A Where the Wild Things Are Birthday

Where the Wild Things Are Chocolate Cupcakes

Yesterday we celebrated my nephew’s 1st birthday!  My sister held an adorable themed party – Where the Wild Things Are.   Growing up, I remember reading that book over and over again as a child, thinking how imaginative his mind was. To have a forest grow within his room, go to another land with beasts,  become their king, only to realize that he DID miss his dinner and decided to calm down and come back to reality.  Funny thing about this story is I don’t see this in my nephew at all, yet. But, he IS only one year old!  Perhaps one day he will be parading around in a wild outfit, aggravating my sister while she is cooking.  I look forward to hearing stories of her wild and wonderful adventure with her beautiful son.  🙂

For the party, I made cupcakes with crazy looking hair similar to the creatures in the book.  At least I tried.  It helped that there were toppers and wraps to outfit the cakes making a nice finish.  The recipe I used was Add a Pinch, and then I added my own spices to the mix to jazz it up.  The cupcakes were a hit!

Jazzed Up Chocolate Cupcakes -makes 12 cupcakes

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon of All-Spice
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ teaspoon bourbon vanilla
  • ½ cup boiling water

Heat oven to 325 degrees.  Add liners to muffin pan and spray cooking oil on the liners. Don’t overspray. Combine in a stand mixer all dry ingredients.  Add the wet ingredients and mix again.  This will create a wet mixture, so I poured it into a large measuring cup to pour into the liners without making a mess.  Bake for roughly 20 minutes depending on your oven.  Once cool, add your favorite frosting to top.  I used my own which is a little of this a little of that. I really don’t have it measured out, but I do use salted butter to balance out the heavy sugar load.  Also a splash of milk helps the texture smooth out.

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cupcakechocolate cupcake

Frog Jam Pop Tarts

frog jam pop tart

Five years ago on this day, we drove to the Eastern coast, toward Fenwick Island and stayed at the beach with my family.  The drive was beautiful, especially heading over the famous Bay Bridge and then onto flat coastal lands filled with acres and acres of farmland.  Passing over the bridge always carries a unique and very significant feel to the drive.  It casts away the notion of being bound to the mainland (even though, we’re still attached to it) giving off a sense of freedom.  Freedom that the beach is upon us, especially after a hard winter…

After passing through acres of beautiful agriculture, I saw arched flags along the road, signifying a produce stand.  Mind you, we passed dozens of small and large produce stands, but I was told this was the stand to stop and gather the goods at.  Pulling into the parking lot, it was clear why we needed to check out the food here.  It was beautiful.  Off to the left of the main building was a giant outdoor playground for kids.  I don’t mean the standard kind like we see at a school ground either.  The play area had wooden planes, trains and automobiles, for the kids to climb around in while you shop.

So while the kids were preoccupied, I ventured through the rows and rows of produce.  It was almost overwhelming with the selection, but who can complain about that?  After a lot of searching, I picked up some sweet corn, peppers, cherries, asparagus, and Frog Jam.  I saw these jellies and jams all stacked above the fruit, decorating the stand nicely, and I knew, at that moment what I was going to create with that Frog Jam.  What IS Frog Jam?  A jam that consist of Figs, Raspberries, Orange and Ginger.  There are some other ingredients in there as well, but those are the key flavors that give it the unique name.  I instantly was in love with the concept and had to buy it.

So, what could I possibly create with Frog Jam that would be creative?  Healthy, homemade pop tarts!  My kids love the traditional kind, although, I find them overly sweet and too under-nourishing.  How often can you say that you’re full after a pop tart?  I am willing to bet not too often, and that’s what motivated me to design something tasty and something that works with a child’s palate.  These tarts were very simple to make, as I even allowed the kids to get involved on creating these, with hopes that they would like to eat them too.  I wasn’t sure if the healthy nature of the tart would avert them or the crazy jam inside, but I am happy to announce that my picky children were more than pleased with these treats.  They were just that too, a treat and a breakfast.  What is also wonderful is that you can save these in the freezer for another time.  However, I wasn’t able to save these in my home; I found my husband sneaking a few at a time to take back to the office and snack on, as well as my children doing the same.  The tarts were out of the house in a few days and my family is asking that I make some more again.  I couldn’t be happier seeing my family be excited to eat so well, and the tarts were a perfect change of pace.  So don’t be afraid to find some unusual flavor jam or jelly and create these beautiful and delicious tarts!

