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S&B Holiday Recipe Ideas

21 Dec

Hey crew! If you’re anything like me around the holidays, you’re trying to come up with some new cookie recipes or find a new food to have out at the holiday spread. Or maybe you’re hosting a big group and you need some ideas for breakfast in the morning?

I wanted to have a short, but helpful post for you guys to help you find some great options within the Spatulas and Buttons archive. I would also LOVE to hear some of your favorites! Leave a comment below with one of the holiday classics that you enjoy making, I’d love to try out new ideas from you all!

Classic cookies that everyone will love…

You guys know my love for trying out and posting cookie recipes here on the blog, so we’ll start there. These are a few of my favorites…

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies:

These ARE my favorite and was my choice for cookie exchange contribution this year. They’re chewy and wonderful, not overly minty (unless you’re heavy-handed with the mint extract…I recommend to not be) and truly PERFECT for the holidays. Whenever I make these, they disappear FAST.

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Sugar Cookies:

This is a classic at the holidays, am I right?! This sugar cookie recipe is one that I personally prefer as it produces chewy wonderfulness. I got have ’em chewy! They’re wonderful when frosted but still tasty if eaten plain.

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Brownie Roll-out Cookies:

These look festive, they can be made into all sorts of shapes and when dusted with powdered sugar, well, let’s be real – it looks like snow. Perfect. No more explanation needed.

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Snacks to bring to that party you’re invited to…

It’s always great to have a few go-to’s for when you’re asked to bring something to the holiday get-together with family. Or, if you’re wanting to be creative and give a hostess gift that will double as snacks. Here are a few options that I’ve found to be delicious…

Chipotle & Rosemary Nuts:

Mixed nuts seem to be a staple at the holidays and this recipe just gives a little pizzazz to the mixed nuts bowl you put out on the table every year. It’s a little spicy, a little sweet with a great layer of rosemary throughout. Yum!

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Cake Batter Dip:

When trying to find a sweet dip to balance out all of their savory cousins (are dips cousins?!), this will win over anyone with a sweet tooth. It’s great with fruit or with plain cookies (e.g. Nilla Wafers).

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Fruity Dark Chocolate Bark:

A different approach to the ‘bark’ that always seems to be out on the dessert table at this time of year. This one uses dried fruit to give a sweet and tangy flavor and a little crunch. It’s also very pretty and would work perfectly as a hostess gift!

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Breakfast for a crowd…

Are you planning on hosting family and friends throughout the next few weeks? If so, when it comes to breakfast, it’s essential to have a few plans in your back pocket. These options would be perfect to feed pajama clad folks and will be a tasty way to start your day…

New York Breakfast Casserole:

This casserole is a twist on the New York bagel, with everything bagels, cream cheese and endless possibilities to add your meat of choice (lox, sausage or bacon anyone?!) and/or veggies. I love this with the classic tomatoes and red onion combo, but you could add in some bell peppers, green onions, etc. It can even be prepped the night before, leaving you more time to snooze in the AM.

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Baked Oatmeal:

A fancier oatmeal that will warm everyone’s stomachs as they wake up for the day. You can add in whichever fruit strikes your fancy (raspberries and blueberries have worked well in my previous experiments). This goes well when paired with bacon and/or sausage (and makes your kitchen smell like the best breakfast restaurant in town).

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Raspberry Scones:

Looking for a bread/pastry (that doesn’t require you to wake up at the crack of dawn) to feed warm to your guests?! These scones are a cinch to throw together and you could easily make a few batches at once. They’d be great paired with some eggs in the morning, providing a perfect item to soak up those runny yolks. Sigh. Now I want one. AND a runny yolk for dipping.

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I’m finally going to get to try out some new recipes over the holiday season, with a break from work and plenty of time to experiment in the kitchen. Can’t wait to share these adventures with you!

And guess what?! This girl finally got herself a DSLR camera! SO excited to capture better and clearer pictures for you all in future posts. I know my iPhone photos won’t win any awards. But hey, I did the best I could with the technology I had. Looking forward to learning the in’s and out’s of the new camera so I can bring more mouth-watering pictures to the blog.

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season, with time spent relaxing with those you love most, enjoying delicious treats and sipping libations that warm your belly.

Cheers!

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Oatmeal Cookie Granola

22 Nov

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So I realize to many, granola is not the most exciting thing. To those people I say, you need to try THIS granola.

