Babies Like Snacks Too (A Finger Food Recipe)

I love home made food. I love knowing exactly what went into the things that I am consuming, and the satisfaction of enjoying something that I made.

This is also part of the reason why I, for the most part, make or prepare Jackson’s food myself. (For convenience we also give him organic baby food pouches from brands such as: Happy Baby, Sprout, Ella’s Kitchen, and Earth’s Best.) As he has gotten older, I have been trying to get creative with finger foods and not just give him puffs, or Purely O’s (Cascadian Farms organic sugarless version of Cheerios), and my awesome pediatrician mentioned at our last visit that she gave her son “coconut truffles” that she had made herself. That gave me the idea to make Jackson baby friendly “Larabar” bites.

The main ingredients are dates, unsweetened shredded coconut, goji berries, chia seeds, and sunflower seeds. I chose these ingredients for their ability to hold together, nutritional value, and because they are safe to give a baby at 10 months old, which is how old Jackson is. (note: They are all being blended together, so there is no choking hazard.)

What you need:

~ 35 pitted dates (I got them from the bulk bin in Whole Foods so I really didn’t count!)

~ 1/3 cup of shredded unsweetened coconut

~ 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds

3 Tbsp goji berries

1 Tbsp Chia seeds

splash of vanilla

dash of cinnamon

Throw all the ingredients in the food processor and just let it go. You can stop it periodically to make sure all the ingredients are incorporating and blending together. You know its ready when the mixture starts to pull away from the sides of the food processor bowl and begin to ball up.

Mixture is ready!

Mixture is ready!

Once it’s ready you can now roll it into little bites for your baber, or form into small bars for them to bite (or for yourself, because they’re pretty stinking tasty!).

Other ingredients you can add: maca powder, cacao powder, various dried fruit, hemp seeds…whatever nutritious thing you want to sneak in & whatever you think your kiddo would like!

Perfect baby bites.

Perfect baby bites.

I got 4 ounces of little bites for my son, and also formed 6 small bars that we could share.

All of the ingredients I used I felt comfortable giving to my son after our well visit with our pediatrician (and asking some friends advice). Ask your pediatrician if you have any questions regarding what foods your child should be eating. When introducing new foods I always pay attention to make sure there are no allergic reactions going on!

Jackson DEVOURED these bites. He loved them so much! I hope your kiddo enjoys them too!

Have you made any yummy snacks for your littles? Please share!!! 🙂 We love food, especially the home made kind!

 

 

 

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Perfectly Perfect Kale Chips

Because making veggies into chips combines two of my favorite things!!!!

One of my favorite vegetables out there is kale. It is so rich in nutrients and so versatile. I was in Whole Foods this week and they were having a kale sale, so I picked some up with no real plan for what I was going to do with it. Last night lentil soup was on the menu and I wanted something with a crunch for a different texture to go with it, and when I spotted the kale in the fridge I immediately thought, “KALE CHIPS!”. 

(Here is the lentil soup recipe. Many people asked for the recipe when I posted a picture of our dinner! I posted it on my IG account [@foodformyhouse], but figured I’d link it here too.)

The chips came out perfectly crispy, and were so satisfying paired with the warm hearty soup. So, I figured since I loved them so much, and since I thought pairing them with soup was a fun idea, I want to share how I made them!

I really really love lacinato (or Tuscan) kale. It’s leaves are more flat than curly kale (making it more ideal for making chips, IMO), and it has bumps running throughout. I read it has the nickname “dinosaur kale” because it kind of looks like dinosaur skin. As far as flavor goes, it has a bit more of a milder, more delicate flavor than curly kale. Here is a picture so you know what I am talking about and can find it in the store:

Lacinato Kale

Lacinato Kale

Ok so what you need:

1 bunch of lacinato kale

olive oil

salt

pepper

garlic powder

That’s it. 

Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees. (The idea is to cook the kale low & slow which dries it out PERFECTLY!)

Line 2 sheet trays with tin foil & set aside.