Frog Jam Pop Tarts Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/4 cups of King Arthur Whole-Wheat Flour
  • 1 cup of melted Butter (salted)
  • 1 tsp of Sea Salt
  • 1 cup of Organic Plain Yogurt
  • FROG Jam or any other Jam/Jelly

Directions:

Mix together the flour, butter, salt and the yogurt and then when a dough forms, begin to knead the dough.  If it feels too sticky, add more flour; too dry, add yogurt.  Roll out the dough on a floured surface or parchment paper.  Using cookie cutter or a knife, cut the shapes you are seeking.  Add a small spoonful to the dough and spread it out, not hitting the edges, however.  Place top on the tart and press the edges with your fingers first and then with a fork to seal the tart shut.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

This article was previously published through Ciao Florentina, which has since been removed from the site.  I am the original author of this recipe. Thank you!

Eggless Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Eggless Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Let’s be real.  Shall we?  I’m not a person that enjoys fake people, fake smiles (and hellos) and fake food most of all.  How these phony things in life make us feel insecure, bored and unhealthy.  Think about it.  When a person says, “how are you?”  The general response is “good.”  Why would we bother say in passing,” well, today, I want to kick a hole in the wall due to the level of frustration I have experienced today!”  Can you imagine how that would go over???  Then there needs to be a sit down conversation as to why you would want to injure yourself and be destructive all in one setting.  Truly, don’t kick a wall, it lands you nowhere good.  🙂

What’s my “real” statement for today?  I have a love/hate relationship with bananas.  Oh they look so beautiful in the grocery store… and as I select a group, I think, “I’m going to eat these each day and be good to my body – and make the kids eat them too.”  And after two days of sitting on the counter, all of the other choices of food overrule those once lovely bananas.  Now starting to slightly spot, not looking so beautiful… but still edible.  Maybe I’ll have one today.  But no.  It never happens and so I force one of my kids to eat one, so there’s that.  Great parenting! Less guilt, right?  And then the tragedy begins, the spots darken and the odd pungent smell begins – and you know.  It’s time to make a decision.  Feel incredible guilt over the loss of a couple of dollars, or bake with them.

Most of the time, the trash can is the place those bananas go.  This year while working, I found it weight on my shoulders to have to cook with the bananas.  Cooking dinner was enough to deal with.  Baking was put on hold for the most part.  At one point during the school year, I made an executive decision to not buy them.  The counter looked barren and that brief emptiness didn’t last too long.  So, here we are.  Back to bananas on the counter again.  And this time, I forced my daughter to use a recipe and bake instead of pitching them in the trash.  She selected a recipe well, and we now have a healthy homemade breakfast ready for tomorrow!

Want the recipe?

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats 
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup Oil (I used Grapeseed Oil)
  • 3 mashed medium ripe bananas

Directions:

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a muffin pan with shortening (the recipe makes 12 muffins.)  In a large bowl, mix bananas and oil.  Add dry ingredients slowly to the wet mixture.  Add chocolate chips and mix.  Fill muffin tins 3/4 of the way.  The original recipe calls for liners, I didn’t do this, and it seemed to work out well.  Bake for 18 minutes.  Enjoy!

Read More: http://www.egglesscooking.com/banana-chocolate-chip-muffins/

Carrot Cake Cookies

Carrot Cake Cookies Last night, I actually took time to bake! Whoa. Take a picture.  Oh wait, I did – many, and you get to see just two of them.

I have full respect for full-time working parents who still find time to cook dinner, clean up the house, help kids with homework, drive kids to dance classes (or whatever extracurricular class they go to) and find time to do what they love!  For me, the end of the day is not my finest hour.  I am a morning bird, so my nights tend to drag for me, and my comfortable pillow top mattress calls my name – right around 9:30pm.  Which is not exactly convenient when married to a night owl husband (or having a night owl child!)  Either way, I press on some nights like I did last night and finally got around to baking.

