healthier chocolate muffins

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Today I woke up with a craving for chocolate.  I know, shocking.  But instead of grabbing a cupcake from the refrigerator (there are ALWAYS cupcakes in the fridge), I decided to make some muffins.  I wanted it to be healthy-ish, but I also didn’t want something too dense or packed with oats or wheat germ.  A few simple substitutions later, and I was left with a one bowl, no butter, no granulated sugar recipe that was quick and delicious.  The muffins were moist and soft, with a crispy muffin top, just like it’s supposed to be.  I added some mini chocolate chips because there’s nothing better than a warm muffin and those melted pieces of chocolate in each bite, but you can certainly leave them out to make them even healthier.

I’m now writing this post outside on my deck on a beautiful sunny morning, on the unofficial start of the summer.  I’ve got my dog laying down next to me, a warm muffin to my left, and a small cup of iced coffee to my right.  What more could you want?!

Healthier Chocolate Muffins
(Makes 6 jumbo muffins)

1/2 cup maple syrup
3/8 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup vanilla (or plain) yogurt
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 egg
3/8 cup milk
1 1/2 tbsp espresso (or strongly brewed) coffee
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips (plus more to top each muffin)

Preheat over to 375F.  Line a standard jumbo muffin pan with liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, coconut oil, yogurt, vanilla extract, egg, milk, and coffee.  Once combined, add the baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder.  Whisk until combined.  Add the flour and whisk until combined again.  With a spatula, fold in mini chocolate chips.

Fill each muffin liner almost to the top, a little more than 2/3 full.  You want the muffins to rise enough so that they develop that “muffin top” shape.  Top each muffin with a few (or ten if you’re like me) mini chocolate chips.  Bake for 20-21 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

– bake on,
Sharon

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chocolate chip waffles

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I’m embarrassed to say this, but the first purchase I made when I moved out of my mom’s house and into my own apartment was a waffle iron.  About 5 years have passed since that day, and I still love pulling out my waffle iron every weekend and making waffles.  Over the years, I’ve developed my go-to recipe.  It is a simple recipe that calls for one bowl (easy clean up), simple ingredients that you’ll without a doubt always have in your kitchen, and only a few minutes of work.  And it leads to super fluffy waffles that are soft on the inside and crispy on the outside.

I usually make these with chocolate chips, because… well… chocolate.  But this recipe can easily be made without the chocolate if all you want are some plain jane waffles.  Nothing wrong with that!

Chocolate Chip Waffles
(Makes about 4 8-inch round waffles)

2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat your waffle iron.  I set my Oster waffle iron to the max setting.

In a large bowl, whisk together the milk and eggs.  Slowly whisk in the flour, baking powder, and melted butter.  Whisk until just combined – small lumps are okay!  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Add about 2/3 cup into the center of the waffle iron – make sure you are grabbing chocolate chips, too!  They tend to sink to the bottom of the bowl.  The batter will spread throughout the waffle iron, but you can use a small spoon to quickly make sure that the batter is spread evenly throughout the iron.  Close the lid and cook for about 5 to 5 1/2 minutes, or until the waffle is golden brown.  Remove with a fork and repeat until all the batter has been used.

Serve immediately with chocolate sauce, maple syrup, or whipped cream!

– breakfast on,
Sharon

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easy no-bake granola bars

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It’s a new year!  That means it’s time to start those resolutions to work out more and eat healthier.  I like to think that I exercise enough times a week and eat healthy, but it’s never a bad idea to have a little check-in with yourself!  Unfortunately, breakfast is where I’ve always cut corners.  I know, I know – the most important meal of the day, and I have a habit of messing it all up.  Usually I’ll just have a small serving of cereal or yogurt, but sometimes, I skip it all together.  Oops.

These granola bars are the perfect fix.  Not only are they incredibly easy to make, they’re also the perfect grab and go meal for those busy mornings.  Make them, eat them, love them, repeat!

