Saturday, April 26, 2014

Spinach, Tomato and Feta Pizza

I think that Pizza may be the universal symbol for happiness! Or maybe that's just in my world but in my opinion you can not go wrong with having a pizza night. It lifts mommy's moods and makes kiddos happy. It may be the ultimate cuisine. I love pizza! I recently resorted to this white pizza after running out of mozzarella but having Feta cheese on hand. It was the perfect combination, of course and it is now one my current favorite way to eat pizza. Plus it's just so pretty and colorful! 

Ingredients for the crust- prepare one hour before dinnertime
1 1/2 cups of warm water
1 TBSP yeast
1 tsp sugar or honey
3-3 1/2 cups of white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup of olive oil
2 tsp salt

With a fork, I stir together my water, yeast, sugar and 2 cups of flour. Once combined I add the other cup of flour, olive oil and salt and knead, right in the bowl, until it comes together. Once that happens, I use my mixer with the dough hook to knead the dough for about 5 minutes. You can just use your hands if you don't have a mixer. If the dough is too sticky for your mixer or your hands, add another half cup of flour. Cover and let raise for 1 hour. I have rushed this before and it doesn't seem to make much difference, if you're short on time. 

 *This dough recipe makes 2 crust recipes. I made a regular cheese pizza and this spinach pizza. If you want to make 2 spinach pizzas, simply double the spinach amount below* 
Preheat oven to 450 degrees and press out pizza dough

Ingredients for the pizza topping:
olive oil
salt, pepper,oregano and garlic powder 
2 cups of fresh spinach
feta cheese
diced red onion
diced tomatoes
Parmesan cheese- I actually grated fresh and used the "shaker cheese" both 

In a saute pan with olive oil, season the spinach with salt, pepper and garlic powder and saute until it just starts to wilt. Remove from heat and scoop onto a plate to stop it from continuing to wilt. 
Top the entire crust with olive oil. Season with salt, garlic powder and oregano. Add the rest of the toppings and bake at 425 degrees until feta is browned.  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Honey and Cinnamon Sauteed Carrots


I came across a bag of local organic carrots at out health food store and along with slicing them up to go alongside my kids' lunches, I was wanting to use them in a new side dish also. When I was thinking through my evening meal of meatloaf and oven roasted potatoes, I had the inspiration of a simple and sweet carrot sauté. They turned out great and really could have been doubled as dessert!
6-8 carrots- peeled and sliced into matchstick size
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup honey
Saute the carrots in the olive oil. Season them with salt and pepper. Saute for 5 minutes to soften and add the honey. Saute for another 5 minutes or until carrots are soft.

With the sweetness of the honey these are sure to be loved by the whole family

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Applesauce Bread French Toast with Chopped Pecans

 This breakfast dish was made one Sunday morning on a whim and out of the desire to use up the rest of a yummy dessert bread but I quickly saw that it's potential to be a standout on a special occasion. The pecans can be even more dressed up by stirring them in a skillet with a few tablespoons of pure maple syrup until they become a delicious brittle.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Ingredients for the bread: 
2 cups of applesauce
3 eggs
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp of vanilla
3 cups of flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 TBSP of cinnamon
2 apples diced up very small

Mix to combing the wet ingredients and then the dry. Fold in the apples and separate into 2 greased loaf pans. Bake at 325 for 1 hour. 

Ingredients for the french toast:
 5 eggs
1/2 cup of milk
1/3 cup of sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Whisk together and make french toast as usual. Top with warm pure maple syrup and chopped pecans. A side of bacon never hurt either! 

Tex-Mex "Hamburger Helper"

Over the last couple of days I have had the opportunity to give some other mamas a bit of advice on switching out some of their current ingredients for meals and snacks for more of an all natural form. It's been very cool for since this is something that I grow more passionate about as time passes. When I needed to use up the rest of our taco meat, my mind went to these mamas who mentioned box foods in their pantry and that maybe a homemade version would be a welcomed meal on their family's table as they switch out and make changes. Pretty cool! Pretty fun! 

olive oil
1/2 onion- finely diced
1 bell pepper - diced
2 cloves of garlic- minced finely or grated on a zester
1 pound of ground beef- or ground turkey or even diced chicken breast.
1 tsp salt 
1 tsp pepper
1 TBSP cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp of red pepper flakes -  optional
1 box of whole wheat pasta of your choice
1 1/2 cup of salsa
1/2 can of roasted tomatoes with chipotle peppers- optional if you can find them
sharp cheddar cheese
chopped cilantro

Boil pasta, in salted water, for 5 minutes and turn off the heat. Saute the onion for a few minutes and add in the bell pepper and garlic. Add in the ground beef and season everything with the seasonings listed and cook thoroughly. Remove the pasta from the water with a slotted spoon, reserving the water for later use. Stir to combine the pasta and flavors. Taste for flavoring and add more of the seasonings if needed. Top with your favorite Mexican toppings and enjoy! 

