Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Pesto Zoodles

Pesto Zoodles

I am watching/listening to the Presidential Debate. I decided I needed some wine and a snack.  I already had some "zoodles" (zucchini noodles) in my refrigerator since I had shredded up three zucchinis with my mandolin yesterday. This super tasty snack came together really quickly and easily.  I would love to have this dish with some protein, such as grilled chicken or shrimp, but tonight... it was all about having some veggies. 

Pesto Zoodles
1 small zucchini cut into matchsticks with a mandolin or spiralized with a spiralizer
1 teaspoon (or less) of coconut oil (or any other neutral flavored oil)
approximately 1 teaspoon prepared pesto (I used Kroger brand "Private Select" Basil Pesto)
garnish with grated Parmesan cheese if desired

Heat the coconut oil in a medium sized skillet over medium to medium high heat.  Add the zucchini noodles (zoodles) to the skillet; cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 6 minutes until the zoodles are tender/soft.  Add in approximately 1 teaspoon prepared pesto (more if desired); stir and cook an additional minute. 

Garnish with Parmesan cheese if desired and enjoy!


The weather is cooling off quickly. This past weekend, I went for a sunrise walk and it was 72 degrees F at 6:15 a.m.  Today, I went for a walk a bit later in the morning, and it was 37 degrees F.  It was cold, but beautiful!  Here are some pretty photos that I'd like to share...

It was also a good day for some knitting...

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Oatmeal Raisin Maple Pecan Cookies

Oatmeal Raisin Cinnamon Pecan Maple Cookies?
Maple Cinnamon Pecan Raisin Oatmeal Cookies?
Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Maple Pecan Cookies?

I don't know what to call these cookies?  They are a bit healthier than your average cookie and not too sweet.  Whatever you call them, my friends down at the knit shop enjoyed them so I decided I should type up the recipe.

Last week, I made up some "Almond Joy Cookies" (here is the LINK to that recipe). As you might expect, those cookies tasted a bit like the candy called "Almond Joy" and contained coconut, coconut oil, almond extract, and chocolate.  I loved these cookies and my friends down at the knit shop enjoyed them as well.  Even one gal who doesn't really like coconut liked the Almond Joy cookies.

For the Oatmeal Raisin Cinnamon Pecan Maple Cookies, I just switched up the ingredients to make a new cookie.  This is one of those recipes where it's easy to change up just a few ingredients and you have a new cookie recipe.  One of the gals at the knit shop said she enjoyed the raisin version more than the Almond Joy version.  Look at all my scientific survey taking.  Should I just share the recipe now?  Okay, here goes:

Oatmeal Raisin Cinnamon Pecan Maple Cookies
(Feel free to call them whatever you like)

1 cup (100 grams) quick or instant oats **
3/4 cup (90 grams) white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour **
1/8 teaspoon salt (I used iodized salt)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons coconut, melted and slightly cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup maple syrup, room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans

  1. Whisk together the oats, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, maple syrup, egg, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring just until incorporated. Fold in the raisins and pecans. Chill for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325°F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  3. Drop the cookie dough into 24 rounded scoops onto the prepared sheet. Flatten the cookies slightly with your fingers. Bake at 325°F for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on the pan for about 10 minutes.
  4. Store in an air tight container or a zip close plastic bag.
** It's important to measure these two ingredients carefully so that the cookies do not fall apart.  To measure both the flour and the oats, lightly spoon them into the measuring cup until the measuring cup is overflowing, then drag the flat backside of a knife across the top to level it off.  Do NOT scoop the flour or the oats directly out of the container with the measuring cup or pack them in. This can result in adding too much flour and oats to the dough and the cookies will not turn out.  If you have a digital kitchen scale, weight measurements are also provided which makes for a super accurate measurement. 

DON'T WORRY!  The cookie dough will have a rather wet looking texture when you first combine the wet and dry ingredients.  That is why the dough gets chilled for 30 minutes before baking; it gives the oats and flour a chance to soak up some of that moisture.

These cookies DO NOT flatten out or spread when they bake, so flatten them out with your fingers prior to baking.  They will puff up slightly from the baking powder.

I made a deal with myself this morning. I said that if I walked 10,000 steps on my hike with the dogs this morning, then I could bake cookies today.  We had a great hike and the sunrise was spectacular.  It was even better in person.

It just kept getting better and better...

