Banana Muffins

Sunday mornings in my house are made for curling up on the couch with my son watching cartoons and sipping coffee. Since we are quickly approaching the Terrible Twos, Sunday morning seems to be the only time we can get him to sit still for more than a few minutes. This may be because he is still partially asleep but I’ll take any cuddle time I can get!

I also like to take the time on Sunday morning to actually make breakfast. Most mornings we are rushing out the door so I like to take advantage of the mornings I can slow down to bake a batch of muffins. These banana muffins are super simple and the classic banana bread flavor is a favorite in my house. Also the fact that the banana muffins are whole wheat with no refined sugars is a big plus in my book. While I am not above feeding my son chicken fingers from time to time,I try to feed him healthier options whenever I can. Slather some almond butter on these muffins and he is a happy boy!

banana muffinsIngredients:
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 bananas, mashed
1 egg
1/2 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
Option mix-ins: chocolate chips, almonds, pecans, dried cranberries…

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees and set aside a prepared muffin tin.

Begin by mixing all of your dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.

In another bowl, mix all of the remaining ingredients until completely combined. A note on the banana, if you prefer chunkier pieces of banana in your muffins feel free to leave it a little less mashed!

Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stirring until just combined – do not over work the batter! You can also add in some nuts or chocolate chips at this point if you’d like.

banana muffins

Pour into the prepared muffin tin and bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Enjoy!

banana muffins

Hoisin Grilled Veggie Sandwich

Hoisin is magic, literally magic. The pungent sauce resembles an Asian BBQ and brings so much flavor to any dish! Not sure how to elevate your simple chicken and veggie dinner? Toss on some hoisin! I even love hoisin paired with raw veggies. Literally this stuff makes carrot sticks taste like heaven.

hoisin veggie sandwich

So naturally I wanted to add some of this magic sauce to one of my favorite meat-less meals – veggie sandwiches. The hoisin introduces a funkyBBQ flavor that helps my husband quickly get over the fact that there is no meat involved. Though if he had his say, he’d probably throw in some thinly sliced flank steak or pulled pork. He’ll eat veggies to make me happy though.

I joke that my son was built on vegetable sandwiches. But in all seriousness he was. Raw veggie sandwiches from a local bread bakery at least once a week for dinner my entire pregnancy. And even now that I am not pregnant, I still crave that crisp, simple sandwich. It doesn’t hurt that my go-to place has the BEST bread. I’m looking at you Loafers Bread

Ingredients:
1 zucchini, sliced into planks
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1/4 cup onion, sliced thin
6 stalks of asparagus
4 slices of whole wheat bread
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce, divided
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup mozzarella, shredded

Begin by pre-heating your grill pan over medium heat.

Whisk together 2 tablespoons of the hoisin, water and sesame oil to create a loose sauce. Combine all prepared vegetables in a large mixing bowl and toss in the hoisin mixture. Throw the vegetables on the grill pan, turning after a few minutes. Cook until tender but still crisp – some may cook faster than others so keep an eye on them.

hoisin veggie sandwich

Oh those grill marks…

Spread the remaining hoisin on the bread to add more flavor and top with veggies and mozzarella. Place assembled sandwiches on the grill pan and press to toast bread slightly and melt cheese.

Enjoy!

Hoisin Veggie Sandwich

*note, cheese with an Asian flavor may seem off but the mozzarella is mild enough that is just lends a creamy element. I am also dying to try this with feta… I am convinced everything tastes better with feta!

Lemon and Spring Vegetable Rice Soup

I try to make a slow cooker meal every Monday for dinner. Not only is it super easy to prep the ingredients on Sunday afternoon but its also amazing to walk through the door after work with a “case of the Mondays” with dinner done. And the bonus? Slow cooker meals usually mean extras for lunch throughout the week. Oh and slow cooking the rice in the soup makes it almost creamy without having to use cream. Perfect!

This take on a simple vegetable and rice soup is loaded with spring vegetables and bright lemon. I change up the veggies in this soup based on what I find in the store – this week was spinach and asparagus. Spring is here! 🌸🌼🌱🌸🌼🌱🌸🌼🌱

I strongly suggest serving a bowl of this soup under a mountain of freshly grated parmesan with a side of crusty bread.

lemon veggie soup

Ingredients:
½ cup carrots, diced
½ cup celery, diced
½ cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon oregano
6 cups chicken broth
1 cup brown rice, rinsed
2 handfuls fresh spinach
1 cup asparagus, diced
1 cup frozen
1 to 2 lemons, juiced (depending on taste)
Parmesan cheese *optional

Begin by sautéing carrots, onion, celery and garlic for five minutes until softened. Add sautéed vegetables to a slow cooker with the chicken broth, rice and oregano. Cook on low for 4 hours.

Add remaining ingredients along with lemon juice and cook on low for another 30 minutes or until asparagus is tender. Salt and pepper to taste, add more lemon if desired.

