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Banana Almond Meal Cookies

Cookies February 2 067 Edited Banana Almond Meal Cookies

I am not convinced a cookie that contains no flour and no sugar is still a cookie. Nonetheless, this recipe quickly turned into one of my favorites. In the short week since I baked these banana almond cookies, I have found myself buying bananas by the bunch instead of the one or two I typically buy only because I want to bake some more.

I am a snack junkie, you see. My habit of  grazing throughout the day typically fills me to the point that I grab a snack after work and before I go to bed and forget about dinner altogether. I don’t miss sitting down to a meal in the evening all that much, and by going without most days of the week, I find I look forward to and appreciate a traditional meal that much more.

Cookies February 2 058 Edited Banana Almond Meal Cookies

The key to fitting into my pants while this constant shoveling of snacks into my mouth occurs is to choose healthy snacks. I never buy food from the vending machine, and I always have an apple with me. When I want something sweet, I gravitate towards a combination of nut butter, shredded coconut, and chocolate chips rolled into a ball (recipes for which are all over the internet) or these apricot almond quick bites.

The point to this rambling explanation into my eating habits is these cookies are a healthy addition to any snack rotation. They make for a pretty good breakfast cookie too. Enjoy!

Cookies February 2 076 Edited Banana Almond Meal Cookies

Banana Almond Meal Cookies
Serves: just over two dozen
  • 1½ cups ripe, mashed bananas (about 3 large to 4 medium bananas)
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, warmed and melted
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1¾ cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • ⅓ cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¾ cup chocolate chunks
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the bananas, coconut oil, almond milk, vanilla and coconut extract.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the oats, almond meal, coconut, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
  3. Stir these dry ingredients into the large bowl of wet ingredients.
  4. Fold in the chocolate chunks.
  5. Scoop the dough by 2 tablespoon scoops and roll into balls.
  6. Place the dough balls onto parchment-lined baking sheets, then gently press to flatten. The cookies will not spread during baking.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-22 minutes. The cookies will look golden when done.
  8. Transfer to a rack to cool.
If you make your own almond meal, omit the 2 tablespoons of almond milk. The milk is needed to compensate for the lack of moistness that is found in homemade almond meal. To make this recipe vegan, use carob chips (per the original recipe) instead of the chocolate chunks called for here.


Beef Tagine with Butternut Squash {Secret Recipe Club}

SRC Feb 14 012 Edited Beef Tagine with Butternut Squash {Secret Recipe Club}

Beef is never my first choice when it comes to meat.  So when I received a can of  beef for Christmas, I almost traded it for a can of chicken. Don’t get me wrong. I grew up eating my fair share of steak and burgers, but I simply never purchased beef for myself once I left home. I never missed it, so I never ate it.

At this point, I imagine I should back up a bit and address your question, “You got beef for Christmas?”

Yes. I love practical gifts, and next to batteries and stamps, canned meat is about as practical as it gets. In all seriousness, practical gifts excite me. I can almost guarantee  I do not wear most of the clothes I received for recent holidays past, but you better believe I still use my stash of batteries and stamps.

This year, my grandma gave her kids and adult grandkids a giant can of beef and a giant can of chicken. The animals are raised and sold by a farmer in our home town, so I consider this farm-to-fork at its finest.

SRC Feb 14 014 Edited Beef Tagine with Butternut Squash {Secret Recipe Club}

On a cold winter day (and there have been plenty of those in the south this winter), I set out looking for something to make with my canned beef. Shelby at The Life & Loves of Grumpy’s Honeybunch had the answer.

Shelby’s blog was my Secret Recipe Club assignment this month. I like to think Shelby and I go way back, since I sent her salted vanilla chip oatmeal cookies for my first Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.

Take a moment to think about that. Of the thousands of cookie swap participants, I was matched with Shelby, and then we met again in the same SRC group. It was meant to be.

And that’s a good thing, because I could cook from her blog for days. She has so many great recipes to choose from (Buffalo-Style Stuffed Eggs are definitely on my short list) that I was glad I was on the hunt for a recipe with a specific ingredient.

If not, I would probably still be deciding. Ultimately, I gave the Beef Lo Mein a long, hard look before settling on the Beef Tagine with Butternut Squash.

