Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Chocolate Peanut Butter Crispy Brown Rice Squares

Sometimes thoughts of what my life will be like when all three of my kiddies have grown and no longer live in our home pop into my head.  I don't really like those thoughts.  They make me heart sad and I'm guaranteed a tear or two rolling down my cheek. 

Don't get me wrong, we have our moments when all five of us are driving each other nuts, moments when someone isn't as kind as they should be, and moments when I want to walk up to my room, close my door, and go to bed and it's only nine in the morning.  But, when my three kiddies grow up to be big humans and have lives and families of their own, I will remember and miss all the small things that made up our everyday lives. 

I will miss making breakfast for them in the morning.  I will miss being asked to "come cover me up."  I will miss kissing hands before school.  I will miss family dinners every night (however crazy they may be).  I will miss hearing "Mom" a hundred times a day.  I will miss "sleep loose" and "sweet dreams".  I will miss hearing about their day, their friends, what they did at recess, and I will miss our afterschool snacks.  (Stella told me after she moves out she'll still come over for a snack in the afternoon.)

I know when we get to that point in our lives, each of us will figure out a new normal, but until then, here's to many more afterschool snacks!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Crispy Brown Rice Squares

2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup honey
3/4 cup brown rice syrup
1 1/2 cups unsweetened peanut butter
1/2 cup sesame seeds, toasted
6 cups crispy brown rice cereal
1 cup chopped dry-roasted peanuts
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips, divided

Spray a 9 by 13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.  In a saucepan, combine the butter, honey, brown rice syrup, and peanut butter.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until warmed and combined.

In a very large bowl, combine the sesame seeds, crispy rice cereal, peanuts, and salt.  Pour the peanut butter mixture over the dry ingredients and fold until the peanut butter mixture evenly coats the dry ingredients.  Let cool for a couple of minutes and add 1 cup of chocolate chips to the peanut butter/cereal mixture and stir to combine.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and using the back of a spatula or a bench scraper, press to create a nice, even layer.  Sprinkle the remaining 3/4 cup chocolate chips on top (I like to give my chocolate chips a rough chop before I sprinkle them on top) and press again down again with the back of spatula or a bench scraper.

Refrigerate of at least 1 hour before cutting into squares in the pan.  Cover and store at room temperature for 3 to 4 days.  (We like to keep ours in the freezer.)

Recipe slightly adapted from Whole Grain Mornings

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Spicy Peanut Stew with Butternut Squash and Chickpeas

My mouth instantly started to water as this stew began to rumble on my stovetop.  Smells of garlic, ginger, cumin, and cinnamon filled my house and I could hardly wait for dinner (I made it early in the day and had to fight the urge not to eat it for lunch).  There is something about a big pot of stew that speaks to the comfort food girl inside of me.  (It also speaks to leftover girl inside me...I love good leftovers for lunch and this makes really, really great leftovers.)

Spicy Peanut Stew with Butternut Squash and Chickpeas

3 tablespoons canola oil
2 medium red onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Serrano pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 can (14.5 ounces) crushed fire roasted tomatoes
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1 cup creamy natural peanut butter
4 cups vegetable stock
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2" chunks (about 1 pound 4 ounces of cubed squash)
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup spicy peanuts, roughly chopped (recipe follows)

To Serve

Grain of choice
Finely chopped kale or roughly chopped baby spinach
Cherry tomatoes, sliced
Cilantro, roughly chopped
Spicy Peanuts

Add the oil to a large soup pot set over medium heat.  Heat oil until it just starts to sizzle then add the chopped onions and sauté until transparent; about 5-6 minutes.  Add the garlic, Serrano pepper, and ginger and sauté for 1-2 minutes.  Next, add the cumin, turmeric, and cinnamon and stir until everything is combined and the spices are fragrant.

Add the fire roasted tomatoes, tomato paste, peanut butter, and vegetable stock to the pot and stir to combine.  Stir in the squash, chickpeas, and chopped spicy peanuts.  Bring the stew to a low rumble and reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 35-40 minutes or until the squash is just tender.

Serve the stew in bowls and top with a scoop of your favorite grain, finely chopped kale (or spinach), sliced cherry tomatoes, cilantro, and spicy peanuts.

*I actually like to put my greens in the bowl first and pour the hot stew over the top.  This helps soften the greens especially if you’re using kale.

Spicy Peanuts

1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
A generous pinch of fine sea salt
1 cup dry roasted unsalted peanuts

In a small bowl, stir together the oil and spices.  Add peanuts to the bowl and toss to evenly coat.  Heat a small skillet over medium heat; add peanuts and cook for 3-5 minutes or until the peanuts are hot and just barely toasted.  Remove from skillet and let cool.