When serving, top generously with grated parmesan cheese!

lemon veggie soup

Enjoy!

Biscotti Two Ways

To say life has been stressful these past few weeks would be an understatement. So when I found myself craving biscotti I was not too surprised. When life gets hectic there is nothing better than sitting down, or standing at the kitchen counter, and dipping biscotti into a cup of tea. Or if shit really hits the fan I dip them in wine – don’t judge!

And since I can never make up my mind, I went with two half batches of my favorite biscotti recipe – one chocolate and one cinnamon… and chocolate. I don’t believe a dessert is a dessert if it doesn’t include some chocolate. But the greatest thing about this recipe is that you can easily adapt it depending on your craving! I’ve done triple chocolate, cinnamon raisin, pumpkin spice…. You get the idea.

Biscotti

Almond and Coconut Chocolate Biscotti
Ingredients:
¾ cup whole wheat flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
½ cup sliced almonds
½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
2 tablespoons butter, softened
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 egg

Cinnamon and Dark Chocolate Chip Biscotti
Ingredients:
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup dark chocolate chunks
½ cup cinnamon chips
1 tablespoon butter, softened
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 egg

Once you have your ingredients squared away both recipes play out the same. Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together your dry ingredients and mix-ins (chocolate chunks, almonds, coconut etc.) in a bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until the dough just comes together.

Turn the dough out on a floured surface and form into a flattened loaf – about an inch or so thick.

Biscotti

Bake loaves for 20 minutes then let the loaves cool for at least 15 minutes. Do not skip the cooling step!

Biscotti

Slice loaves at a diagonal into ½ inch slices using a serrated knife. If the loaves are not cool enough they will crumble as you cut them. And no one wants crumbly biscotti!

BiscottiArrange slices on a baking sheet and bake four minutes on each side. Let cool completely before eating.

Enjoy!

Biscotti

Veggie Nuggets

Quickly after becoming a Mom I started becoming a bit obsessed with sneaking vegetables into my toddler. Luckily for me, Max is pretty open to most vegetables and while I love to roast fresh broccoli and sweet potatoes for him – life gets busy. Having a freezer stocked with these veggie nuggets is a great way to have something healthy for him on busy weeknights. Dip these in ketchup and Max will eat these nuggets just as quickly as any chicken variety. And I get to have my proud mom moment as I see my son eating broccoli, carrots and kale. Kale!
Sorry, that was gloating 🙂

Veggie Nuggets

Ingredients
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, steamed
1 handful kale
2 eggs
½ cup breadcrumbs
½ cup shredded cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a baking sheet with non-stick spray.

Begin by pulsing the mixed vegetables and kale in a food processor until roughly chopped. Add all remaining ingredients and pulse until everything is incorporated and vegetables are in smaller pieces. Veggies should not by mushy!

Veggie Nuggets

Veggie Nuggets

Spoon about ¼ cup of the mixture on the baking sheet for each nugget. Bake until golden brown along the edges, about 20 minutes.

If eating immediately, enjoy!

If freezing for later, you can simply freeze the nuggets right on the baking sheet for two hours or until completely frozen. Once frozen just toss the nuggets into a freezer bag and keep in the freezer until later. They can be reheated in the microwave in about 45 seconds and are a big hit with ketchup or BBQ sauce!

Italian Sausage Frittata

Frittatas are one of my go-to weeknight meals. Not only do they bring me back to lazy weekend brunches, but they are also easy to throw together using whatever is in your fridge. And another plus? Eggs are cheap at Aldi and we are in the middle of a bathroom remodel – so cheap is good!

Italian Frittata

This frittata has an Italian spin with Italian sausage and herbs. I plan on serving this with marinara drizzled on top and  a simple spinach salad on the side. And of course some crusty bread.

Ingredients
4 egg whites
4 whole eggs
1 link Italian sausage, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, sliced thin
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon fresh basil, chopped
1 roma tomato, sliced
salt & pepper to taste

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.

In a bowl, whisk together eggs and seasoning. Set aside.

In your 8-inch skillet, cook Italian sausage thoroughly. Add red onion and cook until just softened. Arrange sausage and onion evenly in the skillet and slowly pour over egg mixture. Cook on medium heat until edges begin to set, about 5 minutes. Carefully place tomato slices on the top of the eggs.

Place skillet in the oven and bake for eight to 10 minutes, or until center is cooked through.

Slice and serve with a simple spinach salad and toast!

Enjoy!

Italian Frittata

Irish Soda Bread

‘Tis the season for  Irish soda bread! I love the simple flavors of this easy to make classic and make at least one loaf each Spring. Soda bread is best served warm slathered with butter but I also love it paired with sharp cheddar. Cheddar and raisins sound crazy but it works – its the sweet and salty combo. I strongly suggest giving this recipe a try and be prepared to eat half the load warm, straight from the oven.

