Peanut Butter Granola Bites

The kids love snacks – especially my five year old. If I let her, she’d graze all day long – she’s a bit of a snacking fiend. This aren’t the healthiest snack that I could make, but at least I know what is in them. The kids were running low on granola bars and I have been meaning to make them some, and I made the mistake of mentioning it to my son. That boy never lets me forget a food promise! He’s as bad as his dad 😉
These are sticky to work with, so I recommend chilling the mixture for at least 10 minutes before forming them. I tried one (for quality control’s sake *wink*) and they were really tasty. The peanut butter flavors this nicely and they’re only slightly sweet. The mini chocolate chips are a nice addition, the coconut and oats give these a nice chewy texture and the rice cereal adds a pleasing crunch. I was afraid the uncooked oats would make these hard to eat but I was pleasantly surprised. I will make these again, but maybe in bar form. The bites wont make good lunch box snacks, but rather after school snacks because they fall apart easily. Maybe it’s because of the humid climate that these never set up tightly, so I serve these straight from the fridge. I placed the ball in a muffin paper so the kids’ hands wouldn’t get sticky. Thanks for reading, enjoy!
Peanut Butter Granola Bites – adapted from Lisa is Hungry
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup cold cereal like Rice Krispies
  • 1 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened dessicated coconut
  • 3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
Directions:
1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together the maple syrup or honey, peanut butter and butter. Heat until the butter is melted and the peanut butter is loosened.
2. Combine cereal, oats and coconut in a medium bowl. Pour the warm peanut butter mixture over the dry ingredients and fold tom combine. Stir until all of the dry ingredients are moistened by the peanut butter mixture. Allow the mixture to cool a bit for easier scooping. Mix in chocolate chips if desired.
3. Using a small scoop, scoop mixture onto a wax paper lined baking sheet. Press balls together with clean and damp fingers if they break apart a bit. Place in the fridge for about 15 minutes to harden and set. Place balls in cupcake liners and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Makes about 24 bites.

Double Chocolate Banana Muffins

Quick Post: This is what I came up with while searching for school snack ideas for my kids’ lunches. These don’t have any oil and they’re a great recipe to use for overripe bananas. I had four small ones for this, but probably could have used the recommended three. The kids request these moist, chocolaty mini muffins – score 1 more for mom! 😉
Double Chocolate Banana Muffins – adapted from Handle the Heat
  • 3 large bananas
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup white whole-wheat flour (or whole wheat pastry flour or whole wheat flour)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and position a rack in the center. Line a muffin tin with baking cups and set it aside.
In a large bowl mash the bananas with a fork or potato masher then mix in the sugar, egg and applesauce. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda and baking powder over the banana mixture. Mix lightly with a rubber spatula to combine. Fold in chocolate chips. The batter should be just moistened but still a little clumpy. Don’t overmix!
Using a spring-loaded ice cream scoop or spoons, divide the batter between the prepared muffin cups and bake them for about 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Transfer them to a rack to cool. Store muffins in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Grilled Chicken Salad with Whole Wheat Pita

This is one of my sneaky ways of getting the family to eat healthier with me. It’s not that they don’t like this kind of meal, but I know if they had a choice – the first one wouldn’t be salad. I marinated the chicken souvlaki style and set it in the fridge for a couple of hours, and the chicken was moist and flavorful. I used my new favorite dressing – this stuff is so addicting I love it on veggies and sandwiches too. M didn’t like the pita because it was too chewy for him, but the kids and I didn’t mind that at all. Thanks for reading, enjoy!
White Whole Wheat Pita – adapted from King Arthur Flour
  • 1 3/4 cups White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups Bread Flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 to 1 1/8 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (*I didn’t end up using this, but it probably would have helped keep these moist)
Directions:

1.Combine all of the pita ingredients (except the oil for brushing), and mix and knead to make a soft, smooth dough.

2. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl or large measuring cup, cover it, and let it rise for 60 to 90 minutes, till it’s just about doubled in bulk. Towards the end of the rising time, start to preheat your oven to 450°F, with a pizza stone on the bottom shelf, if you have one.

3. Gently deflate the dough, and divide it into 8 pieces. Shape each piece into a ball, cover them, and let them rest for 10 minutes.

4. Working with two pieces of dough at a time, roll each into a 6″ circle. If you roll the dough about 7″ wide, it’ll shrink back to about 6″.

