Quick and Easy Shortbread Recipe

High Five Recipes 2

Three ingredients.  A super quick snack.  Amazing deliciousness.  Supplies you always have on hand…

Wait, you do have butter on hand, right?  Okay.  I mean, we can still be friends even if you have run out of butter, but don’t let it happen again.  This has nothing to do with me and my butter obsession.  I’m just looking out for you, that’s all.  I have your best interests in mind.  Opening the fridge or freezer to find that there is no more butter waiting – well, it is reason to panic.  It’ll send a woman into a crazed frenzy, causing her to frantically toss a whole frozen chicken and eight packages of hamburger meat off a freezer shelf, hoping in vain to locate a forgotten pound of butter buried in the back under some frost.

It could be that I got going on that paragraph and couldn’t find a logical time to stop.  Just save yourself (or me, apparently) the emotional trauma of running out of butter by always keeping a nice supply on hand.

So butter.  You’ll need it for this recipe.  You’ll also need flour and sugar.  Plus a bowl, a spoon, and a pan.  That’s it.   Could it be any easier?

Quick and Easy Shortbread

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I use freshly ground hard white wheat for this)
1/4 cup sucanat (or brown sugar if you prefer)
3/4 cup melted butter

Blend all ingredients well.  Press mixture into a 9×9 inch baking pan.  Bake in a 350° oven for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.  Cook and cut into 12 squares.

Quick and Easy Shortbread

As you can see, this is a no-brainer recipe.  I discovered it as I’ve been working on a brand new healthy snacks eBook.   This shortbread can be stirred up and put into the oven within just a few minutes.  We love it because it is just lightly sweetened, and deliciously buttery.  It is awesome with a cup of coffee or tea in the afternoon.

It is worthwhile to note that this is not a snack you’ll want to hand your kids while they are running into the living room you’ve just vacuumed.  This shortbread is a bit crumbly and needs to be eaten while holding ones head directly over a plate while sitting at a table.  Trust me.  I know these things.

And one more thing.  Go check your butter supply.  We’ll all sleep better tonight knowing you’re well stocked.

‘Fess up.  How much butter do you have right now? 

Now, Now. Let’s Not Make This Difficult ~ Easy Orange Chicken, A Super Quick, Real Food Recipe

31 Days 300

Why do we make it hard?  Why do we think that cooking healthier foods always takes a long time?  Relax now.  My recipes are all made with real food, and most all of them are very low maintenance.  This Easy Orange Chicken recipe will prove it.

The truth is that eating a real food diet is actually rather simple.  We just have to get the hang of it.  We just have to plan ahead a little bit.  We just have to buy some chicken – at least if you want to make this recipe.  I think I had this dish in the oven after about five minutes of prep time.  That’s faster than making a box of mac and cheese, and I think it goes without saying that this tastes much better.

High Five Recipes

Have you scrolled through all of my High Five Recipes?  If not, you should.  If so, you should again.  They are all high quality recipes which call for five ingredients or less.  We’re talking everything from main dishes, to side dishes, to snacks and desserts.  Real food.  Real easy.  So how about a new High Five Recipe?

Easy Orange Chicken

1 cup orange juice
2 Tablespoons onion soup mix
10-12 chicken legs

Place chicken legs in a 9×13 inch baking dish.  Stir together orange juice and onion soup mix.  Pour mixture over the chicken.  Cover and bake in a 375° oven for 45 minutes.  Uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Variation:

Pour orange juice mixture over 6 chicken boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  Bake in a 375° oven for 25 minutes, then uncover and bake for an additional 5 minutes or until juices run clear.

Easy Orange Chicken

During the final few minutes of cook time for your chicken, put together two or three vegetable side dishes.  Brown rice is also wonderful with this chicken.  Your meal will be satisfying, delicious, and you won’t even break a sweat preparing it.

Having homemade MSG-free Onion Soup Mix on hand is always super helpful.  In fact, I encourage you to spend a few minutes putting together several of the seasoning mixes you’ll find on this page.  They save so much time, taste so much better than purchased packets, are much healthier, and save money too!

I hope you’re beginning to see that eating a real food diet really isn’t complicated.  What are your favorite “throw it together” healthy meals?

