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!  

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
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
cup heavy cream
teaspoon salt


  • 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.

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