Greek Yogurt Banana Nut Muffins 

I know the beginning of the year is usually when the healthy resolutions begin. Gym memberships, healthy eating. Well, we are only a couple days away from the new year, so why not get a little head start on the eating part? 

When my son asked me to make muffins for breakfast, I checked out what I had in the cupboards and fridge and threw this batter together. The result was a golden brown, moist and airy muffin, with lots of banana flavor, not too sweet, and packed with protein from the Greek yogurt.

Greek Yogurt Banana Nut Muffins 

2 bananas, mashed

2 eggs

1 cup plain, nonfat Greek Yogurt 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

1/3 cup sugar

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking sofa

1 teaspoon baking powder 

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

Dash of nutmeg

1/2 cup chopped walnuts 

In a bowl, whisk together bananas, eggs, yogurt, vanilla, and sugar.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg.


Add the dry ingredients into the wet and mix well. Fold in the walnuts.

Scoop the batter into a greased muffin pan. I used coconut oil spray. I also used an ice cream scoop to measure out the batter evenly. I got a dozen good sized muffins this way. 

Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.


Enjoy warm with a nice cup of coffee. 


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Ham and Peppers Egg Casserole

Like I’ve mentioned before, every Christmas for as long as I can remember my mom made a casserole for breakfast. Now that I’m a mom myself, I’ve continued the tradition. 

I tend to change the recipe up year after year, but this year’s was really good! I was so happy with how it turned out!

Ham and Peppers Egg Casserole 

3 whole eggs

6 egg whites

1 cup milk (whole, low fat, half and half… doesn’t matter)

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon chopped chives 

Olive oil 

5 sweet mini Peppers, diced

1 leek, diced white and light green parts

Frozen hash brown potatoes

Diced ham

1 cup shredded cheese 

In a skillet, heat up the oil and sauté the peppers and leeks with a little salt and pepper until soft. Set aside to start cooling slightly. 


In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, milk, chives and a little more salt and pepper. 

In a buttered baking dish, add a layer of hash browns. Top with the ham. I used leftover ham from a dinner we had a couple days before, but you can use any ham. Then top with the sautéed veggies and cheese. I used cheddar, but you can use whatever you want. 


Finally, pour the egg mixture over the top. You can make this the day before and stop here if you want. That way it’s ready to go Christmas morning. Just cover it tightly and store in the fridge.


When you’re ready to bake it, put it in a 375 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes or until eggs are cooked and the top is nice and golden brown. 


Let it sit for a few minutes so the eggs set up a bit. This will make it easier to serve up.


Enjoy! 

Slow-Cooker Ham

Typically, in my family growing up, we only had ham twice a year: Easter and Christmas. My parents would go to the Honey Baked Ham store and pick up their ham. On Christmas or Easter morning, we would put it on the counter and let it come to room temperature and eat it that way. They come fully cooked, so that makes things easier. Throw in some sides and the holiday meal was all set. 

Serving ham at Christmas is a tradition believed to have originated with the Germanic people at a tribute to Freyr, who was the Norse god of harvest and fertility and often associated with boars. In Norse tradition, the sacrifice of the boar had the intent of imploring Freyr to show favor to the new year. The boar was roasted and carried into the banquet hall to music and great fanfare. The tradition may have its origins in Classical Germania, Scandinavia and England, but it has definitely spread worldwide and ham is now a traditional Christmas dish all over the globe.

Back to 2016… I wanted to try something a little different this year, so for our little dinner party we had the other night, I wanted to see what my slow cooker could do. Well, now I’m hooked. This is how I will always make ham! I don’t make it often, but when I do, this is going to my new go-to.

Start with a spiral cut ham. You can easily find these during the holidays at the grocery store. Or you can get them year-round at the Honey Baked Ham store. I’ve never noticed them at the grocery store any other time of year, but then again, I wasn’t looking. Farmer John’s does sell hams all year, but they aren’t spiral cut. I got mine at the happiest grocery store on earth: Trader Joe’s. I know for sure they only have them seasonally.

Anyway, you just need the ham, some Honey Dijon mustard, and brown sugar.

***Apologies in advance for the pictures in this post. I was having lighting issues!!***

Coat the outside of the ham in the Dijon. You can pretty much put on however much mustard you like, there just needs to be at least a light coat for the sugar to stick to. After you’ve applied the mustard, add a pretty thick coat of brown sugar. Again, there’s no measurement here. Just eyeball it and use what you like.



Cook the ham on low for 3-4 hours. The ham is fully cooked already, so you aren’t really “cooking” it necessarily. The end result is a super tender and warm ham with a bit of tang from the mustard and some sweetness from the brown sugar, both flavors compliment the salty ham so well.

And what’s really nice? You get lots of great use out of the leftovers. Stay tuned and I’ll share some ideas with you!



Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Goat Cheese (U.K.)

Hi Readers!! I was going to post this awhile ago, but I’ve been sick all weekend. Ugh. Being sick around the holidays is the worst, right? I’ve had lots of things to do so I’ve been heavily reliant on DayQuil to get me through it all. I finally took yesterday to just sit and do nothing and try for some recovery time! 

During football season, my husband and I have friends over to watch the games. We are all involved in a Fantasy Football league and it’s a lot of fun. This past weekend, we had a little spur of the moment dinner party for some of our friends who watch football with us. I made a slow-cooker ham, which I’ll share later, but for our appetizer, I made these little gems. Before I get into it, I will give you a fair warning: THESE ARE ADDICTIVE!!

Ok, you’ve been warned. 

For my appetizer, I made bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese. It’s OK. I’ll give you a minute to savor those words.

This is an appetizer that originated in 19th Century U.K. and if often known as Devils on Horseback. The dates (or sometimes prunes) are often stuffed with almonds, but can be filled with other things like cheese or mango chutney. The dates are then wrapped in bacon and baked until the bacon is nice and crispy. Devils on Horseback are commonly found at Christmastime, but after trying them, I think I will find any excuse I can think of to make them.

This is a fairly simple appetizer to make and the result is a perfectly sweet/salty/creamy/crispy bite.

Bacon-Wrapped Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates

15 slices of bacon, cut in half crosswise (don’t use thick cut bacon for this) For the kind I bought, it was the full pound.

30 pitted dates

8 oz log of goat cheese

You should be able to buy your dates pitted, if not, you will have to cut a slit down the side and remove the pit yourself. This recipe assumes you have the pre-pitted dates.

Take your date and find the hole in top/slit down the side where the pit was removed. Carefully open the date.

 

Fill the date with goat cheese. I tried a make-shift pastry bag with a ziplock bag, but that didn’t really work. I also tried using a spoon, but that ended up being more messy than I wanted to deal with. Ultimately, I just used my fingers. The goat cheese is pretty crumbly anyway so it worked perfectly.

Put the date back together and wrap it in half a piece of bacon.

 

Place seam-side down on a parchment lined baking sheet. You could also stick a toothpick in it to hold it together, but I didn’t think it was necessary.

Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, then turn on the broiler for another 3-5 minutes, until the bacon is nice and crispy.

Serve hot.

 

I made 30 of these beauties for 5 people and they were gone in a heartbeat!

Shortbread (Scotland)

Believe it or not, this was my first time making shortbread cookies. I’ve made shortbread-like crusts before, but for some reason I’ve never made the actual cookies. I figured it would be really simple. Basic shortbread is made of a whopping three ingredients: 1 part sugar, 2 parts butter, 3 parts flour. You can make additions and adjustments from. How easy is that, right?

My first time making this delectable, buttery cookie absolutely did not go as planned. In fact, it went the opposite. And I was lured into a false sense of security while I was at it. I thought it was going well until the end product came out of the oven in a big ol’ mess. I mean, it still tasted good, but visually? Not so much…

I think I may have put a little too much butter in the dough because the shortbread spread out a lot. I also think I rolled it out a bit too thin. I should have left them on the thicker side so they would have been a bit more biscuit like. As I said, they still tasted good, but they just didn’t come out the way I’d visioned.

Now, a little history:

Shortbread originated in Scotland back in the Medieval times, but the first printed copy of a recipe wasn’t until the early 1700s. It began as more of bread that was twice-baked and coated in sugar and spices until it was hardened into a sweetened biscuit. Eventually, the yeast in the bread was replaced with butter and became closer to what we know it as today. Shortbread was expensive at the time so it was considered a luxury and saved for special occasions such as Christmas and Hogmanay (Scottish New Year’s Eve celebration). Now a days you can get shortbread year-round and all over the world, but it is still very much associated with the holidays.

Even though my didn’t turn out visually like I wanted, I will still share my recipe. I really do think I added too much butter, so I removed the extra half a stick I added at the end, so hopefully that will help. I also made everything in a bowl with a pastry cutter, but I wonder if using a mixer would have been better to incorporate everything a bit more.

Shortbread

½ cup sugar

1 cup butter, cut into pieces

2 cups flour

a splash of vanilla extract

green and red sprinkles

In a bowl, mix together your sugar and flour. Add your butter and vanilla and cut the butter into the flour-sugar mix until it looks like coarse crumbs. Using a stand mixer may make this easier and better combined. I will try that next time.

Dump the dough out onto a surface, add your sprinkles, and begin kneading the dough together. This takes some patience and is a great arm workout.

Once everything is together and formed into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Roll out the disk into a larger piece. I made mine about ½ an inch and I really think I that ended up being way too thin. Aim closer to about an inch thick.

