Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Chocolate Almond Coconut Granola

It's been a while since I've been this excited about a recipe but... holy smokes, y'all.  I am in love with this granola!

I recently saw a recipe for Triple Chocolate Crunch Granola and knew that was something I needed to try.  But shortly thereafter, I was inspired by a very nice representative from Nuts.com* to develop a recipe using almonds.  I had the idea to make a chocolate granola, with almonds... and coconut.

For a coconut lover like me, that's essentially a trifecta of deliciousness.  Almond joy-ous, if you will!  Plus I keep hearing about all the health benefits of almonds and coconut oil, so I feel like it's an indulgence you don't have to feel too guilty about.

And while I had a pretty decent first attempt at this, I tweaked a few things and my second try was spot on.  I have been sneaking handfuls of this stuff every time I walk by the container.  It's addicting!

Honestly.  The photo session was like 30% shooting, 70% snacking.

Soo good.

I just feel badly for Mr. Vittles-- he's not big fan of granola, and he's REALLY not a fan of people crunching food in his presence.  It's a weird pet peeve of his.

I didn't realize how super crunchy this granola really is until The Mini was chomping away on some as her "after-dinner treat" the other night.  Pretty much her dad's worst nightmare.  I wasn't sure if I should be more worried about her tiny teeth chipping, or his soul being crushed with every bite.

So... uh, sorry, Mr. V.  But everyone else - you're welcome!

Chocolate Almond Coconut Granola
  • 2 1/2 C. old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
  • 1/2 C. sliced almonds
  • 1/2 C. sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1/4. C. agave nectar
  • 1/3 C. dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 C. coconut oil (use unrefined for coconut flavor)
  • 1 T. almond butter
  • 1/2 C. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 t. salt
  • 2/3 C. mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a baking sheet with parchment or nonstick foil, & set aside.

In large bowl, mix oats with almonds and coconut until evenly distributed.  Set aside.

In small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine agave, brown sugar, coconut oil, and almond butter.  Stir until oil and almond butter are melted, then add cocoa powder.  Mix until no lumps remain (mixture will be thick, like brownie batter).

Remove saucepan from heat and stir in vanilla and salt.  Add to oat mixture, and use clean hands to coat oats with cocoa mixture until evenly covered. (I know this is messy, but I recommend using your hands because you'll be able to coat the dry ingredients more thoroughly if you stir & squeeze the ingredients through your fingers.)

Spread granola evenly onto prepared sheet, and bake for 30 minutes, stirring well but gently every 10 minutes with a rubber spatula.  Remove from oven, and immediately sprinkle with mini chocolate chips.  Stir well to form larger clusters of granola, then spread back out evenly on pan to cool.  Place pan on wire rack until granola has cooled completely & chocolate has hardened (2-3 hours). Store in airtight container.

Recipe Loosely Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

*Note: I did not receive any free samples or compensation from Nuts.com when collaborating on this post.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Red Velvet Frozen Yogurt

Four years ago, I made a really yummy red velvet ice cream, and ever since I've been wanting to try my hand at a red velvet frozen yogurt.

Clearly I was not in any particular hurry, but hey - better late than never.

With Valentine's Day again right around the corner, this is a nice, festive recipe.

For me, it's also a frozen treat my daughter can eat that's not hanging off the side of my house.

(Yes... that is an icicle.)

Ever since the "Great Blizzard of 2015" a couple weeks ago (which turned out to be nothing more than a regular snow storm in our parts), the Mini has been asking for another "ike-icle snack."

Leave it to my child to find something to munch on while playing in the snow.

In any event, since the main ingredient here is whole milk Greek yogurt, this is much tangier than ice cream.  To someone like Mr. Vittles, who is not a fan of yogurt, this was a great disappointment.  But not to me!  I looove yogurt, especially thick and creamy Greek-style - so I say, bring on the tang.

I will caution you, however, this frozen yogurt is best eaten right out of the ice cream maker.  That's when it will have a consistency closest to what you'd find in a yogurt shop. If you do freeze it for later, make sure you let it sit on the counter for about 15-20 minutes before trying to serve it.  This is how I was able to scoop it to take the photos seen here.

