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WIAW: Best of….

Happy Hump Day!

I love Wednesday’s….don’t you? 

It means the week is half over.  It means two short days until the weekend.  It means my blog post practically writes itself thanks to Jenn over at Peas & Crayons!

 Peas and Crayons

Why?…..because it is What I Ate Wednesday!  A great link party hosted by none other than the fabulous Jenn 🙂

So let me give you a little taste of what I ate this week.  Instead of giving you my eats for the day, I have decided to give you the best eats of my week so far!

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  • almost Elvis pancakes w/ grilled banana
  • oven roasted corn
  • watermelon
  • peanut butter chocolate chip cookies
  • blueberries
  • overnight oats w/ blueberries
  • blueberry pie
  • boiled crawfish

I know it doesn’t seem like a well rounded meal plan.  I promise other items where a part of my meals, theses are just some of the best.  Other items include things like:

  • tomato sandwiches
  • hummus & carrots
  • yogurt
  • coffee
  • water (always)
  • salads
  • grilled sausage

So I have enjoyed lots of foods lately!  But I must tell you, I was super excited when I baked these wonderful cookies!

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from Clean Eating Mag)

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1c natural peanut butter
  • 1/2c powdered sugar 
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2t baking soda
  • 1/4t sea salt
  • 4T semi-sweet chocolate chips
INSTRUCTIONS:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, stir together first 5 ingredients until blended. Stir in chocolate.
  2. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes. Remove to a wire rack and let cool for 15 more minutes.

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Finally a cookie that we do not have to feel guilty about eating.  I have to admit that I was skeptical about this cookie when I came across the original recipe, but it is a tasty one.  The original recipe calls for almond butter, and for 3/4 cup of natural sugar.  I substituted powdered sugar and decreased it to 1/2 cup.  The substitute was made because I was out of organic turbinado sugar.  Needless to say it is time for groceries in our household!  Of course you can add the full amount of sugar if you would like.  I for one love the taste of peanut butter so I didn’t need it.  Not to mention that the chocolate chips gives the cookies the sweetness they need!

So go throw a batch of these together and enjoy…guilt free!

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Filed under baking, Breakfast, CHOCOLATE, DESSERT, DINNER, Fruit, lunch, Uncategorized

WIAW – catch up edition

See, I’m still alive and kicking!

I know, if I was your mother and I disappeared without a word for several, several days then child services would be involved, your hearts would be broken, and I would go to a place that doesn’t know what the heck a whole food is!

But thank goodness I am not your mother so I will not be going there 🙂

So what have I  been up to lately – nothing.  Absolutely, blissfully nothing!

I have loved every minute of it.  Now I did miss you guys but…..

I have to be honest.  I had no material.  Nope – none!

I haven’t made any new recipes.  I haven’t had the desire to make any new ones.  Since I was doing nothing, I decided to do nothing on the computer as well.  That is except watch Army Wives re-runs on netflix to drown out the boys.  Speaking of which – they are at their grandmother’s.  They have been there since Monday so that means lots o peace in the house 🙂

But I have been a bad girl 😦

Yep, lots o junk to eat.  Now I did eat some good but…..

Mostly bad!  With lots of chocolate and candy mixed in as well.  So here goes!

Peas and Crayons

 

BREAKFAST……

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Pancakes with coffee of course!

 

LUNCH…..

 

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leftovers from date night – snow crab roll & edemame

 

DINNER…….

 

 

Lot’s o candy at the movies, along with popcorn, and a coke (gasp, I know right!  I almost forgot what coke tasted like) ice cream, frozen yogurt….the bad list goes on and on. 

But I did have some good in there……salads, hummus, tomatoes, apples, peanut butter, the usual snacks that are healthy.  Oh and I made a nice little treat.  You know the “it’s 8:30 p.m. I want something sweet, dessert not candy, so let’s bake brownies”.  Only to discover that your fridge is void of eggs, butter, and milk!  Yikes!!

So we improvised.  I researched several different recipes and adapted a couple to make my wonderful…

Chocolaty Chocolate Brownies

  • 1/4c whole wheat flour
  • 1/2c unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/3c cocoa
  • 1/2t baking soda
  • 1t baking powder
  • 1/2t salt
  • 1/2c peanut butter
  • 1/2c applesauce
  • 1t vanilla
  • 1/2c organic brown sugar
  • 1/2c semi sweet chocolate chips
  • more chocolate chips for topping if desired
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl
  3. Mix together the wet ingredients in a measuring cup
  4. Make a well in the dry ingredients, add the wet ingredients, and mix well
  5. Batter will be thick, spread it into an 8×8 baking dish that has been sprayed with non stick spray or lined with parchment
  6. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until center is done

Wonderful!  Oh and I may have thrown in some toffee pieces that I had lying in the baking area of the pantry.  The hubster loves toffee 🙂  So go bake yourself some brownies, pull up netflix, and enjoy your evening…..