Now, I’ve posted a previous granola recipe on here (which I still thoroughly enjoy and still recommend), but this is granola with a different sort of twist – sweet and kicked up a notch, with different crunch, different flavors (hello again, browned butter) and CHOCOLATE. Yes, there is chocolate in this granola and I know it shouldn’t be my favorite part as at the heart of it all, granola is supposed to be “healthy-ish” (right?!)…but it is. I’m not even sorry about it.

I made this a few weeks back and our apartment smelled soooooooo good. I would make this solely to make my apartment smell like THAT again. If for nothing else, make this to infuse your home with smells of cookies, oatmeal, and browned butter.

Gah.

So. Delish.

Ironic choice of words (and still true words) as this recipe is from Seriously Delish, the cookbook I’ve raved about a few times (the Baked Oatmeal from a few posts back is from here too). I want to make just about every recipe in this cookbook, so this will NOT be the last time you read about it on this blog. Jessica wrote a masterpiece that has the right amount of creativity, taste, coziness AND her hilarious commentary throughout; it’s the perfect cookbook compliment to her blog How Sweet Eats. I’ve read Seriously Delish cover to cover a few times. (P.S. is that weird? I read cookbooks cover to cover. Ok, ok. Yes, that’s weird. Please reserve your judgment.)

So about that granola…

…here we go, in a recipe adapted from Jessica’s recipe in Seriously Delish.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 c old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 c slivered almonds (other nuts would work great – pecans or walnuts, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup whole flaxseed (you can do ground flaxseed too)
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, browned
  • 2 Tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c  – 1/2 c semi-sweet mini chocolate chips (sprinkle in as much extra chocolate-y ‘sweet’ as you want!)

How to Make:

This is super simple guys, you can whip it up in no time. Whether you do this the morning you plan to enjoy it for breakfast (it’s excellent with some Greek yogurt) or make it the night before.

Before you start mixing, preheat your oven to 325 and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set the cookie sheet away for now and locate a large bowl. Now to mix!

In said large bowl, combine the oats…

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…slivered almonds…

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…flaxseed (and I went with whole flax seeds to add some extra texture and crunch, but you can use ground flaxseed if you prefer too)…

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…brown sugar…

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…cinnamon…

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…sprinkling of salt…

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…then stir that all together and set aside. On to the liquids!

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The liquids will all get poured into a saucepan over low heat. Start with the honey…

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…then the coconut oil…

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…and then vanilla.

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Before adding in the butter, you want to brown this up. In a separate small saucepan, melt down the butter over medium/low heat, whisking continually until wonderful brown flecks appear on the bottom of the pan.

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Once it’s at that point, remove from heat and pour it in with the rest of the liquids.

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This liquid concoction smells like HEAVEN right now. Take a moment to take a deep breath in and savor that.

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Sigh.

Ok, now all that’s left is to mix up those liquids in with the dry ingredients. Use a spatula to mix everything and ensure all of the dry ingredients are coated.

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Spread this out on the parchment paper and pop it in the oven. Bake for 3o minutes, stopping to stir at the 10 min, 20 min and 25 min marks. Stir again at the end when you pull it out. The granola should be golden brown and have succeeded in filling your kitchen with delicious smells. (See the pics below to see how this darkens over the cooking time.)

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But wait! As you recall, we have one last ingredient to add in…mini chocolate chip time.

Let the granola cool for a bit before sprinkling the chocolate over the top. To cool, I used the parchment paper to lift the granola out of the pan and set the parchment paper on the counter. Once the granola has cooled for about 15 minutes, I sprinkled the mini chocolate chips throughout the granola and let the chocolate melt a bit (as the granola is still warm). But, I let the granola cool for an hour or two with the chocolate chips.

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I just scooped this it into Tupperware to store. It’s been delicious on ice cream for a sweet and crunchy dessert or mixed with Greek yogurt for a fancy (but easy) breakfast. It’s also great all by itself for a snack.

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Hope you guys give this a try, let me know what you think! And definitely encourage you to get creative and add any other little tidbits to the granola (ideas: spices [nutmeg], nuts [pecans or walnuts], dried fruit, etc.).

To print off this recipe for easy reference in the future, click here

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Baked Oatmeal

2 Nov

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This baked oatmeal is the perfect, cozy breakfast on a chilly day and the sweetness of the raspberries is a wonderful compliment to the warm, cinnamon-y oatmeal (apparently I’m on an unintentional raspberry kick). However, lots of other fruits can easily be used instead – I would love to try fresh peaches the next time they’re in season! And I’ve used blueberries for this as well and it was just as tasty. We may try apple next, as we have a plethora of apples from a recent apple orchard visit. 

