Thursday, May 30, 2013

strawberries & cream oatmeal

I made this delicious Strawberries and Cream Oatmeal for breakfast this morning and the whole family loved it! I usually put strawberries on top of my oatmeal, but cooking them with the oats gave the whole bowl a sweet berry flavor. The greek yogurt gave it a rich and creamy texture and despite the fact that my hunger was satisfied, I was left wanting more. 

1 cup water
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup fresh strawberries, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp agave nectar
2-3 Tbs plain Greek yogurt

Bring the water to a boil over high heat in a small saucepan. Add the oats, strawberries, and vanilla, and reduce the heat to medium, cooking for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour the oatmeal into a bowl. Mix the agave and 1-2 Tbs of greek yogurt in with the oats. Stir until combined. Add an additional dollop on top if desired.  

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Quinoa, Kale and Berry Salad

After an amazing weekend at one of my best friends wedding and visiting family, I wasn't feeling the best about myself when returning to Denver. Don't get me wrong, I don't regret a second of it (ok maybe the Culver's Butter Burger), but I was craving something fresh and protein packed.  I combined a couple of recipes and came up with exactly what I was looking for. This salad is filling, delicious and a new favorite.

Serves 4

4 cups chopped Kale
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
3/4 cup diced strawberries
1/2 cup blueberries
1/4-1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Zest from one lime
Juice from one lime
1 Tablespoon Agave Nectar

1. Cook Quinoa as directed. Place Kale at the bottom of a large bowl. Add quinoa, avocado, strawberries, blueberries, pecans and goat cheese.

2. To make dressing, combine ingredients and whisk together. Pour over top of the salad and toss gently. Serve immediately.

Key Lime and Coconut Rice Krispie Treats

It was a damp and cool memorial day weekend here in Wi.  The neighborhood pool opened, but we neglected to tell our girls, because neither one of us wanted to get in the water with the 50 degree temps.  In fact, I do not think the pool will "open" until it is at least 80 degrees!  Despite the weather, I was in a summery mood, which influenced our holiday dessert choice.  I had seen a recipe similar to this one for Lemon Rice Krispie Treats and thought I could try it with the Key Lime Cake Mix that Pillsbury just released as a new summer flavor.

I added shaved, unsweetened coconut and some key lime juice and the treats had a wonderful tropical key-limey taste :)

5 tbs. butter
1 1/2 tsp key lime juice
1 bag of marshmallows
3/4 cup Pillsbury Key Lime Cake Mix cup Duncan Hines Lemon Supreme cake mix
6 cups Rice Krispies

Spray a 8×8 inch with non-stick cooking spray. 
In a microwave safe bowl, heat butter and marshmallows for 1 minute in the microwave.  Stir and microwave for another 30 seconds, or until butter/mallow mixture is smooth.  Add key lime juice and slowly stir in the dry cake mix and coconut. Once combined add in cereal 1 cup at a time.  Using a spatula press mixture into greased pan. Cool on the countertop for approximately 30 minutes.

(I have a pic of the cookie mix bc I threw away my cake box!)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Strawberry & Rhubarb Crumble Pie

U rah rah for Rhubarb!   I ran a half marathon today and baking/eating this delicious dessert was an essential part of my training.  It gave me speed, endurance and it even erased my wrinkles :)  In all seriousness, I did eat 3/4 of this pie and I did have my best time ever.  You can decide if the two events are related.  This recipe is adapted from my Grandma's Church Cookbook "Our Favorite Recipes - The St. John's Cookbook" - (First edition was in 1949!).   

1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup sugar
1/2  cup melted butter

Fruit Filling
2 cups diced rhubarb
11/2 cups strawberries, quartered
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Sift flour and salt together in a large bowl.  Add, oats, sugar and melted butter and blend together until crumbly.  Press one half of the crumbly mixture into the bottom of a 9 inch pie pan.  Save the rest for the top of the pie.

Mix fruit, sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl.  Pour fruit mixture onto the crust. Dot with 1 tsp butter and spread the remaining topping over the fruit filing.

Bake the pie at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.  Serve warm or cold with ice cream or whipped cream.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Spicy Oven-Roasted Chickpeas

Snacking, I love to do it.  I try to make good choices, but inevitably, I end up eating the kids' pirates booty, which does nothing good for mine.
I think the key to healthy snacking is having variety of options so you do not get tempted to splurge. A friend of mine told me about how she had been roasting chickpeas and taking them in the car, for a quick, crunchy snack.  I tried this recipe, and loved the spicy kick (you can play around with the spices, to please your palate).  Try them on top of a salad, in quinoa or on their own.