I am off to go back to do absolutely nothing!

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Filed under baking, Breakfast, CHOCOLATE, DESSERT, DINNER, lunch, Uncategorized

what I am loving right now!

Wow what a week.  We have been slam packed with ball games this week.  As well as homework!

I mean really, do you remember having so much homework as a kid.  This makes it super tuff with ball season in full swing.  We usually get home around 4:00 p.m. from work/school.  We have to be on the ball field for practice or games by 5:30.  Hello that is only an hour to do homework.  Cuz you know you gotta drive to the field and all.  It is usually between 7:30-8:00 before we get home.  Just enough time to eat, shower, and hit the bed.  Oh wait we still have to finish homework!

I am voting for no homework during ball season.  Who’s with me?

Needless to say I am really enjoying my quick go to meals here lately.  So here are some pictures of things I am loving right now 🙂

Single Lady Oats – because they just make me smile 🙂

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Quick but delicious salads

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Quinoa Pasta – toss in some oil, herbs, and choice of veggies = dinner is ready!

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Pancakes – because who doesn’t love these for dinner??

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Buckwheat Bakes – need I say more?

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Of course the wonderful world of oats!

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Stuffed french toast – a taste of Europe, at least a girl can dream 🙂

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Quick snacks to take to games – Granola & my new favorite muffins – recipes found on my recipe page!

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And last but not least – wine.  Every busy mom’s friend!

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The hubster and I had a wonderful date night last night that included a little shopping (for the house) and dinner.  I had a wonderful Portobello mushroom Panini.  I regretfully have no pictures.  We were so excited to have a free night to ourselves that I totally forgot to pack blogging necessities!

Happy Thursday All!!

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Filed under baking, Breakfast, CHOCOLATE, DINNER, Fruit, Uncategorized

Strawberry-Banana – Ballfield

Happy Saturday!

We had a full day today.  This day included lots of family time, which always makes me smile.  Oh and a good bit of sun.  My lovely white legs are appreciating that!

So what type of breakfast can one possibly come up with for such a glorious day? A breakfast that includes oat bran.  A breakfast that includes bananas.  Maybe a breakfast that includes strawberries.  Oh and let’s not forget that it is Saturday, which probably means it includes the word pancake.  Why yes, this breakfast would have all of the above included!

 

Strawberry-Banana Pancakes

Now these aren’t just your ordinary pancakes.  Nope, they are made with oat bran as opposed to flour.  But they also have the strawberries and bananas cooked in them as opposed to just added as a topping.  Now as much as I would love to take credit for this, I can’t.  The wonderful Lauren over at Lauren Loves Good Food made pancakes several days ago that had bananas cooked in them.  I just added the strawberries into the mix 🙂

  • 1/4c oat bran
  • 2T flax
  • 1T wheat germ
  • 1t chia seeds
  • 1t baking powder
  • dash salt of cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 mashed banana
  • 1/4c + 2T buttermilk
  • vanilla stevia
  • 1/2 banana, sliced
  • few strawberries, sliced
  1. Preheat griddle or pan
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl
  3. Mix the wet ingredients in a measuring cup, make a well in the dry  ingredients and pour in.  Stir until all ingredients are mixed.
  4. Allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes before cooking.  When you pour the batter on the griddle you will add your banana strawberry slices.  Cook until nice and golden.  Flip and cook on opposite side. 
  5. Serve with maple and a smile!

Your family will loves these.  I mean who doesn’t love the sweetness of grilled fruit!

So what did I do with the rest of my Saturday? 

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We spent the day on the ball field!  Today was the start of the opening tournament for little league.  This is Kohl’s first year to play.  It almost makes me want to cry to think of my baby being old enough to play ball now 😦

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But isn’t he so adorable! 

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Noah is in his second year of coach’s pitch. 

I love spending time at the ball park with my boys 🙂

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gettin my coucous on

Voice is a little better.  At least people can understand me now 🙂

The husband doesn’t really know about this yet since he worked today, maybe I shouldn’t let him know this.  I kind of like being spoiled pampered a little.

This mornings breakfast was the usual Saturday pancakes ~ with a little twist!

