Monday, April 29, 2013

Healthier Baked Oatmeal

It is that time of the month again.  It is Secret Recipe Club reveal day!  Every month, the bloggers in the Secret Recipe Club, are assigned the blog of one of the other members to explore.  After browsing our match's site secretly, we each pick a recipe, make it, photograph it, and share it with you on reveal day.

This month, I was assigned Making Miracles, a blog written by Rebekah, to share both her journey as a surrogate and her love of cooking.  I have to admit that I didn't know much about surrogacy, but if you are ever curious, Rebekah shares her experiences, the highs, lows, and everything you'd ever want to know. She also has a blog packed with tons, and I mean tons, of delicious recipes!  I know that I say this every month, but again it was difficult to choose just one!

In the end, I decided to make baked oatmeal.  It is something that I have wanted to make for a long time, because I've always been drawn to its convenience and my idea that it must taste like a big oatmeal cookie.  Now, who wouldn't want that for breakfast! I've also recently joined the Tone It Up community, and I kept seeing baked oatmeal pop up in my Instagram feed.  I will tell you more about my TIU journey/plans tomorrow or Wednesday, but in the meantime, I will just say that because of TIU, I had to at least attempt to make Rebekah's Baked Oatmeal a tiny bit healthier.  So there is a bit of extra protein in there and coconut oil instead of butter.  You can also feel free to add in your own treats - nuts, coconut, fresh or dried fruit - there are tons of options!

Oh and the verdict, this definitely tastes like oatmeal cookies for breakfast. It is a winner!

Healthier Baked Oatmeal

Adapted from Making Miracles

3 cups oatmeal
½ cup brown sugar (I might cut this down to 1/3 or even 1/4 cup next time, as I prefer mine less sweet)
½ cup coconut oil (melted)
2 scoops vanilla protein powder (optional, my scoop is 30 grams)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups skim milk (almond, coconut, or soy would work too)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped raw pecans (optional)
1/4 cup toasted coconut (optional)
2 tablespoons ground flax seed (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Mix all of the ingredients together, stirring well until completely combined.  The mixture will be quite "soupy."

Pour the batter into a greased casserole dish (mine was round, 8 inches across).

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the center is set.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Flatbread Pizza

Buffalo Chicken Flatbread Pizza recipe

If you love Buffalo chicken anything as much as I do, you may want to go make these flatbread pizzas immediately.  I don't know why I never thought to put Buffalo chicken with cheese, but I'm glad that I finally did it.  These pizzas are spicy and full of gooey melted cheese.

Find someone to share these with, because the pizza is quite addictive and you may find yourself caving to your cravings for another 3 slices.  I can't think of anyone who might do that. (Me. The answer is me. Oops!)

Okay, I promised a life update and to be honest, there is a too much to tell you.  This week has been crazy busy, but I will have time to sit down this weekend and write a full post.

I'm also going to do an update to the K&K Test Kitchen Facebook page this weekend too, so stay tuned for that!  Please hold me accountable.  Someone tweet me or comment here or on Facebook if the page still looks the same Monday.  Call me out.  Okay, thanks. Haha.

Buffalo Chicken Flatbreads

Adapted slightly from Simply Scratch

2/3 cup Frank's Red Hot sauce
2 tablespoons Unsalted Butter
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 Naan flatbreads
1 cup skim mozzerella cheese
2 cups shredded, cooked chicken
2 tablespoons blue cheese, crumbled
Green onions or cilantro, to top the pizza

In a small sauce pan, over low heat, combine the Frank's, butter, salt and pepper. Whisk until butter is melted.

Preheat your oven to 425°F and lightly spray a rimmed aluminum baking sheet with cooking spray.

Place the two naan flatbreads on the sheet pan and then spoon on desired amount of buffalo sauce on to both (this is your "sauce"). Then top each with shredded cooked chicken, shredded Mozzerella cheese and sprinkle with the crumbled blue cheese. Drizzle a little bit more of the buffalo sauce and save the rest for a different recipe.

Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until the naan is crispy and the cheese is melted and slightly golden brown in spots.

