Chocolate Chip Nutella Banana Muffins.

Dare I say it?  Yes!  These are heavenly!  I kept thinking that I wanted to make a muffin with Nutella for my kids.  One child just had a yucky orthodontic contraption put in her mouth & she’s barely eating.  The other child, eats to live unless it blows her away… & this will!  Okay so Nutella reigns king in my house.  I grew up eating this, it is after all an Italian staple.  My kids enjoy it just as much as I did growing up.  So it starts there… okay but what to pair it with?  Banana, of course!  And mix in a few Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips & how bad could it be?

Again.  Heavenly!


1/2 c of granulated sugar
1/2 c of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter or Butter
2 eggs, at room temperature
1c of whole wheat flour
1c of unbleached all purpose flour (I use King Arthur)
1/2 tsp of kosher salt
1 tsp baking powder
3 ripe bananas
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 c of non fat, plain Chobani
1/2 c of Nutella
1/2 c of chocolate chips or chopped up chocolate bar


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Spray your muffin pan with non stick baking Pam.

In your mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar together.  Beat in eggs.  In a separate bowl, whisk together both flours, salt & baking powder.  Add to the sugar mixture.  Blend together until incorporated.  Add bananas, vanilla, Chobani & Nutella.  By hand, mix in the chocolate chips.

Fill each chamber 3/4 of the way full.  Bake for 18-20 minutes.  Insert a toothpick and when it comes out clean… they are ready.  Remove and let sit on the counter for 4 minutes.  Then remove and place on a platter & enjoy!


— Knead to Cook

Minestrone ~ Vegetarian Style.

This is the perfect soup for a cold winter day when you crave warmth.  The aroma is intoxicating & the unique flavor will satisfy the carnivores in your family.  Although this soup is not vegan, it is vegetarian.  It can be adapted by opting not to simmer the soup with the Parmesan rind or adding the cheese.


3 tsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes
5 c of chicken stock
4 carrots, sliced on a diagonal
1 Parmesan rind + 2 tbl of grated cheese
2 handfuls of baby spinach leaves
1 zucchini, sliced thinly
1/2 c of frozen green peas, or fresh if you have them
1 15 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and washed
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 bag of small pasta (shells, twists, orzo etc.)

In your Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over a medium flame.  Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 6 minutes.  Add the garlic, cook for one minute.  Then add the diced tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes.  Add the broth, carrots & Parmesan rind and grated cheese.  Cook this for about 30 minutes.  Remove the rind carefully after that.  I simmer this on the stove all afternoon, covered.  20 minutes prior to serving, I add the zucchini, peas, washed chickpeas and spinach.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a separate pot, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cooking the pasta.  Drain and add to the bowl.  Pour the minestrone over top & enjoy!


— Knead to Cook

Fresh Mango Banana Smoothie

My daughter had a herbst appliance put in her mouth today by our orthodontist & knowing how painful this must be, I decided to make her a liquid after-school snack to help.  I took my mango pitter – the best tool for removing a mango pit by far – & peeled the remaining flesh.  Toss that in your blender with 4 scoops of low or non-fat vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt, 1 ripe banana & 3/4 c of low fat milk or almond milk.  I also throw in some flaxseed meal (2 tbl).  Blend that in your blender (mine has a smoothie setting).  And pour into glasses with a straw.  This makes two large servings.


— Knead to Cook

Cranberry Cider Steel Cut Oats.

Oh how I love my crock pot!  It turns the simplest ingredients into magic.  This recipe is without a doubt, one of my favorites to make, especially when I have an early morning run. I come home sweating/freezing & the smells fill the kitchen.  I melt into a bowl & it refuels me.  I’m ready for the day.  Who doesn’t want that?

This recipe is super easy!  If you have a small crock pot, use that, if not, use the big daddy version.  Spray the inside vessel with a nonstick spray.  I use Pam – butter flavor.  Coat it well.  Then to that I add 1c of steel cut oats (not oatmeal).  4c of Trader Joe’s Cranberry Cider **You can use apple juice, apple cider, cranberry juice… the options are limitless.  I just use what I have on hand.  A pinch of salt.  1/8 tsp of nutmeg.  1 cinnamon stick.  1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon.  Stir it up and put the lid on.  I usually make this around 730-8p and won’t eat until 630-7a.  When I get home from my run at around 6:20 or so, I remove the lid & give it another stir.  Leave the lid off for about 10-15 minutes.  This will help thicken the oat mixture.  Ladle into bowls and top with whatever nuts you love.  I also top with Chia Seeds & dried fruit.

Chia Seed information you should know.  These seeds are known as one of nature’s  perfect foods.  They contain essential fatty acids (an excellent vegetarian source of omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid), protein, soluble fiber, protective antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and more.  Great in smoothies as well!

This breakfast will fill you up & get you ready to battle whatever comes your way :)


— Knead to Cook


This is my go-to snack!  I tend to eat them more at night & after a bit of research, now I’m glad I do.  I’ve always known that they are great for muscle inflammation, which I have training for a marathon, but check out all of these amazing OTHER benefits.

~It is nature’s most powerful anti inflammatory!  This is due to the anthocyanins that block free radical damage better than many anti-inflammatory drugs.

