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Arugula w/ Avocado, Parmesan & Lemon

4/22/16


This ain't rocket science, but I eat this salad so often that I thought I should share it with you guys, my Internet Friends!  It's simple, simple, simple, and really doesn't require a recipe.  With a few, fresh ingredients, you will have a salad you can whip up for lunch all week long.  I take peppery arugula, creamy avocado, and salty shaved Parmesan and top it with lemon and good olive oil!  I know, I sound like Ina when I say "good olive oil" but it really makes a difference (I usually have two types of olive oil on hand, a cheaper brand that I cook with and a nicer brand for dressings or drizzling).  Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and pepper and you have the tastiest, healthiest salad.

It also felt appropriate to share on Earth Day.  Since it's so green and leafy.  

By the way, I had a different plan for today's post, but as soon as I learned of Prince's death yesterday I was pretty much useless for the rest of the day.  I wandered around my house, forcing my kids to listen to his music, and thought about growing up in Minnesota where his music was born.  So many important memories were accompanied by his songs, the least of them being my high school graduation in, yes, 1999.  It feels weird knowing he took his last breath yesterday, but his music will always be a humongous part of this world!  


Banana Bread Cinnamon Rolls

4/19/16


Over the weekend, I had overly ripe bananas that needed attention, but I was tired of turning them into bread or muffins.  BOR-ING!  Okay, not boring, delicious, but I've been there done that, you know?  I wanted something new and exciting, so I probably googled something like "bananas baking new and exciting" (not really) and that's when I found this recipe for Banana Bread Cinnamon Rolls! I was sold.  I adapted them slightly because the recipe was vegan, and I'm a fan of dairy and gluten and sugar and all of those yummy things.  I actually have a cold and my tastebuds are making everything taste the same (which is a horrible, horrible thing when you love food as much as I do), but I've had several people, including my son, vouch for their deliciousness.  They were also very simple to make!  Next time your bananas turn brown, remember this recipe...

p.s. My kids and I die laughing every time we watch this clip.




Banana Bread Cinnamon Rolls w/ Cream Cheese Glaze
Makes 10-12 rolls
Printable recipe

For rolls:

1 cup whole milk
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 pkg. active dry yeast
1/2 cup mashed bananas (2 ripe bananas)
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
Olive or canola oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon (or more)

For glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons softened cream cheese
2 tablespoons milk

Heat the milk and 3 tablespoons of the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.  Once butter has melted, remove from heat and let cool slightly (you want it to be warm to the touch, but not hot).  Transfer to a large mixing bowl, and then sprinkle the yeast over the milk and butter mixture.  Let sit for 10 minutes.  Then add the mashed bananas, 1 tablespoon of sugar and the salt, and stir.  Slowly add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a springy dough is formed.  On a lightly-floured surface, remove dough and knead for a minute or two.  Rinse out mixing bowl, and coat with olive or canola oil.  Form dough into a ball and place in bowl, seam-side down.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for an hour until dough doubles in size.  Remove from bowl, and again on a lightly-floured surface, roll out dough to a large rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick.  Melt the rest of the butter in the microwave, and then pour over dough.  Sprinkle with remaining granulated sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon.  Starting with the shorter end, roll into a log, seam-side down.  Using a serrated knife, cut into rolls, and place in a round (or square) lightly-greased cake pan.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Once preheated, bake rolls for 28-30 minutes.  While rolls are baking, whisk glaze ingredients together.  Pour over baked rolls, and enjoy!

Veggie Hash and Eggs

4/14/16


Has anyone been to Prime Meats in Brooklyn, New York?  Go!  Go, go, go, go, go.  I've actually only been once, but they have the best brunch and NO, I'm not just saying that because I was sans children which meant I could actually hear myself think and eat my food while it was hot (and YES, there was also booze).  First of all, they put warm, buttery biscuits on the table with jam and salted butter and they were the best I've ever had.  For my meal, I ordered a veggie hash with eggs (it was also available with meat) that was essentially roasted root vegetables and kale underneath two over sunny-side-up eggs.  I had to recreate it at home, and here's what I did...

