{Pull yourself together} Kale & Kiwi Smoothie

kale and kiwi smoothie

So here we are.  The Monday after Thanksgiving and at the cusp of holiday treats, festive cocktails and party buffets.  Yes, my friends, just as soon as the Thanksgiving day closes, it seems Christmas and all the calories that come with it begin immediately.

So let's be good for just one day.
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This green monster will make you feel good after the Thanksgiving holiday and give you plenty of room to splurge for the Christmas season (and it just so happens to provide a lot of energy in the meantime). Yep, this will erase anything.

Please allow me to introduce... the kale and kiwi smoothie.

Now I have a feeling that most of you would blow right past this post when you saw kale in a smoothie, but something about that extra slice of pie you had on Thursday and that leftover pie you had on Friday and Saturday kept you reading.
kale and kiwi smoothie 5 
Don't be scared.  This is actually unbelievably delicious.

I would dare to say that if you found yourself on Top Chef and you were in one of those name the ingredient challenges, you would never guess kale.  Besides the groovy color, nothing about this tastes like kale.

So let's be super healthy and sneak a super food into fruit smoothie.  Let's feel light and airy and super skinny.  Am I over promising here?   Well maybe, but here is one more really exciting piece of info.  You do not need a juicer! I love the idea of a juicer, I love the idea drinking fresh juices, but there is just no way my tiny kitchen can take one more honking appliance right now.

Did you know kale and spinach will puree up beautifully in a blender?  Yay.

One for me and one for you... Cheers.
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Kale & Kiwi Smoothie
1 frozen banana, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped kale, stems removed
1 kiwi, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 cups fresh squeezed orange juice
Step by Step
Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until blended smooth.   Pour into 12 ounce glasses and serve.  Add a fancy straw and feel good about yourself.

Makes 2 glasses.

How To: De-Stemming Kale

My line of kale I planted in the garden is busting at the seems with wonderful curly kale.  I am going to try and work this super food into some tasty dishes so before we begin, let's talk about what it means to "remove the stems>"

In most kale dishes you will want to get rid of the stem and just have the leaf so here we go.

Lay out each piece of kale.
stemming kale

Run your knife down each side of the thick stem in the middle.
stemming kale 2
And then it's ready to torn, chopped, pureed or left in whole chunks. kale and kiwi smoothie 5

For an even speedier method, you can fold the leaf on top of each other, like this.  And then you only have to run your knife down the side of the stem once. 


Pecan Tartlets

I am 5'10.  I use to wear a size ten shoe, but if I'm honest with myself, my toes like me a lot better when I let them breathe in a size 11.

Mr. Hungry is 6'4.  We sleep in a California King.  If you are unfamiliar, it's basically a bed for giants... they shave inches off the sides and add them to the length.

You have to be at least 5'9 to possibly have the potential of reaching our microwave.

There is a good chance we could have gargantuan children in the future.
Where am I going with this?

This might just lead to my fascination with all things tiny.   I think these tiny dogs are the bomb, my favorite food growing up was baby corns...(creepy, right?) Anyway...

Mini desserts seem to be all the rage right now, but for good reason.  Who doesn't want to gobble up a few of these little guys?

Now let's get real with the each other..  These are not the fastest thing to throw together.  I tell you this because the last thing I want is for you to be making these the night before Thanksgiving cursing me as you press the crusts in.
What I do want you to do is make these NOW.  Stop reading.. go... come on!! Thanksgiving is soon and you need to get these puppies in the freezer.

Ah, and there it is... the reason I'm even more in love with the minis... they're freezable.  They are fantastic and they taste the exact same out of the freezer quickly warmed in the oven as they do freshly baked.  In fact, you might need to hide them from yourself because they are addicting straight out of the freezer.  And that batch of 36 you made might turn into about 6 if you sneak them away one by one.  I didn't do that... Okay maybe I did.  Whatever.

Once you pop you can't stop...
Come on, let's spice things up.  A slice a pie is so yesterday.  Mini pies are the way of the future.

