perfect side dish to almost any meal!

You guys!  I have been converted!!  DO. NOT. TELL. MY. LOVE!  I can’t give him the satisfaction of knowing that I have changed my opinion of Brussels sprouts because of his recipe (although his cute smug smile suggest he already knows).

If you love Brussels sprouts, or even if you don’t, give this recipe a try.  You might be surprised at how lovely Brussels sprout can be!

 

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Vinaigrette
Serves 4
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 pound Brussels sprouts, cut in half through the stem
  2. 3 tablespoons olive oil
  3. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  4. 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  5. 4 tablespoons pomegranate vinaigrette - we use Cindy's Kitchen of Brockton oil free
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place the Brussels sprouts on a sheet pan and drizzle olive oil over them. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then toss to coat. Arrange the Brussels sprouts in a single layer on the sheet pan and place them in the preheated oven. Roast for 20-30 minutes until they are fork tender and starting to brown.
  3. Transfer the Brussels sprouts to a bowl and immediately drizzle with the pomegranate vinaigrette. Serve hot.
Notes
  1. Pomegranate vinaigrette can be substituted with balsamic vinegar.
The Lovebugs Blog http://www.thelovebugsblog.com/
Enjoy!

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Marshmallow Cream Cheese Dip


She’s alive! 
 
You guys!  Life has been so crazy lately that I have hardly had a moment to catch my breath, let alone share a post with you.  If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that Lovebug started kindergarten a couple weeks ago.  And if you’ve been around for a while, you know that change and I don’t always ever get along.  But, we are settling into a groove and I’m excited to be able to focus back on blogging.  
 
I thought I’d ease in slowly with a super simple and delicious recipe with you and this Marshmallow Cream Cheese Fruit Dip recipe fit the bill perfectly!
 Marshmallow Cream Cheese Dip
I first had this Marshmallow Cream Cheese Fruit Dip at a girlfriends college graduation party many moons ago and I was surprised at how much I loved it.  See, I usually prefer fruit on its own because fresh fruit is so sweet and juicy that I don’t think it needs anything to make it better.   However, this dip seriously takes fruit to the next level.  
 
The secret ingredient is the fresh juice of an orange…  Not to be confused with “fresh” orange juice out of a bottle.  Trust me, you will want to give your arms a little workout and squeeze the juice out of a fresh orange.  It makes all the difference in this dip and gives it delightful fresh taste.  
 
The dip pairs perfectly with berries, stone fruits, apples, pears, pineapples and even some melons.  In fact, I love it with so many different fruits that I usually serve it with a fruit platter or salad so that I can have options.  It is so good!
 
I am still a fruit purist, but love pulling this fruit dip out for parties, potlucks or for a simple dessert.  It is always a hit with both kids and kids at heart!
 
Marshmallow Cream Cheese Fruit Dip
Serves 6
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Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  2. 7 oz marshmallow fluff
  3. Juice of 1 orange
  4. 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  5. Fresh fruit
Instructions
  1. Blend cream cheese and marshmallow fluff together in a large bowl using a hand mixer. Add the juice and powdered sugar and continue mixing until smooth. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Serve with fresh fruit.
The Lovebugs Blog http://www.thelovebugsblog.com/
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German Chocolate Cake
My Love absolutely loves German Chocolate Cake.  It is his very favorite cake and he asks for it at every opportunity, which creates a bit of a dilemma in our home…

See, German Chocolate Cake is not my favorite cake.  In fact, it might be my least favorite cake.  The  rich chocolate cake part, I love.  It’s just the frosting that I’m not much of a fan of.  And the frosting in my recipe is so sticky and gooey, full of coconut and pecans, that it oozes and seeps down into the nooks and crevices of the cake.  So, there is just no avoiding the frosting, which is great for someone who loves this cake.  But, not so great for someone like me who just wants to enjoy the cake part and skip the frosting.

My Love only requests it for special occasions (birthdays, Father’s Day, etc.) because (1) he feels that it is a burden for me to make it when I don’t like it (it’s not), (2) he doesn’t want to be the main consumer of this cake’s “awesomeness” (his word, not mine) and (3) he feels bad that I skip dessert when this cake is on the menu (a few skipped desserts never hurt anybody, right?).

Lucky for him, Father’s Day was last month, so he got to indulge in his favorite treat, which gave me the opportunity to share the recipe with you!  

