Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Bread, breakfast, Brunch, Food, lunch box

Triple Berry and Oat Muffins

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Lately, I have been sending quite a few care packages to the Purdue University campus as my three children have all decided to become Boilermakers while they work to complete their undergraduate degrees. I have been dehydrating fresh fruit and baking up a storm to send cookies, muffins, and snacks by way of UPS.
Last week, I sent these muffins to my daughters (my son is not a fan). I received rave reviews from both.
The muffins are filled with triple berry goodness. The oat topping makes for a moist and tasty center with a sweet and crunchy finish. …Absolutely delicious!

Triple Berry and Oat Muffins

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/4 pounds fresh berries, sliced (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries)

Topping
1/4 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line with paper liners, two muffin pans. Mix flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil, eggs, milk, and extract; stir into flour mixture until just moistened. Carefully fold in berries. Scoop into prepared muffin pans. Mix together topping ingredients and sprinkle over the muffins.
Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Bread, breakfast, Brunch, Food, Kids in the Kitchen, lunch box

Summer Harvest Zucchini Quick Bread

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This week my cell phone chirped as I sat in my office finishing up some paperwork. It was M. She called to report that we were nearly out of all-purpose flour and she wanted to make zucchini bread. A co-worker had brought in a few beautiful zucchini and laid them on the lunch table announcing she had harvested way too many zucchini and we should take whatever we might use. Naturally, I snatched up the largest I could find as I love to bake zucchini bread and freeze it through the winter months.
Reporting back to M, I asked her to look through my file of old recipes kept in the kitchen desk, to find a quick bread recipe that would use only the ingredients she had on hand. To my delight, when I returned home from work, M had made oodles of muffins and quick breads to share with the family. She had used up most of the overly ripe fruit and veggies that she found on the counter top and in the crisper drawer. M’s a resourceful child and it makes her happy to turn to baking to relax and enjoy time on her hands for the summer. It won’t be long before the school bell rings and the race begins all over again. I’m glad she has found a relaxing hobby as she follows in her mother’s footsteps.

Summer Harvest Zucchini Quick Bread

3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/4 cup wheat germ ( with extra for topping)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a (9x5x2 3/4″) loaf pan. In a large bowl, combine eggs, oil, sugars, zucchini, and vanilla. Mix well. Add flours, baking powder, soda, salt, wheat germ, and cinnamon; stir to combine. Stir in nuts. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle a teaspoon of wheat germ over the batter.
Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Posted in Cooking In Disney World, Dinner, Food, lunch box, Main Dish, Skillet Meal

Teriyaki Lo Mein Noodles and Veggies

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For years, we’ve been visiting Disney’s Polynesian Resort and O’Hana’s Restaurant for their well attended dinner show. This family-friendly dinner event includes generous helpings of Polynesian inspired delicacies with a bit of entertainment provided by a ukulele playing woman (or gentleman) dressed in island themed clothing and singing (Disney-style) Polynesian tunes. All the while, the friendly waitstaff scurries around the dining tables offering guests various grilled meats, sweet bread and family-style fixings. Children are invited to come to the center of the dining room floor to play games and celebrate special occasions. It’s a festive evening and we always look forward to our annual visit.
The sweet and savory aroma that fills the dining hall just can’t be beat as Ohana’s food is absolutely fabulous. Pot stickers, Hawaiian sweet bread, a scrumptious salad, chicken wings, bread pudding and a variety of grilled meats are delivered to the table with gusto and are unlimited. One of our favorite dishes is prepared with low mein noodles, pineapple teriyaki sauce and veggies. I’ve tried to duplicate the flavor of this dish at home and in a simplistic way. This recipe is a close second to the original and eating it brings back fond memories of our time spent at Disney over the years. We look forward to celebrating our vacation with the staff at Ohana’s for years to come.

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Teriyaki Lo Mein Noodles and Veggies

1/2 package of Low Mein Noodles
1 (9oz.) package frozen teriyaki vegetables
1/2 cup Lawry’s Pineapple Teriyaki Marinade
1/4 cup prepared sweet and sour sauce

In a medium saucepan, prepare noodles according to package directions. Drain and return to saucepan. Microwave vegetables according to package directions. Mix in remaining ingredients and heat thoroughly. Serve piping hot.

