Friday, February 27, 2015

Chocolate Chip Bean Bars


Does that say bean bars?  Yes.  These energy bars' main source of protein comes from great northern beans, which is just one of the reasons I love them!  I've tried plenty of oats and nut butter combinations, but I like to mix things up every now and then!  So I've added these to our "energy snack" rotation and no one is complaining.  I recently took some on a trip to share with a friend as we hiked, and they serve as a great travel snack as well.


1 15-oz. can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup maple syrup  
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups oats (old-fashioned or quick)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup oat bran
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.  In a food processor (I used my Vitamix), combine the beans, pumpkin, syrup, pumpkin pie spice, and salt and blend until very smooth.  Add the flour and pulse to combine.  Add the oats and pulse to combine.  Transfer mixture to a large bowl.  Add the oat bran and chocolate chips and stir until everything is mixed in.  

Lightly grease a 9x13 pan.  Spread the mixture in the pan (it will be thick).  Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes.  Let cool in the pan and then cut into bars.  Remove from the pan, and store in the refrigerator.  If you don't think you'll eat them all within a few days, wrap them individually in plastic wrap to keep them moist for longer.  

slightly modified from a recipe found in the Penzeys Winter Magazine.


Friday, February 20, 2015

Whole-Grain Pumpkin Muffins

While I had the 100 Days of Real Food checked out from the library, I sampled several of her recipes.  This was one of my favorites!  The muffins were extremely moist and flavorful.  And I'm a sucker for a really good muffin!


1 1/2 cups whole-spelt or whole-wheat flour
1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)

Preheat the oven to 350.  Line a muffin pan with liners or spray with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking spa, salt, and baking powder.  Make a well (hole) in the center of the flour mixture and drop in the eggs, honey, and melted butter.  Mix together until smooth, but don't over mix.  Fold in the pumpkin puree just until combined.

Divide the batter among 12 muffin cups.  Bake until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean, 18-20 minutes.  Store at room temperature or freeze for a rainy day!

recipe taken from 100 Days of Real Food

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Cajun Chicken Spaghetti

This could be a very yummy hassle-free dinner.  I made extra work for myself by making my own alfredo sauce, but the flavors were great and after getting everything in the crock pot, I didn't have to think about it again until dinner time!  



10 
ounces (about 2/3 of a 1 lb box) dried spaghetti noodles
15 ounce jar Alfredo sauce
medium (about 1 cup) yellow onion, diced
cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 
pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 
pound andouille sausage, sliced (I used keilbasa sausage)
green bell pepper, diced
14.5 ounce can Muir Glen Fire-roasted Tomatoes
1 1/2 
tablespoons Creole seasoning
1/4 
cup heavy cream
1/2 
teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS

  • Get all the ingredients out. You’re going to do just a tiny bit of chopping and then a whole lot of dumping – it’s that simple!
  • Dice the chicken and slice the andouille sausage.
  • Dice the onion, chop the green bell pepper, mince the garlic and you’re done! That’s all the prep work. Now we’re just going to add everything to the slow cooker.
  • Pour 1/3 of the Alfredo sauce into the bottom of the slow cooker and stir in the onions and garlic.
  • Layer the chicken pieces on top of the saucy onions.
  • Sprinkle ½ of the Creole seasoning over the chicken.
  • Layer the green bell peppers over the chicken.
  • Layer the andouille sausage over the chicken.
  • Next pour the tomatoes (including the juice) over the sausage.
  • Sprinkle the remaining Creole seasoning over the tomatoes.
  • Pour the remaining Alfredo sauce over the tomatoes.
  • Close the lid and cook on low for 4 hours.
  • Open the lid, enjoy the whiff of the delicious sauce, and give it a stir to combine everything.
  • Add about ¼ cup of heavy cream to make the sauce that much creamier and yummy. Add the salt. Add more according to taste or add more Creole seasoning if desired.
  • Break the spaghetti noodles in thirds and place them in the sauce. 
  • Stir the noodles around in the sauce until completely coated and submerged in the sauce. Make sure they’re not sticking out. Raise the heat to high and cook for another 20-25 minutes. Keep in mind that once you turn the slow cooker off, the sauce and noodles will continue to cook for a few minutes and you don’t want to overcook the noodles. So if you’re not going to eat immediately, reduce the time you cook the noodles.
  • Give your Slow Cooker Cajun Spaghetti a good stir or two and you’re ready to rock n’ roll!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Cinnamon-Glazed Popcorn


This is a tasty, wholesome snack alternative to Cracker Jacks or caramel corn.  No, I won't pretend that it's just as good, but if you're looking to remove some refined sugar from your diet while still enjoying a treat, this is a great option!


recipe from 100 Days of Real Food, by Lisa Leake

6 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 salt
1 1/2 cups raw cashews
8 cups cooked plain popcorn (from about 1/2 cup kernels)

Preheat oven to 325.  Cover a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small pot over low heat, melt the butter and honey together.  Mix in the cinnamon, ginger, and salt.

