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easy date bars #smartcookie ad

Easy Date Bars

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Easy Date Bars are a date-filled oatmeal bars inspired by a childhood favorite.  They taste similar to my grandma’s recipe, only made a little healthier and are super quick and easy to make!  

easy date bars | www.alidaskitchen.com |#smartcookie ad

One of my favorite cookies from childhood is a recipe my grandma used to make, called Trilbies.  They are a soft, oatmeal cookie with a date filling.  They were SO good.  I do have her recipe, but I remember she always complained about how much trouble they were to make.  They always end up last on my holiday baking list and never get made.  This year, I decided to take my favorite aspects of the recipe –  dates and oats – and turn them into simple Easy Date Bars!   They taste pretty darn close to the beloved cookie – close enough anyway, because these Easy Date Bars are super easy to make!…

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Pretzel Oreo Cookie Balls | alidaskitchen.com

Pretzel Oreo Cookie Balls

OREO disclosure

Pretzel Oreo Cookie Balls | alidaskitchen.com

Pretzel Oreo Cookie Balls are a delicious yet simple chocolate truffle made with only 4 ingredients.  These are one of the easiest desserts you will ever make and also one of the tastiest!

This recipe starts with the classic Oreo Cookie Ball with a pretzel twist.  The pretzels add a subtle salty component to the truffle, giving it the salty-sweet combination that is always so popular.  This recipe makes plenty, which is good because they will disappear quickly.  Pretzel Oreo Cookie Balls will make a wonderful addition to any Holiday treat platter, or for any occasion….

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M&M Chocolate Cookie Cups | alidaskitchen.com

M&M Chocolate Cookie Cups

M&M Chocolate Cookie Cups are a chewy, chocolate cookie studded with chocolate chips that is baked into a cookie cup and then topped with your favorite M&M candies.  These are always very popular!

M&M Chocolate Cookie Cups | alidaskitchen.com

‘Tis the season to be busy in the kitchen!  We have been busy baking cookies, baking with chocolate, baking something new almost every day it seems.  While it is easy to get caught up in making the latest cookie stuffed in a cookie or some otherwise intricate dessert, I always like to have some easy, tasty recipes that are sure to be a hit at any party.

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Over 30 Perfect Party Dips and Desserts | alidaskitchen.com

30+ Perfect Party Dips and Desserts #HolidayHelper

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Over 30 recipes for Perfect Party Dips and Desserts made using cream cheese, yogurt or sour cream that are easy to make and great for a crowd.  For all of these recipes and more, be sure to visit my Perfect Party Dips and Dessert board on Pinterest!

Over 30 Perfect Party Dips and Desserts | alidaskitchen.com

Lately I have been receiving many requests for party menu ideas, as people begin planning their Holiday festivities.  I thought it would be fun to share some recipes from my favorite bloggers.  I gathered the most amazing appetizer and dessert recipes ~ think savory dips and spreads, as well as dessert dips and simple cheesecakes.   They are all easy to make, many require no cooking or baking, which is all very welcome when it comes to planning a party!

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Pumpkin Muffin Cookies

Pumpkin Muffin Cookies #kleenexallergy

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Kleenex but all my opinions are my own. #KleenexAllergy #pmedia http://cmp.ly/3/8vNxcO

Pumpkin Muffin Cookies

 Pumpkin Muffin Cookies have been a staple for us this Fall.  They are soft, chewy and healthy pumpkin cookies easily customized with chocolate chips, dried cranberries or your favorite mix-in. 

Pumpkin Muffin Cookies are are soft, chewy pumpkin cookies studded with chocolate chips or whatever mix-in you might enjoy, such as raisins, dried cranberries, nuts, the options are limitless.  These cookies are actually kind of a cross between a cookie and a muffin, which makes them perfect for an on-the-go breakfast or snack, or just any time you need a little pick-me-up.   Like I shared with you over doughnuts last week, lots of pumpkin recipes going on here!

The portability of these healthy pumpkin cookies made them an essential snack for us during our Fall activities.  If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that our favorite activity this Fall was Sever’s Corn Maze!      …

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Pumpkin Pie Alpha-Bits Treats | alidaskitchen.com

Pumpkin Pie Alpha-Bits Treats #alphabits

Alpha-Bits Pumpkin Pie Alpha-Bits Treats

Pumpkin Pie Alpha-Bits Treats put a delicious pumpkin twist on classic marshmallow cereal treats made fun for kids using Alpha-Bits cereal.

