Halloween Bark

This recipe makes me so excited (!!!) For these reasons:

1. It’s delicious.

2. It’s easy.

3. It’s festive, fun and colorful and just screams Halloween!

image (1)Bark is pretty much the best thing that can happen to candy because it’s simply a delivery system for more candy in the form of chocolate.

All I did was melt dark chocolate, pour it onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and top it with handfuls of whatever delicious Halloween-esque candy on top.

For the candy, I went with: candy corn, Fall-colored M&M’s, crushed pretzels, chopped Reese’s PEANUT BUTTER pumpkins. Yes, they are amazing and only sold at Target, from what I can tell. Oh, and then I went ahead and threw sprinkles all over the top. Because, well, it’s sprinkles.

Pop it in the freezer, and you have the perfect sweet, salty, chocolate-y treat. And the best part? You could totally use this recipe with any leftover candy from Halloween you might have.

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Halloween Bark

  • 1/2 lb. dark chocolate (or white, milk, semisweet, etc.) I used a bar from Trader Joe’s
  • 1 cup mixed candy of your choice (I used candy corn, MnM’s, sprinkles, chopped Reese’s peanut butter pumpkins)
  • 1/4 cup chopped pretzels

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Melt chocolate in the microwave, in increments of 20 seconds, or until smooth. Pour on top of parchment paper. Immediately sprinkle candies and pretzels on top of the chocolate, and press in slightly. Place in freezer for 30 minutes, or until completely set and solid. Remove from freezer and break into chunks of your choice of size. Store in an airtight container in the freezer.

 

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Spiced Chocolate Donuts with Spiced Chocolate Glaze (Gluten Free!)

I have gone donut crazy. I picked up a donut pan (the same one can be found here), and now I have about a billion recipes floating around in my head and jotted down in a notebook.

I’m super fall obsessed, like pretty much 99% of every one else in the world right now. So, why not celebrate with chocolate donuts kicked up a notch with warm autumnal spices? Sound good? Good.

pumpkin

Now, let me say one thing: I am not gluten intolerant, nor do I follow a gluten-free diet. I purely wanted to play around with coconut and almond flour. Being the baking-obsessed person that I am, new ingredients intrigue and excite me, and when I heard about these new flours, I just had to see what all of the fuss was about.

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Let me also preface this by saying coconut flour can’t be used in a one-to-one ratio with all-purpose flour. –Elana of the blog Elana’s Pantry does a great job of explaining different flours here) and her blog is amazing! Anyways, almond flour is simply blanched almonds that have been ground up to make a flour and it can be used in baking, breading for chicken and even pancakes!


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So let’s get to the donuts, shall we?

These are spicy, warm, chocolaty and perfectly soft. After being baked, they are dipped in a glaze simply made with chocolate chips, coconut oil and the same spices found in the donut itself.

The cake part of the donut is rich and chocolate-y and the spice is subtle. I decided to use dark cocoa powder to increase the depth of chocolate flavor, and honestly, I would even add more spice next time. I used maple syrup instead of sugar because I think it compliments the chocolate well and spices like cinnamon and maple syrup go hand-in-hand. Using coconut oil was a new thing for me, and I loved how soft it made the donuts; but you can certainly use canola/vegetable oil instead. All in all, this donut is spiced chocolate euphoria, and no, sprinkles are not optional.

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Spiced Chocolate Donuts with Spiced Chocolate Glaze

For the donuts:

  • 3/4 c. almond flour
  • 1/4 c. coconut flour
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. baking soda
  • 1 T coconut oil, melted
  • 4 T maple syrup
  • 3 T dark cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4-1/2 cup almond milk (you may need more if the dough seems dry)
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t. ground nutmeg
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 t. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/8 t. cloves
  • 1/8 t. salt

For the glaze:

  • 1/4 c. chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life chunks)
  • 1-2 T coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 T pumpkin pie spice

*This recipe makes 8 donuts, but the pan only holds 6. You will have to bake the last two donuts after the first 6 have cooled slightly and you can remove them from the pan*

1. Preheat oven to 350F and spray cavities of donut pan with non-stick spray.

2. While oven is preheating, combine all ingredients in a large bowl just until combined and until mixture is smooth *At this point, you may need to add more milk if the mixture appears dry. If so, add a tablespoon at a time*

3. Using a spoon, spread the batter in the donut cavities, only until 3/4 the way full.

4. Bake in oven for 8-10 minutes, or until baked through and toothpick comes out clean. Let donuts cool in pan for 1-2 minutes, then remove them and let them cool on a wire cooling rack.