Remove, let cool before slicing and then top with sliced green onions.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sweet Potato Burgers with Sriracha Yogurt Sauce

Sweet Potato Burgers with Sriracha Yogurt Sauce recipe

I love these sweet potato burgers.  Even more, I love Greek yogurt mixed with Sriracha.  I could dip anything in that sauce.  The combination of the burgers and the Sriracha yogurt sauce is something close to taste bud heaven.  These "burgers" make a satisfying meatless meal and while a bit time consuming to make, the effort is definitely worth it in the end!

I'm going to do a proper life update post for Thursday this week, with another tasty recipe, but suffice it to say that I have been b-u-s-y! This weekend was the first time in a long time that I actually had time to cook (and that was because I was procrastinating from studying for my French oral exam).  The weekend ahead will also include some good cooking and relaxation, but then chaos will take over again.  How do you stay on track, eating right and cooking at home, when you are busy??

Sweet Potato Burgers with Sriracha Yogurt Sauce

Sweet Potato Burgers with Sriracha Yogurt Sauce

Adapted from Will Cook for Friends
Makes 8-10 burgers

2 large sweet potatoes (about 2 lbs.), cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup black beans, drained*
1 cup sweet corn*
3/4 cup quinoa, cooked
1/2 cup rolled oats
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin chili powder
1/2 tsp. oregano
Sea salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons Sriracha (more or less to your taste)
1/3 cup 2% plain Greek yogurt


Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Cube the sweet potatoes, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Place the sweet potatoes on a  parchment lined baking sheet. Roast for 25 minutes, turning once or twice during cooking.

While the sweet potatoes roast, cook the quinoa. (I made 1 cup dry quinoa, and saved the rest.)  Add the quinoa to a small pot over medium heat, and let it toast for a minute or two. Add double the amount of water, bring to a simmer, and cover. Let cook 12-13 minutes, turn off the heat, and let it sit without removing the lid for another 5 minutes.

Add the oats to the bowl of your food processor and pulse until it looks like very coarse flour.

In a large bowl, combine about 2/3rds of the beans and 2/3rds of the sweet potato. Mash with a potato masher until slightly chunky and not quite smooth. Add in the rest of the beans, sweet potato, corn, cooked quinoa, oatmeal flour, and the seasonings. Give it another mash or two, keeping some of the texture.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add a drizzle of oil. Form about 1/2 cup of the mixture into a tight ball, then press it between your hands into a patty. Place patties in the hot skillet and cook 4-5 minutes per side. Remove to a plate in the oven to keep warm, and repeat with the rest of the mixture.  Add oil and adjust the heat on the pan as needed.

Mix together Greek yogurt and Sriracha, serve over the sweet potato burgers with avocado slices!

*Save the leftover black beans, corn, and quinoa to make a mini-version of this salad!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Apricot Breakfast Bars

Apricot Breakfast Bars recipe

You absolutely have to make these breakfast bars.  Go to the store right now.  Buy a bunch of bananas.  Let them sit on your counter until they are starting to brown.  Don't touch them or eat them until then, trust me, it will be worth it!

Breakfast and snacks are tough.  We are often in a rush or on the go, and making healthier choices can fall by the wayside.  These bars are a little step in the right direction though!  They are packed with oats and nuts, and studded with sweet apricots and coconut.  A little bit of coconut oil and bananas keep these bars moist.  You'll want to pack one of these for a workday snack or maybe throw some in your carry-on bag for travel!

Apricot Breakfast Bars recipe

Apricot Breakfast Bars

3 cups gluten free rolled oats
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
1 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups chopped dried apricots
5 large ripe bananas
1/4 cup coconut oil (and a little extra for greasing the pan)
1/3 cup grade A maple syrup
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9x13 baking dish with coconut oil.

In a large mixing bowl combine oats, nuts, apricots, and sea salt.

In a medium mixing bowl mash bananas (use forks or a potato masher). Add coconut oil and maple syrup to the mashed bananas and stir well to combine. Pour banana mixture into bowl with oats and stir until fully mixed.

Fill pan with oat mixture and use a spatula (or the backside of a large spoon) to press mixture firmly into pan.

