Wednesday, November 19

Healthy Pumpkin Spice & Cranberry Muffins

You know when you go to your favorite restaurant and your faced with the major decision of ordering your safe delicious favorite or branching out and trying something new and potentially being disapointed? There is this local Mexican restaurant in my town and I'm pretty sure the last three times my husband and I have been there we have ordered the same thing as the times before. Despite my INTENT to try something new I always fall back on my favorite. Anyway, not related to Mexican food I found this tasty recipe for pumpkin chocolate chip muffins last year and pretty sure I have made them six times just in the last few weeks. If you have been following this blog than you know I love, love, love muffins! Although the original recipe was fairly healthy I wanted to make these truly guilt free and still taste and moist and delicious as the original recipe!

Once you try these you'll see why these have quickly become by favorite go-to muffin! Moist and fluffy bakery style muffins without all the sugar and bakery price tag.

Adapted from The Fit Housewife

Healthy Pumpkin Spice & Cranberry Muffins

Yield: 12 Muffins

2 scant cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
Dash of cardamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg at room temperature
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/3 cup kefir or plain yogurt
1/3 cup raw honey, melted
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup finely grated carrots
1 cup fresh cranberries, roughly chopped
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
Additional cinnamon to top muffins
Mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a muffin pan with liners or by lightly greasing the tins.

In a large bowl combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cardamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a separate bowl combine the egg, pumpkin puree, kefir, melted honey, oil and vanilla. Gently stir in the carrots and cranberries.

Gently fold in the dry ingredients to the wet and stir just until combined. Be careful not to over mix or your muffins will not rise properly.

Divide muffin batter evenly between tins and sprinkle with ground flax, cinnamon and chocolate chips(optional). Bake 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Saturday, November 15

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

As a long time lover of the classic chicken noodle soup the idea of turning the soup creamy was was new for me. Don't ask me why it took 20 something years to reach this "enlightened" stage. At this point I'm just trying not to regret the years I have lost with this new found delight! Fresh carrots, celery, onions, garlic, super tender chicken, my all time favorite homemade style egg noodles and whole milk create this fantastic fall soup. Homemade whole wheat bread makes this satisfying meal complete.

***My favorite and absolute easiest way for tender, fall off the bones chicken is with the crock pot. Pop a whole chicken in the crock pot, add 1/2 cup water, cover and set the crock pot for 6 hours. At this point lift your chicken out and fork off the meat. So tender, flavorful and easy!

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup
Serves 6

Adapted from Cooking Classy

Olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 celery stalks, diced
4 large carrots, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup cooking juices from chicken
1/4 teaspoon crushed bay leaves
1 teaspoon parsley
2 cups dry homemade style egg noodles
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1/2 cup water
2 cups whole milk
2 cups cooked chicken***

In a large stock pot, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat, add in onion, celery and carrots. Saute for 6 minutes than stir in garlic and cook, stirring for an additional minute. Pour in chicken broth and 1/2 cup of cooking juice from the chicken, Add spices and salt and pepper to taste.

Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta until al dente.

In a small saucepan melt butter and whisk in flour. Cook and stir for 1 minute then remove from heat and whisk in water until mixture is smooth and there are no lumps.

Pour the roux back into the soup and stir until smooth. Bring to boil than reduce heat to medium-low and stir in milk. Stir in noodles and simmer soup on low until ready to serve.

Friday, November 14

Chicken Parmesan & Cream Cheese Egg Rolls

There is something almost magical about egg roll wrappers and their uncanny ability to transform just about anything into a delicious pocket of food bliss. These chicken, Parmesan & cream cheese egg rolls are positively perfect! Okay, I've probably gone off the deep end just a bit but seriously these rolls may have just become my favorite party appetizer, that is if they can make it from the oven to the table without me sneaking the whole tray!

Chicken Parmesan & Cream Cheese Egg Rolls
Yield: 18 Rolls

Olive oil
1/2 cup button mushrooms, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup onions, minced
2 cups cooked chicken, finely diced
18 egg roll wrappers

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and lightly grease a large cookie sheet.

In a large skillet over medium heat, drizzle in about 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Add in the mushrooms, garlic and onion and saute for about 5 minutes or until veggies have softened. Reduce heat to low and stir in cream cheese, Parmesan cheese and chicken. Gently stir until cheeses have melted.

Fill each wrapper with 1 tablespoon of the chicken filling in the center of the wrapper and dampen edges with water. Beginning with one corner fold up towards the center then fold in the sides like an envelope and tightly roll. Place seam side down on prepared cookie sheet. Lightly brush tops with olive oil.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, flipping rolls halfway through. Rolls should be golden brown and crisp to the touch.

