Monday, October 16, 2017

Cinnamon Apple & Banana Bread with Walnuts


Every weekend my husband makes our family pancakes and waffles from scratch - it's his thing. He takes his sweet, sweet time making them and they are always a highlight of our weekend!! This past Saturday he gave us a surprise by also making his cinnamon apples cooked in brown sugar and butter to spoon on top - when he does this, we know we are all getting an extra dose of love. They are so delicious and smell amazing!!!!

My husband's cinnamon apples inspired this banana bread. You all know how much I love to bake banana bread. When I see those spotted black and brown bananas on the counter I just can't wait to mash 'em up!! This time I thought I would take my husband's cinnamon apples and add them.....well, it was a fabulous idea because this bread is just pure yummy-ness! I hope you enjoy!

Apples:
1 Tbl butter
2 Tbl brown sugar
2 crisp apples, cored, and diced (I do not peel my apples, but you can)
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt

Bread: 
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour*
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick of butter, room temperature
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup sour cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped, optional

*If you do not have this, you can just use 2 cups of all-purpose flour

To make the apples:
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter and brown sugar and heat until bubbling. Add the apples and cinnamon and sauté about 5 or 6 minutes. Add the 1/8 tsp salt, stir. Set aside.

To make the bread:
Preheat oven to 350F

In a medium bowl combine flours, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger and salt.

In a separate bowl cream the soften butter and sugar together until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time. Add the sour cream and vanilla. Mix well. Add the mashed bananas and stir until all combined.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, stir. Fold in the cinnamon apples. Fold in the walnuts, if using. 

Pour the batter into a greased and floured loaf pan. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and let cool for about an hour. Turn bread out onto a clean cutting board. Slice and serve. It won't last longer than 3 days, I'll tell you that! But that's about how long you can leave it sitting out on the counter.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie


It's that time of year again - pumpkin spice everything! I thought I would put a healthy spin on the pumpkin spice trend and whip up a fiber filled smoothie that is great for your skin, gives your immunity a boost and tastes delicious, too!  Enjoy!

This makes enough for one smoothie:

1 apple (I used a honeycrisp because yes, I'm worth it!)
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup of almond milk or regular low-fat milk
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 small nub of fresh ginger (or 1/4 tsp ground if you don't have fresh)
1/2 tsp to 1 tsp pure maple syrup or honey (optional, but yummy!)
5-6 ice cubes
1 Tbl hemp seed (optional)

Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth. Drink immediately.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Greek Buddah Bowl


I know this Buddah Bowl has a lot of ingredients and dressings in it.....but I promise you, it isn't a hard salad to put together. Let my ingredient list be your guide.....you don't have to put it all in and you can add any of your favorite veggies that I didn't include here. Just have fun with it!

I made enough for two giant dinner sized salads. I made roasted tofu and baked chicken and my husband wanted the tofu! What can I say, I make the best tofu! Haha! Honestly, though, my husband said this was one of the best salads I have ever made! I agree - it was super yum!!

I didn't do this, but thought of it after - pita bread slices would have been a great addition! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

romaine lettuce, washed, dried and chopped
cooked brown rice, seasoned with salt & pepper (you could also use quinoa instead)
cucumbers, chopped
cherry tomatoes, halved
hemp seed
roasted chickpeas (recipe below)
avocado, perfectly ripe and sliced
bell pepper (red, yellow or orange) chopped
green or black olives or capers
pita bread slices for serving

Choose one of the following for added protein:
marinated and roasted tofu (which is what is pictured above), cubed
marinated and baked chicken, cut into cubes
falafel (you can get some killer falafels in the frozen food section or make your own)

Sauces (I used a combination of ALL of these in the salad - so glad I did - YUM!)
hummus (store bought)
tzatziki sauce (I made my own, recipe below - but you can use store bought)
tahini sauce (recipe below - this took all of three minutes to put together- don't skimp. In case you don't know, tahini is made from seasame seeds)

Roasted Chickpeas Recipe:

1 can of chickpeas, drained, rinsed and patted dry
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp of any or all of these spices (I used them all! YUM!)
  • cumin
  • cinnamon
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • paprika
  • brown sugar
  • salt
Heat the oven to 400F

Place chickpeas in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with spices and spread on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes and then stir. Bake for another 10 minutes (until desired softness or crispness) and remove from oven and let cool.

