Friday, April 18, 2014

Healthy Pancakes

Pancakes.  I cannot lie.  They are a family compromise for us.  My hubby and daughter love french toast.  I really, really dislike french toast.  Waffles.  I'm all about waffles.  And typically, that's what I make - but my waffle iron died a while back and Santa did not bring me one for Christmas. Mind you, that was my second waffle maker that died on me in 6 years. PANCAKES.  That's our compromise.  Have you ever seen The Family Guy skit on pancakes?  HIL.AR.I.OUS.  Our little guy loves pancakes - which is probably why that episode makes me laugh so much.  Any how, back to the actual food . . . .

Pancakes - warm, buttery, comfort food all the way.  But what about when your hubby decides to go low-carb?  That's when you make these.  I haven't run the recipe through a calorie counter, but I imagine the nutritional information is pretty amazing.  At the very least, they TASTE amazing.  I'm always skeptical on all these healthy recipes you see . . .especially when they contain banana.  Not everyone loves banana or coconut people!  Sheesh.  But these pancakes, wow - I couldn't believe how good they were.  They really tasted like pancakes.  We ate them plain with a side of bacon.  No butter.  No syrup.  They didn't even need them.  They were that yummy without.  I actually thought they would be good with a dollop of applesauce on top (but we were without any in the pantry).   As well, they didn't even taste like banana or peanuty . . .just pancake-y!Give them a whirl, you won't be disappointed!

Healthy Pancakes
Makes approximately 24 Silver-Dollar sized Pancakes

1 Large Banana (or two small) - preferably very ripe
2 Large Eggs
1/2 Cup Oatmeal
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Tablespoon Peanut Butter

Step 1:  In a bowl, mash up the banana.  Add the eggs and mix well (I recommend using a fork). 

Step 2:  Add the remaining ingredients and thoroughly combine.

Step 3:  Cook like a regular pancake on a hot griddle.

Step 4:  Enjoy :)

Please note:  You could easily make these using a food processor or blender.  I used my mini-food processor and it ground up the oatmeal so fine that no one would even know that it was in there.  Yum.

Friday, April 11, 2014

BBQ Black Beans

Versatile = Black Beans.  Gotta love them. Firm, mild flavor, nicely sized.  Delish.  I like to buy the canned variety, specifically Wild Harvest brand.  They come out of the can not-too-sludgy and are still whole and have a very nice creamy texture when you eat them.  Not all brands tend to be that way.   

This recipe is one of my favorite ways to eat them.  It can be eaten as a meal, a side dish, or an appetizer.  Meal - serve along with some fruit (this is what I'm having for lunch today) or wrap it up in a flour tortilla for a bbq bean burrito.  Side Dish - would be yummy with a thick slab of meat on the side.  Appetizer?  Serve along with your favorite corn chips for dipping.  It's a little sweet - but the green onion helps to offset it.  As well, the sweetness is very dependent on the BBQ sauce that you use.

BBQ Black Beans
Serves 4 as a Side Dish

1 (15-oz) Can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 Cup BBQ Sauce
1/2 Cup Cheddar or CoJack Cheese
3 or 4 Green Onions, cleaned and sliced

Step 1:  Place the black beans in a microwave-safe bowl and mix in the BBQ sauce.  Place the bowl in the microwave, covered with a paper-towel, and cook on high for 2 minutes.

Step 2:  Carefully remove the bowl from the microwave and stir the beans.  Sprinkle the cheese on top of the BBQ beans.  Return the bowl to the microwave, place paper-towel on top again.  Heat on high for 1 minute.

Step 3:  Remove the bowl from the microwave, sprinkle the beans with the sliced green onions and serve.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Mini Stuffed Peppers

I ran across these at the grocery store the other day and  
Luckily, they weren't too spendy either.  SO CUTE!!!!  They are small bell peppers - not spicey ones! I love stuffed jalapenos, but my family isn't too crazy about them.  So these are a good compromise.  And my little guy couldn't get enough of the peppers stuffed and unstuffed.  He just loved them.  I hope you will too.

Mini Stuffed Peppers
6 Mini Bell Peppers (orange, red, yellow)
4 oz Cream Cheese
1 TB Chopped Bacon
1 TB BBQ Sauce
Pepper to taste

Step 1:  Rinse the peppers and cut in half lengthwise (be sure to leave the stem on - don't remove it).  Remove the seeds.
Step 2:  In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, bacon and bbq sauce.  Taste.  Add pepper as desired.
Step 3:  With a small spoon, fill each mini bell pepper half with the cream cheese mixture and place on baking sheet.
Step 4:  Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes, until hot, bubbly and starting to brown on top.

Serve as an appetizer or side dish.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Creamy Lime Parfaits

I have a very bad case of spring fever.  We had a taste of nice weather the other week, but it is once again snowing today.  Ug.  I am hoping this yummy dessert will help lift my spirits!  Think:  it's a little bit like key lime pie, but creamier and a little less tart.  Oh.So.Good.

