Baked Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal

baked oatmeal

Yesterday, I went apple picking at a local orchard with some friends. I came home with far too many apples for a single person to eat and decided I needed to get creative in the kitchen.

I love making fresh, warm applesauce this time of year. But, today, I wanted to try making some baked oatmeal. I found a recipe online and made some modifications to it.

This oatmeal would be great with other modifications – using berries, almonds or another kind of fruit. It is also amazing served with yogurt or a little milk or cream.

I’m definitely going to be making applesauce soon – and perhaps I will finally figure out how to preserve food by canning!

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Elimination Diet: Week 1 in Review

SS Elimination diet week 1

It’s been a week. I’m still doing the Elimination diet. This week has had its ups and downs. I still haven’t felt awesome, but I am guessing my body is detoxing a bit or my body just hates me…or both. Hopefully this week my symptoms will lessen or go away. I have found plenty of food that I can eat, however let’s just say I have a lot of things over rice or quinoa. There is nothing wrong with rice or quinoa, but I have a feeling it will get old. I haven’t done much meal planning, just go with the flow–which I feel I would have a bit more variety if I meal planned better. Maybe timing will work out better this week…

I have ate some delicious food and made some food that has been surprisingly tasty. One huge struggle I have had is seasoning. Most spice blends have some kind of pepper in it, whether it be red bell pepper to a spicy pepper. I am also avoiding black pepper–so that takes out every spice blend. I just season to taste, which I do a lot in my cooking when I have a bit more time–I just like to use spice blends when I am short on time. 

Other challenges I have faced is breakfast. I can’t do eggs. I can’t do cereal or oatmeal…and frankly, that is usually what I have for breakfast. I am having a lot of chia pudding with fruit for breakfast, since it really is just chia seeds and nut milk. My other go-to breakfast item is smoothies…and a lot of them. I am making them with rice protein. I don’t love the rice protein powder I got, but I am just going to go with it and hope I can go back to the whey protein I like when I can reintroduce foods. I do know of some good plant-based protein powders, but they are pricer than the rice protein I have. Since I am spending more on food with this elimination diet, I am trying to cut costs where I can. Oh…other hard part about breakfast, NO COFFEE. Yeah, it is sad. I miss that delicious hot cup in the morning. Although I haven’t fallen asleep at work or anything, so I suppose I am doing just fine.

I have decided I now love almond butter, which was not the case a month ago. I have gone through a whole jar of almond butter in less than a week, between having it with apples or rice/nut crackers. It is definitely my go to snack. I think I have ate more almond butter this week than I have in the past year.

I have even had dessert this week: Avocado Chocolate Mousse. It may sound weird, but it is delicious and way healthier than regular chocolate mousse. I will be sure to post the recipe later this week.

Some food highlights of my week: Basil Kale Pesto with Rice Pasta and Roasted Chicken, Salmon over Quinoa with Brussel Sprouts, and Mexican chicken with Black Beans and Avocado over White Rice. (Side note: the “Mexican” chicken was a challenge with out peppers, but I just spiced it with garlic, onion, cumin and oregano.)

elim diet week 1 food

Everything is made from scratch, as I have to to avoid the foods I can’t eat. I do typically cook most of the food I eat from scratch as I like to know exactly what is in my foods, so it really isn’t a big deal. However, I do like my occasionally protein/granola bar or cereal, but I am probably much better off only eating foods from scratch.

Saddest part of the week: The Packers unfortunate loss. That’s all I’m going to say. I did however make Asian Turkey Lettuce wraps for the game. While I missed the cheese and beer (GF, of course), the wraps were tasty.

packers food

This photo was taken during the first quarter…not the last five minutes of the fourth quarter. See I am happy…not sad.

All in all though, this week went fairly well. Two more weeks until I can start reintroducing foods!

Elimination Diet: Day 1

It’s been awhile for Amy and I, between her travels, both of us being crazy busy at work, and the holidays…let’s just say it has been busy. Look out for lots of stuff to come, especially on this new elimination diet I am on.

In the past few months, my food reactions have gotten worse. I am already on a gluten-free diet, but that is not seeming to be enough at this point–plus I overall eat pretty healthy. I eat whole foods, my veggies, and all that jazz–but I am obviously reacting to something. I have been getting terrible stomach aches, nausea, bloating, my skin hating me and more–fun stuff, huh?! 

