Black Bean Brownies

I’ve been wanting to try black bean brownies for a long time now. Everyone says you can’t detect the beans at all, and gee whiz, now that I’ve had them I can say … they’re right! I created this brownie recipe after researching tips from other recipes online and struck gold.

They taste even better than they look, and I’m fully aware of how good they look.

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Dense and fudgy with an intense cocoa flavor, these brownies are incredibly addicting and that’s ok – because they’re good for you too. If you’re like me, and always seem to have a can of black beans and bananas on-hand, make these immediately. This is not a drill. Go!

Black Bean Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cover the bottom of an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper or spray with non-stick spray.
  2. Put all of the ingredients except the chocolate chips into a blender or food processor. Process until a smooth batter forms.
  3. Add the chocolate chips and fold into batter.
  4. Pour the batter into prepared pan and sprinkle more chocolate chips on top.
  5. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out mostly clean and there are cracks in the top of the brownies.
  6. Cool the pan completely and then refrigerate until chilled. If you used parchment paper, you should be able to lift the brownies out of the pan easily. Cut the brownies as you like. I got 16 squares out of my pan.

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Black Bean Brownies

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Spaghetti-Squash Pizza Crust

Using vegetables as pizza crust might have changed my life forever.

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Here was the situation: it was two days before Fall break, no food in the fridge, no point in buying more food for the fridge, I had just cooked a spaghetti squash the day before, and had more squash than I knew what to do with.

A quick Google search of “new things to do with spaghetti squash” yielded me results which led to this tasty pizza.

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I didn’t follow the recipe to a T because, again, I had almost nothing else in my fridge. But the crust still turned out really yummy and crispy on the edges. This crust is not as sturdy as other vegetable crusts, and certainly not traditional pizza crusts, but it was a really fun experiment and delicious dinner.

I simply topped with olive oil, raw cheddar, and jalapeños, because that’s what I had. It turned out really well, but you can get really creative with the toppings. Think of what might go well with squash … fall herbs like rosemary and thyme, mushrooms, caramelized onions, chorizo, pesto …. the options are endless!

Spaghetti Squash Pizza Crust

Recipe adapted from Shared Appetite 

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of cooked spaghetti squash
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese (I used raw cheddar)
  • 1 tablespoon shredded parmesan cheese (I didn’t use this)
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Roast spaghetti squash and scoop out the flesh.
  3. Wrap measured-out squash in a cheesecloth, clean kitchen towel, or layers of paper towels and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. I just squeezed it plain over a strainer. The drier the squash, the crispier the crust.
  4. In a mixing bowl, combine the squash, garlic, olive oil, egg, cheeses, and season with oregano, red pepper, salt and black pepper. Press squash in a thin, even layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and form into an approximate 10-inch circle.
  5. Bake for approximately 20 minutes. Remove from oven, carefully flip, and cook for another 10 minutes.
  6. Add desired toppings and bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until done.

Spaghetti Squash Pizza Crust

Farmer’s Market Saturday

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Simple pleasures are the best. I love watching the produce at the Farmer’s Market change with the seasons. It’s all about squash, beets, and eggplant right now, and I’m not complaining.

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The beauty of beets. With matching fingernail polish ❤

Farmers Market 10.18.14

Peasant Bread

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There is really nothing like homemade bread. I’ve made bread and rolls from scratch several times, but it’s often a bit of a pain. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always worth it – it just takes time, patience, and practice.

THIS recipe however, takes none of those things. Well, a little time, but not nearly as much as other recipes. This bread is incredibly easy to make and surprisingly flavorful! It’s sort of baffling really, because it’s comprised of only 4 ingredients + water. This is the second time I’ve made this and I think it will become like second nature to me pretty soon.

This recipe is also fun because you bake the bread in a bowl so it has an adorable round shape to it. You could probably bake it in a loaf pan, but how boring is that? As a variation, you could press this dough into a small, greased sheet pan to make focaccia. Just make dimples in the dough with your fingertips, then sprinkle with whatever focaccia toppings you like!

If you have an inkling for fresh made bread, try this. It’s delicious, practically fool-proof, and gives you total kitchen cred for not doing that much.

