Category Archives: Recipes

Sweet potato pancakes.

sweet potato pancakesWell, I’ve done it. I actually managed to get my child sick of one of her favorite foods in the world. Looks like Pancake Friday wasn’t such a great idea after all… So in tribute to the demise of Pancake Friday, I give you my final pancake recipe for awhile.

Now, for the record, these Sweet Potato Pancakes were not the straw that broke the camel’s back. They were amazing. My husband’s cousin asked for the recipe & they were a hit at her house too! These are perfect for fall, & just sweet enough with syrup & a dusting of cinnamon & brown sugar.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 3 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cups mashed baked sweet potatoes (about a tuber & a half)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (I used whole)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted & cooled
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  1. Sift together dry ingredients.
  2. Add remaining ingredients & mix until fully incorporated.
  3. Heat a griddle on medium heat & grease with cooking spray.
  4. Drop 1/4-cupfuls of batter onto hot griddle & cook until edges are set & bubbles begin to form. Flip & cook until both sides are golden.
  5. Serve topped with maple syrup & a dusting of cinnamon & brown sugar.

Adapted from here.

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Pumpkin Apple Cream Cheese Streusel Muffins. Intensely delicious.

Fall is always the most depressing season here in Florida. While friends in other parts of the country & world are posting on Facebook about cooler temperatures, fall leaves, & sweaters, I’ve been in flip flops since February & my A/C is still blaring 24 hours a day. I miss seasons. I miss jeans! It wouldn’t hurt to come home from a run not dripping with sweat either…

So I try to will Fall here to the subtropics from my kitchen. Today’s post is my hail-Mary, 4th-&-goal, “It’s Fall, gosh darn it!”

muffinsThese muffins are intense. Amazing. Fall in a mouthful. And you know what? It worked! We’ve been soaking in torrential rains since Monday afternoon, & the temperature on my dashboard actually started with a 6 this morning! 69 degrees! It’s FALL in Florida!!!

…until it dries out & both temps & humidity go back up to the 80s for at least another month. But you know what? I just wore jeans two days in a row! In September!

Here’s how to bring Fall into your kitchen:

Muffins:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (use the rest of your can to make these & thank me later)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups chopped peeled apples (about 1 1/2 apples. I used Braeburns because they were on sale.)

Cream cheese layer:

  • 6 oz. cream cheese, room temp
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

Streusel:

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 5 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into small cubes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 & line 2 muffin tins with papers. (Yield is about 21 muffins)
  2. Make muffin batter: whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a smallish bowl, mix together pumpkin, eggs, & oil. Mix wet ingredients into dry until incorporated. Stir in apples. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.
  3. Cream cheese mixture: in electric mixer bowl, blend ingredients until smooth. Place a heaping teaspoon on top of batter in each cup.
  4. Streusel: using a pastry blender or 2 forks, cut ingredients together until they form a coarse crumb. Easily the most time-consuming step; I personally have a love-hate relationship with streusel (love to eat it, hate to make it), but trust me, it’s worth it.
  5. Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Optional: top with glaze when cooled (1 cup powdered sugar mixed with 2 Tbsp. milk). But they are insanely delicious without, let me tell you!

muffinLinked up at TidyMom

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Easy Baked Chicken. 5 minutes of prep. Yes, really.

I know all of you moms can relate to this:

When my little one was first born, everything had to be done one-handed &/or at lightning speed, or screaming would ensue. Including dinner. I didn’t think most of my go-to recipes were that time-consuming until I had The Witching Hour to contend with. So I started looking for meals that took literally 5 minutes of prep. They could sit in the oven all they wanted, but hands-on time was at a premium.

Mother-in-law to the rescue!

chicken prepThis easy dinner is adapted from her recipe, and literally takes 5 minutes, especially if you have a bigger kid on hand to crush the crackers for you. The amounts are approximate because I just kind of wing it every time–feel free to do your own improvising! I serve it with seasoned brown rice, which takes longer to cook, so I start it before the chicken. The rice recipe is at the bottom.