Moral of the story: If you are a German Chocolate Cake loving family, this recipe is for you!  If not, then you should skip this recipe because there is no getting around the dark chocolate, coconut, pecan flavor combo. 
German Chocolate Cake 
 
See what I mean by sticky and gooey?  The frosting literally makes its way all over the cake, making sure each bite is full of chocolate cake, coconut, pecans and sweet sauce.  
 
 
Originally, I made this a mountainous four layer cake.  But, since we are a small family of four, we scaled it back a bit to prevent My Love from becoming diabetic from German Chocolate Cake consumption.  The cake is fantastic as shown (I’ve tested it with many family and friends since I can’t judge it myself), however, I highly recommend doubling the cake and frosting recipe to create a four layer cake, if you are serving a large crowd.  A four layer cake is always impressive but the flavors in this cake will make it an even bigger hit! 
 
 
German Chocolate Cake
Serves 8
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
2 hr
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
2 hr
Cake
  1. 2 cups sugar
  2. 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  3. 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  4. 2 teaspoons baking soda
  5. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  6. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  7. 2 eggs
  8. 1 cup buttermilk
  9. 1 cups coffee, cooled slightly
  10. 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  11. 2 teaspoons vanilla
Coconut Pecan Frosting
  1. 1 cup sugar
  2. 1 cup evaporated milk
  3. 3 large egg yolks, slightly beaten
  4. 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 pieces
  5. pinch salt
  6. 1 cup lightly toasted pecans, finely chopped
  7. 3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  8. 3/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  9. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  10. Decorations: pecans and flaked coconut
Chocolate Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch cake pans, line the bottom with parchment paper cake circle and grease the top of the paper. Set prepared pans aside.
  2. Over a sheet of parchment paper, sift together the sugar, flour, unsweetened cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Using clean hands, mix the dry ingredients together until distributed evenly. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or using a hand mixer and large bowl, mix together eggs, buttermilk, coffee, vegetable oil and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix to combine. Note - the batter will be thin.
  4. Divide the batter as evenly as you can between the two prepared pans. Bake for 30-35 minute, until cake tester or toothpick comes out clean.
  5. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for about 10 minutes before moving them to a wire rack. Cool completely.
Coconut Pecan Frosting
  1. Combine sugar, milk, egg yolks, butter and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until mixture begins to boil and thinking. Remove from heat and stir in chopped pecans, coconut and vanilla. Let cool for at least thirty minutes until cool and spreadable.
To Assemble
  1. Place one layer of cake, top side down, on your serving plate and cover with half the coconut pecan frosting, spreading the frosting to the edge of the cake but not spilling it over. Place the second layer of cake, top side down, onto the first layer and cover with the remaining coconut pecan frosting, spreading the frosting to about 1/4" of the edge. To decorate, place 5-6 pecan halves in a circle in the center of the cake. Place about a teaspoon of flaked coconut in the center of the pecan halves.
  2. Serve immediately or keep refrigerated until shortly before serving.
The Lovebugs Blog http://www.thelovebugsblog.com/
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Coconut Pancakes with Berries & Coconut Flakes
 
Like most people, we make a conscious effort to eat healthy and fuel our bodies with nutrient rich foods most of the time (everything in moderation!).  My Love has always eaten healthy and recently upped his game by replacing juice with coconut water and adding kale and other green leafy vegetables to smoothies, and actually liking it.  Thankfully, our girls take after their father and devour their green smoothies.  I, on the other hand, think that the smoothies have a faint flavor of ‘grass’.  But, I still drink them for the health benefit.  
 
My Love keeps telling me that if I drink it enough the flavor will grow on me and eventually I’ll like it.  Jury is still out…
 
But, being healthy is really important to me so I’ve really been evaluating the items in our pantry and looking for ways to move towards more natural, less processed products that have high nutritional values.  This search lead me to coconut flour.  
 