My husband and a friend of ours sampled these with a variety of sauces and the winners were:

1. Valentina Salsa Picante (Hot Sauce)
2. Stubbs Original BBQ Sauce
3. Kraft Sweet and Sour Sauce

***For an easy make ahead appetizer, freeze unbaked rolls between layers of wax paper. Simply pop into the oven when ready to serve. No need to thaw before baking. ***

In retrospect, I should have left these rolls in the oven a couple minutes longer, but I was fighting the daylight to get some good pictures before the sun went down :)

Wednesday, November 5

Creamy Fresh Pumpkin Soup

Last month we packed up the car and made the 12 hour road trip to spend some time with my husband's grandparents. It was lovely visit, from shopping, attempting to play poker (and losing miserably), pumpkin patches and apple orchards, local boutiques, yummy breakfast nooks and delicious coffee stands. On one of the evenings my husband's grandmother served us this absolutely gourmet meal. Roasted pork loin, herb quinoa and brown rice stuffing, sauteed apples with pears and bacon. Waldorf salad, dutch apple pie from a local shop and this incredible creamy pumpkin soup. Soooo goooood! Borrowing a few favorite elements from the soup she served us and adding some of my own I promise you this soup will quickly become a Fall favorite!

Creamy Fresh Pumpkin Soup
Inspired by Doris C. 
Serves 6

1 baking pumpkin (about 3 1/2 cups chopped pumpkin)
1 onion, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 golden delicious apple, chopped with peel
8 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried parsley
3/4 half n half

Peel and remove seeds and pulp from your baking pumpkin. Cut pumpkin into two inch pieces. In a large pot combine the pumpkin, onion, garlic, carrots, apple, chicken broth, pepper and parsley. Bring to boil then reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer for about 35-45 minutes or until vegetables are fork tender. Using a blender, blend soup until smooth and no lumps remain. Transfer soup back to your large pot and stir in half n half. Check for seasons and serve.

Optional Toppings
Roasted pistachios
Dried cranberries
Roasted pecans
Sour cream
Plain Greek yogurt

Monday, November 3

Healthy No-Bake Breakfast Bars

My husband and I love all things granola bars! While often labeled as a "healthy" snack most of breakfast energy bars you find in the grocery store are far from that! If you do happen to find a truly pure bar there's often a steep price with it. Not only can you save money by making your own bars but you'll love being able to control the ingredients! These no-bake bars are a breeze to whip up and pretty darn tasty too! Softer than a Clif Bar with a bit more crunch than a Larabar these are the perfect grab and go breakfast or snack.

Healthy No-Bake Breakfast Bars

Yield: 16-20 Bars

Olive or coconut oil
1 3/4 cup pitted dates
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon brown rice syrup
2/3 cup unsweetened nut butter
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup rice crisp cereal
1/3 cup raisins

Lightly oil a 9 x 13 inch pan with olive or coconut oil and set aside.

In a high power blender, pulse the dates and water until dates are finely minced. Add the rice syrup, nut butter, ground flax seeds and coconut flakes. Pulse until well mixed. Depending on the power of your blender you may want to stir in by hand your nut butter, ground flax and coconut flakes. Transfer mixture into a large bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients. At this point I put a little olive oil on my hands and mix everything together. Spread mixture evenly in prepared pan and firmly press. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Cut bars when chilled.

For easy convenience, individually wrap bars in plastic wrap and store in the fridge until ready to consume.

If you liked this recipe! Check out one of my other favorite snacks No-Bake Cranberry Coconut Clif Bars

Saturday, November 1

Overnight Whole Wheat Waffles with Cranberry Lemon Chutney


Saturday mornings are usually lazy days, sleeping in as long as little man lets us, a late brunch and eventually making our way to any errands or chores on the due list. I picked up a giant bag of fresh cranberries at Sam's Club yesterday and knew a cranberry chutney was somehow going to be incorporated in today's brunch. Waffles are always a favorite and I LOVE how amazing this new recipe turned out! Super light and soft in the middle and crisp on the outside no one will know you used all whole wheat flour and no sugar!

As for the chutney, so delicious and versatile. Fantastic with the waffles and I'm thinking would also make an incredible side for Thanksgiving turkey! Fresh cranberries, lemon zest, lemon juice and sweetened with honey, this chutney is ready in  an easy 10 minutes.

Overnight Whole Wheat Yeast Waffles with Cranberry Lemon Chutney

Yield: 16 Belgium Style Waffles

Waffles adapted from The Kitchn

1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
3/4 cup unsalted butter- melted and cooled to lukewarm
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups milk
6 cups whole wheat flour
4 large eggs (added the next day)
1 teaspoon baking soda (added the next day)

In a large mixing bowl combine the yeast with the water, stir and let sit for a few minutes. In a separate bowl mix the melted and cooled butter with the applesauce, salt and milk. Stir butter mixture into the yeast and water until smooth then stir in the flour. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature overnight.

On the next day beat eggs with baking soda and stir into the dough.

Cook waffles according to manufacturers instructions and serve with cranberry chutney.

Cranberry Chutney
1 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cranberries
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 lemon zested

Combine all ingredients together in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, cook stirring constantly for 1 minute, then reduce heat to medium-low simmer for about 7 minutes, stirring often until desired consistency is reached. Serve warm or chilled.