Now, before we dive into the ins and outs of making yourself baked oatmeal, I first have to say that before this attempt, I had never had baked oatmeal and didn’t really know what about oatmeal would even require baking. I grew up with the delicious Quaker Oat instant packets that required a few minutes in the microwave and “ta da”, oatmeal! I associated oatmeal with – “instant”. Effective marketing, Quaker Oats.

So, when I opened my Seriously Delish cookbook (from one of my absolute favorite bloggers, Jessica, over at How Sweet Eats) and I saw this recipe, I knew it was moving up to the front of the recipe queue. For starters, Jessica talks about HER love of Quaker Oak instant oatmeal! Ha! A kindred spirit! And the recipe looked like one that would be the perfect recipe for a fall day and well, tis the season. I was sold.

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This does take a little planning, but I promise you that it’s not a difficult breakfast to whip up for you, you and a roommate/spouse or even for a big group! I made this the first time for my husband and I and then proceeded to make it again a week later for Luke’s family. For the second attempt I used steel-cut oats and blueberries and the twist resulted in just as delicious oatmeal but with a bit more texture.

Enough about the ‘why’ of baked oatmeal, let’s get to the ‘how’!

I made a few tweaks to the original recipe that Jessica provides in her cookbook and I can’t wait to continue to experiment with this in the future. Possibilities are endless!

Ingredients:

For the oatmeal:

  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats (I’ve also done this with steel-cut oats and it’s super tasty, but has more texture than the normal oats route, so just know that in advance. But I definitely encourage you guys to try this too! If you’re like us, you’ll just go with what you have in the cupboard.)
  • 1/2 cup loose packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup chunky applesauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup fresh raspberries

For the topping:

  • 2 Tbsp browned butter
  • 1-2 Tbsp coconut milk
  • 2-3 Tbsp slivered almonds

How to Make:

If you’re anything like Luke and I, before you start making this breakfast you’re going to pour yourself a big, steaming cup of coffee. It’s the best way to make this recipe, I promise. While you’re sipping that java, preheat your oven to 350.

Grab a small baking dish or small casserole dish and spray it with Pam or whatever cooking spray you have in the cupboard. Set that aside for now.

Locate a large bowl and now begins the mixing and assembling of ingredients. First in are the oats, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Whisk it all together.

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Now, in a separate medium-sized bowl, whisk the coconut milk, applesauce, melted butter, egg and vanilla together.

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Pour the melted butter into the wet ingredients and then pour the fully mixed wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.

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Get all that?

Not too hard, right?

Last thing to do is grab your fruit of choice (we did raspberries, but as noted above, have also done blueberries and had this turn out just as delicious). Give the fruit a good rinse, chop them up if needed (like if using peaches, for instance) and then through ’em in with everything else.

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Pour the oatmeal into a baking dish…

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…and bake this for 25 minutes or so, or until the top is turning golden. However, while this is baking, you have a second task!

Browned butter. What the heck is that?! It’s glorious. That’s all you need to know. And you’re about to have some on your oatmeal.

In truth, it’s just normal butter that’s been cooked up to just enough of a temperature that these wonderful brown bits form in the bottom of the pan start to meld with the melted butter and this new toffee scent from the butter is wafting into your nostrils.

I learned how to make browned butter from Jessica’s instructions in Simply Delish and it is pretty damn simple. You heat the butter over medium-low heat (I go lower so I don’t accidentally burn it) and you whisk and whisk and whisk until the previously mentioned little brown bits start to appear in the bottom of the pan. Once you see those, you’re golden! (Haha, pun fully intended). Remove this from the heat and keep giving it a few more stirs and then, it’s ready to use!

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I made only the 2 tbsp that were needed for the oatmeal, but you can always make a bit batch and store it for use down the road!

Once the baked oatmeal is done, pull it out and drizzle the browned butter over the top, drizzle the bit of the coconut milk too and then throw on the slivered almonds.

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This is sooooo yummy and it will be a wonderful breakfast. It’s got all these great flavors with the coconut milk mixed with the caramel-y browned butter, crunchy and nutty almonds, tartness from the fruit and that classic oat flavor that is at the base of why we all love oatmeal. Such a simple dish when you think about it, oats and liquid, but this recipe kicks it up a notch and in the best way.

We ate ours with a fantastic Spicy Maple Sausage that my husband whipped up. I can’t wait to share his recipe with you all in a future post!

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Hope you guys enjoy this as much as we did!

