Turmeric Springtime Smoothie

WIN_20160213_083023Turmeric contains an amazing substance called curcumin, which is widely recognized as both a powerful antioxidant and a potent anti-inflammatory agent. Finding ways to work turmeric into your diet is an all-around good idea. There’s a catch, though – in order for your body to absorb that valuable curcumin, you need to consume turmeric with either a little black pepper or a bit of fat.

Today’s recipe for a simple Turmeric Springtime Smoothie is designed to introduce turmeric to those unfamiliar with this little root, and contains ingredients designed to aid in curcumin absorption. Did I mention this Turmeric Springtime Smoothie has an awesome tropical flavor? What are you waiting for?

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WIN_20160213_083246Ingredients (Makes 1 large smoothie)

2 tablespoons freshly grated turmeric root Continue reading

Tropical Flourless Cookies

WIN_20160210_155927I’ll admit it. I was a bit skeptical of flourless baking in the past. After finding success with Grandpa John’s Flourless Chocolate Cake, I was inspired! These Tropical Flourless Cookies, packed full of flavor from very ripe bananas, flaked coconut, and chocolate, are fabulous. In fact, they’re so fabulous that you’ll never even notice the lack of flour or added refined sugar! Give ’em a whirl and let me know what you think.

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WIN_20160210_151232Ingredients (Makes 24 cookies)

3 very ripe bananas (skins should be black)

1 cup flaked coconut

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips Continue reading

Lemon Peeps Pie

WIN_20160325_113521I began today’s kitchen adventures with every intention of making a lemon meringue pie. I had a few beautiful little Meyer lemons to use up, and a ready-to-bake pie crust (no apologies) in my fridge. When I got to the part where I should have beat egg whites into meringue, I got to thinking…

It’s almost Easter…

Marshmallow is sort of like meringue…

and those little Peeps chicks are cute!

So, here we are. Lemon Peeps Pie is lemony, marshmallowy, cute, and delicious. Have a sense of humor, and have a Happy Easter!

WIN_20160325_110948Ingredients (Serves 8)

1 baked pie crust (follow directions on a refrigerated crust, or buy a pie crust from the baking aisle at the market)

1 1/3 cups sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons corn starch Continue reading

Chocolate Easter Egg Cookies

Chocolate Easter Egg Cookies

WIN_20160321_213809Springtime is perfect for festively decorated cookies, and what could be more festive than cookies decorated to resemble brightly colored Easter eggs? Today’s recipe begins with a rich, delicious sugar cookie and ends with a deceptively simple decorating technique. You won’t need buttercream frosting today, folks… we’re using something even more amazing!

WIN_20160321_152817Ingredients (Makes 24 large cookies)

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 egg Continue reading

Italian Wedding Soup

WIN_20160107_170133Teenager wanders through the kitchen grazing for cookies and skids to a halt…

“Oh! Are you making that wedding soup again? Awesome!”

Yes, here at Crowded Earth Kitchen, Italian Wedding Soup falls squarely into the “Awesome!” category. Half-Pint likes any soup made with chicken broth (“yellow soup”), and Pickle-in-the-Middle loves the little meatballs. What’s not to love about little meatballs?

Traditionally, Italian Wedding Soup also contains orzo. Feel free to add a cup or so if you like. I’m sharing this soup with a loved one who is watching their carb intake, so I left the orzo out. The soup is still delicious!

WIN_20160107_152704Ingredients (Serves 6 – 8) Continue reading

Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles

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Here’s a new spin on an old favorite, a truffle that tastes like a peanut butter cup! While some truffle recipes are a bit fussy, these Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles are super easy. You can use either creamy or chunky peanut butter, depending upon the texture you prefer. You could even substitute the peanut butter for something a little fancier, like almond butter or crème de marron. Be creative and have fun!

WIN_20160214_123938Ingredients (Makes about 36 truffles)

4 ounces semi sweet baking chocolate

1/2 cup peanut butter Continue reading

French Macarons

French Macarons

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French Macarons might be the best dessert to ever emerge from Crowded Earth Kitchen. How’s that for an endorsement to try this recipe?

