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5 minute Chocolate Lava Cakes

These chocolate lava cakes are a new and delicious discovery here at our little apartment in Japan. I looked up several recipes on Pinterest and tried one but it wasn’t quite right so after changing a few things I think I now have the perfect, super fast, delicious and great-to-make-in-a-tiny-apartment-when-you-don’t-have-an-oven recipe! I hope you enjoy these as much as we do. And let me know what delicious variations you come up with. Happy chocolating!

 

5 minute Chocolate Lava Cakes

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup all purpose flour (強力粉 in Japan works great)
  • 6 Tablespoons sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg – beaten
  • 3 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 Tablespoon melted butter (or vegetable oil)
  • 10 chocolate chips or 2 truffles*

Directions:

In a small bowl mix together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, salt, egg, milk, and melted butter. Divide between 2 mugs, ramekins or small ceramic bowls. Push 5 chocolate chips or  1 truffle into each mug*.

Microwave on high for 1  minute 30 seconds. It will still look a little gooey but don’t over bake it!  Serve immediately. Makes 2 servings.

It’s quite fabulous with a little scoop of vanilla ice cream on top or a little sprinkled powdered sugar.

*You can also use caramels, Andes mints or peanut butter in place of the chocolate chips in the middle.

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Black Bean Salsa

Ingredients:
-1, 15 oz. can black beans (drained) or 1 cup cooked black beans
-1, 15 oz. can black-eye peas (drained) or more black beans
-1, 11 oz. can kidney beans (drained)
-1, 11 oz. can white corn (drained) or ½ cup frozen corn
-2 medium sized tomatoes, diced
-1 diced bell pepper (red, yellow, orange green..whatever you have)
-½ diced purple onion
-3 diced avocados
-½ cup Kraft Zesty Italian Salad Dressing
-chopped cilantro (to taste)
-lime juice (to taste-I use fresh squeezed)
-garlic salt (to taste)

Directions:
Mix everything together and enjoy with lime tortilla chips, on a soft taco etc.

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My tried and true, amazing classic Potato Salad

Ingredients

  • 5 pounds Yukon Gold Potatoes (about 8 Medium) Red Potatoes and Russets work as well, but Yukons are my favorite in this dish!
  • 4 whole Hard Boiled Eggs
  • 1-1/2 cup Real Mayonnaise (NOT Miracle Whip)
  • 1/4 cup Prepared Yellow  Mustard
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 8 whole Small Dill Pickles
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt (more To Taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Paprika
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped thinly (or 1 teaspoon dried chives)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery (optional, but I love the crunch it adds!)

    Preparation Instructions

    1-Boil your eggs (you can find really great and easy to follow instructions here) and let them completely cool. (I like to do this a day or 2 before if possible so there’s 1 less step.)

    2-While your eggs are boiling and cooling, wash the potatoes really well (no need to peel unless using russets.)

    3-Cut the potatoes into bite size chunks (the size you like in your potato salad), then boill until fork tender. Drain. And let them cool in large bowl in the fridge. (If you’re in a hurry you can run cold water over them, even adding ice, just be sure to drain them well and then put them in the fridge.)

    4-While the potatoes are boiling and cooling, wash and cut up your green onions and chives (kitchen shears work great for this!) If you’re using a yellow or golden onion make sure you dice it into really small pieces, unless you like bigger pieces of onion in your salad.

    4-Cut up your dill pickles and cold boiled eggs ans add them to the large bowl with the potatoes.

    5–In another smaller bowl, mix together the  mayonnaise, mustard, green onions, salt, pepper, and spices, saving a little of the chives and paprika to sprinkle over the top of the salad at the end.

    5-Pour this mixture over the potatoes, pickles and boiled eggs. Gently mix everything with out smashing the potatoes or eggs too much. Make sure all the potatoes are well covered in everything, being sure to check the potatoes at the bottom of the bowl.

    6-If you like you can transfer the salad to a pretty bowl now or keep it in the same bowl and sprinkle the salad with the rest of the chives and paprika.

    7-Cover the bowl with a tight lid or aluminum foil or plastic wrap and put in the fridge. (Potato Salad is great after it’s aged a day so if possible, make it a day a head of time and let it chill in the fridge.)

    8-Make sure your potato salad stays cool when you’re serving it and store any leftovers (not likely!) in the fridge for up to 5 days or so.  A good way to keep it cool at a picnic is to put your bowl of salad in a larger bowl that is filled with ice. You can also buy a variety of bowls that stay cold for hours, here are some examples on Amazon.

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Popping Popcorn using a glass bowl in the microwave

This is one of those “Why didn’t I know about this awesome thing earlier?!” things. We love popping popcorn seeds at our house and usually eat this snack several times a week. I love that it’s whole grain, real food, super cheap and  totally versatile so you can top it with whatever you like. (We won’t even bring up all the ways that prepackaged microwave popcorn is gross and not healthy!) My organization loving heart is always so happy when you can eliminate a kitchen appliance and use things you already have!

For those of you who don’t know about this tip, here are the instructions:

Super Simple Microwave Popcorn

1-Get a large glass bowl and pour 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels into it

2-Put a microwave safe, ceramic plate or do what I do and use your microwave cover (If you don’t have one of these you really should pick one up-very cheap (I got mine at the dollar store) and they keep your microwave nice and clean!)

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3-Microwave for 3-4 minutes, listening for when the pops are slowing down. Since the bowl and cover are clear, my girls love watching the kernels pop.

