Archive | October, 2012

Rainbow Fruit Skewers

31 Oct

Rainbow Fruit Skewers
I’m sure most of your kids are getting dressed up tonight and going out trick-or-treating to get totally sugared up. So why not make them a fun and healthy snack before the gorging begins? This isn’t really a recipe but I thought I would share it anyway since they are so cute and kid friendly. It seems like you can get a kid to eat anything if you serve it on a stick.
Rainbow Fruit Skewers

Noah is dressing as a golfer for Halloween and he is totally pumped about it. A 2 year old wanted to be a golfer you ask? Well, yes my 2 year old did. He loves going to the driving range with Joel and watched golf tournaments all summer with him. He was recently diagnosed with asthma and has to do daily breathing treatments and the only way I can get him to sit still is to put golf on. I know….he is weird. But I wouldn’t have it any other way! It’s quite the conversation starter when we have to go EVERYWHERE with his golf club and ball…the vet, doctor’s office, library, grocery store, seriously everywhere. I will have pictures for you all of my dapper little golfer soon.

Rainbow Fruit Skewers

Strawberries, cleaned and hulled
1 0r 2 orange cuties, peeled and dissected
Pineapple, peeled and sliced into bite-size chunks
2 kiwis, peeled and sliced into bite-size chunks
Blueberries
Red grapes
Greek yogurt (any flavor) for dipping
Wooden skewers

Skewer the fruit in the order listed then dip in Greek yogurt.

2 Ingredient Pumpkin Brownies

29 Oct

2 Ingredient Pumpkin Brownies
These yummy, super dense brownies consist of only two ingredients and they are healthy. Yep, you heard my right. I guess mine are technically 3 ingredients because of the sprinkles but they are optional so we’ll just stick with two. I have been lacking in the Halloween themed treats arena so I randomly bought a bunch of fun sprinkles and needed a way to use them in order to be festive and not get shunned by food bloggers across the land. It was a lazy way to make them Halloween-y but that’s all I’ve got for you.

The texture of these brownies is not typical but they taste delish so don’t be alarmed. They even look like fudge which isn’t a bad thing in my book! They are the best 2 ingredient baked good since 2 Ingredient Pumpkin Muffins!
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And make sure you have a little monster to help you clean up the utensils.

2 Ingredient Pumpkin Brownies
recipe from Cookies and Cups

1 Family Size box (19.5 oz) brownie mix
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
Sprinkles, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a 9×9 pan with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray. I only have an 8×8 (what kind of baker am I?) so mine were a little thicker and had to bake longer.

2. In a bowl mix together brownie mix and pumpkin until smooth. Top with sprinkles if desired.

3. Spread batter into pan and bake for 25-30 minutes until set. Let cool completely.

Salted Caramel Thumbprints {Christmas Tray 2012}

28 Oct

Salted Caramel Thumbprints
I know I’m starting the Christmas baking a little later this year but don’t worry, there will be lots of ideas for your Christmas cookie trays. Like these delicious gems. Joel’s very favorite Christmas cookie is the traditional jam thumbprint cookie. I have never been a big fan of them but always make them for him, they just seem like a requirement at Christmastime for our family. Last year I decided to try an updated version and they were a huge hit. So why not continue with the unique updates and fill them with caramel instead?
Salted Caramel Thumbprints
When I stumbled across this recipe, I knew it was one that I would have to try when my dad was around. He is a caramel lover and I immediately thought of him when I saw these. My mom loves shortbread and tried one before they were filled with caramel and loved them. I think I will use the cookie recipe to make shortbread cookies in the future.

Needless to say, they were absolutely amazing and we devoured them rather quickly. The dough is a bit crumbly and it’s hard to not have cracks in the cookies so they aren’t super attractive but the taste totally makes up for their bumpy, lumpy appearance.
Salted Caramel Thumbprints
Have you noticed that my photos took a turn for the worse? Yep, my external flash is not working with my umbrella at the moment so the quality of lighting has become questionable…because I still don’t know how to perfectly work that darn camera. So, sorry about that.

