Not Always So Fabulous

No Sugar added- Blueberry Banana Muffin Recipe

Hello dear Bloggy Friends! It has been far too long since I have written. I had to do some serious soul searching on whether to continue this blog or not. I have recently had some serious recipe failures and was beginning to lose confidence in my abilities as a cook. Iwas starting to think i should call this site “not-so-fabulously-homemade.

I aspire to craft and bake like Martha Stewart, live like Ree Drumond and have the personality of Rachel Ray. Unfortunately, I often fail at most of these goals. BUT, I have decided that’s ok. We all have to start somewhere; don’t we!? So I will continue to aspire towards being more like Martha, Ree and Rach. In the meantime, I plan to share my successes as well as my failures with you and hope you do the same. Take pride in the learning process, for life is a journey. If you focus too much on the destination, you will miss out on all the fun to be had along the way.

That being said, I will share the success and the failure of my quest for a healthy and delicious breakfast this morning. I was up late last night searching the web for healthy crockpot recipes. I found several for crockpot oatmeal, and thought it sounded delicious and creamy and wonderful. I hopped out of bed, threw some ingredients in the crockpot, and went to sleep confident I would wake to a tasty and hot breakfast early in the morning. Well… my husband got called out to work in the middle of the night, so there wasn’t anyone to wake me in the morning. Yes, I still need someone to drag me out of bed in the morning. A habit acquired in my teens that I ashamedly never outgrew. ANYWAY, I overslept by 2 hours and when I woke the oatmeal was very burnt. So burnt, I am really dreading scrubbing the pot.

Luckily, I was also looking at muffin recipes last night! I had found a great, no sugar added, muffin recipe that I was really looking forward to trying. I washed my hands (literally and figuratively) of that darn oatmeal and started right away with my muffins. Did I have breakfast waiting for me when I woke? No. Did I have a delicious, hot and healthy breakfast a half hour later? YES! I’ll take that as a win.

As I was mixing these muffins up, I thought to myself, “If I were making these, and I am, I would do things a little different.” So I did, and they turned out delightfully fluffy and just sweet enough, and I felt better about my baking skills. Win, win, WIN!

Mrs.F’s Winning Blueberry Banana Muffins-no sugar added 
1 c mashed ripe or over-ripe bananas (aprox. 2.5 large bananas)
1/2 c water
1/2 c oil
2 eggs
1 c wheat flour
1 c all purpose (unbleached preferably) flour
2.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
tiny pinch of table salt or 4 grains of course sea salt (Most all purpose wheat flours contain a lot of salt, so use salt very sparingly)
1.5 c fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease or line 18-muffin tin.

In mixer, thoroughly beat bananas. Continue beating and add water and oil. Then add eggs, just until incorporated. Do not over-beat. Turn mixer off. In separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Turn mixer back on and add flour mixture slowly, stopping half-way to scrape sides. Mix only until wet and slightly lumpy. Remove bowl, scrape sides again. Fold in blueberries by hand.

Measure 1/2 cup batter into each muffin cup. Bake for 16-18 min. Muffins will be fluffy and bounce back when touched lightly.

Notes: Of course, you can change out the flour for all wheat or all all-purpose; as well as the fresh blueberries for frozen. This is just how I made them. Living in Oregon, and this being Summer, it would be a mortal sin if I used frozen berries. OK, maybe not sinful, but definitely silly! Recipe adapted from No-Sugar-Added Blueberry and Banana Wheat Muffins by Speck on Allrecipes.com

Anatomy of a Smoothie

**UPDATED 5/17/12**

Today’s money saving tip: Use leftover fruit salad to make your morning smoothie.

Hello Beautiful

I’ve been seeing those green smoothies all over the internet lately, and have recently fallen in love with several of the recipes. Unfortunately I have found that I rarely have all of the ingredients in the fridge at once, so I have just sort of been making up my own recipes. For example the one I had this morning was an improvised recipe made with left over fruit salad from last nights barbeque with my folks!

Through experimentation over the last few months, I have managed to break down the smoothie into three elements in order for it to be both fulfilling and delicious. The first element, and my most favorite is the “cream.” A good smoothie has to be creamy. (At least in my opinion, hopefully you will agree.) Next, it should be sweet, because why would you eat it if it didn’t taste good? Finally, you have to sneak in some protein in order for it to be fulfilling. Now how do I achieve all of these elements into one delicious refreshing beverage you ask? Read on my dear friend.

