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Saturday, March 23, 2019

Nutella Breakfast Energy Bites

To all you Nutella lovers out there, there's a way to enjoy Nutella at breakfast and it's not just a boring smear of Nutella on a piece of wheat toast. Oh no, these Nutella Breakfast Energy Bites are packed with chia seeds and ground flaxseed and lots of oats. When you pop a few of these with some morning coffee you'll feel good about eating these, I've cut down on the amount of honey to offset the sugar in the Nutella. I think you'll really like these, and they are incredibly fast and easy to whip up!

I love these since they also make a great breakfast-on-the-go, or an eat at your desk. We all do it, run out the door without eating breakfast but sucking down that oh-so-needing cup of coffee. Well, now you don't need to resort to that anymore. Keep a bowl of these little guys in the fridge, then just grab a few on your way to work!

Nutella Energy Bites are a healthy way to enjoy the flavor of Nutella while also getting the health benefits of chia seeds and flaxseed. 

-2 cups quick oats
-1/2 cup almond butter
-3/4 cup Nutella
-2 tablespoons honey
-2 tablespoons chia seeds
-3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
-1 3.5oz bar of dark chocolate, chopped...I like to use Lindt 72%

1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Refrigerate 15 minutes, then roll into balls. Yes, it's that easy. I like to keep mine stored in the fridge for a cool refreshing energy snack.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Sun-Dried Tomato and Lemon Basil Pasta

Busy people everywhere rejoice! There exists an easy and quick pasta dinner that is so wonderfully flavorful you'll want to make this every week, and it's this Sun-dried Tomato pasta in a delicious basil and lemon tomato sauce.

I love a good pasta dinner, and like adding new recipes to my rotation that are a bit lighter and aren't your typical cream-based pasta. Especially now that we're in Spring and headed towards Summer (aka bathing suit season) I really am loving some lighter meals and staying away from the heavy indulgent dishes that I lean to in Fall and Winter. This sauce is made with sauteed garlic, fresh chopped basil, lemon zest, tomato paste and some of the pasta water. Lots of sweet sun-dried tomatoes and of course, burrata cheese. If you've never had burrata cheese before please go to the store tomorrow and buy it immediately. Burrata is basically an outer shell of Mozzarella cheese and an interior of smooth and creamy Mozzarella. It's heavenly. I want to think up a million recipes now to use burrata...and once you try this recipe I think you'll agree.

To make this easier for you I've written the instructions so that you take care of all the chopping/zesting in the beginning. Another note, the original recipe called for a 1-lb box of rigatoni pasta. I made an entire box, but did not use all of the noodles in the sauce. If I did, I think there wouldn't be enough sauce to generously cover the noodles. So, my recommendation is make the pasta as called for in the recipe but then add it slowly to the sauce and when you've reached the desired amount stop adding pasta.

 Look at these perfectly coated noodles!

And that creamy burrata cheese. Ok, I'm getting hungry again.

-1lb box of rigatoni pasta
-5 cloves garlic, grated
-1 8oz jar of sun-dried tomatoes in oil (you will use the oil and the tomatoes!)
-1 lemon, zested
-1 teaspoon dried oregano
-1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
-2 tablespoons tomato paste
-1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
-salt and pepper to taste
-3/4 cup of the boiling pasta water
-Burrata cheese

1. Bring a pot of water to boil and boil the pasta for 12 minutes. While the water is coming to a boil zest the whole lemon, grate the garlic cloves, and chop the basil. Pour the oil from the sun-dried tomato jar into a large sauce pan, then dice the tomatoes. See, all the hard work is out of the way!

2. Heat the sun-dried tomato oil over medium heat and add in the garlic, oregano, lemon zest, and 1/4 cup of the basil. Cook 2-3 minutes, then add in the tomato paste and stir to combine then pour in 3/4 cup of the boiling pasta water. Simmer until the pasta is done cooking. I like to reserve about another 1/2 cup of pasta water on the side in case the sauce gets too thick.

3. When the pasta is done, strain and pour desired amount into the sauce pan. As mentioned above, I found the whole box of pasta is too much and didn't use all of the cooked pasta in my sauce. Add the Parmesan cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and the rest of the basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook another 2-3 minutes. Serve with sliced burrata cheese.


Source: Half Baked Harvest

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Whipped Feta

Ever feel like you're struggling to find new and interesting appetizers for a party? If you've been in a snacking rut, let me introduce you to Whipped Feta. Whipped Feta came onto the food scene not too long ago, and boy am I glad it did. This seriously is a game changer when it comes to party snacks. It's smooth, it's creamy, it's got so much flavor you you're not going to want to stop eating until your cracker is scraping the sides of the bowl and you're embarrassed by how much you just ate.

Another bonus, is this is SO easy to whip up (pun intended). It's literally just blend everything together then service. Yes, that's it! I cam across this recipe when I wanted to make whipped feta for a little get together, and I think it's a really great starter recipe. Eventually I'll want to try making a few other versions, maybe some additional herbs or roasted garlic, or adding a bit of heat. But if you just follow the recipe below you're going to be very happy with the results. Serve with pita bread or crackers, this isn't something you'll want tortilla chips for.