Salted Caramel Thumbprints
recipe from This Week for Dinner

Cookies:
1 1/2 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Caramel:
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
2 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Sea salt, for sprinkling

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. ream together the butter and sugar until they are just combined and then add the vanilla (if you have a stand mixer, use paddle attachment). In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Mix until the dough starts to come together. Dump on a floured board and roll together into a log, wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, take out the fridge and cut into 16 equal slices.

2. Roll the dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet. Hold the cookie steady with one hand and press a light indentation into the top of each with your finger. Jane note: again, the dough was pretty crumbly, even when I had them shaped into balls. I had to sort of press each cookie down and shape it into a circle, then press the indentations in. A note on the indentations – I thought the cracked edges would be pretty, but the caramel oozed out of the cracks, so try not to have too many of cracks. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until they’re just a little golden brown on the sides. Let cookies cool. While they’re cooling, make the caramel.

3. Combine the sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a medium saucepan. Do not stir. Cook over medium-high heat to a dark caramel, swirling as it begins to brown to distribute the sugar. While the sugar and water are going at it, heat up the cream in a saucepan or microwave just until warm. Take off the heat and add your room temperature butter. Whisk the butter in, being sure it’s totally combined. Add your warmed cream and whisk vigorously.

4. Spoon a teaspoon of warm caramel into the indentations of your cookies and top with sea salt. You can eat right away or let sit for 2 hours so the caramel sets.

Makes 16 cookies

Loaded Triple Chocolate Banana Muffins

26 Oct

Loaded Triple Chocolate Banana Muffins
I know these muffins have quite the name and I really should have simplified with the title “best muffins ever.” They really are that good. They were still light and moist, unlike many muffins I have made with whole wheat flour. And they are actually an updated version of the muffins I shared here (before I really experimented and had creativity with existing recipes).

I had been putting off making these muffins because I was feeling lazy and just wasn’t in the baking mood for days. But that poor child of mine went muffin-less for a whole week and he just couldn’t take it anymore. We had some super ripe bananas begging to be used and I remembered this chocolate banana muffin recipe that I had made a long time ago and knew he would love them. It’s a good thing I stalk follow so many blogs and save so many recipes because I’m pretty sure I could make a different type of muffin every week of the year.
Loaded Triple Chocolate Banana Muffins
I liked the base recipe for these but I was craving something with more flavor and texture so I made a few tweaks to fit my taste and mood. I went on a Trader Joe’s binge over Labor Day when visiting my parents so I have a huge stock of nuts that need to be used up. Every time I go in that place I go into a panic like I will never go again and proceed to feel the need to buy excessive amounts of ingredients that I have no plans for immediate use. I could add almonds to just about anything and think it was spectacular but I wasn’t sure about the sunflower seeds. They ended up putting  the muffins over the top for me. They gave them an awesome, nutty crunch that was really wonderful.

The muffins were crammed with delicious goodness in every bite and could be packed with even more depending on your taste or what’s in your pantry. Make sure to check out the additional mix-in ideas before baking them up and comment with any other yummies you add in that I didn’t dream up!
Loaded Triple Chocolate Banana Muffins
Loaded Triple Chocolate Banana Muffins
recipe adapted from Food.com

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup dutch process baking cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup mashed ripe banana
1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp. canola oil (or sub applesauce)
1 egg
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup slivered toasted almonds
1/2 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
Additional Possible Mix-Ins: raisins, craisins, pecans, toffee bits, marshmallows, quick cooking oats

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine first 7 ingredients.

2. In a small bowl, combine bananas, oil and egg.

3. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until moistened. Fold in chocolate chips, almonds and sunflower seeds.

