September 27, 2016

Overnight Oats + Raspberry Chia Jam

Good morning, guys!

Have you ever tried overnight oats? You can buy them everywhere now, but honestly, it's much cheaper and super easy to make them at home.


The base for any recipe is pretty much the same. You add 2 parts of a liquid to 1 part oats. So for example, you would do 1 cup of old fashioned oats to 2 cups almond milk. Some variations are adding in Greek yogurt for a protein packed recipe or applesauce for an apple spice fall recipe. But I'm going to share my basic recipe for overnight oats with my favorite chia jam as a topping.


Overnight Oats + Raspberry Chia Jam

Makes 2-4 servings

Ingredients
1 cup old fashioned oats
2 cups almond milk (or milk of choice)
1 Tbsp chia seeds
2 Tbsp slivered almonds
1 Tbsp agave nectar or to taste
1 tsp vanilla extract

Chia Jam

2 cups raspberry (if using frozen, defrost first)
2 Tbsp chia seeds
2 Tbsp warm water
2-4 Tbsp honey

Directions for Chia Jam

1. Add all ingredients (start with 2 tablespoons of the honey) to a blender or food processor, and pulse until the it is the texture you prefer.
2. Taste and add more honey if you would like a sweeter jam.
3. Transfer the mixture to a container with a lid (I used a mason jar) and allow to set in the fridge, about an hour or overnight.

Directions for Overnight Oats
1. Add all ingredients to a medium container with a lid and stir to combine. Mixture will look watery, but will thicken up after sitting overnight in the fridge.
2. When ready to eat, stir oats around. Top with chia jam, nut butter, fruit, or toppings of choice.
*This recipe is very versatile, so add in whatever extras you'd like... goji berries, cacao powder, protein powder, nuts or seeds of choice. I personally like chia seeds because they help to thicken up the oat mixture and add texture.

Enjoy!

September 13, 2016

I'm Back! + Chewy Brown Butter Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies

Did you miss me??

I can't believe I haven't blogged in so long! Whew - my summer was jam packed! I was also not cooking very much. But now that my wedding is over (and I have memories to last a lifetime), I can get back into my routine.

First up, how about some cookies?!

I wasn't going to blog these originally because I wasn't sure how they'd taste. This is the only photo I snapped, so bear with me! They taste better than this picture looks.

These Chewy Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies were unbelievably good. Like, some of the best cookies I've ever made. I made them for my husband (omg, crazy to say that!) to take on his last day of work at his former employer. He started up his own business as a real estate broker this summer, but I used to send extra treats with him to his previous place of work and they loved me up there.

I got rave reviews about these cookies. In particular, the crunchiness of the caramel, the meltiness of the chocolate, the unique flavor of the cookie (that'd be the browned butter).

Check out the recipe and do yourself a favor: make these cookies! ;-)

Chewy Brown Butter Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 2-3 dozen cookies

Ingredients
1 cup butter, browned
1 1/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup quick or old fashioned oats (I used quick)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup caramel baking bits

Directions
1. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and whisk constantly until it just starts to brown and has a nutty scent (takes 5-10 minutes, but very worth it). Pour butter into a cool mixing bowl immediately after it starts to brown. Let cool.
2. Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar and stir until sugars are incorporated and smooth.
3. Stir in the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla.
4. Add the flour, oats, baking soda, ½ teaspoon salt, and cinnamon and mix together until just incorporated.
5. Fold in the chocolate chips and caramel bits until just incorporated.
6. Chill mixture for 1 hour.
7. Roll by hand into medium-size balls or use a scoop, and place on sheet pans. If desired, push in extra chips and bits over tops of dough mounds for a pretty appearance.
8. Preheat the oven to 325˚F, line baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper* and bake for 14-18 minutes, or until edges just start to turn golden brown. Allow to cool for several minutes on pan, then transfer to cooling rack.

*Note: caramel bits become a gooey, stuck on mess, so make sure you use parchment paper or Silpat baking mats!

Enjoy!

Jessica

June 8, 2016

My FAVORITE Banana Bread (chocolate chips, vegan + gluten free options)

Happy summer!!


I apologize for the gap in posts. I was finishing up my first year as a school counselor and the end of the year got a little crazy. Plus, I'm finishing up final wedding details and our social calendar has been going steady almost every weekend for the past couple of months.

Don't get me wrong, it's been an exciting time, but I haven't found the time to create new recipes, photograph them, and write posts. I am happy to report that I am now on summer break!! My first ever paid summer off. Such an amazing feeling! And even though my wedding is just a few days before I start back to work again next school year, I still hope to be able to post new recipes more frequently.


