Crustless Sun-Dried Tomato Quiche

Crustless Sun-Dried Tomato Quiche | Brittany's PantryI grew up with big breakfasts.

My Dad always liked to make the works on the weekends and he was good at it.  Fried potatoes with onions, a big platter of fried eggs, sausage patties, toast-everything a good breakfast purist would want.  And you wouldn’t believe how perfect my Dad can make an egg over-easy.  The best I have ever seen, using a tiny cast iron frying pan that makes a perfectly sized egg.  Gorgeous.  My husband loves the tradition of a big breakfast just as much and we have a good time going all out on a saturday morning; taking our time and making a huge menu.

I almost always serve an egg dish because…well because I love them.  I always have.  In college I would microwave beaten eggs in a mug and spoon it over toast.  It was cheap, fast, and SO good at 1 in the morning!  Now, you can always find a hardboiled egg or two in my refrigerator, and my children proudly know what it means to order eggs scrambled, sunny side up, over-easy, over-hard, or poached.

Which is why, if you are a guest at my house on a weekend or holiday and it is before 11:00 am, there is a very good chance that you will be served this egg recipe.  Why?  It satisfies everyone!  Its healthy, gluten-free, and vegetarian.  But most importantly, it is an incredibly tasty dish that is ridiculously easy.  Two things we are always looking for in breakfast food, right?  I put sun-dried tomatoes in it, people.  SUN DRIED TOMATOES!  Little chewy bites of exploding flavor that you will want to mix in to every egg dish hereafter- which you totally have my permission to do, but the way.

Unlike a lot of quiche recipes, this one isn’t overly loaded down with ingredients.  No big chunks of vegetables, but certainly no less appealing.  It isn’t made in a tiny cast iron frying pan, but I am fairly certain my Dad would allow this on the table on a Saturday morning.  Being the breakfast expert that he is, he knows a good thing when he sees it.

Crustless Sun-Dried Tomato Quiche | Brittany's Pantry
**This recipe was created in collaboration with the Casper.  Check out their mattress here to learn more about how they are creating ‘The Mattress Reimagined.”  As always, all opinions and content are my own.

Crustless Sun-Dried Tomato Quiche
In addition to breakfast or brunch, I love to serve this alongside a salad and crusty bread for a light dinner.

1/4 c sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and roughly chopped
1/2 c Vermont white cheddar
1 scant T snipped fresh chives
pinch of salt
ground black pepper to taste
8 large eggs, beaten
1/3 c milk

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Spray a glass or ceramic deep dish pie dish.  Evenly sprinkle the bottom of the pie plate with the tomatoes, then the cheese, then the chives.  Beat the remaining ingredients together until uniform and fluffy and slowly pour the egg mixture into the pie plate.  Gently slide the dish into the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes or until puffed and JUST SET in the middle.  Remove dish and let sit at room temperature for a full  five minutes before slicing and serving.  Can be enjoyed hot, warm, or room temperature. Leftovers are great the following day, slightly warmed in the microwave and eaten on toast like a breakfast sandwich!

Sweet Orange Knots

Sweet Orange Knots | Brittany's Pantry - Frozen bread dough make these fun little treats quick and OH so easy!I have been making these darling little pastries for years and I have yet to get sick of them.  Who would turn down bread coated in orange flavored sugar?

I learned how to make these when I was catering during the earlier years of my life.  I thought they were the most ingenious thing I had ever seen.  So easy, yet so impressive.  I learned a lot working with professionals in the food industry, but I think one of the things that stuck with me the most is that it just doesn’t have to be so hard.  Case in point, these babies.  Four ingredients.  Four.  And they are absolutely de-LIGHT-full.  I have made them for bridal showers, baby showers, brunch, and even just for a fun snack on a weekend.  These are also a great recipe to make with your kids!

As you may have guessed this is the first recipe in a series of recipes I am making to continue the ‘cozy’ theme that I started with a giveaway a few days ago.  If you haven’t entered yet (*gasp* For SHAME!), check out the post here and see the loot I am giving away from the top rated ETSY shop, Pine Tree Goods.  Remember, there will be two winners and you have a chance to add your name up to 5 times!  If you don’t want to wait and see if you win (And you totally want to get some Christmas shopping done ahead of time!) take advantage of the free shipping code provided just to Brittany’s Pantry readers!  Enter BPGIVEAWAY14 at checkout and it ships free!!

And while you wait for your warm and cozy accessories to arrive, you can enjoy filling your house with the smell of warm bread.  Mmmmm…..
Sweet Orange Knots | Brittany's Pantry - Frozen bread dough make these fun little treats quick and OH so easy!Sweet Orange Knots | Brittany's Pantry - Frozen bread dough make these fun little treats quick and OH so easy!Sweet Orange Knots | Brittany's Pantry - Frozen bread dough make these fun little treats quick and OH so easy!Sweet Orange Knots | Brittany's Pantry - Frozen bread dough make these fun little treats quick and OH so easy!IMG_0746IMG_0771Sweet Orange Knots

1 lb frozen, refrigerated, or homemade bread dough
1 c sugar
zest of 1 large orange
1 stick (1/2 c) butter, melted

If your dough is frozen, defrost in the fridge overnight.  Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and set aside to rest.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place the melted butter in one medium bowl and the sugar in another bowl.  Be sure to zest the orange directly over the sugar so that the oils and flavor from the zest all go into the sugar!  With clean hands, combine the zest with the sugar, rubbing to break up any clumps and to evenly distribute the orange flavor throughout.  Working one ball of dough at a time, gently roll the dough to create a ‘breadstick’ shape 6-8 inches long.  Dip the dough in the butter, then toss in the sugar mixture, coating well.  Tie the dough into a knot and place it on a silpat or parchment lined sheet pan.  Continue with the other pieces of dough until all are done, spacing evenly apart on the pan.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.  Baking time will vary depending on your dough, but make sure to check them after 15 minutes so they don’t burn on the bottom.  Don’t over bake them or the sugar will scorch!  Let cool slightly and then remove to a cooling rack.  These are best eaten the day they are made.

