Archive Page 2

Green Monster Smoothie

Ever since the first time I heard of a green monster smoothie I was intrigued.  How could a smoothie with this much spinach in it not taste like, well, spinach?  I see variations of these green smoothies all the time on food blogs and healthy living blogs and everyone swears you cannot taste the spinach.  Don’t get me wrong, I do like the taste of spinach; it’s just not something I would have thought would be good in a smoothie.

But after making these delicious green monster smoothies, I can say that it’s true- aside from the pretty green color it imparts, you really cannot tell that there is spinach in these smoothies.  But it’s there (and lots of it too- 3 cups!).  It’s a great addition because it bumps up the nutrition factor, providing lots of calcium, vitamin C, fiber, folic acid, and potassium.  This smoothie is so refreshing.  I love the flavors of pineapple, pear, citrus, and bananas, and the honey adds a touch of sweetness.  The next time you are looking for a healthy snack or breakfast treat, try this smoothie recipe!

Green Monster Smoothie

(print recipe)

Ingredients

  • 1 banana (frozen or not), cut into chunks
  • 1 cup chopped frozen pineapple
  • 1 pear, coarsely chopped
  • 1½ cups orange juice
  • 3 cups baby spinach leaves, rinsed and dried
  • 1-2 tbsp. honey
  • 3 tbsp. ground flaxseed (optional)

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until completely smooth.
  2. Taste and adjust sweetness with additional honey, if desired.  Serve immediately.

Yield: 2-3 servings

Source: Annie’s Eats

One Year Ago: Italian Sausage Ragu

Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

A few days ago I was in the mood for chocolate chip cookies.  Typically when I make chocolate chip cookies I use either Nestle’s Tollhouse chocolate chip cookie recipe or Baking Illustrated’s Thick & Chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe.  I love both of those recipes, but since I’m expecting, I wanted to try a recipe that was a little bit healthier, so I made these oatmeal chocolate chip cookies instead.  In reality, they are probably not that much better for you (cookies are cookies after all!) but the fact that there is quite a bit of oatmeal in them does make me feel better about indulging in them.  :)

These cookies are so delicious – I love the chewy texture and the oatmeal flavor really comes through in them.  The secret to these cookies is that the oats are finely ground into a powder (instead of being left whole) before they are mixed into the batter.  I really like how the oatmeal powder provides the flavor (and health benefits!) of oats but with a much smoother texture than other oatmeal cookies.  I used semisweet chocolate chips in my cookies, but you could also use dark or milk chocolate, or omit the chocolate altogether and just make plain oatmeal cookies.  I hope you find these cookies as irresistible as I do!

Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

(print recipe)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾  teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (add a pinch more for softer cookies)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 12-16 ounces chocolate chips (semisweet, milk, dark chocolate, or a combination – add more or less chocolate depending on your taste)
  • 1 ½ cups chopped nuts (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line 1 or 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars.  Add the eggs and vanilla extract and mix to combine.
  3. After measuring out the rolled oats, place them in a food processor and process them until they turn to powder.
  4. Place all of the dry ingredients (oatmeal powder, flour, salt, baking powder & baking soda) in a separate bowl and whisk to combine.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer and mix until fully incorporated.  Then add the chocolate and nuts and mix to combine.  Place rounded tablespoon-sized balls of dough on the cookie sheets (a cookie scoop works well for this).
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees F.  Cool the cookies on the cookie sheets for 2 minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yield:  Approximately 5 dozen cookies

Source: Adapted from a family friend

One Year Ago: Beach Ball Sugar Cookies

Two Little Cupcakes (An Announcement!)

You may have wondered why I haven’t been updating my blog very frequently lately.  Well, I do have a good reason!  In just a few months, my little family of two will become a family of four.  That’s right; Eric and I are expecting twins!  :)  We are having two girls and we are so excited!  Needless to say, I have been quite busy preparing for their arrival.  But I promise I will share the recipe for these yummy funfetti cupcakes very soon!

I also want to thank my sisters, Kristine and Lisa, and my Mom, who hosted a baby shower for me and my twin girls this past weekend.  The shower was so much fun and our friends and family were all so generous.  Please head on over to Kristine’s blog to see a recap of the baby shower, including all of the creative and adorable details and decorations, delicious menu, and fun games that we played. 

