Whole Wheat Zucchini and Carrot Muffins

Not many people enjoy baking and chocolate and sugar more than me. If I could make anything for someone else that’s having a tough time, knowing for certain that it would lift their spirits and make them feel loved it would be chocolate chip cookies – It’s never failed.
However when it comes to everyday life, as a parent I have a job to do concerning food. That job is to make sure that my children are being introduced to new and healthy foods constantly. I don’t want them to have the same addictions that I have battled in my life. Ultimately I have no control over what addictions they do or do not have, I understand this, but I also understand that the messages that they receive about food are important. 3 years ago I barely ate vegetables unless they were covered in ranch dressing. That’s just not okay – for me, for them… or for the earth, really. Now we enjoy vegetables in a myriad of ways. These muffins are one example.

carrot zucchini

Okay, I know… enough with the rant – here is the recipe:

6 cups whole wheat flour
3 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cup honey
2 cups shredded zucchini (skin and all)
2 cups finely shredded carrots
1 cup applesauce
4 eggs

carrot zucchini 2

Mix everything together (I like to add the flour a little at a time) and put a little less than 1/3 cup of batter into each WELL-GREASED muffin tin
Bake at 400 for 20 minutes

This makes about 36 muffins. I make so many at once because I like to freeze some of them and then let them thaw out over night for breakfast or snacks. My kids even eat these, fruit and some cheese for a balanced and easy lunch.
I hope that you enjoy them as well!

carrot zucchini 3

Baked Eggs (Or gluten free quiche)

baked eggs

My friend Daisy recently taught me how to make a delicious baked egg casserole. This is another example of a really versatile, healthy, and easy meal to make for the entire family. Daisy even preps her the night before so that she doesn’t have to wake up and make breakfast, it’s just ready to enjoy. My family is really big on Quiche, but I hate the crust – so this is basically just a way for me to get away with making crustless Quiche.

Here is how I made ours this morning:

7 eggs, beaten
one handful of raw spinach, diced
a handful of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 green onions, diced
one small handful red onion, diced
heaping spoonful of ricotta cheese
handful of sharp cheddar cheese
dash of milk

Mix these together and then pour into a well-greased 8×8 casserole dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
Enjoy!

The thing that I really love about this recipe is that it can be changed to meet your personal taste. You can use any type of shredded cheese, you can sub cottage cheese for ricotta cheese, you can use any type of (non flavored) milk, you can add any type of vegetable, or take away any. It really is a throw together meal.
I can’t wait to see what types you all make!

DO NOT make these cookies!

For the sake of our friendship, I am asking you to not make these amazing cookies. If you make them, you will become addicted to them and you won’t be able to stop making them and eating them. So please, stop reading now.

Amazing soft bakes chocolate chip cookies that are better than your Mom’s

This recipe makes 6 dozen cookies:

  •                     4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  •                     2 teaspoons baking soda
  •                     2 cups butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  •                     1/2 cup white sugar
  •                     2 (3.4 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
  •                     4 eggs
  •                     2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  •                     4 cups semisweet chocolate chips

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together the flour and baking soda, set aside.

Cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar.

Add  in the instant pudding mix until blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla.

Blend in the flour mixture.

Finally, stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Edges should be golden brown.

ImageImage

Maryland crab dip

Ah, Maryland, the land of my birth. I’m not the hugest fan of the area – traffic and rude Pseudo Southerners are enough to have me hoping to never live there again BUT… the seafood in Maryland is OUT OF THIS WORLD. We use Old Bay on everything – who wouldn’t? We crack open the bodies of messy crabs like they are the finest of delicacies. And someone who doesn’t properly clean a crab and leaves perfectly edible meat inside? They must be possessed by Satan himself to leave behind something so succulent and sacred. We are obsessed with the blue crab in all its glory.

Occasionally I get the crab fever down here in the Beautiful Carolinas and spend a few days pitying myself and concocting short-lived schemes to return home to Maryland and rob Shoreline Seafood of its bounty, but usually I just end up going to Harris Teeter and buying jumbo lump crab meat. Yesterday it was on sale so I snatched it up and became literally giddy at the idea of making some Maryland style crab dip.

I am under no illusion that the majority of my friends who are not true Marylanders will want to duplicate this recipe, or will think that the price of crab meat is “worth it” to them, but for those of you who want experience a little of what Jesus meant when he said “On earth as it is in Heaven” please make some crab dip for yourself. There are many different recipes but this one is very straight forward and absolutely mouth-watering. Literally.

You’ll need:

1 lb. jumbo lump crabmeat
8 oz. softened cream cheese
3 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 TBSP. mayonnaise
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
Salt to taste

Mix softened cream cheese with Old Bay, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, and salt.
Add crabmeat and fold in. Place cheese on top and bake at 350 degrees for 30 ish minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Eat this on warm, fresh bread! Or, if you’re a “crunch” person, a pretzel crisp.

Individual apple pie – baked in the apple!

