Semi-healthy brownie cookie bites

brownie cookie bites

I was really craving something deliciously chocolate-y the other day but didn’t want all that butter, sugar, and fat. And I wasn’t sure if I wanted cookies or brownies (yeah, I’m indecisive) so decided to combine the two with an egg-free and semi-healthy recipe that totally took care of my chocolate craving. And this recipe is so easy your kid can make it. Really. Mine basically did.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon applesauce

1 tablespoon plain yogurt

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup sugar

Dash of salt

1/2 cup flour (you could use whole wheat or half white and half wheat)

1/4 cup Dutch process cocoa

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup milk chocolate chips (optional – or you can swap with carob chips)

Directions

Measure and add all the ingredients to a mixing bowl and stir until incorporated. While you are getting things ready, preheat your oven to 350˚ F and line an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread, creating a nice and even layer of goodness. When your oven is ready toss the brownie cookie bites into the oven. For really fudgy bites, bake for 12 minutes. For a crisper crust, and a nicely set brownie cookie, leave in the oven for around 18 minutes, which what I did. Remove and let come to room temperature before even touching them.

brownie cookie bites2

These bake wonderfully, but if you try to cut them right now, they’ll be a big melty mess. Yes, a big melty mess is still wonderfully tasty, but your brownie cookie bites will resemble a warm baked pudding more than a crisp and gooey brownie cookie bite if you cut them fresh from the oven. After around 30 minutes, remove from the pan with the help of the parchment paper and cut into small squares.

brownie bites 3

Depending on how big you like your brownie cookies will decide how many you get from the pan. I think we cut around 20, but ate at least four right away. I’ve experimented with healthy brownies in the past, and these totally won out on flavor and gooey factor. And you can make them even healthier by using whole wheat flour and swapping a banana for the veggie oil (they just might be a bit denser with a touch of a nana tang).

 

Roasted celery root soup with fresh cracked black pepper

Roasted celery root soup

It’s been really cold here. Yeah, I live in California, but it’s been really, really cold, which just isn’t right. I moved here so many years ago after a stint of teaching in Duluth, and a childhood in Wisconsin, for the warmer weather. Yes, it rains here during the winter, but it’s usually in the mid 50s to 60’s. The last couple of mornings I’ve woken to frost so thick the tot and I could make snowballs in the morning.

Bah.

When it’s cold I think of soup. Rich, creamy, nourishing soup. Full of flavor and comforting food love, a hearty soup is just the right thing on a winter’s afternoon. I’m all about healthy recipes right now so got out one of my new Calphalon pans and started simmering.

I dug up a celery root the other day at the farm and had a few other ingredients that were perfect for a healthy, cream-free version of a delicious soup that would be perfect for a simple lunch or first dinner course. And you’ll love how versatile this soup is. Toss in cubed leftover chicken, stir in spinach leaves, or top with a slice of toast melted with cheese — just like I did.

Ingredients

1 celery root

1 medium onion

3 cloves garlic

4 small red potatoes

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon oil

1 tablespoon flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning

4+ cups water

Fresh cracked black pepper

Directions

If you’re shopping for celery root at your grocery store, you’ll find them tucked around the beets and cabbages. And they aren’t the prettiest things…

celery root

Preheat your oven to 400F and trim the outer skin from the celery root, revealing what looks like an extra large, and roundish, potato. Chop into chunks and place on a sheet pan. Cut the onion into large slices and add to the celery root. Peel the red potatoes, chop, and add to the mix too. Give the garlic cloves a bash, remove the skins, and add along with the vegetable oil and salt. Pop into the oven for 10-minutes.

celery root 2

After 10-minutes things will just be starting to brown on the edges, creating the really lovely roasted flavor that makes this soup delicious. Give things a toss and then pop back into the oven for an additional seven minutes of roasting.

celery root 3

Place the butter and tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large pan and melt together over medium heat. Sprinkle in the flour and mix together, creating a roux base for the soup.

celery root 4

Keep a close eye on the butter mixture, continually stirring until things have turned a light brown. Now slowly add the water while whisking.

celery root 6

Sprinkle in the salt and Italian seasoning and then let come to a simmer…

celery root 7

Ladle a scoop of bubbling water over the sheet pan and give the celery root, onion, garlic, and potato chunks a stir, releasing any caramelized goodness on the bottom of the pan. Now carefully add the vegetables to the broth and cover, letting the soup simmer for 20-minutes.

celery root 8

Sure, you could enjoy this soup nice and chunky, but I love a wonderfully smooth soup. In small batches, puree in a blender. Thin with additional water as needed. Season to taste.

celery root 9

Ladle your soup into a bowl, top with fresh cracked black pepper, and enjoy! This recipes makes just enough for four big bowls of warming winter goodness.

