This recipe for soft, peanut butter quickbread is one of the best breads I’ve tried to date. Trust me and try it too!
2018 has hit me like a ton of bricks, both figuratively and literally. From the end of the year to now, I had to put my dog down (still the most excruciating pain I’ve felt), moved into a new condo, got two new jobs, traveled to the Caribbean and Cleveland, not to mention a flu sickness that has kept me from working out and, well, leaving my house. It’s been a jam-packed month, and it’s only going to get crazier.
Despite a slower travel schedule this year, I’m still heading out of the country for a few more work trips. I’ll be going to Mexico in February, possibly Japan in March and then maybe a trip to Bhutan at the end of April. My boyfriend and I are also planning a trip to see the tulips in the Netherlands and explore some of Denmark in early may as well. I’m focusing more of my travels on trips that are truly meaningful and life changing, ones that challenge and excite me, and am aiming to spend more time here in this city that I love.
And with that, I definitely mean back to blogging. I finally found a web designer I like and have crossed the ts and dotted the i’s on a new look. One that’ll incorporate my travels, my fitness, my home and food. Something that will grow with me as I move towards a more lifestyle focus – something that I know I can keep up. I’ve got some major life shifts and changes happening this year as well, and I want a place I can openly talk about everything – from a new career focus to decorating and renovating a condo to everything in between. We’ve got a tight deadline of July, but you know me, I’m going to hope and pray it’s done a little sooner. Enough about me, y’all just want to know more about this bread, right?
The title really says it all. This soft, moist and oh-so-flavorful peanut butter quickbread is the freaking BEES KNEES. I got the base from Monique at Ambitious Kitchen (who is amazing, follow her) and updated it with things I can’t live without – like peanut butter, nuts and coconut flour. Y’all, it’s amazing. I’m not doing the paleo diet right now, but I’m still trying to limit my sugar and processed carb intake on this every-changing quest to stay healthy, focused, energized and healthy.
This protein-packed, low-fat, fiber-rich quickbread is the ultimate breakfast bread. Plus, it’s great for grab-n-go, basically the only speed I know.
Soft Peanut Butter Quickbread
Serves about 12. Adapted from Ambitious Kitchen.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
- 3 medium bananas, ripe and soft
- 1/4 cup peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup coconut flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice*
- Dash of salt
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, pecans or peanuts
- + 2 tablespoons peanut butter for drizzle
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a standard loaf pan ( 8 1/2 x 4 1/2) with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle with coconut flour.
- In a large bowl, smash the bananas together. Using a mixer or a whisk, mix in the peanut butter and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition.
- In another bowl, sift the coconut flour, baking soda, baking powder and apple pie spice. Mix in the flour to the wet mixture, Toss in the salt and chopped nuts, stirring to combine.
- Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, using a spatula to smooth out the top. Bake for about 35 – 40 minutes, or until fully cooked inside. (You can test the inside by sticking a toothpick inside. If it’s dry, it’s fully cooked). Let cool for about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat the peanut butter in a microwave for about 30 – 45 seconds, or until melted. Drizzle the bread with the peanut butter and serve.
Nutritional information per slice:
Fat: 9 grams
Carbohydrates: 12.3 grams
Fiber: 3 grams
Protein: 4.6 grams
These healthy, protein packed breakfast cookies make the perfect grab-n-go snack!
Freaking Thanksgiving. Scratch that, freaking holiday season. Why does it always have to cause such a damn wreck to my body? I know I sound like a Scrooge, but when most of your life is completely outside of your control and the only thing you have some control of is how you look and feel, things can be a little stressful when even that falls to the wayside.
I know it’s just one speckle of time, and my workouts should combat it, but everything feels and looks like half-set Jello. Jiggly, wiggly and very unattractive. How I still have a boyfriend who doesn’t want to lock me permanently into a gym is beyond me. Maybe it’s my witty charm or the fact I keep feeding him the sweets I’m stress-baking. We’re both struggling with ourselves this year. In fact, I feel more and more like THIS and less and less like THIS. I find myself struggling with sleep again, daydreaming about what butter-laden treat I’m going to make and forcing myself to do anything that would benefit me as a person – like write, apply for jobs, pin things for our new house.
I guess on the plus side, we finally have a house and we’re moving in at the end of December. It wasn’t the place I alluded to in this post (jerks pulled it off the market), but is instead a nice, two-bedroom condo with updated appliances and beautiful windows in this adorable neighborhood called Rogers Park. It requires no work to start with, but we’re already daydreaming about the beautiful bathroom updates we’re going to make to the ones we currently have.
A new year in a new place is always a good start to something, especially since last year started off with so much uncertainty. Knowing my year will be starting in a beautiful new place in a city I just adore with a man who I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to have found and with two jobs that actually pay me. I guess it could be worse, huh?
Healthy, Protein Packed Breakfast Cookies
Yields about 8 – 10 cookies.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
- 2 1/3 cup quick cooking oats
- Dash of salt (about 1 teaspoon)
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 cup homemade peanut butter (I love this recipe)
- 2 tablespoons pure clover honey
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 large bananas, smashed
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/3 cup chopped or sliced almonds
- Drizzle of honey for garnish
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, mix the oats, salt and pumpkin pie spice together. In another bowl, whisk the peanut butter, honey, brown sugar, bananas and almond extract together. Mix the dry mixture into the wet mixture and stir to combine.
- Scoop the dough (about 2 – 3 tablespoons dough) and roll slightly into a ball. Place about 1 1/2 inches apart on the parchment paper. Press the cookies down with the back of a spoon or a spatula.
- Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes, or until browned. Let cool slightly on the parchment paper and then let cool on a wire cooling rack.
- Serve immediately or freeze for up to 2 – 3 months.
Nutritional information per cookie:
Fat: 14.2 grams
Carbohydrates: 29.7 grams
Fiber: 4 grams
Protein: 8.9 grams
These amazing apple cheddar hand pies are the perfect mix of cheese, apple spice and buttery crust, all in one bite!
About my overall lack of preparedness for any holiday:
Y’all, I know not all of you have your Thanksgiving s&*^ together. I’m just not convinced that everyone in the US is completely prepared for this upcoming holiday. I mean, please. I can’t possibly be the only person on the planet who is scrambling to figure out what to make for my first Thanksgiving with my boyfriend and his family. (Yes, I’m still FREAKING out about it and NO, I HAVEN’T DECIDED WHAT ON EARTH I’M GOING TO MAKE).
Okay, that’s not entirely all true. I have about 10 things pinned that I could make, but none of them are really singing to me. That’s neither here nor there, though. Let’s go back to that question I posed earlier – y’all can’t all be ready for Thanksgiving, right?