The creaminess in your smoothie can be achieved several ways and meet several dietary needs. For example, if you are allergic to gluten, dairy and/or peanuts you can use a banana to both thicken and sweeten your smoothie. If you are not allergic you can use Greek yogurt or peanut butter, which will also incorporate your protein. There are many protein shake powders on the market, which usually contain malt for thickening, as well as a plant based protein for energy. I also like adding coconut milk for a little extra flavor and creaminess.

As for the taste, I really don’t think you need my help telling you what tastes good. In the event you need help with some flavor combination suggestions, I will offer you some suggestions that I like best towards the end of this post.

Now for the seemingly most difficult element, the protein. There are a lot more options than one might think. Consider peanut butter, almond butter, Greek Yogurt (Vanilla or Plain, low-fat or nonfat) protein powder, protein drink mix, even oatmeal has more protein in it than one might think. I am sure there are plenty of soy products out there for you soy lovers as well. I will not list them here though, just because I am not personally a fan, but I know there are plenty out there. Almond milk is another option. It will add the creaminess and has more protein and calcium than dairy milk. Surprise! So play around with some different combinations, and see what you like.

As promised some of my favorite flavor combinations.

Banana-Almond
1/2 Banana
2 TBLS almond butter
2 TBLS Greek Yogurt
1/2 c Almond Milk (I use Vanilla flavored)
Drink your greens! Add a handful of baby spinach to give you an extra boost in the morning!

Tropical
1/3 Banana
1-2 TBLS Diced pineapple
Apple wedge
2 TBLS Greek Yogurt
1/4 c Coconut Milk (NOT low fat)
2 TBLS Vanilla protein powder (optional, but I like Trader Joe’s Hemp Based Protein Powder)
1/4 c dairy or almond milk
sprinkle of sweetened coconut flakes (also optional)

Summer Love
1/3 c fresh ripe strawberries
1 kiwi (peeled, obviously)
handful of ice
6 oz. strawberry yogurt (Being an Oregonian, I prefer Tillamook!)

Today’s smoothie?
Simply half a banana, 1/2 cup fruit salad, 2 TBLS each plain Greek yogurt and vanilla protein powder, and enough almond milk to blend it (about 1/3 cup)

So there you have it friends! Easy as 1-2-3, elements that is, and you have your morning smoothie. Hope you all enjoy!

5/17/12 Update:

Hello again! Yes, I am still chugging smoothies and squeezing in extra lunges whenever possible, in order to trim down for summer. I hope you are sticking to your guns and working hard toward your summer goals as well. This morning I had a summer inspired epiphany while making my smoothie. It was just so delicious I had to share!

I bought 4 pounds of beautifully red ripe California grown strawberries from Costco last night, and when I saw them in my fridge this morning, I knew I had to incorporate them into my breakfast. Since the sun is shining brightly today, I decided it was a great day to enjoy a smoothie outside on my deck. I knew I wanted strawberries and yogurt, but what else? Then I opened the freezer and was reminded of the delicious frozen peaches I bought from my fruit stand. So much better than the ones you buy at the grocery store; locally grown and hand picked at the peak of ripeness. But I digress. What a perfect combination fresh summer strawberry mixed with frozen peaches and creamy yogurt. Yum! After I had mixed it up and had begun drinking it while taking photographs for the Mellocello, Mr F and I just finished bottling, I had an epiphany. I squeezed my prop lemon into my smoothy, stirred and sipped. Mmmmm… now that my friends is perfection. I couldn’t believe what a difference a few drops of lemon juice made. It really just brightened the whole drink up and really excentuated the sweet tartness of the drink. Anyway, I just thought I’d share that little tidbit with you. I hope you will give this summer harvest inspired smoothie a try and let me know what you think!

 

Strawberry Peach Smoothie

Sweet Summer Perfection Smoothie

INGREDIENTS:
3-4 Large fresh ripe strawberries
1/2-2/3 c frozen peaches
6-8 oz yogurt (I used Nancy’s Honey Yogurt, but I’m sure vanilla would taste good too!)
Handful of ice cubes
Squeeze of Lemon.

DIRECTIONS:

Place first 4 ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Squeeze lemon wedge over top and gently stir. Poor into cold glass and sip in the summer sun.

Garlic Lovers Dinner

Last night was very busy, but between my husband and I we still managed to get a healthy-ish, hearty and (most importantly) delicious dinner on the table in about 20 minutes.