Put the cashews in an extra-large mixing bowl.  Coat them with about 2 tablespoons of the nosy-butter mixture.

Spread the coated nuts onto the prepared baking sheet and toast them for six minutes, or until lightly golden.

Meanwhile, in the same large bowl evenly coat the plain popcorn - minus any unpopped kernels - with the remaining honey-butter mixture.

Add the popcorn to the tray with the cashews.  Combine the mixture thoroughly and bake for four more minutes.  Stir or shake the mixture around and bake for two more minutes.  Repeat this process one or two more times, until the mixture is medium brown.  The popcorn can burn easily, so it's important to check on it and stir (or shake around) frequently.

The popcorn and nuts will be slightly soft right out of the oven but will harden as they cool.  Store in an airtight container.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Noodle Kugel

I must have been in a strange state of mind while making my menu plan, because after selecting Carrot-Mushroom Loaf (see yesterday's post), I wrote down this recipe as our next meal.  I had no idea what a "kugel" was, but I thought the recipe looked interesting and decided to give it a try.  Well, whatever credit I lost in serving my family the carrot-mushroom loaf, I made up for and added credit by serving them this!  Our meal was interrupted with a need to help our neighbor, and as we were getting up from the table, my oldest exclaimed, "As soon as we get back home, I am coming straight back to my plate and eating all of this because it's SO GOOD!"  And it was very good, similar to a bread pudding that you'd serve for brunch.  It was just sweet enough to combat the sour yogurt, and plenty creamy.  I had enough of the ingredients to make a full 9x13 pan, but wasn't sure if we'd like it that much, so I cut everything in half and just made a square dish.  Which means I can make another square pan next week!  I did use cream cheese, and chose one apple as my add-in with a little brown sugar on top.

A kugel is a baked casserole similar to bread pudding and usually made with noodles or potatoes.  

Recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook


1 1-lb. (or 12-oz.) package wide egg noodles
2 to 3 Tbs butter (optional)
3 eggs
2 cups cottage cheese (lowfat ok)
3/4 cup sour cream or yogurt
8 oz. cream cheese (lowfat ok) - optional
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 to 2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar, to taste
1/2 to 1 tsp salt, to taste

optional add-ins:
1 to 2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup raisins
1 tart apple, peeled and chopped
2 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced

optional toppings:
1 cup breadcrumbs and/or wheat germ
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375.  Lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking dish.

Cook the noodles until about half-done.  Drain, and toss with butter (or simply rinse in cold water and drain again).  Transfer to a large bowl.

Combine eggs, cottage cheese, sour cream or yogurt, cream cheese, cinnamon, suer, and salt in a blender or food processor and whip until smooth.  Stir this into the noodles, along with whatever optional additions you choose.  Transfer to the baking pan.

Comine the topping ingredients and sprinkle them over the top.  Bake uncovered for about 40 minutes.  Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.




Monday, January 26, 2015

Carrot-Mushroom Loaf

I knew when I put this meal on my menu for the week that it wasn't going to be a family favorite.  But for some reason, the recipe intrigued me enough to brave the critics and give it a try anyway.
The result was a bit odd, but in a good way.  It's not really a loaf at all, but more like a highly textured casserole (I would use the smallest setting on my grater for the carrots next time).  I thought the flavor combination was good!  But, as expected, my gingersnaps were not huge fans.  They did okay eating it the first time (I made sure not to give them a big after-school snack that day!), but when I brought out the leftovers again for a second meal, there were major groans.  So I'm not sharing this recipe with you because it was a dinner-winner in my home.  But I do think it was good enough for those who, like me, have some strange taste buds and are drawn to this sort of dish!

recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook

2 cups minced onion
1 Tbsp butter
1 lb. mushrooms, chopped
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp basil
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp dill
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 lbs. carrots, grated (about 6 cups)
2 cups superb bread crumbs
1 cup packed grated cheddar cheese
2 eggs, beaten
black pepper, to taste

optional toppings:
extra dill
cheese
bread crumbs
a sprinkling of sesame seeds


Lightly oil a 9x13-inch baking dish.  Preheat the oven to 350.

In a large skillet, saute onions in butter over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Add mushrooms, salt, herbs, and garlic, and continue to sauté for about 10 more minutes.

In a large bowl, combine carrots, bread crumbs, cheese, eggs, and pepper.  Add the sautéed mixture and mix well.  Spread into the prepared pan and sprinkle with your choice of toppings.  Cover the pan with foil.

