Month: September 2014 (page 2 of 4)

Something For Saturday: No-Bake Snack Bites

Just a little something for Saturday.

I was looking for a quick snack the other day for me and Emma and I thought of the healthy no-bake muffins I made a while back that can be found here.  I decided to recreate them, but re-configure them into easy-to-grab bite-sized shapes.  And I made two versions, so we would have plenty of healthy snack options on hand in the fridge.

Chocolate Chip & Coconut Almond Butter Oat Bites

choco almond butter bites 2

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips {I used semi-sweet here because that’s what I had in the house, but dark chocolate chips are my favorite!}
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup old fashioned uncooked oats
  • 2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes

chocolate chip almond butter bites

Instructions:

1.     Add dry oats, toasted coconut flakes, almond butter, chocolate chips, honey and vanilla extract to a medium bowl and stir to combine.

2.     Cover and place in refrigerator for 15-20 minutes to firm up.

3.     Once chilled, roll into balls.

4.     To store, cover with plastic wrap or in an airtight container and keep refrigerated.  Enjoy immediately!

almond butter bites

Notes:

  • You can toast coconut flakes yourself by placing the flakes in a thin layer on a baking sheet and bake in an oven preheated to 325 degrees for about 5-10 minutes.
  • Or you can purchase store-bought toasted coconut flakes like these awesome 100% organic unsweetened ones I grabbed at Whole Foods.
  • Makes about 15-20 snack bites depending on what size you make them.
  • This version is my favorite!

Chocolate Chip Strawberry Banana Oat Bites

strawberry banana bites 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 sliced banana
  • 1 1/3 cup old fashioned uncooked oats
  • 1/4 cup strawberry preserve
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon honey

strawberry banana bites

Instructions:

1.     Add dry oats, banana slices, strawberry preserve, chocolate chips, and honey to a medium bowl and stir to combine.

2.     Cover and place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to firm up before rolling into balls.

3.     To store, cover with plastic wrap or in an airtight container and keep refrigerated overnight for best results before enjoying.

sb bites

Notes:

  • Use a fork to mash the banana, so that it is smooth and then a wooden spoon to combine all of the ingredients.
  • If you like a bit of texture, you can add some toasted coconut flakes to the mix.
  • Since the banana consistency makes these super moist, they should be refrigerated overnight after making into balls and before eating in order to hold up the best.
  • Makes about 15-20 snack bites depending on what size you make them.
  • This version is Emma’s favorite!

Enjoy!

 

 

A Few Of My Favorite Things {This Week}…

{A few of my favorite things this week that I either just discovered or already know I couldn’t do without}

cider donuts 2

1.     Panama Hat – This Pantropic hat has stayed in my beach bag and came with me to the pool all summer long, but it’s also a piece that I will easily wear into the fall with over-sized and chunky sweaters.

panama hat

2.     Statement Necklace – Sometimes, the easiest way to change up your look or dress up a plain outfit is with accessories.  And this sparkly statement necklace that I picked up at a boutique in Las Vegas this July is the perfect remedy whenever I am looking to give a white tee and a favorite pair of jeans a boost.

sparkly necklace

3.     Fall Produce – Each season has its staple produce items and Whole Foods always brings them in frequently from local farms and orchards, making it super convenient to grab fresh-picked apples, like these McIntosh from New York State.

mcintosh

4.     Cider donuts –  Whether they are covered with powdered sugar or cinnamon, warmed up or eaten as is, cider donuts are always something I look forward to in the fall.   And these from Hacklebarney Farm and Cider Mill in Chester, NJ are my favorite.

cider donuts

Enjoy!

 

In The Kitchen: Simple, Hearty Quesadilla Dinner

There are so many foods I love, so many dishes that I count among my favorite, but when it comes to cooking each night, I tend to stick to the same few things: chicken and fish.  And hardly stray from how I prepare them.  But there are times I try to mix it up, noting that delicious meals that are simple to make aren’t always easy to come by, but they do exist.  This simple, hearty quesadilla dinner is chock full of veggies and flavor and is quick to prepare and even more effortless to devour.  And the best part about quesadillas is that you can customize them any way you want.  You can add shrimp or just stick with vegetables.  You can toss in your favorite cheeses.  The possibilities are endless, making them that much more fun to create.

10712742_330357900469604_6782049174222952392_n

Just like my favorite go-to guacamole recipe found here, I have tinkered with different quesadilla ingredients and instructions over the years, changing and adapting the fill-ins and measurements and have settled on a few combinations that I like the most.  This one is filling enough that I make it as a meal, but you can always serve with homemade or store-bought tortilla soup or a side of chips and guacamole (like this one here) or choose to serve these as an appetizer.

quesadillas close up

Ingredients:

  • 1 small yellow bell peper
  • 1 small red bell pepper
  • 1 small green bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground pepper, divided
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter for mushroom preparation
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons butter for cooking the quesadillas
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked and shredded chicken (see the notes section for instructions)
  • 1/3 cup BBQ sauce (see the notes section for my favorite)
  • 2 cups fresh arugula
  • 5 ounces sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 2-2 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar (depending on how cheesy you like yours)
  • 2-2 1/2 cups shredded combination of mild cheddar and monterey jack (depending on how cheesy you like yours)
  • 5 large flour tortillas

quesadillas 2

Instructions:

1.     Prep the peppers:  Slice the peppers into thin strips.  Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Saute for about 5 minutes or until they look roasted on the outside.  Turn off heat and transfer peppers to a small bowl.

