Banana Oat Energy Cookies



Let’s give it up for being home from college and having a full pantry loaded with spices and ingredients. And also for only knocking down the stack of cookies twice before I snapped a picture.

IMG_3557These cookies are healthier than most (no butter, flour, or sugar!) And, they can actually be made into banana oat energy bars by pressing them and baking in an 8×8 pan. And on top of being healthy, this is a perfect way to use up ripe bananas.

Originally from Sally’s Baking Addiction [makes about 20 cookies]
*This recipe is easily adaptable. You can cut the honey/syrup out if you want it less sweet, swap chocolate chips for coconut, or add nuts and seeds. I used peanut butter instead of almond butter, cut the amount of honey in half, and added a few teaspoons of both chia seeds and hemp hearts.

2 and 1/3 cups quick oats
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup almond butter
1/4 cup pure maple syrup or honey
2 large ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
1/3 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 325F degrees. Grease or line large cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.
2. Combine all of the ingredients into a large bowl. Using a large rubber spatula or wooden spoon, mix until all of the ingredients are thoroughly combined. The dough will be sticky and thick.
IMG_35403. Each cookie will be 1.5 Tablespoons of dough. Drop this amount onto prepared cookie sheet and slightly flatten the tops into desired thickness. The cookies will not spread in the oven.
IMG_35414. Bake for 15 minutes until edges are very slightly brown. Don’t bake any longer or the cookies will taste dry. Allow to cool on the cookie sheets completely. Cookies stay fresh at room temperature for 1 week. Cookies can be frozen up to 3 months.


Egg Salad Sandwich



IMG_3421                                                                   On homemade honey wheat bread!

I don’t know why I love egg salad sandwiches so much, but I do. And I loved them even more after I found out how easy they are to make. These are creamy and have great flavor from the chopped dill and ground pepper!

Originally from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe [makes about 5 sandwiches]
10 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
1/4 cup light or regular mayonnaise
1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh dill, plus more to taste, if needed
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice (1/2 teaspoon or so)
Salt and pepper to taste
10 slices hearty whole-grain bread

1. Cut the eggs into quarters and place in a medium bowl. Add the mayo, yogurt, dill, and lemon.
2. Using a fork, combine and lightly mash the mixture until the ingredients are mixed and the eggs are the desired size. I prefer my egg salad with pretty good texture – so I try to keep the stirring/mashing to a minimum.
3. Add salt and pepper to taste and lightly combine.
4. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve on sandwiches.

Lemon Cookies

Another guest post by the infamous twin sister (see her Black Bean Burgers below.) And the first dessert post on this website, which is crazy, because baking desserts is my favorite thing to do. I present to you: LEMON COOKIES!

These lemons cookies are so, so, so good. I’m definitely a chocolate lover, but these cookies don’t make me miss chocolate chips. These cookies have a shortbread quality to them, and when paired with the fresh lemon flavor, they are the perfect dessert.
                                                          Photo from original recipe, Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

Recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe [makes 2-3 dozen]
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, from about 1/2 lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheets with silpat liners, parchment, or lightly coat with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, egg, lemon zest and juice and mix well, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the dry ingredients (except the powdered sugar) and mix until just combined. Place the powdered sugar on a large plate or shallow pie dish. Roll tablespoon-size balls of dough in the powdered sugar to coat. Place on the prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.
3. Bake the cookies for 9-11 minutes. The cookies will not be browned on the edges but they will have lost a bit of their shininess on top. Don’t overbake! Cool the cookies on a cooling rack and store in an airtight container or eat immediately.

Black Bean Burgers

Introducing: GUEST POST BY MY TWIN SISTER (!!!) Don’t know why I need to introduce her because she’s the only one who visits my little website. But nonetheless, here she is with her recipes that my taste buds applaud.

Hello everyone! I’m Anna, Erin’s twin sister and fellow kitchen-experimenter. Today I’m guest blogging to share two of my new and favorite recipes, a perfect dinner-dessert combo: black bean burgers and lemon cookies. (Lemon cookies on the next post!)

bean        bean1

A couple months ago I tasted “fake” meat for the first time. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that the “chicken patty” had no chicken in it. The lack of an ingredient list also left me dubious, as I had no idea as to whether to patty was filled with chemicals or not.

