PB & J protein balls

 

During my son’s baseball season, one of the parents used to make protein balls for his family and I kept telling myself I need to make some.  Healthy ingredients, kid- approved, no bake….what’s not to love?  So here is the recipe I used:

This recipe will make about 25 depending on the size of the balls.  Just mix all the ingredients together, form the balls and I like to store in the fridge but you can also store in the freezer.  Once you start making these you will be adding and/ or substituting your own ingredients.  It is so adaptable to what you have on hand.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of oats
  • 1 cup of flax (I used powdered flax)
  • 2 Tablespoons chia seed
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

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My Accidental Mediterranean Pasta

I couldn’t decide what type of sauce I was going to make for my Rigatoni and Italian Sausage Dinner.  I kept going back and forth…basic red sauce with onions, green peppers, garlic and tomatoes?  Roasted Red Pepper Sauce?  A sauce using the 1/2 can of pumpkin I have leftover?  After much debate I decided on the roasted red pepper sauce.  A creamy pureed sauce made with roasted red peppers, sauteed onions and garlic, chicken broth and heavy cream.  Yes!!!  That is what I am craving…..

Started sauteing one onion diced with about 1 Tablespoon of minced garlic. Head off to the pantry and grabbed the jar of roasted red peppers.  I open it up and wait…those aren’t roasted red peppers.  In my hands were sun-dried tomatoes.  I guess when I went to the store I bought sun-dried tomatoes instead of roasted red peppers.  Usually I like to have both as staples in my pantry but after being on vacation for almost a month the pantry was a little bare and I am in the midst of restocking.

Okay–time to regroup.  I can do this.  Let’s see what else I have in the pantry and fridge.

  • Jar of artichoke hearts
  • 1/2 jar of capers
  • Some leftover sparkling cider
  • Feta cheese
  • A lemon
  • Chicken stock base
  • Heavy whipping cream

Mediterranean- based pasta it is!!!  I julienne about 1/2 jar of the sun-dried tomatoes and add it to my onion-garlic mixture, along with 1/2 jar of the artichoke hearts.

After a couple minutes, in goes the sparkling apple cider (@1 cup) and about 2 cups of chicken broth I make from the base.

If you don’t have this chicken or beef base in your fridge- go buy it.  This is a staple that I have used when I needed it in a pinch.  Always great to have it on hand.

I let this simmer and reduce a bit then add some capers and the juice of 1/2 lemon.

At this point the sauce is delicious and I almost didn’t add any heavy cream but I had it in the fridge so why not…..add some cream and let thicken to your decided consistency.

I have to admit I was starving and didn’t let it did long or thicken but it was still wonderful.

Made my plate and added some feta…..a Mediterranean dish in a flash!!!

 

Without heavy whipping cream. Could just reduce at this point and use.

After the addition of heavy whipping cream.

Pumpkin Pull-Apart Loaf

Coming into Fall and everything is pumpkin.  Lucky for me as I am a pumpkin nut.  Give me pumpkin bread, pumpkin coffee, pumpkin pasta sauce, pumpkin ravioli…you put pumpkin in it, I want to try it.  

I was excited when I saw a recipe in my Facebook feed for an easy pumpkin pull apart loaf and I had all the ingredients on hand.  I didn’t save the link as I figured I could easily find it one the internet.  When I decided today is the day I did a quick google search and came up with a multiple recipes for this treat.  Below are 3 that I found.

There are minor differences in each if you take the time to review..pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix), pumpkin pie mix, egg, no egg, and cooking time.

https://www.pillsbury.com/recipes/pumpkin-spice-pull-apart-bread/486355a7-1159-4c50-a76c-41f433884a52

http://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a49734/pumpkin-spice-pull-apart-bread-recipe/

http://www.crazyforcrust.com/2016/08/pumpkin-pull-apart-loaf/

I decided to make the latter recipe from Crazy for Crust.  I am not going to repeat the recipe as you can easily go the website for yourself.  I will say that the cooking time on this recipe is only 18-24 minutes and I had to cook it for 30-45 minutes which seems more inline with the 2 other recipes.

In the end, it was delicious and a great easy find for a quick treat.  The glaze is to die for and can be used on other treats.  In fact, I think I will use the glaze for my sourdough cinnamon rolls.  I will have to try this with apple butter or another fruit based product.

Glaze:  1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 3 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream.  I may even try substituting pumpkin pie mix or just nutmeg for the cinnamon.

Biscuits cut in half horizontally

The filling: pumpkin puree, sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice

Stacked into greased loaf pan

Rice Krispie Treats

I just got done making a bunch of Rice Krispie treats for a football fundraiser.  Who doesn’t like that ooey gooey treat?  This classic treat is so easy to make and the original recipe only calls for 3 ingredients:  butter, marshmallows and Rice Krispie cereal. When I make these treats I like to make them bigger and…of course, I have to tweak the recipe.

First, let me give you the classic recipe:  3 Tablespoons butter, 1 package (10 oz) marshmallows and 6 cups Rice Krispie cereal.

In my recipe  we are going to add to other ingredients…salt and vanilla.  Salt? YES!  Salt brings out the richness and overall flavor.  Since we are adding salt make sure you are using unsalted butter and USE REAL BUTTER!  It will make a difference.

Ingredients:

  • 12 Tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) of UNSALTED butter
  • 2- 10 oz bags of marshmallows (set aside 1/2 of one of the bags)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 1/2 C Rice Krispies

Line your 9 X 13 pan with foil and spray with cooking spray to make it easy for removal.

