Cinnamon Apple Bread

Have you gone apple picking yet? We went over the weekend, and I promised my kids we would experiment with lots of apple recipes over the next few weeks.

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The kids first suggested we bake Apple Bread. This recipe turned out amazing! The bread complimented my coffee this morning, my husband devoured a piece straight from the oven, and both of my kids ate breakfast without a fuss.

This recipe is simple to make and uses simple ingredients. My kids can pretty much do everything themselves now (they are growing up too fast!), except I chopped the apple. They cracked the eggs, mixed the batter, layered the apples and sprinkled on the cinnamon sugar. Happy Fall everyone!

Cinnamon Apple Bread

Ingredients:

1 large apple- diced (If you feel ambitious, you can peel off the skin.)

8 tbsp butter/1 stick

2/3 cup white sugar

2 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

1 ¼ cup white flour

1 tsp baking powder

½ cup nonfat milk

½ cup brown sugar

1 tbsp cinnamon

Directions:

1.)  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.)  Spray loaf pan with baking spray.

3.)  In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

4.)  In a mixing bowl, blend butter, sugar, vanilla and eggs. Mix until smooth. Slowly add in flour, baking powder and milk. Mix.

5.)  Pour half the batter into the loaf pan. Evenly layer diced apple into batter and sprinkle on brown sugar and cinnamon mixture until completely covering apple layer. Pour remaining batter over apples.

6.)  For the topping, evenly layer apples over the top of the batter. Sprinkle on cinnamon sugar mixture.

7.)  Bake 50-52 minutes or until bread is baked through.

Vegan Banana Pineapple Bread

No one was happy in my house about losing an hour of sleep today and rushing out the door to my son’s basketball playoffs. To lift everyone’s sprits, we baked!

I had ripe bananas and cut up pineapple and thought that might be a naturally sweet nutritious combo! My daughter and I mashed and stirred. I thought I was going to get away without adding any chocolate, but at the last minute, she insisted on chocolate chips. That was definitely the right call! This is now my FAVORITE banana bread recipe! Simple and healthy ingredients that taste so good!

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Vegan Banana Pineapple Banana Bread

Ingredients:

2 ripe bananas- mashed

1/2 cup diced pineapple

½ cup white sugar

1 ¾ cup whole wheat flour

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp vanilla

½ cup applesauce

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

*3/4 cup chocolate chips optional

Directions:

1.)  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.)  Combine all ingredients until smooth.

3.)  Bake for 45-50 minutes.

Simple Hamentaschen Cookies

My kids begged to bake hamentaschen cookies after school today. I have never baked these and was intimidated by the task of making the dough. I looked up a couple of recipes and settled on this one for its simplicity and because I had all of the ingredients. These cookies also double as delicious butter cookies if you want an easy butter cookie recipe.

My kids had fun softening the butter to room temperature by squeezing the sticks of butter until they felt mushy. They only cracked one egg on the floor and turned the mixer to its highest speed exploding flour everywhere! Waiting for the dough to chill completely was the hardest part for them. Despite my apprehension and the mess we made, these turned out AMAZING!

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Ingredients:

¾ cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature (3 sticks of butter)

2/3 cup white sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 egg, room temperature

1tsp grated lemon zest

2 ¼ cup white flour, plus extra flour for making the hamentaschen when it starts to get sticky

¼ tsp salt

1-5 tsp water

Directions:

1.)  Slice butter into squares and then add to mixer bowl. Add sugar and vanilla. Mix at low speed.

2.)  Add egg and lemon zest and mix.

3.)  Slowly add flour and salt and mix on slow speed. If the dough seems too crumbly, add a little water.

4.)  Make a giant ball of dough, wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight. Or if you have kids helping, you can divide the dough into equal giant piles and wrap separately.

5.)  After completely chilled, remove dough from plastic wrap.

6.)  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

7.)  Roll dough to about ¼ inch thick or as thin as you can without ripping it. I found it easiest to roll dough into balls and then flatten into thin circles on a parchment paper lined baking tray.