Sweet Northern Cornbread (Yankee Cornbread)

Sweet Northern Cornbread | Brittany's PantryIf you read my blog with any regularity, you know that my family moved to South Carolina a few months ago.  I am finding it a bit of a trial to keep a balance between my Northern upbringing and wanting to experience and immerse myself in my new region of the south.  Case in point-cornbread.

So why, you may be asking, am I not posting a good southern cornbread recipe where the batter is poured into a cast iron skillet and baked to a perfectly crusty disc?  The kind of cornbread that practically thirsts to be doused in black eyed peas?  Cornbread that is to gravy as Curly is to Moe?

Because I haven’t perfected it yet.  Everyone makes their cornbread a bit different around here and since I have Mississippi ‘family’ that influences me as well, I need to cover all the bases and possibilities.  This requires more testing to come up with the final version and it will be, I assure you, coming soon.  It will even be baked to the perfect state of crustiness in my cast iron skillet.

That said, I am, as you know, from the North.  We Minnesota folk like our cornbread tall, fluffy, and sweet and I am not ashamed of it!  That is how I grew up with it, and, if I may be so bold as to say, it is still my favorite way to eat it.  *gasp*  Its true.  This is a safe place, friends.  We accept fans of all kinds of cornbread here.  No judgement.

Often called Yankee Cornbread, my version has flour in it, as well as cornmeal, to lighten the batter a bit.  Most traditional southern cornbread recipes I have come across, either researched or those served to me by southern women, have little or no flour in them and much less baking powder, if any at all.  The Northern version gets flack for being more cake like, while its counterpart is often criticized for lack of flavor.

Never one to discriminate against food (I am an equal opportunity eater), I like them both.  In turn, I like to eat them in different applications.  Today’s recipe is fantastic served with breakfast or brunch, spread with butter and jam.  Generally though, my kids and I like to eat it plain.  The texture and flavor is enough to warrant only a glass of milk on the side.  It is great baked into muffins as well and is a nice balance between crumbly enough to still be cornbread but firm enough to eat out of hand.  Since cornbread is just so darn easy to mix up, this is SO much tastier-and better for you-than reaching for a box of processed mix.  Occasionally, those come in handy, but for straight up cornbread, there is no substitute.

So below is my staple, straight-up, no messing around, no frills recipe for sweet cornbread.  Use it well and enjoy.  No matter which side of the Mason-Dixon Line you call home.
Sweet Northern Cornbread | Brittany's PantrySweet Northern Cornbread
Equal parts flour and cornmeal have always been my standard for cornbread.  My mom made it that way, so I make it that way.  I add a bit more baking powder to mine because I like it extra fluffy.  The white sugar forms just a bit of a sweet crust on the top that I can’t resist.  Makes great muffins too!!

1 c flour
1 c cornmeal
2/3 c sugar
pinch of salt
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 c milk
1/3 c grape seed, canola oil, or even melted butter

Preheat oven to 375.
Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl with a whisk.  In a large measuring cup, mix the egg, milk, and oil together with a fork.  Slowly combine the wet and dry ingredients with the whisk, careful not to over mix!  Pour into a greased, 9X9 glass or metal baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until puffed, golden, and a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in pan until just barely warm.  Cut into squares and enjoy!

Cranberry Orange Pumpkin Spice Muffins via Brittany's PantryI should warn you.  I will never have enough pumpkin recipes.  Muffins, quick breads, dip, pie, shakes-everything.  I.  Love.  Pumpkin.

You will probably never find me with a pumpkin spiced latte as the sweetness level is a bit much for me, but other than that, I happily submit to all the pumpkin craziness that ensues from Labor Day to the end of the year.  And beyond, as I make pumpkin muffins and quick breads year round.  These Pumpkin Pie Muffins are my go-to, make ALL the time, never fail, can’t-get-enough-of-them-type of recipe.  So much so that I only ever so briefly stray from my loyalty to them.

Until now.  (Cue dramatic music)

I saw a version of the following recipe on the food network website.  I did my usual changes and tweaked things to make it a bit more streamlined, shave off a few steps, and make it ever so more healthy.   More healthy means I can eat more of them, yes?  But the point here is that I made these up and thought I may have just found my new favorite pumpkin muffin.  Then I made another batch and was sure I had found it.  The tang and chewiness of the cranberries make these extra special and just so darn irresistible.  They have been inducted into the Brittany’s Pantry hall of fame, which may sound prestigious, but actually just means they are a recipe that I make on a regular basis.  High praise for my family.  And since these adorable muffins are a kind of dressed-up, boss is coming to dinner, pumpkin muffin, they make  a great quick bread to give as a gift this season.