Cut into the shapes you want (small bite-sized squares, longer rectangles, circles, whatever) and put on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake at 325 for about 20 minutes.

Hopefully the minor adjustments I made to the recipe will help the end result, but even if it doesn’t, it still tastes great! Just don’t enter it into a cookie beauty contest!

Veggie-Full Turkey Meatloaf Cups

I always know when my husband gets a certain look on his face after taking a bit of something new I made for him. I know in that first bite that I found a winner of a recipe. That’s what happened with these meatloaf cups.

I know what you’re thinking. Meatloaf? What’s so great about meatloaf? And with turkey? Oh, just wait until you try these. My husband immediately requested they get entered into the regular dinner rotation.

Meatloaf can easily become dried out, especially when it’s made of turkey, but these little cups were so tender and so moist. Totally the opposite of dried out meatloaf. They were full of flavor and healthy veggies, and they were super easy. It’s perfect for a weeknight because when you make them in the little cups, you cut down on the cooking time.

Do you need even more reasons to try these? You can make them ahead of time and they are freezer friendly. Boom. Done. Make them.

Now, for the recipe. This is an adaptation of a Bobby Flay recipe I came across randomly on Food Network.

Veggie-Full Turkey Meatloaf Cups

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 zucchini, diced small

4 or 5 mini sweet peppers, diced small

½ onion, diced small

3 cloves of garlic, minced

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper

1 ½ pounds lean ground turkey

1 egg

2 teaspoons ground thyme

1 cup panko bread crumbs

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

4 oz can of mild green chiles

¾ cup ketchup

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

In a skillet, heat the olive oil. Then saute the zucchini, peppers, garlic, and onion until soft. Add a pinch or so of salt and the red pepper flakes while sauteeing. Remove from the heat and set aside to start to cool slightly.

 

In a bowl, add your turkey, egg, thyme, panko, cheese, chiles, ½ cup of the ketchup, 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, and the sautéed veggies. Add another heavy pinch of salt and some pepper. Mix until all the ingredients are combined evenly.

 

Divide the meat mixture evenly into the cups of a muffin pan. I didn’t spray the cups first and each one came out perfectly fine. You can also make this as a big loaf, but you will need to increase your cooking time to about an hour and fifteen minutes or so.

Once the meat is divided up, brush on a coat of the balsamic glaze, which is just the remaining ¼ cup of ketchup and ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar whisked together.

Bake at 450 for 20-25 minutes. I checked one at 20 minutes to make sure it was done and it was perfect.

 

Let them sit for a few minutes; it will make it easier to take them out of the cups.

 

These reheat really well, so I could easily see making a big batch of these for premade lunches and dinners. You could even make a bunch and freeze them and just pull out however many you need at a time. They are proportioned, which is really nice.

Spritz Cookies (Germany)

I’ve been making spritz cookies with my mom since I was a kid. They are very similar to a shortbread in that they are very butter and a bit on the fragile side.

The name spritz is actually a shortened version of the German word Spritzgebäck. These cookies originated from Germany and Alasace (which the French region right along the German border) and they are very popular at Christmastime. Many families have their own recipes that get passed down from generation to generation.

Spritzen translates to squirt in English, which describes how these cookies are made. The dough is put into a cookie press and then extruded through the holes in the disk that fits into the press. You can also use a pastry bag fitted with various nozzles. The cookie press my mom gave me comes with a variety of designs to make different shaped spritz cookies.

Full disclosure, when I was making this dough, I lost track of how much flour I had put in, so I accidentally added too much. The dough was a bit hard to extrude through the press and didn’t stick to the baking sheet like it was supposed to when I pressed it out, so I had to do it by hand. The dough should be a bit on the sticky side and a rule of thumb to keep in mind is don’t refrigerate the dough before you use it. It should feel a little wetter than most cookie doughs. That’s just been my experience for a better spritz cookie.

The extra flour didn’t hurt the cookie much. It still tasted great and I was able to keep them all together, but it just made everything a little harder to get out of the press. The moral of the story is don’t get distracted while making cookies!

Spritz Cookies

1 ½ sticks of butter, softened

½ cup sugar

1 egg

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon almond extract

2 ¼ cups flour

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

Food coloring (optional)

In a bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg and both extracts. 

In another bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking powder. Mix into the wet ingredients. Add food coloring here if you want. I made snowflakes and Christmas trees, so I just took out half of the plain dough and made the snowflakes and then added green coloring to the other half for the trees.

Put the dough into a cookie press fitted with whatever shape you want.




Press each cookie onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for about 8 minutes.

 

If you don’t have a cookie press, you can use a pastry bag.

I forgot to take a picture of them being pressed onto the baking sheet, but I think you get the idea.