Yum Peaceful Cooking: February 2014

Friday, February 28, 2014

Breakfast PB and Brie Panini and a Van's Natural Foods #Giveaway

If you love peanut butter and banana sandwiches, you will love this breakfast. If you love cheese, you will especially love this breakfast. If you love natural, non GMO, whole grain products, you will REALLY love this breakfast. If gluten-free is something you need or desire....got you covered in that option as well.

Let's talk about Van's Natural Foods for a minute here. Van's Foods are no stranger to this household. My daughters have been enjoying their gluten-free waffles for quite some time now (blueberry is a favorite). I love that I can pronounce every ingredient. Plus....they're kosher, all natural, egg free, dairy free, corn free. Getting samples and coupons for Van's Foods was so much fun! They have a whole line of gluten free snack bars and gluten-free crackers and chips (totally yummy!) and so much more.

Here's a reminder of what I did with the their snack bars...I Heart Chocolate

Are you pumped to possibly win coupons to help you discover the wonderfulness of Van's Foods? Hang in there...

Back to my breakfast panini. I chose whole grain (instead of the gluten-free) so that my daughters wouldn't eat them before I got a chance to use them (it happened with the gluten-free chips and snack bars that Van's sent me. I needed a safeguard of some sort. A mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do). You can totally use the gluten-free product for this recipe.

Not sure if you can really call it a recipe actually. It's so simple. No measuring needed. Super easy and way good!

Breakfast PB and Brie Panini

2 Van's Natural Foods Whole Grain Organic Waffles (or any variety you prefer)
1 banana sliced thin
Peanut butter
Brie Cheese sliced thin

Take your frozen waffles (still frozen...do not defrost) and spread peanut butter on one (two if you prefer...no set rules here). Cover one with thinly sliced brie and then layer your bananas over the cheese.

Heat a skillet over medium high heat and melt a dab of butter.

Place your waffle sandwich in the pan (or if you have a panini maker, use that). place another skillet on the sandwich to press it down. Let sizzle for a couple of minutes, until golden brown and flip...covering again with the skillet.

Continue cooking until golden brown. Remove and enjoy!

If you want to really make it decadent, add some maple syrup......

All that melty brie with the peanut butter and banana...soooo good! And the healthy waffle just takes away any guilt you could possibly have from eating a breakfast treat such as this.

So, what am I giving away? 5 coupons for free Van's Natural Foods, dry and frozen products. The goal here is to help you continue your healthy eating goal for the year. If you haven't made that a goal, it's not too late to start!

To enter, leave a comment telling me which product you would get first with your coupons. This is a mandatory entry. There are lots of additional ways to enter to earn more chances.

Tell your friends (because you care about their health too).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is open to US residents only. This giveaway will run from Friday, February 28, 2014 through Tuesday, March 4, 2014 (11:59 pm PT). Winner will be notified within 48 hours of the close of the contest and given 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. 

I was not compensated for this post, however Van's Natural Foods supplied me with samples and coupons for their product.  They are also supplying 5 coupons for free product (dry and frozen goods) for the giveaway.  All opinions are my own.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Blackberry Margarita - Cheers! #NationalMargaritaDay

Happy National Margarita Day! 

Now this is my kind of day! Many of you may (or may not) know that margaritas are my drink of choice. If we're going out for dinner and are planning on Mexican food, I choose the restaurant based on how good their margaritas are.

Most often though, I make my own at home. And I never use a mix. Making a fresh fruit margarita in your own kitchen is simple, tastes better than any restaurant, and you get to control how much they're going to knock your socks off!

And this one will knock your socks off. Don't let that pretty fuchsia color fool you. She's a beauty, but beware...

Blackberry Margarita
Inspired by  The Pioneer Woman
Makes 8

4 cups fresh blackberries, plus more for garnish if desired
1 1/4 cup sugar divided
juice from 1 1/2 limes divided
zest for 1/2 lime
2 cups tequila
1/2 cup orange liqueur (I used Citronge)
1 cup club soda or lime soda such as sprite
1 lime cut into wedges

In a medium saucepan, combine the blackberries, 1/4 sugar and the juice from 1/2 lime. Simmer over low heat, covered, for about 25 minutes.

(if you notice....I zest the lime before squeezing.. Its kinda hard to zest a squeezed lime and I hate to waste them)

Strain, pressing as much of the berry juice through a fine mesh strainer as possible. Allow to cool in the fridge. If you don't mind the little seeds, you can skip this step, but you'll still need to let it cool.

Combine 1/2 cup of sugar and the lime zest in a wide, shallow bowl. Something wide enough for you to to dip the rim of your glass in.

The hardest part is done. Now for the main event....

In a large pitcher, combine the cooled blackberry puree, tequila, orange liqueur, remaining 1/2 sugar, club soda, and juice from 1 lime.

Using a lime wedge, wet the rim of a glass, dip into the sugar zest mixture, coating the rim all the way around.

Fill a blender half way with ice, pour enough margarita mixture to about level with the ice and buzz away for a nice blended fresh Blackberry Margarita!

Enjoy your celebration of National Margarita Day - Cheers!!!

