Swoon Worthy Holiday Gift Guide ~ 2016

Happy holidays! If you are in a quandary over what gifts to give (or ask for) this holiday season, I may just have some ideas that will inspire you. Some are food related and some aren’t, but each gift is something I think the recipient will use and truly appreciate. Our family actually uses each and every gift recommendation below!
(This post contains affiliate links. I may make a commission off sales which allows me to keep my site up and running. Thanks for your support!)

Glassware:

I must admit I am a little obsessed with glassware. And Anthropologie has the best selection of unique and gorgeous stemware, tumblers and juice glasses I have ever seen. Take a look, they have something to fit every budget and style preference from elegant to sweet to monogrammed!

Swoon Worthy Holiday Gift Guide 2016

Cookbooks:

I am a California girl through and through and that may be why The Ranch at Live Oak Cookbook is one of my top picks this year. This book is filled with an array of amazing vegetarian dishes from the chefs at this renowned Malibu spa. But if you’d like more choices, click!

Swoon Worthy Holiday Gift Guide 2016

 

Food Delivery: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

It is no secret that I am a big fan of Sun Basket Meals and I have to say they make a great gift. What could be better than fresh, organic, non GMO meals delivered to your door complete with recipe cards? No shopping, or having to decide what to make, just open your box and in about 30 minutes you have an incredible, healthy meal. Whom ever you give this gift to will love it! Vegetarian, Paleo and Gluten Free options available. Get $30 off your Sun Basket order! Organic ingredients from the best West Coast farms and easy, healthy recipes delivered weekly.

$30 off Sun Basket

The Jord Wooden Watch!

Jord makes Wooden Wristwatches for both men and women. The faces are available in beautiful colors and styles, some quite fancy and others, like my Mint Frankie watch are casual, but all are  beautiful!

Swoon Worthy Holiday Gift Guide 2016

The Amazon Echo!

This is the coolest gift! We use our Amazon Echo every single day. Tell the echo what music to play, or don’t because she can read your mind and will select music you love all on her own! You can also tell her what time to wake you up, ask her what time it is, how long the drive to work will take, what the weather forecast is like, or even have her remind you of what’s on your ‘to-do list’. She’s like a personal assistant…a really small, smart personal assistant that knows your taste in music.

Swoon Worthy Holiday Gift Guide 2016

The Fitbit! 

This is my husband’s wrist, and that is his Fitbit, he loves it! Fitbit is a physical activity tracker designed to help you become more active, eat a more well-rounded diet, sleep better and ultimately, turn you into a healthier person. I am sure you have already heard the raves, but it’s truly an amazing tool!  Small, sleek and available in different colors and styles for men and women, it makes a great gift for anyone trying to improve their health and fitness. 

Swoon Worthy Holiday Gift Guide 2016

Welp, those are my recommendations for this holiday season! I hope you found them helpful. Happy holidays friends! ~ Linda Spiker

 

MAY I PLEASE ASK A FAVOR? 

We small bloggers need all the help we can get. Subscribing and sharing on social media is very appreciated! 

STANDARD FTC DISCLOSURE and Privacy Policy: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Please note that I only endorse products that are in alignment with The Organic Kitchen’s ideals and that I believe would be of value to my readers. The Organic Kitchen is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. View The Organic Kitchen’s Privacy Policy.

 

 

Vanilla Chocolate Chip Cake with Whipped Ganache!

I don’t know what’s up. Usually I don’t consider myself much of a dessert maker. I am definitely a better cook than a baker. But lately I am rocking the desserts, especially cakes. And this Vanilla Chocolate Chip Cake with Whipped Ganache is top notch if I do say so myself. And I do.
(This post contains affiliate links. I may make a commission off sales which allows me to keep my site up and running. Thanks for your support!)

Vanilla Chocolate Chip Cake with Whipped Ganache!

The Cake:

This cake is a pretty straight forward vanilla cake with semi sweet mini chocolate chips added, giving it just the right ratio of vanilla and chocolate. As always I am going to recommend my favorite vanilla paste instead of extract to get that perfect vanilla bean flavor!