I must share my funny story with making these cookies…

I take a box of Duncan Hines Decadent Classic Carrot Cake mix, and was amused that they had a cookie recipe on the box.  I was amused because I was thinking, just before I saw the recipe, that it would be interesting to make cookies with that box mix, and lo and behold, I was not the first to think of this.  What a surprise.  I’m mixing up the batter as it calls for, only to realize that I’m using STEEL-CUT oats, rather than those instant oats with the old man on the package.  No big deal, right? Well, not so much. I also found that their package of carrots, fruits, etc that needs to absorb water, took in only so much water but not most of it.  The recipe (as I followed dutifully) called for me to put the carrot mix AND water into the batter.  I didn’t want to listen, I thought the dough was looking beautiful… WHY DO I LISTEN?  I am not a rebel… So I followed against instinct.  Mix up the batter and have a weird watery dough mess on my hands.  Well, what to do now?

NOW came the baker in me.  I was excited about this problem because it meant I could actually be creative and figure out a solution.  And I did, successfully!  Little measurements of added almond meal, and a hit of AllSpice and bam!  Good to go… Oh, and the kids had no idea.  They were chowing down!! Little did they know that their Mom stuck in some healthy cut oats and a good deal of almond meal.  Heh Heh… That’s our jobs as mom, isn’t it?  Want to try?

Ingredients:

  • One Box of Duncan Hines Decadent Classic Carrot Cake Mix
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, softened (they called for unsalted, but I used regular and didn’t taste the salt)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup of steel cut oats
  • 1 1/4 cup of hot water (add carrot mix to this)
  • 1 cup of almond meal
  • 1 tsp. AllSpice

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Soak carrot mix in hot water for 5 minutes.  In a large bowl, beat butter until fluffy.  Add cake mix, eggs, oats, and soaked carrot mix (WITH unabsorbed water.)  Beat until combined.  Add 1/4 cup at a time of almond meal.  If dough is standing up, don’t add more!  But if it was a gooey mess like mine, add up to 1 cup of the almond meal.  Add in Allspice.

Place in heaps on greased baking sheet leaving 2 inches apart from each other.  Bake 12 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool slightly and transfer to cooling rack.  Cookies are somewhat flat when done. And they taste just fine! 🙂

Carrot Cake Cookies

 

 

Paleo Parsnip Banana Muffins

Paleo Parsnip Banana Muffin

It was time.  It was time for a season of change, and a chance to do work for God.  I have poured myself into working at the kids’ school, and found it to be very rewarding!  I also discovered some things just in the past 2.5 months:

I am fulfilled.

I am blessed.  Being able to do God’s work and be near my kids at the same time… amazing!

I have fallen into eating routines I’m not proud of, and discipline is slowly slipping.  But I am not worried; as this is normal for people when change disrupts the routine.  Things will fall back into place accordingly.

I miss cooking and baking.  It is something I continue to do to feed our family, but experimenting with recipes has seemed like a burden… until now.

I’m thankful.  God has given me new vision on how hard it is to work, eat well, exercise, clean the home, be a parent, be a wife, and seek balance in life (and not in that order!) This insight has provided me a chance to see how I can help you even further to balance work and home and still eat well.

Paleo Parsnip Banana Muffins (Recipe slightly adapted from Paleo Newbie Recipes)

Personal thoughts:  This recipe below takes time. Prepare this on a Saturday or Sunday and freeze the muffins until ready to consume.  Muffins came out beautifully, and I was not disappointed! I completely recommend this recipe, and that it is sound.

Messy factor?  Medium Level. Lots of bowls, cups, measuring devices were used.  (But nothing out of the ordinary for me, and I can easily toss into the dishwasher.)

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbs cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice

Wet Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs – whisked
  • 2 bananas – mashed
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1/3 cup raw honey
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Fold In:

  • 1 cup grated parsnips
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts

Yields:

  • Makes 12-14 muffins

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan or use a silicone muffin tray. Combine dry ingredients in one bowl and wet ingredients in another bowl. Mix together, and set aside. Using a food processor (grater attachment) grate up 2 parsnips (about 1 cup.) Fold in parsnips and walnuts. Pour batch into a large measuring cup to help with pouring into muffin tins. Bake for 22-25 minutes. Delightful!!