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Raspberry Scones

19 Oct

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I was always a bit hesitant about scones. They seemed like muffins’ dry and boring cousin. But that was until I met Luke, a man obsessed with scones. So I actually began ordering scones in restaurants and cafes and found that when done right, they can be AMAZING! My favorites were ones where there was fruit involved, blueberries or strawberries. And I figured, that it couldn’t be too hard to try to make some…

You know how when you get a new cookbook, there are just some recipes that jump out at you and you KNOW you have to try it?! Regardless of the time or the steps, sometimes the picture or the name of a recipe jumps out of the cookbook to me. I know which recipes these were for each of the dozen cookbooks I own (an example, Chipotle and Rosemary Roasted Nuts from Barefoot Contessa’s How Easy is That? cookbook). One of these such experiences was with The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (another fairly new favorite cookbook of mine, from the blog Smitten Kitchen) and her recipe for Whole-Wheat Raspberry Ricotta Scones.

I now had the perfect reason to make scones: I finally came to the conclusion these could be delicious, I could feed my husband a good portion of them (and earn some brownie points, perhaps) AND I had a great recipe to start from.

I made these the first time last Christmas, following the recipe to a ‘T’ from the cookbook. I loved them and thought they turned out incredibly moist and delicious. However, I wanted to make them again and put my own spin on them. Particularly, I wanted to experiment with using something instead of ricotta, as I don’t normally have that just ‘hanging out’ in my fridge.

So, this is my own spin on the recipe from Deb’s cookbook. I think the original recipe is great and highly encourage you guys to pick up her cookbook, flip to page 15 and give it a go. You can also try my twist on it below and see what you think!

I didn’t have whole-wheat flour on hand and used cottage cheese instead of ricotta, so the texture and taste of mine is slightly different. I personally loved the twist and will continue to make them this way in the future, especially as it means I likely could decide to make these and have everything I need on hand and not require any grocery store trips. However, making them with the original recipe gives more texture and makes them a bit thicker, due to the ricotta mixture. So it’s up to you!

Ready for scone-making? Here we go…

Ingredients:

  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 Tbsp cold unsalted butter
  • 1 c. fresh raspberries (or insert in another fruit you want to use, blueberries or strawberries could be great!)
  • 3/4 c. skim milk cottage cheese
  • 1/3 c. heavy cream

How to Make:

First things first, preheat your oven (which I always seem to forget to do) to 425. Next, prep your baking sheet by lining it with a big sheet of parchment paper. My parchment paper loves to just roll itself back up in a ball so I set a drinking glass on each end to help keep it in place. Genius move, I know.

Next up: dry ingredients. Measure out the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt and whisk it all up together in a medium-sized bowl.

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Now, butter time. Grab your butter directly from the fridge when you’re ready for this step. Chop it up into little cubes and then drop those directly into your bowl of dry ingredients. As I lacked a pastry blender, I went with the finger-mixing method. Gently work the butter into the dry ingredients until the large butter pieces start to become little pea-size guys. The butter should be mixed in enough that the dry ingredients just look a bit more like a sandy mixture, kind of with a breadcrumb consistency.

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With whichever fruit you decided to use, throw it on a cutting board and chop it up a bit. Strawberries you’d want to definitely chop down into smaller pieces but blueberries and raspberries can just get a quick rough chop and be all set. Once you’re done chopping, throw the fruit into the dry ingredients.

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Last, but certainly not least, measure out and throw in the cottage cheese and the heavy cream. Stir everything together gently, ensuring all the dry ingredients are exposed to the wet ingredients, soaking up all the dairy goodness.

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Once it all starts to come together and look like dough, pour out the batter on to a floured surface (cutting boards work well for this). Get your hands good and floured up too, as this is a sticky dough and it loves to hang out on your hands. Add some flour to the top of the dough and work it into a square that’s about an inch high. Now, cut the square into 9 smaller squares and transfer each square to your parchment-lined baking sheet.

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Bake ’em for 15 minutes or until the tops are just starting to golden up.

Sigh, they look and smell SO tasty, right?! Cool them for a few minutes in the pan, then move them to a wire cooling rack to fully cool.

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These are SUPER good when they’re still warm but they keep well in a Ziploc for a few days too. We loved having them on the counter to allow both of us to grab a quick breakfast on-the-go. They were also great for a snack or a little dessert at the end of the day. To be perfectly honest, they don’t last long on our counter as we both gobble them up pretty quick. I don’t even feel guilty about that, they’re so tasty and wonderful that we just can’t help ourselves.

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These got a big thumbs up from my husband, the scone-lover and I think you guys will REALLY love them too.

Highly encourage you guys to try these out and leave me a comment about how they go!