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German Chocolate Pancakes

  • usual pancake batter (what ever you use, I used oat flour)
  • unsweetened shredded coconut
  • pecan pieces
  • coconut flour
  • almond milk
  • cocoa powder

Cook you pancakes according to whatever recipe you like to use but add in some coconut and pecan pieces.  Top them with some chocolate coconut cream – 2T coconut powder, 1/4c almond milk, & 1T cocoa mixed together – more shredded coconut and pecan pieces.

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Now let’s talk couscous!

This was actually last night’s dinner, but it was so good that it made a come back today for lunch 🙂

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Lentil & Couscous Stuffed Burrito

  • 1/4c leftover lentil sloppy joe mix
  • 1/8c cooked couscous
  • ww tortillas
  • shredded mozzerella cheese (or cheese of choice)
  • queso dip

Combine the lentil mixture and the couscous until well mixed.  Heat the tortilla shells in a pan for a few minutes on each side.  Spoon the desired amount of mixture into the shell, top with some cheese, and roll up burrito style.  Place in an oven safe dish seam side down.  Top with more of the lentil mixture, queso sauce, and shredded cheese.  Bake in a 350 degree oven until nice and hot with bubbly cheese.

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Now let’s talk dessert shall we 🙂

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Sweet Potato “pie”

  • 1 cooked sweet potato mashed
  • 1T maple syrup
  • 1/8c raisins
  • 1T butter (the real stuff)
  • drizzle of almond milk
  • drizzle vanilla extract
  • shredded coconut

Combine all ingredients in a ramekin and enjoy!  Quick and easy, and it surely hits that dessert spot 🙂

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This dinner was a.maz.ing! Go now and make it, you can thank me later….

Just had to share that little tid bit with you guys, I am off now to prepare for date night:)

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to chew or not to chew

Not to chew 😦 

Why or why, I wonder daily, did I have to be the lucky person to need adult braces?  I was obviously very naughty in my past life, or maybe I am very naughty in my current one, hmmm!  I would punch TMJ and alignment in the facehole if I could 🙂

I know I ranted yesterday about being tortured adjusted, so I will spare you guys a recap.  I would like to discuss a topic that I have been toying with for a little while now.  Gluten Free, anyone?  If you have knowledge on this please email me some advice, tips, grumbles, rants, whatever – helennaturally@gmail.com

Moving on – Gluten Free.  Like I said, I have toyed around with this for a little while.  It all began when my mom mentioned that she thinks she may possibly have a gluten sensitivity.  She watches Dr. Oz like it’s her job!  I started doing some research for her about this topic, which had my intellectual wheels a turning.

So it does seem that my mom could possibly have a gluten sensitivity.  During my research I have found that I too have some issues that could be a reaction to having too much gluten in my diet.  Do I think that I am gluten sensitive?  I’m not sure.  I still have a lot of research to do on this topic.  So far I have read two books, and while they were a little informative, they both were more or less about that person’s personal journey.  Like I said some good information but nothing informative about gluten in and of itself. 

I must tell you I love bread, and I love my pasta.  Oh yeah I am also married to an Italian so both are staples in our household.  Now I know they have gluten free pastas.  I have used them and like them.  They are however a good bit more pricey than a hearty whole wheat – not so great when you need to get on a strict food budget.  Bread is my downfall.  I do not have to have bread every night, but I do like my wraps for lunch, my muffins, biscotti’s, etc.  So this is a very difficult decision for me to make.  Do I give it up to see if this helps me, or do I continue to deal with bloat/digestive issues as I have always done?  I have a lot of decisions to make and soul searching to do.

I think that one reason this is difficult for me is because I do not have an allergy to the stuff or something such as Celiac’s.  If is was medically necessary then I would have no second thoughts on the issue.  I have also been told to look into the possibly of dairy causing my issues.  What?  Not that too!  I ❤ my Greek yogurt and occasional cheese.

So if any of you out there can offer me any insight please do.  I will continue over the course of the next several days to research, read, and pray about this decision.

So on to brighter things – As I have already stated I can’t chew 😦  My teeth hurt, have you ever had your teeth hurt?  It is no fun.  This may even require me to cancel date night with the hubster (home husband not work husband) tomorrow night! 

My day has been full of soft eats and warm drinks (hello I am freezing).  I mean come on, if I have to be freezing can’t a girl get some snow?  This morning started with a nice bowl of Cream of Wheat and a hot cup of coffee.

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I topped it with maple syrup and cinnamon, a little indulgence for all the pain I am enduring. 

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I had a second cup of coffee, pecan praline, later in the morning, but this afternoon I enjoyed a nice hot chai latte. 

