Saturday, June 28, 2014

Coconut Oil Biscuits

These were easy enough to put together for a weekday breakfast.  he biscuits have a slightly denser texture than buttermilk biscuits.  I loved the hint of coconut flavor that comes out from the oil.  A smear of butter and dab of honey was all we needed to polish off this batch!

2 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup coconut oil (room temperature)
3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Add flour, baking powder, salt, and coconut oil to a mixing bowl, and use a pastry cutter or forks to cut the coconut oil into the flour until the mixture is like fine crumbs. Stir in the milk until mixture forms a soft dough and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. Knead the mixture until combined, but be careful not to over-knead.
Turn the dough out onto a cutting board that has been lightly dusted with flour. Gently roll the dough out until it reaches a 1/2-inch thickness. Use a biscuit cutter (mine was heart-shaped cookie cutter!) to cut out the biscuits, and transfer to a baking sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes, or until the biscuits have risen and ever so slightly begin to brown on top. Remove and serve immediately.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Fruit Water

I am loving the sunny days we've been having this month and am keeping "fruit water" stocked in our fridge.  The kids think it's great and this was our favorite combination:

two lime slices
five cucumber slices
a handful of strawberries (greens removed)
a handful of mint leaves

Lemon and orange slices also join in the rotation of what goes in the pitcher.  I find the "flavors" usually need changing after two full days of water refills.  It's so refreshing after playing in the sunshine!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Blueberry Banana Spelt Muffins

Thank you to my friend, Kenan, for passing on this yummy muffin recipe!  I've made blueberry banana muffins before, but these are a bit more hardy and a tad more healthy.  I made a few changes based on what I had since I didn't need them to stay soy-free or vegan.  My kids have been grateful for these muffins as after-school snacks this week!

2 medium bananas, mashed
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
2 cups light spelt flour
3 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking spice (or cinnamon)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 350F and grease a muffin tin.

Place mashed banana into medium bowl along with the milk, vinegar, maple syrup, and vanilla. Stir in coconut oil.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda).

Pour wet ingredients onto the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Do not overmix as spelt is a fragile little flour.  Gently fold in the walnuts and then the blueberries, being sure not to overmix as this can result in dense muffins.

Spoon about a heaping 1/4 cup of batter into each muffin tin, filling each tin about 3/4 full (they will seem very full, but this is normal!)  Bake at 350F for 23-27 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. I baked them for 25 minutes.  Cool in pan for 5-8 minutes and then transfer muffins to a cooling rack and cool for another 15 minutes.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

No Bake Speculoos Oatmeal Cookies

I love Speculoos - both in cookie and spread form.  Love it!  So when I saw this recipe, I expected the simple cookies to knock my socks off!  Well, they were pretty good.  But not that good.  The texture was sorta strange, almost like raw cookie dough, but more wet.  And for as much Speculoos spread as I had to use, I would choose to make these again instead (or just eat it with a spoon!).

6 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup speculoos cookie butter spread
2 tsp vanilla
3 1/3 cups quick cook oats

In a large saucepan, combine butter, milk, speculoos and sugar and bring to a rolling boil, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat.  Add in vanilla and mix.  Fold in oats and stir well. Depending on your oats, you may either need a little more oats, or a little more milk. They should come together to be thick, gooey and hold their shape when placed on wax paper or a silpat.
Place rounded spoonfuls onto wax paper (or silpat) and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to completely cool and help set.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Quinoa and Black Bean Stuffed Peppers

The mixture used to stuff the peppers was lacking a little in flavor, but the enchilada sauce helped with that.  Overall, this meal was easy to prepare and went over well with my family.

4 bell peppers (any color), sliced in half stem-to-tip, seeds removed
1c quinoa, uncooked
½ medium onion, diced
1 (15oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 roma tomato, seeded and diced
1 (4oz) can diced green chiles (don't drain)
¼c cilantro, minced
¼tsp salt
¼tsp pepper
olive oil, if desired
½c Monterrey Jack, grated
½c cheddar cheese, grated
1 28 oz. can red enchilada sauce

Add quinoa and onion to a large saucepan with 2 cups of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil 5 minutes, cover, turn off heat and let steam 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

In the meantime, microwave pepper halves 2-3 minutes to soften slightly. (Prepared this way, the peppers should come out crisp-tender. If you want them crisper, you can omit this step.)

Pour quinoa/onion mixture into a mixing bowl. Stir in black beans, tomato, green chiles and their juices, cilantro, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper. If the mixture seems to dry, drizzle in a bit of olive oil (I didn't need any).

Pour enchilada sauce into a 9x13" baking dish. Divide filling among peppers. Nestle stuffed peppers into the enchilada sauce. Sprinkle with cheeses.

Cover the pan with foil and bake at 375 degrees 25-30 minutes. Remove foil and cook about 5 minutes longer. Serve peppers drizzled with enchilada sauce.

Monday, May 26, 2014

No-Bake Chewy Granola Bars

My neighbor shared a batch of these after my youngest was born and I've been making them since.  I made a few changes, but they are one of my go-to after-school or road trip snacks.  Similar to energy balls, a couple bites pack a sweet protein punch.

2 1/2 cups rice crispies
2 cups quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla

In a large bowl, combine cereal, rolled oats and raisins; set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine brown sugar and honey.  Bring to a boil over medium-hight heat, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Stir in peanut butter and vanilla; blend until smooth.  Pour over cereal mixture; mix well.  Press firmly into ungreased 13x9 pan.