I have been contemplating doing an elimination diet or something similar, but I wanted to check in with my doctor. After seeing my doctor, who focuses on holistic medicine, she also agreed this would be a good first step. She gave me a ton of great info to set me on the right path.

While an elimination diet may not be the most fun, if it will help me feel better and heal my gut, I’m in. Plus, I would much rather find out what foods may be an issue for me and not eat them, than have to take medicine to feel alright when I eat. I also work in the natural food industry and over time have learned a lot about whole foods and nutrition, so it seems less scary–which is good.

I will write another post about what an elimination diet all entails, but here it is in a nut shell. No soy, dairy, gluten, eggs, peanuts, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, corn, nightshade vegetables, red meat, citrus and any other foods you know or think you may be reacting too. The only food I am really adding on to this is oats, as some people what have a gluten intolerance sometimes have issues with oats. So that is a good amount of foods I can’t eat…and I am most freaking out about the caffeine and dairy…I mean I am from Wisconsin, so cheese 🙁 However, I can eat A LOT of food — from rice and quinoa to chicken, lots of fruits and veggies, most nuts and more. So, I do have options. I think the biggest part to the success of this is planning and having a positive outlook–which really is two key pieces to be successful in anything.

SS Elimination diet-day

Day 1 went well. Here is what I ate today:

  • Breakfast: Plant-based Protein smoothie
  • Snack: Banana and Cold-pressed juice (with no citrus)
  • Lunch: Rice and Vegetable Coconut curry
  • Dinner: Rice, Collards and Salmon 
  • Snack: Almond Butter and an apple
  • Beverages: Water, Herbal Tea, La Croix

Milwaukee Beer Run

beer run 5k logo

Today, I participated in my first race in more than two years. I used to be a runner. During training for my first marathon (that wasn’t), I suffered some injuries and ended up needing pretty major ankle surgery.

My brother, his fiancé and I completed The Milwaukee Beer Run 5k & .05k. They did the 5k and I did the .05k. That is the only distance race that would bring me out of racing retirement. Plus, beer.

Here’s the problem you guys. I am a hot mess. I may have had surgery to fix my ankle, but it’s still not what it used to be. 

As we were walking from the car to the starting line, my ankle gave out on me and I biffed it. Of course my loving brother couldn’t stop laughing. Thankfully, we were in the grassy part of Estabrook Parkway, so it wasn’t a hard fall. I was a little worried that my surgically-enhanced-so-it-wouldn’t-be-unstable-and-give-out-on-me-anymore ankle gave out on me, but I shook it off and we continued to the race. 

prerace2
Jenn, Andy & I pre-race
jenn
Jenn’s awesome beer goddess dress
prerace
Busted out the good ol’ winter running tights

I wasn’t sure how the race would go. I mean, .05k is really far you guys. It’s nothing compared to the numerous half marathons I did years ago. 

As the emcee counted down to the start, I felt that same jittery excitement that was so common for me when I was a runner.

Three…two…one…go!

And we were off! There was a point during the race where I hit the wall. I think it was around .04k. I wasn’t sure I would finish, but I powered through it and ran across the finish line. 

This is my "I just got a .05k PR" face
This is my “I just got a .05k PR” face

The race lasted less than 30 seconds. I barely had a chance to work up a sweat. But, I did PR today — 0:29! Honestly, if it wasn’t so packed with people walking, I would have gotten a better time. There’s always next year. 😉 Then it was time for some tasty beer from the Estabrook Beer Garden.

beermug

beer

After Andy & Jenn finished, the line for beer was insanely long, so we decided to head off to brunch.

As we walked back to the car, my OTHER ankle gave out on me and I fell on the pavement really hard. Like almost crying hard. My left knee was scraped, throbbing and hurting. It was pretty great you guys. 

I’ve been icing my knee and ankle on and off ever since. I have a feeling I will be hurting tomorrow. :/ 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes  --   Sconnie Sisters  

OMG. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes. Need I say more. These are amazing!! For real. I made these for my friend’s baby shower, and they were a huge hit (but really, how could they not be).

Enjoy every single bite of them.

