Zucchini Muffins

 

 

gluten-free ~ dairy free ~ refined sugar-free ~ vegan option

I don’t know about ya’ll but back to school pandemonium is still in full swing at my house. A prime example, would be this blog post and how ungodly late I am in posting it. It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is to get of a routine and how fucking hard (pardon my french) it is to get back into one! And again….borrowing from the French…..I say c’est la vie! 

Now, let’s get down to business and talk muffins! More specifically, zucchini muffins! My mom is a master gardener and always has a plethora of zuchinni. And if she lets them go long enough on the vine, they are HUGE! Those are the ones we want to make these muffins. This recipe is so simple that you can make two batches in no time.

The best part about this recipe is that there is no zucchini shredding involved! Just peel off the skin, scoop out the seeds and you are ready to go! I like to make one pan of muffins, which are great for school snacks and two mini loaves to either gift or snack on at the house. This recipe also freezes great so i can pull out as many muffins as I need and keep the rest fresh! Now, go find that monster zuchinni and get to baking! Your kids will love you and you can secretly smirk that they are eating veggies. Enjoy! nom nom

I made a few minor tweeks to a recipe I discovered on  There Is Life After Wheat blog  

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of oil; I like avocado or canola
  • 3 large eggs or flaxseed eggs if making vegan
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  •  3 cups of peeled and largely chopped zucchini
  • 2 cups coconut sugar; or sub 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce for 1 cup of sugar
  • 3 cups gluten-free flour mix; I like Cup4Cup or Bob’s 1:1 GF flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 -3/4 cup of chopped nuts; I like pecans or walnuts (optional)

 

  1. Grease or place muffin liners in tins. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In your blender, add oil, eggs and vanilla and blend until incorporated.
  3. Add in zucchini and blend until completely smooth. You should end up with 4 cups of liquid.
  4. Add in sugar and blend.
  5. Add in remaining ingredients, except the nuts and blend. If you are using nuts, remove the blade and stir them in at this point.
  6. Pour batter into your prepared muffin tins. Bake at 350 for 18-22 minutes.

*If you would rather make mini loaves, bake for 22-28 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

 

Granola Bars

gluten-free ~ dairy free ~ refined sugar-free

Prep time: 5 minutes

Total time: 80 minutes

It’s that time of year ya’ll….Back. To. School. And if you are anything like me, you were not entirely prepared. Don’t get me wrong, I was prepared in the sense that I had all the school supplies, clothes and accessories ready to go and packed at the front door. And I was BEYOND ready for the kids to have some structure and activities that were not supplied by yours truly. But I was definitely not ready for the early mornings, hurried breakfasts, frantic lunch packing or meal planning that I had let drift off to never, never land during the summer. Add in a lazy Labor Day weekend where I throughly enjoyed my last days of afternoon drinking and grilling out, and by Monday it was a four-alarm “holy shit” kind of day.

So..I do what I do best. Got in my kitchen, put on some jams, enjoyed my greens and got down to the business of fueling my kids to learn! To conserve time, which i obviously had let fly by…I wanted to make a couple of items that could pull double duty, and either be a snack or a quick on the go breakfast. So, I decided to make granola bars to start.

These bars are super easy to make and are SO versatile! You can literally change-up the ingredients without a second thought and they are always on point.

I put some variations below that we have tried and jam on, but please post a comment below with your variations. Enjoy! nom nom

2 cups quick cooking oats; I use Trader Joe’s brand

1 cup of almond butter or any seed/nut butter

1/2 cup of nuts or seeds; I love pumpkin seeds or slivered almonds but almost any nut or seed will work in these!

1/4-1/2 cup mini chocolate chips; I use Enjoy Life mini dark chocolate chips

1/4 cup unsweetened dried fruit: I alternate between cranberries and blueberries

1/4 cup of honey; extra if your bars are crumbly

  1. Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir until all the ingredients are combined. If your mixture still seems crumbly add 1/2 TBS of honey at a time until your mixture sticks together.
  2. Line an 8×8 pan with parchment and press the mixture into the pan. Make sure to press all the way into the corners so your bars are even when you cut them.
  3. Place the bars in the freezer and let chill for 50 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from freezer and lift parchment out. Cut the square in half and then cut lengthwise six times for a total of 12 bars.
  5. Wrap each bar in plastic and place back in the freezer for another 20 minutes.
  6. Keep the bars in the fridge or freezer and enjoy!

 

Bar Variations:

  • Slivered almonds, dried cranberries, cacao nibs
  • Pumpkin seeds, dried blueberries, mini dark chocolate chips
  • Pistachios, cranberries, blueberries and unsweetened coconut

Chicken and Dumplings

gluten-free ~ dairy free option 

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours total

Recipe adapted from: More Than Simply Living blog

I know in some parts of the U.S. it is already summer, and to you, all I can say is I envy you. But please know, that mentally I am following that up with a few savory expletives. Because here in Wisconsin we are still firmly planted in spring. One day I have the windows open and a t-shirt on and the next I have cranked up the heat and dug out my favorite grandpa sweater. So, for those of us still grappling with indecisive weather….this recipe is for you!

