• Whole Wheat Banana Muffins with Maple Frosting

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    These muffins are beyond delicious.  They are moist and flavorful and you would never know that they are healthyish!

    Think banana bread meets maple frosting.

    Think muffin meets cupcake.

    Think delicious.

    I combined two different recipes to create these muffins.

    Muffin recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod.  Frosting Recipe from Crazy for Crust.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 c. whole-wheat flour
    • 1 tsp. baking powder
    • 1 tsp. baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
    • 4 large ripe bananas (about 1 3/4 c. mashed)
    • 1 c. packed brown sugar
    • 1/4 c. coconut oil, melted and cooled
    • 1 large egg
    • 1/2 c. plain Greek yogurt
    • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
    • Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling on muffins before baking, optional

    Frosting Ingredients:

    • 3 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
    • 1 c. powdered sugar
    • 1/2 tsp. maple extract
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
    • Milk or heavy whipping cream

    Directions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 350*F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners, spray with cooking spray, and set aside.
    2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
    3. Peel the bananas and mash with a fork. Place the mashed bananas in a large bowl. Add the brown sugar, coconut oil, egg, Greek yogurt, and vanilla extract. Stir until well combined. Slowly stir in the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
    4. Fill muffin liners three-quarters full. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool.
    5. For the frosting: whisk melted butter and powdered sugar. Add extracts, whisk until smooth. Add milk or heavy whipping cream (to desired consistency…start with just a small amount (1-2 tsp.) at a time and add more, if necessary), whisk until smooth. Immediately frost completely cooled muffins.

    Whole Wheat Banana Muffins with Maple Frosting:
    5star

  • Banana Nutella Swirl Cake with Nutella Frosting

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    Bananas and Nutella.

    Need I say more?

    It’s a great use for overripe bananas, and this cake is well, think banana bread meets Nutella….perfection!

    This cake is so good.  Steve said “I’d serve this to company”.

    Recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 c. all-purpose Gold Medal flour
    • 1 tsp. baking soda
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 1/2 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 c. vanilla Greek yogurt
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
    • 3 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed (to equal 1 c.)
    • 1/2 c. Nutella

    For the Nutella Frosting:

    • 1/2 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 1 c. Nutella
    • 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
    • 2-3 TBSP milk
    • 1/2 tsp. hazelnut (or vanilla) extract, optional

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease a 9×13 pan and set aside.
    2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
    3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the yogurt and vanilla extract. Mix in the mashed bananas.
    4. Gradually add the dry ingredients and mix until flour disappears. Spread cake batter evenly into the prepared pan. Swirl the Nutella into the cake using a knife of toothpick.
    5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes (mine took 35-40 minutes, so keep checking), or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow cake to cool completely.
    6. While the cake is cooling, make the Nutella frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and Nutella on high until smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time. Beat on high until powdered sugar is incorporated. Add the milk and hazelnut extract, if using. Beat until frosting is smooth and desired consistency. If you need to add more milk, add a little bit at a time.
    7. Frost the cake with Nutella frosting. Cut into squares and serve.

    Banana Nutella Swirl Cake with Nutella Frosting:
    5star

  • Lemon Chicken Pasta with Broccoli

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    This dish is a one skillet dish…yes even the pasta!  It is extremely flavorful, and we loved the bold lemony garlicky sauce.  Everyone had seconds, even Ellie, who doesn’t eat much pasta.  It’s so good, that it tasted restaurant quality…yes, it’s that good!

    Ethan proclaimed: “This is a keeper”.  There you have it.

    We will most definitely be having this dish again and again.

    Since we love garlic, lemon, and Italian seasoning, I added way more than the original recipe.  If you’re not into those bold flavors as much, reduce those amounts to your liking.

    Recipe adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 1/2 lbs. chicken breasts, cubed
    • Salt and pepper
    • 1 TBSP oil
    • 2 heaping TBSP of minced garlic (I use pre-minced garlic in a jar
    • 1 TBSP Italian seasoning
    • 2 1/2 c. water
    • 2 c. low-sodium chicken broth
    • Zest of three lemons
    • 2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 3 lemons, use the same ones you just zested)
    • 12 ounces penne pasta (I use Barilla or Ronzoni Smart Taste)
    • 2-3 c. chopped fresh broccoli florets
    • 3/4 c. milk
    • 1 heaping TBSP cornstarch
    • 1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

    Directions:

