Category Archives: love food

recipes, food, photos

Chewy Breakfast Cookies

gluten free oatmeal breakfast cookiesOne day I’ll have time for long, luxurious breakfasts where I can lounge in my matching PJs on my wrap-around porch and actually eat breakfast with a fork. But today is not that day. And tomorrow doesn’t look good either. That’s why I’ve been trying my hand at more portable breakfasts. As much as I love my crustless quiche, sometimes I barely have time to make coffee in the morning. And let’s be real, coffee takes precedence above pretty much everything. But the lure of cookies and coffee?! That’ll get me out of bed.

breakfast cookiesThese are admittedly healthier than your everyday cookies. You gotta start your day right. These cookies are sweet, but not overly so and packed with plenty of natural energy to power through even the Monday-iest of Mondays.

Ingredients
1/4 cup of salted butter
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup of honey
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup of sunbutter (peanut or almond butter would work too)
3 cups of rolled oats
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts
1/2 cup of chopped cashews
1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
Sea salt for sprinkling

easy gluten free breakfast barsPreheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine sugar, butter and honey in a bowl and beat until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla, beat again. Add sunbutter and mix. Finally, stir in the oats, walnuts and cashews. To keep these cookies solid, I baked them in muffin tins. I greased the tin, then filled the tins half full and lightly pressed down the dough. These cookies can also be made into bars! To make into bars, press into a greased cake pan. Cookies bake for approximately 18-20 minutes. Bars bake for approximately 25 minutes. Oats will brown when cookies and bars are finished.  Let muffins cool on a rack, let the bars cool in the cake pan. Melt chocolate chips and drizzle (or spread!) over cookies (or bars!). Sprinkle with sea salt.

Let’s tackle tough mornings together!

love,
melanie

Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Bread

Sweet potato bread, gluten freeThis isn’t your fluffy, white, B- student bread. Oh no. This is his cousin… twice removed. If this bread had a name, his name would be Barry and he would give you a beat down on the playground– behind the slide where no one can rescue you. Barry is dense. He’s a little chewy. Some may call him hefty. He’s got meat on his ribs, but underneath his tough exterior, he’s more akin to a fruitcake, not the rack of ribs he pretends to be.

gluten-free sweet potato breadIf you’re looking for a prissy, pretty bread, this isn’t your jam. But if you need a little more heft to your breakfast bread (or lunch, or dinner, I don’t judge), Barry, I mean this sweet potato bread is it.

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake sweet potato until tender. Keep oven on!
  2. Remove the skin and puree in a blender or food processor with 1/4 cup of the milk.
  3.  Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs and beat again.
  4. Mix together dry ingredients (minus the pecans and chocolate chips) in a separate bowl.
  5. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet about 1/4 of a cup at a time. After each scoop of dry, add a bit of the remaining 1/2 cup of milk.
  6. Fold in the pecans and the chocolate chips.
  7. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. And add dough.
  8. Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 25 minutes.
  9. Check to see if dough is cooked by pricking with a toothpick or a fork. The toothpick or fork should come out clean. Make sure press the toothpick all the way to the bottom. This bread can look done on top and be completely raw on the bottom.

Make friends with Barry. He’s dense, but filling.

love,
melanie

 

 

Frugal Fridays: Turn Broken Cookies into Ice Cream Toppings!

Ice cream topped with broken cookiesI was super bummed when my cookie tray popped in the heat of the oven. The tray distorted into a strange angular shape and my chocolate chip cookies went for the ride of their lives– slipping and sliding into one giant mess. I was sadder than a lost puppy on a rainy day. Has anyone else had a cookie tray pop in the oven? It was very odd.

broken and ugly cookiesJust look at this mess! I was supposed to take these cookies to a friend’s house, but instead of just trashing these cookies and buying store-bought cookies to pass off as my own, I made the best of things. I broke the giant cookie mess into smaller pieces and used them to top ice cream. It was delightful.

ice cream and cookiesHow do you use frugality and make lemons into lemonade in the kitchen? Let me know in the comments!