Untie your kale bunch and separate the leaves from the thick stem in the middle, leaving them as long halves. You can cut them away or just run your pointer and middle finger down either side and tear them away. They don’t have to be perfect. As the stem gets closer to the broad top of the leaf it gets softer, so some leaves may be small enough where you can just leave the leaf whole and cut the thick end of the stem off. Put them in a colander and wash the leaves, then run them through a salad spinner to dry them well. You want them to be nice and dry which will help them crisp up nicely.

(side note: after you wash your leaves rinse the left over stems in the colander and then throw them in a freezer bag to freeze. Save all your veggie scraps throughout the week like this, then when you have a couple bags full toss all the scraps into a crock pot with some garlic cloves and bay leaves, cover with water and simmer all day to make your own veggie stock. Strain and store broth in the freezer and/or fridge! I never spend my $$$ on veggie broth anymore.)

Separate the leaves into 2 equal bunches on each sheet, drizzle each bunch with a small amount of olive oil, then salt, pepper & garlic powder all to taste. Toss with your fingers to coat evenly, then arrange the leaves on the tray so there is as little over lap as possible.

Stick the trays in the oven and bake for 75 – 90 minutes until the leaves are perfectly crisp.

voilà!

voilà!

I have to say that while my husband and I were filling up on a veggie soup, my parents and brother were eating hamburgers and I suggested putting the crunchy kale on their burgers, and they loved it!! So — for all you meat eaters out there, you can make these next time you make your burgers as a light side or burger topper too!

Kale, a veggie that can be loved by all. 😉

Enjoy!!!!

A (Perfect) Very Veggie Thanksgiving.

Since I have eliminated meat from my diet, holidays have always been a bit tricky. I mean, Thanksgiving pretty much revolves around the turkey in my family…you know, after the antipasto course, then that lasagna or manicotti, and then finally after the turkey soup. Meat and dairy overload. I decided right away to make myself something delicious and vegan to bring to my parents or my in laws, so that way 1. the expectation is not on them to make me something tasty, and 2. I wouldn’t look at my plate and think it was completely lame and feel left out.

Year number one of being a vegan on thanksgiving I made one of my favorite vegan recipes that I even make on non-holidays. It also happens to be on one of my favorite blogs: Oh She Glows (Vegan Recipes by Angela Liddon)!! The recipe is Glazed Lentil Walnut Apple Loaf. If Thanksgiving was a loaf, this would be it. 😉 My meat eating family enjoyed this also.

so yum

so yum!

Last year I was pregnant and saw an instagram post from nom yourself (Which, by the way, go follow her is you have not already. Your mouth will water all day long and you’ll be so inspired by her vegan creativity! @nomyourself) that featured Gardein Turk’y Cutlets and it looked so dang good that I decided then and there that’s what I’m making myself for Thanksgiving this year. It was perfect & even came with it’s own gravy. I loved stacking my bites…turk’y, gravy, potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce. Not home made, but still an enjoyable option.

Simple, easy, tasty.

Simple, easy, tasty.

This is year 3 of a meatless Thanksgiving for me, and as soon as I saw this recipe I KNEW it was this year’s winner. A new blog I came across this year, and another favorite of mine, 86 Lemons, featured this recipe recently: Stuffed Squash with Cherry Apple Almond Couscous. I love the combination of cherry and almond, how the dijon really brings all the flavors together, and that this recipe uses couscous. You also really can’t go wrong with a stuffed squash on Thanksgiving! Can’t wait to share this one with my family this year.

Amazing flavors!

Amazing flavors!

These are just 3 options, out of SOOOOO many!!!

Here is a link for 37 vegetarian recipes if you are still looking for more.

Here is an amazing post from Oh She Glows giving tons of vegan options.

I also have a yummy soup and puree featuring a classic Thanksgiving veggie, parsnips.

About 4-5 years back I started a tradition of making a pumpkin trifle for Thanksgiving. It was such a hit, it is requested by multiple people every year. Last year I finally made a home made vegan version and I plan on making it this Monday for a Friendsgiving party we are attending. I am also going to do it refined sugar free this year and will definitely be posting the outcome!!!

