Delicious (Paleo) Pumpkin Muffins

paleopumpkin

We are sitting on the eve of a two-month eating spree.  Healthy options will make you feel and look better this holiday season.  I love baked goods, and have made several healthy muffins that had either no taste or a horrible texture.  I love these pumpkin muffins.  They are technically considered paleo because they contain no wheat or dairy.  You can glam them up by adding chocolate chips, and you will still be better off than eating traditional muffins made with flour and sugar.

Recipe:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  It is important to either line your muffin tin or spray the pan well with PAM baking spray so the muffins don’t stick.

Mix together the following ingredients:

1 cup pumpkin puree (I prefer organic)

1 cup almond butter

1/2 cup raw honey

2 eggs

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

Pour evenly into 12 small to medium muffin cups or 9 larger.  Bake until fork comes out clean, approximately 22-23 minutes.

ENJOY!

xo,

Brooke

 

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Eat: Five-Minute Chicken

5minchicken

In college, all the guys went to a hair dresser in town called five-minute Linda.  While you can speculate about where they came up with the name, the word on the street was that she could give a great trim in a short amount of time.  This earned her a positive reputation: quick and good.  This is my mantra when it comes to cooking dinner.

Cooking dinner for my family is something that stresses me out almost on a daily basis.  While I’d love to be able to tell you I have some cute little spreadsheet with meals planned out weeks in advance, as I write, I don’t even know what we are going to have to eat tonight.

This dish is delicious and easy.  You can make this in five minutes or less, let it marinate all day, and if you make extra, you’ve even got lunch for the next day.

My new find is chicken thighs.  I’m kind of over breasts for right now (my own included if we’re going to be open about things).  This recipe can be made with boneless or bone-in thighs.  I’ve baked them and grilled them.  I would vote for the oven over the grill.  If you do grill them, I’d say about 5 minutes per side on medium heat.

Here is what you need:

6-8 chicken thighs of choice

4 TBSP honey (I prefer raw)

6 tsp garlic (in a jar, much faster than the real deal and works just fine in my opinion).

1 TBSP dried parsley (who has time to wash and cut fresh?  Maybe when my kids go to college).

1 C Olive Oil (Olive Oil is a staple item.  It runs my kitchen like gas runs my car.  Keep lots on hand).

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (Add more if your family likes spice).

Mix all ingredients and pour over chicken.  Cover and refrigerate.

Marinate all day if you can, or at least an hour.  Bake for 25 minutes at 425 degrees, or grill.  Grilling does not hold the flavor as well, but it would be better over a salad.

Enjoy your (quick) dinner!

xo,

Brooke

 

Eat: My very favorite pie

My very favorite pie is Ina Garten’s frozen key lime pie.  I made it for G’s birthday and we usually lick the pan clean.  If you are in need of a delicious dessert, look no further.  It’s hard to ever go wrong with Ina Garten.  I own every cookbook she has ever written, and have found so many recipes that are tried and true.

Here is my pie…

keylime

Speaking of pie, I am looking for a really good blueberry pie recipe.  Do you have one you can share?

Happy pie-making!

xo,

Brooke

Eat: Delicious (Paleo) Blueberry Muffins

bluemuff

I’ve felt my best when eating Paleo, although following it strictly is very tough for me.  I found a great muffin recipe and made it this morning after tweaking it to my liking.  It’s great for the Gluten Free crowd too, or anyone looking to just be healthier at breakfast time.

My #1 criteria when baking anything Paleo or Gluten Free is that it has to be moist.  Often times, recipes look great but end up tasting like cardboard.  This recipe definitely passed my moist requirement.

The recipe follows.  The only adjustment I might try next time is adding in some lemon zest, maybe a few tablespoons.  I think it would give it a new dimension.

(Paleo) Blueberry Muffins

Makes 12 regular size or 18 smaller muffins.

Preheat oven to 350.

In one bowl mix 1 c. coconut flour, 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, and 1/2 tsp. baking powder.  Make sure the bowl is big enough as you will add your wet ingredients to it.

In the second bowl, mix 1/2 cup melted coconut oil, 6 eggs, 1/3 c. of honey, and 2-3 tsp. vanilla (I love vanilla).

Mix wet ingredients into dry bowl and thoroughly combine either by hand or with a hand mixer.

