Dragonfly Home Recipes

Recipes, Photography, Musings

Month: March 2016 (page 1 of 2)

Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Bites

These little cookies hit the spot if you are looking for something sweet, yet full of protein and nutrition.  Peanut butter and oats give the cookies lots of nutrients, taste, and texture, and they are easy to eat as a satisfying snack or dessert.  These peanut butter-oatmeal bites are going so quickly around here, next time I make them I’m going to double the recipe!

peanut butter cookies 3-5With my kids’ spring sports schedules starting, I am once again looking for snacks that taste good, can be eaten quickly, and that also have nutrients to give my active kids good energy.  I am very happy with this recipe, which I adapted from one in my Dr. Cookie Cookbook by Marvin Wayne and Stephen Yarnall.  There’s just enough sweetness from the brown sugar to make the cookies taste like a treat, but enough substance to make them more than just sweet.  If you are looking for an easy, protein-rich cookie, this is a great recipe to try.

peanut butter cookies 2-1It is the very last day of March today, and I must say I am really looking forward to April!  Although it’s still chilly here, it’s such a great time to be outside, with the fresh wind, green grass, and trees and bushes budding.  The spring peepers have been peeping really loudly at night, and I love to sleep with the window cracked open so I can listen to those frogs all night long.  There is a feeling of new life and excitement in the air–I can sense it just from watching the birds in the sky.

Yesterday evening, I picked our first herb of the season–chives to chop and put on top of our macaroni and cheese.  I had forgotten how convenient and fresh it is to walk outside and snip some herbs to add to our dinner.  Soon there will be more and more things growing and blossoming, and more and more recipes to make!  In the meantime, these little peanut butter-oatmeal bites are tiding me over very nicely.

I hope you all have a great weekend! I’m going to take a plate of these cookies over to Angie’s Fiesta Friday #113, co-hosted by two bloggers whose blogs I really admire:  Sonal @ Simplyvegetarian777 and Laurie @ ten.times.tea.peanut butter cookie doughpeanut butter cookies 3-9

Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Bites

  • Servings: about 24 cookies, depending on size
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Ingredients:

  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup of packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup of natural peanut butter, creamy or crunchy
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large mixing bowl, vigorously stir the egg, brown sugar, butter, peanut butter, and vanilla until well combined.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, oats, and baking soda.  Add the dry ingredients to to wet ingredients, and stir until well combined.

Drop the batter by rounded teaspoonfuls onto a baking sheet, about 12 cookies per baking sheet.  Bake in your 350-degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until cookies are golden.  Cool the cookies on a wire rack.  Repeat until all the cookies are baked. Enjoy!

This recipe is adapted from the Dr. Cookie Cookbook by Marvin A. Wayne and Stephen R. Yarnall.

 

Classic Blueberry Muffins

With just a few basic ingredients, these blueberry muffins come together quickly and easily, offering that classic blueberry muffin taste that is so comforting and sweet, with a hint of  zing from some lemon zest.  This recipe works with fresh or frozen blueberries, so you can make these crowd-pleasing treats at any time of the year.  Plus your kitchen will smell amazing as they are baking!

Last weekend, we had a cherished (and rare, these days) lazy Saturday morning, and I asked the kids if they wanted blueberry muffins for breakfast, since we had some blueberries in the freezer.  Yes, they definitely wanted them. “But,” said my daughter, “can you not make them too healthy this time?”  Oh…by healthy, I guess she was referring to the wholesome blueberry muffins I sometimes make, which are really tasty, but are more crunchy, (probably more nutrient-rich), and less like cake.

Well, it’s all about balance in life, so I indulged her and made these yummy, fluffy, and classically delicious blueberry muffins.  And yet they are not really unhealthy, much healthier than some muffins, in that they are homemade, with high quality ingredients, including fruit, and no preservatives.  And we enjoyed every last one of them!  If you are looking for a basic, simple, reliable, and delicious recipe for blueberry muffins, this is a great one.  Even better when you can enjoy them warm, right out of the oven, in a warm, cozy room or on a sunny porch.

classic blueberry muffins on plate 2The recipe I use for these muffins is based on one from my well-loved Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, Tenth Edition, that I have had for many years. The only thing I change when I make these, is that I use melted butter instead of cooking oil, because I really like the flavor of butter from grass-fed cows.  Frozen blueberries work great, when fresh ones aren’t available.  And the lemon zest adds a great blast of flavor, which we really appreciate.  If you don’t like lemon, you can certainly leave that part out.

