Flourless Peanut Butter Blondies

We're coming to a close on January.  Can you believe it?  This means we're one month into our New Year's resolutions.  The month's not over yet, so you still have time to come up with your own.

These are mine for 2013:
- Spend less on groceries (this means really shopping with a list every time...and less "window" shopping)
- Save more than we did last year
- Exercise at least 3 times per week
- Dedicate more time to strengthening relationships with extended family
- Always give Tyler the benefit of the doubt
- Be gentle with my children, even if they are trying to pick the fight
- Improve my spirituality by making time for meditation and study; lunch time seems to work well

Some of these are easily measurable, making them good goals to keep track of.  The other ones have to be remembered everyday.  It's going to be an awesome year!

What are your goals?

Who says you have to bake with flour!?

Are they gooey and warm and hit the spot and you just can't get enough...yes, yes they are.  I might have made 2 batches over the weekend.

Peanut Butter Blondies 
adapted from Detoxinista's Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies

1 cups natural peanut butter (I've used Adams chunky and smooth, both are good)
1/3 cup honey
1 flax egg (1 Tbsp flax meal mixed with 3 Tbsp water - in place of 1 egg)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional - I added them, but without they'll taste just like peanut butter cookies)

Preheat oven to 350.  Lay (un-greased) parchment paper in an 8x8 pan.  In a bowl, mix together all ingredients, then if you're using them, fold in chocolate chips.  Pour the batter into the pan, making sure the parchment paper nicely folded into the pan edges.  Smooth the top and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool in the pan, then lift parchment out with your blondies, and cut.  Makes 16 squares.

*A friend told me she's had these in cookie form and they were good that way, too.

Creamy Almond Butter Freezer Fudge

It was just over a week ago that we buried my 22-day-old niece, Emma Rae.  Her neonatal liver failure got the best of her body.  (See where I first talked about this HERE).  We went to Montana to be with my family and help distract them with my three hooligans.  Everything went as good as possible; her 4-year-old brother even helped carry the casket out of the funeral service.  I'm so glad we got to be there to love and support my brother and family.  

As a mother, I can't imagine the emptiness that my SIL feels.  It's times like these that I'm grateful for the hope and faith of living again as a family after we die.  I really believe they will all be together again.  But right now, it has to be a daily walk, a daily step, and hopefully an inspiration to live better knowing she's waiting for us all to join her.

Moving on to a more delicious topic, these were very good!  Tyler kept on walking past the freezer just so he could snitch another one.

I recently found the Detoxinista and have already tried a couple of her recipes.  I'll report on another one next.  To find the recipe, go to her Creamy Almond Butter Freezer Fudge.

My only note is that I was wondering "why" did I have to include the coconut oil.  So I tried her recipe and then did the same thing, half batch, without the oil.  And surprise!  It didn't work.  The recipe needs the oil or it never sets up.  The almond butter mixture never hardened, so I ate it with apples instead.

Split Pea Soup

Thanks to my sister for this recipe!  I love a good split pea soup and this one didn't disappoint.  It's fun that as she gets older (and graduating from BYU this spring!!) that we get closer together.  I guess that means I'm getting older too.  It's the big 3-0 this year for me.  I used to think that was old.

Split Pea Soup 

1 lb dried split peas
8-9 cups broth (I used 5 cups broth and 3 cups water)
4 carrots, chopped
3 medium potatoes, chopped (I used the 2 I had on hand)
3 celery stocks, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients on the stove top and cook on medium to medium-high until peas and vegetables are soft.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

I did omit the ham from their recipe.  It was perfect, especially since we ate this when it was raining outside.

Wait.  I live in Portland.  Rain?

Their recipe calls for a crockpot, which you certainly could do and have a stress-free day.  On low for 7-8 hours or on high for 3-4.

Great Harvest Copycat: Honey Whole Wheat Bread

I love it when I make time to make bread.  There's something about warm bread that none of us can resist...or can you??  I've been making a bread recipe from my friend Sierra for the most part, but decided to branch out this time.  I'd pinned this recipe a while ago and it was totally worth it!  

