Recipe: Cranberry Sauce

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Your search for the perfect cranberry sauce has ended, because here is what I like to call Christmas in a Jar.  The spices are seasonally on-point, and the color is just gorgeous.  It really is so easy, too!  There’s no reason to open a gloppy congealed can of cranberries when you can have this fresh, citrus-y sweet and tart combination.

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My favorite way to eat cranberry sauce leftovers- in yogurt for breakfast!

My old recipe called for 2 cups of sugar, which is just an absolute ton!  It was so sweet that it overpowered the tartness of the cranberry.  I’m really trying to cut out all refined sweeteners and just stick to significantly smaller amounts of the more natural ones, like honey or maple syrup.  So this recipe lightens up the amount of sweetener to just a third of a cup of maple syrup.

My ten year old niece, who was a devoted cranberry-from-a-can fan, tried this when I brought it to Thanksgiving and she loved it!  She loved the cinnamon in it.  I was trying to play it cool on the outside, while secretly rejoicing inside!

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I love my new bowl from Mud Pies Pottery in Salado!

So the next time you are headed out for a holiday meal, bring this homemade cranberry sauce.  People will be so impressed and think that it was so hard.  It’s okay, you don’t have to tell them how easy it really is!

Cranberry Sauce

  • Servings: 2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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Christmas in a jar!


This recipe is lower on the sweetness side than regular, so I recommend making it as is, tasting, and then adding extra sweetener to taste.

Ingredients

  • 1 bag, or 4 cups, fresh cranberries
  • 1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice, or the juice from two small oranges
  • zest from one orange
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice

Directions

  1. In a medium pot, combine all items and cook over medium high heat until the cranberries pop, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes.
  2. Lower heat to medium, and cook for another 20 minutes while the sauce thickens and reduces, stirring frequently.
  3. Let cool and store in the fridge to chill until serving. This can be served at room temperature or chilled.

Recipe: Tahini Sauce

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I’m a huge fan of peanut sauce.  I could eat it every week.  But sometimes, it’s good to mix things up!  So for the sake of variety, I’ve been playing around with a tahini sauce recipe.  I didn’t know what tahini was for the longest time… come to find out, it’s just a paste made from sesame seeds!  It’s kinda like peanut butter, but made with sesame seeds instead.  So the tahini paste becomes the basis of this mild and smoky sauce.

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I’ve been loving it on my roasted vegetables.  In fact, I may have found a new obsession in roasted eggplant.  Move over roasted broccoli!  Just kidding, broccoli, I will love you forever.

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This sauce can be made thicker for dipping veggies into, or thinner for drizzling over roasted veggies, like I did for my lunches last week.  A sprinkle of smoked paprika over the top adds an even deeper smoky flavor.


 

Tahini Sauce

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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A mild sauce perfect for roasted vegetables.

This recipe can be made thicker using less water if you are wanting to use it as a dip. For a true drizzle-style sauce, add more water.

Ingredients

  • 4-5 roasted garlic cloves, or 1/2 t. powdered garlic
  • 1/4 c. tahini paste
  • 1/4 c. very warm water
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • 1/4 t. fresh lemon zest
  • 1/4 t. ground cumin
  • pinch of salt, or more to taste

Directions

  1. In a wide mouthed container that will fit an immersion blender, add all ingredients except water.
  2. Slowly add water and blend until it is the consistency that you desire.
  3. Store covered in the fridge until ready to use. This will be good for up to a week.

Simple Roasted Broccoli

It’s Thanksgiving week, people! I think Thanksgiving might be my most favorite holiday. I love Christmas, don’t get me wrong. But, my favorite season is fall because the weather is changing, the leaves are changing, and the anticipation of the extended holiday season is coming. Sometimes the anticipation is better than the real thing, am I right?

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But I also love Thanksgiving because of the meaning behind it. The history of the first Thanksgiving, not so much. But spirit of it, that’s what I can get behind. To me, it is all about gratitude and perseverance and thankfulness for what life has to offer. And even though life can tear your heart out, it can also be breathtakingly beautiful.