4-Enjoy with some melted butter and salt, dark chocolate drizzled over the top or whatever you like.

*Cool tips:
-If some of the kernels don’t pop, you can take them out of the popped kernels and microwave them again until most of them pop!
-If you want to easily get the unpopped kernels out of the popped ones, put a cooling rack over your bowl and hold the rack tight to the bowl while you turn them upside and shake until the unpopped kernels fall out!

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies (also has alternate real food option with honey & whole wheat)

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It’s the pumpkin time of year and I love it!  We are all big pumpkin fans at our house and pumpkin pie gets made several times through out the year for birthdays and special occasions but this time of year just begs to have pumpkin goodness as often as possible!  I’ve been on the hunt for a great pumpkin chocolate chip cookie recipe that isn’t too moist but not too try, doesn’t use shortening and is of course, simple.  I found this great one at Sallysbakingadiction.com where she has gone to great lengths to avoid the typical cakey pumpkin cookie and make a delightful chewy version I can really appreciate that!  I made it as written first (with just a few tweaks) and then also made a real food version batch that replaced the sugars with honey and the white flour for whole wheat flour.  Both versions were amazing and actually turned out quite similar.  My official taste testers (my girls and their friends) all liked both kinds equally well and couldn’t really tell the difference, which is kind of fabulous.  Now, I don’t think ALL dessert recipes have to avoid white sugar and white flour but it’s good to have a few that are a little more nutritious and filling, such as my Chocolate No Bake Cookies in your arsenal.  My kids (and my husband) think it’s so great when I let them eat this healthier cookies for breakfast.

Makes about 18 cookies

Ingredients
-1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
-1/4 cup brown sugar (or substitute 3/4 cups honey for the 2 sugars)
-1/2 white sugar
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-6 Tablespoons canned pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
-1/4 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp baking soda
-1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
-1/4 tsp ground cloves
-1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
-1 1/2 cups white flour (or substitute 2 cups whole wheat flour-more because the honey adds extra moisture)
-1 cup chocolate chips

Directions
1-Melt the butter in the microwave and pour into your mixing bowl. (I use my Kitchen Aid for this but you can do it by hand too.)

2-Mix the melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together until no brown sugar lumps remain on medium speed and then mix in the vanilla and pumpkin until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

3-Add the salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves and mix on medium until combined.  Then add the flour and mix lightly until it is all combined.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

4-Cover the dough and chill for 30 minutes or up to 2 days. The regular dough will be softer than regular chocolate chip cookie dough and the honey/whole wheat dough will be even softer.

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Regular dough on the left, honey, whole wheat dough on the right

5-Take the dough out of the fridge.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

6-Scoop the dough into balls, about 1 to 1.5 Tablespoons of each. Slightly flatten the dough balls because these cookies won’t spread much in the oven.

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7-Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes. The cookies will look very soft and underbaked. Keeping them in the oven for longer may dry them out.  Remove from the oven and press a few more chocolate chips onto the tops, if you like and  flatten out a little bit too, if you like.

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*Sally says “Allow the cookies to cool for at least 10 minutes on the cookie sheets before transferring to a wire rack.  The longer the cookies cool, the chewier they will be. I let them sit out for at least 1 hour before enjoying.  I find that their chewiness and pumpkin flavor is more prominent on day 2. Cookies stay soft, moist, and chewy stored at room temperature for up to 1 week.”  My children had to try the cookies right away so we know they are delicious with out the wait too 😉

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Banana Bread or Muffins (whole wheat and no sugar/sweetened with honey)

1/2 Cup Butter, melted
1/3 Cup Honey
2 Eggs
3 Bananas, mashed (try to keep it around 1 cup)
2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/3 Cup hot water (just out of the tap is fine)
Chocolate Chips (optional but we love them in this recipe!)
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1- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2-Grease 1 loaf pansor 2 muffins pans (for 24 muffins.) If using cupcake liners spray each liner with a little oil so the muffins won’t stick so much to the paper.
3- Melt the butter in a big, microwave safe bowl.
4- Add the rest of the ingredients to the butter. (See this tip for the honey)
5- Mix with a spoon just until everything is combined (it should still be lumpy.)
6- Pour the batter evenly into 1 loaf pan or use a long handled spoon to spoon the batter evenly into the 24 muffin cups.
7-Bake the loaf for 60-65 minutes or the muffins for 25-28 minutes.
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Ridiculously Easy and Yummy Granola

I love this stuff for breakfast, snacks, whatever.  So easy, so yummy, so healthy, so inexpensive and so versatile!  Does it get any better than that?
Ingredients
1/2 cup Coconut Oil, Butter or Olive Oil
1/2 cup Honey or real Maple Syrup (can use less if you don’t want it quite so sweet)
6 cups Oats
2 teaspoons Cinnamon (optional)
1 teaspoon Vanilla (optional)
1/2 cup Dried, Unsweetened Coconut (I love this stuff)
Nuts and dried fruit (whatever kinds you like)
1-Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
2-Put coconut oil (or butter) in big microwavable bowl and melt (skip this step if using Olive Oil.)
3-Add everything else and stir it all up until well combined.
4-Line a baking sheet with foil or a silicon baking mat (everyone should have at least one of these!)
5-Spread granola out evenly on the baking sheet.
6-Bake for 20 minutes, take the pan out and stir the granola and then bake it for 20 more minutes.
7-Let it cool and then enjoy as is or add: chocolate chips or any dried fruit or nuts you like.  It’s great as a snack or as cereal in a bowl with milk.