New York Breakfast Casserole

12 Jan

Happy 2014! With the New Year starting, felt it would be a great time to get back into the blog. There hasn’t been a shortage of cooking/baking/crafting…there has only been a shortage of gumption to write another post. Shameful, I realize. But here I am, giving this a go with the full intention of keeping post-writing gumption intact. If I don’t post again until 2015, please don’t be furious. But feel free to give me the crap I deserve (a LOT).

So, the blog resurrection of 2014 is starting off with one of my new favorite breakfast recipes. The need for discovering a new breakfast recipe came about as Luke and I were hosting some good friends overnight at the end of December. Ideally we wanted to make a breakfast that we could prep the day before (so we could be sleepy and lazy in the morning with our friends and not have to be up at the crack of dawn) AND that would be fairly easy. We were making quite a bit of food for the weekend (including this Steakhouse Pizza and TBM Salad) and easy to make / prep in advance were our two key factors.

Luke and I are both big bagel fans, Everything bagels to be exact. How can you not love the flavorful goodness of an Everything bagel?! And Luke is a BIG breakfast person to begin with…so we were trying to think of something epic to make for breakfast and when we found this recipe in my Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, well, we were smitten. Breakfast casserole with Everything bagels?!? Done!

We prepped it the night before, baked it in the morning,and four of us just about devoured the whole pan in one sitting. Luke and I were so excited about this recipe that we made it AGAIN only a few days later, for Luke’s family. It’s been getting rave reviews from all who’ve eaten it so I thought it was the perfect thing to blog about for you all.

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We added some of our own twists to the recipe to make this our own, but I can’t take credit for the original wonderful creation that Deb over on the Smitten Kitchen blog and author of the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook crafted up. I highly encourage you to give this a whirl!

Ingredients (Serves 8-10…OR…4-5 very hungry people):

  • 8 cups (or so) of Everything or Sesame bagels, chopped into bite-size chunks (you can do a bit more than 8 cups if you’re using dense bagels…you just want enough to fill a 9×13 pan)
  • 8 oz. of cream cheese (you could go with a light cream cheese here if you want to make this a bit healthier)
  • 1/4 medium red onion, sliced in a half-moon shape
  •  1 pint of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 1/3 cups of milk (healthier version) or half and half (the not so healthy but delectable version)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic (we used a jar of pre-chopped garlic but about 2-3 cloves would work too)
  • 4-6 slices of bacon, torn into bite-size chunks
  • Ground pepper to taste

How to Make:

This recipe is really very easy to make and definitely goes fast with a co-chef in the kitchen or even a little helper if you have any of those at home who’d like to help!

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First, you’ll need to prep all of the ingredients: chop/tear your bagels…

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…halve your tomatoes…

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…slice your red onion…

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…measure out your garlic (which you can see we did after our other prep…but you should just do it now to save time)…

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…and fry up/microwave your bacon. We went the microwave route to save some time and grease splatter and DEFINITELY went with the 6 pieces of bacon. We are bacon-loving people. However…if you’re not into bacon you could always leave this out. This was one of our additions to the recipe that wasn’t in the original.

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Also, bring your cream cheese out of the fridge for it to soften as working with it later will be a bit easier. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees if you plan to make this right away.

Now it’s time to start to layer your casserole.

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You’re going to be creating three layers, so will need to divide your ingredients into approximate thirds. Lay about 1/3 of your bagel chunks in a large 9×13 pan. Scatter 1/3 of the halved tomatoes and sliced red onions on top. Sprinkle about 1/3 of your chopped garlic all over. Then, tear 1/3 of the cream cheese off and break it into small dollops. Place said dollops throughout the pan, doting the bagels evenly. Finally, throw 1-2 slices of bacon (which is torn into bite size pieces) on top, scattered evenly throughout the pan. When you’ve finished this part, you’re going to start back at the beginning with the bagel pieces and complete the layering two more times. Not too tough, right?

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Once your 3 layers are complete, whisk together in a medium-sized bowl the 8 eggs…

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…the milk or half and half…

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…and the salt and pepper. You’ll want to add as much pepper as you think needed to give your full casserole enough taste. As the Everything bagels are already seasoned, we didn’t go too crazy. But if you’re into lots of pepper, then pepper away. It is YOUR casserole after all!

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Once your egg mixture is all whisked, pour it over the entire casserole ensuring you get the egg in all of the crevices.

Done pouring? Excellent. Getting excited to bite into this later?! We sure were.

