Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

I swear.... I don't only eat bananas! I just happen to be blogging about them a lot lately. And, I absolutely love them in baked goods. The irony of it all is that my sister has some sort of allergy to them, and can't enjoy any of my goodies.

Since my sister can't share in my love of baked banana goods, I made these banana chocolate chip cookies and brought them to work to share with my co-workers and they were a big hit! So, hopefully, you enjoy this recipe as much as I did (and my co-workers did)! These cookies were soft, chewy, and just so delicious! With no white flour or oil, and just small amounts of sugar and butter, these are pretty healthy for a cookie as well!


Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

Original recipe found on sparkrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 4 small-medium ripe bananas
  • 4 tablespoon butter (I used no-salt butter)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degree farenheit. 
  • Mash bananas and set aside. 
  • Mix together eggs, butter, vanilla, and mashed bananas in a bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, mix flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda.

  • Mix all the ingredients together. Once well-blended, add chocolate chips.

  • Scoop 1 tablespoon size balls and put on non-stick cookie sheet.

  • Bake at 350 for 13 minutes.

I doubled the original recipe and I was glad I did because it did not make as many as it said. I have used the measurements for the doubled recipe above, so you use right the measurements. Plus, whatever, you can't eat now, throw in the freezer and eat later!

xox,
Amy

Monday, June 24, 2013

Brie and Fig En Croute

We all have our food weaknesses... sweets, bread, red meat... right?! Well I happen to have a few weaknesses (it's true, I love food); one particular food I can and will never turn down is CHEESE! Seriously, I have never met a cheese I didn't like...

Did you know there are over 550 different specialty cheeses from over 57 countries!?!?

"Cheese is a food derived from milk, produced in a wide range of flavors, textures, and forms. It consists of proteins and fat from milk, usually the milk of cows, buffalo, goats, or sheep. Hundreds of types of cheese from various countries are produced. Their styles, textures and flavors depend on the origin of the milk (including the animal's diet), whether they have been pasteurized, the butterfat content, the bacteria and mold, the processing, and aging. Herbs, spices, or wood smoke may be used as flavoring agents."
via Wikipedia.com

Well I have not sampled all 550 specialty cheeses yet, but I'm well on my way! Hummm, that sounds like a bucket-list item to me... :)

Anyway, tonight I am having a friend and her mom over for some appetizers and wine. Guess what we're having!?! Yep... CHEESE!!!! Well, we're having Brie wrapped in puff pastry and topped with fig jam and red pepper flakes to be exact. This delicious Brie and Fig En Croute recipe was created by my mom; it's actually super quick and easy to make but looks so elegant your guests will think you spent hours putting it together!



Brie and Fig En Croute

Ingredients:
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, pre-packaged
1 (8 ounce) wheel Brie
4 ounces fig jam
red pepper flakes, to taste
1 egg, beaten
crackers, baguette, or apples for serving

Directions:
Defrost puff pastry for approximately 15 to 20 minutes and unfold.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Lay the puff pastry out flat on a cookie sheet. Trim the brine off the top of the Brie wheel and then place Brie in the center of the puff pastry.


In a small microwavable bowl, combine fig jam and red pepper flakes. Microwave for 20-30 seconds and stir well. Add jam mixture to the top of the brie wheel.


Gather up the edges of the pastry, pressing around the brie and gather at the top. Gently squeeze together the excess dough and tie together with a piece of kitchen twine.


Brush the beaten egg over top and side of pastry.


Bake for 20 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.


Serve warm.




This is my one of my favorite cheese appetizer recipes!!! I guarantee your guests will go crazy over it... unless they don't like cheese, that is. But really, who doesn't like cheese??

*Janel*



Sunday, June 23, 2013

Spinach, Bacon, Swiss Omelette

They might seem like a lot of work... but omelettes are one of the easiest and quickest breakfast dishes! Not only can you make them healthy and low-calorie (with egg whites and reduced fat milk and cheese), they are also a great way to use up whatever veggies, cheeses, and meats you have leftover in the fridge. I had some cooked bacon leftover from yesterday's breakfast, so I decided I would use it in this morning's breakfast omelette!



Spinach, Bacon, Swiss Omelette
makes 1 omelette

1 egg
2 egg whites
1/4 cup milk, fat-free
1 handful baby spinach, torn
2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 slice swiss cheese, reduced fat
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Spray a small fry pan with cooking spray. Place pan on stove and turn to medium heat.