Or just do as I do and eat them all yourself.  I won’t judge.Cranberry Orange Pumpkin Spice Muffins via Brittany's Pantry Cranberry-Orange Pumpkin Spice Muffins
Inspired from Food Network

Preheat oven to 350.  In a large bowl, whisk together:

1/3 c canola or grape seed oil
zest of one orange
2 eggs
2/3 c sugar
1/2 c pumpkin puree
1/3 c unsweetened applesauce
1/2 c milk
Combine ingredients until smooth.  Add:
1 c all-purpose flour
1 c white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch of salt
2 tsp baking powder
Gently fold in the dry ingredients.  When nearly combined, add:
2/3 c dried cranberries

Continue to gently fold batter together until JUST COMBINED!  Do not over mix.  Portion the batter evenly amongst 12 sprayed or paper lined muffin cups.  Sprinkle each muffin cup with just a pinch of granulated sugar, raw sugar, or casters sugar, if desired.  Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a moist crumb  or two.  Let set for a few minutes then remove to a cooling rack.  Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Honey Oat Protein Bites | Brittany's PantryAbout a year ago, when I still lived in central Illinois, I was given this recipe from a friend and fellow Mommy.  She was on a mission to get more fit and make some long lasting, healthy changes in her life.  One of her discoveries was this recipe that she got off Pinterest.  As a rockstar mom of boys, she was looking for a quick, homemade snack that she could make ahead and share with the whole family and this fit the bill.  (Personally, I think she just needed a quick bite of something that would keep her on the move.  Why are boys so exhausting?)  She was so surprised at how delicious they were, she made sure to share it with everyone she knew!  I recently started experimenting with all variations of no bake, granola-type, snack bite kind of recipes and thought I would start with this one.

Score!  I am a huge peanut butter and chocolate fan so this was one of the flavors that was top on my list.  Man, are they good!  I have several family members and friends that are gluten-free due to celiacs disease or other health issues so I am psyched to be able to pass this on to them!  My Mom used to make something similar to this when I was a kid so I can’t help but feel like these are kind of a retro snack making a comeback as a food fad.   There are so many recipes similar to this that are floating around the internet, I am glad to have narrowed them down to just one!  I am still working on another version; different flavors so that we all get some variety, but I’ll leave that for another day.  For now, know that these awesome little bombs of heart healthy flax and oats are a powerhouse of good things for your bod!

My initial taste testers of this recipe, who coincidentally eat GF and include at least one health professional, all gave a full stamp of approval.  They liked that you can really taste the ingredients, which in my opinion, makes them that much more scrumptious.  My kids went crazy for them and have requested they be tucked in their lunches, sent for snack, or both!  My husband is a runner and even though he has had them as a boost before and after his runs, the rest of the time I need to physically separate him from the container.  While they are healthy and full of good things, too many would really up your calorie intake.  So don’t eat them like popcorn!

Gluten Free Honey Oat Protein Bites | Brittany's Pantry

via BP in Instagram

Ultimately, they are just a smart, easy, kid and adult friendly food that is a good idea.  They are a faster, more simple recipe than making a full batch of granola bars and easy enough for your kids to make by themselves!  They last for quite awhile stored properly in the fridge and can be frozen too.  Very convenient if you are little, grown, single, married, new parents, old parents…or a rockstar mom of boys.
Gluten-Free Honey Oat Protein Bites | Brittany's Pantry**This recipe is fourth in the healthy eating series I am featuring over on the J Rose Fitness Facebook page!  It is a great resource for healthy living tips, ideas, motivation, and the occasional challenge!  Check it out and ‘like’ it to get your daily dose of information and humor.  I guarantee it will make your day!  Jessica, the brain behind the page is ready to answer questions, give support, and keep you going!  I am loving being a contributor and you can see all my submitted recipes on her site.  I don’t receive any compensation for contributing-I just really love her page!  Check it out!

Gluten-Free Honey Oat Protein Bites
Recipe via Danielle (friend of BP) via Pinterest
These can be altered a bit depending on your tastes.  I have specified substitutions where applicable.

1 c peanut butter or almond butter
1 c ground flax seeds
2 c rolled oats, gluten free if desired
1/2 c mini chocolate chips or 1 c raisins or dried cranberries
2/3 c honey, preferably raw

Combine all ingredients in a bowl with a wooden spoon.  Cover and chill until the mixture firms up.  Scoop by level tablespoonfuls and roll between the palms of your hands until they are smooth and round.  Chill.  Enjoy!  Can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for…I don’t know! We always eat them too fast! :)  I like to freeze them in bags of six to pull out later and make them last longer.

Breakfast Stackers

Breakfast Stackers | Brittany's PantryWhen I lived in San Diego, I used to meet up with my friend and fellow Navy wife, Karen, at this bar and grill.  For the life of me, I can NOT remember the name of the place (I think it had something to do with panning for gold…) but the place was great for two lonely gals with husbands that were always deployed.  The dim lights and casual atmosphere made for an ideal spot to pine for ones husband.  We would sit and sip drinks, eat zucchini fries, and talk for hours.  One of my favorite things to order was a Caprese kind of tomato stack.  Incredible heirloom tomatoes, alternating with fresh basil and fresh mozzarella, piled high on a plate like some kind of Jenga tower, and then generously drizzled with a balsamic reduction, olive oil, and finished with salt and pepper.  Out. STANDing.  I had to eat it with a knife and fork and often just ordered it as my dinner.

I love food memories like that.  Something that makes me think of a specific time and place, and in addition, the way I felt at that specific time and place.  Its a powerful thing when food makes us recall tastes, smells, feelings.  One of my favorite things, actually.  I feel certain that I could fill a book with the emotions and memories of certain foods and dishes and the life experiences connected to them!
Breakfast Stackers | Brittany's PantryIt was those same memories that triggered this breakfast one day.  I was thinking about this open-faced Tuna Melt because it sounded so good, but figured I couldn’t get my family eat it for breakfast.  A whole meal of tomatoes sounded good as well, but I wanted the fresh mozzarella to complete the craving and didn’t happen to have any on hand.  I really wanted something open faced and stacked like those glorious tomato towers and so, these stackers were born.  I know you could obviously change up the ingredients, but for some reason, we never do.  We found what works and are sticking with it!

