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This recipe is so good, I have to rave about it.

Let me just begin by saying, I am not against dairy by any means. In fact, I love dairy so much, I’m usually out of it. And in this case, it was Sunday morning and I was completely out of eggs. (I know, Eggs aren’t “dairy” but you get my point). I think this is a common problem for people in baking, and you spend hour after hour searching the internet for a recipe that will “work” with what ingredients you have on hand.

I don’t follow recipes – never have. When I tell people I don’t follow baking recipes they gasp at me: “But you have to use one for BAKING!” Negative, ghost rider.

All baking basics use the same ratios. As long as you follow those ratios, you are golden, and you can substitute any ingredient for one you do not have. I didn’t use exact measurements when I made these muffins, but I’ll ballpark for you:

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 super ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup pure cane sugar
  • about 1 cup carrot apple ginger soup (To see how to make this click here)
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Step 1) Mash ripened bananas in a large bowl and mix in the sugar and carrot apple soup. (I like to wait until the bananas are literally almost black. Then I can use way less sugar (just a couple sprinkles) – the riper the bananas, the more natural sweetener they will extract)

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Step 2) In another bowl, mix 2.5 cups flour and 1 tsp baking soda (I just chook the baking soda but estimate it was about 1 tsp) (You’re supposed to mix ALL your dry ingredients together, but I added the liquid next. Add some salt and cinnamon here though, if you like

Step 3) Add in the liquid to the flower and mix together. Here is where I doused it in cinnamon, and I also added a bit more sugar too. (but I didn’t use 1/4 cup, I just sprinkled it earlier, so I would say in total, I probably used 1/4 cup). Also add in your chocolate chips – I just dumped them in until there were enough that looked good – but again, I would estimate it was about a cup.)

Step 4) Dab olive oil in your muffin tin and spread it around the sides of the circles with a cooking brush (Or you can just spray the cans with PAM, but I didn’t have PAM)

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Step 5) Fill the muffin tin with the mixture

Step 6) Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or so. (I had a small tin, and just did all my dishes and then a couple other things and by the time I could really smell them, I checked and they were done.) You know they’re done because the edges are golden brown and the center is fluffy. Another check = put a toothpick down the center, if it pulls out clean, they are done. If it pulls out covered in batter, they aren’t done yet).

20150621_103349 muffins

Step 7) Any Extra batter you have just put in a large ziplock bag and freeze it. You can put it back in the fridge next Friday night and the batter will be ready to use next Sunday morning for Pancakes, bread, or more muffins if you wish.

And just to prove that these do actually work out; because I can smell your skepticism from here – here are some more pictures of the after, and of the center when you take a bite!

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FotorCreated

One of the best ways to save money is to cook in bulk and use the same ingredient for several uses. So for that reason, I bestow this wisdom to you, my fellow yuppies. From soup served with homemade herb bread, to cheesy mac & cheese, to pancakes, to muffins, this recipe won’t let you down. I know it looks like a lot of work, but it does the cooking for you, you just need to be around the house to periodically check on it/supervise.

I like to make these soup mixtures in large batches on Sundays while I do laundry and watch movies. Mostly because there are several steps, and the time it takes to let it cool/simmer makes it necessary to be doing other things! I store these in individual mason jars in the fridge. If you fill the mason jars while it is still hot, the lid of the mason jar will seal, and make this last for up to 2 months. You can also freeze it, and defrost whenever you’re ready to use. It’s a great way to get a burst of phytonutrients, and these mixtures are so diverse! In the winter I make this using Winter Squash, but considering it’s summer, carrots it is.

Let’s start with how to make the mixture:

The only ingredients you need are Apples, Carrots, Broth (or Water), Onions, & Garlic.

ingredients

  • Step 1) Peel 1 onion and 2 cloves garlic and chop in your Cuisinart, and let it sit while you prepare the other ingredients. (Garlic has two sides to it: a heat sensitive side, and a non heat sensitive side. To get the full health benefits of garlic, they both must interact before the heat sensitive side gets destroyed in the heat of the pan. So let it sit chopped up for 10 minutes (or just make chopping the onions and garlic the very first thing you do))
  • Step 2) Peel and chop 1 apple into cubes (to make this sweeter, use two apples. Can substitute with pears)
  • Step 3) Chop up about 5 carrots (Big, and Thin Sized Carrots)
  • Step 4) Sautee your onions and garlic in a big pasta pan until translucent
  • Step 5) Add in your Carrots, and Apple and season with salt, pepper, and other herbs you have/like

carrots                       apples

  • Step 6) After a couple minutes, add in your broth. If making Soup, add in enough water to cover the vegetables/fruit, for a thicker sauce-type mixture, have the water stop about 1 inch below the vegetables

add broth          how much liquid

  • Step 7) Cover pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn down to a simmer. Add in graded ginger root, or ginger seasoning, & cumin. Let it simmer about 15 minutes, or until apples and carrots can easily be punctured by a fork.
  • Step 8) Once carrots and apples are soft, turn off the burner, and let it cool, and then run it in small batches through a blender (A large batch of hot liquid in a blender will cause the blender to explode, so be CAREFUL and LET IT COOL)

blend

For Soup: you are done! (I’ll put the mixture back on the stove and put in a bay leaf and more flavoring (graded ginger root, or ginger seasoning)and let it simmer for another 5 min or so.) Store it in mason jars, and heat up and serve with bread for dipping!

