Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Cranberry Bliss Smoothie


I saw these beautiful, fresh cranberries in the grocery store and I knew I had to put them into a smoothie! I was a bit nervous the smoothie would be too tart, but the orange and very ripe banana evened the flavors out and the whole thing was actually quite sweet! Very yummy and a great way to give you body an immunity boost during cold and flu season!

1/3 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1 medium orange, peeled
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1 ripe banana
1 cup of your favorite milk, I used an almond/coconut blend
1 Tbl honey (optional)
1 Tbl hemp seeds (optional)
Ice cubes

Place all ingredients into a high power blender. Blend until smooth. Add a couple of ice cubes if desired. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Peanut Butter Blossoms with Hershey's Kisses


This recipe is definitely an "oldie" but it still reigns as a "goodie, goodie, goodie" in my book.  My boys were asked to bring in cookies for all the middle school teachers this week....I was about to make my go to chocolate chip cookies, but decided to be a little more festive and make these Peanut Butter Blossoms with Hershey's Kisses.  I'm not sure why this cookie is always associated with Christmastime, but it definitely brings up great memories for me as a child during the holidays.

I made the dough a day in advance (I do this often when I have the time and know I will be busy the night before the cookies actually need to be baked). But chilling your cookie dough for at least an hour (and in my case, one whole day) actually gives you a better tasting cookie. The science behind it has to do with the fat in the chilled cookie dough taking longer to melt while it's cooking...this helps the cookies to spread less during baking. Further, the cookies become more golden as they bake and their flavor more pronounced.  Doubts? Google it!

Anyway, I always chill my dough - it really does make the cookies taste better! 

This recipe is old school Betty Crocker- here it is word for word:

Ingredients

1/2  cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 egg 
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Additional granulated sugar
About 36 Hershey's Kisses milk chocolates, unwrapped 
Directions:
Preheat oven to 375F 

In large bowl, beat 1/2 cup granulated sugar, the brown sugar, peanut butter, butter and egg with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon, until well blended. Stir in flour, baking soda and baking powder until dough forms.
 
Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll in additional granulated sugar. On ungreased cookie sheets, place about 2 inches apart. 

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Immediately press 1 milk chocolate candy in center of each cookie. Remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Goat Cheese Polenta with Roasted Veggies


Have you checked out the blog Cookie & Kate yet? It really is an awesome place to find great vegetarian recipes - dinners, desserts, healthy, decadent....she does an awesome job creating a large variety of recipes. I subscribe to her posts and the day I got this one in my inbox I went to the store and made it the next evening. I just knew it would be delicious and it truly was.

I just love polenta so much - and when I saw there was goat cheese IN the polenta, I was sold. The roasted veggies (I used sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts) were amazingly delicious. And I was surprised that I really enjoyed egg as well (I cooked ours "fried over hard"). Two out of three of my kids gave this a big thumbs up (and really, I can't expect more than that since I have one who eats like a typical kid and two that are quite adventurous). This was a scrumptious vegetarian meal that was super filling.

Here is Cookie & Kate's recipe word for word (and make sure to explore her blog when you have a minute):

Ingredients:

Roasted vegetables
  • About 2 pounds mixed vegetables, i.e. small butternut squash, red onion here, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, sweet potato, bell peppers <I used one peeled and cubed sweet potato, and Brussels>
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Goat cheese polenta
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 leek, white parts only, thoroughly cleaned and chopped <this was my addition>
  • ½ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt, to taste
  • 3 to 4 cups water, according to package directions
  • 1 cup corn polenta (also called grits)*
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 to 3 tablespoons mild salsa verde (homemade or store-bought)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (about ½ cup crumbled)
Eggs, etc.
  • 4 eggs, cooked as desired <I cooked mine "fried over hard" bc we don't like runny yolk>
  • Finely sliced green onion, for garnish
  • Additional salsa verde and/or hot sauce (I love Cholula)