Honestly, I think it is the textures of these ingredients that make this breakfast so appealing.  You can’t eat it with your hands so you cut into it with a knife, resulting in forkfuls of cool and sweet tomatoes, spinach that is light and fresh, salty bacon, hearty bread, creamy eggs, and the bite of parmesan that seems to bring the party of tastes home with a pow.  It really is the perfect breakfast, layered with all the components needed for maximum satisfaction.  My kids love to build theirs and it is an easy way to serve something a little different to guest without going to too much trouble.

It is no tomato tower, but it will do.
Breakfast Stackers | Brittany's PantryBreakfast Stackers | Brittany's PantryBreakfast Stackers | Brittany's PantryBreakfast Stackers
This is the recipe to make one.  Adjust quantities for the number of people you are serving.

1 slice of whole grain bread of your choice, toasted and dry, with no butter or spread
handful of fresh baby spinach
two slices of tomato
2 slices of thick cut bacon
2 eggs, fried or poached to personal preference
large pinch of shredded parmesan
salt and pepper

Place the toast on the plate first, then the spinach, and then the tomatoes.  Salt and pepper the tomatoes because OH MOMMA does it bring out the flavor of them!  Next the bacon, and then the eggs, and finish with the parmesan cheese and more pepper.  I don’t like to salt the eggs at the end as the cheese is already salty, but do what you like!  Enjoy!

Pistachio Granola

Pistachio Granola|Brittany's PantryWith the exception of that strange, green instant pudding from my childhood, my experience with pistachios was rather limited until I married my husband, Mike.  My Aunt Mary used to make this awesome dessert called Watergate Cake and it was a lovely shade of pistachio green and it contained that same pudding.  Recipe coming soon!!  But thats not what today is about!  Granola.  Today is about granola.

So.  My husband loves pistachios and has always preferred to buy the ones roasted, salted and cracked in the shell.  He snacks on them regularly and he has passed that nutty love of lime green nuts onto our children.  They eat them whenever they can get their hands on them and when I came across a recipe that made them the star player in granola, I couldn’t pass it up.  I always add them to my favorite granola bar recipe for color and flavor, but this recipe takes the obsession one step further.  One tasty, crunchy, healthy, and addictive step further.  So good in fact, I passed some of this along to my neighbor when I was testing and tweaking this recipe, and even though I sent it with yogurt to eat as well, she skipped the dairy and just inhaled the granola by itself.  Then she pestered me for more!  Good indication of a winner, don’t you think?
Pistachio Granola|Brittany's PantryIn general, I prefer to save a buck or two and crack them myself.  Or rather, I give them to Mike and he cracks them for me.  (Some of those suckers are tough!)  Pistachios are on the expensive side so when they are on sale, I buy what I can and enjoy them.  I always plan to buy ahead and freeze them, but we eat them too fast!  Like most nuts, pistachios are incredibly good for you and contain a wealth of nutrients.  Just a handful can give you your daily allowance of more than a half dozen vitamins and minerals, in addition to healthy fats and antioxidants.  I would love to mention all of the benefits of these fantastic nuts, but I think that we should really just stick to the most important factor: They are GREEN!!!  You faithful readers know about my obsession with all things green, afore mentioned here and here.  How do you pass up such a cheerful color?  Pistachio green paint is so popular, the 60’s and 70’s had people painting their entire kitchens with it.  Those people knew something groovy when they saw it, huh?
Pistachio Granola|Brittany's PantryIf you are not familiar with the taste of them, this granola is the perfect segue into discovering your love of happy, green, pistachios.  Healthy, nutty, crunchy, and incredibly toasty, we love it sprinkled over yogurt or poured in a bowl with some milk and eaten like a cereal.  Absolutely fantastic.  And much less of a commitment than painting your cabinets green.
Pistachio Granola|Brittany's Pantry Mixed and ready to toast in the oven!
Pistachio Granola|Brittany's PantryAll done!  Perfectly toasty and delicious!

*Todays recipe is the second part of a healthy eating series I am doing over on J Rose Fitness, a healthy living Facebook page!  Jessica McKenzie is an online Beach body coach and you can check out her page here.  Be sure to like her on Facebook to get regular healthy living tips and inspiration!  Click on the links below to see the other recipes in the series.

Green Tea Smoothie

Pistachio Granola
Recipe adapted from Mountain Momma Cooks
I do double this recipe, but most of the time I like enjoying this small batch.  I make this often, but it isn’t my regular go-to formula for granola so we treat it as something special.

1 1/2 c rolled oats
1/2 c shelled pistachio nuts, roughly chopped if desired
1/3 c sliced almonds
3 T grape seed or canola oil
3 T honey, preferably raw
1 tsp vanilla
small pinch of salt (if your nuts come salted, omit this ingredient)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  In a medium bowl, combine nuts and oats.  In a large measuring cup, microwave the remaining ingredients until just warm enough to soften the honey and stir the mixture smooth.  Pour over the oats and pistachios, mix thoroughly, and spread on a parchment lined sheet pan.  Be sure the mixture is in a nice, thin, single layer so that the heat can circulate well and toast your granola evenly!  Bake for 10 minutes, then gently stir the mixture well, spreading it evenly out on the sheet pan again.  Toast for another 5 minutes, stir again, then toast for a final three minutes.  Granola should be golden brown and don’t worry-it will crisp up as it cools.  Remove and let cool completely.  Store in an airtight container or freeze.

