Blueberry Oatmeal with Cheesecake Swirl

Who loves a bowl of warm oatmeal to start your day off? Who loves cheesecake? Taylor at Food Faith Fitness combined them and created this warm, delicious, desert-like oatmeal that will have you looking forward to breakfast. Depending on your appetite this can yield 2 servings, but doubling the recipe is super easy also. If you are using fresh blueberries, just adding them to your bowl instead of adding while cooking the oatmeal is an option. Enjoy!

1/2 C. old-fashioned oats
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Sweetener of choice, to taste
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, divided
1 C. milk, water if you prefer
1/4-1/2 C. blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 1/2 Tbsp. cream cheese, softened

In a small pot, combine the oats, cinnamon and sweetener of choice. Add in 1 cup of milk or water and 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract and bring to a boil over medium/high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium/low and simmer until the oats are thick, stirring constantly.(about 5 minutes) Add in the blueberries. Take off heat and let cool for about 5 minutes.

While the oatmeal cools, combine the cream cheese, 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla and sweetener of choice in a small bowl.

Transfer cooked oatmeal to a bowl and stir in the cream cheese.

Yields: 1-2 servings

Pumpkin Pancakes

Pancakes are a beloved breakfast staple for many whether it be your basic pancake, flavored, or filled with chocolate chips or fruit. There are so many ways to go with pancakes and I have started exploring them! This is a favorite of ours not only for the holiday season but year round. We like to top ours with maple syrup, homemade whipped topping, and walnuts or pecans. They have a perfect balance of pumpkin and warm spices. For my husband and I, we make half the recipe which yields us 8 pancakes. If you are cooking for more, place cooked pancakes on a cookie sheet and keep warm in a 200 degree oven until all the pancakes are ready. Enjoy!

2 C. all-purpose flour (I use Einkorn flour)
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 C. packed light brown sugar or sweetener of choice
1 C. pumpkin puree
1 1/2 C. buttermilk
3 Tbsp. butter, melted, plus cold butter for griddle
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat a non-stick electric griddle to 375 degrees. In a large mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Make a large well in center of mixture and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl whisk together pumpkin, buttermilk, brown sugar, melted butter, eggs and vanilla until well combined. Pour pumpkin mixture into well in dry mixture and whisk just until combined. Let batter rest at least 3 minutes.

Butter griddle then pour batter about 1/4 to cup at a time onto griddle. Spread pancakes outward just slightly with bottom of measuring cup. Cook until golden brown on bottom then flip and cook opposite side until golden. Repeat process until all the batter has been used. Serve warm with butter and maple syrup.

Yields: 12-16 pancakes

Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is something I grew up thinking only came out of a can and it wasn’t very tasty to me. It wasn’t until my mother in law made it fresh with ingredients like oranges, nuts, and spices that I questioned what was really in that can! I have now made a couple of versions, and this is one that I got from a chef in Nashville from The Salted Table. Like most cranberry sauce recipes, his called for a lot of sugar, I am using half the amount of sugar the recipe called for, so if you need more sugar feel free to add more. Enjoy!

1 bag cranberries
3/4 C sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 orange, zested and juiced

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Cool, remove cinnamon stick and serve.

Crispy Oven Fried Garlic Mushrooms

These oven fried mushrooms will surprise you with just how delicious they are. This “shake and bake” style mushroom is coated with a nutty flour of ground almond and sunflower seeds with garlic powder, salt paprika, parsley and parmesan cheese for seasoning. To make things even easier, you can prepare this mixture ahead of time. Another simple, easy appetizer for the upcoming holidays or a great side dish for your busy weekday dinner. Enjoy!

1 carton of mushrooms, 6 to 8 ounce, small to medium-sized
1/3 C. almond flour
1/3 C. raw sunflower seeds, ground
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. dried parsley
1 Tbsp. parmesan cheese
1 xl or 2 small egg
1/2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 Tbsp. avocado oil or olive oil
1 quart zippered bag

Preheat oven to 400. Use the avocado oil or olive oil to coat the bottom of baking sheet. Clean mushrooms with a wet towel, set aside. Using a coffee grinder, processor, or blender, grind sunflower seeds until powdered texture. In the zippered bag, add sunflower seed powder, almond flour, garlic powder, salt, paprika, parsley and parmesan cheese. Close bag and shake to mix.

In a small mixing bowl, beat the egg. Add melted butter and combine. Dip a mushroom into the egg mixture and place it into the zippered bag of almond flour mixture. Close bag and shake until mushroom is coated. Place mushroom on coated baking sheet. Repeat with each mushroom. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, turning mushrooms halfway through. Then turn broiler on low for 1 to 2 minutes to get the coating more crisp. Check after one minute to be careful not to burn. Serve warm.

Horseradish Cream Cheese Dip

With the Holidays ahead of us, there is always a need for an amazing dip that people tend to gather around because it is so good you can’t stop eating it. Well, here is one to add to your menu! So very simple but also so amazing. Depending on the size of your crowd, you just may want to double the recipe. Enjoy!

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 C. ground horseradish
1/2 C. shredded cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp. pimento peppers

In a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese, horseradish, cheese and pimento peppers. Serve with your choice of crackers and vegetables.

Homemade Sweet Italian Sausage

Since moving to St. Croix I have had difficulty finding an organic Italian sausage but I can find organic ground pork, so I decided to make my own sausage. Now it doesn’t have to be organic if that is not what you choose, this is just why I decided to make my own. Making your own of anything allows you to adjust ingredients to your family’s taste and know what ingredients are in your food. That’s a win win for me. This sausage recipe calls for you to combine everything at least 12 hours ahead of time but I normally don’t remember to make it ahead and it is still full of flavor. Remember to adjust the red pepper flakes to your family’s heat level or leave them out all together. Enjoy!