Now that Halloween is over, Thanksgiving planning is in full force.   My favorite part of Thanksgiving planning is dessert!   While I absolutely love this crustless pumpkin pie recipe, it can be nice to mix things up a bit and make something new.  Marshmallow cereal treats are always a favorite, especially with kids.  I decided to combine my favorite Thanksgiving dessert (pumpkin pie) with a treat that kids love (marshmallow cereal treats) to create a fun Thanksgiving treat ~ these Pumpkin Pie Alpha-Bits Treats!…

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Pumpkin Baked Doughnuts

Pumpkin Baked Doughnuts

Pumpkin Baked Doughnuts #CMcantwaitCGC

Pumpkin Baked Doughnuts are healthier doughnuts, baked (not fried) made with whole wheat flour and topped with Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Icing.

Clearly we all know what I love best about Fall…pumpkin recipes!   We have gone pumpkin crazy over here this year, with pumpkin cake, muffins, pasta, cake again, and now doughnuts.   After finally acquiring a couple doughnut pans, naturally my first go-to recipe is for Pumpkin Baked Doughnuts….

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Candy Corn White Chocolate Pretzels

Candy Corn White Chocolate Pretzels #SundaySupper

Candy Corn White Chocolate Pretzels

Candy Corn White Chocolate Pretzels are a fun, easy, salty-sweet treat that is perfect for Halloween!

With Halloween only a few days away, I thought it would be fun to put a Halloween twist on one of my favorite holiday treats ~ Pretzel Kiss Candies.   These treats are perfect for holidays or special occasions.  They have that sweet-salty thing going on, which is wildly popular, and they can be decorated to coordinate with any occasion.

By using a candy corn instead of an M&M candy for the topping, Candy Corn White Chocolate Pretzels are a Halloween treat that is  adorable, festive and fun for all ages.  They are very quick to make, and so easy that the kids can easily get involved as well.  The result is an easy Halloween treat that is always a crowd favorite!

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Chocolate Pumpkin Bundt Cake is a rich, moist chocolate cake made with pumpkin and a hint of spice. Pumpkin replaces much of the fat in the cake that is made on the lighter side!

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

Chocolate Pumpkin Bundt Cake

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake is a rich, moist chocolate cake made with pumpkin and a hint of spice.  Pumpkin replaces much of the fat in the cake that is made on the lighter side!

Lately I have been enjoying making chocolate desserts a bit healthier using various fruits and vegetables.  The results have been fantastic, with each recipe far exceeding my expectations.   This Chocolate Pumpkin Cake is no exception!  This cake kind of reminds me of a chocolate covered pumpkin truffle, only in cake form…and a little healthier….

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S'mores Brownies | alidaskitchen.com

S’mores Brownies #SundaySupper

S'mores Brownies | alidaskitchen.com

What do you get when you cross a brownie with a s’more?  This easy recipe for S’mores Brownies!   

As Labor Day marks the unofficial end of Summer, I am looking forward to cooler temperatures, Halloween (!) and, of course, lots of pumpkin recipes.  While Fall baking is my absolute favorite, sometimes nothing hits the spot quite like a s’more.   I have made several s’more-inspired recipes, including muffins, blondies, Golden Graham’s bars, even a cool and creamy pie!  But these S’mores Brownies might be my favorite s’more-inspired treat.  The chocolate brownie base is the perfect vehicle for all of the yummy s’more toppings, plus they take only minutes to prepare….

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Chocolate Zucchini Bread | alidaskitchen.com

Chocolate Zucchini Bread | Bundt Cake

Chocolate Zucchini Bread is a moist, chocolaty bread made with zucchini and a delicious way to use up all of that zucchini taking over your garden! 

Chocolate Zucchini Bread | alidaskitchen.com

I love the entire season of summer produce, from the abundance of berries and herbs, to everything in between. However what I really look forward to is the end of summer produce.  Mainly…zucchini!   All summer long I compile zucchini recipes in anticipation of the great bounty of summer squash….

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Healthy Banana Mango Smoothie | alidaskitchen.com

Healthy Banana Mango Smoothie

 

Healthy Banana Mango Smoothie

This Healthy Banana Mango Smoothie is a thick, frosty, fruity smoothie with a protein boost from Greek yogurt.  I often add ground flaxseed for additional health benefits.   

Ever since I made my Diet Mixed Berry Smoothie recipe, I have been on a real smoothie kick.  While I have enjoyed coming up with several different recipes, I think this Healthy Banana Mango Smoothie recipe is my favorite.  When made with a perfectly frozen banana and chilled mango, this smoothie whips up to the consistency of soft serve ice cream….