  • 1 sleeve Ritz crackers
  • 1 Tbsp. parmesan
  • up to 1 tsp. garlic salt
  • about 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 4 chicken breasts
  1. Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Place the crackers in a Ziploc bag & use a rolling pin to crush them into fine crumbs. Pour into a shallow dish. Add parmesan & garlic salt; stir to combine.
  3. Place sour cream in another shallow dish.
  4. If desired (especially if you’re short on baking time), cut chicken breasts in half.
  5. Coat one piece of chicken in sour cream, then fully coat in crumb mixture. Place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining chicken.
  6. Bake 15-20 minutes or until done in the middle (this is why I cut mine in half; they get done quick & don’t burn).
  7. Serve with seasoned brown rice (below) & salad or fruit.

dinnerSeasoned brown rice

  1. Make brown rice according to package directions, to yield 3-4 servings.
  2. 5 minutes before it’s done, add about 1 Tbsp. butter, up to 1/2 tsp. garlic salt, & about 1 Tbsp. dried parsley.
  3. Serve with chicken.

What are your favorite no-time-flat dinners?

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Whole-wheat blueberry pancakes.

whole wheat blueberry pancakesFriday night has become pancake night at our house. The girls love their pancakes, & it makes my meal planning easier knowing that pancakes will always be that night. But pancake night brings with it 2 challenges: 1) How not to get sick of the same recipe every week, & 2) How to make a carb-heavy meal hearty & healthy. So let’s just say you’ll probably be seeing lots more pancake recipes on here in the future… (If you haven’t seen my banana walnut pancakes yet, go there now. I’ll wait. You can thank me later.)

The base of these whole-wheat blueberry pancakes is remarkably similar to those banana walnut pancakes. It has me thinking that I could probably interchange fruit mix-ins with very little changing of the recipe! Once again, I’ve subbed some Greek yogurt into the original recipe for added protein, & flaxseed for fiber, omega-3s, & general awesomeness. If you still have blueberries in your grocery store, hurry & make these before you have to wait until January for the Chilean ones!

  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 2 Tbsp. flaxseed meal (pour into a 1-cup measuring cup, then add flour below)
  • 1 cup (minus 2 Tbsp.) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk (make by adding 1 Tbsp. white vinegar to a 4-cup measuring cup & filling with milk to the 1-cup line & waiting 5-10 minutes before adding remaining liquid ingredients)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, melted & cooled
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • extra milk for thinning batter (about 1/4 cup)
  • blueberries
  1. Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium bowl.
  2. Combine liquid ingredients in a large measuring cup, then pour into dry ingredients & stir gently until just combined (batter will be lumpy). Stir in milk to reach desired consistency.
  3. Heat a griddle on medium to medium-low heat, then spray with cooking spray. Ladle 1/4-cup portions of batter, then sprinkle several berries in each (extra points from your Munchkins for smiley faces). Let cook until bubbles form in the batter & edges are set, then flip & cook on the other side a few more minutes or until golden brown & done in the middle. Because the batter is relatively thick, a lower temperature for longer may be your best bet.
  4. Repeat with remaining batter & berries, spraying the griddle between every batch or two.
  5. Serve immediately as desired (with additional berries & some cream, or just with plain old maple syrup). Extra pancakes can be frozen & reheated in the toaster.

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Lunch bag: Healthy No-Bake Peanut Butter Balls

peanut butter balls

My 4-year-old’s preschool asks parents to pack healthy snacks that feature at least 2 food groups. This being my first year packing anything resembling a school lunch, of course I’m going over the top looking for fun, healthy snack ideas she’ll eat. This has been my first great victory: they’re easy, she loved helping me make them, they travel well, they’re not messy, & even My Husband The Suspicious Of Anything Labeled “Healthy” gave them his stamp of approval.

  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 1 cup Rice Krispies
  • 1 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mixing gently to not crush the cereal, until well coated.
  2. Use a tablespoon or soup spoon to scoop out tablespoon-sized portions & roll them into balls between your hands. Place them on a parchment- or waxed-paper-lined cookie sheet.
  3. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours. You can serve them now, or place them in a Ziploc bag in the freezer to portion out in your kids’ lunches. They’ll keep a week in the fridge or a few months in the freezer.