Whole Wheat Pumpkin, Carrot and Cranberry Muffins

Another option for a healthy morning muffin. And this one has two vegetables hidden inside! 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

2/3 of a cup of warmed coconut oil
1/3 of a cup of plain applesauce
1 cup of sugar- These aren't "dessert" muffins. Add another 1/2 cup if desired.
3 eggs
1 tsp of vanilla
1/4 cup of plain yogurt
1 cup of pumpkin
2 1/2 cups of white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup of ground flax seeds
2 tsp of cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups of shredded carrots
1 cup of dried cranberries
Oat Bran

Combine the wet ingredients until smooth. Add in the dry ingredients to combine. Last, add in carrots. Once all combined, fold in the cranberries. I use a large ice cream scoop and fill my muffin papers. Sprinkle tops with oat bran and bake at 350 degrees for 22-25 minutes or until firm to the touch. 

*There are some ingredients listed that I always have on hand. 
If you do not have them, then I have some tips for you.*

*You can use just 1 cup of light olive oil instead of the coconut and applesauce mixture
*You can add a few TBSP of milk or half and half if you don't have yogurt                         
 *You can use all whole wheat flour                                                                                                
 *The oat bran on top is mainly just for prettiness                                                                      

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Quick "Throw Together Because of a Craving" Brownies

I realized, after giving this recipe to a few friends recently, that I do not have these on my blog! Which is crazy since I have them tweaked perfectly and burned into my mind! These are the best "just get them into the oven" brownies. When we go and visit my roomie from college for a long weekend, these are what we bake after the combined 6 children are finally in bed and quiet and it's time to catch up. Love them and her!
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
1/2 stick of butter
6 TBSP of cocoa
2 eggs
1 cup of sugar
2 TBSP of brewed coffee- or 1 tsp of vanilla
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup of flour
1/2  cup of chocolate chips
In a saucepan, melt the butter on a low heat. Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together until well combined and creamy. Whisk in the the cocoa and butter mixture and coffee. Stir in the flour, salt and chocolate chips. Transfer to a greased 8x8 pan and bake for 25-28 minutes or until brownies are just set in the center. A toothpick will not come out clean. You don't want to over bake them at all. Allow to cool a bit and finish setting up then enjoy! With ice cream. And chocolate syrup. And fresh whipped cream. And chopped pecans..... okay you get the point!

A miraculous event....  

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Chocolate Chip and Quinoa Granola Bars

Grocery budgets are a funny thing. They make you think that you have all the choices you want... until you start adding on your calculator! Recently, it's been tough to fit those extras onto the conveyer belt.  We had really been enjoying "Kind"  bars but you know how that goes so I had added it to my long list of things to make myself in order to save my budget and make my family happy. It wasn't until I came across a picture of this
granola bar that I finally had the inspiration to go to the kitchen and cross "granola bars" off of my to-do list. I did not have most of the ingredients that were listed so I used that recipe as a guide and wanted to share my own version with you. Enjoy!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1/4 cup of coconut oil
1/2 cup of brown rice syrup- or honey. I was just out of honey.
1/3 cup of natural crunchy peanut butter
1 cup of rinsed quinoa
2 cups of whole oats
1/2 cup of ground flax meal
1/2 cup of finely chopped walnuts 
3/4 cup of mini chocolate chips

Heat a skillet on medium heat. Add the rinsed quinoa and stir until it dries out and becomes fragrant. This will take 2-3 minutes while stirring often. Remove from pan and into the mixing bowl. Repeat the toasting of the oats and walnuts and add to the mixing bowl. In the same skillet add the coconut oil, brown rice syrup and peanut butter. It will all melt together and become heavenly! Like pour over ice cream, heavenly! But that's another blog post.... back to this one. Pour that "syrup" over the oats mixture in the mixing bowl to combine.  Press this into a 9x13 greased baking pan. A trick to press sticky stuff into pans is to wet your hands a bit. Then the mixture won't stick to your hands. Bake for 20 minutes and allow to cool before cutting. Make one slice down the center and then smaller slices across to recreate the shape of granola bars.  

I know you will love these as much as we did
In fact, these are back on my to-do list today!