 

Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies

I am happy to report that I have finally found the perfect peanut butter cookie recipe!  Before finding this little gem, I tried a couple of mediocre recipes.  In my opinion, the perfect peanut butter cookie must be soft, chewy, and flavorful.  The other two recipes I tried resulted in crunchy cookies, which is the opposite of what I was hoping for.  After the first two recipes I tried (both from cookbooks that I own) failed to produce a soft and chewy cookie, I turned to the internet to look for a new recipe.  And what better way to find a soft and chewy peanut butter cookie recipe than to Google “Soft & Chewy peanut butter cookies” ?!  Several search results came up, and I came across this one.  With 39 five-star reviews, this Mrs. Field’s recipe sounded promising.

After making these cookies, this recipe certainly wins my seal of approval!  These peanut butter cookies are soft, chewy and perfectly peanut butter flavored.  And they are so easy to make too.  Both of the other recipes I tried required you to roll the cookie dough into balls and then into sugar… which is a lot of extra work if you ask me.  For this recipe, I just used my 1-inch cookie scoop to measure out the dough balls, placed them on the cookie sheet, and baked them- so much easier than having to roll each dough ball into sugar!  The hardest part about making this recipe is that the cookies must bake for 20 minutes, so that means you have to wait 20 minutes to eat one!  :/  But trust me, they are worth the wait.  :)

I love the combination of chocolate and peanut butter, so I added chocolate squares to some of the cookies. To do this, just press a small square of chocolate (I used Hershey’s) into the center of the cookie right after you take the cookies out of the oven. The chocolate will melt into the hot cookie.

Soft & Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies

(print recipe)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¼ cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Mix dry ingredients (flour, baking soda & salt) together in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until well combined.  Add the eggs, peanut butter, and vanilla extract; beat until fluffy.  On low speed, add the flour mixture and mix until just mixed into the butter mixture (do not overmix)!
  4. Drop by rounded tablespoonful, 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake until the edges of the cookies are lightly browned, approximately 18-20 minutes.  Remove from the cookie sheets and let cool.

Notes –

  • Do not over bake the cookies or they won’t be soft and chewy.
  • The dough for these cookies is really soft.  I recommend chilling it in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes before baking the cookies, and it will be much easier to work with!

Yield: 3-4 dozen cookies (depending on size)

Source:  slightly adapted from Food.com

One Year AgoLemony Couscous with Peas and Chicken

Chicken with White Beans & Tomatoes

Whenever I want a healthy, protein-rich meal, I turn to this recipe.  I tore this recipe out of Real Simple magazine (one of my favorites!) several months ago and have already made it three times.  It’s a simple baked dish that is comprised of chicken, cannellini beans, and tomatoes.  Baking the chicken with some garlic, herbs, and chicken broth makes it super moist and so flavorful.  It’s also incredibly easy to make and requires very minimal prep work, so it’s perfect for busy weeknights!

Chicken with White Beans & Tomatoes

(print recipe)

Ingredients

  • 2 (15.5-ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 4 sprigs fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼  teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • ¼ cup dry white wine or chicken broth
  • Chicken broth

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 375° F.  In a 9-by-13-inch (or some other large) baking dish, toss the beans and tomatoes with the thyme and oregano sprigs, garlic, red pepper, 1 tablespoon of the oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper.
  2. Pat the chicken dry and place on top of the bean mixture.  Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of oil over the chicken; season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper.  Pour the white wine (or chicken broth) into the baking dish and then add enough chicken broth so that the liquid is approximately ¼ inch deep.
  3. Bake until the chicken is golden and cooked through, approximately 35 to 45 minutes, or until it registers 165 degrees F.

Serves: 4

Source: adapted from Real Simple Magazine, January 2011

S’mores Cake

When I saw this cake featured on Annie’s Eats, I just knew I had to make it ASAP so it went straight to the top of my list of recipes to try.  This cake was truly exceptional.  I expected it to be good and all, but it wasn’t just good; it was really really good.  It’s a two-layer graham cracker flavored cake that is super moist, flavorful, and buttery.  It made my house smell amazing as it was baking in the oven.  It’s the kind of aroma that you just want to bottle up and turn into a scented candle so that you can enjoy it all the time.  Marshmallow fluff is sandwiched between the two cake layers and then the entire cake is covered in a silky milk chocolate glaze.  The top of the cake is garnished with even more marshmallow fluff as well as graham crackers and chocolate bars.  This cake is the perfect thing to make to kick off the summer season!  And it really does taste like a giant s’more.  Try it, you will definitely want to eat s’more of it!  (Sorry, I couldn’t resist! :)  )  Enjoy!