To start out you will start with the Classic Chocolate Cupcake recipe.  Follow the recipe exactly as it lists, until you start to fill the cupcake liners. When you fill the cupcake liners, only fill them halfway. Then place the frozen chocolate chip cookie dough into the chocolate cupcake batter. Depending on the size of the cookie dough you may need to cut the frozen dough balls in half.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes  --   Sconnie Sisters

I used Sweet Martha’s frozen cookie dough. If you have ever been to the Minnesota State Fair, you would know why this is an awesome choice and great addition to the cupcakes. Sweet Martha’s cookies are amazing. There is a reason you can buy them buy the bucket at the MN State Fair. What cream puffs are to the Wisconsin State Fair, that is what these delicious lil cookies are to the MN State Fair.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes  --   Sconnie Sisters

You can really do whatever cookie dough you want. You could even make your own from scratch then freeze them in little balls. Use frozen dough if you want the cookie dough to be more of a “dough” in the cupcake. Don’t freeze the dough, if you would prefer the cookie dough cooked through.

You bake these cupcakes as normal, but make sure to double check them as everyone’s oven is a little different. I tested mine with a tooth pick, but you might have to do this more on the edges due to the cookie dough. Just remember the cookie dough won’t be cooked all the way through (which is what you want). 

Let the cupcakes cool. Once they cool, you have the option to elevate these cupcakes a wee bit further. Put some fudge in a pastry bag and pipe the fudge right into the middle of the cupcake. I used a quality fudge from the store (the same kind you would put on a sundae).

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes  --   Sconnie Sisters

Warning: Don’t get too over excited about the fudge like I did, as you may end up with more fudge on your hand than in the cupcake. However, many people may be into that…so do whatever you want. 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes  --   Sconnie SistersAfter that, it is time to frost. I made a frosting recipe I found on Pioneer Woman. She calls it the “Best Frosting I’ve Ever Had.” I would have to agree, which is why I used this over one of my own frosting recipes I have created. Why reinvent the wheel (or frosting in this case), if this frosting is amazing. 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes  --   Sconnie Sisters

 I like to pipe my frosting on cupcakes, as it makes them prettier. But feel free to do whatever your heart desires! 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes  --   Sconnie Sisters

To really make these cupcakes fancy, top them with mini chocolate chips and tiny cookies. I cut up some of the Sweet Martha’s cookie dough and baked them to make this cute mini cookies. Keep a very close eye on them in the oven. Lil cookies have very lil cooking time.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes  --   Sconnie Sisters

Once you have fancified these delicious beauties, sit back and relax. Grab a cupcake and a glass of milk and enjoy!

 

Classic Chocolate Cupcake

I love making cupcakes. I also love eating them. Unfortunately, I don’t make cupcakes very often anymore because of being gluten-free. And, let’s just say I haven’t been very successful with gluten-free baking. However you can never pass on a great cupcake!

Every baker needs a good chocolate cupcake recipe. My favorite is from the recipe book “Crazy about Cupcakes” by Krystina Castella. I have adapted the recipe a little, but the core of the recipe stems from this book.

chocolate cupcake

If you are looking for a cupcake cookbook with great recipes from scratch–I highly recommend this one (and let’s just say I have a few cupcake cookbooks.)

Stay tuned. More cupcake recipes to come…one coming very soon will even have cookie dough in it!

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Ramp Beef Stir Fry

Last week, I discussed the awesomeness of ramps. So, here is a recipe to utilize those delicious ramps!

Make this recipe soon. The ramp season doesn’t last long.

If you want to make this outside ramp season, you can always substitute in regular leeks (or even green onions or shallots-or a combo of them). You will just add other leafy greens (spinach, chard, collards or kale) instead of ramp leaves during that part of the recipe.

rampbeefstirfry

You will need beef, ramps, garlic, tamari, a bell pepper and some mushrooms.

ingredients stir fry

First, chop of the ramps. To do this, you cut the leaf part away from the bulbs. Set the leaves aside for later. Cut the roots off of the ramps, then dice up the ramp bulbs and stems into small pieces.

ramps1

Saute the ramps and garlic in coconut oil for a minute or two. I personally love garlic, so I put more garlic in recipes than maybe the normal person will like. So, if you don’t like garlic, you can either cut down the garlic or omit it completely. 

sauteed ramps

Once you smell the aroma of the ramps, add the bell pepper. Saute about 3-4 minutes.

yellow bell peppers

Add the butter and tamari. Once butter melts, add the mushrooms to the pan and saute for a minute or two. Push ingredients to the side of the pan.

butter tamari

Season the beef strips with salt and pepper. Add the strips of beef to the middle of the pan. Brown both sides of the beef.

beef in stir fry

Ones the beef is brown on both sides, add the water. Bring to a boil, then turn to a simmer.

water in stir fry

Cut of the leaves of the ramps and stir the pan.

ramp leaves

Once the leaves are slightly wilted, your stir fry is ready! Enjoy over rice.

finished ramps 2

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It’s finally Spring! Which means Ramps!!