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Pop this guy in the fridge overnight if you’re prepping in advance (we covered it with aluminum foil overnight). If not, then pop this guy into your 350 degree oven for an hour to hour and 15 minutes. Ours was always done at the hour mark but your oven may take a bit longer. No need to cover this while baking.

You’ll know it’s ready when the top of the bagels starts to turn a little brown. And be prepared for a VERY pretty casserole. It’s definitely one of those times you’ll take a picture and want to share because it just looks so darn amazing. Those tomatoes and onions just add the right pop of color, I think. To double-check it’s ready to come out, insert a knife it the middle and check to see that if the knife is rotated a bit, no liquid comes out…meaning eggs are set).

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Now, this will smell so good that a bit of drool may start to go down you chin. But WAIT! Let the casserole set for about 10 minutes after you take it out of the oven. That will ensure ALL of the egg is fully set.

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Use a big spatula to slice this up – big squares work well. You will be amazed at how delicious this is, I promise.

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Dang, I sure wish I had some of this right now. My stomach has started to growl remembering how GOOD this was. The cream cheese and the egg, mixed with the warm pop of tomatoes and the chewy, flavorful bagels…wow. Um, I’m hungry.

I hope you and whomever you serve this to find it as delectable as we did and mark it as a favorite to make for many breakfasts to come!

Enjoy!

Chocolate Muffins (with a Healthy Spin)

4 Aug

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A few facts to preface this post. Fact #1: I thoroughly enjoy chocolate. Fact #2: I thoroughly enjoy muffins, cakes, cookies etc. However, maybe like some of you, Fact #3, my metabolism no longer allows me to consume these items as much as I’d like without some consequences. Which…is unfortunate.

Thus – I was on Pinterest one day trying to find some healthier (note not healthy…health-IER) recipes and found this little gem. There’s no flour involved – there’s applesauce and plain greek yogurt that help to keep the muffins together AND keep them moist. I was intrigued enough to give these a try.

Also, Fact #4 – my boyfriend Luke has quite an affinity for baked goods that come from my kitchen. So like most treats I make, the plan was to make a big batch, have a few myself and then feed the rest to Luke. Muah hahaha.

(He has yet to complain so I think it’s a win-win situation for both of us.)

Thus, another episode of Thursday evening baking happened this last week and the resulting muffins were quite delicious. I highly recommend!

I will say I changed up the recipe a bit because of the ingredients I had available. I’ve linked to the recipe I based these off of (and the blog post about that recipe links to the original recipe too) above for those who want to try the full-on healthier version or you can follow what I used below. I trust both will work out nicely for you. And regardless, you end up with chocolate muffins. 🙂

Recipe makes about 24 small muffins or 12 larger muffins.

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cup of oats
  • 3 egg whites
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder (the recipe calls for unsweetened cocoa but I had cocoa powder on hand so that’s what I used)
  • 1/2 cup applesauce (the recipe calls for unsweetened but I used normal applesauce and they still turned out wonderfully)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar (or 1-1/2 Tbsp. vinegar)
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 cup sugar (the recipe calls for a healthy substitute like I cup of Splenda granular OR 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp stevia but I had none of these options so plain white sugar it was for me)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (or whatever other type of chips you’d like!) and an extra 1/4 cup for the muffin tops

How to Make:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grab a blender (or a food processor) as you’ll need no mixer or beaters to clean in this recipe. I know, I know…I was puzzled by this too. But trust me – it works!

Now – if you want smaller muffins for a crowd, this makes 24 muffins (thus you’ll need 2 muffin pans). If you want larger muffins for a smaller crew (1 pan) this makes 12 muffins. I did line my muffin tins but this recipe has a tendency to stick a bit. If you’d these to appear aesthetically pleasing with wrappers off (for any reason) you may want to simply spray the pans with a little Pam. Otherwise, I’m sure those you feed these to will not mind a bit licking of crumbs from the wrapper. I doubt they’ll mind.

Now prepare for this next part…you’re going to mix…

…everything. Ok, not the chocolate chips quite yet, but everything else goes right into the blender.

Yup, you read that right. Everything. Into. The. Blender.

Here we go…

In go the oats…
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…then the egg whites…

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…and applesauce…(note my oat measuring was exceptionally neat and tidy)

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…and then the cocoa (I wasn’t worried that mine was a bit clumpy as the blender would be blending it all together anyway)…

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…and vanilla…

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…and the plain Greek yogurt…

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…and the cream of tartar…and baking powder…and baking soda…

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…and the salt (which I plain forgot to take a photo of, but believe me when I say…it’s in there!)…

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…and the cup of hot water (which causes this fun, little effect)…

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…and then finally, the sugar or your sugar substitute.

