Posts tagged delicious

Salted Caramel and Chocolate Cookie Bars

Caramelitas232

Last night as I was getting ready for bed, I heard the sound of a snow shovel banging the pavement outside my house.  My first thought was, “I hate winter! Please spring hurry up”! In my neighborhood, people are really go getters when it comes to shoveling.  The last snow flake has barely fallen before people are out there clearing the walks and driveways.  On this particular day, it had only snowed a few inches so I knew that it would not be enough to warrant my neighbor getting out his snow blower and so kindly doing his walk and mine, but that it was too much to ignore, so I would have to shovel.  I can’t really complain too much though as like I said, we have the world’s best neighbors who have been so kind as to use their snow blower to clear our sidewalk and driveway all winter long.  I could never thank them enough, so I always bake them something special just to say thank you.

Just before I got into bed I decided to peek out my window and see which of my neighbors was so motivated that they were shoveling their walk at 10:00 at night.  As I looked out the window, I was shocked (and thrilled) to see that the teenage boy who lives next to me was actually out there shoveling MY driveways. OMG what a fantastic surprise.  I quickly put on my slippers and popped out the doors to say thank you, thank you, thank you to this sweet young man.  He just smiled and said “sure no problem” as if this is something all people do.  As I laid in bed thinking about that kind kid, I knew I had to bake him something really really delicious.  Salted Caramel and Chocolate bars were the perfect thing!

Let me start by saying that I think this may be one of the most delicious and most addictive things I have ever baked.  The best part is that it is actually a really simple recipe too.  People will love you for these and think that they were much harder to make then they actually were.

Here is what you need:

1 c. flour

1.5 c. oats (old-fashioned or quick oats)

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 c. (1 and a 1/2 sticks) melted butter

3/4 c. packed brown sugar

3/4 c. chocolate chips

The caramel decision:

Next you will have a decision to make.  For the caramel sauce, you could easily melt about 30-40 caramel squares in a pan with about 1/2 c. of heavy cream. Then add about 1/2 teaspoon good sea salt once the caramel is melted and smooth.  If you are feeling a bit more adventurous you could make a salted caramel sauce. I had made this a few days ago for another recipe so I had some in my fridge already.  I think for many people making caramel might sound a bit intimidating.  Well let me tell you, if I can do it, you can do it.  The only hard part was not getting distracted and walking away.  You just need to stay with it for the entire 5 minutes or so in order to keep it from burning.  This is such a delicious sauce that I really recommend that you make it.  If you follow the recipe here for salted caramel sauce it will make some extra. You will need about half for this recipe. Put the other half in the fridge in a jar and enjoy on everything (or just by the spoonful as I do).

For the caramel sauce you will need either:

30-40 caramel squares

1/2 c. heavy cream

1/2 tsp. sea salt

OR

1 recipe for Salted Caramel Sauce ( you will only need about half for this recipe)

Here is what you do:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the flour, oats, baking soda, salt and melted butter.  Spread half of the mixture on the bottom of and 8×8 baking dish and bake for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, remove from oven and evenly pour chocolate chips and caramel sauce over the crust.  Then spread the remaining dough mixture on top.  Then return to the oven and bake for about 15-20 more minutes or until he edges are bubbly and golden brown.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool before cutting and removing from the pan.

You may be thinking that this makes a pretty small batch as it is baked in an 8 x 8 pan. Well it does and at first I was tempted to double the recipe.  These are so delicious and irresistible that I was glad I did not double it.  We gave about half to the neighbor kid and then ate the rest at home. I literally could not control myself around these.  Every time I walked into the kitchen, I had just a little piece.  That little piece became half the recipe in no time.  I was glad when they were gone so I could go back to life and stop obsessing over these.  Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

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The Avocado Smoothie Your Kids Will Love

Avocado Smoothie

Last year, juicing was all the rage in my house. This year, we have moved in a similar but slightly different direction…smoothies!  Thanks to my friend Jen and her facebook posts about the delicious smoothies that she made with her family, we have started to make smoothies too.  Now don’t get me wrong, I still love juicing but making smoothies requires less cleaning in the end. The one thing about juicing that I hate is having to take apart and clean the juicer when we are done.

Making smoothies allows us to use most of the same ingredients, but creates a frozen concoction that my kids can’t resist.  We initially started with your typical type of smoothies. You know, bananas, yogurt, ice and orange juice.  This is delicious but not quite healthy enough if you ask me.  The cool thing about smoothies is that some frozen fruit can really hide the taste of all the healthy stuff.

There are 2 things that I always put into each smoothie.  These are wheat germ and flaxseed meal.  If you are not familiar with these two things I highly recommend that you check out these links and learn about all the awesome health benefits of wheat germ and flaxseed.   Just a word of warning though with regards to flaxseed.  It can have a mild laxative effect so you may not want to add too much at once. We add about a 1/4 of wheat germ and 2 tbsp. of flaxseed to each blender full of smoothies.

Health benefits of wheat germ

Health benefits of flaxseed meal

Now let’s move on to the recipe for what I have to call the tastiest avocado smoothie ever.  I love avocados and both of my kids did when they were toddlers, but now as preschoolers they have become much pickier eaters.  This is where the whole smoothie thing comes in.  This is a great way to sneak in the healthy stuff without getting any complaints or whining from the kids.