I’m holding onto hope that a few of you are planning on hitting the grocery store tonight, after a long day of work, and are going to start in the wine aisle and hope that you at least remember to pick up a turkey or potatoes after opening said wine and chugging it as you throw everything but what you need into your cart (Christmas themed Oreos, anyone?) I’m praying that a few of you haven’t even looked at a holiday recipe, better yet picked up any ingredients for said Pinterest-worthy perfections. I’m just crossing my fingers that a few of you are hoping that your in-laws won’t mind that the beloved turkey is being served on the fanciest of Chinet paper plates because your youngest child decided it would be fun to smash your nice plates during a temper tantrum and you’ve been too busy to worry about buying other ones.
I’m just really hoping that a few of you are going to buy your pies from the store’s bakery section, pull them out of the boxes, arrange them on your nicest cake stand and add a few dollops of whipped cream (from a can) and toss some cinnamon sticks on a few minutes before your overly critical mother comes over and pretend you made them yourself.
A few of you are doing these things, right? Even if you’re not, maybe just say you are so I don’t feel like a complete and utter failure for being busy, stressed, a little depressed and completely overwhelmed this year. It doesn’t have to be true, but just tell me, okay?
Apple Cheddar Hand Pies
Yields about 8 pies. Slightly adapted from Oh Sweet Basil.
Prep time: About 45 minutes
Cook time: About 15 minutes
Total time: About 1 hour
**For the crust:
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into bite-size pieces
- 1/3 – 1/2 cup cold water
For the filling:
- About 2 large apples, core removed and chopped
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons corn starch
- 1 1/2 tablespoons apple pie spice
- About 4 ounces (1/2 cup) Cabot sharp cheddar, cut into bite-size chunks
For the egg wash:
- 1 large egg white
- Splash of water
- chopped walnuts for garnish
***You can sub in store-bought pie crust if you don’t have time (or patience) to make your own.
- To prepare the crust, whisk the flour, salt and brown sugar together. Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse sand. Add water, 2 – 3 tablespoons at a time, or until mixture starts to come together. You want the crust to be relatively crumbly, but should form a soft enough dough when formed with your hands.
- Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead lightly with a floured rolling pin. Roll into a disc and wrap tightly with saran wrap. Chill for at least an hour.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- Meanwhile, prepare the filling by mixing the apples, lemon juice, honey, brown sugar, corn starch and apple pie spice together. Let sit for about 10 minutes.
- Once the pie dough is done chilling, remove from fridge. On a floured surface, roll the dough out with a floured rolling pin until about 1/8 inch thickness, or however thick you want it. Using a circle cookie cutter (about 3 – 4 inches), stamp out about 16 circle shapes, or as many as you can get.
- Add about one spoonful of filling into the middle of half of the crusts. Add 1 – 2 chunks of cheddar cheese over the apples. Carefully cover the apple mixture with the remaining crusts. Using a fork or your hands, press the edges together and crimp to seal (so the filling doesn’t spill out). Poke the top of the crusts with a fork or cut a cross in the middle.
- Using a pastry brush, brush the egg wash over the top crusts and carefully transfer to the prepared baking sheets.
Nutritional information per serving (about 1 pie):
Fat: 17 grams
Carbohydrates: 38 grams
Fiber: 2.4 grams
Protein: 7 grams
This easy entertaining fall cheese and charcuterie board is the perfect addition to any fall party, especially Thanksgiving!
Surprise, it’s Thanksgiving tomorrow! Not really, but you get the gist. That’s precisely why I’m sharing one of my favorite entertaining recipes with you today – a fancy a&# cheese and charcuterie board! Now, people ask me all the time why I bother making boards like this when I can’t eat half of the things on it (like the meat). My answer to them is really quite simple.
MORE CHEESE FOR ME. Jokes aside, there’s nothing I love more than preparing food for the people I care about. It just so happens that all of the people in this category are die-hard carnivores. So, even if I’m not going to be indulging in prosciutto, I know they’ll love it and that’s reason enough for me to want to add it to the plate.
Even though I love an nice cheeseboard, the was entirely my boyfriend’s idea. This particular day wasn’t just a regular one, it was the day he was going to meet my mother for the first time. So, knowing she has a penchant for fancy cheeses, cured meats and wine (like mother, like daughter), he suggested we make her a little board so she had something to enjoy when she got home from work.
I know, he’s the best. As we were unpacking the groceries and he was guzzling wine out of nerves, he suggested that we make the board beautiful enough for her and for the blog (#thatcontentlife). At that point, the rusty wheels in my brain started turning and, before you know it, I was cutting petals off the flowers he got me and was arranging pancetta and fig jam like a mad woman. After almost an hour of styling and photographing, my little brother got home and demolished half the tray. Luckily, I was able to snag a photo to send my mom so she saw the beauty it was before two hungry boys had their way with it.
She approved, by the way. Of both the tray and the boyfriend, which is the best we could have hoped for. Oh, and I haven’t had any cheese since because I might have eaten about 5 pounds in the form of soft camembert and raclette.
Quick and Easy Fall Cheese & Charcuterie Board
Serves about 4 – 6.
Prep time: About 15 minutes
Total time: 15 – 20 minutes
- 1 loaf crispy french bread, sliced into 1 – 2 inch slices
- 8 ounces your favorite crackers (I love these buttery table crackers)
- 8 ounces thinly sliced proscuitto
- 8 ounces thinly sliced pancetta
- 1 log of your favorite cured salami (we used this pepper crusted one from Boar’s Head)
- 4 – 6 ounces olives
- 1/4 cup fig jam or your favorite fruit preserves, divided
- 1 bunch grapes
- Fresh berries (about 2 cups)
- 6 ounces soft cheese (we used camembert)
- 5 ounces strong profiled hard cheese (we used raclette)
- 6 – 8 ounces mild cheese (we used this Cabot cheddar)
- 2 – 4 tablespoons dijon mustard
- Arrange the cheese and meats around a large wooden cutting board or serving platter. I like having the cheeses on separate ends of the board and the meat filling in around it.
- Then add the berries, olives, grapes, crackers and bread around the cheese and the meat. Make sure to save some spots on the board for the jam and other condiements.
- Place the jam and the mustard where there are some empty spots. You can either put them in small ramekins or directly on the board like I did. There’s really no rhyme or reason to how I decorate, just stack the ingredients high and add some fresh blooms and greenery for contrast.
*Note, because it’s hard to determine the serving size, we can’t really figure out the nutritional information. Apologies in advance for the inconvenience.