This dish is super simple and is an instant comfort on these cold and wet spring days! The prep time for the soup base is less than 20 minutes. And the prep for the dumplings takes 10 minutes. But keep in mind, the dumplings have to cook for an additional hour and a half AFTER the chicken is done, so you need to allow yourself enough time. For this reason, I think this is a great recipe to make on Sunday and then you can use the leftovers to make a pot pie for Monday! This recipe makes ALOT of soup, and my family typically eats all the dumplings the first time around.

To make the leftovers new again I make a quick Gluten Free Pie Crust. I place the soup in a large baking dish, lay the crust over it. Make two or three slits in the crust, brush with an egg wash and sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes or until crust is a golden brown and insides are bubbly! And even if you have a few dumplings left, just leave them in!! It’s an extra yummy surprise!

**If you want to thicken up the soup, make a quick slurry and add it to the soup before laying the pie crust.

 

3lb whole chicken

1.5 cups of chopped carrots

1 cup of chopped celery

1 onion diced

1 cup frozen peas (optional)

salt and pepper; generous sprinkle of both

7 cups of chicken broth

Dumplings

3/4 cup brown rice flour

1/2 cup tapioca flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon of natural cane sugar

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of pepper

3 TBS. shortening, butter or butter substitute

1/2 cup almond milk; may need a bit more if batter is stiff

Cover the bottom of a large crock pot with the vegetables.  Place the chicken on top of the vegetables and season with salt and pepper.  Pour the chicken broth over the chicken.  Cook on low for 5 hours. After 5 hours, turn the crockpot up to HIGH. Cook another 30 minutes, if the chicken is done (165 temp), remove and continue cooking soup another 30 minutes. Leave chicken in if it still needs time. Once done, place the chicken in a large bowl to cool.

For the dumplings, stir together the dry ingredients.  Using a pastry cutter or fork, cut the shortening/butter into the dry mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add the almond milk and stir until it forms a thick dough.

Drop dough by the tablespoon into the soup.  Cook on high for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the dumplings are not doughy. Once the dumplings are in, do not stir the soup. Stirring will cause the dumplings to fall apart.   If dumplings are not fully immersed, use a spoon to gently press down into soup.

Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and shred with two forks.  When the dumplings have about a half hour left of cooking time, add the chicken back into the soup and gently stir.

 

Corn Dog Muffins

gluten free – refined sugar free – dairy free option – vegan option

As you know, I am a sweet lover from head to toe. But something I love even more, are foods that satisfy both my sweet and savory cravings in the same bite. A few of my personal favorites for sweet/savory combinations include the ever popular chicken and waffles. I was stoked to discover this combo in Chicago 7 years ago when a restaurant opened up around the corner from our house in Bronzeville. Another favorite is popcorn and chocolate. This combo has been a staple in my life since I was a child. I can vividly remember, sitting on the couch with my mom on Friday night, eating popcorn and M&M’S while watching Falcon Crest or Moonlighting. And finally, the standard kid favorite….corn dogs. I mean…nothing beats meat on a stick. So, cover said meat in a sweet cake-like batter, and you had me at hello.

These little corn dog muffin gems came about a few months ago, and were a result of my boredom in making my daughter’s lunches for school. I know I don’t like to eat the same thing everyday so why would my kid?? From there, it was a quick search on Pinterest,  a visit to the blog hip2save.com where I found these corn dog muffins, and a few tweaks to the recipe to make them gluten, dairy and refined sugar-free. To keep them warm until lunch, follow my simple instructions below. Enjoy! nom nom

1/2 cup melted butter or butter substitute
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
2 eggs or Flax eggs
1 cup  non-dairy buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup fine or medium grind cornmeal
1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 all-beef or vegan hot dogs, sliced into 1″ pieces

  1. Preheat oven to 375 and coat a mini muffin tin with non-stick spray
  2.  In a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar on medium speed.
  3. Add eggs one at a time. Allow egg to be fully incorporated before adding second.
  4. Decrease speed to low and add the buttermilk.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the baking soda, cornmeal, flour and salt. Whisk to combine. Add into wet ingredients in two batches, mixing on low-speed.
  6.  Place 1 Tablespoon of batter into each mini muffin cup. I use a mini ice cream scoop but a regular tablespoon will do the trick!
  7. Place one hot dog bite into the middle of each muffin cup.
  8. Bake for 8-12 until cornbread is golden brown. Cool in mini muffin tin for 5 minutes before serving. Makes approximately 3 dozen.

