Apple Spice Mini Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

applecupcakes

You guys may remember how rough of a year 2013 was. Every time something would happen, I’d think…well, it really can’t get worse. Well, I feel like God really tested us last year, because oh man…it just kept getting worse. It was just a rotten year all around. :-\

2014 is proving to be so much better. I got some good news…like REALLY GOOD NEWS. You may have noticed lately that I’ve been a bit quiet on here and on social media….

…well….

I got a new job!

I don’t want to give specifics, but let’s just say I’m in the same field and I’m pretty darn happy here. While the job is still very new to me, I feel like I can honestly look forward to work every day. I have to admit, I had some new job jitters. What if I wasn’t smart enough for it? What if I didn’t make friends?

I had my doubts, because I held my previous job for almost 5 years. It’s what I knew, and this new job is a pretty big change for me. However, so far I’m loving it. LOVING it. Everyone I’ve met at my new job is very friendly, and it’s just a different, yet refreshing dynamic. It reminds me a lot of my first job out of college, which I loved (I had to resign from my first job, since I moved to a new city).

I’ve been in such a cheerful mood because of this change (amongst other things), and you guys probably know that “Happy” song by Pharrell? Well, yeah…that’s my theme song right now. In fact, I caught myself humming this in Target the other day…haha!

Also, another reason to be happy is that my birthday is coming up. I’m pretty sure I’ll be eating cake all weekend, so it’s fitting to share this recipe for cupcakes. :-) I made these for the Opal Apple dessert party, and they were SO good! I love mini cupcakes, because I can enjoy one and feel like I had dessert, or like some others who had these, enjoy 5 or 6 of these without too many judge-y stares. :-P

This made about 40 mini cupcakes for me, so it’s more than enough to go around for a party. :-)

Apple Spice Mini Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting
Source: cupcake recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction & frosting is an original 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup or 1 stick of unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 Opal Apples, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 batch spiced cream cheese frosting
  • Optional: 1 batch caramel sauce (for drizzle)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a mini cupcake pan by lining each cup with a mini cupcake liner and set the pan aside.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a large-sized bowl and set aside. Whisk the melted butter and sugars together in a medium-sized bowl, until well-combined. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time (beating for 30 seconds with each addition), until smooth. Add the whole milk and vanilla extract to the batter, whisking until everything is combined.
  3. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring the batter gently until just combined. Fold in the finely chopped apples.
  4. Fill the mini cupcake liners 3/4 of the way full with cupcake batter (using either a small scoop or a piping bag, to make it easier). Bake the cupcakes for 15-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean. Remove the mini cupcakes from the oven and allow them to completely cool before frosting.
  5. Once cooled, generously swirl on the frosting, and if you’d like, drizzle the cupcakes with a simple caramel sauce. If you’re not serving these immediately, refrigerate them until you’re ready to serve. Enjoy!

Disclosure: I’m a 2014 brand ambassador for Opal Apple. I was compensated in the form of free products, a party kit with all printed materials necessary for the party, and a gift card. All opinions are 100% my own.

Mini Apple Tartlets

applepietarts

Well, yesterday was Mardi Gras. Usually, I’m super jazzed about it, but I’ve had a lot going on in my personal life, and Mardi Gras sort of just snuck up on me. I’m glad I didn’t get my hopes up too much about parading though…we had SLEET on Mardi Gras Day. SLEET…ICE…they closed roads…in Louisiana…in March! Let that sink in for a little bit. This winter has been a weird one..

Now that Mardi Gras season is over, and I’m mourning over an empty king cake box, I have to face what I’m giving up during the lenten season: candy and soda. I was really considering all refined  & artificial sugar, but I really want it to be something I know I can handle. Soda is hard enough (diet coke addict here!), but candy during Easter season? Ugh…I’ll buy a box of Cadbury eggs for the week after Easter. :-P Hopefully, this will kick my sweet tooth to the side for a while…I really need to stop craving Reese’s cups darnit!

Speaking of the sweet tooth, I’m still thinking about these mini tartlets that I made for my Opal Apple dessert party. They were so simple to make, and they made quite a bit for a party! I think this would be a perfect dessert to throw together at the last minute, and if you have some caramel sauce or ice cream lying around, they would be perfection on these!