    1. Season chicken well with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large, 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until the oil is hot and rippling. Add the chicken and saute, stirring frequently, until the chicken is browned and cooked through. Remove the chicken to a plate, keeping as much oil/liquid in the skillet as possible.
    2. Keep the skillet on medium heat and add another teaspoon of oil if needed (I usually don’t but you’ll want to keep an especially close eye on the garlic). Add the garlic and Italian seasoning and stir constantly for about 30 seconds. Add the water, broth, lemon juice and pasta. Stir to combine.
    3. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally just to keep the pasta from sticking, for 10-12 minutes until the pasta is tender – it will cook for a few more minutes in the next step. (Depending on the type of pasta you use, your cooking time may differ, so keep an eye on the pasta so you don’t overcook it).  There will be a bit of liquid left in the skillet; that’s ok.
    4. Add the broccoli and lemon zest. Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes until the broccoli is bright green and tender. While the broccoli is cooking, whisk together the milk and cornstarch.
    5. Uncover the skillet and stir in the milk mixture along with the Parmesan cheese and reserved chicken. Simmer, uncovered, until the sauce has thickened slightly, 1-2 minutes.
    6. Season with additional salt and pepper (this is really important – don’t skip this step!) and serve.

    Lemon Chicken Pasta with Broccoli:
    5star

  • Apple Zucchini Muffins

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    These muffins are healthy, delicious, and kid approved.  Need I say more?  I admit I was a bit skeptical given how little fat is in the muffins, but they turned out extremely moist and flavorful.

    They freeze wonderfully.  After they cool, I simply put them in a freezer bag, and then each night I pull 2 out (one for each kiddo), and put them in a sandwich bag for their school lunch the next day.  Perfect!

    Recipe adapted from Two Peas and their Pod.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
    • 3/4 c. dark brown sugar
    • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
    • 1 c. buttermilk
    • 1/4 c. unsweetened applesauce
    • 1 TBSP oil (melted coconut oil, canola oil, or vegetable oil)
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
    • 1/2 c. grated apple (approximately 2 Granny Smiths)
    • 1/2 c. grated zucchini, moisture slightly squeezed out
    • 1 c. chopped peeled apple (approximately 1 Granny Smith)

    For the Topping: use more if needed

    • 4 TBSP crunchy sugar
    • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

    Directions:

    1.  Preheat oven to 375*F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners or spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
    2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and all-spice. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, applesauce, oil, egg, and vanilla extract. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon or spatula until just combined. Do not over mix. Gently stir in the grated apple, zucchini, and chopped apples.
    3. To make the topping, combine turbinado sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Stir well.
    4. Fill the prepared muffin pan with muffin batter, filling each cup about 3/4 the way full. Sprinkle each muffin with cinnamon sugar topping. Bake for 20 minutes, or until muffins are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let muffins cool to room temperature and serve.

    ***Note-these muffins freeze well

    Apple Zucchini Muffins:
    5star

  • Jerk Chicken Sliders

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    Oh man are these sliders delicious!!!!  Everyone devoured them, and asked for more!  I love finding new recipes that everyone enjoys.  Yay!!

    We’ve made these with the pineapple mango salsa (recipe below), with the pineapple salsa (recipe below minus the mango), and with just the mango salsa (recipe below minus the pineapple).  Use what you have on hand or what you like best.  It’s all good!

    Recipe adapted from Chef in Training.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
    • 4 dinner rolls (I used the King’s Hawaiian Sweet Rolls and you can use the leftover rolls for the Cinnamon Pull-Apart Rolls!)

    Jamaican Jerk Sauce

    • ½ bunch green onions, chopped
    • ½ c. peanut oil
    • ½ c. vinegar
    • 3 TBSP ground allspice
    • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
    • 2 limes, juiced
    • 1/4 c. dark brown sugar
    • 2 TBSP soy sauce
    • 2 TBSP Ketchup
    • 1 TBSP ground cinnamon

    Pineapple Salsa

    • ¼ pineapple, peel and diced
    • ¾ mango, diced
    • ½ red onion, finely diced
    • Fresh cilantro, chopped
    • juice from 1 lime
    • salt to taste

    Directions:

    1. Mix the Jamaican Jerk Sauce ingredients until smooth.  Place the sauce in a large Ziploc bag and then add the chicken.  Marinate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
    2. Prepare the Pineapple Salsa.
    3. Grill the chicken; then cut each breast in half (or smaller, if necessary).
    4. Slice each roll in half, place chicken on roll then top with Pineapple Salsa.