The ingredients are: (makes 4 smoothies)

2 bananas

1/2 ripe avocado

 6 oz. container greek yogurt (any fruit flavor you like)

1/4 c. wheat germ

2 tbsp. flaxseed meal

1.5 cups frozen mango

5-10 ice cubes depending on how thick you like it

1.5-2 c. orange juice

Blend all of these together until rich and creamy.  We swap out the type of fruit daily depending on what we have on hand.  I buy my frozen fruit at Trader Joe’s.  I think they have the best selection and the prices on frozen fruit can not be beat.

Once you try this you will be hooked and proud to give yourself and your family such a delicious snack. We make these smoothies almost everyday after school and I feel good knowing that they are getting lots of vitamins, protein from the greek yogurt, omega 3’s from the avocado and much more. Please let me know how it turns out if you try it.  Happy blending!

What’s your favorite ingredient to add to smoothies?  I would love to hear from you!

If you love avocados as much as I do, check out this recipe for Avocado Egg Salad!  This recipe was create by an awesome blogger who focuses on nutrition and fitness.  I can’t wait to try this!

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Nonfat Key Lime Frozen Yogurt

Key Lime Frozen Yogurt!

I know that I have posted a lot of frozen yogurt recipes recently, but how can I resist. It is just so yummy. This is the easiest frozen yogurt recipe yet and my daughter and I decided it was our favorite.  I wish I could take credit for this recipe, but I can’t.  I saw it a while back on a website (can’t remember which) and the recipe was so simple I remembered it after just reading it once.  That is my kind of recipe.  It is only three ingredients and took less than 5 minutes to whip up and get in the ice cream maker.

Here is what you need:

1 quart (32 oz.) of french vanilla nonfat yogurt

1/2 of a can of nonfat sweetened condensed milk

4 oz. of key lime juice

Here is what you do:

In a bowl mix the yogurt, key lime juice and sweetened condensed milk.  Once combined pour into your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your ice cream maker.  I told you this was easy. No straining the yogurt, nothing to cook or chill.  This was so easy and so incredibly delicious.  It tasted like a frozen slice of key lime pie.  You have to try this!

What is your favorite flavor of frozen yogurt?  Have you ever tried to make your own ice cream or frozen yogurt?

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Stuffed Fresh Zucchini

Every year, I plant a few things in our garden that are fun to grow, but that we don’t really “love” to eat.  Zucchini falls into this category.  The kids love growing zucchini because of the big beautiful flowers and the beautiful zucchini that seem to appear over night.  Last year, we tried making zucchini a million different ways to use it all up and most were pretty tasty.  My favorite though is stuffed zucchini.  This is simple, delicious and makes zucchini taste amazing.  Try this and you will be a zucchini lover.  I had this for dinner last night and it was awesome.  My kids even love it! I only made one zucchini last night because my hubby was working, but you could easily double or triple this recipe.

Here is what you need:

1 large zucchini

1 c. of your favorite tomato sauce

1/8 c. fresh chopped basil

1/2 c. panko bread crumbs

1/2 c. fresh grated Romano cheese (could use Parmesan instead)

olive oil for drizzling

salt and pepper to taste

Here is what you do:

First wash and dry your zucchini. Then cut it in half lengthwise.

 

Next use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and create a little valley for your stuffing to sit in. Drizzle a little olive oil over each half. This will help to keep the stuffing moist.

Next combine the sauce, bread crumbs, basil and cheese.

You may have to adjust the amount of bread crumbs and sauce.  You want it to be very moist with sauce. Otherwise, it will dry out when you bake it.  Once the filling is well combined, spoon it into each zucchini half.  Don’t forget to add salt and pepper to taste.  The cheese can be salty so taste it first.  Drizzle each with a little more olive oil.

Cover and baked in a 375 degree over for about 20 minutes. After about 20 minutes, remove foil and sprinkle with a little bit more grated cheese.  Return to oven and bake uncovered until the cheese is melted and the zucchini is fork tender.  Voila!  Baked stuffed zucchini!

Oops, I forgot to take a picture before we started eating! It was so yummy!

Tips;

I made this version meatless, but you can add ground sausage to the stuffing mixture and it is delicious. Just cook the sausage before adding to stuffing mixture.  The nice thing about this recipe is that it is just a starting off point.  There are a million different ways to make this and flavors to use.  This recipe will make a zucchini lover out of you. Thanks for reading and happy cooking.

Do you ever make stuffed veggies? What is your favorite way to make zucchini? I would love to hear from you.  

 

 

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Strawberry Upside Down Cake

Strawberries are on sale almost every week right now and in another few weeks they will be coming into season here in Connecticut. Seems like the perfect time to post a simple and delicious recipe for a strawberry upside down cake. There are only four ingredients, so it really could not be simpler.

