Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Andes Peppermint Brownies w/ a Twist!

These were.....wait for it...


Once the fudgy, gooey, minty, bliss enters your mouth you're enjoying a little slice of heaven. 

 After reading that you probably are thinking to yourself, "Man, I can't enjoy those (all though I really really want to) because fudgy, gooey, minty, bliss comes with too much guilt (approx 300 cals worth of guilt) which is not worth an extra half hour-plus at the gym."

 Well my pessimistic friend, 
I have some good news

Because these amazing, friends, I mean AMAZING brownies are made with.....

 wait for it.... (Name that show)

 not oil, not butter, not eggs.....

 So what????? 


 Gahhhh I know!

 "WHAT" you shout out loud.

 "YES" I say.

 Fibrous, delicious, healthy black beans. 

With the serving size of 10 *see picture below,
These brownies,without mint topping, run ~139 cals per brownie square, and 219 cals with mint topping.

I cut them  even  smaller and got ~20 brownies (108 cals with mint topping!!!!) because I was feeding a large group.

So with all that awesomeness being said: 

 Bake and be amazed.


1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder 
1/2 cup cocoa powder 
1 cup granulated sugar 
1 can reduced sodium black beans (with liquid) 

Mint topping 
1/2 package of Andes Creme de Menthe baking chips 


Preheat  350 F.
Line a 7x11 baking pan with parchment paper with enough parchment hanging over the edges to grab at--helps with removal.

In a food processor, first blend 1 can of beans with liquid, sugar, and cocoa powder until a creamy dark liquid. Then pulse in flour,salt, and baking powder.

Pour batter into lined baking pan and bake for 25 min. or until knife comes out fudgy not runny. (you'll know)

As soon as the brownies come out of the oven cut them to the size you desire. Then, evenly pour mint chips over hot brownies. As they begin to melt, take a knife or spatula and swirl around to make cool, minty designs. Then run your knife through the pre-cut slices again  to keep the brownies separate as they cool and the chocolate hardens:

Let cool for 10 min before placing in the fridge to harden chocolate more. 

To serve, let sit out for an hour or so to help cut through the harden chocolate layer--no cracks. ( I did think about per-slicing while the chocolate was still hot and that might do the trick to help prevent cracks...try it out and let me know what you think)



Sunday, December 22, 2013

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

Ready for your house to smell like a Cinnabon?  

This bread will do the trick. 

I've wanted to make this bread for so long.
I've had it pinned on my Pinterest board for almost a year and thanks to a snow day, I finally had to time to make it and am I oh so glad that I did.

Plus it looks so cool when you cut into it!
How can you resist?

Simple ingredients, minimal work, delicious bread.
Can't get much better than that.

Recipe adapted from Pinch of Yum
2 tbs sugar
1 cup warm water
2 1/2 tsp yeast
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 tbs vital wheat gluten
1 tsp salt
2 tbs olive oil
2tbs cinnamon
1/2 cup  white sugar
1/2 cup raisins,  plumped*

*boil water let raisins soak in it for about 5 min.

To warm water, place in microwave for 1min.
Add 2 tbs sugar and yeast and let sit until frothy, about 5 min.
Add in flour, salt, oil, and raisins and knead by hand, mixer, or bread machine* for 5-10 min until dough is comes together to form a soft, slightly  sticky ball. You may need to sprinkle in more flour if it's  too sticky. Place mixed dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour.
*I let the yeast froth in my bread machine pan, added the rest of the ingredients, and then set my machine to "Dough" cycle and let it run the first knead cycle, then stopped it and let it rest for the 1 hour).

Remove dough from the bowl/pan and place on lightly floured surface.
Roll out dough into a large rectangle.
Mix together 1/2 sugar and cinnamon  and sprinkle it over the top of the rectangle.
Carefuly roll up dough width-wise, to form a loaf. Then pinch together the two ends and the seam.
Place loaf in lightly grease pan, cover, and let rise for 30 min until loaf fill the pan.

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Bake loaf for 30-35 min. Until top is nice golden brown* 
* I baked mine for the full 35 min just to make sure it was fully cooked in the center.
* I also placed a piece of foil over the top of the loaf around 15 min to keep the top from browning too much.

Let cool all the way before you cut into it, otherwise it tends to sink in.

Butter it up and enjoy!

It toasts wonderful! And makes fantastic bread for french toast!


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Chocolate Peppermint Roll

What a treat! And so easy!

 You know I've never made a "roll" before because I had a fear that I was going to mess it up. The whole flipping, rolling, unrolling thing, kinda freaked me out. But boy, am I glad I tried. It was a cinch and really hard to mess up, and if you do, such as get cracks, don't worry that delicious filling you made fills in the cracks. It's amazing.