8.)  Take whatever filling you prefer- Nutella, chocolate chips or jam and place 1 tsp in the middle.

9.)  Fold the edges into triangles and bake 22-27 minutes or until golden brown.

Granola Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches

Granola is not just for breakfast! It tastes delicious in one of my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes. This recipe is healthier than the typical chocolate chip cookie, but I promise, it tastes just as decadent! And with it being summer, my kids turn these cookies into ice cream cookie sandwiches! This is super fun to make after camp and super fun to eat for dessert! Get messy! Have fun! And eat healthy!

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Granola Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cookie Recipe

Ingredients:

1 ½ stick unsalted butter- softened

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

½ cup white sugar

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

1 cup quick oats

2 cups or 4 servings of Jolly Oak Granola in Nut Free Dark Chocolate Coconut Raisin

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp sea salt

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Your favorite ice cream flavor

Toppings for sides of cookie: sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, mini M&Ms, etc.

Directions:

1.)  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2.)  In a large bowl, mix butter, applesauce, white sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla.  Add eggs, oats, granola, flour, baking soda, and salt.  Mix.

3.)  Add chocolate chips.

4.)  Bake cookies 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow cookies time to cool before making them into ice cream sandwiches or the ice cream will melt once it touches the hot cookie.

5.)  Leave desired ice cream flavor out about 15 minutes before planning to make the sandwiches.

6.)  Using a spoon, scoop out ice cream and cover one side of cookie with ½ inch thick of ice cream. Top ice cream with another cookie.

7.)  For extra kid fun and a mess (sorry!), on separate plates, pour out toppings for the sides of the cookies- rainbow sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, mini M&Ms, and coconut flakes, etc. Have fun making up your own!

8.)  Roll each cookie so that the ice cream is covered.

9.)  If not eating right away, use parchment paper on a baking sheet or in a container so cookie sandwiches don’t stick and place cookies into freezer until ready to eat!

Healthy Turkey Burger Recipe

Summer brings lots of BBQs and burgers! I love all kinds from the typical greasy cheeseburger, healthy veggie burger, and my favorite, a turkey burger! Here is my stand by turkey burger recipe that will satisfy any burger craving.

My kids get SUPER messy with this recipe! I let them do all the hard work by using their hands to mush and mix the ingredients together and then form the perfect patties. It is quite entertaining to watch and a great pre-dinner activity! Get messy (sorry this one is really messy)! Have fun! And eat healthy!

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Ingredients– serves 4

1 ½  lbs ground white turkey breast

¼ cup seasoned breadcrumbs

½ red onion- diced

¼ cup ketchup

4 slices Swiss cheese or American cheese

sea salt to taste

pepper to taste

Directions:

1.)   In a big bowl, mix together the meat, breadcrumbs, onion, and ketchup.

2.)   Make 4 patties and season both sides with salt and pepper.

3.)   Use an outdoor grill or grill pan indoors and cook both sides of the burger until cooked through.

4.)   Top burger with cheese until it melts if desired and finish off with your favorite burger fixings such as avocado, lettuce, tomato, ketchup, mustard, etc.

Healthy Fruit & Yogurt Popsicles

I haven’t tried this recipe for Fruit and Yogurt Popsicles yet, but it is our morning activity to enjoy for later this sunny afternoon! My kids love when I put them in charge of recipes. They are always entertained using the blender and watching it crush everything. Creating their own popsicle is going to be a fun and healthy treat! No scary Red 40 ingredient usually found in popsicles here!

For a fun bonus, allow your kids to use their imagination and put out a variety of sweet additions for everyone to make their popsicle their own. I am thinking rainbow sprinkles (for my daughter), mini chocolate chips (for me), and crushed Oreos (for my son)! Get messy! Have fun! And eat healthy!

What flavor popsicles did your family make?

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Fresh Fruit and Yogurt Popsicles

 Ingredients:

2 cups your kids favorite fruit- any berry or bananas work great

2 cups vanilla yogurt or plain yogurt

¼ cup honey

½ cup Rainbow sprinkles or mini chocolate chips or crushed Oreos- you pick!!

