Sunday, December 10, 2017

#2,039: Blueberry Zucchini Bars

A co-worker recently brought in this recipe for us to try and share.  Unfortunately I had already eaten breakfast that day, so I never tried it.  But I DO happen have zucchini AND blueberries in my freezer waiting to be used up.  I greatly cut back on the amount of sugar in this recipe so that they could eat this for breakfast, and it also was supposed to be made in a loaf pan, but I decided to make this in a 9x13 pan instead.

This isn't super sweet (since I cut back on the sugar), but my kids loved this for breakfast!!  If you were serving this as a dessert, I'd definitely use the recommended amount of sugar.  

3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 c vegetable oil
3 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 c sugar (I only used 1 cup)
2 c zucchini, shredded

3 c flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp cinnamon
2 c blueberries (I used frozen, thawed)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9x13 pan.  In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar.  Fold in zucchini.  Beat in the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.  Gently fold in blueberries.  Pour into prepared pan.  Bake for 45 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.  Cook before cutting into squares. 

#2,038: Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower with Almond Meal

The original recipe for this roasted cauliflower calls for using nutritional yeast, which I do not have.  So I did a quick Google search for a substitute, and grated Parmesan cheese was suggested.  I loved this!  And better yet, my picky eater 5 year old, who does like cauliflower in moderation, really enjoyed this recipe!  He complained through most of his rest of dinner, but this he happily ate and even asked for seconds. 

1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets 
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 
1/8 tsp rounded sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp almond meal
1 tbsp nutritional yeast (I used grated Parmesan Cheese, and used closer to 1/4 cup)

Preheat the oven to 425°F. (I skipped this step) Line a rimmed baking sheet or 8 by 12-inch baking pan with parchment paper.  Toss the cauliflower with the olive oil and sea salt (and pepper, if using). Transfer to the prepared pan. 

Bake for 20 minutes, tossing once or twice. At the 20-minute mark, check the done-ness and color of the cauliflower. If it has started to soften, turning a golden color, add the almond meal and nutritional yeast and toss again. If, at 20 minutes, it isn’t at this stage, let it bake for another 10 minutes and then add the almond meal and nutritional yeast.

Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes or more, tossing again once, until the cauliflower is golden brown and fully softened. 

Remove from the oven and season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Serve warm!  

#2,037: Squash, Kale, Sausage Inspired Bowls

So I originally found a recipe for Stuffed Spaghetti Squash in a recent issue of taste of home, but I decided to change it up based on the ingredients I had on hand. Actually my only substitution was going to be to use sausage instead of ground beef, but when I picked up my grocery order, there was a butternut squash instead of a spaghetti squash.  And when I went to make it, I realized I didn't have hot sauce, so I figured I couldn't post this as an original recipe review.  I'm still interested in trying it at some point though. 
I really, really, really enjoyed this meal!  It was hearty, filling, and healthy.  I think this would be good with some roasted cauliflower in it too! 

1 medium spaghetti squash (I used a butternut squash, cubed)
1 cup water (I omitted)
3/4 pound lean ground beef (I used bulk pork sausage)
1/2 cup chopped red onion (I used a yellow onion)
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
2 to 3 teaspoons Louisiana-style hot sauce (I used a few dashes of red pepper flakes)
4 small garlic cloves, minced
1 can (15 ounces) no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups chopped fresh kale
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

I skipped this step and just roasted my butternut squash cubes with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, until it was soft and to my liking).  Trim ends of squash and halve lengthwise; discard seeds. Place squash, cut side down, on the trivet in a 6-qt. electric pressure cooker. Add water to cooker. Lock lid; make sure vent is closed. Select steam setting; adjust pressure to high and set time for 7 minutes. When squash is finished cooking, quickly release pressure according to the manufacturer's directions. Set squash aside; remove water from cooker.

In a large skillet, crumble beef (I used pork sausage) and cook with onion over medium heat until no longer pink, 4-6 minutes; drain. Add mustard, hot sauce and garlic; cook 1 minute more. Stir in black beans and kale; cook just until wilted, 2-3 minutes.

Using a fork, separate strands of spaghetti squash; combine with meat mixture. Dollop servings with Greek yogurt. 