Y’all, it’s pumpkin whoopie pie season and I’m not even mad about it.
About these cookies:
Actually, pumpkin whoopie pie season started two months ago but I was in Croatia eating truffles so…I know, my life. However, now that I’m home for the entire month of November, I’m catching up on all the things i’ve missed – like pumpkin desserts. And cream cheese frosting. And cookies. And cake. And pie. Good thing I chose TODAY to go Paleo, right?
WRONG. All I want to do is eat these cookies, thankfully I made them weeks ago and there’s not even a morsel left to remember. Because I’m weak and I’d probably eat 4 in a row and then force myself to go to Orange Theory again tonight out of shamerage. It’s a thing, google it. My mom, the ultimate cookie baker, said these are one of the best things i’ve made all year, and after taking a big bite (for photo purposes, obvi), I had to agree. They’re most definitely one of the fluffiest, sweetest and most decadent cookies I’ve made to date.
The thing with whoopies is they’re almost always left off the desert table because they’re not the most attractive. Unlike thumprints or pinwheels, which are radiant and beautiful, whoopies aren’t the most festive. However, that’s no reason not to indulge in these cakey little bites this holiday season. Add some styling, like I did. Serve them with some fresh star of anise or roll them in crushed walnuts or even edible glitter to give them a pop of color. I’m all about the accessorizing, even in food. Do yourself a favor, make these for Thanksgiving. Whether you style them or not, they’ll be the biggest hit on your pie table. You might have to seperate them from the apple because nobody is going to touch that pie after trying these. And we all know how jealous apple gets.
Beyond whoopies, I’m basically just sitting on pins and needles because we’re still patiently (cough not really) waiting for the offer to get accepted on the most beautiful two-bedroom condo in all of Chicago. But, I’ve been pinning all of the rain showers and claw-foot tubs, subway tiles and vintage sinks in the world to get ready for it. See, the place is actually in AMAZING condition, but the main bathroom needs to be gutted. Completely. So, we’re going to install a rain shower (insert heart eye emoji here), subway tile, a vintage sink and some cute industrial lighting fixtures to bring it all together. I’ve never had a place that needed a reno like this, so I’m beyond excited for the potential possiblity.
If we get it, of course. So please, cross all of your appendages. It’s in such a fantastic part of the city and is within walking distance to great cafes, an OrangeTheory, Whole Foods and everything in between. And, you know, it would help me get out of my parents house. Because at nearly 32, it just isn’t cute anymore.
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
Yields about 10 medium – large sandwiches.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 14 – 16 minutes
For the cookies:
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- Dash of salt
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 15 ounce can pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
For the filling:
- 6 ounces light cream cheese
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- Dash of cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk the whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt together. In another bowl, mix the brown sugar, canola oil, applesauce, pumpkin puree, egg and vanilla. Once mixed, add in the flour mixture a cup at a time and stir until fully combined.
- Using a spoon, scoop the dough onto the sheet. The cookies will spread a little, so place them about 1 1/2 – 2 inches apart. If you want the tops to be smooth, use a piping bag or smooth them out with your hand. I left them as is and kind of dig the almost oatmeal like texture.
- Bake for about 12 – 16 minutes, or until they spring back at the touch. Place on a wire cooling rack and let cool.
- Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and cinnamon together until thick and creamy.
- Once the cookies have cooled, add a large dollop of frosting on the top of half of them and place another cookie on top to make a sandwich. Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!
Nutritional information per cookie sandwich:
Fat: 16 grams
Carbohydrates: 34.3 grams
Fiber: 1.23 grams
Protein: 5 grams
This creamy squash soup is perfect for fall evenings in! Plus, it makes a great Thanksgiving side dish!
A story about the soup:
If you want to hear a little bit about my life, scroll down. If you’re just here for soup, stay here. I found this recipe in a copy of Food Network Magazine and knew almost instantly I had to make it. For one, who doesn’t love creamy squash soup? Two, look at those garnishes! The roasted broccoli, the crunchy croutons, the salty pumpkin seeds? Not only are they beautiful, they add the perfect textural contrast to the velvety texture of the base. Soup has this incredible ability to warm you up, both figuratively and literally. It has this almost therapeutic power to it. Even on my worst days, a bowl of soup has the ability to take me back to a world and a life that wasn’t as scary, complicated or lonely. This soup is no different. I made it during a time of true uncertainty and I remember feeling a little better every time the spoon hit my lips. It may sound silly, and it probably is, but this soup helped me out of a pretty serious funk.
And a little bit about me:
It’s hard to believe Thanksgiving is two weeks away. I mean, in all honesty, it’s hard to believe the end of the year is just a month and a half away. While the rest of my friends are all “CHRISTMAS! SNOW! COOKIES!” I’m just trying desperately to keep my head afloat as I look for a job, wait for an offer to get accepted on a house and sort through where the next year of my life is going to take me.
I do know one thing, it’s going to involve a heck of a lot less traveling. Travel is my life and it fuels every single part of who I am. And as exciting as it was to pack up and leave for a new country and a new city every other week, it made a few other parts of my life nearly impossible to manage. From the outside, my life looked perfect. I was always somewhere different, experiencing an exotic place so many people only dream of going to. But peel back that wrapper and you’d see that my life was so far beyond perfection. It was a crumbling mess.
Without divulging too many personal details in a post about soup, I will say the decision to stay put in Chicago for the foreseeable future wasn’t an easy one. Even though I felt the world falling to pieces around me, I still loved travel. Partly because it was an escape. If my life at home was a mess, I knew in a day or two I’d be in Australia, China, Spain or Norway and wouldn’t have to face those issues for a few weeks. In a way, I was running away. I also truly love to travel. There’s nothing I love more than stepping off a plane and immersing myself almost immediately in a world so different than my own.
As life does, though, it all caught up and I found even the escape to be nearly overwhelming. I was focusing on everything I left at home when I was abroad, making it impossible to even enjoy the times I had wandering around a new country with new people. That’s why I’ve decided to tuck away my passport and plant my feet firmly on the ground. At least for the next few weeks. What next year will bring nobody knows, but I know one thing – Chicago has my heart and I’m enjoying every second exploring this incredibly vibrant and beautiful city of mine.
Creamy Squash & Carrot Soup
Serves 4 – 6. Recipe adapted from Food Network.
Prep time: 15 minutes.