Instructions

  1. To roast the vegetables: Preheat the oven to 400°F. On a large, rimmed baking sheet, combine the vegetables with 2 tablespoons olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Toss until they are lightly coated in oil, then arrange the vegetables in a single layer across the pan. Bake for 25 to 40 minutes (timing will depend on your choice of vegetables), tossing halfway, until the vegetables are tender and deeply golden on the edges.
  2. To cook the polenta: In a medium saucepan, warm 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the chopped bell pepper and ½ teaspoon salt <I added the leek with the peppers>. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pepper is tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the amount of water specified on your package of polenta, crank up the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Pour in the polenta, whisk to combine, and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until thickened, which can take as little as 5 minutes depending on your polenta, whisking often to remove any clumps. Remove the pot from the heat, and stir in the butter, salsa verde and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Add additional salt, if necessary. Gently fold in the crumbled goat cheese, just until combined. Cover and set aside.
  4. Cook your eggs as desired. Divide the grits and eggs into 4 bowls. Divide the vegetables into the bowls and finish them with a light sprinkle of green onion. Serve with additional salsa verde and/or hot sauce on the side.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Holiday Spiced Warm Almond Milk


I have never been a coffee drinker and over the years I have dabbled in tea.....I think I WANT to like tea more than I actually do.....and maybe I just want to also be holding a mug of something warm and toasty while everyone else sips their lattes and coffees. I do like warm chai lattes - but the truth is they are so caloric that I just don't drink them very often. Enter this super easy Holiday Spiced Warm Milk. It is inspired by a similar blend I tried this week at one of my favorite neighborhood organic grocers. It is satisfyingly warm on this brisk December morning, has all the flavors of the Christmas season, and has much less calories than a chai latte from Starbucks. My kids just tried it and they were in love. I probably should have doubled the recipe to make them a cup too.....next time, kids....this mug is for moi!

This glass of warm spiced milk is also full of health benefits. Protein and calcium from the almond milk, anti-inflammatory properties from the cinnamon, ginger & turmeric, and cardamom helps with digestion.  A little spice goes a long way....but the health (and flavor) benefits are great!

I drank mine with a Gingerbread Muffin (click for recipe).... a delicious mid-morning breakfast (and I think I might have another mug before bed tonight). Enjoy!

Ingredients:

2.5 cups unsweetened almond milk (or regular milk if you have an allergy)
1 heaping Tbl raw honey or pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ginger
Less than 1/8 tsp cardamon (optional) - just the tiniest pinch, as this has a strong flavor

Place all ingredients into a small saucepan. Warm over low heat until desired temperature.

Alternatively, place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Drink cold or warm in the microwave. 

Enjoy!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Gingerbread Muffins with Chocolate Chips


Hello, December (well, almost!) and Hello, Gingerbread! The two go hand-in-hand in my mind....along with peppermint....they are the flavors of the season. When I saw this recipe on My Whole Food Life blog I knew I had to make them STAT.  They had me at gingerbread (and then the chocolate chips sealed the deal).

These muffins are sweetened with maple syrup (I think you could also use honey), are gluten free and have no butter, just coconut oil. So they are pretty healthy as far as muffins go (but FULL of amazing flavor from all the spices)! The kids LOVED them. They make a super easy, grab-and-go breakfast or snack. 

*I didn't have oat flour so I ground whole oats in the food processor....measure the oat flour AFTER it's been ground down.

Here is the recipe word for word from My Whole  Food Life blog:

Ingredients:
  • 2 1/4 cups gluten free oat flour*
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 flax eggs <I used two regular eggs>
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 - 1 1/2 tsp ginger (depending on how spicy you like it) <I used 3/4 tsp ginger>
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup almond milk <use regular milk if nut allergy>
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips <I used 1/2 cup>
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350.
Mix all dry ingredients in one bowl .
Mix wet ingredients in another.
Add wet to dry and mix until combined.
Spoon batter into lined or greased muffin pans. <I used a 1/4 cup full measuring cup for each muffin>
Bake for 10-12 minutes. <I baked for 12 minutes>
<This made 14 muffins for me>

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Butter Leaf Salad with Dates, Apples & Pomegranate Seeds


I made this salad the other night while my dad was in town visiting and he said it was the tastiest salad he's had in a very long time....He asked me to blog it STAT so that he can make it for Thanksgiving dinner! So, here it is, Dad!