~It lowers the risk factors of heart disease including inflammation, fat and cholesterol according to a University of Michigan study.

~Cyanidin is a natural organic compound that gives berries it’s bright red color.  Cyanidin has been found to greatly reduce oxidative damage to cells, research has suggested that it may also be an important factor in fighting heart disease & cancer.

~Provides a memory boost thanks to the anthocyanin!  Anything to help me improve memory is a benefit!

~They have a ton of beta carotene!  19 times more than blueberries or strawberries!

~They contain melatonin, which helps regulate your body’s sleep cycles.  So glad I snack on these at night!

— Knead to Cook

Peppercorn encrusted filet mignon topped with gorgonzola with a side of asparagus zucchini risotto*.

Okay so not every meal I eat has to be over-the-top healthy! ;)  My filet was thinly sliced & oh so good.  We had leftover filet mignon from the holidays that we wanted to cook.  So we encrusted the filet with peppercorns (on one side) and grilled it over a gas flame.  Once it was almost cooked to our preference, we topped it with a tablespoon of gorgonzola crumbles and covered the grill.  Once melted, remove promptly, place on a platter & tent with foil for about 5-6 minutes for the juices to return back into the meat.

Risotto is one of the fabulously decadent foods that I love but despise making because you need to babysit it the entire time.  I’m a bit of a multi-tasker in the kitchen so I prefer not to sit and watch a pot but I made the sacrifice.  The recipe is as follows:

2 tbl of olive oil
1/2 of a medium yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 c of Arborio rice
1/3 c of white wine, preferably dry
4 c of chicken broth
1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced

First, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Place the asparagus in the pot & cover. Cook for 4 minutes.  While that’s cooking, get a large bowl of ice water prepared for blanching.  Once 4 minutes is up, drain & place the asparagus in the ice bath to stop the cooking process.  Remove once the stalks are cold and bright green.  Slice in half and keep off to the side.

In your large dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion & garlic.  Stirring constantly.  After 3 minutes, add the rice and constantly stir.  This will toast the rice up nicely.  After about 4-5 minutes of toasting, add the white wine.  Stirring, constantly.  This should evaporate in 1-2 minutes.  Once that has, add 1.5c of the chicken stock to the rice.  Keep stirring until the rice absorbs all of the liquid.  This takes a few minutes.  Then repeat with another 1.5c of chicken stock.  Stir until absorbed.  Finally, add the final cup of chicken stock.  Stirring for about 2-3 minutes.  Then you will add the zucchini disks to cook.  At this point I added a splash more of the stock and covered the pot for about 2 minutes.  (Add more broth or water if necessary).  Uncover an stir again.  Then add your asparagus to heat through.  Serve immediately.  *Can be served alone for a vegetarian dish as well!

— Knead to Cook

Spicy hot popcorn.

If you’re captivated by spicy food, as I am, you may want to give this recipe a try.  First, homemade popcorn is so much better than microwaveable.  Second, popcorn is a healthy snack because it is a whole grain and has 1g of fiber per cup.  Third, it is much easier than you think to make it and you don’t need special equipment!

Drizzle about a 1/4 cup of spicy oil on the bottom of your 3-4 qt. saucepan and place over medium flame.  Add approximatley 1/2 cup of your popcorn kernels and cover with lid.  Shake occasionally.  Once the kernels stop popping, remove from the heat.  We sprinkle a tiny bit of salt over it and serve right away.  The spicy oil gives it a nice kick & no need for butter.

Spicy hot popcorn.


— Knead to Cook

Guava Martini.

Guava Juice

Okay I love this drink.  Light, sweet & refreshing.  One part vodka (1 shot)  to three parts Guava juic (3 shots) .  I finish with a splash of fresh lemon juice and a few ice cubes.  Watch out – it will become one of your favorites!

Guava Martini.


— Knead to Cook

Healthy Whole Wheat {eggless} Flaxseed, Banana Pancakes

Okay thoughts of the New Year are upon us & I love healthy foods that taste great!  I came up with this recipe as we were out of eggs.  Necessity is the mother of invention, right?  The girls requested pancakes & here they are!  The recipe is super easy & totally kid approved!  My youngest, who normally eats pretty much nothing, ate 2!

1 c of Whole Wheat Flour
1.5 tsp of granulated sugar
1 tsp of ground cinnamon
2 tsp of baking soda
1 tbl of ground flaxseed meal
1 pinch of kosher table salt
1 c of almond milk (vanilla flavored) or you can use low fat white milk
1 heaping tablespoon of applesauce
1 tbl water
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbl of melted butter or I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter (lower calories)
1 ripe banana chopped up into smaller chunks


Combine all of the dry ingredients in your mixing bowl.  Add the wet ingredients and mix with a whisk.  Avoid over-mixing.  Add the banana last.
Spray your skillet with a nonstick spray.  Heat a large skillet over medium flame.  SWhen hot, ladle some batter into the pan.  Flip the pancake when bubbles appear & the side down that is cooking is golden brown.
You can certainly add any variety of fruit you like – blueberries, blackberries etc.  Again, add at the end of the blending process and mix by hand.  I added chocolate chips with the bananas.  I used a palmful to gauge the quantity.


— Knead to Cook