If you choose to add alcohol, that should help make it easier to scoop - but just keep in mind it will still be quite firm.

Red Velvet Frozen Yogurt 

  • 1/2 C. sugar
  • 2 1/2 t. cocoa powder
  • 1 oz. white baking chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2/3 C. half and half
  • 2 T. light corn syrup
  • 1 t. red food coloring
  • 2 C. plain whole milk Greek yogurt (such as Chobani)
  • 3 T. vodka, optional if planning to freeze for later*

In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and cocoa powder until no lumps remain.  Set aside.

Over double boiler, combine white chocolate and half and half.  Heat, whisking frequently, until chocolate is melted.  Add sugar and cocoa, and whisk until dissolved.

Remove from heat, and add corn syrup and red food coloring. Whisk to thoroughly combine. Let cool slightly, then fold in yogurt with rubber spatula.  Once yogurt is incorporated, whisk mixture until smooth and no streaks remain.

Chill in refrigerator until mixture is cold (about 2 hours). Then churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions (I have a Cuisinart, and I churned for about 25 minutes). During last few minutes of churning, add vodka if using.  Serve immediately, or store in freezer in airtight container.

*The vodka helps give the mixture a more scoopable consistency if you plan on freezing for later. If you don't use it, I would recommend letting the yogurt sit on the counter a bit to soften before trying to scoop it.

Original Recipe

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Mary's Cowboy Caviar

Today, I have for you a special treat. Not only is this bean "salsa" amazing, but one of my favorite people in the world offered to share her recipe and a post. Take it away, Mary!

Hello! My name is Mary and I am super excited about being a guest blogger today! To start, Maggie and I have been friends since high school, and I am actually shocked she asked me (well I may have gently suggested) that I guest blog for her! As it with most friendships, as we get older it gets harder and harder to find time to catch up. We decided though to make the time to get together and catch up over the holiday. 

My friends and I were all going to bring something to eat to Maggie’s. Now as they know I am not a cook...at all. However I do have one ace up my sleeve, a great bean dip known as Cowboy Caviar which I bring everywhere I go, and it’s become a hit with a lot of people. 

My sister-in-law gave me the recipe, who had gotten it from someone else- so I am not sure of the origin. But it’s delicious and easy, and everyone loves it!

Cowboy Caviar

1/2 C. oil (I use canola)
1/2 C. apple cider vinegar
1/2 C. sugar
1 t. salt

1 can black beans
1 can black-eyed peas
1 can shoe peg corn
1 C. chopped green pepper
1 C. chopped red pepper
1/2 C. chopped scallions

Make dressing first so it can cool: put dressing ingredients in pot, and boil until sugar is dissolved.

Meanwhile, pour beans, peas, corn in a colander to drain liquid and rinse well. Add all to a big bowl. Mix well, and pour dressing when cooled. Best to chill at least 4 hours, and prior to serving drain some of the liquid. Serve with tortilla chips.

Family Recipe - Origin Unknown

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Cranberry Salsa

I don't know how, but this happens to me every year - Christmas sneaks up on me!

I love this time of year but I do wish it wasn't so busy.  In the desire to see our loved ones and celebrate the holiday (as well as December birthdays!), it can get a little hectic and stressful.

This holiday season has luckily been pretty low-stress for me so far... our decorations are up, my cards are mailed, I have my shopping done, and this week I've even been able to fit in some baking.

If I can just finish my wrapping, I'll be in good shape!

But that leaves little time for blogging.  When I'm not working, it seems I'm either busy around the house, or watching the movie Frozen for the umpteenth time with the Mini.  (I know we're a little late on the bandwagon, but she only turned 2 in October - so this is the first time she's had enough of an attention span to watch even part of a movie.  Be careful what you wish for, by the way.  Saturday we watched it 3 times in a row!)

So anyway, I actually made this yummy salsa for Thanksgiving... but 'tis still the season for cranberries!  This comes together quickly, and would be a festive addition to your holiday appetizer table.