I diced up one butternut squash, one rutabaga and one fennel bulb into little bite-sized squares.  I drizzled it with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasted it in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes (I didn't have kale, otherwise I would have added that, too).  Then, I made crispy eggs, placed them on top of the veggies, served it alongside an arugula salad, and it was dinner!  But it would also be a perfect breakfast or brunch, even with your kids :)   


TODAY tonight: Cacio e Pepe

4/12/16


On this episode of "TODAY: tonight" - where I recreate something Carson ate at work and loved more than his wife and kids (just kidding) - I'm showing off this cheesy, peppery, SIMPLE AF pasta dish that only requires 3 ingredients.  Three!  Pasta, pepper and cheese, and, you know, a little bit of olive oil and water... but that doesn't count.  It couldn't be easier and yet there are definitely crucial steps, like cooking the pasta until al dente, reserving the pasta water for the sauce, using course ground pepper and really good cheese.  If you do those things, you will truly love this dish.  Perfect for a night when you have no other plans for dinner... just serve with a salad and crusty bread and you're done!  Check out the recipe here.



Fajitas and Queso on TODAY


Yesterday morning I woke up bright and early and made chicken fajitas and queso dip on the Today Show.  The recipes were based on some dishes from one of my favorite childhood restaurants, Chili's!  Today I woke up bright and early to write this blog post.  Ok that's a lie, my daughters woke me up bright and early... at 1:30 and 4:30 and 5:00 and 5:30.  You know how it goes, right?  PLEASE TELL ME YOU KNOW HOW IT GOES.  Sometimes people ask me, is it hard to wake up so early for the show and I say no, no, no, no, no.  I get to drink my coffee in peace.  Someone blow dries my hair, and I get to wear eyeliner that doesn't make me look like a cat (I've never been able to do my own makeup properly).  It's the mornings when I wake up, milk bottle, vitamins, breakfast, pack lunch, pack snack, get clothes, stop fighting, brush your teeth, wipe the nutella off your face, brush your hair WE'RE GOING TO MISS THE BUS... those are the hard mornings.  Sooooo that said, I better go!      

You can find the recipes and video from yesterday here.  

Stay tuned for some delicious pasta later today!

Gooey Chocolate Chip Sandwich Bars

4/8/16


Are you mad at me??  I've been bad at blogging lately :(

In my defense, it's been a particularly busy week over here and some exciting things have been happening oooooonnnnlllyyyyy, I can't tell you yet.  Ugh, you're mad at me again!!

But hey!  I made you something!  Something with A LOT of chocolate, and it's ooey, and gooey, and it's half brownie, half fudge, half cookie.  I realize three halves don't make a whole, but just go with it.  These bars are delicious, easy to make, yummy to look at, and you forgive me, right?

I'll be on the Today Show Monday (in the 9am hour), and back to blogging regularly next week, I swear.  In the meantime, I just signed up for Snapchat and DOES ANYONE UNDERSTAND IT?!

Recipe here.


pre-baked...


post-baked...


Bolthouse Farms

4/3/16

I recently partnered up with Bolthouse Farms and attended an event where they premiered a line of new beverages.  The ingredients are fresh and honest and the flavors unique and exciting, such as Mango Pineapple Colada and Banana Honey Almond Butter (my personal favorite).  They sent me a bunch to try and challenged me to come up with four recipes featuring their smoothies, shakes and juices, and they are posted below!  It was so much fun to think outside the box (or bottle - puns are sort of my thing), and I'm really happy with each creation.  My family was my main source of inspiration, particularly my middle child who desperately needs more fruits and vegetables in her life, and I am NOT above sneaking nutrition into her diet in a covert manner.      

First up, these muffins that are a great snack or breakfast on-the-go.  When I tasted the combo of banana, honey and almond butter, I immediately wanted to bake with it.  Adding the shake to the muffins keep them moist, and adding ripe bananas and almond butter make them burst with that perfect flavor combination.  My toddler LOVED these, and I was happy knowing she was getting some extra protein in her diet!     


