Greg and I had been dating for only one month when Valentine’s Day was upon us in 2009. Not wanting to deal with crowded, expensive restaurants, we decided to cook dinner together… for the first time. I selected this recipe from a magazine at work. I have long since forgotten which magazine it came from, but I will never forget how nervous I was to demonstrate how little I knew about cooking to Greg. Despite my clumsiness and “Oh no! I was supposed to add the (fill in the blank) 5 minutes ago!” moments, the dish turned out great, and Greg didn’t dump me. Win-win.

 

Since that day four years ago, we/I’ve made this recipe many times. Each time I’ve served it in the last year, Greg has asked me, “Is this on the blog yet?” Greg will be glad to know that this delicious dish is now out there for all to see and enjoy. :)

P.S. We usually add a bit more Dijon mustard than the recipe calls for, but I’ve included the full recipe in its original form.

 

macaroni and cheese with cauliflower    serves 6

hands-on time: 15 minutes

total time: 45 minutes

 

12 ounces multigrain elbow macaroni

1 head cauliflower, roughly chopped

4 slices multigrain bread, torn

½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

kosher salt and black pepper

1 onion, finely chopped

1 ½ cups grated extra-sharp Cheddar (6 ounces)

1 ½ cups reduced-fat sour cream

½ cup 1 percent milk

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

 

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, adding the cauliflower during the last 3 minutes of cooking time; drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, pulse the bread in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. Add the parsley, 2 tablespoons of oil, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper and pulse to combine; set aside.

Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pot and turn it to medium heat. Add the onion, ¾ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, just until soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Mix in the pasta, cauliflower, cheese, sour cream, milk, and mustard.

Transfer to a shallow, 3-quart baking dish (or if you don’t have one, a 9×13 like I always do), sprinkle with the bread crumbs, and bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day! My gift to you is to share this delicious and healthy whole wheat pancake recipe that yields light, fluffy, crispy-edged pancakes. These are excellent and escape the hockey-puck fate that too many whole grain pancakes meet. And only 2 tsp sugar for the whole recipe! They are divine. Try them, try them, you will see :)

(to get a heart shaped pancake I place a metal cookie cutter on the griddle and allow the batter to set up inside). 

These would be the perfect vehicle for a little homemade strawberry syrup, don’t you think?

 

healthy whole wheat pancakes

2 cups white whole wheat flour

4 1/2 tsp baking powder (not too old please)

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp sugar

2 large eggs

2 cups milk

2 tsp vanilla

 

mix dry ingredients. add wet ingredients. cook over medium heat on griddle or skillet in butter or non-stick spray.

 

recipe from skinnytaste, clink link to see nutritional profile and ww points for this recipe 

 

Waffles are my go-to comfort food, usually eaten plain or with nut butter, so I’ve come up with all sorts of variations. Last week, I created this recipe combining some of my favorites, and I added carrots because I had a lot of them on hand, and I was curious. The result was a delicious, hearty, and fairly healthy waffle that even my roommate who dislikes carrots in baked goods admitted that she loved them.

This week we made them for dinner but used apples in place of carrots, and we topped them with more apples, browned on the stove with copious amounts of cinnamon and nutmeg. One of my roommates commented that we might as well be having dessert for dinner, and it certainly tasted like it.

 

Dry ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup old-fashioned oats

1/4 cup wheat germ

2 tsp baking powder

1 Tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cloves

1 tsp cinnamon

Wet ingredients:

1 egg

1 1/2 cups milk

2 Tbsp oil

1 Tbsp vanilla

Addition:

1 cup either grated carrot (one medium-to-large carrot) or diced apple

 

Preheat the waffle iron. Whisk the dry ingredients together. Then add the wet ingredients and stir together. Fold in the apple or carrot. Let the batter sit for about three minutes.  Cook waffles until they are golden brown (in my waffle iron, that’s about 3 minutes). Enjoy.

 

When I came back to college after Christmas, Provo was experiencing red air quality thanks to the surrounding mountains trapping all the pollution. So I rejected the idea of heading back outside into the awful haziness to grab groceries. However, it was Saturday night; therefore, I needed something made exclusively of the non-perishable food I had left in my apartment for Sunday’s meals. (No, I did not top my pizza with non-perishable cheese product, canned spinach, artificially preserved onions, or canned tomatoes. But this is related to me making pizza. I promise.) Since I did have dried garbanzo beans, I decided on hummus. Roasted garlic hummus, to be specific.

The recipe I found had no instructions on how to roast the garlic, but I fortunately remembered that dear Diana had given instructions for such a thing in her pizza recipe. Once I looked at her pictures, I knew that I had to make pizza. Soon. Because I love the taste of whole grains (in anything and everything), I searched for a whole wheat pizza dough. Even I doubted that a whole wheat pizza crust would work out as well, but I was willing to give it a shot. My doubt was ill-founded.

