Grilled Chicken with Roasted Eggplant

DSCN2039My oldest loves to learn about other countries and cultures.  She often checks out books at the library about countries she would like to experience.  This year in CC we are studying ancient civilizations and many of her books have coordinated a great deal with our curriculum.  My sweet children are a lot like their mother.  They love to relate to anything through food, and they have been asking most of the school year to cook some of the food from one of these books.

I agreed to let her choose a meal for dinner.  She and her brother wanted lamb kebobs from Turkey.  I love lamb, but I’ve never been brave enough to cook it myself.  With our budget, I couldn’t imagine spending the money for the lamb and not cooking it properly.  I managed to convince them that we should try the recipe with chicken instead.  Chicken is so far from lamb it’s ridiculous, and part of me felt really horrible about it.  I told them we would still use the same spices and flavorings.  I forgot the oregano at the store, so we made some adjustments with Italian seasoning.  It may not be authentic to the book, but this recipe was inspired by a recipe from the book on Turkey.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs. boneless chicken breasts cut into cubes
  • salt to taste
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 3/4 c olive oil
  • 1/3 c lemon juice
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 3 Tbsp. dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp. course ground pepper
  • about 10 mini sweet bell peppers, cut into large pieces
  • 1 large eggplant cut into cubes

In a blender, combine the salt, pepper, onion, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and Italian seasoning.  Blend until it forms a paste.  Place the cubed chicken into one gallon sized Ziploc bag and the eggplant and peppers into a separate bag.  Pour half of the marinade into each bag, seal, and massage the bags to make sure the paste covers all the meat and veggies.  Place the bags in the refrigerator and let marinate for at least 30 minutes.  We let ours sit for 2-3 hours.

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Remove the meat from the bag and place onto skewers.  Heat your grill pan or grill, and spray or coat with oil to prevent sticking.  I used medium high heat.  Place the skewers on the grill pan and cook until you see beautiful grill marks and your chicken is cooked on one side.  After about 10 minutes, turn the chicken over and continue until cooked through.

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You can skewer and cook the eggplant on the grill as well, but I did not have enough space.  Instead I roasted the eggplant in our oven.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Spread the peppers and eggplant on a large greased cookie sheet.  For easy cleanup, I lined my sheet with aluminum foil and then greased. Bake until the veggies are tender, about 30 minutes.

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Before

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After

We served the chicken and veggies with rice and salad. A healthy dinner served and lots of happy faces!

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Honey Balsamic Kale with Onions

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My children LOVE kale!  For a while they were obsessed with kale chips like the rest of the world. What’s not to like? You get to flavor them any way you want, they’re crunchy and salty and just yummy.  But…there is always a but.  Their father wouldn’t eat kale chips.

I would sauté kale for him and make kale chips for the kids.  My oldest became more adventurous and started eating the sautéed kale, but my middle and little would not.  I was determined not to make  two types of kale every. single. time.  Once in a while was one thing, but it was getting ridiculous, especially with the amount of kale we were eating.  When I came up with this recipe, it solved my problems.

The honey and balsamic vinegar mixed with the caramelized onions takes away some of the bitterness that is not always appealing to younger palates.  Kale chips are still popular, but this is a flavor filled side dish that satisfies everyone in the house!

Ingredients:

  •  1 lb kale, rinsed and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 gloves garlic, minced
  • 2 c chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 c balsamic vinegar
  • 1-2 Tbsp honey
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, over medium heat, heat the butter and olive oil.  Once the butter has melted, add your sliced onions.  Cook them over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they start to caramelize.

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This may take a while_10-15 minutes or so. Be patient. Cooking them slowly releases all the delicious sugars in the onions. The longer you cook them the softer and more sugary they get.  So if you want to get these nice and brown before adding the kale, go for it.  It will only get better.  Add the minced garlic, stir, and cook about 2 minutes more.   Add the chopped kale, broth, vinegar, salt, and pepper and stir. Drizzle honey and stir again. Start with a tablespoon and adjust as needed for your taste.  Cover the pot and allow the kale to cook until it wilts and is tender.  It should take around 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Disco Cake

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I survived Birthday Season!  Not only did I survive my family’s baking frenzy, I actually took an order for an additional birthday at the end.  I had a lot of fun making this Disco Cake for a sweet girl’s 10th birthday.  She’s having a skating party with a 70’s theme. Homemade vanilla almond cake, homemade buttercream, homemade fondant, all yum!  It is super cute.  Now my oldest is thinking she may want the same thing for her next birthday.