By 8:20 am, we had hiked 57 floors, over 4 miles, and just over 10,000 steps.  Yay!  Cookie time!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Almond Joy Cookies

Almond Joy Cookies

The other day, I made up a batch of brownies for my husband.  Well, that was my intent, but I helped him eat them. The recipe is fantastic and a little on the healthier side.  The recipe is HERE if you'd like to see that post.  The recipe is rather low fat, the brownies contain both yogurt and applesauce, and the end result is a dense, delicious, and great brownie.  As I was making these brownies, I decided to turn the pan in the oven when the brownies were almost done... you know, because the back of the oven generally tends to be a little hotter than the front of the oven.  As I was turning the brownies, I hit the side of my wrist on the roof of the oven, burning my wrist.  I jerked my hand away from the oven roof and proceeded to whack my middle finger on the oven rack, burning my finger. At that moment, I decided the Universe was telling me to STOP baking!

Of course, fast forward a few days and I found a blog called "Amy's Healthy Baking (  A recipe called "Almond Joy Cookies" caught my eye and, sure enough, I had all the ingredients on hand to make the cookies.  I had just enough agave nectar and just a enough semi-sweet chocolate chips to make these cookies. Somehow I find using up the last little bits of ingredients very satisfying.  See, the Universe wanted me to make these cookies.

And I am glad I did. These cookies are really delicious. I brought them down to the knit shop and the gals all really liked them.  I left the cookies at the shop; I don't think I can be trusted with them. 

Amy at Amy's Healthy Baking is a really smart cookie.  Her Bio reflects she was a Chemistry major in college. I could tell she takes a scientific approach to baking (I LOVE that!); her list of ingredients are listed in cups and also ounces/grams.  This results in really great baking results.  In the recipe, she discusses how it's really important to carefully and properly measure ingredients or the cookies might be dry and crumbly. 

It seems that Amy has a bit of an "oatmeal cookie formula".  She has many varieties of these cookies and she just switches up a few of the ingredients.  She mentions that agave nectar, honey, or maple syrup can be used in place of one another, but points out they do have different flavor profiles which may change the flavor of the cookies.  The agave nectar, honey, or maple syrup are the primary "wet" ingredients in these cookies, along with just a little melted coconut oil, and one egg.  She switches up the "add in" ingredients too of course. She has a Raspberry Oatmeal Cookie, a Blueberry Oatmeal Cookie, a Carrot Cake Oatmeal Cookie, and even a Pineapple Coconut Oatmeal Cookie.  One could easily make up their own varieties using her recipe as a starting point.  Based upon ingredients I have on hand, I am imagining an Oatmeal Raisin Pecan Cookie with Maple Syrup; I wish I had some maple extract to add in.  The possibilities are endless if you use your imagination.  I am sure I'll come back to this recipe again and try more varieties. 

Here is the recipe link for the Almond Joy Cookies.

These cookies are on the healthier side.  There are only 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in the entire batch of cookies.  I did make my cookies significantly smaller than recommended and adjusted the baking time accordingly (only 10 minutes).  I ended up with slightly more than 2 dozen cookies.  I found that the cookies do need to be flattened (with your fingertips or palm) before baking.  My cookies did not flatten out while baking. In the photo at the top of the page, you can see the cookies I made where I flattened the cookies before baking. Below, you can see the cookies I baked where I did NOT flatten the cookies before baking. They are rather domed shaped.  I preferred the flattened cookies more.  I do live at high altitude which could have impacted how the cookies do or don't flatten out while baking. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Turkey Pesto Burgers: 21 Day Fix Friendly

Turkey Pesto Burgers

Jennie-O Ground Turkey was on sale for $2.99 this past week.  I stocked up!  I did not plan my meals very well this week; instead I stocked up on items which were on sale.  Thankfully I came up with an idea for something I could make with a least one pound of ground turkey; this will make four meals for me and the recipe calls for just a few ingredients. I considered adding veggies into the burger mix, but decided to keep it simple.  The pesto I used is Kroger Brand "Private Select" Basil Pesto and it has a very wet consistency; I added in some quick or instant oats so that the burgers would hold together well.  The burgers did hold together well while grilling in my grill pan. I was surprised how the addition of oats really changed the texture of the burgers.  I would say it made the burgers very tender and, since I did not add in any grated or diced veggies, the texture was also very smooth. I decided to top my burger with some garlicky tomato sauce (Barilla brand Roasted Garlic Natural jarred tomato sauce) and a little grated mozzarella cheese.  I plan to make this meal again but next time I'll make up some zucchini noodles (zoodles).  I think these burgers would also be great on a bun.  I did not add any salt to my burgers but I think a few pinches of salt would have been good, so I did add a pinch of salt to the list of ingredients below. 