A Google search for “French Macarons” will turn up… wait for it… 630,000 hits. Does the world really need 630,001? Yes. Here’s why! You see, here at Crowded Earth Kitchen, we sorted through a good long many of those 630,000 links, picking up tips and ideas along the way. The end result is Continue reading

Carrot Soup

WIN_20160124_154246This soup is very easy to prepare, super healthy, and really delicious – what more can I say? The bright orange color, subtle sweetness, and lack of anything suspiciously green means that children will devour this soup! Feel free to adjust the curry powder to suit your taste. If you are feeding a particularly reluctant veggie eater, substitute the parsley garnish for a sprinkle of brown sugar. This one is guaranteed to please!

Ingredients

2 quarts stock (vegetable stock and chicken stock work equally well)

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

3 pounds of carrots, washed and cut into 1 inch chunks

15 ounce can of coconut milk

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons curry powder (sweet or hot, whichever you prefer)

parsley to garnish

WIN_20160124_145222Directions

Step 1) Bring stock, garlic, onion, and carrots to a boil in a large pot. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer gently until carrots are very soft, approximately 30 minutes.

Step 2) Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Puree carrot mixture with an immersion blender.

Step 3) Stir in coconut milk, black pepper, and curry powder. Adjust seasonings to suit your taste. Garnish and serve warm. Enjoy your carrot soup!

Enchilada Lasagna

WIN_20160115_201401Is it an enchilada, or is it a lasagna? A bit of both, I suppose. Here’s the dilemma… traditional corn tortillas are delicious, and are nutritionally superior to American-style flour tortillas. The problem is, traditional corn tortillas aren’t quite as pliable, and have a tendency to break into a crumbly mess when you try to roll them up! One easy solution is to simply leave them flat.

This recipe takes advantage of the flavor combinations found in Mexican enchiladas, but with an ease of assembly mimicking an Italian lasagna. I baked this dish in four, individual serving baking dishes to freeze for workday lunches. If you’d prefer to make a single, 9×13 inch rectangular pan, just double the recipe!

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WIN_20160115_190708Ingredients (Serves 4)

1/2 pound lean ground beef

1 cup whole kernel corn

1/2 cup diced bell peppers

1/4 cup diced onion

1 cup enchilada sauce, divided

1 cup refried beans

1 cup diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

8 corn tortillas (6 inch diameter)

WIN_20160115_192208Directions

Step 1) Brown ground beef in a skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently. Drain well.

Step 2) Add corn, peppers, onion, and half of the enchilada sauce to the ground beef. Stir to combine.

Step 3) In a separate bowl, blend together the refried beans and diced tomatoes.

Step 4) Layer 1 corn tortilla in the bottom of each greased, oven-safe lunch container (trim tortilla if needed). Spread a thin layer of refried bean mixture over the tortilla, followed by a layer of the ground beef mixture, and a sprinkle of cheese. REPEAT the layers a second time.

Step 5) Top each Enchilada Lasagna with remaining enchilada sauce and cheese. Bake, uncovered, in a preheated 350 degree oven until cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown. Enjoy warm. If freezing to enjoy in the future, allow to cool completely before wrapping airtight and freezing. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and enjoy within 1 month for best flavor.

Spiced Lemon Blueberry Bread

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Not too sweet, Spiced Lemon Blueberry Bread is lovely enjoyed with fresh butter over afternoon tea. This recipe makes excellent use of preserved lemons (a link to that recipe is provided below). If you don’t have preserved lemons, you can mimic the flavor in this recipe by substituting 1 tablespoon lemon juice + 1 teaspoon lemon zest + 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.

Ingredients (Makes 1 loaf)

2 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 eggs, beaten

3/4 cup skim milk

1/4 cup applesauce

3/4 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

2 tablespoons preserved lemons, rinsed and finely diced

WIN_20160124_133922Directions

Step 1) Grease loaf pan well and coat with flour.  Set aside.

Step 2) Combine all dry ingredients and mix well.

Step 3) Combine egg, milk, and applesauce in a separate bowl and mix well.

Step 4) Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until moistened.  Don’t get carried away… it’s OK if the batter is a little bit lumpy!

Step 5) Gently fold in blueberries.  Save a dozen blueberries for the next step.

Step 6) Transfer batter to loaf pan. Sprinkle top with a bit of sugar and a few extra blueberries if desired.

Step 7) Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center of the loaf comes out clean.  Cool and enjoy!