Hope you all have a wonderful, thankful, blessed holiday, and that your hearts, as well as your plates, will be full!

A Weekend of Fall Flavored Brilliance.

This weekend I had two brilliant food ideas that utilized more fall festive food items I had stocked in the kitchen.

One: Dinner Friday night.

As you may remember, my husband is kind of obsessed with parsnips. I had pumpkin on hand and had been wanting to use it in a savory dish…so, I guess you could say lightning struck my brain and it hit me…pumpkin parsnip puree. This was the whole dish:

pumpkin parsnip dinner

Coconut milk infused rice, topped with caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms and spinach, and of course the crowning glory – pumpkin parsnip puree.

A few people have asked me for a recipe, so I decided to blog it! Ok, so listen…I’m kind of the queen of just winging it in the kitchen when I am getting creative and don’t always measure; I eyeball and taste, eyeball and taste. BUT I have a pretty good idea of what I did here and did my very best with a recipe. It’s so yummy!

Ingredients:

For the rice:

approx. 1 Tbsp butter (I use organic earth balance buttery spread – coconut or canola oil would work too.)

2 cups dried brown rice

1 can lite coconut milk (full fat is fine if you desire or only have it on hand)

2 cups water

1 tsp salt

3 dried bay leaves

For the puree:

5-6 parsnips (I used one whole bag from Trader Joes.)

1 cup + 2 Tbsp plain pumpkin puree (Trader Joes organic is my fave.)

2 Tbsp plain non dairy milk

1/2 – 1 tsp sea salt (start with 1/2 tsp, you can always add more)

3-4 grinds of fresh ground black pepper

1/2 tsp dried thyme (pinch it between your fingers to release more flavor before adding it!)

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 Tbsp maple syrup

For the veggies:

1/2 one large white onion, thinly sliced

8 oz package of white button mushrooms, sliced (baby bellas would work too)

2/3 of a 6 oz package of fresh baby spinach (about 3-4 cups I’d say) (frozen would work if you let it thaw completely then squeeze out extra liquid, then use 1.5-2 cups)

1 clove of garlic, minced

1/2 tsp salt

fresh ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

First start the rice. Heat a medium sized pot over medium high heat and throw in the butter and rice. Stir it around to melt the butter and lightly toast the rice for 3-5 min. Add in the coconut milk, water, salt and bay leaf, cover and turn the heat up to high. Once its boiling turn the heat down to low until the water is absorbed. (Follow the cooking directions on the rice you have. If it calls for a higher ratio of liquid just add more water.)

While the rice is cooking add another medium sized pot to the stove filled half way with water. Add a pinch of salt, cover and turn the heat on high. Once the water is boiling add the peeled and diced parsnips. I let them boil for a few minutes then turn the heat down slightly to cook until they are fork tender (about 10 min or so).

While the rice and parsnips are cooking work on the veggies. Heat a cast iron skillet (or large skillet) over medium-medium high heat and pour in canola oil. Add the sliced onion and mushrooms to the skillet. You want the onions to caramelize and the mushrooms to brown a bit so do not add any salt yet. That will cause the veggies to release liquid and they won’t brown. So, give the onions and mushrooms a good 10 minutes or so until they get soft and get some color. Then add the garlic and the salt & pepper. If they seem to stick to the pan or the garlic starts to brown add a splash of water. Once the garlic has cooked for 30-60 seconds add the spinach and stir to incorporate. Let it cook until the spinach has wilted. Turn heat to low, drizzle with truffle oil, stir and let sit until ready to serve.

At this point your parsnips should be done, and your rice should be close to done, if not done. Drain parsnips and add them to a mixing bowl. Add the pumpkin and milk and mix with and electric mixer to combine and create a smooth mixer. Then, add remaining ingredients and mix again to combine. (A food processor would work great too, I may try that next time!)

When rice is done remove from heat, remove the bay leaves and fluff it with a fork.