Original recipe here.

Linked up at Mommy Solutions

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Double-chocolate avocado whole-wheat muffins.

That’s quite a mouthful of a title, isn’t it? Let’s give them a tastier (i.e. not healthy-sounding) nickname: Happy Chocolate Muffins. Or something.

muffinsWho else has a picky eater in their house? My 15-month-old is ours. She won’t drink milk, so we’re still nursing (even at night – woo-hoo!), & though she’s consistently at around the 90th percentile for height, over the past 6 months we’ve seen her weight drop from 50th… to 30th… to 14th. One month we learned she lost a pound. Yikes! So under doctor’s orders I’ve been trying to find creative ways to incorporate the healthy fats she’s not getting from whole milk or the many foods she won’t eat into foods she will eat. I plan to post some of the tips & tricks I’ve been learning in the near future, but in the meantime, here’s my latest discovery:

Using avocado instead of butter or oil in baked goods.

Huge revelation!

Avocados are amazing. According to WebMD, “Avocados are a good source of fiber, potassium, and vitamins C,K, folate, and B6. Half an avocado has 160 calories, 15 grams of heart-healthy unsaturated fat, and only 2 grams saturated fat. One globe contains more than one-third daily value of vitamin C, and more than half the day’s requirements of vitamin K.”

So after one particularly scary weight check at the doctor’s office, I bought an avocado on sale & then asked my friends on Facebook for ways to sneak it into a picky toddler’s diet. I got tons of great ideas! Smoothies, mashed with bananas (that worked, like, once), & baked into stuff. One friend sent me the recipe below.

On the first try, these were tasty… if a little dense. The original recipe called for using all whole-wheat flour. The girls didn’t seem to mind, but, my husband said it tasted like a “chocolate bran muffin.” I remade them last night with half whole-wheat, half all-purpose, & they were an even bigger hit! If you’re concerned that your kids (or your husband!) will suspect & thus not eat the “healthy” muffins, start with the proportions below; then, if you want to make it healthier, gradually increase the proportion of whole-wheat. And don’t say anything about the avocado; you can’t taste it, & it’ll just give them a reason to turn up their noses at these. There’s no point if they won’t eat them, right? I also added flaxseed for more healthy fats, omega-3s, lignans, & fiber.

The original recipe was for mini-muffins, but since I don’t have a mini-muffin tin (what?!), mine are regular-sized. Mini-muffins are a perfect size to put in your little one’s lunchbox when school starts next month.

  • 2 Tbsp. flaxseed meal (pour into 1-cup measuring cup before adding the flour & then fill the rest with the flour)
  • 1 1/3 cup (minus 2 Tbsp.) all-purpose flour*
  • 1 1/3 cup whole-wheat flour*
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 large, ripe Hass avocado
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (if making mini-muffins, use mini chocolate chips)

* The original recipe calls for all whole-wheat flour, but my family is more likely to eat them this way.

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Spray wells of muffin tin generously with cooking spray. (I tried using papers, but they stuck like crazy. So don’t be like me.)
  2. Sift together dry ingredients.
  3. Beat the avocado & sugar together around 3 minutes, or until smooth. Isn’t that beautiful?avocado
  4. Beat in liquid ingredients. Slowly add dry ingredients, stirring until incorporated.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Spoon into wells of muffin tin. Bake for 18 minutes for regular muffins, or 15 minutes for mini-muffins. Makes 2 dozen regular muffins or 4 dozen mini-muffins.

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Healthed-up banana walnut pancakes.

pancakes

If you were to ask my 4-year-old what she wants for dinner, you’ll almost always hear one of three things: pizza, spaghetti & meatballs, or pancakes. I try to indulge these requests, but those foods aren’t exactly healthy most of the time, so I try to smarten them up a little. We almost always have ripe bananas & walnuts, so I found this recipe & thought of ways to make it a little more nutritious. Whole-wheat flour, flaxseed, & Greek yogurt add fiber, protein, & omega-3s important for developing bodies.

