The Perfect Smoothie

I love…adore…am obsessed with…smoothies.  I’m that person who can’t get sick of smoothies.  I would love to have the recipes and ingredients from the Tropical Smoothie Cafe.  I’d have them for every meal if I could.  Maybe someday I’ll get to when I lose all my teeth and have to go on an all-liquids diet in the nursing home.  :)I even did this green smoothie challenge this past May.  It was awesome.  It was only awesome when I had a better blender though (still waiting for the email/call that says I won a free Blendtec but until then, mine works fine).  The Magic Bullet just didn’t cut it.  But seriously, I liked the majority of the smoothies (adding nuts is not so good, FYI…but maybe that’s because I don’t have a fancy blender).  Try out the challenge if you feel ambitious.  It actually made me not taste the greens by the end.  Brilliant.

When I make my own smoothies, I just kind of throw stuff in and don’t measure.  Sometimes they’re to die for and other times they’re just okay.  Yesterday it was AMAZING.  The kids gulped it down like there was no tomorrow.  So I decided to try to replicate it today and it was just as good, if not better.  So I’m documenting what I put in and approximately how much so you all can share in my smoothie-making awesomeness.

The Perfect Smoothie

  • 10 frozen strawberries
  • 1 frozen banana (To freeze:  peel and put on baking sheet; then flash freeze in the freezer for 30 minutes or half a day or whatever you want; then take out and put in baggies and stick in the freezer.  When I put mine on the baking sheet, I split them in half in case I don’t need a whole one, and they fit better in a sandwich bag that way).
  • 5 ice cubes
  • 2 cups orange juice (I’ve also used vanilla almond milk and I like it but my picky 3-year-old only likes it with juice)
  • 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt (I’ve used Greek yogurt in the past but this time I used Stonyfield’s Organic French Vanilla)
  • Handful of greens (I didn’t use greens this time around because I don’t have any but I typically like fresh, not bagged, kale or baby spinach)

Blend the greens with the liquid.  Then add the rest and blend, put a lovely straw in it, and enjoy.  This makes enough for me and my 2 kids (approximately 4 cups worth I think).

Note:  I like my smoothies on the thicker side.  So you may have to adjust the amount of liquid to your liking/to your blender’s capability.  Also, no sugar is needed–this is a pretty sweet smoothie already.

Happy slurping!

Cream Cheese Filled Carrot Cake Muffins

I’m not picky but I’m also not a huge carrot cake fan.  It’s okay.  Carrots are fine.  But I don’t drool over carrots like I do chocolate.  However, I decided to try these out a while back and my oh my was my tummy happy.  Yours will be too if you give it a shot.  Yes, it’s a little work because you have 3 bowls getting dirty (you could probably figure out a way to just use 2 but I don’t like to mess with recipes too much if I know they’re good as written).  But the work and clean up is so worth it.

And I know, it’s not cold weather so baking seems weird to do right now, especially talking about something with carrots.  But I had a lot of cream cheese in my fridge because I thought I didn’t have any and bought some…twice.  So I had to find something to make with it and turned to this amazingness of a recipe.

The recipe is borrowed from Cooking Classy.  My random comments are in parentheses 🙂

Cream Cheese Filled Carrot Cake Muffins  (makes 12)

Ingredients

Muffin Mix

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk (substitute: a little under 1/2 cup milk plus 1-2 tsp of lemon juice or white vinegar)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup applesauce (or up the vegetable oil to 1/2 cup or any other substitute you prefer)
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup lightly packed, finely grated carrots, about 2 large carrots
2 Tbsp Raw Turbinado Sugar or Sanding Sugar, divided (all you need is 2 small packets of Sugar in the Raw)

Cream Cheese Filling
8 oz cream cheese, softened (this last time I used this new Greek Cream Cheese stuff and it was DELICIOUS)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper liners. In a mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, whip together cream cheese, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, lemon juice and 1/2 tsp vanilla on low speed until mixture is smooth, set aside.
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg, set aside. In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer on low speed, blend together 1 cup granulated sugar, buttermilk, vegetable oil, applesauce, eggs and 1 tsp vanilla for 30 seconds. Add in dry ingredients and mix just until combine. Using a rubber spatula, fold in grated carrots.
  • (Prior to filling, I spray the muffin tin so prevent the muffins from sticking, as they often times cook up over the edge)  Fill paper lined muffin cups with an 1/8 cup muffin mixture.  Gently drop 1 Tbsp cream cheese mixture on top, in the center of each filled muffin cup, then cover the cream cheese mixture with an additional 1/8 cup muffin mixture. Sprinkle each muffin evenly with 1/2 tsp Raw Sugar. Bake 20 – 23 minutes until edges are lightly golden.

Homemade Granola Bars

I love granola bars but I’m a little picky about them (that’s actually kind of shocking, considering I eat just about anything but it’s the truth).  Joe loves the ultra-processed, hard ones from Quaker.  I think they’re gross but maybe that’s because I’m being anti-processed-food-brainwashed.

Anyway, I made these granola bars a while back and posted about it on Facebook.  I think they’re pretty delicious, especially when the outer part gets crispy.  Yummy in my tummy, as my Grampa would always say.  But with the weather getting warmer, I don’t want to put the oven on if I don’t have to.  Plus, I had this other recipe that uses quick oats instead of rolled oats.  I thought maybe with the oats being finer, Joe may go for it.  Plus it uses Rice Krispies and who doesn’t love those?!  (ok I don’t when they’re just a plain cereal but who eats them like that anyway?)

Here’s the rundown for both (click on the titles for the recipe links):

Baked (rolled oats)

  • Gets crispy around the edges which is delightful
  • Softer in the middle, which tastes fine but they don’t stay together well
  • Prep time isn’t long but they sit in the oven and then have to cool off before cutting
  • Taste more “healthy”, maybe because of the rolled oat texture being so defined
  • More ingredients and I noticed I tended to need more honey to keep the bars together
  • Joe test:  won’t eat these ones

No-Bake (quick oats)

  • Quicker since you don’t have to factor in baking time
  • Don’t have to use the oven
  • Really sweet (“healthy” dessert!)
  • Nice touch with the crispy cereal
  • Texture is nice because there aren’t big rolled oats
  • Need room in the fridge to cool them off (can’t just do room temp)
  • Joe test:  says the flavor is really good and they’re significantly better than the baked, but they’re still too chewy (can’t win ’em all)

So who is the winner?  I’d say the No-Bake, hands down.  Deliciousness, my friends.