Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Easy Tortilla Soup

I was shocked at how good this tasted for how easy it was to make!  The flavor will vary depending on what kind of salsa verde you choose, but I went with the basic stuff I found in my regular grocery store and it turned out good.  Sour cream is a must.

1 12-ounce jar salsa verde
3 cups cooked chicken pieces
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained (I used northern beans)
3 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
Tortilla chips (optional)

Empty the salsa into a large saucepan. Cook 2 minutes over medium-high heat, then add the chicken, beans, broth, and cumin (if desired). Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Top each bowl with a sprinkling of onions, a dollop of sour cream, and some tortilla chips (if desired). For a soupier dish, use 4 cups of broth.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Biscuit Pot Pie

Everyone loves pot pie, right?!  I made a few changes and used leftover turkey and homemade turkey stock in this yummy dish.  I chopped the veggies and made the biscuits earlier in the day, making this an easy dinner to put together on a busy afternoon.  Everyone in my family cleared their plates!  My husband and I both agreed that we could have used more filling, so I might double the veggies and add a bit more liquid next time.

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 small onion, diced 
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced 
  • 2 ribs celery, diced 
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 2 cups chicken broth or turkey stock
  • 1 1/2 cups milk 
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
  • 3 1/2 cups shredded chicken, or turkey 
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas 
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1 teaspoon sugar 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes 
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk

  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside. 
  • In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda and salt. Add cold butter, using your fingers to work the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add buttermilk and stir using a rubber spatula until a soft dough forms. 
  • Working on a lightly floured surface, knead the dough 3-4 times until it comes together. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 10- by 7-inch rectangle, about 1-inch thick. Cut out 6-8 rounds using a 3-inch biscuit or cookie cutter. Place biscuits onto the prepared baking sheet; set aside in the refrigerator. 
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly oil a 9x13 baking dish or coat with nonstick spray. 
  • To make the filling, melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic, onion, carrots and celery, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in chicken broth, milk and thyme, and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in chicken and peas; season with salt and pepper, to taste. 
  • Add chicken mixture to prepared baking dish. Place into oven and bake for 15 minutes. Top with prepared biscuits and bake until tops are golden brown, an additional 10-12 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Chicken Under a Brick

Earlier this month, Jessie and I did another menu swap, so I have lots of great new recipes to share as we wrap up 2014!  Each post this week will be from the menu Jessie gave me - everything was delicious!

My favorite thing about this chicken was that I discovered my girls and I share a love for banana peppers!  I would never have thought to make something for my family that starred banana pepper rings, but I'm glad I did because everyone enjoyed it!  I went easy with the sauce on the chicken pieces for the kids so it wouldn't be too spicy.  I usually cook meat too long, as I did with this, so the chicken was a tad dry, but that was totally user error.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Freshly ground black pepper
1 t crushed red pepper flakes
1T Dijon mustard
5 T EVOO, divided
3 T finely chopped banana pepper rings
2 T hot pickled pepper juice
Handful freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley 

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. 
Combine crushed red pepper, mustard and about 2 tablespoons oil in a small dish. Slather the mixture over the skin of the chicken. Place chicken face down in a nonstick skillet. Set loose foil over chicken then a plate or smaller pan on top and weigh it down with a brick or heavy cans. Place pan over medium to medium-high heat and cook. 
After 18 minutes flip the chicken to get some color on the other side. Reduce the heat from medium to medium-low and cook for another 2 minutes, until cooked through. Remove weight, turn chicken over and sprinkle with chopped hot peppers then douse with pepper juice and top with parsley.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Nutty Sweet Potato Waffles

These made a wonderful breakfast-for-dinner meal for my family.  The texture is softer than your standard waffle, and the flavor is perfect for Fall.  Happy Thanksgiving!

1/2 cup butter
3 cups cooked and mashed sweet potatoes (approximately 2 medium potatoes)
6 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups rolled oats, finely ground in blender
1/2 cup walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, or cashews, finely ground in blender
2 Tbsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar, optional

Melt butter.  Set aside and allow to cool.

After butter has melted, stir in mashed potatoes, beaten eggs, and milk.

