Saturday, June 28, 2014

Chocolate Coconut Muffins

These are definitely my new favorite muffins! 
I made these muffins today and they are so good!  I may have eaten more than one three.  If you like chocolate and coconut, you must try them. 
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour  
1 1/2 tsp baking powder 
1/4 tsp salt 
2 tbs unsweetened cocoa or carob powder 
1/3 cup sugar (I use raw cane sugar) 
1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut + a little more for sprinkling on top* 
1/2 cup chocolate or carob chips 
1/4 cup melted butter 
1/4 cup melted coconut oil 
1 cup milk (I use almond milk, but any milk will do) 
1 egg, beaten 
1 tsp vanilla extract
1.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder, sugar and coconut.  Mix well.  Add the chocolate chips and mix well again. 
2.  In a separate bowl combine the melted butter, coconut oil, milk, egg, and vanilla and whisk until well-combined. 
3.  Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix gently with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Mix just until everything is combined.  Do not over mix or the muffins won't be as light and fluffy!
4.  Fill silicone muffin liners (on a baking sheet) about 3/4 of the way full.  Sprinkle tops with shredded coconut.**  Bake in oven for about 25 minutes. Check with a toothpick to see if they're done.  They may need a few extra minutes.
5.  Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes before removing from silicone liners (and devouring).  This recipe will make 10-12 muffins, depending on how big your liners are and how full you make them.  I got 11 muffins exactly.
*This is my favorite shredded coconut to use for baking.  The coconut taste isn't too overwhelming and it gives the muffins a really nice flavor and texture.  For those of you who live in Kuwait, I got this bag at the Sultan Center in Sharq.
**I only sprinkled about half of my muffins with coconut because I wasn't sure my kids would like the coconut on top.  They did.  I'll add the coconut to all of them next time.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Honey Nut "Cookies"

I'm always looking for healthy snacks for my boys, so when I found these honey nut cookies, I decided to give them a try.
However, I thought I should add more to them so my boys might find them a little tastier.  So, I created my own version of the recipe.  Here's what I came up with:
2 egg whites
1/3 cup real honey
2 cups nuts and seeds (I used almonds, walnuts, pistachios and sunflower seeds)
1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp sea salt
1.  Chop the nuts and seeds together and put them in a medium-sized bowl
2. Add all the spices and cranberries and mix well.  Add the honey and egg whites and mix until well-combined.
3.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Scoop the nut mixture into cookie cutter molds of your choice (or just form into balls and place on the parchment).  Carefully remove the cookie cutter and the mixture will retain its shape.
 4.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.  Let the cookies cool before removing them from the cookie sheet.
5.  Enjoy!  My boys thought these cookies were great!  My oldest really gobbled his up and asked for more.  I think my youngest prefers baked goods like muffins and breads, but he still liked these and ate his too. 

I store these in the fridge, but they're fine at room temperature too.  I've packed them in the boys' lunches for summer school and they've worked out great. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Apple Banana Pancakes

I originally thought this recipe would make enough pancakes for two mornings, but I was wrong.  I had little to no leftovers when I made them.
Direct quote from my eight year old:  "Mom, the reason we (he and his brother) keep asking for more and more and more pancakes is because they are the best pancakes ever and we love them."   
So, I have to double the recipe if I want some leftovers.  I don't feel bad about them eating seconds and thirds though.  These pancakes are just as healthy as they are delicious.
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or white wheat flour (I use Bob's Red Mill organic ww pastry flour)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 cup real honey
1 egg
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce (homemade applesauce works great!)
2 cups milk (I use unsweetened coconut milk, but any milk will do)
1 ripe banana, mashed*
butter for frying
1.  Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and cloves in a large bowl.

2.  Make a well in the center of the flour mix and add the honey, egg and applesauce.  Whisk the honey, egg, and applesauce together.  Add the milk to the bowl and mix all the ingredients together just until blended.  Do not overmix or the pancakes will not be light and fluffy.

3.  Add in the mashed banana and fold it into the batter.
4.. Melt about a tablespoon of butter in a large skillet.  Using a 1/4 measuring cup, add the batter to the skillet.  Flip the pancakes once they begin to brown on the bottom.
4.  Remove from skillet once they've browned on both sides.  Enjoy with some pure maple syrup! 
*You can use more than one banana if you like the pancakes to taste more banana-y.  :)  This recipe gives the pancakes a subtle banana, apple flavor.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Turkey Part Two: Antalya