This roll was inspired from the good ol' pumpkin roll I'm sure many of you saw this past Fall, but I wanted to make this one a little more Christmas-y, thus the peppermint.

Oh, and of course chocolate, everything is always better with chocolate.

On a healthy note, I cut the sugar in half from the original recipe I found on My Baking Addiction (go check out her recipe and photos, they are stunning), used greek yogurt instead of sour cream, and used my flax seed egg replacement* since I was short one egg, and these babies still got rave reviews.

Only thing I would say to be mindful of is the peppermint extract. This stuff is strong! So be careful measuring and feel free to adjust the amount based on personal preference.

Go indulge in some chocolate peppermint heaven.


3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tbs cocoa powder
3 eggs*
1/2 cup  granulated sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup greek yogurt

*If you don't have enough eggs you can mix 2tbs ground flax-seed with 3 tbs water, stir and let sit for 3-5min to make one egg replacement.

1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
1  cup powdered  sugar
6 tbs butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp peppermint 

Preheat 375 degrees F.
Line a 15 x 10 pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray. set aside
Sprinkle a clean tea towel with 1/4 cup powdered sugar. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and powder,  and salt. Slowly add in eggs, vanilla, sugar and greek yogurt. Mix until well combined. 
Spread batter evenly into prepared pan--It's okay if if the batter doesn't fill the pan, it will expand.

Bake for 13-15 min until top of cake bounces back when touched. Immediately flip cake onto prepared tea towel. Beginning with  narrow end, roll up towel and cake together into a roll and let cool on a wrack for 15-20 min.

To prepare filling, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, and peppermint until smooth.
Carefully unroll cake, remove towel. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake  and re-roll cake. Wipe off any excess mixture and wrap and plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Slice and enjoy!!!! 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Deep Dish Apple Pie

I am so excited to be sharing this recipe with you!
My husband and I perfected it this year, and my oh my is it good.
What makes it so good? The compote!
Sugary, sweet, and thick sauce that smothers your apples and bakes that pie to perfection.

The second best part? The crust!
We wanted to keep it whole wheat but this time we used white whole wheat flour which truly made all the difference.

I hope you enjoy!
Adapted by and Inside BruCrew Life
2 1/2 cups white whole flour
2 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
3 tbs canola oil
4tbs butter, unsalted, cubed
1/4cup cold water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup white sugar
1/4 cornstarch
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
2cups water
5 cups apples, cubed
1tbs lemon juice
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Start with the crust:  In a large bowl, whisk flour, salt, and sugar together. With pastry blender or hands mix in cubed butter until dough starts to become crumbly.  Then, fold in Greek yogurt and slowly pour cold water in as your are kneading the dough together. Turn out the dough and knead on a lightly floured surface until dough is just holding together. Divide dough in half and shape into 5inch wide disks. Wrap the disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate for and hour.
Filling: Peel and chop up the apples to small cubes. Fold in lemon juice and cinnamon and set aside.
Compote: Add sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and water to a small pot. Bring to a boil, and let boil for 2min, constantly stirring.Fold in apple mixture, reduce heat to medium low and let simmer covered for 10-12min. Remove from heat.

Preheat oven 425 degrees F. Place a baking rack on the bottom shelf.

Let refrigerated dough sit out for 5min to get to room temperature. Place  parchment paper over disks and roll each out to ~13inch. Carefully lay one rolled-out dough into a 9 1/2-10inch pie pan. Trim over hanging edges. Evenly add apple compote mixture and then carefully lay the other rolled-out dough on top and gently tuck top dough into bottom. You can then make or pinch any pie decorations  would like. Add at least 4 holes or slices to the top of the dough for ventilation.

*Optional:Whisk an egg white with 1/4 tsp cinnamon together and glaze top of dough for a shinny finish.

Bake pie at 425 for 20 min (you may want to cover with aluminum foil to keep the top from browning too much). Then reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake for another 20-30min until top is a light golden brown (remove aluminum foil during this stage).

 Let cool for 20 min.


Friday, December 6, 2013

Creamy Chicken Orzo Skillet

I love experimenting with food. There is such a thrill when you just start putting things together that you know are good on their own and imagine that when combined they could be even better.
This dish was just that.

I love orzo pasta, particularly in soup. It is such a unique pasta due to its size and shape but it's little form can sure fill you up.
Experimenting came in on many angles with this dish and I almost ruined the dish due to silly mistakes but knowing what I did wrong the minute I did it, I was able to correct them and the dish turned out creamy and had the hubs saying "this is delicious!"