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Enjoyed some lovely Zesty Kale Stoup for lunch.

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Did a 20 minute podcast for beginners yoga via yoga download.  It just happens that Kohl ended up getting a hold of my camera while I was doing this.  He did manage to get a few clear pics, and a lot of nonsense pictures of my house..lol!  Hey I couldn’t stop him, I wan concentrating on the yoga!

I did enjoy doing this routine.  This was only my second time trying yoga.  I am trying to make it part of my weekly schedule. 

I must admit that without my usual hearty snacks I have had a time with staying satisfied today.  I miss my fruit 😦

This could also have something to do with my hungry time of the month.  This afternoon I decided that I wanted something that was of course warm, tasty, and a little indulgent.  So I enjoyed some….

Coconut Griddle Cakes!  I used an extra tablespoon of coconut flour and let it sit for 10 minutes this time.  A thicker, heartier batter.  Give them I try, I promise you will like them 🙂

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I topped these babies with some coconut & peanut butter “syrup”.  Just mix some coconut & peanut butter together with a tablespoon of almond milk, pop it in the microwave, then drizzle on top of griddle cakes.  I used real butter in between the layers, and I made my own darn snow 🙂

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Tonight’s dinner will be some leftover soup that I had frozen.  I am sure we will enjoy it with such a cold dreary day.

I am off now to read/research, relax, build a fire, and pray that I can eat tomorrow. 

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Cupcakes & Stoup

I love snow free days!  🙂

I am so happy that school was called off yesterday considering that the hubster turned the alarm off this morning, by accident, and we didn’t roll out of bed until 6:40 a.m.!  Umm, dear I think  you will be late for work….

I stumbled to the kitchen to make our coffee this morning and immediately started on my breakfast.  I am usually up an hour before this so I was starving!  Thank goodness for leftovers.  You see I had an appointment this morning with the orthodontist.  I had to go have the torture chamber braces and brackets adjusted.

But before being tortured adjusted, breakfast is in order 🙂

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Pancakes w/ “Reese’s syrup”

I used my left over pancakes from last night with some delish toppings.  For the “Reese’s Syrup” combine a tablespoon of peanut butter with a little almond milk, cocoa powder, and a few vanilla stevia drops.  Pop in the microwave for a few seconds and mix well.  The milk help to thin it out so you can drizzle a little better.  Of course we needed some pecan pieces and a few sliced strawberries on top – after all who doesn’t love a chocolate covered strawberry?

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I enjoyed a small cup of homemade yogurt – yes I said homemade – with granola and strawberries on the side.  This was my first attempt at making yogurt.  It turned out okay, I will post the process later once I improve it.

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Once I was fed and full, I dressed for the snow day.  Warm clothes, scarf, boots, and had the hair pulled up to go under the hat…..

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Um, no snow!

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But we did have icicles on the car 🙂

I tell you it is freezing out there today, or at least for LA weather anyway.  After being tortured adjusted for an hour I decided I needed some warmth.  I made a quick stop at PJ’s coffee for a little southern pecan, warmed me right up.

So what does one do with a free day from school?  Bake of course.  I have fallen in love with a little book that has the most delish looking cupcakes in it and it’s vegan!  Of course I can’t bring myself to use the oil and sugar amounts in the recipes so I did do a little adjusting. 

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Peanut Butter Cupcakes
Adapted from:   Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Ingredients:
3/4c almond milk
2t apple cider vinegar
1/2c natural creamy peanut butter
1/3c apple sauce
1/3c organic turbinado sugar
2T dark molasses
1t vanilla extract
2t ground flaxseed
1c + 2T unbleached AP flour
1t baking powder
1/2t baking soda
1/4t salt

Directions:
1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners.
2.) Mix almond milk and vinegar in a measuring cup and set aside to curdle.
3.) In a large mixing bowl, cream the peanut butter, oil, sugar, molasses, vanilla, and ground flaxseeds until well combined. Add the almond milk mixture and mix until incorporated.
4.) Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a separate bowl and mix. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined.
5.) Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full. Bake for 23-26 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to cooling racks.

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Of course no cupcake is complete without a little frosting right?  So since Reese’s see to be the happening thing today, we decided to top our cupcakes with a little chocolate delight.  You can use my fudge recipe to spread on top, or go on over to Oh She Glows and make a batch of Angela’s peanut butter chocolate ganache!

Dinner tonight was a quick and easy dish.  I am not able to chew right now due to being tortured earlier today, so soup was in order.  Or in the words of Rachael Ray – stoup.