Mini Apple Tartlets
Source: Opal Apples

Ingredients:

  • 2 Opal apples, peeled, cored & chopped
  • 1/8 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp. candied ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 2 packages (containing 15 each) mini phyllo dough cups

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone sheet. Set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, add all ingredients, except for the phyllo dough cups. Heat the apple mixture to a simmer over medium heat and cover. Cook the mixture for about 5 minutes and remove the mixture from the heat.
  3. Once slightly cooled, fill each phyllo cup with a tsp. of the apple filling. Place the cups on the prepared baking sheet, and bake them for 8-10 minutes. They’re best served warm, but also taste great at room temperature!

Disclosure: I’m a 2014 brand ambassador for Opal Apple. I was compensated in the form of free products, a party kit with all printed materials necessary for the party, and a gift card. All opinions are 100% my own.

Opal Apple Dessert Party

Opal Apple Party 2014

I absolutely love making desserts. One of the biggest reasons I miss the holiday season is because of the holiday baking. Our mixers (yeah, I’m crazy…I said mixers) and oven were going like crazy, and after the holidays (and a bit of weight gain), I decided to just stop baking. It’s been a couple of months, but I’m confident enough in my will power to give baking another shot. Since I’m a brand ambassador for Opal Apple this year, I was asked to throw a party featuring these awesome apples. So, I decided to throw a dessert party and get to baking!

Opal Apple Party 2014

Opal Apples were discovered in 1999 in Europe, but were brought to the states in 2010 and are sold exclusively through FirstFruits Marketing of Washington. They’re a cross between a Golden Delicious and a Topaz apple.

They are very crunchy in texture, and are super sweet with a slight tang. They also don’t brown as quickly as other apples, so when you’re serving slices at a party, there’s no need to dunk the slices in citrus juice. They’ve quickly become my favorite apples, and they’re available in stores from December through April.

Opal Apple also has their “Youth Make A Difference Initiative“, which awards funding to organizations that help the community, where the youth in the community take on a leadership role within the organization. If you know any organization in your community that follows the criteria listed on Opal Apple’s site, they’re still eligible to apply for funding until February 28, 2014! More information can be found here.

Opal Apple Party 2014

For the dessert party, I wanted to keep everything mini, so everyone could try one of everything and not feel too guilty about it.

The dessert menu was simple, but so tasty:

  • Apple Spice Mini Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting & Salted Caramel Drizzle (recipe coming in another post)
  • Mini Apple Tartlets in Phyllo Dough Cups (recipe coming in another post)
  • Apple Bites, which were simply Opal Apple slices, white cheddar slices and grapes

Opal Apple Party 2014

Since two of the recipes from the party were from Opal Apple, I also placed recipe cards (made by the folks at Opal Apple) in a basket for guests to take home with them. :-)

Opal Apple Party 2014

All of the recipes were a hit, especially the cupcakes! I loved throwing this party together, and everyone had a great time getting together. :-) There were a few leftover desserts, but thankfully my coworkers were happy to take care of that. :-)

Thanks to Opal Apple for the opportunity to be a brand ambassador this year, and for the idea to throw this party! It was fun!

Disclosure: I’m a 2014 brand ambassador for Opal Apple. I was compensated in the form of free products, a party kit with all printed materials necessary for the party, and a gift card to throw this party. All opinions are 100% my own.

French Apple Cake

French Apple Cake

Oh man. This week has been crazy. It’s the first real week that I’ve been back into calorie counting, and I just started a new strength training program as well. It hurts to reach to brush my hair, sneeze, walk, and pretty much exist. It’s a great sore feeling, because I like knowing that there’s actual muscle somewhere in there, but oh man, it’s aggravating! :-P

While the exercise is going well, I’m finding it much more difficult to stay within my calorie counts. Since I ate with no guilt for a few months, I can’t explain how hard it is to knock down the cravings. I’ve had a few good victories this week, though. Example: I went to a training seminar at work, and the instructor brought two large king cakes for the class to enjoy. Oh my gosh…the king cake smelled so good, and my coworkers totally dug in. I kept thinking…what’s one piece? One small piece won’t do anything, right? But then I told myself that I’ve stayed within my calories this whole week, and ruining it over king cake isn’t worth it. I had a granola bar in my purse for a snack (thank goodness), and had that instead.

