Monthly Archives: February 2012

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

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Happy Leap Day!  February 29th only comes around every 4 years, so I would say that it is pretty special!  Folklore says that Leap Day is the one day that a woman is able to propose to a man.  I let Chris know that he was lucky we were already married, or I would totally propose to him today.

Speaking of my wonderful husband, he loves blueberry muffins.  Unfortunately, the ones that he loves come from a convenience store whose name rhymes with Heaven-Shmaleven and are sugar bombs with, like, 500 calories in them.   I love my hubs and want him to be around forever, so I try to make him some healthier alternatives to his favorite foods.

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Muffins can be the perfect grab-and-go breakfast or snack.  They are tasty and portable, and when they are homemade, you can control the ingredients and the amount of sugar and fat they contain.

Begin by creaming together some softened butter, a little brown sugar and an egg.

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Add some vanilla, oats, flour, salt, and cinnamon…

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and don’t forget the blueberries!

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Bake, and enjoy a wholesome treat. No sketchy convenience stores needed.

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Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

makes 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 a stick) softened butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup of milk with the oats.  Set aside until most of the milk has soaked into the oats (about 5 minutes).
  3. In a large bowl, combine the butter and brown sugar.  Add egg and vanilla and mix until smooth.  There may be small pieces of butter, but that is fine.
  4. Add oat mixture, flour, baking powder, salt cinnamon and remaining milk.  Mix until just combined.
  5. Gently fold in the blueberries, trying not to break them.
  6. Scoop batter into a paper-lined muffin tin.
  7. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean.

Good luck if you’re proposing to your man today!

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Filed under Baking

Crockpot Classic Turkey Chili

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As far as winters go, this one has been very mild!  I would say the average temps have been in the 40s, and we’ve only had a couple spurts of snow that were all 1 inch or less.  The largest total snow accumulation we’ve had was in October (a very early time for snow in our area).

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We aren’t quite out of the woods for winter weather, but I’m hoping that spring is on its way sooner rather than later.   Although most days have been on the warmer side, we have had our share of cold, windy days.  And on those days, the best cure I know is a steaming bowl of chili.

There is always a debate on the contents of chili.  Does it have beans, meat or both?  I am on Team Chili Bean.  It is the way my mom always made it.  I remember smelling it simmering on the stove for hours, perfuming the whole house with its spicy aroma.  And it was always served with cheese and sour cream, and crusty bread for dipping.  The perfect way to warm up on the coldest of winter days.

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For this version, I utilized one of my favorite kitchen gadgets-the Crockpot!  With my long daily commute, I have really come to appreciate the convenience of having dinner done when I get home.  I get to relax and unwind instead of worrying about getting dinner on the table.  Just throw the ingredients in the pot in the morning, set it to low and let it cook all day.  Or, if you prefer, you can certainly simmer this on the stove top for a couple hours instead of using a slowcooker.

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Crockpot Classic Turkey Chili

makes 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground turkey, browned on the stove top
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped in a medium dice
  • 1 large onion, chopped in a medium dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cans light red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 14.5 oz cans tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne (or more to taste)
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • chopped green onions
  • sour cream

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients through cayenne pepper to slow cooker.  Mix to combine.
  2. Cook on low 6-8 hours.
  3. Serve with cheese, green onions and sour cream.

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Filed under Soups and Stews

Strawberries and Cream Stuffed French Toast

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Weekends are my favorite.  I really enjoy spending lazy Saturday and Sunday mornings with Chris and the dogs.  Taking our time to roll out of bed, enjoying a hot cup of coffee (me, not Chris), sitting around reading the paper and sometimes enjoying a special breakfast.

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Our weekday mornings are pretty rushed with both of us getting ready for work and taking care of the dogs.  His breakfasts consist of bagels, and I usually grab fruit and yogurt to eat at work.  Taking the time on the weekends to create a nice meal for the two of us to enjoy together is really special.  Usually I make some kind of eggs, as I think we both prefer savory breakfasts to sweet, but sometimes a sweet treat comes out of the kitchen and it is a nice change of pace.

