Banana {Chocolate} Almond Millet Muffins

Our travel schedule is heating up!

In the next few weekends we have Joe’s college graduation, a mother-daughters Chicago (and American Girl Place!… Yes, I will be bringing Felicity.) get-away, and “The Trip”!

The weeks are blowing by, but we only have fun, sweet things to look forward to. We can’t wait! In the meantime, we’re doing lots of packing and planning, and I’m even taking a photography class:

{A basic lesson on shutter speed. I took these at a local park- Cool, huh?!}

In the midst of actually learning what all those buttons on my nifty camera mean, (and picking out every outfit I plan to wear in Rome so I can feel just like Audrey Hepburn), I started a new home project!

This past weekend, my lovely Mama came up dive with me into the world of furniture refinishing. We are overhauling an antique bed for our spare room (so our friends don’t have to put up with an air mattress when they visit anymore :), and she’s a pro. We are both pretty dedicated workers when it comes to a project like this, and I knew we’d be “in the zone”. So, I decided to whip up some soup for lunch and muffins for breakfast ahead of time…

Good decision. Especially on the breakfast front.

Don’t worry – pictures of the finished bed to come! It’s gonna be sweet…

I adapted this vegan muffin recipe from Mama Pea’s cookbook, and they turned out fabulous! Dense, chocolatey, just the right amount of sweetness, and with an amazing texture (and nutrition profile) from the millet and other awesome, healthy ingredients!

We enjoyed them warm, crumbled over Fage plain Greek yogurt with berries… Add a cup of coffee with frothed Almond Breeze coconut almond milk while booking our hotel on the Magnificent Mile, and it was the PERFECT pre-project breakfast!

Banana {Chocolate} Almond Millet Muffins

Based on Mama Pea’s Banana Chocolate Chip Millet Muffins from her amazing cookbook, “Peas & Thank You”Makes 12 muffins.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 Cup of Uncooked millet
  • 3/4 Cup of Whole wheat flower
  • 3/4 Cup of Almond flour (also called ‘almond meal’ – you can substitute regular flour as well, but you’ll loose some of the texture and flavor!).
  • 1 1/2 t Baking powder
  • 1/2 t Baking soda
  • 1/4 t Salt
  • 1/2 t Cinnamon
  • 2 Ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 Cup Dark brown sugar
  • 2 T Coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 Cup Almond milk
  • 1 t Vanilla extract
  • 1/2 Cup Dark chocolate chips (I like to use Ghirardelli chips and chop them up a bit!)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375. Line or spray muffin tin. Set aside.
  • Place millet in food processor, and pulse into a fine texture (won’t be flour-fine… a little bit of crunch is good!).
  • Pour into a large bowl and add flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
  • In a smaller bowl, combine mashed bananas, brown sugar, oil, milk and vanilla.
  • Add wet ingredients to the dry, and stir until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
  • Spoon the batter into muffin tin, and bake for about 17 minutes.

{Just chilin’ with the lentils…}

Enjoy these muffins warm out of the oven, or freeze to keep them on hand whenever hunger strikes! These little treats are excellent on their own, crumbled, smeared with jam, with a cup of tea, for breakfast, for a snack, for dessert, before a workout…

…just make ’em, ok? Enjoy!

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Vegas {Baby}

We’ve been busy.

Busy having a swinging’ WinterBlues Party…

{Carnitas tacos, Lettuce Wraps, Red Wine Sangria, La Paloma}

And busy getting to…

Vegas.

Here’s the low-down!

Our Blues Party is an annual event at the FreshlyMinted household, and is really a pre-party for a sweet festival held in our city each year. Friends gather for food, drinks and fun, before heading downtown for a blues benefit concert.

{Pears with Goat Cheese, Pistachios & Cranberries, Cheese, Pear & Gorgonzola Flat Bread, Hummus, Salsa, Whole Wheat Beer Bread with Spinach Dip}

This year, we had some fabulous eats, and the festival was held at Alexandria’s! (you KNOW that’s one of our favorite spots…)

A visit from Cole & Steph also made the weekend perfect. Along with a relaxing super bowl party at a new friend’s house on Sunday (and those Nutella Cheesecakes above).

{Brownie & PB Mousse & Mini-Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies}

After that weekend, we had to hurry and pack…. because we’re in VEGAS. The Husband had a training for work, and so I tagged along (with my laptop and a few days of work for the road) to spend some time in this fascinating, crazy, bright city. We’re here much more for the food, the sights and exhibits than the “usual” local activities – having the chance to travel to a new place is exciting!

My goals were: To spot a Kardashian and a famous athlete.

The Husband said that was crazy.

But today, we lunched at Serendipity 3 (after a morning that started at 5am to keep up with work – darn time zones! – and a workout) and we saw THE Dick Clark!

I felt like an idiot snapping pictures, but the guy looked great (better than on TV), and I couldn’t help but think of all of the New Year’s Celebrations he’s hosted in my living room. And yes, we even googled a photo of him and his wife together, and… it was really them!

Even better than a Kardashian.

Almost as good as the Frozen Hot Chocolate.

{As good as it looks….}

So, as we have our adventures this week (including our crazy flight), Ill be keeping track of the cool places we see, restaurants we visit and characters we meet (there have been a few already…)

{WARNING: Mini rant! NEVER fly with Spirit Airlines. This was the filthiest, most wretched flight I’ve ever been on… and it was four. hours. long. “First Class” was apparently too hard to understand, so they re-named it the “Big Font Seats”; The lady behind us was using the sink to drain her canned Vienna sausages; $3 for water; snacks included a Cup ‘o Noodles for $5, our seats didn’t recline; 27,000 children were onboard; people were yelling; stewardesses were swearing; and a large, scary, foreign woman took our window seat… and proceeded to give us candy filled with some sort of strong liquor… The Husband was convinced that she was trying to poison him, but he was too afraid not to eat it.}

So, bear with me while I try to keep up (and try to stay on track for our Europe plans as well… a cruise booking is in our very near future!)