Small victories. That’s what weight loss is all about, right? One meal at a time…one day at a time.

I got hit with the baking bug this week, too. I figured this would be a big test for my willpower, so I decided to bake with some Opal Apples that I just received in the mail. Usually, I go to town on snacking on these because it’s just an easy way to get fruit in (not to mention, they’re especially killer with a little chocolate spread or peanut butter). :-P However, I decided to give these a try with baking, and they worked wonderfully! As far as the recipe goes, this very simple to throw together (the peeling of the apples took the longest), and the resulting cake reminded me a lot of a rum cake from around the holidays with a ton of apples thrown in….just awesome! I had a small sliver, and it was worth every darn calorie. :-) I have to admit, I was proud of myself for not cutting a large slice and just going to town….it was just delicious!

Disclosure: I was sent a shipment of Opal Apples at no cost to me as a brand ambassador for Opal Apples. 

French Apple Cake
Source: Dorie Greenspan

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 large apples
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp. dark rum
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Directions:

  1. Place a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat it to 350 degrees F. Grease or butter an 8-9″ springform pan, and put it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set this aside.
  3. Peel the apples, and core them. Cut the apples into 1-2 inch chunks.
  4. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the eggs well for a minute or so until they’re foamy. Add in the sugar, and whisk the mixture for another minute, being sure everything is mixed well. Whisk in the rum and vanilla extract. Then, whisk in half of the flour, and once that’s just mixed, add half of the melted butter. Repeat this one more time, stirring gently after each addition, ensuring that the batter is smooth. Add the apples to the batter, and fold them in gently with a spatula or spoon, making sure that all of the fruit is coated with the batter.
  5. Add the batter/apples to the greased springform pan, and gently move it around with a spatula to get the cake to an even height. Place the baking sheet/springform pan in the oven, and bake the cake for 50-60 minutes, until the cake is golden brown on the top and when the knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack for 5 minutes.
  6. Gently run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake, and open the springform pan to expose the cake. Pull the cake out of the springform, and place it on the cooling rack to finish cooling. Serve the cake slightly warm or at room temperature. The cake with keep for about 2 days, very loosely covered at room temperature.

Blood Orange Sangria & 6 Years of Blogging

bloodorangesangria

This is the time of the year where I eat a ridiculous amount of citrus fruits. Mother Nature was very smart to allow citrus to grow during the cold season, because I eat about 2-3 satsumas or oranges every day to avoid catching whatever tends to go around. At about 30-50 calories each, it’s also a wonderful snack option for me in my calorie counting.

I’ve always been curious about blood oranges, because they are such a gorgeous ruby red color on the inside. The lovely folks at Frieda’s Produce, who I met at PMA back in August, sent me a bag of these oranges to try since the holidays were approaching. Since it was the holiday season, I knew I had to make something boozy. A sangria sounded perfect since I could prepare it the night before, and just bring it over for my family’s party. Super simple!

I ended up adding some blood orange juice to this simple red sangria recipe, as well as a few sliced oranges in the pitcher. It really made for a nice presentation, and I have to admit that the orange slices leftover after the sangria was gone was pretty darn delicious.

bloodorangesangria2

This is just a great drink to bring over for a celebration. Like I mentioned before, it’s easy to throw together and it’s so cute to fill a glass with sangria and add in a few fruit slices. It just makes for a nice presentation, and it’s super fun.

Blood Orange Sangria
Source: adapted from Food & Wine

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle of fruity red wine (I used Chianti)
  • 4 oz. brandy
  • juice of 2 blood oranges
  • 3 oz. simple syrup
  • 3 blood oranges, sliced

Directions:

  1. In a pitcher, combine the red wine, brandy, blood orange juice & simple syrup. Stir until well-combined. Add in the orange slices, and place the sangria in the refrigerator for 4-8 hours, or overnight to chill it well.
  2. Serve the sangria chilled. Enjoy!