Happiest Thanksgiving to you.  From my little kitchen to yours... Enjoy.

Pecan Tartlets
For the Crust
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups all- purpose flour
For the Filling
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans
Step by Step
In a bowl, mix cream cheese, butter, and flour together until soft and pliable.  Form dough into balls about the size of your thumb.  Press dough down against bottom and sides of the cups in mini muffin tins to form small cups.  Try to mold the crust as thin as possible without tearing the crust.  Press the ball of dough down in the pan first and then press up the sides.  Freeze for one hour.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large bowl, beat eggs until foamy, and stir in melted butter. Stir in the brown sugar, white sugar and the flour; mix well. Last add the milk, vanilla and nuts.
Pour into prepared mini crusts, just below the crust line.   Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown.

To Freeze:  Let tartlets cool completely.  Place tartlets on a baking sheet, not touching.  Freeze for a few hours or over night.  Once frozen through, wrap tightly in saran wrap and then wrap with freezer wrap or a freezer ziploc.  Freeze for up to two months.  When ready to use, reheat in oven for 5 to 10 minutes at 325 degrees, until warmed through.

Makes 36-42 cups.


Pumpkin Nutella Cupcakes

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At the ripe age of 27, I have yet to take the main responsibility for Thanksgiving dinner.  I have made a side dish or two, but the brunt of responsibility (and the turkey) have yet to come my way (and hoping I have quite a few years before that day comes).

Those that do have this responsibility should be given an award.  All those casseroles... one honking turkey... all hot at the same time with appetizers and pies on either side of the equation to make sure everyone is overly stuffed... big job... big, big job.

If you are in charge, good luck.

 If you are not, turn yourself into a really good guest and make these muffins/ cupcakes.
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There is just something about Nutella that makes everything better.

If this looks a little familiar, that is because without the pecan topping and a different pan, you just saw this a few weeks ago in the form of loaves.
The Nutella surprise seems to be even better in cupcake form.  Bite into this oh so ordinary looking pumpkin bread to be met with a perfect pocket of Nutella.  Oh yeah, this is major.
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But some occasions just call for the oh so wonderful and portable cupcake... and the pecans just added the perfect crunch to this combo.

Oh heavens you could be such a star at your relative's house when you show up with a plate of these.  Thanksgiving day is decadent... maybe share these for breakfast? Get the morning started right.

Pumpkin Nutella Cupcakes
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large or extra large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 package instant vanilla pudding mix
1 can (15 ounces) canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
Cooking Spray
24 teaspoons of Nutella
1 to 2 cups chopped pecans
Cupcake liners
Step by Step
In a large bowl, combine sugar and oil until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, cloves and pudding mix; add to egg mixture alternately with pumpkin, beating well after each addition.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two 12-cup cupcake pans with cupcake liners. Fill each cup 1/3 full with the pumpkin batter. Place 1 teaspoon of Nutella in the middle of each cup on top of the pumpkin batter. Using a toothpick, swirl each dollop of Nutella slightly into the batter. Top each cup with more batter until they are filled 3/4 full. Top each cupcake with pecans completely covering the batter. Pack the pecans in tight because they will spread out once the batter rises a bit. Bake each pan for 25 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes and then remove from pan and cool completely.

Store in an airtight container for up to five days.


Cinnamon Waffles with Peaches & Cream

Long weekends are good for the soul.
Having a Friday or Monday off transforms the weekend entirely.  Anything that might be on the to do list for Saturday gets taken care of on Friday or bumped to Monday.  I try to stay in bed as long as possible on Saturday and once I do get out of bed, the only goal is to make a special breakfast.
Between the Thanksgiving and Christmas season on the horizon I'm sure hoping you have a long weekend or two and I highly suggest putting those to do lists on hold for a few hours and start out your day with a warm plate of cinnamon waffles.

I have had a pretty wonderful waffle maker ever since it was gifted to me about 5 years ago and it just doesn't make an appearance often enough.  Enter a long weekend and the perfect time to pull this sucker out.  I have a hunch yours is collecting dust too and cold holiday mornings are more than enough reason to pull it out.