We are getting closer and closer to feeling like spring here.  The temperatures have been warm and cold, changing almost daily, but those warm days feel so good.  And the colors outside are starting to brighten. The sunlight is more vivid, the grass is starting to turn a fresh, bright green, and the daffodils are starting to bloom.  I hope you are all having a great week!
classic blueberry muffins on porch 4classic blueberry muffins in tinclassic blueberry muffins 5

Classic Blueberry Muffins

  • Servings: 12 muffins
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Ingredients:

  • 1 and 3/4 cups of all-purpose, unbleached flour
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cup of milk
  • 1/4 cup of unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup of blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 teaspoon of finely grated lemon peel (lemon zest), optional

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly grease a muffin tin, or line with paper baking cups.

Heat the butter in a small pan on the stove until just melted.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Make a well in the center of the bowl.  In a medium bowl, combine the egg, milk, and melted butter. Pour the wet ingredient mixture all at once into the well in the center of the dry mixture bowl.  Stir until all the ingredients are just combined.  The batter will be a little lumpy.  Fold in the blueberries and lemon zest, and stir gently until just combined.  Spoon the batter evenly into the 12 muffin cups.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the muffins are golden.  Remove the muffins from the tin to cool.  Serve warm. Enjoy!

This recipe is adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, Tenth Edition.

 

 

Mineral-Rich Salad

Treat your body to an infusion of nutrients.  This quick salad is rich in vitamins and minerals, with dark leafy greens, dried apricots, walnuts, and roasted pumpkin seeds, topped off with a homemade orange zest vinaigrette.  The recipe for this salad is so simple, it’s not as much of a recipe as it is a remembrance of how easy it can be to make a really good salad that’s really good for us.  Sometimes all we need is a  nudge in a certain direction, or a simple reminder, and we have a really delicious salad in front of us that came mostly from foods we have in our own pantry.

mineral salad day 3 4If you live in a northern climate like I do, spring takes her sweet time to truly settle in, and winter does not give up without a few fights.  We are in such a situation right now, where it is cold, gray, and wet.  The only indication that it really is springtime is that the birds are singing loudly and beautifully, and the crocuses are proudly carrying on, despite the cold rain.  And I am really grateful for that!  However, during this time of year, I often feel depleted of energy and nutrients. The longing for spring and all that it brings is strong, yet we are not quite there yet.

DSC_0612So to remedy the situation, I have been eating this salad for lunch for the past few days, and it is really helping my energy level and my overall feeling of health.  Even if greens are not growing in my own garden yet, they are growing somewhere nearby, and fresh greens are appearing at the grocery store more and more as this month progresses.  And mandarin oranges have been on sale at the grocery store lately, so the orange zest salad dressing seemed like a good idea.  There are so many nutrients in leafy greens and they are so well known, that I don’t feel the need to list them all. The rest of the salad is from staples I like to keep on hand, and though I sometimes take them for granted, these ingredients are full of really good stuff.  Dried apricots are known for their potassium and iron content, walnuts for their omega 3s and vitamin E, and roasted pumpkin seeds for their zinc, manganese, and magnesium.  And that’s just mentioning a few of the minerals found in these foods.

mineral salad with pitcherFor me, it can be easy to get sidetracked and just graze on some pretzels and cheese for lunch, so eating this salad has been a boost to my nutrient intake, which helps my energy level and outlook on life.  The recipe below is for two servings–feel free to double it or whatever, depending on how many you are making.  And just a note–in my photos, the dried apricots look like bacon! (Not that bacon would be bad in this salad–it would probably taste really good!) They are actually organic dried apricots, so they aren’t the bright orange that some of the dried apricots are when they have preservatives to retain their color.

With the events going on in the world the past few days, we need all the energy and nutrients we can get to keep a hopeful attitude.  I usually don’t like to talk about politics or world affairs much in this blog, and I don’t want to say much, except that I am saddened by the events and words that are tearing people apart lately, and I hope that we can each do our small part to help try to put love and healing toward the hatred.  There is no easy answer, and I don’t pretend that there is, nor do I pretend to know the answer. I do know that I want to take care of the people I love, and if we all try to take care of one another, it will help.  Food is a way for me to do that.

