Flourless Pumpkin Pie Muffins

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The theme for this round of What’s Baking is pumpkin – perfect for the season! Since I knew I’d be posting my pumpkin recipe this month, I wanted to pick one that would fit in with October Unprocessed. I actually made them last month and these aren’t totally unprocessed – I used a chocolate peanut butter and chocolate chips – but subbing an appropriate nut butter and leaving out the chocolate chips would easily bring them into line.

I’m going to be making them again soon. Like, probably today.

You can check out the roundup of other pumpkin goodies later this month on Carrie’s Sweet Life.

Flourless Pumpkin Pie Muffins
(from Running with Spoons)
Makes 9 Muffins

1/4 cup nut butter
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1 egg
6 Tbsp. honey
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375F degrees and spray a muffin pan with cooking spray.

Add all of the ingredients except for the chocolate chips to a blender and blend on high until the oats are gone and batter is smooth and creamy. Stir in chocolate chips then pour the batter into prepared muffin pans.

Bake until the tops of your muffins are set and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean,about 10-12 minutes. Allow muffins to cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.


Oven Fajitas

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One of the things that’s been difficult for me with October Unprocessed is that I tend to pick recipes that are more complicated and time-consuming. I’m not sure why they appeal to me so much, but they’re really just not ideal for busy nights when you’re also juggling a baby. I’ve had to made a conscious effort to find quick, easy dinners that don’t rely on processed ingredients.

This was one of the best dinners so far. I did the prep during nap time so when dinner time came, I just had to toss it with the seasoning and oil and stick it in the oven. I served them with lettuce leaves for wrapping to make it October Unprocessed friendly, but tortillas would be great too.

Oven Fajitas
(from Budget Bytes)
Serves 4

1 Tbsp. chili powder
1/2 Tbsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 Tbsp. corn starch
2 small onions
2 medium green bell peppers
1 medium red bell pepper
1 lb. chicken breasts
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium lime
Tortillas or lettuce leaves for wrapping

Preheat the oven to 400F degrees. In a small bown, whisk together the first nine ingredients. Set aside.

Slice the onion, peppers and chicken into strips and place them into a 9×13″ baking dish. Sprinkle the seasoning over everything and then drizzle the oil over everything. Toss to coat evenly.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, stirring halfway through. When done, squeeze juice from half of the lime over everything. Serve on tortillas or lettuce leaves with your favorite toppings.


Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Quinoa Salad Jar

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While we’re really only a few days into October Unprocessed, I think I already found my favorite dish of the month. This salad is fantastic. I whipped it up on a day that baby boy was particularly needy so it literally took me all day to get it finished. When Mark walked in from work at 8 pm, he’s like, “Is that dinner?” and when I said, “No, its today’s lunch” he knew better than to ask too many questions (and graciously helped do the dishes when I finally finished. I had really thought about ditching these once lunch time passed and I didn’t have anything more than some burned sweet potato, but I’m really, really glad I didn’t.

Much like the oats I shared a few days ago, I suggest multiplying the recipe and making several at once – it’s just more efficient to cook a few days worth of sweet potatoes and quinoa in one shot if you’ll be eating this for several days.

Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Quinoa Salad Jar
(from Popsugar Fitness)
Makes 1

1 small sweet potato, unpeeled, diced into bite-sized pieces
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup quinoa
1/2 cup black beans
1/4 red pepper, diced
2 cups baby spinach
1 Tbsp. dried cranberries
1 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds

For the dressing:
1/4 cup mango, fresh or frozen
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp. water

Preheat the oven to 400F degrees. Toss the diced sweet potato with the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast until the potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the quinoa to a covered pot along with half a cup of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the water is all absorbed and the quinoa is tender.

Make the dressing: combine mango, vinegar and water in a blender and pulse until smooth.

Assemble the salad in a jar: Place the black beans at the bottom and then layer on the quinoa, dressing, red pepper, spinach, sweet potatoes, dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds.

Cover jar and refrigerate until ready to serve. When you’re ready to eat, shake the jar or dump it into a bowl and toss to combine.


