February 3, 2014

Sneaky Squash Muffins

I am always trying to find snacks that my kids will eat, especially if I am able to sneak in some extra veggies that they otherwise wouldn't touch or try. I am not complaining about the amount of veggies my kids eat because thankfully they LOVE raw veggies but I sneaking in a few extra won't hurt….. I should probably find more recipes where I can sneak more fruit into snacks and other foods because my older kids will only eat apples, on a good day grapes and maybe some cuties. Oh well for now I am happy that they will snack on these muffins.

While these were baking in the oven you would have thought I was either baking pumpkin pie or carrot cake, it smelled so fall-y. 

Getting my ingredients ready to go
I found a recipe on Allrecipes.com for something called Toddler Muffins which seemed to be a great way to sneak a few extra veggies into a little treat. I made a change to the ingredients used, instead of using oat bran I used oats. I didn't have any oat bran on hand and wasn't really sure if I would have more use of it if I went out and bought it so I improvised. Worked and I wouldn't go back and change it now.

Piping hot out of the oven!
I own the book "The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids' Favorite Meals",which does have a lot of simple recipes in which you can sneak a few extra fruits and veggies into. Too bad it is packed away (along with all my other cookbooks) and I see it again for another few months, oh well at least the library has a fairly decent selection of books for me to borrow and search for ideas and inspirations. And of course lets not forget Pinterest!

At one of our many library visits I came across Jessica Seinfeld's "Deceptively Delicious" and will be flipping through this book to hopefully find a few more ways to sneak a few things into food my kids will be snacking on. I already spotted a few desert ideas that are going to be added to my "try out" list.

Sneaky Squash Muffins

½ cup butter, softened
½ cup brown sugar
2 bananas, mashed
1 (4.5 oz) jar squash- baby food
2 carrots, grated
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup flour
½ cup oats (quick or regular)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

½ tsp salt


Preheat the oven to 375F. Lightly grease a 24 count mini muffin pan or a 12 count standard muffin pan.  (I prefer making mini muffins for snacks but I do think these would be a great on the go breakfast snack if baked in standard muffin size)

In your mixing bowl whip the butter and brown sugar until creamy. Mix in the mashed bananas, squash and carrots; stir to combine. Then stir in the remaining ingredients and stir just until combined. Spoon the batter equally into prepared muffin pan.

Bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean after inserting it. Cool in pan for 10 mins before removing to cool completely.

These can either be stored at room temp or you could freeze them for to go lunches or snacks.

January 31, 2014

English Muffin Bread

As I was going through some of my drafts of recipes I have already tried and taken pictures of to share with you I saw that this was in my drafts…..don't know why because I thought for sure I had already shared this with all of you. Anyhow….here is one of my all time favorite recipes.!!

I really like eating an English Muffin every now and then for breakfast or even for dinner but the price of them can is a little steep for something so simple to make on your own. I have made english muffins from scratch while in culinary school, they did turn out but they are much harder and more time consuming than baking a loaf of bread. So when my friend Aleta shared the website/recipe she uses I had to give it a whirl. The recipe looked to easy to be true, boy was I wrong! Not only was the recipe SUPER easy it turned out amazing.

Here is the recipe I used....I did modify the original recipe but only because I didn't have enough flour to measure out 11 cups.

2 3/4 cups warm water
4 tsp of rapid rise yeast (this equals to 1 + 1/2 package of yeast)
1 TBS salt
1 1/2 TBS sugar
5 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Grease 2 loaf pans
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and divide evenly into prepared loaf pans.
Let rise until doubled in size (this may take up to 30 minutes, so I would wait to preheat your oven until you notice it starting to rise)
Preheat your oven to 350 F. Put bread in oven and bake for 35 minutes. After the 35 minutes are over brush the tops of the bread with a light coat of butter and return to oven for another 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes in pans before removing. Then remove bread and let it cool completely before cutting.

I put one loaf in the fridge and one loaf in the freezer for later. When you are ready to use the second loaf take it out and let it thaw in the fridge.

The texture is just like an english muffin with all the little air pockets and gets that crispy layer to it when you pop it in the toaster. I don't think I will ever buy store-packed english muffins again.


November 15, 2013

Pumpkin Spiced Coffee Cake

I know, I know….I said 30 days of eating as healthy as I can but I just couldn't resist baking this scrumptious pumpkin coffee cake!!! If you take a close look to the ingredients I used the recipe really isn't that bad for you AND besides it's not like you are going to eat the whole coffee cake yourself in one sitting…..even if you did who am I to judge!

I did not have time to roast my own pumpkin to make homemade pumpkin puree (which I do recommend you trying….the difference in taste & color is amazing) thankfully I do know some one who had the time to prepare homemade pumpkin puree and shared it with the blogging world. If you haven't tried it homemade but would like to here is a recipe that was meant for you. Don't forget to look at all the other GREAT ideas/recipes you could use store bought or homemade pumpkin puree.