In a small bowl, mix the egg, egg whites, baby spinach, and salt and pepper.


Pour egg mixture into the warm pan.


Once the bottom of the omelette is cooked and golden brown (about 3 minutes; the timing depends on thickness of omelette), carefully flip the omelette over.


Place the crumbled bacon and swiss cheese on one side of the omelette.


Continue cooking for 3 minutes or until the omelette is cooked through. Flip one side of omelette over onto the other, covering the swiss and bacon.


Serve immediately.



I only wish I had used a smaller pan, as I like my omelettes a little thicker. But pan size and omelette thickness sure doesn't effect taste... YUM! And since they are packed full of protein, omelettes are a great (and filling) way to to start the day!!!

*Janel*

Monday, June 17, 2013

Funfetti Cake Pops

The other day, my friend called and asked if I had ever made cake pops... her son wanted them for his birthday and she had no idea where to begin since she had never made them before! After all my experiments in the kitchen, you would think a cake pop would have be one of them... right? Wrong. As cute and delicious as they are, I have not yet taken on the daunting task of cake pops. But I decided this was the perfect opportunity to try a cake pop recipe out, so I offered to make them for her! 

I also had no idea where to begin, so I found an easy recipe for Funfetti Cake Pops (that required only a few ingredients and a few steps). Then I crossed my fingers and said a little prayer that they would turn out... I mean, there are 40 tough little cake pop critics I need to impress with these things!!!!


Funfetti Cake Pops
recipe via simplyjolleen.com

What you’ll need:
1 box Funfetti cake mix
Ingredients listed on box
1 container Funfetti frosting
2 bags of candy melts (any color)
Lollipop sticks
Sprinkles

Follow directions on cake box; mix and bake cake. Once cake has completely cooled, crumble it into pieces.


Mix crumbled cake with a container of Funfetti frosting.


Roll cake mixture into small balls (one cake makes about 24 - 1.5" cake balls) and place them on a large aluminum foil lined cookie sheet. Place cake balls in the freezer for at least 60 minutes to chill.


Melt candy melts as directed on package.


Remove cake balls from freezer. Dip the end of the lollipop stick into the melted chocolate, then stick into cake ball. Dip entire ball into melted chocolate. Swirl around to remove excess.


Add sprinkles to the top of the cake balls and allow the chocolate to harden. Place lollipop stick into a piece of styrofoam to dry.


Repeat process with remaining cake balls. Once your chocolate has harden, you’re ready to serve your cake balls!



My personal cake pop experience -

Ok, I'm not going to sugar coat it.... cake pops are not easy!!!! I was completely overwhelmed and frustrated at one point in the process and was really ready to give up. Since I had never made them before, I had not known what to expect and had not properly prepared for all the steps.

First off, I think the cake balls need to be almost frozen before they are dipped in the chocolate. They need WAY more than the 1 hour in the freezer the recipe calls for, as once the balls would sit out for a few minutes and start to come to room temperature, they would fall right off the stick when I tried to dip them in the chocolate! I wanted to scream. Next time, I will make the cake balls and freeze them overnight before adding the stick and dipping them in the chocolate.

Next, the melted chocolate needs to be thinned out with about a tablespoon of shortening or else it is too thick, too heavy, and does not make the smooth surface you probably are expecting for a cake pop. Having too much (too thick, too heavy) chocolate on the cake ball will weigh the cake ball down and the ball will fall off the stick. Again, I wanted to scream... and throw the cake balls across the kitchen.

Also, the recipe says the chocolate will harden on the ball once the ball is dipped. And it does... eventually. I thought it took FOREVER for the chocolate to set, so I had to put the cake pops in the fridge to cool and harden the chocolate faster. So make sure you have plenty of room in your refrigerator before you start!

Lastly, I could not have done this cake pop project without the help of my amazing Mom! Seriously, you need an extra set of hands if you are making a large batch of these things. While I dipped, my mom set the pops up in styrofoam to chill in the fridge... and since there were so many cake pops, she had to keep transferring them around. Counter to fridge... fridge to counter... counter to fridge. Yeah, it was a process.

But once we figured out what needed to be done/changed to get the cake pops finished (and we had a glass of wine), all was well in the kitchen once again! Although they were a lot of work and frustrating at first, the cake pops turned out adorable and they taste AMAZING... I love them!


Hopefully the kiddos love them too!


Thanks again for the help on this one Mom... you are the BEST!