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Cocoa Crispy Sunbutter Bars {Alida's Kitchen}

Cocoa Crispy Sunbutter Bars #SundaySupper

Cocoa Crispy Sunbutter Bars {Alida's Kitchen} Cocoa Crispy Sunbutter Bars are easy, no-bake bars made nut-free with sunflower seed butter, and topped with a layer of semi-sweet chocolate. They are also gluten-free.  

With back-to-school just around the corner, we are starting to think about ideas for what to pack for school lunch.  Something nutritious, delicious and easy isn’t too much to ask, right?  A little variety might be nice too.  Fortunately, today I am joining the Sunday Supper Movement, and the theme is ‘lunch box.’  Several wonderful bloggers have come up with fantastic recipes and ideas to help solve the lunchbox dilemma.  These are recipes are helpful when packing your own lunch to bring to work!  You can find links to all of the wonderful recipes at the bottom of this post.  But first, let’s talk about these Cocoa Crispy Sunbutter Bars!    

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Cocoa Pebbles Dirt Pudding {alidaskitchen.com}

Cocoa Pebbles Dirt Pudding

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This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Post Pebbles but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #PebblesBTS  http://cmp.ly/3/8vNxcO 

walgreens-pebbles-collage

The other day Adam and I made a trip to Walgreens for some Post Pebbles Cereal, but if you follow Alida’s Kitchen on Instagram, you already know this.  I had several tasty recipe ideas swirling about, but also wanted to show Adam that you can take everyday items, such as cereal, and be creative.  While I do have an easy recipe to share with you, first I have to tell you about the fun project we made with our Pebbles Cereal!…

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Honey Roasted Chickpeas with Sea Salt {Garbanzo Beans}

Honey Roasted Chickpeas with Sea Salt are a healthy, sweet and salty snack that is easy to make.  They are high in fiber, protein-packed, gluten free, dairy free…and Adam can’t get enough of them (in other words, they’re toddler friendly too!)

Honey Roasted Chickpeas are made with only a few simple ingredients, and you most likely have everything you need already in your pantry.  In fact, all you really need is one ingredient, and that’s the chickpeas.  The additional ingredients are simply for flavoring, but roasted chickpeas are super crunchy and delicious straight from the oven.  In this case I made them honey roasted with sea salt, however I have other variations in the works that I am excited to share with you soon!

Honey Roasted Chickpeas with Sea Salt | alidaskitchen.com

 

Honey Roasted Chickpeas with Sea Salt
 
Yields: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 15 ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ tablespoon canola oil (or other neutral tasting oil)
  • sea salt, add to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Empty chickpeas into a colander. Rinse until no longer foamy and drain. Put chickpeas onto paper towels to pat dry. (Optional: remove skins from chickpeas. Not necessary, but I recommend it).
  3. Place chickpeas in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes, or until chickpeas are crunchy. (If they're soft, put them back in for 5 minutes until crunchy).
  4. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk honey and oil. Add hot chickpeas and toss to coat. Pour chickpeas back on lined baking sheet and return to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until caramelized. Sprinkle with sea salt, as desired, and let cool. Store in an airtight container.
Notes
Slightly adapted from fitsugar.com

Honey Roasted Chickpeas with Sea Salt | alidaskitchen.com

homemade fig newtons

Oatmeal Fig Bars | Homemade Fig Newtons

oatmeal fig bars | homemade fig newtons
Oatmeal Fig Bars are a chewy, fig-filled bar made on the lighter side.  They taste pretty close to a Fig Newton, but homemade is always better, right?  When I was researching for a healthy fig bar recipe made with oatmeal, I was surprised to find there weren’t many (or rather any that were suitable).  So I decided to take the dough of a oatmeal date bar recipe and replace the date filling with a fig filling.  Because I wanted these to be healthier, I reduced the amount of sugar in the dough and eliminated added sugar from the filling.  In lieu of sugar, I added lemon juice and zest to the filling to brighten the flavor and also act as a thickener.  The result was just what I had in mind for a healthy fig bar, and they were also really simple to make.