**To keep muffins warm for school lunch**

  1. Heat a kettle of water to boiling. Put boiling water in soup thermos, replace lid and let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Heat the corn dogs in microwave for approximately 45 seconds. Dump out the water from thermos, dry the inside completely, put corn dogs inside and put the lid on. Put the ketchup on the side and you are good to go!

Immunity Soup

gluten-free / dairy free / grain free / vegan option

Cold and flu season is in full swing and its a four alarm, all hands on deck situation at my house. I recently had pelvic reconstructive surgery and so for the last 5 weeks I have had to have 24 hour help, to manage not only myself but the kids and our daily schedule. My hubby, who is incredibly supportive and helpful, has an insane travel schedule and so we have been keeping this crazy bus moving with the help of my two incredible nannies, my mama and a slew of supportive friends. But it has not been easy. And it has definitely taken its toll on everyone health wise. So in addition to the constant hand washing and the plethora  of Thieves oil we use, I decided to whip up a batch of this amazing Immunity soup. I had heard about the amazing benefits of a soup like this and then saw a recipe featured in Cooking Light magazine. I took their recipe, made a few adjustments and removed the chicken and subbed in tofu to make it vegetarian. To be honest, we loved the soup without either but I liked the option to add one in and increase the protein and zinc levels.

This soup is chock full of immunity boosters and is delicious!!! The mushrooms are rich in Vitamin D, selenium and B vitamins. The garlic contains allicin, which is one of the most powerful antioxidants we know about. The hot stock used, makes your nose run and therefore helps clear out congestion. It also helps to keep you hydrated which is so important when sick! The chickpeas, chicken, and tofu are an amazing source of zinc and the kale is a great source of vitamin C. So when you put these all together you have the ultimate cold fighting weapon. The bonus is that it actually tastes good AND works, unlike the cold medicine or essential oil that my family so dislikes! Enjoy!! nomnom

Ingredients

2 TBS. olive oil

1.5 cups of chopped onion

4 celery stalks, thinly sliced

3 large carrots, thinly sliced

1 lb of mushrooms, sliced

12 medium cloves of garlic, minced

8 cups of organic chicken broth

6 sprigs of thyme

2 bay leaves

1 (15-oz) can chickpeas, drained

1.5 tsp. kosher salt

3/4 tsp red pepper flakes

8-10 oz of curly kale, stems removed, leaves torn

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken or a batch of Crispy Tofu (optional)*

Directions

*This soup is great vegetarian style but if you want to add chicken or tofu for an added boost of protein, here is what you do!! For the chicken, just follow the instructions below. For the Crispy Tofu, click on the link and just follow the tofu recipe. Then add the tofu to the immunity soup with the kale.

  1. Heat oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots and celery; cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add mushrooms and garlic, cook three minutes, stirring frequently
  3. Add in the chicken broth, thyme, bay leaves and chickpeas to pot and bring to a simmer.
  4. Add in salt, red pepper flakes and chicken if using. Cover and simmer until chicken is done, about 25 minutes.
  5. Remove chicken from the Dutch oven; cool slightly and shred the chicken with two forks.
  6. Stir kale and chicken or tofu into the soup; cover and simmer until kale is just tender, about 5 minutes.
  7. Discard thyme and bay leaves.

Spaghetti Squash Pizza Bake

Wow! It has been a minute since I posted last!! Life has taken some unexpected, crazy, and sometimes gut wrenching turns over the past few months. And I am guessing I am not the only one who feel like this out there. 2016 was a rough year for ALOT of people, but I also feel that 2016 brought many of us out of a complacent slumber, opened our eyes to what is going on, and revved up the activist fire within us. Those of you that know me personally, have seen my meteoric race to becoming a full-time activist as Co-founder of HELP, the Human Equality Love Project and as the Milwaukee chapter event lead for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. And that is in addition to my roles of mom, wife, friend, chauffeur, food blogger, and entrepreneur. Throw in a pelvic reconstructive surgery two days after Christmas and you got yourself one nutty mama with a crazy high BP.

Needless to say, my doctor recommended a “vacation” from anything “stressful” until after my surgery. Once I got over the sheer hilarity of that statement, I did realize one thing about my “vacation” and upcoming surgery. I was being given a rare gift, that most stay at home moms rarely (if ever) get. A hall pass to do ALL the things I NEVER have the time to do. Like what you ask? Well, there is the redecorating of my office, the family photo albums of 2013,2014,2015, and 2016 (I’m a little behind, ok?!). The re-organization of my kitchen pantry, the kids baby books (am I the only one whose books are still wrapped??) A stack of books I have been meaning to read since 2014, and binge watch all 6 seasons of Game of Thrones. And last, but certainly not least is to bake, cook and blog my way to happy town. So enough about me, let’s talk food!