Next, mix in 1 cup fresh blueberries.  If fresh can’t be found, frozen will suffice.

Bake at 350 for about 22-23 minutes.  Insert a fork to be sure it comes out clean.

Cool and enjoy!

xo,

Brooke

 

 

Eat: Wild Rice Salad

wildricesalad

In my estimation, you can never enjoy enough salad.   Ideally, my perfect summer meal consists of two types of salad and fresh fish.

I made this Wild Rice Salad recipe on Friday night and had just this little bit left over to capture in a photo.  This is an easy recipe, looks colorful, and would be perfect to bring to a party.

Ingredients:

2 boxes of Long Grain & Wild Rice (I bought mine at Whole Foods, Uncle Ben’s is great too)

2 medium ripe avocados, diced

1 TBSP lemon juice

3/4 c. diced scallions including greens

10-12 sun-dried tomatoes, bottled in oil, diced (use scissors to cut them)

1/4 c. red wine vinegar

1/2 c. olive oil

kosher salt and fresh pepper to taste

1/4 c. fresh parsley

Directions:

Cook the rice and then cool in a bowl.

Add tomatoes, scallions, and parsley to bowl.

Whisk together vinegar, oil, salt and pepper and pour over rice.

Mix carefully.  Add diced avocado last.  Add lemon to avocado to prevent browning if you are going to make this ahead of time.

In case you are interested, I paired this with a goat cheese, walnut, and beet salad and Ina Garten’s Indonesian swordfish recipe.  Delicious!

ENJOY!

xo,

Brooke

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eat: Good Morning Smoothie

blender

Thanks to my friend Elaina, and some playing around with the recipe on my own, I’ve come up with a smoothie that is tasty, healthy, and filling. Whether you own a Vitamix, or a basic blender, you can get creative and come up with delicious concoctions for yourself or your kids. Smoothies have been my “go to” for getting enough fruits and vegetables into my own kids, and there are plenty of nights that I’ve presented these to them as dessert. In the morning, I’ve been having one of these along with a hard-boiled egg, and I am not hungry until lunchtime.

Here’s what you will need:
3/4 c. almond milk
1/2 ripe banana (even overly ripe)
1 c. frozen berries of your choice
6-8 oz. greek yogurt of choice (I use either strawberry, peach, or blueberry)
1/2 c. pineapple juice
3/4 c. baby spinach leaves
1-2 ice cubes
Optional: top with Qi’a. I LOVE the crunch this gives it. My husband, on the other hand, told me it tasted like birdseed. I’ll let you be the judge, but I got a huge bag at Costco and you could also put it on oatmeal or cereal.

Here are the berries I used…also available at Costco. Any type will do, but these are delicious.
fruit

After about one minute in my blender, this is what I got…
smoothie

Lastly, this is the Qi’a topping I used…
quia

If you have a favorite smoothie recipe, please share!
YUM!
xo,
Brooke

Eat: Dave’s Fries

davesfries

Our good friend Dave makes the world’s best homemade fries ever.  To be honest, I had all but given up on french fries.  They were something I loved as a child and a teenager, but have tried to avoid as an adult.  Usually they are just too greasy, and feel like the “filler” on the plate, making them simply not worth the calories.

Dave has changed all that with his fabulous recipe, and I’ve made his fries several times for our family and friends.  Every time I make them, people ask how I did it.

Recipe:

I use Yukon Gold Yellow Potatoes.  I figure 1-2 medium-sized potatoes per person, depending on their appetites.  We like them as leftovers with scrambled eggs the next day, so I always make extra.

Preheat your oven to 425.  Fully spray a cookie sheet (or two, depending on how many you are making) with PAM or coat it with olive oil.  The fries stick like crazy if you don’t do this in advance.

Peel and slice your potatoes into thin slices.  I like them very thin, but you can slice them anywhere from 1/4 inch to 1 inch in thickness.

My directions assume you are using 6-8 medium-sized potatoes.  Put sliced potatoes into a large bowl.  Coat  liberally in olive oil.  Use 1/4 to 1/3 cup of olive oil.  Sprinkle generously with Lawry’s salt.  Finally, shake Worcestershire sauce over them, using a total of 2-4 teaspoons.