Buttermilk Bread

Buttermilk BreadInevitably, when I leave for vacation, I seem to have a container of buttermilk left.  You would think I get hip to this fact over time and take the necessary measures, using it up in waffles and pancakes the week before we go, but I never do.

Now, if this were ice cream, I would be all over it.  I would gladly sacrifice my healthy lunch to finish off that lonely quart of mint and chip.  The fact that ice cream would easily last until I returned in a week or so is irrelevant.

But buttermilk?  You obviously can’t just drink it down to use it up.  I always keep it in my fridge because I use it to bake with so much, but when I am packing 5 people for a trip (one of them who is still in diapers) time is of the essence.  Yes, I could freeze it, and occasionally I do.  Unfortunately, my freezer real-estate is limited and much sought after (the blueberries usually win) so that isn’t always an option.  Especially now in our little rental house.  My solution?  This bread.  Aptly named, Buttermilk Bread.  You may have already deduced the main ingredient…

This earns a spot on this blog because it is just so darn versatile.  I am all about multitasking so anything that serves more than one purpose is on my ‘I like you’ list.  Believe it or not this isn’t a sweet bread, but it can certainly be served that way.  Baked ahead and tucked in the freezer, this bread is great to pull out and slice up to put out for breakfast or brunch; slathered with butter and jam of course.  The mild, neutral flavor also lends itself to savory applications.  Added to the dinner table in lieu of dinner rolls, no butter needed, is a great way to change up your menu without a lot of effort.  Think of it alongside soups, stews, main dish salads, and even Thanksgiving!

I’ll post the recipe below.  You know…just in case you are going on a trip soon.
Buttermilk BreadButtermilk BreadButtermilk Bread
Adapted from Cooking Light
This quick bread comes together with minimal ingredients and even less steps, making this a great recipe to use when you are short on time!

Preheat your oven to 350.  In a large mixing bowl, add:
2 c all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
Whisk dry ingredients together to combine.  In a large measuring cup, whisk together:
2 egg whites
1 1/2 c low fat buttermilk
2 T honey
1/4 c canola or grape seed oil, or melted butter

When wet ingredients are whisked until smooth, add to dry ingredients and stir and fold both together until just combined.  No need to whisk or beat this.  Pour batter into a sprayed, standard sized loaf pan (about 8X4 or 9X5) and bake for 45 minutes.  It will be nicely browned on top and a toothpick or skewer should come out clean when inserted near the center.  Cool slightly in the pan for 10 minutes or so until the bread has a chance to set a bit, then turn out onto a cooling rack.  Cool completely!!  Slightly warm is ok, but slice it too hot and it isn’t as good. Great bread to freeze ahead and just thaw on the counter before you serve it.  Enjoy!

Green Tea Smoothie

Green Green SmoothieSo, remember when I posted this recipe for Green Green Salad?  I am at it again, but this time its drinkable.  I keep creating these verdant recipes and all I can think of is, “Awesome.  It is sooooo greeeeeen.”

Side Note:  I have been looking for a green couch for my family room, but don’t tell my husband.  Sssssshhhhhhh.

I love the color green and every time I make this smoothie I do a little happy dance because it just looks so vibrant and energizing and positive.  In general, food of this shade is on the healthy side so how can you think of anything else but the power of the nutrients coursing through your veins?!  This is why Popeye got so revved up on spinach!  Green just does something to us!  It makes our arm muscles bulge and that look of heroic wisdom cross our faces.  It is life!

Yes, in case you are wondering, there is spinach in this smoothie, but the color and health factor get a bit of a boost from some matcha powder.  What the heck is that, you ask?  Only the coolest stuff on the PLANET!  Ok.  The pyramids are cooler, but matcha powder is pretty neat.  It is just a finely ground green tea that uses the whole green tea leaf and a little bit goes a long way.  It is actually so potent that 1 tsp of powder mixed with a cup of hot water to dissolve it, is the equivalent of 10 cups of brewed green tea.  Neat huh?  You can find it in the health food sections of most grocery stores nowadays, and for sure in any health food/specialty store worth its salt.  Heck!  You can even find it at Vitamin World!  Yes, it is a bit expensive, but it lasts for a long time.  And it is the perfect boost in this smoothie.  It kinda gives it that herbal taste without adding more fibrous veggies.  Because, hey.  I love broccoli as much as the next person, but I personally don’t like to drink it cold and raw.  *shudder*

Regardless of wether or not you are gluten free, dairy free, nut free, vegan, or like me, proud to be at the top of the food chain and eating anything you can get your hands on, this drink has you covered.  It won’t weigh you down and I swear it makes you feel healthier just looking at it. And you know why, right?  Because its green.
Green Green Smoothie Green Green Smoothie*Todays recipe can be found on the JRose Fitness page on Facebook by the lovely Jessica McKenzie!  I will regularly be contributing feature recipes that are good for da body and good for da soul so check it out here!  Be sure to ‘like’ the page so you don’t miss anything.  And bonus!  You get a boost of healthy living and fitness inspiration as well!  Click here to see her actual coaching site!

Green Tea Smoothie
This drink is full of good things.  It may be tempting, but don’t skip the lemon juice.  Not only is it incredibly beneficial (health wise) but it gives a brightness of flavor to this smoothie that brings it from OK to outrageous!

1 c coconut milk (I use light)
1 banana
juice of 1/2 of a lemon
1/2 bag frozen, organic peaches (1 1/2 c or so)
2 extra large handfuls of baby spinach, preferably organic
1 T honey (optional)
1 tsp matcha powder

Blend all ingredients together in a blender until smooth, adding ice of desired.  Serve immediately.

IMG_9820There really is no other way to say this: This stuff is awesome.