    Jerk Chicken Sliders:
    5star

  • Cinnamon Pull-Apart Rolls

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    These pull-apart rolls are so easy and so delicious.  I’ve made it a number of times, both with the large round loaf (as pictured) and with individual rolls.  Both equally delicious, but we tend to prefer the individual rolls, because there is more surface area for that crispy, yet sweet gooey goodness!

    ***Note: if you use individual rolls, you’ll need a muffin pan, and the directions differ slightly, but I’ve noted the changes below.

    Recipe adapted from The Country Cook.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 Hawaiian round sweet bread loaf (or 12 individual rolls)
    • 1 c. brown sugar
    • 6 TBSP butter
    • 1 tsp. cinnamon
    • 3 tsp. honey

    Frosting:

    • 1 c. powdered sugar
    • 1-2 TBSP milk
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract (or our personal favorite orange extract)

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 400F degrees.
    2. Remove loaf of sweet bread from aluminum pan.
    3. Using a serrated knife, make 5 vertical slices in loaf about 1 1/2 inches apart stopping about 1/2-inch from bottom crust.  ***Note: If using individual rolls make 2 slices about 1 inch apart topping about 1/2-inch from bottom crust.
    4. In a small saucepan over medium/low heat, combine brown sugar, butter and honey. Stir constantly until everything is melted and combined (about 5 minutes.) Remove from heat then stir in cinnamon.
    5. Open each slice that you made in the bread and spread on a couple of tablespoons of the glaze. Press the slices together to make sure glaze gets distributed on each side of the slices.
    6. Then take your knife and make 4 more horizontal slices. Then fill in those slices with glaze.  ***Note: If using individual rolls make 2 slices about 1 inch apart topping about 1/2-inch from bottom crust.
    7. Spray pan with nonstick cooking spray, push loaf back together and put it back into the aluminum pan.  ***Note: If using individual rolls, spray a muffin pan with cooking spray and put 1 roll in each muffin slot.  
    8. Spread any remaining glaze over the bread and bake for about 8-10 minutes.
    9. While bread is in the oven, start making the glaze. Whisk together powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract (or orange, or whatever flavor you like).
    10. Once bread is finished baking, you can remove it from the pan or serve it directly from the pan (be careful, it’s hot!) Spoon the glaze on the warm bread.

    Cinnamon Pull-Apart Rolls:
    5star

  • Italian Beef Sandwiches

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    These sandwiches are delicious, and the meat is so flavorful.  Your house will smell divine too!  So easy to make in the crockpot and then toast them up on the oven when ready to eat.  The roasted red peppers and mild/hot pepper rings brighten the sandwiches up and give them delicious flavor.

    Simply great food.

    Everyone LOVED them.

    Everyone REQUESTS them.

    Recipe adapted from The Slow Roasted Italian.

    Ingredients:

    • 3 c. of boiling water
    • 5 tsp. beef bouillon
    • 1 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce
    • 2 tsp. ground black pepper
    • 2 tsp. garlic powder
    • 1½ tsp. onion powder
    • 5 TBSP Italian seasoning
    • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper (to taste)
    • 1 (3 lb.) boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed of most fat

    Sandwich Fixings:

    • 8 hoagie rolls
    • 16 slices provolone cheese
    • 1 (16 oz.) jar roasted red peppers, sliced
    • 1 (16 oz.) jar mild or hot sliced pepper rings

    Directions:

    1. Turn 6 quart slow cooker to high heat.  Add boiling water, beef bouillon and Worcestershire.
    2. Combine remaining seasonings in a small bowl.  Sprinkle over beef broth and whisk to combine.  Add roast and flip to coat both sides.  Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low 8-10 hours.  Shred beef by using two forks to pull it apart.  Stir to coat all beef in the juices.  Cook 1 additional hour covered. (Do not drain)  Really not necessary, so you can skip this step.
    3. When ready to serve:  Slice rolls in half, place on a baking sheet and broil in oven for 2-4 minutes until bread is lightly golden brown.
    4. Scoop beef on toasted roll and top with 2 slices of provolone cheese.  Place back on baking sheet and broil until cheese is melted.  Top with red pepper slices and mild pepper rings.

    Italian Beef Sandwiches:
    5star

     

  • Caprese Chicken Pasta

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    If you like caprese salad, you’ll love this carprese chicken pasta.  Everyone loved this dish!

    I promise there is chicken in there.  It’s just under all those delicious tomatoes, basil, and cheese.

