October 22, 2014

Chicken Meatloaf with Spinach and Feta Cheese

Christmas season is fast approaching and I am dreading the shipping portion of the holiday. While many women love to go to the store and shop, I am missing that gene. Don't get me wrong I like going and buying shoes and the occasional birthday gift, but there is something about Christmas shopping that makes me feel like a deer caught in the headlights. The crowds are always large, patience is at a minimum, and parking lots turn into madhouses. The whole situation just stresses me out. I end up drinking too much coffee to cope, making me even more agitated and cranky. I wish the holidays would have less importance placed on gifts and a little more focus on just enjoying the company of loved ones.

My family absolutely loves meatloaf. They would eat it multiple times a week if I let them. Since I can't eat gluten I am always looking for recipes that I can modify to fit my needs. The following is a recipe for Chicken Meatloaf with Spinach and Feta Cheese that works with both regular and gluten free panko breadcrumbs.

Recipe adapted from Redbook Magazine and Heather Cristo.

Chicken Meatloaf with Spinach and Feta Cheese

Yield: 8 servings
Calories per serving: 252
Fat per serving: 10 grams

  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 lbs ground chicken
  • 1 small onion, shredded
  • 1/4 cup rough chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Greek seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Cooking Directions
  1. Combine together panko breadcrumbs and whole milk in a small bowl.
  2. Let stand until milk has been completely absorbed into breadcrumbs.
  3. In another bowl combine chicken, onion, parsley, dried oregano, spinach, cheese, eggs, Greek seasoning and ground pepper.
  4. Stir in panko/milk mixture.
  5. Form meatloaf into a football shape and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  6. In a small bowl combine 1/4 cup ketchup, 2 tablespoons grainy mustard, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar.
  7. Brush the top of the meatloaf with the glaze.
  8. Bake for 25 minutes in a preheated 375 degree oven.
  9. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
  • This recipe works very well with gluten free panko breadcrumbs. If you eat gluten free and have never tried gluten free panko breadcrumbs, they are great in meatloaf and meat dishes. 
  • If you don't have Greek seasoning you can just add salt or another variety of seasoning salt. 
  • Make sure to completely squeeze your spinach dry. If the spinach stays too wet the meatloaf will be soggy after baking. 

October 21, 2014

Banana Muffins Made with Homemade Baking Mix

The men in my family can't seem to find the clothes basket or the trash can. When I wake up in the morning most of my first hour of the day is spent picking up dirty clothes from the living room and bedroom floors. I have tried training them and it lasts for about a week. Then they are back to leaving things throughout the house. It's almost like they are Hansel and Gretel and need a trail to find their way between the bathroom and their bedrooms. My husband isn't much better than my kids. He normally keeps his clothes in one pile, but he has pairs and pairs of shoes all over the house. Seriously the man changes his shoes 3-4 times a day. I tried charts to modify their behavior and honestly the charts became more of a chore than picking up the mess. Maybe I need to train myself to not pick up after them so they start doing it themselves. Realistically though I can only go a couple of hours before it would start to drive me nuts.

My kids run in the house every afternoon and ask what I made for their after school snack. They are always starving after school and will literally eat everything in the cupboard if I gave them the chance. I try to make foods that are easy to hold such as muffins, crackers, etc so they can do their homework while eating. Having a baking mix made up ahead of time is a nice way to save time, making it so I only have to spend less than a half an hour in the kitchen. This recipe for Banana Muffins is made using a Homemade Baking Mix that can also be used to make scones and biscuits (recipes to come).

Recipe Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

Homemade Baking Mix

  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 sticks frozen unsalted butter, grated
  • 6 cups all-purpose or bread flour
Cooking Directions
  1. Combine sugar, baking powder, salt, and flour.
  2. Stir in butter, making sure there aren't any large clumps.
  3. Store in fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Banana Muffins

  • 2 1/4 cups homemade baking mix, room temp
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2-3 bananas)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 large egg, beaten
Cooking Directions
  1. Combine baking mix, sugar and cinnamon.
  2. Break up any large butter clumps with your fingers.
  3. In another bowl combine milk, eggs, and bananas.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients.
  5. Stir well until completely combined.
  6. Divide batter into a greased (or paper lined) 12 muffin cup muffin pan.
  7. Fill each cup about 3/4 of the way full.
  8. Sprinkle each cup with granulated sugar.
  9. Bake muffins in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 22-25 minutes.
  10. Let muffins cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan.
  • This is a very versatile baking mix. You can also use it to make scones, biscuits, and pancakes. 
  • If you want to add a little chocolate to your banana muffins this recipe would work well with dark chocolate chunks or with a few tablespoons of peanut butter. 