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 butternut squash, chopped
- 1/2 acorn squash, chopped
- 3 cups broccoli florets
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 1 scallion, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper**
- 5 carrots, shredded and chopped
- 15 ounce can chick peas, drained
- 1 can (14 ounce) low-fat coconut milk
- 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 cup water
- Salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (or other nuts)
- French bread, cooked and cut into bite-size pieces
**optional. I added it for heat, but you can omit.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line two large cookie sheets with foil. Place the squash and broccoli on the sheet (evenly distributed). Toss with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil. Roast for about 20 – 25 minutes, stopping to toss the vegetables after 10 minutes. You want the vegetables to be fork tender.
- Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the shallots and scallions and cook for about a minute. Mix in the ginger, garlic and crushed red pepper, heat for about another minute. Add in the carrots and cook until just softened, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add in the chick peas, coconut milk, vegetable broth and water. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes.
- Mix in the 3/4 of the squash, saving about a one cup for the garnish. Cook for another 5 – 10 minutes, or until warm. Remove from heat. With either a tabletop blender or immersion blender, blend the soup until creamy. Serve with a handful of broccoli florets, remaining squash, pumpkin seeds and crispy bread.
Nutritional information per serving:
Fat: 16 grams
Carbohydrates: 48.45 grams
Fiber: 13.4 grams
Protein: 10.5 grams
These peanut butter and banana overnight oats are an easy breakfast for busy weeknights!
Remember that time I wrote an entire post about how much I loved peanut butter and then the whole thing disappeared into the deep dark abyss that is the Chinese wifi system? Oh, WELL if it seems like news to you, it’s because it just happened last week. Before we get into a brief rant about Chinese internet, I do want to discuss the day I had the moment I got back. In case you were feeling a little off about yours, let me regale you with the total complete s&$%storm that was mine.
For one, I spent 20 hours in airports and on airplanes. Two, when I landed in Chicago, the airline kind of just “misplaced” my bag for an hour. It had made it to O’hare, it was just missing for a little bit. Decided to step out for a PSL or something. Back to the flight for a second, it was BRUTAL. I couldn’t sleep or get comfortable and the person next to me found it fun to squeeze on top of me. Literally. So, after I got my runaway bag, I hopped on the train for the 45 minute commute to my airbnb.
The train in Chicago is great. It’s almost always on time, super cheap and really easy to navigate. So, I checked my phone (in a massively sleep deprived state) for the closest stop to where I was staying and it told me Clark/Lake. Now, I thought to myself “Clark/Lake is downtown, not River North. But, my phone wouldn’t lie!” Fun fact. It did. The stop was, in fact, 40 minutes away from where I was staying. And Chicago decided to go from 245,345 degrees to 10 in the span of 4 days so I was massively underdressed.
The fun doesn’t stop there, though! When I landed in China on Tuesday, my phone had decided it hated having battery and told me instead that it needs a new one. Basically, my phone now goes from 100% charged to 43% in less than 10 minutes. So, after schelping on the train, I find a Starbucks to charge my phone for a minute so I can Uber my exhausted face to this airbnb. I order a PSL (BASIC.COM) and just as I was about to pay, the phone shuts down and I have to plead with the barista to hold while I charged it to pay.
Then, for some reason unbeknownst to me, that Starbucks decided to close at 4:30pm on a Saturday, so I’m rushing out to catch an Uber and I drop my phone on the ground, something I’ve done about a million and one times. Except this time? The screen shattered. Like, giant crack across the screen and about a million hairline cracks at the top and bottom of both corners.
I finally got to the airbnb and promptly fell asleep, sitting upright, for 3 hours before my boyfriend came over with a bottle of wine (he’s literally the best person on the planet, more on that soon). So yeah, that was my day in a nutshell. Thankfully, after a hug, a few tears and a few more glasses of wine, all was fixed. So, those are the days you’d want these overnight oats in your fridge. Because those are the days you’d eat cereal and wine for dinner.
Peanut Butter & Banana Overnight Oats
Serves about 4.
Prep time: >10 minutes
Chill time: 5+ hours
- 1 cup low-fat milk (can use soy, almond or coconut)
- 1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
- 2 cups Quaker rolled oats
- 3 tablespoons chia seeds
- 2 tablespoons ground flax seed
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 large bananas, smashed
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- In a large bowl, whisk the milk and yogurt together. Add in the oats, chia seeds, flax seed, honey, peanut butter, smashed banana, chopped walnuts and vanilla extract. Stir to combine.
- Pour the mixture into a large mason jar and seal. Chill in the fridge overnight, or for at least 5 hours. Serve chilled or warm with chopped walnuts and bananas as garnish.
Nutritional information per serving (about 1/2 cup):
Fat: 15.5 grams
Carbohydrates: 35.25 grams
Fiber: 8.2 grams
Protein: 16.75 grams
Welcome Autumn with a big batch of this warm and cozy spicy chicken, vegetable and noodle soup!
As I’m writing this, the ship I’m on is plunging to and fro in waves that roar over 3 meters above the surface of the freezing Atlantic Ocean. Although the movement is sporadic and ravenous, it’s also a little contrived. As soon as we rise above after hitting one, we plunder back into the icy waters. The rhythmic motions haven’t left me seasick, but instead feeling incredibly at peace. The solitude the ocean brings, even when you’re amongst 125 other people, is like therapy to a writer.
Don’t get me wrong, at first, the movements are jarring. You find yourself being thrown around and completely off-kilter. Something happens to you when you lose your balance. In a way, you lose your mind. However, when you let it kind of consume you, you fall into the movements of the waves and it all starts to feel normal, natural even.
There’s truly no place I’d rather be than on the water. Maybe it’s because I grew up with a lake as my playground. I’d spend every waking second I could at my cottages on Lake Erie. I’d swim, sail, boat, jet-ski – if it was on the water, you can believe I was there. I think that’s why I feel so at peace when I can see the glisten of the sun against a body of water.
However, that being said, the charms of rocking back and forth for 40+ hours are starting to fade. As my new British friend on board would say, it quickly sends you into a spiral of madness. As much as I love the water, not having my feet firmly planted on dry land for the better part of 3 days is a bit jarring, and I’m actually craving solid ground in a way I didn’t think I would. I always prided myself on having strong sea legs, but there’s even a limit to my love of water and I *might* just be reaching it. Thankfully land is on the horizon and a hike is calling my name this afternoon.
Sailing, boats and Fjords aside, let’s briefly talk about this bowl of cozy heaven in front of you. Chicken soup is an institution in my house, and even though I’m a vegetarian now, I’ll always remember the feelings of comfort it brought me whenever I was feeling sick, sad, down, blue or cold. Everyone has a version of this soup, and I’ve got quite a few (one with green tea, a classic and a kicked up Mexican version). This one, though, is a little different. It’s a blend of standard chicken noodle with hearty vegetable.
