Friday, January 27, 2012

Microwave Nutella Muffin

Happy National Chocolate Cake Day!!!

I know there are many of you out there who have sudden chocolate cravings.  Yeah...that's me pretty much every hour(;  But sometimes they're not just chocolate cravings, they're Nutella cravings.  Even though I eat it by the spoonful, straight from the jar all the time, I wanted to have something a little more creative...but I was too lazy to make something that would have to bake for a while.  Then I remembered I saved a recipe from the blog of Go Bake Yourself called "Less Than Two Minute Nutella Muffin" (here).  So I decided to whip it up.  I didn't think it would taste very good...I mean really, a two minute muffin made in the microwave?  This recipe doesn't even have butter!  How could it possibly taste good?  But when I opened the microwave door after just 30 seconds, the first thing I saw was that it got HUGE!!!  I seriously freaked out when I saw it.  I don't understand how batter could blow up so much and bake into a perfectly fat muffin in just 30 seconds.  But it did.  And then I tasted it...and I was even more shocked, because it tasted sooo incredible!  It was a perfectly cooked, fluffy, cakey, chocolate muffin with an even layer of nutella through the middle.  The nutella made the muffin taste so fudgey and delicious!  It didn't really satisfy my chocolate-nutella craving though...all it did was make me want another one(:
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbs + 1 tsp milk
  • 1/2 tbs cocoa powder
  • 1 tbs dark brown sugar
  • 1 heaping tbs Nutella
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl except for Nutella
  2. Line a small, glass, microwaveable bowl with a muffin/cupcake liner (if you don’t have a liner, it's okay - it will spread sideways like a cookie!)
  3. Place half the batter into the liner
  4. Place the tablespoon of Nutella in the center of the batter (this is where you can also add in some crushed nuts, chocolate chips, marshmallows, etc.)
  5. Pour over the second half of the batter, making sure Nutella (and add-ins) is completely covered.
  6. Microwave for approximately 30 seconds on high (or until a knife inserted comes out clean...not including the nutella).
  7. Let cool for at least 3 minutes, and serve.

Hot Milk

When you saw the title of this post, I know you probably were thinking: "Huh? Hot milk?  Why would she have a recipe on that?"  But I didn't just heat up a glass of milk in the microwave.  I added sugar, vanilla, and nutmeg...and it tasted just like a [melted milkshake].  The combination of the flavors is so calm and relaxing. If you ever have trouble falling asleep at night, this hot milk recipe may just do the trick.  It kind of seems like a lot of sugar (2 tablespoons of sugar in just 1 cup of milk?) but it ends up tasting incredible with the combination of flavors.   Feel free to experiment and use brown sugar or honey in place of the sugar, or other extracts.

Yield: 1 serving


  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg


  1. In a large mug, stir together the milk, vanilla and sugar. Heat in the microwave for 1 minute and 15 seconds. Stir in nutmeg, and serve hot.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Pancakes with Vanilla Almond Syrup

If you know me, then you'd know that I always eat my pancakes with -->peanut butter<--.  Pancakes without peanut butter is pretty much unthinkable for me.  For real, peanut butter makes everything better.  But these pancakes?  They didn't even need peanut butter;  they were that good without it!!  I'm sure peanut butter would have tasted great on them because I love different combinations of nutty flavors, but I didn't even want to put peanut butter on them! I do have one little confession:  I used Bisquick.  Usually, I never use Bisquick (cause recipes are almost always best from scratch, in my opinion).  Well..I never use it for the original pancake recipe on the box where you just add milk and an egg.  But I will use it for more complex recipes, like on their website and stuff.  So if you have Bisquick and you look underneath that original recipe, you'll see they have a recipe for "Melt-In-Your-Mouth Supreme Pancakes".  All you do differently than the original recipe is add sugar, lemon juice, and baking powder (the sugar makes them slightly sweeter and melt-in-your-mouth-like, and the lemon juice and baking powder make them fluffy and soft).  So I decided to make them (who can resist when it says "melt-in-your-mouth supreme"??).  The reason I didn't make the pancakes from scratch is because I wanted to make a syrup, and making homemade pancakes AND homemade syrup seemed a little too time consuming...and besides, I was hungry.  The sooner to eat the better, right?  I definitely don't regret saving time with the Bisquick, because they truly were melt-in-your-mouth amazing.  And the vanilla almond syrup just took them over the top.  The syrup is absolutely delicious; it has the perfect amount of almond and vanilla...I can't say I like it better than maple syrup, though, because they're two totally different flavors.  A little bit of this syrup goes a long way on these pancakes, so I don't recommend drowning your pancakes if you usually do.   Feel free to add whatever other toppings you'd like...I suggest butter and/or bananas.  I was going to try adding chocolate chips, but all the pancakes were eaten by my mom and I before I had a chance.  The next time I make these, I may try adding chocolate chips and coconut for a little almond joy experience.