5. Carefully flop the dough onto the hot pizza stone. If you’re not using a pizza stone, put it on an ungreased baking sheet, and put the baking sheet on your oven’s bottom rack.

6. Bake for 4 minutes. The pitas should rise enthusiastically. If they’re on a stone, they’ll probably puff up like balloons; if they’re on a baking sheet, they’ll still expand; just not as vigorously.

7. Turn the pitas over, and bake for an additional 60 seconds.

8. Remove them from the oven, and brush with your favorite olive oil, plain or flavored. Wrap lightly in a cotton towel, to keep them soft. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough

Green Almond Oat Smoothie

Quick Post: Yes, another green smoothie – but this time with oats and chia seeds.

Green Almond Oat Smoothie – adapted from Natural Noshing

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/3 cup soaked oats
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • dash of cinnamon

Directions:

1. The night before, soak your oats in 1/3 cup of water with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate.

2. The next morning: Blend all ingredients and enjoy!

Tropical Smoothie

Quick Post: Yum – this is so luscious! My kids would love this one, but it’s definitely a treat smoothie because of all the orange juice…carbs and sugar! This recipe is enough for 1 serving. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Mango, Banana, Strawberry Smoothie – 

  • 7-10 cubes frozen mango
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 4-5 frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
Directions:
1. Blend until nice and smooth! Enjoy 🙂

Orange Almond Coconut Granola

I’ve never made granola before, but I love the stuff. It’s perfect on top of yogurt, an on the go snack or a hearty breakfast. Most store bought brands have lots of sugar, salt, preservatives and fat…no thanks! This one is great because it’s all natural, easy to make and it keeps well in the fridge or up to a week in an airtight container. While this was baking, the most wonderful mix of orange and honey came wafting out the oven!  I can’t wait to try this 🙂

Verdict: So addicting! The orange zest gives this an aroma and bright, fresh flavor that I have never had in granola before. It was the perfect pre-workout breakfast. Bottom line – I will make this again and again! Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Orange Almond Coconut Granola – adapted from Two Blue Lemons

Dry Ingredients:

  • 2 cups “Old Fashioned” rolled oats (not the quick kind)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Zest of one orange
  • pinch of kosher salt

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
* 1/3 cup dried fruit of your choice – I used raisins because that’s what I had on hand*
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 300.
2. In a large mixing bowl mix the dry ingredients and set aside. (Oats, coconut, almonds, cinnamon, zest, salt.)
3. In a small bowl combine the wet ingredients. (Honey, molasses, vanilla, oil.)
4. Pour the honey-molasses mixture over the oats and spread in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
5. Bake for about 25 minutes, tossing once in the middle. (Don’t let it get too brown, you want it to still be a little chewy.)
6. Out of the oven, toss in your dried fruit. Makes about 5 cups.

Meatball Sandwiches

I haven’t made meatball subs since December, and that recipe was really good. I do enjoy trying new recipes, and M mentioned that he’d like the meatballs to be smaller to make the subs easier to eat and less messy. These are baked in a mini muffin tin, so they’ll all be nice and uniform in size. The sauce couldn’t be easier – I basically ignored it for two hours and it just reduced down into a rich marinara. Be sure to keep the heat at low in case you’re anything like me and completely forget it for about 40 minutes! I went next door to share some granola with my neighbor and ended up talking for quite some time 😉

Verdict: The sauce was great but the meatballs were lacking in flavor. The meatballs I made for the subs back in December were much more flavorful. These can be tweaked more to suit our tastes, but what made me want to try these in the first place was that they are baked.

Meatball Subs – adapted from CookEatLove
Basic Tomato Sauce:
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 6-8 leaves fresh basil leaves
  • 3-6 cloves garlic roasted
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • drizzle with olive oil, 5 tbs
  • finally, just before serving add 2 tbs of butter to bring layers of flavor to the sauce.
Directions:
1. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add crushed tomatoes and raw quarted onions (big chunks). Add  basil, garlic, salt and pepper. When the garlic is done roasting add this as well.  Let the sauce come to a boil, lower heat to low and stir occasionally until desired thickness. Drizzle with olive oil part way through the simmering to taste (I usually simmer for a couple of hours).  Remove the big chunks of onion and just before serving add the butter.
Meatballs: (makes 30)
  • 1.25 pounds ground lean beef (roughly, does not have to be exact, just about those combinations)
  • 1 pound ground pork *see above note
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
  • 1  tablespoons chopped basil
  • 1/2 clove of minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs (I used hamburger buns toasted in the oven then grated in the food processor)
  • lukewarm water just to moisten a little more