Here are some other amazing recipes to help you celebrate. Some are beverages and others are treats with a margarita twist:


  • Blackberry Margarita from Cooking for My Peace of Mind

  • Chili Lime Margarita from Curious Cuisiniere

  • Chocolate Margaritas from The Texan New Yorker

  • Creamsicle Margaritas from Savvy Eats 

  • Frozen Mango Margarita from Noshing with the Nolands 

  • Lilikoi Margarita with Li Hung Mui from The Little Ferraro Kitchen 

  • Margaritas Gone Wild from Delaware Girl Eats 

  • Mixed Berry Margarita from Kudos Kitchen By Renee 

  • Mom's Wicked Margarita from Desserts Required 

  • Pomegranate Margarita from Daily Dish Recipes 

  • Spicy Raspberry Frozen Margarita from The Weekend Gourmet  

  • Tamarind Margaritas from girlichef 

  • The Great Grapefruit Margarita from La Cocina de Leslie  

  • Tim G's Margarita from Sidewalk Shoes 

  • Margarita Bites:

    • Baked Margarita Chicken Wings from Healthy. Delicious. 

    • Chambord Margarita Macarons from The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen 

    • Margarita Cake with Sugar Cookie Crust from Gotta Get Baked 

    • Margarita Cheesecake Bars from Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks 

    • Margarita Cupcakes from The Foodie Army Wife  

    • Margarita Donuts from Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen 

    • Margarita Mousse from Cindy's Recipes and Writings

    • Margarita Shrimp from That Skinny Chick Can Bake 

    • Margarita Shrimp Tacos from Supper for a Steal 

    • Strawberry Margarita Sweet Rolls from The Dutch Baker's Daughter 

    • Top Shelf (Margarita) Truffles from Culinary Adventures with Camilla 
    • Wednesday, February 12, 2014

      I Heart Chocolate with Van's Foods Snacks

      It's almost Valentine's Day and everywhere you look, there's chocolates and candies. Which are cute and tasty but not what my girls would want to eat. I needed to come up with an alternative plan (something other than the cute little socks covered in hearts that I got them).

      Chocolate is always good...especially dark chocolate. Good quality chocolate. Ok, wait...let me back up a minute.

      Van's Natural Foods recently sent me some boxes of new snacks they've recently launched.... PB&J Sandwich Bars. Gluten-free PB&J Sandwich Bars to be exact. They're goal? To help us stick to that 'I'm going to eat healthier this year' resolution. They couldn't have come at a better time, cuz to be honest, it won't be long before summer is here (and you know what that means). If you fell off the wagon...get back on. It's ok. We won't tell.

      So, I got these boxes of PB&J Sandwich Bars...two flavors: blueberry and strawberry. They were really good. So good that my daughters ate them all before I could do anything with them. They tasted like little peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And they didn't have that intense weird sweetness that you find in other snack bars.

      No product to play with meant a trip to the market to hunt them down. These babies are so new that my local markets don't have them yet. You can bet that when I see them...I will buy them! Meanwhile, I purchased another snack bar that they make...Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chewy Granola. Also gluten-free with only 11 grams of sugar (cane sugar is the only added sugar in this product). Perfect for my Valentine plans.

      I Heart Chocolate

      Grab a bag of good dark chocolate and a tablespoon of shortening or coconut oil.

      Place the bowl over a double boiler or a sauce pan with boiling water, off the heat. Stir until melted.

      You don't have to add the oil, but it does make the chocolate smoother and shiny.

      Take a few snack bars and cut them into 1 inch squares.

      Place one on a fork

       And dunk. (Kinda makes me want to be one of those squares)

      Place on a wire rack. If you have some cute little hearts, stick them on before the chocolate hardens.

      Once they've hardened some (they won't get super hard cuz of the oil) give them to your true love, knowing that you're not loading them up with junk. A true gesture of love.

      Before I let you go...I want to remind you that I'm having a Giveaway that will be ending on Monday, February 17th,2014. Hurry on over to ENTER for your chance to win 1 pound of Ceylon Cinnamon and get my recipe for Milk & Honey Cinnamon Raisin Bread

      Aaaaand, one more thing. Keep an eye out. I will be posting again about Vans Healthy Foods and it will include another GIVEAWAY! I can't tell you what I'll be giving away yet...cuz it's a secret. 

      Meanwhile, have a Happy Valentine's Day. If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with. Even if its yourself. (Sorry....I know...that song will now be stuck in your head. I know this cuz it's stuck in mine too).  

      I was not compensated for this post, however Van's Natural Foods supplied me with samples and coupons for their products. All opinions are my own.

      Friday, February 7, 2014

      Milk and Honey Cinnamon Raisin Bread and Ceylon Cinnamon Giveaway

      Cinnamon raisin bread is a love that developed as a child and continues to this day. Although the version I had way back when, was store bought. Being able to make it at home brings a certain joy to my heart. Watching others enjoy it as well just makes my heart sing.

      One of the keys to any successful recipe is the quality of ingredients. Unbleached flour, active yeast, local organic honey, and of course cinnamon. Yes, I said cinnamon.

