Monthly Archives: January 2014

Peanut Butter Bean Bars

The second I saw these blondies I had to make them. Then I reminded myself that all thing in moderation and I decided to wait a few weeks. Well worth the wait. These dense, delicious treats taste nothing like beans and completely like peanut butter cookies. This is the perfect way to sneak in extra fiber and nutrition while also cutting out unnecessary starch. You’re family will never guess these are grain-free.


Delicious Peanut Butter Bean Bars
Adapted from Ambitious Kitchen’s Flour-less Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies


  • 1 (15oz) can garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas), drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 ts baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup chopped nuts*
    the original recipe called for chocolate chips but I wanted something less sweet. You can use anything here, or omit this all together. 


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a small square baking pan (8″ x 8″) with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a food processor, chop the nuts if they are not yet chopped. Remove and set aside.
  3. Spray the food processor with cooking spray (lightly). Add the remaining ingredients to the food processor and process on high  until the batter is smooth (this took about 5 minutes).
  4. Add nuts and fold in with a spatula.
  5. Spread mixture into the baking pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned and pull from the sides.
  6. Cool in the pan completely. Cut into 12 squares. Enjoy!

Note: if you want to make edible cookie dough or cookie dough dip, stop after step 4. The dough is completely safe to eat at this point. Perfect for pregnant moms-to-be who miss their raw cookie dough 🙂

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Posted by on January 21, 2014 in Nutrition


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Smokey Sweet Potato Burgers

photo 1While I have taken a new liking to beef (poor J wouldn’t fare well eating an entire 1/2 a cow by himself), I still really love veggie burger. We had a few sweet potatoes on the counter that I was planning to into wedges and eat as a side, I stumbled across this recipe and my plans quickly changed. A smokey sweet potato veggie burger made with a few simple ingredients I had on hand – why yes, I will put on my grown-up cooking pants and actually make a dish instead of just throwing together the simplest thing I can think of (and this was pretty simple…I can’t take too much credit).

The original recipe (as with all veggie burger recipes) said to cook it in a pan. I don’t know about you, but I have never had luck with this. They always break into a bunch of pieces or stick to the pan. They never turn out like they look in the picture. For that reason, I opted to bake these in the oven instead. I am very happy I did because they turned out great and kept their shape.

Sweet potatoes and beans are both starchy, so the idea of putting it on a burger bun, no matter how healthy, wasn’t really of interest to me. Instead, I topped with with some mozzarella and served it over a bed of spinach with hot, sautéed veggies, pepitas (fancy word for pumpkin seed), and balsamic vinegar.

Smokey Sweet Potato Burgers
adapted from a recipe by How Sweet it is


  • 2 cups cooked sweet potatoes with skins removed (I used 3 small potatoes)
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (any white bean should work)
  • 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup flour (any kind that suits you)
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 clove of roasted garlic, minced (maybe 1-2 tsp dried)
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • cooking spray


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line  baking sheet with foil and spray generously with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Place the sweet potatoes and beans in a large bowl. Mash up with a potato masher (Don’t use a food processor because the mixture will become too sticky – think hummus).
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and mash together. Mix well.
  4. Place in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to firm up.
  5. Remove from refrigerator and begin making patties. Have some extra flour ready to make this process less sticky. Place your hands in the flour and then grab a small handful of the mixture. Form into a patty and place on the prepared pan. Dip you hands in the flour each time before you make a new patty.
  6. Once all of the patties are prepared, spray them on top with cooking spray and place in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove and flip with a spatula. Spray the tops again and return to the over for 15 minutes. Remove and flip. If they seem sturdy enough, they are done. If they still seem like they could easily break or are soft in the middle, spray again and cook for an extra 10 minutes. Continue to flip and check until they seem to be cooked all the way through.
  7. Serve on a bun, over greens, or alone with freshly sautéed vegetables. Enjoy!


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Posted by on January 7, 2014 in Nutrition


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Christmas Candy

This is a month too late, but better late then never, right? This year was the year of candy. I bet I had at least 20 pounds of candy in my freezer at one point. I spent 2 days making candy with a friend and then with my family.