This is a real “stick to your guts” kind of soup without add any extra weight at all. The noodles, which are homemade, add energy boosting carbs, while the chicken and mushrooms give you a healthy dose of protein. The broth, which is kicked up with a bit of jalapeno, is made with heaps of herbs to help fight away seasonal colds. It’s a jack of all trades, much like myself.
The best part? It’s easy as sin, keeping with the theme of this week. The only laborious part, of course, are the noodles, but you can easily make those (with this rustic recipe or recipe with spinach) or buy them at the store. Whatever fits your schedule do it. Just know that after one spoonful of this healthy, delicious soup and you’ll too be transported to your happy place. Whether that’s on the water like me. on a beach, in front of a roaring fire or next to a mountain.
Spicy Chicken, Vegetable & Noodle Soup
Serves about 8. Pasta recipe from The Little Kitchen.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 60+ minutes
Total time: About 80 minutes
For the soup:
- 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 12 ounces baby bell mushrooms, sliced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped & seeded
- 1 large zucchini, sliced and then quartered
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 3 cans (about 14 1/2 ounces each) low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes (not drained)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 whole roasted chicken, cooked and shredded (can sub in rotisserie chicken if you’d like)
- Few sprigs of fresh thyme
- Few sprigs of fresh rosemary
- Few springs of fresh sage
- Fresh parsley, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Bean sprouts for garnish
- Cilantro for garnish
For the noodles:
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs
- 2 – 4 tablespoons water
- To make the pasta, place the flours, salt, eggs and water into the bowl of a standing mixer. Turn on medium and start mixing until fully combined. Note, if the dough is too dry, add additional water, but in teaspoon increments. After about 2 – 3 minutes of mixing, attach the dough hook. Mix for about 2 minutes. Then remove the dough from the bowl and place on a very floured surface. Using your hands, knead until soft and elastic. Cover with a damp cloth and let rest for about 5 – 10 minutes.
- Once rested, cut the dough into chunks. Fit your KitchenAid with a pasta making roller attachment. Using a rolling pin, roll out one chunk of dough at a time (careful to keep the other dough covered so it doesn’t dry out between use). Carefully push the rolled out dough through the roller. I did this about 3 times to get a very smooth and thin sheet of pasta. Once you’re happy with the thickness, attach the spaghetti and fettuccine attachment. Carefully push the rolled out pasta through that until you get strands.
- Using a pasta drying rack, dry the pasta noodles until ready to use.
- To make the soup, heat the olive oil over medium high head. Add the onions and cook for about 2 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook for about one minute. Add the butter and stir in the mushrooms, zucchini, carrots, celery, jalapeno and bell pepper. Cook on medium heat for about 3 minutes, or until the vegetables start to tenderize.
- Gradually add in the broth, diced tomatoes and lime juice, stirring well. Mix in the fresh herbs and salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 8 – 12 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Add in the chicken and simmer another 2 – 4 minutes.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta in batches and cook until al-dente. Rinse in cold water and add to the large bowl of soup or serve separately. Add some bean sprouts & cilantro for garnish and enjoy!
Nutritional information per serving (about 1 cup of soup):
Fat: 3.8 grams
Carbohydrates: 12 grams
Fiber: .5 grams
Protein: 3.5 grams
This easy, cheesy crock pot tortellini is the ultimate fall comfort food dish. Plus, it practically makes itself!
It’s hard to believe how many people quickly turned from “SUMMER BERRIES! TOMATOES! ALL THE ZUCCHINI!” to “PUMPKIN SPICE EVERYTHING!” as soon as Labor Day passed. Trust me, I get it. I’m a basic b who loves all things fall too. (You should see the extensive collection of scarves, boots and cardigans I own, it’s uncomfortable). But, as I said here in this berry frozen yogurt post, I’m not a fan of wishing away seasons while we’re still in them.
However, I am a fan of cheesy and hearty carbohydrates, and for that, I’m happy #winteriscoming.
I mean, look at all that cheese! I’m pretty sure this photo was why the heart-eyed emoji was created.
As excited as I am for fall and winter, I’m also a *little* stressed. As crazy as summer was for travel (just look at my Instagram), fall and winter are going to be even busier. I’m currently floating in the middle of the Arctic sea in Greenland, and from here, I go to China, Spain, Chile, Argentina, Peru, Australia, Mexico, Belize and then Nepal. Just reading all of those countries has me in a dizzy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m completely thrilled at the prospect of visiting so many new-to-me places and revisiting places I’ve fell in love with, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t completely bummed to miss my favorite season in its peak.
That’s the life, though, of an intrepid and adventurous travel writer and I’ll never complain about the life I’m blessed (and have worked HARD) to have. It’s actually these insanely busy months that make the moments at home even more meaningful. Plus, after 8+ weeks of eating out for every meal, there’s nothing that tastes better than something you’ve made yourself.
I have this routine when I get back from a trip. First, I do all of my laundry (self explanatory), cuddle the heck out of my dog, spend a few hours catching up with my mom and then immediately get to meal prepping and planning. I write down every single dish I’ve dreamt about making when on the road and then immediately start planning a grocery list. When your ilfe is so void of any sort of normalcy, there’s nothing more exciting than going to a grocery store, shopping for food and then making the dishes you’ve spent the past 8 weeks dreaming about.
Like this easy, cheesy tortellini. Even though it’s not fancy or complicated, it’s homemade. And when you’re on the road for weeks on end, nothing is more comforting than a taste of home.
Easy, Cheesy Crock Pot Tortellini
Serves about 4.
Prep time: 5 – 8 minutes
Cook time: 7 hours
- 1 pound ground turkey or chicken*
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 2 cups marinara sauce (homemade or store bought)
- 1 1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced
- 1 cup chopped red and green bell pepper
- 1 can diced tomatoes (I used fire-roasted Italian), drained
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 package (9 ounces) tortellini (you can even make your own if you’re feeling brave)
- Salt and pepper
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, chopped
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
- Fresh basil chopped
**Can substitute soy-based meat or tempeh if you’d like.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground meat and break up with a spatula. Add Italian seasoning. Cook, stirring occasionally, until meat is golden brown and crumbly. Remove from heat and drain the fat.
- Spray the bottom of a 4 – 5 quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix the meat, marinara, mushrooms, bell peppers, diced tomatoes, onion and garlic together. Mix in the tortellini and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Cover and cook on low for about 6 1/2 – 7 hours, stirring occasionally. Add in the chopped mozzarella and parmesan and cook an additional 30 – 40 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Garnish with fresh basil and serve.
