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

Authentic Gyros (without the spit)

If you know even the slightest thing about me, you know I am a darn sucker for a gyro sandwich. Whether it’s in line at 1am after too much wine in my much younger, more hip days or takeout from our favorite hole in the wall local gas station, I am a proud, obsessed supporter of that perfectly flavored, juices running down your arm, all wrapped up in a pita bundle of goodness. And fortunately, my hubs and kiddos are equally on board.

I mean what’s really better than seeing them slice that glorious, salty, savory meat off that spinning spit? It’s magical. I get all giddy just thinking about it. I’ve always wished that I could have my own spit at home…and someday when I have that giant industrial kitchen I’ve been dreaming about it just may happen. But for now, I’m left with no other option than to research the heck out of that there Interweb and find a way to make that melt-in-your-mouth meat sans the spit.

And thanks to good old Epicurious, my dreams have come true! This is an unbeatable method, guys, for achieving a truly authentic, perfectly textured and flavored meat. And the best part is that if you can make a meatloaf, you’ll rock the heck out of this recipe!

It’s perfect for weekdays…from here on out I’ll make the meat on Sunday’s, let it chill in the fridge overnight and then serve it all week long for quick, easy meals. . The chilling is key so that the flavors all develop and the texture becomes perfectly sliceable. After you make the meat and it has chilled, all that’s left to do is fry it up and pack it in a pita with all the goods. You can also pile it on a salad or serve it bowl-style with rice or quinoa. Winning, friends. Straight up winning!

Authentic Gyros (without the spit)

Note: you can very easily swap the lamb for ground beef here

Adapted from this recipe

Ingredients

For the Gyro Meat

1 Yellow Onion, grated

1 Pound Ground Lamb

1/2 Pound Ground Pork

2 Large Garlic Cloves, grated or pressed

2 Tablespoons Fresh Chopped Parsley

2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt

3/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper

1 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard

1 Teaspoon Ground Corriander

1/2 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika

2 Eggs

Olive Oil, for frying

For the Sandwiches

Pita Bread, slightly grilled or warmed

Rich Mans Salad, for topping *recipe here

Yogurt Sauce, for topping *recipe here

Directions

For the Gyro Meat

Preheat oven to 375 and grease an 8×8 glass baking dish with olive oil.

Grate the onion in a large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir gently with your hands until combined. Add the meat mixture to the prepared baking dish and gently pack it in and smooth out the top with your hands. Bake for 50 minutes or until nicely browned on top and the edges are starting to come away from the pan. Remove, chill to room temperature and cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.

When you’re ready to serve the gyros add about 1/4 Cup olive oil to a pan (i use cast iron) and heat over medium high heat. Remove the meat from the baking dish with a large spatula and slice it as thin as you are able with a serrated knife. Fry the slices in olive oil, adding more oil if necessary as you go, until deep golden brown, turning occasionally.

For the Sandwiches

Pile the meat in pita bread and top with Rich Mans Salad and Yogurt Sauce.

Summer Mixed Grill with Cilantro Sauce


If food was music, this right here would be our summer anthem, friends. Behold my favorite kind of meal, right here…in every way, shape and form!

It’s going on repeat..like once a week for sure. The Cilantro Sauce may be used as a meal in itself, with a spoon…you totally have my okay to do that. Pure, unabandoned flavor is all that I can say with this stuff. It takes any ordinary meal off that charts. It’s zingy, creamy, and so fresh tasting…we just love it so much! Continue reading

“Mexican Street Taco” Lettuce Wraps


Just in time for Cinco De Mayo, dear friends! At first I thought, Who really needs another taco recipe? But I answered myself with Everyone! Everyone on this glorious planet needs another taco recipe, obviously! I mean, can you ever really have too many? Not if your family is anything like my Mexican-loving one.

But this one? This recipe? It trumps all. I’m proclaiming that these are MY FAVE TACO that’s ever come out of this kitchen. Shouting it from a mountaintop. And I’ve got a few good reasons  Continue reading

Cranberry Almond Muffins


I hope you all had a wonderful thanksgiving! And now we enter the holidays…bring on the warm, cozy food! It’s a great time of year to utilize all of the gorgeous fresh cranberries around and this recipe celebrates them in the most wonderful way.

It took me a couple try’s to get this recipe right….and now, I feel pretty darn good sharing it with you because man, oh man, are they a treat! 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

Quick Grilled Fish + Pineapple Tacos with Chipotle Sour Cream


I’m always looking for a way to switch up taco Tuesday around here. And here is a quick favorite these days.

While the chipotle sour cream is such a cinch to make, preparing it over the weekend can make this meal so weeknight friendly with hardly any prep at all. The combination of smokey grilled fish, sweet, lightly charred pineapple, crunchy cabbage and chipotle sour cream is seriously so dreamy you guys!  Continue reading