There's about a thousand toppings that would make these lovely if peaches and whipped cream isn't your thing.  Good old butter and syrup... perhaps chopped pecans and bananas with a little swirl of honey... maybe a few chocolate chips and powdered sugar... whatever tickles your fancy.
two way waffles
Cinnamon Waffles with Peaches & Cream
Adapted from Allrecipes.com
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/4 cups + 2 tablespoons self-rising flour
1 cup warm milk
1 egg white
Optional Toppings
1 peach, thinly sliced
Fresh whipped cream, slightly sweetened
Step by Step
In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar. Whisk in vanilla extract, butter, salt and cinnamon. Alternately mix in flour and milk until blended well.
In a separate bowl, whisk egg white until it forms soft peaks. Fold egg white into batter with a spatula and let stand for 15 minutes.
Spray preheated waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray. Pour mix onto hot waffle iron. Cook until golden brown and fluffy.  Continue until batter is gone, making sure to use cooking spray between each waffles.  

About the egg whites...
This is what you are looking for with the egg whites.  After a few minutes of whisking an egg white in a clean large bowl, you will get "soft peaks."  
You want to gently fold in the egg whites to the rest of the batter.  Mix well but just softly fold them in with a spatula so they stay nice and airy. cinnamonwaffles5


Monster Cookies

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I could not eat another piece of candy if you shoved it in my mouth.  Seriously.  Don't do it.  I might spit it back up on your shoes.  That would be really awkward if I don't know you.... and probably a little hurtful if I did... and just plain gross no matter what our relationship.

I'm at my limits.  And I have some pretty insane limits when it comes to any form of sugar... preferably peanut butter and chocolate or a good gummy.  Have I told you about the time I was given a pound bag of Swedish Fish for my birthday in high school?  I polished it off on the way to school the next day.

I tingled all day long.  Extreme tingling from my head to my toes...

Cookies?  I can still so totally eat a cookie.  Let's take some leftover Halloween candy and hide it in cookies.  It's kind of like that whole steaming, pureeing and hiding veggies in food so kids don't know.  I bet Jessica Seinfeld will be calling me soon for my secrets on hiding candy in everyday foods.

monster cookie final3These cookies are packed with a lot of really great stuff.  A whole jar of creamy peanut butter, a ton of oats and a nice mix of chocolate.  These are so oaty, some might call them a breakfast cookie.  And by some I mean that we served them as a little dessert for breakfast when Mr. Hungry's brother was in town this weekend.  Yep, a monster cookie with a cup of coffee is a pretty sweet combo.

Starting the day with a cookie and a cup of coffee is good for the soul.

A shout out to my mother in law, Suzan who has been making these for ages.  Without you, I would not know the wonderfulness of a monster cookie.
monster cookie final2And here are a few extra ideas for hiding more candy...

Got extra Reeses?  You totally need to make these.  Pure goodness.

Got extra Snickers? This couldn't be easier.

Got all kinds of chocolate candy?  Mix it all up in these brownies.  I have yet to find a way to hurt these.

Monster Cookies
Recipe Notes
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 18-ounce jar creamy peanut butter
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup M&M's
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2 teaspoons baking soda
5 cups quick-cooking oatmeal (not instant)
Step by Step
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a very large mixing bowl, combine the eggs and sugars. Mix well. Add the salt, vanilla, peanut butter, and butter. Mix well. Stir in the M&Ms, chocolate chips, baking soda, and oatmeal. Drop by tablespoons 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Do not overbake. Let stand for about 3 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool. When cool, store in large resealable plastic bags.

To Freeze:  Drop tablespoons of cookie dough onto a parchment paper covered baking sheet, not allowing the dough to touch.  Freeze for an hour or until solid.  Store frozen balls of cookie dough in a resealable plastic bag.  Bake from frozen and simply add a few extra minutes to cooking time when ready to make.