Posted in appetizers/snacks, Food, Kids in the Kitchen, lunch box

Simply Made Veggie-Style California Roll

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Our local grocer has a wonderful sushi station set up in the produce section of the store. Each time I visit the store, I load up my cart with a few packages of veggie style California Roll. M loves to take it to school in her bento box. She eats it for lunch or saves it for her after-school snack, just before track practice. Lately, my long work hours have kept me from visiting the market during the sushi making hours. It seems the hours for the station are limited and once the station is closed, the remaining sushi is often removed from the refrigerator case well before I arrive.
M and I were out shopping yesterday, and once again, the sushi station was closed. As M passed by the station with a disappointed look on her face, she spied a display that included all of the supplies needed to make our own California Roll recipe. We quickly gathered up all the supplies and headed home to begin our sushi making project. On a recent visit to Disney, we had purchased a bamboo sushi rolling sheet so we were excited to finally put it to use. We carefully read the directions for making the rice, although, we eliminated the addiction of sugar and salt. We then proceeded to assemble the California roll. Wow, what a simple project…and so delicious! I hope you have a chance to try the recipe on your own. Add any combination of fresh veggies you prefer…cucumber or jicama might be nice. This is really a fun family cooking project.

Simply Made Veggie California Roll

2 cups Premium Grade Nishiki Sushi Rice, cooked according to package directions
1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
5 sheets nori (dry seaweed)
1 avocado, sliced thinly,
3 stalked celery, cut julianne style, about the length of the nori sheet
3 carrots, peeled and cut julianne style, about the length of the nori sheet

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Transfer cooked rice to a bowl and carefully cut in rice vinegar using a rice paddle or wooden spoon. Allow to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Place a sheet of nori, on the rolling mat.

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Place 2 to 3 pieces of each of the avocado slices, celery, and carrots on top of the nori in one layer.

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Using the mat as a guide, carefully roll the California roll into a tight log. Remove the rolling mat.

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With a sharp wet knife, cut roll into 6 even pieces. Repeat with remaining sheets of nori and filling. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.

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Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Bread, lunch box

Cindy’s Sweet Potato Morning Glory Muffins

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This past weekend, as I sat on the bleachers watching the boy’s sectional swim meet, my dear friend, Cindy asked if I had taken the time to make her Sweet Potato Morning Glory Muffins. I thought about it for a minute and said I wasn’t even sure that she gave me the recipe. She said that I had “liked” it on her Facebook page so I must have seen the recipe. Well, shortly after I arrived home, I asked M if she might be interested in making the muffins for her lunchbox this week. She agreed that the recipe sounded great. Last night, after her distance track practice, M threw together the ingredients for these delicious muffins. Wow, they are incredibly delicious! We packed them in an air-tight container so that, hopefully, she will have them for the rest of the school week. Thanks, Cindy, for a fabulous recipe! It’s a keeper!

Cindy’s Sweet Potato Morning Glory Muffins

3/4 cup almond flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup mashed sweet potato
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup honey
1/8 cup shredded carrot

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine almond flour, cinnamon, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl; mix well. Add remaining ingredients and mix just until thoroughly blended.
Coat muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray (or use paper liners) and divide batter among 18 mini muffin cups.
Bake for 11- 13 minutes or until muffins are cooked all the way through.
Allow to cool before serving.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Bread, breakfast, Food, lunch box