Recipe slightly adapted from Oh, Ladycakes 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Hot Chocolate and Cacao Nib Whipped Cream

The temperature outside is quickly dropping and winter is just around the corner.  Yesterday was cookie day and it was a balmy 34° while I was selling.  My fingers were near frozen, practically icicles.  It also snowed this past week and our grass held on to the first dusting of snow (at least for a few hours) which sent me in full hot chocolate mode.  Every year around this time I break out my white hot chocolate mug and enjoy a really hot (like almost burn your tongue hot) cup of hot chocolate after my kiddies are tucked in bed.  I love it so much (especially with the new addition).

So what's this new addition?  I'm so excited to tell you.  Yesterday while eating lunch I was listening to a podcast where the subject was cacao nibs.  Just a few weeks ago I purchased three packages of cacao nibs from Amazon (have I mentioned that I really love Amazon) and those nibs were calling out from my pantry to be used.  During the podcast they mentioned a cacao nib infused whipped cream and a cacao nib sable cookie and within moments I had cream and cacao nibs in a small saucepan heating on my stove and some butter, sugar and eggs mixing in my kitchen aid.  Sometimes I can't help myself and I get impatient and need to make something the moment I hear about it.  Well I'm very happy to say that this cacao nib infused whipped cream has made my cup of hot chocolate even more dreamy and delicious.  Often when reading (or in this case listening) about a recipe I become impatient and have to make the recipe right then.  My impatience paid off this time (being impatient doesn't usually fare so well).  I love that the cream is unsweetened and has bitter undertones, it really is the perfect partner for my cup of hot chocolate.

Cacao Nib Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup roasted cacao nibs

Place heavy cream and cacao nibs in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and cover.  Let steep for 30-40 minutes.  Set a strainer over a bowl and pour cream/cacao nib mixture through the strainer, pressing on the solids to extract the liquid.  Discard the cacao nibs.  Chill the cream for several hours or until very cold.  Just before serving, whip the cream to your desired consistency.  Serve on top of your favorite hot chocolate (this is mine) along with a sprinkle of cacao nibs.  Perfect!

Recipe adapted from SCHARFFEN BERGER

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Homemade Olive Oil Bread

As the bread baking in the oven fills my house with smells of deliciousness, my insides get all tight inside and my mouth begins to water as I wait not-so-patiently for the bread to finish baking.  Homemade bread is something special and maybe doesn't grace our dinner table as often as it should (or maybe as often as I'd like).

This recipe for homemade olive oil bread is changing that because it's really quite simple to make.  No mixer needed, just a big bowl and a sturdy wooden spoon.  It all comes together rather quickly, but does require some hang out time on the counter to rise, but with a little planning ahead, you can have a perfectly delicious loaf of warm bread ready by dinner time. 

So pull out a big bowl and a wooden spoon and go to work, you’ll be happy you did.

Homemade Olive Oil Bread

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon honey
1 cup lukewarm water
1/3 cup great quality extra virgin olive oil
3 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt

In a large mixing bowl, combine yeast, honey, and water.  Stir to combine and let rest for 5 minutes, or until yeast begins to foam.  Add the olive oil, flour, and salt and stir to combine into a shaggy ball.  Place shaggy dough ball on a lightly floured surface and knead for 1 minute until dough is smooth and a round ball forms.

Brush a little olive oil inside the empty mixing bowl and place dough back into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Once doubled, place dough on a lightly floured surface and press dough into a rectangle.  Fold in both sides like you are folding a business letter.  Press gently into a rectangle again and fold again as you would a business letter and then tuck sides under, forming dough into a ball.

Preheat oven to 375° F.  Place dough on a parchment lined baking sheet, brush with olive oil and allow to rise again for 30 minutes, lightly draped with plastic wrap to cover.  Just before baking, sprinkle with flake salt.

Bake for 30 minutes or until deep golden brown.  Remove bread from oven and brush loaf of bread with additional olive oil if desired.

Recipe slightly adapted from Live.Love.Lux

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Sauteed Chard, Apple, and White Cheddar Grilled Cheese

I really love a great grilled cheese sandwich and I love this one so much that I ate it for lunch and dinner on the same day.  I don't have much to say other than that there is just something about toasted bread sandwiching oozy melted cheese that shouts comfort foods from the roof tops and this one may be one of my very favorites!