October 20, 2014

Pumpkin Cookies with Browned Butter Frosting

I used to have really great time management. Apparently it has gone away, or my kids have taken it I'm not sure which one is to blame. Regardless of the cause I can't seem to get things done as quickly or in the same amount of time that I used to. I make lots of plans and 10,000 things seem to sprout up to waylay them. I never used to be late for weddings or funerals. The last wedding my family went to we missed everything except the reception and the last funeral we made it in time to drive to the graveside burial. Granted my youngest was car sick both times and there was road construction that we were stuck in for an hour (we were literally 20 feet from the exit, we could have walked quicker). Still I hate being late, or not getting things done early and the older I get the more things seem to be getting done last minute. However, I have also learned that sometimes last minute strokes of genius aren't so bad. I once made a dragon tail for my son's music performance out of an old towel and some newspaper after I found out all the other mommies had sewed costumes for weeks. My son's tail ended up being a hit and he felt like a superstar. So maybe not all things that happen last minute are so bad.

It's fall and that means one thing, pumpkin recipes. I love pumpkin, in drinks, breads, sweets, you name it. One of my favorite ways to incorporate pumpkin in is cookies. Pumpkin cookies are a great way to celebrate fall and the following recipe for pumpkin cookies has a beyond delicious recipe for a browned butter frosting. The frosting alone is worth making the recipe!

Adapted from Betty Crocker Website.

Pumpkin Cookies with Browned Butter Frosting

Recipe by Foodie in WV

Yield: 30 Cookies

  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose or bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves 
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk or heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
Cooking Directions
  1. With a mixer combine sugars, 3/4 cup unsalted butter, and vanilla.
  2. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  3. Add in pumpkin and eggs.
  4. In another bowl combine flour, spices, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Add to ingredients in mixing bowl and beat on low speed for 1-2 minutes.
  6. Roll into one tablespoon balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes in a pre-heated 375 degree oven.
  8. In a saucepan melt 1/3 cup unsalted butter oven medium heat.
  9. Stirring constantly cook butter until it turns light brown.
  10. Take butter off stove and add to mixing bowl along with powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk.
  11. In mixer beat on low speed for 2 minutes until combined.
  12. Add more milk if needed.
  13. When cookies have cooled, frost with browned butter frosting.
  • If you don't have ginger, cloves, and cinnamon, 1-1 1/2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice would also work well in this recipe. 
  • Make sure to constantly stir the butter while waiting for it to brown in order that it doesn't burn. Browned butter can go quickly from browned to burnt, so make sure to not leave it unattended. 
  • If you don't have parchment paper a greased or foil lined baking sheet would also do. I prefer parchment paper since it allows for even baking of cookies and other baked goods. It really does make a difference. 

October 19, 2014

Perfect Homemade Hamburger Buns

While I love fall, I have a strong dislike of holiday decorating. The worst part is that I have a closet full of decorations that I put up every year like clock work when my oldest was little. Then I had my second son and things got a little less fun. Now I am lucky if I get the table top tree up for Christmas. I always make big holiday meals and my table looks great, but decorations annoy me. I think they look great in other people's houses. In mine they spell dust, sifting through closets, and generally too much effort. I don't mind the putting up as much as the taking down. One of the funniest memories I have growing up was my dad wrapping yards and yards of christmas lights around a wrapping paper tube to put away. After the 10th one he just threw the rest away and decided to get new ones the year. My mom got mad and decided that we wouldn't decorate the next year. Instead of being upset, my dad and I remember it as the best Christmas ever since we were always the ones that had to do all the decorating and putting away. Luckily my kids are happy with lots of food and just one decorated table top tree. I am happy that it literally takes seconds to put everything away after the holidays. So at Halloween my house won't be the one with the decorated pumpkins, ghosts, and witches. It will still be full of laughter, fun, and food just with a little less decorating than the other houses.

I try to make everything I can from scratch, including almost all breads and baked goods. For years I tried to find the perfect hamburger bun recipe with mixed results. I found one that was quick, but the shape and texture just weren't perfect. Then about a year ago I tried a new recipe and loved it. It was perfect and I have been using it ever since. Here is the recipe, it makes the perfect buns!

Adapted from the Food Network.