Bake for 35 minutes (more or less depending on your oven) until bars are lightly browned on the top.  Let cool and then slice into bars.

via A House in the Hills

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Paprika Beef Stew

Well, it is finally supposed to be nice here in Ottawa today, so it feels a bit strange to be giving you a decidedly wintry recipe today.  But at least I am posting!  You may have noticed a lack of posts around here lately.  I apologize for that and hope to make it up to you with lots of tasty treats in the coming weeks!

This recipe was originally named Goulash, but I am calling it Paprika Beef Stew, because after making it, I can confidently say that it isn't goulash.  Now, I realize that there are a lot of different interpretations of what goulash is or isn't.  Growing up my mom made us "goulash" that was ground beef and zucchini in a tomato based sauce.  That is the American version.  This recipe is closer to the Eastern European version, but it still isn't what I remembered from my trip to Prague. Of course this stew is delicious, I just don't want to confuse people who may be looking for something a bit more traditional.

Give yourself a lot of time to make this and read through the directions fully before doing so!

Paprika Beef Stew

Via the Kitchn

2 1/2 pounds boneless beef chuck (preferably chuck-eye roast or chuck tender)
4 thick-cut slices bacon, roughly chopped
Neutral cooking oil, such as canola or safflower
2 yellow onions, sliced into thin half moons
4-5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 teaspoons caraway seeds (optional)
3 tablespoons Hungarian sweet paprika
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons dried marjoram
1/2 cup dry red wine, such as Chianti or Zinfandel
3 1/2 cups good-quality beef stock
2 red bell peppers, sliced lengthwise into thin strips
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 ounces egg noodles, cooked according package directions
Sour cream, for serving

Preheat oven to 300°F.

Cut beef into 1-inch cubes. (You can place the meat in the freezer for thirty to forty minutes to make make it easier to cut. Just allow it to come to room temperature before cooking.) Thoroughly pat dry with paper towels and season generously with kosher salt and pepper.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and fry until crisp and golden, about 7-9 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, leaving the remaining fat in the pot, and set aside.

Add 1/3 of the beef cubes to the bacon fat (do not stir or disturb the meat) and cook until the bottoms are seared and deep golden brown (almost black), about 3-5 minutes. Turn beef and continue cooking until remaining sides are browned, another 3-5 minutes. Remove the beef to a separate bowl.

Allow the fat in the pan to reheat for a minute or so (and to cook out any residual meat juices before continuing. Add the next 1/3 of beef and a glug or two of oil if the pot seems dry. Repeat the searing process until all the meat is browned and set the bowl aside.

Lower the heat to medium and add a couple tablespoons oil. Add the onions and sauté, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden, about 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and caraway seeds and sauté for another minute or so. Stir in the paprika, tomato paste, and marjoram until combined.

Pour in the wine and increase heat to high. Scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to remove any leftover browned bits. Add stocks, browned beef, and reserved bacon to the pot and bring mixture to a boil. Cover and transfer to oven. Cook for 1 hour, then stir in the bell peppers. Return to the oven and continue cooking until the meat is quite tender, another 45 minutes to an hour. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle over cooked egg noodles, and serve with a big dollop of sour cream and a sprig of fresh dill. This recipe is even better made a day or two in advance. Just reheat in the same Dutch oven over medium-low to medium until warmed through.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Spice Cake with Bourbon Buttercream

Spice Cake with Bourbon Buttercream recipe

It was recently my birthday!! And I made myself a cake.  Yep.  A delicious, fancy layer cake.

Growing up, both my cousin Crystal and I really liked spice cake, and since our birthdays are only a week apart, we often had a shared celebration with our family.  Spice cake was usually our birthday cake of choice.

When I decided to make myself a true layer cake this year to celebrate my 27 years, I thought back to all those delicious cakes of my youth.  Of course, as a 27 year old, I decided that I should make this a grown-up version and that is why this cake has bourbon buttercream frosting.  (We all know about my love of bourbon.)

As I celebrate this year, not only am I thankful for this delicious cake, but I am so thankful for my amazing, loving family and all of my wonderful friends!  I recently had a bit of a personal self-realization and I am working on changing my life for the better.  For that, I can't wait to see what lies ahead.  This year is going to be a really good one and I am looking forward to sharing it with everyone!