#2,036: Two-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars

I needed to bring something to work for a potluck/snack-type event, and wanted something that was super easy to throw together, that wouldn't require me being in the kitchen for very long.  I found this recipe which used a tub of Pillsbury Gluten Free Cookie Dough and peanut butter cups.  Uh, yes please, this sounded easy enough!  I doubled the recipe to use a 9x13 pan, and also used 2 tubes of regular chocolate chip cookie dough instead of the gluten free version.  I cut the dough into equal size circles and let them sit out on the counter for a few minutes to soften up.  Then I laid them in the pan and pushed them together to form one large cookie bar.  

These seriously are super delicious!  I had to put the leftovers in a container to take to work because we would have eaten them all!  

2 tubes (16.5 oz each) of chocolate chip cookie dough
11 oz package of mini peanut butter cups, unwrapped (you will need about half of the package)
Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray; set aside.

Press three-quarters of the dough into the base of the pan to create a smooth, flat, even base layer. Reserve the remainder.

Evenly place peanut butter cups on top of dough, about 1 inch apart.  
Haphazardly crumble the reserved dough over the top in marble-sized pieces.

Bake for 13 to 14 minutes, or until edges have set and top is just beginning to set, even if slightly undercooked, pale and glossy in the center.  (I cooked mine for about 16 minutes because they seemed too soft.  They are slightly undercooked, but SO good this way!)  Allow bars to cool in pan for at least 30 minutes before slicing. As you can see from the photo above my chocolate was still soft and melty.  After I sliced them, I carefully placed them on a plate and put it in the fridge to finish cooling and firm up.  I left them in the fridge overnight. 

Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 4 months.

#2,035: 3 Ingredient Cake Mix Cookies

I was looking for easy Christmas cookie recipes, and my co-worker/friend suggested these 3 ingredient cookies using cake mix and vegetable oil.  Ok, so it's 4 ingredients because you probably want to top with some sort of frosting or glaze.  I rolled mine in powder sugar before I baked them.  These are so simple, and very moist...and my kids are loving them.  I had 2 different cake mixes on hand, so I made a batch of German chocolate cookies, and fudge cake mix cookies.  We can definitely tell a difference in the two, and we all prefer the chocolate fudge ones more.  If you don't want to dip these in powder sugar, you could drizzle on (or dip them in) a powder sugar/milk glaze.  I also thought about sandwiching 2 of them with some vanilla frosting...maybe next time.  :) 

1 (18 1/4 ounce) box cake mix (any kind)
1⁄2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs

confectioners' sugar or granulated sugar, for rolling (if desired)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir dry cake mix, oil, and eggs in a large bowl until dough forms.  Shape dough into 1" balls.  Roll balls in confectioners' sugar and place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until center is JUST SET.
Remove from pans after a minute or so and cool on wire racks. 

#2,034: Easy Crockpot Orange Chicken

I had 2 large frozen chicken breasts that I wanted to use up in a very easy way, so I figured I'd give this recipe a try.  I knew I was pushing my luck because my family typically doesn't eat a ton of meat that's served over rice (if I throw it in a roll, that's usually a better outcome for us), and asking my husband to eat something with "marmalade" would have been a flat out no.  So I had to sneak this one past them and hope for the best.  I figured the addition of the BBQ sauce was a good starting point for sneaking this one by them. 

The original recipe says to cook the chicken first by itself, and then drain the natural liquid released from the chicken before adding in the sauce ingredients, but I was not about extra steps.  So I cooked it all together and and it turned out just fine. 

My family wasn't big fans of this recipe.  It was too "citrusy" for their liking.  I liked it, but I didn't love it.  I would certainly eat this again, but it's not something that will be on my menu again any time soon. 

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup BBQ sauce
3/4 cup orange marmalade

2 tbsp soy sauce
Rice (white, brown, jasmine, etc) for serving

Optional toppings: sesame seeds, sliced green onion, crispy Chinese noodles, etc. 

Cut 3-4 chicken breasts into small chunks.  Place them in a crockpot.
In a medium bowl, combine the BBQ sauce, soy sauce, and orange marmalade.  Mix to combine, and pour over the chicken.  Stir to coat the chicken.  Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours.  

Serve with rice and additional toppings (if desired).