When I was making these Oatmeal Fig Bars, I couldn’t help but think about my grandma and grandpa and chuckle.  I’ve talked many times about my grandma and what a wonderful baker she was.  While I’m sure my grandpa loved all of her (delicious!) baked goodies, he always had a stash of Fig Newtons in their pantry.  I really can’t blame him.  Not much beats a Fig Newton (except for these bars of course!.. but I digress).  I don’t think my grandma ever attempted to make a homemade variety of his beloved fig bars, but I’m sure they would have been similar to these…and my grandpa would have stashed these instead!

oatmeal fig bars | homemade fig newtons

Oatmeal Fig Bars | Homemade Fig Newtons
 
Yields: 16 bars
Ingredients
  • 1 cup chopped dried figs, stems removed (8 ounces)
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1½ cups rolled oats (I used quick oats)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup butter, melted (I used light butter)
  • 1 egg white
  • Cooking spray
Instructions
  1. In a small sauce pan, put figs, water, lemon juice and zest, and bring to a boil. Simmer until mixture starts to thicken (about 3 minutes). Let cool for about 5 minutes.
  2. Put filling in food processor and process until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 8-inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together oats, flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.
  5. Add butter and egg white to oat mixture and stir until combined.
  6. Press half of the oat mixture into the prepared baking pan. [Note: I used waxed paper to press and spread the mixture into the pan]. Next, carefully spread with fig mixture. Last, drop pieces of remaining oat mixture over the fig mixture so it appears crumbly and then gently pat it down [Note: I used waxed paper for this step].
  7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on wire rack.

This marks the third installment of the Eating the Alphabet Challenge, hosted by Brenda of Meal Planning Magic.  This month we’re featuring healthy recipes using fruits, vegetables, grains or legumes that start with letters E or F.  This was a no-brainer for me.  I’ve been wanting to come up with a healthy Fig Bar recipe, so this was just the incentive I needed!

healthy blueberry strawberry blackberry yogurt smoothie

Diet Mixed Berry Smoothie

healthy diet mixed blueberry strawberry blackberry yogurt smoothie

This Diet Mixed Berry Smoothie is quick and easy to make and perfect for breakfast on a busy morning, a post-workout recovery drink, or an afternoon pick me up.  Made with just a few healthy ingredients, it’s a vitamin-packed smoothie that can be enjoyed anywhere, anytime (and portable too for when you’re on-the-go!).

 

Recently, I was given the opportunity to try Ocean Spray’s Diet Juice Drinks and thought it would a tasty addition to this smoothie recipe.  At only 5 calories per serving, swapping out full-calorie juices in favor of Ocean’ Spray’s Diet Juice Drinks can help save calories (and carbs, if that’s a concern), while still tasting delicious.   For this recipe, I used Ocean Spray’s Diet Cranberry juice and it went nicely with the berries used in the rest of this smoothie.  For next time, I have my eyes on the Diet Blueberry Pomegranate!

To learn more about Ocean Spray’s Diet Juice Drinks, visit http://www.oceanspray.com/Products/Juices/Diet-Light/Diet-Cranberry-Juice-Drink.aspx.

 

 

Diet Mixed Berry Smoothie
 
Yields: 1 servings
Ingredients
  • ½ cup Diet Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Drink, any flavor
  • ½ cup frozen mixed berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries)
  • 1 ripe banana, frozen and cut into slices
  • 3 ounces fat free plain or berry-flavored Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed (optional)
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender (or Magic Bullet). Blend on high speed until ingredients are thoroughly combined. Pour into a chilled glass. Enjoy!
Notes
Tip: slice banana before freezing...it's much easier!

 Adapted from Ocean Spray

 

I have partnered with Ocean Spray through DailyBuzz to help promote their new Ocean Spray Diet product. I have been compensated for my time commitment to work with this product, however my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.

Grandma’s Caramel Bars

 My grandma was always impressive in the kitchen, especially with her holiday treats.  This recipe she created for Caramel Bars is no exception!  Most caramel bars I’ve had have been underwhelming and have had a relatively stiff caramel layer in the center.  So is not the case with these Caramel Bars.  The caramel layer is gooey, melty and wonderful.   The oat crust and crumbly topping are simple and delicious, and the chocolate chips add some chocolate and texture.  Her recipe also includes 1 cup walnuts, which I do not use.  No holiday treat platter is complete without caramel bars!

Speaking of holiday treats, we are in Week 10 of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats!  This recipe makes a generous amount, so is definitely a good treat to have on hand for your holiday celebrations.