:)

Have YOU ever been to Vegas? Any suggestions?

More coming soon!

Sea {Salty} Cookies, Eat Cookies

Oh, sea salt.

I love you on my roasted veggies, but mostly I love you on my chocolate… because The Husband doesn’t like you so I get to eat it all.

True story.

These cookies are not my invention, but I wish they were. I picked them from a sea of photos on Pinterest for a cookie exchange because they looked impressive, easy, chocolatey and involved salt and Kahlua. Perfection, am I right?

Not too sweet, I could really taste the rich coffee flavor of these little guys (and the bite of the salt on your tongue is a fantastic complement!). Go on, give ’em a try!Salted Mudslide Cookies

Recipe created by: How Sweet It Is

Ingredients

  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons instant coffee powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) of unsalted butter, melted and cooled for 10-15 minutes
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coffee liqueur + 1 teaspoon (Godiva, Kahlua, etc)
  • 1 cup chocolate chunks
  • sea salt for topping

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Mix the flour, cocoa, coffee powder, salt and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.
  • In another bowl, mix the melted butter and sugars until they are combined. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and stir until mixed. Stream in coffee liqueur and mix.
  • Gradually add flour and mix until a dough forms – it will look crumbly at first, but it will come together. I even used my hands to help at one point. If you find you absolutely need more liquid add in a teaspoon of coffee liqueur, but it should come together. Fold in the chocolate chunks.
  • Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes. Try not to eat it. I suggest distracting yourself with a cheesy Christmas special on TV.
  • Remove dough from the fridge and roll into golfball sized balls. Set on a non-stick baking sheet with 2 inches between each. Bake for 8-12 minutes or until the edges are set and the middles are still soft (depends on your cookie size). The centers should be puffy. Do not over-bake. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with sea salt. Let cool completely just enough so you don’t burn yourself, then dig in!

These are great for Christmas… and for freezing and eating on long drives to Grandma’s house. You might even want to save one for her.

Enjoy!

On a side note:

  • My hairdryer decided to get festive and burst into a shower of sparks over the weekend… I keep forgetting to buy a new one until I’m dripping in my towel at 7:30a.m. before work.
  • I am in a brace for a tendon injury in my right foot and I have to wear tennis shoes everywhere for three weeks. Work. Shopping. I want to sob quietly every time I look at my stupid shoes with a cute outfit. And, I can’t run.
  • It’s only Four days until Christmas, so the above doesn’t really matter.
  • The Husband made his second “Annual Dinner” last night (Yes folks, this was the second dinner he has made in our 2.5 years of marriage. It’s about quality, not quantity, people).  It. Was. Fabulous. Recipes to come!

{Top Secret} Family Recipe

Random life lesson #642: Sister-in-laws know best.

In my naivety, I attempted a classic family cookie recipe for the Ugly Sweater party over the weekend (don’t worry…photo below). I knew it was simple. I knew how to google. I thought I was set.

Wrong.

Jessica, one of my dear sister-in-laws, makes totally killer mint chocolate chip mini cookies for just a few events throughout the year. I inhale them with abandon.

{This is Church camp, circa 2007. The cookies in question… in that unassuming box on the table. Not for long!}

They are like thin mints on steroids. Fudgy-fresh. Best eaten chilled.

Well, long story short,  my googled recipe didn’t turn out as good as Jessica’s. They were fine out of the oven (a little fluffy, perhaps) but, once they were cold, they just didn’t have the magic… In fact, my coworker Elizabeth said they were like rocks. (In my defense, they had been open on the counter at the office for two days…). Thanks for the reality-check, Elizabeth. :)

Soooo, I crawled humbly back to Jessica for the real recipe, which she generously gave me.

Folks, this is a closely-guarded FreshlyMinted family secret…. feel privileged. Very privileged.

And thank Jessica next time you see her for saving this post. Even though when she emailed the recipe to me she started her note with:

I can’t believe I’m doing this, but here it is…

We love each other… we really do ;)

Top-Secret Mint Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 box chocolate cake mix (How cool is that?)
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 bag pre-chopped Andes mints (If you can’t find these, you can chop them yourself. Or, you can use seasonal mint chocolate chips…. heath bar, M&Ms…possibilities are endless!)
Directions:
  • Combine cake mix, oil, and eggs in a large bowl. Stir in mints.
  • Drop by rounded teaspoon on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 6-8 minutes.
  • Note:There is an art to baking these cookies to perfection. You underbake – they won’t hold their shape; you overbake – they are too crunchy; you find that very sweet spot in the middle – you’ve baked a soft version of the Thin Mint that tastes like heaven in your mouth.

Enjoy!

(And beware…there are a lot of imposter “Cake Box Cookies” out there. Listen to my Sister-in law,  and spare yourself the humiliation of breaking your co-workers teeth.)

Right, Carla?

Some more of our holiday fun for your enjoyment…

{Ugly Christmas Sweaters, The Nutcracker, Cookie Swap}

{Swanky Office Shindig…. yes, we did end the evening at Waffle House}

{The Little House}

It’s almost here… Merry Christmas!

Now my other SIL, Ashley, knows she is next on my hostile-takeover-recipe list… her famous rolls, maybe? No one is safe… Haha!