Fresh cranberry lemon yogurt bread

Now that Thanksgiving is over you may have a few leftovers hanging out in the fridge. We happened to have half a bag of fresh cranberries that were starring at me every time I opened the fridge. The tot started calling them “grapes” and really wanted to eat them and then would get angry and confused when I told her they wouldn’t taste very good. But, she was determined, so I let her have one.

Blech.

She was excited about the idea of using them to bake something, so I gathered a few ingredients we sat down for some serious stirring. And this bread turns into a really awesome fine motor skill activity if you encourage your tot to only add one cranberry at a time — and it also keeps your little one busy for a good amount of time….

Ingredients

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Zest of one lemon

1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 cups cranberries

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Dash of salt

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1 1/2 cup flour

Directions

Invite your child to measure and add the yogurt, vanilla, and sugar, giving the ingredients a stir. You can preheat the oven to 400F so it’s nice and hot when you’re finished mixing.

Now offer your tot the cranberries and encourage her to add a few at a time, and then give a stir. While she’s busy, go ahead and zest the lemon over the bowl and then add the fresh squeezed juice.

Measure and add the milk and vegetable oil, inviting your child to continue mixing the ingredients — and adding the cranberries.

Once the cranberries have been mixed into the batter, add the egg, baking powder, baking soda, flour, and dash of salt. Give things a final stir.

Now your child can help grease a loaf pan and then add the batter. Pop the bread into the oven for 45-minutes to an hour, or until the top is toasty brown and a toothpick comes out nice and clean.

Let cool for 30-minutes before slicing and enjoy as an afternoon snack or in the morning toasted with a slathering of butter — my favorite way to eat this tasty, healthy bread.

 

 

My Set, My One-Pot Quick and Healthy Chicken Stroganoff

Have you ever wished you could customize a cookware set for the way you love to cook? Well now you can, with Your Set by Calphalon. I was lucky enough to receive two incredibly versatile pieces, and I used them for some of my favorite dishes.

See how I used the AccuCore Stainless Steel 3-quart Sauté Pan for My Set, My Healthy Chicken Stroganoff.

Click here to read my post and enter for a chance to win one of 16 prizes worth $8,500! You can win a $1,000 cash gift card or one of 15 $500 Your Set by Calphalon gift cards so that you can build your own perfect set!

Click here to start customizing Your Set right now!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

There’s nothing like a one-pot dinner that’s also heathy — and seriously easy to make. With the help of a seriously amazing AccuCore Stainless Steel 3-quart Sauté Pan, I had dinner on the table in no time and in serious style. I’m always trying to find ways to put a healthy spin on dishes and experimented with a twist on the traditional stroganoff by using skinless boneless chicken thighs and swapping sour cream for yogurt.

-keep reading for how to win your own set of Calphalon pans and for my recipe!

Spicy chicken pot pie

There’s nothing like a dinner that makes the whole family happy, which is harder to pull off than you might think. My tot isn’t excited about this or the husband isn’t in the mood for that. So the other night, when I tossed together this seriously simple dinner, I was amazed when everyone asked for seconds — and thirds.

Along with being healthy and a go-to weeknight dinner, this dish also cooks in one pan, making it fitting with this month’s Shine Supper Club Challenge. With tasty one-pot dishes as the focus, I knew my twist on chicken pot pie would be perfect. With a little help from pre-made cornbread mix, a can of beans, fresh veggies, and my new Calphalon 3-quart sauté pan, this spicy twist on the traditional recipe is a fun dinner and makes enough for lunch the next day. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, you could also swap the chicken for shredded leftover turkey, which would also be seriously delish.

Ingredients

1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil

1 pound skinless boneless chicken

1 small onion

2 carrots

2 ribs celery

1 clove garlic

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1 15-ounce can pinto beans

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Hot sauce

1/2 cup salsa

1/4 cup water

1 teaspoon flour

1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1 8.5-ounce box cornbread mix

1 egg

1/3 cup milk

Directions

Place a 3-quart sauté pan over medium heat and drizzle with vegetable oil. Chop the onion, carrot, and celery and add to the pan, giving a stir.

Once the vegetables have cooked for four to five minutes, chop and add the garlic as well as the chicken. Give things a stir and then sprinkle with the salt, paprika, and oregano. Allow the ingredients to simmer together for around five minutes, or until the chicken starts to brown.

Deglaze the pan with the apple cider vinegar then strain and add the beans. Go ahead and add the salsa and water, creating a nice bubbling pan of goodness. Let the mixture simmer while you grate the cheese and make the cornbread muffin batter.

Preheat your oven to 425F. Follow the directions on the cornbread muffin box, mixing with the milk and egg. Don’t forget to grate the cheese, and you could totally use cheddar instead of Monterey Jack, which would be tasty too.