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Strawberries and Cream Stuffed French Toast

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 crusty French baguette
  • 1/3 cup cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract, divided
  • 6 strawberries, sliced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • butter (for cooking)
  • maple syrup

Directions

  1. Cut baguette into 1/3 inch slices on an angle.  You want to end up with an even number of slices, since it takes two slices per French toast.  I got 24 slices from my baguette.
  2. Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, an 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract until well mixed. 
  3. Lay your pieces of bread out on a board.  I found it easiest to keep the two pieces that will be sandwiched together and flip them so the side that will be the inside face out.

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4. Spread each slice with about 1/2 tbsp of the cream cheese mixture.  You don’t want to use too much, or it will escape during the cooking.

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5. Place sliced strawberries onto half of the bread slices.  Top with the other side of the bread, creating a “sandwich.”

6. In a wide bowl, mix eggs, milk, remaining vanilla and cinnamon into a smooth batter.

7. Heat a pan over medium heat.  Melt butter in the pan.

8. Dip each “sandwich” into the batter.  Let it soak for a moment, then turn over to soak the other side.

9. Place each slice of French toast into the pan and cook until golden brown.  Flip and cook other side.

10.  Serve with additional sliced strawberries and maple syrup.

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Filed under Breakfast

Black Bean and Corn Salsa (or Salad)

I normally try to limit the amount of meat that I eat, and now that it is the Lenten season, meat is off limits for me on Fridays.  I made this dish for my lunch on Ash Wednesday (another meatless day).  It makes for a really nice light meal, or can be served with tortilla chips as an appetizer.

This is a “no recipe” recipe, and I’ll bet that you have most of the ingredients in your pantry.  I love quick and easy meals or snacks that can be thrown together in a matter of minutes.  Whether you are running late and need a quick meal, or have unexpected company, this salsa (or salad) is a quick, tasty and sure to please.

Black Bean and Corn Salsa (or Salad)

Makes 20 servings as a salsa, or 3 as a salad

Ingredients

  • 1 can Rotel (diced tomatoes with green chilies), undrained
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp dried cilantro (or 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped)
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Serve with tortilla chips as an appetizer, or in a bowl alone or over chopped romaine lettuce as a salad.  I think this would also be amazing with some grilled shrimp!

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Filed under Appetizers, Salads, Vegetarian

White Chocolate Cherry Blondies

I love that blondies are sort of the red-headed (blonde-headed?) step child to brownies.  We all love the gooey chocolatey treat, but sometimes it is nice to divert a little and try something different.

White Chocolate Cherry Blondies

adapted from Taste of Home

Makes 24 blondies

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine melted butter and brown sugar in a small bowl.
  3. Cool slightly, and whisk in eggs and vanilla until smooth.
  4. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
  5. Gradually add butter mixture to flour mixture.  Stir until well combined.
  6. Reserve 1/4 cup each of cherries and white chocolate chips.  Mix the remaining cherries and chips into the batter.  Batter will be thick
  7. Transfer batter to a greased 9 in x 13 in baking pan and press into an even layer.
  8. Sprinkle the top with the reserved cherries and white chocolate.  Press down slightly to adhere them to the top of the blondies.
  9. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  10. Cool completely before cutting and serving.

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Filed under Baking, Dessert

Almond Coconut Crusted Chicken Tenders with Spicy Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

Chicken fingers remind me of my childhood.  I remember eating them when I was a kid.  However those were “chicken” fingers, i.e. highly processed ground up chicken reshaped into the familiar “finger” form.

Today, I’ve created a grown up version, one that use real chicken, and not “chicken,” and is coated with a delightful mixture of almond meal and shredded coconut.  The savory, nutty almond meal is a great compliment to the sweet coconut.  And these tenders and baked in the oven, not fried, so they are much healthier than their fast food counter part!