10 small Dixie cups- 4 ounce size

10 wooden sticks

Directions:

1.)  In a blender, combine fresh fruit, yogurt and honey until smooth.

2.)  Fill paper cups about ¾ full and cover each cup with aluminum foil.

3.)  Poke a stick through the center of the foil of each cup.

4.)  Make room in your freezer and freeze for at least 5 hours.

5.)  To serve, defrost for about 5-8 minutes and then peel off foil and cups.

Baked Whole Wheat Pita Chips and Practicing Shapes

We are going on a boat ride today! For our boat picnic, we were asked to pack a snack. I noticed a package of unopened pita in the corner of my kitchen, which sparked one of my favorite easy healthy snack recipes! Homemade baked pita chips!

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I was diligently cutting (use cooking scissors- makes cutting so easy) the pita into triangles, when my son who was waiting patiently to paint on the olive oil, suggested we cut the pita into all different shapes! He would call out the shape and I would cut it. Learning, cooking, and laughing at the same time!

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Get creative with shapes!

My son was excited to paint each shape with olive oil and sprinkle on the spices. Best of all, he LOVED our homemade pita chips! He ate so many before we even boarded the boat! The rest of our friends also enjoyed this crunchy, healthy, and delicious snack! Get messy! Have fun! And eat healthy!

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5 simple ingredients.

Baked Pita Chips:

1 package whole wheat pita bread- I bought whole wheat high fiber pita from Whole Foods

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp sea salt

1 tbsp pepper- freshly grinded

1 tbsp dried oregano

1.)  Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut pita into triangles or your child’s favorite shapes. Get creative!

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2.)  Lay pita shapes onto a large baking sheet and lightly spread oil over each shape.

3.)  Sprinkle each pita shape with salt, pepper, and oregano.

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Cooking with our Farmers Market Finds

Today was a long work day but I had so much basil from the Farmers Market this weekend, I had to cook with basil! Although my son said he was exhausted from his long day of camp, the minute I started pounding the chicken, he was at my side to help! Making a mess, of course, but helping!

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Fresh Basil. Smells so yummy!

Both my kids wanted to use the basil and the yellow zucchini they picked out themselves this weekend. They were excited to rinse the basil, rip it, and add it to the chicken and vegetables!

My husband, my sister (in town visiting for Lollapalooza), my children, and I sat around the table for a healthy and yummy family dinner! I was extremely happy with the way our farmers market finds turned into an amazing dinner! Get messy! Have fun! And eat healthy!

Basil Lemon Chicken Recipe:

1 ½ lbs chicken breasts- pounded thin

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 lemon- fresh squeezed

salt to taste

pepper to taste

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp fresh basil- shredded

1.)  Pound chicken breasts thin.

2.)  In a bowl, add chicken, sprinkle on salt and pepper to taste, dried spices, lemon juice, olive oil, and fresh basil.

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Marinating the chicken.

3.)  Cover with aluminum foil and marinate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 hours.

4.)  Grill chicken, about 6 minutes on each side or until cooked through.

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Loved the sweet taste of yellow zucchini.

Yellow Zucchini and Broccoli with Basil Recipe:

2 yellow zucchini- sliced thin

2 bunches broccoli- chopped into bite size pieces

2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

salt to taste

pepper to taste

garlic powder to taste

2 cups marinara sauce

1 cup Parmesan cheese- freshly shredded

1 tbsp fresh basil- shredded

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We used the basil! It was delicious!

1.)  In a large pan on medium high heat, add olive oil and vegetables.

2.)  Sprinkle on salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

3.)  Stir vegetables frequently for 5 minutes.

4.)  Lower heat to medium low and pour in marinara sauce. Stir for 1 minute.

5.)  Add Parmesan cheese and basil. Stir for 3 minutes. Serve along side Basil Chicken.

Do You Like S’mores?

