Pumpkin Banana Bread

All things pumpkin are in full effect! Are you loving it or ready to move right into peppermint for the holidays?

We are embracing it over here…I love the warm spices that meld so wonderfully with the flavor of pumpkin. And this Pumpkin Banana Bread is the perfect display of that.

It screams fall with just the perfect amount of cozy spices and warm maple flavor. The combination of pumpkin and banana is such a good thing. And if you want to take it up to the level of perfection, sprinkle a bit of cinnamon and coconut sugar on top of the loaf before you bake it…heavenly!

It’s so much more healthful than your standard banana bread recipe, and you won’t miss all that refined sugar one bit, i promise!

Pumpkin Banana Bread

Note: you can buy oat flour at most markets…but it’s super simple and much cheaper to make your own at home. Just place rolled oats in a food processor or blender and process until the oats are very fine and flour-like.

Ingredients

1 1/4 Cups Oat Flour * see note

1/2 Cup White Whole Wheat or All Purpose Flour

1 Teaspoon Baking Soda

1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

1/2 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg

1/2 Teaspoon Salt

1/4 Teaspoon Allspice

1 Cup Canned Pumpkin

1/2 Cup Mashed Ripe Banana (approx 1 Banana)

1/2 Cup Pure Maple Syrup

6 Tablespoons Melted Unsalted Butter, slightly cooled

2 Large Eggs

1 Teaspoon Vanilla

Optional topping: 1 Tablespoon Coconut Sugar mixed with 2 Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9×5 loaf pan or mini loaf pan with butter. Place the flours, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and allspice in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.

In a large bowl whisk together the pumpkin, banana, maple syrup, butter, eggs and vanilla until combined. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and stir until just combined. Pour batter in prepared loaf pan and sprinkle with coconut sugar/cinnamon topping if desired.

Bake for 1 hour, if using a 9×5, or approximately 30 minutes if using a mini loaf pan, or until toothpick is inserted an comes out clean. Slightly cool before slicing.

Walnut Crusted Chicken Autumn Salad

Truth: I have no idea where this salad came from. I was in kitchen madness mode…one thing led to another with no plans in sight and this salad is what we ended up with. And I must note, it was a wonderful WONDERFUL ending.

The chicken has just the perfect crunch and flavor…and paired with roasted beets, sweet pears, tangy goat cheese and a mustard-balsamic vinaigrette…I’m basically just salivating at the mere thought of it!

It’s a lovely switch up to boring old chicken salads and I think our future will see much much more of this crusted chicken..so num!

Walnut Crusted Chicken Autumn Salad

Ingredients

For the Vinaigrette

1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar

3 Teaspoons Pure Maple Syrup

3 Teaspoons Dijon Mustard

3/4 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

1/8 Teaspoon Pepper

For the Salad

1/4 Cup + 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil, divided

1 Pound Beets

1 Cup Walnuts

2 Tablespoons Corn Starch

1 Egg + 2 Tablespoons Water

1 Pound Chicken Breast Tenderloins, seasoned liberally with salt and pepper

2 Tablespoons Butter

7 Ounces Arugula

1 Ripe Pear, diced

1 Avocado, diced

1 Cup Cooked Quinoa, optional

1/2 Cup Crumbled Goat Cheese

Directions

For the Vinaigrette

Place all ingredients in a glass jar, cover with a lid and shake well to combine. Alternatively, whisk together in a small bowl. Set aside or refrigerate for up to 4 days, bringing it back to room temp before serving.

For the Salad

Preheat oven to 400. Season beets with salt and pepper and drizzle with 1 Tablespoon olive oil; toss to coat. Wrap each beet tightly in foil and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until beets are tender. Remove from foil, let cool slightly and rub the peel off with your fingers (wrapping them in foil will help the peel slide right off). Dice peeled beets and set aside.

Add the walnuts and corn starch to the bowl of a food processor and pulse about 10-15 times or until walnuts are chopped fine. Place the mixture on a large plate.

Mix the egg and water together in a large bowl.