Moist and Flavorful Pumpkin Bread/Muffins

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When I was first married, I used to spend my Saturday mornings running to local garage sales looking for various pieces of furniture, dishes, baking pans, etc., to fill our new home. My husband worked his share of Saturday hours, so I would plan to visit what I felt were the best sales in our historic Chicago neighborhood while he was away. Browsing through the garage sale items, I loved looking for unique old baking pans and muffin trays. Many had unusual patterns or were made of great, durable materials. They had a quality that was unmatched when comparing current brands on the market. Kitchen utensils from years gone by also caught my attention. Depression glassware and Fiestaware were my favorites and I collected every piece I could find.
My garage sale days are over now but when all was said and done, over the years I had collected, among other things, nearly twenty loaf pans for baking quick breads, meatloaf, Irish soda bread, and yeast breads.
You may wonder how it is that I have use for such an amount of baking pans. Well, I like to bake things in large quantities. I often bake several batches of cookies, muffins or loaves of bread so that I can do it once, wrap it, freeze it, and have a supply on hand for a good while.
This recipe for pumpkin bread freezes just perfectly. While the loaf is moist and flavorful fresh out of the oven, it seems even better after it is frozen and thawed from the freezer. I like to switch up the dried fruit in the loaf, often using whatever is on hand. Great substitutes include raisins, currants, diced pineapple or finely chopped apples. Mix up the nuts too, if you’d like, chopped pecans work great in this recipe.
If you prefer muffins, scoop batter into paper lined mini-muffin pans and sprinkle with wheat germ. Bake 12-14 minutes at 350 degrees.

Moist and Flavorful Pumpkin Bread

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1 cup canola oil
2/3 cup water
3 cups sugar
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup dried dates, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped (optional)
2 tablespoons wheat germ

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray with cooking spray, 2-9X5″ loaf pans. In a large bowl, combine wet ingredients, add sugar and mix until well blended. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger in a separate bowl. Stir in nuts and dried fruit. Pour into the pumpkin mixture; mix until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans. Sprinkle wheat germ evenly over batter. Bake for 50-55 minutes in the preheated oven, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

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Posted in appetizers/snacks, breakfast, Kids in the Kitchen, lunch box, No-Bake

Everyday Granola Bars

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During the course of a week, I make several batches of granola bars for my family. There are a few recipes that I use quite frequently and for varying purpose. Take for instance, the Grunt Bars I make when I am looking to boost protein levels, I make Curley Power Bars when I am wanting to provide a recovery bar after a long meet or practice. This recipe for Everyday Granola Bars is one that I usually pack into lunch boxes or have waiting on the counter when kids arrive home from school hungry and looking for something to eat.
I’m a firm believer that providing the family with healthy choices will encourage children to make better food choices for life. I try to stock the fridge and pantry with lots of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and yogurt so that when kids come home famished, they can quickly grab something healthy to tide them over until supper time.
This recipe is easy to adapt to satisfy your family’s preference. Add dried cranberries or raisins, almonds, pecans or sunflower seeds. We just adore dried apricots in this recipe as well. Change things up as you like. Enjoy!

Everyday Granola Bars

3 cups old fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups walnuts, chopped
1 cup dates, chopped
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Coat an 11X7″ baking pan with cooking spray, set aside. Place oats, almonds and dates in a medium bowl; mix thoroughly, set aside. In a small saucepan, over medium-low heat, warm honey and peanut butter; stir until smooth, creamy and pourable. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over oats, dates, and nuts, stir to coat completely.
Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish. Evenly pat down mixture to completely fill the pan. Cover and let stand until set; about 30 minutes. Cut into bars. For added freshness, wrap each bar individually in plastic wrap and store in air-tight container.

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Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Chocolate, Desserts, Food, Gifts, Homemade Mixes, Kids in the Kitchen, lunch box

Scrumptious 1,2,3 Cake

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This little cake is so light and sweet it’s like eating chocolate cotton candy!
It’s called the (1) One – (2) Two – (3) Three Cake and it’s really delicious. You won’t believe that there are only two ingredients involved here!

This past Christmas, my daughter arrived home from college for her holiday break. Her suitcase was filled with lots of dirty clothes, books to sell after a long semester, and a beautiful jar filled with a taupe colored, powdery mix; a recipe card attached. The jar was wrapped in a ball of crinkled holiday, tissue paper. In the rush of unpacking and catching up, the jar was put aside. A few hours later, I noticed the jar on the kitchen counter. The container was quite beautiful and I was intrigued by the contents so I carefully read the attached index card.