In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, nuts, baking powder, salt, and sugar.  Add dry ingredients to sweet potato mixture and site until combined.  Bake in a hot waffle iron.  Maple syrup, honey, and yogurt all make nice toppings.

recipe adapted from Simply in Season

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Baked Chicken Nuggets

These have little to do with Thanksgiving or holiday food, but I've already made them twice since trying them the first time, so I felt like I needed to share.  One time I Made them, I didn't use bread or the food processor, but used store-bought bread crumbs.  They weren't near as good.  But follow the directions below and I think you'll be pleased with this healthier version of homemade chicken nuggets.  

  • 2-3 thick slices whole wheat bread (for about 1 cup of crumbs)
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup panko crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 4 large (about 2 pounds) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch or so sized pieces
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.
  2. In a food processor or blender, place the slices of whole wheat bread and pulse until crumbs form. Add the basil, oregano and Parmesan cheese and pulse until combined. Pour the bread crumbs into a shallow dish (like a pie plate) and mix in the panko crumbs.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, egg whites and water until well combined. Pat the chicken cubes dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Toss the chicken cubes in the egg white/olive oil mixture before taking a few of them at a time and rolling them in the bread crumb mixture to coat evenly.
  4. Place the coated chicken nuggets on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes. Using a pair of tongs, carefully flip the nuggets over (taking care not to remove the breading) and bake for 5 minutes longer, or until cooked through (the exact time will depend on the size of the chicken pieces). Serve immediately.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Squash Stuffed Rice Pilaf

I've made several versions of this over the past few weeks and thought I'd share one of my favorite go-to meals for the Fall season.  You can play with the ingredients and use different kinds of squash to find what suits your family best!  I've done it before where you roast the pilaf inside the squash, but I find just filling the already-roasted squash with the already-preapred pilaf gets the food in my little one's mouths faster.  This is a great way to use leftover turkey as well!

1 medium squash for every two people, cut in halves or quarters, depending on size (I typically use three acorn squash for my family of five, or two butternut squash)

Preheat oven to 350.  Light oil a roasting pan.  Clean out seeds from the squash.  Place flesh-side-down on the roasting pan.  Bake for 45-60 minutes, until flesh is tender (use a fork or knife to test).

1 cup long grain rice, prepared as directed (I use half chicken broth and half water for the liquid)
1/2 cup wild rice, prepared as directed
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 onion, chopped
two stalks celery, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp ground sage
1/2 - 1 cup meat, optional (My favorites are cooked and crumbled bacon or leftover turkey.  Cooked and diced chicken works well, as does a mild crumbled sausage)
1/2 apple, chopped
1/4 cup fired cranberries
1/3 cup toasted nuts
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a large frying pan on medium-high heat.  Add onions, celery, and garlic and cook until they are starting to soften, about five minutes.

Add thyme, sage, meat and apple.  Cooke about five more minutes (the apple will still have a little texture to it.  You can cook it first with the onions if you want it to be softer).

Last, add rice to pan.  Turn heat down to medium, and stir while cooking a few minutes to combine everything well (you can cooke more or less time, depending on how dry you want your pilaf to be.). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Remove pan from heat.  Stir in cranberries and nuts.  Pile pilaf into baked squash halves, top with a dollop of butter (why not?!), and serve hot.

Happy Thanksgiving week!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Moosewood Cookbook {Moosewood Fudge Brownies}

I received this book from the Blogging For Books Program for no charge in exchange for my honest review of this book. 

I enjoy reading cookbooks (with a pad of little sticky tabs next to me, if you didn't already notice!).  I find that reading through recipes not only provides new ideas for meals, but also gives inspiration for doing my own thing with what we have on hand when the creative juices are flowing!  The 40th Anniversary edition of the Moosewood Cookbook was released last month and I've loved flipping through the pages.  The recipes feel approachable, both because of the seasonal and simple ingredients used, and also because the recipes look as though the author, Mollie Katzen, hand-wrote each recipe for you, with her own beautiful doodles included!  I won't go into the history of the cookbook, but I think it's worth a look if you enjoy recipes with a vegetarian framework focusing on the simplicity of using natural ingredients.  The variety of recipes ranges from baked goods to curries to cold soups to lots of different sauces and dips.  I opted to try out the brownies first.  After tasting the results, I'd say it was a very good decision!