Courtney, the author of  Fitcakery is a fellow Culinary friend of mine who has also found their passion for cooking, baking and finding healthy alternatives in life without having to sacrifice flavor, quality or your budget! 

I have been eyeballing the pumpkin cookies since Courtney blogged about them a few days ago.

Pumpkin Spiced Coffee Cake

For the topping:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 TBS cold butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans

For the cake:

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 can (15oz.) Pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix) 
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice


Preheat oven to 325F. Lightly grease and flour dust a 13x9 baking pan; set aside.

In a small bowl combine the topping ingredients and cut butter into the mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars until creamy and smooth. Add one egg at a time make sure to beat well after each egg is added. Add the pumpkin and vanilla extract; mix well. 

In another bowl combine your dry ingredients and lightly whisk before slowly adding them to the pumpkin mixture. Beat on low just until blended. Spread into the prepped baking pan and sprinkle with the topping mixture.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until an inserted tooth pick comes out clean. Let cool 10-15 minutes before serving. 

October 27, 2013

No Bake PB2 Banana Oat Energy Balls

So here is my plan, since we have 32 days until Thanksgiving and 59 days until Christmas Day I am going to try my very best to eat as healthy as I can and to incorporate more exercise into my daily routine so that maybe I can shed a few pounds before I dive into the yummy temptations (I almost forgot about Cookie Exchanges…..I haven't baked cookies in forever because it's been so stinking hot here in Tucson).

I have been searching high and low for recipes and ideas for "healthier" meal plans and stumbled across this lovely recipe for "No Bake PB2 Banana Oat Energy Bars" Yes, I know mine are called balls and not bars but that is only because I wanted to make them into little balls. I must also admit that my pictures didn't turn out as pretty and colorful as those of Taralynn from Undressedskeleton but that's ok they still taste the same LOL

The reason I decided to give this recipe a try is because Taralynn used PB2 which I had never seen or heard of before and I was curious to find out what the deal was with this new-to-me stuff.

And the other reason was because the recipe seemed SO simple!! 
Give them a try…let me know what you think :-)

No Bake PB2 Banana Oat Energy Balls

1 cup quick cooking oats
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 very ripe banana, mashed
4 TBS PB2 powder (do not add water)
1 packet Truvia/Stevia (optional)

Combine all the ingredients. After they are combined measure 1 TBS of mixture to form each ball. Should make about 12 balls (give or take how full you heap your spoon).

These can either be stored in a sealed container on the counter, in the refrigerator or even in the freezer.

Nutritional Value per ball:
Calories: 45
Protein: 2 grams
Fiber: 1.5 grams

October 17, 2013

Pumpkin Spiced Doughnuts

Last week in my baking class I decided to make my scrumptious Pumpkin Spiced Doughnuts for my classmates.....needless to say they were a HUGE success and I actually had to hide doughnuts to bring home for my family. SO with that being said I figured I HAD to share my recipe with you again. It's a KEEPER for sure and WILL have your friends and family asking for the recipe or for more!!

Previously shared September 19, 2012
*****This past Sunday my husband woke up and asked if we should go out for breakfast, which I had to turn down since we had been gone all day Saturday and we were going over to friends for a BBQ & Football. I asked him why he wanted to go out for breakfast and he replied with: "I am hungry for something good.....like Pumpkin Doughnuts". I jumped out of bed and said:"I have a recipe I have been wanting to try out for Homemade Pumpkin Doughnuts and I even have pumpkin in the pantry".

 So off to the kitchen I went!
Since I have never even tried making doughnuts EVER before I was not convinced this recipe would work or taste good. The original recipe called for buttermilk, which we never have in the house so instead I use Greek yogurt (this we always have). The dough was super easy to make and it was also really sticky, another reason I didn't think it was going to work BUT you do have to put the batter in the freezer for 15 minutes before you press it out to cut into shape.

**A little tip: cut all your doughnuts out before heating the oil to fry it in, otherwise you might have a flour mess like I did because I didn't think the doughnuts were going to cook as fast as they did**

Pumpkin-Spice Doughnuts

1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk <<<<greek yogurt
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 TBS butter, melted
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp pumpkin spice
1 TBS salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 cups flour, plus extra for patting out


In a large bowl whisk together both the whole egg and the egg yolk until frothy. Add pumpkin, sugar, buttermilk (yogurt), brown sugar and butter; whisk until combined. Stir in baking powder, pumpkin spice, salt and baking soda.
Gradually fold in flour until a sticky dough forms; cover and put in freezer for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile get your pan ready for frying. You will need at least 2" of oil.....don't heat until after you have cut your doughnuts.
Take dough out of freezer and pat out on a well floured surface to 1/2" thick and then cut using either a doughnut cutter or 2 biscuit cutters. Transfer these to a floured baking sheet.
Now heat your oil to at least 370F before you start frying your doughnuts. Fry doughnuts and doughnut holes until browned, about 3 minutes turning once halfway through. Keep an eye on these so they don't burn! Place the finished doughnuts on a baking sheet lined with paper towel. When they have cooled enough to touch finish them by dipping them in a cinnamon and sugar mixture. ( 1 cup + 1 tsp cinnamon).