Fluffy Homemade Dinner Rolls

Perfect Hamburger Buns

Recipe Type: Side
Preparation Time: 4h, 30m
Cooking Time: 0h, 40m

  • 1 cup warmed milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 large egg, room temp
  • 1 large egg yolk, room temp
  • 5-5 1/2 cups bread flour
Cooking Directions
  1. Heat the milk and 3 tablespoons butter on the stove, just until the butter melts.
  2. Pour the mixture into a bowl and add the 1/2 cup warm water and the remaining 3 tablespoons butter.
  3. Add the salt, sugar, egg, and egg yolk.
  4. Stir to combine.
  5. Dissolve the yeast in the 1/4 cup warm water.
  6. Wait until it foams (about 5 minutes) and then add to the bowl.
  7. Add flour until the dough comes together.
  8. You may not need the full 5 cups.
  9. Turn dough onto the counter and knead for 5-8 minutes.
  10. Adding more flour (or warm water) as needed (you want a soft, but not sticky dough).
  11. Place dough into an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 2 hours (or until double in size).
  12. Punch down dough, re-cover bowl and allow dough to rise for another hour.
  13. Punch dough down once more.
  14. Make dough into 10 pieces.
  15. Roll each piece of dough into a smooth ball.
  16. Cut each ball through the center (like you would if you were cutting a bun to place a hamburger within) into two pieces.
  17. Place the two pieces back together (the same way they were before you cut them) and pinch the seam close.
  18. Tuck the pinched seam under the ball.
  19. Place the finished bun on a parchment lined baking sheet and slightly flatten the bottom.
  20. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
  21. You should end up with 10-12 total buns.
  22. Cover and allow the buns to rise for 30 minutes.
  23. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  24. After rising brush the tops of each bun with melted butter.
  25. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
  26. Brush the buns once more with butter.
  • This recipe may seem daunting at first with all the steps, but it really isn't. Once you have made it once it is very easy and it takes me less than a 1/2 hour of actual work. 
  • If you have a bread maker the steps up until the second rise work great in a bread maker. I normally use my bread maker on the dough cycle to prep bread, it's so much easier. 
  • If you have instant or bread maker yeast, you can skip the step of proofing the yeast in water. I just combine my yeast with the flour and then add it to the wet ingredients. I only proof my yeast about once a month to make sure it's still active. 
  • These also make great sandwich buns, so don't just limit yourself to burgers! 

October 14, 2014

Fluffy Homemade Dinner Rolls

I am becoming more sensitive as I age. For the most part I can let things go and other people's actions or words don't bother me. However, when they do bother me they tend to bother me more than they did in my 20's. I think part of it has to do with the fact that as I've gotten older there are more things to worry about, my kids, my husband, my father. When someone then does something that is mean or hurtful I have no more room to want to deal with the aftermath. So I tend to cut ties. I let friendships last through bad patches a lot more 15 years ago. Now honestly if someone is hurtful more than a few times, I let the friendship naturally end. I allow myself to be the number one priority in the relationship. My sense of worth is high enough in my middle 30's to know that the people that care the most are not the ones that are hurtful. I also understand that as a society the birth of the internet and a connected world has made us all more jaded and oblivious to some of the behaviors that we all exhibit. I have to watch myself from saying things that I would have thought hurtful before we started sitting behind computers instead of face to face. At the end of the day I try to surround myself with people that make me feel better just by being in their presence. In my 30's that circle has gotten smaller than it was in my 20's, but the bonds are much stronger and I cherish the relationships I have forged.

I have been offline for a while. My youngest started kindergarten this year and has managed to bring home every sickness known to man, including a nasty case of hand, foot, and mouth (yuck). So I have been cooking and baking, but not taking many pictures due to time. No pictures means a lack of blog posts, but I will eventually get back into the grove (hopefully before my kids leave for college). There is one recipe in my house that came from my mother-in-law that makes the rotation in my kitchen at least once a month and at every holiday gathering. It's delicious and works perfectly every time. So without further babbling here is my mother-in-law's recipe for Fluffy Homemade Rolls.

Fluffy Homemade Dinner Rolls

Fluffy Homemade Dinner Rolls

Recipe Type: Side
Preparation Time: 2h, 20m
Cooking Time: 0h, 40m

  • 4 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 6-7 cups all-purpose or bread flour
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/2 cups warm water
  • 6-7 cups water
Cooking Directions
  1. Measure sugar, salt, oil, and water in a bowl.
  2. Add yeast and 2 cups flour and beat.
  3. Knead in additional flour to make a soft elastic dough and continue kneading for 5-8 minutes.
  4. Place dough in an oiled bowl and let rise until double in size (about 1 hour).
  5. Punch dough down.
  6. Divide dough into 20 rolls.
  7. Make rolls by rolling each piece into a round ball and tucking the ends under the bottom.
  8. Place rolls into one greased 13x9 inch pan and one 8x8 (the 8x8 is normally only half full of rolls).
  9. Instead of rolling the second pan into rolls the dough also works well for cinnamon rolls or sweet buns.
  10. Let rolls rise until doubled (about 1 hour).
  11. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes.
  • This recipe also work wells when done on the dough cycle in the bread machine. Then you just have to shape the rolls and do the second rise. 
  • I have tried these rolls with half white whole wheat and half bread flour and they worked well. You could try increasing the amount of white whole wheat even more, but you would also need to increase the amount of yeast. 
  • I am determined sometime in the next year to make pepperoni rolls with this recipe. I think they would be delicious, so stay tuned eventually I will get around to it! 

