Sunday, February 26, 2017

Peanut Butter, Chocolate and Banana Baked Oatmeal

"Crazy" has been the word of the week in our house. Not that our lives are typically slow-moving, relaxing or boring. But, recent days have been particularly busy and a bit chaotic. Zayne ended wrestling season this week with a team party and a youth wrestling tournament at which the high school boys worked at all day today. He, also, had a first date. {Dying.} Allanah had her final Snowball Dance this weekend. Our van was stolen from my husband's workplace {and thankfully, recovered a few days later}. All three kids are in the same play production, which means practices galore these days. And, I must mention that the kiddos and I have all been battling some type of flu for the past few weeks at varying times.

Having grab-and-go meals and snacks are a must for me these days. Since we are a huge oatmeal-loving family, baked oatmeal is a great option for us. It reheats pretty well and provides major fuel to power us through our day.

The combo of chocolate, peanut butter and banana here is pretty awesome. All three are incorporated into the oatmeal itself, then it gets topped with fresh bananas, chocolate chips and a peanut butter/honey dollop at time of service. I do have a couple of kids who prefer this without the toppings, however. They like a slice of this as-is to throw on a napkin on their way out the door.

Think of this as a cross between a bowl of traditional oatmeal AND oatmeal cookies ... just maybe not quite as sweet as normal cookies. Plan to adjust how you serve and top this based upon your family's preferences. My youngest asked to drizzle her slice with caramel sauce. {Quite the treat.} It is pretty moist when it is first baked. But, we actually prefer it cooled, the pieces individually wrapped up, stored in the fridge and reheated in the oven the next day. It becomes a little drier and more bar-like.

Serves 6 - 8.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Refreshing Fennel Citrus Salad with Orange Maple Dressing

As we dance between winter and spring, life can feel dreary and lackluster. The excitement of Christmas, the new year and Valentine's Day is behind us. The promise of warmth, new life and green-hued landscape taunts us as we wait in the ending days of February. Glimpses of sunshine and occasional above-average temps remind us that winter's bitter cold is almost in our rear-view mirrors. Spring is just within reach. We stagger between the desire for stews and casseroles while pining for fresh, vibrant salads and the unleashing of our grills from our sheds. This particular salad is a beautiful ideal bridge between the seasons. All in one a nod to winter produce and yet, a welcome "hello" to the beginning of traditional salad season.

And, it truly could not be easier to assemble. I've presented it within this post as a side salad, but one could easily add a beautifully-cooked filet of salmon on top for a more-complete meal. The salad itself consists of just four fresh ingredients. And, the dressing is comprised of stuff most of us keep on hand. Between the two components, you'll need maybe ten minutes to get this on the table from start to finish.

Yields 2 - 3 servings.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

No-Bake Cranberry Crunch Energy Bites

With three kids still living at home, we stay pretty busy. Two teenagers and a nine-year old make for an often hectic schedule. I don't think there are very many extra-curricular activities that my kids don't do {or, at least, haven't tried}. Currently, we are knee-deep in varsity wrestling for Zayne {our fourteen-year old}. Wrestling can be demanding and grueling on kids {as well as the families}. Weeknights are filled with practices and conditioning. Weekends consist of all-day tournaments that we often travel quite a distance to attend. To maintain his energy and fuel him through his day, our son needs lots of protein. And, typically, he needs food that he can take on the go.

When it comes to breakfast and snacks, these are his "go-to" many days. Actually, all of us munch on these and I always pack some when we're headed to sports activities. You'll seldom not find a batch of these in my freezer. They are full of pretty wholesome ingredients and they do a good job of keeping us full until mealtime.

RECIPE NOTES:  I prefer a combination of peanut butter AND almond butter for this recipe. However, I have made these just using peanut butter and they turn out well. {I really wouldn't recommend utilizing just almond butter.} Also, I use a combination of cacao nibs {found at health food stores or online} AND mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, but you can simply use chocolate chips, if desired. This recipe is pretty versatile as long as you follow the basics with regards to the peanut butter, oats, honey and rice cereal. Basically, taste as you go along and look for a texture that can be easily shaped into balls, but isn't too sticky. I find that the exact measurements for this recipe can change depending on what brand/style of peanut butter or almond butter that I use.

Yields 2 - 2 1/2  dozen "bites" {balls}. 

