Healthy Banana Bran Muffins with Blueberries

Healthy Banana Bran Muffins with Blueberries


Back to school is in full swing! Charlotte isn't in school yet, but a lot of her friends are, so I've been observing and trying to learn all of the tips and tricks because I know we will be there before I know it! I've partnered with some of my favorite bloggers for more back-to-school recipes - scroll to the bottom to check them out too!

As I child, I remember really looking forward to after school snacks! It was always soooo exciting when we came through the door, and smelled a freshly baked treat waiting for us. These healthy banana bran muffins are the perfect after-school snack. Easy for busy schedules, delicious for the kiddos, and healthy for all of us! I made these this past weekend for a quick and easy breakfast, and they were gone in a flash!



Ingredients: 

1/3 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup bran cereal
2 bananas, mashed
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup blueberries

Directions: 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, and line a muffin tin with liners. 

Combine the buttermilk, bran cereal and bananas in a large mixing bowl. Stir together, and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Add the butter, sugar, vanilla and eggs to the banana mixture and whisk until combined. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon and stir until just combined. Gently stir in the blueberries.

Distribute the batter between the muffin tins, filling each to almost totally full. Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs. Allow to cool completely before removing from the liners. Enjoy!









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Kirsten Bell
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Easy Lemon Risotto

Easy Lemon Risotto


It's no secret that I love risotto. Like loooooove risotto. It's such an easy and delicious comfort food recipe, and is the perfect side dish idea for pretty much any meal.

About six months ago I shared my Parmesan White Wine Risotto recipe, and you guys went crazy over it, and have been asking for more risotto recipes to try. So today I'm sharing my easy lemon risotto recipe!

This fresh and zesty risotto is the perfect spring or summer risotto recipe, but you bet I'll be making it year round! As a main dish, serve this lemon risotto topped with asparagus, peas, or zucchini! Or if you're serving it as a side, pair it with a roasted chicken or Lemon and Garlic Baked Salmon.




You'll notice that this recipe calls for a dry white wine. A few examples of dry whites are Sauvignon Blanc, Albarino and Chardonnay.

There's no need to splurge on a really expensive bottle of wine for this recipe, but I always recommend buying a bottle that you'll enjoy drinking, because you will definitely taste a hint of the wine flavor in the risotto. (Side note: the wine completely cooks out, so this a kid friendly recipe!)

I usually opt for a bottle in the $10-$15 range, like this Waterbrook Chardonnay, and pour two glasses. One for the risotto, one for me!


Ingredients:

1 shallot, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
3/4 cups dry white wine (see note above)
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon cream cheese
1 lemon, zested
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 green onions, chopped

Directions: 

Bring chicken stock to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer. Heat butter and olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, then add shallot and garlic and let cook until translucent. I finally invested in this saucepan, and it makes such a huge difference!

Add the rice to the shallot mixture, tossing to coat. Toast the rice for about 3-5 minutes, then add wine. Simmer over medium-low heat until the wine is almost evaporated.

Add the broth one cup at a time, continuing to stir until all the liquid is almost absorbed before adding more. Once all the broth has been added and cooked into the rice, remove pan from heat and stir in parmesan, salt, pepper, thyme, cream cheese, and lemon juice and lemon zest. Serve sprinkled with green onion!






Love Risotto? (Me too!!) Check Out My Other Risotto Recipe: 



And If You Love Lemon, How About These Lemon Recipes? 



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Kirsten Bell
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Pina Colada Cake

Pina Colada Cake


If you love Pina Coladas (and getting caught in the rain), then I have the perfect cake for you today! A delicious Pina Colada cake. Moist layers of coconut cake with homemade bourbon pineapple curd between, and topped with bourbon coconut buttercream frosting. I mean, seriously. This cake is like a tropical cruise in a cake, and I am here for it!

Ok so you may be thinking - aren't Pina Coladas usually made with rum? Yes, yes they are! But it turns out that Brown Sugar Bourbon Pina Coladas are just as delicious (possibly even more so!). I took one for the team and did a taste test, and might be making all my Pina Coladas with this Brown Sugar Bourbon from now on!

Used In This Post: 



If you've made any of my other cake recipes, you know that I'm not a fan of sickly sweet cakes. In the past I've tried coconut cakes that had way too much sugar for my taste, so I was on a mission to create a Pina Colada cake recipe with all the flavor, and less sugar. And the cherry on the top (see what I did there haha!) is the delicious Brown Sugar Bourbon (BSB) in both the pineapple curd and frosting. It's sooooo good, and I love that hint of flavor throughout the whole cake!

Now two quick notes on the recipe:

*You'll notice that the cake calls for coconut milk. By this I mean the canned kind that you'll most likely find in the Asian food section of your grocery store. (I used the brand Thai Kitchen.) When you open the can, you'll see thick coconut cream on top - that's what you want to use. One can should have enough for this recipe!

**The pineapple curd calls for pineapple juice - and this will need to be the canned version too. I found this in the juice section of my grocery store. For some reason only the canned version works - something to do with how juice is normally preserved, from what I understand. If you use "normal" pineapple juice, (as in from a plastic bottle) the curd won't thicken correctly.