October 2, 2014

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

My kid's bus stop has turned into mommy drama central. I try to stay away from drama as much as possible. I'm not one of those people who loves to be involved in other people's business, I would prefer things to stay pretty vanilla. However, I am also a person that when I see bad behavior repeatedly for weeks at a time I do finally say something. This week I had to go into drama central and I'm not feeling awesome about the whole thing. Here's the back story. My kid's bus stop is on a very busy street. There are approximately 15 kids at the stop, 7 of which are boys. Recently the boys have been standing at the very edge of the curb almost into the street for over 5 minutes while waiting for the bus. Then they fight, hit, and shove each other. Yesterday I hit my breaking point. I had tried telling them not to do it, but since their mommies were not at the bus stop they chose to ignore me. Then yesterday one of them talked back to me and told me that there was nothing that I could do about it. That did it. I got them written up by the principal. I had to deal with the aftermath of my decision with a confrontational mom at the bus stop this afternoon. Luckily I am quick thinking and turned the anger into laughter about raising boys. I hope the whole thing is over, two weeks of dealing with drama is way more than I am equipped for, it's making me tired and sick of the whole thing.

On to the recipe! I love cookies, but most cookies made with gluten free flours are either too dry, or just taste lacking. Peanut butter cookies are great gluten free and can be made completely without flour and only a handful of ingredients. The following is an easy recipe for Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies.

Adapted from Southern Living.

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

Recipe Type: Dessert
With only 5 ingredients and one bowl this is an easy and delicious dessert recipe.
Preparation Time: 0h, 5m
Cooking Time: 0h, 15m

  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • optional : 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Cooking Directions:
  1. Stir together all ingredients (except chocolate chips), add chocolate chips if using.
  2. Roll into one tablespoon rounds and place 2 inches apart on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  3. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 12 to 14 minutes.
  4. Wait 10 minutes before moving cookies to a cooling rack.
  • These cookies are crumbly if you do not allow them to cool before moving them. For best results allow them to cool completely on the baking sheet. 
  • I have tried these cookies both with chocolate chips and without and they work well either way. They would also work with peanut butter chips or toffee bits. 
  • If you do not eat granulated sugar you could experiment with coconut sugar or sugar substitute. I have not tried these substitution, but I have tried coconut and date sugars in other recipes and they have worked well. 

September 26, 2014

5-hour ENERGY® “Yummification” Video Contest Winners

#sponsored Disclaimer: In return for this post I will be receiving 5-hour ENERGY® products and a gift card. As always all opinions expressed are solely my own. 

Back in August I shared my recipe for a Decaf 5-hour ENERGY® Mint Lemonade. The post was part of a larger contest by 5-hour ENERGY® and the winners have now been chosen for their “Yummification” Video Contest. 

The winning videos and recipes are posted at http://5hourenergy.com/yummification.

·         First Place ($50,000 prize): “Pomelimelade” by Tim Merlau, Los Angeles, CA
o   This winning submission mixes a Pomegranate 5-hour ENERGY® shot with limeade, and then takes us on a musical journey through all that can be accomplished over several hours. 

o   “Pomelimelade”
1 glass Limeade
1 shot of Pomegranate 5-hour ENERGY® 

·         Second Place ($30,000 prize): “Ramalamadingdong” by Mark Golembeski, Los Angeles, CA

o   The second place video helps us turn that 2:30 feeling frown upside down by mixing a 5-hour ENERGY® shot with lemonade.  This video has it all: a clown, a puppy, a guy in a tutu, and much more. 

o   “Ramalamadingdong”
1 glass Lemonade
1 shot of Berry 5-hour ENERGY® 

·         Third Place ($10,000 prize): “Arnold Power” by Zac Sheorn, Lugoff, SC

o   The third place winner reminds us that you don’t have to be good at sports, but mixing a Pink Lemonade 5-hour ENERGY® shot with decaffeinated iced tea helps keep you refreshed while practicing.  And practicing. 

o   “Arnold Power”
1 glass Decaf Iced Tea
1 shot of Pink Lemonade 5-hour ENERGY® 

Here is the link to my original recipe in case you want to try it for yourself: 

All three of the videos are clever and worth the watch. Plus the limeade recipe sounds pretty good, I am a big limeade fan! 
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