4. Fill greased or paper lined muffin cups three fourths full.

5. Bake for 17-25 minutes or until muffins test done.

Beef and Broccoli

24 Oct

Beef and Broccoli
I love chinese food and beef and broccoli is one of my favorite dishes. If you haven’t noticed, I enjoy making chinese food at home often because it’s usually quick and easy to throw together and so much healthier. I even have a whole section of the door to my fridge dedicated to Asian condiments so that I always have the necessary ingredients on hand. But, I do have a problem with collecting condiments so I guess this shouldn’t be a big surprise.

I made this awhile ago when I still had a huge amount of green beans growing in the garden so I threw in a big handful of those in with the broccoli. You could add any other veggies you have in the crisper such as red peppers, mushrooms or zucchini. Serve alongside some basmati or brown rice.

Beef and Broccoli
recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

Sauce:
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons low-sodium chicken broth
5 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Beef and Broccoli:
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 pounds flank steak, cut into 2-inch-wide strips with the grain, then sliced across the grain into 1/8-inch-thick slices
6 medium cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press or minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon peanut oil or vegetable oil, plus extra for cooking
1 1/4 pounds broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/3 cup water
3 medium scallions, sliced 1/2-inch thick on diagonal, optional

1. In a medium bowl, combine beef and soy sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 10 minutes or up to 1 hour. Meanwhile, whisk the sauce ingredients together in a liquid measure or small bowl. In another small bowl, combine garlic, ginger, and 1 teaspoon peanut oil. Set aside.

2. Heat 1-2 teaspoons peanut oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot and rippling. Add half of beef to skillet and break up clumps; cook, without stirring, for 1 minute, then stir and cook until beef is browned around edges and cooked through, about 1-2 minutes. Don’t overcook the meat – cook until just barely cooked through so the meat stays tender. Transfer beef to a medium bowl and cover with a lid and tin foil. Heat another 1-2 teaspoons peanut oil in the skillet and repeat with remaining beef.

3. Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil to now-empty skillet; heat until rippling and hot. Add broccoli and cook 30 seconds; add water, cover pan, and lower heat to medium. Steam broccoli until tender-crisp, about 2 minutes. Push the broccoli to the sides of the skillet and add the garlic/ginger mixture. Cook, mashing the mixture with a spoon, until fragrant, about 15-30 seconds. Stir the mixture into the broccoli. Add the beef back to skillet and toss to combine. Whisk the sauce to recombine and add to the skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened and evenly distributed, about 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle with scallions and serve.

Chai Tea Mix

22 Oct

Chai Tea Mix
I have never been a fan of tea but on a recent trip to the North Shore of Lake Superior my mother-in-law ordered a chai tea and I gave it a try. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed it so as soon as we got home I went on the hunt for a mix I could whip up so I could have it at home whenever the mood struck.
Chai Tea Mix
This chai tea mix is spicy, warm and comforting which is a nice change the hot chocolate I would normally chose when I want a hot drink (I’m not a coffee drinker either). It tastes great when mixed with water but I prefer milk for the creaminess it lends the tea.

This recipe makes a huge amount so be prepared to drink up or throw some in a jar and tie a pretty ribbon around it with mixing directions for a fun little gift.
Chai Tea Mix
Chai Tea Mix
recipe from allrecipes.com

1  cup nondairy dry milk powder
1 cup powdered non-dairy creamer
1 cup vanilla flavored powdered non-dairy creamer
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened instant tea
1 tsp. ginger
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. cardamom
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. allspice

1. In a large bowl, combine milk powder, non-dairy creamer, vanilla flavored creamer, sugar and instant tea. Stir in ginger, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg and allspice. In a blender or food processor, blend 1 cup at a time, until mixture is the consistency of fine powder.

2. To serve: Stir 2 heaping tablespoons Chai tea mixture into a mug of hot water or milk.

Nutter Butter Candy Corn Bars

19 Oct

Nutter Butter Candy Corn Bars
I’ve been so obsessed with sharing football food that I totally overlooked Halloween eats. We have been super busy around here and my mind has been elsewhere. I even missed out on starting a 12 weeks of Christmas treats series. Super disappointing since it was so fun last year. But no worries, I will be bringing you lots of treats for the upcoming holidays.

