Saturday, February 28, 2015

Three-Ingredient Banana Pancakes

When I was in 8th grade, I subscribed to Seventeen magazine because... obviously. One of the magazines talked about celebrity diets and I read that Jessica Biel’s favorite breakfast was three-ingredient pancakes (bananas, eggs, and cinnamon). So for the next month I made three-ingredient pancakes every single morning. Despite the fact that there’s not much to them they actually do turn out like banana-flavored pancakes. And they were obviously super healthy since a whole stack of them had very few calories and lots of protein. That Jessica Biel was onto something!

Recently, I've seen this recipe start to pop up everywhere on Pinterest, clean-eating websites, etc. So I decided to make them again, and I don't know why I ever stopped! They're so easy. And they're gluten-free and paleo.

Three-Ingredient Pancakes
Yield: Makes about 5 small pancakes

  • 1 ripe banana
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. In a bowl, combine the banana, eggs and cinnamon.
  2. Mix/mash until the mixture becomes all smooth. You can use a fork to achieve that.
  3. Grease your frying pan with a little bit of oil or butter.
  4. Heat your stove to a low to medium setting.
  5. Pour two tablespoons of the batter in your pan and cook for about 1½ minutes on both sides or until done.
  6. Serve as is or garnish with anything you like (banana slices, cinnamon, honey...).

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Texas Sheet Cake Cookies

Texas Sheet Cake is a universal way to say “yum!” I’ve only had it a few times in my life, but for some reason I had the strongest craving for it over the weekend. I could not stop thinking about it.

But I realize it’s a bit odd to make an entire sheet cake for oneself. Cookies on the other hand… It’s not weird AT ALL to make an entire batch of cookies with the sole purpose of eating every single last one all by myself!

That’s not actually what happened. Don’t worry, I shared them. But mainly because they’re so rich and dense that one cookie is enough to satisfy even the strongest sweet tooth.

The cookie making process has two parts: the cookies and the icing. The cookie dough comes together easily and has a mousse-like consistency. It doesn’t look like the dough will make many cookies, but after scooping out tablespoons I ended up with 20 cookies.

The second part is my favorite – the icing. The frosting smelled heavenly and it made my entire kitchen smell like a Mackinac Island fudge shop.  I tried to pour the icing straight out of the saucepan but determined it was best to drizzle with a spoon.

The hardest part of the whole process is waiting for the frosting to cool and set on the cookies. But if you eat one or two before they’re ready, I won’t judge.

Texas Sheet Cake Cookies
Yield: 12 cookies

For the Cookies
  • 1/2 cup salted Challenge butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar (67 grams)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 and 1/3 cup all-purpose flour* (167 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
For the Icing
  • 1/2 cup salted Challenge butter
  • 2 Tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 3 Tablespoon milk
  • 2 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar (315 grams)
  • 20 Pecans, finely chopped (optional)

For the Cookies
  1. Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit*
  2. Line baking sheet with parchment or silicone mat, set aside.
  3. In a large bowl beat butter and sugar together until light, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add egg and vanilla and continue mixing until incorporated.
  5. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  6. Slowly add dry ingredients to butter mixture and mix on low until just combined.
  7. In a microwave safe bowl heat chocolate chips on high in 30 second increments until melted, stirring after every 30 seconds.
  8. Add melted chocolate directly to bowl of cookie dough and mix until combined.
  9. Scoop out dough in Tablespoon-sized mounds, roll into ball, and place on baking sheet.
  10. Bake for 7 minutes. They will still be very soft on the inside. Do not overbake!
  11. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
For the Icing

  1. Add butter, cocoa powder and milk to medium saucepan and heat over medium heat, whisking until melted together.
  2. Remove saucepan from heat and whisk in powdered sugar.
  3. Pour icing over cookies. If you choose to add pecans, sprinkle them on top right after icing the cookies. You may have to gently press the pecan pieces down in order for them to stay in place.
  4. Allow icing to set before serving (this will take an hour or two).
*I baked these cookies below 3500 feet elevation.

*Make this recipe gluten-free by replacing all-purpose flour with Cup4Cup Gluten-Free Flour.

Recipe adapted from Cookies and Cups.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Slow Cooker Quinoa Enchilada Casserole

CONFESSION: The first time I ever had quinoa was just a few weeks ago. I didn’t have anything against it – I just never went out of my way to try it. In fact, I pronounced it “qwinn-oh-a” up until last year (embarrassing, I know).