Did you know that coconut flour is naturally gluten free and that it is full of protein and fiber?  Me neither!  But, there’s more!  You can read all about the health benefits and recipe substitution ratios here!  You know what the best part is?  Coconut flour smells and tastes heavenly and nothing at all like grass!  (I realize that coconuts wouldn’t taste like grass, but my point is that it doesn’t taste ‘healthy’ like the grass-like flavor in My Love’s smoothies).  I’m not big on coconuts but the coconut flavor does not overpower and the natural sugars make the flour slightly sweet, which is actually quite nice!  Who knows, coconut flour may have converted me on coconuts!?
Coconut Pancakes
As a baseline, I wanted to try coconut flour in a recipe that we know and love.  So, I decided to make pancakes.  I started with a basic pancake recipe that used coconut flour instead of all purpose flour and it was tasty with just a hint of warm coconut flavor, but I didn’t LOVE it.  So, I decided to try the recipe below from Food and Wine and it was delicious!  The whole family loved these coconut pancakes!  They were light but filling and had just the right amount of coconut flavor.  We topped them with strawberries, blueberries, coconut flakes and maple syrup for added flavor!  They are so good and, in retrospect, they look rather patriotic so they would be a great option for the upcoming 4th of July holiday! 🙂  
 
I was super impressed with coconut flour and can’t wait to try it in other recipes!  But, for now, we have added these delicious coconut pancakes (that happen to be full of protein and fiber!) to our breakfast repertoire!  
 
Coconut Pancakes with Berries and Coconut Flakes
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Ingredients
  1. 1/4 cup sifted coconut flour
  2. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  3. 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  4. 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  5. 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  6. 1 tablespoon honey
  7. 3 large eggs
  8. 1/4 cup coconut milk
  9. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  10. Fresh strawberries
  11. Fresh blueberries
  12. 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  13. Maple syrup
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, stir together the coconut flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the coconut oil and honey. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Add the coconut milk and vanilla. Slowly sprinkle the flour mixture over the wet ingredients, whisking as you add the dry ingredients. NOTE: Do not dump the flour mixture in because you will end up with a lumpy batter!
  3. Heat a non-stick griddle or large pan over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup of batter to the pan. Cook until the top of the pancake starts to set, about two to three minutes, then flip and continue cooking an additional one to two minutes.
  4. Top with berries, coconut flakes and maple syrup and serve immediately.
Adapted from Food and Wine
Adapted from Food and Wine
The Lovebugs Blog http://www.thelovebugsblog.com/

Enjoy!
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Homemade Peach Butter

Do you ever have peaches sitting around that are about to become too ripe and/or go bad?  No?   Me neither, but I suppose it can happen?  If it does, this recipe is the perfect way to use up those peaches.  And if you never need to find ways to use up peaches, you should consider getting some extra just to make this delightful recipe because it will allow you to enjoy fresh peach flavor all year long! 
 
I’m talking about Homemade Peach Butter!  
 
Peach butter is a very misleading name for this recipe, by the way.  There is exactly zero butter in it and it tastes nothing like butter at all.  So, why the butter name?  It’s so confusing!  It should be called thickened peach puree or peachsauce (like applesauce, only with peaches) or something.  Who came up with peach butter and who agreed it was a good name? 
Peach Butter
 
Anyway, peach butter is essentially peach jam minus the pectin (also a great name option, if you ask me).  All you do is cook down some peaches add a little sugar to cut the tartness and you’re literally done.  So easy to make and you will have peach yumminess for weeks to come!  
 
Peach butter is perfect served on toast, biscuits, pancakes, crepes, etc. or it can also be used as an ingredient in other things like muffins, cookies, ice cream, or sauces.   If you love peaches or have a peach lover in your home, try this recipe.  I promise you’ll love it!
 

Homemade Peach Butter
Yields 1
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 8 fresh ripe peaches
  2. Sugar, as needed
Instructions
  1. Peal the peaches, remove the pits and cut them into large chunks. Place the peach pieces into a blender and puree until they are just smooth. The goal here is to make peach puree so you don't want them to be to liquid-y.
  2. Transfer the peach puree to a small pot and cook it over medium low heat. Allow the peaches to cook, stirring frequently, until the peaches have reduced to a really thick consistency, about 30 minutes. The peaches will be ready when hold their shape when scooped with a spoon.
  3. Taste the peach butter to determine if any sweetener is necessary. I added 3 teaspoons to cut the tartness but still maintain that delicious fresh peach flavor. I would recommend starting with a 1/2 teaspoon and adding from there, tasting as you go along, so you can control the sweetness.
  4. Allow the peach butter to cool to room temperature before serving.
  5. The peach butter can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator or freezer.
The Lovebugs Blog http://www.thelovebugsblog.com/
Enjoy!

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