When I saw this recipe from Eating Whole, I knew I had to try my hand at a vegetarian “burger”. I made this out of pure curiosity, and was pleasantly surprised when it came out to by flavorful. It evolved from a one-time-try to a fun meal to make once in a while. Although it tastes nothing like a real burger, this may be a nice substitute for those who are too nervous to deal with red meat in the kitchen.

From Eating Whole [makes six patties]
1/6 of an onion, chopped
1/2 of a celery stalk, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
3 minced garlic cloves
dash of each: cumin/paprika/salt/pepper
1 can of black beans, drained
1/2 of a steamed sweet potato
1 egg
¼ cup corn

1. Sauté the onion, celery, carrot and garlic until they begin to soften.
2. In a bowl, mash the steamed sweet potato and black beans into a chunky paste. Add the egg, corn, spices and sautéed ingredients until and mix with for until well combined. The result should still be chunky, not a paste.
3. Form into 6 patties, and then cook in a skillet for 2-4 minutes on each side.




Salmon Burgers

IMG_5911 (2)

I was skeptical about these burgers because they’re on an entire different field from the usual beef or turkey burger. I mean, people don’t usually eat fish burgers. But, I’m happy to say that I was wrong to doubt them, because they were delicious! Packed with flavor from the Dijon mustard and fresh dill, these salmon burgers are kind of addicting.

Original recipe from Real Simple [makes 4 burgers]
2 pounds salmon fillet, skin removed
2 egg whites
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs (1 slice bread, ground in a food processor)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 brioche buns, toasted (I used homemade hamburger buns)

1. Finely chop the salmon. Place half in a large resealable plastic bag and use a flat-surfaced meat pounder or a rolling pin to mash it. (I just finely chopped it and skipped the rest of this step.)
2. Place all the salmon in a large bowl. Combine with egg whites, mustard, bread crumbs, dill, and ½ teaspoon salt. Form inch-thick patties.
3. Heat the oil in a grill pan over medium heat and cook patties 5 minutes per side.
4. Serve the patties on buns.

Homemade Hamburger Buns


IMG_5916Yes, these look like rolls. But I promise they’re hamburger buns.

Most store-bought hamburger buns just don’t cut it for me because sometimes they make me feel like I’m chewing tissues. Basically, I think the generic kind are kind of gross. Luckily, hamburger buns are so simple to make, and they taste like real food!

IMG_5911 (2) I used these buns for a salmon burger!

Original recipe from The Kitchn [makes 8 buns]
1 tablespoon active-dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter

1. In the bowl of a standing mixer (or a large bowl, if mixing by hand), stir the yeast into the warm water and let it sit until dissolved.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, oil, sugar, and salt. Add this to the yeast mixture and stir until combined. Add all the flour and stir until it forms a shaggy dough. Knead at low speed, or by hand against the counter, for 10 minutes. The finished dough should be smooth, feel slightly tacky, and spring back when poked.
3. Return the dough to the mixing bowl and cover. Let the dough rise in a warm spot until doubled in bulk, about an hour.
4. Dust your work surface with a little flour and turn out the risen dough on top. Divide the dough into 8 pieces and shape each into a tight ball. Transfer the balls to a baking sheet and let rise until they look puffy and hamburger-sized, roughly 30-40 minutes.
5. Pre-heat the oven to 375°F.
6. Melt the butter and brush it over the risen hamburger buns. This helps the tops to brown and keeps the crust soft. Bake the buns until golden, 15-18 minutes.
7. Let the buns cool to room temperature before slicing and using. They are best if eaten within the next day or two, but will keep in an airtight container on the counter for up to a week.



Homemade Honey Wheat Bread




I forgot to buy bread at the grocery store on Tuesday. I’ve had a recipe for homemade bread bookmarked for a few months. Put those two together, and forgetting something actually turned out to be a good thing for once.

Originally from Eating Whole [makes two loaves]
1 tablespoon yeast + 1/4 cup warm water
2 1/2 cups warm water
3/4 tablespoon salt
6 cups whole wheat flour
1/3 cup coconut or vegetable oil
1/2 cup honey
3 tablespoons ground flax meal (I didn’t use this!)