To serve spoon some rice onto the plate, top with the veggies. I scooped the puree into a plastic baggy, snipped the end off and piped it around the rice and veggies! All of the components tasted so yummy on there own, but they were THE PERFECT combination for stacking bites. A little rice, a little veggies, a little puree. Serious perfection. The flavors went so well together!

Saturday morning is when brilliant idea #2 struck me: Coffee. I have been less than impressed with the coffee I bought on sale at the grocery store recently; so I thought, how could I jazz up the flavor of my coffee???

gb spice tea

Make use of this delightful seasonal gingerbread spice tea!!! I prepped my coffee maker to make a 4 cup pot of coffee, then cut open 2 of these tea bags and added it to the grounds, along with just a drop of vanilla extract. Honestly guys, the flavor rivaled that of any Starbucks seasonal beverage! SO good. It’s my new morning beverage addiction.

So there you have it. A weekend of fall flavored brilliance.

Coming up I am going to be posting about what vegans/vegetarians eat on Thanksgiving! It’s not all about the turkey! 😉 What are your favorite Thanksgiving recipes??

Creamy Parsnip & Sweet Potato Soup

Ah, mondays. Maybe one day I will learn to love you.

One thing I do love is a good fair on a beautiful fall day, and this past Saturday our little family had fun at one of the most popular fairs in CT (if not the most popular), the Durham Fair.

There was cuteness overload, as well as indulgence in fair food. Raised donut, yes. Bloomin’ onion, yes. Falafel gyro, you bet. Massive roast beef sandwich, definitely (all joe on that one lol).

fair2  fair5

fair3

Needless to say, I was thankful on Sunday for the tasty & nutritious homemade soup I had leftover, inspired by one of Joe’s favorite vegetables: Parsnips. During the week we were in a local market and he spotted some and said, “You have to come up with a recipe for parsnips…” Well, that I did.

The flavors of parsnips and sweet potato make it buttery and sweet; its warm from the perfect amount of cinnamon and spices, and nice and creamy from a silky cashew cream that I could have eaten all by itself!

Here is the recipe:

{For the cashew cream}

Ingredients:

1 c raw cashews

2 cups of water

1/2 c non-dairy milk (I used plain unsweetened almond milk) (veggie broth could also work here)

Directions:

Combine cashews and water and soak for at least an hr or up to overnight. Drain the cashews and add to a blender with the milk or broth. Blend until smooth and creamy. Set aside.

{For the soup}

Ingredients:

1-2 Tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, diced

2 carrots, diced

2 celery sticks, diced

pinch of salt

1 & 1/2 tsp cinnamon

3/4 tsp nutmeg

5 leaves of fresh sage, minced (or 1/2 tsp of dried sage)

2 tsp salt (I used kosher, but sea salt would be fine.)

fresh ground pepper to taste

1 Tbsp coconut sugar (You could also use brown sugar or agave; I like coconut sugar because it is unrefined.)

6 c veggie broth

6 small sweet potatoes, peeled & cubed (Trader Joes bag of organic sweet potatoes tend to have small potatoes, about the size of my fist or a little bigger. If you have larger or average size ones use 3-4.)

3 parsnips, peeled & cubed

Directions:

Drizzle the bottom of the pan with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add in the onion, carrots, celery and pinch of salt & stir. Allow the veggies to cook for 5-6 min. While they are cooking combine all the spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, sage, salt, pepper) in a separate small bowl. Add all the spices and allow to cook for 2 more minutes. Stir in the veggie broth and coconut sugar, then add the sweet potatoes and parsnips. Bring it up to a boil then lower heat, cover & simmer for 15 minutes, until the potatoes and parsnips are soft. Remove the lid and remove the pot from the heat.

Now the fun part… 🙂

Blend all the contents in the pot with an immersion blender – start on low then move to high. If you don’t have one you can use a regular blender, but always be careful putting hot liquid into a blender. Do a little at a time and I allow the steam to escape! Add the delicious cashew cream and blend some more until it is all incorporated and smooth! If you used a blender add some of the cashew cream to each batch, or you could try whisking it in later.

