Thursday, March 21, 2013

Banana Bars with Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

I made this cake because I needed to use overripe bananas and this was something new to try.  It was amazing!  It makes a ton so I delivered some to neighbors and friends, and every single one of those people came to me later and demanded the recipe.  Its such a light, fluffy, delicious "cake".  It was easy to make and the flavors are perfect together.
  • Banana Bars with Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Mel's Kitchen Cafe

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (I used three ripe bananas)
  • Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup white sugar (you can use either granulated sugar or confectioners’ sugar – the confectioners’ sugar tends to dissolve better and not be as grainy but either one works fine)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
  1. For the banana bars, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10 x 15 inch jellyroll pan or one 9X13 pan and an additional 8X8 pan. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the sour cream and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; stir into the batter. Finally, mix in the mashed banana. Spread evenly into the prepared pan(s). Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow bars to cool completely before frosting.
  2. For the frosting, in a large bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, salt and vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy. Set aside. In another medium bowl, beat whipped cream until stiff peaks form (it helps to use a chilled bowl and chilled beaters). Fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture. Frost to your heart’s delight!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Portobello Zucchini Tacos

I'm on a roll here. Another vegan recipe that may be a little to wild for some of your families but if you don't tell them there are mushrooms in it they will never know. I made these last night for dinner and they were so good I had like 5...In fact I ate almost everything by myself because I was once again husbandless at dinner time. But I'm trying not to use that as an excuse not to cook! We'll see how long it lasts.

I had mine with salsa, avocado and some cilantro with a little salt and pepper and it was divine!

Portobello and Zucchini Tacos

Four servings • 45 minutes to prepare

I like to serve these tacos alongside a green salad with tomatoes and avocado.


  • 5 medium portobello mushrooms, stems and gills removed, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 4 medium zucchini, cut into 2-by-1/2-inch sticks
  • 1 medium red onion, halved and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 12 (4 1/2-inch) corn tortillas
  • 1/2 cup fresh salsa
  • ripe avocado, halved and sliced


  1. Preheat oven to 425° F. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss mushrooms with 1 teaspoon oregano, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1/4 cup water; season with salt and pepper. On another rimmed baking sheet, toss zucchini and onion with remaining teaspoon oregano and tablespoon oil; season with salt and pepper.
  2. Place both sheets in oven. Roast, tossing occasionally, until vegetables are browned and fork-tender, 25 to 30 minutes (zucchini may cook faster than mushrooms).
  3. Meanwhile, in a small skillet over medium-high heat, warm tortillas according to package instructions (they should be lightly browned but still soft). Wrap loosely in a clean kitchen towel to keep warm.
  4. To serve, fill each tortilla with mushrooms, vegetable mixture, avocado and salsa.

Mediterranean Chickpea Wrap

This is really easy to make, vegan, healthy and filling and really yummy. It's easy to thrown in a tortilla, add a handful of spinach or mixed greens, sprinkle on some vinaigrette and you're good to go. Also, I didn't add the banana pepper just cause I didn't want to buy one, but added a little siracha sauce to make it spicy. Also, don't be afraid to drain the extra water once the potatoes are done cooking.

Mediterranian Chickpea Wrap

Four servings • 30 minutes to prepare


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • carrot, diced
  • onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 banana pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans, with liquid
  • white potato, peeled and diced
  • whole wheat tortillas, warmed


  1. In a large sauté pan, over medium heat warm the oil for about a minute. Add the carrot, onion, banana pepper, and garlic. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently. When the vegetable have started to soften, add the cumin, red pepper, cayenne and sauté for 1 minute.
  2. Add the garbanzo beans with their liquid and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil. Add the potato and simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
  3. Wrap in warm tortillas with fresh spinach and serve.

Chickpea and Rice soup with Kale

Another Vegan recipe. This soup is awesome! We had it for sunday dinner because it's still pretty cold out here in Boston and this was the perfect remedy. I made it with the artisan bread Jess posted a little while ago and it made for a great meal. The only thing you have to prep before hand is soaking the cashews for a few hours and it's better the next day as leftovers as the flavors blend.