love,
melanie

Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken Soup

slow cooker mexican chicken soupThere are days when even simple meals seem like a chore. I’ve had a rough day, there are still blog posts to write and the sink is already full of dirty dishes. On those days I rely on the easiest slow cooker recipe on the planet. Ok, I admit it, all slow cooker recipes are easy. But this one, my friends is extra easy because you only need 5 ingredients.

slow cooker chicken soup, mexican style!Ingredients
2 chicken breasts (frozen or fresh)
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 onion, diced
1 bag of frozen, diced peppers or 3 large multicolored peppers, diced
2 tbsp. of taco seasoning

Throw all ingredients into the slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours. If your chicken is frozen, throw it in first. I turn on the slow cooker and then go to sleep, when I awake the magical slow cooker has produced a delicious, filling soup. By the morn’ the chicken is falling apart, just shred it a bit with a fork and add a few toppings– my favorite are sour cream, cheese and avocado. A complete and easy meal that used only a handful brain cells.

Do you have any easy, slow cooker recipes? Let me know in the comments!

love,
melanie

 

12 Ways to Eat More Meals at Home and Save Some Dough!

eat more at homeThe old me used to eat out every couple of days and think nothing of it. “Oh piddle dee dee, I thought, I spend a lot of money on dining out. But it’s just a fact of life, I suppose!” In my head, I’m apparently an old British woman. But then I moved to a tiny town and the dining options were few and far between. We ate out less because there were less choices. I unintentionally saved money on food, I unintentionally learned how to cook more meals, and I unintentionally got into the habit of eating at home. It was an unintentional blessing.

Here’s how I’ve learned how to eat more meals at home.

1. Cut back on your eating out gradually
If you are eating out every day, you won’t go from being besties with the cashier at Chipotle to becoming Julia Child. You have to work your way up to it. Set a realistic goal for the week and work towards it. Your goal could be to learn one new dish or only eat out every other day. Set a reachable goal and give yourself a small treat when you reach your goal. Giving yourself small rewards creates habits.

2. If you are a beginner, learn the basics
One of the hardest parts of just starting out in the kitchen is starting out. Learn how to do simple things like sautéing vegetables, scrambling an egg and boiling rice. Once you learn those things, you’ll have the base for all kinds of meals!

3. If you are an intermediate cook, expand your repertoire
Cooking can get tiresome. Cooking is a project with no end because we need to eat every day. The way I fight the cooking drudgery is expanding my repertoire. I love perusing Pinterest recipes that make me excited to cook again. Just check out my recipe board for proof!

4. Make meals in advance
We are all stupid-busy. We don’t always have time to cook up a four course meal. Let’s be honest, I never have time to cook up a four course meal. I make most of my meals in advance. I’ll cook up a big batch of crustless quiche on Sunday night and crank up my slow cooker.

5. Automate your meals
I’d love all my food to be interesting and beautiful, but that’s just not a priority. Getting something warm and filling in my belly is a priority. My weekday meals are on auto-pilot. For breakfast I have eggs, my lunch is leftovers and dinner is usually something from the crock pot. Not always super exciting, but I can live up my culinary fantasies on the weekend when I have more time.

6. Put your slow cooker to work!
I love my slow cooker. I don’t know how I ever cooked without her. Her name is Sue, btw. Slow cooking is so easy. You can crank it on low, throw just about any meat and veggie in there with a little salt and pepper and you have a meal when you get home from work or when you wake up in the morning!

7. Leftovers are your friend
If you are going go through all the effort to cook, you might as well make enough for yourself and a small army. There’s so many ways to use up leftovers. For tips on reusing leftovers click here!

8. Cook with a buddy
Cooking all alone can be a lonely job. Enlist your husband or wife and kids to help out in the kitchen. Or at least sit with you and keep you company in the kitchen. You could also invite friends over for a freezer meal cooking spree. Sounds like a good time to me.

9. Make it enjoyable
Cooking can be stressful. Turn on some tunes, pour yourself a glass of wine and slow down. Dinner isn’t a life or death experience. It’s just dinner. Enjoy it.