Toss the mixture, then using a slotted spoon, transfer to the cookie sheet.  Be sure they are spread out really well.  You do not want any layers of potatoes on the cookie sheet.  Cook for 10 minutes on a middle rack, then move them around.  Check again in 10 more minutes, moving them around again.  Mine take about 30-35 minutes to make, but every oven is a bit different.  I recommend a metal spatula for this process, so that you can really move them around well.

You may find that the next time you make them, you may want to use more or less of the seasonings, depending on your taste.

You won’t look at fries the same way ever again, and you will be providing a gourmet delight with very little effort.   Just try not to eat them all before you serve them!

xo,

Brooke

Eat: Cookie Dough Bars

cookiebars

After seeing these bars floating around the Pinterosphere for several weeks, I decided to try them.  I don’t know where they originally came from, but they are heavenly.  There are two reasons you should make them…

1- They are SO easy to make!

2- They taste SO good!

I LOVE that they call for sweetened condensed milk in place of raw eggs, but when you taste them, you won’t know the difference.  I also love that they took all of 15 minutes to make and then maybe 5 minutes to frost later on.

My best advice: cut them small, like pieces of fudge.  They are DENSE!

Here is the recipe:

½ c. unsalted butter, softened
¾ c. packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. good flour (I use King Arthur)
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
2 c. mini chocolate chips
½ cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup milk chocolate chips

Line an 8×8 inch pan with parchment paper.  I don’t recommend anything but parchment paper or you will have a mess on your hands when you go to cut them.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together butter (I melted it first in the microwave) and brown sugar until well combined.  Then, add vanilla and continue mixing.
Turn the mixer to low and alternate the flour and the sweetened condensed milk until combined. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
Press the cookie dough into the bottom of the 8×8 pan. It may be a bit sticky so lightly flour your hands if needed.
Cover your bars with aluminum foil and refrigerate for 2-4 hours or ideally, overnight.  They need to be firm before adding topping.
To make the topping, combine the peanut butter and ½ cup chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Stir every 30 seconds until smooth. It took me about 2 minutes, but all microwaves are different.  Pour and spread over the top of the chilled dough and refrigerate for at least for 1 hour until firm.

Now try not to eat the entire pan!

xo,

Brooke

Eat: Best.Cupcakes.Ever.

cupcake

My children went to a birthday party this past Spring where the hostess served most divine cupcakes I’ve ever tasted on this earth.  They were so delicious that all I could do was inhale them and irrationally tell myself that I would face the consequences later on.  I parked myself next to the table, hoping nobody was watching the  sheer gluttony that was unfolding as I licked my fingers of frosting, frantically shoving in every last crumb.   I think I ate three full-sized cupcakes in less than ten minutes. After the party, I asked the hostess for the recipe, and she gladly shared.  I love this woman because she is a full-time lawyer yet I’ve never heard her say  “I’m so busy,”  she just gets things done.  She stayed up all night the evening before this party baking and frosting 150 cupcakes (I know that seems like a lot, but she probably wanted to be well-prepared for people like me who would put a real dent in the inventory).  I admire her can-do attitude almost as much as I admire her cupcakes.
Heather’s Best.Cupcakes.Ever!
This recipe makes A LOT of cupcakes, around 50, so you can scale it down accordingly.
The Cupcakes:
I highly recommend doing this with your Kitchen Aid mixer if you own one.  Start by creaming 3 sticks of unsalted butter.  While butter is creaming, slowly add 3.5 cups of sugar (gulp!), a bit at a time.  Scrape the bowl as you go, ensuring it is all well-combined.  One at a time, add 6 room temperature eggs (let them stand for at least 30 minutes before using them), and mix well after each egg is added.  Mix in 2 TBSP of vanilla, even if you are making chocolate cupcakes.  For other flavors of cupcakes, instead add 1 TBSP vanilla plus 2 TBSP flavoring (lemon, almond, etc.).  In a separate bowl, whisk together 5 cups of King Arthur flour, 2 scant TBSP of baking powder, and 1 tsp of kosher salt. (If you are making chocolate cupcakes, use only 4.5 cups of flour and add 1 cup of powdered baking cocoa).  Mixing on low speed, slowly add flour mixture and 2.5 cups of fresh milk to the butter batter.  You need to add it bit by bit.  Mix until just incorporated.  Pour batter into paper lined muffin tins (no more than 2/3 full), and bake in a 375 degree oven for 16-18 minutes.  The tops of the cupcakes should be barely browned, and will have risen to the tops of their paper cups.  Remove right away and let cool on a rack.  Once cupcakes are cool, frost immediately.
The Butter Frosting (YUM!) 
Cream six sticks of room temperature salted butter.  Once butter is well creamed, reduce mixer speed to low and add two TBSP vanilla and any food coloring desired.  (If you are making chocolate frosting, add 1 cup powdered cocoa and/or up to 2 cups of melted chocolate chips and substitute almond flavoring for vanilla if desired).   Once mixed, increase speed to medium and slowly add powdered sugar.  Depending on moisture content of batter, it will take 9-12 cups of powdered sugar to reach the right texture (at this point the batter should be smooth but way too stiff to spread like frosting).
 Slowly add milk to frosting, incorporating one tablespoon at a time, until frosting is proper spreading consistency.
Use immediately to frost cooled cupcakes.
Assuming the butter and milk are fresh, these will keep several hours at room temperature.  The texture is better if they are not refrigerated.  If needed, the frosted cupcakes can be frozen.
If it’s sounds like a lot, I’ve tried to be as detailed as possible.  You can easily do this in one hour start to finish!  ENJOY!
Not a baker?  No problem!  
Get out and enjoy a cupcake (or three) at one of my favorite cupcake bakeries, Georgetown Cupcake: http://www.georgetowncupcake.com/ OR Magnolia Bakery http://www.magnoliabakery.com/  They even ship!  Imagine how happy you’d be to see cupcakes arrive at your door!
Bon Appetit!
xo,
Brooke
 

