No Added Sugar Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

I have this love/hate relationship with the beginning of every year. It’s new, it’s a fresh start, it’s 300-some days of opportunities. And it’s also the dead of winter, with no holidays to look forward to. On the bright side, that means we can all focus on our forever resolutions to lose weight. I don’t even consider it a New Year’s Resolution anymore, because I wish for it all the time. For everyone else who’s in the same boat, I have a fun, delicious solution for your dieting sweet tooth! Healthy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies are a game changer. The cookies are packed with everything good for you like bananas, oatmeal and peanut butter. You likely have most of these ingredients in your pantry anyway. Best part? No added sugar (except honey, which is a natural sweetener anyway). So it’s vegan, sugar free and gluten free. It’s a win-win situation. What I really like about these cookies is they take almost no time to make. The baking time only 15 minutes.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies_3

I will say, this is my first time baking with honey. After experimenting, I have some pro tips. First off, the dough is super sticky, so be ready to get your hands dirty. Second, once you’ve shaped the cookies, they don’t change shape. I suggest rolling the dough between the palms of your hands until you form a Ping-Pong shape. Place the dough on the baking sheet and then press down with the tips of your fingers to create a flat cookie shape. For a lazy solution, just pour the batter into a parchment paper-lined baking tray, bake as a whole sheet and then cut into squares once it’s out of the oven.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies_2

 

No Added Sugar Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

Yield: 20 Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 banana
  • 1 1/2 cups Quaker Oats raw Oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup Peanut Butter
  • 4 Tablespoons Honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Grind your oatmeal into a powder in the food processor
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl and hand mixer), beat together the banana, peanut butter, ground oatmeal and honey
  4. Roll dough into a Ping-Pong sized ball between the palms of your hands
  5. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and press down with your fingertips to make a flat cookie shape
  6. Bake on a middle rack for 15 minutes
  7. Allow to cool before serving
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This Week on Instagram

It’s been a pretty busy week on the Instagram front.  Aside from making a pretty easy pesto spaghetti squash, I fit in a cultural event mid-week, and spent a food-filled weekend in New Jersey and New York. We did some other things, but mostly just ate.

 

I made Pesto Spaghetti Squash this week. Spaghetti squash is a pretty solid substitute for actual spaghetti noodles. The hardest part of all squash though, is cleanly cutting it in half. Pro Tip: microwave whole for 1 minute before cutting.

 

I have this thing for fresh flowers. I picked up some yellow roses at Wegmans to accent the colors in my room. I think it’s perfectly fine to buy roses for yourself. Even the lady at the cash register was excited that I had gotten them for myself. She wrapped them up nicely and handed them to me carefully, wishing me a great evening and to enjoy my roses.

 

After we devoured the Pesto Spaghetti Squash, I’m talking to my mom about trying to eat healthy and cut the carbs. She tells me that she found this alternative to shell pasta made from chickpeas. I had to check the ingredients just to make sure. Ingredients: Chickpeas, Tapioca, Pea Protein, Xanthan Gum. It’s also advertised as gluten free. So, we decided to use up some of the leftover Velveeta cheese and make “healthy” mac and cheese. Banza also makes other types of pasta.

 

American Arabesque: A Celebration of Culture Art Exhibition. The curator, Amr Mounib, described it perfectly when he said, ” Seeing the works of so many talented Arab American artists in one exhibition—including Egyptian, Iraqi, Kurdish, Lebanese, Palestinian, Saudi Arabian, and Syrian—is a rare and wonderful opportunity to experience the artists’ passionate love of the land, and their striving for peace, freedom, and happiness expressed through a variety of artistic mediums. This unique collection reflects the diversity and richness of Arab culture.”

 

Over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, we decided to take a road trip to New Jersey and New York City! Our primary purpose was to attend an engagement party. Being so close to NYC, we just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to eat our way through Patterson, NJ and part of NYC. We started off at an engagement party, where they had some delicious kabsa (rice and lamb).

 

There’s a place in Patterson called Nablus Sweets. They have a delicious knafeh. If you’re in the area, check it out. They’ve got tons of other sweets too.

 

After a pitstop at Nablus Sweets, we hit up a local shisha place. There, I had some interesting kubbeh niyyeh. It tasted like they mixed the raw meat and bulgar with tomato paste.

 

It’s a fact that falafel always tastes good at 1:30am, Mamoun’s was no exception. I also got a shawarma sandwich. Don’t let the half pitas fool you, it’s stuffed with lamb, tahini sauce and turnips.

 

Day #2, we made our way into NYC for brunch at Friedman’s. Try the blueberry pancakes. It’s fluffy perfection. The pastrami is also to die for. 

 

Seriously amazing hot chocolate at at Jacques Torres Chocolate. They’ve even got a spiced hot chocolate, perfect for our freezing cold walk through Soho.