Since this drink puts me in a celebrating mood, I figured it would be perfect to share with y’all today. Today is my 6 year blogiversary! I can’t believe that it’s been 6 years since I blogged about turkey meatballs, diet coke chicken & biscotti (forgive the pictures). From the bottom of my heart, thank you for every comment, email and tweet. I love getting to know y’all, and I completely appreciate your support, especially lately with my weight loss journey and my upcoming half marathon!

As a thank you, I want to offer you guys a giveaway! One lucky reader will have a choice between a gift card to Target or Amazon.com (e-gift card sent via email)!

blogiversaryprize

To enter the giveaway, please use the Rafflecopter widget below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note: This giveaway is is open to readers in the continental US only. Entries will be accepted until January 23rd at 12:00am (central standard time). Winner will be emailed (make sure you leave an email address in the form), and will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. The winner will be sent an e-gift card for either Target or Amazon (winner’s choice).

Disclosure: The blood oranges were sent at no cost to me by Frieda’s Produce. The gift card giveaway is provided by The Nifty Foodie.

 

Cranberry Crumb Bars with Mulling Spices

cranberrycrumbbars

I’ve been waiting for months for fresh cranberries to be back in stores. As a few of you may remember, I used to contribute on Weddingbee (under the moniker, Mrs. Ballet Flat). Every year around this time, some of the bloggers exchange ornaments, making one of the giftee’s moniker. So, I have quite a few ballet flat ornaments on my tree that I truly cherish. :-) Last year, along with the ornament, I also got a few of these bars in the mail (an awesome surprise!). I was addicted….absolutely addicted.

After the holiday craziness, I went to the grocery stores to buy fresh cranberries to make these bars, since my exchange friend mentioned they were from Smitten Kitchen’s cookbook (which I had recently purchased). Well, all of the stores near me were sold out. Gone. No more cranberries. I promised myself that once they were back in the produce section, I was going to immediately make these bars. They’re just as good as I remembered…a subtle spiced crumb layer and cranberry filling with a hint of orange in it. It’s marvelous (as if I expected anything different from Deb of The Smitten Kitchen).

I brought these to my coworkers, thinking that cranberries are an iffy ingredient for some people…they probably wouldn’t go that fast. Um…these bars left faster than when I bring cupcakes to work! They were an absolute winner! If you’re looking for a festive holiday dessert that is a little different than the norm, give these a try. The recipe comes together fairly quickly, and any cranberry lover will probably go crazy over these. :-)

Cranberry Crumb Bars with Mulling Spices
Source: Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Ingredients:

For the crumb base:

  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled (saving the wrappers to grease the pan)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1 large egg

For the filling:

  • 1/2 tsp. freshly grated orange zest
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. orange juice
  • 3 cups (12-ounce bag) fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a 9×13 inch baking pan by lining it with parchment paper and rubbing the butter remnants left on the inside of the butter wrappers on top of the parchment paper.
  2. In a large, wide bowl, add the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and spices. Whisk the mixture well. Using a pastry blender or fork, work the chilled butter and egg into the dry flour mixture until the texture resembles a coarse meal. Pat half of the crumb mixture into the bottom of your prepared baking pan (note: the layer will be thin).
  3. In a food processor or blender, add the filling ingredients and pulse the mixture until the cranberries are coarsely chopped (but not pureed). Using a spatula or spoon, evenly spread the filling over the pressed crumb base. After the filling is evenly added, sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture evenly over the berry mixture.
  4. Bake the bars for 30-35 minutes, or until just lightly brown on top. Allow the bars to cool completely before serving, cutting the bars into 36 small squares.

 

Cranberry Salsa

Cranberry Salsa

When I went to Fresh Summit, I was introduced to fruits taking on a more savory note in recipes. I really didn’t think I’d like it, but oh boy, it got the creative juices flowing. One thing I sampled was at the Ocean Spray booth…while I didn’t get to speak anyone there (the summit was super busy with 20k people there), I was immediately intrigued by their cranberry salsa recipe. They were handing out samples with tortilla chips, but when I tasted this, my first thought was TURKEY. How fabulous would this be on turkey instead of the normal cranberry sauce?!

