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
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


Balsamic Lime Fajitas

It’s been awhile! But that is what happens when your 8-month old, affectionally known as Chicken Nugget, has an ear infection in both ears – your blogging habit falls to the wayside. But we still need to eat and luckily he is feeling better.

Enter these balsamic lime fajitas! The marinade is simple, which makes this a perfect weeknight meal. The chicken marinades while you prep and cook the veggies and the entire meal can be made within 30 minutes. Coincidentally my baby will only nap in 30 minutes increments.  Perfect!


2 chicken breasts, diced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup lime juice (about one lime)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon adobo seasoning
salt & pepper
1 green pepper
1 small onion
avocado, for topping

Begin by mixing the marinade by combining the balsamic vinegar, lime juice, olive oil, garlic, cumin, adobo, salt and pepper. Pour over chicken and let marinade for 20 minutes – or as long as you can.

Heat a large sauté pan and cook the pepper and onion until soft, about five minutes. Remove from pan. Add a little olive oil into the pan and cook the chicken through.

Build your fajitas with the chicken, peppers, onions and avocado.




The fajitas were good but these Spring tulips are prettier

Greek Lemon Chicken Soup

There is a little Greek lunch diner I frequented in downtown Pittsburgh while working my first real world job. Every Tuesday the special of the day was a thick, creamy lemon chicken soup. The lemon offered the perfect amount of tang to combat the heavy cream and orzo.  It was heaven on a cold, rainy Pittsburgh afternoon. Or even a hot and humid August day.

I was daydreaming about that soup the other day and sought to recreate the flavors in a lighter and easier recipe. The result? A lemon and broth based chicken soup that is full of the classic Greek flavors while being packed with vitamins from the kale and quinoa. And since its so healthy you can go ahead and pile on that fresh grated parmesan!


1 onion, diced
5 cups chicken broth
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 chicken breasts
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 bunch kale, chopped
2 cups quinoa, cooked
salt & pepper, to taste
parmesan for topping

Begin by softening the onions in a large sauce pot over medium heat. Add garlic. Once fragrant add chicken broth, chicken, lemon juice, lemon zest, crushed red pepper  and oregano. Let the mixture simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Remove chicken and shred with two forks. Add back to the pot with chopped kale. Let kale wilt, about three minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.


It wilts down – I promise!

Pour soup over bowls of quinoa and top with grated parmesan.




Espresso and Almond Banana Bread

Weekends are for banana bread in my house. There is something about the smell of freshly baked banana bread that feels so warm and comforting. And since I am usually the first up on Saturday mornings I take the time to bake and use my French press for a good cup of coffee. So by the time my husband and son are up – the house smells like fresh bread and I’ve already enjoyed my coffee in a quiet kitchen. I get some alone time and they have fresh banana bread – we’ll my husband does since my son doesn’t have enough teeth yet.

The below banana bread recipe is actually healthy. The banana and apple sauce replace the need for oil and the butter is cut down to reduce the fat even further. But this bread by no means tastes healthy. And I like to add the espresso powder for some extra flavor.

And on a side note – this is amazing warmed up with some ice cream on top. Just saying!

Banana Bread

1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon instant expresso powder
3 bananas, mashed
1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
2 tablespoon butter, softened
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2  cup almonds, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a loaf pan.

Sift together flour, baking soda, salt and expresso powder in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and brown sugar together. Add bananas, apple sauce, egg whites and vanilla. Slowly add in flour mixture and almonds. Mix until just combined.

Banana Bread

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake 45 minutes. The bread will be done if a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle.




Lemon, Pistachio Crusted Salmon with Brussels Sprouts

Life has been pretty busy lately. Between juggling work and a teething baby, the last thing I want to do is cook some complicated dinner when I get home. However, I also don’t want to eat greasy takeout or a boring freezer meal.

Enter, my freezer full of frozen salmon. Salmon cooks quickly but feels fancy. Perfect for a crappy weekday after sitting in rush hour traffic. Toss together some pistachios and panko – both pantry staples in my house – and this dish goes to another level.