For the pancakes:
2 cups Bisquick
1 cup milk
1 egg
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Vanilla Almond Syrup:
  • 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


For the pancakes:
Combine all ingredients and let sit for at least 2 minutes. Preheat griddle to 350 degrees, or medium heat.  Pour about 1/4 cupfuls onto the griddle and cook until browned on each side.  Served hot with Vanilla Almond Syrup.

Vanilla Almond Syrup:
Place the white sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to medium, cover pan, and simmer 8 minutes. Stir in almond extract and vanilla.  Serve warm on top of pancakes.  Syrup will be thin, but it will thicken up in the fridge as it cools. Store leftover syrup in glass jars, cover, and refrigerate.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Italian Sausage Soup



I made this for dinner tonight and it was a huge success.  It's very hearty and comforting; [perfect] on those chilly, winter nights.  I recommend using low sodium chicken broth and no salt added spinach, unless you like your soup really salty.  It's super quick to make; you don't need to cook it all day in a crock pot, like most flavorful soups.  It only took me about an hour to make.  If you're a fan of spicy foods, feel free to use all spicy sausage instead of the sweet.  You can substitute any flavors of sausage you'd like, but I prefer sweet and spicy.  This is fantastic served over small pasta (such as macaroni, rice, or orzo), and served with garlic bread (dunk it!).  I served it with garlic toasts (found here).  This was such a delicious and satisfying meal that I will make many more times.


  • 1 pound Italian sausage (I used 3 links of sweet, 2 links spicy)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 (14 ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) can Italian-style stewed tomatoes
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can great Northern beans, undrained
  • 2 small zucchini, cubed
  • 1 10-oz package frozen chopped spinach
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Garnish: Grated Parmesan Cheese (optional)


  1. In a stockpot or Dutch oven, brown sausage with garlic. Stir in broth, tomatoes, carrots, and onion powder, and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes.
  2. Stir in beans with liquid and zucchini. Cover, and simmer another 15 minutes, or until zucchini is tender.
  3. Remove from heat, and add spinach. Replace lid allowing the heat from the soup to cook the spinach leaves. Soup is ready to serve after about 10 minutes, or when spinach is not frozen and distributed evenly throughout the soup. Garnish with cheese if desired.

Tapenade Turkey Meatballs

When I was at the state fair last year, I picked up some recipe cards from The Pampered Chef, and this was one of them (you can view the video here). These are the best meatballs I've ever had!! They're packed with so much flavor, yet much easier to whip up than you think.  My mom and I made this together last night and served it over pasta.  It was absolutely incredible. And get this: they're made in the microwave.  Yeah.  Because they're cooked in the microwave, they only cook for 7 minutes!!  Usually meatballs are cooked in the oven for like 30-45 minutes; these are way less time consuming.  I can't believe how tender and juicy the meat was, and it was lean turkey, too.  I now like turkey meatballs better than beef ones.  Way better.  I don't think I'm gonna even like beef meat balls the next time I have them.  And the Spinach & Olive Tapenade in this recipe - SO flavorful!  I don't like olives, and I'm not a big fan of capers, so I didn't think I'd care for this recipe too much.  But the olive and caper flavors blended really well with all the other ingredients, so it tasted amazing.  I served the remaining tapenade on sliced french bread and melted some cheese on top.  I also had it as a dip with red pepper slices - so delicious.  Another thing my family did with some of the meatballs was make a meatball sandwich.  Ohmygoodness everything was just so good!!  My dad said we're never going out to eat again because everything I make is ten times better than anything he's ever had in a restaurant.

Yield: About 20 meatballs


Spinach & Olive Tapenade:
1 package (6 oz/175 g) fresh spinach leaves (about 8 cups/2 L)
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons drained capers
1/4 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1-in pieces
3/4 cup (175 mL) pitted green olives
1/4 cup (50 mL) loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 slice soft sandwich bread (whole wheat or white)
1 cup prepared Spinach & Olive Tapenade (see above), divided
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 lb (450 g) 93% lean ground turkey

1.  For tapenade, place spinach into a large bowl.  Microwave on high 2-3 minutes or until spinach is wilted.  Carefully remove lid; press spinach to side of bowl (I just drained it in a colander).  Blot excess moisture with paper towels.  Place garlic, capers, bell pepper, and olives in food processor; cover and pump handle until coarsely chopped.  Add spinach, basil, cheese, oil, lemon juice and salt; process to desired consistency, removing lid and scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.  Use 1 cup for meatballs.  Set aside remaining tapenade for another use.
2.  For meatballs, tear bread; place in food processor.  Cover and pump handle until finely chopped.  Combine bread crumbs, 1/2 cup of the remaining tapenade, egg, and salt in a medium bowl; mix well.  Add turkey, mix well.
3.  Using slightly mounded medium scoop (I used an ice cream scooper), scoop 20 meatballs directly into a pan in rows.  Cover with parchment paper and microwave on high 7-9 minutes or until internal temperature of meatballs reaches 160 degrees F (71 degrees C)
4. Place remaining 1/2 cup tapenade in large bowl.  Transfer meatballs to bowl using tongs and toss gently to coat.  Serve with pasta if desired.

Cinnamon Pear Smoothie was so good that I drank all of it before I had a chance to get a picture.