And thats it! Super easy!

Ladle into bowls and garnish with a couple sage leaves….fancy!

parspotsoup

In response to this soup my husband sang the following little song:

“Soup you’re amazing just the way you are

And when you simmer, you make the whole family come for dinner

Soup you’re amazing just the way you are.”

Maybe if you make it, your spouse or significant other will start singing its praises to the tune of recent chart topper also…orrrr maybe that’s just mine?! 😉

Hope you all had a great weekend and good start to your week!

Quick Fall Recipe: Amazing {& Healthy} Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Over the past couple of September weeks the weather has definitely transitioned. The sun is still shining strong, but it seems like over night we went from the hot summer air that hugs your skin to the cool crisp breeze that is such a sweet compliment to warm rays.

Well, what welcomes fall better than pumpkin?? Not much. Even Starbucks boasted that they brought back the adored Pumpkin Spice Latte early this year! So, this morning I had a craving and was inspired to make a pumpkin pie smoothie. AND let me tell you it was AMAZING. I thought, “This is the perfect thing to put up on the blog this morning!!”

Ingredients:

2 frozen bananas

1/4 c of pumpkin puree

2 & 1/2 c unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)

1 Tbsp coconut sugar

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

Blend until smooth and enjoy!

(makes 2 large smoothies)

photo-3photo-2

Give it a try! Hope you enjoy it as much as my hubby and I did this morning!

Escarole (Pronounced “Shkodole”, FYI) & Beans Inpsired Soup.

Let’s just start off with the very predictable comment on this weekends weather… oh. my. gosh. SNOW. More snow than I have ever cared to see at one time. But, I will say that seeing my busy city neighborhood completely quiet and shut down was pretty nice.

Thankfully we live on a main road that that lies perpendicular to two other main roads. Our friends Kiki & Cheech live on a one way on the street that is parallel and directly behind ours. That street does not get paved.  A bunch of our awesome friends cleared a path to their car, and through the street because Kiki is getting sort of close to the due date of their second kid; a boy. He and Jackson are gonna be buds.

Anyways, Saturday night  we were fortunate enough to be able to walk around the corner, and through that path they worked so hard to clear, and have quality time with some of our best friends! As Joe and I were making the familiar stroll down familiar streets, I couldn’t help but realize it was a completely different experience. No traffic. No noise. It was so still. Looking to the left down the long stretch of road that borders our street I could see two more people walking in the distance in the middle of the road. To the right there was a man walking along on his way. It made me wonder what life would be like if it was always like this. What if there weren’t so many cars that rushed by or crowded streets? What if we all had to walk every where we went? Was this what is was like back in the day? What would life be like? I liked the thought of it honestly. I guess it was just a really great change of pace in that moment.

Out of my head and back to reality we arrived safely and spent the evening communing, eating, and playing a game that is kind of like a cross between Catchphrase and Charades. It was amazing fun. We had so much fun that we went back Sunday morning to share breakfast, worship, and listen to a recorded sermon by our friend and lead pastor Justin Kendrick. It was City Church‘s first ever “Church on the Couch” since service was cancelled due to the weather. Nothing better than sharing a meal and having church in the living room with your closest friends. Pretty close to how the New Testament church did it! I must also add that one of my friends is gluten free, so for breakfast I made the best ever blueberry muffins  sans gluten by subbing oat flour for the wheat flour and they were a hit. Still completely amazing and the best ever vegan gluten free blueberry muffins.

Along with all of that was lots and lots and lots and LOTS of shoveling. I am happy to be pregnant, but am even more happy that I am pregnant because of the fact that I did not have to shovel. HA! Is that selfish? 😉 Man my friends and husband worked their butts off. The hubs didn’t go into work today, and yet more work had to be done un-burying  my car and our friends Teresa’s car that were parked at the top of our driveway. I thought it would be the perfect day to make a comforting pot of hot soup. I could not help but think of one my cute Italian grandma and mom prepared, and still prepare, often as I was growing up: escarole and beans. Only 1. I’ve never made it before. 2. I didn’t have escarole. 3. If I had escarole I wouldn’t want to clean it. One day I will actually make escarole and beans, but today I made a soup inspired by the idea of greens and beans. 🙂 (Is it just me or is it fun to say “shkodole”?! It just sounds better that way. If you don’t say it that way, you should.)

