Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Apple Oatmeal Pancakes

I love a good pancake recipe. This one is quick, simple, and healthy. Perfect for a Sunday morning.  The ingredients are all good for you and you probably already have most of them in your pantry.
The pancakes are fluffy and airy. We drizzled them with a little bit of light maple syrup and they were delicious! The applesauce gives is just the right amount of sweetness without adding too much sugar.
Apple Oatmeal Pancakes
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oats (quick or old-fashioned)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar (more or less depending on the sweetness of your applesauce)
1/2 cup applesauce
2 egg whites
1 tbsp vegetable oil 

In a large bowl, mix together the flours, oats, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.

Add all remaining ingredients and mix well. Let the batter set at least 5 minutes to soften the oats.

Heat a frying pan or griddle to medium-high heat. Coat generously with cooking spray.

Dollop the batter onto the hot surface in 1/4 cup amounts per pancake.

When the edges of the pancakes appear dry and bubbles are forming on the surface, flip the pancakes and cook the other side until golden brown.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Portobello and Sun Dried Tomato Pasta Salad

I love going to Whole Foods. I swear I could walk around forever...meandering through every aisle. The last time we where there we bought this amazing pasta salad with sauteed mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes. It was SO good. Now, months later, I am determined to make my own version!
This pasta dish is light, yet satisfying. The liquid from the cooked portobello mushrooms adds a rich flavor to the pasta and goes well with the sun dried tomatoes.
The words “spicy” and “garlicky” came to mind the first time I ate this pasta. Infusing the olive oil with red pepper flakes and garlic makes the sauce amazing!
Portobello Pasta Salad
Recipe adapted from Whole Foods
1 lb pasta (I used shells, you could also use bowtie)
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes
1 cup boiling water
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, roasted and roughly chopped
2 large portobello mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup minced parsley
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, cook for 8-10 minutes, until it is al dente.

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over high heat and saute the red pepper flakes and garlic until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and salt and continue to saute until tender, 5-7 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta with the sun dried tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms, parsley, and goat cheese. Drizzle with additional olive oil.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Kit Kat Cheesecake Bars

Kit Kat plus cheesecake??? Um, yes please!! I came across these delicious Kit Kat
Cheescake Bars the other day and wanted to share this great recipe.
You already know I'm a huge fan of cheesecake bars...but this includes one of my absolute favorite candy bars.
Make these. You will love them. I promise.

Kit Kat Cheesecake Bars
Recipe adapted from Bakers Royale
1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup sugar
8 tablespoons of butter

Cheesecake layer
12 oz fat free cream cheese
1 tbsp vanilla
1/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
6 Kit Kat packages

Chocolate layer
10oz. chocolate
8 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x8 pan with foil.
To make crust
Place graham cracker crust and sugar in a bowl and toss to combine. Add in melted butter and mix to combine. Press mixture onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake for 7-10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool while making cheesecake portion.

To make cheesecake
Place all ingredients in a bowl and beat until fully combined and smooth; set aside. Place Kit Kat bars on top of crust. Pour cheesecake mixture over Kit Kat bars and bake for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

To make chocolate layer
Place chocolate and butter in a heat proof bowl over (not on) simmering water, gently stir until chocolate is melted and butter is fully combined. Pour chocolate over baked cheesecake. Cool for at least 2 hours before serving.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Whole Wheat Banana Bread

I've had a bunch of brown bananas laying around for the past few days and I finally used them! There is nothing better than a freshly baked loaf of banana bread. And plus your house will smell amazing. If you're a fan of bananas, you might want to also check out this Peanut Butter Banana Bread.
I saw this recipe on Two Peas and Their Pod and was intrigued by the roasted bananas. The roasting process is supposed to bring out the best banana flavor...and boy did it. It's super easy to roast them...just throw them in the oven for 15 minutes. Easy as that!
Smear some Nutella onto a thick warm slice and this is the perfect breakfast on a Saturday morning. Yumm!
Whole Wheat Banana Bread
3 large ripe-to-over-ripe bananas
1 large egg
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon  salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 3/4 cups whole-wheat flour

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9×5-inch loaf pan. 
  • Place bananas on a baking sheet and roast, with peels on, for 15-20 minutes. They will darken and blister. Set aside to cool.
  • Remove the roasted bananas from the peels. In the bottom of a large bowl, mash cooled bananas with a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon until a few tiny lumps remain. 
  • Whisk in egg, oil, brown sugar, and vanilla extract. Sprinkle baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg over mixture and stir until combined. Stir in flour until just combined.
  • Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake until a tester comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes. 
  • Cool loaf in pan on rack.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Almond Joy Bars

I love coconut. Most people don't like it, but I am a huge fan. Almond Joy candy bars are one of my favorites. These bars are a spin on the classic and it definitely has all the flavors of an Almond Joy.
You start with a buttery crust, topped with sweet and rich coconut. And you can't forget the chocolate! A smooth layer of semi-sweet chocolate sets it off. The resulting combination is a rich and delicious treat!
The original is made for a 9x13 pan, but since the bars are so decadent, I decided to cut the recipe in half and it was perfect for an 8x8 inch pan.