Stir the chicken and then turn off the heat. Sprinkle with the flour and mix together until it’s incorporated. The flour will help pull the liquid together, creating a really flavorful sauce. You can also add a few dashes of hot sauce if you like things nice and spicy.

Sprinkle the cheese over the mixture and then cover with the cornbread mix, using a spoon to spread the batter evenly around the pan.

Pop the spicy chicken pot pie in the oven and bake for 20-minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Serve with extra salsa, a dollop of sour cream, a fresh salad — or all on its own for a delicious weeknight dinner.

Cooking with tots: Butternut squash coconut milk muffins

I had an odd collection of items in the fridge that needed using in some way or another. An end of a butternut squash, half a can of coconut milk, steamed spinach, a bag of cooked pasta…. I had a fleeting idea of tossing everything together into a butternut squash coconut curry pasta dish to enjoy for lunch, but then the tot caught sight of those noodles and she just had to have them.

As soon as she finished her lunch she demanded some sort of “treat” as a reward.

Damn Halloween.

But our candy was fresh out and instead of her begging for “A TREAT A TREAT A TREAT,” I thought it would be wonderful if we baked a treat together instead. And mixing together the high-in-antioxidants butternut squash and coconut milk had the beginnings of a really flavorful and healthy baked goodie. Coconut milk is nut-free, vegan, and vegetarian, making it a fitting alternative to milk when baking and cooking. And it’s nutrient rich, high in protein, and packed with healthy fatty acids. I love cooking and baking with my tot because it’s not about how pretty things turn out, it’s all about creating something together — and making it taste good while being healthy.

Ingredients

1/2 cup cooked butternut squash

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup coconut milk

1 egg

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Dash of salt

1 1/4 cup flour

Honey

Directions

Let’s be honest, there’s not much to this recipe. Preheat your oven to 375F and then invite your child to help measure and add the ingredients into a mixing bowl. Slowly stir everything together until the batter comes together. And if a little more of this or that ends up in the mix, I’m sure your muffins will still be tasty.

Then pop liners in a muffin tin and then invite your child to (attempt to) evenly distribute the batter in the tins. Drizzle with a squeeze of honey for extra yummy flavor. My tot assisted with the drizzling while her favorite stuffed animal watched, making sure she got a big glop on each muffin.

Place the muffins in the oven for 20-minutes or until the tops are nicely browned and slightly cracked. Let cool and then dig in.

Enjoy!

Easy homemade tomato sauce

We’ve had a bit of rain, and a couple of cold nights, which means it’s time to harvest all the veggies before they go bad. Down the road there’s a local farm that welcomes members to pick all the goodies and leave some cash based on the honor system. I headed over and loaded up on tomatoes, brought them home, and picked the few remaining from our sad little vines. I haven’t made homemade sauce before, but knew it was the best way to savor the wonderful flavor of the ripe red beauties.

I started by peeling the tomatoes, which is as easy as using a sharp knife to make a big X on the bottoms of the tomatoes and then tossing them into boiling water for a couple of minutes. I had around four pounds of tomatoes and figured that would make a good amount of sauce…

Place the hot tomatoes in a bowl of ice water and let sit for a moment.

Now the skins will just peel away from the tomatoes. While you’re removing the skins, place the tomatoes over a bowl with a strainer over the top, and give them a squeeze to remove the seeds, but save the juice in the bowl beneath.

Warm a tablespoon of olive oil with a few cloves of crushed garlic until the cloves start to sizzle and then add the crushed tomatoes and juice, ditching the seeds and skins. Sprinkle in some salt, a pinch of sugar, and a good dash of Italian seasoning. Let simmer for 10-minutes.

Now remove from heat and blend the tomatoes with a hand blender or in batches in the blender. Be careful — this stuff is hot! Give your sauce a taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.

Place the sauce back in the pan and simmer on low for at least 30-minutes, reducing the sauce and deepening the flavor.

Once you’re happy with the consistency and flavor, turn off the heat and let the sauce cool before ladling into jars. Use for topping your favorite pasta, making tasty lasagna, or as a pizza sauce.

Healthy chocolate bundt cake

There’s nothing like chocolate cake. I have been craving something sweet for months but been attempting to eat a bit healthier so haven’t been making as many sweet treats as I used to. I figured I could try my hand at healthying-up an old favorite — delicate and rich chocolate bundt cake. I’m not really sure what the whole point of baking the cake in the bundt cake pan is, I just know it makes it easy to slice and eat without a plate, which is sometimes essential as a mom that might have to steal a sweet snack on the fly.