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Well, I couldn’t resist the temptation. I quickly scooped out 3 tablespoons of the mix and added 2 tablespoons of water. I swirled it around in a heat-safe mug and popped it in the microwave. As I looked through the viewing glass, the mix immediately began to rise and puff up. It was like magic, the speed at which it rose. I patiently waited the full minute as the kitchen began to smell like a baker’s wonderland. When the bell went off, I retrieved my creation and quickly ran to tell everyone what had transpired. We all grabbed a spoon and tested the sweet chocolatey mound. Ohhhh, it was so delicious! Now, I really try to stay away from sugar so I took the tiniest of bites but I was delighted that it turned out so spectacular. And, oh, it was so simple!

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So here’s what you do…

(1) One – (2)Two – (3) Three Cake

1 package chocolate cake mix
1 package angel food cake mix

In a large bowl, combine dry cake mix packages; mix well. Carefully pour into an airtight container.

Attach an index card to the jar with baking instructions:

Mix, in a microwave safe cup, 3 tablespoons mix with 2 tablespoons water. Pop it in the microwave for 1 minute. 3,2,1… Enjoy!

Don’t limit yourself… Use any flavor cake mix you like. Add chocolate chips or top with whipped topping and fruit. This would be a great recipe to make with young children. I think you’ll really enjoy this…what fun!

Posted in appetizers/snacks, Baked goods, Baking, Chocolate, Desserts, Food, Gifts, holidays, lunch box

Mini Brownie Bites

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It’s that time of year…holiday parties, friendly gift giving, festive decorations and enjoying time with family. One of our favorite ways to spend time together seems to revolve around preparing and sharing cherished family recipes.
We have a few favorite cookie and quick bread recipes that we always bake when the holidays roll around…some are time consuming recipes while others can be whipped up in a jiffy.
This recipe for Mini Brownie Bites is a quickie. These flavorful gems are a mouthful of rich, chocolatey goodness and they only take minutes to prepare. Be warned that the recipe yields only a dozen or so bites. You can bake them along with your favorite cookie selection to be added to the holiday dessert tray. I often pack them in colorful tins to give as teacher gifts. They travel well and seem to get more moist and delicious a day or two after baking. Be sure to store them in an air-tight container until just before serving.

Mini Brownie Bites

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips, divided
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional

In a microwave, melt 1/4 cup of chocolate chips and butter; stir until smooth.
Cool slightly. In a small bowl, beat egg and sugar. Stir in vanilla and chocolate mixture. Gradually add flour; fold in remaining chocolate chips and optional walnuts.
Use a small ice cream scoop to fill mini paper or silicone-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-12 minutes (depending on how dry or moist you prefer the brownie center) or until tops begin to crack. Cool completely before removing from pan to a wire rack.

Posted in appetizers/snacks, Baked goods, Baking, Bread, Brunch, Food, holidays, lunch box

Cranberry Orange and Almond Biscotti

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Boy, is it cold outside. As I bundle up my kids for their 5:30 am swim practice, I think about how dedicated they are to their sport. I know it’s my job to supply nutritious and comforting meals to provide fuel for the day and I do my best to get the job done. However, there is one indulgence that M requests for her morning snack at school… Cranberry Orange and Almond Biscotti with a cup of tea is her favorite cold weather snack.

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A couple of weeks ago, there was a decent coupon for Celestial Seasonings Tea. I had 5 coupons so I bought five of their holiday selection flavors for roughly 79 cents a piece. M was thrilled!

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During M’s Saturday morning swim practice, I whipped up a batch of her favorite biscotti and brewed her a cup of tea. When she arrived home, she was so happy!

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Recently, I purchased M a wonderful thermos to take to school with her. So every morning, I brew her a cup of tea, fill up her thermos, and pack a biscotti cookie in her lunch box so that she can enjoy her snack during an early morning break. It’s a great way to warm her tummy during the cold (freezing cold) Midwest winter days.

Cranberry Orange and Almond Biscotti

2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl, stir together sugar, oil, orange peel, vanilla extract, almond extract, and eggs. Stir in remaining ingredients.
Place dough on lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth. On two cookie sheets, shape half of dough at a time into two 10×3-inch rectangles. Press a handful of almonds into the top of each dough band.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on cookie sheets for about 15 minutes. Carefully cut rectangle crosswise into 1/2-inch slices. Turn slices cut sides down on cookie sheet.
Bake about 15 minutes longer, turning once half way through, until crisp and light brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.