Conversions can be tricky when dealing with candy making. Here are a few tips:

  • Peanut Butter: 8 oz =  1 cup
  • Butter: 1 stick = 1/2 cup
  • Chocolate: 1 pound = 4 cups
  • Granulated sugar: 1/2 pound = 1 cup
  • Powdered Sugar: 1/4 pound = 1 cup

Here are some of the recipes we used:

Tiger Bark by Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures


  • 1 pound white chocolate, cut into pieces or use white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup Peanut Butter
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate
  • 4 teaspoons half-and-half cream (I don’t use this I just melt the choc. by itself)


  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, white chocolate and peanut butter on medium for 2-3 minutes or until melted; mix well.
  2. Pour onto a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray and spread into a thin layer.
  3. In another microwave-safe bowl, heat dark chocolate and cream on high for about 30 seconds or more or until chips are soft; stir until smooth.
  4. Pour and swirl over peanut butter layer. Freeze for 5 minutes or until set. Break into small pieces. Yield: about 1-1/2 pounds.


Chocolate-Caramel Pecan Clusters by Martha Stewart


  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 12 soft caramel candy cubes
  • 1.5 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, broken into 12 pieces (ideally 70% coca)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange pecans in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet; toast in oven until fragrant, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven (leave oven on). If desired, set aside 36 pecans on baking sheet and then finely chop the remaining pecans for a decorative topping.
  2. When pecans are cool enough to handle, make 12 clusters by arranging 2 pecans vertically, side by side, below 1 pecan placed horizontally. Gently flatten each caramel; place 1 on top of each cluster. Bake clusters 5 minutes. Remove from oven (leave oven on).
  3. Place 1 piece of chocolate on top of each cluster. Return to oven; bake until chocolate begins to melt, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from oven.With the back of a spoon, gently spread chocolate over caramel without completely covering it.
  4. Sprinkle clusters with reserved chopped pecans. Refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes. Bring to room temperature before serving.


Peanut Butter Balls by


  • 2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup butter (softened)
  • 3.75 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 cup crushed crisp rice cereal (use a food processor)
  • 1 pound dark chocolate


  1. Line a baking sheet with foil, wax paper, or parchment paper. Mix peanut butter and butter together in a stand mixer. Add powdered sugar and crushed cereal. Once combied, roll mixture into balls.
  2. Melt chocolate. Drop balls into chocolate and remove with a toothpick. Place on prepared pan and let cool.


Homemade Mounds Bars by Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures


  • Two 14-oz bags of coconut (unsweetened is ideal but hard to find)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 pound powdered sugar
  • 1 pound dark chocolate
  • 2 tsp butter,


  1. In a stand mixer, add coconut, milk, 1/2 cup butter, and powdered sugar. Mix well.
  2. Spread mixture onto a cookie sheet lined with wax or parchment paper. Refrigerate for 2 hour (or put in the garage if you live in WI).
  3. Melt 1/2 pound of chocolate and 1 tsp butter. If doing this in the microwave stir every 30 sec to prevent burning. Spread over chilled coconut mixture. Chill until chocolate is set.
  4. Flip bars over and peel off parchment paper. Melt remaining chocolate and butter and spread over the coconut later. Chill. Once firm, cut into squares. They may be easier to cut at room temp since frozen chocolate can be tough.


Chocolate Angel Food Candy by taste of home


  • 1 tsp butter or cooking spray
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup (I only had light and it worked fine)
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 1 pound dark chocolate
  • 1 tsp shortening


  1. Line  9″ baking an with foil and grease with butter or spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, combined sugar, corn syrup, and vinegar. Cook and stir over medium heat until the thermometer reads 300F (hard crack stage).
  3. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. Immediately pour into the pan. Do not spread candy. It will foam up very high and may spill over a bit.
  4. Cool . Use foil to life candy out f pan. Gently peel back foil and break candy into pieces. Make 2 piles – large candy pieces and remaining crumbs/small pieces.
  5. Prepare 2 cookie sheets with parchment or wax paper. Melt chocolate with 1 tsp butter. Dip large pieces in chocolate  and then set onto the prepared pan. Let cool completely.
  6. Stir the remaining crumbs/small pieces into the remaining chocolate. Pour mixture onto the other cookie sheet. You can pour it as one large piece that you will cut up later or scoop it out into cluster-size pieces.


Peppermint Patties by Blue-eyed Bakers
*our patties didn’t turn out all that great. I am not sure what went wrong. I did use some granulated sugar, which made them gritty – bad idea. I also must have added too much corn syrup because the mixture was very sticky. I was wondering if I could add some oat flour to the picture when it was too sticky or to cut the sweetness. If I do this in the future, I’ll post an update.


