Nutella Goodness

I have really been enjoying Pinterest lately and pinning to my heart’s content on my boards labeled Inspiration, I Run, Hmmm, For My Home, and Yummy Recipes, just to name a few.

Last night I stumbled across an incredibly easy recipe with only three ingredients. My daughter LOVES Nutella so this afternoon I thought I’d give it a try. Besides, there was NO ADDED SUGAR in this recipe so it must be semi-healthy, right?!

1 cup Nutella
1 whole egg
1 cup flour

Bake 6-8 minutes at 350 degrees.

Yes, peeps, that was IT! The mix seemed a bit crumbly, particularly the 2nd batch, so when I used my cookie scoop I used my hands to compress them a little more.  These cookies were delicious and all of my children (and yes, ME!) liked them. Definitely an easy recipe and one to have on hand since it doesn’t take long to bake and very easy to just pop in the oven for a quick dessert when the oven’s already on! This recipe made 24 small cookies, about an inch in diameter. Yum, yum!

Nutella cookies

Nutella cookies

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Baked Banana Bread Oatmeal

I’m really good at pinning recipes on Pinterest and saving them to my page on Facebook but I rarely get around to making them.  Possibly because they’re in a virtual file and in the case of Facebook as they go further down my feed, I don’t see them again! I’ve been focusing on healthy breakfasts for awhile and since my stash of banana muffins in the deep freezer is nearly depleted, I thought I’d try something new!

I shared this recipe on my Facebook page and actually got around to making it this time!  The link is right here:  http://www.confessionsofacookingdiva.com/2014/06/19/baked-banana-bread-oatmeal/

The finished product - Baked Banana Bread Oatmeal

The finished product – Baked Banana Bread Oatmeal

Ingredients:
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • a couple of handful of slivered walnuts. Buy the pre-packaged kind in the baking aisle.
  • 1½ cups milk
  • 2½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray an 8×8 casserole with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, mash the bananas. Add the brown sugar, eggs, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and walnuts. Mix well.
  3. Add the milk and mix until smooth.
  4. Add the oats and mix well. Pour into the casserole dish.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes. Top should be a golden brown.
  6. Allow to cool and then dish into single-serving leftover containers.

Verdict:

Delish! I was very pleased that it actually LOOKED like the picture!  It was very moist and filling, just like the website said. I didn’t put the walnuts in 1) because I didn’t have any, and 2) the kids aren’t fond of nuts.  Too bad, because next time I’m definitely putting them in!  I would highly recommend this recipe and my children liked it too.  It warmed up nicely and the kid warmed it up on their own for a quick, easy, healthy breakfast. Yum!

4th of July Goodies

My husband’s brother’s family was traveling in to visit for the 4th this year and I wanted to make something healthier for desserts to along with our typical hamburger cookout.  The thought of making the Jello thing from last year didn’t appeal to me so I checked out Pinterest again for some new ideas.

This first one was incredibly easy.  3 kinds of yogurt and a bit of food coloring. Extra fruit optional.  Delicious!

Yogurt Popsicles

Yogurt Popsicles

I already buy the big containers of vanilla yogurt so this time I bought one of strawberry as well.  In the 2 stores that I checked they didn’t have blueberry ones so I ended up buying some smaller containers and scooping out what I needed from those.  I should have added some blue food coloring to the blueberry yogurt as it turned out more purple than blue but oh well!  They were all very flavorful!  I put them in small Dixie-equivalent cups and used popsicle sticks. I actually have popsicle makers but they were so large that I thought the yogurt would get wasted.  These are perfect and I still can still rinse and recycle them when they’re done.

Next, watermelon!  A little time consuming using my cookie cutters to make the star shapes but they sure looked cool!  I had an extra bowl for the extra cut offs that went around the shape so there wasn’t anything wasted.

Star shaped watermelon pieces

Star shaped watermelon pieces

Last but not least was a cookie, cream cheese concoction that did require me to buy a mini muffin pan but I’ve been wanting one for quite some time so the $5.96 that I spent at Walmart for said pan will be well-worth it, I’m sure.  I bought 2 small Betty Crocker packets of sugar cookie dough (the bigger one was all sold out) for $1 each to make the base.  I had enough to fill all 24 muffins and make 6 extra cookies.  The recipe called for 2 cups of cream cheese but I didn’t even use a whole one (reduced fat, of course!) and it was plenty!  I used my pastry stuff that used to be my Grandma’s — ah, a trip down memory lane.

Cookies baked, now adding the cream cheese!

Cookies baked, now adding the cream cheese!

I added fresh blueberries and strawberries to finish it off with the red,white and blue theme, also on sale at $0.99 each with leftovers that we will eat without any problems.  We eat a lot of fruit at our house! These were perfect little bite size cookies that were indeed delicious. Yum! No leftovers of these when the night was over and done with!  I don’t feel bad in the least that the majority of it was healthy(ish!) I hope you were able to enjoy a safe and enjoyable Independence Day with fun, family and friends!

