Archive for October, 2011


Pumpkin Chocolate (or White) Chip Oatmeal Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened (or 1/4 cup canola oil and 1/4 cup butter)
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup white or semi-sweet chocolate chunks or chips
1/2 cup macadamia nuts or pumpkin seeds, chopped (optional)


  1. Cream the butter and sugars in a bowl.
  2. Beat in the egg, pumpkin puree and vanilla extract.
  3. Mix the flour, baking soda and salt in another bowl.  Mix the dry ingredients into the wet.
  4. Mix in the rolled oats, white chocolate and nuts, if using.
  5. Place the dough onto a cookie sheet one tablespoon at a time.
  6. Bake in a 350 degree F preheated oven for 8-14 minutes. (Note: The bake time can vary a bit in this recipe depending on how much liquid there is in the pumpkin.)

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Every now and again the whole-grain, low-sugar, butter-free-recipe lover in me longs for a white-flour-based, sugary, and buttery indulgence.  (Hallelujah sings my husband.)  With a bevy of gelato, sorbet, and French cookies and pastries available to us through my mother-in-law’s stores, I’m often left desiring the simple bakery-style muffins and breads my Mom and Dad would bring home as treats when I was a child.  When my Mom baked, which was rare, it was more-often-than-not a cheesecake or a banana bread.  Thinking of her today, I settled on this recipe.

This banana bread is light in flavor and color, but extremely moist from the addition of buttermilk.  It reminds me of a banana pound cake because of the rich, buttery crumb.  Satisfying and decadent, it’s perfect as a snack or breakfast.

Bakery-Style Buttermilk Banana Bread, recipe and tips from Whipped



1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 large, ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup butter, melted


  1. Grease and flour loaf pans. The original recipe called for two 7 x 3 inch loaf pans but Steph prefers four mini loaf pans. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together flour, soda, salt and sugar. Mix in the slightly beaten eggs and mashed bananas. Slowly stir in the melted butter just until incorporated. Pour into prepared pans. Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center. If you use the mini loaf pans, adjust to about 30 minutes. Just take a peek and if the top is starting to brown and looks cooked, try the toothpick to test for doneness. Let cool in pans for 5 minutes then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

Additional Thoughts:
– Banana size varies drastically. Today I used the largest I have used in the past and the bread was so moist and flavorful. If you have really small bananas, add an extra half.
– What is a ripe banana? Well, I like mine almost all brown with some specs of yellow. Once I used all brown and it smelled a bit like alcohol. I think they were fermenting and on their way to banana liqueur.
– Mash bananas well with a potato masher or fork but leave some small chunks. Don’t go all the way to baby food consistency.
– Do NOT over mix this batter. I would not use an electric mixer – just a few circles of the wrist while incorporating the ingredients.
– Do NOT overbake. The moist, banana-y center should be soft and crumbly.
– Let the bread cool completely before storing. The edges and outside will get sticky and icky if you wrap it or put it in a ziploc too soon

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Chicken Spinach Burgers

A healthier, lighter burger that is packed with nutrition and flavor.  Ground chicken is simply moistened with colorful vegetables and carmelized onions.  With a pinch of salt, pepper, and garlic (cayenne, too, if heat is what you crave), this burger comes together quickly for a delicious family favorite.  Really, FHE says it is one of the best burgers in our dinner roundup.  Bread them in a little panko, if you wish, and they are unbeatable.

If you don’t have ground chicken, ground turkey makes a great substitute. 

Chicken Spinach Burgers


1/3 10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach (this time we used half spinch, half grated zucchini)
1 carrot, grated
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 package ground chicken (most packages are 1 1/4 lbs.)
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 small onion, sliced
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
cooking spray or additional olive oil
panko breadcrumbs, for breading (optional)
sliced cheese, avocado, tomato, lettuce, for serving (optional)
4 burger buns (we used this recipe)


  1. Prepare spinach according to package directions. Allow to cool and, using a tea towel, sieve, or just your hands, squeeze any excess water from half of the spinach and set aside.
  2. In the meantime, in a large skillet on medium low heat, add the olive oil, sliced onions, and a healthy pinch of kosher salt. Cook the onions, stirring regularly, until brown and caramelized, about 35 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl to cool.
  3. In a mixing bowl, add the cooled spinach, cooled onions, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and ground chicken. Work the mixture with your hands until everything is thoroughly distributed. Portion the mixture into fourths, and make into 3/4 inch thick patties.  Coat in breadcrumbs, if desired.
  4. Spray your skillet lightly with cooking spray, or add 1-2 tsp. of olive oil to prevent the burgers from sticking. On medium high heat, cook the burgers until cooked the entire way through, about 6 minutes per side. Top with a slice of cheese (optional), etc. Serve immediately.

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Cajun Pasta

While visiting the Pioneer Woman’s website recently, I came across her beautiful pictures for chicken cajun pasta.  I’ve adapted it to suit our tastes by adding more vegetables and using less cream and butter, but the basic flavors of her recipe are delicious.  Colorful and inviting, this pasta dish is full of zesty, spicy flavor. 

Cajun Pasta, adapted from Pioneer Woman

Note:  I added my own mix of vegetables, including shredded red cabbage, spinach, and carrots.  Anything will work here.  Same goes for the protein.  The sauce is equally delicious without any dairy (stock-based gravy).