Here is what you need:

2 cups of crushed strawberries (fresh are best)

1 package of strawberry jello

3.5 cups of mini marshmallows

1 box of vanilla cake mix (I have also used funfetti mix and the kids love it)

Here is what you do:

Crush the fresh strawberries either with a potato masher or I give them a quick pulse in the food processor.  Do NOT puree.  Just pulse a couple of times to break them down a little.  Lightly grease the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking pan with cooking spray.  Next place the strawberries in an even layer on the bottom of the pan.  Then sprinkle the strawberries with the jello. Next evenly sprinkle the marshmallows over the strawberries. Finally, prepare the cake mix as directed on the box and then pour the cake mixture over the strawberries. Bake in a 350 degree over for 40-50 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow the cake to cool for 20-30 minutes and then run a knife around the edge to loosen a bit.  Next turn the cake out onto your serving dish and voila!  A delicious and simple strawberry upside down cake.  Get ready to make another because this always goes quickly.

I got this recipe many years ago and it is my go to when I need a quick and simple summer dessert.  You could make different variations of this cake with different fruit or different cake mix varieties.  I am planning to try a peach cake when peaches come into season. Cake mix is so versatile and something I alway keep in the house because it can be used alone or as a part of many wonderful desserts.

What is your favorite cake mix recipe?  I would love to hear your thoughts?

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Simple,Delicious and Healthy Chicken Pot Pie

Tonight this is what we will be having for dinner.  This is one of the best and simplest pot pie recipes I have tried.  I am not a huge fan of the pot pie recipes that use cream of chicken soup, so this is not one of those.  The nice thing about this recipe is that it is assembled from many already prepared foods.  Ok so here is what you will need:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped (or use the frozen peas and carrots mix)
  • 2/3 cup frozen peas
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup light cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 cups chopped rotisserie chicken
  • 1 can refrigerated flaky-style biscuits
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon water

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 350

2. Melt the butter in a skillet and then cook the celery and onion until tender.

3. Next stir in the peas, carrots, parsley, and flour and whick until the flour is well combined and coats the veggies. This takes about 5 minutes.

4. Next add the chicken broth and cream.

5. Next add 3 cups of cooked chicken. You could certainly cook off some chicken breasts, but I prefer to use a precooked rotisserie chicken. Great time saver!

6. Add salt and pepper to taste

7. Transfer mixture into a 2 quart baking dish and top with biscuits.

8. Finally, mix egg yolk with water and brush over top of biscuits.

9. Bake for 20-25 minutes until it is golden and bubbling.

Tips:

Healthier modifications: I usually use reduced fat biscuits and it cuts down on a lot of the calories and fat and I think it is just as good.  Light butter is also a great substitution here if you want to make it a  healthier. Also, I often use whole milk instead of cream and it is just as good. I would not recommend anything with less fat than whole milk though. People never even know when I make the healthier version.  It is always a hit!

This can be made the morning of or day before and kept in the fridge.  Just don’t do the egg wash until you are ready to put it into the oven.  You will also need to increase the cooking time to 40-50 minutes if you are starting with it cold.  If the biscuits start to brown before it is heated through, cover with foil for the rest of the baking time.

Trust me when I tell you that you have to try this.  I got this recipe many years ago and have been making modifications to it over time. It is now the perfect simple and delicious pot pie recipe

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Best Ever Healthy Banana Blueberry Muffins

In my family, we love muffins.  By that I mean that we make them 2-3 times a week and fight over the last ones.  Avery would eat nothing but muffins if left to her own devices, so it is very important that our muffins are not only tasty, but healthy.  One of the things that makes these the best ever muffins is that they are packed with delicious flavor and are full of healthy ingredients.  For starters there is no white flour in this recipe.  The result is that these taste more like muffins than cake.  Now don’t get me wrong, I like those insanely sweet cake like muffins, but they are just not healthy enough for everyday consumption.  Trust me that once you try these you will be hooked.

Here is what you need:

1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour

3/4 c. sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

2 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/3 c. canola or light tasting olive oil (see link at bottom of article)

1 egg

1/2 c. applesauce (this is exactly how much is in one of those kid size applesauce cups)

1 mashed over ripe banana

1/4 c. water

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

2 tbsp. ground flaxseed meal (optional)

2 c. blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Here’s what you do:

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and flaxseed meal.  In another bowl combine the egg, applesauce, mashed banana, water, milk, vanilla and oil.  Mix the wet ingredients until they are well combined.  Then add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and combine.  Once it is well mixed carefully fold in the blueberries.  Spoon mixture into 12 muffin cups. I fill the muffin cups almost all the way up because we like big muffins and use paper muffin cups to make the cleanup easier.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20-22 minutes or until they are golden brown.

Now I know this seems like a lot of ingredients, but most of them I am sure you already have in your home.  For the oil, you could substitute vegetable oil, but using a canola oil blend or light tasting olive oil really kicks up the healthiness of these muffins. The ground flaxseed meal is also optional, but adds great health benefits as well as helps keep the muffins moist.  Flaxseed meal is available at all major grocery stores. Keep it in your freezer so it will last longer. Trust me that once you try these you will be hooked.  Another great thing about these muffins is that they freeze well. You could store them in a ziploc bag in your freezer and just take out one at a time.  Happy baking!

Health Benefits of Canola and Olive Oil

 

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