Sautéed Chard, Apple, and White Cheddar Grilled Cheese

1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
4 leaves of Swiss chard, stems removed and thinly sliced
1/3 cup fresh grated white cheddar
1/4 cup fresh grated mozzarella
1 heaping tablespoon finely minced red onion
4, 1/2" slices whole grain bread
1/2 apple (honey crisp, pink lady, braeburn), thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon good quality mayonnaise
1 tablespoon butter, softened
Kosher salt

Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in sauté pan.  Once hot, add thinly sliced chard to pan along with a pinch of kosher salt.  Keep the chard moving to release pockets of steam to help let the moisture out so that the chard doesn't become soggy in the sandwich.  Cook chard until just wilted and tender.  Remove chard from pan and set aside.

While preparing the sandwiches, preheat your cast iron or grill pan over medium heat with the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil.

Combine both cheeses and the finely minced red onion.

On one side of each slice of bread, spread a layer of both the mustard and mayonnaise and spread to edge of each slice.  Layer three to four slice of apple on top of two pieces of bread.  Divide the shredded cheese on top of the apple slices in an even layer.  Divide the sautéed chard on top of the cheese and top with remaining slices of bread.  Lastly, spread a thin layer of butter on the outside of both sides of each sandwich and lightly sprinkle with kosher salt.

Add sandwiches to cast iron or grill pan and cook until golden on both sides and cheese is melted through.

Recipe adapted from Sprouted Kitchen

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Roasted Chunky Applesauce

A couple of days ago I went to get some apples from Allred Orchard's and they happened to have a big box of Honey Crisp apples that were "seconds" for nine dollars (a total steal).  The apples were all different sizes, slightly lopsided, and had a few minor bumps and bruises, but were no less delicious than my eight dollar bag of pretty ones that I bought the week before.

So needless to say that with a fridge full of apples, I've got apples on the brain.  This morning I made a batch of roasted chunky applesauce that had me dancing around the kitchen and getting all tight inside.  My house smelled amazing!  I think Preston and Stella thought I was crazy, but with all these apples, their endless eating possibilities, and the feeling of fall in the air, I couldn't contain my excitement (or another spoonful of applesauce).

Roasted Chunky Applesauce

3 1/2 pounds crisp eating apples (I used Honey Crisp)
Pinch of kosher salt
1-2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small chunks.

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Peel, core, and quarter the apples.  Put them in an ungreased 9x13 baking dish (it should be large enough to hold them in a crowded single layer).  Toss the apples with 1 teaspoon of sugar (or 2 teaspoons if the apples are very tart), and a good pinch of kosher salt. 

Dot the apples with butter and cover baking dish tightly with foil.  Bake until the apples start to soften, about 20-30 minutes. 

Remove the foil; raise the heat to 500° F.  Bake the apples for 10-15 minutes, or until the tips of the apples are golden and the fruit is tender.  Remove from the oven, and coarsely mash the apples with a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon.  Taste and season applesauce with additional salt and/or sugar if necessary.  A splash of apple cider vinegar could be used to brighten the flavor.

Recipe adapted from Orangette

Monday, October 5, 2015

Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts

I love the fall so much!  It really is my most favorite time of the year (it may have something to do with my birthday falling right in the middle of October and I really love my birthday). 

As the weather begins to cool, it's the pots of bubbling soups and curries, loaves of warm pumpkin bread with melty chocolate chips, the changing leaves, cozy sweaters, boxes of honey crisp apples from Allred's, and of course these doughnuts (and my birthday) that make me get all tight inside when this time of year rolls around. 

I made these for the first time last year after going to a pumpkin patch that boasted of their amazing apple cider doughnuts only to find out that they were sold out when we got there.  I was seriously so disappointed (for a few days) until Melissa from The Faux Martha posted a recipe for these delightful baked apple cider doughnuts just a week later making all my apple cider doughnut woes disappear.

Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts

Yield:  10 doughnuts

3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons apple cider
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 large egg


3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup apple cider
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400° F. 

In a small saucepan, melt butter.  Stir in cider and set aside to cool.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Set aside.

To the cooled butter mixture, whisk in sugar, honey, and egg until evenly combined. 

Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Take care not to over mix as that will create a tough doughnut.

Spray 2 doughnut pans.  Add batter to a piping bag (I used a gallon size Ziploc bag and cut about a 1/4-inch off one of the bottom corners) and pipe evenly into the pans. 

Bake for 7 minutes.  While the doughnuts are baking, melt butter for the topping and stir in cider.  In a flat-bottomed bowl, mix together cinnamon, sugar, and salt.

After removing doughnuts from the oven, allow to cool for 1 minute before removing doughnuts onto cooling rack.

Quickly dip each doughnut in the butter/cider mixture and lightly coat in the cinnamon/sugar mixture.  Place back on cooking rack.  Best served slightly warm.

Recipe barely adapted from The Faux Martha