Gluten Free Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies 1 | Espresso and Cream

Lately I’ve really become captivated by the idea of simplicity and minimalism. It started with building a capsule wardrobe (more on that soon) and after I finished, I looked at my closet, so empty and uncluttered and scaled down to what I truly loved to wear and something started to click. In the past few weeks I’ve been digging and sorting through the junk drawer in our kitchen (does everyone have one of those?) and our pantry filled with kitchen appliances. It spilled over into the giant collection of magazines that I’ve kept for years; I tossed all but my favorite old issues of Gourmet and a few items of my own published work. I’ve been selling unused kitchen appliances and giving away cookbooks that I’ve collected over the years and just don’t have room to store. My house is starting to feel like a clean-running machine rather than a car loaded down with stuff.

A little voice in my head kept saying, “I need less.” “I want less!” You see, if I’m not careful I find myself getting caught up in the fallacy that I need more and more. I finish a much-needed living room remodel and start to fixate on other rooms in our house. Rooms that don’t really need to be updated, but something inside me whispers that if I just changed that one little thing, I would be happier.

So lately, when I start to think that I need more than I really do, I remind myself that I would rather spend my life living rather than managing my stuff and trying to keep up with the latest and greatest.

Gluten Free Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies 2 | Espresso and CreamI guess some of that simplicity-seeking has translated into my cooking at home, too. I’ve been baking with less sugar, imagining that’s probably the way that my grandma baked living on the farm all those years ago. It’s been nice, in this era of hyper-sweetened desserts, to sit down and enjoy a really simple, lightly sweet cookie that tastes like something you could eat every day rather than something you can only enjoy on a birthday or special occasion. And, I suppose, with each of these cookies only having 135 calories per cookie, you certainly could have one every day.

Gluten-Free Healthy Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies
Author: 
Serves: 15
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup creamy natural peanut butter
  • ¼ to ½ cup brown sugar (I used ¼ for lightly sweet cookies, use ½ C if you want sweeter cookies)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup Chex gluten-free instant oats or other instant gluten-free oats of choice
  • 2 large eggs
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients until well combined. Roll dough into 15 balls, a little more than 1-inch in diameter. Use a fork sprayed with cooking spray to press a criss-cross pattern into the tops of the cookies.
  3. Bake on cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray 8 minutes or until edges are set and just golden brown. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet. Cool completely on wire cooling rack, about 10 minutes.

 

Thai Chopped Salad (2) | Espresso and Cream
Last month I developed a Thai Chicken and Kale Chopped Salad recipe for the Tasteseekers Kitchen blog at work that I’ve since made a handful of times. Big, colorful salads are one of my favorite things to make for lunch and dinner, especially when the salad is substantial enough to keep you full and satisfied hours later.

This past weekend Joe helped one of his friends paint his house. It was a two-day ordeal that involved quite a few hours out in the sun so when they got done on Saturday night and headed to our house for a late dinner, I was in charge of preparing a side dish to go with their very large grilled steaks. Steaks and a vegan salad: It goes together, right? I didn’t exactly set out with the intention of making this recipe vegan, but as I chopped and tossed things together, I realized that’s just what I did.

Don’t be intimidated by all the ingredients, chopping and making of your own dressing. I promise that it really is quite simple, and the flavors of all the fresh veggies paired with the thai peanut dressing is nothing short of amazing. The recipe itself serves quite a bit, enough for four main-dish portions or six to seven smaller side-dish sized salads. I highly suggest chopping all the ingredients in advance and making the dressing, then tossing everything together just before you plan to eat. And since the ingredients in this salad are heartier than, say, a Romaine lettuce salad, dressing the salad a little early won’t leave your salad soggy.

Thai Chopped Salad (1) | Espresso and Cream

Vegan Thai Chopped Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree, Side Dish
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • SALAD INGREDIENTS
  • 10 cups finely chopped kale, stems removed
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bag (16 oz) coleslaw mix
  • 4 miniature red sweet peppers, thinly sliced (or ½ cup chopped red sweet pepper)
  • 3 medium carrots, grated
  • 2 green onions, sliced (white and green parts)
  • THAI PEANUT DRESSING
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • ⅓ cup hot water
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha or other hot sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
Instructions
  1. In a very large bowl, combine the kale and olive oil. Work together the kale and olive oil with your hands until kale is evenly coated with the oil. Add the remaining salad ingredients to bowl.
  2. To make dressing, whisk together the peanut butter and hot water until smooth. Whisk in the remaining ingredients until well combined. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss until well combined and salad is evenly coated.