Pumpkin Overnight Oats

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I knew going into October Unprocessed that breakfast and lunch would be harder for me than dinner. Being home with the kiddo all day, I don’t always get a good break to make something so I need something I can make ahead that’s relatively grab-and-go. I’ve got a list of ideas for each that I’m planning to try out this month, but this breakfast got bumped to the top because it’s the quickest.

The amounts below are for one jar, but I’d highly suggest lining up a few jars and prepping them all at once. I did 4 days worth in one shot and it was really nice to not have to keep dragging the ingredients out nightly. And really, who isn’t loving pumpkin everything this time of year?

Pumpkin Overnight Oats
(adapted slightly from Greens & Chocolate)
Serves 1

1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. chia seeds
2 tsp. flax seeds
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Place all ingredients in a mason jar or other container with a tight fitting lid and shake well to combine.  Refrigerate overnight.

Serve topped with fruit or nuts.


Balsamic and Herb Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Vegetables

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This is actually a dinner I made last month, but it’s something we’ll be repeating this month since it fits October Unprocessed well.

And by I made, I mean it was a group effort. Our friend, Chris, just took a job in Saudi Arabia (!) so we had him over for dinner as sort of a last hurrah. I started cooking and then Mark took over when I had to feed the baby. Chris pitched in by making the gravy as Mark got the pork cut and plated. You know you have good friends when they have no qualms about jumping in to help in the kitchen! We’re really going to miss having him around.

This is a nice dinner because it’s a one-dish meal. I’m always a fan of fewer dishes! The marinade made for a really flavorful pork tenderloin and we used the last of the green beans out of the garden. I served this with a nice, warm loaf of bread to round out the meal.

Balsamic and Herb Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Vegetables
(from The Other Side of Fifty)
Serves 6

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
1 tsp. fresh sage, chopped
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 1/2 lb. pork tenderloin
2 lbs. medium red skinned potatoes, scrubbed, diced into 1/2″ cubes
3/4 lb. green beans, ends trimmed
1/4 cup canola oil
1 heaping TBSP whole wheat flour
1 cup chicken broth

In a large bowl or ziplock bag, combine the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, mustard, garlic, rosemary, thyme, sage, salt and pepper. Add the pork, turn to coat and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400F degrees. Heat the canola oil to shimmering in an oven-safe pan.

Remove pork and discard marinade. Sear on all sides then transfer to oven and cook until the pork reaches 140F degrees on a meat thermometer. Remove pork from pan and tent on a plate. While the meat cooks, microwave the potatoes on high for 8 minutes, stirring halfway.

Increase the oven temp to 450F degrees. Add potatoes and green beans to the pan and toss to coat in the oil. Roast for an additional 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer the vegetables to a serving platter.

Whisk the flour into the juices remaining in the skillet and cook for 2 minutes over medium heat. Whisk in the chicken broth and continue whisking until smooth and reduced to the desired thickness.

Slice the meat and serve with vegetables and pan gravy.


October Unprocessed 2014

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October Unprocessed 2014

For the last several years, Eating Rules has hosted October Unprocessed- a challenge to forgo processed food for the month. This year, I’m joining in.

We do a fairly good job of eating like this on a normal basis, but there are always things that find their way into the kitchen that could be better. Going completely unprocessed has been a goal of mine for a while and this seems as good of an excuse as any to bite the bullet and actually try it.

What is considered “unprocessed”? We’re using Eating Rules’s kitchen test – if a person with reasonable kitchen skills could make it in a home kitchen with whole food ingredients, it’s unprocessed. What does that mean in layman’s terms? It means things like canned tomatoes, peanut butter and humus I don’t necessarily have to make myself – I just plan on buying versions that I could make, if I really wanted to.

We will have two exceptions for the month – we’re going to two weddings and will be partaking in the festive food, whatever that may be, but any of our own cooking and eating out will be as unprocessed as possible.

So, for the month of October, I’m going to be sharing recipes that fit the bill for the challenge. It’ll be a little different than usual, but it should be interesting!


M&M Brownie Batter Dip

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I’m pretty sure dips are the perfect party food. They’re easy to prepare, easy to serve and easy to over-indulge in without every noticing.