Bake for 30 minutes, covered, then uncover and bake 15 minutes more.  Serve hot or warm.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Apricot-Almond Bread

This recipe comes from the Moosewood Cookbook.  The forward to the recipe said it is a good mid-evening snack, "when you want something - sweet, but not too - and you don't know exactly what you want".  After tasting the bread, I think the description is spot on.  I would adjust the baking time, though.  90 minutes was far too long for my loaf.

butter for the pan
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced dried apricots
1 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups flour (I used one cup whole wheat and the rest all-purpose)
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp softened butter
1/2 cup honey or real maple syrup
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 to 1 tsp orange rind zest
1 cup finely chopped almonds

Preheat oven to 350.  Butter a large loaf pan.

Place apricots and water in a medium-sized saucepan and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for ten minutes.  Transfer to a medium-sized bowl, and allow to cool for about 15 minutes.

Sift together dry ingredients (except almonds) in a separate bowl.

Stir the butter plus honey or syrup into the cooled apricot mixture.  Beat in the egg and vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients, orange rind, and almonds.  Mix minimally but well.

Spread into the prepared pan, and bake about 1 1/2 hours, or until a probe inserted all the way down comes out clean.  I took my bread out at about 75 minutes and it was already past done.  Let cool for ten minutes in the pan, then rap the pan firmly a few times on its sides and bottom.  The bread should slip right out.  Cool at least 15 minutes more before slicing.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Overnight Blueberry French Toast

You can't go wrong with dessert for breakfast!  I'd had this several years ago when Jessie made it, so I knew we were in for a treat.  I halved this recipe and baked everything in a square dish.  Yum! 


12 slices day-old bread
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1 cup fresh blueberries
12 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup maple syrup

1 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon butter

DIRECTIONS
Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish. Spread the cream cheese on the slices of bread and then cut the bread into 1 inch cubes. Arrange 2/3 of the bread cubes in the dish, sprinkle 1 cup blueberries over the cream cheese and top with remaining bread cubes.

In a large bowl, mix the eggs, milk, vanilla extract, and syrup. Pour over the bread cubes. Cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Remove the bread cube mixture from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before baking. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Cover, and bake 30 minutes. Uncover, and continue baking 25 to 30 minutes, until center is firm and surface is lightly browned.

In a medium saucepan, mix the sugar, cornstarch, and water. Bring to a boil. Stirring constantly, cook 3 to 4 minutes. Mix in the remaining 1 cup blueberries. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, until the blueberries burst. Stir in the butter, and pour over the baked French toast

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Sour Cream Pork Chops

Be careful when you take the pork chops out of the crock pot on this one.  The meat is super tender and falls apart so easily! 


6 pork chops
salt and pepper to taste
garlic powder to taste
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 large onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 (8 ounce) container sour cream

Season pork chops with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and then dredge in 1/2 cup flour. In a skillet over medium heat, lightly brown chops in a small amount of oil.
Place chops in slow cooker, and top with onion slices. Pour chicken broth over chops. Cover, and cook on Low 7 to 8 hours.
When meat is almost done, preheat oven to 200 degrees F (95 degrees C).
After the chops have cooked, carefully remove from pot and transfer to the oven to keep warm. Be careful, the chops are so tender they will fall apart. In a small bowl, blend 2 tablespoons flour with the sour cream; mix into meat juices. Turn slow cooker to High for 15 to 30 minutes, or until sauce is slightly thickened. Serve sauce over pork chops.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Grandpa Willie's Chili

Jessie's dad (AKA Grandpa Willie) is serious about his Texas chili.  And this is some serious chili, ya'll!  I halved the recipe and still had enough to feed our family twice.  This is the first time I've made chili and served it over rice . . . I really liked it!  The flavor of the meat was deeeeeelicious!


4 lbs. meat…use either coarse ground beef or hand-cut sirloin, round, etc.
2 medium onions
1-2 cloves garlic
3-4 Tbsp. Chili powder
2 Tbsp. Ground cumin
2 Tbsp. Paprika
2 tsp. Oregano
2 Tbsp. Salt
1 Tbsp. Black pepper
1 12 oz. can tomato paste
1 12 oz. can beef broth
1 cup dark beer

cooked white rice
cooked pinto beans
Chop onions. Sauté onions and garlic in a small amount of oil. Remove onions and garlic from oil. Brown meat until cooked through. Add sautéed onions, garlic, spices, broth, tomato paste and beer. Bring chili to a boil, cover and simmer SLOWLY for 2 ½ to 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Adjust seasoning during final hour of cooking (salt and pepper). You may also want to remove lid to thicken chili. 

Serve with white rice and beans.

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