Chunky Monkey for Breakfast?!


A week or so ago I made our first attempt at ice cream and it was creamy and decadent. Shortly after our first bite, C asked if I could and when I would make Chunky Monkey ice cream. While I will eventually make it for him, albeit reduced-guilt, I couldn’t get the flavor combination out of my mind. Any morning that we are able to sleep in seems to require a special breakfast – waffles, pancakes, French toast, etc. As I have made more waffles than I care to count over the past month pancakes were the clear answer. I flipped through this book for inspiration on healthier breakfasts and made up one of my own. They are very easy to whip up and go down quickly, especially if dunked in warm buttery syrup…

Whisk up some whole-wheat flour, baking powder, salt, Splenda, cinnamon, and oats in one bowl.

In another some egg substitute, vanilla extract, milk, water and mashed banana.

Follow the normal pattern – add wet to dry and combine.

Next add in the chopped walnuts, chocolate chips, and banana.

Portion them out in to 2-bite pancakes and cook them until crisp on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside.

     

Chunky Monkey Pancakes (4 points plus/5 pancakes)

  • 3 tablespoons rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 packets Splenda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 tablespoons fat-free egg substitute
  • 2 tablespoons non-fat milk
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 banana, half mashed and half diced
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate chips,  chopped
  • 2 tablespoons walnut pieces, chopped
  1. Preheat skillet over medium heat.
  2. In a medium bowl combine dry ingredients and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl whisk mashed banana, water, milk, vanilla and egg substitute
  4. Form a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet – whisk until just combined.
  5. Gently fold in nuts and chocolate.
  6. Use a tablespoon (or tablespoon-sized scoop) to portion out batter. Cook  approximately 3 minutes on each side – they will be slightly crisp on the outside and light on the inside.
  7. While pancakes are crisping warm syrup with a bit of butter (I use 2 tablespoons of syrup and 2 teaspoons of butter).
  8. These will not last. Nothing bite-sized ever does… I put them out on a platter and portioned out 5 for myself.
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Thanksgiving


How was your Thanksgiving?? Ours was pretty good. My work scheduled enabled me to have an extended break which was nice. By Sunday though I desperately needed to get out of the house. I spent most of Thursday cooking which was nice. We managed to do just enough so it felt like Turkey Day but not so much that it was overwhelming. On our menu:

  • Sausage Stuffing with Fruit
  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts
  • Apple Crumb Pie
  • Turkey Breast – nothing too special here just herb butter (rosemary & thyme) and lots of basting (every 10 minutes for the last 45 minutes). 5 pounds went for about 2.25 hours total (30 minutes at 425 and the remaining at 350).
  • Gravy – store bought (trader joe’s)
  • Mashed Potatoes – done by my mother in law; basically your standard recipe but we added in some garlic-parmesan olive oil
  • Pumpkin Chocolate Tart – made by my mother in law and we adapted it from these two #1 and #2

We really enjoyed each of these treats. Some were proven to be excellent breakfast choices while others delicious standalone lunches.

Carver and I really enjoy the turkey-stuffing combo. In fact we often have it outside of that fourth Thursday of November. I think it is safe to say that we will make it again in our new house this January.

Meanwhile enjoy some other photos of our holiday.

           

      


harvest muffins make a come back


It was just over a week ago that the request for these muffins came to me. I made them once last year for a meeting and they were a huge hit. No surprise because they are filled with nuts, dried fruit and ‘fall-y’ spices. I have made them less sinful than the original recipe, but they will never and should never be a 2 point muffin – unless you make them mini then you could drop the stats. The changes I have made make them super moist as well so live it up and enjoy the tastes of fall.

Harvest Muffins

  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 package (4oz) unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 3/4 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 2/3 cup dried figs, chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 375. Line muffin tin with papers and spray papers with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl sift (or just stir with a whisk if you don’t have a sifter) dry ingredients together – flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, spices. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in wet ingredients egg, milk, sour cream, butter, applesauce, pumpkin; mixing slowly until just combined. Next, add in the sugar, making sure it is evenly dispersed. At this point I switch to a silicon spatula and fold in the fruit and nuts.

Scoop muffin batter in to prepared pans – each muffin paper should be 2/3 full. Bake the muffins for 35 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through cooking time. When they come out of the oven let them rest in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack (mine is still packed so I just put them on a brown paper bag to cool) until completely cooled. I keep them frozen and pop them in Carver’s lunch each day; by the time he is ready for a snack it has defrosted.

For 18 large muffins it is 6 Points Plus per muffin. If you were to make mini muffins you would get 40 muffins at 3 Points Plus per muffin.

I might add – they are delicious warmed with a light slathering of whipped cream cheese.


love at first bite


Years ago I started watching Barefoot Contessa religiously. It took a few months for her to really grow on me. But then I realized her recipes were well-written and her flavors impeccable. What I really loved was how much love she put in to everything. I love to watch her with her friends and with her husband. It was so refreshing to see those interactions, and you get the sense that she is that way on and off camera which is nice. Anyways when I met Carver I was deep in the Barefoot Contessa world and saw that when she and her husband were dating she would send him treats (brownies). Well that, I thought, was genius! So I started sending Carver treats. His favorite by far were my cranberry orange muffins. I’m not certain why those were the ones that won him over considering I sent homemade truffles with that shipment but those were his favorite. I think these really went a long way in getting him on board for the whole marriage thing – so thanks, Ina!