Grandma’s Caramel Bars
 
Yields: 3 to 4 dozen bars, depending on size
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups rolled oats (old-fashioned or quick oats work fine)
  • 1 cup butter, softened (I use light butter)
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 14-ounce package caramels
  • ⅓ cup evaporated skim milk
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup walnuts (optional)
  • Cooking spray
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13x9 inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, put the flour, oats, butter, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Using an electric mixer on low (I use a hand mixer), slowly beat in the butter until combined, moist, and pea-sized crumbs form. Press ½ of mixture into prepared baking dish and bake for 12 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, slowly melt caramels and evaporated milk over a double boiler (or a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water), stirring frequently.
  4. Once crust is done, pour caramel mixture over crust. Sprinkle chocolate chips (and walnuts, if using) over caramel. Crumble remaining oat mixture over caramel and chocolate chips. Bake for 12 minutes and move to a wire rack to cool completely.

We are already to week #10 of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats hosted by Meal Planning Magic.  Be sure to check out all the other bloggers who are participating this week in the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats blog hop. And if you’re a blogger and want to join in on the fun, check out this post for the form to fill out to start baking along with us.

 

Cranberry Cornbread

Cranberry Cornbread puts a fun, fall/wintery twist on traditional cornbread.  We have been making chili almost weekly these days, and of course what goes better with chili than cornbread.  I used a cornbread muffin recipe from Cooking Light for the base, making a few adjustments to accommodate the cranberries.  Fresh cranberries add just the right amount of tartness which is balanced nicely with brown sugar.  Buttermilk lends a moist crumb, and the result is a delicious tart-sweet cornbread.  Cranberry Cornbread would make a nice side dish for Thanksgiving, or any holiday, and of course pairs very well with a spicy chili!

Speaking of chili, I am working on a fabulous new chili recipe to share with you soon.  In the meantime, this Three Bean Vegetarian Chili can be made in less than 30 minutes and is our current chili of choice.

Cranberry Cornbread
 
Yields: 16 servings
Ingredients
  • 1¼ cups buttermilk
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries, halved
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 8" square baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl (or in a liquid measuring cup) combine buttermilk, oil and egg.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Add milk mixture to flour mixture, folding until just combined. Gently fold in cranberries.
  5. Pour mixture in prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the top with sugar. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

Adapted from Cooking Light, September, 2012

cranberry cornbread

Pumpkin Banana Muffins

Pumpkin Banana Muffins put a Fall twist on banana bread with the perfect balance of pumpkin and banana. 
Pumpkin Banana Muffins | alidasktichen.com
Pumpkin Banana Muffins are a huge hit in our household. They are made with whole wheat flour, bumping the nutrition value.  The pumpkin and banana make for a moist muffin, so not a lot of oil is needed.  I typically make these as a combination of mini muffins (24) and standard muffins (3) and freeze half of the mini muffins.

So last week was Adam’s first day of preschool. I decided to make Pumpkin Banana Muffins as a special surprise after school. Pumpkin Banana Muffins are his favorite muffin of all time, so I knew they would be a hit.  He loved school and was welcomed home with his favorite treat.  It is safe to say, he had the best day!

Pumpkin Banana Muffins | alidasktichen.com

Pumpkin Banana Muffins
 
Yields: 30 mini-muffins (or 15-18 standard muffins)
Ingredients
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour (or 1 cup all-purpose flour/1 cup whole wheat flour)
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin tins with baking spray and fill empty cups with water. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the bananas, pumpkin, oil, eggs and vanilla, until well-blended.
  4. Add banana mixture to flour mixture, gently folding until combined.
  5. Divide mixture evenly among prepared muffin cups.
  6. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes for mini muffins / 13 to 15 minutes for standard muffins, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

ETA 10/19/12:  I have made these several times since posting and have experimented with different flours, since white whole wheat flour isn’t an ingredient I always have on hand.  All whole wheat pastry flour works really well, and the recipe has been updated below accordingly.

Pumpkin Banana Muffins {alidaskitchen.com}

Source: Pumpkin Banana Bread

healthy carrot zucchini bread

Carrot Zucchini Bread

Carrot Zucchini Bread | alidaskitchen.com #recipes
Carrot Zucchini Bread is a moist, delicious twist on zucchini bread.  If you have extra zucchini, this is definitely a must-make!

The end of summer is one of my favorite times of year because it means zucchini is everywhere.  Zucchini is such a versatile vegetable that gets turned into delicious dishes, both savory and sweet, with so many possibilities!  I found myself with some zucchini and some leftover carrots from making Carrot Cake Pancakes.  My first instinct was to make pancakes (which might come later), but Carrot Zucchini Bread has been on my list for quite a while.  A quick bread with double veggies has got to be a good thing.  Carrot Zucchini Bread is a super tasty, fun twist on zucchini bread!