2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, thoroughly drained, rinsed and dried (about 3 cups)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and toss with the remaining ingredients until evenly coated. Spread the chickpeas in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes, shaking them and rotating the pan every 10 minutes (I found it very important to shake/rotate the pan to ensure that the chickpeas are crisp and crunchy).  Once cool, store in a resealable bag at room temperature for up to a 3 days (Mine lasted only a few minutes - and let me tell you, my body was not ready for 2 cans of pure fiber).


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Rhubarb & Banana Muffins - Healthy

I have a little obsession with rhubarb. Weird, I know. Not sure why I love it so much, but I think it is because it reminds me of my Grandma and all of the yummy things that she makes with it.
So, every Sat at the Farmers' Market, I buy way more than I could ever use in a week, and I end up freezing at least half of it.

This recipe can be made using frozen or fresh rhubarb and it has been adapted from a cooking light bread recipe, so you can feel good about that! The addition of flaxseed into the recipe gives you some extra protein, fiber and antioxidants. The muffins turned out super moist and the sweetness of the banana offsets the tart & tangy rhubarb.

Recipe (Yields about 16 muffins)
1 1/2 cups flour (use whole wheat for an even healthier muffin)
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 mashed bananas
1/2 cup greek yogurt
5 Tbs melted butter
2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb

Spray muffin pans with non-stick cooking spray or use liners. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In one bowl, beat the bananas, yogurt, butter and eggs with an electric mixer. Add the sugar and beat again. In another bowl, stir together the flour, flaxseed, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients.

Stir briefly until moistened and then fold in the rhubarb pieces. Pour the batter into the muffin pans and bake for 25-30 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out clean) at 350 degrees.


Monday, May 20, 2013

chicken and bacon wrap-ups

One of my all time favorite meals that I always looked forward to when coming home from college was my mother's Chicken Wrap-Ups.  Little did I know how simple they are to make.  I have made them for just Chris and myself, but have also made them for up to eight or nine people. They are delicious and always a crowd pleaser!

Every time I make these they are slightly different. Sometimes I use non-fat cream cheese, reduced-fat cream cheese, cream cheese with chives, etc. The non-fat cream cheese is a great low-fat option, but does not have quiet as much flavor as reduced fat, so I tend to use the reduced fat. You can also experiment with mixing different flavors like basil, oregano, cumin etc. However the recipe below is my all time favorite and is a must try.

Ingredients for two:
2 chicken breasts
3-4 oz cream cheese (reduced fat with chives)
Sun-dried tomatoes
4 slices of bacon

Start by using a meat mallet to pound out chicken to an even thickness throughout (approximately 1/4-1/2 inch).  Salt and pepper both sides.  In a small bowl mix together cream cheese, diced sun-dried tomatoes and chopped basil.

Spread half of cheese mixture on to the center of one side of the chicken breast. Roll chicken breast to conceal cream cheese. Wrap bacon around the chicken breast in two different directions, securing with tooth picks.  Repeat with other chicken breast.  Place on a broiler pan.
Broil the chicken breast to crisp the bacon for 5-10 minutes. Flip breast and broil for another 5 minutes. Once bacon is crisped, cook chicken wraps at 400 degrees for another 20-25 minutes.

Take out of oven and let slightly cool. Make sure to remove the toothpicks prior to serving.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Desserts from Claudia's 60th

My Mom turned 60 last weekend.  We had a great time celebrating with family and friends and the birthday girl was as fabulous as ever.  The family all pitched in and everything really came together - maybe we should start a family party planning business?!  Um, no.

My mom has been receiving requests for the dessert recipes that were at the party so here they are!

1. Chocolate Chip Cookies - Always delicious - but make sure to plan ahead, because you need to refrigerate the dough for at least 24 hours.

2. Red Velvet Cake Pops

I got the flags from postscrips on Etsy.  They turned out super cute!

3. Almond Poppyseed Cupcakes - I cheated.... I totally cheated.  I was running out of time and my toddler helpers went on strike, so I cheated.  I bought vanilla cake mix, added in about 2 tablespoons of Almond Extract and 1/2 cup of poppyseeds.  Don't judge me.
If you really wanted to, you could make the almond poppyseed muffins that I made here, and top them off with frosting.

The buttercream frosting was my favorite part and I did not cheat on that.  I used our favorite buttercream recipe and added almond extract instead of the vanilla.  I think I even added an extra tsp to make it even more almondy.