*Janel*






Sunday, June 16, 2013

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Happy Father's Day to all the wonderful fathers and father figures out there!!! My sister and I are lucky to have the best dad in the world... And we don't just consider him a dad, he's also our friend.

The only problem is that it's impossible to shop for him! He's the man who has everything.  So, for Father's Day this year, I decided to bake cookies for him instead, because I don't think anyone can ever have enough cookies ;)



Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

original recipe found at: http://mybakerlady.com/2012/06/20/perfect-oatmeal-raisin-cookies/

Ingredients:


  • 3 eggs beaten
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 rounded teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats

Directions:

  • Combine eggs, vanilla, and raisins in a small bowl, cover and let stand for 1 hour.

  • Preheat oven to 350 F
  • In a large bowl cream the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar together. 
  • In another bowl sift together the flour, cinnamon, and baking soda, stir into creamed mixture.
  • Stir in raisin mixture, and rolled oats. 

  • Scoop 2 tablespoons of dough onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. 

  • Bake for 13-15 minutes or until just set on the edges. 
  • Cool 10 minutes on the cookie sheet, then remove to a cooling rack.


Hope you all enjoy. If you want to stay true to the original recipe, then use regular butter sticks and all white flour instead of partial whole wheat flour. I tried to make this recipe healthy, and they turned out delicious!!

xoxo,
Amy

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Healthy Applesauce Oatmeal Pancakes

Something about the weekend makes me crave a big, hearty breakfast! This morning I woke up and had pancakes on my mind. Nothing beats a warm, comforting, buttery stack of pancakes topped with maple syrup. I decided to combine my craving for pancakes with the healthier breakfast option... oatmeal!

These hearty, "lightened up" Applesauce Oatmeal pancakes are heart-healthy and much better for you than a normal batch of pancakes. And they will fill you right up!!!



Healthy Applesauce Oatmeal Pancakes
based on a recipe from tasteofhome.com

Ingredients:
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup fat-free milk
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
4 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:
In a bowl, combine the oats, flours, baking powder, and cinnamon. In another bowl, combine milk, applesauce, egg whites, and vanilla; add to dry ingredients and mix well.

 

Pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto a heated griddle coated with cooking spray. Cook until bubbles appear on the top; turn and cook until lightly browned. Yield: 5 servings (2 pancakes each).

 

These pancakes are DELICIOUS!!!! Great way to start the day... :) Next time I might chop up an apple and add it to the batter. 


Enjoy!

*Janel*


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Honey Cinnamon Roasted Chickpeas

I have been in a "snacking" mood lately... probably because I'm ALWAYS hungry. Changing up my workout (I added in 2 days of boxing a week) has made my metabolism skyrocket! So finding some healthy and filling snack options was a necessity. First I made a batch of Crispy Kale Chips, then moved onto a batch of Honey Cinnamon Roasted Chickpeas!


I used this master recipe for the plain Roasted Chickpeas... then seasoned with the Honey Cinnamon seasoning (at the bottom of the recipe). You could also create your own seasonings; the possibilities for this healthy snack are endless! 

Roasted Chickpeas (Master Recipe)
by Oven Love

Ingredients:
2 cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
2 tablespoons olive oil
seasonings of your choice (see below for suggestions)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.


Prepare the beans for roasting by draining and rinsing them, then letting them dry on a towel until most of the excess moisture is absorbed.



Spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.


Roast the chickpeas in the oven for 45-60 minutes or until the beans are crunchy throughout (just test one- if they are still mostly soft on the inside and there’s no crunch, keep baking).


Immediately (while beans are still hot), toss with olive oil and seasonings. Serve hot or at room temperature.



The Roasted Chickpeas are best the first day, but can be kept in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Seasoning Suggestions:
Sesame Soy- 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Honey Cinnamon- 1 teaspoon cinnamon, a pinch nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, 2 tablespoons honey (you can throw these back in the oven for 10-15 minutes to caramelize if you like)  *I made this recipe!
Garlic Parmesan- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon garlic powder or 2 cloves fresh minced garlic, 1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Smoky Spice Blend - 1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, pinch cayenne (optional)




The Honey Cinnamon Roasted Chickpeas are the perfect low-fat, low-calorie, crunchy, sweet and salty snack. And since chickpeas are beans, they are full of fiber and fill you up!

Hummmm.... roasted chickpeas might also be delicious seasoned with some Sriracha and maple syrup like my favorite Spicy Maple Nuts. Ok, yes I'm definitely trying that next....

YUM!

*Janel*