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Zesty Kale Stoup

  • 2T olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1-2 carrots, sliced
  • 1/2c chopped celery, including leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 chicken or vegetable bouillon cube
  • 1/4c quinoa
  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1/2t curry powder
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 1-2c of kale,  torn into bite size pieces
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Heat oil over medium heat, add onion and sauté until translucent.
  2. Add carrots, celery, garlic, and salt.  Saute until vegetables are golden, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add water and bouillon cube, quinoa, beans, and spices.  Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes until quinoa is cooked
  4. Add the kale and cover.  Cook until kale is tender.  Season with salt & pepper before serving.

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Of course I had a little cupcake for dessert!  Hopefully I will feel better tomorrow….who am I kidding, this mouth will hurt for several days.  At least I will be out of school again tomorrow 🙂

I think I will be off now to go catch up on some reading, take a nice hot bath, and probably enjoy some nice hot chocolate!

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baking…for relief

This morning started off as any usual Saturday morning for me.  I was up around 6:00 a.m. and wishing that for once I could have slept in a little later.  After years of working and having the two boy I can’t seem to sleep past this time unless I am out and awake extremely late.  Even then I often find myself only sleeping until about 8:00!

I was soon to discover that this would not be my usual Saturday morning.  I received a phone call shortly after pouring my morning cup of coffee.  It was my mom calling to let me know that my uncle had just passed away 😦

I wasn’t very close to my uncle, I am not very close with a large portion of my family.  I am not sure why that is, but as far back as I can remember with the exception of a few aunts we have never spent a lot of time with family.  Still it saddens me to see my momma go through the lose of a sibling.

The news this morning was bittersweet.  I know that sounds crazy so let me explain.  My uncle was diagnosed with diverticulitis about 15-16 months ago.  He had a terrible attack which required the removal of his colon and part of his intestines.  Until this attack no one had any idea he even had the disease.  During his surgery he suffered a massive stroke which required a transfer to a bigger more equipped hospital.  It was such a scary time but he pulled through. 

We were all under the assumption that he would be okay.  Several months after the stroke it was discovered that he had cancer.  My uncle has suffered for a year with this very ugly, aggressive disease.  He was literally covered with it – liver, pancreas, lungs, stomach, kidneys, etc.  He has fought a hard battle.  So you see when I say bittersweet it is bitter because of the loss, but sweet because we know that he is now in Heaven and no longer suffering.

Of course with such terrible news this morning I needed something to keep me busy.  I knew what the answer would be immediately.  I wanted to cook & bake.  So cook & bake I did.  I have several recipes to share with you today, and it has helped me so much this morning to work on the recipes to share for the blog.  I hope that you try them and enjoy them as much as we have.

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Almond Griddle Cakes (adapted from Clean Eating Mag)

  • 1/4 cup freshly ground almonds
  • 1/4 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 2 egg whites
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together almonds, baking powder, and cinnamon.  Add the maple syrup, and whisk the egg whites a little before adding them to the mixture.  
  2. Heat your griddle or pan and spray with non-stick spray (you may use a drizzle of oil as well).  Spoon out the batter on the griddle.  Cook for a few minutes until brown and you see bubbles.  Carefully flip the cake over and cook until the other side is browned.  Remove and place on a plate to keep warm until you finish cooking the cakes.

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These cakes were a nice change from my usual Saturday pancakes.  I topped mine with some sliced peaches (heat in microwave for 90 seconds), cinnamon, and maple syrup.  Of course they will go perfectly with any topping.

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The first picture is Kohl’s pancake – he insisted on taking the picture himself – which lead to Noah insisting that he take one of his pancake as well (chocolate chip) 🙂

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Lemon Squares

These are not your typical lemon squares.  My father loves for me to make him a Lemon Ice Box pie.  This recipe was inspired by that pie!  I wanted to make lemon squares, but I wanted to challenge myself.  Let’s try and make them vegan 🙂

Graham Cracker Crust

  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  • 1/8 c organic turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1 T oil
  • 2 T molasses
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1/4 c + 1 T almond milk
  1. Pre heat the oven to 350.  Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl until mixed.  You should be able to form a ball. 
  2. Prepare a pan by lining with parchment paper with the sides overlapping on each end.  This will help with easy removal/slicing.  With damp hands take the ball of dough and mash it out evenly covering the bottom of an eight by eight square pan.  Using a fork, poke holes throughout the crust.  Bake in the oven for 12-14 minutes.  12 minutes for a more doughy crust – 14 for a more crisp crust. 

