Baked Apple Yogurt Parfait, What we are Eating

DSC_0608It is Monday again and once again I am pondering what to write, what to eat, and what needs to be done this week.  As I said in late August this is my busy season.  What does that mean exactly?  I am not sure, but I keep thinking it as it just seems that between all the back to school stuff, holidays, and family celebrations, I lose focus because I have so many things going on.  Whereas each year late winter, spring I find myself pining for things to do, such as this project: starting a blog.  Well my post may be more sporadic for the next few months, but I do not want to bore my readers so when I do post, I want it to be a recipe or something that I feel is worthwhile sharing.

Over the past few years, we have become parfait people.  I say we, but really it is Little Miss Mixture who can eat this daily.  There are recipes for beautiful yogurt parfaits all over the internet, but really a parfait does not need to be beautiful and you can make a single serving very easily.  A parfait by definition is a a dessert containing layers of ice cream, fruit, etc. served in a tall glass, so by definition maybe what we eat is not exactly a parfait, but yet a yogurt sundae.  A sundae is defined as a dish of ice cream with added ingredients.  Regardless of what you choose to call it a breakfast like this is simple, healthy, and balanced.  An excellent way to start your day.

IMG_33124th of July Breakfast Parfaits

With the burst of cool air and storms that were expected this weekend if finally started to feel like fall.  Fall to me is about apples.  In years past I have baked apples and I remembered Ihad a recipe for a simple microwaved apple dish.  Using the basis of this but making some changes so as to use honey rather than sugar, I came up with this healthy breakfast.

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Baked Apple Yogurt Parfait   ( Serves 4)

3 Apples, Chopped

1/4 cup Dried Cranberries

1/4 Cup Chopped Walnuts

2 Tbsp. Ground Cinnamon

1/4 Cup Honey

1/4 cup Water

Combine all ingredients in a glass or ceramic baking dish.  Microwave for about 6-8 minutes or until apples are soft and water has evaporated.

Serve with yogurt of choice ( Vanilla, Plain, or Greek yogurt works best)

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What We Are Eating ( September 7 – September 13)

Sunday – Grilled Chicken and Biscuits, Grilled Okra, and Corn

Monday – Calypso

Tuesday – Pasta and Sausage Bake

Wednesday – Mexican Casserole

Thursday – BBQ Chicken Pizza

Friday – Sandwiches on the Go

Saturday – Night Out / My night off, but not really as I prepared a plate of desserts for a get together we attended.

Peach Watermelon Smoothie

Image 3I promised summer recipes this week and I am not sure you can get more summer than a recipe that involves peaches and watermelon.   You also cannot get much easier than a fresh breakfast in less than 15 minutes.

So many fruits these days are available year round in the stores. But luckily for us there are some items that are not quite as easy to transport long distances. Thus peaches are rarely seen in the depth of winter, even here in the south.

However in between late June and August the peaches are abundant at the local stores and the farmers markets. I prefer to buy any local produce at the farmers markets, but in this case I went straight to the source. We are still enjoying the peaches that we picked ourselves in July. Of course peaches have a short shelf life, so our enjoyment of them now is taking them from the freezer. They still have a great flavor and in the case of a smoothie, in order to get the right consistency you need something frozen.

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There are quite a few smoothie recipes out their that incorporate ice to get a smoothie cold and slightly slush like, but as a dietitian and having a background working with puree food, I just cannot do it.  I see no reason to water down anything and decrease the nutritional value.  If I want a icy type item sure, but when it comes to breakfast and trying to get nutrients into my family I will always use frozen fruit.  In the case of this smoothie, I needed very little liquid as I knew the watermelon would provide plenty, but I wanted to add some creaminess so I grabbed the milk container.  Almond milk would also go nicely with this combination of fruit, adding a nutty undertone and keeping it dairy free.

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This morning I whipped up this smoothie for us to enjoy.

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Peach Watermelon Smoothie

1/4 cup Skim Milk

1 Cup Watermelon, in chunks

1/2 banana

1 1/2 cups frozen peaches

Blend and enjoy.

* Please note this measurements are approximate and yielded about 20 ounces.

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Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce

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Pancakes for dinner.  These are words that make Little Miss Mixture very happy.  Not a week goes by that she does not request this if posed the question “what do you want for dinner?”  I have come to realize as much as breakfast is my least favorite meal.  It is not that I do not like it, I have just never been a big breakfast person.  This may in fact be her favorite meal of the day.  Luckily for me, she will eat it any time of day.  Since mornings are generally rushed most of the year, it is much more enjoyable to have breakfast for dinner.

One of my new favorite foods to keep on hand is ricotta.  I thought about another batch of ice cream, using our fresh peaches or blueberries, but then I remembered all the other recipes I had seen using ricotta recently.  This recipe that appeared in Cooking Light earlier this year is on our recipe must try list.  I had seen this recipe posted by twopeasandtheirpod.com.  Both of these recipes incorporated lemon, and though I love a good lemon bar, I don’t love the taste of lemon or citrus in some foods.  With an idea in mind though I had a perfect meatless monday dinner using the ricotta and our fresh picked blueberries.

I adapted the recipe for Fluffy Ricotta Pancakes that appeared on thekitchn.  This pancake recipe was a tad bit more time consuming than most pancake recipes I like, but I gave it a try and it was worth it.  Typically in recipes such as this when it indicates combine dry ingredients separate, I am lazy.  I generally skip this step and simply add all those ingredients at one time and incorporate it into the wet ingredients.