What more could you want?

I whipped this up when we went over to the neighbors’ to watch football. The game was incredibly disappointing, but the dip was a hit! I served it with pretzels and animal crackers for dipping – graham crackers and apple slices would be great, too!


M&M Brownie Batter Dip
(from Something Swanky)
Makes about 4 cups

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
5 Tbsp. all purpose flour
5 Tbsp. cocoa powder
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Pinch of salt
2-3 Tbsp. milk, divided
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup mini M&Ms
Pretzels, animal crackers, apple slices or graham crackers for dipping

Beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add the flour, cocoa powder, brown sugar, vanilla, salt and 1 Tbsp. of milk and beat until well combined and nearly smooth. Add another 1 Tbsp. of milk and powdered sugar. Beat until smooth. If you want a thinner dip, beat in an additional 1 Tbsp. of milk. Stir in M&Ms.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Chinese Restaurant Green Beans

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Are you sick of green beans yet? I’m not. Green beans are my favorite and I’m regretting not getting my act together and doing a fall planting. I’m savoring the last of our summer crop.

I cooked these up as a side dish to go with some pork potstickers. It was a great combo and two of my favorite Chinese food dishes. It mmade me feel like we had gotten takeout – such a nice fake out!

Chinese Restaurant Green Beans
(from Sweet Makes Three)
Serves 2 – 3

1Tbsp.  reduced-sodium soy sauce
1Tbsp. honey
1Tbsp. water
1Tbsp. unsalted butter
2Tbsp. olive oil
12 oz. fresh green beans, trimmed
½ tsp. salt, to taste
1Tbsp. minced garlic

In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, honey and water. Set aside.

In a pan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted, add the green beans and salt and toss to coat. Cook 7-8 minutes, until beans are slightly browned and shrunken. Stir in garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds.

Add in the soy sauce mixture and toss to coat. Cook for about 30 seconds, until the sauce becomes glaze-like. Transfer to a serving dish and serve immediately.


Taco Stuffed Shells

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This was another freezer meal I prepped before Jake was born. I’ve made it a few times before but never got a bloggable picture before this. If it’s surprising to you that the best picture of this dish came while I was carrying around a baby, it’s surprising to me too.

This is a real people-pleaser meal – a fusion of tacos and pasta, how can you not love it? If you’re looking for a meal to bring to a friend, this is a great one.

For the freezer, I covered and froze after the taco sauce. I bagged the cheese separately and froze that so I’d have one less thing to do on a busy night. Also, the picture shows a half batch – I prefer to freeze in portions that are easier for two people so we’re not drowning in leftovers!

Taco Stuffed Shells
(from Blog Chef)
Serves 4-6

1 lb. ground beef
1 package taco seasoning
4 oz. cream cheese
20-24 large pasta shells
1 cup salsa
1 cup taco sauce
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup Monterey jack cheese, shredded
1 ½ cups tortilla chips, crushed
Green onions, black olives and sour cream, for serving, optional

In a frying pan, brown the ground beef and prepare as taco meat according to directions on the seasoning packet. When finished, stir in cream cheese until melted and combined. Remove from heat and set aside.

While the meat cooks, cook shells according to package directions. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

Pour the salsa into the bottom of a baking dish. Fill each shell with the taco meat mixture and lay on top of salsa. Cover shells with taco sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Uncover and top with cheeses and tortilla chips. Bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Top with green onions, black olives and sour cream, if desired, and serve.


Green Beans in Peanut Sauce

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This was sort of a thrown-together dish – something to go with the Thai-spiced chicken skewers and something that would use up some more green beans. It ended up being one of my favorite things of the week.

I’m always a fan of quick sides and this fits the bill. It was the perfect accompaniment to our dinner and a dish I know I’ll be making again soon!

Green Beans in Peanut Sauce
(adapted from The Taste Place)
Serves 2

1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 lb. green beans
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. ginger

Over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the beans and cook for about 3 minutes, until crisp-tender.

In a small bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Pour over green beans, toss and cook until heated through.