Nutritional information per serving:
Fat: 26.5 grams
Carbohydrates: 61 grams
Fiber: 3.2 grams
Protein: 37 grams
These deconstructed pulled pork carnitas plates are an easy, low carb weeknight dinner idea!
*NOTE: This recipe was made and tested before I became a vegetarian. Although I don’t eat meat anymore, I plan on sharing a few more meat-centric dishes that were made during that timeframe. Please see options in the recipe if you want to make these vegetarian!
Since taking almost a full year off food blogging, I’ve acquired *a few* recipes in my arsenal that I just never shared. Even though I wasn’t updating this little piece of the internet, I was still cooking, recipe testing and, well, eating of course. Travel, life changes, a move and a focus on my career just made it hard to share them as soon as I made them. But, lucky for you, I’ve got all of these mouthwatering recipes written up and re-tested so I can bring them to your faces IMMEDIATELY.
Like these deconstructed pulled pork plates. I originally got the idea for these after noshing on amazing pulled pork tacos from a joint in Charleston. Weighing a solid 35 pounds more than I do now, I was really trying to lose weight and be more conscience of what I was putting in my body. Which for me at the time meant low-carb. Now that I’m doing HIIT workouts 6 times a week, carbs have become my best friend. But for a girl who didn’t move and could barely run a mile a year ago, carbs were the devil’s work. Which is where these plates came to fruition.
I actually remade these last week and my family ate them EXACTLY as pictured – no tortillas or crispy taco shells in sight. Just meat and veggies with a bit of rice. My little brother, who is basically a body builder in training, demolished 3 plates of these in a sitting. And I can’t blame him! They’re loaded with protein and naturally low in carbs, things he absolutely needs for his 360 pound squat workouts.
Not only are they healthy (and good for you), they’re pretty darn beautiful, don’t you think? Even though I’m a strict vegetarian, I can still appreciate the beauty a nicely cooked collection of meat can bring to a plate. The pork was cooked so simply – in a crock pot with just a few select spices. You cook on low for 8 hours and then the meat just falls apart when you shred it with two forks. Plus, the recipe makes HEAPS – so you can easily stash some away for later and stuff into a sandwich or mix with pasta.
To round out the meal, I’d suggest pairing it with some homemade cilantro brown rice. Or just eat three plates of it like my little brother did and immediately go squat 6,000 pounds. I mean, whatever floats your boat.
***To make these vegetarian, sub the pork for crispy baked tofu!
Deconstructed Pulled Pork Carnitas Plates
Pork yields about 12 servings. This recipe makes about 4 – 6 plates.
Prep time: 15 – 20 minutes
Cook time: 6 – 8 hours (for the pork) and 15 minutes (vegetables)
For the pork: ***
- 1 5 pound pork shoulder
- 1 large red onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
- 1 habanero, seeded and chopped
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons taco seasoning (or a Mexican spice blend)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the blistered peppers:
- 2 large bell peppers, seeded and sliced
- 1 – 2 tablespoons olive oil
For the plates:
- 8 ounces cherry tomatoes, sliced
- 1 can diced chilis, drained
- 2 large sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed with a dash of salt & pepper
- 1 large red onion, chopped
- 2 avocados, seeded and diced
- 1 serving cilantro lime rice
- To make the pork, rub the oil all over the shoulder. Liberally coat the entire pork shoulder in Mexican spices. In the basin of the slow cooker, mix the red onion, garlic, jalapeño, habanero, orange juice and water together. Place the pork shoulder (fat side down) into the crock pot. Cook on low for about 8 – 9 hours, or until meat is tender (it will fall off the bone when you try to shred it with two forks). Reserve 1/2 cup of the liquid and skim the fat off the top.
- Remove the meat from the crock pot and place on a large cutting board. Using two forks, shred the meat. To serve, heat the remaining one tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/4 of the meat and drizzle with juice. Heat for about 2 – 4 minutes or until slightly crispy. Repeat until all the meat is cooked.
- For the peppers, preheat the broiler. Place the peppers on a large baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Broil for about 10 minutes, turning after 5, or until the skin are blistered (they’ll appear blackened in spots). Remove from heat.
- To make the plates, divide the pork, cherry tomatoes, blistered peppers, sweet potatoes, onion, avocado, cilantro and rice. Serve with your favorite taco seasoning, hot sauce or just a dash of salt and pepper!
Nutritional information per serving:
Fat: 22 grams
Carbohydrates: 45 grams
Fiber: 4.2 grams
Protein: 29 grams
This is, hands down, my favorite flavor profile in the entire world. This mango coconut smoothie bowl might just be my new favorite thing.
When I was in Thailand, I’d get a mango sticky rice for dessert every. single. day. See, the Thai people do it right. They don’t eat shitty desserts filled with preservatives or sugar, they eat all natural desserts made from things found in nature.
I miss Southeast Asia more than I can verbalize. I miss the sounds, the smells, the people. What I miss the most, tough, is the tastes. Despite the fact I got sick (from the water – NOT the food), the food I had there in the kitchens of the locals, picked up from the markets and made for us at local restaurants was some of the best I’ve ever had. Every dish was so incredible packed with flavor – fresh chiles, homegrown spices, locally sourced meats and veggies. Everything tasted like it was made with nothing but love.
Now, I know the US has an incredible food culture – I’m not doubting that. I love visiting the states and biting into every delicious morsel. Food is here is made with love, but not in the way the Thai dishes are. It’s so hard to explain and maybe someday I’ll be able to say what I actually mean.
Until then, I’ll talk about that dessert. Now, I’ve thought about recreating it for the blog about a million times. But I know it wouldn’t do the actual dessert justice. So instead, I took those exotic and refreshing flavors and turned them into something you can have for breakfast – a smoothie bowl!
Unless you’ve been living somewhere without Pinterest, you’ve probably seen the smoothie bowl craze. I’m not one to jump on bandwagons, but I just couldn’t resist. I mean, look at how frackin’ beautiful these bowls are? It’s a smoothie with added fruits and crunchy stuff. (“But I love caramel and crunchy stuff!”) Once you get over how pretty it is and stick your spoon into the thick, creamy smoothie, you’ll melt.
Or, if you’re really lucky, you’ll wake up on the white sandy beaches of Phi Phi Island.