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Now blend that concoction until the mixture is smooth (not chunky on the bottom but the same consistency all the way through). I was a bit concerned as the batter seemed to be a bit thin at first. But keep blending until the oats, applesauce and yogurt are consistently blended and that will really help to thicken it up. Trust me!

Now pour into a medium-sized bowl and stir in the 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips.

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Then, time to pour into the pans. (I was a wee bit messy at this part so if you have the same problem, just dab the batter spots off the pan with a paper towel. No biggie!)

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Now the muffins get baked for 10 minutes. Then, pull them out…

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…and drop a few of the chips on the top of each muffin. Add as many as you’d like! Most of mine had about 3-6 chips as dark chocolate chips are bit bigger than the normal chocolate chip.

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Now pop these guys back into the oven for an additional 3-6 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. (I had to pop mine back in for about 8 additional minutes as they were still wet when I tested with a toothpick at 6 minutes. So watch these carefully and don’t worry if they take more than 3-6 minutes. It shouldn’t be TOO much more oven time.)

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Once the toothpick comes out clean from a the center of a few muffins, let them cool for a few minutes in the pan. Then place the muffins on a cooling rack or a cutting board to cool completely.

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I will share – these are delicious eaten while they’re still warm for the obvious melty-chocolate reason. But they’re also delectable eaten once fully cooled. I let them sit out to cool for a few hours and then kept them stored in Tupperware, separated into layers with some assistance from parchment paper.

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Feed these to your family, your friends, your significant other or spouse or maybe yourself for a snack. (I had a few snacks the night I made these…couldn’t…help…myself.) They’ll disappear REAL fast…

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Give these a try and let me know if they turn out as delicious for you as they did for me!

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Happy baking!

Yogurt Popsicles

27 Aug

Popsicles.

Let me tell you, popsicles are sometimes the perfect treat. When you crave something sweet, but not overly so. When you want something cold but are perhaps feeling too lazy (not sure that’s actually possible) to scoop ice cream/frozen yogurt. You want to feel like it’s summer at all times of the year. The list can go on and on.

Back-story: I was shopping at one of my favorite kitchen-y stores (Kitchen Window in Uptown…check it out…it will change your life…and your wallet’s size) shopping for a gift for a friend of mine. As I was perusing the aisles, these popsicle molds jumped into my hands. I swear it.

I came home, all excited about my popsicle molds and then realized…I had no popsicle ‘recipe’ in mind to make. This lasted a few weeks until I found this on pinterest. Success! Unfortunately our fridge/freezer took this particular day to stop working properly. The first round of popsicles never froze and I was stuck using a spoon to eat my semi-cold yogurt concoction. Recommendation – use a freezer that works. Who would have thought, right? I was determined to give them another try though and I can vouch that with a properly cold environment, you’ll have yourself some legitimate and tasty popsicles.

Here we go – three ingredients and some cold temperatures will result in a delicious treat you could legitimately eat for breakfast, a snack OR dessert. (Plus it’s fairly healthy!)Seriously, such a genius idea – thanks to Joylicious for this great recipe!

Ingredients (makes 6-8):

  • 12-16 oz. Greek yogurt, plain or vanilla ( I used a little less than 16 oz. to fill my 6 molds, but you may need more or less depending on the size/amount of your molds)
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 1 cup mixed berries (Fresh or frozen)

Other items you need:

  • Popsicle molds (Hopefully there still available in stores! I would imagine Target, Costco or even Walgreens would have these.)

How to Make:

This is super simple – so it would be a great one to do if you have small people running around. Seeing the popsicles go into the freezer as liquid and come out as wonderfully solid deliciousness would be a fun experience for any kid. Or if you’re 23. Or 49. There’s no age limit on the glory of popsicles.

Mix together your yogurt and honey…

 

…then gently fold in the berries and ensure they’re not stuck together if you choose the frozen route.

Grab your popsicle molds and pour in your mixture. Some of my bigger berries were easier to push into the mold after I filled it up with the yogurt/honey mixture.

Once all the molds are full, wipe off any excess drips from overflowing, put the tops/bottoms (…is it the top? Or the bottom? Riddle me that.) and put these babies into the freezer. Give them about 3-4 hours, or have them in there overnight.

Aren’t they cute all locked together?

When you take the popsicles out of the molds, be gentle! You may have to warm up the mold a bit with your hands and twist a little with the handle, but it should come out pretty easily.

And look at how pretty this is.

Dig in and enjoy!

