Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Fall Spiced Cake ~ Two Ways

It never fails... I hear the rustling of the leaves and am soon in my kitchen preparing to bake.
This cake can be done with both butternut squash or pumpkin puree. Both are delicious and fill the house with all of those desired smells of fall baking! Based off of my standby banana bread recipe, this cake is an easy go to for which the ingredients are usually hanging out together in your pantry.... so bake away and Enjoy!
Preheat oven to 325 degrees
2 eggs
1 cup of sugar of your choice- I used half unbleached sugar and half of a stevia blend
1 cup of light olive oil
2 tsp vanilla
2 3/4 cups of flour- I used a whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 TBSP cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp of nutmeg
2 cups of pumpkin or butternut squash puree
*to roast either, slice them lengthwise, removed the seeds and place them face down on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until fork tender. Puree with a mixer.* 

 Mix the wet ingredients, including the puree, until very smooth. Add in the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Bake at 325 degrees until a toothpick comes out clean. For muffins, it will be around 20 minutes but for a cake it will be around 45 minutes.
You can really create this cake exactly how you'd like it. Add nuts, mini chocolate or cinnamon chips right into the batter. Make a cream cheese icing and ice it. Personally, I topped half with mini chocolate chips and the other half with an oat bran/raw sugar topping before baking! Both were amazing! I am in love with anything pumpkin and chocolate but others are not so make it your own.
The above picture of the muffins is a combo of the both the oat bran/raw sugar and mini chocolate chips!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Peach and Blueberry Crostata

If you're wondering what a crostata is, it is just an Italian term for a rustic pie. It's the same ingredients as a pie just without all the precision and work! In my pie crust I use a whole wheat pastry flour. I find it at our little local Amish Bulk store. It's perfect for all my baking needs. I hope you can hunt some down and test it out for yourself. The local Farmer's Market had the most delicious organic peaches this year! We mainly just ate them by the dozens but towards the end of the season came this perfect crostata that I sincerely wish I had another piece of right now! Enjoy!
Ingredients for the crust: Makes 2 medium crostatas

1 3/4 cups  flour of choice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unbleached or raw sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter
1/3 cup of very cold water 
2 tsp apple cider vinegar- I know sounds weird. Trust me, it's fine.
Stir the dry ingredients together to incorporate. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter until it resembles a wet sand consistency. Add half of the cold water and the vinegar. Stir until a dough forms. If it is still too dry add a bit more of the water. You may not need the full amount. That's fine. Once a dough ball begins to form, divide the ball into two and wrap both in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for one hour. At this point you could freeze the dough too for future uses. If you want to make one very large crostata, leave it in one ball to roll out after it has chilled.
*I have also done this crust in my food processor. The order of the steps would be the same*
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Ingredients for the pie filling:
2 cups of thinly sliced peaches with the skins on- trust me on this one too. So much easier.
1 cup of blueberries- fresh or frozen
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup of  unbleached or raw sugar
Toss to combine all the ingredients. Pile in the middle of the rolled out pie crust and flatten around into a circle. Roll the edges of the dough up onto the fruit. Brush the dough with some milk and sprinkle with some sugar. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees and then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 30-35 minutes or until bubbling and the crust has browned.
Well hello you pretty thing.... Love the sugared crust!


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Whole Wheat Pasta with Sausage and Peppers