Now, onto Halloween which is approaching way too quickly! Noah is going to be a golfer this year and he is very excited to say the least. I know it seems like an odd choice but he is totally obsessed with all sports (surprise, surprise) and he particularly loves golf. He has a little golf set that we play with every day, all day. This boy, who never stops moving, will just sit on Joel’s lap and watch golf while yelling “hit it in the hole guy!” And if they miss, even on their first shot, he yells “missss.” He has high expectations. So, needless to say, this Halloween is going to be very fun in our house! Plus, he will get it this year and actually get to enjoy some of the candy.
Nutter Butter Candy Corn Bars
These rich, simple, 4 ingredient bars would be great for any Halloween party! They just scream fall with all that yummy candy corn peeking out from every nook and cranny. I think they would be good with a little chocolate drizzled on top (but you guys know I have a thing for peanut butter and chocolate). They would be great addition to a Halloween dessert bar along with Candy Corn Cookies and Peppermint Patties.

Nutter Butter Candy Corn Bars
recipe from the Cookin’ Cowgirl

1 lb. package Nutter Butters
1 cup candy corn
4 Tbsp. butter
6 cups marshmallows

Place one row of the Nutter Butters in the food processor and pulse a few times. Blend until cookies are turned into crumbs. Break up remaining row of cookies into large chunks. In a large bowl, melt butter and marshmallows together in microwave, stirring occasionally. Once melted, add Nutter Butter crumbs and chunks and stir together. (This will be thick and a little tough to stir; don’t worry, you’re doing it right.) Pour about 3/4 cup candy corn into mixture and stir to combine. Pour mixture into 8×8 baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Top cookie bars with remaining 1/4 C candy corn. Let cool completely before cutting.

Crispy Baked Asian Wings

17 Oct

When I served these for dinner recently, Joel asked me if I fried them….that’s how crispy they are after being baked in the oven! The recipe for these wings is from Alton Brown’s show Good Eats. I am not really into science so I don’t watch it too often but I happened to catch the episode where he made these wings and I knew I had to try them.
Asian Wings
The trick is steaming them first, thoroughly drying them and then baking them at a high temperature. They turned out unbelievably crispy so I will be cooking wings this way always.

I usually go for traditional buffalo sauce  but Joel isn’t a big fan of spicy foods so I try to change it up occasionally so I don’t have to hear his whining. We both like Asian inspired sauces so I searched for a copycat of the Asian Zing sauce from Buffalo Wild Wings and it was pretty good. The sauce is not as spicy so that’s something to consider if you like things hot. If I were making these just for me, I would add in a good amount of red pepper flakes to bump up the spice factor.
Asian Wings
Crispy Baked Wings in Asian Sauce
recipe from Alton Brown

24 whole chicken wings
1 sauce recipe, follows

1. Place a 6-quart saucepan with a steamer basket and 1-inch of water in the bottom, over high heat, cover and bring to a boil.

2. Remove the tips of the wings and discard or save for making stock. Using kitchen shears, or a knife, separate the wings at the joint. Place the wings into the steamer basket, cover, reduce the heat to medium and steam for 10 minutes. Remove the wings from the basket and carefully pat dry. Lay the wings out on a cooling rack set in a half sheet pan lined with paper towels and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

3. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

4. Replace the paper towels with parchment paper or liberally spray the baking sheet with non-stick spray. Roast on the middle rack of the oven for 20 minutes. Turn the wings over and cook another 20 minutes or until meat is cooked through and the skin is golden brown.