Today, I am posting my very favorite banana bread! I've made it probably 10 times and I'm surprised I haven't posted it before now. It's the most moist, flavorful banana bread I've ever had. Although I love traditional banana bread with walnuts, this chocolate chip version is out of this world. You could always sub out nuts for chocolate if you want to. You can also use gluten free flour and the recipe is vegan if using milk free chocolate or nuts.


As the temperature warms up, bananas seem to ripen quicker on my counter. I had three tired bananas that I was able to use up in this recipe. I also keep a bag of frozen bananas in my freezer. Check out these vegan banana ice cream bites and stay tuned for new ice cream recipes I want to try out this summer with my ice cream maker.

Jessica's Favorite Banana Bread

Makes 1 9x4" loaf or 1 9x4" and 1 mini loaf

Ingredients

2 cups All-Purpose Flour (gluten free if desired)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup canola oil
2/3 cup real maple syrup
2/3 cup cashew milk (almond, cow or milk of choice)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups mashed tired bananas (about 3 large)
1 cup chocolate chips (or leave out or sub nuts)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 325ºF and lightly grease a 9x4" loaf pan. (I used a loaf pan and a mini loaf pan because this recipe makes a lot of batter)
2. Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Add 1/3 cup oil, maple syrup, milk, and vanilla to the dry ingredients. Stir until smooth.
3. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the mashed bananas and chocolate chips.
4. Fill the prepared pan(s) halfway with batter.
5. Bake in the center of the oven for 25 minutes if using a mini loaf pan. Larger loaf will take 40-50 minutes. Cook until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the pan comes out clean.
6. Let the bread sit for 20 minutes before removing it from the pan. This is an especially moist bread, so it may not look completely done when you remove it. It firms up as it cools, but center may sink in a bit.

Enjoy!

May 4, 2016

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Banana Muffins with Chocolate Chips

I have had the biggest craving for muffins lately. I love pretty much all baked goods in general, but I am especially fond of breakfast pastries. Shopping at Sprouts I always pass the baked goods display and feel tempted... but in California the law makes a lot of food service providers list the calorie content of their products, and alas, 450 calories is just too high for me. But that's a-okay because I found the most delicious healthy muffin recipe that's gluten free, vegan, and has a surprise ingredient. Drum roll please... garbanzo beans!



You'll have to trust me that you absolutely cannot taste any "bean" aftertaste whatsoever. Just make sure you rinse and pat dry the beans before you blend them. These muffins are very moist and have a fudgier, more dense consistency than normal muffins. They taste better the next day, so if you can help it, let them rest for 24 hours before consuming. Or don't. They're still good fresh from the oven.


This recipe only makes for 8-9 regular sized muffins, so double the recipe if you want more. The chocolate chips are optional--improvise with nuts, chia seeds, or berries if you feel so inclined. Also, only fill the cups about 1/2 full. The muffins won't rise much as there's no flour and filling them to the top can result in the tops sinking in.


Gluten Free Peanut Butter Banana Muffins with Chocolate Chips
Adapted from here

Ingredients

1/2 cup quick oats
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking soda
1 medium (1/2 cup) mashed over-ripe banana
1 can garbanzo or white beans (drained and rinsed)
1/4 cup peanut butter or other nut butter
1/4 cup pure maple syrup or honey (I used agave because that's what I had on hand and it was great)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
optional handful mini chocolate chips, crushed walnuts, shredded coconut, pinch cinnamon, etc.

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and line 8-9 muffin cups.
2. Drain the beans and rinse extremely well, then pat dry. This is important because it gets rid of any bean taste.
3. Blend all ingredients until smooth in a blender or high-quality food processor.
4. Pour into the muffin cups – don’t overfill or they will rise and then sink in the centers. Bake 17-20 minutes. They will look underdone – let sit 20 minutes and they will firm up. Muffins last for 3-4 days refrigerated or 2-3 weeks frozen.


I hope you enjoy them as much as I did! Have a great week! :)

Jessica

April 25, 2016

Baked Pretzel Crusted Chicken Bites


Are you looking for a kid-friendly or even spouse-friendly healthy food option that everyone can enjoy? Then look no further! These pretzel crusted chicken bites are the perfect appetizer, snack, or main course. Serve them up with a side of baked sweet potato fries and you have an easy, crowd-pleasing meal even the pickiest of eaters are sure to love. You don't even have to tell them the chicken bites are baked. The crunch on the outside, tender chicken on the inside, and great flavor could fool anyone.