And in in the end, Thanksgiving is about family. The people you turn to, the people that have your back no matter what. So my wish for you this Thanksgiving is that you can hug the ones you love this season, and think warmly of the ones who have passed.

Roasted Broccoli

And I am thankful for YOU, all the readers of my ramblings.  So this simple broccoli recipe is for you this week.  If you are deep the in the preparations, frantic house cleaning, shopping and prepping for the big day, or if you are packing up the car and closing down the house and preparing for travel, it’s important to take care of yourself.  Because as wonderful as holidays are, they can be stressful, right?!

So take care of yourself this week in small ways.   And eating something healthy and delicious can be one of those small ways.  So chop up some greens, fire up the oven, take 20 minutes to invest in your health today.

My favorite go-to meal when I’m busy but want something healthy and filling is to scramble some eggs with roasted broccoli and cheddar cheese.  Yum!

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Love and warmth be with you this week!


Simple Roasted Broccoli

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Simple, healthy, and delicious!

Ingredients

  • 1 large head of broccoli
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 T. olive oil

Directions

  1. Wash and chop broccoli.
  2. Place in a large plastic bag, sprinkle in the salt, pepper, and drizzle in the olive oil.
  3. Seal the bag and give it a good massage and toss to coat all the broccoli with the seasonings.
  4. Lay out the broccoli flat on a cookie sheet on parchment paper and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Recipe: Life Changing Loaf of Bread

Have you heard of this kind of bread?  It’s pretty amazing, actually, considering it has zero flour!  I’d call it more of an oat and nut bread, I suppose.  But it was invented by the genius at My New Roots and is even used at Josey Baker’s bakery in San Francisco under the name Adventure Bread.

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On the San Francisco bucket list!

Okay, let me be tacky for just a minute…. If you were putting an image of your bakery on your website, would you use the picture that has the TRASH CANS out front?!?  I love the lighting in this picture, but couldn’t they have moved the cans for the photo?   Okay, rant over.

So the recipe.  It’s realllllly easy.  I’m not just saying that either.  There’s no kneading, shaping, or anything finicky about this recipe.  Basically, you dump the ingredients into a bowl, combine, and smash down into the loaf pan.  If you use one of those handy silicone ones, you can even combine it in the pan and boom.   That’s it!

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Here’s my loaf precooked.

This bread slices up and freezes like a dream.  And you can be really flexible with the variations.  For instance, tonight, I used an extra bit of sweetener, a tablespoon of cinnamon, and a half cup of raisins for a mock cinnamon raisin bread.  Delicious.  In fact, I’m eating a slice toasted and smeared with butter right now, yum!

Since I don’t have permission to recopy the recipe, I’m just going to direct you to My New Roots so you can get it at the source:

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Try this, and let me know how it goes!  Also, have you signed up for notifications on the right hand side of this page?  Don’t be shy, use the comment feature and tell me if you think you might give this a try!

Recipe: Oatmeal Raisin Protein Balls

Oatmeal Raisin Balls-2Last Tuesday was my birthday, and I maaaaay have over-indulged in sugar and white flour.  #noregrets.  However, later that night, I was fantasizing about roasted broccoli.  That’s when you know your good eating habits have really become a major part of your life!

So when Custodian Appreciation Day rolled around, I wanted to bring something special to work, but I also didn’t want to hop on the sugar merry-go-round again.  In place of a delicious cookie, I made these delicious protein balls!  They are inspired by my favorite cookie of all time- Oatmeal Raisin.

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These are no-sugar, no-bake, totally easy guilt-free treats!

I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

p.s. Did you see my Instagram story on my birthday?  If so, you got a peek into my fun day playing hooky with my husband!