My husband and I visited an organic farm stand on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Among their produce, jarred goods and fresh roasted coffee selection was a happy little fridge full of their own farm grown pork products. Bacon, of course, and to our surprise, different options of hand made sausages... that they had made that morning! Amazing. How could I not make the hubby his most favorite Olive Garden dish of all! Needless to say, it was far better than the chain restaurant's version and he was one happy guy.
whole wheat pasta boiled
olive oil
bell peppers
salt and pepper
italian sausage
parmesan cheese
fresh basil
Prepare the pasta in liberally salted water. Once the pasta is done, take out 3/4 of a cup of the pasta water, for later use, and set aside. Drain the pasta, toss it in olive oil and set aside.
Add 1/3 cup of olive oil to a large frying pan and cook the sausage. I actually removed mine from the casing and crumbled it up as it cooked. While it cooks dice up the onion and pepper. Once the sausage is cooked through, remove from the pan and set aside. Add the onions, peppers and garlic to the same pan. Salt and pepper and sauté for 5 minutes until softened. Whisk in the saved pasta and then add the sausage and pasta back into the pan with the vegies with another good drizzling of olive oil. Stir to combine. In the midst of stirring sprinkle with more salt and pepper and a few good shakes of parmesan cheese. Remove from heat and stir in the fresh basil pieces. It is really good served with a big salad and this awesome homemade bread..... Enjoy!                              

Kale and Cabbage Sautee

If there was ever a vegetable that I would encourage people to not eat raw it would certainly be Kale. Except for being hidden in a delicious berry smoothie! Along with being baked into chips or floating in soup, it is equally delicious sautéed. This recipe is not only easy and nutritious but definitely delicious and worth trying as a side to your family's next meal. I served this with the Pan Seared Paprika Chicken and it was great.
1 bunch of Kale
1 small onion
1/3 cup of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
2 cups of shredded or thinly sliced red cabbage
slivered almonds
1 tsp each of salt, pepper
1/2 tsp of paprika  
1 TBSP sugar or honey
*To process the kale, hold the stem of the kale in one hand, pull the leaves up and off the stalk. Once this is done with all the leaves, lay them together and fold them up. Dice into small pieces*
Dice the onion and sauté in olive oil on medium to low heat for a minute or so. Dice or zest, I use my small zester, the garlic into the onions. Add in the cabbage and kale. Season with salt, pepper, paprika and sweetener. Saute for 10 minutes and Enjoy!

*** The leftovers made the most wonderful stir-fry!!! Oh my goodness. I will just skip right to the stir-fry next time! ***
I added rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, a very small drop of sesame oil and a bit more sweetener. I finished it with toasted sesame seeds. It. Was. Awesome....

Slow Roasted Speghetti Sauce


Red Sauce....
My life revolves around a good red sauce! It could have everything to do with it being my number one craving while pregnant with both of my babies. I found myself with a bounty of tomatoes this summer and not enough time to do the old standby method of processing them. I decided to try this shortcut out and it worked perfectly for this busy mama! Hope you enjoy.
Preheat oven to 275 degrees
Olive Oil
Garlic Cloves
Seasonings of your choice
*This recipe can be made with a small or large quantity of tomatoes. It's just adjusting the seasonings according to the amount*
Slice tomatoes and toss with olive oil. Spread in a single layer on a sheet pan.  Also add in 2-5 cloves of garlic, depending on your amount of tomatoes. Roast for 2 hours. Allow to cool and food process until smooth. Add salt, pepper, dried oregano, dried basil, red pepper flakes and sugar to taste. Don't be afraid to keep tasting and get it perfect. That's it! All done! So easy and delicious!



Monday, July 29, 2013

Pan Seared Paprika Chicken with a Spinach Cream Sauce


There is an endless need for new chicken recipes.
This simple and elegant recipe will help you to get a dinner on the table quickly and it will look beautiful for your family or guests. With just a few ingredients too this recipe can be made on a budget. I hope you try it and love it as much as my family and I did.
Coconut oil
4- Thin sliced or pounded chicken breast
salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika to your personal taste
1/2 cup chicken stock
3/4 cup half and half
2 cups baby spinach
Heat a few tablespoons of coconut oil in a sauté pan. I use a cast iron skillet for my sautéing needs. Season one side of the chicken breasts with the salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika. Place the seasoned side down into the pan and season the other side of the chicken. Sauté on both sides until brown and cooked through. Remove the chicken and deglaze the pan with the chicken stock, whisking as it sizzles all the bits of goodness from the bottom of the pan. Add the half and half into the stock then wilt the spinach into the sauce as it bubbles and thickens. Serve with a salad, whole grain brown rice or some whole wheat pasta.
This recipe is linked up at and
For more information and recipes check out