I saw this on pinterest a while ago and bookmarked it thinking it would be perfect for Thanksgiving. However, when you’re making something for such an important meal, you should try it out first and since tonight was our Community Life Group it was the perfect night to test it out. These were fun to make and not too time consuming (especially if you were only making enough for your family – I made 13 and it took me about 30 minutes prep time before I got them in the oven.) They’re a very sweet dessert, well proportioned, and they were a huge hit with everyone tonight! (That’s 13 people leaving happy. I’ll take it!) I made quite a few of these, feel free to pare the recipe down to whatever number you need.

Ingredients:

  • 13 apples
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 TBSP brown sugar
  • 2 TBSP cinnamon
  • Pre-made pie crust

First, cut the top (stem side) off of your apples, then using a spoon (Or a melon baller if you have one! I wish that I did after scooping out 13 of these guys.) remove all the inside of the apple. The core goes in the compost, the rest of the “meat” gets set aside. Leave the skin intact.

 

Next mix the apple insides with the white sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon. Spoon back into empty apple bowls.

 

Cut the pie crust into thin strips and make a lattice pattern on top of each apple. (For my two vegan friends I skipped the pie crust and just added some old-fashioned rolled oats to the top of theirs)

Pour just enough water into a 13×9 (Or 8×8 if you’re making a smaller batch) to cover the bottom.

Place apples in your baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for 25 minutes, remove foil and bake for another 20.

And voila! Beautiful individual apple pies! Enjoy!

 

Sante Fe Chicken

I love putting this protein packed, CHEAP and delicious dish in the slow cooker first thing in the morning and then letting my house smell totally amazing all day long. Charlotte Jane picks out all of the black beans and eats them separately as they are her current favorite food of all time. Jack picks them out and tries to pretend like he never saw them while lavishing his attention on the corn and rice. Everyone finds something to like about this dish… except for Matt, who loves everything about it.

To make it, you will need:

  • 1 1/2 lbs chicken breast (frozen or defrosted. I put it in frozen… One less step.)
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans black beans
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 cup reduced sodium vegetable broth (you can use chicken if you prefer)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  •  2 ish tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • salt to taste

In a skillet. saute onion, garlic and pepper in either 1 TBSP olive oil or 1 splash of vegetable broth for a few minutes. Add that to the rest of the ingredients in the crock pot. Put on low for 10 hours. Half hour before you eat it, take the chicken out and shred it. Add back in crockpot for the last few minutes.

Serve over brown rice or wrapped in tortillas! I also like to put a little shredded cheddar or plain greek yogurt over mine. Delicious!

Make it a Hibachi Night

I have this friend named Elizabeth who can make anything. Seriously, anything. After Charley was born she made us a shrimp, tofu and cashew hibachi that I have never been able to forget. I always try to make it, but mine is never quite as great. The good news, though, is that while mine may not be as good as Elizabeth’s – it’s still out of this world. We make this recipe with different things each time – steak, chicken, tofu, shrimp – whatever you have in your freezer. I also like it with just veggies. The recipe is highly adaptable. So today, I’m going to show you how to make it with shrimp and cashews, but if you’re not a seafood eater (WEIRD.) it’s okay – you can still enjoy delicious homemade hibachi that is easy.

Ingredients:

  • half a yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • small bowl of broccoli, cut small
  • 2 handfuls of kale, chopped small
  • 2 handfuls of swiss chard, chopped small
  • 1/3 cup plus 3 TBSP toasted sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce or Braggs Aminos
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • Brown rice noodles
  • Handful of cashews
  • 1-2 cups of peeled, deveined shrimp

Instructions

  • Combine 1/3 cup each of toasted sesame oil, soy sauce and honey. Stir until well combined, set aside
  • In 3 TBSP toasted sesame oil saute the onions and garlic for 3ish minutes
  • Add in broccoli and about a third of your sauce, stir for 3ish minutes
  • Add in shrimp and another third of your sauce. Stir until shrimp are almost completely pink
  • Add in Kale, Chard, cashews and the rest of your sauce. Saute until greens are reduced and shrimp is pink (just a minute or 2)
  • Serve over cooked brown rice noodles

This whole recipe takes less than 30 minutes, start to finish – The chopping is what takes the longest. I have never served this to anyone who didn’t like it!

I hope that you make it soon!

 

Quick! Put this in your slow cooker!

I have a confession to make: I’m a terrible person in the morning. I hate morning. I hate getting out of bed. I hate the million mile hike from my bedroom to the kitchen. Pouring the coffee seems like an insurmountable task… but each morning I must do it… lives are at stake. So, given that climate, you can probably guess that I don’t make breakfast for my kids. (Or me. Or anyone.) I can’t think of much worse than getting up and doing stuff… anything.

I lay out my kids and my clothes the night before. I make coffee and put it on a timer the night before. I clean at night. In the morning, my kids live on PB toast (that I made the night before), apples, and bananas – the least high maintenance fruit I could possible serve to toddlers. I don’t cut their apples up, skin them, anything – just take the things and eat it. And for goodness sake, DO NOT BE LOUD OR COMPLAIN OR YELL OR DISAGREE OR MAKE FUNNY FACES OR GIVE ME THAT LOOK OR ASK ME QUESTIONS OR SAY UNKIND THINGS UNTIL MOMMY HAS HAD HER COFFEE.

