April 13, 2014

(Flourless & Butterless) Carrot Cake Cookies with Cream Cheese Glaze

Just because we're spring cleaning our diets doesn't mean that we have to deprive ourselves of the things that we love!  I had a few hours to myself between my little sous chef's dance recital and violin concert this weekend, so I decided to fool around with some ingredients and make healthy cookies that I can treat myself to throughout the week.  I came up with these flourless and butterless cookies that include goodies like oats, shredded carrot, flaked coconut, wheat germ, and walnuts.  They are delicious, delightfully chewy, and not overly sweet.  When paired with the cream cheese glaze, they are just dreamy.  These healthy, guilt-free cookies are so easy to make and can be ready for you to indulge in, in under 20 minutes!  They would be a great option for breakfast on-the-go, too!  

Note:  These cookies will maintain the exact shape that you place them on the baking sheet, so use your fingers to form them into your desired shape. 

Yields approximately 16 cookies, depending on the size you make them

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 c fat free milk
  • 1/4 c plus 2 tbsp dark brown sugar, packed 
  • 1 1/2 tbsp honey 
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract 
  • 2 c quick cooking oats 
  • 1/4 c sweetened coconut flakes 
  • 1/4 c walnuts, chopped 
  • 1 1/2 c shredded carrot (about 3 large carrots)
  • 1 tbsp wheat germ 
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon 
  • Pinch salt 

Cream Cheese Glaze Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp butter, room temperature
  • 2 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c confectioners' sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, milk brown sugar, honey and vanilla until smooth.  Stir in the oats, coconut flakes, walnuts, carrot, wheat germ, cinnamon and salt until well combined.
Drop by large spoonfuls on a greased baking sheet.  These cookies will maintain the shape that you place them on the baking sheet, so use your fingers to form them into desired shape.  

Bake for 13 to 17 minutes, or until the bottoms turn golden brown.  Allow the cookies to cool for 3 minutes before removing.  

Make the cream cheese glaze.  In a small bowl, stir together the butter, cream cheese, vanilla and confectioners' sugar until smooth and creamy.  Drizzle the glaze over the cookies.


April 11, 2014

Step-By-Step Chicken & Vegetable Soup From Scratch

In my last few blog posts, I touched on how and why we are spring cleaning both our diet and our budget.  We have rotisserie chicken about once a week for dinner, and I usually end up using the leftover chicken in another meal that week.  This time, I wanted to try to stretch out the leftover rotisserie chicken to make two additional meals.  I used 1 cup of the leftover chicken to make a yummy Chicken Parmigiana Pasta Casserole, which was not only easy, but it was so incredibly delicious!  The second meal I made from the leftover rotisserie chicken was this chicken and vegetable soup using the carcass and skin to make a homemade broth.  My family raved over this soup!  That stinking rotisserie chicken was used to feed my family three separate meals!  Talk about saving money!  

Here's how I did it.  

April 9, 2014

Chicken Parmigiana Pasta Casserole

Along with spring cleaning our diets, we've been working hard at spring cleaning our budget.  We'll be moving to a new house next year, God willing, so cutting corners with spending has definitely been a priority.  We've worked hard to maintain a debt-free life, so one of the most logical ways for us to cut corners in our budget is (please hold for a second while I cover CookingCreation.com's ears) in the food department.  *gulp*  I really, really, really love to splurge at the grocery store, so this takes a lot of commitment and sacrifice on my part.  Challenge on!

On average, we enjoy a rotisserie chicken about once every week or so for dinner.  It's so delicious on its own for a meal, but I love that I always end up having leftover chicken to use in a meal another night that week.  It definitely saves me both time and money.  I wanted to try to stretch out the leftover chicken even more and make two additional meals out of it.  First, I made a yummy Chicken & Vegetable Soup from scratch using the chicken carcass and skin to make a homemade broth (step-by-step recipe to come!).  That was delicious!  I also took 1 cup of the remaining chicken to make a second meal, this Chicken Parmigiana Pasta Casserole.  It's so easy to make and so flavorful!      

April 6, 2014

Peach Poppy Seed Vinaigrette over Strawberry, Feta & Walnut Salad

We've been doing some spring cleaning of our diets recently, especially since I've gained my usual 5-pound winter weight.  I'm very anxious to get back on the tennis courts and bike trail again!  I had a beautiful package of mixed baby greens in the fridge and was in the mood for a light and refreshing salad.  I decided to use up my remaining strawberries, toss in some feta, and add some toasted walnuts.  But it needed something to bring it all together.  I found about 3 tablespoons of peach preserves that I had to use up, so I decided to make a peach vinaigrette with poppy seeds.  This dressing is seriously bangin!

April 2, 2014

Strawberry, Kale & Carrot Smoothie

This is a super healthy and refreshing smoothie that is low in calories and packed with vitamins and minerals.  Oh, and it's pretty darn delicious, too!  I didn't add any honey to my smoothie because my strawberries were sweet enough on their own, but you certainly can add it to sweeten it up more.  Happy hump day!  