For Mac & Cheese, Put the liquid mixture back into pot and put in your cooked pasta. Add in about 1/4 cup of graded cheese of your choice (or mixture of cheeses). Take a Greased casserole dish, and layer in the pasta mixture, with layers of graded cheese on top. (Example: 1 layer pasta, 1 layer graded cheeses, 1 layer pasta, 1 layer graded cheeses) and top it with another layer of graded cheese and bread crumbs if you choose. Pop it in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes. *Note: You may need to add in some corn starch or flour to thicken it up before layering in the casserole dish. *Tip: For a cheesier center, layer with strips of cheese rather than graded.

For a basic pasta dish, just add this as a sauce to cooked pasta of your choice, add in chopped up spinach, tomatoes, pancetta, shrimp, etc., add in a couple tablespoons of flour or corn starch to thicken. Top with parmesan cheese and basil and enjoy!

Pasta Fresca

For a Veggie or Meat Sauce, Top this on some steamed asparagus, steamed broccoli, or on top of a chicken breast/fish fillet with rice! Add in some pine nuts and top with fresh or dried herbs.

For Dairy-Free Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins: Mash up 4-5 bananas, add in 1 can of the carrot mixture, and 1/4 cup pure cane sugar with 1-2 tablespoons honey and 1 tsp vanilla extract (honey and extract optional). In another bowl, mix 2 1/2 cups flour with 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp salt, and 2 tablespoons cinnamon. Mix liquid and flour together. Add in 1 cup chocolate chips, and bake in muffin tins in 350 degrees for 10 minutes (or until you can put a toothpick through the muffin and have it come out clear). Let cool, and enjoy!

Muffin Prep

muffins

For Dairy-Free Chocolate Chip Banana Bread: Same as above. Cook in coated bread pan.

For Dairy-Free Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes: Same as above, cook on skillet on low heat.

 

YUPPIEE

 

Well, this post is going to be a little bit different, but is something I need to get off my chest.

Lately on Facebook, I’ve been reading article after article that has a beautiful young woman as the main picture, and a list of reasons “Why You Should Want to Be Alone” or “30 Reasons Not to Have Kids” or “Why You Should Embrace Your Curves” or “How To Be Happy”

Let’s start with why I should want to be alone. These articles talk about how you don’t need a man, you shouldn’t want a man, and how being a single woman is the way to go. And if you want kids (which you shouldn’t) no problem – there are options.. OTHER than a man.

Well, I have lived alone for 2 years now in downtown Chicago working a corporate job, and let me just say, I am happy alone. I am 100% happy coming home, cooking dinner, making tea, and reading in my bed until I can fall (yes, diagonally) asleep across my full size bed (which is really only big enough for one person anyway). But let me also say, I want to get married. And there is nothing wrong with that. I don’t think there should be. I believe the greatest gift God gave us was our ability to love, and I want to love whole heartedly one day, and that doesn’t make me weird, and doesn’t make me mentally challenged, and certainly doesn’t make me weak.

Also, as a woman, I was built with a tenderness and a motherly instinct, just like any other living being on earth. And I don’t want to deny that. So I can tell you 30 reasons why I want to have kids, and will do everything I can TO have kids one day. And again, this doesn’t mean I have to give up my life, and doesn’t mean I have to desert my identity as a person. It simply means I get to grow another soul to reflect my own. And that makes me beautiful.

And guess what, I think I’m hot. I work out, and I eat well, and I love my body. If I feel myself gaining weight, or getting extra “curves” – I begin to watch what I eat better, maybe cut off the pasta for a couple days, and make sure I eat nutritious meals. That doesn’t make me self conscious and it doesn’t make me have an eating disorder. It doesn’t mean I’m not confident in my own skin, either. It means I love myself, and I love my body, and I want to treat it well and be as healthy as possible. And you know what? I’m not ashamed to turn down a hamburger on a date because I want to look like a “girl that eats”. If any guy has a problem with me loving myself enough to nourish it with some spinach and tomatoes, he can hit the road and grow his beer belly on his own terms.

The final article type I want to address, are those that tell you how to be happy. In almost every article it addresses how you “probably went to school for a degree you didn’t want” or how you “probably wake up every day to go to a corporate office where you sit in a chair all day and never see the sun”. And well, that’s pretty on target. If I had it my way, I would have gone to the University of Iowa to be a writer. Or, I would have skipped college entirely and pursued my rhythmic gymnastics career, or some facet of it. But the truth is, I went to Iowa for Finance, because I knew it was sustainable and dependable. And the other truth is, I do wake up every day and go to an office where on most days, I don’t see the sun. But you know what? Everyday I go there, I challenge myself. I challenge myself mentally, physically, and sometimes emotionally. I’m dedicated to my clients and to my work, and the feeling I get when something is completed correctly overrides any other feeling in the world. Above all, this “degree I didn’t want” pays my bills, and increases my intellect. And being intelligent, and able to pay my bills – that makes me happy.