 We arrived in Antalya early evening of our second day in Turkey.  It's a beautiful city right on the Mediterranean coast.
We stayed 5 nights at Roza Apartments.  The apartments are really nice and spacious.  We had two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, and two balconies.  We enjoyed ourselves there!  The only set back was there wasn't much around us within walking distance-- just a grocery store, a bakery and a couple of little cafes.  The beach is advertised as a "10-minute walk away," but it was at least a 20 minute walk in reality, and that's even with us carrying our little guy.  All-in-all, it was a nice place and I really enjoyed our time there.
 View from our balcony
 The little fellas eating some breakfast on the balcony
Pool time!  The water was freezing but we got used to it.
We had a grocery store a short walk from our apartment, so that's the first place we went after checking in.  We got some food to make some lunches and dinners at our place in order to save us some money and not eat out for every meal.  The views on the way to the grocery store were amazing! 
We headed out for a day on the beach.  Since the beach nearest to our apartment didn't have much of anything else around it, we got a free shuttle ride to a busier beach further down the road.  This beach had chairs, tables, and a bar/restaurant on it so we could have lunch and a few drinks there.
Most of the beaches in Turkey are pebble beaches.  I loved it because I hate getting sand stuck to me.  However, I think the boys were a little disappointed with the rocks.  They wanted to build sandcastles.  We still had a good time and spent 6 hours there!  It was a beautiful day!
 Views of the mountains on one side
 Views of the city on the other side

That night we headed to the Old City Kaleici.  We made the mistake of taking a bus going the wrong way and ended up sitting on the bus for a full hour and paying twice!  Grrr.  That was the only time we took a bus anywhere.  We chose to take a taxi every other time.
We didn't stay long in Kaleici.  We just looked around a little while and had some dinner.  It's a beautiful old town that's well-preserved.
 Hadrian's Gate--An entrance into Kaleici.  The gate was built in honor of Emperor Hadrianus who visited the city in 130 AD.
Day four was the lazy/relaxing day.  We played in the pool, watched movies, and enjoyed food and wine on the balcony.  No worries.  Ahhhh.
My favorite day of the trip.
We headed down to Kaleici again to check out the boats at the harbor.  We heard we could enjoy a nice boat ride down there too. 
Streets of Kaleici

The harbor

We made it on a great little boat for a 45 minute ride with gorgeous views!

Look, I caught some fish! 
Not really, but the guys on the boat were fishermen and they let me pose with their catch. :)

Sweet friend I made on the boat

After the boat ride, we took a 30-minute taxi ride to Duden waterfalls.  We saw a lot of cool, historical places on our trip, but there's something about waterfalls that just draw me in and mesmerize me.  Duden waterfalls was my favorite place in Turkey. I could've stayed there all day.
 There is a cave that leads behind the waterfalls.  It was so cool! 

Once we walked through the super cool cave, we got to view the waterfalls, up close and personal.  They were stunning. 

After a wonderful time at the falls, our taxi took us on another short ride to the ancient city of Perge.
Perge was founded by the Greeks sometime in the 11th century B.C.   The Romans overtook the city in the 2nd century B.C.  Most of the ruins there today come from the Romans.  Also, Paul the apostle visited the city of Perge on his first missionary journey through Asia Minor and Greece! 

One of the main streets in the city

Entrance into the stadium
 Roman stadium
I loved walking around these old ruins and imagining what the city used to be like.  It was all so amazing to see.
We spent most of the day swimming, relaxing, and recovering from our previous eventful day.
Late afternoon we headed over to the Ataturk amusement park.  It doesn't really get busy until later in the evening, so we almost had the whole place to ourselves.

 Matt and the boys went up in the ferris wheel, but my fear of heights kept me on the ground.

Our last day in Turkey (or so we thought).
The day started off very relaxing and chill.  Our plane leaving Antalya didn't leave until 7 pm, so we had all day to relax. 
We decided to spend the day back at Kaleici harbor since we all enjoyed it so much last time.
We had lunch at a nice restaurant that overlooked the harbor.  Then, we went on another boat ride and finished with some ice cream and tea.  It was a great afternoon.
 Our lunch view
Another fun boat ride!
He was so thrilled to get his very own apple tea.
We got to the Antalya airport in plenty of time to catch our flight.  We had a quick 1 hour trip to Istanbul and then a 3 1/2 hour flight back to Kuwait.   However, we made a mistake in booking our flights only 2 hours apart, especially because they were with different airlines.  We learned at the airport that because we were on two different airlines, we'd have to get our luggage and check them again.  I was worried we'd run out of time and miss our flight from Istanbul to Kuwait.  The lady we spoke with assured us that two hours was enough time to get our luggage and make it to check-in with our next flight.
Then our flight to Istanbul was delayed an hour. 
We arrived 15 minutes too late to check into our flight to Kuwait.  It was such an awful, sinking feeling.  We found out there were no more flights to Kuwait until the next day at 2:40 pm, and that was at the other Istanbul airport two hours away.  It was now about 11 pm at night and we were stuck in the Istanbul airport.  We ended up buying new tickets for the flight the next day and then got a taxi to find us a hotel for the night.  Unfortunately, our taxi driver spoke no English and we spoke no Turkish.  We couldn't really explain to him that we needed a cheap hotel since it was just for the night.  He ended up taking us to a Radisson Blu about an hour away.  It was way more than we wanted to spend on a hotel for the night.  But, we were tired and ready to crash. 
We got up the next morning, ate breakfast (Radisson Blu added on a free breakfast for us after learning of our plight), and headed to the airport.  We got there way early, mainly because we were so ready to go home. 
We made it home safely around 7 pm that night.  Turkey was a good trip; however, if we could go back and do it again, we'd definitely change a few things!