Easy Homemade Nacho Cheese Pretzel Dip

Obviously, this nacho cheese dip can be eaten with other foods beyond pretzels.  I’m thinking tortilla chips, steamed veggies, popcorn chicken

But with these Homemade Soft Pretzel Bites?  So delicious!

What’s fun about this recipe is that you can make it as spicy or as mild as you like.  In fact, our family made individual bowls of the cheese dip, then added as much hot sauce as we each prefered.

Easy Nacho Cheese Pretzel Dip

4 ounces cream cheese
8 ounces cheddar cheese, cut into cubes
1 to 1 1/2 cups milk
hot sauce to taste (we like Cholula)

In a medium saucepan, slowly melt cream cheese and cheddar cheese cubes on medium low heat, stirring constantly.  Once melted, gradually add milk and whisk together while continuing to heat.  Once the sauce reaches the consistency you desire, remove from heat and serve – adding hot sauce to taste.

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My boys were so impressed that I was able to make something that tasted so much like the canned fake cheese dip.  But never fear – because this is made with real ingredients, it tastes much better than what comes out of a can.

Let’s take a vote: Who likes the cheese stuff that pours out of a can?  Love it?  Hate it?  Don’t feel bad admitting that you like it. We all have our lingering non-food cravings (says the lady who still chooses Nacho Cheese Doritos when given the opportunity).

Flourless Fudge Cookies

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You can’t go wrong with a recipe that has the word “fudge” in its name.  These cookies are very easy to make and live up to their name.  Mmm, fudgy cookies.  Yes please.

Flourless Fudge Cookies

2 1/4 cups sucanat powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup cocoa powder
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put 2 1/4 cups of sucanat into a blender.  Process until sugar has become powdered.  (Here is a post with picture tutorial showing you how easy this is!)  In a bowl, mix sucanat powdered sugar with the remaining ingredients.  Scoop teaspoon sized balls of batter onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet (very important).  Bake in a 350° oven for 8-10 minutes.  Allow the cookies to cool completely while on the cookie sheet.

If you bake them on a baking stone or try to remove them before they are completely cooled, you’ll end up with this:

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See below, how the cookies sit patiently and cool on their parchment paper so that they will come off the pan nicely?

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Ah yes, that is the way to do it.  These cookies are worth the wait!

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Have you ever made your own powdered sugar with sucanat?  It’s very easy – and these cookies are a great way to experiment with that idea!

Crustless Cheesecake Cups

High Five Recipes 2

Cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts.  In fact, I believe I will have my boys make these for my birthday on Saturday.  Since I’m turning 40, perhaps I could have them double this recipe so we can have 40 little cheesecake cups.  (Why, so I can gain 40 pounds as I celebrate?)  Yeah, we’ll just stick with a single batch.

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Crustless Cheesecake Cups

2 – 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup real maple syrup or 1 1/2 cups unbleached powdered sugar

In a medium sized bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks form.  In a separate bowl, beat together cream cheese, maple syrup, and vanilla.  Fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture.  Scoop cheesecake mix into about 20 paper-lined muffin cups.  Refrigerate or freeze until ready to serve.  Top with fresh fruit.

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These Crustless Cheesecake Cups are so easy to make and since they freeze well, they can be made ahead of time.  You can even serve them frozen.  Delish!

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Caramel Oatmeal Bars {High Five Recipe}

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I wanted to include a recipe or two in my Celebrating 40 festivities.  But how was I supposed to do that when everything about the celebration has to do with the number 40?  I don’t have any recipes with 40 ingredients (you’re welcome).

I decided that the exact opposite of a recipe with 40 ingredients is a recipe with only 5 ingredients.  Sort of.  So I am including this High Five Recipe in my celebration.  It’s one of the easiest and quickest you’ll ever make.

Caramel Oatmeal Bars

1 cup butter, melted
1 1/3 cups sucanat
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 1/2 cups rolled oats

Stir all five ingredients together.  Press mixture into a 9×13 inch baking dish.  Bake at 350° for 10 minutes until ingredients have melted together and become lightly brown.  Cut into bars while hot.

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Beyond eating these bars as is, we have also discovered that crumbling one onto a bowl of vanilla ice cream is incredibly delicious.

Need more High Five Recipes? (high quality recipes, five ingredients or less)  Find lots and lots of them here!

