Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Faves, Part 2

So, on to more favorites from this year.

Chocolate Rootbeer Bundt Cake-This is seriously one of the best chocolate cakes I have ever had, root beer and all! And the frosting is pretty finger-licking too.

Pizza Rolls-If you have kids, these are absolute genius. Even if you don't, they're still genius. Whenever I make these I just can't stop eating them.

Mango Chicken Salad-I started making a lot of salads this year and this was one of my first favorites. The dressing is especially wonderful.

Asian Slaw-I think I made this salad more than anything else this whole year. Period. I could still eat it for days. After I discovered this Ginger Lime dressing, I've paired the two and have eaten it that way ever since. I've also used the dressing on fish and it was great too.

Brown Sugar Bourbon Pork Tenderloin-I love how easy this is to prepare, it practically makes itself. It has incredible flavor and is right up there with my absolute favorite Sweet and Spicy Shredded Pork.

Chocolate Coconut Ice Cream-I discovered the fun of homemade ice cream this summer and found this gem from my friend Carolyn. This was, by far, my most favorite ice cream and even most favorite dessert of the year. Yes, it's that good.

Greek Panzanella-Like I said, we ate a lot of salads this year and this is another winner. Give me Greek any day and I'll eat it, especially if there's feta involved.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread-This is super easy and super yummy and a great way we used up some excess zucchini over the summer.

Ok, so I've decided to add a few more. Catch the last installment of my favorites from this year tomorrow. Have a happy new year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 Faves, Part 1

Wow, I can't believe how much my little blog has come along in just one short year. This has been so fun for me. The time surely has flown by. I've cooked, baked, and photographed a lot, I've even had my fair share of failures in the kitchen as well. Nonetheless, I'm sure I have a long way to go in terms of my learning but I know I'll have fun doing it.

I've gone through all the posts from the past year and have picked the ones that are my favorites, ones I'd like to highlight again so I can share them with you all. I hope you enjoy them as much as we have.

White Chicken Chili-This is still one of my favorite soups, I love the flavor combinations going on here. It is so tasty and very hearty.

Feta and Sun-Dried Turkey Sliders-I love Greek inspired food, especially when there's feta cheese involved. The moment I saw these, I knew I would love them and I absolutely did, they were wonderful.

Four Cheese Ravioli- I was absolutely in heaven when I first made these. They are simple and easy to make and they practically melt in your mouth.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast-If you've been following my blog for any length of time, you'll know I'm a die-hard breakfast fan. I absolutely love this french toast. It certainly does not disappoint.

Lemon Poppy seed Pancakes-Just about anything lemon strikes my fancy, but when it comes in pancake form, even better. These pancakes are light and fluffy and have just a little more than a subtle taste of lemon.

Honey Curry Chicken with Thai Coconut Rice-This is one of the simplest and quickest meals to throw together. After I made it the first time, I couldn't get enough of it, especially the rice. This is a hands down favorite at our house.

Perfect Pizza Crust-Pizza is much loved in our house and I always have the ingredients on hand to make it. This dough is perfect for any topping you might like.

Peanut Butter Cup Trifle-If you've made this stuff, you know it goes quick! I have to say that this is one of my all-time favorite desserts, it's also one of the most indulgent desserts I've made too; very rich but oh so delicious. Peanut butter and chocolate, what can get better than that?

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes-Another favorite pancake recipe. We ate these a lot this year, especially in the fall after we went apple picking. I just love the combination of apples and cinnamon. For a special treat, we served them with some apple cider syrup-wow!

Pecan-Crusted Chicken Tenders with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce-I couldn't believe when I first made these how my family gobbled them up! I have never been one to buy pre-packaged chicken nuggets, I much prefer to make my own. These chicken tenders take very little effort and only have a few simple ingredients.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the rest of the list.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Veggie Fajitas

I don't know about you, but I am definitely ready for all the gluttony of the holidays to end. It seems like there's been a constant stream of goodies and sweets around here for weeks and my taste buds (and hips) are ready for some lighter fare.

Fajitas are such a quick and easy meal to throw together and I don't make them nearly enough. Most fajitas are made with chicken or beef strips but since we've been eating a lot more meatless meals lately, I thought these veggie fajitas would be a great alternative. I love the combination of peppers and onions and with the addition of mushrooms, you won't even miss the meat! To wrap the fajitas I used some Indian Naan bread that I happened to find in the discounted bakery rack at my grocery store and it was delicious. However, if you can't find Naan, you could use fresh flour tortillas or even pita bread.

Veggie Fajitas
1 onion, sliced
3 bell peppers, seeded and cut into strips
1 garlic clove, crushed
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 dried chipotle pepper, crushed to a powder (use less for less heat)
Salt & pepper to taste
4-6 flour tortillas (pitas or naan), warmed

Garnish: cilantro, lime, guacamole

Mix the oil and chipotle powder together then pour over the vegetable mixture, and toss to coat.

Heat a frying pan or wok until very hot. Add the marinated vegetables, and stir-fry over high heat for 5-6 minutes, until the peppers and mushrooms are just tender. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon a little of the filling onto each tortilla and roll up. Garnish with fresh cilantro, lime wedges and guacamole.

SOURCE:Adapted from Ezra Pound Cake

Linked to...
Recipe Swap Thursday @ Prairie Story
Potluck Sunday @ Mommy's Kitchen

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Mini Egg Nog Cheesecakes with Dulce de Leche

Like I said, we can't get away from egg nog when the this time of year comes around. These are the perfect holiday treat and just the right size. I took these to a Christmas party last week and it's a good thing I ate one before I took them because there were none left!

You can make this cheesecake in a regular springform pan if you'd like, but you'll want to increase the temperature to about an hour. If you don't have any dulce de leche laying around or can't find it in the store, regular caramel sauce works well too.

Mini Egg Nog Cheesecakes with Dulce de Leche
For the crust:
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons butter, melted
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of cinnamon
24 cupcake liners

For the cheesecake:
12 oz.  cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 cup eggnog, room temperature
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. rum extract

1 cup dulce de leche or caramel sauce

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place liners in muffin tins.

In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, melted butter and cinnamon and nutmeg. Press about one tablespoon of mixture into the bottom of each muffin cup.