Chickpea & Rice Soup with Kale

Six servings • 40 minutes


  • 3/4 cup cashews, soaked in water for 2 hours or overnight
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 3/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Fresh black pepper
  • 3/4 cup brown rice, rinsed
  • 3 ribs celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup carrots, diced chunky
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cans (15 oz. each) Garbanzo Beans, drained and rinsed- I only used 1 can and it was fine
  • 4 cups chopped kale
  • (green onions as garnish optional)


  1. After soaking, drain the cashews and place them in a blender with one cup of fresh water. Blend until completely smooth. You don't want any gritty bits if you can help it. And if you're not firing up a Vitamix, this could take some time. Like maybe 5 whole minutes.
  2. Preheat a stock pot over medium heat. Sauté onion in olive oil with a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes, until translucent. Add garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper and sauté a minute more.
  3. Add rice, celery and carrots and then pour in the broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer, add the chickpeas, and let cook for about 30 minutes, until rice is cooked and carrots are tender.
  4. Add the cashew cream and kale, and simmer until kale is wilted, 3 to 5 more minutes. You may need to add water to thin the soup if it seems too thick. Taste for salt and seasonings and let sit for 10 minutes so the flavors will mingle.

Tofu Broccoli Stir Fry

After watching the "Hungry for Change" documentary on Netflix, I decided I would take their advice and not view foods with an attitude of "I can't have that" or cutting things out but adding more and more healthy things into my diet. This leaves me guilt free when I do eat sweets and has inspired me to add maybe one or two vegan meals to my day. This was a great one to start out with- easy and simple and I don't mind the taste of tofu. It is just as filling as meat for me.

This is from the website they have a great list of recipes for breakfast lunch and dinner and also snacks if you're not sure where to start.

p.s. I highly recommend the documentary. Some things are kind of cooky about it but it is a good reminder to think about what you're putting in your body.

Tofu and Broccoli Stir Fry

Serves four • 40 minutes
Serve this stir-fry over brown rice or Asian noodles. To toast the cashews, spread them on a baking sheet and cook in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes. If you’re serving this with rice, get it started before you do anything else. And if you’re gluten-free make sure you’re soy sauce is of the gluten-free variety.


  • 1 package (14 1/2 ounces) firm tofu, drained, cut crosswise into 6 slabs (about 3/4 inch wide), each slab halved horizontally and cut into triangles
  • 1 1/2 lbs. broccoli, stalks trimmed, peeled, and cut into 1/4-inch rounds, florets separated into bite-size pieces
  • Coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup cashews, toasted (optional)


  1. Arrange tofu in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with several layers of paper towels. Top with more paper towels and let tofu drain, about 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cook broccoli (stalks and florets) in a large pot of boiling salted water until bright green, 1 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add tofu; cook until golden brown, turning gently halfway through, about 5-7 minutes on each side. Transfer to paper towels.
  4. Meanwhile, make sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, red-pepper flakes, garlic, cornstarch, and 3/4 cup water; set aside.
  5. Add broccoli to skillet; cook over high heat, stirring often, until crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk reserved sauce to combine; pour into pan. Return tofu to pan; stir to coat, about 1 minute more. Serve over rice or noodles and topped with cashews, if desired.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

1234 Spicy Beans

Pic courtesy google images
I got this recipe from the Nutrition Digest magazine that my mother-in-law gives me for Christmas every year. I saw this recipe and knew that I wanted to try it. It was so easy and so yummy. It's the perfect lunch. I threw it on a whole wheat tortilla with a little cheese and salsa. It would be good plain, with rice, with some avocado, or on a salad. Go beans!:)

1234 Spicy Beans
adapted from Nutrition Digest

1 Tbs olive oil
3 minced cloves of garlic
1 tsp chili powder
15 oz. can of no-salt-added black beans, drained
1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)

Saute garlic in olive oil for 1 minute. Stir in chili powder and cook for 15 seconds. Add beans with just enough water to cover the beans. Simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt.

Chipotle Chicken Tacos

Pic courtesy Mels Kitchen Cafe
These were SOOOOO good. Christian could not stop "mmmmmm"-ing the whole dinner. Like, I am craving these again right now. They were easy and kid-friendly, but still totally impressive.

Chipotle Chicken Tacos
from Mels Kitchen Cafe 

Note: Reduce the chipotle chiles to one teaspoon if you want to eliminate some of the spiciness. In a pinch, you could sub 1-2 teaspoons chili powder for the chipotle chiles but the flavor won’t be quite the same.
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (you can find these in the Mexican Foods aisle at most grocery stores)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • Salt and pepper
  • 12 (6-inch) flour tortillas
  1. Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and chipotle and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the orange juice, Worcestershire sauce and 1/2 cup chopped cilantro and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the chicken and simmer, covered, over medium-low heat for 12-13 minutes, flipping the chicken halfway through cooking. When the chicken is done cooking, transfer to a plate and tent with foil.
  2. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook the mixture left in the skillet until the liquid is reduced to about 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the yellow mustard. Using 2 forks, shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces and return to the skillet. Add the remaining cilantro to the skillet and toss until well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm with tortillas topped with lettuce, cheese, tomato, sour cream and avocado.
To warm the tortillas, wrap them in foil and heat in a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Red and White Pasta

My ward has been bringing me amazing meals for the past 2 months.  I am not talking Little Caesar's, I am talking full course homemade delicious meals.  This one was our favorite!  It is super rich and definitely not healthy but a crowd pleaser and quite easy.