 

I wish we had more time to spend in NYC, but I’ve realized that no matter how much time you have, there are too many places to try. Until next week …. follow along on Instagram

Pesto Spaghetti Squash

Pesto Spaghetti Squash

 

I’m trying really hard to stay healthy (read as: cut carbs) but it’s just so hard. I love carbs. I especially love bread and pasta and rice and all those delicious things that add inches to my thighs when I eat too much. We’re on week 2 of 2017 and I’m doing pretty well so far. I’ve been going to the gym, taking a healthy breakfast to work — and actually eating it, I’ve been packing my lunches, filling up on veggies, fruit and protein. Yes, I’ve been having some cheat meals. But come on, I need to live a little!

I don’t have anything against veggies, I just prefer to have the carbalicious version. In the warmer months, I was all about the zoodles, zucchini cut into a noodle-like texture. If you loved zoodles, you’re going to really like spaghetti squash. Yea, it’s another vegetable, but it’s naturally stringy and makes for … you guessed it … the perfect spaghetti noodle substitute. While you can go with the classic tomato sauce and meatballs, I invite you to try some different variations. Most recently, I experimented with Pesto Spaghetti Squash. If you love pesto, this is recipe for you. The most time consuming part of the Pesto Spaghetti Squash recipe is roasting the spaghetti squash, 50 minutes to be exact. Other than that, it’s smooth sailing and so healthy. As matter of fact, if you don’t take any part of this recipe except how to roast spaghetti squash, I have no issue with that!

Feel free to use pre-packaged basil pesto, or if you have some extra time, whip up my parsley pesto. My parents wanted grilled chicken in their squash, while I opted for meatless. It’s delicious either way. If you feel you need some added protein, grill some chicken or sauté some shrimp and Ta-Da! 

Pesto Spaghetti Squash

Pesto Spaghetti Squash

Pesto Spaghetti Squash

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 Spaghetti Squash
  • 1-2 tablespoons Olive Oil, for brushing
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup Pesto (use my Parsley Pesto Recipe LINK or use pre-packaged)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. Cut spaghetti squash in half, the long way (it's easier to cut if you've microwaved the squash, whole, for 1 minute)
  3. Remove the seeds, and the squishy insides. Don't worry, the "spaghetti" comes from the flesh
  4. Place face-up on parchments paper lined baking sheet
  5. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt
  6. Bake for 50 minutes on a middle rack
  7. Meanwhile, if you're making pesto, this is the time to do it
  8. Remove squash from the oven
  9. Using a fork carefully pull at the flesh until it becomes shredded -- resembling spaghetti noodles and place in a medium bowl. Save the squash shells.
  10. In a medium bowl, mix the shredded squash and pesto until combined
  11. Scoop the pesto squash back into the shells and serve
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This Week on Instagram

We made it through the first full week of 2017. So far so good. It’s also the second installation of “This week on Instagram,” and I have so many things to share! I did a ton of eating out and not as much recipe testing. I’m really excited to share my delicious experiences at the restaurants in the DMV (that’s DC, Southern Maryland, and Northern Virginia).

 

I found this amazingly easy recipe for dog treats Best part? I already had everything in my kitchen. I couldn’t find my bone-shaped cookie cutter, so I went with stars, which actually yields more pieces to break off when you’re teaching new tricks.

 

Did I mentioned we have a dog? Everyone, meet Leia. Really, she’s my brother’s dog. What’s his is mine, right? Tell me she’s not the most adorable thing in the world.

 

I just found out someone at work is going through a really rough breakup. She’s the sweetest, and I wanted to bring her a little bit of joy. So I decided to pull together a Cheer Up Kit. Contents include: Bottle of Wine, Godiva Chocolate, Buddha Board, Instant Happy Journal, and a card with a little note inside. I left it at her desk and she was the happiest I had seen her in a while. It’s the little things. 

 

I had my very first ramen experience, and it wasn’t ramen from the 10 for $1 packets. Chaplin’s in DC is an interesting place – I’d say more hipster than authentic Japanese. I highly recommend checking it out. Their cocktails are fun too.

 

It seems like I’ve been on the Asian food bandwagon this week. With looming snow on the way (it was a false alarm on the snow front Thursday night by the way), it was the perfect freezing cold day for steamy Pho.

 

We got our first snow of the season! It was beautiful. Unfortunately it fell on a Saturday, so we didn’t get a snow day.

 

OH MY GOSH. Hen Quarter is amazing. I loved every bit of it from the biscuits, to the fried chicken skins, to the chicken and waffles. And I ended off that dinner with a spiced hot chocolate, because it was 19 F out!

 

I love this little gem of a place in Annandale. They have a mix of Swiss and German food, and their berner rösti (potato pancake) is yummy, especially with the melted cheese and poached egg. You’ve got to get on their bread bandwagon too. Yums.