My little girl was so excited that when she blessed the food that night, she said, “Thank thee that we can have banana walnut pancakes.” Frozen & then defrosted, Eggo-style, in the toaster, these babies just put me in contention for Mom of the Year when I told her she could have pancakes for breakfast on a weekday. They’re even tasty without syrup if you need a quick, hearty, on-the-go breakfast for the kids. I make a few without the walnuts for my 1-year-old so she doesn’t choke, & she prefers them without the syrup.

This is our new go-to pancake recipe; I hope it’ll become yours too!

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour (if desired, do 1 cup each of all-purpose & whole wheat)
  • 2 Tbsp. flaxseed meal
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk (make this by pouring 1 Tbsp. white vinegar or lemon juice into a large measuring cup, then fill to the 1-cup line with regular milk & let sit 5 minutes)
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, melted & cooled (I stick it in the freezer a few minutes)
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 small ripe bananas, smashed with fork
  • optional: milk for thinning batter
  • walnuts, roughly chopped
  1. Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. Make your buttermilk in a large (4-cup or so) measuring cup. Add butter & egg; mix well. Stir in yogurt.
  3. Make a well in your dry ingredients, then pour in the liquid ingredients & stir a couple times. Just before it’s combined, stir in bananas. Batter will be lumpy. Don’t overmix. Optional: add a little milk to thin the batter if desired.
  4. Heat a griddle on medium-low to medium. Spray with nonstick cooking spray & use a 1/4-cup measuring cup to pour batter onto your griddle in 4-inch circles. Then sprinkle walnut pieces onto the pancake batter.pancakes
  5. When large bubbles begin to appear, flip the pancakes & cook until golden on the other side as well. Remove to a warm plate lined with a paper towel & keep warm.
  6. Repeat with remaining batter (don’t put walnuts in all of the pancakes if you have a child under 3), spraying the griddle between every batch or two.
  7. Enjoy with maple syrup, or just plain! Freeze leftovers & toast in the toaster (use the “frozen” setting if you have one) for breakfast!

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Vegan for carnivores: Easy creamy tomato basil pasta.

My good friend posted the link to this recipe months ago & raved about its tastiness. I was intrigued, so I pinned it, but I never mustered the courage to actually make it.

Because it’s vegan.

creamy tomato basil pasta

Vegan is a dirty word in our house of meat-eaters. But it looks just so tasty, right?

So one day I took the plunge. I had a backup plan in place–a jar of pasta sauce hiding at the back of the pantry–that I considered employing even as the mixture was simmering. How could cashews possibly make a sauce creamy?

But it worked. Oh boy, did it work. Rich, tomato-basil-garlic heaven. & it was easy!!! Now I understand why my friend raved about it. Fellow carnivores (or at least omnivores), please don’t make the mistake I did & wait forever: make this immediately.

Note: while the original recipe says this makes enough for 2 servings of pasta, I’ve coated a whole pound of pasta in it & it’s worked great. I also add a little more tomato flavor.

  • 2 medium-sized ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2-4 cloves garlic (I use 2), minced
  • up to 1 tsp. salt, or to taste (if you’re not using raw cashews, they’ll have a bit of salt on them already, so you won’t need as much)
  • water or wine, to thin the sauce if desired (I didn’t)
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 cup fresh basil, finely chopped (if you, like me, don’t buy fresh herbs often, the small plastic package of basil that hangs out in the refrigerated part of the produce section is just enough for this recipe)
  • up to 1 lb. of pasta of your choice
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes & toss them, seeds & all into your blender. Add the cashews, water, & tomato paste, & puree until smooth.
  2. Add the pasta to the boiling water & cook as directed. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan on medium-low. Add the garlic & saute a couple minutes, taking care not to burn it. Add the contents of the blender. Bring it to a simmer; add the salt.
  3. Let it simmer 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add water or wine to thin if desired.
  4. Remove sauce from heat; stir in pepper & basil.
  5. When pasta is done cooking, rinse, drain, & return to pot. Slowly add the sauce until it looks coated enough for your taste. Stir & serve immediately.
  6. Leftovers refrigerate & reheat well!