Whipped Feta Dip is a refreshing and light cheese spread. Serve with pita bread or crispy crackers, this easy party appetizer is impressive and packed with tons of flavor!

-8oz feta cheese, crumbled or block is fine
-1/2 cup sour cream
-1/2 cup Hellman's Olive Oil Mayo
-zest from 1 lemon
-1 garlic clove, grated
-1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
-1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
-1/8 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and additional black pepper.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Irish Soda Bread

Every year I go to make my annual Irish Soda Bread, and every year I make the same mistake. You'd think I would have learned by now, right?

Every year, I plan to make my Soda Bread. I think about how delicious it's going to taste, about seeing that unique "x" cut into the top, about the sweet raisins in dough. When I've done my food shopping for the week, I'm always proud of myself for remembering the raisins. I don't really eat raisins so they're never a pantry staple, so the fact that I've added them to my shopping list and actually remembered to buy them is pretty impressive for me. So here we go...ready to make that bread. I scan the recipe and BAM...there it is...buttermilk. Yes, in addition to raisins there's another unique ingredient this bread needs and its buttermilk.

I promise I'm not making this up, I forget this every year and have to make a special trip bake to the store just for this. Maybe writing about it in this detail will make me remember next year?

This brings me to something else, I don't know why I only make this once a year. This is a GREAT bread. It's incredibility yeast, no waiting to rise. Just mix everything together, do a little light kneading to get the right shape, then bake! It also has a refreshing sweet flavor unlike any other bread. This makes a great snack with coffee or even a breakfast item.

The spoiler is about this, the "soda" in here is baking soda. As a kid, I always thought I was eating bread make with actual drinking soda, when I learned it was just a leavening agent I was pretty bummed. Honestly, I'm still kind bummed it's not a super cool bread made with soda.

- 4 cups flour
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 cup raisins

1. Heat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. If you don't have parchment, I just greased the bottom of my pan so the bread won't stick.

2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt with an electric mixer with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low until the butter is combined.

3. Lightly beat the egg in the buttermilk and with the mixer on low speed pour into flour mixture. Mix the raisins in a tablespoon of flour and add into the dough.

4. Flour your counter-top and your hands. Dump the dough on the flour and lightly knead a few times until you get a round loaf. It will be very sticky at first so make sure you have enough flour so it doesn't stick to your hands.

5. Place the loaf onto the baking sheet and cut an 'X' into the top with a serrated knife. Bake for 50-55 minutes, until a knife comes out clean. I only needed to bake 50 minutes and it was done perfectly.

Source: Barefoot Contessa

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Roasted Broccoli Twice Baked Potatoes

So something really big happened: I became an Aunt!

My older brother and his sweet wife welcomed their beautiful little girl into the world in the wee hours of the morning on March 5th. We are all completely smitten with this little girl. Since I have my daughter, who is somehow now 17 months old, I know what those first few weeks are like with a newborn. During this time you're in total survival mode. You're doing just enough so that all of you are fed and surviving, and everything else comes in a very distant after thought. Those weeks I felt like I was sleep walking, it amazes you how you're able to function on just a handful of sleep hours that you get sporadically through the night. So it goes without saying, cooking during this time felt like I was being asked to make Thanksgiving dinner every.single.night. Not only are quick and easy meals a necessity, but also meals that make for great leftovers for lunch...or for some much needed nourishment at 2am when you're feeding a newborn for the second time that night.

Twice baked potatoes have lots of filling cheese, but these guys have savory roasted broccoli and garlic to really pack in the flavor. Scale this recipe up as much as you want to make a bunch of potatoes and store them in the fridge, a quick pop in the microwave or about 10 minutes in the oven warms them back up for that leftover meal.

Oh, you'll notice below there's a bit of a cheat. I use the shortcut of microwaving the potatoes first. By all means, if you prefer to pre-bake instead do that. But this is supposed to be the quick time-saver version so throw those potatoes in the microwave and make it easy on yourself!

Roasted Broccoli Twice Baked Potatoes are a savory and filling meal that can be used as a side item to a larger meal or eaten alone. Make enough to save for leftovers for a quick and easy lunch! 

Recipe below yields 4 twice baked potatoes.

-2 cups chopped fresh broccoli florets (remove as much of the stem as you can using only the floret)
-2 tablespoons EVOO
-1 teaspoon sea salt
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-2 Russet potatoes
-2 tablespoons butter
-2 tablespoons milk
-2 tablespoons cream cheese
-3 tablespoons sour cream
-fresh shredded sharp Cheddar cheese for topping

1. Heat oven to 450. In a bowl combine the broccoli, EVOO, and sea salt. Stir to coat. Pour onto a baking sheet and bake for 6 minutes. Then reduce heat to 425 and bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and lower temperature to 350.