Don't mind the jug of baby water in the background my husband pulled the camera out and I was so impressed with the way the doughnuts were turning out and slightly freaked out about all the flour I had tossed all over the kitchen that I didn't even notice the water jug in the background until I went to edit my pictures.

I don't think I will ever buy store bought pumpkin doughnuts again after making these!!! These doughnuts hit the spot on taste, texture and freshness. 

July 29, 2013

Chocolate Lave Cake **my guest post**

I have been a bit of a break from cooking, baking and posting.....it's not that I have lost my drive but between summer vacation starting & ending, my college classes during their summer break, exams and lets not forgot our CRAZY hot temps AND flooding we had on our street/neighborhood!!

Before things got too off schedule and crazy for me I did share a recipe with Jutta over at Hungry Little Girl......she did it the right way, she sent all her blogger friends an email asking for us to fill her calendar with guest postings....GREAT idea ;-) NOTE TO SELF.....do this during the next school break!!!

Today it was shared on her blog so jump on over to Hungry Little Girl and check it out.
It is a recipe I got many many months ago when I was still a Pampered Chef consultant.

June 20, 2013

Mexican Style Baked Potatoes ***Surprise Recipe Swap***

I love being part of the monthly Surprise Recipe Swap hosted by Jutta at HungryLittleGirl because it gives me the excuse to "have" to spend time browsing another fellow bloggers website for new recipes and then share them with you BUT another reason I enjoy being part of the monthly recipe swap is because it gives me a break from all my school work I am doing and am usually spending most of my computer time on right now.

This month I had the pleasure to browse Cindy's blog Hun...What's for Dinner? Cindy lives in Canada and is a complete foodie.....well at least in my opinion she is. She not only keeps sharing great recipes on her blog, she does cookbook reviews, has a job working for a General Mills company called Life Made Delicious (which is a website chuck full of recipes, coupons and other food related topics) AND she also is a Pampered Chef consultant. Oh and did I mention she has had recipes published in a cookbooks and has won a few recipe contests as well!? Yep the life of a Foodie.....this is how I picture it at least ;-) I am glad we get a whole month to browse for recipes because Cindy had so many to choose from! While browsing her recipes I kept coming back to a picture and recipe that seemed to be calling my name  Mexican Style Baked Potatoes. THESE are amazing and I can't believe I haven't eaten or seen baked potatoes made this way before.......where have I been living?

Now I know I just posted about my addiction of only stumbling upon "baked" dinners lately and how I try to not heat my house up so much BUT this recipe had to be recreated.....SOOOO I pulled out my toaster oven! I baked them for an hour in my toaster oven and then finished them off in the microwave so my A/C wasn't working overtime to for fill my craving for these yummy potatoes!

Mexican Style Baked Potatoes

4 russet potatoes, washed and scrubbed
3/4 cup refried beans
2 green onions, chopped (whites and greens)
1 TBS taco seasoning ( I used my homemade mix)
salt & pepper, to taste
3/4 cup salsa ( I used my homemade salsa)
1 cup shredded cheddar
sour cream or guacamole (optional toppings)

Preheat oven to 450F. Prick the potatoes with a fork, place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour or until tender. (I baked mine for 1 hour at 400F in my toaster oven and then finished them in the microwave. Baking them in the toaster oven before cooking them in the microwave helps keep the skin from getting chewy.)
After taking the potatoes out of the oven, reduce the heat to 375F while letting the potatoes cool for about 15 minutes or until able to handle them. When they are cool enough to handle cut them in half lengthwise and carefully scrape the pulp out (keep the skins).

In a bowl combine the potato pulp, refried beans, green onions, taco seasonings and your salt & pepper. Stir and mash together until well combined. Scoop the filling back into the potatoes skins and spoon 1 1/2 TBS salsa on top of the filling before returning them to the oven.
***I veered from the original just a bit.....I put 2 TBS salsa into the bottom of my potato skins before scooping the filling back into them***

Bake them for another 15 minutes, remove them and top them with 2 TBS cheese. Return them back the oven until the cheese is melted.

Serve with sour cream, guacamole and some extra salsa is desired. I opted for the guacamole and salsa....DELISH!!! I am glad I had extra to eat for lunch the next day too.

You can make these a day ahead too, just cover them in plastic after scooping the filling back into the skins and before reheating them the second time. They may need a few extra minutes to reheat but turn out great too. I unwrapped mine and microwaved them for a few minutes.

These would also be a great recipe to use if you make too many baked potatoes for dinner one night and have leftover potatoes that weren't eaten....I am pretty sure they WILL be eaten if you make these for dinner the next night.