Saturday, December 9, 2017

#2,033: Breakfast Sliders

Ok, this seriously may be my new favorite (current) meal!  My mom makes a similar version of these sandwiches for parties that are called "Hammies" or "Turkeys" (depending on the type of deli meat she uses).  I've never had them for breakfast with eggs though before.  I figured I'd give this recipe a try, and 2 of my kids (not surprisingly) wouldn't even try them.  However, my oldest (and most willing to try a food) LOVED these.  I made just a few for dinner last night, and I'll be making more again for lunch for the two of us today.  They are SO good! 

1 pkg (12 count) Hawaiian Rolls
8 - 10 eggs (depending on how much egg you want on your sliders)
6 large slices provolone cheese (thin slices)
sliced ham (at least 6 large, thin slices)
¼ cup butter (melted)
1 Tbsp yellow mustard
1 Tbsp brown sugar

Scramble up your eggs however you like to do them. (I cook them in some melted butter, with salt, pepper, and a bit of milk). 

While the eggs scramble, cut the entire package of rolls in half, separating a top and bottom layer.  

Place the bottom sheet of rolls in a pan and top with a thin layer of provolone cheese.  Top with cooked, scrambled eggs, a layer of ham slices, and then another layer of cheese, if desired.  Add the top layer of Hawaiian rolls.

(If making ahead of time, stop at this point, and refrigerate until ready to bake).  

In a small bowl, combine melted butter, mustard and brown sugar. Stir until well combined, and the sugar is at least mostly dissolved.  Using a pastry brush, coat the tops of the rolls with the mustard/sugar mixture. 

Bake at 350 for about 10-15 minutes (until cheese gets nice and melt-y).  Remove from oven and let cool a few minutes before cutting into individual sandwiches.  

#2,032: Easy Egg and Sausage Breakfast Taquitos

My family loves breakfast sausage sandwiches (on English muffins) but they do not like eggs.  So I figured I'd give this recipe a try to sneak a bit of scrambled eggs past them.  I was super surprised that two of them actually ate (and enjoyed these!).  Middle child #2, ate it, but claims she didn't enjoy it.  I personally enjoyed this as well.  It certainly isn't my favorite way to eat sausage, eggs, and cheese (I'll take a toasted bagel or English muffin any day!), but it was a nice change for me.  

7 oz box sausage links
5 large eggs (I used 3)
salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2  cups shredded cheese , cheddar, pepper jack or Monterrey jack
1 cup baby spinach , chopped (optional) (I omitted)
10  white corn tortillas , or use 6'' flour tortillas (I used super soft flour tortillas)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Add the frozen sausage links to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, turning occasionally, until warmed through.  Remove to a plate, leaving a little bit of the sausage grease in the pan.

Crack eggs into a bowl and add a splash of water or milk. Whisk well with a fork and then add to the pan.  Season with salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes, tossing and scrambling as they cook. (If using spinach, add it to the pan about 2 minutes before the eggs are done cooking.) Remove from heat.

(I didn't need to do this) Warm the tortillas inside of a damp paper towel for 10-15 seconds in the microwave.

Divide the scrambled eggs among the tortillas and top with shredded cheese.  Place a sausage link on top. Roll up and place, seam side down, on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper.

Spray lightly with cooking spray and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with salsa for dipping, if desired.

To Freeze: Prepare and bake the taquitos as directed. Allow to cool completely and then place in a freezer Ziploc bag. When ready to eat, microwave them until warm.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

#2,031: Easy Banana Cake

I have a lot of random types of flour in my pantry: whole wheat, self-rising, all-purpose, and bread flour.  I also, (as usual), have a bunch of over-ripe bananas I need to find a use for.  So I did a quick Google search for banana cake using self-rising flour and came across this recipe which uses one POT (instead of one bowl) to prepare it.  I was also out of butter (thanks to a double batch of cheesy potatoes I made), so I had to substitute coconut oil in this recipe as well.  

This cake was so easy to make and is super moist.  I let my kids have a piece of it tonight before bed and they devoured it.  They already have their plates set out tomorrow for breakfast.  Personally, I will cut down on the amount of sugar next time since it's a bit much for breakfast, but for a once in a while treat, I'm ok with it.  I will definitely make this recipe again! 

125 g butter (I used coconut oil)
3/4 cup caster sugar (I used granulated sugar)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
2 bananas mashed ripe
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1/4 cup milk
Mini chocolate chips (optional)

Melt the butter, sugar, and vanilla in a medium-sized saucepan. Remove from heat.