Carrot Zucchini Bread
 
Yields: 1 loaf (12 servings)
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1¾ cup grated zucchini (squeeze out some excess moisture)
  • ½ cup grated carrot
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 8x4 loaf pan (or spray with baking spray) and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk eggs and oil until well blended. Add sugar and vanilla, and whisk until combined. Add zucchini and carrot, stirring until combined.
  4. Add flour mixture to zucchini mixture, gently folding until just combined.
  5. Pour mixture into prepared loaf pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 5 to 10 minutes and then move to wire rack to cool completely.

Adapted from Food.com

Carrot Zucchini Bread | alidaskitchen.com #recipes

healthy buttermilk oatmeal peach muffins

Oat Peach Muffins

One of the first cookbooks I purchased was the Better Crocker’s New Choices Cookbook.  I have found several wonderful recipes in that book, including these Oat Peach Muffins.  These muffins are one of my very favorites from the book, and it’s nice knowing they’re made on the healthier side.

What really makes these muffins amazing is the molasses.  Molasses adds such a delicious character to the muffins and really goes well with the peaches and cinnamon.  The oats give a hearty texture, while the buttermilk yields a moist crumb.  These muffins are a great way to put to use all of those fresh peaches this time of year.   I do often use frozen peaches though, so we can enjoy these muffins all year long.

Oat Peach Muffins
 
Yields: 12 muffins
Ingredients
  • 1¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup chopped peaches (thawed if frozen)
  • Cooking spray
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray (or line with paper liners).
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, combine oats and buttermilk. Add brown sugar, oil, molasses, vanilla and egg, whisking until blended.
  4. Fold in flour mixture with buttermilk mixture until moistened (batter will be lumpy). Fold in peaches.
  5. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes, and then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

Adapted from Betty Crocker’s New Choices Cookbook

peanut butter peanut butter chip chocolate chewy cookies

Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Chewies

I don’t even know where to begin about these cookies. They have the peanut butter and chocolate combination, which we all know and love. But these Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Chewies are truly not any ordinary chocolate and peanut butter cookie. They are amazingly chewy, without being cakey. They have a delicious balance of peanut butter and chocolate. These cookies are made without any butter and have yogurt and oats to add some wholesome goodness (dare I suggest this makes them fit for breakfast?)

A couple tips:  When flattening the cookies before baking, keep in mind they will spread.  Just flatten them a little bit and you will be fine.  Keep an eye on the bake time, because over baking the cookies will result in a less chewy cookie.  I baked mine for 8 minutes and that was perfect with my oven…but definitely keep an eye on them.

Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Chewies
 
Yields: 36 cookies
Ingredients
  • 1 cup chunky natural peanut butter
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup rolled oats (I used quick oats)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup peanut butter chips
  • ¼ cup turbinado sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, oats, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat peanut butter, oil, brown sugar and granulated sugar on medium speed until blended. Beat in eggs, yogurt and vanilla until combined.
  4. Gradually add flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture, stirring until blended. Stir in chocolate and peanut butter chips.
  5. On prepared cookie sheets, place rounded tablespoonfuls of dough 2 inches apart.
  6. Dip the bottom of a class in water, and then dip the class in turbinado sugar. Using the sugared glass, flatten the dough slightly, leaving a thin layer of sugar on top. Re-wet glass, as needed.
  7. Bake cookies for 8 to 10 minutes (be sure not to over bake!). Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Barely adapted from Eating Well

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

I was flipping through one of my holiday cookie publications recently, when I stumbled upon a recipe for Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies.  Made with no flour and only 3 simple ingredients, I was intrigued by how seemingly easy these cookies were.  Not only are these Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies easy to make, they are super tasty too.  I was pleasantly surprised at how something so simple can be so incredible!  The result is a soft and chewy cookie that is perfectly peanut buttery.  While perfect as-is, a cup of chocolate chips or chopped peanuts would be a delicious addition to this recipe.

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
 
Yields: 24 cookies
Ingredients
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter (chunky or creamy)
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, beat peanut butter, sugar and egg together until blended. Put in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to firm up the dough.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment.
  3. Drop dough by tablespoonful onto prepared cookie sheet and flatten with the tines of a fork, creating a cross-hatch pattern. (Tip: It is helpful to spray fork with cooking spray to keep it from sticking to cookie).
  4. Bake for 8 minutes (Note: Be careful not to overbake, otherwise it will result in a crisper cookie). Let cool on cookie sheet for 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

Adapted from Taste of Home: Holiday Cookies

Edamame Guacamole

One of our favorite cuisines is Mexican, and an essential accompaniment is (of course) guacamole.  For a while now, I have been saving recipes for guacamole and finally decided it was time to make my own.  I wanted to give it with a healthy twist incorporating one of my favorite foods – enter Edamame Guacamole.