With an electric, or stand mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. Stir in sugar, flour, eggnog, nutmeg and cinnamon; mix well. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and vanilla and rum extracts. With a wooden spoon, stir by hand into the cream cheese mixture. Fill muffin cups almost to the top with cheesecake batter.

Bake in preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or until centers are firm but still slightly wobbly. Turn the oven off and crack the door. Leave the cheesecakes in the oven for another 30-60 minutes. Cool completely before refrigerating. Serve topped with dulce de leche or your favorite caramel sauce.

SOURCE: Adapted from Let's Dish

Linked to...
Recipe Swap Thursday @ Prairie Story
Potluck Sunday @ Mommy's Kitchen

Monday, December 20, 2010

Ham and Swiss Sliders

This whole winter thing is kind of stinking it up right now. First of all, I haven't exercised in about 2 months and it's starting to show. Secondly, there's not enough sunlight! On a good day, the sun goes down right after 5pm and the other days it's either cloudy or snowy. I like to take my photos with natural light and it's been real tricky lately. I mean I could have dinner ready at 4pm just so I could maybe have some light to take a decent picture. I guess I could use my flash, but it never looks right, and it's busted anyway. I really need a new camera.

I've been waiting to post these sliders so I could get a better picture of them but it just wasn't working out for me and I couldn't hold back any longer. We had these for my daughter's 2nd birthday and they were a big hit. Not a single one was leftover. I made them the other night again for dinner; same story.

I know ham and cheese is pretty darn simple and not rocket science but the sauce on these keeps you going back for more. Typically, I would make my own whole wheat rolls, but I had some frozen dough balls in the freezer that needed using up. This is great party food or a fast and delicious weeknight dinner.

Ham and Swiss Sliders
For the sandwiches:
24 slider rolls (dinner size rolls)
24 slices honey ham
24 small slices Swiss cheese

For the sauce:
1 1/2 Tbsp. mustard
1 stick butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 Tbsp. finely minced onion (or 2 tsp. dried minced onion)
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Poppy seeds, for sprinkling

Split the slider rolls and spread the insides lightly with mayonnaise. Fold a slice of ham to fit on each slider bun, and top with a slice of Swiss cheese. Replace the top bun to assemble the sandwiches. Place the sandwiches on a baking sheet, fitting closely together.

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. To make the sauce, combine all ingredients except the poppy seeds in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Drizzle the sauce over the tops of the slider buns. Sprinkle with poppy seeds. Let sit 10 minutes or until butter sets slightly. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Uncover and cook for 2 additional minutes. Serve warm.

SOURCE:Annie's Eats and The Girl Who Ate Everything

Linked too...
This Week's Cravings @ Mom's Crazy Cooking
Recipe Swap Thursday @ Prairie Story

Friday, December 17, 2010

Pesto Panini

Last month I went to this woman's conference down town and we had to eat lunch "on campus." There wasn't a whole lot to choose from and everything was way over-priced. One of the lines was a vendor that was making paninis and since that was the only thing that sounded remotely appetizing I stood in it, even though it was the longest.

Time passed and as the other lines were getting smaller, the line I was in didn't seem to be moving AT ALL! However, I was bound and determined to get my panini so I stayed. Finally, I think I was about the last person in line, everyone was clearing out of the eating area and the conference was about to start back up again, but, hey, I got my panini. It was small for the price I paid for it but at least it came with a bag of chips.

So, long story, well, long, I got to eat my panini and loved every bite of it. I have been dreaming of it ever since. I finally got to make my own version of it it the other day, using the leftover pesto I made for this pizza. I don't have a panini press but I do have a grill pan. I just set a frying pan on top, with two cans in it to weigh it down and it worked like a charm. If you need a break from all the sugar and holiday sweets, give this fresh and herby sandwich a bite.

Pesto Panini
1 loaf country-style bread, sliced about 1-inch thick (or ciabatta sliced lengthwise)
olive oil for brushing
2-3 vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced
8 slices mozzarella cheese
balsamic vinegar
Basil Pesto (about 1/2-1/3 cup)
salt and pepper

Preheat electric panini maker, grill pan or non-stick skillet. Brush one side of each slice of bread with olive oil. Lay slices, oiled side down on a clean work surface. Spread about 1 tablespoon of the pesto on every other slice of bread, followed by the tomato slices, a splash of balsamic and mozzarella. Place the remaining slices of bread on top of the sandwiches, oiled side up.

Depending on the size of your pan, place one sandwich at a time in the pan and cook until the bread is golden. If you're not using a panini pan, flip the sandwich and cook on the other side until bread is golden and cheese is melted. Remove to a cutting board and cut in half. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Egg Nog Quick Bread

There is absolutely no way you can get around egg nog in our house when it comes to the holidays. My in-laws drink it diluted with soda but on my side of the family, we drink it straight up. My brother even has this theory about it. He uses the smallest cup he can find to drink it so that the least amount is left on the surface of the cup and the most is drank up.

Until last year, I just enjoyed drinking the stuff every year, but now I'm finding all new ways to bake with it. Last year I made some really delicious egg nog cupcakes for a couple of family parties. This year I'm planning on adding egg nog fudge to that list as well as this yummy quick bread. This recipe comes from Tina at Mommy's Kitchen. She knows how to make you feel right at home with her down home country cooking.

Egg Nog Quick Bread
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup eggnog
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp rum extract, optional

For the icing:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Dash freshly grated nutmeg
2 to 3 tsp eggnog

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, eggnog, melted butter, sour cream, vanilla, and rum extract. Add egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir just until moistened (batter will be lumpy).

Spoon batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 45 to 50 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the loaf — it should come out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on a rack.

For the icing, combine sugar, vanilla, and nutmeg. Stir in enough eggnog to reach drizzling consistency. Drizzle cooled loaf with icing. Grate a little bit of fresh nutmeg over the icing, then let icing set completely before wrapping loaf.

SOURCE:Adapted from Mommy's Kitchen and Recipe Girl

Linked to...
Recipe Swap Thursday @ Prairie Story

Monday, December 13, 2010

Gingerbread Pancakes

I'll have to admit, I was a little nervous serving these pancakes to my girls because ginger can be kind of a strong flavor sometimes. However, my fears were set aside when my girls gobbled them up. My 4-year-old kept telling me how good they were too. Now that might have been because I threw in some mini chocolate chips and used Christmas pancake molds to make theirs, but hey, nonetheless, they liked them. They even liked them so much, they had them cold for lunch. I threw some raspberries (thawed, frozen) on top of mine and I liked it that way too.