Homemade Chocolate Caramel Cups

Chocolate Caramel Cups

Can I interest you in a Chocolate Caramel Cup recipe to go along with the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup recipe I shared earlier this week?

Upon typing that sentence, I am suddenly reminded of Mrs. Hendricks, my really, really old 2nd grade teacher.  Seriously, she had to have been at least 33.  She taught us how to carry the 1 when adding double digits and she would never let any of us say the word can.

We would frequently forget this rule, saying in our best whiny 7 year old voices, “Mrs. Hendricks?  Can I get a drink of water?” And she would say, “I don’t know.  Can you?”  We would then roll our eyes without her seeing us because we were really sneaky and cunning and besides at her age, surely her failing eyesight wouldn’t allow her to see our facial expressions clearly.  Obligingly we would come back with, “I mean, may I get a drink of water?”  I believe those of us who shall remain nameless who were really sweet and running for teacher’s pet of the year award also added a please in there too.

To this day, I am not able to say can I without switching to may I and I think I might also roll my eyes a little bit while I’m saying it.  Old habits die hard.

So, can I interest you in this wonderful recipe to go along with the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup recipe?  And together, with all of the second graders and Mrs. Hendricks we say, “I don’t know.  Can you?”

Chocolate Caramel Cups 

1 cup chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup homemade caramel sauce

First, whisk together a batch of Homemade Caramel Sauce.  You won’t need it all for this recipe, but get yourself some vanilla ice cream and you’ll be serving the best caramel sundaes with the leftovers.

Prepare 6 regular sized or 16 mini-sized muffin cups with paper liners.  In a small saucepan, heat chocolate chips and butter, stirring until melted.  Spoon half of the melted chocolate mixture into the prepared paper-lined muffin cups.

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Place a spoonful of caramel sauce (hot or cold) into each cup, dividing the mixture evenly among the cups.  Top each with the remaining chocolate, smoothing it the best you can to cover the caramel.

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Refrigerate for two hours until solid. (Or place in the freezer for about thirty minutes to speed the process.)  Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

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Can I challenge you to refrain from eating these all in one sitting?  {I don’t know.  Can you?}

Homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups {Real Food Recipe Makeover}

This recipe was inspired by Laura S., someone I met at the Colorado Springs Meet and Greet.  Not only was her idea brilliant, I think her name is absolutely beautiful.  ;)

I wasn’t able to make these Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups look perfect and beautiful like one you’d pull out of a Reese’s wrapper.  But I did make them taste better, so we’ll go with “taste before beauty” on this one.  And of course, with these, you avoid the hydrogenated oils and turn out an even more delicious treat than one that comes from a factory.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
Warning:  These are super rich and slightly messy.  Children and adults alike may end up with chocolaty fingers and faces, not to mention a sugar high.  You’re welcome and I’m sorry.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

1/4 cup natural peanut butter
2 teaspoons honey
1 cup chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons Butter

Stir together peanut butter and honey in a small bowl.  Set aside.  Prepare six regular sized or 15 mini-sized muffin cups with paper liners.

In a small saucepan, melt chocolate chips and butter, stirring until melted.  Spoon half of the melted chocolate mixture into the prepared paper-lined muffin cups.

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Place a spoonful of peanut butter mixture into each cup, dividing the mixture evenly among the cups.  Top each with the remaining chocolate, smoothing it the best you can to cover the peanut butter.

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Refrigerate for two hours until solid. (Or place in the freezer for about thirty minutes to speed the process.)  Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

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You’ll be happy to know that while playing with this idea, I also came up with a Chocolate Caramel Cup.  Recipe coming soon…

Homemade Grape Nuts Cereal

A huge thank you to Michelle for telling me about this recipe idea!!

High Five Recipes 2

First of all, I have to ask – because I know you’re all dying to know the answer to this as well:  Why is this cereal called “Grape Nuts” when there are neither grapes nor nuts included in the list of ingredients?  Haven’t you always wondered about that?  Who named this cereal?  And why, if they were going to call it something random like this, did they not call it “Pickle Sprouts” or Olive Berries?”  How about “Banana Seeds?”  I mean, if we’re going for titles that don’t make sense…

Yeah, don’t waste much time pondering that paragraph.

