Monthly Archives: September 2013

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

Dairy-free option | Soy-free | Gluten-free option | Clean-eating option

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.

UPDATE: This is my new go-to to take to new moms. The oats and flax are great for breastmilk supply, and the quick energy is awesome for those early weeks of nursing All. The. Time.

  • 2 cups quick oats (use certified gluten-free if needed)
  • 1 cup Rice Krispies*
  • 1 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips**
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter (we use Natural Jif or Skippy)*
  • 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.

* If you want to keep it 100% clean, use a less-processed brown rice cereal, or sub 2/3 cup more of quick oats, and use fresh-ground peanut butter (though that will make it much harder to mix) or another brand of jarred peanut butter that doesn’t contain refined sugar.

** For dairy- and soy-free, use Enjoy Life brand chips.

Original recipe here.

Linked up at Mommy Solutions

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