Add mashed bananas and stir through until just blended.  Add 1/2 cup of the flour and mix, until just combined.  Add milk and egg and mix in well. Stir in remaining 1/4 cup of flour.  I also added some mini chocolate chips which melted because of the warmth of the mixture.  I then spread this is a lightly greased 9x13 pan and topped with more mini chocolate chips.  

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

#2,030: Linguine with Brown Butter, Pecans, and Basil

I'll be honest, this recipe was supposed to be made with gnocchi instead of linguine, but I refused to but another pasta (even though I love gnocchi) when I have so many open boxes in my pantry!  So I was using what I had on hand!!  After I made the brown butter sage sauce recently with my aunt, I was super excited to try this recipe as well.  I apparently love brown butter sauces, because I loved this!  It was so good, and super easy to make.  I would definitely make this one again!

2 16-oz. pkg. potato gnocchi
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 teaspoon lemon zest, plus 1 Tbsp. fresh juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
3 cups packed torn basil leaves, divided
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (about cup)

Cook gnocchi (or in my case linguine) according to package directions.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add pecans and cook, stirring often, until nuts are toasted and butter begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Add gnocchi and cook, tossing, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes.

Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and almost all the basil. Serve topped with remaining basil and cheese. 

#2,029: Cream Cheese Mints with Vitality Essential Oil

I made this recipe 2 years ago and came across it again in a recent issue of My Magazine that our local Kroger sends out.  The last time I made this recipe, I used peppermint extract, and I rolled the mints in little logs before cutting into small pieces.  This time, I used Young Living Vitality Peppermint Essential Oil in place of the extract, AND I used a piping bag and a star tip to make these a little fancier.  I even put a chocolate chip in the middle of some of them (those are our favorite ones!).  

8 oz, full fat cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoon butter, softened
7-8 cups confectioners' sugar (I used 7 cups)
10 drops of Young Living Vitality Peppermint Essential Oil (or to taste)
Food coloring if desired (I used green)

In a large mixer, combine cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Add the peppermint oil and desired food coloring (if using).  Add 2 cups of confectioner's sugar at a time, mixing and adding until a stiff dough forms.

The recipe says to cover and refrigerate until firm enough to handle, about 2 hours.  HOWEVER, this was so hard to get out of my piping bags, I had the best luck, putting it in the piping bag, and then putting the piping bag inside a ziploc bag and letting it sit in a cup of boiling water for a few minutes.  It made the dough soft enough to easily come out of the bag and it still turned out fine!  I can't imagine what it would have been like trying to get it out of a piping bag if I had refrigerated it!

Line a few baking sheets with waxed paper.  To make star-shaped mints, use a star-tipped pastry bag.  Or scoop the dough by the teaspoonful and roll into balls.

Place all mints onto the baking sheets, and allow to dry, uncovered, for 3 hours.  Flip if necessary (it IS necessary) to allow the bottoms of the mints to dry.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge, or freeze up to 3 months.   

#2,028: Hearty Beef and Sweet Potato Stew

I am a fan of beef stew, but my family is not, so it isn't something I make very often.  But I was totally in the mood for some stew this time of year so I figured I'd give this recipe a try.  I made it fully knowing that all my family would eat was the beef stew meat, and that I'd have to make mashed potatoes for them instead of the sweet potatoes or root vegetables.  I'm totally ok with that though because it means more veggies for me!  My kids thought this was just ok.  My husband enjoyed it, but didn't like it reheated.  I however, enjoy eating my leftover meat cold (weird I know!), so I loved it leftover, and was glad I didn't have to fight him for the last serving.  :)  I would totally make this again, but don't throw the sweet potatoes in right away.  I knew it would be soft because I was going out for the day and had to put them in the crockpot in the beginning, but if you can throw them in a few hours later, the texture will be better and the potatoes will hold up more.   Also, as you will see by the original recipe below, this is supposed to be made on the stove top, but I wanted this even easier, so I threw it in the crockpot!