    ***Note: I’ve also made this dish without the chicken and instead of melting the cheese I just cut the cheese up or use the mozzarella pearls and serve this caprese pasta salad cold. It’s beyond delicious and great for potlucks and picnics.  So flavorful.  

    Recipe adapted from The Novice Chef.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 lb. pasta
    • zest of 2 lemons
    • juice of 2 lemons
    • butter
    • 4 skinless chicken breasts
    • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 TBSP olive oil, divided
    • 5 large garlic cloves, minced
    • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
    • 10 large basil leaves, finely chopped (the more the better)
    • 8 oz. fresh buffalo mozzarella, sliced in 1/2 inch thick slices
    • balsamic vinegar, to taste

    Directions:

    1. Cook pasta according to directions.
    2. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken breasts and set aside.
    3. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm 1 TBSP olive oil. Add chicken, cover pan, and cook for about 10 minutes. Flip chicken breasts and continue cooking until the chicken is cooked thoroughly (or has reached an internal temp of 165°F).
    4. While chicken is cooking, in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm remaining 1 TBSP olive oil. Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add tomatoes and continue sautéing until tomatoes skin starts to soften/wrinkle, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in basil. Set aside.
    5. Once chicken has reached desired doneness, top the tops of each chicken breast with 2 slices of mozzarella. Pour tomato mixture on top. Cover pan with lid once more and let the mozzarella melt, about 1-2 minutes.
    6. When pasta is done, transfer to large serving bowl, and add zest, lemon juice and butter, and mix to combine.
    7. Lastly, drizzle chicken and/or pasta with a splash of balsamic vinegar and serve chicken immediately over pasta.

    Caprese Chicken Pasta:
    5star

  • Copycat Panera Macaroni and Cheese

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    This macaroni and cheese and so THICK and CREAMY.  It really is delicious.  I just wish Ethan would eat macaroni and cheese, because if he did, we would definitely make this more.

    Did I mention that it’s THICK and CREAMY?  And delicious?

    Goes great with barbecue, burgers, sandwiches, and just about everything.

    I’m generally not a fan of leftover macaroni and cheese.  It can be hard, grainy, and the taste just off.  But this recipe heats up beautifully!  If you have leftovers, simply put the leftovers in a pot, add about 1/2 c. milk, and heat over low heat on the stove.  You will never know that it’s leftovers!  Seriously.

    Recipe from Shugary Sweets.

    Ingredients:

    • 1/4 c. unsalted butter
    • 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
    • 1 c. milk (I used skim)
    • 2 c. heavy cream
    • 2 c. shredded white cheddar (I used Cabot seriously sharp cheddar)
    • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
    • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
    • 1 tsp. dry mustard
    • 1 lb. pasta, cooked

    Directions:

    1. Cook pasta according to package directions while making the sauce. Drain and set aside until ready to use.
    2. In a large pot on medium high heat, add butter until melted. Whisk in the flour and cook for about one minute. Reduce heat to medium and add milk, heavy cream, salt, dry mustard and pepper. Continue whisking until it begins to bubble. Reduce to low and add white cheddar. Stir until melted. Add cooked pasta, stirring until combined. Remove from heat and allow to sit about 5 minutes to thicken. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired. ENJOY.
    3. If you have leftovers, when you want to reheat it, add about 1/2 c. milk and cook it on low on the stove top. Worked perfectly.

    Copycat Panera Macaroni and Cheese:
    4star

     

  • Classic Deli Macaroni Salad

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    I pretty much love all pasta salads, and this one is so very good.  It definitely tastes like it came from the deli.  It’s great for summer as a side for sandwiches or grilling out.

    Recipe from Center Cut Cook.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 lb. elbow macaroni
    • 1.5 c. mayo
    • 3 TBSP sour cream
    • 3 TBSP cider vinegar
    • 1 tsp. yellow mustard
    • 2 tsp. sugar
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
    • 1.5 c. finely chopped celery
    • 1 red bell pepper, diced
    • 1/4 c. finely chopped parsley or cilantro

    Directions:

    1. Cook pasta according to package directions; then drain and rinse under cold water until the pasta has cooled. Drain well.
    2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine mayo, sour cream, cider vinegar, yellow mustard, sugar, salt, and black pepper.
    3. Combine the macaroni with the dressing; then stir in finely chopped celery, diced red bell pepper and finely chopped parsley or cilantro.
    4. Chill for 1 hour before serving.

    Classic Deli Macaroni Salad:

    5star