 

Oatmeal Raisin Protein Balls

  • Servings: 16 balls
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

An easy, no-sugar, no-bake treat!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats (not quick oats)
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 T. cinnamon
  • 2 servings sugar free plain protein powder- I use Jarrow’s
  • 2 T. honey
  • pinch of salt

Directions

  1. Soak raisins in 2 cups of hot water for 5-10 minutes to plump them up.
  2. Drain the water and pulse the raisins in a food processor until they become a thick paste, about a minute.
  3. Scoop the raisin paste into a bowl with the remaining ingredients and incorporate fully with your hands. If the balls do not stick together enough, add a teaspoon of warm water at a time until they come together. This step was not necessary for me, but your mileage may vary!
  4. Divide the mixture evenly and roll into balls. Place on parchment paper in the freezer for a few minutes if desired. Serve and enjoy!

Recipe: Crockpot Black Beans

If you follow my Instagram, you will know that I LOVE to prep my breakfasts and lunches for each week.  On the weekends, I pick a new recipe or an old favorite to make.  Some things are just good to have on hand all week long.  It’s something that I’ve done for years and years as a working mom.  Sometimes I prep a bunch of veg, or some meat to use in various iterations through the week.

Black Beans

This week, the weather is supposed to cool down, and I’m so excited!  It’s got me in the mood for something warming and cozy, and a great big mess of black beans sounds perfect.  Plus, it’s so versatile.  This week, these beans will be starring in my lunches, and also making appearances in tacos on Monday and quesadillas on Friday.

This recipe starts with dried beans, and I’d recommend you do the same.  I suppose you could use a few cans of beans, but the flavor and texture is so much better using dried.  They aren’t hard, give it a whirl!

You should put the dried beans in a bowl and soak them overnight.  In the morning, dump the water, rinse the beans, and then you are set to begin.  But if you are like me, and you forgot to soak your beans, you can put them in a medium pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil for a few minutes, turn off the heat, pop a lid on, and let them sit for about an hour.  Then, you are set to rinse your beans and begin.

At this point, add your seasonings and bulk them up with some good veg.  Experiment with variations that make you happy.  Here, I’ve added onion and carrot, but you could switch out the carrots for diced tomatoes or even diced eggplant.  Be creative!

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I added a bay leaf, because I think they make everything better.  Then salt, because the same.  Some cumin adds a smokey flavor, but you could use smoked paprika instead.  I added two cloves of roasted garlic.  If yours isn’t roasted, you might want to rough chop it.  I’ve also got a small bit of canned chipotle pepper roughly chopped up for heat.  If you don’t have any of those, feel free to add some jalapeno if you’ve got some.  Or, add both if you want more kick.  Then give it all a good stir.

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Cover with water.  If you like some good beany liquid, add slightly more water.  If you like drier beans, add less, but make sure they are covered.

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Turn your crockpot on high for 3 hours.  After 3 hours, check the texture of the beans.  If they are not soft enough for your liking, let them set for another hour.

Here’s my beans all prepped and ready for lunch this week!  I’ve got a take of beans and rice going on here, but instead of rice, I’m using a different whole grain- freekah.  Isn’t that a cool name?  Freekah is a type of ancient wheat that is high in fiber and protein, so it’s popular with those of us who are vegetarian, or vegetarian-ish, as the case may be.  I’ve got a side of yellow bell peppers, and topped the whole dish with crumbled queso fresco and fresh cilantro for flavor.  Not pictured is the hummus for dipping with the peppers.

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Crockpot Black Beans

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A versatile budget stretching meal option that can be used in dinners all week long.

Ingredients

  • 1 bag dried black beans
  • Vegetables as desired, choose two from these below and be creative:
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1-2 chopped carrots
  • 1 chopped bell pepper
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 cup chopped eggplant
  • Seasonings as desired, pick as many as sound good from below:
  • 1 teaspoon cumin or smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2-3 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Spicy to add kick, pick one of what you’ve got on hand from below:
  • 1 de-seeded and diced jalepeno, or
  • Use spicy salsa as a vegetable above, or
  • 1 canned and diced chipotle pepper in sauce
  • water to cover

Directions

  1. Soak the beans overnight as directed, or follow the quick soak directions on the package. Drain and add to crockpot.
  2. Add vegetables, seasonings and spicy bits, as listed above. Stir to combine. Cover in water.
  3. Cook on high for 3-4 hours, or low for 6-8 hours.