Thin Mint Protein Smoothie

29 Jun

Ok, so you know my feelings about mint and chocolate. I’m for their union. All the time. Even in healthy recipes.

This lovely concoction is brought to you today by a wonderful blog I found recently – Rabbit Food For My Bunny Teeth. I posted about it in my Top Five post…in the 2) category. This blog is full of inspiration to eat and just ‘be’ a healthy person. One of my favorites to read everyday.

And yes, I know I just posted a not-so-healthy cookie recipe (though it did include bff’s mint and chocolate), but I actually embrace eating food that’s good for me. You may not believe me. That’s ok. Sometimes I don’t believe me either. Then I eat a cookie.

Back to the smoothie…

This is a great way to jump-start your morning. I didn’t have any coffee today (a rarity) and I was still awake and energized throughout the day. It also is surprisingly sweet (it does taste similar to a Thin Mint!) and extremely filling. All around a win-win.

I didn’t change any part of Catherine’s recipe, so the ingredients list is fully hers. I simply wanted to share it here for you all to also enjoy.

Ingredients:

Smoothie:

  • 1 cup almond milk (never thought I’d be the person buying this…yesterday I was that person)
  • 1 cup frozen spinach (you can also use 2 cups of fresh spinach according to Catherine’s recipe)
  • 1/4 rolled oats
  • 1/8 tsp peppermint extract
  • 2 scoops chocolate protein powder (I used Biggest Loser’s brand, but I think this can be substituted with whatever brand you prefer)

Garnish:

  • 1 Tbsp walnuts
  • 1 Tbsp dark chocolate chips

How to Make:

You can whip this up in about 3 minutes, depending on how close together you store all of the ingredients in your kitchen. I took 5.7 minutes as I had to search for my walnuts in the hall closet. Don’t ask me why I put them there.

First grab your blender and as Catherine recommends for those blenders that are a big challenged (like mine), blend up the milk and frozen spinach first.

Then I dumped in the protein powder…

…and the oats…

and the peppermint extract (the one item that doesn’t really photograph well). Then push the button that says ‘blend’. I let mine go until everything looked fairly smooth, about 23 seconds. Not 22.

Measure out your two ‘garnish’ items and delicately place them on top. They will eventually sink so if you feel the need to photograph your food (who does that?) ensure you have your camera ready to snap a photo of your beautiful beverage.

Dig in with a spoon or sip – either way I think you’ll be surprised how delicious this is and how full you are when you’re finished. At least I was!

Thanks RFFMBT for a great recipe! Now go check out Catherine’s blog for more delicious, healthy recipes!

To print off the recipe for easy reference in the future, click here

Thin Mint Protein Smoothie_Recipe Card

Lox Bagels

3 Apr

Need a good way to start the morning? Need a little zip when you begin your day? Do you enjoy delicious food to get you out of bed in the morning? I sure hope you would say yes to ALL three of those (because I sure do)!! I have a simple, delectable, wondrous, magical…ok, lots and lots of good adjectives…recipe/assembling order for you.

Lox bagels baby! These can be made in a variety of ways and this just happens to be how I prefer it. But as I say in many posts, experiment and make your own concoction!

First, I highly recommend finding some Everything (also known as Kitchen Sink) bagels. They have a such a great mix of flavor, which I think is one of the best parts of this meal. I found some great bagels at Whole Foods that are from the St. Paul Bagelry. For anyone in the area – encourage you to give these a try!

Slice up the bagel and pop ’em into a toaster. I like mine toasted, though you may decide untoasted is your thing. Either way, these bagels will be tasty. You can’t go wrong!

Grab a white onion and slice a few rings off.

Find some tasty looking tomatoes. Only tasty looking tomatoes will do. Chose wisely.

Cut a few slices…one or two for each bagel.

Set your sliced veggies aside and grab some cream cheese. I think this concoction works best with plain cream cheese, but you could always use a vegetable cream cheese, chive cream cheese – anything with a little zip would probably work well. I really like to let the Everything bagel be my main flavor, which is why I go with plain.

Spread it on your bagel and then grab your lox. I didn’t have a great reason for why I picked the brand I did, but it looked like it would be good, so into my basket at Whole Foods it went.

Slice it into pieces that will fit well onto the bagel. I had about 3-4 pieces layered on each bagel half. It didn’t quite use up the whole salmon slab, so I have a bit leftover to use for another bagel.

Now it’s time to layer! On top of the cream cheese slathered bagel halves, lay your lox pieces…then the tomato… and finally the onion…and TA-DA! Lox bagels baby!

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