SRC Feb 14 017 Edited Beef Tagine with Butternut Squash {Secret Recipe Club}

What is tagine? I had no idea, but Google told me it is a cone-shaped dish commonly used for cooking in North Africa. Its shape allows meat to cook slowly, and as a result, become very tender. Other answers to the tagine question were “beef stew”, which is close to what we have here.

The combination of spices – paprika, cinnamon, ginger, and red pepper flakes – in this recipe interested me. Add to that the fact that everything I needed to make it was already in the fridge, and the choice was pretty clear.

That is yet another good thing, because this beef tagine was just what I was looking for when I set out to make winter comfort food. It was warm and flavorful and made for a perfect lunch and dinner. I don’t know that someone with a traditional beef dish in mind would love it, but I certainly did. I served my beef tagine over noodles (I still had lo mein on the mind), but I Imagine a side of rice or couscous or slice of crusty bread would be just fine too.

Thanks, Shelby, for making this another enjoyable SRC experience. Enjoy!

SRC Feb 14 016 Edited Beef Tagine with Butternut Squash {Secret Recipe Club}

Beef Tagine with Butternut Squash
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound shredded beef
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup vegetable broth or beef stock
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 pound peeled and cubed butternut squash (about 3 cups of 1-inch cubes)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro, optional
  1. Combine the paprika, cinnamon, salt, ginger, red pepper and black pepper in a medium bowl.
  2. Add the beef to the spice mixture and stir well to coat.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the beef, onions, and the garlic and, stirring frequently, cook until the garlic is fragrant, about one to three minutes.
  5. Stir in the broth (or stock) and the tomatoes and bring to a boil.
  6. Cook for five minutes, then add squash.
  7. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25-30 minutes or until squash is tender.
  8. If desired, garnish with cilantro. Serve with couscous, rice, noodles or enjoy alone.
I used fully cooked and shredded canned beef for this recipe. However, you can easily use 1-pound of beef roast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes. When you add the spice-coated beef to the large skillet, simply cook until browned before stirring in the broth (or stock) and the tomatoes.


Winter Tomato Soup

Jan 19 2014 030 Edited Winter Tomato Soup

In the thick of awards season, do you find yourself imagining your acceptance speech when you accept your Golden Globe/Grammy/Oscar? Come on, you know you do. I tried to imagine mine the other day, but all I could come up with is thank you.

Seems like I should have more to say, but thank you says it all. Those two little words express I am grateful, I am appreciative, and I recognize I had some help along the way.

I am never going to win an award. Nevertheless, I would still like to say, to whoever is reading this and whenever you are reading it, “Thank you.”

Seriously, I read one of my old blog posts tonight and thought, “Oh my, this is really terrible.” As in, I just kept yapping without really saying anything that anyone could have construed as useful or interesting or remotely entertaining.

Jan 19 2014 023 Edited Winter Tomato Soup

Somewhat appalled by my unsophisticated style, it was only natural to think I owed a debt of gratitude for anyone who reads anything on this blog. The fact that people who are not obligated to me through blood or life-long friendships have read these posts from the start or who, equally shocking,  looked at a terrible old post and then came back to read more is truly something that deserves a shout out now and then.

And on second thought, I take back what I said about never winning an award. My first year of blog posts is probably worthy of the blog-equivalent of a Razzie. I imagine that sort of acceptance speech involves ducking quite a few tomatoes thrown my way.

No worries; I’m food blogger! I’ll just take those tomatoes and make this winter tomato soup. Enjoy!

Jan 19 2014 027 Edited Winter Tomato Soup


Winter Tomato Soup
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cans (14.5 ounce each) fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chipotle in adobo
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil until soft, about five minutes.
  3. Stir in the vegetable broth, tomatoes, chipotle in adobo, basil and bay leaf.
  4. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and search for and remove the bay leaf. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup in the saucepan, or transfer the mixture to a stand blender or food processor to puree. If using one of the latter, allow the soup to cool to room temperature before pureeing, then return the pureed soup to the pot.
  6. Stir in the milk and the Greek yogurt, then season with salt and pepper if desired. Serve warm.
I substituted 2 tablespoons of chipotle in adobo for 2 tablespoons of tomato paste called for in the original recipe. I simply scooped out 2 tablespoons from the canned chipotle in adobo, which included both chipotles and the adobo sauce. You may also use dried thyme in place of the dried basil.