** this recipe is actually a recipe for graham crackers that you would roll out until 1/8 inch flat and then cut in squares and bake.  I decided to take a short cut and bake in the pan the bars were going to be prepared in.  You can always make the crackers and follow the usual recipe, which states that you crumble up the graham crackers, mix with earth balance, and then mash into the bottom of the pan**

Lemon Curd Filling

  • 1 + 1/4 c almond milk
  • 1/2 c organic turbinado sugar
  • 2 T corn starch
  • 2 lemons – juiced
  • 1/2 c silken tofu
  • zest of one lemon
  1. Combine the milk and sugar in a sauce pan over medium heat.  Whisk to dissolve the sugar while slowly bringing the mixture to a boil.  Right before boiling spoon out 3 T of the milk and mix with the corn starch.  Once corn starch in dissolved pour it into the milk mixture and boil until thickened.  This is you “condensed” milk.  Remove from heat and set aside. 
  2. In a blender blend the silken tofu until smooth and creamy.  Add the lemon zest and lemon juice to the tofu and mix well.  Whisk the tofu mixture into the milk mixture.  Continue to whisk until all ingredients are incorporated.  Pour the mixture over the cooled crust and let it sit on the counter for about 20 minutes.  Place in the refrigerator and chill for at least three hours.

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The crust rocks!!

Okay so now I have to tell you a little story.  Earlier in the day the boys and I made a trip to our local Books-A-Million so I could browse a book I have my eye on before purchasing it.  While I am sprawled on the floor in the cooking isle with several books around me, Kohl comes over with a cupcake book and a request!  He informed me that I must go home and bake the “cherry cupcakes”.  He love Maraschino cherries.  Of course the recipe was for a black forest cupcake.  It took much persuasion to get him to place the book back on the shelf. 

Well wouldn’t you know that as soon as I came home and started browsing through some of the blogs I read daily, I came across Mama Pea’s newest blog….Black Forest Brownies!  My prayers have been answered without the purchase of a 20$ cupcake book 🙂

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So we made Mama Pea’s black forest brownie – cupcake style!  Thank you Mama Pea! 

You can get the recipe here.  I did however use my recipe for the icing and topped it with his favorite – cherries 🙂

Cream Cheese” Icing

  • 1/2 cup yogurt cheese
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 t vanilla

Mix all ingredients together until smooth and use as icing.

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Kohl was really excited to see these little gems sitting on the table.  Oops, one cherry short – guess I’ll have to eat that one!

All of the baking was relaxing and helped keep me calm, but I can’t live on lemon squares and brownie cupcakes all day (even if you really would want to), I had to give some consideration to dinner.  I wanted something simple, but also wanted a new recipe since I am in the “experiment in the kitchen” mode.  So my dinner was inspired by a recipe in one of my favorite magazines 🙂

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Polenta Pie (adapted from Clean Eating Mag)

Crust

  • 1 cup coarse cornmeal or polenta
    • (not de-germinated)
  • 1/2 t sea salt
  • 1/2 t dried sage
  • 1+1/2 t Italian seasoning
  • 1 T cajun seasoning

Filling

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 6 c spinach
  • 1 c cooked lentils
  1. Rub spring-form pan with a small amount of oil and set aside.  Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Bring 3 cups water to a boil.  add cornmeal and salt, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 25 minutes or utnil cornmeal is soft and creamy.  add more water if necessary.  remove from heat and stir in dried herbs.
  3. In a large skillet on medium heat sauté onion in oil until it just begins to turn translucent.  gently fold in spinach and cook for another 2 minutes, stir in the lentils and remove from heat.
  4. add half of the cornmeal to spring-form pan, using a spatula to smooth it across the bottom. Spoon the filling onto cormeal and to with the remaining layer of cornmeal.  Bake for 30-40 minutes or until top begins to turn golden brown.  Remove and let cool for at least 5 minutes.
  5. Unlock sides of pan, portion and serve as you would a pie.

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I accompanied my lovely meal with a nice roasted sweet potato.  It was delish!

So there you have it, all of the things that kept me busy today!  Now I think I will go enjoy a hot bath, a nice glass of vino (I deserve it), and try to lose myself in a book. 

What are some of the things you do when you feel the need to keep yourself busy?  Do you have any hobbies such as cooking/baking that you use for stress relief?

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Filed under baking, Breakfast, DINNER, Fruit, Uncategorized

lunch box

I was 12 minutes late leaving my house this morning.  Not 10, not 15, nope 12  minutes exactly.  Why??  Well of course it is the kiddos my fault!