Chili Share

Last week we were stuck inside for two days straight.  I survived with lots of Pinot Noir, including my absolute favorite, Erath (http://www.erath.com).  At around $15 a bottle, I promise you will love every sip.  If you’re a Pinot person, definitely try it.  I usually get mine at Trader Joe’s.

erath

Frankly, a liquid diet would have been just fine for me after two weeks of eating my way through the holidays.  When I went to put on my yoga pants this morning, I felt like a sausage being crammed into a casing that was way too tight for me, (yes, even with all that lycra).  However, I needed to come up with something to keep Mr. Wonderful and the three kids from starving.  I pulled out my crock pot and decided on chili. 

One of the best and worst things about making chili is that there are about ten zillion recipes on the internet.  I love the variety that offers us in the kitchen, as I’m always looking for easy and tasty recipes. I was thinking about my grandmother sixty years ago, when the options were either THE JOY OF COOKING or some other archaean cookbook with notes in the margins about how to keep your husband happy with a good meal.  My husband found an old cookbook of his grandmother’s at the family cabin up in Maine like that, and he got a real kick out of telling me how I should pamper him more after a long day.  I know I’m not alone when I say I’m very happy to be handing my husband a basket of laundry to fold instead of a gin and tonic when he walks in the door after work.  Thank goodness for progress, people!

All kidding aside, here’s what I came up with:

Brooke’s Snow Day Chili

1/4 c. olive oil, 2 lbs. organic beef, small yellow onion, 1 can of pinto beans (15 oz.), 1 can of kidney beans (15 oz.), Can of tomato sauce (30 oz.), Can of diced tomatoes (30 oz.), TBSP of chili powder, 1 1/2 tsp of oregano, 1/2 tsp pepper (I would add more if you’re a pepper person.  I’m just not), 1/2 tsp. Tabasco, 1 1/4 tsp kosher salt.

Cooking chili is something even a complete culinary moron can master easily.  Simply saute the onion in the olive oil on medium/low for about 10 minutes before adding the beef.  Brown it all, drain the fat, and put into your crock pot.  Start adding everything on my list, stir it all up, and cook on low for 5-6 hours.  Taste along the way, and adjust seasoning as needed to your liking.

  Do you have a favorite chili recipe you can share?  I would love to start a chili chain.  I’m looking for beef, turkey, or chicken recipes.  Sadly, my kids will not eat vegetarian chili.  Mine turned out well for small children because it was not too spicy but could be doctored up for those who want a little more vavoom.

chilipicture

**In full disclosure, I forgot to photograph my chili before we ate it all, so this is a photo I found on the internet and deserve no credit for it.

Enjoy your chili!

xo,

Brooke