This recipe uses half the sugar and flour than other chocolate bundt cake recipes call for and has a few secret ingredients that make it super moist. All I know is I baked the lovely cake on Sunday, and even though there is still a good chunk of it left, my husband is still raving about how good it is, my daughter begs for a slice all hours of the day, and a skinny sliver takes care of my chocolate cravings.

Ingredients 

3/4 cup cocoa

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup plain yogurt

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 eggs

1 ripe banana

1 1/2 cups flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Extra flour and vegetable oil for prepping the bundt pan

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350F and prep your bundt pan by giving it a rub down with vegetable oil and then a dusting of flour.

Now add the cocoa, sugar, honey, salt, vanilla, yogurt, and oil in a medium mixing bowl and give a stir until the cocoa is incorporated. Now you can toss in the eggs and banana and use a hand mixer to really create a smooth batter. You don’t really taste the banana or yogurt, but they help make the cake seriously moist.

Slowly add the flour, baking soda and powder, and give another quick blend with the hand mixer.

Pour into the prepared bundt pan and pop in the hot oven for 50 to 60-minutes. You want the center to just be set, which makes the cake seriously moist.

Let the cake rest for 20-minutes and then flip onto a plate. Dust with powdered sugar, drizzle with honey, drench with chocolate syrup, or just eat plain with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Yum.

 

 

Honey ricotta snack muffins

ricotta muffins

The other day the whole family had the sniffles. We didn’t feel sick, just stuffy. Then my ears started ringing, and my husband commented his were too. It’s been warm and windy here and a few trees are enjoying a late bloom, so figured this was the culprit. We have a Mimosa tree, which is seriously beautiful, but it’s in full bloom and dripping pollen.

Thus our stuffiness.

The husband and I can pop pills to ease our sniffles, but I’m not so excited about giving anything to the tot. While at the local farmers market the other day, I ran into mama friend and she suggested picking up some local honey, which might help. See, those bees love the pollen from the trees, head back to the hive and make the delicious honey, and when we eat it, the honey helps build the body’s immunity to allergens.

Something like that.

I love honey and had some ricotta in the fridge that needed to be used, to combined the two with these seriously good snack muffins. I even popped a spoonful of organic strawberry jam in the middle for an extra pop of fresh summer flavor.

Ingredients

3/4 cup ricotta cheese

1 tablespoon honey

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup jam

Direction

There’s not much to say — just toss all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, except the jam, and give things a good stir until everything comes together. While things are mixing, preheat your oven to 375F so things are nice and hot when you are ready.

Lightly grease your muffin tin and add a spoonful of the muffin batter to each. Spread to cover the bottom and then drop about 1/4 a teaspoon of your favorite kind of jam on each.

Cover with another dollop of the batter, sprinkle with a bit more sugar — or drizzle with honey (or both like we did), and then pop in your hot oven for 15 to 17-minutes.

ricotta muffins

Let cool for a few minutes, use a knife to help remove your tasty honey ricotta snack muffins, and enjoy!

 

Frozen banana treats

frozen banana treats

Summer is here and it’s awesome. I’m ready for long days filled with not much of anything to do, grilled dinners, and some serious sitting-in-the sun-while-reading-a-book time. This also means finding fun ways to keep the tot fed as well as cool. If things are healthy, even better. This is a simple recipe perfect for a hot summer day. These frozen banana treats can be tossed together in the morning, left in the freezer to chill for a couple of hours, making them ready for cool summer eating by the afternoon.

Bananas are a high in potassium, which gives your child’s busy body a cardiovascular boost as well as help in building strong bones. Yogurt is full of probiotics, creating happy tummies. And peanut butter offers a nice protein kick, keeping kids full of fuel.

Ingredients

4 large bananas

1 cup plain yogurt

1/4 cup peanut butter

1 teaspoon powdered sugar

2 cups puffed rice cereal

Wooden skewers

This is such as easy recipe, which makes it perfect for kids to make all on their own. Keep things safe by trimming the pointed ends from the wooden skewers and then cutting in half before getting started.

Measure and add the yogurt and peanut butter to a bowl and whisk together. Once things are smooth, add the powdered sugar and stir. Go ahead and pour the puffed rice cereal onto a plate.

Peel the bananas and then cut in half. Place a square of aluminum foil under the bananas, which makes cleanup easier.

Use a butter knife to coat the outsides of the bananas. Along with being fun, slathering that peanut-yogurt mixture on those bananas hones fine-motor skills and takes concentration. Gently roll the bananas in the puffed rice. Once coated, spear with a skewer and pop in the freezer for at least 2-hours.

Yum!

I think you could coat just about anything with this tasty peanut butter yogurt frosting, roll it in puffed rice, and it would be good. We tried strawberries – but you could also experiment with apple or pear slices, chunks of pineapple, or even grapes!

Happy summer!