But then I saw this recipe on Cooking Classy, and I knew I wanted to try it. I’m in the middle of a Tex-Mex kick and I’m craving anything and everything Southwestern.

This casserole is so easy to put together – it’s another one of those dishes that you mix up and cook right in the crockpot. And it’s very filling! Between the quinoa and the black and pinto beans there are about 24 grams of protein per serving.

This dish is perfect for Fridays during Lent or Meatless Mondays or if you’re just looking for a heart healthy dish in general.

Slow Cooker Quinoa Enchilada Casserole
Yield: 8 servings

·      1 Tablespoon olive oil
·      1 medium yellow onion, chopped (or about 1 and 1/4 cups)
·      1 medium red bell pepper, chopped or about (1 and 1/4 cups)
·      3 Tablespoons minced garlic
·      2 and 1/4 cups vegetable broth
·      1 and 1/2 cups dry quinoa
·      1 (14.5 ounce) can tomatoes with green chilies (do not drain)
·      1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
·      2 Tablespoon chili powder
·      1 and 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
·      1 (15.2 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
·      1 (14.5 ounce) can black beans, drained
·      1 (14.5 ounce) can pinto beans, drained
·      1 1/2 cups fat free cheddar cheese or 2% Mexican blend cheese

For serving (optional)
·      Diced avocados, chopped cilantro, salsa, chopped green onions

·      Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper and saute 3 minutes. Add garlic and saute 30 more seconds. Pour mixture into slow cooker.
·      Stir in vegetable broth, dry quinoa, canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder and cumin.
·      Cover and cook on HIGH heat about 2 hours 30 minutes - 2 hours 45 minutes (keep an eye on it toward the end so it doesn’t start to burn on the edges).
·      Add corn, black beans and pinto beans and mix.
·      Sprinkle the cheese on top. Cover and cook until heated through and cheese has melted, about 10 minutes longer.
·      Add additional toppings if desired.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Chicken Tortellini Soup with Fresh Parsley

I’m the person who is always cold. Always, always, always. And as I'm typing this, it's about 8 degrees outside, and apparently it’s only supposed to get colder. Which is not allowed.

I took out the trash this afternoon and it was so cold that my hands were burning and tingling by the time I got back inside. The only way to get warm is to stay under a heating blanket, and even that really isn’t enough. I need a heating blanket made into a body suit.

I suppose I could always turn up the heat in my apartment. But in order for me to be comfortable I’d have to turn it to about 78, and I do not have that kind of money.

So in the meantime, I’ll just pretend I’m in Cancun and eat soup. Lots of soup.

I grew up in a household where my mom always made homemade soup. It kills me that so many people buy canned soup when it’s just as cheap and easy to make it on at home. Not to mention, it’s healthier and it tastes infinitely better.

This chicken tortellini soup is my favorite. It’s bursting with flavor, which is unexpected when you first try it. The secret is to submerge a bundle of fresh parsley into the broth while it’s cooking. And you do that just long enough for the broth to soak up the parsley’s flavor.

So bundle up and pour yourself a generous helping of this delicious soup!

Chicken Tortellini Soup
Yield: 8 cups

·      1 and 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
·      1 and 1/2 cups chopped carrots (you need about 5 medium carrots)
·      1 cup chopped celery (you need about 3 stalks)
·      1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 small)
·      2 Tablespoons minced garlic
·      4 (14.5 oz) cans low sodium-chicken broth
·      1 and 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
·      Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
·      12 ounces refrigerated three cheese tortellini
·      Bundle of 1/2 cup parsley (stems and all tied together with twine)
·      3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken*

1.     Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat; add carrots, celery and onion and sauté until soft or about 4 minutes. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds longer.
2.     Pour in chicken broth and Italian seasoning and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover the pot and boil 5 minutes.
3.     Add tortellini and submerge bundle of parsley into broth. Cover and boil 8 more minutes.
4.     Remove parsley and stir in chicken. Cook until heated through, about 1 minute.
5.     Serve warm and topped with a few parsley leaves.