Flag cupcakes ready to go!

Flag cupcakes ready to go!

P.S. Just in case you’re wondering, the rest of our menu looked like this: hamburgers, veggie burgers, salmon burgers, hot dogs, baked beans, grilled fresh green beans, green lettuce salad with homegrown tomatoes, jello salad “green stuff” (a specific request from my daughter), 3 bean salad on wheat flat buns or white buns. There were a few brownies and some baked chips for the kids as well as cantaloupe. We were blessed to have such delicious food!

Banana Crumb Muffins

I had some bananas sitting, overripe, on the counter – again! – but didn’t want to make the same old, same old banana muffin recipe.  So I googled (is that a verb?!) one and thought I’d try something new.  This one popped up from Allrecipes.com called Banana Crumb Muffins. OMGosh!  Absolutely delish! If I don’t get them in the freezer soon, I’ll have eaten them all!

Banana Crumb Muffin

Banana Crumb Muffin

Banana Crumb Muffin

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 bananas – mashed
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tbsps all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp butter
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Lightly grease muffin cups or line with paper cups.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg, and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared cups.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tbsps flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse oatmeal.  Sprinkle topping over muffins.
  4. Bake in a preheated oven, 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean.

Prep Time: 15 minutes           Bake Time: 20 minutes

Verdict: Absolutely yummy!  My entire family liked them!  The crumb topping was a nice addition and I didn’t use it all, so that could be something I could cut back on.  I doubled the recipe since I had 7 bananas to use up and it made 30 regular-size muffins.  Even though I used paper liners, they seemed greasier and I had to wash the pans, something I avoid doing!  Definitely a keeper.  I froze some of them so hopefully the crumb topping won’t be a soggy mess when they defrost!

Meatless Monday Pasta

My daughter has recently decided to become a vegetarian for personal health reasons.  Our family doesn’t eat a whole lot of meat anyway, primarily fish & chicken but I’m a sucker for a good, juicy hamburger.  Last night we tried a recipe that I had pulled out of a Ladies’ Home Journal from March 2009!  It did look good, and with it being meat-free, it was perfect. There wasn’t an actual title of the recipe so I improvised (of course!).

Mushroom & Spinach Pasta

Work: 10 minutes          Total:  20 minutes

  • 6 oz. dried farfalle (bow-tie pasta)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup sliced portobello or other fresh mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups spinach, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp shredded Parmesan

1.  Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.

2.  In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion, mushrooms and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir in spinach, thyme and pepper and cook until spinach is slightly wilted, about 1 minute.

3.  Toss mushroom and spinach mixture with pasta and sprinkle with cheese.

Makes 4 servings Per serving: 225 calories, 5.5 g total fat, 1 g sat fat, 66 mg sodium, 37 g carbs, 2 mg chol, 9 g protein, 3 g fiber.

mushroom and spinach pasta

mushroom and spinach pasta

Sooooo . . . how was it?  Although somewhat, my husband and daughter added quite a bit of salt.  It seemed to be missing something – chicken, perhaps, suggested my husband?  My daughter thought that it would taste better with halved tomatoes (fresh my garden would be absolutely yum. . . ).  My changes? I used whole grain penne pasta instead of bow-tie as I can’t find it in whole-wheat and I used dried thyme instead of fresh (which daughter claimed had a funny texture). I used fresh cremini mushrooms which are supposed to be more flavorful than the classic white button mushroom. I’m not sure if I’ll make it again or not.  It might be a good side but not as an entire meal.  My youngest son had chicken nuggets, pasta and applesauce as I knew he wouldn’t eat it. Maybe I could add chicken or another protein that would make it a heartier meal.  The magazine claimed that “mushrooms make a fantastic substitute” for meat and that this meal is “fast, filling and super low in fat”, which sounds fabulous if it actually works!

Sweet Easter Treats

I made not one, but TWO new Easter recipes this past weekend! Shocker, I know!!

The first caught my eye on Pinterest where a fellow pinner had already found this. I made it with a confetti cake mix and a little over 1 tub of vanilla frosting and not quite 2 packages of bunny peeps.  I already had the sprinkles and saved a few of Cadbury’s chocolate eggs to decorate the top with.  I froze both cakes on Saturday so I could frost them easier on Sunday. Super moist and delicious, even if it WAS a box!   Too cute! I took this one over to my brother’s for dessert for Easter lunch. It was almost totally devoured with my little niece adoring the bunny peeps!

Almost too cute to eat!

Almost too cute to eat!