Monday morning found me at the grocery store, furiously stocking up on vegetables, but to my dismay, many college students had the same plan or perhaps simply needed victuals desperately. I left without all of my supplies because the store was running low on just about everything. That afternoon I decided to start the dough before trying again since I was sure the deficit would be rectified by Monday morning deliveries. However, returning after class yielded some, but not all, that I needed to create this delicious concoction. I searched another grocery store, further from campus, hoping that their supplies would be less depleted by ravenous college students. They weren’t, so I continued my quest. As I headed off, I got a phone call. “Margaret, the timer’s going off. Is there something you want me to do so your food isn’t ruined?” I had forgotten that my dough was rising, but since I had set the timer just to see how fast it was rising, I decided that waiting until I got home would do no serious damage. Hopefully, the next store would have what I needed.

Fortunately it did: far from campus, I obtained that elusive and exceptionally rare ingredient: spinach. Yes, spinach. Finally, I was able to make pizza, and I got to enjoy Diana’s pizza with the deliciousness of a light, flavorful, whole-wheat crust. The crust paired very well with the ricotta, spinach, garlic, onion, and tomato. (The stores were out of mozzarella and parmesan as well, but I considered them to be ingredients of lesser importance than the spinach. I compensated by using a cup and a half of ricotta.) In fact, loving wheat as much as I do, I felt the crust improved the already remarkable flavor of this pizza. Those who are less obsessed with the texture and flavor of whole grains may disagree, but it is still delicious and a bit more healthy than a traditional crust.

Ingredients:

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast or instant yeast (1 package)
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup hot water
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp honey

Preparation:

1) In large mixing bowl, combine whole wheat flour, yeast and salt. Blend in water, oil and honey. Knead until all ingredients for about 3 minutes.

2) Cover and let rise for approximately an hour to allow the dough to double in size.

3)Preheat oven to 425*. Place dough in greased 12- to 14-inch pizza pan. (I don’t have a pizza pan. Therefore, a cookie sheet took the job. It worked just fine.) Roll dough to edges of the pan.

4) Prick dough with fork all over to prevent irregular bubbles.

5) Bake for 8 minutes; remove from oven and add toppings. Bake for another 10-12 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

 

After making Rebecca’s pumpkin pancakes, I had some extra pumpkin to use up, so I decided to make pumpkin bread. This recipe is impressively good. (I strongly recommend home-ground wheat flour by the way. It is a serious improvement on the store version. (Thanks for the wheat, Mom, by the way.))  I stumbled across it here, but that blog adapted it from here, where it is a vegan recipe.

1 ½ C whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves

1 egg, beaten
¾ C brown sugar, packed
¾ C low-fat plain yogurt (I used fat-free, actually, because it’s what I can get most easily, and it worked out just fine)
1 C canned pure pumpkin (or 1 cup fresh pureed winter squash)
3 T oil
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a bread pan. (I used 9×5 because that’s what I have, but the recipe calls for 8×4. It seems to work well either way.) In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, ginger, and cloves.  Set aside. In a medium bowl mix egg, sugar, yogurt, pumpkin, oil, and vanilla until well blended.  Add to flour mixture, stirring until just combined. If you desire to add nuts or chocolate chips, add them at this point. Pour batter into pan. Bake 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan 10 minutes, and then remove from pan to cool on a wire rack.

 

I’ve made this recipe a couple times since I discovered it, and I love it! Pumpkin is the best Fall flavor, and I can’t get enough these days. These pancakes are easy and fast, and they taste just like little pumpkin pies – the insides are soft and moist, but the outsides are perfectly crispy. The original recipe said to sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top, but I took it a step further with some cinnamon-spiced whipped cream. I didn’t measure, but you can find a recipe similar to what I made here. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes (recipe from Pennies on a Platter)

1¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
Dash of ground ginger
Dash of ground cloves
1 cup milk
½ cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg
2 tbsp. melted butter

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, pumpkin, egg and butter. Stir into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  The batter may still be lumpy.

Heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat.  Pour the batter on the griddle or skillet in ~1/3 cup portions. When bubbles start forming on the top of the pancakes, carefully use a spatula to flip to the other side. Let cook for a few more minutes until golden brown.  Serve with cinnamon sugar, maple syrup, and/or whipped cream.

 

I realized today that I did not have enough oats on hand for another batch of granola, and I felt like having a bit of a treat for surviving my first month on my own. So I searched online for something easy that required fewer oats and found this. These cookies are remarkably similar to granola in both taste and ingredients, and yet they feel a lot more like treats. They may not be quite as sweet as typical cookies, but they are absolutely delicious, my roommates informed me. I took some over to Sarah’s house, and her boys devoured about a dozen between the two of them, so they are little-kid-approved as well. The recipe called for raisins or walnuts, but I skipped them since I didn’t have any. And I don’t like raisins. Also, I made them with the recipe’s original amount of cinnamon, but I think more cinnamon would increase their already good flavor.