  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate
  • 1/4 cup peppermint candies, crushed


  1. Beat 2 1/4 cups of confectioners sugar together with corn syrup, water, peppermint extract and butter until just combined in a large stand mixer with paddle.  The mixture will be very crumbly.
  2. Dust a work surface with remaining 1/4 cup of confectioners sugar.  Empty contents of bowl onto work surface and knead until smooth (this will take a few minutes).  Shape dough into a log, about 2 inches by 8 inches long.  Wrap tightly in parchment paper and freeze until very firm, about 20 minutes.
  3. Remove dough and slice into rounds using a sharp knife.  Place rounds onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and freeze again until firm, for at least 15 minutes.
  4. While dough is chilling, melt chocolate in a microwave safe bowl in 30 second intervals.  Cool slightly.  Chocolate should be warm but not so hot that you cannot put your finger into it.
  5. Cover another baking sheet with parchment paper.  Remove patties from freezer one at a time and submerge into melted chocolate. You can use a toothpick or large spoon to help with this.  Coat quickly and allow excess chocolate to drip off.  Place on parchment paper lined pan and sprinkle with crushed candies.  Repeat, covering all patties with chocolate and candy.
  6. Let patties stand until chocolate is set, about 1 hour.  Store in fridge, between wax paper in an airtight container.  Bring to room temperature before serving.


Trail Mix Bark 
adapted from Bite-Sized Party Bark by Happy Hour Projects


  • 2 tbsp chopped peanuts
  • 2 tbsp raisins
  • 2 tbsp craisins
  • 2 tbsp chopped walnuts
  • 2 tbsp shredded coconut (preferably unsweetened)
  • 1/2 pound white chocolate


  1. Line a cookie sheet with wax or parchment paper.
  2. Mix all of the ingredients except the chocolate together.
  3. Melt the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Stir in the ingredient mixtures from step 2.
  4. Scoop out the mixture into clusters using a large metal spoon that has been sprayed with cooking spray (to prevent sticking). Let cool.


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Posted by on January 6, 2014 in Nutrition


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Butternut Squash and Black Bean Skillet

This was the first meal I made in the new year. Absolutely delicious. I had never thought to mix butternut squash with black beans, let alone put it in an enchilada skillet. Genius. I modified the recipe a bit, so to see the original over at ambitious kitchen, click here. I added ground beef from our cow to make this a little heartier. If you want a vegetarian dish, you can omit it all together (like the original recipe) or substitute TVP or tofu.

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Skillet
adapted from Ambitious Kitchen

photo 1

  • 3 cups 1/2-inch-diced, peeled butternut squash (from about a 2-lb. squash)*
  • Olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 8 ounces of lean ground beef
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/2 jalapeno or equivalent amount of hot peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 – 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup reduced-fat colby jack or mexican cheese (or whatever you prefer), divided
  • cilantro and low-fat sour cream, for serving
  • Round corn tortilla chips, for serving
*To prepare the butternut squash, I think it is easiest to roast it in the oven. I do this every fall with all of my squash and then freeze the cooked squash to use in the winter.  Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. If you want you can peel the squash now, but I prefer to wait until after it is cooked. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise. Remove seeds with a metal spoon (roast them if you want). I always find that the base of the squash cooks faster because of that hole, so I like to cut just above the base. You should now have 4 pieces of squash  – 2 half circles and 2 rectangular pieces. Place squash face down on the pan. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes, or until a fork can easily pierce the fleshy part of the squash (or when you touch the outside skin it feel soft). Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. With a metal spoon, scoop out the base pieces and mash up in a bowl. Freeze this as a paste to use as a pasta sauce or in soup (or just as mashed squash). Peel the rectangular pieces of squash. The skin should come off pretty easily now. Chop the squash into 1/2″ size pieces. I freeze them in quart-size freezer bags.
  1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat in large oven-proof skillet. Add onions, garlic, jalapeno, and ground beef. Cook until beef is browned all the way through. Add in green pepper and cook 2-3 minutes. Add cubed squash, black beans, cumin, and chili powder. Cook, stirring regularly to prevent the squash from becoming mushy. 
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low and sprinkle in 1 cup of cheese. Cover with a lid and let sit for 3-5 minutes, until the cheese is fully melted.
  3. Serve immediately. Top with sour cream and serve with corn tortilla chips.

Posted by on January 3, 2014 in Nutrition


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