Recipe: Baked Ham and Cheese Sliders

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Editing photos while hungry is not recommended, I want these all over again!

This recipe is one passed down from my mom and is a crowd pleaser.  It’s perfect for casual company and a herd of hungry teenagers alike!  It’s a million times better than just a plain old ham and cheese sandwich.  Truly.  Make more than you think you will need, cause each person will scarf down at least 4 of these buttery, cheesy, delicious sandwiches.  Have plenty of napkins on hand, too!

Somehow, this recipe became known as the camping recipe in our family.  We glamp in a medium size camper that is outfitted with a really adorable tiny oven, so it’s an easy go-to recipe for us.  We save the fire cooking for other dishes like hot dogs and s’mores.

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Fire’s building steam as we eat dinner and look forward to s’mores for dessert!

For this recipe, you’ll want to get those yummy Hawaiian dinner rolls, if you can find them.  If not, then any package of pre-cooked dinner roll will work.  Did I mention that sometimes we leave our healthy eating at the camper door?  Ha!  Most times when we camp, I make regular healthy food, but occasionally we indulge in the fun stuff.

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Gooey, melty cheese…. yum!

We went biking on some fun trails while we were there and I found some pine cones!  I love being near the pine trees and seeing the pine cones.  So of course, I had to stop and gather a few to bring back and decorate our picnic table.  Plus, they made fun photo practice.

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Timmy

Here’s my hubby and dishwasher extraordinaire!  I love that his hat says Live to Explore in this picture- perfect.

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Charlie girl, my sweet puppy.

This hairy beast is Charlie, our furry baby.  She’s camera shy.  I was lucky to get this one shot. All the other ones are of the back of her head.

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Oh wait!  This is the closest she came to looking at me.  Goober.

We had our son with us, but 15 year old boys don’t like to have their picture taken… what can you do?

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He wasn’t cooperating, either!

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Supposedly edible… I’ll let you go first.

There was a bush next to our site that had these gorgeous purple berries.  Tim googled what they are (hey, don’t judge our use of technology while camping) and discovered that they are edible, but not very tasty.  I passed. I was too busy eating these delicious sliders.

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Baked Ham and Cheese Sliders

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A delicious crowd pleaser. Serve with copious amounts of napkins!

Credit: I pinned these several years ago from the Smells Like Home blog, but I don’t know who the original creator is.

Ingredients

  • 12 Hawaiian dinner rolls
  • 12 slices of ham
  • 5 slices of swiss cheese
  • 1/4 c. mayo
  • ½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 Tablespoon of mustard
  • 4 Tablespoons of butter, melted
  • Poppy seeds for the tops

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the melted butter, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, and mustard.
  2. Split the rolls and spread mayo on the bottom portion of the buns. Set into a rimmed 9×12 buttered baking dish.
  3. Fold one slice of ham and a quarter of a slice of swiss on each roll and replace the tops of the buns.
  4. Using a pastry brush, brush on the butter mixture to the top of the rolls evenly, making sure to get into the cracks and on the sides of the rolls. Sprinkle poppy seeds on top.
  5. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes, or until the tops are golden and the cheese is melty.

Pecan Apple Crisp

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I wish your screen was scratch and sniff!

If you know me in real life, you will probably know that my favorite season is Autumn.  So, the fact that it’s September and the temperatures are below 90 means it’s time to pull out the long lounge pants, my favorite scrubby sweatshirt, and of course, the cinnamon.

If I’m going to make a sweet treat, I’d rather have pie than cake any day.  This crisp gives me all the yummy flavors of apple pie without the sugar.  And without the crust.  I know most people don’t feel this way, but I always think the crust just gets in the way of the good stuff, so I’m happy to leave it out.  Plus, it’s a lot faster to make a crisp, and I’m really loving that part.

Apple Crisp

My sister in law, Nicole, gave everyone this really cool apple peeler thingy for Favorite Things last year.  It makes peeling and slicing the apples for this crisp a total breeze.  Apparently, everyone in Washington state where she’s from has one.  It was funny, because none of the rest of us had ever seen one, even though they are ubiquitous up there.

