Leftover Granola Banana Bread Muffins

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I know this is a ridiculous time of year to be posting baking recipes…but ripe bananas don’t care that it’s too hot to turn your oven on. And banana bread is among the easiest and most forgiving types of baked goods to whip together. No creaming butter or sifting flour; and it is one of the few baking recipes that I find I can get a little lazy with the measurements or add something extra at the last minute without damaging the end product.

This one is definitely a new favorite. I added some leftover homemade granola, which is a great way to use up leftovers and adds a ton of flavor and texture with next to no extra work.

Don’t feel like you need to make the granola, just use any kind you have around. Serving suggestion: eat warm with cream cheese. Repeat.

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Make-Ahead Breakfast Parfaits with Macadamia, Coconut & Ginger Granola

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As I have mentioned before, I love having make-ahead breakfasts to bring to work. I never have time to eat before work, and skipping breakfast altogether invariably leads to bad decisions at the vending machine.

I also love making my own granola. Granola at the grocery store costs an arm and a leg, which seems silly since the main ingredient, old fashioned oats, are really inexpensive. Nuts are pricey, but the meager ratio of nuts to oats in prepackaged granola hardly justify the cost. Not to mention, homemade tastes really good. And bonus-your kitchen will smell amazing!

I like to layer some macerated (soaked in sweetened juice, like the strawberries in strawberry shortcake) peaches and raspberries at the bottom of mason jars, with plain or vanilla Greek yogurt on top. I make enough for the week and grab one with a small zipper bag of granola each morning.

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Grilled Elote (Mexican Street Corn) Stuffed Zucchini

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Somewhere along the line, corn got a reputation for being the “unhealthy” vegetable. It may have started with its sweetness, though an ear of corn has less than a quarter of the sugar of an apple. It is also very high in fiber. It also may have started with people slathering it in butter and salt. So try this butter-free corn recipe (and be prepared to never go back). Plus, there is zucchini, so double veggie!

Yes, there is cheese and a smidge of mayo, but it works out to .75 teaspoons of mayo and 1.5 teaspoons of cheese per zucchini boat. Which I round down to zero. Yay math!

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Pink Lemonade Vodka Popsicles

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I went Stand Up Paddleboarding for the first time this weekend. I was a little terrified because it looks really difficult and also, sharks. I am so glad I tried it because it was SO fun! And also, no sharks. Win-win!

Speaking of win-win situations, this weekend I also made cocktail Popsicles. Why choose between dessert and a drink right? This weekend marked the beginning of BBQ season. There are few things better on a hot sunny day outside than an icy lemonade cocktail. This weekend, we took it a step further and made them into Popsicles. There is something really fun and novel about a Popsicle cocktail.

It can be a little tricky to find the right ratio of alcoholic to nonalcoholic liquids, as alcohol will not become solid in a home freezer (as anyone who stores vodka in the freezer knows). In this recipe, the Popsicles will freeze solid but the vodka gives them a slightly softer texture.

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Pear and Almond Galette

Pear and Almond Galette

Bonjour! The boyfriend and I just recently returned from Paris. Do you like how I said that all nonchalant? Like we just jet off to Paris from time to time. This was my first time not only to France but anywhere in Europe so it was a pretty non-nonchalant business.

We had snails.

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Pan Charred Green Beans with Manchego, Lemon and Almonds

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While the new year officially begins in January, it really doesn’t feel new until Spring. As the snow melts and small green shoots begin to emerge, it feels like a new start. Spring replaces the white and gray of Winter with color. When I think Spring, I think green.

So in that spirit, I want to share my new favorite way to make green beans. I found the idea in the April 2014 Cooking Light magazine. Keith Schroeder chars the green beans in a hot pan, then adds butter, vinegar, tarragon and salt. I changed the recipe up, but kept the method. The beans stay crisp but the flavor and color from the char is delicious. The lemon and butter make a light tart sauce and the Manchego and almonds make it feel really decadent. Also, it only takes about 10 minutes to make so it is a great, easy side dish.
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Coconut Blueberry and Cranberry Muffins

Coconut Blueberry and Cranberry Muffins

So my sister and I made lipstick the other day. She found the “recipe” on Pinterest and we decided to give it a try. We ended up in the kitchen until the wee hours of the night concocting lipstick color after color. It was really fun!

One of the initial reasons I agreed to the whole endeavor was that it required coconut oil, an ingredient I have always wanted to try but had never gotten around to. Let me just tell you I have been cooking with the stuff nonstop ever since.

I wanted a muffin recipe that used coconut oil and coconut milk. Since I am new to the oil I didn’t want to just wing it. I found one on twopeasandtheirpod.com and was thrilled because there is not a bad recipe to be found on that site. I was not dissapointed. These muffins were so light and airy, with a subtle coconut flavor that I may have missed amidst all the berries had it not been for the toasted coconut on top to remind me. Gosh writing this post is making me want to whip up another batch.

20140204 211241 Coconut Blueberry and Cranberry Muffins
Recipe adapted from twopeasandtheirpod.com

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Chicken & Waffle Sliders with Sriracha Maple Syrup

Chicken & Waffle Sliders with Sriracha Maple Syrup

I am a complete sucker for mini food. I firmly believe that any gathering can be improved by miniature treats. Meatballs are cool. Tiny meatballs on a toothpicks are so cool. Crab cakes are great. Tiny crab cakes are so great. Don’t get me started on mini desserts. Sliders are the king of mini foods. And this chicken & waffle version is my new favorite slider.

So this recipe takes just about every short cut possible. If you are the ambitious type, you could certainly make your own waffles, fried chicken and/or slaw. However, if you find yourself needing a last minute Super Bowl snack (or just want something easy), this one is for you. And please don’t skip the Sriracha Maple Syrup. It is so crazy good, and it elevates these sliders to something really special.

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Spinach and Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Pine Nuts

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So the internet is awash with salads. I will be the first to admit that salads can be a little on the tedious side. I have found that the ideal salad must contain something crunchy, something creamy, something sweet and something tangy. If you hit all these categories you will not have a boring salad.

I used a combination of red and gold beets. I like to roast peeled, whole beets in aluminum foil with olive oil, salt and pepper. I know some people prefer to peel them once cooked but I am impatient and always burn my fingers that way. Either way works.

My favorite time to make this dressing is when your jam jar is almost empty so you can just pour all your ingredients into the jar, close and shake. Anything to save a dirty dish!
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Lobster Mac and Cheese

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New Years is, in my opinion, the perfect holiday to follow up Christmas and Thanksgiving. First we reflect and give thanks for all the blessings in our lives, and celebrate our traditions and family. Then we look to the future year and all we hope to accomplish and experience. I also find that having New Year’s Eve to look forward to dulls the sadness of having to wait 365 days until Christmas.

In that spirit, I bring you a dish that combines a favorite comfort food with a celebratory indulgence. Cozy Mac and Cheese gets fancied up with a mix of Gruyere and sharp white cheddar, some flavor boost from shallot and garlic, big chunks of buttery lobster and a crunchy parmesan-panko topping.
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