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Fluffy Ricotta Pancakes with Homemade Blueberry Syrup

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tbsp sugar

1/8 tsp salt

3/4 cup milk

2 eggs, separated

1 tsp vanilla

Combine ricotta, milk, egg yolks, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl.  Add dry ingredients and stir gently until combined.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff.  Stir a small scoop of egg whites into the pancake batter to lighten the batter.  Then fold the remaining whites into the batter.

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Homemade Blueberry Sauce

2 cups fresh blueberries

1 1/2 tsp cornstarch

1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice

2-3 Tbsp Maple Syrup

2 Tbsp water

In a small bowl combine cornstarch and lemon juice and set aside.  In a saucepan over high heat bring blueberries, syrup, and water to a boil.  Allow to boil for about 2 minutes so the blueberries start to burst open.  Reduce to simmer and stir in lemon juice and cornstarch mixture.  Stir until sauce thickens slightly.

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Serve sauce atop ricotta pancakes.  Enjoy.

Printable Recipe 

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Peach Cobbler Muffin

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I have been staring at a counter full of peaches this week and trying to come up with uses for them before they start to attract fruit flies or get mushy.  We have enjoyed fresh peaches in our oatmeal, grilled peaches in our salad, peach sorbet, and we just ate some.  Plain and simple.  I set to work the other morning to freeze quite a few, using this method.  Besides enjoying the taste of a peach smoothie somewhere in the midst of late October or November, I have found several other reasons to freeze the peaches.  There are some great beverage recipes that use frozen peaches that I hope to enjoy in the next few weeks in addition to breakfast smoothies.

Knowing Little Miss Mixture has a sweet tooth, I offered to let her assist with baking a peach pie or cobbler, but she wasted muffins instead.  I really liked this idea as we are nearing the end of summer, which means earlier mornings and the need to have a quick breakfast before school.  Muffins, like pancakes and waffles freeze well and are a pleasant surprise on random mornings as we head out the door.

Yesterday afternoon we made blueberry muffins, using this recipe that I found a few months ago.  It is amazing the flavor that fresh blueberries provide.

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Next up was to make a batch of peach muffins.  I recall making a peach muffin several years ago that had a streusel type topping, but I could not find the recipe, so I took the basic blueberry recipe concept and made some changes.  I love cinnamon especially when it is paired with peaches.

 

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I used brown sugar rather than white sugar and added cinnamon and nutmeg.  The muffin batter was thinner than the blueberry batter as it was hard to avoid peach juice getting into it, but the muffins cooked up nicely and once cool they were perfect.  In fact if you closed your eyes you may not know if you were eating a muffin or some cobbler.

Peach Cobbler Muffins       Printable Recipe

Ingredients

  • 5 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
  • 1 Large egg
  • 3/4 Cup sour cream or plain yogurt
  • 11/2 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
  • ¼ tsp. Nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 Cups all – purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup peaches chopped, fresh or frozen (if frozen, don’t bother defrosting)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a muffin tin with 10 liners or spray each cup with a nonstick spray.
  2. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Add egg and beat well, then sour cream. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt to the wet ingredients. Mix until combined.
  3. In a small bowl mix chopped peaches with 2 Tbsp. brown sugar and ½ tsp cinnamon. Coat the peaches well and allow to sit for a minute for excess juice to drain.
  4. Gently fold in your peaches, trying not to allow all the drained juice to get into the batter. Spoon or scoop the dough into the muffin tin.  Filling each muffin cup about 3/4 full.  Don’t forget to fill the empty muffin cups about 1/2 full of water so your pan does not burn.
  5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until tops are golden and a tester inserted into the center of muffins comes out clean. Let cool on rack and serve.  Be sure to enjoy at least a bite when they are warm as that is when they are definitely at their best.
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Protein Power Green Smoothie

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We all know the saying that you are what you eat and the best way to start your day is with a healthy breakfast.  Well I have never been a big breakfast person and I know my mom struggled to get me to have breakfast when I was a kid.  I luckily do not have that problem with Little Miss Mixture.  Sometimes that is her  best meal of the day, but breakfast is a meal that seems to be on the go in our house.

Mr. Mixture only sits down for breakfast on the weekends and typically grabs his coffee and a breakfast bar or smoothie and heads out.  During the school year Little Miss Mixture wants to sit and eat, but generally only leaves herself about 5 minutes to get her breakfast in.  In an effort to fuel them up, I try and make healthy smoothies and other on the go items for them at least two -three times a week.  Now with Little Miss Mixture sleeping in and enjoying her summer my motivation to turn on the vitamix is waning.

I have made a couple of smoothies in the last few weeks and though I constantly write down recipes of different ones, typically I just find items and toss them in and blenderize.  I almost always add peanut butter to my smoothies.  I find my taste is drawn to smoothies that include peanut butter and they stick with me longer than all fruit smoothies.  Mr. Mixture enjoys creamy fruit smoothies where yogurt is included as an ingredient.

In our house we like green smoothies.  There are certain flavor combinations that we enjoy more than others as I find spinach is a great green in almost any smoothie. Spinach is also so versatile as I use it in salads, on sandwiches, pizza, etc.  If i notice some needs to be used before it begins to wilt, I simply sauté it or toss it in a smoothie.  Here is a quick smoothie I tossed together the other morning.

1 cup Spinach

1 Banana

1/2 frozen Banana

2 Tbsp. Greek Yogurt

3 Tbsp. Peanut Butter

1/2 cup Milk

Place all ingredients in blender and puree.  If using a vitamin start with liquid and top with greens and frozen fruit and puree until smooth.

Printable Recipe IMG_3191