3 tablespoons canola oil, divided (I used vegetable oil)
1-1/2 pounds boneless beef chuck steak, cut into 1-inch pieces (I used 2 1/2 lbs)
2 medium onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) reduced-sodium beef broth
1/3 cup dry red wine or additional reduced-sodium beef broth
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons cornstarch (I omitted)
3 tablespoons cold water (I omitted)
1-1/4 pounds sweet potatoes (about 2 medium), cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound baby portobello mushrooms, halved (I omitted)
4 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 medium parsnips, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 medium turnip, cut into 3/4-inch cubes

How I made this in the crockpot:
In a large pan, heat up vegetable oil and brown the meat and onions over high heat, not necessarily cooking the meat all the way though, but so that it is nicely browned on all sides.

Meanwhile, in the crockpot, layer the sweet potatoes, parsnips and turnips.

Once the meat is browned, add the garlic, broth, dry red wine (if using), thyme, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce.  Mix to combine and pour over the vegetables in the crockpot.

Cover and cook for 8-10 hours on low.  

Original recipe directions: 
Preheat oven to 325°. In an ovenproof Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Brown beef in batches. Remove with a slotted spoon.
Add remaining oil to pan. Add onions; cook and stir 2-3 minutes or until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Add broth and wine, stirring to remove browned bits from pan. Stir in thyme, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Return beef to pan; bring to a boil. Bake, covered, 1-1/4 hours.

In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and cold water until smooth; gradually stir into stew. Add sweet potatoes, mushrooms, carrots, parsnips and turnip to pan. Bake, covered, 45-60 minutes longer or until beef and vegetables are tender. If desired, strain cooking juices; skim fat. Return cooking juices to Dutch oven. Yield: 8 servings (2-1/2 quarts). 

#2,027: Chocolate Chip Chickpea Cookie Dough

My 10 year old found this recipe on Facebook when we were watching cooking blogs/stories together and asked if she could make it for us one day.  She painstakingly, debated about which of the 4 versions she was going to try and finally settle on this Chocolate Chip cookie dough version.  She was so excited to try it and thought she could eat it right after it was mixed...except it was a watery, very unpleasant looking mixture.  So we threw it in the freezer to firm up.  It got rock solid in the freezer so we had to let it sit out a little bit before we could actually eat it.  To my surprise, both of my girls hated this, but my super picky 5 year old son actually enjoyed it!  I personally did too, but it's probably because I could taste the peanut butter, which I love.  I don't think I'd personally take the time to make this again, but I'm glad we tried it. 

1 can chickpea, drained (liquid reserved) and rinsed
¼ cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup chickpea water
½ cup chocolate chip

Spread drained chickpeas onto a towel and pat dry.
Remove chickpea shells.
Place chickpeas, peanut butter, vanilla, honey, and salt into food processor.
Mix halfway then add chickpea water to help consistency.
Add chocolate chips to mixed dough. 

#2,026: Crockpot Bourbon Chicken

I am not a fan of chicken thighs, and often will sub out boneless skinless chicken breasts instead in a recipe.  But I know that chicken thighs are less expensive, so I thought I'd try and give this recipe a try.  We really enjoyed this recipe, and I loved how easy it was to throw together!  I added some water chestnuts and some crispy chinese noodles to give it more texture, which made me enjoy it even more!  I didn't love it reheated as much as I did the first night we ate this, but I'm so picky with chicken.  

3 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup sliced green onions (or more to taste)
1 can of sliced water chestnuts
Crispy chinese noodles (to top)

Jasmine (or white) rice (to serve over)

1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
1/3 cup apple juice
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup Bourbon (I used wiskey because that's all I had on hand)
1/4 cup soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Place chicken in slow cooker, pour sauce over top. Cover and cook on low 6-7 hours or on high 3 hours.

Remove chicken and chop into bite-sized pieces and cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, combine 3 tablespoons water with cornstarch. Turn slow cooker up to high. Whisk cornstarch slurry into the sauce. Cover and allow to thicken, stirring occasionally (about 10 minutes). Stir chicken (and water chestnuts) back into the sauce and add in green onions.

Serve over rice.

#2,025: Chocolate Avocado Banana Bread

My brother's girlfriend, Jess, brought this recipe to Thanksgiving last weekend and I'll admit, the huge chunks of chocolate chips caught my eye right away.  As you know from my posts (especially my more recent ones), we make banana bread often in this house, and I am always looking for ways to sneak some healthy fruits and veggies into my kids' meals.  So when she said this recipe had avocado in it, I was super excited.  I had each of my kids try it, and no one knew it had avocado in it, and all 3 asked for more.  So I knew this had to go on my meal?breakfast list for this week.