Honey Whole Wheat Bread
from Eat Cake for DinnerFind It, Love It, Share It

3 Tbsp instant yeast
4 c. warm water
1 cup honey
8-9 cups whole wheat flour (I ground mine myself)
3 tsp salt
1/2-1 cup optional add-ins (I added 1/2 cup quick oatmeal.  You can add sunflower seeds, ground flax seeds, etc)

Combine yeast, water, and honey.  Let sit for 5 minutes or until frothy and bubbly.

Add salt, add-ins, and 5 cups flour.  Mix.

Add remaining flour, 1 cup at a time, until you get a soft dough.  You want the dough to just pull away from the sides of the bowl.  The softer the dough, the more moist the bread.  But if it's too sticky, it's a little gummy.  Knead for 4 minutes on low.

Grease a large bowl and put your dough ball in and cover.  Let rise until double.  I probably let mine sit for at least an hour.

Punch down and shape into loaves.  Put into greased loaf pans (I made 3 loaves from this, but probably could have made 2 larger loaves) and let rise again until doubled.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

*Note that sometimes bread needs more or less flour, so adjust to what your batch needs.

And when it's done, you can smear it with some warm (or cold) Apple Butter!  Seriously, you'll be trying to make up excuses to eat more.  

Apple Butter

If I ever start to wonder what I should be doing with my time, I often end up in the kitchen.  This was hard at first when we changed the way we eat, which is still a learning process, because I was used to making cinnamon rolls, cookies, brownies, etc.  I had to gather some healthy recipes, but no matter how you eat, it's fun to try new recipes, have suggestions from friends, and spending time on your feet in the kitchen.  It makes sitting down eventually that much more rewarding!  At least for me.

And the good thing about this recipe is that it's really really easy.  I've made mine the the stove-top twice, but it can also be made on low overnight in the crock-pot.  Wake up to your house smelling wonderful.

Thanks to my friend Teresa for introducing me to apple butter.  It's the perfect blend of natural sweetness from the apples and the perfect addition of spices.  It can have added sugar, but I don't think it needs it at all.  Try it without first.

Apple Butter

12 apples, cut into chunks
1 1/2 cups water 
1 - 1 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp allspice

Cut your apples into chunks, peels on.  Put apples and water in a pot with the spices.  Let simmer together until apples are softened.  In batches, blend (this is where I wish I had an immersion blender). Put blended apples back into the pot and let cook down on medium-low until the mixture is thickened.  It should be the consistency of a soft jelly preserve.  Store in the fridge in airtight container...or eat in one night.  

For extra goodness, spread on Honey Whole Wheat Bread!

Quinoa Salad with Pomegranate

We have a new house member.  Angus, a black lab, is hanging out with us for 2 weeks while his owners are relocating.  It's fun to have him around and the kids are enjoying his company.  It's a good trial run for us...would we want a dog in the future?  At the end of this 2 weeks we will be a) attached and sad to see him go, b) say it was fun, but not for us for a while, and/or c) fun, maybe we'll get one of our own.

It will be an adventure.  

I was intrigued by the pomegranates in this salad.  They are so good!  And combined with quinoa had to be good.  I've been wanting more quinoa dishes anyway, so this was a good excuse to cook this awesome super food.  It was a great side salad.

Quinoa Salad with Pomegranate
from Cooking in the Costco Way

1 cup quinoa
1 3/4 cup vegetable or chicken stock
2 mini cucumbers, diced
1/2 lb grape tomatoes, halved
1 pomegranate, seeds only
1 Tbsp chopped fresh italian parsley
1 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (I think I might have omitted this...now I can't remember)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander

Heat a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add quinoa and toast for 5 minutes, or until the quinoa starts to pop and turn light brown.

Meanwhile, heat stock to boiling in a medium saucepan.  Add quinoa and simmer for 15 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed.

To prepare the dressing, whisk together all the ingredients in a small bowl.

In a large bowl, comine warm quinoa with cucumbers, tomatoes, pomegranate seeds, chopped herbs, and the dressing.