Ingredients

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 1/2 c soy chorizo (You could use any of your favorite soy sausage, crumbled, or even crumbled tempeh if you prefer.)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
6 c veggie broth (I used low sodium.)
2 15 oz cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 c packed kale, chiffonade (rolled up and sliced thin) (You could use any green of choice really: spinach, swiss chard, a combo, etc.)
1/2 c fresh basil, chopped
1 tsp sea salt (If using a higher sodium broth you may want to start with 1/2 tsp and add more if needed.)
fresh ground black pepper

Directions

Heat a large pot on medium heat. Drizzle oil, add onions and pinch of salt.
Once the onions begin to brown and turn translucent add the chorizo. Sautée until browned, about 5-6 minutes, then add the garlic. Sautée for another minute then add salt, pepper & veggie broth.
Cover, turn up heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling remove lid, reduce heat to a simmer and add in the beans.
Let the beans cook for 3 minutes then add in the kale or greens of choice. Once they have wilted stir in the basil.
Turn off the heat, cover and let the flavors meld for 10-15 minuted before serving. Unless you are ravenous, then eat it right away. 😉 Serve over quinoa, pastina, orzo, or some crusty bread.

Note: I used a spicy chorizo, but if you are not using a spicy protein you can add some crushed red pepper for a nice kick and added flavor.

Now I am going to enjoy the rest of this quiet rainy snow day with my hubby before it is somewhat back to the hustle and bustle tomorrow.

How are you all holding up after Nemo?? Any comfort food that’s been getting you through?

Reason # 874382 It’s Easy Being Vegan…”Best Ever {Vegan} Blueberry Muffins”.

One of my favorite things to do is recreate yummy looking recipes to become its vegan counterpart.

It is my opinion that, if you give it the good old college try, you can be pleasantly surprised at how great things turn out vegan.

I am always up for that!

So, naturally, when I cam across a recipe for the most delicious home made blueberry muffins I had ever seen, but discovered they were loaded with butter (and a bit too much sugar for my liking), I set out to make them vegan. (Also, let’s face it; vegan or not, the general public in the U.S. could stand to live with less dairy & sugar in their diet.)

Outcome: I was not disappointed.

Complete. Deliciousness.

Best Ever Vegan Blueberry Muffins

recipe source: Adapted from A Cook’s Quest, “The Best Ever Blueberry Muffins“.

Streusel Topping

2 T white sugar
2 T brown sugar
1/3 cup oat flour flour (Grind old fashioned oats in a food processor or spice mill.)
2 Tbsp of whole old fashioned oats
Zest from one lemon
5 T melted coconut oil

Muffins
2 cups fresh blueberries (or frozen, thawed & drained)
3/4 cup + 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon water
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (to make gluten free sub oat flour. You can make your own by grinding up 2 1/2 c of gluten free oats in a food processor or spice/coffee grinder.)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
2 flax eggs (2 Tbsp flax meal mixed with 6 Tbsp of water)
4 tablespoons vegan butter (such as Earth Balance), melted (You can also use coconut oil here. note: If/when adding the melted coconut oil to the recipe it may begin to solidify, which is no big deal really, but just work quickly.)
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 cup vegan buttermilk (1 cup of unsweetened almond or soy milk + 1 Tbsp of white or apple cider vinegar, whisked together til foamy.)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions
Mix streusel ingredients together with a fork until combined & set aside.Adjust oven rack to position and heat oven to 425 degrees.

Prepare standard muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray, liners, or if you are like me, make shift liners made out of parchment paper.

Prepare your flax eggs & set aside to thicken. Prepare buttermilk mixture & set aside.