5. While the donuts are cooling, make the glaze. For this, melt the coconut oil in a small, microwave-safe bowl in the microwave for about 20 seconds, or until coconut oil is melted. Then stir in the chocolate chunks and the spices.

6. Dip each donut in the glaze and top with sprinkles, if desired. The donuts will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

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Health(ier) Buffalo Chicken French Bread Pizzas

Welcome to the childhood food of your dreams. (What, you didn’t love hot sauce on your french bread pizzas growing up?) Or the next addition to your football Sunday feast. Or these make a great weeknight dinner! Paired with a salad, or beer. It’s all about balance, people.

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This isn’t your typical french bread pizza. In fact, it pretty much tastes like buffalo chicken dip on a piece of crusty bread. The beauty of this dish is that it’s easy, and can be adjusted to your tastes. Don’t like buffalo sauce? Mix in some BBQ sauce with your chicken. Not a fan of cheddar? Top it with feta or blue or ANY cheese for that matter. My one requirement? Make sure you slather the homemade Greek yogurt cheddar Ranch on the bread. YUM.

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So, make these. STAT. Everyone on Football Sunday will thank you.

Health(ier) Buffalo Chicken French Bread Pizzas

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 c. chicken stock
  • 1/2 T cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 c. buffalo wing sauce (I used Frank’s)
  • 1 c. fat free plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 t. dried dill
  • 1 t. garlic powder
  • 1 t. onion powder
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 t. black pepper
  • 2 wedges Laughing Cow white cheddar
  • 1 whole grain french baguette, sliced in half and cut into pieces
  • 1/2 c. reduced-fat cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350F. While oven is preheating, combing cayenne pepper, chicken stock and chicken breast in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower heat and simmer until chicken is completely cooked through. Remove chicken from stock and let cool on a cutting board.

2. While chicken is cooling, combing yogurt, dill, garlic and onion powders, salt, pepper and Laughing Cow white cheddar in a sauce pan and cook on low until smooth, whisking occasionally.

3. When chicken is cooled, shred with hands or fork and combine in a bowl with buffalo wing sauce.

4. Place baguette pieces on a cookie sheet and divide and spread the Greek yogurt mixture on each piece of baguette. Divide the chicken between each of the baguette pieces. Sprinkle with cheese.

5. Bake until cheese is melted and bread is crisp, about 15 minutes. Serve!

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Simple Herbed Quinoa

I’m all about simple meals. Let’s hope-considering simple is the title of my blog! I’m almost embarrassed to call the below a “recipe,” but quinoa is one finicky little ingredient and it can very well go from soupy to crunchy and burnt in a matter of minutes.

BUT, I’m here to change all that. No more throwing an already-expensive grain in the trash. Grains and rice can be pretty bland, but herbs make all the difference. This turns quinoa from boring and blah to fresh and flavorful.

Also, please be patient with my photos…still learning the ropes of a fancy camera! (Yes after years of having this blog, I’m still camera inept).

 

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Here’s the recipe, step by step.

1. Using a sieve, rinse and drain one cup of quinoa and pour into a medium-sized pot. Next, add two cups of chicken stock and stir to combine.

 

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2. Bring quinoa to a boil and then cover tightly. If your cover is too big or doesn’t seal tightly, here’s a tip: place a piece of foil in between the pot and the lid, and your pot will be completely sealed. 007

3. Simmer on medium-low for about 20-30 minutes. It’s best to start on low heat to be on the safe side, and check it after 15 minutes. If it’s still quite watery, turn the heat up and put the lid back on to continue cooking. While the quinoa cooks, chop up your herbs. You can use any mixture of herbs you’d like. I love scallions, parsley, basil and cilantro. You can use any combination, but in this recipe, I stick to scallions and parsley. Chop about 1/2 cup of each herb of your choosing.

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4. Next, this quinoa needs some seasoning! Again, this can be any seasoning you choose, but I prefer 1/2 teaspoon each of Adobe all-purpose seasoning, black pepper and cayenne pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt.009

5. When the quinoa is finished cooking, the liquid should be completely absorbed and you should see small holes on the surface. Once it’s cooked, fluff with a fork and stir in the spices.008

6. Lastly, stir in your chopped, fresh herbs and the best part? A squeeze of lemon juice (I usually use an entire lemon for one pot of quinoa). The lemon juice really brightens up the quinoa and compliments the herbs nicely.