Garlic Lovers Dinner

If you are a garlic lover like my husband and I, then you would just die for Block 15′s Garlic Parmesan Fries. Block 15 is mine and my husband’s absolute favorite restaurant. Well actually it is a “brewpup,” something I was unfamiliar with until I moved to Oregon. Brewpubs are huge here in Oregon. For those of you not familiar with the brewpub concept, it’s basically a microbrewery with a bar and restaurant attached, or a bar/restaurant where they serve a large selection of micro-brews. Anyway, about these fries. They are just to die for, which is good, because if I ate them all the time, I just might die of a heart attack! They are pretty fattening; beer battered, fried then covered in garlic and Parmesan. Now if you are like me and are trying to drop a few pounds, before you are forced to wear shorts again, or GASP! put on a bathing suit, you will be looking for a healthier alternative to your favorite indulgences. Once I read BudgetSavyDiva’s recipe for Parmesan-Roasted Green Beans, I knew I had my solution. Just add heaps of garlic, and I knew it would be a healthier alternative to my favorite fatty food. (Hooray! {Jumps for joy!})

Well last night I had some steak defrosted and Mr F had just brought home a package of green beans, so with a few minutes and copious amounts of garlic, I knew I could make a delicious dinner that we could enjoy without feeling too guilty (or bloated) afterwards.

So without further ado, here you are, a super easy, fast, tasty and for the most part guilt free dinner for all of you garlic lovers! (like me and Mr F)

Cracked Pepper and Garlic Steak with Garlic Parmesan Green Beans

Step 1: Marinade steaks

                                  Step 2: Preapare Green Beans

 

Step 3: Roast!

Cracked Pepper and Garlic Steak with Garlic Parmesan Green Bean “fries”:

Ingredients:

  • 2 steaks of your choice (we used T-Bone, but use whatever you have lying around. I recommend tenderizing if it is one of the tougher cuts of meat.)
  • ~ 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 TBLS Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp liquid smoke (this is my cheater ingredient. It is optional, but I like to use it when broiling our steaks inside to give it that smokey barbequed flavor.)
  • 2 TBLS wine vinegar
  • Lots of chopped garlic
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • Parmesan- grated or shredded
  • 12 oz. Green Beans

Supplies:

  • Baking sheet
  • 8×8 Baking dish (or similar)
  • Mixing bowls
  • Whisk
  • Fork or something to toss green beans with. Heck! You could even use your hands… Please wash them first though.
  • Spatula
  • Broiler pan (you know that funky looking pan that probably came with your oven when you bought it.)
  1. Preheat Oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In small mixing bowl, whisk together 1/4 c olive oil, 1 TBLS Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 tsp liquid smoke, 2 TBLS wine vinegar, 2 heaping TBLS of chopped garlic (we buy ours in a huge jar, because we love it so much.)
  3. Dredge steaks in marinade, place in small, non reactive baking dish (read: 8×8 glass baking dish) Poor excess marinade over steaks. Season liberally with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Cover. Set aside and get to work on green beans!
  4. Place green beans in a medium/large mixing bowl, poor enough olive oil to coat green beans over top, (2 TBLS-1/4 cup) add 2 heaping TBLS chopped garlic. Toss with fork, or whatever is lying around, until well coated with both oil and garlic.
  5. Spread green beans evenly in one layer on a baking sheet. Make sure you get all of that savory garlic out of the bowl and onto those green beans!
  6. Season with a hearty amount of sea salt, then sprinkle shredded Parmesan (or dump by the handful) all over green beans.
  7. Place in oven, cook for about 3 minutes, shake pan to roll green beans around, then cook for about 3 more minutes. Green Beans should still be relatively bright green, and garlic just begging to brown on edges when they are ready. Remove pan. Switch oven to high broiler.
  8. Place steaks on broiler pan and poor about half the marinade over them. Broil in oven for 3.5 minutes. Remove, flip steaks, coat with remaining marinade. Return to broiler for 3.5 more minutes. Now this cooking time is for Medium Rare steak, (the only way steak should be eaten in my personal opinion) but if you are one of those silly people like my mother who enjoys their meat more well done, just add a minute or two to the cook time.
  9. Once broiled to perfection remove from broiler and pan onto serving plate. DO NOT SLICE YET! Sorry, pet peeve. Let the steak set for a minute and it will retain more of its juices. Yum. My mouth is watering. Serve up those green beans using a spatula to scrape up all that cheesy goodness.
  10. Set the table. Poor a glass of red “Two Buck Chuck” (hey it’s a week night, no need to crack open the good stuff.) Take a big whiff of all that garlicky goodness… and dig in my friends. You can thank me later. ;-)

 

 

Curry Roasted Vegetables

My, my, my. Who knew healthy could taste so good? With start of Spring, brings the start of my “summer is coming” diet, which basically consists of lowering my calories and simple carbohydrates, and greatly increasing my vegetables, hence this roasted veggie recipe.