Vanilla Chocolate Chip Cake with Whipped Ganache!

But Let’s Talk About This Whipped Ganache!

Basic ganache can be made two ways, simply by melting dark chocolate into hot cream and letting it cool off enough to be pourable, or adding a little powdered sugar, whipping, and then letting the ganache cool off longer so it is spreadable. That is what we are doing with this cake. I cool my whipped ganache in the fridge so I don’t have to wait so long…I am working on patience…but when a cake is this beautiful who wants to wait to eat!? 

Vanilla Chocolate Chip Cake with Whipped Ganache!

Decorating:

Of course decorating is optional, but if I am serving this cake at a party I love to add fresh flowers. I place a piece of parchment paper on the frosting after it has firmed a bit and then place flowers, leaves, berries etc..on top of the paper. I always add the flowers right before displaying the cake and I make sure they don’t touch the frosting. I learned the hard way to never use super fragrant flowers. Once I had a batch of cookies that tasted just like Easter lilies…not good. 

Vanilla Chocolate Chip Cake with Whipped Ganache!

 

The Recipe: Vanilla Chocolate Chip Cake with Whipped Ganache!

Tips and what you will need: use two 9 inch cake pans for this recipe. Always line with parchment paper for easy removal from pans. I love my Kitchen Aid Mixer and vanilla paste!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Vanilla Chocolate Chip Cake with Whipped Ganache!
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Make sure you allow time for ganache to cool. If cooling on the counter it can take 2-3 hours. I pop it in the fridge to speed things up.
Author:
Recipe type: dessert
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • Ingredients
  • The Cake:
  • 2½ cups all purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks) room temp (plus 1 tablespoon for preparing pans)
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 1⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla paste or extract
  • 3 eggs, room temp
  • 1⅓ cup buttermilk
  • ¾ cup semi sweet mini chocolate chips
  • The Ganache:
  • 1¼ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1¼ cup semi sweet mini chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place oven rack in center position
  2. Prep pans: Fold a large piece of parchment and use 9" cake pan bottom to trace a circle onto parchment. Cut circles and place in the bottom of pans. Use a paper towel to wipe sides of pan and parchment with butter. Lightly coat with flour. Set aside.
  3. The Cake:
  4. Combine flour, baking powder and salt, set aside
  5. Place butter, coconut oil, sugar and vanilla in mixer and mix until well combined
  6. Add eggs one at a time
  7. Alternate adding flour mixture with buttermilk until well combined, mix for one more minute
  8. Add mini chocolate chips and mix by hand
  9. Pour equal amounts of batter into prepared pans, tap pans firmly on counter to take out any bubbles
  10. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean
  11. Allow cakes to cool and then gently remove from pans and then frost
  12. Ganache:
  13. Place chocolate chips in bowl. Heat cream on stove top until simmering, when cream is very hot, pour over chocolate chips.
  14. Allow to sit untouched for ten minutes. Whisk.
  15. Allow to cool for another 20 minutes. Add powdered sugar and whip with a hand mixer for 4-5 minutes. Allow to sit on counter for 2-3 hours stirring occasionally until the ganache thickens up and becomes spreadable. To hurry this process along you can place in the fridge, stirring every ten minutes or so. After about an hour in the refrigerator frosting should be ready.

 

MAY I PLEASE ASK A FAVOR? 

We small bloggers need all the help we can get. Subscribing and sharing on social media is very appreciated! 

STANDARD FTC DISCLOSURE and Privacy Policy: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Please note that I only endorse products that are in alignment with The Organic Kitchen’s ideals and that I believe would be of value to my readers. The Organic Kitchen is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. View The Organic Kitchen’s Privacy Policy.

How to Seed a Pomegranate in Two Minutes

I love a good pomegranate! They are in season for such a short time I try to eat them as much as I can while I have the opportunity. But sometimes getting those seeds out can be tricky and/or messy. Of course buying packaged seeds is always an option but and I am not a huge fan for three reasons: first, they aren’t always very fresh and second, they are more expensive, and last, they are sold in plastic and I am trying to reduce my use of plastic. Luckily I came across an easy method to seed a pomegranate that only takes about two minutes!
(This post contains affiliate links through my association with Amazon.com)

How to Seed a Pomegranate in Two Minutes

Start by Scoring:

The first step is scoring the pomegranate instead of cutting it in half. This means you just cut through the skin all the way around the fruit, halfway between the top and bottom.