Not much in the way of frills.  It just takes something really great (three kinds of summer melons) and takes it up a smidge to make it spectacular. And contrary to my usual rants, I am not exaggerating!

You know by now how much of a honey freak I am.  I have always loved honey.  Have I ever told you the story about aspirin and honey from when I was a kid?  No?  Well then… When we were kids and we would wake up in the night with a headache or fever or some kind of ailment, my Mom would give us aspirin.  Remember the big, clear bottle of tiny, white pills with the little white cap?  That is what we had.

Ah! The 80’s.

Anyway, because we were generally too small to swallow pills on our own, and because aspirin is enormously bitter, my mother would put a half (or whole, depending on our age) pill on a huge spoonful of honey.  We would take the whole thing in one bite and no matter how shocking the taste of plain aspirin was, we could chew it up with a huge gob of raw honey in our mouths.  Not a bad way to take your medicine, I must say.  To this day, the smell and taste of aspirin makes me think of honey!
Melon Salad W/Honey & LimeIn this case, we are just using it to boost the already sweet flavor of the fruit.  Super simple but with a big impact, this is a great-and healthy-dish to set out for brunch, lunch, or even bring to your next barbecue.  Besides!  Honey goes with everything!  Even aspirin.
Melon Salad W/Honey & LimeAbove is just a big bowl of fruit that I cut up, layered in the bowl to make it pretty, and then covered with cellophane and tucked in the fridge.
Below is the drizzled final product.  YUM!
Melon Salad W/Honey & LimeTri-Melon Salad W/Honey & Lime
Go ahead and cut the fruit and even put it in your serving bowl up to a day ahead.  Don’t drizzle on the syrup until just before you serve.  Bite sized chunks are great for eating, but go just a bit bigger than that so that they hold together in the bowl better.

Cantaloupe, Watermelon, and Honeydew-trimmed and cut into large chunks
1/2 c honey, preferably local and raw
1 T water
zest of 1 lime
juice of 1 lime, about 2 T

In a large serving bowl, layer the fruit in a bit at a time.  You aren’t going to stir this so however it goes in the dish is how you want it. Clear vessels are beautiful but it ultimately doesn’t matter.  Cover and chill until ready to serve.  When ready to eat, microwave the water and honey for 30 seconds in a glass measuring cup, stirring and heating longer if necessary to make it easily pourable and warm.  Add the lime juice and zest, stir, and drizzle over the fruit just before you serve it.  Do not stir.  Garnish with mint or lime wedges if desired.  Note: The chunks on the bottom that sit in the syrup the longest are the pieces you are going to be fighting over!!

Whole Wheat Cheese & Chocolate Snack RollsRight around this time of year I start to feel like this is my life.  Make no mistake, I know it will only get worse as my kids get older, but preparing for a move across the country, trying to sell our house and buy a different one in a different time zone, transitioning insurance (…and doctors and ballet studios and karate dojos and playgrounds and pharmacies…) I am just barely hanging in there.  It is only slight exaggeration when I say that this little snack saved my life about a month ago.

Sometimes, when I am just. so. bored. with what is in my fridge and I just can’t make myself make/eat another peanut butter sandwich or ham and cheese roll-up for me OR my kids, I tend to kinda loose it.  I am not a creature of habit.  No no.  I need variety.  I know you know this already, but it bears repeating so that you understand the full reasons behind the chocolate chips.

I was desperate.

Truthfully (and this is a safe place so I feel as though I can be honest here), I wanted some cheesecake.  Badly.  I wanted the thick, rich, toothiness that comes with a super cold slice of New York style cheese cake.  The ‘clog your arteries with one bite’ kind.  Of course, living in the heartland of the midwest and surrounded by cornfields, I would have to make it myself.  Unfortunately, my kitchen contained exactly zero of the elements that make a cheesecake as I am in the middle of trying to empty my cupboards, freezer, and fridge.

This little snack was my compromise and I have been dishing them out as a part of lunches, snacks, and late breakfasts ever since.  I usually add honey to just about anything that I smear with cream cheese, but in this case, I um…well…I forgot.  That was  my intention, as I stood at the fridge and blankly decided to add chocolate to cream cheese, and then I spaced it.  Turns out, that was a smooth move because it doesn’t need that added blast of sweetness.  Whole wheat tortillas are a staple in our house and if you make them from scratch yourself, all the better!  Smeared with low fat cream cheese and sprinkled with mini chocolate chips, this snack is not really sweet at all, but is actually quite satisfying.  I have been passing them off to the kids as we struggle to the end of the school year, and even whipping them up as a quick, protein snack to keep me from crashing after a workout.  And lets face it; mini chocolate chips make everyone happy.  Especially when you are just days away from summer vacation.

*deep breath*  I’m ready.
Whole Wheat Cheese & Chocolate Snack RollsWhole Wheat Cheese & Chocolate Snack RollsWhole Wheat Cheese & Chocolate Snack RollsTwo Years AgoTofu Chocolate Pudding
Three Years Ago: Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream & Lemon Thyme Orzo

Whole Wheat Cheese & Chocolate Snack Rolls

whole wheat tortillas
low-fat whipped cream cheese
mini chocolate chips, dark if you can find them

Spread a thin layer of cream cheese on the tortilla, sprinkle with mini chips, roll and eat or slice into bit sized pieces.

Pioneer Bread

Pioneer Bread | Brittany's PantryCan I just, say something…crazy?
In my head, that request was stated like Princess Anna in Frozen.
Ok.  Here is the crazy thing.  Are you ready?

This bread tastes like history.  Like the Old West.  Like The Oregon Trail.

