Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Very Best Pumpkin Bread Ever


This bread is OUT OF CONTROL AMAZING!!! So so so yummy! Pumpkin, cream cheese, buttermilk and a cinnamon topping?! The answer is YES to all! I have made this bread twice in the past two weeks. Yep, two times! It is so delicious I do not think I will ever make another pumpkin bread....I don't think it can be topped!!

This recipe is from America's Test Kitchen. If you aren't familiar with this blog/cookbook then you should check it out! They try each recipe many many times using different ingredients and cooking methods before they decide on the perfect one - and they always get it right. This one is certainly no different. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Here is the recipe verbatim (and follow all the steps including cooking the pumpkin down on the stove top):

Topping:
5 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt

Bread:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 (15‑ounce) can unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon salt
1.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
1 cup packed (7 ounces) light brown sugar
1/2  cup vegetable oil
4 ounces cream cheese, cut into 12 pieces
4 large eggs
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped fine

1. For the topping: Using fingers, mix all ingredients together in bowl until well combined and mixture resembles wet sand.

2. For the bread: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two
8 1/2 by 4 1/2‑inch loaf pans. Whisk flour, baking powder, and baking soda together in bowl.

3. Cook pumpkin puree, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in large saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, 6 to 8 minutes. Off heat, stir in granulated sugar, brown sugar, oil, and cream cheese until combined. Let mixture stand for 5 minutes. Whisk until no visible pieces of cream cheese remain and mixture is homogeneous.

4. Whisk eggs and buttermilk together in separate bowl, then whisk into pumpkin mixture. Gently fold in flour mixture until combined (some small lumps of flour are OK). Fold in walnuts. Scrape batter into prepared pans, smooth tops, and sprinkle evenly with topping. Bake until skewer inserted in center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking.

5. Let loaves cool in pans for 20 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack and let cool for 1 1/2 hours before serving.

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.



Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Grilled Veggie & Cream Cheese Sandwich To Go


This scrumptious sandwich comes from one of my favorite blogs - The Pioneer Woman. Everything I make from her blog is golden....this sandwich was no different. YUM!!!! This recipe makes four sandwiches. I served them with a large fruit/spinach smoothie and chips. My husband ate two sandwiches for dinner. I ate one sandwich and then had one for lunch the next day (which was a delicious alternative to my usual granola bar). 

Check out her blog for helpful step by step pictures (I love how she does this with each of her recipes).

Here is her recipe word for word:

Ingredients

  • 1 whole Large Zucchini, Cut Lengthwise Into Thin Slices
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Cut Into 1/2-inch Rings
  • 1 whole Red Bell Pepper, Seeded And Cut Into 4 Slabs
  • 1 whole Yellow Bell Pepper, Seeded And Cut Into 4 Slabs
  • Olive Oil For Brushing
  • Kosher Salt And Black Pepper To Taste
  • 3/4 cups Cream Cheese Mixed With Herbs <I used 2 Tbl. fresh parsley, 2 Tbl fresh basil and 1 tsp dried oregano>
  • 8 slices Good Sandwich Bread <I used a fresh, soft, sourdough sandwich loaf from WF bakery that I cut into thick slices- it was amazing - go ahead and splurge on the bread>

Preparation

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat and place the veggies on the surface.

Let the first side cook without oil, so it gets great grill marks on the surface. After that, turn them over And brush them with a little bit of olive oil. Grill until they're soft and have black marks. Remove them from the pan and let them cool.



**<I roasted all of the veggies I used in the oven on 425F. I roasted the zucchini and bell peppers for 8 minutes on each side; the onion for 15 minutes, flipped and then another 8 minutes>

Toast the bread. Spread cream cheese on both slices, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Layer the veggies between two slices.


Wrap in plastic wrap and store in the fridge up to 24 hours! Great for grabbing and going!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Tropical Banana Bread


By now you all know how much I LOVE banana bread (I have posted so many banana bread recipes it's almost embarrassing) - I really do make it about once a week....the kids love it and it makes for an easy, grab and go breakfast in the morning when we are rushed (it's also the perfect after school snack). I had some beautiful, fresh pineapple in my fridge and though, ooh, I should try making a banana bread with pineapple!  And so I did, and it's delicious! I just had to share with you right away! Enjoy!
  • 2 ripe banana, well mashed
  • 1/2 cup fresh pineapple or if using canned, well drained
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut, optional
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F

Mash the bananas and pineapple together using a masher or if you have time, throw them in the blender/food processor and pulse until slightly chunky, but blended (this is what I did).