This recipe is so simple and so delicious and so easy, I just can’t get over it! You have to try it!
Ingredients:
1 small sweet potato peeled, halved and sliced aprox. 1/4 in.
1 Yukon gold potato halved and sliced aprox. 1/4 in.
1 small zucchini sliced 1/4 in thick
1 red pepper coarsest chopped
1 large or 2 small carrots sliced 1/4 to 1/3 in. thick
1/2 large sweet yellow onion coarsley chopped
1 TBLS chopped garlic
2 TBLS olive oil
1 TBLS red curry paste

Directions

Preheat oven broiler on low. Prepare vegetables as stated above. Toss with olive oil, garlic, curry paste and sea salt.
Spread in one layer across cookie sheet or griddle heated to 400 degrees. Cover lightly with foil if using griddle. If using oven, place on top rack.
Allow to roast 10 to 15 minutes to desired doneness. Use spatula to flip vegetables once or twice throughout cooking time, to avoid scorching and to allow vegetables to cook evenly.
Serve warm, and indulge in this super healthy vegetable dish.

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Oatmeal you and your kids will love (and winner)

Oatmeal is a staple food in our house. With approximately 8 grams of dietary fiber and 11 grams of protein per serving, it’s a food I can feel good about feeding my daughter (and myself.) Here are a few fail-safe ways of preparing it so your kids will enjoy it as much as you enjoy watching them eat healthy, wholesome foods.

Basic Oatmeal Recipe:
I don’t like putting too much effort into cooking early in the morning; I need coffee first. Oatmeal is so quick and easy to make.  Plus, it’s cheap and healthy! This is how I cook our oatmeal.

Ingredients and Supplies:
2 cups water
1 cup rolled oats/old-fashion oats
salt is optional, I don’t use it
S/M Saucepan
Wooden Spoon
2 c liquid measuring cup
1 c dry measuring cup

Directions:

  1. Place water in small saucepan, bring to boil.
  2. Add the oatmeal and reduce heat to low. Simmer.
  3. Continue to cook until desired consistency is reached. For babies and toddlers, I usually cook until cereal turns to mush adding water as necessary, but for older kids and adults I cook it just until soft and chewy.

Finally, I suggest dressing oatmeal with one of the following serving suggestions.

Classic Oatmeal:
Poor a quarter cup heavy cream (or half and half or milk if watching your figure) over basic oatmeal, then top with two tablespoons brown sugar and a good sprinkling of cinnamon.

Jeweled Oatmeal:


Prepare Basic Oatmeal.
Add 1/4-1/2 cup dried fruit to the water with the dry oatmeal and allow to cook together. Cooking the dried fruit with the oatmeal softens the dried fruit a little giving it a great chewy texture.
When desired consistency is reached serve with cream and a light sprinkle of brown sugar or drizzle of honey or agave nectar.
Try any combination of these dried fruits: raisins, blueberries, cranberries or apricots, cherries or strawberries cut into 1/2 inch cubes.

Oatmeal with grilled peaches and cream: (Great Summer Breakfast!)
Prepare Basic Oatmeal. While oatmeal is cooking, halve a peach and grill face down on electric or outdoor grill on low. Flip peaches when soft and beginning to caramelize on bottom. I recommend using a pair of tongs to handle peaches. Continue grilling until other half softens. Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly, then remove peel. Peel should come right off. If it doesn’t, then they need to cook longer. When peaches and oatmeal are ready, serve oatmeal with peach halves, cream, a sprinkle of granola and a light drizzle of honey.

Oatmeal with Blueberry Sauce and almond slivers:


Place 1 cup fresh blueberries, 1/3 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp. lemon zest in small saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring frequently, so as not to burn. Lower heat to simmer and mash blueberries with heat safe potato masher (or whatever you have handy.) While blueberries are simmering, prepare basic oatmeal, stir both frequently. When oatmeal is ready. Divide oatmeal and blueberry sauce between bowls. Sprinkle each with 1-2 TBLS slivered almonds. Delicious!

