January 25, 2016

Strawberry Banana Fudge Muffins

Ohhh man were these muffins good. The original recipe called them Skinny Banana Fudge Muffins, but I made them a little less skinny, but only slightly less, and they were incredible. I also added strawberries since I had some in the fridge and hello chocolate-covered strawberry muffins??
I seriously loved and devoured my first muffin when it was still warm. My toddlers loved them as well. They are fudgy, sweet, flavorful and don't have any butter or oil in the ingredient list.
You can add mini or regular-sized chocolate chips into these and they technically become a healthier dessert. This is a perfect way to satisfy your sweet tooth without all of the calories and fat.
Also, these can easily be made without the strawberries like the original recipe, but again if you love chocolate and strawberries, you are going to die over these!

Strawberry Banana Fudge Muffins
Adapted from Our Best Bites
Makes 12-16 Muffins
3 large, extra ripe bananas
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup plain yogurt or applesauce
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup mini or regular chocolate chips (milk or semisweet)
3/4 cup chopped strawberries

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line a muffin tin (or 2) with 12-16 liners.
2. Smash bananas in a large mixing bowl. Add sugar, egg, yogurt/applesauce and vanilla and combine until well mixed. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Pour dry ingredients into wet and mix together until fully combined, but don’t overmix.
3. Set aside about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the chocolate chips and add the rest to the batter. Mix in the chopped strawberries and *divide the batter between the cups. Sprinkle remaining chocolate chips on top. 
4. Bake for 15 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out with moist crumbs attached. Don’t overbake. Let cook on rack for 5 minutes and then remove muffins from pan to cooling rack until just warm.

*A muffin-sized scoop works perfectly to equally divide the batter. I have this one and love it.

January 22, 2016

Easy Tuscan Vegetable Soup

Ok so I know this soup may not look like much...just a whole lot of vegetables thrown together, but it is out of this world in the flavor department! My sister-in-law served it at a family party a few months ago and I could not believe how good it was. Even my husband, who loves his meat, thought it was incredible.

This soup is hearty, healthy and tastes amazing. It was so easy to throw together and is absolutely perfect on a cold, winter day. In other words, I really need to make this again ASAP.

Easy Tuscan Vegetable Soup
Serves 4-6
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
1 small sweet potato, diced
2 tsp. garlic, minced
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. dried rosemary
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 (14 oz.) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 (14 oz.) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes with juices
1 1/2 cups chopped spinach
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. white sugar
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar

1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, zucchini, and sweet potato. Sauté for 5 minutes.
2. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, thyme and rosemary. Cook 30 seconds.
3. Stir in the broth, beans and tomatoes. Bring the contents to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and add the chopped spinach. Cover the pot and simmer for 15 minutes.
4. Use an immersion blender to partially puree the soup, leaving some chunks of beans and vegetables for texture.

5. Add the salt, pepper, sugar, and vinegar. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve topped with Parmesan and a side of crusty bread.

January 19, 2016

Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've wanted to make these cookies forever now and finally got around to it. I loved the idea of sweet and salty and especially the added crunch of the pretzels in a chocolate chip cookie.
At first I wasn't quite sure if these cookies were any better than your average chocolate chip cookie, but once they cooled (apparently I don't love hot cookies) they were completely addicting! So addicting in fact, my husband and I ate almost the entire batch ourselves in a day...
These are so easy to make and I tell ya, that extra crunch of the pretzel really makes these good. If you're a fan of sweet and salty, like I am, you will love these!
So if you have a bag of pretzels you don't know what to do with sitting on your pantry shelf, do yourself a favor and make these! Chocolate always makes things better!

Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from High Heels and Grills
Makes about 24 cookies
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup and 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 3/4 - 2 cups bread flour {all-purpose is fine, too}
3/4 cup stick or twisted pretzels
3/4 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
2. Cream the sugars and butter together until light and fluffy.
3. Add eggs, one at a time and mix thoroughly. Scrape sides and add vanilla, mixing well again.
4. In a medium bowl, combine the salt and baking soda with 1 3/4 cup of flour. Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture, 1/2 cup at a time. You want the dough to pull away from the edges, so if it is very sticky, add more flour, 1/4 cup at a time until it stiffens up.
5. Place the pretzels in a Ziploc bag and lightly crush with a rolling pin until you have barely broken the pretzels. (You’ll still want bite-sized pieces.) Add the pretzels and chocolate chips to the cookie dough mixture and mix on low speed until pretzels and chips are evenly mixed.
6. Using a medium cookie scoop, drop balls of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

7. Bake for 10 minutes. Let cookies sit on baking sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer cookies to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container.