March 31, 2014

Easy Slow Cooker Pot Roast in Beer

This pot roast really packs in a lot of flavor and is so simple to make.  You don't even need the hassle of searing the meat.  The only liquid used is beer, which adds a beautiful depth of deliciousness to the pot roast.       

Note:  For this recipe, I recommend using a lighter beer or one with 20 IBU or less to avoid any bitterness in your pot roast.  To my embarrassment, I once tried a 65 IBU beer and had to throw out the entire pot roast because it was too incredibly bitter to eat.  

March 26, 2014

Asian Mahogany Shrimp with Asparagus & Shiitake Mushrooms

It was a mounds-of-dishes-from-the-night-before-that-I-was-too-tired-to-clean-because-the-dishwasher-was-full-of-clean-dishes-that-I-didn't-want-to-put-away-either type of morning.  Fast forward 8 hours of a crazy work day, and those same dishes were still there.  Amazing.  I was done working for the day, so I rolled up my sleeves, turned up some music, and got to cleaning.  I stepped back to admire my sparkling kitchen and thought to myself, "I have all these clean dishes and a counter you could eat off of - why don't I mess it up by making dinner?"  *sob*  I begrudgingly start grabbing pots and pans, and gathering ingredients.  But something happened that always seems to happen to me.  In a sort of magical way, messing up the kitchen with food becomes almost therapeutic.  It's like playing with food puts me in a good mood (sounds like a country song!).  That's probably why I always end up having some sort of dinner made for my family every night, regardless of how my day went.  

Having a food blog is not only about cooking and coming up with recipes, it's also about photography.   If the food doesn't look appetizing, chances are, no one's going to want to make it.  I'd say once or twice a week, my family will be eating at the table... behind me while I'm snapping pictures of what they're eating.  A lot of times when I'm taking photos of the food we're eating, I have a sense of urgency to hurry so I can sit down with them and enjoy the food at the same time.  So, I made this mahogany shrimp last night.  I was having one of those days and I just couldn't get the shot that I wanted of it.  I'm frustrated and trying to hurry to get the shot and, in the midst of all that frustration, I hear my little sous chef behind me going, "Mm!  Mm!  *smack, chomp, smack*  This is so good!  Mm!".  I stop, put my camera down, sit down at the table, and smile.  Priorities.  The photo may not have been a hit with me, but this mahogany shrimp sure was a hit with my family.  The mahogany sauce is so good that I'm putting it into my meal rotation possibly weekly.  It would be wonderful with chicken and broccoli, too!  

March 24, 2014

Cinnamon Applesauce Crumb Cake

Confession.  I'm not the best baker in the world.  I'll admit it - I don't like sticking to recipes, and I especially don't like measuring out ingredients.  I guess it's just because I'm lazy I'm so used to not measuring things when I'm cooking.  With baking, everything has to be exact - there's no eyeballing it.  So, one of the things I have been trying to do recently is bettering myself in the baking department.      

My husband and I recently came across some delicious Amish applesauce cake that we both loved.  He asked me over this past weekend to try to recreate it for him.  Trouble is, I've never made applesauce cake before, and I'm definitely not the most confident baker in the world.  After doing a little research, I came across a recipe from Gourmet that has received some highly rated reviews.  I made a few slight changes to the recipe and added my own crumb topping to it.  It turned out delicious!  It was easy to make, moist, and not too sweet - just right.  This is a great cake that can be eaten for dessert and breakfast - definitely a keeper!

March 18, 2014

Corned Beef Hash

I don't know about you, but I always find myself with leftover corned beef after Saint Patrick's Day.  I had originally planned on making Reuben sandwiches with the leftovers, but I'm in a breakfast for dinner kind of mood.  Try using your leftover corned beef in this delicious hash with some parsley, thyme, rosemary, and a splash (or two) of Jameson and topping it with a sunny-side up egg.  Yum!

March 10, 2014

Cold & Flu Popsicles with Strawberries, Kale and Thyme

We have been a hot mess of sickness in my home for these past few weeks, and my little sous chef was the last one to get it.  Since all of our weekend plans were shot, I had a little extra time to play in the kitchen.  I wanted to give my baby some relief from her symptoms, so I came up with these cold and flu popsicles.  She thought they were delicious!  I, however, loved them because of the cold and flu fighting ingredients that were used.  Just one cup of strawberries provides you with 160 percent of your daily vitamin C needs.  Kale is loaded with antioxidant vitamins and helps strengthen the immune system.  Thyme is a natural expectorant, so it will help coughs to be more productive.  Lemon is also rich in vitamin C and helps to boost your immune system.  Honey soothes a sore throat and loosens congestion.  Cayenne aids in loosening congestion and clearing your sinus passages.  While studies have not proven whether or not cinnamon helps reduce inflammation and has antioxidant effects, it sure does make these popsicles taste good!  As for the sugar, use your own judgment.  If I was making these for myself, I would have eliminated it completely.  However, strawberries aren't in season right now, so mine weren't very sweet to begin with.  Finally, the popsicles themselves will help to prevent dehydration.