As far as brownies go, it's not one of my favorite desserts to make from scratch, but these were decadent and delicious, especially paired with vanilla ice cream.  The recipe states that they "aren't for the faint of heart"!  Think rich and dense chocolate that pretty much requires a tall glass of milk or large scoop of ice cream to go with.

recipe taken from the Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen

butter for the pan
5 oz. (5 squares) unsweetened chocolate
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 3/4 cups (packed) light brown sugar (white sugar also OK)
5 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour (use 3/4 cup for fudgier brownies)
The recipe lists "many optional embellishments".  I chose 1/2 tsp cinnamon.  Mmmmm . . . .

Butter a 9x13-inch baking pan.  Preheat oven to 350.
Gently melt the chocolate.  Let it cool for about 10 minutes.
Cream the butter and sugar in a medium-sized bowl until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  Stir in the vanilla.
Stir constantly as you drizzle in the melted chocolate.  After all the chocolate is in, beat well for a minute or two.
Stir in flour and possible embellishments.  Mix just enough to blend thoroughly.
Spread the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cut into squares while still hot, then allow to cool for at least 10 minutes, if you can wait that long.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Butternut Harvest Stew

This perfectly Fall stew comes from my Simply in Season cookbook.  Everyone in my family loved it!  

2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 pounds boneless pork, cut in 1/2-inch chunks
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chicken broth
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp rubbed or ground sage
1 bay leaf
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped in bite-size chunks
2 medium apples, peeled and roughly chopped

Melt butter in a large saucepan.  Add pork, onion, and garlic and sauté until meat is no longer pink; drain off fat.
Add broth and spices (including bay leaf).  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
Add squash and apples and simmer, uncovered, until squash is tender.  About 20 minutes.  
Discard bay leaf and serve.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sweet Potato Spice Cake with Maple Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Ok.  Heads up.  This cake is so delicious, super moist and perfect for Fall.  It was so good, in fact, I was compelled to share with our neighbors (because I like to share, but also because I would have eaten more than my fair share if it'd been left in the house!)  The frosting is really what makes the dessert so scrumptious.  Don't be fooled by the sweet potato ingredient.  It is most definitely a cake.  But why not add a side of veggies with your dessert when you can?!

for the cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mashed sweet potato (*see note below)
2 large eggs

for the frosting:4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 cups confectioners' sugar

Grease and flour 13" x 9" cake pan. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger). Set aside.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together mashed sweet potato and buttermilk.
In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, mix the oil, sugar and vanilla. Beat to combine.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with sweet potato buttermilk mixture.
Beat all until well combined.
Pour into prepared pan.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Cool completely in the pan.

to make the frosting:In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth.
Add vanilla, maple syrup and cinnamon and beat well.
Gradually, add sugar and beat well until thick and smooth.
Spread over cooled cake.

*This recipe calls for only 1/2 of a cup of mashed sweet potato. A fast and easy way to make it is to take one medium sweet potato, scrub it clean, prick it with a fork and microwave it for 4 to 5 minutes, turning once half-way through. Then just let it cool until safe to the touch, slice in half and scoop out the flesh. Mash it in a small bowl and let cool completely before mixing with buttermilk.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Honey and Olive Oil Zucchini Muffins

Thank you, Ranee, for posting about these deliciously sweet muffins.  They are probably the most moist muffins I've ever had (except for the kind that claim to be muffins but are actually cupcakes!).

3 cups grated zucchini
2 beaten eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup olive oil
2/3 cup real maple syrup
1/3 cup honey
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine the zucchini, eggs, vanilla, olive oil, maple syrup, and honey. Stir gently until mixed; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Stir to combine and make a well in the middle. Pour the wet mixture from step one into the well and stir just a few times until barely combined. Overmixing makes the muffins tough and hard, so I try to limit myself to 15 big around-the-bowl stirs.

Pour the batter in a muffin tin greased with nonstick cooking spray or lined with paper cups. You should be able to get 6-8 jumbo muffins or 15-16 regular sized muffins. Bake for 20 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown and the tops spring back when you press on them.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Butternut Sage Orzo

Using orzo in this dish creates a taste similar to risotto, but without having to constantly watch and stir the pot.  The leftovers were even better.  