2.     Prep the mushrooms:  Wipe the skillet with a paper towel and return to the stove.  Add 1 1/2 tablespoons butter and melt over medium heat.  Add the sliced shiitake mushrooms and saute for 5-8 minutes or until golden brown.  Turn off heat and transfer mushrooms to a separate medium bowl.

3.     In a small bowl, combine the 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1/2 tablespoon honey, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon ground pepper.

4.     Prep the red onions:  Wipe the skillet with a paper towel and return to the stove.  Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat and add the diced red onion and the 3 cloves minced garlic.  Cook for a few minutes, until tender.

5.     Add the balsamic sauce to the skillet with the onions and garlic and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and toss into the bowl of cooked mushrooms.

6.     In a medium bowl, combine the caramelized onions and mushrooms mixture with the cooked, shredded chicken.  Add 1/3 cup BBQ sauce and stir.

7.     Heat 1/2 teaspoon butter in a large pan over medium heat.  Place a tortilla in the pan and sprinkle one half of the tortilla with 1/4-1/2 cup of the mild cheddar and monterey jack shredded cheese mix.  Then, layer with 1/2 cup of chicken mixture.  Sprinkle a handful of the cooked peppers, then sprinkle with a handful of arugula.  Top with 1/4-1/2 cup of the shredded sharp cheddar.  Fold tortilla in half to cover the filling and carefully flip over.  Cook about 2-3 minutes each side or until golden brown.  Repeat with the remaining tortillas and ingredients.

8.     Cut quesadilla into wedges (I made 5 of these with this recipe and I cut mine into 3 wedges each time) and serve.

quesadillas

Notes:

  • To make the shredded chicken, I trimmed about 4 thick chicken breasts and added them to a sauce pan, then added enough water to cover the chicken.  Start on medium heat, then bring to a boil.  Cover and let simmer for about 10-12 minutes or until they are no longer pink in color.  Drain and place chicken in a large bowl.  When cool enough to handle, shred chicken with a fork or by hand.  Add 1 teaspoon ground pepper to the shredded chicken and mix.  Set aside until needed later.
  • Use the back of a large spatula to press down the folded quesadilla.  This will make it easier to flip over.
  • I was able to make 15 wedges total.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

In The Kitchen: My Go-To Guacamole Recipe

We were given a molcajete, a traditional stone tool, the Mexican version of the mortar and pestle, at our bridal shower almost six years ago, and it’s been pretty heavily used ever since then.  It had come with a little square paper tag that provided a quick and simple guacamole recipe.  I stuck to that little paper tag recipe each time I took out the molcajete and followed along line by line for the longest time.  Then somewhere, the tag got tattered, then lost.  And I began creating the avocado dip from memory, adapting the ingredients and measurements a bit, but never varying too much from the original I had leaned on.

Here is my favorite go-to guacamole recipe that I swear by for Sunday football games, taco night and last minute get-togethers with friends.

Ingredients:

  • 4 ripe avocados
  • 1 small red onion, diced (I usually use a little less than a whole small red onion)
  • 1/2 serrano chile, minced
  • 1/2 jalapeno chile, minced
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 limes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • Handful of red pepper flakes

guac 2

Instructions:

1.     Place 1/2 of the diced red onion, the serrano chile, the jalapeno, the 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, and 2 tablespoons cilantro into the molcajete and process into a paste.

2.     Add two chopped avocados, the juice of one lime and the remainder of diced red onion to the mortar and pestle and process.

3.     Add the remaining two chopped avocados and the juice of the remaining lime and process again.

4.     Fold in the quartered cherry tomatoes and sprinkle with red pepper flakes to taste.

guac 3

Note:

  • Serves 6- 8.
  • Enjoy immediately or cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge until ready to serve.

Enjoy!

 

The New Saturday Night

There was a time when weekend nights spent in left me a little bummed, feeling like I was missing out, like there was something else I should be doing instead.  Now, when there is a Friday or Saturday night that is wide open, free of planned dinners and celebrations, I don’t mind it.  I actually look forward to it and enjoy it.

saturday night in

Last night, Emma and I had the house to ourselves.  We ate lots of frosted cookies with rainbow sprinkles and a few chocolate chip.  One glass and one sippy cup whole milk.  We curled up together on the couch and watched the entire movie ‘Brave’ until she nodded off just before the credits.  And all-in-all it was a pretty awesome night.

Hope you are having a great weekend!

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