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Garlic and Basil Pasta Primavera

Are you in need of a new option for your pasta night? My family loves this beautiful version. A simple, nutritious pasta meal that is done by the time the pasta boils.
1 Box of whole grain pasta
1 small onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 red pepper- diced
1 small can of diced fire roasted tomatoes- drained
salt, pepper, parmesan cheese
2 cups of baby spinach
small amount of fresh or dried basil
Boil the pasta in a pot of heavily salted water. While the pasta boils, sautee the onion in a generous amount of coconut or olive oil. Cook on meduim heat to begin softening. Dice or grate the garlic into the onions and add the diced red pepper and tomatoes. Season liberally with salt and pepper, parmesan cheese and dried basil. (If using fresh basil, mince it and set aside until later.)  Sautee for 5 minutes. Reserve a cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta. Toss the pasta into the vegetable mixture, which is on medium to low heat. In small amounts, pour a bit of the pasta water until it creates a sauce.  Stir in the baby spinach and fresh basil, is using fresh. Toss to sautee for another minute to allow flavors to combine. Taste for seasoning adjustments.
Serve with additional parmesan cheese, salad and a big loaf of this crusty bread.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"Skinny" Chocolate Walnut Bark

I recently discovered a book titled "Trim Healthy Mama" This recipe is the author's form of chocolate that you can enjoy while learning a life long style of eating. Can you tell I'm desperately avoiding the word "diet"! With it's base being Coconut Oil, this chocolate has many benefits for your body and allows you to create several different versions to keep your taste buds and chocolate cravings satisfied.
2 TBSP Truvia (a stevia sweetener blend)
1/2 cup warmed coconut oil (I use the extra virgin/flavorless one)
1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa
pinch of sea salt
Whisk all ingredients together and pour into a parchment lined 8x8 glass dish and freeze. Enjoy straight out of the freezer.
~This version, I poured the chocolate over a heavy layer of chopped walnuts and sprinkled with a bit more sea salt.
~Peppermint extract is another delicious option
~Melt 2 TBSP of raw peanut butter in with the coconut oil
~Pour over a thin layer of almonds or peanuts 


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Bella Inspired Chicken and Prosciutto Pita

Do you have favorite place to eat? A favorite dish that you order, at that place, each and every time? To the point which the server doesn't even bring you a menu when she spots you? Well, I do! All of the above! In my dream world, I would be able to visit my favorite restaraunt any day I was craving my special dish but we all know that's not reality, so.... I was forced to do my best to recreate my absolute favorite lunchtime treat. All the credit goes to Bella Cucina, a quaint treasure to our small town.
* Note- this recipe is for a larger crowd. For a smaller batch, half the ingredients*

1 bottle balsamic vinegar
chicken breast- one per person
1 package prosciutto
one large container of spinach
1 red or vidalia onion
1 jar roasted red pepper
1 container feta
Pita- 1-2 per person  

The process is done best in stages. While you are crisping the prosciutto in a pan, like bacon, dice the onion very small and slice the red peppers. Once the prosciutto is crisped and cooled a bit, break apart into small pieces. Set the prepped ingredients aside.

Begin reducing the bottle balsamic vinegar in a small pot. First bring to a boil and then reduce to medium heat to simmer. It was need to simmer for 20 minutes, until it has reduced by half. Do not turn heat up. Set aside to cool and thicken.

While balsamic is reducing, cook chicken, seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder in the same skillet as the prosciutto. When cooked through, slice it into thin slices.

Add the spinach, prepped ingredients and half the balsamic reduction into a large bowl. Once chicken is cooked through, add it to the bowl and toss it all together to combine. Serve on pita shells, drizzled with the balsamic reduction.