This guacamole did not disappoint.  There are little flecks of edamame throughout, adding a protein and fiber boost.  Along with the good fats from the avocado, this guacamole is a nutrition powerhouse.  The combination of the onion, chile and salsa (I used medium) give this guacamole some zip without being overpowering.  Below I listed the amounts that I used, but really everything can be adjusted to taste.  It is such a flexible and forgiving recipe.    This Edamame Guacamole tasted so fresh and delicious, I almost grabbed a bag of baked tortilla chips and some crudites and called it dinner.  Almost….but I needed to save some for a special recipe that I will be sharing with you tomorrow.  Edamame Guacamole meets an old childhood favorite!

Edamame Guacamole
 
Yields: 2 cups
Ingredients
  • 1 avocado, pitted and peeled
  • 1 cup shelled edamame (thawed if frozen - that is what I used)
  • ½ cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo, chopped
  • ¼ cup salsa
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped (optional, to taste)
Instructions
  1. Put avocado, edamame, onion, chile, salsa, garlic and lime in food processor and pulse until smooth. Add cilantro, if desired. Tranfer to a bowl, add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Adapted from Whole Foods

Root Beer Float Cookies

Sometimes nothing beats a good root beer float. Or at least that’s what I thought until I tried these Root Beer Float Cookies.  While at first I was not quite sure what to expect, that first bite tasted so familiar.  Then it hit me – these cookies taste like a root beer float!

The dough is very simple to make and takes around 10 minutes. To make it easier to work with, I recommend refrigerating the dough for a couple hours (if you can wait overnight, even better).

There are flecks of root beer barrel candies studded throughout each cookie, adding some texture, color and root beer flavor. They are topped with a simple root beer drizzle and additional crushed candies, if desired.  The best part…each cookie comes in around 70 calories!

Root Beer Float Cookies
 
Yields: approximately 4 dozen cookies
Ingredients
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup crushed root beer flavored hard candies (approx 8)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon allspice
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 to 5 teaspoons root beer (or milk)
  • additional crushed root beer flavored hard candies (optional, for garnish)
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt cinnamon and allspice.
  2. In a separate large bowl, beat brown sugar and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, beating until combined.
  3. Using a wooden spoon, mix the flour mixture with the butter mixture until just combined. Stir in crushed candies. For best results, refrigerate dough for 1 hour to overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart.
  6. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until edges are slightly golden brown. Cool 5 minutes on cookie sheet and then move cookies to wire rack to cool completely (at least 20 minutes).
  7. Root Beer Glaze: Stir powdered sugar and root beer, adding the root beer by the teaspoonful, until desired consistency is achieved.
  8. Drizzle glaze over cooled cookies and sprinkle with crushed candies, as desired.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 72 Fat: 2g

Adapted from Eat Better America

Banana Cornbread Muffins

These  Banana Cornbread Muffins were whipped together as a result of a request from my little Adam.  For weeks, he had been asking me to make cornbread ~ specifically rosemary cornbread.   Since I did not have any fresh rosemary on hand (and let’s be honest…it’s just not the same with dried), I decided to come up with something new.  I spotted an overripe banana, got out a pen and a yellow sticky note and started jotting down what became this recipe.

The result is a muffin with a nice balance of banana and cornbread.  They are light and fluffy, like any good muffin should be (so more muffin-y than cornbread-y).  I made half with a banana slice on top and half without.  They look nicer with a slice, but the banana turns brown after a day or so.  It still tastes good, but just not as pretty.

Banana Cornbread Muffins
Yields 12 muffins

Ingredients
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 ripe banana, mashed (about 1 cup)
1 1/2 cups low fat buttermilk
1/4 cup canola oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
thin banana slices (optional, for topping)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin pan with 12 paper liners (or spray with cooking spray).  Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the banana, buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla until blended.
  4. Add the banana mixture to the cornmeal mixture and fold until combined.
  5. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.  Place a slice of banana on top of each muffin.  Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Peanut Butter Pumpkin Spice Granola Bars

In the spirit of the Peanut Butter for Breakfast campaign, I thought it would be fun to share some breakfast recipes using peanut butter.  What better place to find inspiration than the National Peanut Board’s website.  I found so many delicious ideas, including these super healthy granola bars.  It is amazing how easy and inexpensive it is to make granola bars right at home.  And they’re good too!