Heat 1/4 cup olive oil and butter in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the seasoned chicken to the egg mixtures and toss to coat well. One by one, dredge the egg-coated chicken in the walnut mixture and place in the prepared pan. Cook chicken for 2-3 minutes, or until crust in nicely browned, flip and then repeat on the other side. Remove from pan once cooked through.

Add the arugula, beets, pears, avocado, quinoa and goat cheese to a large bowl. Drizzle on half of the vinaigrette and gently toss to coat, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Divide salad among serving plates and top with a piece of crusted chicken. Drizzle remaining vinaigrette on top, as desired. Serves 4

Jude’s Chicken Lo Mein

Hey there! How we doing on this lovely Thursday? I’d like to share the fact that I saw snowflakes fall from the sky here in Minnesota this morning. I’d also like to say a lot more about the situation, but my tact is telling me to keep the bitter thoughts to myself. So instead, why don’t we just go ahead and dive into a big ol bowl of comforting Lo Mein? Let’s eat our feelings today, friends. It’s totally okay.

My little Judebugs favorite meal is Lo Mein. The slurpable, sticky-sweet combo makes his tummy so darn happy-and I’m right there with him. And while Asian food isn’t at the top of my daughters or husbands list, this is an Asian meal I can make in a jiffy that everyone in the fam approves of.

Since we learned that Rocco has a sesame allergy I’ve had to play around quite a bit with Lo Mein to get the taste just right without using sesame oil. But right here, we have the winner winner Chicken Lo Mein Dinner that will now be my new go-to.

It beats the cost and nutrient profile of your standard Lo Mein takeout..and I have to say it tastes equally as delish, all with such little work. So here’s to many many more “Jude’s Choice” dinners being served…I just love it when I can dish up the meals my family loves to eat out right in the comfort of our own kitchen!

Jude’s Chicken Lo Mein

Ingredients

For the Sauce

1/2 Cup Tamari (soy sauce can be subbed)

1/4 Cup Honey

1 Teaspoon Fish Sauce

1 Teaspoon Sriracha

1 Teaspoon Rice Vinegar

2 Cloves Garlic, grated or pressed

For the Chicken Lo Mein

16 Ounces Brown Rice Spaghetti Noodles

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1 – 1 1/2 Pounds Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces

2 Heaping Cups Broccoli Florets

1 Cup Sugar Snap Peas

3/4 Cup Sliced Carrots

3 Green Onions, thinly sliced

Directions

For the Sauce

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

For the Chicken Lo Mein

Cook the pasta according to package directions, cutting the cook time short by about 1 minute (the pasta will finish cooking in the sauce when you mix it together); drain and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add it to the pan in a single layer. Cook for two minutes, give it a stir, and finish cooking until chicken is just cooked through, stirring as needed. Stir in the broccoli, snap peas and carrots and cook for 30 seconds. Add 1 Tablespoon warm water to the pan, cover, reduce heat to medium and cook until the veggies are crisp-tender, about 2 minutes.

Remove the lid, turn the heat up to medium high and stir in the sauce. Let the sauce cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add pasta to the sauce and gently stir to coat. Stir in green onions and serve. Serves 4-6

15 Minute Shrimp Pasta with Garlic Cream Sauce

Comfort food season seems to be quickly approaching around here and we are welcoming it with open arms. It’s rainy, gloomy and a bit chilly so this pasta dish is totally fitting the bill!

Now when I say 15 minutes, I MEAN 15 minutes..max. You won’t believe how quick and easy this one is..it’s such an awesome one to keep in the rotation for crazy weeknights.

You can use any fresh pasta variety or shape that you like here..think tortellini, fettuccini, etc, but just make sure it’s the “fresh” stuff in the refrigerated section of your market..it makes all the difference in the world. This is the one we use from Trader Joe’s..it’s our fave

Non-dairy friends, you’re going to have to pass this one up. Dairy friends, you’re NOT going to want to pass this one up. Your kids will adore it as much as the grown ups…it’s rich, cheesy and such a goodie!

15 Minute Shrimp Pasta with Garlic Cream Sauce

Note: use any dryer white wine here that you enjoy the taste of..we use a Sauvignon Blanc.