Mango Coconut Smoothie Bowls
Serves about 2.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes
Total time: About 10 minutes
- 2 cups frozen mango chunks
- 1 medium frozen banana
- 1 – 1 1/2 cups coconut milk (I used low-fat, feel free to sub in full-fat)
- 1 tablespoon flax seed
- 1 – 2 tablespoons honey
For the toppings:
- About 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup crunchy granola
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes
- 1/2 cup mango chunks, defrosted
- Additional honey for drizzle
- Combine the mango, banana, coconut milk (start with 1 cup and add more if necessary), flax seed and honey. Pulse on high until thick and creamy.
- Pour the smoothie into two deep bowls. Top with blueberries, granola, coconut flakes, mango chunks and additional honey for sweetness. Serve immediately!
Nutritional information per serving:
Fat: 16 grams
Carbohydrates: 70 grams
Fiber: 3 grams
Protein: 7.5 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 12
I wish I could just sit here and share a new recipe with you. I wish I could talk about low fat coffee cake, crunchy apple bars and gooey caramel. But I can’t today. I have to talk about me and something I haven’t been 100% honest with you guys about.
(Image via Pinterest)
I’m not dying. I’m not getting a divorce. I’m not pregnant nor was I. As the title precludes, today we’re going to talk about something deeply personal and hard. For the past year, I’ve been facing some really hard mental demons of my own. Instead of hiding from my diagnosis anymore I’m going to sit down and talk about it frankly with you guys. I’ve been living with severe anxiety for the past year and a half, and I think I’m ready to talk about it.
People have so many misconceptions about anxiety. For one, everyone thinks they have it. My neighbor, my family members, every friend I confide in. They all believe they’re suffering from the same anxiety I face. And while I agree that everyone does face anxiety once or twice in their life, that doesn’t begin to scratch the surface at the amounts I face daily, hourly, every minute. So many people laugh when I tell them about it, saying “oh I have that too” or “exercise totally helps me” or “oh stop, everything’s fine.” My favorite though is “oh I’m sort of anxious about this and that, can I have a few of your xanaxs?”
Yes, people actually ask that. And people constantly belittle my disease saying it’s something I can just get over. Don’t you think I’d just get over it if I could? Don’t you think I would trade ANYTHING to not get physically sick when panic attacks hit or I break into a hysteria that leaves me broken? If I could just “get over it” I would have a long time ago.
I’m not here though to bad mouth people who say those things, instead, I’m going to enlighten them and hopefully open the doors for people who are going through the same thing. See mental illness, despite it being 2015, is still something that carries a bit of a stigma. Anytime a major celebrity dies from depression or suicide, this conversation comes up again and again. “Why can’t they just seek help? Why didn’t anyone try to help them?” And there are even people who don’t think depression, anxiety or any mental ailment is a real struggle, they think it’s something a few pills and some therapy can help. Well, that works for some and it doesn’t for others. No wonder so many people hide their problems and deal with their struggles behind closed doors, so many people are so quick to judge them for having these kinds of problems. In a world where we broadcast our lives on social media and are constantly trying to portray our lives as perfect, it’s hard to sit there and go “I’m not perfect, and here’s why.”
Trust me, writing this post isn’t easy for me. I struggle with so many inner demons, one of them being jealousy and inadequacy. I’m terrified of admitting that things aren’t shiny and glamorous, especially when it seems all of my friends and colleagues lead these post-card perfect lives. But I’m going to because I know I’m not the only person hiding behind the curtains, staring over at the neighbors greener lawn.
I’ve been struggling with some form of anxiety my entire life. As a kid, I was also a big worrier. My parents never saw that as a point of concern, they just noticed that I seemed to worry about everything, things 8 year olds shouldn’t worry about, like bills and college funds. As I grew up, some of that worrying faded and soon I was faced with the normal anxieties of a teenager. In college my anxiety deepened. It started to manifest itself inside of me and it scared me. Instead of talking to a therapist or confiding in my friends, I drank. I drank nonstop so I could stop feeling this constantly pull inside me that was weighing me down. Untreated anxiety can turn into many things, and my first two years of college it turned into depression. A depression I self medicated, which made things worse. A depression that finally forced me to open my eyes about my problems and find a solution.
When I transferred schools, most of my depression went away, because I started talking to my family about it. Minus one very traumatic event my junior year, my anxiety had mostly dissipated. I still had it, well after graduation, our move to DC, my first job and break into freelancing. But it was manageable. The moment it became unmanageable was the day after the fire.
The fire left me completely broken. It changed everything about my life. I couldn’t leave my apartment without having a panic attack. I couldn’t walk down the street without having a fear that I’d come home to a burnt down house. Anytime I heard a fire truck, I literally had to take deep breaths to prevent myself from breaking down in public. Every single day was a personal nightmare for me, wondering what horrible thing could happen next.
I wish I could sit here and say that moving to a safe new place and having a great year made all of my anxiety go away. I wish I could. But I can’t. My anxiety today is as severe as it was the day after the fire. I wake up every morning with a nervous pit in my stomach. From the moment I’m awake, my mind starts processing negative thoughts. I have frequent panic attacks where I feel like I can’t breathe or control myself. When I’m traveling, my thoughts are “my plane is going to crash” or “i’m going to get mugged.” People without anxiety can combat these thoughts easily by deducting odds and understanding chances. I can’t do that. My mind functions in a black and white way. It’s either this or that. I’ll either die in a fiery plane crash or I won’t. I’m constantly thinking of worst case scenarios.
There was a moment last year where my anxiety completely took over while on a trip for work and I was so worked up, I couldn’t sleep, despite an early flight the next morning. I was so panicked, not even a call with my husband could calm me down and I ended up keeping him up most of the night as well.
That was a breaking point for me, I knew I couldn’t live like that anymore and neither could my husband. As soon as I got home, I talked with my primary care doctor about medicines that could help me deal with my anxiety. She prescribed me two kinds of medicine, one for daily anxiety and one for extreme situations. And I’m happy to report that after 8 months of taking the daily pill, I feel like I finally have some of my daily anxiety managed. But it’s not gone. I’m not someone who wants to spend their life mediciated, so I’ve recently started talking with a therapist. It’s scary at first, but incredible once you completely open yourself up to them. I was reserved, but now I look forward to our meetings every week. She doesn’t judge me or make me feel like I’m crazy for the thoughts. Instead she and I find ways I can handle it without the need for panic attacks or higher dosage medication.
I know my anxiety will never go away and that’s something I just have to find a way to live with. But I do know that I can finally manage it in a way that doesn’t leave me dependent on medicine. It’s been a very hard road and very windy one, but I’m here and I’m so grateful to have the support of the people around me. And I’m grateful to you guys for listening and letting me post this. To anyone who is facing crippling anxiety or any mental illness, don’t be scared anymore. Don’t be afraid to talk about it. Don’t be a slave to your demons, conquer them.