Paleo Parsnip Banana Muffin

Rustic Almond Biscuits

Rustic Almond Biscuits

Last night, the weather was cool, and I found it a perfect time to make a beef stew in the crock pot.  Who knew we would still be having chilly weather in April?  Everywhere I go, I bump into people that all say the same statement, “I am SO over this weather.”  I couldn’t agree more.

Back to biscuits.  I am not from the south, so I never really go into the concept of eating biscuits.  I know… “for shame!”  I should love the buttery taste they present, but to me they are awkward to eat because of it’s texture.  Even when made correctly, I would still resort to a croissant or an English muffin any day over a biscuit.

However, this did not stop me from trying out a biscuit recipe that is Paleo friendly.  Eating healthy like I am, very low carbs/Paleo, causes major cravings, and I have to find creative ways to put those cravings to the curb!  This was a great solution, and I labeled them “rustic” because these aren’t your mama’s pretty fluffy and flaky biscuits.  These babies are dense, rich with texture and flavor, and totally deserves the name “rustic.”

Enjoy this recipe pulled from the cookbook Paleo Comfort Foods (with one minor variation of my own)!

  •  6 large egg whites 
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 3/4 cup almond meal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp butter 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  In a large bowl, mix the flours, baking powder and then with a knife, cut the cold butter into the mix.  Pinch butter with your hands into the flours to create a crumbly mixture.  Chill, if you would like, in the fridge for 10 minutes.  In a separate bowl, mix the egg whites until really frothy.  Pour eggs into flour mix, and fold together.  Spoon batter into greased muffin tins.  Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.

 

 

Breakfast Cookies

Breakfast cookies

Let me get the record straight. These are not Paleo cookies however, they could be depending on what you decide to put in them. When I made this batch of cookies, I found the batter to be really runny, so I put in a LOT of oatmeal, and they turned out to be really delicious. The batch makes up quite a bit, so if everyone in your family is going to eat them, I would make the entire amount. If it’s just you, make 1/2 or freeze the cookies, as you will have more than you can eat by the end of the week.

Breakfast Cookies Recipe (Adapted from The Preppy Paleo)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup raw almond butter
  • 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup or raw honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1.5 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2-3 cups mix-ins of choice**

**Coconut, dark chocolate chips, oatmeal, pepitas, walnuts, etc. (I used coconut, chocolate chips, dark dried cherries and oatmeal.)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line your baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper and set aside.  In a large bowl, combine all of your ingredients. Drop in tablespoon sizes of batter onto baking sheet.  Bake for 12-15 minutes.  Let cool a few minutes and then place cookies on cooking rack.

French Toast Muffins – Paleo

Paleo French Toast Muffins

Lately, I have been viewing breakfast as the most difficult meal of the day eating Paleo. I’m not interested in eating eggs THAT much – no matter what the form. And egg whites are quite tasty, but again, it’s eggs. Paleo pancakes are a great change in flavor, but I know they are made primarily of eggs! And a smoothie on a chilly morning, as wonderful as they taste, makes me shiver  to even think of drinking it. Give me a cup of coffee or tea to start please!

Do you see where the problem is? I love love love baked goods in the morning and so much that if I don’t keep something like this in the house, I will cheat on forbidden foods. I attempted these delicious heavy muffins, just because the title alone made me crave french toast.

This recipe is not sweet, but it is sure wonderful in flavor and fills me up, (along with a piece of fruit to accompany it.) I tested it out on my kids and at first it was a no-go for them. Sure! They want sugar, but I am training their young minds to not have such a strong desire for sweets, so it’s a process. After day two, they did eventually decide that the muffins were tasty!

As this is not my recipe, I must pass the credit to a site – What I Gather.  Thank you Tarah for a great recipe!

No-Crust Quiche

No Crust Quiche

Happy 2014 everyone!!!  I pray that you all had a wonderful holiday season, filled full of quality family time, friendship, and many delicious foods (of course!)  Is it me, or did you find that last year was hard for so many near and dear to your heart?  Is that just because we’re getting older?  I certainly don’t FEEL like I am (most days.)  Catch that?