This sounds like a difficult process but trust me when I say, it's not and it's worth it!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Cilantro Lime "Chipotle" Meal

Small town living will bring you peace and quiet, a slow paced life and a memorable childhood for your little ones but what it won't bring you is a regular stop at your favorite "big city" lunch spot, like the one we love... Chipotle Mexican Grille. The joy of cilantro and lime coming together as the main flavor of a delicious meal. I was compelled, urged, by my husband to re-create the yummy lunch we enjoyed so that a one hour drive would not be between us and the delicious Chipotle! I hope that this creation will become one of your favorites as it is ours.

Step One: Marinating the chicken

4 chicken breasts
1/2 cup olive oil
zest and juice of half of a lime
handful cilantro leaves- torn into small pieces
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp cumin

Combine ingredients together in a large sized baggie, massage and marinate for at least one hour. I prefer 4-5 hours. At mealtime, pan fry chicken and serve.

Step two: Cooking the beans and rice

Ingredients for the rice:
2 cups cooked brown rice- I boiled mine in chicken stock for added flavor
2 TBSP butter
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp garlic
2 tsp cumin
zest and juice of half lime
handful of cilantro leaves- torn into small pieces

Cook rice then stir in the above ingredients and serve.
Ingredients for the beans:
1 can of black beans - drained
1/2 cup water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
10 cilantro leaves- torn into small pieces

When the rice and chicken are almost done, combine ingredients in a stock pot. Heat on medium heat until serving. 

Add the ingredients with some guacamole to a whole grain or low carb wrap for a delicious leftover lunch!

For a THM friendly meal, serve over a bed of chopped romaine with a citrus vinaigrette. Make it an S or an E by adding/excluding ingredients.
I love it wrapped in a Jospeph's Pita as an S meal. I do use a very small amount of black beans and leave the rice off.
This recipe is linked up at and
For more information and recipes check out

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Roasted Garlic, Spinach and Artichoke Dip

A delicious, flavorful and decadent appetizer that livens up a party of the big game! Prepare yourself for a splurge and enjoy every bite!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
3 cloves of garlic
1 small sweet onion
1/3 cup of olive oil
2 bags of fresh baby spinach (or tear regular spinach into small pieces)
salt and pepper
2 packages of cream cheese- softened
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cans of quartere artichokes in water- drained
1 small can of diced fire roasted tomatoes-drained
Early on in your day or even the day ahead, wrap the cloves of garlic in foil and roast in the oven for 25 minutes. Allow to cool. Refigerate if necessary overnight.
Dice the onion and sautee it in 1/3 cup of olive oil on low heat for 10 minutes. Add the spinach and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. Wilt the spinach and set aside to cool.
Stir and combine the soft cream cheese, sour cream, artichokes and tomatoes. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of it's "shell" and add some salt and pepper to season the cream cheese mixture. Add in the cooled spinach mixture. Stir all to combine and spread into an oven safe dish. Top with a bit of mozzerella cheese and bake at 400 until bubbly and browning on top. Serve on thin toasted bread peices, tortilla chips or crackers.

"As Healthy As They Get" Brownies

 When you just want a brownie..... I know you have those days too. Here's a quick recipe that, when you simply switch a few ingredients, gives you the freedom to eat the brownie in peace. Maybe even two brownies, imagine that!
Preheat oven to 325 degrees
1/3 cup melted coconut oil (I use the kind that does NOT smell like coconut)
6 TBSP cocoa
1 TBSP brewed coffee
3 eggs
1 cup unbleached sugar
1 TBSP plain yogurt
almost 1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup plus half of 1/3 cup garbanzo bean flour (or unbleached all purpose flour)
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Add a few tablespoons of coconut oil in a small pan, heat until liquified. Measure 1/3 cup into a bowl. (If you need a bit more, just add it into the warm liquid coconut oil and it will melt along with it.) Whisk in cocoa and coffee. Set asidez
Combine the rest of the ingredients, whisking until very smooth. Add the cocoa mixture and dark chocolate chips.
*I used a greased brownie pan, which measures 8x12 and baked it for 35 minutes. If you use an 8x8, you will have to bake for 40-45 minutes. Remove them from the oven when the toothpick is still a little gooey. Let them cool to finish baking*