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Pumpkin Oat Muffins

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I feel like I’m stuck in November.  I blinked and now  it’s over.  I had all these things I wanted to share from “Birthday Season” at my house.  This was the most overwhelming season yet.  I don’t really know what happened.  The dates haven’t changed.  I have my husband’s birthday, then 8 days later we celebrate my youngest, then 6 days after that we celebrate my oldest.  Let’s not forget Thanksgiving.  I have a minute to rest and then my middle child celebrates next week. Somehow this year felt more stressful, which means I’ll be playing catch up for a little while.

The upside of my feeling like I’m still in November is that I am still burying myself in lots of pumpkin.  I have kind of become addicted to these muffins.  I’m a stress eater.  I’m not proud of it, but it’s just the way it is.  My father used to drive me crazy when he would tell me, “I eat to live.  I don’t live to eat.”  One of the many many ways he and I are different.

But with these muffins I really don’t feel bad.  They have lots of fiber and not too much sugar.  The kids and I eat them for breakfast and snack a lot.  They’re great to grab as you’re heading out the door and they are really filling.

Ingredients:

  • 2 c quick cooking oats
  • 1 c oat bran
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum (optional);
  • 1/2, 15 oz. can pumpkin
  • 1/2 c dried cranberries
  • 2/3 c sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c coconut oil
  • 1 c milk
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 c chopped pecans (optional)

How to:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and grease your muffin tin or line with muffin cups. In a large bowl combine your dry ingredients: oats, oat bran, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, and sugar.  Add the dried cranberries and optional pecans to the dry ingredients and stir.  In a separate bowl, combine the egg, milk, and pumpkin.  Pour the mixture into dry ingredients and stir.  Add the coconut oil and stir until combined.  Spoon the batter into the muffins tins and bake for 18-20 minutes.  The batter will yield 12-14 muffins.

 

Apple Muffins

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I finally got a picture!

Where are the pictures you ask? I apologize up front, but somehow I have made these muffins a number of times and we have managed to eat them all before I could get a picture.  It doesn’t make sense and it doesn’t seem right, but it’s the truth.  Apparently, we have no self control.  I thought about delaying the post until I could make another batch, but we ate our last apples at lunch today.  I’ll post a photo as soon as I make a new batch.  Yes, I am THAT scatter brained this school year.

For whatever reason I have a need to mark every occasion with food.  I don’t have any profound explanation.  I simply LOVE to eat and food transports me to particular places and times in my mind.  It comforts me, brings back great memories of the people I was with, and simply puts a smile on my face.

Sometimes I wonder if  it’s because I’m from Louisiana and so many parts of our culture, life, and celebrations revolve around food. I think I’ve always been that way, and now my children have firmly planted their footprints on the same path.  They now think every event should be acknowledged with food.  I have succeeded in my brainwashing efforts:}

When we returned to school when I was a child, it was always in September. There was always a special breakfast to mark the transition. You would head out into the crisp morning with your new clothes and a full belly.  When I think of fall and the start of school, my mind automatically goes to apples. What “Back to School” sign, poster, or calendar have you ever seen without an apple?

Although we started school in August, I was compelled to use apples on our first day to really set the mood.  Our Classical Conversations group meets on Mondays and we marked our first week of school with the start of CC. I LOVE starting the week with something fresh from the oven. The kids woke up to the smell of cinnamon. This is the recipe for our hearty muffins that put a smile on everyone’s face.