Tzatziki Sauce:

Greek yogurt
lemon juice to taste
small drizzle of maple syrup
salt to taste
dill or parsley, optional
finely chopped cucumber

Mix the first four ingredients together. Fold in the chopped cucumber. Done!

Tahini Dressing:

2 Tbl tahini paste
lemon juice to taste
small drizzle of maple syrup
water - enough to make it smooth

Mix all ingredients together. Add water as needed to make it smooth.

Assemble the Salad:

Put all the ingredients in a large bowl. Make it look pretty by sorting the colors and layering each veggie and protein side by side. Don't forget they say you eat with your eyes first!! Add a dollop of hummus, tzatziki sauce and tahini sauce.  You can serve this salad with some pita bread slices if you like! Enjoy!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Carrot and Pineapple Cake


I can honestly say this carrot cake is one of the best baked goods I have ever made.  It. Was. THAT. Good!! So moist, super flavorful and the cream cheese icing - AMAZING!  And I knew it would be all those things because it's a Barefoot Contessa recipe - and she has, in my opinion, never put out a recipe that doesn't taste like solid gold. I love love love her recipes and her baked goods are the best of the best!  This cake was slightly involved and on the website is says "intermediate" level - so keep that in mind....it is time consuming....but it is certainly worth the effort. 
Here is the Barefoot Contessa's recipe word for word (and please do follow it carefully):

Ingredients


For the cake:
  •  
  • <I actually used a can of crushed pineapple, drained>
For the frosting:

For the decoration:

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F

Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

For the cake:
Beat the sugar, oil, and eggs together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light yellow. Add the vanilla. In another bowl, sift together 2 1/2 cups flour, the cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Toss the raisins and walnuts with 1 tablespoon flour.

Fold in the carrots and pineapple. Add to the batter and mix well.

Divide the batter equally between the 2 pans. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes <I baked my cakes for only 52 minutes and they were perfect>, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool completely in the pans set over a wire rack.

For the frosting:
Mix the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until just combined. Add the sifted confectioners sugar and mix until smooth.

Place 1 layer, flat-side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake. Decorate with diced pineapple.


Monday, September 18, 2017

Mushroom & Hummus Soup with Rice


Oh my goodness, hummus in soup??? YES! And it is SOOOO good!!! When I came across this recipe on the Food Network website I knew I had to make it immediately. The ingredients and steps were simple, it has no cream in it (yet it's creamy), it's full of flavor, and it's filling -  it's a win-win-win! After reading some of the comments on their website, I decided to add cooked rice....definitely add the rice! I also decided to skip the lemon juice and only added lemon zest to the yogurt topping - I think this was a smart move, as well. Finally, I don't care for thyme much, so I did what I always do when a recipe calls for thyme, I used sage instead - it was great! I really loved the yogurt topping, but I think I might sub sour cream next time I make this for an even creamier topping.....just an idea!

I served this yummy soup with my Fennel & Apple Salad and a side of crusty bread. Enjoy!

Here is the recipe (with my changes in italics) from the Food Network:

Soup Ingredients:

  • <I used a combo of baby bellos and button mushrooms>
  • , to taste
  • <I used regular white wine>
  • <I used 6 chopped sage leaves instead of thyme>
  •  
  • 1 1/2 cups of cooked brown rice <my own addition, but highly recommended>
 Yogurt Topping: 

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the liquid from the mushrooms evaporates, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the madeira wine and cook 2 minutes, scraping up any browned bits. Add the broth and thyme; simmer gently, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Discard the thyme sprigs (if using the sage like I did, do not discard). Stir the hummus into the soup. Transfer half of the soup to a blender and puree (remove the filler cap to let steam escape), then return to the saucepan and simmer 15 more minutes. Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper. Mix the lemon zest, parsley, scallions and Greek yogurt in a small bowl. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with the yogurt and lemon-parsley mixture. Serve immediately.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Fennel & Apple Salad with Sugared Walnuts & Dried Cherries