So here in the Midwest, it has taken awhile to see spring. BUT it is finally here! And when Spring is here in the Midwest, I get especially excited for cooking. One of my favorite foods to eat in spring is ramps. If you have never had them before, you are totally missing out. I LOVE RAMPS!

Ramps

Ramps are wild leeks. Their flavor is kind of like a mix between garlic and onion, but so much better. The versatility they offer in cooking is awesome and an amazing addition to just about any dish.

In many areas in the US that don’t experience high heat, you can even forage for your own ramps as long as there is a fresh water source nearby. While this can be awesome, I would only recommend it if you know how to sustainably forage for ramps (and other foods). Ramps take awhile to recover when harvested. It can take up to 10 years for a patch of ramps to recover, even when only 25% of the patch is harvested. There are certain areas in North America who are having shortages of ramps. It’s even illegal to harvest ramps for sale in Quebec. This article by Chefs Collaborative discuss harvesting ramps and the problems that could arise, if you would like to learn more. If you do decide to forage for ramps, please be smart about it–as we want ramps for many years to come.

So, what can you do with ramps? So, so much. You can eat basically the whole ramp. I usually cut up the bulb part of the ramp and then sauté them. This lends itself as a nice base to many dishes, whether it be a sauce or seasoning for a protein and veggies. The leaf of the ramp is great to incorporate when you finish the dish as a garnish or within the dish itself. Cook it like you would spinach. You can even have ramps raw or pickled, however I prefer my sautéed or roasted.  

ramps prep

Ramps are quite the versatile vegetable. If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend you make incorporate ramps in your cooking this spring or check out a local restaurant who highlights this awesome piece of produce. Just be sure to enjoy responsibly!

If you aren’t sure where to start, look out for my ramp and beef stir-fry recipe later this week.

Serrano Lime Roasted Chicken

roast chicken serrano title

Roasted chicken is the best way to have chicken. Seriously. Not only do you get super juicy chicken, but you can also use the chicken carcass and scraps to make chicken broth.

Before I tried to make roasted chicken, it seemed kind of scary. I mean it’s a whole bird. But I promise, it really is easy to make and only takes about an hour to cook. Once you get past taking the liver, heart, and who knows what else out of the cavity of the bird, and rinsing your bird–it is a complete breeze. Roasting a whole chicken is really the most delicious way to make chicken. I rarely ever even buy chicken breast anymore. The whole chicken is totes the way to go.

There are many ways to season a roasted chicken, but this Serrano lime roasted chicken is one of my favorites to make!

serrano chicken-ingredients 

All you will need for this recipe is a whole chicken, an onion, serrano peppers, garlic, salt, limes and olive oil. (The recipe says two limes, but the limes at the grocery store were uber tiny, so I got three. If your store only sells tiny limes, buy three.)

Remove the neck and any innards from the cavities and discard. Rinse chicken in sink, then pat dry with paper towels. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

 

onions

Cut up the red onion into large pieces. Put 1 tablespoon of olive oil and onion pieces into a roasting pan or large baking dish.

peppers

Pro tip for cutting up hot peppers: Use a grapefruit spoon to scrape out the seeds.

bowl

Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. 

raw chicken

Loosen the skin from the breast and legs of the chicken and, using clean hands, spread 1/2 of your mixture underneath the skin. Rub the remaining mixture all over the outside of the chicken.

Place chicken in a roasting pan or baking dish on top of the onions, breast side up. (You can tie the legs if you’d like, but it is not necessary.)

roast chicken serrano

Roast the chicken for about 50-60 minutes. The chicken should be cooked to 165 degrees when the meat thermometer is inserted into the thigh; let sit at least 10 minutes before carving.

cutting chicken

Carve the chicken and serve with pan juices.

This chicken is super tasty. The leftovers also are awesome in tacos or on salads. Enjoy!

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