Baked Potatoes in the Slow Cooker

My slow cooker is kinda like a bad boyfriend that I just can't break up with.  You know those boyfriends that will make promises but let you down - kinda like a casserole that looks amazing on Pinterest but it looks like roadkill in reality.   Yet, just like a crap boyfriend (that is really good looking) I can't give up on my slow cooker.  Maybe one day things will change and some form of magic will occur in the form of a meal worthy of sharing with Martha Stewart, however  I am not too optimistic of that, however I will continue to try out my "bad boyfriend" and see if I can make some magic with it.

Being that it is about 90 degrees in Seattle I am trying not to turn my oven on, yet I am wanting some loaded baked potatoes.

White Trash Potatoes (aka Potluck Potatoes or Cheesy Hashbrown Potatoes)

Whenever I go to a BBQ or cookout I always bring my tried and true White Trash Potatoes.  There are three things I LOVE about this recipe which becomes a favorite at all cookouts I attend:

1. They are super fast and easy to make
2. They are delicious
3. They are always a crowd pleaser.  I have yet to take any home after a BBQ.

Now, these are not Paleo friendly, they are not Raw, they are not low carb and I would guess that a generous serving would all but obliterate your Weight Watchers points. So in a word - these are awesome!

Skinny Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am a chocolate chip cookie freak.  They are definitely one of my favorite foods and I have to say that there is nothing I love more than eating them fresh out of the oven.  So incredibly good!   I have blogged about my tried and true chocolate chip cookie recipe here and still use this as my go to.  If you haven't tried it you must - they are foolproof and incredibly delicious.  Oh and you don't need to bust out a mixer - this one can be done completely by hand. :)

So since I am madly in love with chocolate chip cookies I am always eager to come up with a way to make them healthier.  I have combined numerous recipes to come up with my Skinny Chocolate Chip Cookies that I think are pretty tasty.  My two boys even thought they were good and didn't complain when eating them asking what was wrong with them and why they tasted funny.   A couple of things to keep in mind - I used coconut oil as the fat, however if you chose to use melted butter that would work as well and would probably taste even more like chocolate chip cookies.  As for flour - I chose a combination of equal parts all-purpose white flour, whole wheat flour and coconut flour.  As long as you use 1 1/2 cups of flour you will be golden.  Just keep in mind that the flour you choose will affect the taste and texture.  By using the three I listed above they didn't have a heavy wheat taste and were very soft.

Nude is the New Black

I love a good staple and nude shoes are an absolute must in my wardrobe.  Shoes in an au natural hue can brighten up a dark outfit and seamlessly bring a bold outfit together.

The more I wear them, the more I continue to fall in love with these versatile gems.  Here are some of my favorite nude stunners:

1. Valentino 'Rockstud' T-Strap Pump, $995 There is no question that these are a splurge and prior to purchasing these I contemplated the purchase for about 18 months.   I couldn't get these shoes out of my head so I eventually caved and made the purchase.  I can't begin to tell you how glad I made the investment.  These shoes take any outfit from drab to fab and are an instant conversation piece.  
2. Ivanka Trump 'Maggie' Pump, $129.95 Every girl needs a pair of open toe nude pumps.  These shoes can easily go from work to play and match just as beautifully with a conservative skirt suit as a pair of jeans and blouse.
3. Prada Point Toe Pump, $650.00 OK, another splurge but you will have these for decades!  Perfectly classy with a pointed toe that can take you from daytime chic to nighttime sexy no matter the outfit!
4. Jessica Simpson 'Carmyne' Leather Sandal, $97.95 I love the stacked heel and zipper detail on this shoe.  The slightly thicker heel makes heels easier to walk on (for me anyways) and the stacked heel also gives these shoes a more dressed down look that makes these perfect to wear with cropped jeans or shorts.
5. Charles David 'Intro' Leather Sandal, $200 A perfect combination of strappy and sexy, but since it isn't too high and is missing the platform this shoe is a perfect combination of classy with a slight edge.

Bobby Flay's Chocolate Coconut Granola

I am obsessed with food and love watching the Food Network and Cooking Channel.  One of my favorite shows to watch is Brunch at Bobby's and I felt my mouth watering uncontrollably during his episode titled Chocolate Brunch.  He made the most amazing Chocolate Coconut Granola and being the love of all things chocolate AND coconut I knew I had to make this.  

The ingredients are super simple and are items I always have on hand - a definite plus.  In addition, as with most granola recipes you can cater this one to your own preferences.  If you love coconut keep that in there, but if you don't you could always replace the coconut oil for vegetable oil and omit the coconut chips from the recipe.   The chocolate can always remain. :-)

My favorite ways to enjoy this granola is with a splash of your favorite kind of milk and strawberries, over greek yogurt or just on its own.  I love packing this in a small container as a healthy snack on the go.  Since there is lots of dark chocolate, almonds and oats this delicious treat is loaded with antioxidants, healthy carbs and protein for sustained energy.  Next time I think I will add some diced, dried mango or dried cherries to add a bit of tart to this already yummy treat.  Hopefully you will give this a try and let me know what you think. 

Bobby Flay's Chocolate Coconut Granola
1/4 c. coconut oil
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. sugar
1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch sea salt
1/8 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. coconut extract
2 1/2 c. oats, slow cooked variety
1/2 c. sliced almonds
1/2 c. shredded coconut or coconut chips
1/4 c. dark chocolate chips
1/4 c. white chocolate chips

Position a baking rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 275 degrees F.  Spray a baking sheet with non stick cooking spray and set aside. Combine the oats, almonds and coconut chips in a large bowl and set aside.
Heat the coconut oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the cocoa powder, honey, sugar and salt and bring to a simmer. Cook, whisking constantly, until smooth and the sugar is completely melted; stir in the coconut and vanilla extracts.
Pour the warm cocoa mixture over the oat mixture and fold in with a rubber spatula until the oat mixture is completely coated. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking sheet and press into an even layer. Bake for 50 minutes. Turn off the oven and let sit in the warm oven for 30 minutes longer. Remove to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature. Break into bite-sized pieces, and toss with the bittersweet and white chocolate chips.