How to Seed a Pomegranate in Two Minutes

Then Open It Up:

Use your fingers to pull apart the two sides. Notice that white membrane that covers some of the seeds? Peel it off.

How to Seed a Pomegranate

After peeling the white membrane off, the seeds will be exposed and they will all be whole because you pulled the pomegranate apart instead of cutting it in half. No waste and no messy juice!

How to Seed a Pomegranate

Then Smack the Heck Out of It!

Turn one of the pomegranate halves over in your palm, spread your fingers wide so the seeds can fall through them, and smack the bottom of the pomegranate with a wooden spoon over and over until all the seeds are out. This usually takes about 30 seconds a side.

How to Seed a Pomegranate

Voila! Time to Eat!

Pomegranates are so tasty and colorful and they add a nutritional boost to any meal. The recipe for the salad below will be posted next week, so come on back! But if you don’t want to wait I have more recipes to hold you over… Greens with Pomegranate Vinaigrette, Mango Pomegranate Chicken Salad, Crispy Salmon Salad with Roasted Potatoes and Pom Seeds, and Steel Cut Oats with Seasonal Fruit

img_7979

 

MAY I PLEASE ASK A FAVOR? 

We small bloggers need all the help we can get. Subscribing and sharing on social media is very appreciated! 

STANDARD FTC DISCLOSURE and Privacy Policy: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Please note that I only endorse products that are in alignment with The Organic Kitchen’s ideals and that I believe would be of value to my readers. The Organic Kitchen is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. View The Organic Kitchen’s Privacy Policy.

 

Homemade BBQ Chicken Pizza!

Get out the pizza stone, the rolling pin and the corn meal, it’s time to make Homemade BBQ Chicken Pizza! And don’t worry, I will walk you through it step by step.
(This post contains affiliate links through my association with Amazon.com)

Homemade BBQ Chicken Pizza!

THE DOUGH AND THE TOOLS:

Good pizza starts with an amazing dough. The dough recipe I am sharing today can be used the day you make it, or you can allow it to rise slowly in the refrigerator over a two day period. There are a few items that make pizza making a whole lot easier:  a rolling pin, a ceramic pizza stone, a pizza paddle, corn meal and a pizza slicer. (affiliate links) 

Homemade BBQ Chicken Pizza!

The Dough Tutorial:

The key to a great pizza is the crust. If the crust isn’t amazing, it won’t matter what you put on it. So I make mine fresh using bread flour, yeast, water, honey and sea salt. Here is what the process looks like:

Homemade BBQ Chicken Pizza!

Mix a portion of the dough ingredients and allow to ‘rest’. This gives the yeast a chance to activate. Then combine with the rest of the ingredients and knead.

Homemade BBQ Chicken Pizza!

Allow dough to rise for 15 minutes and then cut the dough ball in half for two 9″ thin crust pizzas. If you are using the dough right away, let it rise for another hour and then roll out and top with your favorite toppings. Or you can brush dough with a little olive oil, place dough ball(s) into quart size baggies, or a glass bowl covered with plastic and let rise in the fridge for two days.

 

Homemade BBQ Chicken Pizza!

WHY THE SLOW RISE?

If you let the dough rise in the fridge over two days the dough ferments and therefore has more flavor and more body. Slow rise or not…it’s up to you! When you (and the dough) are ready simply roll it out. The shape and edges do not have to be perfect, in fact I love a more rustic looking pizza!

Homemade BBQ Chicken Pizza!

The Toppings:

After rolling, place on a pizza paddle coated with corn meal. Brush the dough with your favorite BBQ sauce, cheeses, herbs, vegetables and chicken. You can use rotisserie or leftover roasted chicken.

Homemade BBQ Chicken Pizza!

WHY CORN MEAL YOU ASK?