Bring 1 cup blueberries, 1 Tbsp water,  and 1 tsp sugar to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, mashing the berries with your potato masher or fork several times and stirring frequently, until berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced by about half.  This will take about 6 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.

In a large bowl whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together. In a separate medium bowl whisk remaining 3/4 c sugar, agave and eggs together in medium bowl until thick and well combined. Slowly mix in melted butter and oil until combined. Whisk in buttermilk and vanilla. Using rubber spatula, fold egg mixture and remaining 1 c blueberries into flour mixture until just moistened. (Batter will be lumpy; do not over mix.)

Using a scoop (I used and ice cream scoop) or large spoon, divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups. Completely fill each cup. Spoon teaspoon of cooked berry mixture into center of each mound of batter. Gently swirl berry filling into batter using figure-eight motion. Sprinkle streusel evenly over muffins.

Bake until muffin tops are golden and just firm, 17 to 19 minutes. Cool muffins in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool 5 minutes before serving.

I got 12 muffins out of this recipe.
My husbands response: "Eat your heart out McDonalds! I'll take a muffin from foodformyhouse any day..." #win

My husbands response: “Eat your heart out McDonalds! I’ll take a muffin from foodformyhouse any day…” #win

I am going to try it with strawberries next I think! You can use this recipe as a base & use any fruit you like.

Other Nutritional Info…for all the food & nutrition education junkies:

You may notice I cut some some of the sugar & substituted it with agave. Agave is a natural sweetener with a low glycemic index. According to a comparison of agave vs. granulated sugar, white sugar has a glycemic index in the high 60’s, but agave generally scored under 30. It does have calories, but it is low-carb compared to regular sugar, which is why it is a good alternative for diabetics; it does not spike the blood sugar quickly. Also, agave is plant based & completely vegan. Some granulated sugars are filtered using animal bone char. For this recipe the granulated sugar I used was Bob’s Red Mill Evaporated Cane Juice Sugar. It contains more of the natural nutrients found in sugar cane than refined or processed sugars.

Familiar with Dr. Oz? He is pretty popular nowadays. His website provides a detailed explanation of the health benefits of coconut oil. I will let you read up on that on your own!

One of my friend Alayna‘s favorite desserts are home made lemon bars, which apparently would be really hard to make vegan. This just may be my next attempt! Anybody ever done it before??

Vegan Chocolate Chip “Oreo” Brownie Bars with a Holiday Twist!

My husband had his company Christmas party tonight, to which they do not invite spouses. hmph! LAME.

Anyway, I was sitting here, alone, eating some ginger snaps with almond milk & realized it’s been over a month since I’ve posted! (How does that happen?!)  AND that I promised an amazing veganized recipe for chocolate chip oreo brownie bars that can easily be made with a holiday twist!

I am definitely in the Christmas spirit since we put our cute little tree up a couple weeks ago, and went into NYC this past weekend to see the tree in Rockefeller Center, as well as eat lunch at Serendipity and stroll through both Central & Bryant Park.

Hubby at Serendipity

Hubby at Serendipity

Us at the tree in NYC...

Us at the tree in NYC…

I personally like our tree better. :)

I personally like our tree better. 🙂

Back to the baked goods…

I for one love new dessert recipes, as well as switching it up during the holidays from the typical cookie or pie that usually appears on the table.

I found the original recipe for the goodies to follow from Kevin & Amanda, then made the appropriate changes to make it vegan, and maybe a liiiiiitle bit healthier.

Holiday Chocolate Chip “Oreo” Brownie Bars

First off, preheat oven to 350 degrees. And let me just say right off that it may seem like a lot to make brownie & chocolate chip cookie batter for 1 dish, but it’s super easy, goes super fast & is totally worth it! Now go for it & let everyone tell you how amazing you are.

For the Brownies: (altered from here.)

Ingredients:

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1.5 cups sugar (I use raw (turbinado) sugar pulsed in a spice mill to make it finer)

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 cup water

1 cup unsweetened apple sauce

1 Tbsp canola oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder & salt. Add in the water, apple sauce, oil, & vanilla, then mix until well combined. Set aside & prepare chocolate cookie batter.