These granola bars have a perfect balance of flavors and a nice texture that is not too chewy, not too crispy.  They are naturally sweetened with dried fruit and a touch of molasses.  The peanut butter is present, but subtle, and acts as a binder with the egg whites.  Add a little spice, some oats and seeds, and you have a healthy, high-protein, high-fiber granola bar that is perfect for an on-the-go breakfast, a mid-morning pick me up, or any time the mood strikes.

Peanut Butter Pumpkin Spice Granola Bars
 
Yields: 8 bars
Ingredients
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter (chunky or creamy)
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1½ cup rolled oats
  • ¼ cup dried fruit, such as dates, raisins, prunes, chopped (I used dates)
  • 2 tablespoon flaxseed meal
  • 2 tablespoons pepitas (green pumpkin seeds) or sunflower seeds
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 8-inch square baking pan with foil and spray foil with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, egg whites and molasses until combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the oats, dried fruit, flaxseed, pepitas, sesame seeds and pumpkin pie spice.
  4. Add the oat mixture to the peanut butter mixture, and stir until combined.
  5. Pour into prepared baking dish and use a silicone spatula (or the back of a spoon sprayed with cooking spray) to spread the mixture into the pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan. Remove from pan by lifting out the foil and then cut into 8 bars.

Adapted from the National Peanut Board

Raisin Bran Muffins

These Raisin Bran Muffins come from a cookbook called Kids Cooking: A Very Slightly Messy Manual, by Klutz Press.  I received this book as a gift when I was about 10 years old.  The book is obviously geared toward kids with recipes using basic ingredients ~ some with silly names or  interesting concepts (for example Tuna Cones, i.e. tuna in an ice cream cone.  Hmm…)

Anyway, these Raisin Bran Muffins were always a favorite and probably the most made recipe from that book.  They taste just like you would expect – raisin bran in muffin form.  I thought they would be a fun treat to make for Adam, only this time I decided to enhance the recipe with some vanilla, cinnamon and extra raisins.  I had no idea how much he would love them!  Adam is lukewarm about raisins alone, but the raisins in these muffins he loves.  Go figure.

Raisin Bran Muffins
Yields 12 muffins

2 cups raisin bran cereal
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup raisins
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.  Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, stir raisin brain cereal, flours, sugar, raisins, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. Mix egg, buttermilk, oil and vanilla until combined.  Add to the dry ingredients and fold gently until combined (do not over mix).
  4. Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups.  Bake for 18-23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Put muffins on a wire rack to cool completely.

Adapted from Kids Cooking: A Very Slightly Messy Manual by Klutz Press

healthy easy chocolate peanut butter pretzel truffles with flax gluten free

Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles

I have never been one to do much for Valentine’s Day, but I am happy to have any reason to cook or bake something special.  Or in the case of these truffles, to mix, roll, and chill something special.  These tasty truffles are not only easy and a healthier option, but are made using a few simple ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry.

We all know that chocolate and peanut butter are wonderful together.  Add pretzels, and you have the ultimate salty-sweet combination.  Toss in a little flaxseed for good measure, and voila!   Delicious little Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles.  These are the perfect little treat for your sweetie this Valentine’s Day, or for yourself any day simply because you are worth it!

Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles
 
Yields: 16 truffles
Ingredients
  • ½ cup chunky natural peanut butter
  • ½ cup pretzels, crushed (this yields approx. ¼ cup once crushed)
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
  • ½ cup chocolate chips, melted
  • sprinkles (optional, for topping)
  • chopped peanuts (optional, for topping)
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, mix peanut butter, crushed pretzels and flaxseed until combined. Put in the freezer for 45 minutes to 1 hour (until mixture is solid).
  2. Roll a small rounded teaspoonful of peanut butter mixture in your hands to form a ball. Place ball on small tray (or plate) lined with parchment or waxed paper. Repeat until all mixture is used. Put tray in freezer until firm, at least 1 hour (I often do this overnight).
  3. Working quickly, dip the frozen balls in melted chocolate and place back on parchment-lined tray. (Note: using 2 forks to dip and pass the balls in the chocolate works well). Top with sprinkles or chopped peanuts, if desired. Refrigerate until chocolate is set, at least 30 minutes. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator.
Notes
1) When working with natural peanut butter, I recommend microwaving it in the jar (as long as the jar is glass) for about 30 seconds. All natural, easily stirred peanut butter.
2) When melting chocolate chips in the microwave, always remember less is more. Cook it on low power in 30-second intervals until chips just start to melt. Then stir to finish melting. Work quickly to dip the truffles.

Adapted from Eating Well