January 15, 2016

Pantry-Friendly Thai Chicken Curry with Red Peppers

I have become absolutely OBSESSED with anything curry. Thai or Indian, I don't care, I love it. The flavors compliment each other so well every time and I can't get enough!
Any sauce composed of coconut milk and curry spices is going to be good and nothing is better "curried" than chicken. Oh man. The red peppers were a perfect addition to this dish as well. I really just loved it if you can't tell.
If you want to make something that will wow your family or friends this is it. I know there are people who are not fans of curry, (I used to claim to be one of them), but you've at least got to give this one a try. Because, yum.

Pantry Friendly 30-Minute Chicken Curry with Red Peppers
Adapted from Carlsbad Cravings
1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. curry paste (sold at most grocery stores in the Asian food section)
2 chicken breasts, thinly sliced into 1/8” slices against the grain
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. garlic, minced
1 (14 oz.) can quality coconut milk
1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/8 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 Tbsp. lime juice
1/8 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

1. Heat oil over medium high heat in large nonstick skillet. Add curry paste and sauté for 1 minute.
2. Add sliced chicken and cook just until chicken is no longer pink. Add red peppers and sauté for 5 minutes. Add ginger and garlic and sauté 30 seconds.
3. Add 3/4 of the can of coconut milk. Whisk cornstarch into remaining 1/4 can of coconut milk then add to skillet.
4. Stir in sugar, lime juice, thyme and salt. Simmer for 5 minutes then add cilantro and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
5. Garnish with additional cilantro or lime juice if desired and serve over rice.

January 13, 2016

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I took a bit of a break from posting any recipes, but I think that's just what the holidays do to ya. You need a break from life after December. Ha. Anyway, I know everyone already has a recipe for Chicken Tortilla Soup that they love...but this one is a definite must-try!
There is tons of flavor in this soup and it comes together so effortlessly. I love how the chicken is cooked with the soup so it absorbs the flavor of the broth.
And of course the best part of tortilla soup are the toppings! You've got to try it with Tostito's Hint of Lime Tortilla Chips. Delicious! This is the perfect soup to warm you up on a chilly January day, too.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
Adapted from The Food Network
Serves 2-4 
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 small onion, diced
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. cumin
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 (14.5-oz.) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 (14.5-oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1-2 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1 lime, juiced, plus wedges for garnish
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Toppings: shredded cheese, feta, sour cream, lime wedges, tortilla chips, avocado, etc.

1. In a large saucepan heat the oil. Add the onions and cook for 2 minutes. Once the onions have softened add the garlic and cumin and cook for another minute.
2. Pour the chicken broth, tomatoes and beans into the pot and bring to a boil. Once at a boil lower heat to simmer and add your chicken breasts. Cook the chicken for 20 to 25 minutes. Once chicken is cooked remove from pot. When cool enough to handle shred it and set it aside. 3. Add lime juice and fresh cilantro to the pot. Add salt and pepper as needed. In a serving bowl add a mound of shredded chicken. Ladle soup over chicken and top with cheese, tortilla chips, avocado, etc.

January 4, 2016

My Favorite Recipes of 2015

It was honestly hard to choose only 10 of my favorite recipes from this 2015 because I try to share only delicious food on this blog. But here's a list of some tried and true ones that I've made over and over again this past year.

Easy Six-Layer Taco Cups - These are not only pretty, but they taste amazing, too! The filling possibilities are endless as well, which make them a great crowd pleaser!

Cinnamon Burst Pancakes - Ohhh man, if you're like me and love the Cinnamon Burst bread from Great Harvest, you're going to love these pancakes! Those caramelized cinnamon sugar bursts never get old!

Thai Coconut Curry Soup - I have a new found love for anything curry and this soup nails it on the head! So much good coconut curry flavor and the chicken is to die for! You must make it this winter!