Serve at room temperature.  (I also had this cold from the fridge the next day and it was good)

Pavlova & Italian Soda Bar

Before Christmas we threw a work party for Tyler.  It was fun to mingle with his work friends and enjoy lots of good food.  From the white elephant exchange we came away with a $15 itunes gift card and a Dali Melting clock...an actual clock, not a painting.

I wanted to make a dessert that would stand up to some oohhhs and aahhhs.  So pavlova called my name!  (This does not quite fall into line with our eating habits, but that has to be ignored this time).    

The presentation of this dessert does all the work for you, because it's probably the easiest dessert you'll ever make.  It's a dessert most often consumed in New Zealand and Australia that is crunchy on the outside and so so light inside.  Top that with some homemade whipped cream and berries.  Heaven in your mouth.  And you don't even feel bad when you've eaten half of it.  Okay, maybe you will.

adapted from this recipe

4 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/4-1/2 cups powdered sugar
Berries of choice (blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, mango, etc)
optional - can also add chocolate chips or shavings to the top

Preheat oven to 300.  Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.  This recipe calls for the pavlova to be spread out in a 9 inch diameter.  You can do this by drawing a circle on one side of the parchment and flip over when putting the dessert on (no pencil shavings in your dessert).  I doubled the recipe and spread out probably in about a 12 inch circle.

In a mixer, beat egg whites until soft peaks form then while continuing to mix, add 3/4 cup granulated sugar gradually and let sugar dissolve.  Add a pinch of salt.  Mix until peaks are stiff.

In a separate bowl, mix the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar and cornstarch together and fold into the egg whites.

Spread mixture in an even layer in a circle on your parchment paper.

Bake at 300 for 1 hour.  Turn off your oven, leaving the pavlova in, and let bake for another 30 minutes.  It should be hard on the outside and moist on the inside.  Let cool completely.

In your mixing bowl, whip the heavy whipping cream until peaks are almost stiff.  Mix in powdered sugar according to taste.  Top your pavlova with the cream and berries.  Stand back and admire your work!

We also had an Italian Soda bar for the party.  It was a good way to have fun drinks!  I found this FREE PRINTABLE that I stuck in a frame and it worked perfect for our guests, most who had never tried this before.  It was a great party and I would gladly host again next year...but I haven't told Tyler that yet.

Green Enchiladas with Cashew Poblano Crema

My little niece is 2 weeks old.  She's at Primary Children's Hospital with a team of careful doctors and some very devoted parents, but the odds are not in her favor.  Her liver is failing and her 3-year-old brother doesn't really understand everything that is happening.  Sometimes I let myself get sad, but then I have to pull myself together to take care of my own 3 kids.  It's a hard time, but there have been so many kind people.

I'm reminded of one of my favorite quotes from Plato. "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." 

On Tuesday was my sister-in-law's birthday.  A woman came to visit her.  My SIL didn't know who she was.  The woman said she was sent by a group of people who know of her situation, her baby, and her 3-year-old at home.  She said she's not part of the group and there's no way for them to be discovered.  She gave my SIL a build-a-bear gift card for the 3-year-old and $500 check card to "help."  My brother and his family don't live in Utah, so who knows who these very kind people are.  

This is just one small thing.

Another is the group called "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep."  This group is made up of photographers who volunteer their time and photos (free people) for others who are losing their children.  They will come in and take pictures of the sweet babies and their parents as a forever treasure.  As everything is unhooked, life-support turned off, they can come and capture that sweet moment with your little love.  (Or they can come before if you want.)  I found Heather Pickett through this site.  She's been a nurse in the NICU, she knows all this first-hand.  And as a photographer and mother herself, what a gift she's willing to give.

This is just a shout out to all those mourning and sad.  We are all fighting a hard battle and the kindness we share with each other is the only way we'll all be able to make it through.  That...and time.  

And now to a new recipe.  In my searching, I've come across the method of soaking nuts quite often.  I finally decided to try a recipe that included this process.  It was really good and you'd never get there were nuts in it at all!  Not lying.  Also, there is no cheese in these enchiladas.  We're going fresh people.