I made these muffins recently and was reminded again how delicious these are.

Cranberry Orange Muffins

  • 4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup applesauce, unsweetened
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • zest and juice of 1 large orange
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, light
  • 12 ounces frozen cranberries
  • 2/3 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 375. Line muffin tin with papers and spray with nonstick spray; set aside. In a large bowl combine flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder. In a small bowl combine wet ingredients until just mixed. Add wet ingredients into dry and stir just until incorporated. Fold in cranberries and walnuts. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.

Bake for 20 minutes and rotate pan halfway through cook time. Let muffins cool 5 minutes in pan before removing to rack to cool completely. This recipe yields 24 muffins, and each muffin in 5 points plus.

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breakfast staple


Okay people. I have done it! Finally after many attempts I have found the recipe (and successfully executed said recipe) for super crunchy and chunky granola. In past recipes I had problems with not enough clusters, basically my sauce wasn’t sticky enough so the pieces didn’t clump. The flavor has always been there but I was missing the secret ingredient. What is it you ask?! Well, it’s brown rice syrup. I know! I had no idea such a thing existed either. It is a life (granola) saver, let me tell you… I was so overjoyed when this batch came out of the oven. It was a big victory for me. This product is well worth the trip to Whole Foods to grab a jar, and while you are there you can also grab the yummy raw nuts and unsweetened shredded coconut. So are you ready for your new favorite, go-to granola recipe??

Classic Granola adapted from here and here.

  • 6 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups mixed raw nuts – I used sunflower seeds, walnuts and pecans but this is very flexible
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (optional but super yummy)
  • 1 cup brown rice syrup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Dash salt
  • 1 tablespoon chunky peanut butter, unsalted
  • 1 cup dried fruit – I used cherries and blueberries

Heat oven to 325. On a large baking sheet toast oats approximately 5-10 minutes, stirring regularly. Add coconut and nuts to oats and toast an additional 5-10 minutes, again stirring regularly. Meanwhile combine brown sugar, rice syrup and peanut butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir well and cook until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. In a large bowl combine all ingredients – toasted dry ingredients and the slightly cooled syrup/sauce. Mix well to ensure all pieces are coated. Spoon mix on to parchment-lined cookie sheet and press flat. Bake for approximately 20 minutes stirring every 5-10 minutes to ensure all parts get good and crispy brown.

Here’s the bad news faithful readers… This makes a TON of granola (>8 cups or nearly 30 servings) but the standard serving size for granola is 1/4 cup and granola is pretty calorie (and point) dense 5 points plus per serving!! So self-restraint is necessary here.

If you don’t know where to start on the flavor/seasoning front I always go for what’s in my house. So this week it was sunflower seeds, walnuts, pecans, cherries and blueberries. Another favorite of my combos is apricots, dates and cranberries. I have also done one with cherries, soy nuts and walnuts with mini chocolate chips. You could also do one that is more fall-like with apples and cranberries and go a little heavier on the cinnamon and halve the salt. Really it’s up to you and what ingredients you have on hand.


Must-Haves for a Blissful Kitchen: Lunch Edition


Next up, all your helpful ingredients for delicious lunches every time. Whether you eat it at home or brown-bag it these items will hold up and keep your lunches healthy and will provide lots of variety.

 

Artichoke Hearts Dijon Mustard Vegetables: baby carrots, grape tomatoes, celery sticks Microwave Popcorn
Broccoli Florets FF/LF Cheese Canned Tomatoes Mixed Nuts
Chopped Onion FF/LF Yogurt Couscous Low fat & low calorie treats
Grilled chicken or steak Lettuce, variety Dried Fruit – variety Rice
Lean Cuisine or Smart One Meals LF Mayonnaise Dry Whole Wheat Pasta Roasted Red Peppers
Veggie Burgers Low-fat deli meats Garlic Salsa
Pickles Olives Vinegar – variety Spaghetti Sauce
Seltzer Pesto Canned Beans Stock/Broth

 


Must-Have List for a Blissful Kitchen: Breakfast Edition


Here are my go-to items to ensure I can always whip up a healthy breakfast in no time. This list will provide you with the ingredients for everything from smoothies, to toast with peanut butter to waffles or pancakes and everything in between.

Frozen Berries Low-fat granola All-Purpose Flour Mixed Nuts
Other frozen fruits: banans, mango, pineapple, etc Dijon Mustard Baking Powder Peanut Butter
Raw Nuts Egg Substitute Baking Soda Roasted Red Peppers
Vegetable Blends Eggs Brown Sugar Vegetable Oil
Whole Wheat Waffles FF/LF Cheese Cinnamon Whole Wheat Flour
Fresh Fruit: variety of in season items FF/LF Milk Coconut – shredded Whole-Grain Breakfast Cereal
Dried Fruit – variety FF/LF Spreads (cream cheese) Cornmeal Light Whole-Grain Breads
Granulated Sugar FF/LF Yogurt Lettuce, variety Sugar Substitute
Honey Ketchup & Hot Sauce Kosher Salt Cooking Spray