Spice Cake with Bourbon Buttercream

Spice Cake

From Dinner with Julie

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups milk, room temperature

It is important to make sure that your eggs, butter, and milk are at room temperature in order to have a fluffy and moist cake.  You can put your eggs in a bowl of warm water for about 5-10 minutes before using them.  I zapped my milk for about 20 seconds in the microwave before using it (it doesn't need to be hot, just not cold).  If you forget to take the butter out of the refrigerator, cut it into small pieces (1 inch cubes works), and microwave for 10-15 seconds until softened, but not melted!!

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter or spray two 8” or 9” round cake pans.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, spices, and salt. In a larger bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer for about half a minute, until it’s pale and creamy. Pour in the sugar and continue to beat for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Scrape down the sides of the bowl whenever it needs it. It may look separated – it’s OK.

Stir the vanilla into the milk. Add about a third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir it in by hand or with the electric mixer on low speed, just until it’s combined. Add about half the milk in the same manner, then another third of the flour, the rest of the milk, and the rest of the flour, mixing just until the batter is blended.

Divide the batter between the pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the cakes are golden and their tops are springy to the touch. Cool completely before frosting.

Bourbon Buttercream Frosting

From Butter Me Up Brooklyn

2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
6 cups (600 grams) powdered sugar
1 tablespoon good quality bourbon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Sift the powdered sugar into a large bowl.

Beat butter in your biggest bowl until light and creamy, or about two minutes. Add the sifted powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the bourbon, vanilla and salt and beat until smooth and spreadable, or about one minute more.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Sun-Dried Tomato and Kalamata Olive Bruschetta (3-ways)

Okay, I've been slacking.  I know that I'm on vacation, but it's kind of unacceptable how little I have been posting lately.  So, to make it up to you, today, I have not one, but three recipes!  We start with the base recipe: sun-dried tomato and kalamata olive bruschetta.  The bruschetta can be served with bread as an appetizer, or it can be stuffed into chicken or mixed into a crunchy vegetable salad.  You could also eat it with a spoon. The options are endless with this delicious mixture.  I also tossed some roasted cauliflower with some of the bruschetta as well, and that was quite tasty too.  Of course, in the recipes that you see below for the chicken and salad, you don't need the full recipe for the bruschetta.  (The bruschetta kept well for a few days.)

Hope you are all enjoying the first part of April!  My goal for the month is to get back on track with the blog.

Sun-Dried Tomato and Kalamata Olive Bruschetta

Adapted from Garnish with Lemon

1 loaf French bread
4 oz. Crumbled Feta cheese
3 garlic cloves
4 ounces Kalamata olives coarsely chopped
1- 7 ounce jar julienned sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (mostly drained)
10 basil leaves chopped

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Slice the bread into ½ inch slices and toast in oven until lightly browned (about 9 minutes). Rub the bread with one of the garlic cloves after you remove it from the oven. Can be made two days ahead, put in air tight container once it has cooled.

Put remaining garlic cloves, olives and sun-dried tomatoes in bowl of food processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped but not pureed. Slice basil in ribbons and stir into tapenade.

Top each baguette slice with a heaping teaspoon of tapenade, then sprinkle some crumbled feta on top and more basil.

Chicken Stuffed with Sun-Dried Tomato and Kalamata Olive Bruschetta

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomato and kalamata olive bruschetta (see above)
1 tablespoon crumbled feta cheese
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Slice a horizontal pocket into each chicken breast (through the thick part).  Do not slice all the way through the breast.

Mix together the bruschetta and the feta.  Spoon half of the mixture into each breast.  Use a toothpick to secure the opening.  Generously season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Bake for 40 minutes.

Sun-Dried Tomato and Olive Bruschetta Greek Salad

3 mini-Cucumbers (or 2/3 English cucumber), sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 avocado, diced
3 tablespoons sun-dried tomato and kalamata olive bruschetta (see above)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese

Mix together the vegetables.  Stir in bruschetta, drizzle with red wine vinegar and olive oil, then season with salt and pepper.  Add the feta cheese just before serving.

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