If you're planning on having overnight guests during the holiday season, serve up these festive pancakes. You can even make them more special by adding a dollop of whipped cream on top.

Gingerbread Pancakes
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. Cloves
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 1/4 cup milk (I use almond milk)
1 Tbsp. Molasses
3 Tbsp. canola oil
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)
whipped cream (optional)
raspberries (fresh or thawed frozen)

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the milk and molasses until combined well; add the egg and oil and whisk. Mix in the dry ingredients and stir until flour is just moistened. Fold in chocolate chips, if desired. Let batter sit for 10 minutes while griddle or skillet heats up.

Pour batter by scant 1/4 cups onto pre-heated griddle. Cook until tops get bubbly and edges start to look dry. Flip and cook the other side until golden. Repeat until all the batter is used.

Serve pancakes with maple syrup and optionally top with raspberries, whipped cream and additional chocolate chips.

SOURCE:Adapted from Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice

Linked to...
This Week's Cravings @ Mom's Crazy Cooking

Friday, December 10, 2010

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I grew up on the east coast. Now I live close to the west coast. Growing up I made a pretty mean chocolate chip cookie. I kind of got famous for them around my group of friends. When I came out west I tried making chocolate chip cookies for years and could never get them just right like I used too. I kind of gave up for a while. Then I had kids, got back into the cookie baking business and BINGO! Found a keeper.

Every time my daughter asks me if we can make cookies I search through my piles of recipes to try, then I look through my trusty old Toll House cookie book and it practically turns itself to the page with these cookies on it. I take one look and know immediately that these are the ones we'll make....again...and again. They are so good! When I make them they do not last long in our house. I love that they are perfectly chewy and not flat and crispy (not my kind of cookie), and I love the little hint of cinnamon you can taste too. These little cookies completely satisfy my every craving. Maybe they will yours too, so give them a try.

Chunky Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softenend
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups (12-oz pkg.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup coarsely chopped peanuts (or use chunky peanut butter)

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and peanut butter in large mixer bowl until creamy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips and peanuts.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheets. Press down slightly to flatten into 2-inch circles.

Bake for 7 to 10 minutes or until edges are set but centers are still soft. Cool on baking sheets for 4 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

SOURCE:Toll House Best-Loved Cookies

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pesto Pizza with Butternut Squash

I think it would be good if time just stood still for a little while. There's always too much to do and not enough time to do it in. After throwing my daughter's 2nd birthday party last weekend, it took my house days to recover from all the mess I made in the kitchen. I'm not even fully recovered yet. I came down with a nasty cough because I was doing too much and not sleeping enough and my body is just worn out. So, time can just stand still while I crawl into bed and recover.

Needless to say, meals have been pretty simple around here for the past few days; leftovers, soup, peanut butter sandwiches....

However, I did buy some fresh basil last week in anticipation of making this pizza and it was calling my name last night. This pizza totally hit the spot. I love basil to begin with but anything with pesto, sign me up! The combination of flavors here is perfect. Who would have thought butternut squash would work well on pizza but it really does. This recipe calls for Gouda cheese, which I happened to have some leftover from a previous meal, but you could substitute another soft mild cheese such as mozzarella or provolone. If you can't find fresh basil to make a pesto, you can use store bought.

Pesto Pizza with Butternut Squash
1 recipe Perfect Pizza Crust
6 (1/4-inch-thick) slices peeled butternut squash or pumpkin (about 1/2 pound)
2 tsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. olive oil
Cooking spray
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Fontina or Gouda cheese
1 (14.5-ounce) can finely chopped tomatoes, drained (or 2 medium fresh tomatoes)
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 cup basil pesto (recipe to follow)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan or Romano cheese

Make the pizza dough and set it aside to let it rise. While it is rising, place the squash on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sugar and toss to coat. Cook on 400 degrees F for about 15-20 minutes or until tender.

Roll out pizza dough on pizza pan or stone and sprinkle cheese over it, leaving a 1/2-inch border; top with squash mixture, tomatoes, and oregano. Drop pesto by level teaspoons onto mixture; sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake at 425° for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Basil Pesto (Joy of Cooking)
2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup pine nuts (walnuts work too)
2 medium cloves garlic,
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup olive oil

Process first 4 ingredients in a blender to a rough paste. With the machine running, slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube. Add a little more oil if sauce seems too dry (it should be a thick paste). Add salt and pepper to taste.

Refrigerate up to a week or store in the freezer.

SOURCE:Adapted from Cooking Light on

Linked to...
Recipe Swap Thursday @ Prairie Story
This Week's Cravings @ Mom's Crazy Cooking
Seasonal Sundays @ Real Sustenance

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Very Hungry Birthday Party

My baby turns 2 tomorrow and we celebrated her birthday on Saturday with our family.

We did The Very Hungry Caterpillar theme and this is what I came up with for a cake.

For the rest of the food we had most of the fruit the caterpillar ate as well as a couple of salads to represent the nice green leaf the caterpillar ate after all the candy.

I also served grilled cheese sandwiches and ham and cheese sliders (which I will be posting soon becuase they were amazing!).


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Banana Pancakes with Peanut Butter and Maple Syrup

This could very well be the next favorite pancake around here, and we go through a lot so that's saying something. Of course, what doesn't taste delicious with a little extra peanut butter on top? We all gobbled up these pancakes and are looking forward to eating them again.

This is a pretty basic pancake recipe, with a little banana puree added. I was really tempted to add some peanut butter IN the batter because there's no such thing as too much peanut butter, but then I thought better of it and just made it with the banana this time. We may have to eat these again before I try something new!

Banana Pancakes with Peanut Butter and Maple Syrup
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 small ripe banana, mashed
1 cup milk (milk, buttermilk, almond milk, they all work)
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt; whisk together to combine. In a another bowl, combine the mashed banana, milk, eggs and vanilla and whisk to blend. Add the melted butter and the banana mixture to the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix gently with a rubber spatula until just blended (the batter will be slightly lumpy).