Coconut Cake Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons coconut extract
1/2 cup coconut full-fat yogurt
1/3 cup coconut milk*
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

BSB Pineapple Curd Ingredients:

1/2 cup pineapple juice (from a can)**
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon Brown Sugar Bourbon
Small pinch of salt
3 tablespoons butter

BSB Coconut Buttercream Ingredients:

2 cups butter, softened
6 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon Brown Sugar Bourbon
2 teaspoons coconut extract
Maraschino cherries with stems for garnish (optional)


Coconut Cake Directions: 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three 6" cake pans, and line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients, flour through salt. Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one, followed by the extracts, yogurt, and coconut milk. Mix until all the wet ingredients are incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Add the dry ingredients, mixing on the lowest speed until just combined. Stir in the coconut flakes, making sure to scrape down the sides again as the coconut likes to stick.

Distribute the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans (I like to use this scale to be sure each layer is exactly the same). Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs.

Pineapple Curd Directions: 

Combine all the ingredients except the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat, and stir in the butter a tablespoon at a time. The pineapple curd will continue to thicken as it cools.

Note the assembly directions below for tips on how to add the pineapple curd between each cake layer.

Bourbon Coconut Buttercream

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time. Add the Brown Sugar Bourbon and coconut extract. Beat on high speed for about 5 minutes.

Assembly Tips: 

  • I prefer to frost cold cakes - I find it easier and there are fewer crumbs. I wrap each cake layer in plastic wrap once they've come to room temp, and then let them sit in the fridge for at least a few hours so they're cold when I'm ready to frost 
  • To assemble with the pineapple curd between each layer of cake, frost an even layer of the buttercream on top of the first layer. Then pipe a border of frosting around the edge of the cake layer. Spoon the pineapple curd into the well that you just created. Repeat with the next layer, and then continue with your crumb coat. (And by the way, I'm posting a video to Instagram in a few days that will show exactly how to do this! Find me @thiscelebratedlife on Instagram to see it!
  • A crumb coat, if you haven't heard of it before, is a thin layer of frosting to just seal in the crumbs before you fully frost the cake. 
  • Once your cake is fully frosted, coat it in unsweetened coconut flakes (or sweetened if you prefer). 
  • Top with cherries for a true Pina Colada look! If you want to create the same glitter look that I did here, lightly dry each Maraschino cherry, and then dip them in this edible gold glitter. Easy as that!






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Thank you to Heritage Distilling Co. for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinion are my own.


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Kirsten Bell
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5 Ingredient Mini Crustless Quiche

5 Ingredient Mini Crustless Quiche


Mornings in our house are always crazy! Everyone is going different directions, and breakfast becomes crazy too! That's why I love easy, make-ahead breakfasts that are healthy and full of protein to keep us going. These 5-ingredient mini quiches are perfect for mornings on-the-go, easy lunches and healthy dinners!

We love cooking with Organic Valley products, especially when we're trying to fit as many nutrients as possible into our meals! I've linked all the individual products below, and you can also look here to see where you can find Organic Valley products in your area!
 

What I possibly love the most about these mini quiches is that they're so flexible. You can use whatever meat and vegetables you have on hand, and since they're individual servings it can be a fun family activity for everyone to make their own set of quiches with their favorite ingredients!


Ingredients: 

5 Organic Valley Eggs
1/2 cup Organic Valley Heavy Cream
1/2 cup Organic Valley Swiss Cheese, shredded
1/2 cup diced ham
1 cup chopped broccoli
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Directions: 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, and grease a muffin tin well with butter or nonstick spray.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, salt and pepper. Distribute the ham, broccoli and cheese between each of the muffin tins, and cover with the egg mixture.

Bake for about 18-20 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked. Serve warm or cold!






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Kirsten Bell
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The Perfect Summer Dessert: No Bake Oreo Cheesecake

The Perfect Summer Dessert: No Bake Oreo Cheesecake


We love summertime! Lazy days on the lake, hikes through the forest, and iced cocktails on the patio. Hot days are also the perfect time to give the oven a rest, and make an easy no-bake dessert! And these no-bake oreo cheesecake bars are perfect! Quick, easy and delicious.

Used In This Post: 



You'll notice in the ingredients that I used Organic Valley cream cheese and heavy cream. I am a big believer that the ingredients we use have a huge impact on the final product. It makes sense, doesn't it? Of course we're going to taste the ingredients that we put in our food. That's kind of the whole point! I love that not only are Organic Valley products organic (duh), but they also taste so rich and creamy. Totally necessary for cheesecake in my opinion!







Crust Ingredients: 

1 1/4 cups crushed Oreo cookies (cream removed). I crushed mine in my Vitamix, but you could also crush them with a rolling pin. 

Filling Ingredients: 

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
12 Oreo cookies (with cream), roughly chopped 

Ganache Ingredients: 

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup Organic Valley heavy cream

Directions: 

Line an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish with parchment paper so that there’s an overhang on the sides. This will make taking the bars out of the pan much easier. Combine the crushed oreos and the melted butter, and press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the baking dish. Move into the fridge while you prepare the filling. 

For the filling: beat the heavy cream with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla until fluffy and well combined. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture with a spatula until evenly distributed. Stir in the chopped oreos. 

Cover the oreo crust with the oreo cheesecake filling. Cover with plastic wrap, and freeze 2-3 hours, or refrigerate 4-6 hours or overnight. 

For the ganache: Combine the chocolate chips and the heavy cream in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for about 30 seconds, and stir until the chocolate chips are fully melted. Drizzle the somewhat cooled ganache over the cheesecake bars. 

Cut and enjoy!



Looking for some more summertime desserts? Check these out: 



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Kirsten Bell
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