So, when we smoked the turkey this past weekend, I also whipped up a batch of this cranberry salsa. It was fantastic on the turkey! In fact, my husband (who isn’t much of a cranberry fan), loved this salsa. :-) It’s definitely going to be a part of our holiday menu, and I think I’m going to bring a batch to my family’s Thanksgiving when we go. It was just SO good, and very simple to make.

Cranberry Salsa
Source: Ocean Spray

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 12 oz. fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 2 tbsp. chopped pickled jalapeno peppers
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 green onion, white and green parts, sliced
  • 1 tsp. lime juice

Directions:

  1. In a medium-sized pot, add the water and sugar. Stir the mixture, and heat it on medium heat until it comes to a boil. Add the cranberries to the mixture, and return the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat and gently boil the cranberry mixture for 10 minutes, being mindful not to stir during those 10 minutes.
  2. Pour the mixture into a medium heat-proof mixing bowl, and fold in the remaining ingredients. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature, and cover with plastic wrap. It’s best served at room temperature, but you can refrigerate it overnight and serve the next day (it’s actually even better the next day, in my opinion).

Cranberry Apple Avocado Salad

cranberryappleavocadosalad

My goodness! Life has been fairly busy lately. Things were a little more relaxing once the house got repaired from the lightning mess, however, the past couple of weeks, the closer we get to the holidays (um, it’s exactly two months until Christmas), the busier things get! I sound like I’m complaining, but it has me so excited. :-)

I know that it’s too soon to talk about holiday stuff for the majority of people, but every year in October, I get the holiday fever. I put the Josh Groban’s “Noel” CD in my car, I start crafting like crazy for holiday gifts & I’ll linger around any aisle in a store with snowflakes and trees. I’m tempted to burn my holiday tree candle, but then I’ll want to put the tree up. I do have my limits…. :-P

When I attended Fresh Summit this past Sunday, I received a bag of this new (to me) variety of lettuce from Coastline Produce called Little Gems. They looked like baby romaine, but they are a hybrid of crispy romaine and sweet butter lettuce. I couldn’t wait to try it, so I went to the store with an idea of combining apple and cranberry in a salad with this lettuce, along with a vinaigrette recipe I’ve had my eyes on since last year. Then, when I got home, I found that I received the amazing prize (from the California Avocado Commission) that I won from Dine & Dish’s Avocado contest (STILL can’t believe I won it!!), and included in that prize was a bag of avocados. I couldn’t help but add this to the salad as well, because avocados are pretty darn awesome in any salad. :-) It was so so good! The crispness of the apple and lettuce, the creaminess of the avocado and the tartness from the cranberry just made this salad delightful! The salad dressing is a bright pink color, which I think makes it so pretty and colorful. In fact, looking at it while I’m in my holiday fever phase makes me think that this recipe would be PERFECT for the holidays. It’s red and green, after all. :-)

Cranberry Apple Avocado Salad
Source: dressing adapted from AllRecipes

Ingredients:

For the salad:

  • 1 head Little Gem lettuce (or lettuce of your choice), washed well and dried
  • 1 large apple (I used gala), cored and sliced thin
  • 1 avocado, pitted and sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup fresh cranberries
  • 3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. water

Directions:

  1. In a blender or food processor, combine all of the ingredients, blending until the dressing is very smooth.
  2. In a large bowl, add the lettuce, apple slices, avocado slices & dried cranberries. You can either serve it with the dressing on the side or tossing the salad with the dressing, a little at a time, until the salad is dressed to your preferences. Serve immediately.

Disclaimer: I received the lettuce at no cost to me from Coastline Produce, and the avocado was part of a prize pack from the California Avocado Commission.