Let cool.  Cut into bars.  Store in airtight container.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Ice Cream Pie

My kids and I stumbled on the Pioneer Woman cooking show last week.  She started with dessert.  Why not?!  That's usually the best part of the meal, anyway.  We were all drooling as we watched her make the simplest ice cream pie.  It looked so good, I went to the store right then and there to get the ingredients for my kids and I to make our own ice cream pie!  
It was super yummy, as expected.  And even though we used over a dozen peanut butter cups, I think it actually could have handled more - yikes!  Straight from the freezer, the pie was pretty firm.  I liked it best after the ice cream had melted just a little and each bite reminded me of a blizzard.  Now I'm churning with ideas of how to do different flavors.  I think mint chocolate is going to be my next try.

18 graham crackers (the 4-section large piece)
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 pints vanilla ice cream
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans (I didn't use these - not a big fan of actual nuts in my ice cream)
4 peanut butter cups, roughly chopped (or more!)
2 large Butterfinger, roughly chopped (I didn't use these, but just bulked up on the Reeses)

For the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Crush the graham crackers in a food processor or resealable pastil bag.  Pour the drums into a bowl and stir in the melted butter.  Press into a pie pan and bake until golden and set, about 5 minutes.  Set aside to cool completely.

For the filling:  Remove the ice cream from the freezer and allow to soften slightly.  Mix in the pecans, peanut butter cups and peanut butter crunch candy bars and pour the ice cream mixture into the crust.  Cover with foil and freeze until very hard.  1 to 2 hours.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Strawberry and Feta Salad with Honey Vinegerette

This was a deliciously light and fresh-tasting salad that I served before a hearty beef dinner last week.  It's easy to put together and looks lovely with the different colors mixed together.

2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
packed assorted baby lettuces
1 quart strawberries, hulled and sliced
4 ounces feta, crumbled
1 cup pecans, chopped and toasted

In a small bowl, stir together the mustard, honey, and vinegar.  Stir int he olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Put the lettuces in a large bowl, or on individual plates for serving.  Add the strawberries, feta, and pecans.  Drizzle the dressing over the salad, toss well, and serve.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Creamy Wild Rice Soup

I recently purchased a jar of coconut oil for the first time.  I wasn't sure how much I'd actually use it, but the jar was empty way faster than I expected!  I found so many great uses for the oil, including this delicious soup.  I wouldn't say it necessarily tastes like spring - it's a fairly hearty soup.  But it's a bright yellow color at the end and yummy enough to eat even when the weather doesn't necessarily call for tucking in with a bowl of warmth.  Wild rice takes a long time to cook and soften, so make sure you give the soup enough time to simmer.

2 Tbsp coconut oil or butter
1 1/2 tsp red curry paste
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
3/4 cup wild rice
1/4 cup brown rice
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth, or water
1 cup water
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
squeeze of lime juice

Heat 1 Tbsp coconut oil in a heavy soup pot over medium-high heat, then add the curry paste, garlic, and onion and sauté for 3 or 4 minutes, until the onion begins to soften.  Make sure the curry paste is evenly distributed before moving on to the next step.

Stir in the wild rice and 3 cups of the broth or water.  Bring to a simmer, lower the heat a bit, and cook, covered, for about 45 minutes, or until the rice starts to soften, split and show it fluffy insides.

Meanwhile, prepare the sweet potatoes.  Warm remaining 1 Tbsp coconut oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, then add the cubed potatoes and a few pinches of salt.  Toss to coat the potatoes, then cook a few minutes, until they start to get some color on the bottom.  Give them another toss to brown the other side, and continue tossing every few minutes to get more color and crispiness.  If the pan dries out at all, add a bit more oil.  When the sweet potatoes are cooked through, season to taste with salt, then scoop them out onto a paper towel to use a topping for the soup.

When the wild rice is tender, stir in the turmeric, sugar, soy sauce, coconut milk, 1 cup water, and 1 tsp salt.  Stir, return to a simmer, and cook for another 5 minutes to meld flavors.  Remove from heat and finish with a generous squeeze of lime juice.  Taste for seasoning and add a bit more salt if need be.  When you go to serve, ladle from the bottom of the pot to make sure each person gets plenty of rice in their bowl, and top with a generous sprinkling of sweet potatoes.

adapted from Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Cooking

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Banana Bran Muffins

I came across a recipe for banana bran muffins that looked good.  Glancing at the clock, I decided I had just enough time to whip up a batch to be ready as an after-school snack.  However, I broke a cardinal rule of baking and did not read the recipe carefully before beginning.  So there I was with creamed butter and sugar, but not much else that the recipe actually called for.  Oops.  Some major adjustments later and, I'm happy to say the result was still delicious!  The muffins were best just warm from the oven, but also good the next day as breakfast with some yogurt on the side.  They are hearty and brany (it's a word) and everyone liked them.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup all-bran cereal
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup  butter, softened
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 ripe bananas, mashed

Preheat oven to 375.  Grease a 12-tin muffin pan.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, all-bran, wheat germ, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and pecans.
In a separate bowl, cream together butter an drown sugar until fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat well.  Stir in mashed bananas.  Add the dry ingredients and mix well.

Spoon batter into muffin tins, filling each cup about two-thirds full.  Bake at 375 for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the venter of a muffin comes out clean.  Cool in tins for 5 minutes then remove and serve warm with a tall glass of milk or mug of coffee.

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