Pistachio Crusted Salmon

4 Salmon filets
1/4 cup chopped pistachios
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
4 cups brussels sprouts, halved
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt & pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Begin by tossing the halved brussels sprouts in olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread out on a sheet pan and roast in the oven for 20 minutes or until tender.

While the brussels sprouts cook you can focus on your salmon. To make the topping, combine the pistachios, panko and lemon zest. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour topping over the salmon filets, pressing it on lightly.

Heat a skillet over medium heat and begin cooking your salmon, skin side down. Cook on the stove for about five minutes then transfer the pan into the oven to finish. About another five minutes or until it is cooked to your liking. I prefer mine a bit more well done than most.

Once the brussels sprouts are tender, remove from oven and toss in lemon juice and grated Parmesan.

Serve salmon with the brussels sprouts.


Tomato “Risotto” with Italian Sausage

Confession time – I did not intend to make risotto tonight. I planned on throwing some random rice dish together using leftovers we had in the fridge. But about ten minutes into my improvisation I realized something magical was happening. Not traditional, real risotto but something just as delicious and decadent.

Sure it was just left over brown rice  but I think the key to the dish was the leftover rice. Cooking it a second time helped to achieve that creamy risotto consistency – without using traditional arborio. A delicious accident.

And really, who doesn’t have left over brown rice after getting Chinese takeout?


1 1/2 cups brown rice
1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes
2 links Italian sausage, sliced
1 small onion, diced
1 cup broccoli
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, more if desired
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
Salt & pepper, to taste

Heat a skillet over medium heat with a bit of olive oil. Add the sliced sausage and cook until cooked through, about five minutes. Add onions to skillet and brown. Add tomatoes, broccoli, rice and seasoning. Salt and pepper to taste.


Let mixture simmer for ten minutes or until rice becomes creamy and the broccoli is softened. Stir in cheese until it melts.




Greek Chicken Quinoa Bowls

Monday is the perfect day for a slow cooker meal. Who wants to cook after a manic Monday at the office?! No one. Which makes this recipe for Greek chicken perfect. Another plus? It makes enough for brown bag lunches to bring to work. Add the chicken to the a salad or wrap it in a pita – perfect for a lunchtime break.

In this recipe, frozen chicken simmers all day in oregano, lemon, onions and peppers. When you are ready to eat simply top a bowl of quinoa with the chicken mixture,sautéed zucchini and tzatziki. Quick, easy and delicious. Perfect for a manic Monday.

greek chicken quinoa bowls

Slow cooker chicken:
3 chicken breasts
1 red onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Tzatziki sauce:
1/3 cup plain greek yogurt
1/4 cup grated cucumber
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt & pepper, to taste

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 zucchini, cubed

Place chicken in slow cooker. Mix together onion, garlic, oregano, lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper. Pour mixture over chicken and cook on low for 7 hours.

greek chicken quinoa bowls

Combine all ingredients for the tzatziki sauce and set aside. The longer the sauce sits the better the flavor gets!

greek chicken quinoa bowls

When you are ready to eat, begin to cook the quinoa per the package directions. Sauté the zucchini until tender. Now you are ready to build the bowl!

Begin building your bowl by topping some quinoa with sautéed zucchini and the chicken and onions from the slow cooker. Top with tzatziki.

greek chicken quinoa bowls


Black Bean Burgers

My husband loves burgers but I am not always up for a heavy red meat patty so we compromise with black bean burgers. It is a healthy option that I can throw on a bed of spinach with avocado and he can enjoy between two pieces of bread (with cheese, BBQ sauce and caramelized onions).

And on the plus side its a quick meal – which is perfect for this weekend. Max is teething and refuses to sit calmly for more than ten minutes, which makes cooking (or anything) difficult.

black bean burgers


My teething monster

15 ounce can black beans
1/2 red pepper, diced
2 green onions, diced
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg, whisked
1 tablespoon ground cumin
salt & pepper, to taste
Avocado, sliced
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

Begin by smashing black beans into a rough paste. Add all remaining ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined. You may want to add a bit more bread crumbs depending on how wet the mixture turns out. Form into four patties.

black bean burgers

Heat oil or cooking spray in a pan over medium heat. Cook patties until warmed through, about three minutes per side depending on thickness.

Top patties with cheese and broil until melted. Add sliced avocado.

black bean burgers


Chipotle Turkey Chili

Another cold gray day in Pittsburgh and another batch of turkey chili. The weather has been downright disgusting lately – cold, snow, ice and rain.  The kind of weather than makes you just want to stay in bed and since adults don’t get snow days I had to go into work. The spicy yet smokey chipotle was the perfect cure for a snowy day and added something extra to the simple turkey chili.

*Note – This recipe calls for chipotle in adobo, which is rather spicy. You can reduce the amount of omit it all together – your call!


1 lb ground turkey
1 small onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped chipotle chiles in adobo
2 15oz cans diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon cumin
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon oregano
salt & pepper to taste
15 oz  can black beans
15 oz can kidney beans
1 cup frozen corn
1/4 cup cilantro
1/4 cup green onion, diced

Begin by browning your turkey in a large dutch oven. Add onion, green pepper, chipotle and garlic. Stir until softened – about 5 minutes.

turkey chili

Then add all remaining ingredients, except the cilantro and green onion. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until thickened to your liking.

turkey chili

Top with cilantro and/or green onion.

turkey chili



Money Saving Tips

Everyone has their own money saving tips when it comes to cooking. Take a quick look on Pinterest and you will find pin after pin of information on cooking in bulk, freezer cooking, coupon tips, etc.  Most of these are great tips if that is your style of cooking. However, for someone who loves to cook something different every night – these don’t always work.

So of course, I have  a few of my own that fit my style and love of cooking.


This step is key. Saturday morning I sit down with our local grocery store circulars and check out what’s on sale. Based on the sales, I create a menu of dinners and lunches for the week.

Dry beans
I noticed week after week I was always buying cans of beans – and the price quickly added up. So I made the move to using only dried beans. Unfortunately, this takes a bit more forethought and the slow cooker. But the cost savings is enough for me to think ahead and throw them in the slow cooker with some water the night before.  Here is an easy how to for prepping the beans from the kitchn. 

Bulk grains
Costco is great for this! I have a huge bag of quinoa, brown rice and pasta ready to go in the pantry at all times. I use these all the time and often make a batch of quinoa on Sunday evening to use throughout the week in my lunches since I try to avoid going out to lunch during the week.

Frozen veggies
I know, frozen vegetables get a bad rapt but they are actually healthier than fresh produce and a lot cheaper! But I admit, I only use frozen veggies in certain dishes. Pastas, soups, stir fries – they all get frozen veggies. However, if I want roasted broccoli or potatoes I need to use fresh.

Bulk onions and potatoes
This is obvious but it is so much cheaper to buy bags of onions and potatoes then purchase them individually as you need them. Both of these vegetables keep for a long time and can be kept in your pantry where it is dark and dry.

Things to freeze when they go on sale…
Stock up on oranges, limes and lemons when they go on sale! These can be frozen whole and simply defrosted in the refrigerator when you need them. And if you just need some zest they can be zested while still frozen.

I have a problem – when I crave guacamole I can never find a ripe avocado and they are always hard as rocks. So having a perfectly ripe avocado waiting in the freezer whenever a guac craving hits is perfect! To freeze, simply cut the avocado in half, remove the skin and pit and throw into a freezer bag.

This is obvious, but I always stock up on chicken, pork chops and fish when they go on sale. They freeze beautifully and it is so easy to have them on hand. Just thaw in the fridge while you are at work and the protein is ready to go for dinner when you get home.

I hope these money saving tips help! Hubby and I are saving for new windows – all 26 to be exact – so every bit of savings help.