Cream the butter and the sugar in the bowl; add the mashed bananas and pineapple and stir.  Mix in the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla and poppy seeds.  Stir in the coconut, if using.
 
Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. 

Lightly butter and flour a standard loaf pan.

Spread the batter evenly into the pan and tap it against the counter a couple times to release any air bubbles.

Bake for about 55 minutes or until a wooden pick comes out clean. Let cool for an hour in the pan then slice and enjoy.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Quick & Easy Bean Soup with Quinoa & Hummus


I have been making this bean soup again and again the past couple of weeks.  Every time I add different ingredients (all just depending on what I have on hand) but the main elements are store bought bean soup, quinoa, hummus and avocado. I have made this for a quick lunch and also an easy dinner. In the above picture I had some left over cilantro lime dressing from my Fajita Salad I made a few days before - it was a delicious addition!

This makes enough for two bowls of soup:

16 oz of your favorite bean soup
1 cup cooked quinoa
your favorite hummus
avocado, ripe and sliced

Extras (choose any or all of these to add flavor)
sour cream
shredded cheddar cheese
cilantro, chopped
cherry tomatoes, quartered
tortilla chips or corn chips
sliced jalepenos
chopped red onion
carmelized onions
anything else you think would taste yummy!

Heat the soup on the stove, ladle into bowls and add any of the toppings you wish, including the quinoa, hummus and sliced avocado. Eat immediately! Enjoy!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Pear & Strawberry Sandwich with Brie Cheese


As promised, here is the other delicious recipe that was inspired by a meal we had on our Shore vacation this summer.  This copycat recipe comes from one of our favorite restaurants, Yvette's. They serve the most beautiful artisan sandwiches - and so so so many of their offerings are vegetarian which makes me super happy. 

This sandwich is so pretty! The flavors are bright and sunny - it's especially good on a warm summer day. I served it with a side of kettle chips and a big fruit smoothie.

This makes two sandwiches:

2 soft individual-size baguettes, lightly toasted in the oven just before making
1 crunchy pear, sliced thin
2 - 3 ripe, but firm, strawberries, sliced thin
6 oz of soft brie cheese, rind removed and cubed
mixed salad greens
poppy seed dressing (I like Brianna's)

Slice the baguettes and lightly toast in the oven right before you are ready to assemble the sandwiches.

Divide the brie cheese evenly between the toasted two baguettes.  Add mixed salad greens. Now artfully (try! haha!) add the sliced pears and strawberries, alternating pear then strawberry. Finish the sandwich with a drizzle of the poppy seed dressing. Serve with a little side of dressing so you can dip as you eat (the dressing is really yummy!).  Eat immediately! Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Sweet Green Juice


This juice is sweet, yummy, refreshing, a bit tangy (from the ginger) and definitely green!! Drink your greens! Enjoy!

This makes enough for one serving of fresh fruit and veggie juice:

2 kiwis
1 large pear
3 large kale leaves (juice the center stem too)
1 1" knob of ginger
6 mint leaves
A squeeze of lemon

Wash and slice all the fruit and kale (leave the skin on the pear). Put through a juicer. Discard the pulp and drink immediately! 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

PB & Honey "Sushi" Rolls


These cute PB & Honey "Sushi" Rolls really made all three of my kids laugh (even my middle schoolers!).  They all wanted to help me roll out the bread with a rolling pin and then roll them up. My son started scrambling through our silverware drawer looking for chopsticks - which made them even more fun.  It took hardly any time at all to put them together!  I think these will really put a smile on the kids' faces when they open up their lunchboxes come fall! I had to share this simple snack idea with you all! Have fun!

What you need:

Cutting board
Rolling pin
Butter knife for spreading
Sharp knife for cutting

Ingredients:
Your favorite sandwich bread
Peanut butter, almond butter, sunbutter, etc
Honey or your favorite jam

Cut all the crust of the bread. Using a rolling pin, roll the bread until it is flat (this took about 8 seconds - don't go crazy).

Spread with nut butter and honey or jam.

Roll up from the bottom.
 
Slice into "sushi" pieces.


Arrange on a plate and drizzle with more honey, if you like. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Snickerdoodle Bars


My daughter and I felt like baking this afternoon and after a quick search on Pinterest, we found a recipe for these snickerdoodle bars. They came out quite good - soft and chewy, not too sweet....they really hit the spot!