      My eyes have recently been opened. I have seen the light! The benefits of this lighter colored Ceylon Cinnamon that is. And I have Flavor of The Earth to thank for this culinary revelation. I had no idea! I mean, to me....cinnamon was cinnamon. You either bought the powder, or you bought the sticks. What was on the shelf, labeled as cinnamon...was it. Little did I know that the cinnamon we all most commonly purchase, called Cassia cinnamon is...well, lacking. On so many levels. Ceylon cinnamon, scientifically known as "true cinnamon" is ground from the bark of an evergreen in Sri Lanka. The main benefit and difference? Health benefits. Coumarin content for one. If you're an avid cinnamon consumer, it's recommended to stick with Ceylon in order to avoid liver damage (holy moly!!). Then there's the vitamins, antioxidants, blood sugar regulatory benefits. And seriously...the list goes on and on.

      (Ceylon on the left. Cassia on the right)

      Back to the culinary factors. The first thing you'll notice is the color. Which surprised me. In my head, I imagined it would be darker and richer. Well, it is richer. In a spicy depth sort of way. The aroma is intense (as cinnamon should be) but if you really pay attention...you'll notice less earthy (almost bark) tones and discover more rich notes of sweet citrus. Pure bliss! (I'm sitting here, repeatedly opening my jar and whiffing as I type. Just because. It's comforting and enjoyable.)

      Wouldn't you love to be able to get your hands on some? I'll tell you how....for free, in a minute. Let me show you how I made my bread first. 

      Before you begin, mix together some cinnamon sugar:

      1/4 cup sugar
      1 TB Ceylon Cinnamon

      Milk & Honey Cinnamon Raisin Bread
      Printable Version
      makes 1 loaf

      4 cups flour
      1 pk yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
      1 tsp salt
      1 1/4 cup warm milk (about 110' F)
      2 TB honey
      2 TB melted butter, plus more for brushing the top of the loaf
      2 tsp barley malt syrup (optional but does help boost the yeast and add a bit of caramel color and slight sweetness)
      1 TB cinnamon sugar (or more if desired)
      1/2 cup raisins (or more if desired)
      1 tsp raw sugar (optional)

      In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, yeast and salt. Set aside.

      In a medium sized bowl, combine the warm milk, honey, butter and barley malt syrup. Stir until honey and barley malt syrup have dissolved and blended with the liquids.

      Tip: when measuring the honey and barley malt syrup, coat the measuring utensil with oil first. This will guarantee that nothing sticks...it slides right out. 

      Pour the liquid into the flour bowl and mix well. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth.

      Note: I found this dough to be a bit on the dry side and did not need to flour my counter. I wet my hands a few times and continued to knead, thus adding a bit of water at a time without messing up the dough. If you are an experienced bread maker and can tell when you added the liquid that it's too dry, add a little water at that time, maybe a tablespoon, but not too much. 

      Form into a ball and place the dough in a greased bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise, in a draft free corner of your kitchen. 

      Grease a loaf pan.

      Once the dough has doubled in size (about an hour, depending on the room temp. Don't stress about it. It could be longer than an hour or it could be shorter) turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll the dough into an 8 x 15 rectangle. If you find that the dough bounces back and is resistant, let it rest for a few minutes and go at it again. 

      Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the rectangle and top with raisins. 

      Starting with the short end, roll the dough up and pinch to secure

      Place the log in the prepared loaf pan, pinched seam side down. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for about 45 minutes. You can tell it's done rising when you gently poke it with your finger and it leaves a slight indent. If it springs back into place right away, let it continue to rise.

      Preheat the oven to 375' F

      Brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle with raw sugar.

      Bake for 30 - 35 minutes or until a deep golden brown

      Allow to cool thoroughly before slicing. 

      This bread was so good! The crumb is soft, the crust is firm. Cinnamon and raisins inside. It doesn't even need butter. Or toasting.

      But of course that's my favorite way to eat cinnamon raisin bread. One slice (not shown) even got an extra sprinkling of more cinnamon sugar. Heavenly!

      Back to the Ceylon Cinnamon. And the giveaway! Flavor of the Earth asked me to try their Ceylon Cinnamon. They are also allowing me to .......

      GIVE AWAY 
      1 pound of Flavor of The Earth Ceylon Cinnamon!

      To enter: 
      1. Leave a comment telling me what you would make with Ceylon Cinnamon. Make sure you record your answer in the Rafflecopter widget after you leave your comment. 
      2. Visit Flavor of The Earth Amazon store and tell me which quality appeals to you the most. Make sure you record this answer in the Rafflecopter widget.
      3. Increase your chances of winning by taking advantage of the other ways you can enter! 

      a Rafflecopter giveaway

      This giveaway is open to US residents only. This giveaway will run from Saturday February 8, 2014 through Monday February 17, 2014 (11:59 pm PT). Winner will be notified within 48 hours of the close of the contest and given 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. 

      I was not compensated for this post, however Flavor of The Earth supplied me with a sample bottle of Ceylon Cinnamon.  They are also supplying 1 pound of Ceylon Cinnamon for the giveaway.  All opinions are my own.