Feel free to experiment with the amount of sugar and jalapeno in the recipe.  I would start out with less and add more if necessary, to suit your taste. If you like spicy, you might consider more than the two jalapenos.

More importantly - I wish you and your families a wonderful holiday and a happy, healthy 2015!

Cranberry Salsa

  • 1 12-oz. pkg. fresh cranberries
  • 1/3 C. sugar (or, to taste)
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 1/2 C. packed cilantro leaves
  • 2 fresh jalapenos, stemmed & seeded
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 t. kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in food processor, and pulse until coarsely chopped. For best results, refrigerate overnight or at least 3 hours before serving.

Slightly Adapted from Recipe of Unknown Source

Sunday, November 16, 2014

(Flourless) Peanut Butter Blossoms

Sometimes, you think you know a person.

Seven years ago in October, I met Mr. Vittles.  Five years ago (from almost the same day) I married him.

Two days ago... I found out his favorite cookie.

Friday I had gotten a flourless peanut butter blossom recipe from someone at work, but it had a few ingredients I was unsure of.  So I did a quick internet search and found a recipe that had only peanut butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla in the dough.

I was still a little skeptical that it would make a good cookie, but it looked so easy it was worth a potential fail.  Especially when I took into consideration the only person I'd be disappointing is myself. 

Or so I thought.

When I took them out of the oven Friday night, Mr. Vittles asked "Are those gluten-free?"  

"Ummm... yes, duh, I'm eating them."

But apparently his actual question was whether or not the original peanut butter blossom recipe is gluten-free.  I said that I didn't think so, but I honestly didn't know - I hadn't made them in years.  I thought maybe my mother-in-law would know, because she usually makes them at Christmas.

That's when he said "Yeah I know. Those are my favorite cookies."


All this time I had thought his favorite cookies were scotcheroos, a chocolate & butterscotch crispy rice cookie that his grandmother makes.  But apparently I was wrong.  Peanut butter blossoms take the #1 spot on his cookie list.

Who knew???

Then I figured these would be a huge disappointment to a Blossom Connoisseur such as himself.  The first pan I made wasn't even rolled in sugar, and he loooves his treats sweet.  So I tried to redeem the second pan by rolling them in coarse sugar.  

Much to my surprise, he said they were more peanut-buttery than his mom's, but still really good.  Success!

On another note... I would like to dedicate this post to my mom, who would have been 60 years old today.  

We just celebrated my dad's upcoming 60th birthday with a fabulous surprise party, and I only wish that she was here to celebrate as well.

She is the one who fostered my love of baking and creating, and I know she would love the idea of this blog.  

Mom, I miss you every day, and thank you for everything.  I would not be the person I am today were it not for you.  I hope you are somewhere having a huge piece of cake that's as delicious as all the treats you baked for us over the years.  Pssst... I love you!

(Flourless) Peanut Butter Blossoms
  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter (I used Jif's Natural creamy peanut butter)
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar 
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 14 Hershey's milk chocolate kisses
  • Extra sugar, for rolling (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Unwrap chocolate kisses, and set aside.  Line a baking sheet with nonstick foil or parchment paper, and set aside as well.

In a medium bowl, combine peanut butter, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla.  Stir until well-combined.  If rolling balls in sugar, place some in a shallow dish.  Wet hands until damp, then roll about 1 Tablespoon of dough into a ball.  Roll in sugar (if using) and place balls onto prepared baking sheet at least an inch apart. 

Bake 10-12 minutes until set and lightly browned (although dough will still be soft).  After removing from oven, press a chocolate kiss into the center of each cookie.  Let cool on baking sheet for 5-10 minutes, before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 14 cookies.  Recipe slightly adapted from nutritiouseats.com 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins

Fall is undoubtedly my favorite season. The cool, crisp air.... the leaves crunching under your feet... Halloween... and of course, the apples and pumpkins.

It's only natural that I would try to foster the same love of everything autumn in the Mini.

So we have been reading books about Halloween and Fall- mostly in an attempt to persuade her to put on her Halloween costume- but we inadvertently created a pumpkin-loving monster.