 

Pumpkin Apple Cranberry Baked Oatmeal

Pumpkin, Apple, Cranberry Baked Oatmeal

Life is such a roller coaster. A couple of months ago, lightning hit our house and turned so much of our lives upside down. Then, we had some really terrible news in our family that just made me question how much worse things can get. (Don’t do that, by the way.) It was tough not to cry at random times, which was so embarrassing when it happened at work (especially since I work with guys, which was probably super uncomfortable for them…ahh, tech field). I tried to use the allergy excuse, but they knew what was going on. Things were just broken….our house, our hearts…I really had no idea when good things would happen again, but that was the only thing that kept me going. Good things had to come for us. Soon.

Now, we’re painting new sheet rock in our house. The house that we could have completely lost, but we didn’t. As tedious as painting is, I appreciate that we have walls to paint. We pulled out Halloween decorations, which were right next to where the fire started. I can’t look at the attic the same way again, but taking out these goofy decorations make me realize that we’re very lucky right now. We’re doing normal things again, like planting fall flowers, cutting grass that is still growing like a weed and loading dishes in the dishwasher. While those tasks aren’t really super fun, I take a step back and think that I didn’t have to replace those plates that I’m rinsing out, I didn’t have to walk through a house full of water/smoke/fire damage and just think about everything we lost. I’ve had those nightmares lately….multiple times, and waking up in my bed makes me smile and count my blessings.

We’re so lucky. I’m so lucky that I can blog about this baked oatmeal. I’m sitting in our living room, blogging, staring at my sofa full of clean clothes that I’ve yet to fold, and watching my dog attempt to steal a sock from the pile to rip to shreds. I’m so lucky.

Now, this baked oatmeal is simply fall. When it was baking in our kitchen, it just smelled amazing. Pumpkin, apples, cranberry, cinnamon….it’s a perfect fall breakfast. This is one of those dishes that make you want to curl up in a blanket, sip on a cup of coffee and just embrace the season.

Pumpkin Apple Cranberry Baked Oatmeal
Source: adapted from My Kitchen Addiction

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted & cooled
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 medium apple, cored and cubed

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper or spray the inside with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, add the oatmeal, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and dried cranberries, and stir everything until combined. In another bowl, add the milk, pumpkin, melted butter, egg and vanilla, and whisk the mixture well.
  3. Add the wet mixture, as well as the chopped apples, to the dry mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. Pour the mixture into the baking pan, and spread the mixture evenly in the pan. Bake the oatmeal for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is golden and the liquid is absorbed.

Berry-Nana-Cado Smoothie

berrynanacado

I started running again this week, and I was SO shocked that I was able to do 10 minutes of running at a time. It has been way too long since I last hit the pavement, and it felt wonderful to get back to it. With working out, though, comes a mean appetite. I come home starving, even if I have something before my run. My favorite snack post-workout is a smoothie. Just throw the ingredients in, and let the blender do all the work. When you feel like collapsing on the sofa and staying there for hours after a hard workout, this is my kind of recipe.

I usually just go with a banana/protein powder combination, because it seriously tastes like a milkshake. I prefer to buy bananas super cheap at our local grocery store, when they’re overripe. 3 bunches of bananas for 99 cents? SCORE! I’ve been known to purchase 5-6 packs of bananas, and I just take a few minutes to quarter the bananas and place them in one layer in a freezer bag. Easy peasy. For this smoothie, I went protein powder-less, and tried something different: avocado.

Now, before you cringe, avocado is a fairly mild food. It’s not like I threw guacamole in the blender…avocado alone lends a creamy consistency to the smoothie. This recipe couldn’t be easier either…throw all of your ingredients in and blend away! You’d be surprised…seriously. It’s great, and it’s surprisingly filling, since there’s no protein powder in this recipe. :-)

Note: This post is my entry for the “Wake Up Breakfast with California Avocados” link-up/contest, being hosted by Dine and Dish & Cookin’ Canuck.

Berry-Nana-Cado Smoothie
Source: heavily adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 of a medium California avocado (pitted and flesh removed)
  • 1 1/2 cups low calorie orange juice (I used Trop50)
  • 1/2 of a frozen banana
  • 1/4 cup frozen blueberries (no sugar added)
  • 1/4 cup frozen strawberries (no sugar added)
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 6-8 ice cubes

Directions:

  1. Throw all ingredients in the blender, and blend until all ingredients are blended well. Enjoy!