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This is perfect with chicken, salmon, shrimp, pork chops. I have a feeling this will be your go-to side dish!

Simple Herbed Quinoa

  • 1 c. quinoa, drained and rinsed
  • 2 c.  chicken/veggie stock
  • 1 c. chopped herbs (1/2 c. each chopped scallions, parsley, basil, cilantro)
  • 1/2 t. Adobe all-purpose seasoning
  • 1/2 t. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 t. black pepper
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • Juice of one lemon

1. Combine quinoa and stock over medium heat and bring to a boil.

2. Once boiling, tightly cover and bring to a simmer on low-medium heat.

3. While quinoa is cooking, chop fresh herbs and lemon.

4. Once quinoa is cooked, fluff with a fork and stir in herbs, seasoning and lemon.

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Carrot Cake Pancake Muffins

Fall is finally here. Thank goodness! My absolute favorite season is the best one for so many reasons:  hot chocolate, hot cider, apple picking, pumpkin picking, piles of amber and golden leaves, crisp, cool air and every type of comfort food imaginable.

It’s 57 here in New York and I’m already under a blanket, but that doesn’t say much since the 70’s is cold for me. I’m pathetic.

This recipe I actually dug up from the summer- on one of those days where I likely suddenly got nostalgic for the holiday season and wanted the 90-degree weather to turn into the fall. So naturally I turned on the oven and whipped up some muffins.

 

Carrot Cake Muffin

These muffins are a cinch to make, specifically because of the use of this:

Pancake Mix

love this pancake mix. I’ve seen it pop up all over the blog world, and while on a shopping spree at Target, I spotted it and immediately threw it into my cart. It’s slightly sweet and hearty at the same time thanks to the mix of whole wheat and oats.

I’ve never made homemade carrot cake, but I had a TON of carrots hanging out in my crisper and I figured they would add a pop of color and increase the moisture level of these muffins. Plus, carrot cake always includes warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, so I knew it would be a win win for my fall-obsessed self.

These are perfect for fall (or any morning!) for a quick, on-the-go breakfast and they taste even better the next day as all the spices further develop. Slather one of these in peanut butter and you’ll be in heaven; or pair it with a smoothie or yogurt for a filling breakfast.

Either way, these are the perfect taste of fall any time of the year!

Carrot Cake Pancake Muffins

  • 1 egg
  • 2 c. pancake mix
  • 1/2 c applesauce
  • 2 T honey
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
  • 1/2 t pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 c finely grated carrot

Preheat oven to 375F. Either spray the cavities of a muffin tin with non-stick spray or line with muffin liners. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well until smooth and divide batter evenly among muffin tins. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

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Parmesan and Pesto Quinoa

It’s been forever. Forever and ever since I’ve posted. And well, SO many things have changed. I’ve moved to New York with Chris, he is now an orthopedic surgery resident (!) and I have a completely new job. After over a year of dramatic life changes, tough times (and great ones), I finally feel like I can sit down, take a deep breath and put all of my effort and attention towards what’s really important in my life.

One of those is definitely this blog. To kick off the new chapter in my life and Simple Eats, I’m bring you a delicious recipe that couldn’t be easier, thanks to a fantastic product I was graciously given to try out…

Flavor Bombs!

Each of these cups contains a different mixture of vegetables and spices, perfect for mixing into rice, pasta, soups, stews, dips, as a spread for sandwiches and in rubs/marinades for meat. Honestly, there’s not much you can’t do with this stuff!

I had already used the mirepoix Flavor Bomb (onion, carrot, celery) in a quick chicken noodle soup (which turned out so well); but this time, I wanted to make something a little bit different.

That’s when I thought of using the basil Flavor Bomb (basil, garlic, pignoli, cheese) to create a pesto dish with quinoa.

Plus, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice brightened up the entire dish. Yum!

Parmesan & Pesto Quinoa

  • 1 c. quinoa
  • 2 c. chicken broth
  • 2 T Basil Flavor Bomb
  • 2 T parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t ground black pepper
  • Juice of one lemon
  1. Combine quinoa and chicken broth in a medium/large sized pot and bring to a boil over medium heat.
  2. Once quinoa/broth is boiling, lower heat to a simmer and cover with a lid. 
  3. Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until liquid has absorbed and quinoa is cooked completely.
  4. Turn off heat and stir in flavor bomb, salt, pepper, and parmesan.
  5. Pour lemon juice onto quinoa and stir everything to combine.
  6. Serve hot, room temperature or cold.

 

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Frozen Brownie Batter Bites

Hello, hello!

Well, it’s been a LONG time. How many times have I said that? Probably too many. To the few readers I have left out there, I’m back! The blog is back in action and while I won’t be posting as much as I’d like (still, hopefully a few times a week), I’m definitely back for good.

So, let’s start out with something delicious, shall we?

I can’t believe I’m actually calling these a “recipe,” considering they’re pretty mindless to make, but they formed into something that has become one of my favorite quick and healthy (!) night time treats.

A few of these are usually accompanied by watching as many episodes of Dexter I can fit into my night before turning in. Also, if you haven’t watched Dexter, do it. There are 8 seasons in all, and I’m already on season 5! I’m not sure if that’s sad impressive.

Either way, these little bites of deliciousness will go with any TV show, movie, and I’m sure they’d make great pre-workout fuel.

These were actually a happy accident. I first concocted the “batter” for these bites when I was craving something sweet. Almond butter was my base and I pretty much threw in every chocolate thing I could find.

Let me say that this is equally as delicious warm, and when it’s warm it tastes like hot out of the oven brownie batter. Seriously. But for pictures?

…Not the most photogenic. Let’s just say trying to snap an appetizing picture of something that resembles dirt is far from easy.

SO…I rolled the batter into balls and froze them. And whaddya know, they tasted just as good frozen. The extra roll in cocoa powder didn’t hurt, either.

Bonus: these are vegan & gluten-free!

Frozen Brownie Batter Bites

(makes 6-8 bites)

-Place all ingredients into a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 20-40 seconds, or until warm and chocolate chips are melted. Enjoy as is, or let mixture cool until room temperature to form into bites. Once cooled, roll into tablespoon-sized balls and place on a foil or parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze for at least an hour. Store in an airtight container.

Hope you enjoy these!

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The Market

I have a secret, and it’s something I’m not ashamed of at all to share on this little ol’ blog. I love grocery stores, always have and always will. There’s something so comforting and exciting to me about wandering the aisles, looking for new products and putting meals together on the fly based on what’s fresh and in season.

Well, imagine my utter excitement when I was contacted to see if I’d like to see what a lovely grocery store called The Market  had to offer!

This adorable and quaint store is located in Plymouth, Massachusetts, right near Cape Cod. The store is one of its kind and is part of the village of Pinehills, a living community. Open for about five years, The Market offers everything from fresh-baked goods and breads, to sushi made on-site and an array of local products.

When I walked up to the front of the store, I loved the fact that everything was already decorated for fall, and they even had a giant pumpkin in the entrance! I didn’t even begin to guess how much it weighed.

Once I walked in, I was hit with the wonderful aroma of freshly-baked cookies, among other lovely smells. Sue, the wonderful general manager, was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule and show me around the store. It was great to get a first-hand account of a store so unique!

Sue told me that all of the meats are fresh and hand-ground (like an old-fashioned butcher shop!); the produce and seafood are super fresh and delivered daily; and most of the baked goods are homemade!

I wanted one of everything.

Plus, take a look at this amazing cheese display- many of the cheeses have descriptions, which can help the customer choose which one to serve at a dinner party, or which one will go best in a pasta dish or with fruit and crackers.

The prepared foods section is run by an actual chef, Chef Dane Axon, who creates new and exciting dishes every single day. All of the salads and entrees are prepared fresh daily; there’s truly something for everyone. When I was there they had barbecue pork and macaroni and cheese! Oh, and don’t forget the handmade pizzas they bake in their stone pizza oven. And there’s even a woman whose sole job is only to make sushi!

The aisles are filled with freshly-made trail mixes, nuts and other goodies, and I loved the pour-your-own olive oil and balsamic vinegar stations!

The most unique aspect of The Market and the part that really touched near and dear to me was their partnership with Jordan Hospital and their program, Mass in Motion: Healthy Plymouth. Within their partnership, there are select products scattered all over the store that are labeled as healthier, in order to encourage and promote healthy living for Plymouth residents.