Turkey Pesto Burgers (Serves 4)

1 pound lean Jennie-O brand ground turkey, 93 percent lean
1/4 cup plain quick or instant oats
2 tablespoons prepared basil pesto
A pinch of salt


Mist a large skillet (or grill pan) with cooking spray and preheat over medium high heat.  In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.  Mix gently with hands to distribute the ingredients and shape into 4 equal patties, less than 1/2 inch think.  Add patties to preheated skillet (or grill pan), reduce heat to medium, and cook until bottoms are deep golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes.  Flip and cook until patties are firm to the touch and cooked through (no pink remains), about 4 to 5 minutes more. 

If desired, serve with some warmed tomato based pasta sauce and a little mozzarella or Parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Taco Chili Soup with Pumpkin

Taco Chili Soup

A few weeks ago, I had an idea for a soup I wanted to make.  It was going to be a soup that tasted like pizza and I planned to add in all the things I like on top of my pizza.  Bell pepper, onions, mushrooms, olives, and even some zesty turkey pepperoni.  I kept thinking of the best way to make the soup; roast the veggies in the oven, cook it all on the stove top, or throw it all in the slow cooker?  I finally ended up throwing it all (ALL 16-gazillion ingredients!) in the slow cooker when I made this soup this past weekend.  Unfortunately, the soup was NOT nearly as good as I hoped it would be. Don't get me wrong.  I ate it all, but I know I can do better.  Basically, I think it would have been better to saute or roast the mushrooms before adding them to the soup.  I put 1/2 a pound of uncooked mushrooms in the slow cooker with all the other ingredients and mushrooms are just full of liquid.  Maybe the soup was to watery? I don't know. I will try again and I'll keep you posted. 

This weekend, I also made a Taco Pizza for my husband.  Ordinarily, this is a meatless pizza when I make it, but this time he asked that I add Jennie-O Taco Seasoned Ground Turkey.  It comes in a one pound package.  I used only 1/2 of the turkey (maybe a bit more... I did not measure it) on the pizza so I had seasoned taco meat left over.

This week, I found myself craving soup again. I think I am in a soup mood nearly every day because we go for walks in the morning when it's still rather cool out.  I was wanting soup but not wanting to go to the store.  I threw a bunch of ingredients I found in the kitchen in the slow cooker (including the leftover seasoned turkey taco meat) and it ended up being one of my favorite soups EVER.

The moral to the story is that sometimes just a few simple ingredients can result in something really good and you don't need a GAZILLION ingredients or fancy techniques to make a great soup.  I threw it all in the slow cooker and it turned out great.

If you ever find yourself with leftover seasoned taco meat of any kind, you might think to make soup like I did.

Taco Chili Soup with Pumpkin

1/2 to 1/3 of a pound of Jennie-O Brand Taco Seasoned ground turkey, cooked & crumbled
1 can pinto beans (15.5 ounces), drained and rinsed
1 can beef broth, low sodium (14 ounces)
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes (14.5 ounces)
1/3 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 medium sized yellow or sweet onion, diced
a few pinches of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar (add more at the end if desired)
several grinds of black pepper (20 to 25 grinds), or to taste
salt to taste at the very end

For serving:  Low fat Greek plain yogurt or sour cream

Put all ingredients (from cooked ground turkey through black pepper... everything but the salt and yogurt/sour cream) in a slow cooker (I used my small Crock Pot).  Cook on LOW for 3 to 4 hours (until onions are tender).  Taste for seasoning.  I added just a few more pinches of sugar at the end to offset the spicy heat and the acidity of the tomatoes.

Serve each bowl of soup with a few tablespoons of plain yogurt or sour cream stirred in. 


Makes 4 servings.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

My last post was also about pumpkin recipes.  I found a GREAT use for leftover pumpkin puree.  It's a shame to let ingredients go to waste.  After my hike yesterday morning, I whipped up this recipe in my Ninja Blender and it was a delicious treat.  My glass was a bit too big for my smoothie so my photo is not fantastic, but the recipe is fantastic!  I have just a little more pumpkin puree left over so I can make this recipe one more time in the next few days and then I will have successfully polished off the last of my big can of pumpkin puree. 