1/2 of a medium, ripe avocado, cubed
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large ripe bananas, sliced
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (make sure to use regular and not dutch processed)
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease the interior of a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.
In a blender or food processor, add avocado, egg, vanilla and bananas. Blend until smooth.
Add in flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda and cinnamon. Blend or pulse until batter is smooth. This should only take a few seconds. You may need to use a spatula to scrape the sides or the bottom to make sure all the flour gets mixed with the batter.

Pour batter into greased loaf pan. Sprinkle surface evenly with chocolate chips so that it covers most of the surface. Bake for about 50 minutes. The top of the loaf should bounce back if pressure is applied and a toothpick inserted should come out clean (except for any melted chocolate that might get on it). Allow bread to cool slightly before slicing and serving.

Monday, November 20, 2017

#2,024: Banana Bread

After a friend gifted us with some bananas (and I mean a lot of bananas), I knew I needed to make some banana bread for my kids for breakfast.  They love banana bread, and whenever we buy bananas, we always have some that turn brown before we eat them.  (That MIGHT be because in my house, no one will eat a banana if it isn't still slightly green, or if it has the tiniest brown spot on it!). 

My kids loved this easy banana bread recipe!  It is such an easy recipe to throw together too because I always have the ingredients on hand!

The original recipe suggested trying 4 bananas for "serious and extreme moist and deliciousness."  I did try this on a second loaf and was not a fan at all.  It was way too much banana for our liking.  Stick with 3!!  

1⁄2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
3 bananas, finely crushed 
1 1⁄2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350ยบ.  Cream together butter and sugar.  Add eggs and crushed bananas.
Combine well.

Sift together flour, soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture. Add vanilla.  Mix just until combined. Do not overmix.

Pour into greased and floured loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes.

#2,023: Crockpot Cranberry Sauce infused with Essential Oils

I tried so hard to use very little sugar with this recipe and started out just using some agave in it.  But it was so tart, I just couldn't eat it.  So I had to keep adding a little more sugar until it was sweet enough to eat, but no so sweet that it the recipe became unhealthy.  I'm not a huge cranberry fan, but I did enjoy this.  I don't know if I will just make this again for fun, but I had some extra cranberries I need to use up.  If you are a huge fresh cranberry fan, let me know what you think! definitely may need to add more sugar so it is to your liking! 

16 oz bag of cranberries
1/8 c agave
1/3 c sugar

3 drops orange Vitality
2 drops clove Vitality
2 drops cinnamon Vitality
1 c water

Add all ingredients to the bowl of a slow cooker and stir to combine.  Cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 7-8 hours, or until the cranberries have popped open and the sauce is bubbly.  Taste and stir in any extra sweetener if desired.  Serve warm. 

#2,022: Grands Pizza Calzones

My family loves these pizza calzones!  They are so easy to make, and it's also a great way to use up any meat filling you happen to have.  (I had some farmhouse bbq muffin filling left, so we made some with that and provolone; I've also used leftover sloppy joe filling and Italian blend cheese.  The combos are just about endless!).  The recipe below is probably our favorite way to eat these though.  I almost always have Grands biscuits on hand to use for last minute dinner ideas (or when I'm just out of ideas in general!) 

can (16.3 oz) Pillsbury Grands refrigerated biscuits 
1/2 cup pizza sauce
cup cooked crumbled sausage (I use bulk pork sausage)
cup shredded mozzarella cheese (I probably used closer to a cup and a half.  I also like to use a 1/4 of a piece of a slice of provolone)

Press each biscuit into 5-inch round. Place on ungreased large cookie sheet.

Spread 1 tablespoon pizza sauce on half of each round to within 1/2 inch of edge; top each with 2 tablespoons each of the sausage and cheese. Fold dough over filling; press edges with fork to seal (I just press really well with my fingers).

Bake at 375°F 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

#2,021: Tuscan Kale and Farro Soup

I've made several recipes using farro, and I absolutely love this nutty grain.  Its texture is a little chewy after it's cooked, and it holds up well in soups (although it will still soak up a lot of the juice).  I found this recipe from Rachel Ray and absolutely fell in love with it.  I didn't add the beans, but added a handful of corn instead.  I have farro on my grocery list again next week because I used it all up this week!  