S’mores Cake

(print recipe)

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (to make the crumbs, pulse graham crackers in a food processor until they are finely ground)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole milk

For the filling:

  • Marshmallow fluff

For the milk chocolate glaze:

  • 8 oz. milk chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp. light corn syrup

For decoration:

  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup marshmallow fluff
  • ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1-2 tsp. milk
  • Small rectangles of graham cracker and milk chocolate, for garnish

Directions

  1. To make the cake, preheat the oven to 375° F.  Line the bottom of two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper.  Grease and flour the sides of the pans; set aside.  In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt; stir together and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.  Transfer the egg whites to a separate bowl and set aside.  Replace the mixer bowl and fit it with the paddle attachment.  Cream together the butter and sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Mix in the egg yolks until well combined.  Stir in the vanilla extract.
  3. Add in the dry ingredients in three additions, alternately with the milk (in 2 additions) on low speed, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated.  Using a rubber spatula, fold in about a third of the egg whites to lighten the batter.  Gently fold in the remaining egg whites until completely incorporated.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans.  Bake the cakes for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for about 5-10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack, remove the parchment paper and let cool completely.
  5. Once the cake has cooled completely, transfer one of the cake layers to a foil-covered cardboard cake circle and place on a serving platter.  Carefully spread a layer of marshmallow fluff over the cake.  Top with the remaining cake layer and refrigerate for approximately 1 hour.
  6. To make the milk chocolate glaze, combine the chocolate, cream, butter and corn syrup in a double boiler or heatproof bowl set over simmering water.  Heat until the chocolate has melted, and then whisk the ingredients together until completely smooth.  Pour the glaze over the top of the chilled cake, allowing it to run down the sides of the cake in some places.  Return the cake to the refrigerator to chill until set.
  7. To make the marshmallow frosting for decoration, combine the butter and marshmallow fluff in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium speed until smooth.  Beat in the confectioners’ sugar until well combined.  Stir in the milk to smooth the frosting out a bit, adding a tiny bit more liquid if necessary.
  8. Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip.  Pipe dollops of frosting around the edges of the chilled cake and decorate with small rectangles of graham cracker and milk chocolate.  Store the cake in the refrigerator until ready to serve, and allow it to sit at room temperature about 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

Source: slightly adapted from Annie’s Eats; Originally adapted from Baking Bites

Banana Cinnamon Muffins

A few days ago my fruit bowl was full of overly ripe bananas.  I don’t like to eat over-ripe bananas by themselves – I only like plain bananas that are yellow or even have a slight hint of green to them.  So whenever my bananas get brown spots on them, I try to find another use for them.  Usually I put them into smoothies (click here for my favorite smoothie recipe!)  But this time I was in the mood for something different.  So I did a quick recipe search and found this recipe for banana cinnamon muffins that I recently bookmarked in Google Reader.

These muffins were so moist and flavorful, and I love that they are healthy too.  There is hardly any sugar or butter in them, and if you do the math, you’ll notice that each muffin has a whole 1/3 of a banana in it.  I really like the cinnamon flavor in these muffins, though I think they could use even more cinnamon, so next time I make them I am going to use 1 ½ to 2 teaspoons of cinnamon instead of one.  The recipe makes 12 muffins, and I stored the extra muffins in the freezer so that they stay super fresh.  Pair one of these muffins with a glass of calcium-fortified orange juice for a healthy and delicious breakfast!

Banana Cinnamon Muffins

(print recipe)

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 over-ripe bananas, mashed
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups  all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease a muffin tin or line with baking cups.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and continue to beat.  Mix in the mashed banana.  Stir in the milk and vanilla extract.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just blended.
  4. Spoon the batter evenly between the muffin cups and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Allow to cool and store in an airtight container at room temperature or in the freezer.
  5. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 12 standard size muffins

Source: The Pastry Affair

One Year Ago: Tomato, Mozzarella, & Basil Tart


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