I like mine with ketchup and Greg prefers honey mustard or BBQ sauce. It felt like we were eating a "bad" meal, but in reality, it was pretty healthy. Next time we're going to try using gluten free flour and pretzels, so I'll update you on how they turn out once I do.


You can serve these little guys as an appetizer with toothpicks or have as your main dish. Either way, everyone will love them!

Pretzel Crusted Chicken Bites
Adapted from Sally

Ingredients
1 and 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts or tenders
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (or all-purpose)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2-3 large eggs
1 and 1/2 cups finely crushed pretzel thins (or more, as needed)
nonstick spray like PAM, olive oil spray, or coconut oil spray

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). Line a large baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or coat heavily with nonstick spray.

2. If using chicken breasts, pound down and cut into little 1-1.5 inch pieces. If using boneless, skinless chicken tenders simply cut into 1-1.5 inch pieces.

3. Combine flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Beat eggs in another shallow dish. Pour pretzels into a third shallow dish. Coat each chicken piece in flour, shaking off any excess. Then, dip in egg and let any excess drip off. Then generously roll in the pretzels, shaking off any excess. Add more crushed pretzels to the dish if you are running low. Place the chicken bites on the prepared baking sheet.

4. Bake for 8 minutes. Turn each piece over and continue baking until the outside is crisp and the centers are cooked through, about 6-8 minutes more. Baking times may vary, just make sure yours are cooked through. If you like them more brown, bake longer. Serve chicken bites with toothpicks (if using as an appetizer), honey mustard, or cheese sauce. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Enjoy!

Jessica

April 11, 2016

Skinny Green Curry Coconut Chicken {gluten free, dairy free}

Hi!

I have been craving curry and coconut flavors lately. It might be because our wedding venue is Polynesian, so those flavors are always on my mind? Not sure. Whatever the reason, I spotted the Thai Green Curry simmer sauce at Trader Joe's the other day and I had to buy it.


For some color and extra nutrition, I added some diced red bell pepper and sauteed spinach at the end. The result was quite beautiful and tasty! It's spring time here in San Diego and we have gorgeous flowers blooming all over our yard. I added my favorite blossom to the plate for an extra special touch. :-)


This dish is very easy to make and can be easily altered to taste. The sauce is pretty mild, so even skeptics will enjoy a new menu item for dinner. Serve with brown rice, quinoa, and sub out chicken for tofu if you're a vegetarian.

Green Curry Coconut Chicken
Makes 3-4 servings

Ingredients

1/4-1/2 diced red bell pepper
1/4 diced yellow onion
3 small chicken breasts, cubed
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 jar Trader Joe's Thai Green Curry simmer sauce (or sauce of choice)
salt and pepper to taste

Optional: steamed brown rice or other starch

Directions
1. Cube chicken breasts and saute in coconut oil on medium high until cooked through. Set chicken aside and cover.
2. Add diced red bell peppers and onions to pan using juice and oil from pan. Cook until onions are soft and translucent.
3. Add chicken back to pan. Pour about 1/2 cup of sauce and stir to coat chicken and veggies.
4. Add about a handful of fresh spinach and stir until leaves are wilted. Add more sauce if necessary or to taste.
5. Serve immediately over rice or quinoa.

This makes delicious leftovers, too!

Enjoy!

Jessica

March 14, 2016

Honey Lime + Mint Fruit Salad

My grandma used to make a fruit salad with chopped up bananas, fruit cocktail, and walnuts. Even though it was the easiest salad in the world to make, I just loved it. It was the best after it sat in the fridge for awhile and got really cold. My favorite part was the mushy bananas. ;-)


Even though I love my grandma's recipe, it's starting to be strawberry time in San Diego, so I was inspired to try something new. This Honey Lime + Mint Fruit Salad kicks up a regular old fruit salad a notch with a zesty citrus honey flavor and fresh mint aftertaste. You can use whatever fruit you prefer, but I think strawberries are a must in this one.

Honey Lime + Mint Fruit Salad
Makes 1 medium sized bowl

Ingredients

2 cups sliced strawberries
2 medium bananas, sliced
1/2 container fresh blueberries
3 Tbsp fresh mint, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice (this was equal to 1 1/2 limes, but it depends how juicy your limes are)
1 Tbsp honey or agave (I actually prefer agave because it goes really well with lime juice; margarita, anyone?)

Directions
1. Chop up all fruit and mint and toss together in a medium to large bowl.
2. Juice limes until you have 2 Tbsp of juice, then mix with 1 Tbsp honey or agave.
3. Pour juice over fruit and mix to coat.
4. Eat right away or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Enjoy your bowl full of sunshine!

xoxo,

Jessica
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