Ingredients

16 Ounces Fresh Pasta

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1 Pound Large Shrimp, peeled and deveined + seasoned liberally with salt and pepper

1 Tablespoon Butter

2 Large Garlic Cloves, finely chopped

1/2 Cup White Wine *see note

2 Cups Heavy Cream

3 Cups Baby Spinach

1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan + more for serving

Directions

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the shrimp in 2 batches, making sure they are in a single layer. Cook for 1-2 minutes per side or until no longer translucent. Repeat with second batch. Remove the shrimp to a plate and set aside.

Add butter to the same pan. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring often. Stir in the wine, scrapping up all the bits from the bottom of the pan, and cook until wine is reduced by about half. Stir in the cream and simmer for five minutes.

Add the pasta, shrimp, spinach and Parmesan to the sauce and gently toss to combine. Serve topped with additional Parmesan, if desired. Serves 4+

Warm Grilled Salmon and Orzo Salad

Well friends, it’s back-to-school day over here! One down, one to go next week and as wonderful and adventurous as our summer was together I think we are all ready for some structure and space…getting back into the swing of schedules is feeling so good already!

Our summer break dinners seemed to be so loosey goosey this year. Most nights, dinner ended up being a game time decision based on how late our day ran. Even if I meal planned for one thing, chances are we’d end up squeezing in one more afternoon activity which made me change the plan for lack of time. So needless to say, this mama is so excited to be back on a schedule of meal plans!

This Grilled Salmon and Orzo Salad is just one of those dishes that will fit so nicely into our weekday dinner plans. It’s super fast and can easily be prepared in under 30 minutes…and if you make the vinaigrette ahead of time you’re looking at 20 minutes or less…can’t complain about that!

It’s the perfect summer to fall transitional dish because it uses all of the wonderful tomatoes available right now, yet it’s got a small bit of a comfort factor while still being light. And it tastes super yum too…an awesome way to switch up how you serve salmon!

To all of you parents sending those kiddos off to school as of recent, I wish you a smooth transition and a wonderful, fun-filled year for both you and the kids. And for you teachers…you are EVERYTHING. Thank you for being such a bright light in our kiddos lives…you are shaping the future, truly!

Xo

Warm Grilled Salmon and Orzo Salad

Adapted from this recipe

Ingredients

For the Vinaigrette

1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/4 Cup Red Wine Vinegar

1 Garlic Clove, grated or pressed

2 Teaspoons Dijon Mustard

1 Teaspoon Maple Syrup

1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

1/8 Teaspoon Black Pepper

For the Salmon/Salad

1 1/2 Cups Orzo

4 (4-6oz) Skinless Salmon Filets, seasoned liberally with salt and pepper

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

4 Cups Baby Spinach

2 Cups Cherry Tomatoes, halved

1/2 Cup Crumbled Feta Cheese

1/4 Cup Toasted Pine Nuts, optional

2 Tablespoons Chopped Basil

Directions

For the Vinaigrette

Place all ingredients in a small jar, cover with a lid and shake until well combined. Can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

For the Salmon/Salad

Cook Orzo according to package directions. Drain and place in a large bowl.

Preheat grill over medium high heat. Drizzle olive oil over salmon and gently rub to ensure the are well coated, adding more oil as necessary. Place Salmon on the grill and cook for 4-5 minutes or until nicely browned on top. Flip and finish cooking until the fish is opaque and cooked thru, about 3 more minutes. Remove salmon to a plate and set aside.

Add the spinach, tomatoes, feta and pine nuts to the Orzo. Drizzle on the vinaigrette and toss gently to coat. Flake the salmon with a fork, divide Orzo Salad among dishes and top with salmon and basil. Serves 4.

Grilled Chicken + Street Corn Grain Bowls

If we are buddies on Instagram chances are you saw this bad boy in my stories a few days ago. I received quite a few recipe requests from you guys so delivering this one to you makes me super excited!

There’s not a whole lot I can say here because nothings going to fully translate how out-of-control-yummy these bowls are until you take a bite. Think Street Corn on steroids…that’s packed with nutrients and vitamins. But the taste? My gosh, you guys, it’s almost just not right! Almost.