I have an easy amazingly delicious cookie recipe to share! I combined my 4 ingredient healthy, gluten free peanut butter cookie with my favorite campfire summer treat- S’MORES!

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To fully capture the decadence of this cookie, I collaborated with a new mom friend who I met through a Chicago Moms In Business Group. Turns out, we live 3 blocks from each other and both have two kids to chase after.

Shayna, who owns Shayna Hardy Photography, promptly arrived with her two boys for a play date and business meeting! While the kids played with trains, we discussed balancing work (my food and legal writing and her family photography business) and mommyhood.

Shayna offered wonderful photographing tips, took beautiful photographs of our baking play date, and I supplied the recipe and the food! This could be one of the easiest yummiest cookie recipes ever and anything with S’mores is super fun and delicious for everyone! Get messy! Have fun! And eat healthy!

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4 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookie with S’mores Recipe:

2 cups creamy natural peanut butter or 1 15oz jar

¾ cup white sugar

1 egg

1 tsp baking soda

3 sheets graham crackers- break into rectangles

1 chocolate bar- break into rectangles

5 big marshmallows- pull apart into halves

baking spray

1.)  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2.)  Combine first 4 ingredients into a mixing bowl until smooth.

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3.)  On a greased baking sheet, take a spoonful of batter and roll into a ball and flatten onto baking sheet.

4.)  On the bottom layer of PB batter, add a rectangle of graham cracker, top with a rectangle of chocolate, and lastly top with marshmallow.

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5.)  Take another spoonful of batter, roll into a ball, flatten, and press firmly over S’mores and connect top layer of batter to bottom layer of batter.

6.)  Place cookies at least 1 inch apart. My batter produced 9 big cookies.

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7.)  Bake cookies for 12 minutes or until the edges appear golden brown.

8.)  Allow cookies to cool before digging in (I know this is hard!) but when they first come out of the oven, they are crumbly and the marshmallow needs time to deflate.

9.)  These PB cookies are ridiculously delicious alone too!

Healthy Honey Chicken with Cashews

Today was a VERY LONG day! I had one child home sick and one child home not sick. Lucky me, we all stayed home! By the end of the day, I had washed four loads of laundry, watched way too much Dora the Explorer and Curious George, built a LEGO battle tower, painted rocks, begged my husband to come home early from work, and could not wait to cook dinner. (I am serious, I look forward to cooking!)

As my son’s fever broke (finally), he regained his appetite and asked for chicken! As I started chopping and both kids pushed chairs over to see what I was doing, I felt a sense of calm. They helped mix the sauce and stir the vegetables.

My son devoured two servings, my daughter ate her entire plate, and my husband enjoyed his dinner so much he put both kids to bed! The day turned out okay after all! The night ended with my husband and I watching a Friday Night Lights episode. The perfect ending to the day. Get messy! Have fun! And eat healthy!

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Healthy Honey Chicken with Cashews Recipe:

olive oil cooking spray

3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce

3 tbsp honey

3 tbsp sesame oil

1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts- cut into bite size pieces (cooking scissors are easiest)

1 red pepper- chopped

1 broccoli bunch- chopped

1/2 cup cashew- whole or pieces

1.)   Take out one large pan for the vegetables and one medium pan for the chicken.

2.)   In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, honey, and sesame oil.

3.)   On medium high heat, spray large pan with cooking spray and add chopped vegetables and cashews. Pour ½ of sauce on top of veggies and turn heat to medium high. Cook 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4.)   Heat the medium pan on medium high heat, spray oil and add chicken pieces. Pour remaining sauce on top of chicken. Sauté chicken for 6-8 minutes or until chicken looks golden in color.

5.)   Once chicken is cooked, transfer to vegetable pan, stir on medium for 1 minute.

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*Any vegetables taste great with this healthy dish. Have your family decide what vegetables they want to eat and make it your own! Or, throw in whatever vegetables you happen to have in your refrigerator! This dish pairs perfectly with brown rice, quinoa, or a baked sweet potato.