Heat butter over medium heat in a large pot to melt.  Once melted add the salt, vanilla and a 1 1/2 bags of marshmallows.  Turn down the heat to low- meat and stir until marshmallows are melted.  Remove from heat, add cereal and remaining marshmallows.  Stir until all ingredients are incorporated.

Pour into your prepared pan and even out.  I find the best way is to lightly spray a rubber spatula with cooking spray and use that to spread the mixture.  Another trick…after you have it pretty evenly spread out cover with plastic wrap and take another 9 X 13 pan and use it to press down lightly over the mixture.  This will give you a nice even top.

Let cool (at least an hour).  Flip you pan over on a cutting board and the treats should easily come out and you just have to remove the foil.  Slice to your desired serving size and enjoy.  I like to individually wrap in plastic wrap and then place in a plastic ziploc bag or container to keep fresh.

FAQs:

  • Can I use regular size marshmallows?  Yes, however the reserved 1/2 bag that is added with the cereal will have to be cut.  You don’t have to add more “mini” marshmallows at the cereal stage but it adds a nice surprise through the treat.  Hint:  If cutting your full size marshmallows use a little cooking spray on your scissors/knife.
  • Do I really have to use 12 Tablespoons of butter? Of course not…but as the saying goes “everything tastes better with butter”.  I provided you with the original recipe and you can see it only calls for 3 Tablespoons of butter, 1 bag of marshmallows and 6 C of cereal.  You can easily lower the amount of butter but I would still use at a minimum 6 Tablespoons.  The great thing about rice krispie treats is as long as you have the general ratios it will all be okay!!  Trust me there have been times when I had to use less butter, more or less marshmallows/ cereal and guess what???  The treats were still all gone in a flash.  

Teriyaki Black Cods Tips

Black cod, aka Sablefish or Butterfish, is caught in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and California.  The mistake most people make when trying black cod for the first time is not realizing this is not Atlantic or Pacific Cod.  Atlantic and Pacific cod is a versatile mild white fish and what most think of when hearing “cod”.  Trust me when I fist tried it years ago I was one of those.  As a side note,  young Atlantic cod is called haddock or scrod.

Black cod is meaty like halibut although it is an oily fish.  It has a pearly white flesh and mild flavor.  The oil content lends it great fish to be grilled and where the flavor comes from.  You might have seen my other post marinating the tips brown sugar and soy sauce (which is delicious- by the way), but I wanted to change it up so decided to try a teriyaki version.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup OJ
  • a squeeze from 1/2 lime
  • 1 lb black cod tips

Let marinate a few hours or overnight.  I didn’t want to get the grill going so I used the cook top.  Heat a pan with a little oil and cook tips until done.  Adding some of the marinade will make a glaze as it reduces.

This fish does well on its own with a side of veggies and rice or you can use in stir fry of cabbage and noodles…think yakisoba or a regular stir fry.

 

 

Poaching Chicken

Poaching chicken is my favorite way to prepare chicken for chicken salad, enchiladas and other recipes where you need shredded/ cubed chicken.  The following recipe is what I just used when I poaching some chicken for chicken salad, however once you have the basics down you can adjust and use what you have on hand to change the flavor profile.

In a large pot place your vegetables and aromatics.  Place your chicken on top- season- cover with poaching liquid (enough to cover chicken).  Your can use any type of chicken parts you desire, with or without bones and skin.  The skin really has no use in poaching so feel free to remove before hand if you desire.  I like use bone in as it adds depth to the broth, especially if you are saving the broth for future use.

Let come to boil for about 3 minutes. Cover partly and reduce to med-low simmer for 5 minutes. Turn heat off and let sit for 15-20 minutes.  Chicken should register 165 degrees at thickest part.

Remove chicken and shred or cube.  The broth can be separated from any solids and used for other recipes.

In this recipe I placed one onion- quartered, handful of baby carrots, chopped 2 celery stalks, and a 2 inch piece of ginger sliced.  Chicken was seasoned with garlic salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper and I added a couple bay leaves.  Poaching liquid:  vegetable broth and water to cover chicken.

Other ideas to use:  For the poaching liquid you can use any type of broth, wine, water, and even beer….or combination thereof.

If I am poaching for enchiladas I may add hot chopped peppers, minced garlic or hot sauce.

I also like using fennel as the fennel and ginger to make a tasty broth for soups afterwards!

 

Chicken Salad

With summer here, salads are what I usually have in the fridge for quick, easy and tasty lunches.  Currently, I have egg salad and chicken salad in the fridge.  Let’s take a look at the Chicken Salad!!IMG_5497

To my husband’s dismay, I am not a nut fan so I don’t put nuts in this chicken salad.  If you are “nutty” feel free to add pecans or walnuts to this salad for a nice crunchy texture.

Ingredients:

  • Dressing:
    • 1 cup mayo (I prefer Miracle Whip, but use your favorite brand)
    • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
    • 4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
    • 5 teaspoons honey
    • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon or 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh tarragon
  • 2 poached chicken breasts, shredded or cubed
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • ~ 1 cup red seedless grapes, halved
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup pecans/ walnuts, chopped (optional)

What I love about this is you can add more or less of the celery, grapes, nuts to what suits your taste.

I will discuss poaching chicken in the next post but you can shred or cube your chicken.  If I use chicken breasts I will cube the chicken.  This time I used bone in whole chicken breasts with ribs, so it was easier to shred after I poached the chicken.  Either way is fine.

Looking for a time saver?  Use store bought rotisserie chicken or canned chicken.

Combine all dressing ingredients together then add your dry ingredients.  Stir and refrigerate to allow the flavors to come together.

You can make the dressing ahead of time and refrigerate while you are poaching your chicken.  Allow your chicken to cool before adding to your dressing.

Use in a sandwich or on top of greens.