 

 

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Next month Joe and I will celebrate three years of marriage. I’m tempted to say that I can’t believe it, but that’s only partly true. It’s so strange how these past three years feel long and short all at once. I feel like it was just yesterday that we got married on that beautiful summer morning in July, but it also feels like we’ve been married for a lifetime. We’ve experienced so much life in the past three years that sometimes I get tired just thinking about it; I can’t imagine what the next three years will bring.

The past two weeks Joe and I have been traveling a lot for work, and we’ve been on opposite schedules because of that travel. While sleeping in a king-sized bed all to myself the other night (!!!), I got to thinking about the little compromises that we make, like every other married couple, that keeps our relationship going strong.*

1. Where We Live
If it were up to me, I think I could be happy living in a town home with just a little piece of grass for the rest of my life. Either that or a very small house with a very small yard. Joe, on the other hand, needs space and a yard and lots of house projects to work on. It keeps him happy, sane and stress-free. So our compromise is to live in a modest-sized house with a reasonably sized yard.

2. My Last Name
Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while remember that I struggled with what to do with my last name. Take Joe’s last name? Or keep mine? Joe didn’t pressure me in one way or another. And I settled on taking both last names! I’m Mayberry at work at Hofmeyer at home with our friends and family. And, in case you’re wondering, our kiddos will be just plain Hofmeyer.

3. Our Pets
Joe would have preferred having big dogs. I never thought I wanted dogs, until I found a breed I love. And that, my friends, is how we ended up with two Cavaliers. Joe would agree now that they are the best dogs around.

4. How We Eat
Slowly over the past few years, Joe has become more of a healthy eater than he was when we dated or first got married. I love that he’s eating healthier, but I don’t expect him to eat mostly vegetarian like me. Instead, I prepare meat for his meals regularly as long as he is willing to eat vegetarian a few nights a week. Additionally, I prefer to shop at Whole Foods for a certain amount of our groceries, which Joe used to hate, but now he understands how much it means to me and has come around.

5. Splitting Household Responsibilities
When we first got married, I was really worried that I would be getting a second “job” with all the wifely duties I would take on. Thankfully Joe understood my fears and has made every effort to help out around the house. I do what I’m best at, such as grocery shopping, cooking the meals, packing lunches, washing the sheets and making the beds, and Joe does what he’s best at, including taking out the trash, letting out the dogs and feeding them, giving the dogs baths, doing the yard work and cleaning the bathrooms. It’s nice to have someone to split the responsibilities with and makes our marriage feel more like a partnership.

What marital compromises do you married folk make that keep your marriage running smoothly? 

*I think it goes without saying, but this list is on the lighter side. There are, of course, many other compromises we make that are not mentioned.

Banana Bundt Cake 1 | Espresso and Cream

Last night I flew into NYC for work for a couple days. As I flew into the city, I got a little nostalgic thinking about all the memories that I’ve made in this place. My first trip to New York was when I was a freshman in college and my dad took our whole family here over Christmas and New Year’s. I remember how overwhelmed and shocked I was as we flew in, seeing the density of the buildings in such a tiny amount of space, unlike anything I had seen before.

A couple years later I visited New York quite regularly on my own while filming for The Rachael Ray Show. Although I was well taken care of, I’m sure my parents were a little bit nervous sending their 21-year-old daughter off on her own week after week to film a television show.

I remember being in Rockefeller Center on election night in 2008 and then back there in 2010 getting engaged to Joe next to the tree with a crowd full of strangers cheering as he got down on one knee.  And then back to NYC for another round of The Rachael Ray Show’s All-Stars edition in 2011.