Deconstructed Greek Platter - This is by far one of my favorite new meals!! I love anything Greek and the simple concept of this dish is the best. It's basically build-your-own with the freshest ingredients. Love it!

Gooey Hot Fudge Oat Cake - We had some friends over for dessert this past summer and this is what I decided to make. Thank goodness it ended up being a total hit and something I dream about constantly! Ooey, gooey, chocolate heaven!

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Chimichurri Sauce - This was one of those recipes that I knew I would be making for years and years to come after I tried it. What a fun way to spice up roasted sweet potatoes! Who knew they could get even better??

Healthy 5-Minute Peach Frozen Yogurt - I love to find healthier ways to indulge in something sweet and this is THE perfect way. So creamy, perfect peach flavor and totally guilt free! What can be better than that?

Fresh Broccoli Pasta Salad - I decided to bring broccoli salad to a neighbor's house for dinner earlier this year because I had the ingredients for it, but decided to spice it up with feta, craisins and pasta. It turned out to be incredible and I'm thinking this needs to go on next week's menu! It's been too long!

Easy Stovetop Shells and Cheese - Who doesn't love a good shells and cheese recipe?? I have made this several times now and I can't get enough. It's a classic and the whole family loves it.

Chicken Enchilada Nachos - I can't believe it took me so long to try a dinner nacho recipe, but I'm glad I did! There is so much flavor in every bite and it's about the easiest thing you can make for your family or for an appetizer!

Well there's my list! Thanks for stopping by and I hope you'll decide to try a few of these recipes this year!

Stay tuned for more. :)

For more of my favorite recipes check out:

My Favorite Recipes of 2012
My Favorite Recipes of 2013
My Favorite Recipes of 2014

January 1, 2016

Top Ten Most Popular Recipes of 2015

Every year seems to go faster than the last! This was another amazing year of good food and some fun recipes I got to share. 

Here are the top ten most viewed this year. It's exciting to see, which ones have made it around the web!

10. Roasted Parmesan & Garlic Shrimp: This was a new kind of recipe for me on the blog since I rarely post anything having to do with seafood. These shrimp are unassuming, but have so much flavor. The best part is they're ready in less than 15 minutes!

9. Small Batch Vanilla Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting (Makes 4): There is no surprise this is one of the most viewed because there's nothing better than having the perfect amount of dessert. Easy to make and they turn out great every time!

8. Cheese Ravioli with Lemon Basil Butter Sauce: This dish is as decadent as it sounds without all the hassle! Love the flavor combo and who wouldn't love a butter sauce??

7. Better-Than-Takeout Baked Orange Chicken: Not only does this chicken look impressive, it tastes incredible, too! This was one of my all-time favorite takeout fakeout recipes I've ever made. You've got to try it if you haven't yet.

6. Cheesy Salsa Verde Chicken and Rice Bake: Who doesn't love Mexican food, especially one that can be thrown together like a casserole! This chicken and rice bake is delicious and everyone in your family will love it.

5. Roasted Broccoli and Alfredo Stuffed Shells: I'm so excited to see this recipe here because it is one I'm most proud of. It took a few tries and a few substitutions, but I think I finally came up an incredible dish. Take it from a broccoli and alfredo fan, this is delicious!

4. Gooey S'mores Bars: I can definitely see why these bars made this list because when I first saw this recipe floating around the web I could not get the idea out of my head. They are RICH, but who doesn't love a good s'more dessert?

3. Amazing Steak and Chicken Marinade: I am always looking for good marinades that only include pantry ingredients and this definitely falls under that category. Lots of flavor, inexpensive and makes any meat taste amazing!

2. Cowboy Caviar: Not only is this dip pretty, it is so addicting! It's got plenty of flavor, but it's also really healthy! A definite win.

And the most popular recipe of 2015 is...

1. Easy Homemade Cinnamon Rolls: I love, love, love this recipe! Cinnamon rolls are probably my favorite treat and this is a smaller batch that is so easy to make. This recipe has a lot of great tips and the result is as delicious as you would hope for in a cinnamon roll.

Thanks for stopping by! It's so fun to be able to share what I love to do. :)

For more popular recipes check out:

Top Ten Most Popular Recipes of 2012
Top Ten Most Popular Recipes of 2013
Top Ten Most Popular Recipes of 2014