She points them out everywhere.  On walks, at the store, driving in the car.  "Mommy look! Punkins!"

So we thought bringing her to the pumpkin "patch" last weekend would be the greatest thing ever.  Better yet, they offer pumpkins at the orchard where we pick apples every year, so we figured we'd kill two birds with one stone.

At first it was great...

...but after about ten minutes of apple-picking, she was turning into Grumplestilksin.  It was no fun that Mommy kept trying to take pictures and wouldn't let her pick up the rotten apples on the ground, or run around with giant sticks.  So she refused to smile for any photos, and said she didn't want to pick out a pumpkin.

Although she did eventually come around a little, and tried to carry her pumpkin to the wagon.

But alas, it was too heavy.

Who knew the pumpkin patch would be a field of disappointments.

But the good news is, Mini has never met a pumpkin muffin she didn't like.  Even these gluten-free ones, which no one will even guess are missing wheat flour!

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins

  • 2 C. Gluten-Free Flour Blend* (see below)
  • 2/3 C. firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 C. sugar
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. ground ginger
  • 1/8 t. ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 t. ground cloves
  • 6 T. butter, melted
  • 3/4 C. canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 C. buttermilk**
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 t. pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place paper baking cups into 12-cup muffin pan cup, or grease cups. Set aside.

Combine flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.  Whisk to combine.

In smaller bowl, whisk butter, pumpkin, buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla.  Stir into flour mixture just until moistened.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes; remove from pan & cool completely on wire rack.  Makes 12 + muffins.  Store muffins in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

*Gluten-Free Flour Blend: Combine 2 cups rice flour, 2/3 cup potato starch, 1/3 cup tapioca flour and 1 teaspoon xanthan gum. Use appropriate amount for recipe; store remainder in air-tight container. Stir before using.

**If you don't have buttermilk, substitute 1 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice plus enough milk to equal 1/3 cup.  Let stand 5 minutes

Recipe Adapted Slightly from Land O Lakes

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Roasted Tomato & Jalapeno Salsa

Mr. Vittles and I have grown our own veggies almost every year since we met.

Some years have definitely been more successful than others.  Before we owned a home, we would plant everything in containers on our deck, but last summer was our first time having a "real" garden space.

Interestingly enough, it was our worst crop to date.

Thankfully, this year we redeemed ourselves, and I think next year will be even better now that we've had two growing seasons in our home to learn from our mistakes.

One thing I learned this summer was to let Mr. Vittles do all the harvesting.  He got rather prickly when I picked a bell pepper before it was apparently 'ready.'  Jeez... do NOT mess with a man and his peppers.  Just sayin'.

Anyway, our jalapeno and tomato plants were going crazy toward the end of summer, and I could not keep up.  I love a good caprese salad, but we were getting tired of that, and there is only so much one can do with fresh tomatoes!  And I was really at a loss with the jalapenos, because even if I would use a sprinkling here & there in various dishes, there was always a bunch still left.

So I made this slightly time-consuming salsa, and it killed two birds with one stone... used up our veggies, and tasted amazing.  Totally worth the extra time and effort of roasting.

In fact, I'm not gonna lie - I basically had a dinner of chips and salsa a couple nights after I made it.

And even the Mini enjoyed it!  My dad & stepmom were over a little while after it was finished, and we were all hanging out on our deck.  I put the salsa out with some chips, and my dad (her Poppa) was breaking off chips for her - naturally, she wanted to dunk them in the salsa, too.  He was a little skeptical that it would be too hot, but I knew she likes other spicy things, so I figured we should let her try it.  Lo and behold, she loved it.

The next day, just Mini and I were sitting on the deck in the very same place.  She got a far-off look in her eye and said "Poppa.  Chips.  Hot."

Dreaming of food - that's mommy's girl.

And that's how memorable the salsa was!