Monday, February 06, 2017

Simple Strawberry Salad with Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing

Winter weather is still lingering around for many of us, but I am a year-round salad eater. My salad love knows no boundaries. Even when the temps outside are a little on the low side, I still enjoy salads all throughout the week for lunch. This particular salad is a pretty simplistic one ... utilizing just a handful of fresh ingredients. And, the dressing is pretty basic, too, in terms of ingredients and prep. But, it sure does pack a punch and deliver on many levels. It's a tad bit tangy, a little sweet and has just the right amount of creaminess {while still feeling light}.

This would be a great salad to serve alongside Valentine's Day dinner if you're planning to cook for {or with} your sweetheart. The strawberries bring a pop of red to the party, so it would tie in nicely with the evening's color theme. {And, strawberries - in my opinion - are always sexy.}

Yields 2 servings.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Southwest Rice Power Bowl with Citrus Vinaigrette

I'm keeping on track - for the most part - with my decision to eat {and cook} with more intention in 2017. Instead of grabbing just a granola bar and maybe a string cheese for lunch while I'm home by myself during the day {or sometimes skipping lunch altogether}, I set out to invest a little more time and effort into what I feed myself. Yes, doing so has meant better planning while shopping, greater investment into meal prep and taking the extra time to actually make myself sit down to eat a wholesome, healthful lunch. But, I know that eating more intentionally is worth it. This power bowl has found its way into my meal rotation over the past few weeks. So darn good. And, definitely worth the bit of extra effort.

Although it's a breeze to make, it does take a few minutes to chop and assemble everything. With some music cranked, I pop the sweet potatoes into the oven to roast while I prep the other ingredients. The dressing could not be easier to whisk up, then it's time to arrange everything nicely {I like pretty-looking food} into a big bowl and grab a fork.

I take a little help in this recipe by utilizing a bag of frozen microwavable brown rice and a small bag of frozen microwavable corn. Obviously, you could use leftover rice or even something like, cooked quinoa if you'd like {in place of rice}. This whole power bowl is pretty versatile, so play around with what you like or what you have on hand.

This, basically, consists of cubed sweet potato that gets coated with olive oil, salt, pepper, a little ground cumin and a pinch of cayenne pepper before roasting. Some canned black beans, brown rice, corn and vegetables get piled onto some fresh greens before the whole thing gets drizzled with an ultra-simple citrus dressing. Oh, and I love this with some quick-pickled red onions on top, so I'm providing the recipe for those at the end of the post.

You'll feel amazing knowing that you're feeding yourself something super good for your body. And, it's a lunch that will definitely power you through the afternoon.

Yields 2 servings.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Sweet Potato, Kale and Wheat Berry Citrus Buddha Bowls

My readers know that I'm a sucker for loaded salads, arranged salads and salad bowls. I particularly love the inclusion of whole grains, beans or the like in them. Have you heard of Buddha Bowls? A Buddha Bowl is, basically, a form of a loaded salad. It, typically, includes some type of cooked grain (or legume), lots of chopped vegetables, some greens of some sort, sometimes fruit and nuts/seeds. It's usually topped with a sauce or dressing. Basically, I've come to find that I can pretty much throw whatever wholesome foods and/or healthful leftovers that I have on hand together to create something magical. And, these types of all-in-one meals are perfect for those of us trying to be mindful of making healthy food decisions.

So many make majestic and often extreme resolutions at the start of each new year. For me, I have committed to simply eating more "intentionally" in 2017. It's not about dieting, restricting carbs, omitting sugar or cutting calories. Rather, I'm taking a more conscientious, vigilant approach to what I feed myself. I am pledging to eat more wholesome, "real" foods. And, I'm making more of an effort to include way, way more vegetables into every meal.

Working from home and living a busy life with kids means that a string cheese and a protein bar is often my lunch. While not entirely bad, it just doesn't provide me the nutrition that I know that I need on a daily basis. So, I've set out to be more thoughtful with what I consume ... taking time to meal prep for myself more and spending a little time making myself healthy meals - especially lunches since that meal is the one I find that I skip or skimp on the most.

Buddha Bowls are amazing for me. I just love how versatile they can be. And, I love how creative I can be when making them. This recipe is a good starting point if you're new to the BB game. I'd love to hear if you've tried making your own at home ... and what your favorite combination of ingredients/components is.