So, now that you see what a monster I am in the morning you can imagine how appealing the idea is to me of a nutritious, home-made breakfast that just requires me to wake up in order to be ready. Enter crockpot steel cut oats. There are a million ways to make this, but I had all of the ingredients for  this one without having to run to the store, so in it went! I pretty much stuck to the recipe the first time. We have out-of-state guests so I doubled it, I also added some chia seeds just for additional health benefits. And also, when I was reaching for my cinnamon I saw the nutmeg looking all hopeful right next to it, so I added some… to spare its feelings.

This breakfast was delicious! I hope that you try it soon!

Slow Cooker, Apple Cinnamon Steel-Cut Oatmeal

By Monica             Servings: 7 (3/4-cup) servings
Ingredients
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (2-1/2 to 3 cups chopped)
  • 1-1/2 cups fat-free milk (or substitute non-diary alternative like almond milk)
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup uncooked steel-cut oats
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (or substitute maple syrup or other desired sweetener)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons butter, cut into 5-6 pieces (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Optional garnishes: chopped nuts, raisins, maple syrup, additional milk or butter
Directions
Coat inside of 3-1/2 quart (or larger) slow cooker with cooking spray. Add all ingredients (except optional toppings) to slow cooker. Stir, cover, and cook on low for approx. 7 hours (slow cooker times can vary). Spoon oatmeal into bowls; add optional toppings, if desired. Store leftovers in refrigerator. Freezes well.
To reheat single servings: Put 1-cup cooked oatmeal in microwave proof bowl. Add 1/3 cup fat-free milk. Microwave on high for 1 minute; stir. Continue cooking for another minute, or until hot.
Recipe can be doubled in 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Increase cooking time 1 hour.
Nutritional Info (per 3/4 cup serving): 149 calories, 3.6g fat, 27.3g carbs, 3.9g fiber, 4.9g protein; Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 4 pts

Incredible Edible Quiche

One of the staples around the Murray household is quiche. Is easy, it’s cheap, you can add in small pieces of veggies for picky eaters, and you can customized it to your taste. Tonight Charlotte and I made a cheddar cheese, kale and (by her request) pepperoni quiche. I was a bit nervous about adding meat – I know that a lot of people do it, but it’s not the usual for us. But it was very good. You could barely taste the pepperoni (probably because I only added 2 for the entire thing.)

My favorite quiche of all time, though, I found about 2 years ago while looking through recipes on the Internet. I make it all the time. At first I was very careful to follow the original recipe exactly but now I take the license to play around with it a bit. Here is my take:

Ingredients:

4 eggs, beaten.

1/4 cup milk

clove of fresh garlic

3 stalks of asparagus, finely diced

A small handful of either swiss chard, kale or spinach, roughly chopped

1/4 cup of pack in oil sun-dried tomatoes, minced

1 tsp. EVOO

7 oz ricotta cheese

1/2 cup cheddar cheese

fresh ground pepper

a pinch or two of sea salt

 

Saute the greens, asparagus and garlic in EVOO. Add to the remainder ingredients. Pour into a pre-made deep dish pie crust.* Bake at 375 for about 40 minutes.

ENJOY!

 

*Feel free to make your own pie crust. I have not, as yet, found the inspiration to do so for my family. 🙂

Homemade dried cranberries… Ca-razy!

If you have kids, you’ve probably bought “Craisins” before, which is just the brand name for dried cranberries. For just over $4 you can enjoy 10 oz of dried cranberry deliciousness. I cringe to spend so much on so little, but the kids like them so…*shrug*.

The other day I saw bags of fresh cranberries in the produce section – $2 for 12 oz. I wondered to myself: “What do people use fresh cranberries for besides cranberry sauce on holidays? And really, doesn’t everyone just buy their cranberry sauce in a can?” I decided to go home and look it up – and that’s when I found out I could make craisins at home for about 1/2 the price and very little work.

This recipe is easy! All you need to make it is:

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.

Rinse off your cranberries and pick out any really soft ones. Pour them into a deep saucepan and then pour simple syrup on top.

Cook over medium heat for 4-5 minutes. The cranberries will start to pop lightly while you stir. Use a wooden spoon to lightly press on the ones that haven’t popped yet.

After they have all popped lay two folded dish towels down inside a cookie sheet and then cover them with foil. Pour the cranberries on top and spread them out evenly.

Turn your oven down to 170 degrees and put cranberries in. Check on them after 6 hours. If they don’t look like the craisins you buy at the store, stir them up and put them back in for an hour. Keeping checking and stirring once an hour until they are done. Mine took 9 hours, but I spaced it out over two days. When the look like regular craisins remove them from the foil, lay them out in a single layer on a dish towel and let them air out for a while.

Store them in a zip lock baggie, mason jar or airtight Tupperware container.

Make in large batches because they are delicious and it’s now cranberry season!