You know I’m a condiment gal, through and through. So slap this smokey, savory, slightly tangy sauce on anything and I’m sold. But on top of fresh in season-veggies, perfectly seasoned chicken, sweet corn and hearty, protein packed quinoa completely hits it out of the park.

It’s easy-peasy to put together and the leftovers make outstanding lunches for the rest of the week. This is absolutely in my top 3 favorite recipes that have come to life in my kitchen this summer…I hope you love it as much as we do!

Grilled Chicken + Street Corn Grain Bowls

Ingredients

For the Sauce

1/2 Cup Sour Cream

1/2 Cup Mayonnaise

2 Garlic Cloves, grated or pressed

1 Tablespoon Fresh Lime Juice

1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

1/2 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika

For the Bowls

1 Cup Quinoa, cooked according to package directions

Olive Oil

1 Pound Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast’s

1 Teaspoon Chili Powder

1 Teaspoon Onion Powder

1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

3 Ears Peeled and Cleaned Sweet Corn

2 Red Bell Peppers, sliced in half, stems removed and seeded

1 Zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise

1 Avocado, diced

3 Cups Baby Arugula, loosely packed

1/2 Cup Crumbled Queso Fresco

Fresh Cilantro, for garnish

Directions

For the Sauce

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl, set aside. Can be made up to two days in advance, just store in the refrigerator.

For the Bowls

Preheat outdoor grill to medium high heat.

Drizzle olive oil over the chicken, peppers and zucchini and rub it in to coat. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breasts with chili powder, onion powder and salt.

Place the chicken on the grill and cook on one side until nice dark grill marks form, about 5-6 minutes. Flip chicken over and cook until completely cooked through and juices run clear. Remove from grill and set aside to rest while you grill the remaining ingredients.

Place the corn, peppers and zucchini on the grill and cook, turning occasionally, until grill marks start to form on all sides; do not over cook as you still want them to have a ‘bite’ to them. Remove from heat. Slice the chicken and cut the veggies into bite sized pieces. Cut the kernels of corn off the cob.

In a large bowl gently toss the quinoa, peppers, zucchini, arugula and corn with your hands. Divide among plates and top with avocado, Queso Fresco, and sliced chicken. Top the bowls off with a heaping spoonful of the sauce and cilantro. Serves 4

Baby Food: Savory Lentil and Veggie Purée 


Ok mamas, papas and caregivers…can we talk baby food super briefly?

Man am I learning that sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and go the store bought food route which I’m totally ok with..I love all of the healthful options they make these days and it’s so convenient. But here’s my beef…why do these companies feel the need to make everything taste sweet?! Even if those jars have spinach, green beans or peas in them they often times still wind up putting pears or apples in the bulk of the ingredients. I love that my baby is getting veggies “snuck in” to these varieties because of the nutrients. But I also want him to taste savory…and learn how delicious veggies can be in savory form. Continue reading

Banh Mi Bowls


It is with a giant amount of salivating that I present to you my most favorite recipe these days..the Banh Mi Bowl. I’m getting all giddy already, guys! Too good. Just too stinking good.

If you’ve been hanging out around here for any length of time you’ve probably figured out that I go batty for Asian food in any form…but the Banh Mi Sandwich trumps them all for this gal. Remember this one?  Continue reading

Apple Cinnamon Pastries


It’s starting to officially feel like fall, guys! How have you been celebrating? Give me all the warm coffee, crunchy leaves, cool, refreshing air, pumpkins, corn mazes, scenic colors that will blow your mind…and APPLES! It’s all happening in our neck of the woods and if I could just pile on an extra couple months of this stuff I’d be one over-the-moon mama. Minnesota truly feels like the most magical place this time of year.

We had our annual apple orchard trip a couple weeks ago and, well, if you know me you know that it’s my very favorite family outing of the year. Being stuck in the middle of nowhere surrounded by the most incredible scenery with my four favorite humans just simply isn’t a terrible way to spend a Saturday. We got to show the baby all the ropes this year…and man the big kids are becoming pro pickers! Here are a few photos from the day Continue reading