Good question! Once your dough is rolled you place it on top of the paddle for easy transfer onto the pizza stone. Placing a layer of corn meal on the paddle allows your pizza to slide onto the stone. If you forget this step you will be very sorry! Once dough is on paddle you just slide it off the paddle onto the stone with a little back and forth motion. When the pizza comes out it will have a thin crispy crust and a bubbly golden top!

Homemade BBQ Chicken Pizza!

THE RECIPE: THE ORGANIC KITCHEN HOMEMADE PIZZA DOUGH

Tips and what you will need:  Allowing dough to rise slowly over two days is recommended but you can also do a ‘fast’ method. Just know that either way the dough needs to rise for an hour and 15 minutes at the least! There are a few things you need for really great pizza, a rolling pin, a ceramic pizza stone, a pizza paddle, corn meal and a pizza slicer. (affiliate links)

Homemade Pizza Dough
 
Note: You can make your dough and allow to rise slowly over two days in the fridge, or use an hour after kneading if left on the counter.
Author:
Recipe type: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Ingredients
  • 1 ¾ cups bread flour (separated)
  • 1 ¾ tsp instant dry yeast
  • 2 tsp honey
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ T olive oil
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • Corn meal (for use on the pizza paddle)
Instructions
  1. Measure out 1 ¾ cups flour.
  2. Place ½ cup of the pre-measured flour into a separate large bowl.
  3. Add water, yeast and honey to bowl.
  4. Whisk and set aside for 5 minutes.
  5. After the mixture has rested for five minutes, add salt, garlic powder, and olive oil.
  6. Whisk until combined. Add remaining flour one half cup at a time and stir with a spoon or rubber spatula.
  7. When dough is combined, use your hands to knead into a dough ball.
  8. Turn out on a generously floured surface and knead for 6-8 minutes, adding small amounts of flour to surface until dough stops sticking to your hands and counter.
  9. As soon as dough no longer sticks to hands or counter, stop adding flour.
  10. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic.
  11. Allow to sit for 15 minutes.
  12. After the fifteen minutes is up, cut the dough ball in half for two 9" thin crust pizzas.
  13. If you are using the dough right away, let it rise for another hour and then roll out and top with your favorite toppings.
  14. Or you can brush dough with a little olive oil, place dough ball(s) into quart size baggies, or a glass bowl covered with plastic and let rise in the fridge for two days. Then follow directions below for rolling and topping dough.

 

Homemade BBQ Chicken Pizza!
 
This recipe makes one large thick crust pizza or two small thin crust pizzas, it’s up to you. Remember topping ingredients for this are estimated, use as much or as little as you like. Bon appétit! Tools you will need: pizza stone, preheated at 450 for at least one half hour before dough is placed on it, see dough recipe for details. A pizza paddle and corn meal. Rolling pin. Flour for rolling dough.
Author:
Recipe type: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Ingredients
  • Pizza Dough (recipe above makes two pizzas)
  • 1 to 1½ cups BBQ sauce (we use Annie’s original organic)
  • 1 cup freshly shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 cup good quality grated Mozzarella cheese or fresh packed in water and sliced thinly
  • 1 cup shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 3 teaspoons chopped cilantro
  • ¼ small red onion thinly sliced
Instructions
  1. Place pizza stone on oven rack in the lowest position. Preheat oven to 450 degrees allowing stone to heat for at least 30 minutes before place pizza on stone.
  2. On floured surface use rolling pin to roll out dough into a 9" circle (does not have to perfect!)
  3. Spread a thin layer of corn meal on pizza paddle. Transfer dough onto paddle.
  4. Remember you will be making two pizzas so use ½ the ingredients on each pizza.
  5. Spread BBQ a thin layer of bbq sauce on dough.
  6. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Top with a layer of mozzarella and add chicken. Sprinkle with red onions and cilantro.
  7. To transfer dough onto stone use a slight shaking back and forth motion with the paddle. The dough should slide right onto stone.
  8. Bake on preheated pizza stone for about 9 minutes.
  9. Slide paddle under pizza to remove from oven.
  10. Allow to cool for one minute before slicing. Serve.