Cheers to another 60 mom!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Kale and Avocado Salad

Alright, enough with the desserts. Swim suit (used to be bikini, now it's tankini and next year it might just be called cover-up) season is rapidly approaching and I need to stop baking things with the words "butter" & "cream" in them (at least for today)!  

This Kale & Avocado Salad is a breeze to make and it is extremely satisfying.  We had it last night with some salmon and Dan kept thanking me for such a nice dinner......ha.

I found the recipe on Siriously Delicious , which is a hilarious food blog that my cousin got me hooked on.  If you do not follow her, you should!  
Anyway, here is the recipe. Hopefully someone thanks you for making it too! 

Kale and Avocado Salad
(Serves 4-6)
1 head kale, finely chopped
1 large avocado, diced
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 T black sesame seeds (optional)
Juice of half a lemon
Olive oil
Dash of sesame oil

Combine first 4 ingredients in bowl.  Whisk together olive oil (a few tablespoons), lemon juice and sesame oil in smaller bowl.  Add to salad and toss.  

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Yellow Cake - Birthday Cupcakes

May is crazy for our family. We have birthdays, Mother's Day, graduations - the action is non-stop. Our weekends are booked and our stomachs are full. It is truly a month of celebration and indulgence.

The moments that are not spent celebrating are spent outside in the sunny spring weather, trying to make up for the past 6 months without fresh air and vitamin D. So, when it came to making a birthday dessert for my husband, I wanted something quick, delicious and easy to bring to a family gathering.

We decided on yellow cake cupcakes, topped with our favorite buttercream frosting. I have tried a few yellow cake recipes before and they have been crumbly and a little on the dry side. I think the addition of sour cream in this recipe made all of the difference, and the cupcakes turned out light and moist.

Yellow Cupcakes: (Joy of Baking)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (cut into pieces)
1 large egg, room temperature
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream or whole plain yogurt, room temperature

Yellow Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly butter or line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat to combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter, egg, egg yolks, vanilla extract, and sour cream. Beat the wet and dry ingredients together at medium speed until the batter is smooth and satiny, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. If necessary, stir the batter with a rubber spatula until the flour is fully incorporated.

Evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter and bake for about 20 -25 minutes or until pale gold and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, top with buttercream.

Buttercream (same recipe as here)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
a pinch of salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
4-5 cups of powdered sugar, sifted
2-5 tbsp heavy whipping cream

Beat the butter and salt until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and 2 tbsp of heavy whipping cream. Sift the sugar and then add cup by cup until you have reached the desired sweetness. Beat the frosting 15-20 minutes. The amount of time you spend beating the mixture truly makes a difference in consistency and fluffiness. Add more cream as needed

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Almond Date Granola bars

As the summer is approaching, I am bracing for craziness.  Wedding showers, weddings, birthday parties, I am starting to think that every weekend is a party! When I am stressed or in a hurry I eat without thinking so I try to have healthy little snacks that I can grab on my way out of the door. I found this recipe in the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, so it is no surprise that they are delicious. After making them I usually throw them in the freezer so they keep for longer, but have found that you can usually eat them right after taking them out.  These bars are also a delicious alternative for dessert :)

1 cup chopped dried pitted dates
1 1/4 cups quick rolled oats
3 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
1/3 cup flaxseed
1/2 cup thinly sliced almonds
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line an 8x8 inch pan with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl stir together dates, oats, flour, flaxseed, almonds, salt, cinnamon together. In a separate bowl whisk together remaining ingredients until smooth.  Pour wet ingredients on top of dry ingredients and stir until ingredients are evenly coated.

3. Spread the batter in the prepared pan pressing the batter firmly to the bottom and edges of the pan until the batter is even. You can use parchment paper to protect your hands.

4. Bake bars for 25-30 minutes or until they become brown along the edges. It is better to error on the side of baking slightly longer. Cool the bars in their pan completely approximately 1 hour. Once they are cooled, using a serrated knife and cut them into desired square size. Cool for another 30 minutes. Store in an air tight container.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Spinach Muffins

My girls are pretty good eaters, but when it comes to dark, leafy greens, they do not like to eat them raw.  I saw this recipe on Weelicious, and gave it a try.  The ingredients were simple, they took no time to make and my kids gobbled them up.

Spinach + muffins + satisfied kids = sane & happy mom   

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup fresh spinach, packed
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Place the first 6 ingredients in a food processor and puree.
3. Place the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl and combine.
4. Pour the spinach puree in a large mixing bowl.
5. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet until combined.
6. Scoop batter into a greased muffin tin, filling each cup 2/3 of the way.
7. Bake for 15 minutes.

FYI - Adults like these too :)