Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes

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Light and fluffy 100% whole wheat banana pancakes, made with Greek yogurt and flax if you love flax like I do. The banana is subtle and doesn’t make them dense like typical banana bread. Dustin approved and he doesn’t care for banana- or any fruit-filled- bread. I served them with extra sliced banana and maple syrup. Also yummy with blueberry jam. I rarely calculate the calories for recipes, but since I ate 4? 5? of these guys I was curious. Based on the ingredients I used (see parenthesis below) they’re only 60 (batch of 15) – 75 (batch of 12) calories a piece. That doesn’t account for the butter and syrup but they’re delicious as is and pretty darn good for you too!

Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes

INGREDIENTS

1 and 1/3 cups white whole wheat flour (I replaced 1/6 cup of the flour with ground flaxseed)
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 large egg
1 cup milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 large banana)
2 Tbsp. packed dark or light brown sugar
1/4 cup Greek yogurt (I used plain nonfat)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

1. Whisk the flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Set aside. In a separate medium bowl, whisk the egg, milk, and banana together. Whisk in the brown sugar and yogurt until no lumps remain. Whisk in the vanilla until combined.

2. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients in. Stir gently until just combined. Do not overmix the batter or your pancakes will be tough and very dense.

3. Heat a griddle or skillet over medium heat. Coat generously with cooking spray, oil, or butter.  Once very hot, drop about 1/4 cup of batter on the griddle. Cook until the edges look dry and bubbles begin to form on the center or sides, about 1 minute. Flip and cook on the other side until cooked through, about 2 more minutes. Coat griddle/skillet again with nonstick spray for each pancake or batch of pancakes.

4. Keep pancakes warm in a preheated 200 F oven until all pancakes are cooked. Serve immediately. Pancakes taste best right after they are made. Pancakes freeze well, up to 2 months.

Makes 12-15 pancakes, depending on size.

(Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction)

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Crispy Baked Sweet Potato Fries

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Some time ago I discovered the trick to crispier baked sweet potato fries and haven’t looked back. The secret ingredient? Cornstarch. A little bit of cornstarch makes a big difference in crispiness! The other key to success is spacing out your fries on the baking sheet. If they’re toppling all over each other (as pictured- for the photo I combined two pans into one- not helpful, I know), they’ll steam and turn soggy. And they can be seasoned with whatever spices you love. My go-to mix is cumin + coriander + garlic powder + smoked paprika and I serve them with a chipotle ranch sauce for dipping. Yum.

Crispy Baked Sweet Potato Fries

INGREDIENTS

sweet potatoes
2 tsp. cornstarch per sweet potato
1 Tbsp. olive oil (or melted coconut oil) per sweet potato
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

spices:
cumin + coriander + garlic powder + smoked paprika (my favorite combination)
cinnamon-sugar
cayenne
Cajun seasoning
adobo seasoning
curry powder, etc.

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a large baking sheet with foil (coated with nonstick spray), parchment paper, or a silicone baking mat.  Make sure the potatoes aren’t too crowded. I used 2 medium sized baking sheets for 2 potatoes.

2. Wash and peel the potatoes. Cut off the ends. Cut the potatoes into thin slices about 1/4 inch wide.  Place in a large bowl and toss with cornstarch. You want a nice thin coating.  Discard the extra cornstarch. Place potatoes back into the bowl and add the olive oil and seasoning(s) of choice. (I often just mix everything right on the baking sheet.)

3. Line the sweet potatoes onto the baking sheet.  Try not to crowd them or else they won’t bake, they’ll just steam.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning occasionally, until soft in the center and crisp on the outside. Serve immediately OR…

4. Turn the oven off and keep the fries inside as the oven cools down for about 30 minutes. This step will help the fries get crispier. (I’ve yet to try this step- next time!)

(Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction)

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Thai Coconut Soup with Chicken and Rice

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As long as I’ve known Clara (almost 3 years now!) she’s been soup-averse. Not a fan of purees or anything swimming in broth. She’ll usually try them, and then lose interest. I’ve often gotten away with draining the liquid off and serving soup less “soupy”. But rarely does she devour, with pleasure, a bowl of anything soupish without resistance. This was the soup though that made history.

Curry spices + rich coconut milk + shredded chicken + rice + lime juice + cilantro…. essentially coconut chicken curry in soup form. It comes together in about 15 minutes and Dustin, Clara, and I agreed: it’s absolutely delicious!

If you want to complicate things (and maybe add an extra bit of nutrition/flavor), you could saute a small onion, a few cloves of garlic, and some diced red bell pepper before adding the spices at the beginning. But totally not necessary. This soup was full of flavor and perfect just as written. We like our soup thick so I added lots of chicken and rice- cut back on both for a thinner consistency. And you’re always welcome to spice it up to taste. When serving a child, I usually just provide pepper flakes on the side. Serve with warm naan for dipping.