Roasted Tomato & Jalapeno Salsa

  • 1 1/2 lb. ripe whole tomatoes (about 10 medium), preferably plum
  • 2-3 fresh jalapeño peppers, stemmed (amount depends on your preference for spicy & also size of the peppers)
  • Half of a small white onion, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rings
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/3 C. chopped fresh cilantro, loosely packed
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 1/2 t. cider vinegar

Preheat the broiler on high. Lay the whole tomatoes and jalapeños out on a broiler pan or baking sheet. Set the pan 4 inches below the flame and broil for about 6 minutes, until darkly roasted on one side.  The tomatoes may split and lose some juices. Using a pair of tongs, flip over the tomatoes and chiles and roast the other side for approximately 6 more minutes. The tomatoes may get charred on the outside, but the idea is to cook them through. Set aside to cool.

Turn off broiler, and preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place onion rings & garlic on another baking sheet, and roast in the oven, stirring every couple minutes, until the onions are browned and wilted and the garlic is soft and browned in spots (approximately 15 minutes). Cool to room temperature.

Peel the cooled tomatoes with your fingers and cut out the cores, working over your baking sheet to keep all the juices. Place whole jalapenos with the onion and garlic in food processor and process until finely chopped, scraping everything down with a spatula as needed. Place jalapeno mixture into a large bowl.  Without washing the processor, coarsely puree the tomatoes & excess juice from baking sheet.  Then add them to the bowl with cilantro, and stir to combine.  If needed, stir in some water to achieve a spoonable consistency.  Add salt & vinegar to taste, using ingredient amounts as guidelines.  Can be eaten immediately, or covered & refrigerated for up to 5 days.

Recipe Slightly Adapted from Rick Bayless with JeanMarie Brownson and Deann Groen Bayless, as found on Epicurious

Friday, September 5, 2014

Coconut Water Strawberry Banana Smoothie

I hope everyone enjoyed their Labor Day weekend - the official "last hurrah" of summer!

We spent a good portion of it at the beach with family.

Long Beach Island, NJ with cousins 

Point Pleasant Beach, NJ with Poppa & CandiGram

I find it incredible that The Mini started summer afraid of the ocean, and now she can't get enough.  Amazing what a few months can do!

Overall, though, I'm just not sure where summer went this year.  I think in large part it hardly felt like summer because we had so many unseasonably cool days.

Except for this week when it decided it would make a September appearance with extreme humidity and near-90 degree temps!  Weather like that makes me want a refreshing smoothie.

Cocozia* was nice enough to send me a case of their organic coconut water for review here on the blog, and so my first thought was to create a smoothie with it.

Personally, I find that coconut water has a bit of a peculiar taste - which is not to say that it's bad, but rather nothing like you would typically associate with "coconut."  However, I started drinking it a few years ago because of its supposed health benefits, and grew to enjoy the taste.  Cocozia happens to be one of the better ones I've tasted, and I love that it's organic.

Especially because I like to give it to The Mini - she thinks it's juice, and is perfectly content to drink it plain over ice.  Sometimes I throw some fresh raspberries or sliced strawberries in it, and she thinks its fancy.

But make it a smoothie, pour it in her Princess cup, and now you're really speaking her language!

Coconut Water Strawberry Banana Smoothie

  • 1 C. coconut water
  • 1 C. plain yogurt
  • 1 banana
  • 1 C. frozen strawberries
  • sweetener, if desired (honey, agave, or sugar to taste)

Place all ingredients in blender, in the order listed above.  Blend until smooth.  Makes 1-2 servings.

Original Recipe

*Special thank you to Cocozia for allowing us to sample their coconut water at no cost. Please note that I did not receive any compensation to write this post, and it reflects my personal opinion.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Turkey Meatloaf

A couple of months ago, one of my coworkers asked if I had a classic meatloaf recipe.

I immediately went to V&B, thinking I could just forward her the link ... when I realized I do not have a "traditional" meatloaf on my blog!  I couldn't believe it.  I make this recipe often, in a rotation with buffalo chicken meatloaf (which is now also a staple in our household.)

So I wanted to remedy this oversight immediately, but it's usually tough to snap a decent picture during the madness of weekday mealtimes.  Which meant I had to wait until I made it on a weekend... and the pictures are still pretty rugged, haha!

Look, as I've lamented before, it's tough to make a mound of barf-colored meat look 'sexy.'  I think I've gotten a little better, but this time I also had a hungry Mini Smalls circling like a shark.

Don't mess with the Mini when she's ready to eat - trust me, the girl is serious about her chow.  Does this look like the face of an amateur to you?

Don't be fooled by the kitty in the bottom of her bowl.  She's hardcore, I tell you.  Ruthless.

(I think she gets it from her momma - I get "hangry" too.)

In any event, I promise the taste makes up for my poor food styling & photography skills!

Turkey Meatloaf

  • 16 oz. ground turkey (I use 94% lean)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T. milk
  • 1/2 C. plain breadcrumbs
  • 1 t. garlic powder
  • 3/4 t. onion powder
  • 2 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 T. dijon mustard
  • 2 T. fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 t. salt
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste

  • 1/3 C. ketchup
  • 1 T. barbecue sauce
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • 1 T. apple cider vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease a glass pie pan or 8" square baking dish, and set
aside.  (If you like to make it in a loaf pan that's fine too, but I prefer to a larger dish so the end result is less greasy.)

Whisk eggs & milk in large bowl.  Add breadcrumbs, garlic & onion powders, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, parsley, salt, and pepper.  Stir to combine.  Add ground turkey and mix well with hands until
thoroughly combined.

Form into a mound in prepared pan/dish and bake 50 minutes.  In bowl, prepare glaze by combining ketchup, barbecue sauce, brown sugar, and apple cider vinegar.  Spread over meat, and bake an additional 15 minutes.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.  Serves 2-4 people.

Original Recipe

Friday, July 4, 2014

Baked Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

Happy 4th of July y'all!

It's currently raining here, courtesy of Hurricane Arthur, so there is not much celebrating to report from the Vittles household.

The rest of the holiday weekend is supposed to be beautiful, but I knew most of today was supposed to be a wash.  So last night I made this oatmeal to bake in the morning.  

I never liked oatmeal until recently, though I was also never sure why.  Much like hot tea, it seems like something I would enjoy, yet every time I had it I found it to be... bleh.

I still don't know what brought me around to it.  Maybe the fact that I started feeding it to the Mini, and eating her inevitable leftovers?  Maybe the fact that I started having it with a little brown sugar and cinnamon?  Maybe the fact that I don't have a lot of "hearty" breakfast options since going gluten-free?

Not really sure.  But in the meantime, the Mini is also starting to get a little more discerning with her tastes - she has started asking for specific things at mealtime, and refusing others.  (Our newest favorite is cherries.)  But so far, this has been a hit.  

It's also great left-over, so no worries if you don't eat the whole pan.

Hope everyone has a fun & safe holiday - Happy Birthday, America!

Baked Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
  • 2 C. uncooked quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 C. packed brown sugar 
  • 1 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 t. ground cloves
  • pinch salt
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 C. milk
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 C. unsweetened applesauce 
  • 2 T. butter, melted 
  • 1 large egg, beaten 
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored & diced

Preheat oven to 375°.  Grease an 8" square baking dish with cooking spray, and set aside.*

In a large bowl, whisk together the oats through baking powder, & set aside.  In separate bowl, combine the milk, vanilla, applesauce, butter, and egg.

Add milk mixture to oat mixture; stir well. Fold in diced apples. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish & bake for 20-25 minutes, or until set in middle. Allow to cool 5 minutes, then serve warm.

*Note: This recipe can be made the night before, and stored in the refrigerator.  If making ahead, skip the step of preheating oven until ready to bake.  Also you may need to add an extra few minutes to bake time.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light, as posted on MyRecipes.com

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Red White & Blue Mini Vanilla Cheesecakes

Strawberries have always been one of my favorite things about summer.

Much like my obsession with pumpkin in the fall, we always have plenty of strawberries on hand during the summer.  I look for any excuse to eat them or use them in recipes!

Now it seems our Mini has inherited this love as well, except she refers to them as "strawbees."

Not long ago she went strawbee picking with some of her cousins, and apparently took her job very seriously.

I was also told that she did not eat one single, solitary strawberry while they were at the orchard!