This yummy, simple recipes comes from the blog Back for Seconds (isn't that the cutest name!?).

Here is her recipe word for word:

Cookie Bars:
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (softened)
  • 2 cups brown sugar (packed)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 2/3 cups all purpose flour

Topping:

  • 1/8 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Directions

Step 1:
Preheat oven to 350
In a mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, vanilla, and salt, and mix well. Add the baking powder and flour, a little at a time, and mix until incorporated. Spread into a greased 9x13" pan.
  
Step 2:
Mix together sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle evenly over cookie dough. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the pan comes out with fudgy crumbs. Do not over bake.
Let cool before cutting. Store tightly covered.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Avocado Toast - Jersey Shore Style

Every summer when we go to the shore, I discover a simple dish I feel like I must recreate at home - we always have good eats down the Shore! One year is was the Acai Bowls (I still make them weekly at home); another time it was the Chilled Oatmeal with Yogurt, Berries & Honecomb - yum! This summer I have two Jersey Shore inspired recipes. I'll blog the second later this week, but today I'm blogging the Avocado Toast we ate on repeat at the Surf Snack Shack. The recipe is so simple, but so extra good!

My family is avocado obsessed, I mean OBSESSED people! We must go through at least one a day and sometimes more. My kids tend to want avocado toast for a quick, healthy and satisfying breakfast or as an afternoon snack.  This toast is kicked up a notch by adding red pepper flakes, a little balsamic and capers. Please try it and let me know if you love it as much as we do! It's wonderful when something so simple tastes so delicious! Enjoy!

2 slices of your favorite bread (sourdough, wheat, rye, etc), toasted
1 perfectly ripe avocado, pitted, halved and smashed
1-2 tsp of capers
pinch of red pepper flakes, as little or as much as you like
light drizzle of balsamic vinegar
salt to taste

To assemble:
Drizzle a tiny bit of balsamic vinegar on the toasted bread (if I had to guess I would say 1/2 tsp). Add the smashed, ripe avocado evenly between the two slices of bread. Give each bread a pinch of red pepper flakes. Top each piece with some capers and a pinch of salt. Eat immediately. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Chocolate Cherry Smoothie


I was REALLY craving a chocolate milk shake this afternoon....but I put the ice cream away and came up with a chocolatey smoothie that incorporated all the fresh in-season cherries I have in my refrigerator right now! Who doesn't love the combo of cherries and chocolate!? This smoothie really hit the spot and satisfied my sweet tooth! Enjoy!

This smoothie makes enough for one large serving.
  • 1 cup fresh (pitted) OR frozen cherries
  • 1 or 2 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 Tbsp hemp seeds (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup milk OR almond milk
  • 1 small banana
  • 2 Tbl plain or vanilla yogurt
  • 1 -2 handfuls of baby spinach
  • 6 ice cubes
  • miniature chocolate chips, for garnish (optional)
If you have the time, put the fruit in the freezer for at least an hour.

Put all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth. Drink immediately. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Greek Tortellini Salad


This quick salad is so yummy! I have made it three times in the last couple of months. Sometimes I put kalamata olives in it, some times I sub them out for capers. The first time I made it I used feta and the last time I used freshly shredded Parmesan. The first time I made it I didn't use red bell peppers, but the last time I made it I did! One time I made it with fresh mint and the last time I made it with mint AND basil. What I'm getting at is this salad is just delicious - you can customize it to suit the likes of your family.....as long as you do not omit the balsamic glaze and dressing, you're guaranteed a tasty meal.

*Please read above before you look at the ingredients - I have made this dish many times and the ingredients are not set in stone.....

*Salad Ingredients:
20 oz package of tortellinis, cooked al dente
12 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 large cucumber, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/3 cup capers OR kalmata olives
1/3 cup pine nuts (toast them lightly for extra yummy-ness)
1/2 cup crumbled feta OR freshly shredded Parmesan
1/2 cup marinated artichokes, chopped
Store bought balsamic glaze

For the Dressing:
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried basil OR 1 Tbl fresh basil (use fresh if you can)
10 fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dijon mustard
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
black pepper, to taste

Cook tortellini according to directions on the package.  Set aside and let cool.

Mix all the dressing ingredients together.