Yields 2 servings/bowls.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: Review and Reflection

As 2016 comes to a close, I'm reflecting back on the past twelve months. What a magnificent year for Joyously Domestic it has been! This past summer, I entered my fifth year blogging here at JD. I say it every year when I compose these end-of-the-year posts, but I truly am blown away that I get to make blogging my "work." I just love sharing my love of food with all of you guys and creating this community along the way. I've gotten to know so many awesome people and I'm just so thankful that this is the job that I get to do on a daily basis.

Below you'll find links to my top TEN recipe posts from 2016. I truly appreciate all of the comments and emails that so many of you provide when you've made one of my recipes. I just love getting feedback (even when some of it at times isn't particularly positive) from my readers. And, it's helpful for other visitors when feedback is given after you've tried a recipe. If you haven't already, check out the most-popular recipes from the past twelve months.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Cheese Tortellini Party Appetizer

Especially during the holidays, it seems that we're all looking for simple, no-fuss appetizers that go over well with a crowd and can even travel easily. This Cheese Tortellini Party Appetizer totally meets the criteria. Kids and adults alike enjoy these. And, they work great when you have a vegetarian in the mix. They can be served cold or at room temp. And, the sky is kinda the limit with regards to what you'd like to include. I like a mix of cheese chunks, olives and tomatoes with the tortellini.

Store-bought cheese tortellini (frozen or refrigerated) is used in this recipe. Just follow the package instructions regarding cooking. Be sure not to overcook them or they will fall apart when you try to skewer them. And, be sure to rinse them thoroughly under cold water after boiling to stop the cooking process immediately.

I dress my skewers with a good-quality bottled Italian-style vinaigrette. Of course, you could make something similar from scratch if you prefer. But, taking some help from the supermarket during the hectic holidays is a real timesaver.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Holiday Hot Cocoa Chocolate Stir Sticks

I'm always looking for fun, simple and unique DIY edible gifts during the holiday season. These Holiday Hot Cocoa Chocolate Stir Sticks totally fit the bill. They are inexpensive to make, fun to have the kids help with and make great little gifts. They'd be awesome tucked into a new Christmas mug along with a candy cane and a small packet of hot cocoa for gift-giving.

These little chocolate stirrers totally amp up the flavor and richness of a basic mug of hot cocoa ... the result is like, next level hot chocolate.

To put these together, you'll need an ice cube tray (I used a square-welled silicone one) or a mini muffin tin. You'll need, also, to decide on some type of "handle" to insert (I used striped paper straws that I cut in half). Popsicle sticks or lollipop sticks would work great, too.

Then, you'll melt down a bag of chocolate chips and spoon the melted chocolate into the tray wells. Once your "handle" is inserted, embellish with whatever you choose (crushed candy canes, chopped chocolate mints, sprinkles, finishing sugar, etc.) Once the chocolate hardens in the fridge or freezer, you're all set to serve them up or package for gifting.

If you look closely in the photo above, you'll notice that I placed one stirrer in a small, clear bag along with some mini marshmallows. I finished the package with some festive ribbon.

Note that the number of stir sticks you'll get will fully depend on the size of the wells of your ice cube tray or mini muffin tin. One twelve-ounce package of semi-sweet chocolate chips yielded twelve stir sticks in the tray that I used (size shown in photo above).

Monday, December 12, 2016

Holiday Gift Giving with UncommonGoods

It's such a fantastic, fulfilling feeling to find and give the perfect gifts to our loved ones during the holiday season. Something unique. Something memorable. Something that you just know suits them. Something they will cherish. And, something that will just make their eyes lights up.

Whether you're needing something special for the moms on your list, that crazy uncle of yours, your helpful neighbor or the hard-to-buy-for women in your life, one such company can help with all of your gift-giving needs.

I've partnered up this season with UncommonGoods, a company offering beautifully-designed, mostly-handcrafted and uniquely creative products. Based in Brooklyn, New York, UncommonGoods is an online marketplace that brings customers a vast array of fun, artisan items that are often made by hand and often crafted using recycled/upcycled materials. They meet a high standard on a number of issues - as a B Corporation - including environmental impact, wage levels and community involvement. You can read up on their history and story on their website.

From their Christmas Gift Collection, I've selected several products that I think you'll go crazy for. Take a look at what I'm showcasing here, but then hop on over to their site to browse through their entire selection of items that I'm sure will inspire you as you make your way through your list of gift recipients this year.