Peasant Bread

Peasant Bread

Recipe from Alexandra’s Kitchen

Note: I halved the recipe this time, so the bread you see pictured is half the size of the what you will get if you follow the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons active-dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp room temperature butter

Preparation:

  1. Mixing the dough:
    In a small mixing bowl, dissolve the sugar into the water. Sprinkle the yeast over top. There is no need to stir it up. Let it stand for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the mixture is foamy and/or bubbling just a bit — this step will ensure that the yeast is active. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. When the yeast-water-sugar mixture is foamy, stir it up, and add it to the flour bowl. Mix until the flour is absorbed.
  2. Cover bowl with a tea towel or plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot to rise for at least 1 hour, but preferably closer to 2 hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Grease two oven-safe bowls with 1/2 tablespoon of butter each. Using two forks, punch down your dough, scraping it from the sides of the bowl, which it will be clinging to. As you scrape it down try to turn the dough up onto itself. You want to loosen the dough entirely from the sides of the bowl, and you want to make sure you’ve punched it down. Take your two forks and divide the dough into two equal portions — eye the center of the mass of dough, and starting from the center and working out, pull the dough apart with the two forks. Then scoop up each half and place into your prepared bowls. This part can be a little messy — the dough is very wet and will slip all over the place. It’s best to scoop it up fast and plop it in the bowl in one fell swoop. Let the dough rise for 20 to 30 minutes on the countertop near the oven (or near a warm spot) or until it has risen to just below or above (depending on what size bowl you are using) the top of the bowls.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375º and make for 15 to 17 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and turn the loaves onto cooling racks. If you’ve greased the bowls well, the loaves should fall right out onto the cooling racks. If the loaves look a little pale and soft when you’ve turned them out onto your cooling racks, place the loaves into the oven (outside of their bowls) and let them bake for about 5 minutes longer. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before cutting.

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Peasant Bread 4

Peasant Bread 3

Curried Acorn Squash Soup

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Sweet Acorn squash. Spicy curry. Roasted garlic. Nutty Parmiggiano. Salty, toasted seeds.

Oh, and warm, homemade bread.

Curry Acorn Soup

This soup is an edible embrace of Fall. So colorful, so flavorful, so warm and yummy.

I learned this trick to bake the garlic inside the squash halves from the one and only, Mr. Guy Fieri. (I mean, not personally, I just read it in one of his recipes.) I had my doubts about Guy at first, but over the years he has earned my respect. Him and his white crunchy hair know what’s up. Maybe that’s the source of all his powers …?

Baking the garlic this way imparts a nice flavor into the squash, while drawing out that unmistakable sweet, roasted garlic flavor. Total sidenote: I love that acorn squash, when cut, look like big cartoon flowers. ❤

Curry really brings out the best in squash, in my opinion, so this recipe is a real winner. It’s a little spicy, and very well spiced, sweet, and just a touch salty. I toasted the seeds from the squash and sprinkled them on top. That will be another recipe for another day. A grate of parm and a slice of fresh bread and you’ve got a knockout meal.

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Curried Acorn Squash Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 acorn squash
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth, low sodium
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp Sambal (Asian chile sauce)
  • 1-2 tbsp coconut milk (not light)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (more or less to taste)
  • Pepper to taste

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the squash in half and remove seeds. You can discard or set them aside to roast later. I highly encourage the latter. Cut a flat spot on each end so the squash will sit flat. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and arrange the squash, cut side up.

Add a peeled garlic clove (or two if they’re small) in the cavity of each squash half. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Roast until very tender and starting to caramelize and collapse, approximately 1 hour. Remove from oven and when cool enough to handle, remove the squash from the skin. Reserve the garlic with the squash.

In a large saucepan, add the other tablespoon of olive oil. When oil is hot, saute shallots until tender then add curry powder and other spices. Let the spices toast for a minute or less and then deglaze the pan with half of the stock.

Add squash and garlic into the pot and allow the flavors to meld. Add in the rest of the stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Using an immersion blender or a regular blender, carefully puree soup until smooth and creamy. Return to pot and stir in coconut milk. Cook over low until heated through.

Serve with Parmigiano-Reggiano, toasted squash seeds, and fresh bread.

Curried Lentil Kale Soup

Lentil Soup

I’m a lover of lentils. They know it, I know it. We have an understanding. I use them all the time because they taste good PLUS, they are a great source of protein and fiber. They give me the nutrients I need, while not weighing me down like meat often does.

Soups like this are perfect for when you don’t have much in your kitchen, but still need to make a meal. I pretty much always have lentils and some sort of greens around, so this is a staple for me. It’s spicy and spiced, silky from the coconut milk, and rich with legumes. It’s lovely on its own, but paired with some crusty French bread it would be perfection.