3 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Cut Into Cubes or any protein (I used chicken sausage and grilled, sliced porkloin)
3 teaspoons Cajun Spice Mix, More To Taste
1 pound Fettuccine
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 whole Green Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
1 whole Red Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
1/2 whole Large Red Onion, Sliced
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
4 whole Roma Tomatoes, Diced
2 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1/2 cup White Wine
1 cup Heavy Cream (I used reduced-fat milk)
Cayenne Pepper To Taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
Salt To Taste
Chopped Fresh Parsley, To Taste


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun spice over chicken pieces. Toss around to coat. Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy skillet over high heat. Add half the chicken in a single layer; do not stir. Allow chicken to brown on one side, about 1 minute. Flip to the other side and cook an additional minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a clean plate.
  3. Repeat with remaining chicken. Remove chicken, leaving pan on high heat.
  4. Add remaining olive oil and butter. When heated, add peppers, onions, and garlic. Sprinkle on remaining Cajun spice, and add salt if needed. Cook over very high heat for 1 minute, stirring gently and trying to get the vegetables as dark/black as possible. Add tomatoes and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Remove all vegetables from the pan.
  5. With the pan over high heat, pour in the wine and chicken broth. Cook on high for 3 to 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Reduce heat to medium-low and pour in cream, stirring/whisking constantly. Cook sauce over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until cream starts to thicken the mixture. Taste and add freshly ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, and/or salt to taste. Sauce should be spicy!
  6. Finally, add chicken and vegetables to sauce, making sure to include all the juices that have drained onto the plate. Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until mixture is bubbly and hot. Add drained fettuccine and toss to combine.
  7. Top with chopped fresh parsley

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Whole Wheat Challah

A healthier, whole grain spin on the classic Jewish braided bread.  Whole wheat pastry flour allows the bread to retain a light texture, while adding a deeper color and flavor.  But I have to say, there is nothing like “real” challah….

Whole Grain Challah, from King Arthur Flour

1/2 cup lukewarm water (or more)
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 cups unbleached bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

  1. Combine all of the ingredients and mix and knead them—by hand, mixer, or bread machine—until you have a soft, smooth dough. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 1 to 2 hours, or until it’s puffy and nearly doubled in bulk.
  2. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) a baking sheet.
  3. Gently deflate the dough, and transfer it to a lightly greased work surface. Divide it into three equal pieces, shape each piece into a rough log, cover the pieces, and let them rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Roll each piece of dough into an 18-inch rope. Place the three pieces of dough side by side on the prepared pan, and braid them, squeezing the ends together, then tucking them neatly underneath. Cover the braid gently with lightly greased plastic wrap or a proof cover, and allow it to rise for about 1 hour, until it’s puffy, but not doubled in bulk. Near the end of the bread’s rise, preheat the oven to 375°F.
  5. Uncover and bake the bread for 20 minutes, tent it with foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes, until it’s a deep, golden brown, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 190°F. Remove it from the oven, and after a minute or so carefully transfer it to a rack. Cool the bread to lukewarm before cutting it.

Variation: For sesame seed challah, reserve about 2 teaspoons egg white from the eggs in the dough. Combine it with 2 teaspoons water, and whisk until smooth. Gently brush this mixture on the risen challah just before baking, and sprinkle with sesame seeds

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Pot Pie Crumble

With a sick, lethargic toddler at my side, I was struggling to whip up a quick dinner for FHE and myself.  (I knew Rice Kernel wouldn’t be eating with us.)  Not in the mood for FHE’s go-to, quick stirfry, I opened the fridge and found half a roasted chicken.  Pot pie, right?  That was my first thought.  But I wasn’t too interested in preparing and rolling out a crust.  I recalled this “crumble” concept and decided to give it a whirl. 

The parmesan-flour crust (almost biscuit-like) is an addictive and unexpected savory twist on the traditional pie crust.  It comes together quickly and leftovers make delicious soup-dippers.  Crunchy and savory, it’s a great way to soak up the creamy pie filling.

Pot Pie Crumble, inspired by Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

1 recipe, lightened chicken pot pie filling, here

Crumble Topping Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour (or white whole wheat or half whole wheat, half AP)
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup heavy cream (I used low-fat milk)

  1. Prepare chicken pot pie filling.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Sprinkle the chilled butter pieces over the top of the flour. Using your fingers or a pastry cutter, rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Add the cream and stir until just combined. Crumble the mixture into irregularly shaped pieces onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake the crumble topping until fragrant and starting to brown, about 15 minutes, tossing halfway through. Set aside.
  4. Pour the filling mixture into a 9×13 pan. Scatter the crumble topping evenly over the filling. Place the 9X13-inch pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees until the topping is well browned, about 15-20 minutes. Let the casserole stand for 10 minutes before serving

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Baked Potato Wedges

I’m embarassed/shocked this is a recipe – so simple to prepare, it’s one of the best side dishes (or snacks!) I know.  A healthier, more substantial cousin of the french fry, no one can resist these!

Baked Potato Wedges, from Ina Garten


4 large baking potatoes, unpeeled
4 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic, optional
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves (optional – or any other herb)

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Scrub the potatoes, cut them in half lengthwise, then cut each half in thirds lengthwise. You’ll have 6 long wedges from each potato. Place the potatoes on a sheet pan with the olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and rosemary. With clean hands, toss all the ingredients together, making sure the potatoes are covered with oil. Spread the potatoes in a single layer with 1 cut-side down.
  3. Bake the potatoes for 30 to 35 minutes, turning to the other cut side after 20 minutes. Bake until they are lightly browned, crisp outside, and tender inside. Sprinkle with salt and serve

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