Until next week …. follow along on Instagram

New Year’s Champagne Pancakes

Champagne Pancakes

Now that 2016 is behind us, it’s time to start the New Year off right. Has anyone actually gone to the gym this week? I did! Now that we made it through week 1 of exercise and eating right, it’s time to celebrate, again, with Champagne Pancakes. Come on … you’re entitled to a cheat day, or two.

Leftover bottles of New Year’s champagne? No problem. Don’t put them away just yet. While you may have opted to just pour champagne into you morning glass of orange juice for an instant mimosa, consider saving some for your pancakes. Say what?? Yes! Boozy champagne pancakes. Before you write off champagne pancakes, you have to try them. The bubbles give the pancakes added fluffiness, while the champagne frosting is a fun substitute for syrup. You’ll find that it’s a similar consistency and just so fun with sprinkles on top! So pour yourself a mimosa and start your first weekend of 2017 off with a breakfast celebration.

I loved these pancakes so much, they may just become a new celebratory breakfast tradition. There are so many things to celebrate. Just think of the possibilities: Birthday Champagne Pancakes, Congrats on Your New Job Champagne Pancakes, Bridal Shower Champagne Pancakes, Valentine’s Day Champagne Pancakes, Graduation (College+) Champagne Pancakes, Wedding Day Champagne Pancakes, Just Bought A House Champagne Pancakes, My Best Friend Just Got Engaged Champagne Pancakes… the possibilities are endless. Call them whatever you want, as long as you’re celebrating.

 

Champagne Pancakes

 

New Year’s Champagne Pancakes

Yield: About 12-14 pancakes

Ingredients

    For the Pancakes
  • 2 cups Original Bisquick® mix
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • Cooking Spray
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 3/4 - 1 cup Champagne
  • For the Topping
  • 1 16oz package Vanilla Frosting
  • 3-4 Tablespoons Champagne

Instructions

    For the Pancakes
  1. Heat griddle or skillet over a medium-high heat
  2. Meanwhile place all pancake ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until smooth
  3. Spray the griddle or skillet with cooking spray
  4. Pour batter onto the griddle/skillet and cook until the outer edges are dry and bubbles start to form. I use a ¼ cup measure to make the perfect size.
  5. Using a spatula, flip the pancake over and cook until golden brown ( 1-2 minutes)
  6. Remove from the heat and set aside
  7. Repeat until the batter is finished
  8. Top with champagne frosting and sprinkles
  9. For the topping
  10. Empty the contents of the frosting into a small bowl
  11. Add champagne
  12. Whisk until combined
  13. Spoon onto each pancake and top with sprinkles
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This Week on Instagram

It’s a new year. Happy 2017!

With the New Year, I’m happy to introduce a new feature to Measuring Cups, Optional. Starting today, I’ll be posting a weekly piece called “This (last) Week on Instagram.” For everyone who follows Measuring Cups, Optional on Instagram — THANK YOU! — you know that I am always in the kitchen working on a new project and most of the time, those projects don’t make it onto the blog. There are a number of reasons why that is, but I don’t want my readers, who don’t necessarily follow me on Instagram, to miss out. Especially on some of the fantastic recipes I test out from other food bloggers. Aside from just tons of food, there’s a sprinkle of the fun things I do. In the spirit of the oversharing society we’ve become, you’ll get a weekly dose of MCO happenings in one convenient post.

Popovers

Monday = Federal Government Holiday = more sleep and more cooking. I made two dozen of my popovers to take to a waffle brunch on Monday and they were a total hit! A friend convinced me that they were “protein-packed” since they had so many eggs. Sure, they’re also packed with gluten and cheese. But they taste amazing!

 

 

Breakfast

The holidays, from Thanksgiving on, have really turned my eating habits upside down. So, about midweek, I decided to get my “healthy” breakfast back on. As you can see, I added a granola, chia and flax seed mix.

 

 

 

Mom and I made it out to the National Christmas Tree, and it was beautiful! My favorite part is walking along and looking at all the state trees. Can you imagine how proud each of these groups were to have their ornaments featured in Washington, DC for thousands of people to see?!

 

 

Honey Pig is hands down, one of my favorite places for Korean BBQ. Get the bulgogi, you’ll thank me later.

 

 

On my day off, mom dragged me to cycling at 9:15am. I was cranky and moody, but felt like a superstar at the end of the 50 minute workout.

 

 

 

I love ice skating! When I was a kid, I took skating lessons and was convinced I’d be the next Tara Lipinski My skills have degraded over the years …

 

 

We celebrated New Years Eve morning with Champagne Pancakes – Boozy Champagne Pancakes are coming to the blog soon! UPDATE: Champagne Pancakes recipe can be found here

 

Until next week …. follow along on Instagram 

 

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