*If you don't want to buy a rotisserie chicken, you can cook 3 or 4 chicken breasts, shred them, and add them to the soup the same way you’d add the rotisserie chicken.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Classy. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Strawberry Cupcakes and a Sweet Send-Off

I started my journey at Fox59 two years ago as an intern. Every Friday I drove from Bloomington to Indianapolis at 1 a.m. to shadow the morning reporters during the AM show. On my first day I was assigned to tag along with Michael Henrich.

My first impression of Michael was that of amazement – I could not believe how much energy he had at 3 in the morning (this was before my coffee days)!!! Over the next few months I continued to shadow under Michael, and even though it was exhausting to drive to Indy in the middle of the night it was definitely worth it to be able to learn from him.

Not only did I learn about being in front of the camera and writing stories, but I also learned about how you can use journalism as a platform to really help people.

In July 2013, I got a full-time job at Fox59, and I became Michael’s co-worker. He has been a wonderful friend the past two years, and he has continued to mentor me and help me grow as a journalist.

Michael’s caring attitude is inspiring, and he really is just as genuine in person as he appears on TV.

Today is Michael’s last day as a reporter in Indy. He is starting a new job at Fox25 in Boston next week. And even though he will be greatly missed by all of his co-workers and fans here in Indiana, I am so incredibly excited for him and his family!

So of course, in order to properly celebrate his last day I made my favorite Sweet Strawberry Cupcakes. I also took some new pictures for this post with my new camera, and they are a big improvement from my last iPhone photo shoot.

Sweet Strawberry Cupcakes
Yield: 24 cupcakes

For the Cupcakes
·         1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
·         1 cup granulated sugar
·         1 large egg
·         3/4 cup milk
·         1/4 cup strawberry yogurt
·         1 teaspoon vanilla extract
·         1 and 2/3 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
·         1/2 teaspoon baking powder
·         1/4 teaspoon baking soda
·         1/4 teaspoon salt
·         5 large strawberries (fresh or frozen)

For the Cupcakes
1.     Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2.     Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.
3.     In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter in the microwave.
4.     Remove bowl from microwave and stir in sugar.
5.     Stir in egg, milk, yogurt, and vanilla extract until combined.
6.     In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
7.     Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and slowly mix until no lumps remain. Set aside.
8.     Put strawberries in a food processor and pulse until strawberries become a chunky puree. You should have about 1/3 cup.
9.     Add the strawberry puree to the bowl with the rest of the ingredients and fold it in.
10.  Divide the batter among the 12 cupcake liners.
11.  Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
12.  Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Now that you’ve made the cupcakes, choose from either the strawberry cream cheese frosting recipe of the strawberry buttercream recipe to frost them!

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
·         8 ounces strawberry cream cheese, softened to room temperature
·         1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
·         3 cups confectioners' sugar
·         2 tablespoons heavy cream
·         2 teaspoons vanilla extract
·         1/4 teaspoon salt

1.     In a medium bowl beat the strawberry cream cheese and the butter together on medium speed for 3 minutes.
2.     Add 1/2 cup of the confectioners’ sugar and beat until combined
3.     Add another 1/2 cup of confectioners’ sugar and beat again
4.     Continue process until you’ve added and beaten all the confectioners’ sugar
5.     Add the heavy cream, vanilla extract, and salt
6.     Beat on medium speed for another 2 minutes

Strawberry Buttercream Frosting
·         1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
·         1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
·         1/3 cup strawberry preserves
·         4 cups confectioners’ sugar
·         2 tablespoons heavy cream
·         1/2 teaspoon salt

1.     Beat butter and vanilla together for 2 minutes
2.     Add strawberry jam and beat for another 2 minutes
3.     Add 1 cup of the confectioners’ sugar and beat until combined
4.     Add another 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar and beat again
5.     Continue process until you’ve added and beaten all the confectioners’ sugar
6.     Add the heavy cream and salt
7.     Beat on medium speed for another 2 minutes

1.     It may seem silly to beat the butter for so long in the frosting recipes, but it’s completely necessary. It makes the frosting fluffy and ensures that you don’t end up with chunks of butter when biting into your cupcake.
2.     The amount of confectioners’ sugar in a frosting recipe controls the thickness of the frosting. If you think your frosting is too thin or if it isn't holding shape just add more confectioners’ sugar.

Goodbye, Michael! (Not sure why Intern Kylee was holding a banana)
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