Red and White Pasta
From: Laurie Pecotte

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cook the pasta & prepare Alfredo sauce

Alfredo Sauce
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 (3 oz) package cream cheese
1 pint heavy cream
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Mix in the cream cheese. Stir in the cream and garlic powder. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat and simmer, stirring often, while you cook the pasta. If the sauce needs additional thickening (for example if you're serving it as a dipping sauce without pasta), you may sprinkle in flour, 1 tsp at a time. Cook and stir for desired consistency. Stir the Parmesan cheese into the sauce and season with salt and pepper.


Spread a think layer of spaghetti sauce (I just use Prego) in a 9x13 baking dish. Layer half the pasta, half the Alfredo sauce, half the spaghetti sauce, and 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese. Repeat the layering with the remaining pasta, Alfredo sauce, spaghetti sauce, and cheese.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake about 30 minutes or until it is hot and bubbly.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Oatmeal Quick Mix

This comes from the Boyle family favorites. My father-in-law insisted that I shared these! When you have a little extra time make this. Store it and when you want some good muffins, cookies, etc grab this! We had this mix in muffins this morning and they were delicious! Enjoy!

3 cups all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour  (Garry grinds flour and does half and half)
3 1/2  tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups shortening or butter
3 cups rolled oats

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and granulated sugar. Stir in brown sugar. Mix well. With a pastry blender, cut in shortening until evenly distributed. Stir in oats and mix well. Put in an airtight container. Store in a cool, dry place. Use within 12 weeks. Makes about 9 cups of mix.

Oatmeal Muffins

1 egg
2/3 c milk 
3 c of OATMEAL MIX (above)
Add whatever mix ins you prefer (ex. nuts, blueberries, choc chips, etc)

Bake @ 400 for 15-20 min (makes 12)

Krunk Cookies

I tasted these cookies at a Christmas party and proceeded to stalk the person for weeks in order to get the recipe. THAT'S how good these cookies are. The nice lady (Sister Krunk) called them Grandma's Oatmeal cookies. "Oh no", I said. They are way better than that. So in her honor and in true Griffin language, I am calling these Krunk Cookies. Its so appropriate. They are a mix between a gingersnap, snickerdoodle and oatmeal raisin cookie. Don't be deterred by the raisins!!!! Be sure to follow these precise steps using precise ingredients to achieve the fluffy texture that lured me in!

Krunk Cookies
3 eggs
2 t vanilla
1 cup raisins

In a small bowl lightly beat eggs and vanilla. Add raisins to egg mixture making sure raisins are immersed.

1 c shortening (crisco vegetable shortening here NOT butter flavor)
1 c brown sugar
1 c white sugar

Cream these together. DO NOT OVERBEAT or it will not be a fluffy cookie.

2.5 c flour (using gold medal or pillsbury brand for best results!)
1 t salt
2 t baking soda
2 t cinnamon
2 generous c quick oats

Mix dry ingredients together then add to creamed sugars a little at a time. Add egg/raisin mixture, incorporate well, then add oats. Dough will be very stiff. You might have to knead a little with your hands. Shape into 1.5 tablespoon sized balls and roll into white sugar. Bake at 350 for 11-13 minutes. DO NOT OVERCOOK!!!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Pesto Ranch Crock Pot Chicken

Pic courtesy Picky Palate

Crock pot meals are a lot more common in our house these days as we are busy, busy with house stuff. We love pesto so I thought I'd give this one a try. The flavor was good, but it was a tad bit dry, so next time, I'd cook it for a little less time. Also, I made it with brown rice, not mashed potatoes and I used chicken breasts- not thighs. I changed the recipe up quite a bit from the recipe on Picky Palate since I didn't want to add a package of preservative-filled Ranch dressing mix. Found a substitute ranch packet recipe on allrecipes that I used. This is a great weeknight meal to throw in the rotation and mix things up a bit.

Pesto Ranch Crock Pot Chicken
adapted from Picky Palate 

3 chicken breasts (frozen is fine)
3 oz jar of pesto
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/3 tsp black pepper (or to taste)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
pinch of onion powder
pinch of dried thmye
1/2 cup chicken broth

Place chicken breasts in crockpot. Combine all remaining ingredients except broth. Spread pesto mixture over chicken breasts. Pour broth over and cook for 4 hours on low.