*bread crumbs for rolling the meatballs in before putting them in the muffin tray is optional – if you decide to, just make extra from the ones you used for the meat mixture

Pre-heat oven to 400.  Combine beef,  pork in a large bowl. Add eggs, cheese, basil, garlic and salt and pepper. Using your hands, blend ingredients together. Blend bread crumbs into meat mixture. Slowly add water, a bit at a time until the mixture is quite moist. Using your hands, shape the meatballs into rounds  and place the meatballs in individual, miniature muffin tin cups. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

To Assemble:

*6-8 hoagie buns

*fresh mozzarella cheese

Finally, when you are assembling the meatball subs, use a nice crispier hoagie to absorb some of the tomato sauce.  I dig out a small well in the lower part of the bun to let the saucy meatballs sit. I placed mozzarella cheese in the bottom of the hollowed out rolls, place the meatballs on top and then add sauce and cheese . Sprinkle with grated mozzarella cheese and then broil the sub so that the cheese is bubbly.  Finally eat.

Blueberry Morning Smoothie

Quick Post: The name sounds nice, right? Well, there is a really unexpected ingredient in these, but I was willing to try it. PEAS! I needed to about a half cup more almond milk to thin this out for the blender and more banana to sweeten it up. The toast with real fruit preserves helped to get this one down! 😉 It wasn’t that awful, especially when I think of all the nutrition packed in this. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Blueberry Morning Smoothie – (never home)maker

  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup almond milk (plus more if needed)
  • 1 frozen banana
Directions –
1. Blend all ingredients until combined. Enjoy!

Roasted Vegetables over Bulgur

Lunch…I’m not always great at lunch. It’s usually leftovers, sandwiches or salads. This is more work, but I get at least 3 meals out of it. I chopped up some zucchini, summer squash, cremini mushrooms, tossed a handful of baby carrots and grape tomatoes on a baking sheet.  Use whatever veggies you love to roast, drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper over all. Bulgur cooks really quickly and by the time all the vegetables were finished roasting I had a really healthy lunch ready to be enjoyed. This was surprisingly good! I knew I would love the roasted vegetables, but the bulgur was cooked in plain ‘ol water with a pinch of kosher salt added. It has a nutty flavor and a meaty texture and keeps you feeling full longer because of all the fiber and protein. I felt full for hours but didn’t feel bloated. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Roasted Vegetables Over Bulgur –

  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 small summer squash
  • 5-6 cremini mushrooms
  • handful of grape tomatoes
  • handful of baby carrots
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup of bulgur wheat, cooked to package directions
  • handful of baby spinach
  • zest of one lemon
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil. Clean and prepare your vegetables – slice zucchini and summer squash into coins, slice cremini mushrooms in half and discard stems. Toss baby carrots with a drizzle of olive oil, kosher salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes. Take the pan out, toss the carrots and add seasoned squash and mushrooms to the baking sheet, roast for another 10-15 minutes. Toss in the grape tomatoes during the last 5 minutes. Serve 1 cup of roasted veggies over one cooked up of bulgur tossed with baby spinach leaves for good measure, and sprinkle lemon zest over top of all. Enjoy!

Chipotle Lime Shrimp

When it comes to flavors like these, I don’t have to modify anything. The creator of this recipe was spot on with all the amounts, but I cooked mine differently. The flavor was nice on these, but next time I might add a little more spice and a little less brown sugar. Other than that the shrimp were really flavorful. We enjoyed these in a tortilaa with our favorite fillings. Thanks for reading, enjoy!
Chipotle Lime Shrimp – adapted from Gimme Some Oven
  • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chipotle powder
  • 1 lime, juice and zest

Method:

1. Mix the chipotle powder, cumin, brown sugar, lime zest, lime juice and cilantro in a bowl and and let marinate for 20 minutes.

2. In a heavy-bottomed skillet, saute the shrimp until completely cooked through – about 2-3 minutes. Once the shrimp are cooked, add the marinade into the pan and reduce slightly. Drizzle over top the shrimp and serve.