10. Use paper plates
One of the worst parts of cooking is the clean up. Sometimes I’d go out to eat just so I wouldn’t have to do the dishes. To curtail this thinking, I mostly use paper plates and minimize my clean up. Worried about the environmental impact? Me too. That’s why I use compostable plates.

11. Host a dinner party
Hate cooking for one? Need to spice things up a bit? Dying for the company of a restaurant? Host a dinner party! Dinner parties don’t have to be a one woman (or man) show. Ask your friends to bring a dish and serve it up family style!

12. Keep frozen foods on hand
And if all else fails, keep food in the freezer for those times when you are too tired or hungry or just plain don’t want to cook. Frozen leftovers are culinary gold. But a couple of chicken breasts, a bag of frozen veggies and some soy sauce will do just fine in a pinch. Instant stir fry. Instant dinner.

What tricks do you have for eating more meals at home? Let me know in the comments!

love,
melanie

 

 

 

How to Make Doughnuts from Canned Biscuits!

Canned Biscuit Doughnuts with Powdered SugarShopping with my mom is always an adventure. She’s a couponer, so the excursion always involves a lot of math and ends in exhaustion. By the end of the trip, I’m a certified shopping sherpa. Last time we went shopping with my mom, George spotted a doughnut maker that with a coupon was a whopping $5. It was a steal, but we have no room for a doughnut maker the size of a George Foreman Grill. To pry George away from the doughnut maker, I had to promise to make real, glutenous doughnuts.

Biscuit DoughnutsI could have baked up the doughnuts from scratch, but sometimes you just need to take the easy way out. And believe it or not, this is the way my grandma used to make doughnuts, homemade, straight from the can.

Canned Biscuit DoughnutsIngredients:
1 can of pop and bake biscuits
Vegetable oil or the oil of your choice
1 cup of powdered sugar
1/2 tsp of vanilla
1 tsp of milk

Heat approximately 1/2 inch of oil on medium-low in a cast iron pan. Pop the can of biscuits. Separate the biscuits from each other and each biscuit top from the bottom. This creates a thinner doughnut that will fry easier. At this point you can cut a hole in the middle of the doughnut or leave it au natural. George insisted that they weren’t real doughnuts without the hole.

Once the oil is bubbling slightly around the edges, drop the doughnuts gently into the oil. When they puff up and start turning golden brown, flip them over and cook the other side.

When both sides are cooked, remove from the oil and place on a paper towel. While the doughnuts are cooling, mix up the glaze. Simply add the milk and vanilla to the powdered sugar and mix! Then dip the doughnuts in the glaze. If you really want to guild the lily, finish with more powdered sugar.

What are your favorite recipe hacks? Let me know in the comments!

love,
melanie

Valentine’s Day Dinner Ideas

We’ve been snowed in for the past couple days and things are getting pretty weird around here. Last night we screamed at each other just to scream. Not fighting, just yelling. My butt hurts from laying in bed for a prolonged period and I’m afraid we’ll run out of wine soon. It’s not the most romantic of Valentine’s Days, for sure. But tonight I’m planning on making dinner and maybe tomorrow we’ll get to venture out into the snowpocolypse for more romantic sustenance. Or at least sustenance that requires changing out of pajamas.

Here’s some ideas for tonight’s meal:

Baked Brie with raspberry jelly and walnutsThis baked brie with raspberry sauce would be a great way to start your meal.

Pork Chops I don’t think it gets more romantic than bacon. Who’s with me? Check out the recipe for these bacon-wrapped pork chops.

Pizza with an egg on top!

Pizza is my favorite Friday night meal. It’s quick, easy and cheesy. Doesn’t get much better than that. Click here to learn more about my favorite way to serve pizza.

pudding2This rice pudding is a great way to end a meal. I affectionately refer to it as love puddin’.

how to make snow creamAnd since we’re snowed in, it’s only appropriate to serve snow cream! Learn more about snow cream here.

Are you cooking at home for Valentine’s Day? Let me know in the comments!

love and happy Valentine’s!
melanie