Hope you all enjoy this recipe as much as my family does - it's a super easy salad that I serve as a side all the time. The flavors are very bright (thanks to the pomegranate seeds), sweet (dates and apples), and salty (the blue cheese). I use Brianna's Poppy Seed Dressing because it is just flat out amazing. You can also use a vinaigrette (3 parts oil, 2 parts vinegar, 1 part honey is a quick whip up dressing from scratch). But if you can find the Brianna's, get it!

Salad Ingredients (I don't really have exact measurements - just use as much or as little as you like):

  • 1 or 2 heads of butter leaf lettuce, washed, dried and torn into bite sized pieces (one head will be enough for two people as a side salad, two heads will be right to serve two full sized dinner portions - my husband and I eat a giant salad for dinner at least once a week.....if you want to add protein try chopped chicken or roasted tofu)
  • pomegranate seeds 
  • walnuts, chopped
  • diced crisp sweet apple (like a honeycrisp, jazz or pink lady)
  • dates, pitted and chopped (do not omit the dates, they honestly are the heart of this salad)
  • blue cheese
  • pepper & salt (easy on the salt as the blue cheese is quite salty)
  • Brianna's Poppy Seed Dressing or vinaigrette of your choice (but try to use Brianna's)

Directions:
Place ingredients in separate serving salad bowls (try to arrange them side by side around the bowl, alternating colors - presentation means so much). Top with salad dressing and serve immediately.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Flourless Pumpkin Blender Muffins


So..... I have been totally obsessed with making blender muffins over the past two weeks - they are just so easy and they are incredibly tasty! Plus, when I have muffins made, my kids have a quick-as-they-can-grab them breakfast.....which makes my mornings so much easier than asking them all what they want and getting three different answers.

After a quick Pinterest search for pumpkin blender muffins I found these (they also happen to be gluten free) on the blog Averie Cooks (btw this blog has SO many yummy looking desserts I cannot wait to explore and try more of her recipes!). I knew after a quick scan of the ingredients they would be amazing (I mean, look at all those spices!!).....and they are!

Here is the recipe from Averie Cooks word for word with my changes in italics:

**The recipe says these make mini muffins. I actually doubled the recipe and made 12 regular muffins. I baked them at 350F for 19 minutes**.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup old-fashioned whole-rolled oats (not quick cook or instant; use certified gluten-free if necessary or desired)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream (lite okay)
  • 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil <I used liquid-state coconut oil>
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice <I didn't have this so I used 1/4 tsp ground ginger instead>
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus more for sprinkling <I used regular sized>

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Prepare mini muffin pans**<see my note above or below about making regular size muffins> by spraying very well with floured cooking spray, or grease and flour the pans; set aside. If keeping gluten-free for health reasons, simply use cooking spray or grease the pan.
  2. To the canister of a high-speed blender, add the oats, and blend on high speed until fine and powdery, about 15 seconds.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients except the chocolate chips and blend on high speed until smooth and incorporated, about 1 minute.
  4. Add chocolate chips and stir in by hand; don’t use the blender because it will pulverize them.
  5. Using a tablespoon or small cookie scoop, turn batter out into the muffin cavities, filling each to a solid 3/4 full.
  6. Evenly sprinkle the top of each with a generous pinch of chocolate chips (about 8 to 10 chips each).
  7. Bake for 8 to 11 minutes, or until the tops are set, domed, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter.  Due to their small size and oven variance, make sure to watch your muffins closely, and bake until done. Allow muffins to cool in pans for about 10 minutes, or until they’ve firmed up and are cool enough to handle. Muffins are best fresh, but will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 4 months. 
**The recipe says these make mini muffins. I actually doubled the recipe and made 12 regular muffins. I baked them at 350F for 19 minutes**.