Curried Lentil Kale Soup 

Recipe adapted from 40 aprons 
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 4-6 cups stock
  • 1 scant tbsp olive or coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp curry
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (more or less to taste)
  • Handful of torn or chopped kale (I used a mixed assortment of greens from the farmer’s market)
  • Splash of coconut milk (amount dependent on preference)
  • Salt to taste
Preparation:

Rinse the lentils in a colander and pick out any stones. Combine with 4 cups stock  in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium skillet and sauté the onion over medium heat, stirring frequently, until softened and slightly caramelized, about 10 minutes or so. Add the garlic and spices and fry until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Scrape into the lentils and add coconut milk and kale. If soup is too thick, add up to 2 more cups stock.

Bring soup back up to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, until soup is reduced slightly and kale is tender. Add salt to taste.

Banana Nut Granola

Banana Nut Granola

Well, I found out this weekend that I cannot handle being alone with a bowl of granola. Or a box of cereal, or a bag of popcorn kernels … you get the idea. Let’s just say, this granola never saw me coming. Poor thing was gone in less than 24 hours.

This recipe was kind of an experiment, but it came out surprisingly well! I’ve never made a granola with actual fruit blended and cooked with it before. It added a nice level of sweetness and actually sort of made granola clusters. It really did taste like a delicious deconstructed banana nut bread with raisins.

This is the kind of recipe you can adapt easily based on what you like. Next time I might try pumpkin instead of banana and chocolate chips or cranberries instead of raisins. You can use whatever nuts you like, whatever spices you like, even add ingredients like shredded coconut or seeds. Enjoy!

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Banana Nut Granola

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rolled oats (I used a rolled grain blend with all kinds a good stuff)
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 cup honey or pure maple syrup
  • 1 banana
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup raisins

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Place banana in a bowl and microwave for 3 minutes. Sounds bizarre I know, but I learned this trick from America’s Test Kitchen, my absolute favorite PBS show. Cooking the banana releases sugar and juices and helps it infuse even more sweetness into what you’re baking. It also softens the banana so it can be easily blended with the other wet ingredients.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the softened banana, coconut oil, honey or syrup, and vanilla extract. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, pecans, spices, and salt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and toss to coat until everything is well saturated.

Pour the granola onto the prepared pan and spread out to make an even layer. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the granola is dried out and toasty. Every 10 minutes take the pan out and toss the granola so it doesn’t burn. Toss hot granola with raisins so they plump a bit.

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Moroccan Chicken and Chickpea Stew

This recipe is simple, easy, and as comforting as a warm fleece blanket, fresh out of the dryer.

Yeah, think about that.

Moroccan Chicken and Chickpea Stew

Crock pot meals are the best. I put everything together (which took all of 5 minutes) in the early afternoon, and dinner was ready when I got home from evening class. Perfect timing because I really needed a warm welcome right about then. This little stew is perfect for this time of year because it’s warm and yummy, which is needed as the nights get colder, but still nutritiously good for you, since we’re all still (mostly) concerned with eating healthy and working out … feelings which will quickly dwindle as we descend into winter. Bring on the salted caramel hot cocoa and warm cheesy everything!

Seriously though, this stew just makes you “Mmmmmmmm.” It’s comforting and delicious with lots of warm spices, and after so many hours in the crock pot, the chicken just falls apart. This is a dinner that will make you feel good inside and out!

Moroccan Chicken & Chickpea Stew

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 28 oz. can tomato juice
  • 1 15 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 package frozen peas
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice (for serving)

Preparation:

Place onions in the bottom of your slow cooker. Place chicken on top of onions and sprinkle with curry powder, cumin, cayenne, salt and garlic. Pour tomato juice on top of chicken and onions. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. During the last hour of cooking, take chicken out and shred into bite-sized pieces. Place shredded chicken back into crock pot and stir in chickpeas and frozen peas. Serve hot over steamed brown rice.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pasta

When it starts feeling like Fall, I get that pumpkin fever. I got the fever, and the only cure … is more pumpkin.

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I decided today, spur of the moment, that I wanted pumpkin pasta for lunch and nothing else would do. I’m not high maintenance at all …

I don’t have a Kitchen Aid or a pasta maker, so I needed a recipe that was simple and easy to make without fancy equipment. I found the perfect one.

I only changed the recipe slightly – swapping in whole wheat flour for some extra nutrition, and omitted one of the egg yolks to lower the cholesterol. I also just happened to have homemade pesto in the fridge which I knew would taste wonderful atop this fabulous noodle (I was right). This pasta was incredible! Like, O-M-G good. It is so satisfying and hearty, delicious and flavorful, while still being simple and healthy. It’s basically the embodiment of everything I strive for in my life, in the form of a noodle. This pasta might be my soul mate.