If I can, you can. And that’s a promise.
These cinnamon sugar baked donut bites are so easy, you’ll want to make them all week long!
We’re keeping with the easy theme this week, and I’m pretty sure y’all aren’t mad about that, are you? With back to school in full swing, the seasons changing and the stress, I mean excitement, of upcoming holidays, easy is something we all need a little bit more of.
Especially when it comes to donuts, which is one of the hardest things I’ve had to give up on my quest for fitness. Can I live without meat? Yes. Dairy? Probably. Donuts? UGHH.
The thing is, I rarely indulge in a flakey, cakey, sprinkle topped donut, but when I do, it’s like armageddon. I black out and before I come to, all of the donuts in sight are devoured and I’m in a sugar and fat induced coma that’s nearly impossible to shake. Maybe it’s because as a kid, I’d enjoy donuts anytime I went home to see my grandparents and have such fond memories of them.
Or maybe it’s just the simple fact that they’re sweet little balls of dough that are deep-fried, dredged in glaze or chocolate and often filled with an insatiable variety of creams, jellies or custards. I’ve never met a donut I didn’t like, and considering how many people I meet that I loathe, that’s saying something. I kid. Mostly. Even though I adore these baked banana nut donuts and could consume 62 of these bite-size whole wheat strawberry ones, these decadent little morsels might be my favorite yet. I feel a bit like a hack, though, because they’re not homemade at all, actually.
They’re made with biscuit dough! Doing my best Sandra Lee impersonation, I really just made these out of boredom one day. I had two rolls of biscuit dough in the fridge, enough cinnamon to coat a baby (thanks to a recent trip to India) and heaps of milk (thanks to a farmers market impulse buy). Normal people would probably bake the biscuits for dinner, but I decided to turn them into little donuts and then slather then in a cream cheese cinnamon roll icing glaze.
You could omit the glaze, but why would you? Only truly terrible people would do that, and none of you lovely folks fit that category. So just don’t, okay?
Cinnamon Sugar Baked Donut Bites
Yields about 12 – 16 donut holes, depending on size. Recipe adapted from Pillsbury.
Prep time: >8 minutes
Cook time: About 18 minutes
For the donuts:
- 1 can (16.3 ounces) buttermilk biscuit dough (I used the reduced-fat version)
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/3 cup butter
For the glaze:
- 4 ounces low-fat cream cheese
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a cast iron skillet with nonstick cooking spray. (Note, you can also use an 8 x 8 round cake pan or a 9 x 13 glass baking dish as well).
- Remove the biscuits from the canister. Using your hands or a knife, break each biscuit apart into two or four pieces (depending on how big you want the bites to be).
- Melt the butter in a microwave for about 30 seconds (at 100% power). Whisk the cinnamon and the brown sugar together.
- Using a fork or your hands, dip the dough bites into butter and then cover liberally in the cinnamon brown sugar dusting. Place into the skillet. If you want, you can place them further apart to make separate bites, or do as I did and lump them together. This gives you almost a pull apart doughnut cake in the end.
- Bake for about 16 – 18 minutes, or until golden brown.
- While the bites cool, make the icing. In a mixing bowl fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese, sugar, butter, almond extract and vanilla extract. While the bites are still warm, drizzle the glaze over them (or pour liberally, your call). Garnish with chopped nuts and enjoy!
Nutritional information per serving (about 2 bites):
Fat: 12.5 grams
Carbohydrates: 42 grams
Fiber: >1 gram
Protein: 4.2 grams
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SimplyAvocado #CollectiveBias These Mexican spiced mushroom caps are the ultimate football snack or easy weeknight dinner!
Tis the season for eating your body weight in cookies, butter and all things candy. My mom and her best friend are spending the entire weekend making cookies, and I’m actually a little worried about the amount of butter and sugar I’m going to consume in the span of 48 hours. Which is why I’m cutting the sugar and fat with things like these WHOLLY® SIMPLY AVOCADO™ Mexican spiced mushroom caps.
I mean, sure, there’s a hearty amount of cheese sitting atop these, but in my mind, it’s still healthier than spoon-feeding myself softened butter mixed with brown sugar. The problem with holidays for me is that I get so feverish trying to get all the cookies, sweets and breads baked (for holiday gifts and this little blog), that I completely forget to make actual dinner. By 4pm, I’m covered in flour and chocolate and haven’t eaten a vegetable or lean protein the entire day. As a healthy food blogger (and slightly functioning adult), that’s probably not the best plan of attack.
That’s why I love these cheesy, spiced and oh-so-delicious stuffed mushroom caps. For one, they take less than 40 minutes to make, start to finish. Two, they’re filled with good for you ingredients, like brown rice, fresh vegetables and this SIMPLY AVOCADO™ dip. Honestly, I love avocados but sometimes I love not having to pit, scoop and squash. Somedays (like this holiday season), I just want the dip to already been in dip form so I can stick my face, er spoon, directly into it. The easiest part? You can buy these at Walmart (while you holiday shop) and can sample both flavors – sea salt and garlic herb. I couldn’t be trusted with the sea salt, it wasn’t a pretty sight.
As much as I love to just snack on it, I have to say the addition of this avocado dip makes these mushrooms. It adds such a creamy taste and adds a good dose of healthy fat. Which is good considering there’s about a pound of cheese laying beneath it. But that’s neither here nor there.
Mexican Spiced Mushroom Caps
Serves about 8.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: About 30 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
- 4 large portobello mushroom caps
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 medium red onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced and chopped
- 1/2 large red bell pepper, chopped
- 3/4 cup cooked brown rice
- 1 tablespoon Mexican seasoning
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup cheddar cheese
- 1 package SIMPLY AVOCADO™ dip
- 1/2 cup pico de gallo
- Fresh cilantro for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking dish or two smaller ones with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- De-stem the mushroom caps and scoop out the gills and some of the insides of the mushrooms so you can stuff them. Rinse out the mushroom caps and dry.
- Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the red onion and garlic, cooking until lightly softened. Add the pepper and cook for about 4 minutes, or until softened. Stir in the brown rice and mix with the Mexican seasoning and salt and pepper.
- Stuff the mushroom caps with the rice mixture. Top each cap with 1/4 cup cheese. Place in the prepared baking dishes and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.
- Let cool slightly, top with pico de gallo, the avocado and garnish with cilantro. Serve with cracked black pepper.
Nutritional information per serving (1/2 mushroom cap)
Fat: 7.25 grams
Carbohydrates: 7.75 grams
Fiber: 2.1 grams
Protein: 4.25 grams