Baked Oatmeal and Quinoa

This oatmeal is baked in a casserole dish with quinoa, banana and berries. It is delicious, healthy and addicting. I wish I could take credit for this recipe, but I can’t. I found it on Cooking Quinoa. This dish is great for a lazy Saturday Morning, or consider baking it for a pregnant friend or new mom. The folic acid in it is great for developing babies, plus it is packed with protein for tired moms, and the oatmeal helps increase milk production! Thanks Wendy for your wonderful quinoa recipes!
Baked Oatmeal and Quinoa
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1/3 cup natural sugar or maple syrup
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 cups low fat milk
1 large egg
3 T unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla
2 bananas, cut into pieces
1 1/2 cups mixed berries

Preheat oven to 375 and spray olive oil in your pan to prevent sticking.
Mix together oats, quinoa, half of walnuts, sugar (if using otherwise add maple syrup with wet ingredients), baking powder, cinnamon and salt. (Note: this can be done ahead of time.)
In a separate bowl lightly beat egg and add in milk, vanilla, maple syrup (if using) and half of the slightly cooled butter.
Place banana slices on the bottom of the prepared pan. Top with 2/3 of the berries and cover with oat mixture. Pour wet Bake for 40 minutes. Drizzle with remaining melted butter and additional maple syrup or sugar if desired.

Now that you have your  breakfast, let’s see who the winner of this beautiful gift bag is! ….. DRUM ROLL PLEASE …..

….. And the winner is ….

Alycia Nichols at Tablescapes at Table 21!!!!

Congratulations Alycia! Well that’s all for now! Tune in again soon!

I am sharing this on:

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Preparing ELK (and wild game) and Super Easy Hot and Tangy Cranberry Sauce for Beef, Pork, Chicken or Elk

Wow! That title is a mouthful in its self! In celebration of finishing putting away the Christmas decorations, I made this sauce out of my final leftovers from New Years Dinner. I took the last of the cranberry sauce, and spiced it up for my hubby and his favorite dish, elk steak. I am confident however, that you could serve this with any meat dish you like. I imagine it would be especially delicious with pork loin.

Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest, and being an avid outdoors-man, my husband keeps me up to my elbows in fish and wild game. Elk and venison (deer) happen to be very lean meats that are low in cholesterol, and high in vitamins and minerals; thus making them very healthy. Some say they taste “gamey.” I, honestly, don’t know what that means, but I think they are much tastier, and more interesting meats than say chicken, for example. If you can get your hands on some elk or venison, I highly recommend trying it! If you are afraid of the so-called gamey taste, then you can soak the meat in cola or milk for at least an hour prior to cooking. This helps draw the blood out, and tenderize the meat. (This also does wonders for wild duck.) Speaking of tenderizing, you will definitely want to tenderize game meat, as wild animals are highly active, thus making their meat naturally tougher than that of a cow; who stand around in a field all day eating grass and grain. Another thing you should know about wild game is it has a subtle earthy taste due to the animals diet, so it goes especially well with foods that match that earthiness. Think wild rice, mushrooms, squash and root vegetables… oh yum. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. Last, but not least, of course, you must pair it with a good Pinot Noir from the Pacific Northwest.

Now that you are prepared to try anything, let’s try this repurposed cranberry sauce.

Ingredients:
1 Cup of left over Cranberry Sauce
1 large Garlic clove, minced (aprox. 1 tsp.)
1/4 green Bell Pepper, finely chopped
1,2 or 3 tsp. Siracha Hot Chilli Sauce (1 for mild, 2 for medium, or 3 for HOT)
1/8 tsp. Nutmeg
1/4 tsp. Onion powder
1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in small saucepan, simmer 10 min. Season with a little sea salt and black pepper (or a lot of black pepper for more heat) and serve with your favorite meat.

If serving with elk:
Slice thin (1/4-1/3 in. thick), tenderize, sprinkle with favorite grill seasoning and a drizzle of Worcestershire. Saute in a little olive oil on medium, flip when edges begin to brown. Do not overcook wild game or you will have shoe leather. Yuck!

I served mine with quinoa vegetable pilaf (check back later for recipe,) but it goes great with any cooked whole grain. Might I suggest a pile of short grain brown rice and roasted squash and root vegetables?

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