1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 butternut squash; peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken broth, divided
1/2 cup white wine or additional broth
1 cup orzo
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
2 Tbsp fresh sage, or 1 1/2 tsp dried (if using dried, add it to the simmering butternut)

In a large frying pan or dutch oven, heat 1 Tbsp oil over medium high heat.  Add onion and cook until tender, about 6 minutes.  Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add squash pieces and stir to coat, then add 1/2 cup broth and white wine.  Simmer until squash is almost tender and liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.

While squash cooks, bring 4 cups broth (or water) to a boil in a large saucepan and then add orzo.  Boil until tender but still firm to bite, about 8 minutes.  Drain.  Transfer to a large bowl.  Stir in squash mixture.

recipe taken from Simply in Season

Friday, October 10, 2014

Keilbasa, Onion, Pepper, and Potato Hash

This comes together so quickly.  I would have thrown it all in one pan had I not read the notes saying that keeping the potatoes separate until the very end is what keeps them crispy, which was my son's favorite part of the dish!  Add some fried eggs and you have an easy and hearty dinner.

1 (14 ounce) package turkey kielbasa, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
2 green bell peppers, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
olive oil
salt and pepper

In a heavy bottomed skillet (I like to use my cast iron), heat 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the potatoes to the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Fry until golden brown and cooked through, around 8-10 minutes, stirring a few times to ensure even browning.  

In a separate skillet, brown the sliced kielbasa for around 5 minutes in 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium high heat.  Remove the kielbasa from the pan and set aside.  Add the peppers and onions to the skillet and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Cook for 5 minutes, or until softened, stirring occasionally.  

Add the cooked potatoes and kielbasa to the skillet with the onions and peppers and mix everything together.  Serve nice and hot!

Some notes:  
-I use two skillets to make this recipe.  I used to make it in one, but something always came out wrong.  I've learned that when I cook my potatoes in a separate skillet they cook more evenly and stay nice any crispy when they're added to the other ingredients right before serving.
-Sometimes I'll add some minced garlic to the peppers and onions, but it tastes just as good without it.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Chicken and Sweet Potato Soup

This was simply delicious.  The pureed vegetables add a nice texture to the mix.  I love the natural sweetness that comes from the potatoes and squash.  I used some chicken from a bird I roasted earlier in the week, which added a nice flavor to the pot.  I love soup, especially when we get to eat it in the Fall!

  1. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  2. 2 cups cooked chicken, lightly shredded or chopped into bite-size pieces
  3. 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  4. 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 -inch dice
  5. 1/2 butternut squash, or other pumpkin variety, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  6. 3-4 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
  7. 1 tsp dried sage
  8. 1 tsp dried parsley
  9. 1 bay leaf
  10. 1/4 tsp salt, more to taste
  11. pepper to taste
  12. 1 1/13 cups whole milk 

  13. Melt the butter in a large saucepan.  Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes and squash and cook for 3 minutes.  Add the stock, sage, parsley, bay leaf, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.  Simmer, uncovered, over moderately low heat, until the  the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
  14. Using a slotted spoon, transfer 1 1/2 cups of the vegetables to a food processor or blender; puree until smooth.  Add a little broth to smooth out if the mixture is too thick.  Return the puree to the saucepan. Add the chicken.  Stir in the milk and season with salt and pepper if needed.  Simmer the soup for 3 minutes, then discard the bay leaf.  Serve hot.
adapted from original recipe found here

Friday, September 26, 2014

Banana Oat Breakfast Muffins

Since I seem to be on a muffin kick (when am I not?!), here is another flourless through-it-all-in-the-blender-and-pour recipe.  I'd like to try making the batter the night before and keeping it in the fridge until the morning to see how that would work.  The muffins are dense, but worked well as a breakfast for my gingersnaps.  Instead of putting the chocolate chips in the batter, I just sprinkled three or four on each muffin cup once they were full.  The appearance of something having a lot of chocolate chips in it goes a long way for my kiddos, when three or four per muffin was enough to satisfy.

1 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 ripe bananas
2 eggs
2 cups rolled oats (old fashioned or quick)
¼ cup brown sugar
1½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ cup chocolate chips, mini or regular (optional)

Preheat oven to 400F and prepare a muffin pan by spraying cavities with cooking spray. Set aside.

Add all ingredients except for chocolate chips to a blender or food processor and process on high until oats are broken down and batter is smooth and creamy. Stir in chocolate chips by hand.