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If  you don’t have one of these cool gadgets, you can still get the same effect by slicing and peeling by hand.  As a side note, it is not necessary to peel the apple if you want to leave it on.

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Once you’ve got your apple nice and thin, go ahead and toss it with the juice of a lemon and a tablespoon of melted butter.  Then, add cinnamon, nutmeg, and a smidge of allspice and give it a good toss around so all the spices coat all the apple.

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The crumble on top comes together super fast.  It’s just one cup of old fashioned oats, more cinnamon, 2 tablespoons of melted butter, and a scant quarter cup of maple syrup.  The bonus here is to finely chop some salted and roasted pecans and stir it in.  The salty pecans taste so good with the sweet crumble.  I got mine from Trader Joes, but you can always just toast and salt your own pecans.

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Assemble and bake!  The entire house will wonder what deliciousness you have got going on in the oven.

 

Pecan Apple Crisp

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A delicious and wholesome dessert.


– 4 firm apples, like Fuji, thinly sliced and peeled if desired
– 3 Tablespoons butter, melted
– 1 lemon, juiced
– 2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
– ½ teaspoon nutmeg
– ¼ teaspoon allspice
– 1 cup old fashioned oats, not quick oats
– scant ¼ cup maple syrup
– about ⅓ cup chopped pecans, roasted and salted
[/recipe-ingredients]

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Slice apples and mix with the lemon juice and one tablespoon of melted butter. Add 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon and the rest of the spices and stir to evenly coat.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the oats, the remaining butter, the remaining cinnamon, the pecans, and the maple syrup. Mix well.
  3. Layer into a 9×9 baking dish and bake covered for 25 minutes, and uncovered for another 15-20 minutes more.

Chocolate Frosty

Chocolate Shake

Most days, I’ve adapted pretty well to my low/no sugar lifestyle.  But.  Sometimes I just want something extra special and indulgent feeling.  This Chocolate Frosty does the trick.  I call it a Frosty, because it reminds me of a Wendy’s Frosty.  For real.   You can make it as thick or thin as you are in the mood for, and as chocolaty or mild as you want.  Sometimes, I even throw in a dab of peanut butter for a chocolate peanut butter fix.

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I don’t know if it’s watching the devastation from Hurricane Harvey this week, the divisive state of politics, post-summer blues, or just the fact that my mom isn’t here to do my laundry this weekend.  Dammit.  But I needed a little chocolate comfort this weekend, and I don’t even have to feel too guilty about it because this frosty has good fat and protein to (kinda) balance out the sweet banana.

As a note, if you aren’t drastically reducing your sugar intake already, why not?  Take a look at That Sugar Film on Netflix to give you some positive motivation.  If you are still reducing your sugar intake, this might not be sweet enough for you.  Make it as the recipe stands, but after a taste, if it’s not sweet enough, add a teaspoon of maple syrup or honey.

Pro-tip for freezing your overripe bananas:  Peel them first, then break them in half and store in a freezer bag in your freezer.  If you freeze them flat and not touching each other, they are less likely to clump together into one frozen banana iceberg.  Also, you will really regret it if you don’t peel the bananas first before freezing.  Just sayin’.

Chocolate Frosty

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Chocolate shake cravings satisfied!

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ frozen bananas
  • ½ to 1 cup whole milk, depending on thickness desired
  • homemade whipped cream to garnish, if desired
  • 1 Tablespoon cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 1 serving protein powder (plain, unsweetened- I use Jarrow’s)
  • grated 72% dark chocolate shavings
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup or honey, if necessary

Directions

  1. Whip the cream in a mason jar with an immersion blender for about a minute until it forms peaks. Set aside for topping. If you are feeling super lazy, but still want a creamy touch, swap out a tablespoon or two of the whole milk for some cream instead. It will be lovely and thick.
  2. Place the frozen banana, milk, protein powder, and cocoa powder in the blender and blend on high until combined and smooth. Taste, and add maple syrup or honey if you absolutely have to.
  3. Pour into a glass, top with whipped cream, and sprinkle with chocolate shavings.