Aside from the tastiness, healthiness, & easiness of this recipe, The Toddler Who Won’t Eat Anything ATE THIS!!!

yum!

WIN!

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One-ingredient ice cream.

I’ve missed sharing ideas with people! I’ve decided to set a goal of posting at least once a week. Now that The Mini-Munchkin is about the same age that The Munchkin was when I started this, I feel like I can take the time to set up more good photos & write some more. Though the girls are so big now, I don’t think I could call either of them Munchkin anymore. I’m currently accepting nominations for new aliases for my 4- & 1-year-olds.

But so that I don’t bite off more than I can chew, let’s start with something easy, shall we?

banana swirl

This ice cream has one ingredient: bananas.

It’s easy to make. It’s fat-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, & delicious.

It’s been making the Pinterest rounds, & even Daniel Tiger on PBS is getting into the act; my 4-year-old informed me that this comes from one of his shows & is called “Banana Swirl.”

Instructions:

Just take about 1 ripe (but not banana-bread ripe; I made that mistake this first time. Think still yellow.) banana per person, cut them into thirds or quarters, & freeze. I just stuck mine in a Ziploc baggie. After a couple of hours, remove them from the freezer, stick them in your blender or food processor, & pulverize. The “snow” setting on my Breville worked like a dream. After a couple of minutes, you should see smooth, soft-serve-looking “banana swirl.” That’s it!

Why does this happen? Bananas have high pectin levels. Pectin is the gelling agent that you add when you make jam. It acts as a stabilizer to create that creamy texture. Mangoes apparently also have high pectin levels & would likely produce the same effect if frozen & blended.

This is a great treat for summertime. We made ours to refuel after gymnastics, but I’m thinking one morning I might top it with fruit & granola & serve “ice cream” for breakfast, just to shake things up a bit! What do you think of that?

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Roasted squash and bacon pasta.

butternut squash pasta

So am I posting regularly now? I don’t know… Not regularly enough to use a real camera to photograph dinner tonight, apparently. All we have is this Instagram shot. But this is a tasty dish, no matter how blurry or dark it may look. Several people on Facebook asked for the recipe after seeing said Instagram shot, so I figured I’d post it here for the good of all.

It came from Williams-Sonoma’s One Pot cookbook, which has some real gems if you’re looking for meals that are quick but unique. When my mother-in-law first sent it to me (she got it out of the clearance bin at Deseret Book), this was one of the first recipes that caught my eye. But Husband said he didn’t like squash, & besides, winter squash was out of season. So when the southern-hemisphere stuff started showing up in my grocery store, I ignored my husband & made it anyway. Everyone — including him — loved it (ha! So there!), though I will say that (Almost) One-Year-Old preferred gnawing the raw squash to the cooked, seasoned stuff. It takes less than 30 minutes start to finish & only dirties a pasta pot, a cutting board, & a baking sheet, plus some assorted utensils.

  • 2 lbs. butternut or other winter squash, peeled, seeded, & cut into small (1/2-inch) cubes
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved & thinly sliced on a mandoline
  • 4 strips thick-cut bacon (though I used regular and it was just fine)
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh sage (I used scant 1/2 Tbsp. rubbed sage)
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 lb. pasta: rigatoni, farfalle, or other chunky shape
  • 1/2 cup parmesan, freshly grated (or… not), plus more for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Toss squash, onion, & bacon with the oil. Sprinkle with sage & season with salt & pepper. Spread in a single layer.
  3. Roast until squash is caramelized & tender & bacon is getting crispy, 15-20 minutes. Remove & set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta & cook according to package directions, making sure to reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water prior to draining. Return pasta to the pot.
  5. Use a wooden spoon to free any of the squash mixture that may be sticking to the foil, then lift the foil off of the baking sheet & use it to funnel the squash into the pot with the pasta.
  6. Toss for 1 minute over high heat, adding as much of the pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce.
  7. Add parmesan, toss, & serve.

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