Heat a non-stick skillet or griddle over medium heat. Drop the batter in 1/4 cup portions onto the heated cooking surface. Cook until a few bubbles form in the top surface and the bottom is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Carefully flip the pancake over and cook on the remaining side until golden brown, 1-2 minutes more. Serve pancakes topped with peanut butter, sliced bananas and maple syrup, as desired.

SOURCE:Adapted from Annie's Eats

Friday, December 3, 2010

December Menu

Oh, where has the time gone? First it was oh, it's the end of the summer, now it's oh, it's the end of the year. End of the year! Holy cow, how did that happen? This month is a little crazy for me because not only am I trying to get ready for Christmas and actually enjoy the holiday season with my family but I'm also trying to get 2 birthday parties ready for my girls. My baby is turning 2 next week and my oldest is turning 4 the beginning of January.

I'm not really going to worry too much about a menu this month because I know I have stuff in my freezer and pantry that I can use and it's about time to clean those out anyway. Other things that I've thought about making will be easy meals (lots of beans) so I don't stress out too much and make myself more crazy than I already am!

I'm a freak about pancakes and still have a few more up my sleeve for this month. I also love holiday treats so I'm sure I'll be making plenty of those (as husband sighs and rolls his eyes) as well. I'm sure I'll need a work out plan after this month is over, so it's a good thing I have a half marathon looming over my head for June to get ready for.

If you have any must-have holiday food/treats, feel free to share the link in the comments. Happy holidays and good eats!

Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes
Banana Pancakes
Gingerbread Pancakes
Egg Nog Cranberry Muffins
Egg Nog Pancakes
Cranberry Spice Granola
Peanut Butter Granola

Cannellini Beans with Kale
Cauliflower Soup
Veggie Fajitas
Pesto Pizza w/ butternut squash
Chipotle Bean Tostadas
Grandma's Chili
Chicken Parm Meatball Subs
White Chicken Chili
Penne Pasta w/ Smoked Ham and Pepper Cream Sauce
Beans & Cornbread
Creamless Tomato Soup
Lentil and Mushroom Pot Pies
Butternut Squash Gnocchi w/ Sage Butter
Chickpea Chicken Soup
Butternut Squash Soup

Birthday Menu
Ham and Cheese Sliders
Mini Grilled Apple and Cheddar Sammies
Asian Slaw
Spinach Salad
Fruit & Veggie Plate

Holiday Treats
Gingerbread Trifle
Peppermint Bark Magic Brownies
Christmas Crunch
White Chocolate Egg Nog Fudge
Egg Nog Mini Bundt Cakes
Orange Cranberry Biscotti with White Chocolate Chips and Orange Glaze

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Orange Julius-My new favorite green drink

I have been off and on with my daily green smoothies for the past couple of months! I'm a little lacking in the motivation department but am starting to get it back because my body has felt a little more sluggish than usual and I know I need to start feeding it better.

In the past when I've made my smoothies, I haven't really gone by any recipe, just what fruit was in my freezer, and sometimes it didn't make for a great green drink. I've decided to go by recipes for a while for 2 reasons. 1-to make sure I get my daily dose of green and 2-to make sure it tastes good going down.

I can't remember where I came across this green drink but I've been drinking it about every other day for the past 2 weeks and I love it! When I make it to share with my kids, I usually juice the oranges, but if I'm making it just for myself, I just throw the orange in whole (peel and seeds removed). Since oranges are in season right now, I have a feeling that I'll be drinking this one for a while.

Do you drink green smoothies? If so what are you favorite combinations?

Orange Julius Green Smoothie
1 cup almond milk
1-2 oranges, peeled
1 banana
2 large handfuls of spinach
1 tsp. vanilla
1-2 cups ice

Blend everything in a high power blender until smooth (about 60-90 seconds).

For MY method of blending smoothies, here's a step-by-step post.

Linked to...
Seasonal Sunday @ Real Sustenance

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Caramel Corn

Wow, I feel like I haven't made anything in forever! Come to think of it, other than that lucious sour lemon pie I made for Thanksgiving, I really haven't. I hope everyone had a good holiday. We spent a wonderful couple of days at my parent's house and had a great time with family.

Sometimes I forget to post the simple recipes I make now and again that are as old as the hills. Enter caramel corn. We grew up eating this stuff, my mom has been making it forever and I've continued making it for my family. I believe the recipe came from tiny little Newdale, Idaho, where my mom grew up. It was from a church cookbook, if you could even call it that. The recipes were printed on colored index cards and held together with big metal rings. I believe the caramel corn was in the pink section!

This yummy treat is very quick to throw together and fun to eat. It's more of a gooey caramel corn, as opposed to the harder kind you bake in the oven. Most of the time I make it as the recipe says, but we also like to throw in vanilla and cinnamon once in a while.

Caramel Corn
1 stick butter (add a pinch of salt if using unsalted butter)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water

1 large bowl of popped popcorn, old maids removed (about 3/4 cup total popcorn kernels if air popping)

Put everything except the popcorn in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Boil for 4-5 minutes. If you like it more gooey, stop closer to 4 minutes, more hard, stop closer to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir down the bubbles (now would be the time to add vanilla and cinnamon if you want). Pour over popcorn and stir, in a folding motion, until popcorn is totally coated. Let cool before eating.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sour Lemon Pie

I know this picture is not much to look at but if you're in to lemon, keep reading because this pie is lemony-licious. I'm not really a pie person usually unless it's lemon something or other. I've been making this pie for a few years now and my family all loves it. I got this recipe from a friend who invited us for Thanksgiving dinner one year where this pie was served. We make it every year now.

Sour Lemon Pie
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (1-2 lemons)
3 egg yolks
1/4 butter
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups cool whip

1 baked and cooled pie crust

Warm milk and sugar in a saucepan. In a small mixing bowl, combine cornstarch, lemon juice, lemon zest and egg yolks and set aside. When milk mixture is almost to a boil, add lemon mixture, whisking constantly. Bring to a rolling boil, continuing to stir constantly. Take off heat and add butter. Let cool slightly then add the sour cream and cool whip. Whip until fluffy then Pour into baked pie crust and chill. Top with additional cool whip, if desired.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Chicken Sausage

So, I was having a debate as to which picture to post for this recipe. Do I post the raw chicken with the spices mixed in, the cooked chicken or just the spices? I couldn't see posting a picture of raw chicken, and the cooked didn't do much for me, so the spice blend it is. It's a little more eye appealing than the others.