Almond Joy Bars
Recipe adapted from Glorious Treats
1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups flour
1/2 -14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 -14 oz bag sweetened, shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cups sliced almonds
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate

Toast the almonds by spreading them in a thin layer on a baking sheet and baking at 375 degrees for 5-7 minutes. Keep a close eye on them, so they don't over bake. They should be a light golden brown.

Line an 8x8 inch baking pan with foil that hangs over the edge. Spray the foil with a light layer of cooking spray.

Make the crust
With a mixer, or food processor, blend the butter and sugar until smooth and fully combined. Add flour and salt, and blend lightly until almost incorporated. Add 1 cup of cooled, toasted almonds, and blend until just combined.
Press crust into the bottom of the prepared pan.
Bake 5-6 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees.

Make the coconut filling
In a bowl, mix the sweetened condensed milk, coconut and vanilla. Spoon the mixture onto the crust, spreading gently.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the coconut is a nice golden brown.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave. Use short intervals of 30 seconds or so, stirring between intervals, and removing from microwave when the chocolate is almost, but not fully melted. Stir until fully melted.

Spread the melted chocolate over the baked coconut bars. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup toasted almonds on top chocolate.

Place coconut bars in the refrigerator for about 1 hour, until chocolate has hardened.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

from miss to mrs.

It's official!! Our wedding was absolutely amazing! We just received our wedding photos and I wish I could relive the entire day all over again! It was an exhausting day, to say the least. We had two ceremonies reflecting both of our cultures and religions. I am so in love with every picture...our photographers were awesome! If you happen to live in the Atlanta area, I would highly recommend Fixed Focal Photography. :)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Turtle Brownies

There's really nothing better than chocolate and caramel. They go hand in hand. These turtle brownies are oh so chocolatey, super ooey and gooey, and sooo good! 
Sweet caramel and salty pecans are sandwiched between a dense and rich chocolate brownie. 
I cut these into pretty small squares because they are pretty rich.  Just a few bites satisfies my chocolate fix...for now at least!
Turtle Brownies
1 box (18.5 Ounce) Devil's Food Cake Mix
1 cup Finely Chopped Pecans
1/2 cup Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/2 cup Butter, Melted
1 egg
45 whole Caramels, Unwrapped
1/3 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix together cake mix, egg, and melted butter. Stir together until totally combined. Mixture will be very thick.

Press half the mixture into a well-greased 9 x 9 inch square baking pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and set aside.

In a heatproof bowl melt caramels with 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk. When melted and combined, pour over brownie base. Sprinkle chocolate chips and chopped pecans as evenly as you can over the caramel.

Turn out remaining brownie dough on work surface. Use your hands to press it into a large square a little smaller than the pan. Use a spatula to remove it from the surface, then set it on top of the caramel and chocolate chips. Slowly drizzle the remaining 1/4 cup of sweetened condensed milk over the entire brownie layer.

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for several hours. Cut into bars and carefully remove from the pan.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Baked Eggplant Parmesan with Pesto Spaghetti

This is one of my favorite ways to eat eggplant. Traditionally eggplant Parmesan is breaded and fried before baking. I made this lighter by roasting the eggplant in the oven instead. 
I stacked the eggplant slices with layers of goat cheese, mozzarella cheese, and freshly torn basil. 
I filled a shallow baking dish with a thin layer of homemade tomato sauce and baked everything until the cheese was slightly melted and had a nice golden crust on top. 
The eggplant and goat cheese are the perfect pair! If you're looking for an easy and delicious Italian meal...this is it!

Baked Eggplant Parmesan
Olive oil, for baking sheets
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp ground paprika
3/4 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus 2 tablespoons for topping
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 large eggplants, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
6 cups store-bought tomato sauce or homemade
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella 
1 cup crumbled goat cheese 
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves

Pesto Spaghetti
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup fat-free ricotta cheese
2 tbsp. reduced-fat Parmesan-style grated topping
2 tbsp. pine nuts
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1/4 tsp. salt, or more to taste
1/4 tsp. black pepper, or more to taste
1 lb cooked angel hair pasta

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush 2 baking sheets with oil; set aside. In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and paprika. In another bowl, combine breadcrumbs, 3/4 cup Parmesan, oregano, and basil; season with salt and pepper.
  2. Dip eggplant slices in egg mixture, letting excess drip off, then dredge in breadcrumb mixture, coating well; place on baking sheets. Bake until golden brown on bottom, 20 to 25 minutes. Turn slices; continue baking until browned on other side, 20 to 25 minutes more. Remove from oven; raise oven heat to 400 degrees.
  3. Spread 1/2 cup sauce in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Arrange half the eggplant in dish; cover with mozzarella, goat cheese, and basil. Repeat with remaining eggplant, sauce, and cheeses; sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Bake until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted, 15 to 20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. 
  4. Combine all ingredients for pesto in a food processor until smooth. Toss with pasta.