Banana Honey Almond Butter Muffins
Yields: 12 muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup Bolthouse Farms Banana Honey Almond Butter Protein Shake
1/4 cup almond butter
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
Turbinado sugar (cane sugar) for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Whisk first 5 ingredients in a bowl, set aside.  In a separate bowl, whisk together both sugars with protein shake.  Stir in almond butter, egg, vanilla and mashed bananas.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just combined.  Place into paper-lined muffin tins, about 3/4 of the way full, sprinkle a little cane sugar on top of each muffin, and bake for 18-20 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  


Next, after sipping this sweet and tart Raspberry Blood Orange juice, I thought it would be great as a vinaigrette for salads (and I may or may not have poured some with vodka while I whisked away).  It's particularly delicious over peppery arugula, and would also make a great glaze for chicken or fish.


Raspberry Blood Orange Vinaigrette
Yields: approx 2 cups

1/2 cup Bolthouse Farms Raspberry Blood Orange Juice
1 small shallot, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth.  Taste, and add more salt and pepper if necessary.  Pour over salad or save in a mason jar in the fridge for up to 3 days.


Smoothie bowls have always intimidated me.  They look like masterpieces on Instagram, and too pretty to eat.  But after creating my own bowl, I was pleasantly surprised how easy and quickly it came together.  I added avocado for texture and creaminess, but the options are endless (banana, yogurt, leafy greens, etc).  And don't get me started on the toppings! 


Green Goodness Smoothie Crunch Bowl
Yields: 1 bowl

1 15 oz. Bolthouse Farms Green Goodness Smoothie
1/2 avocado
1/2 cup ice
Suggested Toppings:
Raspberries
Blueberries
Sliced bananas
Shredded raw coconut
Granola
Drizzle of honey

Combine Green Goodness Smoothie in a blender with avocado and ice and puree until smooth.  Pour into bowl, top with desired toppings and drizzle with honey.  


Finally, this cake.  This cake, that I want to make love to.  After one sip of the Mocha Cappuccino beverage, I knew I wanted to make something rich and decadent.  It tasted like such a treat, and I knew it would translate well as a dessert.  While this cake is creamy and indulgent... it's also light and would be a great thing to serve as the weather starts to get warmer! 


Mocha Cappuccino Smoothie Ice Cream Cake
Yields: 1 cake

35 chocolate wafer cookies, divided
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1.5 quarts coffee chip ice cream 
1 cup Bolthouse Farms Mocha Cappuccino Smoothie Beverage
1 cup ice
1 cup whipped cream
Chocolate chips or shavings for topping (optional)

Place 25 cookies in a food processor (or blender) and pulse until crumbs are formed.  Add butter and pulse until combined.  Place mixture in the bottom of a 9-inch cake pan (with approx. 3 inch sides) that is lined with parchment paper, and press with your fingers until crust coats the bottom of the pan.  Freeze for 10 minutes.  During this time, remove ice cream to soften and pulse remaining 10 crackers in the food processor, then set aside.  After the 10 minutes, remove pan from freezer and add ice cream.  Smooth with a spatula to create an even layer, then add cookie crumble on top, and place back in freezer for 10 minutes.  During that time, place ice and coffee beverage in a blender and pulse until a smoothie is formed.  Remove to a bowl, and fold in whipped cream.  Place on top of cake and smooth with a spatula.  Sprinkle chocolate chips or shavings on top, and freeze for 30 minutes or until ready to eat. 

Girl Scout Cookies on TODAY

3/30/16


If you are like us, you bought way too many Girl Scout Cookies.  Then you realized how many you had, and started handing them out to family, friends and complete strangers.  Of course, after finishing the boxes you DID keep, you felt very sad.  But I have a solution!  Make homemade versions of my personal favorites - Tagalongs and Samoas - at home!  I was on the Today Show this morning demonstrating my recipes.  If you missed it, you can view them and the segment here.



Photos by the lovely Samantha Okazaki

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