1 1/2 cups pearled farro, rinsed (I used 1 cup)
1/4 cup olive oil (I used about 2 tbsp)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
2 carrots, thinly sliced crosswise
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 8 ounce bunch tuscan kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped
1 15 ounce can cannellini beans (I omitted and used about 1 cup of frozen corn instead)
1 14 1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
salt and pepper

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, add the farro and cook at a gentle simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Reserve 4 cups of the cooking water, then drain the farro in a colander.

Meanwhile, in a large dutch oven or soup pot, heat olive oil and the garlic over medium-low heat until the garlic is softened, about 3 minutes. With a wooden spoon, press down on the garlic to release its flavor; do not brown. Add the carrots and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in the kale and 1/4 cup water, cover the pot and cook until wilted, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cannellini beans and their liquid, the diced tomatoes and their juices, the parsley and crushed red pepper. Lower the heat, cover partially and gently simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the drained farro and 3 cups of the reserved cooking water to the soup; add the final cup of cooking water if desired to thin the soup. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes over medium heat. 

(I omitted this step) Ladle into bowls and drizzle about 1 tbsp. olive oil over each serving.

#2,020: Cauliflower Soup with Farro

I had a bunch of veggies and a little bit of farro that I wanted to use up and make a soup for my lunches this week.  So I threw a whole bunch of ingredients together to make this really healthy, super delicious soup!  I love when I use up ingredients to make something delicious.  

2 tablespoons olive oil extra-virgin
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 cup baby carrots, cut into small circles (I cut some in half too if they were bigger carrots)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 can of petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 small head of cauliflower cut into small florets
3 large kale leaves, stems removed, and chopped
4 cups chicken broth (I used 2 large boullion cubes and 4 cups of water)
1/4 cup pearled farro, rinsed (this is all I had left, but I would probably use 1 cup next time!)
1 cup frozen peas

In a large pot heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, cauliflower, and garlic. Cook, stirring a few times until the vegetables are softened, about 5-7 minutes. Add the thyme, basil, parsley, salt, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, and stir to combine with the vegetables.

Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add the farro and kale.  Cover and cook on medium-low for about 20 minutes or until the carrots, cauliflower, and farro are all cooked to desired texure.  Add the peas, keep the lid off, and continue cooking over medium-low heat for another 5 minutes.  

Season with pepper if desired. 

#2,019: Banana Breakfast Cookies

I had a huge amount of bananas getting very ripe on my counter, so after making banana bread, I decided to try and find a healthier breakfast cookie recipe for my kids.  I loved this recipe because it only requires ripe bananas and rolled eggs, butter, sugar, etc.  I made half of the batch with just the bananas, oats, and some spices, and in the other half I also added some dark chocolate chips.  Although we enjoyed both versions immensely, we surprisingly all enjoyed the ones without chocolate chips better.  (Shocking!!) 

2 ripe bananas
1 cup rolled oats
I also added a few shakes of cinnamon and about 1 tbsp of vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a bowl mash the bananas until they’re all smashed.  Add in the oats, cinnamon, and vanilla.  (This is also where you would add in a handful or two of any desired additional add in such as chocolate chips, nuts, raisins, etc.).  Stir until fully combined.  

Put parchment paper on a cookie sheet, lightly spray with cooking spray.  Place 1 tbsp (I just use a smaller cookie scoop), of batter onto the parchment paper, per cookie.  These do not spread out so they can be closer together on your cookie sheet.  (Definitely don't overcrowd them though).  
Bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until the edges are brown.  Let it sit on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before moving them to a cooling rack.  

#2,018: Essential Oil Infused Apple Cider

I love warm apple cider.  I don't buy it often because my family doesn't love it as much as I do and I can drink the gallon a little too quickly.  Here is a super easy recipe to enhance your apple cider (or juice!)  I obviously don't usually make 4 cups of juice at a time, so I often will heat the juice in a small pan or microwave, and then add the 1 drop of each oil to my cup, just before drinking. 

4 cups apple cider
5-6 drops orange vitality essential oil
4-5 drops clove vitality essential oil
3-4 drops cinnamon bark vitality essential oil 
Pour all of the ingredients in a crockpot and stir well.  Turn the crockpot on low and heat until warm (or let it continue to simmer/warm all day).