I got this recipe from my beloved Joy of Cooking book, it's kind of like the white bible of cooking, for me anyway. I don't know what caused me to search for a homemade sausage blend but I'm so glad I did. This is so much better than store bought and much better for you. Sausage can be like the mystery meat that you don't know exactly what's in it; that kind of grosses me out. This way you know exactly what goes into it so you can feel good about eating it.

You can buy already ground chicken but I like to grind, and when I say grind I mean put it in the food processor to chop up into tiny pieces, the chicken myself so I can trim the meat how I want. You can also use pork.

Make a bunch at a time and freeze some as patties for breakfast or portion out bits to brown up and throw into your favorite pasta dish. Either way, you'll find this sausage is very versatile.

Chicken Sausage
2 lbs. ground chicken
1 1/2 ounces dried apples (about 1/2 cup chopped up)
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

Put all ingredients into a mixing bowl and squeeze the mixture with your hands until well blended. Mixture is very sticky.

There are several options for cooking and storing.  For cooking, you could crumble and brown it all up for immediate use.  You could cook it all up then divide it and freeze it.  You could make patties for cooking and/or freezing as well.  For freezing, you can divide uncooked meat mixture into half-pound or 1-pound portions and place each in a zip-loc freezer bag; then just thaw before use.
Freeze for up to 2 months!

SOURCE:The Joy of Cooking

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Split Pea Soup w/ Smoked Ham and Kale

Sunday Soup

This soup is simple, savory and very satisfying, not to mention, healthy as well. I grew up eating my mom's split pea soup boiled in water with carrots and onions and a little bit of ham. While this soup is not much different, I used chicken stock instead of water to cook the peas and smoked some ham before I tossed it in. I threw in some greens at the end and it was absolutely amazing. I couldn't believe how such a few ingredients could make something so simple taste so delicious.

Feel free to make this soup your own. Change up the meat and add smoked sausage or make it vegetarian by using vegetable broth and omitting the ham. I liked using kale as my greens because it's very hearty and will stand up to the soup, but feel free to use other greens such as spinach, collard greens or Swiss chard. I also blended about half of the kale into the soup and then took out a portion of the soup for my girls, then added the rest of the chopped kale for my husband and I.

Split Pea Soup w/ Smoked Ham and Kale
1 16-oz bag dried green split peas (about 2 1/3 cups)
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
5 bay leaves
1 - 1 1/2 cups full cooked ham, chopped
4 cups chopped kale

Combine split peas, stock, and bay leaves in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until peas are tender, stirring occasionally; about 30 minutes. Puree soup either with an immersion blender or a regular blender (1 cup at a time).

Saute ham in a little bit of olive oil until slightly browned. Add ham and chopped kale to the soup and cook 3-4 minutes longer, or until kale is tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

SOURCE:Adapted from Bon Appetit magazine.

Linked to...
Seasonal Sunday @ Real Sustenance

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Roasted Cauliflower

If you still haven't finalized your Thanksgiving menu and need some more ideas, let me give you one. Cauliflower is in season right now, it's pretty inexpensive, easy to prepare and very nutritious. I got this recipe from my sister a while ago and made it to go with some curry, although I think this would be great along side just about any dish. My husband loves cauliflower and we both really enjoyed this dish.

Roasted Cauliflower
2 T minced garlic
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or spray with cooking spray. Spread cauliflower out on the tray and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle minced garlic, salt and pepper, and toss with fingers, making sure cauliflower is evenly coated. Bake for 25 minutes, stirring halfway. Top with cheese and parsley and return to the oven for a few more minutes.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sweet Potato Pancakes w/ Pecan Butter

Ok, so I'm a little obsessed with pancakes. Because my daughter recently kept asking for pancakes all the time, I can't get them off my mind and I'm still collecting new recipes to try and thinking up others to create. How does orange buckwheat pancakes sound or strawberry sunrise pancakes? Or even peanut butter or egg nog pancakes. Seriously, the possibilities with pancakes is endless.

I usually try to make pancakes as healthy as I can by using all whole wheat flour, only adding a little bit of oil and sugar and making my own syrups or jams or using fresh fruit. I've been pretty lucky in that my girls have eaten every kind of pancake that I've thrown at them. Now, if I could only be so lucky at dinner time.

Well, on to these sweet potato pancakes. They are perfect for this time of year and highlight some of the wonderful flavors of fall. If you have any leftover sweet potatoes from your Thanksgiving feast, these would be a great way to use them up. The pecan butter really adds to the depth of flavor and takes them up a notch. If you're into fall fare, you've gotta try these!

Sweet Potato Pancakes w/ Pecan Butter
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 cup plain yogurt (or sour cream)
1 1/4 cup mashed sweet potatoes
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp. butter, melted

Pecan Butter (recipe below)
Maple Syrup

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix together and whisk until smooth. Cook in batches on an electric griddle or in a buttered skillet on medium high temperature until bubbles form on the surface; then turn over and cook until golden brown. Serve with pecan butter and maple syrup.

Pecan Butter
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans toasted and cooled
1/2 pound butter (8 Tbsp.), softened
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey

Mix all ingredients together. Roll in parchment paper and freeze. Cut into slices and top sweet potato pancakes.

SOURCE:Pecan Butter from Food Network

Linked to...
Recipe Swap Thursday @ Prairie Story
Mom's Crazy Cooking

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Apple Cranberry Salad with Walnuts

I go through a lot of salad around here, trying to get my greens in, and I've realized if I don't mix it up once in a while, it gets old pretty quick. Over the past several months I have found some killer salads that I just love and have eaten a ton of, like this Asian slaw and this Greek Panzanella and this Mango Chicken Salad. This salad was a find last week or so and I've already made it twice. It's another keeper, I'll definitely be putting in my salad rotation. It was originally made with spinach, but I didn't have any on hand when I made the salad, but almost any leafy green would do.