2-lbs ground pork
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 tsp. dried parsley
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. dried basil
1 1/4 tsp. paprika
1 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (or to your heat level)
1/2 tsp fennel seed
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/8 tsp. dried oregano
1/8 tsp. dried thyme

Place the ground pork and the red wine vinegar in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle with the remaining ingredients. With your hands, mix until flecks of spice are evenly distributed through the sausage.

Chipotle Baked Turkey Burgers

I have not been one to eat turkey burgers. Turkey is something you really need to season or it can be bland. These turkey burgers are my first that I have tried making at home, and we have added them to our regular menu for months because they are that good. I have had to play around with the chili pepper to figure out the right amount for my husband and I, so you will need to do the same. The difference between chipotle and regular cayenne chili pepper is flavor and the heat. If you choose to use soy sauce instead of coconut aminos, you may need to use less so the burgers are not too salty. Coconut aminos is a great substitute for soy sauce when you do not want to consume soy. Enjoy!

3 Tbsp. avocado or olive oil
1 Tbsp. coconut aminos or soy sauce (soy sauce will be salty so maybe less)
1 tsp. chipotle chili pepper or regular cayenne (or less)
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. fresh cilantro or parsley
1 lb. ground turkey

Chipotle Mayonnaise:
1/2 C. mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. chipotle chili pepper or regular cayenne (or less)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil (grease if using foil). In a large bowl, whisk together all the burger ingredients except the ground turkey until combined. Add the turkey, mix until just combined. Do not over mix to avoid tough burgers.

Divide and shape mixture into four burgers. Place onto the lined baking sheet. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, then turn oven to broil. Place the burgers under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes until browned. Remove and let rest for 5 minutes. Combine the mayonnaise and amount of chili pepper. Top burgers with the mayo and any desired toppings like avocados and salsa.

Strawberry Chia Pudding

Here is your chance to try chia pudding if you a) have never heard of it or b) didn’t think it sounded/looked appealing. Great for a light breakfast, snack or a desert, this yummy pudding is bursting with strawberries and sweetened with coconut milk and honey. Taking only minutes to prepare, you will have a healthy, delicious option to add to your day. Strawberries, extra honey, mini chocolate chips, or cacao nibs are great as toppings. Enjoy!

Chia seeds are full of important nutrients. They are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, rich in antioxidants, and they provide fiber, iron, calcium, and magnesium. When chia seeds are soaked in a liquid they expand and create a tapioca pudding like texture.

1 C. fresh or frozen strawberries
1 can (13.5 oz.) of full fat coconut milk
2 Tbsp. raw honey
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 C. chia seeds

In a blender or food processor, add the strawberries, coconut milk, honey, and vanilla. Blend until strawberries are completely pureed and everything is mixed. Add mixture to a medium bowl along with the chia seeds. Once combined, cover and let rest for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator.

Almond Joy Cookie Bars

Oh how ooey gooey are these bars! Jessie at started swapping out not so good for you ingredients for more whole food ingredients, and came up with these ooey gooey, almost sinful almond joy bars. Almond butter makes an amazing batter replacing white flour, and coconut milk replaces condensed milk. The chocolate chips she and I used are Enjoy Life brand. These are very simple and quick to prepare, and will be gone in a flash. Enjoy!

3/4 C. almond butter
1/3 C. maple syrup
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt
1 C. chocolate chips
1/3 C. shredded coconut
1/4 C. almonds
1/2 C. canned coconut milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 8 x 8″ baking dish with parchment paper and set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine the almond butter, maple syrup, eggs, baking soda, vanilla and salt until smooth. Pour roughly 2/3 of the batter into the baking dish. Evenly layer the following one at a time: 1/2 cup chocolate chips, 1/3 cup shredded coconut, 1/4 cup almonds. Top with coconut milk, and a final layer of the remaining chocolate chips. Drizzle the remaining batter over top ( it is okay that you will see some filling ingredients peeking through). Bake for 25 minutes, or until the top looks light golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.

Yields: 12

Boneless French Onion Pork Chops

French onion soup was one of my sister’s favorite, so I know she would have loved this dish. French onion soup with a boneless pork chop nestled in the broth with onions topped with melted swiss or Gruyère cheese. This would be just as delicious with chicken breast if you choose not to eat pork. Serve this amazing entrée over white rice or cauliflower rice and wow your family with its incredible flavors. Enjoy!

4 boneless pork chops
3 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. olive or avocado oil, divided
4-5 large sweet onions, sliced
7-8 springs fresh thyme
1 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. salt, plus additional to season the chops
1/2 tsp. pepper, plus additional to season the chops
1/4 C. dry red or white wine
1/2 C. beef or chicken stock
4 oz. shredded Swiss or Gruyère cheese (slices work also)

Brush the Dijon mustard evenly on both sides of the pork chops. Season each chop, on both sides with salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a large skillet over medium/high heat and brown the chops on both sides, (approximately 2-3 minutes per side). Remove the browned chops to a plate and keep warm.

In the same skillet add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, the butter, and the sliced onions, stirring well to coat the onions in the oil. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Cook the onions, stirring only occasionally, until they’re golden brown and caramelized. This should take at least 15 minutes over medium/high heat. Add the wine, stock, and fresh thyme to the onions, making sure to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook an additional 2-3 minutes after the addition of the wine and stock, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to medium and add the chops back into the skillet along with the onions. Cover the skillet and cook for approximately 20-25 minutes, or until the chops are no longer pink in the center.

Remove the cover and add the shredded cheese to the top of each chop. Return the cover to the skillet. Turn off the heat, and allow the cheese to melt. Serve the chops on a bed of caramelized onions.