I TOLD you it was crazy, and although I am not a woman prone to exaggeration (*cough cough* ahem), I promise you this is true.  It makes you think of covered wagons, sod houses, and Little House On The Prairie.  I take a bite, close my eyes, and I no longer hear the beep of the microwave timer, but instead, the clang of the iron cookstove door as my husbands adds more logs to the fire.  I can almost smell the waist high grasses blowing outside of the open kitchen window.  My calloused hands bring the still warm slice of bread to my lips for another taste and a sudden bellow from Mazy in barn reminds me that its almost time for evening milking.

Don’t you love it when food does that to you?  Transports you to another time and place or evokes a thought or feeling with just a taste?  I do.  That is one of my favorite things about food.  Perhaps a little of it is the name, but I feel stronger, more independent, and more adventurous just mixing up a batch.

The recipe-or a version of it-has been handed down through families for generations.  It relies on the acid of sour milk to do its leavening and contains no refined sugars and no butter or oil.  Certain items have been changed over time, such as the use of  wheat flour, but I think it still stays true to its name.  It is hearty and a bit heavy, due to the denseness of the ingredients, but it isn’t TOO heavy.  The dried fruit helps sweeten the bread but the honey flavor comes through and results in a bread that nearly tastes like sunshine itself.  We like to eat it sliced thick, plain, right out of the hand.  When you get to the end of the loaf after a day or two, toasted with butter is down right excellent.  Milk cow and covered wagon optional.Pioneer Bread | Brittany's PantryPioneer Bread | Brittany's PantryPioneer Bread | Brittany's Pantry One Year Ago: Pomegranate Sorbet W/Mini Chocolate Chips & White Sangria,
Two Years Ago: Classic Buttermilk Biscuits, The BEST Strawberry Rhubarb Jam,
Three Years Ago: Lemon Chiffon Pie & Outrageous Grilled Pork Chops

Pioneer Bread
Adapted from Americas Test Kitchen
The little boost of sugar is not necessary, but I found that it makes the honey flavor a bit stronger in the finished bread.

3 c white whole wheat flour, or regular whole wheat flour
1 c all purpose flour
1/4 c sugar (optional)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 egg
2 c buttermilk
1/2 c honey
1 c chopped walnuts
1/2 c chopped dates
1/2 c raisins

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.  In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and honey until combined.  Gently stir into dry ingredients, folding together until not quite mixed.  Add the nuts and dried fruit and gently fold together until completely combined.  Pour the batter into two, well greased or sprayed 9X5 inch loaf pans.  Bake for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and let cool the rest of the way.  Store well wrapped on the counter for a day or two, or freeze.

Honey Cardamom Snack Cake

Honey Cardamom Snack CakeA year or so ago, my friend Thea and her family stopped by to visit on the way through town.  Aside from the fact that I have know her more than 20 years and she remembers what I looked like in the mid 90’s, she is a professional baker.  She has been mostly special occasion cakes for the last 8 years, but recently opened up a store front, giving the general public a chance to enjoy her creations on a day to day basis.  Needless to say, we talk flour, butter, sugar, and eggs whenever we are together.

On this particular visit, I was baking something.  For the life of me I canNOT remember what it was, but I assure  you, it wasn’t cake.  Of all the things to feed a professional baker, I avoid baked confections as much as possible.  Usually I lean toward things like creme brûlée, fruit bars, and puddings.  Whatever it was I was making, Thea walked into the kitchen, sniffed, and her eyes lit up.  “Are you using cardamom?” was her immediate question.  Yes, I told her.  Why?  “It is one of my favorite spices,” she declared.  “But it is so under-used!’

I agreed.  Even though it is a warm flavor with an almost herb-y quality to it, and is often mixed with Christmas spices, you don’t often see it used completely on its own.  I happen to love it.  I add it to my plain banana bread, shortbread cookies, and most recently, as the feature flavor in snack cakes!
Honey Cardamom Snack CakeHoney Cardamom Snack Cake As you can see, my two year old wasn’t willing to wait until I was done photographing.  The honey is the only sweetener in this recipe so please please PLEASE use local, raw honey if you have the chance.  The flavor is incomparable to the stuff from the grocery store.  It also gives it the perfect level of sweetness.  Paired with a simple, sour cream snack cake base and the warmth of the cardamom, it is just homey.  If you want to use it as a dessert, fresh strawberries and sweet whipped cream are outstanding with this cake.  But generally, I just like to pick it up and take a bite.

Thea would approve.
Honey Cardamom Snack CakeIMG_9145IMG_9102 One Year Ago: Loaded Black Bean Quesadillas

Two Years Ago: Cream Cheese Banana Bread

Three Years Ago: Honey Carrots & Non-Traditional Shepherd’s Pie & One Bowl Chocolate Cake

Honey Cardamom Snack Cake
This tastes great on day two so whip it up when you have time and enjoy as an after school snack!

1/2 c (1 stick) butter, room temp
1 c honey
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 c white whole wheat or whole wheat flour
1 c all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
large pinch of salt
3/4 c sour cream

Preheat the oven to 325.
Using a hand or stand mixer, combine the butter and honey until creamy.  Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth.  In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients and add half of the mixture to the honey mixture.  Mix slowly until starting to combine, and add half the sour cream.  Still mixing slowly, add the last of the dry ingredients and the last of the sour cream.  Mix until just barely combined, finishing by hand and scraping down the bowl at the end.  Pour batter into a greased and floured 9 inch cake pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool on the counter for 10 minutes or so, and then turn out onto a rack and let cool the rest of the way.  Slice into wedges and serve!

Whole Wheat Banana Bread

Whole Wheat Banana BreadOne look through my recipe archives and you know how much I love things made with banana.