Apple Cranberry Salad w/ Walnuts
3/4 cups craisins
1 cucumber, sliced
1 apple, sliced and diced
1 cup of walnuts, roughly chopped
1 head romaine or green leaf lettuce, or 1 bag baby spinach

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire
1 Tbsp. poppy seeds
1/2 cup light flavored olive oil

Put all salad ingredients, except the walnuts, into a large serving bowl.

Combine all dressing ingredients BUT poppy seeds and olive oil. Blend ingredients in blender or food processor. Slowly add in the oil. Add poppy seeds last.

Top with walnuts just before serving. You can pour the dressing over the salad just before serving if you plan on eating the whole salad, or add dressing to individual plates.

SOURCE:Adapted from Just Another Day In Paradise

Linked to...
Potluck Sunday @ Mommy's Kitchen
Recipe Swap Thursday @ Prairie Story
Let's Do Lunch @ My Sweet and Savory

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Orange Essence and Walnuts

Sweet potatoes, in some form or another, make it on to just about any Thanksgiving menu. Growing up we always had the Betty Crocker candied "yams" with marshmallows and brown sugar and they were, and still are, so good! That used to be the only time of year or pretty much the only meal that we would eat sweet potatoes at our house. Now, I use them a lot through the fall and winter months. They are delicious and wonderful and very versatile.

If you're looking for a great sweet potato side dish for your Thanksgiving dinner, then look no further. These sweet potatoes are packed with healthy goodness and bursting with flavor. They are not too sweet and the orange is just subtle enough to not be over powering.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Orange Essence
4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into a large dice
1/4 cup buttermilk (I used almond milk to make it dairy-free)
zest and juice of 1 orange
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 tsp nutmeg
1 TBS butter

chopped walnuts
brown sugar

Boil or steam potatoes in a large covered pan until they are tender (about 8 minutes). In a large bowl mash potatoes with the buttermilk, orange juice and butter. Stir in zest, salt and nutmeg. Serve the potatoes topped with a little brown sugar and chipped walnuts.

SOURCE:Perkins Recipes

Looking for more sweet potato recipes?
Whipped Sweet Potatoes
Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Ginger Sweet Potato Muffins
Sweet Potato Pancakes with Pecan Butter

Linked up to...
Recipe Swap Thursday @ Prairie Story

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cherry Almond Granola

I love a small bowl of homemade granola in the morning with a dollop of homemade yogurt. It tastes so clean and refreshing. What a healthy way to start your day. Granola is so versatile. You can change the grains, spices, binders & nuts and still turn out a wonderful and different granola each time.

This is a pretty simple granola with not too many ingredients. I just couldn't resist the combination of cherries and almonds. I love them together. The only thing that could make it better would be some dark chocolate, although I think I would have to reserve the chocolate addition for a special occasion or maybe as a snack.

Cherry Almond Granola
5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2-1 cup flaked coconut
2 cups sliced almonds
1 1/2 cups dried cherries, chopped
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted (or other oil)
1/3 cup honey
2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Toss the oats, coconut, almonds, and cherries together in a large bowl. Pour the coconut oil and honey over the oat mixture. Add the cinnamon, and stir with a wooden spoon until all the oats and nuts are coated with the liquids. Pour onto a sheet pan. Bake, stirring about every 5 minutes with a spatula, until the mixture turns a nice, even golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove the granola from the oven and allow to cool, stirring occasionally. Store the cooled granola in an airtight container.

SOURCE:Adapted from Ina Garten.

Linked to...
Potluck Sunday @ Mommy's Kitchen
This Week's Cravings @ Mom's Crazy Cooking
Seasonal Sunday @ Real Sustenance

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Oatmeal Raspberry Pancakes with Berry Coulis

I know, oatmeal raspberry pancakes with berry coulis (koo-lee) sounds so fancy huh? It's really just raspberry syrup, but it's homemade and it's yummy and it's better than anything you could buy at the store.

Pancake fanatic that I am, I still try new pancakes often. Lucky for me my oldest daughter asked for pancakes every morning the past two weeks and I gave in. What can I say? I made some of my old faves (check them out at the bottom of this post), and tried some new ones as well. Now, I didn't end up making fresh pancakes EVERY morning, that just would be crazy. Some days we pulled the leftovers out of the fridge but I think we pretty much ate pancakes one way or another just about every day for those two weeks. And I still have pancake recipes I haven't yet tried. I am always up for trying a new pancake recipe.

Oatmeal Raspberry Pancakes
1 cup rolled oats
2 cups buttermilk, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1-2 cups fresh raspberries, rinsed (you can use thawed, drained frozen as well)

In a bowl, mix oats and 1 cup of the buttermilk; let stand at least 15 minutes or up to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, beat eggs, remaining buttermilk, and vanilla to blend. Stir in flour and oat mixtures just until evenly moistened, then gently stir in raspberries.

Preheat your griddle or frying pan. If using a frying pan you may need to grease it. Pour batter in 1/4-cup portions onto griddle and cook until pancakes are browned on the bottom and edges begin to look dry, about 2 minutes; turn with a wide spatula and brown other sides, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes longer.

Serve the pancakes warm with berry coulis.

Berry Coulis
*2 cups rinsed fresh or thawed frozen blueberries
2 cups rinsed fresh or thawed frozen raspberries
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice

In a 3- to 4-quart pan, combine blueberries, raspberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until berries begin to disintegrate and mixture starts to thicken, about 15 minutes. Press through a fine strainer into a bowl, extracting as much liquid as possible with the back of a spoon or a spatula; discard seeds and skins. Serve coulis warm; if mixture cools before you're ready to serve, reheat in a microwave oven. If it's too thick, stir in a little warm water.

*I only used raspberries this time because that's all I had but I think it would be fabulous with the blueberries too. Next time I will definitely make it with the blueberries.

SOURCE:Adapted from Sunset Magazine on

Linked to...
Recipe Swap Thursday @ Prairie Story

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pumpkin Seed Pesto

See, I can make healthy things! I swore after I made that pan of brownies the other night that that would be it until Thanksgiving. NO TREATS! I do have an ice cream post waiting to go up but I made it a few weeks ago so it doesn't count. So, if you see anything other than that between now and then, you'll know I'M CHEATING!