Creamy Lime Parfaits
Serves:  4 large servings or 6 regular servings.
1 Cup Sugar
3 Tablespoons Corn Starch
1 Cup Water
1/3 Cup Lime Juice
Green Food Coloring
2 Egg Yolks, slightly beaten
4 oz. Cream Cheese, room temp and cubed
Whipped Cream (or Cool Whip)
Cookie or Graham Crackers (optional for garnish)

Step 1:  In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and cornstarch;  mix well.  Stir in the water, lime juice and egg yolks.  Cook over medium heat until mixture boils and thickens, stirring constantly.  Boil 1 minute.  Add cream cheese and stir until cream cheese is melted and mixture is smooth.  Add a few drops of green food coloring and stir until well combined.  Cool to room temp.

Step 2:  Once the lime filling has cooled, stir in 1/2 cup of the whipped cream.

Step 3.  Gather your serving dishes!  I used 4 small mason jars.  Add roughly a quarter cup of the lime filling to each jar.  Then an equal amount of whip cream.  And then more lime.  And then top with remaining whipped cream.  Garnish at own will.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Sweet and Sour Broccoli Salad

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh . . spring is in the air!  It finally hit 50 here recently . .which was completely decadent!  That's pretty much tanning weather here :)  With that in mind, I instantly craved fresh fruits and veggies and lots of salads.  And then, I opened the weekly circular for the grocery store and these items were on special:  broccoli and cheese.  I didn't need to see any more.  That meant one thing to me:  Sweet and Sour Broccoli Salad.  The remaining few ingredients needed for the salad, I already had in the pantry.

I absolutely love this salad because it's a good combination of sweet, green, creamy and just enough salt.  I've been known to eat a huge helping of this  . . .as my entire meal.  Yum.

Sweet & Sour Broccoli Salad

10 Slices Cooked Bacon, Crumbled
1 Head Broccoli, cleaned and chopped into bite-size pieces
1 Small Red Onion, diced
1/2 Cup Raisins
1 Cup Unsalted Sunflower Seed Kernels
1 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 Cup Mayonnaise
1/4 Cup Sugar
2 Teaspoons White Vinegar

In a large bowl, combine the bacon, broccoli, onion, raisins, cheddar cheese and sunflower seeds.  In a separate bowl, combine the mayo, sugar and vinegar and mix well.  Add the dressing to the salad and mix thoroughly.  Chill 1 hour before serving.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Crockpot Steak Marsala

Here is a recipe I hope you'll really enjoy.  It's one that combines many things I love:  steak, mushrooms, marsala, garlic, paprika and thyme.  No fancy cut of steak needed here - use a round steak, which is typically inexpensive.  Let it slow cook all day . . .come home from work and bam! dinner is nearly ready :)

Crockpot Steak Marsala

1.5 lbs Round Steak
8 oz. Fresh Mushrooms (sliced or quartered)
1 Large Onion, diced
1 Tablespoon Thyme
1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/2 Tablespoon Paprika
1/4 Teaspoon Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Cup Marsala
3/4 Cup Chicken or Vegetable Broth
2 Tablespoons Cornstarch

Step 1:  Place steak in your crockpot.

Step 2:  Add the mushrooms, onions, thyme, paprika, garlic, salt and pepper to the crockpot.

Step 3:  In a small bowl, combine the sherry and cornstarch.  Stir with a fork until smooth.  Add the broth and stir until combined.  Pour this mixture over everything in the crockpot.

Step 4:  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Step 5:  Remove steak from crockpot and place on platter.  Now, add the 1/2 and 1/2 to the crockpot.  Stir until well combined.  Ladle over the steak to serve.  Or, you can place the sauce into a serving dish to serve on the side.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Crazy Cake

Have you ever heard of crazy cake?  And what really makes it crazy versus a regular cake?   Well, let me first tell you that it's crazy because it doesn't use any eggs.  Wha--wha--what?  You read it right - no eggs in this recipe!!  As well, it's a one bowl recipe and you can even stir it with a fork.  I call that not-crazy . . or simply AWESOME!

And what's the perfect occassion for a crazy cake??  How about the craziest holiday of them all . . .St. Patrick's Day!  To give this cake a little holiday flair - I added some chopped Andes Mints.  I'm not entirely sure why we associate Irish with mint . .is it simply the green color?  Honestly, I'm not Irish nor have I ever been to Ireland.  Sounds like some crazy American theory (in my honest opinion)!

Crazy Cake
1 Cup Sugar
3 Tablespoons Cocoa
1 and 1/2 Cups Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Soda
1/4 Cup + 2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 Tablespoon Vinegar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1 Cup Cold Water
1 Cup Andes Mints, Roughly Chopped 

Step 1:  Prepare an 8x8 baking pan and set aside.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2:  Add all dry ingredients to a mixing bowl.  Stir together until well blended.

Step 3:  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well.  Pour batter into prepared pan.  If adding the Andes Mints, sprinkle them on top of the batter (they will sink while baking).

Step 4:  Pour cake batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Serving Idea:  Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzle with chocolate syrup and creme de menthe and a dollop of whipped cream.