January 27, 2014

Cinnamon Bun Pancakes

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Every once and a while you have a weekend that just slows down, even if it's just for a day. You sleep in on Sunday morning, read the paper while sipping coffee and eventually get around to making a delicious breakfast. Over the holidays my husby and sister-in-law had a battle of the better pancakes, both with specific techniques for the best cake-y bite, so once I poked through my SRC of the month's Avril's blog Baking and Creating with Avril, I knew I had to test out my own pancake recipe.
 Avril had a wonderful selection of recipes to chose from but I was all over these pancakes. How can you resist anything that starts with cinnamon buns? You can not, it's just too good.

Pancakes are one of those meals that can also be a perfect home run for a Sunday night dinner. It's cozy food like this that warms the soul and with the single digit temperatures up north the past few weeks, I will take warm and cozy all day long.
This recipe was simple to throw together and made a nice large batch for husby and I to chow down on. We jazzed up the recipe a tad with some diced apples and maple syrup. They were the ultimate fluffy and flavorful breakfast cake that I know we plan to have again very, very soon.
Cinnamon Bun Pancakes

1 1/2 cup AP flour
3 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp light corn syrup
1/4 butter, melted
1 Tbsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp seltzer

In a medium bowl combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and ground cinnamon. Whisk all together and set aside.

In another bowl combine beaten eggs, milk, corn syrup, melted butter and vanilla extract. Stir in flour mixture until combined - do not over mix. Now the fist secret trick is adding in seltzer to your batter and fold it into the batter but make sure not to over mix or stir.

Heat the pan with butter over medium-low heat. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into pan for each pancake. The second trick is that once the batter has cooked a little and there is a seal around the edges of the cake, pour a little extra batter into the center of the cake to make them extra fluffy. Cook until they are brown on both sides.

Serve with warm maple syrup, add diced apples if you would like, and butter... and prepare to enjoy the fluffiest pancakes you've ever tasted!

Photos by A Healthy Jalapeno 

November 25, 2013

Creamy Spinach, Sausage and Arugula Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Tomatoes

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I can’t even begin to describe the happiness these last few weeks have brought me.  My husband finally returned home from deployment, we were able to spend some long overdue and much needed time together vacationing up in the mountains of New Hampshire, and would you believe it… we bought our first house. It has been a roller coaster but one that I have been preparing for most of this year. It’s been a blessing to have so many wonderful benchmarks but even more so because I can share them with my husband.
Along the same lines of exciting news, having husby home means, surprise surprise… I have actually started to cook again. Although we are currently in transition waiting to close on our home, I have been swirling around recipes and ideas in my head that I can’t wait to make. The immediate request was for his favorite, shrimp tacos but then I got to playing just in time for this months SRC.

After taking a month off to welcome my husband home and get settled, I am back and ready to share with you a blogger that is new to me, Lynsey Lous'. She is rocking it this fall with some excellent recipes. In playing around her index I found some wonderful ideas that I absolutely plan on trying, like homemade marshmallows and  baked pumpkin donut holes (I know right), but unfortunately I have been working with a borrowed frying pan from my mother and an old pasta pot until we get settled and I can take my kitchen babies out of storage, so these two recipes required a few more tools that temporarily are out of reach (but not for long). 

What I have been working on is creative and tasty dinners. We are always prepared for the turkey burger, no bun and sweet potato fries dinner plan but I still like to mix it up. It keeps my taste buds and my husby happy. Lynsey hit the nail on the head with her ‘packed full of healthy greens’ over hearty spaghetti squash. With the addition of sweet sausage, this was a perfect flavor combination, and when topped with a heavy sprinkling of cheese  we definitely had a winner. I love spaghetti squash as seen here and here. As one of my girl friends says, this is one of those meals that makes you do a little happy dance at the table.

For those that know me, trust me when I say that this is a must try.  For those of you who still read along, thank you for sticking this year out with me… I’m back, and I will have lots for you to look forward to.
Creamy Spinach, Sausage and Arugula Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Tomatoes

1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
Olive oil
table salt
baked spaghetti squash (recipe here)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 small white onion, diced
2 cloves minced garlic
6 oz baby spinach, washed
6 oz arugula, washed
1/4 cup greek yogurt
1/4 cup vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
1 lbs loose sweet Italian sausage
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving 

Preheat oven to 375.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Place tomatoes on the prepared baking sheet and toss with olive oil and salt.  Spread tomatoes evenly onto baking sheet and place in the preheated oven.  Roast the tomatoes for 20-25 minutes, tossing once half way through.  

While the tomatoes are roasting, place butter in a large sauté pan and allow to melt.  Once the butter has melted place onions in the pan and sauté until softened and translucent, about 5-6 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, another 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Add the spinach and arugula, a handful at a time and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes.

Add the yogurt and stir to combine.  Remove pan from heat and carefully transfer ingredients to a food processor (an immersion blender may be used instead), pulse the ingredients until smooth, adding stock 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is achieved. 

In the meantime, bring the pan back to the stove and cook your loose sweet sausage until browned and then simmer until done.
Transfer the puree back to the pan and add basil and cheese and stir to combine.  Add the spaghetti squash and toss to coat.  

Divide the "pasta" among plates, top with roasted tomatoes and additional cheese, if desired.