Wonderfully delicious salad I made for dinner tonight! During dinner my husband said, "You're blogging this, right?" So, here it is! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

Mixed salad greens
Fennel bulb, use only the white bulb
Sweet, crisp apple, like a honey crisp or a jazz
Candied pecans or walnuts, or plain nuts if you prefer
Feta cheese
Dried cherries or craisins

Balsamic dressing (I made my own, but you can use a good quality store bought brand like Briannas)
To make a simple balsamic:
3 Tbl olive oil
2 Tbl balsamic vinegar
1 Tbl pure maple syrup or honey
Salt & pepper

Directions:

Cut the fennel first. Cut off the root at the bottom and the green stalks so you are only left with the white bulb. I usually remove the first layer of fennel because it's discolored and looks dirty. Once your bulb has been trimmed, cut it in half so it's easier to work with. Continue cutting into very thin strips. If you need a little help cutting your fennel bulb, click here.

Next cut your apple into thin strips or chop it into little chunks.

Divide salad greens between two large bowls (for two dinner servings) or four salad plates (if serving as a side). Top with sliced fennel, apple slices, candied nuts, feta cheese and dried cherries or craisins. Drizzle with dressing. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Asian Chicken and Coconut Curry Noodle Salad


You all know how much I LOVE the blog Cafe Sucre Farine.....her recipes, her photos, her salad dressings!!! This woman is amazing - everything I have made from her blog, I have LOVED!  This salad is no exception....it was downright delicious! My husband probably said so at least five times while we were eating!  The salad dressing IS TO DIE FOR!!!! Oh mercy me, it is incredible!! I made this salad for just myself and my husband as our main course. There was plenty of dressing to marinate the chicken for my husband, the tofu for myself and then also enough to top a salad for tomorrow night's dinner. Please notice I used dried spices instead of fresh - that was out of pure laziness on my part (sorry guys, it is just a regular Wednesday night after all). Next time I'll grate the ginger and mince the onion and garlic because I know it'll make the dressing even tastier! 

I really really recommend you mosey on over to the Cafe Sucre Farine blog and check out her culinary genius for yourself.

And for now, here is her recipe word for word:

Ingredients:

Ingredients for the coconut curry noodles:
  • ¾ cup light coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon green curry paste
  • 8 ounces angel hair pasta
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt, to taste
Ingredients for the salad:
  • 6 cups Bib or butter lettuce <I used 2 heads of romaine lettuce>
  • diced cooked chicken breast <I used chicken for my husband and roasted marinated tofu for myself>
  • 2 large ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and diced <I only used one>
  • 3 medium nectarines, diced <I only used one>
  • ½ cup salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • Asian Honey-Sesame Salad Dressing (see ingredients and recipe below)
Asian Honey-Sesame Salad Dressing:
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, finely minced <I used 1 tsp garlic powder>
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped or grated fresh ginger <I used 1 tsp dried ginger>
  • 1 tablespoons red onion, finely chopped <I used 1 tsp onion powder>
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha
  • 2 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoons sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
**Combine all ingredients in a glass jar and shake well. That’s it!

Directions for Salad:
  1. Combine coconut milk and curry paste in a medium size pot. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to maintain a steady simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until reduced by one half. Set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt and angel hair pasta. Stirring frequently, cook for 3-4 minutes or until noodles are al dente.
  3. Once noodles are cooked, drain well and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss with 2 forks to coat pasta with oil. Transfer to a medium size bowl and add the coconut milk/curry mixture. Toss again with forks till noodles are coated then cover lightly with plastic wrap and set aside. Allow to sit for 30 minutes before serving for pasta to absorb liquid. Taste and add a pinch of sea salt if needed.
  4. Place lettuce on a large platter or divide between 6 large salad bowls or plates. Arrange nectarines, chicken, avocado and pasta in rows on top of lettuce. Drizzle lightly with the Asian Honey-Sesame Salad Dressing (recipe above) then scatter the chopped peanuts and fresh basil over the top. Pass extra dressing at the table.