This recipe is a MUST for those of us with kiddos! It is the age-old problem of every parent. The kids want carbs and dairy and you would like at least a fleck of vegetable to go with their beloved carbs and dairy. Spaghetti Squash Pizza Bake to the rescue! My oldest loves to help sprinkle the cheese and place the salami. She prefers salami as it tends to be less spicy than pepperoni. I also love this recipe because it doesn’t “hide” the vegetable it just presents it in a manner that is appealing to kiddos. Because believe me, this does not look like pizza!! The kids will know immediately that you are full of…beans. But, it won’t matter in the end because it tastes like PIZZA!!!! Enjoy! nom nom

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb ground Italian sausage
  • 1 large or 2 medium spaghetti squash, appx 4 cups cooked spaghetti squash
  • 3 cups marinara sauce, I used Rao’s homemade marinara sauce
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 1/2 oz thinly sliced salami (or pepperoni, which my daughter thinks is too spicy!)
  • 1/2 vegan parmesan cheese, I use Go Veggie Parmesan style Cheese or make my own.** You can also just use a bit more mozzarella and leave out the parmesan.
  • 1/2 cup vegan mozzarella cheese, I use Daiya brand

**Here is a quick and simple way to make vegan parmesan

Instructions

Spaghetti Squash

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Cut ends off the squashes, place cut side down and slice in half.
  3. Clean out and discard the insides of the squash
  4.  Drizzle each half with olive oil, salt and pepper
  5. Place cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until spaghetti squash is soft and slightly browned
  6. Remove from oven, let cool until you can handle the halves. Shred with a fork and remove “spaghetti” from the skin

Pizza Bake

  1. Once the squash is cooked, drop the oven temperature down to 350 F.
  2. In a medium skillet over medium high heat, brown the Italian sausage until cooked through.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the sausage, marinara sauce, eggs, sea salt, oregano, and garlic powder.
  4. Add the spaghetti squash to the marinara mixture. Stir to combine and put into a 9×13 baking dish. Smooth mixture into an even layer.
  5. Top with half of the salami/pepperoni, a layer of parmesan cheese, and then a layer of Mozzarella cheese.
  6. Top with the remaining salami and bake for 30-35 minutes until it sets and is bubbling.

Chicken Meatball and Escarole Soup

gluten-free / dairy free option

It is officially soup time!!!!! Ok…its been soup time for almost two months, but what can I say???? It’s been a bit crazy (ok, bat shit crazy) at my house and we just arrived to the party.

Fall is absolutely my favorite time of year. I love the feel of the crisp, clean air as I walk my daughter to school in the morning and I love going to pick apples and pumpkins at Barthel Fruit Farm with my family. But by far, my most favorite thing about fall is the food!!! I know, I know….. no surprise there as I am obviously a bit of a food junkie. Though. I feel like I would be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t feel the same way. I mean, just think about it!!! Apples crisps, pumpkin pie squares, pumpkin bread, and soups coming at you from all sides. It is frickin’ glorious my friends!!!! But truthfully, there is nothing better than a hearty warm soup served with a nice crusty loaf of garlic bread.  It warms your soul after a long day and is the perfect way to come together as a family. And pretty much anything I can make in one pot is a winner in my book.

This chicken meatball soup is an absolute staple in my house. The kids love anything that comes in the form of a meatball and is served with buttery toast. And I love that is healthy and creates a “no whining” environment at the table. Kid tip…I make sure to chop up the escarole a little smaller so that the meatball conveniently “covers” the escarole on the spoon! I serve this with a loaf of gluten-free garlic bread and dinner my friends is served. Enjoy!! nom nom

6 TBS plain gluten-free breadcrumbs

1/2 cup finely grated parmesan-reggiano cheese or Vegan parmesan cheese

4 TBS chopped  fresh parsley or 2 TBS dried parsley

1 lb ground chicken

2 large eggs

2 TBS extra virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion; finely diced

3 small carrots; finely diced

2 celery stalks; fnely diced

1.5 qt of chicken broth

2 1/2 tsp salt; divided

1 tsp fresh ground pepper

1 sprig of rosemary

5 cups escarole, thinly sliced

  1. Put breadcrumbs in bowl, moisten with 1 TBS water. Mix in cheese, parsley, salt and pepper. Add chicken and eggs and mix until just combined. Scoop out 1 TBS of meatball  mixture and roll into golf ball sized meatballs. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in 5 qt pot over medium heat. Add onion, celery, carrots  and 1 tsp salt; cook until tender 4-5 minutes. Add broth and rosemary. Bring to a boil.
  3. Gently add meatballs, reduce heat to medium low to maintain a gentle simmer, cook for 10 minutes
  4. Add escarole and continue to simmer until meatballs are cooked and escarole is wilted, about 5 additional minutes.
  5. Discard the rosemary and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with additional grated cheese if desired.