*The baked spaghetti squash can be made a day or two in advance and placed in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Recipe adopted by Lynsey Lou's
Photos by A Healthy Jalapeno

November 11, 2013

Happy Veteran's Day

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Today I am so grateful to have known such amazing men and women who have served for our country, including my Papa, grandpa, friends and past veterans and active military. 

To my husband, you are a man among men. This was an unbelievable hard year with you away from home but I could have never made it through if there was anyone but you on the other side. I prayed every night that you were safe and thanked God for bringing you into my life, and for making our love so strong that we could bear through anything and make it out stronger than before. You are my rock, my family and my home. I am so proud of you and honored to be your wife.

October 07, 2013

Harvest Your Health

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Let it be known that I am a huge sucker for cook books, cooking shows, recipe clubs, food network, food magazines and everything in between. I cut out, scrap together and print up every recipe that I 'must' make and save it for that perfect day in season when my imagination takes over for a night of entertaining friends into a Martha Stewart cover shoot. 

Ran away with that one again, did I? 

What I want to share with you is a small passion of mine, along side my absolute knack for finding amazing deals that are too good to pass up. Being a sucker for all things health-focused and recipe-crazed, I do my fair share of tearing through ebooks and online magazines to soak up all the knowledge I can. I either want to find something new, perfect a recipe, learn about ingredients and how they work with the body, or just simple see things differently in a way that I never would have thought of otherwise. Granted, we can thank Pinterest a great deal for this these days, however, there is nothing like a safe haven of your own resources (saved and stored) to give you peace of mind on your top recipes and tips.

It was in viewing some of these amazing e-books, along with my favorites that I have had already had such reward and success from, that made up my decision to participate and share this fantastic deal.

So, what's the deal? Well, for one week only, Harvest Your Heath is here, offering one of the largest collections of e-books I have ever seen to you at over 97% OFF. 

Books on:
...and so much more.

Have I read them all, no... but of the ones that I have, I can tell you that at least 4 of the Paleo ebooks (some already previously purchased at a much higher cost) are worth more in substance and in cost than this entire deal is going for... and that is just the start. I can only imagine the other pieces of this perfectly bundled fall deal with bring to your overall knowledge, health and happiness.

Head on over and take a peek, and let me know what you think?

October 04, 2013

How Healthy is it to Dip Strawberries in Chocolate?

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I have a treat for you here today. Sara, writer at http://www.nannypro.com/ is here today to talk about the healthy benefits of strawberries and chocolate. Any way I can get my chocolate fix, while still maintaining a healthy lifestyle is something I am all over. Take it away Sara!

Dipping strawberries in chocolate may sound like a semi-unhealthy snack until you consider the actual health benefits of both components. Yes, chocolate has health benefits when eaten in moderation. This doesn't mean you should dip a bucket of fried chicken in chocolate and call it healthy, but there are some benefits to a few strawberries dipped in this culinary delight. What kind of benefits am I talking about?

1. Stroke Prevention - A Swedish study of women who ate approximately 45 grams of chocolate per week where 20 percent less likely to suffer a stroke than those who only ate nine grams or less. Strawberries themselves can assist in the prevention of strokes as well since they are loaded with various vitamins and minerals and can reduce the cholesterol in the blood stream decreasing the chances of the onset of this affliction.

2. Cardiovascular - Chocolate eaters are found to have less bad LDL cholesterol levels. It's also better for the heart as it lowers blood pressure. As dark chocolate is well known for superior levels of these heart-healthy conditions, it helps in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. Strawberries are also rich in tannin, antioxidants and phytonutrients which have been known to prevent cardiovascular diseases as well.

3. Diabetes - According to a small Italian study in 2005, regularly eating chocolate can help increase your insulin levels to stave off certain types of diabetes. However, this is more of a common activity as some diabetics can stave off "attacks" by consuming sweetened materials in order to increase the body's insulin levels. Strawberries also reduce sugar spikes from those suffering from type 2 diabetes as a method to stabilize the blood sugar levels.

4. Healthy Skin - The flavonoid content of dark chocolate provides a layer of protection for your skin from the UV rays of the sun. While all chocolates have flavonoids present, the level is much higher in dark chocolate and can help prevent the onsets of skin cancer. Strawberries are rich in antioxidants which prevent the onset of various cancers as well. Since cancers and tumors can be caused by oxidative stress in cells, the high levels of antioxidants in strawberries greatly reduces the oxidation levels adding a layer of protection from such ailments.

5. Improving Blood Flow - Cocoa itself has anti-clotting and blood thinning properties that reduce the restriction of blood flow. Much like aspirin, cocoa can essentially be used to calm headaches. There are a variety of instances where increased blood flow can be greatly beneficial to a human body including brain functionality and stamina. Strawberries contain high levels of copper and iron, which is used to produce new blood cells within the body.

6. Improved Vision - Because of the effects of increased blood flow, the University of Reading theorize that this could also increase the flow to the retinas of the human eyes increasing your vision capabilities. The antioxidants and phytonutrients that are contained in strawberries also improve eye sight from oxidative stress and UV rays.

Although chocolate does have a lot of health benefits when used as a dip with strawberries, you shouldn't go out and eat a few bags of Snickers. While cocoa itself is beneficial for your body, the added sugars from other elements could compound health problems. Like all foods in life, moderation is key to maintaining health while enjoying the simple things.

Author Bio
Sara is an active nanny as well as an active freelance writer. She is a frequent contributor of http://www.nannypro.com/.  

Learn more about her http://www.nannypro.com/blog/sara-dawkins/.