I have to take the blame on this one.  You see last night all I could think about was pecan pie!  Yep, I totally missed out on this decadent dessert over the holidays.  For some odd reason no one made a pecan pie this year.  Did you know that pecans are one of my favorite nuts?  It is right up there with almonds 🙂

Of course I did not have any pecan pie at my house last night, and I wasn’t about to run out to the store and buy one of those full of artificial, chemical frozen pies.  So I had a bright idea….can’t you just see the light bulb going off now 🙂  What, might you ask, is the reason that this caused me to be 12 minutes late this morning?

Why not have “pecan pie” for breakfast!  Not an actual pecan pie but some yummy pecan pancakes.  These pancakes were sweet, full of pecans, and hit that lovely little craving spot.  Now while they may not taste like Grandma’s pecan pie, they did take care of that pesky little craving.

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Pecan Pancakes

  • 1 smashed banana
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour (or flour of choice)
  • 1/4 cup pecan pieces
  • 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 2 T flaxseed
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 t baking soda
  • 1 T honey
  • dash of salt
  • dash of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice ( I used coconut milk this morn)

Mix all ingredients into a bowl.  Preheat your griddle or pan and spray with non stick spray.  Cook the pancakes until nice and brown on both sides.

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Add a few more pecan pieces to the top and drizzle on the maple syrup.  The banana gave this pancake the sweetness that it needed to take care of the “pie” craving.  This was well worth the time taken to cook, and well worth being late!

Moving on to the topic for today’s post – LUNCH!

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This little beauty is what I had for lunch today.  2 slices of homemade bread spread with guacamole, topped with spinach, shredded chicken breast, a little salt & pepper, with a side of roasted veggies!  The perfect lunch 🙂

Of course I post occasionally about what I had for lunch, which is usually leftovers, but today’s post will be about the lunches that I pack for my boys.  I hate school cafeteria food!  It infuriates me that I will pay around 50$  for just one child to eat lunch at school per month only for them to be feed crap!  What is even worse is that the meals that are served at school are some of the only meals that some of our student’s get daily, that fact saddens me greatly.  We should feed our children more nutritious foods.  Why give them a lovely apple only to have it beside a “riblet” patty?

I will openly admit at this point that I pack lunch for my children, not because they are picky, but because I am picky.  I am in no way a perfect person, and yes my kids do occasionally get “junk food”, but I try to limit it as much as possible.  If they are having a snack I want it to be something that I have made in my own kitchen with real ingredients.  I have no problems with the boys enjoying cookies and cupcakes that I have made.  That being said, many of my friends/colleagues often ask what I pack for their lunches since I am such a “health fanatic” (their words not mine but yes I am).  I have devised a list of things that I use for school lunches 🙂

  1. Sandwiches – this food item is usually a daily addition to the lunch box.  I switch up what I use to keep them from getting tired of the sandwiches.  I buy  natural lunch meats and cheeses.  While they aren’t the healthiest choice it is better than the “riblet”.  I also use PB&J a lot.  The boys love those!  I only buy natural peanut butter and good real fruit jam.  I am a label reader.  Often I use stewed fruit or apple butter for their “jelly” part of the sammie.  Other types of sandwiches include grilled cheese, scrambled eggs, and egg salad.
  2. Fruit cups – again I make sure it is real fruit in natural fruit juices.  Now I am not talking about the ones that you find on the isle with the canned fruit.  I buy these little bowls in the produce section of the store, that way I know it is real sliced fruit. 
  3. Apple slices – sometimes I buy the pre-packaged/pre-sliced apples at the store, but more times than not I slice them a nice apple right out of our fruit bowl (which is always full).
  4. Fruit in general!  Grapes, sliced strawberries, cherries, sliced kiwi, etc.  I even place a banana in the lunch bag occasionally.  My kids love fruits of all kinds, and I must admit that they are more apt to eat it all at school as opposed to at home where they do have cookies, muffins, etc. 
  5. Yogurt – I try to buy the Stonyfield’s yogurt for my boys, but if we have to go with a basic yogurt I get Dannon since it has the least amount of added sugar in it.  I can at times get Kohl to eat Greek yogurt with honey, but I haven’t been able to get Noah to touch the stuff.  **Tip** freeze the yogurt the night before and it will not spoil in the bag.  By lunchtime it will “thaw” so  they can eat it!
  6. Hot foods – my boys love there thermos containers.  Whenever we cook something that I know can easily be packed in the thermos, the leftovers go to school with them.  Things such as spaghetti, chili, soup, casseroles, even the occasional spaghetti o’s.  I will send left over pizza and tacos with them as well since it can be eaten at room temperature.
  7. Chopped veggies and dip.  My kids really enjoy ranch dip.  I make it at home using good sour cream or Greek yogurt.  I have to work on Noah a little with the veggies but they love carrots and broccoli so those two items are always available at my house.
  8. Tortilla chips & salsa.  I can get a bag of organic tortilla chips at my local grocery store cheaper than the regular bags of chips!!  That is a no brainer right!
  9. Raisins, trail mix, or any other dried fruits that your child may like.  Make a mixture of their favorite fruits and nuts/seeds.  Add in a few chocolate chips for a sweet treat!  I also buy freeze dried pieces of fruit that are pre-packaged for the little ones.  They really love the dried apple chips 🙂

