I'm just a busy wife and mom who loves to cook (and hates to clean up afterward), balancing the many hats I wear and trying to look cool, calm, and collected while doing it...

Oh, and I rarely measure anything when I cook, so consider yourself warned. Love good food. Try new things. Eat to your heart's content.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Chocolate Orange Baked French Toast

Chocolate and Orange. Orange and chocolate.

Some people LOVE this combination.

I have never been one of those people... until now.

I had it in my mind that I would make a baked french toast for breakfast this morning, but it wasn't until I started throwing it all together (because that's how I cook... nothing it truly measured out...) that the chocolate-orange idea came to me.

This tasted so much like if you take those big orange flavored chocolate balls (You know, the ones wrapped in orange foil, most popular at Christmas. I think you even have to smack them on a counter top something to break them apart... I believe they're called Chocolate Oranges. Original, I know!) melt them, and pour them on French toast.

This was so easy, and it made so much, that it would be perfect for a brunch potluck. You could even bake them in a muffin tin for individual servings...

Or you could just have it as dessert the night you make it. Just top it with vanilla ice cream and call it bread pudding.

Chocolate Orange Baked French Toast

1 16 oz. Loaf of Crusty Bread
8 Eggs
2 cups Milk
3/4 cup Sour Cream
1 small Orange, zested and juiced (you'll need 1/4 cup of juice)
2 tsp. Cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
1/3 cup Brown Sugar, packed
3/4 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1/4 cup Sugar + 2 tsp. Cinnamon, mixed

Preheat the oven to 375, and grease a 9x13 baking dish.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, sour cream, orange zest, 1/4 cup orange juice, cinnamon, vanilla, and brown sugar.

Cut the loaf of bread into 2 inch cubes.

Add the bread into the egg mixture and stir until combined, and he bread soaks up the mixture. You may need to add a splash of milk (or more orange juice even) to make sure it's well moistened.

Stir in the chocolate chips and pour into the greased baking dish.

Top evenly with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Cover and bake for 50-60 minutes.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Super Easy And Oh So Yummy Granola Bars

I may be alone here in saying that I can't stand those Quaker Chewy Granola Bars.


They're like my least favorite snack food. Possibly ever.

I know. I'm weird like that.

I've seen a lot of home made versions of granola bars, but they all seem to call for tons of oil, and I've been trying to find something a little healthier, or at least without so much added fat, without sacrificing the yummy, part chewy, part crunchy  texture, and of course the flavor.

So, of course, I made up my own.

This recipe makes a lot of granola bars... at least 24 good sized bars, which could actually be cut in half and still be super satisfying.

You can also control the "add ins" yourself, subbing Sunflower Seed Butter for the Peanut Butter if your kids have allergies, Brown Rice Syrup for the honey, different kinds of dried fruit, white chocolate... the list could go on forever!

Homemade Granola Bars
6 cups Rolled Oats
1 cup Raw Sliced Almonds (I toasted mine in a skillet with a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg)
1 cup (packed) Sweetened Coconut
1 cup Peanut Butter, melted
1 1/2 cups Honey
1/4 cup Maple Syrup
1 cup Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 cup Milk Chocolate Chips
1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil (for the cookie sheet)

Preheat the oven to 325.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, almonds and coconut. Add the peanut butter, honey, and maple syrup, and stir. (I use my hands to stir. They just really get everything combined better than a plain ol' spoon does.)

Now add in the chocolate chips, and stir some more.

It's good like this, in it's raw state, but I like the crunchy nuttiness cooking the bars adds.

Use the veggie oil to grease a cookie sheet with sides or sheet pan. I like to use my Large Bar Pan from Pampered Chef since it just makes everything bake so nice and evenly, but a metal one would work fine too.

Evenly spread the granola bar mixture in he pan, and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until it's lightly golden brown on top.

While it's still hot, use a pizza cutter or a sharp knife to cut the granola into bars. Like I said this makes at least 24 bars, but it could easily make 48.

And PS... they're REALLY good when they're warm, since the chocolate gets all gooey and delicious. Mmm....

Monday, April 9, 2012

Microwave "Light" Chicken Fajitas

I've decided that I need to start eating healthier again... after realizing that I've gained about 30 lbs this past year!! So I'm starting to use SparkPeople.com again, which means taking advantage of their recipe calculator!

This is a super fast meal, great for weeknights. I use The Pampered Chef's Deep Covered Baker for mine, but any microwaveable 3 or more Qt. covered stone-type of baking dish would work. I usually get this to the table in about 20 minutes or less! (Sorry I don't have a better picture of this... it's really good though!)

A one taco serving (which is really big/filling!) has 294 calories, about 10 g, fat, 26 carbs, almost 11 g fiber, 4 sugars, and 30 g. protein.

Quick Light Chicken Fajitas
1 Lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast Tenders
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Green Bell Pepper
1/2 large red onion
1/2 tsp. Garlic Salt
2 tsp. Ground Cumin
2 tsp. Coriander
1 tsp. Chili Powder
1 tsp. Taco seasoning
1 tsp. Garlic Powder
3/4 c. Light Sour Cream
3/4 c. Light Mexican Blend Cheese
3/4 c. Garlic Chipotle Salsa (or whatever you like...)
1 c. Canned Pinto Beans, heated up
1 Pkg (6 total) La Tortilla Factory Sonoma Carb Cutting Tortillas

In your baking dish, line your chicken breast tenders so they cover the bottom. Slice your peppers and onion into strips, and put on top of the chicken. Top with all the seasonings, and stir to coat the veggies. Cover and microwave for 12 minutes (,If using frozen chicken, just add 3 minutes to the cooking time.) or until the chicken reaches 165 degrees in the meatiest parts. Use kitchen shears to cut the chicken in the pan and mix it well. Put the fajita mixture into the tortillas and top as desired.