On a much lighter note, even if the weather doesn’t feel like spring today, I did see 6 mallard ducks waddling down our road this morning.  I’m not sure where they were going, but I hope they got there safely.  And if you celebrate Easter, I hope you have a wonderful Easter weekend! If you don’t, I hope you have a wonderful weekend! I managed to get some photos of the crocuses when it was sunny a few days ago, and they look to me like rays of hope.striped crocuspurple crocuses

Mineral-Rich Salad

  • Servings: 2
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Ingredients:

For the salad:

  • a large handful of leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, or lettuces
  • a handful of dried apricots, chopped
  • a handful of walnuts, chopped
  • a handful of roasted pumpkin seeds
  • feta cheese, crumbled (optional)

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 teaspoon of orange zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of honey
  • 6 teaspoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

For the dressing, first grate an orange peel for the orange zest (and eat the orange!).  In a glass jar, combine the orange zest, mustard, wine vinegar, and honey.  Add the olive oil, and shake or whisk till combined.  Add the salt and pepper to taste.

For the salad, arrange the greens on two plates.  Sprinkle on the desired amount of chopped apricots, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds.  Sprinkle on some feta cheese, if desired.  Pour the dressing over the salads.  If you like a lot of dressing on your salad, you may want to double the dressing recipe.  Enjoy!

Date and Walnut Loaf

This sweet, moist bread tastes great with a cup of coffee or tea.  With chopped dates and walnuts, lemon zest, and black tea as ingredients,  it has a uniquely rich flavor. It’s the kind of sweet bread that makes me want to slow down, sit in a sunny spot, and and enjoy a few moments of peace.  Dates are so old-fashioned, yet so in style again, as we are looking to get away from processed sweeteners and get back to more natural sweeteners.  Plus, they are loaded with nutrients, such as potassium and iron.  Walnuts have their own nutritional benefits too, so this bread is both rich in flavor and dense in nutrients.

DSC_0534-001Since it is St. Patrick’s Day, I thought it would be a fitting day to share this recipe, since I found it in one of my latest cookbook obsessions–“The Irish Kitchen: 150 Recipes for Everyday Cooking from the Emerald Isle”, published by Love Food.  This type of bread is not solely Irish (it seems to have been popular in England and Scotland as well), but in any case, the recipe I share below is from an Irish cookbook.  I love the part where the recipe calls for soaking the dates and lemon zest in tea, and then adding that mixture to the batter.  The tea makes the bread such a pretty color, and gives a subtle flavor that helps balance the sweetness.

date bread in handsWe are lucky to have such bright, breezy St. Patrick’s Day this year.  I can remember some St. Patrick’s Day snowstorms, so I am happy to see the bright sunlight today!  For some reason, this bread really touched me this week.  My husband, daughter, and I loved it, (my son, not so much….) and for some reason it’s the kind of bread that made us slow down when we ate it.  It’s meant for a snack or a tea/coffee break, and it is the kind of thing that encourages contemplation and conversation, as least for me.  walnuts dates lemonMaybe because it feels old-fashioned and has the essence of a slower-paced time.  Maybe because it’s so richly flavored that we had to savor it slowly.  Or maybe it’s just that it’s been sunny the past few days, and the novelty of being in the sun has lulled us into a state of contentment.  In any case, this bread is sweet. It also tastes just as good the next day (if it lasts that long).  I hope you all have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day and a great weekend! Now it’s time to join the party at Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Naina @ Spice in the City and Julianna @ Foodie On Board.date bread with teapot 1crocus and rockdate bread in hand on porchdate bread in sun 2date bread loafdate bread on bench18

Date and Walnut Loaf

  • Servings: 1 loaf
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Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • zest of 1/2 lemon, finely grated
  • 1/2 cup of hot tea
  • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus a little more for greasing the pan
  •  1/3 cup of brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/4 cup of walnuts, chopped
  • walnut halves to decorate

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly grease an 8 and 1/2  X  4 and 1/2  X  2 and 1/2-inch loaf pan, and then line it with parchment paper.

Place the chopped dates, baking soda, and lemon zest in a bowl, and pour in the hot tea.  Let soak for 10 minutes, until softened.