Anyway, on to this pesto. So yummy. I had been going through the Whole Foods Market blog and this was one of the first things I bookmarked. I liked the whole pumpkin seed thing because, you know, it's fall and pumpkin is in the air, not that it tastes anything remotely like pumpkin, but that's beside the point. I also liked it because it's dairy-free (and nut-free) and that's a plus because my hubby is lactose-intolerant.

This is a very versatile pesto. You can toss it with some pasta or steamed veggies. It's little thicker than a traditional basil pesto so it would also be good as a sandwich spread, or on some crackers or crostini. We just put it on some fettuccine but it makes quite a bit so I plan on using the leftovers with some gnocchi.

Pumpkin Seed Pesto
2 cups unsalted hulled (green) pumpkin seeds
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
3 garlic cloves
1 - 1 1/2 bunches fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 375°F. Toss pumpkin seeds with 2 tablespoons of the oil and salt then spread out in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Roast until seeds are puffed and fragrant, 10 to 15 minutes, then set aside to let cool.

Combine seeds in a food processor with water, lemon juice, garlic, cilantro and remaining 4 tablespoons oil. If you're not a huge cilantro fan, start with less then add until it's to your liking. Pulse until mixture forms a coarse paste then season with salt and pepper. Cover and chill until ready to use.

SOURCE:Whole Foods Market Blog

This recipe Linked to Potluck Sunday @ Mommy's Kitchen.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Butterfinger Bars

Looking back on the past several posts, I am now realizing why I have gained 5 pounds all of a sudden. I do eat real food, I even eat my veggies, but I think once fall hit the baking started and I just can't stop. There is so much good food around this time of year, I have a hard time holding back.

I have had this recipe almost 7 years and have never made it. I got it from my sister-in-law, Jaime. She made these for one of my bridal showers and has made them for family dinners here and there. If you are a chocolate and peanut butter fan, you will love them, but brace yourselves, they are a little gluttonous. You may want to wear an elastic waitband when eating these!

These make a whole cookie sheet full so you probably want to share them. I made them for my husband to take to work for a halloween treat.

Butterfinger Bars
For cookie layer:
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2/3 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
2 cups oats
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

For topping:
about 1 cup peanut butter
chocolate frosting (I used the frosting recipe on the Toll House cocoa powder tub)
Butterfinger candy bar, crushed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in peanut butter until incorporated, then add eggs and vanilla and mix until just incorporated. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients then add them to the butter and sugar mixture. Beat until well-combined.

Spread dough out into a cookie sheet. You may want to use waxed paper on your hand to help you spread it out because it is pretty sticky.

Bake for 15-18 minutes. Let cool completely. Spread a thin layer of peanut butter over the cookie layer. Put it in the freezer for a few minutes to stiffen a bit then spread the chocolate frosting over the peanut butter layer. Sprinkle with crushed Butterfinger candy bars (I think I used about 4-5 minis).

This post linked to Recipe Swap Thursday @ Prairie Story.

Monday, November 1, 2010

November Menu

Wohoo, it's November. Before we know it Thanksgiving will be upon us. I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do for Thanksgiving this year. I would like to host it but since we live in such a small place, I'm not sure that will work out. I may have a few options though, so I'm crossing my fingers something comes through.

Keeping my hopes high, I went ahead and planned a Thanksgiving menu. I found some fabulous recipes in this month's Bon Appetit magazine that I think will make a great addition. I tried to include more veggies to keep the meal well-balanced and I'm keeping dessert more traditional and simple.

For the rest of the month I tried to keep it simple as well, focusing on things my girls are pretty good at eating.

The first part of this month's menu is a little carry over from what I didn't get to last month. Linked recipes are ones I have made previously and are on my blog. For the rest of the menu items, I will be posting as I make them.

Dinner Menu
Brown Sugar Bourbon Pork, Mashed Sweet potatoes with Orange Glaze and Walnuts, steamed green beans
Chinese Chicken Salad & Pumpkin Seed Pesto
Chicken w/ Tarragon & leeks, Pecan apple salad (w/o chicken)
Smashed Pinto Beans w/ rice and cornbread
Thai Veggie Lettuce Wraps, Mango Jicama & Cucumber Salad

Macaroni Grill's Chicken Cannelloni w/ Chopped Greek Salad
Cheesey Broccoli Bake & Jicama Apple Slaw
Zucchini Spaghetti w/ garlic bread and green beans
Pumpkin Sweet Potato and Coconut Milk Soup
Honey Curry Chicken w/ Coconut Rice, steamed peas

Pasta w/ Pumpkin & Sausage, Spinach & Pear Salad
Tacos & corn
Moroccan Carrot Salad & Butternut Squash Gnocchi w/ Sage Butter
Mushroom & Lentil Pot Pies

Ham Beans & cornbread
Acorn squash w/ cornbread stuffing
Philly Cheese steak Pizza & Salad
Split Pea Soup w/ Smoked Sausage & Greens
Spinach Fettuccine w/ fresh fruit & veggies

Thanksgiving Menu (tentative)
Cider Roasted Turkey
Sweet Potato Biscuits
Green beans w/ toasted walnuts & dried cherry vinaigrette
Sauteed shredded brussels sprouts w/ smoked ham and toasted pecans
Sweet Potato Pudding w/ pecans & gingersnap topping
Cranberry sauce

Sour Lemon Pie
Apple Pie
Pumpkin Pie

Other things I'll be making this month:
Apple Cider Syrup & Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Pancakes
Oatmeal Raspberry Pancakes w/ berry coulis
Vanilla Spiced Caramel & Pear Tart
Cranberry Spice Granola
Peanut Butter Granola

Friday, October 29, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

I made these twice in 2 days. I made them the first time for a play group I was hosting and I was expecting to have some leftover. Alas, after everyone was gone, all that was left were a few crumbs. So, I set out to make them again the very next afternoon because they were really good and my kids devoured them. Kids can be finicky, especially when it comes to food, so when I find something that they will eat that's healthy, I stick to it. This is a great snack food that I feel good about giving my family.

I used pumpkin as a binder in this granola because I love the flavor and it's perfect for fall. If you don't like the flavor of pumpkin, you can substitute applesauce or another fruit puree.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
3 1/4 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup honey
*2-3 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted (or other oil or butter)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray an 8x8-inch square baking pan or an 8x11-inch bar pan with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine oats, spices and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together brown sugar, pumpkin, honey, coconut oil and vanilla until smooth. Pour over oats and stir well, until all of the oats are coated and moist. Stir in chocolate chips.