The original recipe called for all-purpose flour, which would definitely make the dough much lighter. I used all-purpose for dusting but stuck to whole wheat for the substance of the noodle. The choice of flour is all yours. If you’ve never made or tried fresh pasta, you should know it tastes completely different than boxed store-bought pasta. It’s ten times more flavorful! It also takes hardly any time. I only boiled my pasta for 1 minute each batch. Don’t forget to salt your water – it makes a huge difference, I promise!

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Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pasta 
Recipe adapted from Minimalist Baker
Serves: 3-4
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour (could also use all-purpose flour) + extra for dusting
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 3 tbsp pumpkin puree
  • Water
Preparation:
Add flour and salt to a food processor and pulse. Then add in egg yolk and 1 whole egg, and the pumpkin puree. Pulse until well combined. Then drizzle in water until a dough forms.
Pumpkin Pasta 1
Transfer to a very lightly floured surface, sprinkle with a little flour, and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside for 30 minutes to rest.
After the pasta has rested, bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt generously.
Cut the pasta into four pieces and begin rolling out into a loose rectangle, sprinkling on only as much flour as it takes to keep it from sticking. Mine was a fairly sticky dough (I might have added too much water), so I needed quite a bit of flour to hold it all together.
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Once the dough is nearly paper thin, cut it into any shape you want. I used a pizza cutter to cut mine into fettuccini-like strips.
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Cover with plastic wrap until ready to cook. Add pasta to boiling water and stir just to make sure they don’t stick together. It should only take 1 to 1 1/2 minutes to cook.
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Drain and transfer to serving plate. Top with pesto and parmesan cheese, like me, or you could toss with tomato sauce. Roasted chunks of pumpkin and sage would be a yummy combo, or just plain olive oil, red chile flakes and cheese would be great too!
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Usually I eat the same amount that 3-4 people would, but this pasta was pretty filling, so I had leftovers. Hooray I get pumpkin pasta round 2! 🙂
Pumpkin Pasta

Chocolate, Almond, Chia, and Sea Salt Granola Bars

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As a student on a budget and with a tight schedule, it’s important to prep food for the week so no bad decisions are made … Sometimes fruit and veggies just aren’t satisfying enough to get me through between meals. I need something a little more substantial to keep hunger at bay. I usually reach for some kind of natural granola type bar, but that can get expensive fast. The best option? Make my own, of course.

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When I was searching for a recipe, I wanted something that was healthy, tasty, and filling. This recipe exceeds those standards. With protein powder, chia seeds, and oats these bars won’t leave you hungry. With almonds, dark chocolate, and pure maple syrup for sweetness, they are delicious. Everything in these bars is natural and healthy, save for the chocolate chips, but since I use dark chocolate, the amount of sugar is minimal and there’s antioxidants, I swear!

These delicious bars will be the perfect smart snack to get me through the day. Next time I make these, which I’m sure will be embarrassingly soon, I’ll probably play around with the flavors. Shredded coconut and flax meal would work well in these bars, as would dried apricots and walnuts. The best part about making your own granola bars is that they can contain whatever deliciousness you want! I’m thinking dried tart cherries and pecans might be in my future …

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Chocolate, Almond, Chia, and Sea Salt Granola Bars

Recipe from Housewife in Training

Ingredients:

  • 1¾ cups old fashioned oats
  • ½ cup protein powder
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup natural peanut butter
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • ¼ cup almonds, chopped
  • ¼ cup dark chocolate chips
  • Sea salt, to sprinkle on top

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine the oats, protein powder, chia seeds, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and salt. Mix well.

In a small bowl, microwave the peanut butter and maple for 30 seconds. Stir until incorporated well, then add to oat mixture. Pour milk into mix and stir until dough forms. Fold in chocolate chips after peanut maple mixture has cooled (otherwise the chips will melt). Dump into a greased 9×9 pan and press evenly into pan with spatula or wet hands (it will be a little sticky!). Press almonds on top and sprinkle a little sea salt.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until set. Remove from oven and let rest for at least 10 minutes, then cut into 12 bars. Refrigerate until ready to eat.

Some pics of the process:

Press dough into pan and sprinkle almonds and sea salt on top. Press slightly into dough to keep everything together.

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Bake and let cool on a wire rack until you can slide the whole thing onto a cutting board (parchment paper helps with this).

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Cut into 12 square bars … you could make them bigger or smaller as you wish.

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Pack up and pop into the fridge to snack on throughout the week.

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The whole batch is about 2,350 calories, which comes out to 195 calories of nutritional goodness per bar.