Soda Bread

Ingredients
4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
5 tablespoons butter, cold!
1 cup raisins
1 egg
1 3/4 cups buttermilk 

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees. If you are using a cast iron pan, I strongly suggest placing the pan in the oven now to heat it up. This will help crisp the bottom of the bread.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda. Using a pastry cutter or your hands, cut in the butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Fold in the raisins.

Make a well in the mixture and add the egg and buttermilk. Stirring in slowly until the dough comes together. Turn dough out on a floured surface and knead only a few times to bring it all together. Adding more flour if necessary. Don’t over-knead – the dough should be shaggy and not smooth like more bread dough.

Toss the dough ball in the pre-heated skillet and cut an X in the top. Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center.

Let cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving! This is best served warm with butter but it is also – strangely – delicious with cheddar cheese. Trust me!

Soda Bread

Enjoy!

Soda Bread

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies for Breakfast!

There is no getting around the fact that Monday mornings are rough. Over the years I have tried to make Monday mornings in the office suck less and the one thing that always makes it easier is a delicious breakfast at my desk. These oatmeal raisin cookies are a great way to cure the Monday – or Tuesday through Friday – blues. Healthy, easily portable yet delicious. Plus they always make my coworkers jealous if I am eating them in an early meeting.  Whip up a batch this Sunday afternoon and test my theory – cookies for breakfast make Mondays suck less.

Breakfast Cookies

Ingredients
1 egg
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons white sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups oats – not quick oats!
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins (or chocolate chips!)

Beat the egg, sugars, butter and vanilla together until well combined, a few minutes. Slowly add in the remaining ingredients. Mixing after each addition. Once the dough is thoroughly mixed, cover the dough and chill in the fridge for an hour or so. This prevents the cookies from spreading and will keep them nice and chewy!

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Take the chilled dough and place heaping tablespoons onto a prepared baking sheet. This should make about 18 cookies. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Let the cookies cool completely before storing.

Enjoy!

Breakfast Cookies

Ben finally realized my favorite flowers are sold at Trader Joe’s!

Savory Dutch Baby with Bacon and Asparagus

Growing up my sister and I always made Dutch Baby pancakes on the weekends. It was one of the first recipes we learned in Home Ec and my mom had no problem with us making these ourselves so she could sleep in. However, our Dutch Babies in the past looked very different and were often topped with copious amounts of powdered sugar and syrup.

I’d like to think of this Dutch Baby as the adult, savory version but just as fun. An easy weeknight meal topped with asparagus, bacon and Parmesan cheese. What is not to love?! And you can really use any combination for the toppings. I was debating between lemony roasted brussels sprouts vs. asparagus and bacon. My husband had a vote and we went with bacon.

Ingredients
3 large eggs
3/4 cup skim milk
tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup whole wheat flour 
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 handful of asparagus, ends trimmed
4 slices of bacon
Parmesan – the more the better! 

Begin by preheating your oven to 450 degrees with the cast iron skillet in the oven.

In a blender or food processor begin adding all ingredients, beginning with the eggs. Blend eggs until frothy then slowly add milk and melted butter. Add remaining ingredients, blending thoroughly.

When the oven is up the temp, carefully remove the skillet add about a tablespoon of butter. Swirl the butter around the pan to coat and quickly pour in the batter. Put the skillet in the oven and ignore it for 20 minutes! It will puff up and become a toasty brown.

While the Dutch Baby bakes, cook your bacon until crisp and remove from the pan. Add the asparagus and saute the asparagus in the bacon drippings. Salt and pepper to taste.

Top the Dutch Baby with the asparagus, bacon and a mountain of grated Parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

Breakfast Cake…. Cake for Breakfast!

I am on a dessert for breakfast kick. And before you judge me for eating brownies with my morning coffee – though I have done that in the past – I’ve transformed cake into wholesome and filling breakfast. Yes, cake. The bananas, whole wheat and oatmeal make this a great breakfast option while the fact that its cake makes it just plain fun. Top a slice with some almond butter and chocolate chips or dip in your coffee as is. Any day is a good day when it starts with a slice of a cake!

Breakfast banana cake
Ingredients
1 ½ cups quick oats*
1 cups whole wheat flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon melted butter
2 large egg whites
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mashed banana, about 2 medium
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons honey
¼ cup milk
Optional add-ins – almonds, coconut, chocolate chips, dried fruit… anything!

*If you only have regular oats, simply toss them in the food processor and give it a few pulses to break them up a bit. This will help them absorb the liquid while baking.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9″x9″ pan with nonstick spray.

Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl – oats through salt – and set aside. In a second bowl combine the remaining ingredients except milk. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients and milk, alternating like you would with a real cake batter.

At this point you can add in any of your additional add-ins.

Spread the batter in your pan and bake for about 23 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely in the pan before slicing.

breakfast cake

Enjoy!