2. While the broccoli is baking, pierce your potatoes several times with a fork. Microwave for 11-13 minutes. They should easily be sliced with a knife when they are done. 

3. Place the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl. Carefully slice open the potatoes length-wise and scoop out the potato and spoon into the bowl on top of the butter and cream cheese (the heat helps them melt). To make it easier to spoon out the potato without splitting the skin, I take my knife and cut all around the perimeter to make a guide of where to scoop. Doing this prevents you from scooping directly onto the skin of the potato.

4. To the potato bowl, add the sour cream and milk. Mash until combined, just enough so that the mixture is smooth but some small lumps are OK, you're not looking for a mashed potato texture you just want it to be mostly smooth with all of the ingredients incorporated. If the mixture is too stiff, add little bits of milk until you get a smoother consistency. Lastly, fold in the broccoli and garlic. Sitr lightly so you don't break up the florets too much.

5. Place the empty potato skins onto a baking sheet. Spoon the potato and broccoli mix into the 4 skins. Top with shredded Cheddar cheese and sprinkle with paprika. Bake for 15 minutes.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Spiced Walnut Granola Crumble

Your morning yogurt is about to change forever.

Yogurt is great and all, but let's agree it's a bit boring and the one-note texture leaves a lot to be desired. It needs crunch. It needs texture. Might I say, it needs this Spiced Walnut Granola.

This is one of those recipes that just popped into my mind as I was going through the ingredients I had on hand and working with recipes I've already made. Let me tell you, the mix of crunchy chopped walnuts mixed with cinnamon, sugars, and nutmeg and baked until crispy is so addicting. This makes a big batch so it's perfect to make on a Sunday and have it for the week. And if I'm being honest, my husband and I found ourselves just snacking on this over the's that good.

Spiced Walnut Granola Crumble is made with the mixture of chopped walnuts, sugars, cinnamon, and nutmeg combined with melted butter and baked to perfection.

-1/2 cup quick oats
-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
-3/4 cup chopped walnuts
-1/4 cup dark brown sugar
-1 tablespoon white sugar
-5 tablespoons butter, melted
-1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
-1/4 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg 
-1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, walnuts, sugars, and spices. Add in the melted butter and stir until all the dry ingredients are wet. Lastly, add in the vanilla and stir.

3. Pour the crumble onto a baking sheet. It's ok that this will be a mix of larger chunks and then portions that are small pieces. Once it bakes you can break up the larger pieces into more of a crumble. Bake for 15 minutes.


Friday, February 22, 2019

Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Energy Bites

Dinners get a lot of attention, don't they? It's all about the dinner. What are you making for dinner? What are we having for dinner?

Quick and easy dinner recipes are sought after. And I get it, I'm there with you. I'm always searching for new ways to make quick, easy, and nutritious dinners for those weeknights after a long day of work. But breakfast and lunch need a little attention to.

Who eats a good breakfast every morning? I know no one is whipping up a well-balanced breakfast at 6am before your way into work. If you are, I applaud you and you deserve a medal. I think most of us hit the coffee first, then maybe search for a bagel or a packaged granola bar. Yogurt is a good idea, but I've always needed something solid to get me going in the morning and for me yogurt is more of a mid-morning hold-me-over-til-lunch snack. So, if you're needing an energy-packed quick and easy breakfast that you can eat in the car or bring to work and eat at your desk, breakfast energy bites are for you.

I'm obsessed with dark chocolate bars and chopping them up for recipes. I love the variations in sizes and the dark chocolate flavor is so rich it helps to town down any sweetness. These dark chocolate almond butter energy bites are everything you need to get you out the door in the morning. Ground flaxseed, chia seeds, almond butter, and did I mention dark chocolate chunks? The ground flaxseed almost takes on a cinnamon-like flavor it was so warm and was the perfect match for the richness of the chocolate. Make these on Sunday and you'll have your grab-and-go breakfasts for the week!

A note about the recipe, you can buy ground flaxseed or do it yourself. I preferred to buy the seeds and put them in my Nutribullet to create the powder.

Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Energy Bites are a quick and easy breakfast or morning snack with coffee. Packed with energy rich flaxseed and chia seeds these are so easy you'll want to make these every week!

-2 cups quick oats
-1 cup almond butter
-1 cup chopped dark chocolate (I use Lindt 72% Dark Chocolate)
-1/3 cup honey
-1/4 cup ground flaxseed
-1 tablespoon chia seeds
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Combine the oats, almond butter, vanilla, and honey. Stir in the ground flaxseed and chia seeds. Lastly, stir in the chopped chocolate. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes.

2. Once chilled, remove from the fridge and roll into balls. Towards the end it might get a little sticky as the warmth from your hands warms the mixture. If you need to, pop the bowl back in the fridge for a few minutes and then finish up rolling the last of the bites.

I like to keep these in the fridge, the coolness is refreshing and the chocolate chunks get an extra crispiness.

Adapted from: Two Peas and Their Pod