Here's what did:

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

1 small frozen banana
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 heaping teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
small squirt of honey
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

Blend until smooth; enjoy!

Here are some photos from my chilly, breezy hike on Sunday morning.  The photos are shown in the order in which they were taken.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Flourless Pumpkin Blender Muffins with Walnuts and Raisins

Flourless Pumpkin Blender Muffins with Walnuts and Raisins

So nice to wake up to these yummy muffins this morning!

The other day I opened up a BIG can of Libby's Pumpkin Puree. 

First, I made up a batch of Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies; the ladies at the knit shop loved them. They are tender and cake-like; they kind of remind me of muffin tops (the best part of a muffin!). Here is the recipe:

I also made up half of a batch of Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Energy Bites; I made this recipe several weeks ago.  They are delicious!  I keep them in the freezer and just defrost a few here and there (the ladies at the knit shop loved these, too!).  Here is the recipe:

I still had about half of the big can of pumpkin puree in my refrigerator yesterday.  Not wanting it to go to waste, I found a few more recipes to make using up the last of the pumpkin. 

If you've been following along the past few weeks, you know that I've recently discovered Flourless Blender Muffins.  The muffin batter is mixed in a blender and the muffins are flourless because rolled oats are used in place of any flour.  A week or two ago, I TRIED to make up Flourless Blender Muffins with pumpkin based on the successful recipe I had been making.  My Flourless Pumpkin Blender Muffins were an EPIC FLOP!  There was not enough moisture in the mix and the batter would not blend.  I went to take the lid off of my Ninja Blender (which screws on tightly), and a lot of pressure had built up in the blender. I had a Blender Blow Out! Pumpkin-oat GOO everywhere.  I tried to salvage the batter by adding in some unsweetened almond milk.  I baked the muffins but they just were not good. They tasted more liked baked oatmeal (but not in a good way!) and I ended up throwing them out. What a waste! 

So I was all to happy to try out a new recipe for Flourless Blender Muffins with Pumpkin where someone else already did the experimentation for me.  I made these muffins last night and I am really pleased with them.  They are dense, hearty, moist, and flavorful, but they are only slightly sweet.  If you like sweeter muffins you can easily increase the sweetness by adding more sugar or maple syrup (or honey).  If you use vanilla yogurt in place of the plain yogurt, or if you use sweetened applesauce in place of the unsweetened applesauce, then of course your muffins would be a little sweeter.  I was worried about my muffins a bit because my pumpkin puree, yogurt, and eggs, were all cold right out of the refrigerator when I blended up my muffin batter.  It would be preferable to let your cold ingredients come up to room temperature or at least sit out on the counter top for a bit.  Despite my ingredients being cold, my muffins turned out fine; however, I do think I had to bake them just a tad longer.

Here is the link to the recipe I made yesterday:

I did make a few alterations to the recipe and you will find my version below.  My alterations included the following:

I added a bit of salt
I omitted the chocolate chips and added walnuts and raisins
I used 1/2 the recommended amount of yogurt and substituted unsweetened applesauce
I used brown sugar and maple syrup in place of the sweetener recommended
I decreased the cooking temperature from 400 degrees to 375 degrees Fahrenheit

Flourless Pumpkin Blender Muffins with Walnuts and Raisins
Adapted from

  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups rolled oats (old fashioned)
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar (not packed)
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup (or honey)
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • 2/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • pumpkin seeds for topping (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and prepare a muffin pan by spraying cavities with cooking spray or lining them with paper liners. Set aside.
  2. Add all ingredients except for raisins and chopped walnuts to a blender or food processor and process on high until oats are broken down and batter is smooth and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in raisins and chopped walnuts by hand by hand.
  3. Pour batter into prepared muffin pan, filling each cavity until it is about ¾ full. Sprinkle a few pumpkin seeds, if desired.
  4. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the tops of your muffins are set and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool in pan for ~10 minutes before removing. Store in an air-tight container for up to a week.  Muffins also freeze well.

Here are some photos from the hikes I took yesterday.  In the morning, we were up at Tunnel Drive (below).  You can see the Arkansas River and Grape Creek in this photo.

In the afternoon, we were hiking up on Skyline Drive and the Hogbacks.  We found a furry friend along the way.

I recently discovered that my iPhone tracks my steps, distance walked, and changes in elevation.  It's fun to see.  Below is a summary of yesterday's hikes: