Healthier Banana Pumpkin Bread

Just because fall is over doesn’t mean we have to stop with the pumpkin goodies. I like to have a slice of this with yogurt or as a mid morning snack with some cinnamon and peanut butter. This also keeps with any new year goals to eat healthier or eat whole foods.

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This bread is super moist and nice and thick. You just need one bowl and a whisk to make the batter. Love simple recipes like this. I have also subbed the 2 cups whole wheat flour using half ground flax and also I did 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup ground flax and 1/2 cup oats. Feel free to experiment.

Healthier Banana Pumpkin Bread, serves 12 slices

Ingredients
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (about 2-3)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (14 oz.) can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin spice
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Mash the bananas in a large bowl.
  3. Add eggs and whisk to combine. Add in pumpkin, honey, vanilla and coconut oil and whisk to combine.
  4. Add in flour, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt together. Stir dry and wet ingredients until just mixed.
  5. Pour into a greased bread pan and bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

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Sliced up and ready for peanut butter, honey or yogurt.

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Simple and satisfying. Enjoy!

Posted in Baking, Breakfast, Dessert, Healthy Living | Leave a comment

Hazen Chili

This is the perfect time of year for chili. For one, it can be made spicy and served warm to keep YOU warm, two, it makes your house smell wonderful and cozy when you are making it and three, there are A LOT of leftovers with this recipe so you can reheat them on those nights where it is simply too miserably cold to do anything, including cook. AKA, just like this week. I mean -30 to -40 windchills? C’mon man!!

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I call this Hazen Chili because I mean really, there are SO MANY chili recipes. I winged this one on a weekend and wrote everything down so if it turned out, I could make it again – so, Hazen chili. And guess what, I really liked it. Spicy, but not TOO spicy. A bit of sweet and totally comforting.

Hazen Chili, serves a boatload

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. of ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced (any colors would work)
  • 1 cup of carrots, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • (1) 28-ounce can of crushed or stewed tomatoes
  • (1) 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes OR RoTel
  • (1) 15.25 oz. can of corn (or use frozen)
  • (1) 15-ounce can of tomato sauce
  • (1) 15-ounce can of chili beans
  • 1-2 chipotle peppers with sauce, depending on how hot you want to go
Spices
  • 3 Tbsp. (heaping) of chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp. of dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp. of dried herbs de provence
  • 2 tsp. (heaping) of cumin
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. of cayenne powder
Garnish (optional but highly recommended!)
  • Cheese, sour cream, green onion, pickled jalapeno, bacon and/or avocado

Instructions

  1. Sauté ground beef in large soup pot until just cooked. Drain grease in colandar. Return pot to head and saute onion, garlic, peppers, carrot and jalapeno for about 5-7 minutes until they get some color. Add beef back to pot.
  2. Add in all tomatoes, corn, beans and chipotle peppers to pot. Stir to combine.
  3. Add in all spices and stir to combine.
  4. Bring to a boil and stir. Turn to low, cover and simmer on LOW heat for 3-4 hours.
  5. Spoon into individual bowls. Garnish if needed.
  6. Enjoy!

Notes

Cut back on chili powder, cayenne spice, chipotle pepper and jalapeno if you don’t care for spice. You could do step 1 and then add everything to a crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours if you prefer.

Leftovers freeze and reheat well.

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Perfect for a cold, winter evening!

Posted in Dinner, Dinner idea, Main Dish, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Two fitness changes to make in 2017

Now is generally the time of the year where many people are thinking of resolutions or making changes with the start of the New Year. I am going on almost four years of having personally changed my life. Obviously, we all make changes throughout our lives but this was the big one for me where I really changed how I ate and my fitness levels. I thought I’d share here what worked for me in two simple steps in hopes that it gives you some ideas AND to remind myself how to make changes. I still have several things I’d like to change and I’m saying this stuff to myself as much as sharing it with anyone that needs to hear some unsolicited advice. You don’t need a new year to make a change, it can happen any day of the week, any month, and any year.

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Find your fitness passion. This was twofold for me. Many (10?) years ago, I started going to the gym and doing some light cardio and light weights with the help of a trainer. I had biked and walked on my own to lose some weight and wanted to step it up. This trainer helped me and I also got the guts to join a few fitness classes at the gym. I fell in love with and have been spinning ever since. I managed to lose quite a bit of weight and thought I was probably the lowest my body wanted to be. (Haha, the lies we tell ourselves.) Then in a nutshell, I got married, moved, quit the gym and weight crept back up. I have yo-yoed in my weight since high school. I joined the gym in a nearby town that had classes and kept spinning. Around this time, I also checked out a few Beachbody programs (no, I DO NOT sell Beachbody) and really liked Shaun T and his enthusiasm and “realness”. I started doing the T25 program and fell in love. I followed the eating guidelines and did everything he suggested. This REALLY jump started my weight loss and helped me get to my lowest weight since probably junior high. (I have since put on some of that weight but that is a work in progress…) I FELT amazing. The combo of spinning, biking, running and doing body weight exercises made me feel so wonderful. I’m not saying you have to do any of these exercises, but you need to find something that “clicks” for you and makes you want to keep working out. I was sore in a good way and so satisfied at seeing small changes, whether that be clothes fitting better or doing exercise moves I previously could not complete. Why do you think there are so many fitness classes, DVDs or ways to stay active? Because people like different things and that is OK! Now my day really isn’t complete unless I work out because I found a mix that I love.

Make small changes in the way you eat. If you think you are going to quit eating fast food, only eat salads and never eat processed foods, you are probably wrong and likely you are setting yourself up for failure. There are many ways to make small changes that will add up in big ways. Try eating a healthy breakfast if you currently don’t eat breakfast at all. Try adding spinach to your iceberg salads. Try giving up your chips and dip for hummus and fresh veggies. You will find your tastes buds and preferences will change over time. Personally, I had a hard time having chips in my house. I really cannot stop at just one, unless you mean one bag. No joke. For a while, we just did not have chips in our house. Same with peanut butter. I forced myself to explore other options. Now, I have both of these items in my cupboard. I can’t remember the last time I binged on peanut butter – I can now control my servings. Try to eat as many “real” foods as possible like veggies and fruit. I know winter is horrible for produce in ND, but you can find some good frozen options. Start adding them little by little to your foods. You truly cannot out exercise a bad diet. I struggle with my eating the worst. I love to workout and find that easy. But I really pick at food throughout the day and that adds up big time.

I’m sharing a few of my before and during photos. I just want people to know that I struggle and I think I will for quite a while, maybe forever. I have maintained my weight for the past 3-4 years but I still have horrible, awful, no-good days where I feel fat, I cry, I hate myself. Honestly. I definitely do not have things figured out. BUT, the will to not go back to where I was, ultimately wins out. You see above I mention that I have gained some weight from my all-time adult low. It’s true and it’s a bit easier to “hide” on my frame since I’m tall (5’11”). My clothes all still fit but not really the way I want them to. I am “putting this out in the universe” that I want to lose those few pounds. I have said it for months (my poor husband has heard it a thousand times I’m sure), but I’m not really changing anything when I know what to do. I still want to “live” and have fun but I need to take steps to get back to my healthiest, best feeling self. I know it is too easy to let the unhealthy habits spiral out of control.

I have done it before and I can do it again! There’s no better time than now. (Let it be known that these two BEFORE photos are my most hated but it really helps to take progress photos of yourself – you don’t have to share them with anyone.)

Finally, I know there are some people who HATE the new year resolutioners who inundate the gym. Some don’t know how the equipment works or don’t possess proper gym etiquette. Instead of rolling your eyes at them and counting down the days until they drop their membership, why don’t you say hello and offer them a smile? Maybe one out of thirty new gym goers will stick it out and make a change?? But what if that one stayed because you said hello and offered a friendly face to see? I’d much rather be the person smiling than rolling my eyes at someone who already is nervous joining a gym. Fitness for everyone – we all start somewhere. So don’t think just because a person looks fit or in shape that they don’t have struggles or areas they want to improve. We are in this together to be the best versions of ourselves. May 2017 be your healthiest and fittest year yet. I am hoping so for myself.

Posted in Exercise, Feisty Eats, FeistyLife, Healthy Living, Informational | 1 Comment

Snickerdoodle Bars

If you still need a sweet treat to take for Christmas, I have just the recipe for you. This is easy to bake, simple ingredients and over the top delicious. This bars have almost a fudgy interior, a crackly sugared top, can be made in one bowl with no mixer, no room temperature butter is required and you could even double the recipe to make TWO 9×9 pans if you have a large party you are attending. Oh, and the dough is insanely delicious. I bake for the dough – the finished product is delicious but mmmm, dough!! I’ll take my chances with the raw egg.

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I baked these earlier in the month when we had a garage full of guys making venison sausage, bacon, jerky, etc. One of the guys mentioned he isn’t a huge sweets fan but he couldn’t stop eating these. That’s when you know a recipe is good. Needless to say, there weren’t any left after sausage making was over.

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I cut these up into smaller bars, but you could leave larger if you’d like.

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What is your favorite bar? Are you an edge person or middle? I’m middle all the way but wouldn’t pass an edge piece on these bars either.

Snickerdoodle Bars via What’s Gaby Cooking (I love her recipes)

INGREDIENTS

    • 1 cup butter, melted
    • 2 cups brown sugar
    • 4 teaspoons vanilla xxtract
    • 2 large eggs
    • 2 cups all purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • ¼ teaspoon of baking soda
Topping
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the melted butter and brown sugar and mix with a wooden spoon until combined. Add the vanilla and eggs and mix until fully incorporated.
  3. Add the dry ingredients into the bowl, flour, baking powder, cinnamon and baking soda and mix until just combined. The batter will be a bit stiff, but that’s normal.
  4. Spray a 9×9 baking pan with baking spray and line it with parchment paper. Spoon the batter into the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle the cinnamon sugar on top and transfer it into the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Once the bars have baked, remove them from the oven and let cool for at least 2 hours before cutting and serving.

Refrigerate and cover. Use metal baking pan, if glass, bake at 325.

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Enjoy and have a Merry, Merry Christmas this weekend!

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BBQ Chicken Quinoa Casserole

Easy weeknight dinners are something we are all looking for. Even better when they are packed full of flavor and good for you foods. I have just the dish for you. With a little beforehand prep work, this comes together in minutes. This is another great recipe where you likely have all the ingredients in your pantry.

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I had to take the photos in the dark but you get the idea. This is a keeper recipe for sure. Our local grocery store recently had a little makeover and they had some of the bulk items on clearance, including tri color quinoa so I have a bunch to use up that I snatched at a VERY reasonable price.

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BBQ Chicken Quinoa Casserole – serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa (or brown rice)
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked and shredded chicken (can use rotisserie to save time)
  • 3/4 cup shredded Mexican cheese
  • 1/2 cup plain light sour cream
  • 1/3 cup + 2 tbsp. preferred BBQ sauce
  • 1 (14 oz.) corn, drained
  • 1 (14 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • Dash of red pepper flakes (to taste)

Toppings

  1. diced cilantro, fresh tomatoes and green onion
  2. additional bbq sauce
  3. additional sour cream

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a large bowl combine quinoa, corn, black beans, sour cream, 1/3 cup bbq sauce, 1/2 cup of shredded cheese, half the green onions, garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper.
  3. Toss the cooked chicken with 1-2 tbsp bbq sauce and set aside.
  4. Lightly grease a casserole dish. Spread half of the quinoa mixture into the bottom of the dish. Evenly distribute half of the shredded bbq chicken over the top. Distribute the rest of the quinoa mixture over the top of it, and then cover it with the remaining bbq chicken. Sprinkle remaining cheese and green onions over the top.
  5. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes (or until cheese is melted and bubbly). Remove foil and bake another 5-10 minutes until cheese starts to brown.

Before (I actually put this together in the a.m. so I could pop it in the oven after work, shoveling, walking the dog, etc.)  and after.

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I topped my plate with just a drizzle more of BBQ sauce and fresh green onion. I loved this dish and have already made it a few more times. You get bites of sweet from the corn and BBQ sauce, creamy from the sour cream and cheese and then a kick of spice here and there if you use red pepper flakes. Enjoy!

Posted in Dinner, Dinner idea, Healthy Living, Main Dish | Leave a comment

Fall Wine Tasting, 2016

Thursday, November 17 was the annual Fall Wine Tasting held at Hazen Golf Club and put on by Krause’s Market and the Hazen Bottle Shop. This fun event is held for only $5 to the 21+ public! We are invited to try wines to get some ideas for holiday wine pairings and also try appetizers and cheeses that pair with the wine that will be available for the public to buy at Krause’s Market.

For as long as we have lived in Hazen and knew about this event, we have been attending. I think this was our 4th year. I’m not a huge wine lover but I am beginning to appreciate it more and more. For me, this is a very fun night to dress up, head out with my honey and see a ton of people in town. So much fun and the night FLIES by. I was sure to snap a few pics as soon as we arrived at 6 p.m. but shortly after, I gave up as I was too busy socializing and the golf course was too full of people. As usual, I can’t wait for the next event. The Krause’s crew does such a fabulous job every year. They have had quite a few new employees at the market and they did a bang up job. Wonderful!

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I think they usually have this Cranberry Pepper Jelly Dip or a similar version and it is always one of my favorites! And so simple to make.

Another one of my faves would be baked brie with anything. Here it is served with caramel and also some 5 Minute Million Dollar Dip and below left is Krause’s smoked sausage bites with some cheese and cranberry sauce on a cracker.

The bakery at Krause’s is great – pumpkin spice bites, a cute little snowman cupcake design, FUDGE and below we have caprese skewers, cucumbers with cheese and philly cheese steak dip. Honestly, something for everyone and this was just the TIP of the food! I loved tasting all the cheeses they had with the wines.

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After all of that wine, we obviously needed a beer or two so headed over to our favorite watering hole, LongShots, for a drink or two. Love these ladies and loved the whole evening. Let’s do it again!

Posted in Feisty Eats, FeistyLife, Misc, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ham and Cheese Pasta

Ham and Cheese Pasta is such a simple name – how about Schinkennudeln? Well, that is just the German name for this dish which generally consists of noodles, ham, cheese and sometimes cream or egg. I got this meal idea from What’s Gaby Cooking, I love her website and her Snapchat is my favorite. Most Friday’s you can find her on Snap cooking a meal from her website. She seems fun!

This meal was appealing to me as I made it in one pot, had simple ingredients and seemed like a perfect, hearty, winter meal. I made a huge batch of this and froze leftovers for some upcoming lunches.

If you are like those of us currently in central ND and mostly snowed in under a blizzard, you probably will find you have the ingredients on hand to make this tonight!

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Ham and Cheese Pasta via What’s Gaby Cooking, slightly altered

INGREDIENTS

  • 3-4 cups (dry) pasta of your choice (I used whole grain rotini)
  • 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water (reserved from cooking the pasta)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced (I used a red onion)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups (about 9 oz.) diced ham
  • 12 oz. bag of frozen veggies (I used a mix of peas, corn and green beans)
  • ½ cup (heaping) grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup (heaping) grated Colby jack cheese
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, red pepper flakes (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup of the pasta cooking water.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in the same pot on medium heat until warm. Add the onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes until fragrant. Add the chopped garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Stir in the cubed ham and the frozen veggies and toss to combine.
  3. Add in the reserved pasta cooking water and then the pasta and 2 varieties of cheese. Season with salt and pepper, red pepper and lemon juice or zest. Toss to combine and serve as needed.
  4. You can let it cool and portion into servings to freeze for future meals.
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If you are vegetarian, I think this would be great without ham and even more veggies. Enjoy!

Posted in Dinner, Dinner idea, Main Dish, Veggie | Leave a comment