Don't worry the directions don't include my silly mistakes :)

3 large chicken breasts, cubed
1 1/2 cups orzo 
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 tbs garlic, minced, ~2 cloves
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup tomatoes, sliced
1 1/2 cup spinach
1/8th cup milk
3tbs flour
salt and pepper to taste
*you may need up to 1/4cup water

Over medium high heat, add 1tsp olive oil to a large skillet. Add in orzo and cook until it start to turn golden brown. Remove from skillet and set aside.
Add another tsp of olive oil in the skillet and add cubed chicken. Salt and pepper to taste and cook through.
Remove from skillet and set aside.
Add garlic and oregano to skillet and cook until fragrant( ~1 min). Then add in chicken broth and milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium high  and whisk in 1tbs flour at a time until each is dissolved. Add in orzo and let simmer for 5-6 min, until orzo is soft and sauce is creamy.
Stir in cooked chicken, and Parmesan cheese.
Then add in spinach and diced tomatoes.
Let the dish simmer on medium high heat or 3-4 min more to wilt the spinach leaves and cook the tomatoes, ***it was at this point  I added a little bit of water to keep everything moist and keep the dish from burning, stirring once or twice until simmering was done.

Serve warm.


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Quick Garlic Cheese Rolls

Sometimes you just need a good dinner roll. A good roll with cheese in it, and tastes like garlic heaven. 

These are super simple and ready in 15 min! 

2 cups self rising flour
1/4 tsp salt
1cup milk
4tbs plain greek yogurt
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup cheese, shredded

Preheat oven 425 degrees F. 
Mix it all together very well and evenly distribute into a 12 greased muffin tin.
Sprinkle a little extra shredded cheese on top and bake for 10-12min until cheese is melted tops are a lightly golden brown.

Let cool for 10min. 


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

10 Thanksgiving Day Dishes and Desserts You Should Try

These are a combination of recipes that may not be on your Thanksgiving day menu,
 But I encourage you to check out these  recipes from some of my favorite Blogs and you just might find your families new Turkey-Day tradition.

Sweet  Potato Quinoa Stuffing

Grilled Proscuitto-Wrapped Asparagus 


Clean Whole Wheat Biscuits


Rosemary Cornbread with Goat Cheese Butter

Pan-Seared Brussel Sprouts w/ Cranberries & Pecans

Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash Rings

No Bake Eggnog Pie

No Bake Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

Cinnamon Sweet Bread Wreath
Originally by  from Just Love Cookin’  translated by Turvs


Pumpkin Roll

What's your families favorite Thanksgiving day dish?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Protein Banana Nut Muffins

I truly enjoy finding ways to make some of my favorite treats, that I can only enjoy on occasion, something healthy that I can enjoy everyday.

Banana bread is one of those.

When I was growing up, my mom used to make the best banana bread. It was so moist, decadent, and sweet, and usually was gone by the end of the day.

 Now, that goodness comes with a price: fat from the butter and the sweetness from the sugar. So the stop sign went up until I found a way to make it healthier without compromising the taste.

With this recipe, I believe I've done just that.
These muffins are moist, sweet, and you guessed it, healthy!
High in protein and low in carbs.
Can't get much better than that.
I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

2 cups oat flour
2 scoops vanilla protein powder
2 small bananas, very ripe
1/2 cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbs brown sugar
 3-4 large egg whites (~9tbs)
 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Mix flour, protein powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Mix applesauce, bananas, egg whites, brown sugar, and vanilla in a smaller bowl. Mix wet ingredients into dry until thoroughly mixed. Mix in chopped walnuts.
Evenly distribute mix into greased muffin tin and bake for 18 min or until a tops are a nice golden brown.
 Let cool for 10 min.
These freeze well too!

 Nutritional Info 
1 muffin
76 Cal * 11 carbs  * 2g Fat * 5g protein * 2g fiber

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Good Ol' Healthy Banana Bread

Sweet breads are one of my favorite things to bake. They are so easy and they are easily adaptable to your personal dietary needs. For this banana bread I was looking for sweet without the calories and low in fat because I don't need any more of it.


For extra sweetness (besides the brown sugar) I used 3 very ripe bananas and applesauce. They pair well together as both add moisture and natural sweetness as well as help hold the bread together.

I also used whole wheat flour, actually stone ground wheat flour. Now, honestly I didn't know what the difference was between regular whole wheat flour and stone ground, but now that I've cooked with it a few times I have found they are very different. Stone ground is not a "fine" flour, its actually quite rough and absorbs moisture like the dickens. It's terrible for making tortillas but fantastic for breads!

I found the best way to use this flour when I don't want a super dense bread is to blend it with my cup blender--similar to a magic bullet. I blend a cup a time and viola! soft, sifted, fine flour.

Anyways, this banana bread was perfect for breakfast and also dessert. I hope you enjoy.