Pour batter into prepared muffin pan, filling each cavity until it is about ¾ full. Optional: sprinkle a few chocolate chips over the top of each muffin.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the tops of your muffins are set and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool in pan for ~10 minutes before removing. Store in an air-tight container for up to a week.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Pumpkin Oat and Honey Muffins

These little snackies have no flour and no sugar in them, but no one in my family seemed to miss those ingredients.  I hesitate to call them muffins because they had more of a sunken-down "pile" look and dense texture to them after cooling.  But looks aren't everything and I'll make these again anyway.  I love that I can pour the batter straight from my Vitamix into the pan.

original recipe found here

2 1/2 c oats (regular or quick is fine)
1 c plain nonfat greek yogurt
1/2 c honey
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 t pumpkin pie spice
1 c canned pumpkin
1/2 c chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray tin with non-stick cooking spray.  My most favorite is called Baker's Joy (it has flour added in). You could also use a silicone muffin pan.  (I don't recommend using paper liners for these.

Place all of the liquid ingredients in the blender (including pumpkin), and then blend adding oats in 1/2 c at a time until smooth.  You may need to stop the blender a few times to stir.  Stir in chopped walnuts after blending is complete.

Divide batter among 12 muffin cups and bake for 20 min. or until toothpick comes out clean.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Zucchini Carrot Squares

I made a batch of these muffin-like squares for my family to have as snacks last week.  In the end, I think the batter would have worked just as well in a muffin tin and easier to hand out to little hands.  But they were good nonetheless.  Everyone was a fan!

adapted from this recipe

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups grated carrots
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup apple sauce
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray 13x9 baking pan with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and baking soda.  Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine all other ingredients.
Add carrot mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until combined.
Spread evenly into prepared pan.  Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting into squares.
Tastes nicely with cream cheese or butter!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Avacado Tuna Wrap

I saw this idea floating around on pinterest and decided to give it a try.  My son (who eats more than I do) and I both made the mix into a wrap.  There was more than enough for us to share lunch.

one can tuna
one ripe avocado
two hard-boiled eggs, yolk removed and whites diced
salt and pepper to taste
a small spoonful of mayonnaise, optional

Mash everything together in a medium bowl with a fork or potato masher.  Season to taste.
Serve as a wrap, sandwich, on toast, with crackers, or just eat with a spoon.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Banana Oatmeal Bread

I'm slowly building up my baking cupboard again and, thankfully, had what I needed to make this yummy bread for breakfast.  I made some changes from the original recipe and baked the "loaf" in a circle casserole dish that I used to mix the batter in, because that's all I have available in our hotel kitchen!  I served it up in wedge slices with some yogurt and we pretended we were eating cake!

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 brown sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
4 tsp canola oil
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup oats

Preheat oven to 350F.  In a large bowl, stir together dry ingredients.  Add oil and eggs; mix thoroughly.  Add mashed bananas and oats to batter and stir until well combined.

Spray a loaf pan (or casserole dish!) with cooking spray.  Pour batter into pan and bake until top of loaf is firm to touch and springs back when lightly pressed, 40-50 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes.  Flip out and cool on a wire rack for another 10 minutes.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

BBQ Chicken Pasta

My family has been in the midst of an international move for the past month.  Hence the silence around here.  I have several recipes that I wanted to share, but didn't write them down before the movers came and packed up my cookbooks - so those will have to wait!  I still don't have my kitchen, but there's something a little romantic about trying to create good meals for my family in a minimally supplied hotel kitchenette (I broke down yesterday and bought a cheese grater!).  I made this tonight.  Not the most amazing thing ever, but still good and filling.  I love pasta, so I had no problem with the penne/sauce combo.  My husband thought it was a little strange.  

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size chunks
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounces penne pasta
  • 2/3 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

  • In a large 12-inch nonstick skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat (you could also use a large pot if you don’t have a skillet this big). When hot, add the chicken and onions and saute, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is browned and cooked through. Remove the chicken and onions to a plate and set aside.

  • In the same skillet, add the water, chicken broth, penne and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, until the liquid is almost absorbed and the pasta is tender. Stir in the barbecue sauce and sour cream. Once mixed, add in the reserved chicken, onions and shredded cheese. Stir to combine and cook until everything is heated through.

  • Serve immediately and garnish with additional red or green onions and shredded cheese.

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.

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