No, I didn’t make this article to put down the authors of these articles. They’re great writers and I love reading others thoughts and opinions. I just wanted to write this post to say that it is okay to want to be with a man, and it’s OK to want kids, and it’s OK if you wake up every morning and go to an office chair until dusk. In fact, it shapes you as a person. And if you are able to find happiness in the “monotonous life” that these so called “Happiness Experts” so gracefully ridicule, than you, my friend, have achieved something most people probably never even so much as stretch to obtain. You have achieved a personal happiness within yourself, that nobody can ever take away from you. And you didn’t need an island to do it. And you can be with a man. And you can raise kids. And you can be a damn hot super model doing it. And that is completely OK.

 

 

Salad!'

 

Considering this is my latest obsession, I have to share! I’ll do the quick version in the ingredient list (with canned ingredients) but be careful if you purchase canned goods as they can have added chemicals and/or tons of sodium. The best thing to do is buy your own beans, soak them over night, and store them in a mason jar until you’re ready to use them. (Under 1 week). I also use canned tomatoes from my garden, or will just chop up some cherry tomatoes! When using canned goods, always pour the canned good into a pasta strainer over your sink to drain the liquid out of it. Then rinse it under water before use. This ingredient list will give you about 3 – 4 servings so be prepared to save some in your fridge! I usually make enough for the week, and store the spinach separately from the “quinoa topping”. I’ll bring one large Tupperware or zip lock bag of spinach to work on Monday, and every morning I just need to bring a small Tupperware with the filling and an avocado.

The best thing about this salad? No dressing! (Unless you really want it, you can top it with an olive oil/vinegar mix) but the juice from the quinoa filling suffices.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of Spinach (for about 2-3 servings)
  • 1 cups of Quinoa (will make about 3-4 servings)
  • 1 can of beans (pure, no sodium)
  • 1 can of olives (no sodium)
  • 1 can of tomatoes
  • 1 avocado *Quick Tip: Purchase 4-5 avocados at the store, and keep them in your fridge. This can keep the avocado good for about 2 weeks! I also love the cool taste of avocado on this salad, which you only obtain by keeping it in the fridge.

How to Prepare:

  • Put 1 cup Quinoa (or any other grain you prefer) in about 2 cups of water (universal measurement for buckwheat, quinoa, lentils, rice, any grain pretty much)
  • Cover the pot and bring it to a boil. (While this goes to a boil, chop your spinach and tomatoes and olives) Once boiling, give it a stir and turn it down to a simmer.
  • After about 5 minutes of the grain simmering, add in the drained and rinsed canned beans. (You want a little bit of liquid still in there to help cook the beans). Keep the pot covered the whole time, and continue to simmer it, stirring periodically.

Salad!2

  • When the water has been completely absorbed by the quinoa and beans (about another 5 minutes). Pour in the olives and tomatoes. Cover the pot, and let it cook for another 5 minutes or so.
  • Season Quinoa mixture with salt, pepper, cumin, and Cajun seasoning (or another seasoning with a kick!)
  • Let the mixture slightly cool and then top on a plate on top of spinach
  • Cut the avocado into cubes and top the salad with the avocado

I love this recipe because the combination of the cool avocado and warm quinoa with beans and olives and tomato just puts my taste buds in heaven. The juices from the tomato and beans and olive also make for a great substitute to salad dressing.

This is super easy to make and keep for the week. Just make the filling on Sunday, (Allow about 0.5 hours) and keep the prepared spinach with it. And remember, you can put whatever you like in the quinoa! It’s basically a stir fry on top of greens.

I’ve been eating this, literally every day. I don’t know if I’ll ever get tired of it. Does anyone else have good salad combinations??? If you do let me know I’m always looking for them, especially in summer!!

Finally it’s summer! This is a delicious sorbet that is a great substitute and cure to any ice cream craving you have. Stick with me through this, and give it a shot, because it honestly tastes just like mint chocolate chip ice cream! This is best if you have a Ninja or a VitaMix – but I’ve done this in a regular blender as well and it has been fine.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Spinach
  • 1 Frozen Banana (Take a banana that is going ripe, and peel it. Wrap it in saran wrap, and put it in a plastic bag for frozen bananas!)
  • Peppermint Extract
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Splash of water

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Step 1) Put the spinach and frozen banana in the blender. Put the blender under the sink and just put a quick splash of water in it.

Step 2) Blend it until smooth, and add in 1 tsp peppermint extract, and give it another quick blend

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Step 3) Pour in Chocolate Chips!

Step 4) Put mixture in a Tupperware, and put it in the freezer for about 1 hour

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Once it’s done just scoop it in a bowl and enjoy!