5. While wings are roasting, make sauce recipe below.

Asian Sauce 
recipe from Food.com

2 teaspoons cornstarch
4 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup chili-garlic sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic, minced

1. Dissolve corn starch in rice wine vinegar in a small bowl and set aside.

2. In a small sauce pan combine remaining ingredients.

3. Add corn starch and rice wine vinegar mixture and stir well.

4. Heat mixture on low/medium heat, stirring often until sauce reaches a boil and thickens.

4 Ingredient Pumpkin Frozen Yogurt {No Machine Required}

15 Oct

Pumpkin Frozen Yogurt
I don’t know about you but I could eat ice cream every single day of the week, even on our coldest Minnesota days. I restrain from doing so but now that I have this recipe in my pocket it is much more tempting. It’s simple to throw together with ingredients that I almost always have on hand. It’s a cool, creamy, seasonal treat that’s healthy to boot. Plus, it’s really fun to give a big bowl full to your toddler and watch him go at it (while still knowing it’s good for him). Warning: you are about to be bombarded with silly, goofy pictures of my little man!
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Now, I don’t want to fool you all….the real deal pumpkin ice cream is much better to my taste buds but this is much better for my waistline.
Pumpkin Frozen Yogurt
4 Ingredient Pumpkin Frozen Yogurt
recipe from The Family Kitchen

1 cup nonfat vanilla yogurt
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon granulated sugar (I used Splenda)
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Mix everything together in a large mixing bowl until completely combined. Churn the mixture in an ice cream maker for a few minutes until it is a smooth, cool consistency. Alternatively, place the bowl in the freezer and stir mixture every half hour until it reaches desired consistency.

Quinoa Mac-n-Cheese Bites

12 Oct

Quinoa Mac-n-Cheese
I have been bringing you all lots of yummy, delectable football snacks (spinach dip, potato skins, peanut butter pretzel bites) but they have been belly busters to say the least so I thought today I would bring you something lighter for this week’s game. The original recipe was simply for quinoa mac-n-cheese but I thought it would be way more fun, portable and snackable in bite size form. Plus, I always love the crispy edges of baked mac-n-cheese so this way there is more crispy surface area. They are filling, cheesy and packed with protein. I made up a big batch of these then layered them in a crockpot kept on the warm setting. And what’s best is you don’t have to feel guilty for enjoying a couple of these babies!

Quinoa Mac-n-Cheese Bites
recipe from Moni Meals

2 tsp olive oil
1 med. leek white and pale green parts halved and sliced (1 cup)-OR chives are fine too
1/2 cup diced tomato or red/green pepper (or any veggie really, I used finely chopped broccoli)
1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained (OR you can just use pre-cooked and cut back on the water and cooking time)
good pinch of salt
a few grinds of seasoning salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups of water (or stock)
2 large eggs
1 cup skim milk, or milk of choice
1 1/2 cups grated Cheddar cheese, more for sprinkling NOTE: (You may find you need more cheese, BUT I use this amount to still keep the dish ‘lighter’ yet very flavorful.)

1. Heat oil in med. saucepan over med. heat. Add leek and tomatoes (or bell peppers-or any veggies you want really); cover and cook 5 mins or until tender. Stir in quinoa and garlic, and cook, uncovered, 3-4 mins, or until grains start to turn opaque (they will not fully be cooked yet).

2. Add 3 cups water (or stock) and season with salt and the seasoning salt. Cover and reduce heat to med-low and simmer 15-20 mins or more, (depends and also what kind of quinoa you use) or until most liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand 5 mins.

3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Liberally coat two 12 cup muffin pans with cooking spray. Whisk together eggs and milk in large bowl. Fold in quinoa mixture and cheese (if you feel you need more cheese, add here.) Stir very well and let some of the cheese melt. (Will seem a little “soupy,” do not worry, it will all mold together.)

4. Transfer to prepared muffin cups and if using Panko crumbs or Bread crumbs, add now. You can also sprinkle a bit more cheese on now if you prefer for topping. Bake 25-35 mins, (or until browned around edges).

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