For the Chocolate Chip Cookies: (altered from here.)

Ingredients:

2 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 cup vegan margarine at room temp. (Earth Balance has a variety using veggie, soy or coconut oils)

1/2 cup organic brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar (again, I use raw sugar pulsed in spice mill)

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup mashed banana

12 oz dairy free chocolate chip (I use Trader Joes brand usually)

Directions:

Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda in a large bowl and set aside.

In a separate large bowl, beat together the margarine, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla and banana. Add the dry ingredients to this and stir until combined well.

Stir in the chocolate chips.

Holiday Twist!

Heck yes.

Heck yes.

OK – To Assemble:

Line a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper and press the chocolate chip cookie dough into the pan to form the bottom layer.

Next, place the Candy Cane Joe Joe’s in rows over the chocolate chip cookie dough. You should get 4 rows of about 7 cookies.

Finally pour the brownie batter over the whole thing.

Cover the pan with tin foil & bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil & then bake for 15-25 minutes more until fully cooked. You do want it to be nice & fudgey though!

Let them cool before cutting so it sets nicely & enjoy.

so. stinkin. tasty.

so. stinkin. tasty.

I am sure that your family & friends will LOVE this & you even more for making it!

Tomorrow is ultrasound day to reveal the gender of our little one, but we are going to have the tech put it in an envelope & open it on Christmas morning for memorable Christmas surprise. I have a fun plan to reveal the gender to our families that day and will be sure to share it with you all.

Hope you take time to enjoy this season amidst all the holiday preparations!!

Forever & a Day.

That’s how long it seems to have been since I have posted!

So, today I am going to fill you in on some important news AND update you all on what’s been filling this past week with amazingness.

Well, to start… … …

I am 3 months pregnant!! 🙂 Baby Jacobs is expected to enter this world on May 6th & we could not be more thrilled! You may have seen a picture on instagram or twitter (follow me at @foodformyhouse), but here is the little cutie at 10 weeks.

Our sweet little guy or girl.

This week started off with some Fall fun at Bishops Orchard in Guilford, CT. We had our annual pumpkin picking and carving day with some very good friends of ours. Here are our creations all lit up:

Joe did the Giants logo & I did a baby sucking it’s thumb. So fitting.

My vegetarian friend Cory found this picture this week which I got a kick out of & thought I’d share it with you all. I’m thinking about framing it & putting it my kitchen or something.

Onto FOOD.

NEW. FAVORITE. RECIPE. I am not a huge chinese food fan, but lately I have had some cravings for it. Sooooo, I did what I do & found a vegan recipe for orange “chicken”. It is made with battered & friend seitan. Omg. Make this. Please. And never get take out again. I don’t know where you’re from, but CT does not have a good reputation in the Chinese restaurant department.

mmm mmm good.

What is Fall with out all things pumpkin & delicious warm beverages???

I love love love love LOVE Sarah Matheny’s blog, “Peas and Thank You” and her fantastic recipes. They are a staple in my kitchen. This week I tried her pumpkin pie ice cream sandwiches, and, as usual, was not disappointed. Give ’em a try!

Pumpkin Pie in frozen form. And vegan. And much healthier.

Hot Chocolate. I haven’t been drinking coffee since I’ve been pregnant and this so hits the spot. It’s my own recipe of 1.5 c of almond milk (or any non-dairy milk), 2 Tbsp of unsweetened cocoa powder & 2 Tbsp of agave. If you like cinnamon add a couple dashes. Wisk on medium heat until hot and serve. Perfection.

Another thing I will never buy packaged again.

Food for the soul. Just as important as food for the body. I have had my nose in Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman for this entire month…pretty much since it came in the mail from Amazon. Life. Giving.

So good.

So that’s that. What’s been going on in your life? New recipes, exciting news, awesome finds you don’t know how you lived without?!?

Stay tuned because soon to come is my vegan version of a chocolate chip oreo fudge brownie concoction that you will want to try for yourself!!!