Ingredients:

Dry ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (a pinch more depending on the moisture of the mix)
  • 1 1/2 cups of rolled oats
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Wet ingredients

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 egg (beat with 1 Tbsp water)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Preparation:

  1. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix all the wet ingredients together. Use the oil measuring cup for the honey as well so that the honey doesn’t stick as much.
  3. Mix the wet stuff with the dry stuff. If the mixture seems too wet, add a bit of flour. If it isn’t binding together very well, you may wish to add an egg white.
  4. Cool the mix for 20 minutes in the fridge.
  5. Preheat the oven to 335 degrees.
  6. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto your baking sheet (It doesn’t need to be greased). Press down with a fork for flatter cookies. They work just fine if you don’t and are less crunchy, so it depends on your preference.
  7. Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden on the bottom of the cookie. The cookies freeze very well and make a great snack! Enjoy.

Note: Making them with teaspoonful drops gave me about 4 dozen cookies. They go quickly, though.

 

I love the idea of these wraps, even though I usually make them without any meat at all. I’ve discovered since trying these a long time ago that you can fit a remarkable amount of vegetables in a wrap, far more than you could hope to contain in a sandwich. Additionally, this recipe involves grated carrot which is far juicier and tastier than chopped carrot for some reason. Since discovering this I have grated my carrots often for use in sandwiches and wraps (mostly wraps since sandwiches become much messier much more quickly.

Turkey Lunch-Box Wraps

2 whole-wheat tortillas (8 inches)

2 teaspoons honey mustard

6 ounces thinly sliced deli turkey (or skip this and add more vegetables)

2 thin slices Muenster cheese (or just about any other type of cheese)

1 cup fresh baby spinach

1 medium carrot, shredded

1/4 cup chopped cucumber

1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper

 

Spread tortillas with mustard. Layer each with turkey, cheese, spinach, carrot, cucumber, and red pepper. Roll up tightly.

This recipe comes to you courtesy of our friends at Light and Tasty, as found in their Annual Recipes from 2008.

 

       I found this recipe in the 2004 Light & Tasty Annual Recipes Cookbook, which very kindly provides nutrition information. (The recipe can also be found at the Taste of Home website, which is where I got the picture.) If made with skim milk as directed, this sweet roll recipe contains only 1 g of fat, and the only processed sugar is in the glaze. Since I’m not particularly concerned about my fat consumption (and as Sarah has reminded us that fat is not a demon after all), I just used the milk I had on hand. Far more important than their relative healthiness is the fact that they are delicious, especially when warm.

1 package (1/4 ounce or 2 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water

2 cups warm fat-free milk

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup whole wheat flour

3 1/2 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

14 ounces apricot spreadable fruit, divided (this is just smaller than a cup and a half)

1/2 taspooon ground cinnamon

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon cold fat-free milk

 

In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in warm milk, salt, whole wheat flour, and 3 cups all-purpose flour; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining all-purpose flour to form a soft dough (be careful . . . the dough will take in more flour during kneading, so don’t initially eliminate all the dough’s stickiness). Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a bowl coated with nonstick cooking spray, turning once to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 75 minutes. Punch dough down. Turn onto a floured surface; knead 8 times. Cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Roll into an 18-inch square. Spread 1 cup fruit spread to within 1/2 inch of the edges; sprinkle with cinnamon. Roll up jelly-roll style and pinch the seam to seal it. Cut into 12 pieces and place them in a greased 9″x13″ baking pan. Cover and let rise until doubles, about 30 minutes. Bake at 350* for 30-35 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes. For glaze, in a bowl combine powdered sugar, cold milk, and remaining fruit spread. Drizzle over rolls. Enjoy!

 

I didn’t expect much from this simple recipe. I found it one night when I was craving brownies and needed a recipe using ingredients I keep on-hand. This recipe caught my eye with its stellar ratings, and because it doesn’t leave you with a pile of dirty dishes. And so, I gave this recipe for Best Brownies a try- and boy, they sure live up to that name! Since that fateful evening about a month ago I have baked numerous batches and eaten far more of these brownies than I care to admit.

The original recipe fills an 8×8 pan. I never make sweets in small batches though, so I’m sharing the doubled version that will give you a 9×13 full of deliciousness. And about the frosting- it is supposed to be really, really thick. Even though you may be tempted to alter the frosting recipe to make it easier to stir, I recommend sticking to the recipe. Do be sure to frost the brownies while they are still very hot, though. If the brownies are very hot the frosting will become melty and spread very easily. When I made another batch of these brownies yesterday I waited too long- maybe ten minutes after getting the brownies out of the oven- and the frosting just would not spread. Thankfully, my brilliant husband remembered we have a broiler. While this did work out, it’s much easier to just have the frosting ready to go as soon as the brownies are done baking.

 

Best Brownies
from allrecipes.com

For Brownies:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
For frosting:
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cup confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 9×13 inch pan.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Beat in cocoa, flour, salt, and baking powder. Spread batter into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overcook.
  4. To Make Frosting: Combine butter, cocoa, honey, vanilla, and confectioners’ sugar. Frost brownies while they are still warm.
Image from allrecipes.com
 
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