Life… so what plans have you for 2014?  While I am not a “resolution” kind of gal, I do have dreams I hope to see accomplished.  Though it occurred to me that if I actually want to see any dream become a reality, it needs to be a goal with plans attached, and no longer a wish, or thought.  What is my big dream?  It may be very “first world” but I want to give my family a second home at our favorite beach.  I’m not talking some high society house on the oceanfront… please.  Let’s be realistic.  Just a pretty little townhome or old school ranch in the Mount Pleasant area or our preferred choice – Sullivan’s Island would be a dream.  There it is again, that word!! Dream.  GOAL. GOAL. GOAL… I need to get it in my head.  Is this GOAL achievable in 2014 for us?  Nothing is impossible, however, I realize that things are on God’s timeline, and He may have a different plan for me.  So we’ll see?  I know it’s a lofty goal, and probably one that will take several years to make come true, but it’s now a goal, and no longer a pipe dream. 🙂

Well, enough about that.  I have plans, and 2014’s motto for me is ever so simple.  “Go get it!”  Said with a bit of a southern twang that I cannot possibly pronounce as perfectly as a close (native) Charlottean friend of mine.  Got a motto?  Ok, that is NOT food/health based?  Surprise me, cause I’d love to hear it.

Today’s breakfast was brought to you by… ME!  I did NOT copy or adapt anyone’s recipe, I just made this one on the fly, with a little background research on cook times.  Cheers to our health!

No-Crust Quiche

  • Chopped mushrooms
  • Chopped onions (1/4 cup or more depending on your taste)
  • 3-4 pieces of cooked bacon, chopped
  • 2 handfuls of fresh spinach, wilted – see directions
  • 4 organic eggs
  • 1 cup of milk
  • handful of mozzarella cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large fry pan, cook up bacon until soft and lightly browned (but not crispy).  Set bacon aside on a paper towel to drain.  Drain “most” of the bacon fat from the pan, reserving a little to cook up the onions and mushrooms.  While onions/mushrooms are heating up, grab a glass pie plate and spray with cooking spray or coconut oil.  When onions/mushrooms are complete, place in pie plate and spread around.  In the same fry pan, spray a little cooking oil (if pan is dry), and place in spinach until it lightly wilts.  Once wilted, lightly lay in spinach on top of onion mixture.  In a separate bowl, mix eggs and milk, and pour mixture into the pie plate (over all the other items.)  Sprinkle mozzarella cheese (or cheddar) on top of the mixture.  Place the pie into the oven for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Serve immediately.

*TIP – My hubby suggested topping it with a little salsa should you like a little heat.

Chocolate Avocado Muffins

Healthy cupcakes

If you want to get your kids to eat a better version of muffin, try this wonderful recipe out!  I have, and can say while they are not overly sweet, they are a great guilt-free treat!  I can satisfy my sweet tooth and not watch my waist line “pudge” out just by taking a bite.  This recipe falls in line with my road to healthier eating because of the ingredients chosen within.  Real food!  And to top it off there is no oil in this recipe – thank you avocado.

What a sneaky way to get your kids to eat well!  I tested this recipe out on the kids and they did not know that the avocado was in the recipe, but they did notice it had a taste to it that was different than if you were to make it with oil.  Also, this recipe was made with whole wheat flour, maple syrup and applesauce.  No sugar, egg or or AP flour please.

If you want to kick it up and make it vegan, by all means, this can be adjusted easily.

I hope you enjoy this recipe!  If you find it needing a little something, add some spices in the batch like cinnamon or all-spice to give it a kick.

Chocolate Avocado Muffins (adapted from Live.Learn.Love.Eat)

Ingredients: 

  • 1 medium avocado – ripe
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup organic 1% milk
  • 1/4 cup natural applesauce
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1-1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin pan with 12 paper liners.  In a food processor, blend the avocado, maple syrup, cocoa powder, milk applesauce and vanilla.  Stir in chocolate chips by hand to the batch.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and the salt.  Combine the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix.  Spoon in batter into paper liners 3/4 way.  Bake for 18-20 minutes.  Test with toothpick to see when completed.  The batch will be heavy and cake-like.

Makes 12.