This was such a refreshing, tasty smoothie!!  All the flavors [blend so well together], and each one really comes through; I couldn't believe how perfect it turned out.   I've always loved the combination of cinnamon and pears; toss in a banana, some milk and a few other things and you've got a delightful breakfast drink.

Yield: 2 servings


  • 2 pears, quartered and cores removed
  • 1 banana, cut in chunks, and frozen
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg


  1. Place the pears, banana, milk, yogurt, cinnamon, and nutmeg into a blender. Cover, and puree until smooth. Pour into glasses to serve.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Cinnamon Sugar Bagel Chips

I recently posted bagel chips on my blog a few weeks ago (here), and it got me thinking of more creative ways to make them in other flavors.  So...I created this recipe!  They are buttery-cinnamony-sugary deliciousness!  I could seriously have them for dessert.  They definitely make the perfect midnight snack. I still can't believe how easy it is to make homemade bagel chips.  There is an endless amount of flavors you can create depending on what bagels you use and what seasonings you add.  They are so addicting, but much healthier for you than the store-bought kind...well..kind of.  There is a lot of butter and sugar on these chips, but not as many preservatives as the store-bought ones.  There will be big butter-sugar chunks clumped together on some chips, but they make them taste so good!

2 bagels (I used whole wheat, but cinnamon raisin would be delicious too)
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons white sugar

  1. Refrigerate bagels for at least 1 hour. Cut into 1/4-in. slices. 
  2. Place bagel slices in a large zip lock bag.  In a separate bowl, combine butter, cinnamon, and sugars. Pour butter mixture over top bagel slices, seal the bag, and shake well for about 30 seconds (or long enough for the bagel slices to be evenly coated).
  3. Spread bagel slices in one layer onto an ungreased baking sheet. If chunks of sugar/butter come off, scatter them evenly on top of bagel slices.  Bake at 325 degrees F for 15-18 minutes or until lightly browned.  They will get crispier as they cool. 

Grain and Nut Pancakes


These are so moist, nutty, hearty, and tasty!  I've never had healthy whole wheat pancakes that actually taste really good, and these are amazingly good.  The eggs, milk, and applesauce makes them so moist.  And the vanilla and cinnamon give them a delicious flavor.  I love the nuts in them too, because they add a little crunch. They taste kind of similar to IHOP's Harvest Grain and Nut pancakes, but these are way better.  I served them with banana slices, maple syrup, and whipped cream. Mmmm..they were SO yummy - and nutritious! My whole family just loved them.


  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)
  • Garnish: banana slices, maple syrup, whipped cream, peanut butter, honey, etc.


  1. Grind the oats in a blender or food processor until fine. In a large bowl, combine ground oats, whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
  2. In another bowl, combine buttermilk, milk, oil, eggs, vanilla extract, and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Mix wet ingredients into dry with a few swift strokes. Stir in nuts, if desired, or sprinkle them on top of the pancake before flipping.
  3. Lightly grease a skillet or griddle, and preheat it to medium heat. Ladle 1/3 cup of the batter onto the hot skillet; cook the pancakes for 2 to 4 minutes per side, or until brown. Garnish if desired.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

This is the best coffee cake I've ever had!  And I know I say that a lot with all of my recipes ("this is the best           I've ever had!"), but I'm telling the truth! I only post the best of the best recipes for that specific food on my blog.  So I'm telling you again: this is the best coffee cake EVER.  It's seriously a hundred times better than anything I've ever had at Starbucks or other coffee shops.  It's so good with a [cup of coffee] in the morning.  It tastes best after it sits overnight because all the strawberry-cream cheese-almond flavor from the filling seeps into the almondy-buttery-cakey layer underneath.  Coffee cakes are generally supposed to be dry so that they soak up coffee well, but this is much more moist than any coffee cake I've ever's almost more like a pound cake.  It also looks so pretty and would be the perfect addition to any brunch or holiday event. Or serve it as dessert! And because it calls for strawberry jam and not fresh strawberries, you can make it any time of year and bring a nice touch of spring to your table.  The only not-so-great thing about this cake is that there's definitely nothing "light" about it, but ---> it's worth every calorie-loaded bite.


  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons white sugar
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1/2 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

  • 4 ounces (half a package) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 egg
  • 5 tablespoons strawberry jam
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds


  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and sugar. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Remove 1/2 cup and set aside. To the remaining crumbs, add baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the sour cream, half an egg and almond extract; mix well. Spread evenly in the bottom of a greased loaf pan.
  2. For the filling, in a small bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and half an egg until blended. Pour over batter; spoon strawberry jam on top. Sprinkle with almonds and reserved crumbs.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45-50 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out clean (do not over bake!). Let stand for 15 minutes.  Run a knife around the sides of the pan to loosen before slicing or removing from pan.

***note: when warm/fresh from the oven, the almond taste is almost overpowering.  It settles down when completely cooled; for best results, I would recommend serving this at room temperature.

***You can also double this recipe and bake in a 9-inch spring form pan.  If doing this, you may need to bake it another 5-10 minutes longer.