You cook the filled tortillas and then top it with the nut crema to serve. 

I also followed the recipe instructions to make my own green salsa.  Roasting the tomatillos and peppers made them sweet and so much better than a store-bought green salsa, which I have never loved.  This mixture is roasted tomatillos, jalapenos, onion, garlic, cilantro, and salt to taste.  

After soaking the cashews, they were mixed with a roasted poblano pepper, garlic, onion, lemon juice, water, and salt to taste.  It was a little bit spicy, but not too bad for the kids.  It was impressively good and I am sold on using nuts in sauces because of this dish.

The assembly goes first with dipping my whole wheat tortillas in the green salsa, filling them with a mushroom, spinach, onion, & garlic mixture, and placing them in a baking pan.  On top and bottom of the enchiladas is more of the green salsa.

After cooking, spread the crema mixture, some salsa, and cilantro on top.  Serve warm.

After eating these, I would like to experiment with different fillings.  This was good, but it's very versatile!  A bean, corn, tomato, pepper filling would be fun to try.  **Note that there is NO cheese, so the stringy enchiladas are not what you're going to find here.  Enjoy your fresh veggies!

And here is Love & Lemons amazing photo, for which I did not have the lighting or the time to take (excuses excuses, I know).  And find the recipe HERE.
Image via Love & Lemons

Oatmeal Smoothie for Breakfast

Breakfast is the hardest meal for me.  Actually, let's face it, getting out of bed is hard for me!  I want to be a morning person, but that means I have to give up late nights.  And every night that I crawl into bed, I say "tomorrow, I've gotta go to bed earlier!"  But then I'm there again the next night.  

Having elementary age kids who ride the bus definitely gets me up and going in the morning.  6:50am my alarm goes off and this morning it interrupted a dream where I was backing into another car.  Glad I got out of that one!

Moving on, I've never been a huge breakfast fan, but maybe that has to do with snacking before bed.  Either way, cereal has never cut it.  If I have some homemade granola on hand, then bring on the soy milk and we're good to go!

However, I happened upon a new idea thanks to a Women's Health magazine my sister signed me up for!  (Shout out to you, Nan!)  An oatmeal smoothie.  It gives you a good base to get going in the morning, enough to last until lunch without getting the munchies at 10am.

There was no exact recipe in the magazine, so this is my version.  Play around with this one to make it something that you love, too.

Oatmeal Smoothie
serves 2

1 cup oatmeal
1/4 cup peanut butter (I use Adams)
1/2 Tbsp chia seeds
1 banana
1 cup soy or almond milk
1 Tbsp honey
1 cup ice cubes
1/4 cup water

Mix everything in your blender, stick a straw in it, and enjoy your morning!

Peanut Butter Granola Bars & Bites

It was an organizing day around here.  Well, that and making sure my 1-year-old was still alive at the end of the day.  He's a busy boy!

My 5-year-old said she wanted to make to-do lists just like me. 
Here's what her's included:
1. Watch Sleeping Beauty
2. Read some books
3. Get dressed (obviously we've been taking it easy around here)
4. Eat a snack
5. Do some homework (she loves workbooks)

And here's what mine said: 
1. Spend time with said 5-year-old
2. Read some scriptures (loved Ephesians 3:19 today)
3. Work on my church calling responsibilities (lds.org)
4. Make granola bars
5. Work out
6. Post granola bars recipe
7. Do an organizing project (today was the kid's crafting section of the closet)

I got to almost all of them, so I feel rather productive.  Especially since I was up at 3am! with our 1-year-old who has a pretty stuffy cold.  And I'm still going strong.

We had our go-to meal tonight of veggie burgers, cooked green beans, and salad.  I think we have this every week now and I can't see it getting old anytime soon.  Cooked green beans have always been my favorite and my to-do list was too long for any new food experiments today.

Seriously though, these granola bars are so good!  And they are very versatile.  Choose your favorite add-ins and try to make the batch last longer than 2 days.  