 

May I Please Ask a Favor? 

We small bloggers need all the help we can get. Subscribing and sharing on social media is very appreciated! 

STANDARD FTC DISCLOSURE and Privacy Policy: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Please note that I only endorse products that are in alignment with The Organic Kitchen’s ideals and that I believe would be of value to my readers. The Organic Kitchen is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. View The Organic Kitchen’s Privacy Policy.

 

Juicero ~ Juicing with No Prep, No Clean Up and 50% Off!

I don’t review products often, but I I have to say I couldn’t wait to review Juicero! You have probably been seeing Juicero pop up in your news feed lately and maybe you have even wondered what it’s all about, and whether or not the claims of “no prep, no clean up” could possibly be true. I actually wondered myself. So here is the scoop! 
This post contains affiliate links, see full disclosure at bottom of post. 

Juicero ~ Juicing with No Prep, No Clean Up and 50% Off!

 

How Juicero Works: Cold Pressed Juice Made Simple

Juicero is amazing in it’s simplicity! There are two components to this system, the juice press and the packs which are filled with just picked organic fruits and veggies in delicious combinations!
Starting TODAY through Cyber Monday, Juicero is offering 50% off their juicer. Apply the promo code JUICERO50 at checkout to save $349.50. Click—> MAKE AMAZING JUICE  to learn more and get %50 off! 

Juicero ~ Juicing with No Prep, No Clean Up and 50% Off!

 

The Juicero Press: 

The Juicero press has a sleek design and looks pretty on any counter, it’s also one piece which means no parts to keep track of or clean. You just open the door and slide in a juice packet, close the door and press a button. The machine presses the packet and out comes the juice straight into your glass. Then you open the door, remove the packet and toss in the recycling. No food comes in contact with the press, so there is no clean up! 
Click—> MAKE AMAZING JUICE to learn more and get 50% off a Juicero Juicer when you use the promo code JUICERO50 at checkout! (a savings of $349.50)

Juicero ~ Juicing with No Prep, No Clean Up and 50% Off!

 

The Juice Packets:

Juicero starts with ripe, raw, organic fruits and vegetables, which arrive from the field within days of harvest. Then they triple wash everything and chop it into pack-friendly pieces. Then Juicero seals the produce (completely raw and never pasteurized) into their packs, which get shipped to your door the day they’re made. And you get to choose your flavors by visiting the website or using the Juicero app! Click —> MAKE AMAZING JUICE and get 50% off a Juicero juicer when you use the promo code JUICERO50 at checkout! (a savings of $349.50)

Juicero ~ Juicing with No Prep, No Clean Up and 50% Off!

 
My Thoughts on Juicero….

Let’s just say I wish I had thought of this concept. Juicero is by far the most convenient way I have ever seen to get your daily fruits and veggies. One of the reasons people end up leaving their juicer in the cupboard is because juicers are usually quite large (not to mention kind of ugly) and require a time investment to use and clean up….so sadly,  juicers often sit unused after the initial excitement wears off. Juicero makes the whole process a snap and looks beautiful doing it! I am a firm believer that the easier something is to use, the more you will use it. 

Where is Juicero Available:

Juicero is rolling out in the California, Arizona and Nevada now. But take heart rest of the country, they will be spreading far and wide very soon! 

Don’t Miss Out on The Great Deal!

Starting TODAY through Cyber Monday, Juicero is offering 50% off their juicer. Apply the promo code JUICERO50 at checkout to save $349.50. Click here to learn to MAKE AMAZING JUICE and get %50 off! ~ Linda Spiker

Juicero ~ Juicing with No Prep, No Clean Up and 50% Off!

 

MAY I PLEASE ASK A FAVOR?

We small bloggers need all the help we can get. Subscribing and sharing on social media is very appreciated! 
STANDARD FTC DISCLOSURE and Privacy Policy: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Please note that I only endorse products that are in alignment with The Organic Kitchen’s ideals and that I believe would be of value to my readers. The Organic Kitchen is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. View The Organic Kitchen’s Privacy Policy.