Easy No-Bake Granola Bars
(Makes 18 bars)
Adapted from Once Upon a Chef

6 tbsp unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
2 cups quick oats
1 3/4 cups crispy rice cereal
1/2 cup sliced pecans
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil.  Lightly butter the baking pan.

In a large pot, combine the butter, brown sugar, and honey.  Over medium-high heat, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly.  Lower the heat and simmer for another 2 minutes, allowing the mixture to thicken.  Remove from heat and add the vanilla extra and salt.  Add the oats, rice cereal, pecans, and wheat germ to the mixture.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and use a spatula to even everything out.  Pour the chocolate chips over the entire mixtures and press down with a spatula so that they stay put.

Refrigerate the pan for 2 hours.  Remove the aluminum foil and uncut bars from the pan and set on a cutting board.  Using a sharp knife, cut the granola bars into 18 equal rectangles.  Store in an airtight container.

– resolution on,
Sharon

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graham cracker chocolate chip muffins

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K and I just started watching Breaking Bad.  We’re a little late to the game – I know.  We’re about four episodes in, and so far so good.  It is definitely a bit more intense than the last series we just finished watching – Weeds.  So with my blood pressure up, and the football game in the background, I figured it was time to bake and relax.  Enter these graham cracker chocolate chip muffins.

These muffins are perfect because they’re very versatile.  I make them cupcake-sized, because it’s just the right portion size for breakfast, dessert, or a snack.  The base is your typical chocolate chip muffins, but the graham crackers in the batter, as well as crumble, is just that crunchy extra kick that you need to take this up a notch.  A great dish to make if you are looking for something simple, but unique, to make for your friends and family!

Graham Cracker Chocolate Chip Muffins
(makes 12 muffins)
Adapted from How Sweet Eats

For the muffins:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup graham crackers, crushed
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup 2% milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips

For the crumb topping:

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup graham crackers, crushed
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 400 F.  Line the cupcake pan with cupcake liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, sugar, and salt, until blended.

In a large bowl, combine the milk, oil, egg, and vanilla extract, and beat until incorporated.  Slowly add the dry ingredients to the large bowl, and mix until just combined.  Add the chocolate chips and mix with a large spoon, not a hand or stand mixer.

Pour the batter into the cupcake lines, filling each cup about 3/4 full.

Next, prepare the crumb topping.  In a small bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, and crushed graham crackers.  Add the melted butter and mix until the mixture resembles wet sand.  Top each muffin with a heaping teaspoon of the topping.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

bake on,
Sharon

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blueberry and white chocolate chip scones

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I’ve never been a big fruit eater.  My close friends and family know that I never mix fruit with anything savory.  Or really, mix fruit with anything.  Strawberry ice cream? Nooo!  Oranges in my salad?  Omg!  Most of the time, when I see recipes that incorporate some sort of fruit into something savory, I cringe a little bit inside.  (Oops.)  I’m sure it is delicious for most people, but I just can’t do it!  The few fruit themed recipes that you’ll see on here have been tested and approved by those around me.  I rarely try them.  And this recipe was not going to be an exception.  K picked up some blueberries (his favorite) this week and requested that I make him another favorite of his – scones.  I knew white chocolate chips would mesh well with the blueberries, so I made my way to the kitchen and started baking!

K loved the end result and do I dare say that I liked it too?  The consistency of the scones was perfect – not too soft like a cookie, and not too dense like so many other scones that you pick up at the grocery store.  The blueberries kept their shape and the white chocolate chips were just the extra touch of sweetness that was needed.  K was happy and breakfast was ready for the entire week!  Success!

Blueberry and White Chocolate Chip Scones
(Makes 8 scones)

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 stick butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat over to 425 F.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.

Cut the butter into small cubes.  Slowly add the butter to the dry ingredients and mix well.

In another large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and vanilla extract.  In a few batches, add the dry mixture into the wet mixture.  A doughy mixture should begin to form.  Fold in the white chocolate chips and blueberries.  Move the mixture to a floured surface and knead to combine.  Shape the dough into eight equal pieces and lay them onto a flat baking tray.