I also couldn’t help but want to purchase all of the yummy local and unique products I had never heard of. Pizza from a local cafe, creamy, local yogurt and gourmet chocolate bars? Yes, please!

I was lucky enough to leave with a few goodies of my own on behalf of The Market, and I must say, I loved absolutely everything. The Market was fantastic, and I just wish I lived closer so I could shop there! I have express my thanks again for the invitation, and if you ever find yourself in Plymouth, please go there!

 

 

Posted in New England Fun, travel, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Grilling Out with Applegate

Happy 5th of July!

Even though the 4th of July is over, there’s still plenty of time for grilling out in the hot summer months!

I was recently contacted by Applegate, which I have loved for such a long time. Their meats are organic and all-natural and most importantly, taste fantastic! You’ve probably seen or heard about their “Cleaner wiener” campaign and I love how clever it is. They’re really working on cleaning up America’s favorite meats!

Applegate was kind enough to send me a whole box of their delicious meat products, and there’s no better way to enjoy them than on the grill!

A few facts about Applegate:

  • Applegate meats are simple: just beef, water, sea salt and spices–and they have much less fat and sodium than other hot dogs
  • They’re made with meat from animals never administered antibiotics or hormones
  • Like all Applegate products, they contain no artificial ingredients or preservatives
So, let’s get grillin’!

These were my absolute favorite. I love hot dogs, and these had a smoky, apple flavor that was the perfect salty-sweet combo.

Once I grilled some of these, I only wished I would have bought crescent dough to make pigs in a blanket, but these were so delicious on their own.

And what’s the best accompaniment to hot dogs? Pasta salad and corn on the cob! Not just any corn on the cob, I slathered the corn with light butter, sprinkled it with chili powder and sea salt and placed it on the grill for 20 minutes. Perfection.

Perfect summer supper!

Disclaimer: The Applegate products have been provided by Applegate and my opinions are completely my own.

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Blueberry Citrus Muffins

My mom always has and still does cook everything from scratch. Homemade tomato sauce, soup, fried chicken (yum)- you name it and she can cook it. When I was younger, she would often make muffins on the weekend. I would run down the stairs, awoken from the scent of orange peel, butter and sugar lingering around the house. I knew this scent from a mile away, she had just baked her orange blueberry muffins.

I would sit down at the breakfast bar, and she would place a big muffin, bursting with fresh blueberries onto a plate in front of me. Where I would no sooner face plant straight into the muffin and devour it, ignoring the accompanying bowl of fresh fruit she had placed next to it. What can I say, I have my priorities in line.

She said the secret was the sour cream, which kept the muffin soft, and fluffy and her crumb topping was out of this world. The sweet, crunchy combination of brown sugar, oats and butter was my favorite part, and the bright specks of orange zest was the perfect addition.

Years later (as in last year), I was visiting my parents this conversation occurred:

“Mom, I could really go for batch of your blueberry muffins…You know, the ones with the crumb topping?”

Mom: “Ooooh, I haven’t made those in years. *rummages around pantry* Sorry honey, I don’t have a box of the mix anywhere in the pantry.”

My jaw dropped. “Wait, what? Those aren’t your own recipe?!”

Mom: *laughing* “Nope! I just always doctored up a boxed mix. I did have you fooled though, huh?!”

My world was over. Not really, but I was surprised. Leave it to my mom to never truly use something that isn’t hers. When it doubt, make it your own.

I had a hankering for those very muffins this weekend, and I came up with something pretty close.

So mom, here’s a muffin for you. Thanks for all of those yummy breakfasts when I was little.

Blueberry Citrus Muffins

-adapted from The Teacher Cooks-

makes 1 dozen

Muffins:

  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1 c non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 1/3 c canola oil
  • 1 t freshly grated lemon rind
  • 1 t freshly grated orange rind
  • 2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 T freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 1/2 c frozen blueberries tossed in 1 T all purpose flour

Crumb topping:

  • 1/2 c. oats
  • 1 T brown sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. In a large bowl, sift together flour and baking powder. Stir in sugar.

3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together eggs, vanilla, Greek yogurt, canola oil, lemon juice, lemon rind, orange juice and orange rind until combined.

4. Add wet mixture to dry mixture until combined and stir in blueberries just until combined.

5. Spoon into a lined muffin tin (I used a medium-sized cookie scoop and it worked well). Mix together crumb topping ingredients and sprinkle crumb topping on top of each muffin.

6. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

 

 

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