At the Colorado Springs Meet & Greet, we talked about everything from kids and media time to cereal.  When Michelle told us she made a cereal like this, we all got super excited!

Homemade Grape Nuts

Looks like the real deal, huh? This cereal is pretty tasty with berries!

Homemade Grape Nuts is super easy to make, and I personally think it tastes better than the boxed stuff.  Can you guess my kids’ first question when I introduced them to this at breakfast?   “Looks good, but why is it called Grape Nuts?”  I don’t know, Son.  I don’t know.

Homemade Grape Nuts Cereal

3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I use freshly ground hard white wheat)
1 cup sucanat (or brown sugar)
2 cups buttermilk (or milk mixed with 2 Tablespoons vinegar)
2/3 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

Mix all ingredients together, beating well until smooth.  Spread mixture onto a parchment paper lined (or well buttered) cookie sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes in a 375° oven. Remove cereal from the oven, and cool completely.  Once cool, grind in a food processor until it becomes “crumb like.”

Return crumbs to cookie sheet or a large baking pan.  Bake in a 250° oven for one hour or until crisp, stirring every 15 minutes.

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I found it easiest to bake the crumbs in a dish with sides (my 10×15 pyrex) so that I could stir more easily.

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Cool the cereal and store it in an air tight container in the pantry (for about two weeks) or freezer (for up to two months).

The geek in me decided to do the math to see if this was not only a High Five Recipe, but a Real Food Dollar Menu recipe as well.  Sure enough!  It took about $2.00 to make a batch of this cereal – using all organic ingredients.  This makes about twice as much cereal as you would find in a regular sized box of Grape Nuts.  When’s the last time you were able to buy a box of whole grain, organic cereal for a buck?

Looking for more meals on our Real Food Dollar Menu? Here are the recipes I’ve shared so far:

Tell me you’ve always wondered where Grape Nuts got its name.  And by always, I obviously mean, “Yes, I’ve pondered that for a second or two once in my life.”

Pineapple Mango Smoothies (No Sugar Added – Dairy Free Option)

High Five Recipes 2

We were on our way home from Kansas City after a weekend event our boys had participated in.  The event had been awesome, our boys had done great, and we were all flying high.  Except for Asa (our 15 year old) and me.  It appeared that the two of us were coming down with the flu.  Our throats hurt, our chests burned, and we both began to get feverish.  Our eyes were red and achy.  Our heads pounded.

(Great story so far, eh?)

We were both a little bit hungry, although nothing really sounded good to eat.  We had packed food, but all of it seemed too difficult to eat.  Funny how the normally simple act of chewing takes so much energy when you’re sick.  All I could think of was, “I just want a smoothie.”  (Well, and “I just want my bed.” But out on the interstate, a few hours from home, that was not an option.)

Matt, bless his heart, was determined to find his feverish bride a smoothie.  We finally managed to find a place that had some decent options (without too many funky, sugary ingredients).  I chose a pineapple mango variety and aside from the fact that it was cold and made my chills just a little bit more miserable – I had never enjoyed a smoothie more.  It was so refreshing.  It was just what Asa and I needed.  We slept the rest of the way home.

Asa and I are all better now.  In fact, this all happened a couple of months ago.  But ever since, I’ve been craving a Pineapple Mango Smoothie.  I typically make my smoothies with berries – which we love.  But the refreshment that comes from pineapple, mango, and orange juice all blended up in a glass?  I knew I needed to recreate this treasure.

It’s not hard to make – you just need five simple ingredients.  Add a little maple syrup or stevia if it’s not sweet enough for you.  We think it’s sweet enough as is.  Coconut milk makes it taste great and offers a dairy free option if you need it.  We like it with plain, whole milk yogurt.  I think I may make these every single day this summer.

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Pineapple Mango Smoothie

1 1/2 cups frozen mango chunks
1 1/2 cups frozen pineapple chunks
1 cup orange juice
2 cups plain yogurt or coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place all ingredients into a blender or food processor together.  Blend until smooth.  Makes 4-6 servings.

Pineapple Mango Smoothie

What’s your favorite fruit smoothie combination?  For the record, I don’t recommend getting the flu before trying this.  It’s much more fun to eat when you can hold your head up off the pillow.