1. Dissolve yeast into 1/4 cup warm water in a small bowl. Let sit until it has doubled in size, about 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a stand mixer using the hook attachment, mix warm water, salt and 3 1/2 cups of the wheat flour for about 5 seconds on lowest speed. It won’t be mixed all the way, and that is okay!
3. Once the yeast has doubled, add in yeast, oil, flax and honey. Mix on low speed for about 5 seconds. Slowly add in the rest of the flour (2 1/2 cups), and then let mix for 10 minutes on low speed.
4. Divide the dough into two equal loaves, and place on two lightly floured towels. Fold the towels over so they are covering the loaves, and let rise for about 30 minutes. Bake loaves in a lightly greased loaf pan (with coconut oil) at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. It should have a nice crust that is golden on top.


Baked Cinnamon Apple Chips





The healthiest, cheapest, tastiest, and most simple chips to make. Feel free to omit the cinnamon if you don’t want any!

Original recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction
3 apples (any kind!)
ground cinnamon
granulated sugar

1. Preheat oven to 200F degrees. Line two large baking sheets with silicone baking mats (or VERY lightly grease with olive oil, butter, or cooking spray.) Set aside.
2. Wash and thinly slice the apples (use a mandolin if you have one for even slices.) Spread the apple slices onto the baking pans making 1 single layer. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
3. Bake for 1 hour, flip the apples over, and bake for another 1-1 1/2 hours. Turn the oven off and keep the apples inside as the oven cools down for 1 hour. This will help them get crunchy. Some apples may just be chewy and only slightly crunchy after 3 hours in the oven. Store apple chips at room temperature in an airtight container.

White Chicken and Spinach Lasagna

white-lasagna1                                                         //Photo from original recipe on Mel’s Kitchen Café//

This lasagna is SO GOOD. So delicious that I was actually wondering how it tasted so good while I was eating it.
And since I’ve said ‘so good’ too many times already (Food Network tells you not to do that) I’ll describe how it tasted when I was eating it: creamy, cheesy, and like chicken. Clearly I will never be hired by Food Network.

Original recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped white or yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 1/2 cups milk
3/4 teaspoon dried basil
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

9 no-boil lasagna noodles
2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
2-3 cups cooked chicken
1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 4 cups)
3 ounces Parmesan cheese (about 1 to 1 1/2 cups), reserve 1/4 cup for the top of the lasagna
2 (9-ounces each) packages baby spinach, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9X13-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
2.In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the onion is translucent and tender, 3-4 minutes. Stir in the flour and let it cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes.
3.Gradually add the chicken broth and milk while whisking vigorously. Continue cooking and stirring for 4-5 minutes until the mixture simmers and thickens. Stir in the basil, oregano, salt and pepper.
4.To assemble, spread about 1 to 1 1/2 cups sauce on the bottom of the prepared pan. Place 3 no-boil noodles on top and dollop with 1/2 of the ricotta. No need to spread the ricotta out into an even layer, although you can press it down a bit, just spoon it across. Add half of the chicken on top of the ricotta.
5.Layer on 1/2 of the chopped spinach. It will seem like a lot but just spread it evenly – it will cook down while baking. Sprinkle 1/2 of the mozzarella and 1/2 of the Parmesan cheese (don’t forget to take out 1/4 cup of the Parmesan for sprinkling across the top!).
6.Place 3 noodles over the top, gently pressing down to compress the layers below. Spread 1/2 of the remaining sauce over the top. Repeat the layers again (remaining ricotta, chicken, spinach, mozzarella, Parmesan).
7.Place the last 3 noodles over the top, pressing down again. Spread the remaining sauce over the top and sprinkle with reserved Parmesan cheese.
8.Cover the baking dish with lightly greased aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes until golden and bubbly. Let the lasagna rest for 10 minutes before serving.

**Modifications I made:
-I cut the recipe in 1/4 and used a tiny, little pan
-I used normal lasagna noodles and had to boil them in advance
-I didn’t use ricotta cheese (because I have bought it before and it is a pain to try to use up the whole thing without feeling like you’re eating cheese in every meal.)