Now as I stated before my babies always have something yummy for snack at home that has been baked by mom.  I usually reserve these food items for after school/dinner snacks, but I do occasionally pack a nice home baked treat in their lunch bag as a surprise. 

Drinks seem to be my biggest challenge when it comes to my kids.  They love chocolate & strawberry milks, but it may not always be easy or economical to send this to school with them.  I try to get the silk milk cartons or the horizon organic milk cartons when I can, but I have to be honest and say that when you are packing for two this isn’t always an option.  I mean you only get like three cartons to the pack, that is not enough for one child for the week much less two.  The other problem is that my kids love capri suns!  While it is less sugar than some drinks it is not very clean and healthy.  I do let them have capri suns but balance it out with other drinks at home.  Those are only allowed in lunches or at parties.  They love tea and this is made at home, so it does make it into the lunch bag as well.  My biggest challenge is getting them to drink plain water. 

So there you have it!  Some of my ideas for school lunches.  Just be sure to purchase a good sturdy lunch bag, a few ice packs, and some small containers that will fit into the bag.  I hope this helps you guys with trying to pack for your own little ones.  If you have any questions or comments please leave one here or email me.  My contact information can be found to the right 🙂

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Filed under Breakfast, Fruit, lunch, Uncategorized

Fresh is Best!

UGH…..yep those are my words every morning.  Ugh….I need more sleep.  Ugh….my mouth tastes nasty (sorry but we all know it’s true).  Ugh…these darned rubber bands on these braces are aggravating…..on and on and on.  I could list a million but I will not grace bore you with my lovely morning personality!

So what was different about this morning?  I still needed more sleep (or so I thought), I still had a nasty taste in my mouth (thank goodness someone thought of brushing many years ago), and I still wanted to scream because I have these darned rubber bands.  This morning was different because it started off with a little freshness 🙂

How is that you say?  Let me back up by several hours and explain!

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Okay so now your mouth is crying because it feels neglected watering, right?  Yep, I made a little trip to the produce stand yesterday.  I tell you I am obsessed in love with that place:)  The trip was a success: strawberries, tangelos, tangerines, qumquats, cherries, lemons, limes, bananas, apples, cucumbers, tomatoes, and romaine hearts.

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You see that lovely label.  This farm is within several miles from my house.  That’s right!  I live in the middle of strawberry land, and it is getting closer to having an abundance of these available.  They will be everywhere – grocery stores, produce stands, road side stands, heck we even have a bus driver at our school that has a farm! 🙂 

You see Ponchatoula, LA strawberries are the best!  We even have a festival every April to celebrate this wonderful fruit.  There is nothing like a nice ripe, sweet, juicy strawberry from Ponchatoula area farms 🙂

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Except for maybe this!  Lovely oatmeal pancakes topped with a little peanut butter (hey every pancake deserves some type of butter right?), sliced fresh strawberries, sliced bananas, and a drizzle of pure maple syrup!

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OH what a morning!  So this made my day a little brighter 🙂

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My  morning snack was just as yummy.  A nice cup of Greek yogurt mixed with vanilla protein powder, cinnamon, and cherries, with a tangerine on the side. 

I carried over the theme of “freshness” into lunch and afternoon snack as well.

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A nice bottle of cucumber water to go with my lunch:)

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A lovely Creamsicle smoothie – recipe courtesy of Angela at Oh She Glows – that lady knows how to whip up a treat!  I halved the recipe since I only needed one smoothie for me, used frozen tangerine slices since I do not have clementines, and I added vanilla protein powder to the mix so I would have my protein in with my carbs.  This is one of the best smoothies ever:)

  • 1/2 ripe banana, sliced & frozen
  • 1/4 small avocado, frozen
  • 1-2 tangerines peeled, segmented, & frozen
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 date, pitted and chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.   You may add more milk if needed to thin out a little.

So the theme for my day was fresh fruit!  Do you ever have days that have a certain food group show up repeatedly?

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