Add all the salad ingredients, including cooked and cooled tortellinis, to a large bowl.  Add the dressing and toss (you may not need to use all the dressing). Chill for an hour or overnight.  Just before serving drizzle with the store bought balsamic glaze (do not forget the glaze- it really sets this dish apart!).  Enjoy!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Oh boy, this chocolate banana bread is amazing!!! We ate it for breakfast and we ate it for dessert - it is just yummy-ness. 

I found this banana bread recipe on the blog Two Peas and Their Pod. Here it is word for word:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 large brown bananas  (1 1/2 cups mashed)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/4 cup canola, vegetable oil, or melted coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature <I used 2 eggs>
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, divided

Directions:

  1. Heat your oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mash the ripe bananas with a fork. Add the melted butter and oil and stir until combined. Stir in the brown sugar, egg, and vanilla extract. Stir until smooth.
  4. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, don’t overmix. Stir in 3/4 cup of the chocolate chips.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of chocolate chips over the top of the bread. Bake for 60-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out mostly clean, you might have some melted chocolate chips on the toothpick and that is fine. You just don’t want a lot of gooey batter.
  6. Remove the pan from the oven and set on a wire cooling rack. Let the bread cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the bread and carefully remove from the pan. Let the bread cool on the wire cooling rack until slightly warm. Cut into slices and serve.
Note-the bread will keep on the counter, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 4 days. This bread also freezes well. To freeze, cool the bread completely and wrap in plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 1 month. Defrost before slicing.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

No Bake Crispy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

 
 
These are yummy, the ingredients are simple, and there is no baking required. Need I say more? Super tasty dessert that we all loved! 
 
Recipe is from the blog The Big Man's World:
Ingredients:
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups crispy rice cereal <I used "One Degree" Brown Rice Crisps>
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips 
  • 1 cup peanut butter can substitute for sunflower seed or soy nut butter <I used 1/2 cup almond butter and 1/2 cup peanut butter>
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil can sub for grass fed butter
Directions:
  1. Line an 8 x 8-inch baking dish or deep baking tray of choice with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Add crispy rice cereal into a large mixing bowl and set aside. In a microwave safe bowl or stovetop, combine all your other ingredients and heat until melted. Remove from microwave/off stove and whisk until completely incorporated.
  3. Pour the chocolate/peanut butter mixture over the crispy rice cereal and mix until combined. Pour into the lined baking dish <I use a piece of parchment paper over the top of the mixture to REALLY push the bars down so they are compact and even> and refrigerate until firm (at least an hour). Remove and cut into bars. 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

GF Peanut Butter Cookies with M&Ms


I really like these GF peanut butter cookies!! They have very simple ingredients, are quick to whip up, and bake in only 7 minutes. My kids especially love the M&Ms! I have made these three times in the last few weeks! YUM!

This recipe makes about 18 cookies. Here is the recipe straight from the blog Love to Be in the Kitchen 

 Ingredients:
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats (or quick oats)
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • ⅓ cup mini chocolate chips
  • ⅓ cup mini M&M's
Instructions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a medium sized bowl <I use my hand mixer> stir together the peanut butter, honey, and brown sugar. Do not warm up the peanut butter or the honey.
  3. Add in the oats, salt, baking soda, and vanilla extract. Stir well.
  4. In a separate bowl lightly beat the egg and then add it to the mixture.
  5. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  6. Use a cookie scoop to scoop out the dough. Press the dough very tightly in the cookie scoop to form the balls if using your hands squeeze the mixture tightly into a ball so it doesn’t crumble.
  7. Form the balls onto a cookie sheet, press down slightly, top with the M&M's and more mini chocolate chips if desired and bake for 7-8 minutes.
  8. Watch the cookies closely and remove when the bottom barely starts to brown even if they don't look completely done (they cook more as they cool).
  9. Remove and allow to cool completely.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Fajita Steak Salad

Oh my goodness, this salad was SO delicious!!!!! I know what some of you are thinking - yes, I am a vegetarian, so no, I did not eat the flank steak. But, my husband and son did and they just loved it - it smelled incredible. I actually marinated tofu for myself in the same steak marinade and baked it in the oven. I loved it!  The cilantro dressing is just flat out yummy. I hope you enjoy this salad as much as we all did!!

I found the recipe on the blog Damn Delicious. You must check this blog out - she has so many yummy recipes posted! 