Almond Coconut Crusted Chicken Tenders

Ingredients

  • 1 lb chicken tenders
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups almond meal (I bought this at Trader Joes, but you can just grind up some almonds until they resemble coarse bread crumbs.  Don’t go too far, or you will end up with almond butter!)
  • 1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil and top with a wire cooling rack.  Spray the cooling rack with cooking spray.
  3. Create a dredging station by setting out three bowls.  In the first, put the flour.  Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine.  In the second bowl, crack one egg.  Mix with water until combined.  In the third bowl, mix the almond meal and coconut.
  4. Dredge the chicken tenders: Begin by coating them one at a time in the flour, then dip into the egg mixture. Finally, coat the chicken in the almond/ coconut mixture.  Once coated, place the chicken on the wire cooling rack.

    My husband is not a fan of coconut, so half are coated in just almond meal

  5. Spray the tops of the chicken with a light coating of cooking spray.
  6. Bake the chicken for 30-35 minutes until it is cooked through and coating is crispy.

Spicy Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup spicy mustard
  • 2 tbsp honey

Directions

  1. Mix ingredients in a small bowl until combined.
  2. Serve with chicken.

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Filed under Main Dishes

Mardi Gras King Cake

Happy Fat Tuesday!

I love any excuse to celebrate, and what better reason than Mardi Gras!  King Cakes are traditionally baked with a small trinket or toy baby inside, and the person who gets the slice with the trinket is King (or Queen!) for the day.  That person is also responsible for bringing the King Cake to the next party!  I didn’t get the baby last time, however we are having a pizza luncheon at work today, and I thought it would be fun to celebrate Fat Tuesday with my co-workers.

King Cake

adapted from Southern Living Magazine

Ingredients

For cake:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 oz (2 envelopes) active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 eggs
  • 5-6 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened

For icing:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tbsp milk

For topping:

  • 1 cup sugar, divided into three bowls (1/3 cup each)
  • Green, Yellow, Red and Blue food coloring

Or

  • Green, Yellow and Purple sanding sugar

Directions

  1. In a small sauce pot, mix butter, sour cream, yogurt, sugar and salt over medium heat until butter is melted and mixture is smooth.  Turn off heat and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine warm water, yeast and 1 tbsp sugar.  Set aside 5 minutes until yeast is frothy.
  3. Add butter mixture, eggs and 2 cups of the flour to the yeast.  Mix until combined.
  4. Switch attachment on mixer to a dough hook. Continue mixing, adding flour until a soft dough is formed.  You may not need the total amount of flour listed in ingredients.
  5. Knead with dough hook for 5 minutes.  Turn dough out on a floured surface and hand knead for 2 minutes until dough is elastic and smooth.
  6. Place dough in a well greased bowl, turning to coat the top.  Cover with a clean dish towel and place bowl in a warm place to rise for 1 hour.
  7. Mix 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon.
  8. Divide dough in 2 equal pieces.  One at a time, roll each dough piece into a long rectangle (approx. 24 in x 10 in).
  9. Spread 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick) onto each dough rectangle.  Sprinkle 1/2 sugar mixture onto each dough rectangle.  If you are using a trinket, place it in the cake before rolling.
  10. Roll jelly-roll style beginning with the long side.
  11. Shape each dough log into an oval shape, pinching edges together where they meet, on a foil lined baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Pinch to
  12. Cover and let rise for 25 minutes.
  13. Bake cakes in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 15 minutes.
  14. Let cool completely before decorating.
  15. To make the colored sugar, mix 2-4 drops of desired color of food coloring into each bowl of sugar.  Mix until combined.
  16. To make the icing, combine powdered sugar, melted butter and milk.  Mix until smooth.
  17. Drizzle icing over cooled cakes.  Decorate with colored sugars.

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Filed under Baking, Dessert, Holidays