Brunch Challenge – Banana Bread Cinnamon Rolls

So with the holiday season coming up I decided to focus on brunch ideas this month. The holiday time is full of big family and friend gatherings and eating big meals. So we like to keep things simple and stick to only two meals a brunch and then the larger meal. Small snacks can be served during the rest of the time but by limiting the meals to only two it helps relieve a lot of stress if you are catering for a large group plus since so many calories are consumed during the large meals it seems wise to limit the amount of meals we consume.

Before I share this amazing recipe I think it should be noted that I am not a baker. It is not my area of strength and very rarely does anything I bake turn out beautiful, tasty but not beautiful. I could probably get a lot better if I practiced more but baking is not a healthy thing so I try and limit the amount I do it. I say this because it is a common issue with people. I know so many people that say they aren’t good at baking so they don’t even try any more. They instead stick to store bought pastries, cakes and cookies, or buy only box mixes. But I want to encourage people to give it a try. Yes your results might be like mine, not perfect looking but trust me when I say these were so tasty they didn’t last long enough for us to look at them for long. Not only do home made baked goods taste better and are cheaper buteven more importantly they are better for you then store bought since they have less preservatives and other additives. And since baking isn’t great for the waist line I say any small thing you can do to make it better for you is worth trying.

Trust me when I say if this non-baker can make these then you can. This recipe can easily be made the day before and stored in the fridge until the morning.
Banana-Bread-Cinnamon-Rolls

Banana Bread Cinnamon Rolls

Filling:
150g (3/4 c.) soft brown sugar
50g (1/4 c.) granulated sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
(1/4 c.) finely chopped nuts (I prefer pecans but only had chopped mixed nuts on hand)
14g (1 Tbsp) butter, melted
Rolls:
438g (3 3/4 c.) plain flour
12g (2 Tbsp) sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 ripe bananas
100g (7 Tbsp) butter, melted and divided
175mL (3/4 c.) milk
Icing:
2 cup icing sugar
2 Tbsp milk
Adapted from Inside Bru Crew Life

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Nutella Stuffed Snickerdoodle Muffins

Something just happened in this house that really shouldn’t have since I have been trying so hard to stick to a diet. But when these incredible muffins caught my eye I just couldn’t resist stopping what I was doing and make them. And let me just say they do not disappoint. I had to rely on Google translate to try and follow the recipe so at times I wasn’t really sure about the instructions but let me say each bit was so incredible that if there was a small error somewhere we didn’t notice it at all.

Nutella Stuffed Snickerdoodle Muffins

290g (2 1/4 c.) plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/3 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
120g (1/2 c.) sugar
1 egg
1 egg yoke
100mL (a little less then 1/2 c.) olive oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
180mL (3/4 c.) milk
Nutella
Topping
70g. sugar
3 tsp cinnamon
65g (4 Tbsp) butter
Recipe from Winnish

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Chorizo and Spinach Crock Pot Lasagne

I had heard of doing a lasagne in a crock pot but I hadn’t tried it before and I have to say I might start having lasagne a bit more often with it being so easy in the crock pot. I also got to learn something new, besides cooking the lasagne in the crock pot. Here in the UK people have never really heard of using ricotta cheese in their lasagne. Instead they use a cheese sauce layer. I haven’t yet tried this but it sounds really good and it also sounds like an even cheaper way to make lasagne as I always have the ingredients on hand to make a quick cheese sauce. This recipe is one that uses ricotta but I promise I will be attempting the UK version soon and hope to share that with you.

Originally I was going to make it with just the spinach, but after noticing I had a chorizo sausage to use up I amended my recipe last minute. It tasted like a cross between pizza and lasagne, even my toddler who right now is being a little bit picky about spinach devoured a portion. Coming home after a long day at work the smell of this lasagne filled the house and put a smile on both my husband and I’s face. Another trick to make this even easier for a busy work day is I put the lasagne together the night before and put the crock pot pan into the fridge. So all I had to do in the morning was put it back onto the base and switch it on.

Chorizo and Spinach Crock Pot Lasagne

400g chorizo, chopped thinly
280g (10 oz) frozen spinach, defrosted
250g (8oz) container ricotta cheese
250g (2 c.) mozzarella cheese
30g (1/4 c.) grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
750g (26 oz) marinara sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
10 “no-boil” lasagne pasta

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Enjoying our Meat-Free Month Challenge with a bowl of Winter Vegetable Soup

For the month of January hubby and I have gone meat-free. I haven’t talked about it yet, I think part of me didn’t want to talk about it because I was worried that if I talked about it too much I might build it up and then not have the follow through that I needed. I already knew that I had two meat posts that were scheduled for this month so I wondered if it wouldn’t make sense to say I am going meat-free this month. But those meat dishes were cooked and eaten before this month so I guess I can let it slide.

Why meat free?

Well there are two parts to that answer. Hubby and I put on some weight last year and we have been wanting to eat healthier. It isn’t that I feel meat is unhealthy although too much of it is. But I have found that giving myself a challenge like this has forced me to get creative with our meals. And having to pay more attention with coming up with this many meals that are meat-free has helped me focus on keeping it healthier.

The second part is to do with Small Wallet, Big Appetite. You see I talk a lot about cutting down your food budget but I feel like I don’t do enough to show examples of how to do that. One thing that helps immensely is to not include meat for every meal. Normally we try to keep our meat dishes to only 3 times a week. Making this change a few years ago made a huge impact to our food budget. But I noticed as I started working on a better recipe archive, my current one is terrible I know, I noticed how few meat free dishes I really had. I feel that in order to encourage you to cut down on your meat dishes that I needed to do a better job of actually giving you recipes in order to do so.

I have to say I am really glad I took on this challenge because, while it has been harder than I thought it would be, it has brought back my creativity. And we are feeling a lot healthier, especially after all the heavy meals we are during the Holidays. Giving up meat won’t be a permanent change for us but it is inspiring us to go meat-free during the week more often. At the end of the month I will talk more about the financial aspect of the challenge.

This soup is perfect for this cold weather, filling, yet not too heavy and very healthy. Perfect for a cold winter day.

Winter Vegetable Soup

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large leek, rinsed and sliced
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large swede (rutabaga), peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
900ml (12fl oz) vegetable stock
4-5 tablespoons milk
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dried parsley
Salt, black pepper and freshly grated nutmeg to taste

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Cream of Mushroom Soup

I have to confess that appetizers and starters often get forgotten in my kitchen. So much time and effort goes in to my main courses and side dishes that I very rarely take the time to make a starter. But I was inspired listening to a friend’s typical holiday party menu that always includes a starter that I decided to start making more of an effort. And after the fabulous inspiration from my fellow Sunday Supper bloggers this past Sunday I have a whole list of appetizers I want to try.

Today I wanted to share with you a wonderful starter soup that is creamy and full of flavour and thankfully doesn’t take too much effort. So you can wow your guests without having to labour long over it. If all you have ever had is tinned mushroom soup then you are missing out because this incredible. Hubby has made me promise that this won’t be a one time soup.

Cream of Mushroom Soup

2 Tbsp olive oil
340g (12oz) mushrooms, your choice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 tsp thyme
240mL (1 c.) vegetable broth
60mL (1/4 c.) white wine
4 Tbsp cornstarch
240mL (1 c.) cream

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