The second one was in a magazine that looked really good and seemed healthier than some of the other cakes, particularly since it involved angel food cake and pudding! Since I’d torn the recipe out of the magazine, there wasn’t a name of where I got it from anywhere on the page but at the bottom is does say 2014 Kraft Foods.

What the magazine picture looked like . . .

What the magazine picture looked like . . .

Easy Layered Boston Cream Pie

  • 1 pkg (3.4 oz) Jell-O Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding
  • 1 1/2 cups cold milk
  • 1 1/2 cups thawed Cool Whip Whipped Topping, divided
  • 1 pkg (10 oz) prepared angel food cake, cut horizontally into 3 layers
  • 2 oz. Baker’s semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

PREP: 15 min.                            MAKES: 8 servings

1) BEAT pudding mix and milk in medium bowl with whisk 2 min. Stir in 1/2 cup Cool Whip.

2) STACK cake layers on plate, spreading pudding mixture between layers.

3) MICROWAVE chocolate and remaining Cool Whip in microwaveable bowl on HIGH 30 sec; stir until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is well blended. Spoon over cake. Refrigerate 1 hour.

What mine looked like. So. not. the. same.

What mine looked like. So. not. the. same.

VERDICT: It was a yummy, light dessert though and since I’d made it with the sugar-free jell-o and skim milk, there weren’t a lot of calories to it. I used a box mix for the angel food cake that I had never made before. My hubby and I really liked it and the 2 younger kids did, too. Maybe next time mine will look more like the picture – especially if I BUY the angel food cake! lol

Bonus – Snow Days!

A partial view of the front steps of my house. You can't see the bottom step at all due to the snow!

A partial view of the front and steps to my house. It didn’t accumulate on the bench but you can’t see the bottom step at all due to the snow!

What would you do if you were given the gift of extra days off from work due to the weather? I was hoping for one – yes, just one – but ended up with three.  I had a great time catching up on my to-do list. The children? Not so much. They didn’t want to go outside (too cold and actually the wind chill the 2nd day was not safe) and electronics dominated their days.

Day 1:

  • a minimum of 3 hours catching up on grading with several cups of hot green tea. That was rewarding enough- just getting caught up!
  • made 2 wheat beer breads from Tastefully Simple mixes and a double batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for the children.
  • went through younger son’s closet to find clothes that he didn’t like/wear any more for either a consignment sale or for the garage sale this spring
  • did son’s taxes so he could get his refund – still need to do the state 😦
  • organized basement and cleared off one bookshelf for oldest son who was voluntarily cleaning and reorganizing his room.
  • shoveled the driveway – 6″ minimum of it with some drifting. At least we can get the cars out now!
  • organized the laundry room cabinet, wiped down the units, made new dust rags from old t-shirts.
  • read an old Eating Clean magazine looking for ideas for new recipes

Day 2:

  • slept in – yay!
  • made a batch of banana muffins with the last 2 bananas I had in my freezer (a first for me – usually I clean them out during summer!)
  • made a from scratch brownie recipe for the children
  • taped off and primed the vanity in the upstairs bath
  • posted 3 items on Ebay
  • painted the first coat on the vanity in the upstairs bath
  • did some touch up painting in the same bathroom
  • painted the master bath door to get ride of the scratched off paint from my parents’ dog that passed away 2 years ago (yeah, I know that should have been done a loooonnnnggg time ago. . . )
  • ran 4 1/2 miles on the basement treadmill
  • watched one of my favorite shows, Modern Family, while knitting a new scarf project
  • read my new Runner’s World magazine before bed

Day 3:

  • slept in again! I could definitely get used to getting up at 8 am as opposed to 5:45 am!
  • painted second coat on the vanity in the upstairs bath
  • organized linen closet and added more things to the sale pile
My wonderfully organized linen closet!

My wonderfully organized linen closet!

  • completed 2 loads of laundry (washed, dried AND put away)
  • ventured out on the roads to go to Lowe’s so I can get the towel rack for the bathroom as well as knobs for the painted vanity
  • also went to Michael’s for more yarn for my knitting projects
  • also went to Walmart for a photo I had delivered there to go in my new Keystone frame as well as pick up some more fruit
  • painted the vanity AGAIN including the doors AGAIN
  • lined the vanity and the drawers with new liner – love the red!
  • took Buddy to Lillie’s house to play in the snow. He loves play dates with my Mum & Dad’s dog!
  • went to a Girl Scout cookie meeting – yes! Cookies!! We can start selling Saturday, February 8th!
The painted vanity without the doors. Can you see the red liner? Still have to put up the towel holder and knobs. VERY pleased!

The painted vanity without the doors. Can you see the red liner? Still have to put up the towel holder and knobs. VERY pleased!

I have accomplished a lot these past few days while the snow was a-blowin’ and the temperatures droppin’. It feels good to have gotten something accomplished and I’m more than ready to go back to work again . . . even if it is just for a day before the weekend!!