It is not so much that it is my favorite flavor, but that it is just so dang easy to make.  Banana type baked goods are virtually guaranteed to come out naturally sweet, moist, and popular with everyone.  I always have bananas in the house and on the frequent occasion that I end up with some that are too ripe, it is a no brainer that having an arsenal of quick bread and muffin recipes is handy.

A few weeks ago, I decided to use up my rather large amount of soon to be mush bananas and make a quadruple batch of this Double Chocolate Banana Bread.  However after the first loaf, I realized that someone (not me) had used up all the cocoa powder (I didn’t do it) making hot chocolate (not I) and never added it to the grocery list (fine, it was me).  So I decided to do one of my favorite things: pull random cookbooks off my shelf and start rifling through them to find a new recipe.  I do this pretty often when I need a little extra inspiration, or when I just get bored with what I have been cooking.  With over 100 cookbooks in my possession (not including the 5000+ recipes on my computer) it could keep me busy for years.

Fortunately, the first cookbook I picked up was my Whole Grain Baking cookbook by King Arthur Flour and I had no need to go any further.  I found this recipe and immediately whipped it up.  A plain, straightforward, whole wheat banana bread was exactly what I was looking for.
Whole Wheat Banana BreadI made a few adjustments to accommodate what I had on hand.  And then I made it again.  And then again.  At one point in time, I even shmeared a few slices with cold, salty butter-OH my stars-which is something I rarely do with bread but may now have to do on a regular basis.  Butter.  Goooooood.

So just in case you were planning on searching high and low for a great whole wheat banana bread recipe, look no further.  I got ya covered.  And you don’t have to sift through 100 cookbooks to find it!
Whole Wheat Banana BreadWhole Wheat Banana BreadOne Year Ago: Upside Down Sausage & Mushroom Pizza Casserole & Lemon and Garlic Shrimp Linguini 
Two Years Ago: Lemon Potatoes & Buttermilk Brownies

Whole Wheat Banana Bread
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
As with all quick breads made with bananas, be sure to use over ripe fruit-as in past the point that you would eat it out of the hand.  The skin will have dark spots on it and they will be VERY fragrant.  This makes for a moist, sweet, banana-y flavored bread.  If you use fruit that is not over ripe, the flavor and texture will suffer.

3 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
1/4 c honey
2 eggs
1/3 c canola or grape seed oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c brown sugar
2 c whole wheat or white whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 c chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In the bowl of a stand mixer or other large mixing bowl, combine the first six ingredients until well incorporated.  Add the dry ingredients and combine until barely mixed.  Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix the last few turns by hand.  Fold in the walnuts.  Pour into a greased, standard loaf pan-about 9X5- and bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  If your bread is getting too brown near the end of baking time, tent a piece of foil over the top.  Remove from the oven and let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes or so, until it has a chance to set a bit, then turn it out onto a cooling rack and let it cool completely.  This freezes great and is quite fantastic for breakfast.

Slow Cooker Apple Oatmeal

Slow Cooker Apple OatmealSo, you know that I love oatmeal.

There are no shortages of oatmeal laden recipes on this blog and I am only getting started.  It is one of those ingredients that is an automatic ‘yes’ for me.  Dishes that call for making browned butter?  No time for that.  Anything at all that includes water chestnuts? Not happening.  But oatmeal?  Yes.  I don’t care what food it is, the answer is yes, yes, A THOUSAND TIMES YES!

Is that from a movie….?

Anyway, I am really loving the revival of the slow cooker that seems to be happening right now.  Anything that can go in a crock-pot is a hot ticket item and has become, dare I say it, trendy, in kitchens everywhere.  For my part, I have always used my slow cooker quite a bit.  The addition of children in my life gave me need to pull it out even more for obvious reasons.  I am not someone who bakes cheesecakes in my slow cooker or steams rolls overnight using some kind of fancy rigging system to suspend small pans in the crock pot.  But I have to admit that as much as I use it, breakfast never really occurred to me.  And when I started seeing overnight oatmeal recipes all over the web, I had one of those ‘slap your forehead’ type of moments.  Why had I not thought of this before?

I really love the Overnight Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal recipe that uses apple juice and extra spices that I previously posted.  It is very fast to put together and is extremely hardy and healthy.  This recipe, while containing some similar flavors, tastes completely different.  It has few ingredients and bakes up incredibly creamy.  It isn’t overly sweet, but somehow still seems like you are eating something extra special for breakfast.  Sort of like a really healthy apple pie and I find that most people have a hard time staying away from it.

And all thanks to that infamous slow cooker.
Slow Cooker Apple OatmealOne Year Ago: Garlic Parmesan Pull-Apart Bread & Creamy Tomato Soup
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Three Years Ago: Five-Minute Meatloaf & Enchilada Pie

Slow Cooker Apple Oatmeal
Inspired by Pinterest
If you have time to pop this in just before lunch and turn it on Hi instead of Low, it makes an outstanding after school snack.  As for apples, use whatever you have in your fridge, but generally, I try to avoid anything too sour.

Spray or butter the insert of a standard sized slow cooker.  In order, add:
2 apples, peeled and cored and sliced
1/2 c brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 c rolled oats-not quick cooking
4 c water

DO NOT STIR!  Cover and set on low for 6-8 hours.  I put this in right before I go to bed and it is done in time for my husband to eat some before he goes to work in the morning.  He turns it off, keeps the lid on, and it is still piping hot and ready for us when we get up for school!  Eat it as is or add a splash of milk, chopped walnuts or pecans, or even a handful of raisins or cranberries.  Leftovers are great reheated the next day.