Without a doubt, I love visiting this place and remembering everything I’ve experienced here, but I always really, really love going home, too. And I realize what a gift it is to love your home and what you have more than anywhere else you could possibly travel to our visit. (Although if Joe told me we were moving to Italy, I wouldn’t be all that upset…)

Banana Bundt Cake 2 | Espresso and Cream

 

I suppose I’ve gotten terribly off track with my little walk down memory lane. This post is really supposed to be about this Low Sugar Banana Bundt Cake. It didn’t take long for us to fall in love with this recipe in the Hofmeyer house. I’ve been playing around with using a lot less sugar in my baking at home but sometimes I’m disappointed with the texture of lower sugar treats. Thankfully this cake doesn’t disappoint! It’s absolutely light and fluffy and delicious, with just a hint of sweetness from the bananas and a small amount of honey.

After I turned the bundt cake out, I decided to add a drizzle of dark chocolate. This is only really necessary if you plan on serving this cake as a healthier dessert or want it to taste a little sweeter. You could easily leave off the chocolate drizzle, or even turn the batter into muffins for a healthy breakfast on the go!

Low Sugar Banana Bundt Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: dessert, snack, breakfast
Serves: 16
 
This batter would also make fantastic low-sugar muffins for kids and healthy adults!
Ingredients
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ⅓ cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped (optional)
  • Chocolate Drizzle
  • ⅓ cup dark chocolate, melted
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 325°F.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine all the above ingredients except the dark chocolate. Stir until just combined and ingredients are evenly mixed. Pour batter into a well-greased 10- or 12-cup bundt pan.
  3. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in pan. Turn cake out onto wire cooling rack and cool completely, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Once cake has cooled, drizzle with melted chocolate, if desired.

 

FridgePeek_1
I guess I’m a little bit of a snoopy person, or as I would prefer to think about it, I’m just naturally curious. I’m endlessly fascinated with what people eat for breakfast, what they buy at the grocery store and what the inside of their fridge looks like. There aren’t many things that truly gross me out, but one of the things that gets me every time is a fridge that is bursting to the seams with food. I’m sorry if you fall into that category, but the idea that there is food in the back of a fridge that may be expired or rotting or kept at less than ideal conditions just gets me every time.

That said, our fridge is always operating at lean as possible while still having everything we need for the week. With the exception of eggs, milk, yogurt and butter (which, as you know, we buy in bulk at Costco most of the time) we usually only have just enough food to get us through the week. I’m not super Type A in all things, but I certainly am in this manner.

So what’s in our fridge? Let’s dive in!

FridgePeek_2
Top Shelf
Greek Yogurt: Joe prefers Greek yogurt with fruit while I favor plain Greek yogurt so we stock up on both types.
Eggs: As I mentioned in my last post, I buy cage-free, organic eggs from Costco in bulk.
Fresh Berries: We usually have one or two types of fresh berries on hand. These organic raspberries are from Costco.

Second Shelf
Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread: For lunches throughout the week for Joe and toast for breakfast
Jumbo Costco Container of Sabra Hummus: We go through hummus like crazy!
Guacamole Packs: These don’t last long at our house, either. I love guacamole with my sweet potatoes and on salads.
Meatloaf: Sometimes I bring home food leftovers from projects at work. This meatloaf will make quick meals for Joe this week.

FridgePeek_3
Third Shelf
Mini Sweet Peppers: These are so easy to toss onto salads or use as dippers with hummus, guacamole or salsa.
Organic Hearts of Romaine Lettuce: We usually have two bags of lettuce for the week. I love large salads for lunch so it doesn’t last long.

Fourth Shelf
Organic Whole Milk: We switched to whole milk a while back and I love it! It feels like a treat every time I put it in my coffee, which is usually the only time I drink milk.
Almond Milk: For smoothies and oatmeal.
Burger Buns: White bread! My hubby prefers white bread for his burgers and I can’t say I blame him. Sometimes classic is best.

Produce Drawer (not pictured)
Costco-Sized Bag of Green Beans
2 bunches of kale
4 zucchini
Bag of celery
2 heads of broccoli

Beer Drawer (also not pictured)
Yes, Joe gets a whole drawer for beer. And most of the time that drawer is totally stuffed!

What’s your fridge style? Do you stuff your fridge to the max or keep it lean and streamlined? I’m guessing that once we have kids it may be a little harder to keep our fridge this organized, but for now I love having it all in order. 

Madison

 

 

 

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