Thai Coconut Soup with Chicken and Rice

INGREDIENTS

1-2 Tbsp. butter, olive oil, or coconut oil
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. chili powder
dash cayenne pepper (to taste)
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste (I added ~1 tsp. salt)
1 large carrot, grated
2 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken broth
1 15-ounce can coconut milk
2 1/2 cups cooked shredded chicken (I used half of a Whole Foods rotisserie chicken)
2 cups cooked white or brown rice (I used white Jasmine rice)
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
fresh cilantro, chopped for serving

DIRECTIONS

1. In a large pot or dutch oven, melt the butter/oil over medium heat, then stir in the spices and let cook for about 30 seconds, stirring frequently. Add the carrots, stir to combine and let cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until the carrots are soft.

2. Add the remaining ingredients (chicken broth through soy sauce) and bring to a low boil, then let simmer for about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, stir in fresh cilantro, and serve immediately.

Serves 4-6.

(Adapted from Everyday Reading)

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Orange Spice Rubbed Salmon

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I love a recipe as concise as this. Notice the directions have two steps! And one of them is “preheat broiler”. Then mix spices, rub, and cook. I can do that anytime, any night. OK, measuring out the spices and zesting the orange might take a whole minute. But this is about as simple as it gets. And still so flavorful and impressive. The orange flavor is subtle against the smoky-sweet chili rub. To sum it up succinctly: some delicious salmon.

Orange Spice Rubbed Salmon

INGREDIENTS

1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. orange zest
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. sweet or smoked paprika (I used sweet this time, but I bet smoked would be awesome)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
4 (1 – 1 1/2 lbs. total) salmon fillets, skin removed

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat broiler.

2. Combine first 8 ingredients in a small bowl. Rub spice mixture over both sides of salmon fillets. Place salmon on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray (I line mine with foil first for easy clean-up). Broil for 8 minutes or until salmon flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Serves 4.

(Adapted from Cooking Light)

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Blueberry Lemon Layer Cake with Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

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My birthday cake! Baked by Clara, assisted by my mom (with my guidance on the high altitude adjustments*). I wanted something refreshing and spring-like to celebrate this year and decided on this cake at first sight. Blueberry + lemon + my favorite whipped cream cream cheese frosting. You can go with the original recipe and make regular cream cheese frosting, but I promise this whipped cream version is amazing!

I don’t have too many suggestions, just make sure not to overmix your batter or overbake your cake. Both will result in a denser, dryer result which is no good. If I’d had extra blueberries, I would have decorated with them. Or top it with some toasted coconut or almonds. Leftover cake can be frozen and later defrosted for continued enjoyment.

Blueberry Lemon Layer Cake with Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

INGREDIENTS

cake:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour (careful not to over-measure)
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
zest + juice of 3 medium lemons
1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or non-thawed frozen
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

frosting:
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
8 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. salt

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray three 9×2 inch cake pans with nonstick spray. Set aside.

2. Make the cake: Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high until creamy – about 1 minute. Add granulated and brown sugars and beat on medium-high speed until creamed, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until everything is combined, about 2 full minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Set aside.

3. In a large sized bowl, toss together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Beat on low speed for 5 seconds, then add the buttermilk, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Remove from the mixer and stir lightly until everything is just combined. Toss the blueberries in 1 Tablespoon of flour and fold into the batter. Batter is extremely thick. Do not overmix at any point. Overmixing will lend a tough, dense textured crumb.

4. Spoon batter evenly into 3 prepared cake pans. If only using 2 cake pans, your bake time will be longer. Bake the three layers for about 21 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.

5. Make the frosting: Using a handheld or stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Set aside. In a separate bowl, beat cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and light. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and salt with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for another minute. Add the whipped cream and beat for another minute until smooth and airy. Refrigerate until ready to use.

6. Assemble and frost: First, using a large serrated knife, trim the tops off the cake layers to create a flat surface (if needed- I didn’t have to). Place 1 layer on your cake stand. Evenly cover the top with frosting. Top with 2nd layer, more frosting, then the third layer. Top with frosting and spread around the sides. The recipe doesn’t make a ton of frosting, just enough for a light frost. Top with blueberries or lemon garnish if desired. Refrigerate a bit before serving so the cake can set.

7. Make ahead tip: Prepare cakes and frosting 1 day in advance. Keep cakes at room temperature, covered tightly. Refrigerate prepared frosting in an airtight container until ready to use. Frosted or unfrosted cakes may be frozen up to 2 months, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature if desired before serving.

*for high altitude: – 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar, + 1 egg, + 3 Tbsp. flour, decrease baking powder by half, + 2 Tbsp. buttermilk, increase baking temperature to 375 F, decrease baking time to ~18 min

Makes a 9-inch round, 3 layer cake.

(Cake adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction, Frosting from All Recipes)

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