Ingredients:

  • 2 c quick cooking oats
  • 1 c oat flour
  • 2/3 c sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 3/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 apples, chopped
  • 1 1/2 c applesauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 1/2 c coconut or canola oil
  • 1/2 c chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl combine the dry ingredients: oats, oat flour, sugar, baking soda, xanthan gum, and cinnamon.  Toss the chopped apples and walnuts with the dry ingredients.  There is no need to peel the apples.  In a separate small bowl combine the wet ingredients: applesauce, eggs, milk, and oil, if using canola oil.  If using coconut oil, stir it in at the end because the cold milk and eggs will cause the oil to solidify. Spoon the batter into greased muffin tins.  Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 18-20  minutes.  Makes 1 dozen muffins.

Enjoy warm from the oven or later as a snack!

Blueberry Oat Muffins

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I know I’ve posted blueberry recipes before, but my children love them.  We keep frozen blueberries on hand year round. In the summer months you can always find fresh ones in our fridge.  We eat them as snacks, use them in our oatmeal, bowls of yogurt, smoothies, scones, coffee cake, ….and…and…and…and of course blueberry muffins.

This version of our muffins is wheat free.  We started making them with oat flour due to my son’s allergies to wheat and rice.  They are a nice alternative to our Wheat Free Blueberry Scones when we have less time in the morning.  The kids and I LOVE baked goods in the morning for breakfast and these also make great snacks.  These muffins don’t have a ton of sugar, so I don’t feel bad covering them with my optional lemon glaze.  Lemon and blueberries scream summer to me.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 c Oat Flour
  • 1c quick oats
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 c blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 6 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1/3 c Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 c milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Combine the dry ingredients (oat flour, oats, baking powder, sugar, and salt).  Toss in blueberries.  Add melted butter.  In a separate small bowl, combine the milk, yogurt, and egg.  Add to the dry mix and butter.  Don’t over mix; simply stir until all of the ingredients are combined.

Grease muffin tins or place liners into muffin pans.  Fill muffin tins.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until tops are golden brown. This recipe makes 1 dozen muffins.  Let cool in pan for 5 minutes before removing.  The muffins are delicate.

Optional Lemon Glaze

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 c powdered sugar

Stir the lemon juice and sugar until they form a smooth glaze.

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Carefully dip the tops of the muffins into the glaze.  Serve warm and enjoy.

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Morning Glory Carrot Oat Muffins

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My kids LOVE their daddy!  There is something super special about that relationship. I feel so fortunate I get a front row seat to view that kind of love.  When he gets home in the evenings the screams and squeals can hardly be contained. I’m sure many of you can relate.  I mean all we’re missing is the Ticker Tape Parade.  So, when he had to go out of town for work, they missed him terribly. At one point I was wondering if my oldest was going to survive the four whole days!?!?

My husband LOVES Carrot Cake, but I don’t make it as often as I used to.  I actually have been a little lazy lately and hadn’t made these muffins for a while either.  These are something we make when we have the taste for Carrot Cake, but want a healthier and quicker option. Carrot Cake taste, no Cream Cheese Icing needed.  They make a great breakfast addition or snack.  They have veggies and fruit and make you feel like you’re having cake for breakfast…WIN…WIN!  My version is made with quick cooking oats and oat flour so my entire family can enjoy them.  They freeze well, so you can make a bunch and keep them on hand, and pop them in the microwave for about 45 seconds to enjoy.

My kids like to crowd in the kitchen to make these. My husband returned home from his trip pretty late and they wanted him to wake up to something they knew would make him smile. They actually came looking for me to make sure I was up early enough to make them.   I should probably rename these” Daddy’s Muffins” because they often suggest these when they are trying to do something special for him.

Ingredients:

  • 1 c quick cooking oats
  • 1c oat flour
  • 1 c sugar
  • 2 tsp baking saoda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp ginger (you may also add a tsp of ginger)
  • 2 c grated carrots
  • 1/2 c raisins
  • 1/2 c shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 c chopped pecans (optional)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c oil (I generally use coconut or canola.)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 apple or pear, cored and shredded
  • 1/4 c unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/4 c ground flax meal (optional)

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ginger, and xanthan gum.  Stir in carrots, raisins, coconut, and pecans.  In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, oil, vanilla, and apple.  Add to the flour mixture.  Stir until combined.  Spoon into greased muffin tins.  Bake for 18-20 minutes.  Makes 18 muffins.

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