In the meantime, cream the butter and sugar together until  the mixture is light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg.

In a small bowl, combine the flour and baking powder.

When the dates are done soaking, add that mixture to the butter mixture and stir well to combine.  Add the flour mixture, and fold in, gently combining.  Fold in the chopped walnuts and gently combine again.

Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan.  Smooth the surface and place the walnut halves on top to decorate.

Bake in your 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until risen, golden brown, and firm. Let the bread cool in the loaf pan for 10 minutes, then turn it onto a wire rack to cool completely.  Slice it and enjoy!

This recipe is adapted from The Irish Kitchen: 150 Recipes for Everyday Cooking from the Emerald Isle

Colorful Vegetable Chili

This chili is as pleasing to the taste buds as it is to the eyes.  Sweet potatoes, black beans, tomatoes, corn, lime juice and cilantro give each spoonful vibrant color, flavor, and nutrition.  Serve it with some tortilla chips, sliced avocado, and shredded cheese, and you have a festive, healthy meal.

In a previous post, I mentioned a cookbook my husband somewhat recently bought, called Thrive Energy Cookbook, by Brendan Brazier.  This chili recipe I am sharing below is based on a recipe in that book, though I did change and substitute a few things.  The flavor of the this chili is absolutely rich and warm-tasting, with a subtle zing from the lime juice.  My son, who normally won’t go near a sweet potato, even likes it, and my husband loves it.  All the vegetables blend together beautifully.

colorful chili 1 It really is a good meal to have right now, in early March, when we are longing for color, but our gardens have not caught up to that longing yet.  And though our snow has all melted and it has warmed up some, it is still cold and damp enough outside to appreciate a nice warm bowl of chili.

chopped sweet potatoesSpeaking of gardens and color, I did see some crocus and daffodil shoots poking up just above the soil in our yard yesterday.  Spring is coming, though here in Michigan I’m sure we have some cold days ahead of us before spring really settles in.

Until then, there is the fresh wind, the brighter sun, the earthy smell of the wet ground as it prepares itself for new growth.  I saw some red-winged blackbirds the other day–one of the first signs that spring is coming.  Soon we’ll be looking for fresh greens and asparagus!

daffodil shootsFor now, it is the perfect time to tromp around in my favorite boots through mud and wet undergrowth, cleaning up the yard or hiking down to the lake. My friend and I came across these beautiful milkweed pods on a walk the other day.milkweed pods

If you are longing for spring, but still shivering in the evenings, this chili has just the right amount of warmth and bright color to cheer you up and nourish your body for challenges ahead.  I hope you all have a great weekend!  There is a Fiesta Friday going on at Angie’s blog, co-hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Aspara @ Eating Well Diary.  If you are looking for food inspiration or to find great blogs, it’s a great place! I’m looking forward to checking it out!cilantro and lime 3colorful chili with cilantro

Colorful Vegetable Chili

  • Servings: 5-7
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Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil or coconut oil
  • 1 cup of sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of chili powder (more if desired)
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cumin (more if desired)
  • 3 cups of tomatoes (fresh, or if canned, I like the San Marzano kind), quartered
  • 2 cups of corn (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 cans (14 oz cans) of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup of lime juice (about 2 to 3 limes’ worth)
  • 1 cup of vegetable broth (I like to add a cup of water and a teaspoon of the Better than Bouillon vegetable base)
  • 1 handful of cilantro leaves, stems removed
  • shredded Cheddar cheese for topping (optional)
  • sliced avocado for topping or garnish
  • tortilla chips

Directions:

Wash and cube the sweet potatoes.  Place them in a large pot.  Cover the sweet potatoes with salted water, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until just barely tender (about 6 minutes, depending on the size of the cubes).  Drain and rinse with cold water. (If desired, transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking, and drain again.) Set aside.

In the same large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and garlic, and cook until the onions are tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the chili powder and cumin and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add the sweet potatoes, tomatoes, corn, black beans, lime juice, and vegetable broth.  Simmer gently, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, at medium-low heat.  Add a little more water if the mixture is too thick.

Spoon the chili into bowls and top with cilantro and shredded Cheddar cheese (if desired). Serve with sliced avocado and tortilla chips. Enjoy!

This recipe is adapted from the Thrive Energy Cookbook by Brendan Brazier

 

 

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