Makes 1 large loaf or ~ 2 small loafs
2 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup apple sauce
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 ripe bananas
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
4 large egg whites
handful of chopped walnuts

Preheat oven 350 degrees F. 
Mix whole wheat flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon,  and brown sugar  together in a large bowl. whisk together egg whites, vanilla, and apple sauce in a smaller bowl. Pour wet ingredients into the large dry ingredient bowl and stir until well combined.
Smash 3 very ripe bananas in a bowl with a fork--don't over smash, you want it to still have chunks of banana throughout the mush.
Blend the smashed banana into the mixture. Add in walnuts if desired.
Pour into 9x5 bread pan.

Bake for 1 hour, until knife come out clean.

Let cool for 10 min before serving.


Nutritional Information w/ nuts:
Servings ~15 slices. Serving size: 1 slice
110 calories * 17 carbs* 1g Fat* 4g protein * 3g Fiber

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Hearty Tomato Soup

Tomato soup is one of my favorite soups. 

Seriously, when ever I am sick I'd pull out tomato soup over chicken noodle any day. This one is thick and creamy thanks the cannellini beans; A wonderful trick to fill your soup with more protein and fiber than fat and extra calories with heavy cream.

I hope you enjoy this rendition. Happy Fall!

4 cans diced tomatoes
2 cans of cannellini beans (white kidney beans)
2 cups veggie stock
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp rosemary
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced

Saute onion in olive oil until transparent, add garlic.
Add tomatoes, beans, and spices and bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer and let sit for 15-20 min.
Take an immersion blender and blend until smooth.
Serve warm and croutons if desired.


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Gnocchi Sausage Soup

This Italian soup experiment was a huge success.
As it should be because the Italian's know their food pairings and seasonings. 

This is the first time I've cooked gnocchi, not an applause worthy feat, since all you have to do is boil it for 1-2 min until they puff up. But, I've had to desire to use it and I'm thankful it helped create such a wonderful dish.

I must also note that there is no half and half or evaporated milk in this. To make this creamy soup I just used chicken stock and 3oz of 1/3 less fat cream cheese. Easy, healthier, and still gave this soup a wonderful texture.

Feel free to add in fresh ingredients if you have them on hand but I just used the dry seasonings I had and it was still fantastic.

Inspired from Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice

1 lb gnocchi
1 lb Italian sausage (any sausage will will work really)*
2 cups spinach, roughly chopped
3 tbs minced garlic cloves,   about 4 cloves
1 small yellow or white onion
4 small sweet peppers or 1 large red or orange pepper, chopped
32 oz chicken stock 
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
3 oz reduced fat cream cheese
olive oil, for sauteing 
salt and pepper, to taste

* you can keep the casing on and have large cuts of sausage in your soup or remove the casing and break it apart (like ground turkey-esk)

In a skillet brown sausage to your liking, set aside. 
Heat olive oil in a large soup pot on medium heat.
Add chopped onions and bell peppers and saute until unions are translucent.
Add in garlic and cook until fragrant. 
Add in cooked sausage, chicken stock, and all seasonings. Bring to simmer for 20 min.
Next, add in gnocchi and chopped spinach and bring to a boil for 1-3 min, until gnocchi is puffy and floating to the top of your soup.
Reduce heat to medium and add in the 3 oz of cream cheese in small chunks and stir into the soup until incorporated into the soup.

Serve warm and top with Parmesan cheese if desired. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Turkey with Zucchini "Pasta"

So, have you seen those "make pasta from your veggies" machines? If not, Google them.
Some look really cool, others look like a gadget thought up on Star Trek.
But hey, neat idea.

For this dish however, I used the good ol' fashioned potato peeler. I didn't get uniform "noodles," but I did get thin cuts of zucchini that I sauteed in the pan to make a delicious base for my ground turkey and my husband's homemade awesome tomato sauce.

This dish can be whipped up in minutes and is super healthy, clean eating, paleo, and ready to be in your tummy.

makes ~2 servings
1/2 lb ground turkey
1 large zucchini
1 cup of your favorite pasta sauce
1-2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Cook and brown your ground turkey in a skillet. Season with some garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
Take your zucchini and hold upright on a cutting board. Using your peeler, stroke from the top of the zucchini to the bottom in a quick motion to produce "strands". They should be thin.
In another skillet, heat a little olive oil on medium heat. Add in created zucchini noodles and saute them for about 2 min--until they are fragrant and beginning to get some brown spots on them. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder as desired.
Heat up you pasta sauce.

Now place your cooked zucchini noodles as the base of your dish, then top with ground turkey and pasta sauce.
Mix it all up, and enjoy!

Feel free to sprinkle some Parmesan cheese, or crumble some croutons on top; No need to worry about calories with this "pasta" dish.


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