This recipe is one I've put together from my own experimenting, so hopefully you'll like it as much as I do.

Peanut Butter Granola Bars & Bites

2 cups oats (I've used both quick and regular and they both work well)
1 cup crispy cereal (rice crispies work or crushed chex)
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup dates (if you don't have these on hand, you can just sub more peanut butter and honey to help them stick together sufficiently)

1/4 cup almonds (or other nuts of choice)
2 Tbsp flax seeds
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup cocoa (if you want chocolate flavored)
1/4 cup carob or chocolate chips

Prep a 9x9 casserole pan by lining it with piece of parchment paper, set aside.  

In a large bowl, measure out your oats, cereal, and salt.  Add in your peanut butter, honey, and vanilla.  

In a food processor, pulse the dates a couple times until they are beginning to be chopped up.  If you are adding almonds (or other nuts of choice) then put them in your food processor with the dates.  Pulse dates and nuts together until the dates are sticky and chopped well.  You could add 1 tsp of water at a time to the mixture to help it get wet and stickier if needed.  Add dates and nuts to bowl.  

If you want any of the other add-ins, put them in as well.  You can use a large spoon to begin the mixing, but I use my hands to make sure everything is well blended.  Test how well the mixture sticks together and if it's not doing a good job, add a little more peanut butter.  I've even gone back and added more dates.  

Once blended, dump mixture into your pan and press hard together.  Lift parchment paper out, cut into bars or squares.  If you want cute little bites, press together into balls (rolling won't work) and serve in little cupcake wrappers.

Make Your Own Granola

So I meant to work out today.  This means having something entertaining for the kids to stay busy while I work out next to them.  This is the ideal.  Ignoring the dishes, the grocery shopping, cleaning the toilet, and aswering emails, and taking a minute to exercise.    

Maybe you're like me and say, no shower until I work out, but then I don't work out (although I thought that would be enough to motivate me), and then I don't get a shower.  So I shower anyway and decide two showers rather than none in a day would be better anyway.  But does that happen.  No.  
 So I've got to do something about this.  We looked into a gym membership.  And although the deal per month was really good, it's a large chunk of change to give up-front.  But the pro to having somewhere to go to work-out is not noticing all the other 100 things that need to be done that you're ignoring.  And no interruptions from kids.

That being said, I love the cross fit revolution and there are so many sources online to find awesome home work-outs.  If you're looking for some good ones, I recommend Zeus' Ab workout and Zuzana's 600 rep fat burn workout.
With it being new year and all, it's time to up my resolution to working out (as a frequent gym attender, Tyler hates January because of the increased numbers...but he says by March it's normal again for the rest of the year...hmmm).  I want to call myself a runner, since I love it so much (even though I haven't been able to run for a couple months because of an ankle injury).  I need to get my rear in gear.  Anyone with me?  And where will I be doing this??  At home.  I need to do it.  Eating healthy is only part of the ingredients to a healthy life.

But just to get our days started, here's an awesome granola recipe from my friend Sierra.  She brought this to me as a holiday treat and I ate it all before anyone else had a chance to try any.  So I begged the recipe and will be making it often.
From Sierra

2 cups regular rolled oats
1 cup coarsely chopped almonds, walnuts, or pecans
1/2 cup coconut (I used unsweetened)
1/2 cup shelled unsalted sunflower seeds
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ (I didn't toast mine, but I'm sure it's good that way)
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/2 cup honey
2 Tbsp oil (I used vegetable as the first go-around, but will try without and with coconut oil in the future too)
1 cup dried fruit (optional...I used blueberries)

Preheat oven to 300 F. Lightly grease (you could use parchment paper instead) a large cookie sheet (the 1 inch deep ones).  In a bowl combine the oats, nuts, coconut, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, and flax seeds.  In a bowl combine the honey and oil, stir into the oat mixture.  Spread evenly in the prepared pan.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or until light brown.  Stir about 20 minutes into the baking time.  After baking, stir in desired dried fruit.  Let cool and store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.  Or freeze in freezer bags and freeze for up to 2 months.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...