Place the scones into the freezer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes.  Remove the scones and place them directly in the oven.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

bake on,
Sharon

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banana & peach muffins

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K is 100% an apple lover.  He eats them every day with peanut butter after dinner like it’s some kind of ritual.  But for the past few months, they haven’t exactly been in season.  In a couple weeks or so, the apple selection will be endless, but for now, peaches have been our replacement.  I’ve never been a huge peach lover.  They have a weird flavor – almost like the peach gods couldn’t decide if they want to be sweet or sour, so they decided to be a little bit of both.

Which is why this recipe has been amazing for the two of us.  First of all, K and I are the type to get up early in the morning and be out the door within 10 minutes.  We do as much prep the night before as possible.  So grabbing a quick snack like this for the road is exactly what we needed.  Plus, the peaches give a new life to the boring old muffin.  They give it so much flavor, but subdued enough that it doesn’t feel like you’re biting into a fresh peach.  Maybe I’m weird, but I think it’s a lovely balance.  Sweet, moist, healthy AND filling?  It hits the spot.

Sharon – 1.  Early morning – 0.

Banana & Peach Muffins
(Makes 10-12 muffins)

1 ¼ cup whole wheat flour
¾ cup old fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup maple syrup
½ cup vegetable oil
3 bananas, mashed
1 pound peaches, cut to 1/4″ slices, and then each slice cut into 4 equal segments

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line a muffin pan with liners.

Whisk together the flour, oats, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.  In another bowl, blend together the maple syrup, oil and mashed bananas.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and gently fold in peaches. Stir only until combined.

Fill the muffin tins 90% of the way full with batter. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden.  Serve warm.

– food on,
Sharon

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broccoli, potato, and mozzarella scrambled eggs

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K and I went to a Phillies game yesterday (my second of the week – and ever – and his first of the week – and ever).  As I expected, we had a great time.  It was actually the Hall of Fame day, where people like Curt Schilling were inducted into the HoF.  And the game was really exciting!  We got back late and headed straight to bed.  We both woke up this morning tired as ever, but K had to run to work, and I had to wake myself up and kill a couple hours before Zumba class.  And what’s a better way to burn a couple hours than to spend it in the kitchen!?

I was on a mission.  With a good workout in my horizon, I knew I needed something that was filling and full of protein.  Plus, that broccoli sitting in my refrigerator needed to get used up.  Time to improvise.  That’s the great thing about these scrambled eggs.  Use whatever you have sitting in your fridge!  Asparagus, broccoli, onions, you name it!  I promise you, anything that you mix with eggs and mozzarella WILL taste GOOD.

Broccoli, Potato, and Mozzarella Scrambled Eggs
(Makes 1 serving)

3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 eggs, scrambled
5 broccoli florets, washed and cut in half, lengthwise (remove any super long stems)
1 small potato, peeled, washed, and cubed
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

In a medium-sized nonstick frying pan, heat a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil at medium heat.  Check if the oil is warm enough by adding a single potato cube and checking to see if it sizzles right away.

Once at the correct temperature, add the remaining potato cubes to the oil.  Let the cubes cook for 5 minutes, flipping regularly to ensure that all sides cook evenly.  Then, add the sliced broccoli florets.  Let the potatoes and broccoli cook for another 5 minutes, once again flipping regularly.  The potatoes should appear crispy and browned, but soft on the inside.  The broccoli should develop a bright green color, but some browning from the oil is okay.

Once the vegetables are tender and ready, lower the heat to medium-low and add the scrambled eggs.  Season with salt and pepper.  For the first 2 minutes, don’t touch the mixture!  After 2 minutes have past, stir the entire mixture together.  It should be a mix of some cooked eggs, and some runny egg.  Add the mozzarella cheese.  Continue letting the egg cook completely, about another 1-2 minutes, or until the egg white is no longer translucent.  Remove from the heat, and serve immediately with a glass of cold milk!

– food on,
Sharon

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