Here is the recipe word for word from Damn Delicious:

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 8 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and thinly sliced

For the cilantro lime dressing

  • 1 cup loosely packed cilantro, stems removed
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar <I only used 2 tsp>
  • 1 tsp pure maple syrup <my own addition to balance out the tartness of the vinegar>

For the steak

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds flank steak <I also used firm tofu - read the intro above>

Directions:

  1. To make the cilantro lime dressing, combine cilantro, sour cream, mayonnaise, garlic, lime juice, maple syrup (if using), and salt in the bowl of a food processor. With the motor running, add olive oil and vinegar in a slow stream until emulsified; set aside.
  2. To make the steak, whisk together olive oil, garlic, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, oregano and onion powder in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. In a gallon size Ziploc bag or large bowl, combine steak and marinade; marinate for at least 30 minutes, turning the bag occasionally. Drain the steak from the marinade, discarding the marinade.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a grill pan over medium high heat. Working in batches, cook steak, flipping once, to preferred temperature, about 3-4 minutes per side for medium rare. Remove from heat and let rest for 10 minutes before thinly slicing against the grain.
  5. Add onion to the skillet, and cook, stirring often, until onions have become translucent and slightly caramelized, about 7-8 minutes; set aside.
  6. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in the skillet. Add bell peppers, and cook, stirring often, until soft and slightly caramelized, about 8-10 minutes; set aside.
  7. To assemble the salad, place romaine lettuce in a large bowl; top with arranged rows of onion, peppers, steak and avocado.
  8. Serve immediately with cilantro lime dressing.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Stuffed Portobella Mushrooms with Spinach & Artichokes

 

 Ingredients:

  • 4 large portabello mushroom caps
  • 2 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3-ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup grated extra sharp cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 cups firmly packed fresh spinach, finely chopped
  • 6 oz jar of marinated artichokes, drained and chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 Tbl pine nuts, optional

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. Wipe the mushrooms with a damp paper towel to clean off any dirt. Remove the stems. Use a spoon (I like to use a grapefruit spoon) to take out the black gills of the mushroom. Use your hands to rub oil onto the outside of the mushrooms.
  3. Heat 1 tsp olive oil over medium heat in a large pan. Add diced onions and sautee for 5-7 minutes. Add the chopped spinach and sautee for another 3 - 5 minutes, letting the spinach cook down. Stir the onions and spinach together. Remove from heat.
  4. In a mixing bowl, mix together softened cream cheese, sharp cheddar, dried basil, dried oregano, and garlic powder. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. Mix until combined. Add the slightly cooled onions and spinach; mix well. Divide cheese mixture between the prepared mushroom caps. Sprinkle 1 Tbl pine nuts, if using, on top of each mushroom.
  5. Place filled mushrooms in a baking pan. Bake, uncovered, for about 20 minutes. Enjoy with a side salad. 


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

One Pot Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup



I've heard from a few friends recently that the Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Tortellini and Sun-dried Tomatoes I blogged a few weeks ago was a big hit with their families (as it is with mine!). So, I thought I'd look for another soup recipe with tortellini recipe to try.  I was inspired by the soup recipe I found on the blog Gal on a Mission. I added my own flare by putting a pear and some maple syrup.  I also blended mine bc my children like pureed soup opposed to chunky.

Click here for the Gal's original recipe.

And below is her recipe with my additions and slight changes.

This soup nicely serves a family of four. Serve with a crusty bread and a side salad. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
  • 1 medium onion diced or 1 cup
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 spring of fresh rosemary chopped or ½ teaspoon dried
  • 1 pear, chopped with skin, <my addition> 
  • 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tsp pure maple syrup <my addition>
  • 4 large fresh basil leaves or ½ teaspoon dried basil <I used about 10 fresh basil leaves>
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 4 cups chicken stock <I used veggie>
  • ½ cup heavy cream <I used half and half>
  • 20 ounces three-cheese tortellini
  • ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese + extra for garnish
  • salt and pepper, to taste (optional)
  • fresh basil, to garnish
  • shredded parmesan cheese, to garnish
Instructions:
  1. Place the onion, garlic, and olive oil, fresh rosemary, and chopped pear (if using) in a 6-quart soup pot or dutch oven. Sautee over medium heat for 5 - 8 minutes or until the onions are translucent.
  2. Add in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, oregano, pure maple syrup (if using), basil, salt, pepper, chicken stock, and heavy cream - stir to combine. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. This next step is mine because I wanted the soup to be creamy. (If you want your soup chunky, skip this step and go right to step 4). Place the soup mixture in a high speed blender (you may have to do this twice because there is a lot of soup!) with the lid insert removed to let steam escape. Place a clean towel over the lid insert to catch any soup that escapes while blending. Blend until creamy and smooth. Return soup to pot and bring to a simmer.
  4. Place the three-cheese tortellini into the soup and cook for 12-15 minutes or until the tortellini are tender and cooked through.
  5. Stir in the parmesan cheese.
  6. Serve and garnish with fresh basil and shredded parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Polenta Stuffed Pizza Peppers

I'm often shocked when I try a recipe that is so easy to make and with so few ingredients, yet tastes so good!! I have to say, these pizza peppers are one of those recipes.  And if you follow my blog at all, you know I LOVE a stuffed pepper - I couldn't wait to give these a try!!! The amount of time it took to assemble these was ridiculously quick....I used pre-cooked tubed polenta which really helped.  Also, the fresh buffalo mozzerella and fresh Parm were so melt-y and salty and amazing when the peppers came out of the oven - yum!!
This is the perfect meal to make on a weekday night when you have little time to get dinner on the table. **If you want to add protein I think cooked, crumbled Italian chicken sausage would be delicious!

I found this recipe on the blog Vegetarian Ventures (which is AWESOME, btw)....here is her recipe word for word (this recipe makes enough for two adults): 
Ingredients:
  • 3 bell pepper, halved with seeds removed
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil + more for greasing
  • 9 oz pre-cooked polenta (half a normal size tube) or about 1½ cups homemade, cut into 6 even pieces
  • 1½ cups of your favorite tomato sauce <I always use Rao's>
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella, divided into 6 equal chunks
  • Parmesan, for sprinkling
  • Dried oregano, for sprinkling
  • Salt / pepper, to taste
  • Fresh basil, for serving
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a 9x13 inch baking pan. Brush peppers with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool enough to handle.
  • Divide the polenta between the bell pepper halves and use a fork to break the polenta up. Pour ¼ cup tomato sauce into each bell pepper half and top with mozzarella. Sprinkle a healthy helping of Parmesan, oregano, salt, and pepper over the mozzarella.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the cheese on top is browned and bubbling.
  • Remove from heat and sprinkle with fresh basil. Serve right away.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Margherita Pasta



I found this recipe on the blog Carlsbad Cravings. It was super creamy, full of flavor and just like the blog said, it all came together in about 25 minutes. My husband said it was the best new recipe I have tried in months!!! Your family will love this! I think you could add grilled chicken if you wanted some protein. Serve with a simple side salad and some good crusty bread.
 
Here is the recipe word from word from Carlsbad Cravings:
  • 1lb spaghetti or pasta of choice
  • 2tablespoons olive oil
  • 2tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 6 Roma tomatoes, choppeddivided
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2cups low sodium chicken broth <I used veggie broth>
  • 1 1/2cups milk
  • 2teaspoons chicken bouillon <I used veggie>
  • 1teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2tsp EACH dried oregano, dried basil, salt
  • 1/4tsp EACH pepper, red pepper flakes
  • 1/2cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2oz. cream cheese, softetned
  • 1/4cup loosely packed basil, chopped
  • Parmesan & chopped basil, for garnish
Instructions:
Cook pasta al dente according to package directions in generously salted water. Remove 1 cup pasta water before draining.  Set pasta aside.
 
Melt butter and olive oil over medium-low heat in a large skillet. Increase heat to medium and add onions and HALF of the tomatoes and sauté for 5 minutes <I sauteed for more like 8 minutes>. Add garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds. Sprinkle in flour and cook while stirring for 2 minutes (it will be thick).  
 
Turn heat to low then slowly whisk in chicken broth, then milk, stirring constantly until smooth. Turn heat to medium high and bring the sauce to a simmer. Stir in spices and boullion and continue to simmer until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. 
 
Reduce heat to low and stir in Parmesan cheese until melted, followed by mozzarella cheese until melted, followed by cream cheese until melted.  
 
Stir in remaining tomatoes and fresh basil. *Stir in pasta until well coated, adding additional reserved pasta water a little at a time if needed to reach desired consistency. Taste and season with additional salt, pepper and/or red pepper flakes to taste. <*I found it easier to just place the pasta in the dish and then ladle the sauce over the top - even though I was using a giant pan if I had put all the pasta in the pan along with the sauce, it would have overflowed>
 
Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan Cheese and additional basil if desired.