Peach Mustard Baked Chicken

WIN_20160118_204716Chicken thighs are my favorite for baking and roasting. They are juicier (and less expensive!) than chicken breasts, meatier than wings, and contain a more favorable mix of white and dark meat than drumsticks. The uniform size and thickness of chicken thighs means they are easy to arrange in a baking pan and cook evenly every time. This Peach Mustard Baked Chicken recipe offers a simple preparation for chicken thighs. We’re combining the classic flavor of honey mustard with the bright sweetness of peaches to make a marinading paste. If fresh peaches are out of season, no worries. Frozen peach slices will work just fine!

Ingredients (Feeds a crowd!)

5 pounds chicken thighs (10 – 12 chicken thighs)

1 cup peach slices (fresh or frozen)

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons brown mustard

freshly ground black pepper

Additional peach slices to garnish

WIN_20160118_173742Directions

Step 1) Thaw peach slices if frozen. Puree honey and mustard with 1 cup peach slices until a smooth paste forms.

Step 2) Arrange chicken thighs on a baking sheet with shallow sides. Using a very sharp knife, score the skin on the top of each chicken thigh in one or two places.

3-Piece Baking Sheet Set

Step 3) Rub the peach mustard paste onto each chicken thigh.

Step 4) Bake chicken thighs, uncovered, in a preheated 350 degree oven for approximately 40 minutes. Check the temperature of a chicken thigh with a meat thermometer. When the internal temperature (not against a bone!) reaches 165 degrees F, your Peach Mustard Baked Chicken is ready to enjoy! Garnish with additional peach slices just before bringing your chicken to the table.

I recommend serving this with fresh baked cornbread and a green salad. Delicious!

 

Chocolate Kiss Date Cake

WIN_20160109_090746This recipe is a variation on the chocolate date chip cake that my Great Grandmother Helen used to make. It’s a chocolate cake so delicious, it doesn’t need frosting… seriously. The dates simply “disappear” in the cake, adding sweetness and preventing the cake from drying out, but otherwise are a secret ingredient. The Hershey’s Kisses sink down into the center of the cake, providing surprise bites of chocolate in each slice. I recommend Chocolate Kiss Date Cake as a fun variation on classic chocolate cake for dessert, and also as a decadent coffee cake for Sunday brunch. Enjoy!

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Ingredients (Makes a 10 inch round cake)

1 cup chopped dates

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup boiling water

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/3 cup flour

3 tablespoons cocoa

1/4 teaspoon salt

16 Hershey’s Kisses

WIN_20160108_205429Directions

Step 1) In a small bowl, combine dates and baking soda. Pour boiling water over the top and allow to sit until cool. The dates will mostly dissolve – this is normal.

Step 2) In a separate bowl, cream together butter and 1 cup of sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla; mix well.

Step 3) Combine flour, cocoa, and salt. Add dry ingredients and date mixture, alternating a little at a time, to the butter mixture. Stir until well combined.

Step 4) Grease a 10 inch round Springform pan (a cheesecake pan), or a 9 inch square baking pan. Dust the greased pan lightly with flour. Transfer batter to the greased and floured pan.

10 inch Springform Pan

WIN_20160108_210238Step 5) Arrange the Hershey’s Kisses evenly on the top of the cake. Don’t press down; just set them lightly on top. [As the cake bakes, the Hershey’s Kisses will sink into the middle of the cake.] Sprinkle the top of the cake with 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Step 6) Bake your Chocolate Kiss Date Cake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 55 – 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Step 7) Sprinkle the baked cake with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar. Allow to cool completely before slicing and serving.

Easy Pineapple Chicken

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As the name implies, this recipe is incredibly easy to prepare. The simple marinade imparts a subtle, sweet flavor to the chicken that pairs well with just about any side dish. Children in particular seem to love Easy Pineapple Chicken!

WIN_20151116_173027Ingredients (Serves 4 – 6)

1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces

1 cup pineapple chunks

1 cup pineapple juice

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 cloves of garlic, minced

Freshly ground black pepper

WIN_20151116_173355Directions

Step 1) Place chicken in a 9″ x 13″ baking pan, so that chicken pieces close together.

Baking Pan with Cover

Step 2) Combine pineapple juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, and minced garlic to make a simple marinade. Pour marinate over chicken, cover with foil, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Step 3) Remove chicken from refrigerator sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Arrange pineapple chunks evenly on top of chicken.

Step 4) Bake Pineapple Chicken in a preheated, 350 degree oven for 1 hour, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the meat (but not against a bone!) reads 165 degrees. Enjoy!