Evenly press granola into prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool about 10 minutes. Carefully flip pan over onto a cutting board, or lift parchment paper out of the pan. Cut into bars and separate them a little bit so they can cool completely.

You can easily double this recipe, especially since they don't last long! Just bake it in a 9x13 pan.

*The first time I made the granola bars, I didn't use any oil but I thought I would add it the second time to see if it would make the bars a little more moist and plyable. There was not much difference between the two. The second batch was more moist but the oil didn't make them more pliable. Either way they were great.

SOURCE:Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

This recipe linked to Putluck Sunday @ Mommy's Kitchen and This Week's Cravings @ Mom's Crazy Cooking.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Broccoli and Apple Slaw

I came up with this recipe after looking in my fridge at the leftovers from my bountiful baskets; broccoli, pomegranates and apples. I think it turned out pretty darn good too. I used the pomegranate seeds because I had them but I know they can be pretty pricey, especially for the budget conscious. Dried cherries or dried cranberries would be a great substitute if you couldn't get pomegranate.

This is a great salad for the fall or even winter because all these things are readily available through both seasons and will last a little while in your fridge. I just used a simple apple cider vinaigrette I had leftover in my fridge to dress it but feel free to get a little more fancy if you wish. You can also change up the nuts as well and use sunflower seeds, almonds or pecans.

Broccoli and Apple Slaw
For the slaw:
6 broccoli stems
1-2 apples (I used gala because that's what I had but I think a tart apple would be good too)
seeds of 1/2 a pomegranate
1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

For the vinaigrette:
1/3 cup sugar (or less)
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

With either a knife or a vegetable peeler, cut off the outer fibrous layer of each broccoli stem. Cut the apple in quarters and take out the core. Cut both the broccoli and apple into thin matchsticks and put them into a salad bowl. Peel open a pomegranate and take out about half of the seeds and add them to the salad. sprinkle with nuts.

For the dressing, mix everything together and whisk until combined. Either pour some of the dressing over the slaw and gently toss or add the dressing to individual portions.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Peanut Butter White Chocolate Popcorn

As I contemplated the title, I wondered if I even needed to write the recipe after that because it really says it all. It's pretty simple. Simple is good. Sometimes it's even the best. I'm pretty sure that's the case here. This takes literally about 5 minutes to throw together and it tastes fantastic! I was introduced to white chocolate popcorn last Christmas when a friend gave it to me as a gift. I couldn't believe how simple yet addictingly good the stuff was. If you're a peanut butter lover, this will be over the top for you-yes, it's that good!

This little treat makes the perfect little teacher or friend gift for fall or Halloween, and it's also great for crowds. So, if you're having a get together or need a last minute gift for someone, try this.

1 large bowl popped popcorn, kernels removed (or 2 bags microwave popcorn, popped)
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 bag white chocolate chips
1/2-1 cup Reeses Pieces

Pop the popcorn then sift through to remove all unpopped kernels. Melt the white in the microwave at 50% power for 30 seconds at a time for 2 minutes, stirring after each interval. Stir in the peanut butter until smooth and incorporated. Pour over popcorn and gently stir to coat popcorn evenly with chocolate. Add Reeses Pieces as you stir in the chocolate. Spread out popcorn on waxed paper to set.

SOURCE:Adapted from The Sister's Cafe

This post is linked to Recipe Swap Thursday @ Prarie Story.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Holy Hannah! I don't think I have ever heard my husband mmmm and ahhh over food like he did when he ate these. He absolutely loved them and also thought the caramel frosting was the best frosting ever. I have to say that I thought they were great too and that it was a fun way to change up regular old cinnamon rolls. I really loved how the dough turned out once it was cooked. It was very light and airy, not heavy and dense, and had a great flavor.

Seriously, you should add these to your fall menu sometime soon. Even if you have to give some away, like I did, so you don't eat them all yourself. I like to bake my rolls in round cake or pie pans and drizzle on the frosting while they are still a little warm so it seeps down into every crack and crevice. You could also bake these in 1 or 2 large baking pans as well.

Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls
Yield: About 18-20 rolls

For the cinnamon rolls:
3 1/2 cups bread flour
2 tsp. instant (rapid rise) yeast
6 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
5 1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 cup plus 2-4 tbsp. whole milk or buttermilk, at room temperature

For the filling:
1-2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
Pinch salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract

brown sugar

For the frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/3 cup caramel sauce
2 tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a dough hook, add the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, yeast, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pulse a few seconds to incorporate. Add the butter, egg and warm buttermilk. Mix on low speed for about 5 minutes; the dough should be silky and supple but not sticky.

Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size.

Meanwhile, make the filling. To make the caramelized apples, melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the apple slices, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Mix until the apples are evenly coated. Cook about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Set aside to cool.

Mist a work surface with spray oil. Divide dough in half and set one half aside. Roll the other half out into a rectangle with a rolling pin; if the rolling pin gets sticky, spray with cooking spray, do not dust with flour.

Sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon over the surface of the dough, smoothing it out with your hand. Quantities here will vary as I like more than just a dusting of cinnamon and sugar but others like it a little more sparse. Evenly distribute the caramelized apples over the top of the dough.

Starting with the wide edge, roll up the dough into a log. Pinch the seam shut. With the seam side down, slice about 1 to 1-1/2 inch pieces off with a piece of dental floss and transfer them to either a round baking dish, cake pan or baking sheet, sprayed with cooking spray. Place the rolls about 1/2-1 inch apart. Repeat with remaining ball of dough. (I filled 2 round cake pans and 1 pie tin). (For a step by step visual aid, see my orange roll recipe.)

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature, until the rolls have grown into each other and have nearly doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool in the baking about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.

To make the glaze, combine the cream cheese and butter in a small heatproof bowl and microwave in 15-20 second intervals until it is warm enough to whisk together. Whisk in the caramel sauce, milk and vanilla extract until smooth. Whisk in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Swirl the glaze over the top of the cinnamon rolls. Let cool before serving.

SOURCE:Adapted from Annie's Eats

This post is linked to Recipe Swap Thursday @ Prarie Story.
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