She made up for it at home of course, but I was still able to snag a few to adorn these mini cheesecakes.

I am loving this recipe because you get to enjoy the creamy richness of a cheesecake without having to deal with the fickleness of baking one that's full-sized.

And... you get to cover them with blueberries and "strawbees" (or any other fruit of your choice.)  But of course, I love the red, white & blue theme for the 4th of July!

Red, White, & Blue Mini Vanilla Cheesecakes

  • 1 1/2 C. graham cracker crumbs
  • 5 T. melted butter
  • 3 T. sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 (8-oz. packages) cream cheese*, room temperature
  • 2/3 C. sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeded
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 t. pure vanilla extract
  • Sliced strawberries & blueberries, for decoration

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line one 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.**

Mix together graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, 3 T. sugar, and salt. Place 2 tablespoons of the graham cracker mixture into bottom of paper liners. Using the bottom of a small juice glass or your hands, press mixture down firmly into each cup.

Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese, 2/3 C. sugar, and vanilla bean scrapings until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla extract, and beat well.

Divide batter evenly amongst cups (each should be about 3/4 full). Bake for 22 to 24 minutes, or until the centers are just set. Cool in pan on wire rack, then transfer to plate and chill for 4 hours or overnight in an airtight container.

Before serving, top with sliced strawberries & whole blueberries.  Makes 12 cupcakes.  Cupcakes are good for 3-5 days when refrigerated.

*You can substitute Neufchâtel for some or all of the cream cheese, that is what I used for a slightly lower fat version.
**I really like the Reynolds StayBrite® baking cups (available in most grocery stores) for these, because they are thick and peel away from the cheesecakes easily.

Recipe Adapted Slightly from Bree at goboldwithbutter.com

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Corn, Tomato & Basil Salad

I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day!

Here at the Jersey Shore, Memorial Day weekend is the official start of summer.

And I am psyched to break out some new summer recipes with you guys.

This one came from my friend Pauline, who got it from her mother-in-law.  I'm not sure where she got it from, so I apologize in advance for not properly crediting the source.  But I had this at their house last summer, and had to get the recipe.  It is super easy, has simple ingredients, and is really refreshing.

In fact, this salad is so delicious that The Mini actually reversed her ban on tomatoes.  Yup - cut up tomatoes were a food I tried early and often, but to no avail until I gave her a bowl of this salad.  I think it's the garlic and basil, which obviously makes everything delicious. (Although now she will even eat tomatoes plain, go figure.)

I can't complain too much though, because she has actually been a great eater for the most part.  I am just crossing my fingers that toddler-hood doesn't ruin that!  I know most kids get more fickle with age, and I was pretty much the poster child of picky.  Family folklore tells me that when I was a baby, I actually ate (and enjoyed!) a wide variety of foods.  My only memory, however, is subsisting on chicken nuggets, yogurt, and mac & cheese for about the next 12 years of my life.


I cringe just thinking about it.  I really don't know how that happened because my parents both love food.... but let's hope we don't repeat that.  Although I'm sure my mom is somewhere chuckling & saying, "Ohh, just wait.  She's only 1 1/2!"

So until then I guess I'll just be happy that we can all enjoy this summer treat together :)

Corn, Tomato & Basil Salad

  • 12-oz. bag frozen corn (about 3 cups, or the kernels removed from about 6 cobs)
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 C. fresh basil, thinly sliced
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2 T. white vinegar
  • kosher salt & ground pepper, to taste

Season tomatoes with some kosher salt, stir, and set aside in a colander to draw the juices out.  (This is an optional step, it just takes some of the liquid out of your finished salad).

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add minced garlic, and saute about 1 minute - do not brown.  Add corn kernels (still frozen is fine) and saute about 4 minutes, until just cooked through.

Remove pan from heat and add half of the sliced basil.  Season mixture with salt & pepper & transfer to a bowl.  Stir to combine.  Allow to cool slightly, stirring occasionally.  Stir in tomatoes, vinegar, and remaining basil.  Adjust salt & pepper to taste.  Cover & chill 3-8 hours, or can be served immediately.

Family Recipe - Origin Unknown


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